Sunday, March 29, 2009

Pure BUllshit.

If you couldn't tell already, UNH lost to BU tonight. They lost 2-1. They outplayed the BU bastards for the entire game and worked harder than I've ever seen a Wildcats team play in three years. And they lost when BU forward Jason Lawrence scored with 14 seconds left in the game. Devil worshipers rejoice, and God shows how much he hates UNH hockey once again.

The goal was nothing but dumb luck. Lawrence didn't just play the blind squirrel finding a nut; he played the blind squirrel who was handed a nut by another freakin' squirrel who felt bad for him. All he did was slide the puck across the slot in a pass attempt and it redirected off UNH forward Jerry Pollastrone's glove and into the net. And while Lawrence gets all the attention of a hero, Pollastrone becomes the goat. Pollastrone played his heart out and was just trying to dive and stop the crossing pass, but he ended up pushing the puck over the line for the winning tally; I can't imagine how he's feeling right now.

The goal itself was bogus, but that's not what has left me seething for hours after the final buzzer. The referees called a hooking penalty on UNH's best player, James van Riemsdyk, with 45 seconds remaining to hand the Terriers the game on a silver platter.

My firm belief is that the officials should not decide a game in the closing minutes unless the players are endangered. A baseball umpire should not call a balk in the 9th inning of a tie game with the bases loaded. A referee should not call a holding penalty on a hail-mary pass and an official should not call a hand-check foul on the final possession of a basketball game. So that means in hockey, the referees should not call any non-roughing-related penalties with the game on the line. No hooking, tripping, holding, or interference. None of that. The calls are too discretionary to be certain every time and therefore should not be the deciding factor of a game.

Now, here's where I went a little insane.

Literally shaking with rage, I looked through all 212 box scores of games that involved any of the 10 Hockey East teams and recorded every penalty that was called in the last minute of the third period. There were 126.

Of those 126, there were 104 roughing-related penalties. Those include roughing (30), hitting after the whistle (24), game misconducts (9), slashing (9), and other oddities like cross-checking (5) and high sticking (2). Those all involve possible harm to a player. I have no problem with a referee calling a penalty like that at the end of a game.

Simple math will also show that there were only 22 subjective penalties called by referees in the last minute of 212 games. Two hundred and twelve. And of those 22, only five were hooking penalties. And of those five, three went against teams playing BU (vs. Maine on 2/14, vs. UMass on 2/27, and tonight against UNH). I'll leave it up to you to decide whether that's a coincidence or a conspiracy.

This all adds up to one thing: Only a handful of refs have the balls to make that kind of call with so little time left on the clock over the course of an entire season. Translation: It. Doesn't. Happen.

I don't think the referees should be suspended; I don't think they should be fired. I think they should feel ashamed. That call was a disgrace to the sport.

Hooking is defined as a penalty that is called when an offending player uses their hockey stick to prevent another player from moving freely. I can't understand how it's possible to make the call at all, but even an objective viewer would agree that the call on van Riemsdyk was borderline at best and certainly had no effect on the actual result of the play. So my question is...why make the call at all?

UNH was so close. The path had been laid for a national championship: upset BU and the only teams in their way would be Vermont and the winner of Miami (OH) and Bemidji State. Everything was set up perfectly for the first hockey title in UNH history. And in a matter of seconds, it all came crashing down.

It has taken an enormous amount of self-restraint to stop myself from dousing BU in profane, offensive word vomit. I'd love to talk about my wishes to punt every terrier I see or skip happily in circles as the BU campus burns to the ground, but I've kept most of those thoughts from escaping because it'll just get me into trouble.

So, I'll try to move on and get some sleep to curb my rage. I wish a Merry Congratulations to UNH hockey for their great season and a Happy Go to Hell to all of the undeserving BU fans and players who get to bask in the glory of the Frozen Four. Goodnight.

Wildcats send Sioux down Trail of Tears

Inappropriate title? Probably. But I had to use it somewhere since we won't be able to use it for a headline in Tuesday's paper and the UNH men's hockey upset of North Dakota might have been the best hockey game I've ever seen live. I say might because I can't try and compare the game five triple-overtime loss in the Stanley Cup finals last June. They were completely different games and completely different situations and it's just too much work.

Nevertheless, this game was amazing. UNH won 6-5 in overtime. Sounds intriguing already doesn't it? Well, what the score doesn't tell you is that the Wildcats were also down 5-3 halfway through the third, tied the game with 0.1 seconds left and won the game 45 seconds into overtime. It was an absolutely amazing sequence of events.

Thanks to our wonderful Multimedia Editor Meg Power, that's a short video of us at the game. Clearly, I had no idea what to do or what just happened when they scored the tying goal. It was just ridiculous.

