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Big News from OTP: The Pause of an Era

OTP Logo 200There have been news days and there have been NEWS days here at OTP over the last few years. When we broke the story about Brady Hoke leaving, that was a NEWS day. When we broke the story about Pete Lembo being hired, that was a NEWS day. When we transitioned from the old site to this one, that was just a news day. Today is probably more of the latter than the former, but it’s noteworthy all the same.

Beginning April 16, Fearless Leader will be transitioning to a new role as the Managing Editor of Hustle Belt (www.hustlebelt.com). Most of you who have been loyal Fans of the Pylon for the last few years should be familiar with HB, but in case you aren’t, it’s the MAC home on SB Nation, the preeminent site network for news, notes, features, and fun. I’m excited for the opportunity, grateful for the chance, but more than anything, I’m thankful for the loyal support of the Ball State fanbase that made the Pylon part of their digital routine.

Back in 2008 when The Pylon started, the blogosphere was the wild west of sports commentary and critique. There was a lack of substantive local coverage, a significant lack of BSU in the blogosphere, and nowhere close to the options that are present these days for MAC and subsequent Ball State news and notes. Site co-founder RV and I began this site as a way to kill some time and bring snark to the masses, as if there was any sort of lack of that. What followed would be a seven-year ride that would see undefeated seasons, coach searches, AD searches, podcasts, The Parrish Era, the CPL regime, and now The Neu Day. The things we’ve been able to do, able to see, able to chronicle, and able to be privy to all made this something more than just two dudes chirping (see what I did there?) about BSU sports.

I don’t know what role OTP played in the current landscape of Cardinal coverage, but I don’t think it’s a coincidence that coverage of BSU is night and day from what it was when The Pylon started. The size of the role we played in prompting better coverage, seeking better access, and providing opportunities for fans to see the inner workings of the program is anyone’s guess, but I’m proud of the work we have done, the tone we have set, and the legacy we’ll leave.

To be clear, this isn’t a goodbye. This is a see you later. It is entirely likely posts will pop up here that are tremendously BSU focused or homer-riffic from time to time. I’ll still be somewhat active on our Twitter (@OverThePylon) for BSU stuff. And who knows, this could all be an epic disaster and I’m back here Pylon-ing it up in a couple of weeks. Despite the sadness of stepping away, part of what has made this decision easier is the fact that I’ll still have the ability to be a voice for BSU and the athletic program, albeit on a larger stage and as part of larger MAC coverage.

I’d be remiss to not give some thanks to some folks who made the Pylon what it was. First and foremost, the site’s leadership through the years like RV, Edge, and Jason who provided all sorts of things from a different perspective to just an ear to bounce things off of. Folks who wrote for the site like Jen Zarate, Dustin White, and Nathan Pace provided some great perspective as well. Our work with local media like Ben Breiner and Tom Davis made our coverage better and bridged a gap that was insurmountable when we started. Our  Ball State contacts made what we did easier and more informative. Folks like Joe Hernandez, Chris Ulm, Tyson Matthews, Brad Caudill, and really the entire media relations staff made our jobs easier and our coverage better. From an administration standpoint, folks like Bill Scholl and Brian Hardin helped us immeasurably and never made us feel like anything other than a respected outlet. We didn’t get a chance to work closely with Mark Sandy or Michael Clark, but I’m very impressed with what we’ve seen so far. I’m excited to keep working with all of them under a different masthead.

Finally, we have to thank the coaches, staff, and players who made our time worthwhile. Coaches Hoke, Parrish, and Lembo all treated us with the utmost respect and value. I have no reason to believe Coach Neu would have been any different and look forward to working with him as part of Hustle Belt. A special shout out to some assistant coaches through the years like Joey Lynch, Jason Eck, Phil Burnett, Eddie Faulkner, and others who helped champion the cause of OTP.

On a personal note, I have to thank the countless number of fans and readers who have interacted with the site, listened to the podcast, commented on social media, emailed us, etc. Though the Ball State fanbase is small, it is mighty, and there is a small part of me that is tremendously sad to be stepping back from something we started, maintained, and created simply for the love of our institution. Running OTP was a labor of love and one that I hope can be either passed on to an eager Cardinal fan or rekindled at some point.

But for now, it’s onward and upward at Hustle Belt. I think it fitting to close our time here the way Jason has closed the last few seasons of the OTPcast, as we all are proving that there are multiple someones with enough free time to obsess over Ball State athletics.

