May 28 / Rob

Early Polls Have JMU as a Top 20 Football Team


It’s still May (and only 99 days until JMU football season), but the preseason predictions are starting to officially roll out. Or in this case, be revealed via Twitter. Craig Haley is the man in charge of Athlon’s FCS Top 25 Poll which will be published in this year’s college preview magazine. Earlier this week he gave fans a sneak peak at his rankings. The “James” you see in the tweet above, refers to our lovely alma mater, James Madison University. Haley has the Dukes picked 14th.

North Dakota State is Haley’s deserved and obvious number one pick at this point. JMU was one of four CAA Football teams to land in the Top 20. Villanova, New Hampshire, and Richmond were ranked 5th, 8th, and 20th respectively. The Dukes are set up pretty well schedule wise, avoiding New Hampshire and getting both the Wildcats and Ticks at home.

The Dukes will be breaking in new coordinators on both sides of the ball, but have one of the top QB’s in the nation in Vad Lee. Preseason polls are notoriously flaky (yet still fun!), but a top 15 ranking for JMU seems about right. JMU got rolling last year and had a stretch where it was playing like a true contender. A disappointing playoff loss to Liberty ended things and revealed that the Dukes weren’t quite at the level we as fans had hoped however. With Lee coming back and the entire team a little more settled into the Everett Withers regime, this could be the year for a deep playoff run. Go James!

 

May 27 / Rob

McDonalds Flawlessly Deploys JMU-Like “Monitoring the Situation” Strategy

monitor the situationIt was a bad day for FIFA. Fourteen officials from international soccer’s governing body were arrested on corruption charges by the US Department of Justice. Seeing as how the United States is now treating FIFA as a criminal organization like the mafia, you’d forgive any corporation that had poured millions of sponsorship money into the cesspool of an institution it if it went running for the hills.

One such corporation is McDonalds. Fear not though, shareholders of the Golden Arches. Ronald, Grimace, the Hamburgler and the rest of the powers that be know just what to do. They’re not rushing to judgment or making any hasty decisions. They’re taking a page out of the JMU administration’s book and “monitoring the situation.” Very closely to be precise.

I see no way this strategy won’t work. There is zero downside. Unless of course you consider thousands of people a few dozen folks collaborating to objectively analyze the situation and formulate a cogent plan to effect change spending years bitching about it on message boards, to be downside. I mean if that’s downside, then the precedent set by JMU’s experience means that Mickey D’s is hosed.

May 26 / Todd

Hopefully One of JMU’s Pros Provides an Example for Current Dukes


As our eleven long-time readers know, we’ve always had fun following JMU athletes into the professional ranks when the best of them were able to continue their careers beyond the ‘Burg. And as most of you know, with the possible exception of Arthur Moats, there’s probably no former Duke we’ve enjoyed following more than C.J. Sapong in MLS. From his rocket-ship rookie year that led to Rookie of the Year Honors with Kansas City, through some battles for playing time, and right on to his move to the Philly Union this year, as huge soccer fans, we’ve always been thrilled to follow C.J.’s career. He’s always been a positive voice on social media and a big JMU supporter (and occasionally even a JMUSB supporter!). So it was with quite a bit of disappointment and concern that we read of his DUI arrest a few weeks back. But as we all know, life is often about what you do when given a second chance. Following his suspension and after completing the MLS’s Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program, C.J. rejoined his Union teammates this weekend and did this:

Needless to say, the lessons learned and the redemption were hopefully extra sweet and Sapong appears to be doing and saying all the right things. He also scored a goal in his first game back over the weekend. We can only hope that a few other Dukes will take this kind of advantage should they be granted a second chance at some point this summer!

May 21 / Todd

JMUSB Summer Drinking List

So we’ve entered the offseason and with no World Cup this summer, we’ll have to expand our gimmicks even beyond sports to a few of our other interests to bridge the last 100 days or so till kickoff. Barring actual news, we’ll be sustaining ourselves, and hopefully a few of our eleven readers!

Beautiful!

Beautiful!

In honor of Letterman’s retirement, we’ll present this week’s JMUSB Summer Drinking List in Top 10 form.

10. Due South Brewing (Boynton Beach, FL) Category 3 IPA – A quality, old-school, no gimmicks IPA. The craft beer explosion took a while to overrun Florida the way it did many other states, but Due South is putting out a solid lineup of offerings and this might be the best of the bunch.

