When Your Team Comes Before Yourself

Last night in my blog post, amongst all of my ramblings about the Women’s World Cup, I stuck in a tiny paragraph at the end speaking about Christian Lopez, the twenty-three year old Yankees fan who caught Derek Jeter’s home run ball that doubled as his 3,000th hit. I commended Lopez for his classy act of returning the ball instead of cashing in on a huge pay day. I was touched by this guy’s selfless act and I thought most other people would be too. Very rarely am I right.
This morning I could not believe how bad Lopez was getting ripped by sports talk radio for doing what he did. People called him an idiot. People said he got caught up in the moment. People said he made the biggest mistake of his life.  Very vocal in his disdain for Lopez was Mike Greenberg, co-host of one of my favorite sports talk radio shows, “Mike and Mike in the Morning.” Greenberg saw no value at all in what Lopez did, and was almost to the point of anger at his decision. Fans who called in were even more harsh.
Are we so money hungry as a society that we can’t appreciate and accept the gracious act of this young man? This whole deal fires me up so much because what would have happened if Lopez caught the ball and then didn’t give it back? He would have been absolutely crucified. I guarantee the guy would not have been able to show his face at Yankee Stadium for the rest of his life. He would have become to the Yankees what Steve Bartman is to the Chicago Cubs. So what I am trying to point out is that Lopez was in a lose-lose situation in the eyes of the public no matter what. Give the ball back and you are stupid or keep the ball for yourself and you are a greedy, heartless fan. This is completely ridiculous because he caught Derek Jeter’s 3,000th hit that happened to be a home run…it should be one of the major highlights of his life!
There is no way we should look at Lopez this way. We should have respected that he was in a great position and accepted whatever choice he made. If he did decide to keep the ball, good for him. He was at the right place at the right time.  He literally had an opportunity of a lifetime knocked right at him and if he decided to cash in on it, more power to him…totally his choice.  However, he chose to give the ball back, an unbelievable gesture that no one should criticize. I find it crazy how quick we are to bring someone down who had a stroke of good fortune. I find it even crazier how we are so quick to bring someone down who had a stroke of good fortune and then decided to decline the full fruits of his luck by making someone else’s day, even if it is a multimillionaire athlete who has been making 20 million dollars a year for the past decade.
You know what Christian Lopez is? He is a true fan. He understands baseball. He understands the unique connection that exists between baseball players and memorabilia. He understands what that baseball means to Derek Jeter. I guess maybe that is why so many people were so quick to criticize and judge Lopez, they just don’t understand. You see, that is the problem with fans. Many people who call themselves “fans” are not really fans. They do not understand the game but they think they do. They do not understand the inner-workings of the sport and everything that transpires to make the final product (the actual game in the stadium) possible. They are ignorant enough to put themselves on the same level as the coaches and players. Because I have a job in sports, I encounter true fans and imposter fans every day. Someday on this blog I am going to devote a 5,000 word post on what it means to be a fan, get ready cause it is coming. But all that matters for this post is that Lopez put his financial gain on permanent hold so he could honor a player on the team who he pours his heart and soul into. The imposter fans who called in today to all of those talk radio shows who walk around with a bandwagon attitude of “what have you done for me lately?” would have cashed in that ball in a heartbeat for a cool half million. Not Christian Lopez. Haters, get off the guy’s back and accept the fact that you will never be half as classy as a certain twenty-three year old who puts his team before himself. Love it.
Yes, Lopez did get rewarded for his noble gesture. He now has four premium seats in Yankee Stadium for the rest of the season. He also got some memorabilia from Derek Jeter. You know what though? He is still reportedly around $100,000 in debt from college loans. Now this is not my idea as it was discussed on many programs today but how nice would it be if Derek Jeter himself made that debt disappear? I believe Jeter will eventually do it and this whole story will go down as one of baseball’s best feel good stories. Please Derek, write a check.
I think Derek Jeter’s 3,000th hit and Lopez’s gesture put a great cap on the first half of the Major League Baseball season. I have had such a great time following the MLB this season and attending games. You bet I will be glued to my TV tomorrow to watch the MLB All-Star game, by far the best all-star game out of the four major sports in the country. I am an American League fan so hopefully they will get back on track after last year and start a new winning streak. I am looking forward to seeing my Mariner representatives contribute (except for Felix who is ineligible to pitch since he threw for the Mariners on Sunday). Here’s to a great 2011 All-Star game and an even better second half of the season! Don’t Blink.

