Monday, March 30, 2009

A blow, but not a fatal one

Gotta be honest with you: I wanted to blog over this past weekend about as much as I wanted my boxers set on fire (with me in them).

Why? Another slight setback on the road to my big journalistic comeback. I won't name the company, but I thought I had a pretty cool freelance gig set up only to discover that I didn't. 

For the first time since I became a free agent, I felt really down. As a result, the last thing I wanted to do Friday or Saturday was write TBT or anything else, so forgive me for my brief absence.

But, human Superball that I am, I bounced back and posted Sunday. And now, taking a page out of the Benjamin Button book, I'm going back to my youth as I age. 

I'm returning on a freelance basis to the AP, my employer for my first 16 years of adulthood, and mostly will be writing game stories about the Cubs and White Sox once or twice a week. 

I'm also toying with finally writing my first book, though I've said that before. We'll see if I follow through now that I've called myself out publicly!

The urgency of working on "a deadline every minute," as the old AP mantra goes, should be an interesting change for me. And it will keep me writing professionally until I decide what I want to do in the event I ever grow up.

As for The Baldest Truth, I'll keep on keeping on for the foreseeable future. In fact, starting Wednesday, I'll be previewing the baseball season in my own warped way.

Thanks for sticking with me, everybody.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Kentucky has tradition - but not the best job

Sunday's final four:

1. Why, why, why on earth would Tom Izzo, John Calipari, Billy Donovan or any other coach who already has built a top-tier program be even the least bit interested in going to Kentucky now that another good coach has been driven away from Bluegrass country?

Izzo is back in the Final Four with Michigan State, which for the last decade has established itself as the premier program in the Big Ten and one of the very best in the country - far better than Kentucky, in fact.

Calipari is worshipped in Memphis, where he is king of Conference USA and where he successfully recruits some of the very best players in the land.  According to several ratings services, he is bringing the No. 1 class of 2009 to Memphis. At Kentucky, the alums and other hard-core fans probably would expect him to do better than No. 1. Who needs it?

Donovan has won two national titles at Florida and continues to bring top talent to Gainesville, where he is revered for having already given the thumbs down to Kentucky once.

As a bonus - a huge, enormous, gigandulous bonus - none of these guys faces the kind of scrutiny and pressure in his current job as he would at Kentucky. As an extra bonus, all are paid the same kind of outrageous salaries they'd get from the Bluegrass boyz.

There are a handful of traditional powerhouse programs and Kentucky is one of them. (Duke, North Carolina, Kansas, Indiana and UCLA also leap to mind.) But I'd say that many others, including Michigan State, Memphis and UConn, have pulled alongside - and, in many cases, surpassed - those traditional powers. 

Funny thing about tradition in sports: It guarantees nothing. Just ask the Cowboys how much tradition has been worth on the playing field the last few years. New traditions get established all the time in sports; witness the Red Sox now being clutch winners while the Yankees have become chokers.

Tom Crean left Marquette for Indiana, saying it was a slam-dunk decision because "Indiana is Indiana." Well, Indiana hasn't been Indiana for awhile now, including Bobby Knight's last half-dozen years there, and Marquette - thanks in great part to Crean - has surpassed Indiana by miles. Crean is counting on tradition helping him recruit better players to Indiana than he did to Marquette, but most ratings services say his Marquette replacement, Buzz Williams, will be bringing in a group as good as or better than Crean will to Hoosierland.

Of course, once upon an Al McGuire time, Marquette was one of those traditional powerhouses. 

Yes, Kentucky has tradition out the ying-yang. But so do many other places where the pressure isn't so great a coach feels like killing himself 50 times a year. There are too many other fantastic schools at which a coach can win big without putting himself through the torture.

2. Saturday's Villanova-Pitt game was so good, I found myself actually cheering several plays - something I very rarely do because I'm more of a detached appreciator of excellence than I am of a fan. I must admit: It was pretty darn fun.

3. As usual, the "experts" couldn't stop talking about the distractions facing UConn after word of possible NCAA recruiting violations surfaced before the weekend. Ridiculous. Why would UConn players be even the slightest bit distracted by this? Turns out, they weren't, as the Huskies took down Purdue and Missouri to get to the Final Four.

4. In honor of  Tiger Woods officially being back, it's time to take a mulligan on my Final Four picks. What other choice do I have, since I managed to go a sterling 0-for-4?

As much as I appreciate Izzo's Spartans, UConn can play whatever game Michigan State wants to play - and play it just a tad better. On the other side of the bracket, I'm going with the upset: Villanova's tough, talented perimeter players, augmented by vastly underrated Dante Cunningham, making Carolina blue.

And in the all-Big East title game ... UConn 80, 'Nova 74.

Call your bookies and pull out those wallets, folks. I mean, I haven't steered you wrong yet!

Friday, March 27, 2009


Did yoga for the first time in my life, which must have been pretty comical to witness. Also, got a massage. Ahhhhh.

In other words, I'm chillin' a little - a theme I'm gonna carry over to TBT for a day or two.

Be back at you Sunday night with another post.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A League of Its Own

Thursday's final four:

1. Two words, my friends: Big East. Instead of wondering if there will be four No. 1 seeds in the Final Four for the second straight year, we probably should wonder if one conference will capture all four spots for the first time ever.

2. How 'bout Mizzou? Or maybe a better question is this: How the hell did the Tigers get trounced by Illinois back in December? DeMarre Carroll just might be the best player most of America doesn't know. As usual, the kid was everywhere for Missouri in its impressive win over Memphis to reach the Elite Eight. It's hard to imagine the Tigers taking out UConn in the West final, but they've done a pretty good job smacking around doubters - and opponents - so far.

3. In Villanova, Duke ran into a faster, stronger, defensively superior version of itself. The result was so predictable ... I'm mad as hell I didn't predict it.

4. Hey, look at those oft-maligned (quite oft by me) Chicago Bulls! They're playing so well lately, they probably could win a couple of NCAA tourney games.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

WBC: Why's Bud Cuckoo?

The Bald Truth

Commish/jalopy salesman Bud Selig says the intensity of the competitors (the non-American competitors, anyway) and the excitement of the fans (the non-American fans, anyway) prove that the WBC is a great thing. Did he watch Wednesday's NIT hoops game between St. Mary's and San Diego State?

I'm guessing not. And I'm guessing you didn't, either. Neither did I, but I did see the closing seconds. That was enough for me to see San Diego State hold off St. Mary's in the final seconds to win a three-point game and earn a trip to Madison Square Garden for next week's semifinals.