You can check ESPN for other highlights of the game, since those plays also managed to get the #1 spot on SportsCenter's top plays. I still can't believe I was at that game. I mean, in all of hockey history, how many games have ever seen a tying goal with less than a second left? Not many. And Peter LeBlanc's goal in overtime was just awesome. Such a great shot and his cowboy-esque celebration was epic. Wow, great game.

I haven't even mentioned yet that John Buccigross and Barry Melrose were the color commentators for the game, so at one point I was mere feet away from them. I didn't get a chance to meet them, unfortunately, because the security guard and the ticket-checking people weren't exactly lenient. Sure, maybe "Can I meet John Buccigross?" wasn't the best opening line, but how else do you say, "I creepily emailed John Buccigross earlier this week in hopes of meeting him and he emailed me back and told me to stop by...can I go in?" Yeahhhh no. So that was the only part of the day that didn't work out.

I guess karma felt bad for me though because I did meet Phil Kessel, who was sitting up in the nosebleeds near us, and get his autograph. His "upper-body injury" that's keeping him out of the Bruins' games this weekend appears to be more of a "I'd-rather-watch-my-brother-play-the-most-important-games-of-his-life-so-far-rather-than-play-the-stupid-Maple-Leafs-and-Flyers-when-we-already-clinched-the-division injury." That's a long injury name...probably doesn't happen too often.

Anyway, I had to post this before I went back to Manchester tonight for the regional final between UNH and BU because if UNH loses, I would be much less excited and cheerful while writing this post. I might have even shown some sympathy to the Fighting Sioux and not kept the post title the way it is...and that's censorship. There's just no place for it on the internet.

Go Wildcats! Go Red Wings! (When don't they play the Predators?) Go banana!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Hey, Western Canada: You're too far away!

1,875 miles. That's the distance from Detroit to Calgary. Add another 200 miles to that, and you get the total for Detroit's two-day trip to Western Canada for games against the Flames and the Edmonton Oilers. Now I'm not a big-time geographer or anything, but anyplace that I can't get to after three straight weeks of walking shouldn't be on the Red Wings' schedule. And it's in Canada? Jeez, and I thought this was the National Hockey League.

I kid; of course we need these Canadian teams in the league. Who else would we turn to when we need someone to lose a Stanley Cup to great hockey cities like Carolina, Tampa Bay, and Anaheim?

Anyway, I'll start with the Red Wings' 5-3 loss to the Flames on Monday night. It was bull-poo, poo-head, and this poo is cold. The Flames got an empty-net goal near the end to seal the win, but when the score was 3-1 in the third, the quick-in-every-sense-of-the-word Calgary referees blew the game with a fast whistle that negated a Red Wings goal and saved Kipper's Finnish buns (which, coincidentally, sounds like a bad seafood restaurant you'd find in Western Canada). The Flames would soon after add another goal to make it 4-1, but the resilient Wings came back with two of their own to cut the lead to one. And, if you're keeping score at home, that means the game would have been tied if the referees didn't ruin everything. Grrrr. A tough, playoff-type game against a good team on the road and that's the difference-maker? Annoying. But, in all fairness to the zebras, if it weren't for Ozzie's three pillowy-soft goals to open the game, the Wings would have won without a problem. Apparently those pieces of his game I mentioned he was picking up were for a completely different puzzle. Maybe they fit better in this one?

As for the Edmonton game, the Red Wings scored three goals in the third and absolutely took it to the Oilers after the first period. While a few Wings looked like magicians with sticks (Datsyuk, Franzen, and Hossa come to mind), I felt like the rest of the team was trying to make too many passes instead of firing it on Rolosieve. And that's insane because the Red Wings still had more than 40 shots! But, Rolosieve is Rolosieve and ya know...those goals were comin' one way or another. I thought Conklin looked alright in net too, except for the first goal he allowed. He was wayy out of position and his wave-at-the-place-he-hoped-the-puck-was move didn't work nearly as well as he hoped. But the Wings won, inching them a point ahead of the Sharks once again for the league lead.

The Red Wings' next game is at home against the Islanders on Friday, which should be completely expected if they win and hair-pullingly aggravating if they lose, considering the Isles are the worst team in hockey by a wide margin. In fact, they're so bad that it's almost like they're on their own island of awfulness! Ha ha! Oy, I should've stopped with Rolosieve. That seriously was a work of art though. Took me almost eight seconds in Paint. Put that on your sixteenth chapel and smoke it, Michelangelo.

I'm done, I swear. Goodnight all, way to go Wings.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Lull of the Wing

Well, Michigan lost to Oklahoma. No upset. I'd be angrier if they were supposed to win but they were a huge underdog to a very good team. Their first win was huge for the program and I'm excited to see Michigan basketball back on the map. Movin' on to the real reason for this post...

