Monday, October 13, 2008

The End of the 2008 Cubs: An Exercise in Catharsis

I was fearful of the 5 game series all season, and knew that the whole thing could come crashing down in 4 days. I was optimistic, but realistic. The LA team the Cubs played early this year was nothing like the team that went ~16-7 in September, and had dominating pitching from Lowe and Billingsley. The Cubs played their best baseball in June-early August.

Game 1 - I had told people that all it would take is one early HR to deflate the ballpark, and that Dempster, while good/very good all year, was never really dominant. The crowd wasn’t really that hyped at gametime, which may have been because it was 530p, and when Dempster kept walking guys (he wasn’t getting squeezed, he was wild), you knew it was a matter of time. Sho’ nuf, the grand slam ended the game, and the crowd knew it.

Game 2 – I was confident that Zambrano (on long rest) would pitch well, and the 830p start meant a much more lively crowd pre-game. They played Going the Distance from Rocky as Z ended his warmups and went to the dugout, and the crowd was as loud and electric as I can remember at Wrigley. Very positive energy. Z then blew the Dodgers away in the 1st, and in the second gave up a lead off single, then got three straight double play balls. The first was a single that went through shortstop, as Theriot was covering second on a hit and run. Bad break. The next two batters hit routine ground balls that DeRosa and Lee booted. Inexcusable. Then Furcal bunts for a hit. Then Martin hits a ringing double. 5-0, all unearned, but they count. Game over, series over.

Game 3 – I resisted all efforts to get me to a bar to watch, and the Long Haired Filipino Dogwalker and I watched at my house. I told LHFD that if the Cubs don’t take the lead early, they lose. Dodgers get a two-out RBI hit in the first, and it was done for. The body language of the Cubs was awful, like a late-era Knight IU team during an early round loss to Pepperdine.

As far as the offense, I always believed that pitching and defense win in the post-season, as only the good pitchers pitch. The fact that the Cubs didn’t get hits (in any situation) was not surprising, as they faced a good staff that was peeking.

They won most of their games by scoring 5+ runs, and you cannot or should not expect that in the post season. You need to catch the ball and make good pitches on good hitters. The Cubs did neither.

Neither Soriano or anyone else here is catching flack, but I am avoiding coverage, so who knows. He is who he is, and I had no expectations of October greatness from him.

As my brother and I talked about the 2009 Cubs during the end of Game 2, I think Lee is a guy who is expendable. He never expresses a great love of the fan base (sometimes the opposite), has seemed distracted (rightfully so, his daughter is going blind) all year, and spoke openly about the pressure the team felt after Game 3. There was a tangential reference to him going (possibly to San Francisco) in the Tribune’s ‘look ahead’ article I read.

Ah, that felt better. That is the most I talked/wrote about since it happened. Thanks for the catharsis.

(I am looking forward to the expansion IU Hoosier bball team. They could be OK, like .500, and a victory over Illinois, I think, is possible)

Friday, September 12, 2008

More Evidence That the Brewers are Weak Minded

The Brewers' Corey Hart said it was great to escape the boo-birds in Milwaukee and get to a more serene place -- ehhhhh, Philadelphia? "Actually, it felt more like a home game than playing in Miller Park," Hart said. "We didn't hear the boos that we sometimes hear at home. … A guy makes an error, a guy strikes out, and you hear your hometown booing you. It makes you ready to get out of there and go somewhere else for a while. I think we're all looser here."

