Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A1GP Finds a "Solution" ?

For those who may not remember; A1GP lost its Mexico City round of their current season to a scheduling conflict with a Radiohead concert (seriously we couldn't make that up) and has been desperately searching for a new date and track.

In the past we've noted that A1GP seemed silly as it was for leaving the great and popular Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez that they had already raced at, and had good support for.

The good news: they finally were able to secure a replacement for the lost race as a new season finale for the 2008-09 season & are returning to Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez; the very odd news (especially considering this race is in North America) is that they've gone with May 24th. Yes, also known as the day of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

Now I understand that Formula One & NASCAR already race on the same day as the Indy 500. The thing is, those 2 series already have very large established fan-bases; AND generally don't conflict; the 3 races run at 3 different times and all can support themselves even if they did conflict.

But will anyone really notice a 4th event from a much smaller niche series? Will it even be able to get TV time when Formula One is already running? Will anyone in North America even notice it or remember that it's happening?

I'm not so sure it is a smart decision for A1GP; which I feel should already be done by the end of March anyway; seeing as its setup as a extracurricular World Cup series. On top of that, lets consider that the race will be in North America and that A1GP does in fact share more than just a date with the IndyCar Series.

Clearly Marco Andretti won't be driving for Team USA & Robert Doornbos won't be driving for Netherlands as he normally would have been slated to do; so A1GP will be losing a very big name in Andretti and a race contender in Doornbos.

Also, what does this do for the resources of Andretti Green Racing who run Team U.S.A. & run 4 (sometimes 5) cars at Indy? Supporting a ALMS team that races the week prior to Indy is one thing; supporting a team running in another series at the same time is another...

I don't doubt that the races/series don't generally conflict; but it sure isn't a smart move by A1GP if they are looking for growth.

Pictures via a1gp.com

Monday, March 30, 2009

Boy this economy... wait is that 28 cars in the Indy Lights Series!?

While we were originally waiting on the official entry lists that aren't out yet for the IndyCar or Indy Lights opening weekend; we've gotten great word from both Bryan Herta Autosport & Davey Hamilton (on the Trackside radio show) that there will be 28 cars at St. Petersburg for the Indy Lights Series!

UPDATE: The official entry list is out & confirms 28.

Yes 28! And yes St. Petersburg! Sure you could understand a big jump if this were the Freedom 100; but man, we're talking about the same series that once struggled to field a whole 12 cars in competition just 6 years ago.

In the past day we've just learned that Wade Cunningham will be back meaning that Sam Schmidt will be fielding 4 cars; past champ Jay Howard is in there, past championship team Panther Racing is fielding 2; some popular upstarts Charlie Kimball, Jonathan Summerton, J.R. Hildebrand; new owners Hamilton & Herta, and all of these drivers are coming from just about every racing background & nationality you can get.

Not to mention with a bigger pool of sponsors, thats likely to be 28 pretty sweet looking paint schemes!

These guys and gals will be getting a much deserved hour worth of coverage on VERSUS; but for those of you like me who can't wait for those rebroadcasts; don't miss the indycar.com live broadcasts.

And for those interested in hearding the brit-pop-girl Pippa Mann talk about her road to the Lights Series (and how some still feel a female still can't make it up the ranks in Europe) take in this great interview.

So back in September we reported on how excited we were to have a new great activated sponsor for IndyCar in that of IZOD; and even more so excited that for some new good looking IndyCar apparel; I mean something not resembling WWE would be nice but to actually have designer apparel was more than enough.

As you can see more in depth over at MyNameisIRL, including a video of an upcoming 30 second spot, IZOD isn;t kidding about their activation. Now some might be critical that IZOD doesn't want to sponsor a car, but I am on IZOD's side here; this is much more what the league needs than just another car sponsor. IZOD's entire focus is away from typical race fans, and that means new faces will be discovering the series and wearing the logo who might not normally be doing it. I can't even tell you how excited Mrs. Wedge is that there will exist "good looking options for females".

In addition to IZOD's activation, we finally get further word and confirmation that the Hot Wheels partnership rumored last fall has been signed, planned and will be moving forward starting next week. Hot Wheels will be rolling out "matchbox" cars, remote control cars, chipped audio cars, and my personal favorite, slot racers.

This, much like IZOD, is MUCH needed marketing and exposure to an otherwise untouched (by IndyCar) market. Its good to know that my friends and nephews may start seeing IndyCar in public without my assistance.

Talk of pace car art/sponsorship may be in the future as well. I also find it interesting that Wal-Mart is one of the guaranteed wholesalers of replica IndyCars with Target on their side... You can also add Orbitz to the list of official sponsors of the series alongside Coca-Cola, DB Schenker & National Guard!

Economy, what economy?

St. Pete is only a few days away folks, we know many out there are going to do season previews and such; and we'll be doing one too but of a different sort; we're going to be looking at the cars' themselves; what can we expect to 'see'?

Friday, March 27, 2009

What do Helio Castroneves and Kyle Busch have in common?

A Special Report by Mrs. Wedge.

They were both beat by D.C. radio personality "Flounder" in a rush hour race around the city beltway.

Three years ago, Helio Castroneves raced and lost to Flounder in the first "Smell My Face Beltway Race". A 64 mile race around the D.C. beltway during rush hour traffic, presented by Elliot in the Morning on DC 101.

This year it was Kyle's turn. On March 26th, Kyle Busch raced Flounder in the "Smell My Face Beltway Race 2". Kyle was driving a yellow Toyota FJ with DC101's Roche commentating as a ride-along passenger, and Flounder driving a red FJ with radio DC101's Hennessey as his passenger.

The race began at the DC 101 station in Rockville, MD around 8:30 am and "went green" starting at Rockville Pike & I-270 to access the I-495 beltway, doing a lap around the beltway, and back to the station. This provided almost 2 hours of rush hour racing entertainment, and sure made my commute much more enjoyable.

As for the rules of the race, Kyle was informed that the collision clause for the rental car is "you break it you buy it", and the station agreed to pay any traffic tickets he might get.

As the race started, Flounder gained a quick lead by driving on the shoulder of the road (Kyle protesting that he was not informed that this was an option). Soon after Kyle passed Flounder and both cars ended up in the HOV lane.

The cars are going 70 mph in rush hour D.C. traffic! At one point, Roche reported from Kyle's car that they had just passed a cop going 80 and the cop just waved!

Beltway drivers kept calling in to the show to report the cars passing them, and to give details about where Kyle & Flounder were, how the traffic was, and how far apart the cars were. Keep in mind this was just a normal Thursday morning rush-hour drive and traffic they are competing in.

Somehow as they were passing I-66 in Virginia, Kyle got a police escort (no lights or sirens) and gained a 1/2 mile lead on Flounder.

The DJ in studio, Elliot, asked Roche if Kyle had made any moves that would suggest he is a professional driver? Roche simply responded "A move!! A MOVE!!! I've been white knuckled this whole time!" He reports that Kyle is constantly squeezing into spots he never thought they could fit in and that Kyle refuses to flash his brights at slower cars in front of him because he thinks it's "rude".

As they round the other side of the beltway Flounder is a good mile behind Kyle and thinks he's out of the race, but then suddenly gets a police escort of his own for a bit, which helps.

It is amusing to listen to Kyle and Roche refer to the traffic on the interstate as "lapped traffic" in a race. At one point they end up "drafting" behind a minivan & we even got Roche reporting that Kyle was driving through traffic with one had on the wheel while drinking a soda. Which gave us the priceless: "what kind of soda?". Roche responding, "a coke" and then Kyle yelling in the background, "MONSTER! I'm drinking Monster!!!... you're killing me smalls!"

Around 10:15, Kyle pulled off the beltway back onto I-270 for the final stretch to the finish line only to get pulled over by 2 state police officers, who ticket him for going 57 in a 55 (after everything he just did on the beltway, THAT is what they get him for?!?).

As the officers are talking to Kyle (they did eventually let him go with a warning), Flounder passes Kyle laying on the horn as he goes by and soon, an officer is pulling him over too. He is being pulled over for "unnecessary use of a horn", haha.

They let him off with a warning as well. However, the officer blocks traffic to let Flounder merge, and blocks Kyle in the process. Flounder pulling into the station for the win... but just barely!

In the end, Kyle was a good loser, and even signed Flounder's trophy, who is now 2 for 2.

For those interested in this event: click here for a live-blog of the events, and definitely check out the broadcast here with commercials edited out! (which I highly recommend listening).

We were not living in DC for the first beltway race with Helio, but Roche did report that Helio did not take nearly as many risks as Kyle did. It was a great race and a great broadcast. Fans lined up at overpasses to cheer on the drivers, and a guy dressed in M&Ms even showed up at the finish line.

Hopefully they won't wait another 3 years for the next Smell My Face Beltway Race

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Barber Wants IndyCar; IndyCar Wants Barber; How Can They Make Their Forbidden Love Work?