Thanks for the memories and the support and we’ll see you at Hustle Belt!

-AMR

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A Brief Update on Your Friends at the Pylon and the End of the Whitlock Feud

OTP Logo 200Well hello there, friends. How are you? Things good on your end? What’s that? You’re excited about the home opener in a couple weeks? Yeah, us too. Of course, you wouldn’t know that by looking around the place with our lack of smarmy posts, a severe absence of potty humor, and no real breakdowns of opposing players and their girlfriends to chuckle at. Sometimes, with a one-man show of awesome like OTP, things take a backseat to life.

It’s not a new thing, as it has happened before. But this time isn’t for medical reasons or bad things, it’s all good. A promotion for Fearless Leader and the move to a new home has made blogging in the recent history a bit of a struggle. Higher education employment in the summer is always chaotic, but a new job right around opening is what we in the business call a “nightmare”. It’s not a good excuse, but it is the reason why, and I am not at the point in my career where I can say to my pending promotion, “Damn the torpedoes! It’s blogging season!”. One day, friends. One day.

So where does that leave you, the reader? Hopefully with a thirst for some Pylon in your life. The guys at Hustle Belt do a fine job and Tom Davis and Ben Breiner kill it with their mainstream media coverage. Hell, Tom Davis uses Periscope now. (For the record: From all I can gather, the Spring Game OTP Pre-Show was the first BSU football event on there) I mention all that to say that while there are a ton of options to get your Cardinal news and notes, there is only one Over The Pylon.

We may have taken some time to catch our collective breath and get me moved into a delightful new OTP Manor, but that all ends now that we are weeks away from the season opener. What do you have in your future? The always stellar Cardinal Previews (with the always entertaining OTP Threat Meter), some killer drone footage that’s football related courtesy of your favorite Podcast co-host Jason Brewer, position commentary, opponent previews, MAC thoughts, and a ton of other things are all on your docket as we roll on through August.

It’s going to be a good month going forward and (in my opinion) a very successful season for your Fighting Football Cardinals. Perhaps the biggest omen for success comes in the form of the two biggest (size joke?) BSU fans finally burying the hatchet and coming to a détente of sorts. Friends of the Pylon know that Jason Whitlock and us have had our share of run ins throughout the history of this site. We interviewed JW and then things went south for a whole host of reasons. I was able to touch base with him over the summer and I think both of us are in a much better spot than we were. We’re still blocked on Twitter, but I am no longer worried about the potential brawl in the Scheumann Stadium press box that was always somewhat on the back of my mind. We’re still blocked by JW on Twitter, so if you’re not, feel free to pass on some good wishes from the Pylon.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, we are two weeks away from the opener and we have work to do. Go Cards.

Creating the Perfect Man Cave for the Football Season

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Not that kind of cave

A man cave is an area where you can be yourself, either alone or with a couple of your absolute best friends. With no women allowed, it is an area where your favorite sport can air 24/7 if you like, and its sole purpose is to make you feel as relaxed as possible. As well as a top-quality TV, the only furnishings required will be chairs, a sofa, a table, and the accessories you need for your comfort and enjoyment.

Beginning with the decor, you will probably want to keep the walls of your man cave plain and dark so that the game can be showcased in all its glory. Thus, lights should be adjustable so you can dim them when you want to. The most important feature (and the one on which you will want to invest the most time and money) is the TV. Ideally, the man cave will be in the basement or a room or area of the house that is shut off from everybody else, free from outside interference.

The size and decor of the room will influence the size of the TV that you buy. Choose as big a screen as you can afford, or alternatively a high-quality projector screen, so you feel like you are actually in the game. It is recommended that if you are going to be seated about nine feet away, the TV screen should be 60, 65 or 70 inches, but you might want to choose a much larger screen. It really depends on the type of TV, as well as budget and personal choice. The acoustics are almost as important, so invest in the best surround system you can afford.

Your room must be warm enough in winter, cool enough in summer, and have adequate ventilation from at least one window, if possible. You need to be able to block out the light from windows and wooden shutters are perfect for this because they can be adjusted according to the angle of the sun. You will need to prevent glare and reflections from ruining your viewing experience. Shutters are neat, clean and neutral looking, easy to fit with no fussy tiebacks or curtain rails, and take up the minimal amount of space.

