Thursday, September 29, 2005

Sox Win!

They tried to blow it for a while, but a big weekend against the Twins and a poorly-timed collapse by Cleveland leave the Sox as the AL Central champs. Now they can rest up and wait to see who they'll take on in the playoffs.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Now that's proactive

From WGN Radio host Steve Cochran (paraphrased to the best of my memory):

I'm glad to see that President Bush is being so proactive as Hurricane Rita approaches landfall. He's so prepared that he's already taking the blame for the federal government's slow and ineffective response.

Rita impact on sports schedule

Loiusiana has been hit by another hurricane and it has had an impact on the sports schedule. Mostly college football has been impacted since Rita missed the major metropolitan area of Houston.

College football games impacted (that I know of):
Texas St @ Texas A&M (played on Thursday, two days early)
Southern Miss @ Houston (rescheduled to weekend of Nov 12)
SMU @ Houston (originally Nov 12, now Nov 19)
Navy @ Rice (rescheduled to Oct 22)
Tennessee @ LSU (rescheduled to Monday)
Missouri St @ Sam Houston (cancelled)
NW Oklahoma St @ McNeese St (cancelled)
Western Carolina @ Nicholls St (cancelled)
Albany St @ Southern (cancelled)
Texas Southern @ Northwestern St (cancelled)

This is the second cancellation each for Nicholls St, McNeese St and Southern. For McNeese, it's the second time their home opener has been cancelled. McNeese is in Lake Charles, LA, which is very near the area where Rita made landfall.

The Tennessee-LSU game in Baton Rouge has to be considered in doubt even for Monday. Baton Rouge has already received over 7" of rain from Rita with more expected over the weekend as the hurricane moves very slowly up the Texas-Louisiana border area.

There is one more leftover piece of sports info from Katrina. The New Orleans Hornets of the NBA will play most of its season in Oklahoma City at the Ford Center. They did schedule six regular season games for Baton Rouge.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Sox broadcast jinxed, bullpen Jenksed

The big series finale with Cleveland Wednesday night was not broadcast in much of Chicago due to satellite problems with Comcast. If you had HDTV, you saw the whole game, because that's on a different transmission system, but cable subscribers didn't join the game until the sixth inning and DirecTV subscribers (like me) missed the entire game.

We didn't miss much. The Sox got pounded 8-0 in front of one of its biggest crowds of the year. Travis Hafner homered twice, and four times total in the series.

Last night, Minnesota came in with Sox-killer Johan Santana, but rookie Brandon McCarthy matched him pitch-for-pitch. The game was 1-1 when both teams turned it over to their bullpens. Both teams blew good scoring chances in the 9th and the Sox blew another in the tenth. New closer Bobby Jenks entered the game in the 11th inning and gave up three runs and the Sox lost 4-1. Jenks has yet to pitch a scoreless inning since being anointed as the closer.

The lead over Cleveland is now a game and a half. The Sox's tragic number is 12, which means they only need to win two of the next seven games to ensure that the season-ending series in Cleveland is relevant. And that's if Cleveland wins out until then.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

A new F-word in Chicago

Federated Department Stores, the owner of Macy's and Bloomingdale's, among many other regional chains, announced yesterday that it would change the name of the Marshall Field's chain based in Chicago to Macy's. The name change doesn't take place until Fall 2006, so they've given themselves time to come to their senses.

Field's is a 153-year-old Chicago institution, whose State St. store is one of the signature buildings in the city. It survived the Chicago Flood and the Great Chicago Fire, but it didn't survive the F-word. You can't grow up in Chicago without being familiar with the Walnut Room and the Christmas decorations in the windows. The building is featured on postcards in Chicago. When it comes to local retail, Field's isn't just the biggest name, but there is no real #2.

Now, F-word comes in and slaps a mediocre New York department store name on it. That's like renaming Wrigley Field "Yankee Stadium," or calling the Hancock Center the "Empire State Building."

Well, I have news for you, F-word. We're very provincial in Chicago. Very. And we hate New York. Killing Field's is bad enough. Naming it Macy's will go over here like New Coke.

F-word will say they're trying to create a national brand. We don't care. We like our local brand. They'll say they can save money using national advertising. We don't care.

Field's has suffered in recent years after Target bought it and tried to turn it into a Wal-Mart, but things had turned around in the last year or so. Now, they've alienated many of the customers they have left, and they're unlikely to win any new ones. Nobody is going to grow up here with memories of Macy's. Not good ones, anyway.

