Yesterday I wrote about Cricket, Today it’s European Soccer.

Before you think the Sports Guru has completely gone off the deep end, I do realize that we are in the middle of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Sweet 16 and Opening Day for the 2011 Baseball season is only a week away. But today I’m fired up about the 2012 UEFA European Football Championship. You need to remember football in Europe is the same thing as soccer in America. The Finals of the Tournament will be held from June 8th until July 1st in 2012. Poland and Ukraine will be the host countries. Fifty one other nations are battling it out for fourteen other slots to join the host countries in the finals. The qualifying round began last August and it runs through November of 2011. The fifty one countries were divided into nine groups. Six groups contain six teams and three groups have five teams. They are lettered Groups A – I. How the groups were assembled is again one of those things American sports fans just don’t care about. I can tell you pots and ping pong balls (see What Happened to the Ping Pong Balls – May 21, 2008 were involved.

By now you must be asking why write about something that really won’t happen until next summer, and most American sports fans don’t care about? I have a real simple answer – it’s the National flags. In Group A two of the teams are Germany and Belgium. As you can see, not very creative. Yes the Belgium flag has vertical stripes and the Germany flag has horizontal ones. And yes, the red and yellow have been flipped. But basically it’s the same flag. I have no doubt that citizens of those countries that have eaten too much chocolate and had a few too many beers can’t tell them apart.

In Group C we have Italy and in Group E Hungary. I am not a world history buff, but I’m going with a bunch of Hungarians had a little too much goulosh and decided the Italian flag was really nice and instead of wasting time and money, lets just flip it around and call it a day. The same could be said for France and the Netherlands.

Look how fancy the Czech Republic, Russian and Luxembourg (I dare you to point it out on a map of Europe without looking first) flags are.

For some reason I thought Europeans were creative. They gave us Versace, Heidi Klum and gelato. What would a day be like without bratwurst, warm beer or Abba? OK, you got me on that one. To be honest with you, I am very disappointed with the “Old World Countries”. Another country you can’t find on a map (it wasn’t a country when we went to school) Macedonia has a really cool flag. They are currently in 5th place in Group B having only beaten Andorra. Everybody beats Andorra. The country only has 84,000 residents. One great fact you can impress your friends with at the water cooler later today – The people of Andorra have the 2nd highest human life expectancy in the world — 82 years at birth. You can research who is number one and get back to me.. Just in case you were interested, the Romanian flag looks like this. Those Andorran’s are so creative…

Two more flags of note. Kyrgyzstan and Kiribati. Neither one is in Europe, but I liked the flags.

A few quick sports notes. We are one step closer to Nuclear war as Pakistan will play India in the World Cup Cricket semifinal on March 30th. This morning New Zealand upset South Africa and they will play the winner of tomorrows match between Sri Lanka (my pick to win the whole tournament) and England. Here is a little video of Pakistan playing India in Cricket from a few years ago.

In the NFL, that hit will get you fined $250,000 and suspended for a game.

Four teams qualified for the Elite Eight in the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship (Florida, Connecticut, Butler and Arizona) yesterday. Four more teams will qualify tonight.

Opening Day in Baseball is only 6 days away. And yes the NFL owners and players still can’t figure out how to split nine billion dollars.

Have a great weekend.

Your Friend in Sports,

Sports Guru Dave


It Has Been A Long Time

The Sports Guru returns! So where have I been for 2+ years? Enjoying life, getting fat, driving my kids around, listening to World Cup Cricket on XM-radio. You see it turns out there are so many other great sports to follow other than just professional Baseball, Basketball, Football and Hockey (I still consider Hockey one of the “Big 4” sports).

When I last wrote this blog I was aiming it at those readers who wanted to learn about sports so they could be more comfortable discussing sports in the workplace or in social settings. While I still hope to educate those who need it, this time around I’m going to concentrate on those sports and stories that don’t necessarily hit the back pages of the newspapers (yes Virginia, there are still newspapers) everyday.

