Chicago - Sep. 19, 2018
Music TV Politics Sports Books People Places & Things
 
Must-See TV
Army Of Darkness
ElRey
5 p.m.
A discount-store employee is time-warped to a medieval castle, where he is the foretold savior who can dispel the evil there. Unfortunately, he screws up and releases an army of skeletons. (tvguide.com)
Weather Derby
Tribune: 51/37
Sun-Times: Ferro/McKinney
Weather Channel: 44/41
Ntl Weather Service: 54/43
BWM*: 82/12
Beachwood Bookmarks
K-Tel Classics
WKRP in Cincinnati
So You've Decided To Be Evil
St. Paul Saints
Nye's Polonaise Room
The Arcata Eye
Roadside USA
This Day In . . .
Onion History
Weird Al History
Baseball History
Beachwood History
History History
Spy Magazine History
#OnThisDate History
Chicago
Indicted!
Under Suspicion
Find Your Towed Car
Cable TV Complaints
Freedom of Information
The Expired Meter
The Mob & Friends
Stolen Bike Registry
O'Hare Music Tracker
Rats
Report Corruption (city)
Report Corruption (state)
Beyond
Scoundrels, State
Scoundrels, Federal
The Odds
Random Flight Tracker
Casting Calls
Cosmic Log
Buy Stamps
Beachwood Blogroll
A Handy List
Beachwood Ethics Statement
How We Roll
Today's Horoscope
Liberties will be taken.
Do We Sudoku?
No, but we do do moose stuff, and that can be anything you want it to be. Except Sudoku.
Losing Lottery Numbers
8, 25, 39
Daily Affirmation
I am open and receptive to new avenues of income. (louisehay.com)
Ellie
Knowing that a person may be unwittingly in danger of an assault imposes a moral duty to warn them.
Now Playing
Psychodrama/Marshall Law
Letters to the Editors
FAQ
About
Tip Line
"The Papers" archive
RSS
Beachwood Link Buttons
Media Kit/Advertising
 

« August 2010 | Main | October 2010 »

September 30, 2010

The [Thursday] Papers

"The first major debate in the Illinois governor's race was a brutal verbal battle that at times sounded as though the candidates were trying out for a Wizard of Oz revival as they jousted over who's best to fix the state's shambolic finances," Ray Long writes for the Tribune.

"Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn accused Republican challenger Bill Brady of not having 'a heart' for suggested widespread budget cuts. And Brady implied that Quinn doesn't have a brain for following a road of 'tax, spend and borrow.'

"Behind all of the heated rhetoric shone a light that illustrated clear differences between the two major-party governor candidates on education, taxes and corruption. The forum Wednesday at the private Union League Club of Chicago represented the first exchange open to reporters before the Nov. 2 election."

Here was the most important part, though, in the second-to-last paragraph:

"The debate excluded independent candidate Scott Lee Cohen, Libertarian hopeful Lex Green and Green Party contender Rich Whitney, who protested his exclusion along with about 20 supporters."

Wouldn't it have been nice to hear what they had to say? To watch them challenge Quinn and Brady from their own perspectives? To broaden the voters' choices?

After all, we've heard all we need from Quinn and Brady. Now they're just putting on little plays.

Another Chicago Coinkydink*
"Mariyana Spyropoulos lost a race for commissioner of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District two years ago, but she is running again Nov. 2 as an incumbent - thanks to Gov. Pat Quinn," the Tribune reports.

"The Democratic governor used his appointment power to make Spyropoulos a commissioner when he filled a vacancy for the $50,000-a-year position.

"Five months later, her father gave Quinn's struggling campaign a $25,000 donation right before the governor's narrow primary election victory. Theodor Spyropoulos gave another $25,000 after the primary, and his daughter has donated $1,000.

"Quinn has received political contributions connected to at least 77 of the people he has chosen for state task forces, agencies, boards or commissions since he became governor in January 2009, according to a Tribune review of public records. At least 20 of the donations from the appointees, their families or their businesses came within two months of the appointment.

"The governor told the Tribune he does not give any consideration to campaign donations when he makes an appointment: 'I never have, never will.'"

Yes, well, we know how it works. It's an insiders' game. "Consideration" is inherent.

-

Check out item No. 16 at They Tried To Buy The Primaries.

* I stole this term from Rich Miller but I'm pretty sure he didn't coin it.

Liars' Club
So Mark Kirk is a liar and Alexi Giannoulias is a liar. Is LeAlan Jones telling the truth? Because if he is, why wouldn't you vote for him?

If you believe in change, integrity and the presence of an African-American in the U.S. Senate, shouldn't Jones be your candidate? I'm just wondering.

Real World Newsbreak
Meanwhile, the Illinois poverty rate rose 24 percent from 1999 to 2009. Huh, right under the media's nose. Oh well, I guess they were too busy writing about school reform

*

"Cabrini-Green Reduced To One Last Building."

Out of sight . . .

Business Bill
"Brady Says He'll Run Illinois 'Like A Business.'"

He'll lay a bunch of us off?

Make us pay for more of our health care?

Ask the government for a bailout?

Danks Dynasty
"Given that Emily Danks was, as she says, 'out of the womb, onto the baseball bleachers,' one would have thought she would play competitive softball - or at least pickup games with her older brothers," the Columbus Dispatch writes.

"They would be John Danks, a 25-year-old starting pitcher for the Chicago White Sox; and Jordan Danks, a 24-year-old center-field prospect for the same team.

"But, while growing up in Round Rock, Texas, Emily Danks was the girlie girl - wearing dresses and hair bows, taking ballet and piano lessons - and she wasn't crazy about that infield dirt.

"'I've never held a bat in my life,' she said. 'I was playing Barbies and dress-up.'

"Danks protested when her parents signed her up for eighth-grade volleyball but quickly found the sport fun. And nearing her 6-foot-1-inch height, she was good at it, too.

"A 19-year-old Ohio State sophomore, Danks is an outside hitter on the women's volleyball team and a starter in 26 games last season. Going into the Buckeyes' first Big Ten home games against Michigan and Michigan State this weekend, she is the team's second-leading scorer."

Trivial Pursuit
New fun facts about Katy Perry, Kanye West, Chuck D, Keith Richards, Ozzy Osbourne and more!

From Today's Inbox
Steve,

I represent the Commercial Finance Association (www.cfa.com) the nonprofit trade group for the asset-based lending/factoring industries. We are holding our Annual Convention in Chicago this October, and our keynote is former President George W. Bush.

Due to security and other restrictions, we do not anticipate that he will be open to one-on-one interviews and most likely will not want media photographers in attendance. However, I can offer you or a member of your editorial team complimentary media credentials to the Convention, providing access to his keynote delivery, which will be limited to attendees of the Convention only.

President Bush's remarks will take place Thursday, October 21 at 8:30 a.m. More information can be found at https://www.cfa.com/eweb/DynamicPage.aspx?Site=CFA&WebKey=b5ed60f5-125c-4b1d-aa4f-7a7bc8d3e488

We suspect there will be a lot of media interest in attending, given the opportunity to hear the former President speak in a more "closed" environment. With that in mind, we are first inviting more high profile media and will keep the number of media credentials we offer to a minimum.

If this is of interest to you, I can provide you with media credentials.

Please don't hesitate to contact me with further questions.

Best,

Kathryn Stuart Lee
Account Coordinator
S&A Cherokee

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Insure prompt service.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:23 AM | Permalink

September 29, 2010

The [Wednesday] Papers

I'm tied up all day so the Papers will return on Thursday.

Our sports section continues to move right along, though. Today:

* The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report, wherein Carl Mohrbacher asks:

If a train leaves Chicago bound for New York on Tuesday with 53 players in first place, each with their confidence flying at 30,000 feet and a city's expectations running a million miles per hour, how many wins will this 3-0 franchise have in 6 days?

Find the answer here.

* Fantasy Fix, wherein Dan O'Shea snubs Jay Cutler for Michael Vick.

Also, we're pleased to announce the addition of Dan's Swings Both Ways to the Beachwood family. And don't forget Agony & Ivy.

Finally, we're looking for someone to revive Devin Hester Is Ridiculous. We're even thinking about renaming it Devin Hester The Bears Are Ridiculous. If interested, inquire within.

See you tomorrow.

The [Tuesday] Papers
"There is one undefeated team left in the NFC and it is the Chicago Bears. No, seriously," writes the USA Today blog Game On! in a post titled "Eye-Opener: Is This Chicago Bears Team For Real?"

I, for one, will refuse to believe right up to the Super Bowl.

*

"I mean, it would take an extreme killjoy to point out that despite the great start, if the Bears lose to the Giants this coming Sunday evening in New Jersey, they will have the exact same record at the end of the first quarter of this season as they did last," our very own Jim "Coach" Coffman writes in SportsTuesday.

*

The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report will appear on Wednesday after our boys have fully absorbed every angle - and wrung the beer out of their cells.

*

Meanwhile, our very own Matt Farmer - who is a lawyer by day - brings us a true story today called I Tried To Break Into George Blanda's Car.

Now, on to the news.

Twit Fit
"If some members of the Cook County Board have their way, a little bird soon may not be telling anyone anything - at least not in the form of Twitter posts during formal board meetings," the Daily Herald reports.

"Chicago Democratic Commissioner Joseph Mario Moreno has a proposed ordinance amendment before the Rules & Administration Committee today that would ban the use of 'publicly accessible instant-messaging platforms' by commissioners, the board president and all those on the floor 'during all meetings of the board.' The proposed amendment specifically mentions "social-networking websites or like platforms," apparently aimed at Twitter and Facebook, Internet tools more and more politicians are making use of."

Here's a better idea: How 'bout we tape Joe Moreno's mouth shut? That will accomplish much more.

*

Jimm Dispensa vis Facebook: "Because soon the Cook County budget deficit will have more than 140 zero's."

Price Is Not Right
"Keith Price, a Harvey resident who may have set a record by holding four elected offices at the same time, almost lost three of those positions in a single day," Phil Kadner writes for the SouthtownStar.

NYT Botch Job
"The New York Times put together a travel piece showcasing a whirlwind '36 hours in Chicago' in honor of Mayor Daley's retirement, but oops, instead of giving the assignment to their local folks at the Chicago News Cooperative, they left it in the hands of a New Yorker who just couldn't quite get things right," notes Chicagoist, which reprints the embarrassing correction the Times had to write - and notes a whopper they missed.

Egg Toss
"A Naperville man's errant egg toss at a DuPage County judge netted him a 90-day jail sentence," the Daily Herald reports.

Insiders Unite
"Illinois gubernatorial rivals Pat Quinn and Bill Brady have met twice recently to discuss their positions and their visions for the future of Illinois," AP reports. "Unfortunately for voters, both meetings took place behind closed doors for the benefit of Chicago's elite."

*

You have a choice: AP looks at Rich Whitney.

