Monday, March 31, 2008

Opening Day

It may not have seemed like it for most of the last decade or so, but, Cincinnati is definitely a baseball town. Nothing speaks more to this point than Opening Day. Indeed, the first game of the season in professional baseball's first city is more like a holiday than anything else. Ceremony, parades, pep rallies, and Skyline Chili truly make it a unique event. As I sit here I can hear the sirens and marching bands (yes, I should be working, but, I would not be human if I did not take a moment to embrace one of the things that makes this city great). All of this allows us to maintain an important piece of Downtown tradition, even when everything else is changing. If you live in the area and have never been to Opening Day--you're missing out. For those of you who live outside the Greater Cincinnati area it is certainly worth the trip. It's baseball time in the Queen City. Spring is here. Play ball!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Baby News!

Yes, that's right! Tasha and I are expecting a little tacito! We're a little over 12 weeks along, with an October 14, 2008 due date. Other than a lot of fatigue, occasional nausea, and tight pants, Tasha is doing fantastic. Baby is doing great as well. Today Tasha had her second doctor's visit and heard the baby's strong heartbeat for the first time.

We're extremely excited, and are looking forward to opening this next chapter of our lives with all of you.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Can You Believe This?!

In what has already been a highly unusual year for the Kentucky Wildcats, fate has thrown yet another curve-ball; a tornado ripped through downtown Atlanta just moments before the Cats were to take the floor for their quarterfinal Southeastern Conference Tournament game against Georgia. Consequently, in order for Kentucky (or Georgia) to win the SEC Tournament, it must play three games in approximately 29 hours.

In the event the Cats are able to overcome the Dawgs (which in and of itself will be a tall order given that this will be the third time these teams match-up this season--see UK/LSU '85/'86), Kentucky will play its conference semi-final game less than six hours later against a much more rested Mississippi State team. Then, presuming the Cats pull-off the unlikely and get past this other set of Bulldogs, they will take on another rested and quality opponent in either 4th ranked Tennessee or Arkansas. I should also add that all of this year's prior games between Kentucky and these schools have been extremely close.

Admittedly, beating Georgia and getting bounced by Mississippi State, Tennessee, or Arkansas might do the Cats some good, as it could very well result in a 11 or 12 seed in this year's NCAA Tournament. This, in turn, probably gives the Cats the best shot at advancing to the Sweet 16 (which would be comparable to a Final Four run for this squad), as it would obviate a second round game against a #1 seed. That being said, I would really enjoy seeing the Cats hoist the SEC Conference Tourney trophy this year in light of all they've overcome, and because they split this season with regular season champ (and possible #1 seed) Tennessee. Unfortunately, I don't see that happening, and, I blame the prejudice to be incurred by Georgia or Kentucky (and to some extent MSU, UT, and Arkansas) on both the SEC and the NCAA.

Considering the size of the SEC, its tournament should have started on Wednesday along with the other major conference tournaments (Taco Salad has been preaching this point for years). Had this occurred, enough time would have been built in to deal with this unexpected event, thereby giving each team a legitimate shot at the conference title--which is all the more imporant as both the SEC and the NCAA consider the SEC Tournament Champion to be the league champion.

Further, the NCAA has done virtually nothing to help alleviate the situation. Instead of working with the SEC and its teams to come to a reasonable solution, it has firmly insisted that all tournament games must be completed by Sunday. God forbid the NCAA and CBS are inconvenienced by pushing things back a day (or utilizing some other reasonable alternative).

The reality is that all four remaining teams have a lot riding on the SEC Tournament: (1) each team hopes to be and deserves a shot at the conference championship; (2) Georgia must win the championship to get into the NCAA Tournament; (3) both Kentucky and Arkansas need good runs to solidify spots at the Big Dance (winning the whole thing might even get Kentucky to a #6 or #7 seed which would also prevent a second round game with a #1 seed); and (4) UT and MSU are jockying for seeding. In fact, the end result of the SEC Tournament will likely impact whether the Vols are a #1 or #2 seed.

Surely, the importance of this tournament to all of these teams warrants giving things a little more thought.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Blizzard of '08

Where's Waldo? Where's Tasha?

Cumberland Circle draped in snow.

Simon Taylor (5 yrs. old) having some winter fun.

Didn't anyone tell Alexander Taylor (2 yrs. old) to not eat yellow snow?

Guiness takes it all in while Ian makes a snow ball (which hit Simon).

Dexter and Mommy take a nap.

Dexter and Daddy take a nap.

Dexter and Brian posing for the camera.

Over the weekend the Northern Kentucky/Greater Cincinnati area was hit with over a foot of snow. The winter storm allowed the folks on Cumberland Circle to have some fun and get much needed R&R.


On Wednesday (March 12th) my little nephew Sawyer turns the big 01. He likes to party, so his mommy and daddy (Chad and Mandee Riddell) threw him a fiesta. Here are some pics from the big event.

