Tuesday, March 30, 2010

There is such a thing as good grief. Just ask Charlie Brown.

Butler 63 - Kansas State 56.

The sight of that score, the thought of that game, the mere mention of the Final Four- It all still stings, like an unexpected pass caught by your nose. Two days after competing in one of the greatest games in NCAA Tournament history, the K-State Wildcats fell short in their bid to reach the Final Four for the first time since 1964. The loss wasn't an easy one to take. The Cats actually led by a point with just four minutes left in the game. As with any loss, there were decisions to question and plays to wish they could try again.

Really there seemed to be all sorts of things to regret. The loss had the author of this very blog so down that he actually boycotted sports for the next day-and-a-half. Yes, we're talking about the same blog author that has watched all seven rounds of an NFL Draft from start to finish. The same blog author who watched well-over 100 televised Royals games last year. The very same blog author that has read more books about Michael Jordan than exist in the Harry Potter series. This guy boycotted sports. Why? The Final Four was right there! They were so incredibly close! Why bother with sports if they always end in disappointment?

Thankfully, as has happened a bevy of times before, the author then realized that he was being moronic. K-State just wrapped up one of the greatest seasons in team history. They won 29 games, topped the then-No. 1 team in the nation, played in the championship game of the Big 12 Tournament and advanced to the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament. Jacob Pullen became on of the top players in the nation and Frank Martin was honored as the top coach in the conference. This was the season I was grieving over?


In the past 20 years I had witnessed K-State fall to the depths of the college basketball world, where prized recruits are drawn from towns like Brewster and Junction City. It's where your team loses exhibition contests to teams named after video game companies. It's where there's extreme disappointment when your team can't bring in a 7-foot volleyball player to protect the paint and where your only time on SportsCenter comes when your center commits one of the most boneheaded plays in the history of the sport. (See: Fiasco, Pasco)... As recently as five years ago, my hopes for a "successful" season hinged on the decisions made by the NIT selection committee.

The big picture point here is that I - along with many fans that continually shuffled into Bramlage Coliseum during the Asbury and Wooldridge eras - have seen some pretty rough basketball. (And by "rough," I mean horrible.) The progress made in the past four years has really been just short of incredible. The Wildcats have a very solid foundation returning next season - in essence, only losing Denis Clemente - and can expect to be a top-ranked team in 2010-2011 preseason polls. Depending on potential departures from that school down the road, K-State could even enter the season as the favorite to win the Big 12.

Will there be tough losses in the future? Absolutely. Grief that corresponds with the losses? Sure. But, considering where the program has been, it's pretty good grief.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Wow. I say that in Elite fashion.

6 Xavier vs. 2 Kansas State Highlights

Go Cats!

Monday, March 22, 2010

A Taste of the Tourney

A trip to Oklahoma City to take in some NCAA Tournament action provided plenty of material worthy of being dissected by The Writings. This is the first of such dissections.

When you watch the tournament on television, you get a good feel for the excitement surrounding each game; the pep bands, the zany mascots, the antics of the head coaches, and every smile or grimace painted on the faces of the student-athletes are all captured in fine fashion by the television cameras. Alas, there's an important facet of the tournament that goes unnoticed by the television viewing audience. I'm talking, of course, about the lane sweepers.

Every four game minutes, there's a media timeout scheduled in college basketball. This largely serves as an opportunity for television and radio stations to broadcast the commercials of their sponsors. But, while you are stuck wondering what Luke Wilson has done to be featured on three of every four commercials aired, back at the arena the limits of child labor laws are pushed to their max. Oddly, it proves frighteningly entertaining. You see, the third graders pushing mops at the Ford Center stuck it to the man in their own fashion: they didn't pay a lick of attention to what they were doing.