The annual regular-season lull of the Red Wings.

It seems odd, considering how maniacally I support the team, but it seems to happen every year right around this time. I get too busy, the team struggles, or I miss a few games and I forget how much I love watching them. I don't know how it happens or why it happens, but I just feel like my life is a bit less oriented around the Red Wings about a month before the playoffs.

Usually, it's when the Wings have virtually clinched the division or play a few stagnant opponents in a row. I mean really, there's only so many games against the Predators that I can watch in a single week. It doesn't mean the games against those inbred cousin lovers aren't close or exciting, but when there's hardly any hype behind the matchup...I somehow lose interest.

But, I'm here to say the lull is over. Starting tomorrow night when the Red Wings take on the Flames in Calgary, I'm back. The full-on obsession has returned.

Since I've been mentally absent, Chris Osgood seems to have found a smidgen of his game again and the team as a whole is picking up speed for the playoff run. I'm excited and hopeful that Ozzie will continue to improve. Look for game recaps and thoughts after the Wings' game against Edmonton on Tuesday night, but for now I've got to go help celebrate a friend's 21st birthday! I get to do that now? Sweeet.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

It's sensational baby! Michigan's movin' on!

Maybe that's an overreaction to Michigan's 62-59 victory over Clemson in the first round of the NCAA tournament, but that's how I felt when that final buzzer sounded.

Michigan basketball has meant so little to me over the years because they've been a pain to watch almost every year. I had hope last season when they hired John Beilein as their coach, but they lost a school-record 22 games. This year, they have given me a new appreciation for college basketball.

Michigan used dominating defense and very bad shooting from Clemson to grab a big lead at the beginning of the second half and then fell apart at the end, allowing the Tigers to cut their lead to one with less than a minute left. Luckily, Manny Harris saved the team and the game with a great three-point play to seal it. He needs to play this well every game if Michigan wants to keep advancing.
So, the Wolverines move forward. I don't really know enough about basketball to do a whole game wrap-up so I'll just announce what's next: they'll play Oklahoma on Saturday, and they'll be a heavy underdog. I'm thinkin' upset.


Just dance...


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

First, I say thank you to everyone who played a part in making my 21st birthday a great one. That includes everyone I saw, spoke to, or heard from via some sort of communication medium. I appreciate it all.

Second, I want to say, "What the hell?!" to the doorman at the Old Town Saloon in San Diego, who turned me away at midnight because it was still "technically" the 16th by their business hours (2pm to 2am). Such bull. What kind of person turns away a kid at midnight on his 21st birthday? I may have been exhausted, half-asleep and shrugged it off at the time, but I won't forget you, bearded birthday-ruiner. Lame.

Luckily, I have a lot of friends and family to pick me up, and they made the date one to remember. I was traveling for most of the day (7am flight from San Diego landed in Manchester at 5pm, then a two-hour drive from Manchester to home), but I was able to share a delicious meal with my family at a great local restaurant upon my return home and enjoy a variety of different drinks throughout the day. Who says a gin and tonic at 9am isn't the way to start the day? Didn't get my hands on any green beer though...bummer.
To top off the night, the Red Wings came back in the third period and beat the Flyers 3-2! What a move by Dats to set up Franzen...and the game-winner by Z was super sweet. The team's lookin' good with only 11 games left...just in time for the playoff rush. But I'll be back with more Wings thoughts in a couple days. Today we celebrate St. Patrick.

I am of many different heritages, but my strongest contingent is either Scottish or Irish...I'm never quite sure. My full name is Cameron McGinnis Kittle and I was born on St. Patrick's Day, so I think at least for today, I'm mostly Irish.

Thanks again to everyone, I hope your St. Patrick's Day was equally as fun!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Walkin' the line at Torrey Pines

Our San Diego trip has finally come to a close, and I'm set to turn 21 in only a matter of hours. I'm planning on guilt-tripping my dad into going down the street to one of the bars in Old Town so I can buy my first legal drink right at midnight. My dad said there's a saloon or something a few blocks down that's open until 1:30 so...we'll see how that goes. I've never been to a saloon before; maybe I'll come back with a curly mustache, a cowboy hat and some spurs. Who knows?
As for today, my dad and I woke up and grabbed breakfast at the hotel before meeting Tom and driving down to the coast to Torrey Pines. The place was amazing; sometimes I didn't even realize I was still on a golf course. The ocean was right next to us for the first few holes and we couldn't have asked for more perfect weather. Warm, blue skies made the day a real treat.

