Tuesday, April 29, 2008

In Memoriam: Steve Eastman

I'm sorry to say that last Friday night, Steve Eastman passed away at Memorial Hospital after fighting brain cancer for almost three years. I knew Mr. Eastman through his son, Grant, who's been one of my closest friends since elementary school. I have been around the Eastman family for most of my entire life in New Hampshire, and I'd be hard pressed to find another mother, father, son, and daughter that care so much about each other and their community. I learned a lot about Mr. Eastman's life before I knew him when I read the passages in the Conway Daily Sun, but what I'd like to write about are the memories and feelings from my own experience.

I remember sitting around the kitchen table at the Eastman house after birthday parties, with Mr. Eastman always nudging me into having a second slice of cake or another scoop of ice cream. I remember sitting at that same table watching Grant and Emily laugh loudly at an out-of-place comment from Mr. Eastman, which most of the time flew right over my head. I remember working at the Eastman house, cutting and splitting wood for the winter. The work was a chore to most but a passion for Mr. Eastman. I remember stacking so much wood that day I thought we must have taken down an entire forest of California redwoods. I remember thinking, "how on earth could someone ever use this much wood in their entire life?" I remember asking Grant how long all of this wood would last and I remember his response, "Probably the whole winter." Probably?! Cutting and stacking wood was a family event for the Eastmans. It was a precise, organized operation. Every piece was cut perfectly in half to begin with, but Mr. Eastman had a knack for cutting it perfectly in quarters. I remember thinking, "If he puts this much effort into cutting and stacking his wood, it's no wonder why the Mountain Ear was always the superior local paper in the valley." I remember the shock and the twist I felt in my stomach when I heard about Mr. Eastman's cancer. I remember when the cancer went into remission and Mr. Eastman started to recover. I remember crying in my kitchen last summer after a phone call from Grant, when he told me his father was struggling and the outlook was bleak. I remember feeling better but still uneasy when he recovered from that as well. I remember when my Mom told me Sarah, Mrs. Eastman, had to stop working at Kennett to care for him. I remember two weeks ago when Grant told me his father was incapable of getting out of bed and was paralyzed on one side. I remember last Saturday morning, when I woke up and received a call from Grant about his father's passing. I remember pacing my house after the call. I remember trying to understand why this was his time, why this had to happen to two of my friends before they were even 21 years old.

I want to kick; I want to scream. It's unfair. It's not right. He was 58 years young. But it won't change. Mr. Eastman will still be gone in presence. But he will never be gone in spirit. I see Grant and Emily as strong, college-educated individuals who will go on to accomplish great things in their lives. I see Mr. Eastman's presence and spirit in them, helping them make difficult decisions throughout their lives. I see Grant working on a job with the same passion his father had for splitting wood. I see a family broken by the pain of his death but mended by the magnitude of his strength. I feel privileged to have known Mr. Eastman. He was truly a wonderful person. I will miss seeing him during my visits to the Eastman house. Rest in peace, sir.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

NHL Conference Semi-Finals Preview!

I sit here a few hours removed from an embarrassing performance in the SERC A Talent Show in which I played someone else's guitar and messed up many of the riffs I attempted to play. I very much wish that I would have gone up to get my guitar but I decided to fly by the seat of my pants and it cost me. I showed a combination of skill and incompetence in front of about 50 of my fellow residents but despite my nervousness I managed to come in 7th out of the 10 contestants. So, at least I got some pity votes. Needless to say, it is nice to be out of the spotlight and back to something I feel I can do proficiently no matter what the situation: write.

Before I delve into the second round match-ups of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, I'll give a quick movie review of "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," starring Jason Segel, Kristen Bell, and Mila Kunis.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall - Absolutely amazing. With some of the cast from movies like 40-Year-Old-Virgin, Knocked Up, and Superbad, Forgetting Sarah Marshall is beyond hilarious. The last movie I saw in theaters that I loved as much as this one was Wedding Crashers, and even that had a bit of a lull near the end when some of the comedy is lost (those few reflective scenes when Owen Wilson's character goes into his depression spiral). Forgetting Sarah Marshall had no such lull. In fact, one of the reasons I loved this movie so much was because it was a great movie, not just a great comedy. It was laugh-out-loud funny for almost two full hours and completely enjoyable in every way. Final verdict: 6 out of 5 stars. Yes, it was better than I thought possible. Go see it.

