Tuesday, November 21, 2006

At Least the Uniforms Look Good



So DePaul has been getting some ESPN airtime the last couple days at the Maui Invitational. It's been the first chance I've had to check out the Blue Demons, who are already worrying me. Opening with losses to Bradley and Northwestern is not good. These are programs the Demons have traditionally dominated on the local scene.

Granted, I can understand the Bradley loss. Going down to Peoria is no easy deal these days now that Jim Les has the program headed onward and upward. (You remember last year's Sweet Sixteen run, right?) But losing by 20 points? Ouch.

And losing by ten points to lowly Northwestern...and scoring only 39 points in the process? Now, that's just completely unacceptable. In fact, that makes me a whole lot of uncomfortable with Jerry Wainwright in general. I'm sweating here.

At least the Demons showed a little fight in losing to Kentucky in Hawaii. They really need to beat Purdue tomorrow if I'm going to hold much hope of them accomplishing much in the brutal Big East this season.

Incidentally, the Unknown Column must give two big thumbs up for the Demons' new uniforms (seen above). I love them. They remind me of the Mark Aguirre-Terry Cummings era (or at least what I heard about it.)

So True

Sadly, this list, as great and true as it is, only begins to tell the story. Someone give ESPN a mirror.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Cubs Make Soriano Very Rich


The Cubs have signed Alfonso Soriano to a ridiculously large contract and the Unknown Column says good riddance.

Look, this contract is yet more foolishness by the clueless Jim Hendry as it is way too big and for way too long. Do you really want to be making Soriano's wallet that fat when he's 39? No.

But that's beside the point. Completely.

Yup, at this point, the Cubs are so sad and so desperate that it doesn't even matter. Nothing matters. So just toss the money out there. Fuck it. They have it, so toss it out there and then toss some more. Who gives a fuck? Just do something. Anything. Lose all control.

And that's what the Cubs have done. They've said fuck it and brought in a big name to offer up to Lou Piniella. And this isn't a bad thing. There will always be dim-witted, drunk Cubs fans to buy more tickets, to make more money, to hoarde away selfishly...

So fuck it.

But here's the thing: Soriano is not a leadoff hitter. This entire deal will go bust if the Cubs try to put Soriano in the leadoff position, which presumably they will.

But why? Put him in the middle of the order with Derrick Lee and Aramis Ramirez and - BAM! - you instantly have one of the scariest hearts of the lineup in all of baseball. Think about the damage those three could to. Imagine it. Damn.

Interestingly enough, the Cubs already have a leadoff hitter in Juan Pierre, who is currently a fee agent and expected to leave town anydaw now. But, hey, as long as the Cubs have their wallet open, why not go totally crazy, give Pierre some cash too, and have your leadoff hitter? Makes sense, no? Granted, I think Pierre is a bit overrated. I don't think he's necesarily the top-notch leadoff guy he's often portrayed as. But he's decent. He's solid. He's serviceable. He can do the job, sometimes quite well. And with the big three behind him, Pierre may just be inspired to accomplish much bigger things.

Shit, Pierre is just sitting right there at the moment waiting to be signed. Look at him. Just lok at him. He's right there. It's so easy. It makes so much sense.

If you're the Cubs, you have to go crazy. Go nutty. Lay it all out there.

Of course, as a White Sox fan I couldn't care less, and I'm actually chuckling already at how this latest move will implode eventually (and you know it will), but being a White Sox fan also means I'm infinitely more knowledgable than the average Cubs fan, so I figure I can give a little love and offer a little help here. Sometimes the laughter gets old and I actually feel sorry for he Scrubs.

But then it passes.

Sign Pierre, move Soriano down in the lineup, and then continue the madness and sign a free agent pitcher such as Barry Zito or Jason Schmidt. Just go fuckin' nuts!

Anyway, I'm sure half the Cubs pitching staff will be on the IR by mid-May, making this all pointless. It's all going to end badly for the Cubs just as it always does. But whatever. I'm just trying to help.

As soon as...

