Thursday, June 30, 2005

Um, never mind!

A couple of months ago, the Marquette University board of trustees changed the name of the school's teams from Golden Eagles to simply the Gold. After the Marquette community unanimously panned this decision, the board put it up to a vote of the community, and the winner is:

Golden Eagles.

Back to where they started.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

FIA backs down

FIA found the seven Michelin teams guilty of not having suitable tires (or tyres, if you like the European spelling) for the USGP and wrongfully failing to start the race. They cleared the teams of refusing to race subject to a speed restriction, combining to make a demonstration and failing to inform the stewards of their intention not to start.

FIA decided that Michelin was more at fault than the teams themselves. However, given that, I can't imagine how the teams were not guilty of combining to make a demonstration, since that is clearly what they did, and that's the one thing the teams did that can't be blamed on Michelin. FIA said it had no power to punish Michelin, but will look to pressure the tire maker (rim shot) through its teams.

Any penalties will be decided on September 14th and will likely be financial only.

Michelin offers refunds

Michelin has offered to pay for ticket refunds for the US Grand Prix and buy 20,000 tickets for next year's race, assuming there is one. In the press release, the company continued the public pissing match between itself and FIA by chastising FIA for accusing them of "boycotting" the USGP and for not changing the track to accommodate their faulty equipment. Of course, they didn't put it quite that way.

Meanwhile, FIA is upset because a letter from Michelin to FIA dated June 27 was leaked to the press (although I haven't been able to find it online anywhere). The FIA website has posted a couple of angry faxes to Michelin about this.

Also, the hearing for the seven teams that pulled out of the USGP is today. There are rumblings that the teams could boycott the French GP if they don't feel like they are treated fairly today. Statistically speaking, I'd say there's about a 115% chance they will feel like they are not being treated fairly.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Time to sell my 69 Camaro

I inherited a 1969 Camaro from my grandmother when she died a few years ago. She didn't drive it much (only 60,000 miles), but she didn't care for it very well either. It's got a fair amount of rust on it and a dented fender, but I liked tooling around in it anyway. Now, it's not running.

I had always kind of hoped to fix it up and drive it around short distances, but I lack the time (mostly) and money (for now) to do that, and just keeping it around rotting in my garage is a headache I no longer want. So, it's time to get rid of it.

If it wasn't for the emotional attachment to it, I would have gotten rid of it long ago. I've had plenty of chances. Every week, someone comes to the door asking if it's for sale. Now it is.

Does anyone know how to find out how to price a car like this? Things like the Kelley Blue Book are useless because they only go back 20 years.

This probably won't be as exciting as trying to sell a car once owned by a pope, but I'll let you know how it turns out anyway.

NBA Draft

The NBA Draft is tonight, where we get another lesson on just how different the professional game is than the college game.

The college player of the year, Andrew Bogut of Utah, is a likely first round pick. He’s a 7-footer with a polished game and those guys are pretty rare coming into the draft.

The second pick is likely to be Marvin Williams of North Carolina. Williams is a 6-9 forward with three point range, the ability to handle the ball well enough to create his own shot, and a nose for it around the rim, but never started a game in his one year at UNC. I can’t think of anyone who was strictly a reserve in college getting drafted, let alone drafted this high. However, he’s got great potential and is considered a can’t-miss prospect. He often gets compared to Tracy McGrady.

After that, it’s HS kids, college point guards, and foreigners.

The point guards are Deron Williams of Illinois, Chris Paul of Wake Forest and Raymond Felton of North Carolina. Felton and Paul are better athletes, but Williams is the best at taking care of the ball and running an offense. Paul is probably the best shooter but also the sloppiest with the ball.

Another college big man that will probably go early is Arizona’s Channing Frye. The 6-11 Frye has pretty good skills around the basket, but will need to get stronger to be successful in the NBA.

Whenever a player jumps levels, he often finds himself changing positions as well. Often, guys who are centers in high school are forwards in college, for example. The same kind of jump happens often happens from college to the NBA also. Guys like Sean May, who was a center in college at 6-8, will probably be a power forward in the NBA. Sometimes guys like May see their draft position suffer a little because of the position switch.

