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~ Bearcat, Max Power, & ZJ


Top 11 Championship Games

With the 2009 Final Four upon us, I thought I would take the time to rank the Top 11 Championship Games in the last 30 years. Why 11? Ask Nigel Tufnel.

11. 2003 - Syracuse 81, Kansas 78

Sixteen years after Keith Smart’s jumper beat Syracuse in the Superdome, Jim Boeheim finally got off the schneid and came away from New Orleans with his first national title. Freshman Carmelo Anthony carried the Orangemen and was named Most Outstanding Player (MOP).

Lasting image: Hakim Warrick blocking Michael Lee’s potential game-tying three-pointer with less than a second left.

10. 1989 – Michigan 80, Seton Hall 79 (OT)

On the eve of the tournament, Michigan AD Bo Schembechler named Steve Fisher the interim head coach after then-head coach Bill Frieder had accepted the job at Arizona State. Thanks in large part to MOP Glen Rice, Fisher went on to become the only coach to ever start with six straight wins and a national championship.

Lasting image: Rumeal Robinson canning two free throws with 3 seconds left in overtime to win.

9. 2001 - Duke 82, Arizona 72

I realize I have a bias (check out #7 to see my impartiality), but the future NBA talent on the floor for this game was pretty impressive. Arizona had Gilbert Arenas, Richard Jefferson, and Luke Walton. Duke had Mike Dunleavy, Carlos Boozer, Jason Williams, Chris Duhon, and MOP Shane Battier.

Lasting image: Battier back-handing a rebound into the basket to keep Arizona out of reach.

8. 1993 - North Carolina 77, Michigan 71

For the second year in a row, Michigan’s Fab Five came up short in the Championship game. In what would be legendary coach Dean Smith’s last title, MOP Donald Williams hit five of his seven 3-point attempts to finish with 25 points.

Lasting image: With 25 seconds remaining, Chris Webber first travelled (without it being called) and then requested a timeout when Michigan had none remaining.

7. 1999 - Connecticut 77, Duke 74

Duke came into the title game 37-1 as the presumptive champion. MOP Richard Hamilton and Connecticut had other ideas. This would not be the last time Jim Calhoun outcoached Coach K in a Final Four (see 2004).

Lasting image: With NBA talent all around him, Trajan Langdon trying to create his own shot off the dribble and travelling.

6. 2008 – Kansas 75, Memphis 68 (OT)

Memphis was up 9 points with two minutes to play, but couldn’t hold on as Kansas hit some big shots and Memphis could not convert free throws.

Lasting image: With 3.6 seconds left in regulation, MOP Mario Chalmers knocks down a game-tying 3 from the top of the key to send the game into overtime.

5. 1997 – Arizona 84, Kentucky 79 (OT)

Defending champion Kentucky came into the title game ready for their coronation, but Arizona’s Mike Bibby and especially MOP Miles Simon outplayed and outhustled the Wildcats to win the championship. On the way to their title, Arizona became the first team to ever beat three number 1 seeds. Since Kentucky went on to win the title in 1998, Arizona’s victory essentially prevented the first three-peat since the heyday of UCLA.

Lasting image: Miles Simon playing the best game of his career on the biggest stage.

4. 1982 – North Carolina 63, Georgetown 62

Freshman Patrick Ewing was like King Kong swatting away anything that came his way. To open the game, North Carolina’s first four baskets were all due to goaltending calls on an aggressive Ewing. Hoya point guard Fred Brown will best be remembered for passing the ball to MOP James Worthy while setting up for the final shot.

Lasting image: Glimpsing the killer instinct in freshman Michael Jordan taking the game-winning 16-foot jumper with 17 seconds left.

3. 1983 - NC State 54, Houston 52

Everyone tuning in thought they would see Houston’s Phi Slamma Jamma take home the title behind MOP Akeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler, Larry Micheaux, Michael Young, and Benny Anders. However, it was coach Jim Valvano orchestrating one of the biggest upsets in NCAA history. NC State won 4 of their 6 tournament games by 2 points or less by running a ball-control offense and fouling early and often when they found themselves behind.

Lasting image: Lorenzo Charles dunking the Dereck Whittenburg 30 foot airball as time expired.

