Thursday, March 31, 2011

It's opening day!!!! Peanut Butter Jelly with a Baseball Bat...

With Lou Seal, last season, AT&T Ballpark
For those of you that don't follow baseball, it's OPENING DAY!!!  ****  I have ESPN on in the background for some noise.  It looks pretty cold out there at Yankee Stadium, so I'm happy to watch/listen to the play-calling on TV. 

Last season, I went to the Chicago Cubs home opener.  ****  That was my first trip to Wrigley Field. 

I know my friend, Mr. Wright, is thrilled to have baseball back, since he loves the sport and despises basketball.

Further, I knew my friend, The Rick, wasn't even working today.  I spoke to him earlier, and he said, "I don't work on opening day."  ****  He's in Arlington, TX for the Boston Red Sox v Texas Rangers series, which starts tomorrow.

For the die-hard fans, with tickets to a game, enjoy the day.  For those of you that are slightly more lazy, enjoy one of my favorite videos/songs on youtube from youtube user: mycreed.

Do you think the San Francisco Giants will repeat and win the World Series again?  Time will tell... 


John Wall caught Ilgauskas' elbow and he didn't like it ~ Heat v Wizards

I had spent the past couple of days (i.e. with my mom visiting), running all over creation.  Last night mom and I went to the Verizon Center to check out the Miami Heat v Washington Wizards game.  ****  If you follow the blog, you know why this game is interesting and if you don't follow the blog you are a VERY BAD person.  Just kidding.  Kind of.  Sort of.  Not really.

Early in the game, with 8:48 left on the clock in the 1st quarter, Zydrunas had the ball and John Wall wanted it.  Zydrunas is 7'3" and rookie, John Wall, is 6'4".  It doesn't take a genius to know that when Zydrunas holds the ball up, that Wall had better back up and watch his face (i.e unless he wants to eat elbow).  Sure enough, emotions ran high and after catching Zydrunas' elbow, Wall decided to use his right arm to throw a body punch.  Here's a clip of the scuffle:

Here are two words that describe John Wall's actions: ROOKIE MISTAKE.

To put the elbow and height in perspective,
and in honor of opening day this was on the
 way to a Cleveland Indians' baseball game.
****  I'm not advocating fighting in the NBA, BUT if I was Zydrunas (i.e. after receiving that weird body punch from John Wall) I would've gone after Wall, like he was Greg Ostertag... John Wall should've swept Zydrunas' leg(s) because tall trees can't land elbows when they're on the ground... THAT's how you fight a seven footer...  You don't try to "BOX".  Wait, speaking of boxing, I don't remember the venue, but there was a guy heckling Zydrunas one day.  He was saying things like, "I'll be Rocky and you'll be Drago."  Too funny...

I am listening to ESPN and the commentary from the lady "talking through the video".  She is heavily biased towards the Miami Heat, and obviously doesn't know her NBA history.  Zydrunas has a temper.  He isn't one to start fights on the court, but he won't back down from one.  I watched the events from section 121 and I've seen many a "tussle/fight" with him.  I know that if he wanted to treat the events like a game of WHACK-A-MOLE, Zydrunas could've pounded John Wall.  The fact that Zydrunas grabbed Wall by both arms and drove him back, shows that Zydrunas exercised restraint.

Elbows in the NBA aren't uncommon.  Zydrunas used to complain about Dikembe Mutombo's elbows, and Mutombo's methods of clearing out his opponents have been well-documented.  Here's a link to a Sports Illustrated (SI) article if you want some light reading from 1999 by Marty Burns:  Don't Bogart That Joint: Opponents are tired of blocking Dikembe Mutombo's elbows with their noses

For the record, and it goes without saying, but I will anyway ~ Zydrunas isn't Mutombo.  ****  I do think Zydrunas gave Wall a cheap, left forearm to get Wall to back away.  Further, at the 15 second mark, if you see the red coat at the top of the section, that coat belongs to my mom and I'm sitting next to her.  Yes, if it's interesting ~ chances are I'm there.

As a result of the altercation, for the Miami Heat,  both Juwan Howard and Zydrunas were ejected.  Washington Wizards lost the services of John Wall for the game too, since he was also ejected.

Ultimately, the ejections and the long referee deliberation and review seemed to take the energy out of the building for some time.  Surprisingly the energy picked up and the game wasn't a run away Heat victory.  Jordan Crawford scored 39 points in the losing effort.  Dwyane Wade scored 33 points and some dude named, LeBron, led the Heat with 35 points. 