After the final horn, gleeful San Diego State fans stormed the court, and the Aztecs players celebrated as if they had just won the national title.

Hey, that gives me an idea for the perfect marketing slogan for Bud's main event ...

The WBC: Almost as big as the NIT.


Several ballplayers who sacrificed much of spring training to compete for Team USA have voiced displeasure upon hearing Selig say they weren't intense enough. They weren't thrilled with the Commish's demand that the country's true stars take part four years from now, when the event again rears its needless head.

Beautiful, Bud. Rip the guys who did volunteer to turn out for the cause. That's quite a way to recruit top players for the 2013 WBC.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Can't spell Kosuke Fukudome without lots of K's

The Bald Truth

Japan's manager benched Kosuke Fukudome for the WBC championship game after the flailing $48 Million Cubbie had batted .200 with no extra-base hits and seven strikeouts in seven games. Japan won the title without him.

Great to see that spending the winter back home and most of spring training with his compatriots has straightened K-Fu out just in time for the season.


Congratulations to Chris Roberts, whose last-second, 75-foot fling lifted Bradley into the semifinals of the tournament.

The coach of the losing team, Oakland's Greg Kampe, has filed a formal protest, claiming that Roberts couldn't possibly have gotten the inbounds pass, taken two or three steps and released the basketball within the 9/10ths of a second that was on the clock after Oakland had scored the go-ahead hoop.

"The video will show," Kampe said, "our kids won the game."

Though there's no way his protest will prevent Bradley from advancing, our sources say college hoops honchos will create yet another tournament just for Oakland: The One Team One Title Tourney.

Monday, March 23, 2009

First cars, superstars and har-de-hars

The Big Milestone

That's my soon-to-graduate-from-college daughter, Katie, and her first car. 

She took possession of it Monday and drove it back to Lawrence U. in Appleton. With its 4-wheel-drive, the 2003 Ford Escape will help her navigate the Wisconsin winters and will give all of us - including her old man and old lady - a little peace of mind. 

For those wondering exactly how spoiled Katie is ... we didn't let her get her driver's license until she was 18, she had no wheels until now and she put up a pretty nice chunk of her own hard-earned cash toward this graduation present (which has 81,000 miles on it).

Congrats, Katie, you deserve it!

The Bald Truth

Although he did nothing but contribute the genes, Michael Jordan was still the man in the spotlight as son Marcus helped Whitney Young win the Illinois big-schools prep hoops title.

The media barely cared that the school won a championship. After all, the real important news was that Michael shed tears over his son's exploits.

No matter what, it's always about Michael, isn't it?

The Balder Truth

One weekend in, I'm already tired of hearing announcers yammer on about players in the NCAA tournament experiencing "fatigue."

Please. As Bobby Knight said years ago: With all of the time outs that are called - and the length of said time outs - any 20-year-old who is tired must be in pretty crappy shape.

A 30-second time out lasts about 90 seconds, a full time out lasts about 2 1/2 minutes and a TV time out goes on for approximately an ice age. March Madness, indeed.

Believe me, these superbly conditioned athletes get far more fatigued during every team practice than they do during NCAA tourney games.


"Four World Series, three world championships. That there are men with plaques in Cooperstown who never experienced one - and I was able to be on three teams over seven years that won it all - is another 'beyond my wildest dreams' set of memories I'll take with me." - Curt Schilling, announcing his retirement on his blog.

He averaged only about 11 victories during his 20-year career, but I'm leaning toward giving Schilling my Hall of Fame vote when he's eligible in five years.


His incredible postseason performance (11-2, 2.23 ERA). 

His role in helping the Red Sox reverse the Curse of the Bambino.

His outstanding pitching during the heart of the Steroid Era. 

And, of course, his humility. I mean, at least he stopped short of claiming to be the best pitcher ever.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Hats off to victors (Mizzou) - and even to victims (Marquette)

Sunday's final four:

1. Because Michigan State somehow was chosen as Chicago's "home" team - even though Marquette has a massive alumni base here and is only an hour and a half away - I had to watch most of the Marquette-Missouri game on a laptop computer while Michigan State-USC droned on in the background on my beautiful HDTV. CBS's feed repeatedly froze and the network experienced a couple of long stretches of outages due to its own technical difficulties. It was like the Dark Ages, man, so ... so ... so ... 2006!

2. My lads fought valiantly but couldn't quite pull off the upset. I'd love to blame the refs or injuries or sunspots for the 83-79 loss, but Missouri earned the victory by playing extraordinarily well in the first half and then coming through in the clutch. Even though Marquette's season is over, I really enjoyed this edition of the Golden Warrior Eagles. The class of Jerel McNeal, Dominic James and Wes Matthews played hard and well for four years. As a fan, I never felt cheated, and there's not much more we can ask for from our athletes. 

3. Between Wisconsin's hack-first defense, the Badgers' slow-mo offense and the refs calling a foul every time a player on either team breathed on an opponent, the Wisconsin-Xavier game had all the pace and entertainment value of somebody changing a flat tire. I'm still trying to figure out how Wisconsin made the tourney, how the Badgers beat Florida State in the first round and how Xavier merited a No. 4 seed. I'd say that Xavier's stay in the tournament from here on in will be a short one, but its next opponent, Pitt, hasn't exactly been playing like the team so many folks (including this folk) picked to win it all.

4. How's your bracket? I'm not going to set any records, but I'm 37-11 after the first two rounds and still have seven of my final eight alive. (West Virginia? Oy! What was I thinking?) I'm looking forward to next weekend, when the stars really will shine. Who will emerge as the one transcendant star - the guy who, like Stephen Curry in 2008 - everybody will be talking about? Terrence Williams? Blake Griffin? Ty Lawson? Hasheem Thabeet? Gerald Henderson? DeJuan Blair? JaJuan Johnson? Tyreke Evans? Jonny Flynn? I'm thinking Griffin is really going to put on a show in carrying Oklahoma past Lawson, Tyler Hansbrough and the rest of the Tar Heels. Regardless of what happens, it will be fun watching it unfold.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Coach K puts it on the line for Duke

Saturday's final four:

1. In the final seconds, with Duke at the line trying to extend a 3-point lead, Coach K did what far too few coaches do: Instead of having nobody line up in any of the free-throw rebounding positions, thereby surrending a missed shot to the opponent, he had a player take one of the spots. Sure enough, when the foul shot was missed, David McClure kept the ball alive for the Dookies. Teammate Gerald Henderson emerged from a scramble with the ball, got fouled and iced the game with two free throws. Given the funny bounces the basketball can take, why do coaches so often just concede the rebound to the opponent? I know the answer: They are afraid of a player being called for a loose-ball foul. But think about it: A coach trusts players to do all manner of things during the course of a game but won't trust them to steer clear of a foul in a key situation? Well, Coach K trusted McClure. Rather than trying not to lose, he was trying to win. Just another reason Coach K is one of the best ever.

