Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Hot Potato and the Passage of Time

First things first. If any of you have been gathering information about me as you plot my downfall, here's another piece of the puzzle: today is my 28th birthday. I eagerly await both your congratulatory comments and your assassination attempts.

But enough about me. Let's get to the game I'm winning: HOT POTATO.

(In case anyone is curious, this is a simple game where people pick the points scored by a given player chosen by me before a Duke game. The difference between their pick and the actual points scored is their total for the day. Low score is better. If anyone misses a game, they get the average score of that game plus 3. If anyone hits the nail on the head, they get a -3 bonus. People can join at any time since we use an average rather than a total. You can view the current standings here.)

I'm at a bit of a crossroads with Hot Potato. So far, in five games, I've used Nolan Smith, Kyle Singler, Mason Plumlee, Andre Dawkins, and Seth Curry. That leaves Miles Plumlee and Ryan Kelly as the only two unused Dukies who get regular playing time. Should I use them all, or just cycle through the first 5 since they score more and there's more room for variety? Tough question. Today I'll use Kelly, and see how it goes. It's less fun if everyone guesses 4 points or whatever, but I think he generally scores enough to make it worthwhile.


The White Raven

Kelly went to a high school in Raleigh called Ravenscroft, hence the nickname. Just kinda floating a trial balloon on that one, I'm not married to it. But it makes me laugh because a) putting 'white' in front of anything is funny (one of my friends from high school is nicknamed 'White Jesus'), and b) it makes him sound like a badass character from a terrible sci-fi novel. Yea, though the forces of evil do beset us, hope yet remains! The White Raven cometh 'pon wings of glory!

If anyone can photoshop Kelly's head onto a giant white bird that might be a raven, I'll paypal you five dollars. Ten dollars if it's awesome and includes some Duke reference or if he's just thrown a fireball at Harrison Barnes or something.

Make your guesses before tonight!

Speaking of, tonight we take on UAB. The University of Alabama at Birmingham. SNORE. Wasn't this game supposed to have happened already? Isn't this a December game? Don't get me wrong- I'll watch. I'll even enjoy it. But damned if I'll praise it.

Wait, hold the fort a minute. Just checked UAB's profile and they're apparently a 10-2 team in Conference-USA. Which means they'd probably be third or fourth in the ACC. Their two losses are by 3 at Arizona State, and by 2 at Georgia. Granted, we're still going to murder them, but it might not be the runaway I expected.

According to Pomeroy, these guys are small, defend the three really well, are terrible defensive rebounders, mediocre on offense, and never get to the line. We'll mostly be seeing man-to-man.

Here are a few things I expect to see:

1- Mason Plumlee will start. Coach K has an instinct for when players need a good game to get back in the flow of things. You saw it with Miles throughout our scrub December schedule. Now Mason's in a bit of a struggle, and I imagine he'll be a focal point today. With UAB's lack of size, it wouldn't surprise me to see him score in the 16-20 range.

2- Nolan's going to distribute and score fewer points. Either Curry or Dawkins will score a lot of points tonight, and Singler should have an absolute field day against whoever tries to guard him.

3- UAB's style- small and fast- plays right into our hands. If we can overcome their perimeter D and hit threes early, this one will be over in a hurry.

That's the extent of my analysis. This game isn't necessarily useful for Duke. I like to see us play against big, athletic, power teams. That's the kind of squad that'll challenge us and threaten the repeat run. We don't need any more practice beating guard-heavy teams. Even the loss of Kyrie didn't slow us down up top.

Next week, though, is a doozie. First we have Maryland at home, which is always awesome for its intensity, and then we take on FSU on the road. That always seems to be a tricky game. It's usually close, and we lost in Tallahassee in '01-02, '02-02, and '05-06, each time with vastly superior teams. For whatever reason, it's tough for Duke down there. We've won the last two, though, so maybe the trend is reversing.

In other news, did anyone see that goddamn Arkansas-OSU game last night? In my bowl pool, I would have been right in the money mix if Arkansas won. Instead, they dropped pass after pass and made endless dumb mistakes to give it away 31-26. I was going to write a long diatribe complaining about their play and their coaching, but I realized it was motivated by a gambling loss, and that would be really boring for everyone else to hear. Suffice it to say that I've always hated both Ohio State and Arkansas (the former because they're a boring Big 10 school, the latter because of Nolan Richardson and his bastard 1994 team), and today I hate them both a little bit more.

