Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Intersection of Sport and Spectacle, Professional Wrestling

Story and Photos by Jose Cuevas

Jose Cuevas and his sister with Piloto Suicida
SYRACUSE, N.Y. – I remember when I was a young boy my dad would take me to a local venue in Compton, Calif. to watch Lucha Libre. The term may sound familiar, it embodies the high flying style of professional wrestling made famous in Mexico by luchadors. 

These warriors would don elaborate masks and even capes as they battled in the ring. I remember my favorite luchador was "Piloto Suicida" and was lucky enough to have the photo you see to your right taken alongside my sister. I marveled at the athleticism and acrobatics they would perform on the ring. 

Beyond the amazing feats, I was also enthralled by the battles between the "rudos" and "tecnicos", essentially the good guys versus the bad guys. Every Saturday my dad would take us to watch the eternal battles between los rudos and los tecnicos.

I wondered how they kept battling every weekend despite performing death-defying leaps, taking slam after slam, and receiving hard chops across their chests that would resonate like gunshots. They even rewarded my curiosity by telling me how tough they were and that if I worked hard when I grew up I could be just as tough.

As I grew older I immersed myself further in professional wrestling, watching World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and the now defunct World Championship Wrestling (WCW). I watched Hulk Hogan, "Nature Boy" Ric Flair, The Icon "Sting,""Stone Cold" Steve Austin, The Rock, "Big Poppa Pump" Scott Steiner, Rey Mysterio, and Eddie Guerrero.

Fast forward to the present day and I found myself at NBT Bank Stadium on a Saturday night in August covering my first professional wrestling event. Big Time Wrestling produced an impressive card featuring some of the all time greats including The Icon "Sting," "Big Poppa Pump" Scott Steiner, Billy Gunn, and Sabu. 

                                                                   The Athleticism


A luchador performing a springboard cross body press

A constant from the first to last match was the feats of athleticism. Pictured above is a luchador performing a springboard cross body press which is a dangerous and complicated maneuver. It consists of jumping onto the top rope, using it as a springboard, and throwing one's body onto the opponent. 


A wrestler performing a suplex with a bridge




It's not just high flying moves that should be appreciated. Above is a wrestler performing a suplex, a very complicated amateur wrestling maneuver which consists of throwing your opponent over your head while bridging with your neck to hold him in a pinning position. It's a dangerous maneuver that even seasoned wrestlers have trouble performing. 

                                                                     The Spectacle 



Big Time Wrestling champion Flex Armstrong feigning a handshake to lure his opponent into a gut kick

Professional wrestling also encapsulates a mythos that transcends time itself, the struggle between good and bad. At the core of a professional wrestling match is the battle between a "face", a good guy, and a "heel", a bad guy. Pictured above is the heel pulling one of the oldest tricks in the book. He reaches out his hand in a show of sportsmanship, appealing to the kind nature of his opponent. As his opponent finally accepts the handshake the heel kicks him in the gut, taking advantage of his opponent's kindness. 


Flex Armstrong taunting the crowd and his opponent

The heel will also at times showboat. He will do anything and everything to antagonize his opponent and the fans. Athletes who are cocky usually draw the ire of fans.Pro wrestling heels take that resentment and utilize it to tell enthralling stories in the ring. The end goal is to win. It doesn't matter the methodology of how victory is achieved. The ends justify the means. 


The good guys celebrating their victory with the crowd

Faces yearn to be the hero of the day. They encapsulate the honest and humble athlete. They are the fan favorites. Pictured above is a tag-team of faces that just defeated their opponents. They celebrate with the audience and are cheered for their winning efforts. 

                                                           The Hard-Hitting Action


Sabu performing a diving leg drop onto Gangrel

The event was filled with intense action. None was more intense than Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) legend Sabu performing a flying leg drop through a table. The match was contested under "hardcore rules" which essentially means there are no rules. These matches test the toughness of each individual as the action transcends basic professional wrestling maneuvers and replaces them with unconventional weapons and hard hitting action. 


The match leaves both men near their limits battered and bruised.

                                                           A Clash of Ring Legends


"Big Poppa Pump" Scott Steiner makes his entrance

"Bad Ass" Billy Gunn makes his entrance
Two legends from the "glory days" of professional wrestling wrestled at the event. Their rivalry hearkened back the days of the infamous "Monday night wars" where WCW and WWE would go head to head every Monday night. During this time Billy Gunn and De-generation-X (DX) would showcase their talents on WWE Monday Night Raw while Scott Steiner and the New World Order (NWO) would showcase their talents on WCW Monday Nitro. The two would consistently antagonize one another and throw insults across the airwaves. 

Billy Gunn and Scott Steiner renewed their rivalry by putting on a wrestling showcase in the main event. The match was technical and intentional. Everything these men did in the ring meant something, it showed why they are legends. Steiner delivered hard-hitting strikes while antagonizing the crowd. Gunn recovered and delivered his patented finishing maneuver, the "fameasser" for the victory.


                                               The Intersection of Sport and Spectacle 

The event was full of maneuvers that most trained athletes would be afraid to perform. These wrestlers performed them while ensuring that they did not injure themselves or their opponents. They used their bodies to tell stories in a way that only they can. Whether it be by slamming each other, delivering a flying cross body, executing a suplex with a bridge, flying off the top rope onto a table, or delivering their finishing maneuver. 

Professional Wrestling walks a fine line between sport and spectacle because it is the only art form of its kind that can do it. It synthesizes the eternal battle of good versus bad, hard-hitting action, athleticism, and storytelling. 

The event at NBT Bank Stadium reminded me of when I was that little boy who wondered how these warriors could do such amazing maneuvers while creating a one of a kind spectacle. To ask whether professional wrestling is either sport or spectacle is the wrong question, it is a symbiotic pairing of the two, it is both in one refined package.

Cuse Women's Soccer Draws with #14 UCONN

Story and Photos by Matt St. Jean

SYRACUSE, N.Y. --- The Orange Women's Soccer team hosted the 14th ranked UCONN Huskies for their home opener. The underdog Orange managed to obtain a point from the match, tying the Huskies 1-1 in a two-overtime grind.

The Orange women notched a 75th minute goal to take a one-nil lead. However, they were unable to hold the lead long as the Huskies scored four minutes later.

"We had good spells, but [UCONN] did a really nice job of putting us under pressure," Syracuse head coach Phil Wheddon said. "We'll take a point against them, but we would have much rather had three."

