Sunday, March 16, 2008
While most of you spent your Spring Break in a warm weather location, I went north to drink heavily chill out in my parents’ basement after spending Friday night in St. Louis for the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament.
I found these noteworthy things during Spring Break.
5. SIU men’s basketball team won’t be joining the madness this March. Northern Iowa’s upset victory against the Salukis in the MVC Tourney ended SIU’s chance to extend its NCAA Tournament appearance streak to seven years. Instead, the Dawgs will get a second chance to dance Tuesday night as they host Oklahoma State.
4. It seemed as if everyone was talking about the possibility of the Cubs playing 81 games at U.S. Cellular Field in the event of the reconstruction of Wrigley Field. ChiSox manager Ozzie Guillen said he would embrace the move, adding it would give Cubs fans the opportunity to see a real ballpark. If it were to happen, it begs the question: how devastating would it be to chairman Jerry Reinsdorf’s ego if the Cubs drew more fans to The Cell than his beloved White Sox?
3. Watching Saturday’s Big Ten Tournament semifinal game between Michigan State and Wisconsin was reminiscent of SIU basketball. Painfully slow with a hint of poor officiating. The Badgers’ slow and methodical pace threw MSU in a funk, and to add insult to injury, MSU big men collecting their fifth fouls on three consecutive possessions aided Wisconsin in the come-from-behind victory.
2. WTF happened to Chicago radio while I was gone? Seriously, it sucks! The three major stations (103.5 KISS FM, 96.3 B-96, 107.5 WGCI) play the same 15-20 songs over-and-over again to the point where you could turn on each station and they would all be playing the same song.
• ‘GCI is still my place for hip-hop and R&B because it rolls out some of the best tracks by some of Chi-town’s finest. However, the station has lacked a legit morning show since ‘Crazy’ Howard McGee left town. As funny as Steve Harvey is, he alone cannot carry a nationally syndicated morning show. The station sorely misses the Bad Boyz, a night shift staple that consisted of Mike Love and ‘The Diz,’ who are now gone.
• If B-96 attaches itself to the rising stars of ‘Styles and Roman’ who host the afternoon show, the Killer Bee could find itself back at the top of Chicago radio. The morning show of Eddie, JoBo and Erica is nothing to what Eddie & JoBo (with the help of Karen Hand) had back in the 90s. It is clearly a knockoff of KISS FM’s morning show (which I’ll get to next).
• One of the things I look forward to when I come home is listening to DreX in the morning. Despite losing “Petersworth”, the show’s producer and one of the station’s most popular personalities, the show has continued to stay fresh. The addition of ‘The Lotion Hour’, a segment where callers discuss off-the-wall topics (ex.: my mom/dad uses me to hit on my friends, my man is a wuss in bed, witchcraft ruined my marriage, etc.) keeps the free spirit of that show alive.
1. This vacation’s local food recommendation is ‘Ghetto Fries’, which you can only find at Max’s Italian Beef on Western, south of Peterson. In addition to fries (topped with cheddar cheese, chopped and grilled onions, Italian Beef gravy, jalapenos, etc.) Max’s offers the second best Italian Beef sandwich in the city (Al’s Beef is #1). Trust me, the combo is worth the $8.19 I paid for lunch.
Damn, it sucks that school resumes in the morning.
Thursday, March 6, 2008
The SIU Salukis have their work cut out for them, needing to win the Missouri Valley Conference tournament to ensure its seventh consecutive NCAA tournament bid. However, it’s not uncharted waters for the Salukis.
SIU turned the trick in 2006 as the No. 2 seed in the Valley tournament, upending Evansville, Northern Iowa and Bradley.
The Salukis have six members of that squad in tow for this year’s run, including senior forwards Randal Falker and Matt Shaw and junior guard Bryan Mullins. ‘The Big 3’ will likely need to play near-flawless basketball if they want to win their second conference tourney.
