Wednesday, January 8, 2014

I’m off to Guam (seriously)

The headline probably says enough, but to elaborate a little bit, I’ve been hired as a sports writer for the Pacific Daily News, which is in Hagatna, Guam.

Guam is an island to the west of the middle of the Pacific Ocean, about 30 miles long by 5 miles wide. It’s 7,500 miles away, 14 hours ahead of Indiana and it’s summer 365 days per year. Somehow, that was a difficult decision, but after listening to all my friends (and people I barely know) it was also pretty easy.

First, a little background:

When I graduated high school, I went straight to Grand Valley State University where I majored in engineering. After about a semester, I decided I didn’t want to be an engineer.

For the next year and a half, I kept taking classes at GVSU but I didn’t really know why. I didn’t have a declared major and I was just kind of going through the motions, which didn’t work for me. I got Bs and Cs in classes that I should have  aced and I was miserable.

At the end of my second year, four semesters in, I decided I was done with college until I figured out what I wanted to be there for. I couldn’t put work into something unless I was passionate about it, and I did not care about college at all.

I decided I was just going to work a fun minimum-wage type job and try to enjoy my life. Then I decided, if I’m just going to work, there is no reason I had to be in Michigan to do it. So I moved to Hawaii*.

(*) I had been to Hawaii before for vacation and always dreamt of living there, so it wasn’t completely out of the blue.

I waited for the Tigers’ season to end and, with only a few days notice, I hopped on a flight to Honolulu on Halloween. I had no job, no place to live and no real plan. It was an adventure and it was the best decision I’ve ever made.

After a few weeks of living in a hostel, laying on the beach all day and drinking with people from all over the world all afternoon, I got an apartment a block from the ocean and a job as a chef. Hawaii is awesome.

The chef thing was too stressful for the life I was living, so I quit after a few months and got a job driving a ball picker at a driving range. It was the best job I’ll ever have. From 4 p.m. to midnight, five days a week, I cruised around outside on a sunny 86 degree day, listening to my iPod, and got paid to toss barrels of golf balls around.

There was no stress and I had all morning to lay on the beach (which, again, was a block from my apartment*). It’s tough to live that far away, knowing nobody and being disconnected from the Midwest culture, but it was perfect for me.

(*)My apartment was also next door to the zoo, which meant monkeys screaming all morning. That was less great.

A little while after that, I realized I had a passion and a reason to go back to college. I wanted to be a sports writer, and I wanted to do it as soon as possible.

For the next few years, the bio on my Facebook read:
“I quit school and moved to Hawaii. Then I foolishly quit Hawaii and went back to school.”

I went back to GVSU, reestablished my friendships, embraced being in college, got a couple jobs to pay for it and finished my journalism degree as fast as I could.

It’s not an easy career to find work, but I eventually got hired by the Banner Graphic, became sports editor and started to love the community.

When I saw the Guam job become available, I was a was a bit hesitant but I saw it as a chance to do something I loved in an environment I knew I would love. Guam is similar to Hawaii, culturally and climatologically.

So I applied, had a couple phone interviews and eventually got hired.

It’d not perfect time. I would have preferred the school year finished up so I could follow all the teams and athletes through the spring. There are many, many upcoming teams I’m going to miss and many other opportunities that I’m giving up, but there are a lot of other opportunities moving to a new job opens up for me.

I’ve loved my time in Putnam County and I can’t imagine ever living in a community where I feel as welcomed by the people. Putnam County is a great place to live and a great place to work, but for me, and for Miley Cyrus,

“There’s always gonna be another mountain. I’m always gonna want to make it move. It’s always gonna be an uphill battle. Sometimes I’m gonna have to lose. Ain’t about how fast I get there. Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side.
“It’s the climb.”

p.s. If anyone ever wants to come visit me in Guam, you’ve got a free place to stay. Seriously, come visit. It’s paradise there.

Friday, December 13, 2013

How to be awesome at your job

Specifically, this is about how to be an awesome barista at Starbucks, but the ideas can mostly be applied to everything else.

1. Be nice and smile
I'm sure there are plenty of studies and facts and science behind this, but my anecdotal evidence is plenty enough proof for me. People who smile more are more likeable. In every group, club, team or conglomeration, the person I inevitably like best is the one who smiles the most. Some people aren't natural smilers (I'm not). For those people (me), smiling is part of the job. You're getting paid to do lots of things, but mostly you're getting paid to serve people, and they take more notice when it's service with a smile.

