Monday, June 14, 2010

Ten Things Nabil Thinks He Thinks

I would like to thank Coach Johnson for giving me the opportunity to contribute my thoughts.  I’ve been a big fan since the beginning.  And for that Coach, this one’s for you.  As the Captain stated in his post, no one can match the Coach, and all I can do is try and not disappoint. 

Let’s get to it.  Here are the 10 Things I Think I Think.

1)  I usually enjoy reading the Coach’s insight on the University of Georgia Bulldogs football team.  It allows me to appreciate the Dawgs a little more and understand the landscape of SEC football.  But as many of you know, and for those that don’t, I am a Purdue Boilermaker.  Unfortunately, there is not much to report on the Boilers for this season.  I feel they are still in their rebuilding phase as coach Danny Hope continues to recruit his players for his system and the last of Joe Tiller’s players finish their careers.  The only positive going into next season is that the Boilers are coming off of victories over the Ohio State Buckeyes and the University of Michigan Wolverines.  If you told me prior to the 2009 season that the Boilers would go onto beat both of those schools, I would have booked my flight to Pasadena, CA.  But alas, we ended the season 5-7.

2)  Currently, the only exciting sports news to come from West Lafayette, IN is the men’s basketball team and the return of their top three stars:  Robbie Hummel, JuJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore.  Last year was one of the most exciting basketball seasons I have witnessed since becoming a Boilermaker.  It was hard to watch the team in the NCAA Tournament as they played without their best player and floor general, Robbie Hummel, who went down with a torn ACL 3 games before the Big Ten Tournament.  The team still played well as they advanced to the Sweet 16 and lost to the eventual champions, the Duke Blue Devils.  (By the way, I’m not that mad as the Dukies helped pay the mortgage.)  Next season, the Boilers return their top three scorers and a core of sophomores and juniors who should help continue the excellence of Boilermaker basketball.  I’m also excited about a couple of incoming freshman looking to make an impact.  Mostly, I’m looking forward to Terone Johnson, who should be able to come in and offer a true point guard for the years to come.

3)  I’d like to take a moment and offer my condolences to the Wooden family.  As many of you may have heard, legendary coach John Wooden passed away last week at the age of 99.  Wooden lead his UCLA Bruins to an incredible, amazing, astounding, etc., etc., etc. (insert own adjective) 10 National Titles.  For all that he’s done for UCLA and college basketball, one must remember that he lead the Boilermakers to their first and only National Championship in 1932.  If you have some spare time, I would recommend any of his books as a good read.  I’ve read his book on leadership and it’s not bad.  Rest in peace Mr. Wooden.

4)  As long as we’re on the subject of college sports, I’d like to take a moment and welcome the Cornhuskers of the University of Nebraska to the Big Ten.  I’m sure there will be more movement in the college landscape, but since I do not have ESP, I’ll just talk about the moves that have happened.  The Big Ten now has 12 teams, the PAC-10 now has 11 teams (thanks to the Colorado Buffaloes) and the Big 12 has 10.  I’m no genius, but someone is going to have to change their name.  The Boise State Broncos have also joined the Big Three of the Mountain West Conference (TCU, Utah and BYU).  This is a subject that we could argue, debate and speculate for days on end, but when money and new television deals are the main source, why should we?  At the end of the day, however things shake out, we’ll still go watch college football and many of us will still bitch about the BCS ranking system.  How many people are still talking about the last conference realignments (ACC, Big East and Conference USA ring a bell)?  The only thing I know for sure is that the University of Texas Longhorns is the most highly sought after collegiate commodity right now.  They have been rumored to be possibly join the PAC-10, Big Ten and SEC.  They could also save the Big 12 and stay put, but where’s the fun in that.  The only thing I know is that they seem to hold the key to where everyone else goes.

And while I have the podium, why can’t Notre Dame get their red-headed catholic heads out of their leprechaun-sized asses.  If money were the real reason, how much more do they think they can get from NBC than with the Big Ten Network?