If the 2008 version of SIU wants to win, it will have to play like 2006 team did. The Salukis limited opponents to an average of 49 points per game. That type of stifling defense, nicknamed ‘Floorburn U,’ will need to make its presence known this weekend.
When the Salukis have the ball, they will need to capitalize on each possession, limiting turnovers and taking smart shots. When SIU shoots when time is running down on the shot or game clock, it usually results in an ugly look that nets no points.
If games become a shootout, the Salukis will need to establish their inside-outside game. Ether Falker and Shaw must establish themselves on the block or Mullins, Wesley Clemmons and Joshua Bone must hit some early outside shots to extend the defense.
Either way, the SIU offense needs to be hitting on all cylinders.
A sense of urgency has returned to SIU basketball, and if it fails in St. Louis, the NIT will likely be waiting.
Monday, March 3, 2008
OK, so that isn't much of a realization. It's more like an admission. So anyway, this blog is going to take (another) new direction.
This will be my one and only blog. No more gimmicks, no more "other" blogs. By one and only, I mean one and only.
And by "one and only" I mean that I will still contribute to armchairgm.com as its Chicago Cubs beat writer, and to Jeff Engelhardt's Daily Egyptian Sporting News Sports Blog.
Now that I've gotten that out of the way, let's get down with the funky stuff, shall we?
You (the reader) will be getting a variety of posts on this site. Topics may include:
• SIU Athletics (Baseball, basketball, football…and whatever else I cover this semester)
• Chicago Cubs Baseball (100 Years Of Futility, and someone’s gotta write about it)
• Chicago Bears Football (From NFC champs to chumps, and back???)
• Chicago Bulls Basketball (If Chicago was a basketball town, John Paxson would have been chased out of there after failing to land Kobe)
• Sports Journalism (Including my pseudo-battle with Indianapolis Star columnist Bob Kravitz)
• Inside the life a college sports reporter (The life and times of being the low-man on the totem pole.)
• And finally, stuff you’ll find on any college kids livejournal or myspace blog (hopefully without depressing stuff)
• Oh and anything and everything in between.
Get it? Got it? Good!
Consider yourself dismissed!
Editor's Note: Blogger is f*cking up! Why can't I use editing tools? Where can I use my hyperlinks?
Someone's gonna get their @$$ whooped--OK enough censorship--FUCK!
My ArmchairGM stuff:
The DE Sports Blog:
Sunday, February 24, 2008
I'm starting to get a hang of balancing school and work, but I'll admit that it's tough because working at the DE is almost like having a full-time job. Maybe I'm too dedicated to the cause (because I'm always thinking about my next story) or maybe covering men's and women's swimming, track and field, tennis and golf might be considered quite a handful for a first job.
So when I realized we'd have a four-day weekend because C-Dale was "iced out" and that I wouldn't have a story in the newspaper 'til Tuesday, I just thought that I'd let loose for the first time this semester.
So basically I spent my Friday doing another fantasy baseball draft and getting Cubs bleacher tickets and my Friday night getting wasted. There was a lot of people I got to see this weekend that I hadn't seen in a while and that was cool.
I spent my Saturday afternoon watching SIU stomp Nevada during ESPNU's O'Reilly Auto Parts BracketBuster Saturday and that rocked watching SIU defeat a team with a projected second round pick who was averaging 20-something points per game and a 7-footer that is a projected first round pick in 2009.
Long story short, SIU guard Tyrone Green shut down Nevada's Marcelus Kemp and Randal Falker made UNR big-man JaVale McGee look like Patrick O'Bryant.
Unless there is a gigantic snowstorm that hits SIU overnight, it will be back to work for me and the rest of the student body in Carbondale.
Hey, life has to resume sometime.
Saturday, February 16, 2008
I've never 'live blogged' before, and something like this may inspire me to spawn a SIU-only sports blog. I've dabbled with a focused blog before, but the since-deleted Cubs blog failed because school and work got in the way. But when school, work and something I love come together, it might come together in a very awesome way.