2. Accept what you're doing and make the best of it
In my service-job days (which are numerous and plentiful and extensive), I considered it the totality of my job to (1) Stand and (2) Do things other than what I'd do if I weren't getting paid. Had I not been working on a particular day at Jimmy John's or Subway or BD's Mongolian Grill (or Quizno's or Papa John's or California Pizza Kitchen or ...) I'd most-likely have been sitting somewhere and watching a movie, listening to music or working out. With a few exceptions (being abused by coworkers or customers, doing something inhumane, et al), nothing else at work mattered. I was being paid to do varying degrees of things I didn't want to do.

There's no point in complaining. If you don't like your coworkers or customers, quit and work in a different (though probably mostly the same) service job. If you like those things, then appreciate that you could be doing the same thing at a place you find more unpleasant.

3. Treat everyone like your friend
I'm not a particularly outgoing person. I'm not awkwardly shy and I don't get nervous in crowds, but when I'm not working, I mostly prefer to be left alone. It's been that way my whole life. So when I behave outgoing, I'm mostly pretending to behave the way I think an outgoing person should.
Part of that faking that I've learned (through many years of practice) is that if I just treat strangers like friends, they start to think of me as friendly. Friendly people are fun to be around. If people have fun being around you, they're nicer to you and they smile more. Plus, if they find you friendly, they'll come back. Then you get returning customers who are pleasant. I never much cared about having returning customers, but I did care about having nice customers. So if I knew a returning customer would be pleasant and did not know anything about the mentality customers I'd never met before, I always chose the returning ones.

4. Learn peoples names
Many of the people at Starbucks now know my name. It's awesome. They say "hi" to me when I walk in. They write fun messages on my cup.
Other people do not know my name. It's a hassle with little upside for me to try to eloquently pronounce my name, then repeat it, and say it loud, and repeat it again. I don't really care if they spell my name write on my cup as long as they make my drink. But that attitude turns buying my hot chocolate into a utilitarian process instead of a pleasant process.

And that's all I have time for. But maybe I'll add more stuff later.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Things I want to watch tonight: 2013 Putnam County Girls' Basketball Tournament finals

Gonna see how this works. There isn't really a format on the site for this type of thing.

Here's what I'm hoping to see at the final night of the Putnam County Girls' Basketball Tournament:

From Greencastle: 10+ rebounds from Jess Lenihan. Whites combined for like 21 rebounds yesterday and they're gonna be aggressive again today. Want her more aggressive.
From Cloverdale: Attack attack attack. Both ends getting aggressive. Draw fouls like it's your job and anticipate some steals.
From North Putnam: More movement and ball reversals. No more standing around calling for the ball. Don't be a ball stopper. Get it and move it.
From South Putnam: Better passing out of the post. Forwards are good passers but they've been turning and shooting. It's not horrible. They're always open. But they'll also be open after a guard makes a rim-run, too.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Rough Draft -- 2012 Quarterbacks 1.0

In part one of my preseason rankings, I'll be grading the quarterbacks 1-37. I stopped at 37 because that is the number of quarterbacks that are borderline, depending on how horrible your circumstances are, draftable. Don't draft the terrible quarterbacks. You'll also notice occasional lines and pictures. Those represent a new tier. Guys in the same tier are mostly interchangeable, and could be slid up and down based on personal preference. This board is subject to change. I'll do a final one some time right before the draft.

Tom Brady maybe be the first pick in the draft, and he may have a new deep threat, but he's not impressed.

1. Tom Brady, NE – He was very good last year, culminating in a Super Bowl loss fantasy championship-clinching week 17 performance. But he will be even better this year. The team brings back Josh McDaniels as offensive coordinator, replacing no one -- the job was vacant the last two years, with duties split between a couple position coaches. More importantly, McDaniels brings with him Brandon Lloyd, a deep threat who two years ago (2010) was the best fantasy wide receiver (the best). More importantly, Brady is awesome every year.
     - My outrageous projection for his stats: 5,400 yards, 46 TDs, 7 Ints, 68% completion, 23 sacks
     - Likelihood of playing in week 17: 80%

2. Aaron Rodgers, GB – No one who has ever drafted him has been disappointed. They bring everyone back on an offense (except terrible Ryan Grant) that was fantastic and carried Ole Man to a regular season title. MOP: 4,700 yards, 41 TDs, 13 Ints, 72%, 34 sacks, 2 rushing TDs LOP 17: 49%