2. And speaking of free throws ... I felt really good about my upset pick of Western Kentucky over Gonzaga. And the Hilltoppers probably would have pulled it off if they hadn't gone 5-for-14 from the line. Texas, meanwhile, was 16-for-25 in losing the close one to Duke. This time of year, if you don't hit your free throws, you're dead.

3. Illinois certainly missed Chester Frazier and Marquette misses Dominic James ... but please. Ty Lawson, an NBA stud in the making, showed Saturday just what North Carolina had been missing when the superstar point guard was out with his toe injury. Yeah, but Lawson has so much more talent around him, right? Right - and yet he still took over and was the difference in the second half when the Tar Heels needed him against LSU. What a player.

4. As is the case going into Sunday's meeting, Marquette and Missouri were the 3 and 6 seeds in the 2003 tourney (although back then, unlike now, Marquette was the 3 and Mizzou was the 6). That game was an overtime classic, with Travis Diener and Steve Novak - not Dwyane Wade - carrying the day for a talented Marquette team that used the victory as a springboard to the Final Four. Sounds like a plan! Hey, a Golden Warrior Eagles fan can dream, right?

NCAA tourney delivers - as usual

Friday's final four:

1. If you don't love the NCAA basketball tournament, why even bother loving sports? Those who were a little disappointed that the first-day action didn't produce more thrills needed to wait only a few hours. Friday included victories by the 13th-seeded Cinderfellas of Cleveland State, classic 12/5 upsets pulled off by Wisconsin and Arizona, and a month's worth of late-game heroics. There is nothing - nothing! - better than this. It is the one major sporting event that never fails to live up to the hype.

2. The only thing more stunning than Cleveland State's victory over No. 4 Wake Forest was the ease in which it occurred. The Vikings were in control from the opening tip to the final horn in knocking out a team many thought could sneak into the Final Four. Another popular choice as a possible Final Four crasher, fifth-seeded Florida State, was victimized by Wisconsin. As I watched the game, I was thinking: "Remember when Trevon Hughes was going to be the Badgers' next great player? What ever happened to that?" Well, it was Hughes who came through with the huge, old-fashioned, drive-and-a-foul 3-point play to give Wisconsin an amazing triumph. I still don't think Wisconsin deserved a bid ... but as long as they were invited to the party, they are to be praised for showing up ready to rock and roll.

3. Kudos to CBS for the spectacular way it handled the tense moments in two OT games that were unfolding simultaneously: Wisconsin-Florida State and Siena-Ohio State. The network slickly provided every big play live for its audience, and the announcing teams (Craig Bolerjack/Bob Wenzel for UW-FSU and Verne Lundquist/Bill Raftery for Siena-OSU) were spot-on in capturing the drama. The time I spent watching the endings of both games was about as much fun as a guy can have sitting alone in his recliner.

4. After the first round, my prognostication record stands at 26-6. Not great, for sure, but more than twice as good as Hoopster in Chief Barack Obama. Really, Mr. President? 19-13? Here's hoping you're better at fixing the economy than you are at filling out a bracket.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Way to go, Marquette Bald Eagles!

Friday's not-yet-final four:

1. Had I known the Marquette players were going to shave their heads, I'd have picked my Golden Warrior Bald Eagles to win the national title!

2. After a flying start, my bracket took a severe hit Friday afternoon. I put too much faith in West Virginia - predicting that Bob Huggins' Mountaineers would reach the Elite Eight - and it cost me when they lost to Dayton. So while I'm 21-3 through three sessions, it feels like I'm doing a lot worse.

3. Note to extremely red-faced bully-turned-yakker Bobby Knight: SPF 100, dude!

4. Those of us who have Pitt as our eventual national champions can't feel too good after the Panthers were taken to the limit by mighty East Tennessee State. Another performance like that against Oklahoma State, and Pitt can pack it up. Then again, the ETSU debacle might have been just the "Hey wake up, Dummies!" Pittsburgh needed.

(Check back in on TBT after the night games for Friday's final four.)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

No disrespect, but Illini simply not good enough

Thursday's final four:

1. Illinois wasn't a fashionable pick as an upset victim only because it was being "disrespected" (as the Illini and their supporters loved to claim). Nor was it simply that Illinois was the No. 5 seed in the dreaded 5/12 matchup. No, those of us who have seen the Fighting Illini a lot this season knew how flawed they were - and that was with leader Chester Frazier, who was injured and unavailable for the NCAAs. 

Sure enough, as predicted, the Illini were beaten Thursday night by Western Kentucky. It wasn't an out-of-left-field pick. The Hilltoppers probably were too good to be seeded 12th, and Illinois had no business being a No. 5.

The Illini played hard at the end to make it close, but all too often, they were feeling sorry for themselves, getting beaten to the ball and playing foolishly. 

Why didn't Mike Davis - the best matchup advantage they had - have more touches down low? Why was Demetri McCamey seemingly going through the motions? Where was Mike Tisdale? Why did Frazier spend most of the night pouting, looking frustrated and burying his head in his hands when his teammates needed him to lift their spirits? 

In many ways, Bruce Weber did his best coaching job this season. In the end, however, several years of less-than-stellar recruiting caught up with Weber and his lads. For example, with Frazier out, Weber had to give former walk-on Jeff Jordan major minutes. 

Help is on the way, as Weber has landed several big-time recruits. The Illini exceeded expectations all season. That won't be easy to do next year, when expectations will be significantly higher.

2. It's patently unfair that the selection committee let Villanova play its first two games in its home town of Philadelphia. This wasn't the same as letting Illinois play in Chicago back in 2005; it was more like letting Illinois play NCAA tourney games in Urbana. Even though I picked 'Nova to advance, I found myself rooting for its plucky opponent, American. The Eagles controlled most of the game before wilting at the end. Too bad.

3. Note to media mopes covering the tournament: Stop taking the microphone at press conferences and addressing a coach or an athlete by saying: "Talk about ... " Don't be lazy, for cripe's sake. Think of an intelligent question and ask it.

4. Both the Big Ten and the NCAA tournament are better when Michigan is good. It's almost impossible to believe it had been more than a decade since the Wolverines last qualified for the tourney. They aren't quite experienced enough to make serious noise this time around, but John Beilein is an excellent coach and Thursday's opening victory over Clemson shows that the program is on the way back. Michigan might make it all the way back next season if Manny Harris, truly an NBA talent, means it when he says he'll return.

