Friday, August 28, 2009

Milton Bradley is clubhouse Ebola

He is worse than a clubhouse cancer, he spreads through and infects everything around him. Bradley is like that black virus thing from Spiderman 3, he slinks around and turns Tobey Maguire into evil Spiderman. No, that doesn't make any sense.
Let me try again. Just like Spiderman 3, I can't wait for Bradley's Cubs career to be over.
He has been his usual self, spouting off to the media after games this past week.
"My family is there I have people I can talk to who are very supportive, in spite of everything and all the adversity and the hatred I face on a daily basis." He is probably referring to my daily e-mails and threatening postcards.
"All I'm saying is I pray the game is nine innings, so I can go out there the least amount of time possible and go home," Really Milton, you are a big-league player and this is your attitude? You get paid 10 million a year to play a child's game badly and this is the way you look at it.
ESPN's Gene Wojciechowski recently wrote an article about how the Cubs fans are being "racist" in their treatment of Midnight Bradley. This of course, is ridiculous. The two most beloved Cubs of all time are Sosa and Ernie Banks. The most hated Chicago athlete of recent memory is Rex Gossman. It's not about race, its about performance on the field and attitude. Darkness Bradley has brought the boos on himself by playing terribly and have a bad attitude over the course of the season. The other Cubs players have underperformed and deserve blame; Soto, Zambrano, Fontenot, Gregg, Soriano, and Miles have all had terrible seasons as well. The difference is that Kanye Bradley is more vocal and demonstrative about his poor performance. That's why he has become the scapegoat for the Cubs failed season.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

This Week in Golf

PGA Tour - The first round of the PGA Tour Playoffs is contested this week at a new venue, Liberty National in Jersey City, New Jersey. It is a breathtaking new course designed in part by Tom Kite. The Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty are only a couple hundred yards off many of the holes along the Hudson River. Tiger Woods is in the field and is, therefore, the favorite to win the Barclays. However, the vast majority of the top 125 players this season are also competing this week. I expect a good showdown as I anxiously wait to see more of this exciting golf course. Mike Weir will serve as my sleeper pick this week. I want to see him get hot before the President's Cup at Harding Park in a few weeks. The Playoffs last for four tournaments over the next five weeks. Golfers in the top 125 in the points race got in to the event this week. They retain their points from the regular season, and only the top 100 on the points list get into next week's tourney in Boston. The catch is that the points are quintupled for Playoff events. So a top ten this week would go a long way for anyone towards the bottom of the list right now. CBS will broadcast this week.

US Amateur - The USGA's top amateur championship is being played this week in Tulsa, Oklahoma at a familiar track in Southern Hills. The medal play portion of the tournament has already been completed with 50-year-old Tim Jackson of Tennessee earning medalist's honors. It has definitely been a timeless year between Jackson here, Watson at Turnberry, and Kenny at Augusta. Semifinal matches will be played on Saturday, and the 36-hole final will be battled on Sunday. We'll have to pull for Illinois boy, Zach Barlow, but he still has a lot between him and the finals. My pick to win was Bob Tway's boy, but he lost in the first round. NBC televises USGA events.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Fantasy Football Insurance. Every family should have it.

According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, the 12 horsemen are on their way and we should be looking out for that Antichrist. And by that I mean there is now Fantasy Football Insurance. Let's say you are in a big time fantasy league and you are worried about one or more of your top players going down to injury, thus ruining your season. Fantasy Football Insurance allows you to get back your monetary losses from league fees and such. This will certainly bring great joy and relief to many households across the USA.
Listen little Timmy, we can't afford to get you braces because Daddy decided he wanted to insure Tom Brady for his Fairytale Football league.
There is an opportunity to abuse this, where there is insurance, there is insurance fraud. You could draft Carson Palmer or somebody, take out an enormous insurance policy and just sit back and collect on his inevitable downfall. Or even better, draft Brett Farve, take out the insurance policy, sneak into the locker room, and break both of his legs. Everybody wins. Except the insurance company and the Vikings.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Let the Diabetic Jew play

Slammin' Sammy Fuld has been racing around the outfield this past weekend for the Cubs, turning in a sensational defensive series with several amazing catches, running into a fence, and robbing Manny of a homer. However, the Cubbies are now 8 games out of first place with 5 1/2 weeks to go and they need to do something in the hopes of making a playoff push. Soriano is 5 for his last 43 and has not homered since July 29th and Milton Bradley has continued to be Milton Bradley, it's clearly time to make some changes.
Fuld, who is a Jew with diabetes (much to the delight of Ron Santo), has gotten it done at the plate as well, batting .283 with a .397 on base %. Jake Fox, another Iowa call-up is hitting .305 with 9 HR and 34 RBI in only 151 at-bats. That's the same number of HR, with 3 more RBI than Bradley in less than half as many at-bats. The Cubs are paying their outfield (Fukudome, Bradley, Soriano) $36.5 million this year, but the bottom line is they are not getting the job done. Lou needs to play Fuld and Fox because it gives them the best chance to win, regardless of how much you are paying players to sit on the bench. In summary, here is a list of players who I would prefer to never see again in a Cubs uniform.
1. Aaron Freaking Miles
2. Soriano
3. Milton Bradley
4. Kevin Gregg
5. Bob Howry, I know he's not on the team anymore but I just wanted say it, although I believe he might still be on the team wearing goggles and claiming to be Kevin Gregg.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Best and Worst College Logos

1. Stanford Cardinal, really sets the standard for lameness. A tree, how splendidly inoffensive. And their dancing tree mascot is so queer it makes the Phillie Phanatic look like the guy from Dos Equis commercials.

2. Northwestern Wildcats. First of all, the wildcat looks like it was drawn by a 4 year old. Second of all, the Wildcat is a total cliche, every other sports team has it, and there are definantly no Wildcats native to Evanston. The Northwestern Med Students, or the Northwestern Yuppie Pricks would be more apt. To cap it all off they decided to go with the gross shade of purple. Truly Awful.

