Restaurant Draft perfect way to get in the mood for Thanksgiving dinner

Just finished the Restaurant Draft. Results are here.

Initial thoughts: It was awesome. Especially on a day where we are prepping for a huge meal, thinking about food all day really set the mood. This is basically two of my favorite things combined–fantasy sports and food.

We kept track of the snake draft in Google Docs and had a poster board on the floor marking picks by category so everyone could see what they still need and what is already off the board in that category. We also did a live blog of the event, although we had some difficulty with that.

I had my little brother filling out the board. This doesn't reflect rounds, just what positions everyone had already drafted to avoid confusion.

I would do this again with another topic. Everyone had fun doing it.

Here’s my team, round by round.

1-Salvatore’s Italian Garden (Italian) Classic. I had the fourth pick, but Salvatore’s is the Adrian Peterson of the draft.

2-Casino buffet (buffet) I didn’t think there was a lot of depth at this position, so I grabbed a good one early. This is my Antonio Gates.

3-May Wah (Chinese) See #2.

4-Duff’s (American) Best wings in town. Just ask Obama. Fantasy comparison: Peyton Manning.

5-Mighty Taco (fast food) This one was a steal. Great food and didn’t have to get stuck with a McDonald’s or Burger King. Comparison: LeSean McCoy. Waited on him and still got great value.

6-Alethea’s Chocolates (dessert) I love ice cream, so I was happy with this pick. Not a sexy pick, but you know what you’re getting. Comparison: Wes Welker.

7-Olympic restaurant (Greek) There weren’t a lot of Greek places left here, and this was all I could think of. Good pancakes, too. Comparison: You don’t know who else to draft, so umm… Eagles defense.

8-Moe’s Southwest Grill (Mexican) I would take Moe’s over Chipolte. Sorry everyone. Playing favorites here, compares to Fred Jackson.

9-Quaker Stake and Lube (Utility) Solid pick. This place is awesome inside. If you haven’t been to one, you need to go. It’s on Transit. You don’t know what you have unless you see the place. Comparison: Stevie Johnson.

10-Starbucks (coffee) I love frappuccinos. Little bit out there, but price isn’t an issue in fantasy sports, so Starbucks is a winner. Comparison: Terrell Owens.

11-Bagel Jay’s (breakfast) I was really stuck on breakfast places, and I didn’t want to take IHOP. I heard Manhattan Bagel get selected and it gave me this idea. The “Hey, why not?” pick: Mike Vick.

12-Bocce Club (pizza) Everyone took a pizza place early, so I just waited until the end. Can’t go wrong with Bocce club. Waiting everyone out and still getting a great selection? Sounds like Matt Ryan.

We had two extra rounds of utility picks after the 12th round just for fun.

13- Outback Steakhouse. I love steak and I couldn’t believe no one took this. Major steal, even though everyone knows it’s good. The Phillip Rivers of the draft.

14- Hibbard’s Custard. If you’ve ever been to this ice cream place out in Lewiston, you know what I’m talking about. They scoop their soft serve, which sounds odd but it tastes fantastic. They are a good player with limited exposure, so if I wasn’t jonesing for some right now I might say Ryan Fitzpatrick, but I have to go with James Jones.

Keep in mind we haven’t been to every restaurant out there, and everyone likes different things. I know right now there are some restaurants that were criminally left out, such as Anderson’s and P.F. Chang’s. That’s the nature of the beast, sometimes you get in to draft mode and you blank out.

Matt has declared himself the winner of the Restaurant Draft, which is funny because winning things that are supposed to be for fun is usually my thing.

I would like to do more of these in the future. Right now I’m thinking something about Christmas cookies, but that seems a little specific. Never a dull moment on this site… stay tuned.

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I have a new team to root for

The Kansas City Royals’ Triple-A affiliate announced the results of its Name the Team promotion this week. And let me tell you, I’m excited with the results.  The name and logos are fantastic, but before I get into detail, we need to lay some background.

I don’t think running a blog technically makes you a “writer” in a professional sense, but it’s a fantastic building block along the way. I’m going to school for journalism, and I really like my field. However, it’s still good to have a few backup career options in mind.

At this point in my life, I think I can safely say being a professional athlete is all but out of the question (still holding on to hope). I don’t plan on failing in anything I do, especially something I love like journalism, but before I applied to college they told me I needed to have a few backup plans in mind.