A Great Day For Women’s Athletics

I have my certain way of knowing if an event is indeed big time or not. If it is big time, I know that the country is simultaneously locked in on the event and I could pretty much walk into any house in America and the family I  would walk in on would actively be engaging in dialogue about the happenings. But wait, what is my method for knowing that the United States is locked in on an event? Simple, whenever Twitter gets backed up and a tweet that is sent out is not relayed to my cell phone for a good couple hours after it is initially sent I know something big has occurred. It happened with the Super Bowl, it happened with Bin Laden’s death, it happened with the Casey Anthony verdict just last week, and it happened again today.
Unless you drank so much last night that you never got out of bed or if you do not have television or if you are just one of those people who despises sports, you know what I am referring to. This morning (afternoon for those on the east coast), the United States Women’s National Soccer team kept their World Cup hopes alive as they stunned Brazil in one of the most engaging and suspenseful sporting events I have ever watched in my life. With the Americans all but left for dead, they miraculously scored in the 122nd minute of extra time to tie the game at 2-2. They would go on to win the shootout and advance to the semi-finals of the World Cup.
Because I am a die hard sports fan and because I become even more obsessed when an American team is competing, I watched the whole game from start to finish. I was hooked. But you know what? So was the rest of the country. No, this game was not some niche that only soccer enthusiasts and single dudes with nothing better to do on a Sunday morning watched…it was a game that everyone watched. The whole game my phone was blowing up with Tweets centered on the U.S. vs. Brazil match. I logged onto Facebook probably four times throughout the game and each time I was on, my newsfeed was dominated with status updates about the game. By the time Brazil was given the phantom re-do on that penalty kick to pull ahead, Twitter was backed up.
I write this blog post tonight because of my desire to mark the positive turn women’s athletics in the United States took today. In a society where the coverage and interest of athletics is clearly focused on men,  this morning’s match pushed males to the side and for at least today and for the duration of the American’s tournament life, put females at the forefront of the athletic spectrum here in the United States. We are really going to need a helluva Home Run Derby and All-Star game for the discussion to be taken away from the American ladies. Again, I watched in amazement as the country’s interest in the Women’s World Cup heightened each minute that the match went on. It was remarkable to see the twists and turns that popped up throughout that match. Honestly, you can’t write that stuff.
I cheered my heart out this morning. As I watched in realtime the interest level of the nation go up, I cheered harder. It became very obvious that people were going to latch on to this World Cup deal for however long American was in it. For the sake of women’s athletics and for country pride, there was so much more riding on this game besides whether the Americans would experience their earliest exit in a World Cup competition or not. In dramatic fashion the Americans pulled through and guaranteed themselves at least a few more days as the country’s darlings. A big victory indeed.
I want to just touch on a few observations regarding the World Cup and the American team:
I tell you, sports announcing in other countries is so much different than in the United States, especially when it comes to soccer. After watching the men’s World Cup last year and then the women’s World Cup this year, it is pretty hilarious to listen to these English announcers call games. They hold nothing back, especially their judgment. They are absolutely ruthless on game officials. If there is a questionable call, they are going to go off. In America with a sport like baseball or football, a play-by-play announcer would be suspended if not fired if he went off on a crusade like some of these English announcers do. It is definitely different but it reminds me that different cultures do many things uniquely. Ian Darke, the guy who called the play-by-play of  the game today and who has done many of the other marquee games during this World Cup, would not let anyone forget about how the Americans got screwed on Brazil’s penalty kick that they shot twice. He made sure to keep the country’s anger boiling throughout the rest of the match. I liken English soccer play-by-play announcers to American sports talk radio hosts. They are big time personalities.
You want to know a reason why this American team is so much fun to watch? They have captivating, colorful athletes making up their roster. Not to mention gorgeous ones.  Heather Mitts and Alex Morgan are dead sexy.  Of course, Hope Solo (Richland, Washington represent!!) is a complete knockout. Talk about the total package. Okay, I do not want to be that shameless, testosterone driven guy though. The reality is, besides great looks the American team has personality. Abby Wambach is a woman who is on a mission and who is great with the press. Megan Rapione is also fun to watch and gives a great interview as well. These women are not robots. They are out there representing our country and having a great time doing it.
How about that Brazil player faking her injury towards the end of the game today? Probably one of the reasons why I am not the biggest soccer fan to begin with, I had never quite seen something that bush league in my life. For those of you who do not know what I am talking about one of Brazil’s players got “injured” in the closing minutes of the game today. In soccer, the clock does not stop as they add “extra time” to compensate at the end of regulation. Anyway, this player is down on the ground for around four minutes as they bring a stretcher on to take her off the field. Keep in mind, Brazil is nursing a one goal lead. Once she is loaded on the stretcher they take her off…the minute the people carrying her on the stretcher are off the field, she hops off the stretcher and later re-enters the game. Complete bunk.
Just want to again accentuate the drama that was played out this morning. From the time that Abby Wambach scored that tying goal to the shootout that advanced the Americans to the semi-finals, I really think that that sequence will go down in history as one of the most suspenseful moments in American sports. It was that good. Again, it really did bring the country together (thanks to social media) and made superstars out of Wambach and Hope Solo.
Way off topic but I have to get this in before closing up this post. Derek Jeter, congratulations on getting hit #3,000. You did it in grand fashion with hitting a home run to mark your milestone. I have to give big props to the fan who caught Derek Jeter’s #3,000th hit home run ball. With no questions asked, he gave the ball back to Jeter. Keep in mind, experts put the price of that ball at no less than six figures. Should I mention that the fan who caught that ball was 23 years old? I am honestly so impressed with the unselfishness and classiness of that guy. Yes, he did get four premium seats for the rest of the games at Yankee Stadium for the 2011 season but he could have gotten so much more. I put myself in his situation and of course while I am sitting right here in my comfortable living room I don’t hesitate in saying that I would give the ball back to Jeter as well but to be in the heat of the moment right after catching it I don’t know if my good intentions would hold up. You are one good man Mr. Twenty-Three Year Old.
I can’t wait for Wednesday. Actually, I can’t wait until tomorrow! Home Run Derby on Monday, MLB All-Star game on Tuesday, and World Cup soccer on Wednesday. Going to be a great week in sports. Remember, in order not to miss it, do one thing: Don’t Blink.

