Category Archives: Sports

The Curious Case of Bruce Weber

Here I sit digesting another disappointing Illinois basketball loss.  Actually, I’m not really digesting it.  I was at work until 10 and missed the whole game.  However you can’t talk Illinois basketball anymore without debating whether or not Bruce Weber should be fired as the head coach.  I read an article today that summed up exactly what I’ve been saying for years now: if you’re going to do it, you better be damn sure the next guy is better than Bruce. Continue reading

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One Down, A Whole Lot More To Go

Bye JerBear.  It’s been…um…real.  I heard the hosts talking about what was his worst move as GM of the Bears.  There’s several to pick from, but I have to agree with one of the hosts that the Thomas Jones trade was brutal.  If you don’t recall the deal; the Bears sent Jones and their 2nd round pick (63rd overall) to the Jets for their 2nd rounder (37th overall).  Jones was a wildly popular guy in the locker room and, to anyone with functioning eyes, was clearly a better player than Cedric Benson – whom the Bears had drafted 4th overall in 2005 (more on this in a second).  Benson, being a high draft pick and all, apparently needed to be the starting back, thus Jones was expendable.  Ugh. Continue reading

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Bears Post Mortum

Hey look!  I finally got a new computer so it no longer takes 45 minutes just to boot the damn thing up.  Yay me!

So the NFL regular season is in the books and I’d love to give you a complete and detailed break down of each team that’s in the playoffs, but I really can’t.  Truthfully it was a busy, busy last few months so I haven’t seen nearly as much football as I normally would have.  What I do know is this: Continue reading

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New Year’s Resolution…in August

I have made a decision.  I just thought you should know that.

Oh you want to know what I decided?  No, of course you don’t.  Too bad, I’m telling you anyways.  I decided that I’m going to really work at writing regularly.  We’ll see how long it lasts.  Over/under is currently 2 weeks.  I’d take the under if I were you.

So let’s get to it.  Biggest story of the summer: The LeBacle (hands down my favorite name for the insanity that surrounded LeBron this summer).  Quick story: I used to LOVE basketball.  I’m a Bulls fan and I grew up in the 90’s otherwise known as the Jordan/Pippen Era.  It was a magical time.  I watched two hall of famers get coached by one of the best coaches ever in Phil Jackson (some would argue THE best).  Then, they left the Bulls and the league seemed to fall apart.  I’m not totally sure why.  I guess these things are just cyclical.  Anyways I gravitated to college ball as it was just a better product.  Maybe because the top high schoolers jumped straight to the pros and that forced the colleges to build stronger teams instead of just relying on a stud or two.  Then LeBron happened.  Suddenly this likable kid who just might be the real deal was on his way to the league.  He would save it.  Being one of the most ardent defenders of Jordan’s legacy, I refused to allow anyone to be mentioned in the same breath as him…until LeBron.  I believed.

Flash forward to 2010.  LeBron’s antics were starting to wear thin on me (the pregame stuff, acting like a general fool on the bench), but I let it go because hey, he’s 25.  He’s a kid.  He doesn’t really have any structure around him because Mike Brown isn’t about to stand up to his only star.  I could justify it.  When LeBron’s impending free agency was upon us, I thought he would either stay in Cleveland or go to Chicago.  That’s it.  Those were the only options.  The case for each was pretty simple:

Cleveland: stay at home with the franchise that you saved and finish what you started.  LeBron had all the leverage.  He could get whatever coach he wanted, whatever GM he wanted, and if he agreed to take less money they probably could’ve landed some crop along the lines of David Lee/Ray Allen/Kyle Korver/Ronnie Brewer/J.J. Redick and maybe Carlos Boozer.  Probably not Bosh because he made it pretty clear he was going to be Dwayne Wade’s lapdog.  Now, I admit that Lee/Allen/Korver/Brewer/Redick doesn’t make a championship automatic, but combine them with some of the pieces they already have (Hickson, Mo Williams, Varejao) and you’ve got something.  Especially with Boston making their way over the hill and Orlando lacking the ability to take that next step to elite status.

Chicago:  Easy choice if you want to win immediately.  Add LeBron to a team with Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, and Luol Deng?  Yeah, game over.  I mean, what else do you want me to say here?

Now, I don’t think anyone would have blamed LeBron for leaving Cleveland.  He killed himself the year they went to the Finals and promptly got handled by San Antonio because a good team will beat one great player every time.  Ask Michael Jordan about the Pistons before Scottie got there.  But the way LeBron left?  Pathetic.

