Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Brain-dead Carlson bites Vick ... and other silliness

The Bald Truth

When a person goes to jail, that should be it for him or her. No rehabilitation. No job. No loved ones. No home. No chance at a life once the sentence is served. No nothing.

At least that, apparently, is what Fox yahoo Tucker Carlson believes.

Angry that Barack Obama told Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie that ex-cons deserve the right to contribute to society, Carlson barked: "Michael Vick killed dogs, and he did (it) in a heartless and cruel way. I think personally he should have been executed for that."

Simply executed? Why not stoned to death in the village square?

For trying to imitate an insightful human being, Tucker Carlson should be sentenced to 20 years of having to watch Keith Olbermann on a continuous loop.

Indeed, a fate much worse than death.

The Balder Truth

Now that he has changed Sox, Bobby Jenks is saying Ozzie Guillen doesn't know how to manage a bullpen.

Hmmm. I seem to recall Ozzie running the White Sox bullpen quite well during the 2005 ALCS romp by letting his starters pitch four straight complete games.

Now shaddup, Bobby, and go eat another dozen doughnuts.


Once again, Rafael Palmeiro is saying he never took steroids. He is lobbying to get into the Hall of Fame. He has only a slightly better chance than fellow juicer Felix Heredia.

It's pretty sad when we're left having to believe Jose Canseco over everybody else in the whole juicing mess. Canseco insists he introduced both Palmeiro and Mark McGwire to steroids long ago - but not long before Palmeiro went from being slap-hitter to slugger.

Canseco is a scumbag, to be sure, but his 'roid-related accusations have been proven true over and over again.

McGwire spent most of two decades denying Canseco's claims -- and Big Mac had an army of apologists, led by Gen. Tony La Genius, marching right along with him into an ambush of humiliation.

I'm putting the over-under on Palmeiro's tearful confession at 12 years.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry Bleepin' Crash-mas

My wife and I spent Christmas Eve in the hospital. And you?

First of all, we're OK. Our bodies were shaken and stirred in a car crash, and our little red Prius needs some major repairs, but we are alive and have no broken bones (that we know of).

We had gone to see Black Swan at a mall theater in northern Charlotte and were then going to dinner at P.F. Chang's. I was driving very slowly, because the mall grounds were crowded with last-minute shoppers. We were less than a football field away from Chang's when Roberta screamed: "Oh my God!" A split-second later, we were nailed on the passenger side by a Chevy pickup.

My wife's side-curtain airbag deployed and the contents of the car were sent flying. But we were wearing our seatbelts ... and we realized we were breathing and weren't bleeding. After shaking off some cobwebs for a few minutes, I opened my door and staggered unsteadily out of the car. As I tried to gather my thoughts, Roberta, who has had some surgeries to her neck and other regions, sat as still as possible.

Another person, who had witnessed the entire event, said he was a doctor. He checked on Roberta and helped me find my phone, which I used to call 9-1-1. Amazingly quickly, a police car and an ambulance were on the scene.

While paramedics tended to me -- I was feeling tingling from the left side of my neck down to my fingers -- I overheard the other driver claiming he wasn't going fast. The witness, however, disagreed, telling the driver he was "going like a bat out of hell."

Paramedics immobilized my neck and secured me to a board. Meanwhile, the police were using some kind of tool to pop open the passenger door. Soon enough, they had Roberta out and were strapping her to a board, too. The police asked me a few questions and then Roberta and I were loaded into the ambulance for our his-and-her ride. Shortly thereafter, we were at the hospital and were taken into separate rooms.

I got a CT scan to make sure I had no nerve damage. Roberta, who had pain up and down her right side, had several X-rays taken. Results of all tests, thankfully, were negative. Roberta had bruises, most notably one near her right hip, where the armrest probably made impact.

Less than three hours after we arrived at the hospital, we were cleared to go but we had to wait for a transport service to take us home. We finally made it home around 9:30 and I then called to find out where the car was towed.

