Friday, July 31, 2009

But what about the one guy who was supposed to get traded?

The White Sox get Jake Peavy, who just a couple months earlier - before his body was falling apart - rejected a trade to those same Pale Hose because he really wanted to play for Cubs.

The Reds, apparently under delusions that they are one player away from contention, deal for Scott Rolen.

The Yankees think Jerry Hairston Jr. is the missing piece of the championship puzzle.

The Mariners, trying hard to break up a decent team, unload Jarrod Washburn.

The Indians and Pirates dump pretty much everybody who makes more than the average stockboy.

Fun, fun, fun. But here's my absolute favorite part of all the trading-deadline wheeling, dealing, intrigue and speculation:

About 200 players change teams (or so it seems) and the one guy who stays put is ...

Roy Freakin' Halladay!

Urlacher, Cutler can learn from my new partnership

The Bald Truth

Observant folks might notice that, right next to the lead headline of the day here on TBT, there is a new icon announcing that this friendly neighborhood blog is now "A Proud Partner of"

It's true. The site was created about a year ago by David Katz, the former head of Yahoo Sports, and the ultimate goal - besides conquering the world - is to make a go-to place for sports fanatics everywhere. There are blogs from all over the country (soon to include The Baldest Truth) as well as news items, interactive games, polls and oodles of opportunities for fans to find and chat with each other.

Check it out. And do so often. Every time that icon is clicked, I make another $1.2 million dollars!

OK, I'm exaggerating. I barely even get half that much.

In A Rush

Gotta hurry up and finish this thing. I'm planning a busy evening of watching anything but the X Games. Hello, syndicated reruns of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air!

The Balder Truth

Ex-Bears and current Vikings receiver Bobby Wade is catching grief from his former coach and teammates after telling a Twin Cities radio station that Brian Urlacher recently called Jay Cutler a "wussy." (Just trade the "w" for a "p.")

Nice to know that Bobby Wade can catch something. He sure didn't do much catching during his time in Chicago.

But hey, this is a fun story. Do I believe Wade's side of it? Sure, why not? Do I believe that if it's true it will make it impossible for Urlacher and Cutler to coexist, therefore undermining the Bears' title hopes? Nah.

Middle linebackers are supposed to hate quarterbacks. Just about every defensive player on the '85 Bears hated Jim McMahon, and vice versa.

Dat creative tension didn't stop Da Bearsss from winning da big one, my friends.

If I were a Bears fan, I'd worry much more about Cutler's reputation as a choker and a whiner than about whether or not the new QB has to pussy-foot around the old MLB.

Worth A Shot (& A Beer)

Then again, maybe President Obama should just invite Urlacher and Cutler to the White House for a few brewskis.

And Obama should do it sooner than later. A socialist Kenyan Muslim like him won't be able to maintain his grasp on the presidency for long.


The New York Times is reporting that David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez were among the 100-plus evil-doers on the infamous (and supposedly confidential) list of ballplayers who tested positive for steroids in 2003.

Ho. And hum.

The Red Sox aren't going to give back their 2004 and 2007 titles. Nobody is surprised by this revelation. And fans sure as hell don't care.

The Times is to be commended for exposing Big Papi, Manny, A-Roid, Shammy and all assorted other juicers. And it should keep doing so as a public service ... even if the public barely can muffle its collective yawn.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Big trade news from Halladay Land

The Bald Truth

Well, it finally happened, folks: the big trade that Toronto fans had been anticipating for weeks.

Yes, Roy Halladay ... is getting another superstar in his city!!

Welcome to Canada, new Raptor Marco Belinelli.

Labatts for everybody!

And to think, all the Raptors had to give the Warriors was Devean George and a Skydome suite from which to watch every game Halladay pitches for the Blue Jays next season.

The Quote

"I wish I could cuss right now." - Hawk Harrelson, after his beloved White Sox lost again to the Twins at the Humpty Dome.

The Balder Truth

Jerry Reinsdorf is buying the Phoenix Coyotes, and you know what that means:

From North Carolina ... at right wing ... No. 45 ... Michael Jordan!

The Quote II

"Yeah, everything surprises me." - Cubs rookie Randy Wells when asked if anything about his success as a big-league pitcher has surprised him.


Congrats to the Phillies, who were able to get ace lefty Cliff Lee from the Indians without giving up any of the big-time prospects Toronto demanded in any Roy Halladay deal.

And congrats to the Indians, too. They have acquired so many youngsters for the likes of Lee, CC Sabathia and Mark DeRosa that they already are the overwhelming favorite to win the 2010 College World Series.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Vikes insist on wearing purple, so Favre takes a pass

The List

Top five reasons Brett Favre decided against coming out of retirement to play for the Vikings:

5. "If I can't play with the Bears' Adrian Peterson, I don't want to play with any Adrian Peterson at all!"

4. "Purple only looks good on Whoopi, Barney and Prince."

3. "It's my dream to play baseball, and Jerry Reinsdorf has a spot for me on the Birmingham Barons."

2. "That control freak Roger Goodell won't let me wear Wranglers during games!"

1. "I don't want anything to happen on the field that might tarnish my Jets legacy."

The Bald Truth

A walk and a hit?

After only 15 perfect innings?

Boy, Mark Buehrle sucks!

The Balder Truth

We got a look at what makes a perfect game so damn near impossible - and even a shutout an outstanding accomplishment.

Though he pitched masterfully again Tuesday, Buehrle was charged with five runs and a loss because neither LF Scott Podsednik nor 2B Chris Getz could make what should have been routine plays.

Ah, but give Podsednik and Getz a break. They aren't perfect, you know.


Twinkie fans at the Humpty Dome cheered for Buehrle after he walked Alexi Casilla with two outs in the sixth, gave him a standing O again after he gave up a single to the next batter, Denard Span, and cheered long and loud until he tipped his cap after he was taken out of the game in the seventh.

I wish I could say I was surprised by the classiness of Minnesotans, but having spent a very enjoyable decade of my life there, I'm not.

Folks there are nice. Period.

Seems the cold weather keeps the riffraff out.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Rose isn't Selig's bud

The Bald Truth

Despite reports to the contrary, don't bet on Bud Selig ever reinstating Pete Rose

Selig would rather make do with 98 percent of his $18 million salary (so could pay its interns) than lift the ban on Gamblin' Pete.

Rose has cheated and lied and broken sacred rules and acted the fool, and he's done much of it on Selig's watch. Bud isn't about to reward Pete by letting him have a shot at the Hall of Fame.

Still, I say they are separate issues. 

Gamblin' Pete shouldn't be allowed anywhere near baseball now. Not as a manager, not as a GM, not as a coach, not as an ambassador.