...this kid is walking I fully expect the Fire to sign him (or her) to a contract.

Holding Steady

Bears 10 Jets 0



It wasn't long ago the Bears were coming off an awful loss to the Dolphins (which actually doesn't look so bad now that the 'Phins are pulling off another second-half resurgence a la 2005) and facing the daunting task of three straight road games against the Giants, Jets and Patriots.

Naturally, many a Bears fan who has seen more bad times than good was just waiting for the loosening wheels to fall off completely.

Well, not just yet. Two straight wins in the Meadowlands has the Bears looking and feeling good heading into Foxboro where they will play their biggest regular season game in quite a while.

The offense struggled yesterday, but in a way, there was a positive to be found. Rex Grossman, while far from lighting it up, pulled off a Kyle Orton and simply managed the game. He forced no passes and didn't turn the ball over. Of course, this is a step in the right direction. In the past, Grossman and his gunslinger mentality likely would have become frustrated, forced this issue, and made some potentially fatal mistakes. Sure, it would be nice if Grossman could have aired it out for 300 yards and a few touchdowns (and it certainly would have helped my fantasy team), but as long as he continues to understand that he doesn't need to do that in order to win, well, his growth process maintains on a healthy course.

Thomas Jones appears to be getting stronger as the season wears on. I guess this is a strange but welcome positive to result from his messy summer which saw him skip voluntary workouts and then miss most of the preseason while injured. He's rested.

As for the defense, what can you say? Another shutout. Admittedly, there is cause for concern as teams have been running rather productively against the Bears of late. This is where the absense of Mike Brown hurts the most. God, is he missed. But, hey, the bend but don't break mentality has never been a bad one.

So the Bears sit at 9-1 and remain on course to earn homefield advantage throught the playoffs in the NFC. This is the goal.

So far, so good.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Borat

Deleted scenes.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Starting Over



It is certainly an interesting time to be the Bears - or a Bears fan. After becoming the darlings of the NFL, one horrible loss to the lowly Dolphins has changed everything. At the exact midway point of the season it seems things have gone back to the starting line. An entire reputation needs to be rebuilt. Fans are jumping from the bandwagon faster than Donald Rumsfeld was shooed away this week. The so-called experts have all dropped the Bears way, way down their rankings and can't stop talking about their many sudden weaknesses. Brian Urlacher's toe is hurt and Bernard Berrian's ribs bruised. And now three straight road games against solid teams loom on the horizon.

I guess this is the proverbial fork in the road. I guess this is where we learn what the Bears are made of.

And Chitown is nervous.

Rex Grossman has suddenly become the main target of the new skepticism, not to mention criticism. And, yeah, some of it's deserved. You can't throw the senseless interceptions he has without attracting the wrath of some. The calls for Brian Griese, just as in the preseason, are once again growing.

But let's slow down here. Grossman recently made his 16th start in the NFL, which means that, essentially, he has one full season of experience. So, yeah, growing pains should still be expected. How many top-flight quarterbacks struggled early in their career? Many. He's still finding his way.

And the fact is, Griese's upside just doesn't match that of Grossman. Sure, Grossman has had two bad games (OK, unforgettably awful) against the Cardinals and Dolphins, but he's also put up passing numbers that are completely unheard of around here. All Grossman needs to do is learn to eliminate the big mistakes. I know this is easier said than done, but in time it will happen. Or at least that's what I tell myself. Hopefully, that time comes by the playoffs. But opening up the wound of a quarterback controversy midway through the season just wouldn't be smart. The Bears are lucky enough to be in a bad division, which means they currently hold a seemingly insurmountable three-game lead in the standings. They have room for error. Er, let me rephrase that: they have room to work with. So why would you choose to sit Grossman and turn your back on the fireworks he has proven to be capable of rather than letting him continue to work out the kinks before January rolls around? That wouldn't make sense.

Maybe Lovie Smith should pull out some of last year's game tapes and have Grossman watch Kyle Orton work. This may sound funny, but Grossman could actually learn something from Orton. He could learn that avoiding the killer mistakes is just as important as completing the long pass or even throwing the touchdown. This is what Orton did last year. And he won ten games as a starter despite passing the ball with the efficiency of eating steak through a straw.

