Thursday, March 31, 2011

Toto, we're not in Chicago any more

On Tuesday, I went to work and accidentally left the garage open for about 3 hours. I was humiliated by my mistake and promised my wife (and myself) it would never happen again.

The very next night, we came home from the store at about 7:30. When I woke up this morning, I was mortified to discover I had left the garage open all night long.

It absolutely, positively will never happen again. Really.

By the way, nothing was stolen either time.

Had I committed a similar screw-up when we lived in Chicago, the contents would have been emptied and the garage would have been stripped clean - door, opener, lights, sheetrock, nails and all.

That's not necessarily an indictment of my former town; it's just reality in the big city.

We resisted suburbia forever. But we're fast learning that laid-back - and, OK, a little boring - has its privileges, too!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Play Ball! (Already?)

Opening day snuck up on me. I really didn't know the regular season began tomorrow until I opened this morning's sports section and saw the TV listings. (For all the kids out there, a newspaper is something you read when the router is balky.)

I guess that's what happens when you go from being in a town with 2 MLB teams to a town with none.

As I said in a post a while back, even though I'm neither a White Sox fan nor a Cubs fan, I will miss having big-league ball in my town. Oh, and I'll miss the Cubs, too.

I'll miss Ozzie Guillen's daily silliness and the sports soap opera that is the Cubbies. I'll miss classy Paul Konerko and wacky Cra-Z Zambrano. I'll miss Jake Peavy's injury du jour and the ascension of Starlin Castro. And as long as I'm being honest here ... I'll miss that steady AP freelance paycheck I got for showing up at the ballpark and taking my own hacks a couple times a week.

I'm sure I'll watch plenty of baseball on TV - I mean, how can I help it? There pretty much is a game on some channel 24/7 - but it won't be quite the same.

All that being said, I still will follow the game. And, like everybody else, I still have opinions. So here's my quick 2011 forecast ...


AL East: Red Sox. They made all the right moves over the winter and figure to be quite hungry after starving last year. The Yankees? Freddy Garcia made their rotation and Bartolo Colon is in their bullpen. Nuff said.

AL Central: Twins. Especially if Justin Morneau is healthy (and Jay Mauer stays healthy). But I do like most of what the White Sox did during the offseason and would expect an extremely close race. If that's the case, the Twins usually take advantage of the Sox choke instincts and prevail.

AL West: Angels. This division really is anybody's guess, so this anybody will guess Mike Scioscia.

AL Wild Card: White Sox. (Or Twins if they get edged in division).

NL East: Phillies. I'm trying to figure out a way they don't win it. And I'm failing.

NL Central: Reds. Should be an interesting race. The Cardinals almost always contend but have injuries galore and that whole Pujols Contract Thing hanging over their heads. The Brewers will score lots of runs ... and give up more. The Cubs often fail when expected to succeed and vice versa, so maybe they'll fool everybody. Dusty Baker clubs have trouble winning two years in a row, but I think the Reds have most of what good teams need.

NL West: Giants. Though I certainly could see the Rockies or Dodgers winning this, too.

NL Wild Card: Rockies.


AL: Red Sox over White Sox; Twins over Angels; Red Sox over Twins.

NL: Phillies over Rockies; Giants over Reds; Phillies over Giants.

World Series: Phillies over Red Sox. Too much pitching. Darn good hitting, too.


AL: Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox. We'll see how he performs with the pressure on. And with a great lineup around him.

NL: Roy Halladay, Phillies. He probably won't win it because voters don't like starting pitchers, but his dominance has a domino effect on the NL's best rotation - and best team.


AL: Jered Weaver, Angels. A very good young pitcher becomes an outstanding veteran.

NL: Roy Halladay, Phillies. Duh.


5. Cubs' Quade Benches Soriano Again for Not Running Out Flyball.

4. Last-place Pirates Look To Trade Top Players.

4. Steinbrenner Blasts Yankees; Threatens Sweeping Changes.

2. Selig Blasts Union; Union Blames Owners.

1. Pujols Says It's About Respect, Not Money.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Thank goodness NCAA football doesn't subject us to a boring, basketball-style, single-elimination playoff

VCU. Multiple overtimes. Shelvin and Kemba and Knight, oh my!