But Charlie Hustle should be in the Hall for his accomplishments as a player. There has been no proof that Rose ever gambled on baseball during his playing days, and he certainly was an all-time great.

At the same time, I have little sympathy for Pete Rose. He made his bed ... and he called his bookie from it.

The Balder Truth

Apparently, $136 Million Cubbie Alfonso Soriano isn't allergic to the No. 6 spot after all.

Everybody has known forever that the man isn't a leadoff hitter. And now he's killing the ball from the 6-hole - including Monday's game-winning grand slam against the 'Stros.

Looking back on it now, you wonder what Lou Piniella was so afraid of for 2 1/2 years.


I set up my Facebook account Monday afternoon and I'm still trying to decide if I like it or hate it. 

Sure, it feels good to be at least up to 2007 levels of technology. But who needs that many so-called friends? I haven't been this popular since I coated myself with kibble and went to the dog pound.

So please don't take it personally if I don't accept you as a friend. I mean, I don't take it personally that my kids have rejected my i-friendship.

"Facebook," Ben informed me, "isn't for old dudes like you."


Monday, July 27, 2009

T.O. ... as Voice of Reason?

The Bald Truth

Hold on ... I'm hyperventilating.

I ... can't ... catch ... my ... breath ...

OK. I'll just try to get this out of the way so I can relax.

It seems Terrell Owens and I agree on something important. And we don't just kind of agree a teeny bit, we are in complete agreement. Jeesh!

There. I said it. And I'm still alive.

T.O.'s subject du jour at Bills training camp Sunday was Michael Vick ... and here's what Owens had to say about reports that NFL commish Roger "The Sheriff" Goodell plans to suspend the ex-All-Pro/ex-con for the first four games of the season if and when some team signs Vick:

"I think he's done the time for what he's done. I don't think it's really fair for him to be suspended four more games. It's almost like kicking a dead horse in the ground. The guy's already suffered so much. And to add a four-game suspension on a two-year prison sentence, that's ridiculous."


When the man's right, the man's right. Even if "kicking a dead horse" might not have been the best defense for Vick given PETA's disdain for him already.

Hey, I like that Goodell is taking a tough stance against some of these thugs. But when the law already has taken an extremely tough stance, why pile on? Why not let Vick try to make a living doing what he does best?

Michael Vick was mean - really, really, insidiously mean - to dogs. He deserved punishment. He got punished. But believe me, he will not be the worst guy earning a paycheck in the NFL this season.

As T.O. said: "I mean, there's a lot more guys around the league that have done far more worst things than that and gotten second chances."


It's ... happening ... again. Must ... loosen ... collar ... 

The Quote

"I don't think we're gonna get any nicer articles written about us. But we're in first place, so you can't find a negative in that." - Milton Bradley, when asked what he thought about the Cubs taking the NL Central lead Sunday.

This is beautiful, no? In going out of his way to call the media negative, Bradley took the most positive subject possible and turned it into a negative.

If only he could have been more positive ... like the media!

(For more on Mr. Happy and the Cubs, check out the story I wrote for AP.)


Over the next few days, the Blue Jays will face major pressure to accept an offer for Roy Halladay, but there is absolutely no reason for them to settle for anything short of an amazing, no-brainer of a deal.

Halladay is signed through the end of next season and, in today's dollars for a stud arm, he's even reasonably priced.

He is the best pitcher in the American League, maybe in baseball, and he's still in his prime. The Blue Jays have every right to expect big-time value in exchange.

Unless Halladay suffers some kind of catastrophic injury, the teams desperate for him now will still want him during the Winter Meetings or in spring training 2010 or at next year's trading deadline.

If the Jays get an offer they can't refuse, they shouldn't be afraid to trade him - and I don't think they are.

If GM J.P. Riccardi keeps getting offers he easily can refuse, however, he should keep Halladay, let loyal Jays fans enjoy Doc's pitching for the next couple of months and then see what happens during the offseason.

That's exactly the vibe Riccardi is sending as this year's deadline nears. If he's just bluffing, he's one heck of a poker player.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Pine Meadow: Dubsdread's more affordable (and better?) sibling

Just got done playing one of my favorite golf courses ... not just in the Chicago area but anywhere golf is played: Pine Meadow Golf Club in north suburban Mundelein. 

Like the famed Cog Hill, this is a Jemsek operation, which means it is in impeccable condition, it is a great test of golf (but extremely fair) and it is strikingly beautiful. 

Many, many people who play Pine Meadow believe it is more attractive, more fun to play and far more affordable than Cog Hill Dubsdread - and as much as I love Dubs, I won't argue. (There certainly is no argument about the affordability - it is about half the price of Cog #4.)

Each hole at Pine Meadow is unique and each is an entity unto itself. There are no houses lining the fairways. The clubhouse isn't fancy. This is a golf club - a public golf club - not a country club. It is all about tremendous, picturesque, enjoyable golf.

Oh, and walkable, too - arguably the nicest, truly walkable golf course I've ever played. If your health allows you do to so, skip the cart, save a few bucks, get a little exercise and play this track the way the game is meant to be played.

As you can see, I can't say enough good things about this place, and I've yet to take anybody there who doesn't love it. 

This was the first time I had played Pine Meadow in more than four years - and now that I'm done, I'm mad at myself for waiting so long. I know it won't be four more years before my next appearance.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

White Sox: Perfectly momentum-resistant

The Bald Truth

Game 1: Tigers 5, White Sox 1

Game 2: Tigers 4, White Sox 3

So much for Perfection-Fueled momentum!

Stat of the Day

The White Sox are 15-5 in games started by Mark Buehrle, 35-42 in games started by the less-perfect members of their rotation.

Solution: Let Mr. Perfect start every game.

The Balder Truth

Attention, President Obama! Attention, Lou Piniella!

The guy who made The Perfect Catch is DeWayne Wise ... as in "Hey, youse wise guys!" 

His name's not "Weiss." So stop calling him that!

Quote of the Day

"I guess if we're not scoring runs, then he hasta figure out a way to drive 'em in himself." - Reds manager Dusty Baker after Friday's starting pitcher, Aaron Harang, an .090 career batter, hit his first home run since high school in Cinci's loss to the Cubs.


After crying poor despite their loyal fans filling their ballpark day after day, season after season, the Cardinals finally have gone on a shopping spree.

Matt Holliday has joined Julio Lugo and Mark DeRosa to surround Albert Pujols in the batting order. And in the first game with the new lineup, the Redbirds put an 8-spot on the Phillies.

Now, if only the Cards have a few pennies left over for Roy Halladay to join their rotation - and to give them a roster including both Halladay and Holliday. What a jolly holiday that would be, eh?