Sox radio

I haven't listened to the White Sox on radio for at least five years. I no longer remember why I didn't like their radio broadcast, but I do remember that I particularly didn't like Ed Farmer. His partner, John Rooney, will be leaving the Sox radio booth after this season.

Last night, I decided to give them another chance, so I caught the 4th inning on the radio. I now remember why I didn't like them. Not only do they have no chemistry together, but they broadcast the game like they're doing golf.

No, that's not fair to golf announcers. Golf announcers show emotion, even if they do it at a whisper. These guys sound like they're reading the tax code. Cleveland led off the top off of the inning with a home run and they mentioned it in passing, as if their conversation about the deductibility of the cost of Sox playoff tickets was more important. It's like listening to Spock call a game.

When the Sox scored in the bottom of the inning on a two out hit, you almost couldn't hear the announcer over the cheers of the relatively sparse crowd. I was beginning to wonder if they had technical difficulties, but if they did, I'd be grateful.

One of the names kicked around to replace Rooney in the booth is Mike North. For those of you not from around here, North is one of those sports radio guys with more mouth than brains. A lot more. That would definitely change the volume, but with an equal and opposite effect on IQ. I wouldn't listen to that either.

I don't like the Sox TV guys much either, but they're a far cry better than the radio guys.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Sox still crashing

The White Sox lead is down to 2.5 games over Cleveland, which is currently in town to face the Sox. The Indians won 7-5 last night after newly anointed closer Bobby Jenks blew his first save. The Sox and Indians face each other five more times. Tonight, tomorrow and three in Cleveland to end the season Sept 30-Oct 2. In between, the Sox host Minnesota and play at Detroit, while Cleveland goes to KC and hosts Tampa.

Come to think of it, that season ending series will probably be irrelevant. The Indians will have clinched by then.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Railcats win!

Congratulations to the Gary Railcats, which won the Northern League championship. The Railcats came back from two games down in the series to win the final three. In the deciding game on Sunday, they defeated Fargo’s Brandon Culp, who was 15-0 on the season entering the game.

Friday, September 16, 2005

All time choke in progress?

The White Sox could join the likes of the 1969 Cubs and the 1964 Phillies on the list of the all-time chokers in baseball history.

On August 1st, the Sox had a 15-game lead in the AL Central. Entering today, the lead over second-place Cleveland is 4.5 games, with six remaining between the teams. The 69 Cubs had an 8.5 game lead on August 1st over the Mets before blowing it. The 64 Phils had a six-game lead with ten to play. That's the all-time choke record, sprint division. The Sox are looking to beat the Cubs (and perhaps others, but none come to mind) in the marathon division.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Saints find homes

The NFL announced yesterday that the Saints would play home games in San Antonio and Baton Rouge. The games against Buffalo, Atlanta and Detroit will be played in the Alamodome in San Antonio, while the games against Miami, Tampa, Carolina and the Bears will be played at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge.

Brown quits

Mike Brown finally quit on Monday as head of FEMA, but he even messed that up. He did it while President Bush was touring Mississippi and Louisiana (again), and as a result, the president was the last to know that he quit. Reporters started questioning Bush about the resignation after his visit and he didn't seem to know about it.

Brown was replaced by R. David Paulison, who had been the head of the US Fire Administration department within FEMA and was head of Emergency Preparedness from 2003-2004.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Chief Justice Burns

Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed that Chief Justice nominee John Roberts looks like Frank Burns from M*A*S*H?

(and they're both from Indiana!)

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Mark or Scott, does it really matter?

I'm watching the Bears game and Dick Stockton keeps calling Washington QB Mark Brunell "Scott Brunell." Even after his partner corrected him, he keeps calling him "Scott." Mark Brunell has been in the league for years. You'd think they'd get his name right.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

It's not just the democrats

The poor federal response to the Katrina disaster has been jumped on by the democrats, as you might expect. But not all of the criticism is coming from them, as the administration (and Fox News) would have you believe.

Ultra-conservative columnist Robert Novak, had this take.

As an aside, Bush lost me about a year or so ago when I read in an interview where was quoted as saying that he did not make mistakes. He was serious. Novak alludes to the dangers of this level of arrogance in his column as well.

Friday, September 09, 2005

You're doing a heck of a job, Brownie. Now get out.