(I went 15-1 as a prognosticator on Day 1, missing only on my Mississippi State over Washington upset shot. I'd happily take 1-15 on Day 2 - as long as the 1 is my Marquette Golden Warrior Eagles! Back at you Friday.)

Memphis pussycats almost tamed

Thursday's not-yet-final four:

1. Needing 35 points from a normally low-scoring bench player to beat mighty Northridge, Memphis gave quite a scare to those of us who have pegged the Tigers for the Final Four. If Memphis doesn't play significantly better Saturday, it will lose to an impressive Maryland team that, unlike Memphis, comes out of a real conference.

2. Note to play-by-play men, color commentators, studio hosts and analysts of all stripes: Please, please, pretty please stop using the phrase "score the ball." It's meaningless blather. 

3. Much to the delight of most of my fellow alums, Marquette was referred to as the "Warriors" in Sports Illustrated's tourney preview issue. Yes, we were the Warriors for four decades, including my time at the school. But aside from that memorably humiliating six-day stretch in 2004 in which we were supposed to embrace "The Gold" as our nickname, we've been (like it or not) the Golden Eagles for 15 years now. Here's hoping the SI folks were as wrong about Marquette's NCAA prospects - they predicted we'd lose to Utah State in Friday's opener - as they were about MU's current moniker.

4. After the afternoon session, I'm 7-1 as a tourney prognosticator. That's great because it means I can't finish any worse than 7-56!

(Check back after the night games for more NCAA natterings.)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Bracket Time

The Bald Truth


Louisville over Morehead State. Believe it or not, the Cardinals are even better than Alabama State.

Ohio State over Siena. Fred Taylor would be so proud.

Arizona over Utah. Just a 12-5 upset hunch.

Wake Forest over Cleveland State. Closer than one might think.

West Virginia over Dayton. Start of something beautiful for Mountaineers.

Kansas over North Dakota State. Sherron Collins played against my son in eighth grade and is still motivated by visions of Ben's thunder dunks.

USC over Boston College. If you lose to Harvard, can you win in the NCAAs?

Michigan State over Robert Morris. Might be closer if Sparty had to contend with more than one player. Who is this Morris guy, anyway?

UConn over Chattanooga. By the time this is over, Huskies will own the choo-choo, too.

Texas A&M over BYU. After which, Jim McMahon will moon Bill Raftery.

Purdue over Northern Iowa. Healthy Boilermakers just heating up.

Mississippi State over Washington. One 13th seed will win, so why not Bulldogs?

Marquette over Utah State. Don't think this Golden Warrior Eagles alum isn't more than a little worried about this one.

Missouri over Cornell. Amazing that the team Illinois dismantled back in December ended up as a No. 3 seed.

Maryland over Cal. ACC also-ran gets nod over Pac-10 also-ran.

Memphis over Northridge. Keeping with the West Regional trend of picking schools that start with M.

Pitt over East Tennessee State. DeJuan Blair eats teams like this for breakfast. Literally. I mean, have you seen DeJuan Blair?

Tennessee over Oklahoma State. Hope Pat Summitt keeps her shirt on if she's cheering.

Florida State over Wisconsin. Seminoles won't be bored into submission by Bo's Badgers.

Xavier over Portland State. If only Neil Lomax were still around.

UCLA over Virginia Commonwealth. I picked VCU over Duke two years ago but can't imagine another lightning strike.

Villanova over American. First Bernie Madoff and now this; how much loss can Americans take?

Texas over Minnesota. Rarely has so much mediocrity captivated so few.

Duke over Binghamton. Take that, Tony Kornheiser!

North Carolina over Radford. With one Ty tied behind their backs.

LSU over Butler. Dawg Pound will be licking its wounds.

Western Kentucky over Illinois. Smoke blows away and mirrors crack for Illini.

Gonzaga over Akron. Zags over Zips.

Arizona State over Temple. No (Dionte) Christmas cheer.

Syracuse over Stephen F. Austin. Yeah, but let's see 'em stop Stephen A. Smith!

Michigan over Clemson. Welcome back to the dance, Wolverines.

Oklahoma over Morgan State. Scratch MSU's Itchy Bolden from tourney.


Louisville over Ohio State. Pitino won't need to break out his Travolta suit.

Wake Forest over Arizona. Wildcats are out of their Teague.

West Virginia over Kansas. Ending one heck of a run for Bill Self.

Michigan State over USC. Kalin Lucas is just too good.

UConn over Texas A&M. Huskies don't like being least respected No. 1.

Purdue over Mississippi State. JaJuan Johnson is gagreat player.

Marquette over Missouri. Yes, Marquette lost five times down the stretch ... to UConn, 'Ville, Pitt, 'Cuse and 'Nova. Relatively speaking, Mizzou should be a breeze.

Memphis over Maryland. Derrick Rose probably wishes he were still there.

Pitt over Tennessee. A beatdown so bad, it will leave even Lane Kiffin speechless.

Florida State over Xavier. Thankfully, we won't have to listen to announcers saying "Ex-Avier" again 'til next season.

Villanova over UCLA. Sad way for John Wooden to celebrate his 211th birthday.

Duke over Texas. The swagger is back for the Dookies.

North Carolina over LSU. Enough to make Roy Williams cry.

Western Kentucky over Gonzaga. Gotta pick somebody to be this year's Cinderfellas. Might as well choose the team playing yesteryear's Cinderfellas.

Syracuse over Arizona State. Almost picked ASU in an upset but then changed my mind. In other words, the smart money is on Sun Devils.

Oklahoma over Michigan. It won't be close enough for the Wolverines to be done in by a bad time-out call.

The Balder Truth


Louisville over Wake Forest. Terrence Williams is one of the top five pro prospects in the nation.

West Virginia over Michigan State. If you hadn't heard of WVU frosh Devin Ebanks, you'll know him now.

UConn over Purdue. Thanks for playing, Big Ten.

Memphis over Marquette.  Even I can't pick this upset.

Pitt over Florida State. I'd be tempted to go with the 'Noles if I didn't think Pitt was the best team in the country.

Duke over Villanova. It will come down to 3-point shooting, and that's Duke's game.

North Carolina over Western Kentucky. Well, it was fun while it lasted for the Hilltoppers.

Oklahoma over Syracuse. As long as the Sooners can finish 'em off in regulation.


Louisville over West Virginia. Too many waves of Cardinals for Huggy Bear's Mountaineers.

