Elon-ECU baseball tickets — with winner

I have a set of two tickets to today’s Elon-East Carolina University baseball game and they’re yours for the asking. Well, at least if you get in your request before 2 p.m., which is when I’ll draw for them.

The game begins at 6 p.m. today and you’ll need to come by The Free Press office at 2103 N. Queen Street in Kinston before 5:30 p.m. to grab ‘em.

Send me an e-mail to bhanks@freedomenc.com with “Tickets” in the subject line and a phone number to call you back at.

UPDATE 3:45 P.M.: Congratulations to Clifton Rouse, who won the tickets. Clifton, come by the office and pick up your tix.

Morning News Report; March 31, 2009

OBAMA ANNOUNCES NEW AUTO PLAN; STOCKS DROP AGAIN

President Obama gave General Motors 60 days and Chrysler 30 days to turn around their businesses yesterday. If they don’t, they will probably be forced to declare bankruptcy.

Obama also relieved the GM head of his position.

With the moves, the stock market plunged again, this time more than 254 points to 7522.

My take: Why not just go ahead and let GM and Chrysler fail? Yes, it would hurt for a time, but what’s going to hurt worse is the fact that we — you and I, the taxpayers — are going to be paying for their continued bailouts for generations to come.

This is getting ridiculous. We are a free-market government. Businesses come and go — they fail.

How long before the government has its hands in every aspect of business?

CALIPARI APPEARS HEADED TO UK

Various sources are reporting that John Calipari will, indeed, leave Memphis for Kentucky.

My take: Why not? It’s a virtual certainty that he will almost double his $2.3 million salary, plus he’ll be in the basketball-crazy Bluegrass State. The fact that he could stick it to Rick Pitino — evidently, they’re not the best of friends – is just icing on the cake.

And that No. 1 recruiting class he had coming to Memphis? It appears he can bring them to Lexington, too.

A no-brainer.

VIRGINIA GETS ITS MAN

In other coaching news, the God-fearing, flag-waving Cavahoos of Virginia got the next great coach (wait, didn’t we hear that about Dave Leitao?) in Washington State’s Tony Bennett.

My take: Of course, being a Virginia apologist, I wish the guy luck. He has the ACC’s Freshman of the Year, a sparkling new arena and his team plays in the best league in America (OK, maybe not this year, but historically).

But this is what makes me know I’m getting old — he’s 39, a year younger than me. Geez. I even remember him as a Charlotte Hornet.

Let’s see what someone with no East Coast connections can do in the ACC.

The iPod shuffle

Yo! Bum Rush The Show — Public Enemy

Ante Up (Robbing Hoodz Theory) — M.O.P.

That Smell — Lynyrd Skynyrd

Da Da Da — Trio

Ain’t Going Down (Til The Sun Comes Up) — Garth Brooks

Bethel Christian Academy’s Michael and Sarai Fulcher resign

Bethel Christian Academy principal/head boys’ basketball coach Michael Fulcher resigned his position on March 18 for personal reasons. His wife and girls’ basketball coach, Sarai, also resigned.

I have a story about the resignations in tomorrow’s Free Press.

My take: There are few people I think more highly-of than the Fulchers. I met them while they were coaching at Mt. Calvary and in the five years I’ve known them, I’ve found them to be great parents, Christians, coaches and educators. Sarai was the Free Press girls’ coach of the year in 2005, while Michael earned the same honor in 2006 after he led MCCA to a state championship.

Good luck, Michael and Sarai, in your future.

Hanks Blog Pick ‘em leaders

Here are the top 10 leaders in the Hanks Blog Pick ‘em contest:

Person/LW/score                Correct  Best Score  Best correct

1. Kelly Rouse (T10) — 86              45             116                   47

2. Darren Becton (T7) — 84           46              114                  48

3. Justin Hill (T10) — 83                 46              125                 49

4. Casey Oliver (T7) — 81               47                81                  47

5. Bryan Ward (NR) — 79               44              121                  47

5. Cameron Beaman (T3) — 79      46                79                  46

5. Jason Wade (T3) — 79                 45              109                 47

5. Michael Goff (NR) — 79               45              121                  48

9. B.J. Davis (2) — 78                       47               108                 49

10. Ryan Herman (T10) — 77         44              119                  47

My takes: We have 32 participants in the contest; for the complete standings, go here.