You know, spending billionaires' money is one of my favorite hobbies.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


The Bald Truth

I love the term "perfect game." I don't know who coined it and I don't really care. I just love it.

Because it takes perfection to do what Mark Buehrle (and only 17 big-league pitchers before him) did Thursday. Perfection by the lead actor, and perfection by his supporting cast.

The Rays rarely hit the baseball hard against the White Sox ace all day. There were a couple of foul line drives and a couple shots hit right at perfectly-placed infielders. Buehrle only faced five 3-ball counts all day. The game took just 2 hours, 3 minutes to complete.

Pretty damn perfect.

When it looked like the perfection might end, DeWayne Wise made a perfect play in center field, scaling the wall to rob Gabe Kapler of a ninth-inning home run.

Ozzie Guillen had just made a perfect managerial move, getting Wise into the game, moving Scott Podsednik from center to left and putting lumbering Carlos Quentin on the bench. Podsednik doesn't make that catch. Period.

Josh Fields, who has been perfectly awful pretty much all year, picked the perfect time to hit a grand slam. His second-inning shot ensured that Buehrle never really had to worry about the outcome, just the perfect game.

And Ramon Castro, who as A.J. Pierzynski's backup rarely plays, caught perfectly, too. Buehrle never shook him off all day - which is especially amazing given that the two had never before been batterymates.

There are so few perfect performances in sports - or in any walk of life. It was an honor to have been in the ballpark to witness this one.

Good Guys Finish First

Mark Buehrle is Everyman, so when he does something special - and he's done a lot of special things in his fine career - you have to appreciate it even more.

He's not a hulking dude with a 100 mph heater, not an intimidating character with a wild mustache, not a nervous Nelly, not a me-first yahoo. He's just a regular guy - a 38th-round draft pick, for cripe's sake - who happens to be capable of getting big-league batters to make outs.

He's a clubhouse cutup, a fun-loving fool, a self-depricating guy who often is described as "the perfect teammate."

His body? He looks more like a sportswriter than a multimillion-dollar athlete. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

It's refreshing that Everyman can pitch two no-hitters, including a perfect game, and be part of a rotation that delivered Chicago's only baseball championship in the last 92 years.

One of my favorite things about Buehrle: He's jinx-proof.

In both Thursday's game and in his 2007 no-hitter, he laughed at the entire idiotic notion of jinxes.

You know how teammates aren't supposed to go anywhere near a guy pitching a no-no? Well, on Thursday, Buehrle was going up to his teammates and asking them, "So, you think I'm gonna do it?" He and Pierzynski talked about what was happening between just about every inning.

If the perfect game was going to happen, it was going to happen.

And it happened.

How perfect.

The Balder Truth

Aside from his family and perhaps his teammates, Buehrle's biggest fan Thursday was a guy who hadn't stepped foot in U.S. Cellular Field since 2002: Jim Parque.

Why? The former mediocre Sox lefty had written a first-hand piece for Thursday's Sun-Times in which he admitted to taking HGH in an effort to overcome what proved to be a career-ending injury. (Click here for the account I wrote for AP.)

Several media types, including my good buddy, Tribune columnist Rick Morrissey, were at the ballpark expressly to write about Parque.

Personally, I find it hard to blame Parque for trying to save his career. It's not as if he was jabbing himself with needles full of anabolic steroids hoping to get bigger, stronger and faster. I have a bigger problem with him lying after he was named in the Mitchell Report, blaming others for his own actions.

Anyway, Parque was going to be the big headline in Friday's newspapers and the big story on Chicago's TV and radio broadcasts. Instead, he's barely a footnote.

If I'm Buehrle, I'm sending Parque a note saying: "Hey, dude ... YOU'RE WELCOME!"

The Quote

"Those last three batters, I'm like: 'It's not gonna make or break your careers - just swing!' " - Jamie Buehrle, Mark's wife.


This was the first perfect game I ever covered but my second no-hitter. The first no-no was a real stunner: Minnesota's Scott Erickson, who the previous season had given up more hits than any pitcher in baseball, tossed one on April 27, 1994, at the hitter's paradise that is the Metrodome. (Back then, before my column-writing days, I was the AP sports guy in Minneapolis.)

Actually, I only kind of covered Buehrle's. I'll tell you what I mean by that and, in the process, share with you how the world's largest news gathering organization deals with such things.

As you might imagine, no-hitters are big deals to AP because they are so rare. Perfect games, obviously, are HUGE deals. 

When a pitcher has held a team hitless after five innings, the writer at the ballpark - be it an AP staffer, such as Chicago's Rick Gano and Andrew Seligman - or a freelance "stringer" (such as yours baldly), must call the AP baseball honchos in New York and let them know what's going on. The same drill is repeated after the sixth and seventh innings.

If a pitcher still has a no-no going after seven and if a stringer is covering the game, AP tracks down one of its sportswriters and summons him or her to the game. It doesn't matter if the writer has the day off or is working on something else; AP wants him or her there.

Why? Because a no-hitter story - and especially a perfect-game story - will be used by just about every newspaper and Web site that subscribes to the AP wire. Understandably, the folks at AP want one of their sportswriter's names - a "byline" - on the story. (As a stringer, I don't get a byline.)

And so it went Thursday. When I called to let them know Buehrle was still perfect after seven, the New Yorkers called Seligman, who got in his car and started driving from Chicago's far North Side to the South Side. 

Meanwhile, I kept working on the story, getting facts lined up in preparation for the big event. If the no-hitter got broken up while Andy was en route to the park, we would have dealt with it.

After the eighth inning, I sent everything on my computer screen to Ron Blum, AP's outstanding baseball writer/editor in New York. As Ron edited it, I stayed on the phone with him, feeding him whatever additional info he needed as he put together the story.

Seligman arrived at The Cell just after Wise made his catch. Andy got caught up with everything as Blum and I stayed on the telephone through the final two outs.

Perfect game! AP had the story on the wire within moments.

While Seligman told Blum about some of the on-field celebration and eventually worked his way to the press conference featuring Buehrle and Guillen, I went to the White Sox clubhouse to talk to the players. Our able assistant stringer, Seth Gruen, went to chat with the Rays.

Upon our return to the press box, Seth and I e-mailed the quotes we had gathered to Andy, who was busily putting together an updated version of the story. Andy's piece was edited by Blum and others in the New York office and came back looking nice.

I was asked to do a "sidebar" on Wise's catch - click here - which I happily did. 

Was I bummed that I got "nudged" aside for Andy, whose name was on the main story? Not at all.

When AP was my full-time employer, I reported to the ballpark for several in-progress no-hitters. I was the nudgee, not the nudger. It's kind of like Wise going into the game, Podsednik getting told to take left field and Quentin getting sent to the bench. We all have our roles in life; I like to think Pods and Quentin were just fine with theirs Thursday.

