Fie on the Olympics

One of the upshots of living in Atlanta in the early 1990s during the run up to the Olympics is that I no longer care anything about them. It is an out of control, decadent celebration for plutocrats with limited access by the people paying for it. The price tags climb ever higher, and the burden shouldered by the ordinary citizens of the host regions climbs with it.

This article about the troubles the IOC is having finding a host city for the 2022 Winter Olympics seems about right to me. I like that the whole word seems to have suddenly woken up and understood that hosting an Olympics isn’t necessarily a gift. I learned from Atlanta that the best day in the whole process is the one when the winning bid is announced. That’s the last fun one before the bullshit begins.

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Georgia Tech 2014

Oh Georgia Tech, I do love watching you run the triple option offense. I don’t love the wild inconsistency that seems to come with it. Has any team ever started 3-0 in a less impressive fashion?

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PS – I know practically nothing about football. I am reading one of Scott Sigler’s Galactic Football League novels though.

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Engaging with the Real World

Earlier this year I took a vacation from social media and I’ve been feeling the urge to turn off the computer more and get out and about in the real world. As it happens, a few weeks ago Andre Pope decided out of nowhere to assemble a softball team of the Myrtle Beach area geeks. That was well in keeping with the sort of thing I want to do more of, so I joined up. When I went to the first practice, it was my first time wearing a glove or swinging a bat in 18 years.

The last time I played softball was at the 1992 World Fantasy Convention at Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, GA. Baseball fanatic and science fiction writer Rick Wilber put it together, and I happily went out and played with a group of fans and writers that included both Jack and Joe Haldeman, Pati Nagle, Newton Streeter, Richard Gilliam, Alexandra and David Honigsberg and many others. That game was so much fun that a virtual community formed around it for years afterwards with a fake science fictional team called The Double Breasted Fedoras. I still have a jersey hanging in my closet.

When I stood on the field playing catch with the softball, it was a kind of fun I haven’t had in a long time. I surprised myself by dropping fewer flies than I expected, and never once whiffing on a swing. Every time I swung the bat, I connected with the ball. I try specifically to be open out there and I hope over the course of this season to play every position on the field at least once. I’m not very fast so I’m not a shortstop type but I still want to play it at one time or another. Our coaches specifically put our team in the least competitive league available to us. Our goals aren’t to kick ass so much as get off our asses. I aim to do just that.

RIP, Dinger

There have been a lot of celebrity deaths lately but none have hit me as hard as this one. Dinger the home run dog of the Myrtle Beach Pelicans died last week. He was a great dog and it was always a pleasant experience to pet him whenever we went to a home game. He had a little area where he’d great fans and get his picture taken with little kids and it was always amazing how serene this dog was in the middle of all the chaos. His protege Deuce inherits the mantle now.

RIP Dinger. It’s always rough to say good bye to a good dog.

My Full Tilt Fantasy Poker Picks for the Main Event

Going into the main event of the World Series of Poker, I’m sitting at 101st overall in the Full Tilt Poker fantasy league. The top 100 finishers get entrance into special freeroll that pays out an entrance to the 2010 main event (really, $12,000 which is about the equivalent – you can use the money for whatever you want.) I was under no illusions that I could coast regardless where I finished after event 56 but this is a tight spot. I have to have a good main event.

After a month plus of playing this hard and trying to gather as much information about each player, which events they were entering, their past performance, etc – the main event was different. I could make the assumption that everyone was playing. I sort of went with the zen and just picked without over thinking it. I picked Phil Ivey and Patrik Antonious out of defense. I expect that most everyone will have them and if I don’t and they do well, I’m sunk. This really comes down to picking the couple of highest finishing more obscure players and whoever does that will do well.

Here then are my picks:

A group:

Phil Ivey
Patrik Antonius
John Juanda
Eugene Katchalov
Justin Bonomo

B Group

Kathy Liebert
Jacobo Fernandez
Sorel Mizzi
Vitaly Lunkin
Shaun Deeb

C Group

Jeffery Lisandro
Steve “mrsmokey1” Billirakis
Tom Dwan
Shannon Shorr
Matt Hawrilenko

I’m on pins and needles about it. The main event is so sprawling I’m not even sure if any of my picks have played, what their stacks are, who is out. I made my bet, now I can only hope it works out for me. I’m leaning more towards younger internet players than name pros so I hope a few of those bets hit.

