Sunday, March 27, 2011

My 100 Favorite Songs: #3

Blondie - Heart of Glass

Blondie evokes a mood that's perfectly congruent with the subject matter - a dazzling accomplishment. Heart of "glass" is more descriptively authentic than other materials such as "stone" or "gold."

Monday, March 21, 2011

My 15 Most Devastating Losses

Two of the most agonizing experiences I've ever had as a sports fan took place during the last week. First, the Colorado Buffaloes mens basketball team was denied entrance to the NCAA Tournament. The hourlong selection show was the worst sports viewing experience I've ever had. But it wasn't a game.

Saturday evening the 1-seeded Pitt Panthers lost an excruciating second round NCAA tournament game to 8th seeded Butler. I sat watching the last minute of the game in anguished incredulity while my phone blew up, Pitt hoodie drawn over my face, hands shielding my eyes. It had to be seen to be believed. After it was finally over, I stumbled outside and walked around in a depressed haze, thinking of nothing other than the Bill Simmons "Levels of Losing" and the most crushing games I've ever been part of as a sports fan.

15. Miami 95, Dallas 92 (2006 NBA Finals Game 6)

This series-ending loss was tragic because Dallas was obviously the better team but lost the series in six in large part due to horrific officiating.

14. Los Angeles Lakers 106, Sacramento 102 (2002 NBA Western Conference Finals Game 6)

Perhaps the most blatantly worst-officiated consequential game of the decade in any sport. Check out this emotional ten-part youtube series recapping the malfeasance.

13. Duke 61, Butler 59 (2010 NCAA National Championship Game)

If Gordon Hayward’s half-court shot had gone in, it would have made for the tastiest highlight in sports history.

12. Los Angeles Lakers 100, Sacramento 99 (2002 NBA Western Conference Finals Game 4)

Robert Horry’s shot capped a 24-point comeback.

11. Kansas 59, Davidson 57 (2008 Regional Final)

This matchup was so compelling I wrote about it in advance. The Jayhawks would go on to win the national title over Memphis in a brutal broken axle/stomach punch combo for Tigers fans.

10. Yankees 6, Red Sox 5 (2003 ALCS Game 7)

The all-time Guillotine Game – an almost unfathomably excruciating loss for Boston fans at the time. Aaron Boone hit the walkoff in the 11th after the Sox blew a 5-2 8th inning lead.

9. Marquette 77, Pittsburgh 74 (2003 NCAA Regional Semifinal)

The only game on this list I attended in person. The villainous Dwyane Wade scored 20 of his 22 points in the second half to upend a charismatic Pittsburgh squad. At the time I thought that season was the pinnacle, the best that Pittsburgh hoops could get – but I was wrong.

8. Red Wings 7, Avalanche 0 (2002 NHL Western Conference Finals Game 7)

I got my first speeding ticket racing to my friend’s house to watch this game. I actually arrived in time, sadly. Obviously this was a "Full-Fledged Butt Kicking."

7. North Carolina 75, Illinois 70 (2005 National Championship)

Illinois was supposed to win. They were the best college basketball team of the last decade, maybe two decades. They played so wonderfully together, the ultimate synthesis of talent, experience, coaching, chemistry, and desire. 37-1 before the title game. And after this heartstopping comeback, there was no doubt in my mind that they were destined to win the national championship.

They played their worst game of the season in the national championship, and barely lost to the evil North Carolina Tar Heels.

It wasn’t supposed to be that way. It went against everything that had happened the whole season. Someone typoed the script. As dumbfounding as that comeback against Arizona had been, losing in the title game was even more shocking.

6. Dallas 3, Colorado 2 (2000 NHL Western Conference Finals)

The Avs lost to the Stars in a game 7 in the Western Conference Finals for the second straight season. Ray Bourque hit the post with just seconds left.

5. Butler 71, Pittsburgh 70 (2011 NCAA second round)

The last two seconds of this classic were pure irony: two of the smartest teams in college basketball committed two of the sport’s all-time dumbest plays, Shelvin Mack and Gilbert Brown both emerged as goats despite career shooting games, officials made two accurate calls in difficult circumstances after botching calls throughout the game, 8th seeded Butler played better than at any point during the previous season’s Cinderella run to the championship game, and Pitt became the poster boy of Big East failure despite shooting 56% and playing well throughout the game.

