February 20th, 2006
The hardest job kids face today is learning good manners without seeing any.
- Fred Astaire

Bon Voyage Darko.

February 16th, 2006

It is with a heavy heart that I bid farewell to Darko Milicic today. His trade to the Orlando Magic has been completed. The deal sends Darko and Piston's backup point-guard Carlos Arroyo to Orlando for (injured) center Kelvin Cato and a first round draft pick.

The details of the draft pick are that Detroit gets Orlando's first round pick in 2007, unless Orlando has a top 5 pick whereby they keep it and Detroit gets their first round pick in 2008 regardless of position.

The article from Sportsline does the perfect job of putting Darko's tenure in Detroit into perspective:

...Milicic's future in Detroit came down to this: The Pistons' environment couldn't handle developing a project for the future while using its lineup of all-stars for championships today.

I wish him well in Orlando. I am a Darko fan, and hate to see him go, but in that system compared to the system in Detroit he will be able to see more court time.

And while Milicic could have forced a change in that environment, had his play or his attitude risen above that obstacle, he didn't.

I think attitude was the biggest problem. When Darko would get into a game early, say in the second quarter, he would play very respectably. He also had a strong summer before this season began. In the summer league he saw decent minutes and was able to establish his on court identity. It was when he had the garbage minutes at the end of a blowout victory that he would play without confidence. I cannot blame him for wanting more playing time, but I cannot condone the lack of effort on the court in the final minute(s).

Reports have often stated that the chance to play under Pistons' new coach Flip Saunders was Darko's to lose. All he had to do was work hard and show Flip that he had the desire to learn and contribute. I have no intimate knowledge of the goings-on behind the scenes of this team. I cannot say whether that happened or not or if that was why Darko never played or not. But that inference can be made. This should be a lesson he has learned and he will be better prepared for his move to Orlando.

In the end, I do believe this trade to the in Darko's best interest, though I will no longer be able to see him in Detroit's red, white and blue.

Best of luck to Darko Milicic in Orlando.

Another tale from in line at BK.

February 15th, 2006

Why do the strangest things happen at fast food locations? Should I take that as a sign to maybe seek sustenance elsewhere? Sure I would be healthier and maybe even live longer, but then what stories would I have to share? First, the guy I posted about last month and now this.

Today I was back at Burger King. There was a woman ahead of me in line. She was a tall woman, with thick black hair. Her two little brats kids were wreaking havoc across the dining room while she ordered the food. She was not a particularly attractive woman, but had enough makeup on and carried enough name brand accessories to lead me to believe there was a wealthy man somewhere who thinks she is something special. I think she is a different kind of special.

Simple order, really: Whatever she was going to binge then purge and two of those little meal thingies with the toys, you know, for the kids.

Lady: ...and two Happy Meals. NO! OH MY GOD! Kids' Meals! I mean Kids' Meals! I am soooo sorry.

She went on like this for a good 10-15 seconds. She began spouting apologies you may expect to hear if in fact the young man behind the register might take some offense to her faux pas. We all knew what she meant, and he even rang up her order as if she had done nothing.

Have you ever seen cartoons where someone asks a robot an illogical question and its head explodes? *Does Not Compute* I think this lady thought the BK employee may have the same reaction to her ordering a Happy Meal at Burger King.

Something tells me she is not the first person to walk into a Burger King and order something off the McDonalds menu and vice versa. I just hope she can recover. And her poor husband who will have to wonder what he got himself into when she weeps in his arms tonight after she confesses her sin...

7 more years.

February 14th, 2006

Jay Wright VILLANOVA, Pa. -- Villanova coach Jay Wright signed a seven-year contract extension Tuesday, one day after his Wildcats defeated No. 1 Connecticut.

The contract will keep Wright at the school through the 2012-13 season. Athletic director Vince Nicastro said the agreement represents a "significant commitment" to Villanova basketball.

The No. 4 Wildcats (20-2, 10-1 Big East) beat the Huskies 69-64 Monday night.

