Back by no demand, Toastie’s NCAA Tournament Pool

I was filling out an bracket and figured that it’s not a big deal to set up a group and invite all the people who had participated in 2006. I’ll let ESPN keep track of everything. If anyone wants to play for prizes, leave me a comment, and I’ll give you more info. If you want to play for fun, you can still join the group; leave a comment, and I’ll give you more info.

Every year, I fill out about a dozen brackets in various contests. It takes away some of the fun in early rounds in that at least a couple of my brackets are bound to be doing very well, and there’s no one to really root for. But when things start to wind down, and most people are out of luck, I’m likely to still have one bracket that has a chance to win, and then things are exciting.

A few years ago, I was in first place out of 100,000 entries in an pool, after the first and second rounds. But I faded quickly.


RIP, Toastie’s NCAA Tournament Pool: 1996-2006

I vacillated a lot today between organizing an NCAA pool for the twelfth time or putting a final nail in what used to be an annual activity. I first organized a pool my junior year of college. Before I started using a computer program, I’d carry around printouts of everyone’s brackets to mark up as I’d watch games. It was probably five or so years ago that I started using a computer program. Initially, the participants were my friends. In later years, most of the participants were coworkers of friends, or friends of the coworkers of friends. One friend’s father liked to buy up several brackets a year. Up until this point, he’s the only one who’s expressed interest in being the pool.

I was ambivalent last year, and I didn’t run a pool after having done so for eleven years in a row. I figure if I don’t do it this year, that’s pretty much the end of it. I haven’t enjoyed running it in recent years. It’s a chore, both getting the entries in and collecting the five bucks from everyone. There’s always the couple of friends I’ve known for ten years who submit an entry and then never pay up, figuring they’ll see me eventually, as if I’m going to bring up that five bucks someone owes me at a wedding.

I wouldn’t be writing about this if it didn’t sadden me a bit. It saddens me more than a bit. It’s nice to provide a service to people who appreciate it.

It’s odd that there’s probably almost zero overlap between the 30-40 people who have been in my pools the last few years and the however many people are reading this, which makes this post particularly irrelevant except to myself.


From comments I jotted down while watching Roger Clemens on 60 Minutes with Mike Wallace on Sunday night:

I’m watching Clemens with Mike Wallace on 60 Minutes. He’s so fidgety, so defensive..”never happened” is his stock response. I don’t believe him.

I almost posted something when the Mitchell report came out. But I didn’t read it. I jump to judgments a lot (you don’t say!); I didn’t want to do it this time.

Now I’ve watched him. If he’s innocent, he deserves to be pissed. But he doesn’t seem to have an ounce of understanding of why anyone might think he took steroids. He’s too indignant to be be telling the truth. (Yes, I know not all falsely accused people possess humility).

It’s a he-said/he-said with his former trainer McNamee.

“Linocaine and B-12!” Clemens seethes like he had that line rehearsed as if he was ready to say that ever since the Mitchell report came out.

Turning it around to talk about Vioxx and how awful it is that his trainers gave it to him “like Skittles”. (But does Vioxx come in Wild Berry flavor?)

He’s so defensive. Wallace asks how players who took steroids should be punished. Clemens says that people who used steroids…already have had their punishment…

Lie-detector test—ambiguous about it. Claims he doesn’t know if a lie-detector would clear him. Someone who’s truly innocent shouldn’t be hesitant about taking a lie-detector test.

He says he never cared about getting to the Hall of Fame. Good to know in case he doesn’t make it because he was cheater.

Fashion designer to keep Barry Bonds out of Cooperstown?

Barry Bonds would boycott Cooperstown if the Hall of Fame displays his record-breaking home run ball with an asterisk.
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Absolutely fabulous, I say.

“I won’t go. I won’t be part of it,” Bonds said. “You can call me, but I won’t be there.”

Barry, is that a promise?

The ball Bonds hit for home run No. 756 this season will be branded with an asterisk and sent to the Hall. Fashion designer Marc Ecko bought the ball in an online auction and set up a Web site for fans to vote on its fate. In late September, he announced fans voted to send the ball to Cooperstown with an asterisk.

Bonds has called Ecko “an idiot.”

If Ecko’s branding of a baseball prevents Barry Bonds from ever setting foot in Cooperstown, then Ecko is a genius.

Barry Bonds is such a sad figure. He probably could’ve been considered one of the game’s greatest if he hadn’t resorted to cheating. Bonds is the idiot.

There’s no A-ROD in WORLD SERIES

I used to care a lot about baseball. Now, I’m just an casual observer of some of the playoffs, although I’ll generally make an effort to watch what might be the final game of the World Series, which is happening right now. The focus in the baseball world should be on the fact that the Red Sox are about to win the World Series…or at that Colorado Rockies are about to make a respectable comeback in Game 4 to avoid a sweep.

