Sunday, December 20, 2009

Long Live The King

After dropping a game to Butler last week, we’ve bounced back and won our last two games by 30 and 16 points.  Our first victory came against the Presbyterian Blue Hose and even though they might have the single greatest team nickname in sports today, I think everyone can agree that their nickname would be much cooler if “hose” was spelled differently.  Maybe it’s just me, but the thought of a prostitution ring being the backbone of the Smurf Village economy is much more interesting than some blue tube your grandmother uses in her garden to water her geraniums.  Tell me you wouldn’t have found The Smurfs more interesting if the secondary plot featured Papa Smurf pimping out Smurfette to the entire village.  Hint: You can’t.

papa-smurfPimpin’ ain’t easy

After we beat up some Hose, we defeated the Delaware State Hornets by 16 on Saturday.  Delaware State had no white guys on their team, but they decided to play at an incredibly slow pace which seems pretty counterintuitive to me.  The game turned out to be rather boring because of this slow-paced brand of basketball.  In fact, most of the people I talked to said they changed the channel to PBS to watch Antiques Roadshow because they were so bored.  I’m not an expert on how the human brain reacts to boredom, but I think it’s safe to say that anybody who voluntarily watches Antiques Roadshow is practically bored to insanity.  (I’m just kidding, Grandma!  I’m not suggesting that you lead a boring life.  Ok, so maybe I am, but I still love you and any food you might want to send my way.)

Even though our past two games featured a blowout (in which we actually scored fewer points than Presbyterian did in the second half) and a snoozefest, a nice little side story has developed during the hours leading up to each of our games.  Five hours before every game our team goes to the gym for shoot-around, or as I like to call it, “just another reason I have to get out of bed”.  Our coaches believe (and rightfully so) that if there was no shoot-around, we would just lay around watching a Mythbusters marathon all day, which would cause us to play lethargically come game time.  At the conclusion of each shoot-around, a free throw contest is conducted with all the players on the team.  The contest rules are simple—each guy shoots one free throw per round and if they miss, they’re out.  If after a reasonable amount of time there are still a handful of guys left, the “swishes rule” is put in place by Coach Matta.  This rule treats a made shot that touches any part of the rim as a miss, forcing us to hit nothing-but-net shots or “swishes” as they are sometimes called.  That is absolutely all there is to the game.

My freshman year, when I was at least 20 pounds overweight, I was clawing to establish a reputation on a team full of future professional players and therefore took the free throw contest more seriously than my first marriage.  I wanted so badly to be labeled as a good shooter and I thought that winning the free throw contests would help make this happen.  I won seemingly every other time during my first year and considered it to be a bigger deal than it probably was.  But as my career wore on, I took on a larger role in practice and started spraying my wet jumpshot all over the faces of my teammates on a daily basis.  I no longer needed the free throw contest to prove that I had superior shooting ability which is why I kind of just stopped caring about free throws.  After all, why would I care about making shots from 15 feet away with no defense when I consistently got buckets from 25 feet away with a hand in my face?  It just didn’t make sense to me.  Because of this developed lack of motivation, I didn’t win a free throw contest my entire sophomore and junior years.  This year, though, is a completely different story.

During the previous two seasons when I simply wasn’t caring, Jon Diebler won his fair share of free throw contests and has since done his fair share of reminding me about this.  Like me, Jon prides himself on being a good shooter but he takes the free throw contests infinitely more serious than I do.  He loves to rub it in my face that he is dominating the free throw contests, but what he fails to realize is that I’m giving Randy Moss effort while he’s giving Daniel Ruettiger effort (I like to think that the comparisons hold true in another fashion in that my shooting ability is like Randy Moss’ talent and his is like Rudy’s talent).  It’s kind of like the David Kalb vs. LeBron H-O-R-S-E game every time Jon wins.  Sure Kalb and Jon might get the victory, but LeBron and I are focused on figuring out why AT&T decided to make those awful Luke Wilson commercials (more importantly, why Luke Wilson is so fat) and could care less about winning some juvenile shooting contest.  But after hearing Jon continuously smack talk about free throws (free throws? really?) for the past two years or so, I decided to shut Jon up by taking the contest a little bit more seriously the past two shoot-arounds.  Spoiler alert: I won both times.

