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Monthly Archives: March 2011

Nostalgia

It is a very bittersweet time for me. At around this time of year, for the last three years, I have been looking forward to a care-free summer of drum corps. While on tour, I didn’t have to worry about work, problems, or anything else.

During that time, it was just me, my drum, and doing the best job I could. Relaxing wasn’t an option. All day, you were striving to do the best you can, and put on that perfect show.No matter the temperature, humidity, or precipitation, we were out there on that field.

Last summer, while it was the best summer, was the worst summer.

This past summer, I “aged-out.”

In Drum Corps International, you can only march until your 21 years-old. In the winter of 2010, I turned the big 2-1, meaning that it was going to be my last summer. I was in a state of denial. through the season, During the Age-Out Ceremony, the night before finals, the fact, ‘Hey, I won’t be marching again…’, finally hit me like a sack of bricks.

After the season, I regressed back into that state of denial. As the season grew closer, I itched more and more for the opportunity to run around a field all summer.

But that is not the case.

Instead, I am left with the memories of sunscreen, sweat, and the horrible ‘6-to-5 stop-sign drill’ that was introduced to the drum line during the lovely Pennsylvania summer (Note the sarcasm). As much as we were pushed, as much as we had to push the ground, and all the ‘Captain Crunch’ I had to do, I miss it.

Over the last couple of week, I have been feeling very nostalgic. I have been really missing the drum corps activity. I read all the statuses of my friends, and wish I could be with them. Instead, I just have the mp3’s on my iPod, and the YouTube clips to occupy my time, and feed my drum corps appetite.

Even though I am done, I still apply the life skills I learned in drum corps to my every day life. Pushing yourself, doing everything to the ‘max,’ and perfection, are all stuff that I apply to everything I do. In my writing, videos, and everything else, I do it “the drum corps way.” That is the only way I know how now. That is all I have known the past three summers. Why change it?

To all of my instructors: I thank you, for everything you have taught me. All of those values that you have instilled in me, how hard you pushed me, and the laughs on the way.

To all of my friends: Thank you. For all the ups and down, you were always there. A special thanks to all of you in the drum line. We always had that special bond, which I will never forget. Over the last three seasons, I have met a lot of people. Those are people I am going to remember for the rest of my life.

To everyone reading this: Just do it. Try everything. It doesn’t hurt to try, Do everything to the max. And finally, don’t take anything for granted. Because as the old-addage goes, “every good thing has to end.”

 

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Posted by on March 31, 2011 in Random Thoughts

 

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It’s Baseball Time Once Again

The lawn mowers are being dusted off, the sprinkler systems are coming on, and baseball is back in full-swing. Even in the Northeast, where the weather has been more up-and-down more than a rollercoaster, the baseball season kicks-off in the Bronx this Thursday at 1:05 p.m. EST.

With spring training in the rear-view mirror, we will get a first glance at all of the teams at full strength, and how much the offseason arrivals and departures that will help, or hurt, teams.

After free-agency settled down, the Philadelphia Phillies and the Boston Red Sox appeared to be the real winners this offseason.

The Phillies were able to land the biggest free-agent, in Cliff Lee. Lee turned down a more lucrative offer from the New York Yankees, and signed in Philly, where he last pitched in 2009. He joins the starting rotation that already had Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, Roy Oswalt, and Joe Blanton. With that pitching, and their always solid offense centered around Ryan Howard, the Phillies are, on paper, the favorites to represent the National League in the World Series.

The Boston Red Sox went the opposite route of the Phillies. They focused on their offense in the offseason. In a matter of days, they were able to sign Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford. Crawford was a cornerstone of the Tampa Bay Rays in years prior, having both power and speed on the base paths. Gonzalez, who is coming off of shoulder surgery, adds even more power. And with their always strong rotation, and improved offense, the Sox look like the class of the American League, and are looking at a World Series run.