****  This picture pretty much sums up the past couple of days since I went to New York to see The Lion King with my mom on Tuesday, and we just saw the Miami Heat and LeBron yesterday.

Final score, 123-107.  Wizards lost. 

Update: Wizards rookie, John Wall, has been suspended one game without pay and two Miami Heat players were fined for their actions.  Heat forward Juwan Howard received aa $35,000 fine, and teammate Zydrunas Ilgauskas was fined $25,000.


Review: The Lion King on Broadway ~ "Animation" comes to life on stage

Tuesday my mom came to visit and we headed up to New York to see The Lion King.  Her co-worker, Tessa, had/has been telling her that it's a good show and my mom decided she wanted to check it out.  A traveling production was headed to my home town in June, but since I had some time "off" I invited my mom to come see it on Broadway.

I'll admit right now.  I love Disney.  I liked The Lion King, but it's not one of my favorite movies.  I remember being at Disney World years ago and watching a show/performance about the Lion King and not liking it.  ****  At the amusement park, I found it difficult to believe that the people were animals, despite the costuming. 

Before the show started, my mom was looking through the playbill.  She asked me what "Hakuna Matata" meant.  I have a great memory for music and song lyrics, but I even impressed myself when I told her it meant "no worries".  Not too bad, considering the movie came out in 1994.  ****  WOW.  1994...

At the Minskoff Theatre, I had a different experience.  The lighting, costuming, and overall production helped my "suspension of disbelief".  Although they don't play a large part in the production, the giraffes were my favorite.

It's a very creative production with a talented cast.  Surprisingly, my mom hadn't even seen the animated movie, and she still enjoyed and followed the story.

Unless I'm forgetting something, it'd been maybe 7 years since I'd been on Broadway for a show.  I forgot how much I enjoy going to the theatre...  I think I'm going to have to do this more often!  ****  I catch traveling productions often, but there's nothing like being in New York.

Currently the actors are collecting donations for two charities after the show.  I wasn't really paying attention (i.e. since I had already moved to the next "step" and was trying to get out of the theatre to head towards my aunt and uncle's house to visit) but I know the actor said something about going back stage to see the costumes and sets (i.e. either if you were first to donate or if you donated).  Pay attention to what he says after the show regarding donations, if you're interested in going backstage, taking pictures with the cast, and seeing the sets.  I would've had we had time!

Oh, and for those of you that need a sports tie-in, here you go!  Here's a picture of LeBron as The Lyin' King.


Saturday, March 26, 2011

Fear the Wildcats: Ohio State and Duke ~ Thanks for a good run!

Thursday night the (#1) Duke Blue Devils lost to the (#5) Arizona Wildcats.  Friday night  (#1) Ohio State University Buckeyes lost to the (#4) Kentucky Wildcats by a score of 62-60.  Both teams have exited the 2011 NCAA Tournament.  What does that mean?  It means that my brackets are OFFICIALLY busted.  In addition, I'm OFFICIALLY scared of Wildcats!!!! 

On the bright-side, at least I don't have to worry about going to any other college basketball games!  That's a lot of money saved and/or that can be put towards other stuff.  Don't get me wrong.  I'll still "watch" the games, but I really don't have a dog in the race anymore. 

I didn't watch any of the games, so I don't have anything to say as of now.  I need to take another look at the brackets to see the pairings...  Considering it's cold again where I live, I'll probably stay in all weekend and watch the games.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

My (Updated) Review: Hollywood Casino in Charles Town, WV

Today I went back to the Hollywood Casino in Charles Town, WV with my friend Sherry.  She and I are very similar in our gambling philosophy and we're both lucky so it was time to head back and check out the casino.

Here's a link to the original post:

Now, here's an update:

  • I saw a $10 minimum craps table, but it was not open. At the $10 tables the casino only offers 2X odds. 
  • There were 2 $15 minimum tables that were open, and the odds offered are different than most casinos.  With a $15 minimum pass line bet you can place:
    • Up to $40 behind for your odds, if the point is 5 or 9
    • Up to $50 behind for your odds, if the point is 6 or 8
  • Some people can't afford the $15 minimum you'll see those folks placing bets in the center (i.e. prop bets).
    • As a result, the table can get slow since people are throwing white, dollar chips from all directions and betting the C&E, hard ways, any 7, etc.  Therefore, you'll need to be patient.
  • Tables were cold, and there were a good number of "don't" players.

  • My friend said she saw $15 minimum blackjack tables.
  • We played $50 minimum Lucky Ladies blackjack and won.

