DR9: I got me some

December 1, 2009

saint arnold divine reserve no 9

That, my friends, is Saint Arnold’s Divine Reserve No. 9, an Imperial Pumpkin Stout. What is an Imperial Pumpkin Stout, you might ask? I’ll let Saint A’s explain the beer for you:

Important: let this beer warm to at least 50° before enjoying.  This beer is black with some ruby highlights.  The nose is full of pumpkin pie spices and some alcohol.  There are notes of nutmeg, caraway and vanilla.  The taste starts with chocolate malt with a hint of spice and rolls into a warm spicy alcohol taste which has the effect of creating the balance that usually comes from the hop bitter.  There is some hop bitter on the finish, but not much.  Overall, this beer finishes relatively dry for such a big beer.  As it warms, the spices move forward in the taste and the chocolate moves to the finish.  The pumpkin provides a pleasant undertone and a nice mouthfeel.  The spices will probably fade some over time; they mellowed considerably while still in the fermenter.

There are only 1,500 6-packs, 23 half-barrels, and 20 1/6 barrels of this brew, and it’s a hot commodity in the Houston area right now. Several stores have already sold out, and others will be inundated with Saint Arnold fans in the next few days as the last couple of stores receive their shipment. This has to be the fastest a $15 6-pack of beer has ever sold.

Saint A’s has the hashtag of #DR9 already set up on twitter for those trying to find locations that still have it, and the tag has been surprisingly busy today. I’ll be doing my initial tasting a bit later tonight. I’ve got a differential equations exam tomorrow, and the 11% alcohol by volume may not be the best study catalyst.

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Questions for BigTenNetwork President

September 17, 2009

I’m supposed to be talking with a representative from the BTN tomorrow via telephone to discuss the new streaming venture available at video.bigtennetwork.com. I’ve got a list of questions going here right now. If you’ve got any other ideas, let me know in the comments. I’m not sure how much he’ll be able to answer, but I want to try as much as I can.

1) We’ve got a start. What sports can we expect this fall? I’ve seen volleyball and basketball on the schedule page already.

In 2009-10, the Big Ten Network is streaming a number of games in volleyball, exhibition and selected non-conference men’s basketball, selected non-conference and conference women’s basketball, men’s ice hockey, wrestling, baseball and softball.

Are you going to get to any of the bigger field sports this fall semester? (soccer, field hockey, etc)

2) On that same note, will televised basketball and football games be archived for the same price, or will people have to go to the BigTenTicket?

3) Judging by the initial sports chosen (except maybe baseball/softball), are these going to be stationary single-camera views only?

4)What is the limiting factor on number of games streamed? Money? People? Gauging Interest?

5) Looking at the sports listed in the schedule page, there are a couple non-BigTen sports listed such as lacrosse and ice hockey. Does the BTN have a policy on those broadcasts? Does it have to be an official NCAA sports to be streamed, specifically, would the BTN show Michigan lacrosse (or Penn State ice hockey) as only a club sport? Also, I assume ice hockey will be only selected, BigTen-member home games.

6) Are these broadcasts going to include full announcing crews? If so, are they furnished by the BigTen or by the individual schools through either students or SIDs?

7) Obviously I haven’t seen a game on it yet, how are the commercials embedded into the broadcast? Are there commercials embedded into the broadcast, as we’re paying for the viewing experience already?

8) With the issues brought up about streaming in the US vs internationally, will the streams be equally available to US and international viewers (live or not)?

9) How long does a game stay in “my games”? I saw something that said “the end of the season.” Can I get some clarification on what that means? Does that mean 4-6 weeks after the NCAA championship?

10) If I purchase a game that doesn’t end up being played/broadcast, whether for weather or technical issues, does the BTN have a refund policy?

11) Are you allowed to disclose why the BTN isn’t offering a team/season package?

12) ESPN360 is what most of my readers can compare your service to, which has raised the question, are their plans after the next negotiation with service providers to make streaming live televised games in the US?

13) Our readship obviously has plenty of other comments and suggestions, some streaming, some non-streaming related, rather than burdening you with some of these technical or philosophical questions, where can I direct their concerns and questions? Just as an example, I get plenty of comments about the BigTen’s greatest games’ commercial break teasers being spoilers.

14)


Saint Arnold’s Divine Reserve Commercial

September 10, 2009

St. Arnold’s has never been one to advertise. They’ve relied on word of mouth, quality 6-pack artwork, and their “tours” to do their advertising. Now, as they move into their new brewery, they’re taking on youtube. This is too awesome. A Billy Mays beer commercial for today’s release of Divine Reserve #8, a strong Scotch Ale coming in at 9.3%.

