Saturday, December 26, 2009

Top 10 games of 2009

As the year winds down it seems like the thing to do is come up with a top 10 list recapping the year. Seeing that I have written a few consecutive posts on wedding planning I might as well go back to an old favorite of mine - sports. Below are the top 10 games yours truly saw in person.

10. Twolves - Bulls - United Center - I was in Chicago visiting a few of my friends from college and we decided to go to see a Bulls game on the day after New Year's. There were no scalpers and we ended up buying standing room only tickets. For the first half we were content sitting in the upper level, but for the 2nd half we went down to the 1st level. By the end of the game we had made ourselves all the way down to the floor seats about 10 yards away from the Bulls bench. Anyway, spending time with good friends, seeing a new arena and seeing a 102-92 Twolves victory is reason enough for this to be the 10th best sports game I went to see this year.

9. Mississippi Braves - Mobile BayBears - Trustmark Park - The game itself was pretty boring, but I enjoyed going to see a new stadium and spending time with my family. While I might be partial to Smith Wills Stadium, it is good to see minor league baseball is back in Jackson.

8. Royals - Orioles - Kauffman Stadium -A 3-2 Orioles win. - This is another one where the game itself wasn't much to write home about, but the experience of going to Kauffman Stadium more than made up for it. There isn't much better than getting some good Kansas City BBQ (Arthur Bryant's in this example) and then going to see a game (even the O's -Royals) at the K.

7. Miami - Denver - Mariucci Arena - When the college hockey tournament was announced I was pleased to find out that my alma matter was going to be heading to Minneapolis. Sure they were the 4 seed and were probably going to lose to the 1 seeded Pioneers of Denver, but I was just happy to be able to go support Miami. Anyway, my expectations were low so it was even better seeing a 4-2 victory for the Redhawks. This game led to an incredible run through the college hockey tournament that fell just a minute short of producing a national championship.

6. North Dakota St. - Kansas - Metrodome - M and my sister's side of the family got together to get me a ticket to the opening round games in Minneapolis this past year. The games were fun to see live with the best game being the first game between North Dakota St. and Kansas. NDSU isn't a very far drive away from Minneapolis and since it was their first time the tournament the Metrodome was filled with energy from all the Bison fans in the arena. Everyone was treated to a great game and a great shootout between Ben Woodside of NDSU and Sherron Collins of Kansas.

5. Orioles - Twins - Metrodome - Delmon walkoff single for a 7-6 Twins win. The Twins were at the beginning of a eventual playoff push that led to them winning the division. This game against the Orioles was a back and forth game that eventually ended up with Delmon Young singling in the game winning run in the 10th inning. I was happy to see Young's single for 2 reasons: 1) The Twins won and 2) Since this was a Tuesday game M had already informed me that we weren't staying past 10 innings. Thankfully Delmon came through in the cluth. (I can't believe I just wrote that.)

4. USM - Texas - Rosenblatt Stadium - The future best man of my wedding attended the University of Southern Mississippi and we both have an agreement in place to cheer for each others schools as long as they aren't playing each other. Well this past year USM made a very unlikely run to the College World Series and Johnny (and a lot of other USM fans) decided to drive from Mississippi to Omaha to see the Golden Eagles. Since Omaha is only a 5.5 hour drive from Minneapolis I agreed to meet him and his friends there to go see the game. The game was close, but unfortunately Texas ended up winning 7-6 on a walk-off walk in an inning where no Texas player got a hit. It was one of the worst ways you could lose. Still looking back on it it was a great game and a great time. USM did well on the field and in the stands and Rosenblatt Stadium is a great place to see a game.

3. 49ers - Vikings - Metrodome - I was able to get some upper level tickets for around $20 and I decided to with two of my friends to see Favre and the Vikings play the 2-0 49ers. I was expecting a close game, but an eventual Vikings victory. My expectations turned out to be true, but the way it ended up was something that I never could have predicted. I would never have predicted a blocked field goal returned for a TD at the end of the half by the 49ers. I would never have thought about seeing a Percy Harvin return td, where Harvin looked like he was running at a different speed. Finally, I would have never have imagined seeing Brett Favre run around like he didn't know what he was doing and then heave a 32 yard touchdown to the back of the end zone to the new Viking Greg Lewis to give the Vikings a 27-24 victory. It was a great game with an incredible ending. I don't have any pictures from the game, but you should check out the video: Brett Favre Throws Miracle TD to beat 49ers

