Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Breakthrough on the Road



Roughly midway through the first half of Illinois' game at Wisconsin last night, it looked like it might turn into a typical road debacle in the Big Ten.

The Illini trailed 24-13. James Augustine was sitting on the bench in foul trouble. Dee Brown was quiet. The Badgers fans were loud and getting louder. Brent Musburger was madly babbling away. Steve Lavin was checking his hair. It was business as usual in the Big Ten.

In other words, the Illini looked to be in trouble. Big Ten road wins this year, particularly among contenders, are more rare than fresh speech rhetoric from George Bush, and it was becoming dangerously close to looking like this night would be no different.

So what did the Illini do? Well, they did what they always do when push comes to shove - they played lockdown defense. The result? They turned the 24-13 deficit into a 32-24 lead before Wisconsin scored again.

Filthy. Absolutely filthy. That'll shut up a home crowd. Every time. Like clockwork.

The final score was 66-51, and for those of you keeping score at home, that's a 53-27 closing kick for Bruce Weber's team. Not bad, especially considering that the Illini remain the only Big Ten team to win at Wisconsin in Bo Ryan's five years as coach. And with the Illini's only two losses this season coming at Iowa and Indiana, and both pillars of frustration, the win on the road was a welcome breakthrough.

The most pleasant aspect of the night? The continued emergence of both Rich McBride and Brian Randle. Both have been more active offensively lately, and Randle is becoming a beast on the boards. And Jamar Smith remains deadly from the outside.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, the fate of the Illini rests with how much support Brown and Augustine get from the rest of the crew. We all know what the Big Two are going to deliver.

The rest of the Illini? They're coming around.



Between the Illini game, the Bulls game, and George Bush spewing pointless filth at the American public, I didn't catch much of the DePaul-Georgetown game. In fact, the first time I turned it on, the Demons trailed 18-2. I watched for about 30 seconds and that was all I could stomach.

Media Day Madness


"Yeah, your gun is OK. Don't sweat it. This is Detroit."



"Hey, I don't know if you guys are aware of this, but I'm actually from Detroit originally?"



"Who farted?"



"Uh, well, no, technically I don't know anything about appearing in a Super Bowl, but I won the Grey Cup a few times. Wait, where are you going'? Hey, I once passed for 500 yards. No, not in Canada. In the NFL!"



"..and then you handcuff this arm to the bedpost like so and..."



"Yeah, I can't believe I'm here, either."



"I never want to forget my final days as a Seahawk."



"So Ford Field security was hassling me on the way in today and I was like, 'It's me! Matt Hasselbeck. I'm the starting quarterback for the Seahawks. Seriously, I am!'"



"These reporters have no fuckin' idea who we are, do they?"


Ah, the madness...



...and not a single non-cliche spoken, I bet.

Illinois-Wisconsin Halftime Update



The Illini closes the first half on a 21-4 run and lead 34-28.

And the colored girls go

Doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo
Doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo
Doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo
Doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo
(doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo)
(doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo)
(doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo)
(doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo)
(doo)


And the Unknown Column says, "Fuck, yeah."

Keep it rolling, baby.

(Editor's note: This was the most useless post ever. Another Red Stripe, Johhny Five!)

Media Madness



So I'm flipping radio stations yesterday and I stumble upon Mike North's show and he was playing a montage which combined several Kid Rock and Eminem songs. I guess it was in honor of the Super Bowl being in Detroit. Being a fan of both, I enjoyed it. However, while I realize North appears to think about little more than sports (which I can relate to and don't mean to criticze him for), and I'm not even going to mention Motown or the MC5 or even Bob Seger, but, for the love of all that is holy, someone please tell North that, even if he's only playing Detroit music from the past five years, the White Stripes are the best rock band going at the moment - period - let alone simply out of Detroit.



Also yesterday, I caught Screamin' A. on ESPN News. He was being interviewed by one of the lesser-known talking heads who aren't quite ready for the big time of the mother channel. A blonde dude. I don't know his name. Anyway, the dude starts asking Screamin' A. about Kobe Bryant's appearance on his show. He wanted to know what Bryant said. (Why? I have no idea. But whatever.) Screamin' A. starts being a dick, avoiding the questions, and, generally, being a smartass. At this point, the ESPN News dude is visibly upset, which was understandable considering he's on live national television and he can't get an answer. Screamin' A. started saying something about how if you wanted to know what Bryant said then you'd have to watch his show.

