Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Skiles Must Go



The Bulls are 0-5 and just one game into their annual early-season, seven-game West Coast road trip. Tonight's game with the equally hapless Warriors may be the best chance the Bulls have to avoid an 0-11 start.

Sound familiar?

For all the high hopes I, along with other Bulls fans had, heading into this season, it's quickly becoming sadly apparent that this season will go much like the last six. Terribly. Nothing appears to have changed except that this Bulls team may lose while remaining somewhat likeable while past Bulls teams lost and were rampant with whining malcontents that did a helluva job of killing off any lingering interest Bulls fans may have been clutching to.

Yippee! Our losers our likeable at least!

That said, I don't think it's too early to fire Scott Skiles. If the worst thing a coach can do is lose his team, it appears Skiles has reached that point. The connection is clearly flickering. Ben Gordon appears to be the latest Bulls player whose distaste for Skiles comes through loud and clear through thinly-veiled passive aggressive comments given to the press.

After Tuesday's 113-106 loss to the Kings, in which Gordon was benched early and never returned, he had this to say when asked about his performance:

"I didn't play. You can't ask that question."

When asked if he thought he deserved a another chance in the second half, it seems obvious Gordon wasn't happy with Skiles' decision to keep him on the bench.

"Why wouldn't I? Obviously, I made mistakes. But who doesn't make mistakes?"

Yep, it looks like Skiles has begun the shredding process of yet another relationship with a Bull, not to mention damage the fragile confidence of a rookie. Skiles isn't very nimble when it comes to relationships, is he?

Comments such as Gordon's are eerily familiar to those made by Bulls players in the past. While no player has come right out and directly criticized Skiles, there has been no shortage of read-between-the-lines innuendo. It seems clear that Skiles lacks any of the necessary communication skills to relate to today's NBA players. He's in the wrong place and wrong time. Maybe even the wrong sport. With his eternally angry mug and fiery approach, Skiles would probably fit in nicely as a football coach. In the NBA, he's a firestarter. He's irrelevent. He's the sound of nothingness hitting deaf ears.

Yeah, it's sad that an old-school, work-your-tail-off-and-shut-up head coach like Skiles is essentially unemployable in today's NBA coaching carousel. It's sad that today's NBA players are so self-centered and pampered that anything resembling tough love is taken as simply unacceptable and an all-out affront to their millionaire selves. It's sad that the inmates, essentially, are running the asylum.

But it is what it is. You can't change the game, you can only adapt to it. Today's NBA is overrun with full-grown babies and grumps who have been told from a very early age that they are superstars and can do no wrong. Skiles' ever-present scowl, which can work wonders for a coach in another situation, is sadly out of place. It doesn't work. Period.

Look, this entire Skiles experiment is going to end badly. Trust me on this. Skiles is not going to engineer a turnaround and become beloved in this town. He's not going to lead the Bulls to the playoffs. Shit, he's never going to reach .500. Sorry to be so pessimistic. Yeah, with guys like Kirk Hinrich and Luol Deng, I fully expect the Bulls to improve and turn the corner. Eventually. This is a positive as I possessed no such hope when guys like Jalen Rose and Jamal Crawford were team "leaders."

However, it's not going to happen on Skiles' watch. It's not.

So the question becomes, Why keep Skiles? If it's apparent that a new coach will be undeniably necessary in the near future, it's best to pursue that future in the immediate present. Why wait? By retaining Skiles, GM John Paxson is merely prolonging the inevitable.

A coach with better pampering skills is needed, maybe someone with a background in elementary education.

Sad.

(Diddy, if you're reading this, feel free to rip Skiles a new one. I'm being way too nice.)

**


In the days before the 2004 NBA draft I was telling anyone who would listen that the Bulls should draft Wisconsin's Devin Harris. I figured it was hard to turn your back on a guy who could play either guard position, takes defense seriously, and whose reputation is spotless.

Instead Paxson drafted Gordon. Now, I'm not giving up on Gordon. Not at all. Five games is obviously way too early to do that. However, it's very frustrating to flip on SportsCenter and see highlights of Harris contributing for the contending Mavericks while Gordon lingers on the Bulls bench and appears to be nearing sulk mode.