Since I’m the back-to-back defending free throw contest champion heading into our game against Cleveland State on Tuesday, I have decided to let just about everyone affiliated with the team know about my free throw shooting prowess.  I refer to myself as the free throw king and can be heard saying things such as “long live the king” with each made free throw in practice.  As the king, I rule with an iron fist and taunt inferior free throw shooters (like Jon) whenever possible.  What’s interesting about my current reign as free throw king is that I actually missed a free throw during the Presbyterian game, but this had less to do with my ability and more to do with the fact that I couldn’t feel my left arm after I got clotheslined by a Presbyterian player and landed on it.  There’s a good chance that I’m jinxing myself with this post, but I’m not going to use the jinx as an excuse should I lose the upcoming contest (note: I’m going to use the jinx as an excuse should I lose the upcoming contest).  I plan on focusing all my efforts towards this next free throw contest so I can make myself a three-peat champion heading into Christmas break. If I’m able to pull off another win and extend my reign as free throw king at least one more game, it will undoubtedly supplant the time I scored 19 points in a practice last year as the crowning (pun absolutely intended) achievement in my career.

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Don’t forget that Club Trillion t-shirts are now available by clicking here. 100% of the proceeds benefit A Kid Again, a local charity aimed at enhancing the quality of life for children with life-threatening illnesses.  So far over 800 shirts have been sent all over the world, which translates into 200+ kids being sponsored this holiday season, solely because of the Trillion Man March.  When I say “get your shirt now”, I’m doing so not as a marketer trying to get you to spend money but instead as a friend giving you advice on how to dress much better and do something to make you feel good about yourself.  Get your shirt now! ___________________________________________________

Your awesome YouTube was sent in to me by Matt F.  There’s your shout-out, Matt.  And here’s your video.




Your Friend and My Favorite,

Mark Titus

Club Trillion Founder

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Battle of The Burg

It’s good to be back after taking some time off for finals last week.  My philosophy for finals week is to not study because if I don’t know the material by the last week of the quarter, I’m certainly not going to be able to cram almost three months of material into my brain in a few hours.  Still, just about everyone in my life assumes that since it’s finals week I must be spending so much time at the library that I know that the librarian’s middle name is Eunice, her husband played bass guitar for an 80s rock band, and her youngest grandson made the B team this year.  This is definitely not the case, but my family and friends feel sorry for me and pamper me all week, so please don’t let my secret out.

On Saturday, our record dropped to 7-2 as we lost to Butler in what many people were calling “The Battle of The Burg”.  By many people, I mean that absolutely nobody referred to it as that until I typed it out a few seconds ago.  The reason the game was dubbed as such is because it featured two alums (err…featured one alum and involved another) of Brownsburg High School in Gordon Hayward of Butler and yours truly.  Gordon is quickly becoming a household name in college basketball and I’m…well, I’m not.  I swooned about Gordon on my blog last year after we played Butler because of the way he dismantled our zone defense in very impressive fashion.  This year, he essentially picked up where he left off as he scored 24 points and had 8 rebounds.  For those who have watched him play in the past two years, his rise to stardom comes as no surprise.  But to those of us who remember Gordon when he was a sophomore in high school (my senior year of high school), his unbelievable success thus far isn’t exactly a shock but was certainly unforeseen because of a fairly obvious reason.

If you’re like me and the start of your day consists of watching at least three hours of Sportscenter, chances are you’ve seen or heard about a countless number of what I call “go-to stories”.  I call them that because they are stories that journalists can always fall back on when they have nothing else to say about an athlete.  For example, how many times have you recently watched an Arizona Cardinals game and not heard the announcers say something about how Kurt Warner used to stock shelves at a grocery store in Iowa?  I’m not sure it’s ever happened.  Announcers always tell this story partly because it highlights the long road to the NFL that a Pro Bowl quarterback had to take, but also because it is Warner’s go-to story and the announcers feel an obligation to bring it up.  Other go-to stories include Chris Andersen and Josh Hamilton battling drug addictions, Tom Brady being a late round draft pick, Brett Favre’s inability to make up his mind, Tim Tebow being homeschooled, Tim Tebow taking a knife to Filipino genitals, and Michael Jordan getting cut from his high school team.  (My go-to story when I eventually make it to the NBA will either be that I got kicked out of the draft or that I sat down and took my shoes off at half court during a 6th grade basketball game because the refs were conspiring against me)  Journalists always look for interesting facts about players that people might not know about, but what inevitably ends up happening is that they all tell the same story over and over again and annoy the Michigan out of the general public.  With that being said, let me introduce you to what will surely be Gordon’s go-to story for the rest of his college career and beyond.

