Three to Read: March 13

One thing I do a lot of and am good at is consuming media. I read in the morning. I almost always take my iPad with me to lunch. And I see a lot of links on Twitter.

I have several friends who get emails from me with links to cool stories. But I’m going to now try to expand things. My goal is to post three good stories here on a fairly regular basis. There will be days when it just isn’t possible thanks to my workload at the real job and I’m not going to promise when I might post, but expect to see some good stuff here.

Topics and media outlets will be from all over the board. I won’t focus only on long stories or narratives. I’m not going to post only sports stories. I think there will be a mix.

So here it goes, the inaugural Three to Read.

One:When Mom Goes Viral from James Hagerty at the Wall Street Journal

Yes, you have heard about the friendly food critic at the Grand Forks Herald who wrote glowingly about the Olive Garden. Guess what? Her son is at the WSJ and writes about her new fame from his perspective.

Two: How Long Beach State Got In, by John Branch at The New York Times

Many of you know I have a history with ex-Gophers and current Long Beach State basketball coach Dan Monson (hint, it didn’t end well). Anyway, John Branch (who wrote the awesome Derek Boogaard series in the NYT) got great access with the 49ers at the Big West Tournament. It’s a nice behind-the-scenes story about a team that won its regular-season conference title, but has to win the conference tourney to get into the NCAA Tournament.

Three: Portland Timbers Start Their Season Singing in the Rain by John Canzano at The Oregonian

Very nice scene piece from Canzano about the season opener for the MLS’ Portland Timbers. Canzano ditched the comfortable press box to sit in the rain with the real fans. I have grown to like soccer and am fascinated by the fans. I didn’t know a whole lot when I went to a Columbus Crew game back in the late ’90s. This was a nice piece.

A great quote: There was a wonderful quote in this story about 20-somethings and hotels in the NYT

Mr. Hanson said wall-to-wall — and free — Wi-Fi service was not only demanded but expected. “High-speed Internet is almost like air to Millennials,” he added, with most considering it as essential as beds and towels.


Best e-mail of the year just arrived

The subject line even read: Best E-Mail of the Year!

What was it? Obviously it was word that my club is opening next Wednesday.

The March 21 opening will be the earliest in the 93 years the club has been around. It will be six days earlier than two years ago, when the club opened on March 27.

Yes, I’m excited.

The covers are off the greens and the supposedly look great.


Why am I bummed about Ricky Rubio’s left knee? Watch and see

When Ricky Rubio grabbed his left knee Friday night, it was hard to know just how bad it was really going to be. I initially thought he might have just banged legs with Kobe Bryant and things would be OK.

But when he tried to walk on the baseline during a timeout and couldn’t, it was clear that things weren’t going to be good.

Thanks to modern medicine, a torn ACL isn’t nearly as bad as it once was, but the injury still ends Rubio’s season.

Shawn Fury blogged about Rubio’s injury and the Timberwolves here and it is worth a click. He also found this highlight video of the Wolves PG. It’s less than three minutes long, but it shows exactly why I’m bummed about Rubio’s injury.

He made watching the Wolves fun for more than just NBA junkies like me. He turned the bounce pass into can’t miss viewing. His energy and happiness was almost contagious. It was simply awesome.

I don’t think the Wolves are done, but I am afraid that no Rubio = no playoffs. So watch this 2:50 of Rubio goodness. Hopefully it will get you excited about the future.

108 holes of golf in one day for a good cause

I’m going to post this on both of my blogs because I’d like to help my friend Jim spread the word.

Jim Colton is a guy from Chicago who I’ve gotten to know through the site Golf Club Atlas and Facebook and chatting on gmail. He loves the NBA, the University of Illinois and is obsessed with golf. He loves days in which he can play multiple rounds of golf. My idea of a big day is 36 holes, but Jim is very cool with 54 or 72 holes in one day.

On June 22nd — that would be one of the longest days of the year — Jim is going to try to set a new record. He wants to play 108 holes in one day at Ballyneal Golf Club in Colorado. Walking every one of them. Is he crazy? Maybe. But he’s doing it for a good cause.

Here’s where you come in. I’ve posted the copy Jim\’s recent blog post below. Give it a read, click on his link and if you’re inspired do anything, then do so. And Colton, when you read this, just know that I’m in for $100.

So far, Jim has pledges for more than $14,000. Hopefully that number continues to grow.

Here’s Jim’s announcement:

To my friends and loyal blog readers,Anybody who has ever been out to Ballyneal knows the caddies are a big part of the experience.  Most are high school and college kids from the area. And “area” is defined loosely, because some come from up to two hours away just to earn a $75-$100 dollar loop and a chance to be an Evans Scholar. Over the years, seven Ballyneal caddies have earned scholarships at Colorado University through the Colorado Golf Association Eisenhower-Evans Scholarship Fund.

Since my first trip to Holyoke in 2008, I’ve had caddies that run the whole gamut – from caddies on their first loops to ones that who know every inch of the wild Ballyneal greens.  Either way, every experience I’ve had there with the caddies has been a positive one. They are simply great kids – warm, down-to-earth, helpful and hard working – consistent with just about everybody else I’ve ever met in that region of the country.