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Todd Rundgren's 'Stood Up'

When I found we could have some brains
I was the first in line, cause we were, like
Dragging our knuckles along the ground
(dragging our knuckles along the ground)

Ever since, I've been convinced that every
Sacred thought is mine, and you were still
Dragging your knuckles along the ground
(dragging your knuckles along the ground)

Cause I think I'm there, dude
(don't get ahead of yourself)
I think I'm there, dude (Already high)

And when they asked us who will lead
I thought it surely must be me
But I stood up too fast(I stood up too fast)

Because as soon as I was boss
The next one in line took my head clean off
Cause I stood up too fast(I stood up too fast)

I was barely in my teens when I decided I was tired
Of always like dragging my knuckles along the ground
(dragging my knuckles along the ground)

So with all due haste I based until I got so freakin wired
Forgot I was dragging my knuckles along the ground
(dragging my knuckles along the ground)

I thought I was there, dude (you'll got ahead of yourself)
I thought I was there, dude
Already high

And when they asked for volunteers
I must have thought they said 'drink beers'
And I stood up too fast(I stood up too fast)

I can imagine things that can't possibly exist
And then I add them to an ever-expanding list
And when I've solved every significant test there is
Then I'll move on no matter how many clues I've missed

It's so easy to be smart but it's a struggle to be wise
You shouldn't be always throwing your weight around
(always throwing your weight around)

It's much better to be humble than to have a big hat size
Or you'll be just begging somebody to take you down
(begging somebody to take you down)

And you'll be nowhere, man (you got ahead of yourself)
And you'll be nowhere, man
Already high

And right before your very eyes
I have ignored my own advice
Cause I stood up too fast
(I stood up too fast)

And nobody has the slightest choice
But to put up with my droning voice
When I stood up too fast
(I stood up too fast)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

From Illini Red Shirt to Champaign County Orange Suit?

An arrest warrant has been issued for Illinois basketball player Jamar Smith after prosecutors filed paperwork to revoke his probation for allegedly drinking alcohol.
The 21-year-old Peoria man is serving two years of probation after pleading guilty last year to felony driving under the influence causing great bodily harm. He drove a car into a tree in February 2007, injuring former teammate Brian Carlwell.

Champaign County State's Attorney Julia Rietz says the warrant was issued after police investigated an incident outside a campus bar called Fubar. Details weren't immediately available.

Smith is a junior guard who sat out last season after his guilty plea.
Illinois coach Bruce Weber wasn't immediately available for comment.

He later said, "I run a scummy program, and I cannot even recruit. What do you want from me?"

Monday, June 23, 2008

Too Bad He's Dead...George Carlin

The first two minutes of this clip are the truest words I have ever heard.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Bruce Weber Sucks Cock...Don't Put that on the Internet

Major league whiner, minor league coach, and a man who effectively blew off his mother's death, makes the obvious point that Indiana will struggle because of developments in the program.

Funny Guy Weber told the Peoria Star: The league should be wide open and we can be right in the middle of it. I do know one thing, though. I think Indiana will suck. Don't put that on the Internet."

This is also the same coach that punished Jamar Smith, who left his teammate for dead after a drunken driving accident, by forcing him to redshirt.

Monday, June 09, 2008

What will the NCAA do with IU?

The NCAA will give IU a strong talking to, wag their finger, shake their collective head disappointingly and issue sanctions that will involve everything and anything but the one thing that would effect the NCAA's bottom line: TV and/or Tournament bans.

There is a reason that IU is on CBS a maximum number of times per season, and never get the early morning first round tournament times: TV ratings. That's me being cynical.
IU, for its part, will point a finger at Sampson ,who I suppose is a scumbag, but not more so than the people still at IU who enabled him.

They, and Tom Crean (for completely different yet equally selfish reasons), hope the story goes away and we can then focus on the literal sinkhole that is IU football, which features their version of Mike Davis, a suspended star, and increased capacity for a stadium that is, on its best days, half full.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

It's Official: Indiana Football (Field) Sucks

The Indy Star reports that the IU football field was damaged when a sinkhole developed under the fake turn field on top of due to heavy rains in the Bloomingville area.

I do think it is symbolic, as it will be the way every story about the 4-8 2008 Hoosiers will begin. Well, at least I know that now and can focus my attention elsewhere, as I had planned anyway when I heard Kellen Lewis was suspended.