Lebron and “The Decision”: One Year Later

If my dad had not been born on this date, I would forever remember it as the day in which the inflated egos of professional athletes reached an all-time high. I would remember it as the day in which my faith in professional athletes to show a little decency hit an all-time low. I would remember it as the day in which professional athletes thought they were worthy enough to air on national television a special about their next business move.
Thank God for my Dad.
Today marks the one year anniversary of Lebron James’ infamous “The Decision” special in which he told a live ESPN audience that he would be leaving Cleveland and “taking his talents to South Beach.” A year later I am still appalled by the spectacle that Lebron put on during the summer of 2010. It was the epitome of selfishness and ego.  In this post I will touch on the implications of Lebron’s decision one year later. However, as I usually do, I want to digress on one year ago briefly.
I hate to say it but I really believe “The Decision” is one of those moments for sports fans that you recall in the same way as where you were when Kennedy was shot or what you were doing the morning of 9/11. You can immediately place yourself in the exact moment of where you were and what you were doing when King James uttered his famous words. There was just so much build up and hype for an event that had simply never happened before and it was involving arguably the best known basketball player in the world. Not only that, but the secret of where Lebron was going to go was pretty much a well-kept secret all the way up until about three hours before “The Decision”. Still, even after reports surfaced that Lebron would sign with the Heat, you still did not know for sure. You had to watch.
I was traveling from Missoula to Seattle to watch the Mariners-Yankees series on that Thursday evening. With ESPN radio cutting out on me and 6pm approaching, I pulled off I-90 and took the Superior, Montana, exit. Superior is a small town in Montana with a population of about 900. I had never stopped in the town before but I was not going to miss out on seeing something I had never really seen before. I pulled up to some bush league sports bar and went inside. The two televisions in the place were tuned to the news so I asked the bartender if he would change it to ESPN. He responded with “Shit, that is tonight, huh?” and happily obliged. The people in the bar were beyond friendly. The bartender, myself, and the three regulars started off watching intently. Then, as ESPN smartly and predictably did, they drew out “The Decision” to the very last ten minutes of the hour before they cut to Lebron and Jim Gray. By then I was already three Cold Smokes in. We watched as Lebron indicated the team he was going to sign with. After that, I left, probably never to step into that bar or that town again. However, I will always remember sitting down in that beat up old sports bar with a bartender who shook my hand upon entrance and regulars who bought me my first beer while we watched Lebron make a decision that would go down in history.
Besides just the selfishness of the idea of broadcasting to the country where you are going to play next,  I detested “The Decision” for how Lebron’s camp organized it. They demanded that they bring in Jim Gray, a person who did not even work for ESPN and who was closely aligned with James, to do the interview. As I mentioned above, they drew out the special for a whole hour, basically making it a Lebron James love fest. King James was front and center on national television for 60 minutes when the start of the NBA season was months away. They demanded that the show take place at their desired location with their desired layout of the set. What got me the most though was how Lebron and his cronies tried to spin their whole motive for the special by saying they were trying to help out charity. Give me a break. Sure, they supposedly donated the money accumulated from the sale of commercial space to one charity but let’s not kid ourselves here. Lebron did that special to promote and support Lebron, not some charity. Needless to say, “The Decision” was worse than even I expected.
Looking back on everything a year removed now,  I am pretty sure Lebron regrets “The Decision”.  No, he does not regret his decision to play for the Miami Heat (in my opinion it was a great decision), he just regrets his choice to make his name and his brand the number one priority on a summer night that he had really no business being a part of. If for some reason all the analysts are wrong and if Lebron’s supposed “I just want to be accepted” attitude is a myth, maybe Lebron has no soul because the backlash he received this season was incredible.
All it took was the offseason of 2010 for Lebron to transform from a guy people rooted for and admired to a guy people jeered and despised.  I know his decision to play with other superstars and his habit of saying really stupid things (i.e. “same life” rant) also helped his image take a colossal hit but it was “The Decision” that really made him a villain. Case in point, Lebron’s appeal rating dropped from 71.5 percent before “The Decision” to 60.5% after the special (CNBC.com). Today, one year later, his appeal rating is 57%. “The Decision” killed Lebron among fans.
However, I think “The Decision” backlash hit Lebron even harder from a different source: the media. Throughout the NBA regular season and especially during the playoffs, Lebron was ripped by the media. Yes, I know there are still many King James lovers working in the press but there was definitely a pronounced change in how he was portrayed. Turn on sports talk radio and it was especially brutal. Do I think Lebron deserved all of the crap the media gave him this season? Not necessarily. But I do believe that Lebron brought it upon himself. King James made his bed and he has to sleep in it.
Can Lebron James ever win back his image prior to what it was before “The Decision”? Well, a couple titles wouldn’t hurt. Honestly though, I believe Lebron needs to come out and directly apologize for staging “The Decision”. Last month he hinted that it was probably not the best career move he has made. Lebron, take it one step further and just admit that you were way too caught up in your own ego and stupidity. Apologize. I think it would help you out a lot. It is no secret that you do care what others think of you. You have an opportunity to turn the opinion of the masses in a positive direction. Put your ego aside and man up. Don’t Blink.