Memphis over UConn. The Huskies really will miss Jerome Dyson in this one.

Pitt over Duke. The breakthrough victory Pitt has been eyeing forever.

Oklahoma over North Carolina. Blake Griffin whips Tyler Hansbrough and ensures No. 1 draft status.



Louisville over Memphis. 'Ville can match Memphis' athleticism and defensive intensity ... and then some.

Pitt over Oklahoma. No surprise here: An all-Big East title game.


Pitt over Louisville. 

When the teams met back in mid-January, the Cardinals' smothering, swarming defense held Pitt to 1-for-16 shooting down the stretch. Though an even better team now, Louisville won't have home cooking this time. The Panthers will handle whatever 'Ville throws at them in what should be a highly entertaining title matchup.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Thank goodness for WBC

Down goes Chipper Jones!

Down goes Ryan Braun!

Down goes Dustin Pedroia!

Down goes Marlins closer Matt Lindstrom!

Yes, this World Baseball Classic sure is fun for kids of all ages.

Bud Selig and the handful of other proponents of this unnecessary crock would argue that these players very well might have gotten hurt had they been participating in spring training with their teams. They would argue that injuries are part of the game.

They can argue whatever they want. All I know is that it is the players are paid handsomely by their teams to play for their teams. And they are best served by being with their teams, preparing for the season at a reasonable pace, not trying to wow the world at full speed in overhyped exhibition games.

It only took me an hour or so of research to discover that 12 of the 13 pitchers who worked at least an inning for Team USA during WBC I back in 2006 went on to have higher ERAs - significantly higher, in many cases - that season than they had in 2005. And that doesn't count all of the non-American pitchers and all of the position players who were adversely affected.

And now, here is Lindstrom - the new closer for a young, talented Marlins club that is expected to make some noise in the NL East - straining the rotator cuff in his pitching shoulder in Sunday's game against the Netherlands.

Lindstrom had felt a little soreness while warming up but decided to pitch through it. Of the injury, he said: "It could happen anywhere."

Maybe, but it did happen in the WBC - quite possibly because he felt actual pressure to actually perform in an actual game. Yep, they don't get any bigger than USA-Netherlands.

That the injuries to All-Stars Jones, Pedroia and Braun aren't considered as serious is beside the point.

Lindstrom is the second Marlins player to suffer a physical setback in the WBC, joining valuable utility player Alfredo Amezaga on the list of key contributors who are out indefinitely.

It sure would bite if those injuries cost the Marlins the division title. 

But at least they'd be able to take a little solace in the fact that Team USA scored a huge victory over the Dutch.


Brackets Ahead 

I'll be back Wednesday in The Baldest Truth with my NCAA tourney picks, so get ready to play those million-dollar parlays.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Planting seed of Illinois upset

Four (but a nowhere near final four) observations regarding the NCAA tourney bracket:

1. Of the 5/12 matchups notorious for producing upsets, Illinois will be a popular choice to make an early exit. And it would be hard to blame those who feel that way. The Illini's first-round opponent, Western Kentucky, defeated Louisville on a neutral court and led Florida State midway through the second half before fading. Even if Chester Frazier were healthy - and he isn't - Illinois would have to be considered a shaky No. 5 seed. It says here that all four No. 6 seeds (UCLA, Arizona State, Marquette and West Virginia) are better than the Illini, who defend well but are prone to almost comical offensive swoons.

2. The Penn Staters are upset, but the Nittany Lions have only their own schedule-maker to blame. At least the schools from mid-major and small conferences have an excuse - the big teams won't play them, especially on the road. But what's Penn State's excuse for having one of the softest non-conference schedules in the entire country? It's nice to see the selection committee reward teams that play more than cupcakes. Take heart, Nittany Lions: You'll always have those two wins over Illinois - including that unforgettable 38-33 thriller.

3. Of course UConn deserved to join Big East brethren Louisville and Pitt as a No. 1 seed. No, it isn't Memphis' fault that it's "stuck" in Conference USA while UConn is in the nation's toughest league. It is, however, a fact. While the Tigers' main competition was coming from the likes of Tulsa, UAB, Houston and UTEP, UConn was going to war twice a week. Penalizing the Huskies for a six-OT loss to an excellent Syracuse team also would have been ridiculous. Simply stated, Memphis is a No. 2. Everybody likes to rag on the committee this time of year, but the gentlemen did a superb job this year.

4. I need to do a lot more homework before I fill out my bracket and embarrass myself publicly, but here are some of the lower seeds that intrigue me at first glance: West Virginia (No. 6 Midwest), USC (No. 10 Midwest), Tennessee (No. 9 East), LSU (No. 8 South), Maryland (No. 10 West) and, of course, Marquette (No. 6 West). Hey, I'm a fan, too!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Safer travels

The Bald Truth

Good news, hoops fans: NBA honchos are talking about making traveling rules less restrictive because the game has "evolved."

Oh, absolutely. Just the other day, I was thinking that pro basketball players need an invitation to take more steps every time they drive to the basket. 

The referees' current interpretation of the rule - allowing approximately four steps, a couple of "crab dribbles" and a jump stop or three - is positively obsolete.

I mean, why not just let them use hovercraft?

Knockout? More Like Bludgeoning

If you've yet to see Jon Stewart's total annihilation of CNBC Financial Clown Jim Cramer, do yourself a favor and check it out.

I actually almost felt sorry for Cramer.



Wait ... I think I found somebody even more valuable than injured Marquette point guard Dominic James.

Chester Frazier!

Once the object of abject scorn in Illini Land, the senior guard has become the beloved leader of a surprise team. And now Illinois is absolutely lost without him as he deals with his mysterious hand injury.

It's as if all of Illini Land would like to shout in unison:

"We're sorry, Chester! We take back everything we ever called you! Just please, please, pretty please come back before the NCAAs!"

Friday, March 13, 2009

Bo should know the NIT

The Bald Truth

If Wisconsin gets invited to the NCAA tournament, it will because of reputation alone.

The Badgers are 19-12 and have one victory all season over a ranked team - at Michigan in their Big Ten opener. That also serves as their most "quality" road victory. 

They even lost at Iowa - and that's not easy.

Though the selection committee might end up ruling differently, logic suggests the Badgers had to beat Ohio State in the conference tourney Friday to sew up an NCAA bid ... and they couldn't do it.

Bo Ryan is a great coach, but this isn't one of his better teams. It certainly isn't a team worthy of playing in the NCAAs. 

The Balder Truth

Syracuse players are many things, including tough, resilient and well-conditioned. Given their ability to follow a six-overtime victory over UConn with a run-of-the-mill single-OT triumph over West Virginia, "impressive" works well, too. 

