Monday, August 4, 2008

Tired of Brett Favre? So is he...'s Hot Clicks featured this video today, a parody of Adolf Hitler screaming about the excessive coverage of the Brett Favre saga on ESPN in recent weeks.

Two things: 1) It's pretty dang funny, and 2) Hitler as a Packer fan? No comment there.

Here's the clip (warning: vulgar language):

Monday, June 23, 2008

R.I.P. George Carlin (1937-2008)

I awoke to the news this morning that comedian George Carlin died last night of a heart condition.

Carlin, along with Richard Pryor, was known for observations on life peppered with shall we say some strong language. He was best known for his bits on seven words you cannot use as well as more recently a bit on views against any religion.

However, he was also funny at times. In his memory, here is perhaps his funniest, a comparison of football vs. baseball:

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Take me to the year 1948...

Many of us, including me (thanks to covering the flood here in Iowa, missed an interesting broadcast on Thursday when WGN broadcast the Braves at Cubs game from Wrigley Field in the way they would show the games in 1948, the first year they began to show Cubs baseball.

The Cubs and Braves, wearing their uniforms from that year (no pinstripes for the Cubbies, the Braves known as the Boston Braves), were shown in black and white for a few innings. Broadcasters Len Kasper and Bob Brenly wore the suits they wore in '48, as did some fans. The graphics were the same as they were then, with line across the top of the screen constantly showing the screen (To help fans accustomed to this, they regularly showed the scoreboard).

By the way, the Cubs won 3-2. Way different from 1948, when the Braves won the National League pennant and the Cubs finished in last place, three years removed from their last World Series appearance and 40 years after their last World Series championship.

Friday, May 30, 2008

It's all about the marketing...

I was watching SportsNite on Comcast SportsNet Chicago tonight when they ran another commercial touting tickets to the White Sox. That got me thinking about how different teams try to market themselves.

First, I wondered if the Cubs ever do any marketing. After asking my wife if she's ever seen more, I came to the conclusion that this is their entire marketing budget:

Chicago Cubs baseball: Wrigley Field.

Nothing more, nothing less. Of course, it doesn't hurt that the Cubs are winning, or that they became obscenely popular during the 1980s and 1990s during the Harry Caray years even while fielding some pretty pathetic teams.

But for those who do advertising, here are some of the best out there, starting with the White Sox, who have had some pretty creative pieces, including this one from this year:

The Minnesota Twins had a fun one (a nice poke at the rival Cleveland Indians) with this spot. However, you can't beat singing at the ole ballpark as part of their "This is Twins Territory" campaign:

The Mariners had a bunch of good ones a couple of years ago, including this piece of work featuring the glove of Adrian Beltre:

Others of note include the Kansas City Royals, including a spot touting the new Jumobtron Scoreboard as part of the renovations at Kauffman Stadium (and particularly funny now that it features Billy Butler who was sent down to AAA Thursday) hitting batting practice balls that destroy the old scoreboard).

You can't beat fun at the old ballpark, I guess...

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Kansas wins national title

The final score from San Antonio:

Kansas - 75
Memphis - 68 (OT)

Congraulations to the Kansas Jayhawks for winning their fourth national title in school history. It was a heck of a game, though.

Of course, for me as an Iowa State fan, this is bittersweet, as Kansas ranks up with the Green Bay Packers, Detroit Red Wings and St. Louis Cardinals in terms of teams that I may respect, but still cannot like.

I also had trouble with Kansas winning because of Bill Self, who bolted Illinois for the KU job five years ago. Of course, the beauty part of this, if I want to be petty, is that he is the leading contender to become the next coach at his alma mater, Oklahoma State. He of course says he won't leave, but this comment on the Sporting News story about the speculation says it all:

Self also told ORU he wasn't leaving, Tulsa he wasn't leaving, and Illinois wasn't leaving.

Regardless, Iowa State now has this to look forward to: the first national champion to contend with in conference play since, well, the last time Kansas won it in 1988 as a member of the Big Eight Conference.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Please let this happen...