3. Drew Brees, NO – Last year’s leading scorer, and by A LOT – he scored 110 more points than Rodgers. You know what else was 110 points last year? Chris Johnson’s total. He plays in a deceptively tough division, so if you think the Saints are going to be playoff contenders, you think he’ll play in week 17. So why isn’t he my No. 1? Because Sean Payton is gone, and because when Payton was injured and stuck in the coaching booth last year, Brees threw 6 of his 14 picks. I also think the Saints are going to be in for a bumpy season. He’ll have plenty of great games, but he’ll also have plenty of Garrards*.
     - MOP: 5,100 yards, 37 TDs, 18 Ints, 66%, 31 sacks
     - LOP 17: 90%. I think the Saints are going to relatively stink and win 7 or 8 games, but why not let him play?
     (* a Garrard is a game where the quarterback scores between 12-15 points. Won’t help you, but won’t really hurt you either)

Sorry you've already gotten hurt, David, but I've got good news. I've named a stat after you.
4. Matt Stafford, DET – I assume he’ll be healthy. The defense is going to continue to suck. The offense added weapons (Ryan Broyles, Patrick Edwards). The running game is going to continue to not exist. What’s not to like? The only reason I don’t have him ahead of Brees is that he’s only done it once. Plus he’s got Calvin.
     - MOP: 5,200 yards, 48 TDs, 12 Ints, 64%, 41 sacks (I know these add up to more than Brees. Maybe he will try to kick an extra point and miss?)
    - LOP17: 90%. Even if they’re out of the playoffs, it’s not like they need to see what they’ve got in a young guy.

5. Philip Rivers – He was terrible last year! He threw 20 interceptions! His best receiver left and ran away to Tampa Bay! Stay away! Especially if you’re drafting ahead of me. ‘Cause he didn’t really suck last year. He sucked in the first half last year, but only cause he threw a ton of picks. He finished ninth in points, and only about 1.5/week from finishing sixth, which is one spot below where I have him ranked. In 2010 he had a career-year. 4,700 yards, 30 TDs. Last year he sucked and had 4,600 yards and 27 TDs. He threw more passes last year and was sacked fewer times. Remember Vincent Jackson sitting out most of 2010 because he’s a greedy asshole injured piece of trash who loves money and losing? He’s finally gone, so now Rivers can focus on what he does best – giving the ball to Gates and a random tiny fast guy (This year: Eddie Royal)
     - MOP: 5,200 yards, 33 TDs, 9 Ints, 68%, 33 sacks
     - LOP 17: 95%. They are going to have a chance to win the division, like they always do.

6. Matt Ryan – I ain’t lyin’, I love me some Matt Ryan. I hated him when he was drafted (lousy smug Boston College bourgeois prick). I hated him when the first play of his career was an 80 yard touchdown pass to Michael Jenkins some Ohio State bastard against the Lions. Well, I’ve come around. After he sucked in his second year, he has gotten better each season. He’s missed two games in the NFL, none since 2009. He finished last year eighth in points. He has two of the top 12 wide receivers in the league. But that’s not why I love him. The Falcons added offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter in the offseason. You might remember him from such teams as: Boise State when they first started being good ten years ago; Arizona State that year they weren’t terrible; Jacksonville that year David Garrard was sort of good; and Jacksonville that year Mike Sims-Walker and Mike Thomas were sort of good.
     - MOP: 4,600 yards, 38 TDs, 11 Ints, 63%, 25 sacks
     - LOP 17: 51%. I think they have the division locked up early. I think they’re good.

7. Tony Romo, – With all the talk about Cam Newton being amazing and Romo being a chocking piece of shit, nobody (read: possibly just me) seemed to notice that Romo finished ahead of Newton last year. He was fifth (FIFTH!) in points. He’s always good, so he’s boring. Plus he’s extremely unlikeable. But you can win the league with Romo as your QB1, and winning the league is, or should be, the goal of every team. Yes, they lost Laurent Robinson and replaced him with something named “Danny Coale,” but so what. The name on the back of his receivers jersey doesn’t ever seem to matter to him. Romo didn’t panic when the Cowboys cut former first-round pick Roy Williams, and he’s not panicking now. Plus, for the first time since he’s been the starter, the Cowboys are the LEAST talked about team in their division. Nobody thrives under vacuousness more than Romo.
     - MOP: 4,400 yards, 33 TDs, 6 Ints, 65%, 41 sacks
     - LOP 17: 88%.
This whole season will be one, giant Pro Bowl for Tony Romo

8. Mike Vick, PHI – I hate the idea of having him on my team, but you know what I hate even more? When television announcers toss around hyperbole. But you know what I hate less than that, but which also pertains to this fantasy football situation? The idea of having Nick Foles* on my team.
     - MOP: 3,100 yards (11 games) 24 TDs, 11 Ints, 61%, 27 sacks, 3 rushing tds, 350 rush yds.
     - LOP 17: If he’s healthy? 90%. In general? 60% (* Mike Kafka broke his hand the other day because he sucks.)