*

"Whitney would raise the personal income tax rate to 5 percent while protecting poorer families by offering bigger tax credits. He said homeowners also would get property tax relief through larger exemptions on their income taxes.

"He said he would also impose a financial transactions tax on speculation, such as derivatives trading. Whitney said it would feel like a 'pinprick' to the Chicago financial exchanges while generating $4 billion for the state.

"'If we can have a sales tax on food and clothing, why not have a sales tax on this big-money gambling that goes on there at those two exchanges?' he said."

*

You have a choice in the U.S. Senate race, too: LeAlan Jones is running against Alexi Giannoulias and Mark Kirk. (Check out the cool graphic.)

Seriously, could he be any worse than those two? No. Could he be better? Absolutely.

Onesquare
You can now check in to the Beachwood Inn by announcing "I'm here. Get me a beer."

*

And you may think you're the mayor, but Bob is the king.

If God Says He/She Loves You . . .
"If you want to know about God, you might want to talk to an atheist," the Los Angeles Times reports.

"Heresy? Perhaps. But a survey that measured Americans' knowledge of religion found that atheists and agnostics knew more, on average, than followers of most major faiths. In fact, the gaps in knowledge among some of the faithful may give new meaning to the term 'blind faith.'"

The Control State
Our Southeast Asia correspondent checks in from the archipelago, where he has finally received his police registration card.

On the other hand, not so different than Chicago . . .

How Wisconsin Saw It
"The combination of ends Julius Peppers and Mark Anderson driving blockers into the backfield and coach Mike McCarthy eschewing the running game for a spread offense spelled disaster for the Green Bay Packers Monday night," Tom Silverstein wrote in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel in a piece called "A Long Night Of Oops And Downs."

-

The Archie's Reporter

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: An easy A.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:53 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: Peyton's Place Is No. 1 - And Other Surprises

You never want to doubt Peyton Manning's ability, but if there ever was a time that his fantasy production seemed poised for a dip, it appeared to be this season.

He came into the year with an another intriguing but injury-prone mix of receivers, including an aging Reggie Wayne and another newbie named Blair White; an injury-prone star running back and an unproven back-up RB; and had finished the 2009-10 season with 16 interceptions, the most he recorded since 2002-03.

Yet, after Week 3 and heading into the first bye week, there is no better fantasy football performer than Manning the elder. He has passed for 1,013 yards with nine touchdowns and zero INTs. He was probably a late second-round pick in many leagues, and right now is looking like a steal. We'll see how long he can keep it up.

While Manning is a familiar name at the top of the fantasy football heap, there are a few other players who have turned out to be surprisingly good during the first three games. Here are the biggest surprises at all positions:

QB: Michael Vick, Philadelphia.

Sorry, Jay Cutler, but this one's easy, as Vick already has seven TDs (including one rushing) without an INT. His 750 passing yards aren't that great, but 170 rushing yards sure helps.

RB: Jahvid Best, Detroit.

His 124 rushing yards don't tell the whole story for a guy who is third among RBs in receiving yards with 183 and already has five TDS, the most among all RBs thus far.

WR: Austin Collie, Indianapolis.

He had something of a breakout year in 2009, but leading the league in receiving yards with 359 isn't what anyone foresaw for this season. Has been the recipient of four of Manning's nine end-zone tosses.

TE: Dustin Keller, NY Jets.

Sure, he made a big blunder at the end of Week 1 by stumbling out of bounds and ending the Jets' final drive, but he has 226 receiving yards and three TDs as a favored target of QB Mark Sanchez. I guess I was right picking him as a sleeper.

K: Mike Nugent, Cincinnati.

The only kicker with two 50-yard-plus field goals so far, Nugent could be a major factor for a team with a talented but sputter-prone offense.

Expert Wire
* Yahoo! Pickups of the Week likes rookie Rams QB Sam Bradford as a solid buy. He'll throw a few INTs, but he is already looking like an automated passing machine.

* ESPN has a nice fantasy-themed tribute to the multi-talented George Blanda.

* Bleacher Report has its own top five fantasy football surprises. Cutler gets his due, as does Darren McFadden.

* FanHouse reports on another Peyton, Browns RB Peyton Hillis. Hillis has landed on fantasy rosters in the past as a late-season replacement, but a 144-yard performance in Week 3 has bumped him to the head of the class.

* SB Nation says that Dexter McCluster has arrived. The best part is that the Kansas City flash has multi-position RB/WR eligibility on Yahoo! No, wait, the best part is that he returns punts, too. No, wait . . .

-

Dan O'Shea's Fantasy Fix appears in this space every Wednesday. He welcomes your comments. You can also read his about his split sports fan personality at SwingsBothWays, a new addition to the Beachwood Media family.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:34 AM | Permalink

The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report

Blue: As far as this Bear fan can tell, you can't be better than 3-0. The Detroit game was won via a dumb move by an amazing talent. The second game needed a truly poor performance by Eastern Illinois' finest, Tony Romo. Monday night's victory required an amazing 18 penalties by the Packers, a blocked kick, Devin Hester's first return of a punt since 2007, and a forced fumble by Brian Urlacher on the final Pack drive. How long can we keep up winning based on the other teams' mistakes? Who cares? As I said earlier, you can't better than 3-0.

Other than Jay Cutler throwing a perfect tight spiral interception to the Packers' Derrick Martin in the end zone, the offense looked good enough. The Mike Martz system still seems a bit of a mystery at times to the WR corps, the running game is woefully absent, and the offensive line still seems to be hell-bent on finding out if Cutler is tougher than Chuck Norris. On the positive side, though, the offense was able to move the ball when needed. Greg Olsen might be a top-5 tight end in a system that supposedly has no place for a tight end and the wide receivers are showing that you need no true No. 1 when you have four No. 3s. Think about it: If you have a No. 1, 2, 3 and 4 wide receiver, you add up to 10. If you have four No. 3s, you add up to 12. Jerry Angelo might be on to something.

The defense must have slept well on Monday night, with the Packers holding the ball more than 35 minutes in the game. In the words of Jon Gruden, "They played a lot tonight!" Bend but don't break is not just a style, it's a way of life to this D. But, time of possession is a worthless stat when you can't score. Yes, Aaron Rodgers went through the Bears defense like a chainsaw through water on a number of drives, but we stopped the Pack from scoring enough times to win with 20 points. It's painful to watch this team give up so many yards to opposing offenses, but somehow they were able to pull off the big play (Urlacher/Briggs combining for a strip that miraculously didn't go out to bounds before Tim Jennings corralled the rock) when it looked like Rodgers was just getting the chainsaw blade good and sharpened.

This team isn't going to make anyone forget the 1985 Bears (hallowed be thy name) just yet, but as the only undefeated team in the NFC, who isn't happy to see wins instead of losses? Though the O line likes to see if they can get their QB killed, we're basically injury-free (Major Wright should return soon, and Frank Omiyale is playing better than Chris Williams at LT, though it's not saying much) and can only get better as the defense finally finds a way to push some pressure with the front four, the run game gets off the bus and the Martz system will sink into the heads of these college-educated wide receivers.

But the Bears played hard, did what had to be done when it had to be done, and are 3-0. As far as I can tell, you can't do better at this point in the season than beating everyone you play.

Week 4: Bears at Giants
Though I do not profess to know much about the Giants beyond the fact that their coach looks a lot like my wife's crazy Uncle Marvin and that the media is always dying for them to be strong so they can fawn all over a New York team, I'm still going Bears. If we play just well enough on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball, keep the perfect passes to the opponents down to a bare minimum, and keep forcing turnovers and idiocy, we go to 4-0. My totally uneducated prediction: Bears 28, Giants 21.

On a personal note: Raise your hand and strangle the dog if you wanted to go through your TV set on a dozen or more occasions to attack Gruden. Although there were occasional comedic sides to his ridiculousness - "He (Lance Briggs) and Urlacher love to penetrate" - the fawning about Clay Matthews being such a great player on a play in which he got called for a face mask on a play that made my neck hurt was more than over the top. It's a good game I'm watching; spewing superlatives to describe each player/coach/training staff member/beer vendor either on the field, in the locker room or on the inactive list doesn't make it a greater game. It just makes me want to kill you.

*

Orange: Students of Lovie Smith's algebraic philosophies will note that through the first three quarters of the first quarter of the 16-game 2010 season, the Second City squad is 3-0.

This coaching regime has practiced some fuzzy math over the years involving individual statistics (Brian Urlacher will likely be awarded 26 individual tackles once the Bears review the game film) and have deviated greatly from their chosen "run first" formula, but with a 100% success rate, one has to ask: Have the Chicago Bears calculated a vector for victory?

Considering the following statistics from Monday's win over the Green Bay Packers, past performance may not necessarily indicate future results.

* Green Bay recorded three sacks and six quarterback hits. Jay Cutler is tough, but he cannot continue to remain effective while taking this kind of beating.

* The Pack committed a franchise record 17 penalties, 12 of which were in the second half, including a touchdown-nullifying holding call and a defensive pass interference call that negated an interception in the red zone.

* Cutler led the Bears by running (for his life) for 37 yards. Half backs Matt Forte and Chester Taylor combined for 38 yards

Stepping outside the motif of the absolute for a moment (mainly because the official statistics in this category have not become available at the time of writing), the Bears missed a lot of tackles on Monday night; almost certainly a byproduct of coaching. Lovie Smith has a burning desire to create turnovers and likely instructed his defense to focus on stripping the football, leading to numerous botched arm tackles.

Let's wrap up our math portion of the Football SAT study guide with some example questions:

Question 1:
"Positive turnover differential" is to "wins" as "missed tackles" are to . . .
a) wins
b) losses
c) sore arms
d) b and c

Flip over your monitor for the answer and a lobster shaped maze!

Question 2:
If a train leaves Chicago bound for New York on Tuesday with 53 players in first place, each with their confidence flying at 30,000 feet and a city's expectations running a million miles per hour, how many wins will this 3-0 franchise have in 6 days?

The answer is . . .

Week 4: Bears at Giants
. . . 3.

The Giants are not a good football team, but they are desperate, they are at home and they are playing a Bears team that simply cannot continue to defy the odds. Look for Eli Manning to save the Giants' season by connecting early and often with wide receivers Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham. The porous Bears offensive line will not be able to contain an overrated but reasonably talented Giants pass rush and Cutler will spend much of his evening in New York on his rear. Giants 20, Bears 17.

-

Andrew Golden brings you the Blue half of this report every week; Carl Mohrbacher brings you the Orange. They welcome your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:13 AM | Permalink

September 28, 2010

SportsTuesday: Ozzie, The Bears and Ballpark Franks

Could Chicago possibly be happier? The good news arrived Monday and I have a hard time believing that any sports fan in our fair city didn't rejoice as long and as loud as was humanly possible. Clearly we will all always remember exactly where we were when we absorbed the fact that . . . Ozzie will return next year to again manage the White Sox.