I do blame Greenspan for this, too, as this had to be foreseeable, and especially if insurance doesn't cover the potential $1M damages. And, not just some of it.

Perhaps this bad dancer can blame the dance floor.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Too Bad He's Dead...Sydney Pollack

He was a great and famed director, but to me, these two scenes from Tootsie were my favorite work by Sydney Pollack...

Oops, I couldn't find the second scene, when Dorothy Michaels meets her agent at the Russian Tea Room.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Back in First...To Stay

I really think this is the first day that the Cubs stay in first place, and they will stay there until late September (when the regular season ends). With Zambrano pitching with the precisely right amount of emotion, and his hitting, this team seems poised to go on another roll.

Of course, as Earl Weaver said, momentum is tomorrow's starting pitcher.

Just Say No to Jim Edmonds

Is Lou Piniella really that frustrated with Felix Pie that he would push (or agree to) the signing of Jim Edmonds? He is batting a woeful .178 with 24 strikeouts in 90 AB. He is slugging .233 and is no longer the outfielder that Pie is. Yes, Pie has a higher percentage of strikeouts, but is hitting .233 and is slugging .286, and is the far superior outfielder.

If, as it appears, the team insists on signing Mr. Fake Hustle, give him 2 weeks, tops, to show he is better than the younger Pie.
I guess this is when you give Piniella the benefit of the doubt, but...

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Alexis Marshall's Husband Gets 1st MLB Save

In a game that championship teams win, the Cubs overcame unclutch relief pitching to beat the Pirates in 15 innings. And, who picked up his first major league save? The favorite pitcher of a certain Phoenix television personality...

Kudos to Ryan Dempster for his incredible one-hit pitching over seven innings and Feliz Pie for keeping his head up and getting the big hit in the 15th.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Frank Deford Column about the Dying Olympics

There is something wonderfully ironic about the Olympic torch, which is making its journey around the world with what appears to be, a big "KICK ME" sign on it for China.

Ah, what goes around ...

The torch was conjured up out of whole cloth by the Nazis for the 1936 Berlin Games, and then embedded in our dreamy Olympic consciousness by the magnificent gossamer photography of Leni Riefenstahl, Hitler's favorite movie maker. Now, three-quarters of a century later, the torch has come back as an unexpected curse to haunt another totalitarian government to which the International Olympic Committee has hitched its wagon.

The ignominy that China is going to endure with protests, which will cling like moths to the torch e're it goes, will far exceed whatever positive attention China might receive when the Olympics are in the world limelight for a fortnight in the dead of summer.

The reflected heat from the torch uproar will also help expose what a humbug the IOC can be. This is the organization that loves to call itself a "movement." Come on, would we accept it at face value if baseball commissioner Bud Selig stood up and crowed about the "Major League Baseball Movement?" Would we bow our heads if Mayor Oscar Goodman asked us to pay homage to the "Las Vegas Strip Movement?" Get serious.

There's no real difference, but only the IOC still calls itself a movement and gets away with it. Hey, it's no more than an international cartel that puts on a big show every four years. It's just NASCAR with accents. And to tell you the truth, I think the Olympics are yesterday's party. Once upon a time -- before globalism and jet airplanes and cyberspace -- bringing athletes together quadrennially in one place might have made sense. Today, it's an unnecessary excess. And while insular Americans may not understand this, soccer's World Cup has become much more important to many more people worldwide.

The Olympics has really ended up as a festival for those sports that nobody much cares about for the other three years and 50 weeks. The showcase is track and field, but how many of you can even name a single American track athlete in this year's Games? How many of you can name a single track athlete from any nation? The Olympics is a symphony orchestra without the violins and brass.

