I'll keep this short since I'm sure most of you are here to read about the Bollmeyer-Eslick Pop-A-Shot Showdown or the debut of this year's Popcorn Power Rankings. But an incredibly fun Survivor Series last night from WWE.
I hope WWE continues to take a cue from last night and makes their PPVs feel like a separate event from their regular television programming. Due to the RAW vs. SmackDown format last night, Survivor Series felt like it's own separate event and not just a continuation of WWE programming that many of their PPVs feel like when watching. This felt different, this felt special. Weeks long of build that culminated at this event and then we will move on to something new tonight. Too many times WWE PPVs feel like a longer RAW or SmackDown with less commercials. This felt like its own entity, which was great.
Now I do wish there were some stakes attached to the RAW vs SmackDown concept, other than "brand supremecy". I feel like that was the fatal flaw of the night that they were wrestling each other but ultimately, nothing was on the line. Maybe if the winner got the main event slot at WrestleMania or a couple roster call-ups from NXT tomorrow then it could have felt bigger. But its wrestling, I can suspend my disbelief while watching...that's part of the deal. But to throw a couple dream matches together (AJ/Brock, Charlotte/Bliss, Sheild/New Day) without having some real build to them and not having real stakes on the line was a little disheartening. But still really fun.
High School Basketball Season is officially here.
Which means we can finally start getting some names and schools down on the 2017-2018 Popcorn Power Rankings. After a sparkling postseason debut in 2017, I'm excited to get a full season of Popcorn Power Rankings this season.
I'll get the popcorn at each school I go to this year and rank their popcorn accordingly to give you a sense of where the best popcorn at high school gymnasiums across Central Iowa is located. Rankings will be determined by taste, price, and overall presentation. That's right West Central Valley and your $2 popcorn, price is important.
If you have any recommendations of schools with outstanding popcorn, send them my way and I'll try my best to get there this year. I'll be primarily stationed in the Heart of Iowa Conference this year while I lead my North Polk freshmen girls through the season but I'm up for some roadtrips if it means finding some quality popcorn.
So the first stop on the Popcorn Tour, so consequently the top spot on the Power Rankings for now, was Newton High School
POPCORN POWER RANKINGS
Good news Newton: You are currently sitting at the top of the Popcorn Power Rankings.
Bad news Newton: I'm not sure how long you'll be there.
Not a bad popcorn by any means but for $1.50 I not more than "not bad". Not overly fresh and not nearly enough butter. It did come in one of those old fashioned, red boxes that you used to see. You don't see them as much any more so that was a nice touch. But for $1.50 it felt like I was paying an extra 50 cents for the box, not the better popcorn. Readers of last year's Popcorn Power Rankings know that if you are charging more than $1 for your popcorn you better be bringing something big to the table. Not sure that was the case in Newton.
So a good effort. A solid popcorn. But hard to envision Newton ending the year in the #1 spot.
"What if I told you, that the glory days could be relived in the back of Pizza Ranch arcade room?"
Now while I don't think ESPN will actually put out a "30 For 30" on yesterday's impromptu Pop-A-Shot showdown, if it they I'm sure that would be the lead in.
Sometimes you don't have to try to find magic, the magic just finds you.
Mitch Eslick and Alex Bollmeyer weren't looking to put on a show on Sunday when they walked into that Ankeny Pizza Ranch. They were looking to celebrate Grandma Helen's 89th Birthday, eat an unhealthy amount of pizza and cactus bread, and break down the current tailspin of the Iowa football program. At least that was my plan going into the day, I'm not sure about Mitch. Luckily for me, my wife took care of all the Hawkeye trolling and allowed me to focus on the Grandma Helen and the cactus bread.
But then two $1 bills were pulled from Uncle Gary's pocket and the stage was set.
"Mitch, Alex....you two, one game of Pop-A-Shot."
And just like that, a showdown was a foot.