These are just predictions. Sure, they are the favorites on paper, but that doesn’t mean you are a World Series lock. Take a look at the Yankees three years ago (Sorry, had to get that jab in).

There are other teams looking to make a run. The San Francisco Giants, last year’s champs, were quiet this offseason, keeping their team intact. The Yankees always have a powerful team, and, will once again, fight with the Sox for the top spot in the AL East. The Colorado Rockies is my sleeper team this season. They have been building a solid team with a lot of talent, but not a lot of stars. They are looking to knock off the Giants in the NL West.

Now, on to my predictions.

In the World Series, I have the Philadelphia Phillies beating the Red Sox in six-games. Now, this kills me to say this, because I am a Red Sox fan, but I think the Phillies pitching will prevail over Boston’s pitching, and the Phillies offense is just slightly better. It will be a heavyweight fight, with the Phillies giving to knockout in Game 6.

Enjoy the season, and hope that the start of baseball brings spring weather along with it.

Agree? Disagree? Want your voice to be heard? Leave a comment below, or e-mail me at: jeff.langan.jr@gmail.com with your thoughts, suggestions of topics, or just want to talk sports. Follow me on Twitter @jefflangan, or subscribe to this blog.

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Posted by on March 29, 2011 in Campus Lantern Articles, MLB

 

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My Guilty Indulgence

The two months between the end of the football season and the beginning are baseball season have usually been a ‘sports black-hole’ for me. Sure, there March Madness, but only for the last half of March.

A couple years ago, my uncle introduced me to a different sport; one that wasn’t part of the four major sports in the country. One sport that starts the weekend after the Super Bowl, and goes until Thanksgiving.

And that sport, was NASCAR.

I started following the sport in 2004, with the switch to the new ‘Race for the Cup’ playoff format, adding excitement to the season. I have been a Jimmie Johnson fan since then, and have been loving the fact he has won the last five championships.

When I first started out watching it, I didn’t appreciate the little nuances that made the sport what it was. I just enjoyed seeing the cars navigate around the track, wishing I could go 200 miles-per-hour around a track.

But as I go older, I started to notice the little details that made the sport so interesting.

NASCAR is a sport of measurements. Each car has to be a specific size, given a plus/minus of thousandths of an inch.

Take a moment to think about that.

A couple thousandths of an inch.

The width of you hair can decide whether a car is too big or small. If your original measurement of the car is off, and the NASCAR officials see this, your car is deemed illegal, and you can’t race until it is fixed. Crew chiefs and drivers are in a constant state of war with the NASCAR officials, pushing the envelope of what is legal. When all the cars are the same, the parity in the sport is there, and you are always looking for that one edge you can get on the rest of the field.

Another exciting part of NASCAR is the exciting finishes. This past weekend, we saw Kevin Harvick make a last-turn pass of Jimmie Johnson to take the lead, and win.

And that wasn’t even the closest finish in NASCAR history.

In 2003, Ricky Craven edged out Kurt Busch by .002 seconds to win the Carolina Dodge Dealers 400. The photo-finish of the race is below:

(Photo Courtesy of http://rcfca.com/2009/12/31/rickys-darlington-win-in-2003-race-of-the-decade/)

Do you see how close that is? Doesn’t that excite you? These drivers race for 400 miles, but it all comes down the last lap, the last turn, or even the last front-stretch. These finishes are few and far between, but when they happen, you realize that you have just seen something special.

So next time you are flipping through the channels, and stumble upon a race, stop and take a watch. Once you get past the constant lap-after-lap racing, and think about what it takes to drive a race car, how you build a car to exact specifications, and how exciting it is, you will get hooked.

I never thought I would be a NASCAR fan. But now, that’s where I will be on Sundays. On the couch, cheering on my driver.

Agree? Disagree? Want your voice to be heard? Leave a comment below, or e-mail me at: jeff.langan.jr@gmail.com with your thoughts, suggestions of topics, or just want to talk sports. Follow me on Twitter @jefflangan, or subscribe to this blog.