A Case for the Cats

With today's win against Florida (ending a seven game losing streak to the Gators), the Kentucky Wildcats all but slammed the door shut on any doubts that they belong among those getting fitted this week for dancing shoes. Barring a disaster in their quarterfinal game at next weekend's SEC Tournament, the only question that should remain, when it's all said and done, is whether Kentucky's resume warrants a 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, or 12th seed (personally, Taco Salad and many of his colleagues believe that a 12 seed gives the Cats the best shot at making the Sweet 16).

In that regard, it's time to stop talking about the losses to Gardner-Webb and San Diego. Those losses were not "crippling" as many basketball pundits claim. What is more, those losses were sustained by a completely different Kentucky team--a team adjusting to a new coach (and therefore a new system); a team full of young bit players learning how to become relevant every-day difference makers; and, a team coping with a litany of injuries.

Keep in mind that the Selection Committee doles out at-large bids based on who is playing the best basketball now--not who played the best basketball in November and December. According to this standard, Kentucky certainly should have its name called next Sunday. Indeed, the numbers show as much: (1) 12-4 in SEC play (putting them 2nd in the SEC East and two games ahead of 3rd place Vanderbilt; (2) winners of 11 of their last 13 games; and (3) victories over #4 Tennesse and #16 Vanderbilt. Kentucky has also demonstrated they can play with the nation's best, showing tremendous meddle in tough losses to #1 UNC and former #1 Tennessee.

Further, the February Vanderbilt loss is a non-issue. Many great teams have struggled mightily in Memorial Gym (see #1 Tennessee's loss at Vanderbilit this year, as well as several losses by #1 ranked Kentucky teams). Moreover, the last time I checked, Vandy had won 32 of its last 33 on that floor.

The fact is, Kentucky is a much better team than the team that stumbled out of the gate to a 7-9 start. Those "bit players" have learned how to play, and more importantly, they now know how to play together (just see the performances put in today by Stevenson, Stewart and Harris). Even without Patrick Patterson this team is playing Top 50 basketball. It's time to put the debate to rest: Kentucky IS a 2008 NCAA Tournament Team.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Sawyer v. The White Death

Looking strikingly similar to Randy from "A Christmas Story", my nephew Sawyer (who turns 1 on March 12th and is the son of Chad and Mandee Riddell) prepares to take on the biggest snow storm of 2007-2008 in the Northern Kentucky/Greater Cincinnati area.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

I Remember California

Last week I had the pleasure of going to one of my favorite places (Los Angeles) to experience two of my favorite things: (1) cycling, and (2) my baby niece Sophie.

My dad, brother Brad (a long-time cyclist), and I were joined by a few of Brad's cycling cohorts (Jan, Atila, and Mark) to form Team Riddell's Markets. Together we rode the 2008 Acura LA Bike Tour in approximately one hour and 26 minutes. The ride was extra-special as we rode in honor of my late grandmother and grandfather (Libby and Lewis) who owned a series of grocery stores throughout Northern Kentucky in the 40's and 50's. I've done lots of rides, and several tours, but none of those compared to riding with my dad and Brad through downtown LA, past the Staples Center, and around the LA Memorial Coliseum. The rest of the weekend was spent relaxing, taking in some of my favorite restaurants, visiting with friends, and getting as much of Sophie as I could.

Thank you Brad and Tina for another great time. You are wonderful hosts and always go out of your way to make visits to LA comfortable and entertaining.

Van Halen Tour Kaput . . . For Now.

As most Van Halen fans know by now, tonight's Cincinnati show is cancelled (an April 2008 make-up date has been tentatively set). The "band's people" are reporting that Eddie is fighting an undiagnosed illness. Speculation among fans and the media is that infighting between Diamond Dave and the boys has once again reached a boiling point.

Of course, as a fan, I am uber-excited about the possibility of re-living 1984 for at least one night, and would naturally be disappointed if I miss out on seeing this incarnation of VH (I saw Van Hagar in 2004)--for whatever reason. However, I'd be even more disappointed, and greatly saddened, if we learn that the life (or quality of life) of one of the top guitar players of all time is at serious risk. Here's hoping it's just very different personalities butting heads and nothing more.

Welcome Charles Ryan Richards

Taco Salad would like to welcome into the world Charles Ryan Richards. He arrived on February 18, 2008 at noon (right in time for lunch). The tail of the tape reads: Height: 20 inches; Weight: 6 pounds, 7.9 ounces. Labor and delivery went very well, and both mommy and baby are doing great. Congratulations to his mommy and daddy (Chase and Samantha) and his two big sisters (Audrey and Ella).

Monday, March 3, 2008

A Zesty Blend of Just About Everything

Life gets busy. People move, change jobs, start families, etc. Consequently, it becomes increasingly difficult for friends and families to stay in touch. To overcome this obstacle I've created Taco Salad.

It is my hope that this "blog" will allow Tasha and I to share our experiences and ideas with you. Likewise, I hope you will utilize Taco Salad to share your ideas and experiences with us. Feel free to comment on posts, suggest posts, or simply drop in to let us know what's been going on with you.

Let's get started!