"We now have a long-term commitment, a new practice facility planned, a newly expanded conference and renovations planned for the Pavilion," Wright said. "There's nowhere our staff and my family would rather be."

In four seasons, Wright has led the Wildcats to a 95-56 record and took them to the round of 16 in last year's NCAA tournament.

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

The hardwood.

February 14th, 2006

In the collegiate setting, the hardwood floor is almost exclusively reserved for the players and their coaches. The rare occasions when the court plays host to others come after "The Big Win".

This Big Win phenomenon occurs as the home team, a significant statistical underdog, successfully pulls off the upset. The upset can be triggered by hard work, determination, playing as a team, lucky shots and good home-court officiating. Whatever the catalyst, the societal norm is for the underdog fan-base to leave their seats, run out to center court, jump up and down, and then wait to be ushered away when the jubilation of triumph has quieted.

The process, though "tradition" if you care to say so, is flawed. There needs to be new life brought to celebration. If I were any good at math or even had the free time to pretend I was, I would do this myself. Alas, I am not and I have not. I do have the starting point for the revolution, however.

An algorithm. A mathematical computation that results in either "rush the floor" or "stay firmly in your seat".

Last night the Villanova Wildcats beat the #1 ranked Connecticut Huskies. Villanova, though highly ranked, was technically the underdog, despite playing in Philadelphia. The game was not on Villanova's campus, but at a bigger facility 30 minutes away to accommodate more fans. After the victory was sealed against the #1 team and time expired, the fans for the #4 team rushed the floor.

Villanova is currently ranked #4 in both polls and there are a handful of people around the country who wonder if maybe they should be higher than that. All I am saying is that while it is still a big win, it was not so out of the realm of possibility. Very few people, if any, are left with the taste of "Oh my. I can't believe they won that game." If there was more of a discrepancy between rankings, I would appreciate the enthusiasm. That was Villanova's game to win, and they did. And they won it at home, for all intents and purposes.

There are some people that watch and/or are a part of the professional football family that say touchdown celebration is unnecessary. I firmly believe their mantra "act like you have been there before" applies in this situation as well. This was only the fifth time in Villanova's history that they have beaten a #1 team, but it is a program accustomed to winning big games.

A discussion that I have oft had at the end of college basketball games is about student-section chanting. When the game is drawing to a close and the underdog is set to win, fans, typically student-fans, may be heard chanting "over-rated". My argument against this is simply that it makes your team look less impressive. "Wow, you guys lost to us! You really must not be as good as people think!" I think rushing the court sends the same message. As if we, as fans, did not think it possible to beat this team. Does that not send the wrong message?

When the home team is unranked or at least 10 seeds lower than the ranked visiting team.

When you weight the conference and overall record of the visiting team, more highly if they are undefeated.

Perhaps when the visiting team is favored by 10+ points.

There are many factors that may be employed in our algorithm, but ultimately we need to change the face of celebration. Let us be more selective of the situations in which we rush the court. I know many smaller schools, and often bigger schools in down years for the program, never know the adrenaline spike experienced while rushing the court. That is a shame; I feel it is something everyone should be able to experience, however I know it does not make sense to allow it.

The hardwood is reserved for the players and coaches. We must only trespass on their territory when the timing is perfect. It is a special occasion when the opportunity to rush the court presents itself; we should not desensitize ourselves to what it truly symbolizes.

The hardwood is sacred. Tread lightly and only when deemed acceptable.

Turbulence

February 10th, 2006

On my flight home last night from Las Vegas I woke up to our plane shaking it like a salt shaker. Turbulence is something that I will never enjoy, but it does not bother me very much anymore. That may be a sign that I fly too often, or maybe something else. Last night, however, was a LOT of turbulence. The captain came over the speakers and said that air traffic control had suggested we try three different altitudes in search of relief, but none proved any better than the rest. The best estimate he could give was that we would endure another 20 minutes of bumpy travel after however many had gone by already.