Now, my question is this: Screamin' A does realize that ESPN is giving him a paycheck, right? He does realize that ESPN and ESPN News all fall under the same umbrella, correct? And most importantly, does he realize that nobody watches his show? Maybe someone should pass along the ratings and keep him abreast of the situation.

Answer the damn question.



Today, perpetual wet noodle at the Tribune, Rick Morrissey, wonders if Chicago can ever become a White Sox town.

Ah, where to begin. First of all, let me just say, well, how should I say this? Oh, WHO FUCKIN' CARES?

Some people like the Sox, some the Cubs. There is no such thing as Chicago being this town or that. It is what it is. Do the Cubs have more fans? Probably.

But again, SO FUCKIN' WHAT?

Let me just break down ths drivel in parts...

A fan asked me at SoxFest whether Chicago is becoming a White Sox town. I asked him how much longer the morphine drip would be attached to his arm.

Oh, good one. Get it? Because the idea that the World Series winners might continue to capture the imagination of Chicagoans is so utterly preposterous that anyone who dares think it must surely have intravenous drugs coursing through their veins. I'm laughing already. (Not really.)

This is a conservative guess, but I'd say that for every Sox fan in town there are three Cubs fans, and that the ratio is much, much higher outside the greater Chicago metropolitan area. Doesn't mean Cubs fans are better fans, just that there are more of them.

Well, I don't want to get into the semantics of numbers, so I won't argue this. All I ask is that Morrissey end his whining here. I mean, there are few things more pathetic than a Cubs fan who attempts to diminish the Sox title by playing the "Yeah, but the Cubs have more fans" game.

Damn, he keeps going...

So that's a lot of ground to make up for the Sox, and if you were to pin me to the wall, I'd say that Chicago won't turn into a Sox town in my lifetime. Then again, if I continue to insult the Sox and Kaplan, my lifetime will last only another week, tops.

Ah, yes, there it is. The insinuation that Sox fans are a bunch of South Side thugs prone to agression and violence. You see, it's at this point that Morrissey crosses the line from being a dude who might just be writing a column his editors asked him to write, to being douchebag.

According to reports, the ticker-tape parade celebrating the Sox's World Series title attracted 1.75 million people. The crowd contained Sox and Cubs fans alike, most of them united in their embrace of a champion.

If the Cubs were to win a title, it would make the Sox's parade look like the Oak Lawn 4th of July parade. But that's like saying, "If Charlie Brown were to kick the football …"


Gee, Rick, you just had to get a dig in, didn't you? That whole Sox parade thing is killing you, isn't it? Nevermind that the Sox parade attendance dwarfed that of the Bears Super Bowl parade - in an undeniably Bears town. No, you assure us that a Cubs parade would make that of the Sox look like chump change. You're all class, Rick, all class.

This is a Cubs town and will be as long as people keep shelling out money to watch the world's longest running sob story. Disappointment has been handed down from generation to generation, so much so that feeling disappointment is as natural as having two arms and two legs.

Chicago will not turn into a Sox town any time soon, if ever.


Wah, wah, wah, wah, wah, wah, wah, wah, wah!

It's not their town yet, but they're working on it, one headline at a time.

So, after all the drivel, Morrissey's giant conclusion is that if the Sox keep winning, they'll attract more fans.

Wow. Bravo. I tip my hat. That's genius. Sheer genius. Morrissey must stay up all night thinking this stuff up.

You know, I think I liked Morrissey better last week when he was poo-pooing the NFL playoffs and labeling them as boring. Jeez, get this guy a stiff drink already. I wonder if the dude reads Sylvia Plath and contemplates sticking his head in the oven.

Night of Big Games



Bulls at Mavericks

The Bulls open up a seven-game road trip out West tonight in Dallas. This can be looked at in two possible ways...

1) Bad timing. Spurred by the rejuvenated Tyson Chandler, who has been a double-double machine of late, the Bulls have won four in a row and five of six. Things are looking up, but keeping the good vibes going will be difficult away from the United Center.

2) Perfect timing. Hey, if you have to go out on a lenghthy road trip, you might as well do it when you're playing well, right?

