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« September 2009 | Main | November 2009 »

October 31, 2009

The [Halloween] Desk Report

By Natasha Julius

No tricks. No treats. Just the uncompromising eye of the Weekend Desk.

Market Update
President Obama this week will welcome 2,000 Washington, DC-area children to the White House for trick or treating this season. In a nod to the harsh economic times, each child will find their goodie sack stuffed with $160,000 in federal stimulus money.

Dress to Impress
It wouldn't be Halloween without the Beachwood Reporter Weekend Desk Costume Calculator, designed to ensure you win every fright-fest and party you attend. Here's a list of this year's most high-impact assumed identities.

1. H1N1 Vaccine: You'll be swamped in Chicagoland, with thousands of women flocking to your side. Sure, most of them will be pregnant, but that's kind of hot... right? If it all gets to be too much you could always run out.

2. Joe Scurvy: Come on, now. Everyone is going to go as Tom Ricketts. Besides, with Scurvy you just have to worry about losing your teeth, not your hopes and dreams.

3. Abdullah Abdullah: If you know the party's going to be totally lame, you win just by not showing up.

4. Rajoelina: Sure, your coup's not going so well and it looks like there's trouble on the home front. But you're still way sexier than Roberto Micheletti.

5. An Illinois Senior: No one wants to cross one of these bad-asses. Apparently, they're absolutely terrifying.

Posted by Natasha Julius at 8:07 AM | Permalink

October 30, 2009

The [Friday] Papers

By Steve Rhodes

"Not surprisingly, schools with more than 90 percent poverty rates dominated the bottom of the pack [in test scores]," the Sun-Times reports.

If it's not surprising - if it's such received wisdom - why don't we see this connection made more often in the media?

The statistical correlation might lead one to think that the best education reform strategy is a jobs program.

"Meanwhile, neighborhood schools in the top 10 had single-digit poverty rates."

No shit, Sherlock.


The funny thing about at least a minimal level of economic security is that it goes a long way to solving so many other problems, including large categories of crime in particular. Isn't a poverty policy - or, again, a jobs program, if you will - the silver bullet?


"While at least 95 percent of Hadley [Junior High School's] well-off students passed the eighth-grade reading and math tests," the Tribune reports, "about half of their low-income classmates met the same goals, revealing an achievement gap that is as persistent as it is pernicious."


Here's the thing: we address the effects instead of the cause. We bus kids to schools out of their neighborhood to solve what is an issue of housing segregation. We invent new reading programs to solve an economic problem. Similarly, we invent new policing strategies that don't - can't - address the underlying socioeconomic issues. We invent ploys like the public option because health care is viewed as an insurance issue instead of, um, a health issue. It's just bizarre, but for some reason we are just not allowed to discuss the way we organize our economy in this country. I guess it's because so many folks have been brainwashed - thanks, U of C - into thinking that economics follows immutable natural laws, like physics. It doesn't. Amazingly, a few economists have only recently been recognized for discovering that humans don't always act like the wholly rational actors supposed by their theories. And "free markets" are usually constructed markets because otherwise they would go haywire; that's why we have antitrust laws and a regulatory structure that tends to freeze significant industries in oligopolies instead of monopolies.

Like the rest of society, the way we organize our economy is wholly up to us. There are no religious rules to violate - though there are moral ones.


"Family poverty and parenting practices are much bigger drivers of student learning than anything that happens in the classroom," University of California education professor Bruce Fuller told the Tribune.

And, of course, family poverty and parenting practices are linked. You can't help your kids with their homework if you're on your second shitty job, or if gunshots are ringing out all around you, or if you can't afford school supplies, or if you don't have an education yourself and can't afford a tutor.

I've often heard that financial problems are one of the biggest drivers of divorces. That seems kind of fucked-up, but an unstable home life must be one of the biggest factors in student achievement.


Or maybe running is the answer. After all, she's about six figures a year smarter than I am.

Sunny Side Up
Every time a new owner, manager or free agent comes to your team, sportswriters imagine the best possible scenario resulting, instead of the most likely scenario. So it is with the arrival of new Cubs owner Tom Ricketts.

"Jed Hoyer, a former assistant to Epstein who was hired this week to be the general manager of the San Diego Padres, might have summed up the the Red Sox' philosophy best when he said, ''One of the things Theo always preached was to be a small-market team with big-market resources','' Gordon Wittenmyer writes in the Sun-Times.

"That has been the Cubs' philosophy under general manager Jim Hendry, and the team finally appears to have the position players rising through the system to make it work."


The Cubs' philosophy under general manager Jim Hendry has been to spend gobs of money on crappy players. The position players who have risen through the system have either been afterthoughts (Ryan Theriot, Mike Fontenot) or players without positions (Jake Fox, Micah Hoffpauir).

And the Cubs farm system isn't any better than it's ever been. Which is to say it sucks.

Pat Quinn's Halloween
Evil trick or treaters to knock on his door.

Vetoing Stroger
Turns out he was for it before he was against it.

Dollar Houses
No bids in Barrington.

Staging Langford
Waco Brother transcendence.

Circus Bulls and Sweetness
Our very own George Ofman weighs in.

The College Football Report
Dr. Dude on what's so funny about Kentucky.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Betting windows open.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:09 AM | Permalink

Ofman: Dis and Dat, Dem and Dose

By George Ofman

High energy, second chances points, scoring in the paint, smart lineups, all the starters in double figures, good defense . . . wait. Stop! This can't be the Bulls? It is! How about that? In beating the Spurs on opening night, the Bulls resembled a half-decent NBA team. Yeah, they clanked some outside shots but they beat San Antonio inside. Now that's a little more like it.

  • Dr. Dude's College Football Report

  • Four of the Bulls next six games are @Boston, @Miami, @Cleveland and Denver. And on November 17th, they begin their annual circus trip including games against the Lakers, Portland, Utah and Denver again. The early portion of the Bulls schedule has been a disaster since Michael Jordan left. Save for the strike shortened '98-'99, they have managed to produce a winning record only once by the time the silly circus trip ended. Last year they were 8-9. Now that's progress. Overall, the Bulls record through the circus trip since the '99-'00 season is 32-103. OY!

    By the way, Ben Gordon came off the bench in the Pistons opener and scored 22 points on 7-of-12 shooting including four three-pointers.


    Good luck to Tom Ricketts, who got the keys to Wrigley field and the Cubs. First things first; drive Milton Bradley as far away from here as possible!


    Here's one rumor; a Milton Bradley for Pat Burrell Trade. Burrell can't play the outfield dead and is coming off an injury-plagued season at Tampa. And if the Cubs believe Kosuke Fukudome belongs in right, there's no way Burrell plays center. Burrell is a DH who has $16 mil left over the next two years. Bradley has 22. But if your intention is to rid yourself of Bradley, you find a way to be creative.


    The Braves are looking for a hitter and might deal either Javier Vazquez or Derek Lowe to get him. Does Jim Hendry have Frank Wren on speed dial?


    The White Sox re-signed hitting coach Greg Walker. His biggest project: Alex Rios. His second biggest: avoid comparisons to Rudy Jaramillo.


    Tommie Harris finally practiced on a Wednesday. But he gets paid every day of the week!


    After watching the hit laid on Jonathan Toews over and over and the eventual concussion he suffered, I get the feeling he might not play for a while, like maybe another few weeks. Teammate Ben Eager suffered one October 3rd and hasn't played since. Brent Seabrook also suffered a concussion the same night Toews did but got on the ice last night. Safe to say this could be a slight migraine for the Hawks


    Twitter me this: when does incessant twittering becoming annoying to the point you want to twitter the world to stop twittering, at least for a few minutes?


    Scottie Pippen believes the Lakers can match the record 72 wins the Bulls achieved during the '95-'96 season. Bet you anything if they get to 71, Michael Jordan will unretire and play for the opposition.


    The Tribune's Dan Pompei notes that the 11 times Jay Cutler's teams were behind by two touchdowns, they lost every game. So a word to the wise: do not attach the word cardiac and Cutler in the same sentence.


    I was on the air November 1st, 1999, the day Walter Payton died. I delivered the breaking news on WSCR. I took a deep breath and then announced what all of us were dreading. We had known for months Payton was suffering from bile duct cancer and his days were numbered. Still, it was an immensely sobering task to have read that release.
    Payton is among the greatest athletes to play in any sport and if he doesn't rank first among Chicago pros, then he's awfully close. I was there when he broke the all-time rushing record and there for his last game when he simply sat at his locker and said nothing to anyone.

    He was as affable off the field as he was intense on it. And he was a noted prankster. Like many others in our field, I was the recipient of his playful pinch on the butt on several occasions. Hopefully, the statue of "Sweetness" will be unveiled either at or very near Soldier Field in the next few weeks


    George Ofman, an original member of The Score and a veteran of NPR, has covered more than 3,500 sporting events over the course of his career. Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:21 AM | Permalink

    The College Football Report

    By Mike Luce

    I'm happy to report that the Report is going on the road this week. As of Friday, we'll be in the field gathering background on the UK Wildcats in Lexington, KY. A trip to Keeneland, a local track just outside Lexington, is on the agenda as well. Keeneland, sometimes referred to as the "Wrigley Field of horseracing," makes up part of a unique tradition in the SEC. For one or two home games each fall, the Wildcats move kickoff into the evening on Saturday night. This is done to allow locals to spend the day at the track. The men deck themselves out in the Lexington uniform: blazers, ties, and khakis, while the ladies suit up in dresses and heels. As a result, the walk up to the clubhouse at Keeneland feels a bit surreal - throngs of well-dressed people spill out the back of trucks, stand around in fields, and swill cheap beer.

    The scene inside the track feels a bit like your high school prom - but only if you picked it up, dropped it within the confines of a beautiful horse track, and only provided hot dogs, Kentucky Burgoo, chips, beer, and bourbon. If you go, remember a few tips: 1) the ATM fees are ridiculous 2) you will spend far more on gambling than food and drink, and 3) the line to the $50 minimum window is short and moves briskly. Hang with the professionals - even if you don't know what you're doing. The truth is, you're just as likely to win by studying the racing form as picking horses with names reminiscent of your dead cat.


    I can only hope that my showing at the betting window for the ponies doesn't follow my recent luck on the gridiron.

    We've had a rough run here at the Report. Our picks, suffice it to say, are in the red. I won't even bore you with a recap of our track record to date. Making matters worse this week, we'll be spending most of our time mid-air above Indiana. That's right, nearly all of the input this week springs from the USA Today sports section, notes scribbled on United Airlines cocktail napkins, and a copy of David Halberstam's The Coldest Winter. I find the latter fascinating, but I've yet to even catch a passing reference to the 1950 final AP #1 (Oklahoma), or really . . . college football at all.

    Thus, we're throwing it all up in the air this week. Rather than make a few limited forecasts for seemingly sound reasons that prove to be irrelevant, we'll run through a random cross-section from the slate of this weekend's games.

    Game: West Virginia (-3) @ South Florida (Friday, 7 p.m.)
    Comment: We've entered into the coy, flirting stage with the Mountaineers. I hope we can get to second base on Friday night.


    Game: Rutgers @ Connecticut (-7.5, Saturday, 11 a.m.)
    Comment: Take Rutgers just to punish Joe Lieberman.


    Game: Cincinnati (-15) @ Syracuse (Saturday, 11 a.m.)
    Comment: We'll back the Bearcats for one more week. Then it's off.


    Game: Indiana @ Iowa -17 (Saturday, 11 a.m.)
    Comment: I'd love this pick even more if the Hawkeyes didn't still seem to suffer from consistency problems. You know, like, sometimes they play well, and . . . not, like, the other . . . let's move on.


    Game: Akron (+12.5) @ N Illinois (Saturday, 11 a.m.)
    Comment: Always pick the Zips against a directional school.


    Game: New Mexico State (+44) @ Ohio State (Saturday, 11 a.m.)
    Comment: Let's go, Aggies, all we need is one touchdown.


    Game: Mississippi @ Auburn (+3.5, Saturday 11:20 a.m.)
    Comment: I'm not sure why I like the Tigers in this game. Perhaps because Ole Miss makes up part of the SI cover jinx foursome.


    Game: Western Michigan (+2.5) @ Kent State (Saturday, 1 p.m.)
    Comment: Always pick the directional school against a school still known primarily for a shooting.


    Game: Central Michigan (+6) @ Boston College (Saturday, 2:30 p.m.)
    Comment: Let's keep riding the Chippewas. Just like the white man.


    Game: Miami (FL) @ Wake Forest (+7, Saturday, 2:30 p.m.)
    Comment: Yes, I'm actively rooting against my ex. Feel free to do the same.


    Game: Eastern Michigan @ Arkansas (-38.5, Saturday 6 p.m.)
    Comment: That's a big number.


    Game: Georgia Tech (-11) @ Vanderbilt (Saturday, 6:30 p.m.)
    Comment: The Rambling Wreck is for wreal.

    CFR Notes
    The Sports Seal came down with the swine flu this week. I didn't know this sort of cross-species infection was possible. What's next, Seal Flu? I blame Blanche. That girl gets around. And I've never seen her wash her flippers. Sanitizer, Blanche, sanitizer! For the love of God!


    Mike "Dr. Dude" Luce brings you The College Football Report in this space twice a week. He welcomes your comments.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:00 AM | Permalink

    Bloodshot Briefing: Lofty Deeds

    By Matt Harness

    As a music writer in Chicago, Mark Guarino has seen and heard countless bands.

    Why Guarino chose to collaborate with Jon Langford for his soon-to-be-released play All the Fame of Lofty Deeds speaks volumes about the Waco Brother and his pop culture transcendence.

    "Because we live in Chicago and he's always around, I think we take him for granted," said Guarino, 39, a longtime fan of Langford and his various musical incarnations. "Hopefully one thing the play will do is re-examine his contributions as a songwriter."

    The show is set to run at the Chopin Theater from Nov. 12 through Dec. 20. Beachwood Music spent some time talking to Guarino, an Oak Park native and Rogers Park resident.

    Beachwood Music: I read where the play was developed through Victory Gardens last year. Tell me about that connection, and how you ended up with the House Theatre.

    Mark Guarino: It wasn't a production at Victory Gardens, but they put up some money. They had a new play reading series, and we had two separate readings. One was a staged reading. The actors read from scripts and walked through the play. At the time Victory Gardens hadn't committed to it. They offered more advocacy.

    I had spent about eight months writing this play, and it turned out to be much bigger than what the Victory Gardens produces. This play exists on a large canvas.

    The House Theatre is known for plays on a larger scale. They have high theatrics, and they do imaginative theater. What I had written matched their sensibilities. The play found the most appropriate home possible.

    Beachwood Music: Talk about the play, which follows the life of a Hank Williams-like country singer from anonymity to fame, and the work you did with Langford, whose 2004 album serves as the play's title.

    Guarino: I wrote the story first and then I listened to the music. There was a connection. I used the songs to fill in parts of the story and used images of his artwork to bring the story to life.

    Beachwood Music: What do you like about Langford's music?

    Guarino: It operates on different levels. It's great to enjoy while you're having a drink at a bar. It's also really great rock music from the Clash to Bruce Springsteen. Jon makes serious music. It's potent lyrics and punchy music. It's a real combustible mix. It's not frivolous music; it's quite powerful. You listen to it and it takes you in.

    When I wrote the play, it forced me to sit down with headphones and think about what each song is saying. His music is well-crafted and well-written, using metaphors and colorful images. But he uses them in simple ways to say profound things.

    Beachwood Music: How involved is Langford with the production?

    Guarino: He's been in every meeting and he has suggestions. He's very involved, particularly with the music and art. We are going to have a five-member band playing. He's not playing, but he's working with the band and the arrangements because some of the songs are different than the recordings. He's also teaching the art people how to paint like him.

    He's been fully involved from the start, and he's been very generous with us twisting his images and music.

    Beachwood Music: Any other Bloodshot artists have your ear?

    Guarino: One of the best songwriters to come out of Chicago is Robbie Fulks. I can't think of anybody that's a better triple threat. He's an incredible performer, an amazing guitarist and a great craftsman. His talent is frightening. No one comes close to his songwriting talent out of Chicago. He hasn't had the commercial success of others, but I think that's more true of the times. In different times, he's Elvis Costello. He's records really have depth that is mind-boggling.

    Beachwood Music: Bloodshot sure can pick 'em.

    Guarino: They've always presented artists that have a connection to the live stage. Those who started it grew up in the punk rock world. Music wasn't about the record; it's about live performances. Bloodshot bands are best appreciated live, and that's how I love them best.

    Others I live are Deadstring Brothers, Scott H. Biram, Bottle Rockets, Old 97s and Justin Townes Earle. Justin's two records with Bloodshot are so strong. It goes back to Fulks; Justin has it all.

    Beachwood Music: What are some of your favorite Chicago music venues?

    Guarino: I have fond memories of the Metro since I was in college. It's up there as a favorite. It's a shrine to rock-and-roll.

    Also, FitzGerald's. I lived near there, and I learned a lot about music by what was booked there. Going there was like graduate school for me.

    The Hideout. Great community vibe. Lounge Ax before it closed. That was the ultimate punk rock club in Chicago. Lot of fond memories.

    Rosa's on the West Side. That's another family owned spot. That's what connects all of these places. There is some family dynamic there.


    Bloodshot Briefing appears in this space every Friday. Matt welcomes your comments.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:08 AM | Permalink

    October 29, 2009

    At Your Service: Staff Unity

    I really love it when we band together against the customers. There is no better way to create a sense of unity than to coalesce against the common enemy, which in this case are the douchebags that attempt to make our lives a little less enjoyable.

    The other day, a table sat down and almost immediately started trying to flag down anyone who looked like they worked at the restaurant. (They did not wait long at all for their server.) The busser walks by to clean a table and they wave their hands in his face. Dialogue is as follows.

    Impatient assholes: "Hey! We're ready! We want to order!"

    Busser: [Not even stopping as he walks by the table] "Okay."

    And he kept walking. They stared, bewildered. I ran away giggling. They totally deserved it.

    But the camaraderie can be - and often is - put to the test sometimes. One of our new bussers, "Mario," has the enthusiasm of someone who intravenously consumes Red Bull every hour. He's great. BUT. . . not so much when it comes to running out food. Turns out, he doesn't know the table numbers. And what better time than learn by trial-and-error than on a Friday night?

    And, if you do get the right table numbers, please please please do not almost drop the pizza on the 70-year-old birthday girl. She doesn't look like she can handle too much excitement . . . I found out from a co-worker afterwards that the second I saw the pizza slipping my face turned bright red. I wonder how I would have looked had it gone splat.

    On a brighter note . . .

    What better time for hosts to lose the three-page wait list than on a Saturday night during prime dinner time? Their saving grace was that we take names and orders electronically while guests are waiting for a table to get them moving along a little faster. They were able to print out all the tickets and order them chronologically. These kids have it too easy. Back in my day, you had to walk 15 miles just to find a pen to put names on plain old paper, damn it.

    That wasn't really a brighter note, was it . . .

    On a slow, quiet Sunday last week, I had a young woman who gave me a dirty look as I walked over to her table (with a smile on my face, no less). She barked out that she wanted a bottle of water. I said sure. Then . . .

    Young woman: Do you serve Top Ramen?

    Me: Excuse me? [I thought there was no way I heard her right.]

    Her: Do you serve ramen?

    Me: No. We serve pizza.

    Her: [Silence. Another dirty look.]

    Me: Did you want to order any food?

    Her: I want to, but I don't have money.

    I walked away, wondering why the hell she would waste money on a bottle of water when she could buy food from a convenience store with that money. But, alas, I am not one to judge how the slightly-skewed choose to spend their money. Some people may judge me on how much I just spent on sneakers. To each their own, right?

    A couple of minutes later, I had built up a level of irritation at this girl. Who is she to come sit in my section and order just a bottle of water? Sit at the bar for that. I decided to drop her check off. With tax it came out to about $2.50.

    I come by a couple of minutes later, as my only real table was seated by her. She had the check in her hand. She asked me why it cost so much. I lost my patience.

    Me: You're in downtown Chicago. In a restaurant.

    Her: But I don't have the money for this.

    Me: So why did you order it? Why did you sit down in a restaurant if you have no money?

    Her: Well, what are you supposed to do if you want to rest?

    Me: It's nice out. Go sit on a bench. You don't sit down somewhere and order something that costs money. You can't rest in a restaurant.

    Her: What if it's raining?

    Me: It's not. And then you stand somewhere in a doorway. I'll take the check whenever you're ready.

    Her: That's so expensive. I'm from California and it . . .

    Me: I'm sure it costs the same in a restaurant there. Pay me when you're ready.

    Her: Well I have no money.

    Me: Well what do you expect me to do about that?

    Her: [Holding out the water bottle] Well I don't want it anymore then.

    Me: What am I supposed to do with that? You drank out of it. So you have to pay for it. How about I get my manager over here and he can tell you himself to pay for it?

    She agreed.

    I got my manager. I told him that when she asked for ramen the girl was a little off and to expect possible difficulties. As I recounted what just happened, he asked me what I wanted to do about it. I said call the cops and followed it with, "If she tries to run, I'm not afraid to tackle a bitch."

    Now, let me tell you I'm not a cold-hearted person. If she had come in, said she had no money and needed some water and a place to rest for a bit, we could have given her a small seat at the bar and a cup of water and let her sit there for a while. I've known what it's like to rely on the kindness of strangers. Just don't try to pull a fast one on me over a bottle of water. That's where I get mad. That's where you get no sympathy from me.

    He ended up taking the bottle of water away from her and telling her to leave. I unfortunately did not get to see her out as I was taking care of another table.

    The lesson to be learned? Be honest. Even people who have limited funds like to go out to eat. If you want to feed your family of five on one large cheese pizza with no appetizers or drinks, fine. Just don't sit at my table for two hours and let your kids throw shit everywhere. You get to eat, you don't make my life any harder, everyone is happy.


    The pseudononymous Patty Hunter brings you tales from the front lines of serverdom every week. She welcomes your comments. Catch up with the rest of this series and its companions in our Life At Work archive.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:30 AM | Permalink

    The [Thursday] Papers

    By Steve Rhodes

    I'll be at CommuniCamp today but I've prepared a column in advance. Maybe one the things we'll talk about is how to cope with former Tribune editors spreading into our ecosphere and sucking up resources.

    1. "I've known Warren since we were both reporters at the Sun-Times in the mid-70s," Michael Miner writes. "I have great respect for him. But I think the message his appointment sends, to the Reader and to Chicago, is more ambiguous than Gilbert may realize. What we have is the appearance of one former Tribune managing editor, O'Shea, looking out for another.

    "The Reader doesn't think of itself as a place to land; and it does think of itself as a paper launched - 38 years ago - as an alternative to staid dailies like the Tribune. 'Are there people there [at the Reader] who think, there's an alum of the almighty Tribune whom they might not particularly like overseeing them? Yeah, there might be,' Warren allows, and continues, 'It's a little bit weird for me. After all those years that I was seen as something of a Tribune iconoclast, to be seen now as a white-shirted Tribune managerial clone, or something."

    Believe me, what passes for an iconoclast at the Tribune is still well within squaresville not only at the Reader but at many other newspapers across the land. Does anyone remember the Tribune feature sections being inconoclastic under Warren's leadership? His signature product was the ill-advised "Q" section, which readers of the Beachwood know stood for Quagmire.

    Miner also points out that Warren has already promised - as publisher - to stick his hand into the editorial side of things, thus violating the separation of church-and-state most newsrooms at least pretend to maintain. That has to put both sides of the divide on edge; editor Alison True and her staff now have a new overlord who probably never even read their work when he was at the Tribune - because my experience is that shockingly few members of the local MSM do - now not only looking over their shoulders but trying to stick his fingers into the pot while also overseeing the ad staff, and the ad staff (and the rest of the business side) now wondering what it will be like to work for a boss whose only experience on that side of the fence comes from whatever trickled down from Tribune corporate that - as an iconoclast - he surely ignored.


    Says Reader commenter Pelham on O'Shea's new project: "Am I missing something, but is this not just Trib refugees who got the MacArthur Foundation to give them money to basically keep doing the same stuff they were doing before, only now on a quasi-freelance basis?

    "I'm not saying it's a bad idea - looks very interesting in fact - only that it's not super-innovative. The secret sauce looks like big shot connections to deep pocketed foundations."

    Well, it certainly isn't a track record of innovation, that's for sure.

    It's the Chicago Way. Pro bono services and office space provided by Jim Thompson's Winston & Strawn. Not even kidding.


    I guess I need more failure on my resume to raise money.

    2. Why the Tribune Company doesn't want to charge for online access.

    3. Looks like New Mexico State!

    Wow, that school must really suck.

    I guess I need more failure on my resume.

    4. Tank Johnson took time out from his busy schedule making millions playing for the Cincinnati Bengals to testify that he lied to police about the shooting at a River North nightclub that took his childhood friend's life.

    I'm doing life all wrong.

    5. "Chicago bank protests get wide coverage - elsewhere."

    6. In his first commercial in his campaign for governor, former chairman of the Illinois Republican Party and wealthy scion Andy McKenna calls himself an outsider.

    No, seriously.

    The fundraising committee co-chair for his 2004 U.S. Senate bid, Pat Ryan, could not be reached for comment.


    Enough with Rod Blagojevich's hair already. No one made fun of it until he got indicted. In fact, he was praised for having such a great head of hair; I remember how lonely it was arguing how much it sucked.


    McKenna - like many candidates from time immemorial - promises to clean up Illinois. But he refuses to say whether he would do away with free CTA rides for seniors to help clean up the budget.

    7. Mike Flannery joins the ranks of local "reporters" taking the claims of CeaseFire founder Gary Slutkin at face value. Flannery's report mentions a "new study," though it appears to reference an old study that I doubt Flannery has read. Flannery also fails to mention the state audit of CeaseFire that found the organization failed to track millions of dollars it was allotted. But after Flannery's report he and the CBS2 co-anchors personally endorsed the program and urged legislators to spend more taxpayer dollars supporting it.


    Headline on the web version of the story: "$18 Million Plan Could Save 300 Lives A Year."

    It could also save a million lives a year. Or not.


    Through September 30, there were 348 murders recorded in Chicago. So Slutkin's plan could make us murder-free in, what, a year-and-a-half?


    Murders are down 12 percent this year over last year. Not funding CeaseFire is working!

    8. "You've heard about Chicago's huge budget hole," CBS2's Jim Williams began a report this week. "But you probably haven't heard about a billion dollar pot of money that some alderman now say could be a life-saver for people struggling to put a roof over their heads."

    Huh. Now, why would CBS2's viewers have never heard of a billion-dollar pot of money just sort of laying around before?

    9. "I really love it when we band together against the customers," our very own Patty Hunter writes in her latest installment of At Your Service. "There is no better way to create a sense of unity than to coalesce against the common enemy, which in this case are the douchebags that attempt to make our lives a little less enjoyable."


    The Beachwood Tip Line: Your meal is ready.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:09 AM | Permalink

    October 28, 2009

    The [Wednesday] Papers

    By Steve Rhodes

    "Mayor Richard Daley on Tuesday tried to offer up a scapegoat for the puzzle of why property tax bills are soaring as home values are plummeting: Cook County Assessor James Houlihan," the Tribune reports.

    "As he promoted a modest city tax relief program, Daley also lashed out at the assessor, accusing him of not doing his part to keep a lid on tax bills expected to arrive in mailboxes the next few days.

    "'The thing I can't understand (is) this whole assessment deal,' the mayor said. 'Now, no one's value is going up in the city . . . I'm asking him how he does it'."

    The mayor was not only playing dumb, as we shall see, but engaging in a deceit designed to protect him politically that will end up only adding to the city's budget woes.

    First, do you mean to tell us, Mr. Mayor, that you don't understand how property tax assessments work?

    Oh, you do know how they work? Then what part of how Houlihan does his job do you not understand?

    You see, Daley understands perfectly.

    "Despite the attack, Daley didn't make clear how the assessor could have acted legally to alter the trajectory of the latest round of bills."

    In fact, Daley didn't make clear - as far as I can tell from the reporting - just what it is that Houlihan has done wrong.

    It's all a smokescreen, and here's why:

    "The mayor also did not mention that new bills to Chicago residents reflect a $65 million City Hall property tax increase passed two years ago but that's only showing up now."

    It's his tax increase!

    "This idea somehow that we're going around jacking up everybody's assessments is just fiction," Houlihan spokesman Eric Herman told the Trib.

    Because if that's what Houlihan was doing, you'd think there would be grounds to, oh, I don't know, sue? Prosecute? Something?

    Property tax bills, unfortunately, lag; they aren't generated in real-time.

    "In many northern suburbs and city neighborhoods, median percentage increases over last year will be in the double digits," the Trib notes. "Some lower-income areas in the city will experience some of the highest percentage spikes. Hardest hit is West Garfield Park, where the median increase of tax bills will top 46 percent.

    "How could a neighborhood ravaged by foreclosures during the last year be slapped with such an astounding hike? One big reason is an idiosyncratic tax system where assessments and tax bills lag far behind real time. The latest round of bills actually reflects 2008 taxes. For city neighborhoods, those bills were calculated using assessment values from 2006. That was in the middle of the real estate boom, when investors were sweeping into West Garfield Park, snapping up boarded-up homes and putting them on the market almost immediately. Buyers eager to capitalize on the city's next hot spot then bid up home prices and renovated or sold them again. Home values soared.

    "The bubble burst last year, too late to be factored into the tax bills that West Garfield Park homeowners have to pay this year."

    "We are legally prohibited from using current market conditions to go back and change assessments for a previous year," Herman told the paper.

    Daley surely knows that. But he plays an awfully good game of pretend.


    It gets worse.

    "Chicago homeowners squeezed by rising property tax bills could be in line for cash grants of up to $200, thanks to $35 million worth of property tax relief tied to Mayor Richard Daley's 2010 budget," the Sun-Times reports.

    Is this really the time to be sending out $200 checks to homeowners? Wouldn't we be better off applying that $35 million to the city's budget deficit?

    Thirty-five million dollars!

    Even worse: Daley wants to take that $35 million out of the parking meter lease proceeds. Thanks for giving us some of our money back! Maybe you should have just kept the meters.

    And worse yet: Those with household incomes up to $200,000 will be eligible for the $200 checks. Hmmm, I wonder how much the homeless are getting this year.

    And even worser: The city will not require you to prove your income. "You have to have faith in people," Daley said. Tell that to your parking enforcement patrol.

    And just a reminder: "Bills going out this week are the first to reflect the $83.4 million property tax increase that helped balance Daley's 2008 budget."


    "The property tax is a very attractive revenue source for local governments because it is not tied to people's ability to pay," Civic Federation President Laurence Msall told the Trib.

    Thought it is tied to the (outdated) value of one's property. But ability to pay is really about somebody's income, and that's why a progressive income tax is always the best, steadiest and most economically rational way to go.


    Similarly: "Obama wants seniors to get another $250."

    The White House estimates the plan would cost $13 billion over 10 years.

    It's only "a classic Washington gimmick" when somebody else does it.

    Calling Out Carol
    The next time Sun-Times sports columnist Carol Slezak asks an athlete a question, I hope he or she decides to let their game speak for itself.


    And only civilians "decline" to comment. Public figures refuse.

    Burke Smirk
    State Rep. Dan Burke - the brother of Ald. Ed Burke - is facing his first opponent in 19 years. Wow. Dan Burke must be really good. I wonder why we don't hear more about him.

    Boys Clubs
    I dunno, wouldn't you feel like you were at a disadvantage if your boss had regular social get-togethers with colleagues to which you weren't invited? I've heard reporters and editors in this town grouse (and rightly so) about just that.


    Let's pretend there were a dozen people on the Sun-Times editorial board. Let's say nine men and three women. And the editorial page editor was a man, as was his deputy. And the most influential voices in that room were male. Now, let's say that the editor had weekly basketball games with some of the other men on the board. If you were a woman, would you feel shut out? Would you wonder what the boys talked about during their games? Would you feel a bit alienated from their lockerroom camraderie in the workplace? It's far from "bunk," Mr. President.

    A Race Card Played Right
    Defending Bobbie Steele.

    School Closings Don't Work
    Most kids just sent to other crappy schools.

    Budget Play Opens
    Scripts ready to go.

    Missing Ben Gordon
    George Ofman says the Bulls will be sorry.

    Whither Forte
    Beachwood fantasy sports expert Dan O'Shea explains why you should keep him.


    The Beachwood Tip Line: Sweet relief.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:54 AM | Permalink

    Meeting Up Now

    By The Beachwood Meetup Affairs Desk

    The newest Chicago meetups.

    * The Palatine Raw Some Food Meetup Group

    * Chicago Desi Moms Playgroup

    * Green Business League

    * Let girls be girls

    * Europeans At Large

    * DuPage Bully Buddies

    * Chicago Content Strategists

    * Earth Spirit Coven of NW Indiana

    * Football For Fun and Exercise

    * Yorkville UU Study Group

    * Chicago Urdu Language (Adab) Meetup Group

    * Existentialosophy

    * Out of Work Chicago

    * Writing for Television and Film

    * The Chicago Magic the Gathering Meetup Group

    * Chi-Town Stampers

    * Lively Awesome Ladies 50- 70

    * Three Finger Fencl Alternative Rock Band

    * Pagan Yoga, in harmony with the moon, elements, seasons.

    * Chicagoland Nutrition Meetup Group

    * Life Changing Travel - Volunteer Travel Making A Difference

    * Walking Works

    * The Northwest Suburb Movie and Dining Group

    * "Let's Lighten Up, Lake County!"

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:02 AM | Permalink

    The Ben-less Bulls

    By George Ofman

    Ben Gordon is gone, and to the Pistons, no less.

    He leaves behind nearly 20 points a game, a solid reputation on and off the floor, and the ability to carry a team in the fourth quarter.

    Fantasy Fix:
  • Ditch Forte?

  • So who replaces the leading scorer who also doubled as your go-to guy?

    Better hope the sophomore jinx is just a hoax.

    Derrick Rose, come on down! And bring some help. You'll need it.

    Pundits, or in this case, the ill-informed, might blurt out the Bulls are better off without Gordon because he was a defensive disaster and stymied Rose's growth as The Man.

    This is the same so-called liability that played on Bulls teams that finished first in the league in defending the shot in '04-'05 and '05-'06, and second in the league in '06-'07.

    Then Scott Skiles was shown the door and and when he left he took the Bulls' ability to defend anything with him.

    Yet, despite the departure of Gordon and his suspect defense, the Bulls should finish second in the Central Division. This is like being handed the keys to a Yaris. It runs, but don't expect a Lexis.

    Then again, the Eastern Conference is an invitation to mediocrity, save for a very few. A .500 record could earn you a sixth seed, maybe even a fifth and possibly a lead role on Survivor. The Bulls checked in at 41-41 last season, good enough for the seventh spot and a spectacularly entertaining - though very deceiving - seven-game playoff thriller against the Celtics, replete with myriad overtimes, gushing admirers and oozing optimism about what lies ahead.

    What lies ahead could be another .500 season, another trip to the post-season and perhaps, another one-and-done.

    It all depends.

    Can Luol Deng retrieve his game of three seasons ago when he averaged nearly 19 points on 52 percent shooting?

    Can Kirk Hinrich adhere to coming off the bench and retrieve his game of three seasons ago when he averaged 16 points a game?

    Can Tyrus Thomas harness a bundle of talent and become the impact player he says he wants to be?

    Can Joakim Noah ruffle enough feathers to be a worthwhile contributor on a consistent basis?

    Can Vinny Del Negro learn to coach better?

    That's a lot of questions to answer.

    Deng claims he's a rhythm player so start dancing again. Deng missed the last 29 games of the season because of a stress fracture in his right tibia. Some fans were stressed out because Deng was starting to look and play soft before being rendered useless. Let's face it: you expect more from a guy getting paid $71 million, and you should. Deng has to be in rhythm with Rose first, something he had trouble adjusting to. Here's your dance partner, Luol.

    Hinrich also missed a slew of games because of a thumb injury. He's more than a role player; Hinrich is arguably the Bulls best defensive player and you know he'll average more than 10 points if he plays 80 games, even if he comes off the bench.

    And then there is Thomas, an enigma wrapped up in a body that can conquer the court. But will he let his mind into this picture? Remember, Thomas is all of 23 and had he stayed in college, this would be his rookie season. Still, his numbers have steadily risen while dealing with seemingly more head coaches than Matt Forte rushing yards. There is no doubt he has talent. Thomas managed 18 double-doubles last season.

    Noah is character, though he started to emerge in the second half of the season. He averaged nine and nine in February, March and April and made his presence known in the playoffs. Fewer fouls might mean more minutes.

    Del Negro reaped a heap of criticism in his first year - deservedly so. He needs to stress defense since the Bulls finished 23rd last season. He needs to understand what a clock means especially late in games. And he needs to allow Rose to grow even if it means letting him play crucial fourth-quarter minutes. This could very well be Del Negro's last season no matter how the Bulls fare.

    I predicted the Bulls to go 43-39 last season. I'm predicting exactly the same this season, with a trip to the playoffs and . . . another first-round knockout. It won't matter who they play.


    George Ofman, an original member of The Score and a veteran of NPR, has covered more than 3,500 sporting events over the course of his career. Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:58 AM | Permalink

    Fantasy Fix: Cleaning House

    By Dan O'Shea

    First, an apology of sorts: Last week, I recommended picking up Julian Edelman, he of the rare QB/WR eligibility, primarily based on the likelihood that he was about to become New England's third-busiest receiver (which is like being the No. 1 receiver on some teams). However, later in the week, it was revealed that Edelman had suffered a broken arm in the previous game, ruling him out.

    Why it took several days for this news to come out I have no idea, though New England Coach Bill Belichick is notoriously stingy with even the most obvious injury information. In any case, scratch Edelman until further notice.

    And, while we're on the subject of unloading dead weight, Week 8, the traditional (if no longer actual) halfway point of the season is a good time to start cleaning house. It may be time to give up on early-round disappointments and borderline sleepers who just haven't paid off. On the other hand, a couple guys out there who haven't been delivering may still have a chance to wake up. Here are out Fantasy Fix Action Ratings to give you a few ideas what to do in each case.

    Player: Roy Williams, WR
    Comment: A pre-season top 50 sleeper who was supposed to have a breakout year, Williams was done in by the rise of fellow WR Miles Austin and the struggles of QB Tony Romo. Romo looks to be back on track, but Austin has become the big-gain threat Williams should have been.


    Player: LaDainian Tomlinson, RB
    Comment: Nothing new here as another former fantasy stud limps toward insignificance. Now is probably the perfect time to trade him because he had season-high rushing yards last week (though only 71 yards, if you can believe it). He still gets the most touches, but fellow San Diego RB Darren Sproles is more valuable as a fantasy points prospect.


    Player: Steve Smith, WR (Carolina)
    FFAR: Another good-timing trade opportunity, as this pre-season top 20 player and top five WR caught 99 yards worth of passes last week, though Carolina's problems at QB have left him without a score and inconsistent output is likely to continue, as Carolina has two RB studs hogging all the chances.


    Player: LenDale White, RB
    Comment: He was a chic sleeper pick after he lost a bunch of weight in the off-season (by quitting tequila, he said), but Chris Johnson has been fantastic as the busier RB for Tennessee, and the Titans' otherwise woeful play has afforded him few chance to do much. He's also injured at least for this week.


    Player: Michael Crabtree, WR
    Comment: He's more than 70 percent-owned in Yahoo!, so many owners must have been patient, and that patience will really pay off in the second half of the season. Even with San Francisco switching QBs this week, he should get a steady feed of passes in weeks to come.


    Player: Matt Forte, RB
    Comment: A huge disappointment, with little hope for a big rushing game in the second half, but hold him if you can because he will probably be seeing more Jay Cutler passes for two reasons: 1) The Bears are committed to getting him involved somehow, and 2) With interceptions piling up, Cutler will be assigned to throw more short passes in the second half.


    Player: Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR
    Comment: Sounds crazy with Oakland in complete disarray, but if you can afford the roster spot, shelve him for a couple weeks. Oakland may put the ball in his hands more often via both pass and hand-off/pitch to give their fans a bit of hope for next year.

    Expert Wire
    * FantasyFootball Today notes that Washington TE Chris Cooley is out for the foreseeable future after breaking his tibia on Monday Night Football. He was the Redskins' busiest receiver, so a reliable source of TE fantasy points.

    * Bleacher Report has Week 8 waiver wire advice, including a recommendation to pick up Beanie Wells. He was MIA earlier this year as Arizona ignored him and stuck with the ineffective Tim Hightower and a pass-first-then-pass-again mentality. But, he just had a big game Sunday night, and seems to be getting more touches than Hightower.

    * FanHouse has still more adoration for Dallas WR Miles Austin. The cat's out of the bag and already across the border, but I mention this if only because FanHouse's post also mentions forgotten Dallas WR Patrick Crayton. With Romo on track and Austin now on the radar of opposing defenses, I wonder of Crayton, rather than Williams, actually may benefit from a few more looks. Might be worth watching, as he's only 36% owned in Yahoo! Leagues.

    Fantasy Basketball
    We have to admit we are way behind this year as the season is about to get started. Is it me, or is there just a lack of potential post-top 20 treasures this year?

    Second-year players usually can be counted on for some fireworks, but after big-man Brook Lopez, you've got guys in the sophomore class like Derrick Rose and Kevin Love, who are injury concerns. Michael Beasley is a character nightmare. Will O.J. Mayo break out? Jerryd Bayless? Danilo Gallinari? Russell Westbrook? None is screaming "pick me early" this year.

    If you are going to find sleepers this year, I think you need to look deeper into that second-year class. A few names come to mind, the first one fairly obvious:

    D.J. Augustin, PG/SG: He was left out of many drafts because he wasn't going to start, but it looks like he'll be busy as a sixth man and occasional starter. He contributes everything you want to see at his position - steals, three-pointers and assists.

    Roy Hibbert, C: He was mostly ineffective as a rookie because his propensity to foul left him with little playing time, but his pre-season blocks-per-game of almost four suggest he could finish on Dwight Howard-Brook Lopez-Marcus Camby territory. Any other production is a bonus.

    Anthony Randolph, PF: Another big-time shot blocker who is already something of a chic circa-fifth-round pick. His offensive production is a work in progress, and out of a PF, you need more than the six rebounds-per-game he delivered in his rookie year, but a decent shooter percentage-wise and a busy ball-stealer.

    Ryan Anderson, PF/C: He didn't do much with New Jersey last year, but moved to Orlando in the off-season, where he will now start at PF. He has rare three-point potential from his position, and should get a lot of Dwight Howard's missed shots to slam home.


    Dan O'Shea's Fantasy Fix appears in this space every Wednesday. Tips, comments, and suggestions are welcome. You can also read his about his split sports fan personality at SwingsBothWays, which isn't about what it sounds like it's about.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:58 AM | Permalink

    October 27, 2009

    The [Tuesday] Papers

    By Steve Rhodes

    1. Oh for godsakes! Could you be any more of a buzzkill?

    2. Oh for godsakes! Could you be any more of a tool for saying this?

    "Is there even a shred of evidence that a legislator is under the thumb of a legislative leader because of campaign spending? I don't see it. I see members elected from competitive districts vote in the best interests of their district, which is often counter to the way the legislative leader votes."

    3. Oh for godsakes! Jesus is watching, Rickey. And boy is He pissed.

    4. Oh for godsakes! Can't we at least boot their cars?

    5. Oh for godsakes! Could Microsoft get any lamer?

    6. Oh for godsakes! Bill Keller is familiarizing himself with his website!

    7. Oh for godsakes! About as accurate as a click poll.

    8. Oh for godsakes! The problem is not the public!

    9. Oh for godsakes! Jazz is in our gas tanks?


    "What say?" writes Peter Margasak.

    "As much as I love jazz, not even with the rosiest of rose-colored glasses could I delude myself into believing that Chicago bears the remotest resemblance to the city Keller imagines."


    Julia Keller is a case study in overwriting as badly as one can.

    From Sunday:

    "On a recent morning, one of those infernally windy autumn days when trees, dogs, rocks, trucks and people seem vulnerable to being suddenly borne aloft by feisty air currents like Dorothy's farmhouse in The Wizard of Oz, Mary Dempsey, a member of her staff and a reporter were walking across the parking lot of the Chicago Public Library branch at 1101 W. Taylor St., one of the 78 locations that function as Mini-Me versions of the Harold Washington Library Center at 400 S. State St."


    Excuse me while I go put some more jazz in my gas tank.

    Milton Madness
    From the People Are Who They Are files, via Rick Telander:

    "Former small-town baseball writer John Hoffman sent me a piece he wrote back in 1999 about young Milton Bradley. It was part of his Baltimore Orioles Farm and Minor-League Report.

    "Here it is:

    '''Expos top prospect Milton Bradley didn't waste much time trying to lead the Eastern League in hitting after returning from his latest suspension. Bradley, who was suspended the last five games of the Maryland Fall League for slapping an umpire, continued his torrid hitting after sitting out a seven-day suspension in the Eastern League this spring for fighting another player and spitting on the umpire who ejected him from the game.

    '''Bradley, who was always pleasant in the past talking to sportswriters, was guarded after his return to the Harrisburg Senators. He told us that his time in the Maryland Fall League playing on the Delmarva Rockfish didn't help him improve his game, that it just meant five more weeks of playing baseball'.''

    Shadow Budget
    "As Waguespack points out, in a more efficiently run system the schools, parks, and county would raise their own money for projects like new high schools or field houses - without having to convince the mayor's people to give them a piece of the property tax yield that was diverted from their pots in the first place," Mick Dumke and Ben Joravsky write.

    "But then that would undercut the mayor's power. 'If you control the money, you control the system,' says 22nd Ward alderman Rick Munoz."

    Tell that to Don Harmon.

    Balloon Boys
    Maybe those Northwest pilots are just trying to get their own reality show.


    Inside the Northwest cockpit.

    Threat Alert
    Hugh (about half-way down) has a point.

    The Very Bad News Bears
    "I've now read and heard just about every description about the Bears loss at Cincinnati," our very own George Ofman writes. "Let's see . . . there is abominable, repugnant, disgusting, miserable, shameful, abysmal, embarrassing, gutless, humiliating, sickening, overmatched (too complimentary for my tastes but I had to include it), pathetic and we sucked!

    ""'We sucked' came courtesy of Lance Briggs.

    "Those descriptions also could describe the people at the top. They're the ones who chose these Bears. They're the ones who coach these Bears. And they deserve just as much grief as the players. Maybe more!"

    Heisman and HAL
    "Much like participants in the various Top 25 polls, Heisman voters are fickle," our very own Mike Luce writes. "Familiarity doesn't so much breed contempt, but disinterest. Thus the door has opened to some unexpected candidates."


    The Beachwood Tip Line: Bring da noise.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:56 AM | Permalink

    The Very Bad News Bears

    By George Ofman

    I've now read and heard just about every description about the Bears loss at Cincinnati. Let's see . . . there is abominable, repugnant, disgusting, miserable, shameful, abysmal, embarrassing, gutless, humiliating, sickening, overmatched (too complimentary for my tastes but I had to include it), pathetic and we sucked!

  • The Heisman and HAL

  • "We sucked" came courtesy of Lance Briggs.

    Those descriptions also could describe the people at the top. They're the ones who chose these Bears. They're the ones who coach these Bears. And they deserve just as much grief as the players. Maybe more!

    It was Jerry Angelo who pulled the trigger on Frank OhmyGod (Omiyale, the tackle playing guard who can't play dead), Orlando Pace (who is dead), Zack Bowman (lost in space) and Jay Cutler. The deal to obtain the so-called franchise quarterback still was the right one, though the price may ultimately prove too much. The Bears are without first-round picks in the next two drafts and without a second next year as a result of the trade for Gaines Adams. The last I looked, NFL teams build through the draft. Smart ones do, anyway. There are a lot of dumb ones in the league. Check out the Rams, Chiefs, Browns, Bills . . .

    The Bears?

    Didn't they draft Cedric Benson?

    And Kyle Orton?

    And Bernard Berrian?

    Are they better players now than then?

    But this is just as much about coaching as it is a lack of judgment and talent.

    The cover two can't cover one! Please, send it back to Tampa.

