Friday, January 7, 2011

First Riverside Rants of 2011

New Year’s Day. 2011.

I’ve been thinking about some reasonable resolutions for a few weeks now. More playing tennis. Less watching Family Guy DVDs for the 38th time. More cooking. Less mochas. More time reading books, less time reading updates on the Charlotte Bobcats (it’s good to get away from sports a little bit, even though it’s my job.)

Then I come up with another one: more blogging. I was super-committed to The Other B.S. Report during senior year (even during the all-important job search) and then into my first year at the Times (even when I was working my butt off trying to get comfortable). For whatever reason - and no, I don’t have a good one - I got away from it.

So it’s settled. 2011 resolution: more blogging.

But it would really help if I got my co-blogger involved. Let’s get Mr. Walnick on the horn, yes?

Turns out B-dubs beat me to the punch. Facebook post on Jan. 1: "New Year's goal. 200 posts between the two of us on the blog... and no less than 1 post a week.:"

200 posts? THIS YEAR?!?!

Love it.

Don’t know if we’ll reach it. But we will die trying. Okay, we won’t die. But we’ll try hard.

And to expand our horizons a little bit, we’re in the process of bidding adieu to good ol’ Blogspot. We both have enough friends who have started up websites or blogs of their own that it’s time we feel savvy enough to do the same. it is.

Kicking off the first Riverside Rants of the new year:

- At 6:03 p.m. on Dec. 18, the Davenport Assumption girls tipped off at Pleasant Valley.
- At 8:31 p.m. on Dec. 19, the North Scott boys tipped off with Rock Island at Augustana College.
- I only covered seven basketball games in between.
- That’s right. Nine basketball games, start to finish, in a 28-hour span.
- I like my job a little bit.

- The roughest part, actually, was then going to Playa del Carmen, Mexico for a week, having one of the greatest trips of our family’s history ... and then returning to reality. You literally feel unmotivated and a little depressed coming down from that high. The worst parts of vacations, definitely.
- But to relate our trip to a little bit sports, let me ask you people something.
- One of the days on the beach, my bros and I had hooked up with another family of three siblings (two girls and a guy, from Texas) along with two other guys from Michigan State. Eight of us had formed a volleyball team, and we were having fun playing some other teams, winning a couple and mostly losing while grabbing pitchers during our off-games.
- Late in the afternoon, this 6-foot-4, 25-ish guy wearing an AEP Sports shirt (we couldn’t figure out if that represented the same fraternity Dan belongs to) is out there and starts dominating everybody. And not just on the scoreboard. He was visibly pissed when other teams - okay, our team - was trying to (gasp!) have a little fun on the court. If one of our players missed a shot and we started laughing, he scowled. Heaven help us if we tossed the ball back to the other team’s server and it sailed wide.
- To kick off one game, he literally spiked a screamer into one of the MSU guys’ gut. The dude never smiled. He just wanted to kick everyone’s ass and show how good he was.
- The interesting part I noticed, as the sun began to set, was after 12 games of them on the court (because, of course, you keep playing until you lose in pickup, a stupid rule to begin with), I noticed that ALL FIVE OF HIS TEAMMATES had left. He simply grabbed different teammates and continued playing.
- Once he finally had enough, he grabbed his keys and sunglasses, and took off. By himself. He had no one else there with him, no friends or family or anything.
- Now I ask you: cool or not cool? It became kind of a talking point that night at dinner. One of the MSU guys is a tennis player like me, and we were each working up the courage to challenge AEP to step out on the hardcourt with us. See how he likes it when one of us sticks an overhead in his oblique.
- Of course, we didn’t do that. But is that really what you would want to do with YOUR vacation? Go out and dominate a bunch of amateurs in your preferred sport and suck the fun out of it for everybody?
- There. That’s my Riverside Rant of the Week, vacation-style. That was honestly the only potential down point of the whole time in Mexico (other than me getting sick at the end). What an unbelievable seven days we had.

- I’m not sure if John Clay was simply too gimpy to earn more than 11 carries in the game - and, impossibly, just four in the first three quarters - but that will be all part of the second-guessing. Montee Ball was excellent, and UW had a true three-headed monster at running back. But when the chips are on the table, in your biggest game of the year, your best player has to be your best player. That’s not just cliche, it’s truth.
- Scott Tolzien didn’t have his best game. Nick Toon made a few big plays, but that’s really been Toon’s issue, is being more of a big-play threat than a consistent possession guy who can take over entire drives or games.
- The more I watch No. 99 of the Badgers, the more I continue to think that hearing the words, “With the second pick of the 2011 NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos select ... J.J. Watt, defensive end, Wisconsin” would the best pick they’ve made in a number of years.
- Go ahead and snicker. Heck, Broncos fans might not even know who Watt is. I’m just telling you, I’ve watched a lot of college football these past five years, and I’ve been watching pro football my entire life, and every single team in the National Football League could use a J.J. Watt on their team.
- Put it this way: Trevon Hughes once said of Michael Flowers, “he just runs on oil, he don’t eat no food.” Watt plays every game like he just sucked Alaskan pipelines dry before the coin flip. Can’t speak for defensive linemen in the SEC or Pac-10, but if I’m an NFL team, I’d take Watt over Iowa’s Adrian Clayborn and probably even Purdue’s Ryan Kerrigan.
- It was a year to remember for Wisconsin fans. Judging from immediate reaction on the part of the Badgers, it might not have been enough. That team wanted 12-1, not 11-2.

- What a mess Pittsburgh has on its hands. Mike Haywood gets hired to coach the football team because he fits “in line with the values of this great university."
- A few weeks later, he’s fired for being arrested on domestic charges. Guess that doesn’t fit in line with Pittsburgh’s values.

- Of course, we’re speaking of the University of Pittsburgh. There’s a certain quarterback for the professional team in town that’s wondering why Haywood was fired.
- (Thank you! Thank you! I’ll be here all week!)

- Next week, check out the blog for my take on the Dreadful Denver Nuggets and why their successful run is over.

- Also, pretty soon, I’ll finalize my 5th Annual Sportsman of the Month column. I want to see if I can do one of those every year until 2060 or I’m in the ground. Whichever comes first.

- Thanks for all your support, guys and gals. We hope you enjoy the new blog, and stay in touch whenever possible. I miss most of yous.

- In general, I am supremely motivated for 2011. It was my high school hockey jersey number. Odd years have always been my years. Let’s have a great 12 months.

Have a good one.


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