2010-05-31T08:52:42.728-05:00It's been over a month since I last posted to the blog, but it's not that I've abandoned writing. Actually, I've been spending a lot of time at 750Words.com, where I've been writing on a daily basis. Truth be told, I've written over 50,000 words there in May alone.
2010-04-28T08:30:00.418-05:00The other day I took my seats from Old Comiskey Park out of the house and onto the back porch. As part of their centennial celebration (which I alone am hosting), I thought it would be nice to sit in them under the bright blue sky like people used to do for decades when they were actually installed at Comiskey Park.
2010-04-27T08:30:02.113-05:00Whenever I make it to the after life (even if I don't make it to heaven), I hope that I get a chance to talk to the dogs I've known well in my life. In particular, I'd like to talk to Yogi, the deaf dog that we currently "own".
2010-04-20T08:30:00.993-05:00If you know me personally, you probably know that I'm "into" technology. And if you don't know me personally but are reading this blog, you'd probably guess the same -- if only because this blog has been in existence since 2003.
2010-04-19T08:30:00.686-05:00Despite taking a hearty break to watch the Miami - North Carolina college baseball game on Saturday night, I was able to watch a fair portion of Saturday afternoon, evening, and late night's game between the Cardinals and Mets. Fox probably didn't intend to sign up for a 20-inning marathon, but that's what they ended up with.
2010-04-15T20:12:37.046-05:00Despite that the technology is infinitely easier for me to access, I'm finding it harder to blog regularly than ever before. I really want to blog regularly. I have plenty of things I want to talk about. But I'm just not making the effort so far.
2010-04-12T08:30:00.508-05:00One home stand and two intra-division series are in the books for the White Sox and the results are simply disappointing. At the conclusion of week 1 of the 2010 season the White Sox find themselves in last place in the AL Central. Sure, it's only 6 games out of 162, but taking only 1 of 3 games from both the Indians and Twins isn't a good way to start the 2010 campaign. What's most disappointing about it is how poor the offense performed.
2010-04-08T18:45:49.306-05:00Given that the regular season is 162 games long, it's hard to say that any single game determines a team's course for the season or decides a team's playoff chances. But when the end of the season rolls around, you can often look back and think "what if" about a game here or there.
2010-04-07T08:30:01.789-05:00Granted, this isn't an official Calvin and Hobbes cartoon, but I got a kick out of it:
2010-04-06T08:30:01.551-05:00In the opening day broadcast, someone on the Sox broadcast team made mention of the White Sox playing small ball this season. It was probably Ed Farmer. It's an interesting point.
2010-04-05T18:50:43.006-05:00We've been dormant here for awhile, but it's time to bring the blog back to life. And what better day to do it than Opening Day? Exactly. So here we go... just a short entry today, but there will be more.
2009-10-09T09:06:38.299-05:00We couldn't go a week without updating the blog, so here's an entry. Like was said in a recent post, we know nothing. Given all of the travel this week, that's particularly true. I was surprised to learn yesterday that the Broncos are 4-0. I nearly missed all of last weekend's NFL slate.
