Browsing Tag: sports


    What It’s Like to Attend a BCS National Championship College Football Game

    January 13, 2013

    game-ticketAfter Notre Dame beat USC to guarantee a spot in the national title game, I jokingly applied for the school’s official ticket lottery … me and a zillion others. Needless to say, I wasn’t selected with odds like that. And I thought that I hurt my own chances by applying as a single ticket buyer; surely they’d make more money by selling to pairs and larger groups of people.

    But when the rejection letter also included a mention of a second-chance offer just in case some of the chosen ones decided against buying the ticket packages, I also signed up for that. What the heck, right?

    And then, about 10-14 days later, that’s when sh** got real, as the saying goes.

    December 13, 2012

    It’s about 3:00 pm PT and I’m in my car, sitting in the parking lot of my daughter’s school. She’ll be out of school soon and I’m waiting to get her and head home.

    My cell phone phone rings.

    I never answer the phone if it’s a number that I don’t recognize. And I didn’t recognize this number. But below the number, the caller’s location was showing: “South Bend, IN.”

    Holy crap. That’s where Notre Dame is located. Could they possibly be calling me about the BCS game?

    I thought for a couple seconds and decided to answer.

    Sure enough, it was the travel agency that’s handling the official travel/ticket packages and they had some cancellations and chose my name from the waiting list and was I still interested in going to the game?

    HELLZ YES!!!!!!

    The young lady — I think her name was Julia — started going over all the details with me, but I was in the car and didn’t have a pen to take notes. Plus, my daughter had just gotten in the car and we needed to move along so other parents could get their shorties.

    I asked if I could call back later. The gal said I could, but it was 6:00 pm there and she was headed home for the day after maybe 1-2 more calls. She said there was no guarantee they’d still have openings in the morning, but I could leave a message and I’d be her first call the next day if there were.

    I got home in a panic and called Cari. She said I had to go, even though the ticket/travel package was really expensive. I was feeling guilty even before committing to go. She said Notre Dame may never play for the championship again. Go!

    I also emailed Danny Sullivan and Barry Schwartz about work scheduling — I knew that Barry would be in Israel while the BCS trip would happen, so it might make things really tough if both he and I were traveling at the same time. But his schedule in Israel was actually not too bad, so there were no work-related problems.

    I called back to the number that Julia had called from. Got her voicemail, but the message listed a general number that I could try calling.

    I did. Another gal picked up; don’t recall her name. I told her I was speaking with Julia a half-hour earlier but was in the car and couldn’t talk, and wanted to get more info. This gal went over the whole package offer with me again, and the prices, and the hotel choices and everything else. Did I want to buy?

    I did. I gave her a credit card number and five seconds later she said, “Okay, it went through. Congratulations!” I asked her what would happen if I found out the next day that I can’t go — can I cancel? “Well, you can cancel but we can’t offer refunds. All bookings are final.”

    We ended the call and I felt awful. Not guilty-awful … well, that, yes … but I felt physically ill. Like I was going to throw-up or faint or both. I called Cari back and told her it’s done, and that I felt sick. She again tried to make me feel better, but it wasn’t too successful.

    Even though I felt terrible, I sent out an excited tweet (that I now regret).


    I felt sick for most of that night. It took a few days for me to feel okay with everything.

    December 18, 2012

    Anthony Travel, the official tour operator, sends me a five-page email with details about all the associated events happening in Miami for Notre Dame. I’m not arriving until late on Saturday the 5th, so I’ll miss that day’s fun.

    December 27, 2012

    Anthony Travel ends me another email. It’s now eight pages of ND-related events, including Sunday Mass and some community service stuff, too.

    January 2, 2013

    Three days to go. I’m gonna need a ride from the airport to my hotel, so I contact the trusty car service that Notre Dame’s tour operator recommended. They said this company was offering discounts to tour package buyers like me. Got an email back saying my one-way ride in a sedan would be $195, or I could get an SUV for $235.