Finals starts at 4 p.m.
SIU is going for its second consecutive MVC Championship, and is currently in second place with 519.5 points. Missouri State starts the day with 591 points. I talked to Coach Rick Walker last night, and he reminded me that this isn't unchartered water for the Salukis (pun intended). SIU entered the final day of the meet behind MSU last year and came back to win the whole darned thing.
Here's hoping the Salukis can do it again.
- Missouri State University- 591
- Southern Illinois University- 519.5
- Illinois State University- 461.5
- University of Northern Iowa- 240
- University of Evansville- 209
Currently, they're honoring the seniors. One of the things I love about college sports is honoring the seniors. Four years of the balancing act that is being a student-athlete is impressive and each member deserves to be honored.
The National Anthem has just been sung and the meet will soon be underway. Sidenote: I love SIU's pre-game jig is great. The only way to describe it is fun to watch. The one thing I do know is that it's done in a bunch of different languages and that in itself makes it cool!
MSU's Matana Wellman wins the 1650 yard freestyle with an un-official time of 1726.17. SIU's Karin Mullendore finishes 7 with 18:17.01.
4:32 PM SCOREBOARD UPDATE
SIU junior Kelly Dvorak wins the 200-yd backstroke with a time of 2:02.28. Dani Quarry finishes 6th with a time of 2:08.44.
4:49 PM SCOREBOARD UPDATE
SIU sophomore Therese Mattsson won the 100-yard freestyle, with teammates Isabel Madeira, Tovah Gasparovich and Emily Duerringer finishing in third, fourth and sixth place respectively.
5:02 PM SCOREBOARD UPDATE
And the question is: where can SIU get 118.5 points? Only time will tell.
SIU senior Julie Ju picks up a victory in the women's 200-yard breaststroke with a time of 2:15.99. Teammates Marcela Teixeira and Keli Kramer finished in third and seventh places respectively.
Blogger's Note: I guess now would be a good time to note that all times posted here are unofficial.
5:21 PM SCOREBOARD UPDATE
SIU swimmers Lisa Jaquez and Abby Blank finished in third and fifth places respectively in the 200-yard butterfly. Unfortunately for the Salukis, MSU's Breanna Hollar picked up the top spot with a time of 2:06.04. The Bears are inching towards the MVC title with only two events remaining.
5:38 SCOREBOARD UPDATE
Whispers of SIU being mathematically eliminated sadden me. I'm not sure SIU can make up 125.5 points in two events. If that is the case, congrats to MSU. Time for diving, that means time for an extended break.
We're back and we're live from Carbondale. The Salukis are down 125.5 points heading into the women's 400-yard freestyle relay. It's not over, but it's over enough to crown MSU as the champions.
SIU's 400 yard freestyle relay team finishes the meet on a strong note, finishing first with an unofficial time of 3:27.06.
6:42 FINAL SCOREBOARD UPDATE
Those are your official scores. Congrats to the Missouri State Bears--2008 State Farm/Missouri Valley Conference Champions in Women's Swimming & Diving.
That's it, for now. Goodnight, from Carbondale!
Friday, February 15, 2008
Since I am a journalism major, I guess it would only be right that I write a little post-game blog after Valentine’s Day. So here goes nothing:
First, I’d like to send my best wishes to Northern Illinois University. I know NIU was on my “enemies list” after hiring former SIU head coach Jerry Kill, but all jokes aside, my thoughts are with those that attend school in Some lunatic opened fire, wounding students and had me (and many of my friends and colleagues) worried about NIU. It’s sad that things like this continue to happen anywhere, let alone college campuses.
Next, I’d like to say V-Day went without much glitz or glamour. I didn’t do anything special, I didn’t even get a chance to eat my Fannie May chocolates that I got from my mother. The last two years, V-Day has just come-and-gone without much fanfare and I have not minded one bit!
