Sunday, September 20, 2009

Concert Review - Sugarland

To preface, my qualifications to write a concert review are a little sketchy. I can count the number of concerts I have now seen on one hand, and to use the whole hand I would have to include Celine Dion's no-show in Las Vegas.

My wife and I attended the Sugarland concert at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee on Friday. Prior to the concert, we dined at the Historic Turner Restaurant across from the Bradley Center. The restaurant was much bigger inside than expected and had quite a crowd gathering as we arrived. We were given an accurate estimate of 20 minutes to wait for a table during which time we enjoyed a cocktail at the bar. We both selected their fish fry advertised as Milwaukee's most famous. We were greeted with 4-5 large pieces of fish, a generous amount of french fries, cole slaw and two small pieces of bread. The entire meal was excellent and would be highly recommended to anyone attending a future event at the Bradley Center.

We arrived at the concert moments before the opening act. As we found our seats, we were pleased at the location in Section 209, Row V with two seats at the end of the row. There was a gentleman seated next to our seats, and as a gentleman myself, I took the seat next to him so my wife could have the end seat. As I sat down, I noticed that this man was seated like a cowboy, with his knees spread about as far as possible, taking up about half the leg room in front of me. Based on how he was sitting, I would have sworn he was 6 foot 10, but later after seeing him he was barely 6 foot. I leaned myself in my seat the best I could and was saved by the two seats that remained empty in front of us for the entire concert.

Matt Nathanson was the opener. I did not know who he was prior to the concert. He interacted well with the crowd and was actually very funny. He made fun of Enrique Iglesias and made use of band members from Sugarland for a few songs. I had a bit of trouble understanding his songs. His last song, "Come on Get Higher", was recognizable and was my highlight of his performance.

Billy Currington followed as opener #2. Now while I know Billy Currington, my only song recollection was the duo he did with Shania Twain, who was nowhere to be found on this evening. Billy put on a nice show, though my wife knew way more of his material than I did. She was actually surprised at how much she knew, realizing that she probably does not know as much Dierks Bentley anymore who we sometimes get confused with Currington. I spent most of the time trying to figure out whether he has a perm or has naturally curly hair. I also found his songs to not be as clear as I hoped.

Sugarland finished off the night and put on an excellent show. They do not use an elaborate set, but have just enough gimmicks to make it interesting. Jennifer Nettles wore a simple ponytail with her jeans and cowboy boots and Christian Bush was in his signature hat. Nettles did also don a sequined red hat for a few songs, which included "Joey". They played all the favorites and I was pleased that I seemed to have at least heard each of there songs a few times. I was also pleased that I could understand Nettles vocals much better than Nathanson's or Currington's. The show was fun and enjoyable. I still think it is a strange to consider them a duo, and I actually wish they would give Bush a few more solo singing parts.

If you are a country music fan and get a chance to see Sugarland, I would recommend it. And if you are heading to the Bradley Center, definitely check out Turner's for a nummy fish fry!!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Five for the Weekend

I will be taking in Sugarland with my beautiful wife this weekend - Here are five others to watch:

LPGA Samsung World Championships (Thursday-Sunday)
20 of the top female golfers play Torrey Pines. No Michelle Wie or Natalie Gulbis, but I enjoyed the Solheim Cup and might peak in at Paula Creamer and company this weekend.

Tennessee at Florida (2:30 P.M. CST Saturday)
How many points will Urban Meyer have his Gators put on the Kiffin family? Will Tim Tebow play the whole game? Since Tim Tebow touchdowns cure the sick, I expect a lot more healthy people come Sunday.

New Orleans at Philadelphia (12:00 P.M. CST Sunday)
Drew Brees tore up the Lions Week 1. How will Brees fair against an infinitely better defense? The bigger story is whether Donovan McNabb will give it a go. The smart guess is no, which thrusts Kevin Kolb and/or Jeff Garcia into the game. This will be a tough one for Philly and an early home loss that could prove costly later.