9. Cam Newton, CAR – Cam’s first 8 games: 2,393, 11 TDs, 9 Ints, 60.6%, 7 rushing TDs. Cam’s last 8 games: 1,658, 10 TDs, 8 Ints, 59%, 7 rushing TDs. Still pretty good, but not outrageous. They didn’t add any weapons and Steve Smith is now a year older.
     - MOP: 3,900 yds, 26 TDs, 15 Ints, 62%, 43 sacks, 9 rushing TDs, 550 rush yards
     - LOP 17: 95%
Poor, dog-killing Michael. Always getting hurt.

10. Josh Freeman, TB – Known in the past for his ability to give you a solid Freeman* every week, I believe Josh will take a step up this year and become a very solid Schaub**. So why is he so much higher than, say, Schaub? Well, 1) he is a big, tough, strong, supple guy who rarely gets hurt 2) he has a new coach. The entire team quit on the coach last year and Freeman (12th overall last year) struggled to adjust. 3) Chamionship Pedigree. He’s been the QB2 for each of the last two championships. If anyone knows how to lead a fantasy team in week 17, is Josh. He’s been there, and he’ll have the respect in the locker room. 
     - MOP: 3,800 yards, 28 TDs, 10 Ints, 62%, 28 sacks, 2 rushing TDs, 250 rush yards
     - LOP 17: 95%
     (* A rich man’s Garrard, a Freeman is between 15-18 points)
     (** 18-21)

11. Ryan Fitzpatrick, BUF – Finished last year in the top 10, despite falling apart in the second half due to an injury. He might very well be healthy now. He also gets to play the terrible Pats defense twice, the (possibly) worse Jets defense twice and he went to Harvard.
     - MOP: 4,100 yards, 29 TDs, 19 Ints, 64%, 27 sacks
     - LOP: 95%

12. Peyton Manning, DEN – Not the guy you want to pair with Vick. I have no faith in him to play all 16 games. He has no deep ball, which means you’re basically hoping for a rich-man’s Chad Pennington season. Still, he’s Peyton. When he plays, he’ll play smart, he’ll complete a lot of passes, he won’t get sacked and he won’t throw pics.
     - MOP: (assuming 16 games) 3,900 yards, 32 TDs, 13 Ints, 71%, 20 sacks
     - LOP 17: 40%

13. Eli Manning, NYG – He was fantastic last year. 4,900 yards, Super Bowl all that other stuff. But the Giants are a running team. They drafted a new back in the first round who will replace the terrible, washed-up slob they had last year, Brandon Jacobs. The rest of the division is tough and improving.
     - MOP: 4,200 yards, 25 TDs, 19 Ints, 64%, 26 sacks
     - LOP 17: 99%.
Who's that above you? Some bearded dude from Harvard?

14. Andrew Luck, IND – He’s the most NFL-ready QB to ever come in to the league, and he’s coming into a league that is the most pass-friendly that it’s ever been. He might not put up more points than Cam did last year, but he’ll be a better passer and he’s got more weapons. MOP: 4,300 yards, 27 TDs, 23 Ints, 61%, 52 sacks, 4 rushing TDs, 250 rush yards LOP 17: 90%

15. Ben Roethlisberger, PIT – He was 11th last year, and they’re now without Mendenhall for the foreseeable future. I’ve seen Ike Redman play, I’ve had Ike Redman on my team. Ike Redman sucks, and the Steelers know it. Ben will air it out like he did in his Red Hawks days. They even drafted more offensive linemen for him. But still I drop him. Mike Wallace is holding out, which means he will strain his hamstring and miss time. Ben’s got a “small tear” in his rotator cuff. He might be good, but in fantasy football, if you aren’t improving, you’re getting worse.
     - MOP: 4,200 yards, 28 TDs, 14 Ints, 65%, 38 sacks
     - LOP 17: 70% 

16. Robert Griffin the Third, WAS – He’s really, really fast. More importantly, he is neither Rex Grossman, Donovan McNabb nor John Beck. Interesting thing about Grossman, McNabb and Beck, though. Last year they combined for 4,050 yards and 19 TDs. In 2009 it was 4,250 yards and 21 TDs. The Washington Racial Slurs drafted RG3 to be the quarterback, which means they must think he’s better than those guys. Having seen Rex and Donovan and Beck play, I agree.
     - MOP: 4,100 yards, 24 TDs, 25 Ints, 58%, 44 sacks, 7 rushing TDs, 400 rush yards
     - LOP 17: 90%