Whatever. Just win, baby.



Illinois at Wisconsin

The Illini's only two blemishes this season have come on the homecourts of Big Ten contenders, Iowa and Indiana. If Dee Brown and Co. want to take things to the next level, they'll need to learn how to win when the world is against them, as it will be tonight in Madison.

The last thing the Illini wants to do is get into the mode of relying on Brown to hit all the big shots. James Augustine needs to be a beast inside and avoid foul trouble, and added scoring needs to be supplied by someone other than the big two. Brian Randle? Jamar Smith?

Whatever. Just win, baby.

**********

Tuesday's college basketball action...

Illinois at Wisconsin. Badgers are reeling, having lost three of four, including one to the North Dakota School of Hair. Illinois has to prove it can beat a good team on the road.

Pittsburgh at Connecticut
. Big East heavyweights. Carl Krauser will tell Rudy Gay postgame stories of playing against his dad back in the day.

Georgetown at DePaul. This used to be one of the best rivalry games in the country back in the '80s when both were on top of the college basketball world. It's good to see it back. (Personal note: Watching the Demons take on Patrick Ewing and the Hoyas is probably my earliest basketball memory. It almost brings a tear to my eye thinking of the state the Demons are in. Give me a moment. Sniff. AWAKE THE ECHOES!)

Northern Iowa at Creighton. UNI makes its first-ever appearance in the polls this week, but it might not be a long stay. Tough road test here. Creighton already won at UNI a few weeks ago.



Tonight's likes...

Illinois (PK) at Wisconsin. I'm keeping the faith.

Lakers (-5.5) at Knicks. Has Isiah Thomas been fired yet?

(Note: I'm avoiding the DePaul-Georgetown game because I refuse to bet against the Demons, but a little birdie told me that the Hoyas look nice at -5.5. I ain't sayin', I'm just sayin'.)

January record: 22-15

Monday, January 30, 2006

That Is All

Bustin' Brackets



The schedule for the Bracket Buster games, which was a great idea by the way, has been announced and Southern Illinois will play Louisiana Tech, which features one of the most underrated players in the country, Paul Millsap. I don't want to compare Millsap to Karl Malone during his days at Louisiana Tech, but the dude is putting up some great numbers (20.7 ppg, 12.7 rpg) and the Bulldogs are atop the WAC. Millsap went for 27 and 12 against Memphis, so you know he can get it done against the big boys. Should be fun.

Incidentally, the Missouri Valley conference is young and may be even better next year. Not bad for a conference currently rated fifth best in the nation and threatening to send four teams to the tourney.

Bengals Are Cursed



Ah, yes, this must be exactly what Bengals fans needed during Super Bowl week - memories of Stanley Wilson's fun-filled night of coke and hookers in Miami. (Ickey Woods is still so pissed about that.) It's a good thing the Bengals didn't actually reach the Super Bowl, or Chris Henry allegedly being busted with a gun in Florida would have been a much juicier story.

This is ridiculousness. I don't get it. Funniest of all, Henry was wearing his own jersey, which is kind of weird. Not as weird as waving a gun around, but weird.

I'm envisioning Marcus Vick throwing passes to Henry in the Arena League in a about five years.

Meanwhile, the growing Bengals curse grows. After Carson Palmer's knee was destroyed, this is quickly becoming one of the most disastrous offseasons by one team in recent memory. I'd hate to be the Bengals upcoming first-round pick. I'd holdout.

The saddest part of the story may be that Henry showed definite positive signs in his rookie season. I had the dude on a fantasy team and he was solid for me all season. He wasn't spectactular, but he was steady, and was a pleasant surprise after Terrell Owens fucked me over. Not bad for a guy playing behind Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh.

Henry has talent. Then again, it's not like you couldn't suspect this of him coming out of West Virginia. Maybe Kevin Pittsnogle should talk to him.

Nerd!



Jerome Bettis cannot be happy about this photo floating around. By the way, did you hear Bettis grew up in Detroit?

I caughta glimpse of Matt Hasselbeck doing a press conference, and he definitely should be rocking something like this on his bald dome...



Hey, Steelers fans...

BOO!


Fuck, Yeah!



"Fuck, yeah!"