2. Ohio St. - Iowa - Ohio Stadium - Despite living in Ohio for 4 years and dating an OSU grad I had never seen a regular season game at the Horseshoe. I decided that with the vacation time I had this year I would drive down and see the OSU - Iowa game. This was a pretty great decision in hindsight since the game turned out essentially to be the Big Ten championship game with the winner going to the Rose Bowl. My favorite parts of gameday included; tailgating with friends before hand, walking into the Shoe, talking with people who had been going to games for 40 years, the hospitality of the Buckeye fans, Brutus, seeing the winning kick and rushing the field with my friend Nicole. It was a great 27-24 Buckeye overtime victory.

1. Tigers vs. Twins - Metrodome - Game 163 - A 6-5 extra inning win for the Twins to complete an unprecedented comeback to win the division. I have written about this before, but I still can't really believe all that I saw that night. What a great game and a great moment in Twins history.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wedding Update - Marrying in the Catholic Church

M and I decided to get married in a Catholic Church, which wasn't a shocking decision since her entire immediate family is Catholic. I was raised Episcopalian, but that doesn't seem to be a deal breaker for the Catholic Church. In fact below is all you need to do to get your very own Catholic Church Wedding Ceremony:
  • M had to agree to consider the possibility of raising the kids Catholic. This seems to differ based on who you talk to since there are some people who think that in order to be married in Catholic Church you have to sign your children up for a life of a being a Catholic.

  • Pre-Cana: This is a 1.5 day pre-wedding prep session where you go over what it will be like to be married. There are a lot of gender stereotypes and lectures on the differences between men and women. If you go to class in Minnesota you will find out that the main problems that the wife has with their husband revolve around hockey and hunting. We went through this in the summer.

  • FOCUS - This is a standardized test that is designed to raise up compatibility flags. We took this on Sunday and got the results back yesterday. Randomly the person who administered the test and gave back the results just happened to one of my softball umpires.

  • Agree to have children. This isn't a specific class or something you have to sign, but it is definitely heavily implied. All that I would like to comment on right now is that I am very happy that H is in the family.

I am happy to report that M and I pass all of the requirements. We have received the certification from Pre-Cana and our standardized test came back with an acceptable compatibility score. It is really good that there were no big issues that came up, because the whole wedding thing is already well under way as you can probably tell from the wedding updates.

Not much else to report today, but I will try to get out a new post tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Wedding Update - rehearsal dinner

Sometimes you see a preview for a TV show (ex. Modern Family) and you feel pretty confident that you will like it. Other times it is the reverse where after the preview you wonder how that show ever made it past the idea stage. Man vs. Food definitely fell in the 2nd category. Why would anyone want to watch a show about a guy who eats a lot of food? I don't know why I even checked it out in the first place, but it is clear that my initial assumption on that show was dead wrong. Man vs. Food is not only watchable, but something that I set my DVR to and enjoy watching with M. Something about the host Adam Richman's personality combined with the interesting local restaurants he tries out makes for a fun tv show. I am still not as interested in the final "man vs. food" eating challenge, but I do like seeing where he goes and what he tries.

With that being written I am proud to announce that on June 4th, 2010 M and I's rehearsal dinner will be at a place featured on Man vs. Food Columbus - Schmidt's. Schmidt's is a German restaurant in the aptly named German Village part of Columbus. It has been around since the 19th century and I can vouch for the food being excellent.

The only sad note on this is that my original idea of a having a BBQ challenge for the rehearsal dinner didn't work out. I tried working with City BBQ and Hoaggy (the two most well known BBQ places in the area), but I couldn't find a private room available. That made it more complicated as I was tasked to find an open place that could fit 40-50 people. I looked around, but after a few deadends I gave up and decided to go with the easier option. If I lived in Columbus I am pretty sure I could have worked out the details, but from 700 miles away it wasn't easy enough. My goal now is to have a BBQ challenge for M and I's 5 year or 10 year anniversary party.