Shit, just think of how intriguing Deng and Harris would look next to each other in the small forward/scoring guard spots. Talk about do-it-all versatility and athleticism. It makes me sad just to ponder the lost possibilities. Ah, what could have been.

It's about time people start listening to me, damnit! For fucksake!

**


I find it amusing - amusing in a sickening sort of way - that ABC has the audacity to play dumb and publicly apologize following the outcry of complaints over the Terell Owens/Nicollette Sheridan promo on Monday Night football.

Look, personally, I have no problem with ABC airing material full of sexual innuendo. In fact, if ABC decided to have all the women from "Desperate Housewives" standing on the sideline for the duration of the game in nothing but football spikes and headsets, I'd be all for it. Shit, I'd tape it and edit out all the parts where the telecast dared to switch to a boring football game.

I do, however, have problems with:

1) ABC acting dumb. The executives who came up with this inane promo knew exactly the buzz it would create. Acting as if they had no idea, as if they are shocked by the backlash, is insulting.

2) The involvement of Owens, who has openly bashed gays on more than one occasion. So let me get this straight: The geniuses at ABC take a close-minded bigot (Owens) and reward his hateful, harmful, sexist attitude by tossing a nude hottie in his arms? Shameless.

3) Kids watching at home. Yeah, I'm liberal, and, no, I don't have kids, but ABC is fully aware that young boys watch MNF. Obviously, this has no bearing on the callous a-holes who run ABC. Why avoid explicit references to casual sex when there is a TV show to promote? They probably made sure their own kids weren't watching. Shameless.

4) The choice of Sheridan. I mean, don't get me wrong, Sheridan is a hottie and all, but Eva Longoria was clearly the better choice. Teri Hatcher would have been preferable as well. I mean, what was ABC thinking...

Monday, November 15, 2004

I'm In My Happy Place

Bears 19, Titans 17 (OT)


How good are the vibes surrounding the Bears right now?

Well, when Titans kicker Craig Hentrich attempted a game-winning filed goal with :08 seconds left on Sunday, it was blocked by Marc Colombo. Yeah, the same Colombo who was just activated this very week after spending the past two years on injured reserve. The same Colombo who seemed destined to be yet another Bears first-rounder destined to a career of nothingness. The same Colombo who is actually an offensive linesman.

It was craziness.

If the sight of Colombo, the very existence of whose career has long been held in doubt, playing the role of hero didn't put a smile on the faces of Bears fans everywhere, nothing ever will. Hell, a story like that is feel-good no matter what team you root for. (Titans aside, of course.)

That's exactly where the Bears are at right now. Enjoying the good times. Riding high. Laughing. Loving life. Finding heroes in funny places.

You know things are going good when your offense produces all of one field goal and you win. Yet that's exactly what the Bears did behind Craig Krenzel, who is quietly rivalling the undefeated start of his fellow rookie, Ben Roethlisberger. Of course, nobody is talking about Krenzel, which is clearly the result of the massive Pittsburgh media bias in this country. I, for one, am sick of it. Pittsburgh this, Pittsburgh that. Get over it. Give a city like Chicago or New York some attention for a change.

Krenzel is symbolic of all that the Bears are right now: You're kind of dismayed that he's in there, while at the same time feeling strangely confident, and finding him damn loveable. You also can't believe that he hasn't utterly embarrassed himself as of yet. Watching Krenzel is like walking on eggshells. You keep expecting to fall and crack your skull, but it hasn't happened yet. So you keep your mouth shut and hope for the best. Actually, you just hope that the defense can scrounge up a couple scores, but whatever.

Perhaps it should come as little surprise that Krenzel, of all people, has jumped into the role of savior. Remember, this is a guy who majored in molecular biology at Ohio State, where going to class is frowned upon. He's a little odd.

Still, as delusional as some Bears fans are right now, as crazy a state of euphoria as they're working themselves into, Krenzel is...well, he's not very good. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying he can't become good. But right now the fact that he's A) a rookie, B) a QB from Ohio St., and C) wearing a Bears uniform, automatically precludes him from doing much through the air. And he's not helping matters by making some throws that would make Jonathan Quinn blush.