Tough Matchup

Fresh off a two-nil victory over the Bucknell Bison this past Friday, the Syracuse Orange Women's Soccer team laced up its cleats to take on a much tougher opponent in the ranked Huskies.

The former Big East rivals have had a a one-sided past as UCONN holds a 18-1-1 record against the Orange. Coach Wheddon emphasized having a top-ranked side this early season is beneficial to the team's development.

"UCONN's a very good team, they're always in the NCAA tournament, and that's why we're playing them." Wheddon said.

Defense Steps Up in First Half

Right out of the gate UCONN showed why it is ranked in the top 25 of the United Soccer Coaches Poll. The Huskies maintained calm possession of the ball in the midfield and on several occasions in the first 15 minutes had solid looks at the net. Goalkeeper Courtney Brosnan put a stop to the attempts, but the pace of the game looked to be to UCONN's advantage.

Syracuse's defensive trio of Shannon Aviza, Tayor Bennett, and Jessica Vigna hunkered down and made clean tackles. UCONN had three shots on target in the first 15 minutes and just one for the remainder of the opening half.

Offensively, the Orange had difficulty maintaining possession in the middle of the field and as a result, created few quality chances at the enemy net.

"They out-competed us for the first 45 minutes," Wheddon said. "We didn't settle down and get into a rhythm, they were quite direct in the way they played."

Despite the quality build up in the midfield, the Huskies couldn't break through the back lines of Syracuse and the teams went into the dressing rooms in a scoreless tie at the half.

The Pace Quickens

Similar to the beginning of the first half, the Huskies came out firing on all cylinders in the second, hunting for the go-ahead goal. Again, the Syracuse defense was up to the task. Brosnan made several diving stops and Vigna seemed to be all over the field putting a halt to UCONN's progress.

"They had a lot of good players up top, a lot of speed, they were very physical," Brosnan said. "It was important for us to keep our marks and communication helps with that."

Stopping the initial onslaught from UCONN, the Orange began to find some rhythm. Wing backs, Eva Gordon and Alana O'Neill sprinted up and down their respective sidelines providing outlets for the defense and advancing the ball deep into the UCONN half of the field.

Scoreboard Lights Up

Syracuse began to mount consistent attacks on the Husky defense and the momentum began to shift. In the 75th minute, Alex Lamontagne received a pass from Sheridan Street right in front of the net. Lamontagne's first attempt was stopped by UCONN keeper Mollie Kerrigan, but the rebound came right back to her and the second time, she didn't miss.

"I tried to volley it and [Kerrigan] saved it." Lamontagne said. "I just tried to blast it again right past her. Got to go in somehow, so I made sure it went in."

Down one, the Huskies responded quickly. Four minutes after Syracuse's goal, UCONN's Tanya Altrui broke free at the top of the box and delivered a perfectly weighted pass to a cutting Zoe Steck, who buried a shot in the back of the net to knot the game at one.

Extra Time

After 90 minutes of physical, fast-paced soccer, the teams readied for two 10-minute sudden death periods. UCONN was again the aggressor coming out of the break. The Huskies put the Orange on its heels for nearly the entire extra 20 minutes.

In one of the three corner kicks the Huskies won, the ball came curling into the middle and bounced to the foot of Steck. As she prepared to fire a game-winning rocket, Brosnan came across the goal and with an outstretched hand deflected the ball, saving the tie for the Orange.

"It was just reaction, just instinct, to keep the ball from going into the back of the net." Brosnan said.

The Huskies out-shot the Orange six to one in the two extra time periods, but none of the attempts succeeded and the game ended in a one-one draw.

While he wanted the win, Wheddon said he was encouraged by his team's play.

"I thought as the game went on we became more and more competitive and we matched them physically," Wheddon said. "I applaud our players for really gutting it out to get a point out of this game."

Up Next for the Orange

On Thursday, the Orange heads to West Point to face off against the Black Knights of Army. Army also holds a 1-0-1 record coming off a victory against Iona and a draw against UMass-Lowell. In the last meeting between the two sides, Syracuse defeated Army at home, one-nil.



Saturday, August 19, 2017

Bats Come Alive, Chiefs Trounce Tribe

Story and Photos by Matt St. Jean

SYRACUSE, N.Y. --- Led by Irving Falu and Matt Skole, the Chiefs put on a display of offensive might at NBT Bank Stadium Friday night, beating the South division-leading Indianapolis Indians 11-5. The win for the Chiefs snapped a four-game skid against the Indians and was a remarkable turnaround from the night before.

Dialed-In

Thursday night against the Durham Bulls, the Chiefs had found themselves in a four-to-nothing hole before any of them stepped into the batter's box. On Friday, it was the Chiefs who got off to a fast start.

Center fielder Zach Collier set the tone, hitting a seeing-eye single to center to lead off the bottom of the first. After Falu grounded out, Neftali Soto smashed a line-drive into the gap, scoring the game's first run. Soto slid into third for his first triple of the season. Snyder then drew a walk to put runners on the corners with no outs for Skole.

Skole returned to action on Thursday after a stint on the disabled list and struck out in all four at-bats. Friday night, with two strikes, he made solid contact, driving the ball to deep center field. The ball bounced on the warning track and went over the wall for a ground-rule double. The double was one of three extra-base hits for the first baseman.

"It was nice to get a hit, drive in a run, to realize I'm here for a reason, after a rough night." Skole said. "[Thursday] I was super excited to be back, but tonight I decided to slow the game down a little bit, let the game come to me and trust my ability."

With two runs already across, the Chiefs weren't done yet. They took advantage of an error by Indians first baseman Joey Terdoslavich, which allowed Snyder to score from third. Michael Almanzar added salt to the wound when he doubled down the third base line scoring both Skole and Spencer Kieboom  to put the Chiefs up five to zip at the end of the first.

Simms Solid, Room to Improve

The starting pitching match-up pitted Syracuse's John Simms (1-3, 7.67 ERA), who had just recently been called up from AA, against Tyler Eppler (6-8, 5.29 ERA), who made his 19th start for the Indians. Eppler spotted Simms a five-run cushion in the first, but Simms ran into a bit of trouble himself, soon after.

In the top of the second, Simms surrendered two runs on a RBI single from Jacob Stallings and a sacrifice fly by Gift Ngoepe. In the fifth, he gave up a two-run bomb to Danny Ortiz. Simms was blessed with good run support, but Chiefs manager Billy Gardner says the young gun has some work to do.

"He had trouble with his secondary pitches, getting them over [for strikes], they were sitting on his fastball," Gardner said. "If you want to get to the next level, you need to have three pitches."