9. Maine Beer Company (Portland, ME) Lunch IPA – This really won’t be all IPA’s but this is the best lunch you’ll eat this summer!

8. Port City Brewing Company (Alexandria, VA) Optimal Wit – JMU owned. So basically they get the nod no matter what, but this is one of their best offerings and makes for a great start to a summer afternoon.

7. Champagne, Prosecco, Cava, etc. – ok, not beer but we guarantee nothing will get more people to spontaneously throw their whole day and night away and join you for some adult day-drinking like “Glass of [insert bubbly of choice here]?” to any companion during Brunch hours. Seriously, don’t sleep on this.

6. Appalachian Mountain Brewery (Boone, NC – Sun Belt baby!) Long Leaf Pine IPA – 16 oz. cans really are the perfect summer delivery system for good beer. Preferably pulled out ice after some quality cooler rustlin’ and consumed near an open flame. I really wanted to mock this beer for it’s blatant pandering to state pride, but it’s just damned good and these guys and gals are trying doing some cool things with a portion of their profits.

5. Founders Brewing (Grand Rapids, MI) Ok, we’re back to IPA’s but we both really appreciate the fact so many breweries are putting out these lower ABV Session IPA’s. Old Guys everywhere rejoice at this style! Hey, we can stay awake. Founders was one of the first to start really distributing this style and this remains one of the best.

4. Ballast Point Brewing Company (San Diego, CA) Even Keel Session IPA – this is a very low ABV (3.8%) that will keep you true to its name all-BBQ long while still giving you something tasty to nip at.

3. Funky Buddha Brewery (Oakland Park, FL) Floridian Hefeweizen – just an absolutely perfect beach beer from one of the coolest breweries I’ve ever seen.

2. Deep River Brewing Company (Clayton, NC w/ an assist from Tyler’s Taproom) Bitter Unicorn Tears IPL – This is a fantastic version of the newly popular India Pale Lager. Hoppy, but crisp, and a bit higher ABV than you even realize, this is the beer I discovered when I was looking for something to stock up for when the Caps and Wiz faced elimination games and I knew this was the only choice. Might as well fill a fridge now for Nats playoffs. #DCSprots

1. Ice Cold Cans of Fizzy yellow American shit beer (Milwaukee, WI) just work better in the summertime. So go for it!

Let us know your thoughts and share your other favorites in the comments. Have fun and drink responsibly (ahh, who are we kidding).

May 20 / Rob

Letterman Ends Tonight, Which Late Night TV Host Would You Want to Grab a Beer With?

It’s still 100+ days until football season and there isn’t much to talk about JMU sports-wise, so let’s go a little off topic. As you’re probably well aware, David Letterman ends his 33 year run as a late night tv host this evening. You’re going to read plenty of tributes to Dave that are far more poignant and well written than anything I could come up with. Or maybe you won’t read them, but there will be no shortage of options for anyone who wants to. That’s not what this is.

I’m a huge Letterman fan and am sad to see the show go. The truth is though, Dave has always struck me as a bit of a curmudgeon. It’s contributed to his humor and is part of his charm for tv viewers. I love watching Dave, but I’m not sure it would be too thrilling to be around him. Which got me thinking, would any of these late night tv hosts be fun to hang out with? Are there any of them who’d be fun to grab a beer with? Let’s decide.

We’ll stick to the current crop of late night hosts. Of course, that means the following guys.

Conan O’Brien – Whip smart guy who honed his craft as a writer on the Simpsons (he penned the monorail episode) and at the Harvard Lampoon before that. He got screwed by Leno, but rallied to become a bit of a cult favorite. He’s got an offbeat sense of humor and doesn’t seem to take himself too seriously.

Jimmy Fallon – Creative and non-offensive might be the best way to describe him. He’s a guy who definitely seems to enjoy himself and put everyone at ease. You never know with any of these folks, but he sure seems like a nice person. Part of me wonders if he’s ever “off” though, or if he’d be doing bits when you just wanted to drink a beer and relax.