Thing is, Krenzel is a winner. Straight-up. As bad as he played on Sunday - and, oh, did he play bad - he pulled it together long enough to lead a game-tying drive in the final minutes of regulations that Brett Favre would have been proud of. And somehow it wasn't all that surprising...well, except for the part where David Terrell actually hung onto a pass on fourth-and-2. (It's not often you see a guy drop as many crucial, game-on-the-line-type passes as Terrell did on Sunday.)

Of course, it would be foolish not to praise the Bears defense, which actually did triple the scoring of the offense. The young unit continues to improve, and if it wasn't for a terrible call by the refs on a clear Brian Urlacher interception in the fourth quarter, the Titans don't hit the ensuing goal and the game never makes it to overtime. Bottom line: the defense is winning games by itself right now. Give these guys a halfway decent offense and the Bears are knocking on the door of the Super Bowl. Seriously.

Much props must also be given to R.W. McQuarters who ran back one punt for a touchdown, and had a second called back on a highly questionable call. (I'm not bitching, but those refs in Nashville were some of the sorriest I've seen in awhile.) Admittedly, I've seen McQuarters burned enough in the secondary to want him gone, but the guy can sure return punts.

Bottom line: Lovie Smith has the Bears believing, and the Bears have us fans smiling. There is reason to hope rather than look to next year.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Fuck Eddy Curry



For almost as long as he's been in the league, Eddy Curry has been berated from all sides, somewhat justifiable, somewhat not. He's been accused of being over-weight, a terrible defender, lazy, lethargic, too soft, and the mysterious gunner on the grassy knoll. I used to feel sorry for him. He always seemed like an overall nice guy - quiet, unassuming, harmless. I figured he'd come around, not become round.

Therefore, I defended him whenever his name came up and he was called, to quote what my buddy said yesterday, "a spoiled, lazy, fat piece of shit." Ouch. I kept telling people, "Just wait. He's gonna be a monster." Even as Curry announced this past offseason that he was finally goung to get in shape because - you guessed it - his contract year was coming up, my initial reaction was one of relief, not to mention excitement over what it might do to the Bulls' hopes. Yeah, the irony of his past four years as a fat tub dawned on me, but I was willing to let it slide.

No more. I'm through defending him.

Fuck Eddy Curry.

Curry is spoiled, lazy and fat. I'll refrain from calling him a "piece of shit" as I have a very large readership of kids under the age of 12. Very large.

Curry's latest effort to thwart any momentum in the right direction the Bulls may pick up was to announce - through the media, of course, as keeping it private would have been the smart thing to do - that he's unhappy in Chicago and wants out. He's unhappy. He wants out. He's played one game this year - he missed the first two serving a suspension for bravely punching Brendan Haywood, who was already pinned at the time, in the balls.

I'll tell you exactly why Curry's unhappy. He's unhappy because he shed some pounds and then expected the Bulls to offer him a large contract extension before the season started. Huh? Since when is an athlete getting in shape anything other that what is to be expected for, you know, getting paid? Curry is clueless. It never dawned on him, I guess, that the millions of dollars the Bulls paid him FOUR FUCKIN' YEARS AGO was reason enough to keep away from the fried chicken and remote control.

It never dawned oh him that maybe - just maybe - the Bulls might want to see if his weight loss is permanent, or if it improves his scoring and rebounding outputs, or if it sparks even the slightest interest in him in defense.

It never dawned on him that the Bulls drafted him earlier than most thought he should be drafted because he was the hometwon kid. Sure, it was a PR move by the Bulls, but still. They've been more than patient with Curry as he's over-eaten and under-produced.

Fuck Eddy Curry

If he wants out, send him packing. John Paxson has been doing an admirable job of releasing the dickbags. Rose, Crawford, Robinson. Curry is next and the sooner the better. Let him stuff his face with Twinkies and smoke his pot elsewhere. The Bulls are better off without him.

Kirk Hinrich doesn't need this shit. Neither do Luol Deng, Andres Nocioni, and Ben Gordon. Nether do Paxson and Scott Skiles. Neither do the fans.

Fuck Eddy Curry. Get him the fuck out of here.

Good News Is On The Way

I noticed that Syracuse crushed Northern Colorado 104-54 last night, meaning the college basketball season is officially underway.

And it couldn't have come at a better time.

With John Kerry's defeat, the continuing war in Iraq, the Bears, and the Bulls, there hasn't been much fun to write about lately around these parts (although the Bears are trying, God bless them.) All that should change shortly...




