i’m back.


I saw the guy not too long after Mrs. Crappy dropped me off on the North Shore.

He had the same build as me, and although he has much more gray hair than I do, I guessed we were about the same age. But there were plenty of old fat guys getting ready to run this morning’s Pittsburgh Marathon 5K, and the similarities I shared with this guy weren’t what caught my eye.

It was his Michigan shirt.

I am capable of being pretty competitive in general, but that’s typically the furthest thing from my mind if we’re talking about running. And as I thought about the race last night and this morning, the notion of beating anyone wasn’t even a consideration — I was concerned only about finishing.

Until I saw the Michigan shirt.

I started running again about a month ago, sporadically at first and, for the last two weeks, steadily following the old Couch to 5K program. I knew I wouldn’t be close to being able to run a full 5K by the time today came around, but I didn’t hesitate to enter the marathon’s 5K race. I thought — correctly, it turns out — that the race would provide a nice boost at a point in the C25K program where I have struggled in previous attempts.

But even before today’s race, I felt something different, closer to what this all felt like in the fall of 2011, when I completed C25K for the first time and ran my very first 5K. I found that I enjoyed running back then; that feeling carried over into the following winter, at least until I got hurt and had to stop. That was discouraging, enough so that I just stopped. I made a couple comeback attempts, but my heart wasn’t in it.

This time has felt different. There are things I needed to change, not the least of which was my fitness and my weight. The issues that existed in 2011 — high-stress job, family history of heart problems, love of beer and cheeseburgers — all still exist, almost two years later — which means I’ll be 47 on my next birthday, and I can’t simply can’t behave that way any longer.


I have a good start. And today’s race was a huge part of that. I love the energy you pick up before the start of a race; I also love the boost you get from seeing friendly faces — Kelly, Chelsea and, of course, Mrs. Crappy — and cheering strangers on the course. And the shot of adrenaline you get when the finish line comes into view is one of the best things ever.

I’ll do another 5K soon. When Mrs. Crappy — who has started running again as well — is ready, I want to do one with her. I’d love to do one a month for a while, with an eye on getting to a 10K or a half marathon sometime in the fall.

And, mostly, I want this to continue. Because this time, I’ve having fun again.

As I shuffled down Wood Street, I finally caught sight of the gray t-shirt again, the one worn by Michigan dude. The nice English lady just told me to walk, but I kept him in view as we rounded the corner to the Boulevard of the Allies and the home stretch to the finish line.

I didn’t wait for the nice English lady to tell me to run again. I knew I was going to be slow — my official finish time was 42:57 — but I was going to beat Michigan Guy to the finish line.


There’s a little uphill on the boulevard, but the last few hundred yards to the finish are slightly downhill — and that’s when I kicked. Perhaps I benefited from the fact that Michigan Guy wasn’t aware he was racing anyone, but I blew by him just after we crested the little hill and cruised to the finish.

Ohio State beats Michigan once again.

we have aaa winner.

Best dunk I've ever seen.

Best dunk I’ve ever seen.

No matter how much I complained about it last night, I’m happy I watched the championship game — it was the best title game I’ve seen in years.

I don’t know if Aunt Annoyed Angel watched last night’s title game, but I guess it doesn’t matter; by virtue of her eerily accurate tiebreaker choice, she’s the winner of the Eighth Annual Uncle Crappy NCAA Final Four Challenge (Brought To You By Bocktown).

AAA was one of eight people — including My Mom, who apparently is some kind of college basketball savant, having one our family’s Clark Kellogg Trophy for the third straight year — who finished with 12 points by correctly picking Louisville as the eventual NCAA champion. But her tiebreaker of 157 was just a single point off the actual total of 158 points, and she is our EAUCNFFC champion and winner of our generously donated Bocktown gift card.

I will admit to being nervous as I scanned the tiebreakers from our 12-Point Club, because two of  you — Casey and Calipanthergrl — each picked 142 points. I had flashbacks to last year’s tie — until I saw AAA’s entry.

As I mentioned before, this was a rough year. And that makes me that much more appreciative of everyone who participated, whether as a contestant or as  a sponsor (by which I mean Bocktown’s Chris Dilla). You guys are what makes this fun — well, that and the actual basketball — and I can guarantee we’ll be back again next year for NAUCNFFC.