Ok... at this point it is pretty damn clear that George Barber & Barber Motorsports Park is willing to do what it takes, in the way of any track improvements, to get their beautiful natural terrain course on the IndyCar Series schedule.

It is also clear to this point that the drivers, owners, announcers & IRL officials have fallen for the beautiful facility and the fans that clearly desperately want the series to come race on their track.

Now all the drivers have also said the track needs some changes here and there to make a race happen and not be just a parade. But, the thing is; BMP seems very willing to listen to what they think and to do the things necessary. If you know any of the story of George Barber and this track; you know that he is hardly one to scoff and do things his way. Barber wants to create the "Augusta" of motorsports, and that means he is willing to do what it takes to do that including track upgrades & changes.

So assuming the track changes needed can be made; what is the final hang up? When would a race at Barber be possible in the schedule. Being very involved in my past employments in making annual event/practice/promotion schedules; I like dabbling in this.

So being from the south I can tell you that roughly most of June-August are off the books unless you want to cook all the spectators. Early September is possible but you want to avoid college football (which starts September 5th for Alabama & Auburn). So at this point you might want to eliminate the fall as at least the best option for Barber, though still totally possible.

What does that leave you with; April essentially as March is too much of a weather gamble. so looking at the current schedule and assuming the IRL wants to use that as a starting point:

We can generally come up with 4 ideas (which all depend on a couple factors for sure).

1 - Move St. Petersburg forward into March and let Barber take over the 1st weekend of April. (this is of course contingent on St. Pete's willingness).

Doable? Definitely depending on willingness, AND it would then get the IRL starting date sooner like it used to, and should be.

2 - Put Barber on the week between St. Pete and Long Beach. This could be an OK time for the race, but this assumes that the IRL doesn't want to get an oval back to the front of the schedule, it also turns the opening of the season into 4 consecutive weeks going right into Indianapolis...

Doable? sure, but in 1 & 2 both, do they really want to start with 3 straight road/street courses?

3 - Put Barber behind Kansas and as the lead-in to Indy. I honestly like this option best personally, but is it workable with days off and Indianapolis events?

Doable? This year BMP would fall on May 2nd or 3rd and then still leaves 3 weeks for Indy practice and qualifying; but not opening day on a weekend. However with opening day being only ROI, I don't see it as a huge deal, but does it conflict with Indy's Mini Marathon? Generally because Barber is a road course, it shouldn't put a huge strain on teams who would then be heading to Indy for the Month of May and it would still leave the break in the beginning of the season.

4 - Go into the fall anyway and risk competing with College football. There are plenty dates as options here; and in all honesty it could totally work; I mean it doesn't seem to affect most NASCAR weekends to conflict, and most NCAA football is just warm-up games at that point in their seasons anyway... but that's also some of the beauty of fall, they can simply have the race on Sunday to non-conflict, but practice-qualification attendance could take a hit, but would it really? Keep in mind that Barber pulled 10,000 people out for practice on a day that already had March Madness and a NASCAR race.

Personally I think Homestead or some warm weather oval needs to find its way to the opening weekend of the season; because a series built on diversity needs to flaunt that diversity as an opening act; Doing that will also move the series start forward like so many seem to want, and could move St. Pete & open the possibility for Barber to take their date there. But with Homestead's crummy history of sales in March, and with Phoenix and Fontana seemingly non-options... who would do it?

What do you think?

The "Tom Brady" Rule

The NFL has put in place yet another new rule to protect the quarterback. The change, now known as the "Brady Rule" prohibits a rushing defender from forcibly hitting the knee area or below of a passer who has one or both feet on the ground, even if the initial contact is above the knee. I'm going to need a little more clarification on this rule before I can pass full judgment. It's been stated that it is not a penalty if a player is blocked or pushed into the quarterback, but what if a downed defensemen swipes at scrambling QB's ankles as he runs by?

I understand that quarterbacks are the highest paid athletes in the NFL and are the faces of most franchises but how long will it be before they are all wearing red practice jerseys on Sundays? It wouldn't surprise me that before the owner's meetings let out, they have forced Giselle Bunchden to sign a waiver declaring that she will never EVER make wittle Tommy Boy cwy. Seriously, I wouldn't put it past Patriots owner Robert Kraft to protect his golden boy from villainous German supermodels anyway he could. This is a direct quote from the article linked above (I kid you not)...

"He looks like a stud," Kraft said. "He almost looks more broad, more filled out. He has an infectious personality that is so charismatic and contagious."

Additionally, this is the 2nd rule change caused by Tommy Boy, for what it's worth. More to come?

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Worlds of IndyCar & Rock-n-Roll Collide at VERSUS

Time and again VERSUS is showing fans of IndyCar racing that it is truly committed to being a partner for the series. So far we've gotten teaser spots for roughly 2 .5 months now; full 30 second commercials for a month; 3 of 4 one-hour specials, billboards, magazines and more. Well while this doesn't target Indy Cars alone; I have to be honest; this may be one of the best sports pieces done in a long while:

My favorite is the great line that sums up exactly why everyone, everywhere loves and watches sports:
"What the odds don't know is that this isn't a math test. This is a completely different kind of test. One where passion has a funny way of trumping logic."

So while this spot and many others are still hitting on the Comcast owned networks (I haven't seen them outside those yet, let me know if you do); We get more word about the previous spots and intent for continuing marketing/PR to be done through VERSUS via TVWeek:

"'The images are selected “to bring attention to the speed and danger, It’s a unique type of racing and a lot of great personalities.'
Versus will capture those personalities in subsequent spots that focus on drivers including Danica Patrick, Scott Dixon, Graham Rahal and Tony Kanaan.
Those spots are being made by Henry Alex Rubin, whose credits include the documentary feature 'Murderball,' about quadriplegics who play wheelchair rugby. 'We hired him to spend time with the drivers and get some insights into who they are,' Mr. Bergofin said.
Online, Versus is launching 'Indy Rock,' which will tie together racing with popular culture. Among its features are driver playlists and rock bands talking about their love of IndyCar racing."

Here's hoping we find out someone in the field is listening to Yanni & Kenny G, though in honesty I am curious to see what they listen to as all the drivers come from very diverse backgrounds.

So.... just chalk those up next to the news and video on their website and everything else they have done so far. We're all still waiting to see what qualifying & race coverage holds, but so far VERSUS is playing a great game.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

IndyCar Notes, Rumors, Pictures and Video from the Weekend

I'm going to try and just keep this to the interactive, so here's the notes from IndyCar's weekend:

-I'm not sure if all were able to catch it but I really want to give a big thumbs up to VERSUS/IMS Productions and anyone involved with this past weeks show "IndyCar: Crashes & Conflicts"

With the possibilities endless to go with making crashes seem cool, or over dramatization of Danica incidents, that piece was probably one of the best I've seen done to truly explain how tension and danger are a part of the sport. We got new interviews about fights and track incidents but more importantly talk from drivers about their crashes. Truly this was a piece done to show the viewer the danger of the sport; not to glorify crashes; and a very big thumbs up for the extensive diagrams and interviews with Kenny Brack & Davey Hamilton.

-Also on the subject of VERSUS; a huge thumbs up for their web guys. I'm sure they already planned doing it; but they did exactly as we hoped they would and turned the IndyCar page into a video, news and more page.

-Now on to the testing at Barber Motorsports Park. This first thing and biggest news to come out of the test is how clear Barber and the state of Alabama is making it that they want a race, and are willing to do what it takes to make that happen. They turned out 7000 paying attendees Saturday and 10,000 Sunday.... FOR TESTING. I mean shoot, that # dwarfs the 100 fans I saw at Sonoma on TV last season.

In addition to that, Barber is easily one of the prettiest tracks I've seen, along with most every other southern venue I've seen; they take serious pride in keeping things beautiful, scenic and clean. They don't just bulldoze and lay down the concrete; the track is surrounded by beautiful gardens, trees and trimmed bushes. The concept also reminds me of the University of Lafayette Ragin' Cajun Football Stadium, where the field (or in this case, track) is situated as a bowl, meaning fans can sit on a elevated hill and look down into the stadium/track with just their picnic blanket.

They've stated many times in the media they want a race and tried to get one for 2009; and continue to do so:

If you'd like to see pictures from the testing so far, head: here / here / and here and first here is some video of the Indy Lights Series cars; taken by digitalmaddog:

and then here is either Will Power or Ryan Briscoe making a nice pass:

-Of the cars to note at the test; I'm not sure if the cars simply haven't been painted since 2008 and have changed what kind of course they are set up for, if they are backups, or what but Mike Conway was racing the blue/yellow 'Dad's Root Beer' livery we saw on the DRR car last Chicagoland (much approved); and Justin Wilson at Coyne was driving the #18 Sonny's BBQ car; not the Z-line Designs that it mimicked in Homestead.