Tell The Truth



There is one element, one necessary fuel, to keep the plans and visions of war-mongering leaders burning strong.

It's not ample soldiers. It's not a large arsenal. It's not even a real enemy. (A perceived one will work wonders.)

It's people. The masses. Without the masses buying into the argument that death and destruction is the way to peace (or any other chosen end), the schemes of would-be conqerors would all be for naught. There can be no bloodshed without the cries for blood.

The above newspaper cover is indicative of so much that is wrong with the U.S. at the moment. It's ugliness cast as beauty. It's death of "the others" cast as the affirmation of American life. It's the utterly asinine belief that in war there are winners and losers. It's America cast as the romping victor crushing all it decides to crush.

And it's so America under Bush. Not to mention dangerous.

How dare the editors of the New York Post, who sit in cozy offices a half a world away from the Iraqi violence and crack jokes to one another about the struggling Knicks or their nagging wives, and then display pure propaganda in the form of news. Marlboro Men kicking butt? What is this, a football game?

Am I unpatriotic for not feeling American pride pumping through my veins when I see this drivel? Should I be ashamed? Exiled?

So many Americans - too many Americans - will have you believe that what our military is "accomplishing" is brave and extraordinary. They will have you believe that we are the underdogs battling against monumental odds and pulling off shocking victories. They will have you believe that the current bloodshed is good somehow, someway, amazingly, overcoming evil. They will have you believe that such a "victory" should be placed in the annals alongside all the other legendary American military successes. Or, maybe, this is just what they want, nay need, to believe.

Bullshit.

It would only be shocking if we didn't waltz into Fallujah and kill and destroy with relative ease. We have all the militaristic weaponry imaginable. The Iraqi insurgents have very little. There is nothing inspiring or feel-good about our so-called win. Nothing at all. It was expected. Inevitable. Preordained. We are the bully. They are the picked-upon. We are big. They are small.

And, besides, how is this a "win"? What exactly have we won? What exactly have we ended? Does this mean American soldiers, not to mention Iraqi civilians, will no longer be slaughtered? Does it mean insurgents will stop crawling out of the woodwork?

Of course it doesn't. We create more enemies, new enemies, worse enemies, by the day.

Fallujah is all for show. It's Bush and Dick Cheney and their willing sidekicks using mass murder to give Americans something to feel good about while, at the same time, scratching their itch to utilize the embarassment of military toys we so calculatingly create. Little more. Unfortunately, many Americans eat it up. Even more unfortunate, people like those who run the Post are in positions to perpetuate the myth and keep America's lust for blood simmering suitably. And, no, this is not an "American thing", it's a "human thing". It's human nature, an innately human quality to dive into "us vs. them" rhetoric, an innately human tendency to believe that somehow "we" are right, and "they" are wrong. We all suffer from it, some more than others.

I don't write this from the viewpoint of a peacenik. This is not some overtly-hippie sentiment that cries, "Why can't we all just get along?" I understand that war is inevitable, at times even necessary and, yes, at times even the right (I use this word lightly) thing to do. (Sudan anyone? Oh, apparently we've forgotten all about that unimportant mess.) Finally, I understand that it's possible, though highly unlikely in my opinion, that positive progress may someday arise from the ashes of Iraq. Places like Japan and Germany come to mind as examples of castles rising from the ruins, but this is a topic for another day.

I also understand that American successes are undeniably favorable to news of American defeat. If our soldiers must be there (do they?), then, yeah, let us all hope they do well.

All I'm saying is, don't disguise the ugly truth (legitimate news) as feel-good propaganda, especially when the initial reasoning behind this entire Iraqi debacle was questionable from the beginning. And, look, the original and ultimate validity of entering into this quagmire was debatable (i.e. shady, circumpsect) and this is hard, cold truth whether you stand on the right, left, in the middle, or couldn't care less.

Report the news, don't sensationalize it.

Yeah, like that's ever going to happen.

Maybe, one of these days, the Post might put a picture like this on its cover...



...or maybe this one...



...but I doubt it.

If you don't mind being disturbed, here are plenty more pictures from our feel-good triumphs.

The pride is pumping.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Nobody To Blame But Himself



There are certain things in Life that you just know are true. O.J. did it. French fries are pointless without ketchup. Mathematics beyond, say, the fourth grade is completely useless.