I would love to hear your feedback.

 

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2011 in NASCAR

 

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Quick Hits

So, it has been a while since I have written here. With having three midterms and a project due the two days before break, and not having internet on Spring Break, it has been hard to find time to write. And boy, has there been a lot of stuff going on in the sports-world that I have wanted to write about.

Instead writing a bunch of full blogs, which would take a day and a half, I figure I would just write about a bunch of short blurbs.

1. There have been two rule-changed in the NFL that will take place this season (hopefully). One change was they would review all scoring plays, taking the stress off of NFL coaches. This is one that was overdue. As a head coach, you have worry about players, plays, a wide variety of other things. They are 30 yards away from scoring plays, having to rely on the big screens and other assistant coaches to tell him to challenge it. With this, it will take more stress off the head coach, and automatically replay every questionable scoring play.

The other rule passed was they moved the kickoff spot forward five-yards, to the 35-yard line. Kick off specialists Devin Hester and Joshua Cribbs have both publically lashed out against the new rule. They have a point. It will severely dimish their skilled position as a kick returner (although both play crucial parts in their teams offenses). But, if you think about it, strategy can come into play. You might be able to catch some teams off-guard who are expecting a touchback.

1a. The NFLPA wants the rookies to boycott the draft. They don’t want the draft class to show up to Radio City Music Hall, not to walk across the stage infront of the entire country, not to hug Roger Goodall and receive the ceremonial jersey, and to not take pictures that will last a lifetime.

Really?

As a kid, you dream about that. Hoping one day you can strut across that stage. It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and the NFLA want them to miss it. How selfish.

And P.S.- it is the same NFLPA who wants to implement a rookie pay scale. Which means the rookies, who they are asking to boycott, will lose out on millions.

[Insert witty comment here]

1b. Still no word on the labor front. April 6th seems to be the day. Keep your fingers crossed.

2. March Madness! Like everyone else in the country, my bracket was done after the third-round, with both Pittsburgh and Notre Dame losing early. This has been the most exciting tournament in a while. There have been buzzer-beaters, multiple Cinderellas, and controversial endings. All play into an exciting four days of college basketball.

3. But, there is a downside to the tournament. The length. In the first four days, 48 games were played. Then, there was a three-day break, then eight games in two days, and so on and so-forth. It slows down. The pace of the tournament screeches to a halt after the third round, and limps to the finish. Yes, I understand the kids do have school. But between rounds, they don’t go back to school. They hang around the beach, and relax. March Madness could add more excitement by shortening the tournament (It is called March Madness, but ends in April; does anyone else see the problem?)

4. The big thing in the NBA still focuses around the Carmelo Anthony trade, but not the focus the Knicks wanted. They are under .500 since getting ‘Melo, while the Nuggets are 11-4 since they traded away ‘Melo and Billups, getting most of the Knicks. The Knicks have also fallen two spots in the playoff standings, and are looking at a first-round matchup against the Celtics.

Guess the Knicks were better BEFORE they got ‘Melo. Walsh and D’Antoni got this one wrong (so far).

Interesting.

5. Alex Ovechkin is out 7-10 games. He doesn’t elaborate on the injury. The Capitals are saying he ‘needs the rest for a playoff push.’ They have clinched a playoff spot, and look to have one of the top-two seeds in the Eastern Conference. If I was on the Capitals, and a player was ‘resting’ 7-10 games, while I was busting-my-butt on the ice every night, I would not be a happy skater.

6. Kyle Busch won the Jeff Byrd 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway last Sunday. He swept both the Nationwide Series and Sprint Cup Series races. Week after week, he is the ‘man-to-beat,’ always a favorite to win the race. Jimmie Johnson, on the other hand, never expects to win, but always flies under the radar into the Top-five by the end of the race. JJ is one of the most under-rated drivers in NASCAR. Yet, Jimmie has won five straight series championships, Kyle was won none. Doesn’t sound right.