Simms earned his first win for the Chiefs pitching six innings allowing four runs on five hits with three walks and two strikeouts.

Indians' Nightmare on the Mound

For the Indians, Eppler may as well have been throwing a beach ball. In addition to the first inning, Eppler allowed back-to-back RBI doubles to Snyder and Skole in the second and then a two-run bomb to Falu in the fourth. He finished with four innings pitched, 10 hits, nine runs (eight earned), one walk and one strikeout.

"A lot of good approaches tonight, hitting on a line, short to ball, hunting fastball," Gardner said.

Life didn't get any easier for the bullpen. In his second inning of work, Brett McKinney left a belt-high fastball over the inside part of the plate to Falu, who deposited the offering over the right field wall.

"I knew he was going to pitch me in," Falu said. "That's my pitch, man, and when it comes I don't miss it."

In the seventh, Johnny Barbato served up a spicy meatball to Matt Skole who launched it over the wall for his eighth home run on the season and the 11th run for the Chiefs.

"I wasn't really trying to hit a homer at all," Skole said. "Just trying to get a good pitch to hit, a good swing, make sure my time was right and it just happened to fall right into my barrel."

The Series Continues

 Syracuse looks to make in two in a row tonight at 7:05 p.m. at historic NBT Bank Stadium. A.J. Cole (4-4, 5.66 ERA) toes the rubber for the Chiefs against Clay Holmes (9-5, 3.26 ERA).


BONUS FOOTAGE: The famous Washington Nationals mascots, the Presidents were in town and ran their signature President's Race after the third inning:











Friday, August 18, 2017

Marcos Villegas: the man behind Youtube's #1 boxing channel

Story by Jose Cuevas
Photo courtesy of Marcos Villegas

SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Marcos Villegas comes from a small town in the high desert of California. The town is called Quartz Hill, he later attended the California State University, Fullerton where he studied Advertising and Radio, Television, and Film 


He now has the most subscribed to boxing channel on Youtube.

Villegas did not intend to enter the profession at first, however as he assisted a MMA company in putting together a fight everything changed. "the digital plan was to get video content for them. So that's kind of how it started. They didn't have anyone to interview the fighters. So I just started going ahead and doing it and then I felt like it was something that I liked to do" said Villegas. 

He later sought out mentors and learned the ropes of the profession, while slowly building his brand. He felt he had a knack for interviewing since he was a young man, "Even when interacting with people outside of all of this from a very young age it was it was just very easy for people to open up to me when I'm talking with them," said Villegas

He sees a lot of opportunity in digital media, but also a lot of challenges as he has to consistently prove himself and work extra hard to get interviews with big names. "If you're with a big outlet. You're not going to face a lot of challenges because you have that big outlet backing you and it's easier, to get access to people because you're with a Yahoo! or ESPN or USA Today" said Villegas.

In general, boxing is very traditional sport and it can be difficult for individuals on independent or digital platforms to get big interviews or stories. "And I've been saying for years that we should be treated the same way as the print guys if not more because we get more eyes on our stuff than they do on their articles," said Villegas. 

Villegas has advice for those entering the business: "be tenacious. Tenacious is a key thing, You're going to be told 'no' a lot. No you can't speak to this guy, No you need to stop your interview, No, it's always No. Don't be afraid to ask, you know don't be  afraid to be tenacious if you need your story or your interview you know fight for it," he said. 

He is incredibly proud of what he has accomplished as not many people get to cover the sport using a digital medium and work full-time and enjoying a good quality of life. He hopes to one day have his big break and be on a network, but he also wants to take his platform, FightHub to the next level.

"I want it to be the #1 source for all combat sports. I want it to be the most subscribed to channel, the most viewed channel and I want to turn it into something like you see in these other Youtube channels in other spaces like Nerdist or IGN or Gamespot and I kind of want to do what they're doing but with combat sports and be on par with those other big channels," Said Villegas.

The sky is the limit for this pioneer as he continues to break new ground through hard work and perseverance. 

A transcription of my conversation with Marcos is below but you can catch the audio version here as well.  
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Interview: Q&A with Marcos Villegas

Q: What's your first and last name and can you spell it for me please?


A: Marcos M-A-R-C-O-S Villegas V-I-L-L-E-G-A-S

Q: So where did you grow up and where did you go to school?



A: I grew up in as they say they consider the high desert over here in California a place called Quartz Hill and I grew up there but I ended up going to college at Cal State Fullerton.


Q: Ah Okay, when did you discover that you wanted to pursue sports journalism?



A: Um that's a good question actually I didn't go to school for sports journalism. When I came here to Cal State Fullerton I actually got a degree in Advertising and a degree in Radio, TV, and Film. So the sports journalism thing didn't happen until after college and by accident too. I was working for a MMA company putting together a fight and they brought me in to do all of their marketing. And part of the digital plan was to get video content for them. So that's kind of how it started. They didn't have anyone to interview the fighters. So I just started going ahead and doing it and then I felt like it was something that I liked to do. That I was naturally good at, naturally conversational with the guys. So you know I started getting a lot of mentors and they really instilled what to do, what not to do. But I also took it upon myself to go and stake out journalism classes also at the college too as well. So it kind of just happened naturally over a progression of events with me


Q: Ah okay, So why boxing and combat sports?



A: Um well you know I always liked MMA. I was a big MMA fan and that's how I got introduced to all this. Even my youtube channel you know when we started it was a MMA channel and then it progressed to a combat sports channel. Even though now the concept is more boxing than anything. But you know I always liked it, I wrestled my whole entire life, I trained in jui-jitsu, I trained in other martial arts, I trained in boxing so I just like combat sports in general because I was always into contact sports growing up. 


Q: What's your philosophy when covering boxing, what do you think sets you apart from the other sportscasters?



A: Um you know a few things, one I think I'm very easy it's easy for anybody that I interview, any subject that I have to become very comfortable with me. I think that's always been my thing. Even when interacting with people outside of all of this from a very young age it was it was just very easy for people to open up to me when I'm talking with them. People would naturally just be able to get very comfortable with me, with me not really doing anything. I don't know, I guess I come off as as very non-threatening or you know just as someone that they can open up to me. I think that's one of the things that sets me apart is that. The other thing, I don't know if you're too familiar with the fakes especially in boxing. There's a lot of people out there that aren't the most objective, are very biased when it comes to the fakes. And I think you know the other thing that sets not only me but the channel apart is that we always approach a subject being objective, but also allowing them to give their side of the story and not be ever one-sided left or right and that's something that was instilled in me when I started out very, very early on is to be objective, but you know, also too don't be biased. Allow the other side to get their voice in too but be objective to it as well. Don't ever lose your objectivity. 