No, this is not the time to dump Grossman.

Meanwhile, Plaxico Burress is yapping about how the Bears defensive backs aren't all that great. I suppose I might be more upset by this if Plax wasn't a mediocre receiver who only recently has begun to shed the label of being a first-round bust. Still, it would be nice to see him manhandled and maybe, you know, carried off on a cart. And take Eli Manning and Jeremy Shockey with him.

And if Tike Barber is sent into retirement early, so be it. I'll absorb the hit my fantasy team would take.

The bottom line is, this week is everything the Bears could have hoped for. A Sunday night showcase against a fellow NFC contender that will go a long way in determining who will have homefield advantage in the playoffs and the inside track to the Super Bowl. It's the type of game that seperates the men from the boys. After being humbled and brought to their knees last week, will the Bears stand back up? Will they shake it off and stick their chin back out their? Will they prove to be more than pretenders?

Maybe last week's loss will prove to be a good thing. Now that all the talk of going undefeated has disappeared, maybe the Bears can get their heads on straight. Maybe it'll make them hungry again. Maybe they'll return to seeking respect rather than basking in the glow of suddenly receiving it.

We shall see.

The pick? Bears 16 Giants 10

A Knights Tale


Tell me you aren't a fan of Rutgers after last night. Go ahead. Try.

What an amazing win for the Scarlet Knights, not only upending a Louisville team that had the inside track to a spot in the BCS Championship game, but overcoming a 25-7 deficit in the process. When the entire field was covered in a postgame mass of celebratory red, you had to smile, whether you were a fan or not. That was awesome.

Not bad for a program that had been at the very bottom of college football since forever. I mean, there are the teams that rarely have winning records and then there are the teams that are even worse than that. Teams like Temple or Northwestern before Gary Barnett turned it around. Rutgers was pretty much in that category.

And now, barring an upset in the next two weeks and provided they beat West Virginia in their season finale, the Knights are looking at going undefeated and being able to gripe about being shutout of the title game.

Because they won't be in the title game no matter how fun their story is. Oh, well.

While he was hardly known except to college football diehards only a few weeks ago (or, really, before last night), Greg Schiano has now surely vaulted to the top of any and all lists of hot coaches. You know he'll pretty much have the pick of any job opening he chooses come the offseason. Here's hoping he stays. One of the Unknown Column's biggest pet peeves is college football and basketball coaches who build up a relatively smaller program and then bolt for the greener pastures of a so-called major program. Often it backfires on them. Often they would have been more wise to stay put and continue to build the good thing they had going. I see no reason why Schiano couldn't continue to build Rutgers up to the point where it's an annual contender on a national scale. Why not? Hell, the Knights are practically there already. Now that they're known they'll get more respect in the polls which, in turn, will help them in the BCS rankings.

And with an Italian last name like Schiano, he's perfect for New Jersey. Tony Soprano is probably donating funds to the Rutgers program as we speak.

By the way, I've always wondered why New Jersey couldn't just be like everyone else and call its state school the University of New Jersey. Does New Jersey think it's special?

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Plax Yapping

Longtime mediocre Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress is yap, yap, yapping about the Bears defensive backs ahead of the teams' meeting on Sunday night in the Meadowlands.

"I don't think they're the best corners I've played against or we've played against this year. By far, no," Burress told the Newark Star-Ledger. "Those guys make plays [on] the balls that are thrown straight to them, but they're not just covering guys straight up and just shutting them down. I haven't seen any of that. "They're very beatable."

...

"Definitely not them. If they want to come out there and play cover-1, bump-and-run, be [my] guest. I, for one, love it. They want to come out there, bump and play press one-on-one? Let's get go out there and have fun. Let's get it."


Lay the dude out...and do it in the name of Mike Brown.

Better yet, don't even let Eli Manning get his passes off.

The bandwagon followers are jumping. Fuck 'em.

Here we go now.

