Thursday, July 30, 2009

Rome vs. Everett

Not exactly new news, but I was not familiar with it so I thought that I would post it. Back in 1994, Jime Rome had quarterback Jim Everett on his show, and it resulted in a fight. Rome kept calling Everett, "Chris" in reference to female tennis player Chris Evert. Really clever and mature. I'm guessing Rome takes a different approach when he interviews Ray Lewis. Keep in mind this is the same guy who now has his own show on ESPN.

Watch this clip of Everett in the 1993 playoff game that caused Rome to mock Everett. Maybe he deserved it.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

This Week in Golf

What to watch for in golf this week:
Champions Tour - The top tournament in professional golf this week is the U.S. Senior Open at Crooked Stick near Indianapolis. This course played host to the 1991 PGA Championship won by little-known alternate John Daly. Unfortunately, the schedule on the Champions Tour is horribly arranged with three of their five (I know it should only be four) coming back-to-back-to-back. Players are complaining about the lack of preparation time for what should be the most difficult event of the year beginning three days after the completion of the Senior British Open. Expect the usual suspects to be near the top of the leaderboard on the weekend. Fred Funk, Bernhard Langer, Loren Roberts, and Jay Hass seem to contend each week. Michael Allen, the '09 Senior PGA champion, is also having an outstanding year, and I predict he will make a run at a second major. My pick to win this week, though, is the Shark, Greg Norman. Crooked Stick is a longer track for the seniors at over 7,300 yards. So, the shining star, Tom Watson, will probably take a backseat to the younger boys, especially following a whirlwind couple of weeks in Great Britain. Tom Lehman is my sleeper pick appearing in his first U.S. Senior Open. The action can be caught on NBC.

PGA Tour - The Buick Open will be played this week, possibly for the final time. Tiger is in the field, and is, therefore, the favorite to win at a course he enjoys. Warwick Hills is located near Flint, Michigan, the poster child for recession-ridden Rust Belt communities for the past 30 years. With GM announcing that it will end sponsorship of this event next year, I highly doubt another sponsor will pick up the tournament at such a location. Jim Furyk is playing this week as well. He is surprisingly without a win since repeating at the Canadian Open in 2007. Furyk won the Buick Open in 2003, and he usually has a solid showing here. You must go low at Warwick Hills in order to compete, and no one is capable of going lower than Mark Calcavecchia, who birdied nine consecutive holes last week for a PGA Tour record. My sleeper pick is the lovable (and rotund) 49-year-old. CBS will carry coverage of the Buick Open.

LPGA Tour - The Women's British Open is also on tap for this weekend. The ladies (many of whom have very similarly short Asian names) are playing Royal Lytham & St. Annes, the site of ten Open Championships including Bobby Jones's first Claret Jug. My interest in this tour is usually limited to the Americans and Lorena Ochoa. Lorena is struggling this year, but she is my pick to have a breakthrough at the British and win. Cristie Kerr will be out to avenge her close call at the U.S. Open a few weeks ago. My sleeper pick will be Natalie Gulbis, because who wouldn't want to see her win. But I will also be cheering for the British bomber Laura Davies. ABC Sports still presents the R&A championship.

Mike Small - Congrats on yet another great tournament early this week at the Illinois Open at Hawthorn Woods CC. He finished runner-up for the second consecutive year. He lost in a playoff to an amateur from Rockford, Brad Benjamin. Small has won the event four other times. The U of I golf coach also won his second PGA Professionals Championship earlier this year in New Mexico. So Mike is exempt for the PGA Championship at Hazeltine in a few weeks.

No Mo' Fubar

They're not messin' around anymore. According to an article by the Chicago Tribune,,0,4493435.story there is a ban on specific "troublesome" Champaign bars for the Illini football team. Apparently Rejus and Juice found out what players were going to the banned bars and told Zook about it. "I turned [the names] in to Zook and said, 'Man, we have to do something,'" Benn said. So Arrelious and Isaiah have turned to snitchin'. They seemed so hard.

What I really want to find out is what bars are on the troublesome list. I'm guessing Fubar, where Martez Wilson got stabbed last December, and Jamar Smith was caught drinking and kicked off the bball team, but beyond that I have no idea. Hopefully the Illini Inn hasn't been banned from the players. That would be much too harsh.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Good Ideas from Zook

Ron Zook has helped revitalize the University of Illinois' football team in recent years. His recruiting and marketing skills are by far his best assets. Some argue that his play calling is sub par, but compared to Ron Turner and anyone else that could have replaced him, Zook's charisma, confidence, and leadership are exactly what the Illini needed.