Sure, when a timeout hit the floor, they'd wield their mops and towels with ninja-like readiness, but when it came to actual sweeping, well, it didn't seem to be the primary thing on their minds. A young girl pushed a mop aimlessly while apparently searching the crowd for the Jonas Brothers. Typically, the in-game mopping is limited to the free throw lanes on the court, but this girl didn't bother to limit her range, reaching the mid-court line without thinking a second thought. Her two towel-dragging partners did not fare much differently, watching the scoreboard screens rather than actually making sure they were soaking up any moisture that might have dripped onto the floor. Sure, the static graphics on the screen were exciting, but the players that hydroplaned on slick spots might have appreciated if the gallon of sweat left on the floor by modern giants had been soaked up.

If my brother and I had any sense at all, we would have begun betting on whether or not this trio would actually come close to doing their assigned jobs each timeout. It was undeniably entertaining.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A Splendid Day

Saturday, March 20, 2010 will go down in Derek Larson history* as one superb example of why March is one of the greatest months of the year. Much more on this later.

*Warning: Overall, Derek Larson history is pretty boring.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Basketball, St. Patrick's Day - How could they not be connected?

It seems fitting that St. Patrick's Day coincides with college basketball's March Madness year. After all, basketball is a sport filled with towering athletes who are unbelievably athletic and St. Patrick's Day brings to mind... stubby folks drinking booze.

Okay, maybe the connection is not crystal clear, but the fact remains that the two events typically arrive hand-in-hand. There's no doubt* that truth behind St. Patrick's Day is that it's a celebration of leprechauns' (prior to their unfortunate extinction) adoration of sexual harassment. How else could one explain all the pinching?

*Editor's note: There's plenty of doubt. Nothing but doubt, really.

No matter what the motivation is behind the "holiday"*, the fact remains is that there seems to be a conspiratorial motive behind it this year. Those who don't wear green on St. Patrick's Day are pinched, mocked, and occasionally subject to ritualistic sacrifice. This makes the fact that Kansas State University plays a team known as the Mean Green tomorrow oddly coincidental, no? A mass convoy of basketball fans will converge upon Oklahoma City today, all wearing green. If you were from North Texas, wouldn't such optical support give your at least a slight boost of confidence? Where's National Barney Appreciation Day when we need it?

*"Holiday" in this usage, means "excuse to drink like a dippy bird."

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Pick Me, Pick Me

Though it was unfortunate to see the Kansas State Wile E. Coyotes come up short again in their pursuit of the Kansas JayRoadrunners (I knew K-State should have worked an Acme anvil into their game plan), such disappointment evaporates quickly upon realization that today is Selection Sunday.

Today marks the first Selection Sunday that I can remember where the fact that the Wildcats will be announced as one of the teams in the 65-team field is inarguable. The Wildcats have earned the success they have encountered this season and today we find out how they'll be rewarded. I'd argue that they should be no lower than a No. 2 seed, but - as wacky as it might sound - I'm not sure than any members of the tournament selection committee read this blog. (I know, I was shocked upon this realization, as well.)

With so much basketball coming later this week that it could very well drip out your ears*, it's clear why mid-March is one of the greatest times of the year. It's also clear that I should be sure to work some tournament blogging in.

*If this does happen to you or a loved one, please seek medical assistance.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Everything Sports

In the world of college basketball, it's time for conference tournaments. In Major League Baseball, clubs are soaking up sun in spring training. Though NFL teams are not anywhere near turf, bidding on free agents is in full swing and the NFL Draft is not far off. With so much going on in the world of sports, it's tough for me to think about much else while flipping through television channels. Consider the listing of programs on the air as I type and tell me that the titles bring to mind something other than sports.

PBS - The Civil War
A detailed account of the Royals' clubhouse once annually disgruntled outfielder Jose Guillen once again loses his gruntled state of mind.

CNN - Anderson Cooper 360
A serious journalist gets out from behind his desk to show off his acrobatic dunking skills on the hardwood.

TNT - The Closer
A camera crew films everything that Royals' reliever Joakim Soria does. Everything. It's a bit intrusive.

FX - Damages
An in-depth study on the effect that recent seasons by the Kansas City Chiefs have had on the mental stability of area fans.