    The coach who employs it also took over the reigns as defensive coordinator this season. This would be Lovie Smith who, along with Angelo, sacked Ron Rivera after the Bears appearance in the Super Bowl. Smith wanted his buddy Bob Babich to run the defense. It was a disaster of such proportions that Smith demoted him and took over the defensive play-calling for himself.

    The results speak for themselves.

    And the Bears still can't tackle.

    Granted, this team is playing without Brian Urlacher and Pia Tinoisamoa, both of whom would be starting and, one would suggest, having more of an impact than Hunter Hillenmeyer and Nick Roach. But Lovie stressed the Bears have depth at that position.

    Depth is a matter of perception.

    Even the addition of Rod Marinelli, the miracle worker who was supposed to amp up the defensive line, hasn't made much of a difference. How many times did the Bears sack Carson Palmer? None. How many times did the Bears sack Matt Ryan? None. How many times did they pressure either guy? Not many.

    So quarterbacks with any talent are killing the Bears. And one day soon, their quarterback could get killed. Cutler has been sacked once every 18 snaps. In Denver, he was sacked once every 57. Do the math.

    While the offensive line has been woeful, Cutler hasn't been much better; witness his 10 interceptions, which rank second in the league. His judgment has been cloudy and his head could wind up in the same condition.

    Then there's the saga of Tommie Harris. Angelo also awarded Harris with a new contract. A $40 million contract after he underwent knee surgery. Harris has been a non-factor this season, unless you factor in the subterfuge.

    Harris didn't play on Sunday, having not practiced during the week with an alleged knee injury. But was Harris really injured? "It wasn't true," he told the Sun-Times.

    This was while Harris was on the field in Cincinnati working out in shorts before the game.

    And on the previous Thursday, Angelo said that Harris was healthy. Yet he missed the game because of a knee injury.

    Well, not exactly. After the game Lovie said he benched Harris there were better options for the Bengals game. Translated, Harris wasn't ready because he doesn't practice hard enough, doesn't care or just can't play well anymore. Pick one or pick them all!

    Just another subplot to this season's edition of All My Bears. Stay tuned to find out who gets bumped off the show. You won't want to miss that.


    George Ofman, an original member of The Score and a veteran of NPR, has covered more than 3,500 sporting events over the course of his career. Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:27 AM | Permalink

    The College Football Report

    By Mike Luce

    This week's Report is dedicated to Ed Smith, Frank Eliscu, Sam Bradford, SEC officiating, Michigan's letter of inquiry from the NCAA, and Sam Bradford's shoulder.

    We have reached an important milestone in the college football season. The BCS standings have been out for two weeks. Nearly every team has played at least seven games. The season for some is all but over. Teams such as Illinois (1-6), Louisville (2-5), Maryland (2-6), Vanderbilt (2-6) and Washington State (1-6) can only hope to play spoiler in their remaining games. Some coaches can stir up some plucky wins, or at least moral victories, in tough times. Others seem to have one eye on the indoor driving range. This past weekend saw a number of teams (Mizzou, Louisville, Hawaii) roll over and play dead. Keep an eye on such teams - as being mathematically eliminated (i.e. with no hope of finishing .500 or better) from post-season play can sap all the fight from such heavy underdogs.

    Meanwhile, teams such as 'Bama, Florida, Texas, Boise State, Iowa, Cincinnati and TCU hope to hang on. The phrase "controls their own destiny" will come up a lot in the coming weeks. (I'm putting the O/U at about . . . 900 times.) Each will likely survive at least one close scrape and undoubtedly at least one will blunder into a surprising upset. The Tide and the Gators each avoided huge upsets in the past two weeks. If my sources are correct, only Boise plays unranked opponents for the duration of the season - each of the other teams still must face one (if not two, ahem . . . Cincinnati) teams currently among the Top 25. The BCS standings will come under intense scrutiny as the HAL 9000 works its magic.

    In addition to the controversy that will inevitably swirl around the BCS, conference championship games (or lack thereof), and issues like strength of schedule, we should expect to see a favorite emerge from among a surprising field of candidates for the Heisman Memorial Trophy Award. If you lost track of the Heisman race, don't feel bad. You're not alone. Most college football fans could be excused for expecting that, by now, the bronze statuette would have been melted down and recast in the likeness of Tim Tebow.

    Not so, however. Rather, a year projected by many as a three-man competition has turned into a wide-open horse race. Remember The Year of the Quarterback? Of the big three, one (Bradford) has been lost to injury, another (Tebow) has not been his usual Superman-like self, and the third (McCoy) has yet to blow anyone away. Much like participants in the various Top 25 polls, Heisman voters are fickle. Familiarity doesn't so much breed contempt, but disinterest. Thus the door has opened to some unexpected candidates . . .

    The College Football Report Highly Unscientific Heisman Projection, Week 8

    1. Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama: Ingram has followed up a strong freshman season with some impressive performances. Prior to last weekend against Tennessee, Ingram had yet to lose a fumble and had scored in every game. While Ingram broke the 1,000-yard mark, he failed to distinguish himself as the front-runner. If he can hold off the inevitable challenges by McCoy and Tebow, he may become the second true sophomore to take home the trophy.

    2. Colt McCoy, QB, Texas: McCoy is a very good quarterback, and excels as a pure passer compared to Tebow's multi-dimensional attack. He also plays for an excellent team, which never hurts. And he's sooo dreamy.

    3. Tim Tebow, QB, Florida: The concussion dominates most "What's wrong with Tebow?" theories, but you can trace Florida's offensive woes back even further, at least to its humdrum result again Tennessee. And if we hadn't seen Tebow absolutely dominate last season, would he even crack the top five?

    4. Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame: Clausen probably appears higher on some Heisman projections than Tebow at this point. And while he helped his chances by breaking BC's hold on the Irish last week, Clausen might be the second-best offensive player (next to WR Golden Tate) on his own team. Toss in his inability to close the deal in crunch time versus USC, and I think Clausen ends up in the mix but just short.

    5. Eric Berry, DB, Tennessee: Berry must be looking forward to cashing his NFL checks. And for good reason.

    6. Honorable mentions: Quarterbacks Keenum (Houston) and Pike (Cincinnati), defensive linemen Cody (Alabama) and Suh (Nebraska), and Mr. Everything, C.J. Spiller (Clemson).


    Here is a quick rundown of last week's action: TCU and Georgia Tech turned in the most impressive performances, while 'Bama and Southern Cal had to hold off comeback bids. Iowa eked out a win on the road to keep BCS dreams alive for the Big 10, and Boise wrapped up Saturday with a late game out in Hawaii.


    Finally, I'm sad to note that the offices of The Report seem a little less bright, the air a bit stale, and the High Life a tad flat. The Hurricanes lost again. Miami, our darling one-loss team, fell to Clemson in overtime. I can only compare the feeling around here to that sensation you get when seeing your girlfriend in a sweatshirt for the first time. A little bit of the magic is gone forever.


    Tennessee 10 @ #1 Alabama 12 (-14)*
    #2 Florida 29 (-22) @ Mississippi State 19
    #3 Texas 41 (-13.5) @ Missouri 7
    Oregon State 36 @ #4 USC 42 (-21)**
    Louisville 10 @ #5 Cincinnati 41 (-17)***
    #6 Boise State 54 (-25) @ Hawaii 9****
    #7 Iowa 15 @ Michigan State 13 (-1.5)
    Clemson 40 @ #8 Miami (FL) 37 (-4.5)
    Auburn 10 @ #9 LSU 31 (-7.5)
    #10 TCU 38 (-2.5) @ #16 BYU 7
    #11 Georgia Tech 34 (-6) @ Virginia 9
    #12 Oregon 43 (-9.5) @ Washington 19
    #13 Penn State 35 (-4) @ Michigan 10
    #14 Oklahoma State 34 (-9.5) @ Baylor 7
    Southern Methodist 15 @ #17 Houston 38 (-16.5)
    Minnesota 7 @ #18 Ohio State 38 (-17)
    Air Force 16 @ #19 Utah 23 (-9)
    South Florida 14 @ #20 Pittsburgh 41 (-6.5)
    Texas A&M 52 @ #21 Texas Tech 30 (-21.5)
    Connecticut 24 @ #22 West Virginia 28 (-7.5)*****
    Vanderbilt 10 @ #23 South Carolina 14 (-14)
    #25 Oklahoma 35 (-8.5) @ #24 Kansas 13

    * Yikes!
    ** Double yikes! What's happening around here? Don't these teams know that the BCS HAL 9000 is watching?!
    *** Probably the last time you could safely bet on Cincinnati this season.
    **** What does it mean when you talk to your bookie on Sunday and he's disappointed not to have heard from you the night before? I mean, hypothetically. Is that a problem? Or just good customer service?
    ***** West Virginia may be my rebound team. We'll see if it turns out to be more than just a one-weekend thing.


    Mike "Dr. Dude" Luce brings you The College Football Report in this space twice a week. He welcomes your comments.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:09 AM | Permalink

    October 26, 2009

    The [Monday] Papers

    By Steve Rhodes

    1. "The primary problem with the Lovie Smith coaching philosophy and persona reveals itself in games like Sunday's Bears debacle at Cincinnati," our very own Jim Coffman writes in SportsMonday.

    Find out what he means.

    2. From the Sun-Times:

    "On the eve of the 1996 season, Illinois athletic director Ron Guenther said coach Lou Tepper would be back in 1997 'no matter what.'

    "That was false.

    "Before the 2004 season, Guenther said of coach Ron Turner, 'There's no hot seat. He's our guy.'

    "That was false.

    "During Saturday's loss to Purdue, Guenther said coach Ron Zook would return in 2010.



    Maybe Ron Guenther is the one who should lose his job.


    Notre Dame's athletic director is also on the hot seat. Guess who put him there?

    3. Good Day Chicago's Jan Jeffcoat says she's going as balloon boy for Halloween. How? She's going to hide in the attic.

    4. "Daley himself reminded us of City Hall's defensive culture when he met with the Sun-Times Editorial Board last week. When asked a perfectly reasonable question, he gave a perfectly dismissive answer.

    "This was the question:

    "If the city can get along with all city employees taking 24 unpaid furlough days next year, as called for in his budget, is it possible all these employees are not needed in the first place?

    "To which the mayor replied, 'First of all, it's a loss of pay for a lot of people.'

    "When we assured him that we were not 'belittling' any employee, Daley shot back, 'Yes, you are'."


    I'm sort of with Daley on this one. I only wish he would have asked the Sun-Times folks the same question: Seeing as how you continue to put out a paper with an emaciated staff due to your own budget cuts, were those people let go really necessary to begin with?

    Of course the answer is "But we're putting out an even cruddier product now and continuing at this staffing level is not sustainable."

    Similarly, massive layoffs of city workers isn't necessarily going to do anyone any good. Garbage will pile up, the police force will remain too small, etc. etc.

    I'm sure there are still slackers and hacks on the public payroll, but there are slackers and hacks on the Sun-Times payroll too. They're barking up the wrong tree. It's the pinstripe patronage - the deals that developers and the mayor's buddies keep cashing in on - that are the problem as far as waste in city government goes. And the Sun-Times apparently didn't even ask about the shadow TIF budget, which equals one-sixth of the "real" budget.

    Putting more people out of work in a bad economy is counter-productive. It's the mayor's spending that ought to get scrutinized, not his payroll.

    4. Legoland, Illinois?

    5. David Spade spits on Chris Farley's grave.

    6. "Elvis leaves the building. Every hour on the hour."

    7. "Tribune Sets Its Sights on New York Times' Luxury Ads."

    8. "The Chicago Sun-Times' Monday through Friday average circulation over the six-month reporting period was 275,641, a decline of 12 percent compared with the same period a year ago," the paper announced. "The newspaper's Sunday circulation over the six-month reporting period was 251,260, down 1.8 percent. Over the same timeframe, Saturday's average circulation was 210,027, down 7.9 percent."

    Apparently this means the strategy is working.

    "During this most recent period, we successfully executed our strategy to increase the prices of all of Sun-Times Media's newspapers as many newspapers have done in the face of rising production costs, including competitors in our marketplace," said Rick Surkamer, President and Chief Operating Officer of Sun-Times Media Group.

    In other words, we successfully shed thousands of customers by pricing them out of the market!

    9. "An Illinois man who was hurt while playing 'wallyball' can collect workers' compensation benefits because he was on the job, a state appeals court ruled," the Courthouse News Service reports.

    10. Showdown in Chicago.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:14 AM | Permalink

    Spade Robs Farley's Grave

    By David Rutter

    David Spade has made an actor's living as the creepy letch who pretends he's way younger that his 40 or so, solely as a technique to snag hot babes.

    Turns out he's even creepier in real life than what he played on TV

    His most recent commercial for DirecTV matches him with the ghostly superimposed Chris Farley during their Tommy Boy turn.

    Except now Spade looks 45 in addition to being 45.

    And no, there appears to be no nobler ulterior involvement, such as arguing against overindulgence and a dissolute lifestyle which did in Farley, or perhaps donating proceeds to some charity. This is a cash deal, baby. Creepy is the new greedy, I guess.

    The statute of limitations on good taste and reverence for a departed loved one apparently is 12 years, which coincidentally, is just how long Farley has been dead.

    So, now we know what to think of Spade for making another buck off his dead friend (the one with talent).

    But what's DirecTV's defense? Their execs missed school on the day when business ethics was discussed? Wait, I forgot. Rupert Murdoch bought the company for $6.6 billion***. I guess that answers the tastefulness puzzle.

    But maybe they'll listen. Call them. Inundate them at 1-800-531-5000. I did. Ten times.


    ***CLARIFICATION: Murdoch agreed to sell his share of DirecTV to Liberty Media in 2006; the deal was finalized last year.



    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:51 AM | Permalink


    By Jim Coffman

    The primary problem with the Lovie Smith coaching philosophy and persona reveals itself in games like Sunday's Bears debacle at Cincinnati.

    Running back Ced Benson's comments early last week, the ones in which he declined to take any responsibility for his terrible tenure in Chicago, should have been motivational gold.

  • Scheduling Notre Dame

  • According to Smilin' Ced, it was the Bears (teammates who were never as supportive as they should have been) and their coaches (who weren't good at their jobs) who were to blame for the fact that he was one of the all-time Bear busts. And I know everyone considers the source when desperate-for-attention wide receiver Chad Ochocinco blathers on about his own greatness and his competition's shortcomings. But there was still plenty of material there as well that should have made for more spirited practices leading up to Sunday's game and given the Bears an extra edge right from the opening kickoff.

    But this is the coach who is always cool, who doesn't let anything disturb his equilibrium. He wants to make sure his team never gets too high or too low and he tries to do so by making sure he never gets even the slightest bit high or low.

    Leading up to the game, it was fascinating how Bears beat writers in both papers didn't make a big deal out of Ochocinco's comments, Twitter snippets in which he slammed Bears cornerback Charles Tillman and went on and on about his own abilities. They knew Smith wouldn't (or couldn't) even try to use the big-mouthed Cincinnati receivers' words against him.

    Sure enough, not only did the Bears not display any extra fire on Sunday in Cincy, they didn't even achieve an average energy level in the early going. And the situation went from bad to disastrous in a hurry.

    Bengal quarterback Carson Palmer was so good Sunday that it might not have mattered how motivated the Bears were. But at least the game might not have been so utterly embarrassing.

    In general, I'm a fan of coaches who stay calm just about no matter what. I do believe a team has a better chance of staying relaxed and performing well in the clutch if its leader stays calm and collected throughout.

    But especially on the gridiron, there are going to be games where the winner will look back on some pre-game motivational fodder as having made a considerable difference, especially when opposing disrespect has actually filled the air.

    I try desperately to avoid pre-game analysis on television. So many talking heads project so much on a given Sunday morning, only to so frequently be proven wrong. And then they just come back and do it all over again the next week.

    On Sunday, one of the pre-game shows was on briefly in my house and I listened in just long enough to hear former Bear coach Mike Ditka preview New England versus Tampa Bay. He zeroed in on one Patriot weakness in particular - the play of its secondary. So what was the first touchdown scored Sunday? Patriot safety Brandon Meriweather notched a pick-six.

    So I wasn't listening and therefore can't say if Sunday's play-by-play man, Sam Rosen, or analyst Tim Ryan, spent any time in the moments leading up to the opening kickoff making any mention of the many shortcomings (poor attitude, sense of entitlement, lack of work ethic to name the three most damning) Benson displayed during his time with the Bears. During the game, other than one brief reference to the running back having grown up since he came to the Bengals, Ryan and Rosen threw bouquet after bouquet Benson's direction. Do you think they have any idea that what actually happened here was that the bad guy won?

    Hopefully, someone out there turned off the TV because they knew I would watch the second half so they wouldn't have to. Hopefully they were like my son, who had seen enough at that point and went outside to play and take advantage of a decent, mild afternoon. If just one fan made better use of their late afternoon secure in the knowledge that I would fill them in on any notable second-half doings, my job here is at least partially done.

    The third quarter began with renewed, if ridiculous-on-its-facemask optimism for the Bears. The dim-witted sideline reporter managed to report without giggling that coach Lovie believed the Bears had seized the momentum with a late first-half field goal. My feeling is you can't really derive any sort of momentum from a half that ends with the other team leading 31-3, but maybe it was just that I had once again failed to properly temper my cynical side.

    Then again, Evanston was the scene on Saturday of one of the great comebacks in this or any college football season. The Northwestern Wildcats trailed 28-3 at the intermission before finding a way to prevail 29-28. If Northwestern could do it, why not the Bears?

    Well, first guard Frank Omiyale simply whiffed in his attempt to block a Bengal defensive lineman, leading to a sack during the Bears' first possession. Then Orlando Pace was called for holding (it always comes back to the offensive line with this team and that is a big problem). Soon Jay Cutler was fumbling and bumbling a second shotgun snap (both weren't perfect but they certainly should have been caught).

    The Bears almost caught a break when a Bengal defensive back foolishly caught a fourth-down interception deep down the field. But what could have been a 30-yard field position swing (if the guy had just knocked the ball down, the Bengals would have had it way back up at the line of scrimmage) was squandered when first Earl Bennett and then several other Bears failed to touch the Bengal defensive back down (or tackle him) before he made it all the way back to just short of his team's 40-yard line.

    The last two Bengal touchdowns were especially delightful. Ochocinco established once and for all that over-confidence pays off when he hauled in his second touchdown pass in the third quarter. And in the fourth, Benson capped off his delightful day with a one-yard touchdown plunge and a beaming victory lap over behind his team's bench..

    Later in the half, that same, special sideline reporter (whose name is Laura Okmin) turned in a report about Ochocinco wearing a special helmet with an extra buckle to combat what he was sure would be an extra physical performance by the Bear defense.

    I'm sure Okmin identified that as a report she would be able to do before the game but still, Ms. Okmin, you need to be able to think on your feet a bit, to perhaps decide not to report on something if it turns out to be hysterically laughably incongruous.

    There were so many more happy, shiny words about Benson. If analyst Tim Ryan had set out to torture Bears fans with these sentiments, he couldn't have done a better job.

    The Bears roughed the Bengal punter on his only punt of the day, Bear back-up Caleb Hanie came in at quarterback, and his only throw of consequence flew high into the air and begged to be intercepted before somehow finding its way to the turf. And shortly thereafter, mercifully and blessedly, it was finally over.


    Jim Coffman rounds up the sports weekend in this space every Monday. He welcomes your comments.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:35 AM | Permalink

    Scheduling Notre Dame

    By David Rutter

    Charlie Weis memo to Jack Swarbrick: Thanks, pal.

    If being Notre Dame's football coach is one of the least stable jobs in sports, then being the athletic director in South Bend isn't far behind.

    The big red bullseye that has long been on Weis is now also on Swarbrick - and he has no one but himself to blame. As one aggrieved alum wrote on an ND message board: "He put the gun into his own hands and then pointed it to his head."

    The contract has been put out. If Weis is flying blind into potential unemployment if the Irish don't go big bowl this year, Swarbrick is sitting in the co-pilot's chair.

    Have someone taste test your meals, Jack. Send a disfavored cousin out to start your car in the morning. Jack doesn't need a secretary. He needs a war consiglieri.

    The central front of this little war is where the large amoebic group of crazed fans loosely referred to as "The Subway Alumni" meet. Some are former players, many are grads, most are professional folks with an insane devotion to the Irish. They live at "Rock's House" on

    These are not merely fans. They are FWBM; Fans With Big Money. The anger inside this bee swarm often generates the heat that gets ND football coaches sent to Siberia. And most important, all have a serious attitude what Notre Dame football is and what it should be.

    So when Swarbrick announced last week that he had filled the 2010 schedule with Utah, Tulsa and Western Effing Michigan, the Subways went loony bin. They stopped talking about Charlie Weis' flaws, the pain of the annual Southern Cal embarrassment, and seemingly eternal humiliations from Boston College. The weekly lottery on who the next coach will be - erstwhile pro coach Jon Gruden or Cincinnati's Brian Kelly - was muted.

    The gang at the Rock's House was in total Nurse Ratched Mode over Swarbrick and the schedule.

    In reality, this started last year when Swarbrick scheduled a "home game" in San Antonio with Washington State. And then added Connecticut. And then a "home game' in Chicago against Army. It would be kind to call these dates understated in fan attractiveness.

    This "home game" in another time zone concept seemed to Swarbrick as a great marketing tactic. To the Subways, it was apocalypse. They want to play Florida or Alabama or LSU in home-and home-dates. Swarbrick wants seven homes each year and mostly with no return road game in the deal. This limits the gene pool. But Western Effing Michigan was just too much. The Effings are effing bad even in their own effing conference, the Mid-Effing-American.

    In anticipating the Subways would like the 2010 schedule about as much as a sharp poke in the groin, Swarbrick pounced first in an interview by suggesting that many Notre Dame fans weren't "savvy" or "sophisticated." Actually, he didn't just suggest that. He actually used those words. So, now it's war.

    Said OC Domer: "The condescending elitist bullshit attitude get(s) sickening. I think it is reasonable to argue that there is a huge number of accomplished professionals that are on these boards daily who have far more impressive resumes than the douche bag bureaucrats in South Bend."

    Said another: "You shouldn't schedule someone if you don't know what the team's nickname is." (It's Broncos)

    Then they turned really mean.

    The chat room domers were so angry, often excrementally in loud tones, they momentarily forget the unofficial but usually effective ban on spelling Swarbrick's name right. And almost no one had enough emotional energy this week to say that Weis is fat.

    The scheduling fiasco seemed so blatantly insane that it immediately spawned conspiracy theories. The leader? Swarbrick was making the case of how scheduling was so impossible, even for Notre Dame, that the Irish would have to join a conference, the Big 10 most likely. This outcome, like a raging case of crabs, is not favored by the Subways.

    All football powers have rabid fans, but Notre Dame also has a history of fan insurrections that lead to coaching dismissals. They are unforgiving, and they have long memories.

    Previous AD Kevin White was blamed by fans for saddling the school with coaches Bob Davie and Tyrone Willingham. He gave Davie a contract extension and then fired him. He then hired and clumsily fired Willingham. He also hired and then unhired resume fixer George O'Leary. Some of the goofy scheduling quirks now being used by Swarbrick began with White.

    And thereafter, White suddenly decided that working at Duke was his dream job.

    So if Swarbrick announces soon that's he retiring to spend more time with his family, you'll know where his new familial devotion got started. It was Western Effing Michigan.


    David Rutter, the former publisher/editor of the Lake County News-Sun, is the Beachwood's occasional correspondent about all things Notre Dame. Comments are welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:24 AM | Permalink

    October 24, 2009

    The Weekend Desk Report

    By Steve Rhodes

    The Weekend Desk Report staff is on a retreat in an undisclosed location that serves beer. They will return next week.

    The [Friday] Papers
    1. Former Tribune writer John Cook writes it so I don't have to.

    2. They're all coming back from the dead; I guess the zombie trend is for real.

    3. "Where The Wry Things Are." About our very own Mike Knezovich.

    4. The Thirsty Whale Reunion.

    5. "Teens Told To Dress For Success."

    You mean like they do at Google?


    "For the first time, administrators at Evergreen Park Community High School this school year banned colorful hair, such as pink or purple, saying students' hair should look natural, and they stepped up enforcement of a policy banning body piercings."

    Oops, the Trib accidentally published a story from 1978.


    "'We think students should have the same attitude about school as they do about employment,' said Evergreen Park High School District Superintendent M. Elizabeth Hart."

    That it sucks and mediocre managers on power trips will make your life a living hell?


    "Principal Maceo Rainey arrived at Rich Central last school year and, after talking to parents, started pushing students to dress as if they are going to work in an office."

    Like these Apple employees?

    "Rainey instituted what he calls Dress for Success days, where the students are forced to wear business professional attire: button-down shirts and ties for the boys, dressy slacks, skirts and blazers for the girls."

    Hey Rainey, there ain't many jobs left in newsrooms these days . . .


    Man, it's the same bullshit they tried to pull in my day. If it ain't that piece of paper, there's some other choice they're gonna try and make for you. You gotta do what Randall Pink Floyd wants to do man. Let me tell you this, the older you do get the more rules they're gonna try to get you to follow. You just gotta keep livin' man, L-I-V-I-N.

    6. "Daley met with a Bank of America delegation Wednesday, the day he presented the new city budget. The delegation left the mayor's office via a back door to avoid a media stakeout."

    They were all wearing business attire, though.





    7. Just remember: There are two sides to every story.


    The Beachwood Tip Line: L-I-V-I-N.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:09 PM | Permalink

    October 23, 2009

    The [Friday] Papers

    By Steve Rhodes

    1. Former Tribune writer John Cook writes it so I don't have to.

    2. They're all coming back from the dead; I guess the zombie trend is for real.

    3. "Where The Wry Things Are." About our very own Mike Knezovich.

    4. The Thirsty Whale Reunion.

    5. "Teens Told To Dress For Success."

    You mean like they do at Google?


    "For the first time, administrators at Evergreen Park Community High School this school year banned colorful hair, such as pink or purple, saying students' hair should look natural, and they stepped up enforcement of a policy banning body piercings."

    Oops, the Trib accidentally published a story from 1978.


    "'We think students should have the same attitude about school as they do about employment,' said Evergreen Park High School District Superintendent M. Elizabeth Hart."

    That it sucks and mediocre managers on power trips will make your life a living hell?


    "Principal Maceo Rainey arrived at Rich Central last school year and, after talking to parents, started pushing students to dress as if they are going to work in an office."

    Like these Apple employees?

    "Rainey instituted what he calls Dress for Success days, where the students are forced to wear business professional attire: button-down shirts and ties for the boys, dressy slacks, skirts and blazers for the girls."

    Hey Rainey, there ain't many jobs left in newsrooms these days . . .


    Man, it's the same bullshit they tried to pull in my day. If it ain't that piece of paper, there's some other choice they're gonna try and make for you. You gotta do what Randall Pink Floyd wants to do man. Let me tell you this, the older you do get the more rules they're gonna try to get you to follow. You just gotta keep livin' man, L-I-V-I-N.

    6. "Daley met with a Bank of America delegation Wednesday, the day he presented the new city budget. The delegation left the mayor's office via a back door to avoid a media stakeout."

    They were all wearing business attire, though.





    7. Just remember: There are two sides to every story.


    The Beachwood Tip Line: L-I-V-I-N.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:03 AM | Permalink

    The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report

    By Eric Emery

    In my experience, those who seem to be bat shit crazy are often proven to be bat shit crazy (BSC). At first glance, our favorite hoaxers, the Hennes, are mostly likely BSC. You are a prime candidate for BSC when you appear on Wife Swap. If you build balloons in your backyard, you're probably BSC. And when you take acting lessons and pitch your reality show in the hopes that American sees how BSC you actually are, you are 100 percent, Grade A, put it on the boarrrrrrd yes, BSC.

  • Ofman: Chip Caray sucks
  • Luce: Ladies hefty

  • After the Bears lost last week, they are feeling a little BSC themselves. Rather than take responsibility for their untimely penalties and turnovers, the players submitted the following hoax ideas to divert our attention from their own failures.

    * OT Orlando Pace is pictured swimming. Team submits picture as proof of the Loch Ness monster.

    * WRs Johnny Knox and Earl Bennett start a singing group called Milli Vanilli. They are found to be imposters, of course.

    * Bears send e-mails to their next opponent stating that they won $10 million in an Internet Lottery, and that they should submit some small details, such as their name, address, Social Security Number, and upcoming game plan.

    * The Bears start an e-mail chain letter that states the Mayan calendar ends on 2012. Since the Mayans used the same date structure as Europe, the world will end on 20 December. Letter ends by saying that you should send the e-mail to 242 of your friends or you will subject to a Bears loss next week.

    * After having the same hoax pulled on him countless times, Brian Urlacher announces that he is pregnant.

    * The Bears pay Sarah Palin to assert that "not only did dinosaurs and humans walk the earth at the same time, but bears did as well." Consequently, all bears deserve our respect and gratitude."

    * The Bears hire Criss Angel to perform his teleportation trick to always show the Bears ball carrier in the end zone.

    * The Bears keep telling fans that everything is okay, and all is under control.


    Bears at Bengals

    Storyline: Both teams could have one loss. On the flip side, both teams could have one win. Which team will actually show up?

    Reality: I have no fucking idea. When in doubt, take the points.

    Prediction: Bears Plus 1.5 Points, Under 42 Points Scored


    Record: 5-3


    Sugar in the Blue and Orange Kool-Aid: 70%
    Recommended sugar in the Blue and Orange Kool-Aid: 55%


    For more Emery, please see the Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report archives and the Over/Under collection. He welcomes your comments.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:24 AM | Permalink

    The College Football Report

    By Mike Luce

    First off this week, a SI Cover Jinx Update! Here are the updated records - both straight up (SU) and against the spread (ATS) of the four questionably fortunate teams featured on SI's college preview issue:

    - #12 Oregon (5-1 SU, 4-2 ATS)

    - #13 Penn State (6-1 SU, 2-4 ATS)

    - #14 Oklahoma State (5-1 SU, 2-2-1 ATS)

    - Ole Miss (4-2 SU, 3-2 ATS)

    The Report didn't issue any pre-season predictions (for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was being unprepared) so we shouldn't criticize . . . but measured against the pre-season rankings, all but Oregon have had a disappointing go of it.

    Ole Miss (#8), Oklahoma State (#9), and Penn State (#9, in a tie) all appeared in the top ten in the pre-season AP poll, while Oregon debuted in the #16 spot. In looking for a sexy pre-season pick for the championship, SI seems to have singled out the busts. Only two other highly ranked teams flamed out - Oklahoma (due to injuries to QB Sam Bradford) and Ohio State (due to abysmal play by QB Terrelle Pryor, who wishes he had injuries to blame). Then again, if you believe in the SI Cover Jinx (as I do), it didn't matter who Sports Illustrated picked. The poor bastards were cursed from the start.


    This week doesn't offer too many promising games. Let me put it this way: the premiere match-up is BYU-TCU. There you have it - Cougars, Horned Frogs, today on VERSUS. Hoy.

    The following is for entertainment purposes only. Including gambling.

    Game: #13 Penn State (-4.5) @ Michigan (2:30 p.m., Saturday)

    Comment: Yes, I will take the points. Thank you. I might even take the money line on this game.

    At the moment, Michigan is +170. For those of you new to the game, there are usually two options when betting on college football** - the spread or the money line. Betting the money line rewards you for picking an underdog to win (as in this case, where $100 wins $170) and punishes you for backing a favorite in an upset (Penn State is -190, meaning to win $100 you must bet $190). There you go, a new way for you to squander your hard-earned money.


    Game: South Florida @ #20 Pittsburgh (-6.5, 11 a.m., Saturday)

    Comment: I can't believe Dave Wannstedt still coaches the Pittsburgh Panthers. The Panthers found an unexpected offensive leader in sophomore Dion Lewis. Lewis has nearly one thousand yards but should have a tougher time against South Florida's playmakers on defense. If Bulls redshirt QB B.J. Daniels can hold it together (something he failed to do earlier this season against Cincinnati) and keep his team in the game with his feet, the Bulls should cover if not win outright.

    Pittsburgh's moment in the Top 25 will won't outlast Wannie's last Just For Men treatment. I'm taking the Bulls.


    Game: Texas A&M @ #21 Texas Tech (-21.5, 6 p.m., Saturday)

    Comment: Texas Tech has been untouchable (4-0) at home this season. The Aggies arrive at a tipping point in Tech's season: win and remain eligible for an interesting bowl game; lose and accept a bid to something like The Cialis Bathtub Bowl. Who wants to end their season in the 'Tub? I like Tech.


    Game: Vanderbilt @ #23 South Carolina (-12.5, 6 p.m., Saturday)

    Comment: Steve Spurrier gets some sick satisfaction out of reaming Vandy. If the Ol' Ball Coach fails to cover on Saturday, I'll eat my visor.


    **This is not exactly true. You can throw away your money wagering on sports in all manner of ways. Beyond the typical spread, total, and money line bets, exotic options such as teases, parlays, futures, Brent Musburgers, and Asian handicaps offer intriguing means to delay the inevitable.

    CFR Notes
    The Sports Seal couldn't be reached for comment this week. He has been missing in action, having last been spotted cavorting with Blanche, a new arrival in the walrus tank. What can I say? He likes his ladies hefty.

    I did find a scrawled copy of the Thursday sports section. He seems to have circled Mississippi State, Missouri, Hawaii . . . and after spending some time cross-referencing against Saturday's schedule, I can tell you this: he likes the host to cover against every undefeated visiting team. Let's see how that works out.

    Mike "Dr. Dude" Luce brings you The College Football Report in this space twice a week. He welcomes your comments.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:58 AM | Permalink

    10 Of The Prettiest Damn Songs On The Planet

    By Scott Buckner

    I'd be willing to bet that there have been more songs written, for better or worse, since the dawn of man than there are grains of sand on North Avenue beach. That's a lot of sand. And a lot of songs, too. The guys in the original Alice Cooper band were my personal musical heroes during high school, and as much as I still love a good Motley Crue-AC/DC headbanging today, my world still stops whenever I hear a really gorgeous song that has somehow managed at various points during the past 20 or 30 years to lilt its way over all that goddamn racket Angus Young and his brother have been graciously gifting to people just like me.

    I'm a sucker for the pretty song. Not just the nice-enough song, but the song that makes the planet stop turning for that three or four minutes you're listening to it; the completely-pretty song that makes you think this is exactly why someone invented music. And really, the entire human race relies upon songs like these to bring proper perspective, order and balance to the world, especially on those nights when you walk into your neighborhood bar to discover the management is letting that godfuckingawful Black Sabbath/Ozzy Osbourne tribute band play until closing time.

    Still, that's not to say that all pretty songs are nature's gift to the balancing act. Most of us spent the 1970s believing that Janis Ian records were specifically created for people to kill themselves to. Matter of fact, I fully intend to come back and haunt anyone in my family who comes up with the bright idea to play Sara McLaughlin's "I Will Remember You" at my memorial service.

    I was going through my laptop's massive collection of MP3s this evening, so I thought I'd share 10 of the prettiest songs on the planet. This is strictly my personal opinion because, well, there's one particular guy who hangs around my local bar who swears "Fear of the Dark" by Iron Maiden is one of the prettiest damn things he's ever heard.

    Go figure. Taste is often acquired as much as it is dismissed. You be the judge.

    1. Over the Rainbow/Celtic Woman.

    Yeah, this song's been covered a bazillion times just like Louis Armstrong's "What A Wonderful World," but not a capella with four-part harmony by kinda-hot babes in prom dresses that are just old enough to not make you feel like a creepy uncle for staring at them. Mesmerizing. Like angels singing, I tell ya.


    2. What Can I Do (Tin Tin Out/Remix)/The Corrs

    Christ, Susanna Hoffs should have been so lucky. If there was ever another argument to be made for Celtic women to dominate the world so we can love them unconditionally until the stars fall from the sky, these three sisters would be it. As it happens, the littlest one can really play drums. Still, the guitarist brother always seems out of place, kinda like Fred Schneider of the B-52s or Dave Stewart when he was in the Eurythmics.


    3. Baby, Now That I've Found You/Alison Krauss and Union Station

    Alison and the guys who were half-responsible for the O Brother Where Art Thou? soundtrack turn the 1967-68 R&B tune by The Foundations into the one song I'd choose to be stranded on a deserted island with, and Alison Krauss the woman I'd choose to have stranded on a deserted island along with it.


    4. Only Love/Wynonna Judd

    Yeah okay, she'll never be as hot as her mom, and not exactly someone I'd choose to have stranded on an island, but still.


    5. I Need You/LeAnn Rimes

    During the 1990s, she was the original Hannah Montana when the rest of us were just managing to forget Billy Ray Cyrus. In 2001 we found her breaking out into the sexy-ass little homewrecker she is today. It appears that Jesus had an epic TV mini-series that same year, too. I missed it, but I and every other red-blooded hetero breeder with MTV and a spare box of Kleenex didn't miss this video, which has her bursting into flames or having some sort of immaculate conception halfway through. Happily, it's only momentarily distracting.


    6. Amarillo By Morning/George Strait

    Serves as the undisputable truth why God created fiddles, pedal steel guitars, puppy dogs, and Texas. In that order. You'll have to click here to see for yourself because embedding has been disabled.


    7. How Far/Martina McBride

    On one hand, this song is the official soundtrack for anyone whose marriage is disintegrating before their eyes, with some "Eleanor Rigby"-esque strings in the bridge. On the other hand: Oh. My. Fucking. God. That. Voice. (Click here to hear it; embedding disabled.)


    8. I Am A Town/Mary Chapin Carpenter

    "I am Texaco and tobacco, I am dust you leave behind. I am peaches in September, and corn from a roadside stall. I am Pabst Blue Ribbon American, Southern serves the South, I am tucked behind the Jaycees sign along the rural route." Fucking-A, sister. There hasn't been a folkie since Harry Chapin able to pull off a cello accompaniment like this that could make Garrison Keillor want to rip his own heart out.


    9. Samba Pa Ti/Santana

    Carlos Santana is one of the few musical geniuses still left from back in the day when Jimi and Janis were mainlining, which are two - no make that three - reasons enough to support the legalization of marijuana. Prominently features keyboardist Gregg Rolie, who - along with Santana guitarist Neal Schon - was Journey's keyboardist and vocalist before he blew out his voice and Steve Perry showed up. A bitchin'-better version than Jose Feliciano's, which is nice enough, but Jose doesn't quite light my fire like Carlos.


    10. Stay/Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories

    Nine Stories? Who are they - the anonymous maniacs backing Natalie Merchant? No matter. There's something very notable and yet untoward to be said about a hot girl wearing the only pair of glasses ever created that are able to make looking nerdy so, um, hot.

    Oh, yeah - the song's pretty damn good, too.


    Comments and suggestions welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:37 AM | Permalink

    Ofman: Dis and Dat, Dem and Dose

    By George Ofman

    The Broncos are 6-0! Kyle Orton has a higher passer rating than Jay Cutler (100.1 to 86.9), whose Bears are 3-2, has thrown for nine touchdowns and just one interception while Cutler has thrown 10 touchdowns and a whopping seven INTs. Orton has averaged 244 yards per game while Cutler is at 240, his yards per pass are higher (7.55 to 6.98) and they have the same completion percentage. They're just numbers but I thought you'd like to know.


    And Cedric Benson has rushed for 531 yards, which happens to be third best in the league. No doubt, it's the bong. Will you please pass it to Matt Forte and his offensive line?


    Benson said he was disliked by the Bears and dissed when he left. Was that while inhaling or exhaling?


    Would it be wrong to say the NFL's most valuable player as of this moment is Brett Favre? Like him or not, He's been nothing short of spectacular and a game-saver twice. Think the Vikings would be 6-0 without him?


    Gordon Beckham was voted The Sporting News rookie of year by a panel of his peers. The kid didn't play his first game until June 4th, went 0 for his first 13 and still wound up belting 14 homers while driving in 63 runs. I don't think it would be a stretch to say he could reach 25 and 90 by next season. And one day, Beckham should be hitting in the middle of the lineup.


    The Cubs hired hitting guru Rudy Jaramillo to solve their woes at the plate. Alfonso Soriano spent two years with Jaramillo at Texas, where he averaged 33 homers, 97 RBI in 622 at-bats while producing a sickly on-base percentage of .316. During Soriano's first three seasons with the Cubs, he averaged only 503 at-bats and 27 homers, 66 RBI and an OBP of .328. If Soriano averaged the same amount at-bats as he did at Texas, those number would average out to 34 homers and 82 RBI.

    Maybe Jaramillo will help, but doesn't it stand to reason that if Soriano's legs and knees are healthy, he plays more games and stands to be a better player, Jaramillo or not?

    Then again, Soriano will be 34 in January. Age and a heavy wallet can take its toll.


    StubHub recently sent this e-mail; "Be there along side your Chicago Cubs as they chase baseball immortality." Say, is this a joke or a hoax from balloon boy's pappy?

    No, it actually happened. "Go to StubHub, where you'll find a fantastic selection of tickets to every playoff game so you can experience the championship chase live and in person."

    A spokesperson for StubHub claimed it was a glitch and follow up e-mails will be sent.

    The Cubs also plan to send e-mails asking for your patience again while they also kick Milton Bradley's ass out of town.


    I happen to like Chip Caray personally, but his play-by-play is overbearing, disjointed and inaccurate. Did you hear Caray's call of the final play in Game Four? He said of the relay: "Here's the throw to the plate . . . not in time!" Here's the problem; there was no relay throw. Chip has a tendency to call a play before it happens. STOP IT! Thankfully, the NLCS is over and, so too, are Caray's post-season mishaps.


    The Wolves fired head coach Don Granato. Chris Chelios is not a candidate. He just signed a contract as a player while also signing one with Medicare.


    Can someone please get Derrick Rose an ankle replacement already!


    Purdue coach Danny Hope said Illinois might be the most talented team in the Big Ten.


    With that in mind, Ron Zook should be indicted for impersonating a head coach. The fightless Illini are 0-5 against major college opponents but Zook still has four years left on his contract. It's time for the bigwigs in Champaign to consider this important word: payoff.


    After making a trade for a defensive end last week, it's safe to say the Bears Gaines was Gaines loss. (Michael Gaines was let go, get it?) But would Jerry Angelo have gained more by grabbing an offensive lineman instead? I mean, what are you going to do with Frank OhmyGod?


    I'm stunned, appalled and otherwise overwhelmed by the news the Detroit Shock is leaving the sickly motor city for Tulsa. One pertinent question . . . what is the Detroit Shock?


    George Ofman, an original member of The Score and a veteran of NPR, has covered more than 3,500 sporting events over the course of his career. Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:51 AM | Permalink

    Earning Daley's Star

    By The Beachwood Chicago Flag Committee

    Next year Richard M. Daley will celebrate the milestone of serving as our mayor for longer than his father, and in so doing become the longest serving mayor in Chicago history. The crash and burn of the Olympics bid should not deprive him of his right to a legacy. There's still time to secure a place in history other than mere longevity. Ald. Ed Burke thought the Olympics would merit a fifth star on our flag. Here are some suggestions from our crack staff on how Richard II can earn that star all on his own.

    1. One year without a student dying from a handgun blast.

    2. One year in which 90 percent of Chicago high school students graduate.

    3. One year in which 75 percent of Chicago high school students go on to college.

    4. Full funding our city pensions.

    5. A gimmick-free balanced budget.

    6 A net on every basketball hoop in every Chicago park.

    7. A year without a CTA funding crisis AND without a Chicago Park District funding crisis AND without a Chicago Public Schools funding crisis.

    8. Signed contracts with our policemen and firemen.

    9. An entire summer without beach closures.

    10. The highest recycling rates of any major metropolitan city.

    11. Reveal who hired Angelo Torres.

    12. A year with no indictments of City Hall employees.

    13. Put the TIF budget on the books.

    14. Order every city department to comply with the state Freedom of Information Act law. If just for one year just to see how it goes.

    15. Stop accusing political opponents of playing the race card while playing it yourself. If just for one year just to see how it goes.

    16. Tell federal prosecutors everything you know. They might grant you immunity.

    17. Create an economic development policy based on jobs and opportunities for the poor instead of one based on contracts and opportunities for the wealthy and connected. Consider it a new approach to crime and education woes.

    18. Tell Michael Madigan to knock it off.

    19. Grant local reporters actual one-on-one interviews without pre-conditions. And we don't mean TV reporters.

    20. Tell Walmart they are welcome to open a hundred stores in the city as long as they - and every other potential employer - guarantee to behave with a minimal standard of decency.


    Your suggestions welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:16 AM | Permalink

    October 22, 2009

    The [Thursday] Papers

    By Steve Rhodes

    Ugh. I am having a brutal morning. And I know posting has been light this week, but it's gonna keep on being light! At least until tomorrow.

    Here's one funny thing, though: Eric Emery's Over/Under. Recycled Styrofoam peanuts and The Cedric Benson Hoax are involved.

    Otherwise, that's all I've got - at least until I get some coffee and donuts in me.

    I did just hear BGA chief Andy Shaw say on Good Day Chicago that the Reader's Mick Dumke and Ben Joravsky do the best budget reporting in the city, and it's true. Shaw raved about this piece and advised everyone who loves Chicago to read it. Shaw also estimated that half of what we pay in a "corruption tax" would be enough to close the mayor's budget gap.

    Also, save Ooga Booga.


    The Beachwood Tip Line: Here and there.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:20 AM | Permalink


    By Eric Emery

    Obama called for Americans to be responsible. Are we? Here's what I know. About two weeks ago, Time had a special advertising section about responsibility. Liberty Mutual has some tag line about responsibility. NBC got into the act last week where the dude who plays Kenneth on 30 Rock had an animated short about responsibility. To answer my question, I'm not sure if Americans are more responsible, but there sure is an opportunity to make money on it.

    Making money isn't lost on the NFL.The following are some of the upcoming changes to capitalize on the responsibility craze:

    * All cheerleaders are to wear comfortable boots, thick tops, and insulated hats with the silly flaps over the ears. Everybody knows that humans lose most of their heat through the feet, torso, and head.

    * When a running back fakes a defensive player to perfection, the running back is to pick up the defensive player's jock so nobody trips on it later.

    * To prevent hearing loss, NFL referees are to use dog whistles.

    * Plaxico Burress' gun will be replaced with a toy gun that shoots confetti.

    * To help protect QBs, defensive players are allowed to hit QBs in any area above the belt, but below the belly button.

    * All TV announcers are to use supportive words like "good try," "nice effort," and "keep your chin up" while speaking as if they are talking to a newborn.

    * All fields will be replaced by recycled Styrofoam peanut turf.

    * All players get a treat of their choice after the game.

    * Weights in the weight room replaced with comfy, fluffy pillows.

    * Fans pay $5 for parking, $3 for beers, and $1.50 for hot dogs.

    * Frame Matt Forte for a DUI, release him, and have Forte become a starting RB on a different team (a.k.a. The Cedric Benson Hoax).


    OverHyped Game of the Week: Cardinals at Giants

    Storyline: Both QBs are super nice, but only one QB has an attractive wife.

    Reality: When in doubt, pick the hot chick.

    Prediction: Giants Minus 7 Points, Over 46 Points Scored


    UnderHyped Game of the Week: Atlanta at Cowboys

    Storyline: Nobody knows about the attractiveness of Falcons' Matt Ryan's significant other, but Romo dated a super hot gal who cursed him.

    Reality: When in doubt, bet against the bad luck charm even if she isn't around. All the bleach the world never removes the stain.

    Prediction: Falcons Plus 4 Points, Under 47.5 Points Scored


    Last week: 3-1
    Overall: 11-9


    For more Emery, please see the Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report archives and the Over/Under collection. He welcomes your comments.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:34 AM | Permalink

    October 21, 2009

    The [Wednesday] Papers

    By Steve Rhodes

    Here's my favorite part of Lon Monk's plea agreement:

    "Beginning prior to Blagojevich's election as governor in 2002, Defendant had conversations with Blagojevich, Antoin 'Tony' Rezko, and Christopher Kelly individually and collectively about how the four of them could make money from their control over the State of Illinois government. Those conversations included a number of specific ideas for making money, such as through operating businesses that would get state money or receiving fees from people who did business with the state. As a general matter, Rezko was responsible for trying to set up the money-making arrangements and Kelly and Rezko were the most knowledgeable about how the plans would work. Defendant understood that Blagojevich and Defendant would use their power and authority in state government as needed to assist whatever plans Rezko and Kelly put in place to make money. Defendant further understood that he would share in the money that was made, but that those funds would not be disbursed to Blagojevich or Defendant until after they were no longer in government."