You get ESPN to give you an uninterrupted hour of prime time and you use it to rip the heart out of your home?  Shame on you LeBron.  And shame on ESPN for facilitating it.  I was disappointed in his immaturity.  I was disappointed that he took the easy way out by going to Miami with Wade and Bosh.  I was really disappointed that he didn’t seem to care at all about what he just did.  He talked in the third person and he never really showed regret.

The backlash began.  Sport Illustrated ran a great piece that I thought accurately and fairly destroyed LeBron, Bosh, and Wade.  If I could find it, I would link to it.  Talk radio, blogs, even ESPN made fun of the “I’m taking my talents to South Beach” line.  One show I heard very astutely pointed out that the first photo would be telling.  Photo positioning is a big deal.  Your eyes will naturally go to the center and work out, so photographers will put the most important part of the picture in the center (hence: center of attention).  They thought that there would be three versions with each player in the middle, and maybe those other versions exist, but this is what SI ran…

Interesting...(Photographed by: Gregory Heisler / SI)

Quick side note: if you can find it online, read that piece by Ian Thomsen.  It is excellent.

Like I said, the middle is what matters and it’s Wade.  But note how small LeBron looks.  Where is his trademark ear-to-ear grin?  I think this picture is the beginning of LeBron realizes he may have messed up.  No matter what Wade will have one more ring than LeBron.  No matter what, LeBron ran to Wade’s team because he couldn’t handle being the man.  That will forever be his legacy.  Win a title in Cleveland, you enter the air with Michael, Magic, Bird, and Kobe.  But I guess that doesn’t matter to him.  And Lebron?  We don’t care how many tweets you send out telling us you’re taking mental notes about every single person who takes a shot at you.  An adult lives with the consequences of their decisions.  You want to be the man?  Act like one first.

So sad.

Holy Crap!

I mean…did you SEE THAT?!?  Congrats to team USA on their upcoming ESPY win.

Photo by the AP

Skynet is now self aware

Ok, first off let me say that it’s my goal to post more stuff.  No one reads this anyways, but I want to do it for me.  I feel like it could be good for me to write more.  Or not.  We’ll see.  On to the news of the day…

Oh Tiger.  Tiger, Tiger, Tiger.  Full disclosure time, I did NOT watch the “press conference” today.  I didn’t see any reason to.  I knew what he would say, and he said exactly that.  Which is to say, he said nothing.  He apologized.  Shocking.  Here’s my problem with it, he controlled the environment.  That just won’t do it.  The way he’ll beat all this is to show that he is actually human.  Cry.  Show fear over the thought of losing your family.  Show remorse.  But DO NOT stand in a room in the PGA headquarters surrounded by hand-picked friends and family members with no reporters and read a prepared statement.  The guys on PTI (whom I love by the way) drank the Kool-Aid.  Wilbon said he was moved and Kornheiser made the claim that we wouldn’t hear any more questions about this ever again.  C’mon guys.

Let’s start with Wilbon.  You’re better than that Mike.  You know as well as I do that this was written by a team of P.R. guys.  You need look no further than the fact that Tiger apologized to his business partners before his own wife and children.  There was nothing moving in the statement.  There was no genuine emotion.  Do I think he’s sorry?  Hell yes.  Do I believe him when he says that he believed he could live by a different set of rules?  Absolutely.  But I still don’t believe he’s human.  He’s the first wave of Terminators.

Oh and Tony?  You KNOW damn good and well he’ll get asked about this again.  You’re smarter than that.

So the obvious question that one would ask is “well smart guy what would you have had him do differently?”  Glad you asked.

1.  Have a REAL press conference.  Face the firing squad.  Answer the tough questions from reporters because you’ll have to eventually.  They wrote their questions down and they’ll ask them at the first tournament you play in because all golfers are required to talk to the media then.  Oh they’ll ask, and Tiger if you do your best Mark McGwire impression and tell them you don’t want to talk about the past, they’ll eat you alive.  Get in front of it now.  Own up to your mistakes like a man and show us that you’re really trying to be better.  Think of what Kobe did.  He sat there with his head down and answered every question.  It paid off in the long run for him.  There’s nothing wrong with sitting there and saying “I’m an idiot.  I deserve every joke, every insult.  I’ll do whatever it takes to make this better, but yes, I’m human and I’m a dumbass.”

