Sunday, October 31, 2004

Back on the Bandwagon

Bears 23, 49ers 13


Break up the Bears! I'm hopping back on the bandwagon. Craig Krenzel is the new Ben Roethlisberger. Lovie Smith is the new Bill Belichek.

I'm thinking playoffs and I will not hear otherwise.

**


In a world where modern professional athletes are often accused of not caring, I tend to give them the benefit of the doubt. Most of the time.

Yeah, they make immense riches and would seemingly care less than their predecessors who played for much more simple reasons, such as sheer love for the game or to get away from their offseason jobs. Or from their wives. Yet, once athletes hit the field/court/rink, I'd like to think that none of their money matters, that they play for pride, enjoyment, and competition. Or TV airtime. Or the road groupies. Yes, it's definitely the road groupies. But whatever. As long as they're pumped, I'm pumped. And gambling. In other words, everyone is happy.

Eddie Robinson, however, is another matter. Props to the Bulls for making a concerted effort to drop this abaltross.

In all my years of following sports, very few athletes have ever struck me as legitimately not caring, of purposely packing it in once a large contract has been signed, the way Robinson has. E-Rob, quite simply, is one of the most sorry, uninspired, crabby, and overall pathetic athletes I've had the misfortune of witnessing, which is saying a lot living in Chicago.

What Robinson has done to the Bulls is practically thievery. I know this may sound unrealistic, but I wonder what the chances are of an NBA club suing a player for a breach of contract on the grounds that the player, well, just doesn't try. Isn't there some sort of requirement for both parties to live up to the terms of a contract to the fullest? Can a club file a grievance?

If so, the Bulls should do so.

Robinson was signed for $31.2 mil over five years, which, even at that time, seemed ludicrous for a player that had showed a few minimal hints of becoming an impact player and tons of athletic ability, but little else. Of course, he was signed by Jerry Krause, who was the very embodiment of a bumbling, clueless GM. I will leave it at that. The last thing you want is for me begin a rant on Krause. It would be the rant to end all rants.

Since signing, Robinson has rarely played due to a variety of injuries. Even when he has been healthy, he has underperformed, fought with coaches, and proven to be a complete locker room cancer. Last year, when confronted about his questionable (i.e. nonexistent) work habits, he said something to the affect of, "I'm a veteran. I know what I'm doing. I don't need to practice that much." (That actually made me chuckle in a sinister, fan-driven-to-the-point-of-no-return, may-I-never-meet-this-clown-in-person sort of way.) Currently, he has sat out virtually the entire preseason with - get this! - a stubbed toe. That's right, a stubbed friggin' toe!

That, quite simply, is hogwash. I'm guessing he simply has no interest in playing. I'm guessing he smokes pot all day/every day, which is a good life if you can get it, but not when you're making millions to perform. I'm guessing this guy's attitude is about as piss-poor as it gets and he longs for the days of Jamal Crawford and Jalen Rose when he had partners in being bloated, self-centered, content NBA lifers.

Well, with a little luck, his shenanigans will soon head elsewhere, possibly Miami, though I'd hate to see Dwyane Wade exposed to Robinson's ways.

The best part is, John Paxson and Scott Skiles have reportedly requested that Robinson simply not hang around the team in the interim. Other than the Bucs and Keyshaun Johnson, I cannot think of many instances where a team has said to a player, in so many words, "Uh, look, no hard feelings, but here's the thing: We would prefer it if you simply stopped coming around. Thanks."

Good for Paxson and Skiles. Personally, I'm excited about the Bulls for the first time in years. It's good to see a no-holds-barred approach when it comes to weeding out the negative influences that have diseased the team's fortunes in recent seasons.

I wish no ill will on Robinson, and have heard of his rough upbringing in Flint, Michigan in which he didn't play high school ball and was, basically, a delinquent, but the time has come. Maybe he'll go elsewhere and feel rejuvenated. If so, great.

But it's over.

It's been interesting, Eddie. Now get lost.

**


Speaking of Chicago malcontents, Sammy Sosa is up to his usual selfish whining. Of course, he has saved his latest until he's out of the country rather than confronting his many detractors at the end of this past season. Classy. Manly.

Just like Robinson, the ties to Sosa need to be cut. The prospective financial loss should not even be considered. Not at all. His mere presence is no longer feasible, nor wanted.

It's been interesting, Sammy. Now get lost.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Congrats to the Red Sox and Several "Fuck Yous"



I was afraid to get out from under the covers this morning. I thought the world may be coming to an end, or at least the East Coast. The Red Sox had just won the World Series. Isn't that one of the signs of the apocalypse?

I did, however, emerge slowly (even slower than usual) and took stock of things. My alarm clock was my most hated albatross as always. George W. Bush was still bringing down mankind. The Bears were still in last place. I had my daily morning hard-on.

Yup, things seemed to be normal.

It was true, the Red Sox really did win the Series. I admit, I was one of those weirdoes who actually believed in curses and thought the Red Sox and Cubs would forever flounder in tortured baseball lore. Right up until the end. When Keith Foulke made his underhand toss to first base to complete the sweep, I thought he'd throw wide and the collective groan from Boston bars would be audible in Cali. How funny would that have been? Very! Alas, the world is very plain and ordinary after all. There are no curses. There are no ghosts. And there is no middle of the Cardinals' batting order. That was the biggest myth of all.

Hey, good for the Red Sox. Good for their fans.

But I can't decide if it's quite the feel-good story that so many people want it to be. Suddenly, the Red Sox are beloved by more than just Bostonians. America has taken to this team like Ashlee Simpson to a prerecorded vocal track. Their story has been well-documented by sports and news outlets alike.

Why?

The Red Sox payroll is the largest-ever by a World Series winner. They're not exactly the small, out-of-nowhere underdog beating enormous odds and shocking the world. They're a team built largely around stars plucked from small-market clubs: Martinez (Montreal), Ortiz (Minnesota), Damon (Oakland), Schilling (Arizona).

They're the Yankees with facial hair and a self-esteem complex.

See? This is exactly what pisses me off to no end about MLB: The utter lack of cheerleaders! (Wait, I'm getting sidetracked, although baseball really does need cheerleaders.) In a more perfect world, the Twins would be a major contender with Ortiz in an already stacked lineup. Oakland would likely be world champs with Damon and Giambi (sans parasite) in its lineup to complement its awesome pitching. Montreal should have been an annual contender for more than a decade now with the amazing farm system they run.

These are the teams that deserve to win. These are the teams that actually know what they're doing. These are the smart teams. Teams like the Yankees and Red Sox? They sign paychecks.

Hypothetical question: Put the Yankees, Red Sox, A's, Twins, and Expos in the same division. Now make them compete solely through drafting and developing players. Who do you think wins that division? I don't have the answer, but I can tell you three teams that I think could very well finish ahead of the Yankees and Red Sox on a regular basis.

OK, OK, I'll stop bitching about this...for now. The Red Sox and their fans should enjoy their finest moment in a long and cold 86 years, and who am I to rain on their parade? This is their time. They waited for it.

Congrats, Boston. Congrats on leaving Chicago in your dust.

Now we, my fellow Chicagoans, are alone, unchallenged in our baseball misery. Just like we wanted. Just like we deserved.

What???? Don't act so offended! It's true! Come on, the Cubs scalp tickets to their own fans and the White Sox threw a World Series.

We deserve it. Believe it.

**


Fuck the Denver Broncos.

I am so sick of the red-faced, wild-eyed Mike Shanahan, his notorious cut blocking team taught to seek out injury to opponents, and his total disregard of the fact that NFL players are actual human beings making their livelihoods (albeit livelihoods that make the rest of us look like we're living in a house arrest scene on "Cops.") The Tony Williams incident is not the first time the Broncos have been accused of dirty (and dangerous) play. Sadly, it won't be the last time as long as Shanahan is around to be a dickbag.

Look, just because something isn't technically illegal, doesn't make it right.