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are now in full swing and Barry "The Magic Mullet" Melrose is on ESPN every night analyzing each game. Although there will be fewer games each night now that all of the first round series are finished, I'm proud to say that I was fairly accurate in most of my predictions two weeks ago and I'm excited for what's to come.

In review of my East predictions, I picked Montreal to beat the Bruins in six and they won in seven. I picked Pittsburgh to win in six and they beat Ottawa in four (I thought Ottawa would actually show up to play...apparently I was mistaken). I picked Philadelphia to beat Washington in seven games and after tonight's thrilling contest, they did. The only surprise in the Eastern Conference first round series was New York's victory over New Jersey in five games. If you remember, I picked New Jersey in seven games because Martin Brodeur is a fantastic goaltender. I wasn't very confident in my New Jersey pick two weeks ago, and after watching the very first game of the series, I knew I was going to be wrong. The Devils defensemen played the worst hockey I've ever seen a group of defensemen play. They were atrocious. Anyway, so the Rangers won in five games and I went three for four in the East. As for the West, I picked Detroit over Nashville in five games, and were it not for a fluky victory in game three where the Predators scored two goals in the last four minutes, I would have been right. Detroit still won in six though, so I'm very pleased. I picked San Jose to win in six games and even though they played poorly and inconsistently, they fended off the pesky Flames and won in seven games. I picked Colorado to defeat Minnesota in six games, and they won exactly as I imagined they would. I was wrong in my final prediction however, as I said Anaheim would beat Dallas in seven games when Dallas actually won in six. I did say that if the Stars were to win the series, it would be Marty Turco who won it for them and he certainly did, so I was right in that sense. Turco was beyond stellar and the Stars sent the defending champs home early. So, that makes me three for four in the West and combined with the three for four in the East, I picked six of the eight series correctly. Not bad, not bad at all.

Now that those series are finished, a whole new set begins with the Conference Semi-Finals. Here are the East match-ups and my analyses...

(1) Montreal Canadiens vs. (6) Philadelphia Flyers

This series will be very interesting. Both of these teams played hard fought, seven game series in the first round. Both of these teams blew 3-1 leads but came back to win game seven. Montreal is a very good team with a young but solid goaltender. They have three solid lines but no star players. Philadelphia, on the other hand, is a young, upstart team with an inconsistent goalie and plenty of offensive talent. The Canadiens dispatched a resilient Bruins team, while the Flyers took care of a very impressive Capitals squad. I'm hard-pressed to pick a winner in this series, as I think the other series in the East will decide who goes to the Finals, but I'm going to go with my gut feeling. I think that the Flyers' forwards like Mike Richards and Jeff Fischer will give the Canadiens all they can handle, but Martin Biron, the Flyers' goalie, is just not good enough to take Philly to the Conference Finals. Montreal in six.

(2) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (5) New York Rangers

Though I'm disappointed that this series won't come later and decide who will face the West in the Stanley Cup Finals, I can't fully express how exciting this series will be. Sidney Crosby. Evgeni Malkin. Marian Hossa. Jaromir Jagr. Brendan Shanahan. Scott Gomez. Chris Drury. Should I go on? The Penguins completely obliterated Ottawa in the first round, sweeping the defending East Champs right onto the golf course. They looked like the most impressive team in the playoffs with a balanced offensive attack and great goaltending from Marc-Andre Fleury. The Rangers though, made the Devils look silly and won three of their four games on the road in New Jersey, which is no easy task. Henrik Lundqvist is a fantastic young goalie and may win the Vezina Trophy this year, but can he stop the unrelenting offense of Sidney Crosby and Company? My guess is that he will help the Rangers push the series to the limit, but the Penguins are just too good. Pittsburgh in seven.

And here are the two Western Conference Semi-Finals...