    Followed by:

    "Kelly first raised the idea that Blagojevich, Kelly, Defendant, and others could make money from state actions with Defendant prior to Blagojevich's election as governor in 2002. After Blagojevich's election, there were times when Blagojevich, Kelly, Rezko, and Defendant met together to discuss the status of their efforts to make money using their control over the State of Illinois government. At those meetings, Rezko typically led the discussion and would go through the status of different ideas or plans to make money for the four men that involved some kind of state action, although not every plan that Rezko discussed for making money involved state action. As Rezko talked, he indicated how much money the four men could hope to make from the different ideas. The amounts of profits that were associated with the different ideas were typically in the hundreds of thousands of dollars per deal. Defendant understood from those discussions that the profits would be split evenly between Defendant, Blagojevich, Rezko, and Kelly. The discussions involving Defendant, Blagojevich, Rezko, and Kelly about making money from their control over the state government stopped sometime after Defendant and the others learned that Stuart Levine had been confronted by the FBI in the spring of 2004."

    Good times.


    See also:
    - Dominos Falling On Blago

    Chicago's Budget Is So Bad . . .
    How bad is it?

    University Universe
    "Education officials in North Dakota called Friday for an audit on the construction of a house built for the president of North Dakota State University, who resigned last week amid mounting questions about the project's huge cost overrun, to a total of more than $2 million," the New York Times reported on Sunday.

    What does this have to do with us?


    As I've recounted before, it was questions about the renovation of the president's mansion at the University of Minnesota that led those of us at The Minnesota Daily in the 1980s to start pulling on threads that led to multiple scandals that brought down the president - and others.

    (Funny, at the time a U of M vice president had warned his boss that housing renovation scandals had a curious history of bringing down presidents; the story grew beyond that but so it goes too in North Dakota.)

    This is apt, I think, because Richard Herman has finally resigned as the chancellor of the University of Illinois' Urbana-Champaign campus.

    In Herman's case, of course, it was the clout admissions scandal that brought him - and University President B. Joseph White - down.

    There were those along the way who thought - and probably still think - that the admissions scandal was no Big Deal (see item No. 6). Or "overblown nonsense."

    Well, I'm pretty sure that if a University of Minnesota board member had made even a single phone call to clout a kid through the admissions process, we would have been all over it and the board member might very well have been pressured to resign. It's just something you don't do, like plagiarizing your thesis.

    Interesting, too, that the president of North Dakota State is being questioned about a $1.1 million cost overrun. That's just all in a day's work here in Daleyland.

    Big city life, I know. But also a commentary on differing political - and media - cultures.


    Speaking of which . . . Chicagoland is dotted with a lot of little Russias.

    Herman Munster
    By the way, Richard Herman has a doctorate in mathematics. Which just goes to show you that being "smart" has nothing to do with moral character and ethical judgement.


    T-shirt idea: University of Illinois Class Action of '09.

    Ofman: Huet Must Go
    Hawks buzzkill.

    Fantasy Fix
    Galloway, Edelman, Sanchez and Forte.

    More Flights From Pittsburgh


    The Beachwood Tip Line: Branded.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:18 AM | Permalink

    Fantasy Fix

    By Dan O'Shea

    When the New England Patriots picked up wide receiver Joey Galloway for this season, it seemed like he had the potential to be yet another faded veteran revived and deployed to great value by crafty Coach Bill Belichick, With the return of a healthy Tom Brady, Galloway had the speed and the experience to be part of a great three-headed pass-catching monster, along with Randy Moss and Wes Welker. In fact, with Welker injured, Galloway had the potential to be Brady's No. 2 target for at least a few weeks.

    Today's Ofman:
  • Huet Must Go

  • But none of that happened. The Patriots simply chose not to play him, even after he scored on a kickoff return in Week 4 (that made us recommend him as a hot pick-up - oops). It was a very strange demotion, and there has been some speculation that Galloway and Brady just didn't click. In any case, when the Pats scored 59 points in Week 6 on 6 Brady touchdown passes - all without the services of Galloway - the writing was on the wall. New England released Galloway this week, and his departure has the potential to give more playing time to a relative unknown named Julian Edelman, who may have notable fantasy potential if only for his highly rare combination of position eligibilities: QB and WR. So, given the opportunity to drop Galloway and/or pick up Edelman, what should you do?

    Our Fantasy Fix Action Ratings have the answers:

    Player: Joey Galloway, WR
    Comment: You'll see fantasy owners dropping him left and right, but hold on a little longer if you can. Galloway was released before the trading deadline, so it's a good bet he could land with another team. I like his potential to salvage his season if he gets the playing time and the chances.


    Player: Julian Edelman, QB/WR
    Comment: I wouldn't drop Galloway specifically for Edelman, but this could be a nice speculative play for later in the season. Brady may have found his old zone, and that means good things for all his receivers. Plus, in some leagues, you'll get kick-return points from Edelman, and if you're really desperate in a two-QB league, you could slot him there. Might be better than deploying Derek Anderson.


    Player: Zach Miller, TE
    Comment: We haven't talked a lot about TEs this season. Oakland's Miller was one who had potential at the season's opening, but hasn't done much. Then, Week 6 came with 139 yards receiving and 2 TDs, and what should have been happening weeks before is now apparent: Miller is becoming Oakland's most-thrown-to receiver.


    Player: Steven Jackson, RB
    Comment: His 501 rushing yards are good for fourth in the NFL, but no TDs through the first six weeks makes him trade bait for somebody who believes he'll have a strong second half. I think he'll do well the remainder of the season, but trade him for a player who sees the end zone more often, maybe Rashard Mendenhall or Ricky Williams.


    Player: Mark Sanchez, QB
    Comment: The NY Jets started 3-0, but have dropped their last three games, and in Week 6, Sanchez threw five interceptions. After having a fairly stong Week 1, he has had two games of no TDs and multiple INTs, and has failed to pass for more than 172 yards any game in the last five weeks. His chance may soon be over.


    Expert Wire
    * Roto Arcade, like everyone else, is wondering what's wrong with Matt Forte. Twenty-three yards rushing and a lost fumble last week provided only the latest evidence that Forte's playing well under his first-round promise.

    * The New York Daily News sees NY Giants WR Hakeem Nicks among the hot picks. Nicks seemed to get a boost in recent weeks with more teams covering WR Steve Smith heavily, and now fellow WR Mario Mannigham may be injured.

    * The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is the latest to note that Philadelphia has done very little with Michael Vick. This really surprises me, as the Eagles would seem to benefit from some imaginative play-calling with Vick taking snaps, taking hand-offs or just in general giving an opposing defense more to think about.


    Fantasy Basketball
    Last year, I was such a huge fan of Dwight Howard that I probably didn't study the center position as closely as I could have. I managed to draft Howard in all three of my leagues, but his promised improvement in free throw percentage and turnovers never developed and whoever I had as back-ups at the C-spot couldn't pick up the slack in those areas. This year, I'm moving Howard a bit further down on my shopping list. And with the perennial first-round C pick Yao Ming out for the season, here's some new thinking on C rankings:

    1. Amare Stoudemire. We noted in our earlier first-round preview that he's got the center spot all to himself this year.

    2. Chris Bosh. Contract year plus his overall experience mean he's due for a career year.

    3. Al Jefferson. He almost makes the cut as a first-round pick with 23 points-per-game average.

    4. Troy Murphy. Surprisingly good last year with double-double consistency, and averages more than two three-pointers a game.

    5. Dwight Howard. Could very well lead the league in rebounds and blocks, but you have to take a little bad with all that good.

    6. Brook Lopez. Barring a sophomore slump, two blocks per game with 55% field goal shooting and 80% FT is possible.

    7. Pau Gasol. Was great last year and definitely sound, but the Lakers are stuffed with talent, which is bad for fantasy purposes.

    8. Tim Duncan. Still reliable across the board, but blocks have been down three years straight and he's starting to show his age.

    9. David Lee. One of the most exciting and still under-rated scorers at this position. Could take aim at 20 PPG this season.

    10. Al Horford. Narrowly missed averaging a double-double last year, and should get it this year with close to two blocks per game.


    Dan O'Shea's Fantasy Fix appears in this space every Wednesday. Tips, comments, and suggestions are welcome. You can also read his about his split sports fan personality at SwingsBothWays, which isn't about what it sounds like It's about.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:42 AM | Permalink

    Huet Must Go

    By George Ofman

    First and foremost, let me say how much I respect and admire Dale Tallon.

    Second, let me say how he may have gummed up the Blackhawks' chances of winning a Stanley Cup.

    Third, let me state emphatically that Cristobal Huet won't cut it. Not now, not later.

    This is how you get extricated from the job as general manager.

    Sports Illustrated picked the Hawks to meet the Boston Bruins in the Cup finals, but only if it finds another goalie by the trading deadline. Not exactly how you damn with faint praise.

    Huet's four year, $22 million contract was not only excessive, it gave the Hawks two goalies earning a combined income of more than $12 million. Even Warren Buffett wouldn't approve.

    But it also put the Hawks in a trick bag when it comes to the NHL's restrictive salary cap rules. Worse yet, it puts them in the unenviable position of having to work harder when this guy is between the pipes.

    Not the blueprint for sipping from Lord Stanley's rather large urn.

    Last Saturday Huet was booed by the faithful, which is quite something these days since the faithful have become fanatics again and the Blackhawks can barely do anything wrong, save being down 5-nothing in the first period yet rallying for the biggest comeback in team history. Huet was in goal for that game and was yanked after three pucks passed by him.

    His save percentage this season is .844. This is like Alfonso Soriano hitting .185 in the month of August. The word hideous comes to mind. You can use your own adjective.

    Pucks are finding Huet only he's not finding them often enough. This is a major dilemma if you happen to field a hockey team that has aspirations of parading down Michigan Avenue next June.

    Why did the now-deposed Tallon sign the unrestrictive free agent goaltender to a potentially cost-strangling contract? Could it have been too many rounds of golf or did he accidentally hit himself in the noggin with a nine iron?

    Maybe Tallon was enamored of Huet's brilliant effort in 13 games with Washington after Montreal dealt him there in 2008. There was barely a puck he didn't stop. His record was 11-2, including nine straight wins. He allowed only 21 goals and his save percentage was a very robust .936.

    But he was less than mortal in a seven-game playoff series against Philadelphia, in which he yielded 22 goals with a save percentage of .909. The Capitols were out and so was Huet.

    Meanwhile, Tallon didn't think much of Nikolai Khabibuian, who was in the final year of his own megabucks deal. So he lavished Huet with enough money to buy goaltending lessons for life.

    Apparently, Huet passed on the lessons.

    And why did the Canadiens trade Huet? Perhaps they felt he wasn't good enough to win it all.

    Funny thing is, Huet had pretty good credentials.

    He actually led the league in save percentage during the 2005-2006 season, and finished fourth the following campaign. But then the numbers started to grow, which is good for a goal-scorer but not for a goalie. Huet finished 10th in save percentage in the 2007-2008 season.

    Tallon's largesse followed and so did Huet's larger save percentage. It ballooned to 28th and nearly last in the league. The aging Khabibulan was outplaying the suspect Huet and when the playoffs arrived, it was a no-brainer. Khabibulin was named the starter while Huet mostly collected a hefty paycheck.

    And for the soon-to-be jettisoned Tallon, it was a no-brainer to let Khabibulan walk after the Hawks were ousted by the Red Wings in the Western Conference finals, which he did to the frozen output of Edmonton. Tallon had no choice unless he could deal Huet. There may be a sucker born every minute, but not when analyzing Huet and his fat contract.

    Now Huet is dragging the Hawks down. They won't say it but we will. They should have beaten Dallas over the weekend but instead of standing on his head, Huet let his head drift while a few pucks sailed by him.

    The Daily Herald's Tim Sassone, who has chronicled the Hawks soap opera for more than 20 years, suggests one option is to send Huet to the minors. He'll get his dough but it won't count against the salary cap. This may happen, but not in the very near future.

    Meanwhile, Antti Niemi has played well when called upon. But you have to figure if the Hawks are serious about winning the Stanley Cup, they'll search for a solid netminder by the trading deadline in March.

    You can bet John McDonough's bottom dollar on that.


    George Ofman, an original member of The Score and a veteran of NPR, has covered more than 3,500 sporting events over the course of his career. Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:42 AM | Permalink

    October 20, 2009

    The [Tuesday] Papers

    By Steve Rhodes

    "When Wilco's Jeff Tweedy returns home to Chicago, he knows how to charm just about everyone," Michael Roffman and Heather Kaplan write at Consequence of Sound. "If he's not dedicating songs to his wife, Susie, he's throwing out sealed vinyls to thousands of adoring Midwestern fans. But, that's just it. He's got a lot of love for his sacred Windy City and if the scatterbrained, tight as hell opener of 'Via Chicago' - which has drummer Glenn Kotche in a pool of sweat by song's end - doesn't sell this idea, then possibly his smile and way with words does."

    They've got the set list, too, and a nice photo gallery. We've got selected YouTube highlights.


    Greg Kot: Band plays it too tight.

    Bobby Reed: Both jangly and jarring. Wilco played a great set, two strong hours, interspersing some unbelieveable songs and some terrible songs, pretty much one after another.

    I'm shocked, shocked to find the Sun-Times wheeling out this old chestnut for the zillionth time. Coming tomorrow: Make no small plans.


    Unless you are a newspaper editor. Then only make small plans. The last thing you want to do is stir someone's soul.

    Laughing All The Way To The Bank
    Stella Foster makes a Bugs Bunny joke today.


    I must have taken a wrong turn at Albuquerque.

    Talking Points
    "As always, education reporters, do remember to report these events as if they contained real news," Alexander Russo writes at This Week In Education. " References to 'dog and pony show' and use of the words 'spin,' 'propaganda,' 'more hot air' and 'wishful thinking' are generally frowned upon."

    Laugh Track
    "Legislative leaders scoff at the suggestion they control members' votes and argue that lawmakers elected in highly competitive races have more independence because they have to satisfy voters to remain in office rather than please leadership," the Tribune reports. "Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, also maintain that their ability to shift an unrestricted flow of cash to legislative contests is needed to offset the ability of well-funded outsiders to steer a campaign."

    Wait for it.

    Wait for it.

    Wait for it.

    Whew! I couldn't keep a straight face any longer either!


    "If a union gives $100,000 to Madigan and Madigan gives $100,000 to a candidate, it's not $200,000. It's the same $100,000," said Kent Redfield, emeritus political science professor at the University of Illinois Springfield.

    "But now you've got a $100,000 relationship between Madigan and the union and a $100,000 relationship between the speaker and the candidate," he said. "Money comes into the leaders because the leaders want to win elections and win control (of the House or Senate), but also because the leaders control the process."

    Scary Pols Haunt Chicago
    A guided tour.

    Letter From Fenger
    An inside story.

    No Games Cook County
    Tom Tresser's next move.

    Replacing The Olympic Village
    New additions!

    Prairie Style
    "Some have called Iowa's style of play conservative or old-school," our very own Mike Luce writes in The College Football Report. "I prefer boring. I bet Iowa over USC in the 2002 Orange Bowl, having bought into the supposed advantages of 'smashmouth' football. USC rolled the Hawkeyes by three touchdowns and my respect for traditional Big 10 football never recovered.

    "Iowa could potentially go undefeated this season and not play in the BCS title game. That is how little regard the HAL 9000 has for the Big 10 this year."


    The Beachwood Tip Line: Hawk-eyed.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:35 AM | Permalink

    Wilco at UIC

    By The Beachwood Impossible Germany Affairs Desk

    Selected highlights from October 18 and 19.

    1. Wilco will love you, baby.


    2. In a separate stack.


    3. Kiss and ride on the CTA.


    4. Roll another number for the road.


    5. As he takes my last token.


    6. Our love is all of God's money.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:59 AM | Permalink

    The College Football Report

    By Mike Luce

    This week, let's take a look at the follies of the top BCS teams, as ranked in the first poll released by the Bowl Championship Series HAL 9000 on Sunday night. The top teams are, in order: Florida, 'Bama, Texas, Boise, Cincy, Iowa, USC, TCU, LSU, and Miami (FL). (LSU was idle this week.)

    Game: Arkansas 20 @ #1 Florida 23 (-24.5)

    What was supposed to happen? For the first time since the loss to Ole Miss last year, skeptics have begun questioning Florida's spot atop the FBS rankings. With dominant performances by Alabama, some claim Florida might not be the best team in the SEC, much less the nation. The lingering effects of a concussion (or possibly, a new play-it-safe offensive game plan) seemed to limit Florida QB Tim Tebow last week. The Gators hoped to dispel any questions against the high-powered offense of Arkansas.

    Despite putting up some gaudy numbers, the Razorbacks didn't notch a significant win until Week 6 against the then-ranked Auburn Tigers. The game against Florida would show if QB Mallett could make things happen against arguably the best defense in the country.

    What actually happened? I don't know if Tebow still feels a little woozy, but he doesn't seem to play with the same reckless abandon. The box score shows 27 rushing attempts by Tebow, but his longest run only went for 16 yards. Perhaps sensing some vulnerability, Arkansas didn't hesitate to blitz again and again. Typically, Tebow has been able to shrug off would-be tacklers either back in the pocket or down field but he seemed to go down without much of a fight on Saturday.

    Against a team like Arkansas, however, all of this is pretty much a moot point. Florida dominated the game defensively. Had it not been for a case of the dropsies, this game might not have been close. But four times, twice by Tebow, Florida coughed up the ball on fumbles. Statistically, the Gators could have started a serviceable backup and probably would have still won the game. . . so the white elephant is officially in the room.


    Game: #22 South Carolina 6 @ #2 Alabama 20 (-18)

    What was supposed to happen? Steve Spurrier hadn't won a big game at South Carolina against a top-ranked opponent before this season. But after upsetting Ole Miss, the monkey was off his back. Even so, beating Alabama at Bryant-Denny Stadium could be too tall an order.

    'Bama boasts a balanced offense and an imposing defense. While QB McElroy won't go into the Hall of Fame, he does enough to help his team win. The Tide can also trot out quality players from a deep bench.

    What actually happened? 'Bama RB Mark Ingram racked up 246 (!) yards against South Carolina - the third highest total in Alabama history. After only seven games into his sophomore season, Ingram is already poised to break the thousand yard mark. If Ingram is any indication, the 2008 class at Alabama could be causing havoc in the SEC for years.

    I think Nick Saban might have figured this whole "recruiting" thing out.

    While Florida surrendered the overall top spot in the AP poll on Sunday night, the Gators lead Alabama by a surprisingly large margin in the BCS. Florida only has one tough game left - on the road at South Carolina - while 'Bama must still play LSU and end the regular season in the Iron Bowl against Auburn. Everyone assumes the Tide and Gators will meet in the SEC championship game, but I think it's too early yet to assume either team will make it. A safe bet? Probably. A sure thing? No.


    Game: #20 Oklahoma 13 @ #3 Texas 16 (-3)

    What was supposed to happen? The Red River Rivalry (no comment, let's move on) should have been the premiere game of the day. This one had it all: bitter rivals, a neutral field, BCS implications, Bevo, you name it.

    What actually happened? Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford aggravated his right shoulder injury in the first quarter, and any hope of an interesting game went right out the window. The NCAA may need to start paying attention to these pile-driver hits QB are sustaining from defensive linemen. Tackles and ends often push the 300-lb mark, and with that much weight driving a QB to the ground, an awkward landing can result in serious injury. In fact, I don't know how you can land anything but awkwardly in that scenario.

    Looking ahead, Texas still must clear several hurdles to remain in contention for the BCS title. The Horns must face Oklahoma State and Kansas, and I would be surprised if they beat both teams. Further, Oklahoma State has yet to lose a Big 12 game either, and could nab UT's spot in the conference championship with a head-to-head win. Let's just say for a team ranked third in the BCS poll, I don't feel good about the Longhorns' chances.


    Game: #4 Virginia Tech 23 (-3.5) @ #19 Georgia Tech 28

    What was supposed to happen? A number of preview shows and columns picked the Yellow Jackets to win outright. Heck, even here at the Report, we made a passing reference to the potential upset in this game. With a win, Va Tech would have appeared near the top of the BCS pile.

    What actually happened? The blasphemy was true! (The best kind.) Virginia Tech might be overrated! The BCS poll would have us believe that neither team will factor into the championship game, but the ACC race is wide open . . .


    Game: #5 Boise State 28 (-9.5) @ Tulsa 21

    What was supposed to happen? Everyone would like Boise to either: a) lose or b) blow everyone out.

    What actually happened? This type of result confuses me, and drives the voters crazy. Is Boise for real? What if Boise goes unbeaten and Oregon wins out? Do the Broncos merit that much more attention . . . ?

    Boise actually falls on both sides of a key argument about strength of schedule and the importance of winning key games: in Week 1, Oregon was highly ranked and the Boise win was viewed as a bit of an upset. (Although the Broncos were favored by three at home.) Weeks later, as Oregon continues to win, Boise's victory looks better and better. Some believe the rank of the team when you beat them should matter most; others feel that you can only measure a win's merits as the season progresses. (Incidentally, Oregon embodies the "lose early" phenomenon we discussed weeks ago.)

    As for me, I think we should wait another two weeks. Let's see if Oregon survives USC. If so, let's talk. If not . . .


    Game: #6 USC 34 (-10) @ #25 Notre Dame

    What was supposed to happen? What the hell do you think was supposed to happen?!? It's USC-Notre Dame!! The Irish haven't been the Trojans in like 72 years!

    What actually happened? Okay, USC won. But here's what really happened, and why rookie QBs shouldn't be trusted with your money: Southern Cal threw an interception with 11 minutes remaining, leading to an ND touchdown. Poof. There goes the cover.

    I don't want to hear anything about Clausen for Heisman either. The refs awarded him a "do over" at the goal line with one second remaining, and the guy still couldn't get it done.

    In the BCS standings, USC is currently looking up at Iowa and Cincinnati. (Let's just hope the Hawkeyes and Bearcats remembered their underwear.) I get the sense Pete Carroll & Co. are happy to wait until both teams (and possibly others further ahead) inevitably self-destruct.

    Best comment of the ESPN roundtable discussion on the BCS rankings goes to Brent Musburger, on the impact of USC's loss to Washington earlier this season: "I'm not a computer, but that's a bad loss!"


    Game: #7 Ohio State 18 (-14) @ Purdue 26

    What was supposed to happen?
    The mighty Buckeyes were supposed to saunter into West Lafayette, smack around the Boilermakers for awhile, and call it a day.

    What actually happened? What an embarrassment. I think we should rescind OSU's right to a Top 10 ranking indefinitely. At least until they can prove they will stop wasting our time.


    Game: #8 Cincinnati 34 (-2.5) @ #21 South Florida 17

    What was supposed to happen? Let's just say Cincinnati has our attention.

    What actually happened? Dammit, Bearcat QB Pike suffered yet another injury. Nobody landed on him, he just came down awkwardly all on his own. While his backup looked capable, I think the clock is approaching midnight for UC.


    Game: #9 Miami (FL) 27 (-13) @ UCF 7

    What was supposed to happen? I'm not really sure. Aren't the Hurricanes dreamy, though?

    What actually happened? Some have projected Miami, who will have a very tough time advancing much further past #10 in the BCS, to play Ohio State in the Orange Bowl. We can only hope.


    Game: #11 Iowa 20 @ Wisconsin 10 (-1.5)

    What was supposed to happen? Wisconsin was favored to win this game. Over the #11 team in the country. The Big 10 makes no sense whatsoever.

    What actually happened? Some have called Iowa's style of play conservative or old-school. I prefer boring. I bet Iowa over USC in the 2002 Orange Bowl, having bought into the supposed advantages of "smashmouth" football. USC rolled the Hawkeyes by three touchdowns and my respect for traditional Big 10 football never recovered.

    Iowa could potentially go undefeated this season and not play in the BCS title game. That is how little regard the HAL 9000 has for the Big 10 this year.


    Game: Colorado State 6 @ #12 TCU 44 (-22.5)

    What was supposed to happen? Maybe the only true "lock" of the weekend, TCU was expected to pummel CSU.

    What actually happened? Sure enough! Some things can still be relied upon in this world. How comforting.

    At present, Texas Christian clings to the eighth spot in the BCS poll. If TCU can just survive against BYU and Utah, they should be in. (As an at-large team, anyhow.) And then we can all giggle for weeks during the build-up to the BCS bowls every time someone says "Horned Frogs."


    Mike "Dr. Dude" Luce brings you The College Football Report in this space twice a week. He welcomes your comments.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:38 AM | Permalink

    October 19, 2009

    The [Monday] Papers

    By Steve Rhodes

    Ofman: "The Bears' offensive line was exposed as a threat to its own quarterback who, by the way, is starting to make we wonder whether he shares a tiny bit of DNA with Rex Grossman."

    Coffman: "We'll still be hoping for more as we go forward, but considering the fact that the Bears had no running game whatsoever, it was a decent day for the signal-caller."

    CeaseFire Wire
    The Tribune on Sunday promoted on its front page an editorial inside the paper claiming that the anti-violence program CeaseFire was now an indisputable success and, in fact, the answer to the violence raging through the city.

    Wow! I thought. Did a new study come out or something? How did CeaseFire suddenly become so proven?

    It hasn't.

    The Trib relies on the same 2008 study by Northwestern University's Wesley Skogan that so many commentators jumped on without reading.

    In short, CeaseFire is largely a bunch of hooey.

    Shortly after the Northwestern study came out, Tracy Jake Siska of the Chicago Justice Project wrote a four-part series examining CeaseFire. He looked at Skogan's report as well as a state audit of the program and came to a very different conclusion than the one shopped around by CeaseFire advocates and its media enablers.

    One installment of his series was called "CeaseFire as an Irresistibly Delicious Story!"

    You might say that CeaseFire is this decade's DARE. The media loved the narrative of DARE. Politicians loved touting DARE. The public lapped up DARE. Law enforcement wedged every budget request they could think of into a DARE grant, no matter how far from drug education it was. The only problem was that nearly every independent study ever done showed that DARE didn't work. At all. Nada.

    How long, O Lord, how long until we learn?

    If DARE/CeaseFire/the Olympics says they love you, check it out.


    The hype about DARE simply defied common sense. Stickers and t-shirts do not prevent drug abuse. And police officers visiting classrooms may - briefly - reinforce an anti-drug message among those least likely to use drugs in the first place, but it was never going to do anything for the most vulnerable kids likely to shrug off - if not laugh at - corny slogans. Beyond that, DARE failed to take into account the fundamentals about what leads young people to abuse drugs. It's not just a matter of bucking up, resisting peer pressure and showing some will power.

    The studies showed time and again that DARE didn't work, but you could never tell an editor that. It was like questioning mother and apple pie. I was at the Tribune in the early 1990s when another reporter asked me to help her on a story about a study of studies showing that DARE did not work; she didn't really need my help doing the reporting, but she wanted my help getting the story into the paper.

    That says a lot right there.

    And you know what? We got that story into the paper, but it wasn't easy. (The editor who handled the piece is - ta-da! - on the Trib editorial board today.)

    There are certain things editors believe regardless of what the facts show. That hosting the Olympics is good for economic development, for example. DARE has now finally been discredited; in 2001 the U.S. Surgeon General finally declared that the program didn't work. In some case, several studies found, the program even backfired.

    DARE was a total waste of our time, money and energy.

    But does anyone learn any lessons? No. It's now a cliche to cite the nostrum that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. The legacy media is beyond insane, though; it doesn't expect different results because it never acknowledges that it keeps bungling nearly everything it touches.

    So when the Tribune writes that "the statistical evidence that CeaseFire can make a substantial difference in violence is beyond dispute," know that that simply isn't true.

    "The scientific validity of the results of the Northwestern study leaves much to be desired," Siska wrote in the summer of 2008.

    He's certainly not alone. CeaseFire still has its critics, clinging hopelessly to facts while marginalized as whiners and miscreants by the media just like those against the Olympics had nothing but the facts on their side. Or those who dared to question DARE. What trees do we plant? Trees made of facts, that's all.

    The media prefers feelings. CeaseFire feels right.

    Now, this is not to say that CeaseFire never prevented a murder. I bet it probably did. And it's not to say that something like CeaseFire can't be a piece of the puzzle.

    But CeaseFire is far from proven.

    And even if CeaseFire is worthy, it's management might not be.

    "It is clear from the [state] audit that Ceasefire played fast and loose with the State's money," Siska writes, "and failed to live up to its responsibilities under the contractual agreements it entered into with the various state agencies."

    The Tribune reported that the audit showed CeaseFire mismanaged millions of dollars. Millions.


    Oh, by the way, did you know that Arne Duncan turned Chicago's schools around? Until he didn't.


    Tip for the kids out there: When conducting an interview, always be asking in the back of your mind, "Why is this bastard lying to me?"


    "The major problem with such mediocre social science research is that it is usually done in conjunction with an agenda and released to the media as if it is gospel," Siska also wrote last summer. "Suffice it to say, Eric Zorn from the Tribune and Alex Kotlowitz from Northwestern who authored an article in the New York Times Magazine swallowed deeply when it came to the findings of this Evaluation without ever questioning the methodology or the results."


    The Tribune editorial notes that programs have come and gone. Each ballyhooed as the answer. Why does it think this one will be any different?

    Even worse is the Trib's acknowledgement that CeaseFire doesn't address the root causes of (urban, poor) violence.

    Like I said, interventions that can stop a shooting tonight are essential. Let's go for it. But let's make sure they actually work - and let's not forget that they aren't a solution.


    Gary Slutkin's campaign contributions through July 2008.

    Clout List Confidential
    The shadow governments of Ryan, Blago and Daley.

    Reformer in the Race . . .
    . . . to assess your taxes.

    School Violence Report

    Behind Those $533,000 Stimulus Jobs
    Worst program ever?

    Cab #202 . . .
    . . . loves you. And has the munchies.


    The Beachwood Tip Line: Fire away.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:48 AM | Permalink


    By Jim Coffman

    He almost pulled it off.

    Jay Cutler almost overcame a second 10-yard penalty and a false start thrown in for good measure on the Bears' final drive Sunday night. But yet another penalty (a false start by Orlando Pace off all people - come on Mr. Future Hall-of-Famer!) turned out to be a hurdle too high. The Bears couldn't quite tie it back up in the end, losing to the Falcons to fall to 3-2 on the season.

  • Our Dumb Bears

  • Up until the final 10 minutes, it was an uneven day for the franchise QB. There was some good stuff early but then a couple interceptions that were completely his fault. Even though Cutler made a few good throws while back-pedaling during the first quarter of the season (including the fourth-quarter, game-tying touchdown to Johnny Knox against Pittsburgh), you still hate to see him do it. And sure enough, during the Bears' first foray into the red zone, Cutler was headed back, back, back until he tried to zip a pass in front of Devin Hester. But Cutler failed to account for the safety who came up and grabbed the pick.

    (Hester had a half-dozen Hester moments, good and bad, later on. On the plus side, he looked like he might break a couple punt returns and hauled in several big catches. As for the minus, he failed to power through a defensive back's chuck and gave up on a route when Cutler was busy throwing him a chance to go up and make a top receiver play. And he failed to even see another pass headed his direction deep down the sideline.)

    When Cutler threw that second interception shortly thereafter, I must admit I had my first-ever twinge of doubt about the whole thing. I don't know what it was about that badly overthrown pass to Greg Olsen but it touched off a bit of apocalyptic thinking (this guy Cutler isn't nearly as good as everyone thought he was . . . that sort of thing). It was such a bad play and even though Olsen made a clutch tackle to prevent a potentially big return, it was still such a turning point. Sure enough, the Falcons immediately drove down and scored. And after kicking the extra point, the home team would never trail again. The other primary play that turned the game the Falcons' direction in the first half was Lance Briggs' failure to recover that Michael Turner fumble. And that brings us to:

    Notes On The Telecast
    As usual, play-by-play man Al Michaels and analyst Chris Collinsworth were on target with a great deal of clever insight all game long. But on the play in question, they were too busy gushing about the perfect Pisa Tinoisamoa tackle that forced the fumble. And it was a beautiful hit, similar to one Tinoisamoa delivered early on during the Bears' opener in Green Bay. Unfortunately, both hits were followed quickly by the strong side linebacker exiting the games with leg injuries. Tinoisamoa may be one of those guys, like former Bear safety Mike Brown, who aren't quite big enough or fast enough to avoid getting hurt too frequently to be there consistently for their team in the ultra-physical NFL.

    Anyway, Turner fumbled and there was Briggs with the ball at his feet. A potential killer turnover was there for the taking for a squad that had already jumped on top of the home team and could have been on the verge of going up by two scores. The Bears apparently teach their players to try to pick up balls in these sorts of situations in the hopes of kicking off a big return. But doing that, rather than just falling on the ball, made a lot more sense when the Bears didn't have Cutler. Sure enough, Briggs ended up sweeping the ball into the Falcon backfield, where quarterback Matt Ryan fell on it. At this point there is no pressure for the Bear defense to score . . . in these sorts of situations, guys should just fall on the ball.

    Back To The Quarterback
    In the end, Cutler came back and played beautifully during the Bears' last two drives. Here were the downfield throws we knew he had in him. The long pass to Hester, the long pass to Olsen, the toss to Bennett down the seam that turned a seemingly impossible third-and-26 into an ever-so-makeable fourth-and-one (before Pace's penalty). Cutler also appeared to intentionally underthrow a few other passes that led to big interference calls against the defense. And he even scrambled for 30 yards. We'll still be hoping for more as we go forward, but considering the fact that the Bears had no running game whatsoever, it was a decent day for the signal-caller.

    Game Notes
    * Eric Weems' 60-plus yard kickoff return in the fourth quarter was a killer. Atlanta won the special teams battle with that play alone, but the Falcons were better in a variety of ways. From better punts to a couple other solid returns to good coverage capped off by the fourth-quarter tackling of Johnny Knox on his 11 after an ill-advised decision to bring a high and deep kick-off out of several yards deep in the end zone, Atlanta was the better special team.

    * I thought Cubs catcher Geo Soto would go down as the Chicago athlete who suffered through the most severe sophomore slump in 2009, but if Matt Forte doesn't get his act together, he'll give Soto a run for his money. Forte's sluggish running is bad enough but two fumbles on two carries inside the five? Yikes.

    * What is up with Bear defensive backs failing to put the ball away after making picks? Twice they fumbled after interceptions, but fortunately both times the Bears recovered. In particular, Danieal Manning's recovery of Zack Bowman's fumble, a recovery in which a huge Atlanta offensive lineman was poised to fall on the ball before Manning zipped his hand in under him and stole it, was impressive.

    * There wasn't much of a Bear pass rush, but I think that was almost by design, or at least, the Bears didn't make hitting Matt Ryan their primary priority. Instead they made sure they almost always had plenty of people back in coverage. And it was effective. Ryan never completely settled into a groove and made numerous ill-advised throws. If the Bears hold Weems to just a routine return on Atlanta's last possession, I'll bet the defense forces one last punt and a field goal would have done the trick, just like against the Steelers.


    Jim Coffman rounds up the sports weekend in this space every Monday. He welcomes your comments.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:07 AM | Permalink

    The Bears Dumb One Down

    By George Ofman

    How do I hate thee, let me count the ways.

    How about two interceptions, back-to-back fumbles by the same guy, offensive linemen who can't count and block, special teams that can't tackle, an invisible pass rush, defenders who fall on fumbles, too many men on the field, coaches who were clueless . . .

    And the Bears still could have won the game.

    We had to wait two weeks for this?

    The Bears looked confused, check that . . . dumb! It's hard to fathom a team that fancies itself a playoff contender could perform this poorly. But this franchise has a history of playing some mighty bad games. This was one of them.

    Ignore the score. It's meaningless. The fact the Bears sat on the doorstep of tying the Falcons in the last minute was erased by one of the myriad mistakes that plagued them throughout.

    Please tell me Orlando Pace didn't do what he did on third-and-one at the five.

    Please tell me Matt Forte didn't fumble on the one-yard line after fumbling the previous play.

    Please tell me Jay Cutler wasn't intercepted at the nine.

    The next time the Bears enter the red zone, they should be kicked out.

    And Frank Ohmygod! Where did Jerry Angelo unearth this dinosaur?

    Somewhere, Josh Beekman is wondering when someone will remove the mothballs from his shoulder pads.

    The Bears' offensive line was exposed as a threat to its own quarterback who, by the way, is starting to make we wonder whether he shares a tiny bit of DNA with Rex Grossman.

    And to think, Jerry Angelo just traded for a defensive end.

    How about netting a defensive tackle? Somebody alert Tommie Harris he soon could be arrested for stealing money.

    Oh yes, I almost forgot. Twelve players on the field for a punt return? A punt return!

    Matt Forte managed just 23 yards on 15 carries. Was he bad? Well, did you see the line that attempted to block for him? Forget the bus,Lovie. The Bears now come off a Mini Cooper running. Forte is either a step slow or his line two steps slower. Maybe it's both.

    Most of what transpired in Atlanta last night had to do with an offense which was supposed produce enough points to cushion what is a shaky secondary. Other than the 48 they posted against laughable Lions, the Bears have averaged a measly 17.75 in splitting the other four games. And while Cutler made two bad plays, two really bad plays, he also made enough good ones to bail out his teammates. With the Bears trailing 14-7, Cutler made a gutsy run of 30 yards from his own 10. He also threw a 41-yard pass to Greg Olsen, who was located as a result of some good work by the missing person's department. Olsen caught the touchdown pass to tie it.

    Then came a not-so-special teams play. A 62-yard kickoff return by Eric Weems was shades of last year's debacle in the Georgia Dome when the Bears took the lead with 11 seconds left only to lose on an ill-advised squib kick, a 26-yard pass by Matt Ryan and Jason Elam's game-winning field goal.

    The Falcons needed only seven more plays to take the lead.

    Cutler also deserved a better fate on the final drive. But a sack and two unconscionable false starts left the Bears doomed in the dome again.

    Forgive me but I'm doing some math here. The Bears are 3-2. The Vikings are 6-0. Winning the division might be a stretch. Four other teams in the NFC are 3-2 while the Falcons are 4-1 and trailing the division-leading Saints, who pulverized the previously unbeaten Giants. Next week the Bears play at Cincinnati, where the 4-2 Bengals were humbled by Houston. I'm thinking this is an almost must-win game.

    If the Bears play like they did last night, must win games just might become commonplace.


    George Ofman, an original member of The Score and a veteran of NPR, has covered more than 3,500 sporting events over the course of his career. Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:41 AM | Permalink

    Behind Those $533,000 Stimulus Jobs

    By Christopher Flavelle/ProPublica

    On Thursday, the government released a flood of data about the stimulus, showing how 9,000 federal contractors spent their stimulus dollars - including the value of the contract, each project's status, and how much each of the contractor's five highest-paid officers were paid.

    But when it came to presenting that data,, the government's official site for stimulus information, highlighted one number in particular, posting it on the site's main page in large font: "JOBS CREATED/SAVED AS REPORTED BY FEDERAL CONTRACT RECIPIENTS: 30,383." To make extra certain of getting viewers' attention, the number itself appears in bright green.

    As the economy continues to shed jobs, it's easy to see why the administration is keen to highlight the number of jobs created by the stimulus. When the numbers were released, Jared Bernstein, the administration's chief economist, said the job count "exceeds our projections," adding that it supported the conclusion "that the Recovery Act did indeed create or save about 1 million jobs in its first seven months."

    But do the 30,000 jobs represent a good return? And since the federal contracts for which data was reported this week represent just a sliver of the overall stimulus package, what do they really say about the impact of the stimulus as a whole?

    Let's start with the 30,000 jobs themselves. The federal contracts in question represented $16 billion in stimulus spending. Assuming the number of created or saved jobs reported by each contract recipient was accurate - which, as we've reported before, is still an open question - that breaks down to $533,000 for each job. That's more than five times the projection of the president's own Council of Economic Advisers, which estimated in May that every $92,136 in government spending would create one job for one year.

    Five hundred thousand dollars per job might sound like a lot of money, but wait: The data released this week covers only the jobs directly created by federal stimulus money so far. It doesn't cover indirect jobs - the people who make the materials that contractors need to complete their project, or make the sandwich when a construction worker buys lunch from the proverbial roadside diner.

    So, if the $16 billion in federal stimulus contracts generated 30,383 direct jobs, how many indirect jobs were created or saved? We asked the White House, which told us they believe that for each direct job created or saved, there is one indirect job. Assuming that's right, that $16 billion created or saved some 60,000 jobs - which still clocks in at $267,000 per person.

    What about the second question - the relationship between the 30,000 direct jobs reportedly created or saved by that $16 billion, and the job impact of the stimulus as a whole? We asked the White House for the logic behind Bernstein's statement that this week's numbers "point to the conclusion that the Recovery Act did indeed create or save about 1 million jobs in its first seven months."

    Their response: Because the $16 billion in federal contracts represents about 5 percent of the $339 billion spent so far, they multiplied the 30,000 jobs by 20. The result is 600,000 direct jobs; and, relying again on the assumption that each direct job produces one indirect job, the White House doubled that number to 1.2 million.

    Of course, that assumes that for every part of the stimulus will have roughly the same job-creating impact as federal contracts. That's contradicted by the Council of Economic Advisers' own report, which said that while every $92,136 in government spending creates one job for one year, it takes $145,351 in tax cuts to achieve the same result. As much as 28 percent of the stimulus is going to tax cuts; if the Council's estimates are right, then the White House's assertion - that every part of the stimulus will produce the same job impact as federal contracts - starts to look a little less certain.

    The bottom line, it seems, is that knowing for certain how many jobs the stimulus is producing remains, for now, as tricky as ever.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:38 AM | Permalink

    Cab #202

    Date: 10/10/09
    From: Roscoe Village
    To: West Ridge

    The Cab: To be blunt, there's a chronic smell that perfectly suits the grass green interior. You can pot your feet up and toke it easy; you know, hash a good time. No wonder the availability roof light flickers; it's mood lighting.

    The Driver: Oh, man, dude, seriously, dude, this guy is, like, the nicest guy EVER. He's so, like, smiley, like, you totally can't believe it, he's just, like, he loves you, guys. He seriously does. And he's also, like, kind of hungry.

    The Driving: Warning - objects in the windshield may be much closer, and significantly less groovy, than they appear to the driver, which might cause him to harsh the brake's buzz on a somewhat routine basis. Calm down, take a deep breath, maybe hold it for a while. You'll be just fine.

    Overall Rating: 2.5 arms. Holy shit, you guys!!! Half an arm!!! That's CRAZY!!!

    - Natasha Julius

    There are more than 6,000 cabs in the city of Chicago. We intend to review every one of them.

    Posted by Natasha Julius at 12:44 AM | Permalink

    October 17, 2009

    The Weekend Desk Report

    By Natasha Julius

    You don't need any saucy tweets to know we're working our pants off for you.

    Market Update
    If you're looking for a quick flip in the next ten months or so, Relics are about to go through the roof.

    Stone Cold
    The Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Geneva reached a milestone this week, as the massive structure reached its operating temperature of just 1.9 Kelvin. Hovering just above Absolute Zero, the LHC is officially colder than anything except, of course, Urban Meyer's cold, dead heart.

    No Such Thing . . .
    In other news, duh.

    Splash and Flash
    In an effort to draw attention to the fate of their low-lying island nation, the Maldives cabinet this week staged a meeting under water. Not to be outdone, the three-headed leader of another island nation announced they will hold their upcoming summit meeting at the bottom of a fiery lake with controversial celebrity guests and twice the normal attendants to draw attention to their own fabulousness.

    Take on Peace
    Finally this week, while American society has absorbed the shock of last week's announcement in Oslo, the same cannot be said for the nation that hosts the Peace Prize committee. Many believe the fallout now has rent the very fabric of Norway's most venerable cultural institution.

    Posted by Natasha Julius at 9:18 AM | Permalink

    October 16, 2009

    The [Friday] Papers

    By Steve Rhodes

    A lot of folks in Sun-Times's story today about the Blagojevich patronage machine are calling the clout lists the paper's reporters got their hands on nonsense.

    And in many cases that might be true. It's not always clear how someone's name ends up on these lists - though, curiously enough, it's always the same people whose names you find when these lists emerge into public view.

    But even I'm willing to grant some benefit of the doubt until or unless we know exactly who recommended whom for jobs and why. In many cases the Sun-Times reports on just that. Other cases are less clear.

    On the other hand, in many cases I'm going to presume guilty into proven innocent. These are those cases - and you'll see why:

    * "[Ed] Burke didn't respond to a request for comment."

    * "[Cheryle] Jackson's press secretary did not respond when asked for a comment."

    * "[Former state Rep. Calvin] Giles, a current state employee, didn't return a message left at his office."

    * "[Dick] Mell didn't respond to an interview request."

    Guilty! Guilty! Guilty! Guilty!


    My favorite:

    "Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Cheryle Jackson, former communications director for Blagojevich. She is listed as having secured a deputy directorship for her husband, Charles Jackson, with the Department of Public Health in April 2003. Jackson's press secretary did not respond when asked for comment."


    Funny how dramatically the tone of the reporting shifts when it comes to the jobs Barack Obama sought from the Blagojevich administration. Everything sounds so ominous in the main story, but in the Obama sidebar we are repeatedly assured that there was no wrongdoing and, you know, everyone does it.

    Text of the Day
    From Texts From Last Night:

    (917): half the nation just spent an hour watching a balloon fly around. we are officially the dumbest fucking country.

    This one was also good:

    (778): some girl in front of me in class just googled "hungover+throwing up blood"

    Facebook Feed
    "Matt Farmer has dropped out of the group of investors attempting to buy Rush Limbaugh."

    State of Play
    "Report: Majority Of Newspapers Now Purchased By Kidnappers To Prove Date."

    "CNN admits commentator has insurance industry ties."

    Maybe the FTC will turn its attention to the mainstream media when it's done cleaning up the blogosphere.


    And it's not like I support blogola in any way, but this is a bit more of a problem.

    ID IQ
    Agreed. There's a difference between identity theft and getting your wallet stolen.


    "Sanitation expert and a maintenance engineer . . . "

    Dunking Duncan, Daley
    "In a surprising about-face, Chicago schools chief Ron Huberman announced yesterday afternoon that students attending Fenger high school on Chicago's far South Side would be allowed to transfer back to schools closer to home rather than continuing to attend Fenger, the scene of neighborhood conflicts and recent violence," Alexander Russo writes at This Week in Education.

    "Last week as you may recall, former Chicago schools chief Arne Duncan vigorously denied that changes in attendance areas were to blame for the increased youth violence in Chicago and specifically the death of Darrion Albert, the honors student who was murdered after school in September. The Mayor derided the notion of making changes that would conform to gang or neighborhood boundaries."


    The funny thing is that by continuing to refuse to re-draw outdated beat boundaries, Daley also refuses to let gangs determine policing boundaries.

    State Street To K Street
    Axelrod's old firm spreads its evil.

    Daley's Tax Game
    Don't read his lips; watch his hands.

    Naperville Held Hostage
    Day 9.

    If Rush Limbaugh Owned The Bears
    In The Blue And Orange Kool-Aid Report.

    Taking The Sixth
    Beachwood legal correspondent Sam Singer examines Padilla vs. Kentucky.

    Cab #240
    "We should have known we were in trouble," our very own Ivana Susic writes in our latest taxi cab review. "The gold jacket and leopard-print denim pants should have given it away. We apparently caught her during lunch as she was working on a tuna sandwich and chips. She had a Jamaican accent, but while she was kicking us out of the cab, it sounded suspiciously less Jamaican."

    Open Books . . .
    . . . opens a store.

    Accident Update
    Most members of the Scotland Yard Gospel Choir have health insurance - but they don't have instrument insurance.

    The Nerfing of America
    In The College Football Report.

    Rush Limbaugh, Terrell Owens and Milton Bradley . . .
    . . . walk into a bar.