-Lastly, Milka Duno did not participate as a member of the Newman-Haas-Lanigan team. That is all we know for certain; nothing official has been said; which brings me to the following notes...

Rumors & the unconfirmed:

-According to just about anybody who feels like writing without sources; word on the street is that something has happened with Milka's sponsorship she was bringing along; no check has arrived and as such she may be out of their ride.

-Word from Curt Cavin and a few others is that Rubicon Race Team (previously said to have a good deal of sponsorship) is meeting Monday to decide their 2009 season. What that means no one knows; but at this point you have to imagine anything is a possibility.

--And to a final bit of interesting news. Now that the Sebring 12 Hours is over; Audi and Peugeot are out of ALMS for the rest of 2009. We knew this was coming; but what Robin Miller reported Sunday night was that Honda/Acura has no desire to compete against no one in a sports car series.

As such the word is that both the Patron Tequila/Scott Sharp Racing Team & Gil De Ferran racing teams will be coming out of ALMS and moving to the IndyCar Series. While it is of course only a rumor; I know many fans would love to see Scott Sharp and the awesome Patron Tequila party back at race tracks as well as seeing Gil De Ferran (even if just as a car owner).

What makes the De Ferran part more interesting; is that is continues the quote from Europe about Takuma Sato (former Formula One Driver) looking to come and drive in IndyCars. I would personally love to see Sato in ICS; great personality, great driver; and for anyone unfamiliar, all you need to know is not only was he a good driver in F1; but he has also driven around the Twin Ring Motegi oval before... in fact he did it in a Formula One car!

Pictures by indy500.com

Friday, March 20, 2009

Living the Madness 2: Revenge of the Unique Mascots

All of us at Furious Wedge will be bringing you some live-blogging throughout March Madness; so just bring yourself here, if you are stuck at work or looking for some updates. (For day one coverage, go here.)

12:21 - Wedge: MADNESS! We get all 3 upsets and both sets of green. That was one heck of a way to end day 2, with as much Madness as possible, a total opposite to day 1. With the end of those 3 games, ESPN went from have 10,000 perfect brackets to none. So with that I'm calling it a night. Good luck to Furious and Mrs. Furious on the new Furious baby tomorrow; thanks again to anyone who has read along with this; I'm not sure if I'll be able to live follow all the Madness and WBC this weekend, but I'll try to at least bring in some analysis, so until then my friends...

12:04 -
Wedge: Holy freaking Crap Siena is as clutch as there is with a 3 pointer as OT ends, so we head to double OT as the Badgers and Seminoles go into their own overtime in the land of Utah of Idaho. But I tell you what Cleveland state ripping Wake Forrest a new one is Madness enough; anything else is bonus from here out.

11:56 -
Wedge: Badgers finally lead and Saints going to the line for the tie and lead; Vikings of Cleveland already made this Madness, but Saints and Badgers I think would qualify this night as MADNESS!

11:51 -
Wedge: So we get our first Overtime of the tournament. Man the Saints were so close, if only he made both free throws. And over in Boise, home of teams from Utah apparently, the Badgers have once again brought themselves even with the Seminoles.

11:50 -
Furious: OK, I'm gonna go ahead and concede this one to Cleveland State. I'm going to get my stuff together for the hospital. I don't know if I'll have internet access, but if I do, I'll try to blog a little. Thanks to anyone who actually read any of this these past two days. And thanks mainly to Wedge for keeping it going while I was scrambling to get my house ready for a new baby to come tomorrow. Good night!

11:46 -
Wedge: Man, every time the announcers tell us how someone is a great free throw shooter, they seemingly miss their next 2 free throws. Lets hope this next guy for the Saints is not known for free throws.

11:35 -
Wedge: Go GREEN! Siena Saints Tie it up! This game is ridiculously close, unfortunately the winner gets Louisville who likely will be an overmatch for this kind of sloppy yet aggressive play.

11:31 -
Furious: So yeah, I think I'm about to lose another Sweet 16 team. Wake Forest just can't catch these guys.

11:30 - Wedge: Madness is the Vikings pulling back to an 11 point lead and the Saints and Badgers both pulling to 1 shot away. In all honesty, I don’t think it matters what the Evil Guys With Top Hats do because Cleveland State isn’t really missing anything or doing anything sloppy. They’re taking their time running the clock down and then still scoring at the end of the shot clock... man up by 15 now!

11:17 - Furious: Well, I did it. My final MLB preview: Oakland A's. Wake Forest cut it to 7. Madness?

10:47 -
Furious: Well, at halftime, most of the scores are back to normal. Even Wake Forest cut that huge lead down to 9. Good to see the Hornets put Memphis away.

10:31 -
Wedge: And now both the Colonials and Badgers have pulled even in their games. Lets go cool mascots! Though I don't accept Badges as Madness, as they are just another 12 over 5 that has become all too common

10:24 -
Furious: Texas Rangers... Best. Preview. Ever.

10:22 -
Furious: Yeah, I'm pretty shocked here. I thought Wake Forerst would win easily. I still think they'll win. It'll make for an exciting 2nd half.

10:16 -
Wedge: Dude this isn’t just a rally, Cleveland State is putting on a clinic against Wake Forest up 27-12. Remember when the Demon Deacons used to be the #1 team in the nation…? And our other green, Siena has turned the ball over 8 times… yet they still manage to only be 2 points behind the Buckeyes.

10:06 - Wedge: Lets go green. Seriously when’s the last time a school with a main color of green won some big titles. I know the color is generally considered bad luck in racing but what about college sports? So far our greens are Cleveland State who is up 18-6 and Siena down 10-17.

9:59 -
Wedge: Wow Vikings on a serious run up 11-4 on the Demon Deacons, including a serious rejection. I like the Demon Deacons mascot more but I’ll take Vikings; now we just need Saints and Colonials to follow.

9:56 -
Furious: No, I think you're right. I have questions about some of the seeding this year. Some of the western teams were obviously not given enough credit. We were all too busy watching the ACC and Big East this year. Remember when people were whining about Notre Dame not getting in? Man, USC and Arizona would've killed them. And remember the Seatlle Mariners? Well, here's a Mariners preview.

9:45 -
Wedge: So the Trojans and Wildcats won; but does that count as Madness? I submit that it does not, especially because Arizona is now on its 25th straight year in the tournament. Madness is if I get the Saints, Colonials or the Vikings in the new slate of games.

9:40 -
Furious: It's hilarious that it's finally sinking in to the media, and especially NC people, that LSU won the SEC and got an 8-seed. This is not a typical 1-8 match-up. The ACC and SEC tournament 1-seeds meeting up in the 2nd round. Now they're scared and it's suddenly a big deal for Lawson to play.

9:33 -
Furious: Can't believe I nailed the USC and Arizona picks. Still only have 5 losses and 15 of my 16.

9:00 -
Furious: Wish I could watch two games at once!

8:49 -
Furious: Angels preview. My two upsets are looking good!

8:35 -
Furious: Of course, I don't mean to disrespect Cleveland State and give Wake Forest a win for a game they haven't played yet.

8:31 -
Furious: Well, so far Utah just can't really play to Arizona's level. I think I'm safe with Wake Forest beating Arizona. I don't think they're THAT good, but for whatever reason, Utah is barely hanging at the moment. A couple of big shots can change that though.

8:13 -
Wedge: Yeah, So I have like 10 brackets on ESPN. Some aren’t serious so I’m not including those. Of my few serious ones I haven’t lost a sweet sixteen team yet but have about 4 wrong on average. USC and Arizona wins would hurt me pretty bad though, especially the Utah loss. It would also do some incredible damage to the collection of decent mascots remaining; I mean I’ll take Utes over Wildcats any day, for that matter I’d much prefer Musketeer and Trojan wins on that front; I’m really tired of people from the bird and cat variety.

8:04 -
Wedge: I don't know what you are talking about; clearly it is pronounced Lou-a-vullll

8:01 -
Furious: Amazing! Four good games all at once. More Head is even keeping up with Louis Ville.

7:45 -
Furious: Bracket update... not too bad so far. I have 5 losses so far, only one of my Sweet 16, none of my Elite 8. I have USC and Arizona in upsets tonight. Wedge?

7:37 -
Furious: Look at USC! A few Louisiana connections and Lil' Romeo = my kind of team. These guys are athletic. Both teams.

Wedge: Woohoo we’re back with more Eagles, Cardinals, Wildcats, Trojans and heck yes the uber unique and appropriate: Utes.

7:07 -
Furious: OK, I'm back! I finished all of my work and I'm ready to have a baby in the morning. Well, I won't have the baby. You know what I mean. Alright, I'm gonna eat some dinner, then settle in to watch some Madness and preview the AL West at some point.

5:23 -
Wedge: There it is; Day 2 gets official with Madness as the Flyers of Dayton take down the all powerful Big East in that of West Virginia. Now we break for 2 hours before we get more games which will feature Vikings, Saints, Utes, Demon Deacons and more. I’m still holding out hope we’ll get at least one more big upset. Dayton was unexpected sure, but not a total shock; we need something of shock quality here.

