552 miles... 1 million more smiles.

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Obligatory Sports-Related Post

A few random thoughts, since I haven't blogged in about a week.

If you're a basketball fan in any way, shape, or form, watch ESPN tonight for the NCAA women's tournament. They're in the regional finals, and some of the most dominant progams in NCAA hoops history are sqaring off... North Carolina vs. Tennessee and Duke vs. U-Conn. And while you're watching Connecticut, keep your eyes open for Ketia Swanier. She's a nice kid and she's quick like lightning.

Speaking of basketball, are your brackets as funked-up as mine? I read yesterday that of the 3,000,000 people who entered ESPN's "Bracket Challenge," FOUR correctly picked the Final Four. I correctly picked ZERO. And, oddly enough, on Saturday, I was in first place in one of the pools I entered.

How fun is this? Peyton Manning vs. Eli Manning on a nationally televised game to kick off the NFL season. I wonder who Archie will be rooting for?

The Red Wings are the only team in the NHL's Western Conference to clinch a playoff spot... and they still have eleven games left this season. And Steve Yzerman is now 8th all-time in scoring.

Did you see the practice wreck that killed IRL driver Paul Dana? Did your local news show it? I didn't. It was just too much. On the other hand, if both Dana and Ed Carpenter had survived, I would have shown it... probably while saying something retarded like "what a spectacular crash!"

Interestingly enough, I spent last Wednesday morning at Target with the adorable (but tiny) IRL racing series champion, Dan Wheldon, who won last year's Indy 500. And not a soul recognized him (And, to be honest, had he walked by me at a Target store, I wouldn't have recognized him, either). Can you imagine, though, if it had been a NASCAR driver instead of an open-wheel driver? There would have been a stampede.


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Monday, March 20, 2006

Ask the "Expert"

The company that owns my station also owns/operates several radio stations in the area... for the second time since coming down here, I've been asked to appear on one of the local morning shows. The first time was kind of fun, but kind of awkward... we talked about spring training, and I really didn't have a whole lot to say because games hadn't started yet. But I played along and had a little fun with it.

This time, they want me to talk about the NCAA tournament... of which I am even less of an expert. Aside from winning the pool once at my old station (a moment of glory which I still relish), I really don't follow basketball until this point in the season... then I feel like I'm cramming for an exam when tournament time rolls around.

When the producer called and asked me to be on the show, I said... "Ok, but my bracket's just as hosed-up as everyone else's."

I got a off to a rough start... Picking Kansas in my final four wasn't the best idea. Who knew they'd lose to my long-time nemesis Bradley University? Good for Bradley, though. If you've ever been to Peoria, you know those people really need a reason to cheer.

Actually, on Saturday, I was telling a co-worker that I need to write a letter to myself and put it in some kind of time capsule for next year. I need to include all the lessons I learned from this year's tournament... all the same lessons that I should have learned last year, but then forgot over the course of 12 months.

Well, here's the problem with the time-capsule idea. I move a lot. So I can't bury the note in my backyard or stash it in the attic. Where else but this blog? So if you see any postings entitled "Note to Self," feel free to take a few notes and learn the lesson along with me. Hell, bookmark the page for the 2007 Tournament if you like. Just don't use my words of wisdom against me.


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Note to Self (For 2007)

When a team struggles during the regular season, then wins their conference tournament, they're not "Hot" or "On a roll."

Remember Syracuse? Xavier? Beware.


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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Unsolicited Testimonial

Have you tried Mandarin Orange Slice One? Pretty tasty.


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Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous

Since coming to the Sunshine State, I've spent my fair share of time rubbing elbows with sports celebrities. Most of the time, I'm interviewing them (See "Manny being Manny" below), but every now and then, I just stumble across somebody quasi-famous. And now and again, I completely miss them (Like the day I was at a high school basketball game when Mike Ditka stopped by the station.)

A few months ago, I got to interview Jack McKeon, who coached the Marlins to the World Series a few years back. He was a guest speaker at a "senior living community" in the area (as you may have guessed, there are a lot of "senior living communities" around these parts). McKeon had a great sense of humor-- his performance was more of a stand-up comedy routine than a speech. And he was pretty friendly afterwards. He tolerated my stupid questions with a smile, which was nice. By the way, if you've ever heard him called "Trader Jack," it's because he once traded away his son-in-law.