2.  Admit your faults.  Don’t simply say you were wrong, explain why you did what you did.  This is where I always thought Kobe messed up.  Remember that Kobe Bryant took Brandy (who at the time was still REALLY famous) to his prom because he had just been drafted.  From that moment on, the world belong to Kobe.  Same for Tiger.  He began getting ESPN attention in college.  You think co-ed’s didn’t immediately line up for the attractive phenom?  Of course they did.  After he won his first tournament, he could have any woman he wanted, never had to wait in line, etc.  Keep in mind, this all happened before he was 25 (I think).  Wouldn’t that go to your head?  I know it would’ve gone to mine.  We always see it.  Dozens of athletes who are living paycheck to paycheck because they can’t handle having money.  Celebrities with major drug problems.  Jay Leno’s car collection.  For Tiger it was women.  Probably would’ve been the same for me.  I’m not saying playing the “too much, too soon” card fixes everything, but it does actually explain a lot.

3.  Change the format of the speech.  Now I realize he didn’t write it, but that’s kind of my whole point.  Whoever set all this up, whoever his team is, are morons.  The speech should have had apologies to his wife, children, and fans – in that order – first thing and last thing.  They’re the most important, not your sponsors, not your business partners.  After his family and fans, he should’ve (and he did do this, but it got buried) apologized for the harm he caused his charity.  He needed to apologize to his deceased father, the man who made sure we knew who Tiger was before he won his first tournament.  The man who Tiger had such a special relationship with.  He needed to do that.  He needed to show how hurt he was by Earl’s death.  It’s totally plausible, and frankly I think this is part of it, that he lost his way when Earl died.

So, ok, he botched the first step, but it’s not completely out of reach yet.  Admitting he’s going to continue therapy and find his center again with Buddhism were excellent admissions, and he absolutely should do that.  His next step needs to be working on his family.  I don’t know if Elin will stay, in fact I doubt she will, but Tiger has to let her make that decision on her own.  Don’t try to pressure her, just let her think her way through it on her own.  If he tries to pressure, as there have been reports he is, it makes him look like a control freak.  And coming off that joke of a press conference, he can’t afford that right now.  But do your work Tiger.  Saying you’ll play golf again, but you don’t know when, was excellent.  Stick to that.  Give it time, let the healing process work, and when you’re ready in 3 months or so, go on Oprah.  If (and that’s a HUGE if) she asks you the tough questions, answer as best you can.  Don’t give cliche answers, don’t give rehearsed statements.  Answer honestly even if the answer is “I don’t know.”  After that, play.  Actually, don’t just play.  Win.  Dominate.  Be Tiger again.  The best thing that happened to Kobe was him not getting traded after he publicly demanded one.  Remember, at that time, he was almost the lost superstar.  Brilliant on the court, but a total ass off of it.  He was despised outside of L.A.  But then the Lakers got smart and built a team around him, got the great Phil Jackson back, and won another title.  Suddenly Kobe was the great teammate because winning fixes everything.  He knew that by being back on the big stage, if he said and did the right things he would win the public back.  Even if it was all an act, which I think it is, it didn’t matter.  He did it right and Nike came back.  His jersey went back to the top of the best sellers list.  You see my point.  But Tiger, learn from that.  You’re all alone on a golf course so you can’t blame anyone if you don’t win.  You can’t really embrace the bad guy image.  Instead, put your head down and be brilliant again.

Oh, and fire your current P.R. team and hire me.  I’ll take 15%.

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Stupid Thy Name Is Bud

Hurricane Ike has apparently come and gone and while it didn’t cause nearly the destruction that Katrina did, Houston’s still a mess.  It caused plenty of havoc with pro sports.  The NFL had to some schedule adjusting for the Houston Texans and Major League Baseball postponed two Cubs-Astros games.  Now, the folks down in Houston said that Ike didn’t do any damage to Minute Maid Park (where the Astros play) so in theory, they could’ve played the postponed games there like they were originally supposed to.  They’re not, and I understand that.  Frankly it’s the right call.  But that’s the only right call MLB made here.

Yesterday it was announced that the games would be played at a neutral site…in Milwaukee.  Upon seeing that on ESPN, my brother-in-law said “That’s hardly a neutral site.”  Milwaukee is a pretty short drive from Chicago and when the Cubs play there, they always have a ton of fans show up.  It’s a home game for the Cubs.  End of story.  You want to play it at a neutral site, that’s awesome, but play it at an actual NEUTRAL site.  Play at Seattle, New York, Boston, Miami, Tampa, Washington D.C., Baltimore, Kansas City, hell pick one.  Just don’t pick a ballpark that’s a short drive away from either team’s home park.  But of course, Bud Selig did.  Why Milwaukee?  Well, when Selig became the interim commissioner, he was the majority owner of the Milwaukee Brewers.  His daughter ran the team until 2004 when the Selig group finally sold the team.  I’m fine with people being “homers,” but c’mon.  But hey, it’s OK because it’s not like the playoffs could be on the line…oh wait they totally are since the Astros are chasing the wild card birth.

