Thursday, December 8, 2011

Mini-Movie in the Works (Golf)

I've been super busy, but I just want to let whoever the heck reads this thing that I am putting together a little 'movie' from videos of me golfing.  Every time I play a round I usually set my iPhone down and shoot at least one golf shot, and in some cases an entire hole.  Like I said, I've been busy (trying to graduate college) so I haven't even scratched the surface on compiling clips yet but hopefully I'll be able to start soon.

I am going to need a soundtrack for it, so if anyone has any suggestions of good music that would compliment my mini-movie, comment and let me know.

As this is a photo blog, below are a few golfing pics. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Making Moves

The Miami Marlins have been making a big splash at the Winter Meetings in Dallas this week.  They signed all-star shortstop Jose Reyes, and coveted pitcher Mark Buehrle.  It looks as if they will miss out on the Pujols sweepstakes as he will most likely resign with the Cardinals.  However, the Marlins aren't done.  They are still pursuing Rangers free agent pitcher C.J. Wilson who is one of my favorite non-Marlins (for now).  There have also been rumors floating around in regards to Prince Fielder.  Not sure that he fits with the plan the Marlins seem to be executing but it is no questions that he would bring another dimension to the team.

The picture below is a panorama that I took at the last Marlins game I went to.  It happens to be the last game that I will ever see what I know as Dolphin/Pro Player Stadium.  Next year the Marlins will be moving to a new state-of-the-art facility in downtown Miami.  The key feature of the ballpark is the retractable roof. WOOHOO! This means that there won't be anymore rain delays or suffering through 95 degree summer days.  The extremely expensive air conditioning system should keep the temperature at a comfortable 78, which will be extremely welcomed in July and August.

I don't want to forget about the last 20 years (or so) in Marlins history because we won 2 World Series, but there is a sense around the club that we are entering a new era.  The new ballpark brings a whole new look, not only to the facility, but to the players and overall feel of Marlins baseball.  Heres to the next 20 years being just as important in Marlins history than the last 20 have been.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The 45 Most Powerful Images Of 2011

As the title says, this is a list of the 45 most 'powerful' images from the past year, according to social site

Why 45? Who knows.  I've included my Top 5 below.  Click here for the entire list!

Members of the national security team receive an update on the mission against Osama bin Laden in the Situation Room of the White House on May 1.

A before and after shot of Joplin, Missouri after a massive tornado on May 22.

A monstrous dust storm (Haboob) roared through Phoenix, Arizona in July.

A University of California Davis police officer pepper-sprays students during their sit-in at an "Occupy UCD" demonstration in Davis, California. (Jasna Hodzic)

Cars are abandoned on Chicago's Lake Shore Drive during the "Snowpocalypse" in February.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Bicycle Portraits

This is a great project.  Photographers spent two years in South Africa meeting with people who use their bikes everyday.  They made a series of books to commemorate what they saw.  Watch the video and consider 'backing' them in buying a book, or two, or three.  If they get $15,000 in backings then they will send out the books.  You have to do it by Thursday at noon, so go watch the video. Do it! NOW!

More about the project...
My name is Stan Engelbrecht. Two years ago a friend and fellow bicycle enthusiast, Nic Grobler and I, started a project investigating South African bicycle culture, and the lack of cyclist commuters out there on our roads. We're raising funds to turn this project into a series of 3 self-published full-color hard-cover photographic books (similar to a previous book I've done, 'African Salad' - So far we've shot the entire project from our own bicycles while traveling around the country - meeting everyday South Africans while they use their bicycles.
For our project we've been looking at who rides bicycles, why they ride them, and if they love using bicycles as a primary method of transport. Please have a look at our site - - to get a clearer idea of what we've been working on. We've been updating this site constantly with our latest portraits as we've been shooting them. And we plan to keep shooting new portraits and including them on the site even after the books have been launched.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Tiger Gets a 'W'

In honor of Tiger Woods' big win today at the Chevron World Challenge, I give you the Top 10 Tiger Moments, courtesy of

(This list excludes Majors, so shots like his Masters chip-in are mere honorable mentions.)