2. 1985 – Villanova 66, Georgetown 64

Twice before that season, Georgetown won close, low-scoring contests against Villanova. This time, however, Villanova shot a remarkable 78.6% from the floor (9 out of 10 in the second half) and essentially pitched a perfect game. Led by MOP Ed Pinckney and Gary McLain (cocaine high and all for some of the tournament games), Villanova was able to control the tempo due to a lack of shot clock.

Lasting image: McLain clutching the ball on the floor while time runs out.

1. 1979 - Michigan State 75, Indiana State 64

MOP Magic Johnson outdueling Larry Bird for the championship. Indiana State came into the game undefeated on the season, but couldn’t remain unbeaten. Stunningly, 30 years later it is still the highest-rated game in the history of televised college basketball.

Lasting image: Magic being hoisted on his teammates’ shoulders to cut down the nets.

Thanks for coming and suckling Daddy's Sugar Ball...


Villanova-Pitt Snapshot

Wow. That was an amazing Elite-8 game between Villanova and Pittsburgh tonight, with an equally exciting finish. By the time you read this, you may have already read one writer or another comparing this game to the Duke-Kentucky game of 1994. A fair comparison? Maybe, but probably not. There were some outstanding performances in tonight's game that goes beyond the all-out hustle by everyone on the floor and the infinite number of lead changes: Sam Young's 28 points in defeat; four 'Nova players in double-figures; and the Wildcats knocking down 22 out of 23 free throws.

But I'm not here to summarize the game for you. I had the distinct privilege of texting a Pittsburgh native (and thus, a Pitt fan) during the last hour of the game, and what follows is a running text diary of one of the most exciting NCAA Tournament games in recent memory. You may know Bearcat as our Links Editor, but he is also a big fan of all things Pittsburgh … and Jameson Irish Whiskey.

We pick up at the TV timeout with 10:07 remaining in the game and Villanova leading, 54-53. In the interest of integrity, spelling and punctuation has not been changed and I've added the score after some of the dialogue for context.

ZJ (8:50pm): Christ, this is a good game! (Nova 54, Pitt 53)

Bearcat (8:51): I'm about to jump off a bridge.

ZJ (8:52): What r u drinking?

Bearcat (8:53): Newcastle

Bearcat (8:53): Yes!!!!! (Pitt 55, Nova 54)

ZJ (8:55): All of a sudden, there's a lot of ticky-tack fouls being called on nova … they're tiring.

Bearcat (8:56): Yeah… Pitt is wearing them out. I'm feeling ok. (Nova 56, Pitt 55)

ZJ (8:59): You should be drinking Iron City.

Bearcat (9:01): WTF Pitt needs to get up with some dististance

ZJ (9:02): Will u please teach blair how to shoot free throws? (Nova 56, Pitt 55)

Bearcat (9:03): Pitt player can't hit from the line… Been that way for 10 years

ZJ (9:04): I thought it's been since sean miller graduated

Bearcat (9:05): Nice… Beer not working switch to jameson (Nova 59, Pitt 55)

ZJ (9:09): I knew it was only a matter of time.

Bearcat (9:11): Op

Bearcat (9:11): 22 fouls for nova (Nova 58, Pitt 57)

Bearcat (9:12): That is high but they are pressing

ZJ (9:14): Jesus they're 17-17 from the ft line!

Bearcat (9:15): That is keeping them in it… Might kill Us down the stretch (Nova 61, Pitt 60)

ZJ (9:16): Is the Jameson helping?

Bearcat (9:17): I'm loaded… Had a couple shots might need more

ZJ (9:17): OMG – is that assault!? (Pitt 67, Nova 65)

At this point the game was very physical. Also at this point, it should be noted that Bearcat went underground and all communications went silent for ten solid minutes.

Bearcat (9:27): Hey remember when the steeler won the the superbowl hold on to that… (Pitt 76, Nova 76)

ZJ (9:30): Damn. (Final - Nova 78, Pitt 76)

Bearcat (9:32): So now I have pirates pens and steelers off season

ZJ (9:34): That was a helluva game. Btw, I'm posting our running texts on DSB.

Bearcat (9:36): Nice… Info DSB that mrs. Bearcat was going nuts.

ZJ (9:37): That she likes nuts? Okay.