I’d also like to take this opportunity to say that I hope that everyone had a happy V-Day! No matter if you hate it or love it, I hope that you have good days everyday—no matter what “holiday” is or is not taking place.
The majority of this blog now turns its attention to my Valentine, Erin Andrews.
Erin Andrews is almost perfect. I say almost because her only flaw is that she is a fan of the Green Bay Packers, but I can get over that (that coming from the guy who has fallen in love with girls who were Cardinals and White Sox fans.) Seriously, there’s something sexy about a girl who not only knows her sports, but can break it down and look good while doing so.
Anyway, I bring it up because of a newsworthy interview EA does with some Philadelphia sports talk radio station. Blogsite Awful Announcing has the perfect headline and some intriguing notes:
- “I’m sure the next hot blonde is going to walk in the door and take my job.” I guess that’s the nature of the beast, but EA is kidding herself if she doesn’t think she is the Gold Standard of sideline reporters
- A Michigan State student asked Andrews to leave the outgoing message on his cell phone. Another too little, too late idea after EA has left C’dale. Can you imagine my voicemail saying “Hey, this is Erin Andrews. Luis is busy right now, he’ll get back to you as soon as he can. Thanks for calling, bye…” I’d call my own phone just to hear her voice lol.
- “I’m absolutely dating…but I’m not exclusively dating.” YES! YES! YES! That means there’s just an off chance that on V-Day Erin was thinking “I wonder how that kid from Carbondale is enjoying his Valentine’s Day?” If you must know, I spent my day wishing EA was here with me.
- David Wright is a “good friend.” There’s one less guy to consider as competition. Take it from me, any time a girl says a guy is just a “good friend”, it means he’s the kind of guy that stays up late with her chatting about her life aspirations, how her day at work was and how crappy her exes are. Trust me, being a “good friend” is the kiss of death because no matter how perfect you are for her you’re just not good enough!
- “I’m looking for a guy that it’s okay that I’m on the road.” I’m OK that you’re on the road as long as you’re OK that I’m a 21-year-old college student who is turning into a stat junkie that spends too much time on Deadspin, The Big Lead, Awful Announcing and SalukiTalk.
All jokes aside, Erin Andrews rocks and I hope she finds happiness with whoever (especially if that whoever is me).
I’d like to end the Post-V-Day blog with a shout out to those who are deserving of one. So Happy Valentine’s Day to:
- My family: Mom, Roy, Titi, Mama, Kristin, Jessica and everyone near and far I didn’t mention. I hope you enjoyed your V-Day.
- My friends: I’d name you all, but if I forgot to name one of you then I’d probably end up in trouble—so I’ll cover you all with a blanket by saying “Happy V-Day to y’all!”
- Erin Andrews: see above!
- SIU basketball: Despite your 13-12 overall record, the SIU Arena is still my favorite non-alcohol serving place in Carbondale! Go Dawgs!
- and finally, my true love: the Chicago Cubs. If there’s anyone who needs a hug, it’s a team that hasn’t won the big one in 100 years. I often say that being a Cubs fan is like being in a tortured relationship, but if my significant other didn’t bring me the big one, they probably wouldn’t be my significant other for long (and you can take that in any context you’d like).
Goodnight, from Carbondale!
Thursday, February 14, 2008
I’ve come to the realization that previews aren’t always accurate, especially ones written before Spring Training even starts. Since projections made this early can be thrown out the window because of a trade or an injury or the meteoric rise of a hot prospect, what’s the point of making one?
So I’ve decided to make my Chicago Cubs 2008 preview a two part series. An initial look at the team begins with this issue, by breaking the team down position-by-position and looking at the team as constructed right now. Then, before Opening Day, I would look and have a more accurate preview—of course having looking at what happened during Spring Training would be beneficial to making a more accurate projection.
So, without further to do, my 2008 Cubs preview, Spring Training Edition.