In general, the Broncos have quietly become my least favorite NFL franchise. By far. This is the same franchise that won two Super Bowls while ignoring salary cap rules. This is the same franchise that has been accused of fudging injury reports. This is the same franchise whose smug owner prowls the sideline in full-length fur coats. The Broncos are the closest thing the NFL has to a "renegade" program, a la college football. Shanahan is just another Barry Switzer. He doesn't give a shit about anyone or anything as long as he gets to feel like the big, bad, powerful football guru. Well, fuck him. He's the stereotypical win-at-all-costs coach that we've all seen in just about every cliched football movie. I'm guessing Shanahan has even personally plunged needles into players' knees at halftime. At least I can take solace in the fact that he will never win another Super Bowl, nor get to one. I guaran-friggin'-tee it.

And to think, I used to like the Broncos back when they were everyone's favorite Super Bowl puffs.

Well, I promise you this: the Broncos are now officially on my shit list. As long as Shanahan is their coach, my rants against them will be merciless and frequent.

**



Speaking of people I'd like to tell to fuck off, I'd like to save some special "Fuck yous!" for Yasser Arafat and Rudy Giuliani.

(Can you tell it's getting late as I write this and my mood is taking a turn for the worse?)

Arafat is apparently ready to croak. Good! Wish I was there to see that. Fuck this worthless waste of human life.

Meanwhile, Giuliani is blaming the loss of missing explosives - you know, the explosives that are surely in the hands of the countless terrorists we're creating by the day - on American troops. Yup, that's right. Our troops go over to the Hell that is Iraq to fight a pointless war, and stay much longer than they were originally told, and then a greasy pimple on the ass of the world like Giuliani has the audacity to sit in a plush designer seat somewhere in New York and blame them for mistakes made in a war that has been undercut by a complete lack of planning and wisdom on the part of U.S. leadership.

Of all the shameless, spineless acts I have witnessed by Republican conservative types during the Bush years, this is right up there with the most pathetic and ugly. This definitely deserves a "Fuck You" all its own, accompanied by flashing lights, sirens and horns, and my boot in Giuliani's face.

Now, some of you may be asking yourself, "Did he just put Rudy Giuliani in the same category as Yasser Arafat? Isn't that, like, un-American? Why does he hate America?"

Damn right I did. Fuck Giuliani. Fuck Arafat. Fuck Shanahan. And I don't know what heinous acts he committed or what arrogant lies he told today, but fuck George Bush.

Oh, and fuck Ashlee Simpson, too. I’d still do her, though.

I need to go to bed...with Ashlee Simpson's lips doing something other than "synching" in my head..


(PS - Just below it says that this was posted at 9:57 p.m. That time is wrong. I'd hate to have mentioned earlier how late it was as I posted this, only for you to look at the psoting time and say, "WTF? 9:57? He's bitching about that being late? What a puss!" Maybe one day I will figure out how to change the time on here. Or maybe not.)

Tip of the Cap



I'll have more thoughts on this later once I'm convinced the world isn't coming to an end.

**


I'm not a big fan of violence. Thus, I normally don't condone fighting. Unless the fighting involves a couple of chicks. Hot chicks. And, preferably, not much clothing. And they're fighting over me. In that case, let's get ready to rumble.

On most occasions, I wouldn't look too fondly on the major brawl between the Bulls and Wizards that took place on Monday night. In fact, I'd normally find it rather ridiculous that two of the NBA's most pathetic teams would get all touchy...in the preseason, no less. Shit, did they get in an argument over who will have more players in the CBA by the All-Star break?

However, that bust-up may have been just what the Bulls needed.

This is no longer the team of Jamal Crawford and all his complaining if the world didn't revolve around him. It's no longer the team of Jalen Rose and his multitude of fadeaway jump shots that go clang. It's no longer the team of Marcus "I'm just here until my contract ends" Fizer.

This is a new team, a young team. This is the team of Kirk Hinrich. And Loul Deng. And Ben Godon. And Andres Nocioni. (Unfortunately, it's still the team of Eddie Robinson too, but - shhh!- if we ignore him maybe he'll go away.) The Bulls are starting more and more to fit the image of what John Paxson is hoping to create. They word hard. They're class acts. They don't bitch. They're headed in a new direction. I'm not sure what direction that is, but as long as it's going the opposite way of Jerry Krause I promise you it's the right direction.

Now, if the Bulls happen to grab each other's back and not take garbage like the pathetically cheap and dirty foul Larry Hughes assaulted Deng with, that's a good thing. A moment like the brawl that erupted could help form a new attitude, not to a mention a bond among the team.

Look, I'm just happy to see the Bulls show a little fire. We haven't seen that much since MJ and Co. skipped town.

Sure, Eddy Curry's punch to the nuts of Brendan Haywood didn't look good, but, hey, at least we now know that Curry can excited about something other than a pregame meal.

**


Terrell Owens is now saying that he didn't sign with the Ravens because of a racial remark made by Ozzie Newsome.

You're joking, right?

This guy is a supreme assclown. He doesn't get it. He...just...doesn't...get...it. How ironic is it that Owens repeatedly and mercilessly ridiculed Jeff Garcia by insinuating that he was gay, yet now feels slighted by a remark made by Newsome that, to me at least, sounded like nothing? He made a joke about a black man being slapped.

Aw, poor, little Terrell. Were your feelings hurt? Poor baby.

I agree that Owens should be slapped, but not because he's black.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Crazy Curses? I Sorta Hope So



Perhaps you enjoy the misery of others. Perhaps there's a part of you that wants to see the Red Sox stumble yet again. Perhaps there's a part of you that wants the Red Sox to not only lose, but to choke in the most agonizing, unforgettable way imaginable. Perhaps you feel that anything less would be a disappointment when compared to their previous infamous collapses.

Would that make you cold-hearted? I don't think so.

I'll admit it, there is a part of me that feels this exact way. You see, I like the idea of curses. I like the idea of the universe being run by strange and unexplainable forces. I like the possibility of magic in the air, regardless of how twisted and tortuous that magic seems, particularly to fans of the Red Sox and Cubs.

And I like the idea of Boston not burning itself down, too.

I guess this is the way it should be as the World Series switches to St. Louis tonight. Red Sox 2, Cardinals 0. This Series wouldn't have the same intrigue if the Red Sox hadn't opened up a two-game lead, would it? Anything else wouldn't be adhering to the ancient plot, and you know the plot I'm talking about. 1918. The Babe. If the Red Sox are going to lose, well, hell, it might as well be in the most heartbreaking fashion possible. The moment must bring Boston to its knees in one collective sigh of "Why, God, why?" as the wicked tears flow and the suicide lines ring endlessly. Yes, the Red Sox first must blow the sizeable lead they have built for themselves. And then they must lose the final game in one indelible moment of infamous doom so catastrophic in scope that one can only decide once and for all that curses truly do exist. The moment must make some unfortunate, unsuspecting player a villain for all-times. Perhaps the moment will be given a name like the "The Drive" or "The Shot Heard 'Round the World."

The moment must be earth-shattering to Red sox fans, and genuinely shocking to the rest of the world.

Will this happen?

Maybe, maybe not. I can't help the feeling that all the talk of curses has been overblown in the past few years, and dulled the possibility. The meddling ghosts so often spoken of may stay in hiding so as not to blow their cover. The more you talk about something, the less likely it is to happen. Does that make sense? I mean, the fact that so much has been made of the Red Sox' supposedly cursed ways almost makes a ho-hum ending to this series inevitable. And that raises the question, What would qualify as a "cursed" ending for the Red Sox? Must they lose in a wild and heart-crushing manner, or would simply losing suffice?

Whatever. All I know is that as I watched the eighth inning of Game Six of last year's NLCS between the Cubs and Marlins, I was convinced I was watching something otherwordly, the work of someone or something we can't even fathom. It wasn't the Steve Bartman incident. It wasn't Alex Gonzalez's error. It wasn't Mark Prior suddenly coming unglued. It wasn't the onslaught of hits that came on seemingly (and almost literally) every pitch.

No, it was the sheer speed with which it happened. That's what convinced me that the Cubs' doom was preordained. They were rolling, within five outs of the World Series, the promised land, and then it was as if somebody decided it all must end. Immediately. The end of the dream was swift and complete. Bam! Bam! Bam! It was as though the Cubs were allowed to struggle up that mountain, allowed to come within reach of the peak, and then kicked in the face and sent spiraling backwards.

