Picked up

If you’ve known me for any amount of time, you know how much basketball is my favorite sport. Just last week I devoted my space to the lockout that no one cares about. While watching basketball is always a great time, my real love of basketball comes from playing it — constantly.

Since my dream of playing NBA basketball died when I was about 15 years old, I’ve been playing pickup basketball as my fix for over a decade now. (The last organized league I was in was all the way back when I was 17.) Pickup games come together anywhere that there’s a basketball hoop and people.

Despite the varied people and places that pickup ball consist of, the rules tend to remain the same.  Shots are worth 1 or 2 points, call your own fouls, and games are to 15 points, win by two. If you win, you stay on the court. People on the court are as colorful as Dennis Rodman’s hair.

Continue reading “Picked up”

Locked out

It’s October 19th…do you know where your NBA is?

I do — it’s in the hands of bickering billionaires and millionaires. I’m a huge fan of the NBA, and lately it feels like I’m one of about 10 people who care that the NBA most likely won’t play a game until January. What’s going on here? There are two important sides to this travesty, the players and the owners.  You have no idea how often I’ve heard, “So what are they arguing about, do the players want more money?” That drives me nuts.

The D in D-backs stands for damn fun

The Arizona Diamondbacks’ win-loss record since their inception looks a lot like the stock market as of late.

From their inaugural year of 97 losses, the World Series title in 2001, 111 losses in 2004, division champs in ’07, back to 90+ losses each of the past two seasons, and then this year again division champs, the D-backs have been up and down to say the least.

This year’s team, however, takes the cake in the entertainment department. The 2001 team had an air of elegance and expectations to it that you just expected them to win, and the 2007 team was a fluke. This year’s team has the heart and soul that you beg for from a baseball team. Justin Upton is an MVP candidate, Ian Kennedy has risen from mediocrity in New York to become a Cy Young candidate, and fiery manager Kirk Gibson is a lock for the Manager of the Year award. Even with all of the individual recognition, the thing that stands out about this team is just that: team.

Arizona this year has shown a flair for the dramatic, having won 27 one-run games, and also winning another eight in extra innings. No game this past year may have been more dramatic than against the Houston Astros, where rookie Paul Goldschmidt hit a 2-run home run with two outs and two strikes to tie it, and slumping (at the time) centerfielder Chris Young won it with a 3-run home run in the 10th inning.

(EDIT: I submitted this blog originally at about 9 p.m. Tuesday night, just before the D-backs’ amazing, come-from-behind victory over the Dodgers. A quick recap: The game goes into the 10th inning tied 1-1 and Micah Owings gives up 5 runs in the top of the 10th. Showing the spirit that this article is all about, the D-backs somehow, someway ended up winning the game 7-6 on a grand slam by Ryan Roberts. They rallied to score 6 runs in the bottom of the tenth, and the rally started with 2 outs. On a scale of 1 to WTF just happened, this game ranked somewhere between unbelievable and “you’re joking, there’s no way that just happened.” You can watch the rally by clicking on the Video tab here.)

That win was just one of their league-leading 45 46 come-from-behind victories. The team never gives up, and never is out of a game, making them a World Series contender come playoff time. Let’s take a look at the key cogs in what makes this D-backs team so exciting: Continue reading “The D in D-backs stands for damn fun”

Crowd Nirvana

As you no doubt remember from my blog last week, I attended the Arizona State football game versus Missouri. Apart from the excitement of the game and the enjoyable amount of spirits that I consumed, I experienced something special. There, on that wonderful night, I’m quite sure I experienced a perfect crowd.

A perfect crowd is rare, and a lot of times you don’t even know that you’ve experienced it until after it happens. Sure, we’ve all been to different sporting events where we cheer when the Jumbotron tells us, we clap when something good happens, and figure we’ve done our job as a crowd. That doesn’t count whatsoever.

A perfect mix of situation, people, and energy have to come together, to become what I like to call crowd nirvana. Here are a few of the elements: Continue reading “Crowd Nirvana”

ASU season preview

As all (OK, few) of you know, I’m a gigantic ASU fan. It’s written on my info page if you want to check it out.

So the 2011 football season comes this year with more expectations and excitement than any season I can remember in the last decade. The Sun Devils returned 15 starters and are a team filled with veteran players who have experience in big games.

Last season, 4 of their 6 losses were by 4 points or less, and they took national runner-up Oregon to the brink before turning the ball over 3 times in the fourth quarter. They hope to use that momentum and experience in close games to get over the hump this year and win the inaugural Pacific 12 conference title.

I write this a week after their first game, as it’s usually a much better gauge of where a team is after they’ve actually seen the field. Following last season’s thrilling double-OT victory over UA, and then this season’s opening win against UC-Davis, things are looking good in Sun Devil country. Throw in a complete re-branding of the logo, new jerseys, and the nation’s most feared player in Vontaze Burfict, and this ASU fan is giddy with the prospects of this season. Let’s break down this schedule and make some predictions, which I fully plan on having thrown back in my face when I’m wrong. Continue reading “ASU season preview”

Games for a concerned gamer

I consider myself a pretty serious gamer. I might not be as prolific as I once was (hello, middle school years!), but I probably spend a good 10-15 hours a week playing games of some kind.

I consider myself a pretty serious gamer, yet I’ve bought exactly three new titles in 2011.

One of those was Marvel vs. Capcom 3, a must for a fighting game fan like myself. One was You Don’t Know Jack, which wasn’t even a full retail release (we reviewed that game in the first episode of At the Buzzer). And the last was Pokemon Black. Sure, I managed to milk a lot of time out of catching them all — and by catching them all, I mean catching about 20 that I like, ignoring the rest, and spending the rest of my time battling/breeding — but there was still a pretty noticeable lack of games that I cared about.

Looking ahead, though, there seem to be a ton of games I can get behind.

Continue reading “Games for a concerned gamer”