And big time collegiate football and basketball programs are shadier than the floor of the deepest jungle. Especially football.

Come on, when Maurice Clarett steps forward to level charges of corruption on Ohio St., is anyone surprised? I doubt it. There may be some Buckeyes fans out there who can see no wrong in their favorite team (other than maybe the quarterback position), but the ever-present stench rising from the stadiums of college football's most powerful programs is unavoidable. The underbelly of the beast is a dirty little secret that isn't really a secret.

I don't doubt a single allegation that Clarett offers, despite his being one of the last people you'd want to take seriously. Doesn't matter. Was Clarett given money? Most likely. Cars? Most likely. Was he given fake "jobs?" Most likely. Were his grades given preferential treatment? Most likely. He probably also screwed some cheerleaders, partied in the chancellor's office, and went for joy rides in Columbus cop cars (in the front seat.) He was King, I'm sure. That's what happens when you score 18 touchdowns for a national championship team.

Clarett is also a headcase. Look, he was pampered to an extreme, and now he has the audacity to attempt to drag down the very program that pampered him? Why? Is he bored? Does he miss the spotlight? Is he just an asshole? What is his justification?

This is what bothers me about guys like Clarett: Nobody forced him to rely upon ridiculously stupid classes designed solely to appease rock-head jocks, nor "tutors" who, essentially, did his school work for him. No, he could have put the necessary effort into getting the best possible education he could - all the while receiving all the extras as well, such as cash and cars. (Who can blame him?) Nobody prevented him from being a proper scholar (or at least something close.) Nobody but himself. He could be in his third year on his way to a college degree right now. And all he had to do, when you think about it, is show up to class. That's it. Come on, most college professors will, at the very least, pass you if you act like you care in the slightest.

Clarett could have been a student and a national football star.

But he's not. Instead, he's crying foul. He fucked up the perfect situation - a situation most guys could only dream of - and now he wants to burn everyone. Coaches. Teachers. Tutors. Boosters. Everyone.

That's what this is all about. If you think Clarett is doing this out of some moral obligation to help clean up college athletics, you are way more optimistic and forgiving than me. You're also crazy.

There is a small part of me that wants to feel bad for Clarett over his denial into the NFL draft. But I don't. You know why? Because it's the fuckin' rule! He knew the rule when he decided to ditch class for good and start burning bridges. Pure stupidity on his part. And now he expects us to look upon him as a victim? Hah! Clarett had it all - easy money, cars, fame, talent, and last but certainly not least, a free education. And he pissed it away. Sad. He should have dragged his ass to class and silently enjoyed all the perks.

Lastly, I by no means desire to simply let Jim Tressel and the rest of the Ohio St. coaches off so easily. These clowns are sneaky and dirty, and no better or worse than their brethren at any other major program. Tressell may act dumb, but he oversees the entire operation. He knows what's going on. He knows. He may say he doesn't, but he knows. The entire Ohio St. program seems to be alarmingly rampant with thugs, druggies, and illiterates, and that is a direct reflection on Tressell. (As if those sweater vests weren't already an immediate red flag that something is amiss.) It's becoming quite clear that he cares little about what type of person wears the scarlet and gray, or what those persons do once they arrive in Columbus, as long as they can help him win his precious football games. And keep their mouths shut.

And Miami was royally screwed in the 2002 title game. No doubt about it.

Oh Boy, This Is Gonna Be Fun!



There are few things in this world that give me cheap satisfaction quite like watching Isiah Thomas fail. It's not as enjoyable as sex, but I'd put it somewhere between chicks in halter tops and Twinkies. Am I bitter? A hater? I don't know. I just enjoy it. What can I say?

That said, things are already starting to smell funny in the Big Apple. Over the weekend the Madison Square Garden crowd booed the Knicks in just their second game, and now Thomas is already awash in rumors of a coaching change, most of which center upon him. Things may get ugly. If we're lucky. (Sorry, Knicks fans.)

I can't say I didn't see this coming, but not one week into the season.