Easy to clean furniture and flooring, in case of spilled drinks, will need to be as comfortable as possible and you need to include enough seats to accommodate any guests you invite. You might also want a table and a means of putting your feet up, such as a footstool or an ottoman, which is also handy for storage. Add your gaming console and DVDs if you want to. The ultimate man cave will have a pool table, jukebox or even use old car parts to make quirky furnishings.

Finally, complete your man cave with gadgets, accessories and any other final touches. Decorate the walls with sports memorabilia, framed shirts, or vintage sport photographs. Add a fridge or cabinet for drinks, an espresso machine, your favorite snacks, and – of course – the best sports package available from your cable provider.

Join the Hardcore Ball State Fans on the OTP Boards

OTP Logo 200As of about 96 hours ago, there were two places were Ball State fans congregated. For your sarcastic news and notes, you’d hit up here at the Pylon, which you’re already familiar with otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this. However, there was another Ball State hangout that got a fair bit of traffic its own self in BSUFans.com, the messageboard home of the hardest of the hard and the most fanatical of the fanatics. It was the home of notorious Cardinal fans, alums, parents, and people you’d be surprised to know were active posters.

Recently though, BSUFans seems to have met its demise, if not permanently, at least until the domain registration issues can be worked out. But the business goings on in the internet and domain servers are no reason for Cardinals fans to lose their place to congregate. Hence, the recreation and relaunch of the OTP Boards. There are two ways to get there, one being clicking here, and the other being clicking over in the left hand sidebar under the appropriate heading of “OTP Messageboard”. You’ll need to register to post, but that’s a painless process and not the same sort of verification thing that BSUFans was. So there’s that.

The site is new and still evolving, but there is a suggestion thread for you to recommend changes or set up features that would make your board experience a more pleasant one. So come on over, we don’t bite. and get your Chirp on at the OTP Boards.

How to Connect with the Pylon for Your Ball State Spring Game Needs

OTP Logo 200In case you were unaware, this Saturday is the Ball State University 2015 Spring Game for the fighting football Cardinals. That’s a decidedly good thing, given that we’ve lived a virtual football-free existence since the Super Bowl and a Cardinal-free existence since before that. That is too much time between touchdowns, big tackles, and Pete Lembo platitudes that could range anywhere from ancient Greek philosophy, to Churchill, to some classic rock line. The weather looks stellar (mid-70s and sunny) and there’s a bevy of things to check out at The Scheu.

But let’s say you can’t make it up to Muncie for some reason. Maybe you have family in town (there are 51 other weekends they could have come). Maybe you’re painting the living room a beautiful cerulean blue (nice choice!). Perhaps you are running some form of mini-marathon (no thank you). The point is sometimes life gets in the way of our absorption of Ball State football. However, should you find yourself in the weeds this weekend but still needing some access or some info about the goings on in Funcie, then brothers and sisters of Cardinal Nation, you have found yourself a home. Jason and myself will be making the trip to Muncie so you don’t have to, and it wouldn’t be an OTP roadshow without some slick things to keep you informed. Drone footage? Live video? Behind the scenes tomfoolery? Yes, yes, and yes.

Here’s just a few of the ways you can connect with us this weekend and beyond:

Periscope OTP

Periscope: The newest addition to the OTP social media arsenal, Periscope is your live video app where Jason and I will be broadcasting random things on our Spring Game journey. Live podcast on the way to Muncie? Likely. Thoughts on Spring Game goings on? Very likely. Footage from the field? Also likely. And the best thing is the ability for viewers to interact with us as we broadcast. Have a question? Share it in the app. Love Jason’s beard? Share it in the app. The virtual world is your virtual oyster. Download the app to your smartphone or tablet and then find us at “OverThePylon”.

Snapchat OTP logo

Snapchat: Everyone (or just about everyone) knows Snapchat and its benefits. Photos and videos are quick hit pieces that don’t last forever. Instead of sending inappropriate selfies (follow J’s personal account for that) we’ll be putting up stories of people we come across on Spring Game Saturday, short messages from people we think you’d like to hear from, and other fun goodies that will make your Spring Game experience that much better. Follow along, enjoy the ride, and don’t screencap. Poor etiquette, bro. Username to find is “OverThePylon”.

The Twitter Machines: If you’re not a member of the OTP Twitter army you are definitely missing out. You can follow along with all things Cardinal related and some things that aren’t, all while interacting with your fearless OTP editorial staff. Toss a follow to @OverThePylon.