Leading up to our game against Butler last year, some of the guys on the team asked me to give them tips on how to effectively guard Gordon.  Obviously we watched film on Butler, but my teammates wanted me to help them out with the nuances that can’t really be picked up on film.  I told them everything that I could, but I followed up my inside info with a disclaimer—Gordon had grown 10 inches since we played together in high school.  I remembered him as a 5’11”, 150-pound kid who looked more like he would hide inside his locker if he went to Bayside High and had curly hair, and less like he was destined to be a college basketball star.  My information obviously wasn’t of much help, because Gordon’s growth spurt turned him into one of the most versatile players in college basketball and also provided commentators and columnists with a go-to story for the rest of his career.  Despite the success he is having and is sure to have in the future, I still feel bad for Gordon because his go-to story will prompt people to ask him if he ever got made fun of in high school and if his high school teammates ever hazed him in his younger years.  I also feel bad for Gordon because I made fun of him in high school and I hazed him in his younger years.  (I’m kidding.  Sort of.  I never actually hazed Gordon or made fun of him all that much but I was quite possibly the worst teammate in the history of high school basketball.  I might start podcasting again just so I can have a high school teammate on to talk about my antics.  There are some good stories that need to be told.)  I guess there are worse go-to stories out there (Ray Lewis’ comes to mind), but it still has to suck for Gordon to know that ten years from now when he’s scoring 25 points against the Sacramento Kings on ESPN, Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson will be debating whether or not he was the victim of atomic wedgies in 9th grade.

In all seriousness, I really look forward to watching Gordon’s career progress not only because he’s incredibly talented, but because he’s a great person as well.  Being a nice guy is apparently something that they stress at Butler because their head coach, Brad Stevens, also happens to to be a class act (and also happens to have a go-to story of his own—he’s only 33, which makes him one of the youngest coaches in college basketball).  Even if Coach Stevens wasn’t a good guy, I still would have said that he was simply because he’s the first head coach of any team I’ve ever played against at Ohio State to stop me during the postgame handshake line and say something other than “good game” or “good luck”.  I don’t remember his exact choice of words, but he said something about how he enjoys reading this blog and how he was unbelievably nervous at the thought of me checking into the game and making it rain (I might have made that last part up).  Nevermind that I’ve known Coach Stevens since I was in 3rd grade and actually job shadowed him when I was in middle school.  The fact remains that the head coach at a top 25 college basketball team not only acknowledged me as more than a walk-on, but also praised my blog in the process.  Here’s to hoping that Coach Matta will be the next coach to do the same.

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Don’t forget that Club Trillion t-shirts are now available by clicking here. 100% of the proceeds benefit A Kid Again, a local charity aimed at enhancing the quality of life for children with life-threatening illnesses.  Through the donations from the Trillion Man March alone, over 175 kids will be sponsored this Christmas.  Plus, you get an awesome shirt that is sure to make you look a little better than you did before.  It will instantly become the most comfortable shirt you own and (if you’re smart) the shirt you wear on all your first dates (your “go-to shirt” if you will).  Christmas and all sorts of other holidays that I don’t celebrate and therefore don’t know a whole lot about  are right around the corner.  What I do know, though, is that a Club Trillion shirt would make a perfect gift for anybody or any holiday. ___________________________________________________

Your awesome YouTube was sent in to me by Marty N.  There’s your shout-out, Marty.  And here’s your video.