I was numb at the time. That's all I can remember being after the dust had settled. I had passed at the last minute on joining the thousands of drunken Cubs revelers outside Wrigley Field. I decided to stay home, watch the game alone, and write about it afterwards. I figured there wouldn't be many nights to see the Cubs advance to the World Series and I decided to attempt to write about it rather than stumble through it in a daze of liquor. (Me? Passing up a night of plentiful booze and unadulterated debauchery in favor of discipline? That was a first! And a last, by the way.)

I didn't write anything afterwards. Nothing. I just sat there. Numb. The Cubs' collapse was one of the most deflating, yet at the same time strangely awe-inspiring, things I had ever witnessed. I can remember saying to myself, "It's true. The Cubs really are cursed. I just saw it."

And I guess that's my point. I want to see something like that again. Am I being selfish?

I don't dislike the Red Sox. Never have. I realize their fans, although undoubtedly annoying, are probably as starved for and deserving of a title as any fans of any team anywhere. I understand that a Red Sox title would be one of the most eagerly anticipated ever. I know it would be a huge story. I know it would be an inspiring story. I know I actually enjoy this present collection of Red Sox.

Yet, for some reason, there is a part of me, a part I'm not necessarily proud of, that wants to see the Red Sox crash in the most horrific fashion imaginable, that wants to witness something staggering, something supernatural, something destined to lore, something that makes me stop and think, or just smile at the sheer weirdness of it all; that wants something magical, inexplicable; that wants the surreal, the unimagined, the unexplainable, the mind-blowing; that wants Buckner and all the madness that would erupt. And if the Red Sox must play the role of the strange saga's sucker yet again...well, somebody has to.

I want to believe. In curses? In anything.

Besides, if the Red Sox win I don't think I could stomach all the headlines that would be variations of "Next Year is Finally Here!" Ugh.

**


I was watching the Bengals-Broncos game and I couldn't help feeling happy about seeing the Bengals and their absolutely classic helmets playing on Monday Night Football again.

I got to thinking of back in the day, of when the Bengals were actually good, and specifically of the old AFC Central. Riverfront Stadium. Three Rivers Stadium. And my all-time favorite, Cleveland Municipal Stadium.

And that made me think of the Houston Oilers. Man, I miss the Oilers. I really do. A lot.

Thus, I've decided not to acknowledge the existence of the Texans. They're dead to me. When Houston received an expansion franchise it should have resurrected the Oilers name and logo. That would have been the cool thing to do.

Long live the Oilers! Long live the Oilers!

Sunday, October 24, 2004

At Least The Offense Scored A TD (That's Refreshing!)

Buccaneers 19, Bears 7


It's official. The Bears stink.

Let me blunt about this (as I wish I had a blunt to dull the pain): the Bears may not win another game this season. They should begin thinking hard about what direction they want to take in fully screwing up their first pick in next year's draft, which may just be the first overall. There are bad teams, and then there are teams that near the point of being downright comical. The Bears have more than reached that point. In fact, they've crashed their car into it with remarkable accuracy. And then a long chain of clowns began filing out.

When Thomas Jones had a 77-yard touchdown reception on the first play from scrimmage called back because of an illegal block by - uh-oh, here's that dreaded name again - David Terrell, I could do nothing but laugh. Yep, listen to this:

"..........................................."

That's the sound of me laughing.

If you can't hear anything that's because there is nothing to hear. Look, when Craig Krenzel is your quarterback, your team has reached a dark place that I wouldn't wish on any NFL team. Nothing against Krenzel, but he's a rookie who wasn't exactly a great quarterback even in college. I believe 'serviceable' would be the best way to describe his career at Ohio St. Sure, he won a lot of games, not to mention a national title, with the Buckeyes, but his talent just screams NFL Europe or Arizona Cardinals. Yet, suddenly, he's the main man for your Chicago Bears? As a rookie?

It has all gone terribly wrong.

I'm looking directly at GM Jerry Angelo. This is a man who actually woke up one morning and said to himself, "Yep, we're set at the backup quarterback position with Jonathan Quinn and Craig Krenzel." I'm assuming he then began swatting at imaginary pixies and listening to important transmissions from the planet Xebon coming through his toaster, because he's clearly delusional. Heck, this is what Peter King had to say of the Bears quarterback quagmire:

"I have been watching football a long time, and I'm not sure there's ever been a worse quarterback depth than Jonathan Quinn, Craig Krenzel and Chad Hutchinson -- in whatever order you choose to put them."

Ouch. There have been a lot of bad quarterbacks to stumble into the NFL, but never let it be said that the Bears didn't assemble possibly the absolute worst collection of clueless QBs...EVER! How long until Chad Hutchinson gets tossed out there? That should be fun. Here's a guy who couldn't keep his job with the Cowboys even though one quarterback was snorting lines and another is practically a fossil. Besides, as a general rule, any guy who Bill Parcells doesn't care for, I don't care for. Or how about Tim Couch? Yippee! Are you excited? I doubt it. Couch's disappointing career is proof of all the terrible things that can happen when you ignore the golden rule of draft scouting, which is "Never trust anyone who played football at Kentucky."

The Bears have so many first round busts already that I just have to laugh that now they're taking on the busts from other teams. Shit, they already had Cade McNown. Now Couch? Why not just complete the sweep of 1999 draft QB busts and sign this joker:



Why not? It could be funny.

** BTW, these are the results of a poll on the Bears website:

Who should start at quarterback for the Bears next Sunday against the 49ers?

95.3%
Craig Krenzel

4.7%
Jonathan Quinn


Hahahahahaha! It just doesn't get much worse that 95% of Bears nation clamoring for a Krenzel start.

**


Tom Hanks did it. He pushed me over the edge. My allegiances in this World Series are with the Cardinals.

Why? I cannot stomach the minions of shameless Red Sox bandwagon jumpers. They're everywhere.

Yes, there is something I like about these Red Sox, namely the fact that they made laughingstocks of the Yankees. (Pause for sweet remembrance.) As a group, they're definitely likeable. With all their flowing locks and facial hair, there is something slightly Raidersesque about them. I like that. I like all the Bostonians with signs proclaiming their love for their "idiots." I can relate to idiots. I like the definite camaraderie that is present. I like the fact that, should they win it all, Boston can quit its bitching and Chicago will be all alone in its baseball misery. (Hey, I want it all, damnit!) And I like that fact that Jennifer Garner routinely shows up on FOX's telecasts.

However, I have seen way too many Red Sox caps mysteriously popping up. And, worse, many of them look brand spanking new! Please. Where were these "fans" before? Did they have no pride? Or are they merely bandwagon jumpers?

Seeing Hanks wearing a Red Sox cap while being interviewed by FOX's Chris Myers was the final straw. Hanks blabbered something about not necessarily being a Red Sox fan per se, but being an American.

What?

Yeah, he's an American alright...an American that just happens to be promoting a new movie.

I guess that's an opportune time to be a Red Sox "fan."

** Can Alan Embree fit any more chew in his mouth? Jeez! I haven't seen a wad that size in someone's mouth since the last time I watched porn. So earlier today.

**


If there is a God, he surely likes to fuck with me.

So I'm riding the train last Friday. One stop after I got on, an extraordinarily attractive chick sits directly next to me. I mean, she's beyond smoking hot. Stunning. I was barely able to get a good look at her as I glanced up just as she was sitting down, just enough of a view to determine that, yes, I was in love, but little more. Once she was sitting, it was hard to turn my head at a 90-degree angle to more fully check her out from, literally, a few inches away without appearing like that weird dude on the train who stares eerily at hot chicks, which I am, but why promote it?

Out of the corner of my eye, however, I was able to spot a bag on her lap - a Victoria's Secret bag. Goodgawd! This immediately triggered all sorts of illicit thoughts in my mind, such as "I wonder if it's a thong in the bag. Yes! It is surely a thong!" and "Would a marriage proposal be a tad too forward?" I also tried to dismiss the possibility that she would be "treating" her boyfriend, who I could just tell was a real asshole even though I hadn't met him, or knew if he even existed. I could tell, though.