5:13 -
Wedge: I’m not sure why ETSU started fouling when down 6, there was plenty time left to get the 3-pointers, the fouling while the T-Rexs are making shots just fine is simply ending this game before its over. In fact the lack of free throws is really what killed ETSU they were like 5 for 25 or something crazy Memphis-like. Over in Minnesota we're seconds away from Madness with the Flyers controlling a 8 point lead over the higher seed Mountaineers.

4:55 -
Wedge: These are 2 really great games developing, both within 3 now, both with great energy. ETSU refuses to go away just when you think the Panthers are going to start pulling away.

4:40 -
Wedge: And the best mascot of the hour, Sun Devils, poached the owls in a game that Temple kept close but never really threatened in. Missouri has made it clear they’re not letting Cornell stay close anymore; ETSU is clearly playing with more energy than Pitt right now, but Pitt is doing just enough to stay ahead, but they aren’t playing much defense as the Bucs seem to be getting a million offensive rebounds and putting them back in for the points.

4:35 -
Wedge: ETSU now 5/13 on free throws but they get their rebound and a score to tie. Now imagine if they made their free throws, they’d be up by a good bit. Sorry for WVU fans, Dayton looks like they’re about to start pulling away, up by 8 now.

4:30 -
Wedge: Wow, one of the best shot blocks all tournament from the Buccaneers and turn it around into 2 points. Only down to Pitt by 2 now again. WVU trying to claw away at Dayton, they’ve at least got the deficit down to 4 now.

4:21 - Wedge: Now I’ve kind of tried to refrain from talking about it to avoid jinxing them but the ETSU Bucs are giving the Pitt Panthers (even though they have a T-rex looking dude for a mascot) all they can. ETSU has actually led by 2, and Pitt led by 6 but right now they are trading ties and Pitt leading by 2. Surely not an upset anyone expected… anywhere when it happens in fantasyland.

4:17 -
Wedge: Dayton Flyers are refusing to let West Virginia really get into a closing position to turn the game around. Its nothing dominant but like Kansas did earlier, they simply answer every score the Mountaineers bring.

4:06 -
Wedge: I think one of the Sun Devils just hurt his butt. In reality I'm sure its a back thing but he sure looked like he walked off grabbing at his rear.

3:51 -
Wedge: I've been waiting for Cornell to fall apart or Missouri to get it together and come back and ahead but it just hasn't happened yet. I'm sure this is way tighter than any Tiger fan thought this would be.

3:33 -
Furious: Look! A Rockies preview! OK, I'm going to go watch this Dayton game and do some actual "work" work. I may disappear for a little while. But I'll be back.

3:02 -
Wedge: Time for some Flyers (woohoo) & Buccaneers (meh, I guess it's at least rare in college)

2:50 - Furious: Man! I wish my name was Dionte Christmas.

2:49 -
Wedge: And now we go Sun Devils (very unique and awesome) vs. Owls (bland but slightly unique, I think only Rice also has it)

2:47 -
Furious: Diamondbacks preview here.

2:42 -
Wedge: Dang, I was really looking forward to at least getting one upset this morning. No Madness indeed. Had Utah State simply hit shots earlier in the game they may have run away with it but instead fall short by 1.

2:36 - Furious: Another SEC letdown as Tennessee loses at the end. But the BANK was open for Utah State as they bank in a 3 to cut the lead to two.

2:32 -
Wedge: Agriculturals lose their best shooter in Quale fouling out. They need him in this final minute. Especially down by 3.

2:28 -
Wedge: OSU-Tenn been tied for 2 minutes now neither can put the basket in… and just as I type that OSU finally get one in. Tennessee has 30 seconds to tie or go ahead, and they get the 2+1. Marquette getting seriously physical and helped with some non-calls by refs go back ahead by 1.

2:19 -
Wedge: And the Agriculturalists have tied it up with the Gold Avalanche containing Warriors and Eagles. AND NOW THEY LEAD BY 3!!! Here is what I love about these Aggies. Whenever they get a rebound or steal, they don’t get sloppy and try to score as quick as possible, they get back set and take their best shot, not the quickest shot, and just as I finish typing Aggies up by 6, they aren't missing shots, Marquette is in serious trouble here.

2:16 - Wedge: 2 straight sloppy turnovers by the Volunteers and they go from leading by 2 to down by 3. I’m not sure why they felt the need to attempt going so quickly twice in a row.

2:09 - Furious: This Kansas game is fun. I don't know if Woodside can do it all by himself, but again, could you imagine if he was ON Kansas? I'm always amazed by players who weren't recruited by the bigger schools and then make them look stupid on a big stage.

2:08 -
Wedge: Here’s what happens when you start making shots. In this half the Aggies have 8 rebounds, Gold have only 2. And Jayhawks fans can’t like that the Bisons won’t go away still in the 5-3 range ever few seconds. And neither Cowboy or Volunteer fans (that being people who give their time for free to cheer) that neither team can pull more than 2 points away, a really tight game all along.

2:06 - Furious: Padres preview posted. These games are all great. I don't like how inconsistent refs are with the charge call. Sometimes you can just slide in at the last second and instead of playing defense, throw yourself on the ground. Then it's like a coin toss: maybe you'll get lucky and get the charge call.

2:00 -
Wedge: So the Aggies finally got it tied, but Gold respond going back ahead with a 2+1. Gold starting to get a little nervous going back to full court press, but it’s not working, Aggies are making their shots now. The Bison are within 3 of the Jayhawks now, but can they pull even?

1:49 -
Wedge: Wow, we’ve had some serious rejuvenation since halftime. Volunteers coming back to even with the Cowboys but now down by 2, but within striking distance for sure. The Bison came back within 4 of the Jayhawks again, but still not quite within the striking distance they need. But most of all the biggest development is the one I was predicating on before; The Aggies of Utah State have come out of halftime making their shots and Marquette looks to be in some serious trouble very quickly going from up by 13 to up by 1.

1:21 - Wedge: We’re at halftime everywhere now. The Jayhawks responded nicely to the Bison taking a run of their own to get themselves back up by 9. I have to say Utah State looks like they are in control of their game, they are simply not ahead on the scoreboard; if they actually started making shots the Gold would be in some serious trouble; the Gold are only 30% from the field, the Aggies are simply shooting worse. The Orange are cruising and the Volunteers and Cowboys may need better mascots, but are playing a nice close game that we always get from a 8-9 match up the Cowboys up by 4 at half.

1:13 - Wedge: Just when I was ready to write the Bison off, the Jayhawks get a silly goal tending foul, and then the Bison follow it up with a brilliant open 3-pointer in quick transition; back within 4 now.

1:08 - Wedge: I was not aware that Utah State was located in Boise Idaho. But I guess they are according to the commentator telling us all about their local hometown crowd. I know they are close, but I mean they are at least a 5-6 hour drive; that’s not hometown. About the game though; if the Aggies would just start making their shots they’d easily be ahead in this game, they are outplaying the Gold Birds on the floor and rebounds but they just can’t seem to make any shots. The Volunteers and Cowboys are giving us the even match we thought we’d see; just as even as I feel about their so-so mascots.

1:07 -
Furious: Yes! It's going to be a great day. In addition to all of the Madness, I have a ton of work to do as I prepare for an extended hospital visit, not knowing if I will have internet access or not! I have a bunch of TV shows downloading, just in case.

I will also be live-blogging, probably more later tonight than earlier as I try to get this work done. I also have seven more MLB previews to do, which I plan to finish before I go to bed. I'll be putting those all below this live-blog post and will link them here as I ad them.

Right now I am cooking cheeseburgers!

12:57 -
Wedge: Man, N.Dakota Bisons aren’t just contending, they’re clearly hanging with the Jayhawks so far. But we’ve seen this story many times before, the important question; can they keep this up for a whole game? Aggies are starting to fall back to the Golden Warriors stuck in an Avalanche simply because they haven’t done the one thing they were known for all year.. making shots from the field.

12:50 - Wedge: Marquette may have a 6 point lead but this is easily the most contested game of the 3. The Golden Eagles that cause Avalanches are using full court pressure on the Aggies, but it is only working slightly. I believe Utah St. has one of the fewest turnovers in NCAA so not only is it not working for the Gold, this is going to wear them out eventually.

12:45 - Wedge: Neither Syracuse nor Stephen Austin are remotely close to D.C.; I’m really not sure why they keep only showing us clips of the games that are all ties and close but keep bringing us back to this 14 point beginning of a blowout. Finally they bring us back to the Bison and Jayhawks where the Bison have a 3 point lead.

12:39 - Wedge: So far only the Syracuse game seems to be getting away from us, the other 3 games are still within 3 points and being contested from both sides. but no Madness with all favorites currently leading.

