Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Baseball dominates this "Opening Day"

Happy "Opening Day" everybody!

Yes, notice my use of quotation marks. I get what Bud Selig is trying to accomplish, noting the appearances of Ichiro Suzuki of the M's (who, four hours after the game ended, is still running around the bases at Tokyo Dome I hear) and Kurt Suzuki of the A's, and not taking the opener away from a team in a big-market city that changes the subway and the bus schedules for Opening Day. Expanding MLB appeal beyond a small handful of players is fine, but the ridiculous part is that these two teams will return to the States next week and play more exhibition games before their next ones that count. Does Bud ever look at these initiatives on paper before actually making them reality? Another reason why we need Bob Costas to be the commissioner ...

... Okay, first I had to wrap my head around calling them the "Miami Marlins", and seeing them (and Ozzie Guillen) in their new unis. Then I had to adjust to the fact that I have to drive farther into the sweaty bowels of town to go to a game at the new "Marlins Park". Now this ... who the hell is Giancarlo Stanton? You mean Mike, right? What, his mom calls him Cruz? Okay, enough of this, I can only take so much change. The only change left is to win the division. Won't happen? They said the same thing about playing major-league ball in a place where it rains most summer nights ...

A group led by Magic Johnson bought the L.A. Dodgers for two billion clams. Johnson said his role would include recruiting free agents, and while he can't talk hitting or pitching with players, he "can talk winning" and that he'll help "sell the Dodger brand" to fans. Considering all he bought, he's got plenty to sell now. Also saw the new group gets a portion of the Dodger Stadium parking lots, "valued at $300 million." Geez, even parking spaces are expensive in SoCal (and how much clamato would $2 billion getchya?) ...

I'm so stoked! The Olympics are in Rio in 2016!
Clothing optional, baby!

For the Olympics this summer in London, the committee will no longer "require" beach volleyball players to wear bikinis, thus allowing competitors from "more modest countries" to put teams in the 24-team field. Wait, this was a requirement? For the players, maybe. For me (and then other 3 billion men on Earth) we call it a luxury ...

I had North Carolina winning the Big Dance. Losing them knocked me out of the 99th percentile on Yahoo ... to the 98th. I still win my office pool if 1. Kansas beats Ohio State AND 2. Kentucky does NOT win the tournament. If I collect, duck, as that'll bring increased chances of low-flying farm animals.

Read my ill-thought out random thoughts at

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Roars from a Tiger, Solar Bears, and Lions (MLS bound?)

Before I get to players that would be staying and playing in Orlando, I'll get to the golf tournament that just blew through.

Good for Tiger Woods winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational last weekend, and looking like his old professional ball whackin' and huntin' self by winning impressively. He got torn down -- physically, mentally and emotionally -- over the last 2 1/2 years or so, and it's good to see him get back to the top. Granted, he did a lot of the damage by himself and to himself, but aside from being the prototypical star with the challenging handling that goes with it, I don't think Tiger is a bad guy, he just got misguided for a while.

We'll see how well his game and his body are plugged in in two weeks at the Masters. Woods and Rory McIlroy, who goes back to Augusta to try and avenge his Sunday fold a year ago, are the prohibitive favorites, and I'm sure Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Phil Mickelson and Hunter Mahan will log some leaderboard time. I wish it was this weekend.

Here's some news from teams who will be playing full seasons in town ...

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Walls ... Come Tumbalin' Down ...

Here's how I went about scoring the video of the Amway Arena demolition ...

I arrived downtown about 6:15 and planned to walk up the onramp and shoot from the shoulder of I-4, but as I got closer I noticed people actually walking toward the building with no interference, so I followed thinking I had time to kill. I chatted a guy up (who ended up watching from in front of the School Board building right across the street) when I noticed the parking garage behind it might be a good vantage point, and nobody restricted access to that, either. So up the stairwell I went until I was higher than the building in front of me.

When the last charges that took out the roof fired, the garage shoot, and then down she came. Much of the debris cloud headed our way, and the air smelled quite chalky for a while. I've got to believe that of folks on the ground, I had to be closer than the TV stations other than the ones who put a couple small cameras inside the building. Security was fairly tight as the time neared, but I successfully evaded. Afterwards, they let people walk right up to the carcass and take their pictures. Amelia Street was a complete mess afterwards, but streetsweepers moved in quickly to start the cleanup.