7. One week until Opening Day. So excited to see Boston’s revamped lineup and rotation. They look good so far. But spring games don’t count towards a World Series. If everyone stays healthy, the Red Sox look like the favorite to win the American League.

A lot has happened in the sports world, with a lot more left to come.

Agree? Disagree? Want your voice to be heard? Leave a comment below, or e-mail me at: jeff.langan.jr@gmail.com with your thoughts, suggestions of topics, or just want to talk sports. Follow me on Twitter @jefflangan, or subscribe to this blog.

I would love to hear your feedback.

 

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2011 in College Sports, MLB, NASCAR, NBA, NFL, NHL

 

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Best Time of the Year for College Basketball

It’s finally March. The snow is melting (except in Connecticut, where there were some flurries), the mercury is rising, and March Madness is in full swing.

This past week, we, as fans, were treated to an exciting week of conference championship tournaments. And boy, wasn’t it exciting. You upsets, buzzer beaters, and exciting finishes that made you jump out of your chair and scream.

Considering I am 10 minutes down the road from UConn, naturally, I was rooting for the UConn Huskies. There run through the Big East Tournament, the toughest conference in college basketball, was exhilerating. Kemba Walker, who had be quiet towards the end the season, expoded during the tournament. His buzzer beater against Pittsburgh, the number one seed in the conference, as well as big shots agaisnt Syracuse, and Louisville, were outstanding.

But on Sunday, the slate was whiped clean. The selection committee picked the field of 68 teams to compete in the NCAA Tournament. As usual, there were some suprises, and some snubs. The most notable snubs were Colorado and Virginia Tech, both who had strong runs in their conference tournaments, but struggled at times throughout the season.

Even beyond the controversy, I filled out my bracket.

Was it hard to pick the winners? Of course.

The parity in college basketball this year has been the best in years. There has not been that one team that dominates throughout the season. Every team, of every seed, has a chance to win the tournament.

My Final Four consists of:

  • Ohio State out of the East
  • Duke out of the West
  • Notre Dame out of the Southwest
  • Pittsburgh out of the Southeast

Ohio State has impressed me throughout the season, and Sullinger seems unstoppable. Duke impressed me in their ACC tournament, making quick work of UNC. Notre Dame has been underrated in the Big East, quietly sneaking up the rankings. And Pittsburgh is going to come out hungry, after their devestating loss to UConn in the Big East.

In the finals, I think it will be Ohio State vs. Notre Dame, with Ohio State pulling out the victory 79-74.

Who do you have?

Agree? Disagree? Want your voice to be heard? Leave a comment below, or e-mail me at: jeff.langan.jr@gmail.com with your thoughts, suggestions of topics, or just want to talk sports. Follow me on Twitter @jefflangan, or subscribe to this blog.

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Posted by on March 14, 2011 in College Sports

 

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Sad Day for an NFL Fan

So a lot has happened since the last time I wrote. When I last posted, there was still a slim-chance that a new Collective Bargaining Argeement iwould be negotiates, and football would go on unphased.

But, as you all know, that was not the turnout.

On Friday, March March 11th, 2011, at 4:55 p.m., I got the ESPN Alert that the NFL Players Association was decertifying, meaning that they were no longer representing the players, and now the players could file anti-trust lawsuits against the NFL.

But of course, I still hung on to that last thread, hoping that this bold move would force the owners to settle.

Instead, on that same day, at 9:36 p.m., I got another ESPN Alert reporting the NFL planned to announce a lockout, starting at midnight.

At that point, I knew it was going to be a long couple of months (as a football fan).

One of the big reasons the owners and the NFLPA couldn’t agree to terms was a trust issue. The NFL wanted to turn over a lot of financial records from the past couple of years, more than what they usualyl give the the owners of the 32 teams. The NFLPA wanted more paperwork, and felt that the NFL wasn’t fully transparent with all the financials of the league.