If you didn't see the tournament, Tiger went head-to-head in his Sunday red against his playing partner Zach Johnson.  Johnson and Woods were at least three shots clear of the rest of the field all day.  Heading into the 16th hole the two were tied at -8.  Both played it safe on their tee shots, and laid up on their seconds.  This move favored Johnson who is recognized as one having one of the best wedge-games on tour.  This proved to be true as Johnson hit his 3rd pin high, while Tiger came up short.  Tiger two-putt from the fringe, while Zach sunk his putt to take a one shot lead with two to play.

17 is a downhill par 3.  Johnson hit his tee shot to about 15 feet.  Tiger hit his to about 12.  ZJ called off his caddie saying, "I've got this one," obviously feeling confident about the line.  He stroked a good putt, but it was a bit to firm and didn't take the last break into the cup.  Now it's Tiger's turn for birdie, a putt that would even the match heading into 18.  He stepped over the ball and hit his putt.  The right to left breaker was being watched by the thousands in attendance on massive jumbo-trons.  When the putt dropped, Tiger's patented fist pump was thrusted at the cup, and greeted by roars from the crowd.

With the two players now tied at -9, Tiger would tee off first on the 72nd hole.  He smashed a long iron down the center of the fairway, leaving him a good look at the pin.  Johnson, perhaps trying to set up a shorter second shot, pulled out his driver.  His ball started down the right side turning over toward the fairway but caught a tree branch taking about 30 yards off the distance.  This would allow for Tiger to see Zach hit his shot first, and know what he has to do.  Johnson landed his ball on the green, leaving him about a 12 foot downhill putt.  So, Tiger, in classic Tiger fashion, stepped up and hit his shot.  Pacing towards the pin as if it mattered how fast he got to the green, he stared his ball down as it landed just over top the pin and rolled back to about 7 feet.

Johnson's putt rolled past the cup leaving the door open for Tiger to end it in dramatic fashion.  And that is just what he did.  He picked his line, made his putt, and dropped the ball center cup.  He gave another fist pump, but this time you knew exactly what it meant.  The drought was over.  He finally got a W.  Hopefully this is a foreshadowing of things to come next year.  Golf is better game when Tiger is winning. I know he's made some questionable decision in his person life, but I don't care about his personal life.  I care about the golfer that made all of the shots in the video above.  He is, in my opinion, the best player to ever play the game.

Here after Tiger made his putt to win, Zach Johnson shakes his head in approval.

I'm Back!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

NBA Preview: Trade Rumors, Free Agents, Miami's Outlook

Now I know a lot of people don't really care about basketball, especially in November and December because their lives are taken over by football and the anticipation of Christmas.  But let me tell you, I can not wait for the NBA season to tip off!  Being from South Florida I have always been a huge Miami Heat fan.  Dwyane Wade was and always will be my favorite player.  When Lebron made his 'decision' to come to Miami it was a little bitter sweet.  I always thought that Wade got overshadowed by Lebron, even when they weren't on the same team.  And now Lebron is going to come to Miami and try and take over the team?

Wait a second.  This is good.  The best player in the league is going to come play for my team!  So, I put my pride aside and welcomed him in the hopes that he would bring "Not 5.. Not 6... Not 7..." but just a few championships.  When last season started I was talking with my best friend Zach, who is a Lebron fan, thus now a Miami Heat fan.  We didn't think that they would win it all in their first year, even with all of that talent.  It takes time to create chemistry with so many dominating playing styles on one team.  We set the over-under at one and a half season.  That means that this is the big year!  It's time to avenge the NBA Finals loss to Dirk & the Mavs.

Trade Rumors:

I think that teams learned a lot with Lebron's decision.  You can't just wait for your star players contract to expire and hope you can resign them.  If it looks like they want to leave then you need to get something for them while you can.  Utah showed this last season when they traded Derron Williams.  Likewise when Denver shipped Carmelo to the MSG.  Two superstars, Chris Paul and Dwight Howard, arguable the best in the league at their positions, are both in the final years of their contracts.  Like Lebron, D. Will, and Carmelo, CP3 and Superman are both expected to switch teams next summer if not traded prior to.

