Archive for January, 2012

It’s been well chronicled that I, Terry Vandrovec, am barely a man.

I know nothing about cars, even less about hunting and fishing, can’t handle more than one beer per sitting and don’t have the sort of brute strength that’s supposed to come with age. In fact, I’m deathly afraid that my wife will someday give birth to a son because I’d be utterly worthless in teaching him how to do anything that involved A) fixing or building anything or B) getting dirty.

Not surprisingly, then, I played tennis in high school (and one semester in college … sort of) rather than football, although – to be fair – it was not country-club tennis, but a sort of street-rat version. My frigid hometown is located in one of the worst states for the sport in America and didn’t have an indoor facility, plus our coach was a woman who was more of a runner than a tennis player. (more…)

Welcome to the seventh edition of The Fury Files, the most popular Internet Q&A in South Africa, at least according to my Cape Town in-laws. Check out previous versions with Tom Linnemann, John Millea, David Brauer, Joe Posnanski, Pat Coleman and Kevin Van Valkenburg.

This week’s guest is Michael Kruse, a writer on the enterprise staff for the Tampa Bay Times. If you’re unfamiliar with that paper, it’s because it was called the St. Petersburg Times until January 1, when it changed names to reflect changing times. But no matter where Kruse’s byline appears – and it’s appeared everywhere from ESPN, to Yahoo! to Charlotte Magazine and on Grantland, not to mention on the cover of a book – his work stands out. Kruse has been honored by a variety of news organizations for his writing, from the Associated Press Sports Editors to the Society of Professional Journalists to many more. It’s impossible to classify him as one type of writer, because he excels in every genre. As comfortable writing about sports as he is a fallen political leader, Kruse has a knack for finding unique stories that no one else wrote about or a unique angle on a story everyone’s written about.

For his newspaper, he’s written about the loneliness of a monkey on the run and the odd case of a Bruce Springsteen fan who faked his own death on a Boss message board. During LeBron James’s infamous first season with the Miami Heat – when everyone with a laptop or a microphone offered opinions on the superstar – Kruse profiled sports reporter Brian Windhorst, who has covered James since his high school days and left Cleveland for a job with ESPN when LeBron took his talents to a beach in Florida. He’s also passionate about helping other writers and championing the work of his peers, such as serving as a writing coach at a workshop in memory of the late, beloved editor Mike Levine (the video above is a piece of Levine’s).

In the last few months, he’s contributed to Bill Simmons’s Grantland, including a piece on the influence of the Oregon football team’s uniforms.

In 2008, Butler Books published Kruse’s book Taking the Shot: The Davidson Basketball Moment. It profiled the Davidson basketball team’s run to the Elite Eight in the ’08 NCAA tournament, which ended with a heartbreaking loss against eventual national champion Kansas. Kruse graduated from Davidson in 2000. All he’s done since is establish himself as one of the best feature writers in the country.

Here, Kruse talks about what he would change about his book experience, the value of silence, the thrill of discovering a long-lost police report, loneliness, the St. Pete Times – er, Tampa Bay Times – what he means when he talks about writing, and a whole lot more. Thanks a lot for your time, Michael.


The Tapes are back – fittingly in a week with a lot of DVR-worthy sports going on overnight. On Wednesday night/Thursday morning, for example, you had Tiger-Rory and Luke Donald in the same threesome (of golf, perverts) in Dubai at roughly the same time that Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal were facing off in the Australian Open semifinals.

So forgive us for looking haggard today.

* On Thursday, two Ohio women were arrested in South Dakota with 129 pounds of marijuana in their possession. That would be startling if weed were as heavy as, say, steel. But it’s not … or so I’m told. I mean, imagine if you had your car filled with 129 pounds of hamburger or decorative beads or tennis shoes. That’s just a lot of anything.
But because it’s ganja, a whole new theme develops: Did the car travel lighter because it was so high? Did it get the munchies and guzzle extra gas? Did it refuse to drive on pavement, proceeding only on grass?
I’ll be here all week.

* This whole Peyton Manning situation is getting ugly – and even before the team has drafted his probable replacement, Andrew Luck. He gave an interview and the Colts owner didn’t like the results. While this sort of public tiff is hardly unusual in the Twitter era, Manning has usually been above the fray. Makes you wonder if he’s mad enough to go all Brett Favre and, no, not flash his junk to a comely sideline-reporter type, but try to play somewhere else rather than grooming Luck.
And, yes, if you’re counting at home, that’s two weiner-photo references in two days. We aim to please.

* As someone who enjoys participating in lengthy Q&As with great writers, I really enjoyed this interview with SI’s Thomas Lake on his Sports Illustrated article about Michael Jordan’s high school coach, Pop Herring. Brandon Sneed did the interview for his site. Oh, and segue, next week on TVFury, the return of The Fury Files with Michael Kruse of the Tampa Bay Times.

* Somewhat amusingly, Nickelback is sick of being picked on on Twitter and is striking back, returning fire to users who crack jokes about the band.

* The New York Times published an interesting look at the Rhodes Scholar candidacy of star Yale quarterback Patrick Witt. Originally, it was reported that Witt dropped out of pursuing the honor so he could play against Harvard. People loved that commitment to the team. It turns out it was a bit more complicated than that and involved a sexual assault charge.

It would hurt to see Love win a title somewhere else.

The Minnesota Timberwolves did the right thing Wednesday in signing All-Star forward Kevin Love to a four-year, $61-million extension that has a player opt-out clause after three.