It's now 48 hours later. My body is sore but I'll survive. Roberta is more sore, but she'll make it, too. We have hugged and kissed many times, realizing how lucky we were. The fact that we don't celebrate Christmas means that we at least didn't have a holiday to ruin -- yet another benefit of being Jewish!

I'll be spending the next week or more tending to this mess: dealing with insurance companies, police reports, auto-body shops, car rental agencies, etc. Though it will be a big pain in the keister, we know it could have been a lot worse.

By the way, Black Swan is highly recommended.

Oh, and we hear Mrs. Lincoln enjoyed the play, too.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

NCAA laughs off Pryor offense

The NCAA was at its classic, convoluted, cuckoo best in suspending five Ohio State players - including star QB Terrelle Pryor and leading rusher Boom Herron - for next season's first five games but ruling that the guys can play in next month's Sugar Bowl.

Despite claims to the contrary - laughable claims, indeed - NCAA honchos obviously didn't want to ruin the big-money game against Arkansas. Period.

Pryor, Herron and the others sold various championship rings and awards for cash. They also received improper benefits from - what else? - a tattoo parlor.

The NCAA thought the infractions were serious enough to add a fifth game to what historically is a four-game penalty. Playing in two weeks, however, will be just fine because, the NCAA says, Pryor & Co. “did not receive adequate rules education during the time period the violations occurred."


Next thing you know, some player - say, an Auburn QB - not only won't be punished but will receive the Heisman Trophy after his father gets caught trying to sell the QB's services to the highest bidder.

Not that anything so crazy could ever happen in the wonderful world of NCAA sports.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

New Bobcats coach will need aspirin in bulk

Like me, Paul Silas loves shopping at Costco. I just saw him filling his cart at our Charlotte store a couple of days ago.

Now we have something else in common: We're both coaches.

Silas is the new interim coach of the Bobcats after Michael Jordan decided that Larry Brown was no longer the man for the job.

If the Bobcats tune him out, at least Silas knows he can go to Costco and buy a 12-pack of new players.

As for my mighty Lady Bucs of Charlotte Country Day, we're 4-2 with 3 straight wins heading into our winter break. If we have a good second half of the season, I figure Michael will be calling to offer me the Bobcats job.

And in an unrelated story ...

It's somehow fitting that the Bears might have been the team to end Brett Favre's career. After all, over the years he ended the careers of many a Bear - head coaches, defensive coordinators, cornerbacks, safeties, quarterbacks ...

UConn't deny that 89 wins is amazing

When I was at Marquette, one of my fellow students was a female basketball star named Kathy Andrykowski. She was a prolific scorer whose feats were touted by the P.R. department every time she surpassed one of the men's stars on the Warriors' all-time points list. At the time, I considered every such mention to be beyond ridiculous.

Men were men and women were women and to compare the two was dopey. One of the starting guards on our women's team was a good friend of mine and I beat her several times 1-on-1. And I pretty much sucked. So, in my immature mind, that proved a female's athletic accomplishments shouldn't be mentioned in the same breath as those of a male jock.

So here we are, some three decades later, and UConn's women's hoops team just won its 89th straight game. Which, of course, is one more victory than John Wooden's early-70s UCLA team's storied record of 88.

And while I still think it's kind of an apples-and-oranges deal, I truly do appreciate the amazing accomplishment of Geno Auriemma's Huskies.

I don't care if it's men, women or hermaphrodites. Eighty-nine wins in a row is 89 wins in a row. The Huskies deserve to be celebrated ... and if it all engenders some discussion of gender roles in sport and society, all the better.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Reliving Cubbieland's glory daze

Now that Cubbies have brought back Kerry Wood, can Mark Prior, Matt Clement and Greg Maddux be far behind?