Your Friend and My Favorite,

Mark Titus

Club Trillion Founder

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Abhor More Than Four

A lot has happened since you last heard from me including a big victory for our team against a good Florida State team, a career-high five minutes of playing time for me in a game against St. Francis (PA), and Tiger Woods apparently doing something important (I overheard a conversation but surprisingly can’t find anything on the internet or TV).  Clearly the most shocking of these three events was that I played five minutes in a game, considering that my career high for minutes played before then was three.  As I checked into the game, the crowd was noticeably anxious and rightfully so.  I did, after all, have a chance to record a five trillion which would have more than doubled my previous personal best of two trillion.  What the fans failed to realize, though, is that I wasn’t all that excited because a five trillion is actually not a good thing.  I know that intuitively that makes no sense to you whatsoever, but I think you’ll ultimately understand where I’m coming from.

Simply because I write a blog about being a benchwarmer and trying to achieve the coveted trillion, people seem to have given me more authority on all things trillion than David Bowie had during the walk-off in Zoolander.  The Trillion Man March e-mails me all the time asking if a two trillion is better or worse than a one trillion (it’s better) and whether the trillion is lost when a foul is committed (it is).  I never thought of myself as the person who should be making these judgment calls, but you all did so I guess I’ll embrace my role as the trillion authority and set the rules once and for all.  My first order of business is explaining why a four trillion is the best possible trillion anyone can ever achieve.

You remember when you were a freshman in college and you thought that it would be a good idea to go back to your high school for homecoming because the high school chicks were easy and would obviously swoon over the fact that you grew your hair out and learned how to play guitar?  And then do you remember how instead of wanting you to use your fake ID to score them booze, the high school chicks just kind of looked at you funny and tried to figure out what exactly you were doing still sitting in the student section during the game?  Well, as it turns out (and I hate to be the bearer of bad news here), high schoolers don’t really think you’re all that cool once you graduate, no matter how many yards you may have rushed for your junior year or how many homers you hit your senior year (a lesson I learned the hard way).  Once you walk across the stage to get your diploma on graduation day, you are essentially crossing a coolness threshold at your high school in which there’s no turning back.  In the same way, the four minute mark is the coolness threshold for getting a trillion.

The fact is that no matter how cool or uncool you were in high school, you reached your optimal coolness (from here on out, “coolness” refers to how accepted you’d be by the current high school student body if you tried hanging out with them) during the spring of your senior year (if you were still a dweeb, well, that kinda sucks for you).  It was at this time that a serious dose of senioritis kicked in, which basically resulted in you going to school every day just to make one last ditch effort at getting Jenny Peterson to look your way.  Up until this point, your coolness slowly escalated over the course of your four years in high school and as I already said, it began declining after graduation and will continue its decline forever.  When you’re a senior in college, it’s much more uncool to hang around your high school than if you just graduated from your high school a month ago.  And if you’re 42, married, and have three kids, it’s much more uncool (and probably illegal) for you to hang around your high school than a senior in college.  Make sense?  Good.

With that whole scenario in mind, now let’s investigate the levels of obtaining a trillion from the perspective of a high school senior girl looking for a date (don’t ask me why, just go with it).  Getting a one trillion is like being a freshman in high school.  Sure the one trillion is cute, but it still can’t even drive, which means it can’t take you out for lobster and therefore doesn’t impress you all that much.  A two trillion just started getting a little facial hair but can’t even bench 135 more than twice, so you can’t honestly expect it to keep you warm at night.  A three trillion is intriguing cause he’s got a lot of patches on his letter jacket and dunked in a varsity game, but he’s lacking the confidence that you need in a man.  A four trillion, though, uses the perfect amount of hair gel, will pay for your movie and popcorn, and once beat up three guys from Jefferson High by himself.  A four trillion is perfect for you (still playing the role of high school senior girl) because any younger and you’re robbing the cradle and any older you are associating yourself with that guy who just can’t let the glory days of high school go.