Lucky for me, I was asleep through what was apparently most of it, but the poor guy next to me was a different story. I got the impression he does not travel in the air very frequently, and may not again for a long time after last night. I woke up to him with his arms outstretched, hands "white-knuckled", grasping the headrest of the seat in front of him.

When we got off the plane, Kyle told me about his unfortunate situation. He said the woman next to him decided that in the face of turbulence she would widen her base for what seemed a lower sense of gravity. This process entailed her widening herself out and spilling out of her own seat and flowing over into his.

"Did you see the couple still sitting in my row when you got off the plane?" he asked.

"That woman just spent the last 4 hours sitting on me."

It was not the most pleasant flying experience.

Home Team Conspiracy.

February 2nd, 2006

I have had suspicions before and even though I lack concrete proof, I am now convinced that sports complexes around the country sell each and every ticket with the exception of the 2-4 directly behind each coach's spot on the bench. At football games, there really is no opportunity, but I have seen this happen at multiple hockey games, many basketball games, and even the occassional baseball game (I do not watch much baseball).

I have not noticed this happening at the collegiate level, which is nice; at least there is still someplace we can go and see a game in its pure state. Professional sports are another story. The next game you watch on TV, when they cut to the coach of either participating team, look over his shoulder. Without a doubt you will see a prime, text-book example of cleavage.

cleav·age (klē'vĭj) n.

1. The act of splitting or cleaving.
2. The state of placing one's buxom breastesses on a platter for the world to enjoy.

So here is the actual conspiracy: Those tickets remain unoccupied though they are "sold" in the eyes of the box office. The average fan cannot purchase those tickets; they are reserved by stadium staff. At the beginning of each game the staff keeps an eagle eye out for low cut tops, push up bras, and the like. Once "she" is found, probably the best approach is to ask her companion(s) if they would like complimentary upgrades to their tickets...for subtlety. Conveniently, the staff memebers lead them to seats directly behind the bench. She would never suspect a thing if her beau gets better tickets and now he looks like he is kind of a big deal. They change seats and no one is any the wiser.

Keep an eye out.

Mark my words.

Shady dealings I tell you.

...and I love it.

Eighty One

January 26th, 2006

So Wil calls me Monday morning to ask if I wanted to meet up for lunch. But he is not capable of just asking outright, so we make idle chitchat at first. That would be fine in most cases, but I have interesting friends. (That and my disclaimer is that I have not been getting much sleep lately.)

Wil: Do you think you have ever scored 81 points at Lifetime in a week?
Me: Ummm, maybe.

Well, let me think about that. I used to go to the gym 3-4 nights a week and would play sometimes for up to 4 hours straight. I guess it is possible that in a 7 day period I played enough games where I amassed 81 points, sure. So I explain this a little and figure he would be satisfied.

Wil: You have no idea what I am talking about, do you?
Me: Not even a little bit.
Wil: It is all over Sportscenter.
Me: I have been at work and swamped since 5:50AM.
Wil: It is even on CNN News!
Me: Congratulations. Alas, I have not made my way to a TV since you told me it was on ESPN.
Wil: Kobe dropped 81 last night on Toronto.
Me: Oh. OH! Holy [expletive deleted]!

Silly me. On Sunday he as telling me about the outrageous day he had Saturday at the gym and the hours upon hours of basketball he played and how he was coerced to play under duress and blah blah blah. As soon as he asked if I thought I had ever scored 81 points in a week I thought he had so little to do at work on Monday that he was replaying each game from Saturday in his mind. He would have seen each shot he had taken. He would have added up each basket he made and totaled them to 81 points. It would be pretty amazing to do that in a series of 5 on 5 games played to 11 straight up.

So the moral of the story is that maybe my brain could use a little tune up. Maybe...

My brief suit story.

January 25th, 2006

Discussion about groomsmen attire for my brother's wedding began to involve me about two weeks ago. At lunch with my mom I was told that the plan was black suits. Our ties would match us to the bridesmaids. The idea of tuxedos was thrown out early by bride and groom as too formal; the wedding is outdoors in the summer.