Save Me Some Time, The Answer Is No

This summer has really opened my eyes to a problem I feel is getting out of control: The constant solicitation that is taking place on American streets.  Because of my opportunities to travel this summer I have come to the realization that this really is an epidemic that is becoming prevalent in this country. What makes this problem unique is that all different groups of people, young and old, are taking part in bothering Americans who want nothing to do with what they are offering or are going about the process all wrong. I just quickly want to illustrate some diverse examples of what I am talking about:
When I was in Spokane I could not believe all of the youth groups, sports teams, boy scout/girl scout troops, and other kid clubs that took to roadside streets and busy intersections to ask for donations for their various upcoming trips/tournaments. Armed with cardboard signs and buckets, these youngsters were yelling and jumping up and down while the light was green and then approaching car windows while the light was red asking for money. First off, no service at all was even being offered. No car wash, no baked goods, no coupon books…they were just asking for donations. Really? What kind of a “fundraiser” is that? I would never let my kid ask strangers for straight-up cash with nothing in return. Secondly, please do not bug me while I am in my car. When driving, my car is my shield from the outside. Do not think for one second that I am going to roll my window down for you so you can solicit me. Besides if you are female and extremely attractive, I am not going to give you the time of day. Sorry, I just can’t think of anything ruder than soliciting a motorist for cash. Thirdly, and most importantly, roadside soliciting is completely dangerous. The fact that kids are out at busy intersections is a travesty. With so many bad and distracted drivers these days, standing out at an intersection and approaching cars for hours on end is a death wish. It is just a matter of common sense. I know adults are running these groups, how strapped for cash must you really be to risk lives?
Right now in the state of Washington, citizens are trying to get an initiative on the November ballot to completely legalize marijuana. To get the initiative on the ballot, they need a certain number of signatures from state residents. Having spent a significant amount of time in Seattle and Spokane this summer, I have seen what seems like legions of people who are trying to collect the necessary amount of signatures necessary to put the measure on the ballot. Aside from just seeing them, I have been approached by way too many of them as well. My main problem I have with these people who are exercising their right to petition? Not one of them looks like a normal human being. I swear, every person who is petitioning to legalize marijuana in the state of Washington have not showered or shaved for at least two weeks, have at least ten piercings, wear clothes that don’t fit, have never heard of a comb in their life, and look like they just came out of the freak show at Barnum and Bailey’s Circus. I am not kidding. Even if I was a pot smoker I would not waste one second taking a big step back when one of these people approached me. Judging from my conversations with normal looking people who do support the legalization of marijuana, they feel the same way about these petitioners. There really is an audience out there for these people to get their required amount of signatures but they insist on looking like they just walked out of a grave. Advice:  Put some care into your appearance and take a shower. Look presentable when you approach the general public. Remember, many of the people you will talk to have kids. Do not scare them.              
The third example of soliciting that is troubling is the age old problem of homeless panhandlers working the corners. I complimented Pittsburgh on this blog when I visited the city last May for their low amount of bums on the street. However, everywhere else I visit, including my hometown of Missoula, these people run wild.  It is an eye sore for the community to look at and in my opinion, it is a safety hazard as well. Over the years, it seems as if panhandlers get more and more aggressive.  Numerous times I have been cussed at and threatened by these people.  My dad ran a homeless clinic for a few years when I was a kid so I grew a tolerance for them but when they direct a threat towards me I lose control. I can’t imagine the fear women must have when they have to cross paths with a bum, especially if they are alone at night.
So what do we do about all three of these groups in general? Well first of all I say we deal with kids on the streets asking for money first. There needs to be some sort of ordinance that completely forbids people from approaching car windows at intersections. If we can’t go that far, there needs to be something that forbids kids from approaching car windows at intersections. Again, this is just dangerous. If you think about it though, besides being completely stupid from a safety standpoint, there is really no redeeming lesson for our youth to take from asking for money from motorists. Wash cars, sell candy bars, staff a concession stand at your local minor league ballpark for a night. Find some type of way to earn money other than simply asking for it.
I feel the second most pressing issue is the panhandling problem. I know cities try as hard as they can to combat this problem and make the streets better but there has to be some better way. Homeless veterans need to check into Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals  and get every benefit possible to get their life back in order. All the other homeless people should check out the shelter options in their respective cities. Aggressive panhandling can’t be tolerated. I don’t want to just throw out solutions that have been tried over and over and state obvious facts though. Truthfully, I am at a loss on what to do. Any suggestions?
Now to the marijuana petitioners. You have every right to do what you are doing…please just take a shower.
Sorry for the rather negative post. It was just what was on my mind tonight. Who knows how I will react if I find myself homeless some day or if my kid convinces me that he/she needs to be at an intersection asking for money for a trip to Disneyworld or if I turn into a pothead and quit bathing. The only advice I can give myself to prevent against something like this is simple: Don’t Blink.