Works For Me



Tony Kornheiser's name has been mentioned as a possibilty in ESPN's Monday Night Football booth. This could be a very good thing. I've always regretted that I wasn't around to witness Howard Cosell in his prime on MNF, and Kornheiser leans in that direction in that he's a personality more than a football expert. You know, except for the whole pissing-people-off thing.

And so what if Kornheiser never played or coached in the NFL?

Listen, I'm never going to play in the NFL. At least I don't think so, althoug I'm fairly confident the Texans could use me. I only want to watch the NFL, and maybe place a few bets. As interesting as the Cover Two is, I don't really see much need for myself to have it broken down like JFK's final moments. I think the football knowledge I have accumulated over the years, which is somewhere between my cat's and Bill Belichik's, is more than enough for me to enjoy a game. Too many X's and O's bore me. Hell, why not just ask me to wake up at four in the morning to break down gamefilm?

Just make me laugh once in a while. Please. Kornheiser already does this, both on television and radio, so I'm confident he can do it for a few hours on Monday nights, although I'll probably be in a bar with the volume down, but you know what I mean. In fact, why not just bring Michael Wilbon along? The banter between him and Kornheiser is one of the few enjoyable moments ESPN has to offer these days. I think I could get by with them goofing on an NFL game.

Make me laugh.

Yeah, I was probably one of few people who enjoyed Dennis Miller's stint on Monday Night Football. (Ok, sort of. Well, not really.) And while I'd like to say it's because I got every last obsure reference he made, that would be a lie. I'm just as dumb as all the rest of you clowns. I just like the feeling that someone is screwing around like a bunch of dudes watching a game in a living room or a bar.

Make me laugh. Al Michael's hair plugs arent doing it anymore.

Salukis Getting Some Love



The Tribune gave Southern Illinois all kinds of love today. Front page billing with a big color photo and everything. It's about time someone gave the Salukis the major props they deserve. They've been underrated and underappreciated long enough. The Unknown Column is pleased.

Keep it rolling, baby.

The Trib also ranked the twelve Division One programs in Illimois, with the Illini and Salukis heading the list. DePaul was ranked - gasp - sixth. There is something drastically wrong with this picture. This is alarming, distressing and absurd. Ray Meyer cannot be pleased.

Football Fix



I admit it. I'm an Arena League fan. Call me crazy. Call me a football junkie. Call me a dude who needs to get a life. But I'm a fan. The saddest part? I can remember watching the old Chicago Bruisers back when the AFL had about four teams. Yes, there is something wrong with me.

But come on, you must admit the Arena League keeps things interesting. Yesterday the Rush played at Colorado, which with an eye on the salary cap, suited up only one quaterback, John Dutton. One! Oh, and you better believe I was hoping Dutton lost a finger or an eyeball or something, just so I could see what they would do next.

I mean, John Elway was at the game and it's obvious he takes this whole Arena thing very seriously, and if Elway takes it seriously, I think the rest of us mortal peons can, too.

It doesn't hurt that the Rush's mascot is named Grabowski. Mike Ditka's fingerprints are all over the franchise and that's a good thing. (Speaking of Ditka and the Grabowskis, this classic music video is a must see.)

The Rush lost 65-56 when Colorado scored a touchdown with one second left. Last June, the Crush defeated the Rush 49-43 in overtime in the American Conference Final to advance to ArenaBowl XIX. Nice little rivalry brewing. The Rush also has six consecutive playoff seasons going as well as two straight conference finals appearances. Along with the AHL Wolves, it's quietly the most consistent pro franchise in Chitown.

I'm a fan of that, too.

**********

Monday's college basketball action...

Louisville at Villanova. Nova has already won in Freedom Hall. But a win here could be a nice way for Louisville to get on a roll. I love how Pitino has been saying his old Providence teams were better than his team today. Anyone who saw Billy Donovan in short shorts might disagree.

Florida A&M at Ohio State.
This is a weird game for the Buckeyes to schedule in late, late January, and that's all I have to say about that.

Texas Tech at Kansas.
The Jayhawks win in Ames on Saturday was a bit impressive. Not that Iowa State is great, but not an easy place to play. The freshmen Jayhawks may be coming around. Julian Wright, what are you doing in Bible-thumping Kansas, baby? You break my South Side heart. Please tell me someone has made the Sasha Kaun = Chaka Khan joke. Too easy, right?