(1) Detroit Red Wings vs. (6) Colorado Avalanche

Awesome. Awesome, awesome, awesome. Did I mention that this series will be awesome? The return of the Wings-Avs rivalry could bring back some of the casual hockey fans that loved to watch hockey back in the late 90's. With Colorado bringing back Peter Forsberg and Adam Foote, this really is a blast from the past. I have so many memories, both good and bad, of the unbelievable games that these teams played against each other years ago and I can't wait to add this series to those memories. Without Patrick Roy though, this Colorado team will have a lot of trouble staying with the Red Wings for an entire series. Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg will lead the Avs to at least one victory in the series, maybe two, but the Wings have simply dominated the Avs in every way since the lockout. The Wings looked good against the Predators and Osgood looks great in net. Colorado took care of Minnesota with little difficulty but the difference between the Red Wings and the Wild is a massive one. Detroit in six.

(2) San Jose Sharks vs. (5) Dallas Stars

This is another great series in the making as both teams knocked off very good teams in the first round. San Jose managed to pull away with a game seven victory over Calgary even though they again struggled to play to their potential. The Stars played great hockey to beat the Ducks, and I expect that to continue in this series against the Sharks. Turco has vastly outplayed Nabokov so far and unless the Sharks step up their game, I don't see that changing. San Jose barely beat Calgary and the Stars are a much better team than the Flames, as they've proved in the playoffs by knocking off the defending champion Ducks. The teams split the regular season series and I think this series could easily go the distance. I think that the Sharks looked too weak in their series with Calgary to beat the Stars, but they could certainly turn it around and prove me wrong. Dallas in seven.

The schedule for the second round starts with the Red Wings-Avs and the Canadiens-Flyers hosting their game ones on Thursday night while the other two match-ups begin Friday night. In other news, this weekend is pretty eventful for UNH, as the Dropkick Murphys and State Radio will play Friday night and Patton Oswalt will perform Saturday night. They should both be fun and I'll also try and see the new Harold and Kumar movie sometime if I can...looks hilarious. Until next week, take care and enjoy playoff hockey!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Top Five Most Hated Hockey Players of All-Time

Another week, another blog. The past five days have had their ups and downs in the sports world, so I'll run through the highlights before I delve into my five least favorite hockey players of all-time (which I'm writing in spirit of the intensity that the Stanley Cup Playoffs bring to sports each year).
  • Boston College *shudder* won the National Championship for men's hockey, coming out on top in the Frozen Four. The two games last week were entirely opposite of what I predicted, as BC somehow manhandled North Dakota 6-1 and Notre Dame played an incredibly good game to stifle Michigan 5-4, in overtime. I can't deny that I was completely and utterly devastated by the Wolverines' loss, as I stared at nothing and suppressed the urge to break everything in sight for hours after the game ended. Michigan played an absolutely terrible game even though they managed to get into overtime; they played completely lazy hockey for the majority of the game and Billy Sauer turned out to be the biggest disappointment of the tournament, giving up three soft goals in the opening period. I could write so much more about the loss and complain about the multitude of phantom offsides calls from referees, but it's just too depressing for me to write about. They were so close to another National Title...ugh...makes me sick to my stomach.
  • In golf news, Trevor Immelman won the Masters in a wire-to-wire performance, as he tied for the lead after the first round and secured the win on Sunday. Tiger came in a distant second, three shots behind, though he never put together a good enough run to pressure Immelman. You could argue that if Tiger had dropped a couple of the putts that he missed on the back nine, Immelman might have succumbed to his nerves (see Immelman's tee shot on #16), but you have to give him credit for playing some great golf over a four day period to win the green jacket.
  • The NHL Playoffs have provided a few surprises, though most of the match-ups have panned out the way I figured. In the East, Boston has played well against Montreal, but the Canadiens are finding ways to win and are up three games to one. Pittsburgh has almost completely put away the Senators, up 3-0, and have easily looked like the most impressive team in the playoffs thus far. The Flyers have played well and stopped Alexander Ovechkin to their best ability, up 2-1, though it has been a close series. The Rangers have made my New Jersey choice look silly, though the lucky bounce that gave the Devils a game three victory may just turn the series around. In the West, Detroit has completely outplayed Nashville, though a lucky series of events gave the Predators a game three victory and kept them from falling into an 0-3 hole. San Jose has looked like the Sharks of the past couple years in the playoffs...and that's not good, as they have played poorly and are tied 2-2 in their series with the Flames. Minnesota fought through three overtime games and gained the series advantage, though the Avalanche have fought back to tie the series at two games apiece. The Ducks have looked interestingly weak in their series, losing their two home games to the Stars, but they played well in tonight's game to narrow the series margin to 2-1.
And now to the meat and potatoes of the post...my five most hated hockey players of all-time. I would give my top five favorites, but they are all Red Wings and the descriptions would be kind of redundant (and picking only five out of Steve Yzerman, Nicklas Lidstrom, Brendan Shanahan, Kris Draper, Kirk Maltby, Darren McCarty, Sergei Fedorov, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg would be hard to do anyway). So instead, here are the five players that make my blood boil whenever their name is uttered, in descending order.

