JRW and perception.

A lover of baseball since the age of 3, my affinity for the sport ratcheted up when I began tee ball, and it increased even more once I began my career on 85th and King Drive in South Side Little League’s “Minor League,” for baseball players in the age range of 7-9. After moving on to “Little League,” for 10-12 year-olds, and then “Senior League,” for 13-15 year-olds, I became a member of my high school’s varsity baseball team as a sophomore. “Traveling” baseball during the summer was basically a mandate in my household, so outside of Senior League play (by this time, for Hyde Park Kenwood Little League), another 30-40 games were on my schedule. I never noticed that as I had gotten older, the number of Black teammates I had decreased. It didn’t dawn on me that this was viewed as an epidemic of sorts by some scholars, historians, and journalists. Unfortunately, I ultimately figured this was the norm: If you’re Black and stick with baseball after the age of 12, Black teammates would be nearly as scarce as Nicki Minaj fans in a library on a Saturday afternoon. Oddly enough, it didn’t feel all that weird to look at my teammates and see nothing but White faces.

jrw

Jackie Robinson West Little League, 2014 US World Series Champions

While any team I played against was a rival, there was one particular adversary that really spoiled my milk as a kid: Jackie Robinson West Little League. We only played them in the district tournament, and usually it was in the championship game. Undoubtedly, “JRW” and South Side were the two best Little Leagues on the south side of Chicago, as evidenced by the fact that the two leagues played each other in both the 9-10 and 11-12 year-old tournament championship for five years straight. And while it was fun to play in the championship game, it wasn’t fun to lose. Every year. Sometimes, by an embarrassing margin. Simply put, Jackie Robinson West was always better than us, in just about every facet of the game of baseball.

It was a complete shock to learn that although South Side, JRW, and other all-Black Little Leagues like Rosemoor and Jesse Owens produced many talented baseball players, our community wasn’t seen as one that particularly cared about the sport. Some of that could be attributed to the ignorance of people who couldn’t fathom a group they perceived to be dim-witted and only interested in showing off their athletic prowess, to love a sport that has so often been called “a thinking man’s game.” We were “supposed” to play basketball or football, but not baseball. And if we did play baseball, we certainly didn’t take it seriously, because our future in athletics didn’t lie in that sport.

So holy hell, was I happy to see JRW playing in the 2014 Great Lakes championship game not even two weeks ago. I actually expected them to win, but just getting there was a huge accomplishment in its own. To see them come away victorious and do just a little to dispel the stereotypes that Blacks don’t care about baseball, all the way down to the youth, brought me immense joy.

Appearing in the Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA, would have been “enough” for me. Then again, if I were a member of JRW’s team, anything less than winning the entire tournament would have been a failure. Hitting. Pitching. Fielding. Throwing. Running. This JRW team had those five tools in their collective tool belt, and used them greatly as they won and won some more, beating Mo’ne Davis’ Taney (Philly, stand up) Little League team before beating a team from Las Vegas to be crowned United States champions. Sure, the task of beating South Korea in the Little League World Series title game, a team that had already won the Little League World Series twice before, was a tall one, but by this point I figured JRW was a force to be reckoned with. Despite the plentiful support from fellow Chicagoans, as well as a few prominent Black Major Leaguers, South Korea ended JRW’s dream run, beating them 8-4. Still, I’d like to believe the kids from JRW have acquired an absurd amount of juice because of their journey.

Who knows if what JRW accomplished will draw more Blacks to the sport. When Tiger was dominating golf in the late 90s and early 2000s, I assume that Black membership in golf increased, but probably not enough to be viewed as a revolutionary wave of new golfers. Venus and Serena Williams were not only good from the beginning of their respective tennis careers, but they brought much-needed flavor to a sport that had always been vanilla, figuratively and literally. Still, while one would probably not be able to argue that there wasn’t an increase in Black membership in tennis after the Williams’ rise to popularity, the average tennis camp would be predominantly White, I’m just assuming. Watch an NCAA tennis match and try to feign surprise when you see essentially an all-White squad, or one with no Blacks on it. Even when it comes to “counter-culture” sports such as skateboarding, black skater Stevie Williams’ success hasn’t exactly gotten many Blacks outside of his neighborhood and surrounding ones to follow his tracks to pro skating.

I do know that the media, both mainstream and underground, does a great job of demonizing and criminalizing young Black males in America, especially those who reside on the south side of Chicago aka the “inner city.” I do know that the JRW players owned this summer, despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of us weren’t thinking of them just three weeks ago. I do know that there is at least one example to point to when a person questions whether young Blacks are interested in baseball anymore.

Baseball, a sport somehow still seen as our nation’s pastime, is ready for JRW. It should be, at least. And if it’s not, JRW or a team like it should just bust the damn door down, anyway.

A rival that is now a champion…

I remember 2005 vividly. It was the year I lost Karen, and it was the last year before I became an adult “adult”. Also, the Chicago White Sox won the World Series. It was their first title in 88 years, and Sox fans could live knowing that their team won a World Series more recently than the Cubs. As a Cubs fan who lives on the south side of Chicago, I can tell you firsthand how hard it is to endure all of the trash talk and hatred for the Cubs shown by Pale Hose fans. It. Is. Terrible. The Cubs were going on 100 years without a title, and not only did the Sox win it all, they dominated for almost the entire regular season and postseason. Long-time, diehard Sox fans announced themselves at every corner, wearing a Sox cap, t-shirt, or even championship leather jacket. What made all of the newfound love of the Sox even more painful was that I knew the Cubs weren’t close to a championship. Although I had friends who could tell their children and grandchildren that they had witnessed something as large as a White Sox World Series victory, it hurt because I knew as a Cubs fan, that I would never hear the end of it.

Then, 2006 came. I finally turned 21, enjoyed the “Summer of Erik”, and did everything in my power to do nothing for most of the year. October ruined everything. It was bad enough that the Cubs had a horrible season, costing then-manager Dusty Baker his job. The Cardinals were in the World Series, playing the Detroit Tigers. I dealt with the Cards in the World Series before, but I knew the Red Sox would quickly dispose of them in 2004, and they did. I didn’t have the same faith in the Tigers, though. Of course, the Tigers failed on epic levels. The Cardinals were 2006 World Series champs. The team that I dislike even more than the Ohio St. Buckeyes were champions. Again, the Cubs weren’t. The Cubs would go on to sign Lou Piniella to be their manager and sign Alfonso Soriano to be their…um…player. I wasn’t too fond of the Piniella and Soriano signings, but a Cardinals championship infuriated me beyond belief. I despise the St. Louis Cardinals and anyone who even so much as says “St. Louis Cardinals” without following it with “suck”.

The same goes for the Packers. I loathe everything about them. Their colors. Lambeau Field. The weather in Green Bay. The fact that the Super Bowl trophy is called the Vince Lombardi, and not George S. Halas Trophy. When I was younger, Brett Favre, Robert Brooks, Antonio Freeman, Dorsey Levens, Gilbert Brown and a cast of others made my life miserable twice during the regular season. I never figured the Bears would win; I just wanted the score to be reasonable.