Just think: Those four can hook back up with Carlos Zambrano to re-form the rotation that made the Cubs a lock for the 2004 World Series!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Today's High 5

5. NFL commish Roger Goodell loves to crack down big-time on players, even those who have paid their debts to society after acts that have nothing to do with football. Then, when he had the chance to lay down the law against that Jets strength coach who intentionally tripped a defenseless Dolphins player during a game, Goodell barely delivered a slap on the wrist. Instead of getting fired and barred from working in the NFL again - a punishment that would have fit a heinous football crime - the guy got suspended for a few games. Talk about a pathetic double-standard.

4. Thanks to the popped pimple that is the Metrodome, the Bears and Vikings will play next Monday at the University of Minnesota's new field. Beautiful. Two bad cold-weather teams forced to play in miserable conditions just a mile or so away from the domed stadium that turned the Viqueens into wimps in poor weather. Somehow poetic, no?

3. Is anybody with even half a brain still wondering why the Vikings didn't bench Brett Favre to play Tarvaris Jackson?

2. No matter what one thinks of Favre, his consecutive-games streak truly was one of the great accomplishments in sports history. Even if he needed performance-enhancing drugs (illegally obtained painkillers) to keep it going over the years.

1. Even Philly fans will have trouble booing Cliff Lee after he accepted significantly less - in both money and security - from their team while rejecting the Yankees and Rangers. Lee is a hero in Philly ... and he's still filthy, stinkin' rich. Makes you wonder why more athletes don't do this kind of thing.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Of Bear Weather and a bearish wait for the next Dexter

The Bald Truth

"Bear Weather."

Is there a bigger myth in all of sport?

About once every three years or so, the Bears play a late-season game at Soldier Field against an inferior, warm-weather team ... and when that team pisses down its collective leg, all we hear about is "Bear Weather."

But how many times does what happened Sunday against the Patriots happen? How often are the Bears overwhelmed at Soldier Field in conditions supposedly made for the home squad? More often than I can count.

In this case, Tom Brady and the Patriots were coming off an emotional victory over a division rival only six days earlier. They had every reason to suffer a letdown against a Bears team that supposedly was ready to prove doubters wrong. And to top it off, it was snowy and windy and very, well, Bear Weatherish out there.

Then the game started. And pretty much ended by midway through the second quarter. Bear fans couldn't even muster the energy to boo the home team.

Hey, that the Bears aren't as good as the Patriots isn't exactly a stop-the-press declaration. Once again, the Patriots are football's best team ... and it really isn't close.

Still ...

Being humiliated on your home field in "your" weather? Well, that has to be almost too much for Lovie's lads to bear.

The Balder Truth

Here in Charlotte, CBS turned off the Patriots-Bears game in the third quarter and switched to Dolphins-Jets.

If only my friends back in Chicago could have been treated to such mercy.


On a much sadder note ...

With Sunday night's finale, another season of Showtime's Dexter has come and gone. And now we must go months and months without TV's most complex character - portrayed brilliantly, as always, by the spectacular Michael Hall - and his incredible supporting cast.


Dexter truly is one of the great shows in television history, so every season is great. With sensational guest-star turns by Julia Stiles and Peter Weller and with more twists and turns than the Blue Ridge Parkway, this season was especially thrilling.

Which, of course, makes the wait for Season 6 all the more excrutiating!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

This must mean Pujols is worth $80 million a year

Ten million bucks for Carlos Pena?

Just think how much the Cubbies would have paid him if he had batted above the Mendoza line last season!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Today's High 5 - Wanny Edition

5. The folks at Pitt should have known they were in trouble when Dave Wannstedt brought in Rick Mirer to play QB and declared that all the pieces were in place.

4. Hard to believe Wanny would fail at Pitt after all his previous success as a head coach.

3. I know a lot of Bears fans don't like Lovie, but the guy is Vince Lombardi, George Halas and Paul Brown all rolled into one compared to this guy.

