Saturday, February 12, 2005


Dee Brown has found a spot in my personal pantheon of all-time favorite athletes. It's official.

When Brown nailed a pair of three-pointers late in Illinois' 70-59 win over Wisconsin, there was no longer any doubt as to the outcome of this clash between Big Ten heavyweights. Both treys came from well behind the arc and with a defender in his face. The Badgers were hanging on for dear life at the time. The game clock was running out and they needed a stop bad. And Brown put them out of their misery. Twice. Cool as ice.

Brown is all heart and soul, mouthpiece, headband, braids and all. Everything the Illini does beats through him. And Brown loves it. You can tell. Offense, defense, whatever. He loves to orchestrate the mayhem.

The guy who does the arena announcements - what's his official title? - has a fun way of bellowing "DEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE for THREEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!" after each three-pointer by Brown. It's hilarious. You can just tell Brown hears that as be buckles down on defense, as do the rest of the Illini, as does the bouncing crowd, and that's when all the vibes, momentum, and good times are with Illinois. Dee Brown is a warrior and a leader and the whole joint knows it.

Of course, it always helps when Luther Head and Deron Williams are in a groove as well, which is most of the time. Both came up with their share of money moments against Wisconsin, as they always do.

All in all, it was a nice win for the Illini in a game they led virtually the entire way. The lead grew steadily larger as the game progressed. It was the latest textbook win.

Next up is a trip to Penn State, which is awash with rumors that the Nittany Lions might be joining the Big Ten in basketball. I kid, but the game with Penn State, on paper at least, concludes the Illini's toughest stretch in Big Ten play, a stretch that saw them beat Wisconsin (twice), Michigan St., Minnesota, and Indiana. These teams are 2 through 5 in the Big Ten standings, and the Illini escaped unscathed. Impressive, yes, but there's no way to look but ahead.

The stretch run has arrived. March Madness is knocking at the door.



I knew March Madness was just around the corner when I found myself watching games such as Austin Peay-Murray State, Buffalo-Ball State, and George Washington-Richmond with a renewed interest.

Yup, our brains our soon to be overrun by brackets and mid-majors and RPIs - and it couldn't happen any sooner.

In that vein, keep an eye on Wichita State as a Cinderella. Xavier McDaniel and Kevin Willis would be proud.


For all the soccer fans out there, Diego Maradona is looking, ummm, interesting these days...


Kyle Farnsworth is gone.

Does anyone care? I don't. Say what you will about his explosive personality, I can handle that. But Farnsworth was, for the most part, a bad pitcher. He had his moments, but they usually happened in between appearances in which he got rocked.

Perhaps tellingly, my favorite Farnsworth moment in a Cubs uniform was his takedown of the Reds Paul Wilson in 2003. That was, quite possibly, the best ass-kicking I've ever seen a pitcher give a batter who decided to charge the mound. Farnsworth may have killed Wilson if both benches didn't get involved

I love how GM Jim Hendry has systematically removed the renowned "problem guys" on the Cubs roster.

Gone is Sammy Sosa, whose reputation for egomaniacal grandstanding is legendary, and who allegedly continued his repugnant ways when he arrived in Baltimore for the first time and shook off his original ride from the airport to wait for a limo instead. I guess the original car wasn't sufficient enough to haul his spoiled ass.

Moises Alou is gone, no longer around to publicly bicker with the, ahem, TV ANNOUNCERS!

Kent Mercker was bid adieu for much the same reason. I'll give Mercker credit for one thing: when he was calling the TV booth during games to bitch about the commentary, I had to laugh. I really did. That was one of the most asinine things I've heard, yet at the time, strangely, I just had to chuckle. So thanks, Kent. Now get lost.

Finally, Farnsworth has joined them, perhaps to injure himself in Motown by kicking a fan and winding up on the injured list, as he has done before. No, no, no, not a human fan, an electric fan. In the locker room.

Besides, they only kick human fans at basketball games in Detroit.


The Bears brass are pussies. All of them. The McCaskeys are arguably the worst ownership in the NFL - Cardinals fans may disagree after putting up with Dollar Bill Bidwell - and GM Jerry Angelo has no killer instinct.

A month or so ago, the Bears were looking for an offensive coordinator after firing Ron Shea. Norm Chow was out there to be hired. Granted, Chow is unproven at the NFL level, but he would have been the sexy pick. He's been a mastermind everywhere he has coached. His offenses have flourished and put up better numbers than Vijay Singh. If nothing else, Chow would have offered Bears fans some excitement and the possibility that he might be great. It would have been an aggressive move aimed at positive change.

Instead, the Bears went back in time and chose the "safe" pick in Ron Turner, who hasn't coached in the NFL since serving as the Bears OC a decade ago.

Meanwhile, Chow has signed on as the Titans' offensive coordinator.

Maybe this is why a team like the Titans almost annually contends for a playoff position, while the Bears annually jockey for a high draft position.

When will the McCaskey's leave? They must go. Now.

George Halas is surely turning in his grave.


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