Thursday, November 24, 2016

Loosen your belt and enjoy the Turkey of the Year Countdown

It's Thanksgiving. So naturally, while Roberta is relaxing blissfully in the kitchen (something about getting dinner ready), I am doing real work: putting together my 18th annual Turkey of the Year Countdown.

Lest I end up on this list myself, I do hope everybody knows I'm joking. Robbie is working hard in that kitchen. As she should, being a woman at all. (That's for you, President Trump!)

Anyway, on with the task at hand - "honoring" the sports year's losers, lame-os, louts, haters, hypocrites and hacks.

Previous "winners" (and by that, I mean losers):

Mike McCaskey (1998); Jerry Krause (1999); Bobby Knight (2000); David Wells and Frank Thomas (2001); Dick Jauron (2002); Sammy Sosa (2003 and 2004); Andy MacPhail, Jim Hendry and Dusty Baker (2005); Aramis Ramirez (2006); Charlie Weis (2007); Choking Cubbies (2008); Milton Bradley (2009); Mark McGwire (2010); Joe Paterno and the Penn State Enablers (2011); U.S. Ryder Cup Team (2012); Alex Rodriguez(2013); Roger Goodell and Ray Rice (2014); Derrick Rose (2015).

Sharp readers will notice that up until 2010, each of those Turkeys did their gobbling in Chicago or the Midwest. Because I columnized for the Copley newspaper group in Chicago, where the annual countdown got its start under my predecessor and friend, the late, great Gene Seymour, I naturally favored that region. (The Cubs were particularly well-represented, taking the "honor" six times in a 7-year span in the aughts ... but that obviously isn't the case this year!) Since moving to North Carolina, I've expanded my Turkey-choosing horizons. Still, as always, I dedicate this in memory of Gene.

OK, enough appetizers. Time to get to the main meal ...

12. JIMMY HASLAM. Since buying the Cleveland Browns in 2012, they are 19-56 - including 0-11 so far this season, when they will miss the playoffs for the 14th straight year. Haslam already has shot through four coaches and three GMs, and he doesn't even have a GM now because he hired a baseball guy to focus on Moneyball-type analytics. Good luck with that. Can't LeBron buy the team?

11. NICK KYRGIOS. Tennis is the only mainstream sport in which even high-ranked competitors routinely tank games: Player is losing 5-1, so he or she barely moves to save energy for the following set. The enigmatic Kyrgios took tanking to an absurd level in a Shanghai Masters loss to Mischa Zverev: He literally didn't try almost the entire match, tapping serves barely over the net, walking away as Zverev returned shots and saying out loud that he just wanted to go home to Australia. Fans, who had paid hundreds for tickets, booed - and Kyrgios cussed them out. Nice guy.

10. TIGER WOODS. I faintly remember him being a pretty fair golfer. I've won as many majors as he has the last eight years.

9. CHRIS SALE. Flipped out not because the crappy White Sox became laughingstocks in Cubbieland but because he didn't want to wear an alternate jersey the team was promoting. Apparently oblivious to the fact that such promotions help pay ballplayers' astronomical salaries, Sale went comically ballistic, cutting uniforms to shreds in the clubhouse. It probably was the first step in Sale's eventual departure from the team. Hmmm ... maybe he knew exactly what he was doing all along.

8. COLIN KAEPERNICK. I have no problem with him declining to stand during the national anthem as a protest against police violence against blacks. (Nor do I have a problem with those who dislike him for it.) But when Kaepernick wears socks depicting cops as pigs, when he says something idiotic like Trump and Hillary are equally racist and when he decides to not even vote ... well, he undermines his own cause.

7. TONY ROMO. The Cowboys finally seem ready to contend for the Super Bowl, and their snakebit QB - injured yet again - gets "Wally Pipped" by Dak Prescott. Romo is healthy enough to play now but can't get his job back. The classy Romo has said Prescott should stay in the lineup, so this Turkey mention is more about his doggone bad luck.

6. RYAN LOCHTE. First, he swam in Rio as if he had an anchor tied around his neck. Then he lied about being robbed at gunpoint. Then he came back to America after the Olympics and staged a pathetic apology tour. I'm not sure what's worse, athletes who dope, or dopey athletes.