One week ago, President Bush insulted everyone's intelligence by telling FEMA director Mike Brown during a news conference that he was "doing a heck of a job," complete with sycophantic applause in the background. Now Brown's appears to be out of his job.

He was relieved of his duties as director of FEMA's Katrina relief operations and was replaced by Coast Guard Vice Admiral Thad Allen. He was sent back to Washington to pack up his desk.

Just kidding! So far as I know. Director of Homeland Insecurity Michael Chertoff said he was going back to Washington to resume day-to-day administration of FEMA and get ready in case we have another emergency. God help us.

Earlier today, Time magazine reported that Brown exaggerated his experience on his resume, saying he was in charge of emergency management in Edmond, OK as an assistant city manager. In fact, the magazine reported, he was an assistant to the city manager. He was, in effect, a glorified intern with no emergency management responsibilities. The only emergencies he responded to were office coffee shortages.

Most of the political analysts on the three major cable news channels (CNN, Fox News, MSNBC) all equate Brown's removal with the first step of his resignation or firing, which is expected this weekend, when most newsies are watching football and not paying attention. The Fox analyst was particularly harsh, saying "Mike Brown was fired today. We'll never see him again."

For New Orleans, this move came two weeks too late.

Katrina news coverage

I've been watching a lot more of the cable news channels than I usually do, which is not at all, since Katrina hit the Gulf Coast.

CNN has a reputation of being the Democrats channel, and they did not disappoint. Miles O'Brien (is he related to Soledad O'Brien?) was one of the first to really hammer the federal response to the disaster. He also overplayed it, talking about almost nothing else for two days. They have also focused the most on the victims, although all three networks have covered that thoroughly.

I like Wolf Blitzer's Situation Room. I think it plays to his strengths as a reporter an interviewer. However, they have this older guy who sits in a cubbyhole soliciting e-mails on various topics from viewers on the subjects of the day. Then he comes back and reads them. Most of the opinions offered by viewers aren't unique and have no depth. It's a segment the show could do without.

Fox News is considered the Republican channel, and they also lived up to that. They've been among the leaders in discouraging people from playing "The Blame Game" (starring Chuck Woolery on GSN). Have you noticed that those who least like to play "The Blame Game" are usually those with the most to lose? But I digress.

One of the funniest things I've seen was on Fox's Hannity and Colmes the other night. They had on the congressman who represents New Orleans, purportedly to talk about how the levee system had been underfunded for over a generation and the impact that had on this disaster. The little, accountant-looking guy (Colmes, I think) started out on that line of questioning, but before long, the big, linebacker-looking guy (Hannity?) ambushed the congressman, berating him about why the city couldn't have been evacuated sooner since they had five days warning that a category 5 hurricane was coming and why didn't they have a local plan for this and so on.

The congressman didn't really have much to say. He's not the guy in charge of local disaster planning, so the questions weren't really appropriate for him. Also, nobody gets five days warning that a category 5 hurricane is coming. Weather forecasters rarely project five days out where a hurricane is going to go, and when they project even as few as three days out, the range of potential landfall locations is about 500 miles wide. Katrina wasn't a category 5 until the morning before it made landfall, and then was a strong 4 when it did hit.

MSNBC seems to play it straighter. I particularly like Keith Olbermann's Countdown show, where he takes five topics of the day and gives about 10 minutes to each. I always liked his style at ESPN, but he's different here. Less sarcastic, more newsy, but it's still effective. Olbermann doesn't usually editorialize, but he did offer one scathing editorial of the federal response, which I liked in style, even if I didn't entirely agree with it.

Even though the news coverage seems straighter, I find the other hosts harder to watch. Chris Matthews could use a change-up to go with his hardball. Rita Cosby has a hard time keeping her head still, which makes me a little dizzy, and Tucker Carlson looks like my old HS math teach with his goofy bowties.

All in all, the coverage has been pretty good, and it's been interesting to see the different perspectives. If you're going to watch though, I recommend flipping around.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Hall of Fame - foot in mouth category

As if the president doesn't have enough problems...

Barbara Bush on NPR, after a tour of the Astrodome: "Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this is working very well for them."

Latest Katrina sports update

  • James Lee Witt, the former FEMA director who is currently advising Louisiana governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco on recovery efforts, says the Superdome may be too damaged to save and may have to be torn down. The director of the dome calls this mere speculation. If so, it would be at least three years before New Orleans would have a football stadium large enough to house the dome's current tenants (Saints, Tulane). The next largest football stadium in the city is Tad Gormley Stadium in City Park, which holds 26,500.