3. Western Kentucky Hilltoppers. I think it has Downs Syndrome. They call it "Big Red", just complete lack of imagination. How do you get from Hilltoppers to a giant red thing? Its the lovechild of Grimace and Clifford the big red dog.

4. Clemson Tigers. Similar to Northwestern, very unoriginal Tigers nickname. Equally uninspiring pawprint logo. It would work for an elementary school logo.  Or Mahomet.

5. Syracuse Orange. They were known as the Orangemen until they decided that it was too controversial and changed it to the Orange. I'm not sure if it stands for the color or the fruit. I'm pretty sure that I don't care.

1. Fighting Illini Chief. RIP. There is no better jersey than the late 80's early 90's basketball jerseys with Fighting Illini on the chest and the chief logo on the shorts.

2. Texas Longhorns. I don't really like Texas, but the burnt orange and white is so classy. Their white football jerseys are the best in sports right now.

3. South Carolina Gamecocks. Its 2009 and in South Carolina anything goes. A gamecock is a rooster bred for fighting, and apperently that's okay. It's hillarious when cheerleaders hold up signs that say gamecocks. I thought it was funny when I was 12 and I still think it's funny.

4. UNLV Runnin' Rebels. There is a lot to love about UNLV. Keon Clark's Alma Mater, Lon Kruger's current school, really original nickname, great mustache. There is no better nickname for a sweet basketball team that pushes the ball.

5. Texas Christian Horned Frogs. LDT's alma mater does well to go with the horned frog. Pretty scary looking animal. I would like to see it fight the South Carolina Gamecock. Then the Runnin' Rebel could eat the loser.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Ryan Theriot. American Hero

I freely admit having a pretty huge man crush on shortstop Ryan Theriot. There are some pretty good reasons to give Theriot some love. He has been one of the few brights spots for a otherwise dreary Cubs season to this point. Ryan leads the team in hits, stolen bases, and runs scored. He has been a rock for the Cubbies, playing in 116 of 118 games this year. He has also been the Cubs most economically efficient player, pulling down just $500,000 this season. In case you're counting, that's $16,500,000 less than Soriano, $1,700,000 less than Aaron Freakin' Miles, and $600,000 less than the immortal Neal Cotts.

Theriot has not always been the Cubs golden boy. After he was drafted into the Cubs organization, he was told that he did not have the range or the arm to play shortstop and that he had to become a switch-hitter. Theriot proved them wrong, making up for range and his arm with hustle, and hitting consistently from the right side. He did not really show much promise in the minors before being called up. Theriot's career batting average in the minors was only .271 and hit only 5 homers in 6 minor league seasons. He surprised everyone, and now he is hitting .300 with 7 homers and has established himself as the Cubs spark plug at the top of the lineup. Theriot is a true success story that Cubs fans can get behind. Plus he creates some humor for the team with his power improvement as this clip proves.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

This Week in Golf

Wyndham Championship - The PGA Tour will play what used to be known as the Greater Greensboro Open this week at an old course that hosted the same event decades ago. Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, North Carolina will be the venue for an extremely important tournament for players near the 125th position in the FedEx Cup rankings. The Wyndham Championship marks the end of the new "PGA Tour season," and only the top 125 players on the FedEx Cup rankings get into the the four week long "playoffs." The available prize money during the playoffs is sizable, and the golfers around the top 125 usually are looking for more opportunities to win money and to get into majors. Surprisingly, some of the guys just inside the top 125 are not in the field this week. Tom Watson (#123) and Andres Romero (#125) could easily lose a spot in the playoffs to David Mathis (#126), Todd Hamilton (#128), Chris Riley (#129), Cliff Kresge (#130), or others. I like Carolina boy and '09 US Open champion, Lucas Glover, for the win at Sedgefield. He has been playing well lately, including a 5th place at the PGA. Chris Riley will be my sleeper pick. His best finishes of the year have come in his last few tournaments, and he needs a strong showing to get into the playoffs. The tournament will be broadcast on CBS.

Solheim Cup - The ladies will be competing for national pride in northern Illinois this week in the Solheim Cup. The host site is Rich Harvest Farms near Aurora. The Solheim Cup is the ladies's version of the Ryder Cup. The match play competition pits the best twelve Americans against the best twelve golfers from Europe every other year. The U.S. won in 2007 in Sweden and in 2005 in Indianapolis. Hopefully, the young team led by Hall of Famer Captain Beth Daniel can keep the streak alive. Friday and Saturday are two session days of foursome and four-ball matches. Then the ever-American dominated singles matches will be played on Sunday. The U.S. must garner 14 points to retain the cup, and Europe must win 14 1/2 points to take possession of it for the first time since 2003. Annika will not be playing for Europe for the first time, and many of the Europeans are unknowns here in the U.S.. However similar to the men's edition, the competition is always strong. Players to watch include U.S. star Paula Creamer and young, Solheim Cup rookie Michelle Wie. They will be in the spotlight for the Americans. Suzann Pettersen, Janice Moodie, and '09 Women's British Open champ Catriona Matthew will anchor the European team with strong records in previous appearances. For nostalgia, I hope the captains are able to rig up a Julie Inkster-Laura Davies singles match for the fans on Sunday. My forecast is a slight U.S. edge with the conclusion of team play on Friday and Saturday. Then a slaughtering by U.S. players during singles to recapture the cup by five points on Sunday. The Golf Channel will cover the Solheim Cup all week.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Unchecked Aggression in Logos

Nicholls State has unveiled its new logo.
I think they modeled it after one of the Nazis from The Sound of Music.
Sieg Hail!!! and Where are you hiding the Jews?! have replaced Lets Go Colonels! as their chant.
The really funny part is that they paid some company $30,000 to design it. They had to get rid of their old logo in 2004 because it was a old gray-bearded Confederate General, and we now think that slavery was wrong and whatnot. At least they didn't wuss out and make their new mascot an amorphous blob or a tree or something.

The symbolism is pretty obvious. The sickle. The threatening pose.