Bearcat (9:38): LOL… She is not laughing at that…

Bearcat (9:40): Post it… I'm now going to break something

Bearcat (9:41): I want to throw garbage in a nova player's families yard

As always, thanks for coming and suckling Daddy's Sugar Ball.


Your 2009 Pittsburgh Pirates...

The Pirates are geared up for another year of sub-.500 baseball, so to get you super excited about watching a team lose night-in-night-out let's get you caught up on all thing Buccos:

I have a buddy who is a die-hard Pittsburgh Pirates fan and he still lives and works in the city. The other day he told me that they're going to win 85 games this season and should be in contention for the NL Wild Card. I laughed so hard I nearly passed out. Right now before doing any analysis I am going to tell you that the Pirates are not going to be winning 81 games (the perennially listed goal of .500 ball) let alone enough to be “in contention for the NL Wild Card.” So let's take a look at what the Buccos are going to put on the beautiful grass that is PNC Park this season and see if coming anywhere close to .500 ball is plausible.

(*2008 stats listed)
The Pirates lone star Nate McLouth (.276/.853, 26 hr, 23 SB). He's a Gold Glove center fielder with speed and power and can be considered all-around threat. After dumping half of the recognizable names from the line up last year the Pirates were forced to actually spend some money and agreed to a three-year contract with a club option on a fourth year. Backing him up are switch hitting catcher (is that two gay references?) Ryan Doumit (.318/.858, 15 hr) and 1st baseman Adam “I can’t hit in April, May or June” LaRoche (.270/.841, 25 hr). Doumit can hit, but needs to find a way to keep in the lineup (only 86 games in '07 and 116 in '08). To say that LaRoche is a glacially slow starter is an insult to glaciers. Both of these men need to produce in the early going should the Pirates want to keep from being mathematically eliminated prior to the All-Star break.

The rest of the lineup is unproven, mediocre, or fugly. Unproven: Left fielder Nyjer Morgan (.294/.720, 9 SB, in 58 games) time to drop the prospect tag and get things going (I actually like this kid and am glass half full on him). On the other side of the outfield another prospect (how many fucking prospects does this team have?) with a lot to prove in Brandon Moss (.246/.741, 8 hr in 79 games). Mediocre: Xavier Nady and Jason Bay are gone, yet shortstop Jack Wilson (.272/.659) remains. Which tells you something about Jack Wilson... he is always discussed as a possible trade come the middle of the season but no one wants this guy. Why? Because Wilson is incredibly overpaid for being a barely league average SS...thank you Pirates management. 2nd baseman Freddy “Dirty” Sanchez (.271/.669) runs like a turtle on Quaaludes has no power or on base skills… fuck…I’m moving him to the Fugly category. Fugly: The Other Sister …I mean the other brother 3rd baseman Andy LaRoche (.166/.508) has been called a prospect by Pirate Kool-Aid drinkers, but after 111 games in the majors and only a .184 batting average you get called "ass hat" in my book.

The bench consists of human backstop I mean…backup catcher/Phillies castoff Jason Jaramillo or Robinzon Diaz (.300/.600), Brad Lidge’s final out of the World Series strikeout victim Eric Hinske (.247/.798) that means playoff experience, Tigers/Cubs/Twins cast off Craig Monroe (.202/.679), and baby faces Brian Bixler (.157/.423), Steven Pearce (.248/.716), Neil Walker “Texas Ranger” (no MLB time), and Luis “Don’t call me Tom” Cruz (.224/.546), infielder Ramon Vazquez (.290/.795) coming off a career year with Texas (that’s right career year baby! It can only go down from here.), and outfielder Jeff Salazar (.211/.675) not to be confused with Ken Salazar.

There's a chance this offense could be middle-of-the-road, but Wilson and Dirty Sanchez don't help the cause. If LaRoche, Doumit, and McLouth can remain healthy and produce like they did last season that's a good start, but at least 2 others need to step up to make this team have any offense over the long grind of the MLB season.

Paul Maholm (9-9, 3.71 era, 1.28 whip) is the ace, but only has one season of success thus far so things could go down hill quickly. Dead Man Walking in after him is some combination of the fugly cast of Zach Duke (5-14, 4.82, 1.50), Tom Gorzelanny (6-9, 6.66, 1.80), Ian Snell (7-12, 5.42, 1.76), Jeff Karstens (2-6, 4.03, 1.34), and Ross Ohlendorf (1-4, 6.46, 1.87). I feel like handing this rotation a blind fold and a cigarette. I mean look at those numbers again...this is going to hurt. It is going to hurt 162 times.