So here's the whole video. First charges fire at about 2:45. Building comes down about 15 seconds later. At the very end (if you make it through the cloud footage), I get chased out of the area by a cop.

Afterwards, when I got to the car I parked at Orange and Livingston (covered in dust) I was loading up and saw Paul Kennedy from Sun Sports! He was walking with a purpose and talking on his phone, so I gave him a "Go Magic" and he gave me a thumbs up.

Amway Arena, before and after

From this ....

To this ...

In about 30 seconds.

The video is being uploaded to Facebook AND Youtube now. I have to link it to YouTube from here, and Facebook is currently winning the race. Go to my Facebook page to see it first. I'll post some more pictures I little later while we wait for the upload.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The old Amway's going down ... and I'll be there

About 620 pounds of charges and dynamite will do what Nick Anderson couldn't do with four free throws in 1995 -- bring the Amway Arena down.

Actually back then it was the Orlando Arena, then it became the TD Waterhouse Centre and finally the Amway, but by about 8am Sunday morning, you can call it rubble. It will be imploded Sunday to make way for the Creative Village high-tech corridor.
When it comes down, I'll be there to watch.
I'm getting a little bit nostalgic about this, as I probably attended upward of 40 events there from about 1990 to 2010. I saw the Magic, Predators, Solar Bears, Seals and Jackals play games, Billy Joel and Rod Stewart play songs, but missed the Mystics, Titans and Sharks. Over the course of about 14 months, I saw the Predators win the Arena Bowl (2000) and the Solar Bears win the Turner Cup (2001).
Because of that, I feel the need to see, document, and video the ol' grey mare fall to the ground. I'm not going to the "public viewing arena" on 50 across Lake Dot because, Why? I know the good hiding spaces around there and plan to offer a unique perspective of the demolition.
I'll be updating my morning's work via the blog's Twitter feed (@Phoulballs)  and will be posting the video here as soon as I can get a connection, get it on YouTube and link it. Interested in coming with? Leave me a message here and I'll check it before I leave the house around 5:45am Sunday.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Proof the Media can't get their story straight

I really hope the folks at ESPN and the other "major" media outlets feel like smacked asses today.

From about 3pm Wednesday and for the following six hours, if you refreshed your sports news page of choice every few minutes, there'd be a new story on the Tim Tebow trade. (Tiresome, trite? Totally.)

In the afternoon, he was going to the Jets.
Early evening: hold up, we think the Jaguars are involved.
Dinner time: we KNOW the Jags are involved.
Dessert time: the Jets AND the Jags are involved, and it's Timmy's decision where to go.
Bedtime for the kids: it's settled, he's going to New York, who paid half of the roster bonus Denver gave Tebow before they realized they had a shot with a truly great QB.

The networks will tell you they're trying to keep "up to the minute" with "breaking news". I call it throwing stuff against the wall to see what sticks, and while seeing if it does, getting the next ball of stuff ready to throw.

The Internet Age has replaced getting it RIGHT with getting it FIRST as its primary objective. Just because you have the ability to disseminate news stories very quickly, it doesn't mean you HAVE to use it, and by God if you aren't 100% sure what you're reporting is right, you SHOULDN'T use it. It used to be that the worst thing you could be in the news business is wrong, worse than being late. Now you just issue a "My bad" and move on. It's crap. At some point the world will learn that the worst thing you can be is wrong. I'd rather be injured or starving than wrong, at least when it concerns other people.

There are still great journalists who will stack up their facts and reports from sources, check them for accuracy (because they have the time) and bundle them up into a great story that runs in the morning newspaper that is focused and is worth reading. This morning you would have read every detail of the Tebow deal and how it happened without needing to be online. But those same writers have to balance (waste) their time and issue frequent Twitter updates by reader (and boss) decree. I really wish Twitter would go to hell.

The news business fought the good fight, and lost. It's been taken over by the digital monster. I saw it firsthand from the inside.