    Illinois Online
    The new old wagering.


    The Beachwood Tip Line: Over/under the counter.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:35 AM | Permalink

    The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report

    By Eric Emery

    Last week, a group including conservative columnist Rush Limbaugh, announced their intention to by the St. Louis Rams. The Chicago Bears management was surprised by the announcement; mostly because they had no idea conservatism was so profitable. After this epiphany, the Bears turned to more conservative practices, such as:

    Beachwood Sports:
  • Ofman: Dis and Dat
  • TrackNotes: Illinois Online
  • The College Football Report

  • Change: Pay structure change to "Cutlernomics."

    Result: Bears pay Jay Cutler $90 million a year, and Cutler pays the rest of the team as he sees fit.


    Change: A new Bears social program called "Urlacher Works."

    Result: Those deadbeat kids work around the house. No more free handouts.


    Change: "Adamstinence" programs.

    Result: DT Anthony Adams teaches Brian Urlacher about abstinence, instead of handing him a condom.


    Change: Capital "Gaines" Tax.

    Result: Instead of paying income tax, all Bears players pay a 15 percent tax to TE Michael Gaines.


    Change: Soften environmental controls.

    Result: Ten percent of the Gatorade made using yesterday's whirlpool water.


    Change: Support of Second Amendment rights.

    Result: Bears re-acquire Tank Johnson.


    Change: The Smith Doctrine.

    Result: Just in case he is threatened during the game, head coach Lovie Smith is allowed to kick the opposing coach in the nuts anytime before the game.


    Change: The Patriot Act.

    Result: Bears scouts allowed to intercept the opposing team's sideline-to-QB communications.


    Change: Enemy Combatants.

    Result: All opposing players called for holding will be held on sideline for an indefinite amount of time, without access to representation.


    Change: School Vouchers.

    Result: Players receiving vouchers can skip meetings involving the underperforming defensive line and go to the well-performing QB meetings instead.


    Change: Dissolve team doctors because it's "socialized medicine."

    Result: Matt Forte pays for best trainers and doctors. Long snapper Patrick Mannelly goes to a "massage parlor" for treatment.


    Bears at Falcons

    Storyline: With both teams at 3-1 and in second place in their divisions, it's a "must win" for both teams.

    Reality: Bears fans will say "Hey, the Steelers are 3-2, so we beat a team over .500." I say "Hey, the Steelers are not that good."

    Prediction: Falcons Minus 3 Points, Under 45.5 Points Scored


    Record: 3-3


    Sugar in the Blue and Orange Kool-Aid: 85%
    Recommended sugar in the Blue and Orange Kool-Aid: 75%


    For more Emery, please see the Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report archives and the Over/Under collection. He welcomes your comments.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:42 AM | Permalink

    Cab # 240

    Date: 10/13/09
    From: South Loop
    To: Little Village

    The Cab: White mini-van cab. Pretty clean, neat but worn down leather covers on the first set of seats. The pattern reminded me a bit of black and tan bowling shows.

    The Driver: We should have known we were in trouble. The gold jacket and leopard-print denim pants should have given it away. We apparently caught her during lunch as she was working on a tuna sandwich and chips. She had a Jamaican accent, but while she was kicking us out of the cab, it sounded suspiciously less Jamaican.

    The Driving: One very rough stop and two near accidents, all of which of course were the fault of the other drivers. "They're crazy," Driver #240 said.

    I had not even wanted to take a cab. My class was going on a field trip and had to split into two cabs with the intention of meeting at the site. I asked if I could take the train and was told we were on a time crunch. With three others, we stood on the corner of State and Congress and waited about 10 minutes before we were able to hail a cab.

    Staying in the cab after our driver told us she did not know how to get to our address was complete insanity. We gave her a pretty general route to take as suggested by my professor and figured if nothing else it would be an adventure. I quickly looked up driving directions on the Google maps function on my phone, saw the directions were not terribly difficult, and put the phone away.

    About 20 minutes later, we were further south than we needed to be and not west enough. We say omething to our lovely driver. Response? "Yes, I have gone too far."

    One of my classmates took our her phone and pulled a map and tried to give the driver directions. Maybe we should have done this from the beginning but nobody thought it would come to this.

    After the driver gave us attitude for not knowing how to tell her to find our destination, she gave my classmate attitude for trying to give her directions and then more for not being more clear with them. I thought they have GPS and dispatchers to help them if they get lost?

    At this point, I have asked her to stop running the meter until we get back on track. She said of course and hit a little button. About 10 minutes later, we appeared to be on track - and notice the meter is $4 more. When asked if she ever stopped running it, she said yes, she just turned it on a block ago.

    Classmate: So it jumped up that much in a block?

    Driver #240 Yes, you know, it's connected to the wheels. When the wheels move it costs more. The city, it puts it on the wheels. I show you.

    We questioned the rate. My female classmate had discovered from texting the professor that their fare was only $18 with tip. Ours is at $22 and we don't know, after 45 minutes of driving, when we will reach our destination. We brought this up to our driver.

    Driver #240: You know what? You don't have to pay it.

    Us: What?

    Driver #240: [pulling over into a car repair parking lot] You don't have to pay it. Get out of my cab.

    Us: Are you kicking us out?

    Drier #240: Get out.

    We told her we would call the company and report her. She said they'll make us pay when we call. She told us again to get out and to calm down. I told her I'd get out as soon as I wrote down her cab number.

    Driver #240: Calm down. Calm down. HEY! Calm down!

    Me: I am calm. I'm just going to write down your cab number and name and then I'll get out.

    Driver #240: Calm down! Get out! Calm down!

    And then she tried to flip up her name tag so I wouldn't be able to see her name. So I laughed and told her I already had her name down so it was okay.

    Driver #240: Just calm down! Stop yelling!

    Me: [Now I actually start to yell] No. You stop yelling! You calm down! You want me to yell, fine, I'll yell! Don't you tell me to calm down!

    Two of my classmates had already gotten out of the car. Then she threatened to start moving with the doors open if my other classmate and I did not get out. Eventually, we did after I dared her to do so and she drove away.

    When I called the cab company immediately afterwards, I was offered no apology. I was told that the supervisor knew her well and that it did not sound like her. He offered to call me back the next day with a response to the situation. Sure, I said. Would you like my number so you can actually do that?

    I know I won't be hearing from them, but they sure as hell will be hearing from me again soon.

    Overall Rating: One big, enthusiastic extended middle finger.

    - Ivana Susic

    There are more than 6,000 cabs in the city of Chicago. We intend to review every one of them.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:59 AM | Permalink


    By Thomas Chambers

    Now we wait.

    It's four weekends until the 25th Breeders' Cup World Championships, hosted by the Oak Tree Meet at Santa Anita.

    This is where you tend to a few things you need to do around the house, keep an eye on the Daily Racing Form and other publications, and swear to yourself you're not going to over-handicap the races.

    And it's not too early to plan your Cup venue. I'm shying away from the OTB after not being able to muster much interest from what's left of the old Jackson St. (I know it's a boulevard, but that's what they named it) OTB gang in reserving a private room. But thinking back, those guys never stayed until the end at the old place, never got worked up like me about the Breeders' Cup.

    I both chuckled and shook my head when I asked the manager of my favorite restaurant/watering hole if he'd be showing the Breeders' Cup. I figured I'd go there, eat better food and play the races through the magic of phone wagering. He took on a blank look and muttered "college football."

    You know college football. Where every game is big and every week has a big, big game, watched by thirtysomethings and beyond who just can't let go of university life. An occasional bet on a game is about the only time I care about football. Plus, I'm pretty sure the old alma mater UW-Oshkosh's conference tilt with Whitewater that day won't be on TV, not even ESPN19.

    I can't be surprised, because while I contort over a big outside move at the three-quarters pole, people there look at me, then look at the TV, and I can tell they don't give a damn about horse racing. Sheep.

    So it's looking more and more like home, in full control of the eats and the drinks, in front of the HD big screen with the iMac fired up and giving me constant, real-time odds, something you find hard to get on the ESPN/ABC coverage.

    So where do we stand? Who's looking to run? You could melt the Beachwood server with all of the horses and combinations, so let's run down the winners of the major American races of 2009:

    * Kentucky Derby Winner Mine That Bird, although finishing a decent second in the Preakness, has not shown the late-closing dazzle he did in the Derby and finished a struggling fifth in last weekend's Goodwood at Santa Anita. That's not a good omen for the Breeders' Cup, where he's pointed to the Classic.

    * Kentucky Oaks, Preakness and Woodward winner Rachel Alexandra is taking the rest of the year off and will sit out Cup day.

    * Belmont winner Summer Bird parlayed that victory into wins in the Travers and the Jockey Club Gold Cup, becoming the first horse to record that triple since Easy Goer in 1989. He also finished a nice second to Rachel in the Haskell. He'll appear in the Classic. Win or lose, he should be 3-year-old of the year.

    * Whitney Handicap winner Bullsbay had to pull out of the Goodwood after stepping on something and suffering an abscess. His connections say he should be ready for the Breeders' Cup, with options as to which race he runs in.

    * Pacific Classic winner Richard's Kid remains big on the wiseguys' lists, especially after finishing a strong third in the Goodwood. He looks to be going to the Classic, which will be a very big step up in class.

    * Goodwood upsetter Gitano Hernando already has Americans worried about a Euro stealing the Classic. We'll see.

    * Turf wonder Gio Ponti, winner of the Arlington Million, will go in the Classic instead of the Turf. Don't know the wisdom of that decision, but her connections must think synthetic is the same as turf, so why not?

    * Beldame winner Music Note is slated for the Ladies Classic.

    * Zenyatta turned in just the kind of win her connections wanted in the Lady's Secret last week, loping along, turning it on wide coming into the stretch and then dialing it down a notch for her 13th straight win with no losses. She tied the great Personal Ensign, who went 13-0 for her entire career. Daily Racing Form oddsmaker Mike Watchmaker has her 6-5 in the Ladies Classic and 4-1 in the Classic. We don't know yet where she'll run, but her connections seem willing to join the boys in the Classic.

    * For what it's worth, Watchmaker has European runner Rip Van Winkle on top of his Classic odds at 7-2.

    Keep in mind, if you start looking at the Breeders' Cup, that the thousands of pundits out there, including the large crew at the Racing Form, BloodHorse and right up to the prognosticators on the telecast, tend to boil all of these selections down until they pick the same three or four or five horses in each race. Or they pick "name" horses, runners who were once hyped for whatever reason but haven't really done too much or throw in a horse that won a big race eight months ago.

    Big buzz lines you'll hear this year are "Zenyatta in the Classic: Can She Win?"; "Will the Euros Clean Up Again This Year?"; "Summer Bird: Yes or Too Tired?"; and "Can (Any Mid-Distance Horse Here) Get the Distance?"

    Beware the experts.

    Illinois Online
    You've no doubt heard all of the local media coverage about how online/phone wagering is now legal and available in Illinois. Of course, the coverage was incomplete.

    In order to conduct gambling in Illinois, an entity has to be specifically licensed in Illinois. The three new licensees are YouBet, TVG (Television Games, owned by BetFair in England),and TwinSpires, part of the corporate empire of Churchill Downs, Inc.

    YouBet and TwinSpires have been operating through Oregon hubs in Illinois for years. TwinSpires acquired WinTicket, where I had an account several years ago, and now uses its platform. TVG chose not to operate in Illinois because it did not want to risk becoming or getting involved in a legal test case.

    YouBet and TwinSpires got in early in the online wagering game and were allowed to operate in Illinois simply because the state looked the other way. Illinois was called a gray state.

    This is merely a way for the state to get its hooks into the handle and take its cut.

    The industry fear is that this will cut further into live attendance at the tracks and perhaps even at the OTBs. I figure it's always more fun to go to the track or OTB, but for those stuck on a farmette in the middle of a soybean field, this is good news.


    Thomas Chambers is the Beachwood's man on the rail. He brings you Track Notes every Friday. He welcomes your comments.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:41 AM | Permalink

    The College Football Report

    By Mike Luce

    This weekend features several great match-ups, but the Red River Shootou... wait, it's no longer called the Shootout? The Texas-Oklahoma game, you know, the one played every year since 1922? We're calling it the Red River Rivalry now?

    Yes, thanks to SBC Communications (and now this year, AT&T) one of college football's oldest rivalries was re-branded. The series dates back to 1900, but in 2005 the ad men behind the sponsorship dollars decided the impressionable public should be spared such language. Apparently, the boys at corporate feel as though "shootout" may in some way condone gun violence. The Nerfing of America continues.

    Other top games include #22 South Carolina at #2 Alabama, #4 Virginia Tech visiting #19 Georgia Tech, and #25 Notre Dame hosting #6 USC.

    In the background, the upcoming Bowl Championship Series rankings loom over any game involving a Top 10 team this weekend. The HAL 9000 will crunch all the numbers and spit out the results Sunday night. Here is how it works. Sort of.

    1. The Harris Interactive Poll (33 percent): Comprised of votes by a panel of 114 former and current college muckety-mucks, drawn from more than 300 nominations by all 11 FBS (i.e. Division I-A, for those of you keeping track at home) conferences and other institutions.

    2. The USA Today/Coaches Poll (33 percent): Same as above, basically, except only 59 voting members are involved.

    Both polls follow the same inverse point order system, with voters allocating 25 points to first place, 24 points to second, and so on. In both cases, some addition and division happens, and you're left with a BCS quotient. We're supposed to believe a process exists to account for any missing voters (those too drunk, dead, or incarcerated to file a ballot), but I'm not buying it.

    3. Six Junior HALs (33 percent): Another six rankings are generated by computers. The rankers include: Peter Wolfe, Wes Colley, Sagarin, the Seattle Times, Richard Billingsley, and Kenneth Massey. Note: those aren't the names of the computers, but instead the computers' fleshy, bipedal masters.

    (For an interesting interview with Billingsley, go here, and check out his Week 6 rankings here.)

    Finally, the BCS formula drops the highest and lowest ranking for each team from among the six computers. Then each piece from the three sources above gets added up and averaged. When it comes to the BCS, suffice it to say, some math is involved.

    OK, got it? Good. Now, crunch the numbers for Ohio State and e-mail me the results. First correct answer wins a prize.

    In two of the three games mentioned above, I don't have a strong feeling. (While I suspect 'Bama rolls South Carolina, Spurrier is due for a big road win SOME day . . . and is it blasphemy to wonder if Va Tech is a bit overrated?) Saturday should be a tremendous day of football - maybe the best so far this season - and laying off some games allows you some breathing room to watch and enjoy the game without worrying about the numbers. To date, the Report has not seen much success in our weekly picks. Through Week 6, we are treading water at 11-11 while the Sports Seal has a record of 5-6-1. This week, we guarantee all of the following picks by the Report are LOCKS*.

    As always, the following is for entertainment purposes only. Including gambling.

    Game: #20 Oklahoma (+3) @ #3 Texas (Over 52, Saturday, 11 a.m.)

    Comment: Whenever watching a game out at a bar, compare your gambling strategy against the venue. For example, I like Oklahoma to play spoiler on Saturday . . . but I'll be taking in the game from a local Texas bar. In these situations, consider laying off altogether or look at playing the point total. I'm undecided at the moment. Officially, I'll pass on this one, although unofficially I would take the points and/or the "over".


    Game: #6 USC (-10) @ #25 Notre Dame (Saturday, 2:30 p.m.)

    Comment: I'm living up to my promise of rooting for USC over Notre Dame. I developed a love for ND as kid before I was old enough to know about Sports Bigamy. However, my interest has waned since the mid-90s, and the combination of Willingham and Weis has nearly extinguished any lingering support.

    Apart from any emotional context, consider these numbers: USC allows 8.6 points per game while ND gives up 23.8. Further, under Billingsley's system, Southern Cal ranks #13 while the Irish come in at . . . #40. Hmm, this guy might be on to something here.

    Tune in Saturday and catch the last belch of the Charlie Weis era. Take USC and lay the points.


    Game: #7 Ohio State (-13.5) @ Purdue (Saturday, 11 a.m.)

    Comment: Is this the same Purdue team Notre Dame struggled to beat a few weeks ago? You're telling me that the Boilermakers are 1-5 overall, and winless in the Big Ten? I like this pick (and USC, for that matter) more and more by the minute. I hope the number stays below two touchdowns.

    Don't get me wrong, Purdue plays tough at home. But apart from pride, the Boilermakers don't have much left this season - and pride only does so much good when trailing the Buckeyes big at home. I thought OSU might struggle a bit to dispatch Wisconsin at the 'Shoe last weekend, but if the Badgers can't come within 14 points, I don't see any reason not to back Tressel's squad on Saturday.


    Game: Colorado State @ #12 TCU (-22.5, Saturday, 3:00 p.m.)

    Comment: Of all the teams discussed in the Report today, the Horned Frogs may have the most to gain or lose in the BCS rankings. Every team in the top 15 spots or so needs to win, that is a given, but voters may give other schools the benefit of the doubt in a close game. For example, if Iowa or Miami scrape out a tough win on the road against unranked opponents, the voters will find any number of excuses on their behalf.

    But if TCU fails to blow out Colorado State at HOME on Saturday . . . well, eyebrows will go up. The system already favors teams from the Big 6 BCS conferences (those such as the Big Ten, SEC, Pac-10, etc. with automatic BCS bowl tie-ins) as it is, so the stakes for a team like TCU are very high. Not only must they win, they must win in impressive fashion.

    I would worry about other teams in this position, and we have already seen would-be "BCS Buster" seasons (umm, yes you, Houston) derailed. TCU has produced tough wins under pressure situations before, and I'm confident in a cover at home this weekend.


    Game: #23 Houston (-17) @ Tulane (Saturday, 2:30 p.m.)

    Comment: Fresh from my snide comments about Houston in the previous pick, we come right back to the Cougars! I'm not so much picking for a heavy road favorite in this situation as I am picking against a terrible Tulane team.

    * Unless my team doesn't cover the spread, in which case forget it.

    CFR Notes
    The Beachwood Sports Seal has a determined look in his beady little eyes this morning. He doesn't like losing any more than the next guy. Despite his hot start, we're all only as good as our last week. But most of us won't get clubbed, skinned, and turned into a nice waterproof jacket if we flame out. For those of you surfing the job listings, keep this little thought in mind - getting laid off sucks, but it could always be worse.

    His picks:

    ~ #9 Miami (-17) @ Central Florida (Saturday, 6:30 p.m.)
    ~ #11 Iowa @ Wisconsin (-2.5, Saturday, 11:00 a.m.)
    ~ Minnesota @ #14 Penn State (-17.5, Saturday, 2:30 p.m.)


    Mike "Dr. Dude" Luce brings you The College Football Report in this space twice a week. He welcomes your comments.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:41 AM | Permalink

    Bloodshot Briefing: The Choir's Alright

    By Matt Harness

    The biggest news on the Bloodshot Records' beat is the good news surrounding Scotland Yard Gospel Choir. The good word is everybody's health is improving.

    "Once I realized everyone in the band would be okay, I came alive again," Scotland Yard Gospel Choir's Elia Einhorn told the Tribune's Greg Kot nearly one month after a horrific van crash on I-65.

    Unlike a lot of indie-type bands, most Scotland Yard members have health insurance. But the equipment that was destroyed must be paid for out of pocket. If you are interested in helping out, go here. Instead of money, some folks are donating instruments. E-mail Nan to learn more.

    As one commenter on Kot's post points out, health insurance certainly is crucial for bands but most of them also don't have the kind of insurance that covers lost, stolen or damaged equipment.

    Subterranean is hosting a benefit concert Oct. 31 to raise money for SYGC. BBU, New Duncan Imperials, Canasta and the Avondale Ramblers all are playing.

    On Nov. 12, the Hideout is organizing its own benefit. The 1900s and Brighton MA both are playing. Singer/songwriter Matt Kerstein was a founding member of SYGC before going off on his own after one album with the group.

    Tweet, Tweet
    Justin Townes Earle (JustinTEarle) is one of Bloodshot's profilic tweeters, and he recently announced via Twitter that Cory Younts, his mandolin player, is leaving the band. But Justin really hit the jackpot by informing me last month someone makes goat cheese grits. Who says Twitter is a waste of time.


    By force or persuasion, Scott H. Biram (ScottHBiram) now also owns a Twitter account. That would be like Hank Williams checking e-mail. Biram's first post on September 8th was "Thou shalt not tweet." But he seems to have the hang of it now. One of my favorites was "The Road = Beef Jerky Time." Just watch out for Sasquatch, Scott.


    In other Biram news, check out his video for "Still Drunk, Still Crazy, Still Blue." If you've never seen Biram's show, this gives you a purty good idea what he's all about.


    Rosie Flores' new album Girl of the Century is on pre-sale right now. It hits stores Oct. 27. But those who order now get a full-color poster and are entered to win an autographed poster.

    Bloodshot Live
    You can still get your Bloodshot on this month.

    Artist: Ha Ha Tonka
    Date: Oct. 23
    Venue: Bottom Lounge


    Bloodshot Briefing appears in this space every Friday. Matt welcomes your comments.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:33 AM | Permalink

    Dis and Dat, Dem and Dose

    By George Ofman

    Terrell Owens and Milton Bradley: Separated by birth?


    Rumors are usually exciting, intriguing, exhilarating and even . . . true! But the one having the Bears interested in perhaps obtaining the team wrecker from the Buffalo Bills was slightly intriguing, mostly stupid and not happening. Can we invent something more sensible such as "The Bears are trying to coax Jerry Rice out of retirement?" That ought to do it.


    I don't want to see Rush Limbaugh get an NFL franchise. And I'm relieved someone in the fractured group trying to buy the Rams had the sense to drop him. Of course, they were total nitwits to consider him in the first place.

    Did you really think NFL owners would have approved one of the most dangerous men in America if it ever got to that? Please! This was all about Limbaugh fueling his publicity machine. Unfortunately, it worked.


    Rush Limbaugh and Milton Bradley: Twin sons of different mothers?


    Notre Dame hosts USC again. The Trojans have won the last seven meetings by a combined scored of 284-95. Would it be hasty to suggest USC could score that many points this Saturday?


    If the Blackhawks proved anything Monday night, they can score and often. They fought back from a 5-nothing deficit to beat Calgary 6-5, the greatest comeback in the storied history of the franchise. What the game also proved is this team may need to find a goaltender worthy of the talent that surrounds him. Is Cristobal Huet French for sieve?


    The Cubs filed for bankruptcy. It happened through section 363 of the federal bankruptcy code. This is how the bankrupt Tribune Company planned to hand over the team to Tom Ricketts. A bankruptcy lawyer wrote "The parties who structured the sale of the Cubs and obtained the court's approval of the sale process showed a great deal of imagination and creativity in the proposal they presented the court." I'm dumbstruck! The Cubs have lost nine straight playoff games, haven't won a pennant in 64 years or a World Series since 1908 yet they claim bankruptcy and get away with it. I say hire the judge in this case and make him team president!


    Rush Limbaugh and Terrell Owens: A couple of mothers?


    Do you feel the way I do about Sunday's Bears game in Atlanta? It's a trap game. Trap as in trap door. The Falcons offense is made for the Bears defense. It can run (Michael Turner), it can pass (Matt Ryan), it has a good offensive line and it just scored the most lopsided victory in the history of Candlestick Park where it beat the Golden Gate Bridge off the 49ers. And Sunday night's game is in Atlanta, scene of last year's disaster and in my estimation, one of the worst losses the Bears have incurred in decades. This is not a must win for the Bears playoff chances, but consider that the following week they play at Cincinnati, where Cedric Benson is smokin'. (Fine, sue me for that line). If the Bears split these games, they're okay. If they win both, they're better than okay. If they lose both . . . look out.


    The Bulls have lots of issues heading into a season without Ben Gordon but I remain a firm believer in Tyrus Thomas. I realize this kid (gee, I'm sounding more like Ozzie Guillen every day now) has some issues but there is a bundle of talent waiting to be unearthed. I really think he has the stuff of a 15-point, 10- rebound-a-game player. Then again, he acts like a $10 million talent with a 10-cent brain. Whether a guy like Vinny Del Negro can induce him into being a player remains to be seen. There have been trade rumors surrounding Thomas and if the Bulls feel they can get better dealing him, all the power to them. But it might behoove management to seriously consider letting him grow here. He has the potential to be an impact player and right now the Bulls possess only one of those, and that's Derrick Rose.


    At what stage do Fighting Illini big wigs (boosters included) determine Ron Zook has the coaching ability of Rush Limbaugh? I think he's already overstayed his welcome.


    In a related story, the Big Ten Conference cut a deal for fve New Year's Day bowl games. The Fighting Illini is scheduled to compete in the "Going Nowhere Bowl" scheduled for January 2nd in Auburn, New York. It happens to be 399th and last on The Sporting News' list of best sports cities in America.


    George Ofman, an original member of The Score and a veteran of NPR, has covered more than 3,500 sporting events over the course of his career. Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:17 AM | Permalink

    Taking The Sixth

    By Sam Singer

    For most of us, the Sixth Amendment represents the familiar proposition that we have a right to a competent criminal defense. In its plainest form, we picture a lawyer who will fight vigorously to keep us out of prison, and if he can't, then at least to make our stay as short and comfortable as possible. We don't ask more of the Constitution because we don't need more; generally, the legal consequences of criminal prosecution end with an orange jumpsuit.

    Not so for Jose Padilla. When he pleaded guilty to a drug charge, his prison sentence was a secondary concern. More important for Padilla, a Vietnam veteran and lawful U.S. resident of forty years, was his lawyer's assurance that pleading guilty would not subject him to deportation. When it turned out his lawyer was wrong, Padilla sought relief in the Kentucky courts, arguing that he was deprived of his Sixth Amendment right to counsel. In denying his claim, the Kentucky Supreme Court held that the Sixth Amendment does not contemplate the "collateral consequences" of a conviction. Having examined the direct consequences of his guilty plea, the court explained, Padilla's lawyer had no obligation to warn him that pleading guilty would automatically trigger his removal.

    On Tuesday, Padilla asked the Supreme Court to reject Kentucky's narrow interpretation of the Sixth Amendment's right to counsel. He contends that the right is not fixed in scope, but that it expands and contracts with the objectives of the client. As a non-citizen, Padilla wanted reliable advice about the immigration consequences of conviction before entering a guilty plea. Had he received it, he would have bargained for a conviction that would not trigger deportation. Failing that, he would have gone to trial, where the government had the burden of proof and he had a fighting chance.

    Appearing on behalf of Kentucky, Robert Long reminded the Court that the Sixth Amendment is concerned with a fair determination of guilt, not with the legal consequences that flow from it. In his view, the Sixth Amendment inquiry ends when the Court is satisfied that the defendant understood his core procedural rights. Long contends that the Court can't expand the doctrine, even if only to accommodate non-citizens, without inviting questions about its limits.

    As if to prove the point, the justices spent the better part of the day grilling Padilla's lawyer (his lawyer on appeal, not the clown that landed him here) about the limits of his proposed standard. Justice Ginsburg wanted to know whether defense lawyers would have to warn clients about forfeiting civil rights like voting and driving. Justice Alito wondered whether a conviction could be set aside because the defendant was not aware that it would increase his exposure to tort liability. Justice Scalia couldn't locate a limiting principle that sets apart deportation from losing custody of a child.

    Padilla offers a safe alternative for those justices concerned that the slope of the collateral consequences path is a slippery one. First, Padilla contends that the Court could do right by simply adding "immigration status" to the narrow list of issues that a defense lawyer must consider when advising criminal defendants. This option has the practical appeal of avoiding an open-ended ruling that some fear would invite a flurry of post-conviction challenges.

    Second, Padilla stresses the distinction between bad advice and no advice at all. Had his lawyer simply overlooked the immigration consequences, the Court would have to determine whether Padilla was entitled to the information. But because Padilla raised the question and, despite being spectacularly ill-equipped to do so, his lawyer fielded it, the Court could set aside the conviction without reaching the broader question. For a Court that prides itself on minimalism, this will be tempting escape hatch.


    Sam Singer is the Beachwood's legal correspondent. He welcomes your comments.


    Previously by Sam Singer:
    * Is TARP legal? Court to decide on laugh test.

    * Taking Government Out Of The Marriage Business. Separating church and state.

    * Chicago's Disorderly Conduct. Dissent allowed even in Daleyland

    * Why Google Will Win. Newspapers are on the wrong side of the digital revolution.

    * Is Blago A Flight Risk? We asked; a judge said yes.

    * Obama's Torture Test. Politically calculating.

    * Replacing Souter. Signs point to Kagan.

    * Going to Pot. The states vs. the feds.

    * The Sotomayor Show. A guide for viewers.

    * Chicago's Still Valid Gun Ban. Chicago vs. D.C.

    * The Gay Rights Gamble. What happened in California may no longer stay there.

    * Legal Fiction. When judges go noir.

    * Obama's Justice. The president's curious habit.

    * Settling With The City. Backwards by even Chicago standards.

    * The Legality of Health Insurance Mandates. The consumer who doesn't pay for a commodity is every bit as active as one who does.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:54 AM | Permalink

    The Open Books Store

    By Open Books

    Stories of growth and expansion are rare these days, especially among non-profit organizations. Everywhere doors are closing as the economy struggles to regain its strength. To make matters worse, 53 percent of adults in Chicago have low or limited literacy skills, making it even more difficult for them to find jobs and support their families. Improving literacy and bringing the joy of reading and writing into people's lives is the heart of Open Books' mission.

    On November 21st, 2009, in the River North neighborhood, Open Books will open the first bookstore of its kind not only in Chicago, but in the nation.

    Open Books, founded in May 2006 by Stacy Ratner, is a non-profit social venture that operates an extraordinary bookstore, provides community literacy programs, and mobilizes passionate volunteers to promote literacy in Chicago and beyond. Stacy began rescuing new and used books from landfills to sell in a colorful and unique used bookstore. The proceeds from the sales of those books fund literacy programs that take place in classrooms right above the bookstore.

    In a little over three years, Open Books has hired nine full-time staff members, collected more than 250,000 used books, recruited more than 2,500 volunteers and created four signature literacy programs to serve adults, teens and children.

    The weekend of November 21st and 22nd, from 10 a.m. - 7 p.m., Open Books, located at 213 W. Institute Place, will open its doors to Chicago and welcome all book lovers young and old to experience our magical bookstore with a weekend full of family friendly activities, author events, story time, puppet shows and much more.

    Tell your readers why they should join Open Books for its grand celebration and give them the opportunity to learn more about the 75 tons of books we have saved from landfills, our amazing volunteer opportunities, and how they can donate their books to our cause.


    Open Books is a non-profit social venture that operates an extraordinary bookstore, provides community programs, and mobilizes passionate volunteers to promote literacy in Chicago and beyond. We enhance lives through reading, writing, and the NEWSWORTHY power of used books.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:44 AM | Permalink

    October 15, 2009

    The [Thursday] Papers

    By Steve Rhodes

    "House Speaker Michael Madigan forged ahead Wednesday on a plan to limit campaign donations - with a big exception for the dollars he and other leaders dole out to ensure lawmakers' election and reward loyalty," the Tribune reports.

    "The move by the veteran leader would serve the dual purposes of putting his Democrats on record in support of a major ethics reform while simultaneously preserving his power as the state's longest-serving House speaker and chairman of the state Democratic Party. Political party donations would also be unlimited under the plan."

    This has got to end. Michael Madigan is a menace. He must be destroyed.


    "Critics said the proposal could actually strengthen the hand of Madigan and other power brokers in the legislature, making individual lawmakers more reliant on their leaders for campaign cash because of the first-ever restrictions it would impose on donations from most other key players in the political process."

    Seriously. Getting rid of Michael Madigan is of far more import than, say, rolling back Cook County's sales tax increase. Michael Madigan is a one of the biggest wrenches in democracy in Illinois history. It's time to relieve him of his duties.


    "Madigan's proposal, approved on a party-line vote of Democrats in a House committee, launched the legislature's annual two-week fall session on a contentious note. It is the latest twist in a long-running struggle to rein in a pay-to-play political culture that gained new importance after lawmakers removed disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich after his December arrest on federal corruption charges."

    A party-line vote of Democrats. Of which Madigan is the state chairman. In the Land of Obama.

    Democrats, only you can heal thyselves.


    "The proposal also would allow Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton, both Chicago Democrats, as well as Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno of Lemont and House GOP Leader Tom Cross of Oswego, to transfer unlimited sums of money from their special leadership campaign bank accounts to individual legislators or candidates in highly competitive races. Since Madigan also serves as state Democratic chairman, he also could devote unlimited party campaign resources to hard-fought contests."

    There is only one answer to the funding shenanigans plauging our politics: Publicly-funded campaigns. This isn't a private enterprise. It's the public's business.


    "During a hearing of the Madigan-controlled House Executive Committee, Rep. Ed Sullivan, R-Mundelein, asked the House speaker to explain the 'reason we went backward' on leadership donation limits. Sullivan said it appears that leaders who donate large amounts to lawmakers' campaigns control how those legislators vote.

    "'If you want to deal on appearances, go ahead, do what you want to do,' Madigan replied sharply. 'That's what you'll do anyhow'."

    Okay. It appears that you, sir, are a deceitful and manipulative parasite sucking on the public body for no reason other than feeding your ego by maintaining power with which you do next to nothing of benefit to the people of the state who pay your salary. In the ballpark?


    Commenter franzibonzi: "The sad part of this is that while Madigan screws up the whole state, only the people in his district get to vote on him. From what I see, they have foolishly given him lifetime employment. Word is they won't vote him out because their govt jobs depend on him."

    Yes, that's the tricky part. But the state does get to vote for or against his daughter . . . maybe we hold her job hostage in exchange for her father's move into a quiet retirement or the private sector.


    Here's where the evil enablers live.

    Facebook Feed
    John Kuczaj doesn't understand why people insist on anthropomorphizing Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh.

    Our Ugliest Building
    The James R. Thompson Center vs. the Harold Washington Library.

    Roland Burris: Suddenly Relevant
    Emerges as key health-care vote.

    Madigan vs. Bean
    Consumers vs. banks.

    Other Public Options . . .
    . . . we'd like to see. Including The Parking Meter Public Option.

    Letter From Michigan
    "First observation about Ford Field: Detroit oriented the traffic flow as if they did not expect people to show up," Eric Emery writes in Over/Under.

    The Old Post Office became a sphinx.

    On The Kennedy


    The Beachwood Tip Line: Like five-way chili.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:42 AM | Permalink


    By Eric Emery

    Last Sunday, I traveled to Detroit to watch my beloved Steelers battle the Lions. My friend Al was along for the ride as well. As the best man for my wedding, Al, a practicing Jew, did not know what to do with the wafer given to him by the priest. So he did the religiously respectful thing: he put it in the pocket of his rented tux. On tape. To the horror of my very Italian mother-in-law.

    Even though nobody really wins when they go to Detroit, having Al along was sure to make the best of a bad situation. A travelogue:

    * Good idea, travel to see your team. Bad idea: Have a spell of insomnia; take Benadryl partly to rid myself of the itchy results of a food allergy and partly to be sleepy. At 2:30 a.m.

    * I hate the fact it's 5:20 a.m., I'm driving to Detroit, I'm groggy from the Benadryl, and I'm probably going to make the news on WBBM for the traffic delay on the Tri-State at 6 a.m. At least I'm not itchy.

    * I make it to Homewood to pick up Al. He's driving, I'm sleeping.

    * Al announces that we're through Indiana. It's only good news if you're traveling west. We are traveling northeast.

    * Neither Al nor I are economists, but based on our knowledge of Michigan and the highway advertisements, we've determined that Michigan's two biggest industries are automobile manufacturing and "spas." Our favorite: Tokyo Health Spa. It's open until 2 a.m.

    * Apparently, Michigan experienced some anti-Asian backlash, given that one "spa" brags "All American staff." Finally, a Michigan industry that can compete with Asian products. Take that, Toyota!

    * A small green sign welcomes us to Detroit. Under it, another small sign reads "Home of Super Bowl XL." As sad as that sounds, the sign is more impressive than Chicago's: "Runner up to the runner up to the runner up to the host of the 2016 Summer Olympics."

    * We exit to I-375 to find a line three miles long to exit to Ford Field. We execute our Chicago driving skills to move toward the front and cut somebody off. The reaction is the same as in Chicago. We are deemed to be "number 1."

    * First observation about Ford Field: Detroit oriented the traffic flow as if they did not expect people to show up. Exhibit A: Only one exit, with only one exit lane. Exhibit B: Two stop lights immediately after exit ramp. Exhibit C: Massive waves of fans walking to Ford Field, cutting off access to parking lots on the backside of Ford Field. Exhibit D: You have to fight through all this to have the honor of paying $45 for the parking garage.

    * There are a lot of Steelers fans here. Obama's stimulus plan for Detroit: Change schedule to have Steelers play in Detroit every week.

    * I order burger and fries. Cashier tells intermediary my order, then intermediary tells kitchen. There are many intermediaries piled up at the kitchen window. I'm guessing this is the same process used at GM for the supply/demand planning.

    * Seats: 20th row. Cost: Tickets, car rental, and gas the same as a 300 level ticket at Soldier Field. Here is the upside of 25% unemployment.

    * Three rows ahead of us: Steelers fan with an "Obama 08" jersey. Cost: $1.2 million.

    * Lions score on field goal on their first possession. A bearded man in a Lions hard hat angrily performs a very awful fight song.

    * Line of the day by Al: "It's good to see one of the members of the Village People found work in Detroit." We start doing "YMCA."

    * There are a lot of Steelers fans here. We estimate the ratio at 66/33. (Al represents the remaining 1% as he is wearing a Bears jersey.) Lions fan next to me states that it's a good thing, given that the game would have been blacked out locally. I remind the Lions fan that he could have stayed home. His friend, a Steelers fan, agrees. Seems to me he could have stayed home and not subjected himself to ridicule for free.

    * I turn to Al early in the fourth quarter and say "The Steelers will go play-action pass and go deep." Roethlisberger goes play-action pass and throws a 50-yd TD to Wallace. Lions fan next to me becomes very depressed.

    * Lions fan next to me says "We're still the worst team in the NFL." I rattle off four teams that might be worse. I don't really mean it, though. I's sad to see a grown man cry.

    * Lions stop Steelers and score a TD, moving the score to 28-20. The dozens of Lions fans in attendance get excited. Al sings "YMCA" over the angry fight song guy.

    * Lions stop Steelers again. They get the ball to the 20 with two minutes remaining. During the timeout, Roary, the Lions mascot, starts flossing his teeth with a Terrible Towel. Thousands of Steelers fans boo.

    * A guy sitting three seats over from "Obama 08" starts flipping off Roary. He's very angry. I bet "Obama 08" resolves the tension by having angry flip-off guy and Roary over for a beer summit.

    * Steelers sack QB three straight times, then prevent a Hail Mary to seal the win. Roary fashions the Terrible Towel into a noose.

    * Al and I wait for 20 minutes before heading to the car, guessing that it will be impossible to get out. We wait an additional 25 minutes to back out of out spot. We discover there are only two exit lanes. That's Detroit efficiency as its best.

    * On way back to Chicago, I-94 is jammed. After crawling for a mile, sign reads "One Lane Friday - Sunday, two miles ahead." It's Sunday, and nobody is working on the road. Nor is there anything wrong with the closed lane. I haven't hated Michigan more.

    * New favorite "spa" sign: Happy Spa.

    * New, new favorite "spa" sign: Lucky Spa. All spas open until 2 a.m.

    * Bored, Al calls number on the Lucky Spa sign. Findings: A one-hour massage and shower is $60. Al confirms that they will be open until 2 a.m.

    * Last week I stated that if you thought the Broncos were going to be good, you probably smoked crack. Often. Al discloses that he bet "Broncos Over 8 wins" in Vegas. I look for pipes or syringes on floorboard.

    * Outside Kalamazoo, we start to lose signal on the Broncos-Patriots game. I say, "A Hooters or Buffalo Wild Wings would be great." We exit on a whim, and discover a Hooters right away.

    * Broncos kick a field goal to win. Al starts free-basing cocaine.

    * With our bellies full and spirits lifted, we agree that Michigan isn't all that bad. As we leave Michigan, we start ragging on Indiana. I've always hated John Mellencamp. He seems like the kind of guy who would give imself the nickname "Cougar." Guys who do that are always assholes.


    OverHyped Game of the Week: Broncos at Chargers

    Storyline: Ha, ha Belichick! You lost to the Broncos! Screw you Patriots. Broncos beat you! You guys suck!

    Reality: The Chargers are overrated for realsies.

    Prediction: Broncos 3.5 Points, Under 44.5 Points Scored


    UnderHyped Game of the Week: Giants at Saints

    Storyline: Remember that guy who shot himself in the ass? The Giants are 4-0 bitch!

    Reality: This was news to me, but the Saints have a defense. The Giants shall be the Saints' bitch!

    Prediction: Saints Minus 3 Points, Over 47.5 Points Scored


    Last week: 3-1
    Overall: 8-8


    For more Emery, please see the Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report archives and the Over/Under collection. He welcomes your comments.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:02 AM | Permalink

    Other Public Option Options We'd Like To Have

    By The Beachwood Public Affairs Desk

    While we certainly want to see a public option make its way back into health care reform legislation, we don't want to see the public option movement stop there.

    * The Parking Meter Public Option. For those who don't want to pay a private company to park on public streets.

    * The Aldermanic Public Option. For those who don't want to pay a privately funded and controlled local representative.

    * The Congressional Public Option. For those who don't want to pay privately funded and controlled national representatives.

    * The Publix Option. For those tired of Dominick's and Jewel.

    * The Pub Public Option. Federal subsidies to those who like beer.

    * The Pro Publica Option. Letting these people cover your local news instead of the jerkoffs you have now.

    * The Public Sports Franchise Option. As long as we're paying for the stadiums and arenas . . .

    * The Public Education Option. Expanding the nation's network of successful suburban public schools into our cities.

    * The Public Interest Option. For those who believe that not everything is a commodity.

    * The Public Utility Option. To put cost and quality pressures on our major utilities, customers would have the option of signing up with gas, electric, telephone and cable-TV companies regulated by the government in order to compete with the crappy utilities that seem to regulate themselves.


    Your suggestions welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:38 AM | Permalink

    Chicagoetry: Illumination


    I strove to summon the gods
    with cliches of madness. Pose after pose, put on after put on,

    point of view after
    point of view.
    Then the Old Post Office became a sphinx
    in a late dawn

    lavender. Merely a vision,
    not madness.
    A reflex of imagination
    from a cache of anger.

    Anger, not madness.
    To feel illuminated by the force of God's will.
    To reel, exhumed.


    J.J. Tindall is the Beachwood's poet-in-residence. He welcomes your comments. Chicagoetry is an exclusive Beachwood collection-in-progress.


    More Tindall:

    * Music: MySpace page

    * Fiction: A Hole To China

    * Critical biography at

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:11 AM | Permalink

    October 14, 2009

    The [Wednesday] Papers

    By Steve Rhodes

    1. Replacing the Olympic Village. Funny ideas for a sad situation.

    2. Call 911. Reading With Scissors is on fire.

    3. "Film history is littered with the carcasses of unfinished films, scraps of film tests, legendary ideas that never got off the ground," our very own Marilyn Ferdinand writes in her latest installment of the city's best Chicago International Film Festival coverage.

    "Among them, the aborted Inferno, Henri-Georges Clouzot's attempt at trying to make a film in the style of the Nouvelle Vague, is one of the more notorious. Clouzot, scorned by the auteurs of the French New Wave for his tightly scripted and controlled film style, immersed himself in the pop/op culture of the 1960s. He engaged France's biggest star at the time, Romy Schneider, to play Odette, the lead character, and Hollywood backers gave him a blank check to create this internalized tale of jealousy. He compiled highly detailed storyboards and started an elaborate series of optical tests in preparation for this half color/half black-and-white film. He began principal shooting in the resort town of Garabit in 1964. The film floundered, and Clouzot abandoned it after he suffered a heart attack during shooting."

    4. Chris Chelios is so old . . .

    5. Before Fenger, there was Collins.

    "The decision to close Collins and move those students to Little Village guaranteed violence on a number of different levels," Tracy Jake Siska writes on his Chicago Justice Project blog. "Local officials should have taken this into account before that decision had been made. This is what is meant by institutional violence, decisions being made at the highest levels without taking into account the repercussions of their decisions. Much of this violence would never have taken place had Collins not been closed and forced those students into a situation ripe for gang and racial violence. Foresight is not a mysterious power. It can flow from a process that includes the examination of the long-term effects of their decisions."

    6. Seems like every Illinois pol who runs for office has to also run from ties that got them in a position to . . . run for office.

    7. Pay Up, Seniors. There's no such thing as a free CTA ride.

    8. WWJD? Not endorse Stroger, that's for sure.

    9. Hiroshima and Nagasaki are reportedly teaming up to bid for the 2020 Summer Olympics. Yikes, that will be hard to beat.


    Though rumor has it Barack Obama has already been awarded the 2020 Summer Olympics. Not Chicago, just Obama. He's that great.

    10. Waiver wire hotties and the prospects for Kirk Hinrich. In Fantasy Fix.

    11. Mastodon To Film Chicago Show For Live DVD/CD Release.

    12. Birds Invade Bridgeport.

    13. Mmm, Google . . .


    The Beachwood Tip Line: Googly.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:31 AM | Permalink

    Fantasy Fix

    By Dan O'Shea

    The story of Week 5 in the NFL had a lot to do with the Austins - Miles Austin and Austin Collie. Two wide receivers who were on no one's draft list entering the season, and probably were not even on anyone's watch lists until Week 4, probably will be the two biggest pick-ups going into Week 6.

    Today's Ofman:
  • Chelios Not Done

  • Miles Austin had a stunning 250 yards receiving and two touchdowns for the Dallas Cowboys in an overtime victory against the Kansas City Chiefs, and Indianapolis rookie Austin Collie reeled in 97 yards worth Peyton Manning passes for two TDs.

    Most people are liking Miles as the better of the two unknowns, though his QB Tony Romo is still looking a bit off this year. Meanwhile, Manning is having a Manning-like year for the Colts and with Marvin Harrison gone has really found a balance among several receivers, Collie included. I like Collie to have better games week-to-week in the long run.

    The Austins kick off our Fantasy Fix Action Ratings for this week:

    Player: Miles Austin, WR
    Comment: Still only 35% owned in Yahoo! leagues as of late Tuesday. Where is everyone - hung over from Columbus Day parties? He probably just had his biggest game of the year against a bad team, but should see more action.


    Player: Austin Collie, WR
    Comment: An even easier find, just 16% owned. Won't have huge games, but seems to be consistent target for Manning.


    Player: Brandon Jacobs, RB
    Comment: A first-round running back in most leagues and maybe the latest (after Marion Barber and Willis McGahee, to name two) to see an upstart run off with his touches. In Jacobs' case, the upstart is Ahmad Bradshaw, who is getting the flashy play calls while Jacobs is pummeling the line. QB Eli Manning's strong season also has cut into his load.


    Player: Joe Flacco, QB
    Comment: Started this season with a hot hand, surprising on team with three solid running backs. But he has been less effective the last two weeks, and Baltimore seems to be running more again.


    Player: Chad Henne, QB
    Comment: 241 yards passing and two TDs for a Miami team that used at least four different "quarterbacks" Monday night to beat the Jets. Miami's love of the Wildcat offense suggests limited chances, but Henne made a strong case against a top-rated defense.


    Player: Fred Jackson, RB
    Comment: Marshawn Lynch is back and getting more of the touches for Buffalo, taking them away from a guy who looked like a solid prospect at the season's start. Plus, the Bills are just bad and not giving anyone much chance for fantasy points.


    Player: David Tyree, WR
    FFAR: SKIP (for now)
    Comment: The one-time Super Bowl hero who was dumped by a Giants team that was perceived to not have enough WRs (that's how bad things were for him), Tyree signed this week with Baltimore. Only worth watching for now, but stay tuned.

    Expert Wire
    * Bleacher Report has St. Louis QB Marc Bulger listed as a waiver wire hottie. The Rams are so bad, and may even have to deal with Rush Limbaugh owning them, but this might actually be a good idea as top WR target Donnie Avery has begun to perform well after a slow start, and tight ends Randy McMichael and Daniel Fells and WR Danny Amendola are string to pick up the pace, too. Also, Bulger got a vote of confidence from his coach.