5. Scott Stevens - The longtime captain of the New Jersey Devils was known for his "clean" hits that caused many concussions. His hits were often well-timed and arguably legal, but the fact that he always seemed to go after star players and use his elbows and arms to exacerbate the hits made them complete cheap shots. His hit on Eric Lindros basically ended the phenom's career...as Lindros never recovered and was mired by concussions for the rest of his life in hockey. Stevens is not just a goon though, he's a celebrated goon, which is the worst of its kind.

4. Chris Pronger - The second defenseman to make it into my top five least favorites, Pronger has caused many problems for the Red Wings and his dirty hits have merited numerous suspensions from the NHL, including an eight gamer this year for stomping on a guy with his skate. Teams play 25 games at MOST in the postseason and he was suspended twice in the 2007 playoffs! Good role model huh? And the sad thing is, he used to be. He was a doe-eyed, young kid when he came into the league and won over St. Louis Blues fans' hearts back in 1993, but Darth Pronger has switched over to the dark side in the past decade.

3. Raymond Bourque - Now, I know Boston fans and hockey fans everywhere will see this as an odd choice, as Bourque was a model citizen and the leader of the Bruins for so many years, but I have two specific reasons for hating him. The first is that he made a commitment five or so years ago to play a round of golf every summer with a lucky winner from the Mount Washington Valley area (my hometown). After doing it the first year, he flaked every year afterwards and sent a teammate instead. What a cop out. More importantly though, I hate Ray Bourque for bucking tradition and deserting his team. He left the Bruins after 20 years to win a championship with the Colorado Avalanche. You think a real leader, like Steve Yzerman, would have ever done that? Not a chance. You stick it out with the team you've committed yourself to for your whole career and you either win with them, or retire without a championship. Just ask Dan Marino.

2. Claude Lemieux - Let me make this clear: both of these final two individuals are unbelievably worse than all of the other hated players combined. This "man" to the left here...is quite possibly the most evil player to ever play the game. The video of his cheap shot on Kris Draper will forever resonate in my mind. The hit may look like nothing compared to the checks that Scott Stevens was dishing out in the linked video above, but this particular hit sent Draper into the edge of the boards and broke his jaw, cheekbone, eyesocket, nose, and gave him a concussion. The video of Lemieux getting his ass kicked by Darren McCarty in retaliation to the Draper hit a year after it happened is one of my favorite moments in hockey and I'm still giddy knowing that Lemieux finally got what he deserved. His pansy turtle move to avoid McCarty's punches shows who he really is: a complete and utter coward. I have nothing but contempt for him.

1. Patrick Roy - Ugh. Even typing his name makes me want to punch something or vomit. He is the arrogant, whiny goaltender who played for the Montreal Canadiens and the Colorado Avalanche and is widely regarded as the best goaltender ever. There is no greater falsehood that than the claim that he is the best goalie ever. He may have the statistics on his side, but he is the most unimpressive human being the world of hockey has ever known and deserves no respect whatsoever. His role on the Colorado Avalanche's championship teams was the main reason why I hated him before he retired, but the way that he carried himself off the ice was also a key factor. Recently, both Roy and his son were suspended for their altercation in a Quebec Major Junior League playoff game (Roy is now the coach of the Quebec Remparts and his son is the backup goaltender). Watching what unfolded tells me that Roy has passed down every bit of his character to his son and has completely failed as a father. The simple fact that Roy procreated is an insult to the world. He is, by a slim margin over Lemieux, the most hated person in hockey in my mind.