Today’s lesson is Cricket. If your still with me, Cricket turns out to be a great sport to follow if your unemployed or have a sleeping problem. An average game is 6+ hours and the guys who call the game on the radio for 6+ hours drone on and on in their British/Indian or British/West Indian accents. A quick primer on the current World Cup of Cricket being played in Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka. It turns out it was also supposed to be played in Pakistan, but they were stripped of that honor when a terrorist group opened fire on a bus carrying the Sri Lankan National team back in 2009 killing six police officers and two civilians. Six members of the cricket team were injured, but nothing serious. What a great sport! Terrorist groups care so much about their National teams that they ambush the other teams while driving to the stadium for a game.

The World Cup involves fourteen national teams. Ten of them are powerhouses in the sport and four others might be considered the “minor leagues” of the cricket world. The “minor league” teams have been eliminated after the opening round of the tournament. One of those teams, Ireland did have their moment of glory while beating England. The pubs did very well that night in Dublin and Irish doctors are expecting a very large number of births in early December (that match was played on March 2nd).

So just how do you play cricket? Here is my take as a big ugly American using Baseball as a comparison. Cricket is played on an oval shaped field with tiny fences guarding the field all the way around. Think of the Green Monster at Fenway Park in Boston minus 36 feet. The action takes place in the middle of the field. Remember when we were kids and we played running bases on the front lawn of Jimmy’s house? Now take the running bases thing you are thinking about and place it in the middle of the oval. Stay with me now as the fun stuffs coming. Now picture two guys wearing hockey goalie equipment with funny looking baseball bats (one side is sort of flat) standing in the middle of the oval. Behind each of these guys is a bunch of wood sticking out of the ground with a tiny piece of wood laying across the top. I could use all the technical terms here to impress you (stump, wicket, crease etc…) but no American sports fan really cares.

So now we have two batters (the guys wearing the goalie equipment) and the two bases (the wickets). What we need now is a guy to pitch the ball. They call this guy a bowler. I don’t know why, so don’t ask me. Bowlers come in all shapes and sizes. Some throw fast, some slow and some throw curve bowls (spinners). Besides the bowler the team in the field has 10 other players. One guy is the catcher (wicket keeper) and the 9 other guys spread out all over the oval. They have really fancy names for the positions these guys play but it will not help you understand the game any better. Remember because it’s an oval, some guys get to stand behind the batter. We have two more guys on the field also, they are the umpires. Think of them as the home plate umpire who stands behind second base (don’t ask) and the first base umpire. Now we are ready to play.

This next part is going to go by real fast so be ready. For the current World Cup each team comes to bat once. They get to stay at bat until 10 batters have made an out (remember when we played everybody bats during an inning?) or the pitchers have thrown 300 balls. The 300 hundred balls are neatly divided into things called overs. 50 overs of 6 balls each. Pitchers switch after every over, and no pitcher can throw more than 10 overs during a game. So you need a bunch of pitchers. The batter gets to hit the ball as hard and as far as he can. His other job is to protect the pile of wood behind him. The pitcher is trying to throw the ball by the batter and knocking off the little piece of wood on the top of the pile sticking out of the ground. If the batter hits the ball in the air and it goes past the little Green Monster protecting the field, what you and I call a Home Run, his team gets six runs. If he hits the ball on the ground and it hits the little Green Monster or it bounces over it (a ground rule double), his team gets four runs. If the batter hits the ball and it’s not a four or six run play, he and the other batter who is standing by the other set of wood sticking up out of the ground in the middle of the oval have to switch places (like running bases). Each time they switch bases they get a run. Think of this as a single in baseball. Sometimes they run back and forth for two runs (a double) or three runs (a triple).