"Scorched Colon"

I'm not the smartest guy in the world, but I'm pretty sure that launching fireworks out of your ass is never a good idea. This guy should stick with sparklers.

A man suffered internal burns when he tried to launch a rocket from his bottom on Bonfire Night.
Paramedics found the 22-year-old bleeding, with a Black Cat Thunderbolt Rocket lodged inside him, when they attended the scene in Sunderland.

He suffered a scorched colon and is now recovering in hospital, where his condition is described as stable.

A spokesman for the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) said the prank could have been fatal.

...

"There's a lot of major blood vessels round that area, so infection would probably be a huge problem for him.

"And also the body naturally produces methane gas, so combine that with the firework and the exploding effect with methane's flammability - it certainly could have been a lot worse than it really was."

From the "You Can't Make This Stuff Up" Department:

Katherine Harris, infamous as the evil bitch who helped spearhead the fraudulent 2000 presidential election, may have been screwed over in her Senate race by the very voting machines she pushed for.

This week just keeps getting better and better. It's as if the Gods have finally awoken from their slumber.

Just Imagine This Family Moving In Next Door

One of the most enjoyable aspects of the Republicans being routed - OK, it wasn't exactly a "rout" but whatever - was Rick Santorum being ousted in Pennsylvania in what really was a rout. That said, I fear we'll be hearing of the Santorum family again in the future, probably in some sort of serial killing spree. Yikes. This family creeps me out.

(Check the finger of Jr. on the right...)







The only question is which kid cracks first.

Crazy Birds

Starlings, that is.

You Might Want to Rephrase That


Manchester City's Joey Barton was recently fined for mooning fans of Everton after a game on September 30th. Apparently, he feels he's being treated unjustly and described the incident as thus...

"I was fined for a little bit of tongue-in-cheek behaviour," he said.


Um, that's gross. But to each his own.

In other soccer news, a rumor that Freddy Adu would receive a tryout with Manchester United was quickly squashed by the club. While ManU's response was respectful and professional, you could almost hear the club's higher-ups snickering all the way across the Atlantic. Honestly, Adu would receive as much action with ManU as I would.

Hell, Demarcus Beasley was one of MLS's biggest stars when he left for Europe and is currently in what should be the prime years of his career and he can't get on the field with much less powerful Manchester City. So the idea of a teenage Adu, who has yet to find his niche for a DC United club that stuggled horrendously in the second half of the season, finding minutes with the current Premiership leaders, or even its reserve side, is beyond absurd.

Big Game in November? You Bet


It's never too early in the season for a big game, right? So in that vein, the Bulls' game tonight in Cleveland should be considered massive, or at least big-boned. Why? Well, it'd sure be nice if the Bulls could establish themselves in the Central Division with a road win against a fellow contender. You know, make a statement early.

With everyone in the Central playing roughly .500 ball in the early, early going, there is no reason why the Bulls shouldn't, or couldn't, distance themselves from the pack early.

The biggest problem with last years Bulls team was consistency, or lack thereof. One night they looked great, the next they looked like Jerry Krause was still stalking the halls of the United Center. (Eeewww, shivers.) So far, this season hasn't looked much different. The Bulls have sandwiched two impressive wins around an embarrassing blowout loss to Orlando and a loss to Sacramento in a game they led virtually the entire way before Chris Duhon, quite literally, threw it away. I would hate to sit through another season of such maddening inconsistency. Hopefully, a win tonight in Cleveland can set the Bulls on a straight and narrow path of success that they refrain from veering from.

Speaking of the Cavs, what was LeBron James thinking when he walked off the court with 13 seconds still remaining the other night in a loss to Atlanta? Not too classy. I suppose in the grand scheme of things this isn't a huge deal. I suppose it's just another case of a spoiled athlete acting the fool - and LeBron certainly is no Randy Moss, who was universally bashed for doing something similar - but it is further proof that LeBron is not, nor will he ever be, in Michael Jordan's stratosphere. MJ would have never quit on a game. Never.

