Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Television Tuesday

Not to worry, I'm not breaking down tonight's "American Idol". Although, for the record, I did nail 6 of the top 7. My only screw up was over estimating Scott and under estimating Anoop. Yes, I understand that gloating about your ability to handicap "Idol" is something you should NEVER do, so let's move on and talk about the most exciting hour on network television, "24". And yes, you guessed it. We are going old school with seven questions:

7) Have we ever seen a more riveting comeback than this season of "24"?

In a recent article, the great Bill Simmons compared Jack Bauer's 2009 resurgence to D. Wade's '08-'09 campaign. It's a fair comparison, but I don't think it does Jack's comeback justice. The last season of "24", back in '07, was so abysmal that I honestly don't remember how it ended. I'm not even kidding. I thought about looking it up, but I figured that would undermine my point. And, of course, because of the "writer's strike" (a/k/a "Kiefer's time in the clink"), we didn't even have an '08 season of "24". But now, against all odds, we are approaching the conclusion of the best "24" season to date. The only comeback I think is even worthy of comparison is George Foreman's. Think about it: Foreman bursts on the scene and rises to the pinnacle of his profession (taking out Joe Frazier) and then falls as fast as he rose (the "Rumble in the Jungle" against Ali). Then, after time away to fight his personal demons, he reappears and regains the crown! Sure, Jack and "24" were only away for a year and Foreman was gone for two decades. And sure, Foreman was a fat middle aged man with five sons named George and a sweet home grill when he came back and "24" is a TV show, but you get the point, right?

(Note: I considered comparing "24's" comeback to MJ's '96 season, but I decided against it for two reasons: 1) MJ never fell on hard times before taking a "break" (you know why break is in quotes); and 2) Jack Bauer is amazing, but I couldn't bring myself to compare a fictional character to MJ. Not even Jack. There are some lines you just don't cross.)

6) How is the President going to react when she sees that tape of her daughter and the reporter?

In the grand scheme of things, this is not important. But, I know I'm not the only one that hasn't forgotten about the tape. This should be an amusing subplot in a week or two.

5) Are we ever going to see the First Gentleman again?

Honestly, I don't care, but I find it odd that we haven't heard a word about his condition in the past 12 hours. Plus, as my buddy, Timmy, pointed out weeks ago, there is no more amusing term than "First Gentleman." I just wanted an excuse to bust it out again.

4) How have I gone this long and not realized that Carlos Bernard is a terrible actor?

Tony Almeida has always been one of my favorite television characters. I was devastated when he died. I was elated when he rose from the dead. I was devastated when I thought he was a terrorist at the beginning of this season. I was elated when I thought he was a good guy this season (although, as I pointed out a few weeks ago, I never fully trusted him this season), and I was again devastated when we realized last week that he is, in fact, a terrorist. But, I was beyond devastated this week when he stood over Jack and delivered the "You just couldn't leave it alone, Jack" line. Not since The Beek busted out "I don't waaant yooour life" in "Varsity Blues" have I been more horrified by the delivery of one line. In that one moment, I realized that I have spent the past 8 years overlooking the fact that Carlos Bernard is a bad actor. I'm still shaken by this. On the bright side, after he dies in a few hours, I am demanding that he guest stars on at least three episodes of "CSI: Miami" so we can witness dueling monologues between him and David Caruso. Don't even pretend like you wouldn't watch this.

3) How did the Lakers just score 41 points in the first quarter of Game 2?

Okay, this has nothing to do with "24", but I had to ask. Has a team ever self destructed faster, for no apparent reason, than the Jazz over the past month? I'm saying no. Sorry, back to the task at hand....

2) Who will save Jack's life?