Remember before you started to glaze over I wrote that each side gets to bat until they get 10 outs. I need to explain how you make an out. You can be caught, bowled, stumped or run out. There are a few more ways, but remember no American sports fan cares about that. Caught is when you hit the ball in the air and one of the fielders catch it. I should have mentioned nobody wears a mitt on their hand except for the catcher guy. Bowled is when the pitcher hits the pile of wood. Stumped is when the batter swings and misses, the catcher catches the ball the hits the pile of wood with his hand while the batter is not in the batting box (crease). Run out is when your playing the running bases part of the game after the batter hits the ball and one of the fielders get the ball and throws it to the catcher or pitcher who knocks over the pile of wood while the guys wearing the goalie equipment are running back and forth. That’s all you really need to know to have a sort of intelligent conversation with your second cousin’s ex-husband from England about the game of cricket.

So why did I just spend twelve hundred words explaining the game of cricket to a bunch of American sports fans who could care less. I can sum that up in two words, Nuclear War. India and Pakistan have both qualified for the Quarterfinals of the World Cup. They are bitter rivals. They have gone to war four times in the last sixty five years and they both have nuclear weapons. With that happy thought in your head, enjoy your Thursday…

Your Friend in Sports,

Dave the Sports Guru

How to Survive Super Bowl Week Part 3

So here we are, Super Bowl week Friday. Only two days until the big game. Let’s review a few things. You are still looking at the Super Bowl Box Pool “magic” paper copy on your desk. You are planning your outing Saturday morning to the big box store warehouse and you have your “cool” Super Bowl outfit picked out for Sunday. Remember you and Patrick’s sister-in-law can’t show up before 6pm. Now I know that means you might not get a prime seat on the couch in front of Pat’s 60 incher, but don’t worry,you’ll just slide over when all your former Sports Nerd friends leave at half-time. Here’s a new one for the list. Singles and five dollar bills. No, your not going to a strip joint during halftime (have you ever?). You need a few extra bucks in your pockets to make some fun “side” bets with your new found football friends.

We never really finished up learning about the SBBP from Part 1 so here goes. You will neatly fold up your “magic” paper copy that you highlighted in yellow and bring it with you on Sunday. Make sure you know your “magic” numbers. As an example you have Cardinals 7 and Steelers 3 for one of your THREE boxes you bought from Hank. You only need to look at your numbers near the end of each quarter. As a review you bought a $10 box in a 100 box pool so the entire pool is worth $1,000. Let’s play a little “what if” now. At the end of the first quarter Arizona leads Pittsburgh 7-3. You win that quarter. That’s $125 bucks in your right front pocket on Monday morning. At halftime it’s Pittsburgh 13 – Arizona 7. You win again. Remember there is no 13 on the SBBP so you look under the 3 for Pittsburgh. Another $250 for your right front pocket on Monday. By now Pat’s sister-in-law and his hot wife are really proud of you and they squeeze in real close to you to watch Bruce Springsteenbruce-springsteen at half-time. All the Sports Nerds are saying there good-byes and the Sports Fans want to know how your going to spend that $375. Cut to the end of the third quarter and the Cardinals are back in front 17-13. You are the luckiest guy at the party and another $125 will find it’s way into your right front pocket early Monday morning (Do you remember how to get to the mail room?). By this time Pat’s sister-in-law is all over you. You can’t remember the last time she was crawling all over you like this. You are the hit of the party. $500 is a nice way to start the week. But wait, the final score is worth another $500. The fourth quarter is really exciting (you think) and both teams score and the game is tied at 27-27 as the fourth quarter is coming to the end. Now you’re really bummed because Hank from the mail room has 7 and 7 in the SBBP and he’s going to win the $500 for the final score. Just then Pat’s neighbor, who everybody calls Chickie (you never asked why) announces that this will be the first Super Bowl ever to go into Overtime. You freak out a little as the Sports Nerd in you re-appears for a few seconds, but you calm down and remember that Overtime means they keep playing the game. During the 14th Bud Light commercial between the fourth quarter and Overtime you get the courage to go over to speak to Chickie and ask him what happens if the Cardinals score a touchdown in overtime. You figured out that a touchdown is worth 6 points and that would give the Cardinals 33 and the Steelers 27. Your really concerned and confused when Chickie tells you that the extra point is not kicked during overtime and based upon the scenario you laid out the 500 bucks for the final score would be awarded to you and not Hank on Monday morning. A clean sweep of all 4 payouts, a thousand dollars and the admiration of everyone at work. You can’t wait! Remember I played a little “what if”, so don’t get all that excited yet.