As with any draft, there are steals and busts. For me, the guy who is most likely to be a bust is Connecticut’s Charlie Villanueva. Villanueva is a 6-10 power forward who is capable of dominating college games, but too often doesn’t show up. His disappearing act was a primary cause of UConn’s early ouster in the NCAA tournament this year. The old adage is that you can’t teach size, but among the things you can teach, the toughest is work ethic, and Villanueva is sorely lacking there.

I think one of the biggest steals will be Luther Head of Illinois. He’s going to drop in the draft some because he’s a little small for a shooting guard, and he’s not really a pure point guard either. He has some point guard skills, but he didn’t play the position at Illinois. If he finds a home at one position or the other in the NBA, he has a chance to have a pretty good career in the league.

One thing kind of unique to the NBA draft is that a lot of guys come out of college early, and some go into the draft right out of high school. Invariably, some of those players made a mistake. Among the college players likely to get his feelings hurt tonight is Brandon Bass of LSU. Bass has Sean May’s body, but isn’t as developed. Also, there are a lot of guys like him in this draft. Another year or two of college ball would have really suited him well. Bass is likely to end up at the end of someone’s bench or overseas.

This will also be the last draft where HS players can be picked. The new collective bargaining agreement beginning next year will set an age limit of 19 and players also have to be at least one year beyond their HS graduation. That means the Greg Odens of the world were born one year too late.

Oden will go to Ohio St, a place he doesn’t want to be, because the NBA says he can’t play there. He’ll stay for one year and move on. Ohio St hopes that one year is enough to bring them some glory. There are many who complain that the college game has suffered for not having all the high school stars that never played, but if all we’re going to get is one year of from these guys, I fail to see how that makes the college game better.

If the college game suffers from players leaving early, it’s from those leaving early (or never coming at all) that are clearly not ready for the NBA. Still, the player suffers more than the game does.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

All Star vote

It's about time to pick the rosters for the MLB All-Star game. Voting ends on June 30 and the rosters will be picked shortly thereafter. Since the game is in Detroit this year, the teams will use a DH.

If I were the manager, here's the teams I would choose. Note, each team must be represented on the roster. If that wasn't in the rules, Colorado, Oakland, Kansas City and Tampa Bay wouldn't have players on the team. However, Colorado's best player this year has been Clint Barmes, who has all-star numbers, but is out with an injury.

NL Starters

1. Felix Lopez, SS, CIN
2. Bobby Abreu, CF, PHL
3. Derrek Lee, 1B, CHC
4. Albert Pujols, DH, STL
5. Miguel Cabrera, LF, FLA
6. Aramis Ramirez, 3B, CHC
7. Jose Guillen, RF, WAS
8. Chase Utley, 2B, PHL
9. Ramon Hernandez, C, SD
SP. Dontrelle Willis, FLA

NL Reserves

C - Paul LoDuca, FLA
IF - Luis Castillo, FLA; Jeff Kent, LA; Rob Mackowiak, PIT; Nick Johnson, WAS
OF - Andruw Jones, ATL; Preston Wilson, COL; Carlos Lee, MIL; Jason Bay, PIT; Moises Alou, SF
P - John Smoltz, ATL; Brandon Webb, AZ; Roger Clemens, Roy Oswalt, HOU; Pedro Martinez, NYM; Billy Wagner, PHL; Jake Peavy, SD; Chris Carpenter, Jason Isringhausen, Matt Morris, STL; Chad Cordero, Livan Hernandez, WAS

AL Starters

1. Brian Roberts, 2B, BAL
2. Johnny Damon, CF, BOS
3. Miguel Tejada, SS, BAL
4. Alex Rodriguez, 3B, NYY
5. Vladimir Guerrero, RF, ANG
6. David Ortiz, DH, BOS
7. Gary Sheffield, LF, NYY
8. Mark Teixeira, 1B, TEX
9. Jason Varitek, C, BOS
SP. Mark Buehrle, CHW

AL Reserves

C - Ivan Rodriguez, DET; Jorge Posada, NYY
IF - Brandon Inge, DET; Mike Sweeney, KC; Derek Jeter, NYY; Jorge Cantu, TB; Michael Young, TEX
OF - Manny Ramirez, BOS; Scott Posednik, CHW; Ichiro Suzuki, SEA
P - Bartolo Colon, ANG; BJ Ryan, BAL; Matt Clement, BOS; Jon Garland, Dustin Hermanson, CHW; Cliff Lee, Bob Wickman, CLE; Johan Santana, MIN; Mariano Rivera, NYY; Danny Haren, OAK; Kenny Rogers, TEX; Roy Halladay, TOR