Overall though I am very excited about Schmidt's. For those of you who read the blog let me know what kind of menu would like. There is no guarantee I will pick what you like, but still I am curious about your opinions. Below are the options:

Schmidt's Traditional German Buffet

  • Schmidt's own fresh Pork Bratwurst
  • Famous Smoked Bahama Mama
  • Garlic Knockwurst (Baked Chicken may be substituted)
  • German Potato Salad
  • Hot Sauerkraut with Pork
  • Green Beans with bacon or glazed baby carrots
  • Chunky Applesauce
  • Fresh Garden Salad
  • Rolls & Butter
  • Coffee, Tea and Iced Tea
The American Buffet
Choice of three following Entrees:
  • Roast Beef
  • Pan Roasted Turkey
  • Baked Ham
  • Meat & Cheese Lasagna
  • Vegetable Lasagna

Served with the following Sides:

  • Apple Walnut Stuffing
  • Redskin Mashed Potatoes
  • Home-style Green beans
  • Tossed Green Salad
  • Rolls & Butter
The Specialty Buffet
Includes the following Choices:
  • Choice of Three Entrees
  • Choice of Two Side Dishes
  • One pre-plated salad
  • Rolls & Butter
  • Coffee, Tea and Iced Tea
List of Entrees -
  • Pork Bratwurst
  • Bahama Mamas
  • Garlic Knockwurst
  • Cabbage Rolls
  • Basil Garlic Chicken
  • Applesauce Meatloaf
  • Marinated Chicken Breast
  • Chicken and Egg Noodles
  • Baked Atlantic Whitefish
  • Roast Beef
  • Honey Baked Ham
  • Roast Turkey
  • Roasted Pork Tenderloin
  • Meat and Cheese Lasagna
  • Vegetable Lasagna
  • Vegetable Garden Spatzel
  • Spatzel Alpine
  • Chicken Fruelin
Side Dishes
  • Creamy Macaroni and Cheese
  • Chunky Applesauce
  • Hot Sauerkraut and Pork
  • Baked Red Skin Potatoes
  • Apple Walnut Stuffing
  • Redskin Mashed Potatoes
  • Green Beans With Bacon
  • Hot German Potato Salad
  • Schmidt's Style Baked Beans
  • Sweet Slaw
  • Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage
  • Cottage Cheese
  • California Blend Vegetables
  • Glazed Baby Carrots
  • Tossed Garden Salad
  • Pasta Salad
  • American Potato Salad

Monday, December 14, 2009

Wedding update

For those of you who have suffered through all of my recent sports posts here comes a streak of wedding posts. That's right. If you want to hear somebody's thoughts on the playoff contending Miami Dolphins then check out the Miami Herald. If you want to know about the Twins offseason then feel free to go to one of the following blogs - here or here. If you want to know about my talented, but disappointing fantasy teams then write me an email. If you want to know about the #1 ranked Miami Redhawk hockey team then try out what I think is the only college hockey website anywhere. This blog might as well be changed to Thoughts on Wedding Planning. Get excited.

First update - Save the Dates. We aren't doing them. There was talk about sending them out with either the Malphurs family Christmas letter or maybe even the first annual joint Christmas card, but that talk was just that. I have tried to be good about spreading the word that next June Nancy will be celebrating her quarter century birthday and M and I will be tying the knot, but just in case I missed you here is the proper forum. June 5th, 2010 is the big date. Consider this a save the date. I will even include a picture:

Stay tuned for the next update.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

4 degrees

I received a text today from my future best man in my wedding with the simple question "You cold today?" He must have seen some weather report about the bitter chill that is going through Minnesota. You see right now as I write this it is 4 degrees with a wind chill of -11. This is actually an improvement over the temperature of -2 degrees I saw reported last night. It is cold, but for someone who has been in Minnesota for 4 years and 5 winters it isn't anything new. Every year there will be a stretch of single digits or negative numbers. You don't always know when it will happen, but you know that it is as inevitable as the snow.

