PAWTUCKET, R.I. -- I love being in faraway airports early in the morning, or late at night, the feeling of not knowing exactly where I am. The butter-colored fluorescent lights, the empty chairs and shuttered kiosks, the smell and shine of floorwax, the uptempo contemporary jazz from distant speakers... all of these symbols for in between. No movement from point A to B, just stasis. A wristwatch is useless in these moments, spinning impotently against the local interpretation of time. To be suspended like this is to be in between
I am not writing to you from an airport today, I am not there yet. Oh, that? Just stray literary allusions left over from Essay Season, which is now completed for the year. What we are now is caught between stations. The 2010-11 hoops campaign has begun, and there have been actual games that count in the standings, and Monday night was a chance to get reacquainted with an old familiar feeling -- hope, hope, hope
... crap. This is a college basketball site and there is college basketball to talk about, but it's always been more complicated than that. The official start-line date of the season is Friday, and we'll be on the road by then, but there is housekeeping to do. Tomorrow, there will be posted expectations about the daily goings-on, and on Thursday we'll talk travel plans, but now the news.
Unless you're reading along with via a syndication mechanism like Google Reader, you may have noticed the changes to this site. Bally and I traded the dried-blood red and orange of Season 6 for a black, white and slate-blue color scheme designed to tickle the eye. All you RSS people, you really ought to check it out. There's a Tom Petty button and a new Red Line Upset counter and star maps and everything.
Is there any way I can view all the conference star maps over at Mid-Majority instead of just refreshing and seeing what comes up? I think they're a very cool idea and I'd love to see them in their entirety.Thank you, C. The star map mechanism is working exactly as designed, and the three delayed reveals are important to the intended effect. This website is on an unlimited-bandwidth plan and our business model does not attempt to monetize traffic in any way, but I can confirm that page views and hits-per-unique-visitor are up very sharply in the past week.
- C. Liedl
We'd also like to direct your attention to our new #pixelvision GameCenter technology, but we can't right now because there are no scheduled Division I games tonight. On most days during Season 7, the front page will include a listing of contests that involve at least one Other 25 team. There will also be a shaded menu on the right side of the screen for quick reference in planning your evening viewing. Each game will have its own #pixelvision page: embedded 360-pixel video and four flash-card panels. First, an info screen with news, links and matchup history for the two competing teams, then a full "cheatsheet" with rosters and stats for both squads, and finally a rolling tweetstream for the Twitter #pixelvision hashtag. And what's more, you can connect your Twitter account and tweet right from the site. Those Robots are frickin' amazing.
Speaking of automation, we've rolled out our new Robotic Blast we like to call Mid-Majority 360. There are 360 degrees in a circle, and the number is usually used to connote some sort of encompassing, surrounding quality. When a certain sports broadcasting mechagoliath stopped using those digits to label its online video service, yoink! We own them now. TMM Three-sixty is an endless, tumblng loop of local and national college basketball links from large companies to basement bloggers, videos, photos, information and stat blasts. I don't say this about everything, but I really can't believe how awesome it is. I'm totally freaking out over here.
As we go through Season 7, as more and more is added to 360, it will become a great resource for beat writers and superfans too. Tags will give easy access to all the items about any given Other 25 team or conference. Is your team playing, say, Butler? You're one click away from the story of their season, in words and pictures, in reverse. There are RSS feeds for each team too, and you can get the whole feed on twitter @midmajority360.
The Form™ Gets Big
But all of that is mere piffle and poppycock when compared to the biggest TMM upgrade of Season 7. That's right, The Form™ is now the SuperForm™, TurboForm™, MegaForm™. It's so incredible, it has its own subdomain now. theform.midmajority.com. I mean, holy crap. You can not only use it to send messages to Bally and I, but you can also send files with it now. Is one of our logos outdated? Pow. Got a contest entry to send in? Zap. And it has a captcha that talks to you. Whoa.
Club Can't Handle Bally
And don't forget about the newly redesigned Bally Club, which is just now awaking from its summer slumber. That's the place to hang out with your cool mid-major friends. I understand that thanks to member #532 plash.ricrem, Bally's Pick 'Em will be back: every week, you pick games and get points. Last year, it was for fun. This year, the grand prize is a Season 8 Membership.
And I didn't even mention the NBA alumni tracker, the seven-season travel maps, the Season 7 SuperTicker, the enhanced Red Line Upsets box on the front page, or the new faster sitewide search engine. OK, so some things are more killer-app than others, but the point is this: Season 7 is going to be really, really great, and we are going to have a lot of fun between now and the spring.
People are very touchy about what they're called. I, for instance, don't like to be called Carl. It happens a lot, though, especially down South. One of the common complaints in TMM is related to what people's favorite teams are called. I've had limited control over this, because a lot of content on this site comes from Basketball State (redesigned), which in turn receives content from third-party providers. Well, it's a new season and there's a new provider, so that means there are some new references. The following will heretofore be known as the following:
Grambling State -> Grambling
IUPU-Fort Wayne -> IPFW
Southern Illinois-Edwardsville -> SIU Edwardsville
Wisconsin-Green Bay -> Green Bay
Wisconsin-Milwaukee -> Milwaukee
Sorry, we cant take requests, or boil a name down into that acronym you like. Maybe next year.