2009-10-02T08:18:37.192-05:00It's been a busy week and I have a bunch of thoughts. Since none of them are coherent or linked to each other, I'll make a bulleted list (which will be numbered, since I haven't fixed the bulleting issue yet):The host of the 2016 Summer Olympics will be announced today. As you could surely guess, we here at The Book of Mike are hoping Chicago gets the games. Whether they do or not, Chicago has surely pulled out all of the big guns for their bid. A host of American Olympic champions are in Copenhagen to help demonstrate Chicago and the US's sincere interest in the bid. But more than that, Chicago / the US sent the most recognizable and influential African-American (and possibly the most well known American in the world currently) to help push for the bid. How will this work out? Will it be the final push that puts Chicago over the top? If it is, will Rio and Tokyo feel that the US simply outmuscled the rest of the world to get these games? If Chicago doesn't get the games, what will we make of the late push by our national icon? No, I'm not talking about President Obama. I'm talking about Oprah Winfrey. I hope we didn't overplay our Oprah card here.The Hurricanes take on the Oklahoma Sooners this weekend. It's a home game for the Canes, which is good news. There should be a big crowd too (70-75k), which is great too. A night game at the Orange Bowl with a big crowd like this was usually good news for the Canes. Will it be Saturday night? No idea. The Canes get two defensive linemen back and one top wide receiver (all of whom missed the Virginia Tech debacle last week), but they'll be without a starting safety. Hopefully the Canes at least represent themselves well, even if they're not able to win the game.The Cardinals have a bye week this week. Yes, it's unfortunately early. As seems to be the case for the Cardinals. It's probably a conspiracy by the powers that be from within the league to annually give the Cards a way-too-early bye week so that they can struggle through the middle and latter parts of the season. I'd look into it to confirm it, but I'm too lazy.Despite the bye week and the crushing loss the Cards suffered heading into it, the Cardinals are talking big today. It's amazing, isn't it? The Cardinals are trash talking about a franchise weakness during their 1-2 start.Reports came out this week that the University of Florida is prepared for a flesh-eating zombie attack. While this may sound like non-sense, or -- as the university is now saying -- an attempt at leviy on their part, I can assure you it's serious. I have been to Gainesville and I can definitely see how a zombie attack is a possibility. All those freaks can't be mouth breathing hillbillies. The odds are that at least some of them are actually zombies.In other news from the University of Florida this week, it was reported that due to concussion symptoms, Tim Tebow was not able to watch television or read. Actually, it was reported that Tebow "can't watch television or read." What this left unclear was whether Tim Tebow can read when he is not suffering from symptoms of a concussion or not. Maybe he can't read. And maybe the inspiration for his locker room speeches really is Varsity Blues. Staying in bizzaro world, David Letterman admitted to affairs and an extortion attempt on his show last night. If talk radio and Twitter are indicative of public opinion on the matter, Letterman is being lauded for the situation. Frankly, this amazes us. While we've always been fans of Letterman, talk of affairs is hardly praise or applause worthy. That's all we've got for today. Pathetic, we know, but we're still getting back into this regular blogging thing.[...]
2009-10-01T08:02:37.496-05:00Talk of curses is fairly commonplace in sports. One curser, however, doesn't get much publicity and that's because it is rarely invoked. But as an Arizona Cardinals fan, I feel obliged to discuss The Curse of the Cardinals and to apologize to fans of the Carolina Panthers fans.
2009-09-29T08:21:17.896-05:00Despite last week's rant, I'm still reading the Wall Street Journal's sports page (but only because it shows up -- gratis -- on my front lawn each day). Today, the WSJ partially redeemed itself with an interesting, yet highly incomplete, article about a new "trend" in sports stadium financing.Here's a summarized version (although you're welcome to read the entire article here): to help finance new stadium projects (or wholesale refurbishments of existing stadiums), some teams (colleges) are selling "seat mortgages" to fans who are willing to make a long term committment. This is entirely different from a personal seat license (PSL), which has been common for at least a decade. PSL's give fans the right to buy tickets. They're simply a money grab.These seat mortgages are very different. While they're still a money grab, they work very differently from PSLs. Fans who pay up front for their seat mortgage are guaranteed rights to their particular seat for a long term (30, 40, or 50 years). Cal-Berkeley has sold a few thousand such seats for $175,000 to $220,000 each.While that obviously sounds like a lot (plus you're paying interest -- or as the school likes to call it, an "administrative fee"), it may not be such a bad investment. If you're a lifelong fan (or planning to be one), you can guarantee yourself tickets for a long time. By paying today, you protect yourself against future price increases (leaving you to assume that football tickets continue to increase in price as they have over the past 10-20 years -- which is a big assumption).Should your team do well and should prices increase over the years, you could