Clutch performances. David versus Goliath ... with David slaying Goliath ... repeatedly. Derrick Williams!

UConn won 9 games in 19 days. Kentucky barely got past Princeton and then made it to the Final Four. The Butler did it ... again!!

Yep, the NCAA yahoos who preside over college football are right: March Madness sure sucks when compared to a Dynamic December that includes the Beef 'O' Brady Bowl, uDrove Bowl, MAACO Bowl, S.D. County Credit Union Bowl, Little Caesars Bowl, Meineke Car Care Bowl, AdvoCare V100 Bowl, Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl, New Era Pinstripe Bowl, Franklin American Mortgage Bowl, Bridgeport Education Bowl and Chick-fil-A Bowl.

Not to mention the AutoZone Bowl. I mean, who could forget Central Florida's thrilling 10-6 victory over Georgia -- 6-7 Georgia, by the way -- for absolutely none of the marbles?

So you just keep on keepin' on, you half-dozen BCS-and-bowlpoop proponents, and keep resisting the kind of playoff scenario that would produce something as boring as this year's NCAA hoops tourney.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Thank God it's not Friday any more

Rough Friday.

About three hours after the high school softball team I coach lost 17-0, my beloved Marquette Golden Warrior Eagles lost by 18 to North Carolina.

The bright side: Neither game resulted in a late, heartbreaking defeat. No, I had plenty of time to get used to the fact that each team was in the midst of a whuppin'.

I was really impressed with the comportment of the hundreds of Tar Heel backers at the Charlotte establishment where a couple dozen of us MU faithful watched the game. Very little trash talk -- no doubt partly due to none of us Marquetters having any reason to do any woofing -- and a hardy "good game" at the end as my wife and I left the bar.

Anyway, it was a fun season for The Gold, and among the graduating seniors, only Jimmy Butler will be missed on the court. We will be a hungry, veteran squad next season, with a few talented kids thrown in the mix.

As for my softball team, that opponent was the best we'll face this season. Thank goodness.

Taking the rest of the weekend off to chill out. Have a good one, folks.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Marquette over Carolina? A man can dream ... that Duke showed Carolina how to lose

If you're a Marquette fan like I am -- and really, isn't everybody? -- you have to be at least a little encouraged from the results of Thursday's games:

-- A nice victory by fellow Big East survivor UConn.

-- A superb team effort by the anti-Jimmers of Florida.

-- Butler's cool takedown of Wisconsin (leaving Marquette as the lone Cheeseheads still alive).

-- And especially, Arizona's defeat of defending champion Duke.

Wait? Did I say defeat? Arizona didn't just defeat the Dookies; the Wildcats destroyed them.

And so maybe, just maybe, another underdog can take down another ACC heavyweight.

All I know is that Marquette already is playing with house money. Many critics said The Gold shouldn't even have been invited to the tournament, and now here they are one of the final dozen still standing. So win or lose, it already has been pretty sweet.

My wife and I will be joining some fellow Charlotte-area Marquette alums area to cheer on our beloved Golden Warrior Eagles. We'll probably be outnumbered 50-to-1 at the sports bar, meaning there is potential for great public embarrassment if the Tar Heels thrash our lads from Milwaukee.

Nevertheless, this is sports. And in sports, you really do never know ... which is why it's the only reality TV worth watching.

The Dookies went down hard. Maybe next it will be Carolina's turn to fall.

I've got to admit I'd be a little more confident if Arizona would let us borrow Derrick Williams for a couple of hours.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Jimmer's not even a nose hair on basketball's Mount Rushmore

Of all the silly things uttered by coach-turned-yakkers during the NCAA tournament's opening weekend, the silliest had to be St. Joseph's Phil Martelli saying Jimmer Fredette might be having the greatest season ever by a college basketball player.

Talk about a man-crush.

Greatest season ever? Helllloooo! Pick any of Oscar Robertson's seasons. Or Pete Maravich's.

How about Lew Alcindor? David Thompson? Bill Russell?

You want more recent? Is anything The Jimmer doing better than what Kevin Durant did as a Texas freshman in 2006-7? Or what Adam Morrison did at Gonzaga a year earlier?

OK, maybe Martelli meant that, given the relative lack of talent at BYU, Fredette might be the most important player to his team.

If that's what Martelli meant ... he's still delusional.