My prediction didn't quite come to fruition, as I put a 90 (45-45) on the scorecard at the day's end. Here are some highlights (and lowlights) from the round:
  • Holes #1, 2, 16, 17, and 18 were all dead-on from my predictions. I bogeyed the first, doubled the second, then finished hot at the end of my round for a bogey-par-birdie on 16, 17 and 18. My birdie on 18 was extra nice since it was the only one of the day from our group and happened only because I sank a tricky 15-foot slider that fell off the table at the last second to rattle in the cup. Big fist pump on that one...a great way to end a tiring round.
  • I managed to walk away from Torrey without a snowman! A couple of sevens (on the par-5 9th and the par-4 14th) were the closest I came, but on both of those holes I had three they really shouldn't have been sevens anyway. Regardless, no snowmen!
  • While I predicted an 88 and shot a 90, I was pretty pleased with the round overall. The greens were incredibly difficult; I thought I actually putted better than I had all weekend but still had 38 putts on the round.
  • My driver completely left me. After smashing the ball all weekend, I didn't find the sweet spot a single time today and only hit 2 of 14 fairways. My iron game wasn't much better (only 4 of 18 greens in regulation) but I was pretty consistent. Not a great round off the tee but plenty of fun otherwise.
  • The sixth hole was incredible; I wish I could play it everyday. The signature par 3 looked over the ocean and way down the California coastline. The green sat many feet below and only 150 yards away, so it was not too intimidating either. The picture of the three of us (above) is taken from the sixth teebox and here's a shot of my poorly struck 9-iron off the tee.
  • My dad had a great front nine of only five over par (41), but he followed it with a problematic 52 on the back to finish with a mediocre 93. He did provide some comic relief for Tom and I when he got his ball stuck up in a tree and tried to retrieve it.
  • Dad managed to get three balls out of that tree (none of which were his) and then jump out unharmed! I'm sure his tree climbing skills were quite impressive...but Tom and I were too preoccupied with taking as many pictures of him as possible.
Well, it is getting a bit chilly out here; I'm sitting outside the Holiday Inn Express, in the courtyard, to get wireless access since our room's ethernet connection doesn't work and it's too far away for the WiFi. Awesome digs, huh? At least it's free, I suppose.

Anyway, my fingers are cold and my battery is low so I'm will end this 99th post and continue the blog tomorrow as I will reach the 100th post of When Cameron Was In Egypt's Land with a homage to St. Patrick's Day and my 21st birthday! What a fitting way to hit the milestone.P.S....Oh, and we also snuck over to the 18th green on the South Course so I could have my picture taken right next to the place where Tiger sank the tying putt in last year's U.S. Open. It's one of the greatest majors in golf history and now, I can say I've stood there. Kind of eerie, dontcha think? I think it's pretty cool.

God Bless Malin Akerman

Our third day in San Diego was another top notch period of relaxation. Golf, walkin' around the beach, some light reading, a movie...there's no room for sensible thought in that list of activities. I am fully enjoying not having to use my brain to its capacity while I'm out here; a much needed rest.

The day on the course was not quite as great as the first couple days. The clouds hovered over us for the entire round and neither my dad nor I played very well. While I managed another 92, he came in with a 93. There were some embarrassing moments, including the 12th hole where dad shanked his way to a quadruple-bogey 9 but still managed to beat me (I logged the first double-digit score of the year, with a wonderful 10). The only real highlight of the round was dad's impeccable shot on the par-three 5th hole, which was unbelievably close to dropping for his first hole-in-one. He tapped in the birdie though, on his way to a great 42 on the front nine.
After the round at Castle Creek, we took a trip to the beach and pier around downtown Oceanside. We had a late lunch at an authentic place called "The Longboard Cafe" and walked down the pier, watching the surfers catch huge waves and avoiding the snaps of giant pelicans.It was so cool to watch these guys battle massive walls of water...I wish I could do that.

Believe me, I was not standing any closer to that thing than I had to. Their beaks are sharp! Scary and unpredictable with the gift of flight? No thank you.

Anyway, we made it past the frightening fliers and spent the evening at the theater once again. Only this time, we went to see the new film Watchmen. I was very impressed with the visual aspects of the movie. The story was very compelling and the acting was solid, but the 2 hr. 40 min. runtime was a big long. There were also a lot of violent scenes that I thought were a little overdone or unnecessarily grotesque, but overall I really enjoyed it. I'm tempted to read the graphic novel now, but from what I've heard that might just ruin the whole thing for me. On the other hand, how could anything ruin another topless performance by Malin Akerman? I mean really...her acting resume is simply one of God's gifts to the male population. Final verdict: 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Looking toward tomorrow, my dad and I will play our final round of golf and spend our last day in San Diego with Tom and play the famous Torrey Pines North Course. It's not quite as well-known as the South Course, where Tiger won the U.S. Open on one leg last year, but it has felt the soles of many legendary golfers and plays host to the Buick Open every year.