The obvious choice here is Kim Bauer. That completely ignores the fact, however, that Kim Bauer has never served any real purpose in her life. Maybe this is her chance to redeem herself, but I'm not betting on it. I'm going with an alternate theory: Jack captures Tony and is ready to lock him away for the rest of his life. Tony, however, possesses the antidote to the bio agent (he knew all along he was going to end up with a canister, so he has the antidote as a precaution). Tony tells Jack that he has the antidote, but the only way he will give it to him is if Jack agrees to kill him instead of put him away for life. Tony also gives us a Carusoesque speech about all the times he and Jack have shared, all he has given to his country and his friend, and he explains to Jack why he has done the things he has done. Ultimately, he begs Jack to let him die instead of spend the rest of his life in jail. Jack agrees. Tony gives Jack the antidote and Jack leaves Tony with a gun and tells him to do what he has to do. They share one last long and slightly unnerving stare, and then Jack walks away.

1) Where does Tony's betrayal rank in the history of betrayals?

It's almost impossible to quantify the extent of Tony's betrayal. Not only has he been actively engaging in a terrorist plot, but he has done so by completely playing Jack, Chloe, and Bill Buchanan. Forget the fact that he killed Larry Moss, who was a tool until two episodes ago, this guy betrayed the only people in the world that ever cared for him. And for what? Well, that remains to be seen, but whatever it is can't justify betraying his three most loyal friends. I mean, Bill is dead, Jack is dying, and Chloe almost went to federal prison for the rest of her life. On a betrayal scale of 1-10, Tony Almeida's season 7 ranks as a 117. That being said, how does it rank on the all time betrayal scale? Well, let's take a look in descending order:

  • Phil Jackson betraying Kobe with his tell all book. This would be higher if Kobe wasn't such a tool.

  • Shaq betraying Kobe by forcing a trade (don't kid yourself, Shaq forced that trade) and then publicly asking Kobe how his ass tastes. Again, this would be higher if Kobe wasn't such a tool.

  • Kobe trying to drag Shaq under the bus with him during his "issue" in Colorado. This would be lower if Kobe wasn't such a tool.

  • McSteamy sleeping with McDreamy's wife. This might be higher if it didn't make me look like such a tool.

  • Damon killing Nicholson in the "The Departed".

  • Ed Norton killing Donald Sutherland in "The Italian Job".

  • Elton Brand convincing Baron Davis to sign with the Clippers and then signing with the Sixers and ignoring Davis's phone calls for weeks. Seriously, how does he sleep at night?

  • Hartnett sleeping with Affleck's girlfriend in "Pearl Harbor". In Hartnett's defense, he thought Affleck was dead, but still.

  • Kobe quitting on his teammates in Game 5 of the First Round against Phoenix back in '06.

  • Everything that happened at the end of "Reservoir Dogs".

  • Mike Vick's "friends" selling him out for reduced sentences after he had taken care of them for years.

  • Joe Torre's book.

  • Brutus killing Ceasar.

  • Tony Almeida's season 7.

  • Judas handing over Jesus.

There it is, the definitive list of betrayals. Just to summarize, Tony Almeida, Judas, and Kobe Bryant. That's about all you need to know.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Television Talk East Dillon Style

Three things you need to know: 1) I watch a fair amount of television; 2) My buddy, Vines, watches even more television than me; and 3) I think "Friday Night Lights" ("FNL") is the best show on network television. Yes, even better than "24". That being said, since I finished watching Season 3 of FNL several months ago on DirecTV and most of the world only finished the season last Friday on NBC, out of respect for all the non DirecTV subscribers, I've been waiting to write about Season 3 for what seems like an eternity. In other words, I've known this column was coming for a while, but what I didn't know was that Vines would tee it up beautifully with an email this week. Suffice it to say, his very succint and insightful breakdown of the season led to my rambling and less than coherent response. Since most of my writing in this space is rambling and less than coherent, I figure there is no better way to share my thoughts on FNL than to simply cut and paste my epic email to Vines (with some "minor" edits and redactions). I, however, have not inserted Vines's email or response to mine, but if you are curious to see his thoughts, including his brilliant Season 4 plot line for J.D. McCoy, I'm sure we can coax him into sharing. Alright, enough of the intro, let's talk FNL:

This Coach Taylor situation is the most absurd thing I've seen on TV since Whitley married Dwayne on "A Different World". How do they fire him with that resume? How did he not condition his return from a D-1 position on a lifetime contract, or at least a multi-year deal? How in the world can he possibly agree to coach East Dillon? I mean, the Mean Machine had better facilities for God's sake. If this were real life, Coach Taylor would have two dozen job offers within 24 hours of being fired. And, if this were real life, the fact that his wife is inexplicably the principal (volunteer guidance counselor to principal? Really?) of the school that just crapped on his head wouldn't keep him from taking one of those jobs. I was furious when they screwed around with the whole "he leaves and comes back" storyline last year because it seemed so absurd, but this is much worse. It's beyond absurd. I'm getting angrier as I type, so let's move on.

In true WAD fashion, here are my 7 bold predictions for next year:

1) The show will be set in 4 locales: Dillon, Nashville (Lyla at school), Austin (Tyra at school), and San Antonio St. with Riggins.

2) Riggins will be jealous because Lyla is constantly talking about and hanging around other dudes; he will miss home; he will try to go home; and Billy and/or Coach will talk him into going back. We may even get a Jason Street cameo to seal the deal. Lyla will be infatuated with some "cultured" guys at Vandy (it is, after all, the Harvard of the greater Nashville area); she will still love Riggins, but they will eventually grow apart, etc... Ultimately, they will break up and Lyla will move to Europe for a summer and that is how she will be written off the show. Or, she may just start dating the Yankees' shortstop. I'm not certain about this just yet. All of this, of course, will happily lead to Riggins unleashed in San Antonio. I'm really looking forward to this. I can promise you I will say "I wish this show was on HBO" no less than 4 times an episode during this phase of Riggins's life.

3) Coach Taylor takes the job at East Dillon. He harbors latent resentment toward Mrs. Coach because he would have taken one of those other 24 offers if her inexplicable position as Dillon High principal didn't mean so much to her. This will lead to tense moments where Coach will passive aggressively call into question Mrs. Coach's commitment to Gracie Bell, etc... This, of course, will lead to her telling him to get over being fired, stop obsessing over football, stop being so selfish, love your family, blah, blah, blah. Ultimately, as the season moves on, he will see improvement in his new team; he will connect with a few of the kids; he will remember why he got into coaching; blah, blah, blah. As all this happens, things will get better between him and the Mrs. At the same time, however, Wade Aikman and JD McCoy will be putting up 50 pts/game over at Dillon and the local radio guys will have voice overs to the effect of "Thank God Coach Taylor isn't here anymore. Two title games and one title in 3 years just doesn't cut it in Dillon." These will be bad times.

4) East Dillon will play Dillon High for the first time in decades after Dillon has one of those nationally televised interstate games against a private Catholic school in New Orleans cancelled because of a hurricane in Louisiana. Aikman will challenge Taylor's manhood at Applebee's, and despite the fact that it could never happen in the real world due to about 1,789 regulations and government requirements, they will throw the game together in a day. The Lions, with their inferior talent and rag tag uniforms (we may see a single bar facemask), will play the game of their lives, but Dillon will beat East Dillon by two touchdowns after taking a pick back to the house while East Dillon is driving for the tying touchdown late in the game. When the game is over, however, Taylor's eyes will meet Buddy Garrity's and there will be a look of recognition from Buddy that says, "We don't ever want to play them again. Taylor is going to build a giant at East Dillon."

5) As for Matt and Julie, things will go well at the beginning. Matt will work part time for a local graphic designer while attending classes at the local community college. He will also have some late night film sessions and solid bonding moments with the Coach. Then, towards the end of the season, Grandma Saracen will die. This will be very sad, and it will inexplicably (because, other than Landry, Saracen really has no friends) bring everybody back to Dillon for her funeral (we might even get a little drama if Lyla brings Derek Jeter to the funeral!). This episode will culminate with Riggins and Saracen sitting by a camp fire drinking their faces off with Riggins essentially convincing Saracen he is bigger and better than Dillon and its not fair to himself or Julie if he stays behind because of her. The episode closes with Saracen saying, "no regrets" and Riggins saying, "Texas forever". The next week, Saracen leaves Julie and enrolls in Art School in Chicago and departs from the show. We will miss him.