Never say that Thomas is slow in his knack for failing brilliantly. Shit, the CBA has been around longer than the NBA and it took - what? - a season for Thomas to drag it to its death bed? (Then he ditched it and let others clean up his mess.) And now Thomas is allegedly looking to bring in Eddie Robinson? Seriously? The thought of Thomas reuniting Robinson and Jamal Crawford is priceless. With Jalen Rose in Toronto, it's like all the self-absorbed ex-Bulls are drifting East. Too bad Buffalo doesn't have an NBA team where they could all meet up in the middle.

I mean, John Paxson was willing to financially bend over and get raped just to get rid of Robinson and Crawford, and now Thomas wants them? Both of them? To join Stephon Marbury, who, if he had more common sense and less ego, would have never left Minnesota? To join an aging Allen Houston?

OK. Whatever. Fine by me.

(Pause while I laugh uncontrollably.)

Isiah was a dirty weasel as a player, and today he's comically inept at anything that doesn't involve him bouncing a ball. And I for one love it. Failure couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

And anyone who reads this knows I'll stand up for a Chicago guy like nothing doing. Not in this case.

Oh yeah, remember that NBA Finals game against the Lakers when he scored all those fourth quarter points while dramatically hobbling all over the court on an allegedly sprained ankle? Remember that? Yeah?

It's called 'milking it'.

Monday, November 08, 2004

The Leash Has Been Removed/Every Empire Falls



Fallujah is currently under heavy siege by predominantly American forces. So heavy, in fact, this attack is said to be the largest American military operation since Vietnam. It's monumental.

Go figure.

BushCo waited less than a week after the election to kick its demented military fantasies into high gear. Without the pesky little problem of public perception altering the polls, BushCo obviously now feels free to raise the mayhem to previously unseen heights. Of course, we are told that the operation is to better prepare Iraq for the upcoming elections, but we all know that isn't true. Look how "smooth" (not to mention predictable) the Afghani election went.

Look, there will be no Iraqi election, no matter how many thousands of people cast ballots. It will all be for show. It will all be a fraud. It will all be for naught.

No, this colossal attack is simply BushCo reacting to, and taking advantage of, its new-found freedom.

Ever watch movies invloving, say, the old British or Roman empires? Those large, dominant empires are always portrayed as the big, bad bullies. They rape, pillage, and conquer without any regard for life. In a movie like Braveheart (my all-time favorite), William Wallace and the undermanned Scots are loveable, the protagonists, while the British are the very essence of evil. We cheer every British defeat, nay death. Wallace is a rebel, a hero, regardless of how much death and destruction he leaves in his wake. We love him. Edward Longshanks I, meanwhile, is the cold, calculated murderer of the masses whose destruction we eagerly await.

Well, we've become those British, my friends. Bush is Longshanks, and all these so-called insurgents are heroes to millions, a la Wallace, whether we want to recognize it or not. We are the big, bad bullies. Maybe we should remember this next time we hear "insurgents" categorized as terrorists. Sorry to disappoint any war-loving, America-is-never-wrong folk, but insurgents and terrorists are not the same thing. They're not.

Terrorists kill because they can, because they want to. Insurgents kill because they've been provoked. And I would consider the bombing of one's city for months on end to be adequate provoking. Hell, I'd be an insurgent myself if I was in such a position.

William Wallace was an insurgent, not a terrorist. Let's not forget that. Let's not forget who the bully here is. Let's not forget who the British are. Let's not forget to look at this from all perspectives.


The Bears Are Back, Baby!

Da Bears 28, Giants 21



Is it farfetched to be thinking playoffs as far as the suddenly rejuvenated Bears are concerned? I think not.

Out of nowhere, the Bears waltzed into the Meadowlands and played their most complete game of the season, throttling the Giants 28-21 in a game that wasn't as close as the final score indicated. It was an ass-kicking. Pure and simple. No doubt about it.

The Giants scored two early touchdowns, both of which were the result of ridiculously good field position rather than the result of sustained drives. They also scored a touchdown late in garbage time. In between, the Bears put on a display of defensive dominance that would have made their predecessors from the 1980's proud. D-coordinator Ron Rivera is obviously channelling the spirit of his teammates on the '85 Bears.

Dogs after loose meat, baby!