And further in the "NBA Has Many Rockheads" Department: Rasheed Wallace recently compared the NBA's new anti-whining rules to slavery. To wit:

"I know they're going to have to do something about this crazy zero tolerance law," Wallace said. "That's retarded. In my mind, it's kind of like a slave and master or father and son. You've got your little son and (you say) don't say nothing back to me -- and to me, that's totally wrong. It ain't like that in any other sport.

"(Referees) don't already like me and all this zero-tolerance law does is give (officials) who already have a beef with players to go out and toss them."


As soon as this rule change was announced I figured it was only a matter of time before somebody cried racism. So, so predictable. Nevermind that the NBA might simply want to stamp out an ugly part of its game, an ugly part that all fans, of all races, find extremely annoying. Nevermind that NBA games will be that much more enjoyable when we're no longer forced to watch grown men act like little girls whose dolls have gone missing. Nevermind that the NBA might simply want to put a better face on its product, which, of course, is always the smart thing to do.

No, it's much easier to simply cry racism while continuing to act foolish. The NBA can't do anything these days (age limit, dress code, etc.) without being labeled racist. It's ridiculous.

Maybe someone should tell 'Sheed that his childish act got tired and old a long, long time ago. Nobody wants to see it, and thus the rule. This isn't difficult.

Dems Win


Dems sweep both the House and Senate and nothing could be finer.

The next step is preventing the Republicans from ever gaining control again. And I mean ever. This can be done. Why not? Make it happen.

Not that I'm all that thrilled about the Democrats, but the GOP has proven what it's worth and that isn't much - if anything.

This week has been great, eh?

Now all America needs to do is elect Barack Obama president and things will be looking up.

And Don't Let the Door Hit You on the Way Out


Man, that was quick. The midterm election votes had barely been counted before Donald Rumsfeld was given the axe. Oh, glorious day.

I'm not going to go on yet another tirade about how incompetent and cold-hearted Rumsfeld is, nor will I gloat about his embarrassing exit. This has been done a million and one times on the internet already. So all I will say is this:

As Rumsfeld goes off to wherever he goes to spend the final years of his life, I hope he looks in the mirror and is forever haunted by the simple truth that he will be remembered as as one of the worst things to happen to this country in a long, long time, probably ever. His mistakes have been documented, his lies exposed, and his place in history has been written. And it won't be pretty. His life was more than a waste. It was a tragedy. I hope he remembers this and lives with it. Forever.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Who Knew?


Um, was anyone else unaware that the college basketball season is, like, officially underway?

No, really. It caught me by surprise. There's games being televised tonight on ESPNU and everyting. The Coaches vs. Cancer Classic. I had no idea. I was flipping through Sports Illustrated last night and saw an ad for the games and, of course, was pleasantly surprised. The coming rush of college hoops is never a bad thing.

Here's an ultra-quick look at some of the local teams:

Illinois - Yeah, I know they lost Dee Brown and James Augustine and a few growing pains surely await. And most most prognosticators seem to be picking the Illini to finish somewhere near the middle of the Big Ten after dominating the conference for the past few years. Hogwash. This team should be much more balanced and I guarantee you Bruce Weber has it competing for yet another conference title. If a team as good as the Illini has been can be cosnidered a surprise, this team may fit the bill.

Southern Illinois - This is legit top fifteen team. No, I'm not crazy. Trust me. The Salukis return everybody and are the real deal. I'm not exaggerating when I say that the Sweet Sixteen (or beyond?) should be a serious goal.

DePaul - Don't look now but Jerry Wainright has quietly landed two Top 50 recruits. Who knew he could recruit? Granted, they won't be ready until next year, but the Blue Demons have some talent on hand already. A move out of the Big East basement awaits and an NCAA bid may not be that farfetched. Oh, when will the DePaul glory days return? Patience, my friends, patience.

Loyola - Blake Schilb may be the best player you've never heard of. The senior led the Ramblers to their best season since 1984-85 last year (19 wins) and this year he'll average 20 points, earn some All-American recognition, and posiibly land Loyola in the Big Dance as Horizon League champs. You'll hear about him soon enough.