Last thought before closing: I was checking out my Robinson Cano bobblehead doll last night, pretending it didn't look like Tiger Woods (You've ruined it for me eternally, commenter Jonny. A plague upon your house.), and all the sudden I started thinking about my future children. If I had kids right this moment, which isn't happening, I could expect that they'd start getting into sports when they were 5 or 6, right? Add 2 years for the minimum amount of time before said kids are born, and that's a best case scenario of 7 years before any progeny of mine are invested in sports. Even then, it'll be a little kid investment. Everybody knows you don't get serious until you're like 8 or 9.

Robinson Cano is 28 years old. By the time my oldest kid can enjoy him even a little, he'll be 35. AT LEAST. 37-38 by the time the kids truly care. And he'll probably be a fat, roided-up David Ortiz by then. No, strike that. It will never happen to Cano, he's too pure. But here's my point: my children will grow up in a world that's basically bereft of Robinson Cano. And that is a total, complete, absolute mind-bender. I'm going to have to fucking tell them about Cano, and Lord knows they won't appreciate it. They'll have their own players to like, players WHO AREN'T EVEN CLOSE TO ROBBIE CANO BECAUSE HOW COULD THEY BE?, and they'll ignore me as I blather on about his sweet, sweet swing.

I'm already annoyed at both the kids and the future players who take Cano's place. If Cano was around in that hypothetical future, boy, he'd show them a thing or two about baseball. Did I ever tell you about his double play turn? BEST IN THE BIZ. They sure don't make them like they used to, and GET OFF THE TOP OF THE COUCH IT'S NOT YOUR PERCH YOU LITTLE DISAPPOINTMENT!

And it's not just Cano. My other favorite athlete, Rafael Nadal, will be in the same position. He may still be playing, but it's doubtful he'll be any good. I'll have to show them highlights, or tell stories, or just give up. YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND HOW TOUGH THAT SPANISH MAN WAS, YOU SPOILED INGRATES. HE GREW UP IN MALLORCA. AND NO I WON'T HAVE A CATCH, GO ASK YOUR MOTHER.

Nadal and Cano are both pretty young. But consider people like Roger Federer, Derek Jeter, Kobe Bryant, or Tom Brady. They'll all be completely out of the athletic picture in seven years. My kids will only see them when they're involved in some kind of ceremony or just spectating. "And hey, folks, look who's in the crowd's Alex Rodriguez! He used to play baseball!" It's like me watching Bjorn Borg show up at Wimbledon to watch Federer break his record. I mean, I get that he was awesome, but it's nowhere near the same. And it's not like I'm going to put the time in to go back and watch old Borg matches. Because let's face it, that guy sucked.

Then there's a whole other class of great athletes they could conceivably go their entire lives without hearing about. I'm talking about players in important but peripheral roles in my sporting memory. Jon Scheyer comes to mind. Jon Scheyer will play absolutely no part in my children's lives. They won't even know what he looks like. They'll never hear his name if I don't indoctrinate them. Hopefully Duke will have like 5 more titles by then, so that one won't even stick out in history. Ditto for Zoubek. The world of the future is Zoubek-free, and that is a tragedy.

The only athlete who's great now who could conceivably still be great in ten years is Tiger Woods. Golfers can dominate until they're like 55, so that's still in the realm of possibility. But it's just as likely that he'll go completely to the prostitutes or give up golf or just be average by then. Plus, it's golf; is that really something I want to share with kids? I hated watching golf until I was like 15 or so, and I'll still only watch the majors or the Ryder Cup. If I try to bond with my kids over golf, they'll end up with posters of Ronald Reagan in their bedroom.

Also, if you haven't noticed, the current generation of kids are idiotic. I haven't met a mentally functioning human under 18 in a long time. 99% of people currently under 21 should be institutionalized and re-programmed. I know it's drastic, but time is running out. Our country is totally screwed. The Chinese are watching us with glee as our future is sacrificed. Kids now are about 10% human beings, 40% fleshy extensions of handheld technology, and 50% metaphorical embodiments of annoying irony and amorality. I might have to raise my kids in a forest.


Reality at 28: birthdays turn you into a grumpy, paranoid old man. These are the thoughts that arise when January 5th rolls around. Happy Wednesday, readers. Never forget how awesome the present is! Sports just aren't the same in the future. And kids are less respectful. Starting now. (


  1. Before I got completely engrossed by your descent into paranoid (but oddly, also completely understandable?) future parenting challenges, I had a pick for Ol' Whatsisface Whitey...

    Let's say it was 6.

  2. White Raven for 9.

    Sorry about the bobblehead. If it makes you feel any better, my parents got me this "Jay" Williams bobblehead when he went to the Bulls, and it's the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen.