The Communist propaganda in place of text books.
You're not fooling anyone University of Charlotte.
Just because you're in Conference USA you think no one will notice.

Cincinnati Baseball Lenin

Same bald head. Same odd mustache.

Same cheery disposition.
Same unflinching belief in Communist ideals.

It makes sense. The Reds. You know, like Communist Red. It can't be a coincidence. Where is Joe McCarthy when you need him.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Brief Encounters with Bob Brenly

I was at Wrigley for Friday's 17-2 thrashing of the Pirates. The most thrilling moment for me was not the Cubs 10-run second inning, or the Blue Angels flyovers, but the personal interaction I had with Cubs announcer Bob Brenly. After the game at the team parking lot, waiting for the players to get into their cars, I spotted Bob on the opposite end of the lot. I sprinted over and yelled out "Bob!" He spotted me and gave me a half wave. It was a great moment for me. I wanted to tell him that we hate a lot of the same things, like Milton Bradley, and players not hustling ever, and that I think his son Michael shows a lot of promise. But, all I have for now is the brief wave and some eye-contact. I can't wait until Bob takes over as Cubs manger and Len becomes his bench coach.


Who is Y.E. Yang? I didn't know anything about this guy until yesterday. I had seen his name on entry lists for WGC events and majors, but no one ever paid any attention to him until he tamed Tiger on Sunday at the PGA Championship. I told a friend Sunday morning before the final group teed off that "the Chinese guy built like a Shen" (look at those forearms) would blow up right away and not be a factor. Had Yang fulfilled my prediction, I probably would not have figured out that he isn't actually Chinese, but South Korean. Instead, the thick, fun-loving, soon-to-be major champion tied for the best score of the day to erase a two shot deficit and defeat possibly the best golfer ever by three strokes. I loved his personality and demeanor throughout the round. He did not let Woods's intimidating presence and history of dominance get in the way of his own game. He stayed loose, and he seemed to genuinely enjoy every hole of the battle between him and a golfer he had never met before. Yang played very tidy golf the whole round while Tiger struggled with the putter. The turning point in the match came at hole 14. It is an excellent hole for the back nine of a major championship. A drivable par-4 at not much more than 300 yards left Tiger licking his chops as he stepped onto the 14th tee. Neither player drove the green even though they both tried to. Tiger played his second shot from the bunker first, and had a decent leave. Yang played next from the rough to the left of that same bunker. He hit a beautiful chip that rolled across the green into the cup for an eagle 2. That shot proved he had a chance to win. The two-some left the 17th green with Yang ahead by one. Tiger bombed his tee shot on 18 way past Yang's onto the fairway. I was convinced that Tiger was pouncing on another victim and victory in dramatic fashion similar to the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines. Then Yang stuffs a 3-hybrid from the intermediate cut on the wrong side of the hole over the bunker to within feet of the cup. Before Woods even has a chance to convince Yang that Nantz(y) will never be able to pull out his Y.E.S., Yang holes his birdie putt and celebrates unlike any South Korean on the LPGA Tour ever has. My personal favorite was the golf bag power clean. Americans may think that more golf fans would have preferred to see Woods win yet another major, but those Americans may underestimate the tsunami of excitement Yang's victory created in Asia. China and South Korea are golf's fastest growing markets, and with his victory at Hazeltine, Y.E. became the first Asian ever to win a major championship. That thick, little man with a beaming smile must be proud.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Illinois Amateur Championship

As soon as I think viewers may be tiring of so many golf posts on freekeon, I receive encouragement for more from a fellow poster. This is my answer for more local golf coverage. I predicted that hometown-favorite and past Illinois Am champion, Todd Mitchell, would end up victorious at Bloomington Country Club this week. However, the three-day four-round tournament went to Luke Guthrie. Mitchell led after the first two rounds with the reigning US Pub Links and Illinois Open champion, Brad Benjamin, close behind. Few were placing bets on young man from Quincy with an affinity for the Illini, but Guthrie finished with a week-low, 65, at the beautiful, yet difficult, course. Even with a double bogey on the par-5 6th hole, Guthrie played the final five in three under par to win by one stroke over two golfers with much more impressive resumes. It was a dramatic finish. Mitchell challenged Guthrie with an eagle and three birdies on the final five holes to end up one behind the eventual champion. And Benjamin, who was tied for the lead at four under par when walking onto the 18th tee, bogeyed the closing hole to also finish one back. It was an exciting and competitive week on a classic course. The only unpleasantness of the event was the presence of an eccentric fellow officiating for the CDGA. According to an anonymous source, the official mocked players from inside the ropes by making reference to their undergarments stained by feces. Curiously enough, the same official was spotted munching on Royal Donut eclairs while enjoying the latest edition of the Senior Times newspaper. I found this information odd because the nearest Royal Donut cafe is located nearly 100 miles away in Danville, IL. The local establishment is known for their attractive, flirty waitstaff and the iconic flashing sign out front. The freekeon staff is collaborating with the CDGA to identify the individual.

Mexican Fans make the Bleacher Bums look like the Little Sisters of the Poor

On Wednesday, during a blowout loss to the Phillies a Cubs bleacher bum tossed a beer at Shane Victorino. The incident resulted in a long investigation by Wrigley security and that ended in the gentleman who tossed the beer turning himself in to Chicago police today. I thought the whole spectacle was especially interesting considering it happened on the same day that USA soccer team was defeated in a particularly hostile environment in Mexico.
The USA team was subject to a great deal of abuse from the fans and one-sided refereeing throughout the game. There was one point late in the game where Landon Donovan was trying to take a corner kick while being showered with numerous beer cups and other items and behind him there was police holding riot shields trying in vain to keep the debris off of Donovan. During the game there was a great disparity in the calls with the US players receiving several yellow cards and the Mexican players were able to get away with whatever they pleased (I am not trying to be sour grapes, the Mexicans outplayed the US and deserved to win).