In Mississippi there were sweatshirt winters and in Ohio it could get pretty cold, but in Minnesota it gets really, really cold. Here are some of the things I learned about it being Minnesota cold:
  1. Your nostrils can freeze together. This is frightening, disgusting and if you are outside long enough unavoidable.
  2. Your no longer care about any semblance of fashion.
  3. The air is much thinner and running is nearly impossible. I just learned that last night as I was racing to get back to my car after the Twolves game. This "thing I learned" about the cold might just mean I am out of shape, but I choose to believe my first point.
  4. Don't underestimate the dangers of driving on the road and don't overreact. You won't be able to break or turn as easily, but the worst thing you do is start panicking.
  5. Commute = X. Commute driving in freezing, snowing weather = minimum. For those of you who forgot basic algebra that means that if your commute is 15 minutes then you should set your expectations of a commute in bad weather at 30 minutes.
  6. You would think people would be more cautious about their driving in the snow. Most are. However, some getting annoyed about how long their commute is still take the time in the car to put on their makeup (saw that today) or text. These people get in car accidents and contribute to the point above.
  7. Your two most important articles of clothing are what you put on your feet (boots preferably) and head. This is under the assumption that you have a coat to put your hands in, because otherwise you can add gloves to that list. One of the best purchases I (well my Mom) ever made were some expensive Gortex boots that I can walk through snow, ice, water and not feel a thing.
  8. If you don't wear appropriate shoes or gloves then the best thing you can do is put them in lukewarm water to thaw them out. It is kind of like thawing out frozen chicken.
  9. Minnesotans do enjoy the summer more because of the winters.
  10. Walking on a frozen lake has a feeling of dread. I can only imagine what it is like to drive a car on a frozen lake.
  11. Extremely cold days are mentally and physically exhausting. Simple things like driving to work or going to get dinner can feel like tremendous undertakings. That combined with the fact that is dark for 17 hours of the day can mean that you get a lot of sleep.
  12. A sunny day with no clouds in sight might look like a nice day from your window, but all it really means is that it is -10 degrees. In Ohio I would go months without seeing the sun in the winter, so I automatically associated sun with heat. That and the fact that the sun is supposed to provide warmth. Well in Minnesota a sunny day doesn't necessarily mean any heat and I think it can actually mean that the day is colder than expected.

Now it is off to watch the mighty Redhawks compete against Cincy in basketball on ESPN 2.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


This post has been a long time coming, but hopefully after 4 years of applying my craft I can give a detailed view on my thoughts on scalping.

When I was a kid I collected basketball cards. There wasn't much of a greater thrill than opening up a new pack of cards and seeing what treasures awaited me. I would sort out the "commons" and pull out the rookies, superstars or inserts. From those cards I would then look them up in the monthly card magazine Beckett and see what was the quoted price for the month. A 92/93 Shaq rookie card - $10. Nice. I would relay the good news to my Dad and he would always answer my enthusiasm with the question "how much could you sell the card for?" I would then say that if I went to the card shop that I could probably get half of Beckett's quoted price or in this example $5. He would calmly reply that the card was then worth $5. This was confusing to me as a kid because I could see in print that the card was listed as $10. My Dad (being the Louis Rokeyser of North Jackson) would try to explain to me about the stock market, but all of this was above my head. His overall point was that the monetary value of a good was equal to what somebody would pay for it. Simple. Right?

I bring up that flashback into my childhood because I feel like it provides good context on how I view the world of scalping. I think scalping is free market capitalism at its best and worst. How much is a game worth? It is worth what you are willing to spend. The fact that a ticket has a face value of $125 only provides a starting point of what the ticket might actually be worth. Is it a $125 ticket to Duke-UNC at Cameron or is a $125 ticket to Twolves-Raptors? I think too many people think of a sporting ticket as if it is an Ipod you would buy at Target. You are wasting money if you go to and you buy a ticket for what they are charging you. This isn't Target. You can negotiate.


This is probably the #1 stumbling block for most people who might want to buy tickets through a scalper, but instead purchase the tickets from ticketmaster or the team. Where do you go to buy tickets? There have 3 different ways that I have purchased tickets through a 3rd party:

1. Street scalpers -

Approaching the Metrodome, Target Center, Exel Center, etc I am always greeted with the familiar calls of "tickets, who needs tickets." These are almost always men (I have never once dealt with a female ticket scalper) and should be situated as close as possible to the stadium. You should see and hear them and not have to go looking for scalpers, but some markets either have very few scalpers (US Cellular Field in Chicago) or have a designated scalping zone (Miller Park in Milwaukee). My experience is that I have probably bought 80% of my scalped tickets through the street scalpers.

2. Online -

I use and would recommend that site to anyone who wants to ease into the world of scalping tickets. The website has tickets to sporting events, concerts and theater. The website is very user friendly and it guarantees your tickets. I have probably bought tickets to a dozen games using stubhub and I have not once had any type of problem. All you have to do is go to the website, click on the team you want to see and stubhub lists out all of the upcoming games. You then click on the game you want to see and out comes a list of all the tickets you can buy at different prices. This is right next to the map of the stadium, so that you can see exactly where your tickets are.