But hooray for all the Olympic athletes. Please, everybody, just threaten to boycott, but let the athletes all go to Beijing and have their day in the smog. It was so unfair when, in 1980, President Carter sacrificed our Olympians to make a point against the Soviet Union. But as the torch wends its way, spreading the bad news, I really think we might be seeing more than a censure of China. We may also be witness to the start of the Olympics' real decline.
I love London. I wish it hadn't got itself stuck with the 2012 Games. I love Chicago. I hope it gets lucky and doesn't get stuck with the 2016 Games. Every dog has its day. No movement is perpetual.

I met Frank Deford at an obscure sporting event, and, at the time, he was much more positive towards the "Olympic Movement" or at least the "athletes." I agree with everything he says except about the idea of a boycott. Boycott these Games, and the athletes can find something better to do with their lives. Like anything.

Thursday, April 03, 2008


The post title is simply to catch Google traffic, but I think this was a smart hire, blah blah blah. For me, the best part of this is that my brother-in-law is the spitting image of Coach Crean.

Well, this has me relieved. Ted Kitchel is OK with this hire. After telling anyone that would listen that he wouldn’t let Kelvin Sampson coach a seventh grade girls team, he let the Indiana Daily Student know that he was gratified that Crean would give him a call.

Another self-righteous guy stuck in his Glory Days, Kent Benson, even got a shout out at the beginning of Crean’s press conference, which is unfortunately some lip service he is forced to pay. I guess he had to say that before he announced he would not be running the precious motion offense. Benson, you may remember, stopped going to IU games to protest Sampson. Like anyone gives a shit what this has-been has to say. If he was such a hero, he would not have lost his campaign for state Secretary of State.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Jay Bilas Calls Rick Greenspan "Incompetent"

On Tony Kornheiser's radio show today, Jay Bilas was asked about Bruce Pearl and the Indiana job. He said, "Indiana is a little bit disfunctional right now. And, honestly Tony, I wouldn't work for that athletic director for any amount of money. I don't think he's competent." This echoes John Feinstein's sentiments when Sampson was hired.

Unfortunately, since he's on the 'blue ribbon committee,' he will certainly be around for a while. It also means that IU will take the safer (and reasonable to me) choice of Tony Bennett over Pearl.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Dick or Rod or Johnson...Johnson?

The Cubs have added the right handed Reed Johnson to platoon with Felix Pie in centerfield. A good pickup, it says here. I was at Skydome on Father's Day 2003, and Johnson hit a tenth inning walk off home run off Mark Guthrie. Is it Opening Day Yet?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

With a Whimper

Other than D.J. White, Armon Bassett, and Lance Stemler, the team quit after their coach got gacked. Seems to me that they resented that their guy, Ray McCallum didnt get the job, and the new guy (and Knight guy) Dan Dakich did get the job. I think they also resented the crowd's cheering for Dakich (both in Bloomington, and in Evanston, where I saw them) after booing Sampson the way they did at the end. This was not a team that the fans liked, and the feeling, unfortunately, was mutual.

Hopefully, the new coach will be a non-Knight guy who will return the pride to this program.
As for Eric Gordon, he never recovered from the game in Champaign, which tells you a little something about his heart and mind. Luckily, he will never face that kind of scrutiny in the NBA.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

2008 NCAA Tournament Map

Click the link above to see it very clearly. Where can I find the NIT and CBI maps?

Monday, March 17, 2008

Indiana to Be One of Last Teams to Lose in First Round

The Hoosiers will be losing to Arkansas in the first round of the 2008 NCAA Tournament, but the good news for IU fans is that they will get to watch almost the entire first round before watching their team lose, as their game starts at 640p (Vegas time). Your Humble Correspondent will be in Vegas, and is looking forward to betting against his alma mater, especially in the first half. We notice that Indiana started out a 2 point favorite, and it is now down to one. By the time we get out there, the will be getting points.

Disclaimer: if IU happens to win their first game, they will come close, but lose to North Carolina.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Indiana's 2009 Post-Season Destination

Get ready for the College Basketball Invitational. Having a bad season, even below .500? Doesn’t matter. Have a big name that will provide good ratings for their Television partner, Fox College Sports? Perfect.