5. BRIAN KELLY. It isn't easy to make Notre Dame football completely irrelevant, so Kelly deserves special congratulations for that. Oh, and the team just had to forfeit 21 wins for academic malfeasance under his watch. Predictably, he says he had no knowledge of the situation. Either he is lying or he is ignorant; neither speaks highly of the man in charge. Touchdown Jesus is mortified.

4. CAM NEWTON. The year started great, as the NFL MVP passed and ran and dabbed the Panthers into Super Bowl 50. Unfortunately, there was nowhere to go but down. Getting little help from his teammates, he didn't play especially well in the big game, and he deserved the grief he caught for not even trying to recover a late fumble that sealed Carolina's fate. He then demonstrated how not to conduct a post-game press conference. This season, he has been only OK and the Panthers likely will miss the playoffs. He also got himself concussed when a defensive player blasted him at the goal line after Cam slowed down instead of simply running into the end zone. I'm a Panthers fan - and a Cam fan - so I hope this was just one of those years and he'll come back strong in 2017.

3. HOPE SOLO. The U.S. soccer goalie gave new meaning to "poor sportsmanship" - and to "Ugly American" - when she reacted to an Olympic quarterfinal loss to Sweden by calling the Swedes a bunch of cowards. What got Solo so perturbed? Did the Swedes play dirty? Did they call U.S. players names? Did they spike the U.S. team's Gatorade? No ... they had the temerity to employ a slow-down strategy that helped them win in a shootout. Of course, the U.S. could have won the shootout had their goalkeeper made more saves ... but it's easier to lash out than to look in the mirror.

2. DRAYMOND GREEN. Who knew that the statistic that would have the biggest bearing on the NBA Finals would be not points or assists or rebounds or turnovers but crotch shots? Green, one of the Golden State Warriors' best players, turns out to also be one of basketball's dirtiest. He started kicking opponents in their man-zones earlier in the postseason and kept it up in the Finals. Finally, when Green changed things up a bit by using his hand to swat LeBron during Game 4, NBA commissioner Adam Silver had little choice but to suspend Green for Game 5. The Warriors had a 3-1 series lead but lost without Green. He then played poorly in Game 6 as the Cavs won again, setting the stage for Cleveland's remarkable, entertaining and historic win in Game 7. For Draymond Green, that must have been quite a kick in the, um, teeth.

And now, friends and fans, the 2016 Turkey of the Year ...


What? Am I suddenly making this a political "award." Well, only kind-of.

McCrory almost did the impossible. In a state that decisively elected Trump and pretty much every other Republican on the ballot, McCrory seems to have managed to lose his job as governor. (I say "seems to" because a recount appears to be in the offing, but the odds against him winning remain very long.)

What's especially interesting is that North Carolina has created jobs during McCrory's tenure and even has a budget surplus. The state is growing, as newcomers pour in. Formerly a popular Charlotte mayor, he won easily in 2012, getting millions of votes from Democrats. As the incumbent, he should have cruised to victory - and if there had been any doubt, he could have ridden the coattails of Trump, whom he supported vocally. Instead, he trails Democrat Roy Cooper, the attorney general, by about 8,000 votes.

How did this happen?

There might have been a few reasons. He is perceived by many Republicans as too moderate and by most Democrats as exceedingly right-wing. He is seen as a feckless leader, bullied frequently by legislators from his own party. He refused to take a stand against toll roads that will cost North Carolina commuters dearly. But perhaps the overriding factor was a piece of legislation called House Bill 2.

HB2 - or Hate Bill 2, as detractors call it - strips antidiscrimination protections away from LGBT residents. It prevents counties, cities and towns from raising the minimum wage. And, most famously, it mandates that transgender people use bathrooms that correspond with the gender on their birth certificates.

Almost immediately, corporations scrapped plans to bring jobs to North Carolina. Bruce Springsteen and other high-profile entertainers canceled concerts. Large groups moved their conventions to other states.

And - here's where the sports comes in - those in charge of professional and college leagues expressed serious doubts about whether they wanted to hold major events here. The NBA gave N.C. leaders a few months to try to rectify the situation, but when the state refused to back down, the league pulled the 2017 All-Star Game out of Charlotte.

The ACC followed, taking its championship football game out of Charlotte. Greensboro was supposed to host two NCAA basketball tournament rounds - but not any more. Numerous other college sporting events pulled up stakes to go elsewhere.

In addition to being embarrassing, all of that activity is costing North Carolina hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity. McCrory and his people keep trying to downplay the losses and to blame those who are moving the events. The soon-to-be-ex-governor does everything but take responsibility for his own mess.

