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This isn’t how I should have been spending the last 27 minutes of my life, but it’s how I was spending the last 27 minutes of my life. (Related.)

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The statement.

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I miss Dave already, but these two would make adequate replacements. #TheLateShowWithTheLeitches

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Central and Southern Illinois look right to me. (via WSJ.)

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Baseball is here! FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE FINALLY.

Continuing my yearly tradition — except for last year, when I forgot to do them — here are my predictions.
 

AMERICAN LEAGUE
East
1. Tampa Bay Rays
2. Boston Red Sox — wildcard
3. Baltimore Orioles
4. New York Yankees
5. Toronto Blue Jays

Central
1. Detroit Tigers
2. Kansas City Royals — wildcard
3. Cleveland Indians
4. Chicago White Sox
5. Minnesota Twins

West
1. Texas Rangers
2. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
3. Oakland A’s
4. Seattle Mariners
5. Houston Astros

Playoffs
WC: Boston over Kansas City
ALDS: Boston over Tampa Bay, Texas over Detroit
ALCS: Boston over Texas

NATIONAL LEAGUE
East

1. Washington Nationals
2. Atlanta Braves
3. New York Mets
4. Miami Marlins
5. Philadelphia Phillies

Central
1. St. Louis Cardinals
2. Cincinnati Reds — wildcard
3. Milwaukee Brewers — wildcard
4. Pittsburgh Pirates
5. Chicago Cubs

West
1. Los Angeles Dodgers
2. San Diego Padres
3. San Francisco Giants
4. Arizona Diamondbacks
5. Colorado Rockies

Playoffs
WC: Milwaukee over Cincinnati
NLDS: St. Louis over Milwaukee, Washington over Los Angeles
NLCS: St. Louis over Washington
World Series: St. Louis over Boston

Yeah: Expectations sorta high for me this year.

Enjoy the season, fellow humans.

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mlb:

Mine mine mine.

He shouldn’t have rewarded this kid.

mlb:

Mine mine mine.

He shouldn’t have rewarded this kid.

Source: mlb
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I have put together a bracket contest for the NCAA Tournament. It costs nothing and first place wins … a column from me. I will personally write a column about whatever you want. You can assign me any topic, from Yale hockey to Nigerian topography to your parents’ first date to the history of Prince’s pants. I will write it for you. And I will hand deliver it to you. (Eventually.) So join! And win! 

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Grierson did his “preferential ballot,” so I should probably do mine. If I were an AMPAS member, here’s how I would have filled out my Best Picture ballot.

1. Twelve Years a Slave
2. Captain Phillips
3. Her
4. The Wolf of Wall Street
5. Gravity
6. Philomena
7. Nebraska
8. Dallas Buyers Club

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Going to Sochi was a monumental pain. I was away from my family for almost a full month, I got felt up by strangers at least eight times a day and the food was terrible. It was also one of the most fulfilling professional experiences of my career, and I was damn lucky to have the opportunity. I went to every sporting venue and wrote every day. Here are all my pieces:

Day 1: Reflecting on how the only way these Games could be judged was how safe they were.
Day 2: Hanging outside the opening ceremonies and posing for pictures with scary armed security people.
Day 3: Enjoying being there in person for Sage Kotsenburg’s Gold Medal.
Day 4: Wondering why anyone would ever want to watch skiing in person.
Day 5: Spending 14 full hours watching curling.
Day 6: Chronicling the fall of Shaun White.
Day 7: Lamenting Shani Davis’ solitary misery.
Day 8: Feeling bad for those poor Slovakians as the U.S. men’s hockey team knocked them around.
Day 9: Figuring out what they’re going to do with all these venues when the Games were over.
Day 10: Loving that I got to watch USA-Russia hockey in person.
Day 11: Finding the Slovenian hockey team downright charming.
Day 12: Marveling at how much different finishing third at the Olympics is than finishing four. (And how not that different it is from finishing first.)
Day 13: Coughing, along with everyone else at the Olympics who inevitably gets sick in the second week.
Day 14: Skewering those in charge of U.S. Bobsled for putting Lolo Jones on the team.
Day 15
: Being blown away by figure skating. (This might have been my favorite piece.)
Day 16: Grousing about the bored, listless U.S. men’s hockey loss to Canada.
Day 17: Ranking every single Winter Olympic venue/sport.
Day 18: Wrapping it all up by questioning what’s going to happen with Sochi, now that everyone has gone home.

It was a wonderful experience. That said, I’m very pleased to get to eat a cheeseburger now, and pizza that doesn’t have hot dogs and herring on it.

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I’m finally back from Sochi. Here’s a video we made while I was there.

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I’ve now been in Sochi for a week. I’ve been writing a lot. Here are all my stories.

Day One: On Russian security and what it means to feel safe at these Games.
Day Two: From right outside the opening ceremonies.
Day Three: Watching Sage Kotsenburg win a Gold Medal, and understanding failure.
Day Four: On why watching skiing in person isn’t much different than watching it on television.
Day Five: A celebration of the goofy brilliance of curling.
Day Six: On Shaun White, the end.

I’m having a lot of fun but maybe a little exhausted? Figure skating tonight!

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Perfectly executed Comedy Pyramid.

(Also: My flight to Sochi leaves in five hours. Here goes!)

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Not sure there’s anything on the Web better right now than Jon Bois’ Breaking Madden series.

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Actually one of the nicer emails.