If the Astros lose both games (they lost one tonight) they have a very, very legitimate gripe.

College Football officially makes me happy

Seriously.  I love it.  Here’s what we learned after Day 1:

Michigan…probably not going to be a good year for you.  New coach, new offense, no quarterback to speak of, defense looked so-so against Utah.  Not a good sign.

Ohio State…scary good.  They will be #1 at some point, although we’ll learn a lot about them when they play USC in 2 weeks.  Still though, great offense, great defense, but will still probably manage to choke in the BCS title game.  Sorry, it’s true.

USC…also scary good.  USC/OSU could be your national title game and it would be incredibly entertaining.  Either way, when they play in 2 weeks, it’s gonna be a great game to watch.

Georgia…will also be in the hunt, but something about them today didn’t look quite right to me.  Don’t know what it is, maybe they gave up too many points, I don’t know, but I don’t really see them holding on to the #1 spot for the whole season, and I’m not sure they make the title game.  Then again, stranger things…

People say the Big 10 is down, and during the Illinois-Missouri game they said “kind of a rough day for the Big 10.”  Yeah, about that…

Wisconsin 38, Akron 10

Penn St. 66, Coastal Carolina 10

Ohio St. 43, Youngstown St. 0

Northwestern 30, Syracuse 10

Indiana 31, Western Kentucky 13

Iowa 46, Maine 3

Michigan 23, Utah 25

Minnesota 31, Northern Illinois 27

Cal 38, Michigan St. 31

Missouri 52, Illinois 42

11 teams, 3 lost.  Yeah, definitely a bad day.  Morons

Of course I have to talk about my Illini.  The good news:

Juice Williams: 26-41, 458 yds 5 TD, 1 INT according to the Yahoo box score.  I think it’s actually 2 INT which is crap because the 2nd pick was in Dufrene’s hands and then Witherspoon, the Missouri linebacker just ripped it out of there so it should be a fumble.  I hate that about football.  In baseball they have errors so if a defender botches a ball and it leads to a run it doesn’t count against the pitcher’s ERA since it wasn’t his fault.  Same thing should apply if a quarterback hits his receiver in the hands, said receiver doesn’t catch the ball, and it’s picked off by a defender.  That really wasn’t the QB’s fault.  I digress…

The bad news:  the Illinois defense allowed 568 yards.  Look, I know Mizzou’s a great team.  I know they’re a great offense, but you give up that many yards, you won’t win.  Like at all.  They have to get better.  I saw a lot of sloppy tackling and that must change.

Overall though, I liked what I saw from Illinois on the offensive side of the ball, so that’s good.

And best of all, IT’S FOOTBALL SEASON!

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Oh Brett, Why Must You Tease Us So?

I’m a fan of Brett Favre.

There, I said it.  I’m a Bears fan and I like Brett Favre.  If he had played for any other team besides the Packers, I would argue until I’m blue in the face that the debate for greatest quarterback ever consists of Joe Montana, Johnny Unitas, and Brett Favre.  That’s it, that’s the list.  But he did play for the Packers and so I never allowed myself to root for him.  I respected him, but I always wanted him to fail in the end because he was a Packer and I hate the Packers.

Finally, he gave me my wish and retired.  I could finally allow myself to embrace my forbidden respect/love for Favre and move on with my life…or so I thought.

As you probably know, Brett now says he wants to play again.  Not terribly shocking.  Most athletes find it really difficult to let go that first year of retirement.  Their body gets amped up like it has done for the last however many years they played their sport and it’s really hard to turn it off.  But that’s not what’s going on here, at least not according to Brett.  Oh no, Brett has “the itch” again and he wants to play, but he doesn’t want to play for the Packers.  He says he doesn’t “feel welcome” so he asked for his release.  As Brett must surely know, it won’t happen.  The Packers cannot, I repeat CANNOT, release a Hall of Fame QB that was the face of their franchise for like 17 years or something.  It’s a horrible P.R. move for the team.  They can trade him, but that doesn’t look great either and they might not get back the value he’s worth.  So how do we find our way out of this?