The main problem that I had with it, as Josh alluded to in his excellent post, was that the injustice was tolerated and expected. There is no accountability for the Mexican fans, and there is no repercussions for the blatant problems with the officiating. In the instance with Victorino and the fan, Lou and several other Cubs addressed the issue and apologized to Victorino and condemned it as unacceptable behavior. Juxtapose that with the much more serious issues in Mexico, there is no public outrage, no real effort to address it. The USA coaches and players barely even acknowledge it. They just go about their business and expect to get dumped on when they visit South American countries. I read in an ESPN article that when the US team goes to South America, they are not allowed to go anywhere except for their hotel and the field due to concerns for their safety. It is amazing how and soccer fans and Fifa in general get to operate in their own little world and go on and act however they want to when they are at the soccer stadium and have no consequences.

Rios, Peavy help Sox now and in the future

(Let me preface this post by apologizing to Krone: I'm sorry. I am a Sox fan. They are the team I follow, and thus are the team I'm most likely going to have something to say about. Also, I just find this topic interesting and want to write about it. Please disregard the following the paragraphs, sir.)

Alex Rios debuted for the White Sox in right field yesterday. With the heavily-awaited arrival of Jake Peavy from the DL, the Sox are beginning to look like a playoff team. However, I don't think these past two moves were made with a 2009 World Series in mind. Sure, our two new studs will definitely give us a better chance at going deep (if we get there), but the moves are more about equipping the team to compete consistently in the future. 

Our new guys are not rent-a-players. Peavy and Rios have contracts for three and five more seasons, respectively, and both have options for another year. Sox GM Kenny Williams is trying to build for the future, while competing in the present. For example, the Sox are developing Chris Getz and Gordon Beckham--both in the their first major league season--as well as youngsters John Danks, Carlos Quentin, and Alexei Ramirez. At the same time, they have veterans Jim Thome, Paul Konerko, and Jermaine Dye on the team to bring experience. Williams' recent moves are important, because those three veterans, as well as Jose Contreras, all have contracts expiring this fall. With Peavy and Rios, the Sox have the opportunity to let a couple of those guys go and continue building the team for the future. Both payers are 28, but are proven enough to step into the role of the exiting veterans. 

This is a strategy Williams has used for years, and I've always liked it. It's great to be able to go into each season excited about the team and still know that the future looks bright. On top of that, it has been relatively successful. Williams created a team that won the World Series in 2005.  Following that, we won 90 games the next year, won 89 games and the central division last year, and are contending for the division this year. This mindset allows the team to continually develop players and plug them into their places, while never taking a year to rebuild. Also, you never see superstars come through for half a season, only to sign somewhere else the next year.

If you look at the Florida Marlins, they are the best example of a franchise that patiently builds their teams. The fish had a losing record for the first four years of their existence, followed by World Series in 1997. After their title, the Marlins shipped practically their whole team out of town. Then they experienced another four-year batch of losing seasons, to win it again in 2003. And now, for the last five seasons they have failed to make the playoff once. 

On the one hand, it's hard to argue with two championships in 16 seasons. On the other hand, in the last 10 seasons the Marlins have ranked no better than 14th out of 16 National League teams in attendance. Granted, there are other major factors that play into attendance (the Sox deal with their own issues in that arena), but I can honestly say that I would rather root for a team that competes every year than a team that has a couple of championships among a slew of losing seasons. 

However, I am different. There are probably a lot of people out there who feel the only thing that matters is how many rings a team has. I could also be wrong about the wisdom of the Sox management strategy. Feel free to post with your thoughts on franchise management. 

USA vs. Mexico: What we learned

The 2-1 result at Azteca in favor of El Tri was less than pleasant for most U.S. supporters. Yet, with every loss there is information that can be gleamed and lessons that can be learned. With that in mind here are the things I took away from yesterdays match:

1.) Soft first touches are important: There is nothing more frustrating than watching 45 seconds of offensive build-up become pointless due to the inability of U.S. players to trap the ball in front of them. I don’t know how many times I watched ball after ball bounce yards away from an American player right at the key moment of attack.

2.) Boca has got to go: I understand Carlos Bocanegra is the team’s captain and supposed experienced defensive rock which the U.S. squad leans on; but the rock is getting a bit to worn and it looks as though Carlos needs to be replaced by younger blood who won’t get burnt down the line and will have the balls to close in on open players without fear of bodily harm.

3.) Outlet passes (like soft touches) are IMPORTANT!: There is a world of difference between making a good defensive stop and starting a strong counter attack, and making a good defensive stop and handing the ball right back. Unfortunately the U.S. squad exemplified the later of these two and made much of the game mimic defensive practice drills.

4.) Charlie Davies is quickly becoming a stud: Not only did he provide the loan U.S. goal, but he also exhibited the only real pace of the game and nearly connected on a second-half header that would have sent shockwaves through the soccer world. Davies continues to impress on all levels and is slowly becoming a legitimate star

5.) Bob Bradley is crazy… like a fox: My confidence in Bob Bradley took a swing back upward as he fielded a balanced starting line up and made adequate and well timed substitutions.

6.) Steve Cherundolo is back: I really thought that Dolo provided a bright spot in this match. After being unavailable due to injury over the past months (excluding a short gold-cup appearance), he made a strong return and provided solid defense, strong crosses, good counter attacking speed and overall stability. I know some are calling for Jonathan Spector to take his eventual place in the starting 11 now, but I really hope Cherundolo continues to have a place on this squad.

7.) Our big time players aren’t always big time players: Donovan, Dempsey, Ching, Howard and Bradley were overshadowed by Davies, Cherundolo and late substitutes Holden and Feilhaber. Though the U.S. squad is continuing to develop depth, it would be nice to have a core group of players that you can count on for every game.

8.) Play-by-play and color commentary continue down the slippery slope to oblivion: Listening to the Mundos broadcast felt very similar to listening to sports radio. Sure I’d like to know about the players background and strategy for the game and what might happen after the game, but I’d also like to know WHO IS ON THE FREAKING BALL!!!! I seriously think there was about 15 total mintues of actual play-by-play. The rest of the time was spent listing to Balboa tell me the same simple facts about playing at high altitude.