For a long stretch, I wouldn't be exaggerating in saying that virtually every Giants offensive play ended in a sack, fumble, interception, stuffed run, a wide receiver getting viciously clocked, or Kurt Warner looking like he was ready to cry. Five turnovers. Seven sacks. It was a beautiful thing. Complete and utter dominance. The only thing the scene was missing were camera shots of Warner's wife looking distraught. That could have been fun. I mean, there was almost an Eli Manning sighting as Warner continually showed that amusing face of utter confusion that marked his last two seasons in St. Louis. You know the one. It screams, "Man, I wish it was still 2001!"

Thing is, this Bears defense is being led by the new breed. Guys like Alex Brown, who is finally living up to his potential and had four - four!- sacks yesterday. (I'll admit I had almost given up on this cat.) Guys like Nathan Vasher, who seems to gravitate towards loose balls like Paris Hilton's underwear to the floor. (Any floor.) Guys like Tommie Harris, who will be considered heavily for defensive Rookie of the Year. (Many Pro Bowls in his future.) Guys like Hunter Hillenemyer, who actually played football at Vanderbilt. (Think about that for a second.)

Of course, Brian Urlacher is still the ringleader despite playing on a gimpy hamstring. As much recognition as he gets, he's still entirely underrated. No matter how low the Bears go, the defense always performs admirably. And he's the reason for that. When Charles Tillman returns in a few weeks, the Bears may have the best young unit in the NFL. Am I being over-excited? I don't think so. I really don't. These guys are young, hungry, and improving. And, damnit, they're already good.

Meanwhile, Craig Krenzel just wins, baby. He may offer some of the ugliest quarterbacking this side of a Miami Dolphins signal caller, but he avoids mistakes and even occasionally completes a nice pass, a whopping eight of them against the Giants. His teammates respond to him. He's a leader. Most importantly, he's not Jonathan Quinn. (I am presently undergoing a very rare Oriental therapy to remove all Quinn memories from my psyche.) Naturally, being a Bears quarterback and all, Krenzel injured his ribs in the game and is questionable for this Sunday. Go figure. But I doubt he'll miss the start.

I would be remiss not to mention the job Anthony Thomas has done in place of the injured Thomas Jones. More than 100 YPG. He could have easily shut it down when he was virtually forgotten early in the season. Instead, he proved to be a team-first guy, and capitalized on his opportunity when it arose. It astounds me that A-Train and David Terrell both came from Michigan in the same rookie class.

A-Train = class act
Terrell = tired act

(In Terrell's defense, he did manage to catch some balls without lapsing into celebratory convulsions.)

Honestly, I don't think the playoffs are completely out of the question. Realistic? No. Impossibe? Certainly not. Let's look at the remaining schedule:

At Tennessee (3-5) - Without Steve McNair, the Titans are one of the NFL's bottom feeders. Hard to believe coming from a Jeff Fisher team. But true. Prediction: Win.

Indianapolis (4-3) - With a win over the Titans, and a chance to reach .500, Soldier Field will be simply riotous. Urlacher and the boys will be chomping at the bit to get after Peyton Manning. Prediction: Win.

At Dallas: (3-5) - Bill Parcells can only be wishing he had some Quincy Carter/Michael Irvin-types doing coke after practice...and winning. Prediction: Win.

Minnesota: (5-2) - The Vikes should be well into their annual late-season dive by this point. Prediction: Win.

At Jacksonville (5-3): No Byron Leftwich? This ship, once promising, may be sinking. I don't even know who the backup is. Prediction: Win.

Houston(4-4): The Texans have no doubt improved, but a Texas team coming North in December is never a good thing. David Carr is too pretty. He needs to be messed up a bit. Prediction: Win.

At Detroit (4-4): It's the Lions, for crying out loud. Enough said. Besides, I have $50 and a hoodie riding on this game. They gotta win! Prediction: Win.

Green Bay (4-4): A season-sweep of the hated Packers will be sweet. Prediction: Win.

So there you have it. I'm envisioning 11-5. Shit, it's practically etched in stone.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Bush Makes Me Sick - Literally



The arrogance, corruption and smugness of George W. Bush and the rest of his unbearable administration has shrivelled up into a not-so-tiny ball and manifested itself in the form of a tumor in the pit of my belly.

The bastards!