On Chicago radio yesterday, Zook jumped at the suggestion that Illinois play against Northwestern University at the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field in 2010. "I just think it would be an awesome venue," Zook said. "Until just a couple years ago, there had been more NFL games played in that stadium than any other stadium, and there hasn't been a game played there since 1970. And can you imagine the national media? I think it would be great to have that opportunity." An Illini game at Wrigley would be incredible. Especially with the St. Louis Mizzou contract expiring, a unique, large market game probably televised nationally would be a smart move.

Another change in the Illini camp recently publicized is an attempt to create greater team unity and discipline through accountability. Coach Zook has split the squad into ten separate "character teams" with appointed captains. If anyone on a team screws up by showing up late to a weightlifting session, skipping class, or committing any other off-field misdemeanor, all ten players on that guy's character team are punished. Extra push-ups or suicides are potential punishments. Ideally, this system creates an atmosphere of positive peer pressure. Once I got past the cheesy terms, such as "character teams," I decided I like the idea. In order to be successful, it must be consistently enforced, and the teams have to be carefully crafted to keep the idea from backfiring and creating resentment between certain players. The season is quickly approaching.

I Guess Chicks Really Do Dig the Long Ball

In the sports world, the leadoff spot has always been somewhat of a sanctuary for small, skinny white guys--a place where the likes of Scott Podsednik and David Eckstein can make a living. However, more and more it seems teams today are looking to guys who don't get carded at their local Applebee's to perform that job (Sorry Scott).

Take for instance, the Cubs former leadoff hitter Alfonso Soriano. Soriano is neither getting hits (.252 AVG) nor getting on base (.313 OBP) at the rate you would expect of a leadoff hitter. On top of that he has struck out 94 times and hasn't redeemed himself with a lot of stolen bases (7 SB). More striking, however, is that for his 18 homers, he only has 45 RBI to show. Cincinnati's Brandon Phillips--former leadoff hitter--has 67 RBI while touting three fewer home runs than Soriano. Couldn't the North-siders be getting much more offensive contribution from him lower in the order?

Well, after two and a half years the Cubs finally dropped Soriano in the order. Last night, while hitting sixth, Soriano came up with the bases loaded and belted a grand slam. Granted you can't judge success based on one at-bat, but if I were a Cubs fan I would be rejoicing about Soriano's new home in the order.

For all that, I think Soriano's case is a rare one. If a player has a rare combination of speed, discipline, and power, I can understand the interest in slotting him at the top. Here are a handful of leadoff hitters right now that don't have to live off infield base hits and Texas leaguers.

1. 2B Ian Kinsler (Texas): .242 AVG, .314 OBP , 22 SB, 23 HR, 60 RBI
-Kinsler is similar to Soriano in that he doesn't get on enough for a leadoff guy. However, he does steal a lot of bases and has managed to produce a lot of RBI.

2. OF Curtis Granderson (Detroit): .260 AVG, .344 OBP , 17 SB, 20 HR, 47 RBI
-Although he's losing RBI at the one-hole, his speed may be to hard to pass up in that role.

3. OF Nate McLouth (Atlanta): .259 AVG, .349 OBP, 15 SB, 15 HR, 52 RBI
-His penchant for not getting caught on the base-paths is nice to have at the top of the order.

4. Grady Sizemore (Cleveland): .230 AVG, .323 OBP, 9 SB, 14 HR, 51 RBI
-He's having a down year all around, so it's hard to judge.

5. SS Jimmy Rollins (Philadelphia): .236 AVG, .289 OBP, 17 SB, 10 HR, 46 RBI
-Hit 30 homers in 2007. Isn't doing much of anything this year.

Honorable Mention: Hanley Ramirez, Johnny Damon, and Brian Roberts
-Former leadoff hitters that all have plenty of pop in their bats.