I decided last week that I would look through the holes of the North Course and write a prediction for my scores, taking into account how I've played over the past few days. I will be optimistic and hopeful, but that will probably only last until I step onto that first tee box. Here we go...

Hole #1: Par 5, 520 yards with fairway bunkers on either side and a green that slopes severely from back to front. I'm gonna go with an easy 6 to start...can't go wrong with a opening bogey.

Hole #2: Par 4, 326 yards with an uphill green that slopes to the front and left. The website is telling me to hit a long iron off the tee, so I'll just go ahead and pencil in a double-bogey 6 because I can't imagine wearing ladies underpants and following such advice tomorrow.

Hole #3: Par 3, 121 yards with a canyon between the tee and green. Psh...121 yards? Pitching wedge? Please...write me down for a par.

Hole #4: Par 4, 398 yards with the ocean on the left. I don't see too much going wrong appears to be a straight-away hole. Bogey, 5.

Hole #5: Par 4, 371 yards dogleg left with nasty stuff around the corner. Sounds like a hole I'm destined to screw up, so I'll throw in another double-bogey 6.

Hole #6: Par 3, 206 yards -- signature hole. I'm thinking I knock it to the right of the green and chip it up nice and tight. Another par 3, another par.

Hole #7: Par 4, 400 yards that's "narrow" and "demands accuracy off the tee." Oy...give me a triple-bogey 7.

Hole #8: Par 4, 436 yards and the most difficult hole on the entire course. I'm thinking birdie.

Hole #9: Par 5, 497 yards. A nice, finishing par to round out a front-nine 44. That's just about what I've been shooting in San Diego every time so...let's make it happen again!

Hole #10: Par 4, 416 yards and the site says "par is good here." Well then...write me down for a double-bogey 6.

Hole #11: Par 4, 437 yards with a canyon on the left and bunkers on the right. Scrumptious. Let's go out there and get a bogey, 5.

Hole #12: Par 3, 190 yards and it plays long. I can't hit my 3-iron above average more than once in a round so this one's a sham...double-bogey 5 for me.

Hole #13: Par 4, 430 yards and another dogleg left. Sounds about right for the first par of the back nine: 4.

Hole #14: Par 5, 507 yards with only minor complications. I'm writin' down another par...get on the par train everybody! It surely won't last long...

Hole #15: Par 4, 397 yards. Yep, just as I figured...a quadruple-bogey 8 breaks up the par train. There's just no way I go an entire round at Torrey Pines without a snowman.

Hole #16: Par 4, 338 yards and the approach shot is "a half club longer than you think." I'll probably forget that by tomorrow and end up short. Bogey, 5.

Hole #17: Par 3, 172 yards with lakes and ducks all over the place. Yikes. My guess is I steal some nerves left over from Tiger's book, knock it in on the green and two-putt for a par.

Hole #18: Par 5, 485 yards with a bunch of bunkers and some OB stakes. I gotta end with a birdie, regardless of how irrational it is.

An even 44-44 for a weekend-best 88. That's my goal anyway. I hope it comes true. But if I can't even manage to break triple-digits, it will be great to see and play the course. It should be a beauty.

Final note: MICHIGAN! made the NCAA tournament as a #10 seed and will play Clemson on Thursday. I'm thinkin' upset. And, the Red Wings strung together a pair of impressive road wins this weekend to boost my confidence a bit. Way to go Ozzie, another great bout of schizophrenia shutout!

Tomorrow's my last day as an illegal drinker slash 20-year-old. Happy Monday everyone!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Bud Light Lime = Golf Enhancer

Soooo I'm two days into my trip and I already lost the blog-per-day rate. But, I am going to try to make up for it and write this one in record time before my dad and I leave for 18 holes at Castle Creek in about an hour. Therefore, here are some highlights and pictures from our second day in California.
Dad, Tom, James, and I played a round at Hemet Golf Club with some mediocre results. Dad played and scored pretty well, notching an 86, and James showed his potential with an equally impressive 86. Tom and I struggled to put the scores on the board despite hitting the ball pretty well. I ended up with a 92, but here's the nitty-gritty stuff I know you all love.
  • I was only three over par after the first five holes when I took a snowman on a simple par four and followed it with a double bogey on an easy par three. Result: 46 on the front nine despite my improved 3/7 fairways hit and 5/9 greens in regulation.
  • My putting was awful; I had 22 putts on the first nine holes and 39 on the round. For some perspective, a golfer should never have any more than 36 putts in a round (an average of two per hole).
  • To start the back nine, I picked up a Bud Light Lime at the clubhouse and went on a tear. Through those first four holes on the back nine, I had three pars and a birdie. After the beverage was gone, I immediately hit a tee shot out of bounds to double the 14th, then consequently hit two balls in the water on 15 and three-putted for another snowman. For those of you keeping score at home, that's -1 with Bud Light, +20 without. Hmm....maybe that's how Tigers stays so cool and collected under pressure; he's got beer stashed in his golf bag at all times! Crikey! It must be that crafty Australian caddy of his...Steve Williams. He'd have Tiger hooked on Foster's in no time. I'm on to you two...I'm on to you.
  • Back in the real world, I hit another 3/7 fairways on the back as well as 4/9 greens, to bring my day's totals to 6/14 and 9/18. But like I said before, my putting let me down and I shot another 46 on the back, leaving me with a below-average 92.
  • And before I forget, the first-ever Kittle-Joliff fathers vs. sons match ended in a draw. It was close down to the last hole. I hope we get the chance to do it again in the future; it was a fun way to keep us all on our toes.
Later on Saturday, my dad and I went out to dinner with Tom and his wife at a nice Italian place. It was delicious. Then, we drove back to the hotel and watched Will Ferrell's special on HBO where he played George Bush. I was pretty excited right at 9:00 when it started, but I was asleep by 9:30 when I realized it was overhyped and not really that funny. What a dud.