12:30 - Wedge: Nothing to Madnessy so far. Syracuse is already asserting themselves on the Lumberjacks playing some hard defense and already working up an 8 point lead. Cowboy and Volunteers are even after 3 minutes, both teams look like they are just warming up.

12:14 - Wedge: Ok morning game roll call lets take a look at our match ups:

-The Orange (definitely unique, but a little odd) vs. Lumberjacks (awesomely unique and something you can generally be scare of) They both get a big thumbs up.

-Cowboys (horribly generic) vs. Volunteers (its unique, but like Syracuse, doesn't make a whole ton of sense) OSU definitely gets a huge thumbs down.

-Jayhawks (definitely unique in the bird arena) vs. Bison (not completely unique, but it fits the school and isn't entirely generic) Both get thumbs up.

-Golden Eagles vs. Aggies. I give Marquette a huge thumbs down because they used to be the Gold, Blue & Gold, Hilltoppers, Golden Avalanche in their history; and all very unique... and then changed their names to Golden Eagles, even though there is already a Golden Eagles in the University of Southern Mississippi. Utah State does not get a pass for going Aggies like all other agricultural colleges, they need to get off their butts and find something good. Avalanche would be a great and appropriate start.

12:05 - Wedge: Ok, we're about 30 minutes out of our first 4 games of day 2. My hopes for today that we either get some more upsets, or we simply get more wins from teams who had the decency and foresight to sit down and come up with a good unique mascot/moniker. I think today's best may in fact be the Lumberjacks.

2009 MLB Preview: Oakland A's

Oakland A's

IF (3.5/5) - Giambi is back and will play some 1B (with Barton) and will DH some. Ellis, Chavez, Crosby, and Suzuki are all pretty good. Chavez isn't playing yet after his surgery.

OF (3.5/5) - Getting Holiday was huge, though you know he's gone after this year. Sweeney, Cust, and Buck will all play.

SP (3/5) - Duchscherer should be ready to start the season. The rest of this rotation is young and inexperienced, but with tons of potential. Eveland had a good season. Gallagher has looked really good at times, yet can also look dreadful. Hopefully he'll put it together. Braden should get the 4th spot. There are about 5 qualified guys going for the last spot.

RP (4/5) - Impressive staff. More good, young pitchers with lots of upside. Wuertz and Springer add experience.

Wildcards: Gio Gonzales, Josh Outman, Orlando Cabrera

[Disclaimer: I do not claim to be an expert on your team. I think it's fun to do this stuff before a season starts and then see how close (or how far off) I was. If you spend time from your day insulting us, telling others to insult us, or posting in a blog or messageboard about how wrong our opinions are, then we are flattered!]

2009 MLB Preview: Texas Rangers

Texas Rangers

IF (4/5) - Frank/Chris, Ian, Elvis, Michael, Jarrod, Hank. Tuff.

OF (3.5/5) - Josh, Nelson, Marlon, David, Brandon. Sweet.

SP (2.5/5) - Kevin, Vicente, Scott, Matt, Brandon. Eh.

RP (2/5) - Frank, C.J., Eddie, Derrick, Warner, etc. Um...

Wildcards: Omar, Greg, Max

[Disclaimer: I do not claim to be an expert on your team. I think it's fun to do this stuff before a season starts and then see how close (or how far off) I was. If you spend time from your day insulting us, telling others to insult us, or posting in a blog or messageboard about how wrong our opinions are, then we are flattered!]

2009 MLB Preview: Seattle Mariners

Seattle Mariners

IF (3/5) - 1B seems to be up for grabs. LaHair may have the edge there. I like the rest of the IF, except Betancourt's OBP (.300) is a little scary. Cedeno should get some ABs. Johjima had a drop-off last year. Branyan will DH, I guess, unless they don't want Griffey in the OF.

OF (3/5) - Ichiro's numbers were a little down last year and Griffey is not what he used to be, but both are very good Major Leaguers. Gutierrez is in CF.

SP (2.5/5) - Hernandez and Bedard are a good 1-2. Washburn has had a few disappointing seasons now. Silva is pretty bad. He started 3-0 and then went 1-15 with no wins after June. Rowland-Smith, on the other hand, isn't half bad and should make the rotation.

RP (1.5/5) - Is Batista going to close? Why did they trade Putz? Lots of questions. They signed Chad Cordero, but he won't be ready right now. Corcoran and Jimenez pitched well last year.

Wildcards: Cordero, Morrow, Cedeno

[Disclaimer: I do not claim to be an expert on your team. I think it's fun to do this stuff before a season starts and then see how close (or how far off) I was. If you spend time from your day insulting us, telling others to insult us, or posting in a blog or messageboard about how wrong our opinions are, then we are flattered!]

2009 MLB Preview: Anaheim Angels

Anaheim Angels

IF (3/5) - OK, I don't know about Kendry Morales and Izturis's AVG and OBP are going in the wrong direction over the past few seasons. (Same for DH Rivera.) But Figgins and Napoli are pretty good and I'd like to see what Kendrick can do with a whole season as a full-time starter.

OF (5/5) - Wow. Abreu-Hunter-Guerrero. Plus Matthews as a back-up. Great OF.

SP (3.5/5) - Lackey, Santana, Weaver, and Saunders are such a good 1-4, when Santana is healthy. While he's out, they'll have some young guys competing for spots. Looks like Moseley and Adenhart have the edge. Escobar could be back at some point.

RP (4/5) - Pretty deep, especially at the top with Fuentes, Shields, Arredondo, and oliver. Speier's ERA was a little high. Jepsen could be pretty good.

Wildcards: Aybar, Escobar, Jepsen

[Disclaimer: I do not claim to be an expert on your team. I think it's fun to do this stuff before a season starts and then see how close (or how far off) I was. If you spend time from your day insulting us, telling others to insult us, or posting in a blog or messageboard about how wrong our opinions are, then we are flattered!]

2009 MLB Preview: Colorado Rockies

Colorado Rockies

IF (4/5) - If Helton is healthy, this is a pretty good IF. Tulowitzki's numbers were down last year, but he should bounce back. Baker has potential and Iannetta looks really good. Atkins is a good offensive 3B. Stewart and Barmes add good depth. Barmes could actually be starting at 2B after bringing his average back up last year.

OF (2.5/5) - We know Hawpe is starting. The other two starters will come from: Spilborghs, Seth Smith, Posednik, Carlos Gonzales, and Murton. You would think two people would have to emerge from that list, which is semi-impressive.

SP (2.5/5) - Cook's ERA continues to drop, which is pretty good in Colorado. Jimenez and Marquis should both have ERAs around 4.00-4.50 and about 10-13 wins, depending on run support. Francis may be out for the year and De La Rosa has not looked good at all in Spring Training. Greg Smith and Greg Reynolds are other options.

RP (2.5/5) - I'm kind of expecting Street transition to be "rocky," (ha!) not because I don't like him, but because that happens to former Oakland players sometimes. I also wonder about Embree as well. Corpas was not as effective last year. Buchholz and Grilli pitched well and Speier was OK.

Wildcards: De La Rosa, Baker, Murton

[Disclaimer: I do not claim to be an expert on your team. I think it's fun to do this stuff before a season starts and then see how close (or how far off) I was. If you spend time from your day insulting us, telling others to insult us, or posting in a blog or messageboard about how wrong our opinions are, then we are flattered!]

2009 MLB Preview: Arizona Diamondbacks

Arizona Diamondbacks

IF (3.5/5) - Pretty good IF. Jackson will start in the OF as Byrnes recovers from injury, putting Tracy at 1B and Reynolds at 3B. Lopez played great 2B for the Cardinals last year. Drew is going to be a great SS, I think, though I'd like to see him get his OBP up. Snyder gives them decent offense at catcher.

OF (3.5/5) - Upton-Young-Jackson is a pretty good OF, but a 2007-like Byrnes would make this team even better.

SP (3.5/5) - Webb and Haren are a great 1-2. Garland's ERA should drop in the NL (though so should Zito's, right?) and Davis is in the #4 slot. Scherzer pitched well last year, but didn't get a win in 7 starts.

RP (3/5) - Qualls will close and Flash Gordon and Schoeneweis were added. Pena's ERA was up last year and Rauch was not too good after joining the D-Backs. Rosales and Buckner pitched well at times.

Wildcards: Byrnes, Petit

[Disclaimer: I do not claim to be an expert on your team. I think it's fun to do this stuff before a season starts and then see how close (or how far off) I was. If you spend time from your day insulting us, telling others to insult us, or posting in a blog or messageboard about how wrong our opinions are, then we are flattered!]

2009 MLB Preview: San Diego Padres

San Diego Padres

IF (2.5/5) - There are some problems here. Gonzales and Kouzmanoff are set at the corners, but the middle is a concern. Edgar Gonzales (Adrian's brother) played some 2B last year, but it looks like they're going with Eckstein this year with Luis Rodriguez at SS. Kind of weak. Nick "I'm not related to Todd" Hundley is at catcher.