Over the weekend Stephon Marbury opened up to the internet community in a live 24 hour webcam. What an opportunity, one of the world's biggest stars in such an intimate setting. Fans were able to post questions, and watch along respectfully as Starbury thoughtfully answered them, chatted on various topics, and did his best Tracy Jordan impression.
Here are some of the highlights:"Do I believe in aliens? I don't know, because I've never seen one. But I believe in Jesus because I saw him in the shower the other day."
Utterly amazing. there needs to be a song called "I saw Jesus in the shower"
"Holla. I love Canada. 'Ohhh, Canada. We' — I love that song. I love y'all's anthem. That anthem is dope. And I love when I come there and they sing it. I love hearing it. It's fresh."
"I don't own no bling anymore. I got rid of all that. I took my bling and invested it into something, and I'm gonna use that money from the bling, that I got back from me, and put it in something else and let that pay for my bling."
That's just a great lesson in economics.
At one point he broke down crying while listening to music.
This is why the internet is the greatest invention ever.
I was thinking what other celebrities that would be great to do the 24 hour webcam. Here is my list.
1.Charles Barkley
2.Jack Bauer
3.J Leman
4.Martin Lawrence
5.Ozzie Guillen
Last.Milton Bradley

Monday, July 27, 2009

Charlie Hustle's War

Hank Aaron publicly stated recently that Pete Rose should be allowed into the Hall of Fame. Although Aaron's intentions seemed to be self-motivated--shifting the focus to drug-users, like Barry Bonds, who broke his record--this is an opinion I have always held. And although my opinion means nothing, I'm surprised nothing has been done about it yet. 

I realize that Pete Rose disrespected the game by betting on it, and I even concede that he can be a liar and a prima donna (see Jim Gray interview). However, he didn't do any of that on the field. Rose was charged with gambling on baseball as a manager. Seeing as he would be inducted as a player and not a manager, those actions are irrelevant. The Hall of Fame honors (or at least should) players who respect the game on the field and perform at a much higher level than those around them. As far as I know, Rose respected the game more than any player during his playing days. The man was famous for sprinting out walks, and most players today don't care enough to run out ground balls. Nothing he did after retirement can erase that. As for his numbers, I don't think anyone can argue his qualification (most career hits, at-bats, and games played, to name a few). 

In my opinion, if the Hall of Fame starts accepting players who knowingly used banned substances, it seems odd that you would keep out a guy who played the game clean and with a fervor like no one else, even with his problems in later years. 

Other people who have gotten shafted by Major League Baseball:

(I'd like to preface this list by saying that I thoroughly enjoy the MLB and respect it more than the other two major U.S. sports markets. These are just a few things I find perplexing and/or disappointing)

1. Shoeless Joe Jackson and Buck Weaver- Neither threw any games nor were provably involved in the fix (if you disagree with me about Jackson, ask me about it).

2. Major league teams- It's a shame that home-field advantage is determined by something as capricious as the All-Star game. Besides, it's supposed to be a fun, carefree event. Solution: whichever league wins interleague play gets home field advantage. 

3. Major league players- It's a shame that little-known major-leaguers who put up break-out numbers miss out on the opportunity to start in the All-Star game because uninformed fans have the power to vote in undeserving Yankees players and Cal Ripken Jr. past his prime. Solution: Allow league managers to select everything. Right now it isn't the fan's game, it's the East Coast fans' game.

4. Steve Bartman- This isn't necessarily MLB's fault. Although Bartman's name and personal information leaked on MLB message boards, the dangerously belligerent, whiny fans from the North Side would have found a way to make his life hell either way. Nonetheless, this incident--in my opinion--goes down as one of the saddest in baseball in recent years. 

5. Barry Bonds- This is just a joke. He's a douche bag. 

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Golf in Illinois - Aldeen Golf Club

I thoroughly enjoy travelling the state to play some of its premier public golf courses. My favorite has to Aldeen Golf Club in Rockford. This muni is a superb track that could challenge any level of golfer. Golf Digest gave Aldeen 4 1/2 stars in 2008, and Golf Magazine ranked it #23 on its top 50 courses under $50 in the entire country. The staff is friendly, and the four times I have played there, the course conditions were flawless. Most fairways are generously wide. However, only narrow strips of rough separate the fairways from rows of trees and hefty berms. Water comes into play on twelve holes, including the signature island green on the par-3 8th hole. The greens are typically guarded by bunkers and are quite undulated. My favorite holes are 17 and 18. The 17th is unique because of the OB woods right, left, and behind the hole. It is a short par-4 with a pinched landing area to a large green. Birdie is a definite possibility with an accurate drive, but bogey or worse quickly comes into the equation with an errant tee shot. The finishing hole is a long par-5 with water down the entire left side. The same lake fronts the green with bunkers to the right. Once again, birdie is possible, but accuracy is the key. This course is the best public links I have played in the state, and I have only paid $20 every time. That is the twilight rate that starts daily after 3:00 PM. Watch for future postings on other great courses such as Lick Creek, Deere Run, The Den at Fox Creek, and The Rail. All of these excellent courses can be played for under $22.