HB2 was rushed into law during a one-day special session and signed within minutes by McCrory, who since has admitted that he didn't know some of what was in it. McCrory has defended it as a common-sense law that protects women and little girls from sexual predators. This despite the fact that there have been zero instances of transgender people committing deviant crimes in the hundreds of cities that allow them to use the bathrooms of their choice.

Besides being pretty much unenforceable, the law actually requires transgender men - who look like men, act like men and might even have facial hair (think Chaz Bono) - to use the ladies room. Why? Their birth certificates say they are female, so they have to pee in stalls next to the little girls McCrory purports to protect.

Oh, and McCrory supported Trump, who has bragged about going into locker rooms at beauty pageants, many of which involved teenage girls. If only HB2 had banned Agent Orange!

It is so much hypocrisy, all in the name of hate and exclusion. It has cost North Carolina the NBA All-Star Game, thousands of jobs and considerable humiliation. And now it apparently has cost McCrory his governorship.

Channeling his inner Hope Solo, he is refusing to concede. Channeling his inner Trump, he is alleging voter fraud despite there being no evidence that wide-spread fraud cost him the election. But the more votes that are being counted - all by Republican county election boards - the further behind McCrory is falling in the race. Classic.

It's a performance well deserving of the highest honor in the land, The Baldest Truth's Turkey of the Year.

Friday, November 11, 2016

A bald take about Trump's victory ... and a search for the bright side (such as: No More Clintons!)

The Bald Truth

Hillary Clinton lost the presidency because she was a horribly flawed candidate and because she couldn't energize enough minorities and women to vote for her.

She lost because she made some terrible mistakes - if they even were "mistakes" - with her infamous email server. 

She lost because America is sick of the Clintons and the rest of the political establishment. 

She lost because the vast majority of Americans considered her untrustworthy and unlikable.

The Balder Truth

Donald Trump won because Americans wanted change for change sake.  

He won because a large swath of America is uneducated, gullible and desperate.

He won because he did a brilliant job of appealing to the "deplorables" ... as well as plenty of non-deplorables who simply were tired of the status quo. Many good people voted for him, but they are naive to think he is going to bring back jobs in the steel mills and garment plants; the man's own clothing label is from far-flung destinations. They are naive to think he gives a rat's rump about them; he has spent decades stiffing the Average Joes who have worked for him, attended his "university" or thrown craps at his now-defunct casinos.

He won because he was right about the election being rigged; he was just wrong about the "rig-ee." The combination of the Russian hacks being leaked through Wikileaks and Comey's outrageously awful handling of the email situation -- all in the campaign's final two weeks -- made things very difficult for Clinton. Of course, those situations wouldn't have existed had Clinton not committed her multiple faux pas. 

He won -- thrilling the KKK, the alt-right and the millions of others who want to Make America White Again -- because rampant, overt racism is very much alive in the Land of the Free. 

Think about our president-elect. In his very first hour as a candidate, he cast Mexicans as rapists and drug-dealers. The leader of the Republican Party, Paul Ryan, said Trump's comments about a Mexican judge represented "the textbook definition of racism." To cement this, Trump hired an avowed bigot as his campaign CEO. And now Ryan has become an enthusiastic supporter.

And that's just the start. Agent Orange is an admitted sexist, an admitted sexual abuser, an admitted pervert who bragged about being able to watch 15-year-old Teen USA contestants in various states of undress. 

Can you imagine if Barack Obama boasted about being so famous that he could grab women by their hoo-has and kiss them against their will? It would have been Superfreakin' Blackageddon!

Trump has almost no knowledge of anything beyond our borders and little intellectual curiosity. He brazenly refused to show his tax returns. PolitiFact said that more than 70% of what he said during the campaign was either "mostly false," "false" or "pants on fire." He wants to spread nukes around the world and has threatened to use them. He has offered few detailed policies. He is exceedingly vindictive; it will be interesting to see how he engages with the many Republicans who repudiated him.

In the end, more than half of America was bamboozled by a racist, sexist, bombastic snake-oil salesman. How embarrassing. We are the laughingstock of the world.

Over the next four (or - yikes! - eight) years, I'll be curious to see if the Dems in Congress have the cajones to wage the kind of stonewalling, obstructing and fillibustering that the Republicans did against just about all of Obama's initiatives. My guess is that the Dems will have neither the will nor the political courage.