In the end, Buehrle got his perfect game, Andy got to the ballpark just in time, AP got its stories (which means millions of readers got them, too) ... and, well, I guess I got the right to say I covered a perfect game, after all.

To: Curtis Enis ... From: Your Favorite Jew

It was 10 years ago Thursday that I had perhaps the weirdest conversation I've ever had with an athlete - that athlete being Curtis Enis, the enigmatic sled of a tailback who lasted only three years in the NFL after the Bears made him the fifth-overall pick in the 1998 draft.

As a rookie, Enis was mostly unproductive on the field before hurting his knee. He was known more for being a soft-spoken, self-described Christian who had gotten horrible advice from his agent than for being a star on the rise.

Now, as training camp 1999 opened, a different Enis had arrived. As I wrote in my column from that day: 

"Enis barreled into Platteville in his gigantic, customized, seven-miles-per-gallon Hummer, rap-music blaring, horns sounding his arrival. He wore a New York City cabbie shirt with 'Abdule' stitched over the right pocket, khaki shorts tugged down just enough to reveal the waistband of his red Hilfiger briefs, and a pair ot Chuck Taylor hi-tops over his sock-less feet. This is Curtis with a 'tude. ... He has dumped his agent. ... And, hold your ears: Enis has changed linguistic styles, too. A half-hour chat with the media included multiple damns, hells and other colorful words."

OK, now that you've got the picture, here was the exchange he and I had (with another half-dozen or so media listening in):

Me: "Don't take this question the wrong way. Do you still consider yourself a Christian?"

Enis: "Do you consider yourself one?"

Me: "No."

Enis: "OK then."

Me: "I'm Jewish."

Enis: "Well, I have no problem being Jewish. I like to get money and make things happen."

What? No reference to my big nose, my love of bagels or the way I singlehandedly control the media? So disappointing.

After his playing career ended, Enis bounced around from job to job. According to newspaper accounts, he has landed with the Miami (Ohio) County Sheriff's Dept., where he is a deputy. He also is doing some volunteer coaching with a local high school.

There were no updates about his views of Jews (or any other religion, race, creed, color or nationality), which is probably a good thing.

Anyway, how a decade flies when you're having fun.

Happy anniversary, Curtis Enis. And shalom.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Give 'em 1 minute, they'll give you 2 L's

The Bald Truth

So I was watching Dennis Leary's Rescue Me with my wife when we put the show on pause to check out what was happening in Tuesday night's Chicago ballgames.

Within a 60-second span, Gordon Beckham grounded weakly to the pitcher with the tying run on base to end the White Sox's come-from-ahead loss to the Rays and The Great Jeff Samardzija served up Jayson Werth's 13th-inning homer to cap the Cubs' loss to the Phillies.
And then my wife and I switched back to Rescue Me, distracted only by the realization that our fine city is a mere three months away from yet another Cubs-Sox World Series.

Once Upon A Time

Hey, didn't Bobby Jenks used to be more than just another bad reliever with a goofy beard?

The Balder Truth

Now that they're 1-6 in games in which Mark DeRosa has played, the Cardinals must be trying to figure out what they need to do to get him back on the Cubs.


Cool story by Yahoo! football writer Michael Silver, who tells of a phone conversation he had with Chad Ochounodostrescuatrocinco. Apparently, during a Lakers game last spring, the former Chad Johnson had a sit-down with Denzel Washington - who told Chad to stop being such a tool.

"He wasn't being gentle," C.O. told Silver. "He said, 'You know what? You need to straighten up and stop fussin' about something you have no control over. Make it fun again because it sure looks better when you do it that way.' That's all I needed to hear, especially from somebody like him."

By all means! After you're done getting real coaches fired, make sure you pay attention to a make-believe coach.

My sources tell me that Denzel's final words to C.O. were this:

"Oh, and remember the Titans!"

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Hoping Erin Andrews gets justice

The Bald Truth

I am disgusted by the pervert lowlife who videotaped a naked Erin Andrews through the peephole in her hotel room and then posted the crapola on the Internet last week.

Although I wrote a column about the ESPN reporter last year that caused quite a stir in the blogosphere - if you google my name, dozens of posts relate to that column and its aftermath - I have no animosity toward her and certainly wouldn't have wished this upon her or anybody else.

Through her attorney, Andrews has said she will bring civil and criminal charges against this sick creep, if he (or she?) is ever identified. Here's hoping this scumbag gets caught and goes to jail, because this is nothing short of sexual assault. 

Unfortunately, one of the major downsides of the Internet is the damage that nameless, faceless idiots can cause.

By the way, I haven't seen this video and I don't intend to try to find it.

The List

In honor of the 10-year anniversary of Jean Van de Velde's epic choke (and the one-day anniversary of a somewhat less epic gag job by Tom Watson), here are the five biggest chokes I've covered during my 27-year sportswriting career:

5. The University of Minnesota football team blows a 31-0 second-quarter lead and loses 41-37 to Ohio State in 1989.

4. After Scottie Pippen tells him, "Remember, the Mailman doesn't deliver on Sundays," Karl Malone misses two free throws with 9 seconds to go in a tie game. The Bulls go on to win Game 1 of the 1997 NBA Finals (and, eventually, the series).

3. The 2004 Cubs, preseason World Series favorites, lose seven of eight games down the stretch - including five by one run - turning a 2 1/2-game lead over Houston in the wild-card race to a 3-game deficit.

2. Arizona blows a 15-point lead with 4 minutes to go and loses to Illinois in the NCAA Regional Final. Bruce Weber's Illini do just about everything right ... thanks in great part to the utter panic of Lute Olson's Wildcats.

1. Five outs away from their first World Series appearance in 58 years, the Cubs throw away a 3-0 lead over the Florida Marlins in Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS. It's known as "the Bartman game," but the choking Cubs players - not any fan - conspired to create the most amazing, surreal half-hour of sports I've ever witnessed.


And speaking of the Cubs, they're not playing the Nationals any more ... and so their four-game winning streak is history.

This is looking like a team that's nowhere near good enough to be in position to choke away a playoff spot at the end of the season.

Then again, is there any NL Central team good enough to win this thing?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sentimental favorite gags ... and bald dude rules!

The Bald Truth

Tom Watson choked!

He choked on No. 18, when he cost himself the championship by never giving his 8-foot putt a fighting chance. And he choked so many times during his four-hole playoff with Stewart Cink that paramedics should have been called to Turnberry to remove the blockage from his throat.

This doesn't erase the 59-year-old Hall of Famer's accomplishments over the weekend and, especially, over his glorious career. And it certainly doesn't discredit the victory by Cink, a grinder who took advantage of his opponent's mistakes and therefore deserved to win The Open Championship.