After some conversation and a little more research we convinced my brother and his bride-to-be that a tan suit was more appropriate. Since I found the suit, one that happened to only be on sale for another 10 days, my job was to disseminate the information to everyone my brother honored with an invitation to stand up for him in the wedding.

The suit is $200 down from $300, but only for 10 more days. Go buy it in a hurry, I told them. They could wait, but why? Following my own advice, I went to the store where I knew I could find the suit yesterday.

"Can you order one for me?"
"What size?"
"52 extra long."
"Hmmm. That's doubtful."

This is the suit I went to bat for, it HAS to be available in my size.

"Let me check the computer."

Yes, please do that.

"Ok. If you want it, I have to know right now. I have ONE and only one in stock."

That is only one suit in my size across all stores nationwide. Order me the suit, please.

It should be in tomorrow. Glad I came in when I did.

I have reconsidered.

January 18th, 2006

I love to travel. I love everything about it: seeing new places, getting away, meeting new people, eating at new restaurants, taking pictures to remember the places I have been. All of it.

A few weeks ago I made the declaration that I would like to start traveling abroad. I have only been to two countries outside of the United States, and many of you might not take me too seriously when I tell you that one is lowly Canada. The good news is that I am able to say that my experience in Canada is not limited to driving an hour south and heading into Windsor, nor is it to any attempts to reduce driving time between Michigan and the Northeastern US.

My other trip was to England for a 10 day trip with my family when I was about 15 years old. While we were able to stay very busy and cover much ground in the time I was there I would still like to go back. There were a few things specifically I would like the opportunity to see that were not feasible due to time constraints on the first trip, and many other things I am sure I do not even know about.

In my adventures abroad I would like to start with a return trip to London before I hit mainland Europe. For the most part, other places do not excite me as much as Europe. The exception is that I would truly love to visit Australia and New Zealand.

I have not reconsidered in the fact that I no longer desire to travel to these places, but rather in the timeframe I follow to get me there. While before I wanted to begin saving money for my first trip to Europe (hopefully) in 2007, I believe now I would prefer to push that back.

I know this will sound horribly boring to most of you, but that which I have chosen as having higher priority than Europe is right here at home. I want to travel to other cities in other states that I have never visited. Ultimately I would like to be able to say that I have been to all 50 states, but that is secondary to my goal to see more places.

I actually proposed this very idea to at least one of my friends from college. Since a handful of use scattered when handed our diplomas, reunion now requires travel. Rather than meeting in Philadelphia year after year, I suggested that we pick a new city each year. This would accomplish many things in my mind. No one would feel slighted because they have to pay travel expenses since everyone has to pay them. In other words, the people who did not move out of Philadelphia after graduation have to buy a plane ticket, too. We all have the opportunity to visit someplace we have never been. As years go by the chances of us finding a city where no one has been yet we all want to visit will dwindle, but that is perfectly acceptable. And, if anyone is concerned at all, you may leave any inhibitions you may have about your reputation in a local environment at home. We will all be away from that and able to enjoy ourselves relatively freely. I know my reasons do not sound like much, but I also do not think they need to BE much.

Though I tell you of my proposed idea to make these periodic trips, I do not take credit for the travel as it has come up. My friends from college have been able to travel to various parts of the country for different events, thus serving as a veritable reunion. For example they were together this past weekend in Austin, Texas following the Villanova University men's basketball team. The truth of the situation is consistent with the idea that I had proposed way back when. The problem is that while it was an idea well received and even in practice to a large extent, I have not been able to enjoy it. Constraints placed on my time (work and school) have kept me from making the trips.

As I know my schedule remains busy, I need to plan my trips when I am able. I have never really sat down and made a list of the cities I want to see period, let alone in any particular order. I think it is better this way anyhow; I am freer to decide based upon mood, seasonality and the fluctuating cost of plane fare.

I guess it would be nice to find someone to come along. I would prefer it that way, actually. I am looking forward to it already. Europe can wait. After all, it is not going anywhere. So do not be surprised if I call you and ask you to meet me in Seattle, Washington.