Simple.  Brett stays retired.  The truth is, that’s what he should do anyways.  He walked away for a reason and whatever that reason was, I assume it’s still there.  If he retired because he “didn’t feel welcome” then he should have known that’s not a valid reason to retire.  Simply put, Brett is now only doing damage to his legacy.  People are damn tired of hearing about Brett and will he/won’t he play again and if he does end up getting his wish of either being traded or released, he’ll join the ranks of Joe Montana, Johnny Unitas, and Joe Namath who finished their careers with Kansas City, San Diego, and the L.A. Rams respectively (did you know that by the way?).  Do you really want to see Favre wearing a Tampa Bay jersey, or a Minnesota jersey, or a Baltimore jersey, or a Dolphins jersey?  Of course not.  The final image most of us have now of Michael Jordan is the shot he made to win the sixth and final championship for the Bulls.  We either block out or ignore the Washington days because it really didn’t do anything to enhance his legend and we don’t want to think about Jordan basically failing because Washington wasn’t exactly good while he played for them.  We do the same when we block out those other quarterbacks I listed and the jerseys they actually retired in.  The best thing for Favre is to just walk away.  Ride off in to the sunset as the old gunslinger who finally hung ’em up with his legend in tact.  He’s got his ring, he’s on the short list of best ever, and he holds almost every major record for a quarterback.  What’s left to prove?

Maybe that Brett’s truly as classy as we’ve been told and will do one last great thing for Green Bay.  Walk away with dignity.  Or is it too late for that now?

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Welcome to the Rapid Fire Round

So, I’ve been woefully bad about posting here.  I started a sports oriented blog on my station’s website with the intention of posting either on here or on there and then copying and pasting to the other, but it hasn’t really happened (obviously) so here’s lots of stuff…

NBA draft happened, as I hoped, the Bulls took Derrick Rose.  Some people would argue they should’ve taken Michael Beasley who fills their low post needs, but Rose is a Deron Williams/Chris Paul type player who makes everyone around him better.  I believe that anytime you can get someone like that, you do it and never look back.  Hopefully time will prove me right on that one.  Truthfully, I don’t expect the Bulls to be much better this year.  Vinny Del Negro (by the way, really?) is a first year head coach and the Bulls have an overload of guards.  Obviously Chris Duhon will be gone, but they still have Rose, Kirk Heinrich, Larry Hughes, Thabo Sefolosha, and maybe Ben Gordon if they re-sign him, which I think they will.  That’s too many chefs in the kitchen.  Someone’s gotta go and I think it’s Heinrich, but I doubt they move him as John Paxon seems to be in love with him.  We’ll see.

White Sox and Cubs split their season series which I actually expected.  The Cubs have been virtually unbeatable at Wrigley but terrible on the road.  The Sox meanwhile have to be the hottest team in baseball and I couldn’t be happier.  I heard an interesting question the other day as someone on either TV or the radio was pondering who had the easier road to winning their division between the two.  I think the answer’s easy, it’s the Cubs.  They play in a week division.  Yes, Milwaukee’s remembering how to play baseball, and the Cardinals are only about 2 games back (I think), but the Cubs don’t have Soriano back yet so if they can get to the All-Star break with at least a one game lead, I think they’re sitting pretty.  Meanwhile the Sox have to contend with Minnesota and Detroit.  I would include Cleveland on the list but I think they’ve played themselves out of the race and I expect them to trade C.C. Sabathia at the deadline which really won’t help them.

NFL wise, not much to report really.  Cedric Benson finally lived up to my expectations for him and did stupid crap and got kicked off the Bears and maybe out of the NFL.  Yes, he is Ricky Williams v2.0.  I was right on that one.  Sadly, to prove me right my team had to blow the #4 pick in the draft on him.  Awesome.  I’m so completely upset by the prospect of this upcoming Bears season that just thinking about it is making me depressed.  I see no way that they’ll be any good at all.  Again, awesome.

Luckily though the Fighting Illini should be every bit as good as last year.  I’m thrilled.  I seriously can’t wait for Saturdays this fall.

I spent $60 on two (2) baseball hats.  Is it just me or is that WAY too much?  And yet, I paid it.

I think I hate the baseball All-Star game.  They have the utterly stupid rule that every team has to be represented, so Toronto, who have no hope at all of making the playoffs, let alone the World Series, will have a player that will help determine home field advantage for the World Series.  Why the hell baseball doesn’t just do what every other league does and have home field go to the team with best record is beyond me.  For every good idea Bud Selig has, he has three that are just stupid.  Having the All-Star game determine home field is one of them.

I’m so beyond excited for The Dark Knight to premiere that I could seriously wet myself.  Just thought I’d throw that in.

And on that note, I’m done for tonight.

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