But to ignore the obvious - or to couch it in kinder terms - just because nice-guy Watson was the sentimental favorite would be as silly as it would be disingenuous.

Tom Watson choked away the Claret Jug, choked away his shot at history. It wasn't a choke of VandeVeldeian proportions, but it was a choke nonetheless.

There. I said it.

The TV Exchange

Paul Azinger: "For Stewart Cink ... this has to be difficult for him because he's a fan of Tom Watson as well."

Curtis Strange: "Oh, he doesn't care right now. Tom Watson's standing between he and that trophy."

Bravo, Curtis! I like Azinger, but jeesh ... what a dopey thing to say.

The Balder Truth

After Cink sank his 12-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole - and followed that clutch shot by kissing his golf ball in celebration - I found myself rooting for the guy whose infamous missed bunny of a putt cost him dearly at the 2001 U.S. Open.

Admittedly, part of it was because Cink removed his cap to display a shiny dome that's almost a mirror image of my own: totally bald except for a ring of stubble just north of the neck region. (CHECK IT OUT!)

A bigger part of it, however, was contrarianism. 

If everybody else - including (especially?) the sickeningly non-objective folks at ABC - was rooting for Tom, somebody outside the Cink family needed to root for Stewart.

Tee It Up!

After spending much of the last four days watching the action at Turnberry, I am totally psyched for the round of golf I'm going to play Monday with my buddy (and former Copley colleague), Gene Chamberlain.

We're playing Settler's Hill, a links-style course built on the site of an old garbage dump in the Western 'burb of Batavia. 

Mounds ... tall grass ... high winds. Cool.

Not a penny will be on the line, just pride ... and I expect I'll choke often. 

I'll probably even fail to advance the ball out of the fescue a couple of times, just like Watson did during the playoff.


See? Even though Tiger was back home with his tigress and cubs, a major golf tournament turned out to be utterly compelling sports theater.

The lead changed hands often, the shotmaking was incredible (and sometimes incredibly bad), the storylines were dramatic and mounds of memories were created.

As usual, championship-level sport provides all the reality TV anybody ever needs.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Very human Tiger gets weekend off

The Bald Truth

I love watching any golf tournament in which the scores are close in the final nine holes and Tiger Woods is a legitimate contender.

That being said, I also think it's a good thing the very few times Tiger misses the cut, as he did at the British Open.

Yes, I know it costs the network viewers and, by extension, money. And I know it automatically makes Sunday at least a little less interesting.

But I'm a big fan of anything that works against the deification of any human being.

Woods is a great golfer. Probably the greatest ever. But he doesn't always win. Neither did Jack Nicklaus or Michael Jordan or Muhammad Ali or Martina Navratilova or Wayne Gretzky or Babe Ruth.

How boring would it be if the greatest always performed greatly and always won?

It's good for the rest of us - and a wonderful lesson for us to teach our kids - that even Tiger Woods fails sometimes.

Now get out to that practice range, young man, and work on that driver!

The Balder Truth

This is Example No. 773 why you should always take The Field over Tiger Woods.

Yeah, he amazingly has won 14 of the 49 majors he's played as a professional.

Hello! That means he has not won 35 of them - 71.4 percent!

This is the biggest no-brainer out there. Yet before every major, the experts and talking heads always, always, always pick Tiger to win.



Frankly, it was sickening the way the TNT folks openly, desperately pulled for Tiger to make the cut. It got to the point where they were rooting against others in the field, hoping the non-Eldricks would miss shots just so the cut line would come down to Woods at +5.

I mean, nobody really expects TV types to be objective, but this was ridiculous.

And TNT won't even be televising the final two rounds!

That means it was hero worship as much as it was rooting for ratings.


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Hey, TNT: A little more new Tiger, a little less old Tiger

The Bald Truth

Some international golf experts have called 17-year-old Ryo Ishikawa, "the Japanese Tiger Woods." It sure would have been nice if TNT had let the rest of us judge for ourselves.

You'd have thought the Royal & Ancient's decision to pair The Japanese Tiger with The American Tiger (as well as Lee Westwood) for the first round of the British Open would have perfectly set up the cable network's Ryo-vs.-Eldrick coverage. 

You'd have thought wrong.  In TNT's camera eye, Ishikawa barely existed.

Even though young Ryo outplayed old Tiger just about all day, the fine folks at TNT seemingly went out of their way to avoid showing anything Ishikawa did.

On No. 16, after Woods and Westwood sent their approaches into the drink, did we then get to see Ishikawa expertly avoid the same fate? Nope. TNT switched to No. 1 for a look at has-been Ernie Els.

On No. 17, after Woods messed up to remain at 1-over, did we get to see Ishikawa make his birdie putt to go to 2-under? Nope. It was time to take a look at American Anthony Kim on the first hole.

Finally, on 18, after one more Tiger miss, the TNT people let us see Ryo make his par putt ... but probably only because network honchos knew they'd get a shot of Ryo and Tiger shaking hands.

Same pairing again for Friday's second round. If the results are anywhere near the same - or even if they aren't - it sure would be nice to get a decent look at this 5-foot-7, 140-pound kid's game.

The Choice

1. John Daly's green-and-yellow picnic tablecloth pants.

2. Ben Curtis' pink shirt.

3. Ian Poulter's Union Jack ensemble.

4. Miguel Angel Jimenez's ponytail.

I think I'll choose none of the above and go with Stewart Cink's delightfully shiny dome. 

The classics never go out of style!

The Balder Truth

TNT must stand for Tiger 'N Tom.

Given Tom Watson's incredible play while shooting a bogey-free 65 Thursday, it was easy to understand the second half of that.

It looked like the only mistake Watson - just two months shy of his 60th birthday - made all day came after his round: He predicted the dry, wind-free conditions at Turnberry would ensure that his 5-under score wouldn't be the low for the day.

Watson's mark held until right near the end, when Jimenez made a bomb of a putt at 18 to finish at 64. So Watson turned out to be accurate there, too.

The Quote

"The course is obviously defenseless." - Tom Watson


Right, Tiger?


Had to chuckle at this exchange between TNT's Ernie Johnson, one of the top announcers in TV sports, and Peter Alliss of the BBC ...

EJ: "Ian (Poulter) had been on Twitter and tweeted a picture of his outfit. You were twittering earlier today, were you not, Peter?

PA: No, I confess I was not. We've only just got gas at my house, so I'm not ready for the Twitter.

Hey, I'm with you, Peter. I'm not quite ready for the Twitter, either!


The day after the MLB All-Star Game is the worst day in sports.

No major league ballgames. 

NFL training camp hasn't opened yet.