6) As for Landry and Tyra, you can expect the typical stuff....kind of. We expect her to go to Austin and party herself into bolivion (trademark Mike Tyson), but instead, she really takes to school and the culture, etc... She finds herself as a person and really likes who she's become. She is also more into Landry than ever, and they see each other every other weekend. Ultimately, however, Landry starts to push her away because he becomes an all-conference receiver and starts to rake in the ladies. Okay, absolutely none of this is going to happen, but I really wish it would. I think it would be terribly amusing to see Landry juggling Rally Girls.

7) Finally, we have the big finish to the season. JD McCoy will have the greatest sophomore season in Texas high school history. He will break every record and Dillon will win State. Through it all, however, the pressure from his Father will become unbearable. He will lose his passion for football and long to be a kid. This will ultimately lead to Joe McCoy again beating the crap out of JD. This time, however, JD and Mama McCoy are having none of it. They can't believe what Dillon High football has done to Joe, and they don't want to see it rob JD of his youth. The season will close with JD and Mama McCoy showing up at the Taylor's doorstep, hats in hand, and asking Coach Taylor to let JD play quarterback for East Dillon next year. And, BAM!!!! Coach Taylor is back in the game and competing for a state title in 2010!

Okay, odds are that none of this actually happens. But, be honest, if I promised you this season you would watch! Right?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

An Experience Unlike Any Other

I assume it is pretty clear by now that I am more than just a casual sports fan. Truth be told, in my 31 years, I have derived an inordinate amount of pleasure, excitement, and relaxation from playing and/or participating in sports. In fact, when compared to the percentage of those emotions derived from non-sports related activities, the numbers are staggering, and yes, potentially sad. That being said, without question or dispute, my favorite annual sporting event is the Masters. For over seven decades, during the first full week of April, the golf world has descended on Augusta, Georgia. Consequently, hundreds of millions of eyes from around the world have focused their attention on Augusta, and for as long as I can remember, my eyes have been among them. Unfortunately, however, with the exception of one practice round visit back in '05, my eyes have always watched from the couch. Well, due to the generosity of my good friend, MJ, that unexpectedly changed on Saturday. When MJ sent a text late Friday evening offering up two badges for Saturday's round, it took all of 7 seconds for me and DB to respond, "where and when do we meet you?"

That being said, for this article, I toyed with idea of explaining why the Masters is so special to me. You know, I thought about taking you on a trip down memory lane with Jack in '86, Larry Mize in '87, Norman and Faldo in '96, Tiger in '97, Phil in '04, Tiger from behind the 16th green in '05, etc... Ultimately, however, I decided that you know the history, and if you don't, you probably don't care. Also, I toyed with the idea of attempting to describe how, in person, The National's beauty exceeds even your wildest expectations. Then, as I attempted to do this, I realized that there is a reason The National is more beautiful in person than you can imagine: words and television images simply cannot describe what the human eye can process. To attempt to do so would be foolhardy. So, what's left for me to talk about? The answer is simple, Tiger Woods. For those of you that know me well, this answer lacks originality, but hopefully this take does not.

Saturday was the fourth time I've seen Tiger Woods in person. The first was with DB and our buddy, BH, at a Wednesday practice round at St. Andrew's in 2000. The second was a brief one hole walk with my buddy, BP, at Doral in the second round in '05. And, the third was a brief stint at the aforementioned Master's practice round, with BP, in '05. Each of those three experiences were fun, but they don't even belong in the same conversation with Saturday's experience.

