Thursday, August 28, 2008

Don't let the door hit you on the way out, Jay

Acerbic columnist Jay Mariotti abruptly quit the Chicago Sun Times on Monday after returning from Beijing. Just last summer, he signed a big contract extension to stay at the Sun Times, but after covering the Olympics, he decided newspapers are dinosaurs and to try to find his way on the web.

You can tell from this piece in today's S-T that he's missed by almost no one. I haven't read him for years, for many of the reasons detailed in the piece, so I don't miss him either.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

OIympic undies in a bunch

At the Olympics, the coach of the New Zealand men's field hockey team (I didn't know men played field hockey) was ejected from a game because his team's underwear was the wrong color.

As my hero, Dave Barry, likes to say, I am not making this up.

I'm sure NBC will be all over this story in prime time tonight.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Bears pick Orton, ND moves back to Indiana

The Bears finally cut the cord with Rex Grossman and turned the offense over to former Boiler Kyle Orton. After watching the game with Seattle the other day, Rex better stay ready. There's a good chance Orton is going to get creamed.

The offensieve line couldn't block anything and wouldn't recognize a blitz in a police lineup. If that doesn't get fixed, the QB won't matter.

In other Chicago news, the Tribune has finally recognized that Notre Dame is in Indiana. Last week, I wrote about how their list of athletes with "Illinois connections" included someone whose only connection was that she attended ND. It took them a week, but she finally dropped off the list.

Athletic, yes, but not a sport

I've always felt that one of the definitions of a sport is something where you can tell who won. Gymnastics and figure skating, which rely on judges to tell you who won, are more like athletic pageants than sports. Diving fits into that as well.

We saw another example again tonight. Nastia Liukin of the US appeared to have done a little better than He Kexin of China, but the judges ruled them tied, and He won on a tiebreaker. Another Chinese gymnast finished third, but she might have been better than the other two. Who can tell? Certainly not me, and even the announcers (who have a huge US bias to be sure) struggled with it.

He, who was below the minimum age required to compete in the Olympics before she miraculously produced a passport that said otherwise, had a worse low score that counted than Liukin did. That was the tiebreaker.

Another US-China matchup was pretty spirited as well. Today's 9-1 win for the US baseball team over China got a little intense. Five, or perhaps six (news reports conflicted), US batters were hit by pitches. Two US runners collided with Chinese catchers. One of those catchers, Wang Wei, got knocked out of the game in the 5th. Backup Yang Yang got steamrolled in the sixth, which made China's manager, Jim Lefebvre (the former Cubs manager) pretty irate. He argued the US runner's play was unnecessary and that he should have been kicked out of the game. Lefebvre was launched instead. The first batter for the US in the next inning, Matt LaPorta, was beaned and knocked out of the game. Maybe the next one too. That got the Chinese pitcher tossed along with backup manager Steve Ontiveros (the former MLB pitcher, not the former Cubs 3B).

The final act of sportsmanship came when Yang yanged one over the left field fence in the 9th for the only Chinese run. He ran the bases with his arm in the air in celebration like he hit a 10-run homer.

In the bigs, the next guy goes down and pretty much everyone in uniform gets ejected. Here, the teams just shook hands after the game.

Gotta love the Olympic spirit!

Monday, August 11, 2008

The University of Chicago at South Bend

One of my pet peeves about the Chicago Tribune sports section, and Chicago sports media in general, is that they treat the University of Notre Dame like it's the University of Chicago at South Bend. I understand that the school has a large fan base here, but I have always thought that it is a bit silly for the Irish to get better coverage than the University of Illinois. But, they do.

South Bend, by the way, is halfway to Ohio from Chicago. Milwaukee is closer to downtown Chicago than South Bend.

The most recent (and blatant) example of the geographic confusion is in the agate type on the Olympics page. There, you'll find a list of three dozen athletes with Illinois connections. There are people who grew up in Illinois, went to college in Illinois, or play professionally here. They might not even represent the US in the games, like Andres Nocioni of the Bulls, who plays for Argentina, but they all have a connection to the state, except one.