It's offseason for the NBA and NHL (and well after the opening of free agency in those leagues, so there isn't even much news).

Wimbledon is over and The Open Championship hasn't started.

When WNBA games, Brett Favre silliness and speculation about Allen Iverson signing with the Clippers are the day's big-ticket items, well, we might as well have slept in.

The beautiful thing: The siesta is a short one. Even as I write this, Tiger & Friends are mere hours away from teeing it up over the pond. 

Baseball will be back, too, replete with folks talking about their team being only x games out "in the loss column" and y games out of the wild-card lead. (Or, in the case of the Nationals, zzzzz games out of fourth place.)

Soon enough, the All-Star festivities will be but a distant memory ... and humidity will descend upon St. Louis with enough force to curl those porn-star 'staches the Cardinals are growing.

Yes, all will be right with the world.

In the meantime ... hey, how 'bout that Chamique Holdsclaw, huh? With her putting 28 points on the board for the Dream, those lamentable Lynx never had a chance!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

AL makes it count again ... and Blackhawks beam up Scotty's boy

The Bald Truth

An Oriole drives in the winning run against a Padre in an exhibition game to decide home-field advantage in the World Series.

Nice work, Bud!

Well, He Said He'd Bring Change

Was that a changeup lefty Barack Obama threw to Albert Pujols for the ceremonial first pitch before the All-Star Game? 

Or does this president simply have a noodle arm compared to Dubya's?

The Balder Truth

Wow, Stan Musial sure has an impressive list of accomplishments! Still, it's natural to wonder if his numbers would have been the same without all those steroids.

It's A Jolly Halladay

Neither the Cubs (with their slow sale and their possible bankruptcy) nor the White Sox (with their lower-than-projected attendance) are likely to feel rich enough to add Roy Halladay's big salary ... so here's an idea:

They BOTH can trade for the Blue Jays great, with Halladay getting to stay in Chicago from here on out because he'd only pitch in home games.

Hey, these rough economic times call for creative solutions.

It only will get unfair in the World Series. With the American League winning for the 855th straight year - This Time It Counts (Again)!! - the White Sox would get Halladay when they face the Cubs in Game 7.


For better or worse, the Blackhawks officially are Scotty Bowman's team.

Last fall, in his first act as "senior adviser," he seniorly advised them to fire Denis Savard four games into the season. Now, he has gotten them to can Dale Tallon - who brought in all their great young talent - so his son Stan Bowman could be the new GM.

Asked what Stan Bowman brings to the job that Tallon didn't, owner Rocky Wirtz told the media: "He's 26, Dale is 58. We always want younger people."

Zounds! Methinks Tallon would have one hell of an age-discrimination suit had he not accepted a pile of hush money from Wirtz to stay on as an "adviser." (An extremely junior adviser.)

Given his love of youngsters in positions of power, Wirtz sure is giving a lot of latitude to Scotty Bowman, a septuagenarian whose Hall of Fame coaching career began back when NHL players really wore sweaters.

There is no question Scotty knows a lot about winning. With nine Stanley Cups, he's the Red Auerbach of hockey. 

And there's no question the Blackhawks are desperate. It's been so long since they've won it all, their last championship actually predates the start of Bowman's coaching career by six years!

Still, this all seems so sleazy, so knife-in-the-back, so beneath the actions of any respectable organization.

All I'll say is Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville had better watch his back. With Phil Jackson having just won his 10th NBA title to break a tie for the most in North American pro sports history, Scotty might be salivating for another turn behind the bench.

Fortunately for Scotty, he has an in with the new GM.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Back ... back ... back ... blecchhh!

Home Run Derby? Missed it. By choice.

Already planning to miss Derby 2010, too.

Based on past experience, watching sluggers bash baseballs a long way is mildly entertaining for a few minutes. When one takes ESPN's absurdly serious treatment of the event into the account, well, unwatchable and gag-inducing are the adjectives that leap to mind.

I mean, why not just have Boomer Berman do straight play-by-play of putt-putt golf?

"Oh no! Here comes the windmill blade now!"

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Get me rewrite!

The All-Star break has arrived and it's time to play a game I like to call "What I Meant To Say."

Let's look back at the predictions I made back in April and update them with some fancy-schmancy editing.

Play along and win big cash prizes!


What I Said: Mark Teixeira, Yankees.

What I Meant To Say: Jason Bay, Red Sox.

The national media loves Joe Mauer, and there's a lot there to love. Well, how 'bout this: Though he finished the first half by going 0-for-9 in the last two games, his Twins still put 20 runs on the board against the White Sox. So really, how valuable can he be? Seriously, playing catcher wears on a guy. I mean, his average is all the way down to a pathetic .373! Bay is having a big year for the league's best team and he'll benefit from the Anti-Manny Vote.


What I Said: Albert Pujols, Cardinals.

What I Meant To Say: Albert Pujols, Cardinals.

While the talk of Mauer batting .400 was absolute silliness, Pujols has a better-than-good chance to win the Triple Crown. He's the best hitter on the planet by a wide margin ... and it's not like this season has been a fluke.

AL Cy Young

What I Said: Roy Halladay, Blue Jays.

What I Meant To Say: Justin Verlander, Tigers.

Halladay might get traded to an NL team, which would immediately end his candidacy. Even if he stays, he'll be toiling for a Toronto squad that has hit the skids. Verlander is better than he was when he helped the Tigers to the '06 World Series. Working in a pitcher's park won't hurt.

NL Cy Young

What I Said: Derek Lowe, Braves.

What I Meant To Say: Tim Lincecum, Giants.

It's looking like back-to-back hardware for the 170-pound kid who seemingly throws out his arm on every pitch. It helps that Lincecum pitches in perhaps baseball's best rotation, making for lots of anything-you-can-do-I-can-do-better action in San Fran.

AL First Manager Fired

What I Said: Ron Washington, Rangers.

What I Meant To Say: Eric Wedge, Indians.

Wedge's team is the most disappointing in the league and he has received the dreaded vote of confidence from his boss. Sounds like a sure thing, no?

NL First Manager Fired

What I Said: Cecil Cooper, Astros.

What I Meant To Say: Bob Melvin, Diamondbacks.

With Melvin's ballclub playing like the '62 Mets, D-backs management barely waited a month to give him the heave-ho. He beat Colorado's Clint Hurdle out the door by about three weeks but unlike the Rockies under Jim Tracy, the Diamondbacks haven't exactly soared to new heights under A.J. Hinch.

AL East Champion

What I Said: Red Sox.

What I Meant To Say: Red Sox.

The Yankees simply can't beat them.

AL Central Champion

What I Said: White Sox.

What I Meant To Say: White Sox.