4. Villanova 78, Pittsburgh 76 (2009 NCAA Regional Final)

This was the Pittsburgh team, the best of all of them, the best college basketball team in America, loaded with talent and personality and gumption, the one that was going to end a 68-year Final Four drought. Again, I thought the Panthers would never have such an opportunity again. Again, I was wrong.

3. Los Angeles Lakers 112, Sacramento 106 (OT) (2002 NBA Western Conference Finals Game 7)

After seven exhausting, gutwrenching, spine-tingling battles with the Lakers, the officials, and their own personal demons, the Kings finally imploded in overtime in front of their home crowd. The Kings would never get this deep again – and, in an especially cruel twist of fate, may soon be vacating Sacramento for the home of their evil rivals.

2. Jaguars 30, Broncos 27 (1997 NFL Divisional Playoff)

No one around here ever considered the possibility of the #1 seed Broncos losing this game to the Wild Card Jaguars, who had become and expansion team just one season earlier. It just never even crossed our minds. The worst thing about this loss, which precipitated and was mitigated by two straight Super Bowl wins, was that it came on the last night before going back to school after two weeks of winter break. The stark, empty depression of procrastinated schoolwork with nothing whatsoever to look forward to was almost too much to bear. The Broncos were a beacon of hope through that miserable year of middle school, and then, suddenly, there was nothing left to hold onto.

1. Nebraska 33, Colorado 30 (OT) 1999

The Buffs had lost seven straight games to the hated Huskers. The defeats had gotten progressively harder to swallow. Three straight times CU had been a heavy underdog, took the game to the final minute, and succumbed in heartbreaking fashion. The #3 Huskers had their eyes on a national title and were looking to crush the unranked Buffaloes on national television the day after Thanksgiving to impress the voters.

It was a crushing for 46 minutes. Nebraska led 27-3 early in the fourth quarter. The Buffaloes then launched a jawdropping comeback in front of the Folsom Field crowd, kicking a field goal and then scoring three touchdowns in a six minute span (aided by an onside kick) to knot the game at 27 with three minutes left. Colorado got the ball back again with two minutes remaining, and, in true stomach-punch fashion, promptly fumbled it away in their own red zone. Nebraska merely had to sit on the ball three times and kick a field goal for the win, but unbelievably, fumbled for an eighth time on the next play. The Buffs recovered and quickly moved down the field to set up a 34-yard field goal with two seconds left.

Jeremy Aldrich finished his career at Colorado as the school’s all-time leader in field goals, field goal attempts, and field goal percentage. But when any Colorado fan hears his name, the only image associated with Jeremy Aldrich is that 34-yard field goal sailing wide. To this day, I still don’t know if it actually missed. It was above the upright. It looked good when he kicked it. I can still see that ball fading, sailing into oblivion along with the game. The Buffs lost in overtime.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

My Bracket

Monday, March 14, 2011

Moon's 2011 NCAA Tournament Primer

I am in a depressed shock. My favorite team in all of sports, the team I would like to see succeed more than any other, the Colorado Buffaloes men’s basketball team, has been snubbed from the most exciting sporting event of the year, the NCAA tournament. This was a truly stunning omission – the Buffs were considered to be a lock locally and nationally. Buff fans have waited eight years for a team worthy of the tournament, watching multiple rebuilding efforts culminate in this exasperating, often underachieving squad of four studs and a bunch of guys unworthy of the Big XII. The season was an emotionally exhausting rollercoaster which saw the Buffs lose a few pathetic games early, suddenly turn the corner, choke away several winnable games, then mount a wild comeback in a win over Texas. The Buffs then pulled out two heart-pounding thrillers in the Big XII, including a do-or-die third win over Kansas State which appeared to lock up a tournament bid. And then came the Selection Show, the single worst hour I have ever spent as a sports fan. My enthusiasm for the NCAA tournament has been completely sapped, but I did happen to write this preview ahead of time so I might as well post it.