From the organizers of the College Hoops Classic, the O'Reilly Auto Parts Classic, and other pre-season tournaments comes this rival to the NIT. While the 32-team NCAA-owned NIT now has a rule about being .500 or better, and gives automatic bids to teams that win their regular season but lose the automatic bid in their conference tournament, the CBI is all about the money.

Organizers of the CBI are trying to lure teams away form the NIT with promises of more money, home games (meaning more money), and guaranteed exposure on Fox Regional Sports affiliates. Compelling to your humble correspondent is the idea that the last two teams will play a best-two-out-of-three final.

It is also wise enough not to schedule any of its games opposite the NCAAs. All-in-all, if crappy teams can go to bowl games and sell t-shirts., then crappy basketball teams should be allowed to hang a CBI banner.

The Daily Herald is reporting that one such team is the Illinois-Chicago Flames, they of the 18-15 record. the school has signed a contract with the College Basketball Invitational.
The contract doesn't guarantee the Flames will be in the field that will be announced Sunday, but it gets them in the mix.

If UIC gets in, it requires a not insignificant investment on the school's part. The Flames must guarantee $60,000 to the tournament, with that money being recouped with ticket sales, etc. Sounds like a losing proposition to me. Missouri agrees. On the other hand, Rhode Island wants a bid. Washington is ready to be convinced.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Shithead Convention

A drunk who enables steroid users and dead pitchers, a boorish coach who calls media people whores, and then becomes one himself, and the father of a guy who starts brawls in Spring Training games.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Sean Marshall's Wife Redefines "TV Personality"

The Cubs were on WGN today, and as background noise, it was just fine. Len and Bob had a whole bunch of guests saying the same things they have said in the papers the past week, until Alexis Marshall, wife of Cub lefty (and Brian Roberts trade bait) Sean Marshall. She was flogging some food drive at Spring Training in Mesa. I suppose they were counting on the Superstation to reach the Arizona fans.

Anyway, they are newlyweds. Brenly asked if she knew "what she was getting herself into" by marrying a "major league pitcher." She wondered if he knew what he was getting by being with a "television personality." A whaaat, I thought? Never heard of her.
After a modicum of research, I found she is Alexis of Ron, Rick and Alexis on the Fox affiliate in Phoenix' morning show. Television personality? I suppose. She does not cop to the identity of her husband, but does refer to her dog, "Cubby."

What I found really compelling was her blog. She talks about everything, yet nothing at all. She reminded me of Suzanne Stone.
On American Idol: Melinda Doolittle was on set with us this morning! ...she was also such a sweetheart! She said that she’s been SUPER busy since American Idol, but loves her schedule and all the cool things she gets to do.
On Chicago (and coming to the Cubs Convention): I am going to Chicago this weekend and boy is it going to be so cold there. The high on Saturday is supposed to be 9 degrees. BRRRRR! Even though I would choose warm weather over cold weather any day, I am looking forward to a nice chilly weekend. Once in a while it’s fun to bundle up in your warmest sweater and drink hot chocolate. The good news is, I’m only going for a weekend, so if I can’t handle the Chicago weather…I’ll be back to sunny, mild Arizona on Monday.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

It appears that Coach Sampson is gone. Dan Dakich (a good guy) will be the interim guy and likely have no chance short of a Steve Fisher situation of keeping the job. Well, after the dust has settled on Sampson, can we also take out the person that put this fine university into this situation? Rick Greenspan knew that Sampson had baggage when he hired him, and now must also be removed for his inability to control him.

It would be epically disproportional for Sampson to be fired (and effectively blackballed inthe profession) while Greenspan would keep his job.

All I know is that if Greenspan keeps his job, the new basketball coach better be a guy who will win, and win big, and not come close to Knight-like misanthropy or Sampson-era violations.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

If Sampson Goes, Greenspan Must Follow

So, it looks like Indiana University is going to fire its coach. Why? For overzealous recruitment of players. What he did not do was choke his players, put tampons in their lockers, headbutt them, throw chairs in response to bad referee calls, and generally act like a bully.

