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Let's Talk About Money

What's this? $10,000 bill sent to N.Y. for safe-keeping? The bill was at a Green Bay branch of Chase Bank, who's namesake Salmon P. Chase is the face of the bill. Throw in the spring debut of a new, more colorful 10 spot, and I think it's time to update my Legal Tender Power Rankings...

1) 10,000 Dollar Bill
This bill would look great in a fantastic duct tape wallet. If I ever possess one, I'll then be willing to spend $85 for a duct tape wallet.

2) 2 Dollar Bill
The 2 is always 2. And through the upcoming hardships of lost employment, I should still be able to break a 2.

3) 50 Dollar Bill
The 50 holds strong in third place. This bill usually protects a stack of ones in your friend's money clip.

4) 10 Dollar Bill
The redesign's entrance into circulation generated some buzz last week thanks in most part to the introduction of shades of orange, yellow and red. Without Reagan though, the energy may be short-lived.

5) 5 Dollar Bill
The 5 makes itsPower Rankings debut. With so many great lunch options out there for a mere $3.17, it's always nice to have a 5 or so in the pocket.



Final Thoughts

On the College Game...
  • Free-throw shooting down the stretch of games has been great through the first two rounds. It's been a pleasant surprise.

  • I'm told all of these upsets are great for fans. How's that again? Fans who engross themselves in national print and TV coverage of NCAA basketball for four months find out that teams which received little to no exposure beat teams that received plenty. Satisfying?

  • Pitt's out, my brackets are busted, go 'Nova, maybe I'll watch a game or two.
On the World Baseball Classic...
  • Even with the USA's early departure, the excitement generated in the early rounds of the Classic carried through for the most part all the way to the final between Japan and Cuba.

  • I've heard a few detractors claim that baseball tournaments cannot be settled by single-game matchups, rather a series is required to prove that team A is better than team B. I would first argue that the pool-play format resembles a 3-game series and teams who win 2 games advance to the next round in most cases. Secondly, why does this line of thinking lead to dismissing the Classic when the same claim can apply to the NFL postseason or the NCAA tournament? Is anyone satisfied that Pittsburgh was clearly the best team in the NFL last season? Is anyone satisfied that George Mason is clearly a better team than North Carolina?

  • My ideas for the future of the WBC: Hold it every two years; USA players can only be eligible to play twice; the USA team should be named following the end of the season prior to the Classic so players who will be participating can prepare themselves well in advance; settle on one Team USA logo - never again can we have a logo on our caps that does not match our jerseys!

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The College Game

With March Madness set to begin, I would like to share an observation about the college game: All they do is foul!

I'm usually on my own to defend the NBA game against the college game when discussing hoops with my friends. One of the key points college fans consistently make is that the college kids play a lot harder and with more intensity, which leads to better team defensive efforts.

I'll skirt the "they play harder and with more intensity" argument, and instead focus on the effects of the high-intensity, over-aggressive defensive result: it's killing the game. I've been watching more college hoops recently than I have in years (no league pass) and nothing bothers me more than the constant fouling on the defensive side of the ball. On any given possession, I would guess the defense commits anywhere from 4 to 8 fouls. Reaching, nudging, holding, grabbing, shoving... little of which is called. The officials are naturally reluctant to blow their whistles when they see all of these infractions, the game would take 3 hours to play and half of the players would foul out were the rulebook honored.

So the fouling continues, and offensive basketball suffers. I really think one of the reasons today's players attempt so many three-point shots is because a catch-and-shoot from beyond the arc is one of the few offensive plays where a foul can usually be avoided. The three is the greatest opportunity to score without compromised rules effecting your success. Well, that and the fact a bonus point is awarded for the same shot these 20 year-olds took when they were on the Junior High JV team.

The greater problem in all of this is the trickle-down effect it is taking. Players no longer understand what good defense is. The whole concept is flying over the heads of those who play basketball on any level, including young players just getting started. What's worse is that cleaning up this mess is at the mercy of the enablers - Refs.

When you tune in this weekend to see how you're making out with your bracket, give the defensive side of the ball a look. See how the officials turn a blind eye to contact initiated by defenders. Listen to how the commentators reward high-contact defense by translating it into intensity and aggressive play. Enjoy the hack-fest!

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What a week for Gerry McNamara and the Orange... they went from a bubble-team to a 5-seed thanks to clutch shooting and passing from their senior guard. I'm wondering if this season's NCAA tournament champ will have had as impressive of a run as Syracuse's Big East Championship run. SU won 4 games in 4 nights:
  • Win one came against Cininnati, who are now considered one of the teams to get snubbed from the NCAA tournament. Going into the game against the 'Cuse, the Bearcats were considered a tournament team and probably would have received an 8 to 10 seed. Gerry McNamara's running 3 at the buzzer propelled Syracuse to the win.