Other thoughts, brought to you more levelheaded ...
  • As for Tebow, the Jaguars need him for more reasons than I have time to type here. If it came down to the money, you take out a loan and give up the paper plant, the 17th at TPC Sawgrass and a couple St. John's River bridges to make the deal.
  • Say you're a Broncos fan, and you bought your kid a Tebow jersey last season. What do you tell them now? Do you have the "Hero today, gone tomorrow" conversation about the world often not being fair with them at an early age? Do you expect him to wear that jersey while you proudly sport your Peyton Manning one when the season starts? And what if that fused neck doesn't hold together? All I'm saying is ... I'm just sayin'.
  • You know who hates all the news about the Tebow trade, the Manning signing, the Saints' staff getting leveled for their role in Bountygate, etc ... the NCAA. Ahem, folks, we have the most wildly popular postseason tournament going on, can you just give us a little room here? After all, they have a Florida-Marquette game to televise tonight ... at 10:17 p.m. tipoff time ... on a school night. It should end around Easter.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A short ode to Hines Ward

I know that thanks to my Philly heritage I focus on stuff happening in the eastern part of the Keystone State, but something happened in Pittsburgh this morning that I think is noteworthy.

Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Hines Ward, the only man to catch 1,000 career passes and win multiple Super Bowls who's name isn't Jerry Rice, retired on Tuesday vowing to remain "A Steeler for life."

Monday, March 19, 2012

The wrong hoops teams do the job that cartoons can't ...

So my kid enjoys watching the cartoon Phineas and Ferb. On that show, the boy's older sister Candace mission in life is to "bust" her little brothers for the radical schemes and ideas they get into. She often talks about "the power of the bust".

Well, the NCAA Tournament is like Candace. Just waiting to bust me.

Admit it kids, your brackets are already shot. Straight to hell. Or wherever Norfolk State or Lehigh are located. (Lehigh's in upstate Pennsylvania, by the way. My uncle matriculated there. I think he also may have gone to classes on his way to a doctorate degree.) You had Missouri, or Duke, or Vanderbilt, or Florida State, or Georgtown going really deep, maybe all the way to New Orleans.

Lucky you. You get to watch this weekend's action and the Final Four with passive interest because the money you spent on your bracket pool would have served the same purpose than if you set it on fire in a gutter. Me? I have to watch, to wait to get busted.
Can you fix this, or do I have to go find Tim Donaghy?
Uh, yeah, of course I was talking about the wrist ...

My Final Four is still intact -- Kentucky, Louisville (that'll be one crazy national semifinal), Ohio State and North Carolina (although I hate my whole right side of the sheet, been saying it for a week now). While I'm mid-pack as of this morning in my winner-take-all pool, I have the most "possible points" and a few winning scenarios. But one of them is UNC winning it all, which seems as likely now with Kendall Marshall breaking his wrist and likely having surgery this week as me winning a dunk contest.

I rode Murray State, Vanderbilt and Florida State a bit too far (into the Elite 8), but I had Duke and Missouri not winning another game after this weekend, too. I need Louisville and The Ohio State, or for Wisconsin to bump of Syracuse (and then get bumped by OSU).  It could happen. Based on my track record (11 years in a pool at the newspaper I wrote sports for, career pool winnings of $0), it won't though I have to keep tabs to see at what point I can eulogize my sheet.

Hey, baseball's Opening Day is next week ...

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Day Orlando Stopped

Admit it, this is fun.

The news hacks here in Orlando might not be enthused with the procedure of write it-hear new story-scrap it-write it again-check Internet for new rumors, but I think the Dwight Howard story over the last week has been hilarious.

Besides, I need something to latch onto to divert me away from an NCAA tournament I have little buzz for, and UCF's drubbing at Drexel in Philadelphia Wednesday night in the NIT.

O-Town went to bed last night hearing definitively that D-12 would be a New Jersey Net or L.A. Laker by lunchtime today. Then this morning, an online report surfaced saying Howard wants to give up his opt-out clause, play in Orlando the rest of this year and into next ... so we can do all of this again this time next year.

Ya'll my bitches. But I mean that nicely. Now go get
me an Egg McMuffin, news bitches!

That online report is at Sounds legit to me. And if it appears on the Internet, then it must be true, right? Puh-leeze. This story won't be over until 3:01 p.m. this afternoon, after the NBA trade deadline passes. I'll be intrigued to hear this thing evolve That's really a news website that other news organizations are citing and quoting. I've said it before, just having an Internet connection and a thought does not make you a journalist. They oughta require a license to practice journalism -- or, say, a B.A. in News-Ed Journalism from an established university.