It felt good when Lovie Smith took over as Bears head coach and said he wanted to beat the Packers first and foremost. The Bears have actually done a pretty good job in that department since Smith took over. Unfortunately, they didn’t get the job done in week 17. All the Bears had to do was win, and keep the Packers out of the playoffs. One thing “analysts” kept saying that I agreed with was that nobody would want to play the Packers in the playoffs. Right on cue, the Bears lost. The Packers were going to the playoffs. Uh-oh.

Postseason play arrived, and Bears fans on my Twitter timeline announced that they were pulling for the Packers to win their divisional round game, meaning the Bears would play the victorious Seahawks instead of the Eagles for a chance to play in the NFC Championship Game. Seriously. A Bears fan, cheering for the Packers? Suddenly, Bears fans adopted the logic of Cubs fans. “Well, we didn’t keep them out of the playoffs, so it will be fun to eliminate them” Smart. Ignore the fact that the Packers were simply a better team, why don’t you. You know the story of the NFC title game: Rodgers comes out on fire. Cutler hurts his knee. Collins sucks. Hanie rocks. 3rd and 3 end around. Ballgame.

I have an allegiance to the Bears, and not the NFC. I hoped the Steelers would win, because I just didn’t want to watch the Bears play the Super Bowl XLV champs next season. Roethlisberger’s off-field transgressions had nothing to do with who I wanted to win and lose. Ben is one of 53 Steeler players, even though I’m sure most don’t realize that.

It was hard to watch the Super Bowl, knowing the Bears were 8 points away from being there–Cutler’s balky knee or not. When Roethlisberger threw that final incomplete pass, I admit, my heart sank. The Packers are Super Bowl champs, and I hate it with every fiber of my sports-crazed being.

P.S. I miss Karen and the Moondance Woman!!!

P.P.S. I propose the Cubs trade Matt Garza for Jay Cutler.

Do YOU accept Julius Peppers as the Bears savior?

I sure as hell don’t, but I know more than a few who do. Defensive end Julius Peppers received a 6-year contract worth potentially $91.5 million in March. He will make $20 million this

Make me eat my words, Mr. Peppers...

 season and $40.5 million over the next 3. Peppers came off a 2009 season with the Carolina Panthers in which he registered 42 tackles, 11 sacks, 5 forced fumbles, 2 interceptions, and 5 passes deflected. His signing wasn’t totally expected, but was more than welcome by Bears fans, including myself. However, unlike one blogger who wrote that so far, Peppers has earned every penny, I disagree. Not vehemently, but I definitely feel that Peppers isn’t quite the savior that so many think he has been up to this point.

Some say that Peppers has revitalized the Bears defense, and that’s true, to an extent. The Bears defense in 2009 was horrible by Bears standards. They were 13th in pass defense, 23rd in rush defense, 21st in points allowed per game, and 17th in defense overall. Middle linebacker Brian Urlacher missed the final 63 quarters of the season, the secondary was in shambles, and the defensive line left much to be desired. Add on an incompetent offense that I’m sure was near the top of the league in three-and-outs, and that also led to the Bears defense spending entirely too much time on the field.

The Bears overpaid for Peppers, but they almost had to, coming off yet another disappointing season. With Peppers in a Bears uni through 11 games, the Bears defense has greatly improved. They are 17th in pass defense, 2nd in rush defense, 2nd in points allowed per game, and 4th in defense overall. Their pass defense is in the middle of the pack mainly because of the Cover 2 scheme they play, and not because teams just air it out on them. Despite ranking 13th in sacks and 16th in opponents’ completion percentage, they’re ranked 1st and 2nd in opponents’ passer rating and touchdowns thrown, respectively.

Still, I refuse to give Peppers all or even most of the credit for the Bears defensive resurgence. Currently, Peppers has 34 tackles, 6 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, one interception, 3 tackles for loss, and one blocked kick. Through 9 games though, Peppers had only 2 sacks. Yes, I know, defensive ends (especially now) are expected to do more than sack the quarterback. With tight ends and running backs playing a bigger role in the passing game, defensive ends are now expected to be able to drop into coverage at times to defend the pass. They’re expected to help with run support. Some, like Peppers, play on the special teams unit, especially in situations where a field goal is being attempted. Despite all of the added responsibilities given to today’s defensive ends, Peppers is supposedly still one of the game’s elite. Peppers racked up double-digit sacks in 6 of his first 8 seasons in Carolina despite constant double-teaming, being held, chop blocked and high-lowed. He also wasn’t surrounded by as much talent on the defensive side of the ball as he is now with Chicago. So how did he only have 2 sacks through 9 games? Two of those games coming at home with him lined up across from rookie left tackles in which he was shut out in the sack department? I have no clue, but I know through 9 games, 2 sacks isn’t enough for a guy getting paid $20 mil this year. Panthers fans and others have said he doesn’t have a high motor, and I sort of believe that. It’s arrogant of Bears fans to act as if Panthers fans who’ve always lived in Carolina don’t know what they’re talking about. Some of them not only saw Peppers in a Panthers uni, but also in a UNC and Southern Nash Senior HS uni, which is also in North Carolina. 

By the way…where’s the credit for Brian Urlacher? Lance Briggs? Israel Idonije, Anthony Adams, and Henry Melton? DJ Moore? Charles Tillman? What about Rod Marinelli, the highly respected defensive coordinator? Don’t they have anything to do with the Bears defense getting back on track this season?

You can bring up the passes deflected, force fumbles, Peppers inducing holding and false start calls, or the “near sacks”, but real-life sacks matter most when talking about top-notch defensive ends. The Bears gave Peppers that huge contract mainly because of his ability to sack the quarterback. I thought that the Bears would be somewhere near the top 5 in sacks after Peppers signing. The front four’s ability to get the quarterback down (whether by sacking him or simply knocking him down) is what made the Bears D so ferocious in 2006, when they were 8th in the league in sacks and 11th against the pass. The front four’s constant pressure on the QB makes the Cover 2 work. Michael Vick was sacked 4 times, which is great, but Vick has been one of the most sacked QBs during his career, and the Eagles offensive line is not the Redskins of the 80s, or Cowboys of the 90s. It’s porous. Peppers picked up 3 sacks against the Dolphins, which again, was impressive until you consider the team he was up against. The Dolphins offensive line was decimated before the game, notably Jake Long (arguably the best left tackle in the NFL), who just days earlier had been involved in speculation about his availability for the rest of the season. Then the Dolphins center got hurt during the game, and chaos ensued. The Bears registered 6 sacks, but I also forgot to mention that the Dolphins started their 3rd-string QB, Tyler Thigpen, and handed the ball off to their top 2 running backs seven times despite never being more than two scores away from tying the game. Bears fans may cry, saying I’m being “nitpicky” or not giving them their due credit, but the facts are facts. The Bears beat up on an already wounded team.