The Sun-Times is reporting Bears coach Lovie Smith visited former Arkansas running backs Darren McFadden and Felix Jones Monday ahead of the NFL draft April 26 and 27. This could mean the end of Cedric Benson's short run as the Bears' main guy, which obviously never really worked out (too many injuries, too little effectiveness).

Whether the Bears could nab McFadden remains to be seen. Da Bears pick at number 14 in the draft, and McFadden is projected to go somewhere around picks 4 to 6 (currently owned by the Raiders, Chiefs and Jets). Plus, the Bears' main need still remains on the offensive line, which went from bad to worse during the course of last season.

Still, if the Arkansas phenom did find his way, we could envision a nice rivalry of running backs with the Vikings' Adrian Peterson, who tore up the league last year with 1,341 yards and 12 touchdowns (including a three-touchdown day at Soldier Field on Oct. 14) in route to the Rookie of the Year award.

Plus, he would be the most fun and um... interesting athlete since a certain Mr. Dennis Rodman.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Da notebook - March 24, 2008

-- The business section in Sunday's Chicago Tribune has an interesting look at new Blackhawks chairman Rocky Wirtz, who took over the team when his father, Bill Wirtz, died in October. In the last five months, he had revitalized the team, hiring president John McDonough away from the Cubs and beginning to restoke interest in hockey in a place where many thought it was dead.

-- The team also is near a deal to televise all 82 of its games next season, reports the Tribune's Teddy Greenstein. WGN and WPWR-50 are two possible stations to pick up the 30-odd games not currently covered by Comcast SportsNet and Versus

-- It was a good day as the Hawks beat St. Louis 5-4 on an overtime goal by Patrick Kane. The win puts Chicago within four points of the eighth and final Western Conference playoff with only six games to play

-- In Mesa, Ariz., it looks like Kerry Wood has won the Cubs' closer job. At least until he gets hurt again.

-- At the same time, manager Lou Pinella is scheduled to announce on Monday whether Jason Marquis won a job in the starting rotation over former Ryan Dempster or new/old pickup Jon Lieber.

-- An injury to lefthander Scott Eyre and some suddenly free agent outfielders could lead to the Cubs picking up some centerfield depth, says the Sun-Times.

White Sox
-- The Sox will honor former great Harold Baines with a statue outside of U.S. Cellular Field on July 20, according to the Tribune.

-- The Sun-Times' Jay Mariotti comments on the Bulls' plans to raise ticket prices even as the team continues to tank its season away in true Reinsdorf fashion and implodes in every unimagible way outside of the Knicks.

Iowa State & Iowa
-- The Cyclones' women's basketball team advanced past the first round Saturday, beating Georgia Tech in Des Moines. They play C. Vivian Stringer's Rutgers squad today.

-- Meanwhile, the Iowa women are out of the NCAA tournament after losing to Georgia in Norfolk, Va., while the Iowa wrestling team claims its first national title since 2000.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Big Ben is gone!

The Bulls, as close to imploding as they are (if they haven't already), made a big move earlier today, trading away Big Ben Wallace to Cleveland as part of an 11-player deal also involving Seattle.

In the deal, according to the Chicago Tribune:

The Cavs get Wallace, Joe Smith and a second-round pick from the Bulls as well as Wally Szczerbiak and Delonte West from the SuperSonics. The SuperSonics gets Adrian Griffin from the Bulls and Ira Newble and Donyell Marshall from Cleveland. The Bulls in return get Larry Hughes, Drew Gooden, Cedric Simmons and Shannon Brown from Cleveland. Of course, this is assuming the league, which K.C. Johnson of the Tribune expects it will.

In the end, this could be a good deal, but it has its bad points.

First, the
Bulls give up on Wallace, who was brought in before the 2006-07 season for $60 million from the Pistons. Big Ben produced 6.4 points and 10.7 rebounds a game in his first year as a Bull, but dropped to 5.1 points and 8.8 boards this year. He had expected to be the missing piece in providing a quality big man to push Chicago back into championship contention since the Michael Jordan era.

The Bulls also lose out on Joe Smith, who was averaging 11.2 points a game and providing some nice stability and veteran leadership to a young team.

