Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Rodman ... bigger in Korea than in U.S.?

One of this winter's wackiest stories is this week's news that Dennis Rodman is in North Korea to promote "basketball diplomacy."

So I guess this means the Worm isn't planning to head-butt Kim Jong Un or kick him in the groin or grope any of the royal women, right?

Word is, KJU loved the '90s era Chicago Bulls, so he's thrilled about Worm's appearance. I think it's a great idea. I mean, what could possibly go wrong?

One thing I know for sure is that Rodman doesn't have too many more years that he can impress people just by being Dennis Freakin' Rodman.

I recently appeared at a 5th-grade career day and brought several props with me, including a 1997 international magazine for which I had written a long freelance article on Worm. Rodman was on the cover all decked out as only he could do it: rainbow-dyed hair, earring, mascara, lipstick, a huge cross on his naked chest, tats aplenty. Back then, he was among the most recognizable human beings on the entire planet.

Fast-forward 16 years. Not a single one of the 100 or so fifth-graders I talked to had a clue who Dennis Rodman was.

They do know Michael Jordan, but mostly as a TV pitchman and the owner of the NBA's worst basketball team. What I'm saying is that it won't be many more years until I no longer am able to impress anybody with old newspaper photos showing me and Jordan together.

I'm 52 now, and that isn't always fun. Still, it's somehow a little comforting to know that even uber-celebs such as Rodman (who is 51) and Jordan (50) have expiration dates, too.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

From golf balls to snowballs in 24 hours

On Friday afternoon, I played my first 9 holes of 2013. I wore shorts and a polo shirt on the sunny, 64-degree day.

By Saturday afternoon, it was about 30 degrees colder. It was flurrying when Roberta and I went into the grocery store to buy a few items. When we finished about 15 minutes later, the snow was falling fast, in huge, wet flakes.

A few hours later, there was an inch or two of snow on the ground. The kids next door, who had seen snow only a couple of times in their lives, were outside playing. Roberta and Simmie joined them, with my wife building a snowman and the puppy running around enjoying the first measurable snow of her young life.

See? Just when I started missing Chicago a little bit, it came to visit me.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Trying to make sense of the crazy bouncing ball

I've been watching college basketball for a long, long time and there probably is no sport I enjoy more.

I'm pretty sure I've never seen a season quite as crazy as this one, with the No. 1 team losing pretty much every week, upsets upon upsets, crazy shots to win games (or send them into overtime), multiple OTs, etc.

Saturday's Louisville-ND game certainly was as wild as any I've ever seen. Guys who had done nothing all game long for ND all of a sudden started scoring in the most tense situations and Rick Pitino's boys found a way to lose a game they had won about a dozen times.

I used to gripe if Marquette won a game that was "too close for comfort." Given everything that's happened this season, though, I'll take any win over any opponent.

I've heard several theories to why this has happened -- early departures to the NBA, poor fundamentals, defenders being allowed to mug offensive players, the 3-pointer, etc. -- but none is exactly a new revelation. Every single one of those factors existed last season and two years ago and the season before that.

The only thing I can think of is that, for whatever reason, there are no dominant, superstar-filled teams. So anybody literally can win or lose any game.

Again, why that happened this year is anybody's guess. I'm just going to sit back and enjoy the ride.


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Friday, February 1, 2013

A-Roid & Dis-Grace battle for the bottom

Mark Grace, long admired by Cubbieland denizens as a "good guy," is a convicted felon who soon will start serving a 4-month prison sentence. The former World Series hero -- not with the Cubs, of course, but with the Diamondbacks, for whom he began the title-winning rally in 2001 by singling off Mariano Rivera -- also has been fired from the Diamondbacks' broadcast crew.

This trouble stems from his second DUI in a 15-month span.

Now, some would argue that receiving a DUI doesn't necessarily remove Grace from "good guy" status. After all, lots of everyday folks do a little drinking, do a little driving and do a little getting caught.

I understand that, but here's the deal:

Grace has long been a party boy. Loves to drink and socialize. Is he an alcoholic? Probably, by definition, though I don't know for sure. What I do know for sure is that Grace made millions and millions of dollars as a ballplayer and also was getting paid handsomely as an analyst.

In other words, THE MAN CAN AFFORD A CAB!

While all this was playing out in Arizona, 2,000 miles away in Florida, Alex Rodriguez was one of several players who reportedly bought some performance-enhancing drugs within the last few years.

A-Rod, of course, is denying the accusation in very strong, "how dare anybody say such a thing" terms. It's very similar to the last time he denied a similar accusation, only to have to come clean and apologize for his transgression -- a transgression that very well could cost him Hall of Fame enshrinement down the line.

To say we have absolutely no reason to believe this proven liar and cheater is an understatement.

Now, who is "worse," A-Roid or Dis-Grace?

Alex Rodriguez cheated baseball, cheated fans, cheated kids who might have looked up to him and, in the end, cheated himself.

Mark Grace? He endangered every human being whose path he crossed when he drove his car under the influence of alcohol. He could have killed others and himself.

Given that, his transgression must be considered "worse."

That still doesn't mean Grace is a "bad guy." What it does mean is that he should spend some of his time in prison thinking about how he wants the second half of his life to play out.

He needs help, and I hope he gets it.