Will New Orleans bite the bullet and pull the trigger on a trade?  Will Orlando play the waiting game and hope they can convince the 'center' of their franchise to stay with the team?  While CP3 is a great point guard, Dwight Howard is as good as they come, and he is all Orlando has.  I think if New Orleans trades Paul they could still be competitive.  If Orlando trades Howard they set their team back 5 years.

Free Agents (that the Heat should consider):

According to ESPN's Marc Stein, teams can start talking contracts with free agents starting Monday at 10 a.m.  If you look at where the Heat were lacking last season you immediately go to the Center position.  While PG is a bit weak, Lebron and Dwade do enough ball handling for the team to focus on bringing in a solid center.  I'm probably the biggest Joel Anthony fan out there but it's clear Miami can improve.

If you look at all the mockups for the top free agents around the league, almost every site has Denver's Nene at the top of the list.  He provides a physical body to defend the biggest of the bigs and has a soft touch around the rim.  He would provide an offensive option at center that Miami hasn't seen since the Shaq experiment.  Oh yeah, didn't we win a ring that year?

Another option might be Dallas' Tyson Chandler.  His 7-1 presence would be a big asset as current starter Joel Anthony tops out at 6-9.  He has the potential to be a shot blocking master and can provide an improved offensive game.  While this sounds good, it is most likely that he will resign with the defending champs... Unless he realizes that he will win the next 3 championships if he signs with Miami.

Miami has got a few things going for them.  Lebron. DWade. Chris Bosh. South Beach.  Enough said.  This is the type of team that players want to come to and try to win a championship.  Because of this, I would look out for a few of the following names: Tracy McGrady, Jeff Foster, Mike Dunleavy.  Players like this are willing to take smaller contracts in order to play for a winner.  And with the contracts of the Big-3, Miami will need to sign a few of these minimum contract guys.

Some other players that I like that might fit well in Miami are Rodney Stuckey, Greg Oden, and Chauncey Billups.  All are long shots as they will all probably be resigned by their teams, but one can hope.

Miami's Outlook:

I'm trying to be as unbiased as possible here but I agree with all the oddsmakers that Miami should be the favorites to win it all this coming season.  While the lockout may help some of the older teams like Boston, LA, and Dallas, I still think that with a year of experience playing together, Lebron and Dwyane are poised for an exciting season.  Although they won't be able to break the single season wins record (due to the shortened season), I believe that they can win more games than they did last season.  58-8 sounds a little crazy but I wouldn't be surprised if the Heat go on a 20+ game winning streak at some point.  Teams will be playing upwards of 20 games a month, giving the athletic teams an advantage.  With Miami having arguably the two most athletic players in the league, I think they will be just fine.

My (Pre)Prediction:

I'm not going to make my official prediction until Christmas Eve, because I have a feeling things are going to get a little crazy with players moving all around in the coming weeks.  But, I think if the Heat are able to pick up a solid player at the Center position to compliment the Big-3, they will again be serious contenders to make it back to the NBA Finals.  It's not going to be easy making it out of the East with teams like Chicago and New York boasting strong lineups.  Things could get really interesting if the Knicks are able to lure either CP3 or Dwight Howard in a trade.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Heat vs Bulls Game 4

With the NBA lockout pretty much over and the announcement of the Christmas Day games today (including a Finals rematch) here is a video I put together from Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals last year when the Heat took the Bulls into overtime.  Tomorrow I will give my 'pre-season' outlook including trade rumors, chances the Heat make it back to the finals, and who their biggest competition will be. But for now, enjoy!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Let's Gooooo!