Bucco management has always stated that it was going to be their much hyped young pitching that was going to lead us out of the rebuilding phase. See how great that worked out…

Closer Matt Capps (3.02 era, 0.97 whip, 21 saves) is solid, but needs to stay healthy. Lefty John Grabow (6-3, 4 s, 2.84, 1.23) will be useful. Tyler Yates (6-3, 4.66, 1.54) was good one night and a complete disaster the next last season, but can get guys out and should be a set up man. The rest of the bullpen will be a Dagwood style turd sandwich of Craig Hansen (6.22, 1.79), Sean Burnett (4.76, 1.61), Jesse Chavez (6.60, 1.93), Phil Dumatrait (5.26, 1.58), Romulo Sanchez (4.05, 1.50), Donnie Veal (no MLB time), Daniel Meek (6.92, 1.77), or Denny Bautista (5.22, 1.71).

Dagwood style turd sandwich might be too nice…these guys are a fucking mess. After the starters get murdered the bull pen should pull the blind folds off the bodies and get in line for their execution. Frankly, if you are in a slump and the Pirates are in town then just leave the gold thong you borrowed from Jason Giambi at home. You’re going 4-5 with a chance at hitting for the cycle.

How bad is the prognosis Doc?:
The offense won't score enough runs and the pitching will give up way too many runs. (For you not so bright readers, this is not how you win baseball games.) The offense has a chance to at least become National League average if a couple players breakout (which crappy team can’t say this?). However, the rotation is infused with high eras and can get shelled on any night, same for the bullpen. I honestly feel they may have the worst pitching staff in the majors. Therefore, 85 wins are a wet dream, but I seriously doubt they will lose 100 games. I just feel like they are going to be able to pull together some wins here and there in order to stay out of DFL by the end of the season. So I am going to guess they will win 74 games. So there you have it your 2009 Pittsburgh Pirates.

A quick aside... yesterday was a huge day for DSB. We had 117 unique readers visit the site; by far a record for this blog. If you are coming back again today, please take the time to comment below and let us know what you think of the place. Also a special thanks to all those that visited yesterday.

Thanks for coming and suckling on Daddy's Sugar Ball.



Raven's are running scared already...

Given that the Steelers are the World Champions of football they have earned the right to play their first game in prime time before a national audience. There will be pomp and circumstance with the presenting of the rings, additions to the Steelers Hall of Fame at Heinz Field and heeps of praise for what is the greatest francise in the NFL.

Unsurprisingly, the Baltimore Ravens don't want any part of it. NFL sources provided the Baltimore Sun with this story. The rumor was that the NFL wanted to start the season with the Ravens playing at Heinz Field for the Thursday night season opener. It would be a rematch of last seasons AFC Championship game (McGahee does not remember that game)

Unfortunately, I was not able to find video of Ray-Ray crying on the side line as they carted his BFF McGahee off the field.

The Ravens made a scheduling request that the NFL not schedule any prime time games against the Steelers. I did not know they accepted scheduling requests... especially BS ones like this. If they are accepting requests can the Steelers sign up to play Detroit and Texas after a late season bye? WTF? Pittsburgh has manhandled the Ravens recently winning all three match ups last year and delievering serious beatdowns during the last two prime time games (Steelers love MNF at home). But what does this say about your franchise and what message does it deliever to your team? I look forward to rubbing this in Ravens fans faces come next season. Your managament and your team are scared of the Steelers but why wouldn't you be. In what is becoming one of the best rivalries in the NFL they are not matching up. I would be scared as well... just not sure I would want everyone to know.

Thanks for coming and suckling on Daddy's Sugar Ball...