(HT: Fourth And Fifty)


Meta Somewhat Completed

August 8, 2009

With the recent MGoMerger completed, I’ve made a couple changes to the sidebar.  I’ve decided to get rid of the text at the top and place an updated version on the “About” page.  Along with that, I’ve edited my blog roll to reflect past and present works better.

Formerly on mgoblog will link to all posts I make on mgoblog (so long as I remember to tag them correctly) (updated: link corrected without using tags).  This should help me track all of my posts in an easier manner than what is available through the basic mgoblog functions.  I think it’s valuable for a writer to be able to link out their specific work, especially on a site where my work will be the minority.  This should help with in the future if I want to use mgoblog as a reference.

Formerly Tweets is a link to my twitter page.  Fomerly’s Fanposts links to my few posts on Maize ‘N Brew (among other places), for much the same reason as keeping my mgoblog author feed.

The MGoBlog Baseball and VarsityBlue Baseball posts link to just baseball specific posts.  Occasionally Tim, Paul, or even Brian may mention baseball, so I want to make sure I can still link out the entire baseball section of the respective sites to college baseball fans looking for information on Michigan.

I’m still not sure if I want to move former.ly.cious up on the side bar to the top or keep my search and archive functions closer to the top. I had contemplated adding a list of tags, but wordpress.com doesn’t offer enough choices on how to present it.  The only option I have is tag cloud, which draws all the attention away from the blog to the tag cloud with is counter productive.  We’ll see if this changes in the future.

If anyone has any other suggestions, let me know in the comments/email.


Foray in Michigan Volleyball

July 25, 2009

pvballMy baseball coach’s daughter playing for my high school now. Jesus, I remember when she was like 12. Now she’s their ace.

As mentioned previously, I’m also looking to expand coverage of the Michigan Volleyball team.  I’ve found in my home town, the sports of baseball and volleyball go hand in hand.  The two sports are on complete opposite ends of the sports scheduling spectrum, making it easy for the two teams to see the other play.  As a baseball player, I was never stuck in practice and unable to see the volleyball team play.  Same went for the volleyball players who would fill the baseball stands.  And yes, we did pack each others’ games.  By my senior year, the baseball team packed the student section with the “bleacher bums” equipped with t-shirts made by the volleyball players.  Come spring, they were our “bleacher babes.”  It was a great (however stereotypical suburban high school) relationship between the two teams.

It also stretched past the fields.  Many of the baseball players, including myself (however badly that ended up in retrospect), dated volleyball players.  Two of my best friends in life are still a pair of volleyball players from my time at high school.  The two teams just gelled, and it has had a lasting effect on my sports fandom.

It’s not just me.

I’ve always been a fan of playing volleyball and volleyball-esque games.  Since becoming inundated with the game through my then girlfriend, I would estimate I’ve played more volleyball than any other sport.  It started with playing volleyball a town over at their lighted sand courts, but in college, it hit a new high.  I joined Alpha Delta Phi (yes, the one with the volleyball court out front).  While opinions of us may vary depending on who you talk to or who you may know, the volleyball court is probably the most defining feature of our house.

Many of my greatest memories of the house happened while playing on the volleyball court.  While there were obviously great bonds built, every year those started at the same spot.  Every August, as move in is just beginning, volleyball becomes the focus.  Guys in the house, passerby’s on the street, volleyball is that fun distraction that drew us all in.  It’s where we’d catch up with our brothers and friends we’ve missed over the last four months.

As college went on, I was introduced to wally-ball.  For those of you not familiar with this particular intramural, you’re really missing out.  It’s volleyball meets racquetball.  You play in the racquetball court and off walls.  The season I played co-ed with my house and the sister sorority de jour was one of my favorite experiences in IM sports.

After I left Michigan, I worked in Chicago for a year and had a brief stint with a men’s club team there.   My work schedule limited my participation, but it was interesting none-the-less.  While being one of only two straight guys on our team of 12 was awkward, being able to smash down as an right side hitter was a great release from the rigorous travel schedule at work.

Since returning home to Houston, I’ve tried to make a point to get out at least once a month to the volleyball courts.  I’ve also made it a goal to see more high school and college games.  Last year, I was lucky enough to catch Michigan play at the Rice Invitational.  I think I was the only non-parent at the game.  I watched Bower and Paz, two players I will probably write a bit more about soon, rip up Louisiana Lafayette in 3 straight games.   It was awesome.  It was also the last time I got to see Kerry Hance – dig through enough old haloscan comment sections of mgoblog v1.0 and it may reveal some drooling over her on my part.  But sigh, she’s graduated on to bigger and better things.

