Tuesday, September 13

I Didn't Even Want To Be In This Tournament . . .

And I Should Have Busted Out Twice

(This entry crossposted to Steal The Blinds.)

Among the many tournaments hosted by Full Tilt Poker are "Guaranteed" tourneys. No matter how few people enter, they give away a guaranteed amount.

So when I logged on this morning, I discovered there were only about 45 people signed up for an 11 AM $3,500 guaranteed tourney with a $24 + $2 buy-in. The pay line started at 18th place. So, I registered for the tourney, thinking I was getting good value for such a great payout.

I should have known better. In the last 10 minutes before the tourney started, everybody and their uncle entered. By the time it started, 155 people were in, and I wished I could be out.

I wished I could unregister even more when I held Q/Q and found myself all-in against K/K. But a beautiful turn Q tripped me up and all of a sudden I was among the chip leaders.

When the moneyline approached, I was getting cold-decked. From 18 players all the way down to the final 9, I didn't see a decent hand. But at the final table I busted the two shortstacks holding A¨/J¨ and vaulted into the chip lead.

Now it was time to start thinking about the big money. With seven players left, we were all walking away with at least $139.50, but first place paid over seven times that, $1,004.40.

I almost knocked out another shortstack with pocket deuces against his J¨/6¨, but the turn 2¨ filled his flush and I couldn't find a boat on the river.

While the others got knocked out, a couple of advantageous hands put me over 100,000 chips, and I lorded my big stack over the rest of the table, stealing antes and blinds virtually at will. But eventually, the second-biggest stack caught on and reraised many of my steal attempts. Not wanting to get into a brawl with someone who could really hurt me holding mediocre cards, I usually gave it up. He did this enough to take the chip leadership from me.

With three players left (third place won $474.30, second won $632.40) and the blinds at 1200/2400 with 300 antes, I held 9§/9¨ in the big blind. The now-chip leader, in the small blind, just called me, and I raised to 8100. He called.

The flop came 5§/A§/7¨ and he fired a bet of 17,100 at me. Thinking he was merely representing the ace, I raised to 35K and he called.

The turn was 6ª and he went all-in. I figured he might now have the ace, but he'd been so aggressive I couldn't guarantee it. If he held anything besides an ace (or a pocket pair bigger than my nines), I was a massive favorite. I called.

He showed A¨/2§.


I was already saying my goodbyes and cursing my misread when the river came 8¨ and a huge pile of chips were shoved toward me.

What the??!?

I made a straight! Probably the luckiest suckout I've ever had.

I polished him off five hands later with Q/10 when I won the coin-flip against his pocket fives. This left me heads-up with the small stack and a 9-1 chip advantage, at 209,327 versus 23,173.

With that much of an advantage, I could go all-in with any two cards, and I did a couple times and lost. But sixteen hands in, still with a better than 3-1 advantage, I pushed her all in with Aª/4ª. She called with Qª/J©.

What happened? See for yourself:

(click for full-size)


And that's how you make a thousand dollars when you don't even want to be there.

Edited 9/14 2:30 AM to add the STB link.


Monday, September 12

PHOTO ALBUM: September 11, 2004, New York, New York

One Year Ago Today, Part II

I was really hoping to make it to New York before nightfall, since I wasn't sure how well my crappy disposable cameras would work. Unfortunately, I didn't. I didn't know about parking in lower Manhattan, so I searched endlessly through Hoboken and Jersey City for a ferry that would take me there. But most of them shut down by dusk.

After sundown I gave up and took the Holland Tunnel, and found ample parking. I stopped at the corner of Greenwich and Harrison and walked the twelve blocks or so to Ground Zero.

New York had brought back the "Tribute In Light". If you haven't seen this, it is really spectacular. Squares of spotlights rise from near the former World Trade Center site to create twin beams that extend into the night sky.

It is a wondrous sight. Too bad my camera couldn't capture it.

I'm serious. Here's a picture right next to the spotlights, and you can just barely make out the light:

(click any for full-size)

Hundreds of people were there (including a couple I later met who were also from Mishawaka, Indiana) forming small tributes. These people lit candles at the corner of Vesey Street and West Side Highway:

The viewing area started with a covered walking bridge that went over West Side Highway and ran along the northern edge of what used to be the World Trade Center:

(That's the Tribute In Light in the background.)