On Saturday, DB and I picked up Tiger on the 6th green, just after he hit the stick with his tee shot, and we followed him through Amen Corner, and we picked him up again on the 15th green. During this span, we witnessed Tiger drop a bomb for birdie on #9 and about a 12 footer for birdie on #12. We also witnessed Tiger miss some very makeable putts along the way. The putts and the shots, however, are not what I will remember. Instead, I will remember the electricity in the air that envelopes everything above, around, and near Tiger when he is on the course on Saturday at the most special of all golf championships. As you would expect, his gallery was close to ten deep, but it's not the size of the gallery that is remarkable, it's the collective emotions. When Tiger steps over the ball, you can FEEL the collective excitement and tension of tens of thousands of people at one time. You can feel everyone collectively hoping that they are seconds away from witnessing something they've never seen before. But, at the same time, you can feel everyone collectively hoping Tiger doesn't hit a poor shot or miss a putt. In other words, you can feel that every single person in that gallery, in their own unique way, for whatever reason, feels personally invested in Tiger's play. I honestly can't explain this sensation.

For the first several holes we followed Tiger, I felt a little bit like an outsider standing back and watching this phenomenon from a distance. I was aware of everything, but I didn't really feel like I was a part of it. Then, DB and I found a great spot on the back right side of the 15th green, and we had a clear view of all the happenings there and the entire 16th hole.

The 16th hole, of course, is one of the great cathedrals in all of sports, not just golf. Tiger promptly made birdie on 15 and made his way to the 16th tee. As he stood on the 16th tee surveying his shot on this legendary par 3, I was literally struck numb. I know it sounds crazy, but from time to time, you have such a startling revelation that renders you physically numb. Well, as I stood there watching the greatest golfer of all time preparing to hit his tee shot on the hole I've seen countless times on television in the past 3 decades, in a setting that defies words, I suddenly realized: TIGER FREAKING WOODS IS ABOUT TO TEE OFF ON 16 AT AUGUSTA, AND I'M STANDING RIGHT HERE WATCHING IT!!!! This was Bird in the Boston Garden, Mays in the Polo Grounds, Favre at Lambeau, Ali vs. Frazier in the Garden, Connors in Queens, Mantle and DiMaggio at Yankee Stadium, Jordan in the old Chicago Stadium, etc... (I'm sure I'm leaving some obvious ones out, but you get the point). In other words, this was the greatest performing on the greatest stage.

Well, needless to say, without even realizing it, I was a part of everything I had witnessed over the first several holes with Tiger. I was invested. In that moment, more than anything I've ever wanted, I wanted Tiger to hole out. At the same time, just as badly, I didn't want Tiger to hit a wayward shot and find the bunkers or the water. It was truly exhilarating. In the end, Tiger hit a pedestrian shot to the middle of the green and went on to make a par. Well, it wasn't the ace I'd hoped for, but it wasn't a wayward shot either. What I now realize, however, is it didn't need to be either. The scene, the moment, the numbness, the anticipation, the excitement, and the anxiety all added up to a moment I will remember for the rest of my life. In an era where we attempt to define sports greatness strictly by numbers and statistics (a trap I admittedly fall into), I can assure you that you can't even begin to define Tiger Woods's or Augusta National's greatness with statistics. They both transcend empirical proof.

In the same vein, as DB and I drove the 2+ hours back to Atlanta, I asked him how the Masters ranked among the greatest sporting events he's ever seen. Without boring you with all the details of the conversation, I will tell you that DB, with his usual even-handedness and wisdom, put things in perspective for me. We shouldn't waste our time comparing one sporting experience to another and trying to rank them in some order of greatness. To do so tends to cheapen each of your sporting experiences just a bit, and that's not fair to the experience or you. That being said, I'm not going to attempt to quantify how special Saturday was for me. Instead, I will simply tell you that it was among the best sporting experiences of my life, and I sincerely hope that all of you that love sports are able to experience a weekend at Augusta. I assure you that you won't forget it.