In honor of WVU's big win tonight over South Florida, here are some pictures I took from a few games over the past year. Time to start rooting for Cincinnati this weekend in their game against UConn.  If Cincy wins then WVU will play in a BCS bowl game, probably being our last one for a while with the impending move to the Big 12.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Take Me Home

Thanksgiving break is great. I get to spend some time with my family, which is always good. BUT, I spend a week in warm weather only to come back to days like today. 35 degrees = No fun.  Here are pictures I took during break to help get me through these last few weeks in the cold.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Pikewood National

Last month my Dad came in to town on business and we were fortunate enough to play golf at Pikewood National.  Located on the outskirts of Morgantown, WV, Pikewood features a picturesque landscape that was only enhanced by the seasoned trees that line each of the holes.  The monstrous course plays over 6800 yards from the FORWARD tees!  Whether you need the exercise or not, if you get the opportunity to play this course, DO IT!  From the practice range to the 18th green, it was another great golfing experience with the Pops.

For more info on Pikewood National, or to check out their flyover video visit their website: Pikewood National

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving Recap

Two Turkeys.
Two different kinds of Stuffing.
Mashed Potatoes.
Mac n Cheese.
Rolls on Rolls on Rolls.
Wine from Darioush.
Pumpkin Pie and Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake.

Ate so much I was in a food coma for three days.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Was it Fate?

I live a pretty unique lifestyle.  I have many hobbies, but only a few things that I am really passionate about.  Sports. Music. Photography.  My love of sports was created as birth.  My Dad wanted to name me Steve Steranka because he thought it sounded like a good baseball name.  Music has always been an important part of my life.  With a library spanning across all genres, I have recently begun to appreciate Jazz for its improvisations and unique melodies.  Photography, like sports and music, has always interested me.  From playing with my parent’s cameras when I was younger, to shooting panoramas on my iPhone, I think there is something special about capturing a memory in a single frame.

So, when I started thinking about how I was going start off my blog I thought I would tell a story about my all-time sports moment.

"Was it Fate?"

It was late July, a week after my 21st birthday. My family and I were vacationing in San Francisco, a trip that was long in the making.  Years earlier, my Dad and I made a pact that for my 18th birthday we would travel to Scotland and play golf at the famous Old Course at St. Andrews, which we eventually did.  Then for my 21st birthday we planned to make the trip to California and play Pebble Beach.

We pulled into Pebble Beach and headed for the clubhouse.  It wasn't until I went into the locker room and saw all of the famous names inside.  Lockers for Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Tiger Woods.  I was about to play Pebble Beach!  How many people get to say they have played two of the most famous golf courses in the world.  I was about to be one of those people. It wouldn't have mattered how I played.  I could have shot 100 and still have had a great time.  But something did happen.  I had a moment.  One that I will remember for the rest of my life.

After an up and down first few holes, we arrived at the 7th hole, a world famous par 3.  The hole was playing 100 yards from the tee, a distance that was irrelevant.  From the elevated tee box, the wind coming off the Pacific was gusting from 15-20 mph.  Our caddie was changing his distances to account for the changes in wind.  First it was 95.  Then 110. Then back down to 105 yards.  I didn't know what shot to hit.  Should I hit my 60 degree wedge, or take an extra club with my 56?  I asked my Dad what to do and he said, "Go with the 60."  I asked the caddie for the 60 degree wedge and teed up my ball.  I took a practice swing.  After failing to brush the grass, a pre-swing must before I hit any shot, I took another practice swing.  The club grazed the grass ever so slightly.  I was ready.  I took one more deep breath, looked forward at the tee, adjusted my aim a bit right to account for the wind, and then returned my eyes to the ball.  "Don't screw this up," I said to myself.

I took the club back and then threw it at the face of the ball.  A delightful pop sounded as the ball soared into the air.  My eyes strained to maintain sight of the ball in the overcast skies.  I found the ball just before it reached its peak and see it is on a beautiful flight path.  After what seemed like a minute, the ball began to fall back to earth.  I keep glancing from the ball, to the pin, and then back to the ball.  "This could be good," I was saying to myself.  For a second my heart skipped a beat as I thought that I might have misjudged it and my ball could be going long, into the water.  But just then, it landed short of the hole and rolled left to about 10 feet away.  I don’t think I’ve ever given a bigger sigh of relief.