Instagram: More of a photo person than a live video awesomeness person? Then you should be following the Pylon on Insta. Admittedly our Insta game has been lacking to this point, but it’s time to get in on the ground floor for the rebirth. Toss a follow to OverThePylon.

Facebook: I remember back when Facebook was only for college people or alums and you could Poke people in peace without having to worry about someone’s Farmville crops or Candy Crush levels. Those were the good old days and we didn’t even know it. So to clean up your Facebook existence from all the insignificant garbage, connect with the Pylon and consider it a good day.

YouTube: The home of stellar OTP videos from last spring game and the home of videos in the coming days of our Spring Game experience with a more professional polish and shine than the Snapchats or the Periscope. But still well worth your time and attention. You can check that out here.

Most of you are already following on some but not all, and a couple of the things above like Periscope and Snapchat are new things for the Pylon to try out in this kind of setting. It’s going to be a hoot and a half for the Spring Game so join us whether you’re there or not. We’ll make it well worth your while.

Happy Holidays from OTP

Seeing as it’s Christmas eve, it’s time to get your holiday on from the Pylon. From all of us here, to all of you wherever you may be celebrating, we hope you have a great holiday. And the best news, is if like me, you’ve wondered what it would be like if Pete Lembo, President Gora, Bill Scholl, Keith Wenning, and Willie Snead all went to a holiday rave, you no longer have to wonder. Merry Christmas from OTP!

Welcome New OTP Staff: Jen Zarate

otp logoI’ve always found it sort of odd that OTP has been able to achieve what we have without a significant student voice. Taking nothing away from the core audience of passionate BSU faithful, player families, and young alums, but it has always been astounding to me that the eyes on the site weren’t a lot of students. Granted, it’s hard to reach out to a student body when you live roughly 10 hours away from Muncie and the campus daily isn’t a tremendous supporter, but to say I was always a little perplexed about how to crack that student nut would be an understatement. I have sought out student voices from time to time, all with varying degrees of passion and interest, none of whom consistently stuck. It became my primary goal for site expansion to find someone that was passionate about Cardinal athletics and who attended BSU. My prayers were answered.

Our newest addition, Jen Zarate brings that student voice in spades, as she’s an undergrad who may actually rival my affinity and passion for BSU athletics (and judging on the BSU gear I have decorating my office, that’s saying a lot). Combine that with an interest in sports media and a taste of it at MAC Media Days and I honestly could not have created a better situation if I sat down and drew someone up from scratch. Even her bio screams Cardinal Through and Through. She’s the President of Charlie’s Crew for Pete’s sake!

Jen Zarate headshotThe youngest member of the OTP team, Jen’s weekly column, Chirps From The Nest, will give the Ball State student perspective on life, love, the pursuit of happiness, and hopefully mostly football. Jen hails from Crown Point, IN in the Region where everyone thinks they’re actually from Chicago. Go Bears! She is currently a junior at BSU and is majoring in Communication Studies. She is obsessed with all things Ball State and last year celebrated the Beef O’Brady’s Bowl more than the Super Bowl. Jen is the president of the student pep organization, Charlie’s Crew, and uses every opportunity to get more students chirping. She hopes to one day work with Ball State Sports, the MAC, or be the next Jo Ann Gora. Go Cards!

It should demonstrate how excited I am (and all of us are) to have Jen on staff that I will even refrain from making any smarmy comment about her potential to be the next Jo Ann Gora. It’s hard. It’s so very hard. But that’s how excited I am.

We asked Qs, Jen gave As. That’s how it works, you know…

How are you connected to BSU?
I currently attend the beautiful Ball State University. I am a junior majoring in Communication Studies, and your future Homecoming queen. If I don’t win queen, please don’t deny me a plastic tiara.

Tell us a little about yourself, what you’re up to now, etc?
I am a student, employee, and overall enthusiast of Ball State University. I work in the residence halls and am the president of the wonderful athletics organization Charlie’s Crew. I’m just a girl with a serious chirpin’ problem.

Favorite Ball State memory?
2011-12 Worthen Arena when Ball State beat Butler. It was magical. I may have cried a little. No shame.

Favorite BSU athletes during your time there?
Randy Davis, Keith Wenning, and Majok Majok.