17. Carson Palmer, OAK – Probably low for him. If you throw out his first two games last year, which is what I’m conveniently going to do here, you wind up with 8 games. That is roughly half of an NFL season. In that half of an NFL season (the second half, in this case), Palmer threw for 2,300 yards, 10 TDs, 10 Ints, 63%. That’s not bad, if by not bad you mean, “the best 8 game stretch he has had since his knee exploded.” And that’s exactly what I mean.
     - MOP: 4,500 yards, 25 TDs, 18 Ints, 65%, 30 sacks
     - LOP 17: 85% 

18. Matt Schaub, HOU – Boy, is he ever good when he plays (20 ppg last year). Sort of. All his passing weapons are gone. Well, not gone so much as washed-up shells of their former selves. Plus he has only stayed healthy for a full season twice. Plus they run a lot. Plus his team will win the division with ease, so even if he is healthy, he’s probably not playing week 17, so he’ll kill you in the finals.
     - MOP: (12 games) 2,900 yards, 19 TDs, 10 Ints, 64%, 25 sacks
     - LOP 17: 25%
RG3 is extremely happy to be a third round pick as a rookie

19. Andy Dalton, CIN – I actually really like him. I moved him up from 23 and I wish I could move him higher. He was 16 last year. He’s bound to get better. AJ Green is a stud. I’m sick of writing about a guy on the Bengals. A full season of Palmer and Schaub, plus the rookies are now ahead of him. I’m fine with that. I’m also fine with having him available to me in the fourth round.
     - MOP: 3,500 yards, 24 TDs, 11 Ints, 60%, 22 sacks
     - LOP 17: 95%

20. Matt Flynn, SEA – He could be dynamite. He also could be Kolb. He also could be on the bench watch Tarvaris be Tarvaris. I guess my point is, if you draft Flynn, you better have a good third quarterback.
     - MOP: 3,800 yards, 25 TDs, 14 Ints, 63%, 34 sacks
     - LOP 17: Assuming he’s actually the starter? 95% They’ll be in the playoff hunt.

21. Matt Hasselbeck, TEN – He is boring and bald and a placeholder and he finished 13th in points last year. If they don’t stay in the wildcard chase, he will get replaced by Jake Locker, probably around the time of the Titans week 11 bye. That is a seriously late bye week. He will seriously help you win games until then.
     - MOP: (10 games) 2,600 yards, 15 TDs, 11 Ints, 61%, 15 sacks
     - LOP17: 5%.

22. Joe Flacco, BAL – One of these years he’s gonna be good. He has to be. Luckily for me, he won’t be on my team when that happens. His stats for the past three years have been basically identical. I have no reason to think anything will change this year.
     - MOP: 3,600 yards, 23 TDs, 12 Ints, 62%, 35 sacks
     - LOP 17: 99%
I don't want to draft you, either. But somebody has to.

23. Ryan Tannehill, MIA – He might not even start week one, but if you draft Matt Moore or David Garrard, they aren’t starting for your fantasy team in week one either. Nor in week two, nor three, nor four. By the time teams start having a bye week, the Dolphins will have turned to Tannehill, if he’s not starting from week one. I don’t love him, but as a QB3, you just need someone to get you through your two bye weeks. According the HBO, he has been amazing in training camp and he might very well be able to do that.
     - MOP: 3,300 yards, 15 TDs, 20 Ints, 57%, 43 sacks
     - LOP 17: 90%

24. Matt Cassell, KC – They’re getting Jamal Charles back. They also have Peyton Hillis. They love to run. Cassell isn’t good enough to give them any reason to pass.
     - MOP: 3,000 yards, 22 TDs, 14 Ints, 57%, 34 sacks
     - LOP: 80%

25. Alex Smith, SF – I know they added a few receivers for him, but I don’t know why they would let him pass any more than last year. They added a few running backs (LaMichael James, Terrible, Washed-Up Slob Brandon Jacobs), too. His value comes from not making mistakes, which means his value is in not hurting you. Unless he is terrible, which is very possible. If he sucks, which his career has seemed to show that he will, Harbough won’t hesitate to put Colin Kaepernick in. Smith won’t win you any games, but he might be OK in a bye week.
    - MOP: 3,200 yards, 16 TDs, 10 Ints, 60%, 40 sacks
    - LOP: 75%
Mrs. Dolphins Starting Quarterback