Q: So you have a very successful multimedia platform, so this is going to be a two pronged question, what advice do you have for professionals looking to start an independent platform and do you see the coverage of the sport going in that direction?



A: Um advice, I would say when going for a platform you got to be extremely specific to what you want to start out, you can't just be like I want to start a sports channel. You can't just go in with that approach anymore. It has to be hyper specific, and if you could fill a niche all the better because usually its the niche sports that are the ones that are under-served or there's a market there for you to feed video to that niche. So that would be the first advice to be extremely hyper specific in what you want to do with your platform in terms of sport, what exact sport do you want to cover that would be my advice for that. Also just be consistent with the content that you produce because you want people to keep coming back and the only way to make sure that people are going to come back is if you consistently give them good content. And that's the other important part you just got to give them good quality content and people will come as for the other part of the question, um what was it again?


Q: No worries do you see coverage of the sport going in that direction?



A: You know, we see now that a lot of terrestrial networks, big studios, are all going to the digital realm. you know and I do see it going that was eventually. Um I think you know in the space that is combat sports. I think the promoters on the boxing side of things at least have been a little slow to adapt to digital, but I think they are starting to realize the amount of viewing power that we have on the digital side and the audience that we command. And really we're seen as the go to source for for video and content and news, you know on this side of things. It's really people go on Youtube and look this stuff up. People aren't reading any more, people aren't watching TV anymore they're cutting the cord especially everything is going that way too. But you know on the boxing side of things its been kind of slow. On the MMA side of things the UFC has done a great job embracing digital they really do a superb job with the content they create digital wise.


Q: Thank you, so what issues do you think boxing has nowadays and what issues do you think individuals that cover the sport, so boxing journalists, deal with?



A: Um well there's a good amount of challenges you know obviously depends on what outlet you're with. You know, if you're with a big outlet. You're not going to face a lot of challenges because you have that big outlet backing you and it's easier, to get access to people because you're with a Yahoo! or ESPN or USA Today. If you're starting off independent then it's a challenge because its a process you got to put in the time, put in the work, create relationships, and build rapport with not only the fighters but the promoters. You got to attend the workouts and the events to be to able to gain with those contacts and rapport with the industry people so it is a bigger challenge even though we command such a large viewing base and get huge numbers. I challenge, and I've been saying this, you know, I think us on the digital end get more views and more eyes on our stuff than the print guys. And I've been saying for years that we should be treated the same way as the print guys if not more because we get more eyes on our stuff than they do on their articles. No one reads anymore, so with that said, being independent and and on the digital side there is challenges because you get overlooked. You know, the print guys can go and ask for an exclusive with the big names in the sport and more likely than not you'll get it because a lot of people in boxing are very old school still. They're like oh we're going to be on the paper. Oh they're going to give us this section on the front page. And you know honestly, they don't know how many people are reading, they don't at all. They write a web story, yeah they do have analytics on that, but if something gets put in the paper you don't know how many people are actually reading that. Who reads the paper anymore? I don't read the paper, I haven't read a newspaper in like ten years. Everybody that I know has not read a newspaper in like who knows how many years. That's one of the struggles, knowing that you get more traffic than a lot of these outlets and not being taken, not that you're not taken seriously, but still having the challenge to prove yourself and not getting the access that these other guys get even though you drew bigger numbers than them.


Q: So to start concluding the interview, just what advice do you have for young professionals entering the business? 




A: You know the advice is obviously is you know like any advice in any field. You have to work hard, be persistent, be tenacious. Tenacious is a key thing, You're going to be told no a lot. No you can't speak to this guy, No you need to stop your interview, No, it's always No. Don't be afraid to ask, you know don't be  afraid to be tenacious if you need your story or your interview you know fight for it. Not saying do it in a rude way or an unprofessional way, but you know fight for it. Get it, talk to the people and really, really try to get your video or your story. The other thing is really learn the game. Learn it. Learn the insides and the outsides. Train in it. Learn the sport so you don't look like someone who is uneducated. Because the more educated you are the better you come off in your story or what you're talking about in the video and you come off better with the athlete you're interviewing. I would say the other thing too that would be important is the really studying part. Prepare, prepare for your interviews, you know to this day I still prepare for my interviews. I still do research on everybody and see what they're doing on social media or on twitter or if anything happened with them in the past couple of weeks. It will make you that much more better preparing for all this as well.


Q: The last question that I have actually is what do you perceive is your biggest accomplishment and what's next? What do you hope to still accomplish?




A: Huh, that's interesting, honestly, the biggest accomplishment is being able to work in boxing full-time and not be broke (laughs). Honestly, a lot of people that work in boxing, at least on the digital side, a lot of people have jobs and this is a part-time thing for them. The people that are writing is more of a full-time thing. But, they have to write on other sports, on current events, on hard news, on other things and boxing is just a part of what they do overall. So I think, I'm really proud of that, that you know, I was able to really turn this full-time without really depending or anybody, without having to work for anybody. I was able to take a Youtube channel and turn it into the most subscribed to boxing news media channel in all of Youtube by myself and that allowed me to work full-time in this industry. I still see that as the biggest accomplishment i could've done is being able to work full-time in this sport which I lover very much and I really care about it. Being able to work full-time and make a good living out of it because it is possible but honestly it is a lot of hard work. i lost a lot of friends. Relationships will suffer, my relationship even now is strained a little bit because of how much I work. My prior relationship it broke off because of how much I work. But it comes with the territory, I know the work that I'm doing is to secure a better future for me. That's what gives sense to the work that it is not in vain because I'm getting something out of it. And really the future, two things, I want to be on a network. That's the goal, the door hasn't completely opened up, but I'm still waiting for that big break where I'm able to get into a network. If not, I want it to happen, but I also want to take Fighthub to the next level. I want it to be the #1 source for all combat sports. I want it to be the most subscribed to channel, the most viewed channel and I want to turn it into something like you see in these other Youtube channels in other spaces like Nerdist or IGN or Gamespot and I kind of want to do what they're doing but with combat sports and be on par with those other big channels.   


Q: Thank you so much Marcos, I really appreciate you giving me the interview, just thank you, I really appreciate it.





A: Nah Man, Thank You.