5)  Now for some baseball talk.  This past week, Major League Baseball held their annual Rule IV Amateur Draft.  While it’s not the event and spectacle of the NFL or even the NBA draft, it has picked up some national attention thanks in large part to ESPN and MLB Network, as well as publications like Baseball America.  When the NFL and NBA drafts come around, most fans are speculating who their team will take first with their first pick.  Until recently, no one could even guess who would even be drafted.  And unlike the other two sports, prospects drafted were not usually heard of until they were ready for the big leagues.  Now, even the casual fan has at least heard of some of the potential first round picks.  With more and more coverage of college baseball (which the road to the College World Series is underway), teams are picking big name prospects who are closer to becoming major league ready than before.  The Washington Nationals had the first overall pick (their second in a row) and took 17 year old catcher/outfielder Bryce Harper.  They hope when he is ready, he will have the same impact that last year’s number one pick, Stephen Strasburg.  In his MLB debut, Strasburg got the win and went 7 innings with 14 K’s and no walks while yielding 2 runs.  He also helped the Nationals sellout a Tuesday game against the Pittsburgh Pirates with 40,315 tickets sold.  What the future holds for these newly drafted prospects, we will just have to wait and see.  A quick FYI, the highest drafted player in the Hall of Fame is Mr. October, Reggie Jackson, who was drafted 2nd overall.  That’s sure to change with players like Ken Griffey, Jr. (who recently announced his retirement), Chipper Jones and Alex Rodriguez.  Here an interesting read from the New York Daily news looking at the some of the better picks in the 30 respective slots since 1965.  Another interesting note, the 1973 draft had back to back Hall of Famers picked third and fourth overall.  Can you name them?  (Here’s a hint, the Brewers and Padres had the picks respectively.)

6)  I think the NBA is not for me, but I do appreciate Captain Buchanan’s passion for the game.  I just have had a hard time following it and keeping up with all the salary cap rules.  Maybe the Captain can post something in depth about the draft, so uneducated schmucks like myself can be ready when the first pick is made June 24th.  I just do not want to insult anyone with my lack of knowledge of the sport.

7)  Congratulations to the Chicago Blackhawks on winning Lord Stanley’s Cup.  Another sport I don’t get but do enjoy watching on television.  I really respect these guys and the way they seem to glide around the ice and make it look easy.  Kudos NHLers, kudos.

Here is a quick list of sports that I respect and do not talk shit about because I can’t play them:
a)  Golf – so I can swing a club, but try hitting a little white dimpled ball 190 yards and having it land 3 feet from the hole.
b)  Tennis – try playing with someone who is good (at least collegiate good), not much fun.
c)  Hockey – I know I mentioned it already, but still, I can barely walk on solid ground let alone on ice with ¼ inch blades.
d)  Lacrosse
e)  Water Polo
Honorable mention)  Soccer – I know it’s World Cup time and a lot of folks are saying “Who cares?”  But try running back and forth on the pitch for 90 minutes and then kick a ball past a goalie to win the match.  I don’t think I’d be able to feel my legs.

And this brings me to another point.  I really don’t like, borderline hate, it when someone says that a professional athlete sucks or that they would do better.  If you could, you would be out there.  So shut up and just cheer on your team.

8)  So I enjoy my television watching almost as much as the Coach.  I do enjoy most of the same shows that he watches.  The Monday lineup on CBS and the Thursday lineup of NBC are some of the better comedies during the fall and spring.  During the summer, I enjoy watching some of cables best in the USA Network and TNT.  Burn Notice (USA) and Leverage (TNT) are two of my favorite shows during this time.  What’s not to like about a burned spy who helps people in need around Miami as well as several montages of females enjoying the beach.  Or how about a band of crooks who help out others who have been wronged?  Leverage is much like a modern day Robin Hood.  Some other shows on USA that you should check out are Royal Pains and White Collar.  Of course the shows I can’t wait to start this summer are the returns of HBO’s Entourage and East Bound and Down.  I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for Vince and his crew to entertain and to get some more Ari Gold quotes to repeat over and over.  HBO also has a new show coming in September called Boardwalk Empire.  Two huge forces have combined to bring us hopefully HBO’s best new series.  Terence Winter (Emmy Award winning writer from The Sopranos) and Martin Scorsese (Academy Award winning director from The Departed) bring us a story from Atlantic City in the 1920s.  You can find more about the show here.