Well, I have to wrap this up so I can get out the door and play some more golf! Today it's just my dad and I at Castle Creek, and then we plan to spend the rest of the day by the beach before heading to see Watchmen tonight at one of the movie theaters close by. Happy Sunday everyone!

Friday, March 13, 2009

San Diego, Take Two

Today marks the first day of my second trip to San Diego in two weeks. My dad and I are actually staying 30 miles outside the city, in Oceanside, Calif., to stay close to Tom Joliff, my dad's friend from college. Can you think of a more enticing name for a city than Oceanside? And in California no less? I'm content.

So this morning, we met Tom and took to the links at Meadow Lake Golf Club. I haven't played a round since early October so, expectations were quite low before my initial drive of '09. However, I played relatively well, considering the layoff and the complete lack of warm up prior to teeing off, and shot a mediocre 89 (44, 45) on the par-71 course.

My putting saved me for most of the day, as I hit only 2/13 fairways and 5/18 greens in regulation. I also managed to lose four balls and find myself in the woods or weeds multiple times, but I scrambled nicely throughout the day.

A few highlights of the round:
  • A sand-save par on the second hole, which was the hardest on the golf course according to its handicap. Nice for my confidence to at least give a slight false sense of security before crushing my spirit!
  • A 330-yard drive on the ninth hole that caught a couple of nice bounces off the cart path after its initial flight. I love hitting Driver-9 iron on par fives.
  • My first birdie of the day, later on the ninth hole, after my eagle putt slipped a few feet past the cup. Woooooooooooh it was a two-footer big deal stop celebrating.
  • My 11th hole, which included a drive that was torched close to 300 yards without any asphalt advances, ended in a winding, right-to-left birdie putt that dropped in -- first fist pump of the year baby! Although, it was more like this than this. I don't quite have the guns for the second one.
  • The 13th hole brought me my first out-of-bounds lost ball of the year, as well as a delightful triple-bogey 8. Yay for snowmen!
  • The 18th hole was a wild one: it started with my drive being six inches inside the penalty markers and finished with a crazy up-and-down through some trees that salvaged an 89.
  • We managed to pull out 'shankapotamus' on more than one occasion. What? I can't flex the golden pipes?
I'm sad to say I had no batteries at the start of the day so there are no pictures of golf, but I did manage to take a few shots after my dad and I went for a run alongside the beach. The weather was amazing; a perfect sunny day with a cool breeze keeping the heat from bearing down too hard on us. I pray for the same tomorrow.
Later tonight, we found the only movie theater around that was still showing Milk and drove off to see that. I was impressed by the film and certainly believe Sean Penn deserved the 'Best Actor' Oscar he won for it. It was a truly eye-opening movie that brought back the love and the hatred of the late-1970s gay rights movement, which I knew almost nothing about prior to tonight. I'd give it a big thumbs up. Final verdict: 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Tomorrow, my dad and I will meet up with Tom and his son, James, to play at least 18 more holes of beautiful, warm golf. After that, who knows where the day will take us. But if I can manage to keep this blog updated each day until my birthday on Tuesday (and I certainly plan to), I shall reach the desired 100 posts I've been striving for. Stay tuned.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Put on your dancin' shoes!

The Michigan Wolverines must be selected to play in the NCAA men's basketball field of 65 next Sunday.
Today, they finished their regular season with a win on the road against Minnesota, 67-64, to bring their record to 19-12 overall and 9-9 in the Big Ten.

