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Division III Hoops: Oh, To Be Young And A Bomber

basketballWhen I was a kid, I used to smuggle into my room at night a small transistor radio (“Wikipedia > Transistor Radio”, for those of you under the age of 100 or so). When the coast was clear of potentially party-pooping parents, I’d tune in either a Boston Bruins or Red Sox game, put the radio under my pillow, and experience the thrill of live sports for the 8 ½ minutes it took for me to fall asleep. It was a great way to grow up with sports, even though the lion’s share of my weekly allowance wound up in the coffers of the Ray-O-Vac Battery company.

I tell you that to tell you this: this past Saturday afternoon I had another deeply satisfying transistor-radio-esque experience, courtesy of Ithaca College men’s basketball assistant coach Jon Tanous.

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Sequels and Such

What do you think? Like the new digs? They’re kind of growing on me as well. Don’t get me wrong—I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for the original It’s Game Time Somewhere look. But when we graduated from blog to book, it was time for a change.

Sure, I was a little skeptical at first. You don’t mess with success. I mean, how much more iconic of a look can you get than a picture of me staring back at you from an empty set of bleachers? Don’t answer that.

Ahhh! Memories...

Ahhh! Memories…

But if I were in the least bit hesitant about the makeover, all doubts vanished when Nicole, my Web Diva, presented me with a concept whose colors were eerily similar to those of the mighty Ithaca College Bombers! Coincidence? It had to be…but there they were: PMS 116 Yellow and 286 Blue. How, you might ask, did I become such an expert on the Pantone Matching System for colors? Well, I had a lot of time on my hands back in the days when I was securing the end of the IC Bomber bench. Hey, I wrote my senior thesis down there. Composed a rock opera. Invented spandex. Given one more year of eligibility, I could’ve teased out a cure for cancer. But I digress.

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The Lists: The Unexpected Must-Returns

Strike Up The Band! We’re Coming Back!!

We here at the global nerve-center of the “It’s Game Time Somewhere” Tour pride ourselves on two things that you might not expect. First, we pay close attention to the things that Americans care most deeply about – I speak of course of celebrity kerfuffles. Second, we make every attempt possible to work words like “kerfuffle” into any random conversation.

So in light of my former Governator’s recent admission that there was another pitcher in the family bullpen, so to speak, I dedicate this edition of The Lists to Arnold Schwarzenegger by appropriating perhaps his most memorable utterance:  “I’ll be back”.

I probably would have gone to that Great Big Grandstand In The Sky without having ever seen many of the sports that were introduced to me during the recently completed IGTS Tour. Prior to the Tour, an invitation to attend some of these events would have drawn from me a response along the lines of “Come again? You want me to watch what?”

Truth be told, many of those are best left in the “one and done” category – enjoyable experiments, but not my specific cup of tea. Some however, captivated me through their charm, their uniqueness, or their heaping helpings of just plain fun. The following is a list of sporting events about which I would never have expected to say…I’ll be back.

And I will.
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The Lists: The Ten Most Memorable Performances (Part II)

Memorable Performance: Mascot Category

…Continued from the previous post.

 

I know what you’re thinking. You’re wondering what gives me the right to insert one full week in between Part I and Part II of The Ten Most Memorable Performances, when David Letterman, the Godfather of all Top Ten lists gives you everything all at once.

Point well taken.

But consider the exhaustive research that goes into this. Like having to read my own blog posts, for example. Which almost always leads to pouring myself a beverage appropriate for that point in the day, and warmly reflecting on the circumstances surrounding each Memorable Performance.

Keep in mind that I also have to carve out time to make sure that all of the functional departments that report up through the “It’s Game Time Somewhere” global franchise are operating smoothly.

But truth be told, it’s mostly that beverage and reminiscing thing. I’ve seen some remarkable things, and reliving them is almost as good as seeing them for the first time. Why don’t you grab a libation of your own and join me…
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The Lists: The Ten Most Memorable Performances (Part I)

Memorable Performance: Super-Hero Category

I was going through a bunch of pictures from the recently completed “It’s Game Time Somewhere” Tour when I came to a stunning realization – I’ve seen a lot of athletes in the course of visiting 100 uniquely different sporting events. Yes, implausible as this may seem, the entire year-long Tour was not entirely about moi. Crazy, I know.

The thing about athletes is that each time they take the field, court, track, pitch, diamond, etc. they all aspire to doing something memorable that day. It may not be something that carves their name into a record book or guarantees enshrinement in a Hall of Fame; but it will provoke a warm feeling of accomplishment when they look back on their athletic career at that particular performance. To shamelessly steal and subsequently misuse a Chris Berman line, “That’s why they play the games.”

It was my great pleasure to witness some of those performances…
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The Lists: Five You Must Watch Live

The Friendly Confines Of IGTS Tour HQ

I like home entertainment technology as much as the next Sports Fan. Much more often than ever before, there is nothing in the sports world more inviting than my couch, my HDTV and my remote. So it doesn’t surprise me in the least that a considerable amount of hand-wringing is taking place among the owners of Big Time sports franchises, who are seeing attendance erode at the same time that television ratings are going up.