What's that you say? You thought I was talking about the Bears? Well, I'm certainly happy they pulled out their biggest win since the 2006 NFC Championship game. I mean, it would take an extreme killjoy to point out that despite the great start, if the Bears lose to the Giants this coming Sunday evening in New Jersey, they will have the exact same record at the end of the first quarter of this season as they did last.

Oh, and welcome back Ozzie. You are a bigger drama queen than anyone currently performing on North Halsted or North Broadway but there is something to be said for a guy who can keep things interesting all the way through a 162-game season.

But back to the Bears, who stand alone atop the NFC at 3-0. I'm not sure how they did it, although 17 Packer penalties, the most committed by a team from Green Bay in a game in the last half century or so, loomed slightly large. The last was an obvious pass interference call but 35-yard penalties will never feel right. The college game made the correct call when it capped the distance that can be gained on this sort of infraction at 15 yards.

After the Bears killed all but a few remaining seconds on the clock - thank you Packer coach Mike McCarthy for the ridiculous, Pollyanna challenge that made it possible - Pat Mannelly made the perfect snap, Brad Maynard put down the perfect hold and Robbie Gould made the game-winning 19-yard field goal.

A Pollyanna challenge, by the way, is one where the coach is saying "if I wish hard enough that Tim Jennings actually recovered the fumble out of bounds, I'm sure my wish will come true." It doesn't, of course, and because the challenge failed, the Packers were docked a timeout - a timeout that would have enabled them to stop the clock with as many as 40 seconds remaining before the Bears' final field goal rather than allowing the Bears to run it down inside of :10.

One thing I am sure of is that Jay Cutler is once and for all a tough son-of-a-gun. He was fortunate earlier and later Monday when Packer defensive backs dropped one potential pick and had two others nullified by penalties. But he also bounced back quickly after absorbing a hit that would have sidelined 99.99 percent of humans, including most NFL quarterbacks, late in the fourth quarter.

Right after Packer linebacker Frank Zombo (that's a halfway decent name for a linebacker, isn't it?) just about unhinged the quarterback's jaw (and was assessed 15 yards for helmet-to-helmet contact), Cutler hit Devin Hester on a tricky little crossing route. Hester managed to drop that ball but when Cutler hit him with another one the next play, Hester grabbed it and took it up the field for a big first down.

As for the defense, well, this game might have been the ultimate validation of the "bend but don't break" philosophy. The Bears allowed the Packers to march down the field almost at will but as ESPN analysts Ron Jaworski and Jon Gruden (less annoying than usual overall) expertly pointed out, long drives featuring double-digit plays are tough to finish off.

The probability is that a team will eventually mess something up - i.e. commit a penalty or a turnover - and at least be forced to try a field goal. That happened to the Packers a couple times; Julius Peppers blocked one of those field goal attempts, and that was the difference. New Meadowlands Stadium, here they come.

Cubs Snub
One final Cubs indignity, or actually several.

I took in the home finale at Wrigley on Sunday with my 11-year-old son, but we only lasted four innings. Not only were the Cubs not showing other baseball scores on the secondary scoreboards (down the lines in the right and left field upper decks - those scores are more up-to-date than the ones on the scoreboard), they weren't showing any football scores.

Instead, the loop of Ballpark Franks commercials played on and on and on. I'm sure the Cubs would say that everyone gets scores on their phones these days so it doesn't matter but, well, I don't get scores on my phone.

We even responded to the scoreboard when it urged us "let's buy two." But we should have known that buying two hot dogs wouldn't be nearly enough to appease the savage corporate sponsorship beast and allow perhaps a score or two on the now inaccurately named scoreboard in between commercial messages.

It was an outrage, I tell ya. Oh, and Jeff Samardzija sucked (looks like the $10 million Jim Hendry paid him to give up football will soon be added to the massive amount Hendry has wasted while leading the Cubs on a steady downhill trip these past four seasons - surely Tom Ricketts has to have a Eureka moment about his incompetence at some point soon, doesn't he?).

And the Cubs' three, four and five hitters (Blake DeWitt, Xavier Nady and Kosuke Fukudome) were still short of 25 combined home runs when the game started. But hey, at least we had a chance to watch Alfonso Soriano botch a fly ball and, on a separate play, throw to the wrong base. Ah baseball, we will miss you. Or maybe not.

Blackhawks Bit
I had also planned to write a brief about the Blackhawks' preseason, but I haven't had a chance to absorb enough of it. I will say I was delighted to stumble upon the preseason game against the Red Wings that was televised on WGN on Saturday night. It was a very welcome break from the college football quadrupleheader that was my other sports viewing choice.

The only problem? As I watched the Hawks take a lead they would not relinquish, I was reminded it is now much tougher to make fun of this club than the aforementioned baseball team. What is a cynical sportswriter to do?

-

Jim Coffman brings you SportsMonday in this space every week - except when it appears on Tuesday. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:43 AM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

"There is one undefeated team left in the NFC and it is the Chicago Bears. No, seriously," writes the USA Today blog Game On! in a post titled "Eye-Opener: Is This Chicago Bears Team For Real?"

I, for one, will refuse to believe right up to the Super Bowl.

*

"I mean, it would take an extreme killjoy to point out that despite the great start, if the Bears lose to the Giants this coming Sunday evening in New Jersey, they will have the exact same record at the end of the first quarter of this season as they did last," our very own Jim "Coach" Coffman writes in SportsTuesday.

*

The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report will appear on Wednesday after our boys have fully absorbed every angle - and wrung the beer out of their cells.

*

Meanwhile, our very own Matt Farmer - who is a lawyer by day - brings us a true story today called I Tried To Break Into George Blanda's Car.

Now, on to the news.

Twit Fit
"If some members of the Cook County Board have their way, a little bird soon may not be telling anyone anything - at least not in the form of Twitter posts during formal board meetings," the Daily Herald reports.

"Chicago Democratic Commissioner Joseph Mario Moreno has a proposed ordinance amendment before the Rules & Administration Committee today that would ban the use of 'publicly accessible instant-messaging platforms' by commissioners, the board president and all those on the floor 'during all meetings of the board.' The proposed amendment specifically mentions "social-networking websites or like platforms," apparently aimed at Twitter and Facebook, Internet tools more and more politicians are making use of."

Here's a better idea: How 'bout we tape Joe Moreno's mouth shut? That will accomplish much more.

*

Jimm Dispensa vis Facebook: "Because soon the Cook County budget deficit will have more than 140 zero's."

Price Is Not Right
"Keith Price, a Harvey resident who may have set a record by holding four elected offices at the same time, almost lost three of those positions in a single day," Phil Kadner writes for the SouthtownStar.

NYT Botch Job
"The New York Times put together a travel piece showcasing a whirlwind '36 hours in Chicago' in honor of Mayor Daley's retirement, but oops, instead of giving the assignment to their local folks at the Chicago News Cooperative, they left it in the hands of a New Yorker who just couldn't quite get things right," notes Chicagoist, which reprints the embarrassing correction the Times had to write - and notes a whopper they missed.

Egg Toss
"A Naperville man's errant egg toss at a DuPage County judge netted him a 90-day jail sentence," the Daily Herald reports.

Insiders Unite
"Illinois gubernatorial rivals Pat Quinn and Bill Brady have met twice recently to discuss their positions and their visions for the future of Illinois," AP reports. "Unfortunately for voters, both meetings took place behind closed doors for the benefit of Chicago's elite."

*

You have a choice: AP looks at Rich Whitney.

*

"Whitney would raise the personal income tax rate to 5 percent while protecting poorer families by offering bigger tax credits. He said homeowners also would get property tax relief through larger exemptions on their income taxes.

"He said he would also impose a financial transactions tax on speculation, such as derivatives trading. Whitney said it would feel like a 'pinprick' to the Chicago financial exchanges while generating $4 billion for the state.

"'If we can have a sales tax on food and clothing, why not have a sales tax on this big-money gambling that goes on there at those two exchanges?' he said."

*

You have a choice in the U.S. Senate race, too: LeAlan Jones is running against Alexi Giannoulias and Mark Kirk. (Check out the cool graphic.)

Seriously, could he be any worse than those two? No. Could he be better? Absolutely.

Onesquare
You can now check in to the Beachwood Inn by announcing "I'm here. Get me a beer."

*

And you may think you're the mayor, but Bob is the king.

If God Says He/She Loves You . . .
"If you want to know about God, you might want to talk to an atheist," the Los Angeles Times reports.

"Heresy? Perhaps. But a survey that measured Americans' knowledge of religion found that atheists and agnostics knew more, on average, than followers of most major faiths. In fact, the gaps in knowledge among some of the faithful may give new meaning to the term 'blind faith.'"

The Control State
Our Southeast Asia correspondent checks in from the archipelago, where he has finally received his police registration card.

On the other hand, not so different than Chicago . . .

How Wisconsin Saw It
"The combination of ends Julius Peppers and Mark Anderson driving blockers into the backfield and coach Mike McCarthy eschewing the running game for a spread offense spelled disaster for the Green Bay Packers Monday night," Tom Silverstein wrote in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel in a piece called "A Long Night Of Oops And Downs."

-

The Archie's Reporter

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: An easy A.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:19 AM | Permalink

I Tried To Break Into George Blanda's Car

You want to know what went through my mind when I heard that NFL legend George Blanda had passed away on Monday? It wasn't the 41-yard field goal he kicked at age 48 in the AFC Championship Game in January 1976. And it wasn't the 2,002 career points he racked up during his 26 years in the league. Truth be told, my first thought had nothing to do with football.

I flashed back to the time he caught me breaking into his car.

I was a 15-year-old caddie at Butterfield Country Club, where Blanda played golf. It was a hot summer afternoon, and I'd already come in off the course. My friends and I were sitting outside the caddyshack waiting to get paid and sent home for the day. A few of us decided to kill some time by shooting baskets at an old hoop in the southwest corner of the club's parking lot. Most of the time, the members knew enough to park their cars far away from our makeshift court.

On this particular day, however, an off-white sedan (a Chrysler Cordoba, if I remember correctly) was parked about 10 feet to the right of our imaginary free throw lane. The car narrowed our court's dimensions, but my friends and I decided to play some three-on-three just the same.

One of my buddies wore glasses when he caddied, but he'd been in enough of these hoop games to know that his specs would likely get broken if he wore them while we played. Rather than run back to the shack to stash his glasses, he walked over to that sedan. The driver had left his front window partially rolled down to keep the car cool, and my friend decided to hook his glasses over that open window.

About 15 minutes into our game, I somehow managed to knock those glasses off of the window and into the car. They landed on the front seat, touching down on what I assume was probably "soft Corinthian leather." The car, of course, was locked.

My buddy panicked, but I told him to relax. I tracked down a coat hanger and began trying to pop the lock on the front door. While trying to get the door open, I couldn't help but notice what was lodged in the car's 8-track player. It was "Go West" by the Village People. I'd recently attended Disco Demolition Night at Comiskey Park, so this little discovery didn't sit well with me.