Casey Anthony Verdict: Only In America

Today the long awaited verdict in the Casey Anthony trial was delivered. In the charge that everyone cared about, first degree murder, Anthony was found not guilty. In addition, she also was found not guilty on charges of aggravated child abuse and aggravated manslaughter of a child. The jury returned guilty verdicts on four different counts of providing misleading information to law enforcement officers. Each count carries up to a year in prison but it looks like Anthony might get credit for time served.
I watched this case slowly evolve over the past three years. I followed the arrest, the meltdown of the parents, the jailhouse calls, the suicide attempt, the trial, etc., etc., etc.   To say the least, it was a very intriguing case because it centered on a rich family made up of very colorful characters caught in a very heinous crime. Yes, I grew to despise the trio of liars (Casey, mom, and dad). I know this for a fact: All three of them had some role in the death of Caylee Anthony.  Whether it be the actual deed, the cover up, or the pile of baloney that was served to authorities, the whole family was involved.  With that said, I am not surprised with the jury’s verdict.
I must say I was taken aback a little bit by the strong reaction of shock and dismay that seemed to erupt through the country earlier today when the verdict was announced. It seemed as if everyone from the people in my office to the people I follow on Twitter to the analysts on television could not begin to believe the not guilty verdict. It was as if these people thought it was an open and shut case in which Casey Anthony would be sent on her way to prison for a very long time. To all of today’s outraged citizens I ask, what did you expect?
Look, reiterating what I said above, I can’t think of three more slimy people than the Anthonys. In their cold hearts they know what happened to Caylee. However, all it takes is an 8th grade education of our judicial system to understand that a suspect is innocent until proven  guilty and the only way to prove a suspect’s  guilt is to provide evidence that incriminates him/her of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Come on, don’t we all know that? Fact of the matter is, evidence beyond a reasonable doubt was not provided in the Casey Anthony murder charge part of the case.
Basically, the prosecution’s case relied entirely on circumstantial evidence. In other words, most of the evidence was based off of assumptions that then connected events and motives together. The one piece of possible evidence that really could have doomed Casey Anthony, high levels of chloroform inside the trunk of her car, was dismissed by experts from the defense. To be fair, the defense’s explanation of the death of Caylee (she supposedly drowned) was largely based on circumstantial evidence as well. However, in the United States the burden of proof does not rest on the defense….it rests on the prosecution. Aided by a great defense team that was able to cast doubt on the prosecution’s story while also providing a legitimate alternative theory of their own combined with the lack of direct evidence exposed by the prosecution gave the jury really no other choice than to find Casey Anthony not guilty of murder.
I tweeted right when the verdict came out that only in America could Casey Anthony be found not guilty. I did not mean this as a slight at all to our judicial system, I was just pointing out the unique court system we have in this country. In many other countries, the accused are guilty until proven innocent and have very few rights. Due process and legal representation is an afterthought. This post is not for me to defend or critique our judicial system but you might want to ask yourself right now whether you would want the same trial rights Casey Anthony had if you were accused of the exact same crime.
Before closing this post out, I just want to touch on the beating the dad, George Anthony, took during the trial. After all the support he gave his daughter, Casey backed the defense’s stance that daughter and father found that Caylee had drowned in the family pool and panicked, causing them to not notify authorities (George Anthony denied it). If that wasn’t enough, the defense explained Casey’s bizarre and unsympathetic behavior by saying it was her way of coping with tough events because it was the way her father had taught her to react while he was sexually abusing her throughout the years (he denied that as well). Man, what a loyal and caring daughter you raised Mr. Anthony.
Well I hope Nancy Grace’s life can return to normal and she can fill the outrageous number of hours she gets on television yelling about something else. Then again, sentencing is not until Thursday so I guess I should probably not hold my breath. Don’t Blink.

Movie Review: “Larry Crowne”