    * Fantasy Football Toolbox (a new resource for us) has analysis of the Calvin Johnson injury. The highly-rated WR is still looking for some big games, and it doesn't sound like he'll be hampered by the injury. Starting QB Matthew Stafford is still questionable, but former stud Dante Culpepper did a nice job filling in last week.

    * The Talented Mr. Roto mentions another interesting WR pick-up for this week: Jeremy Maclin, the rookie out of Missouri, had a quiet 142 yards receiving and 2 TDs. (That's better than Austin Collie, but Maclin doesn't have "Austin" in his name anywhere, so it didn't work for this week's opening.)

    Fantasy Basketball
    I promised a deeper discussion this week, so here's a few names to look for in deeper rounds who may end up surprising everyone this year.

    Rajon Rondo, PG: He certainly doesn't qualify as a sleeper anymore, but will still be a fitth- or sixth-rounder in many leagues and may end the season more like a second-rounder. Boston is going to be pretty unbeatable this year, and Rondo has the tools to be another Jason Kidd, but perhaps a more prolific scorer.

    Kirk Hinrich, PG: Interesting play here for a guy who may not even get drafted in small leagues. I like him as a final-round bet. Hinrich could get some consistent points as a sixth-man and occasional starter.

    Greg Oden, C: Fell down the charts last year, but has been having a good pre-season. He'll have to win his playing time, but a good late-round option who could surprise and end up among the top-rated centers.

    Jordan Farmar, PG: The LA Laker is part of what might be a three-headed monster (along with Derek Fisher and Shannon Brown) that is assigned to feed Kobe the ball and occasionally take shots, but Farmar's my pick to jump out over the aging Fisher and the flashy, streaky Brown. If he plays well enough, his expiring contract suggests he could end up getting traded into a true starting role with another team, a move which also would elevate Brown's value.

    David Andersen, C/PF: This journeyman, a seven-footer, is probably not making too many lists, but with Yao Ming injured, he could end up starting at center and otherwise getting good playing time in Houston. Take him in the final round, which will either impress your friends or have them rolling on the floor laughing. But, center is probably the shallowest fantasy position and he could prove a solid secondary option.


    Dan O'Shea's Fantasy Fix appears in this space every Wednesday. Tips, comments, and suggestions are welcome. You can also read his about his split sports fan personality at SwingsBothWays, which isn't about what it sounds like It's about.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:25 AM | Permalink

    Reform: Claims vs. Facts

    Today, CHANGE Illinois! sent the following letter to all members of the General Assembly. Please call your state legislators today and ask them to tell their legislative leader that Illinois needs legislation that limits campaign contributions and that money from legislative leaders and political parties must be limited, too. The CHANGE Illinois! Hotline will connect you to their offices. Please dial 1-800-719-3020.

    October 13, 2009

    Dear legislator:

    CHANGE Illinois!, a coalition with members representing more than 2 million Illinois voters, has been a strong advocate of legislation to create a contribution limits system that is fair to all, has reasonable limit amounts, more frequent disclosure of contributions and has a strong enforcement mechanism, including random audits of campaign committees.

    Although we hope ongoing negotiations will lead to agreement on a system of comprehensive campaign contribution limits and strong enforcement, it is possible that House members will be asked Wednesday to vote on a proposal that has not been agreed to by CHANGE Illinois! and would fall short of the kind of reform that would merit renewed confidence in Illinois government.

    Unresolved at this writing is the question of whether campaign committees controlled by legislative leaders and political parties should be limited in what they can contribute to other political committees. We believe they should not be exempted, and we urge you to insist they be included in any limits legislation you consider.

    Illinois deserves a limits system that increases the likelihood of election competition and gives voters reason to believe government will serve the common good. Carving out such an exemption for parties and leaders would distort the limits system and bias it in favor of current officeholders and candidates favored by party and legislative leaders.

    In May, the General Assembly passed House Bill 7. As we said at the time, HB 7 was entirely unacceptable. It contained too many loopholes, including no limits on coordinated spending by political parties and legislative leaders on behalf of candidates.

    After HB 7 was criticized by nearly every newspaper in Illinois, the legislative leaders asked Gov. Quinn to veto HB 7. As part of the veto agreement, the Governor, the four legislative leaders and CHANGE Illinois! pledged to negotiate a better bill.

    Our negotiations have led to tentative agreements on most provisions, but discussions continue on the issue of limits for leaders and parties.

    If Illinois limits all contributions except those by legislative caucuses and political parties, those organizations will be more powerful because they will be able to send unparalleled contributions to selected committees or individuals.

    Instead, Illinois' campaign finance system should encourage candidate independence, diversity and allegiance to the voters by limiting transfers from all entities.

    An October 9 memo to you from David Ellis, Counsel to the Speaker, made several points that likely will emerge again in debate on any legislation that does not limit leaders and parties. The enclosed document provides the CHANGE Illinois! viewpoint on each of the key points in that memo. We would be happy to discuss any part of it with you.

    It is encouraging that our negotiations to date have resulted in considerable progress. The fact that the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate have agreed to adopt a system of contributions limits and significantly increase disclosure is recognition that our current campaign finance system is not working in the best interest of Illinois.

    The critical decision before you now can ensure that Illinois creates a campaign finance system that applies fair and reasonable contribution limits on all and that significantly strengthens reporting and compliance measures. We hope you will support our call for an approach that meets these criteria and truly qualifies as real reform.


    CHANGE Illinois! responds to legal memo sent to House members on Oct. 9, 2009, by Speaker's Counsel

    CLAIM: "Nearly all modifications requested by CHANGE Illinois" are contained in the legislation."

    FACT: First, we haven't seen any legislative language, so it is impossible to say whether or not it meets our tentative agreements. It is true that the Governor's office, legislative leaders, and CHANGE Illinois! representatives appear to have made considerable progress on a number of issues. All the parties to the discussions have made concessions. We still clearly have a difference of opinion concerning contribution limits to candidates from legislative caucuses and political parties. We believe extending limits to all committees is an important part of any effective, fair limits system.


    CLAIM: "The proposal outlined in the memo is 'nearly identical' to the proposal from CHANGE Illinois!"

    FACT: The bills that most closely track the original CHANGE Illinois! proposal are House Bill 24 and Senate Bill 1768. Introduced months ago, HB 24 is in House Rules Committee and SB 1768 is in the Senate Assignments Committee. However, as part of a good faith negotiating process we have made numerous concessions and substantial changes to our original proposal.


    CLAIM: "For primary elections, CHANGE Illinois! proposes that all political party committees combined (other than legislative caucus committees) can only contribute $25,000 to a candidate."

    FACT: Yes, that's part of one of our recent suggestions in negotiations. We also made clear that we are flexible and offered these for discussion. Since Gov. Quinn vetoed HB 7 more than six weeks ago, we have not seen any legislative language from the legislative leaders, despite the fact that the veto session has begun. In an effort to move negotiations forward, we presented draft legislative language for discussion on October 5.


    CLAIM: "The only major outstanding issue is whether political parties should be limited in their assistance to candidates running under their party banner."

    FACT: Because we have not seen any legislative language from the leaders, it is impossible to know which issues are outstanding and which are resolved. Party contribution limitation is a major outstanding issue, and it includes limits on committees controlled by legislative leaders, as well as political parties. The memo suggests that legislative leader PACs are political party organizations. They are not - legally or conceptually. State political parties are state-level organizations directly connected to local party structures at the precinct, township, wards and county levels. In contrast, legislative caucuses have narrow interests and are controlled by the individual legislative leaders. If contribution limits apply to candidate committees, they also should apply to legislative caucus committees, which committees representing chamber-based, partisan groups of legislators which number less than 70 people in each case.


    CLAIM: "To suggest that parties cannot spend unlimited amounts to elect a candidate under their banner is like saying a gubernatorial candidate cannot spend unlimited amounts from his own campaign fund to elect himself."

    FACT: That claim purposely confuses limits on spending with limits on contributions. We have not proposed to limit uncoordinated spending by any committee. That would be unconstitutional. Under our proposal, parties would be free to spend money purchasing broadcast commercials, direct mail, canvassers, etc. As long as that spending is not coordinated with the candidate, it would be permitted. The same is true of the federal contribution limits system and in every other state with contribution limits.


    CLAIM: "Because political parties will spend money without coordinating it with the candidate, candidates will 'have less input on the spending of money in their own elections.'"

    FACT: The same argument can be made about limits on all other entities, but the legislative leaders only use it to argue against limits on contributions they control. If limits on parties would encourage independent expenditures with negative consequences, then it follows that limits on companies, unions, and associations also would encourage independent expenditures with negative consequences. You cannot accept the trade-off that come with limits on contributions from private sources and not accept them for political parties. The best limits system places limits on everyone.


    CLAIM: "The CHANGE Illinois! proposal would make it much more difficult for the media, or ordinary citizens, to calculate how much money is being spent on a race."

    FACT: Anyone who makes independent expenditures (including political parties) would still have to disclose receipts and expenditures, so it is not correct to say that limits on parties would reduce disclosure if parties engaged in independent expenditures. In addition, this is the same logically inconsistent argument that limits will produce negative consequences if applied to political parties, but somehow will not produce the same negative consequences when applied to private contributors.


    CLAIM: "Political parties need the freedom to respond to smear campaigns from unregulated outside groups, who face no caps on either contributions or expenditures."

    FACT: Again, the CHANGE Illinois! proposal does not limit uncoordinated spending by a political party. A party and a legislative caucus committee would be able to spend in response to outside attacks. Party and caucus committees also could ask contributors to give directly to a candidate, and the candidate could decide how to use that money.


    CLAIM: "Under the CHANGE Illinois! proposal, while any number of different PACs could each contribute $50,000 during a primary, all of the political party committees would, in the aggregate, be limited to $25,000. Their proposal assumes that political parties, be they at the state, county, township or ward level, are essentially one entity, even thought they operate separately."

    FACT: We have been willing to negotiate this point. However, we do not believe our proposal tilts the playing field to benefit unions, business or any PACs. However, the arguments outlined in the memo would tilt the playing field in favor of political parties and legislative caucuses. If unions, corporations, and associations have limits and political parties and legislative caucuses do not, then political parties and legislative caucuses would have a strategic advantage they do not currently enjoy.Under the current law, everyone who wants to contribute or spend on behalf of a candidate is treated equally because he or she can do whatever they want. The position described in the memo would use "reform" to gain an advantage for parties and leaders over groups that are potential rivals in legislative elections.


    CLAIM: "Twenty-five states permit political parties to make unlimited contributions to their candidates in the general election, as we propose. Only two of those states impose some limit during the primary election. Our proposal would place Illinois squarely in the mainstream of campaign finance reform. In fact, of these 25 states, Illinois would be among the strictest in its regulation. Fifteen of these 25 states not only permit parties to make unlimited contributions but permit others to do so as well, such as individuals and PACs."

    FACT: It is important to compare apples to apples. There are 12 states that have either no limit on any contributors (such as Illinois) or limit only direct union and/or corporate contributions (such as Alabama). There are 38 states with comprehensive systems of contribution limits. Of the states that have adopted comprehensive systems of contribution limits, 65 percent (25 out of 38) have put limits on contributions from political parties as part of a balanced system.

    The proposal to allow unlimited contributions from political parties is outside the mainstream of campaign finance reform, weaker and less balanced than 25 other state laws and stronger than only 11 other states (excluding Illinois). The fact that some states put limits on political party contributions and limits on political party coordinated spending on behalf of a candidates and some do not only shows that this is a policy decision that different states deal with differently.


    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:15 AM | Permalink

    Father Time On Skates

    By George Ofman

    Chris Chelios is so old he walked into an antique store . . . and they kept him.

    Chris Chelios is so old he has hieroglyphics on his driver's license.

    Chris Chelios is so old he fixed up Adam and Eve.

    Okay, enough of the schtick. You get the picture.

    Chelios isn't really that old. But being a professional hockey player at age 47 is old. It's actually downright ancient. "I've always said that when I am done playing will be when I have nothing left," he once said. Apparently Chelios's mind and body are still on the same page. It's the same page the Gettysburg Address was written on.


    I thought we were done with the stand-up portion of this column.

    Chelios is indeed an anomaly. He began his career when most of the Chicago Wolves he skated with on Monday weren't even born. But there he was, trying to get into enough playing shape to extend his career . . . in the NHL. That's where Chelios wants to be even though one would suspect most of the 30 teams that comprise the league likely believe he's done.

    First though, Methuselah on skates has to prove he can cut it with the Wolves. "It'll take a week, week-and-a-half and I'll be ready to go," he said.

    Don't doubt him.

    You can call this a marketing scheme by the Wolves and you wouldn't be wrong. If this was, say, three years ago and Hawks President John McDonough was running the franchise then, he'd be selling Chelios as if he was the second coming of Bobby Hull.

    Is the Evergreen Park native delusional?

    Well, have you seen some of the NHL's defensemen?

    "Youth is wasted on the young."

    George Bernard Shaw scored a point with this line.

    Remember when Chelios was traded to the Blackhawks? It was almost 19 years ago. And they dealt future Hall of Famer Denis Savard to Montreal to get him. Time flies unless you're Chelios, who wants it to stand still.

    Chelios, like most of us, has an ego. If you were 47 and owned a body that doesn't quit, you might be applauding him. You might be anyhow.

    But this is more than just ego.

    Chelios loves the action. It's in every vein that runs through his ageless body.

    "I'm not just here to teach," he says. No, Chelios wants to play. He still believes he can contribute.

    But there does come a point when reality sets in.

    Take a seat, reality. Chelios isn't quite ready for you.

    And it wasn't ready for several other remarkable athletes who played well into their 40s and with pretty good success

    Morten Andersen was still converting more than 80 percent of his field goal attempts from age 40 until he retired at 47.

    Jamie Moyer won 16 games last season at age 45. He had 12 this season until an injury that likely will end his career.

    Jack Nicklaus won the Masters at 46.

    George Foreman won the WBA and IBF titles at 45.

    Nolan Ryan threw two of his no-hitters in his 40s.

    And then there was Gordie Howe, who scored 15 goals for the Hartford Whalers . . . at 51.

    "Some men see things as they are and say why. I dream things that never were and say why not."

    Thanks again, Mr. Shaw.

    Chelios said he never had a goal to play until he was 50. Heck, my goal was to live until I was 50!

    You might dismiss Chelios as a guy who just can't cope with the end of his career. Many athletes have played long after their careers were past them. But I don't begrudge Chelios at all. He's earned the right to give it one last try. Why not? How many of us have said 'I wish I would have done that?"

    Thing is, Chelios has done that, and he's done it so long you wonder when it will end.

    Stay tuned. It hasn't ended yet.


    George Ofman, an original member of The Score and a veteran of NPR, has covered more than 3,500 sporting events over the course of his career. Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:13 AM | Permalink

    Replacing The Olympic Village

    By The Beachwood Village People Affairs Desk

    Some ideas for what do to with the plot of land where the Olympic Village would have been built.

    * A new federal prison for pols to save on driving so many of them back and forth to Oxford, Yankton and Terre Haute.

    * A development owned in part by Michael Scott, Richard Stein, Tim Degnan, Jeremiah Joyce, Robert Vanecko and three mobsters to be named later.

    * The Museum of Unbuilt Olympic Villages.

    * Santa's Village. We're sure he could be lured here with an attractive package of tax subsidies.

    * The Boulevard of Richard M. Daley's Broken Dreams. Featuring exhibits of the Lake Calumet Airport, the downtown Circulator, the downtown international casino complex, and the CTA Superstation, as well as a model of an undiscovered Hired Truck program in action and a city not under federal court monitor.

    * The CTA Superstation.

    * Blagoville. No need for animatronics here. Three shows daily - at least.

    * Oprahville. Visitors would pay tiered fees according to how close they are allowed to stand to a stage where Oprah might actually appear one day. In the meantime, visit the gift stores.

    * The Even Larger Hadron Supercollider. Finally see for the first time the amazing device the mayor uses to go back in time to change history when his office is buffeted by scandal.

    * Block 37. Let's try its luck somewhere else.

    * A hospital comprised of architecturally significant structures.


    Your suggestions welcome.


    From Beachwood reader Mark:

    * Strogerville. A gathering place for all of his supporters (capacity: 500).

    * Official US District Attorney substation. Get them special trucks and a pole to slide down and everything.

    * The Spire II. When completed, will be the second-deepest empty hole in the city.

    * Maybe a nice little lakefront commuter airstrip.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:23 AM | Permalink

    October 13, 2009

    The [Tuesday] Papers

    Jim DeRogatis gives Bob Dylan's new Christmas album zero stars today, but his review sure makes it sound fantastic to me!

    For example:

    "When the star stumbles through 'I'll Be Home for Christmas,' he sounds like the family's disinherited black sheep embarrassment, delivering the sentiment as a threat rather than a promise."


    "In 'Winter Wonderland,' when the chrous coos, We'll have lots of fun with Mr. Snowman, he sounds psychotic as he answers, Until the other kids knock him down!"

    Love it! Best Christmas record ever!

    "And by the time he starts slaughtering the familiar Latin refrain of 'Adeste fideles - Venite adoremus Dominum becomes, no kidding, Benito adore-a-moose domino! - you don''t know whether to wince or guffaw."

    Or run out and by another ten copies for your friends!

    DeRo even rips "the faux-Currier and Ives cover art," which I happen to think fits right in with both a Knocked Out Loaded and old-timey Dylan "Theme Time Radio Hour" vibe.

    I mean, I'm sure the album sounds awful. Just sayin', though.


    Greg Kot gives it two stars.


    All proceeds from the record go to charity.

    Church And State
    The $31 million construction bill signed by Gov. Pat Quinn in July includes more than 100 grants to religious organizations, the Tribune reports.


    * $750,000 to St. Anthony W.W. Temple for "costs associated with capital improvements."

    * $700,000 to St. Malacy for "capital improvements."

    * $500,000 to the new Christ the King Jesuit College Prep high school on West Jackson Boulevard.

    * $250,000 to the Christian Love M.B. Church for "capital improvements."

    * $100,000 to Telshe Yeshiva for renovations.

    * $100,000 to New Life Covenant for "upgrading the facade and installation of energy efficient windows."

    Didn't we just go through this with Rod Blagojevich?

    "Money going directly to religious organizations for maintenance or construction of buildings used for religious purposes - that I think is constitutionally suspect," Sheldon Nahmod, a Chicago-Kent College of Law professor and constitutional law expert, told the Trib.

    I'll say.

    But noted constitutional law expert LaShawn Ford, a state representative from Chicago, doesn't see it that way.

    "These areas include a large gym-auditorium, computer labs, the cafeteria and the library," Ford said in a written response to the Tribune.

    1. A large gym-auditorium where religious programs may take place?
    2. Computer labs where kids can research the Bible on the Internet?
    3. A cafeteria where kids will say blessings over their meals?
    4. A library where books on evolution just might well be banned?

    There is no separating religious and non-religious areas of a school. It either is or isn't - as a whole.

    Now, some will argue - and the U.S. Supreme Court appears to agree - that state funding of secular activities performed by religious organizations is acceptable. I disagree. While the social services many religious organizations provide is important, that is also the work of government. Religious organizations are free to do what they want with their own money, but we seem to have not only blurred the lines between the private and public sectors, but between the public and religious sectors.

    Just look at the health care debate. Private insurers - and providers - may have a role to play, but health care is the government's responsibility. Meaning our collective responsibility for ourselves and our fellow citizens.

    It certainly isn't the responsibility of employers; shareholders, employees and customers would all be better off getting employers out of the business of providing health care.

    And while charity is great, social services are the province of government as well. In fact, it wouldn't upset me to see corporations give up all their charitable giving. Let business do their job, let government do its job, and let religious organizations do, um, their job.

    We'd all be a lot better off.


    And oh, Ford just happens to be a trustee on the board of the West Side Jesuit school that just happened to land half a million bucks.


    I've said it before and I'll say it again: Why does the Tribune - and any other news organization - find written responses acceptable? If a public official will not submit themselves to questions from a reporter, then screw 'em.

    "State Rep. LaShawn Ford refused to answer reporters' questions, instead insisting on providing only written answers, which is against the policy of this newspapers because you can't question a piece of paper."



    And if Ford's statement came in response to an e-mail, stop asking questions by e-mail. It's no different than presenting your questions to your subject in advance, and that, of course, is a no-no.

    Our Country
    "If you feel like you're getting nickel and dimed to death, you probably are," CBS News reports.

    "In an attempt to create 'sticker swoon,' - an irresistibly low price - an increasing number of businesses are advertising bargain prices for everything from cell phone service to hotel stays before tacking on hidden fees and charges to boost the final cost and make it tougher to shop around.

    "'The common denominator is the drive to disguise what the true cost is,' said Joseph Ridout, consumer services manager at Consumer Action, a San Francisco-based advocacy group."

    I've said it before and I'll say it again: Can't we live in a society where everybody isn't out to screw everybody else? What kind of people are we? It would certainly be less exhausting. Really. Is this how we teach our kids to behave?

    More Villainry
    * Sam Zell Is Doing The Samba. Why he rooted for Rio.

    * Hynes And Quinn Fight Lies With Lies. The truth isn't out there.

    * Saving The CTA. Isn't it about time?

    * Protecting Yuppie Scum. In I Am A Security Guard.

    For Your Pleasure
    * BCS HAL's worst nightmare. In The College Football Report.

    * What are BTO, Kansas, Sammy Hagar, Kiss and Kim Wilde trying to tell us? In Existential Rock.


    The Beachwood Tip Line: To East California.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:43 AM | Permalink

    The College Football Report

    By Mike Luce

    The recap will be slimmed down this week due to my father's visit. (We'll be covering only the Top 10 this week, but expect a full recap again next week.) Yes, the esteemed Dr. Ed has graced us with his presence once again. In honor of Dr. Ed, I would like to share his top football-related pet peeves.

    1. Anyone who kicks the ball.

    If the rules of football allow you to legally make contact with the ball with your feet, Dr. Ed despises you. I hope you know it's not personal. The man feels as though your role on the team is so minor, and your duties so uncomplicated, that anything short of perfect execution will not be tolerated. You can take some small comfort from the fact that he at least distinguishes between punters and placekickers.

    A) Punters

    I pity you. Dr. Ed has no love in his heart for you or your responsibilities. Each of your kicks had better be high and long with no return. Shanks, bobbles, and (God forbid!) whiffs will not be tolerated. Even if you suffer severe injury from a would-be blocker, Dr. Ed will probably accuse you of hamming it up for the refs.

    B) Placekickers

    Most people understand how tough it must be to kick a ball through a gap 18-feet wide. Surely, many fans grasp the stress of aiming at a ball held completely still by a teammate or a plastic tee.

    Maybe if you were standing still and hooked the ball into an upright it would be fair to criticize. But no, you have to shuffle up to this pointy leather object and kick it. Look, I get it. We all know doing two things at once is tough. Walking and chewing gum, for example - that can get tricky.

    Dr. Ed is not so lenient. His worldview does not accommodate Wide Right or Wide Left. Much less ricochets off an upright or the cross bar. And for the love of all that is holy, do not boot the ball out of bounds on a kickoff. The man only has so many years left.

    2. Backup quarterbacks.

    I can't even begin to describe the despair. Flattened pets, overcooked dinners and inopportune phone calls fail to inspire the teeth-gnashing brought on by the sight of the backup. To Dr. Ed, second-stringers rank somewhere below clogged toilets.

    3. Fat coaches and ugly cheerleaders.

    The less said about this, the better. In fact, let's just move on.


    This week, the Report bestows the first ever Brown Shoe award to Kentucky punter Ryan Tydlacka. Ryan, did you step in something on the way to the stadium? After punts of 30 and 22 yards earlier in the game, Tydlacka punted for five (count 'em!) yards from the South Carolina 44-yard line with 10 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. Way to pin 'em deep, RT.

    As always, the following is for entertainment purposes only.

    Game: #1 Florida 13 (-10) @ #4 LSU 3

    What was supposed to happen? The sports media treated this game as if it were a seminar on sports injuries. Would Tebow play? Is two weeks enough time to recover from a concussion? How do doctors know if it is safe to play after a concussion? Will Tebow receive medical clearance to play? How does one evaluate a concussion? Let's watch how Tebow suffered the concussion. What exactly is a concussion, anyway? Let's see that play again.

    What actually happened? Tebow played. Tebow started. As a result, the line jumped from about -7 to -10 between midweek and kickoff. "Tim Tebow: Able to Shift Lines a Full Three Points" doesn't have much of a ring to it, but it does happen to be true.

    Florida ran the "dive" play about 500 times in this game. The dive looks exactly like a shotgun option, but is really just an inside handoff to a back. I didn't realize so many different varieties of the same play existed. Neither did LSU, because Florida ran them out of the game with one play.

    The true LSU showed up for the game, which made the Gator defense (which is very good) look untouchable. The fact remains, LSU will only win big games if the offense makes the most of its opportunities - but inconsistent QB play continues to plague the Tigers. Our prediction: LSU will make an excellent runner-up in the SEC West and kill some unprepared squad in a New Year's Day bowl game.


    Game: Colorado 14 @ #2 Texas 38 (-34)

    What was supposed to happen? The 1-3 Buffaloes came into to Texas with a coach who, while not quite on the hot seat, is beginning to feel a bit toasty.

    What actually happened? Texas won the game handily but struggled to cover the big number. UT still commands double-digit point spreads but can't be considered a lock most weeks. Then again, the 'Horns may have been playing a bit close to the vest ahead of Saturday's rivalry game against Oklahoma.


    Game: #3 Alabama 22 (-5) @ #20 Mississippi 3

    What was supposed to happen? Doubters ("haters" for you Gen Y types) pointed to this game as a likely stumble for the Tide. Looking at the October schedule early in the season made this match-up seem like a blockbuster - but Ole Miss has not lived up to expectations.

    What actually happened? If anyone wonders why Alabama leapfrogged Texas in the AP Poll on Sunday, go back and review the box scores from Saturday. An SEC championship game between two unbeatens (Florida in the East and 'Bama in the West) looms on the horizon.

    The question the BCS organizers hope to avoid is . . . what if the Gators beat the Tide in the SEC championship and the BCS HAL 9000 awards the #2 spot to Virginia Tech? Will we be forced to accept a national title game between Florida and a team Bama thumped earlier this season? Far too early for such speculation, but expect the post-season playoff contingent to warm up the PR machine this week.


    Game: Boston College 14 @ #4 Virginia Tech 48 (-13.5)

    What was supposed to happen? Boston College intrigued me enough in this game that I talked myself out of picking the Hokies. The Eagles have shown some grit, and I was wondering if Va Tech might slip a bit this week.

    What actually happened? You can see why I ultimately steered clear of the underdog in this one. Yikes.


    Game: Wisconsin 13 @ #9 Ohio State 31 (-14.5)

    What was supposed to happen? If Wisconsin hopes to earn a spot among the big boys in the Big Ten, the Badgers must win games on the road against Ohio State, Michigan, and Penn State. After the glory years of Ron Dayne and the Rose Bowl trips, Wisconsin has feasted on schedules heavy with Directional Creampuffs only to suffer several losses during conference play.

    By contrast, while Ohio State plays its fair share of easy games, the Buckeyes usually schedule at least one doozy out of conference. And even if not, OSU's dominance over the Big Ten has arguably earned them a bit more lenience.

    What actually happened? Last week, I didn't want to touch this game. The line crept back a bit, leaving the Buckeyes favored just over two touchdowns. While the final score shows the Buckeyes would have covered even 16 points, the Buckeyes haven't instilled a ton of confidence this year.

    I should have known better.


    Game: #10 TCU 20 (-10) @ Air Force 17

    What was supposed to happen? TCU and Air Force have both scored more than a few points on defense this year. While TCU boats one of the top "Ds" in the country, the Falcons deserve recognition for a scrappy, opportunistic squad. The other side of the ball was a bigger question for both teams coming into the game, and especially for the Air Force Academy due to a shakeup at the QB spot.

    What actually happened? I'm tickled to say that this game featured a co-worker's younger brother at QB for Air Force - which is probably the closest I will ever come to knowing someone playing in a Top 25 football game. Good stuff. And Air Force covered! Bonus!


    CFR Notes
    * To IU: Next time, warn me. I'll just take the money out of my wallet and light it on fire. That will save us both a lot of time.

    * To Mizzou: What is this, hockey? Football games last for four full periods.

    * To Miami (FL): Can we pass notes in class? Call me.


    Mike "Chief" Luce brings you The College Football Report in this space twice a week. He welcomes your comments.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:37 AM | Permalink

    I Am A Security Guard: Origins Part 2

    The shift from my old office job to my first security gig proved smooth and pleasant. Training sessions had provided valuable tips about service to clients. The assignment to a condominium building west of the Loop represented proof of a fairy godmother. Most of the tenants were yuppies. I assumed they possessed social skills. I looked forward to handling the job.

    On the first day, I arrived in full uniform: a blue blazer, white shirt, black tie, gray slacks, and black shoes.

    The supervisor, a short man with a warm smile, showed me around the building. Afterward, he gave me the duties: watch the security monitor, check in visitors, log in deliveries, handle emergency phone calls and write reports. He also introduced me to the other guards and several tenants. Everyone greeted me politely.

    Finally, I plunged into the job. I sat by myself at the security desk most of the time. That suited my personality. I tend to be a loner.

    The security company's emphasis on keeping a professional demeanor paid off on a Saturday night.

    While watching the monitor, I saw two men climb a fence and walk into the building's courtyard. Alarmed and irritated, I walked outside and saw them standing with others. They were guests of a man hosting a party. I calmed down and asked them to enter through a door next time. Then I talked to the tenant. I explained the situation and he apologized.

    But dark clouds soon appeared.

    The firm had given me four days per week, a total of 32 hours. According to the company's handbook, that amount was three short of the standard for full-time status. That meant no benefits. Later the company neglected to pay me for a few days of work due to a missing time sheet.

    As time passed, it became clear that several of the guards were lazy, incompetent or both.

    The supervisor liked to call off, especially after a night of drinking. The guard who relieved me had a nasty habit of showing up late or not at all. The teammate I relieved often left early. Another guard liked to take excessively long breaks.

    One night, an especially dumb guard let a male visitor proceed to a woman's unit without calling her. The tenant had given the visitor a key while they had been dating. Yet, no employee knew she had recently dumped him. The woman freaked out after awakening and seeing him in the bedroom.

    The company did not punish the lackadaisical employees. That forced the rest of the crew to stay even more vigilant and work extended shifts. Morale deteriorated.

    Dealing with whiny tenants made matters even worse.

    One was the younger half of a lesbian couple. One afternoon, she yelled at me in front of another resident. She claimed I had not left a voice mail about flowers left at the desk for her. I had in fact left a message on her answering machine and taped a note to her mailbox.

    Taking abuse from a liar made me boil.

    A month after the controversy, she walked past the desk without making eye contact with me. A younger woman, who did not live in the building, closely followed her. Another guard told me the scoop. The tenant often cheated on her partner.

    Other condo owners exhibited bad behavior. One woman griped whenever she had to wait two minutes for a cab. One man threw loud parties packed with rude guests. Another complained about a car left in a no-parking zone in front of the building. A few days later, he put his car in the same spot.

    Between the bad guards and obnoxious residents, I began to dread coming to work.

    My misery ended after only six months at the job.

    The building's board started evaluating my company at the same time a guard committed a major gaffe. Thieves broke into the parking garage overnight and vandalized two cars. The guard who often showed up late did not call police because he had been sleeping on the job.

    The incident morphed into the straw that broke the camel's back. When the security contract expired, the board hired another company. That ended my assignment.

    My company found another site for me two weeks later. But given my negative experience with the firm, I chose temp work and later started my current security gig.

    Two months after my last day at the condominium, the back pay arrived in the mail. Too little, too late.


    Part 1.


    A very pseudononymous Jerome Haller earns rent money as a security guard for a large, publicly-held retail chain.


    See more tales of security guarding, pizzeria waitressing, barista-ing and office drudgering in the Life at Work collection.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:13 AM | Permalink

    Existential Rock

    A guide-in-progress. New additions: The great questions posed by BTO, Sammy Hagar, Kansas, Kiss and more!

    1. Is everything really gonna be alright?

    2. Is it really better to burn out than fade away?

    3. Is a dream a lie that don't come true, or is it something worse?

    4. How long has this been going on?

    5. Do you really get what you need if you try sometime? Because that hasn't been my experience.

    6. Why yes, actually she did go down on me in a theater.

    7. How many roads must a man walk down?

    8. If you were to really 'turn the beat around,' and in fact then 'turn it upside down,' wouldn't you be back where you started?

    9. How can you have a song with no melody, and why would you give it to your friends?

    10. When that dude went to O'Malley's to meet the chick he met in the personals and saw his wife, wouldn't his reaction be more like, "Holy shit, what are you doing here!" instead of a sweet "Oh, it's you"?

    11. If it never rains in California, how can it pour?

    12. When the guy asks, 'Do you wanna make love, or do you just wanna fool around?' he's gonna be pissed if she answers the wrong way, right?

    13. What if I want to get it on, but I'd prefer not to bang a gong?

    14. Is this the beginning, or is it the end?

    15. Is it okay to enjoy "Sweet Home Alabama" while being mortified at the content of the song?

    16. How does your light shine on the road to Shambala?

    17. If there's gonna be a jailbreak tonight, somewhere in this town, aren't chances pretty good that it'll probably be at the jail? Rather than, say, somewhere else in this town?

    18. Are Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Elvis and Kurt Cobain really playing in a band together in heaven? And they get along?

    19. Do hips really not lie? Because that hasn't been my experience.

    20. Now, what is it again that he'll do everything but for love?

    21. Why do we keep getting fooled again no matter how many times we sing that we won't? Could it be that this song makes no sense?

    22. Does "have you never been mellow" mean ever or never?

    23. If everyday you write the book, does that mean it won't be finished until you're dead?

    24. I know I'm vain, but the song is about me, right?

    25. Are we in love, or just friends?

    26. If you never stop once you're started up, why do you need to be started up?

    27. Why would the elevator break us down? Wouldn't it be the elevator that would break down?

    28. How can something be more than a feeling? Does that mean it's a fact?

    29. Whatever gets you through the night?

    30. When the wind cries Mary, does Mary reply "Let it be"?

    31. Is Rocky Mountain Way really better than the way we had?

    32. Is any love good love? Should you really just take what you can get?

    33. Don't Catholic girls start sooner? Isn't that the point of Catholic girls?

    34. Is it really true that sometimes love don't feel like it should?

    35. Can we really work it out? Because my experience says no.

    36. Is there really no mountain high enough? 'Cause I think there is.

    37. Could wild horses really not drag him away? Because I think they can.

    38. No, seriously, why can't we be friends?

    39. Is a house in Hackensack all you get for your money?

    40. So, who will stop the rain?

    41. If authority always wins, why are you so damn cheerful singing about fighting it?

    42. Shouldn't we celebrate instead of mourn the night they drove old Dixie down? Dixie sucks.

    43. Should we go ahead and jump - or stand in the place where we live?

    44. How exactly does a rolling stone feel?

    45. Don't we all know what goes on behind closed doors?

    46. When John Lennon sings "power to the people," which people does he mean exactly? Because, to me, "the people" are those folks you see at Taste of Chicago. Those are "the people." And they have enough power.

    47. Is it okay to love Rush despite their devotion to Ayn Rand?

    49. Are we really just dust in the wind? Or are we stardust in the wind?

    50. When you say "life is a highway," you mean it's the Kennedy at rush hour, right?

    51. Actually I think a lot of people really know what time it is, don't they? Astronomers, maybe?

    52. Is it true that even the losers get lucky sometimes?

    53. Is Heaven really not too far away?

    54. Is it really true that what the world needs now is love, sweet love? And that it's the only thing that there's just too little of? Maybe one of the things, but the only thing?

    55. We've debunked the idea that all you need is love, right?

    56. Yes, she really is going out with him. Just sayin'.

    57. It's okay to really love "My Sweet Lord" even if you're not a believer, right? Just don't sing the bad parts. Same with all those great Dylan gospel songs.

    58. "These five words I swear to you, I'll be there for you." Well, I guess if a contraction is one word.

    59. "Brown Sugar" is incredibly creepy and offensive, right?

    60. Do fat-bottomed girls really make the rockin' world go 'round? 'Cause I'm not so sure about that. Maybe they make the roadie world go 'round, at best.

    61. Actually, cocaine does lie.

    62. Doesn't heaven have a doorbell?

    63. If it feels like the first time, does that mean it feels awkward and, um, quick? Wouldn't it be better to feel like at least the fourth time, if not the fiftieth or five-hundredth or five-thousandth? 'Cause those times feel a lot better.

    64. Look, when you have a woman you cry and when you have no woman, you cry.

    65. Even if the water isn't troubled you need a bridge to get over it.

    66. Doves cry? And this is what it sounds like?

    67. Why ask a tambourine man to play a song for you? There's not a lot you can do with that thing.

    68. Don't the oaks have at least some sympathy for the maples?

    69. So, mama, I just killed a man for no apparent reason, put a gun against his head, pulled the trigger now he's dead, but a lot of people want the judge to let me go.

    70. I've found that you can leave just fine even if you haven't checked out.

    71. Actually you should always count your money when you're sitting at the table, otherwise you won't really know where you're at.

    72. If he can't get no satisfaction, maybe he's not trying hard enough.

    73. It kind of is hard to imagine no countries or possessions. Anarchy? One-world government? And can I still have my records?

    74. Wasn't it more compassionate that Lucille left with a crop in the field than leaving without one?

    75. If Eddie Rabbitt loves a rainy night, why doesn't he live in Seattle?

    76. Should we really not fear the Reaper? I mean, really, he's a scary dude.

    77. So if you stay, the trouble will be double? Doesn't seem like a tough call.

    78. Don't let the sound of your own wheels make you crazy.

    79. Is whatever gets you through the night kind of like love the one you're with?

    80. Should we be partying now like it's 2099?

    81. If you shoot a man in Reno just to watch him die, doesn't that make you some sort of sick fuck, instead of a musical hero?

    82. Okay, yes, I shot the deputy too. Can we move on?

    83. Does the road really go on forever?

    84. Will Rhiannon ever win?

    85. If it makes you happy, why are you so damn sad?

    86. Beth, what can I do?

    87. Wouldn't you rather pour sugar on her?

    88. What is Bono looking for?

    89. So you're so lonesome you could cry, but not so lonesome to actually be crying?

    90. Yes, I will love you tomorrow. But then, that could be the beer and my erection talking.

    91. If you can't live with or without someone, why aren't you dead?

    92. Was it really you and me who killed the Kennedys?

    93. Where did our love go?

    94. R. Kelly may believe he can fly, but he can't, you know.

    95. Yes, I do want to touch you there. And you know where.

    96. Didn't you just put a name on Ruby Tuesday?

    97. If you're such a loser, why don't you just kill yourself?

    98. Look, you can't believe everything you hear through the grapevine.

    99. So how long is it to the point of know return?

    100. There's actually several ways to rock, right?

    101. If you want to rock and roll all night and party every day, aren't you just saying you want to do either/or for 24 hours?

    102. When are we finally going to see something if we ain't seen nothing yet? Or is nothing what we ain't seen, meaning we've been seeing something?

    103. Why does the new wave that's coming stop in East California instead of going all the way to the coast?


    Send us your comments and contributions. Together, we can unlock the rock and roll code.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:58 AM | Permalink

    October 12, 2009

    The [Monday] Papers

    By Steve Rhodes

    Ugh. I'm feeling really groggy and there's also a ton of stuff I didn't get to over the weekend that I really need to get to. I suppose a central irony to this whole venture is that the news keeps distracting me from constructing this as a business. It's hard to stay on top of everything. Stupid Olympics. Stupid Obama. Stupid Daley. You're bankrupting me!

    Anyway, we do have a few things to offer today, and we'll be back with a full Beachwood tomorrow.

    * "You win because of the quarterback," George Ofman writes. "Bears General Manager Jerry Angelo uttered those prophetic words at the beginning of the year. And now the Denver Broncos are saying the same thing."

    * Joel Quenneville should watch his back.

    * "My class, about 20 people, sat at tables while a veteran guard went through the basics," Jerome Haller writes as he recounts how he became a security guard. "The instructor was a gung-ho type who had once worked as a state trooper. He ridiculed reporters and public defenders, calling them naive types who wanted to link arms and sing 'Kumbaya.' He bragged about screwing the latter by ripping pages from his notebooks before submitting them for evidence."


    * Hailing Columbus. Imagining how our esteemed pols are spending the day.

    * Daley's New Nemesis. Stop me from cheating again!

    * Cook County Race-Baiting. Davis, Stroger play the white man's game.


    The Beachwood Tip Line: Groggified.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:46 AM | Permalink

    I Am A Security Guard: Origins Part 1

    For ten years after graduating from college, I earned a decent salary as an office staff person for a downtown company. My duties included answering phones, maintaining office equipment, filing documents, and photocopying paperwork. But the company's fortunes declined. For first time in my life, I got laid off.

    The dismissal initially pleased me. Severance and unemployment benefits helped cushion the blow. I would not miss some of the more immature folks at the old job. I could enjoy some free time while looking for a new position.

    But after four months, my feelings changed. A new routine wrecked havoc on my ego; working on my resume, going to the unemployment office, visiting job fairs, and going on interviews. To feel useful again, I took a temp office job. But it lasted only a few weeks. The client couldn't pay anymore. My confidence had evaporated.

    So when a counselor phoned to say she'd found an opening for a security guard, my spirits rose. That call would lead to my first security gig: manning the desk at a condominium building west of the Loop.

    Of course, my father made fun of security guards back in the day. But a job was a job. I figured the gig would provide some form of accomplishment until something better came along.

    The counselor told me to call one of her co-workers, who gave me the number of a recruiter for a leading security firm.

    After talking with the recruiter, I completed an application on the company's website. Two weeks later, I stopped by the firm's office and took a computer-based test. Following a drug test and fingerprint check, the recruiter told me to report for a two-day training session at the company's office.

    My class, about 20 people, sat at tables while a veteran guard went through the basics. The instructor was a gung-ho type who had once worked as a state trooper. He ridiculed reporters and public defenders, calling them naive types who wanted to link arms and sing "Kumbaya." He bragged about screwing the latter by ripping pages from his notebooks before submitting them for evidence.

    The instructor offered practical tips intended to help guards generate goodwill and perform their jobs. Employees had to maintain a professional appearance and demeanor, arrive on time, carry a pen and notebook and avoid using physical force. He emphasized that the guards could not pack any weapons. To describe people in oral or written reports, work from head to toe. When talking about a room, work from left to right and ceiling to floor.

    He advised us about a subtle trick to protect tenants. When calling residents to announce the arrival of guests, the guard should make a statement. For example, say: "Ms. Harris, you have a visitor in the lobby." If the guard poses a question and makes a face after the answer, he or she could unwittingly telegraph information to someone with a negative agenda.

    Guards could not carry weapons, but the instructor prioritized employee safety. He told us how to escort visitors. The guard should walk behind the other person at an angle and at least three feet apart. That way, the visitor could not surprise the guard with a quick move.

    The instructor concluded the session with the adage: Come home from your shift in one piece. Fine with me. Heroism does not run in my family.

    I enjoyed the sessions because they provided a taste of the real world. No one talked about handling dangerous visitors at my old office.

    All of the recruits passed the test. Afterward, we received the 20-hour certificate and filled applications for the state's Permanent Employee Registration Card. The state requires both.

    A week later, the recruiter told me to report to the condominium building. Until later events soured my attitude, I was happy to start working again.


    Tomorrow: Whiny tenants and incompetent co-workers.


    A very pseudononymous Jerome Haller earns rent money as a security guard for a large, publicly-held retail chain.


    See more tales of security guarding, pizzeria waitressing, barista-ing and office drudgering in the Life at Work collection.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:05 AM | Permalink


    By Jim Coffman

    Perhaps Joel Quenneville breathed at least a small sigh of relief late Saturday. When Andrew Ladd finally ended a seemingly endless shootout in the ninth round and gave the Blackhawks a home-opener victory over the Avalanche, Ladd ensured his team would not fall to 1-2-1 on the season. That, you may recall, was the Blackhawks' record when they up and fired coach Denis Savard last year and turned to Quenneville to try and end a playoff drought that had reached "only one post-season series in a decade" proportions.

  • Orton's Oracles

  • Of course, Quenneville probably would have survived even if the Hawks had suffered a setback on Saturday. Advancing to the conference finals will do that for a coach in the NHL. But it won't do it for long. Hockey teams have notoriously short fuses with their coaches. And while a fan can make a strong case for coaching consistency giving an organization its best chance to excel over the long haul, it is harder to do so in hockey than in any other prominent team sport in the U.S.

    Ever since the end of the dynasty era, a long stretch when it was never enough for the best hockey teams to win one or even a couple championships, there has been all sorts of coaching turnover on even the best NHL teams. Scotty Bowman led the Canadiens to the Cup every year from 1976-79, Al Arbor did the same for the Islanders the next four years and then the Oilers won four in five years ending in 1988. Since then teams that have won more than one championship (and no one has won more than two in a row) have almost always done so despite (or should we say in part because of) coaching change. The Penguins, led by Mario Lemieux, won two in a row starting in 1991. The first team was coached by Bob Johnson and the second by that Bowman character again. Johnson was actually stricken by brain cancer and tragically forced to step down after his championship season, but still, it started a trend.

    For years, Lou Lamoriello, the general manager of the New Jersey Devils, has changed coaches at the drop of a hat. And yet his teams won three titles (with three different head coaches) from 1995 to 2003. The Red Wings won a couple with Bowman, but then they triumphed last year with Mike Babcock at the helm. And finally the Penguins, who made the 2008 Stanley Cub finals with Michel Therrien at the helm, fired him in the middle of last season and then won it all under the guidance of Dan Bylsma.

    So maybe Quenneville should have been worrying about a 1-2-1 start after all.

    As for the early returns on this year's Hawks, well, it is obviously still way too early to draw any conclusions despite what pre-season prognosticators have said (including Sports Illustrated opining that the Hawks would make the Stanley Cup finals and other league sources alleging the squad has the best talent in the league). I am far from convinced. The defensive corps still seems dangerously thin (Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook are great but after that . . . question marks). And the goalie, hmmm. Is anyone really confident that Cristobal Huet is the guy to lead this team to the next level, i.e. the Stanley Cup finals? Highly questionable.

    And oh by the way, the Hawks better win it this season or at the latest next. They have numerous young, talented forwards who will be due for big paydays in the next few years and they will have a tough time signing even most of them (and staying under the salary cap) after giving free agent Marian Hossa a $50-plus million, six-plus year deal. Hossa is a fine player but the Hawks haven't taken nearly enough heat about the fact that they signed him despite his having a torn rotator cuff. I mean, he's not a pitcher so I realize this isn't quite as serious as it could be (particularly in a different sport) but still, it's a torn rotator cuff! Who knows if he'll be the player he once was when he supposedly recovers from this injury later this season.

    And at the helm is 36-year-old Stan Bowman, possessor of no over-arching general managing experience at any level. Yes, I know he's Scotty Bowman's kid and he's been an assistant general manager for a while, but he is brutally under-qualified to run an Original Six franchise, plain and simple. It is hard not to conclude the Hawks will rue the day they declined to do any sort of search for better candidates when they dumped Dale Tallon in the off-season and instead rushed Bowman into the breach.

    An NFL Note
    I've been rooting against the Broncos so far this NFL season mostly because the narrative of the unbelievably clever Bears making history by absolutely stealing a franchise quarterback is that much more satisfying if the other team involved suffers for its sins.

    That isn't working out so well, especially after Denver knocked off the Pats on Sunday to run its record to 5-0. It turns out rookie Bronco coach/personnel man Josh McDaniel (Denver has a general manager, but it seems as though the arrogant - and perhaps with good reason - McDaniel has final say on which players stay and which go) may know what he's doing even if he did make what we still believe will go down in history as one of the worst trades ever in the NFL.

    And I am disappointed with myself for cutting Kyle Orton loose so quickly. What did the guy ever do to us Bears fans anyway other than give maximum effort at all times and win a bunch of contests at quarterback?