Our defending champion, Cameron Beaman, won’t win this year; although he’s in a tie for fifth this week, he didn’t pick any of the Final 4 and he’s done.

Who’s in last? Our good friend and ace reporter, Chris Lavender, who has 45 points and 33 correct. He only had two of the Elite Eight and none of the Final 4.

But I’m not making fun of him, though — I am tied with Patrick Williford for 30th place, or, next to last. Since I picked UNC to win the national title, though, I could conceivably climb almost into the top 10 before all is said and done.

Of the 32 of us, 17 picked Carolina, 8 picked Pittsburgh, 3 picked Louisville, 2 picked Memphis, 1 picked Connecticut and 1 picked Missouri.

Morning News Report; March 30, 2009

MAN KILLS EIGHT AT CARTHAGE NURSING HOME

A man killed eight people at a Carthage nursing home yesterday; they suspect his motive might’ve been that his wife worked there.

My take: Another senseless massacre, but one that could be avoided if better security measures were in place at the facility.

UNC IN FINAL FOUR … AGAIN

North Carolina bounced Oklahoma yesterday, 72-60, to advance to the school’s second-straight Final Four and a record 18th in school history.

My take: Ty Lawson was, again, amazing. He has proven to me that he is the best player — not just in the ACC — but in the nation.

On the other hand, Tyler Hansbrough continues to sink in the national discussion. He was pretty much the consensus national player of the year last season, but he was dismantled by Blake Griffin yesterday. Hansbrough was lucky to be a top-10 pick last year if he’d come out for the NBA draft; now, I think he’s questionable as a first-rounder.

He’ll always have his national championship ring and quality UNC education to fall back on, though, right?

HEIGL WANTS TO STAY ON ‘GREY’S ANATOMY’

Katherine Heigl, who plays Dr. Izzy Stevens on “Grey’s Anatomy”, doesn’t want to leave the hit ABC drama.

My take: The rumors were rampant that she was going to leave on her own accord to pursue more movie roles, but I guess she’s seen what’s happened to other actors and actresses who’ve left hit shows (Shelly Long from “Cheers”, David Caruso from “NYPD Blue”, McLean Stevenson from “M*A*S*H”) and bombed at the theaters.

And yes, I unapologetically watch “Grey’s” — and have been blown away the past three weeks. Is Izzy going to live? Is Christina going to really leave the red-headed doctor after finally sleeping with him? Is George leaving the series for good? Can Meredith and Derek find true happiness together?

Wow.

To save myself, a gratuitous shot of Heigl:

033009-katherine-heigl.jpg

The iPod shuffle

My Generation — The Who

Down Under — Men At Work

If God Will Send His Angels — U2

Look Away — Chicago

Stuck In A Moment You Can’t Get Out of It — U2

2008-09 All-Free Press basketball teams released

Sports Editor Ryan Herman has released the 2008-09 All-Free Press basketball teams at our sister site, freepresspreps.com.

The boys’ player of the year is Reggie Bullock of Kinston.

The girls’ player of the year is Shaquita Jones of South Lenoir.

The boys’ coach of the year is Jimmy Smith of South Lenoir.

Click on the above links for Ryan’s stories about the major winners and go here for the first and second teams.

My take: Bullock and Jones (despite her team’s 5-20 record) were locks for the awards. And what Ol’ Jimmy did at South Lenoir this year was a near-miracle — taking a team that returned less than 20 points for the whole season, winning 10 games and going to the playoffs.

Overall, a good job by the youngster in picking the teams.

Morning News Report; March 27, 2009

HOT TEA, COFFEE CAN LEAD TO CANCER

A study has shown that drinking your tea or coffee too hot could lead to esophageal cancer.

My take: Well, then, let it cool off before you drink it!

Duh!

WOMAN CHARGED WITH DWI THREE TIMES IN THREE DAYS

A Washington woman was charged with drunk driving three times in a three-day period while she was on vacation in Wisconsin. She will now serve 30 days in jail.

My take: Another duh story, but with this caveat — how the heck does she still have her license? You have to figure that the third time is the charm — you get caught driving drunk three times in three days, you lose your license for life.

