Ninth in a series of nine daily essays leading up to the 2008-09 college basketball season.
I have no Wikipedia entry of my own, not even a stub. If I understand the process correctly, you have to be either rich or a character on The Simpsons
to get one of those. Being neither, and therefore not sufficiently notable, it's up to me to write my own encyclopedic biography.
I was born on May 19, 1972, of German and WASP extraction. I grew up mostly in New Hampshire and New York, and attended a prep school called High Mowing
(a year behind action hero Judson Mills
of Walker, Texas Ranger
fame). When I was 18, I changed my name because I found a better one. I went to journalism school at the University of Oregon
, took a two year design degree at nearby Lane Community College
, and moved back east to Philadelphia in 1997. Since then, I've never been out of debt. At Drexel University
, in the collapsible bleachers, I discovered mid-major college basketball.
Since 2004, when I got a crazy idea in the upper east stands of The Palestra
, I've been curating a website called The Mid-Majority. It's about two things: mid-major college basketball and travel. Over the past five years, I've been to 508
games from coast to coast and in between, sleeping and showering at truck stops when I've needed to. I run a number of websites -- one's about the Olympics
and one's about sports transactions
and one's about internet scraps
-- but this is the only one that's ever landed me a job. The thumbnail bio-sketch
I talked about the other day is this simple: mid-majors, truck stops, ESPN.com
I live in Pawtucket, Rhode Island
, where I'm writing this now. I have a spouse (known in these pages as The Official Wife of The Mid-Majority
), no legitimate children as of yet, and two cats
. There are few things in life I would have done differently.
Here now, a day away from a new season, it's a chance to plan, to lay out the blueprint that will be measured against the regrets of tomorrow once it's time to write the epilogue
. It's an opportunity to make the promises that you, gentle readers, will hold me to, those that I will strive mightily to fulfill. As with any of the teams covered here, it's a game of expectation management.
Some things will change from Season 4. Weekday posts will be differently presented, for one. We're retiring The Boubacar,
because the original inspiration for the concept has himself "retired." Boubacar Coly, 6-9 former defensive force of the Morgan State Bears, forewent his final season of eligibility and has apparently dropped off the map. Instead, your A.M. hours will be filled with Good Morning Hoops Nation
, the fun and frisky morning show that mid-majordom never had. Each post will feature links, scores, analysis and video clips, focusing on what you need to know. It'll be like Morning Joe
There will, of course, be a Game! Of! The! Night!
every weekday, as always. Features will generally be anchored to their regular days. On Mondays
, the Mid-Majority Baller of the Week
(MMBOW), a tradition that dates back to the beginning. Starting again in late November, the State of the Other 22
(Â½) will be posted on Wednesdays
, a computer index based on the Basketball State
rankings. And a popular sporadic happening will go weekly this year: every Tuesday
, TMM will post a contest of some sort, the prize being the intensely prized stuffed Bally
. The entry window will close Friday, and winners will be announced the following Tuesday along with the new contest.
You've probably noticed the new scoreboard up top that will keep track of mid-major scores, as well as my mileage and games attended and next stop. Also included is a running percentage of "mid-major upsets," defined by teams below the Red Line
beating those above it (two exceptions: Gonzaga is considered above, and A-10 teams' wins only count if they're against the Big Six). You can also get notifications of upsets in your e-mail with the "upset club" list, found in the right-hand columns.
Another new wrinkle will be the use of Twitter, the "social networking tool" that forces participants to channel their inner Hemingways and keep things to 140 characters. Recent posts are on the right of the screen, and you can follow along
if you have an account yourself. Most of the updates will be about road food and in-game updates. ("Stephen Curry: good at basketball" is a potential preview.)
Every so often, there'll be a new Bally cartoon
. And, of course, photos
of our small orange friend from all across the country. And speaking of sporadics, a product of this past election cycle has inspired and pointed the way to a new method of traveloguing -- check out the Road to 270 at FiveThirtyEight
if you didn't get a chance to. Instead of yammering on about myself, I'll be starting up something called Mid-Major America
this year. We'll periodically talk about a region or city and its small schools, investigate what mid-major basketball has meant to these places, share some stories and take some pictures. (My photos won't be very good, though.) It'll be like Charles Kuralt on acid.
And there will be a lot of traveling -- more than ever. This site made its name with a 100 Games Project
in 2004-05, has regularly broken through that number in years past, and featured that epic race with referee Steve Welmer
last season (I won). This season, we'll be smashing all boundaries of reason and good taste with at least 125, which should put the record away for good and warrant a call to the Guinness
people. I should disclose that the key reason for my spending less time at home this winter than usual is that The Official Wife is also Petty Officer 3rd Class Cara C. Whelliston, a Navy reservist currently stationed in the Anbar province of Iraq. I couldn't be more proud of her and the work she's doing, but this isn't the place to discuss upsetting and divisive national matters. For our purposes here, it's the reason she won't be making her regular appearances in our goofy cartoons.
In these last moments before the 2008-09 season, I want to thank all of you who have written in during this past week of Essay Season, it's really wonderful to see familiar names and to have you all back on board for another extended adventure. To those just joining up, I'll try to keep it interesting for you. Tomorrow, I hope you'll indulge a rerun of a past post suitable for the occasion (longtimers probably know which one).
Meanwhile, I'll be driving down to Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C. to celebrate the first game of 5,610 scheduled between now and April. If you're reading this, I'm already on my way.