Well there you are...nothing like a good rant to get the blood boiling. I hope you enjoyed it and are as disgusted with these human beings as I am. I do take some solace in the fact that four of them are no longer playing, Pronger being the exception. Though from the Roy incident I hope you can see how they are still negatively affecting the world today.

Anyway, that's all I have for now...I'll be back next week with an update on the Stanley Cup Playoffs and a preview of the second round match-ups once the first round is over.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

NHL Playoff Preview

There is absolutely no better time in sports than mid-April: the Stanley Cup Playoffs begin and the Frozen Four will decide a NCAA Champion in Men's Hockey. In spirit of the occasion, I have a full NHL Playoff Preview ready for all you readers. Before I reveal that though, I shall give you a short description of how I expect the Frozen Four to play out.

The first semi-final is North Dakota vs. Boston College, on ESPN2 at 6:00 on Thursday. I expect this game to be extremely close, as these teams have met in the Frozen Four each of the past three years. Boston College won this match-up last year, so naturally I will pick North Dakota. The Fighting Sioux have the better goalie and will win this game in overtime. Also, I despise BC.

The second and more interesting semi-final is Michigan vs. Notre Dame, on ESPN2 at 9:00 on Thursday. This game shouldn't be close, as Notre Dame's talent is incredible inferior to most of the teams that started the tourney, especially #1 overall seed Michigan, but try telling that to New Hampshire or Michigan State. I think Michigan will win this game by two goals with some solid goaltending from Billy Sauer and end the Fighting Irish's improbable run.

Now onto the main event...the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The games get underway tomorrow night and continue on through the weekend. I won't give any predictions past the first round but rather assess each match-up as they come and decide who I think will be the winner. Here are the Eastern Conference Match-Ups:

(1) Montreal Canadiens vs. (8) Boston Bruins

Although the Bruins could have avoided this date with the Canadiens by beating the Sabres in their season finale, this match-up was meant to be. Boston is finally in the position to pull the upset that the Canadiens have done so many times to the Bruins in past years and with these two original six teams facing off, you can't ask for a much more traditional series. I would love to see the upset, but the Canadiens are too good and much healthier than the busted-up Bruins. Even though Montreal won the regular season series 8-0, I think Tim Thomas will steal a couple games for the B's. Montreal in six.

(2) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (7) Ottawa Senators

The Penguins are arguably the most exciting team to watch, with offensive phenoms Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Marian Hossa. The Senators have a similarly great trio with Daniel Alfredsson, Dany Heatley, and Jason Spezza. The difference here though, is that Alfredsson, the Sens captain and leader, was injured late in the regular season and is said to be out for "weeks." Ottawa is the reigning Eastern Conference Champion, but I don't see them winning this series. Alhough the Senators have unbelievable offensive firepower, even without Alfredsson, their goaltending is questionable at best. Pittsburgh in six.

(3) Washington Capitals vs. (6) Philadelphia Flyers

If not for Carolina's collapse, Washington would have finished 9th in the conference and out of the playoffs entirely. I am glad that they made it though, as the Capitals have easily the most explosive player in the NHL today, Alexander Ovechkin, and he will be a joy to watch in this series. The Caps added two key players at the trade deadline: Cristobal Huet from Montreal to solidify their goaltending and Sergei Federov from Columbus to add scoring. The Flyers however, have young guns Jeff Carter and Mike Richards, but they also have Martin Biron, who is as inconsistent as goalies come. They are a better overall team than Washington though, so I think Alexander the Great will have to bow out in the first round. Philadelphia in seven.