Sasha Kaun


Chaka Khan




Tonight's likes...

Grizzlies (-7) over Rockets.

January record: 21-15

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Another Red Stripe, Johnny Five



Oh, this is great. I need me one of these.

I Love This Guy



Look at the above picture. Look at it. Just look at it!

I stumbled upon the pic and would have been remiss not to share it. Nikolai Valuev appears to be only borderline human. The dude is an animal, even if his boxing skills struggle to live up to his abnormally monstrous stature.

To wit, Valuev's last fight, won in a majority decision over John Ruiz, was surrounded in controversey, meaning it must have been close. Listen, if a guy is holding the size advantage Valuev clearly was in that fight, and he can't win decisively, preferably via knockout, I'm thinking he's not exactly the most polished of boxers.

But so what? Valuev is 44-0 with 31 knockouts. More importantly, he's a story. The heavyweight division needs a story or two, and has for years now. Where have all the heavyweights gone? Where has all the interest gone? Valuev will fight American Owen Beck in April. I don't even know who Beck is.

If nothing else, the longer Valuev remains unbeaten, the more interesting he'll make the heavyweight division. And this is most definitely a good thing.

And it doesn't hurt that his story is strangely reminiscent of a Hollywood tale. Life imitating art...

It's Official



I mean, it's really official. So let there be no more argument about it ever again. The Unknown Column refuses to hear your paltry protests.

Fuck Jay Mariotti



It's been a while since I felt the need to bash the unwelcome pimple on the ass of Chicago sports that is Jay Mariotti. Truth is, I've been reading the Trib of late and thus avoiding the awful stench that the powers-that-be at the Sun-Times continue to place directly inside the front page of the sports section and then justify Mariotti's continued employment by saying, "Yeah, but he illicits a reaction, good or bad."

Uh, note to the Sun-Times: People don't open up their sports section to be pissed off. If they're reading Mariotti, it's because his unfortunate drivel is plastered right there where it's unavoidable.

Anyway, after catching Mariotti's column this morning for the first time in a while, it's easy to see he is still a clueless blowhard destined to do little more than bash people, most likely to compensate for low self-esteem or a small penis.

His target today? Frank Thomas.

Yeah, that's right, Thomas. The dude is officially gone, having signed with the A's earlier this week, and Mariotti felt compelled to take out the knives one last time on a Sunday morning. One more hatchet job for the road, I guess.

Look, did Thomas say some dumb things this week? Sure. He always says dumb things. It was Frank being Frank. Frank will always be Frank. Always.

Did anyone really expect Thomas to leave town without getting in one last mention of how he feels disrespected? Is anyone really surprised that he questioned the White Sox chances to repeat? And really, who can blame him for wondering why he was replaced by Jim Thome, another aging slugger with injury concerns?

No, no, and I can understand.

Frank being Frank.

So fuckin' what. Thomas lacks the filter that most people possess that differentiates what we feel with what should actually come out of our mouths. Yeah, we get it.

There are plenty of bigger stories going on in Chitown right now. SoxFest is going on and it sold out and Sox mania is out of control, but, hey, why should Mariotti write something positive about his least favorite team when he can ignore the good and instead focus on the bad?

Meanwhile, the Bulls have won five of six and are about to embark on an ultra-important six-game Western road trip. Illinois and Southern Illinois have the longest homecourt winning streaks in the nation. Hell, the Rush begins its season today in the increasingly popular Arena League with an eye on the title it has competed for in six consecutive playoff seasons.

But what does Mariotti choose to do? He gets in one last FUCK YOU to Thomas. As if we haven't heard it all before.

Fuck you, Mariotti, you frumpy fuck. Your approval rating in Chitown is roughly 2%. People don't like you. You inspire little more than a shake of the head or a yawn. You're irrelevent.

You think I'm exaggerating? Think about this: After all the years you've spent writing about Chitown sports, you could leave today and, other than a handful of misguided souls, nobody would care.

Yeah, it's true. Believe me.

Way to go, champ.

**********

Sunday's college basketball action...

Indiana at Minnesota. Hoosiers try not to lose two in a row. Minnesota just looking for a Bg Ten win.