About That Doorstop...
Oh yeah, I wrote a book too! It's 600 pages long! People seem to like it! Thank you! I've been informed that the first run of "One Beautiful Season" is almost sold out, that a second run's been scheduled for later this month, so grab 'em before they're temporarily backordered.
Ballz and Ballys
If you're just catching back up with us after the summer, you might not know that we sold out of Ballys, forever. The company that makes the raw materials discontinued the sacred boing-box. There were only 100 Ballys ever made. The last one, the hundredth, was Giant Bally. This is what Giant Bally looks like next to Bally No. 1.
Giant Bally now lives in England with his friend Paul. Back in the late spring, he flew across the pond through the volcanic ash cloud (cough, cough), landed safely, and is now closer to Karen Gillan than I will ever be. Over the course of Season 7, you can expect photographic dispatches from Giant Bally, and quite possibly a throwdown-showdown with the London 2012 one-eyed mascots.
I apologize for not asking earlier because the busy season is beginning, should I have already received my Ballz or are they still in the process of being made? I just wanted to make sure he didn't get lost somewhere and is having more fun on an adventure than he otherwise would be having if he were sitting on my desk.Readers who weren't on the mailing list won't know what that means, but may remember the Fynnal For Ballz from the Butler run that we used to finance the last leg of the journey. Fynnal For Ballz, carefully named as not to trigger the NCAA trademark police, were blue and gray versions of Bally. Over the summer, we slightly expanded the operation to include other teams, as an enticement to join up as Season 7 members.
- Daniel B.
With all the building and writing, the arts have taken something of a back seat and I apologize for that. Dyeing them and painting them was a very calming, Zen experience. Most of them have gone out. A few still need arms and legs attached. If you have not received your Ballz, it is not lost. It'll be sent out Thursday, before I leave, and might just get there in time for the second game. I'll put together a photo gallery, there are a lot of different teams and conferences represented, a lot of red, gold, blue, brown and green. Ballz.
We are not above enticement. There is still a line for the scholarship program, which invites you to sponsor a college student with a Season 7 Membership package. It really is an educational enhancement: there's English (book), maths (geek-stats site membership), social studies (Bally Club), crafts (the holiday surprise) and a shirt, because that dream about showing up for a test naked is both frightening and against the law. There's a slight backlog in scholarship awards, so if you're on the wait list, you may get some good news today. For everyone else (including those who haven't signed up yet), we'll be offering a little extra sponsorship incentive in the near future.
And, as well...
When are we getting our t-shirts?The Season 7 membership package includes a t-shirt. T-shirts, unlike books and website memberships, are not one-size-fits-all. At the time of the original idea back in the spring, we forgot two key facts: that not everyone would sign up at once, and that there is not an even distribution of smalls, mediums, larges, and so on. We'll likely be able to forecast that better in Season 8 based on this year's data, but for now we're trying to read the patterns.
- Kraig, via Twitter
So the t-shirt will likely be the last of the five items you receive. The surprise is date-sensitive and tied to a December 1 arrival, so the shirts will likely go out just before the holidays. To make this into a fun, positive thing, we'll be turning it into a contest. Next week, you'll get to vote on three t-shirt designs, and the winning one will be the one that you'll wear. Fun!
Kyle, Is there anyway to buy a membership, Bally's Dream, Sports Bubble Blues, and Season 6 shirt all at once? How hard is it to get autographed copies of your books?I believe you're referring to the TMM PowerPak, which doesn't exist quite yet. The reason why is that many of these things come from different places. The kidz book and the essay book, for instance, are from different publishers. The Season 6 shirt and the Season 7 one are being printed by different shops, and last year's comes from an on-demand service (which is why they're a little more expensive). I recommend buying each item separately, but the autograph thing is a little easier to solve. The first couple boxes of books, the ones that went to the earliest S7 subscribers, were all signed. Nowadays, with the season on, it's a little tougher. But if you sign up and you'd like my unreadable scribble on it, please drop a note in The Form™ and let me know. Please understand it might take a little extra time to get the book to you, though.
Kyle, You mentioned in an offseason chat that you intended to bring back the Certificate of Emotional Investment generator this year. I haven't seen it ... did I miss it? Are you still bringing it back?The idea was steamrolled by the steamroller of progress. Season 6 was last year. This is a new series of tomorrows, new ideas, new avenues of exploration. Besides, handmade COEI's are more endearing.
Thanks, all, for your kind comments of support in the first week of Season 7, for your responses to Essay Season, and also for your patience with this annual practice of board mettings, housecleaning and small-stuff-sweating. Tomorrow, more.