****  Supposedly if you write a letter to the casino, complaining about the odds (i.e. increase demand for 3, 4, 5X odds) the casino might change their practices.  There is a Hollywood Casino in Lawrenceburg, IN that offers better odds so you'd think that the one in West Virginia could follow suit ~ especially with all the table game competition in Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.


Don't miss Janet Jackson's #1s Up Close and Personal Tour ~ DC review

Monday night I was asked if I wanted to see Janet Jackson at Radio City Music Hall.  I was asked around 6PM and I presume her show was at 8.  I would've gone, had I been in New York ~ but I wasn't. 

Actually, earlier that day I was looking at Ticketmaster and Stubhub trying to find a GOOD ticket to see Janet Jackson on Tuesday night at DAR Constitution Hall.  Janet had 2 shows scheduled in Washington DC.  One was Tuesday night and the other is Thursday night.

Seeing as though, I'm a huge sports fan, Thursday's concert date isn't going to work (i.e. since the 2011 NCAA Tournament resumes).  As a result, I had to get my game plan together for last night's show.  Since Ticketmaster told me that her Tuesday night show was sold out, and I didn't want to pay any mark-up fees from a ticket re-seller, I thought I'd have to take my chances with a scalper. 

Regardless, I wasn't going to miss Janet's #1s Up Close and Personal Tour. I arrived at Constitution Hall around 9:15PM and after running by the scalpers and asking them about their inventory, I walked towards the box office.  "It's sold out," was what the guys kept saying as they tried to sell me their upper level tickets or tickets towards the back on the floor (i.e. for face value).  Suuuuuuuuure.  Sold out.  Little did these guys know, that I knew better.

As I talked to the guy at the box office and asked for a ticket, he told me he only had 2 left.  Row AA on the floor (i.e. the first floor in the 2nd group of seats on the floor ~ which translates to the 14th row).  He then also said that he wasn't allowed to split the pair.  That's when the negotiation took place.  I asked him to ask his manager to split the pair.  It was close to 9:30 and Janet was going to come out soon.  We all knew that.  Sure enough, permission was granted and I hustled to my seat!  With an extra seat next to me I was able to spread out and I had plenty of dancing room.  ****  I bought the 2nd to last ticket to the show and I had one of the best seats.  The last ticket was left unsold.  That's how I roll...

Janet looks so much like Michael here

I'm Janet's #1 fan and I'm probably one of her largest critics.  I expect to be "wow'd" when she perform and with her latest tour's title, my expectations might have been even higher.

Janet...  Janet...  Janet...  She killed it last night!  I danced and sang my heart out for the 2.25 hours you were on stage.  I enjoyed watching the clips from Good Times, Diff'rent Strokes, Poetic Justice, etc. and seeing the photo montages from her extensive career.  ****  Janet even put on the screen a picture of Michael and her when they were kids, and the crowd went wild. 

Throughout the show, I scanned the crowd and was thrilled to see that people in the crowd still knew how to do the Rhythm Nation dance and some of Janet's other signature moves.  I thoroughly enjoyed the show and strolled down memory lane as she performed her older hits (i.e. Miss you Much and Alright).  Alright is still one of my all-time favorites and she performed the entire song!  ****  She did not perform Black Cat.  That omission made me happy, since I'm not a fan of that track.

I'm used to Janet performing at larger arenas (e.g. Verizon Center, Izod Center), but I like the feel of the smaller venue.  If Janet was standing, the crowd was standing.  The crowd only sat when she sat and sang her ballads.  Gone was the huge set and stage backgrounds.  Instead, the crowd had a more "Up Close and Personal" experience complete with her signature choreography.  ****  I didn't count, but I think she had about 6 back up dancers.

Janet exiting the stage.  Show's over.

As someone who's seen Janet in concert at least 5 other times and wasn't overly impressed with her last tour, I have to say that last night was an excellent show.  The concert was definitely worth the price of admission.  Actually, I'm thinking about going on Thursday or Saturday in Atlantic City at the Borgata (i.e. in between the 2011 NCAA Tournament sessions).  I told you I was a fan!!!  If you want to get your ticket(s) to see Janet, here's the link:

For a taste of what you'll see at the show, here's some video I shot... 


Ohio State makes it look easy, as they advance to the Sweet 16 ~ 2011 NCAA Tournament

The Ohio State University is in Columbus, OH but for all intents and purposes, it might as well have been in Cleveland for the 2nd and 3rd rounds of the NCAA Tournament.  Ohio State has been a dominant force in the tournament and during the season.  Ohio State has been so successful that there really isn't anything to say about them during March Madness except to say that they're GOOD.