ESPN 360 Infuriates

I have a vested interested in the outcome of the $50K HORSE event at the World Series of Poker. I have three guys from my Full Tilt Poker fantasy picks at the final table, and if they finish high or one of them wins the bracelet, I have a good shot at finishing in the top 100 overall. This qualifies you for goodies, so I’m invested. I went to ESPN360.com to watch the streaming and this is what I saw:

ESPN360.com is available at no charge to fans who receive their high-speed internet connection from an ESPN360.com affiliated internet service provider. ESPN360.com is also available to fans that access the internet from U.S. college campuses and U.S. military bases.

Your current computer network falls outside of these categories. Here’s how you can get access to ESPN360.com.

1. Switch to an ESPN360.com affiliated internet service provider or to contact your internet service provider and request ESPN360.com. Click here to enter your ZIP code and find out which providers in your area carry offer ESPN360.com

My response to all this: ESPN can kiss my ass. I’m not changing ISPs in order to accommodate their weirdness. If you want to stream the thing, stream the thing. Put ads across the screen and give it away. All you did was make me angry at the ESPN brand.

Not only that, it is inept as all hell. I have two cable internet choices, which puts me ahead of most of the country. I followed the link out of morbid curiosity to see if other providers had access. I clicked Time-Warner and they showed no access with a link for “request access to ESPN 360 from Time-Warner”. I clicked the one for HTC – “Horry Telephone Cooperative” and it sent me to the “Nebraska Telephone Cooperative”. Whoever keyed this in confused an “h” and an “n” somewhere. Brilliant. Now ESPN 360 isn’t merely scumbaggy but inept too. Nice.

NBC Olympics Coverage is Unbelievably Bad

[Whoops, I forgot to press publish on this last night. The specifics change but the basics are always the same.]

It’s 10 PM and the NBC coverage of the Olympics just went something like 30 minutes without showing any actual competitions. We got people talking in the studio, mind-numbing preproduced bits about the Great Wall of China and lots of assorted nonsense that had nothing to do with the actual competitions taking place.

I think you could do a lot better by just having a few channels on digital cable that just aired uncut, live footage of competitions with no commentators at all. Instead, we get coverage that is time-shifted, edited to where we see only the USA and the bits that affect the outcome of the finals, lots of schmaltzy bullshit set pieces. I hate the way NBC covers this event, and they screw it up the same way every two years.

Update: I turned in tonight to find Mary Carillo doing a piece on food in China. For Dobb’s sake, you have got to be kidding me! They truncate the coverage but they have time for this? I think I am just about done even bothering with this. NBC coverage is so execrable as to make the Olympics more pain than they are worth to watch. I’ll check the medal count via the web every now and, but screw NBC. For reals, hoss.

Rough Weekend in Grand Strand Baseball

This weekend we were visiting my father-in-law in Goldsboro NC and we ended up having to get a hotel in Kinston since Goldsboro was full up. As it happened, the Myrtle Beach Pelicans were playing Kinston so we decided to all go to the baseball game. It was fun and despite getting down 8-1 by the second inning, the Pelicans came back to lead it 9-8 in the top of the ninth. An error at first left it tied after nine, and it was getting late so we had to leave. The Pelicans ended up losing 10-9. Funnily enough, they were staying in the same hotel as us and I saw a few of them at the breakfast buffet on Sunday morning.

The same weekend, the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers dropped their two games in the Super Regional to North Carolina. These best of three formats are rough, because whoever loses the first game is in desperate straights no matter how you do it. It’s bittersweet with CCU. On the one hand, losing and ending the season is never anyones first choice. It is the best season in the team’s history though so it is hard to be too upset about that. Oh well, we’ll get them next year.

Congratulations Chanticleer Baseball

The Coastal Carolina Chanticleers baseball team is advancing to its first ever Super Regional berth. Today they beat Eastern Carolina University 24-11. Amazingly, they scored 13 runs in the 2nd inning between the first and second outs. Holy crap! Once again the season has gone by in a flash without me getting out to a game. Now I has a second chance at that. I hope I can make it to one of the Super Regional games. I said years ago if either Georgia Tech or the University of Louisiana Lafayette made it to Omaha, I’d buy a ticket and head there. We’ll see if I can get that deal on CCU.

The Way You Play the Game

I’m not even going to pretend this story didn’t make me cry. At Central Washington University, the women’s softball team was playing Western Oregon. CWU really needed wins to make the NCAA playoffs. When Sara Tucholsky – a career .153 hitter – hit the only home run of her career, she hurt her leg rounding the bases. The umpires said the rules did not allow her teammates to help her around the bases, which would eliminate her home run. Central Washington players determined that nothing in the rules prevented the opponents from helping her, so two players picked up Tucholsky and carried her around the bases, stopping to touch each base with her good leg. This is a team that – if they lost this game by one run and if they lost a bid by one loss – was costing themselves the post-season by this action and they did it anyway. I have to say that makes them the biggest winners possible, regardless of the score of the game or their win-loss record. (They lost 4-2, and thus didn’t make the post-season.)