The Bears are a good, but not great team. “Analysts” aren’t sold on them because they’re being objective, and not biased towards the home team, like most Bears fans are doing when they speak so highly of Peppers contributions. The Bears could’ve very easily started the season 0-4. Calvin Johnson’s inability to “complete the process”, Dallas and Green Bay imploding, along with the debacle against the Giants could’ve made that a reality. A crappy win against the crappy Panthers. Back-to-back home clunkers against the lowly Seahawks and Redskins. Barely beating the Bills, and benefitting from Favre being Favre. Running into Tyler Thigpen and fighting off a furious 4th quarter rally by Vick’s Eagles are how the Bears have gotten to December 3, 2010 with a 8-3 record and injected themselves into the conversation about the NFC’s best. Again, I’m not reaching. I’m just stating facts.

Clay or Julius for NFL Defensive POY? Mike Mulligan says Julius...

I won’t say that Peppers has been a bust, but I also won’t give him the savior label, either. No, I don’t care about his November Defensive Player of the Month Award. The Bears defense has way too much talent to focus on one guy’s play. That’s the beauty of the Bears D; its depth. Despite their high level of play as a unit, they still don’t invoke images of the ’86 Bears D, or even the ’06 Bears D. There’s still room for improvement. Peppers can play much better than he has, and I hope that Bears fans expect more out of the $20 million man. He doesn’t get paid so that others can benefit from his presence. He gets the big bucks because he’s viewed as one of the best, if not the best, defensive ends in the NFL. When Peppers starts playing on a consistent basis like the healthy version of Jevon Kearse, I’ll give him credit for doing more than drawing a holding call here, and forcing a fumble there. Mr. Peppers, the crow will remain uneaten…for now…

P.S. I miss Karen and the Moondance Woman!!!

P.P.S. Sarah, tell your girlfriend I’m coming for her…

Whites and racism, and Larry Rothschild…

I can’t really blame them.

On October 23, Chicago Sun-Times staff reporter Stefano Esposito wrote an article titled, “Blacks, Latinos agree racism a ‘major problem,’ whites say no”. According to a University of Chicago study released the week before, 69% of African-Americans and 51% of Latinos considered racism to be a “major problem”. Only 29% of whites and 32% of Asian-Americans expressed the same sentiments.

U. Of C. PoliSci professor Cathy J. Cohen hinted that this might be President Obama’s fault, saying, “This is another missed opportunity on the part of the president” and “…his unwillingness to lead around issues of race, instead of just reacting to crises, has left a void there that has been filled by the right wing, in many ways.”

Really? It’s funny how so many political pundits have come out of nowhere to opine on Obama’s administration. Whether criticizing his spending, policies, or the trips he takes, glorified bloggers and analysts have taken shots whenever given the chance. Suddenly, because there is a president of African descent, he’s supposed to be the man who leads this country towards racial harmony? What happened to questioning the agendas of the other 42 presidential administrations? Didn’t they all feel obligated in some way to tackle the issue of racism in this country? I guess some people think that only a president of color would take the initiative and address the issue of racism in this country.

After I read the article, I discussed it with a good friend of mine who said he wasn’t surprised that so few whites still view racism as a major problem in the US. To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t either. I don’t think that most whites are totally oblivious to the fact that racism still exists. But, how can whites feel that racism is still something to be seriously worried about when (I’m assuming) most of them haven’t ever faced racial discrimination? I asked a few of my white friends if they’d ever been discriminated against because of their race, and they all said they hadn’t. I asked them if they knew of any white friends or family members who had been victims of racism, and once again, they said no. I’d like to think that the same goes for most white people. So, it isn’t very hard to understand how so many whites don’t view racism as a serious problem in the US. I’m not saying that every minority has a Rodney King story, because I surely don’t (although I have been on the receiving end of nigger about a dozen times and some unwarranted stops by the police). However, racism against minorities in this country has been well-documented. In that, I don’t even include the unfairness aimed towards women for so many years. I know that there are some whites who’ve been discriminated against, but I feel that sometimes we (minorities) make them feel as if it doesn’t count because there’s not exactly a long history of whites facing racism in this country. It’s not right, but it’s definitely realistic.

With President Obama in office, I’m sure a good number of whites think that his election means that we’re finally getting past the racism that has plagued this country for hundreds of years. Hell, many people of other races felt the same way after November 4, 2008. Whites came out in droves to support Obama, but I feel that some of that was a mirage. If you don’t understand my point, look up the 1982 California gubernatorial race between black LA mayor Tom Bradley and George Deukmejian. About the only difference between the 2008 presidential race and that one was the number of young people who came out in support of a particular candidate.

Are there whites who feel that racism is a major problem in the US? Yes. Are there more whites who feel that racism is no longer a major problem in the US? In my opinion, yes. However, before you accuse white people of being insensitive to racism in this country, put yourself (unless you’re white) in their shoes.

Send me a postcard from the Bronx.

Recently, former Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild left the team to take the same position with the New York Yankees. Several Cubs fans voiced their displeasure on Twitter, which I found absolutely…normal. One person tweeted that it would be hard to say that Rothschild “sucks” because the Yankees signed him. Wow. I guess Jason Giambi, Rondell White, Carl Pavano, and now AJ Burnett mean nothing to him. To “mourn” the loss of someone who enjoyed marginal success in a Cubs uni is nothing out of the ordinary for most Cubs fans. When Mark Derosa was traded to the Cleveland Indians, I thought that Cubs Nation was going to implode. I had almost forgotten that Derosa didn’t post a line of .330/40/130 and lead the Cubs to a World Series title. Derosa, good? Of course. Derosa, great? Child, please.

I never blamed Rothschild for Kerry Wood and Mark Prior’s many injury woes. But I do blame him for not helping them make adjustments to avoid some of those injuries. I blame Rothschild for not discovering sooner that Prior didn’t have perfect mechanics, as so many analysts said when Prior came out of USC, hailed by many as “the greatest college pitcher of all-time”. I blame Larry for not working with Wood on keeping his walks and pitch count down. It’s not Larry’s fault that Carlos Zambrano is a 6’5″, 250-lb nutcase. It is Larry’s fault, however, that Z’s skills seem to have regressed since your favorite GM, Jim Hendry, gave him an extension in 2007. You’d think that a pitching coach would be able to help a pitcher with Zambrano’s repertoire and skill set become more than a serviceable starting pitcher. 34 wins over the last 3 seasons is simply unacceptable. I blame Larry for Carlos Marmol’s inability to get 3 outs in a row on a consistent basis. I blame Larry for Ryan Dumpster, after 2008. You know, for Dumpster being just an above-average pitcher like he’s been his entire career. Larry should take part of the blame for the incompetence of Aaron Heilman, John Grabow, and Jeff Samardzija, too.