I've heard plenty of people say that the policies and practices of the present Bush administration make them sick. Hell, I'm sure I've said it myself. But I never planned on my distaste for all things Bush causing a possibly cancerous tumor to grow within me. Yet here I sit, getting ready to head to a hospital to undergo a biopsy as words like "cancer", "surgery" and "chemotherapy" race through my head with the speed of a Republican smear tactic.

You see, to make a long story short, about a year ago the bottom of my stomach began hurting. Initially, I thought it was an ulcer or a hernia, which aren't fun, I'm sure, but bearable in my estimation. I don't like hospitals and, since I like to consider myself a tough guy (yeah, right!), I dealt with the nagging, but bearable, pain and thought little of it, even as I noticed a bulge that seemed to come and go occasionally.

Recently, my right side (in what I estimated to be the location of one my kidneys) began hurting as well. On Tuesday afternoon I decided to go to an emergency room and have it diagnosed. My guess was that it might be a bladder infection. I figured I'd wait around for a few hours, get a prescription, and watch everything clear up in a week or two. I'd also be home in time to watch the election unfold.

Instead, I ended up in the unfortunate position of a doctor standing above me, a wide-eyed look of shocked concern on her face, feeling at a hard mass at the bottom of my abdomen. Believe me, the last thing you want is for a doctor to begin calling over other doctors and saying things like "Feel how large and hard it is!" or "How long has it been like this?" You also don't want a doctor to say things like "I don't want to jump to any conclusions until I run some tests" when asked by you what you think the lump might be.

But I'm not stupid. I knew what they thought it might be. My suspicions were confirmed when a nurse said, upon the doctors leaving the room, "I don't want to scare you, but I'll ask you something since the doctors will ask you anyway: Does cancer run in your family?"

It doesn't. Yet there I was suddenly giving blood tests, taking X-rays, and even going back and forth in a cat scan machine. The worst part was that, between the different tests, I was able to catch the election coverage on television. Everytime I checked in, Bush was closer and closer to defeating Kerry, and the pain in my stomach seemed to rise in unison.

I left the hospital and returned home as the final votes in Ohio were still being counted, but the decision no longer looking in doubt. It had turned into an altogether dreary night. I returned to the hospital on Wednesday to get the results of the cat scan and was told that, yes, there is indeed a large tumor within me and that, yes, it could be cancerous. Interestingly, at the exact moment I was being informed of this shockingly bad news, I could barely hear a television in the nearby waiting room. I heard that presidential song (you know the one) and, moments later, the voice of Bush offering his victory speech.

"The world is going to Hell," I said to the doctor.

So now it's Thursday morning and I'm about to leave to be admitted to another hospital that is better equipped. I face the prospect of being cut open twice, once for the biopsy and again to remove the tumor whether it's cancerous or not. All I have to say is, there better be some hot nurses in skimpy work uniforms, just like in the fantasies of a million men.

There is no explanation for this. Every doctor I've talked to has said that I'm way too young for this possible form of cancer, thus giving me hope that it's merely a pesky tumor that can be removed, tossed out, and forgotten forever. Maybe that's all it is.

In the meantime, I'm proud to report that my disgust with the Bushes has failed to waver. It still burns brightly. So much so in fact, that when I see a shot of Barbara Bush, inexplicably smiling at her collection of sons who are liars, cheats, and failures at everything they touch, there is a part of me that wishes she would die. I admit it. I'm not proud, but I can't deny the anger within. Fuck her. You know? I'm sure she considers herself and her family some sort of American royalty, above the masses of Americans, and that bugs me. That really bugs me.

In fact, that's what bugs me the most: the thought of Bush, Cheney, and the rest their cohorts lighting cigars and thinking themsleves so smart and successful. It eats at me. It builds in my belly. Literally. It's hatred, and that can't be healthy.

You see, I may have selfish reasons for my Bush bashing. Being young, single, and childless, I don't have much reason for concern about taxes, education, social security and the like. It's not that I don't worry about such things. I do. There are millions of people in situations that require much more responsibility than mine, particularly families. And I have no faith that this administration has any clue how, nor a motive to, adequately address the concerens of America.

But whatever. I digress. My mind is racing. Hopefully, this thing in my stomach is nothing. Hopefully, I'll be back to normal in a matter of days. If not, oh well. Fuck it. I'll see you in the next world, don't be late. (OK, OK, maybe that's a tad overly-dramatic.)