Deciphering the bracket is all about stereotyping. Unless you’re a total diehard, it’s silly to try to break down the matchups, to make your own opinions about who’s overrated and underrated. The committee generally does a fine job of seeding the teams; trying to outpick them by game by game is pointless. What you need to do is identify the obvious role players, the teams that fit a molded pattern we have seen before in the NCAAs.

Before we get to the stereotypes, just go ahead and write down “Ohio State” six straight times through the championship game. If you pick anyone other than the Buckeyes to take the championship down this year, you’re either a fool, a genius, or a homer. OSU is as well-rounded a team as you will ever see at the college level – talented, diversified, experienced, prepared for any challenge. Their only weakness, like most of the top contenders this season, is coaching.

On to the stereotypes:

The Sleeping Giant

This is the talented team that underachieves throughout the regular season, then finds itself just in time for redemption. Illinois fits the profile here. Big Ten rival Michigan State has lost five straight Big Ten tournament semifinals. Is it possible mastermind Tom Izzo is deliberately throwing these games so his team will be emotionally primed for the real tournament? The Spartans were gifted a juicy draw, and could reach the conference final practically by default.

The Peaker

The big-name squad who doesn’t raise too many eyebrows during the season, but has slowly improved and put itself in position to make some noise when it counts.

Kentucky is a talented young squad that lost a ton of close road games but appears to be playing their best ball now. In-state rival Louisville has also been playing some excellent ball of late.

The Premature Ejaculator

The major-conference team that puts together a solid season but finishes in the middle of its highly-competitive league, then bands together a startling championship run in its high-profile conference tournament. Heavy in the legs and short on emotion, this team often caves in the first round of the NCAAs. This year the wadblower is obviously UCONN – perhaps the clearest ever, in fact. The Huskies won five games in five days last week to take the Big East tournament championship over Louisville and fellow premature ejaculator Rick Pitino and now face a tougher-than-it-looks combo of Bucknell and Cincinnati/Missouri.

The Snake In The Grass

Think George Mason in 2006. The quietly confident 8-12 seed no one is talking about who shows up, kicks a couple asses, then finally gets some recognition heading into the Sweet Sixteen. This team didn’t win its conference tournament, but won plenty of games during the regular season. Old Dominion, Utah State, and Missouri could snake their way to the Sweet Sixteen this season.

The Steaming Pile of Cow Dung

VCU and UAB will likely be toast by the time the field is down to 64, but Penn State doesn’t belong in the field either. The Nittany Lions uglied their way to a 9-9 record in the Big Ten, then dispatched Wisconsin and Michigan State in back-to-back basketball apocalypses to sneak into the field.

The Jumper

The high seed walking out on the ledge, just aching to fall off the precipice. BYU (one-man team), Notre Dame (not overly athletic), and Florida (unbecoming of a #2 seed) fit the bill here.

The Fake Sleeper

This is the team the national media jumps on as a potential Final Four darkhorse for no good reason. Kansas State does have a couple good players, but isn’t the loaded contender some of these guys might have you believe.

The Maniacs

USC is an unpredictable squadron with some quality wins and some horrific losses – exactly the type of team that should have to play-in to the tournament. Villanova has caught some flak for finishing the season 5-10, but could be a nuisance for Ohio State should they get by George Mason in the 8/9 game.

Tennessee has proven they can beat some dynamite teams, and could get a shot at Duke on Sunday.

The Loch Ness Monster

Not many people saw much of San Diego State this season. The Aztecs lost their two highest profile games this season, both to BYU. Those were the only two games they lost all season. Flukes? Bad matchup? Jimmered? Nobody really knows what to expect out of SDSU, though they seem as good a bet as any to win at least two games.


I’ll post my bracket in a couple of days.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Monday Night

I’m late. Taylor is house/dog sitting an amazing property just east and south of Boulder up on a hill overlooking the city. It’s an amazing place, and a great place to grind online. However, in the winter, it can be difficult to reach. I left my car at the bottom of the hill cause it’s likely to snow tonight and I don’t want to navigate the rough dirt road in the morning snow. Before driving here, I spent a good twenty minutes scraping ice off my windshield. There was an apocalyptic ice storm in Boulder this morning which left a sheet of ice on the town. I almost fell down the stairs this morning. I hate ice. I hate snow. I hate the cold. I hate winter. Yet I still live in Boulder when moving to Las Vegas or Los Angeles a long time ago would have made more sense. Why?