The steel bars made it difficult to take pictures through, and the darkness still meant they wouldn't come out very good, but I dutifully tried:

Here you can see that the bottom of "the pit" is four stories below street level. The pit extends all the way to Liberty Street; that's the intersection with the red light you can see at West Side Highway. It's 1000 feet away.

This is the ramp that extends from Liberty Street down into Ground Zero. Just for perspective, in the middle of the ramp you can see a car.

This is from below street level, at the PATH (Port Authority Trans-Hudson) train station entrance. The Port Authority rebuilt the train station very quickly; had I known, I could have taken a train from either Newark or Hoboken.

I left two trinkets at Ground Zero.

The first were twin carnations that I bought from a young girl who was selling them along the walkway, along with many other street vendors.

The second was another small American flag, which I tied with a ribbon (also bought from the girl) to the fence in between panels which featured pictures of the aftermath of the attack.

Those panels, bolted to the east side of the fence, displayed the story of 9/11 — not just in New York but in Washington and Pennsylvania as well.

These six panels contain the names of the more than 2,200 people who perished in the World Trade Center.

This panel described what happened on Flight 93.

With the availability for pictures devastated by the darkness, I decided to leave and find someplace where I could still take pictures after 10 or 11 pm. I could think of only one place:

Times Square.

For some reason, most likely paranoid small-town thinking, I figured I would stick out so much that I might as well have had "I'M NOT FROM AROUND HERE" stamped on my shirt. I didn't realize how much I'd blend in. When I was on the subway, someone wanted to know where the line ended going the other way during late-night hours; since I had just checked that myself, I responded: "Coney Island."

"You take this line often?" she responded.

"No, I'm from Indiana," I replied, grinning.

I encountered the people from Mishawaka at Times Square because one of them was wearing a shirt with the logo for LanLizards, a local cybercafé. I freaked them out when I asked, "That's on Main Street, north of Jefferson, right?" They were shocked that some New Yorker would know about their little joint.

Some street artists were making spraypaint posterboard lithographs and selling them for $20. It's a process I'm fascinated by but, as I learned over a two-week span as a teenager, I'm personally terrible at. These guys were good. I didn't want to blow a Jackson on them, though, until I saw one of them make this:

I had to find an ATM, as I only brought about $25 with me (remember, paranoid, I was sure I'd be mugged) and I'd already spent money on memorabilia and a hot dog from a vendor at the corner of Vesey and Church (it was seriously the best damn hot dog I've ever had). When I got back, I asked him to make me one just like that. And I bought one.

I got one picture of me at Times Square, but as I'd now spent nearly 24 unshowered hours in a car, I looked even worse than I did that morning in Pennsylvania.

With my new picture in tow and my cameras almost out of film, I boarded the subway back to Lower Manhattan . . .

. . . and to my car, and to New Jersey, and home.

I still wish the camera would have caught the Tribute In Light.


Sunday, September 11

LIVE: Full Tilt Poker Hurricane Relief Tournament IV

I Get Another Chance

The need for aid money to the ravaged Gulf Coast continues, and once again Full Tilt Poker has anted up.

Like the previous tournament, this is a $30 buy-in, with the $10 rake being doubled by FTP and sent to the American Red Cross.

After my impressive but ultimately disappointing finish last week, I think I can do better. Again, if I cash, one-third will go to the Red Cross.

Updates to come.

3:34 PM: Have you ever looked at the bottom of a tourney leaderboard and wondered who the idiot was that finished last? The last tourney I played in, a satellite to the WPT Borgata Open, that idiot was me: I had K/K and ran into A/A. I felt so stupid.

This time, it's pro John D'Agostino who finished dead last. I don't feel so bad now.

3:52 PM: Arrgh! A computer crash wiped me out for a few hands. What did I miss? I'll never know. 385 players out of 482 left, I'm tied for 270th with 1315 (starting value 1500). Blinds at 25/50.

3:58 PM: J§/A¨ from the small blind. The table short-stack goes all-in for 515 and I call. She has K©/Q¨ and my hand holds up.