In any event, while I was fooling with the hanger, I had no idea that the car's owner was walking through the parking lot. And, yes, the owner turned out to be George Blanda. When Blanda saw me poking around his window, he began yelling from across the lot.

Remember - this guy had only been out of the NFL a few years and his right arm probably weighed more than I did. I got nervous in a hurry.

I tried to explain to him what I was doing, but he didn't want to hear it. He brought me over to the caddie master and told him that he'd found me with a hanger trying to get into his car.

I paid the price. For the next three or four days, the only golf bags I was assigned to carry were ones belonging to parsimonious priests or penny-pinching widows.

A few years later, when I was one of the more senior caddies, we did manage to have some fun with Blanda. He'd always been a good golfer - close to scratch - but he was well-known for having a hot temper on the course. He threw golf clubs like they were footballs.

After one particularly ugly round, one of the older caddies came up with a plan to get Blanda to break his club-throwing habit. Caddies generally wear baseball hats or visors on the golf course. This plan involved a slight twist on that traditional headgear. The older caddies agreed that for the next several weeks, Blanda's caddie - no matter which of us it was - would wear a yellow construction hard-hat throughout the round. The members, including Blanda, eventually figured out what was going on. I think the hard-hat routine actually improved his disposition on the golf course.

I'll let the folks on sports talk radio dissect his amazing football career. All I'll say - as someone who once tried to break into his car - is that he was a nice guy (with at least one bad 8-track tape), he generally kept the ball in the fairway, and he tipped his caddies pretty well. Rest in peace, Mr. Blanda.

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:43 AM | Permalink

Indonesian Journal: The Control State

My police registration card arrived in the mail today. It's signed by the Inspector General of the National Police in Jakarta and attests to the fact that I've been sufficiently vetted by the proper authorities and adjudged sound enough of mind and circumstance to warrant the card. Which is nice.

I'm not exactly sure why I have the card or what it took to get one but the folks running the Fulbright program here in Indonesia told us that a police registration card is difficult to come by. In a country still very much defined by those who have access or an inkling of access to power and those who most definitely do not, possessing a difficult thing suggests a little social or political heft. It's exclusive, or exclusive-ish, and maybe the cops don't give you the hassle you might otherwise get as a foreigner working in a country where the official unemployment rate - about 8 percent - is a patently ginned-up fiction. Maybe you get to go without greasing anyone's palm, or maybe the asking price is a tad more cut-rate.

The police registration card marks the near-completion of a bureaucratic steeplechase that began two months ago in Chicago when I applied for a work visa that required many checked boxes, a couple handwritten applications, copies of my resume and grad school diploma, and one notarized criminal background check from the Illinois State Police. Visa in hand, I hopped a plane to Jakarta and spent five days in the capital city making myself available for visits to the local immigration and police offices. At one such office, I was fingerprinted and photographed and made to sign my name on some official-looking and smartly embossed documents. Later, this office issued a temporary work permit that I'm supposed to keep with me and my passport at all times. Fulbright staffers brokered all these meetings and were there to translate and to smile demurely on our behalf as uniformed civil servants grunted and pointed for us to make a mark here . . . and here.

There is no way I could have managed this rigmarole without the help of my fixers, and this, I'm guessing, is exactly the point. There is no way anyone can navigate this process without assistance, and there's no way to fully plumb which office or official does exactly what for whom. It's impossibly, unknowably opaque.

This means there's plenty of room for fudging at all levels of the bureaucracy, and there's almost unlimited deniability. Nobody is exactly in charge but everyone in epaulets or khaki or olive drab or wearing a name tag has a finger in the pie and must be addressed in turn. One day they're roses, the next not so much. Public politesse is not just good manners here; it's a functional necessity in a control state. You just can't afford to have the wrong kind of enemies, you know?

You also can't live here as a foreigner without registering with the local police. For me, this meant trips last week to meet with the chief of the local police department - who wore a baggy maroon suit and no badge - and afterward a separate meeting with the head of intelligence for what's basically the regional headquarters of the state police.

This guy, pretty young and casually official-looking, smoked throughout our hour-plus audience with him, asking questions to my school supervisors and occasionally looking at me with bemusement.

Do you speak Javanese? he asked in Javanese, knowing the answer. I looked at him blankly. My counterpart teacher later told me the police intelligence guy said I was free to travel but only if my counterpart went with me. I don't think that's necessary, my counterpart whispered.

Still, foreigners are supposed to notify local police departments of our presence in any city we visit overnight. I honestly have no idea how this system of movement-by-movement notification would work or whether people really do this but the rules are on the books and I'm guessing they're just waiting to be enforced if and when the opportunity presents itself. That's when I whip out the police registration card and take my chances.

But first, before I can even think about flouting the travel notification rules, I've still got to register with one more office here in little Magelang, Central Java. In addition to checking in at the two police stations - 45 hands shook, umpteen smiles and nods offered - and one department of education office, I am required to appear with a sponsor before the headman of my local neighborhood, or kampung, and make myself known. This quasi-official person serves as a point-man for local issues - he's a kind of mini-alderman - and he also feeds information and gossip to the police.

He's a good guy to know and a better guy to keep in mind when moving around town as one of maybe a handful of resident non-Indonesians. We went looking for him the other day but were told he wasn't around. My counterpart was concerned. We need to see him soon. I guess before he sees us first.

-

Brett McNeil is a former Chicago Tribune reporter, Chicago Journal editor, and Fulbright English teacher living in Indonesia. He blogs at The Year of Living Volcanically and is also the Beachwood's new Southeast Asia correspondent.

-

Previously:
* Indonesian Journal: Buying Flowers, Burning the Koran

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:26 AM | Permalink

September 27, 2010

The [Monday] Papers

I need to return to the Jesse Jackson Jr. story today to clarify an item I wrote on Friday, but first I want to direct readers to a fine story by the Tribune over the weekend about Michael Madigan's interests in the town of Justice that was so good I couldn't pick out just one part to highlight: "In Justice, All Roads Lead To Madigan."

I don't just like the story because of what it reveals about Madigan's modus operandi but because it seems to be so well-reported.

If only Madigan would deign to answer reporters' questions instead of hiding behind disingenuous mouthpiece Steve Brown. As I've suggested before, I'd like to see news organizations refuse to speak to Brown on stories of this kind of import and instead just note Madigan's refusal to answer questions about affairs the people of Illinois deserve to know more about.

Now on to Junior.

Bringing It On
On Friday, I wrote this item:

If the U.S. Attorney's Office really did leak damaging information about Jesse Jackson Jr. after Junior challenged them to "bring it on," then that's a story, isn't it? "Feds Retaliate With Leak." And you know who would know if that's what happened? Reporters. (Call me naive, but I remain skeptical. But it would be interesting to ask Patrick Fitzgerald if he intended to locate the leak and discipline any of his prosecutors.)

If some of the reaction to this item is valid, and I think it is, I failed to articulate my point as well as I could have. First, a couple missives sent my way:

Dude,

Fitzgerald's office didn't leak the Jesse story. The likely suspects are defense lawyers who represent witnesses, talk among themselves, and know what each other's clients are saying. In particular, there are two sets of defense lawyers who received extensive discovery of government interview reports in the Blago trial. Both of the clients had reason to hate Jackson. Either the lawyers or the clients could have called the press. One lawyer for a witness, Tom McQueen, was even quoted in at least one of the stories. Take off the tinfoil.

Another:

They'd been working that story for months - what you think they threw it together in three days?

I actually agree in general with those sentiments. Last Wednesday I wrote this item:

Does Walter Jacobson have any reporting on which to base last night's "Perspective" on Jesse Jackson Jr., or is he just guessing? Because an awful lot of it sure doesn't ring true.

"Fitz is snarling, and looking for a high-profile politician to prosecute."

Um, Patrick Fitzgerald isn't really the snarling type. And does Jacobson really think Fitzgerald is on the prowl to take down a high-profile politician because he didn't get much of Rod Blagojevich's scalp? I doubt that's how he operates.

I should have reiterated and made clear on Friday my exasperation at speculation that Fitzgerald's office responded to Junior's taunt that seemed to lack any confirmation via reporting. Just a few examples:

Mary Mitchell, Sun-Times: "Besides, it takes a lot of arrogance to taunt the feds with 'bring it on' when you have embarrassing secrets."

Tribune: "Somebody brought it on."

Rich Miller, Capitol Fax: "Methinks somebody just brought it on."

Eric Zorn, Trib: "JJJr. said 'bring it on' to the Feds last Friday, the Feds evidently brought it on by leaking damaging information to the Sun-Times and now we must stick a fork in the formerly doughy scion of the Family Jackson."

Charles Thomas, ABC7: "I've talked to literally dozens of pols during the last 24 hours and virtually every one of them is convinced that Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr's widely reported challenge to federal prosecutors to 'bring it on' had something to do with the timing of Tuesday's blockbuster Chicago Sun Times story . . . Jesse Jackson, Jr. supporters I talked to at his wife's birthday party Tuesday night are convinced the feds leaked the information, or at the very least 'looked the other way' when the Nayak and Huidobro revelations were made to let the Congressman know they have the at-ready means to 'bring it on.'"

Um, just because people think something doesn't make it true.

Now, to be excruciatingly fair to some of the folks I just mentioned, using the "bring it on" meme combined with "somebody" bringing it on, or in jest, doesn't necessarily endorse the Fitzgerald theory. Yet, it reinforces it - or at least reinforces the idea that the story appeared as a direct result of the taunt.

The first Sun-Times story cited "sources with knowledge of the probe" but also noted that "The Sun-Times has been investigating the new allegations since the beginning of the year."

That doesn't mean the taunt didn't result in the last domino of reporting falling, but it doesn't mean it did either.

The point here isn't to try to out the Sun-Times's sources; to the contrary my target was those assuming that the leak came out of Fitzgerald's office without any seeming confirmation. And then a bunch of others running with it.

There is another point, though. Sometimes the fact that someone is leaking is news too. Again, I'm not suggesting we all try to out the sources (note the plural), but that motive to leak is an element. This is one reason why some papers, such as the New York Times, sometimes (but not enough) try to indicate to readers where a source is coming from: " . . . said a source with a financial interest in the deal going through."

Or consider this case: "It now appears that the final chapter has been written in the nearly decade-long legal saga that began in 1982 when editors at the Minneapolis Star Tribune and the St. Paul Pioneer Press overrode promises of confidentiality made by their reporters, and published the identity of a source.

"Minneapolis political campaign operative Dan Cohen sued the newspapers for revealing his name in stories about political dirty tricks on the eve of a state election. The editors determined that Cohen's identity as the source was newsworthy and, for that reason, more important than the pledges of secrecy given him by reporters he tipped off."

I don't endorse what the editors there did because they did so after-the-fact and burned not only the source but the reporters. But reporters going into stories ought to consider the newsworthiness of why someone is leaking before promising confidentiality and accepting the information.