Getting to know the caddies and building relationships with them over the years is one of the best parts of Ballyneal.  Of course, it didn’t take long for them to realize that I’m a golf-crazed maniac, and I get needled for it constantly. The caddies are constantly egging me on to play more holes…to keep chugging for 72 holes after just finishing my 54th, for example.  Last year, two caddies, Nick Flaa and Gary Nelson, threw down the gauntlet and played 100 holes in a day. Their primary motivation was just to get under my skin. My gut reaction was to immediately go out and bring the record back to its rightful owner, but scheduling, conditioning and footwear issues forced me to postpone it until 2011. Now armed with three new pairs of True Linkswear shoes and about 25 less pounds of spare tire, I’m ready to take on the challenge and raise the bar even further. Six-full rounds — 108 holes, is my number.
During the offseason, I started to make plans to use the marathon to raise money for the local Holyoke High School golf team and the CGA scholarship fund. To give back to the kids who had meant so much to me. But unfortunately, a much more pressing need became apparent recently. One of the caddies, Ben Cox, was seriously injured in a skiing accident in March (details here). He suffered a broken femur and broken neck and is currently paralyzed from the chest down. But Ben is in great spirits all things considered and is ready to take on the long recovery process head-on. When I heard the news, I knew I had to switch the focus of the marathon. On Wednesday June 22nd, I will be walking (at least) 108 holes of golf to raise money for Ben and his family as they begin to face this long recovery process.
If you’ve been out to Ballyneal and have enjoyed your time there, or have gotten any entertainment value out of this blog over the past five years, or you simply want to help, anything you can contribute on a lump-sum or per hole basis is greatly appreciated. You can e-mail me directly at and I will provide more details on how to contribute.
Also, if you want to take an active role in this fundraiser, I’m willing to host anybody who can raise $500 or more on their own to join me at Ballyneal on June 22nd for what I’m calling the “half-marathon” — 54 holes in one day. My only request is if you see a single lefty in an orange hat coming up on your group, please let him play through.
Jim [April 14 Update: I just spoke to Ballyneal and they are generously going to pitch-in TWO FREE FOURSOMES for a day of golf in the future.  Anybody who contributes $1/hole or $100 gets an entry into the drawings.  The first foursome winner will come via a straight random drawing.  The second foursome winner will come via a pool where you guess the total number of strokes played over par over the 108 holes (you could guess under par, but you would lose). If for some reason I fall short of 108 (which unless I get struck by lightning or have a heart attack, will not happen), it will revert to straight random drawing like the other one.  Since there can only be one guess per stroke, it will be first come first served on locking in your number.Everything will be putted out and I will be mixing up the teeing spots. The only liberty I’ll be taking with the rules is for a lost ball – stroke versus stroke and distance.]

[April 14 Update #2: Dismal River has also generously donated a foursome of golf that will added as a third random drawing.]

[April 15 Update: The Kingsley Club has generously donated a foursome of golf that will be added as another raffle item.]

[April 18 Update: The Event has a Facebook Page. Even if you can’t make it to Colorado in person, please click ‘Attend’ to offer moral support and help spread the word.]

[April 18 Update: Our friends at TRUE Linkswear have generously offered one pair of TRUE Tours and one pair of their new TRUE Stealths to raffle off to those who have made a donation.] [April 23 Update: Hudson National Golf Club in New York has donated a threesome of golf and lunch with a member. The winners are expected to pick up the caddie fees.]
So Jim might be a little obsessed. And I like that. He makes me seem grounded when it comes to my level of interest in golf.

Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose

I’m not going to lie, I’ve been waiting for tonight for quite a while. Because I’m one of those people. I’m one of the few that has been into Friday Night Lights from almost the beginning.

A friend of mine said there are two kinds of people: Those who love Friday Night Lights and those who haven’t seen it. I can’t disagree with that statement at all.

Tonight, those of us who don’t have DirecTV or haven’t run out to pick up the DVD will finally get to see the final season of Friday Night Lights as it begins its run on NBC. We once again get to see Connie Britton and Kyle Chandler. We once again get to see a cast of previously unknown actors grow before our eyes. We get to watch ourselves get captivated by the storylines.

Here is a story previewing the final season of the show.

Here are a couple of excerpts:

“If there were justice in the complicated realm of pop culture, “Friday Night Lights” would have spent the past five years loading up on Emmy awards and adorning magazine covers. Instead, it has mostly lurked on the prime-time sidelines as television’s most understated and underappreciated masterpiece.”

And more:

“I know what you’re thinking: Here’s another preachy TV critic spewing an eat-your-vegetables kind of sermon. Guess again. I’m urging you to give “Friday Night Lights” a chance not because it’s good for you in the way that say, “The Wire,” is good for you. I’m urging you to watch because this just might be the blind date that pays off in the TV love of your life.

From town rabble-rouser Tim Riggins (Taylor Kitsch) and troubled but talented quarterback Vince Howard (Michael B. Jordan), to beauty-queen heartbreaker Becky Sproles (Madison Burge) and headstrong Jess Merriweather (Jurnee Smollett), this show is teeming with characters who worm their way into your heart. Just give them two or three episodes to form a bond and, odds are, you’ll find yourself cheering their triumphs, crying over their disappointments and cringing at their mistakes. Why? Because they feel so incredibly honest and real.

And speaking of real, the performances of Chandler and Britton as Eric and Tami Taylor are off-the-charts brilliant. Like any long-wedded couple, their characters frustrate and annoy one another, but at the end of the day they always fall back into each other’s arms. With a pleasing mixture of humor, warmth and playfulness, they personify TV’s most authentic depiction of a modern marriage – and they do it so well that you forget these are actors at work.”

My advice is much like the advice in the story: Give it a shot. Either start tonight. Or start watching old seasons of the show on Netflix (you can stream previous seasons). I think you will like it. Because there’s a dirty little secret about the show: It’s not really about football. It’s only  the most honest show about teenagers and growing up in a smallish town that I’ve ever seen. You don’t have to like sports, you don’t have to like football, you just have to like good television.

How fired up am I? I’ve been watching episodes from the the first season again on Netflix. Once again, I’m hooked. I can’t wait to see what happens.

Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.