One note - the price listed is less than you will pay for the tickets since there is a 10% stubhub service fee as well as a delivery fee.

Stubhub is very easy to use, understand and buy tickets. Everything is as straight forward as it is buying tickets through ticketmaster or a team. No surprises.

3. Craig's List -

This is a new avenue that I have started using, but the site itself isn't much of a secret. You go in search for the game you want to see and then email back in forth with the seller. Yesterday I bought my first two sets of tickets from two different sellers and while it might be obvious I have to point out that this is the most risky of any of the 3 choices. For example I went to pick up my first set of tickets yesterday and I had no problem as I got my 8th row face value $125 tickets for $25 each from a nice 40 year old lady at a grocery store only 3 miles from my house. I then went to St. Paul to pick up my 1st row tickets. When I got there I met up with another nice 40 year old lady at a popular Italian restaurant and when we were making the exchange I saw the tickets were Row L and not Row 1. It turns out that the poster had listed them with a lower case l, which on Craig's List looks exactly like a 1. The price I had agreed to pay for them was $30 each because I was offering 20% of face value for what I thought were $150 tickets. Instead what ended up happening was I paid $30 each for tickets with a face value of $60 each. So to recap in the midst of an hour I paid $25 for a $125 ticket and $30 for a $60 ticket.

You can see why I think this is risky. However, the story doesn't end poorly because the lady who sold me the tickets called me back after noticing the error and is going to be sending be back $20 or $10 a ticket. I didn't want to point out that I will still be paying $20 each for tickets with a face value of $60, which means I am not getting as good of deal (33% of face) as I could probably get somewhere else. Still the lady was so nice and I applaud her for agreeing to return my $20 in the first place. She could have easily just taken the money and not looked back. I would use caution with Craig's List. There is more risk involved and as Dr. Nixon taught me in Finance with more risk you should expect more reward. The extra reward you can expect is normally cheaper prices and no additional shipping or administrative fees.

After where the next main question is How much? This is an inexact science, but really it comes down to how much you are willing to pay. You don't get bonus points in heaven (not that I know of anyway) for getting $250 tickets for $27. Also, it isn't worth ruining a good time at a game by being upset that you paid $40 when you could have got the same tickets for $30. The key to determining the price is by figuring out the interest level in the game. These are the main things I consider:

  • Home team's history - Are we talking about Alabama football or Alabama basketball? A good, quick way of checking this out is by looking at the attendance of the past few games. Something like the Packers at Lambeau is always a sell out, while the Milwaukee Bucks might normally have 60% of capacity filled.
  • Visiting team - Is LeBron in town? Is it a rivalry game? These things will increase the price of the ticket. If it is a no name team then you stand the best chance of getting an even more discounted ticket.
  • Record - When in doubt see what the record is of the home team since people normally come out to see a winner.
  • National press - Is there something that is causing the came you are going to see to lead Sportscenter?
  • Day of the year - all things equal the weekend games draw more than weekday games.
  • Time of the year - Games at the beginning of the year have a more stable pricing structure while games at the end of the year can fluctuate a lot in price depending on playoff implications.
  • Miscellaneous - Is the stadium (example - Metrodome) closing? Is a certain local hero returning?

Once you have determined how much you want to pay and where you want to buy them the next step is negotiating. The key here that I have found is that you always have to be willing to walk away from the deal unless you get what you want. For example I wanted to go see the Cavs play this year, but all lower level tickets were going for $100+ on the street, so I walked away and didn't buy any tickets. If you aren't willing to walk away and go watch the game at home or at a bar then you start the negotiation at a disadvantage. You should know what price you want to spend after figuring out the value to you and also seeing what others are paying on stubhub and you should stick to that price or hopefully go lower. If you don't get that price then walk away.

I enjoy scalping. It has allowed me to go see more games for less money and really what more can be better than that. I know the Minneapolis market and thankfully what they value (Vikings and hockey) is not the sports (basketball and baseball) that I like to go see in person. It is a perfect match and one that is served me well. That is it for now, but as I learn more about scalping I might have to go back and revise or rewrite this post.