2. Wanny says he would have won big at Pitt if only Erik Kramer hadn't broken his neck.

1. Give Dave Wannstedt credit for one thing: He's done an excellent job of making a sub-mediocre coach very rich.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Nadel-a-thon in sunny Fla

Chilling with my wife and two grown kids for a few days in Orlando.

SeaWorld on Sunday, Magic game on Monday, more fun to come.

It's the first time Roberta and I have seen Katie and Ben since before we moved to Charlotte, so it's been great to spend time with them again.

Whoever said "family is everything" was dead-on. (Oh wait ... that was me just saying it right now!)

We could use a little warmer weather - sunny and mid-50s Monday after a very nice Sunday - but I know nobody in the Midwest is feeling sorry for us! Ben, who still lives in Chicago, keeps telling us how warm it is!!

Back with more later in the week ...

Friday, December 3, 2010

Goodbye, Ron Santo

Ron Santo was my favorite Chicago sports figure, a personal hero and a friend. I am greatly saddened that he has died at the too-young age of 70.

Everybody who took the time to know Ron even a little couldn't help but be inspired by his upbeat attitude in the face of tremendous adversity. He suffered from so many physical ailments - including the loss of both legs due to complications from diabetes - that sometimes I wondered how he convinced himself to get out of bed each morning.

Not only did Ron rise, however, he shined. He helped raise millions of dollars in the fight against juvenile diabetes. He seemed genuinely happy to see every fan who would shake his hand or ask for his autograph. He laughed easily and often.

Indeed, during my 16 years as a Chicago sportswriter, one of the best things about going to Wrigley Field was seeing Ron Santo in his favorite place on earth.

I often would stand to the side while he'd conduct his dugout interview of the "fine Cubs manager" before every game. Whether the Cubs were in first place or last or whether they won big the day before or suffered a crushing defeat, Ron would be so full of optimism and passion as he'd talk to Lou Piniella or Dusty Baker or Don Baylor or Jim Riggleman (or even Mike Quade or Bruce Kimm).

After the interview, I'd listen to Ron and the manager du jour as they would chat off-the-record about all that was going on in Cubbieland. Such sessions became a big part of my education as a columnist.

My wife Roberta wasn't a huge Cubs fan but she used to love listening to Ron and Pat Hughes calling games on WGN. Like most listeners, she got a kick out of the way Ron would mangle the English language and the way Pat and Ron would needle each other.

While covering spring training in 2007, Roberta visited me in Arizona for a long weekend and we ended up going out to dinner one night with Ron and his wife, Vicki. It was a fun and relaxing evening, and I'm glad Roberta (and I) got to experience it.

Ron, of course, did have his down moments. The first time the veteran's committee didn't vote him to the Hall of Fame, he was all but inconsolable. I hurt for him. A day or two later, however, he was back at the Cubs' spring training complex with a smile and a good word for everybody.

Then there were his many, many, many anguished wails on WGN when his beloved Cubbies would mess up royally. Most famous was his "Nooooo! Oh nooooo!" when Brant Brown dropped a routine fly in a crucial late-1998 game in Milwaukee, but that was just one of thousands.

Nobody loved the Cubs more than Ron Santo did. Nobody! Long ago, he supplanted Ernie Banks as the true Mr. Cub. I'm no Cubbie fan, but just once it would have been cool to see the look on Ron's face in a champagne-soaked, post-championship clubhouse.

Ron was ill and wasn't able to broadcast the 2003 postseason run. When the Cubs beat the Braves in Game 5 of the 2003 playoffs for their first postseason-series victory in 95 years, the team called Ron from the clubhouse so he could be part of it. His giddy speakerphone conversation with Kerry Wood, who almost singlehandedly won that series, is something I'll never forget.

I know I'm leaving out so many wonderful memories, so I'll just conclude by saying this:

Ron Santo was a Chicago icon, a great baseball ambassador, a heroic do-gooder, one of the toughest men on the planet and a testimony to the power of positive thinking. I am proud to have been able to call him my friend.