26. Sam Bradford – It was awesome when Shawn drafted him too high last year so I didn’t get a chance to. He was terrible. He narrowly avoided finishing the season negative, which would have put him in a club with JaMarcus Russell and Derek Anderson. But he’s young and I have high hopes for him still. They added some weapons, and the upgrade from Steve Spagnoulo to Jeff Fisher is about the same as the upgrade from banging a prostitute addicted to meth* to banging supermodel Karlie Kloss. Sure, you’ll probably have a few venereal diseases that will haunt you for the rest of your life, which will mean Karlie will force you into years of wearing a condom until finally she trusts you enough to inherit the venereal diseases from you and raise a small family of venereal-diseased children, but still. At least you’re not banging a meth-addict hooker with rotten teeth anymore. I think that’s really the best thing you can say about Sam Bradford.
     - MOP: 3,100 yards, 18 TDs, 19 Ints, 59%, 40 sacks
     - LOP 17: 90%

     (* Before Sam Bradford started banging supermodel Karlie Kloss, he used to bang someone named Kelsey Kurtz. I have no reason to believe Kelsey Kurtz did meth and/or was/is a prostitute. She probably does have an STD, but she almost certainly got it from banging Bradford, and not the other way around. She’s actually quite striking. Here, look. She seems like a good, wholesome girl. She’s got a Pintrest and everything. Still, she is not a supermodel. Although I guess it’s probably more likely that the supermodel is addicted to methamphetamines. Fisher is a good coach though. And he likes to run, so Bradford won’t pass. That was my point.)

27. John Skelton, ARI, 28. Kevin Kolb, ARI – They both suck. Kolb will get the first opportunity to suck, then when he gets through sucking, it will be Skelton’s turn to suck. It’s possible they might then give Kolb another chance to suck. I sort of think Skelton sucks less, but Kolb is getting paid more money to suck. Have a fourth quarterback.
    - MOP: (8 games each. This is the combined total) 4,000 yards, 24 TDs, 24 Ints, 57%, 60 sacks
    - LOP: 90% (yes, that mean’s I believe there is a 10% chance neither is playing at the end of the year.)

29. Brandon Weeden, CLE – It’s not that I’m opposed to 29-year-old rookie quarterbacks. I AM opposed to 29-year-old rookie quarterbacks, but that isn’t why I have the fairly talented Brandon Weeden this low. No, I’m opposed to 29-year-old rookie quarterbacks that have to play for the Cleveland Browns and throw the receivers that Cleveland Browns have. Spoiler alert for my wide receiver big board: the Browns receivers are bad, and I won’t be drafting them.
     - MOP: 2,600 yards, 12 TDs, 15 Ints, 55%, 47 sacks
     - LOP: 80% ( I question his ability to stay healthy being that he’s 29 and on the Browns)

Meet Karlie Kloss, Sam Bradford's main squeeze. At least he won't make you sit around and watch football with him every Sunday.

30. Timothy Richard Tebow, NYJ – Winner in real football, loser in fantasy football. I expect him to take over early (See 34. Mark Sanchez), put up terrible numbers win a few miraculous games, then get killed by the New York media and his teammates, start sobbing in a postgame interview because his feelings are hurt, crying, “I just want to be nice to everyone why can’t you guys just all leave me alone!” That sounds like a really bad experience for ones fantasy season.
     - MOP: 1,300 yards, 8 TDs, 7 Ints, 45%, 27 sacks, 7 rushing TDs, 600 rush yards
     - LOP: 85%

31. Jake Locker, TEN – I’m pretty sure he’ll play at some point, and I have no reason to think he’ll be bad if he does. If he is named the starter before the draft, he has the same rank as Hasselbeck.

32. Christian Ponder, MIN – He was roughly twice as good as Blaine Gabbert last year. They did not add anything to their offense.

33. Blaine Gabbert, JAC – He averaged about 4.5 ppg last year. They changed offensive coordinators, drafted Justin Blackmon, then signed Laurent Robinson to be their No. 1 WR. It’s possible he could be useful, but that possibility is somewhere just below the draftable line.

34. Mark Sanchez, NYJ – Here is a list of quarterbacks that Sanchize outscored last year: Mike Vick, Andy Dalton, Alex Smith, Joe Flacco, Matt Schaub, Carson Palmer, Jay Cutler some guy on the Bears, Matt Cassell, Tim Tebow. Regardless, I think he will react poorly to Jesus’ Tebow’s presence, get benched, sulk and submarine their season. I won’t be drafting any Jets.
     - MOP: (5 games) 1,200 yards, 8 TDs, 7 Ints, 56%, 13 sacks
     - LOP 17: 10% (the remaining 5% goes to Greg McIlroy: Winner)

35. Mike Kafka/Nick Folk, PHI – Draft the Philadelphia backup if you either have Vick or are trying to piss off the guy who has Vick.

