Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Great Moments in Pool History - 2019

2019 - The Pool Ends on a High Note

We've been doing this 30 years, and we've decided that just might be enough. All Good Things, and all that. So we're somewhat sorry to say this has been the last Pre-NCAA Contest.

It's possible we'll change our mind, but if we were in your Nikes, we wouldn't count on it. If we do happen to flip-flop and go for a 31st year, you'll hear about here, on this blog, first.

It's been a blast running the contest all these years, and it's been great to cyber-meet and interact with you all. Enjoy your year, and may all your future tournaments be exciting.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Wahoo Wah

What a difference a year makes. Twelve months ago, Virginia was the laughingstock of college basketball, having become the first #1 seed to lose to a #16. Now, the Wahoos are champions.

Congratulations to Harlan, who won the contest and tied Brady's 24-year-old record with 379 points. Congrats also to C Whiteside (2nd place, 352 points), Warner (3rd place, 325 points), and Biebel 3 (first place after selection of the field).

Full standings may be found here or from the links on the right-hand side of the page.

Rivalry Report, 2019

In an earlier post we highlighted a few of our historical rivalries. And while B Peloso doesn't get to test his mettle against K Sullivan this year, several other rivalries are still hot and heavy.

Predictably, C Whiteside (312 points and Virginia as his champion) once again whomped Booth (231), giving Booth an all-time record against her arch-nemesis of 1-17 (a rousing 5.6% winning percentage). K Ripley's (239) record improved to 5-2 (71.4%) against her brother M Wanger (232), but dropped to 7-10-1 (41.7%) against her father R Wanger (268 and Virginia). For good measure, K Ripley conquered her brother's friend Avila too (237).

J Donadio (258) barely lost to son J Donadio Jr (260), and if Virginia wins he'll get eclipsed by daughter L Donadio (251 plus Virginia) as well. Dale Dye (253) and M Peloso (232) once again proved that women know best, at least when it comes to their own men (Doug Dye (250) and B Peloso (221)). And D Josephs (274 plus Virginia) edged son M Josephs (273 plus Virginia) by a mere point.

It's always wild and wacky in Leachville. This year 8th-grader Sami Leach not only declared she would be the best middle school contestant but vowed also to beat her sister Madi Leach. And what do you know but the kid walked the walk as well, as Sami Leach (289) not only spanked her older sister Madi Leach (262), but also her cousin (and high school basketball player) Elle Leach (272), her father P Leach (220), her grandfather Ed Leach (244), and every other Leach who dared to cross her path (Sup Leach (246 plus Virginia), L Leach (232), and of course cellar dweller Mash Leach (179)). If Texas Tech win tonight, Sami Leach will not only be our best middle schooler, but our fourth highest score of the year.

Things aren't so good for long-time contestant R Schlegel (258), who not only lost to his son L Schlegel (274), lost to his cousin Reid (273 plus Virginia), and if Virginia wins will have lost to his cousin's friend Blane (247 plus Virginia), but he also misspelled his own name on the entry form ("Rcik").

And that seems as good a place as any to end this report.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Tag Teams, 2019 edition

Way back in the early days of the contest, the Alliterative Acchiones plus some of their cohorts declared themselves the "Nova Gang." Other groups sprung up to challenge them, and before we knew it we had a fierce annual Tag Team competition. The Leach Clan was perhaps the most colorful (and least successful) of these groups, but from Arnie's Army of Bridge Players to Whiteside and his Enemies, every year was a contest within the contest.

This year, the top team of taggers was the Former Residents of 12A, who averaged 270.0 points, finishing ahead of the Schlegel Consortium (263.3) and the Friends of DBR (255.8). Finishing behind the leaders but ahead of our more traditional tag teams, Whiteside and his Enemies (252.0) can claim mediocrity ahead of Ripley Believe It or Nots (244.0). And as they have so many times over the years, the Leach Gang finished in the cellar, with a paltry average of 243.2.

In the name game, the best name for pool picking is clearly David (271.7), by a whopping 20+ points over Jeff (251.5), Kevin (249.8), Rick (247.5), Joe (also 247.5), John (246.4), and Matt (245.7). If your name is Mike (238.0) or George (211.5), witness protection might just be for you.

The #metoo movement has been big in the last year, but it's been going strong for decades in our contest and this year is no exception as females (261.1) came out on top of males (247.9) by quite a bit. Truth often comes out of the mouths of babes, and sometimes good gambling sense as well, as children (262.4) were significantly better than adults. The battle of the species gave us a true upset, as both humans (249.7) and canines (239.0) fell ignominiously to lawyers (257.0).