George Mason University can attest to the Buckeye's strength, since Mason's road to an NCAA Championship ended on Sunday with a loss.

Here are some of my favorite pictures from the game.  I meant to shoot video of the Quicken Loans Arena crowd doing the O-H-I-O cheer, but you can picture a sea of red shirts raising their arms and yelling out the letters, just as easy!

At the end of the 1st half, the Ohio State led George Mason by a score of 52-26.  The final score was 98-66.  ****  The man I was sitting next to, told me that Mason was without its best player, since he had succumbed to the flu.  Wow.  Tough break.

David Lighty was perfect behind the 3-point line (i.e. an impressive 7 for 7) for the Buckeyes and scored 25 points.  Jared Sullinger and William Buford both dropped 18 points for the win.  Ohio State is scorching and playing complete games.  I like what I saw...  Further, with all the strange upsets, maybe my bracket isn't so busted after all.

I need to work on tickets in Newark at the Prudential Center.  The East bracket is HOT...   Let the March Madness continue!


Butler advances to Sweet 16 after upsetting Pitt ~ "Big Mack" scores 30

UConn watching, in the wings of the Verizon Center
Butler did it again.  They found a way to win and defeated Pitt on Saturday.  Jamie Dixon's squad was behind 30-38 at the half.  Brad Steven's Butler Bulldogs eeked out a controversial victory.  Depending on what side of the fence you're on, you might believe that certain fouls shouldn't be called at the end of close games.  I'm of the belief that the "right call" is the "right call" no matter what the score of the game or what the score is.

Here are some of my favorite pics that I took at the game.

Pitt coach, Jamie Dixon, is fired up

Butler Coach, Brad Stevens, always seems so calm

The Pitt player knows the end is near

Butler players celebrate a hard-fought win!
At the Verizon Center, the final score of the game was Butler: 71 and Pitt: 70.  Shelvin Mack (i.e. I'm going to call him "Big Mack") played huge by scoring 30 points.  From my seat, I could see the UConn players celebrating once Pitt was eliminated.  ****  Needless to say, with Pitt exiting the tournament, UConn's road to an NCAA Championship became a little smoother.

Yes, Butler did it again! 


Syracuse cruised into the 3rd round ~ 2011 NCAA 2nd round, Cleveland

The walk over to Quicken Loans Arena was really cool.  Check out the moon.  I think it was the "start" of a supermoon.  Google it, if you care enough.

The first game of the doubleheader had Marquette battling Xavier.  Since, I'm from Ohio, I was rooting for Xavier.  So much for that. Marquette defeated the Musketeers.

The second game was the game I was most interested in, because I wanted to see Syracuse play. I like watching their 2-3 zone defense, and I wanted to see Scoop Jardine play in person.  Rick Jackson led Jim Boeheim's squad over the Sycamores.  Jackson had 23 points.  Syracuse ended up defeating Indiana State (i.e. final score of 77-60)

Scoop Jardine shaken up


Cleveland's famous LeBron sign is now a Sherwin Williams' ad

Anyone remember the famous, iconic LeBron images that were featured on the downtown signage in Cleveland?

Well this was 2007 (i..e during the NBA Cleveland Cavaliers v San Antonio Spurs Finals).

2007 NBA Finals ~ Cavs v Spurs
This was the LeBron signage in 2010.

This is what the signage looks like now (i.e. 2011).  ****  It's a Sherwin Williams' ad.


George Mason upset Villanova ~ 2011 NCAA 2nd round, Cleveland

Game 1 of Session 1 on Friday at Quicken Loans Arena was a good one.  By now I'm sure you've seen the highlights.  Here's the game story for those of you that missed it.  I arrived in Cleveland for the session and immediately I ran into three George Mason University fans.  The college kids drove the 6.5-7 hours through the night to Cleveland, OH to root for their team. 

It felt like "home" being surrounded by all the Ohio State fans and a few Mason fans, but it WAS "home" because I was in Ohio.  Needless to say, it was surreal.

Villanova played tough, but basically fell apart down the stretch.  Mason mounted a comeback and came out victorious.  With just under a minute to go in the 2nd half, George Mason took the lead.  ****  Mason hadn't led since the score was 7-6 in the 1st half.

Mason pulled off the upset and defeated Villanova!  WHAT A GAME!!!