4:03 PM: Limped in from MP with black sevens. Flop comes 10/10/A and is checked around. Turn is another 10 and it's checked to me. I figure I might just have the best hand so I toss a half-pot bet of 150 in. It's called, called, and raised, so I figure I'm beat and bail. All of a sudden, everyone else is all-in. The first raiser had pocket fives. Another guy had an ace and was slowplaying a full house. But the table chip leader got in with 10/8 from the small blind and wiped them both out.

That could have been a disaster if my radar wasn't properly calibrated.

4:07 PM: Ick. A/5 from the small blind, I raise to steal and get called. Flop comes 10/A/7, I bet and get raised. I have to fold: my kicker sucks. Down to 1100.

4:09 PM: Jennifer Harman out in 426th, Howard Lederer out in 405th. Another gruesome day for the pros.

4:12 PM: The guy on my left is driving me nuts. Again he foiled my blind-steal. Shortstacked again. Could use a big hand.

4:15 PM: How about aces?? A§/A¨, middle position. I raise. Everyone folds. Crap.

Considering how shortstacked I was, I might have wanted to play those a little slower and give myself a better chance of doubling up. Of course, I also give myself a better chance of busting out. Oh well.

Could use another big hand . . . (hey, it worked last time!)

4:29 PM: Q¨/J¨ from the cutoff and I'm all-in. One of the few people with less chips than me calls with K¨/K©. I'm done for.

4:31 PM: A/6 offsuit and I have no choice; I get called in a couple spots but a K/10 sucks out on me. IGHN, in 222nd place.

Well . . . that sucked.


Big Time

§§§ Notre Dame 17, Michigan 10 §§§

Offensive lineman Bob Morton salutes the ND fans who made the trip to Ann Arbor following the win. (South Bend Tribune/Jim Rider)

Notre Dame's offensive showcase last week against Pittsburgh and Michigan's relative defensive ineptitude last week against Northern Illinois set up what was figured to be a high-octane shootout in Ann Arbor.

It didn't quite turn out that way.

Strict defense and somewhat sloppy offense — from both sides — were the norm, but the Irish played just a little bit better and hung on for the 17-10 upset of #3 Michigan.

ND won the coin toss and came out swinging, not missing a beat from their blowout of Pittsburgh. In a no-huddle offense frequently featuring empty-backfield shotgun formations, the Irish methodically marched down the field, striking for six on a 5-yard pass play to Rhema McKnight. The 12-play drive was so effective that ND never even faced a third down.

But the Michigan defense adapted well, eventually bringing pressure on Irish quarterback Brady Quinn. After not allowing a sack to Pittsburgh, the Wolverines reached Quinn three times and harassed him even more. After rolling up more than 500 yards against Pitt, ND couldn't even muster half of that in the Big House.

The Irish were especially sloppy in the second half, managing just 56 yards and suffering their only turnover.

Quinn finished the game 19-30 for just 140 yards. Darius Walker still rushed for 104 yards, on 26 carries. Jeff Samardzija was the go-to receiver after McKnight left the game with an apparently serious knee injury; he finished with four catches for 52 yards.

However, the story of the day was the Notre Dame defense. After Michigan running back Mike Hart left the game with a hamstring injury in the first half, ND shut down the Wolverine ground attack for most of the game. And while Michigan did make some big passing plays, including a 25-yard effort for their only touchdown, the Irish secondary mostly contained the Michigan pass offense.

But it's easy to defend someone who keeps shooting themselves in the foot.

Michigan entered the redzone on offense three times — all in the second half — and came away with zero points. Just after halftime, a Michigan drive was halted by a goal-line interception by Irish safety Tom Zbikowski. The drive following the disastrous ND fumble went for naught when the Wolverines failed a 4th-and-goal conversion instead of settling for the field goal. And finally, a quarterback sneak from within the ND 1-yard line ended in a crucial fumble in the game's most important play.

That play was originally ruled a Michigan recovery, but a booth-mandated instant replay discovered that Wolverine quarterback Chad Henne lost the ball before going down and that ND safety Chinedum Ndukwe had recovered it in the endzone for a touchback.