Flawed, but who in the division isn't? They have a better bullpen than the Tigers, play better defense, will have Carlos Quentin coming back to boost the offense and already have gotten a nice boost from Gordon Beckham.

AL West Champion

What I Said: Angels.

What I Meant To Say: Angels.

They've had more injuries than Lou Piniella's famously banged-up Cubbies. Unlike Lou's excuse-making lads, the Angels are 10 games over .500 and in first place even though the Rangers had an unexpectedly good first half.

AL Wild Card

What I Said: Yankees.

What I Meant To Say: Yankees.

They've stayed close to the Red Sox even though they can't beat the Red Sox, even though A-Roid was hurt and even though some of their big-bucks boys haven't been worth the dough. Talent doesn't always win out but it usually does. 

AL Pennant

What I Said: Red Sox.

What I Meant To Say: Red Sox.

Any team that can survive the AL East can survive the rest of the league.

NL East Champion

What I Said: Phillies.

What I Meant To Say: Phillies

Despite a couple of horrendous streaks, they have held off the rest of the division. The Marlins are still a little green and inconsistent, the Braves don't have enough talent and the Mets are frauds.

NL Central Champion

What I Said: Cubs.

What I Meant To Say: Cubs.

The Cardinals and Brewers had their chances to bury the Cubs and couldn't do it. Yes, I'm getting tired of the injury excuse - the Cardinals have had plenty of injuries, too - but it is also a fact that the Cubs have had a lot of injuries. And some of their supposedly best players have been lousy. I still think they are the division's most talented team - something that would change only if the Cardinals or Brewers bring in a Halladay-esque addition.

NL West Champion

What I Said: Diamondbacks.

What I Meant To Say: Dodgers.

Also what I mean to say is that the drugs were very powerful the day I made that D-backs prediciton.

NL Wild Card

What I Said: Dodgers.

What I Meant To Say: Cardinals.

The Giants' pitching staff makes them scary but the Cardinals have decent pitching (if Chris Carpenter stays healthy). St. Louis also has Albert Pujols and Tony La Russa. Not to mention The Great Mark DeRosa.

NL Pennant

What I Said: Phillies.

What I Meant To Say: Phillies.

They know how to do it and they have the talent, though I'd feel a little more comfortable about this if they can bring in one more outstanding starter to bring their pitching nearer to the Dodgers' level. Pedro Martinez is only the answer if it's 1997 and the Phillies move to Montreal.

World Series

What I Said: Red Sox over Phillies.

What I Meant To Say: Red Sox over Phillies.

The curse has long left Beantown. Word is, it's doubling down on Chicago's North Side.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Where's the doggone justice?

After being cruel to dogs, Michael Vick has to spend 21 months in jail and is generally regarded as one of the all-time scoundrels in the history of scoundrels.

Donte' Stallworth, meanwhile, received a 30-day sentence after getting drunk, getting behind the wheel of a car and killing a woman. Oh, and he only had to serve 24 days of the term!

Is it me, or is something very wrong with that picture?


In my previous post, I made a reference to Roland Burris not seeking re-election to the U.S. Senate. Burris, of course, never was elected in the first place. 

He was the lucky winner of Hot Rod Blago's Senate Sweepstakes ... and the other senators didn't have the stones to fight the appointment.

Management regrets the error, though not as much as management regrets that Illinois voters put a corrupt governor in position to choose an undeserving senator.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Run, Roland, Run!

The Bald Truth

U.S. Sen. Roland Burris (D-Flimflammer) saying he won't run for re-election is like me saying I won't run in the Chicago Marathon.

Except I'd have a better chance of winning.

Hey, I've been working out!

The Quote I

"It's the same thing every year: You go through your bad stretch and it's full-on panic. There's better things to come for those guys. They're gonna get hot and stay hot. They have too much talent over there not to." - ex-Cubbie Kerry Wood, talking about his former club.

If memory serves, Wood's 2004 and 2005 Cubs also had too much talent.

The Balder Truth

If Clayton Richard makes another start for the White Sox, it will be one start too many. In fact, it's already been about eight starts too many.

Why are Kenny Williams and Ozzie Guillen so afraid to give Aaron Poreda the ball and let him do his thing? 

Put him on a very tight pitch count, tell him to use extra ice after each start and read him a bedtime story every night ... but for cryin' out loud, put the kid in the rotation.

The Quote II

"I've been watching more TV at night. Just got done watching Rescue Me with Dennis Leary; that's really got me locked in." - Indians catcher Kelly Shoppach, after being asked what he was doing to try to get out of his season-long slump.

Great show, Rescue Me. It's another in a series of excellent FX series. Funnier than hell. But, I warn you, not for the kiddies. And that means you, Aaron Poreda!


The Dallas Mavericks have assembled a new version of the Phoenix team that was never quite good enough to get to the NBA Finals.

Starring as Steve Nash is Jason Kidd, who is older than Nash and can't shoot.

Starring as Amare Stoudemire is Dirk Nowitzki, who is older than Amare and likes to hang out around the 3-point line.

And starring as Shawn Marion is the newest Mav, Shawn Marion, who is older than the old Marion and about 80 percent as effective.

Yes, Mark Cuban has built a Suns-ish team that is sure to go all the way ... to the second round.

If Dirk's hitting his 3's, anyway.

Lou's verbal smackdown of Hendry

The Bald Truth

I'm not sure if even Lou Piniella realized it when he said it, but after another impotent loss to the sub-mediocre Braves, the fed-up Cubbie skipper fired his first public shot right at GM Jim Hendry's head:

"I get asked the same questions every day - every day, you know? I think what you need to do is go ask the players why they’re not hitting instead of asking me. Or go talk to the hitting coach."

In other words: Go talk to Hendry's hitting coach, Von Joshua. He's the guy Hendry brought after going over Lou's head and firing Gerald Perry, a perfectly good hitting coach who also happens to be Lou's friend.

Lou might as well have said: "Hey, Jimbo, these are your crappy hitters and now it's your savior hitting coach. Have a nice day."

The Quote

"I’m not in the batter’s box. All I can do is try to keep them upbeat and show them what’s going on with their mechanics." - Von Joshua

So after Hendry blamed the previous hitting coach, the current hitting coach is saying: "Hey, man, don't blame me."

What an organization.

Maybe Hendry should ensure a World Series appearance by firing Jim Riggleman again.

The Balder Truth

If you say you had Jason Marquis and Tim Wakefield in the First Pitchers To Eleven Wins Pool, I hope you don't mind if I call you a liar.


It's July 8. It's 63 degrees and breezy. You know, on July 8, a guy shouldn't have to wear a fleece jacket over a long-sleeve shirt with the heat on in the Wrigley press box.