Now, this is the point where I became convinced that God, if he exists and/or gives a shit, finds humor in toying with me. (As if the fact that he made me a Chicago sports fan wasn't proof enough.) This chick - who was ludicrously gorgeous and carrying a Victoria's Secret bag full of who knows what - reaches into her purse and pulls out a book about - but of course! - enjoying sex. Sensory overload, sensory overload! I didn't catch the exact title because I was too busy remembering how to breathe. But, between the bag and the book, one thing was certain: this chick clearly had an agenda. And it was remarkably similar to my agenda, although I wouldn't look nearly as good in a strapless, see-through number.

I began thinking of what, if anything, I should do. Should I talk to her? Unfortunately, this is usually my first mistake when it comes to chicks. Should I comment on her book? Maybe tell her I could help out - and it would likely take less than a minute, to boot? Hey, I'm a giver.

Eventually, I did what I thought any rational guy would do. I tossed my a bag aside and started humping her leg like a dog.

I'm kidding! I'm kidding! I didn't even have a bag.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

I'm Back In Black! (My Favorite Time Of Year)



Yup, the bitter winds and menacing skies have, at long last, arrived and I was finally able to break out my beloved full-length, jet-black, Keanu Reeves-in-The Matrix trench coat with the fur collar that dutifully stands straight up past the bottom of my ears. Man, I feel like a million bucks in that jacket. Especially when I top it off with all-black wraparound shades. I was born for that look.

I'm a mofo in that thing. Straight up!

**
Craig Krenzel?

**
Vidication.

It is sweet.

I must say, I don't like hating on people. I always feel bad afterwards, unless I'm hating on myself, in which case I just feel normal. But when I rip on an athlete, for instance, I inevitably fear that I'm no better than the curmudgeonly, blood-sniffing, blowhard members of the media who love to build people up only to tear them down. I don't want to be like that.

That said, I'm feeling pretty good about A-Rod spilling his true colors last night in front of a television audience that must have had FOX executives hiding their chubbies. Anyone who actually reads this knows that I can't stomach the mere sight of A-Rod. So you know I was smiling when he swung like a little girl at the arm of Bronson Arroyo. In one beautiful moment, A-Rod displayed for the world that he's not exactly the holier-than-thou, too-good-to-be-true, do-no-wrong walking picture of baseball perfection that he loves to portray himself as.

No, he displayed that he's...well, he displayed that he's the type of guy who would swing like a little girl in a moment of pure and unadulterated cheating. Look, if you tried that garbage in Little League, you'd get yanked by your oversized batting helmet and given a lecture about the difference between playing hard and playing like an asshole. And you wouldn't get a hot dog after the game, which would be so much worse than the lecture.

But I digress. Enough about A-Rod.

The Yankees and Red Sox series has been some of the most enthralling sports entertainment in ages. Not since Todd Bridges got into the ring with Vanilla Ice have I felt so moved and filled with anticipation. As long as I'm eagerly patting myself on the back for pegging A-Rod before he pegged himself, I'll be fair and admit that I was riding the bandwagon filled with people who disliked the endless barrage of Yankees vs. Red Sox hype. When Sportcenter is counting down till the start of an April Yanks-BoSox game during the height of basketball season, something is amiss.

But, hey, it was all worthwhile, apparently.

Props to the Red Sox for evening this series up. For a team that clearly spends way too much time thinking about hair styles and different variations of the goatee, they've showed commendable fortitude.

Can they win Game Seven? God, I hope so.

But I doubt it.

They have to lose. You know it. It has already been written in the sky. Only the Red sox (or Cubs) would come all the way back from a three games to none deficit...and lose. It has to be. It's fate. It's unavoidable.

And it'll be funny. Sort of. Come on, you know it!

Besides, Derek Lowe will be pitching. Shoulda went with Wakefield.

**
Johnathon Quinn is bad.

Oh, man, is he bad. I can admit it now. I have seen the truth. Yes, I was desperately holding onto the hope that he might surprise us. Yes, I was misled by blind optimism, which tends to happen to me a lot when it comes to the Bears. Yes, I could be a more productive quarterback than Quinn.

And, no, I'm not kidding.

Sad thing is, that last assertion may not be altogether farfetched.

Quinn's play, quite simply, has maybe been the most troubling I have ever seen by a Bears quarterback. Period. And with the plethora of ghastly gunslingers the Bears have thrown out there over the years, that's a faaaaaaaaarreaching statement. Look, at this point I think I'd rather see Peter Tom Willis or Moses Moreno or - horror of horrors! - Cade McNown. Henry Burris? Bring him back from Canada. Steve Walsh? He can't be more than forty. Kordell Stewart? OK, I have to draw the line at Stewart. Definitely no Stewart.

Oh, how I long for the days of Shane Matthews. The glory days.

I realize it's never as easy as blaming a loss on one player, but Quinn came pretty close against the Redskins. It certainly wasn't the fault of the defense, which did plenty to keep the game close and even provided the Bears' lone touchdown when Jerry Azumah, just back from his preseason neck injury, returned an interception. The job of the defense was more admirable considering it could barely reach the sideline before being forced to return to the field following each of Quinn's beautifully executed three-and-outs.

It certainly wasn't the fault of Thomas Jones, who continued his renaissance season by rushing for 97 yards despite having no threat of a passing attack whatsoever to keep the 'Skins defense at bay.

Quinn looked completely lost and lacking in confidence. I haven't seen a face of such utter confusion in the Bears camp since Dave Wannstedt was busy grinding the franchise into the ground. And I held vigils praying that such a face would never be witnessed in Soldier Field again. Obviously, that didn't work. (Although, that bit I asked for about Wanny being an utter failure in Miami has come through wonderfully. Thanks.)

The worst part of the Bears' ugly loss is that with upcoming games against the Buccaneers and 49ers, they had a legitimate chance to pick up some wins and become a player in the weak NFC North. Just another pipe dream I suppose. Look, I'm usually the very last person in Chicago to admit that a season is over, but I'm getting there. At least as long as Quinn is around to kill all hope.

Poor guy. I haven't seen a scapegoat so mercilessly bashed in Chicago since Steve Bartman stood up and reached his way into infamy. And Quinn doesn't have the option of skipping town for a spell the way Bartman did. Then again, Quinn will be skipping town sooner than later, though it won't be of his choice.

I had to laugh on the day Rex Grossman was injured and Lovie Smith was asked about Quinn stepping into the starting lineup. "Well, when you go to your backup quarterback, there's a reason he's your backup quarterback," he said.

Yeah, no kidding. Maybe Quinn should be the backup quarterback again.

**
Craig Krenzel?

**
I don't care how bad Quinn is, there is no reason whatsoever for David Terrell to need to be restrained from physically attacking him on the sidelines during the game. That is bush league, and further evidence of what a dickbag Terrell is. I must say, he has quickly become one of my least favorite Chicago athletes. Ever. You can add him to the list - along with Sammy Sosa and Eddie Robinson - of Chicago athletes who need to be shipped out of town immediately regardless of how much money must be eaten or how little comes back in return. Each of these guys' teams are worse off merely by being exposed to their presence. What worse can you say about an athlete? What worse can you say about a person?

**
Speaking of Robinson, in case you haven't heard, he has missed all of preseason, and there have been rumors of him missing the entire season, due to a - and I'm not kidding - stubbed toe. It's true. Look it up.

**
Craig Krenzel?

**
I've specifically tried to not weigh in on the death of Ken Caminiti. He's dead. It's sad. But I didn't know him. Besides, whenever a story emerges and transcends the world of mere sports and dissolves into ghastly tragedy and human folly, there will, inevitably, be a chorus of reactions that fall into one of two annoying categories:

1) The cheesy cries that offer half-hearted, formulaic sympathies for a sad, sad situation and, without fail, eventually touch upon how it's all indicative of a much larger problem, in this case drugs. Blah, blah, blah. (This reaction, more often than not, might as well be phoned in.)

2) The remorseless condemnations of those who preach that a man (in this case Caminiti) who knew what he was doing, who knew the consequences, and chose to selfishly indulge himself anyway, had it coming and deserves none of our sympathy.