Instead, in the eighth inning, however many millions of fans still watch the World Series were subjected to the “breaking news” that Alex Rodriguez, “A-Rod,” would not be accepting the option on his contract to remain with the New York Yankees and would become a free agent. Yes, A-Rod is the best player in the major leagues today. But A-Rod is NOT in the World Series. The major league baseball season, I hope, should ultimately be more about the TEAM that wins the championship, not one player. But instead of commenting on the two teams vying for the championship, Joe Buck and Tim McCarver and their intrepid dugout reporter were talking about A-Rod.

I’d be disgusted with A-Rod, but it’s clear his super-agent Scott Boras made sure to leak this news while there were millions of people paying attention. The maneuver was a reminder individual athletes, not teams, dominate the headlines in professional sports. Of course, FOX didn’t need to go with the story.

And with that, congratulations to the Boston Red Sox for winning their second World Series in the past four years…

Sunday sports post

I probably don’t seem like one who cares much about sports, but I like having some NFL action on with the rabbit ears when I’m home on a Sunday afternoon.

As I write this, the New England Patriots are beating the Miami Dolphins 35-7 with 6:26 left in the second quarter.

Tom Brady’s line:

11/11, 220 yards, 4 TD, 158.3 rating

where 158.3 is the maximum possible rating

Why I Like Where I Live #9: Duke Athletics

Toastie, Duke Athletics??? But you’re always ranting about the lacrosse team. I figured you hated all things related to Duke Athletics.

Nah, I still like Duke Basketball, men’s and women’s. And while the Duke Football team has never inspired much loyalty from me, Wallace Wade is a nice place to spend a crisp autumn Saturday, especially if you’re trying to find a quiet place to reflect. 😀

I’ve just gone ahead and ordered a Duke Athletics Family Pass. I think it’s a great deal–four tickets to all of the Duke Football games and all of the Women’s Basketball games. (For Men’s Basketball, I get four tickets to a practice and a raffled chance to purchase “cheap” tickets to some games).

But, Toastie, you don’t have a family…

The Family Pass is a lot more economical than a Single Pass. I do have at least three friends. I might have to pay them to go to a football game with me, but that’s okay.

And this get a “Why I Like” entry because I’m only a couple miles away from Cameron and Wally Wade.

Wake Forest Coach Skip Prosser Dead at 56

Wake Forest Coach Skip Prosser Dead at 56

I get a horrible, sinking feeling when I hear about these sudden, premature deaths. Fatal heart attack at 56? And you figure the head basketball coach at a first-rate university (with a first-rate medical center) would get any problems with his heart nipped in the bud. I know life doesn’t quite work like that, but, still… I had the impression that Prosser really was one of the “good guys” in sports. Does that matter? Yeah, as far as my reaction is concerned, absolutely. I won’t name names, but I can think of several college basketball coaches who deaths from sudden heart attacks would make feel terribly bad.

UPDATEPoignant piece by ESPN’s Andy Katz

One more post about Mr. Vick

Take Action: Tell Nike to Cancel Michael Vick’s Endorsement Contract
(thanks to Lenore for the heads-up on that website)

My hurriedly composed message:

You’re getting all these form letters, and I’m not going to copy their words verbatim, but I completely concur.

This is not the time to adopt a “wait and see” attitude. I really don’t care how much money you’ve invested in Michael Vick’s new shoe that is having its launch “postponed”. Regardless of what a court of law determines, the evidence is out there that Mr. Vick has, at the very least, condoned horrific animal cruelty. At worst, well, you know what he’s charged with.

I don’t know how much money I’ve spent on Nike products over the years, probably not a whole lot. But I won’t ever drop another penny in your coffers if you continue to drag your feet on terminating your business relationship with Mr. Vick. And, fortunately, it’s not just me.

Michael Vick and Friends

I don’t need to write about Michael Vick anymore. The press has covered the “allegations,” and let’s just assume that, in Fantasy Land, Vick is innocent. It still doesn’t excuse the remarks of others condoning dog-fighting. Two months ago, I expressed my disgust with those pro athletes (and anyone) that treats such matters with ambivalence (Pro athletes = Thugs). I’m putting in a fresh link to my old comments, because I think the reaction from some of Vick’s peers has been as reprehensible as Vick’s alleged behavior itself. And people with these views are probably your next-door neighbors or fathers or brothers. That’s what’s truly scary.

Ok, one more comment about Michael Vick. Nike has suspended the launch of his new shoe. Perhaps they can’t legally “cancel” it, but I would prefer to see the word “indefinitely” preceding the suspension. I won’t buy another Nike product as long as Michael Vick is associated with the company. (Ooh, I’m sure Nike’s scared of your boycott, Toastie! How much Nike merchandise have you bought in your life, $100 worth? Yeah, I know, imagined AOL-sports-forum troll. I’m only one person; but maybe some other people will join me in this pledge).