theoretically profit from reselling your seats (possibly even at the prevailing "face" value) for a tidy profit.What's not clear is how this works for the school/team in the long run. They're guaranteeing a lot for money up front (details here). This is great in terms of the facility enhancements it permits. But what happens to alumni giving and ticket revenue in the long run?Cal is selling their best / highest price seats (between the 30's on the home sideline) for the next few decades. Today those seats require a $1,200 annual donation per seat, plus the purchase of season tickets. In the future, that annual revenue stream is gone. So Cal has to be sure that their $200,000 price tag is worth it.Should the school need money in 2035 from football revenue to help fund women's basketball or men's baseball, will they be able to raise that money? Today they likely can, from football related donations and ticket sales. That becomes tougher in the future when the prime donatable seats are pre-sold and no longer require an ongoing donation.Granted, I haven't done all the math here. And surely the folks at a school as prestigous as Cal have. But Cal has clearly placed their bets on facility enhancement and has put future revenue streams at risk in order to do so. Is that the right risk to take? Time will tell.Interestingly, the WSJ article doesn't explore this angle at all. They simple laud the concept and the creativity of financing projects. This is interesting. Again, not to blame the WSJ for the current financial situation in the USA / world. But as with numerous other dubious financial schemes that have developed over the past few decades, the WSJ lauds the short term upside and completely ignores the potential long term implications.It's fine for the paper to be so short-sighted (being as such will likely cause them to not exist in a few more years). But the rest of us should keep our eyes open and think things through a little farther down the line.[...]
2009-09-28T08:07:54.028-05:00Going into the football weekend, my hopes were high. Both the Canes and Cardinals had "big" games against well respected opponents.Despite that the Canes were on the road against Virginia Tech, I thought Jacory Harris, Mark Whipple, and the boys would find a way to win. To be honest, I thought the Canes would win big. It turned out to be pretty much the opposite of that. If there was a silver lining in Saturday's loss, it was how true sophomore QB Jacory Harris handled himself in the post-game press conference. It would have been easy for Harris to blame receivers (notably TE Jimmy Graham) for dropped passes, just as it would have been easy for Harris to blame his struggles on the weather. He did neither. Harris held himself accountable. Hopefully that mentality helps him to turn it around this coming weekend against Oklahoma.Don't get me wrong though: not every cloud has a silver lining. Go stand outside the next time it's raining. Let me know if any silver drops in your yard.The lack of a silver lining brings me to the Cardinals game. Which was just horrific. The Cardinals offense piled up some decent stats (300+ yards in the air). But much of that was meaningless. Not only did the Colts generate more yards of offense, they scored far more points too. Points are what count, obviously.Now the Cardinals find themselves at 1-2. On a positive note, the Super Bowl champion Steelers are also 1-2 and the Cardinals are only 1 game out of the division lead. But in reality, the Cardinals have looked pretty awful through three games. In the opener, they were sluggish. Talk to a Jaguars fan about game two and you'll hear that the Cardinals caught a break with a missed pass interference call (which is probably true), soon after which came the blocked FG/TD return, and then the rout was on. Jags fans would say it was more of a momentum change and everything falling apart after that. Based on how the Jags played yesterday, maybe that's plausible. Time will tell... Then, last night, the Cardinals were simply out played. If the Cards and Colts faced off ten more times, I'm not convinced the Colts would win each meeting (better execution on the Cardinals part -- not fumbling, completing some open passes, etc -- could lead to beter results). But the Colts would win the majority of the rematches.Now the Cardinals have a bye week. While it's exceedingly early, it comes at a good time. The Cardinals need to regroup. A lot needs to be fixed. Hopefully the Cardinals rediscover themselves in the coming two weeks. Otherwise the Football Outsiders pre-season prediction of doom and gloom is probably right.Other thoughts from the weekend:TO deserves some credit for handling himself well in yesterday's post-game press conference. It was the first game in memory where TO didn't catch a pass. The media battered him with questions about his happiness with the playcalling and the like. TO didn't bite. He kept it professional.Possibly the only prediction (thought) that I had right about the weekend was picking the Bengals to beat the Steelers. The Bengals are better than people think and the Steelers are worse.I'm not sure what to make of the Jaguars (who looked awful against the Cardinals) or the Texans (who continue to confuse people). I'm out of my survival pool league after failing to understand either of these teams (I had the Texans).College football is wide open this season. Miami blew their chance at earning a national title birth with the loss against Virginia Tech. However, the Hokies blew a door open and are now officially in the hunt. If/when Florida or Texas slips up, my guess is that VT finds themselves in the BCS title game picture.Alth[...]