That's not to say I'm suggesting the Sun-Times reporters did anything wrong; I am not. I have no reason to believe that. But this kind of reporting can get complicated and is fraught with peril. That's one reason why it is so difficult to pull off.

My problem is with the leak meme that has taken hold. Let's not repeat it unless or until we know it's true, as naive as that may sound in some quarters. Journalists, of all people, should know that things are rarely as they merely seem.

Where Whitney Stands
You have a choice, folks.

Bridge Camp and Cancer
In Cirque du Familie.

Let Ozzie Walk
"Not because it's easy to find a guy who overestimates the value of the Mark Kotsays of the world," our very own Andrew Reilly writes. "It is, but that's not the point."

Jim Hendry's Interview Schedule
A Cub Factor exclusive.

Live! Jackson Browne in Chicago
Call it a loan.

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Leaky.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:32 AM | Permalink

Live! Jackson Browne in Chicago

"Jackson Browne may represent the ultimate singer-songwriter from the ultimate singer-songwriter era: Los Angeles in the early 1970s," Mark Guarino writes for the Sun-Times. "But like every good story, there's a better back story, and in Browne's musical biography that constitutes David Lindley, whose guitar work provided the perfect emotional counterweight to Browne's melancholic lyrics and sad, thoughtful vocals.

"Lindley's guitar stopped being heard on Browne's albums once synthesizers started being heard on them - it was the 1980s, after all - and the two musicians only just recently regrouped for a live album and now a tour. Because Browne's name still tops the bill and the set list had no surprises, the sold-out show at the Chicago Theatre on Thursday was less a reunion than a revisiting of a signature sound between two collaborators that neither recaptured in their 30 years apart."

A couple highlights and bonus back-video:

1. A debt that I owe, on a bet that I lost.

-

2. Don't think too badly of one left holding sand.

-

And while we're here, also featuring David Lindley in Chicago on Soundstage 1976:

1. Such an empty surprise to feel so alone.

-

2. Chasing songs from town to town.

-

3. That hollow sounds of your own steps in flight.

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:53 AM | Permalink

Jim Hendry's Interview Schedule

The news last week that Jim Hendry's ever-expanding list of managerial candidates being granted interviews now includes Don Wakamatsu led us here at The Cub Factor to wonder who isn't getting an interview. Is Hendry getting paid per candidate? And why does he seem determined to interview everyone who ever managed Milton Bradley?

The Cub Factor put its crack reporting staff into the field to answer these questions and struck gold when we obtained the remainder of Hendry's interview schedule. Here is today's lineup, just for starters.

7 a.m.: That kid at the Dunkin' Donuts who always knew Soriano shouldn't lead-off.

8 a.m.: Tom Ricketts, third interview.

9 a.m.: Yosh Kawano. He understands Cubs culture.

10 a.m.: Bob Brenly. Len Kasper.

11 a.m.: Ozzie Guillen. Experienced with spectacular collapses.

Noon: Tom Ricketts, over lunch.

1 p.m.: Kerry Wood and Mark Prior. Conducting in a hot tub.

2 p.m.: Rahm Emanuel. In the locker room while naked.

3 p.m: Ron Santo. (Note to self: Just thank Ron after five minutes and he'll think a whole hour just went by.)

4 p.m.: Dutchie Caray. Over cocktails. It's 5 p.m. somewhere.

5 p.m.: The Harry Caray statue.

6 p.m.: Sammy Sosa. Beware corked resume.

7 p.m.: Mike Quade, second interview. Remind me again, what is your current position?

8 p.m.: Lou Piniella, second interview. Wife not so thrilled having you around all the time, huh?

9 p.m.: Himself. Even though he's not so sure about the track record of the GM.

Week in Review: The Cubs went 2-4, losing two of three to both the Giants and Cardinals. The shine is a bit off of the Mike Quade penny.

Week in Preview: The Cubs finish up the season with four in San Diego and three in Houston. Expect the possible battle for third place in the division against the Astros to be intense!

The Second Basemen Report: Blake DeWitt got four starts and Darwin Barney got two. We predict that at this time next year, we'll be writing that Barney got four starts and DeWitt got the other two. Or neither. Because that's how Jim Hendry draws it up.

In former second basemen news, the first-place Giants led off one of their games against the Cubs with Mike Fontenot. So maybe the Cubs aren't that far away from being a contender. Mighty Mini-Mike is missed.

The Zam Bomb: Is Big Z pitching this well so the Cubs will keep him or trade him? We find him oddly still apologetic.

zam_apologetic.jpg

-

Lost in Translation: Everyone-io and their mother-san is Japanese for Jim Hendry's interview list.

Endorsement No-Brainer: Jim Hendry for Career Builder because he is giving a lot of people a chance.

Sweet and Sour Quade: 75% sweet, 25% sour. Mike Quade stands pat this week due to not winning as much as losing and being okay with it. And just like your smart, well-adjusted uncle, Mike sees that old Aunt Gladys bought lemons instead of oranges at the store. But instead of ripping into her and making lemonade, he'll just run to the 7-11 and get some OJ. Because making due means you just do your best.

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Shares in the company that makes up the Mike Quade jerseys traded down this week.

Over/Under: The number of Cub fans who will stay up and watch these games in San Diego in their entirety not including those on Jim Hendry's interview list: +/- 60.

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 talking to a lot of people doesn't mean you know what you are doing.

Agony & Ivy: It's a way of life.

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: The Wrigleyville area is still considered a disaster area despite the removal of its main source of danger. Please avoid as increased traffic due to managerial interviews poses a risk to siteseers.

mtlou_red.gif

-

Contact The Cub Factor!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:12 AM | Permalink

Where Whitney Stands

Governor's race got you down? Hate having to choose between the bumbling Governor Gumby and a narrow-minded Neanderthal? You have another option: Green Party candidate Rich Whitney.

But where does Whitney really stand on the issues? In his own words, from his campaign:

State Budget: The fundamental cause of our state deficit is our regressive tax system, which imposes the largest share of the tax burden on those least able to pay. We need to move toward a more progressive system by shielding lower and middle-income working people before raising the individual and corporate income tax, via a measure like HB 174 or SB 750.

We also need to impose a financial transactions tax on speculative trading, which can raise billions of dollars for our schools, colleges and social services without harming genuine productive activity.

I support establishing a state bank like North Dakota has had for years, which allows the state to generate income without raising additional taxes. On the spending side, I support a thorough examination or forensic audit* to eliminate spending that does not serve a legitimate public purpose.

Taxation: The issue is not whether we need an income tax increase; the issue is how we make our tax system fairer. The tax burden needs to be shifted to those most able to pay. Measures like SB 750 would raise the individual rate to 5 percent and the corporate rate to 8 percent - but would protect the bottom 60 percent of income earners from actually paying the higher tax. We also need to fund education more through the state rather than local property taxes - and provide badly needed property tax relief. HB 174 and SB 750 include that as part of the package.

Economy and Job Opportunities: I have a comprehensive plan to meet the goal of a full employment economy. It starts with solving the budget crisis and restoring health to the public sector, especially education. A public sector that invests in people - their education, health care, infrastructure, affordable housing and affordable clean energy - is the key to creating a healthy and productive private sector. That's why I am fighting for free higher education for Illinois residents and a single-payer universal health care system. I am fighting for a Green capital bill to promote renewable energy, with manufacturing based in Illinois, sustainable transportation, including real high-speed rail, smart urban redesign and energy efficiency. I propose to use the power of eminent domain to reclaim and retool closed factories and facilities, and reopen them as community-owned or employee-owned enterprises. My state bank proposal can provide a powerful tool of monetary policy, to extend credit where it is needed to attain our economic goals.

Education: Our state Constitution makes it a fundamental obligation of government to provide quality educational opportunities to all. But our state government actually provides the lowest percentage of state support for education of any state in the U.S., and we also have among the most unequal schools in the U.S., between rich and poor districts. Our over-reliance on property taxes to fund our schools is a related problem of long standing. My plans for addressing the budget crisis will not only alleviate these problems; I want to go beyond that and make a major public investment into education, so that we can achieve the goal of providing high quality educational opportunities for all, not only from pre-K - 12, but beyond. To me it is unacceptable that in one of the wealthiest states in the wealthiest nation in the world, our schools are failing and students must incur a lifetime of debt just to obtain a college degree. You will not find a stronger advocate for public education than Rich Whitney. Investing in our childrens' education is always the very smartest thing a government can do.

Public Pensions: For years, the General Assembly and a succession of both Democratic and Republican governors deliberately underfunded our public pension system because it was more convenient to do that rather than practice fiscal responsibility. Now that we have the largest unfunded pension liability in the United States, much of the corporate media in this state have taken to blaming the workers for the problem, spreading the lie that their pension benefits are too "generous," when in fact they are extremely modest compared to other states. Workers pay their fair share into the system and often lose Social Security benefits as part of the price for receiving them. In my view, this is actually part of an ongoing attack on the middle class by Wall Street and certain financial interests that have sought to undermine defined benefit pensions in favor of having workers invest their retirement funds into riskier instruments like 401(k)s. Yes, there are some who abuse the pension plans by "gaming the system," and that must be stopped. But the vast majority of our pensioners are just trying to enjoy their reasonable rewards after years of devoted public service. I will fight to maintain existing pension standards, not undermine them, and restore adequate and responsible funding to the system.

On The Role of Government and the Public Sector: There are some forces in society today that push the view that government itself is the problem - government is bad, government is irredeemably inefficient, venal and hopeless. I disagree. What is true is that when government is under the control of big moneyed interests, multinational corporations and banks that have an agenda of undermining government, so that they themselves can reap private profits at public expense, then government can indeed be all of these things. Under the reign of the two corporate-sponsored parties, that is exactly what we have been getting. But government does not have to be any of these things. It can also be a force for the public good, when we, the people, control it. That is one of the reasons why we formed the Green Party, a party that refuses corporate campaign contributions; a party based on positive principles aimed at serving the public good. If we stop looking at government as "it," or "them," and start looking at it as "us" - if we take the steps needed to make it an expression of "us" - then government will indeed become a force for the public good.

Gambling: I oppose the expansion of gambling into video poker, new casinos or anything else, and will fight to repeal all state-sanctioned gambling, exempting only established riverboats. Gambling is a hidden tax on the poor, the ignorant and the addiction-prone. While it has become an important source of revenue for the state, its supposed benefits are illusory when we consider that it drains disposable income from the poor and desperate that would otherwise be spent on useful commodities. There are also the social costs of more bankruptcies, crime, blight, domestic conflict and divorce, substance abuse, and other secondary effects. Our state government should not be promoting activities that separate low-income people from their money.