    Wow. Okay “discount,” I see how it’s gonna be this week. (And I’ll take my chances with a cab, thank you verra much.)

    January 5, 2013

    The big day! I’m due to wake up at about 4:15 am so I can catch my 6:00 am flight, but my body decides that 3:33 am is the perfect time to wake up in fully-alert-mode, so … yeah.

    It was Notre Dame Central at the gate for my second flight — San Francisco to Miami. Fun chatting with fellow fans.

    While we’re in flight, the Notre Dame events are underway in Miami. There’s a big fanzone/fan experience thing happening all day, and then the official Notre Dame pep rally is tonight. We’ll all miss it, which means we’re missing the chance to see hear Lou Holtz in person. I was tempted to break out my spot-on Holtz impression to make up for this, but decided against it.

    Cab ride to the hotel was fine, and $90 cheaper than the “discount” towncar offer.

    January 6, 2013

    Since I arrived so late last night, today was my first chance to really check out the hotel and local area. Beautiful!!! The view from my balcony is incredible, and there’s a lot of nice shops and stuff right along the beach.

    There are all kinds of Notre Dame events planned today, but I’m not going to any of them. They’re all about 30-40 miles away down in the South Beach area, and the bus schedule wouldn’t let me get down there and back in time for today’s Seahawks game. The 12th Man has his priorities, after all.

    I did, however, check in with the tour operator people to pick up my game ticket and other passes for tomorrow. Super excited!!! Here are some photos from the day.


    (You can click that one for a bigger panorama view.)



    The Alabama hospitality area for our hotel was about 30 feet to the left of ND’s, and it was empty. Local media said last night that there seems to be a lot more Irish fans here than ‘Bama … we’ll see.

    January 7, 2013

    Game day! I have to say that the folks at Anthony Travel have done a great job organizing everything in this tour package. In addition to the emails earlier and the info packet I picked up yesterday, I was also able to sign up for text alerts/reminders of all the important day-to-day things — very helpful.

    The bus left at 10:30 am for the drive down to Miami and the day’s first event — a Notre Dame-only tailgate party. On the bus ride, I sat next to an older lady who lives in South Bend and whose family has had Notre Dame season tickets for 101 years! Can you imagine?

    Anyway, good food, lots of things to see and do, and some fun speakers at the tailgate party. Dick Vitale came out first and fired everyone up, and Cris Collinsworth was next (his son plays for ND). The ND cheerleaders and leprechaun were there. Guess I’d say that I had about as much as you could have at that kind of event when you’re by yourself and don’t know anyone. Sure wish I could’ve brought my son along … would’ve been much more enjoyable to share the whole day with him.

    Here are some pics from the ND tailgate party.


    (You can click that one, too.)



    From there, we loaded up the buses and went to the stadium. There was a massive tailgate event out in the parking lot that was packed. Hung around there for a while, then spent an hour in line so that I could be one of the first fans in the stadium. It worked; I was about the 20th person let in. Walked around a bit and grabbed dinner before heading up … and up … and up … and up to my seat. Wow. I was in the ND end zone, six rows from the top of the stadium.

    As the stadium filled up, it was clearly a major Notre Dame crowd. We probably had 60-65% of the seats. Sadly, the team didn’t give us much of anything to cheer about. Still, despite the lopsided final score in the bad guys’ favor, the whole thing was a great experience that I’d gladly do again if Notre Dame gets another chance.

    Go Irish!

    And I’ll finish with some photos from the stadium and game…





    What NFL Experts Said About the Seahawks’ 2012 Draft

    December 29, 2012

    seahawks-logo-helmetThe Seahawks have clinched a playoff spot and have a slim chance of winning the NFC West.

    They have a fantastic rookie QB in Russell Wilson, who was drafted in the third round and very well might win Offensive Rookie of the Year ahead of the No. 1 and and No. 2 picks in the whole draft.

    They have a budding pass rushing star in Bruce Irvin, who was drafted in the first round and currently leads all rookies in sacks with eight.