Personally, I would lean towards the first reaction, but, like I said, I don't want to comment when - and let me be truthful here no matter how ugly it may seem - I don't really care. Hey, I'm just being honest. Sure, Caminiti's death (and life) was tragic. Sure, it's sad. Sure, I feel for his friends and family, particularly his wife and daughters. But the last thing the world needs is another blabbering yahoo to offer up scripted sorrow as he turns the page of his sports section and never thinks of Caminiti again until the next time an athlete stumbles down a similar path.

I'm not going to fake it.

And I'm certainly not going to figuratively spit on the grave of a dead man, which is exactly what a couple of sports radio personalities here in Chicago have chosen to do. I don't want to mention any names, but Terry Boers and Dan Bernstein, this past week, decided to assert that Caminiti was A) not deserving of the memorial that more than 1,000 people attended last Friday, and B) going to Hell. Technically, they didn't say he was going to Hell, but implied it by saying he was going "someplace else" other than Heaven. Something about Caminiti checking out on his wife and daughters.

Now, while I deplore insincere sympathy and choose to avoid it, I will certainly call out a couple of judgmental dickbags. In fact, I revel in it. I guess it makes me feel a little better about being a dickbag myself. Normally, I like Boers and Bernstein, but these guys really need to come down off their ivory tower (or whatever floor their studio is on) and take a look at this crazy little world we live in where everyone is not perfect, where people have flaws and make terrible mistakes.

Look, Caminiti fucked up. He was a fuck up. He had demons, more than he could handle. He was an addict. He had a disease. He was in a dark place, a place that can be entered by more than just a "bad guy," as Caminiti was dubbed by Boers and Bernstein. Now he's dead. Will his wife and, most importantly, his daughters suffer immensely without him? Of course. But will they forgive him?

I'm thinking they will.

By all accounts, Caminiti was a good guy, and I'll leave it at that. He'll clearly be missed. More than 1,000 people came to mourn him on Friday, and I'm sure they didn't come for the free appetizers. I'm guessing they'll find it in their hearts to forgive Caminiti as well. I'm guessing they already have. Say what you want about the decisions Caminiti made in his life, but the guy was clearly loved by many, even if that doesn't include a couple of judgmental radio personalities in Chicago whose opinions don't mean squat next to those of the people who actually knew the man. I mean, if several of his former Astros teammates can take time off during their first-ever NLCS to mourn Caminiti, I'm thinking Boers and Bernstein can refrain from banishing the guy to Hell.

In the words of another junkie, Kurt Cobain, "Self-appointed judges judge more than they have sold." I'm not exactly sure what that means - shit, Cobain was probably too wasted to know what it meant when he wrote it - but it sounds like it fits.

I think it means something akin to, Don't bash a dead guy. Especially when you didn't know him.

Save the bashing for the true dickbags of the world. Like Kobe Bryant. Go ahead, bash away! And I'll enthusiastically join in!

**
Craig Krenzel?

Thursday, October 14, 2004

But Of Course



It's like the old baseball saying goes, "When things are going bad, fire the trainers." That's exactly what the quick-thinking Cubs have done. This should solve a lot of problems, don't you think?

Meanwhile, new rumors have it that Mark Prior unleashed a few fastballs, and another unnamed player a bat, into the infamous boom box of Sammy Sosa. Yes, the same Boom box that is notorious for filling the Cubs locker room to the the musical musings of Sosa, and only Sosa, regardless of what anyone else says.

Good.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Incoming



vs.



OK, I'll admit. I'm looking forward to this ALCS. Hey, it's the playoffs. I can finally watch these overbearing teams play without feeling like the national media is giving it to me from behind.

Wouldn't The Braves Look Cute In Powder Blue?



What exactly is the Braves' problem? I really need to know. Are they unlucky? Are they cursed? Is there some aversion to professional sports in Atlanta ever being more than mediocre? Or does Bobby Cox just build teams that have very little spine when it counts?

Sure, you could argue that making the playoffs for 13 straight years is nothing to shake a tomahawk at, but the Braves' inevitable collapses are beyond mere coincidence. They've made the act of disappointing a refined science, an experiment mixing predictibilty and ineptness.

My theory? I think they're way too uptight. I'm guessing they're not a very fun to play for. According to my inside sorces (yeah, right)...OK, I've heard that their locker room is like a morgue before and after games. No music. No card playing. No nothing. Just a bunch of studious ballplayers breaking down film, concentrating, stretching. I'm sure Cox likes it that way. Well, I'm sure he prefers it that way. I can't imagine Cox actually liking much of anything.

I'm guessing this ultra-serious approach is both the Braves' key to regular season success, and also their undoing come the playoffs.

Now, I'm not saying every team's locker room should look like an episode of ESPN's "Playmakers," but it might help if the Braves tried being a little less robotic. I mean, has anyone ever seen Cox smile? Ever? The Braves are tighter than shorts on John Stockton. This is never good when it comes time for the big games. They're not loose enough. They have no passion, no heart, no fire. They're all tendencies and matchups, and no instincts, of which "killer" would by the type their most in need of.

In the meantime, they should revert back to their old powder blue uniforms. They're definitely in need of something a little more "cute."

THIS IS A POLL!

Why do the Braves annually exit the playoffs so fast?

A) Well, would you like to leave the South for some place like New York or Boston in early November?

B) They've never had the pitching.

C) Leo Mazzone's constant rocking back and forth on the bench makes them nervous.

D) That damn Indian chant the Atlanta crowd does. It messes up everything! Make...it...stop!

Sosa? Thomas? Pippen? They're Not Tom Waddle



Chicago sports fans aren't hard to please. They really aren't. Over the years, they have witnessed enough heartbreak, disappointment and mind-numbing mediocrity to wisely realize that saving their adoration solely for the supremely gifted and highly successful athlete can be a long and fruitless wait. That athlete seems to rarely arrive, and if he does, he often abruptly leaves in a storm of contract differences with shoddy ownership. Or he's traded. Or I wake up.

Thus, Chicagoans are more than willing to offer their adoration to an athlete far less talented, pretty much talentless even, provided he possesses the qualities they hold dear. Hard-working. Fearless. Humble. And it usually doesn't hurt if he has a mustache, or a last name that ends in "-ski."

It's this exact reason that an unheralded athlete like Tom Waddle, whose NFL career with the Bears was short and far from overwhelming, has stuck around this town as a popular broadcaster. Sure, Waddle was an undersized, largely unknown, not-exactly-speedy wide receiver who struck fear into the hearts of exactly no defense, but the moment he ventured over the middle, hung onto a ball while being clobbered, and was helped off the field in a daze to be administered smelling salts, he became "one of us." When he did it again, we just assumed he was nuts. Chicagoans don't forget these things. These things are all they ask for.

I only mention this because it really places into context the alarming indifference in this town to the trio of Sammy Sosa, Frank Thomas, and Scottie Pippen. Despite the stunning success they each have had over the years, you can't help the feeling that none have ever truly won the hearts of Chicagoans. Stunning.

And last week certainly wasn't good to these Chicago sports legends, was it?

In a span of four short days, Sosa did well to confirm what many already suspected - that he's a selfish egomaniac - by leaving Wrigley Field during the Cubs' final game and then tossing blame for the Cubs' woes at Dusty Baker. Thomas announced that, despite injuring his ankle in June, he only this past week had surgery that will likely cause him to miss the start of the 2005 season. And Pippen quietly stepped up to a podium on gimpy knees and, without much fan fare, announced his retirement, something he probably should have done three years ago, at least, and leaving some to wonder, "You mean he wasn't retired already?"

It's amazing that talk of Sosa being dealt this offseason is heating up (and rightfully so), and the dissenters are scarce. The Sosa supporters are awfully quiet. Maybe they're just at home "drying out" now that the season is over. Normally, a star of Sosa's stature would have the local fans lining up pleading on his behalf to be allowed to retire in the home team's colors. Heck, Walter Payton would have had to defecate on a Bears jersey at the 50-yard line of Soldier Field before fans even considered the possibility of him playing for anyone else. And even then they probably would have forgiven him. This, however, is not the case with Sosa. Far from it.

Sure, Sosa has long been the face of the Cubs, and his famous, mad sprints out to right field to the roar of the bleacher bums, and his effervescent smile, will forever be remembered fondly. But those fans are notorious drunks. They love anybody in a Cubs uniform who looks like he might know which way to run from home plate. More years than not, they're desperate for something - anything! - to cheer for, and Sosa provided a pleasant reprieve to the seemingly endless losing. And that smile of Sosa's seemed to always mask the scowl of a man who needed that attention more than we ever knew, and even resorted to corked bats (and steroids?) if need be in attaining it.