The Irish caught another break later in the game when a field ruling that Quinn had fumbled was also overturned by replay. Michigan fans showed their appreciation by showering the field with debris. And the Samardzija touchdown reception in the second quarter was initially tipped by Michigan linebacker Chris Graham.

According to the cliché, it's better to be lucky than good. On Saturday, the Irish were a bit of both.

The suddenly-rising Irish will look to avoid a letdown next week in their home opener against Michigan State.


PHOTO ALBUM: September 11, 2004, Shanksville, Pennsylvania

One Year Ago Today, Part I

A few years back, some friends and I went on a ROAD TRIP! WOOO! up the East Coast. My sole purpose for even going on this trip was to see Ground Zero. I felt I needed to make a pilgrimmage to see for myself instead of merely on TV the effects of the most important event in my lifetime. Unfortunately, it was not to be; car trouble caused us to scrap completely the New York leg of the trip.

So last year, almost completely impulsively and spontaneously, I decided I was going to go myself. I discovered that stopping at the Flight 93 Memorial would make an excellent pause point in the trip, as it was only a slight detour. So I told my boss I was taking Saturday off and drove straight through Friday night.

I arrived at the Flight 93 Memorial just as they were concluding the official service. Late, yes, but not alone:

(click any for full-size)

Hundreds of people were still arriving, overflowing the tent set up for the service. News crews were there from all over the country, and most of them, at some point during the morning, interviewed these two:

They were NYPD officers who felt they needed to pay their respects to the ad hoc citizens' brigade who performed as bravely as any police officer ever could.

As I worked my way closer to the memorial, I met a pastor and some congregants from Maryland who were also on a pilgrimmage . . . on bicycles. One of the many spontaneous outpourings of support was the signing of a metal guardrail that separated the grassy area underneath the tent from the gravel outside it. The pastor produced a Sharpie marker and, not surprisingly, prefaced his signature with John 15:13. I could never say something quite so succinctly appropriate, so I went with my default slogan for 9/11:

You can see the shadow of his bike tire in the bottom right.

Former Pennsylvania Governor and then-Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge spoke at the ceremony. That's not me with him; although I did get my picture taken with Secretary Ridge, I had not slept all night and had just spent the last 8 hours in a car. So I looked even more hideous than usual.

After the public ceremony, friends and family of Flight 93 victims boarded chartered buses and drove several hundred yards away for a private service. No press allowed, so certainly I wasn't getting on.

I wouldn't have wanted to.

Finally I turned my attention to the makeshift memorial, which was really nothing more than a simple chain-link fence where people attached trinkets and tributes. The permanent memorial planned for Flight 93 upsets me, and not just because of its shape and directional orientation.

One of the more comforting things that stayed with me after 9/11 was the immediate outpouring of support from all over the nation. It was a spontaneous, unorganized group hug for those involved. The new permanent memorial will spend millions of taxpayer dollars and have professionally designed symbolic elements, but it will lose all the charisma of the heartfelt but amateur wiki-memorial.

You wanna make this memorial permanent? Take this fence, and everything attached to it, and dip it in bronze.

Along with personal messages, the most popular items attached seemed to be hats. I walked all the way back to my car and retrieved my well-worn ND Class of 2001 hat. (I didn't notice this until just now, but in the above picture, there's another ND hat: a gray one, a little to the right of the center frame.) I braided the loop through the fence and added a small American flag:

A wider view:

Other contributions to the memorial:

The final component of the Flight 93 Memorial is the actual crash site, and thank God the permanent memorial commission isn't dumb enough to build anything on it. They call it "Sacred Ground," which is a little overdramatic, but appropriately reverent.

From the makeshift chain-link memorial, the crash site was so far away that it was barely a speck; the only way you could ever be able to see it was because an American flag was planted there, in the distance:

It's very tough to see, from my store-bought disposable camera, so here's the pic again with the flag magnified by a factor of 4.

It was a very sunny and hot morning September 11, 2004. Not at all unlike the day three years before, before everything became dark and cold.


Sunday, September 4

LIVE: Full Tilt Poker Hurricane Relief Tournament II

This Game Means A Lot

(This entry crossposted at Steal The Blinds.)