Sylvania 300 (1:15 P.M. CST Sunday)
The "Chase" kicks off in New Hampshire as Jimmie Johnson goes for a fourth consecutive championship to go along with his 2 Super Bowl rings and National Championship at Miami. A national radio personality asked Jeff Gordon why Jimmie Johnson seems to run under the radar. Gordon gave a political answer. The real answer is 3 words. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. He is the favorite driver of like 90% of NASCAR fans. He is 21st in points this year. He has made only 3 of the 6 "Chases". He has 2 top 5's this year. Yet when the SportingNews asked various celebrity NASCAR fans who would win in the last 10 races, Junior was named several times. People probably think he is in the "Chase". Not only does Jimmie Johnson fly under the radar, every other driver in NASCAR does. Is the 15th to 20th best in any other sport its most beloved athlete in the sport? Retief Goosen is 15th in the FedEx Standings. Not him. Marin Cilic is the 15th ranked men's tennis player. Not him. Paul Pierce is about the 15th best NBA player. Not him either. Chase Utley. No. DeMarcus Ware. No.

New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys (7:30 P.M. CST Sunday)
The game is big but will not be the biggest thing on Sunday. The Ginormatron makes its regular season debut. How many punts will hit it? How many pounds does it add to the cheerleaders? Does Jerry Jones look more or less leathery on the Humungotron? Will Tony Romo have a new blonde chippie to feature on the Colossaltron?

Survival pick of the week: Green Bay over Cincinnati
Upset of the weekend: Oregon State over Cincinnati

Hmmm. I didn't even realize the theme until I typed it.

Back with a recap of the weekend and maybe my first concert review.....

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Fantasy Football

First of all, I am biased to one Fantasy Football league. I am sure there are a myriad of great leagues out there. But I will always think OMRFL is the best. We are playing our 20th season this year. Yes, our league pre-dates the internet. We have had one ownership change in the last 16 years. We have rules unique to our league, like the Jake Plummer rule. Owners have auction drafting styles and everyone knows them. There is no such thing as a sleeper in our draft. Ten of the twelve franchises have won championships. No owner dominates. No owner consistently stinks.

Does this make me an expert? No. But when my Fantasy magazine of choice for this year says that Roddy White is the first Atlanta Falcon receiver of fantasy relevance ever, I chuckle. Apparently the writer and editor were not playing Fantasy Football in the days of Andre Rison and Terrance Mathis.

So now I get to the free leagues out on the internet. I participate in a few ESPN and Yahoo leagues, mainly just to practice for OMRFL and see what the general opinion of players is for the year. I maintain my teams for the most part, making the playoffs in most cases and winning a few titles. ESPN now has the live drafts, which on the surface always seem like a good idea. But after every draft I am frustrated, not by my team, but by how other teams operate in the draft room. There seems to be no draft etiquette. In every draft there seems to be at least one of the following:

No-show for the draft Guy (Mr. Short Term Memory)

In an ESPN live draft, you sign up less than 15 minutes before the draft in most cases. Who signs up for a live draft when they don't have an hour set aside to participate? Does the owner forget they joined? Fortunately, after waiting one round for the entire 90 seconds, that owner is switched to autopick and eventually ends up with all the guys no one else wants.

My Team is the Best Guy (Mr. Arrogance)

There always seems to be one guy who proclaims his team is the best.....after 3 rounds. Excuse me Mr. Arrogance, but in a 10 team league, everyone looks pretty good after 3 rounds. But we continue to hear about how good your team is for the rest of the draft.

Does anyone want to Trade Guy (Mr. Anxious)

Usually about the 5th or 6th round when things are slowing down, Mr. Anxious throws out the does anyone want to trade comment. Trading is fun. And I do agree, you are at the mercy of your pick as to who is available to you in Rounds 1 and 2. But Mr. Anxious doesn't want to swap first round picks and add a couple players to even things out. He wants your first round pick for his 3rd and 5th. He downgrades your roster to try and facilitate this type of trade. And he will continue to offer such imbalanced trades as the season goes on.

Mad at the World Guy (Mr. Hostile)

Not every draft has one, but sometimes there is a guy who for some reason, and I have no idea why, is just rude to some of the other drafters. You don't know anyone you are drafting with, but it seems this owner thinks everyone is a jerk and so he should be to. Personal insults, profanity, comments that don't make sense. You hope you don't have this guy in your draft room.

Takes the Whole Time Guy (Mr. Minnesota Viking)
I can stomach the first four profiles, but this one frustrates me the most. I know they give you 90 seconds to make your pick. There is no way it should take you more than 30 seconds to make a pick. But Mr. Minnesota Viking finds a way to use 80-85 seconds each time. Even in the first few rounds, when there is a plethora of talent available and there is no need to be searching to find players, the clock ticks away. Each round I am secretly hoping he has left the draft and will be switched to autopick. Each round the pick just makes it in (o.k., so if he was truly Mr. Minnesota Viking, the pick would be late). Unfortunately, there is often two or three of these. A nice clean 30 minute draft now takes an hour.