36. Tarvaris Jackson, SEA – Worth mentioning because it is possible that he’ll be their starter. If that should happen, pretend I have him at 23, just ahead of Matt Cassell.

37. Chad Henne, JAC – Probably not draftable, but if they start playing close games and Blaine Gabbert keeps blowing them like he did last year, Henne might get in. Plus he played at Michigan.
Thataway, fellas. Give 'em hell!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Debating a Mostly Ridiculous Hypothetical: Apollo Creed's Legacy

My buddy Shawn*: “Have I talked to you about the idea the Apollo Creed was probably the best boxer of all time? And would you watch a prequel about him?”

No you have not, and yes I would.

Creed was 33 when he fought against Rocky Balboa in 1976. The 6’2” undefeated, undisputed heavyweight champion had been in 46 professional bouts, winning each by knockout.

These are incredible numbers, of course. Creed was a masterful fighter, an incredible showman, and an accomplished businessman. He had few weaknesses and many strengths. Clearly he was a once-in-a-generation fighter. But he wasn’t perfect.

He must have been a prodigy and accomplished amateur. Let’s assume he fought in the 1960 Olympics in Rome (Aug. 25-Sep. 11), just days after turning 17. He lost** and began fighting as a professional later that year. He then averaged three fights/wins/KO’s per year for the next 15 years.

He had millions of fans and was probably the most famous athlete in the world. He was cocky, outspoken and wealthy. But he was humble, he never dodged a fight, he knew where he came from and gave young fighters a chance. He had a great career and was a great man; but was he the greatest?


Part of determining if he was the greatest boxer of all-time is deciding which boxers don’t exist*** in the Rockiverse. Obviously, Ali**** (That [sort of] rhymes). Based on his performance against Balboa, when the Dancing Destroyer should have been in the prime of his career, he would have had no chance against Frazier OR Foreman.

Frazier was relentless. The only thing that could keep him at bay was length and Creed had none of that. The King of Sting had power, but Frazier had granite chin. No contest. Frazier by knockout, so Frazier never existed.

If there’s one thing we know about Creed, it’s that he can’t handle southpaws. If there are two things, the second is that when he gets hit in the mouth, his game plan goes out the window, he flips into survival mode, he drops his hands, and he throws punches like a hummingbird. “Master of Disaster” was not a nickname he earned. If Foreman landed one shot, he would land his next 10. Then Creed would drop dead. Foreman did not exist.

Leaving all other fighters and their records untouched, and pretending those three fought in a parallel universe, we can begin to make comparisons.

His record ranks near the top, with his KO totals pushing him into elite company. But how would he really be remembered? What is his legacy?


When Joe Frazier died a few months ago, 4,000 people went to his funeral. When Creed died, there were only a few dozen in attendance. In less than a decade since his first defeat, his legend and legions had disappeared. If he was truly such a great fighter, as his record seemed to show, why was he forgotten so quickly?

In Rocky III, Creed brings the Stallion to train at the Tough Gym in LA. Though Apollo is welcomed, he is mostly ignored by his African-American peers. They respect him, but they keep him at a distance.

I’ll go a step further: Creed was disliked by the African-American community and treasured by white America.

In the first Rocky film, Creed is clearly a national figure. He is cheered everywhere he goes, welcomed to appear on TV whenever he pleases and sets the boxing schedule. But is this just white America? His manager is white. The fight promoters are all white. Most of the crowd is white. When he’s given a chance to pick his underdog, unknown opponent, he chooses “the Italian Stallion” instead of using the opportunity to promote a new black fighter. Before the first fight, he dresses as George Washington instead of Abraham Lincoln or a historically prominent African-American.

During Rocky’s training, he is cheered and showered with praise. Chants of “you can do it, Rock” rain down upon him from all races. The African Americans in his neighborhood wanted a white guy to beat  Creed.

Ali is regarded as the finest boxer of all time because he was a phenomenal fighter, and because he had such a complete and diverse fan base. He appealed to everyone, and everyone loved him. Creed does not have this appeal. White America loved him, until he lost, and black America tolerated him.

Surely he’d had an impressive rise to the top, but who did he step on to get there? In an era just after the civil rights movement, why were all of his handlers white?

He had a great career, but he was far from the best. And I would totally pay to find out why not.