08 Team, There’s Kerry, front and center… (pic from mgoblue)

I occasionally posted a brief fanpost on maizenbrew or mgoblog, but I never really got into the blogging thing.  That post, along with my blogging of the baseball Big10 tournament in 2008, though, lead me to start the blogging of baseball full time.

So that brings us back to now.  After a season of baseball blogging, I’m looking to also bring in volleyball.  I’m not really sure how I’m going to go at it though.  I’m running into several problems, most notably lack of media coverage.  I’m hoping the opening series at the Nebraska/Runza/AVCA Showcase will make it onto CBS College Sports or ESPNU.  This being THE tournament of the volleyball season (imagine the preseason-NIT but bigger), there is a good chance that much of it will be televised, especially our match versus home team and probably preseason top 3 team Nebraska.

After that, the BigTenNetwork hasn’t released any programming schedules with regard to volleyball.  Last year’s coverage was meager at best. They only offered 20 conference games (one per night) over the course of the season, seven of which included Michigan.  I’m really hoping we can see more streamed coverage from either BTN or MGoBlue.com.  I’m not expecting it though.

We’ll see how things go over the next few weeks.  I’ll probably start with previews and background information here, then post them as diaries on mgoblog as a litmus test for how fans respond.  I’ve been informed that the volleyball team has quite a cult following, and I’m hoping I can offer them more coverage as they desire.

Women’s volleyball is hot, your argument is invalid.

I’m somewhat afraid that the mgoblog community isn’t the greatest platform to start coverage.  Many fans on there aren’t really fans of the school as much as they are the football team.  To invite fans of the school (as you almost have to be in to be a supporter of a non-revenue sport) into this pre-existing community could scare off some readership.  I really liked the community feeling we were gaining at VarsityBlue with the baseball crowd.  I’m not sure they’ll care to put up with the football crowd.  So those are just the thought’s I’m having right now.

Depending on how Brian orients his site as a source, it could work out nicely or play to my fears.  If my posts are semi-buried, I may be able to insulate the non-revenue varsity sports fans from the ridiculousness that is mgoboard.  Unfortunately, I anticipate that that crowd will seep over regardless of how I try to insulate my posts.

That said, insulating my posts isn’t something I really want to do.  By trying to set myself apart, I lose exposure for the sport coverage.  I’m not sure what the best option is.  I think the best option going forward is to post here and then diaries, hoping to do something like 40Acres does at BurntOrangeNation with his baseball posts.  I can post tid-bit recaps without much substance just to say, “hey, volleyball exists and they won.”  Make those posts on Sunday before football posting kicks in with thought out reflections as a hold over.

But as I’ve said, I’ve got time to figure that out.


I’ve Been Bought Out

July 24, 2009

News finally broke today that VarsityBlue, my home to Michigan baseball coverage the last 5 months, has been absorbed by MGoBlog – the leader in University of Michigan sports coverage not related to the actual school.  For those of you not familiar with the sports blogging world, Brian, the creator of MGoBlog, is widely heralded for being an innovator when it comes to the medium (college sporting blogs related to a specific school, and to an extent, college sports in general).  His site, created as a writing outlet for a fan, has grown into one of the largest individual sites dedicated to college football.  He became so successful that he was able to give up his job as an software engineer and do the blog full time – and for good money.

Now, after experimenting with a recruiting correspondent for a few months, Brian is looking to absorb VarsityBlue with Tim as a lead reporter, Paul as an Ann Arbor based correspondent (Tim’s not always in Ann Arbor), and me doing baseball.   This is a great chance for me to increase exposure of not only Michigan baseball, but my own writing.  I’m not opposed to either of those, obviously.  Really, that goals post was written the day before I found out there were plans for the absorbtion.  At least I have a plan to put towards Brian now at least?

So while details on my role have been sparse, I’m hoping to start getting things kicking in the next few weeks.  I’ve got to discuss with Brian his thoughts on other minor sports, particularly ones that happen during football season.  I’ve got some ideas about limited volleyball coverage, but I need to run it by him.  The goal of the merger appears to be making MGoBlog into the media center for Michigan sports coverage, which means any new coverage would be warranted.  Brian’s already discussing the problem of providing too much content, which is a very valid concern.  If there’s too much, people will just be overwhelmed by the content.  I’ll play it by ear.