DUKE HAS BUTT HANDED TO IT IN 23-POINT LOSS

As Tony Reali would say on my favorite ESPN show, “Around The Horn” — so THAT happened. The Blue Devils led early, 5-0, but an 11-0 run by Villanova led to a 77-54 Wildcats win.

My take: Wow — that was awful (well, depending on your point of view). For a team that lives and dies by the 3-pointer, the Devils died an ugly death last night.

It’s this simple: Duke needs an inside presence. Until Coach K gets a legitimate one (no, Brian Zoubek doesn’t count), the Blue Devils are not going to be one of the nation’s best teams.

The iPod shuffle

U Can’t Touch This — MC Hammer

Do You Really Want To Hurt Me? — Culture Club

Roxanne — The Police

Dumb Girl — Run DMC

Revolution — The Beatles

Warrant for Dontresz Lashaoun Hill recalled

From the Kinston Department of Public Safety:

Upon further investigation and due to new facts in the case, the warrant for the arrest of Dontresz Lashaoun Hill is being recalled.

Dontresz Hill is still a person of interest in the shooting of 15-year-old Marvin Earl Shackleford. That is all the information we can release at this point in time.

My take: An interesting twist to this case, nonetheless, from this morning. Our crime reporter, Justin Schoenberger, has been in the neighborhood where the shooting took place all afternoon. He will have some exclusive interviews for this story the TV stations will be stealing for their morning “news” reports tomorrow.

As always — read it in The Free Press first, then watch the TV stations read our work on their telecasts later.

Streak for the Cash update; March 26, 2009

With only five days remaining in the March portion of the ESPN Streak for the Cash contest, here’s your local update.

As players in the contest are aware, they are going to reset the contest on April 1 — so get in all the picks you can before then. It’ll also reset the contest for us on that date, too, so if you’ve not entered but wanted to — April 1 is your chance to begin anew.

We’re up to 42 players in our game. Don’t forget that the March winner will receive a somewhat-valuable prize from The Free Press prize closet.

Longest current winning streak:

G. Melvin — 6

D. Meadows — 3

F. Jones — 3

B. Pelletier — 3

S. Jones (Bealest) — 3

Longest winning streak (since Dec. 31):

F. Jones — 11

D. Pollock — 11

D. Becton — 10

W. Willis — 9

S. Jones (Coaltrain) — 8

P. Howard — 7

M. Jones — 7

B. Pelletier — 7

12 tied with 6

Most wins in March:

B. Pelletier — 51

F. Jones — 50

J. Irvin — 43

D. Becton — 36

L. Malpass — 34

B. Hanks — 33

D. Jones — 33

A. Gridley — 28

W. Willis — 28

S. Jones (Bealest) — 24

Most total wins (since Dec. 31):

F. Jones — 121

B. Pelletier — 117

D. Jones — 114

B. Hanks — 97

J. Irvin — 83

L. Walker — 81

D. Becton — 78

S. Jones (Coaltrain) — 77

S. Jones (Bealest) — 75

M. Jones — 74

Best winning percentage (min. 30 games played):

S. Moye — .647 (22-12-0) 

W. Willis — .594 (41-28-5) 

M. Jones –  .583 (74-53-3)

D. Meadows — .571 (32-24-1)

F. Jones — .553 (121-98-8)

C. Phillips — .548 (23-19-4)

C. Oliver — .540 (34-29-1)

D. Becton — .527 (78-70-3)

B. Pelletier — .525 (117-106-8)

D. Pollock — .522 (59-54-3)

Most games played

D. Jones — 239 

B. Pelletier — 231 

F. Jones — 227

B. Hanks — 198

L. Walker — 184

J. Irvin — 183

S. Jones (Bealest) — 159

S. Jones (Coaltrain) — 157

D. Becton — 151

L. Malpass — 140

Longest current losing streaks

C. Casey — 4

P. Howard — 4

C. Barnes — 3

D. Lawson — 3

Catching up with … Brandon Rouse

Former South Lenoir and Lenoir Community College star Brandon Rouse is tearing it up for the 20-9-1 (you can have a tie in baseball?!?!?) Pfeiffer University Falcons. Rouse, who is playing first base, is the team’s leader in batting average (.408), slugging percentage (.592), on-base percentage (.492) and triples (3).

Here’s ol’ Bobo in his Falcons uniform:

032609-b-rouse.jpg

Congrats, Brandon! Continue to make Lenoir County proud!