OK, now can all commentators please stop with all the talk of "courage"?

The Orangemen didn't rush into a burning building to save lives, didn't go off to war, didn't even take a difficult public stand on a controversial issue.

They are basketball players who played lots of basketball.

Yes, they played it very well, but I sure hope that's not how we're defining "courage" these days. 


Jon Scheyer clanked the front end of a 1-and-1. Boston College then grabbed the rebound and the Eagles, who trailed Duke by one point in the ACC quarterfinals, were steaming up court with a chance to win the game.

That's when coach Al Skinner called a time out.

And he wasn't finished showing how smart he was. Oh no, not even close.

BC got the ball inbounds and advanced it into the frontcourt ... when Skinner called time again. Now there were only 5.5 seconds left.

When play resumed, Duke overplayed Skinner's first option - Tyrese Rice - and BC ended up taking a wild, challenged shot that didn't come close to going in.

Why didn't Skinner simply trust his players, especially Rice, after that missed free throw? Isn't that why the Eagles had spent the last six months practicing, for those exact kind of situations?

With the Dookies scrambling to get back into defensive position, BC had every advantage.

Until Skinner called time. Twice.

Coach S apparently wanted to prove he was smarter than Coach K.

Gee. How did that work out?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Missing Tiger, whiffing Cubbie

The Bald Truth

First, he lost in match play to some dude who had to use a long putter, and now he's tied for 40th place at Doral?

Hey, I thought this Eldrick Woods guy was supposed to be good.

The Quote

"If I used a DH today, I would have a big headache, so we'll let Carlos get his at-bats." - Lou Piniella

Oh, Carlos Zambrano got his at-bats in Thursday's exhibition game against the Japan WBC team. Two of them. Result: 2 Ks, 4 LOBs.

Who does Cra-Z think he is? Kosuke Fukudome?

At least Zambrano fessed up to caring deeply about being named the opening day starter for the fifth straight season. He had been saying it didn't matter.

It matters to Carlos. And to anybody who wants to see the Cubs win the opener. In four career first-day starts, Cra-Z is winless and has a 5.59 ERA. 

He has admitted that he puts too much pressure on himself, which kind of makes you wonder why not just let Ryan Dempster take the start this year at Houston.

Maybe Lou just wants Zambrano's bat in the lineup against Roy Oswalt.


I felt kind of bad after watching my Marquette Golden Warrior Eagles battle back from a 17-point deficit only to lose at the buzzer to Villanova. Then I saw some of Thursday's other scores.

Pitt, the team I declared the nation's best just a few days ago, was smacked around pretty good by West Virginia. Oklahoma and UConn, two other possible NCAA tourney No. 1 seeds, were upset by Oklahoma State and Syracuse, respectively. Kansas lost to Baylor and Clemson fell to the ACC's last-place team, Georgia Tech.

Hey, at least Villanova is one of the best dozen teams in the country.

Yeah, I know: Moral victories are for wimps.

Guilty as charged.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Notre Doom, Bullspit and a rocky Tripp

The Bald Truth

Notre Dame had such a lousy basketball season. Are we sure Charlie Weis isn't running those Fading Irish, too?

Anything You Can Do

After watching on TV as St. John's lost by 29 points to Marquette in the Big East tournament, the inspired Bulls went out and lost by only 28 to Orlando.

Yep, just a few more wins and the Bulls will be NIT ready.

The Balder Truth

Brian McNamee is alleging that he injected Roger Clemens with steroids right at the Yankee Stadium hot tub.

I won't reveal what the two supposedly did next, but let's just say it involved candlelight, Crisco and Clapton's "Wonderful Tonight."


Speaking of unlikely romances, I was devastated to hear that Bristol Palin and her baby daddy, Levi Johnston, have broken up just 2 1/2 months after little Tripp entered the world.

And to think, the teenagers had looked so happy every time Granny Sarah marched them onstage to make a point about family values. 

Remember, kids: "Abstinence is the only thing you need to know about sex ... (wink) ... You betcha!"

Never mind

When I finished my 50-minute workout on the elliptical trainer, DePaul actually was leading Providence 61-57.

By the time I checked on the score after wrapping up a few sets of situps, the Blue Demons were losing 70-62 ... and it didn't get any better for them after that.

And there I had been thinking they might never, ever, ever lose again.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

DePaul wins ... and other impossible ponderables

After going 0-for-2009, DePaul stunned Cincinnati in the first round of the Big East megatourney. Wouldn't it be something if the Blue Demons win their next four games to capture the conference title and then roll to the national championship, too?

And wouldn't it be something if they played Northwestern in the NCAA title game?

And wouldn't it be something if Carlos Marmol could do to the AL pennant winner what he couldn't do to the Netherlands and close out the Cubbies' first championship in 101 years?

And wouldn't it be something if Lovie Smith would ever utter these three words: "I was wrong"?

And wouldn't it be something if Ozzie Guillen could ever utter three words that didn't include two bleeps?

And wouldn't it be something if Tony La Russa would admit that his juicing stars in Oakland and St. Louis bamboozled him?

And wouldn't it be something if Roger Clemens gets to share a cell with Blago?

And wouldn't it be something if people cared as much about their real families as they do about their fantasy teams?

And wouldn't it be something if Kerry Wood, Michael Barrett (or whoever) fessed up to smashing Sammy's boombox?

And wouldn't it be something if those commercials were right and a bald guy really could grow back a full head of hair?

And wouldn't it be something if eating a slice of Craig's Crazy Carrot Cake Cheesecake at the Cheesecake Factory actually would help a guy burn off fat?

And wouldn't it be something if every TV show could be as good as The Wire was?

And wouldn't it be something if Bernard Madoff lived long enough to actually serve 150 years in prison?

And wouldn't it be something if the Dow hit 14,000 by the end of next week?

And wouldn't it be something if our elected officials could pass a stimulus bill that didn't include so much pork it's been banned by both the American Heart Association and the Society of Kosher Butchers?

And wouldn't ... wait a second ... now I'm getting ridiculous. Maybe I should just go back to something a little more realistic.

You know, like that DePaul thing.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Bulls don't need no stinkin' Dwyane Wade

The Bald Truth

Thank goodness John Paxson held onto Donyell Marshall instead of including that all-time superstar in a 2003 draft-day trade that would have brought Dwyane Wade to the Bulls.

I mean, if Pax had made that deal, the Bulls never would have drafted Kirk Hinrich ... and then where would they be?