Arkansas at Kentucky. 'Cats finally seem to be on a roll, although it has come against weak SEC competition. Ronnie Brewer and the Hogs may be flying under the radar. Should be a good one.

NC State at Clemson. Wolfpack tries to bounce back after embarrassing loss to Seton Hall. At 14-5, this would be a huge win for Clemson's rare NCAA hopes.

Buffalo at Kent State. Two upper-tier teams in the Mid-American.

West Virginia at St Johns. The Johnnies have been frisky lately. Brawling with UConn is a step in the right direction. WVU coming off loss to Marshall.

Florida State at Miami. Tough road, rivalry game for Seminoles, who must be thinking NCAA.

Washington at Stanford. So how long until Mike Montgomerey asks for his old job back?



Tonight's likes...

Bucks (-3) over Celtics.

Indiana (-2) at Minnesota.

North Carolina State (-2) at Clemson.

January record: 19-14

He's Good



By cruising to a win at the Australian Open final over upstart Marcos Baghdatis, Roger Federer is now halfway to Pete Sampras' record of 14 major titles. He's a machine, though you'd never know it by the way his tears stream down after every latest triumph. Federer is in that weird place where only a few athletes go: He's battling the record books as much as he is his outmatched opponents.

On the other hand, I don't mean to take anythng away from Federer, but what has happened to all the big names in tennis? It seems there used to be 3-4 guys, maybe more, at any given moment who were considered big time. They were at least known to more than just tennis followers. Hell, there used to be 3-4 Americans who most everyone was familiar with. Today? It's Federer and a bunch of guys whose names the casual sports fan may never have heard of, let alone can pronounce. It's hard to tell if this is the result of Federer being so dominant, or if tennis is currently in a rut similar to the heavyweight division.

Rivalries are good. And Andy Roddick isn't getting it done, though dating Maria Sharapova is quite a pull.

Meanwhile, unless Baghdatis can duplicate the shocking run he made down under on the rest of the tour, it might be awhile before we see his stunning girlfriend again. Too bad.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

33

Don't look now - and I certainly don't want to jinx anyobody - but after the Illini's 76-58 win over Purdue today, Illinois and Southern Illinois are now tied for the longest current homecourt winning streak in the nation at 33 games.

That's sweet. The Unknown Column loves it. Keep up the good work.

There's nothing like a couple of good ole Midwestern basketball barns rockin' like nobody's business.


Doh!

Doh! He must have been right-footed.

Just Perfect

The Unknown Column is buying stock in these...



In the words of the great Noel Gallagher, "Where did it all go wrong?" Of course, Gallagher was probably referring to a drunken backstage orgy that ran out of coke, but still. This nonsense can't have a good ending, right?

In all seriousness, the fact that terrorist groups are taking over democratically, fair and sqaure, and now merging with armies headed by exiled madmen, all the while only a few borders over, American soldiers are dying in the name of democracy, well, this is all the height of irony.

An Expert On PMS



With NBA dropout Isaiah Rider in the news this week after being arrested for kidnapping, all of his past indiscretions, many damn humorous, are being rehashed. Good times. And this is my favorite:

At UNLV, Rider had taken and passed a class titled "Prevention & Management of Premenstrual Syndrome," which appeared to be little more than a rushed attempt to make him eligible for the season. The instructor, Vicki Bertolino, contended she had problems with some of the answers on papers turned in by Rider because: (1) they appeared to be at a higher level than some of Rider's previous work; (2) they appeared to be in different handwriting than the player's; and (3) his given name
was misspelled as "Isiah" on three different assignments.


Prevention and Management of Premenstrual Syndrome? It just doesn't get much better than that. Jeez, when Jerry Tarkanian's "little helpers" were signing up Rider for bogus classes, you'd think they would have opted for something a little more believeable that that. I would have loved to have seen the look on the teacher's face the first time Rider strolled into her class and sat down.

On the other hand, it's stuff exactly like this that makes me miss the old Runnin' Rebels. Now they were originals.

You can find much, much more Rider goodness inside here. (Gracias, BF Hoodrich.)

Twenty Years



Twenty years ago today. First the Bears Super Bowl win and then the Challenger. Interesting week, that was.

Meanwhile, the most Earth-like planet yet has been discovered, and another less friendly.