Also, with the transition to MGoBlog, I’m contemplating my current use of anonymity.  With VarsityBlue, as well as commenting on MGoBlog for the last two years, I’ve stuck with the tag name of formerlyanonymous.  I’m contemplating going to my real name for posting there not only for exposure, but more importantly for validity.  By putting my name to my work, I’m taking a larger responsibility in what I say and think.  I can’t hide behind the faceless entity of “formerlyanonymous.”  I would put my work to my name, which will help with my credibility as a writer.  Plus, I mean it makes me even more “formerly anonymous.”  And who doesn’t like clever tags like that?

I’ll be updating some links, tags, and categories on here in the meantime.  Once I know how the new MGoBlog will work, I’ll provide an update along with creating an RSS feed of posts on the new big site.

Excitement.


Goals for Michigan Baseball on Varsity Blue

July 3, 2009

This is more something for me, but perhaps some of you might be interested in what I’m working on.-FA

While my posts here at formerlyanonymous are of the sporadic, as-it-happens sort of substance, my posts at VarsityBlue are much more targeted.  It’s plainly obvious that much of what I do there is rehash games and add a little extra opinion to the standard press releases offered by MGoBlue.  My goal for next season is to increase that coverage a little bit more.  I want to help encapsulate the history and tradition that makes Michigan baseball the storied program that it is.

Most people, even pretty strong Michigan fans, don’t have any idea of the baseball juggernaut the Wolverines used to be.  This is a real shame, because, along with winning, all a fan wants is that their team be meaningful.  With the state of college baseball being what it is – south dominates and the north is left to be “mid major” or worse despite having well over half the teams – it’s very easy for fans to be lost when it comes to Michigan baseball.  It’s a non-revenue sport.  It’s played for the most part after students are already off campus.  The stadium is tucked away from the main streets of campus.  There just isn’t much enthusiasm to see games in potential snow storms.  There are just way too many factors against it.

I know I’m not going to change those factors.  What I can do is get people excited about history and tradition, something I’ve found many Michigan fans value more than common sense (see: #1 jersey mess of last year).  The following are some of the ways I’m thinking about cashing in on nostalgia:

  • A series on “Players Past.”  Included in this would be a list of the most famous of Michigan baseball players.  I’d give a bio of players such as George Sisler, Bill Freehan, and Barry Larkin.  I also want a separate section on players currently in professional baseball, both majors and minors.
  • Michigan Records.  This one is a little bit harder with the resources I have available.  I’d like to get a list of Michigan team records, Michigan BigTen records (I have a copy of this), and anything else where Michigan is the “Leaders and Best” type-things.  Comparing Michigan’s overall record and # of wins to the NCAA.  To start the 2009 year, we were #4 in total wins (still #4 as Stanford is 40 games behind us) and #18 in winning percentage (fell to at least #19 behind Texas A&M this season).
  • World Series Recaps.  While Michigan hasn’t made it to a CWS in a long time, they still have a couple appearances.  I want to recap these big moments.
  • The NCAA violations.  With the 1989 sanctions, I think its important that fans get the whole picture, not just the happy moments.  If anything, we can compare it to the basketball sanctions, showing how far a program can come when down.

After that, I’m planning on havnig my season previews much like last year.  I’ll start with the recent class of seniors that left.  Then I’ll move to returners on the mound, recapping their 2009 campaign and summer ball where available.  Then I’ll move to the offense/defense and do the same.  I’ll probably pepper in the new guys with the returners as there is little I’ll know about them going in.

I’ve already got a good jump on the “Players Past” section, with 5 already completed and a couple more on the way later this week.  I think the big plan is to have as much of the early season stuff done early so I get a good jump on next year.  I found that this last season was so quick to escalate into a regular thing that I really felt overworked in the first few weeks.  It started with just a few previews over at Maizenbrew and all of a sudden, I get a call to post on VarsityBlue regularly.

As far as after the preseason, the other thing I really want to work on is obtaining interviews.  It’s going to be a little bit harder to do this from Houston, but I’d like to get an interview with either players, or even possibly Coach Maloney here or there.  If things work well enough, possibly even ex-players.  I find interviews offer the best view into how a team is performing and what players are like.  I’ll be the first to admit that what draws me into baseball is the personalities.  While I haven’t met any of the current players, I have pseudo-personality traits for many of them.  Each guy is one I can’t help but root for.  Things like the Captain’s Corner Blog on MGoBlue just solidified those personalities.  It was great.  I want to be able to share these kids with more fans.  They deserve it, and I really think interviews are a great way to bring that out.

So with that, I think I have my two goals for the next year.  First, I want a tradition laden preseason – something to draw in a few extra fans.  Second, I want to get at least one good interview.