Last night I went to the movie theater and watched “Larry Crowne.” I am funny with movies. I will get on a movie kick and go to the theater five times in a week and see all the new movies that are out. I will then not go to the theater for a month or so, only to go on a movie binge again. After a long hiatus from the movie theater, this might be the start of another binge.
As I see movies I will review them here on “Don’t Blink” as a regular part of my blog. I have no experience writing reviews and do not really know the proper format/style for writing them so be prepared for amateur hour.
“Larry Crowne” stars Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts. The movie starts off with Tom Hanks’ character, Larry Crowne, getting fired from his job at a Wal-Mart type discount store. He is told he is being let go because he has no college education, making it impossible for him to move up within the company. Crowne is the type of overachieving employee who lives for his job, especially since it was the only real thing he had left after going through a divorce, so naturally his firing crushes him. After several failed attempts to get back into the work force, he decides to  enroll in school at the local community college. Crowne signs up for two classes, a public speaking course and an economics course. Julia Roberts plays the character of Mrs. Tainot, the public speaking professor of Crowne’s class. Mrs. Tainot is a depressed lady with a less than satisfying marriage who brings her problems into the classroom. While enrolled in his two classes, Crowne flourishes as not only does he master his  academics, he also is accepted into a new social circle. It is in this motor scooter gang social circle that Crowne becomes good friends with a real cutie who changes his total image. He develops a whole new attitude and confidence which allows him to one night pick up a wasted Mrs. Tainot who had just gotten into a marriage-ending fight with her husband. Crowne gives her a ride home and despite the chance to spend the night with his teacher, he just kisses her goodnight. Mrs. Tainot starts to fall for Crowne after she finds out that he never told anyone about their encounter and after he delivers an amazing final speech. At the end of the movie, Crowne and Mrs. Tainot are together.
Let me start off by saying please save yourself some time and money by not seeing this movie at the movie theater. This movie is not enhanced one bit by the theater experience. The film is set on four different locations: a discount store, a neighborhood, a community college, and a restaurant. No special effects, no big music scores, no epic scenery.  it is much more of a movie for you to slip into your DVD player while cuddling up with your significant other or on a rainy day. With that said, for a rainy day movie it is a good rainy day movie. Let’s be honest here, it has Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts in it. You are not going to produce too many bombs when both of those actors are involved. Yes, without the star power the script would not have been able to stand alone, so thankfully Hanks and Roberts saved it.
The plot of the movie definitely leaves some left to be desired. To be honest, I don’t know if there was ever really that clear of a plot throughout the whole movie. Larry Crowne has to battle his unemployment and midlife crisis while Mrs. Tainot has to face her faltering marriage. Naturally, the answer to the conflicts of the two characters are each other. Not much of a gripping plot but really the only thing I could identify.
The movie definitely made me think a lot about my college years and about my perception of non-traditional, older students. I always kind of cringed at the overly positive 40 year old dude who would participate way too much in lectures and who would seem to always  sit next to the young, cute girls in class (creeps!!). However, after watching “Larry Crowne” I maybe attained a little bit of a different attitude towards these people. Just like Tom Hanks’ character, maybe they were bitten by unemployment or another life changing event and were basically forced to go back to school. Can’t blame these people for trying to get their lives back on track.
The movie also hit a chord with me regarding unemployment. I think “Larry Crowne” really  highlighted the darkness and helplessness that comes with being out of work, especially when work is your only identity. It showed the insensitivity that many people have towards the unemployed and it made me want to always make sure to treat people who are out of work with respect and optimism.  I appreciate movies that make me reflect on real life issues.
So the movie did make me think about non-traditional students and unemployment. However, that is not enough to save a movie from a bland setting and a lack of plot. Good thing “Larry Crowne” had a lot of humor in it. I found myself laughing out loud several times throughout the movie. Some of the scenes that take place in the public speaking class were hilarious and there were parts at the Crowne’s next door neighbor’s (played by Cedric the Entertainer) house that were also very funny.  
In about a month or so, look for “Larry Crowne” in Red Box. You will see two of the best actors of this era pair up once again in a movie that carries with it several relevant real life themes. Just don’t get too excited. Don’t Blink.