Stars are being exiled.

We need to land on something new soon. We're going to need interplanetary oil importation and hot alien chicks. It's getting itchy. The moon won't due. We just need to figure out the way it's all spinning and how fast and then we have to learn to jump.

Small Alaskan towns are being hounded by ice. Everthing changes too fast, and most of all, time.

We need to land somewhere else soon.

Universes and microscopes.

Party On, Dude



You just can't do it in the NBA for a while.

The Hornets Chris Anderson, most famous for needing nine attempts to complete a dunk at last year's dunk challenge, has been suspended from the NBA for two years. Considering the league doesn't seem to sweat dudes smoking the herb, and I seriously doubt his skinny white ass was on steroids, Anderson must have been doing some hardcore stuff.

Listen, I'm the last dude to condemn anyone for the way they spend their free time (believe me), but it's always foolish when someone in such a fortunate postion screws it up. I mean, Anderson had his entire post-NBA career to do as many drugs as he wanted. Sad. Here's hoping the Birdman figures it all out.

And hey, I'd probably resort to drugs myself if I had to wear a teal, pink and yellow uniform on a nightly basis.

Rolling



The Bulls have now won three in a row and four of five following a nice won over the Wizards last night in a game they never trailed. Ben Gordon scored 26. With Atlanta coming into town tonight, there is no reason to let up. Keep it rolling, baby.

There was a classic Johnny "Red" Kerr moment last night when James Thomas entered the game for the Bulls late in the first half. Thomas has just signed a 10-day contract and was making his debut. Shortly after entering, a Wizards player (I forget who) drives to the hoop and Thomas makes sure he doesn't get an easy basket by clobbering him. It was a rough, rough foul. Thomas does kind of look like a hard dude.

Kerr and Tom Dore are both 7-footers and former centers, surely must be the tallest announcing duo in NBA history, and surely must know all about making all sorts of contact in the paint. Anyway, after watching a slow-mo replay of Thomas' hard foul in silence, Dore matter-of-factly says to Kerr, "I don't have a problem with that. Do you?"

"Not at all."

"I didn't think you would."

Hilarious. The Unknown Column saw nothing wrong with it, either.

**********

Tyson Chandler's night against the Wizards...
12 points, 20 rebounds, 2 blocks

Last three games...
12.7 points, 14.0 rebounds, 1.7 blocks

Dude's back like a mofo.

**********

Saturday's college basketball action...

Kansas at Iowa St. We'll see if ISU can use its blowout of Mizzou to get on a roll. Both teams looking to stay on the bubble.

Cincinnati at Georgetown. Two teams going in oppostie directions. Could get ugly.

Marquette at Pittsburgh. Both teams have done better than expected thus far, but this is bigger for Marquette. Pitt continues a rough, rough stretch of games.

Arizona at North Carolina. Interesting cross-continental, mid-season nonconference tilt. In most any other year this game would be much bigger. Arizona has won three in a row after tough Pac 10 start.

Vandy at Florida. Two straight losses for Gators, and this might not be easy either.

Wisconsin at Michigan. Wolverines could make huge statement here following its win over Michigan St. Are they back? It's been a while.

San Diego St at Wyoming. Aztecs are very quietly 6-1 in the Mountain West. Who knew friggin' Steve Fisher was still kickin'? Big test here, though. Wyoming (4-2) also competitive in conference.

South Carolina at Tennessee. Gamecocks have been frisky lately, last week winning at Vandy and losing by two at Kentucky. This week, can they beat Forida and Tennessee back-to-back?

Virginia at Duke. Break up the Cavs! Do they shock the world here? First Cav to kick Melchionni in the face again wins.

Wichita St at Creighton. Both thinking NCAA out of MVC (along with Southern Illinois and Northern Iowa).

Ohio State at Iowa. Listen, Ohio St may be most underrated team in the country. Their only two losses have come by two points at Indiana and in double-overtime to Michigan St. We'll see if they can go to Iowa and do what Illinois and Indiana couldn't - win.

Kansas State at Colorado. Who knew this was a meaningful game? KSU (12-4) and Colorado (13-3) both have to be thinking bubble at least.

Texas at Oklahoma. Longhorns are picking up steam now. Sooners are soft, soft, soft. We'll see what they do in Norman, though.