OK Sports Guru, what’s the deal with the extra money I need to bring on Sunday. I spent lot’s of money on Saturday buying all that artery clogging crap you wrote about in Part 2 (yes I know it was hard to pass on the bread bowl filled with vegetable dip). Why do I need to spend more money? Pat never asked me to pay to go to his party before. You need money to bet on the “Prop” bets with all your new football friends. As you know, EVERYBODY bets on the Super Bowl. What you might have not known is that you can bet on almost anything that happens before, during and after the game. You can bet on the coin-flipsuperbowl-coin-toss. You can bet on how long the National Anthem takes to be sung. You can bet on the commercials. You can bet on what the announcer says. You can bet on what color tie the TV announcer wears. Heck you can even bet which teams cheerleaders will be shown the most,136235.

So that’s it. The Sports Guru 3 part plan to Surviving Super Bowl Week. Just remember to be careful when the Sports Fans start to talk all sorts of numbers and stats to not break out in a cold sweat and tip them off your not really one of them. You see, they will toss you in the back yard with Pat’s dog so fast you won’t have the time to bet the over/under on how long you will locked outside with the dog………. The Sports Guru is taking the Cardinals and the 7 points that your brother-in-law Pat is giving me.

Here is a little YouTube video to help you get ready for the game on Sunday.

Enjoy the game.

Your Friend in Sports,

Dave the Sports Guru

How to Survive Super Bowl Week Part 2

The highlight of Super Bowl week is of course the Super Bowl party on Sunday. I know most of you just turned pale white and are desperately reaching for your bottle of Fiji water near your desk and are trying not to hyperventilate until you pass out. I’ll say it again. The highlight of Super Bowl week is the party on Sunday. You see, the second time your reaction was not as severe. I hear you saying to yourselves, “the magic paper was not so terrible, but the party is the worst day of the year”. The trips to the dentist, proctologist and the 5 year old’s four hour dance recital combined is less painful than the “Party”. Well the Sports Guru has a foolproof plan to get you to and survive the party.

Every year your brother-in-law Patrick invites you to his house to watch the game. The only thing you and Pat have in common is that you married sisters. You married the smart one and Pat married the better looking one. So what if your sister-in-law shows a little more cleavage and still fits into jeans that high school girls wear and the bikini still looks good on her after having four kids. You married the smart one. In previous years here is where you made mistake number one. You told Pat thank you for the invite and you and your sister-in-laws sister will try to make it to the party. Yeah you’re the last guy on earth who is going to keep sisters from visiting with each other. The second mistake you made in the past was that you arrived ON TIME. Super Bowls begin at around 6:30pm est and most invites say come at 5pm. You and Pat’s sister-in-law arrive at 5pm. The rest of the gang filters in after 5:30. Mistake number three, your wearing slacks and a button down shirt that makes you look like if you fell asleep in your clothes after the game, all you would need to do on Monday morning is tuck your shirt in again. But the biggest mistake you used to make on Super Bowl Sunday is that you are the guy who brings the vegetable dip in the bread bowl to the party.g36-breadbowlswdips

Now let’s review how you are going to be the hit at the party this Sunday. By now you have RSVPed to Pat that you and his sister-in-law are coming to the game. DO NOT SHOW UP AT 5pm.. As much as it might make your head explode, you cannot walk into until almost 6pm. Repeat it out loud right now almost as loud as when you chased Hank down the hall the other day. “DO NOT SHOW UP AT 5pm“. You see when you used to show up at 5pm you were “that guy” who took the best sit on the couch in front of Pat’s 60 inch flat screen with the 9 speaker surround sound system he has set at volume 17. The problem is that you made the real fans stand around until you snuck away from the game after the first Budweiser commercial never to return to the game. The real fans knew that you went into the kitchen and helped your sister-in-law with the ice and cutting the sandwiches and taking the mini hot dogs out of the oven. God do I hate “that guy”. I always wished “that guy” would get bit by Pat’s dog that was supposed to be kept in the backyard but you always opened the door to get more ice and let him in. Once the dog was in the house all the kids scream and the dog runs around trying to eat all the food and I can’t watch the game. Man a dog bite is not bad enough, maybe just a touch of food poisoning for “that guy”. Yes the Sports Guru has a vivid imagination.