Speaking of championship coaches, a few weeks ago, I was shooting a minor league hockey game from the press box, turned around, and Scotty Bowman was standing there. As one fan who also spotted him said, "it's like seeing the Pope!" Bowman was shooting the breeze with some of the local print media guys, but I was too chicken-shit to go over and meet him. Later, during the game, I was kicking myself for not at least saying hi. Well, I got my chance when the game was over... I walked to the elevator, and he was standing there, waiting for the elevator, all by himself. No, I didn't ask him for an interview, or stick a microphone in his face. I didn't want to interview him... I just wanted to meet him. So I introduced myself, and told him I grew up in Detroit and was a big Red Wings fan... and he didn't say one damn thing back to me. He just turned around and stared at the elevator doors, waited for it to arrive, and walked inside, where he continued to ignore me. So either he hates television media, or he hates women. Either way, I'm not a fan of his any more.

This last week, there was a Champions Cup tennis event nearby, and I headed over to interview Michael Chang and Jim Courier. They were both really nice. Chang, by the way, looks exactly the same as he did when he was 17 and won the French Open. Unfortunately, he got injured while I was there covering the event. Courier was not only one of the nicest "celebrities" I ever met, he was seriously one of the nicest people that I've ever met. He must have thanked me for being there four times (I usually only get thanked for interviewing someone by parents, when I put their kids on TV). Since then, I've jokingly been referring to him as "my boyfriend Jim Courier" around the newsroom. Last night, my actual boyfriend fiance, Cory, went with me to watch Courier play Pat Cash in the tournament finals. Fortunately, Cory isn't easily threatened. (By the way, Courier won, 6-4, 7-6).

Finally, my most recent brush with celebrity came this weekend at the Twins game. They were playing the Detroit Tigers, and as I walked down the hallway by the press box, I spotted an old man wearing a Tigers cap. Is that Ernie Harwell? I couldn't tell for sure, since I haven't seen him on TV in about fifteen years. Then, just as I passed him in the hallway, he turned and said something to someone else, and I heard his voice. It was, indeed, Ernie Harwell... no doubt about it. I couldn't believe it. No, I didn't go over to meet him. He was talking with a few people at the time, and I didn't want to interrupt. I'd like to think that he's a nice guy.

So, there you have it... my brushes with so-called "greatness." So, who have you met? Were they weenies, or were they pretty cool? Discuss.


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Monday, March 13, 2006


Trying to do your taxes is bad enough... trying to do your taxes on the computer via a dial-up connection that disconnects every 10 minutes or so is ridiculously annoying.


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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Back in the Saddle... sort of

I'm trying to get back in the blogging habit, after abandoning it for my first two months here. It's not that I haven't had things to talk about... because I've had plenty. Covering the Twins and the Red Sox has kept me busy, and I have a ton of spring training stories I could share.

The problem is America Online. We needed to switch to dial-up internet access once we moved here to save some money. Unfortunately, installing AOL on our computer also meant that the AOL installation disk overloaded our computer with tons of crappy software we didn't want. Our computer was running so slowly that to do anything online took about ten times longer than it should.

I got sick of it the other night and asked Cory to cancel AOL (90 days "risk free," so at least we'll get our money back). We switched over to PeoplePC, which hasn't been perfect, but it's been much, much better. Plus, it's substantially cheaper than AOL.

So, at least in theory, I should be able to blog more.

In the meantime, I'll share with you one little story about Spring Training. Any of you who follow baseball know that Manny Ramirez showed up for camp two weeks late. Everyone just writes it off as "Manny being Manny," a phrase I've heard so many times in the last week that I could scream.

Manny's (late) arrival was so highly anticipated that around camp, we stopped referring to the day that he was scheduled to arrive as "Wednesday," and started calling it "Manny Day."

He was required to report by 9:00 am. I rolled in around 9:02. The parking lot attendant smiled at me and said "Manny's here."
I parked my car, and the guard at the player's parking lot told me "Hey, Manny just got here."
I carried my equipment to the training complex, and the two security guards said "We just saw Manny a couple minutes ago."
I walked around to the back of the complex, and there were approximately 12 television cameras (including ESPN), and 20 radio and print reporters hovering outside the clubhouse door. I resisted the urge to say "Hey, is something important going on today?"
Surprisingly, Manny actually talked to the media. Afterward, every single person I talked to for the rest of the day asked me, "Did you see Manny?"
So, how big was the story? I overheard the NBC affiliate from Boston actually cutting into "The Today Show" for a live report on Manny's arrival. Seriously.


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