$Texas, Me Myself and Ty, Politics, Sports

I never meant to hate Cam Newton.

I was born in Eastern North Carolina, which means I wasn’t born in the heart of ACC country: I was born in Pirate Territory.

I explained to a Kinston tourist that local infatuation with piracy had more to do with a black-bearded man named Edward Teach than East Carolina University, but deep down I knew it was all bluster.

My high school colors were purple and gold; my uncle played at Dowdy-Ficklen back in the 20th century when students could also be athletes; heck my mother got her nursing degree while commuting to Greenville, (but she always rooted for the Wolfpack.)

The ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament (which is not canon if it’s not held in Greensboro) is broadcast in nearly every classroom in the state of North Carolina, but when you talk professional sports, you’ll see a schism in this state, not concerning allegiance, but degree of allegiance.

The Charlotte Hornets might as well have been in Tennessee when I was growing up watching from Goldsboro (Don’t forget this is when cable was 36 channels) and the most connection I ever felt to the team was through Mugsy Bogues in Space Jam.

I “rooted” for the Hornets, but Charlotte still felt a world away.

When the Panthers joined the NFL, though — I remember hearing about it from a clown at a birthday party in 1994 — I immediately became a fan. Continue reading

Journalism, Me Myself and Ty, Sports

Values & disaster-stricken North Carolina

Gov. Pat McCrory broadcast his press conference live on Facebook Tuesday night from Raleigh as he laid out the state’s continued response to Hurricane Matthew.

With flood waters along the Neuse River still advancing on hundred-year flood records, McCrory assured that the state’s disaster relief funding will last into 2017 while vowing to call a special session as early as next week if more money is needed to aid displaced residents from affected counties, which stretch from Edgecombe County near Rocky Mount to Robeson County on the South Carolina state line.

McCrory then opened up for questions, but in the end only had to answer two, both from the same reporter: Kirk Ross of the Washington Post.

The first: “I wanted to see if you have any numbers or estimates on the livestock
and what are some of the concerns while you’re trying to get them buried as soon as possible?”

It may sound odd that the first question from the national press about a major weather event that has, as of this writing, claimed the lives of 20 North Carolinians would be about livestock, but Eastern North Carolina is the the production engine of the state’s poultry and pork industries.

The N.C. Farm Bureau Federation reported in July that the state ranks second in the nation in hog & turkey production and fourth in the production of broiler chickens & trout.

How McCrory would have an estimate of livestock lost while the waters in some areas were still rising is beyond me, but make no mistake that the general consensus here in Kinston is that we, too, are very concerned about the animals throughout Eastern North Carolina. Continue reading

Journalism, Me Myself and Ty, Politics, Sports

Swinging for the fences

First off, I submitted the Kinston Wholehogs.

I don’t believe anyone ever relishes naming a new team. All selecting a mascot did for the Rio Grande Valley was stir up regional hostilities amidst the already tumultuous merger of two University of Texas branch campuses into a single research institution. the_university_of_texas_rio_gande_valley_athletics_logoThe mascot and team name they settled on — the Vaqueros — still angers alumni who graduated as Broncs, Scorpions or Ocelots and those who see the Spanish word for cowboy as an unnecessary homage to the population of the Valley, which is 90 percent Hispanic but 100 percent in the United States.

Culturally, the regional disdain for the mascot was over my head, but when the Texas Rangers organization last week released its slate of five name options for its new Carolina League affiliate in Kinston, I knew resistance would quickly follow.

While others have dug in on why “Down East” isn’t a true reflection of the team’s locale, I see the organization reaching out with a clear compromise in its five-team offering: the Eagles, which pays homage to Kinston’s first minor league team in 1925 in the Class B Virginia League.

A handful of people I’ve talked to about the team names have suggested the vote is a stacked deck designed to coalesce local support around the Eagles since it’s harder to build a voting bloc behind any of the more outlandish names. Hamhawks and Hogzillas will split the barbecue vote, while Eagles seem to be a more natural fit over the Wood Ducks due to the historic connection I mentioned.

And that is exactly why we must unite behind the Shaggers. Continue reading

Me Myself and Ty, Sports

My thoughts on the Super Browl

One of my friends who doesn’t follow pro football very closely asked me who I (and, by association, she) want to win the game, since we’ll both be at the same Super Bowl party Sunday for kickoff.

I couldn’t respond in a text, so I promised an email. Then I remembered I have this handy blog that I’ve been neglecting so I can disseminate my pseudoknowledge to the masses! So here it is.

First off, why is this year’s game bigger than most? In a word, Broaches. OK, so that didn’t work out as well as Joe’s “Super Browl” moniker, but the story angle every sportswriter is taking on this year’s game is the fact that Jim Harbaugh (who coaches the 49ers) and John Harbaugh (who coaches the Ravens) are brothers from the same mother. What makes it even more interesting (to me, at least) is that Jim has taken a team to the Super Bowl in just his second year of coaching and took the job in San Francisco just four days after winning the Orange Bowl with the previously laughable Stanford Cardinal football team. He was also a hell of a quarterback with the Colts in the mid-1990s and but it’s a common perception that while Jim was the better player, John is the better coach.