On Friday, Full Tilt Poker ran a special no-limit Texas Hold'em tournament to benefit victims of Hurricane Katrina. The response was so overwhelming that they're having a second tournament tonight, and I'm in.

The buy-in is $20 + $10, which means that $20 goes to the tournament pool and $10 is the house rake, which FTP will donate to the American Red Cross. Further, FTP will match everyone's donation.

Friday's tournament had 718 players, meaning $14,360 was raised. Tonight's tourney has 1210 players, raising $24,200 more.

Among the players tonight are pros Howard Lederer, Erik Seidel, John Juanda, David Grey, Aaron Bartley, and Kristy Gazes.

I vow that if I cash, one-third of my win will go to the Red Cross. First place wins $5,324.

Updates as I march toward victory.

8:25 PM: Uh-oh. I have 10ª/10©, went all-in after a flop of 9©/4¨/6©, and got called by K©/K§. I have him covered, but it will hurt if I lose.

Turn 5ª. River 5©. Ouch.

8:30 PM: Holding Qª/J§ in the big blind and called UTG's min-raise along with three other players. Flop is 8¨/7¨/J¨ and I'm all-in. The button calls me with Aª/7§. The turn Q¨ gives me two pair, but I still need to dodge a non-diamond A or any 7. River 10ª doubles me up.

Thank God. Didn't want this to be a really short post.

8:40 PM: Howard Lederer is out in 979th place. Just got bounced to a new table.

8:43 PM: Middle position, holding A§/K¨. UTG limps, next guy reraises to 200 (blinds 25/50). I go all-in (1020) and pray he doesn't have aces or kings. He has 10§/10ª.

Flop is no help, 9¨/J§/4©. Turn 7¨, nothing, but the river A¨ saves my ass. Up over 2,000.

8:48 PM: David Grey out in 878th place. Pros normally don't do well in FTP tourneys because they have bullseyes on their backs, literally: bust one and you win your buy-in back. I'm not sure if they're doing that here. In Friday night's tourney, Phil Gordon and Howard Lederer both cashed, finishing 31st and 68th respectively.

8:57 PM: Holding K§/10§ in big blind. Button min-raises and I smell a steal. SB and I call. Flop comes 5¨/10¨/7©. SB checks and I bet the pot (360). Button min-raises again, to 720; SB folds. He might have actually had a good hand, or he's keeping up the steal. I just call to see what the turn brings.

It's 10©. I plan to check-raise him, but he foils it by checking through. Big mistake if he has a draw.

River is K¨ and I no longer give a damn, especially if he was drawing to diamonds. I make a quarter-pot "feeler bet" (450 into 1800) and he goes all-in. He has me covered. I call. He had J©/10ª. Had him all the way.

9:00 PM: Wiped out the guy I just beat with Q©/Qª versus his 10¨/A©. Over 4,000 now and just barely in the top 100.

9:16 PM: A§/K© under the gun. I make a pot-size raise (350, blinds 50/100), and the table short-stack moves all-in for his last 605. I call. He has A©/7¨, and my hand holds up.

Very next hand: Aª/J© in the big blind. One limper, then the small blind moves all-in for 942. I call and the limper folds. SB was bluffing with K§/5©. My hand holds up and I'm over six large.

9:19 PM: First break now. I'm at 6,177, and I'm in 50th place. Erik Seidel busted out in 581st. The only pro ahead of me is Allen Cunningham (26th place, 7,924). I'm ahead of Aaron Bartley (70th, 5,475), Kristy Gazes (164th, 3,806), John Juanda (231st, 2,110), and Andy Bloch (559th, 295). 561 left. Antes coming in half an hour.

9:25 PM: Four hands since the break, and two of them were 7§/2§. That sucks. Everyone knows 7/2 offsuit is the best damn hand in poker and its suited cousin is the anti-hand. :D

9:34 PM: Folded A§/2¨ in the big blind to a raise. Flop comes 3§/A©/Aª. SB won without a showdown, but I don't think he had an ace. All poker players hate when that happens, but folding was the right move there. Gotta put it behind me. Cold-decked for two rounds and I'm at 5,757. No time to be desperate. Tight, Mike, remember tight.