Give me my summer, dammit!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Prima + Donna = Ryan Braun

The Bald Truth

That Ryan Braun spoke the truth about the Brewers' pitching staff being inadequate is beside the point. 

He proved himself a prima donna, a jerk and, mostly, a horrendous teammate.

It's also beside the point that he met with GM Doug Melvin on Tuesday and tried to take back everything he said: "I apologized if I offended anybody in the organization. I wasn't trying to call anybody out." 

Oh, so when he blamed the pitching staff for the team losing three of four against the Cubs - when he said every Cubs starter was better than every Brewers starter - he was just trying to be constructive. He was just trying to prod Melvin into making a move, maybe bringing back CC Sabathia one more time or something.

I wonder how Braun would have reacted if any Milwaukee pitchers ever commented publicly about his atrocious defense in left field?

As for Melvin, he was pissed because Braun was disrespectful to people in the front office.

Really? What Braun did was far worse than taking a poke at Melvin and his minions. Braun ripped his own teammates - angrily and very publicly. 

He all but said: "I'm great, they're not. I can win us the pennant. They're weighing me down."

Think about all the ballplayers who have been jerks this season: Manny, A-Roid, Milton, Magglio, Cra-Z and so on. 

Have any of them shown their teammates less respect than Ryan Braun did?

Hey, at least the Brewers - a team too flawed to be taken seriously even in the horrid NL Central - have somebody who is No. 1 in one category.

The Balder Truth

True story: The Indians are beating the White Sox 3-1 in the sixth inning when Cleveland manager Eric Wedge goes to his bullpen. Before turning the channel to check what's going on in the Cubs-Braves game, I say to my wife and son: 

"With those rag-arm relievers, the Sox will be leading 9-3 pretty soon."

We turned back to the Sox game just in time to see Paul Konerko's grand slam - his second of three HRs on the night - sail into the stands. An inning later, it was 10-3.

Nice pitching staff you've got there, Cleveland. 

Ryan Braun can't even blame Kerry Wood for this one.


Now that Michael Jackson has been eulogized, memorialized and laid to rest, can we please get on with something that matters? 

You know, like Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch's proposed Justice Department probe into the BCS?

Because if there's one thing our federal government should be investing time and money in, it's that Utah didn't get a chance to play for the mythical national football title.

And some people wonder why our country is bankrupt.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

At long last, Cubs pass Baseball 101

The Bald Truth

So what if it took Lou Piniella 2 1/2 years? At least he eventually got it right: Bat the guy likely to have the highest on-base percentage first, the contact hitter who excels at going to right field (and also is decent at getting on base) second and the power guy somewhere in the middle of the order.

Kosuke Fukudome, No. 1 ... Ryan Theriot, No. 2 ... Alfonso Soriano, No. 6.

After the Cubbie skipper stopped backing down to Soriano - even benching the $136 Million Man for a couple of games in favor of The Great Sam Fuld - Piniella finally passed Baseball 101 at last.

Congrats, Lou!

The Balder Truth

Today's NBA 3-pointer:

1. Celtics get Rasheed Wallace. Here's hoping Beantown isn't actually buying that this soon-to-be-35 loon is the key to a return to championship level. If Kevin Garnett is healthy come playoff time, the Celts will have a chance. If he (or Paul Pierce) isn't, the Celtics are toast. Even in his best days, 'Sheed was no KG. And 'Sheed is at least three years removed from his best days.

2. Spurs get Richard Jefferson. This was the single best move of the NBA offseason - yes, better than the Cavs trading for The Big Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Tourist - and it gives Tim Duncan a leg up on Shaq and Kobe in the race for a fifth NBA title. Duncan + Jefferson + Tony Parker + Manu Ginobili = a lot of freakin' pluses!

3.  Dwyane Wade gives Pat Riley an ultimatum. And a deadline, too. The NBA's third-best player says he wants to stay with the Heat but, he told AP, "I want to make sure that we're on track ... before I sign back." In other words, the 2006 Finals MVP says he won't stay in Miami after next season if the team isn't a legitimate title contender. Because the Heat almost surely won't contend, it will be a wide-open race next summer for Wade's considerable talents. Will the Bulls be enough of a contender a year from now to convince Dwyane to return home? Maybe, maybe not, the Bulls do figure to have considerable cash available, which would be the next best thing.


The long-awaited $900 million sale of the Cubs to the Ricketts family of Omaha finally appears ready to be rubber-stamped by MLB, and you know what that means:

Jim Hendry soon will be allowed to throw more millions at overhyped, underproductive ballplayers in a desperate attempt to buy off the baseball gods.


Monday, July 6, 2009

Reporting to duty for Year 28

Indulge me and my memories, folks. It was the week of July 4, 1982, that I began my journalism career.

During my rookie year in the business (with AP in Milwaukee), I was lucky enough to help cover the Brewers' only run to the World Series. I didn't have a laptop computer to use - hardly anyone did back then - so I had to dictate my stories via telephone to an editor.

Given what we know has happened technologically, it's hard to believe that things were so primitive barely more than a quarter-century ago. I mean, we might as well have been using chisels and stone tablets, right?

But you know what? No matter what method I had to use to submit my stories, it was absolutely thrilling to be a just-turned-22-year-old kid who was part of such a big event. My heart still races whenever I recall that feeling of urgency I experienced in October '82.

Later that year, I covered a Marquette Warriors game in which coach Hank Raymonds and point guard Glenn Rivers (you know him as Celtics coach Doc now) got into a shouting match. Actually, it was a one-sided argument, with Rivers basically telling Raymonds to sit down, shut up and leave the players alone.

Sure, Hank was semi-deaf and might not have heard what Glenn was saying. But can you imagine one of the Celtics saying such a thing to Rivers now and getting away with it? (That was one of the few times during these last 27 years that I covered anything involving my alma mater. I've become far too big a fan to attempt it again.)

After Milwaukee, my career took me to AP stops Madison, Minneapolis and Chicago and then to my dream job as columnist for the Copley Newspaper chain, which was bought two years ago by GateHouse, which decided in January that the only way it could survive the recession was to eliminate the Chicago sports columnist's $88 million salary.

Even though I'm now unempl ... um, between jobs ... I wouldn't have changed a thing. It's been a fun, fulfilling 27 years, with incredible assignments, travels to faraway lands and vivid memories.

Back in 1982, I was at the dawn of my career and didn't mind that I lacked a computer to use. Now, I have all the techno toys at my disposal but not so much of a career. I'm not sure if that's irony or just a kick in the crotch.

Still, as hard as the business seems to be trying to eliminate its workforce, it can't get rid of this stubborn clown so easily.

I thank AP for taking me back (as a freelancer this time) and my readers for keeping The Baldest Truth relevant.

I probably don't have another 27 years in me, but I'm not done yet.