Both those guys go to defending conference champs Cleveland, who are currently fifth in the playoff seeding. Lebron James gets a solid big man to help him on the boards, and they get that same veteran leadership.

In return, the Bulls gets center Drew Gooden and guard Larry Hughes. I used to hate Gooden with a passion while I was attending Iowa State and he was starring at Kansas. Of course, I could probably say the same for Kirk Hinrich, and look where he wound up. Gooden was averaging 11.3 points and 8.3 rebounds a game. The Bulls trade a couple of rebounds for some more scoring than they had with Wallace. Plus, Big Drew is seven years younger than Wallace, and will be able to contribute more on a young team.

Larry Hughes could work or not (how's that for decisive!). The 9-year veteran is averaging 12.3 in 32 minutes a game, but is shooting about 38 percent from the field. His shot selection has been so horrid at times that a Cavs fan site called "Hey Larry Hughes, Please Stop Taking So Many Bad Shots" with the actual address of was created (and they are now celebrating). Plus, Hughes has a monstrous contract ($12.3 million) and could push out Ben Gordon, who is a restricted free agent after this season. Plus Hinrich makes $10 million next season, Johnson said in the Tribune, so this is getting expensive.

It's a matter of waiting and seeing if owner Jerry Reinsdorf has raised the white flag a
gain with John Paxson.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Giants win Super Bowl!

Do you believe in miracles? The Giants have won the Super Bowl!

A contrast of two competing towns at Super Bowl XLII. First we have the front page of the Web site for the New York Daily News:

Then we have the front page of the Boston Globe, lamenting the end of the Patriots' run for a perfect season:

The New York Daily News's Gary Myers already is punching in with his 2008 predictions.

My question, though, is what will Bill Simmons and the Boston-loving bunch at ESPN say about this Monday. We can only wait and see.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Super Bowl predictions

Super Bowl XLII is upon us, and it’s time for some predictions:

-- The Fox pre-game show will last a record 63 hours, leaving studio Terry Bradshaw sputtering like Dan Rather during coverage of the 2000 presidential election.

-- Bill Belichick will swipe his NFL-required game sponsored clothing with some homeless guy he meets in downtown Phoenix. The homeless guy is last seen hitching to Vegas wearing an ad for Reebok.

-- Tom Coughlin will attempt to crack an Elvis-type smile, and wind up on the Giants’ injured list.

-- During the national anthem, Fox will show the first of its 964 shots of Tom Brady’s girlfriend, model Giselle Bundchen.

-- The first of 23 replays of Peyton Manning winning last year’s Super Bowl will be shown, causing every Bears fan in Chicago to angrily swear under their breath at Rex Grossman.

-- The 1972 Miami Dolphins are spotted in the north end zone, rapidly stabbing the right shoulder of voodoo dolls of Brady.

-- Patriots defensive back Rodney Harrison gets the first of his three game misconduct after slapping Giants QB Eli Manning who kept asking him about performance-enhancing drugs.

-- Manning’s father and former Saints QB Archie Manning, especially after he storms the field to defend his son from Harrison. Harrison retaliates by wearing a paper bag on his head.

-- Oh yeah, and the game. The Patriots will narrowly achieve their perfect season, winning the game 20-19 after Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes invokes memories of Scott Norwood and misses a game winning 46-yard field goal that sails wide right.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Remembering Super Bowls of the past

With the next Super Bowl coming up this Sunday, it brings to mind memories of Super Bowls past.

For instance, there was the first Super Bowl I truly cared about, the first season I truly cared about football and the first team I really got into. That was, of course, the 1985 Chicago Bears. A fun bunch, it featured a team so brash, so confident, that they recorded the ultimate team-based song that's ever been put down in a studio. That was the Super Bowl Shuffle:

As for Super Bowl XX itself (played on Jan. 26, 1986), I remember exactly where I was. I had just turned 10, and my dad and I wound up at this bar and grill called Cruisers in Beach Park, Ill. (Coincidently, we wound up moving into the house not even half a block away two years later). With a couple of Dad's friends from work, we grabbed our booth and watched the big game on the big screen. I sipped 7-Up the entire time, and I remember eating this rib dinner that was pretty good.