Near the bottom of the list is women's sabre gold medalist Mariel Zagunis. Her "Illinois" connection - she attended Notre Dame.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Favre and other frustrations

  • The Brett Favre Saga goes on unabated. The Packers have done everything they can to make Brett feel unwelcome ever since he suggested he might unretire, but Brett didn't take the hint until yesterday. Now, he says, "they don't want me back." Duh.

    I can't think of any similar case where a legendary player for a team was so actively shunned. Maybe Bobby Hull with the Blackhawks back in the day.

    It's probably just as well he's gone, although as a Bears fan, any distraction for the Packers is fine with me. I'm not as convinced as others that having Favre back makes the Packers better. Not if there's that much bad blood between him and the coaching staff.

    A lot of folks around here would like to see Favre join the Bears, but that'll never happen. The Packers still own his rights, and there's no way they'll let him stay in the division. The Vikings would also love to have him and have made no secret about it, but once again, same division. Now, it looks like he'll be traded to Tampa for a bag of chips and a case of beer.

  • Kyle Orton gets to start tomorrow night's game with the Cheifs. It looks like the QB derby will be decided after the second exhibition game (which Grossman will start). It would be a shame if Grossman ends up the starter. We've already seen what he can do. Or, more accurately, can't do.

  • The Bears have reportedly told season ticket holders that they will not be allowed to tailgate once the game begins. I guess a fair number of people just sit at their cars and watch the games on TV outside the stadium. What's the point of that? Wouldn't it be a lot easier to do that at home?

  • Our area got pounded with storms the other night, leaving a lot of damage. My house was spared, but the nearby town of Griffith, IN, got hit with a tornado, leaving a lot of destruction in its wake. You can see some of the pics here.

  • My DSL service is out for a few days, which is making things difficult for me. Right now, I'm getting some online time at a McDonald's, where a little girl is entertaining the crowd with a rousing version of the "I just farted" song, much to her parents dismay. Could be worse, though. Could be March, when a DSL problem would have me moving out. Also, I could be sitting closer to the little girl.

    At least I have power. I live on a small street and usually if one of us has a power outage, we all do. Right now though, our house is the only one powered up on our side of the street. Very strange. Also, we're the only ones who didn't get water, thanks to a battery backup sump pump. Best investment I ever made.
  • Monday, August 04, 2008

    Catching up

    A lot has gone on since I last wrote:

  • I saw The Dark Knight. It was fantastic. I don't know that I have much to add beyond what most of the reviewers have already said. Heath Ledger stole the show and the story was great. If I have any complaint, it's that it gets a little speechy at times (is "speechy" a word?). It's pretty cool, as a Chicagoan, to see the way the city is used in this movie.

  • The Cubs keep rolling. They went up to Milwaukee and kicked the Brewers back to the Cardinals in the standings. The team didn't make any trade deadline moves, but their big trade came earlier in July when they picked up Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin, both of whom have done quite well, despite Gaudin blowing a lead yesterday. Jeff Samardzija, the former all-American WR at Notre Dame, was called up to fill Kerry Wood's spot on the roster and has done a pretty credible job as well. He's got nasty stuff, and once he nails down his control, he'll be a quality starter. That is, if they don't make a closer out of him. Rooting for ND guys is hard for me, but I guess I'll just have to get used to it.

  • I had another garage sale. This one didn't go as well as the first because the main road near my house is under construction, which kept down drive-by traffic. I may do one more, or I may not.

  • I signed up to coach soccer again this fall, but for the second season in a row, I didn't get a team. I'm starting to take this personally.

  • I have also been working on getting going for the new season, so if you are a subscriber, you can find my bowl projections and commentary on the initial coaches' poll.

  • I also joined up with Facebook and LinkedIn. Links to my pages on those sites are on the right side of the page.