2009-09-25T08:11:14.294-05:00With the White Sox having tanked and the Marlins having fallen out of the race, my sporting attention has nearly fully turned to football at this point. Here are some thoughts heading into the weekend:Hurricanes / College FootballI can't remember the last time the media was so high on the Canes. It likely was in 2002 or 2003 when the Canes were still dominant. But even then it felt like the media was more likely to find fault with the Canes than they are now. That makes me uneasy. Yes, the Canes have done a lot well in their first two games. They've been impressive. But, as I've said before, Miami could have easily lost the opener to Florida State. And last week against Georgia Tech, the 'Canes didn't display a killer instinct late in the game. While Georgia Tech didn't do anything to put themselves back into the game, the Canes left the door open for the Yellow Jackets to do so. Can the Canes get away with that again this weekend? As a Miami fan, I hope we don't have to find out. Hopefully Mark Whipple and Jacory Harris have found some holes in Virginia Tech's offense to exploit.Other thoughts:Florida faces a pedestrian Kentucky team. The Gators need to dominate or doubts will start to surface about their alleged dominance. Yes, they are the defending national champions. But that was last season.Notre Dame suffered a key injury to a star wide receiver last week and Jimmy Clausen is banged up heading into Saturday night's showdown with Purdue. But to re-insert themselves into the BCS discussion, ND needs to dominate Purdue. While Purdue is surely more talented than they displayed last week against Northern Illinois, this weekend's game is one that Notre Dame needs to dominate.How will USC fare this weekend? They'll surely win. Washington State is simply inferior. But will the Trojans dominate? They're favored by 40+ points. Sure, the Trojans beat Wazoo by more than 40 last year. But that was last year. Mark Sanchez is gone. And 40 points is more than USC has scored in the past two games combined.Cardinals / NFLI'm uncharacteristically optimistic about the Cardinals chances this weekend in prime time against the Colts. It's odd to see the Cards listed as favorites in this game, even if it is a Cardinals home game. The Colts are the Colts. Even without Tony Dungy, Marvin Harrison, and (for the time being) Bob Sanders, the Colts are a quality football team that seemingly wins 12 games every year. The Cardinals won 12 games once... sort of. Last season they won 9 games in the regular season and three in the playoffs. That's 12 in one season (over parts of two calendar years). They've never won 12 regular season games in a single season. Heck, there have been stretches of two and even three seasons when the Cardinals didn't win 12 games.Yet I feel confident that the Cardinals will win on Sunday night. Yes, I know they're facing a defense that hardly ever gives up a passing touchdown, but that is susceptible to a rushing attack. And yes, I know that's nearly the opposite of what fits best for the Cardinals offense. This, my friends, is the life as a Cardinals fan. Delusion is the only way to get yourself through.Other thoughts:I'm excited about Mike Vick's debut for the Eagles this weekend. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a Vick supporter (but I do believe he's entitled to have a job -- even a high paying one like he has). That the Eagles gave Vick a home gives me all the more reason to dislike the team. So that's great. And don't buy the talk that Andy Reid doesn't know what he's going to do with Vick this weekend. That's an outright lie. He knows. Vick will play. The real storyline here is how he's t[...]
2009-09-24T08:29:27.799-05:00For some reason The Wall Street Journal has seen fit to add a sports page to their newspaper. They did this about a year ago. It's literally a page -- a single page. In many ways, it's fortunate that their sports coverage is simply a page and not a section. That's because their coverage is awful. Simply awful.