Larry Rothschild wasn’t the worst pitching coach ever, but he’s certainly not Leo Mazzone, Dave Duncan, Rick Peterson, or Mel Stottlemyre, either. I really wish that Cubs fans would stop lamenting the loss of everyone not named Todd Hundley, Dusty Baker, and Milton Bradley because it’s insanely annoying. Good riddance, Larry, and good luck with Mr. Burnett and those damn “Joba Rules”.

P.S. I miss Karen and the Moondance Woman!!!

P.P.S. Yes, you heard right. I am indeed a gangster…

The Cubs won’t win another World Series unless…

Yes, I know, as do all Cubs fans. It’s been 102 years since the Cubs last won a World Series. Hell, the Cubs haven’t appeared in a World Series in 65 years. Whether you want to blame a stupid billy-goat or black cat, Steve Bartman, or Milton Bradley, the Cubs just haven’t been able to win it all in the last century.

But…the Cubs aren’t completely hopeless or hapless. They’ve infused some youth into the big league club in the form of promising homegrown stars like Geo Soto, Carlos Marmol, Tyler Colvin, and Starlin “I Hate Fidel” Castro. Some big money will come off the books after the 2011 season, and the Ricketts seem intent on turning the Cubbies around for good. I see a World Series title on the horizon, but not before the Cubs resolve these issues.

  • Do away with “Go Cubs Go”.  First, let me say that I love fight songs, and I never feel prouder to be a fan than when I’m singing one. As soon as I hear “On the banks of the Red Cedar/There’s a school that’s known to all…”, my Sparty! pride takes over and I start singing at the top of my lungs like an oblivious drunk. It’s in my opinion that fight songs be relegated to collegiate athletics, though. It just doesn’t look right to see thousands of middle-aged adults singing along after a Cubs win. In addition, fight songs generally have much history. Why is it that “Go Cubs Go” doesn’t, considering the Cubs have been around for over 100 years?
  • No more guest 7th inning stretch conductors.   Why? Why? Why? Just play a tape of Harry Caray, for Tom’s sake. What the hell does Jeff “Wrigley Stadium” Gordon have to do with the Cubs? Or Ozzy Osbourne? Or the kid who played McLovin in “Superbad”? I’m just flat-out sick of the outsiders taking part in what I believe to be a hallowed Cubs tradition. Even the celebrities who claim to be diehard Cubs fans are a joke. Dear Jon Cusack, Wrigley is not spelled “W-r-i-g-g-l-y”. Sincerely, Erik
  • Get rid of the “Bleacher Bums”. Try to enjoy a July day game in the bleachers at Wrigley and you’ll figure out by the 3rd inning why I feel this way.
  • Amass more talent. Stop trying to sell talent and history.   The ivy was great. When I was 8. Now? Eh. I always thought the manual scoreboard was ridiculously dope, but I’m a little irked that it’s one of the best features of the shabby-looking Wrigley Field. I’m sorry, but the “old, rustic” look would look a lot better if the Cubs won more. Damn the “Friendly Confines”. If a new, plush stadium means more revenue, to be spent on better players, then so be it. I couldn’t care less anymore about the fact that the Cubs franchise has decided to “keep it real” by leaving Wrigley Field the way it is. Eliminating the trough-style men’s bathrooms simply just ain’t enough.
  • Start capitalizing on national appeal.   Who doesn’t like the Cubs? Well, Pale Hose fans don’t, but they don’t count. Since WGN is a national network, people all over the Cubs can watch the Cubs, and have been for decades. I’ve never seen a Cubs road game without hearing a few thousand Cubs fans in the stand at some point. There’s only one Major League Baseball franchise that’s more popular in the US than the Cubs, and that’s the New York Yankees, who also happen to be the most recognizable pro sports franchise in the world. So why haven’t we been able to enjoy the success that Yankees fans have? Why are Yankees hats fashionable, but Cubs fitteds aren’t? Why can’t the Cubs win so much that it literally sickens people? I assume that there are people who are ashamed to identify themselves as Cubs fans while living somewhere besides Chicago, but come on. If Cubs fans wanted, we could destroy the Yankee fan base. Granted, a winning (titles, not games or divisions) Cubs team would attract bandwagoners, but such is the cost of being the boss.
  • Cubs fans shouldn’t be allowed to own guns or any instrument that could cause bodily harm.   When Milton Bradley said Cubs fans are negative, he wasn’t lying. The average Cubs fan is the most pessimistic, downbeat, off-putting, discouraging, cynical and gloomy sports fan that I’ve ever met. The Cubs are in a lose-lose situation. Play well, and the fans are waiting for the inevitable collapse. Play poorly, and the fans are waiting for things to get even worse. I give credit to the optimistic Cubs fans, but that “Wait till next year” crap is just plain stupid, annoying, and played out. One of my friend’s ex-girlfriend asked him, “If Cubs fans jumped off a bridge, would you?” He answered, “If we had just lost our fifth straight game, I’d be the first in line.”

The Cubs title drought will continue until the franchise decides to take some initiative and address these problems, once and for all…

P.S. I miss Karen and the Moondance Woman!!!

P.P.S. Strawberry Crush and Froot Loops should never mix…

So baseball and hockey players aren’t thugs?

This doesn't look like a friendly gathering to me...

I was engaged in a conversation with an older, white gentleman this morning on the topic of character in sports. The gentleman, who I shall refer to as “Steve”, opined that all across the board, athletes seem to act as if they don’t have a moral compass. It was basically a slight to my generation, which I ignored because of a later comment. “I watch baseball and hockey much more now because those leagues don’t seem to embrace thugs the way basketball and football do.” This is the one that caught me by surprise.

My immediate response was, ‘So baseball and hockey players aren’t thugs?’ He had a puzzled look on his face, and answered, “If you’re talking about beanball wars and hockey fights, that’s a part of their cultures.” Every once in a while, someone will offer reasoning, which sounds like nothing more than excuses. This was one of those occasions.

I cannot lie; Steve was right, to an extent. Retaliation and brawling have been a part of baseball for decades, and a good number of people inside and outside the sport of hockey feel that fighting is almost necessary. A star hitter that gets hit in the back with a 95 mph fastball is not a surprise, especially if he’s had a good day at the plate. Hockey teams, in every league, sign players just because of their physical presence, and ability to drop the gloves at any given time during a game. Some hockey players fight to fire up their teams, or to “avenge” a fallen player. They are usually given the title of “enforcer”, or “goon”.

My next question left Steve with more of a “stuck” look on his face. ‘Do you think that you feel this way because basketball and football are predominantly Black and more hip sports?’ “No” was his reply.

I am a 24 year-old, Black male, born and raised on the South Side of Chicago. Baseball is and has always been my favorite sport, and I would rather watch a 1-0 pitcher’s duel than a 120-118 NBA game any day of the week. Yet, I think that basketball and football have gotten a bad rep, because of a few “thuggish” characters. Ron Artest and his role in the “Malice at the Palace”, and Adam “Pac-Man” Jones are just two of many examples of professional basketball and football players that don’t seem to want to dispel the notion that the NBA and NFL are heavily populated by mostly overpaid gangbangers playing a sport.