For those of you who couldn’t follow along with my awful analogy, what I’m trying to say is that a trillion becomes more impressive as more minutes are added onto it (3 tril > 2 tril > 1 tril) until the four trillion threshold is crossed, at which point the five trillion plays the role of college freshman and is both unimpressive and undesirable.  But why four trillion?  Did I just pick four because that’s how many levels of high school there are and I really wanted to use that analogy so I could give subtle hints about my high school experience?  Yes.  Did I pick four just so I could make excuses as to why I let a five trillion slip away against St. Francis?  Absolutely.  Do I think it’s mildly racist that both Hey Arnold and Recess had black characters who were much better at sports than the rest of their friends?  Of course I do (but I also think that if the black characters weren’t good at sports I would have been confused).  Still, even with my ulterior motives for choosing four trillion as the best possible trillion, I do have a sliver of logic to back my sentiment.

The reason a five trillion is actually worse than a four trillion is because there has to be a point in which the player is no longer playing the role of benchwarmer soaking up the scrub time, but is instead playing the role of “guy who could make his way into the rotation if he didn’t choose to do absolutely nothing with his opportunity”.  Someone who is playing five minutes in a game and isn’t doing anything of importance is basically just wasting everyone’s time.  The fact that they’ve managed to get more than four minutes means that they shouldn’t be treated as a scrub for that particular game, because scrub time officially starts with four minutes left and a 20 point lead.  As such, because they haven’t been dubbed a “scrub” (“dub a scrub” is a fun phrase) they have an obligation to entertain the crowd with their play instead of trying to be inefficient by getting a trillion.  When scrubs get trillions, it’s riveting stuff.  When guys playing five or more minutes get trillions, it’s borderline depressing.

As far as why four minutes is the designated scrub time, it’s pretty simple – the last media timeout takes place at the four minute mark.  In case you don’t know what that last sentence means, college basketball games are broken into segments of four minutes so that the broadcast companies can take breaks to show commercials and keep their sponsors happy.  The last media timeout is the last guaranteed time in which teams will huddle around each other and discuss strategy, which is why it signifies the start of scrub time.  Coaches don’t want to have to talk over the offense and defense with scrubs (or look us in the eye for that matter), so they wait until the last media timeout to sub us in, and expect us to run out the clock.  If a coach puts a player in before the last media timeout (like Coach Matta did with me against St. Francis), he is saying that he wouldn’t mind discussing strategy with said player and is basically taking away the player’s status as a scrub for that game.  It’s a complicated science that few people fully understand.

Because I checked into the St. Francis game with five minutes left to play, my title of scrub had been forfeited.  I was no longer eligible for a good trillion (that is, a four trillion or less), so I was forced to change my style of play accordingly.  This is why I took two shots (that would have gone down if I wasn’t robbed), had an assist, and talked an inordinate amount of smack while I was playing.  It was the first time in my career that I was a “normal” player and had to change my attitude to accommodate my label change.  I was now playing the role of “guy who could make his way into the rotation” and I felt all sorts of pressure as a result.  According to my new label, I had a chance of parlaying my five minutes into a permanent stripping of the scrub label with a solid performance.  I put forth a good deal of effort to be as efficient as possible and make the most of my opportunity.  Instead, I went 0-for-2 in five uninspiring minutes and returned to my role as walk-on benchwarmer the following game.  Order in the universe has been restored.

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Don’t forget that Club Trillion t-shirts are now available by clicking here. 100% of the proceeds benefit A Kid Again, a local charity aimed at enhancing the quality of life for children with life-threatening illnesses.  As of right now, over 550 shirts have been sold which translates into over 120 kids getting sponsored this Christmas, simply because of the contributions from the Trillion Man March.  I’m truly blown away by the success of the t-shirt deal and how much money its raised for a great cause.  Keep up the good work. ___________________________________________________

Streak for the Cash Group Leader: T. Rittenhouse (streak of 15 wins)

Streak for the Cash Group Losers: R. DeCeglio, C. Heller, B. Aldrich, J. Zelek, D. Gerdeman, T. Read, K. Schomaker, and A. Victory (streak of 9)

Your awesome YouTube was sent in to me by Rick W.  With Jimmy V week happening right now on ESPN, chances are you’ve seen this 100 times.  Make it 101. There’s your shout-out, Rick. And here's your video.




Your Friend and My Favorite,

Mark Titus

Club Trillion Founder