Meanwhile ...

Our VP-elect, Mike Pence, doesn't believe in basic science. He's a bible-thumping evolution denier who thinks God actually created the world in six days, and did so only a few thousand years ago: the classic "Jesus rode dinosaurs" guy. Disavows anything to do with climate change. Wants to deny women control of their bodies and futures. In some ways, he is more dangerous than his boss.

The Lowest Bar Ever

Every time Trump went on TV and didn't say something ridiculous, insulting or incendiary, he was hailed as being "presidential." So it was no surprise that his followers went ga-ga over his vanilla declaration of victory, in which he urged us all to do the kumbaya thing as a nation.

Just a few weeks ago, Agent Orange was threatening, if he lost, to repudiate our political process by refusing to accept the results. Now he's all for the peaceful transfer of power. Shocker that he would be for whatever suits him.


Hey, as long as Trump doesn't start World War III because Kim Jong-un tweets an insult about his small hands, this probably won't affect me much personally. I'm white, I'm male, I'm straight, I'm financially comfortable and I've got a Sugar Mama. 

I sure wouldn't be comfortable being anything other than a straight white male under a Trump presidency, though, especially with the GOP retaining control of the Senate and almost surely about to take back the Supreme Court. Trump not only has the title, he has the backing. Scary. Fifty-plus years of work on women's rights, black rights, gay rights, etc., are in jeopardy of being flushed down the toilet.

Hey, I did all I could do - even held my nose and voted for Hillary - so now I'll be a big boy and live with it. It's not as if I have a realistic choice. Despite Roberta's declaration that we're moving to Canada ... we're not. 

We probably won't even leave North Carolina, which since our arrival six short years ago has erased a century of progress to become a haven of backward thought. That my quiet, leafy, suburban neighborhood was thick with Trump signs surprised me at first; it shouldn't have.

So this registered Independent is going to try to look at the few silver linings:

1. I like to think we have seen the last of the Clintons. In 2008, Hillary couldn't beat an unknown rookie whose name sounded like Osama. And eight years later she couldn't beat one of the most unpopular people on the planet -- a guy with even higher "unfavorable" numbers than her's. She's toast, and so is Bubba. When all this started 18-plus months ago, the betting money was on another Clinton-v-Bush showdown. Now, both political families are afterthoughts. 

2. This should open the Dems' eyes to see that they can't just throw any old retread on the presidential ballot and rely upon the minority vote to save them. They need to tap into their pool of younger potential stars -- people that progressive whites, minorities, women, Millennials and others can rally behind. My kids were thrilled to vote for Obama in 2008; they and the rest of their generation (and my generation, too!) need candidates they can get excited about, or they simply won't turn out to vote. It will be interesting to see how the Cory Bookers, the Julian Castros, the Eric Garcettis, etc., progress as political figures.

3. This totally exposed the religious far-right as the hypocrites they are. Has there ever, ever, EVER been a less-Christian, major-party political candidate than Donald Effen Trump? And yet millions upon millions of Christians couldn't wait to make a thrice-married, lecherous, foul-mouthed, uncharitable, money-obsessed, boastful casino operator the most powerful man on the planet. 

Here in North Carolina, the GOP passed the infamous "bathroom law" known as HB2 because, they said, it would prevent perverts from spying on their daughters in locker rooms. And then, for president, they backed a pervert who literally bragged about spying on teenagers in locker rooms. Bravo!

All right. End of screed. I'll hang up and listen now while Agent Orange makes America great again.


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Another fantastic finish for the Sons of Pitches, another super start for my hoopin' Eagles

Election aside (I'll save my musings on that subject for another time), Tuesday was a wonderful day for a beginning and fantastic evening for an ending.

First, my Scholars Academy Eagles girls basketball team won our season opener. Although we lost a lot of offensive weapons from last season's championship squad, I was thrilled to see that our trademark "outwork-'em-to-death" style is back in full force.

We had trouble scoring early, but we were relentless on defense and just wore down our opponent to pull away in the second half. Our captain, 8th-grader Ritika, has been with me for all four of my years at the school. She controlled the game at point guard and, as is her custom, she nailed a dagger of a 3-pointer to break our opponent's back. She got strong support from Deirdre, our talented 6th-grader who matched Ritika's 8 points, and the rest of her aggressive, hard-working teammates.

It's always nice to start off with a win. You can't go undefeated if you lose your first game!