Apart from the obvious proximity to family and friends, along with familiarity (new things generally make me uncomfortable), it’s the seasons. The summer is better when you go through a winter to get to it. A perfect spring day is indeed perfect when there are only a few each year. I love the repetitive change.



Ukrainian across the table raises I fold QJo in BB.

Table has Mohsin “chicagocards1” Charania two to my left and Eric “blizair” Blair, a final tablemate from the NAPT Venetian a year ago, two to my right. I’m pleased and excited to recognize no one else at the table, a rarity for the 1k Monday.

Blizair raises I call with 86 of clubs. Flop K55 one club he checks I check. Turn 4h second heart he bets a little more than half pot and I slowly fold.

Taylor made this stew of chicken, quinoa, and tomato which didn’t make a strong first impression but slowly got better the more you ate it.

Limp AQhh in 2nd pos. The Ukrainian raises 4x in the cutoff and I call when it folds back to me. Flop KdJdJh. I check-call a half-pot bet. Turn x check-check. River Td – it wasn’t my plan to hit the gutshot but since I do I bet 60% pot and he folds.



The Ukrainian raises, two guys call in position, the SB calls, and I call with 76ss in the BB. Flop is 332 with two spades. SB checks, I check, preflop raiser bets small, both players in position call, and then the SB checkraises big. I fold – and was planning to fold to that action anyways. The SB ends up getting it in dead with AsTs on the 8x turn vs 88.

A couple hands later that guy shoves from the cutoff for 9 BB with QJs and I end his tournament with KQo on the button.

Moved to a new table which surprisingly boasts Annette_15 as the only big name. I recently completed the first draft of a book chapter about my experience in the Bahamas last year, which includes a section on Annette. She’s a great player, but I’m directly to her left here.

GimmeDa1time AKA Ty Reiman registers late and sits down across the table.

Raise 9h7h in second position. The SB reraises 3.5x. I decide to take a shot here. Flop is an orgasmic Ts8s6d. SB bets out just 220 into 756. I decide to make a big raise to 840. He timebank calls. Turn 8d. He checks. It’s pretty clear he has a big pair. I think hard about the best way to stack him. I can check it back and almost certainly get a 2/3 pot bet out of him on the river if a blank hits. I can bet small to set up a river shove, but that looks like a big hand when the board pairs. Finally I decide to just shove in for 3400 effective into 2400 pretending to have some big draw or wild move. He tank-folds. What do you guys think is the best way to play this hand?



Bailey keeps stealing this new rubber chicken from Kongo. Bailey tears every toy to shreds with fervor and immediacy. We have to keep stealing it back from Bailey (no easy feat) and give it to Kongo.

Limp TT in 3rd position. Reiman 4xes from the button and the SB calls. I could easily raise here with what’s likely the best hand but just call. Flop KJ9 we check to Reiman he fires and we both fold.

Taylor says “don’t call me ‘The Girlfriend’ in this blog post.”

Button 3xes Annette calls in SB I fold T8o in BB.



This is a pretty bad stackoff IMO:

*** HOLE CARDS ***

Dealt to GnightMoon [Qd 8s]

RocketsBaby folds

GimmeDa1time folds

BooBoo825 folds


thewood503 raises to 180

Annette_15 calls 180

GnightMoon folds

dwf1029 calls 150

macqueen56 calls 120

*** FLOP *** [8c 7d 3h]

dwf1029 bets 240

macqueen56 calls 240

thewood503 calls 240

Annette_15 folds

*** TURN *** [8c 7d 3h] [9c]

dwf1029 checks

macqueen56 has 15 seconds left to act

macqueen56 bets 840

thewood503 has 15 seconds left to act

thewood503 raises to 1,800

dwf1029 folds

macqueen56 raises to 6,044, and is all in

thewood503 calls 2,595, and is all in

macqueen56 shows [5s 6d]

thewood503 shows [3d 3s]

I feel like a raise here on the turn by thewood, as my friend Joel often says, “isolates to better hands.” Flatting saves your bacon when he has the straight (which is a decent chunk of the time) without losing too much value or protection.