It was the correct move not because there’s any guarantee that Love will turn into a top-5 player and therefore worthy of what’s essentially a max contract, but because, well, if not him, whom? The franchise has been so dreadful since Kevin Garnett left in 2007 that the only way to land a player of Love’s ability was to draft him.

And – cue Debbie Downer music – that’s part of the problem moving forward. (more…)

During my trip back to Janesville a few weeks ago, I visited my cousin Matt on Saturday night. Like every other time we see each other, the conversation eventually turned to Tecmo Super Bowl, Baseball Simulator 1.000 and Strat-O-Matic baseball. Those three games – two on the old Nintendo system, another a classic simulation – are responsible for many of our teenage memories, laughs, physical fights and verbal brawls. Our friends Mike and Brandon often joined us in these contests, most of which took place in my parents’ basement, where we sat for hours and hours, watching dirty movies on Showtime while expressing awe at the San Francisco 49ers’ Tecmo offense and debating the merits of Julio Franco’s fielding skills. Even today, on the rare occasions when we’re able to meet up for more than a few hours, we break out the dusty Nintendo or the worn Strato cards. (more…)

A new acronym burst onto the scene last week: SOPA.

It stands for Stop Online Piracy Act, a controversial piece of legislation that was tabled last week after several prominent Internet sites went dark for a day in protest.

I consider myself to be fairly tech savvy, but that’s all I really know about it. So to help clear things up, we’ve brought in Paul Ten Haken, the founder and president of Click Rain, an online marketing firm in Sioux Falls. He breaks down the act in simple terms and projects what the future holds on this issue.

It’s interesting and important stuff since it goes far beyond blatant Web piracy – SOPA in its first form could have all but shut down Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.

Here’s the link.


That’s what I was doing, both literally and in text format, Sunday night at the conclusion of two three-point thrillers in the NFL’s conference championship weekend. And not because of anything scapegoats Lee Evans, Billy Cundiff or Kyle Williams did (or didn’t do).

Rather, I was annoyed at the lack of sportsmanship or class or dignity that was on display at the end of the Giants’ OT victory at San Francisco. Both teams were guilty. (more…)

Last week I spent much of my time in the passenger seat of my parents’ car, riding around on the surprisingly snow-free roads in southern Minnesota, on the way to a variety of basketball gyms and arenas.

Anytime I take a trip back home during the winter, it’s guaranteed that I’ll spend at least a dozen hours in wooden bleachers or plastic seats watching all levels of basketball, from good college teams to bad junior high teams. I’ll watch girls who can shoot from 25 feet and men who can’t make a layup from five feet. When I’m not traveling in the car, I’ll be at my parents’ house, watching television. Watching NBA basketball. Talking college basketball. For the Fury family, winter wasn’t about ice-fishing. There were no snowmobile trips or outings to the ski slopes. It was hoops season. As a kid, I even shot all through the winter months and not in our school gym. I’d don on a big coat, a stocking cap and a pair of what I called my “shooting gloves,” ones that weren’t as thick as a normal glove and gave me a better chance of gripping the ball. I’d shovel off the court at the Janesville city park or in front of our neighbor’s garage. It wasn’t a good time to work on dribbling, but you can shoot in any weather. If all games took place in 10-degree weather with scattered flurries and a brisk wind, I’d now be in my 15th season in the NBA.

I didn’t shoot outside on this trip home. But only because I no longer own a good pair of shooting gloves. Instead I now spend my time back home consuming basketball, not playing it. Here then, some notes from a week in the stands and on the couch.


Sportswriting great Sally Jenkins scored a coup last week when she landed an interview with Joe Paterno, his first extended media interaction since being fired by Penn State due to allegations of child abuse by a former assistant.

I know, I know; hard to believe TVFury didn’t have the story first.

Regardless, we did our own research on the topic. Frequent guest blogger Dan Frasier dug up some old psychological studies to use as a jumping point for why Paterno didn’t take stronger action when the accusations against Sandusky first came up.

Here’s our conversation that in podcast format. Interesting stuff, if we do say so ourselves.

Here’s the link.

Guesties: The BCS isn’t so bad

Posted: January 18, 2012 by terryvandrovec in Guesties
Tags: , , , , , ,

By Dan Frasier
Guest blogger

One undeniable fact about one-and-done tournaments is that they do not ensure the best team all season wins. We see it repeatedly in the NCAA tourney, in the NFL playoffs and even in baseball. (I know, I know – that’s not one and done. But still.)  Upsets, matchups, hot teams and pure luck guarantee that teams like the 2007 Giants and nondescript b-ball programs will sometimes prevail. Whether they get hot and win the whole thing or just get hot one night and eliminate the best team in the tourney, we know that the complete body of work from the season will not be reflected in the later rounds of the tournament. I mean, for Tebow’s sake, does anyone believe that the Broncos are a better reflection of a season of work than the Steelers? OK, now I’m just getting worked up.

Back to the point. Until this year, the BCS was the best method in all of sports to ensure that the best team all season emerged as the national champion. The totality of a team’s body of work is what counts in getting to the title game and, until this year, that totality has most often played out in the result of the game. This year, that didn’t happen. So, now that we have sufficiently lauded ‘Bama for its wonderful performance and astounding defense in the national championship, let’s pay a little homage to what is possibly the best team to not win a title in college football history. (For our purposes, college football history will go back to 1987, which is the first year I remember watching it.) (more…)