Let’s be real. Baseball and hockey are two tedious sports. For the most part, its participants are mostly White. Even though there are a good number of European (which is obviously different from Caucasian) hockey players in the NHL, they still fall under the category of White players in our eyes. Even with the increase of Latino players in MLB, the majority of fans, front-office employees, coaches and managers are White. While Alexander Ovechkin may be the most exciting athlete in all of professional sports, he doesn’t exactly scream “cool”, especially in the minds of many casual hockey fans. He got a shoutout in a Wale verse, but I’m guessing that happened because Wale is from D.C. Baseball hasn’t really changed its marketing scheme over the last several years. You could say that the MLB: The Show series is popular with kids and young adults, but its success will most likely never reach the levels of the Madden and NBA 2K series. Hockey has many prestigious awards, like the Art Ross Trophy (MVP) and Lady Byng Trophy (sportsmanship), and baseball, despite falling behind football and basketball in the US in terms of viewership, is still viewed as America’s “National Pasttime”.

Granted, basketball and football have great histories and have had great players and coaches, but the overall view of the two sports now is that they run rampant with young, obnoxious, aggressive, wannabe gangster rappers. Even Ben Roethlisberger is not the stereotypical star White quarterback, and not because of his past transgressions. Basketball purists often voice their disgust with the lack of fundamentals practiced in the game now, and are even more frustrated that so many players are deciding that they don’t need to better themselves by staying in college for more than one year. Never mind the fact that at 18, they should be allowed to pursue whatever legal profession they choose. It’s seen as disrespectful to the professional game, and to nationwide institutions of higher learning. I just don’t believe that fans and analysts would have the same view of the two sports if most of its players, especially stars, were White.

Good ol' hockey "tradition"!!!

Yes, there are plenty of scraps (95% of them minor) during the course of a basketball and football game. A basketball player might take exception to a hard foul, or a defensive lineman might respond with a punch to the helmet of an offensive lineman or blocker that cut him. Why are those seen as primitive acts? Why is rap music even mentioned as a potential reason for the aggressiveness in these sports? Yes, there are more than a few White rap fans, but when one thinks of the culture behind the music, most would think of young Black males.

When Ozzie Guillen openly acknowledged that he instructed one of his pitchers to hit an opposing player with a pitch, the media didn’t really do much to call him out for it. Actually, he was called out for admitting that he did so, and not for endorsing that type of behavior from one of his players. The pitcher was even demoted for failing to do so! Suppose instead of getting hit in the leg or upper body, the opposing player were hit in the head? Would that have been seen as one of the unwritten rules of baseball? In the world of organized crime, wouldn’t what Ozzie ordered his pitcher to do be considered a hit? More times than not, hockey players actually agree to fight before a game, or faceoff. I’ve seen a clip on YouTube ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mIf9tJATX9k ) where George Laraques literally asked Raitis Ivanans, before a faceoff, if he wanted to fight. After Ivanans agreed, he wished him luck. I suppose some hockey fans would say that’s an example of the sport’s classiness, but what if one of them were to hit their head on the ice? What if one punch were to end one of their careers prematurely? The fight came at a critical point during the game, but was it really necessary? Do hockey fans ever feel frustrated that there’s basically one guy on every team that is getting paid to not only fight, but to sometimes instigate fights? As I stated earlier, these players are called enforcers and goons. Don’t those titles usually belong to…gangsters and thugs? If you complain about a power forward or running back being overpaid, you should do the same for enforcers and goons. Call out baseball managers like Tony LaRussa, who have a reputation for ordering retaliation when he feels one of his players has been purposely thrown at or hit. Most pitchers have good control, but none of them are perfect. Ask anyone who’s played baseball past the age of 13 if they’ve ever been spiked, or anyone who’s played past Pee Wee hockey if they’ve ever been cross-checked or boarded. Most times, this is not just something that comes along with the territory of playing the sport. It’s intentional.

There are thuggish characters in a lot of sports. However, I find it alarming that so many choose to identify basketball and football players with such characteristics. I’ll admit, there’s more showboating in the two, while baseball and hockey are more reserved. Chad Ochocinco (wide receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals) has made a name for himself with his antics. Chris Andersen (power forward for the Denver Nuggets) is covered with tattoos and seems to revel in the fact that he is despised on the court. But there’s also Steve Avery, Matt Cooke, Ovechkin (to an extent), Vicente Padilla, Pedro Martinez (again, to an extent), and a plethora of baseball managers that are responsible for the foolishness that occurs in hockey and baseball at times. So I ask you again Steve. Baseball and hockey players aren’t thugs?

P.S. I miss Karen!!!

P.P.S. My McGriddle tastes awfully…kushy

Dear Tim Tebow fans…

A Tebow fan's view of a Florida football game...

Jarvis Moss, Reggie Nelson, Percy Harvin, DeShawn Wynn, Brandon Spikes, Derrick Harvey, Joe Haden, Riley Cooper, Andre Caldwell, Jeffrey Demps, Aaron Hernandez, Major Wright, David Nelson, Michael Pouncey, and Phil Troutwein. Do you know who they are? They were Tim Tebow’s teammates at the University of Florida from 2007-09, when Tebow established himself as “the greatest college football player ever”. Defensive linemen, linebackers, cornerbacks, safeties, running backs, wide receivers, tight ends and offensive linemen. 5-star recruits, All-Americans, All-SEC, NFL Draft picks, and even an NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year is in the bunch. I mention them to let you Tebow fans know that he did not single-handedly win football games, conference championships, and national championships.

I am not a “Tebow-hater”. I believe he was a great college football player. His games were usually a joy to watch, because of the enthusiasm and effort he played with. Couple that with the fact that I’ve loved UF football since the Steve Spurrier days, and it’s easy to see why I didn’t mind seeing him succeed on the collegiate level, even though I’m a huge Michigan and Michigan St. football fan.

HOWEVER, all of the Tebow love is seriously starting to annoy me. What makes it worse is that most of it doesn’t even make sense.

I’ve heard many say that Tebow won 2 national titles. True, he was part of 2 national title teams, but he was Chris Leak’s backup in 2006. He definitely was a piece of the puzzle, but nowhere near a large piece. Someone once argued with me that Florida wouldn’t have won the 2006 title game without him. Word? Florida beat Ohio State (how I loathe the Buckeyes), 41-14. Tebow ran and threw for a touchdown. That touchdown pass? A one-yarder before the end of the second half to put Florida ahead, 34-14. Clutch.

Have you Tebow fans ever heard of Alex Smith? He was just as much a beneficiary of an offensive scheme designed to take advantage of his strengths as Tebow was while playing for Urban Meyer, who transformed Smith from a good WAC quarterback into the #1 NFL Draft pick in the 2005 draft. The shotgun, spread-option offense made Smith look like a world-beater, and it’s done the same for Tebow. While Smith did not play in arguably the best football conference in the country, or even a very good one, he was seen as a more prototypical quarterback coming out of college than Tebow. How has he done in the NFL, you ask? Next question.