  • The Saints-Giants game will be played Monday, Sept 19th at 6:30 CT. TV coverage starts on ABC and moves to ESPN2 when the regularly scheduled Monday night game begins.

    No word yet on the rest of the home schedule, but the Saints have expressed a preference to play in Baton Rouge. However, there's no certainty that Tiger Stadium will be able to host LSU this season, let alone another team.

  • Speaking of LSU, they will play Arizona St this weekend in Tempe instead of Baton Rouge.

  • Nicholls St is scheduled to play at Indiana this weekend, but has yet to arrange transportation to Bloomington. They do expect to be able to make the trip and play.

  • Tulane announced the relocation of many of its sports programs yesterday.

    The football team will enroll and play home games at Louisiana Tech in Ruston.

    The men's basketball, women's swimming and diving, volleyball and soccer teams will enroll and play at Texas A&M.

    Baseball and women's basketball will enroll and play at Texas Tech.

    Rice will take in the men's and women's tennis teams.

    SMU will host the men's and women's golf teams.

    The Tulane cross country teams will not run this season.

  • The Nashville Predators of the NHL have offered the partial use of its arena to the Hornets. The Hornets have made no announcements regarding its plans beyond training at the Air Force Academy.

  • The University of New Orleans does not play football, but announced yesterday that its basketball teams will enroll at the University of Texas at Tyler. Those teams may play home games there as well if the Lakefront Arena in New Orleans is not usable by the time the season starts.
  • Friday, September 02, 2005

    Update on sports impacted by Katrina

    The Saints have moved their home opener against the Giants to Giants stadium. The game is schedule for Sunday, Sept 18, but will not be played that day because the Jets have the stadium that day. The Saints and Giants will play either the day before or the day after.

    Oklahoma City has offered the Ford Center to the New Orleans Hornets for the upcoming NBA season. No word yet on whether that offer will be accepted. The Hornets will begin training camp in October in Colorado Springs at the Air Force Academy.

    Tulane announced today that it will not have a fall semester for its students. However, its athletic teams will compete. Where its home games will be played at this point is unknown, and may be announced as they come up.

    The Green Wave is currently being hosted by SMU in Dallas and preparing for a September 17th "home" game with Mississippi St.

    Tulane updates can be found at the athletic department website and at the school emergency website.

    LSU is back at practice for a home game next weekend with Arizona St, but that game may not be played at home. The LSU campus is housing many hurricane evacuees, as is the rest of the city of Baton Rouge, and the idea of bringing in another 90,000 people to the city, even if just for a few hours, may not fly. Expect an announcement on that early next week.

    Nicholls St, which cancelled its game this week at Utah St, has cancelled all athletic events until further notice. The school website only mentions the events scheduled for this weekend as being cancelled for sure, so we can assume that cancellations will be announced as the events arise. The Colonels' football team is scheduled to play at Indiana next week.

    The Sun Belt Conference was affected as well. They are headquartered in New Orleans, but had to evacuate. They are currently set up temporarily at UL-Lafayette.

    It's a gas, gas, gas!

    We decided to make the trip to Central Indiana after all this weekend. On the way, we saw gas prices as low as $2.98 and as high as $3.38. The one that was $3.38 was less than a block away from another station selling at $3.01.

    I hope the gas situation clears itself up soon, or I'll run out of clever headlines for blog entries. No doubt some of you think I already did.

    Utes and Chippewas OK

    Both Utah and Central Michigan won their appeals with the NCAA, so they are allowed to continue to use their hostile and abusive nicknames, which are hostile and abusive only to the NCAA.

    North Dakota (the Fighting Sioux) have also appealed.

    Still no answer to my other questions.

    Thursday, September 01, 2005

    Glad you're ok, now get out!

    Hundreds of people fleeing Hurricane Katrina ended up in hotels in Tallahasse, FL. Now, those evacuees have to evacuate again. That's because the hotels are all booked up this weekend with fans coming in for the Miami-Florida St game on Monday night and the hotels have to honor their reservations.

    You can help

    There are numerous ways that you can help the people suffering the effects of Hurricane Katrina.

    Here is a link to one of those. The American Red Cross is accepting donations through its website, or by phone at 1800-HELP-NOW.

    Follow these links to find other blogs with information on for .