Death Penalty: I would not only extend the moratorium on the death penalty in Illinois, I would fight to repeal capital punishment altogether. A criminal justice system composed of imperfect human beings does not have the moral authority to take a human life. Experience shows that the risk of error is too great and the consequences of error too severe - and, of course, irreversible - to justify capital punishment. There is also no credible evidence that it deters violent crime. I believe the opposite is true: That when the state takes a human life, it sends a message that taking a human life is sometimes justified.

Legalization of Marijuana: Prohibition was a disaster when we tried it with alcohol. Criminalizing it only fueled organized crime and violence. The same is true of our criminalization of marijuana, which also wastes a tremendous amount of criminal justice resources apprehending, prosecuting and punishing people for using a benign and in some respects beneficial natural plant. And during a time of budgetary and economic hardship, it is foolish to deprive ourselves of a potential source of revenue by driving it underground. The gains from legalizing marijuana can be multiplied if we also legalize its close botanical cousin, hemp.

Second Amendment/Conceal and Carry: I agree with the Supreme Court that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to bear arms. That right does have limits; the question is where to draw the line. To me it should be absolute in the home, except for those who have waived their rights by committing a violent offense. I support the right to carry for persons who can pass a high threshold of testing for gun proficiency, safety and knowledge of acceptable use for self-defense. But I also support the right of counties to opt out of such a statewide system. If we are serious about addressing gun violence, the focus should not be on limiting the rights of law-abiding people to bear arms; it should be on the unscrupulous and unlawful trafficking of arms by some gun merchants, and more importantly, on the root causes of violence - unemployment, poverty, homelessness, failing schools and failing families, child abuse and neglect. No policy on guns will solve the problem of violent crime as long as these scourges remain.

Public Safety: Public safety, like education, health care and infrastructure, is one of those core functions of government that must be maintained as a cost of civilization. Yet in Illinois, it may become yet another victim of our broken tax and budget system, as even our State Police are being threatened with budget cuts. This is unacceptable - and yet another reason to vote for the only candidate who actually has a plan to fix the problem.

Campaign Finance Reform: Our elections should be clean, fair to all candidates, informative, accurate, and reflective of the public will, not the power of big money. I support public financing of elections for those who achieve a certain threshold of small donations (like the system in Maine). I favor a ban on "soft money" contributions, more stringent campaign finance limits on donations in Illinois, and limits on the transfer of funds from party leadership to candidates. I also favor a ban on corporate campaign contributions in Illinois. Despite the ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court in the Citizens United case, we can effectively bar corporate interference in the political process by reinvigorating our corporate chartering laws, and imposing a new requirement: That corporations shall not be chartered, nor foreign corporations allowed to do business in Illinois, unless they agree not to engage in speech aimed at influencing its officeholders or candidates, or provide monetary support to any organization that aims to influence officeholders or candidates.

Ethics in Government: As an attorney, I have combated illegal job patronage. As your next governor, I pledge to vigorously enforce the rules of the Rutan decision, that all non-policy-making state jobs be selected on the basis of objective criteria by an independent bureau. I also promise to appoint an Inspector General from an opposition party, to prevent and root out illegal job patronage and help remove the cloud of corruption over our state. I will also fight to create an independent Citizens' Budget Review Commission, which will conduct a forensic audit of our operating and capital budgets, armed with the authority to subpoena witnesses and documents, to ferret out wasteful pork spending, ghost jobs, inefficient practices and expenditures - and any spending that does not serve a legitimate public purpose. I will fight to end "pay-for-play" in Illinois by banning campaign contributions from state contractors, their owners and officers - and barring the awarding of contracts to any company whose owners or officers had made such a contribution to an incumbent. Contracts should be awarded on the basis of merit, with consideration given to historically disadvantaged groups and under-served communities. I will also look to the recommendations of the Illinois Reform Commission and the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform for further guidance on ethics and campaign finance reform.

Redistricting: I supported the Fair Map Amendment. In lieu of that, the best thing that Illinoisans can do to ensure a fair, rational result is to elect myself and my fellow Green candidates who are running for the General Assembly. We have no vested interest in incumbency to protect; our sole interest is in having more competitive elections, and in having districts that make sense - geographically, socially and economically.

Who Will Run the Executive Branch under the Whitney Administration? In Illinois, we have a number of very dedicated and knowledgeable citizens groups that have come up with many of the public policy ideas that I am fighting for in this campaign: The Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, Voices for Illinois Children, Health-Care for All Illinois, the Illinois Stewardship Alliance, Transition Towns, the Midwest High-Speed Rail Association, the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform and the Illinois Ballot Integrity Project - just to name a few. There are also the hundreds of organizations in coalitions such as the Responsible Budget Coalition, the Illinois Environmental Council and the Illinois Coalition for Peace, Justice and the Environment. Both inside and outside Illinois, we have tremendous talent and great public policy minds in the Green Party and in other progressive organizations. I intend to tap into that tremendous body of talent in staffing the top, policy-making positions of a Whitney administration.

But I would not rely on that body alone. The smartest course would be to blend the talents of such creative and innovative thinkers with the underutilized talents of our many genuine career public servants, Democratic, Republican and independent, who have already been carrying out the actual work of providing public services for years. In every agency we have these unsung heroes of government, the people who have been performing their duties conscientiously and admirably, laboring under political appointees of both Democratic and Republican administrations. These are the people who know how to get things done, despite bureaucratic obstacles and political agendas that can get in the way. If elected, I will seek out the best of these career public servants and give them an opportunity to actually administer the agencies that they have served for so long. Good creative and innovative public policy ideas have to be meshed with the nuts-and-bolts of providing public service if they are to become effective. My approach will be to locate the best people representing each kind of talent - and build teams that can best put our sound public policy ideas into practice.

Reproductive Rights: It is difficult to persuade some people of this but there is common ground on the abortion issue. Even the most ardent pro-choice advocate understands that it is desirable to reduce the frequency of abortion, and that should be the unifying goal. I favor creating a full employment economy, the fullest educational opportunities for all, including age-appropriate sex education and parental education, to build strong cohesive families and an environment where women are better enabled to afford to raise children - which will do more to reduce the incidence of abortion than any legislative restrictions. Criminalizing abortion will do little to reduce its frequency; it will only drive it underground again, with unacceptable consequences. Therefore, I do not support additional legal limitations on abortion. I support the Roe v. Wade framework.

Immigration: When jobs are scarce, many unemployed or underemployed workers understandably tend to blame other workers who are competing for the scarce jobs, instead of directing their anger and frustration at the institutions and policies that caused jobs to be so scarce in the first place. Instead of demonizing or scapegoating undocumented workers, we need to make the pathways to legalization much easier, so that immigrants can openly organize, join the struggle for living wage jobs, and make it easier to enforce our labor laws. We also need to address the real causes of the flow of undocumented workers to the United States: Our agribusiness policies that have ruined many of Mexico's farmers, and so-called free trade policies like NAFTA that have harmed both nations' economies. We need to recognize that, in the long run, immigrants have always generated more new business and net gains in jobs. We need to recognize that the corporate media spread a lot of disinformation about immigrants, and that the truth is that undocumented workers typically pay more in taxes than they ever receive in government benefits.

As Governor, my focus will be on creating the kind of healthy, productive economy that will provide quality jobs for all. I will not support an Arizona-type law. I will not allow state workers to participate in police state tactics or racial profiling. I will not blame, criminalize or persecute the victims of a failed national policy but will support Green Party candidates for federal office, who can best address that failed national policy. I will vigorously enforce our labor laws, to halt the extreme exploitation of immigrant workers and put an end to the practices that allow one group of workers to undermine another, to the detriment of all. I will work to build an efficient public sector, adequately and fairly funded, that can deliver quality services and educational opportunities to all - so that all have an equal opportunity to succeed by contributing to society.

LGBT Rights: My position on the rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, and Transgender persons, and persons of other "unconventional" sexual orientations (queer-identity, intersex, polyamorous and others) can be summarized very succinctly: I stand for equal protection under the law, equal rights in society and the workplace, and for embracing diversity. All persons, regardless of sexual orientation, must be accorded the same rights and the same opportunities to participate fully in all aspects of the life of society. This includes equal rights to employment opportunities, educational opportunities, health care and more. It includes the right to go to a senior prom with a same-sex partner and the right to serve in the military or other branches of government. It includes the right to marry, a current major focus of the LGBT rights movement. We as a society need to recognize the truth that there is great breadth in human nature, human experience and human relations. We need to learn to cherish the freedom and richness it brings to our culture.

Environment: Global warming is a disaster already in progress. Other threats, from coal-fired power plants that literally kill thousands of people each year from pollutants, to more insidious threats from nuclear power plants, endocrine disrupters, GMO foods and more, demand rapid and decisive action. Before adopting a policy or position on any issue, we must always consider and weigh the environmental impact. Beyond that, we need to proactively and aggressively promote renewable energy production, energy efficiency, sustainable transportation including real high-speed rail, smart urban planning and redesign, local food production for local use, tough action to control pollutants, a fee-and-dividend system to combat global warming - and adoption of the precautionary principle (until it's proven safe, don't put it into the environment) as an operating principle of our public policy. For a genuine Green future, including the new Green jobs that everyone is talking about, we need to get real Greens elected to office!

Militarism and War: Although militarism and war are national issues, they have a tremendous impact on our state. We have lost dozens of National Guardsmen in both the Iraq and Afghan occupations, and countless wounded, both physically and mentally. The economic costs are also unacceptable. With 4.5 percent of the world's population, we spend more on the military than the rest of the world combined. Every dollar spent represents money taken away from our schools, social services, health care, infrastructure and other pressing social needs. Our state's share of tax revenue on the Iraq and Afghan occupations alone now stands at about $59 billion, enough money to eliminate our state deficit 4-1/2 times over.

Aggressive war and occupation of other nations is plainly unjustifiable and immoral. It has brought with it the evils of war crimes against civilians, torture, radioactive contamination and environmental destruction, the creation of millions of refugees, and other massive human suffering. It is also illegal. Any presidential order to commit more troops to Afghanistan or Iraq violates international law, including the Charter of the United Nations, the Geneva Conventions, the Charter of the Nuremberg Tribunal and international agreements dealing with the suppression and control of terrorism. Accordingly, if elected Governor of Illinois, I would honor my commitment to the Constitution and established international law, and assert the governor's right to veto any mobilization of the Illinois National Guard for service in Iraq or Afghanistan. I will take on the federal government on this issue. The peace movement, long ignored, but representing the wishes of most Americans, has a candidate in the governor's race.

Forensic Audit: A forensic audit is a thorough examination of income and expenditures, gathering evidence that could be used in court, to identify fraud and misappropriations. I propose to expand the concept with respect to the budget, to include appropriations that were made for purposes of rewarding political friends or that do not serve a legitimate public purpose.

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:51 AM | Permalink

Let Ozzie Walk

He wants to walk? Here's an idea: Let him walk. Let him leave. Wish him well in Florida or New York or Lakeview or wherever he ends up and move on.