From a regional standpoint, New York City and environs (264.6) was a fine setting for prognostication, ahead of the Beltway area (254.7), greater Philadelphia (250.6), the deep South (244.0), and the far West (239.8). On a statewide basis, Tennessee (280.0) was tops, ahead of New York (270.8), Maryland (266.0), New Jersey (260.5), Illinois (250.7), and Pennsylvania (250.0). If you live in Virginia (249.0), California (243.5), Oregon (232.0), or Florida (220.0), witness protection might just be for you.

Among our favorite universities, Pitt is for pool-pickers (255.5), barely edging Duke fans (255.1), Penn State backers (238.8), Gonzaga aficionados (233.0), and Villanova enthusiasts (228.0). If you root for VCU, witness protection might just be for you (and how long you think that joke's gonna play?).

If you're in sales (236.5), you can try to convince us that you weren't the worst pool-picking profession, but we probably won't buy it. If you're in management (236.8), you might want to delegate the next time you play. If you're a teacher (244.3), your students (264.9) think they know better (and apparently do). If you're in the financial world (253.5), you might want to retire (254.3). And if you're an attorney (270.0), witness protection might just be for you (you knew it was coming one more time, right?).

So that's that. Another tag team tussle is behind us. Tomorrow, we'll wrap up with our Rivals Report and, oh yeah, there might be a basketball game going on. See you then.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

One more game

Two good games tonight. When it's over, Virginia will have played the entire tournament without facing any #1 or #2 seeds (their path has been 16-9-12-3-5-3), something that has only happened once since the tournament went to 64 teams in 1985. The one other time? The year our contest started, 1990, when UNLV faced a path of 16-8-12-11-4-3. Coincidence? We think not.

Harlan has won the pool, and C Whiteside has finished second. If the Hoos win, Harlan will tie Brady's all-time record for most points in our contest (379). Also happy if Hooville presides will be Warner, who will win third prize. If the Red Raiders win on Monday, Biebel 3 will take third place.

Great Moments in Pool History - Winners & Losers

Winners and Losers

Thirty years of winners. Thirty years of losers. Here are the full lists:

1990: D Kedson (360)
1991: N Sullivan (341)
1992: N Rosen (365)
1993: L Harlan (352)
1994: N Rosen (325)
1995: E Campbell (335)
1996: P Brady (379) -- ALL TIME HIGHEST POINTS
1997: Mash Leach (316)
1998: M Josephs (308)
1999: J Marsala (344)
2000: TIE: J Donadio Jr/N Mahalko (274)
2001: B Kedson (347)
2002: C Bland (346)
2003: G Brindisi (326)
2004: K Biebel (313)
2005: TIE: J Butscher/K Wanger (308)
2006: L Donadio (268)
2007: M Peloso (344)
2008: C Whiteside (361)
2009: TIE: C Nowakowski/R Wanger (328)
2010: J Crotty (317 - NON-PAYING); 1st prize: K Biebel (305)
2011: B Huffnagle (223) -- LOWEST 1ST PLACE SCORE
2012: L Harlan (356)
2013: A Sanders (295)
2014: N Baumgarten (257)
2015: D Tester (360 - NON-PAYING); 1st prize: N Baumgarten (354)
2016: M Peloso (325)
2017: N Naumgarten (339)
2018: J Donadio (302)
2019: L Harlan (379) -- ALL TIME HIGHEST POINTS

1990: D Horn (265) -- HIGHEST LAST PLACE SCORE
1991: TIE J Mannato/H Haynes (240)
1992: K Gray (186)
1993: J Henderson (216)
1994: TIEJ McCloskey/Mash Leach (150)
1995: D Kedson (196)
1996: Domino Leach (182)
1997: B Shaid (140)
1998: E Carson (102) -- ALL TIME LOWEST POINTS
1999: R Vigliotta (207)
2000: M Ubaldini (144)
2001: B Spitz (184)
2002: E Gordon (173)
2003: K Terhune (162)
2004: Z Ehrmann (173)
2005: J Harrison (166)
2006: Sami Leach (171)
2007: J Gordon (196)
2008: Madi Leach (192)
2009: Kids Leach (185)
2010: N Booth (169)
2011: B Wright (115)
2012: B Spitz (168)
2013: Urban's Angels (135)
2014: Urban's Angels (114)
2015: A Cristinzio (176)
2016: J Tharp (151)
2017: C Myers (172)
2018: R Simon (179)
2019: Mash Leach (179)

Friday, April 5, 2019

Great Moments in Pool History - 2014

2014 - Booth beats Whiteside

You know the guy. The one who constantly rubs it in your face, who taunts you with his successes at every opportunity, who trash talks his relatives, his co-workers, even his kids? The guy you just have to beat? Well apparently Booth knows him better. His name is Whiteside (C Whiteside, to be precise), and he's her brother-in-law.