(4) New Jersey Devils vs. (5) New York Rangers

These two teams hate each other. They played eight times in the regular season, and only once did New Jersey come away with a victory. The Rangers have a slew of offensive stars and the best young goalie in the league, Henrik Lundqvist. The Devils though, have a plethora of playoff tested players and the best goalie I've ever personally watched, Martin Brodeur. Everything from the season series and the way that the Rangers have solved the Devils offense tells me to pick the Blue Bronxers, but I'm going to pick by goaltending here, and there's nobody better than Marty. New Jersey in seven.

And now, onto the Western Conference Match-Ups:

(1) Detroit Red Wings vs. (8) Nashville Predators

Detroit is coming off another President's Trophy victory, though that hasn't guaranteed any results in the playoffs in recent years. I certainly won't be picking the Predators in this series, mostly because everything on paper says the Red Wings will win this series with relative ease. There is one way that Nashville can win this series however, and that is if Dan Ellis, the Predators goalie, can steal a game or two in Detroit. A hot goalie in the playoffs can spell doom for any team, and even Detroit is no exception. I don't think Ellis has it in him though, and Detroit simply has too many weapons to be stopped. Detroit in five.

(2) San Jose Sharks vs. (7) Calgary Flames

The Sharks seem to be all the experts' trendy pick for the Cup and right now, they look to be right. The Sharks had an incredible finish to the regular season and possess all the elements a championship team should have. Evgeni Nabokov is a fantastic goalie and offensive superhuman Joe Thorton will be a beast in the playoffs. The Flames though, are a long plane trip away and play very physical hockey. I think the Sharks will vastly outplay the Flames in the series, but Miikka Kiprusoff, the Flames goalie, will steal two games in this series. San Jose in six.

(3) Minnesota Wild vs. (6) Colorado Avalanche

There's no such thing as a boring hockey game and there's definitely no such thing as a boring hockey playoff series, but this one is pushing it for me. Obviously this will be a tough series for both teams, as they are division rivals and pretty evenly-matched, but neither of these teams are good enough to beat the best in the West and because of that, I'm not as interested in this series as I am in the others. Minnesota has a great goalie in Niklas Backstrom but the Wild have always seemed to struggle in the playoffs. Avs Captain, Joe Sakic, can provide great leadership in the playoffs and I think that will be the difference here. Colorado in six.

(4) Anaheim Ducks vs. (5) Dallas Stars

This series will be another great one to watch, as these division rivals will do their best to beat the crap out of each other. The Ducks are the defending champs and nothing on paper will tell you they won't win another Stanley Cup this year. Jean-Sebastien Giguere is one of the best goalies in the league and the physical play of the Ducks will certainly be tough to overcome for any team. The Stars have had trouble in recent playoff years and they got a tough draw after a very good season. I think they are good enough to take this series the distance though, and Marty Turco will be the difference if the Stars end up winning, but I think the Ducks are too strong to lose in the opening round. Ducks in seven.

I know many of you won't read all of that garble, but I enjoy writing it because I love watching hockey above all other sports. Anyway, in other sports news, the Masters begins this Thursday and I can't wait to see if Tiger can win his fifth green jacket. That's all for now, have a good week everybody!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

April Fools!

I hope you are all off pulling glorious pranks on the one day of the year when jokes are actually celebrated. The New Hampshire, UNH's school paper, came out with it's usual fake-cover page and included such articles as: "UNH President Mark Huddleston to Perform with Snoop Dogg at Spring Concert!" and "Wildcat mascot replaced by river lamprey." I enjoyed their humorous attempts and especially students' reactions before realizing it was a joke. I do feel ashamed though, that I never even attempted any sort of elaborate practical joke today. I could blame my lack of creativity on the three hours of sleep I got last night but it really came down to a lack of a good idea. I commend those of you that succeeded however, and must say that I would vote April Fool's Day the best non-holiday of all non-holidays.