Another Corey solo

A great pitching duel between two Cubs 1st round draft choices (Mark Prior and the White Sox Jon Garland) went five shutout innings before Corey Patterson hit his 11th HR of the year in the top of the sixth. All 11 of Patterson's homers this year have been solo shots. That's got to be a record.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Kenny Harris comes home

A miracle has occurred, and Valparaiso F Kenny Harris returned home last week after nearly dying during a workout at the school in April. The Times of NW Indiana reports the details.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

F1 Disaster

For years, Formula One racing has been trying to win the hearts of American fans. A while back, there was a race in the US, but it was short-lived. The closest race most years has been the Canadian Grand Prix.

A few years ago, they started one at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. F1 races are all road courses, as opposed to the oval tracks that dominate both NASCAR and Indy Car racing, so IMS had to be modified to accommodate the series. The F1 track twists and turns through the infield, enters the oval just before turn 2, goes through turn 1 (the F1 race runs clockwise, the opposite direction of the Indy 500), and re-enters the infield at the end of the main straightaway, just short of turn 4. The stretch on the oval is the fastest in the entire F1 series because of the banked turn and because no other track has an open stretch anything near that long.

On Friday, Ralf Schumacher crashed in practice when one of his tires failed. Schumacher's teammate, Ricardo Zonta, also crashed because of a tire failure. Michelin tried to determine why the tire failed, and when it couldn't, warned teams not to race on them. Michelin asked F1 to install an obstacle in turn 1 to slow the cars down, but F1 said no. F1 also does not allow cars to change tires after qualifying, so, to make a long story short, all the teams using Michelin tires decided not to race.

However, they didn't just not show up on race morning. They made a big spectacle of deciding to withdraw. All 20 cars ran the warm up laps, and then the 14 cars on Michelin tires pulled off just before the start. The drivers got out of their cars while the remaining six started (and finished) the race.

Fans were in shock. Michael Schumacher, the greatest driver in the world, won the race, but was somewhat embarrassed to have won that way. In fact, everyone on both sides who were quoted a day later were embarrassed. Fans threw things on the track. Many demanded refunds. The podium ceremony was cancelled. And the real damage is that any chance F1 has of ever being popular in America has been killed.

F1 and IMS have not made any decisions regarding refunds. Also, IMS is considering its options as to whether or not to ask for a refund of its sanctioning fee from F1 and whether or not F1 will race again at Indianapolis.

FIA and Michelin are now in a pissing match that Michelin cannot win. FIA is correctly blaming the company for bringing inferior equipment to Indy. Michelin tried to get the rules and/or the track changed so that its teams could compete. That would be ridiculous, of course. You don't change rules the day before the race, and you certainly don't change the track. Michelin said its teams could not run safely on its tires. FIA pointed out that the three teams running Bridgestone tires were fine and that it is not responsible for making sure each team has suitable equipment. It's not like the track changed this week. It's the same one they've used at Indy for all five years of this race.

The exchange of letters between F1 and Michelin the weekend of the race is posted on the FIA website. There are links to further correspondence as well. FIA is the F1 governing body.

There will be a hearing in Paris on June 29th to determine what penalties, if any, the Michelin teams face for their actions at Indianapolis.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Happy Father's Day!

We have been working hard the last couple of weeks trying to get our older boys (ages 8 and 6) to become swimmers. Actually, it's my wife who has been doing most of the work. She's a bit of a fish, but I'm pretty much a land-lubber.

The eight-year-old does pretty well in his swim lessons, but has trouble behaving in the class. The six-year-old is capable of doing just as well (he has done so in the past), but has suddenly become afraid to try. During swim lessons, he was just clinging to the teacher and wouldn't do anything without her holding him securely.

After about a week of that, my wife had enough. She told them we would take them to see Star Wars III if #1 son would behave and if #2 son would face his fears. We also got a season pass for the Munster pool and my wife took the boys swimming every day so she could work with #2 on getting over his fears.