I came up with two: a weatherman and math teacher. I was always good in math and I liked being able to work out difficult problems. Knowing where to factor and what formula to use were a lot like calling the right play and picking apart the zone in football.

When I got to college, my advisor couldn’t understand why a freshman communications major would sign up for advanced calculus in his first semester. I specifically remember the face she gave me in her office. But I never cared what anyone thought about me before, so why start now? I enjoyed the class, but after having a fantastic teacher all throughout high school, a professor from South Korea who learned English as a secondary language kind of turned me away.

My college doesn’t offer any weather or meteorology classes, but if they did I think I might take one. I was always fascinated with weather, and I loved Earth science in high school. Being a weatherman sounds like it would be an awesome job, especially with all the crazy weather we get in Buffalo.

Now if it were that simple, this wouldn’t be a blog post. But I always take things up a notch. What’s more than “just” a weatherman?

How about being a tornado chaser.

A cumulonimbus cloud, sometimes called an anvil cloud. Known for bringing severe weather.

Now there is an awesome job. I’m intrigued by the aura of cumulonimbus clouds and golf ball-sized hail. Tornadoes and tidal waves used to be the wallpaper on my phone. I love watching thunder storms as they roll in, and being a tornado chaser is the logical overachiever’s extension of that pastime.

I know I just said that looking to stick your nose in severe weather instead of running from it is “logical.” Just make like thunder and roll with it.

I’ve never seen a tornado in person, but I always wanted to. I’ve had dreams about tornadoes, actually. I’m not scared in the dreams. Everyone else is freaking out in my mind, and I’m there saying “this is so cool” and noting hail size and determining how much uplift must be occurring. (Again, I’m a dork, but I’m okay with it.)

Okay, now that you know the story behind the story, let’s get back to Kansas City–or rather Omaha, where the minor league team is.

Their contest started back in August, and the finalists were announced in October. There were some really good entries (Funnel Clouds, Sodbusters), and some not so good (The Pride? That name even sucks in the WNBA). I love the playfulness of minor league names–yes, I’m looking at you, Albuquerque Isotopes–but that’s another story.

The winning name for Ohama was the Storm Chasers. I love it. LOVE IT! That region of the country is known for tornado season and severe weather, and given my history, I think the name is fantastic.

The logos are also well-done. A bad logo can really ruin a good team name (ringing any bells?), but luckily, the Storm Chasers don’t fall into that category.

The home cap logo is at the top of the post. It’s a tornado made to look like a baseball, with a bat through it as a nose. I want a hat with that logo (somebody make it happen!). The road hat logo is an “O” for Omaha with a lightning bolt through it, and the alternate logo has the baseball tornado again, this time shaped to form an “S C” for Storm Chasers. The batting practice logo is a combination of the road and alternate. 

Road, Alternate, Batting Practice

These look awesome, in my humble opinion. They were done by Plan B Branding, which is based out of San Diego. I looked around on their site, and all of their stuff seems pretty well-done. All of the numbers they plan to use on the jerseys include some type of lightning bolt, which I think is another awesome addition.

I still love the Bisons and they won’t be dethroned as my favorite minor league team any time soon, but I think I have a new No. 2.

For more info, check out Benjamin Hill’s blog and Plan B Branding’s post about it. Cool stuff.

Some people might say this is a stupid blog post, but to me this is what it’s all about. Something in the sports world caught my interest (and I had some free time for a change), so I wrote about it. I’m the story assigner, editor and copy reader here, so what I say goes. And seriously, somebody get me a hat.

Off in the Stras-osphere

My saga to see a pitcher who’s out of this world. Click here to view the scorebook.

Without even throwing a pitch in the major leagues, Stephen Strasburg is already a sensation. The rookie phenom attracts a crowd where ever he goes, and for good reason: through 11 minor league starts, he is 7-2 with a 1.30 ERA, a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 65/13, and opposing hitters are batting just .158 against him. When I had a chance to see this guy, I took it.  

The first shot I took was when Syracuse was playing in Rochester on May 18, which was a Tuesday. I had just started a job on Monday that I need to be up at 5 a.m. for, so I wasn’t thrilled with the prospect of being up that late when my body wasn’t used to being up early… but it was Strasburg. We weren’t sure if he’d make it to Buffalo, and it seemed like the last shot to see him for under $10.  