Back in January, I wrote about an unpleasant decision: picking between Notre Dame and Alabama on the day of the football national championship game.

Today? Another title game, and another unhappy choice.

Back then, the basic choice was between a team I can’t stand versus a conference I hate above all others. This time, the choice is more complicated, because I’m picking between what should be good for my conference versus … uh … that Team Up North.

Let me make one thing clear — this doesn’t really have a whole lot to do with Louisville. I’ve lived there, I love the city and I’ve even seen a Dead show in the old Freedom Hall. And I have nothing at all against Rick Pitino; I was living in Kentucky when he took over at UK, and those undermanned teams were a blast to watch, what with the incessant threes and unrelenting full-court press.

No, this choice has everything to do with Michigan. Which is a word that is even uncomfortable for me to type.

Here’s the thing. My gut reaction is to want Michigan to not only lose, but lose badly. Don’t even want it to be close. Twenty points-plus. Back in January, I wrote about the terrifying potential for overbearing smugness on the part of ND fans, should the Irish win the championship; as I recall from 1997, Michigan fans are even worse, even if this is only a basketball title.

Don’t want any part of it. No thank you.

But then there’s this logical part of my brain — you know, the part that usually should keep you out of trouble. This time, my logical side is poking at me about how the Big Ten would benefit from a national championship tonight. It would help in a tangible sense and it would help improve the perception of the conference with those vote in polls or pick the participants in next year’s tournament. It would be a big deal for the B1G on nearly every level.

But shit, we’re talking about Michigan. If it were Michigan State, Indiana or maybe even Wisconsin, I wouldn’t have a problem. But it’s Michigan.

Or maybe two.

Or maybe two.

So what am I going to do? I’m going to have a beer and hope there’s something good on the History Channel.


I will, however, pay attention to tonight’s game, in the sense that we’re about to wrap up the Eighth Annual Uncle Crappy NCAA Final Four Challenge (Brought To You By Bocktown). I have done exactly zero work to figure out what has to happen for who to win whatever … but I’ll work all that out in the morning and let you know who’s won the Bocktown gift card so generously donated by Chris Dilla.


EAUCNFFC killer.

EAUCNFFC killer.

I knew it was going to be bad.

I didn’t think it would be this bad.

Thirty five people entered the Eighth Annual Uncle Crappy NCAA Final Four Challenge (Brought To You By Bocktown). And at the conclusion of the Elite Eight weekend, there are 16 — SIXTEEN — Blutarskys (and if you don’t know what that is, I’ll explain in a moment).

Given the general carnage of the tournament, I knew there would be some downright ugly entries — including mine, after Saturday night’s loss by Ohio State at the hands of Wichita State. But this, this is unprecendented in the history of AUCNFFC.

Before we get to the futility, let’s take a look at how everyone else is doing. There are a bunch of you who picked Louisville to not only make the Final Four, but to win the whole tournament. But in each of those cases, you guys had just one correct Final Four pick — the Cardinals — with the possibility of adding more points only if Looavull advances.

And yeah, it’s looking like the tiebreaker is going to be even more important this year than it was a year ago.

Those who have Louisville winning the tournament; in all cases, you two points for the correct Final Four pick and a possibility of 10 more:

  • My Mom
  • Aunt Annoyed Angel
  • Casey
  • Clara
  • Calipanthergrl
  • Barb
  • Scooter
  • Patrick

I think there’s one other person who would win the whole freakin’ thing, but she’d do it if Syracuse comes out on top. Jenn has the Orangemen beating Ohio State in the final (sigh); she has two points in hand and as many as 10 more to earn if ‘Cuse is the champion.

As we work our way down the standings, it’s worth pointing out that Pghrugbyref is actually our leader at the moment. He correctly picked both Louisville and Syracuse making the Final Four; unfortunately, he also picked Kansas and Ohio State to play in the title game, so he has no more points to earn.

And then we have the handful of people who made one correct Final Four pick — Louisville  — but don’t have that team going much further. These folks have two points in hand, with the possibility of earning four more. It ain’t going to be enough to win, but making any correct picks this year should be something to be proud of:

  • Tim
  • Fred
  • Kewyson

We have one more person in the Two Plus Four Club, but she got there via a different path. RPM has Syracuse going as far as the title game, but not winning the title.