Moving On Up

Today, July 1st, marks the beginning of the fiscal year for Grizzly Athletics. I always welcome the start of the fiscal year because after a whole month of having it drilled into our brains not to spend anything in anticipation of closing out FY11, we finally get to start fresh with our new budgets and we regain the freedom to make the necessary transactions that enable us to be one of the best athletic departments in the west.
The start of the fiscal year is also important in the fact that contracts start, some new hires come on, and people assume new positions. The start of FY12 is especially meaningful for me given the third reason I just listed.
Today I started my first “official” day as Director of New Media for Grizzly Athletics. I used quotes around official because I have been transitioning into this new position for a good three months now. Around five months ago, I was approached by my boss about accepting this newly created position. With the way the landscape of intercollegiate athletics has changed over the past few years, the need for a new media coordinator is imperative in any legitimate athletic department.  I accepted the new position offer with enthusiasm and optimism, it was really a no-brainer.  Not only was I getting a “Director” title but I was also getting to work in an area where I have an immense interest. Getting the best of both worlds, I will still be doing lots of marketing but I will also have the opportunity to develop my talents with web technology and social media. I will elaborate on my specific duties soon.
Now I know I did not tell really anyone about this. I apologize. I am not a guy who counts his chickens before they hatch. Things can change and I wanted to make sure we got to July 1st before I said anything. You never know.
So what am I exactly going to be doing? Let me give you a little bit of background first.  By using our connections with our third party rights holder, Learfield Sports, we partnered with CBS Sports In January to launch our brand new official website, www.gogriz.com .  Before we launched this new site, our official website was less than satisfactory. Worse yet, our department was not even administering the page. We had another campus entity taking care of those duties while we relayed all of the content from our headquarters to theirs.  CBS Sports changed all of that when they created for us a beautiful, brand new page with a fresh, cutting edge look. CBS Sports has created websites for many of the premiere, top athletic departments in the country. With our flashy new site our department also gained all of the capabilities to administer the page ourselves. This is where I come in.
I will be in charge of administering www.gogriz.com . When someone in the department needs something to be put up, I am their man. This part of my new job description has already been well defined as I have helped various areas in the department with their website needs. I am also responsible for updating regular weekly features on the website as well. Over the past few months I have learned so much about website technology and website code. It has been very enlightening.  It is nice overseeing such a great product. Gogriz.com is a powerful and slick looking website, our athletic department definitely took a major step up in making the change.
I am now also the official point person for all social media within the department. Although I managed most of this in my past role as Assistant Marketing Director, I now have much more time to concentrate on it. Social media in this day and age is crucial for intercollegiate athletics but really it is just huge for the business world in general. If you are a student getting your degree I can’t stress enough how important it is to be well-versed in social media. I am in charge of 10 different Facebook accounts and 9 different Twitter accounts. We have main athletic department Facebook and Twitter accounts and then specific Facebook and Twitter accounts for each sport. It takes time and care to keep each account up to date and rich with content. More so besides just maintaining our existing social media outlets, I am in charge of finding new innovative ways to enhance the social media presence of Grizzly Athletics. I look forward to taking on this challenge and really taking our department to the next level.
Another important duty I have acquired is keeping all of the university’s various social media representatives informed and up to date on the happenings of Grizzly Athletics. Here at The University of Montana, athletics are a huge draw. Because of this, everyone on campus from the alumni office to the Foundation to University Relations posts content on their social media outlets regarding Grizzly Athletics.  Many times, inaccurate information is posted and a mini crisis breaks out. My job will be to communicate with everyone on campus who is reporting on our department and make sure that a unified, accurate message is going out to the public.
While I do have new duties, I still retain many of my old duties from when I was Assistant Marketing Director. I will still run the group ticket sales basketball campaign. I will still serve as the Hall of Champions coordinator. I will still have a large role in game day operations for the football and basketball teams as I will retain my DJ duties. Yes, I will still be Monte’s boss (Mascot Coordinator). The major change that is occurring is that I will no longer serve as director of marketing for the volleyball and soccer teams. I will miss this old part of my job to a degree, especially the relationships I developed with the athletes. However, I will not miss the late nights and constant planning that went into each Fall. Who will now take control of the soccer and volleyball teams? We hired a Graduate Assistant to work part time during the year to pour her heart into these two teams and implement her ideas and vision into Grizzly Athletics.
I am very excited for this new step in my career. I get a chance to do something new while still being very much involved in marketing. When hired into the Grizzly Athletics family I promised I would devote three years of my life to the department. I feel two years in one area and a year in another area will help me out more than if I was in the same position for all three. I am thankful for this new opportunity and ready for the challenges that lie ahead. Don’t Blink.