Let’s work on your wardrobe for Super Bowl Sunday. I am not encouraging you to run over to Dicks or the Sports Authority and plunk down $250 on the official game day jersey of the Steelers or Cardinals (you still remembered whose is playing the game, correct?). No, I just want you feel comfortable and fit in. Maybe a pair of jeans and a casual button down or even a college sweatshirt that might just be a tad small. No work clothes. No work shoes and nothing generic that says “football” or your kids’ t-ball team’s name on it. Look like you belong.

I know this is tough on you, but believe me; Pat and your sister-in-law steelersgirl2(she looks good in yellow and black, that’s the Steelers colors) will never look at you the same again. That’s a good thing. Now here is the really hard part. This will separate the Sports Nerds from the Sports Fans forever! What to bring to the party. You will never bring the vegetable dip in the bread bowl again. I bet you did not know this, but when you and Pat’s sister-in-law left at half-time of every Super Bowl party, your sister-in-law throws the bread bowl in the garbage as soon as the door closes behind you. Didn’t you figure it out that NOBODY ever ate the dip?

On Saturday morning (yes it will be very busy, think of it as a punishment for being “that guy” in years past) you will go to BJ’s, Sam’s Club, Costco etc, drive around the lot for twenty minutes looking for a spot (more punishment) get the biggest cart you can find and enter the store waving your membership card proudly. You will pass right by any item in the warehouse that is marked – SUGAR FREE, LOW FAT, DIET, LESS……, NO SALT or HEALTHY. You are looking for foods that will raise cholesterol readings by at least 50 points by Monday morning. And before I forget, never be “that guy” who brings St. Pauli’s Girl N.A. to any party. You will never be able to convince me that enough people in the room have elevated liver function readings to satisfy bringing Non-Alcoholic beer. Your looking for Chicken Wings, Meatballs in BBQ Sauce, 5lb bags of chips, quart size tubs of Salsa (hot of course, mild is for Sports Nerds), Salami and Olive Trays, 7 Layer Taco Dip, Pizza Rolls, Green Bean Fries, Cup Cakes, Cookie Trays and Caffeinated Soda. Throw in a box of Prilosec and if your really into leaving your Sports Nerd former self at the door a case of Miller Genuine Draft. I don’t care how much all this costs you. MY reputation as the Sports Guru is on the line here. Disappoint me now and you are doomed to be a Sports Nerd for the rest of your days on this earth.

Anyway on Monday morning you will so much cash in your pockets (remember Hank and the “magic” paper copy) this little spending spree will be long forgotten. On Friday in Part 3 of How to Survive Super Bowl Week, we will discuss the SBBP, Hank, the “magic paper copy and other ways to have a great time at the Party on Sunday, including staying until they hand out the Lombardi Trophy (I just had to add that). Until then……………

Your Friend in Sports,

Dave the Sports Guru

How to Survive Super Bowl Week

When I started this blog last spring the main goal was to help Sports Nerds become more comfortable with sports. I realize that Super Bowl week might just be the worst week of the year for Sports Nerds. But have no fear, the Sports Guru has devised a 3 part plan to get you from the thumb sucking prenatal position to being the hit of Super Bowl Sunday.

For years now, Mary from the IT department and Hank from the mail room have passed by your cubicle during Super Bowl week Monday with a strange looking piece of paper. fooball-squares1

Since you have never stopped them, they walk right past you and down the hall to visit your co-worker Stan (rhymes with Sports Fan). Have you ever wondered about that “magic” piece of paper EVERYBODY else on your floor talks about all of Super Bowl week? The “magic” piece of paper is called the Super Bowl Box Pool. It is really nothing to be afraid of. Here is all you really need to know about the SBBP.