After my Eagles wrapped up the victory in Rock Hill, S.C., I jumped in my car and drove 35 minutes to Charlotte, where our Sons of Pitches won our second Carolina Senior Softball championship.

We tend to like to do things the hard way, and we outdid ourselves this time. Due to injuries, absences and, yes, a little bit of bad, old-fashioned poor play, we only had a 4-6 record in the Fall season. So we entered the postseason tournament as the No. 9 seed -- meaning that if we were going to win the title, we would have to do win four straight games as the visitors.

We opened the tournament with a 19-3 thrashing of the No. 8 seed. We then took out the No. 1 seed, a team that had only lost once, advancing to Tuesday's Final Four.

In the semifinal, we faced the No. 4 seed, Orange Crush. We proceeded to crush the softball all game long and rolled to a 19-13 victory. I had a couple of hits but most notably got a lot of exercise shifting from right-center field to left-center field and back again.

Our regular LCF, Rick, is one of the best outfielders around. Meanwhile, I'm primarily a catcher who has trouble seeing flyballs at night; I was needed for the outfield because one of our players was out of the country and another was hurt. So when there was a right-handed hitter batting, Rick would play LCF and I would play RCF, as he was more likely to get a ball pulled to him. And when there was a left-handed hitter up (or, in a couple of instances, a righty who liked to go to the opposite field), Rick would shift to RCF and I'd move to LCF.

Our inventive manager Pat devised this strategy and, unlike some of his strategies, this one actually worked - ha! I didn't get a single fly all game, Rick got several, and I think it messed with our opponents' minds to see us shifting constantly.

That win put us in the championship game against the same team that had thrashed us a few months earlier in the Spring title game, the Raiders. Unlike Al Davis' old Oakland Raiders, this time these Raiders didn't "just win, baby." Our bats stayed hot, we jumped on them for 3 in the first and 5 in the second (capped by yours truly's "mini-walkoff hit"), and we led from beginning to end in our 18-11 victory.

The final out set off a nice little celebration that put an exclamation point on an amazing two-year run for the SoPs.

In the CSS, teams are re-drafted every other year, so the nucleus of teams are together for two years. That's four seasons: two Spring and two Fall. In that span, we won two championships (2015 Spring, 2016 Fall) and a runner-up trophy (2016 Spring). The only time we didn't at least reach the title game was Fall 2015, when bad weather canceled the entire postseason. Pretty darn impressive, no?

More important than the championships have been the friendships. We have a great group of guys who pick each other up and cheer each other on. We like to clown around, but we're all business once the games start. (Almost all business. When Pat or Bob shout, "Come on guys, one out at a time," my response usually is, "Screw that, I'm getting 2 outs at a time!")

Peter and Eddie, injury-replacement players who joined us most recently, shored up our infield and brought big bats (and great attitudes) to our team. "Good Mike" (as opposed to me, "Bad Mike") and Doug were the injured guys they replaced, yet both showed up for the final four, coached the bases and rooted us on. Bruce was our resident wise-ass, and also a good hitter and outfielder. Gary, our left fielder and cleanup hitter, has a lethal bat to right-center field. Rick is the ultimate table-setter, a leadoff man who got on base nearly every time and had speed to burn (for an old dude). Jerry, our shortstop, never met a pitch he didn't like; he was especially adept at crushing pitches over his head. Bob was the best first baseman in the league and a perfectionist who, um, "gently reminded" everybody else to do things right. O.K. and Mickey, our two most senior seniors, are still going strong even though 70 has been in their rearview mirrors for quite a few years. Wayne was a good clutch hitter who, importantly, was reliable when it came to going out for a beer. Pat was our No. 3 hitter who pitched superbly in the playoffs after excelling at other positions during the season. And I was the keep-it-loose guy with the big mouth who had a few decent moments at the plate (too few) and tried not to screw up too often in the field.

This was my third season with O.K. and Wayne, and my fourth with Good Mike and Bob, and I've been lucky to be around them for all these years.

And Pat ... we entered the league at the same time, all the way back in 2012, and were thrown together on a team of misfits. We've been together ever since, for five seasons, as he kept trading for me after he became a manager. He loves telling stories about how he traded a blind guy for me -- or was it a double amputee or a dead guy? I'm pretty sure he just kept bringing me along because he wanted to make sure he had a teammate who would be willing to grab a beer after games. As much as I (and many of our teammates) like to kid Pat, he's been a great manager and a true amico.