Finally, before signing off, I would be remiss if I didn't comment on Sunday's final round. For those of us that love the Masters, we will long remember today. We will remember Phil's record setting front nine and his subsequent toe to toe battle with Tiger through 16. We will remember Phil and Tiger running out of gas on 17 and 18. We will remember Kenny Perry's birdie on #12, and his subsequent bogeys on 17 and 18. Because of Perry's bogeys on 17 and 18, however, I fear we won't remember Angel Cabrera's fantastic performance in capturing the Green Jacket. There is no doubt that Kenny Perry gave him some help along the way, but Cabrera's par on the first playoff hole was nothing short of spectacular. And, his approach on the second playoff hole was as clutch a shot as we saw all week. The bottom line is that Angel Cabrera won the Masters, and Kenny Perry did not lose it. I fear this opinion will place me in the minority in the short term, but I am hopeful that will change over time.

So, the NCAA Tournament and the Masters are in the books. Next stop, NBA Playoffs. As Verne said on #17 back '86, YES SIIIIR!!!!!

Monday, April 06, 2009

One Shining Moment, Sort of!

I’m coming to you live from the WAD Palace on one of the greatest nights of the year. Among college basketball players and coaches, it is simply known as Monday Night. I will refrain from waxing poetic, as I am sure Jim Nantz will adequately cover that department. Suffice it to say I’m excited; you’re excited; Tyler Hansbrough is psychotic; and we’re all ready to crown a new NCAA basketball champion. I’m joined here in the Palace by my buddy, CP, and he’s stuffing his face with a salad from Whole Foods. Not to worry, he does like sports. In order to commemorate the occasion, I will, of course, show a complete lack of originality and, as I’ve been known to do, borrow from the great Bill Simmons and give you a running real time commentary of tonight’s action. Here we go….

9:09 – Tracy Wolfson is up close and personal with Roy Williams. Four notable things here: 1) Tracy is a very attractive woman; 2) Roy is doing his best to look her in the eyes (failing miserably); 3) Roy just tried to convince America that he is actually concerned about MSU’s Greg Ostertag look alike (Suton); and 4) Roy apparently does give a sh*t about UNC tonight!

9:12 – We get a look-in on Tom Izzo’s pre-game speech. CP just summed the speech up perfectly, "Well, I guess he really is a great x and o guy, because he sure isn’t inspiring."

9:18 - Jim Nantz is doing his best Michael Buffer impersonation, and this place is going insane. Granted, 87% of the people in attendance can’t see a damn thing, but this atmosphere is tremendous.

9:19 - God Bless CBS’s camera and sound guys that just gave us a close up of Raymar Morgan dropping the night’s first two F bombs. And, for the record, thank you, Raymar. In case we couldn’t read his lips, Raymar made sure it was loud and clear.

9:20 - Is Wayne Brady really starting at PG for MSU? CP was so excited about this we had to rewind just to see it again. I was on the fence until now, but between Raymar and Wayne Brady (Kalin Lucas), I’m squarely in the Spartan camp.

9:25 – In case you weren’t sure, it’s been 30 years since Bird and Magic squared off for the Title. To prove it, we just saw the Legend and Magic receive the game ball fully equipped with one of Larry’s classic, "I’m going to smile because I’m supposed to, but I really don’t like Magic" looks.

9:26 - We have to do re-do the jump ball. Awesome start. This is going to be an instant classic! Can you feel it.

9:27 - Suton for Three with Psycho T in his face! I love the fact that he just put that in T’s face, but I’m not loving the fact that we are going to hear David Stearn say the following words this summer: With the 22nd pick in the 2009 NBA draft, the Atlanta Hawks select the Big Goofy White Dude from Michigan State.

9:29 - Raymar just checked back in the game. Does MSU have a rule that if you drop multiple F bombs during introductions you have to be yanked in and out of the game in the first 2:17 of the game? Or, has Paul Hewitt inhabited Tom Izzo’s body?

9:33 – T just hit a fall away to push UNC to a 10 point lead going into the first T.V. timeout. More notable than that was Clarke Kellogg’s deft analysis that "Right now, Carolina is making threes and making twos." I guess that explains that why they have 17. Thanks, Clarke. On the bright side, Clarke may too often state the obvious, but at least he doesn’t sound like he is one bad shot away from going on the court and physically assaulting a player. We miss you, Billy. Okay, that’s not true in the least. (Side note on Clarke: CP just remembered the first time he saw Clarke doing a game, and he thought to himself, "That guy won’t ever do another game." That was 15 years ago. You have to love the networks. Seriously, do they let the NFL owners make their announcer assignments? Let’s hope so. What could be better than Wade Philips and Dick Jaron calling next year’s Final Four?)