The others hit their shots but I couldn’t tell you where they went if you paid me.  My mind was on one thing, and one thing only... sinking that putt for birdie.  I had no expectations coming into the round.  I surely wasn't expecting to make any birdies on such a difficult course.  But, as I was walking down to the green I was telling myself not that I had to make it, but that I was going to make it.  This is what all the golf lessons and summer camps were in preparation for.  This is what my Dad taking me out to play golf with him on Sundays was in preparation for.  This is what the JGA golf tournaments were in preparation for.  It was this moment.  It was my moment.

I take a look at the break in the putt as I walk up to mark my ball.  I don't see more than a cup out on the left.  After my caddie cleans my ball, the others play theirs, and then I'm back up.  I take another look at the line, get a tip from the caddie not to overplay the break and I replace my ball at the marker.  After taking one last look from behind the ball I was sure that I was going to make it.  It seemed too easy.  "I've made way harder putts than this one," I was thinking.  So, I step over the ball, putter in hand.  Line up the clubface, shuffle my feet.  I pick out a spot on my line and forgetting entirely to take any practice strokes, I take the club back.  Six inches back, six inches forward.  The perfect pendulum motion that I was always taught growing up.  This shot would not take nearly as long as the one from the tee.  The ball was rolling a bit faster than I would have liked but it was right on line.  Before I could even raise my putter in excitement, the ball hit the hole dead center and dropped in.  I did it.  I did it!  At that moment right then, I don't think I could have been any happier.  Playing one of the best courses in the world with my best friend, my Dad.  Not to mention I just birdied a hole that I had dreamed of playing since I was a little kid.  I posed for a picture to remember the moment, as if I could ever forget what happened.

We went on playing and finished up the round.  I played a bit erratic but knowing I had that birdie in my back pocket it didn't matter.  Later in the week we took a day trip into Napa Valley and went to a few vineyards.  At the last stop of the day, Darioush Winery, we bought two bottles to take home to Florida.  With my parents departing San Fran on business, and my sister heading back to New York City, I had to take the bottles of wine back home in my luggage.  My Mom, like all moms do, was worried about the bottles traveling in my luggage, so she told me to call her when I got home to reassure her that the bottles made it home safely.

After a connecting flight in Atlanta, I landed in West Palm Beach and then caught a right home.  Once inside, I opened up the luggage to find the bottles were safe and sound.  I picked up the phone to call my parents to check in both for myself and the cargo I was carrying.  When my Mom picked up the phone she sounded unusually giddy.  I didn’t think much of it so I pushed on the conversation.  I told her that the wine was fine and nothing broke.  I heard my Dad in the background tell my Mom, “Tell him to go put them in the wine cooler.”  I hung up with them, grabbed the bottles, and walked down the hall to my Dad’s office, where he has a 20-bottle cooler.  I put the bottles in and turn around to walk out.  As I turned around something caught my eye.  I’m actually in here quite often, so if there were something new or out of place I would probably notice it.  I stop, turn around and see a framed painting propped up on one of the chairs.

I get a closer look, and to my surprise/shock/amazement, the painting was a landscape of the 7th hole at Pebble Beach, the hole I made the memory of a lifetime on just days before.  I look even closer and there is writing from artist, "To Stephen - To many great moments together on the golf course with your Pop."  Immediately I call my parents back to ask them about the painting.  My Dad came on the phone and I asked him how he got the painting home so fast, as I had assumed the he bought it during our trip after I birdied the hole.  But he didn't buy it on our trip.  He actually bought it six weeks earlier when he was in San Francisco on a business trip.  He thought it would be a nice way to commemorate our trip, not knowing that that would be my signature hole of the round.  Was it fate?  I’m not sure, but it’s a story I’m going to remember for the rest of my life.

The artist, Linda Hartough is known for painting golf landscapes.  You can check her work out at:

Going forward I am going to post at least one photo every day.  Every Friday, I plan on writing a little something that has to do with current events or something that is going on in my life.  Stay tuned for more!