That worked very well, although swimming consumed our schedule this week. Monday-Thursday was pretty much the same: wake up, eat breakfast, swim, come home, eat linner, swim lessons, eat snack, bed. That's why I haven't written all week.

Friday, we went to see Revenge of the Sith. It was a great movie, but I'm a big Star Wars fan, so my standard may not be as high as others might be. In particular, it was great to see very little and hear none of Jar Jar Binks.

My only complaint is that I wish Hayden Christensen could act. Anakin Skywalker is a tortured soul and Christensen doesn't show us that. Anakin turns evil and Christensen doesn't really show us that either. The only facial expression he gets right in the whole movie is the one we see on the posters, when he looks back over his shoulder and his eyes are yellow with rage.

Jack Nicholson would have been a great in the role of Anakin, but he's 40-50 years too old. I'm not sure who is out there now that would be as good a fit, but certainly Christensen is not.

Still, he doesn't ruin it for me. He's just a distraction. It's still a great story and the other actors carry him.

At the theater this weekend, they were giving fathers who go to see this movie a little poster with Darth Vader on it and the caption "Who's Your Daddy?" I'll find a suitable spot to hang that.

Now, I have to find time to see Batman Begins.

Hope all you fathers have a great day!

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Too much to say...

but not enough time. With the end/beginning of school, swimming, baseball and technical problems, I haven't had much of a chance to write. I hope to write more and catch up a bit shortly. At least most of the technical problems are solved.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Happy Flag Day!

It's Flag Day today, so fly 'em if you got 'em.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

In case you care

Mike Tyson fought another tomato can, lost his cool, lost the fight, and announced his retirement.

We can only hope he means it.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Cubs vs Red Sox

People are moistening their drawers with excitement around here at the first meeting of the Cubs and Red Sox since the 1918 World Series, which was the last time the Red Sox won the Series before last season. All everyone writes about is how cursed these teams are, but that angle is lost on me. I guess I just don't believe in curses. I think it's exciting to have the defending champs in town, but the whole idea that these are the two most cursed franchises in sports is hooey.

I'll be curious to see how the Red Sox like playing at Wrigley, which is the only baseball cathedral left besides Fenway. Todd Walker of the Cubs, formerly of the Red Sox, gives a slight edge to Wrigley. I would expect Red Sox pitcher Matt Clement, formerly of the Cubs, to go with Fenway. Unfortunately, the rotation won't allow Clement to face his old mates.

The real reason this is a big series has more to do with the present than with the history of these teams. Boston is 3 games behind Baltimore in the East and 3.5 games behind Minnesota in the wild card chase. The Cubs are so far back in the division that the only thing to talk about with them is the wild card, which they trail the Phillies by half a game. It's too early to count either of these teams out of anything (even though I wrote the Cubs' obituary earlier this year).

Thursday, June 09, 2005


I've spent most of the last week working on a garden for my boys' summer project. They are six and eight, so they're not quite old enough to use the roto-tiller yet. As a result, I haven't had much time and energy to write, so here are a few updates.

  • The Marquette community will choose between Golden Eagles and Hilltoppers for its team nicknames for next year. The voting ends June 24th and the result is expected to be announced July 1st.

  • The pope's car is finally back in Illinois awaiting a hearing over who actually owns it.

  • I watch very little TV unless there is a ball involved, but one of the shows I really like is The Dead Zone on USA, and a new season starts up this Sunday night.

  • Baseball's draft was Tuesday. It is easily the least exciting draft of the major sports because nobody drafted on Tuesday is expected to be any sort of immediate help to the major league club. Anybody who makes it to the big leagues in the next two years will have moved fast.

    One semi-interesting note is that the Cubs' first round pick, some high school pitcher from Utah, signed right away, even though his agent is the notorious Scott Boras. Boras' reputation for unmitigated unreasonableness (is that a word?) is such that half the teams in baseball won't take his clients, so to get one of his guys signed within hours of the draft instead of months is newsworthy.
  • Saturday, June 04, 2005

    Friday, June 03, 2005

    A fine example

    San Francisco 49ers PR geek Kirk Reynolds wanted to teach the players how to deal with the media. Specifically, he wanted to show them how getting into a bad situation would hurt themselves and the team.

    So he made a video in which he put himself in a lot of those situations, which included racist jokes, topless models and lesbian soft-porn. He also impersonated the mayor of San Francisco in some of those situations.