Thank you, Central Washington University softball team. Thank you, Mallory Holtman and Liz Wallace. You made my aching heart feel better.

Congratulations Jayhawks

I’m not a college basketball fan but since I grew up in Kansas, I felt compelled to watch KU versus Memphis State. Wow, what a game. When they were down 9 with two minutes left I thought it was over. Not only did they tie it up at the buzzer for overtime but then they dominated the OT.

This victory would be sweeter for me if Kansas wasn’t the rival of the school I would have gone to had I stayed in the state. Head to head, I would always root for the Wildcats over the Jayhawks but I’m pleased to see the championship go back to my home state.

RIP, Jim Beauchamp

Former Atlanta Braves coach and player Jim Beauchamp has died at age 68 of leukemia. He’s one of those guys in my head inextricably linked with the conversion of the Braves from sad sack cellar dwellers to the powerhouse national contenders that they have been for most of two decades now. He was also serving as the bench coach during the magical 1995 season when they finally won the whole thing. May his family find peace and his many friends raise a toast to his memory.

Go (Farther) Tribe

It’s official, I’m rooting for the Cleveland Indians. I’ve always liked the team, and was kind of glad to see them be the ones my boys beat in 1995. They are straight up worthy adversaries. Wouldn’t you think for any team that makes it to the World Series by beating both the Yankees and the Red Sox in the AL playoffs that getting to face the Colorado Rockies would seem like a relief?

I reflexively root for the National League team when there are not extenuating circumstances (such as the NL team being the Mets.) This year, I’m not so sure. I might be rooting for the Indians all the way. I’ll be doing my rooting in honor of the late great George Alec Effinger, perhaps the most devoted Indians fan I have ever met — and most of his fan time was logged during the several decades they really sucked. Win it for Piglet, boys!

Go Tribe

Thank you, Cleveland Indians, for providing me with my annual dose of looking at sad Yankees and sad Yankee fans at the end of their season. They have about a billion dollars a year in payroll and yet they are still knocked out in the first round of the playoffs. There is still a tiny bit of justice left in the world of pro sports.

Indians V Yankees

If my Braves are not to be in the post-season, then please please please, I beseech you Dear Bob, let Cleveland beat the Yankees tonight. I absolutely hate Roger Clemens, I hate the Yankees. My top three baseball moments of the last 20 years are 1) Braves winning in 1995; 2) The Francisco Cabrera hit and the Sid Bream run from second, ie the “Braves win! Braves win!” moment from 1992; 3) every time I get to see Derek Jeter on the dugout steps holding back tears when the Yankees have been eliminated from the post-season.

Update: Not tonight, I’m afraid. That would have been something if all four first round series were sweeps.

Lafayette Vs USC

At work several of my coworkers are rabid fans of the USC Gamecocks. Today they play my alma mater, the UL Lafeyette Ragin Cajuns in their season opener. I generally care very little about football but I do hope my boys pull out the upset and win this game because it will make Tuesday at the office very interesting if they do. As someone who has heard way more Steve Spurrier talk than I care to ever hear, I’d love to see USC get their asses handed back to them. It’s not likely, but I’d love it.

Palmetto State Roller Girls in the Paper

Today there is a story in the Myrtle Beach paper about the Palmetto State Roller Girls. It’s OK but what is really notable is that someone I know is right up front in the photo. The story seems pretty focussed on how white collar and/or academic most of the team is.

I’ve been deputized by the Radio Free Derby podcast to act as their roving South Carolina correspondent, but I haven’t reached out to the team yet. I will, though, once I am no longer up to my ass in alligators. I’m still working on my RFD reporter nickname. I have three candidates working: Jimmy Awesome, Tom Broke-arm, and Ted Topple. We’ll see how it goes. Maybe I’ll use a different one every time.

Go (Further) Chanticleers

The first rain we’ve had in a month had to be the weekend that the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers were hosting the NCAA baseball regional. All of Saturday’s games were washed out.
They made up a little ground Sunday and now Coastal plays Clemson today at 3 PM. Because the Chanticleers lost to Clemson yesterday, they are coming up the losers bracket and have to win twice to advance. Here’s hoping those young arms hold up and my boys can win at 3 PM and at 7 PM too.

Update: No dice, they lost 15-3. Ouch. Oh well, we’ll get them next year. My ULL Ragin’ Cajuns also lost to Texas A&M tonight. I believe at this point there is no team left that I care much about. Looks like I won’t be making an emergency flight to Omaha this year.