Nick's Knacks Nick's Knacks

  • Bubbling beneath the surface

    Posted by Nick Vitrano

    I think I’m one of the few who actually enjoys the NFL’s pre-season.  I’m not going to pretend that the games are exciting to watch from a competitive standpoint, because I’m not a liar.  These games are brutal.  But I do enjoy watching the roster take shape, keeping an eye on the bubble guys and studying their growth from fake week 1 to the final roster cut.  

    A lot of that delight is merely the byproduct of pacing. 

    The season is long in terms of months, but painfully short when you consider the 16 precious meaningful snapshots that determine how long we suffer through a Wisconsin winter.  I’m always excited when training camp rolls around each summer, but careful not to go 2009 Arkansas Razorbacks:

    Pacing.  It’s all about the controlled emotional response.  I try to milk gratification from each day of the NFL calendar, for sure as the sun will rise in the east, the season will be over before we know it.

    But for some reason, I can barely contain myself this year.  I know the disappointing Brewers season has a lot to do with it, but, just shy of the 3rd preseason contest, I’m ready to light this candle for real.  A quick YouTube trip down memory lane with a couple co-workers just turned into 30 minutes, and then we come across this.  How can you not want it to be September 9th?

  • Happy birthday!

    Posted by Nick Vitrano

    Maybe I’m just an unfeeling, ice water veined, callous grump.  Or maybe I’m just a bitter fan.  Or maybe I’m jealous.  I don’t know, but I’m not tearing up over the Milwaukee Brewers’ decision to cut ties with Randy Wolf.  In fact, my only source of sadness lies in my inability to any longer use my handful of Teen Wolf sound bites in reference to ol’ #43.

    Randy Wolf got a pretty raw deal this year in terms of wins and losses.  He had a stretch of four consecutive games in which the bullpen blew the save for him.  In fact, the stretch was 6 of 9 at one point in the season.  OK, fine.  Welcome to the 2012 Milwaukee Brewers.  The bottom line is that Randy Wolf was not a part of this team’s 2013 plans and was, as a lame duck hurler, occupying a roster spot better suited for a look at one of our young arms.  Oh yeah, and Wolf was sucking terribly this season!

    Like I said, tough draw at times, but we’re talking about a season-long stat line that averages less than 6 innings pitched per outing and an ERA of 5.69.  I don’t care what the bullpen did once it took over, Wolf wasn’t getting the job done when he was toeing the rubber.   Braden Looper once tallied a 14-7 record for the Crew.  Anybody upset they didn’t bring back his 5+ ERA in 2010?

    “But on his birthday, Nick?”

    The Milwaukee Brewers gave Randy Wolf the best birthday present ever: here’s the rest of your cash for 2012 (more than $2 million) and a $1.5 million buyout for 2013.  Here is $3.5 million dollars and a clean break to go latch on somewhere else.  And believe me, there will be a team that recruits the services of Randy Wolf. 

    Good guy who had a good run at the back end of a rotation that had a great 2011.  I never will forget Wolf’s game 4 of the NLCS in St. Louis last year.  But then again, I’ll never forget Chumbawamba, either.  Doesn’t mean “Tubthumpin’” is on my iPod.

     

  • Gotta love Nike’s “concern”

    Posted by Nick Vitrano

    Thank goodness I don’t make enough money ever to have to be concerned with how to tell my daughter “no” when she begs for a $315 pair of basketball shoes.  I’m pretty sure, as she grows older and more aware of her socio-economic environment, she won’t even think to entertain that discussion.  At least I hope so.  My greatest desire is that I will succeed in raising her to question, as I do now, the sanity in asking customers to fork over that kind of coin for three pieces of leather, a rubber sole, and some stitching – oh, and some Sri Lankan labor.  Man, I’m really starting to sound like my own father now.

    $315 is the suggested retail price for the soon-to-be launched LeBron James basketball kicks from Nike.  Yep, $315.  Incredible, on so many levels, but such is the way of the marketplace.  Nike, like any business, has a commodity for which people are willing to grossly overpay.  I guarantee dust will not be settling on any boxes of LeBrons in the Nike warehouses.  Demand is high…so goes the price.   It’s like an athlete on the free agent market – you get what you can get, and Nike can get $315 a pair.

    In advance of the launch, Nike has taken unprecedented steps to prevent anarchy by informing retailers that they will not be permitted to take pre-sale orders and they must forfeit midnight releases of the shoes.  Why?  Because, as we witness ever day after Thanksgiving, people are stupid.  And when people are irrational, people get hurt, sometimes killed.

