The Viva La Stool account has been posting a bunch of old videos lately to keep everyone entertained during this quarantine (shout out to Josh doing a great job). Saturday he posted the highlight video from the magical 2018 March Madness run that truly changed my life. Since there’s no actual March Madness this year and we have really nothing else to talk about, I decided to take a trip down memory lane and reflect on the events of that crazy run, with some behind-the-scenes stuff along the way. But first, let me set the stage with the day that really set it all in motion.
November 20th, 2017 Rundown
Up until this point, I was just known as Alarmingly Stupid for my Rundown fact-checking mishaps, inability to buy Pistachios, and other dumb incidents. I loved interning at Barstool, but I was in my senior year and at a point where I needed to start thinking about what would happen if I didn’t get offered a full-time job there. Gaz, my boss at the time as a social media intern, said they liked me but couldn’t guarantee a full-time social media position would open up when I graduated. I also wasn’t entirely sure that social media was what I wanted to do. I did believe deep down though that as long as my foot was in the door at Barstool, I could work my way up and get to a place I wanted to be. But without that guarantee, I did have to think of a possible next step.
I had started casually looking at random job sites where I could find on-air work somewhere. Whether it was minor league baseball in Nebraska, or an overnight sports radio show in Iowa, I knew that’s what I wanted to do. I was kind of prepared to leave NYC for wherever was necessary, knowing it’s almost impossible to break into the NYC market right out of college.
Everything started to break my way though during this Rundown when Hubbs and Frankie told Dave, Big Cat, and KFC that I was in Jamaica calling the Fordham-Florida State basketball game.
All of a sudden, I went from Alarmingly Stupid to the Voice Fordham. I remember Hubbs texted me saying “I just blew you up on The Rundown” as I was going through customs getting back from Jamaica. I had no idea what that meant and was absolutely petrified. Luckily, it ended up being a great thing, leading to some appearances on Barstool Radio and getting me more on Dave’s good side.
March 1, 2018
I was helping run social media on Barstool Radio this day when Iowa was playing Michigan in a Big 10 tournament game. Dave's attention shifted almost entirely to the TV in the room, so we needed to update the people on what we were watching. I vividly remember Dave saying "You guys talk about whatever, I'm gonna check out and watch this game ..... Unless .... Tom does play-by-play and I do color." And just like that, the idea was born. The video is deleted off Twitter for some reason so I can't include it.
Thursday, March 15
First day of the tournament. I had no idea what to expect. I was just told to come in wearing a suit and that we'd call some of the games. Didn't know how they were getting streamed or anything, but I was ready. I stayed up until 3 AM the night before preparing game boards for all 32 teams playing that day. I remember being pretty nervous in the morning, and Jack Mac telling me "There's no way this doesn't go well for you." He was right.
I know I started off pretty low-energy, probably the nerves. I remember looking at the comments after the first live stream, and they were pretty negative wondering who the hell I was. Dave and Big Cat then told me how I needed to be way more energetic, like over-the-top. So I did. And it worked.
Grayson Allen hit a huge shot for a first half Duke cover. I got left hanging on a high-five. Dave and I debated what constituted a "dagger" in the Gonzaga game. I made a jingle for South Dakota State's Mika Daum. Loyola upset Miami on a buzzer beater.
Not only were the calls becoming more entertaining, but Dave just kept winning every single bet. The good luck whispers began.
The day ended with some more winners. I remember riding the train back to Fordham feeling like I couldn't believe what was happening. Like legitimately pinching myself. I got back to my dorm, ordered some Chinese food, and started prepping for the next day.
Friday, March 16
I had class that morning, but decided it was probably best to skip it so I'd be on time for the streams. I woke up to see that I had a Milmore Short, which was a huge honor because they're one of my favorite things at Barstool.
If I remember correctly, I think Friday started off kind of slow. No crazy moments to start the day, but it ended strong. We were on Barstool Radio when Frank Kaminsky randomly showed up. So I sat next to Frank Kaminsky and called basketball games. That was definitely a "what the hell is happening to my life moment?" Then the good luck was starting to diminish. We were not actually winning every bet anymore.
But the day finished HOT on a 4-0 run after a crazy finish to Texas-Nevada. I was officially cemented as a good luck charm, and Dave was considering bringing me to Vegas the following weekend for DP41.