MTV - The Buried Life
A historical recap of Kansas State basketball under Tom Asbury.

A&E - Hoarders
A 24-hour-a-day rundown of the New York Yankees batting order; a lineup whose No. 8 batter could very well be the second-best hitter on the Royals.

TLC - Cake Boss
Former Kansas football players discuss their nicknames for the former Kansas football coach. (What? Too soon?)

Disney - Hannah Montana
The Cleveland Browns' quest to find a quarterback goes to extreme lengths, as they suit up a teenage girl simply because she shares a last name with one of the greatest signal-callers of all time.

Science Channel - Machines of Malice
A study of the Magic 8 Ball that gave the Royals advice on the trades of Johnny Damon, Jermaine Dye, and Carlos Beltran.

WE - The Golden Girls
A 24-hour replay of the Canadian women's hockey team's boozy gold-medal celebration.

G4 - Cops 2.0
Because Cops 1.0 just wasn't enough for the Cincinnati Bengals.

CBS - CSI-Miami
Investigators try to determine why it takes simultaneous acts of God and of congress just to get Michael Beasley on the floor in the fourth quarter.

It seems pretty clear that television wants me to think about nothing but sports. After all, that's only a look at 9 p.m. programming. I need ot find something that will get my mind off quality athletic competion... Hey, it's the Tennis Channel.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

It's Like the Author Writing a Book of Dating Tips

Let's say you're in the market for a space heater. You know, something that is powered by electricity,* yet gives off that "we're too lazy for a real fireplace" vibe.

*The Writings' Word of the Day: Electricity. Per the folks at Merriam-Webster, electricity is "a fundamental form of energy observable in positive and nagitve forms that occur natrually or is produced and that is expressed in terms of movement and interaction of electrons. Per the fork in my wall socket, electricity can leave you feeling a bit frazzled. Per Bunny Wailer, things that are electric can lead to the boogie woogie woogies.

When looking for such a product, what qualities might draw your interest? Sure, you'd probably look at cost-efficiency. Yeah, you want to make sure the item doesn't look like a 1980s toaster oven. Since its primary function is, you know, putting off heat, you also probably want to make sure it can do that without serving as a severe threat to your home's (hopefully) current non-burning status.

Would you, however, be swayed by the fact that this very heater is custom-built by the Amish? Yes, the folks wildely known for wearing beards with no mustaches, riding in horse-drawn buggies, and refusing to adopt modern things like electricity.* Does the fact that "entire communities of the Amish" (per ad found here) are working on the product you will put in your home and rely on to provide electric heat without turning your living room into a live-action portrayl of Backdraft keep you feeling snug? 


 Do you feel that a wood-product is crap unless crafted by the Amish? Would a plaque that confirms that the product is, in fact, crafted by the Amish help set your mind at ease? After all, per the product's website, the Amish "are sticklers for quality." It seems that we can therefore assume that all others don't really give a flip.

Perhaps you need testimonials. Do these real-life praises leave you searching for your credit card?
- "I have four Heat Surge fireplaces and I give them a 10 star rating."
Ten stars! Ten! Even if she means the 10 stars are to be distributed among the four fireplaces, that's still 2.5 stars per fireplace. Think about it.
- "We are pleased with our fireplaces to a very high degree."
Ha! Pun!
- "... I like to just sit and watch the flames while I'm watching television."
It even promotes multitasking!
- "It doesn't smoke..."
And it's tobacco free!
- "The propane salesman is very upset because we are not buying as much propane this year."
HeatSurge: Stick It to the Gas Company!
- "The house got really cold while my power was off..."
Uhh... Nevermind. Don't even think about getting a real fireplace.
- "I love the fact that our Heat Surge is environmentally safe because it does not emit noxious fumes."
If only we could all have such kind words said about us.

Does the name "HeatSurge" bring to mind comfy warmth and not flames tearing through your walls?

If your answers to these questions are "yes," then, my friends, the Heat Surge is the product for you.