Jimmy Kimmel – The other Jimmy, like Dave, seems destined to always finish second to the Tonight Show. And like Dave, that might be due to the fact that he doesn’t take a least common denominator approach to his comedy. That’s not to say that he’s super edgy, but he’s not a polished guy riffing on wacky headlines either. Also, he’s apparently a legit sports fan, so you could always talk football over beers.

John Stewart – Like Conan, he’s a super smart guy. He’s very funny and probably the most topical. He went to William & Mary though, so if you grabbed a beer with him, it might need to be in a Williamsburg deli instead of a bar.

Seth Meyers – He’s clearly still finding his rhythm as a late night talk show host. I’ve always been a big fan of his though. I think that like Conan, he might be a guy that starts slow, but evolves to be very funny in his own way. Plus, he was a former head writer at SNL so he’s probably got stories for days.

James Corden – Alright, I had to Google “Craig Ferguson’s replacement” to pull this guy’s name. He’s definitely the new kid on the block and has some work to do to make inroads here in America. I’ve only seen the show once, but I actually thought he was really fun. For the purposes of this exercise, I think he should get bonus points because I think he might actually have a beer with you if you asked. You gotta build ratings some how.

David Letterman – There’s not a lot of middle ground with Dave. You either love him, or his humor falls flat. As I mentioned, I’m firmly in the former camp. But I don’t think the curmudgeon thing is an act. He really seems like a guy best admired from afar. I’m not saying he’s a bad guy, but he’s pretty private and by most accounts is a pretty private guy who isn’t much for socializing.

Now, I know I’m never going to have a beer with any of these guys. Without over-thinking this (too late), here’s how I’d break the list down however. It’s in order of guys I’d least like to have a beer with to most. And yes, I’ll probably change the order about a million times if we were ever to discuss it in person.

7. Corden (too new, might rise with time)

6. Letterman

5. Stewart

4. Fallon

3. Meyers

2. O’Brien

1. Kimmel

 

 

May 18 / Todd

Softball Falls in NCAA’s, Offseason Upon Us

Congrats on a great run!

Congrats on a great run!

Softball’s magical and historic season came to a tough end over the weekend when they fell in a regional JMU hosted for the first time. After splitting their first two games of the regional in tight contests against Binghamton and NC State, they fell to Fordham 2-1 in  tough game beset by weather delays. The Dukes showed great fight by having to sleep on a late 2-0 deficit with only 4 outs remaining on Saturday night and come back to finish the game Sunday. The promptly rallied in the 7th when play resumed, scoring a run, putting the tying run on base, and then missing what might’ve been a season-saving extra base hit by inches down the line. But in the end it wasn’t quite enough and it’s sad to see such a wonderful season end. A program-best 48-10 record, including an undefeated mark in CAA play, and a #15 national ranking (as high as #12 in RPI) while earning the right to host JMU’s first-ever NCAA regional and drawing large, enthusiastic crowds is NOTHING at all to hang any heads over though. Congrats ladies and thanks for teaching us a thing or two about a new-for-us JMU sport this spring!

On the other diamond, the baseball team’s season, and thankfully Spanky McFarland’s run as head coach, were mercy killed while you weren’t looking and really there’s nothing to see. A once-proud program stayed more than a few seasons too long with at the ball with this regime and McFarland goes out on a dismal 18-33, 6-18 CAA season. You’d have to think just about anything will be better than that moving forward.

And just like that, the silly season here at JMUSB begins. With the exception of a few track athletes that we’ll be hoping have exceptional performances at NCAA’s in two weeks, JMU’s 2014-15 year in sports is over. That means we’ll be moving on to jokes, gimmicks, big-picture posts (mainly lamenting another lost year in conference news), and getting excited over the plans for the new arena (we’re going to resist the “new Convo” label because the Convo was always a bush-league name to begin with). And in case you were wondering: 110 days till football season.

May 14 / Rob

Here is the Official JMU MAC Invitation Email

MAC Invite 2

After years of anticipation, it finally happened. There will be no more whining about JMU’s place in the CAA or praying for an FBS league to come calling. This afternoon, we received the email from JMU officially announcing the invitation to the MAC! Only it wasn’t the MAC. It was just MAC, the Madison Alumni Conference (sad trombone).

Sweet choice of acronym guys. Here’s a pro tip for the powers that be at JMU. If you ever dream up events like the Alumni Collaboration Consortium or the Student’s Education Council, spell things out in the email invitations. Please.