9:38 – Ty Lawson is so much quicker than everybody on the floor right now. And, right on cue, Roy Williams takes him out of the game. I guess he’s a little embarrassed that the ‘Heels are up 14 less than 7 minutes into the game. Or, maybe he’s trying to preserve Lawson’s toe for the next game. What? There are no more games? I guess Roy is still reeling from his pre-game interview with Tracy.

9:41 - We just learned that MSU’s Chris Allen a computer engineering major. His team is well on its way to being run out of the building, but he’s got a real major. That’s something, right?

9:44 – Ty Lawson is back in the game for six seconds and has a steal and is fouled going to the basket the other way. Shocking that good things happen with Ty on the floor.

9:45 - We are at the second T.V. timeout, and CP and I just had the following exchange:

Me: This is going to be a blowout.

CP: Oh yeah.

I’m already excited about hearing Clarke and Nantz filling the air time in the second half. Over/Under on Nantz’s Master’s references: 13.

9:47 – Wayne Brady was just called for a carry. Oh, boy. Isn’t that a little unfair?

9:49 – We are less than 10 minutes in and UNC is already up 20. I'll be honest, if CP wasn't here, I'd probably watch "24" on DVR.

9:52 - We have just less thank 10 minutes left in the first half and UNC is already in the bonus. The Psycho One is going to shoot 8 free throws before the half. He can barely contain his excitement.

9:53 – CP just pointed out that if we extrapolate this score out, we are looking at about 120 – 40. Yes, CP went to Tech. And yes, he may be correct.

10:00 – Clarke just caught an errant pass and assured us that he wasn’t going to go on the court and hoist a shot. At this point, I’m not sure Izzo would be opposed to that.

10:01 – Raymar just got crushed in the nose by Danny Green. Unfortunately, we couldn’t hear his reaction.

10:04 – CP and I just discussed the merits of Applebee’s featuring nothing but overweight people in their commercials. And yes, this might have been the most entertaining 2 minutes of the night to this point. CP thinks they are wisely playing to their demographic. Me, on the other hand, as a fat person, feel exploited. Shame on you, Applebee’s!

10:08 – Lawson to T for a deuce. Stated differently, a man with an amazing NBA career ahead of him to a man whose athletic life is peaking tonight. For the record, that’s not a bad peak. Isn’t it odd that Tebow and T are going to win titles in the same year? I mean, they are both arguably two of the best college players of all time in their respective sports, but neither of them have a chance in hell at excelling at the next level. Trust me, I’m not trying to diminish their accomplishments, I think those speak for themselves. I’m simply pointing out how coincidental it is that they would both reach the mountaintop in the same year.

10:12 - CP and I were both just taken with this nugget from Clarke, "If MSU could somehow go on a mini run and cut this to 10, 12, or 14 before the half, that could bode well for them in the second half." Stated differently, Clarke thinks it would be a good thing for MSU to have less points to make up in the second half! Seriously, I’m no longer asking politely, I’m demanding Gus Johnson and Bill Rafferty at next year’s Final Four. I mean, you have the best play by play guy on the planet and the best color guy on the planet on the payroll and you refuse to put them together! In the words of Nancy Kerrigan, WHY? WHY, CBS? WHY?

10:14 – CP: Blog this….(followed by...well...you can figure it out). The Palace now smells weird. I'm kicking CP out at halftime.

10:18 – Wayne Brady just banked in a prayer. All is not lost for the Spartans, I guess.

10:21 - Halftime. UNC threw up the most points in a first half in Championship Game history (55). UNC has the largest halftime lead in Championship Game history (21). And, the WAD Palace smells even weirder. I’m definitely kicking CP out.