  • The next win came against the tournament's top seed, UConn. The Huskies are also a #1 seed in the Washington DC bracket in the NCAA tournament. McNamara hit another 3 at the buzzer to send the game into OT and helped them close the game at the line. We'll see how UConn rebounds this week... they went down to Syracuse without involving their best player. If their point guard dominates the ball and their spot-up shooters get trigger-happy, they might not do as well as most predict.

  • In the Big East semis, Syracuse topped old rival Georgetown, who is a 7 seed in the Minneapolis bracket. McNamara was again the hero with a late 3 to pull the Orange within 1 point, and an assist on the go ahead and final basket of the game.

  • Finally, in the championship game against Pitt, Gerry's heroics weren't needed. Syracuse pieced together a pretty solid team effort and Josh Wright sealed the win with 4 late free throws, despite the officials best efforts to ice the freshman. Somehow, despite a 24-7 record, being ranked in the top 10 to 12 for most of the season, and upsetting 2nd ranked Villanova in the Big East semis, Pitt is only a 5 seed in the Oakland bracket.
So Syracuse essentially beat 10, 1, 7 and 5 seeds in route to their Big East championship. We'll see if the NCAA champion's run is as difficult.



Canadian Bacon

After getting thinly sliced by the Canadians yesterday, Team USA finds itself in a Pool B bind in this inaugural World Baseball Classic. We may have gotten caught up in Baywatch, and took the whole of Team Canada a bit lightly. Advancement to the semis is in jeopardy, as researched by Flood:
The United States (1-1) must beat South Africa on Friday, when
43-year-old Roger Clemens starts for the Americans, or have Mexico lose one of
its remaining games to stay alive in the 16-nation tournament.

If Mexico, Canada and the United States finish 2-1, the tie would be
broken by fewest runs allowed per inning in competition involving only those
three teams. In that case, the United States would advance if Mexico scores at
least three runs against Canada on Thursday.
Well, this convoluted tie-breaking system proves one thing: the WBC rules committee is consistent. The positive in all of this is that we're playing South Africa tomorrow, and they don't impress me much. Additionally, another win from the team that just beat us would prove to be a clutch assist, allowing Team USA to advance with Canada to the next round of play.

Nevertheless, as Team USA skipper Buck Martinez sits in the dugout with one hand in his pocket, I wonder: Does Team USA understand the urgency? This one-and-done format cuts like a knife. We have no time for growing pains. Over the next 24 hours, everyone from the guys behind the mask, to the men toeing the rubber, need to take on a "do or die" attitude. More power. More speed. Take care of business, and together we'll be fine!

Okay, now re-read this entry and give yourself a point for every Canadian pop-culture reference you find.

A WBC Sidenote
Cuba and Panama: I was just kidding about the whole beaning thing! There were 7 hit batsmen in yesterday's 8-6 Cuban win, and if Ruben Rivera would have taken a high and tight toss off the shoulder in the bottom of the ninth, Panama could have won on a run scored via HBP. I don't want to have to start patrolling this blog's borders, so stop taking the entries so literally!

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Bush Beaned

I couldn't resist today's Photo of the Week. I've noticed a slew of somewhat humorous George W. Bush photos circulating from his tour of India and Pakistan (see links below), but this one takes the cake. While playing a little cricket, W took one on the shoulder, got peppered pretty good you might say.

The great thing is, the photo comes out the day many are speculating on fan interest for the World Baseball Classic. Hmmm... I think I have an idea!



Weekend Reading VIII


AI5: Ranking the top 6

Comparing my top 6 vs. AOL voters' top 6 after 2 weeks...

Click here to vote.



I'll Vouch For That

Kellogg's Eggo Cereal
Reminiscent of the French Toast Crunch cereal, this new Eggo cereal from Kellogg's is a tasty way to start the day. Mr. Breakfast even wrote a poem about it.

Colgate Cinnamon Toothpaste
A burst of Cinnamon Spice will invigorate your mouth! It's true.

Coconut Ice Cream Cone at Mack's
I think this was the first that I've ever had coconut ice cream... not sure why its not more common. The cone at Mack's was really good, even if it's not listed on their website.


AI5: Super Pool Dropout?

At work we've started the SusCom American Idol Super Pool where many co-workers submit weekly picks to earn points. I've really been into guessing along with everyone as to who will stay and who will go, but after a recent iTunes Music Store discovery, I'm not sure I have what it takes to continue.
"(He) was my favorite candidate from (and the only reason I watched) American Idol."

"When this album came out, my first thought was... it's about time!"

"(His) sound is simply refreshing."
Who's music are these customers reviewing? John Stevens. His album is titled Red. He covers Frank Sinatra (obviously) and Maroon 5 (wha??). People like it.

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