Another group, this one including entries who gained two points for a correct Final Four pick but cannot earn any additional points:

  • Jaci
  • Ethel
  • Susan
  • Joe
  • Sheepthemoon

And that brings us to the special group, those of us who — this year, anyway — ride the college basketball short bus.

If you are new to AUCNFFC, you may not be familiar with the term Blutarsky. You are likely familiar with the scene from Animal House,  when members of Delta visit Dean Wormer in his office, to discuss the mid-term grades of the fraternity’s members. We all recall what happened when Wormer addresses John Belushi’s character. The words, at this point, are immortal.

“MISTER Blutarsky…”

Without further ado, the EAUCNFFC Blutarsky award winners:

  • Uncle Crappy
  • Mrs. Crappy
  • CrappyDad
  • DJ Lunchbox
  • HP
  • Bluzdude
  • Otimemore
  • Infinitebuffalo
  • Grandpa Caldwell
  • Styx4me
  • Carla
  • Kelly (and Evan)
  • Dish
  • Michael
  • Zombie Dudders
  • Juan

I would point out that this year’s tournament made it unusually difficult to make correct picks of any kind. I would point that out, but I would just be making excuses for my — our — pathetic performances. Thanks for playing, fellow Blutarskys — I hope we all do better next year.

eaucnffc (btybb) tipoff.

As usual, we have a whole buncha entries for the Eighth Annual Uncle Crappy NCAA Final Four Challenge (Brought To You By Bocktown) and, as usual, we have the longest post of the year to get through them all.

As is tradition, we’ll start with me:

Try and guess in what part of the country I grew up.

Michigan State vs. Ohio State/Georgetown vs. Indiana

Ohio State beats IU, and Tom Crean’s head literally explodes at center court following the game.

Tiebreaker: 140

As is tradition, we follow my picks with those of Mrs. Crappy:

Michigan State vs. Ohio State/Georgetown vs. Indiana

Indiana beats Michigan State

(No, she didn’t give me a tiebreaker. Yet.)

Family always comes first, right? Let’s start with CrappyDad:

Ohio State, Duke, Kansas, Miami

Ohio State beats Miami, 68-64

And then there’s My Mom (who doesn’t want anything Crappy attached to her name):

Ohio State, Louisville, Kansas, Indiana

Louisville beats Kansas, 69-65

And then the rest of yinz guys, in no particular order:

Our first entry came from first-time contestant DJ Lunchbox (which I promptly misplaced — sorry, Will):

Final Four: Oklahoma St. vs. Gonzaaga and Kansas vs. Indiana

Championship game: Oklahoma vs. Indiana

Champion: Indiana

Tiebreaker: 107

HP, who got some expert advice from her cat:

Kokopelli helped me with this. I would mention the game & then the winner….if he stared into space like his brain was off, it was no. If he blinked it was yes.

If he fell asleep it was a rematch later. Several cat naps and hours later, I had my results.

Duke Vs Gonzaga & Kansas Vs Marquette

Duke Vs Kansas

Kansas Wins 89-83

Tim, a past AUCNFFC champion, and a man of few words:

Louisville-OSU & Georgetown-Indiana, Lousiville-Indiana, Indiana TB: 136

Aunt Annoyed Angel, who has entered nearly every year, despite the following disclaimer:

Here we go. Picked totally at random, since I know nothing about basketball.

Final 4: Louisville & Gonzaga, Kansas St. & Indiana

Final 2: Louisville & Kansas St.

Winner: Louisville

Tie breaker: 157

My buddy Bluzdude, who is at least part Buckeye:

OK, here we go.

My picks are sponsored by Socrates, who said, “Knowledge is knowing that you know nothing.” Or was that Bill and Ted? Anyway…

Final Four: Duke vs OSU, Kansas vs Indiana

Semi’s: Duke vs Kansas

Champion: Kansas

Tiebreaker: 134

I did not know Otimemore when he submitted picks for the first time a year ago. He nearly won last year, and I’ve spent several nights drinking with him at Piper’s Pub since:

Duke, Wisconsin, Kansas, Miami

Wisconsin, Miami

Miami, 66-59

Infinitebuffalo, who, if I remember correctly, is a Michigan native:

Michigan State over Gonzaga. North Carolina over Marquette.