Here are some other notes from the past week...
  • The NCAA Hockey Tournament was full of surprises, as only two #1 seeds made it to the Frozen Four. Michigan made the committee look smart in dominating their bracket as the number one overall seed while Notre Dame came out of nowhere to make a seemingly impossible run to the Frozen Four, where they'll face Michigan. The Fighting Irish had lost 9 of their previous 13 games and lost their leading scorer to injury before they surprised everyone and upset #1 seed UNH, 7-3, then beat defending-champion Michigan State, 3-1. Other surprises included Wisconsin's upset of Denver (Wisconsin finished the season 15-17-7 and somehow made the tournament as an at-large team), even though the Badgers did lose in overtime to North Dakota. Boston College beat Miami of Ohio in the Northeast Regional and will play North Dakota in the Frozen Four for the third straight year. I obviously stand by my pick for the national title, Michigan, but I wouldn't be too surprised if BC was able to beat North Dakota, as they seem to have the Fighting Sioux's number and have always performed well in the playoffs. I'd honestly like to see BC make the final because I've seen them play this year and they would have a lot of trouble with the kind of speed Michigan has. There's still another week before any of that will be decided though, so every team will have plenty of rest and we'll have to wait and see what happens.
  • In the NCAA Basketball tournament, history was made as all four number one seeds made the Final Four. I picked only two, but then again, the only people who successfully picked all four teams were those that don't follow the sport. Anyone with a knowledge of the sport would never have picked all of the top teams to make the semi-finals which is why the phrase, "My Mom's bracket is doing better than mine is!" has caught on. All four teams making the Final Four is unprecedented, though to the oblivious bracket-filler, it would seem out of the ordinary to see the tournament play out any other way. It certainly made the NCAA tournament committee look good though, since the top four pre-season teams were UNC, UCLA, Kansas, and Memphis, and those four are the only teams left standing. I still think UCLA will win it all, and since they'll beat Memphis, I'm picking UNC over Kansas in the other game. Kevin Love, UCLA's freshman phenom, is just too good to pick against. If he can make a full court shot just with the flick of his wrists...I certainly won't be picking against him.
  • I highly recommend to all readers that you buy, download, steal, or in any way obtain a copy of both the Counting Crows new album, Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings, and the Raconteurs new album, Consolers of the Lonely. The Counting Crows have combined car-cruising rock with some easy-listening songs and provided another sixteen fantastic songs for music fans. My favorite tracks are "Insignificant" and "Hanging Tree" at the moment, but I've grown to love the entire album over the past week, so those are subject to change. The Raconteurs, led by musical genius Jack White, debuted their second album that has crunchy sounds and even fuses a little of Elton-John-piano-rock with "You Don't Understand Me." This year will be a great year for music with so many of my favorite artists coming out with new albums. Last year was pretty bare so I'll be happily anticipating Weezer's new album, due in June, as well as new albums from (+44), Coldplay, Dave Matthews, Jack's Mannequin, Gavin DeGraw, Joseph Arthur, and Death Cab for Cutie.
  • I saw 21 this weekend, a movie based on the book Bringing Down the House, in which a group of M.I.T. students learn how to count cards as a team and take Vegas for millions. The book was one of my favorites of all-time and since I love Kevin Spacey, Kate Bosworth, and upcoming-star Jim Sturgess, I just had to see it. It didn't completely meet my expectations, but it was still a great movie. I wanted it to be entirely true to the book because of how great the book was, but the different story that the movie told was still very entertaining. Now I can understand why they titled the movie differently from the book, since the movie plot is basically a complete work of fiction with elements of the book's truth worked into it. I still loved it and would recommend it to anyone. Final verdict: 4 out of 5 stars.
  • The Red Wings are wrapping up their season and when that happens on Sunday, I will have a complete preview of the NHL playoffs and all of the match-ups, so keep an eye out for that.
  • The Tigers opened up their season yesterday with a 5-4 loss to the Royals in extra innings and despite their bullpen struggles, I'm still optimistic. I honestly feel like this team will get to the World Series and win. Their lineup is fantastic and with their excellent starting pitching, I just don't see a problem in the bullpen holding them down. Obviously, if the bullpen continues to be an issue, they won't even make the playoffs, but I feel like the middle-relief guys will step up and meet the challenge. Go Tigers!
  • I was also arrested this weekend for possession of alcohol and it could cost me my trip to Cambridge this summer. No big deal.
I know, I know...what a poor attempt at an ending joke but I bet I had a couple of you going! Or maybe not, I certainly won't ever know. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this edition of the blog and have a wonderful first week of April as Spring has finally started to rear its head!