Each year, as Spring approached, Booth thought "this is the year." She filled out her entry form, she crossed her fingers, she publicly announced her intentions to beat her nemesis. But from 2003 (Booth's first year in the contest) through 2013, it never happened.

2013 was especially painful, as Booth fell to Whiteside by a mere point, 219 to 218. It seemed like the dream would never come true.

And then it did. The very next year. In 2014, Booth bested Whiteside, by 20 points, no less (245 to 225). It was a great day for underdogs everywhere, a tribute to the impossible dream.

Booth hasn't beaten her brother-in-law since. Her overall record against her arch-rival: 1-16, a 5.9% success rate.

At least it's not zero.

But Booth vs. Whiteside is not the only blood feud we've instigated here.

K Ripley has been playing in the contest since she was K Wanger, and each year she has proclaimed her only goal is to beat her father (R Wanger), her brother (M Wanger), and her husband (P Ripley).

The good news is, she's been a lot more successful than Booth. While it's close, over the years she has a losing record against father R Wanger (7 wins, 9 losses, and a tie). She has managed to thrash brother M Wanger, 4 wins against 2 losses, and beat her husband P Ripley, 7 wins against 5 losses. She even managed to spank her son (A Ripley) in the only contest the tyke entered.

But no blog post about bitter competitors can be complete without mentioning B Peloso and K Sullivan. In her first contest, K Sullivan finished in second place. She proceeded to trash-talk B Peloso for an entire year, and it was on. K Sullivan beat her rival again in 1999, and again in 2000. And two out of three after that. But then B Peloso struck back, winning three of the next four years. Back and forth and back and forth. At this point, both suggest their only interest in entering is bragging rights over the other.

So what's the result? You guessed it: 9 wins for K Sullivan, 9 wins for B Peloso, and a tie (in 2014). Yep, it's a complete deadlock.

K Sullivan declined to enter the contest this year.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Great Moments in Pool History - in the Family Way

This has always been a family-friendly contest. Husbands and wives, parents and children, siblings, even occasionally family pets, have all entered the contest and competed against each other (and to a lesser extent, everybody else). But several families stand out, at least in sheer quantity. We'd like to mention some of them here.

One of the first families to participate in the contest was the family unit we dubbed the Alliterative Acchiones. Led by Bill, Buddy, and Butch - but later joined by Amy, Jake, and Maureen - they founded the first of our many tag teams (the Nova Gang) and participated year after year. Sadly, for the Acchiones, none of them ever won a contest...

...which is not something you can say about the Donadios. We've had five (5) Donadios participate in this contest (John, John Jr, Lucia, Mary Ellen, and Nicholas) and three (3) of them (60%) have won the contest: John Donadio in 2018; John Donadio, Jr in 2000 (tie); and Lucia Donadio in 2006. Pretty impressive for a group that all lives in the same house.

The Wangers/Ripleys, not all from the same house, have also represented well. It started with Randy Wanger and his two children, Mike and Kelly, but when Kelly got married, she dragged her husband Paul and child Aaron into it as well. As the two most eager participants, it's only fitting that the two contest winners from this family are Randy in 2009 (tie) and Kelly in 2005 (tie).

This commissioner's own family, the Kedsons, has also been well-represented. The commissioners wife (Susan), child (Brandon), parents (Len and Phyllis), mother-in-law (Bobbie Shaid), brother (Ira), nephew (Jack), cat (A Capella), brother's dog (Quasi), and brother's cat (Eesara) have all at one time participated in our contest. The commissioner himself (David Kedson) won the contest in 1990, then finished last in 1995. The commissioner's son Brandon won in 2001.

But the most prolific and flamboyant family to have graced the annals of our contest is undoubtedly the Leaches. Led by patriarch Ed Leach, no fewer than eleven (11) different Leach family members have participated in the pool: Ed, Elle, Kids, Domino, Leo, Madison, Mash, Perry, Samantha, Surprise, and in-law Manny Pogach. The entire clan can only collectively boast of one contest win (Mash Leach in 1997), but an amazing five (5) Leaches have finished dead last: Mash Leach in 1994; Domino Leach in 1996; Samantha Leach in 2006; Madison Leach in 2008, and Kids Leach in 2009. Fittingly, the outrageous Mash Leach will this year bring that total up to six (6) and become only the third multi-year last place finisher, as Mash has clinched the bottom spot in the 2019 contest.