Predictions for the Cards this year?
We’re going to a bowl….and winning. It’s gonna happen.

As Jen mentioned, she takes over the reigns of Chirps from the Nest, the column with the student perspective and voice here at OTP. This week it will run on Friday, thanks to the Thursday game, but normally, you can catch it on Thursday. And catch it you’ll want to be sure you do. Join me in welcoming Jen aboard and be on the lookout for her inaugural Chirps from the Nest on Friday amongst our post-game coverage.

Welcome New OTP Staff: Jason Brewer

otp logoI distinctly remember a conversation that Edge and I had after the first year of OTP. We chatted about the site, where we were going with it, what we wanted it to become. The Cards were coming off an undefeated regular season, Brady Hoke had just resigned, the fanbase was in turmoil, and rough waters were ahead unbeknownst to us at the time. That was roughly 4 years ago, we were still on Blogger software, and the .net was but a twinkle in our eyes. Flash forward to now, a quarter million unique visits later, a new software, our own domain, and forays into the world of podcasting, etc. It’s clear it’s time for another upgrade. Enter Jason Brewer.

Jason and I go back to our undergrad days at BSU, but I would have hired him regardless. The skills he brings to the OTP family are two sorely lacking areas for the site. Jason excels in design and multimedia production, which is the next foray for us. Though not brand new, as he’s been producing the OTPcast since the summer, you’ll notice some behind the scenes things immediately. Branding for the new columns, tighter production value on the podcast, and our beginning salvo into video production with Jason’s against the spread posts on gameweek Fridays. Some more on Jason…

Jason HeadshotJason Brewer is a 30-something graduate of the Ball State University Business school. Cutting his teeth in radio and currently the go-to-guy for all things video and media related. While he admits he’s not as much of a “Saturday football” guy you can still find him blindly giving out picks against the spread on the Straight Cash Homey picks as well as on the OTPcast. Follow him on Twitter (@brewerjason), YouTube (www.YouTube.com/brewerjason).

In true radio fashion, Jason got two plugs into his bio. Well done. His OTP grilling…

How are you connected to BSU?
Moved into LaFollette the Fall of 2001. Many a dollar pitcher at Locker Room later I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration in the Spring of 2005.

Tell us a little about yourself, what you’re up to now, etc?
Since graduating BSU in 2005 I’ve worked primarily in traditional media. Director of Internet Development for Kicks96-FM and WHON-AM in Richmond, IN…. Sales for WRQC-FM and WARO-FM in Ft. Myers/Naples, IN… and currently Creative Services Editor/Producer for WEVV-TV in Evansville, IN.

Favorite Ball State memory?
I think my favorite Ball State memory would have to be beating #25 ranked Toledo my freshman year and ripping down the field goal posts. I still have a 2 foot section of that goal post in my living room.

Favorite BSU athletes during your time there?
Peyton Stovall (basketball guard). Reggie Hodges (football punter). I hung out with a lot of the throwers and track guys. Basically anyone but *NAME REDACTED*.

Predictions for the Cards this year?
I’ve got the cards coming in at 9-3. No MAC championship but bowl eligible.

Join me in welcoming Jason (officially) to the OTP family. His biggest contributions will be on Friday where he’ll tell you how to fund Junior’s college fund or your expensive “personal hobbies” and also putting the bow on the OTPcast. You’ll notice his contributions immediately.

Welcome New OTP Staff: Dustin White

otp logoI have found that the key to life is knowing your limitations. I think Dirty Harry said that. He seemed wise. For OTP, we clearly have smarmy commentary about the rest of the MAC, the ins and outs of the Fighting Football Cardinals, even gambling picks and podcasts that tell you the cars unfaithful husbands are most likely to drive. It’s safe to say in the 4 years we’ve been around, we’ve cast a wide net here at The Pylon. But there’s always room for growth and expansion and in the next few days I’ll introduce you to some fantastic new talent. First up, it’s new contributor Dustin White.

I’ve known Dustin for years since when he came on my radar at BSU when I was booking comedy shows and concerts for the university. I have a tremendously high bar for stand up comics to clear, and Dustin does that consistently. What he brings to the OTP table will be a weekly column, “Off Sides with Dustin White”, to give our site and your eyes a little bit of something different from slobbering over Pete Lembo, cracking on Indiana, or complaining about the lack of urinals at Scheumann Stadium. Here’s a little about our latest new addition to the OTP team…

OTP Dustin White Picture

Patient Zero of the ginger outbreak at OTP.