May 14 / jmusport

Guest Post: Harrisonburg Regional Preview

Veterans Memorial ParkThis is a guest post by NCAA softball expert @BHansen40. In it he breaks down JMU’s opponents in the opening round of the NCAA Softball College World Series.

The postseason is coming to Harrisonburg this week as the NCAA selection committee rewarded JMU with an NCAA regional, despite coming up short in the Colonial Athletic Association. Ironically, the three teams making the trip to the ‘Burg, North Carolina State, Fordham and Binghamton, are familiar with each having played one another in the NC State Invitational in Raleigh earlier this season. read more…

May 11 / Rob

JMU Sports Weekend Wrap: The Agony and The Ecstacy

Softball CelebrationSports are great. Or they’re not. Your team can make you feel like you’re walking on air when times are good. When times are bad though, not so much. We could go on and on with this stupid intro, but the point is that this was a very up and down weekend when it comes to JMU sports. Let’s get to it.

JMU softball carried a 36 game winning streak into last week’s CAA tournament, before dropping the opener to Hofstra. The Dukes rallied in the losers bracket to get another crack at the Pride in the finals. The ladies came up big with a 3-2 win to force a winner take all second game. We Feel Like: We’ve got a spring in our step.

Unfortunately, things didn’t work out too well in the final game. Hofstra won a squeeker 2-1 to capture the CAA crown. We Feel Like: Someone kicked us in the shins. Hard.

The ladies of JMU lacrosse had an outstanding season and managed to capture another CAA title. The Dukes were rewarded with a bid to the NCAA tournament and a match-up against USC. With the game scheduled for Friday evening in Durham, NC, the seniors would be unable to participate in graduation. We Feel Like: Someone stole our sandwich from the office fridge and ate it.

Fortunately, President Alger held a special graduation for the players as soon as they stepped off the practice field. We Feel Like: The world is a happy place.

The Dukes looked pretty good for most of the game and lead for a while. Then things took a turn for the worse and the Trojans managed to coast home for a 13-10 victory, ending JMU’s season. We Feel Like: We could use a beer.

The Diamond Dukes played their final home series under head coach Spanky McFarland this weekend. Given the way the past few seasons have gone, we haven’t paid much attention to the squad this year. We Feel Like: We’re completely indifferent.

JMU split the first two games of its series against Hofstra. The Dukes took the opener 10-7 and then dropped a close one 8-6 to set up a rubber match for the series finale. We Feel Like: A team we don’t follow did sports stuff.

The Dukes’ bats exploded in game three for Spanky’s home sendoff. JMU scored a whopping 23 runs and finished the home season with a 23-7 win. We Feel Like: We’d probably be thrilled if a team in a sport we followed won this convincingly.

And finally, the NCAA selection committee announced softball College World Series bids this evening. The Dukes are dancing. Oh, and they’ll be dancing in Veterans Memorial Park because the NCAA did something right for once and awarded the Dukes the 15th overall seed. That’s right, the powers that be actually recognized that slipping up against another strong program doesn’t outweigh months of sustained excellence. So JMU will be hosting Binghampton, Fordham, and NC State in the Harrisonburg Regional next week. We Feel Like: Everything is coming up Milhouse.

May 7 / Rob

Taylor Newton Hit One Out of the Park and Into Duke Dog’s Mouth

Duke Dog HomerThree Dukes went yard today in JMU softball’s 13-2 blowout victory over Elon. All home runs are not created equal however, and Taylor Newton’s was definitely one to remember. The center fielder’s blast sailed over the left field wall and directly into the inflatable Duke Dog’s mouth. We were under the impression that was worth 10 bonus runs, but apparently it was not. No fun. Thankfully, the Dukes had all the runs they needed and then some.

Newton’s homer was the icing on the cake of a huge bounce-back win. It came in JMU’s second game of the CAA tournament after Hofstra rallied to defeat the Dukes and put an end to their program record 36 game winning streak. The win over Elon gives JMU a chance to seek revenge against Hofstra tomorrow in the finals of this double-elimination tournament. The top seeded Dukes need to take two from the Pride in order to capture the CAA title. Game one starts at 12:00 noon and can be viewed via CAA.tv.

h/t to @hughe2mj for the pic.