There are no errors in my transciption of the text that ran in today's edition of the paper. The online version has seemingly been corrected.
Spanish Switcheroo: In 2000, the Spanish basketball team, playing in the intellectually disabled category, took the gold in the Sydney Paralympic Games. Turns out, 10 of the 12 players weren't disabled at all. The players were reportedly instructed to act dumb and slow their scoring when they played too well. When reporters back in Spain and were encouraged to grow beards and wear hats after the games were over to disguise themselves back in Spain when reporters became suspicious.
2009-09-22T13:19:15.685-05:00Generally speaking, Miami fans tend to feel that they are disrespected by the media. As a small, private school with a controversial history (in football terms at least), fans of The U tend to think that the media is quick to speak ill of the program.
And that's what makes college football so fun. The season is short. Every game counts. The players are young and (for the most part) inexperienced. Small things can change a game, a season, and a career. It's stressful, unpleasant, and exhilirating all at the same time.
Miami at Virginia Tech, Saturday (3:30 p.m. ET): I've given up trying to figure out the Hokies. They had been outgained by Nebraska 343-190 before producing a game-winning 88-yard drive. Either they'll intercept Harris three times, run back a punt and win 19-17, or they'll suffer a fate worse than Georgia Tech.
2009-09-21T09:21:30.063-05:00I had a recurring thought over the weekend: it's time to bring the blog back. Now, this isn't like reuniting The Blues Brothers. There's no need to track down Jake, Elwood, and the rest of the boys. It's just me. To bring the blog back I'd simply have to start writing once in awhile.So let's start now.I'm a bit torn about it... well, at least about where to start. Maybe I should start by looking for the Royal We, which is apparently already lost. Or maybe I should start with a recap of what's gone on in my life over the past few years since this blog was actually active. There's been a lot, obviously. But that's quite a bit to get into, so I'll leave the for later.Instead I'll start where I spent much of the past focus of this blog: on sports.First, the NFL and more specifically the Cardinals: Yesterday's win over (a probably not very good team in) the Jaguars was impressive. Yes, there was plenty of room for improvement (notably on punt returns, where Antrel Rolle was horrific and with Beanie Wells ability to hold onto the ball). But overall it was a dominating win. And not just that, but a dominating win on the East Coast (with an early start for a team that must have felt like it was an AM kickoff). Even if the Jaguars turn out to be a bad team, the Cardinals proved another point: they beat a bad team soundly. That's what good teams are supposed to do.On the quarterback front, I will admit that I was one (of many) who was worried about Kurt Warner after the loss in the opening game. Kurt looked downright awful and that came on the heels of a pretty dreadful preseason. But he sure looked a lot better (that's an understatement) yesterday. Maybe the health of Steve Breaston (and Anquan Boldin) had something to do with that. Time will tell. Hopefully Warner found the fountain of youth (maybe he did, having been in Florida and so near St. Augustine).In yesterday's game I found a new respect for Steve Breaston. The Cardinals offense operated completely differently with him in the lineup (and Boldin at or near 100% health). Without him last week the Cardinals offense looked slow and rusty. Yes, Breaston's the Cards number 3 receiver. But he probably wouldn't be on any other team in the league; on some teams Steve would probably be the #1 option.Next week's game against the Colts looms large. After it, the Cards head into their bye week. A win will be very important to an up and down team. The Colts may not be what they once were (that's unknown at the moment and we'll probably have a better idea after tonight's tilt). But even if they're not, the game will be a nice measuring stick for the Cardinals.The biggest positive for the Cardinals from yesterday's game was that they proved they're still capable of playing excellent, top level football. What remains to be seen is whether they can sustain it. Until they put together a stretch of solid games, the doubt about the team and the fear of the up-and-down rollercoaster ride (on defense, special teams and even on offense) the team can provide will remain. Playing well against the Colts -- actually, winning not just playing well -- will help to dispel some of those fears. This Cardinals team does not need to be 1-2 heading into the bye week. If they are, their season is likely done. I don't think the sea change in the locker room has taken hold enough to overcome that.NFL CommentsIf you ever doubted the existence of an East Coast media bias, you only need to see the hype surrounding the Jets-Pats game from this weekend to prove that it exists. Some called this a "Super B[...]