The Big Blue aren't a great team; they don't even match up with the top of their conference. But they've played the 11th-toughest schedule in the country and beaten two top-five teams on the way (UCLA, Duke). Nine of their 12 losses have come against teams inside the RPI's top 40, including four to teams in the RPI's top six (Duke, UConn, Michigan State twice).
Their resume is solid. Sure, they're only 3-8 on the road, but they also played Duke, UConn, Maryland, Purdue, Michigan State, and Illinois all on the road. You can't expect any team to play through a schedule like that and come out with a winning record.

And it's not like I'm begging for the selection committee to put UM in a top seed. I'm only asking for an invite. Let us dance.

The players need it. The coaches need it. The program needs it. Most of all, the Michigan fanbase needs it. The last time they played in the tournament was in 2001. It would be great for the league as a whole if Michigan basketball mattered again. I know that this season, it has mattered to me. I love watching Stu Douglass and his teardrop threes; DeShawn Sims and his powerful slams; Manny Harris and his slick dribble-and-finish skills. Coach John Belein is already proving his worth in his second year at the helm.
Right now, every expert and analyst has them right on the bubble. Nope. That's not going to cut it. The Wolverines have earned it. The selection committee has screwed this team more than once this decade, but it can't happen this time. Their talent is for real.

I just wanna dance. Is that too much to ask?

*Random sidenote* What the hell Red Wings? Cut this Saturday slump crap out right now. Eight goals to the Blue Jackets? Really? Thanks Chris Osgood...way to make me look like a jackass.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Extra! Extra! Bonus Piece from Feature Writing!

On the panel without a paddle

I snapped the latch of my watch open and closed; a nervous habit. I felt a drop of warm sweat slide down my torso like a speck of rain on a car window, as the sweltering San Diego heat shouted my panic to the hundred pairs of eyes staring down on me. I tried to stay cool, but the task was an impossible one.

“Why don’t we start down there on the end?” said Ted Powers, a scruffy, white-haired man sitting four spots to my left, serving as the panel’s moderator.

“Poor guy,” I thought to myself. “I wouldn’t want to be the one kicking this thing off.”

Then, it occurred to me. Wait a minute; I’m on the end. Gulp. A few more warm drops slid down my sides. Was it too late to run?

There was no place for me to go. I swallowed a few breaths of heavy air to calm my nerves. And then I spoke.

Reporting the reporter’s convention

The 25th annual Associated Collegiate Press National College Journalism Convention was held at the Marriott Hotel in Mission Valley, Calif., just outside downtown San Diego, from Feb. 26 to March 1. More than 850 students registered for the conference, representing 130 schools all over the country from 36 American states and two Canadian provinces. All of these budding young journalists glanced through other college publications and sat through a variety of seminars throughout the weekend, in an effort to try and obtain more information and bring it back to use in their own papers.

I served as one of the four students speaking about and taking questions for a seminar titled “Covering Intercollegiate Athletics,” which allowed student sports editors and writers to find out how to improve their sports pages for each issue. I could feel my heart pounding in my throat for the session’s entire hour but I came to realize that these were simply my peers quizzing me. They weren’t experts either. And with that, I had a second wind. They had just as many ideas and questions as any of us sitting at the front. The only difference as panelists was that we had the experience as editors and the fame of heavily funded athletic programs to help provide them with valuable answers for their specific situations.

There was no way for any student to attend each hour-long discussion, as there were more than 80 scheduled throughout the weekend, but with such a variety of options, students were able to look for areas that they wanted to learn more about or any of those that drew their interest. Speakers ranged from editors to writers to professors, with credentials from prestigious universities and popular newspapers, like the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism and the Los Angeles Times.

While students couldn’t attend every lecture they wanted to see, everyone had a chance to see the daily keynote speakers. Each one presented their ideas and gave advice about how to stand out in a competitive market and how to handle the difficulty of looking for a job in a dying trade, but it was Andrew Donahue who made the biggest impact.

Donahue proudly spoke as the editor and founder of his product, the online publication, and how it should not be just an interesting and successful aberration, but a new model for modernizing how the public receives its news. is a nonprofit organization that has been widely recognized since its inception in 2005 for its paper-less advances in the newspaper industry and is considered a pioneer for all of the emerging online daily newspapers in the country.

Donahue’s colleague Kelly Bennett, who has been a staff writer at for almost three years, supported Donahue’s ideas in her seminar “Online News Sites: the Future is Here.”

“Embrace values over the name brand,” said Bennett, who added that she originally wanted to work at a print newspaper but ended up at when she decided to pursue whoever would hire her to write about her interests. “Evaluate what you’re doing in terms of tasks rather than who you’re doing it for.”

Bennett also emphasized how important ambition and dedication are in the world of news. “You have to work harder in a competitive environment to get the stories you want,” Bennett said. “Call more people; look up more information than you think you need to.”