Cubs are in 1st Place

Who would have thought that despite their egregious offense most of this season the Cubs are in first place in the ever-competitive NL Central. The Cubs have the talent and ability to be a first place team, but so do the Cardinals, Brewers, and Astros. If we can continue to get hits and score runs, I believe the pitching staff will continue to roll out solid performances like Harden's today so that we end up with many more wins than losses.

Go Cubs! Go!
Go Cubs! Go!
Hey Chicago, what do you say?
The Cubs are going to win today (and hopefully tomorrow)!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

What people will do for money!?!?

Friends will consider this post odd coming from me, a low-class entrepreneur/cheapskate, who believes in Benjamin Franklin's old adage of "A penny saved is a penny earned." That proverb will probably soon be more accurately quoted as "A Benjamin saved is a Benjamin earned" as the First White Sox Fan brings unprecedented deficit...ur, um "change" to our beloved "free market" economy. However despite my scrapping for every last penny I can, I am still amazed at what some people do for a buck. I am especially amused at what could-be, should-be millionaire athletes will do for extra cash.

PGA Tour superstar John Daly tops the list. Outside of endorsements, JD has made over $9 million simply playing golf since 1989. My projected earnings from teaching in the public school system for next 20 years are well under $1 million. If you throw in all the money from endorsements, overseas appearances, corporate outings, etc., he has at least doubled his golf winnings. According to Golf Digest magazine, Daly made $6 million off the golf course in 2007 alone. However Big John's latest public performance of disgrace scared off many of his sponsors last year, and his golf game has been in decline for some time now. So during his stint on the European Tour in the first half of '09 while waiting for his PGA Tour suspension to expire, Daly demonstrated just how low he would go to support his gambling and Big Mac addictions. He signed a deal with an obscure company called Loud Mouth Golf that makes him wear pants more revolting than Saddam Hussein's spider hole look. Most fans found JD's yard sales of golf memorabilia in the parking lot of pro tournaments to be desperate, but sporting this new wardrobe is not something even I would do for a few more Benjamins.

The Curious Case of Alexi Lalas

Alexi Lalas has gone the way of Matt Millen and made the jump from a less than adequate GM to a posh broadcasting gig (with ESPN). As a result we are now starting to see his face as much as we did when he was sporting the stars in stripes on limited T.V. coverage back in the early 90s. This increased exposure has led some to believe that Alexi may be suffering from what experts are calling “Benjamin Button Syndrome”. Although only time will tell if these speculations are correct the following picture evidence (including future estimations based on current trends) are featured below.

Alexi at 21

Alexi at 39
Alexi at 60?????

Old Man Lalas at 85?????

Thursday, July 23, 2009

We live in a Police State

What a world we live in. A man cannot make a safe (but kind of illegal) right hand turn on a red light without a camera recording him and sending a $100 trafic ticket. Awesome. I bet they dont pull this crap in Canada. The state clearly are just interested in making a little money off their hard-working citizens. Believe me when I say that we are getting dangerously close to a 1984-type scenario where people get locked up when a camera spots them displaying emotion.

(If you want to see the video of me blowing through the red light click the link and then enter notice # 1703400051433371 License plate # 8230599 and you can watch it. It would not let me directly link the video)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Why I want to be Calvin Booth

On the list of greatest jobs in the world, back-up center in the NBA has to be at the top. Calvin Booth is a great example.
In addition to living the sweet NBA life of drinking Bahama Mama's with shortys. He gets paid millions of dollars to sit on the bench.

Last year alone, Booth pulled down $1,319,651 while "playing" for the T-wolves and the Kings. He played a grand total of 56 minutes all season and scored a total of 16 points. In contrast, our President Barack Obama is paid $400,000 per year.

I know, they're both really overpaid. But Barack can't get up and down the court as well as Calvin can these days.

Booth, known to his teammates as the "Assassin", was paid $23,565 per minute played, and $82,478 per point. Good times. His career numbers are a little more realistic. He has made $37,012,342 in his 9 year career, and it comes to $8,267 per minute played, and $31,102 per point for his career.

According to Wikipedia, Booth, a Penn State alum, has a sandwich named after him in State College. I'm guessing it comes with a whole lot'a bread and not much meat.
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