OF (2.5/5) - Giles has been steady for a while, even if his HRs have dropped. Headley has potential, but seems average so far. I can't believe they're expecting Gerut to be a healthy contributor, but he's penciled in as the lead-off hitter right now. Floyd and Hairston provides some depth, and with Gerut, they're sure to need it.

SP (2.5/5) - According to my Nationals preview, I'm currently in their rotation, which is unfortunate, because San Diego could probably use me too. After Peavy, Young, and Baek, the next two spots are still wide open. Too bad it's not 2003, cause then it'd be significant for me to add that Mark Prior is technically on this team. (I'd actually LOVE to see him pitch, even if it isn't the dominant Prior we all remember.)

RP (2/5) - The bullpen is kind of a mess too. Bell is going to close. They seem to like Meredith, but he doesn't really worry me as a fan of an opposing team. Hampson and Adams pitched well last year, but Adams is out for a while. Britton is a rejected Yankee, which is saying something.

Wildcards: Prior, Edgar Gonzales, Floyd, Antonelli

[Disclaimer: I do not claim to be an expert on your team. I think it's fun to do this stuff before a season starts and then see how close (or how far off) I was. If you spend time from your day insulting us, telling others to insult us, or posting in a blog or messageboard about how wrong our opinions are, then we are flattered!]

2009 MLB Preview: San Francisco Giants

San Francisco Giants

IF (2/5) - It looks like Ishikawa will be at 1B and Sandoval at 3B. Add Frandsen (or maybe someone else) at 2B and that leaves (a declining) Renteria and Molina as the only solid vets in the IF.

OF (3/5) - Winn, Rowand, and Lewis seem to be a bit better than the IF at least, but I'd rather see Schierholtz break-out and take a job.

SP (4/5) - This really should be a good rotation. I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt. Lincecum is an ace and Cain has pitched well. Zito can't really get any worse. They added the Big Unit. Good options for #5 out of Lowry and Sanchez.

RP (2.5/5) - OK, we have Beach Boy Brian Wilson closing and they added Affeldt, who has pitched well the last two years. Howry was pretty bad last year and was mostly put into insignificant spots, yet still couldn't succeed. Sergio Romo sounds cooler than Tony and he can throw. Still a few spots to fill. I think there is potential here.

Wildcards: Schierholtz, Rohlinger, Lowry

[Disclaimer: I do not claim to be an expert on your team. I think it's fun to do this stuff before a season starts and then see how close (or how far off) I was. If you spend time from your day insulting us, telling others to insult us, or posting in a blog or messageboard about how wrong our opinions are, then we are flattered!]

2009 MLB Preview: Los Angeles Dodgers

Los Angeles Dodgers

IF (4/5) - Pretty good infield. Furcal is a great lead-off hitter. Loney, Blake, and Martin are all solid. Hudson and Loretta were added. Ausmus and DeWitt should contribute as well.

OF (4.5/5) - The best part about signing Manny is Pierre goes to the bench. Ethier and Kemp add much more offense than Pierre, even with the SBs. Pretty good OF here.

SP (3.5/5) - Lowe is gone, but Billingsly isn't. Kuroda seemed pretty inconsistent to me last year; so his numbers could be even better this year if he improves there. Kershaw had 100 Ks last year and has lots of potential. Randy Wolf is back and he had a decent season last year. This team really could use a healthy Jason Schmidt, who could compete with Vargas, Stults, and Estes for the #5 spot. Are they looking at Pedro?

RP (3/5) - Saito is gone. Broxton will close and Kuo could also be an option, though he has injury concerns. Mota was added and he could help, though he was also inconsistent last year. Besides Wade, it looks like it'll be McDonald (who looked good in 4 games and then the postseason) and then a couple of the rotation candidates.

Wildcards: Schmidt, Loretta, Vargas

[Disclaimer: I do not claim to be an expert on your team. I think it's fun to do this stuff before a season starts and then see how close (or how far off) I was. If you spend time from your day insulting us, telling others to insult us, or posting in a blog or messageboard about how wrong our opinions are, then we are flattered!]

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Living the Madness

All of us at Furious Wedge will be bringing you some live-blogging throughout March Madness; so just bring yourself here, if you are stuck at work or looking for some updates.

12:37 - Wedge: And there you have it Hilltoppers pull off our biggest upset of the day by seeding #12 over a #5. And with that I’m concluding my first day of covering ‘Madness.’ Lets hope tomorrow will give us as many if not more upsets or at least close finishes and some good mascots in the Flyers, Demon Deacons, Musketeers, Colonials, Lumberjacks & Saints.

12:35 - Furious: I really thought Illinois might do it, but the Hilltoppers held on. It's funny that most readers over the last few hours have come from racing referrals... yet I'll be back early talking about basketball! See you in a few hours.

12:22 -
Furious: Down to the comeback attempt by Illinois. I'm downloading all of the episodes from Kornheiser's sitcom, Listen Up, for possible hospital viewing. I'll be up early again, likely blogging.

12:20 -
Wedge: Dang, a disappointing end for the Rams; UCLA just played some really good defense on those final 13 seconds and VCU couldn’t get the ball down-court fast enough. So if WKU’s win holds up with 1:30 to go in that one we’ll have come out with 3 upsets. Not as much Madness as I like, but much better than 2008 which basically had no Madness at all.

12:15 - Furious: Highlights (for me) tomorrow...

USC and Tim Floyd. One of my favorite college coaches, plus Dwight Lewis, who I watched a bunch in high school. And don't forget Lil' Romeo! Maybe he'll get in?

North Dakota State and Coach Saul Phillips take on Kansas.

My new home state team, Tennessee.

And two of my Final Four teams, Louisville and Syracuse.

12:09 -
Wedge: Commonwealth of Rams in Virginia has it within 1; they’re getting crazy aggressive now, they can feel the momentum going their way. Bruins look like they are just trying to hold on and run out time at this point. I’m not so sure I’d be using that tactic, because that’s the tactic that got VCU its comeback.

12:08 -
Furious: Finally watching the UCLA/VCU game.

12:04 -
Wedge: VCU Rams (I don’t care what you say, Richmond Virginia is not known for its Rams) gets it to within 3, and UCLA follows it right up with another basket back to 5, then they trade turnovers and VCU is within 3 again. Still 2 minutes to go; will be very interesting to see if VCU can pull even.

11:59 - Wedge: It was simply some semi-barbaric stuff I assume. I’m busy watching VCU’s desperate attempt to come back on UCLA; except UCLA refuses to miss any shots. And I think Western Kentucky is going to start kneeling down to run out the clock soon if they could.

11:56 - Furious: Man, I missed some action in this Oklahoma game. Some kind of violence maybe? They're saying "there's no place in the game" for whatever happened. What did I miss??

11:52 -
Furious: I don't know if cage-fighting in school is "barbaric." But it's definitely at least semi-barbaric.

11:47 -
Furious: Why didn't I go here for high school? They win state basketball championships AND make students have cage fights!

11:42 -
Furious: Yes! They just announced the start time for LSU/NC. 5:45. Our daughter should be at least 5 hours old by then. I just may be able to watch!

11:41 -
Furious: Learning all kinds of stuff in this game. Kornheiser went to Big Hampton. Awesome.

11:34 -
Furious: Blue Jays preview added, below this post again. Done with the central divisions. Only the wests are left. Maybe I can knock out all of them tomorrow?

11:30: -
Wedge: VCU keeps trying to make a game of this but UCLA is doing just enough to stay safely ahead of the run. I’d put VCU’s effort away and call this game done but VCU just recently in a previous moment of ‘Madness’ upset Duke; so we know VCU has what it takes to catch the Madness.

11:11 - Wedge: I didn’t pick Western Kentucky for the same reason; but also because of this: A #12 over a #5 is the most common upset; and its usually because the #5 spot is the highest a mid-major gets in seeding; and that mid-major (e.g. usually Gonzaga) isn’t ready for the #12 which is usually a pissed off big conference school that just got beat in its conference tournament ruining its seeding. The crazy thing about WKU over the Illini is that it’s the exact opposite of what the normal upset generally is during the Madness. Also want to give both teams props for their unique mascots/names.

11:01 - Furious: I didn't pick Western Kentucky because everyone else did basically. But I'd be happy if they won. I'm an old school Sun Belt fan!

10:45 -
Furious: Haha! Big Red! Back when UNO and Western Kentucky had a BIG rivalry, that mascot was the object of ridicule for me as often as possible. I used to pride myself on my heckling abilities and would usually get some kind of reaction from my target, even if it was just a smile or an eye-roll. But Western Kentucky was really good and I couldn't really mess with their players. (Once, we had an 18-point lead with 2 minutes left and they cut it to 5. Scared the crap out of me.) But the Hilltopper guy was fair game. We would mess with him ALL game. He was usually pretty cool about it.