9)  Now that it is officially summer, I’d like to take some more trips than usual.  I don’t travel as much as the Coach does, but I get a few trips in a year.  Normally I take a trip back up to West Lafayette and tailgate with some of my college buddies.  I also usually take my birthday trip to the greatest city on Earth, but I’ll talk about that later.  Every year, I tell myself that I should plan to visit a new ballpark but never seem to do anything about it.  I get even more frustrated when folks like the Coach, the Thorntons and others visit a new city and take in a game and I have to hear all about how great the stadium is.  I have no one to blame but myself.  One of these days, I will be proactive about it and save up to begin my quest to visit all 30 MLB ballparks and any new ones to come.  I did visit another minor league park this weekend when Coach, Mr. Dan Fisher and I visited Lake Olmstead Stadium, the home of the Augusta Green Jackets, the low-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants.  I kept score through the whole game, something I haven’t done in about 10 years, and I was quite proud of myself.  I’m looking for more trips for this year, so if you have any suggestions, let me know.  I do have at least 2 trips scheduled: 1) Cleveland for a wedding in August, 2) a northeast adventure with Coach in early December.  Maybe I can fit in my birthday trip my favorite city?  If you’ve ever thought of going to Las Vegas, I can be talked into going.  By the way, my birthday is the day after Coach Johnson’s.

10) So, at the beginning of the month, I made my visit to Vegas a little earlier than normal.  My friend Pat, whose wedding I’m going to in August, had his bachelor party in Sin City.  Why not?  Everyone was scheduled to be out there from Friday to Saturday, but I decided to head out immediately after our day game on Wednesday.  I stayed at Hooters Casino for $20 a night for Wednesday and Thursday nights and that might have been too much for the room.  I ran into some interesting characters while there, maybe a little too “interesting” for the 10 Things.  In 36 hours prior to everyone showing up, I might have been away from the gaming tables for about 7 of them.  For Friday and Saturday nights, we stayed in a classier place at New York New York.  Now I’ve done my fair share of gambling there, but have never stayed there before.  The room was actually really nice, maybe a little too nice, since my luggage saw more of the room than the four of us combined.  Before I left for my trip, Coach sent me something that he thought I would enjoy for my trip.  It was the Total Rewards Buffet of Buffets deal.  Basically, I spent about $38 on a buffet and had 24 hour period to hit up that same buffet or any of the 6 others in the family of casinos.  I was able to get 3 meals in from Thursday afternoon to Friday afternoon, so not a bad deal in the long run.  It was a much better deal than the buffet we ate on Friday night at Bellagio for $40 a person.  I normally don’t put too much investment in my food choices when visiting Las Vegas as food is not the first thing on my mind (I know, I’m shocked too!).  But if you get a chance to visit Mesa by Bobby Flay at Caesar’s Palace, I would highly recommend it.  It’s not cheap, but other than McDonald’s what else is, but it was definitely worth it.  Another thing I normally don’t do when I go to Vegas is to catch a show.  Let’s be real, the only thing I go to Vegas for is the gaming and entertaining people watching.  So we went to go see Frank Caliendo at Monte Carlo on Friday night.  Somehow we went from $70 seats in the last three rows to $50 seats in the second row from the front.  I think the manager on duty of the ticket office got sick of us and mainly my new buddy Greg and all of his badgering to give us those seats so that we would go away.  I ended the weekend by getting up at 7AM Pacific after a 3 hour nap and not going to bed until about 11PM Eastern, so needless to say a long day.  Here’s a tip for those planning a trip, don’t gamble when you’re sleep deprived.  Another tip, if you’re not much of a gambler, I do recommend visiting all the casinos and checking out each one’s version of their “Party Pit”.  It seems to be the new craze in Vegas, but a lot of the casinos are doing it.  Here are some pictures of said areas:

So if anyone wants to go, I’m ready to go and get my money back.

I wanted to thank Coach Johnson again for letting me share my thoughts with you.  Let’s take it home with some more Kansas.

Okay, maybe one more for the Coach.  128 million fans can’t be wrong.

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