9.) Home field entitlement and blatant hypocrisy will never die in this sport: No surprise that the officiating was a bit one-sided and the Mexican players believed that they could force players off the ground, grab at players during stoppage in play, strangle people, etc. And even less of a surprise that when you're tied you bitch and moan about slow play and then 20 seconds later when you’re up by 1 you literally use every opportunity to stall… ahh the beautiful game!

10.) Nothing has changed: Bad officiating, early U.S. goal, choke holds, blown lead, 2-1 result… just another game in Azteca for a state-side squad… always fun, always exciting and always frustrating.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

This Week in Golf

PGA Championship - The season's final major, glory's last shot, is being contested in Minnesota this week at Hazeltine National. Of the four major championships, the PGA Championship has created the most exciting Sundays in the Tiger era. Whether it is Sergio Garcia, Bob May, or Rich Beem challenging the likes of Woods or David Toms defeating Mickelson, the PGA has had some entertaining finishes. The year's most talented field comes together for one more chance to win a big one, and every player wants it desperately. The course they will have to win at, though, will be long. In fact, Hazeltine will play longer this week than any other championship course in history at 7,674 yards. I shot over 100 at a tough course measuring only 6,100 yards yesterday. The weather also plays a factor at most PGA's, since they are hosted in August. The typical heat and humidity are forecasted to visit for the opening rounds with cooler temperatures settling in during the weekend. A long course that demands a good short game in hot conditions for a major championship should scream Tiger Woods. Especially, since Woods has not won a major this year, and he has been smoking hot the past two weeks, winning at Warwick Hills and Firestone. Besides the obvious favorite, though, I predict Angel Cabrera has the game to contend right now. He either plays well or he doesn't, and last week, he looked good. Despite his lack of name recognition, he already has two major victories, the 2007 U.S. Open and the 2009 Masters. He can bomb the ball straight off the tee, and when he is playing well, his short game is also excellent. My sleeper pick this week is Ernie Els. Most fans would question whether the Big Easy would qualify as a sleeper, but the three-time major winner missed the cut at the first two majors of the year and has not been in contention anywhere on Tour since his win at the Honda in March 2008. I am also calling the top finisher of the senior golfers in the field will be Minnesota native, Tom Lehman. CBS will deliver weekend coverage of the much-anticipated event.

Monday, August 10, 2009

All Bark No Brawl

In these past week of baseball, stars David Wright, Albert Pujols, and Prince Fielder were beaned seemingly on purpose, (in each instance the pitcher was ejected) and none of them had the stones to charge the mound. Only Prince reacted at all, later he searched for the pitcher Mota in the opponents locker room, shown in this clip. What is going on with these guys? I was raised on a game where Nolan Ryan repeatedly mashed Robin Ventura's face and Kyle Farnsworth body-slammed Paul Wilson. Why would Prince wait until after the game to go after Mota instead of just getting after him immediately? Why do these players wait for their pitchers to retaliate for them? I don't remember the last really good mound charge. I would love to see Prince Fielder charge the mound. Thinking about the good ol' days I came up with a list of players that I would love to see charge the mound and have the mound charged against. Feel free to coment and add your own players to the list.

1. Adam Dunn, I feel like he would do some damage.
2. Ichiro, he's quick, and I'm 90 percent sure that he knows karate.
3. Carlos Lee, It would be nice to see the jolly fat man get after it.
4. Juan Uribe, most gangsta player in the bigs, he'd probably just pull a Tony Montana and pull his uzzi.
5. Mike Fontenot, just a hunch, he fights like a wildcat.


1. Fransico Rodriguez, right in the middle of his ridiculous save celebration he gets blindsided, that would be nice.
2. Chris Carpenter, hopefully he would shatter like Sam Jackson in Unbreakable.
3. Carlos Zambrano, just try him, they don't call him El Toro for nothing
4. Pedro Martinez, the only guy he has ever fought was a 70 year old fat man
5. Jaime Moyer, it would be hilarious, it would be like if someone rushed the mound against Jim Abbott, they would be suspended for life.

Lou takes a nap, and other short stories

I thought I would follow up Josh's blog about Riggleman for manager of the year with a blog about a manager that will not be winning that award. Sweet Lou, in a 11-5 loss to the Rockies, argued a call at second base and got tossed from the game in the second inning. Pinella after the game told reporters that he "took a nap and didn't watch the whole game". That's great, Grandpa Simpson is managing the Cubs. Even if Lou was joking (and I'm pretty sure he's not) it's a terrible example to set for the team. The very idea that Lou just took a nap instead of watching the is offensive to the Cubs fans who expect their manager to be aware of whats happening to his team. Earlier this year, in a poll conducted by Sports Illustrated, the players voted Lou the manager they'd "least like to play for", I'm beginning to understand why.

The media and fans have made light of Lou's "senior moments" to this point, but the way the team is booting the ball around the infield lately it seems like he doesn't have the answers, or the ability to light a fire under his team. It took him until August to realize that it might not be a great idea to bat Milton Bradley, with his 28 RBI, in the 5 spot. The Cubs need a different manager, someone who remembers his players names. If I hear one more post game interview with Lou referring to Kosuke as "the Japanese kid, uhh, Fuku, ummm, Fukudomee" I'm gonna go nuts. These players are on your team Lou, remember their damn names, and don't take naps during the game. Jim Riggleman would never forget his players names.

Coach of the Year = Jim Riggle… WHAT?!?!

Now I know we are only technically 70% through the MLB season, but every great once and a while there comes a reason to hand out end of the season accolades with 50 games yet to go. The occasion at hand that warrants this early awarding is the Washington Natinals winning 8 games in a row; and the coach behind this miraculous feat (in case you’ve forgotten the title) is Jim Riggleman.