Raise QTs MP and win uncontested.

During the break I play a spirited round of monkey (or in this case, rubber chicken) in the middle with the dogs. Kongo wins, but only because we let him.

I raise the SB to 180 with KQo the BB makes it just 360 I call then check-fold on 764.

Next hand raise J7o on the button blinds fold.

Check in on @grtwhitehoop and @jressle who are getting fairly deep in the Big Event or whatever it is called in LA. Both these guys seem to do some damage in a lot of the tournaments they’ve been playing lately. I’ve spent some time studying a few of grtwhitehoop’s hand histories the last few weeks and have implemented a few things, though sucking out on overpairs has not been one of them just yet.



Button raises 3x I call with KJo in BB. Flop is 863 two hearts I check he bets 365 into 520 and for some reason unbeknownst to me I raise to 890 then fold when he makes it 1615.

Next hand Reiman minraises MP, guy behind him calls, I pop it to 629 in the SB with AQo, and the BB instajams for 1847 with AQo. This is a bad ship against my range, and it also turns out to be a bad ship cause Reiman reships QQ and takes him out after I fold.



The button raises yet again on my BB. This time Annette 3-bets in the small blind and I want to 4-bet from the big with QJo, but the stacks are such that I would basically be risking my whole stack to pick up the 1k in the middle.

MP raises and thewood calls. I call with 44 on the button – getting close to where I should be folding. Flop is T83, the preflop raiser bets and we both fold.



The button raises yet again (this time min) and I call with Ad8s in the BB. Flop is AcTs9s and it goes check-check. Turn is the As. I can fire-fire here but instead I decide to checkraise, and he quickly folds.

Echinacea tea. Not ecch. Not bad.

Annette raises the cutoff and I have AJo on the button. With antes and/or history I would play this hand for stacks (she has 33 BB and I have her barely covered) but we’re not there yet so I just call. Flop is KT7 rainbow. She bets 345 into 660 and I make it 850. She quickly calls. I decide she has a set, QJ, or J9. I’m not sure what else she could play like this. She’s got 3k left in the stack and there’s 2300 in the pot. Turn is a deuce. She checks. I decide to check. River is a deuce. I think I can actually call a bet here but she checks. I check and she wins with JJ.

I actually consider firing up a game of Dominion online but that wouldn’t really be fair to my opponent as I’d miss some time while playing hands in this tournament.

I call a raise in the BB with K6s getting almost 10:1 and miss.



Raise AJdd MP and a tight guy calls on the button. Flop T32 two hearts one diamond. I slowly check and he checks. Turn 2 I bet the minimum and he calls. River 3 I check he checks 88 I actually feel good about how I played that hand.

Fold 54s 2nd position.

UTG mins I fold A9s in the BB.



Fold QJs EP.

Shove 66 for 1900 from MP they fold.



Made it to antes! Yay!

GetPWN3D raises in 2nd pos and the SB calls. I have 66 in the BB. Thoughts? Saul has been tight. I fold. Flop 996. kad;fgs/.kmasfgs yeah yeah I know that wouldn't have been the flop on FTP if I called.

Shove J9o on the button both blinds reship and I lose to both A8 and QQ.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

February Top 15

15. Ryan Adams & The Cardinals - Happy Birthday
14. Guster - This Could All Be Yours
13. Weezer - Hang On
12. Ennio Morricone - Il Tramonto
11. Ryan Adams & The Cardinals - Stop Playing With My Heart

10. Florence & The Machine - Kiss With A Fist
9. Mumford & Sons - The Cave
8. Guster - Architects & Engineers
7. Guster - Do What You Want
6. Coldplay - Death And All His Friends

5. Griffin House - Amsterdam
4. Malcolm McLaren - About Her
3. Ryan Adams & The Cardinals - Users
2. Florence & The Machine - Dog Days Are Over

Song of the Month: Johnny Cash - A Satisfied Mind