The author of this blog would like to acknowledge that females also participate in Fantasy Football and that his use of the male version of pronouns is simply for ease in writing this blog.

Until the next one...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Thoughts from the weekend in Sports

Wisconsin Badgers Football - UW has to be happy with the "W", but it appears there are too many holes to have anything more than an Alamo Bowl-type season. At least we are not Sparty today.

NASCAR - Sad to see Matt Kenseth out of the "Chase" for the Winston Cup. Without the local flavor to root for, I will hitch my ride to old man Mark Martin, the Brett Favre of NASCAR. Did Jr. make the "Chase"? Didn't think so.

Golf - O.K. Tiger, we get it. Is it clear that you are the best? Crystal.

MLB - Oh, you are still playing. Wake me up for the post-season. And hopefully the Rangers will take the only spot still up for grabs.

NFL - Q. How do you lose a game on an 87 yard TD pass with less than 20 seconds left? A. Put tiger stripes on your helmet.

If you look at the Vikings schedule, there are a lot of games where Brett Favre just needs to stay out of the way. Week 1 - mission accomplished.

Same old Lions.

U.S. Open - Serena Williams should be ashamed and embarrassed. But I am not sure she thinks she did anything wrong. At first, I was thinking I am glad this is on late and my son is not watching so I don't have to explain this. But maybe it would have been good for him to see such a gross act of poor sportsmanship. I agree Johnny Mac, the foot fault should not have been called. But that does not excuse the behavior that ensued. I was glad when Dick Enberg finally called her out. I had just mentioned to my wife that I know the Williams sisters are not bad girls, but there is something that has never endeared them to me. That opinion is now in cement. Serena has joined Alex Rodriguez and LeBron James as athletes who have lost some of my respect this year. I am glad she refused to apologize, because it would not have been sincere.

Until the next one....

Friday, September 11, 2009

NFL 2009

As I was reading my SportingNews NFL preview issue, which attempted to pick all 256 NFL games for the year, I noticed that the SportingNews writers seemed to be picking the home team at an unusually high rate. Out of curiousity, I added it all up and came up with the SportingNews having the home team win 76% of the time. A little more research of the previous four NFL seasons found this - the home team won an average of 56% of the time from 2005-2008, with a high of 59%.

I was enjoying my SportingNews subscription, but I am not sure if they were being conservative or lazy. I have the same feeling when the so-called experts pick their brackets for March Madness and think a 5 or 6 seed in the Sweet 16 is a cinderella pick. Would someone please go out on a limb? Take a chance. Call a trick play. Be innovative. Try an onside kick in the first quarter. If you lose your job, I guarantee there were other factors.

I will not pick all 256 NFL games now, but since I feel as qualified as the SportingNews, here are my 2009 NFL predictions.

AFC East
1. New England Patriots
2. New York Jets
3. Miami Dolphins
4. Buffalo Bills

AFC North
1. Pittsburgh Steelers
2. Baltimore Ravens (wildcard)
3. Cincinnati Bengals
4. Cleveland Browns

AFC South
1. Indianapolis Colts
2. Houston Texans (wildcard)
3. Tennessee Titans
4. Jacksonville Jaguars

AFC West
1. San Diego Chargers
2. Oakland Raiders
3. Denver Broncos
4. Kansas City Chiefs

AFC Championship
New England over San Diego

NFC East
1. Philadelphia Eagles
2. Dallas Cowboys
3. New York Giants
4. Washington Redskins

NFC North
1. Green Bay Packers
2. Chicago Bears (wildcard)
3. Minnesota Vikings (wildcard)
4. Detroit Lions

NFC South
1. Carolina Panthers
2. New Orleans Saints
3. Atlanta Falcons
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFC West
1. San Francisco 49ers
2. Arizona Cardinals
3. Seattle Seahawks
4. St. Louis Rams

NFC Championship
Philadelphia over Green Bay

Super Bowl
New England over Philadelphia

So in the end, my Super Bowl is pretty conservative. Maybe I can work for the SportingNews.