10:29 – Okay, CP is gone, and we were just treated to Greg Anthony’s suit, and we are anxiously awaiting a halftime visit from Magic. In the meantime, let’s talk a little bit about why this game is such a mismatch. Are you ready? 1) Ty Lawson plays for UNC; 2) UNC is playing defense with an intensity I haven’t seen from a college squad in many years, possibly since Nolan’s Hogs gave us 40 minutes of hell. I know that sounds like in the heat of the moment hyperbole, but I really don’t think it is. I mean, NOTHING is coming easy for MSU. UNC has looked great at times this year, but they’ve never looked this great. Well, except for maybe the first time they beat MSU down this year; and 3) Did I mention Ty Lawson plays for UNC.

10:43 – We are underway with the second half. MSU promptly turns the ball over. I’ve got a sneaky feeling there will be less entries in the second half of this running commentary.

10:49 - 16 minutes left, down 21, and MSU just a attempted a 30 foot alley-oop in transition. I’ll let you guess how that turned out.

10:50 - If one exchange can sum up a game, we just saw it. MSU cuts the lead to 18 (first time it’s been under 20 in as long as I can remember), UNC comes down and misses a shot, and as MSU starts the other way in transition, Lawson grabs his record setting eighth steal, then feeds Davis in the post for the bucket and 1. So, if you are keeping score at home, that’s a steal, an assist, and MSU’s heart in 7 seconds, all courtesy of your soon to be Oklahoma City Thunder point guard, Ty Lawson (Good grief, I just got so excited about the thought of Lawson playing with Kevin Durant that I totally missed the subsequent five minutes of this game!).

10:56 – Did you know CBS has live streaming video of Amen Corner on cbs.com?

10:57 – Bobby Frasor just got in the scorebook. Sure, it was a foul, but his family has to be excited.

10:58 - Bobby Frasor with a big rebound and a big F You to The WAD.

10:59 - If you had Nantz using "spurtability" before Clarke in the office pool, lunch is on you tomorrow.

11:00 – Speaking of the Masters, what do Phil Mickelson and MSU’s Draymond Green have in common? I’ll give you a hint: Roy Williams would have to really try hard to look them in the eye if they were interviewing him.

11:10 – MSU just cut the lead to 15 for a brief moment, and actually looked a little frisky. UNC, however, promptly bumped it back up to 19. MSU only seems to make any headway when UNC let’s things get sloppy. Even then, it’s remarkable how hard MSU has to work to score. We are at a real breaking point in this game. UNC is either going to get sloppier as the last 7:33 ticks away and this game is going to finish in the 13 – 17 point range, or UNC is going to put the hammer down one more time and win this thing by 30 points. I’m betting on the latter. Any takers?

11:15 - We just got a nice look at Hasheem Thabeet in the crowd. It must be Spring Break at UConn because he didn’t look too concerned about missing class. Then again, it would be pretty tough to see any concern behind those sunglasses he was wearing. It must be pretty sunny inside the dome. It did, after all, snow today in Detroit, and that usually brings blinding indoor sun with it.

11:35 – I’m still here. MSU has stayed frisky enough to keep it in the 13 – 17 range. You should have taken that bet when I gave you the chance.

11:37 – Raymar Morgan just fouled out with 2:36 to play. He only had four points, but he gave us two memories we’ll remember for a long time. Yes, I’m again talking about the F bombs in the introductions. And, yes, I’m that immature.

11:38 - Okay, Bobby Frasor just scored. I’m done.

11:40 – Oh, wait a minute. We just got the mandatory shot of President Obama playing with UNC during the campaign. Now that’s out of the way, we can officially call it a night.

As much as it kills me to say it, congratulations to Carolina. It was another great NCAA Tournament, and at least we can all go to sleep tonight with the knowledge that the best team in America is hoisting the trophy. That, of course, doesn’t always happen, and I, for one, am happy when it does. Now, if you will excuse me, I’m going to bed because I’m old, and that is how I roll.