I mean, Larry Bird carried -- and I mean CARRIED -- Indiana State within an eyelash of the 1979 national title. Bill Bradley was a one-man show for Princeton's 1965 Final Four team. Jerry West and Magic Johnson had some pretty fair seasons for some OK teams, too.

Oh, and all Wilt Chamberlain did in his two years at Kansas was average about 30 points and 20 rebounds ... but I guess he was no Jimmer.

And those are just off the top of my chrome dome. If I felt like doing research, I'd probably come up with a dozen or two more.

Isn't it enough to say that The Jimmer probably is this year's top player, not to mention a guy who is darn fun to watch?

Isn't The Jimmer hyped enough without Phil Martelli suggesting he belongs on some kind of college hoops Mount Rushmore?

I'd like to give Martelli a pass and call him a smart guy who simply got swept up in Jimmer Fever.

Or I could take a page from Martelli's book and say that might have been the stupidest comment in television history.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Today's High 5 - NCAA Hoops Edition

Countdown from the one sporting event that never, ever disappoints ...

5. As I said all along, my beloved Marquette Golden Warrior Eagles -- a.k.a. The Gold -- were shoo-ins for the Sweet Sixteen.

OK, so I was worried -- really, really worried -- that they'd lose their tourney opener to Xavier. Once the lads got past that one, though, I had a strange, unexplainable confidence heading into the Syracuse game. And boy, did the Warrior Eagles play well down the stretch Sunday night.

Makes me so proud, I'm thinking about flying to Milwaukee just to enjoy dollar pitchers at The Gym and then snarf down a bowl of Real Chili with extra oyster crackers!!

4. Thanks, CBS, for not hogging the whole tournament (and thereby doing half a job).

I really enjoyed the way the opening weekend was spread over four networks, letting every fan watch every minute of every game we wanted to watch.

Added bonus: With TNT/TBS in the picture, it meant we got treated to the broadcast team of Marv Albert and Steve Kerr.

Marv simply is the best hoops play-by-play man in history and, when he's not being a terrible NBA GM, Kerr is a talented analyst.


3. The clock snafu at the end of the Carolina-Washington game and a questionable 5-second call against Texas notwithstanding, it's been a strong tournament for the refs.

They have made several outstanding no-calls on late blocked shots and totally nailed the crazy end of Butler's win over Pitt by calling fouls that absolutely had to be called despite the general (and erroneous) belief that "you don't make those calls in the final seconds."

There. I said it. We rail at the refs when they stink, so they should get one of these (I'm doing the thumbs-up sign) when they excel.

2. Marquette and UConn are the only survivors of the 11 Big East teams that began the tournament, and lots of folks are whining about how overrated the conference is.

Look, nine of the 11 were absolute locks, and one of the other two teams -- mine -- now is one of the last 16 standing. Losing NCAA tourney games, most by slim margins, proves little about the strength of a conference as a whole.

I mean, Virginia Commonwealth beat both Georgetown and Purdue, so that means what? The Colonial is better than the Big East and Big Ten? And if BYU beats Florida and San Diego State defeats UConn in the regionals, it means the Mountain West is better than both the SEC and the Big East?

A few years ago, when all those Missouri Valley teams advanced, did it mean that conference suddenly had surpassed the ACC? Or last year, did Butler's amazing run mean the Horizon was the second-best league in the land?

You don't have to answer those rhetorical questions.

While we're on the Big East ... I'll admit I enjoyed Notre Dame getting spanked by Florida State. And I'm not especially surprised it happened. Marquette killed the Irish once this season and had them in trouble before blowing a lead in losing their other matchup.

All you do is put long, quick athletes on Ben Hansbrough and Tim Abromaitis, take away their 3-point shooting and force someone else to beat you. Meanwhile, you force Hansbrough and Abromaitis to defend on the other end.

And faster than you can say "green beer is stupid," Irish eyes ain't smiling.

One of my pet peeves during my time at Marquette was that so many of my Catholic friends (which meant just about all of my MU friends) hated ND basketball but loved ND football.

Feh. If you're a Warrior (or Golden Eagle, Hilltopper, Avalanche or even The Gold) , you don't root for Notre Effin Dame. Period.