The Quote

"When I got the steal, what was going through my head is coach said, 'We got a time-out left.' So I was about to call it ... but then I said, 'Nah.'" - Wade

The Balder Truth

Wade's most recent amazing performance came in the Heat's double-overtime win over the Bulls on Monday night, when he capped a 48-point, 12-assist game by stealing the ball from John Salmons and then hitting a running 3-pointer at the buzzer.

He had sent the game into OT with a trey but had missed a difficult reverse layup at the first-overtime buzzer.

Two out of three? Not bad for a Chicago kid whom Illinois and DePaul barely recruited.

As a fellow Marquette Golden Warrior Eagle, all I can say is: Thanks, Illini and Demons!


It's pretty tough to make a case for anybody other than LeBron James as NBA MVP, but one could make a pretty good argument that Wade should be co-MVP.

Would the Heat win even 15 games without the league's leading scorer?

OK, the Cavs would be in pretty serious trouble without James, too. 

Kobe Bryant? Hardly. Great, great player. And I'd probably choose him over either Dwyane or LeBron to take the final shot of a game. But the Lakers would be playoff contenders even if Kobe got charged with rape again and had to spend a mess of time in a Denver courtroom.

One thing for sure: Of the three, only Dwyane has an NBA title since he entered the league.

Another thing for sure: Only the Bulls have Captain Kirk.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Hoops, hoops and more hoops

An elite eight's worth of observations from a wild (and wildly entertaining) weekend of college hoops:

1. It doesn't mean they'll win the title, of course, but the Pitt Panthers are the best team in the country. They beat UConn twice, have three big-time difference-makers and lots of fine supporting actors. And they're not coached by Dave Wannstedt.

2. Nine teams can win the national championship: Pitt, UConn, North Carolina, Duke, Oklahoma, Louisville, Michigan State, Kansas and Memphis. I'm already completely psyched for the NCAA tourney.

3. Most assume Oklahoma stud Blake Griffin will be the national player of the year, but the MVP apparently is Dominic James. Before he broke his foot, my Marquette Golden Warrior Eagles were in first place in the nation's best conference, were ranked No. 8 in the country and were 23-4. Without him, they've gone 0-4 and almost surely won't be seeded higher than sixth in the NCAAs. How could we have known that a 5-foot-10 guy who can't hit 50 percent of his free throws could be so valuable? OK, so maybe they would have lost to UConn, Louisville, Pitt and Syracuse even with James, but ...

4. The Big East is the best conference in the country - and the contest isn't close. Even after the beastly Pitt-UConn-Louisville troika, any of the next four Big East squads would have a good chance of finishing in the top two of just about any other league. I like Memphis' style and coaching ... but really, where would the Tigers have finished if they had to play a Big East schedule instead of a Conference USA schedule? 

5. There's a bigger difference between Michigan State and the rest of the Big Ten pack than there is between any other Big Six conference leader and the rest of its field. Aside from Tom Izzo's lads, the Big Ten features several solid-but-severely-flawed teams that won't survive the opening weekend of the NCAAs.

6. On the one hand ... Chris Lowery has demonstrated why coaches want to get theirs when the opportunity arises. Early in his tenure at Southern Illinois, he had great success with Matt Painter's recruits and received some overtures from major programs. Lowery stayed put - after getting himself a nice raise - and now the program is sliding backward. You have to wonder if he has any regrets about sticking around.

7. On the other hand ... Billy Gillespie had it all at Texas A&M - a huge contract, respect in an excellent league, university support and a great pipeline into his state's prep talent. But when Kentucky came a'callin', he simply had to go, right? I mean, after all, it is Kentucky! Well, there's a lot to be said about being rich, winning big and building a program in a less pressure-filled environment. Gillespie is flaming out in Kentucky, and it won't be long before they come a'callin' again - for his head. It's one of those no-win jobs; I don't know why any coach would subject himself to it.

8. Nice try, Northwestern. For a little while there, it was almost as if you were, um, someone other than Northwestern.

Soft Harden, a Dutch treat and T.O.'s new folly

The Bald Truth

This can't be a good thing for the Cubs:

Just about every time a team official discusses the long-term health prospects of ultra-fragile fastballer Rich Harden, the phrase "knock on wood" gets used.

I'm not making that up. Really.

The Balder Truth

Wow, what a day at the World Baseball Classic. I'm so proud to be Dutch!

What's that you say? My name doesn't seem very Netherlandy?

OK, you got me there. It's not as if Mike Nadel has the same kind of classic Dutch sound to it as Sidney Ponson does.

Anyway, we Netherlanders would have been in trouble had Alex Rodriguez and Aramis Ramirez been in the Dominican Republic lineup. 

A-Roid and A-Ram absolutely would come through in the clutch - just as they always have in postseason play for the Yankees and Cubs.


Young QB ... inexperienced offensive coordinator ... Dick Jauron, a coach who speaks softly and carries no stick at all.

Oh yes, absolutely, Buffalo sounds like the perfect place for a receiver who habitually blames everybody but himself when things go wrong.

And things will go wrong for T.O. and the Bills next season.

Should be fun ... for all of us who aren't in Buffalo.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Hey, Bears: T.O., baby!

The List

Ten reasons the Bears should sign Terrell Owens:

1. Why should Brian Urlacher have to carry the burden of being the team's only overhyped, overpaid, over-the-hill guy?

2. T.O. would show Devin Hester how to drop passes like a true pro.

3. Without Tank JohnsonCedric Benson and Rex Grossman, Bear Country has gotten too damn boring.

4. All those who hate Ron Turner's offense would be able to live vicariously through T.O., who no doubt would articulate his feelings about 15 minutes into the season opener.

5. Ever since Moose Muhammad left, the Bears haven't had anybody to take cheap shots at Kyle Orton. Anybody other than Jerry Angelo, anyway.

6. In the words of Drew Rosenhaus: "Next question!"

7. T.O. is politically correct. He'll disrespect a black coach and a white QB just as completely as he disrespected a white coach and a black QB.

8. Did I say they should sign T.O.? What was I thinking? He'd have no chance to crack a receiving corps that includes Brandon Rideau and Rashied Davis.

9. We know the Bears are "close" to winning the Super Bowl because Coach Lovie says so, and T.O. obviously would be the final piece of the championship puzzle.

10. He already is working on his first end-zone celebration as a Bear: spiking the football over the crossbar while doing a spot-on imitation of Da Coach going postal on Jim Harbaugh.

The Bald Truth

Now that a stand-up, clean-living citizen like Darryl Strawberry has said he, too, would have used steroids, it certainly takes all the juicers off the hook.