Please, don’t bring up “The Speech”. What irks me about it is that it’s given Tebow fans one more reason to bring up how great of a leader he is. Excuse me, but I’m 99.9% sure that Tebow is not the first college football player (or college athlete, period) to deliver an emotional, fiery speech to his team and its fans after a disappointing loss to an inferior opponent. I don’t really have a problem with the speech. As a matter of fact, I actually thought it was great. I became irritated when ESPN and damn near every other sports and news outlet hyped the speech up to be on the level of the Ten Commandments. The speech has even been engraved on a plaque and sits outside of the Florida Field football facility. Wow.

"The Speech"

We get it. Tebow is a great guy. He’s got intangibles. He was a Christian missionary in the Philippines. Despite being home-schooled, he appears to be perfectly normal. He’s an uber-respectful, God-fearing virgin. There is a bill pending in the Alabama Legislature, called “The Tim Tebow Bill”, which would allow home-schooled students in the state of Alabama to play sports for their local high school. But…um…that does not equate to success on a football field, nor does it equate to having a productive professional football career. A speech does not win Super Bowl rings, playoff games, division games, or even mean that he’ll have good quarters. It seems like everytime anyone offers criticism of Tebow, it’s met with “You’re a Tebow hater!” People who can’t accept that Tebow isn’t perfect obviously don’t know much about football, and are most likely current students or alumni of UF. Granted, some of the criticism is unnecessary and a little harsh, but like every other athlete in the public eye, he’ll be praised as well as “dissed”. Stop being sensitive.

I made a point on Twitter yesterday about Myron Rolle and NFL teams shying away from him because they aren’t sure whether or not he’s focused on playing football. Rolle is a safety and graduate of Florida State University. He earned a Bachelor’s in Exercise Science in 2.5 years and earned a Rhodes Scholarship for his success in the classroom. Rolle chose to forgo his final season at FSU to study at Oxford, to earn an M.A in medical anthropology. Instead of attempting to help his draft stock, he took one step closer to becoming a physician and neurosurgeon and doing what he could to dispel the notion that Black athletes from the inner-city are only after the money. He has dreams of going to poverty-stricken countries and utilizing his degree to provide health care to their citizens. He’s acknowledged that he’s heard he will be a 5th or 6th round pick, which usually doesn’t guarantee a guy a spot on an NFL roster. Even though he’s extremely talented on the field, and has shown it during his career at FSU, some NFL front offices aren’t sure whether professional football would be his top priority.

Myron Rolle, safety and Rhodes Scholar

While Tebow gets praised and is glorified for ending every speech/presser/comment with “God bless”, his intangibles, and missionary work, Rolle has gone without nearly one-quarter of the same fanfare for over a year. Tebow fans cry out how selfless he is. How else could you describe potentially sacrificing millions of dollars to study abroad, with the hopes of helping impoverished people? Rolle didn’t play football for a “mid-major”. He played for FSU, and the great head coach Bobby Bowden and defensive coordinator, Mickey Andrews. And yet, his accomplishments have been lost among the latest stupid, heinous act committed by Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, Mel Kiper’s hair, and of course, Tim Tebow, and all that is great about him.

Tebow fans, practice logic. Understand that everyone in the limelight will be criticized at one point or another, whether it’s warranted or not. Even Michael Jordan received his fair share of criticism throughout his playing career, and even after. Go ahead and jump on the Denver Broncos bandwagon and cheer for every 3-yard run and jump pass thrown by Tebow. If he has a successful career, it will be mostly because of his talent. If he fails, it will be mostly because of his talent. Please, please, please…understand that just because you hear/read someone express that they are not a Tebow fan, does not mean they are a “Tebow-hater”…

P.S. I miss Karen!!!

P.P.S. Go Bulls! Go Blackhawks!

I’m a “different” type of Cubs fan…

As I mentioned in my last post, I am 24 years old, and from the South Side of Chicago. I’m a diehard Cubs fan. Around 20-30 times a year, I can be found in Aisle 425 at Wrigley Field. Cubs cap, shirt or hoody, no peanuts, no beer, totally into the game. I stand for the national anthem and the 7th inning stretch. I scream my lungs out when a good play is made, and I boo when I see a travesty or injustice on the field. I want what every other Cubs fan wants, 162 games a year: WINS.

Yet, I consider myself to be a “different” type of Cubs fan. I don’t bring up 1908, the 101-year title drought, 1945, the billy goat, black cat, Evers-Tinkers-Chance, the collapse in the 1984 NLCS, 1989, 1998, 2003 (that often), 2007, 2008, or Milton “Scapegoat” Bradley (at least to throw insults at him). Yes, I consider myself to be a rabid Cubs fan, but I know when to turn it off. I don’t want to be the type of fan that is 80 years old, and feels his life isn’t complete because the Cubs haven’t won a World Series. Words couldn’t describe my feelings if the Cubs were to win the World Series, although I’m sure I’d cry tears of joy. Still, it is not a top priority to see the Cubs win a World Series before I die.

I guess the Milton Bradley Experiment made me realize just how different I am. It seems that many Cubs experts, er, fans, were not aware of the type of player that Milton Bradley is. Injury-prone, volatile, and unwilling to accept responsibility for his actions in most cases. A good, but not great hitter, who’s never been known for his fielding or athletic ability, and not a “clubhouse guy”. He had a very good, but not great 2008, and that was mostly because he hit in a lineup with other powerful hitters, in a hitters park (Arlington), and was the team’s primary DH, which obviously put less strain on his body. Bradley became the 2009 whipping boy for Cubs fans. Never mind the fact that the moron formerly known as Jim Hendry decided to give him a 3 year, $30 million contract despite the fact that he’d never played more than 2 full seasons with a team in his entire career. Or that there were cheaper, more reliable alternatives, such as Bobby Abreu and Raul Ibanez. Or that Soriano, Soto, Gregg, Miles, Fukudome, Heilman, and Fontenot had terrible seasons. Cubs fans had found their bitch. Because of this, I now find myself cheering for Bradley, even though he’s playing in Seattle. Bradley eventually played the race card, and most dismissed both notions that he’d faced racism, and that fans at Wrigley are racist, period. What infuriated me most were the Cubs fans that used the excuse: “We’re not racist, we love Derrek Lee!” That’s the equivalent of a white person denying that they’re racist, and bringing up their one black friend in order to refute that claim. To that, I say “oy vey”.