    I'll always remember the game against Green Bay at viciously cold Soldier Field late in the 2007-08 season when Orton subbed for an injured Rex Grossman and led the Bears to a big win over the Brett Favre-led Packers. Favre was completely knocked off his game by the brutally windy and cold conditions but Orton threw tight spiral after tight spiral to spark the victorious effort and give fans a thrill at the end of a disappointing season. So I'm a little happy today for the Bears' most recent former quarterback even though I'm still not happy that Denver keeps winning.


    Jim Coffman rounds up the sports weekend in this space every Monday, except when he does it on Tuesday. He welcomes your comments.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:51 AM | Permalink

    Orton's Oracles

    By George Ofman

    "You win because of the quarterback."

    Bears General Manager Jerry Angelo uttered those prophetic words at the beginning of the year.

    And now the Denver Broncos are saying the same thing.

    Captain Neck Beard is 1,000 miles away and he's still winning games. Not bad for guy tagged as a game manager.

    Orton also manages to win games.

    He's 5-0 as a Bronco and 26-12 as an NFL starter.

    While there should be no argument who is the more talented QB, Orton is calmly proving he might be more than the guy whom the Bears were dumbing down the offense for.

    "I guess some people would rather win and have the quarterback throw three interceptions and somehow do it flashy" Orton told the Tribune. "I like to try not to put my defense in bad situations. I try to play complementary football."

    Nice dig at Jay Cutler but few quarterbacks who fancy themselves complementary pieces win Super Bowls - or even get to the big game.

    End tables are complements. Elegant sofas and eye-catching art make the room.

    But an undefeated start gets you notice, especially when the team you play for was destined to win no more than three games by some prognosticators. So does going 35 of 48 for 330 yards and two touchdowns against the New England Patriots.

    These aren't complementary numbers.

    Don't get the wrong idea. Angelo was dead-on when he declared "we must get the quarterback position right." No one around these parts disagrees he did exactly that when he sent Orton and two first-round draft picks to the Broncos for Cutler. But in Denver they must also be saying "we got the quarterback position right."

    I guess one man's end tables are another man's elegant sofa.

    It's working there and it's working here.

    The real question isn't who the better quarterback is.

    The real question is who gives his team a better chance to win.

    Orton did when compared to Rex Grossman. Now Cutler does when compared to Orton. But in Denver, it's the other way around. Cutler no longer has what Orton does: proven wide receivers. He had the luxury of having Eddie Royal and Brandon Marshall last year. They combined for more than 2,200 yards in receptions. Now Cutler is trying to cultivate the likes of Devin Hester, Johnny Knox and Earl Bennett into more than just a questionable lot of receivers.

    He is. Cutler didn't get a Pro Bowl nod just because he has cannon for an arm. Throwing for more than 4,500 yards garners you tributes.

    And a ticket to Chicago.

    There is no doubt the Bears will be better off having Cutler at the helm, but let's not underestimate Orton. He did throw for nearly 3,000 yards last season and, remember, was hobbled by an ankle injury against the Lions. Prior to that game he had averaged 273 yards in his previous five games. When he returned not nearly 100 percent, Orton's numbers were a meager 169 yards in the final seven games. But the Bears didn't make the playoffs because he was ineffective; they lost because of their defense.

    In no way is this to suggest an upgrade wasn't needed and Angelo did it right by getting a guy perceived by many to wear the gaudy title of "franchise quarterback."

    This could wind up being a win-win situation. Denver is thrilled with Orton, probably as thrilled as when it dumped Cutler.

    The Bears are overjoyed to have Cutler, the man they truly believe will get them back to the Super Bowl one day soon.

    I'm certainly not predicting a Bears-Broncos fling in Miami next February, but the NFL is full of surprises, none more so than the one being fashioned by Captain Neck Beard In Denver.


    George Ofman, an original member of The Score and a veteran of NPR, has covered more than 3,500 sporting events over the course of his career. Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:30 AM | Permalink

    October 10, 2009

    The Weekend Desk Report

    By The Beachwood Nobel Nomination Affairs Desk

    The Weekend Desk Report will not appear this weekend, what with our very own Weekend Desk Editor Natasha Julius celebrating the success of her greatest prank yet. And to think the rest of us here at Beachwood HQ thought the Nobel Peace Prize committee would never fall for her Barack Obama nomination. After all, it was written in crayon. Oh well.

    The Beachwood will return on Monday.

    The [Friday] Papers
    I'm stunned by the Nobel Prize news too.


    But seriously, I'm fairly certain that Barack Obama himself thinks this is a crock. He may be a phony, but he's not a dummy.


    I'm reminded of Obama's statement to frenzied reporters upon his seating in the United States Senate: "I'll let you know when I actually do something."


    Why do stories about Obama's position on gay rights always omit his own statements about opposing gay marriage because of his religious beliefs?


    This just in: Lou Piniella named 2010 NL Manager of the Year by Nobel committee. Voters cite Piniella's hopes, dreams and promises for next year's Cubs as being sufficient.


    The Sun-Times says on its front page today that with new owner Jim Tyree aboard, "We will continue to fight for Chicago."

    As opposed to against it?

    And against who? Milwaukee?


    This just in: I just won the Nobel Prize for Medicine because I really, really, really promise to cure cancer before the end of my term.


    Maybe Tyree will invest in extension classes for his reporters and editors because, well, they need them. For example, we turn once again to our Journalism 101 textbook to instruct the Sun-Times on how to cope with simple statistics. In this case, the paper has listed how many sworn police officers the city has had in six other years as well as this one (13,500 this year; 13,366 ten years ago, etc.)

    Of course, this infographic is complete without meaning. Why? Because it fails to break those numbers down to a per capita rate.

    If the city has grown significantly in 10 years but has the same number of police officers, that's a bad mark against the city.

    But if the city has lost population in 10 years but has the same number of police officers, well, then good for us!

    It's not hard, folks. Get it together.


    Also, according to the Sun-Times, the city will use federal stimulus funds to pay overtime to 44 police officers whose shifts will be extended to cover the end of the school day.

    That's a fine idea, but is that really proper use of stimulus funds? Were those delivered in block grants or something? Because that doesn't sound, um, appropriate, to me.



    "With $60 million in federal stimulus grant money, Mr. Huberman's plan uses a formula gleaned from an analysis of more than 500 students who were shot over the last several years to predict the characteristics of potential future victims, including when and where they might be attacked. While other big city school districts, including New York, have tried to focus security efforts on preventing violence, this plan would go further by identifying the most vulnerable students and saturating them with adult attention, including giving each of them a paid job and a local advocate who would be on call for support 24 hours a day."

    I thought stimulus money was supposed to be used to, you know, stimulate the economy, mostly by creating jobs. Whatever happened to that big public works program we were promised?


    Turns out, as I and others have been saying, that the stimulus plan is really a re-election plan.

    If a Republican president pulled this, liberals would be livid.

    People's lives are at stake.


    Let's take up a collection and buy Dorothy Brown a new copy of Ethics for Dummies.


    Emil Jones is back - and still up to no good.


    "Chicago police have stressed Derrion's death was not gang-related," the Sun-Times reports. "He was killed in a brawl between students from Altgeld and a neighborhood closer to Fenger."

    A neighborhood apparently without a name.


    Now, I'm aware of the discussion about neighborhood rivalries, and how I've been writing about gang territory and, essentially, conflating the two. I've been reading accounts both ways regarding Derrion Albert. But when we talk about youth violence in the city, we're talking about gangs. That's the structural issue.

    I hope to write something further about this next week.

    For now, though, I give you: The Mayor's Got Boundary Issues.


    Doing Mad Men. Watch them all. Trust me.


    What the Bears did on their bye week. In The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report. This is funny. Trust me.


    Our man on the rail is always a joy to read.


    20 Tweets: Bill Rancic.


    Here's what CHANGE Illinois! wants you to know.


    (I didn't, but if you did you should be aware of this resource.)


    The Beachwood Tip Line: Just like love.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:30 AM | Permalink

    October 9, 2009

    The [Friday] Papers

    By Steve Rhodes

    I'm stunned by the Nobel Prize news too.


    But seriously, I'm fairly certain that Barack Obama himself thinks this is a crock. He may be a phony, but he's not a dummy.


    I'm reminded of Obama's statement to frenzied reporters upon his seating in the United States Senate: "I'll let you know when I actually do something."


    Why do stories about Obama's position on gay rights always omit his own statements about opposing gay marriage because of his religious beliefs?


    This just in: Lou Piniella named 2010 NL Manager of the Year by Nobel committee. Voters cite Piniella's hopes, dreams and promises for next year's Cubs as being sufficient.


    The Sun-Times says on its front page today that with new owner Jim Tyree aboard, "We will continue to fight for Chicago."

    As opposed to against it?

    And against who? Milwaukee?


    This just in: I just won the Nobel Prize for Medicine because I really, really, really promise to cure cancer before the end of my term.


    Maybe Tyree will invest in extension classes for his reporters and editors because, well, they need them. For example, we turn once again to our Journalism 101 textbook to instruct the Sun-Times on how to cope with simple statistics. In this case, the paper has listed how many sworn police officers the city has had in six other years as well as this one (13,500 this year; 13,366 ten years ago, etc.)

    Of course, this infographic is complete without meaning. Why? Because it fails to break those numbers down to a per capita rate.

    If the city has grown significantly in 10 years but has the same number of police officers, that's a bad mark against the city.

    But if the city has lost population in 10 years but has the same number of police officers, well, then good for us!

    It's not hard, folks. Get it together.


    Also, according to the Sun-Times, the city will use federal stimulus funds to pay overtime to 44 police officers whose shifts will be extended to cover the end of the school day.

    That's a fine idea, but is that really proper use of stimulus funds? Were those delivered in block grants or something? Because that doesn't sound, um, appropriate, to me.



    "With $60 million in federal stimulus grant money, Mr. Huberman's plan uses a formula gleaned from an analysis of more than 500 students who were shot over the last several years to predict the characteristics of potential future victims, including when and where they might be attacked. While other big city school districts, including New York, have tried to focus security efforts on preventing violence, this plan would go further by identifying the most vulnerable students and saturating them with adult attention, including giving each of them a paid job and a local advocate who would be on call for support 24 hours a day."

    I thought stimulus money was supposed to be used to, you know, stimulate the economy, mostly by creating jobs. Whatever happened to that big public works program we were promised?


    Turns out, as I and others have been saying, that the stimulus plan is really a re-election plan.

    If a Republican president pulled this, liberals would be livid.

    People's lives are at stake.


    Let's take up a collection and buy Dorothy Brown a new copy of Ethics for Dummies.


    Emil Jones is back - and still up to no good.


    "Chicago police have stressed Derrion's death was not gang-related," the Sun-Times reports. "He was killed in a brawl between students from Altgeld and a neighborhood closer to Fenger."

    A neighborhood apparently without a name.


    Now, I'm aware of the discussion about neighborhood rivalries, and how I've been writing about gang territory and, essentially, conflating the two. I've been reading accounts both ways regarding Derrion Albert. But when we talk about youth violence in the city, we're talking about gangs. That's the structural issue.

    I hope to write something further about this next week.

    For now, though, I give you: The Mayor's Got Boundary Issues.


    Doing Mad Men. Watch them all. Trust me.


    What the Bears did on their bye week. In The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report. This is funny. Trust me.


    Our man on the rail is always a joy to read.


    20 Tweets: Bill Rancic.


    Here's what CHANGE Illinois! wants you to know.


    (I didn't, but if you did you should be aware of this resource.)


    The Beachwood Tip Line: Just like love.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:09 AM | Permalink

    Doing Mad Men

    By The Ken Cosgrove, Accounts, Affairs Desk

    1. I really enjoy the aesthetics of this era!


    2. Good job, sycophants!


    3. You reek of that cheap manwhore cologne!


    4. Simpsons opening. (Embedding disabled)


    5. Let's get me out of this skirt!


    6. I don't like what you're saying!


    7. Apparently the Gentiles eat it!


    8. On AMCow!


    See also:
    * Doing David Letterman

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:23 AM | Permalink

    Breaking The Four Tops' Power

    By The Beachwood Reform Affairs Desk

    "In August, reform groups stood up for top Illinois politicians as they threw out the state's first sweeping limits on campaign donations," the Daily Herald reports. "They all promised to work together to draft an even stronger law.

    "Now that lawmakers are set to take up the issue again next week, however, it seems those hopes of agreement are in danger of falling apart.

    "The reform groups, united under the banner of Change Illinois!, announced Thursday at a news conference in Chicago that while many advances have been made in the proposed legislation - including caps on contributions, demands for more frequent reporting, fines for violations and random audits - there remains one 'sticking point': They haven't been able to reach an agreement with legislative leaders over campaign finance limits on political parties and their caucus committees.

    Here's what CHANGE Illinois! wants you to know.

    By CHANGE Illinois!

    Placing limits on transfers to legislative candidates from state party committees and political committees controlled by the four legislative leaders would encourage more competitive legislative races and attract public-spirited candidates to political office. This system would also relax the grip legislative leaders hold on individual members of their caucuses and encourage rank-and-file lawmakers to vote in the interest of their constituents rather than contributors to the caucus PACs.

    Here are four key issues to remember:

    1. Unlimited campaign transfers between legislative leaders and legislative candidates concentrates the power held by the legislative leaders.

    * Over the last four decades, power in the Illinois General Assembly has become concentrated in the hands of the four legislative leaders. The leaders' ability to dole out limitless sums of campaign cash to members of their caucuses, or withhold such dollars, enhances their ability to control lawmakers and control the policy agendas within their chambers.

    * Dependence on campaign cash from legislative leaders breeds conformity among rank-and-file state lawmakers and discourages independence, creativity and innovation. Moreover, dependence on dollars from leaders, PACs and outside interests interferes with the principles of local representation and constituent relations.

    2. The power of the leaders causes special interests, corporations, labor unions and wealthy individuals to channel their political contributions to legislative leaders.

    * Interest groups, corporations and unions may not care about the local issues and political concerns of individual legislators, but they do care about access to the four powerful legislative leaders and they respond to the leaders' requests for campaign funds. As a result, these donors tend to funnel their campaign contributions through the legislative leaders, who distribute the funds as they see fit.

    * The four legislative leaders controlled at least $25 million dollars in each of the last three election cycles.

    * Special interests have given generously to the legislative leaders in recent years. During the 2007-08 cycle, the top-20 donors to Speaker Michael Madigan's campaign committee (Democratic Party of Illinois) donated $1.3 million. The donors included Altria, AT&T, the Illinois Hospital Association and unions representing teachers, operating engineers, firefighters and electrical workers. Minority Leader Tom Cross collected $916,000 from his top-20 donors, including the Illinois State Medical Society, Exelon, Ameren and Arlington Racecourse.

    * On the Senate side, the top-20 contributors to former Senate President Emil Jones' committee donated $627,000. The donors included Altria, the Illinois Hospital Association, the Association of Beer Distributors and AT&T. Senator Frank Watson's committee received $721,000 from its top-20 donors. Contributors included the Illinois State Medical Society, the Illinois Education Association, Altria, Fairmont Park and Caterpillar.

    3. Limits on campaign contributions to candidates, state party committees and legislative caucus committees would be meaningless without companion limits on transfers from legislative leaders to legislative candidates.

    * Limits on individual campaign contributions would do much to encourage competitive political races and remove pay-to-play schemes from Illinois' campaign finance system. But such opportunities would be lost if donors could funnel larger contributions through the legislative leaders.

    * Even with limits on legislative leadership and party contributions, the leaders would be able to continue to play active roles in the campaigns affecting the members of their caucuses, but they would not undermine the local textures and constituent concerns within those legislative races.

    4. Legislative leaders and political actions committees dominate the campaign finance scene in the very few legislative districts that are competitive. Large infusions of outside cash diminish opportunities for locally focused races and vigorous constituent representation.

    * Most legislative elections involve well known, well funded incumbents facing no opponent or an opponent with neither the name recognition nor resources to mount a serious campaign. The few competitive legislative races are heavily funded by the legislative leaders, with combined spending usually exceeding $1 million.

    * There are huge spending gaps in these non-targeted and targeted legislative races. In 2006 the average spending in the 107 non-targeted House races was $195,000, compared to $1.12 million in the nine targeted House races. The average spending in the 27 non-targeted Senate races was $327,000 in 2006. Average spending in the 10 targeted Senate races was nearly $1.3 million.

    * The recent 59th Senate race between Gary Forby (D) and Kim Burzynski (R) is a strong example of runaway spending fueled by legislative leaders and outsiders. Forby collected $1.3 million in total contributions, with 94 percent of those dollars coming from legislative leaders, candidate committees, party committees and interest groups. Only $83,000 came from individuals and small contributors. Burzynski collected $929,000, with nearly 99 percent of those funds coming from legislative leaders, candidate committees, party committees and interest groups. Only $12,000 came from individuals and small contributors.

    - Research provided by Kent D. Redfield, professor emeritus of political science at the University of Illinois at Springfield.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:07 AM | Permalink

    20 Tweets: Bill Rancic

    From The Beachwood Tweetdeck

    One in a series.

    1. G and I r going to check it out this weekend!! RT @JuicyLA: it doesn't come out till this weekend! silly goose. are you going w/ the wifey

    2. Has anyone seen the new movie Couples Retreat?? Looks great, want to check it out this weekend with the wife!!

    3. Just wanted 2 say Thank You 2 everyone who watched season1 of G&B Hope2 see U in Jan when Season 2 begins&we enter a new chapter of R lives

    4. Tune into the season finale of Giuliana & Bill TONIGHT at 9/8c on Style Network. Info: #gandb RETWEET TO WIN!

    5. Twitter contest! Please Retweet my next Tweet with #gandb to enter for a chance to win a $200 giftcard! For info click

    6. In Little Rock today 2 give a family in need a financial make over & get them back on their feet. What an amazing feelinggradientgivesback

    7. @giulianarancic & I are hosting a 10k run/2mi walk in D.C this Sunday in honor of my late father, hope u can join us.Go 2

    8. Working on a new article, looking for ways to save $100 in 15 minutes. Let me know if you have any good ideas that I can use to help others!

    9. They fail 2 set goals 4 their business and quit 2 soonRT @Dphotog:What is the top skill missing from some entrepreneurs that makes them fail

    10. Grace is the best!!!RT @DebraCribbs: @BillRancic I sent Grace's number to

    11. I like Buck Town or Lincoln Park great if u have kidsRT @LadyDHall: My husband and I are relocating 2 Chicago. In which areas should we look

    12. There r some great deals 2b had out there &the 8K is a gr8 incentive RT@litabear: Is the 8,000 rebate from the govt worth buying a house now

    13. Reduce Debt RT @mkwalders:I'm still paying off student loans from undergrad & law school. What's better - to reduce debt or save?

    14. I started working@ a very young age, the more lessons learned the better!! RT @Miss_Corinne: when do you think is a good age to get a job?

    15. Take advantage of Internships,you will be glad you did it!RT @DillonLamberth: what is your best advice to a college business student??

    16. @karaolsen29 Looks like a win for da bears!! Your hubby is having a great game!! @giulianarancic and I will see you @ the Super Bowl!

    17. For sure, we are going to get there early!! See you @ warm upsRT @karaolsen29: @GiulianaRancic I hope to see you and @BillRancic

    18. Anyone going to the Bears this Sunday? @giulianarancic and I just picked up 2tickets!!

    19. WOW, sad 4 Chicago today. Just received news we did not win the Olympic bid for 2016.Very proud of all the Chicago peeps who worked so hard!

    20. Check this out...RT @Ali_Sweeney: Check out behind-the-scenes pics of BL.


    See also:
    * 20 Tweets: Richard Roeper
    * 20 Tweets: Pete Wentz
    * 20 Tweets: Billy Corgan
    * 20 Tweets: Billy Dec
    * 20 Tweets: Jeremy Piven
    * 20 Tweets: Billy Dec Olympic Edition

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:52 AM | Permalink

    TrackNotes: The Breeders' Plastic Cup

    By Thomas Chambers

    I was quite happy when the Breeders' Cup decided to use the individually colored saddle cloths this year, even though the decision should have come in 1985, the "championship" event's second year. It seems like a small thing, but it makes it a lot easier to see your horse on the tee-and-vee.

    Kool-Aid Report:
  • How the Bears spent their bye week

  • The old purple cloths were quite regal/snooty, but watching a race was kind of like a big graphic blocking the entire line of Tiger's putt and you don't know what happened until he either pumps his fist or mouths the F-word.

    But I'm not sure new saddle cloths are going to provide enough sheer joy to get me excited about this year's two-day bet fest, set for November 6-7 at the Oak Tree Meet at Santa Anita. At least not as much excitement as I've had in past years.

    After all, the Distaff (I just can't bring myself to call it the Ladies Classic, as the BC renamed it last year) will again be run on Friday, along with all the other races for females. It looks like at least a few very good horses won't be there. And last, but not least, it will be run for the second consecutive year on Pro-Ride, Santa Anita's brand of synthetic track.

    My lack of enthusiasm might be a good thing, building cynicism against the horses with no chance and not overloading my brain circuits with handicapping information, as I am wont to do.

    The debate on synthetics, especially in California, rages on, both for and against. But for the pure purposes of this Breeders' Cup, handicapping it will be another guessing game.

    This past weekend, we had Super Saturday with five Grade I's from Belmont, including the Jockey Club Gold Cup, once considered one of the last huge races of the year. Summer Bird won it in impressive fashion and will be a factor in the Breeders' Cup Classic. And we have to laud Music Note (Beldame), Kodiak Kowboy (Vosburgh), Pure Clan (Flower Bowl), and Interpatation (inexplicable upset in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic) and even Awesome Gem (Hawthorne Gold Cup). But don't ask me if these noble steeds primed themselves for a Breeders' Cup splash. First of all, I'll have to look at the synthetic variable. Secondly, these horses already made splashes Saturday as their races were run in the deep ends of quagmires at both Belmont and Hawthorne. It really rained hard.

    What are the implications of these races for the Breeders' Cup? Daily Racing Form Editor Steve Crist addressed the issue even before Super Saturday.

    "So it's no surprise that with the Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita again this year, neither Belmont nor anyone else is calling Saturday's card Breeders' Cup Preview Day. The New York Racing Association is instead advertising the card as Super Saturday, resurrecting a moniker that used to be used for the September card that was a preview of Preview Day." The caveat of synthetics is ever present.

    And this just in, Kodiak Kowboy and Fabulous Strike (beaten by KK in the Vosburgh Saturday), two of the best sprinters in the country, will shy away from the Breeders' Cup because of the Pro-Ride surface at Santa Anita.

    Rachel Alexandra's connections vow not to bring her to Santa Anita next month. Jess Jackson has plenty of disdain for the "plastic" surface, but it's also a smart move because Rachel has run a grueling 2009 campaign and deserves the rest. But you have to wonder if she'd run on a conventional dirt Breeders' Cup track if she was able to tell Jackson and trainer Steve Asmussen she was ready. I'll miss her that weekend because she has been a big part of many of the memorable moments of 2009 racing.

    I believe Santa Anita was chosen to host the Breeders' Cup two consecutive years, 2008 and 2009, in order to ingratiate the synthetic surface upon fans and bettors. Sure, they wanted to avoid Breeders' Cups like the Monmouth Monsoon and the muck of Lone Star Park, but Belmont, Churchill Downs and even Arlington Park should be in the regular mix.

    Last year, it became evident that the Santa Anita surface itself became a gargantuan track bias as turf-bred Europeans ran on the Pro-Ride as if it was grass. Horses like Raven's Pass, Henry the Navigator, Donativum, Westphalia and Muhannak, by no means world beaters in Europe, took over the day. Astute handicappers had to make the adjustment mid-card. I was lucky enough to see the trends.

    Also on the down side, although it was probably never going to happen anyway, are the very slim chances we'll see European superhorse Sea the Stars. The San Andreas Fault would rock were he to somehow make the trip to sunny California. I really don't get into comparing American horses against the Europeans, not the smallest reasons being that I have no substantial knowledge of Euro racing, and they've been doing it a lot longer than we have. But many over there are calling him the best of all time. Best . . . Of . . . All . . . Time!

    His win Sunday in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (thanks a bunch TVG and everybody else for not showing the race live on American TV) capped a season in which he also won the Two Thousand Guineas and the English Derby. He is the first horse to win those three storied races in the same year. The first horse, and he's only three years old! The bookies aren't happy, but there's no denying greatness.

    His win in the 1.5-mile Arc was spectacular. We already know the good Euros often save a big run for the end of a race, but this was ridiculous. Seemingly stymied by traffic on the rail, Sea the Stars showed equal measures of greatness and heart in blowing away the field. Did I mention he's only three years old?

    His connections seem to be leaning against bringing him stateside because of the toughness of his 2009 campaign and the long trip. Sea the Stars has absolutely no explaining to do to anybody and they're thinking about the horse's health over everything. A campaign at four years old has not been decided.

    While we won't see, in all probability, Rachel Alexandra or Sea the Stars at Santa Anita, I would sure dig it if Zenyatta were to take on the boys in the Classic instead of her connections preserving the almighty "undefeated" notation next to her name. Her legacy will be restrained by her narrow restricted (to females) and primarily synthetic and California successes. But she runs and looks like a locomotive who needs a few furlongs to get going and then a few miles to stop. Zenyatta preps in the Lady's Secret at Santa Anita Saturday, taking on her usual suspects, stablemate Life is Sweet, Cocoa Beach and Briecat. Yawn. Although if she loses, maybe that will push her into the Classic.

    Summer Bird is becoming a fine veteran runner and Careless Jewel is the new "It" girl in the three-year-old fillies crowd. There will be some nice matchups. Nice. Not matchups for the ages or anything like that.

    But I do have the conventional saddle cloths. And Sea the Stars had Paris.

    TrackNotes Notes
    * Holed up at home Saturday with the online wagering - you celebrated the Olympic victory Friday night too, I trust - and heard a really nasty commercial.

    The National Thoroughbred Racing Association was actually soliciting money for its political action committee. It went something like this: "We need a voice in Washington, to work for you. Won't you donate? Click on to" I just about fell over.

    When horse racing needs a national voice the most, and coordination and marketing of a great game, this is one of the most toothless organizations known to man. But it can only be by design, rendered helpless by an industry that seems allergic to success.

    * In an effort to rope in a happy hour crowd, Hawthorne Race Course will try two night racing cards, tonight and next Friday. With first post at 5:30, they'll be racing under the lights. They talk about the lights like they're a big deal. The part I like is the late post.

    They're taking a cue from Churchill Downs, which tried it this summer and had quite large crowds when they ordinarily wouldn't have. Hawthorne will offer live music, a barbecue, a VIP event in the Turf Club ($35) and other specials.


    Thomas Chambers is the Beachwood's man on the rail. He brings you Track Notes every Friday. He welcomes your comments.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:23 AM | Permalink

    The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report

    By Eric Emery

    Vacations rule. This week, the Bears took a much deserved break from taking names and kicking ass. Did they take it easy? Of course not, we're from the city that works. The Bears spent their time doing the following during their bye week:

    * Shipped Chicago 2016 Summer Olympic t-shirts to Guatemala.

    * Created potholes to give the Streets and Sanitation crews something to do.

    * Washed their jerseys clean of their opponent's tears.

    * Visited a child with cancer. Scared cancer out of child.

    * Changed El system to have two lines: Blue and Orange.

    * Convinced Mayor Daley to change city's name from Chicago to Rio de Janeiro in order to trick the IOC into having Olympics here. Re-coded Google Maps to reflect the change.

    * Met crew of Extreme Home Makeover at Soldier Field to make a new facade that actually matches the stands.

    * Lovie Smith called Mike Ditka to say "There's a new fucking sheriff in town."

    * Helped Milton Bradley to pack up his shit and leave.

    * Prepared to beat somebody with a winning record.


    Record: 3-3


    Sugar in the Blue and Orange Kool-Aid: 85%
    Recommended sugar in the Blue and Orange Kool-Aid: 75%


    For more Emery, please see the Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report archives and the Over/Under collection. He welcomes your comments.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:12 AM | Permalink

    October 8, 2009

    The [Thursday] Papers

    By Steve Rhodes

    1. "I have a great idea that I plan to share with my readers at the proper time regarding the violence in and around Chicago Public Schools that has been all over the news," Stella Foster writes this morning.

    The proper time being:

    A) After three more kids are killed
    B) After I type up the rest of these press releases
    C) Once I find out if the union conceded my job


    Speculation on Stella's solution:

    - Rent out a barn and put on a fashion show

    - Deploy the National Guard and their new fancy stinkbombs

    - Start awarding gold stars for good behavior

    - Give those kids a good talking to

    - Make all kids sent to juvy read her column every day

    2. The education reform merry-go-round.

    3. The best education reform idea out there is a good job at a good wage for every parent who wants one. That also happens to be the best crime-fighting strategy.

    4. Attorney General Eric Holder says Derrion Albert's death is "a wake-up call."

    Really? Was Holder sleeping?

    5. Please, no more calls for "national conversations." The nation converses each and every day. Mostly about pols who are all talk, no action.

    6. You can't have a dialogue when the participants aren't honest.

    7. "The council's got to start rolling up its sleeves and doing the work it was elected to do," says Ald. Bob Fioretti.

    Oh really? It's finally time to start?


    And what's your first order of business, Bob?

    8. Asked and answered - unanimously approving the mayor's appointment of another schlub.


    Fioretti: Okay, now we have to roll up our sleeves and get to work!

    9. "Tired of Talk: LBGTs Want Action."

    Get in line. And bring plenty of change for the meter and something to read.

    10. The Obama administration refuses stimulus contract transparency.

    11. "Some states are bending the rules that govern the use of the education stimulus dollars, according to a report released last week by the Department of Education's inspector general," ProPublica reports. "The report, which carried the deceptively bland title 'Potential Consequences of the Maintenance of Effort Requirements under the ARRA Fiscal Stabilization Fund,' found that some states are using the program to reduce their own funding for public education."

    12. "It was the most expensive campaign in Chicago history - $3.3 million per vote."

    13. "The just-launched will make public all kinds of government data, everything from crime statistics to restaurant inspections and street fixes," the San Francisco Examiner reports. "The City is challenging technology-savvy folks in town to create applications based upon that data - such as a detailed, easy-to-read crime map - so residents can more readily be kept informed."

    Sheesh. And we can't even find out who hired Angelo Torres . . .

    14. Todd Stroger Wants To Direct. A horror show in the making.

    15. Trib sues U of I. Wants clout names.

    16. Roland Keeps Rolling. Continues to play make-believe.

    17. The Return of Jim Ryan? Please don't.

    18. The Statler Brothers were neither named Statler nor brothers. Discuss.

    19. Doing David Letterman. A video montage.

    20. The bankrupt Tribune Company wants to pay select executives bonuses equaling almost three times what Jim Tyree is paying for the Sun-Times Media Group. In Valuing the Sun-Times.


    The mystery bidder who didn't get his shit together in time, by the way, was Yusef Jackson.

    21. Beachwood Sports:

    * Have you seen my crack pipe? In Over/Under.

    * Free Blount. In The College Football Report.

    * Dis and Dat, Dem and Dose. By George Ofman.

    * Right about Knox, right about Mendenhall. In Fantasy Fix.

    * And The World Series Champ Is . . .

    * And The World Series Storyline Is . . .

    22. Daley reacts to Olympic loss.


    The Beachwood Tip Line: Cool for cats.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:07 AM | Permalink

    Ofman: Dis and Dat, Dem and Dose

    By George Ofman

    Three cheers for our town. Make that four. The Sporting News's annual list of the best sports cities in America ranks Chicago/Evanston as fourth. Yes, Evanston. Northwestern counts.

    Pittsburgh is first, what with the Steelers and Penguins winning titles and Pitts' success in the NCAA tournament. But the fact the Pirates were under .500 for the 17th-straight season should have penalized the Steel City.

  • Over/Under: Pass the crack pipe
  • The College Football Report: Free Blount

  • Philadelphia was second because the Phillies won the Series but come on, Philly's fans are so brutal the city should never be in the top five. Boston was third. This is hard to argue, thanks to very strong showings by the Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins and Celtics.

    We had no trophy winners in 2008. But I guess the Cubs, Sox, Hawks and Bulls making the playoffs and the Bears just missing qualify for fourth. Just imagine where we'll finish next year. Factor in the Sox and Cubs flops plus the Olympic fiasco and that should drop us out of the top ten.

    In case you're interested, Winooski, Vermont, finished 396th.


    Speaking of the Olympics, What's more important to you; a billion-dollar boondoggle or kids getting killed in our streets? If this requires an answer, make your reservations for Rio now.


    Major League Baseball owners unanimously approved Tom Ricketts the new owner of the Cubs in a conference call. What's wrong with using Twitter?


    Once Ricketts officially obtains the team, his first act should be to fumigate Milton Bradley. Then he can either have him traded, pay him off or send him to Winooski, Vermont.


    Johnny Knox gallops 102 yards with a kickoff return. Danieal Manning is pretty good at punt returns and so is Earl Bennett. And we all know the exploits of Devin Hester. Does this mean special teams coach Dave Toub gets a raise?


    The Bears have a bye this weekend, meaning the marathon takes over the city. Runners beware of myriad potholes and suspicious looking folks posing as aldermen.


    The Bulls are getting ready for a season without its leading scorer. Ben Gordon bolted for Detroit (which finished 10th on the Sporting News list), leaving someone to fill the 20 points per game he averaged.

    Enter Luol Deng, the $71 million enigma. This guy is loaded with talent but perhaps as soft as toilet paper.

    No question Derrick Rose is the team's most valuable player but Deng may be its most important this season. He averaged 19 points and 7 rebounds three years ago, then fell to 17 and 6 and last season, 14 and 6.

    Do I dare say the Bulls go as far as Deng takes them?


    Sun Times employees cough it up again excepting serious financial cuts in order to have the paper survive. That's the bad news. The good news: Guys like Mully, Hanley, Ziehm, Elliot, Telander and many others continue to keep us informed and entertained.


    I like Chip Caray. He's one of nicest and classiest guys I've ever met. But is it possible for him to tone down his play-by0play from all-out screaming to maybe intense exuberance?


    Just curious here, but did the cab driver whom Patrick Kane allegedly roughed up get a limousine license yet?


    Michael Jordan was caught smoking a cigar on a San Francisco golf course during a practice round for the President's Cup. Problem is, smoking is banned on the city's public courses. Jordan is an honorary assistant for the upcoming event and the somewhat tainted Chicago icon and bitter Hall of Famer said, "I'm not even supposed to be smoking, but this was a practice round and no one said anything."

    Apparently chutzpah has no boundaries.

    A city spokesman says not to expect him to ask Jordan to pay a $100 fine. I say send this guy to Winooski, Vermont.


    Methuselah is still lacing up his skates. The ageless Chris Chelios reportedly will begin skating with the Wolves next week with hopes his body says yes. If it does, so will the Wolves, who will instantly see attendance rise with this native son's return. Chelios wants to play until he's 50. He'll turn 48 in January. One of these days someone will tell Chelly to grow up. But please, not yet.


    George Ofman, an original member of The Score and a veteran of NPR, has covered more than 3,500 sporting events over the course of his career. Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:27 AM | Permalink

    The College Football Report

    By Mike Luce

    This week's preview is brought to you by: Chris Berman, Corie "The Other" Blount, Dr. James Andrews, the phrase "game-time decision," the Wildcat formation, and the Florida State University Board of Trustees.

    As always, the following is for entertainment purposes only.

    Game: #21 Nebraska (-3) @ #24 Missouri (8:00 p.m., Thursday)

    Comment: I have some roots in The Show Me State. While that side of the family claims ties to Washington U and KU, rather than Mizzou, I still have a soft spot in my heart for the Tigers. Plus, talking about the University of Missouri gives me a chance to bust out the "Mizz-er-uh" pronunciation used by Ma Luce. That always gives me a kick.

    As for things more football-related, I am taking the Tigers Thursday night. Why not? I've had worse ideas.

    Mizzou entered the Top 25 this week with a 4-0 record, although those wins have come against teams with a combined record of 6-12. (Including Illinois' very own Fightin' Illini, who lost 37-9.) The Tigers record against the number is a respectable 2-1 thus far, and I like the idea of getting points at home in prime time.

    Nebraska still seeks an impressive win after spending most of the season on the right side of the Directional School Creampuff Equation. The Cornhuskers have had a lengthy break since walloping Louisiana-Lafayette 55-0 on September 26. I wonder if Nebraska has had too long to think about the 52-17 drubbing they suffered against the Tigers last year.

    The history of this series suggests the game will be lopsided in one direction or another - none of the past 10 games have been decided by less than 10 points. (For gamblers, this means you might as well take the money line.) If the first "away" outing by Cornhusker freshman QB Zac "INT" Lee (136 yards, 2 INTs at Va Tech) is any indication, Nebraska might be hard-pressed to produce big plays with the passing game. I like the Tigers to hang in the game and pull away in the second half.

    One last note - for those of you enticed by the "over" in this game, keep an eye on the weather. Heavy rain could start late Wednesday and continue through kickoff.

    Go Missou-RAH!


    Game: #1 Florida (-7.5) @ #4 LSU (7:00 p.m., Saturday)

    Comment: Break open the piggy bank and put it all on the Gators. I'm not kidding.


    Game: Wisconsin @ #9 Ohio State (-16, 2:30 p.m., Saturday)

    Comment: Can this game somehow go down as a loss for both teams? Blech. I don't like the Badgers, but 16 points seems like too much for the Buckeyes to handle. I'm staying away.


    Game: Michigan @ #12 Iowa (-8, 7:00 p.m., Saturday)

    Comment: Nothing would surprise me. All I know is that I would rather not bet against Michigan's "Forcier of Nature" rookie QB two weeks in a row. Then again, Iowa's D looked awfully stout against Penn State. On the other hand, the Hawkeyes struggled to beat creampuffs Northern Iowa and Arkansas State. Even so, all of Michigan's wins have come in Ann Arbor . . . you get the idea.

    Unless you have some unique insight (and if so, please share), avoid this game.


    Game: #13 Oregon (-3.5) @ UCLA (2:30 p.m., Saturday)

    Comment: Last week, the Oregon Ducks announced that suspended RB LeGarrette Blount may return to play for the team. Here's a quick recap of how we got here: while leaving the field after Oregon's loss at Boise State in Week 1, Blount lost his head. After taunting Blount, Boise defensive end Byron "Glass Joe" Hout took a right cross to the jaw. As security escorted the irate Blount from the field, he had to be restrained from charging into the stands at a group of hecklers.

    Oregon's head coach Chip Kelly consulted with athletic director Mike Belotti before handing down a year-long suspension. As a senior, Blount's college career was over. As a promising NFL prospect, Blount went from a Top 100 pick to - in the words of ESPN's Todd McShay - "undraftable." Note: this is the same league that made Maurice "Grey Goose" Clarett a third-round draft pick. Blount was to keep his scholarship and be allowed to attend practices, but not play in games.

    Now Oregon seems about to make a calculated about-face.

    In a story reported by ESPN, journalist Mark Fainaru-Wada discovered that Blount's family began discussing reinstatement with Belotti within days of the suspension. Blount asked for help in these conversations from the non-profit NCAA Alumni Association, which in turn enlisted attorney Rob Carey. Carey successfully represented a class-action case against Ticketmaster this year, claiming it conspired with the NCAA to run an illegal lottery for tickets to NCAA Tournament games.

    If I'm LeGarrette Blount, I'm feeling good about my chances.

    But the stakes are high. Blount transferred to Oregon from East Mississippi Community College, effectively signing a contract with Oregon for a shot at the NFL in return for a scholarship. And presumably, an education. Last year, Blount set a school record with seventeen touchdowns. During the pre-season, draftnik Mel Kiper Jr. ranked Blount among the Top 5 running backs in 2009 class.

    By all accounts, Blount has humbly accepted his fate. He has attended classes and practices, and issued a formal apology. In short, he has said and done the right things. According to the AP, the student body has joined in as well by sporting tongue-in-cheek "Free Blount" T-shirts.

    The school recognizes the power of public relations. In 2001, Oregon paid $250,000 to hang an 80 x 100 billboard in Times Square of QB Joey Harrington. The Ducks intended to support Harrington's Heisman campaign but suffered a severe backlash over the commercialization of college athletes. (Not to mention obnoxious billboards.)

    Only now has Oregon hinted that the ban could be lifted. Last Friday, Kelly mentioned seeking out counsel from Dr. Harry Edwards and Tony Dungy. Both men have spoken to Blount as well. Kelly did not bring up Carey's role in the process. Attempting to describe the quandary, Kelly said it is " . . . not a football decision."

    I hope Kelly believes that. But it is not, as he went on to say, a "human-being decision." Big-time college football is about winning games, selling tickets, and making money. I hope LeGarrette Blount gets reinstated, drafted by the NFL, and becomes a wonderful father to his newborn son LeGarrette Blount Jr. But if he does, it will have less to do with Tony Dungy's endorsement and more to do with Oregon's desire to avoid a PR debacle and add another warm body to the backfield.

    (Still, I like Oregon this weekend. Go Ducks! Free Blount!)


    Game: #22 Georgia Tech @ Florida State (-2.5, 7:00 p.m., Saturday)

    Comment: I can just hear the pre-game speech from FSU head coach in-waiting Jimbo Fisher now: "OK boys, we're down but we ain't out. Remember, one game at a time. Let's go out and win! Or not, really. Up to you. After all, you could make this easier on everybody by just mailing it in the rest of the way."

    I love the Seminoles to win this one for Bobby Bowden's rotting corpse.

    CFR Notes
    The Sports Seal must have had a bit too much Ol' Grand-Dad before filing last week's Report. That's right, the Seal is a Grand-Dad fan - him and Joe Paterno. How those two get along is beyond me . . . maybe because they both smell like old socks. On to the Seal's picks:

    ~ Boston College (+13.5) @ #5 Virginia Tech
    ~ #3 Alabama @ #20 Ole Miss (+6)
    ~ Iowa State @ #16 Kansas (-19.5)


    Mike "Chief" Luce brings you The College Football Report in this space twice a week. He welcomes your comments.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:11 AM | Permalink


    By Eric Emery

    Do you know anything about investing? Of course you don't. That is why you read an expert's analysis. But do they know anything? If an expert really knew anything, they wouldn't bother writing about it and would instead spend the time actually investing and making mounds of money .

    The same goes for NFL prognosticators. My record is below .500, so I'm perfectly suited to predict which 2-2 teams will finish with a winning record:

    Team: Dallas

    Buying sign: Team packs in 100,000-plus for first home game in new stadium. Roughly 20,000 fans pay $29 for standing-room-only tickets to watch game on the massive screen over the 50-yard line.

    Selling sign: Roughly 20,000 fans discover they can watch it at home for free.

    Advice: Buy and while you are at it, just invest in a better TV and stay home. It's cheaper.


    Team: Washington

    Buying sign: Maybe massively brutal head coach Jim Zorn will soon be fired.

    Selling sign: Most likely, an equally brutal head coach will be hired in Zorn's place.

    Advice: Sell but buy stock in a moving company.


    Team: Green Bay

    Buying sign: Leaves turning into beautiful colors this fall.

    Selling sign: Stomachs turning into massive ulcers due to eating too many cheese curds.

    Advice: Sell, but buy cholesterol controlling medicines


    Team: Pittsburgh

    Buying sign: Fans still confident enough to say "I cannot hear your criticism, I must have six Super Bowl rings stuck in my ears."

    Selling sign: It better to talk shit after winning at least six times in the current season.

    Advice: Buy but sell an extra ring at pawn shop.


    Team: Jacksonville

    Buying sign: There is little else to do in Jacksonville.

    Selling sign: Real estate values suck in Florida mostly by virtue of it being in Florida.

    Advice: Sell, but buy your timeshare somewhere else.


    Team: Houston

    Buying sign: It's grown to be our fourth largest city by population.

    Selling sign: It's grown to be the fourth best team in their division.

    Advice: Sell, but buy a house in Houston. For some reason, people like the place.


    Team: San Diego

    Buying sign: It's a great place to be in November and December.

    Selling sign: It's not a great place to leave for an inevitable first round playoff loss.

    Advice: Buy and also buy tickets for the San Diego Zoo in January.


    OverHyped Game of the Week: Colts at Titans

    Storyline: What happened to the Titans? Are they distracted by head coach Jeff Fisher's pornstache?

    Reality: Little known rumor: Fisher has a shirt that says "Mustache Rides: Free"

    Prediction: Colts Minus 3.5 Points, Over 45.5 Points Scored


    UnderHyped Game of the Week: Patriots at Broncos

    Storyline: If you expected the Broncos to be 4-0, you were smoking crack.

    Reality: Have you seen my crack pipe?

    Prediction: Broncos Plus 3.5, Under 42 Points Scored


    Record: 5-7


    For more Emery, please see the Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report archives and the Over/Under collection. He welcomes your comments.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:53 AM | Permalink

    October 7, 2009

    The [Wednesday] Papers

    By Steve Rhodes

    Is youth violence really like a disease?

    That's what the Tribune would like you to believe. And the paper marshals all the usual evidence about brain development and interventions and the sort of thing that organizations like CeaseFire talk about too.

    And maybe that's something Arne Duncan and Eric Holder will discuss today while they are in town for their dog-and-pony show.

    But here's the funny thing about not only youth violence but crime on the whole: It's inextricably linked with poverty.

    As I wrote at earlier this morning, kids who attend New Trier aren't killing each other.

    And that's not because they are predominantly white. It's because they are predominantly rich.

    Despite what some pundits say, there is no such thing as black-on-black crime. Blacks aren't killing other blacks because they are black. And rich blacks aren't killing rich blacks.

    What we have here is poor-on-poor crime. It just so happens that in this country, for all of the historical reasons we are all familiar with, as well as some very present current reasons, the poor are disproportionately African American.

    Crime is also a matter of proximity.

    If gangbangers arising out of tough neighborhoods lived near wealthy whites, wealthy whites would be among the victims.

    But we are not allowed to discuss this. We are not allowed to discuss an economic structure that keeps those on the bottom at the bottom - on purpose.

    When the unemployment rate, for example, gets "too low," the Federal Reserve raises interest rates to slow down the economy.

    In other words, the Federal Reserve - at the behest of policymakers and elected officials from the White House on down - purposely keeps those at the bottom out of work to prevent inflation from eroding the assets of those at the top.

    Economists also talk about the importance of a flexible labor market; by this they mean a labor market that keeps a certain number of potential workers unemployed or partially employed to put downward pressure on the wages of those who are fully employed. They also mean that it's important under our system to have a flexible labor pool that can be dipped into when needed and set aside when not.

    This is not a discussion we are allowed to have. The discussion we are allowed to have is one about morals and character and personal responsibility - of the poor, not the wealthy, even though it's always the wealthy who plunge our nation into economic disaster.

    Timothy Geithner doesn't pay his taxes (and utterly fails as head of the New York Fed) and he becomes Barack Obama's Treasury Secretary; Chicago's schools can't provide textbooks to all its students and it's somehow the parents' fault.

    We are not allowed to talk about economics in this country. Conservatives call it class war. Liberals are split between those who believe in the system and those who simply say "Shhhh! We'll never get elected if we acknowledge what we know to be true."

    Why are our children dying on our streets?

    You can blame the schools, but why do all of the nation's schools work pretty well except those in the poorest districts?

    You can blame the parents, but why do most of our parents do a decent job except those with the lowest wages?

    You can blame our communities, but why do most of our communities do a decent job except those ravaged by poverty?

    Youth violence is not an education issue and it's not a criminal justice issue. It's an economic issue.

    Instead of addressing our economic structure, we invest in chasing the Olympics and promise that a few crumbs will fall from the table to help the less fortunate.

    There's always enough money around for a new sports stadium, but not so much for crumbling schools. Unless it's a magnet school where we can skim the cream off the crop and scurry them away from danger - and clout in the rest of those we care to save.

    We saturate poor neighborhoods with fast-food franchises, liquor stores and billboards for cigarettes and the lottery, then scold the poor for succumbing to temptation - the very temptation that keeps the profits rolling for the fat cats and those they employ.