The Cubs strength is with their corner infielders. The anchor of the infield defense is first baseman Derrek Lee. His combination of range, athletic ability and baseball IQ are part of the reason he is a three-time Gold Glove winner. Offensively, 2007 was a down year for Lee posting only 22 home runs and 82 RBIs, despite posting a .317 batting average and .400 on-base percentage.
Even though Chicago sports journalists report the contrary, Aramis Ramirez is improving on the defensive end, in fact, Ramirez might be the best defensive third baseman in the Central Division or—dare I say—the entire National League. Offensively, Ramirez is a game changer even though he only hit 26 HRs and 101 RBIs. From 2004-06, Ramirez averaged over 30 HRs and 100 RBIs and was one of the Cubs best hitters.
As for the middle infield, the Cubs have a couple of question marks—and for different reasons. Ryan Theriot enters 2008 as the Cubs starting shortstop after posting a .266/.326/.346 line in his first full season. His hustle and versatility are two things he has going in his favor, but the jury is still out on if he can be a productive everyday shortstop.
For now, Mark DeRosa enters the 2008 season as the Cubs everyday second baseman, even though 47% of his starts came at positions other than second base. “DeRo” posted a .307 batting average and an .848 OPS as a second baseman and proved to be the Super-Utility man that Cubs fans thought they were getting when he signed in Chicago. He might return to that role full-time in 2008 if the Cubs acquire another second baseman.
The trio of Alfonso Soriano, Felix Pie and Japanese import Kosuke Fukudome provide manager Lou Piniella with the athletic outfield he has been craving. Soriano enters his second year with the Cubs and should be in a more focused mindset since he won’t have to acclimate himself to a new team or a new position. Fukudome is the left-handed hitting, high-OBP outfielder the Cubs desperately needed to add to their outfield. His career .397 OBP should translate well to the major leagues. As for Pie, Cubs fans would feel better about him if the line-up 1 through 7 was stronger. Unfortunately, it isn’t. Pie’s redeeming quality is his stellar defense.
The ultimate wild card in the everyday line-up is catcher Geovany Soto, who provided the Cubs with their only home run of the post season. Soto is a solid defensive catcher who could move up to the 6 th spot in the order if he hits like he did at Triple-A. Backing him up is defensive specialist Henry Blanco, who might be one foul tip away from calling it a career.
The Cubs starting rotation is solid, but not spectacular. Starters 1 through 3 will have to carry the load if the Cubs want to repeat as NL Central champs. Carlos Zambrano will have to get off to a better start and keep his emotions in check, Ted Lilly will have to continue to be the pitcher that went 9-1 after Cubs losses and Rich Hill will need to find a way to go deeper in games. Jason Marquis, Ryan Dempster, Jon Lieber, Sean Marshall, Sean Gallagher and Kevin Hart will fight for the final two spots of the rotation and whoever loses out might end up traded before Opening Day.
Power arms in the bullpen have me convinced that the ‘pen is the stronger half of the Cubs pitching staff. Right-handers Bobby Howry, Carlos Marmol and Kerry Wood will compete for the closers role, and whoever doesn’t make the cut will be used as shut down set-up men—so it seems like a no-lose situation for the Cubs. The addition of hard-throwers Jose Ascanio and Tim Lahey give the Cubs additional depth.
The Cubs bench may not seem deep, but what they don’t have in players, they have in versatility. DeRosa can play each of the infield positions and both corner outfield spots, Theriot can play the middle infield spots and right field, and Matt Murton and Daryle Ward are players that can play both corner outfield positions, too. The wild card on the bench is Sam Fuld. The fan favorite known for his hustle and grit was the Arizona Fall League MVP and could end up as the Cubs everyday center fielder.
Of all the intangibles, the one that will stand out the most is the ongoing storyline of the 100-year drought. That story will be told in many different ways, by different sports writers and columnists and probably in different languages. It will be up to each man and woman up and down that organization to keep the players focused. Remember, you can’t be held accountable for what happened (or what hasn’t happened) for the last 100 years.
Note: This was originally posted by me on ArmchairGM.com