1. So now my boys move on to face my new state team, North Carolina. I have to admit that "concern" isn't a strong enough word to describe my feeling about the matchup.

The Tar Heels are a little loose with the ball and they take a lot of dumb shots, but they are so athletic, so talented and so well-coached, they of course will be huge favorites over my 11th-seeded Golden Warrior Eagles.

Hey, I look at it this way: Carolina barely beat Washington, which a year ago barely beat Marquette in the tourney. Ipso fatso, we are due (and destined) for victory.

Or something like that.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Marquette lose? My bad ... and that's good!

Never happier to be wrong about Marquette! My beloved Golden Warrior Eagles pretty much dominated Xavier from start to finish. Very impressive win over a team that had reached the Sweet 16 the previous three years.

So I guess now I hafta say I'd go with Syracuse if I were a betting man ...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Report on Young Nadel: conscientious but chatty

If you've ever moved from one house/apartment to another -- even across town, let alone hundreds of miles away as I have -- you know that moving isn't much fun.

One fun thing: Discovering stuff during unpacking.

I found a packet of my Kay Avenue Elementary School report cards that my parents saved for me, and some of the teacher comments are too funny.

From Miss Funteral, my kindergarten teacher:

Michael's work could be a hundred percent better if he would pay attention to my directions and learn to keep his mouth closed. He has a very active mind, and is capable of catching on to anything, but he is very busy fooling with the other children. If his behavior would improve, so would his work.

Even at 5 years old, I apparently had a very active social life.

Oh, and by the way, didn't this teacher have the best name for kindergarten? I mean, you can't spell Funteral without F-U-N!

From Mrs. Magyar, my first-grade teacher:

Michael's health habits should match his grades.

I guess I was quite the slob. One thing I know for sure from looking at old pictures: I wore lots of hand-me-down clothes. And not just from Lee, my closest-in-age sibling at 6 years older, but from Al, who is 12 years my senior. So I probably looked like quite the ragamuffin. How's that for an excuse? (It probably doesn't account for why I never combed my hair, though.)

From Mrs. Klein, my second-grade teacher:

Michael's reading is still too fast and sometimes lacks appropriate expression.

Hey, Mrs. Klein, I've got an appropriate expression for you right here!

And here's some absolutely wonderful stuff from Miss Rogowski, my third-grade teacher:

First Marking Period: Michael is a very conscientious student. However, he does a little too much talking.

Second Marking Period: Michael is very conscientious, but does too much talking.

Third Marking Period: Michael is conscientious, but still does too much talking.

Fourth Marking Period: Michael is conscientious, but has done too much talking.

So, let me get this straight: I was a little too chatty but at least I was conscientious, right?

I must have cleaned up my act after that, because neither Mrs. Wilson (4th grade) nor Mrs. Stella (5th grade) made any comments at all. And Miss Goodman had this to say at the end of 6th grade:

Working with a student like Mike is one of the things that make teaching a pleasure. Keep up the good work, Mike!

Wow. No wonder I had a crush on Miss Goodman.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

An oasis in desert of bracket overkill

No bracket racket here.


For the first time since I can't remember when, I'm not filling out an NCAA tournament bracket.

I'm not betting, so otherwise what would be the point? So a week or two from now, I can tell everybody how smart I am (or, more likely, amn't)?

The last couple of years, I've started to realize that people yammering on about their tourney picks -- present company included -- was only slightly less annoying than people yammering on about their fantasy football teams.

Tourney bracket conversations are dopey, anyway. I mean, the listener never really listens. He/she just waits till you shut up so he/she can tell you about his/her brilliant/lame picks.

So I'm going to do my own teeny, tiny part to mute the clatter.

Ahhhh ... it already feels so liberating!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Some strange tourney selections, but don't weep for snubbees

The Bald Truth

Let me start by saying I'm thrilled Marquette is an 11 seed. Everybody knows it's better to be an 11 than an 8 or 9 because, if the 11 seed can beat the 6 in its first game, it then gets to play the 3 seed in the next round; the 8 or 9 must play the top seed in its second game.

Having said that, every year I'm reminded how crazy some of the seeding is. For example ...

Marquette and West Virginia each won 20 games and each played proudly in the best conference in the land. Marquette didn't have a single "bad loss" all season; West Virginia lost at home to Marshall. And not only did Marquette beat West Virginia during the season, my Golden Warrior Eagles defeated the Mountaineers in the Big East tournament.