    Nobody talks about poverty anymore. Nobody talks about economics, except the stock market and porked-up stimulus bills that don't stimulate.

    The mayor doesn't have a plan. He has TIF districts.

    The president doesn't have a plan. He has political imperatives.

    If laissez faire economics doesn't work for Wall Street - and how many times must we learn that lesson - then how can it work for the poor?

    I'd be angry too. And violent. Maybe in a gang. Or maybe just an innocent bystander unable to stay out of trouble. You would too.

    This isn't about socialism or communism or capitalism or liberalism. It's about decency. The notion that the wealthiest nation in the history of the world can't supply every citizen who wants an education and a job with an education and a job is the height of absurdity - at least next to failing to provide health care for all of our citizens.

    It's not even about what kind of nation we are, because there are worse out there. There are also better.

    It's about what kind of nation - and state, and city - we want to be. It's far from undoable.

    On this, Obama and Daley and Cosby are right: It's about personal responsibility, morals, values and character.

    But not of the poor. Of the rest of us.


    The Beachwood Tip Line: For the people.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:33 AM | Permalink

    Fantasy Fix: Opportunity Knox

    By Dan O'Shea

    Believe it or not, Johnny "Opportunity" Knox (Okay, its obvious and a mouthful. Any better ideas?) is not the most surpising performer at wide receiver so far this season.

    The Bears' latest Abilene Christian find has scored three touchdowns, one of them on a kick return, in the first four weeks of the season. But you can make a pretty good case for Houston second-year man Jacoby Jones as being the most surprising performer at the WR position. A non-draftee in most fantasy leagues, he's also come up with three TDs, one via KR, and is currently second to the formidable Cleveland KR specialist Joshua Cribbs in total return yards among wide receivers.

    World Series Preview
  • Ofman's Picks
  • Predicted Storylines

  • We love KR yards as nice additional points when they make sense - there are some KR men who just don't otherwise get enough catches or touches for it to make sense to pick them up.

    Another one of our KR favorites is San Diego RB Darren Sproles, second to Cribbs among all position players in total return yards (Jones is third). Sproles arguably didn't see enough touches last year until the Chargers discovered their bounty late in the season, and this year, he has been getting more chances with LaDainian Tomlinson out.

    In any case, Jones, Knox, Cribbs and also Minnesota rookie Percy Harvin have been among the top 10 WRs this year in fantasy points, with KR points as a big contributor in all cases.

    Meanwhile, some other big WR names like Randy Moss, Brandon Marshall, Larry Fitzgerald, Greg Jennings and the Carolina version of Steve Smith all have been slow starters this year.

    Our Fantasy Fix Action Ratings this week size up notable WRs:

    Player: Johnny Knox
    Comment: Almost 70%-owned in Yahoo! leagues, and his KR TD in Week 4 will only drive that up. However, he still needs to be a bit more involved on offense to get full payoff, and also needs a lighter touch catching the ball.


    Player: Jacoby Jones
    Comment: The secret should be out, but apparently isn't yet, because he is only 16%-owned in Yahoo! leagues. Houston's high-powered passing game should get him more chances as the year goes on.


    Player: Joshua Cribbs
    Comment: Cleveland has switched QBs, and while Cribbs was a KR monster in Week 4, new QB Derek Anderson seemed less fond of throwing to Cribbs than his predecessor Brady Quinn was. Just a hunch here, but that might be a bad sign.


    Player: Percy Harvin
    Comment: The rookie has made a strong connection with his elderly QB Brett Favre. Minnesota is running less and throwing more, and Harvin may see more action every week.


    Player: Larry Fitzgerald
    Comment: Arizona's offense has stumbled and defenses have been hounding him, which makes Arizona WR mate Anquan Boldin a better option. You can probably find an eager buyer and still get a lot for him if you act soon.


    Player: Greg Jennings
    Comment: Green Bay had a huge pre-season, and there was every reason to believe the Aaron Rodgers-Jennings connection would be one of this year's best QB-WR tandems. Hasn't happened. The Packers instead have disappointed, but look for Rodgers and Jennings to get on the same page soon.


    Player: Randy Moss
    Comment: Same situation as with Fitzgerald, as New England's offense is not what it used to be, but Tom Brady and company have picked up the pace and Moss should start getting more scores.

    Expert Wire
    * Yahoo! Pick-Ups of the Week lists Denver QB Kyle Orton as a "strong buy." Orton has been interesting, not doing anything flashy, which is about what you would expect, but not making mistakes either, and getting just enough luck to help get Denver to 4-0.

    * The Faster Times has Jacksonville QB David Garrard as a hot waiver wire pick-up. He had a massive Week 4, with 323 passing yards and 3 TDs, and in past years has been capable of flashes of brilliance, but I'd call him a secondary choice at best. RB Maurice Jones-Drew really runs the Jaguar offense, and I'll be Week 4 turns out to be Garrard's best or second-best week of this season.

    * Rotoworld notes that Detroit QB Matthew Stafford, who has played well but experienced a nasty kneecap dislocation against the Bears last week, is listed as "day-to-day." That will surprise anyone who saw it happen. I'll bet - and I'm not the only one - that QB Daunte Culpepper gets his first start of the year for the Lions. Could be an interesting pick-up if Stafford was your second QB, though the Lions go up against the tough Pittsburgh D this week.

    * Finally, Yahoo! Roto Arcade celebrates the breakout performance of Pittsburgh RB Rashard Mendenhall, who ran for 165 yards and 2 TDs in Week 4. Who called Mendenhall a possible breakout player before the season started? The same guy who told you to keep an eye on Johnny Knox.

    Fantasy Basketball
    The fantasy baseball season is over, and it's time for some hoops. Here's my potential first round picks, and we'll start the deeper discussion next week.

    1. LeBron James: Contract year, need I say more?

    2. Chris Paul: The point that does everything. He's only No. 2 because King James will be so good.

    3. Dwyane Wade: Re-discovered his ability to take charge last year.

    4. Kevin Durant: Bit of a risk this early, but he could seriously average 30 points per game.

    5. Danny Granger: Nice mix of high scoring, shot-blocking and steals.

    6. Amare Stoudemire: He'll get more game action this year with Shaq leaving town.

    7. Kobe Bryant: A steep decline, but he's a little older and surrounded with more talent than the first six.

    8. Dirk Nowitzki: The scoring machine is aging fairly gracefully.

    9. Chris Bosh: Great scoring from the big man, and his contract year finally should bring him to his potential.

    10. Brandon Roy: Another risk, but great field goal percentage and should be among scoring leaders.

    Fantasy Hockey
    I don't actually know enough about hockey to tell you what I think about fantasy hockey, but I just joined my first fantasy hockey league, so let me know if you have any tips. I did get the first pick of the draft and went with Alexander Ovechkin, who I understand was a consensus No. 1. The guys in my league did not think it was that funny when I asked if Stan Mikita was still available.


    Dan O'Shea's Fantasy Fix appears in this space every Wednesday. Tips, comments, and suggestions are welcome. You can also read his about his split sports fan personality at SwingsBothWays, which isn't about what it sounds like It's about.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:58 AM | Permalink

    And The World Series Champ Is . . .

    By George Ofman

    A year ago both the White Sox and Cubs were in the playoffs. Federal investigations were called off when Major League Baseball confirmed this rarity actually occurred.

    Neither team fared very well. The Sox were ousted in four games by the Tampa Bay Rays while the Cubs . . . It's truly not necessary to hash over this disaster again, is it?

    Well, at least we don't need Jacques Rogge to announce our Chicago teams won't get past the first round.

    That's because they didn't make it past the regular season.

    But it won't stop me from telling you who win the World Series.

    I know. I have inside information . . . and a deck of tarot cards.

    In all honesty, picking a World Series champ these days is a crapshoot. There hasn't been a back-to-back champ since the Yankees won it in '98, '99 and '00. The last National League team to win consecutive titles were the Cincinnati Reds in '75 and '76.

    Sorry Philadelphia, it ain't happening again!

    But a National League team will capture the title this year and it's a team that has won the Series nine times.

    Yes, the St. Louis Cardinals will rule the roost. Eat your heart out Cubs fans.

    Funny thing is, Tony LaRussa has won a World Series title only twice in his illustrious 33-year managerial career.

    His first championship was with the 1989 Oakland A's, who beat the San Francisco Giants in the fabled earthquake series. His second came three years ago when the St. Louis Cardinals, who won all of 83 games in the regular season, beat the Tigers four games to one.

    By early November, LaRussa will win his third and his Cardinals will beat the Yankees in the process.

    Unfortunately, my wife says I can't book your bets.

    There are several reasons I'm picking the Cards. Two of them happen to be named Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainright. They remind me of a bit of Koufax and Drysdale. They're almost unbeatable. They combined to go 36-12, with Carpenter's 2.24 ERA the league's best. Wainright's ERA was fourth-best. One-two punches like this don't come around very often. The last dominant pair was Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling, who led the Arizona Diamondbacks to a World Series title over the New York Yankees in 2001. Johnson and Schilling were 1-2 in ERA and combined to go 43-12. That said, the D-backs needed seven games to win it all.

    I also like the Cardinals because of a fellow named Albert Pujols, who is the best hitter in the game and, who once again, will win the Most Valuable Player award. St. Louis also added Matt Holliday in mid-season and he has had a profound effect on the Cardinals' offense. And the team's bullpen, which lead the majors in blown saves just a year ago, boasts a closer in Ryan Franklin who converted 38 of 43 chances.

    Picking the Cardinals isn't exactly what you would call a no-brainer. They open on the road against the Dodgers, who led the National League with 95 wins. The Dodgers possess a slew of solid hitters, yet not one starting pitcher with more than 12 victories. The Cardinals beat the Dodgers five times out of seven in the regular season, with Carpenter winning two games by scores of 6-1 and 3-2. Wainright tossed eight innings of shutout ball in L.A. for another victory. The Cardinals then would likely play the Phillies, whom I expect will defeat the Rockies. Philadelphia won four of five from St. Louis and possess three of the most dangerous left-hand hitters in the game in Utley, Howard and Ibanez.

    I don't care. The Cardinals will prevail.

    Bring on the Yankees. What a storied Series this would be. The last time these two giants met was way back in 1964 when St. Louis stunned the Bombers in a seven-game series.

    So, if you believe in my theories and expertise and have a solid life insurance plan to go along with a 401k that doesn't resemble a 201 S, you too, will pick the Cardinals.

    Just don't call my lawyer if the Rockies win.


    George Ofman, an original member of The Score and a veteran of NPR, has covered more than 3,500 sporting events over the course of his career. Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:58 AM | Permalink

    Valuing the Sun-Times

    By The Beachwood Newspaper Valuation Desk

    Just five years ago, what is now known as the Sun-Times Media Group fetched an offer of $900 million. Today Chicago businessman Jim Tyree is in line to buy the STMG for $26 million. Frankly, that's kind of pathetic. For comparison's sake:

    * Amount Tribune Co. wants to pay top executives bonuses: $66 million.

    * Amount the city is giving to United Airlines to move into Willis Tower: $50 million.

    * Amount the Cubs signed Milton Bradley to a three-year contract for: $30 million.

    * Amount Chicago 2016 raised: $72 million.

    * Amount Creative Loafing paid for the Reader and the Washington City Paper in 2007: $30 million. (Hedge fund Atalaya acquired Creative Loafing in turn for $5 million earlier this year.)

    * Amount Tribune Company paid for Chicago magazine in 2002: $35 million.

    * Amount Sun-Times Media Group owes the IRS: $600 million.

    * Amount the U.S. will spend on Spanish census forms: $26 million.

    * Amount U.S. Department of Education gave to school districts to strengthen their emergency management plans: $26 million.

    * Amount a company paid for five Boulder, Colorado, properties with nearly 250,000 square-feet of self-storage space: $26 million.

    * Amount Intel was fined for violating South Korean antitrust laws: $26 million.

    * Amount Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod is selling its classical music station in St. Louis for: $26 million.

    * State of Maryland's snow removal budget this year: $26 million.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:37 AM | Permalink

    And The World Series Storyline Is . . .

    By The Beachwood Homer Hanky Affairs Desk

    New York Yankees vs. Los Angeles Dodgers: The most classic, media-saturated, bi-coastal Series possible. Fox and MLB wet their pants.

    Boston Red Sox vs. Los Angeles Dodgers: The next best thing; all-Manny all the time.

    Los Angeles Angels vs. Los Angeles Dodgers: The loser has to replace "Los Angeles" with Anaheim. West Coast starts make Fox and MLB cry. Rest of nation doesn't care.

    Minnesota Twins vs. Los Angeles Dodgers: A replay of the 1965 World Series that only people in Minnesota will recall or care about.

    New York Yankees vs. Philadelphia Phillies: East Coast brawl that rest of nation tunes out.

    Boston Red Sox vs. Philadelphia Phillies: East Coast brawl that rest of nation plus New Yorkers tune out.

    Los Angeles Angels vs. Philadelphia Phillies: Is American Idol on?

    Minnesota Twins vs. Philadelphia Phillies: Nicest fans ever vs. meanest fans ever.

    New York Yankees vs. St. Louis Cardinals: Classic match-up for hardcore baseball fans, which already excludes the West Coast so no loss there.

    Boston Red Sox vs. St. Louis Cardinals: Mark DeRosa hits Series-winning home run over the Green Monster.

    Los Angeles Angels vs. St. Louis Cardinals: Mike Sciosia vs. Tony LaRussa vs. heavy eyelids.

    Minnesota Twins vs. St. Louis Cardinals: Media patronization of the heartland at an all-time high.

    New York Yankees vs. Colorado Rockies: Spunky underdogs capture nation's imagination. Go Rocks!

    Boston Red Sox vs. Colorado Rockies: Rockies curiously become the favorites. Go Rocks!

    Los Angeles Angels vs. Colorado Rockies: What time is that Blackhawks game on?

    Minnesota Twins vs. Colorado Rockies: Lowest World Series ratings ever.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:22 AM | Permalink

    Doing David Letterman

    By Steve Rhodes

    I used to be a huge David Letterman fan - long before he had a late night show. Letterman started on network TV with a morning show that was as brilliant as anything that's ever been on TV; just like his late night show was in its early years, the morning show was as much a parody of morning shows as it was for real. I bailed on Letterman years ago, though, when his late night show became too fratty - and too much like the very thing he once slyly and savagely parodied. You know, he became like Leno.

    To wit:

    1. Animal psychic segment.


    2. The morning show ran bumpers for segments that never were to come.


    3. One of the coolest parts of the morning show was the news segments by Edwin Newman. You don't get to see his wit here, but you can get a tiny little whiff of the action.


    4. By 1994, Letterman had become ripe for parody rather than the parodist. Mike Judge brought the clip with him when he made his first Letterman appearance.


    5. Then the parodists - Beavis & Butt-head - went on Letterman to flog their movie.


    6. Likewise, Family Guy took a crack at him.


    7. And then Peter Griffin wound up on the show as well.


    8. And - also with something to sell - Homer Simpson followed suit.


    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:57 AM | Permalink

    Stimulus Transportation Spending Lags Predictions

    By Michael Grabell/ProPublica

    Stimulus money for transportation projects is being spent far more slowly than expected.

    When the economic stimulus act passed in February, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that the U.S. Department of Transportation would spend about $5 billion by the end of the fiscal year, which was Wednesday.

    But Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Thursday that only $3.4 billion has been spent so far - about a third less than forecast. Rep. John Mica, the top Republican on the House transportation committee, said the spending rate was disappointing, noting that unemployment figures released today were expected to hit 9.8 percent.

    "Of the $48 billion in transportation stimulus funds, so far DOT has paid out only $3.4 billion, or 7 percent of the total," said Mica, R-Fla.

    Overall, about $191 billion in stimulus spending had gone out the door in spending and tax cuts as of Sept. 25 - well ahead of the $185 billion the budget office estimated would be out by Wednesday.

    More stimulus money per person has been spent in states with high unemployment, according to an analysis of outlays so far by ProPublica.

    Bidding and red tape add delays
    While transportation and infrastructure money is just a fraction of the $787 billion stimulus package, it has received a lot of attention because it is expected to account for more than half the 3.5 million jobs the Obama administration says the stimulus will create or save.

    From the start, transportation money was expected to move into the economy slower than stimulus spending on food stamps, unemployment benefits and some other programs. For transportation projects, states had to cull lists, prepare environmental assessments, get federal approval, put out bids and sign contracts before any money could be spent.

    DOT spokeswoman Jill Zuckman said the amount of money spent on highways isn't as important as the amount of money that's been approved, which has reached $19.4 billion.

    Once DOT approves a project, states can begin awarding contracts and contractors can begin hiring workers. But it usually takes several months before any work begins and anybody gets paid.

    For the most part, Thursday's hearing of the House transportation panel provided a glowing assessment of the stimulus.

    "When you look at our portion of the economic recovery, a lot of people are working around America," LaHood told the committee. "Look at the orange barrels. Look at the orange cones. Fly into any airport that I've flown into. They're all resurfacing their runways."

    LaHood said state DOTs are doing a better job of directing stimulus money to economically distressed areas. Representatives of asphalt, gravel and bus companies talked about how the stimulus was the only bright spot in an otherwise bleak economy, allowing them to save jobs.

    Job counts "shorthand"
    Rep. James Oberstar of Minnesota, the committee's Democratic chairman, said the stimulus money for highways and transit has already created or sustained 122,000 jobs.

    But after the hearing, his spokesman Jim Berard clarified that that was 122,000 "job months" - one person working for one month.

    It's difficult to know how many jobs were actually created because some workers will get jobs for years while others will get jobs for days, depending on the scale of the project. So far, workers have worked 22 million job hours, according to the committee.

    If those workers had been on the job since the start of the stimulus, it would have created or saved closer to 20,000 jobs - a fraction of what the committee reported.

    "There's really no intention of masking this, no intention of padding the numbers," Berard said. "It was just a calculation that was done, but just presented orally in a shorthand for expediency's sake."

    Bus company layoffs
    Much attention at the hearing focused on the fate of New Flyer bus company - once a silver lining but now a victim of the recession.

    The company was thrust into the spotlight in March when Vice President Joe Biden used the firm's plant in St. Cloud, Minn., to highlight the stimulus' focus on green jobs. New Flyer was poised to benefit greatly by the $8.4 billion infusion into public transit, much of which is being spent on hybrid buses.

    But in August, the company had to lay off 320 people when the Chicago Transit Authority couldn't secure state money to complete an order.

    New Flyer's CEO Paul Soubry said things would be much worse without the stimulus through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The company has received orders for 638 buses and transit vehicles - about 30 percent of its annual production - because of the stimulus. Those orders would produce 447 "job years" - or 223 people working for two years, he said.

    "We believe that ARRA funds have had a direct and material impact on new bus purchases," Soubry said.

    Back in June, the head of the Federal Transit Administration predicted that 4,000 new buses and transit vehicles would be ordered by September. FTA spokesman Paul Griffo said he couldn't verify that that happened. But he said FTA had approved funds for 9,933 buses.

    Projects pushed to spring
    One sour note came from Jeff Taylor, the transportation manager in Elkhart County, Ind., which saw its jobless rate jump from 4.4 percent in October 2007 to 18.9 percent in March at the height of the recession.

    Taylor said the county has struggled to get stimulus money for roads and been bogged down in paperwork for projects that he said are "shovel-ready." Because of the delays, the county won't be able to bid projects until November, meaning work won't begin until next April.

    "It was my understanding, along with millions of other Americans, that the ARRA was a jobs creation and jobs retention bill," Taylor said. "If it is true we are in an economic crisis, we should expedite the paperwork process, and target those areas hardest hit by the economic downturn."

    According to the Federal Highway Administration, 59 percent of highway money is being spent in economically distressed counties. In Michigan, 76 percent of the money is going to such counties, where 91 percent of people live. But Kansas is spending only 7 percent of its money in economically distressed counties, even though 35 percent of its population lives in one.

    A separate analysis by ProPublica of total spending per state found a strong relationship between per-capita spending and unemployment. Michigan, with about 15.2 percent unemployment and $353 paid out per resident, is about in line with what is should be getting compared to other states.

    But there were outliers. Massachusetts, with lower-than-average unemployment, has seen about $402 per person. Meanwhile, $187 per person has been spent in Alabama, where unemployment is 10.4 percent.

    ProPublica reporter Chris Flavelle and Jennifer LaFleur, director of computer-assisted reporting, contributed to this report.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:08 AM | Permalink

    October 6, 2009

    The [Tuesday] Papers

    By Steve Rhodes

    Boy, the morning has really gotten away from me. No time to fill out the rest of the site the way I had expected to, so lots of goodies coming tomorrow and the rest of the week.

    But our sports section continues its impressive roll.

    "First and foremost and forevermore it must be noted that Bears special teams guru Dave Toub can coach a return," Jim Coffman writes in SportsTuesday. "Can he ever!

    "It is hard to imagine a team putting together a better game's worth of kick-receiving than did the Bears Sunday. It was the difference, plain and simple, in a game that otherwise would have been very close, no matter how much the defense (led by a great performance by Brown, Ogunleye and Anderson) bounced back in the second half and no matter how many points the offense scored."


    "And now the expectations are back to 'they suck and need a new manager'," Marty Gangler writes in The Cub Factor. "I can totally handle that. It's my comfort zone; my groove. I'm better off. Because expecting them to win is like waiting for the Christmas that never comes. Like what if you just know that Santa is going to bring you that new bike this year and you are super pumped. Your dad is dropping hints about how he talked to Santa around Thanksgiving and that they had a conversation about a certain chrome alloy frame and yellow mag wheels. And then Christmas morning your mom and dad decide that your family no longer celebrates holidays. It's like that for Cub Fans. It's the Christmas that never comes. But who knows, you're dad might change his mind next year."


    "Even if BYU pulls together for a run through TCU and the remainder of the schedule, they close the year at home with the Holy War," Mike Luce writes in The College Football Report. "Yes, the BYU-Utah rivalry is known as The Holy War. That game will also be known as the 2009 Lock of the Year. Bet on the Mormons - you can't lose."

    * Colbert fails to make fun of Duncan.

    * The Million-Dollar Mystery Candidate.

    * Daley's New Excuse.

    What of Washington Park Now?
    From Beachwood reader Michael O'Connor:

    "I thought one of the most understated but effective rebukes to the Olympic hedgemony was in Blair Kamin's column in the Sunday Tribune. He simply took the Green Line to 51st St. and described the immediate area near Washington Park. Then he posed a simple question: If Washington Park was a jewel of greenspace when designed by Fredrick Law Olmstead, why has it been allowed to decline so? Where, Mr. Mayor, is the pressure you put on private money to build Millennium Park on top of railroad yard and why won't you do the same thing for this part of the city?"

    From Kamin's piece:

    "On Wednesday, anticipating that Chicago might get the nod from the International Olympic Committee, I took the Chicago Transit Authority's Green Line from the Loop down to the 51st Street station, a few blocks from the stadium site in Washington Park.

    "The greeting I got there was not pretty: cracked sidewalks, broken glass, vacant lots strewn with trash, a couple of thriving businesses, like a crowded barbershop, but just as many boarded-up storefronts.

    "If the Olympics had come to Chicago, there would have been a full court press to spruce up the area, just as Mayor Richard M. Daley pushed to give the Near West Side new parks, streets and housing, not to mention yard upon yard of imitation wrought-iron fencing, before the 1996 Democratic National Convention.

    "Now, that station represents in microcosm the challenge confronting post-Olympics Chicago."

    Jack and Squat
    * Here's that SNL Obama skit that everyone is talking about.

    The Silly Olympics


    The Beachwood Tip Line: Blameless.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:31 AM | Permalink


    By Jim Coffman

    And then, withdrawal kicks in, as it always does when the bye week arrives for a team on a roll. What are Bears fans supposed to do for the next week-and-a-half? I suppose a little scouting is in order and Monday night was a prime opportunity to break down the foes that matter most. Host Minnesota beat Green Bay 30-23 in a game that wasn't that close to improve to 4-0. The Packers fell to 2-2.

  • The Cub Factor
  • The College Football Report

  • The Vikings: So much for the idea that Brett Favre would simply manage games this year, avoiding mistakes and handing the ball off to star running back Adrian Peterson. That plan, which Minnesota employed successfully in its first two games this fall, went out the window when the Vikings needed a touchdown in the final minute to beat the 49ers at home last Sunday. Favre delivered a spectacular 30-plus yard strike to Greg Lewis in the back of the end zone with :02 on the clock to break the collective heart of the Singletary-coached team that has otherwise been a huge hit so far this season. More on Favre later.

    One of the best parts of Monday's broadcast was when analyst Jon Gruden revealed that during Favre's early years under Mike Holmgren's tutelage in Green Bay (1992-94), Holmgren had Favre making several "thousand throws a day." Clearly this has something to do with Favre's continuing, amazing durability.

    Come to think of it, in general you never hear about football teams limiting quarterbacks' throws on a given day or week (during training camp or at any other time). So it isn't a surprise when you realize you almost never hear about a quarterback suffering a repetitive stress injury during the first 10 years, at least, of his career (the Dolphins' Chad Pennington, apparently on his way to surgery No. 3 on his throwing shoulder, is a notable exception, but still . . . ).

    The wisdom of football's policy of working its throwers hard (usually not as hard as Favre but given the fact that he has started more than 250 games in a row, perhaps more coaches should require young quarterbacks to fire away endlessly) resonates most in a different sport. Why again do baseball organizations baby promising arms with ridiculously random pitch limits (there is no data - nor will there ever be any data - supporting the efficacy of limits of 75, 90 or 100 pitches)?

    Of course teams need to build up the innings in an intelligent way from year to year in the first five years of a pitcher's professional career. And of course throwing a football 35 times or so once a week is different than throwing a baseball 100 times every five days. But the rate of injuries to pitchers simply has not slowed since draconian pitch counts became all the rage during the last decade-plus. It would be great if a brave baseball organization would follow the Packers' lead and put young throwers to work during spring training and "off" days.

    The Vikings have some pass-catchers with impressive size, particularly wide receiver Sidney Rice and tight end Visanthe Shiancoe, and those guys in particular were able to get away from the physical Packer secondary (speaking of which, extra-large Lion rookie tight end Brandon Pettigrew is going to be a problem in the division going forward - did you see the hands on that guy when he faced the Bears Sunday? Or does he have flippers under his giant gloves?).

    But it was good, old Bernard Berrian whose speed led to the biggest catch Monday. He got behind the Packer defense for the 31-yard score that made it 28-14.

    The Packers: How the heck did the Bears not score more on this team? And how did they allow the boys from Green Bay to so relentlessly pressure Jay Cutler?

    The Packers were toothless on defense for most of the night against Favre despite the Vikings never really establishing a running game. Then again, when Green Bay showed it would do whatever it took to stop Peterson, Minnesota quickly had Favre start firing away. Hopefully the Bears learned something from that. Then again, the Bears don't have any size in their receiver corps and until they get some, their wideouts will struggle to get away from a pair of Packer cornerbacks, Al Harris and Charles Woodson, who absolutely excel at disrupting passing plays at the line.

    Gruden made Packers' coach Mike McCarthy and defensive coordinator Dom Capers look bad with his critique of the team's pass-rushing strategy in its new 3-4 basic set. He pointed out that the biggest problem with going from a 4-3 to a 3-4 is that the Packers' best pass rusher, Aaron Kampman, now lines up at outside linebacker in a two-point stance. It was clear, repeatedly, that the Packers needed Kampman, who had 37 sacks the last three years, employing all of his best moves out of a three-point stance in a classic defensive end spot to generate at least a little pressure on Favre. Instead, the veteran who turns 40 later this month was rarely pressured and picked the Packers apart.

    The biggest problem for a team that was already shaky up front on offense is that it continues to lose linemen as fast as the Bears have been losing linebackers. It doesn't help that quarterback Aaron Rodgers can't seem to break the habit of hanging onto the ball too long and it therefore followed that Minnesota piled up the sacks. It appears that the Bear defensive end trio of Alex Brown, Adewale Ogunleye and Mark Anderson are fixin' to have a big year (they already had a great first quarter) and if the Packers don't improve, they will feast when the teams meet again late in the campaign.

    Let's go ahead and complete a tour around the NFC North with a few observations about the Bears versus the Lions.

    First and foremost and forevermore it must be noted that Bears special teams guru Dave Toub can coach a return. Can he ever!

    It is hard to imagine a team putting together a better game's worth of kick-receiving than did the Bears Sunday. It was the difference, plain and simple, in a game that otherwise would have been very close, no matter how much the defense (led by a great performance by Brown, Ogunleye and Anderson) bounced back in the second half and no matter how many points the offense scored.

    Other teams in previous years have scored more than one return touchdown in a game but how many times have teams recorded a half dozen big-time run-backs in one sixty-minute stretch? Even before Johnny Knox took the second half kick-off all the way (102 yards), he was taking a first quarter kick-off out past the 40. Later in the first half, first Devin Hester and then Earl Bennett (twice) took turns returning punts more than 20 yards. Later in the second half, Danieal Manning got in on the act, bringing a kick-off back beyond midfield.

    It is clear now that while the Bears may have had a whole series of great athletes with great skills and speed receiving kicks the last four years (since Hester arrived on the scene), they also employ great schemes and Toub is great at helping his players implement them. They aren't complicated. The big returns almost always involve either going hard to one side immediately and trying to give blockers a chance to set up a "picket fence" that seals defenders away from a returner's path up a sideline, or faking that move (and occasionally faking a sweep back the other way as well) and then finding a seam, making a defender or two miss and zipping through the middle.

    The talent involved must also receive its due. Bennett's two big punt returns were especially impressive (featuring slick little moves and some tough broken tackles) even if he didn't take them all the way. For his part, Manning's willingness and ability to reach top speed (and his top speed is right there with the fastest guys in the NFL) in a hurry enabled him to lead the league in that kickoff return average last year. He could do it again this year except the Bears want him focusing more on defense, and Knox's returns have been so good. And before he was hurt Sunday, Hester reminded us again why his is one of the top return men in NFL history on his one and only punt reception. These guys are all still developing as pass catchers and defenders but their capabilities.

    In conclusion, it was good to see talented reserve defensive back Corey Graham making the block that sprung Knox on the team's longest return journey in a while (and oh by the way Mr. Knox, thanks ever so much for not showboating in the final 20 yards or so of that run but next time, hold onto the ball a little longer after you cross the goal line would you? Thanks again).


    Jim Coffman rounds up the sports weekend in this space every Monday, except when he does it on Tuesday. He welcomes your comments.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:57 AM | Permalink

    The College Football Report

    By Mike Luce

    I'll keep the preamble to a minimum this week and get right to the recap of last week's action. Later this week, expect an update on a few issues that have caught our attention here at the Report. In the interim, we'd like to share with you the single best independent web site on college football: the full TV coverage schedule. I don't know anything about it, other than it seems to be manually compiled. I can't tell you how long I have been looking for a single list of every game broadcast on TV. It's the little things in life.


    Game: Utah State 17 @ #20 BYU 35 (-24)

    What was supposed to happen? BYU must feel like the door to a BCS bowl game is still ajar. The Cougars just need to tread water for a few more weeks. If TCU shows up on October 24 undefeated, BYU will have a shot. In the meantime, teams like Utah State keep making the trip to Fort Worth.

    What actually happened? While BYU kills time, they need to pay a little more attention week to week. Struggling a bit against the Utah State Aggies isn't a good way to regain national attention. Even if BYU pulls together for a run through TCU and the remainder of the schedule, they close the year at home with the Holy War. Yes, the BYU-Utah rivalry is known as The Holy War. That game will also be known as the 2009 Lock of the Year. Bet on the Mormons - you can't lose.


    Game: #3 Alabama 38 (-16.5) @ Kentucky 20

    What was supposed to happen? Looking ahead to this game through my Bluegrass-tinted glasses last week, I predicted an impressive showing by the Wildcats. A year ago, Alabama struggled to beat UK at home - a memory that should have given the Wildcats some confidence. Fresh off a humiliating defeat by Florida the week before, 68-year old Rich Brooks had plenty of ammunition for one of his trademark "Grandpa Didn't Get His Metamucil" tirades last week. If that doesn't motivate you, I don't know what will.

    What actually happened? After a three-year period of modest success, the Wildcats have sunk back into familiar territory: mediocrity. For Chicagoland readers, picture the Wildcats as the Cubs of the Southeastern Conference. Now strip away the bloated payroll. And the talent. Let's put it this way: the 'Cats committed four turnovers on Saturday and, in a little more than five minutes of game time, allowed twenty-four straight points. This is not a team you want to trust with your hard-earned money.


    Game: #4 LSU 20 @ #18 Georgia 13 (-3.5)

    What was supposed to happen?Did I say something about penalties last week? When predicting a Georgia win, I think I mentioned something about discipline. I don't know for sure, because I've been punching myself in the face since Saturday evening.

    What actually happened? The Bulldogs seized control of the game with a drive late in the fourth quarter. QB Joe Cox completed passes of 13 and 46 yards before connecting with WR A.J. Green for a 16-yard touchdown. In a controversial call, Green drew a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty while celebrating the catch. After failing to convert the two-point conversion, Georgia led by one point.

    The TV commentators picked up on the penalty issue and returned to an earlier quote by head coach Mark Richt, saying he didn't worry about penalties. Richt explained his reasoning by referencing his time at Florida State . . . where they don't worry about penalties either. Yes, FSU, that bastion of discipline under investigation for encouraging academic fraud by 61 student athletes in 10 different sports.

    Penalties after touchdowns are assessed on the ensuing kickoff, meaning Georgia was forced to kick from their own 15-yard line. On the kickoff, Georgia lined up in an illegal formation with only three players to the right of kicker Blair Walsh. Despite a 68-yard boot by Walsh, LSU return man Trindon Holliday sprinted up the left (surprise!) side of the field for 44 yards. Tacking on the formation penalty gave the Tigers the ball at the Georgia 38.

    If you spot your opponent 20 yards in a tight game, you deserve to lose. Georgia effectively conceded the winning field goal. When LSU RB Scott barged through would-be tacklers for a clinching TD instead, it seemed that much more fitting.


    Game: UC Davis 16 @ #5 Boise State 34 (n/a)

    What was supposed to happen? Well, Vegas didn't post a spread for this game, so . . .

    What actually happened? As you can tell from the score, Boise didn't dominate this game. Fortunately for the Broncos, virtually no one outside of Idaho saw the game. Here's a bit of Idaho trivia for you: The state slogan used to be "Famous Potatoes." Now, it's been jazzed up to "Great Potatoes. Tasty Destinations." I'll let that one sink in.


    Game: #6 Virginia Tech 34 (-17) @ Duke 26

    What was supposed to happen? Yes, Duke does field a football team. Every year, in fact. Surprised? For those of you unfamiliar with the football tradition at Duke, just picture Kentucky and then toss out the recent period of moderate success.

    What actually happened? Given this perspective, watching the score of this game unfold gave me a shock. God knows the last time Duke beat a ranked team. I'm going to chalk up the game as just one of those things.


    Game: #7 USC 30 (-5) @ #24 California 3

    What was supposed to happen? California desperately needed to post a win or at least a moral victory. After averaging nearly 50 points per game in the first three weeks, The Golden Bears posted three points on the road against Oregon in Week 4. USC showed up at a bad time.

    What actually happened? Cal may have slipped off a cliff. A few weeks ago, we mentioned in the Report that the Pac-10 title (and more) might go to the winner of this game. Then USC-Washington and Cal-Oregon happened. Thanks to fortunate scheduling, USC bounced back against Washington State but Cal was still wobbly and looked it.

    Up next, Cal must go on the road for a rivalry game at UCLA. The Bay Area media is letting Cal head coach Jeff Tedford have it. I can't imagine this is a happy time in Berkeley.

    Sidebar: Who is the most talented player playing on an unranked team? Cal's Jahvid Best? Clemson's CJ Spiller? (Spoiler alert!) Houston's Case Keenum? Discuss.


    Game: #8 Oklahoma 20 (-7.5) @ #17 Miami 21

    What was supposed to happen? Everyone continues to give Oklahoma a great deal of respect. The Sooners lost the defending Heisman winner weeks ago, yet manage to command a touchdown edge on the road. You'd think this would have set off a few more bells for me than it did.

    What actually happened? In retrospect, I regret focusing on the undefeated teams last weekend at the expense of other good picks. I enjoyed trying to spot the upset among the unbeaten Top 25 teams, but this took away from gathering data on games like OU-Miami. How could we consider Oklahoma a road favorite over another ranked team with The Pornstache at the helm? Seems unlikely.

    When will Sam Bradford return? He has had little time to spend with OU's current starters and even should he play this weekend against Baylor, he still might not be ready for the AT&T Red River Shootout. Only we're not to call it a Shootout. It's more like a Rivalry.

    At this point, the Sooners may have to be content with a spoiler role in the Big 12.


    Game: #9 Ohio State 33 (-18) @ Indiana 14

    What was supposed to happen? The Hoosiers looked positively frisky in Ann Arbor and while they fell short of the upset, a return home to face OSU could be a good test. I'm sure Ohio State would not approve of my reasoning, but IU could prove to be a useful measuring stick for the Big 10. Or maybe Michigan is too inconsistent for this approach to make sense. We'll see.

    What actually happened? The outcome of this game came as a shock to virtually no one. If you need some help visualizing the state of affairs in IU's football program, just picture Duke. Now take away the comforting knowledge for fans that at least the basketball team should be fun to watch.


    Game: #10 Cincinnati 37 (-29.5) @ Miami (OH) 13

    What was supposed to happen? While researching this game, I discovered that "bearcat" is another word for the Binturong, also known as the Asian Bearcat, the Palawan Bearcat, or just plain ol' Bearcat. Holy shit. I had no idea that the Bearcat was a real thing. I thought someone had dreamt it up, kind of like Boilermakers, Buckeyes, and cute Northwestern girls. The things we are all learning from Cincinnati's sudden emergence into the national spotlight. I tell you what.

    What actually happened? Cincinnati did not cover the spread. I'm told weather was involved.


    Game: Southern Methodist 14 @ #11 TCU 39 (-28)

    What was supposed to happen? Ah, Texas Christian University. The prodigal team returns, only to play a bunch of scrappy Methodists.

    What actually happened? After the game, to smooth things over the two teams exchanged water boys as a show of respect and trust. If all goes well, the water boys will be welcomed in by marrying an assistant trainer. However, no further details could be confirmed at press time.


    Game: #12 Houston 41 (-14.5) @ UTEP 58

    What was supposed to happen? After answering the call against Oklahoma State and Texas Tech, the Houston Cougars looked to chalk up a somewhat easier win against UTEP.

    What actually happened? The strength of Houston's out-of-conference schedule (also including a trip to Starkville next weekend to face Mississippi State) won the team some respect, but all of that now goes out the window. A few weeks ago, when discussing our "lose early" theory, we pointed to Houston as a team that would struggle to regain ground in the polls if they dropped a game later in the season. Now that the Cougars are prowling around outside the Top 25 (at #27), only a long string of wins will push them back up into the poll.


    Game: Arkansas State 21 @ #13 Iowa 24 (-21.5)

    What was supposed to happen? First, a housekeeping note: The two highest divisions in college football are referred to as the Football Bowl Subdivision and the Football Championship Division. For some reason, people felt that this naming convention and the corresponding acronyms (FBS, FCS) represented a cleaner approach than the old Division I-A or Division I-AA classifications. You can also think about the two divisions as Big Money and Small Money. Or as "The Division with the Post-Season Decided by the HAL 9000" and "The Other One."

    After a close game against Northern Iowa, a FCS school, the Hawkeyes swore they would not overlook the Arkansas State Red Wolves. (Big points for the mascot - the Red Wolves. Nice.)

    [CORRECTION: I didn't realize Arkansas State was an FBS school . . . and has been for some time. I am an idiot.]

    What actually happened? Iowa nearly fell into a classic trap game - just after an emotional win and right before a difficult game. But with Iowa already having been in this situation (more or less) once before this season, how is it possible that they nearly lost to a heavy underdog again? I am setting the Hawkeyes aside as unreliable until we have more data. The lesson from this game? Always go with your gut.


    Game: #15 Penn State 35 (-7.5) @ Illinois 17

    What was supposed to happen? After crapping out last week at home, the Nittany Lions probably appreciated the chance to get out of town. Ron Zook and the struggling Illini made a perfect host.

    What actually happened? I'm sad to see Juice Williams on the bench. The guy has come too far to deserve to take the fall for this team. Granted, he has not played well, but I'm tempted to point the blame at the coaching staff. Maybe Zook can invest in some world-class position coaches and spend a little less time on his only apparent passion - recruiting.


    Game: Washington State 6 @ #16 Oregon 52 (-35)

    What was supposed to happen? I am going to take a pass on this game. I feel bad for Washington State. The Football Gods seem deeply unhappy with the Cougars.

    What actually happened? See above. You sick bastards.


    Game: #21 Mississippi 23 (-10) @ Vanderbilt 7

    What was supposed to happen? A few weeks ago, Ole Miss crashed out of the Top 5. Slowly but surely, the Rebels have been regrouping. At Vandy, they have been regrouping for the past twenty years or so.

    What actually happened? I found this game so uninteresting that I'm going to share this nugget of Vandy trivia instead: in 2003 the university became the only NCAA-1A (now FBS) school to eliminate the athletics department. Rather than have an Athletic Director, the varsity teams now fold into the Office of Student Life. I love this idea as it saves costs, reduces bureaucracy, and prevents retired coaches from lingering on as a glorified assistant coach/Athletics Director. That said, such a bloodless coup isn't possible at most other FBS schools.


    Game: #22 Michigan 20 @ Michigan State 26 (-3.5)

    What was supposed to happen? Intense rivalry game? Turnovers by the QB? Inability to stop the run?

    What actually happened? Check. Check - but MSU's quarterbacks threw 3 INTs to Forcier's single (yet costly) pick. Check - but again, Michigan had the more impressive running game. Apart from time of possession (which was a significant edge), Michigan's stats in the game look respectable - at least good enough to lead you to believe that the Wolverines, and not the Spartans, had squeaked out the game. Games like this make me realize that even successful picks can come down to a coin flip.


    Game: #25 Georgia Tech 42 (-6) @ Mississippi State 31

    What was supposed to happen? We discovered last week that Georgia Tech belongs in the Top 25. While the Yellow Jackets were overrated at the beginning of the season, the 20ish spot in the Poll seems about right. Mississippi State can challenge almost any team in the Top 25, but is probably still a year or two away from belonging to the club.

    What actually happened? Georgia Tech fared even better than some others (notably LSU) at Starkville. Houston's visit this weekend should be interesting as well. The Bulldogs seem to make most of the right plays, most of the time, but miss too often to win. The question will be, does MSU have room to improve this season or will it take a full off-season (and a recruiting class by Dan Mullen) before they make the leap.


    Mike "Chief" Luce brings you The College Football Report in this space twice a week. He welcomes your comments.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:16 AM | Permalink

    The Cub Factor

    By Marty Gangler

    Now that's more like it. This is the kind of October I remember. Who really wants the hand-wringing and stress involved in a playoff series? I mean, c'mon, we're in a recession people. Who can afford playoff tickets?

    And what if the Cub actually got further than the first round, or dare I say the championship series, or even the big one? Think about how many more people would go absolutely broke mortgaging everything for a chance to see the Cubs in the World Series. It would be pretty bad for a lot of people - not to mention the disappointment if they inched closer to the ring and got knocked out. People these days have enough things to worry about, that would put them over the edge.

    No, this is a good thing. This I can handle. I don't need a wife at home who doesn't want to watch a playoff game with me because I am "WAY to into it." How many marriages could handle another post-season series loss? How many dogs will now be saved from being kicked?

    And now the expectations are back to "they suck and need a new manager." I can totally handle that. It's my comfort zone; my groove. I'm better off. Because expecting them to win is like waiting for the Christmas that never comes. Like what if you just know that Santa is going to bring you that new bike this year and you are super pumped. Your dad is dropping hints about how he talked to Santa around Thanksgiving and that they had a conversation about a certain chrome alloy frame and yellow mag wheels. And then Christmas morning your mom and dad decide that your family no longer celebrates holidays. It's like that for Cub Fans. It's the Christmas that never comes. But who knows, you're dad might change his mind next year.


    Season In Review: A bad off-season, a sleepy old manager, lazy/crazy players, and some injuries that didn't help made this season a horrendous disappointment.

    Next Season in Preview: This team needs an overhaul, a facelift, and an enema. Cubs Fever, catch it!

    The Second Basemen Report: As promising as the second base position looked at one point (when it seemed like everyone would get a turn) we only ended up with six different second basemen this season. The player who rose above the heaping pile of "eh" at second was Jeff Baker. Look for Jeff to begin the season at second base for the Cubs and be supplanted by a guy no one would ever think of. What may have been more interesting was that there were nine different third basemen. Now that's fun! Just like Jim Hendry drew it up.

    In former second basemen news, Mark DeRosa did what he always does, help his team win. Ronnie Cedeno did what he always does, disappoint his employers. They are both missed. 2010 note: Look for Mike Fontenot here next season . . .

    The Zam Bomb: Big Z still has some wick left but (as always) it's up to him light the fuse. He'll remain furious until he figures it out.


    Lost in Translation: Same-io same-io is Japanese for wait til next year.

    Endorsement No-Brainer: Tom Ricketts for Cash for Clunkers.

    Milton Bradley Game of the Week: The On the Go Travel Games set. Because he's going to need them.

    Sweet and Sour Lou: 61% sweet, 39% sour. Lou moves up one point on the Sweet-O-Meter due to not having to look at this team for a few months. And just like your real crazy drunk uncle, Lou is glad you kids are back to school because even though he was drunk most of the time and didn't care what you did, you would always finish the all the mashed potatoes at dinner and that got annoying. So now he can eat as many potatoes as he wants without worrying about not having enough.

    Don't Hassle the Hoff: Being on this team is a hassle so give the kid a break and stop it! Move him somewhere else.

    Over/Under: Games before Lou is fired next season: +/- 45.

    Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by the The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that "what are you gunna do?" is not an acceptable answer for every question.

    The Cub Factor: Unlike Soriano, you can catch 'em all!

    The White Sox Report: Now with a weekly Cubs Snub.

    The Mount Lou Alert System: Mount Lou is no longer a mountain or even a prairie. It is now a parking lot. And a parking lot where Lou has free parking because no one wants any problems collecting money.



    Contact The Cub Factor!

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:16 AM | Permalink

    October 5, 2009

    The [Monday] Papers

    By Steve Rhodes

    The bid is over, but the madness remains.

    1. "If the International Olympics Committee had given the 2016 games to Chicago, you can be sure Mayor Daley would accept a full share of the credit," the Tribune's Steve Chapman writes. "But when Chicago had lost, he was not eager to take responsibility. He said he wouldn't do anything differently. And he put the blame somewhere else: on the news media. Journalists in Rio de Janeiro, he claimed, were fully behind their city's bid, while the Chicago press was not.

    "Oh, please. Both the Tribune and the Sun-Times endorsed the bid in their editorial pages. The local TV stations, in the coverage I saw, were positively boosterish. A few churlish pundits like myself disagreed. But I'd be surprised if anyone at the IOC cares what we think.

    "True, the Chicago news media did treat the bid as a legitimate story deserving the same scrutiny as any other public endeavor, rather than serving as mindless shills for the cause. But that's the role of honest news media. I haven't been following the Brazilian press, but I suspect Daley hasn't either. I strongly doubt that the support among journalists was as vocal and universal as he believes.

    "His real model apparently comes from the Beijing Olympics, which the Chinese government was able to pursue without the inconvenience of a free and independent press. Democracy can be such a drag."

    Except Chapman is wrong about the mindless shills thing. Mindless shilling was at an all-time high.

    2. "There's one lingering question about President Barack Obama's visit to Copenhagen to lobby for Chicago's 2016 Olympic bid," Sara Murray writes on the Wall Street Journal's Real Time Economics blog. "Why would any city want to host them?

    "'Obviously any Olympics showcases the country that those Olympics are in and there's a tangible economic benefit to those Games being here,' Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said in a briefing Monday.

    "Except that's not exactly true."

    Readers of The Beachwood Reporter know this, but word still hasn't reached our city's esteemed commentators, including Richard Roeper, Neil Steinberg and Chris Jones, who today once again parrot the myth of jobs that the Games would have magically brought. I'm not even going to link. It just makes me tired.