She stressed the fear that all journalists should feel when they are researching and reporting a story, and her editor, Donahue, even used a funny anecdote about Bennett to accentuate the point. According to Donahue, Bennett was in the midst of a project she had been working on for months and came into work one day frazzled and freaked out. She had dreamed that she had woken up and someone at the San Diego Union-Tribune had released her story first.

“You should be afraid that someone’s out there who’s going to scoop your story,” Donahue said. That panic only makes journalists better because it pushes them to reach more sources and find the essence of a story, he added.

For students who are entering such a tough economic period, every suggestion could be imperative to success. Ink flooded onto notebook pages in each session, and from newspaper design to managing a staff the different speakers provided counsel on every aspect of working for a college newspaper.

“It is important to be liberal with designing but conservative with typography,” said Ron Johnson, a professor and adviser to the Indiana Daily Student at the University of Indiana. Johnson talked about how many papers struggle with readership on campus because they can’t stay consistent with their design. He said many papers use too few or too many new ideas at once, and the secret lies in keeping an open mind and maintaining a reliable and steady product.

Kit Alvear, an editor at The Candor, the student publication of Benedictine University in Lisle, Ill., served on a panel about managing a four-year newspaper and suggested that executive editors “avoid micromanaging and let the ego go; allow for other ideas to come in and be valuable.”

On the same panel, Jeremy Bittner, the editor-in-chief at The Bottom Line, the college newspaper at Frostburg State University in Frostburg, Md., added some guidance from his own experience.

“Try not to be a perfectionist,” he said. “Go into the job knowing you’ll have to work with conflict and problems.”

Most of all though, the San Diego conference as a whole preached that young reporters, editors and designers need to help shape newspapers and make them better for future generations. Donahue urged against the idea of a newspaper solely as a business that needs help or needs a government bailout. In its place, he made his best point and argued for more creativity and novelty from everyone in the industry.

“The discussion has been, ‘How can we save newspapers?’ instead of, ‘How can we save journalism?’” said Donahue. “This is a tremendous era of efficiency and innovation and we need to be original.”

Moving forward with a pen in hand

I didn’t acquire an internship and our paper didn’t win an award for “Best in Show,” but I finished off a great learning opportunity in San Diego by taking a chance and serving as a panel member. It was intense, exhilarating and nerve-wracking. But I managed to convey my ideas clearly and helped to inspire other journalists to devote more time and effort toward their newspapers.

As my feet left the carpet of that conference room and touched the shining white tile outside, I twirled a pen around my fingertips smoothly, like a parade leader spins a baton. Confidence swelled out of every pore; I took in a few deep breaths of fresh air.

There’s no place or profession I’d rather run to.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Will the real Chris Osgood please stand up?

Is Chris Osgood back? It's too early to tell, and frankly, it's too early in the morning to be writing when I should be finishing homework. But I can't help asking myself this question: Did the 10-day really layoff help? Is the Ozzie of yesteryear really shining through the garbage heap of goals and "I swear I'm turning it around" quotes?

He sure looked like it tonight.

The Red Wings manhandled the Blues 5-0 earlier this evening and Osgood was stellar. And I don't mean he made a few saves, got out of his own way and won like Osgood usually wins. I mean he made big saves on the penalty kill, stopped a few odd-man rushes and stole a couple scoring opportunities to grab his first shutout of the season.

Mind you, this was against the St. Louis Blues, but I liked what I saw. It doesn't mean I'm ready to toss aside all I've said about Conklin and jump right on the Ozzie bandwagon again. But it needs to be acknowledged because whoever ends up between the pipes for the playoffs will be the guy I support. I put my faith in Uncle Mike.

Since his time off with goalie coach Jim Bedard, Osgood has started two games and allowed 1 goal. That's like...five goals below average! I hope it continues.

And yes, I have decided to completely omit the *gulp* EIGHT to ZERO loss to Nashville on Saturday from his resume and Conklin's because a) I was a few beers deep when I saw the box score on ESPN News and assumed it was a typo, b) I didn't watch a second of the game and therefore have no problem erasing it completely from my memory and c) I was in San Diego for the weekend drinking at a wonderful hotel bar where they were kind enough to skimp on the idenfitication process and I had no reason to think about hockey while sipping sweetness in sunny California.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I have left out the 8-0 mushroom cloud of apocalyptic shame because the Red Wings proved tonight that the game was an aberration. It was an embarrassment; there's no questioning that. But the team was hungry, angry, and ready to knock around some Blues. They proved to everyone in the league that Saturday's game was a typo; it was an anamoly. I was very happy to see that. Go Wings.

More on San Diego will come in the next couple days...I'm working on a longer piece for my feature writing class and I figured I would just post that here when it's finished. I'm sure you can tell from the previous couple paragraphs that I had a lot of fun but I can also assure you I learned a lot about gin and tonics journalism in the sun lounging by the pool conference sessions. Don't judge me.