Best Month Ever: June 2011

As I sit here I am coming to grips that it is the end of June. No question about it, June 2011 was one of the most fun months in my life. It is funny, this month seemed both short and long. It seems like just yesterday I started using the number “6” to start off my dates and I was turning in all of my work stuff for the end of the month of May. But then I think about my sister getting married at the start of the month and I say to myself “Wow, that seemed like that happened so long ago.” So I must say I don’t know if I can say that the month flew by or dragged on because it seems like a little bit of both. One thing I can say though is that I had a complete blast over the last thirty days.
It is actually inaccurate to say that just the past thirty days have been a blast. I came into June strong, closing out the month of May with several fun days. I spent May 19th – 22nd in Pittsburgh visiting my friend from high school while seeing all of the sites of the city and attending a couple of Pirates games (read about it here ). The week after that, Memorial Day Weekend, I was in Mesa, Arizona, getting away from the cold Montana temperatures and enjoying the 100 degree desert temperatures. By the time I came back from Arizona on May 30th, June was right on my door step.
The month of June started off a little shaky for me as the Arizona sun had left my face badly burned. Being someone who never burns, I was freaking out at my mess of a face as I had my sister’s wedding in just a couple of days. I was very afraid that I was going to have to face (no pun intended) all of my relatives, friends, and people I had not seen in years with a hideous profile. Luckily, I just had to endure the embarrassment of a hideous face for a couple days at work. All of the lotion and care I gave to my face 24/7 over those couple of days paid off and I looked half way presentable for my sister’s wedding. I arrived in Spokane on Friday, June 3rd , and attended my sister’s rehearsal/rehearsal dinner that night. The next day, my sister was married. I had a wonderful time seeing all of my family and old friends/acquaintances. My brother and I had a blast together throughout the whole weekend as well  as we were always doing something with each other.
I returned to Missoula bright and early on the morning of Monday, June 6th. The first three days of the work week sped by and once Thursday came around, it was time for a couple of very fun work events that we stage annually here in the Grizzly Athletic Department. On that Thursday night we hosted Huddles and Heels. The next morning, I was out at the Canyon River golf course grilling hot dogs for the Montana Grizzlies Conoco Golf Classic, quite possibly one of the best events in all of Montana. Over the weekend (June 11th and 12th) I was in the office frantically trying to make up the work that I missed out on during Thursday and Friday while also completing the intimidating task of making sure everything was in order for me to be gone the whole next week. I probably made the poor decision of going out on Friday night and Saturday night as it made me a little sluggish those weekend mornings. However, I got everything done and I put myself in a good position to enjoy the upcoming week of craziness.
June 13th through June 17th I went to Las Vegas with my good friend Dan. We met up with my brother and a couple of his friends. It was a week of drinking, swimming, clubbing, and WINNING. Much craziness and mayhem was had on this trip. We met some great people and had a ton of fun. The experiences we had during this week will forever last as great stories.
After a brutal flight on Friday morning, we were greeted back to Missoula by cold, rain, and wind. As I did not sleep at all while I was in Vegas, I slept from about 3pm on Friday afternoon to 6am on Saturday morning.  June 18th  is Dan’s birthday (guy I went to Vegas with) and he was having his usual crazy birthday bash so after my 13 hour sleep marathon I got ready and made the drive to Kalispell to party it up in honor of my friend’s 25th birthday. It was your typical good time. On Sunday morning I made the trip back to Missoula to try to get a week of normalcy in before my next couple of big adventures.  It did not happen
Monday, June 20th was crazy at work as I paid the consequences for missing a whole week. I got out of the office late and then completed a long work out in hopes of rectifying the fact that I had gone a whole week without setting foot in the gym. Tuesday I woke up at 5:30am so I could work out early in the morning as I was going out of town once again right after work. After the work day was over I drove over to Kalispell once again to see a friend. I had a very nice time but had to get up at 4:30am the next morning so I could make it back to Missoula in time to shower at my house and then make it to work on time. I was successful in doing this on all accounts. After work I went to opening day for the Missoula Osprey. It was a beautiful night, the Osprey won, and the beer tasted so good. The next night, Thursday, June 23rd, I went to the Osprey game again. Only this time the Osprey lost…this of course caused us to drink more. After the game my friend and I went downtown and enjoyed the Thursday night.
This leads me to Friday, June 24th. After a good day at work and a solid work out, I left Missoula for Spokane. Once I arrived in Spokane I went to downtown where I had court monitor training for Hoopfest in the Bank of America building. I completed the training and then went to my parent’s house. Soon enough, my brother and his three Hoopfest teammates were at the house. The five of us enjoyed each other’s company and then we hit up downtown Spokane and Lilac Lanes casino. Saturday and Sunday, June 24th and June 25th, was Hoopfest Weekend. I spent the weekend as a court monitor for a male 18-24 year old bracket. I co-court monitored with Carissa, a girl who was nothing short of amazing. We called over 30 games during the weekend as we were lucky enough to have a great bracket. Later on Sunday night, I met up with Carissa as it was her birthday! We went to the Elk, a really cool bar café in downtown Spokane. We drank apricot ale out on their patio on a gorgeous night. From there we went to a couple of other bars in downtown Spokane. I probably drank too much but it was a blast.
The next morning, Monday, June 27th, Glen (brother) and I headed off to Seattle for our annual Mariners trip. Both of us started the drive a little tired but we snapped out of it quickly. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday Glen and I attended Mariners games. Unfortunately, the Braves swept the Mariners. It still did not detract from a great time that we had. During the late night we frequented the Seattle bars with our friends who live over in the Seattle area and on Tuesday Glen and I explored Pike Place and the waterfront. Wednesday’s game was an afternoon game so immediately after the Mariners lost for the third time in a row, we hit the road back to Spokane. We arrived at my parents’ house at around 8pm. I got to bed at around 1:30am.
Well, this brings us to today and the end of June. I got up at 5am this morning and made the drive back to Missoula where I went straight to work. It was a good day, not as overwhelming as when I returned to the office after my Vegas trip. I then worked out and then came right home. I have done absolutely nothing tonight, definitely a sharp contrast to what I did the rest of June. It is definitely nice though. I plan to get into bed before midnight and be ready for July.
June 2011 will go down as a very memorable month for me. I had so much fun and met so many new, great people. Did my month of fun have consequences? Yes. The body I worked so hard to gain over the past four months previous to June was basically abused and disregarded. When you are on the road constantly, it is so tough to eat right and hit up the gym. I am angry at myself for neglecting my fitness so much but it does not outweigh the fun I had. I know I will get back on my program soon and get back to where I want to be. Another casualty of June? My vacation time. As I have beaten to death, I missed a lot of work. I did prepare adequately though as I had diligently built up a lot of time over the past year. Time to do that again. You want one final tradeoff for the past thirty days? Let’s say my bank account. I definitely shelled out a lot of cash for all of these various trips but once again it was well worth it. When you are young and single, you have to spend your money on something. Hey, I get paid tomorrow!!
July 2011 should be much more low key and I am more than fine with that. I need to rest a little. This next month I plan to enjoy the Fourth of July holiday, watch as many Osprey games as possible, put in a stellar month at the gym, and have a great time in Los Angeles when I go July 22nd – 25th . I don’t know if this month will breeze by or drag on but I whatever it does I know this: Don’t Blink.