With today being the first business day since the lockout was implimented, court dates are starting to be released, and new information is starting to come out from both sides. As ESPN is reporting, the courts will hear the players lockout injunction against the NFL next month, April 6th.

The players are hoping that the courts grant the injunction, and the players can go back to work, under the rules of last year. If that is the case, the NFL will play the 2011 season under the same rules as last year. There will be no salary cap, and it will restrict where players can go, classifying only certain players who have played more than six years could be classified as unrestricted free agents.

The NFL is also taking the NFLPA to court, saying that the decertification is illegal, and that the Players Association is still helping the players, just not formally. The NFL is also looking to overturn the ruling of Judge David Doty’s, and get the $4 billion in television broadcasting money that the owners have been trying to get, in the case of a lockout.

Adam Schefter is also reporting that NFL players are trying to convince college athletes to boycott the draft, and not attend. The NFLPA is planning different way to expose college draft picks, and give them the attention they deserve.

So as you can see, things are getting pretty messy in the NFL. There is a lot of finger-pointing, ‘he said this and that,’ and no trust on either side. With all these lawsuits, it may look like this might not get resolved for a while, and fans might be missing out on some football. But I have trust that this will get done, and football, the most popular sport in America, will continue on, and move past this lockout to have another successful, and exciting, NFL season.

Agree? Disagree? Want your voice to be heard? Leave a comment below, or e-mail me at: jeff.langan.jr@gmail.com with your thoughts, suggestions of topics, or just want to talk sports. Follow me on Twitter @jefflangan, or subscribe to this blog.

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Posted by on March 14, 2011 in NFL

 

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Glimmer of Hope in the NFL

Football fans, you can breathe a sigh of relief.

With the clock running out on negotiating a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the National Football League owners and the NFL Players Association agreed to two extensions to the CBA. First, the two sides agreed to a 24 hour extension, meaning the two sides had 24 extra hours to negotiate. On Friday, with the business day winding down,  they agreed to another extension, this time, an extra week, meaning that the old CBA now expires on Friday, March 11th, at 11:59 p.m.

Now, you may ask why they agreed to an extension.

Both sides want to get an agreement done. They last thing they want is for the old CBA to expire. If the Players Association feels like a deal won’t get done, they will decertify, meaning that the players can sue the NFL in an anti-trust lawsuit. On the flip side, if the CBA expires, the owners can lockout the players, meaning that the players wouldn’t be able communicate with management, workout at the teams and facilities, and not get health insurance.

It is a lose-lose situation of all sides. And that is what they want to avoid.

If the CBA expires, teams won’t be able to trade players, sign free-agents, and start practice for the upcoming season. And, if these negotiations go to court, it could be a while until fans see football played on the field, with the possibility of missing games.

If the NFL doesn’t have a season, the owners won’t get money from concessions and ticket prices, and players won’t get their game checks. Everyone will suffer.

That is why it is really promising that they extended the deadline of the old CBA. This shows that both sides are getting closer. Over the last couple weeks, both sides have been in Washington D.C., with federal mediators directing the negotiations. Sure, they are still far apart on the important issues, like the split of the revenue, an 18-game season, and a rookie wage scale. But with the federal mediators, it has appeared that both sides are getting closer, or are confident that both sides are working for an agreement.

As fans, these extensions mean more of a wait. But in the grand-scheme of things, these extensions give us a glimmer of hope that they will negotiate a new CBA, and we see football on the field this season.

Let’s hope that there is good news at the end of this week.

Agree? Disagree? Want your voice to be heard? Leave a comment below, or e-mail me at: jeff.langan.jr@gmail.com with your thoughts, suggestions of topics, or just want to talk sports. Follow me on Twitter @jefflangan, or subscribe to this blog.

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Posted by on March 6, 2011 in Campus Lantern Articles, NFL

 

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