Not because it's easy to find a guy who overestimates the value of the Mark Kotsays of the world. It is, but that's not the point.

Nor is it because awkward roster construction is much less daunting a task than it seems.

Nor because an arm is an arm is an arm, even if it's attached to Randy Williams or Mike MacDougal or whoever is available when the team is going to win with "confidence" instead of "superior skill."

Nor because there are countless players, who play the game the right way (with heart, drive, and a good work ethic) even while actually playing it the wrong way (without sound defense, fundamental hitting skills, or even a modicum of power) just waiting for someone to give them a chance.

Nor because there are plenty of other people who insist wins mean something as a pitching statistic and are totally ready to leave their starter in way too long because, you know, when he wins we win, or whatever it is those win-minded winners win win win.

Nor because a lot of people did something great five years ago and have been holding it over our heads ever since.

Nor because tacky remarks regarding a beloved ballpark icon are the exclusive province of number 13.

Ozzie Guillen has repeatedly remarked that part of his job is to deflect blame and negative attention from his players; let them take the credit for successes while he bears the burden for the failures, that sort of thing, which would sound nicer had the team not long since degenerated into nothing but failures. Yes, 2005 was great. Yes, exactly three of the 166 games the Sox played in 2008 were unquestionably compelling baseball. What of the other 84 percent of Guillen's tenure?

Yes, the Sox are "usually in contention" and "fighting" and "not terrible all the time" but, armed with the largest payroll in baseball's worst division, perpetual contention is not really much a consolation prize. If it was, we'd be getting a little more excited for the upcoming annual second-place parade; instead here we sit, resigning ourselves to the fact that one major factor of the equation no longer helps solve its larger, ever-growing problems.

So let him go. Give him his speedy bunters and scrappy grinders who fight to play, or whatever it is the Sox - the Sox team he wanted, mind you - aren't capable of anymore. We don't know who out there holds the key to unlocking greatness from the team we cheer for but, another lost season almost in the books, I think we know a little more clearly who doesn't.

Week in Review: In a microcosm of their season, the Sox opened the week dropping two to the A's to run their losing streak to eight, then ripped off four straight wins including a sweep of the Angels. Forget steroids, this team needs Abilify.

Week in Preview: Finally. Finish out the season at home with four against the Red Sox and three against the Indians to once and for all put an end this nonsense.

Hawkeroo's Can-O-Corn Watch: "I tell ya, it's always a treat to see these two Sox teams, the White Sox and the Red Sox, play against each other, and that this rivalry can be showcased in historic Fenway Park and right here in beautiful U.S. Cellular Field. It was always one thing I loved in my time with Boston was playing those White Sox teams. You had guys like Joe Horlen, Gary Peters, Jerry Nyman, guys who just gave us fits in the batter's box. I remember once I asked a teammate of mine, a pitcher by the name of Jack Sanford, he said to me that the best games he ever threw were the ones where hitters came ready to hit, and that those Sox teams he faced always were ready to do just that. And I asked him, 'Well, who's the best at that skill of hitting to hit?' And he just looked at me and said, 'Maybe you should ask the man wearing that number 8 jersey over there.' And I tell you something, that was something that has proved to be more and more true ever since."

Gordon Beckham Hall of Fame Update: Gordon Beckham career earnings: $445,000 and counting. Cy Young career earnings: $12,230. Advantage: Beckham by a thousand swimming pools full of quarters.

Alumni News You Can Use: Former White Sox pitching enigma Javier Vazquez tied a Major League record (held by Dock Ellis, among others) by hitting three batters in a row Thursday night against Tampa Bay. The White Sox Report salutes Vazquez' achievement, but prefers Ellis' method and motivations.

The "H" in "DH" Stands For: How ever will they replicate this masterstroke next year? Is David Eckstein a free agent yet? He is? Good. Can we trade the farm for him anyway? That kid's got the type of grindiness this city needs.

The Q Factor: All things end, he reminds himself, but only so all things may begin again. And as the season goes, so shall I. Some may call it the circle of life. I choose to call it more trips to the weight room. Sleepless nights in the batting cage. Speed drills. Blast lifts. In the world where I live, inactivity is reserved for the weak and the dead, and tonight, friends, I plan to live.

The Guillen Meter: The job getting worse by the day and his annual performance review coming up, the Guillen Meter reads 2009-11/12 for "Hey, is your company hiring?"

Endorsement No-Brainer: Janet Jackson, Cinderella, Joni Mitchell, Amy Grant, and Counting Crows featuring Vanessa Carlton for emerging Oakland superstar pitcher Gio Gonzalez: don't know what you've got 'til it's gone.

Cubs Snub: First a broken bat, now a foul ball: objects in motion will remain in motion, unless they too hate the Cubs. Which they clearly do.

The White Sox Report: Read 'em all.

The Cub Factor: It's funny because it's true.

-

The White Sox Report welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:28 AM | Permalink

Cirque du Familie: Bridge Camp and Cancer

So after the initial shock of my mom's cancer wore off, life tried to go on as normal. Well, as normal as it ever gets around here, anyway. Only it didn't work too well. Aside from the fact that I've been sick for a year with some Crohn's-like disease and am fairly often home-bound (with my parents), now mom's sick too. And as hard as it is for me to deal with her being sick, she really can't deal with me being sick. Which is understandable. She's freaked out. Who wouldn't be?

A few days after her diagnosis, she flew off to bridge camp. Yes, she and her friends go to an old country house every September and do nothing but play bridge for five days. Yowza.

Still, it seemed restorative. She got to see her friends and she wasn't stuck at home worrying.

Then she came home and got some bad news. The cancer seemed to have spread. She was facing a full mastectomy, radiation, and chemo.

My attempts to escape familial interaction (yes, I'm 35 and this is how I deal with things) didn't go over so well. It's not like I don't know that I'm going to be taking over cooking, cleaning, arguing with my father, etc. etc. There's really no need to remind me. I'm ready to do it. I'm happy to do it. She has cancer. It's time to step up.

A few days after her arrival home, she and my father jet off to visit a friend's summer home in the cheddar state. I'm a little confused by the fact that she's gotten this diagnosis and it seems like it should be tended to, yet she's jet-setting around the country, but at least I have the house to myself for a week. I calm my own nerves by throwing a cookout which produces so many leftovers I begin to doubt I'll ever have to go to the store again. My steadfast boyfriend stays with me, when he's not toiling away cooking food for drunken Irish people. I worry, but it does me little good.

My mother and I have had, to say the least, a contentious relationship since I was about seven years old. I've worked pretty hard to overcome it over the past few years, and I think she has too. The thought that she has something in her body that could kill her terrifies me. She's my mom. I'm just starting to be able to have a normal conversation with her. I can't lose her now.

They return from their trip refreshed, but she's tired and unusually quiet. My dad is drinking heavily. I would be too, but I'm broke, and the only beer in the house is Moosehead, which tastes more like moose piss.

Then, a break.

They do a scan and it shows that the cancer has not spread, after all. In fact, she can have a simple lumpectomy and go home the same day. Although there's some chance they'll find something unexpected, requiring more treatment, the weight that's been dragging us all down has been lifted. She's scheduled for surgery on Tuesday.

This week has been a whirlwind of doctor's appointments, as well as manicures, pedicures, haircuts, shopping, etc. This is the mother I know. She may have cancer and they may be planning to mutilate her breast, but she's going to get it done in style. The sense of relief is palpable, not only in our house, but across the neighborhood.

My mom's on prayer lists across the country. As a devout atheist, I don't believe that any entity from above intervenes in our lives and makes things better or worse, according to a whim. I do believe, though, that positive energy has a way of somehow helping people who are suffering feel better. And no matter how she sees it or I see it, it has made a difference for her. It's buoyed her. And the good will emanating from so many people has buoyed me.

I started writing this because my family's initial reaction to my mom's diagnosis was so bizarre that I had to share it. Over the past few weeks, I've realized that sometimes you just have to push through the shock at first. Oh, it hits you. Slowly, gradually, painfully. The fear she has felt has been overwhelming at times, but she's been very brave.

One last doctor's appointment on Monday, and surgery on Tuesday. And then we'll see what's next. Maybe it will all be over. Maybe she'll walk out of there and never be troubled by this again. Maybe.

But it is an aggressive cancer, and we've all known people who have died of this, or have gone through tortuous treatment, or have had one relapse after another. So at this point, I'm just trying to be cautiously optimistic.

For the first time since I was a small child, I find myself terrified at the thought of life without my mother. Through all the years of fighting, arguing, complaints, recriminations, it never once occurred to me that some day, she'll be gone.

I just hope like hell it's not anytime soon.

-

Claudia Hunter is the Beachwood's pseudononymous family affairs correspondent. She welcomes your comments. She welcomes your comments.

-

Previously:
* Cirque du Familie: Psst, Your Mother Has Cancer

And:
* Home for the Holidays: The Preamble
* Home for the Holidays: Day 1
* Home for the Holidays: Day 2
* Home for the Holidays: Day 3
* Home for the Holidays: Day 4 (Christmas Eve)
* Home for the Holidays: Day 5 (Christmas)
* Home for the Holidays: Day 6
* Home for the Holidays: Day 7
* Home for the Holidays: Postscript
* Home for the Holidays: The Sequel

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:00 AM | Permalink

September 25, 2010

The College Football Report: Blue Horseshoe Loves Boise State

The Week Four Obligatory Heisman Discussion
In the wake of the explosion by Denard "Shoelaces" Robinson in the early going of this season, we will now engage in the mandatory Heisman speculation. The Michigan QB has gone crazy in the first three games, with over 500 yards rushing, 4 TDs and a very un-QB-like 7.6 yards per attempt. Oh, and he has thrown the ball a little bit too - to the tune of 671 yards, a 70% completion percentage and a ridiculous 158.64 QB rating. If you don't know anything about QB ratings, don't worry. We don't either. But we do know that's a good number. And don't forget the decimals - that's the difference between #20 (Robinson) and #21 (Clemson QB Kyle Parker, at 158.4). To top things off, some guy at The Michigan Daily snapped a photo of Robinson that bears a striking resemblance to a certain famous trophy.

But before we award Robinson the Heisman, let's note that he isn't the only quarterback putting up gaudy numbers running and throwing the ball. Taylor Martinez has led #6 Nebraska with over 400 yards rushing (at a 10.5 yards per attempt clip) and 8 TDs. However, Martinez's passing numbers (392 yards, 1 TD) don't compare to those of Colin Kaepernick of Nevada. The Wolfpack quarterback sits ranks among the top 15 FBS players in rushing (369 yards and 7 TDs) and QB rating (with 728 yards, 5 TDs and 0 INTs). And of course some QBs don't bother with the running, like Ryan Mallett of Arkansas (1081 yards), Brandon Weeden of Oklahoma State (975 yards, 11 TDs) and Nick Foles of Arizona (877 yards, 4 TDs).