    They have an excellent rookie MLB in Bobby Wagner, who was drafted in the second round and leads the team in tackles and might get consideration for Defensive Rookie of the Year.

    Overall, seven of the Seahawks 2012 draft picks have seen considerable playing time this year. By any measure, it was a GREAT draft for the Seahawks. And that’s what makes some of these “expert” draft grades so funny. (Note: Thanks to Geordie Romer for a tweet that inspired this post.)

    Donald Wood, Bleacher Report

    Gave Seattle an “F” grade. Drafting Wilson was “by far the worst move of the draft.” Drafting Wilson and Irvin were “the two worst moves of the draft.”


    Jason Cole, Yahoo Sports

    Gave an “D-” grade overall. Says Russell Wilson will “be lucky to be Seneca Wallace” and the Seahawks “are no closer to solving the QB situation now than they were before 2011.”


    Pete Prisco, CBS Sports (Round 1 grades and Round 3 grades)

    Overall, he gives Seattle a “C+” grade. He calls Wilson a “strange pick.” Says Melvin Ingram, who was picked by San Diego at No. 18 and has one sack in 15 games so far this season, would’ve been a better pick.


    Matt Miller, Bleacher Report

    Gave Seahawks a “D” grade overall. Called Irvin a “grab.” Says Seahawks “messed up” by drafting Wilson. Says those two picks were “just bad.”

    miller-bleacher (author not listed)

    Seahawks get a “C” grade overall for their “blah” draft. Seahawks were “bonkers” for picking Irvin. Says that Wilson “has a bright future, even if Seattle didn’t really need him.”


    Vinny Iyer, Sporting News

    Overall grade is a “D.” He says the Seahawks drafted “defensive head-scratchers.”


    Dalton Johnson, Bleacher Report

    Gave the Seahawks a “C-” grade. Says the Seahawks draft was “full of reaches,” including all three top picks — Irvin, Wagner (or “Wager”) and Wilson.


    You might be wondering what Mel Kiper — ESPN draft guru — had to say. His full grades are “insider” content on, but this Mike Sando recap says that the ESPN crew gave Seattle a “C-” grade — tied for the lowest of all 32 teams — and that Kiper said he had “huge questions” about the Hawks draft.

    To be fair, some of the writers above admit that it’s best to wait a couple years before really grading a draft, but that sure didn’t stop them from making some ridiculously wrong immediate reactions to what the Seahawks did.

    Who Got It Right (or Close to Right)?

    John Czarnecki did a pretty good job on Fox Sports. He called the picks “one shocker after another” but gave the Seahawks a “B” grade. He had good things to say about both the Wilson and Irvin picks.


    On, Chad Reuter only gave the Seahawks a “C+” grade, but didn’t completely dismiss the Wilson pick (he’s a “reliable reserve.” Heh.) and praised the Bobby Wagner pick.

    Moral of the Story

    NFL “experts” sometimes don’t have a clue what they’re talking about. And sometimes, the guys in an NFL team’s front office have a better idea about which college players are good draft picks and which one’s aren’t.



    Why I’m a Notre Dame Fan

    December 28, 2012

    notre-dame-logoHere in Washington, you’re either a Cougar or a Husky. There might be a few stray Gonzaga, Oregon or Oregon State fans around … but sports fans in this state are defined by whether they root for Washington State University (Cougars) or the University of Washington (Huskies).

    So people are always surprised to find out that my college sports heart is located a couple thousand miles away in South Bend, Indiana: home of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

    I grew up in Pennsylvania, went to college in southern California, and have lived most of my adult life in Washington. How’d you get to be a Notre Dame fan?, everyone around here asks.

    It’s actually pretty simple.

    1.) I’m Irish and grew up in a Catholic neighborhood and school.

    2.) My aunt got her PhD at Notre Dame and was an associate professor there. And, get this … one of her students was a guy named Joe Theismann. True story. They reconnected a few years before my aunt died at some kind of reunion or similar event, and they took photos together and he signed some footballs for her — one of which is still in our house right now.