2009-03-23T12:59:43.869-05:00Yes, that she's in Gator gear makes it that much worse for me, but it really wouldn't be any better if she was in the colors of any other school or team.
2009-02-07T09:54:14.199-05:00Just as I had started to move on with my life and accept that the Cardinals lost the Super Bowl, in last-minute, heart-breaking fashion at the "hands" of admitted drug dealer and rabbit killer from Ohio State (who, despite his un-Disney past, managed to get a parade down Disney's Main Street in his honor), the Cardinals as we knew them began to fall apart.Here's an animated interpretation of what's transpired between the Cardinals and their fans since the end of the Super Bowl:Charlie Brown plays the role of the loyal, but constantly burned Cardinals fan.Lucy plays the Arizona Cardinals, specifically their front office.The "signed document" represents the implied contract between the Cardinals and their fans. In real life this is represented by the Cardinals new stadium, their better record (of late) in the draft, and recent dedication to actually fielding a competitive team.What is not seen in the interpretative short is what happens as Charlie Brown approaches the football held by Lucy. Here's a run down:1. Free agent Karlos Dansby says the team has not approached him about a new contract. That was earlier in the week. Since then the two sides have talked. Dansby says he'd like to stay with the team, but wants to see what happens with Kurt Warner, Anquan Boldin, Edgerrin James, and others before making a decision.2. Kurt Warner says his decision to return to the Cardinals or to retire hinges on what happens with the team, including offensive coordinator Todd Haley.3. Offensive coordinator Todd Haley is hired by the Kansas City Chiefs as their new head coach (good for him).4. Anquan Boldin says his relationship with the Cardinals is irreperably damaged. It seems like he's on his way out of town.5. Defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast has been relieved of his duties (this is good news for the team, but it's more turnover).The apocalyptic scene at the end of the film likely represents the fate that awaits the Arizona Cardinals as they likely return to being the team they've been so frequently.[...]
2009-02-04T12:34:51.147-05:00I already wrote over 2,000 words about the Super Bowl and I haven't even touched on the game itself. Super Bowl XLIII is most likely (in terms of games of importance to me) the most memorable sporting event of my life (past or future).I will go to my grave with memories of this game. Some are truly glorious (Fitzgerald's second touchdown in particular). Others will likely haunt me permanently (like Harrison's 100-yard interception return for a game changing touchdown).If you'd rather skip my ramblings, but you'd still like a Cardinals fan's take on the game, go here and read Will's writeup. It's perfect.My take on it will not be as concise. If you want the short version, here's my best shot at it:After the Cardinals narrowed the deficit to 20-16 with a safety, Laura turned to me and said, "I don't know if I can be a Cardinals fan. This is too stressful." And she was 100% right. Super Bowl XLIII summed up a lifetime of being a Cardinals fan, all in one game. Being a Cardinals fan starts with having hope, then having your hopes quickly dashed. But somehow they find a way to re-ignite your hope (usually increasing it to a point higher than where it was before). In the end, they crush you; a little piece of you dies inside each time the Cardinals let you down again after they pick you back up.The Cardinals did that in Super Bowl XLIII. Twice. Once in each half.Prior to the game there was hope and excitement, although the experts were likely to tell you there was no cause for it. Then the game started and the Cardinals sputtered. They were dominated in the first quarter and didn't look like themselves. Suddenly there was a burst of hope in the second quarter. Things looked much better... until the unthinkable happened - a sure touchdown which would result in a halftime lead turned into the longest play in Super Bowl history, and a lead for the Steelers.Now it's halftime and we've already gone through the hope, the dashing of hope, the re-ignition of hope, and the crushing. During the long halftime intermission, it was tough to envision what to expect.But the Cardinals were receiving the ball to start the 3rd quarter. And their offense had been excellent coming out of the lockerroom of late. But as the second half began the Cardinals continued to sputter. So our hopes were already being dashed. At this point one could only think a blowout was inevitable. But then the Cardinals sparked hope again by striking back: the comeback was glorious. A touchdown drive. A goal line stand times two. A sputtered drive followed by a perfect punt and a safety. Then the back breaking touchdown... except that it didn't break the Steelers' back. Instead they came back. And we were left crushed... again. Twice in one game.So that's the short version of my take on the Super Bowl. Here is an abbreviated list on some of the things that will haunt me for the rest of my life about this game:The coin toss. Yes, I'm going there. While I love Coach Whisenhunt, I didn't like the decision to defer. The Cardinals should have received the kick and come out aggressively on offense.The challenge of the TD call on the Steelers first drive was huge. That the Steelers kicked a field goal instead of going for it on 4th was equally huge. That short sequence could have decided the outcome of the game.Starting out on offense by establishing the run. This failed so it's easy to second guess. But I think a team should lead with its strength, especially in a game of this magnitude[...]