In fact, the most ironic thing I’ve read about sports in a long time was a piece in Sports Business Journal that described the efforts underway to make football fans at stadiums feel more like they’re watching the game at home.

But as a pretty well-informed observer of live sporting events, I am here to tell you that there are some sports that not even the best technology in the world can fully capture. Some that even 3D HDTV can’t improve upon. I boldly say this with full knowledge that I’ve just torpedoed any chance of a massive sponsorship deal with Sony.

I now present five sports that, once you see them live, cause you to say “Now I get it.”
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The Lists: The Hidden Jewel Venues

The idea for this, the first of “The Lists” list was a no-brainer. As with almost anything in life, the memory of a place often outlives the recollection of what actually brought you there.

The actual selection process though…not quite the cakewalk I expected. Much of what made an “It’s Game Time Somewhere” Tour venue memorable was the quality of the event that I witnessed there. Consequently, it was tricky separating out environment from experience.

But I persisted. Over my morning coffee I made an initial list of contenders. I had a second cup and identified the finalists, reveling in the memories. Trying in vain to narrow the selection to a Fab Five, I had a third cup. Which then, of course, led to a caffeine-induced sprint of several laps around the well-manicured campus of the IGTS World Headquarters.

Exhausted by this, I had to take a nap. Evidently, this List-making is going to be tougher than I thought.

In struggling to define the selection criteria, I eventually decided to use the “This Is So Cool” test – a yardstick which measures exactly how far into each event’s notes the first reference to how much I’m enjoying my surroundings occurs. Much to my surprise, the International Organization for Standardization is on board with adding the TISC test to their ISO 9000 Standards. We’re currently hashing out the details for the press conference.

In the meantime…

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Now That I’ve Thought About It…

At 12:37 PDT on March 31st, I hit the “Publish” button on my WordPress screen, and the final post about the final event of the “It’s Game Time Somewhere” Tour had been completed. Exactly 33 minutes later, third baseman Meicer Izturis stepped into the batter’s box in Kansas City to face the Royals’ Luke Hochevar and start the 2011 Los Angeles Angels season.

End and beginning. A new cycle starts.

For those that interpret that to mean that I’m planning an IGTS Tour sequel, how can I say this in the nicest possible way…I know – how about, “Are you out of your mind?”

Don’t get me wrong. It was an incredible experience, one that I will cherish forever. And I have a feeling that my memories will become even fonder as time goes by. But it’s going to be nice to sleep in my own bed every night for a good long stretch of time, and wonderful to go to a game without notebooks, cameras, video recorders, etc. This may come as a shock, but I’ve already been to two sporting events since the end of the Tour, and it was blissful to relax and simply watch.

Me Capturing The Tour’s Final Photo

So what did I learn on what a good friend called “The Best Quest In The West?” Believe it or not, when I began this journey, I naively thought that I would be able to sum it up at the end in a tidy little package. I anticipated a single blog post titled something like “What I Learned On My Nationwide Vacation”. I went out into the wide world of sports (now there’s a catchy name for a show…) to find out if I still love sports after having spent a decade of work-a-day life in the sports biz. To be honest, I truly expected to come back and wax poetic about how my love of sports has been validated beyond all reasonable doubts.

Has it? Well…sort of.
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At The End, A Beginning: Part II

…Continued from the previous post.

This day was 11 months and 13 days in the making. So there was no such thing as being too early for the game.

As enjoyable as watching opening round coverage of the NCAA Tournament is, Kels and I had no remorse about leaving March Madness behind in Scottsdale’s Fox Sports Grill at 3:45 PM for the 7:05 PM first pitch that would begin Event #100 – a Spring Training game between the Los Angeles Angels and the San Francisco Giants. After all, we had almost ten miles to travel.

Twenty minutes later we pulled into a free parking lot adjacent to Scottsdale Stadium – an absolute gem of an old-fashioned downtown ballpark. And we were by no means alone in our eagerness. It would be another 45 minutes until the gates would even open, but already there were hundreds of people milling around, even though all 11,622 tickets had long since been sold. These people, like us, just wanted to get inside and drink up the atmosphere as soon as possible.
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At The End, A Beginning: Part I

March 20th is just another day. Equinox, schmequinox. And Punxsutawny Phil? He’s a groundhog, for God’s sake – just another figurehead with no real authority.

Ask any sports fan when Spring really begins and they’ll reply without hesitation:  The day that pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training. No matter where you live, from the snowiest of Frost Belt towns to the warmest Sun Belt city, the day that baseball’s pre-season camps open is always the most reliable harbinger of hope. And what is Spring anyway, if not the Official Sponsor of Hope?

When Spring Training begins, every team is a potential World Series champ. Yes, even the Pittsburgh Pirates! OK, that’s patently ridiculous, but see how easily the concept can sweep you away?

With that in mind, what better place to end my journey than at the home office of Renewal?
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