Not So Great Moments in Pool History - 2015

2015 - Al Alberts leaves us

One of our greatest contestants was Al Alberts, who played in every contest from our initial one in 1990 through 2014. He didn't enter the contest in 2015, and we wondered why. When we found out, we eulogized him in this re-purposed post from 2015:

(cue the time machine...)
Post from Monday, March 2, 2015
Titled: "RIP, Al Alberts"

The commissioners are saddened to have learned that Alberts has passed on to that great sports book in the sky.

One of the few people who played in each of the first 25 Pre-NCAA contests, he was also one of our best recruiters, bringing friends and co-workers to the contest in droves. His highest contest achievement was a second place finish in 1996, but he was usually hanging out in the top 20.

We used to play in "Sportie Al's" weekly college basketball pool back when he worked at Urban Engineers, and remember him as a really nice guy who was totally devoted to sports. You can bet that wherever he is now, he's either running some heavenly pool or participating in one.

We'll miss you, Al. The contest won't be the same without you.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Great Moments in Pool History - 2010

2010 - A Better Omen

Yesterday we detailed our harrowing travel adventures leading to the 2009 Final Four. The very next year we got wise and drove to Indianapolis for a much more user-friendly experience, as chronicled in this re-purposed post from 2010:

(cue the time machine...)
Post from Wednesday, April 7, 2009
Titled: "The Omen"

We were looking for omens. It's a long drive from Philadelphia to Indianapolis, and on Friday, April 2, we were unsure what the weekend would bring. We crossed Pennsylvania without seeing anything unusual, and left West Virginia in the dust (which felt good). Soon after that, however, the psychic vibes became evident.

Two trucks vied for supremacy in the right and middle lanes, the one with "Baylor" scrawled across its side moving confidently ahead of the one reading "Old Dominion." An RV with "Georgetown" written in large letters seemed to be stuck in first gear as little compact cars with Ohio license plates raced past it.

And then we saw it. A towering pole with a sign in the shape of a crown, and a single word etched inside. And suddenly all our doubts evaporated into the Ohio air. We knew who the champion would be. And all seemed right with the world.

And yes, that really happened.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Not So Great Moments in Pool History - 2009

2009 - The commissioner's plane gets canceled

This particular commissioner traveled to 21 Final Fours from the year before the contest started (1989) through 2010 (plus a 22nd Final Four in 2015). Getting there is not always easy, however, as this re-purposed post from 2009 illustrates:

(cue the time machine...)
Post from Saturday, April 4, 2009
Titled: "Take your omens as you find them"

Sometimes one has to suffer for one's obsessions. This particular commissioner traveled to his 20th Final Four yesterday, a fact that utterly failed to impress the USAirways automatic assistant when it called four hours before the commissioner's scheduled departure time to inform him via pre-recorded message that his flight had been canceled. Humans working at USAirways were similarly unsympathetic, asserting that all other flights to Detroit were booked solid, leading to this lightly edited conversation in the commissioner's about-to-spontaneously-combust brain:

Commissioner: No kidding it's booked solid. It's the friggin' Final Four! You canceled my flight on four hours notice, you can't squeeze me onto another plane?

Unsympathetic USAir employee: Sorry, we're only required to do that if the situation is our fault.

C: I've had a reservation for four months and you canceled it on four hours notice. Whose fault is it?

UUE: Would you like to fly somewhere else?

C: Would you like to move the Final Four somewhere else?

Ultimately, we compromised on tickets to Akron/Canton, Ohio, a mere three and a half hour drive from Detroit, a flight which had the added advantage once we arrived at the Philadelphia airport of being postponed for four hours, making our door-to-door travel time a pleasant ten hours.

But that's not what this story is about.

We finally arrive at Akron and trudge out to our rental car, for which Hertz has compassionately agreed to charge us only $157 since we're picking the car up in Akron and dropping it off in Detroit the next day. The commissioner's eight-year-old son wanders around to the back of the car, to stow his backpack in the trunk, when he stops and calls out in horror, "OH, NO! Daddy come quick!"

We're standing in Ohio on our way to Michigan, but the license plate of our rental car says, "North Carolina."

So, that happened. We enjoyed that Final Four (though as Duke fans, not the end result). And we've been to Final Fours in Minneapolis twice (and both times our favorite team won), but (sadly) not this year.