    As a result, he's been fired, so hopefully the players have learned from his example.

    Now, if they can only figure out how to win football games again.

    Royals sweep Yankees

    The Kansas City Royals, who can't find their way around the bases without a map, swept the Yankees in a three-game series this week. It's only the third time in the Yankees history that they have suffered a sweep at the hands of the worst team in baseball.

    The Yankees had gotten off to a horrible start and were even in last place for a while, but it looked like things had turned around with a ten-game winning streak last month. However, now they've lost five in a row and actually have a worse record than the Cubs.

    Speaking of the Cubs, they are still looking for their first loss since Mark Prior took a liner off the elbow. But because they are guys, they aren't having much luck finding it. Mostly, they stand around in the middle of the locker room, looking around, and asking each other, "Have you seen that loss anywhere?"

    Derrek Lee, who was off to a fast start anyway, is white hot. He has eight straight hits and is 11 for his last 13. Almost every good thing the Cubs have done this year is because of Lee.

    The current seven-game streak has the Cubs four games above .500, but they are still 5.5 games back of the Cards.

    The vultures are circling

    When I was watching the Indy 500, I wondered to myself how long it would take for rumors to start about Danica Patrick leaving for another series (NASCAR or F-1). The answer was four days. The Chicago Tribune's Ed Hinton wrote a column yesterday suggesting that she should.

    It's hard to argue against his points, which are that there is more money and safety in the other circuits. The money could change eventually, especially if she sticks with IRL and is successful. However, the safety will likely never change. NASCARs are bigger, stronger, and covered. They also go about 30 mph slower than Indy cars. You can bump and grind in NASCAR, but that can be fatal in an Indy Car. F-1 cars are pretty similar to Indy cars in structure, but rarely reach the same speeds because the series is all road courses. There aren't many straightaways where the cars can approach Indy car speeds, except perhaps at Indy itself.

    Still, I hope she sticks it out. I like the IRL and it would be good for NASCAR to have a little competition.

    Thursday, June 02, 2005

    It's just a game

    A man is being held without bond in the shooting death of another man at a pickup basketball game. The victim's offense? He was a ball hog.

    Here's the CBS 2 Chicago story.

    Pope car rolling back to Illinois

    The used car salesman in Indiana who had been determined to sell the 1975 Ford Escort once owned by Pope John Paul II this weekend at an auction in Las Vegas has put those plans on hold. Instead, as a court in Kane County, IL rules last week, the car will be returned to Illinois until ownership can be determined.

    The Ft. Wayne Journal Gazette has the story, which includes a highly over-reactive and defensive quote from the son in this family fight. The son, Jim Rich, is quoted as saying, "The whole world thinks something bad about me when I’m totally innocent, and this is gonna take a million years to get repaired."

    This is the kind of thing I would expect my eight-year-old to say. You can kind of imagine him sticking his thumb in his mouth right after he said it.

    The funny thing is, I've felt all along that the news stories have played him as a pretty sympathetic character. He's been portrayed as a down-on-his-luck guy who has a chance at some big money, but his rich dad is coming down on him and trying to take that away. Reading between the lines, this is a sad story of a family relationship gone sour, and nobody is a winner when that happens.

    Really, if anyone comes out looking bad in this whole mess so far, it's the auctioneer, Dean Kruse, who thumbed his nose at the Illinois court order until it became apparent it was going to get shoved down his throat.

    There's another hearing on Friday in Illinois. Maybe they'll decide then who really owns this car.

    Wednesday, June 01, 2005

    Baseball notes

  • Apparently, the Cubs needed just one more significant injury to turn it's miserable season around. Beginning with the day that Mark Prior took a liner off his elbow, sidelining him for a couple of months, the Cubs are undefeated. They've won five in a row and are back to two games above .500

  • Frank Thomas finally joined the White Sox on Monday after a long injury rehab and went out of the game early with a new injury. That's nothing compared to Cleveland's Juan Gonzalez. Juan Gone has missed most of the last three years with various injuries, and hurt himself the first time he swung the bat this season. He injured his hamstring and is making yet another trip to the DL.

  • Buddy Bell wanted to return to managing in the worst possible way, and he has, taking over the Kansas City Royals. The Royals have the worst record in baseball at 14-37.