Now if you don’t think that leading the lowly Natinals to 8 straight victories is enough to merit coach of the year honors in early August, consider this: Since taking over the team on July 12 they have posted a 14-11 record compared to a 26-61 mark before Riggleman was at the helm. That means that under his guiding hands the most embarrassing ball club in the majors improved their winning percentage from .296 to .560 in a single month!

Now some may point out that the Natinals schedule has been fairly easy throughout Riglleman’s tenure (though they did play, and beat, average teams like Milwaukee and Houston), but what these people fail to realize is that the Natinals are the inherent underdog in EVERY game they enter….. even at home…… vs. the Pirates.

Personally, I could not be happier to give out this award, as I have been a fan of Jim’s ever since he slowly turned the Cubs around and guided them to a playoff birth back in the late 90s (same year Wood and Sosa both took home hardware). In my book the man has not gotten his fair share of praise as he seems to almost always inherit atrocious teams that are in need of major franchise reconstruction and renovation (early 90s Padres, late 90s Cubs, Seattle, Washington). This, of coarse, severely damages his career winning percentage, which leaves him to languish in the world of B-list coaches who deserve better.

All in all, no matter what happens from this point on Riggleman has already accomplished the impossible by leading a team, who seemed to be doing everything wrong, to 8 straight wins. Now if only they can use the rest of the season to slowly chip away at their 5.5 game wild card deficit and pass up the Pirates to claim that oh so important “not last in the NL” position.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Moving Day to Sunday

Moving day at the Bridgestone Invitational was exciting because it set an intriguing stage for Sunday's final round. Woods owns Firestone Country Club. He has already won six times here. Firestone is a great course, a difficult course. The venue is great preparation for glory's last shot, and tomorrow, Firestone will be, potentially, a foreshadowing of next week as well. Both Tiger and Padraig had excellent rounds today. Anything under 70 is superb golf at Firestone. Woods tied JB Holmes for lowest round of the day, 65, and Harrington shot 67. Next week's defending PGA champion will sleep on a three stroke lead over last year's reigning PGA champion. The two players will tee it up together for the next three rounds, as they have also been paired to play the first two days at Hazeltine. Advantage - Woods. Even though, Paddy has a decent sized gap between him and the rest of the field. Tiger says he "feels comfortable here," and he will definitely have the crowd with him. Harrington has already conceded that he will have to go low Sunday in order to win, even being spotted three on a course not yielding a large amount of birdies. I don't see Tiger being given the WGC trophy, either. He must make putts the way he did today in order to overtake Padraig. He missed nearly half his greens in regulation today, but he only needed 23 putts. He had 1.5 putts per GIR. That is some impressive putting (ie on 18). Everyone is anxious for Feherty, McCord, and Faldo to bring some riveting and, hopefully, competitive coverage tomorrow into next week.

Friday, August 7, 2009

There will never be another Barry Pepper

It's a shame that there haven't been very many good sports biopics made recently. Especially since the ones I've liked have been from more obscure sports, such as Cinderella Man and Seabiscuit. The last good one about an athlete in a major sport that I can think of is Billy Crystal's 61*. One of the great things about that movie, as Krehbiel rightly put it, is that Barry Pepper was born to play Roger Maris. To me, the most exciting part of a biopic is seeing who will be playing the featured figure. Now that gets me thinking: what are some other actors that could play an athlete or coach in a film? Here's a list of five guys who were either born to play, might decently portray, or just look eerily similar to a particular sports figure. 

1. Sean William Scott as Andy Roddick


He's got the frat boy mentality, athletic physique, and strikingly similar facial features. This combo is hard to pass up. 

2. David Paymer as Jeff Van Gundy


It's much more rewarding to find a good match for sports figures who are different or odd-looking. Add the fact that Paymer already played a coach in The Sixth Man, and you have a stellar movie in the making. Plus, who doesn't want to see a movie about Jeff Van Gundy. The Alonzo Mourning incident would be a great turning point in the film.

3. Ron Jeremy as Stan Van Gundy

Nothing more needs to be said. 

4. Kyle Chandler as John Stockton


He would have to lose 30 pounds and begin filming immediately. If that didn't work out, he could gain 60 pounds and play Alec Baldwin instead. 

5. Denzel Washington as Magic Johnson


Bust out your ball sneakers from He Got Game, Denzel! They've both got the million dollar smile and trick photography can take care of the height disparity. Plus, Denzel would love to play this role (unless a role for Jackie Robinson came up first). 

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

97.5 million. Really?

The Giants just signed lil' Eli to a contract extension worth $97.5 million over 6 years. The contract at 15.3 million a season, makes him the third highest paid player in the NFL after Julius Peppers and Carson Palmer. This is pretty amazing because no one in their right mind would rank Eli in the top 5 QBs in the NFL. Somewhere in Mississippi, Cooper Manning is grinding his teeth and muttering under his breath about how he could have been the greatest.

This got me thinking about some ridiculous sports contracts, and I came up with 5 that I thought were especially excessive.

1. Cristiano Ronaldo for Real Madrid, record setting $130 mil. transfer fee, just for the opportunity to sign him, and $15.5 per season for six years with a 25% increase. All this comes $304 mil total. That means he costs Real $50.67 mil per year for him. This dwarfs A-Rod's $27.5 mil per, widely considered on of the most lavish contracts in American sports. All that for a guy who weighs 165 pounds and has a faux hawk haircut.

2. Derek Jeter, the Yankees, 10 years $189 mil. He just doesn't deserve it. The average shortstop in the A.L. this year is making $2.7 mil. and Jeter is making $21.6 mil. It sickens me.

3. Eddy Curry, New York Knicks, 6 years $60 million dollars. Wow. 60 mil for a fat, 6-10 guy with a bad attitude and a heart defect. Who sees Eddy Curry play and wants him to be a part of their team? I wouldn't take him for a pick-up game at the Y. Every Bulls fan should go and write Isaiah Thomas a thank you card.