The fact is, Sosa has long been suspected of being astonishingly self-centered, always needing his boom box to be heard loudest in the locker room, fighting with management to have his personal assistant ever-present, hiding personal agendas with managers. Sosa is the type of player who, once the staggering numbers dry up, you offer your thanks and wish him well on his way. This is sad, considering he also played for the White Sox and has been in Chicago ever since he was a skinny youth with geri curls and a mullet. (Now there's a look!)

Is Sosa a Chicago legend? Undoubtedly. Beloved? Not quite.

While Sosa has been the type of player you like but feel that maybe shouldn't, Thomas is the type of player you don't like but feel that maybe you should. Sure, Thomas has made fighting with management an art form, but you can't help but feel that he's harmless behind his unhappiness, that, really, he's a good guy who just lacks maturity and common sense. He signed a ridiculous contract weighed down heavily by incentives, and has been moaning about it ever since. Thing is, he signed it. Nobody else. Continually whining, for years on end, about a piece of paper you signed your name to is not the way to endear yourself to fans. Not in Chicago. Not anywhere.

Few players can divide a team's fans the way Thomas has. To some, he's simply Frank. Good 'ol Frank. And he deserves to wear the Sox jersey for as long as he wishes. To others, he's the very symbol of all that is wrong with the Sox - heartless, selfish, aging – and needs to move on. Mention Thomas' name in a bar, and a heated argument is sure to break out.

The simple truth is, Sosa and Thomas both need to leave Chicago. This would be best for all involved. They both represent chains that are binding their clubs to the past. No matter how many faces change around them, the Cubs will always be Sosa's team, and the White Sox Thomas'. Five, six, seven years ago this would have been fine, but their time has come and gone. It's over.

Personally, I'll be glad to see Sosa go. The sooner, the better. Thomas' departure, however, will leave me sad. I've always liked the guy. Always will. But bridges have been burned, and the years have taken their toll.

Pippen, meanwhile, will always be remembered for the six rings he helped the Bulls win as Michael Jordan's partner in crime. In his prime, Pippen was the very definition of an NBA small forward. He did everthing. I can still remember Pippen hounding Magic Johnson all the way up the court during Game 2 against the Lakers during the Bulls' first title series as the crowd at the old Chicago Stadium stood and roared it's approval. In a weird way, for me at least, that was the symbol of the Bulls official rise to dominance, more so even than any Jordan highlight or Phil Jackson scowl. The Bulls had lost the first game, and many felt, myself included, that they weren't quite ready to match the tradition of the Lakers. At least not yet. But Pippen's dog-after-loose-meat defensive approach, quite literally, was the new guard getting up in the face of the old guard and announcing without doubt that a new era had arrived.

That Pippen will always be loved.

There was, however, another Pippen that always seemed to loom in the shadows. This was the Pippen of the infamous "Kukoc incident" who refused to enter the game if the play wasn't designed for him; the Pippen who demanded trades even during the height of the Bulls' success; the Pippen who had a mysterious migraine during a Game 7 loss to the Pistons; the Pippen arrested for carrying weapons. This was the Pippen who wasn't easy to love.

I can say that Pippen today has seemed to mature immensely. He seems happy, almost always willing to offer an easy smile, not to mention wisdom to the Bulls' youngsters. He seems to have found some sort of peace in his life, and has even mentioned the possibility of working in the Bulls' front office. Hey, I'm all for it. More so than Sosa and Thomas, Pippen may have a long future in Chicago. This is a good thing.

Yet I doubt that Pippen, nor Sosa and Thomas, will ever sit comfortably in the pantheon of unconditionally beloved Chicago sports legends. There's too much baggage there, too many true colors that have left deep stains. First impressions may be the most important, but lasting impressions don't die.

Yeah, time heals all wounds, as they say, and, yeah, as the years pass Chicagoans will slowly black out the bad and smile at the memories of the glory days when Sosa, Thomas, and Pippen were young and great. The passage of time makes you realize that holding grudges isn't worth it.

Yet neither is being a selfish jerk. Just look what it has cost Sosa, Thomas, and Pippen.

Their legacies.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

So This Is My Beef With A-Rod



I know I should like Alex Rodriguez. It's not often a pro athlete combines on-the-field excellence with a squeaky clean image the way A-Rod does. You'd find less wholesomeness at a Girl Scout meeting, and more look-at-me bravado in a nun. His numbers are phenomenal, and his adjustmest to playing third base has apparently gone smoother than Joe Torre's balding dome.

Yup, he's nearly perfect. He's everything the world of sports needs more of.

And I can't stand the guy.

OK, I'm exaggerating...a little. There are certainly others in the world of sports who are way more deserving of any ire. A-Rod isn't a bad guy.

But the fact that he may win a World Series ring doesn't sit well with me. Sorry. It reeks of joining the enemy, of taking short cuts, of selling out. He's a carpetbagger, come to where titles come easiest.

Unless you're a Yankees fan, there is very little of the so-called magic that fans love to be found in A-Rod's story. It's not easy to root for a guy who casually jumps ship to the most powerful organization and then expects us to ooh and aah at how clutch he is in October, a place the Yanks most likely would be with or without him.

When Ruben Sierra hit a three-run homer to tie the game with the Twins on Saturday, the entire Yankees dugout stood and applauded, except for two players who actually ran onto the field. One was Derek Jeter, which is cool. Sure, I'm a little pissed about Jeter undoubtedly hooking up with New York City's finest looking women whenever he feels so moved, but I can respect him. He has long been the Yanks' leader and resident cheerleader. Fine. It gets annoying, but whatever.

The other was A-Rod.

Please.

Go ahead and call me negative, call me a hater, but I have a hard time stomaching the sight of A-Rod suddenly doing his best Jeter imitation and acting as if he's - voila! - the vibrant leader type. There's something disconcerting about watching a guy who could purchase a small country now also being able to wildly celebrate with the big, bad Yankees as another small market team is crushed.

Speaking of small market teams, A-Rod did as much as any player in baseball to damage the state of the game the moment he signed that ludicrous contract with the Rangers, a contract that did plenty to create the obscene gap between the have's and the have-nots.

And now he's joined the biggest "have" of all to satisfy his personal quest for a title. Nevermind all the teams out there who must have heard news of A-Rod's Rangers contract and conceded that they just couldn't compete anymore. Nevermind all the fans of those same teams who can barely muster any hope come spring training because the playing field is so slanted.

Sure, it's hard to blame anybody for taking the kind of money A-Rod was offered. No doubt. But it still seems selfish and short-sighted.

Personally, I think A-Rod sold out hardcore the moment he left the Mariners, who happened to be a helluva team at the time, and signed with the Rangers, presumably for no other reason than Tom Hicks is insane. I mean, A-Rod couldn't have chosen the Rangers to win. The Rangers never win. And he isn't stupid. He had to know that the Rangers would be severely restricted in the marketplace after being forced to sell unnecessary body organs to pay his salary. It seems obvious that he took as much money as he could as fast as he could get it, and to hell with winning.

And then it must have later dawned on him that winning would enhance his pristine image, which he clearly loves to polish. So now he's a Yankee, and we can all watch him enjoy the fruits of his selling out. For the second time.

Me? If I'm A-Rod, I think I'd find winning a ring with the Yankees somehow hollow. Sure, the ring will still shine the same, but, should the Yankees win it all, A-Rod's journey to the top will be lacking something, namely respectability and the satisfaction that comes from earning something without taking the easiest possible route.

Oh yeah, I learned this weekend that A-Rod was also a star quarterback in high school.

Now I really, really don't like him.

Jose Lima Is Funny

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Can Quinn Win? Maybe



I don't know if Bears fans were expecting the second coming of Kurt Warner, but if so, they were doomed to disappoitment.

Johnathan Quinn stepped for the injured Rex Grossman against the Eagles last week and was underwhelming, to say the least. The offense never looked like a threat to go anywhere, his throws were often ugly, and the running game, the strength of the offense, was squashed by a lack of a threatening passing game to complement it.