*Henceforth known as MBS.

**Probably before the medal round, as his amateur accomplishments are never mentioned as part of his resume.

***For comparison sake, their careers exist, but the concept of fighting Creed was unimaginable.

****This would have been a solid fight, but I think Ali would get the win. He has a significant reach advantage, even if he was only an inch taller. The fighters were similarly quick, and Creed must have had fairly good power if he was able to knock out 46 professional fighters, so we’ll call that a push as well. Ali was known for his ability to win the fight before he entered the ring, but Creed was an impressive showman himself, so to me there’s no clear advantage there either. The difference would be Ali’s defensive skills. Creed managed to avoid some of Balboa’s wild haymakers, but struggled for much of the fight, particularly when he began to tire. Young Ali was untouchable, and Old Ali had a knack for wearing his opponents down without absorbing catastrophic damage. The fight wouldn’t end quickly, but it would end with Ali on top.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Behold the only thing greater than yourself

Reasons I didn’t start a blog until now: (1) chaotic insecurities (2) paranoid delusions of my eternally legacy being tarnished (3) arrested imaginative development (4) inability to come up with a clever name.

I started this blog today. Thus far I have managed to overcome one* of these limitations. This was no small task**, requiring months of brainstorming, talking to friends, experimenting and doing nothing for weeks at a time.

In order to help me determine an acceptable blog title, I (arbitrarily) decided on certain criteria I needed to reach:

Search Engine Optimization
Available Twitter handle (Not anymore! It’s unclear if I’ll use it, but @grantwritesgood now belongs to me.)
Relatively unoccupied acronym (GWG***)
Attract confused people looking learn how to write a grant proposal


Having a generally optimistic premise was particularly important. Although I’ll likely expand on this point in a later post, I’m really bothered by the overall negativity of the internet, the current state of comedy and American society as a whole. It seems like people can’t tell jokes anymore unless they involve tearing someone or something else down. I blame VH1.

More importantly, I find it much easier and enjoyable to write if the topic something that makes me happy. There is a great deal of work involved in formulating and voicing a clear opinion, and then putting that opinion in words. I’d much rather spend that time and energy being happy.


The title went through many incarnations over the last few months. Some of my favorite ideas were already taken (I would mention them, but I’m not giving anyone else the satisfaction) and others just didn’t seem like a good fit.

I had a couple get all the way to the creation process before abandoning them. I believe I started three other Twitter accounts, two other blogs (with zero posts) and wrote a handful of ledes to stories that I never finished.

I didn’t start to get to this point until my friend**** switched her “very popular” blog from wordpress to blogspot and got me thinking more about what I wanted to do with my own.

Not long after, my friend Betty and I started texting after a prolonged communiqué holiday (that rhymes). She suggested without provocation that I start a blog. Together we brainstormed names (read: threw [ideas] against the wall).

For me, being witty usually involves portmanteaus. Thus, I began pitching a series of letter piles such “gramazin,” “gramusement,” and “grantificating.”

Betty (swiftly and correctly) decided these sounded like blogs for septuagenarians who knit sweaters, watch Lawrence Welk and complain about the declining quality of appliances manufactured after 1964. I haven’t given up on portmanteaus, but for my blog title, they were out.

Next I tried thinking of alliterative words to combine with “Grant.” These ideas mostly had negative (grumbles, gruntles), arrogant (grand, great), or oddly rhythmic (groove, grace) connotations.

GrantWritesGood was suggested by Betty, who quickly added, “People might think it’s about writing grants, so maybe smart people will stumble upon your blog. Win!”

The entire conversation took less time than when she tried to explain to me how to use Spotify*****.  So hopefully I will have at least two readers, with that added bonus that they’re both smokin’ hot AND have lots of friends.


*Possibly 0.5, as I’m not entirely sure the name can universally be considered “clever”. It is (hopefully) at least clever to a small but devoted group of people. I like to call these people gravotees******

**See issues 1-3

***Others include: game-winning goal; girls with guns; Ghent PDF workgroup; Great Western Minerals Group, Global Warranty Group, some guy who likes politics and the Cubs, and the Geospatial Intelligence Standards Working Group*******

****For future reference, any time I use the word “friend” I’m referring to a girl. Any time I use the word “buddy,” I’ll be talking about a guy. I would like this to become the accepted terminology for everyone.

*****I still have not figured it out. Someday, though, with determination and a lot of help, I believe I will. I have that much confidence in my abilities.

******Subject to change

*******I’m bewildered about the inclusion “Intelligence” in the name but not the acronym.