Besides the game itself, won by the Bears 46-10 over the hapless (at least that day) New England Patriots, I remember the game getting out of hand when somebody accidently changed the channel, and all of a sudden we were watching the Spanish-language soap opera. The entire restaurant howled, and the game was back on in no time.

I remember it was cold the next day, so cold in fact that Mom kept my brother Eric and me home from school. I remember watching the Bears' victory down Michigan Avenue in Chicago on TV that afternoon, a throng of people lining the streets and cheering their hearts out despite the cold. It was a fun year.

Last year and Super Bowl XLI was another memory. Since it was the Bears' first time in the Super Bowl in 21 years, I decided to be with the ones I had developed my fanhood with, my family. While the weather outside my parents' house in Zion, Ill., was -4 degrees, we were plenty warmed up with good food, Eric, his wife Dina, and their then 5-month-old daughter, Ashley, along with my parents and a friend of Eric's and mine from high school, Erick. With the Dos Equis beer readily available, we watched the Bears kick things off right with this play:

The memorable part of this was the aftermath. As Devin Hester finished his run, all of us were screaming and going nuts. Meanwhile, poor little Ashley, lying on a blanket on the floor, is going nuts, too - in a different way. She is scared to death, and her mother quickly rushed to comfort her.

We all decided then to try and behave ourselves and keep the screaming to a low roar the next time the Bears did something good. Fortunately for little Ashley, and unfortunately for the rest of us, that kickoff return was the highlight of the game, and Peyton Manning and the Colts picked the Bears apart and won the game, 29-17.

Unfortunately, I proved to be right when I predicted a downfall after the Bears traded running back Thomas Jones. Combined with a series of injuries to key players, and the inconsistency (to be kind) of quarterback Rex Grossman, da Bears ended the year 7-9, with only wins over the Packers and the Saints in the last two weeks enough to remember the season by.

Tis a shame.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Thanks, Sports Illustrated!

Yesterday, I posted about the best and worst performances of the Star-Spangled Banner. However, I lamented that I couldn't find video of what was probably the worst rendition ever, Carl Lewis before a Bulls-Nets at the Meadowlands in 1993.

However, two good things have happened since then. One, this site got a mention in's Hot Clicks (though they didn't link to this site). Second, they found the video of the Fast One, butchering our national anthem.

Thanks, SI!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Honoring our nation

This Sunday, American Idol winner Jordin Sparks will sing the national anthem at Super Bowl XLII.

The Star-Spangled Banner can be a difficult song to pull off, though, and should be attempted on the high stage by only the best.

Otherwise, we get moments like these:

Roseanne Barr before a San Diego Padres game on July 26, 1990:

Current Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton got into the act last year, when she made his first appearance as a candidate in Iowa on Jan. 27, 2007. MSNBC's microphone picked her up singing along:

(On a side note, I know this isn't sports-related, but when I googled "bad national anthem singing," Hillary was at the top of the list. I kid you not.)

By the way, for the two or three readers of this site, I know you're wondering why I didn't include Carl Lewis' rendition before a Bulls-Nets game in 1993, but I couldn't find any video of it. I think he must have got ESPN to burn all copies of that tape.

The best renditions, though, depend on the time and place.

There was that stretch in January 1991, that produced not one but two memorable performances. The Persian Gulf War was on to oust Saddam Hussein and Iraq from Kuwait. The United States sent over hundreds of thousands of troops to do the job right. With the military response came a wave of support from Americans, including chill-inducing performances of the Star-Spangled Banner.

The first came on my 15th birthday, Jan. 21, 1991, at the NHL All-Star Game, played at perhaps the best hockey arena that was ever built, Chicago Stadium. In perhaps the greatest rendition of the national anthem ever, fan favorite Wayne Messmer sang his heart out, and the fans nearly drowned him out.

A week later, at Super Bowl XXV between the Giants and Bills at the Big Sombrero, Tampa Stadium in Tampa, Fla., Whitney Houston stepped out and belted out this number:

Granted, we found out later the song was pre-recorded, and she lip-synced the whole thing, but it did its job. A single of her version of the song actually became a minor hit for a couple of months after that.