The person that hired this coach, the athletic director, is taking all of seven days to report back to the president, and make a recommendation.

The reason that everyone thinks that Coach Kelvin Sampson is gone is because he is repeating the same mistakes (or violations) that he did while at Oklahoma. He is being fired for being a repeat offender. So, why is the person that hired Sampson, Rick Greenspan, not getting fired himself? He brought this mess to the university that is so bent on not being tainted by a cheater.

Will this satisfy the Knight fans? Getting rid of a guy who violated NCAA rules but never was an ass like Knight. Do they want Knight and his by-gone system back? Will they mind a .500 team if that means 100% graduation and not even a sniff of scandal?

Yes, I realize that you can win and be clean, but dumping Sampson and not the guy who hired him? Wouldn’t make sense.

OK, hire Tom Crean, Bo Ryan, Sean Miller, or maybe even Kevin Stallings.

All I know is the new guy better win.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Am I Confused, or is this Hypocrisy?

As I will find out in person tonight, the Orange Krush section and all lame-brained Crying Illini fans are all upset over Eric Gordon committing to Illinois, then signing with Indiana.

But now, from today’s Chicago Tribune story about College Football Signing Day, we get this:

Illinois benefited from the decommitment craze. Corey Lewis, a 6-6, 278-pound offensive tackle from East Stroudsburg, Pa., switched from Virginia recently.Earlier, Illinois picked up Ford and Homewood-Flossmoor linebacker Russell Ellington, both of whom had committed to Iowa, and Cahokia tight end London Davis, who had committted to Missouri.

So, it’s OK in football?
Then there is the fecal matter coming from this nimrod columnist at the Daily Illini.

Nice comments from a school that gave away Chevy Blazers during the Henson/Collins era and has had multiple NCAA violations (i.e. Mike White). Illinois, lest you forget, went before the NCAA Infractions Committee three times for violations in Men's Basketball and Football.

Let's not forget last year's car wreck involving illini players. Was Jamar Smith punished? He was red-shirted so the story would die down.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Why Bobby Knight Retired Now

Sure, he could wait, he could do a "victory lap," and gather a bunch of rocking chairs and golf clubs, and he could be made to make gracious remarks all around a conference where he landed after being ignominiously shitcanned eight years ago.

But the real reason he quit now, in the middle of the season, is a simple one: Nepotism. Bob Knight (or someone in his circle) announced at least a few years ago that his son Pat, would take over once the Classic Bully quit. The story then was that Pat's recruiting was so bad that his dad would have to renege on scholarship offers.

But by quitting so abruptly in the middle of the season, he can command the continuity of his son in this major conference program. Even if he stinks.
If he quit effective at the end of the season, the athlectic director, could do a search for a real coach. Now, Little Knight will get the half season, then demand his own chance, not just 10-odd games.
The same thing is done all over American coaching, business, and politics. It still stinks, and hopefully Texas Tech will have the guts to make Pat the Passer earn his job.

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Always Classy Illini Fans

So, last night, while watching the latest Illinois loss (I was watching simply as an exercise in scouting), Erin Andrews reported that Illinois players were complaining that the wonderful Illinois student section, the "Orange Crush," (or is it Krush) was booing Chester Frazier, though Frazier is apparently injured.

I don't remember those wacky Dukie-wannabes booing Jamar Smith for leaving his teammate Brian Carwell for dead last February.

I guess when you lose to Miami of Ohio, Tennessee State, Ohio State and Penn State at home, huh?

Also, loved hearing Brent Musberger quoting Harry Caray's great "Can't be fun at the old ballpark, friends" line after telling Steve Lavin to stop "yapping" about the current BCS setup that the Big Ten favors while broadcasting a Big Ten game.

IU will beat these losers by 20 Sunday night.