    3.) My childhood neighbors were a Notre Dame family. The father and first son, I think, both went to Notre Dame and were big fans. So whenever I’d be at their house on a Saturday, the Notre Dame game would be on.

    4.) Notre Dame was (and still is) a national program that was on TV all the time. Not only on Saturdays, but also on Sundays. Every Sunday morning, either before or after Mass, the Philadelphia TV channels aired two separate college football shows — a one-hour highlight recap of the Penn State game a day before, and a one-hour highlight recap of the Notre Dame game a day before.

    So, in a nutshell, I was surrounded by Notre Dame via family, friend and neighborhood connections, and they were on TV all the time.

    It was easy to be a Notre Dame fan. It’s been more difficult over the past 20 years or so, but now the Irish are relevant again nationally and I’ll be screaming at the top of my lungs when they play Alabama for the national championship in a couple weeks.

    You can have your Huskies or Cougars. I’m all Irish!


    Felix’s Perfect Game … as seen in Jackson, MS

    August 15, 2012

    This is awesome.

    Felix Hernandez threw a perfect game today, the first one in Mariners’ history. Starting at about the 5th inning, I was holding my breath with every batter he faced and tweeting as he got through each inning without letting anyone on base. It was electric to watch from home.

    Meanwhile, the Jackson Generals were watching, too. That’s the Mariners’ AA-level farm club and here’s what it looked like as they were getting ready for their game and watching Felix on the scoreboard video screen.

    How great is that?


    Goodbye Ichiro

    July 23, 2012


    In a few hours, I’ll be settling in for what’s almost a daily summer routine: Sitting down to watch the Mariners game on TV with my son (sometimes) and wife (occasionally). But tonight’s game will be anything but routine.

    We’ll be watching Ichiro Suzuki play in a Yankees uniform.

    The Yankees!!!!!!!!!! The evil empire of major league baseball!!!!! My least-favorite sports team in any sport … well, aside from the Pittsburgh Penguins.

    That’s gonna be strange. And, even though he’s a shell of the player he was a couple years ago, it’ll be a little bit sad.

    Don’t get me wrong: I won’t mind at all seeing the Mariners play younger guys who can improve the team for the long haul, and I didn’t want Ichiro to come back to Seattle next season. It’s time to go in another direction.

    But, at the same time, there’s this: Ichiro is easily one of the top five Mariners ever, and there were summers in the not-too-distant past that Ichiro was the only reason to bother watching a Mariners game.

    And here he is again … in another long summer … giving us a reason to watch the Mariners.


    Why All the Thunder Hate?

    June 10, 2012

    okc-thunderI just spent a few days over in Seattle last week. Plus, one of our local radio stations has started carrying Seattle’s KIRO-AM — an all-sports station — and it’s probably the best thing on radio in my hometown (where radio is really, really bad).

    So, I’ve been listening to a lot of Seattle sports radio. And I’m really baffled by all the hatred toward the Oklahoma City Thunder. Hatred toward Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Scott Brooks and everything associated with the Thunder.

    As this article in the NY Daily News explains, there’s still a ton of bitterness in Seattle over the team’s move to OKC four years ago.

    I totally get that.

    But I don’t get why the bitterness and hatred should be directed toward Kevin Durant. Or Scott Brooks. Or the team’s GM (Sam Presti).

    They didn’t move the team out of Seattle.

    Clay Bennett moved the team and the rest of them had no choice. So if you’re gonna hate, direct it toward Bennett, not the players.

    I’m not much of an NBA fan these days but, wow, Kevin Durant is a joy to watch. And, as far as I know, he’s never been in trouble with the law. He seems to have a good head on his shoulders and conduct his business the right way.

    So, while all of Washington state is hating on the Thunder, I’ll be rooting for them in the NBA Finals. Because I don’t think the players deserve any hate. And because, let’s face it, when you talk about unlikeable teams, there’s no team in the NBA that comes close to the Miami Heat.