    "Many traders on the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade started clapping and cheering when they learned Chicago was out," the Wall Street Journal reports. "The news broke on a big television screen that hovers over the open-outcry pits. Many traders were worried that costs would spin out of control and residents would be left holding the bag."

    3. Do Olympic Host Cities Ever Win?

    4. "Robert Fioretti, Scott Waguespack, and Joe Moore, for starters, have all told me the mayor made it clear he would never forgive or forget anyone who came out against the games," Ben Joravsky writes. "He wanted an unblemished vote, and he got it."

    5. From the Toni Preckwinkle campaign:

    "Alderman Toni Preckwinkle, candidate for Cook County Board President, and a key figure in the 2016 bid process, argued that the city's effort to host the Olympics has galvanized support for much-needed development plans. 'This has been a great opportunity for the region to look at long term economic planning issues. We've begun to create a vision for what Chicago should look like 6 to 8 years down the line, and we will continue to work toward that future'."

    Only if we still believe Chicago ought to have a velodrome in its future.

    6. From Pat Quinn:

    "People from across our state came together in an unprecedented manner to support this excellent bid."

    Well, 47 percent of them did.

    7. From Dan Hynes:

    "Like most Chicagoans, I am disappointed in the IOC's decision."

    If by "most" you mean 47 percent.

    8. One report I saw over the weekend said that Chicago2016 stopped polling because they didn't like the direction things were going, but that the IOC did their own polls and likely found support even worse than the 47 percent reported by the last Tribune poll.

    9. From my Facebook friends:

    * "In a related story, Taste of Chicago 2010 just awarded to Brussels."

    * "Please return to your regularly scheduled city."

    * "Still in the running for the 2018 Goodwill Games!!!"

    10. Chicago 2016's Next Move.

    11. Here's a thought: Maybe our bid was the worst.

    12. Tom Tresser for mayor?

    13. "How is it possible that the hordes of visitors produced by an event of this magnitude don't wind up benefiting the local economy?" economist Victor Matheson asked in 2005 after New York City lost its bid for the 2012 Olympics.

    And then he answered.

    14. Has there ever been a case of more experts on one side and more journalists on the other as there is about the economic impact of hosting the Olympics? And what do the journalists base their insight on? What City Hall tells them.

    15. Song of the Moment: Rio.

    16. Oh, and about Atlanta.


    The Beachwood Tip Line: Economically beneficial.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:29 AM | Permalink

    October 4, 2009

    The Pothole Bears

    By George Ofman

    If the Bears have proven anything after four games, it's that they're 3-1, still a mystery, a bit lucky and perhaps, a bit overrated.

  • Chicago 2016's Next Move
  • The White Sox Report
  • The Cub Factor will appear Tuesday

  • Deception works for magicians, not football teams.

    If scoring 48 points against the Lions is a measuring stick, the Bears best find a longer stick. Better yet, they might find answers to a big problem.

    It's called big plays . . . not theirs, but the oppositions'.

    When a rookie quarterback on a bad team engineers of drives of 72, 73 and 95 yards, someone has to take notice. When that same quarterback throws 18 passes of 10 or more yards, someone has to be responsible. This would be the head coach who happens to be the defensive coordinator of a team that allowed nearly enough acreage to declare a state park. Whether Lovie Smith also is in charge of dumb penalties is a matter pending.

    He's not in charge of injuries and right now the Bears have enough to demand health insurance reform.

    The bottom line is the record, and 3-1 is better than 2-2 or 1-3. You don't get style points for advancing to the playoffs.

    But the road the Bears are traveling on looks eerily like any Chicago street come April.

    Potholes have been known to cause detours and damage. Right now, the Bears' secondary has potholes.

    So does the offensive line. Let's just say the Bears are lucky Jay Cutler doesn't have a stretcher with his name stenciled on it waiting on the sidelines. Offensive line coach Harry Heistand calls his weighty group "a work in progress." Let's hope Cutler doesn't have to pay for this progress.

    It's great to have Johnny Knox run 102 yards on a kickoff return. And it's beneficial for Danieal Manning and Earl Bennett to more than adequately replace an injured Devin Hester on punt returns. It's vital to have Matt Forte break runs of 61 and 37 yards even if the rest of his jaunts were too short to garner a sweat. It's crucial to win the turnover battle. And to have field position handed to you as if it was a winning lottery ticket doesn't hurt.

    But these are the Lions, not the Steelers or Seahawks or Packers . . . or anyone else left on the Bears schedule save for the Lions one more time.

    The bye week couldn't come at a better time, not just for the ailing to heal but for the coaching staff to re-evaluate even if the record says 3-1.

    Can you cover up the cover 2? Maybe the Bears should hire an interior decorator to give it a better look. Matthew Stafford had no problem dissecting this defense. He would have thrown for well over 300 yards had it not been for an injury. Neither did Seahawks backup Seneca Wallace. How do you think Matt Ryan might fare? He's followed on the schedule by Carson Palmer.

    This is not to suggest the Bears won't beat the Falcons and Bengals, though both are road games. The Bears are blitzing as if it's 6 a.m. and Walmart just put iPhones on sale. The rush is relentless.

    And it's not to deem a disaster this defense that is supposed to allow quarterbacks to fatten stats. But the Bears do not possess Pro Bowl defenders at corner or safety. And, in the first half against the Lions, they were left looking like yesterday morning's toast next to cold coffee.

    It's just that we've seen this before, namely last season. And if I recollect correctly, the Bears finished 9-7 and missed the playoffs.

    History bears reviewing, not repeating.

    At least the Bears defense adjusted for a less-than-mediocre first half by putting a halt to the Lions long marches down the field. Perhaps this had to do with what a seething Lovie Smith told his team at halftime. "He was hot," said Adawale Ogunleye.

    The Bears are hot when you consider they've won three in a row. Now they get an extra week to rest, rejuvenate and consider how to score first, something they have yet to do this season.


    George Ofman, an original member of The Score and a veteran of NPR, has covered more than 3,500 sporting events over the course of his career. Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:29 PM | Permalink

    Chicago 2016's Next Move

    By The Beachwood Civic Pride Affairs Desk

    Now that Chicago 2016's Olympic bid has been smacked down worse than Lindsay Lohan's debut at Fashion World in Paris, many commentators are musing about how to keep the local organizing committee together and redirect its mission toward something good and not evil. Here are some of our suggestions .

    * Chicago's Checkbook 2016. Dedicated to balancing the city's budget within seven years.

    * Chicago 20-16. Balance the city's budget by letting the remaining money in the bank ride the next time the Bears' line is 3 1/2.

    * Chicago 20/20. Dedicated to finding a vision for the city that isn't about Daley cronies cashing in.

    * Chicago 16 to 20. Dedicated to imposing this new sentencing guideline to all city employees convicted of mail fraud.

    * Chicago Cubs 2016. Dedicated to winning a World Series on the North Side within seven seasons.

    * Chicago $2,016. Dedicated to exposing the aldermen who can bought for this paltry sum.

    * Chicago 3016. Any Olympic organizing committee can have a bad century.

    * Cleveland 2020. Even they can do better than 18 first-round votes.

    * Blago 2016. He'll be out of prison by then and running for mayor.

    * Chicago 2018. There's always the Winter Olympics.


    Your suggestions welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:03 PM | Permalink

    The White Sox Report

    By Andrew Reilly

    Winning? Keeping division rivals from advancing through key moments? Who do these White Sox think they are? How dare they not sputter out and die like any self-respecting loser would?

    Oh, sure, there are those lovely sound bites about fighting to the end, respecting the game, et al et cetera, which all certainly sounds cool but you know when fighting and winning would've sounded even cooler? August.

    So we leave this season on a relatively high note the way we want to, so full of hope at what this recent burst of baseball vitality suggests, but also down and out because, you know, they were terrible. And they pretty much always were, even when they were good. Yes, there were those few days they spent at the top, but what good did any of that get them?

    Mark Buehrle didn't throw a perfect game because the 2009 Sox were a good team.

    Gordon Beckham didn't shine as a rookie because the 2009 Sox were a good team.

    Jake Peavy didn't end up in Chicago because the 2009 Sox were a good team.

    But the Sox, those marginally useless and mostly non-spectacular Sox we just spent the past six months cheering and cursing, showed us once and for all that, in baseball, teamwork trumps all. Because while any individual good came about in spite of the Sox, they ended up with nothing to show for the season for the exact same reason: the 2009 Sox didn't finish in a sub-.500 third place by being a good team. But you know that already. And, I suspect, so do they.


    Week in Review: Final. Take two of three twice, and all for naught to finish out on a 4-2 run.

    Week in Preview: For the first time since June 27 through July 3 of this year, the White Sox will go a full seven days without losing a game.

    Winter in Preview: Look for the Sox to shop for more speed, a stronger outfield defense, and some significant bullpen upgrades. Just like last year. And the year before. And the year before. And probably just like next year, too.

    October Bandwagon Jumping: As a way of saying thanks for the hate crime they perpetrated against the Cubs last fall, the laughable hostility of their fan base, and for possibly representing Jim Thome's last shot at a World Series ring, The White Sox Report gives its full endorsement to the Los Angeles Dodgers this post-season.

    The Q Factor: Having finally presented the findings of his latest study, On the Molecular Symbiosis of Inconsistent Matter Structures as Applied to Pollutant Reduction for Low-Altitude Ecosystems, Carlos Quentin now turns his attention to restoring the nation's economic foundation and rebuilding the confidence of both consumers and businesses before cooling the situations with Iran and North Korea.

    A report from the Harvard Business School estimates these problems' resolution will boost Quentin's slugging percentage by at least 220 points, although Quentin later expanded upon their findings and increased the projection to 223. "I find that number, 223, to be quite fascinating," Quentin told the Glasgow Mathematical Journal. "It's a prime, but it also equals the number of primes and composites which cannot be expressed as the sum of two primes. What's more, 223 is also the smallest of the three-digit primes, which shows a certain numerical tenacity which I hope to reflect in my contributions to White Sox baseball, and its digits also surface in the names of my two favorite characters from the Star Wars universe: R2-D2 and C-3PO. Man, I love those guys!"

    Ye Olde Walnut Factory: Paul Konerko, 2009: .277 average, .352 on-base percentage, .492 slugging percentage, 28 homers, 88 driven in. Paul Konerko, career 162-game average: .277 average, .352 on-base percentage, .491 slugging percentage, 31 home runs, 100 driven in. Paul Konerko is everything you expect him to be, and even a little less.

    That's Ozzie!: "Can I say something from the bottom of my heart? It's about time."

    - Guillen on Alex Rios's excellent Saturday, although the subtext is laugh-out-loud funny.

    The Guillen Meter: Despite the season resulting in failure and uselessness, The Guillen Meter reads an optimistic 8 for "Wait until you see my Halloween costume: I'm going as Buzz Lightyear!"

    Center Stage: Will Alex Rios be the answer to the center field question the Sox have been asking since 2006? Probably not, but it's nice to hope so anyway.

    South Side Arms Race: Hard to believe, but Sox pitchers posted the second-lowest collective ERA in the American League this year; just imagine what it would've been without the terrible defense behind them! Still, with a front line of Mark Buehrle, John Danks, Gavin Floyd, and Jake Peavy, the Sox should theoretically have a rotation to rival the best of them in 2010. Then again, we said the same thing about the five-headed Buehrle/Contreras/Garcia/Garland/Vazquez monster going into 2006; in the spirit of disastrous history not repeating itself, The White Sox Report would like to pre-emptively anoint the 2010 White Sox rotation as the worst of all time.

    Underclassmen Update: We celebrate Gordon Beckham's sub-Podsian on-base percentage yet ridicule Chris Getz as he outperforms Alex Rios. Sometimes I don't understand Sox fans.

    Alumni News You Can Use: Non-All Star Nicky the Swish heads to the playoffs on the Yankees' coattails while Javy the Squeeze will probably earn a Cy Young vote or two after putting up another stellar year for a team that had no use for such things. Formerly reviled Sox relievers Mike MacDougal and David Aardsma became top-flight closers for the Nationals and Mariners, respectively, while their South Side replacements took their place as reviled Sox relievers. Meanwhile, out west, former Hall of Fame outfielder Aaron Rowand's numbers continue to slide closer to those of future Hall of Fame outfielder Brian Anderson. The White Sox Report hopes to spend 2010 keeping tabs on future former Sox DeWayne Wise and Scott Linebrink, both of whom took the mantle as heirs to the Anderson/Swisher/MacDougal empires.

    Endorsement No-Brainer: The 2009 White Sox season for British glamour model Katie Price's hilariously brief marriage: Thank God it's over.

    Hawkeroo's Can-O-Corn Watch: Well, sometimes you get teams like our Sox that look like they should keep playing into October and don't, and other times you get teams that no one, I mean no one thinks would still be around and those are the teams you have to watch out for. It's like one of my old teammates, a pitcher named Ray Jarvis, told me, he said "Hawk, sometimes we just don't know what's happening out there." And I tell you something, that's exactly what we had here with our Sox: you just never knew.

    Cubs Snub: Using their stupid slogan against Cub fans never gets old. Ever. When you sign a volatile, terrible outfielder, it's gonna happen. When you psychotically expect your entire pitching staff to repeat their career years, it's gonna happen. When you somehow find the hubris to write off the entire division before the season even starts, it's gonna happen. When your front office makes idiotic moves just for the sake of making any kind of moves, it's gonna happen. Because when it's gonna happen, it's gonna happen - no matter what it is, and no matter who you root for.

    The White Sox Report: Read 'em all.

    The Cub Factor: Know your enemy.


    The White Sox Report welcomes your comments.


    Andrew Reilly is the managing editor of The 35th Street Review and a contributor to many fine publications.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:46 PM | Permalink

    Song of the Moment: Rio

    By The Beachwood Nolympics Affairs Desk

    "Rio" is not just the name of the hit Duran Duran song, but the name of the 1982 album that peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard chart and eventually went double platinum. But we'll confine ourselves here to the song.


    Released: November 1, 1982 (U.K); March 1983 (U.S.)

    Length: 5:38 (4:40 7" edit)

    Label: EMI

    B Side: "Hold Back the Rain"

    Charts: Reached No. 14 in the U.S. on the Billboard Hot 100

    Covers: Nirvana performed the song during the Hollywood Rock show in Brazil, on January 16, 1993.

    Wikipedia: "The song . . . was inspired when Duran Duran toured Brazil and decided to write a song about their experiences there; however, the song references the Rio Grande which forms the border between Texas and Mexico (and is part of the names 'Rio de Janeiro,' 'Rio Grande do Norte' and 'Rio Grande do Sul,' three Brazilian states)."


    "The musical hook for "Rio," well-known among Duran Duran fans and synthesizer enthusiasts, was produced by an arpeggiator - a software tool which can play the individual notes in a chord in a chosen pattern."


    "Nick Rhodes created the unusual sound at the beginning of the song by throwing several small metal rods onto the strings of a grand piano in the studio. The recorded sound was then reversed to create the intro. The laughter on the track was that of Rhodes' girlfriend at the time."

    Songfacts: "On the VH1 show True Spin, Duran Duran explained that Rio is a metaphor for America, and the song expressed their desire to succeed there, which they did. The wordplay is interesting, as Rio is sung as if it's a girl's name, and the word conjures images of the popular and glamorous Brazilian city, which goes with the exotic image the band was cultivating. The lyrics clearly state, however, 'from mountains in the North down to the Rio Grande,' which is the span of America. The Rio Grande river separates the US from Mexico."

    Video: "Director Russell Mulcahy filmed the vivid music video for 'Rio,' which featured iconic images of the band in Antony Price suits, singing and playing around on a yacht speeding over the crystal blue Caribbean Sea. Short segments show band members trying to live out their assorted daydreams, only to be teased, tormented, and made fools of by a body-painted vixen (played by a London model credited as 'Reema')."

    "Director Mulcahy originally planned a scene where the band members got chased off the island by people wielding guns, but didn't have enough film footage left to shoot this. He had to borrow a tourist's camera to shoot the part of Nick Rhodes playing a saxophone on a raft."


    Moving on the floor now babe, you're a bird of paradise
    Cherry ice cream smile. I suppose its very nice
    With a step to your left and a flick to the right
    You catch the mirror way out west
    You know you're something special and you look like you're the best.

    Her name is Rio and she dances on the sand
    Just like that river twisting through a dusty land
    And when she shines she really shows you all she can
    Oh Rio Rio dance across the Rio Grande

    I've seen you on the beach, and I've seen you on TV
    Two of a billion stars, it means so much to me
    Like a birthday or a pretty view
    But then I'm sure that you know it's just for you.

    Her name is Rio and she dances on the sand
    Just like that river twisting through a dusty land
    And when she shines she really shows you all she can
    Oh Rio Rio dance across the Rio Grande

    Hey now (woo!) look at that
    Did he nearly run you down?
    At the end of the drive, the lawmen arrive,
    You make me feel alive, alive, alive
    I'll take my chance, cause luck is on my side or something
    I know what you're thinking
    I tell you something, I know what you're thinking

    Her name is Rio and she dances on the sand
    Just like that river twists across a dusty land
    And when she shines she really shows you all she can
    Oh Rio Rio dance across the Rio Grande

    Her name is Rio, she don't need to understand
    And I might find her if I'm looking like I can
    Oh Rio, Rio. hear them shout across the land
    From mountains in the north down to the Rio Grande

    (Do do do do do do do do do do do do do do do do do do do do do do)

    YouTube: 2003 Digital Remaster (embedding disabled by request)

    From a 2008 Classic Albums DVD:


    Previously in Song of the Moment:
    * Iron Man
    * The Story of Bo Diddley
    * Teach Your Children
    * Dream Vacation
    * When The Levee Breaks
    * I Kissed A Girl
    * Theme From Shaft
    * Rocky Mountain High
    * North to Alaska
    * Barracuda
    * Rainy Days and Mondays
    * Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?
    * Baby, It's Cold Outside
    * Man in the Mirror
    * Birthday Sex

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:06 PM | Permalink

    October 3, 2009

    The Weekend Desk Report

    By Natasha Julius

    Why are we even here? It's not like anything exciting ever happens in this boring little shit town anyway.

    Market Update
    Reaction was mixed this week as Dimples announced strong short-term earnings in an uncertain economy. While the public has clearly embraced the news, analysts warn Dimples' rapid capacity expansion will have long-term impacts.

    Bridge Report
    In a tense rubber that saw North spectacularly overbid, South proved once and for all that Pele trumps Oprah.

    Wait a minute . . . does this mean we won't be getting our CTA ponies?

    Oh, right. Ponies weren't exactly a priority anyway.

    For that matter, neither was paying people. Or serving and protecting them.

    Buck up, Chicago. We may well be the most embarrassing place on earth right now, but we're far from being the most devastated.

    Posted by Natasha Julius at 8:53 AM | Permalink

    October 2, 2009

    The [Friday] Papers

    By Steve Rhodes

    * "It's fair to say that the bulk of the serious studies on the costs and benefits of the Olympics suggest that, in terms of direct benefits, they are unambiguous money losers," says Mark Spiegel, vice president for economic research at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.

    * "There has never been an Olympic Games that has made a profit," says Robert Barney, director of the International Centre for Olympic Studies at the University of Western Ontario.

    * "No reasonable person thinks that the direct benefits of hosting the Olympic Games or any other mega event cover the costs," concludes Andrew Rose, an economist at the Haas School of Business at the University of California in Berkeley.

    But John Williams on WGN-AM yesterday wanted to know why anyone should listen to me, just some guy with a website.

    Because I'm just making this stuff up out of thin air?

    You get paid the big bucks, John. Do your homework.


    And that goes for the bulk of the local media. Maybe take some extension classes to bone up on how to do your job.


    Eric Zorn comes out in favor of the Chicago bid today because, well, it's like raising children: a bad investment but so full of love!

    A horrid analogy. Let's try this one: What if all available data showed that raising your child in a certain way - let's say, allowing the kid to drink beer at breakfast - has always produced a criminal in the past. Would you raise your child that way anyway because Pat Ryan paid Hill & Knowlton millions of dollars to convince you that this time you could get it right?


    Welcome to Alice in Daleyland.


    "Yet, [economic impact studies produced by bid committees] are cheerful documents," Anne Elizabeth Moore writes. "Chicago's, for example, comes with the Chicago 2016 logo right on it, and opens with a downright ridiculous overview of the wonders of the Athens, Sydney and Atlanta Games before claiming to be an independent report. (All of these were, by most economists' accounts, sheer disasters.) Who, I ask University of Chicago sports economist Allen Sanderson, created this report?

    "'If you make a list of the hundred people that you should go to to get an impact study done, these guys would not have made my list,' he says. 'They wouldn't have made anybody's list . . . I have been puzzled as to why a reasonably high quality group such as Chicago 2016 would turn so far away from the mainstream to get this report.

    "'In my guilty-until-proven innocent approach,' he suggests, 'it was because these are the only two guys who are willing to say this'."


    "But, Sanderson explains, [the facts] rarely affect the public perception of the bid. When economists start questioning the numbers in economic impact statements, bid committees 'come back and say, Well it's not about money, it's about community investment.'

    "So, it's all about the numbers - until it isn't anymore."

    Then it's about loving your children.


    If there was ever a day to take out the trash, today is it.


    I've adjusted the odds of Chicago getting the Games upward again today. But maybe in second- or third-round voting the others will band against us.


    You're either for the Billy Decs of the world or against them.


    The Bears prepare for the Olympics, Beachwood-style.


    I'll have something about the decision on once it's made.


    "City's failed [1952] try for the Summer Olympics included a Tribune reporter delivering the final pitch in Stockholm."

    So nothing much has changed.


    How dare bloggers not adhere to the standards professional journalists have maintained for decades!


    Rupert Murdoch: "In spite of all the propaganda and everything - I don't want to call anybody a liar - but no one's ever made any money out of them."


    "[Jarrett] said a recent Tribune/WGN poll, showing only 47 percent of Chicago residents supported Mayor Richard Daley's Olympic plans, was outdated in the wake of a 49-0 vote by the City Council to sign the host-city contract for the Games."

    Yes. Now only 27 percent support the bid.


    "Jarrett just told the online magazine Around the Rings that Chicago could deliver games on time, on budget and free of corruption. She said in the interview that she was 'very confident' that would happen because the right checks and balances would be in place."

    Just one more question, Valerie Jessup. If Richard M. Daley is an honest man and his rule of the city is tighter than Pat Ryan's sphincter, why would you need the right checks and balances in place to make sure the games are delivered on time, on budget and free of corruption?


    A Chicago Thing


    The Beachwood Tip Line: Outrageous.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:57 AM | Permalink

    An Olympic Enemies List

    By The Beachwood Enemies Of Real Chicagoans Bureau

    Nightclub impresario and celebrity ass-nuzzler Billy Dec, who thinks kickn it with Paris Hilton is something to brag about, put together a series of videos from the most noxious Hollywood types who for some reason supported bringing the Olympics here at our expense. Instant enemies list! (You can find the videos at A Chicago Thing, which accurately describes Dec.)

    1. David Schwimmer

    2. Jeremy Piven

    3. Jamie Foxx

    4. Dan Aykroyd

    5. Rachael Ray

    6. George Lopez

    7. Common

    8. William Petersen

    9. Kate Walsh

    10. Nick "America's Got Talent" Cannon

    11. Zach Braff

    12. David Cook

    13. Michelle Williams

    14. Jimmy Fallon

    15. Michael Clarke "Green Mile" Duncan

    16. Brody Jenner

    17. Sophia "One Tree Hill" Bush

    18. John Legend

    19. Sean "Will & Grace" Hayes

    20. Questlove

    21. Andrew "Bizarre Foods" Zimmern

    22. George Wendt

    23. S. Epatha "Law & Order" Merkerson

    24. Plain White Ts

    25. Dwyane Wade

    26. Daniel "Rescue Me" Sunjata

    27. Tom Thayer

    28. Joey Slotnick

    29. Luol Deng

    30. Peter "House" Jacobson

    31. Brian Urlacher

    32. Nadine "My Name is Earl" Velazquez

    33. Jay Mariotti

    34. "Musicians" Josh Kelley/Ryan Cabrera

    35. Anna Chlumsky

    36. Jermaine Dye

    37. Joel "Good Charlotte" Madden

    38. Randy Wells

    39. Andy Richter

    40. "Greek" Spencer Grammer

    41. Simeon Rice

    42. Christina "90210" Moore

    43. Larenz Tate

    44. "Roller Derby" The Chicago Outift

    45. "At The Movies"

    46. Bill Bellamy

    47. "Greek" Scott Michael Foster

    48. The Luvabulls

    49. Frankie "Malcolm in The Middle" Muniz

    50. Reid "My Boys" Scott

    51. Katie "Melrose Place" Cassidy

    52. Joe Mategna

    53. Busta Rhymes

    54. The Kardashians

    55. Jermaine Dupri

    56. Sylvia "WNBA Star" Fowles

    57. Billy Bush

    58. Joel McHale

    59. David "Bones" Boreanez

    60. John "The Office" Krasinski

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:24 AM | Permalink

    The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report: Olympic Edition

    By Eric Emery

    By the time this is posted, we will know if Chicago has won the 2016 Summer Olympics and the subsequent city budget deficit. Given that these Olympics are seven years away, some Bears players are starting to train for their favorite current and former Olympic events.

    The Undefeateds:
  • In The College Football Report

  • Event: 3000 Meter Steeplechase
    Player: Lance Briggs
    Why: Showed agility in running past obstacles such as a crashed car, retaining walls, fences, and police questions.


    Event: Two-Hand Deadlift
    Player: Jay Cutler
    Why: Strong enough to carry the whole offense.


    Event: One-Hand Deadlift
    Player: Jay Cutler
    Why: Can simultaneously lift two beers with one hand.


    Event: 3,000 Meter Walk
    Player: Matt Forte
    Why: Not ready for the 3,000 Meter Run yet.


    Event: Sailing
    Player: Tommie Harris
    Why: Event last offered in 1908, which seems like the last time Harris tackled anyone.


    Event: Water Polo
    Player: All injured Bears linebackers
    Why: Water exercise is very therapeutic.


    Event: Tug of War
    Player: Bears offensive line
    Why: They seem to exert a lot of effort for little movement.


    Event: Softball
    Player: Brian Urlacher
    Why: Apparently this is the only type of question worthy of him answering.


    Event: Team Rackets
    Team: The Bears
    Why: It's a racket that this team is 2-1.


    Lions at Bears

    Storyline: NFL North teams collide. Collide might be a nice word, given if the Bears collide, they probably will get hurt, and outside of last week, Detroit usually misses. Otherwise, we have one to six Olympic puns as well.

    Reality: Christ Almighty, I guess I need to start respecting the team. Ick.

    Prediction: Bears Minus 10 points, Over 39 Points Scored


    Record: 1-3


    Sugar in the Blue & Orange Kool-Aid: 65%
    Recommended sugar in the Blue & Orange Kool-Aid: 55%


    For more Emery, please see the Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report archives and the Over/Under collection. He welcomes your comments.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:19 AM | Permalink

    The College Football Report

    By Mike Luce

    We are celebrating an important event here at the Report. Beginning today, we can enjoy an entire weekend of Top 25 action . . . without the University of Florida. That's right, it's a Gator-Free Weekend. Never fear, commentators will work in Tim Tebow references whenever possible. But for now, while Florida enjoys the week off (and Tebow clears the cobwebs upstairs), we have an opportunity to assess the other undefeated teams in the Top 25.

    I doubt any of the following teams will stay undefeated. I recognize few teams, even national champions, finish the season with zero losses. Thus, picking against Michigan (4-0) or Iowa (4-0) isn't going too far out on a limb. Although Alabama (4-0), LSU (4-0), Cincinnati (4-0) and TCU (3-0) might look solid, don't be surprised to see a major upset this weekend. Again.

    In a few weeks, we can begin to debate the Byzantine system used by college football to rank the most elite teams. (Yes, another poll! Except the HAL 9000 runs this version.) But for now, we can see the question answered on the field.

    Just for kicks this week, I'm throwing in a predicted final score. As always, the following is for entertainment purposes only.


    Game: #3 Alabama (-15.5) @ Kentucky (11:21 a.m., Saturday)

    Comment: Start time in honor of . . . blackjack?

    As a Kentucky boy, I should recuse myself from this pick. I knew this whole "talking about the other undefeated teams" shtick would involve the Bama-Kentucky game. Yet my gut tells me the Cats will challenge the Tide.

    While a win might be too much to ask (given the 77-year gap between the first two UK victories), something tells me the Kentucky squad will play tough. If asked, Kentucky coach Rich Brooks might be satisfied just seeing his team show up. Few teams have played dead as convincingly as the Wildcats last weekend.

    Alabama continues to play well against a mixed schedule. After kicking off the season with a win against Virginia Tech, the Tide have yet to play another team with a winning record. I sense the Hokies would fare much better now, and Bama hasn't blown me away in the past few weeks. Morale may suffer a bit as the Tide D mourns the loss of linchpin LB Hightower for the season. Combined with a lull in energy while on the road and Alabama might forget to play at full speed against a Kentucky team they just narrowly beat last year.

    The Crimson Tide are the best bet (aside from Florida) to go undefeated, but there will be some close calls along the way. Final score: Alabama 31, Kentucky 17.


    Game: #4 LSU @ Georgia (-3.5, 2:30 p.m., Saturday)

    Comment: Look at that point spread again. The Bayou Bengals need a convincing win over a decent opponent in the worst way. Les Miles will play the "disrespect" card in the visitors' locker room on Saturday, and for good reason. LSU's middling offense can't afford to stall against Georgia. Georgia fields a questionable secondary, but nobody is losing sleep over opposing QB Jordan Jefferson.

    Most commentators will point to the ground game or defense as the key to this matchup. Not so. The deciding factor will be discipline. If Georgia racks up penalties (314 yards to date, fifth worst in the country), the Tigers will slip away with a win. That said, I never like to pick against the Dawgs between the hedges in Sanford Stadium. UGA head man Mark Richt has never impressed me as the liveliest mind in college coaching, but he can get his team fired up to play at home. Final score: Georgia 28, LSU 23.


    Game: UC Davis @ #5 Boise State (n/a, 7:00 p.m., Saturday)

    Comment: We glossed over Boise State above on purpose. I don't think the Broncos are at much risk against . . . nickname? Need a nickname here? UC Davis. Right. UC Davis. One moment, folks. Yes, the UC Davis Aggies! Boise doesn't have much to fear from them. Let's move on.


    Game: #10 Cincinnati (-29) @ Miami Ohio (12:00 p.m., Saturday)

    Comment: Even Miami grads are taking the Bearcats this weekend. Final Score: Cincinnati 45, Miami 7.


    Game: Southern Methodist @ #11 TCU (-28, 7:00 p.m., Saturday)

    Comment: The Horned Frogs must have taken a deep breath after surviving a 14-10 knuckle-biter against Clemson last Saturday. I think TCU would like to have a week off, but now they have to contend with a bunch of fired-up Methodists. Life just isn't fair. Final score: TCU 27, SMU 7.


    Game: #12 Houston (-15.5) @ UTEP (8:00 p.m., Saturday)

    Comment: After a challenging start to the season, the Houston Cougars open conference play on the road against Texas El Paso. The Miners are still licking their wounds after losing by eight touchdowns to Texas last week. Yes, eight. I believe Texas coach Mack Brown felt bad about that game, at least for a few seconds.

    Houston needs to focus and avoid distractions . . . such as all the talk about being a "BCS buster," an undefeated season, the only hope for Conference USA, the helmets that disappeared last week, how long Coach Sumlin will stick around . . . you get the idea. Final score: Houston 45, UTEP 24.


    Game: Arkansas State @ #13 Iowa (-21, 11:05 a.m., Saturday)

    Comment: I have been giving Iowa a hard time all season. After beating a top-five team on the road last week, I think the Hawkeyes have earned a free pass. I'm still not entirely convinced, but I do think they can handle the Indians. Final score: Iowa 35, Arkansas State 10.


    Game: #22 Michigan @ Michigan State (-3.5, 11:00 a.m., Saturday)

    Comment: I watched the end of the IU-Michigan game last Saturday. When I back the favorite and the cover is out of the question, my allegiance quickly switches to the underdog. But Michigan, to their credit, found a way to win. That is something often said of good teams and the Wolverines are headed in that direction. But a rivalry game on the road might be too much to ask of this young team. The Spartans (1-2) couldn't ask for a better chance to turn their season around. This should easily be the best early game on Saturday. Final score: MSU 31, Michigan 24.

    CFR Notes
    On the sea mammal front, the Sports Seal has been riding a hot streak. When I explained my approach to the preview column this week, I could swear he snorted in derision before rolling back into the pool. He deigned to break from his demanding routine of napping, floating around, and harassing his handlers to bark out the following picks:

    ~ Penn State @ Illinois (+7)
    ~ USC @ California (+5)
    ~ Oklahoma @ Miami (+7.5)


    Mike "Chief" Luce brings you The College Football Report in this space twice a week. He welcomes your comments.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:57 AM | Permalink

    October 1, 2009

    The [Thursday] Papers

    By Steve Rhodes

    Welcome, Sochi!

    You're in the club.


    Ed Sherman: "Traffic shouldn't snarl Olympic fever."

    The only traffic we're worried about is the congestion in our wallets from so many people digging in there at the same time.


    Greg Hinz: "You know that electronic parking meter system we've been carping about in Chicago? Well, beautiful Copenhagen - which, despite its charming medieval center, overall is as sleek and modern and smoothly functioning as its furniture - has the same system in place. Right down the street from my hotel you pay at a box with plastic, just like in Chicago."

    Except theirs work.

    And weren't installed via a backroom deal that soaked the taxpayers. It's not the boxes making people mad, Greg. It's the shadowy, greedy incompetence behind them.

    (See Dan L.'s comment on this post. Also, inspired by Don B.: What about the cost of adding all those federal prosecutors and all those investigations into Olympic malfeasance we'll have to have? Trials cost millions.)

    Ald. Ginger Rugai: "I am convinced that it is not a risk for us."

    Then why are we spending so much money on all those insurance policies?

    Rhodes: If the city has to transform its image after 20 years of Daley, what does that say?

    Beachwood reader: How come nobody's reporting the town where the Chicago delegation is staying? Because it's funny.

    Michelle Obama: Talking about what the Games would mean for kids living in poverty: "I just think, wouldn't it be great if that kind of spirit was happening right down the street in our community? Just think of that. Kids and communities across the city, in Austin, kids who grew up in Cabrini, kids who live so far from the city. Now just imagine if all all of that was happening right in their own backyard. That's what I think about."

    Okay, I'm imagining.

    Poor kids. All that money for a two-week party and their textbooks still have Ronald Reagan as president.

    Sun-Times Headline: "6 charged in damage to Olympic banner."

    But cops still haven't caught the vandals who broke into Meigs Field six years ago and carved up the runway.

    Beachwood Terry: I don't care for the Olympics wherever they are held. Many of the sports are two-bit hobbies; many of the amateurs are shams; in the team sports, why do I want to see the same professional players I see now, just divided up by country instead of franchise? And the whole 'Olympic Movement' grandiosity and corrupt twits who peddle it make me ill."

    Michelle Obama: "I know Mayor Daley, and he's going to make sure that these games go off without a hitch . . . It's not called the 'City That Works' for nothing."

    Michelle Obama, reformer.

    Rhodes: Is there any doubt that if Chicago wins the Games, cheers will go up in the city's newsrooms and reporters will exchange high-fives?

    Richard M. Daley: "Mr. Daley, who didn't attend the meetings, has responded to questions about the Games' risks by asking rhetorically: If the Olympics are such a bum deal, why are so many cities vying for the 2016 Games?"

    "Most American cities chose not to bid on the 2016 summer Olympics and with good reason," Steve Bartin writes at newgeography. "With the exception of the 1984 Los Angeles games, the Olympics has proved a big time money loser in city after city. More often than not, it has been staged more for the prestige - think of Berlin in 1936 or China in 2008 - it brings to regimes, particularly autocratic ones.

    "In Chicago, prestige is important, but graft is the real king. In Chicago, one of the most corrupt big cities, the Olympics represents, more than anything, a grand chance for a giant heist."

    The Economist: "But is staging the Olympics such a great prize? The pluses may seem obvious. Big building projects will employ lots of people who will spend their wages in the rest of the economy. Railways and roads will be built that might otherwise have stayed on the drawing board for years. Visitors will come from far and wide, either for the games or as tourists afterwards. That all sounds especially alluring in a recession. Chicago's organisers paid for a study that reckons on a $22.5 billion boost for the Illinois economy (more than $1,700 per person) and 315,000 'job years.' Allen Sanderson, of the University of Chicago, calls that 'ludicrous.'

    "The pro-Olympics lobby tends to downplay the disadvantages. Building in the host city may push up wages and prices and crowd out investment elsewhere. Hurrying up building projects raises costs. What suits the games may not be best for the city afterwards. Not every visitor during the games is an extra one; tourists may time long-wished-for trips to watch the sport. Crowds or inflated hotel prices may deter others from coming."

    Rhodes: Obama's Real Olympic Risk.

    Michelle Obama: We're Midwestern folks, and there's a bit of Southern hospitality that comes along with that place. We know how to treat our visitors with respect and with open arms."

    We just don't treat the folks who live here very well.

    Mary Schmich: "[W]e shouldn't let our cynicism, however realistic when applied to certain aspects of city life, corrupt our view of the Olympic possibilities."

    Certain aspects like the city's record with big projects?

    Rhodes: Funny how we're told to be "realistic" when it comes to corruption, poverty, health care . . . but when it comes to the pet projects of elites, we're patted on the head and told to dream . . .

    Kristen McQueary: "I'm tired of the whiners - the people who don't want Chicago to host the games; who relish the opportunity to quarterback through anonymous blog postings; who lament Chicago's problems without doing a single thing to make them better; who complain about their tax dollars spent on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to showcase Chicago while they blow $100 a week on fancy coffee and restaurant tabs; who drop chump change into the Sunday church offering and consider their community service completed; who can't see beyond their own tiny space on earth to appreciate the honor of hosting the world, right here in Chicago."

    The "whiners" are the only evidence of democracy in the city, willing to take on an autocratic mayor and his corrupt power structure to fight for a city built on justice, compassion and the rule of law instead of clout, ego and greed. They also include the very few journalists who know how to do their job instead of parochial cheerleaders easily gulled by a slick PR apparatus. And I'm sure you drop far more dough at Starbucks, Kristen, than they do. I'll shut up now, and just let the Richard M. Daleys and Pat Ryans of the world run roughshod over core journalistic values like truth, facts, honesty, transparency and accountability.


    Hey facts, quit whining!

    Ben Joravsky: "I guess our corporate and civic bigwigs have decided it's in their best interest to go along to get along. This is very much a one-man town - Mayor Daley calls the shots. Most players here know that if they want anything they have to go through him. As several told me on the condition that I not use their names (they're not eager to face the mayor's wrath for talking), they see their Olympic support as either payback for things they got in the past or a down payment on things they hope to get in the future. Many of the most generous contributors to the Olympic cause are either city contractors or leaders of institutions who count on city funding to operate."

    So beneath the surface our local bigwigs are just a bunch of whiners too.

    Rhodes: The Olympic Blame Game.

    CTA Tattler: "I don't always trust Mayor Daley, but I do believe him when he says the citizens of Chicago won't have to pay one dime of any potential cost overruns, because I don't think there will be any."

    I don't even know you anymore, Tattler.


    The Beachwood Tip Line: Whiners welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:50 AM | Permalink

    20 Tweets: Billy Dec Olympic Edition

    From The Beachwood TweetDeck

    One in a series.

    1. Ur the BEST assistant in the world! Yo! Every1 follow my WonderWoman! RT @katierosecronin: So tired it hurts, yet still working

    2. Morning view from my Sweden hotel room- catchn early train2 Copenhagn4 Chicago2016- be there in 5hrs!

    3. Would love2hear ur fav Celeb Video on

    4. If DIDN'T get my email of the Celeb addresses who did videos on, email

    5. # "Rescue Me" & "Love Jones" LarenzTate lookn fly & givn out a whole lot of love on!

    6. - Here are the Celebrity addresses for those who supported bringing the Olympics back to the USA in 2016!

    7. Respect "The Roots" #Questlove dropn music ed. knowldge on backstge@ TheLateShow w/#JimmyFallon!

    8. Ahhhhh... A true icon... Just posted my interview w/ Dan Aykroyd on ... Now that's good stuff... RT!

    9. RussianBathHouse beatn my bizpartnr paid4 explaind more on new StPete/Russia vid just postd on www.aChicagoThing. Enjoy!

    10. Remember my "NightmareOnElmStreet" scene w/star Katie Cassidy (David Cassidy's daughter)? We're up on!

    11. "HappyWife, HappyLife" GoodCharlotte's JoelMadden, marryd2 NicoleRitchie on trainin his baby4 2016!

    12. Got20 tix 4my fb/twtr friends in Biz who want 2go2 a really helpful Tech show! Just comment at end of now!

    13. Is it wierd that my video of me judgn the Luvabulls tryouts on is gettn more clicks then some of the Celebs?

    14. Did u see Jamie Foxx do Obama on Its pretty amazing.

    15. WARNING: u spreadn CelebVideos on thru email, fb, twtr,.. may lead2 Chicago winning the Olympics!

    16. Did u all like Piven telln me I basically sucked in Entourage on! Haha- painful.

    17. Walkn cute lil old brick narrow streets, shops, cafes,..of Sweden b4 Copnhagn tmrw! Share Celeb Videos!

    18.Walkn cute lil old brick narrow streets, shops, cafes,..of Sweden b4 Copnhagn tmrw! Sha re!

    19. Did u see Jamie Foxx do Obama on

    20. Al Capone. Can u believe what I was sayn on CNN 2nites ago? Its on now. We need to cure this. Its silly.


    See also:
    * 20 Tweets: Richard Roeper
    * 20 Tweets: Pete Wentz
    * 20 Tweets: Billy Corgan
    * 20 Tweets: Billy Dec
    * 20 Tweets: Jeremy Piven

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:17 AM | Permalink

    Ofman's Olympics

    By George Ofman

    Hello world. Have we got an Olympics for you! It won't exactly be the one you're accustomed to. Chicago has decided to add a few of its own events. Heck, if we're going to be the host city why not show the world what we're all about. This city of broad shoulders, deep dish pizza, the hot dog and constant corruption wants to make a lasting impression in 2016. So in an effort to make the 2016 Olympic Games more enticing and unique, we offer these events.

  • Obama Olympic Edition

  • * 8-Man Crowing. This is rowing with a bit of a twist. The rowing event is scheduled to take place in Monroe Harbor. The crowing event will be held down a 2,000-meter stretch of the Chicago River. For those who haven't figured out the metric system, that's approximately 1.25 miles. It will run right through downtown with all the bridges up. Each scull also will be equipped with 8 pigeons perched atop each crew member. The team that manages to cross the finish line first without any pigeon dropping a load receives the gold medal and a squad dinner.

    * Neighborhood Archery. As opposed to the regularly scheduled archery event in Grant Park, neighborhood archery will take place in the city's highest crime districts. Each archer will have in his possession a shotgun and two revolvers. Uzi's are optional. Medalists will be determined by who survives.

    * Pothole Cycling. Perhaps the most grueling event next to the Pothole Marathon, each cyclist will have to maneuver through the city's most ravaged streets, including alleys. Any cyclist who falls must return to the starting line and retrace the route. Because of the nature of the event, it's expected to start after the opening ceremonies and last as long as a week.

    * Equestrian harness racing. This event will be staged at Maywood Park. Each contestant's dressage horse will have to traverse mounds of manure strewn across the track. The trick, of course, is not to step in it. Betting will be allowed.

    * The Vienna Hot Dog Trampoline Event. Planners are expecting this be a huge and possibly messy success. Each gymnast must be able to jump the highest and do somersaults while consuming the most hot dogs with everything on them. Any gymnast seen eating a hot dog with ketchup will be disqualified. Medalists will be determined by the least amount of vomit.

    * Aldermanic Polo. Organizers are a bit worried about this event. It entails each contestant having to stuff his or her swimsuit with cash distributed by selected alderman. If any of the bills get wet, that contestant will be jailed with the alderman swearing no knowledge. Medalists must return the cash . . . with interest! The cash will eventually be placed in Mayor Daley's trust fund.

    * Inner City Fencing. This event will take place in three venues; Humboldt Park, River Park and North Avenue beach. With the expected success of neighborhood archery, this clever event does not involve an epee but a real piece of wooden fencing. Contestants cannot wear any protective gear save for a cup. The winner is determined by the amount of fence left after a two-minute fray. The medal round will switch to metal fencing.

    * Smelt Diving. Organizers determined this event to be very Chicago. The swimming pool will be filled with these smelly creatures. Difficulty of the dive won't factor into the scoring as much as how many smelt can be swallowed whole by each diver. Organizers are considering synchronized smelt diving if the games return in 2060.

    * Parking box smashing. What will easily be the most popular event among locals, contestants from all nations can use weapons indigenous to their country in order to destroy as many of these annoying money squeezing contraptions as possible. Each contestant will be assigned a specific area of the city. Whoever winds up smashing the most boxes not only receives a gold medal but will have the honor of chairing a city council meeting.

    * The Pothole Marathon. An addition to the regular marathon, the pothole marathon will be run down the 26-mile stretch of Western Avenue. Runners must be barefoot in tribute to Abebe Bikila who ran barefoot in the 1960 Rome Games and won. The course will be prepared long in advance as the city will not repair any potholes for the seven years leading up to the race. Extra pot holes will be added in strategic positions. Water will be banned for this event and replaced by Old Chicago beer. Finishing first will not necessarily determine the winner. Contestants must be able to avoid as many potholes as possible as part of special scoring. The gold medalist also will receive a kickback check issued by Mayor Daley and a lifetime gift certificate to Lou Malnatis.

    Let the Games begin!


    See also:
    * Chicago 2016 vs. Baghdad 2016


    George Ofman, an original member of The Score and a veteran of NPR, has covered more than 3,500 sporting events over the course of his career. Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:57 AM | Permalink

    Over/Under: Obama Olympic Edition

    By Eric Emery

    This week, President Obama traveled to Copenhagen to make a final Olympic plea. Who knows, maybe Obama can convince the voters to allow us to incur a needless and massive public debt. Obama might be that powerful. On the way home, perhaps Obama should stop at the following 0-3 football cities to solve their problems as well.

    Charlotte: City in trouble after reports that the ongoing informational series called My Child Has WHAT? found to be more popular than the Panthers.

    St. Louis: After buying Anheuser Busch, global beverage giant InBev offers St. Louis Rams management a six-pack of Stella Artois if they throw in the Rams. Obama to lobby Congress for $1.2 billion bailout counteroffer.

    Miami: Obama announces ex-Dolphins fullback and Hall of Fame player Larry Csonka as the "Czar of Winning" for the city of Miami.

    Cleveland: Obama to play Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James to one-on-one game. If he loses, James reassigned to play quarterback for the Browns.

    Nashville: Following Franklin Delano Roosevelt's example, Obama pushes for the "Tennessee Valley Authority Part II: The Search for a Win."

    Kansas City: Due to the poor play of the Chiefs and Royals, Obama quietly asks France to buy Kansas City back.


    OverHyped Game of the Week: Packers at Vikings

    Storyline: Favre Green Bay, Favre Jets, Favre retired, Favre Vikings, Favre cured cancer.

    Reality: Not since Bush-Cheney have two leaders done more to mess up the talent and goodwill they have, and find a way to lose when it counts.

    Prediction: Packers Plus 3.5 Points, Over 45.5 Points Scored


    UnderHyped Game of the Week: Jets at Saints

    Storyline: Both teams have a history of stinking. Both teams are 3-0. I guess this gives hope to all those other historically bad teams. We're talking to you Chicago Cubs.

    Reality: I think Milton Bradley plays on the Saints defense, because the Saints hate to hit.

    Prediction: Saints Minus 7 Points, Over 45 Points Scored


    Record: 2-6


    For more Emery, please see the Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report archives and the Over/Under collection. He welcomes your comments.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:17 AM | Permalink

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