2009-02-04T11:25:43.808-05:00Two things I forgot in the last post: seat cushions and post game t-shirt sales.
2009-02-03T21:19:31.243-05:00On Sunday I attended my very first Super Bowl (as you know if you've been reading the recent entries). While the Cardinals lost, it was a heck of an experience. Before the details start to get fuzzy for me, I thought I should write down the highlights. So that's what this is. At first I thought I could bang it all out in one sitting, but there's a lot. This is the first part. It doesn't deal with any of the on-the-field stuff. Just the experience of getting to and from the stadium and what it was like for me aside from the game.While I haven't been to too many major sporting events, I think I've been to my fair share. I've been to the World Series, the BCS Championship game, other bowl games that were de-facto championship games, the NLCS (in 1987, 1997, and 2003), the NLDS, and plenty of playoff games (NFL and mostly NBA). But none of those compare to the Super Bowl. Laura and I left for the stadium around 1:15. Yes, more than 5 hours before kick off. And we did this under the assumption that we wouldn't be able to tailgate in our assigned parking lot. Traffic on the way to the stadium wasn't bad. We made our way smoothly. What was odd were the road closures and freeway exits. Signs were posted on the freeway indicating which exit to take (depending on the color code for your assigned parking lot). Fortunately this was all indicated on our parking pass. Still, it was odd to see standard street signs covered up (apparently to hide the actual location of Raymond James Stadium). All told we probably had to go 7 – 10 extra miles to arrive at our assigned parking lot. Once we arrived we found that we could have tailgated if we had wanted (but we didn't have any supplies, since we were informed that we couldn't). We didn't though as the lot was crawling with Steelers fans. Also, despite being told that parking would be limited to fans with game tickets, we found no check point for that. This was the lone hole in security that we saw during the day. So we left the car and headed towards the stadium, hoping to visit the NFL Experience again, as we optimistically hoped that the store would be restocked with Cardinals gear. Approaching the stadium was no easy task. The four streets that surround the perimeter of the stadium (and/or its parking lots) were blocked. There were fences and concrete barracades everywhere. Surprisingly, fans were not allowed to walk down the blocked off streets. Instead we were only allowed to cross at designated barriers. This made for very lengthy walks to and from the stadium (not to worry though – NFL VIPs, like Mike Singletary – who we saw, received escorts in golf carts; I'm not sure what happened to folks in wheelchairs or who were otherwise disabled). Eventually we made it near the stadium (near the pirate ship end) and received conflicting information as to whether we could walk through the stadium to the NFL Experience. Since we weren't sure, we figured we'd walk around the stadium and enter through the NFL Experience. I'd talk about the state of the port-a-potties we encountered, but that would make me throw up in my mouth... a lot. It was disgusting. You'd think that they could bring in nicer set ups like you see at golf tournaments and tennis tournaments. I know that's a little frou-frou, but this is a high priced event and there are long lines everywhere. They could provide decent bathroom facilities. End of rant on [...]