Some details had to be taken care of first. Primarily, kicking two 4 or 5 year olds off the machine and sending them somewhere else in the arcade. One kid thought it was only a quarter to play and couldn't figure out why the balls weren't coming. So we booted him to the Skee-ball machine, picked our sides, put our money in, and waited for those flat Spalding balls to roll down the ramp.
And just like that, the Bollmeyer-Eslick basketball rivalry was renewed. It had been over 20 years since we have faced off against one another in the basketball arena. Not since my 6th grade basketball team took Eslick's 4th grade team to the woodshed in the Southeast Webster gym had our paths crossed. Mitch played his high school ball in the CIML and I played mine in the slightly smaller, but equally competitive, North Star Conference. I took the JuCo route for basketball after high school and Mitch went the NAIA route. Even now as coaches, Mitch is a part of the IAHSAA and I'm a part of the IGHSAU. Like Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan. Two great icons of their sport who never crossed paths in their primes.
But on that Pop-A-Shot machine on in Ankeny, on a Sunday afternoon in 2017, the world would get a glimpse of what could have been.
The perfect spot for these two athletes. In front of basketball hoops with an endless supply of basketball at their disposal. It was almost like this Pop-A-Shot game was made for these two knock-down shooters who never saw a pass they would like to make. For two basketball players who in their day, if you had called them "defensively challenged" it would have probably been considered generous.
I'll save you most of the details for the first 2 1/2 rounds and let you go straight to the final 20-30 seconds, because that's where heroes are made. I'll just say that Mitch was leading after the first minute. Both of us thought the game was only one round and were not mentally, and definitely not physically, ready for Round 2. Cardio was not on full display after Round 1 and after a pizza count in the double digits from thirty minutes prior, again at least on my end. The Health/PE teacher can speak from himself on his pizza intake. But I was able to bounce back and take a slight lead heading into the final round, Round 3....largely in part to my waving Defender hand being broken and not deflecting any of my shots like they were on Eslick's end of the court.
So that takes us to here and some grainy cell phone footage from Aunt Jackie's phone. We weren't able to get any footage to the public for that historic Dream Team scrimmage from Monte Carlo in 1992. We were lucky enough to get footage from this historic event though.
The crowd was gathered. The balls were flying. The nets were burning. Here's how it played out:
I'm not going to sit here and make excuses. Sometimes the better man wins.
And sometimes the slightly less better man catches on fire and pulls the upset. I won't say which situation occurred here yesterday but I will say after taking breaking down that game film multiple times and looking at the stats I would be shocked if this story wasn't told on the Moonlight Graham Show in the near future.
By my count, the first score I could see on that video was Bollmeyer 200 - Eslick 191. From that point forward, Mitch went 19 of 23 from the field.
NINETEEN OF TWENTY-THREE!!!!!
That's over 82 percent. At the end of the game. With the lights shining and money on the table during Winning Time, Mitch stepped up. That's a big time performance there from Eslick. I have only seen him get that hot twice in my life. The first time was in a Mason City gym in the Substate Finals and taking his team to state by going roughly 32 of 33 from the free throw line. I'm not sure if those stats are accurate but I guarantee they are close. The second time was in a Drake University fieldhouse gym for the Iowa Games when Mitch put up 40 on a UNI Panthers team. They ultimately beat us but Mitch was the best player on the floor. Part of that was due to Eric Coleman, their best player, getting ejected from the tournament in a previous game for dunking too often. But regardless, with D1 players on the court it was the soon-to-be Wartburg freshman that was putting on a show. I'm not sure if John Little ever recovered from the workout Eslick gave him that day.
And Mitch got back to that zone yesterday in the Pizza Ranch arcade room. He dominated the Pop-A-Shot, I dominated the buffet line. But it's not like I'm hanging my head today. After breaking down that film, after my 200-191 lead I still shot 14-22. That's over 60%. On most days, that's good enough to win.
But legends are born on "most days". This was a day that will live in infamy and be talked about for years at future Miller Family functions.