Nonetheless, Marquette was one of the last five teams in the tournament -- and the very last that doesn't have to do one of those play-in games -- while West Virginia is a 5.


The Balder Truth

Illinois failed to win 20 games, never contended in the Big Ten, beat just about nobody all season and blew numerous games it was supposed to have won. Many Illini fans were convinced their heroes weren't going to make the NCAAs after a conference tournament loss to Michigan.

Yet here the Illini are, easy qualifiers as No. 9 seeds. Meanwhile, Colorado -- which beat Texas and Missouri teams that had defeated Illinois -- was snubbed. And while the Illini couldn't even handle Northwestern and Illinois-Chicago, Virginia Tech beat Duke but was snubbed.



Having said all that, I don't feel at all sorry for any of the snubbees.

I'm guessing that if Colorado had somehow found a way to beat Harvard, San Francisco and Iowa State or if it hadn't lost 6 of 7 during one stretch, the Buffaloes wouldn't have been excluded. I'm guessing that if Virginia Tech hadn't lost twice to a dreadful Virginia team and once to even more hapless Georgia Tech, the Hokies wouldn't have given the selection committee the chance to slight them.

One of the cool things about sports is that participants control their own destinies. Every single one of the snubbees had the opportunity to win another game or two and take itself off the dreaded bubble.

Rather than whine about "undeserving" teams that got in, snubbees and their fans need to look in the mirror and say:

"Yeah, but if we only had beaten San Fran (as Colorado didn't) or Virginia (as Virginia Tech didn't) or Iowa (as Alabama didn't) or San Diego (as St. Mary's didn't) or Yale (as Boston College didn't), we'd be in the tournament, too."

Nah ... much easier to whine and blame somebody else, right?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Raftery's schtick had its day ... and I'm pretty sure that day was sometime last century

Oftentimes, Jay Bilas is the sharpest analyst in college basketball. Sometimes, Sean McDonough is among the best play-by-play guys.

Those times are most likely to happen when Bill Raftery is elsewhere.

It isn't bad enough that the way-past-his-use-by-date Raftery brings little to a broadcast. What's worse is his effect on McDonough and Bilas when ESPN or CBS foolishly decides to go to three in the booth.

Separately, two of the three (and we've already discussed which two) actually sound like they know what they're talking about. When Raftery brings his schtick -- dopey catchphrases, dopier inside jokes and dopiest puns -- the trio cackles and giggles and talks nonsense.

How insufferable have they been during the Big East tourney? Well, I've had to use the mute button during the telecast and bring back the volume for the commercials.

Hey, Heckle, Jeckle and the other Jeckle: We don't care which of you is least likely to pick up the dinner check. (As if you're not doing New York on expense account, anyway.)

If ever there was a case for addition by subtraction, this is it.

Bill Raftery had a nice run. It's time to hide his microphone. Or at least stick him back with Verne Lundquist on the 3rd or 4th team.

Friday, March 11, 2011

NCAA hypocrites unite!

The world is full of hypocrites and, it being March, we might as well talk about one of the biggest groups of hypocrites on the planet:

The university presidents and other Pooh-bahs atop the NCAA.

They refuse to sanction a national football tournament. Why? Because one or two extra games would put too much wear and tear on their beloved athlete-students. Plus, any system other than the BCS would cost those same athlete-students too much class time (even though almost all would be on Christmas break during a real championship tourney).

OK, let's say we take them at their word. (We don't ... but for the sake of argument, we'll say we do.) How do they explain what's going on this week in college basketball, with one conference tournament after another pushing hundreds of athletes to the brink of exhaustion and keeping tens of students among the athletes out of the classroom?

In the Big East on Friday, UConn will be playing its fourth high-intensity game in as many days. If the Huskies beat Syracuse and advance to Saturday's championship, they'll be the first ever to play five games in five days. And basketball games, unlike their football counterparts, include more than 10 minutes each of actual action.

Apparently, the money grab that is March Madness -- from the conference tournaments to the NCAAs to the NIT -- trumps all the fear of wear and tear.