Bulls Blitz Chiefs on SU Athletics Appreciation Night

Story, Photos and Video by Matt St. Jean

SYRACUSE, N.Y. --- Crowd morale was high in NBT Bank Stadium Thursday night for the rubber match in the series between the Durham Bulls (75-48) and the Syracuse Chiefs (46-78). However, the positive vibe soon gave way to an early offensive onslaught by the visiting team, which led to a 6-0 victory for the Bulls.

The Chiefs Honor the Orange

The customary red and blue of the Chiefs was replaced with a sea of Orange on Thursday night for the Syracuse University Athletics Appreciation night. The Syracuse Orange cheer and dance squads were spread out on the concourse to greet attendees with a smile and an Orange football t-shirt.

Fans cheered as head football coach, Dino Babers tossed out the "first football" to Chiefs pitcher Jaron Long, who wore an Orange football helmet. Athletics Director John Wildhack tossed a baseball, keeping with tradition.



With the pregame ceremonies over, it was time for the Bulls and the Chiefs to do battle.

Bulls Bats See Red

Esmile Rogers (1-2, 4.57 ERA) made his fourth start of the season for the Chiefs. Rogers struggled with his command early, leaving pitches over the heart of the plate and the Bulls immediately took advantage.

Taylor Featherston led off the game with a frozen rope into the gap for a double. Following a walk, Jake Bauers rifled the first pitch he saw to right, scoring Featherston. Next, Johnny Field launched a fly ball, which was caught on the warning track, but was deep enough for both runners to tag up and advance. With runners on 2nd and 3rd, Patrick Leonard smashed a line drive past shortstop, Bengie Gonzalez, driving both runners in.

"They came here to swing, they were aggressive," Rogers said. "When the game started, I didn't have my command, my cutter wasn't working like it was in the bullpen."

The Bulls were relentless in the first and the next batter, Shane Peterson, smoked a line drive down the third base line for a double, advancing Leonard to third. Mike McKendry then hit a towering sacrifice fly to left scoring Durham's fourth run of the inning.

Rogers settled in after the hectic first after receiving some advice from pitching coach, Bob Milacki and veteran catcher, Jhonatan Solano.

"[Milacki] and Solano came up to me and said, 'Your shoulder is flying open'," Rogers said. "I kept it closed and started commanding pitches."

Rogers ran into trouble again in the fifth, surrendering two more runs on a home run by Willy Adames and a RBI double by Leonard. He exited the game having given up six earned runs over four and two-thirds innings.



Yarbrough, Bullpen Stifle Chiefs

Lefthander Ryan Yarbrough got a look at the Chiefs earlier in the season, picking up a win against Syracuse at home on April 26. He gave up two runs in that outing. On Thursday, however, he bested that effort.

Yarbrough was locked in from the very first pitch.

"He threw anything, anytime he wanted to," Chiefs designated hitter Clint Robinson said. "Tough lefty, mixed up three, four pitches in the strike zone, kept us off-balance."

Cool, calm, collected, Yarbrough diced up the Chiefs lineup scattering five hits, shutting out the Chiefs over six-and-a-third innings while striking out eight. The outing lowered his ERA to 3.26 and was his team leading 13th win on the season.

The Bulls bullpen matched the quality exhibited by Yarbrough. Andrew Kittredge and Diego Castillo closed out the remaining two and two thirds innings only allowing two hits and struck out four.

Chiefs Bullpen Shines in Defeat

The pitchers who came in relief provided a lone bright spot for the home team. According to manager Billy Gardner, the early exit by Rogers was a blessing in disguise as a few of the pitchers hadn't thrown in several days.

"We needed to get them to touch the mound," Gardner said. "Getting them some work was important tonight."

The combination of Neil Cotts, Enny Romero, Cody Satterwhite, and Rafael Martin threw a total of four-and-a-third scoreless innings for the Chiefs. Romero, in Syracuse to rehab his strained forearm, pitched a perfect sixth. Satterwhite then came on and threw two scoreless, striking out a pair. Finally, Martin had his good stuff going, striking out two in his one inning of work.

Up Next

Durham continues its road trip traveling to Moosic, Pennsylvania for a three game series against the first place Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Rail Riders.

The Chiefs stay at NBT Bank Stadium for a three-game set against the Indianapolis Indians. The Indians swept Syracuse at their home park last week and the Chiefs look to return the favor.









Monday, August 14, 2017

Experimenting with Nick Wilson

Story by Corey Crisan
Photo credit CBS Cleveland

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- It's an "appropriately-sized" piece on a successful radio legacy.

Nick Wilson delivers his "appropriately-sized" monologue nightly in the city that he loves. This monologue parallels to the successful career that he is currently living out. Now in his early-30s, Wilson went from child understudy who, according to former professors, grew to be "too smart to be screwing around like this," to living a legacy as one of the faces of sports radio in his home town.

Wilson's father, "Big" Jim, was heavily involved in radio in Northern Ohio, particularly in Akron as a show host and production director at Rubber City Radio. Wilson grew up around the radio scene as a child and says he quickly took an interest in the business. So much so, that his old man gave him incentive to stay around the studio setting.

"Every time I got a report card, if I got B’s or above in all of the subjects, he’d allow me to go in and actually be a character - be a part of his show for two days," Wilson said. "And wouldn’t you know that the entire time he was there, I never dropped below a B in any subject."

Wilson is a 2007 graduate of Bowling Green State University. After graduation and then earning a diploma at the Ohio Center for Broadcasting, He launched his career at Rubber City Radio: the same place where his father made the grade as a successful broadcaster.

In 2011, Wilson came a step closer to his ultimate goal of talking about the Cleveland Indians, Browns, and Cavaliers: the teams he grew up revering. He began work at Sports Radio 92.3 The Fan in Cleveland as an anchor, producer, and reporter. His big break came in 2015 when former nighttime host Ken Carman moved to occupy the station's morning slot. Wilson took over the evening slot, and his goal, at last, was reached.

"To be in Cleveland sports in general, it was always one of my biggest goals," he said. "And to get there before I turned 30, was, honestly, quite a surprise."

Wilson continues to live out his passion as his program, "The Nick Wilson Experiment," airs on weekday nights from 7-12 p.m. on 92.3 The Fan in Cleveland.

Wilson was gracious enough to speak to Newhouse Sports over the phone about his career path, the state of and his experiences from working around Cleveland sports, and his passion for working in the Cleveland media. The full interview with Wilson can be found in the transcription below. You can also listen to it by clicking here.

...