The paper is diveded into 100 boxes. Ten on the x-axis and ten on the y-axis (you are a math nerd also, correct?). What Mary or Hank wants from you is your name or initials in those boxes. Not all of them, just a few. It will cost you money to put your name or initials on the SBBP.

Lets do some quick math now. Using $10 as a base, each SBBP when fully completed will be worth $1,000 (100 boxes times $10 each). Some SBBP are more and some could be less, but the concept is the same. Base bet times 100.

Now here’s the fun part. When Hank walks by your cubicle this week, you need to yell out really loud, “Hank give me 3 boxes this year”. Since Hank has never stopped by your cubicle before, you might have to chase him down the hall. Don’t worry about that. Just be real loud and proud when you yell, “Hank give me 3 boxes this year” and hand over your $30. Exact change will endear you to Hank for at least a year.

So now you have given Hank your 30 bucks and he has picked up his jaw that dropped to the ground and has stopped staring at you like you spoke to him in Mandarin. What’s next on the path from Sports Nerd to Sports Fan? You boldly take your pen and write your name or initials in your 3 boxes. Spread out your boxes around the “magic” paper if you can. Be very careful to keep your marking in your own boxes, it is SBBP etiquette to not run into someone else’s box. At this point Hank will thank you, he will walk away muttering to himself and you have taken step one in your Super Bowl transformation. When you make your way back towards you cubicle make sure to yell real loud again “Thanks for the 3 boxes Hank”. When you do make it back to your cubicle, sit back in your chair and stare blankly at your computer monitor because you really have no idea on what you have just done. Don’t worry, Sports Guru Dave will now tell you more about the “magic” piece of paper.

After an unproductive 90 minutes of work, Mary and Hank made it back to the offices with a fully filled out SBBP and a thousand dollars.

I know what your thinking, “that’s how Hank goes on that fishing trip with his brother-in-law Roscoe every spring”. No, Hank is not ripping off his co-workers. Hank calls over his supervisor Tom to help him with the next step of the SBBP. While Hank has been walking the halls collecting ten bucks a box, Tom has been secretly preparing the next step of the SBBP. He has carefully folded and cut another piece of paper (not magic) into 10 squares. He writes the numbers 0 through 9, one digit on each of the 10 carefully folded and cut squares. He then places those paper squares in a lunch bag or hat. Anything that will protect those squares from being seen by human eyes. Depending on how much free time Tom and Hank have, or how complicated they want to make the next steps, they basically will randomly choose a piece of paper from the hat and write that number over the very first column (x-axis) on the SBBP. They proceed until all 10 numbers have been filled in across the top of the SBBP. They will do the same on the y-axis rows. The next step is critical, they will flip a coin and decide which axis will represent the Arizona Cardinals and which the Pittsburgh Steelers (you did remember they are playing in Super Bowl XLIII this Sunday in Tampa). At this point the SBBP is complete and more fun can happen.

I know, I know. You still have no clue what is going on. Hank will come back down the hall to give you a copy of the completed SBBP. football_pool-1 Remember, he never really stopped in your cubicle so be on the lookout for him with your copy. Hold the “magic” paper copy tightly in your two hands and look for your bold signatures in your 3 boxes (I know you were cheap and only bought one). Now take a yellow high-lighter and mark off your 3 boxes. Notice the numbers along the tops of the columns and along the rows. Mark off these numbers also. As an example your coordinates might look like Pittsburgh 6, Arizona 3 for box one. Pittsburgh 1, Arizona 2 for box two and Pittsburgh 8, Arizona 6 for your third box. These are your “numbers” You will need them for Sunday.

I could tell you more about your “numbers“, but since this is a 3 part plan you will need to wait until part 3 to learn how your “numbers” on the “magic” piece of paper copy will fill your pants pockets with cash next Monday morning. Now go find Mary or Hank, NOW………..