10:41 -
Furious: WHAT?? Rivera is Hank Gathers' nephew?? Holy crap! I can't believe I didn't know this. I was so into Loyola Marymount, man. Then when he died, I just couldn't believe it. I was shocked. I was just starting to really love basketball, then suddenly... death. That's tough for a kid to understand. I have books and the movie... I wrote reports about Gathers and Kimble. I can't believe I didn't know this.

10:35 -
Furious: Sign I'm getting old... I'm watching Duke and Big Hampton in March Madness... and eating Motts Natural Fruit Snacks.

10:24 -
Wedge: At least Duke put this to bed early with Big Hampton and won’t fool me like every other high seed fools me by going down to the double digit seed underdog and then pulls it out at the end when they remember how to play. Starting soon is the “experts” favorite bracket buster Western Kentucky… I’m not sure what their mascot is officially, but we all know the physical at game mascot: Big Red!

10:19 -
Furious: Duke is just handling this team on the offensive boards. It looks like they're playing a little league team. America East is not little league!

10:16 -
Wedge: And now Japan just lost one of their guys while running the bases. These seeding games are more pointless than the NCAA Play-In Game.

10:07 -
Furious: Rivera is SO fast. The problem here is that while Duke is missing shots, so is Big Hampton. But you know Duke will get it together, while Big Hampton can't afford to fall behind. But could you see Rivera on one of these big teams like Duke??

10:02 -
Wedge: And as we get underway with 3 more games we just witnessed another reason the "seeding" games of the World Baseball Classic shouldn't happen. Japan's pitcher lost control and hit the Korean batter in the back of his neck. He was down for a while but finally up now, pitch just got away. I'm not saying seeding caused the wild pitch, just saying he'd never been pitching if this pointless game isn't being played.

9:56 - Wedge: Quote of the night via Mrs. Wedge: “Duke is on now, they’re playing Big Hampton”

9:44 -
Furious: Finally, Duke/Binghamton. I really wish Binghamton were playing someone else so I could root for Rivera. You never know. But aside from LSU (and UNO, when I was growing up), Duke is my team.

9:31 -
Furious: Today's food... Besides the celebratory red beans, I also had a Freschetta PizzAmore. It was amazing and was on sale for $5. So much better than a $20 Pizza Hut piece of junk. I'm telling you, get one for tomorrow and you'll be happy. Second round food looks like it's leaning towards hospital food, though the hospital is right next to a couple of my favorite local restaurants, so we'll see...

9:20 -
Furious: Not only did Clemson have no answer for Harris, but they didn't even always TRY. They just left him open entirely too often tonight.

9:14 -
Furious: Man, I give two kids a bath and the Villains take over while I'm gone! Awesome. Now let's go Gonzaga. You know, I really need to find out if this whole "daughter-being-born" thing is going to interfere with the LSU/NC game.

9:03 -
Wedge: A stat I wish I knew before doing brackets. My wife tells me that BYU has not won a NCAA Tournament game in 15 years.

9:00 -
Wedge: Madness for sure! one of the Akron Zips loses his contact.. but lucky enough finds it on the floor somehow. If that were any of us that contact would be stuck on the bottom of someone’s shoe or something. Hope he gets it back in because Akron needs to keep this momentum and give us another double digit seed upset.

- Furious: Holy guacamole, settling back in to watch these games. We had the Michigan game on, and I have Michigan in that one, so I'm looking good. I had Miss. State in my Sweet 16, so I screwed up there. Other than that, BYU is my only other loss so far. I need the Villains and Gonzaga to pull these out. Too much semi-madness!

8:51 - Wedge: Michigan and Texas look like they are in cruise control now; and might as well be while be. So much for the Big 10 dropping all its team in the first round like every "expert" claimed. Goob helps the Villains pull within 6. I think its time the American Eagles bring in their secret weapon:

8:42 - Wedge: Villanova should really consider becoming the Villainous Villains, I mean look at the height on the Bowler Hat Guy. I bet that dude is a rebounding machine.

8:34 -
Wedge: Back from the half and American continues piling it on the Villains. Akron looks quite sharp against Gonzaga, but is this just Gonzaga’s yearly break-down? Gonzaga surely looks like they can do good when they want to; Akron isn’t doing anything too spectacular. And in the other 2 games Texas and Michigan are starting to pull away to a safe distance; so we’re still looking at 3 possible upsets, two of them would be huge (of course assuming they held up).

8:19 -
Wedge: OK, I like that CBS is taking us from game to game… but taking us to the Akron-Gonzaga game for 1 minute and then switching again and again while the game with the local team is at halftime is a bit crazy. Good thing we can watch all these games online. It’ll kill my brackets and likely most anyone’s but I’m loving 3 games being led by the underdogs at the moment.

8:12 -
Wedge: Boy, who expected a 14 seed to be up by 10 points at halftime to a #3, even if that #3 is full of guys with pointy mustaches and bowler hats. And while it is off topic to basketball. The report that just came out about the Helio Castroneves trial going on break until Monday lets us know 2 things. 1 that jurors are falling asleep tells you the kind of details and things that are being debated here and 2: how many jurors and people associated are March Madness fans?

8:00 -
Wedge: It’s early enough so let’s go ahead and jinx them. Has a 14 seed ever beat a 3? I would say American over Villainous Villains of Villanova would be one of the biggest in quite some time and looking better now with a 6 point lead; and I have to say a story any red blooded citizen should enjoy, the good overcoming evil.

7:53 -
Wedge: Make that 4 of 4 underdogs leading now. Well Akron was leading when I typed the first sentence; they’re tied now. American Eagles have hit a wall here, still lead but haven’t made a shot in quite a while. Hope this isn’t the start of a momentum change… can’t let Villains win… unless this is part 1 of a sequel.? And just like that bam American's dude drains another 3, up by 4.

7:46 - Wedge: In the words of a Brewers fan: Wow, just wow. Its total overload right now, the total opposite of the afternoon games; we have 4 games, all within 3 points and in 3 of them the underdog is ahead. I don’t know this dude’s name on American, but he’s on fire right now. Villainous Villains of Villanova are on fire if they can’t stop him from draining these 3s.

7:36 - Wedge: I guess # 10 seed is the place to be today. Maryland already took down Cal today as a #10 and now #10 Minnesota leads Texas and #10 Michigan is starting to pull away from Clemson. And going back to our mascot talk earlier, I have to say American Eagles has to be one of the most appropriate and certainly the only team worthy of non specific Eagles; and as such they are keeping up only 1 behind Villanova. Villanova is fun to type because auto-correct keeps telling me that I must have meant Villains... but that's the thing; why aren't they the Villanova Villainous Villains?

7:30 -
Wedge: Ok I’m back from the hiatus known as dinner for a surprisingly close American-Villanova and Michigan-Clemson & Minnesota-Texas… all 3 games are within 2 points at the moment. All 3 looking competitive so far.

6:30 -
Furious: OK, I'm going to eat some red beans to celebrate the LSU victory. I'll be back later to watch the Duke game and the Western Kentucky game.

6:25 -
Furious: Surprise, surprise. Donte Stallworth was drunk when he hit and killed a pedestrian at 7:00am.

6:21 -
Furious: Did a Rays preview and put it in for 12:31, just before this current live-blog post. State is not looking good.

5:51 -
Furious: Well, Washington has not done enough to take advantage of Varnado's foul trouble. This game could be very different in the 2nd half. Too bad it's basically a home game for Washington.

5:25 -
Furious: Ouch! Varnado's 2nd foul, less than 10 minutes into the game. He may be done for the half! If you haven't seen Mississippi State play, he was basically their key force throughout their big run to make it into the tournament. I don't know if State can win now. It'll be really tough.

5:22 -
Furious: OK, I just posted my Orioles preview but stamped it at 12:30, just before this live-blog post, so that I wouldn't interrupt the madness of March.

5:14 -
Wedge: And we have Madness! Our first official upset #10 Maryland takes down #7 Cal; though yes, I know its not much of a “surprise” per say, its still an upset and Madness I tell you. What is madness of another kind is both UConn & UNC beating their opponents by one billion. Let’s hope LSU and Texas A&M give them at least some kind of competition.

4:40 - Furious: Yeah, LSU/Butler was about as close as we've gotten to Madness. In my "Go SEC" mode, I picked Miss. State coming up here. Maybe things will get mad. Time for some baseball previews...

4:31 -
Wedge: So Purdue holds off the Corn Growing Purple Panthers of Iowa's Northern Region. That game turned out to be much better at the end than expected but alas; our tournament is still without an upset so far... no 'Madness' yet.

4:23 -
Furious: Back from the bank. Man, that UConn game got out of hand! And I agree about the mascots. Some of these are terrible. Look at Northern Iowa!