Corey Crisan: Your dad started off and he was in radio in Warren (Ohio), which isn’t that far from where I grew up. Obviously, growing up in the radio scene, that had to get you involved in it, right?

Nick Wilson: Oh, yeah! I mean, my dad, as you had mentioned, Warren, Ohio… 1440 The Talk of the Valley, which was a station that ended up putting multiple people into top five markets and multiple other people into top 30 markets. My dad was on a morning show with Dan McDowell, now in Dallas, and Joe Gabriele of Cleveland Cavaliers beat writing fame, and there was a morning show… he was a production director, morning show host… I think he had like 17 titles, but I used to listen as much as I possibly could.

Of course, this was before the days of the internet. But one of the cool things that he would do is every quarter… more specifically, every time I got a report card, if I got B’s or above in all of the subjects, he’d allow me to go in and actually be a character (and) be a part of his show for two days. And wouldn’t you know that the entire time he was there, I never dropped below a B in any subject. So at the age of 9, 10, 11, and 12, here I was battling wits with all of these seasoned callers and being able to be a part of it. So, it was a huge, huge part of my eventual decision to get into it, was what that meant to me.

CC: That’s another interesting point, because your teachers used to say you were 'too smart to be screwing around like this.' So that system your dad set up had to be a little incentive for you. It makes sense, now.

NW: Oh yeah. See, the ‘too smart to screw around,’ (his dad) came and ended up and his career finished up in Akron as a production director, and that was my college days when professors would see me write like a 1,500-word essay in like 15 minutes and it was really good to be like, ‘You know what? You really shouldn’t be screwing around like this.’ But he worked here, I think, for two and a half years, three years, and it’s so weird to think of it. Until I came to (Cleveland’s 92.3) The Fan, it was kind of the highlight of my own radio career. Honestly, that station is the station (where) I always wanted to re-create my head, you know?

It’s the incredibly talented people all with the purpose of playing radio and having fun and making good radio and realizing that, quite honestly, they’ve got a ways to develop. So, yeah, I mean, that whole scene there and my dad incentivizing me, this 9, 10, 11, 12-year-old kid… A huge, huge impact on me, and something that maybe one day, I’ll be able to do for my kids if they have any interest in sports.

CC: So then growing up in the radio scene, and in Ohio, where sports are everywhere, especially football. And now you’re living the dream up there in Cleveland, covering Cleveland sports which are pretty much at a premium right now.

NW: Oh, my God, man. To be in Cleveland sports in general, it was always one of my biggest goals. And to get there before I turned 30, was, honestly, quite a surprise. But then to think of all the things… I mean, when the Cavs won the championship, I was on air directly after that, and I was on air from 2 A.M. to 6 A.M., then I went home, I slept, I think it was an hour, hour and a half, and I came right back and I hosted my night show.

In the first 24 hours that Cleveland won a championship, I was on air for nine of them, and I’ll tell you, by the end of that show on Monday, I was a little bit tuckered out, okay? I was ready to go home and not talk for like a year or so. But, you know, looking back on it, to have that experience and to say that my voice was there when we won a championship, and again, nine of the first 24 hours, that, to me, I don’t mean this in a trite way… I don’t even mean it because I’m from Cleveland, but to be a part of that memory is a really fulfilling thing, and it honestly was. I don’t mean to come off as biased. It was an incredible honor.

CC: Where were you when the Cavs won it all? When the clock struck zero, where were you?

NW: I was preparing for the show. We had a show that was going on during that was going to go on until an hour after the Cavs won or lost. And so, I was in the back preparing. Alex Hooper, who’s now our 92.3 The Fan beat reporter, who at the time was, I think, still working on my show. He was there. Stephen Olszewski, who now also still works at our station as a board op was there, and, you know, it was so interesting, those final two leading up for it (the show) saying… ‘Are they gonna blow it?’ ‘Are they gonna do it?’ And that tension and the reality… And I had this thought in the middle of it… It’s never gonna be this good. This is the moment that’s such a beautiful, but finite moment in sports where everything’s on the line, and your team’s engaged… The team you’re covering, the team you’ve come to know. You know, guys I loved on that team… Richard Jefferson, Channing Frye, Kevin Love… Good guys. Not just great basketball players, but people that make me laugh, and that’s like, the biggest thing I look for in life.

And then to see it happen and to see LeBron (James) with the block, and love’s defense, you know, ‘Kevin Love’s Stand,’ whatever the hell we call it these days. Kyrie (Irving’s) shot… To be cognisant of what an impactful moment it was as it was happening, was a whole hell of a lot of fun. And then, of course, they win and we start jumping up and down, and my first thought was, because we’re right outside of East 9th (Street), ‘I have to get outside.’ There’s no other way. I don’t care if my show is fully prepped yet. I will do my show on the fly. I don’t care. I need to be with my people.

And, sure enough, man, I ran outside… Well, listen dude, I’m like 325 pounds, I’m pushing it a little bit with that. But I go outside, I run down to East 9th, and there’s just people everywhere. You smell all these party smells, there are girls just going around kissing random people, and there’s people who don’t know each other just hugging each other, high-fiving, dads and sons crying on the street corners. For 52 years, we wondered what would that moment be like, and it was really a beautiful thing.

CC: And then the Indians, with the World Series last year… So, I know the Cavs won and the Indians didn’t, but what was more fun to cover?

NW: Oh, that’s tough. You know, I think it was the Indians, because the pressure was off. You know, the thing that came with every championship round… Everything like that was almost impossible to enjoy because it was the weight of 52 years. I think that once the Summer of Cleveland kicked off, and you had (UFC fighter Stipe Miocic) win and the hockey team, the (Lake Erie) Monsters had won, and then, of course, the Cavaliers actually blow the lid off the championship drought. That whole summer, leading into the World Series, you started looking around and saying, ‘The Indians are going to the World Series, aren’t they?’ and that build… That excitement, that, ‘Oh my God, can this really happen again?’

I’m a baseball fan, first. I’ve always been a baseball fan. The mid-90s Indians were, and the early-90s Indians were really when we started seeing Manny (Ramirez) and (Jim) Thome and Albert (Belle) and (Carlos) Baerga and (Kenny) Lofton… Was when I was becoming a sports fan. And so, it’s always been my favorite sport. So to watch Progressive Field, which had seen better days. We’ve had the God-awful attendance conversations for however long. To see that place boomin’ like it did whether it was in 2007 or like as I remember growing up in the mid-90s, with the (455 consecutive home game) sellout streak. It was such a fulfilling thing, and having all that pressure off the title thing, just knowing (that) I just want to see a great series, and I just want to see the Indians go out there and play the way that we’ve seen them play all year, they did that. So it was disappointing that they lost and the way that they lost… Cubs coming back from 3-1, but I think the lack of pressure and just realizing it was the end of the Summer of Cleveland, I think the Indians stuff was a little bit easier to enjoy.