My beloved Marquette Golden Warrior Eagles played three games in three nights in the Big East tourney, the third being Thursday's quarterfinal loss to Louisville. That the rest of the Marquette student body has been taking midterm exams all week was of little concern to the NCAA honchos. Not when there's big coin to be made at Madison Square Garden. Let the athlete-students make up the exams later (if they take the exams at all).

The NCAA wants it both ways ... and they're succeeding at getting what they want.

OK, fine. We know when we're beaten. Just don't look so smug while blowing smoke up our butts. Say what it is: preservation of status quo, cash grab, lording over the sports world, whatever.

And just don't say it's about the kids. Because everybody with an IQ over 50 -- even Digger Phelps and Dickie V -- knows it isn't.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Bobby Knight's last losing legacy

Were coaching genius hereditary, James Wooden, Allie McGuire and Adolph Rupp II would be heralded throughout the land.

It isn't ... and they aren't.

Pat Knight isn't heralded, either. He's just another ex-coach, having been canned by Texas Tech after his Red Raiders compiled the second-worst record in the Big 12 during his three-year run.

Ten years ago, Bobby Knight came out of forced retirement to energize the Texas Tech program and put Lubbock on the map. Short term, the hire was a resounding success. Knight, truly one of the great coaching minds in sports history, worked wonders with the decent group of basketball players he inherited.

In his fourth season, the Red Raiders advanced to the Sweet Sixteen -- something his Hoosiers couldn't do in his final six stormy seasons at Indiana. Texas Tech fans, who had been apathetic for decades, turned out to games. ESPN even found Lubbock a few times.

Knight seemed to get bored, however, and the year after the Sweet Sixteen -- when his first full recruiting class was in -- the Red Raiders went 15-17. Two years later, his program flagging and attendance waning, he resigned midseason.

As part of his employment, he had arranged for Pat to take over when he stepped down. It turned out to be the coaching version of a fraternity legacy: an ill-equipped kid being invited to pledge only because his old man had been frat president.

Unlike Bobby, Pat actually is a reasonable fellow. There are no known cases of him having strangled players at practice or throwing chairs across the court. He handled his firing with class.

Unlike Bobby, Pat can't coach a lick.

His Red Raiders were rotten, and empty seats outnumbered filled ones at home games.

Maybe now he'll follow his pop to ESPN. There, he wouldn't have to do much to eclipse Bobby, who has trouble putting consecutive coherent sentences together.

Monday, March 7, 2011

LeBron's tears, Bo's jeers and a Tea-Bagger's Marquette "career"

Several Heat players were crying in the locker room after Sunday's home loss to the Bulls.

Sources say LeBron and Dwyane handed each of the weepers a hundy to dry their eyes.

In other basketball news, kudos to the marketing folks at The Ohio State University for their brutally brilliant response to Bo Ryan's unapologetic suggestion that Buckeyes star Jared Sullinger just "deal with it" after Wisconsin fans supposedly spat on him last month.

Before Sunday's rematch in Columbus, some 1,400 students were given red towels emblazoned with the phrase DEAL WITH IT. Sullinger and the Buckeyes then dealt with the Badgers, rolling to a lopsided win to wrap up a 29-2 regular season and Big Ten title.

Word is, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was so impressed that he ordered 50,000 of the towels to give to teachers in his state.

A day earlier -- the same day that my beloved Golden Warrior Eagles fell apart in a must-win game at Seton Hall -- I learned that Walker was a fellow Marquette alumnus. I was pretty depressed until just a little research revealed that the Tea Party darling isn't really a fellow MU alum at all. See, to be an alum, one must have graduated.

When Walker dropped out after three-plus years, he was nowhere near getting his degree. Seems he had flunked and/or dropped too many classes. He simply couldn't hack it.

Amazing. I pretty much drank non-stop for four years and still got a Marquette degree -- and then landed employment in my chosen profession despite a job market statistically worse than the current mess Walker has helped foster.

Hell, even Chris Farley managed to get a degree at Marquette, and he was stoned approximately 23 hours a day.

Yep, leave it to a college dropout to try to torpedo teachers. The world's a crazy place, no?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Talk about sexy: Limbaugh in a Speedo!

You gotta love Rush Limbaugh calling Michelle Obama a hypocrite because she occasionally eats high-fat foods while promoting healthy eating habits and because "she does not project the image of women that you might see on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue."