4:23 -
Wedge: and the North Iowa Purple Panthers pull within 5 points of Purdue (not enough "p" words in that sentence). Only 46 seconds... do we in fact have out 12 over 5 seed upset? I'm still thinking no but anything can happen sure.

4:18 -
Wedge: Finally Cal and Maryland are back; and two unique mascots at that! I don't believe there are Golden Bears or Terrapins anywhere else in sports are there?

4:08 - Wedge: Here's a new rule. College's need to learn how to better pick their mascots. I've forever been in favor of a tournament between all the "Tigers" with only the winner retaining the name. But beyond that: Northern Iowa Panthers!? I'm no expert but is Iowa really known for its panthers? This is almost as bad as the Tulsa Golden Hurricane. At least Tulsa gets a pass in my book for incredible uniqueness there.

4:00 -
Wedge: Sorry I'm not chiming in as much now but with Cal & Maryland at halftime there isn't much to say. Umm Chattanooga is now down by 30. Northern Iowa is trying to change that with a quick steal to pull within 6 of Purdue.

3:48 -
Wedge: Cal and Maryland 30 seconds away from halftime Terps up by 2. Its a great back n forth game, and good thing too because all 3 of the other games are double digit blowouts at this point.

3:31 -
Wedge: 7 minutes to the half and Cal has brought themselves back to within 3 of Maryland. This one is shaping up to be a good one. While Chattanooga-UConn is shaping up to repeat this mornings Memphis game with Chattanooga only down 2.

3:22 -
Wedge: Ok this has nothing to do with sports, but Mrs. Wedge just brought a news story to my attention. The CEO of United Technologies Corp is getting a divorce. According to their prenup, his ex-wife would get $43 million. You guessed it, she's suing saying he forced her to sign it cause she wants more. How much more you ask? She's bringing in proof that she needs $53,800 a WEEK. A WEEK!!!! Good gosh someone shoot this lady and just give the money to all the many needing unemployed of the country, you spend $53K in a week!?

It includes maintaining her Park Ave. apartment, 3 homes in Sweden, $700 a week for a limo service, $1,00 a week for hair and skin treatments, 1,500 a week for restaurants and entertainment, $8,000 a week for travel, $2,200 for a personal assistant, $650 for dry cleaning, $250 for a trainer, $1,570 for a horse care, $1,480 for domestic help, 600 for flowers, aaaand.... $4,500 a week for clothes....

At this rate she would go through $43 million in just 16 years; and apparently she can't compromise on anything.

I really hate people sometimes...what a waste of oxygen.

3:17 -
Wedge: Higlanders!? Is their mascot Adrian Paul with a sword and he keeps yelling "there can only be one!" Purdue has won their game, I know its only halftime but they're up by 10; that game will not play to the token #12 over #5 upset. In fact Chattanoga behind UConn by 2 is the only real close game we got now that UNC has pulled out to a 10 point lead.

3:14 -
Furious: They're the Highlanders. The Radford Fightin' Highlanders. OK, I need to run to the bank... I'll be back!

3:11 -
Furious: 2-point game here. The Radford Fightin' __________s made it 11-9. Mascot hunt...

3:08 -
Wedge: Have Maryland opening up a 7 point lead on Cal here and wondering if any of the 4 games currently going will even be close? 10 point lead, 6 point lead and one that just started along with this one at a 5 point lead.

3:03 - Furious: Watching NC/Radford and it doesn't look good at all. I was hoping for the 1st #16 win ever cause we all know what Hansbrough is going to do to LSU.

2:51 -
Furious: So much for live-blogging all day... the doctor says our baby must come out soon, this Saturday to be precise! Talk about messing up my March Madness! I wonder if I can see the LSU/NC game somehow? Hmmm....

Well, anyway, what a win for LSU! I was watching on a TV in the hospital, but then they put Memphis on. So it was cell phone updates from there. Then I got the second half on the radio on the way home and caught the last 10:00 or so online when I got home.

Now I have a day and a half to get everything together so that we can have a new baby. I'll be on as much as I can...

2:47 -
Wedge: Now we turn our attention to a game that is likely already over. Northern Iowa (who along with out beloved Vermont Catamounts are getting rid of baseball this year) actually led 6-4 at one point. a 12 point run later and Purdue has almost already put this in the bag now ahead 16-6.

2:34 -
Wedge: and we have our first 3 winners. Memphis fans have to feel better that the Tigers calmed down and remember that they are better slowing down and staying less frantic. LSU Tiger fans have to be happy their team proved dominant under the boards but I'm not sure how the physical play and many fouls will go over against #1 UNC. Texas A&M... what do you even say; if they maintain that shot percentage no one beats them. BYU never had a chance, and BYU is a good team, that was supposed to be a shootout.

2:22 -
Wedge: and that really seems to be the key for Memphis. Clearly Northridge is rattled now being behind and just trying to score quickly instead of safely. Memphis taking their time and no longer missing wild shots have stopped the Matadors and are sudenly up by 10 after being down by 6 only 7 minutes ago. LSU is ahead by 4 in Greensboro but with only 20 seconds left and being fouled by Butler, it looks like this one may be done.

2:17 -
Wedge: Memphis may have found the answer to Northridge... slow the game down. They've taken their time to develop a couple plays in a row and now find themselves back up by 3 with some clear easy jump shots.

2:12 -
Wedge: LSU starts hitting their shots in the field and have at least pulled Butler out of the 1-possession range. Northridge and Memphis are both having moment of brilliance Memphis through some steals and Northridge through one of the sweetest layups you'll ever see under 2 different defenders.

2:05 -
Wedge: Northridge up by 6!!!! 10 minutes but you gotta start thinking about possibly the biggest upset in March Madness history right!? Memphis was a legitimate #1 seed and they're panicking right now, calling a much needed timeout to hopefully stop the Matadors' run.

1:59 - Wedge: And just like that I think everyone is realizing time is running out, Memphis ties it twice but Northridge stays up by 2... wait Memphis hits a 3 now up by 1.... And Butler and LSU are tied again in a very physical sort of sloppy game now. Rebounds are clearly the important part of this game now.

1:56 -
Wedge: And Northridge is UP BY 3! All it took was a few Memphis missed shots and some calm clear shot-taking from the Matadors.

1:52 -
Wedge: Northridge pulls within 2 of Memphis while LSU traded for a while and is now up by 4 on Butler. That game is becoming very physical in the past 5 minutes and fouling coming as well; time ticking down starting to sink in maybe?

1:45 -
Wedge: Things just get worse in Philadelphia for BYU now down 13; A&M just not missing their shots; the few times they do BYU gets the rebounds. In Greensboro Butler has come roaring back into this and now has a 1 point lead. And then of course there's Memphis who still can't shake Northridge who is running up and down the court right along with the Tigers 39-35.

1:34 -
Wedge: and we're back in Greensboro with LSU and Butler trading scores LSU up by 4 then 6 then 4 then 6.

1:18 - Wedge: So all 3 games are at halftime now. LSU up 6 on Butler; A&M up 12 on BYU and the Matadors of Northridge only trail Memphis by 3; and I have to say its not luck, they're playing at Memphis' level so far... can they hold that up for a 2nd half also?

1:12 - Wedge: Butler cuts LSU's lead to 6 just at halftime, but I have to say; LSU still looks like they're in control of this game. BYU back down by 13 as A&M goes back to their non-missing shot ways. and Memphis pulls their lead to 5 but still can't seem to shake Northridge... yet.

1:03 - Wedge: All of the games taking a different look now. Since A&M started missing shots BYU rebounding has taken over, BYU has cut that lead all the way down to 6. LSU on the other hand has opened up their lead to 11 now while Memphis simply cannot shake Northridge but is still up by 4.

12:54 - Wedge: They're human! Texas A&M missed a shot!

12:50 - Wedge: Ouch for BYU, down 26-8. Will Texas A&M ever miss a shot? Poor BYU, can't get a rebound if there is none to get. Butler on the other hand has found their 3-point shooting and are now only down 4 to LSU 15-11. Memphis and Northridge proving to be our back-n-forther of the morning swapping the lead every score just about.

12:45 - Wedge: Mark my first incorrect prediction. Northride has just taken back a 1 point 17-16 lead. And BYU can't catch any break now down 20-7. Texas A&M is 8 for 8 from the field at this point.

12:41 -
Wedge: Butler has to be feeling some serious jitters. They just passed the ball through 3 guys who had wide open 3-point shots only to miss the closer 2 point jumper.

12:37 - Wedge: and just like that Memphis ties it up. Northridge has likely seen the last of their leading in this tournament.

12:33 - Wedge: So far LSU looks like they are playing mad and motivated by their low seeding while Butler just looks sloppy; LSU up 11-3. Cal St. Northridge is giving us our first upset that isn't going to happen currently taking a 11-8 lead, but Memphis is already starting to wake up. I say that lead is gone by halftime. BYU and Texas A&M just got underway, haven't flipped over there yet.