SMU at UTEP. UTEP is quietly undefeated in Conference USA. When do they play Memphis or UAB?

Louisiana Tech at Fresno St. Paul Millsap (20 ppg, 13 rpg) quietly has Tech at 6-1 in the WAC. Fresno usually tough at home, though.



Tonight's likes...

Georgetown (-5.5) over Cincinnati.

Maryland (PK) at Temple.

Southern Illinois (-4.5) at Illinois State.

Texas (-3) at Oklahoma.

Clippers (-3) over Nuggets.

January record: 16-12

Friday, January 27, 2006

Shiny, Happy Athletes



I got to thinking that when Matt Hasselbeck suits up in the Super Bowl, he will be only the second bald quarterback to start the big game, the first being Trent Dilfer. This accomplishment is nothing to scoff at. Oh, not at all. Most men die inside when they begin losing their hair. Their penises shrivel up. They stop playing real sports and pick up golf. They practically become women.

But not Hasselbeck, nor a few other valiant warriors who succeeded on the biggest stages despite being follically-challenged. Yes, they moved on, overcame, and became better, not despite their increasingly shiny domes, but because of them. They looked in the mirror and weren't crushed and defeated. No, they were inspired to perform for themselves, for bald dudes the world wide, and for every last hair that disappeared down the shower drain forever. Men everywhere would be remiss if we didn't stop and recognize these heroes. Hell, if I ever notice that I'm losing my hair, I'm jumping in front of a train.

Of course, I'm much too lazy to come up with a comprehensive list, and I'm sure I'm forgetting several candidates, so let me know if you can think of anyone else.

Andre Agassi


This list has to begin with Andre Agassi. Has to. I mean, when he first burst onto the tennis scene, Agassi was his hair. His hair was like a life force in and of itself. It signed autographs. It argued with umpires. It had a wicked backhand. It was the envy of women everywhere. It was the messiah. In the late '80s/early '90s, his hair tore down the Berlin Wall, invented the internet, and wrote "Appetite for Destruction". Agassi was only along for the ride. Yes, the balding of Agassi has to be one of sport's greatest tragedies, right up there with Len Bias and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

Zinedine Zidane


Is it a mere coincidence that both of Zidane's goals against Brazil in the 1998 World Cup final came via his head? I think not. And I gotta say, if anyone pulls off the bald dome with graceful nonchalance, it's the French midfield maestro. He makes it look, dare I say, cool. He looks like a Greek god, like fuckin' Julius Caesar or something. Young boys all over France have shaved bald spots on the back of their noggins in worthy tribute.

Terry Bradshaw



Bradshaw was losing his hair practically by the time he left Louisiana Tech to head North and begin a dynasty with the Steelers. And it's fairly obvious why. His skull is huge. Massive. Have you ever looked at it on the FOX NFL set? Bradshaw's giant noggin is the closest modern man has come to rediscovering the prehistoric ages. It's positively neanderthalesque. I'm surprised he even felt the need to wear a helmet during his playing days. Bradshaw's skull must have spent his entire childhood growing, expanding, exploding, slowly but surely, until his hair no longer had a chance. And it didn't.

Iordan Letchkov



Ah, poor Iordan Letchkov. Not only did he have to deal with premature baldness, but he was also Bulgarian, which meant that A.) he was unfathomably ugly and B.) had more hair between his eyebrows than most men have on their bodies. Letchkov's claim to fame occurred in the 1994 World Cup when he scored, with his head, against Germany in the quarterfinals as the Bulgarians went on to win and become the tourney's Cinderellas. It remains Bulgaria's highest soccer achievement on the international stage. Had he a full head of hair, who knows if he scores there? Maybe his locks push the ball just agonizingly wide. Maybe soccer history is altered forever. Lucky for Letchkov, his teammate on that 1994 team, Trifon Ivanov, was arguably the ugliest athlete ever, albeit with a full head of hair.

Granville Waiters



Waiter's NBA career was rather undistinguished, but he was bald and funny-looking, and I couldn't pass up the opportunity to mention his name in here twice in one day.

Like I said, if you can think of any others, let me know. It would be a terrible offense to slight any athlete who had the will merely to live, let alone strive for athletic excellence, following the first time he looked in the mirror and said, "Oh, shit."