A friend of mine was also very interested in going, and slowly but surely the trip came together. It ended up being four of us guys making the trek, overcast skies and all. The forecast called for rain, but you’re going to need more than a little precipitation to derail four young sports enthusiasts. Besides, the last time Don Paul got one right he had a full head of hair.  

So off we went, eastward for Rochester. I didn’t know two of the guys personally (I had read their blogs before but they were friends of the friend), but fortunately it didn’t take long for the car talk to center on sports. Unfortunately though, it rained almost the entire way there. Did I say rained? I meant down poured. The second I go on the 90 and set the cruise control…at whichever speed you would not be appalled at me driving at…the rain came down and I had to use to gas pedal all the way there.  

We parked next to the stadium at about 5:30, and the rain had slowed to a drizzle. The sun peaked out from time to time, and it looked as if the game would go on. As we made our way around the park to Will Call, there were players from both teams throwing and warming up on the field. The gates, however, didn’t open until 6, one hour before the start of the game.  

Our excursion for dinner went awry when a sad excuse for a rent-a-cop gave us directions to the middle of nowhere. By the time we walked back over the highway to the stadium, it was almost time for the gates to open. There was already a sizeable line when word came down that the game was postponed until the next day.  

Our party was righty upset, as were others who made their way back home. But, being college kids, we decided to make a night out of it and sample Rochester’s finest export, Dinosaur BBQ. (Genny Light, who?)  

Anyway, that trip was a failure. None of us could make it the next day for the make-up game (aka couldn’t get a night out from the ladies two days in a row…), so in order to avoid having some of our own making-up to do, we all sat at home and hope Strasburg stayed in the minors until the Chiefs paid a visit to Buffalo.  

We got good news on May 29—Strasburg lost. He gave up three earned over 5+ innings to Scranton, including his first professional home run allowed. Leave it to the Yankees to rough up a pitcher. After that loss, it seemed Strasburg would get one more start in before getting called up, which would come during Buffalo’s home stand.  

I was pumped. I took the subway down to Coca-Cola Field earlier during the week to get my tickets for the game. As I was crossing Washington Street, a fire truck stopped at a red light on Swan. When the car behind it honked its horn to “Lets-go-Buff-a-lo,” the engine sounded its siren right back to the beat. How can you not love this city?  

Check the grip: Strasburg's third pitch, a changeup (click to enlarge)

I digress… It was Tuesday if I recall, and the closest I could get was section 117 (row G, 5 rows up), in front of the visitors’ bullpen. I took the tickets, thinking I could probably walk down and watch Strasburg warm up.  

Finally, it was game day. Thursday, June 3, at 1:05 p.m. Gates opened at 11:30 a.m., and that’s I intended to be there. My brother was coming with me, and I told him to be ready to go at 11. So we left the house at about 11:35… That doesn’t seem like a huge deal to some people. So we get there a little later, it’s still an hour before the game, right?  

Wrong. That affected a series of unfortunate events. We got on the subway at UB and sat with someone I knew who happened to also be going to the game. At the next stop an NFTA cop came on and asked for tickets. Apparently our Metro passes expired three days before, so we got kicked off the train and had to go buy a ticket. I guess it could have been worse if she would have given us a ticket, but it delayed our trip even more. Then when the next train finally came, we found our seats at the end of the car, where there was a guy holding a bike. Were sitting there… and the guy sneezes across the car and it lands on us and the people next to us. Now I’ve heard of projectile vomit, but never a projectile sneeze. Half the car looked on in disgust while my brother and I sat and looked at each other and didn’t know what to do. After we wiped ourselves off, it happened again! I usually hate exclamation points, but this situation needs it. Not once, but twice, a black guy carrying a bike shot sneeze/spit/grossness combo at us from across the subway, without as much as an “excuse me.” In hindsight, I should have given him an angry, condescending, Dane Cook “God bless you.” Thankfully, people a few seats over got off at the next stop, and we slid on down.  

Strasburg gets loose along the outfield wall

Finally—FINALLY—we made it to the stadium. We went right to our seats and waited for Strasburg to come out. People lined the left field wall all the way down in hopes of getting a glimpse of the legend-in-the-making. I’ve never seen anything like it. I felt bad for people with front row tickets who couldn’t even see because people were standing in front of them. About 35 minutes before the game, there was a Strasburg sighting at last. People cheered for ever stretch and jog this man did.  