I went back to Fordham that night and met some friends out for drinks then hit the bars. I didn't have time to change so I was still rocking the suit. After the Fordham Pussy Patrol called it a night, we played some Fortnite and the luck continued. I won the first and only game of my Fortnite career, mainly by just hiding in a corner the entire time.
The genuine happiness we displayed in that video makes it look like I was a Make-A-Wish kid, but that's how unlikely it was for me to win.
Saturday, March 17
St. Patrick's Day at Fordham so there were a ton of day parties. As if my hot streak couldn't get any better, I was absolutely running the table in beer pong with some of the best performances of my life. But the reason I included this day is because it was the first time I really started to get "noticed." People were coming up to me at bars and parties asking for pictures. I remember walking by an outdoor party at "Bros Hill" and people started chanting "Tommy Smokes!" It was surreal. I know Big Cat talks a lot about how, usually at Barstool, the rise to notoriety is slow and gradual. And that's definitely true in the case of Dave, Big Cat, KFC, and others. They've gotten more and more famous every day over the past decade. But for me, it was basically over night. One weekend, I was just a normal college kid hanging with my friends in the back of Mugzs. The next weekend I had people chanting my name and asking for pictures. It was weird, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't love it.
I got back to my dorm, joined Dave's periscope as he sweated Michigan. And brought home another winner.
Monday, March 19
Getting to host the Rundown was a big time "holy shit" moment. Sophomore year of college, I'd watch the Rundown while I ate dinner every night and think of how cool it would be to host it one day. Two years later, I was living out that dream. Wish I didn't dress for the Oregon Trail that day though.
I was officially invited to DP41 in Vegas as a good luck charm. We were to fly out Friday March 23rd and get back Sunday March 25th. The problem? I had a Spring Break Bahamas trip booked with my friends from Thursday March 22nd to Tuesday March 27th. Sure, ditching my friends on our senior year trip sucked, but I knew the best move was obviously for me to go to Vegas, and I'm sure glad that I did. There were more winners and winners and winners, and I officially got inducted into Team Portnoy. If you want to read the full recap, here it is.
Otherwise, here's some highlights
I still don't what happened to my face in those videos.
The whole weekend was just unbelievable. VIP tables at clubs, pool parties with smokeshows, high-stakes blackjack tables, and more. That was my first ever Vegas trip, and I'm not sure it can ever be topped. I took a redeye that Sunday into Newark, then got on a connecting flight to the Bahamas, partied with my friends for a day, and flew back to New York.
Wednesday, March 28
Back to the office for the first time since Vegas. Luckily, I was on Spring Break during this time so wasn't really missing any classes. This day featured another "holy shit" moment. Timeflies was in the office. They came to Fordham the year before for Spring Weekend, and I instantly became a huge fan. I went up to introduce myself, and to my surprise, they knew me before I knew them.
That night, it was off to Dave's apartment. First night "living" together. We streamed games for a few hours and had some winners. I remember the look we gave each other when I got off the elevator. Like "This is really happening, huh?"
We also ordered some dinner and watched some Survivor before he called me an Uber home. You can read that full night recap here.
San Antonio Final Four Trip
After spending a few days at home with my parents, who were very confused about what was happening, it was off to San Antonio. It was a pretty big crew with Dave, myself, Frankie, Big Cat, PFT, Hank, and Chaps in the area. Sister Jean was the first test. She proved to be a formidable foe, but we still took her down. There were more improbably winners that weekend. An NBA game literally ended on the Gamecast, but it somehow came back to life and became a winner. Then there was the crazy Bruins win on the way to Chaps' house, where we spent our Easter Sunday and had #BrisketGate.
Eventually, the streak came to a bit of an end when Michigan lost to Villanova in the championship even though I got shit on by a bird before the game. But we were still mostly winning. That would've really just been a fairytale finish. The luck got right back on track though on the flight home. Big Cat and I kept switching seats so I could sit next to Dave in first class, and there were more miraculous wins.
Read the full trip recap here, and I'll include some highlights below it.
And that wrapped up an insane period of my life. It was definitely overwhelming at points, but it was also probably the most fun I've ever had, and it truly changed my life. I got back to some normalcy after that. Finished out my last 6 weeks of college with friends enjoying my new "celebrity" status around campus. Got offered a full-time job and started two days after I graduated, and I've loved every second of working here ever since. I'm really glad some balls went in some nets.
(PS: Nobody ask about March Madness 2019. We are reliving good memories ONLY)