But then there was Marvin Gaye at the 1983 NBA All-Star Game in Los Angeles. Taking a funky, soulful approach, he turned Francis Scott Key's words into something more spiritual:

So go U.S.A.!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Media pokes, dumb team names, etc.

With a slow time as we await the Super Bowl and the start of spring training, with a little bit of basketball and other sports thrown in, it's time for some links.

-- The WNBA announced today that its newest franchise will be the Atlanta Dream. According to a story on the new Dream Web site, the nickname was chosen because "Atlanta is a city of dreamers and this week we have had time to reflect on what it means to dream and what can happen when you do," according to owner Ron Terwilliger.

All this does is continue to make a mockery of a league that despite the deep-pocketed support of the obviously more successful NBA, still continues to struggle for respect as it enters its 12th season. After all, we're talking about a league that already has team names like the Chicago Sky (Motto: Stand tall), Detroit Shock (which goes for the double dumb title with a "HERstory" section on its Web site) and Connecticut Sun (named for the casino the team plays at).

Then again, we are talking about the NBA here, with its own, um, interesting names like the Utah Jazz (granted, the end result of the move of a team from New Orleans, but it doesn't make sense now), the Miami Heat (old joke on this is what's the singular of "Heat?" Hot?) and and its D-League teams like the Iowa Energy (it could've been worse - Corncobs was a finalist) and Bakersfield Jam (it sounds like a bad video game name).

I guess all of the cool animal names have been taken (Hold that thought - The Chicago Wolves' parent team is the Atlanta Thrashers, a rather non-threatening bird that I believe was chosen by founder and environmentalist Ted Turner because it is a threatened species).

-- Another poke at the New York-Boston regional network otherwise known as ESPN and other like-minded networks, from Pray for Mojo.

-- I watched much of last night's Bulls-Pacers game while checking out the NBA League Pass free preview on DirectTV. The game, won by the Bulls 108-95, came courtesy of 38 points from Kirk Hinrich and with two of their better players, Luol Deng and Ben Gordon, out with injuries.

This has been what can be kindly called an inconsistent season from a team considered to be a favorite to go the NBA Finals this year. In January alone, they've had great wins over Miami (126-96 on Jan. 16) and Detroit (97-81 on Jan. 19)., but losses to freakin' Atlanta and a pathetic home loss on Jan. 18 to Golden State.

But maybe a turnaround is possible. The team nearly disintegrated earlier this month when rookie Joakim Noah was suspended for one game for fighting with interim coach Jim Boylan, then had the sentenced lengthened to two games by a vote of the veteran players. Noah then apparently had a blowup with veteran Ben Wallace following a 102-88 loss to Orlando on Jan. 16.

The more I think of this chain of events, the more I get to thinking about last year, when Cubs pitchers Carlos Zambrano and catcher Michael Barrett fought in the dugout and clubhouse on June 1 and manager Lou Pinella was tossed from the game the next day. The Cubs, mired in a 6-15 slide at the time, turned things around and managed to win the NL Central title in the last weekend of the season.

Granted, the Cubs completely shut down in the playoffs, getting swept in a quick three games by Arizona (and denying me a chance to watch some Cubs playoff baseball with my newborn son at home). Hopefully, we won't see that with the Bulls.

Then again, they could just prove me wrong and we'll be paying so much attention to the Cubs and the Bears' draft in April that we won't care about the Bulls by then.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Brrrrr Green Bay!

Super Bowl XLII's lineup is finally set, and ESPN and much of the east coast-based national media (this means you, ESPN) got its wish with the Giants and Patriots set to play in the Arizona desert on Feb. 3.

It was a fun ride Sunday as both games were pretty good, especially the NFC Conference Championship on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field. Since the Patriots were pretty much a foregone conclusion to make it to the big game, let's focus instead on what we could the upset of the month:

It was a crazy week in Green Bay leading up to Sunday's game. Maybe that snow storm that the Pack and the Seahawks played through on Jan. 12 was an indication of things to come, but it started getting a little weird up there in Cheeseheadland.