    But here’s my question for Nike:  As you feign concern for your customer by mandating safety measures for the sale of your shoe – what are doing to protect that 13-year-old kid once he leaves the store?  Yeah, I thought so.

  • Inspiration in studio

    Posted by Nick Vitrano

    I am so excited to meet this gentleman in person today.  Cody Rye is in the studio with us for today’s show.  Check out the E:60 on Cody from last October:

  • Closing question(s)

    Posted by Nick Vitrano

    It was tough getting my daughter down on Sunday night, so my wife and I DVRd the closing ceremonies of the 30th Olympiad with the intent of taking it all in later that night.  It didn’t happen.  Before I go any further, I’m going to go all juvenile for a second.  Pardon me for a moment.  I’m a sucker for the Olympics, so I’m legitimately going to miss the competition, but I think I’m going to miss more giggling every time I pulled up my DVR list to see “XXX Summer Olympics” in the selection window.  It never got old.  How long before Jackie Treehorn grabs a hold of that and runs with it?

    OK, back to adulthood.

    Like I said, my wife and I had intended to watch the closing ceremonies on Sunday, but ended up not getting around to it until last night.  I have a lot of questions.  Like: where was George Michael at the start of Freedom 90?  Initially, when the intro dragged on and Michael eventually surfaced in verse 2, I figured the dude was going to do a medley.  But then he sang the whole song.  So…why didn’t we just take it from the top? 

    Most of my questions are of that nature, so I won’t belabor this post, but I do have one legitimate question: for nations of an extreme controlled state, like North Korea and China, did their athletes have any idea who these performers were? 

    The cameras never roamed to those delegations during the closing ceremonies.  I’m assuming that was a calculated decision, designed to preserve the perception of a great time had by all, for I’m surmising that the blank looks on the faces of those “partying” under the aforementioned flags would have made for bad TV.

    I was very entertained by London’s wrap, but I truly felt for those countries whose governments do not permit their populations to experience the simple pleasures that we do in the free world.  Stuff like this, for example.  I'm guessing Dong Dong will never have the opportunity to see this:

  • Crikey, mate!

    Posted by Nick Vitrano

    This past weekend, I scheduled yard work around the men’s team archery semifinal between the U.S. and South Korea.  Such is the impact of the Olympics on the American populace.  Sports we otherwise could not care less about command our undivided attention.  Equestrian, kayaking, table tennis, fencing, hand ball – we watch it all.  In fact 13% more of us are watching this stuff than did four years ago in Bejing. 

    Though many will watch something like synchronized diving or synchronized swimming simply because it is the product being offered (the George Costanza “because it’s on TV” argument), I legitimately enjoy taking in the peripheral competitions.  Maino, on the other hand, he’s been a little more outspoken against the inclusion of the aforementioned in the Games.  Perhaps this photo of the synchronized swim team from Australia will change his mind:

     

    Thanks to listener Jim for sending along this pic with the following text:

    “Tell Maino we need MORE synchronized swimming in the Olympics.  In fact, we could use a whole channel just for synchronized swimming.”

  • There's no other word for it

    Posted by Nick Vitrano

    You can call it “getting tight.”  You can call it “nerves.”  You can call it “feeling the weight of the moment.”  You can sugar-coat the truth in any number of layers of semantics.  But the moment the tightness, the nerves, or the weight of the moment manifests itself in what we witnessed last night in London…it’s an all-out choke.

    The United States Men’s Gymnastics team choked.

    That word has always been a source of debate in the world of sports.  Some feel that labeling one as such diminishes the achievement of the other.  Some feel the term ought to be reserved for only the mightiest of combatants or the most magnificent of collapses.  I’ve always felt it is merely a human condition.  No matter one’s skill level, no matter to what degree one is favored, no matter the stage, people simply choke.

    It’s brutal to experience.  It might be worse to watch.  It’s quicksand (as so eloquently described by Shane Falco):

    Let's hope that the chicks don't follow suit this evening.  And yes, I know it's already over, but I have sequestered myself from the results in order to watch "as live" with my wife this evening - not reading Facebook, not checking Twitter, not using the internet (except to post this), not even listening to the radio.  Good thing it's an afternoon of meetings around here.

  • Time to close that Twitter account, Ax-Man

    Posted by Nick Vitrano

    I don’t have a problem with professional athletes using Twitter.  I follow them.  I like “getting to know them” off their respective fields of play.  Unfortunately for the professional athlete, little good comes from entering the realm of social media, and too few are thick-skinned enough to withstand the barrage of d-bagery that comes with putting oneself out there for the world to engage.