Naturally, media and fans in Chicago have been quick to drag Quinn over the coals. The general consensus is that Quinn is awful, the Bears season is doomed, and GM Jerry Angelo is a fool for not acquiring a more adequate backup.

Relax.

Quinn deserves time. He deserves a chance, the same chance any first-time starter deserves. Yeah, Quinn is in his seventh year, but he has made only 14 NFL appearances. Essentially, he's a rookie. Not every career backup, when given control of the offense for the first time, is going to burst onto the scene with guns blazing the way Warner did back in 1999. Warner was an anomaly. Rich Gannon and Jeff Garcia, career journeymen who eased into starting roles after long waits, would be better examples of what Quinn and, just as importantly, Bears fans should be hoping for.

If someobody had told you beforehand that Quinn would complete 26 of 43 passes for 215 yards, one touchdown and zero interceptions against the vaunted Eagles, you would have taken it. Sure, Quinn wasn't flashy, but he didn't kill the Bears, which should be the number one goal of any quarterback.

Quinn's most glaring weakness was indecisiveness, or fear of trying to make a big play and possibly making a big mistake. Unfortunately, this wariness resulted in A) an inordinate amount of safe dump passes that gained minimal yardage, and B) passes downfield that lacked all authority. Quinn seemed so fearful of the interception that he rarely seemed to let go and rifle the ball when the ball needed to be rifled. He played, not with instinct, but with detrimental caution. Sometimes you have to take risks to make gains.

Caution, however, is not necessarily a bad thing.

Give Quinn a chance. He's only getting his feet wet. If he continues to avoid killer mistakes, the positive plays will eventually come.

Or at least we can hope.

Potty Mouth



I agree with NASCAR's stance to dock riders points in the standings as punishment for various indiscretions. This is the only true way to hit them where it hurts, even more so than money. (Wait, is that possible?) However, NASCAR's decision to hit Dale Earnhardt, Jr. with a 25-point penalty for cursing on the air seems a tad ridiculous. He didn't curse in anger. He didn't make a show of it. He simply blurted out a comment accidentally in a moment of excitement following a victory. It happens. Nobody was hurt. Nobody was exposed to anything they haven't heard before.

"It don't mean shit right now," Earnhardt said. "Daddy's won here ten times."

Come on, we all heard the word "shit" by the time we were the age of four. We were all using the word "shit" by the age of five. This is no big deal. This will have no negative effect on society as we know it.

Now, if NASCAR wants to levy fines for a grown man using the word "Daddy," I'm all for it. That is simply unacceptable.

Just write "UC"...They'll Know Who You Mean



Well, I registered to vote this past week. Had to. Who else is going to write my name in?

Why Am I Not Surprised?



The Bush administration has been repeatedly touting the Afghan elections as proof of the inevitable rise of democracy in the Middle East following U.S. intervention in the area.

Well, they have to stop. Now.

The first-ever vote in Afghanistan is being boycotted due to suspicions of fraud by all but one of the candidates. The one non-dissenter? Hamid Karzai. Yes, the same Hamid Karzai who has reported ties to the oil company Unocal. Yes, the same Hamid Karzai who was propped up, er, I mean "endorsed" by the Bush administration.

This news of Afghan election shenanigans is about as surprising Colin Farrell bagging another hot chick. Come on, we all knew this was bound to happen. It was inevitable. The Bush administration had the audacity to tamper with the 2000 U.S. election, and is assuredly ripe with devious plans to do likewise next month, so what's to stop it from demeaning the very definition of democracy in a small, troubled, backwoods counry such as Afghanistan.

Nothing.

Naturally, this sad news is just the culmination of an Afghan "election" that saw the countless murders of people for, not actually voting, but for simply helping others to register to vote.

Look, there is no democracy in Afghanistan. If Bush continues to tout the country as a sign of progress he is A) in denial, B) a liar, or C) both.

I'm voting for "C."

(Of course, my vote doesn't count. That's just the way "democracy" works under Bush.)

Sunday, October 03, 2004

From Sudan to Chitown



Here is an interesting story on Luol Deng and his troubled homeland, Sudan. Something tells me this kid will bring a lot of class to Bulls, who sorely need it. Boy, what a pleasant change it will be rooting for Deng after listening to Jamal Crawford complain about shot attempts and playing time for the past few seasons. With guys like Deng and Kirk Hinrich, the Bulls may finally be headed in the right direction.

Loveable? Nah, Just a Bunch of Losers



Just prior to the season I was having a conversation with a friend about the Cubs. Never before had either of us ever witnessed such high hopes surrounding the North Siders. The talk was not just of respectability, not just of a return to the playoffs, but of winning the World Series. Crazy talk? Yes. Yet, at the same time, not quite absurd. As they say, all the pieces were in place.

Yet, I can remember turning to my friend and saying, "You know, I'll bet you that at some point during the season both Kerry Wood and Mark Prior will be on the disabled list...at the same time."

I'm not making this up.

Now, I don't tell you this to give myself props for a sound prediction. I wasn't trying to make an actual wager. I wasn't being overtly negative and pessimistic. (Well, at least I don't think I was.) And I don't know if I even truly believed it.

I just know the Cubs.

The sorry, unlucky, cursed, predictable Cubs.

Little did I know that nearly all of Wood and Prior's teammates, quite literally, would also spend time on the disabled list, nor could I have predicted that Sammy Sosa would be injured sneezing or defend his patented "skip" on balls that fail to reach the warning track, nor that leadoff hitter Corey Patterson would lead the team in strikeouts, nor that LaTroy Hawkins would nearly single-handedly give away the wildcard with blown saves of you-cannot-make-this-up proportions, nor that Moises Alou would accuse umpires of being biased, nor that nearly the entire clubhouse would engage in a lengthy feud with the WGN broadcast team - the friggin’ broadcast team! - for months on end, nor that...

Well, the list goes on. The long, sad list goes on. The list always goes on.

Somehow you knew it was destined going to go down like this, this pathetic collapse, this punch to the gut of Cubs fans who, no matter how many merciless beatings they endure, never feel the pain dim. For every rare journey that nears the summit (i.e. last year's playoffs), there is a swift and painful tumble back down the mountainside.

Always.

Perhaps worse than the sting of another glorious Cubs demise, worse than another summer of nothingness, worse than the punctured hope that pumped with life, however little, right up until the last lifeless out, was the sheer negative aura of these Cubs.

The 'Loveable Losers'? Ha! I would not describe these Cubs as 'loveable.' Heck, they were barely even likeable. These curmudgeonly Cubs were not like past Cubs teams that were so often comprised of castoffs, unknowns, and hangers-on, who inevitably came up short, but were strangely enjoyable in their own inept way.

No, these Cubs drew suspensions for harassing umpires, tritely engaged in a war of words with the Cardinals even as the Cards effortlessly pulled away in the standings, refused to realize that eternally swinging for the fences is not a recipe for winning no matter how many pitching gems were wasted in losses of the 2-1 and 3-2 variety, and - again, this kills me, absolutely kills me - fought with Steve Stone and Chip Carey, the broadcast team, who no doubt were the cause of all the Cubs woes.

I jest. What was that all about?

This almost comical soap opera went on for months. I can understand a player or coach maybe having a problem with something said on the air, but this wasn't just one player or coach, and it wasn't just one incident. No, it was a continuous grudge of laughable proportions, a marathon of pettiness that just begged Cubs fans to stop giving a shit about these jokers, which, of course, they never will. I mean, Kent Mercker was calling the broadcast booth...hold it...hold it...pause for dramatic effect...during a game! Hahahaha! Excuse me while I stop laughing. What a jerk! Heck, Dusty Baker, who just happens to be the manager of this mess, was airing grievances in a meeting with Stone and GM Jim Hendry...on Friday...just prior to game time...against the Braves...with the season on the line. Just to be clear on how absurd this was, Stone, quite amazingly, actually missed the opening segment of the TV broadcast to be in this meeting with Baker, who you would assume should have had his concentration pointed elsewhere at the time. Think about this. Let this sink in.

Talk about mixed up priorities. Talk about a team destined to fail.