9:40 PM: 8¨/8ª in middle position. I raise to 560 (blinds 80/160) and the player on my left goes all-in for 1435. Folded around to me. The pot has 2145 and I have to call 875. Almost 2½-to-1 pot odds. I have to call, but I don't like it. She has A§/7ª. My hand sticks and I'm at 7K.

9:50 PM: Andy Bloch out in 435th, Kristy Gazes out in 405th. Holding
K¨/K§ with a raise of 600 (blinds 100/200) in front of me, I go over the top to 2500. Everyone folds.

9:53 PM: The antes have arrived. Blinds 120/240 with 25 antes. Now it gets serious.

10:02 PM: Time once again for YOU MAKE THE CALL! Q§/Q¨ on the button, folded to me, I raise to 550, and the small blind calls. Flop comes 6ª/5ª/5©. I bet 770, and he raises to 2500. Yuck. Maybe he's on a draw. Maybe he's slowplaying A/A or K/K. Maybe he thought I was stealing and got in with a 5. Maybe he has nothing but figures I was stealing and also have nothing and can push me off.

I figured it's all-in or fold. He has me covered. What do you do?

I folded. If I hadn't got whacked with my tens versus kings at the start of the tourney, I might have played. But I got the heebie-jeebies and chickened out.

He showed his hand. Scroll to the right to see it: Black sevens. God damn it.

10:13 PM: Just got whacked with A/Q. Tried pushing the chip leader off the hand and he kept calling me down with 9/9. Less than 3,000 now and I'm in deep doo-doo. FOCUS, MIKE!

10:19 PM: Stealing blinds and antes to tread water. Aaron Bartley out in 247th, John Juanda out in 220th. Only pro left is Allen Cunningham. I judge how well I do in big tournaments by whether or not I outlast all the pros, since they don't usually hang around long. Problem is, Allen has 13K and is in the top 40.

10:21 PM: Caught a break, as I got retabled right before my blinds to a seat behind the blinds.

10:23 PM: Break time again. I have 3,677 and am in 161st place out of 192 left. Yuck. But I've made bigger comebacks than this. Problem is, I just got three excellent hands, A/A, A/K suited, and A/Q, and all I did was win the blinds and antes with them. Let's hope I get a good hand and someone else does, too.

And that mine is better, of course.

10:33 PM: Down to 2,500 as the antes are eating me alive. With 250/500 blinds and antes of 50, it's comparable to having 400/800 blinds with no ante, since it costs 1200 each round. All-in or fold time.

10:35 PM: All-in from the cutoff with red fives. Nobody calls. Next hand: A§/7§. I'm all set to go all-in again, but the UTG player raises and I figure he has me dominated.

10:39 PM: Still hanging around, but it's up to 300/600 with 75 antes. That's like having blinds of 500/1000. I have 2,802.

10:41 PM: All-in from the cutoff with 3ª/3©. Nobody calls. 4,300. Next hand is 10©/Kª, but again the UTG raises and I'm probably crushed.

10:45 PM: Qª/10© on the button, with two limpers. I'm all-in for 2,952. The blinds fold, the first limper calls, and the second folds. He shows 3§/3©. Lot of dead money here, so it'd be nice to win this coin flip and get me off of life support.

Flop is 9§/3ª/6© and I'm all but toast. The turn brings Q§, and even though that card appears to help me, it was the deathblow: there's now no way I can beat his set. Even another Q to give me trips would fill him into a full house. The river was meaningless, but for posterity's sake, it was 8¨. IGHN, in 140th place. Cash line was at 117.

The thing that makes poker so intense is that I played 185 hands in this tourney, and played maybe two of them wrong (I probably played a couple more poorly, but they were incidental). And yet I go home with nothing.

But the more important story is that the American Red Cross now has $38,560 more for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. I wish I won something so I could have chucked in a little more.

Alas, not to be.

FINAL UPDATE 9/5 1:41 AM: I stuck around to watch how the tourney ended. The last hand was so awesome I had to comment on it.

The button was on the shorter stack, holding about 625,000 chips. The bigger stack had about 1.2 million. The blinds were at 12,000 and 24,000 with a 3000-chip ante.