Even allowing for some hyperbole on Rush's part, you gotta love his suggestion that only those with the bodies of SI cover models -- not even mere SI swimsuit models, but cover models! -- are allowed to use a public forum to promote healthy eating.

And you gotta love Rush calling anybody a hypocrite on anything, because it's not as if he would ever say drug addicts should be jailed even as he's popping prescription pain-killers he acquired illegally because he's an addict.

Nope, he'd never do that.

Thank goodness we have a paragon of virtue such as Rush Limbaugh to point out others' hypocrisies.

And, while we're at it, thank goodness we have him to comment on obesity and other health issues.

I mean, I can't wait to see him in a Speedo on the cover of next year's SI swimsuit issue.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

No Silva lining for '11 Cubs

Here's an easy prediction for the 2011 Cubs. No, not the obvious one, that they'll somehow avoid winning the World Series. That's too easy. If you'd predicted that every year for the last 102 years, you'd have been right 100 percent of the time.

This one involves Carlos Silva, whose head exploded at the end of his first spring-training start because his teammates made three errors behind him. (I got a kick out of spinmeisters who said that at least it wasn't Cra-Z Zambrano going nutso again.)

Last year's first-half surprise will be an unmitigated disaster this year. The hefty right-hander either will get hurt or simply will pitch like a wounded duck until beleaguered manager Mike Quade pulls him from the rotation.

It doesn't take 20-20 vision to see the signs.

Carlos Silva has had enough trouble putting together one good year in a row, let alone two. His ERA stood at a shockingly sound 2.96 on July 6 last year. He finished at 4.22 and injuries limited him to one start in August and another in September.

He's now older, heavier and, obviously, less emotionally stable. This can't be a good thing for him or the Cubs, who are counting the days until he and his $13.5 million contract (including '12 buyout) come off the books.

On a positive note, the guy he went after Wednesday was Aramis Ramirez, whose own outrageous contract ($16.6 million remaining, including '12 buyout) is exceeded only by his sense of self-worth.

Get this: Rammie actually thinks he's a superstar. You know, the man is delusional enough to be a Cubbie fan.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Choose sides in labor dispute: greedy billionaires or greedy millionaires?

I rarely feel sorry for pro athletes and I certainly don't feel sorry for Tommie Harris. He entered the NFL as a refreshingly funny and supremely talented defensive lineman but leaves the Bears as a cantankerous, underperforming stiff who was fined and suspended often for acting like a jerk.

Still, the Harris situation underscores why I don't blame NFL players for trying to get the best deal possible in their labor struggle against the owners -- even if it means the game gets shut down for a while.

Unlike athletes in baseball, basketball and hockey, the vast majority of NFL players don't have guaranteed contracts. They do get a large chunk of money upfront, which discourages teams from cutting them early in their contracts, but every time you see something like a six-year, $60 million deal, be aware that it really isn't that.

Harris was cut with a year left on his contract so the Bears could save millions of dollars. Despite having a contract that runs through next season, Harris won't get a dime of his projected 2011 salary.

Moreover, NFL players are much more likely to suffer devastating injuries than their MLB, NBA and NHL counterparts. I'm not just talking about injuries that could shorten their careers, such as the knee blowout that pretty much ruined Harris as a player several years ago. I'm talking about truly devastating injuries that make it difficult for them to live normal lives after their short careers end.

So not only do NFL players have much briefer windows of opportunity to earn big money, they have much better chances at having a lousy quality of life after their careers are finished. And they have "contracts" that can be taken away at any time.

Now, nobody is forcing any football player to be a football player. Don't like the risks? Be a carpenter, rocket scientist or blogger.

Just remember this when choosing sides in the player-owner debate: If the owners don't give the money to the players, they simply pocket it. They certainly aren't going to lower ticket prices. Nor are they going to repay the taxpayers they fleeced for sweet stadium deals.

To be sure, it's not a great choice: greedy millionaire athletes who think they are entitled to riches and fame ... or greedy billionaire owners who are always scheming to make still more money.


Given that choice, though, I usually side with the jocks. They're the ones putting their limbs and life on the line, especially in the NFL.

The owners are only putting their cash on the line, and rich people always seem to find ways to get plenty more of that -- almost always at the expense of hard-working folks like you and me.