Lots of teams talk about camaraderie, chemistry and other hard-to-quantify intangibles, but it really, truly has been the case for this group. I've been involved with a lot of teams in a lot of sports, as a player, a coach, a parent, a writer, etc., and this one has been extra special.

Here's to you, Sons of Pitches: great champions, great guys, great friends.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Cubbies bring The Baldest One back

Yeah, yeah ... it's been forever since I posted here. Hey, I've been busy as heck. Coaching basketball again (we begin defense of our conference title next week), umpiring several days a week, writing for actual money for Seeking Alpha, golfing again (still mediocre at best), losing sleep as Hillary loses her lead in the polls, etc., etc., etc.

All it took was the Cubbies to win the World Series to get me going again. So here are a baker's dozen observations about that every-108-years occurrence ...

1. The Cubs were the best team all season, and it really wasn't very close. They were built beautifully by Theo Epstein, from the front office and manager on down. Very balanced: pitching, hitting, fielding, the whole nine yards. Seemed to have a very good "team personality," too -- guys liked each other, picked each other up when necessary, etc. This should serve them well for many years.

2. Joe Maddon over-manages sometimes, did so quite often during the postseason and really had a pretty crappy Game 7. It reminded me of Tony La Russa's occasional inability to keep his hands off. But, like La Russa, I'll take Maddon every day of the week. It doesn't take a genius to do a double-switch. The most important part of managing is dealing with the egos, and Maddon is wonderful at that.

3. Those who love the Cubs but hate domestic abusers had the perfect scenario in Game 7. Aroldis Chapman sucked so badly he actually was reduced to tears, but the Cubs still won.

4. The Indians had a nice lineup but their bench ... pretty suspect. The best pinch-hitters Terry Francona could come up with were Yan Gomes and Michael Martinez, who, to be charitable, are really bad. Gomes had a particularly terrible at-bat when the Indians had Chapman on the ropes in the 8th inning.

5. As soon as Chapman retired the side 1-2-3 in the ninth, I knew the Cubs were going to win. They had the heart of their lineup coming up in the 10th, and the Indians' staff was gassed. Jason Hayward's speech and some divine force causing a rain delay ... it's fun to talk about stuff like that, but it came down to a tired, good-but-not-great pitcher going against some outstanding hitters.

6. Kyle Schwarber ... now THAT'S a great story. And how fr
eakin' good is Kris Bryant? Yikes! I'll already say that he could retire as the best Cub ever.

7. As I said, I'm no Cubs fan. I really didn't care if they had won or lost. But as with the Cavs, it's nice to see something that never happens, happen. Also, Ben still lives in Chicago and is a huge Cubbie fan, and it's nice to hear my son be so happy.

8. It was an interesting series, and a great Game 7, reminding me of some faves from over the years. The best series I ever saw in person was Twins-Braves '91. That produced several amazing games, including the best meaningful game I ever saw in person - Game 7, the "Jack Morris Game." (I make the "meaningful" distinction because we've all seen a lot of great regular-season games in every sport; it's the great moments that happen when the stakes are the highest that we really remember.)

9. My first major sportswriting assignment was the 1982 ALCS (Brewers-Angels) and World Series (Brewers-Cardinals), so those have special personal meaning for to me.

10. The most incredible half-hour of sports that I have ever witnessed personally came in the 2003 NLCS, Game 6, 8th inning. Never had seen anything like it and almost surely never will again.

11. Otherwise, I've seen so many great World Series games on TV that it's hard to rank them. Certainly, the Carlton Fisk game in '75 was memorable. Diamondbacks over Yankees in 2001. So, so, so many others. Old-timers will say the "Mazeroski game" in 1960 - when Bill Mazeroski's 9th-inning homer gave the Pirates a huge upset victory over the Yankees - was the greatest ever. That actually took place the day I was born, Oct. 13, 1960, and I have a cool baseball card commemorating that game with the date highlighted.

12. If you're truly a long-suffering Cubbie fan who stuck by the Lovable Losers through thin and thinner, I'm happy for you. If you're one of the zillions of Cubbie-come-latelies who glommed onto this team this season ... meh.

13. Two years ago, if you had asked me if the Cubs could win the 2016 World Series, I would have responded:

"Yeah, sure. And Donald Trump can win the effen White House."

That's all for this edition of The Baldest Truth, folks. See you again in 2124!