Driving into work today, I saw 3 live news trucks parked outside the Amway Center. This was before 8 a.m. The team plane flew in from last night's game in San Antonio around 3 a.m. You knuckleheads expect any Egg McMuffin-time stuff to happen at the building? You will be held hostage by the local media all day, and I will be laughing for the next 6 hours.

Monday, March 12, 2012

For the first time ...

I slay Dragons!

... in school history UCF will play in the NIT. The opponent? Drexel. Ha! I've got two cousins that got their engineering degrees there. And the winner Wednesday will likely play St. Joseph's. I only had one cousin go there. (Am I conflicted? Ta hell with it. Go Knights!) Why doesn't UCF just stay in Philly and play Penn and LaSalle while they're at it?

Really guy, a sword? You do know you're
coming to West Philadelphia, right? I keep
sharper things in my desk drawers.

Oh, by the way Knight fans, Drexel Coach Bruiser Flint is "More disappointed in this snub" than in 2007 when the Dragons beat Syrcuse and Villanova but still didn't appear on the Big Dance card. So Drexel's disappointed, and UCF is excited out of their minds.

I smell upset Wednesday at the Daskalakis Athletic Center, which holds all of 2,500 people. UCF's student section could fill that place up! (Hey guys, it's only a 17-hour drive up 95!)

... And for the first time since 2000 I will not be running a NCAA bracket this year. Proud to say I did all the work by hand. I've contacted some of my old pool regulars and told them to set a $5 bill on fire and send me the remains. It'll accomplish the same thing.

(And aren't you glad, based on the title of this post, the reference isn't to some sappy ballad? Not that that's totally a bad thing.)

Friday, March 9, 2012

Yay UCF! Now I need a nap ...

If you see me draggin' sometime today, it's because I was up past midnight listening to college basketball on the radio. UCF won a game in the Conference USA tournament -- for the first time ever, I think -- Thursday night, in a 64-54 win over UAB that tipped off in Memphis at nearly 10:30 p.m. Eastern time (thanks to Marshall's crazy triple-overtime win over Tulsa earlier in the day) and went flying through the bewitching hour.

The Knights took control of the game in the first half, and after halftime they never relinquished, which was good to see, thanks to great defense and some clutch free-throw shooting down the stretch. I tell ya, A.J. Rompza might not be the most talented guy on the roster, but the heart and moxie and composure he brings to UCF is hard to measure and they're gonna miss that next year.

At least they have that tonight, which reminds me, what's the reward for last night's win? A semifinal meeting with Memphis *gulp* on their home court! *winces* You can watch this on the CBS Sports Network, or if you're among the millions who's provider won't get the rod out of their box and offer it, check out Marc Daniels' call on 740 The Game. Go Knights!


Was also nice to see the Magic take control of a game against a quality opponent on the road and beat the Chicago Bulls last night. Orlando took a 37-22 first quarter lead and never gave it up in the 99-94 win, although Chicago did chip away in the fourth quarter and briefly took a one-point lead. Dwight Howard looked a bit lost down the stretch in the offensive end (and especially at the free-throw line, but that's the norm now), but he was responsible for a couple of key defensive stops there at the end, and Magic fans are going to miss that when D-12 moves on, either by trade this week or at the end of the year as a free agent. All I'm saying is ... I'm just sayin'.


As for someone who didn't get off to the start he wanted to on Thursday, Tiger Woods began play Friday six strokes off the lead at the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championships at the Doral Blue Monster in Miami. He eagled the 1st hole and looked on a mission, but could only manage an even-par 72 that was attributed more to the brisk winds that blew. Adam Scott was 7-under after 11 and wound up with a leading 66. There's still a lot of golf left and, with Rory McIlroy looking either discombobulated or disinterested, I think el Tigre is going to be a factor come Sunday.

Why do I mention this? I like Doral. I was 1-under through 7 holes when I played there one late summer afternoon about 15 years ago. Then what happened to me? 8 and 9.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Who will win the Peyton Sweepstakes?