When he finally a glove on and threw, I was very impressed with what I saw. Just the effortlessness of his throwing motion amazed me; the ball exploded out of his hand and it didn’t even look like he was trying. This man throws long toss harder than I throw anything, and I’m no slouch. His fastball leaves nothing more than a vapor trail and his curveball bites like a starved piranha. His own teammates looked onto his warm-up session in amazement.  

There are five-tool players, but this guy is a five senses players. You see a blur of white as the ball leaves his hand. You hear the ball traveling through the air, reminiscent of a Sidd Finch four seamer. You can smell the crackling of the air as the ball travels through it, like lightning on a hot summer night. You can feel the pop of the catcher’s mitt from the stands, like fireworks after a fridaynightbash! And for the players, they can taste his dust. Stephen Strasburg made it clear before the game even started that he is not like anything we’ve ever seen.  

Fans crowded along the third base line for a look at the prodigy before the game. Bisons' security (yellow polos) look on.

When the game started, he was overpowering. I hesitate to say fans got their money’s worth because tickets were only $10, but they were certainly pleased with their purchase. Here’s the final stat line for his win: 5 innings pitched, 3 hits, 1 walk, no runs, 4 strikeouts and 89 pitches. At the plate, he went 1-for-2 with a strikeout and a run scored. If memory serves me correctly, he is now batting 3-for-6 on the year, a .500 average. Is there anything this guy can’t do?  

Bisons’ third basemen Mike Hessman had the only swinging strikeout (a weak swing at that); the other four were looking. Strasburg had one K in every inning, and four batters hit the ball out of the infield. His perfect game was broken in the bottom of the third after an eight pitch walk to Dillon Gee, the Bisons’ pitcher; and the no-no was erased three pitches later when Jesus Feliciano ripped a single. The credibility of the radar gun at Bisons games is shaky, but they say he topped out at 99 mph (first inning), and leveled out around 95. His top velocities were hit only in the first inning.  

While Strasburg handled the Bisons with relative ease, the Herd did not lie down and allow themselves to be out muscled. No one went down on a three pitch strikeout, not even Gee. By my count, Buffalo hitters took Strasburg to full count seven times, or 37 percent of at-bats. That’s a number the rookie will need to bring down if he is to give the major league club a quality start.  

Strasburg was pinch hit for in the top of the 6th with two outs and nobody on, with Syracuse leading, 4-0.  

Overall, it was an awesome experience. Tickets for his major league debut have been sold out for almost a week, so it was cool getting to see him up close and personal for the final time before he got called up. Should Washington select Bryce Harper with the first pick in the June draft, the NL East better look out–that’s a lethal combination.

Good morning world and all who inhabit it

Congratulations.

By coming to this site, you have just increased your IQ by nine points, raised your athletic ability, and women will find you 23 percent more attractive. I’ll give the proof for this later.

If you still need more reasons to read this blog, I guess I’ll have to mention the awesome sports coverage that will be provided. (If you haven’t read the About yet, I suggest you do so now.) There will be a large number of reactions to games and events, but also discussion of smaller things, such as, but not limited to: trades, signings (or for Buffalo’s sake, not signings), game changing plays, referees’ calls, broadcasters’ calls, or whatever miniscule aspect of sports catches my attention.

It’s going to be a fun site, and you will think intelligently and critically on sports. That is how your IQ will be raised, by reading and doing some hard thinking in a time when you could be sleeping or watching mindless YouTube videos. By being around sports and understanding their complexities, you will gain an increased knowledge of sports, one that is vastly superior to friends. Thus, by becoming a smarter sports fan, you will believe yourself to be a sports aficionado, which will raise your confidence on the field and therefore make you a better athlete. And finally, now that you are a stud competitor, you will be irresistable to women. They say chicks dig scars, but let’s face it, the losing team’s going home alone.

If this logic can’t get you to come back to this blog, I don’t know what will. Go up and favorite this site right now so you don’t forget it. I’ll work on the posts, you work on coming back and commenting. See you in the winner’s circle.

It’s always Game Seven. Go Buffalo.