The Question

Does A-Roid really have a torn labrum in his hip, or is he just trying to scam some doctor into writing him a prescription for Primobolan?


If you don't watch Friday Night Lights yet, please start doing so: Friday on NBC at 8 p.m. Central.

This show about teen angst, big-time Texas prep football and adults' uncanny ability to mess up youth sports is too good to be scrapped due to lack of viewership.

Step up, people!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

I'll see your 2 Twinkies and raise you 10 Doritos

The Bald Truth

An Illinois legislative committee has voted to let doctors prescribe medicinal marijuana. Patients with a note from their physicians would be allowed to have as many as seven pot plants and 2 ounces of "usable cannabis" in their homes. 

If passed into law, expect millions of frat boys, hundreds of NBA players and Ricky Williams to establish permanent residency in Illinois.

The Balder Truth

Financial meltdown ... unending war in the Middle East ... no college football playoff  ... 

Just when you thought the only news was bad news, here's something truly uplifting:

Manny Ramirez has signed on with the Dodgers to keep Manny being Manny in La-La-Land for at least another year. And Kurt Warner has signed on with the Arizona Cardinals to keep Matt Leinart on the bench for at least another year.

Thank goodness! For a while there, life didn't even seem worth living.


And now, a finalist for the Stupidest Sports Debate of the Decade ...

Shaq O'Neal and Dwight Howard are arguing about which of them is most like Superman.

Tell you what, lads: Jump off the top of the Sears Tower - and whoever flies wins.

It will make for the greatest (and shortest) reality TV show ever.

Blackhawks a blast, Bulls a bust

The Bald Truth

I had forgotten how much fun it is to watch a well-played hockey game in person. Tuesday's Blackhawks-Ducks game provided a wonderful reminder.

This was the first athletic event I had attended as a ticket-holding spectator in a long, long time - and the first I had attended at all since I became a former newspaper hack. It would have been hard to come up with a better experience.

Between the energy of the crowd, the spirited play of both teams and the perfect seat I was lucky enough to occupy - thanks to the generosity of a friend, my son Ben and I were in the sixth row behind the net - it was impossible to have anything less than a great time.

The game was magnificent sports theater, with the Hawks dominating the first period to go up 2-0, the Ducks controlling the second to tie it and the teams playing even throughout a fast-paced but scoreless third. When Martin Havlat scored a spectacular unassisted goal early in OT to give the home team the victory, there wasn't a fan in the house disappointed that there had been nary a fight all night.

That's right: not one fight. Plus, the teams skated up and down the ice with few stoppages for penalties or even for faceoffs. It reminded me of one of the many Olympic medal-round games I covered way back when - and I consider that to be "pure" hockey, the best of the best.

I was skeptical of Blackhawks management when they canned coach Dennis Savard just four games into the season. But his replacement, Joel Quenneville, has done a fine job with a young, exciting, hard-working group assembled by GM Dale Tallon

Deficits in size and depth probably will keep these Hawks from reaching this year's Stanley Cup finals. Still, for the first time in a long time, the organization has hope for a bright future.

The fun is back at the United Center.


The fun is back on the United Center ice, anyway.

Unlike the Blackhawks, the Bulls are a slothful, soulless bunch of slugs. 

Every time they beat a decent team, they turn around and lose to one of the NBA's dregs - such as the Charlotte squad that drubbed the Bulls on Tuesday. 

They were so bad against the Bobcats that Vinny Del Excuse didn't even try to make any excuses. "I didn't like our effort," the coach-by-default said.

The Bulls are honoring the late, great Norm Van Lier and Johnny "Red" Kerr by putting a patch on each player's uniform, but that's not the tribute either man would choose. 

If the players really want to honor Stormin' Norman, they will embody his tenacity, dedication, aggressiveness and toughness every second of every game. And if they really want to honor Red, they will display the kind of "I love the Bulls" passion he always did.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

This is not a drill!

Sorry, folks, but this is no time to be blogging about something as meaningless as sports.

I mean, terrorists have taken over the White House and they are holding President Taylor hostage.

Somehow, someway, Jack Bauer has to figure out how to save the president - and, in the process, to save the world as we know it.

And the really tough part is that he's racing against the clock. Hey, there are only 24 hours in a day, you know!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

What's up, Chicago?

Since, first and foremost, I'm still a Chicago sports hack, it's time to return to my roots with an update on what's going on around town ...


Bloody-sock boy Curt Schilling is telling people he wants to pitch for The Team That Championships Forgot, prompting the Sun-Times to ask readers: "What would Schilling look like in a Cubs uniform?" 

The obvious answer: He'd look like an old, broken-down Cub. 

There would be a sentimental reason to get him, I suppose. After all, it would be nice to have a current player who was an active big-leaguer when the Cubs won the '45 pennant.


People are doubting and dissing the White Sox again, which means they're a pretty solid bet. Seems whenever they are supposed to be bad they end up being good (and vice versa).

Still, Sox fans can't feel too good about their heroes' chances if they have to rely on a pitcher - Jose Contreras - who is old enough to be Schilling's dad.


Jerry Angelo has a funny way of backing up his declaration that he needs to "fix" the QB situation.

Matt Cassel could have been had for a first-round draft pick. And several other quarterbacks, including Kurt Warner, could be had for nothing more than a pile of McCaskey moolah.

But no!

Kyle Orton, the QB Angelo says isn't good enough, remains a shoo-in to return under center.

Though Orton isn't an All-Pro, maybe Angelo finally has realized that the Bears' receivers rank just a tad behind those Cassel worked with in New England and Warner threw to in Arizona.

Not that Angelo plans to actually bring in guys who can get open and catch the ball.

Good news, though, Bear Country ... the GM is making progress in talks aimed at bringing back John St. Clair.

Super Bears, Super Bowl!


One need not read between the lines to recognize that John Paxson is getting tired of Vinny Del Excuse. All one has to do is read the lines.

After Del Excuse told a large media contingent that the new players Paxson acquired would need time and practice to fit in, the GM told the Tribune

"I don't see that as a big issue. It would be great to have some practice time ... but that's not the reason we didn't play well in New Jersey and Washington. We didn't come out ready to play."

Paxson didn't need to say whose job it is to get the team ready to play.

In their most recent game, the Bulls made an amazing fourth-quarter comeback to beat the Rockets. The most amazing thing: Del Excuse actually let his best player off the bench during crunch time, and Derrick Rose responded by leading the rally.

Interesting how that works.


Young. Exciting. Fun. Successful. 

Oh, and on TV, too.

Who'da thunk it?