Also, both the 49ers (5-0) and the Ravens (1-0) are undefeated in Super Bowl games.

Now, as far as who “we” should want to win:

Continue reading

It's in the vault, Me Myself and Ty, Sports

Braves New World

The handshake was unwieldly, which was just how I had planned it.

How do you say hello to someone you’ve never met, but talked to, at times daily – hourly, even. But still, you’ve never met.

You can’t hug. You can’t not acknowledge each other either. Let’s take it to a new level and force a handshake on her. It’s a problem that seems to be something more common in our new era of online dating and networking and “friends” of “friends.”

She banged her knuckles on the door which she had opened for me. I remember damning the fact that the door was weighted to swing back closed. If not for that, I thought, the handshake would have gone better.

Still, she let me in. Thank god my faux paux hadn’t ended it all on the far end of an eight-hour trip.

I met her dogs and feigned excitement.

Yes, I loved them. They were amazing, and a great distraction from how nervous I felt standing in her apartment, but I would have gladly traded my meeting with them for some time to truly study her.

She, after all, was what I had traveled to see.

I loved the dogs from the start, but it was still a chore to keep my eyes off her. I had never seen her, apart from photos online, one in my coworker’s office and in my dreams.

There were girls I had never spoken to that I had spent more time ogling, but I knew she was different. She was a good girl. And she wasn’t interested.

I figured I could steal glances at her during the game, since baseball is truly the ultimate first date destination. No conversation if you want. Light enough to see the other party. Enough people around to see you to eliminate any pressure to make out and miss the game.

In other words, way classier than a movie. Plus it allowed for conversations in between innings, in between outs, in between strikes.

But the silence was difficult. Should I be talking? Should we be studying the game? Is she having fun? God she’s beautiful. That shirt. The back says “Nice Catch” and of course it’s baseball T-shirt humor, but those gathered there probably think she’s my catch, since she’s sitting next to me and occasionally speaking to me.

Sure we haven’t made any physical contact since that incredibly awkward handshake that I forced on her, but people must think we’re at least familiar. Even if I feel like she’s way too pretty for anyone to think we’re together.

The tomahawks were the key. I put one in her hand, insisting that she take part in the mob mentality of chopping the foam objects in unison.

Truthfully I didn’t give a damn. I just wanted an opportunity to steal some of her attention away from the game.

Yes, she’s a sports fan, but I want her to be a fan of me. I’m an attention whore and have no problem being shameless and going after it.

The chop began without me once and she touched my left arm with one hand while chopping me with the foam extension of the other.

This was the first indication I had that she liked me.

Let’s seize on it.

Continue reading

Eh?, It's in the vault, Me Myself and Ty, Sports

I’m not good at pool, Eh?

We had just been herded inside from the patio and out of the crisp Toronto air. We crowded into the bar and lounge area, all of us forced to carry our conversations, spoken in half a dozen different languages, inside where a billiard table stood, taking up valuable standing and drinking room.

I was in a frenzy at this point, spinning in two different directions like a planet on two axes. Beers were only $4. They were delicious, but therein lied the problem: too many of them were sitting around unattended. There is a rule about alcohol within my circle of friends – it should never be wasted. I don’t think I’ll ever consider myself to be too old to finish off empties and actually approach the job with a point of pride – I feel like I’m the best at it.

After I had palmed two Canadian pints I hadn’t myself paid for, Kelly asked who was going to play pool with her. Deep down I knew it was me who would play her, as if the dice had already been cast and my number had come up. It was quite evident to me that no one else wanted to play, but she would be insatiable. Sometimes those things are just apparent.

Plus I knew it was time to lose again. Continue reading

Me Myself and Ty, Sports

Told ya.

I didn’t have to jump on the “Sidney Lowe has to go” bandwagon because I’m pretty sure I’ve been riding shotgun since 2008.

Whether he’ll be around next season is now a moo point, much like how no sportswriter’s opinion really counts in matters of hiring and firing, but I wouldn’t be a sports snob if I didn’t use this blog as a platform to say I told you so.

In 2009, I wrote this column following State’s Mets-style meltdown against Duke in Cameron Indoor Stadium. I’m particularly concerned about the way Lowe was splitting minutes in the backcourt. Fast-forward to this season, when he still left doubt as to whose team it was: Javy’s or Harrow’s. These are college kids, and if you’re constantly worried about being pulled and replaced after a mistake, it’s going to affect your focus on the court.

I still have no idea how Lowe never managed to develop a decent point guard in five years.

Then, in 2010, I went after Lowe in this piece. In my opinion, the writing was on the wall following that Georgia Tech loss when he refused to shake Paul Hewitt’s hand and ran into the locker room yelling at the officials. That on top of his bow tie this season (I realize that it was a gesture, but this post explains my sentiment) was just too much for me. Call me a fucking moron*, but when you’re losing, you don’t draw attention to yourself by complaining about calls after the buzzer sounds and wearing loud clothing.

*Special shoutout to Chris Hogue! Whoever you are, I would love to meet you to discuss this e-mail you sent to my personal e-mail address Feb. 11, 2010:


Read your article on Lowe. Just thought I’d let you know that you’re a
fucking moron.


Chris Hogue