    Jay Williams bobblehead

  3. Jacob "The Destroyer"January 5, 2011 at 11:59 AM

    10 for tWR

  4. Hey there little fella, your movin picture of Swoops Callahan really inspired me, a regular Johnny Weismuller, that one! Speakin of which, old Tarzan called up courtesy of Alexander Graham Bell and told me that White Raven is not the cat's pajamas. It'll be a long season before Coach K calls him the bees knees, see?

    5 points.

    -Dr. Noisewater

  5. 10 points for the white raven!

    also, thoroughly enjoyed your last two posts, especially the Baby Dawk iphone app idea. I'd buy it.


  6. 16 points for Kelley


  7. As a fellow Giants' fan, I can't imagine how much your 21st birthday sucked.

    A dozen for R. Kelly.

  8. *20th birthday. Sorry, already forgot it's 2011.

  9. 12 points for the White Ryan-o. (Eh. No?)

    I am Illinois born'n'raised so my Ohio State Hate is well-established. We're born with it in the Land of Lincoln, like painful politeness and the ability to have sex on a combine.

    But now I live in Arkansas (::cliffleeshometown::) and hey, the Big Ten had been sucking it up in bowl games! THIS IS MY CHANCE TO SEE JIM TRESSEL EXPLODE. God, what a nightmare. I'll see that last pick in my nightmares. Stupid stupid football.

  10. Saying that OSU is a boring Big 10 school is repetitive. And redundant.

    I'll say six points for Ryan "Bosley" Kelly.

    Happy Birthday!

  11. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving <-- great athletes your [future] kids will know. Happy birthday!

    I will say 8 pts for R. Kelly. Go Duke!

  12. Ravenscroft was a major rival for my high school, at least in track. I guess I'm over that at this point and I'll give ole Neville 11 points tonight.

  13. Girlfriend says 8. I was originally with Lisa at 12, but I'll be different for the hell of it and pick 13. Kelly gets 5 2s and a rare 3.

    Lisa, the White Ryan-O is pretty hilarious, and just cumbersome enough to be extra hilarious because it's awkward. Well done.

    Jim, can you adopt Scoops Callahan permanently? I'll stop liking you after about a week, but it will be a glorious week. You're a natural!

    Jonny, nothing you say can acquit you. All I see is Tiger Woods in a Cano uniform. But you get points for the humorous delivery.

    Tim, I actually had totally forgotten that that monstrosity was on my birthday. You're right, that did suck.


  14. 8 for Neville Dunkbottom! My birthday was Sunday, stop copying me.

  15. Happy Birthday! 9 points for the dookie du jour. My boy is less than two and already yells 'Rafa!' every time he comes on tv...he know Roger too since I let him watch those charity matches...but he thinks Rafa is way cooler. -John

  16. Ryan drops a dime (that makes cents, right? ha. ha. ha.)

  17. 7 points for R. Kelly.

    And happy birthday to the Shane!

  18. As your birthday present, I will continue to let you enjoy your hot potato domination by hopelessly entering yet again: 6 points for the White Raven, Mr. Ryan No-Chin Kelly. My competitive nature forbids me to give up this blasted game, but my score is embarassing.

  19. El Mom says 13, Tom says 8.

    Keep with it Laura, one exact guess and you're right back in it.

    John you have indoctrinated him well.

    Sharona, your humor is of my heart. Does that make sense? I feel like that's a phrase I'm mangling. I'm kinda drunk.


  20. And CLykins says 7. Spike says 8.

  21. Dadgummit, stuck in conference calls! Deal me in with one of them averages-thingies, 'k?

    PS - nice game, Duke!

  22. Happy birthday Shane. For a youngster, you are a funny, funny man.

    Funny thing about time - it slips away from you when you glance away. It hasn't really hit you yet, but Jeter is ALREADY OLD and it happened while you were watching him play (you just think last year was an off year - have you looked at his waistline?)!

    You love sports, so at least one of your kids will inherit your passion (have two, just in case). If you are really lucky, one will fall in love with everything baseball at 7 - the stats, the history, and he'll tell you more about goddam Jeter than you ever want to know, even if he is a Sox fan! And one day, in the August of his 13th year, he'll put one 30' over a 12' high, 310' right center fence, and even though it's 10PM, you'll have to put on your sunglasses (because of the dust).

    So happy birthday Shane. You're starting to envision at 28, and that makes you a smart man, as well as a funny one.

  23. Thank you, Dan! (And everyone else who said Happy Birthday.) I hear you about time, I'm feeling it slip away already even though I'm still fairly young.

    And DAMN, your kid must be able to really hit. I loved baseball as a kid and wasn't too bad, but I wasn't hitting anything over a 300-foot fence at 13, guarantee that. Good stuff, and thanks for reading.


  24. interesting post dear blogger