Big Stack called the big blind, and the smaller stack checked to see the flop, which was 10ª/8ª/Qª. Check, check. Turn Jª. Check, check. River blank. Big Stack makes a smallish bet, and Small Stack goes all-in over the top. Big Stack calls.

The small stack had Aª/10¨ for the nut flush. But Big Stack had K¨/9ª for the straight flush and the $5000+ win. The small stack did take home more than $3300, though.

I still won nothing.


Pittsburgh Gets The Nasty

§§§ Notre Dame 42, Pittsburgh 21 §§§

Darius Walker points as he scores the first Notre Dame touchdown. (South Bend Tribune/Santiago Flores)

Memo to college football: The Irish are for real.

Head Coach Charlie Weis' vaunted NFL offensive attack produced as advertised, and the defense was more than adequate to lead Notre Dame to a 42-21 thrashing of 23rd-ranked Pittsburgh that wasn't even that close.

In fact, the Panthers' fate was sealed by the coin toss.

Pitt won the toss and elected to receive the ball first, planning on lighting up the Irish defense like they did last year at Notre Dame Stadium. And for that first drive, they did, striking for six on a 39-yard pass play from Tyler Palko to wide receiver Greg Lee. But the Irish responded with a touchdown of their own, courtesy of a 51-yard reception and scamper by running back Darius Walker.

After the Irish defense forced a three-and-out, Brady Quinn allowed an interception near midfield by Pitt corner Darrelle Revis, which the Panthers cashed in for a field goal.

It would be the only possession ND didn't score a touchdown with for virtually the entire first half.

After one incomplete pass on the ensuing drive, Irish quarterback Brady Quinn went on a streak of 11 straight completions. By the time Notre Dame took a knee to let the first half expire, they had scored four touchdowns, interrupted only by a Pitt field goal, to lead 35-13.

With the ball to start the second half, they went on a methodical, bruising 20-play drive that took up nearly half the third quarter, capped by fullback Rashon Powers-Neal's third rushing touchdown.

That broke the back of the Pitt offensive machine which torched the Irish defense for 41 points last year. Coming into this season, nine of those defensive starters had graduated, leaving many to wonder about how good the defense would be.

The answer? Good enough.

While Tyler Palko completed 20 of his 35 passes for 220 total yards through the air, the defense stiffened when it really counted, limiting Pitt to just four of 14 third-down conversions. In addition, the ND front seven sacked Palko five times.

The special teams, which head coach Charlie Weis promised major improvements for, was also a factor. Return coverage, routinely burned last year, was up to the task this year. In fact, the kickoff squad forced a Pitt fumble deep in their own territory, leading to the the fourth Irish touchdown on a 19-yard strike to Jeff Samardzija.

Brady Quinn finished the game 18-27 with 227 yards. In addition to 52 receiving yards, Darius Walker had 20 rushes for an even 100 yards. Rashon Powers-Neal contributed eight rushes for 41 yards and three touchdowns. Tight end Anthony Fasano led the Irish receiving corps with four catches for 42 yards, while Rhema McKnight added three receptions for 51 yards.

One historical footnote: Notre Dame and Pittsburgh have opened the season against each other three previous times, in 1943, 1976 and 1977. Each time, the winner of that game went on to win the national championship.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. While the victory was sweet, next week comes a daunting task: fourth-ranked Michigan, at the Big House in Ann Arbor.


Thursday, September 1

Hurricane Katrina Blog For Relief Day

September 1, 2005

Scroll down to "Hurricane Katrina Relief"


Location: Mishawaka, Indiana, United States

I graduated with an English degree from the University Of Notre Dame in 2001, and in 2008 I have a day job that has nothing to do with my degree but gets the bills paid in a semi-regular fashion. (I have running water five days a week!) The idea is that once I get turned around on my bills, I go to grad school. I also have an idea for cold fusion. Anyone's guess which will be feasible first. In non-work mode, I'm usually reading columns by famous and well-read thinkers, blogs by critically praised writers, or sometimes blogs by overzealous cranks who make me laugh. I yearn to be all three at once; until then I'll settle for being the third. I also have an undying love for the Chicago Cubs and Notre Dame football. Praise them and I'll buy you a beer; curse them and I'll dump it over your head. If that's not enough, I'm becoming quite the fan of no-limit Texas Hold'em. My games have one of two results: I either win all the money or whine because I didn't win all the money.

marchandchronicles -at- yahoo.com

Fair warning: I reserve the right to post any and all criticisms and flames, in their entirety. Seriously. Just ask this guy.