UIC - Ah, my boys - we're the Flames, not the Flamers! - after five straight winning seasons, should once again be a factor in the Horizon League. Othyus Jeffers is a beast. A poor man's Charles Barkley. Too bad he isn't a few inches taller because he's a gladiator in the paint, with some outside skills, as well. After earning some newcomer honors last year, he'll cement his name on the scene in 06-07.

Bruno in 'Bama

With the opening of Borat this past weekend, I got to thinking of one of my favorite skits from Da Ali G show - the one where he dresses as Bruno and heads to an Alabama Crimson Tide football game.

Amazingly enough, the fine rednecks, er, folks of Alabama aren't all that open-minded about a flaming gay dude showing up on their scene.

"Are you allowed to date other members of the team or do you have to wait until the season is over?"

Monday, November 06, 2006

Scarlett Johansson Sex Tape?

If true, this could momentarily stop the world from spinning.

Skeleton Art

Cool site: Skeleton Art. Check out the art gallery section. A lot of interesting and wonderfully wild paintings.

Apologies



Hey, hey, hey. The Unknwon Column heartily apologizes for being on a bit of a hiatus. My millions, er, handful of readers have been relentlessly harrassing me for an explanation. The endless ringing of the phone and the crowds outside my window have been driving me mad.

Truth is, to be blunt, I've been undergoing chemotherapy. Cancer. The dirty fuck. This is actually the second time. I spent much of 2005 undergoing chemo. Six rounds, which is, supposedly, the most a person is allowed before it's simply too much for the body to take. And it is. I can attest. Thank the Gods for the '05 White Sox. I've never been able to watch so much baseball in my life and the Pale Hose won the Worls Series shortly before the chemo wrapped up. The timing of it all couldn't have been more beautiful.

I followed up that chemo with some precautionary radiation treatment as my hair - my beautiful hair - grew back. Which it did.

But just when my hair was getting back to its fully beautiful self...

Bam. I was back in chemo and have been now for three more rounds, or roughly, the last nine weeks. The hair, once again, has fallen out, though thankfully, this time for some reason unknown to me, the eyebrows and eyelashes remain. This is actually important. With your eyebrows and eyelashes in place, you can put on a hat and look normal. People can't immediately tell the tragedy beneath. Without eyebrows and eyelashes, though, you can wear any hat you want and it is quickly and blatantly obvious to anyone that something is wrong. You look like an alien.

Truth be told, the first run through chemo and the ensuing radiation weren't nearly as bad as I feared it would be. It wasn't necessarily the death bed scene I had in my mind. I guess having cancer at a young age, once the shock wears off, has its advantages. While it was horrible, and I can't imagine doing the same thing at an advanced age when the body is far less sturdy, I remained physically strong for the most part. All things considered. My body was fit and healthy going in and that helped immensely.

But this time...

Well, this time the chemo is a different, stronger, more violent cocktail and it's kicking my ass at the moment.

Anyway, I never intended this blog to be the sort of personal diary that many bloggers write. I wanted, simply, to talk about sports, bitch about a few random things that piss me off, toss in a few potential laughs, and post pics of hot chicks. So I haven't felt compelled to share my personal drama, good or bad.

I only write this now because I wanted to offer an explanation for my absence. I know I have only a handful of readers, but friends have asked what the deal was. Quite frankly, I haven't had the energy. I don't mean to bitch or moan, but I just haven't had the urge to push the little buttons on the keyboard of late. Sorry.

But as of today I intend to get back in the swing of things, ot to at least do my best. It should do me some good. Although I've had a legit reason for laying low of late, I can't help but feel lazy nonetheless.

So I'll force it if need be.

Fuck it.

On the bright side, I've been on a bit of a cold streak in the gambling department of late - OK, I've been freezing - so my daily Tonight's Likes posts have probably been better off remaining in the abyss. I wouldn't want to sway anyone towards losing their $$$. (Although, I'm guessing that the accompanying photos of yummy women have surely been missed.)