UNC over MSU (hey, I ain’t a complete homer).

Tiebreaker: 188.

Grandpa Caldwell, the Ohio State fan who went to school in Pittsburgh and now lives in Michigan, who is commenting on my initial doubts about the Buckeyes:

Final Four: OSU v. St. Louis; Georgetown v. Indiana

Championship: OSU v/ Georgetown

Champion: OSU

Tiebreaker: 142

Uncle Crappy – I’m with you on OSU, but I feel obligated to pick the bucks in at least one bracket every year; this COULD BE THE YEAR!

Long-time AUCNFFC contestant Mystery Michelle, AKA Curl Girl Michelle, AKA Styx4me:

My picks:

Final Four: Duke vs. Ohio St. and Kansas vs. Indiana

Championship: Duke vs. Kansas

Champion: Kansas

Tiebreaker: 148

Good luck everyone!

Jaci is another Buckeye; she gets points for honesty (and her apology):

Here we go….

Final Four: Louisville vs. Ohio State and Kansas vs. Indiana

Championship: Ohio State vs. Indiana

Champion: Indiana (sorry, OSU)

Tiebreaker: 145

Casey’s hungry for more free Bocktown:

Defending Co-Champion here, ready to defend my half crown.

Final Four: (1) Louisville vs (3) New Mexico / (2) Georgetown vs (1) Indiana

Finals: Louisville over Indiana

Tiebreak: 142 points

I didn’t actually meet Ohio State graduate Clara in person until later, but I met her, Twitter-wise, during last year’s tournament:

My EAUCNFFC entry:

Final Four: Louisville vs. Ohio State / Florida vs. Indiana

Championship game: Louisville vs. Florida

Champion: Louisville

(But I’d be more than happy to lose the EAUCNFFC if Ohio State wins)

Tiebreaker: 152

Go Bucks!

We not only have a Pghrugbyangel, but we also have a Pghrugbyref:

An entry to the EAUCNFFC (BTYBB) from PghRugbyRef

Final four:

Louisville, Kansas, Ohio State, Syracuse


Ohio State, Kansas



Final score total: 149

And also a Pghrugbyattorney; you’ll know her has regular AUCNFFC contestant Calipanthergrl (and no matter what she thinks, her picks are pretty good):

My selections are as follows:

Final Four: Louisville, Ohio State, Kansas, Indiana

Final: Indiana/Louisville

Champ: Louisville (74-68)

I actually think UL will have a tough time getting to the Final Four, but they have a legitimate shot to win this year so I can’t not pick them. *sigh* I look forward to being eliminated by the second weekend!

Carla and I did a show about the tournament for Draft Day Suit last night; while taping, she filed a kind of video entry, but you don’t have to sit through the whole thing to see it (EVEN THOUGH YOU SHOULD):

Michigan State vs. Gonzaga/Florida vs. Indiana

Indiana beats Gonzaga, 62-55

Barb’s disclaimer is kind of funny. How’d you like that Bocktown gift card last year?

Disclaimer: I know nothing about basketball (but co-won this last year).

Final 4: Louisville & Ohio State; Georgtown & Indiana
Final 2: Louisville & Georgetown
Winner: Louisville
Tie Breaker: 127

I think Ethel has played every single year:

OK, ready, finally. Louisville, OSU, Georgetown, Butler
Final: OSU vs. Butler
OSU wins 62-58

As has Fred, Ethel’s lovely and talented husband (via Ethel’s comment):

And an entry from Fred has surfaced in my email:

UL, Ohio State, Kansas, Miami
UL vs. Kansas
Kansas 80 -71

An entry from Susan, my favorite person on the internet that I haven’t had a chance to meet yet:

Louisville, N Mexico, Gtown, Indiana. New Mexico, Indiana. Indiana. 119

Kelly’s son Evan picked her brackets this year. Evan’s been raised as a Nittany Lion, so his picks are pretty funny (no matter what his mom thinks):

Pitt over Sparty

San Diego State over Indiana

Pitt over San Diego State, 111 points

I bet Joe would be happy to make the drive from Morgantown to claim the Bocktown gift card:

Final Four: Louisville v. Ohio St./Georgetown v. Indiana

Championship Game: Ohio St. v. Indiana

Champion: Indiana

Tiebreaker: 122

Welcome to first-time player Dish (and as I said on FB, I’m totally with him on the Duke thing):

You’ve convinced me! Semis: Michigan State over Ohio State (sorry!) and Indiana over Georgetown. Finals: Indiana over Michigan State, 63-57. And as always, my favorite part of the tournament is when Duke loses.