4. Milton Bradley, everybody's best friend. 3 years $30 million, plus incentives for moping and having a bad attitude.

5. Whatever the Reds are paying Dusty Baker to manage them. If its more than nothing, he's being grossly overpaid.

Goodbye, Sweet Friend

"But now that you're gone I'm in the zone, thinking I don't wanna die all alone. But now ya gone. And all I got left are stinkin' memories..." 
-Tupac Shakur 

It's hard to lose somebody. It's especially hard to lose that all-purpose restaurant that was there for you no matter the situation. You could be in the mood for something with substance. Bam! Enjoy your gyro burger. You could be in the mood for something with a little flair. Bam! Enjoy your chicken fingers, which are off the chains by the way. You could be in the mood for something exotic. Bam! Enjoy your Italian Beef. 

There wasn't much Windy City Express II couldn't give you. Now, it's more limited than ever. The only thing it can give you is pain. For those of you who enjoyed this great Chicago-style restaurant, I urge not to go by it for one last goodbye. It's too painful. 

Why is it always the best ones that are the first to go? First it was Wienerschnitzel, then it was Chicken Shack, and now Windy City. It's hard to look around and see the Subways and Za's Cafes, knowing what could be there instead. What should be there instead. 

We'll miss you Windy City, like we've missed all those who have gone before you. We'll pour out some liquor for you. Life goes on. 

This Week in Golf

PGA Tour - The Bridgestone Invitational is being contested this week at the challenging Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio. Golf enthusiasts are excited about the return of fan favorite Phil Mickelson. Phil's wife and mother were both diagnosed with breast cancer this spring, and their treatment began in July. Mickelson has been caring for them most of the summer. In his last appearance on Tour, he nearly won the U.S. Open at Bethpage Black. He will now play Firestone as a warm-up for next week's PGA Championship at Hazeltine. Phil has never won at Firestone, and even though I do not expect him to contend on Sunday, I'll be pulling for him all week along with thousands of others. Tiger is in the field once again. Much has been made about his unprecedented back-to-back events leading up to a major. I predict he will do well both this week and next. When Woods is in the field, you cannot bet against him, especially at a course he has such a strong history at. My sleeper pick this week is J.B. Holmes. The course is long, and no one is longer off the tee than the young Kentuckian. If he can keep it straight, he has a good chance to win. Weekend coverage of the event can be seen on CBS.

The Legends Reno-Tahoe Open is also being held. No one ever pays attention to it. The Montreux Golf Course is lovely, but the field is weak as a result of playing opposite the Bridgestone. Bryce Molder is finally breaking through with some low rounds. I expect the Georgia Tech grad to have a solid showing outside the spotlight on the Golf Channel.

Kyle English - Congrats! English is a Flordia Gulf Coast University freshman-to-be. However, he did not let his inexperience stop his chance to become only the second golfer to win the Bloomington-Normal Golf Association's Triple Crown. English won all three of the 2009 major BNGA events, the Match Play, Two-Man Best Position, and Medal Play tournaments. The only other man to do so was Tom Kearfott in 1994.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Golf in Illinois - The Rail

In part 2 of my Golf in Illinois series, I will highlight Springfield's crown jewel, The Rail Golf Course. After playing this Robert Trent Jones Jr. gem, I cannot understand why the LPGA Tour moved the State Farm Classic from this course after 30 years as its gracious host. The Rail exemplifies Central Illinois like no other course. Not long ago the land this course sits on was a sprawling dairy farm. The cow pies deposited by those big, beautiful Holsteins laid the foundation for the best greens I have played in the state. Large greens, often guarded by massive bunkers, typify The Rail, and they are as true and smooth as any you will come across. The saying around the state capital goes "There's no jail at The Rail." This adage may have multiple meanings. However, I will leave the political translation, and partially disagree with the sporting one. Most of the trees on the course are mature and strategically positioned, but the number of trees is much smaller in comparison to places like Aldeen or Lick Creek. Many holes have large areas of benign rough with few obstructions to the green that high-handicappers, such as myself, appreciate. The Rail boasts 85 bunkers, and as previously stated, most come into play due to their size. Water is not absent here, either. Even though they only have five water hazards, each one is dangerous. The signature par-5 8th hole has water bordering the fairway all along the right side. You are then forced to cross the same lake to reach the green on the opposite side. My favorite stretch of holes from 15-17 also feature water hazards. The Rail's 15th hole is a short par-5, reachable in two. The danger lies in the water to the left of the green. The 16th is a 170 yard par-3 with the same lake from 15 separating the tee box from the green. The 17th hole is a short par-4 that doglegs left around another large pond. The tee shot is fun when deciding how much of the hole to bite off. Super long hitters may even try driving the green over water the whole way if a record score isn't on the line. And while playing 17, wave to my aunt and uncle who live just off the beginning of the fairway. The Rail is certainly affordable for such excellent quality. After 4PM on weekdays, the green fee is only $21.

Monday, August 3, 2009

What the F happened to Stephon Marbury

So I am just sitting here, thinking to myself, what is the weirdest piece of crap I could blog about for my first entry into the wonderful world of Free Keon (Krehbiel, you are a God), and my first instinct went to screwed up athletes. For those of us that follow this blog, sports has become a pseudo-religion, and that got my mind racing on which athlete was most likely to start up his own cult. The answer that came to me quicker than Petey getting a hard on during a Russel Crowe movie was Stephon Marbury. For those of you that haven't seen Starbury's recent Ustream catastrophe (by the way, Ustream and Twitter are both signs that the apocolypse is upon us, I swear to God that Chad Johnson is the AntiChrist), you can check out some of the most insane parts here: complete B.S. This is just freakin' unbelievable. This is an man that is making over $21 million a year, has averaged over 19 points a game for his NBA career, was a two time NBA all-star, and represented the United States on an Olympic basketball team. Now he has been reduced to sobbing like a beotch during an R&B song and eating Vaseline. I can't explain's like watching a car accident. You don't want to see the results, but oddly, you can't take your eyes off it. The worst part about this is that this kind of thing is becoming commonplace. You have a bunch of overpayed, too young, immature kids coming out of poor living situations, doing nothing but supporting their posse, overspending out of control, and becoming a cancer to their team and a black eye to whatever league they're in. (As for Krehbiel and me, we can trace this back to a single man...Curtis Conway. This man ushered in an era of pricks in the NFL that has led to a trickle down effect in each league.)