July 2006
May 2006
April 2006
January 2006

January | February | March | April
May | June | July | August
September | October | November | December

Essays on whatever I feel like writing about.

August 8, 2005: High Gas Prices
August 1, 2005: Judge Roberts' Hearings
June 20, 2005: Senator Durbin's Comments
May 23, 2005: Newsweek & Pepsi
May 2, 2005: Al Gore's MoveOn Speech
April 25, 2005: Lebanon
April 18, 2005: The Nuclear Option
April 11, 2005: Pope John Paul II
March 5, 2005: The Domino Effect
January 31, 2005: Iraqi Elections
January 24, 2005: Bush's Inaugural
January 17, 2005: Roemer, Dean & The DNC

WARNING: links, comments & trackbacks may contain profanities or other items of unscruples. marchand chronicles does not endorse any comment/opinion expressed in any such addendum.

A¨ A© aces
Steal The Blinds

A§ K§ ace-kings
RealClearPolitics: Index / Blog

A¨ Q¨ ace-queens
MY Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy
Michelle Malkin (no link: here's why)

A© J© ace-jacks
Captain's Quarters

Aª 10ª ace-tens
Riehl World View

K¨ Kª kings
James Lileks: The Bleat / Screedblog
Eject! Eject! Eject!
USS Clueless / den Beste @ RedState
Hugh Hewitt
Power Line
Little Green Footballs
Hog On Ice
protein wisdom
Ace Of Spades HQ

Q© Qª queens
a small victory
Little Miss Attila
LaShawn Barber
Virginia Postrel
You Know You Wanna

J§ J© jacks
InDC Journal
Best Of The Web Today
A Chequer-Board Of Nights And Days
Belmont Club
Tim Blair
Decision '08
Michael Barone
Big Lizards
Balloon Juice
Cold Fury
Jim Treacher
Baseball Crank

10§ 10¨ tens
Volokh Conspiracy
The Corner
Roger L. Simon
The Truth Laid Bear
Michael Totten
Galley Slaves
One Hand Clapping
Belgravia Dispatch
Paterrico's Pontifications
John Hawkins
Patrick Ruffini

K© Q§ paint
Day By Day
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Filibuster Cartoons
Daryl Cagle: Index / Blog

?? ?? jokers
Dave Barry
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Roller Coaster Of Hate

A© 6© suited
Kanka's Sports Page
MY Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy
Indiana Blogs!
A Cub Fan Rants
Steal The Blinds / You Know You Wanna
Riehl World View

9¨ 8§ connectors

10§ 2¨ brunsons
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From The Corner Of Grace And Wayne
The Cub Reporter
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Hoosier Daddy?
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8§ 8© 7© 7§ snowmen & walking sticks
NDToday Message Boards
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The Blue-Gray Sky
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fanblogs.com Notre Dame
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The Primary Main Objective
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7ª 2¨ rags
The American Spectator
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Washington Post
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Washington Times
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3§ 3¨ treys
Associated Press
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   First Read
Drudge Report
Power Line News
Sky News
Agence France-Presse

2© 2ª deuces
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New Donkey

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Contributor to Steal The Blinds


marchand chronicles has such massive readership and influence that it makes me weep.
—Glenn Reynolds


Damn right.


What's Your Line?


I absolutely love the name of your site.

Scott "Big Trunk" Johnson, Power Line
Just the name? Not the content? . . . I'll take it.

You have something in common with Dave Barry, Hemingway, and Mark Steyn: I'm not linking to them, either.


That's good stuff there Mark.

Dean Barnett, Soxblog
Psst, it's "Mike."

(click to buy)

St. Elsewhere
The Pulse: SIRIUS 9

All text and original images © MMVI by Mike Marchand/Marchand Chronicles.

Okay, so I don't really have a copyright. But I still don't want you ripping me off. Reprint it all over the Internet if you like, but give me proper credit and link back to me. Besides, if you're going to plagiarize, steal from someone with some talent.

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