CC: And what I think it did, even more-so for the city, was it brought a better light, nationally, to the city. Of course, the economy went up, businesses went up, and I really think that what the Cavs and the Indians did over the last year really brought this great light to the city that I feel like the national perception on… us… if you will, has changed quite a bit, and that’s kind of what sports does.

NW: Well, and what I think is important to remember is that for 52 years, the narrative was ‘Woe is Cleveland’ and ‘Cleveland is laughable,’ and winning a championship changed that. The national media tried to cling to that narrative during the Summer of Cleveland, and they found out you can’t! people didn’t want to hear it anymore! Cleveland is anew, and what was so interesting and what seems so interesting to me now is that new narrative on Cleveland. We’d like to think of it as the first sign-off or the first instance, ‘Hey, you won a title, so you’re a championship city,’ but that’s going to be building over the next few years if LeBron can add another trophy and if the Indians… they still have an almost 70-year drought going since they last won a championship.

If those things can fall and you can add a few championships, and who the hell knows, man, maybe the Browns can win seven games in a year consistently, maybe eight, I don’t want to get ahead of myself… but realize that the next three, four, five, six, seven years, that’s going to be the shaping of the new narrative that goes around Cleveland, and I think you saw that with the (Boston) Red Sox. How long were the Red Sox the ho-hum organization of baseball, and then they won the championship in 2004, and then people realized (that) this is a championship city with a championship fan base, and the ho-hum losers, well, we can’t cling to that any more.

And so, it was so interesting that that was on one team in a city that had won a lot of championships. It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out. Specifically, as long as the Cavs don’t implode and the Indians can get back to the World Series and again, just hoping here, the Browns maybe step out of the top ten (in the NFL Draft order) one of these times.

CC: Is that a far reach for the Browns to say that right now?

NW: You know, I don’t know that it is. I’ve come to realize that with the way that the NFL works now, you just gotta get a quarterback. You know, Seattle had a great collection of talent, and it didn’t matter until Russell Wilson was ready to step up and be a quarterback, who, by the way, he was just a consistent quarterback. When he came up, he was just a functional quarterback. But you saw they gave him a chance to win, a few championships there or to take a run at a few championships.

I really think that if you start to see some results from your draft picks, meaning Myles Garrett and Emmanuel Ogbah and that defensive line comes about and maybe you get a few play-makers on offense, and you luck into a quarterback… because quite honestly, that’s all this is. Finding a good quarterback is luck. And, so, if you luck into a good quarterback, I don’t think it’s farfetched, and I will say this thing… whatever they’re doing in Barea (Ohio, where the Browns training camp is located) now will go as long as (Browns owner) Jimmy Haslam allows it to. I think that the organizational are in place, I think people are starting to understand each other better. It’s not flawless. Nothing ever is, though. But if jimmy can give them space and time, I do think that this regime, given the fact that they seem to work together pretty well can be something that leads the Browns out of what we’ve seen the last 17-18 years.

CC: I want to go back into your personal and radio career for a minute. Some of the influences, like your dad growing up in radio, but aside from your dad, who were some of your influences growing up in the business?

NW: It’s so weird, because, I’ll be honest, I work with a guy like (Newhouse alum) Anthony Lima, who’s listened to every Cleveland radio show since he was, like, five years old. I was never really that keen on Cleveland radio. I mean, I think (Kendall Lewis, a.k.a.) BSK… how knowledgeable he was, he was certainly somebody. Dave Denholm, who’s a guy who worked at WKNR way back before the current folks (ESPN) owned it. And now, he’s out in Los Angeles. He was a big guy, but you know, anybody who approached this with humor are the people I’ve always gravitated to. There was a show when my dad worked at Rubber City Radio that did not exist very long due to one of the members falling off the face of the planet, but it was called Bob and Josh, and they were kind of a rock morning show with comedy. That’s something that always stuck with me.

And, you know, my dad was somebody who was big on humor when he was into sports. Dan McDowell… After Warren, we moved to Dayton for two years, and Dan had a show down there while my dad was production director, and Dan is incredibly, incredibly funny. And so, I’ve had those people like BSK and Dave Denholm who have been beacons in terms of knowing what you’re talking about, preparing, making sure you’re watching all the games, and knowing, really detailed, what you’re talking about and knowing how you’re going to talk about it. But you could point to anybody who uses humor in sports and enjoys that side of it. On a national level, you can talk about Dan Patrick, when I was a younger guy, on a national level.

To me, I’ve always thought the best sports talk is humor and knowledge, and if you can intersect those and you can throw hi-jinks in with really knowledgeable sports talk, I think you have something that means something and is actually entertaining, so, honestly, just think of anybody in the last 20 years who’s funny on sports radio, and even some in the rock-talk genre, and those are the people who I’ve really felt a kinship to and gravitated towards, because I think that’s always what I’ve felt makes good radio.

CC: So how do you bring that into your show, ‘The Nick Wilson Experiment’? How do you bring that side and maybe some of that Dan Patrick influence into your show?

NW: I think my big thing is… I don’t want to get too inside radio here, but always the battle of somebody who can be a show lead and somebody who can be the off-the-wall guy. The two, if you will. I’ve always felt the confidence to do either thing. But when you’re hosting solo for five hours a night, I think my big thing is, I just prep like hell. And I watch everything I can watch, and I read everything I can read, and then I just kind of forget it all. I prep for probably four hours for the show, and the final hour is just talking to people, trying to loosen up, and then once the show starts, I look down my rundown of, like, here’s a question I want to explore or here’s a statement I want to explore. It just becomes improv. You know what I mean? I’ve always tried to teeter on that line.

I think I am best when I can just riff, and I think my pinnacle is when I can riff while also understanding where I’m going. And so, it’s a fine line that I try and go to. It’s a fine line between prep and then just forgetting everything and just going out and just, all right, this funny thought popped in my head while in the midst of a very serious monologue. Toss it out. Let’s see where we can go. And I think just being open to whatever happens on the show, and sometimes that can be something I wasn’t planning on talking about. Somebody said something incredibly stupid, or like, ‘Hey! I don’t like eggs!’ ‘WHAT!?,’ and you know, just being open to whatever your show’s going to become, even though maybe as more of a show leader, you have to run things and push them in a certain direction

CC: What’s the best interview you’ve ever done?