The departures of Kerry Wood and Mark Derosa also made me realize I’m not like the average Cubs fan. I didn’t come close to shedding a tear upon hearing of their departures. I’m sorry, but I didn’t lose sleep when I learned that Kerry Wood wouldn’t be re-signed. His career highlight came in his rookie season, when he struck out 20 in a game against Houston. I was at that game, and thought I was looking at the next Roger Clemens. Unfortunately, his career was marred by injuries and trips to the disabled list, and when he was healthy, he didn’t even win 15 games. While Mark Derosa was a highly productive player, I couldn’t grasp how so many Cubs fans (a good number of them, females) reacted as if the Cubs had just traded an All-Star. I also learned that a good number of Cubs fans seem to react without thinking, feeling as if Mark Derosa was traded for Milton Bradley. This is what I like to call “the lazy truth”. Yes, Derosa’s salary needed to be moved in order for the team to sign Milton Bradley. However, if Lou Piniella hadn’t flipped out after being swept in the 2008 NLDS by the Dodgers, whining to everyone within earshot about a need for more lefties in the lineup, Milton Bradley wouldn’t have spent one inning in a Cubs uni in 2009. In addition, Mark Derosa was the Cubs primary second baseman. If Piniella didn’t endorse Mike Fontenot as a worthy candidate to play second on a daily basis, Derosa wouldn’t have gone anywhere. Add the ownership issues before the 2009 season, and the Cubs front office just wasn’t sure if the new owner would be in favor of adding, without subtracting salaries.

I’ll say it. I’m not a fan of the “Bleacher Bums”. I wouldn’t go as far as saying I find them vile, disgusting, assholish, or “a bunch of immature fucking drunks who are more interested in beer than baseball” (my little brother’s description of them), but I believe they give Cubs fans a bad reputation. The men are sometimes shirtless, the women are sometimes damn near shirtless, a good number of them are belligerently drunk, and at times, it looks more like a frat party than a section in the stands where fans would be watching a baseball game. Ron Santo? Meh. Most Cubs fans love him, and some find him annoying. I tend to identify myself with the latter, especially when listening to him on the radio. Despite his Harry Caray impersonation, I’m not high on Ryan Dempster or his contract. A Dusty Baker basher? I am not. Why would I trash a man that managed the Cubs within a few outs of the World Series? Could he have gone out and talked to Mark Prior after Bartman lunged for a souvenir? Yes. Was it necessary? No. The Cubs could’ve closed it out the 2003 NLCS in game 5 (good ol’ Zambrano was the starter) and had a chance in game 7 (Cubs cult hero Wood was the starter), but they didn’t. Allow me to remind you of the tailor-made double play ball hit to sure-handed Alex Gonzalez that could’ve gotten the Cubs out of that dreadful inning in game 6 as well. 2004 wasn’t his fault, either, as the Cubs choked down the stretch. Go ahead, be an idiot and blame Baker for Wood and Prior’s injury problems. Wood had a serious elbow injury early in his career (while Baker was managing the Giants), and a good number of people felt it was only a matter of time before Prior and his “perfect mechanics” would break down. I was a huge fan of Sammy Sosa, and still am. It’s funny how most Cubs fans ignored his selfishness and lack of basic fundamentals when he was carrying the team. Once that stopped, Cubs fans couldn’t wait to see him go. I’m young, and am not interested in getting a history lesson every single day. I’m not gullible, nor am I overly pessimistic. I am a Cubs fan, but I was a baseball fan first, and I’ll always be that way. I’m not all that interested in the mystique of Wrigley Field. I don’t care for the guest 7th inning stretch singers. I absolutely despise the  “Lovable Losers” tag with a fiery passion. I like to make fun of fellow Cubs fans. I’m well-aware that there’s a little bit of an uppitiness about Cubs fans, also.

My love for the Cubs never has, and never will waver. If anyone wants to question my knowledge of baseball, try me. Chances are, I’m more knowledgeable than you are. I’m always open to logical, realistic conversation about anything pertaining to baseball. Disclaimer: I out morons like TMZ outs cheating spouses and drug addicts, and to be honest, I take joy in it. There are most certainly Cubs fans who annoy me on a daily basis, but I have love for all of them…especially the different ones.

P.S. I miss Karen!!!

P.P.S. Who loves ya, baby?!

I DO NOT hate the White Sox…

I was born in Harvey, Illinois. I was raised on the South Side of Chicago, 86th and Champlain and 70th St (near Stony Island) to be exact. I am Black. I love the South Side of Chicago with a fiery passion. I graduated from Kenwood Academy, and frequented the campuses of Morgan Park, Simeon, Dunbar, Prep, Hyde Park and other schools on the South Side to get my social fix. Even when it shows me its worst, I still proclaim the South Side to be the best part of the best city on the face of the Earth. I don’t hesitate to let people know where I’m from, and I couldn’t care less when I hear disparaging remarks or praised heaped upon the South Side.

However, I am a DIE-HARD Chicago Cubs fan. I attended my first Cubs game at Wrigley when I was five (1990), and have been to almost 200 games at The Friendly Confines since. I was a fan during the days of Dunston, Sandberg, Dawson, Grace, Guzman, Harkey, and Morgan. And one during Sosa, Blauser, Wood, Prior, Beck, and Grudzielanek. I’m probably an even bigger fan now, during the *gulp* Soriano, DLee, Lilly, ARam, Soto, Zambrano and Marmol Era. 1998 gave me reason for optimism, but I knew the Cubs were overmatched against a far superior Braves team. 2003 broke my heart, because I knew the Cubs were going to win it all once they defeated the Braves in the NLDS. Unfortunately, South Beach fish ruined the party. 2007 and 2008  gave many Cubs fans reason to be excited, only for the Cubs to dash all hopes and dreams with subpar (understatement) performances in the NLDS in both years.

Let me clear something up with you Pale Hose fans. I DO NOT hate the White Sox. To be honest, I was a White Sox fan up until after the 1993 season. The White Sox had been eliminated by the eventual champion Toronto Blue Jays in the ALCS, and suddenly, I just wasn’t as big a fan anymore. Still, Frank Thomas was my favorite player (I even wore his signature spikes), and I enjoyed watching Jack McDowell, Joey Cora, Carlton Fisk, Ron Karkovice, Bo Jackson, Wilson Alvarez, Roberto Hernandez, and Robin Ventura play, too. The way I saw it, I had two baseball teams in Chicago to cheer for. The only difference I saw was that one played in the American League while the other played in the National League, and one wore black and white while the other wore blue and white.

I wasn’t quite old enough to completely understand the differences between the North Side and South Side. I had an uncle that lived on Sheffield (and still does), three blocks away from Wrigley, and I can say I noticed that there were more Whites than Blacks on the North Side, similar to there being more Blacks than Whites in the area on the South Side that I lived. Other than that, I didn’t know about “blue collar vs white collar”, or “rich vs poor”, or “middle-class vs elitists”, or any of the other bullshit that some moronic Cubs and Pale Hose fans buy into.

Again, I DO NOT HATE THE WHITE SOX. They barely register as a blip on my baseball radar, to be perfectly honest. I’m not one of these Cubs fans that sits around all day, thinking of insults to make about them and their fans. I’m more worried about the Cubs’ problems than the Pale Hose. Obviously, Pale Hose manager Ozzie Guillen is a moron, but everyone not named Ozzie Guillen knows that.