    When things are going well, it’s not so bad out there.  Media, fans…we applaud guys for interacting with the common man, for opening up their everyday lives to the ones who buy the tickets, buy the gear, buy the cable/dish packages, all of which essentially fund the players’ salaries.

    But the moment things go badly, and inevitably things will go badly, enter the losing proposition of social media.  At this point, we angrily recommend that the athlete “get off of Twiter and focus on the game.”  Of course, if he does just that, then we rip him for withdrawing, for not being himself, for fleeing when it's time to face the music.

    It’s usually around this point that the athlete fatally trips over his own feet.  He can’t help but get in his own way.  Few of us can.  It’s human nature to defend oneself from the slings and arrows of (often) irrational archers.  Well, hello John Axford:

    John Axford ‏@JohnAxford: To the people that like to talk crap every time I tweet...I apologize for ruining your life! PS - you're not original and nor do I care!

    Three words in, and already you know this isn’t going to go well.  Cue the slow motion “Noooooooooo.”  Way to go, Ax-Man, errr Brad Pitt.  You just did exactly what every jerk out there, errr Kevin Spacey, wanted you to do.

    You can’t get that one back.  The internet never forgets, never forgives.  It's time to shut down that account, buddy.  You clearly can't handle it. 

    What’s in the box?!

  • Not bad for a guy with asthma

    Posted by Nick Vitrano

    You've undoubtedly seen the cinnamon challenge on YouTube.  Scratch that, you've undoubtedly seen the cinnamon challenge fail on YouTube.  If you haven't:

    #1 - Where have you been?

    #2 - Make sure you have not just eaten, go to YouTube, search "cinnamon challenge," watch.

    It’s definitely amusing, the first few times, but after a while, the terror on the faces of the participants is quite unsettling.  It’s tough to watch.  Granted, each dons the wax wings and flies in pursuit of the sun on his own accord, so the well of sympathy runs a little dry.  Like “Counter Point” in the movie Airplane:

    Success is not easily obtained in this endeavor.  But if it’s going to be secured, it’s likely by a dude wearing a Honey Badger vs. Cobra t-shirt:

    Well played, Nob.

     

  • They’re Not Coming, Pass the Cupcakes

    Posted by Nick Vitrano

    There is an inherent risk to planning a party of any kind – the possibility that, despite RSVPs to the contrary, no one will show up.

    Music playing, snacks laid out, drinks on ice…empty room.  Tick, tick, tick.  Check your phone.  Tick, tick, tick.  Look out the window.  Tick, tick, tick.  What’s the time?  Tick, tick, tick.  It’s a pretty lonely place - not that I know from experience, but a guy I know, he had that happen to him once and he told me that it really sucks.

    As deflating as the experience may be in solitude, multiply that ten-fold when you take the party to a public place, say a bar – embarrassment on full display.  You feel sick watching them watch the door.  And though they put up a solid front, the uninvited masses can easily sniff out a plan gone awry.

    It was great, in concept: 

    Your friend is turning 21, so a bar is natural setting for your plans to unfold.  You’ve baked several dozen cupcakes, put on your finest dress…wait, is that a dress or just a really long shirt without pants?...invited everyone from work.  You and your two friends are going to hit the bar at about 8:30 just to make sure you can score enough adjacent tables, but the party won’t get underway until 9ish.  Or 9:15.  Or 9:45.  Don’t worry, there are more coming.  10:00.  10:15.  They probably just got hung up at work.  10:30.  10:45.

    Thanks for the cupcakes last night, random 21-year-old turning chick.  The red velvet were just OK, but the marble were fantastic!

  • No Denying That Cougar Sighting

    Posted by Nick Vitrano

    A trail cam in Marquette County, MI captured, far and away, the best shot of a wild cougar that I have ever seen. The Michigan Wildlife Conservancy has confirmed the photo as authentic, so no photoshop conspiracy here, folks.  Crazy.  That's one healthy lookin' kitty:

    The full story is HERE.

  • "You'll be stone dead in a moment."

    Posted by Nick Vitrano

    On September 1, 2011, the Tampa Bay Rays and St. Louis Cardinals trailed their Wild Card fields by 9 and 8.5 games respectively.  The Rays lost the ALDS to the Rangers.  The Cardinals won the whole shebangy.  Is it over?  No.  Do I feel like the 2012 Milwaukee Brewers are anywhere near the 2011 Rays or Cards?  No.

    Again, there is always hope until the standings read E.  But here’s where I’m at with the Crew…Tuesday, July 17, 2012:

    Submit your movie scene analogy for a shot at a pair of tix to tonight’s game in Milwaukee (I know, just what you want).  We’ll select at random from all who enter and alert you over the air today at 11:55.