Apparently, Baker hasn't appreciated Stone questioning his pitching decisions. I find this odd, especially considering the questioning of a manager's pitching decisions is as American as apple pie. If Baker deplores being questioned, he's in the wrong business, and definitely in the wrong town. You see, when a team goes 96 years without winning a title, its fans (and announcers) will inevitably begin sniffing around for answers. They won't sit idly by. Yes, they will ask questions.

Now, I have to agree with Stone here. I've questioned Baker's pitching decisions, on several occasions actually, but then, I can't find too much fault in a man who had the Cubs five outs away from the World Series a year ago and in playoff contention until the final weekend this year. This kind of success just doesn't happen for the Cubs. Ever. So I'm not complaining. Look, considering the maddening amount of injuries this team dealt with, Baker deserves mad props for not allowing his team to completely fall apart a long time ago. Mad props. And don't you forget it. (Even you, Steve Stone.)

However, this is all beside the point. What could Baker possibly be complaining about? Stone is a color commentator, which means he, uh, commentates. He - get this - talks about the game and offers opinions. Besides, Stone has been doing Cubs games for as long as I can remember. I suspect few people root for the Cubs as much as Stone. He cares. That's all.

I'm surprised Baker hasn't called Stone a racist. Why not toss that card on the table as long as we're in the business of whining and acting like children?

Whatever. Who cares? Thing is, these Cubs aren't - ahem, weren't - even worth getting worked up over. Far from it. Maybe they believed all the preseason hype. Maybe they bought into the idea that they were the team that was finally going to end the endless Cubs woes. Maybe they thought the unconditional adoration of the entire universe was their unalienable right.

Or maybe they just had little class.

Sure, an uncanny amount of injuries worked against them, but, in the end, these Cubs were a slow, trudging, bitter collection of malcontents, too selfish to look in the mirror, too immature to change their ways, too stubborn to admit that, just maybe, their problems were of their own doing.

And just like every other Cubs team for the past 96 years, they were losers.

In more ways than one.

Just In Case Any Cubs Fans Are Interested...

...I'm all about providing services.



Chicago Cubs to St. Louis Cardinals Conversion Form

Thank you for your interest in becoming a member of the St. Louis Cardinals Fan Club. Due to an unprecedented volume of requests, we are currently processing only fan conversion registrations for Chicago Cub fans. Conversion requests from other teams will be accepted once all Cub requests are processed. We expect this to take a number of weeks based on the current backlog of requests.

Please take a few moments to fill out the conversion form below to help us get to know you better and prescribe any required counseling to recover from your previous fan experience.

Name: ______________________________
Last First MI
(Please Print)
Address: _________________________________________________________
# Street

__________________________________________________________
City State ZIP

1. Please indicate the last time you watched the Chicago Cubs win the World Series:
[ ] 1908 (Please leave this form at the front desk of your nursing home)
[ ] Have never witnessed this event

2. Please indicate your favorite moments in Cubs history: (Check all that apply)

[ ] Lou Brock traded to the Cardinals for Ernie Broglio in 1964
[ ] The College of Coaches in the early 60s
[ ] Lee Smith grooving a fastball to Steve Garvey in game 4 of the 1984 NLCS.
[ ] Brant Brown dropping a fly ball in 1998 which forced a 1 game playoff with the Giants.
[ ] Grounder goes between Leon Durhams legs during game 5 of 1984 NLCS
[ ] Fan interfering with Foul Ball during game 6 of 2003 NLCS.
[ ] Leo Durochers AWOL visit to his sons Military School during 1969 pennant run.
[ ] A Black Cat running in front of Ron Santo during critical 1969 series in Shea Stadium.
[ ] Future Hall of Famer Greg Maddox not tendered offer and signs with Atlanta Braves.
[ ] Atlanta Braves featuring Greg Maddox sweep Cubs out of 1989 playoffs
[ ] Don Young dropping the fly ball in 1969
[ ] Mark Grace not tendered offer by Cubs, signs with Diamondback and wins World Series.
[ ] Manager Lee Elias profanity filled tirade at beginning of 1983 season.
[ ] Sammy Sosa getting caught using a corked bat during 2003 season.
[ ] Cubs blow 8 game late August lead and finish 8 games behind 1969 Mets.
[ ] Cubs reliever Dickie Noles drinks full case of beer and attacks Cincinnati police after game.

3. Reasons you believe the Cubs have not won a World Series since 1908: (Check all that apply)

[ ] The curse of the goat
[ ] Lack of managing
[ ] The curse of the goat
[ ] Lack of pitching
[ ] The curse of the goat
[ ] Lack of hitting
[ ] The curse of the goat
[ ] Lack of Defense
[ ] The curse of the goat
[ ] Bad Calls by umpires
[ ] The curse of the goat

4. Have you experienced any of the following after another inevitable Cubs loss: (Check all that apply)

[ ] Headache [ ] Uncontrollable anger
[ ] Heartache [ ] Holes punched in doors or walls
[ ] Nausea [ ] Smashed TV Screens
[ ] Depression [ ] Avoided Cardinals and
White Sox Fans for days

5. Is October your least favorite time of year
[ ] Yes [ ] No

6. Are You tired of saying Wait til next year?
[ ] Yes [ ] No

7. Are you ready to admit that:
a. Stan Musial was better than Ernie Banks?
[ ] Yes [ ] No
b. Bob Gibson was better than Fergie Jenkins?
[ ] Yes [ ] No
c. Ozzie Smith was better than Ryne Sandberg?
[ ] Yes [ ] No
d. Mark McGwire was better than Sammy Sosa?
[ ] Yes [ ] No
e. Jack Buck was better than Harry Caray?
[ ] Yes [ ] No
f. Tony LaRussa is a managerial genius?
[ ] Yes [ ] No
g. The next Cub century will be no better than the last?
[ ] Yes [ ] No
h. The Ivy on the out field walls is ugly and stupid?
[ ] Yes [ ] No

Once you have completed this form, please forward to Busch Stadium. Then burn all of your remaining Cub clothing, memorabilia, and associated reminders. After reviewing your request, the Cardinals Fan Club will contact you with notification of acceptance or rejection.

If accepted, you will receive:

A recommended recuperation program which includes a recording of Meet me in St Louis over and over again;
An opportunity to obtain tickets to the 2004 World Series at Busch Stadium;
Posters of Lou Brock and Bruce Sutter in Cardinal uniforms;
A Dart board sporting the picture of Sammy Sosa;
A copy of our popular handbook, Harassing Cub fans for fun and profit;
A Coupon for a future poster of Mark Prior and Kerry Wood in Cardinals unforms; and
A one year subscription to a weekly support group for ex-Cub fans in your area.

If rejected, you will receive:

Our pity and condolences, plus a 10 second video capturing the past 100 years of Cub highlights in head-to-head competition against the Cardinals narrated by Larry Biitner.

I hereby renounce the Chicago Cubs for all eternity on this the ________ day of _____________________, 200____


___________________________________
(Signed)
____________________________________________________________
(OfficeUse only)


[ ] Approved
[ ] Declined

Saturday, October 02, 2004

This is a Poll!



Well, baseball is coming back to Washington, D.C. On the one hand, it's nice to see baseball, the so-called national pastime, in the nation's capital again. This makes sense. On the other hand, a city like Portland, where major professional sports are at a mimimum, could probably provide more rabid support.

It will certainly be nice to see RFK stadium packing them in again. What a great, and underrated, stadium. The Redskins haven't been the same since they left. Sure, D.C. United still plays there, but MLS games don't exactly get the house rocking. (Well, at least not yet. Patience, MLS fans.)

Anyway, with the team's new name looming, what would your choice be?

A) The Senators - It might be fun to see how many times the "Senators" can fail as a team name.

B) The Grays - Hat tip to the Negro League days. Now, if they incorporate those baggy pants as well, I'm all for it.

C) The Dirty Injuns - This would keep in line with the Redskins theme.

D) The Interns - 'Ladies Night' would be the best.

E) The Liars - Much like the Brewers in Milwaukee or the Steelers in Pittsburgh, this name would have roots in the local work force.

F) The Roids - Ding, ding, ding! I believe we have a winner. The Washington Roids...it just rolls off the tongue, no?