MLB Predictions Part Two: NL Edition

Sweet Jesus, have you seen Carlos Baerga on Baseball Tonight yet? He's more orange than Syracuse's home unis and more waxed than Madame Tussaud. He looks like he just stepped off Sunset Tan. Seriously, he looks like a Muppet. In other news, there are two commercials I love right now. Well, three if you count the new Jack in the Box campaign. The first is Dustin Pedroia getting repeatedly insulted by Jerry Lambert (that guy from the Holiday Inn's "three-business-guys-and-Cal-Ripken" commercial fame) for Playstation's MLB 09 The Show. In the commercial, Lambert plays Kevin Butler, Director of Game Accuracy at Playstation. Can we give Lambert an Oscar for this role right now? A whole campaign around featuring Lambert is not enough -- I want an entire sitcom developed around this character. In fact, I just may start working on a spec pilot script after I finish this post. Secondly, I love Jimmy Rollins impression of Samuel L. Jackson in the new Dick's Sporting Goods commercial. He kills me! Could have used a bit more swearing, but it works. Now onto the National League and postseason predictions:

NL East W L

  1. Philadelphia Phillies 95 67
  2. New York Mets 93 69
  3. Atlanta Braves 82 80
  4. Florida Marlins 79 83
  5. Washington Nationals 66 96

NL Central W L

  1. Chicago Cubs 100 62
  2. St. Louis Cardinals 89 73
  3. Milwaukee Brewers 84 78
  4. Cincinnati Reds 76 86
  5. Pittsburgh Pirates 72 90
  6. Houston Astros 65 97

NL West W L

  1. Arizona Diamondbacks 89 73
  2. Los Angeles Dodgers 87 75
  3. San Francisco Giants 81 81
  4. Colorado Rockies 76 88
  5. San Diego Padres 62 100

NL MVP: Albert Pujols

NL Cy Young: Rich Harden (I know, I can't believe he was healthy all year, either!)

NL Rookie of the Year: Cameron Maybin (Don't hold me to this one.)

NL Manager of the Year: Lou Piniella

NL Notes: I may be expecting too much from the Phillies, but I like their swagger … and if swagger helped Brian Urlacher that much, it can't hurt the Phils … the New York Mets pitching will cost them another pennant come September … yet Omar Minaya will (somehow) keep his job … after an off-season of every free agent rejecting the Braves (the Spurning of Atlanta! … zing!) like a dirty diaper full of Indian food, I may have shot a bit high on them … discount the Marlins all you want, but if they had landed Manny in that three-team deal last year, we'd be talking about them as a favorite … sure, their business plan alienates fans, but they're always loaded with young talent … believe it or not, this is an improvement for the Nationals … with Jim Bowden gone, who is the worst GM in the game now? … be prepared for Cubs fans to annoy the living shit out of you again this summer … want to know how I know Tony LaRussa plays fantasy baseball? He tries to get infield eligibility for all his outfielders … seriously, what the hell? He'll receive total consciousness only with a team full of Jose Oquendos … anyway, enjoy a full season of Jason Motte's mullet … I also may have shot the Brewers load too high here … everybody, please welcome the Cincinnati Reds back to relevancy … no, they won't be great (let's not get crazy here), but Volquez, Cueto, Bruce and Votto injected some excitement into the Queen City for the first time since the early '90s … the Pirates actually have some minor league talent that may help them get to .500 by 2012 … and thank god they scrapped the vests … do yourself a favor and check out the Astros record during Spring Training … actually, I'll save you some time and do it for you … as of today, March 18, they are 1-16-3 … that is not a typo … I may regret putting them at 65 wins … the Arizona Diamondbacks are one good starter away from winning 95 games … well, that and a reliable closer … okay, and a true power threat … hmmm, I'm talking myself out of them now … but the Dodgers don't have the pitching to win the West this year … unless Li'l Frankie McCourt and Neddy Coletti pick someone up during the season … Cliff Lee and Erik Bedard are in contract years this season … say what you want about Brian Sabean and the Giants being too old, but by 2011 they will begin a dynasty in the NL West … their farm is that good … for all that is holy, let's hope Troy Tulowitzki reverts to 2007 form … for the Rockies … and for Max Power … hope is a good thing … but it doesn't exist in San Diego … not now, not next year … and not even in 2017.

Postseason Results … of the Future! (for gambling purposes only, please):

ALDS: Red Sox over Angels, 3 games to 1

Yankees over Twins, 3 games to 2

ALCS: Red Sox over Yankees, 4 games to 2

NLDS: Cubs over Mets, 3 games to 2

Phillies over Diamondbacks, 3 games to 2

NLCS: Cubs over Phillies, 4 games to 2 (cue the pandemonium)

World Series: Red Sox over Cubs, 4 games to 2 (cue new reason for Cubs curse. Early favorites are UFOs, Jim Belushi, or the Black Mamba.)