Kemba Walker led UConn over Bucknell ~ 2011 NCAA 2nd Round, DC

After watching 12 games of the 2nd and 3rd rounds of the NCAA Tournament, I needed to take a time out and collect my thoughts.  Rather than go game by game, I'm going to try to post my highlights.

The first game of the 2nd session on Thursday night started off with Bucknell v UConn. 

****  Notice that UConn, didn't even jump for the opening tip. 

Don't worry Huskies' fans, we all know your team showed up to defeat the Bucknell Bison by a score of 79-52.

I finally had a chance to watch UConn's Kemba Walker in person.  Here are some of my favorite pictures that I took at the sessions in Washington DC at the Verizon Center.  As for you that aren't sure who to pick between the Jimmer and Kemba, I'm right there with you.  I haven't seen Jimmer play live (i.e. yet), but Kemba Walker is definitely special.

I checked a couple of different websites and they all say that the final score was 81-52.  That's funny.  I took a picture of the scoreboard and I saw 79-52.  Ultimately, I guess it doesn't matter even for the gamblers (i.e. since the margin of victory was so high).

UConn's Kemba Walker finished the game with 18 points and 12 assists.  More importantly, UConn advanced to play the University of Cincinnati on Saturday.


Saturday, March 19, 2011

March Madness ~ Butler v Pitt and Cincinnati v UConn @ Verizon Center tonight

I overheard a guy, on Thursday, asking an usher who was playing on Saturday.  Umm, yeah.  Obviously the guy is new to March Madness.  I told him that there was no way to know Saturday's match-up until the games on Thursday were played.  He still looked confused.

 I'm looking forward to tonight's Butler v Pitt match-up.  I'm rooting for Jamie Dixon's Pitt squad.  The 2nd game on the schedule is Cincinnati v UConn.  I'm from Ohio, so I'll be rooting for the Bearcats.  I'm not a Jim Calhoun/UConn fan.  I'm not sure why.  UConn is such a tough team, but I like to root against them.  I have to admit it, that it was exciting to watch Kemba Walker play on Thursday.  After the game, Kemba signed some autographs for UConn fans in the student section where his mother was sitting.  Those are some lucky fans!

Oh, and for the record.  Louisville killed my bracket, so don't even ask me about it.

I've done 8 games in 2 days (i.e. Washington, DC and Cleveland, OH)...  I'm on a Craig Sager like streak, and I love it!  In the past 2 days I've eaten: 2 hot dogs, chicken tenders, a salad, pizza, nachos, Sour Patch Kids, and Dippin' Dots.  I've washed it all down with Diet Coke and water.  ****  The venues where the games are played are dry (i.e. no alcohol is served). 

Based on what I've ingested, if I don't have a heart attack, I'll see you at the Verizon Center tonight!

THE WIRK takes in Charlotte for the NCAAs ~ Well, at least her avatar did

Sarah can't be everywhere, so is engaging fans and followers of the blog to create a "THE WIRK Avatar" to take to sporting events in their area and report back on the action and highlights.

Lucky fans and followers who post pictures like this of "their" THE WIRK Avatar at sporting events they attend may get a chance to meet her at a future event when she comes back around to their city.  ****  You may even get a seat upgrade, because she sometimes has extra tickets on her.

RixStar was hanging out with a "THE WIRK Avatar" in Charlotte for some Eastern Regional NCAA Basketball Action at TimeWarner Cable Arena.

The "Avatar" getting ready to go inside the arena
for some NCAA action

THE WIRK has been to over 70 different sporting venues.
This is inside the main entrance to the TIME WARNER
 arena where the Charlotte Bobcats play.
Duke defeated Hampton in the early afternoon session.  THE WIRK had choice 4th row seats for this first session match-up, thanks to a hook-up at Hampton University. Go RixStar!

Between sessions, the "Avatar" checks out some of the
other NCAA action on a TV back in the room
at the Ritz Carlton Hotel next to the arena. This is so cool.
A TV built into the mirror in the bathroom

During the session, Jim Nantz looks like he's
checking out THE WIRK's Avatar!
THE WIRK, is a Duke fan (i.e. her brother went there) but she also like UNC, unless they're playing Duke.  Go Tarheels!  In one of the night games, John Henson hits one of his 28 points in UNC's victory over Long Island Univ.

THE WIRK is all about entertainment inside and outside of your favorite sporting venues. She knows where to hang out and have fun after the games.  Here she is at the Epicenter entertainment complex across from the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte. It has 3 levels of restaurants, lounges and other night spots.

At Epicenter

****  Note:  I was really in Cleveland, OH to watch the tournament there.  Post forthcoming once I rest!