We need to remember, however, that this is a man that does have some good qualities to him. He tried to produce shoes that are affordable to kids that grew up in the hood like him, he donates quite a bit of money to inner city schools, and has even been named to the Sporting News's "Good Guys in Sports" list three times. (Three times more than Kobe Bryant shockingly, and yes, there is some actual research going into this blog). For me, this enhances his occult cannot be the leader of a group of nut jobs without coming off as the good guy in some respects. This is why the answer clearly cannot be Ron Artest (just a complete idiot), Kobe Bryant (rapist), or as much as we love him Keon Clark (just too freakin awesome and possibly the drugs). So for me, the answer is Stephon Marbury, and the first member of his cult would probably be his cousin, Sebastian Telfair, but that's just a shot in the dark. And this is what is great about blogs, we can actually discuss it, so if anyone, whether member or not, has a better athlete (I doubt it, but I'm open to suggestions), throw it out there and I'll mock your logic mercilessly because there is no one out there better than Stephon Marbury.

Peace Brooklyn

The Bartman legacy

ESPN recently announced that as part of their upcoming 30 for 30 documentary series they have commissioned an hour-long film on 2003 Cubs villain Steve Bartman. The documentary will answer the question "Can Steve Bartman forgive Chicago".
The question that Cubs fans should be asking is why is the media continuing to shove the Bartman story at us? At the time of the incident, Fox Sports was all over Bartman with coverage. Repeatedly zooming in on him and reshowing the imfamous play. We found out his name and specific details about him before the game was even over. Ever since there has been an inordinate amount of media coverage on Bartman from ESPN and in the Chicago media outlets.
The person that should be thankful for all the attention Bartman has received is Alex Gonzalez the Cubs shortstop at the time. Gonzalez booted a routine grounder that should have ended the inning with a 3-1 Chicago lead and left the Cubs 3 outs away from their first World Series since 1945. Somehow, over the years Gonzalez has avoided the "goat" label that has hounded Bill Buckner for letting a crucial grounder roll through his legs in the 1986 World Series. The media has created a culture where Bartman was blamed and the Cubs players were let off the hook. This documentary cannot undo the legacy that ESPN has already given Bartman.

There should be a Gordon Beckham Day

I've officially decided that Gordon Beckham can do anything. After being called up midway through his first season in the minors, he looks as good a hitter as anyone else on the South side (.311 BA, 17 doubles, 5 HR, and 36 RBI in 52 games). That's not to mention that he already has a game-winning RBI--once an official MLB statistic--against the cross-town rival Cubs. Beckham has also been playing out of position since he arrived in Chicago and has made a job that spun Josh Fields in circles look relatively easy. On top of all that, the man can act. Check out Beckham when he starred in the hit '90s TV show Saved by the Bell.


Beckham circa 2009                       Beckham as teen prankster Zack Morris   

For real, though. Can we just take a second to appreciate Beckham's hairdo? I'm baffled that this hasn't gotten more attention.

What's that you ask? Is this fine specimen single? Eligible bachelorettes in Chicago can only hope. However, I'll let you be the judge. Click Here.

(Don't worry, Gordon. I would never call you "The Slayer")

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Tiger Wins!

I am not a huge fan of Tiger Woods. However, I do have the utmost respect and admiration for his abilities on the golf course. Today, Woods won his third Buick Open at Warwick Hills. His second Buick Open win in 2006 was his 50th victory on the PGA Tour. In the three years since, Tiger has amassed a Hall of Fame career, even with sitting out more than half of 2008 recovering from knee surgery. Dating from July 2006, Tiger has won 21 of the 36 events he has entered, including four major championships. Even in baseball, a .583 batting average would be unheard of. In golf, though, a 58.3% winning percentage is unfathomable. Byron Nelson won 18 of 31 events in 1945. Woods dubbed that season as "one of the greatest streak in all of sports", but Lord Byron's 1945 winning percentage is even smaller than Woods's in the last 36 tournaments. To put Woods's successes into more perspective, World Golf Hall of Fame member, Ben Crenshaw, won 19 Tour events, including two major championships, in his nearly 30 year career. Woods has done more than Crenshaw just since win number 50. Only two men won more on the PGA Tour than Tiger. They are Jack Nicklaus and Sam Snead. Woods is only four wins away from the Golden Bear, and he is 14 victories away from becoming the winningest player ever on Tour. Many PGA Tour members play dozens of tournaments over the course of many years and never win once. Expectations are high for Woods, especially for fans unfamiliar with the difficulty of winning a PGA Tour event, but Tiger continues to exceed expectations.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Whiz Kids II?

Bruce Weber's freshman class of 2009 are on campus and starting to ball it up at the Ubben basketball complex. The freshmen have decided to coordinate their jersey numbers for the next season. DJ Richardson will wear 1, Joe Bertrand 2, Brandon Paul 3, and Tyler Griffey will wear 42 and continue his Jackie Robinson tribute.
This is easily the most exciting class that Bruce has brought in since the Dee Brown, Deron Williams, James Augustine, Kyle Wilson, and Aaron Spears class of 2002. Considering how much hype these new kids are getting, they need a nickname. I was racking my brain to come up with something original, which is tough because there have been some great Illini team nicknames in the past, The Whiz Kids, Aaron Spears and the Funky Bunch, The Peoria Posse, Does anyone want to take the keys from Jamar, Richard McBride is my babies daddy, and The Flying Illini, are just a few examples.
All I could come up with was DJ and the Runners, The Three Musketeers and Tyler, or the Whiz Kids II. Hopefully they will progress this season, and eventually a decent nickname will come to the surface.
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