Former colleague Scooter, who knows better than to go with Pitt (even though I bet he’d like to):

Here’s the entry from Scooter’s G-Burg Gunners: Final Four: Louisville, New Mexico, Florida and Indiana

Championship Game: Louisville v. Indiana

Champion: Louisville

Points: 125

Michael joins us once again:

Final 4: Duke & Notre Dame; Kansas & Indiana

Final 2: Duke & Indiana

Winner: Indiana

Tie Breaker: 147

First-time player Jenn; I love that she feels like she has to apologize for her pick:

Final Four: Michigan State, OSU, Georgetown, Syracuse

Finals: OSU, Syracuse

Syracuse 67-OSU 63 (SORRY!)

Patrick (the wee lad) joins us for the first time:

First-time caller, long-time listener: Love the show!

Here is my 2-cents worth: Your Final Four will be Louisville vs. Gonzaga (sorry, Ohio State) and Kansas vs. Miami. Louisville and Miami then will clash with Louisville emerging victorious with a combined score of 138.

Just don’t tell my bookie where I live.

Zombie Dudders!

Final 4: Duke, Arizona, Kansas, and Indiana
Final 2: Arizona & Kansas
Winner: Kansas
Tie Breaker 132

RPM, whom I believe had help from one (or both?) of her daughters:

Final Four: Michigan St. v. Gonzaga, Syracuse v. Bucknell

Championship game: Gonzaga v. Syracuse

Champion: Gonzaga

tie breaker: 152

Sheepthemoon, whose dice seemed to do pretty well:

Disclaimer: I don’t follow college sports and know nothing about basketball. Guesses have been generated with me (A) being half asleep and/or (B) throwing dice.

Final 4: Louisville & Gonzaga, Florida & Syracuse.

Final 2: Louisville & Florida

Winner: Florida (gross. Stupid dice)

Tie Breaker: 133

Side note: Technically, dice chose Pitt to get into Final 4, but even I know not to bet on Pitt when it comes to hoops and the NCAA tournament.

One of my favorite annual sporting events: Kewyson’s dissection of the brackets:

Short on time – 12 noon now – 2 birds, a nut and a local yokal saying –

Louisville / OSU, with the Cards prevaiing (‘I shouldn’t have drank all of that Nyquil’ from Stripes reference gives the birds the power to beat out our Bucks.

Kansas / Indiana, with the boys from Bloomington beating out the Jayhawks – I believe their Harlem Globtrotter circus pants have special powers.

In the final, The Big Ten triumphs – not ony because we are the best league this year, but beacuase John Cougar hails from there, and kitties eat birds – and sing ditties. Total combined score – 144

And, as we do, we close with Juan, oh he of very little basketball knowledge. And here’s the thing, boys and girls — Phil’s mom did pretty well this year, even picking  a one seed — Gonzaga — to win it all:

Creighton vs. Gonzaga/UNC vs. Marquette

Gonzaga beats Marquette

(Editor’s note) I have no idea what to do about a tiebreaker here. I’m going to hope that we don’t actually need to use one here.

There you have it, boys and girls. Thanks again to Chris Dilla for the generous sponsorship, and thanks to each one of you who entered.

If I missed your entry or somehow screwed up something else (entirely possible), just let me know and I’ll get it fixed right away.

And, as usual, good luck to everyone. Especially Mrs. Crappy (Woooo, Bocktown dinner!).



In about 24 hours from right now, the 2013 NCAA men’s basketball tournament begins.

And that means you have about 24 hours from right now to get together your entry for the Eighth Annual Uncle Crappy NCAA Final Four Challenge (Brought To You By Bocktown).

By now, you know the deal:

  • It’s free.
  • Deadline is noon Thursday.
  • There’s a Bocktown gift card for the winner.
  • Rules and guidelines are here.

So. You’re waiting for what again?