A quick follow-up to last Fridays blog

Miss Indiana was named Miss America for 2009, extending Miss Georgia’s not winning streak to 56 years. Miss America And the basketball coach at Covenant high school in Dallas has been fired for letting his team beat the Dallas Academy 100-0.

Your Friend in Sports,

Dave the Sports Guru

Losing Builds Character

churchsign_loserThere is no way the Sports Guru is going to make you believe that losing builds character. Somebody as least as famous as me is given credit (I could not find who the brain surgeon was) for those three little words. All losing is, is not winning. Now doesn’t that sound better. What ever you want to call it, losing or not winning is what the New Jersey Institute of Technology’s (NJIT) mens college basketball team has been doing since beating Longwood on February 19th, 2007. 51 straight losses. That is until Wednesday night when the Highlanders defeated Bryant University 61-51 in Newark, NJ.

Here’s the good news. The 51 game losing streak would have been a NCAA Division I record for futility but because NJIT is what they call a reclassifying school (not three seasons at this division) the record is still held by Sacramento State who lost only 34 straight games from 1997 to 1999. 51 games is a longtime to not win. Since NJIT moved from Division II to Division I during the 2006-2007 they are now 6-71. They posted a 5-24 record during their first season, they were winless last season and are now 1-18 this year. Only one player, junior Dan Stonkus has endured all 51 of those losses. 51 is nothing compared to the all-time NCAA losing streak at any level – 117 games by Division III Rutgers – Camden that did not win from January 22, 1992 until January 9, 1997. That was nearly five years without a win.1138822644t-shirt-for-sayings6

The Sports Guru did a little digging and found that futility happens a lot in sports. Just by coincidence Wednesday night Clemson University visited the University of North Carolina for a mens basketball game. North Carolina won 94-70. It was the 54th straight home win for North Carolina against Clemson. Clemson has NEVER beaten North Carolina when they were the road team.

Next weekend the Arizona Cardinals will play the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLIII. The Cardinals as a franchise started in 1898 and are the oldest continuously run professional football team. They can claim one NFL championship in 1947 when they played in Chicago. They left Chicago after the 1959 season moving to St. Louis the next season and then Arizona for the 1988 season. That’s 61 years without a championship. Since 1947 they have been to the playoffs only six times with a total of five victories. Three of those five have come in this post season.images

It’s now 101 seasons since the Chicago Cubs last won the World Series. The Chicago Blackhawks last won the Stanley Cup in 1961. hall_miller_and_neva_jane_langley1Miss Georgia was last named Miss America in 1953 (Neva Jane Langley), a Collie has not won Best in Show at the Westminster Dog Show since 1929 (poor Lassie). NJ has not elected a Republican Senator since Clifford P Pace in 1972 ( I don’t want to hear from any of you who doubt the Sports Guru mention Nicholas F Brady).

So what is it about not winning (using winning is always better than saying losing) that builds character. Take the girls basketball team at Dallas Academy. Last week they lost to Covenant, a private Christian school in Dallas 100-0. The score was 59-0 at half-time and the girls from Covenant opened up the second half by using a full-court press. Dallas Academy has eight girls on it’s varsity and about 20 girls in its high school. It is winless over the last four seasons. They specialize in teaching students struggling with “learning differences” such as short attention or dyslexia. At their next practice some of the players said they were frustrated during the game but felt it was a learning opportunity (not sure what you learn from losing by a 100 points). Freshman Shelby Hyatt was quoted as saying “Even if you are losing, you might as well keep playing.” “Keep trying, and it’s going to be OK”. A bright spot on not winning by 100 is that Mark Cuban who owns the Dallas Mavericks has invited the girls from the Dallas Academy to see a Mavericks game from the owners suite later in the season. The losers here are the girls from Covenant and the coaching staff that ran up the score. They are now trying to do the right thing by seeking a forfeit and apologizing for the margin of victory.