Now that I've finally gotten over Drexel University's loss in the Colonial Athletic Association title game to VCU (won 19 straight before that, now the Philly school gets to sweat Selection Sunday), I can focus a little bit on the news at hand ...

Where's Payton going?

First, I feel bad for Colts fans now, because, regardless of how good you think Andrew Luck is going to be next year, Indianapolis is going to suck again next year. It's awful hard to remember that suckiness in the B.M. days (Before Manning), unless you wear blue and a horseshoe every Sunday in the fall.

But, but, remember that the Colts were being called the Dolts in the days leading up to drafting Peyton No. 1 in the 1998 Draft, and during that '98 season when they went 3-13. Then they went 13-3 the next year, so there is a glimmer of hope if Luck is The Next Chosen One.

Back to today. Who wants Peyton? The question oughta be, who doesn't want Peyton? With the exception of about five teams, you get an automatic upgrade at QB by inserted even an 80% healthy Manning behind center. It's all going to come down to cap room, and how much Peyton's willing to accept an incentive-laden contract, just in case that neck made semi-bionic by doctors doesn't hold up.

I'm hearing some teams that keep surfacing, and here's what I think of them landing Number 18 ...

Friday, March 2, 2012

Weekend Buzz ... Where'd everybody go?

I'm really, really sorry that I damn near went the entire month of February without throwing a post up here or on my Twitter feed. My new job, while not being bad work, leaves me little time for extracurricular activities, consider the day starts with being the daycare center charter chauffeur for Miss Kenzie and ends right when Dinner Makin' and Dish Doin' time starts at home. 12 hours of go-go-go does a number on a brother. Plus, we haven't recorded an edition of our critically-acclaimed podcast Upon Further Review in over two weeks.

The timing of it all stunk, as both the NBA All-Star Game and the Daytona 500 invaded our fair burgh on the same weekend last week, and there was plenty to talk about. So, five days later, now that all the outtatowners have gone home, is the perfect time to look back on it all, right?

(Lemme tell you about all those outtatowners; all of this went on in Orlando the same weekend as my anniversary, so I wish they would have consulted me before scheduling ... anyway, it took 30 minutes to go 3 miles on I-4 going to dinner, and 45 minutes to go 7 miles on a back road to get to Disney for a La Nouba show. Yeah buddy, that's how I roll ...)

Put all those people in one area and things are bound to get screwy. But, tell me if this isn't right out of Bizarro World ... we can't get the NFL guys to really try in the Pro Bowl, but we watched Kobe Bryant break his nose in the All-Star Game, and then the weekend ended by dropping the checkered flag at Daytona International Speedway -- on Tuesday at 1 a.m.

Hey ladies, check it out!

I watched a little of the All-Star Game in the first half, then left it on through most of the fourth quarter as the West was trouncing the East, who manned up, showed some heart and almost pulled out of a 20-point deficit. Funny things happen when you appeal to the ego of guys in the All-Star Game ... were you watching, Roger Goodell?

Which reminds me ... I've got a way to fix the Pro Bowl: play it in August, the same weekend as the Hall of Fame Game. Guys will want to get meaningful reps at that time of year, especially coming off of training camp when they beat on guys wearing the same color. The players will try, especially those coming off injuries who want to see how hard they can really go ... where better than to go against the best in the game. But since the NFL rules the universe, those guys don't care what I have to say ...

As for the 500, I was intrigued by the prospect of starting it at 7 p.m. on a Monday (all that was missing was Hank Williams Jr ... "Are ya ready for some racinnnnnn?") and when they got the thing going promptly instead of having 20 minutes of talking heads bored us, I realized that if there were no undue delays, it would finish around 10:30 ... perfect. NASCAR's biggest race would have pulled a great rating starting (and, um, finishing) in prime time, especially from casual folks who wouldn't be home on Sunday afternoon but would on a Monday night. I'd like to see more of that during the year, if we can keep gool ol' boys named Juan from breaking the jet dryers and frying the track ...

Only you can prevent unleaded fires ...
For the record, I made it to 1 a.m. Monday night/Tuesday morning to see Matt Kenseth win ... only because I feel asleep around 10:30 and woke up just in time for the checkered flag.

So, what are we doing this weekend, guys? Guys? Anyone? Is anybody here?
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