-- There was that little incident during that playoff game against the Seahawks where a man was arrested for taping a Packers jersey on his son after the boy apparently refused to wear it. According to WTMJ radio out of Milwaukee, the incident might have been the end result of something domestic brewing for some time.

Now I've joked about disowning my son if he ever becomes a Packer fan or begins to root for the University of Iowa, but there are limits. And needless to say, football is just a game.

-- But it was becoming more than a game for WLUK-TV, the Fox affiliate in Green Bay. After learning that "Seinfeld" is Giants QB Eli Manning's favorite show, station management decided to preempt its regular 5:30 p.m. showing of a "Seinfeld" rerun with something of the fan's choosing (my understanding is they opted to air a special on Packers coaching legend Vince Lombardi instead), all to disrupt Manning's preparation (since he would likely be relaxing in his hotel room before a team meeting) for the NFC title game the next day.

"We don't want to give any comfort to the enemy whatsoever when they come into town," WLUK general manager Jay Zollar said to Newsday. "We know laughter is good medicine, and we decided we're not going to give that to him."

It didn't work, as Eli was "master of his domain" (sorry, couldn't resist the joke) in beating the Packers the next day.

-- Some of that insanity must have seeped down from Cheeseland into Chicago, as Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn wrote on Thursday "Five Reasons for Bears fans to root for the Packers." Zorn, a product of the University of Michigan and native of the Detroit area, according to his Wikipedia entry, cited division pride, tradition, "Favre fancy" and "transitive triumphalism." as reasons.

He was widely scorned for the thought, with some of the more creative comments as:

Eric, Sometimes it's so obvious that you didn't grow up in this area.

Posted by: Tom | Jan 17, 2008 12:44:20 PM

Where is the "Who cares" option?

I live in WI, and I'm already sick of hearing about the Packers. Every time Brett Favre has so much as scratched himself this week, we have 45 minutes of news coverage about it. What was he scratching? Did the itch go away? What do his teammates think? What do the fans think? Oh look, it's some lady who has a dress made out of Packer logo toilet paper. And so forth.

I'm glad people are excited, but there's such a think as overkill.

Posted by: Spike | Jan 17, 2008 12:54:11 PM

There are 0 reasons to root for the Packers. Favre? Please, is is a receord setting QB - most interceptions in the history of the NFL. I became a Giants fan after the Cowboys lost last weekend. I am a Bears fan through and through, so this weekend I am rooting for the red and blue. Maybe Favre will cry like a sissy after the game like he did after the Bears game last year.

Posted by: DJG | Jan 17, 2008 12:54:25 PM

The thing is, I'm not sure which is more disturbing: the column itself and the poll that ran with the column had 64.1 percent of the respondents saying, yes, Bears fans should pull for the Packers.

Personally, I think a bunch of Wisconsinites filled the ballot box on the poll, and as far as rooting for a division rival since it reflects good on the Bears, I can't do it. As far as the NFC North is concerned, I can't stand the Packers (I can respect their attempts to uphold tradition in a small town in an increasingly corporate league and world, but it doesn't mind I have to like them), and I can't stand the Vikings. I'd say the same for the Lions, but they've stunk for so long, you just can't hate them.

Besides, how can you root for a team that's dressed in colors that, as my dad puts it, are like moldy cheese.

So thank you to the Giants for making it an easy decision on who to root for on Super Bowl Sunday.

To end, for your entertainment and amazement, here is Eddie Murphy's take on the NFC Championship game...20 years early:

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Welcome to Wait Til Next Century!

Welcome to Wait Til Next Century!

This site is the latest in sports commentary and news on the Web.

Named in honor of the Chicago Cubs' centennial anniversary of its last World Series championship in 1908, this is kind of my answer to Bill Simmons' "The Sports Guy" column at ESPN's Page 2. This mean that while the Sports Guy tends to focus his writing on following Boston teams to an almost sickening point (though I still count myself a fan of his work), Wait Til Next Century! will focus on primarily the Midwest, especially Chicago teams and the schools in the great state of Iowa.

At the same time, I am a fan of just about every sport out there, ranging from the big four here in the U.S.A. to world soccer and even rugby and cricket as I learn more about them.

So sit back, take in the news and views and feel free to contribute your own in the comments section.