Two reads in honor of tonight’s start of the NCAA tournament

If you didn’t know, the newly expanded NCAA men’s basketball tournament begins tonight. These two stories won’t help you win your bracket pool, but it will get you up to speed and make it appear as if you’ve been watching ball all season.

Do you know what three-goggles are? What started in the NBA has made it to the college game. And I’m guessing that flashing the three-goggles will be this year’s version of popping one’s jersey. So, you had better read this story from The Wall Street Journal on the latest trend.

And while I know that CBS considers Jim Nantz, Clark Kellogg and Steve Kerr to be the voice of the tournament, that is a bunch of hogwash.

The voice of the tournament is none other than Gus Johnson. I mean did you hear him scream “COLD BLOODED” after Washington guard Isaiah Thomas dropped the three-pointer to beat UCLA in Saturday’s Pac-10 championship game?

Anyway, here is a good New York Times story on Gus. It talks about his excitment level, his creative way of calling games and his background. I’m not going to lie, I will sometimes watch a game strictly because Gus is on the mic. He just has so much fun. After you read the story, make sure you check out Gus Johnson sound board.

In the words of Gus, it is “pure”.

Some good reads for a Friday

Back on the blog after a day off. Here are a few gems I’ve found in the past couple of days.

I am clearly on the Eminem bandwagon of late. There was the Chrysler Super Bowl ad. And now there\’s a story in the Detroit Free Press about how a middle school girl scored an interview with Eminem for her school paper in suburban Detroit. Good for her, but also good for him.

Maybe this one is more interesting to me since I’ve had a couple of significant college hockey interactions for my day job. But there was a good New York Times story about how U.S. college hockey and major juniors in Canada are both trying to invade the turf of the other.

I didn’t know that the Dakotas were an iPhone deadzone.

I’ve seen this posted on Twitter a couple of times in the recent past, but the strange combination of cellos and Michael Jackson is pretty good. This is a pretty cool version of Smooth Criminal.

Expect much piling on on Deron Williams in the wake of Jerry Sloan retiring. But is it that simple? Adrian Wojnarowski from Yahoo! doesn\’t think so.  There’s also a money quote from Kobe in there.

And I have to admit, I’m kind of interested in seeing the movie Cedar Rapids. Maybe it is because of all the times I have driven through there or flown into the Eastern Iowa Airport for a bad basketball game at Iowa.

One additional item I forgot to add. Esquire writer Chris Jones has been blogging and blogging frequently about writing. Here he talks to Wright Thompson about his process. I don’t know either of these guys (I’ve met Wright, but don’t know him well), but I thought the conversation was quite interesting.

Required Reading: How Raf prepares

I feel almost guilty posting this story. I am a fan of Bill Raftery, the college hoops color guy who has a knack of being interesting, informative and fully as hell at the same time.

The Wall Street Journal brings it with a nice and interesting piece on Raf\’s preparation for the games he works.

And it is work. I don’t think many fans and viewers understand the challenge that is live TV. It is tough work describing what you see in real time with your own eyes and providing instant analysis.

Anyway, it’s worth a read.

Required reading: Three very good ones

On this cold Friday, I provide three very good reads for

1. Jeff Pearlman is a sportswriter/author. He and I know lots of people in common. We’re about the same age. I read his blog on a fairly regular basis. But I don’t know him.

He wrote about tracking down a couple of his online haters. The piece about online civility — or the lack of such a concept — kind of hit home for me. I love the internet. I can’t lie about that. But the abilility for people to just crush somebody over an anonymous email or on a message board or on Twitter of Facebook really frustrates/frustrated me. There’s just so much mean-spirited venom out there.

I had good newspaper jobs and got tons of hate email. I can only imagine the amount of nasty filth that Pearlman gets. It can’t be good. It was one of the worst parts of my job. But it was always kind of funny how if you emailed somebody back, they often were shocked that you sent something back. They would often apologize and be really nice.

2. Last November, I worked on a story with my job about injured University of Denver hockey player Jesse Martin. Long story short: He broke a vertebra in his neck during a game, came to our hospital, had a great surgery and is making a great recovery. The Denver Post has video of him speaking recently and an update on his recovery. It’s both amazing and inspiring. I realize I’m kind of close to this story having worked with his dad and having seen Jesse with the halo on his head, but it’s worth a read.

3. Tom Scheck from Minnesota Public Radio puts together a piece on Michelle Bachmann\’s trail of misstatements. It is worth a read regardless of your political affiliation. But if you lean left, you’ll probably like it a little more.

Required Reading: January 15

Here are two stories — one somber and one quite lighthearted — for this Saturday.

The first comes from the New York times on the scene in the trauma center after last week\’s shooting. The piece features wonderful detail and is a very good narrative of what things were really like there.

I liked it in part because of my new job in health care and I do some work with our Level I trauma center, but I think is an interesting read.

Second is a goofy story from Yahoo’s college hoops blog, The Dagger. It is a story of how a North Carolina fan buys a ticket from a scalper for a game at Virginia and gets booted from the seat because he’s wearing a Tar Heels sweatshirt. The whole idea is pretty ridiculous, in my opinion. The idea of how much many schools want to control everything — often to avoid upsetting a coach that has much power — is crazy to me.

Anyway, a couple of good reads.

Required Reading: Jan. 8

Today’s read comes from Amy K. Nelson of ESPN.com. It is a wonderful read about MLB umpire Jim Joyce about what has happened in the months that have passed since he made an error on the final call of what would have been a perfect game for Detroit pitcher Armando Galarraga.

As an added bonus, here’s a New York Times story on former Timberwolves player Fred Hoiberg who is attempting to rebuild the program at Iowa State.

Required Reading: Jan. 6

Perhaps my favorite thing about the internet is the ability to share, to pass along a great tale, a beautiful turn of phrase, a thoughful piece.

It’s one of the things I want to do with this blog. I want to share. Some days I might not find a great piece. Other days, there might be five.

Today there are two.

First, Joe Posnanski writes about Red Klotz, who played for and coached the Washington Generals, the frequent opponent of the Harlem Globetrotters.

An exchange from the piece:

Red: Everyone has lost at one time or another.
Me: So we are all losers.
Red: No. We’re not losers. We all lose.
Me: What is the difference?
Red: What is the difference between and winner and loser?
Me: Yes.
Red: A winner is someone who can tell the difference.

Next up is a column from St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bernie Miklasz on Baseball Hall of Fame voting. I’ve grown weary of the Hall of Fame, of Bert Blyleven and the whole steroid question. I can’t believe that Pete Rose still isn’t eligible. I don’t like the arrogance of some of the baseball writer voters who will be happy to tell you that they are smarter than you.

Here’s a snippet from Bernie’s column:

“The Baseball Hall of Fame vote has turned into a ridiculous self-important, self-righteous Kangaroo Court. This hopelessly flawed process must be reformed. As much as I hate to admit this, the writers are clearly incapable of sorting all of this out in a coherent, consistent way. Little did we know that there was another fallout to baseball’s steroids eras: It caused some of the writers to lose their minds.”