Predictions for the 2009 MLB Season: AL Edition

Just some quick thoughts before I get into the meat of today's post …

… if you haven't yet clicked on the songs on the right side of the page, do yourself a favor and do so now while reading. I highly recommend "Grounds for Divorce" by Elbow. It's a toast to a dead friend known as the "seldom-seen kid," but there's nothing sad about this one; it's a tight, grinding, drinking song with great lyrics:

"Mondays is for drinking to the seldom-seen kid;

I've been working on a cocktail called Grounds for Divorce"

If, at the 1:15 mark, you are not properly fired up when the power chords take over, drive immediately to your closest hospital's Emergency Room because you are dead inside.

… I admit that I like to gamble, but I don't like risking my hard-earned (Ed. note. hardly-earned) money. So I take utmost pleasure in ESPN's Streak for the Cash and CentSports.com. Recently, my streak on ESPN reached nine wins and I was practically hyperventilating at making my next pick, which took me three full days. I lost, of course, and thus began a five-game losing streak. CentSports is even better – through the magic of advertisers, the administrators of CentSports give you a dime to begin betting. If you win, continue placing bets at your leisure. You can cash out after you reach $10.00. If you happen to lose all your winnings at any point, they give you another dime. Completely risk-free! What could be better?

… reader Phil* recently asked me how I think the Dodgers will do this year. I'll do you one better, Phil - I'll make predictions for all teams and postseason awards! If anyone has ever done this on the world wide internets before, I'm unaware of it and frankly, surprised. Upon further review, however, this post is looking too long, so expect the NL later in the week.

*Name changed for privacy reasons. Or just pick any reason. I don't really care either way.

AL East W L

  1. Boston Red Sox 97 65
  2. New York Yankees 94 68
  3. Tampa Bay Rays 89 73
  4. Toronto Blue Jays 74 88
  5. Baltimore Orioles 70 92

AL Central W L

  1. Minnesota Twins 88 74
  2. Cleveland Indians 87 75
  3. Detroit Tigers 78 84
  4. Kansas City Royals 76 86
  5. Chicago White Sox 71 91

AL West W L

  1. Anaheim Angels 86 76
  2. Oakland A's 84 78
  3. Texas Rangers 74 88
  4. Seattle Mariners 66 96

AL MVP: Grady Sizemore

AL Cy Young: Josh Beckett

AL Rookie of the Year: Matt Wieters

AL Manager of the Year: Terry Francona

AL Notes: The Red Sox rotation goes eight-deep, which is a recipe for success … a delicious recipe … although Brad Penny and John Smoltz should each count as only one-half each … but Kevin Youkilis will come close to winning the MVP … as will Miguel Cabrera … personally, I can't wait for some Hank Steinbrenner sound bites this fall … welcome to the era of 89 wins being a disappointment in Tampa … the Blue Jays may have the worst offense in baseball … yes, I am including the Pirates … and the Astros … anyone picking someone other than Matt Wieters to win the AL Rookie of the Year just likes to play devil's advocate … and should be punched in the teeth accordingly … Cleveland is garnering too much love for my tastes … which we've already established includes delicious recipes of deep starting rotations … of which the Indians have none … and why I'm riding Ron Gardenhire, the Twins and their young strike-throwers … the Royals will be recognized on Baseball Tonight at some point this season … honestly, I don't know what to expect from El Tigres … other than trading Miguel Cabrera to Boston at the deadline … I am not looking forward to anything Ozzie Guillen has to say after the White Sox start off 6-18 … but mainly because the sound of his voice gives me cramps … look for Nick Adenhart to have a successful rookie season in Anaheim … but mark my words, the California Anaheim Angels of Los Angeles are on their way down … will Billy Beane and the A's trade Matt Holliday for a boatload of Cuban prospects at the trade deadline … why are you asking me … how the fuck am I supposed to know? … for all you fantasy nerds out there, beware Chris Davis's obscene strikeout totals in Texas … but enjoy the immense power anyway … my god, the Mariners are an absolute mess, aren't they?

Stay tuned for Part Two: The NL Edition later in the week, and as always, thanks for coming and suckling Daddy's Sugar Ball.