What irks me about the organization and its fans are the way they’ve acted since the 2005 World Series. You’re NOT a dynasty. I don’t care what your cocky general manager and manager feed you. Fuck Pierzynski and “Big Bad” Bobby Jenks. I couldn’t care less about your hick homer for an announcer, either. One title does not a dynasty make. Yes, I know it’s one more than the Cubs have won over the last century, but that’s not the point. To celebrate is one thing. But to only celebrate when rubbing it in the face of a Cubs fan is just wack. Pure, unadulterated, wackness. This would be different if Pale Hose fans were Yankees fans, and Cubs fans were Mets fans. If the Pale Hose had 27 titles under their belt, Cubs fans couldn’t say a thing. That’s not the case here. The Pale Hose broke a title drought of 88 years, so it’s not like the Hose had a great history of winning.

It’s clear: White Sox fans in Chicago barely care about the White Sox, unless they’ve just won a World Series. How else can one explain the fact that US Cellular is rarely sold out? The White Sox know they’ll sell out twice during the regular season. Opening Day, and the Cubs/White Sox “Red Line Rivalry”. That’s it. A park with much better amenities, food, more aesthetically pleasing to the eye–is usually in the middle of the pack when it comes to home attendance. There’s enough parking, and it’s not hell on Earth for train riders after a game. Chicago is the third-largest media market in the country, and 40,000 fans can’t show up 81 times a year? I don’t want to hear that White Sox fans are too busy working. Shut that shit up, please. Cubs fans work, too. Granted, we might play hooky in order to catch a 2:30 game every once in a while, but we’re not all unemployed deadbeats. Also, I’m not sure how some Pale Hose fans can label Cubs fans as rich snobs, and then turn around and call them lazy, unemployed drunks. Pick one. Stick one. Thank you.

It’s sad that a good number of White Sox fans have an inferiority complex. To assume that all Cubs fans are rich yuppies that want nothing more than to get drunk and watch a team lose is idiotic and very ignorant. It’s hard to understand where Sox fans come up with the theory that Cubs fans think they’re any better than them. Most likely, it feeds into their belief that the Cubs and their fans hate everything about not only the Sox, but the South Side, in general.

The White Sox would absolutely love it if someone actually hated them. It would give them a true rival, which would create more publicity, putting more people in the seats. The Cubs and White Sox are not rivals. I repeat, they are not rivals. So if there are any Cubs fans that hate the White Sox, or vice versa, they’re morons. The Cubs main rivals are the St. Louis Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers, in case you were wondering.

Sometimes I think Ozzie talks so much shit about others because he actually wants to be loathed, disliked, despised, and hated. His act is contrived. The White Sox don’t win enough to be disliked on the level of the Yankees, or Duke, and don’t have a 25-man roster full of douches, so Guillen and AJ pick up the slack, which is fine. When a franchise decides that those two will be the unofficial lead singers for their band however, don’t be surprised when people line up to shoot darts at your team. I do the same at times, but that’s only because I know more about them than the Cardinals and Brewers, and because they make it easy.

In conclusion, I, along with most Cubs fans, do not hate the White Sox. It would be almost pointless for any of us to feel that way, the same as it would be pointless for White Sox fans to hate the Cubs. Be honest. We all know which baseball team runs this town. Ozzie and Ken Williams know it, and have said it. The players and the media know it, too. The quicker White Sox fans stop worrying about what the Cubs are doing, and focus on Ozzieball (Honestly, why would a team with sluggers that plays 81 games a year in a homer-friendly park play smallball?!?!), the better for all of us. I acknowledge that there are some idiot Cubs fans that worry too much about the White Sox, but the purpose of this post wasn’t to address them. Trust me, the Cubs have their share of problems in many areas, and the last thing that’s on my mind is a team that plays in a different league, who we’ll face only 6 times a year. Grow up, people…

P.S. I miss Karen!!!

P.P.S. President Obama may be the White Sox most popular fan, but that doesn’t take away from the face that he throws like a girl(no offense, Karen).

I go hard for SPARTY…

Yes, today is a HUGE day for Sparty fans. In about five hours, the Michigan State men’s basketball team will take on the Butler Bulldogs in the Final Four in Lucas Oil Stadium, in Indianapolis, Indiana. This is familiar territory for Sparty and its fans, as this is their sixth appearance in the Final Four in the last twelve years. Despite the Final Four appearances, Sparty only has one championship (2000) to show for it. MSU might not be an elite basketball program, but everyone knows their a consistent threat, come tournament time.

I was a second-year student at Michigan State in 2005, when the Spartans made their fourth Final Four appearance over a 8-year span. No one on campus or in the Izzone really expected much from Sparty, mainly because they were the fifth seed in their regional. I predicted they wouldn’t get past the Sweet Sixteen, where I figured they’d get eliminated by Duke, who they actually beat by double digits. Didn’t think they’d beat Kentucky in the Elite Eight, and that game turned out to be an instant classic, with Sparty eventually winning in overtime. Unfortunately, their run ended in the Final Four, where they were beaten by eventual champion North Carolina. UNC just simply blew them out of the water in the second half, but the phrase going around on campus was “In Izzo We Trust”.

Yes, we, Sparty Nation, have the utmost faith in Tom Izzo, the head coach of the Spartans. When it looks like Sparty will barely get by, he finds a way to get them to the next level. Last year was was a prime example, with the added pressure of the state of Michigan in economic turmoil, and the Final Four in Detroit. It was a spirited run, but Sparty was again overmatched by UNC in the title game.

This year is different, in my opinion. This has been one of the most inconsistent, nerve-racking Spartan teams in recent memory. Injuries, insubordination, and idiocy are three words I’d use to describe Sparty’s regular season and conference tournament. After starting the season ranked as the #2 team in the nation, they more resembled a mediocre team than an elite team many picked to be a legitimate title contender.

Still, Izzo and the crew found a way. Again, the five seed, and again, a trip to the Final Four. A controversial win over New Mexico State in the opening round. A buzzer-beater to beat Maryland in the second round, that only happened because Delvin Roe ducked just in the nick of time. Shutting down a “favored” Northern Iowa team in the Sweet 16. In the Elite Eight, they beat a Tennessee team that a good number of “analysts” predicted would end their tournament run.

Now, it’s time to dispose of Butler. I don’t care about Cinderella, honestly. I couldn’t care less that they’re a mid-major, and playing in their home state. I don’t recall many people jumping on Sparty’s bandwagon last year, and frankly, I’m glad. I want Sparty to embarrass Butler. I want to see Butler fans in tears of pain after this game. I want this game over by halftime. I want Brad Stevens to look like he’s 33 going on 64 in the post-game press conference.

SPARTY ALL THE WAY.

P.S. I miss Karen!!!

P.P.S. On the banks of the Red Cedar/There’s a school that’s known to all…