Which now brings me to what happens when you finally win. Last Friday night the boys basketball team from Palisades High School in Kintnersville PA snapped their 85 game not winning streak by defeating Palmerton 45-35. The 85 game streak was the third longest streak in Pennsylvania history (state record is 88 by Mifflinburg) and lasted over five seasons. When the game ended the Pirates celebration was somewhat muted and given the circumstances, perfectly appropriate. Their coach Mike Viglianti embraced his players and whispered a few things to several of them. The last time the Pirates won was the last game of the 2004-2005 season. Here’s the weird twist. 6 of the boys on the basketball team were on the roster on Palisades District 11 Class AA championship football team.

So whether you call it losing or my coach speak of “not winning”, it happens a lot in the world of Sports and in life. If you don’t win, get over it. The sun will come out tomorrow (no Annie video will ever appear in a Sports Guru blog), you will have bills to pay when you get home and I’m still better looking than you….

Here’s a little YouTube video that will help get you through an entire weekend without football.

Your Friend in Sports,

Dave the Sports Guru

Where did Nate Washington play college football?

I already know what you are thinking, who is Nate Washington? was587797I promise I will get back to Nate a little bit further down the page. This weekend the NFL (National Football League) will have their two conference championship games. The AFC (American Football Conference) game will be between the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers in Pittsburgh on Sunday evening at 6:30 pm EST and the NFC (National Football Conference) game will be in Arizona at 3 pm EST where the Philadelphia Eagles will face the Arizona Cardinals. The two winners will face each other in Super Bowl XLIII (43 for those who can’t read Roman numerals) on February 1st in Tampa Florida.

So what about our friend Nate? Nate Washington is a wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He wears number 85 and during the regular season he caught 40 passes for 631 yards and three touchdowns. Last week in the Divisional playoffs against the San Diego Chargers he caught three passes for 30 yards. For those of you who are not impressed by those numbers or for those who are still struggling with XLIII, Nate had a very nice season for Pittsburgh. Nothing really special, but a very solid season.

So why did the Sports Guru use Nate as the subject to this article? Back to Nate in a little while. I went to and downloaded the rosters for the four teams that play this weekend. Each team in the NFL can have 53 players on their active roster. 45 can dress on game day. The other eight are on the practice squad. So with some quick math, 212 players are eligible to suit up this weekend. 190 will get that chance. Also on each roster are those players that are hurt and have been placed on the injured reserve list. They can not play the rest of the season. Between the four teams there are 34 such players. Again with some quick math, 212 plus 34 equals 246 players who are listed on the four rosters.

Now here’s the fun part. Those 246 players played their college football at 112 different colleges and universities. The real number is 245 players because the Eagles punter Sav Rocca (#7) came to play in the NFL after playing fourteen seasons in the Australian Football League (AFL). 200px-saverio_roccaFor those of you who have never seen an Australian rules football game you are missing out on a lot of great stuff.

Lot’s of these colleges are well known football schools. Ten players from the University of Michigan, nine from Florida State and at least five from Alabama, Auburn, Arizona St., Georgia, Illinois, Miami (Florida), Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oregon and USC. Also on the list are two players who played football at Ivy League schools – Jon Dekker who played at Princeton, is on the injured list for Pittsburgh and Sean Morey (#87) from Brown who is a wide receiver for Arizona.

Some of the other schools on the list include lots of programs who no one would consider football powerhouses. Reggie Wells (#74) of the Cardianls went to Clarion University in Pennslyvania, Todd Herremans from the Eagles (#79) attended Saginaw Valley State in Michigan and Antwan Barnes of the Ravens (#50) attended Florida International in Miami. FIU is currently offering online courses in The History of the Beatles and the History of Rock Music

And our friend Nate Washington – he was a Tiffin Dragon. Playing football for Division II Tiffin University in Tiffin Ohio. For those of you who are not trivia buffs who know about the history of the State of Ohio, Tiffin University is named after the first governor of Ohio Edward Tiffin. stag-out-odu

So what’s the point Sports Guru? Even the little guy from the small college has a chance to be a millionaire playing on Sunday’s. For the record, Eagles and Ravens in the Super Bowl in Tampa.

Enjoy a little Aussie Rules Football from You Tube and have a great weekend.

Your friend in Sports,

Dave the Sports Guru