Dustin graduated from Ball State in 2004 with a BA in Telecommunications. After graduating Dustin moved to Chicago where he was active in the Chicago comedy scene for over 6 years. Dustin performed stand-up comedy all over the Midwest at comedy clubs, bars, casinos, basements, and about anywhere else a microphone can be plugged in. Dustin completed the comedy-writing, improv, and acting training programs at Chicago’s famed Second City, and went on to co-write and star in several sketch shows for Second City’s Donny’s Skybox Theatre. Dustin has been a blogger/contributor for Laughspin.com, ChicagoNow.com, and The Phat Phree. In all his time in Chicago Dustin has yet to find a hotdog that is in the same league as a Carter’s chili-cheese dog.

Nowadays Dustin spends most of his time working in personal finance, doing married guy stuff, and wondering where his youth went. Dustin’s goal is to provide OTP fans with a humorous weekly reprieve from obsessing over Cardinal football. He welcomes this chance to re-explore his comedy and writing talents.

You may have heard of Second City if you have been at all connected to life over the last several decades. To have someone on staff with Dustin’s comedic chops is a great boon to the site and hopefully to you, the reader. Dustin also got grilled for his first OTP Q & A…

How are you connected to BSU?
I graduated from Ball State University in 2004 with a BA in Telecommunications. I guess the coolest thing about my tenure at Ball State was that I won the Ball State Amateur Stand-Up Comedy Contest as a Freshman and Sophomore.

Tell us a little about yourself, what you’re up to now, etc?
Shortly after graduating I moved to Chicago to pursue my dream of being a comedian and actor. I was active in the Chicago comedy/improv scene for over 6 years. I got old and my priorities changed. Nowadays I work in personal finance and mow my yard in shorts and high socks.

Favorite Ball State memory?
Every single time I ate a Carter’s chili-cheese dog.

Favorite BSU athletes during your time there?
Peyton Stovall (basketball pg) and myself in intramurals (anyone who ever saw me play anything knows I’m kidding).

Predictions for the Cards this year?
I have to admit I haven’t followed the team closely since I moved to Chicago in 2005. I was happy to see them do well last season, though. I plan to follow the team closely this year, so I think the good luck I will bring to the team could propel them all the way to a MAC championship.

Join me in welcoming Dustin and check out his premier column “Off Sides with Dustin White” tomorrow on OTP.

Happy 4th from OTP

The eyes follow you across the room. Or it could just be the moonshine.

The eyes follow you across the room. Or maybe not. That could just be the moonshine.

It’s the 4th of July and time to celebrate all things America: The red, the white, the blue; the stars and stripes; fireworks; rockets red glare and such; watching your fellow citizens gorge themselves on Nathan’s hot dogs and buns dunked in water to the point where they and the viewers want to violently vomit. Those things are all just a few of the reasons the terrorists hate us. While reveling in that hatred from across oceans and distant lands, OTP is taking today off. No celebrity birthdays to trumpet, no news and notes to pass on, no Muncie news of the day, or any other ridiculousness that you’ve come to expect. Nay… NEED! OTP is back to regularly scheduled programming on the 5th, but much like the aforementioned gloryboys at Nathan’s in Coney Island, your OTP staff is going to be feasting themselves stupid on hot dogs, baked beans, cold beers, and maybe even some potato salad. Who knows?!? We don’t know if we’ll have enough plate real estate. But we’ll do what we can.

In all seriousness, I find it especially poignant to mention how amazing awesomeballs this country is. Will McAvoy in Newsroom said, “America is not the greatest country” then rattled off some stats about handgun violence, health care, mental health, incarceration and a whole host of other subjects and topics that matter approximately 0% in my evaluation of these United States. Are we perfect? Of course not. Are we a growing democracy? Of course. Am I blessed to wake up daily in a country like this? You bet your sweet little ass I am, and I celebrate that daily, but especially on this particular day. It’s amazing to me that a group of dudes sat around a table 230+ years ago and framed a nation that would eventually be the lone remaining superpower and be crowned back to back World War Champs. I am damn proud to be an American, and not just because Lee Greenwood tells me to be. What say you Ricky Stanzi?

A-freakin’-men. Enjoy your 4th, have a few cold ones, don’t blow your fingers off, and we’ll see you back here on the 11th.