NW: Personally, for me, I hate most interviews. If you listen to my show, I only do one or two on my show, and some of that is my time slot. It’s hard to get top-shelf guests to be on my show. It’s tough to get anybody to come talk on my show at eleven at night. But I really think, to me, the best interviews, are ones where you’re not just spouting knowledge. I can do that. Anybody can come on and give their point of view on something. I think the best stuff is when somebody is giving you something real, and so that make it really tricky because nowadays, athletes, and even media to some extent, nobody wants to look wrong, nobody wants to have egg on their face or have a bad take because there’s the Take Monster out there and he’s like, ‘hey! That’s a bad take! Sorry! You’re fired now because you had this take!’ Everybody’s so self-conscious of being on Old takes Exposed or Deadspin or something ridiculous like that, that nobody actually says anything anymore. It really vexes me.

So, I think my favorite interview I’ve ever done was with Danny Shelton. Browns defensive tackle. Going into last year, I had him at training camp, sat down, and I could tell he didn’t really want to explore some things. He’s very nice. Incredibly, incredibly thoughtful. And Danny’s a big Samoan guy. His middle name in Samoan means ‘search for truth.’ So, I asked him in the middle of the interview, because I was kind of getting bored with the run-of-the-mill answers, I said, ‘What truth are you searching for?’ And he gave me this beautiful, two-minute explanation of where he is in life. And then the final seven minutes of that conversation was on that talk. And so to me, I think that, and anything like it where even if it’s not in the beginning, even if it takes a while to get into… interviews where we found something that people want to talk about, where they’re not just going to give you random clichés, or tell me, ‘You know what? It could happen,’ you know. Some garbage, throw away statement because nobody wants to just have a thought or say something that’s gonna piss off their team.

To me, those are the best, and I point back to that Danny one because it’s one of the few times where I’ve, in the midst of an interview, just been very cognisant of the fact. (To) stop thinking where it was going, just thinking, ‘Good God, that’s a beautiful answer,” and I actually said, ‘Danny, I had something and I wanted to steer this off in another direction, man.’ Like, I really appreciated that kind of honesty.

CC: I think that’s one thing that gets lost a lot now, is that these athletes get put in this limelight… They’re people, too. They have real stories, too, and I think it’s our job as radio people and as interviewers and as practitioners, to get these stories out there.

NW: And I think what’s really key is, and it’s in a lot of the mystique of radio, you know, we want to be reviled and you know, ‘Hey, man. I’m a big personality and I got an ego and you gotta take me seriously.’ Dude, I talk about sports on the radio. Okay? And like, I’m going to talk about my sex life on the radio… Okay? Like, I don’t really care. I care about what I do, but what I care about most is not, ‘Oh, hey man, you’re not in the lineup. You must be pissed.’ I care about getting some sort of honesty. Because I think if you get honesty, even if you’re not the funniest person, even if you’re not the smartest person… Whatever we can think of is the ultimate sports talk or radio show host ever, I think if you find truth, people are going to stick with you because I think that’s all what we’re all looking for. That’s the big thing that I think sports is going to have to ask itself.

Yes... We’re all brains and we’re all products and we’re all yada, yada, yada… but what truth can we serve the audience to keep them coming back? Baseball has a huge problem with truth. You know, the steroids thing, it’s the greatest farce ever. Yes, steroids happen, but because owners and GMs and managers and the Commissioner look the other way because it was good for business. Baseball has never dealt with that truth. You know, they never dealt with the fact and they just want to put it all on the players.

And so, to me, baseball acknowledging, ‘Yeah, maybe we are a bit stuck up. Maybe we do have an accountability problem.’ I think, to me, something that is where a sport can just tap into the fact on how full of bleep they’ve been, and just give some truth, I think that’s the next frontier in sports. It’s just something real. Because I think, at the end of the day, and I’m preaching now, I’m sorry, I don’t mean to sermonize. But, I think it’s all we care about.

CC: I think it’s hard to get that sometimes. I heard from a little birdie (Newhouse Sports classmate Brooke Meenachan, who worked with Nick at The Fan) that you’re a huge video gamer, you’re a pizza guy, and a beer guy. So, what are you playing right now, what are you drinking, and what are you eating?

NW: Well, I’m on (NBA) 2K17 right now. I didn’t buy the game when it first came out, but I am a huge, huge lover of building teams and how teams fit together. I’m the guy who’s played text-based sim games for far longer than I’d like to admit. I really like the idea of making trades. In another life, I would’ve loved to been a General Manager in one of the sports, so I found out 2K17 has brought expansion back, so I brought my Seattle Supersonics back, and I’ve been crushing that lately.

And you asked what I’ve been drinking, I’ve been drinking everything. I just went out to the east coast. I was in New York, Boston, and Maine for about six days, so quite frankly, I’ve drank everything. But from the pizza standpoint, I am more of a Chicago-style guy than a New York-style guy. But I want to let everybody know, I am open-minded. I tried several, several different New York-style pizzas while I was in New York and Boston, so, yeah, it’s been: I drink everything, I eat everything, but I’ve been crushing some New York-style. One of them was The Familia, it’s a little bit more like a chain in New York, but it was good. It was a lot of fun.

CC: You know what? You must be pretty good at fantasy football if you do the team building thing.

NW: You know what’s funny? I don’t pay enough attention to that to be good at it. I will say I won the station’s fantasy football championship two years ago, but I am hit-or-miss. I either do a great job because I actually prep for it, or I’m the guy who’s like, ‘Ah, you know what? I haven’t had time to look at this. Ah, hell. I’ll just draft somebody. I’ll wing it,’ and then it doesn’t go well, so I’m either great or I’m horrible, depending on my preparedness.

CC: Are you one of those people that, if you do prepare, do you start in July like some of these guys do?

NW: No, see, I’m in a league with my buddies who do that. I need one week of preparedness. And all I do is I just remind myself of what happened last year, I’m cognisent of player injuries, I’m cognisent of player movement, you know, how I think that’s going to affect the players themselves. I need one week of time. Otherwise, I think it out too much. I don’t build a big board on the things, but I build one in my head, and I usually do it in about three tiers: must-haves, middle-round guys, and then late-round guys. I usually take the last two-to-three guys in any draft as just a, ‘Ah, this could work out well,’ and I usually hit on one a year, so I must not be too terrible.