In the backfield, our predicted pick for the top finisher among running backs (Wisconsin RB John Clay) hasn't cracked the top 10 list in total yards. For sake of comparison, the guy just below Clay carries the ball for the unranked Kentucky Wildcats. UK RB John Locke has nearly identical stats, except that Clay rushes for #11 Wisconsin while the 3-0 Wildcats have yet to garner a single vote for the Top 25. In other words, Clay hasn't done much to stand out from the field. At this point, Clay doesn't even seem like the best back in the Big Ten. Michigan State sophomore Edwin Baker has 4 TDs, 390 yards and 8.5 per rush. Now Baker just needs a great photo.

But let's not overlook the other skill position on offense. Two wideouts in the Sooner State - Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon and Oklahoma's Ryan Broyles - have set their sights on being an "also-ran" for the 2010 Heisman. Wait, are we not supposed to talk about that? You know, that since Michigan's all-everything Charles Woodson won in 1997, the Heisman has gone to a QB or RB every year?

SEC Hype Reaches a Fever Pitch
As we head into Week Four, four Southeastern Conference teams rank in the Top 10 (Alabama #1, Florida #9 and Arkansas #10) and six teams in the Top 25. Most BCS conferences tend to have a number of teams in the Top 25, and even as many as six is not an unusual number. The Big Ten also has six this week, the Pac-10 has five and so on. But as many teams start conference play, we should remind ourselves that - apart from the top tier - SEC teams are not immortal.

For example, in his blog on ESPN.com, Pac-10 sportswriter Ted Miller points out that the SEC has a losing record against both the Pac-10 and Big East (12-9 and 19-14, respectively) since 1998. And while the conference will have at least three undefeated teams next week, we should be careful not to grant the top spot overall to the SEC this season. The debate takes place every year - which conference has the best bowl season, who wins the national championship, etc. Don't get us wrong - until someone can beat Alabama, the national championship runs through the SEC - but some early strength of schedule numbers don't put the conference in a good light.

For example, the stats folks at teamrankings.com put the SEC's strength of schedule to date in a virtual dead heat with that of the WAC at fourth in the nation.

And that other West Coast conference (the Pac-10) merits some attention as well. The conference has at least proved to be one of the more interesting to watch thus far. Five ranked teams, including #5 Oregon, may factor into the conference championship (with #20 USC as spoiler) although Saturday night's matchup between Boise and Oregon State may drop that number to four. (We're not sold on Oregon State.) And lest we forget, the drop off between the top teams in the Pac-10 and the likes of Washington State looks steep.

But despite the success of the Pac-10, much less the WAC and Mountain West, the SEC still hogs the spotlight. Take Ivan Maisel's column on Wednesday: Are we to believe that league play in the SEC is that much tougher than in other conferences?

Actually, wait, what are we saying? Of course it is. Most seasons. But this seasons . . . we're not so sure. While the head-to-head issue will fade into the background during conference play, keep that strength of schedule figure in mind when bowl season rolls around.

Money Never Sleeps
Anyone who watched the Thursday or Friday night primetime games on ESPN knows that ads for Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps have been on maximum rotation. The ad guys at 20th Century Fox must have gotten a bulk discount. In honor of the original, we present to you a summary of Week Three in the words of Gordon Gekko:

What's worth doing is worth doing for money.

Ohio 7 @ #2 Ohio State 43 (-30)
Portland State 0 @ #5 Oregon 69 (n/a)
Furman 19 @ #13 South Carolina 38 (n/a)
Massachusetts 37 @ #20 Michigan 42 (n/a)

Comment: We hope the Creampuffs picked up their checks on the way out of town last week. With the (very!) notable exception of the Minutemen, last week was not a fun time to be a FCS (or the "other" university in Ohio) team on the road against the big boys.

*

I'm gonna make you rich, Bud Fox.

#1 Alabama 62 (-24) @ Duke 13
#3 Boise State 51 (-23) @ Wyoming 6

Comment: Wagering on the Tide and Broncos continues to pay off. After taking a long look at the Blue Devils in the preseason, we wondered if their aerial attack would test the Bama corners and open the possibility of a backdoor cover. We wouldn't have wanted to put any of our hard-earned shekels (or doubloons or whatever) on it, but we were curious. I guess the Tide gave us a pretty clear answer to that question.

*

I don't throw darts at a board. I bet on sure things.

Baylor 10 @ #4 TCU 45 (-21.5)
#9 Iowa 27 @ #24 Arizona 34 (-2.5)
#14 Utah 56 (-22) @ New Mexico 14
Kent State 0 @ #22 Penn State 24 (-21), 11:00AM

Comment: While the Inaugural Beachwood Parlay didn't come in last week, we like to think our picks did pretty well including all of the above.

*

The most valuable commodity I know of is information.

#6 Texas 24 @ Texas Tech 14 (+3)
Louisville 28 @ #25 Oregon State 35 (-20)

Comment: We could have used a bit more data before making these picks last week. We thought a) Louisville sucked, b) Texas Tech could score, and c) Oregon State had some playmakers. As it turns out, Louisville doesn't so much suck as Oregon State is overrated, Texas may get to the BCS title game on defense and OSU's Rodgers brothers can't be relied on.

Jesus, if this guy owned a funeral parlor, nobody would die!

#12 Arkansas 31 @ Georgia 24 (-1.5)
Comment: We have some advice for Coach Richt of the Bulldogs. Mark, go edit your LinkedIn profile now. Under "Contact Settings," make sure you check the "Career opportunities" box.

*

Mixed emotions, buddy. Like Larry Wildman going off a cliff in my new Maserati.

#18 USC 32 (-11.5) @ Minnesota 21
#23 Houston 13 (-3.5) @ UCLA 31

Comment: Fans of the Trojans and Bruins can't be too happy about last weekend. Southern Cal continues to win without covering the number (something the wagering alumni can't be happy about) while UCLA managed the upset, knocking out Case Keenum must have helped. Keenum started the game looking as if he had yet to shake the effects of a concussion suffered against UTEP the week prior, and left the game in the second quarter after a brutal collision.

*

And in other action last week . . .

Air Force 24 @ #7 Oklahoma 27 (-16.5)
#8 Nebraska 56 (-3) @ Washington 21
#10 Florida 31 (-14) @ Tennessee 17
Arizona State 19 @ #11 Wisconsin 20 (-12.5)
Mississippi State 7 @ #15 LSU 29 (-7.5)
Clemson 24 @ #16 Auburn 27 (-7.5)
Wake Forest 24 @ #19 Stanford 68 (-18)
Maryland 17 @ #21 West Virginia 31 (-10)

Comment: There was money to be made here, but we didn't see it.

*

Gordon Gekko On Week Four: I look at a hundred deals a day. I pick one.

This week, Boise State gets one last shot at a ranked team this season. One last chance to impress the voters. To score some style points. In front of a national television audience. Can you see where this is headed?

The Broncos host Oregon State on the Smurf Turf in prime time on ABC (7PM Beachwood Time). Oregon State will come into the game prepared - or so they would like us to believe. Months ago, an anonymous donor plopped down thousands of dollars to paint the Beavers' practice field blue the week before Boise State. Reportedly the brainchild of OSU Athletic Director Bob De Carolis to emphasize the "bigness of the game" against Boise, we think the move shows that this game could be over before kickoff. We have to agree with Coach Chris Peterson of Boise State:

"Perfect," Peterson said with a laugh. "We've got them right where we want them if they're going and painting their field."

And to quote Coach Gecko: "Read Sun-tzu. The Art of War. Every battle is won before it is ever fought."

*

Thus, we only have one pick for you this week and it's a doozy:

Oregon State @ Boise State (-18), Saturday, 7:00PM for $1000 Beachwood Bucks

*

Seals Don't Understand the Stock Market
The Sports Seal has been laying low. We don't quite know what's happening, but the volume of incoming phone calls from "Private Number" has skyrocketed in the past week. And there has been a white van parked across the street for the past few days. Earlier this morning, on our way for coffee from the Swim Cafe, we couldn't find the Seal but we did find the following picks scrawled on the back of yesterday's Chicago Tribune:

Florida International (+10) @ Maryland, Saturday, 11:00AM
Air Force (-13.5) @ Wyoming, Saturday, 1:00PM
Southern Cal (-22.5) @ Washington State, Saturday, 2:00PM
Nevada (-4) @ Brigham Young, Saturday, 5:00PM
Fresno State (+2) @ Ole Miss, Saturday, 6:30PM

*

Next week: a recap of our progress to date, an APB on the Sports Seal and our thoughts on whether or not greed is, in fact, good.

-

Mike "Dr. Dude" Luce brings you The College Football Report in this space twice a week, with the generous assistance of the Beachwood Sports Seal. They both welcome your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:04 AM | Permalink

The Weekend Desk Report

"The United States Olympic Committee has not ruled out a bid for the 2020 Summer Olympics and the timing of the process makes it likely 2016 loser Chicago would be its most viable candidate," the Tribune reports.

Oh goodie, the Olympic bid returns just in time to become an issue in the mayoral race. Other issues to be debated instead of how to repair the broken piggy bank Richard M. Daley is leaving behind:

* Should we reverse the Chicago River?
* White Sox or Cubs?
* Are the children our future?

Actually, reversing the Chicago River might be a good idea. But you get the point.

Ricketts Report
"Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts will be on the campaign trail this fall in Arizona," the Tribune reports. "He is politicking for a new spring training facility in Mesa for the Cubs that will be financed with public dollars."

A better idea: If it will take public dollars to replace Jim Hendry, the campaign starts here.

Buckingham Tea Party
"Queen Sought Funds Aimed At Britain's Poorest To Pay For Heating At Buckingham Palace."

On the other hand, the White House bailed out some of America's wealthiest businesspeople with money that could have been used on the poor, so whatever.

For Those Keeping Score At Home . . .
Lindsay Lohan posted bail.

The bail pool is now closed. The next arrest pool is now open.

*

By the way, looking more and more like a hardened criminal every day.

*

Lindsay Lohan: The Complete Set of Mugshots.

*

Lindsay Lohan Jail: Services For SEO.

Is Congress Stupid?
Yes.

Which is why we've always been in favor of using public dollars to replace them.

Cubbie Occurrence
"Feds: Chicago Bomb Suspect Wanted Quick Fame."

Jim Hendry will interview him for the manager's job next week.

*

Only the Cubs: The man known as the Wrigleyville bomber is actually a bomber and not a slugger. And a failed bomber at that.

Compare and Contrast
"Black Leaders Aim To Pick A Candidate For Mayor."

White leaders don't.

The World's Greatest College Football Report
Will appear sometime before kickoff is posted, so you can still, um, act on it. Any way you want. We have no idea what you do with the information we provide. We aim only to entertain.

-

The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Fill us in.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:27 AM | Permalink

September 24, 2010

The [Friday] Papers

1. No More Elephants In Chicago Zoos.

2. "America's traditional 180-day school year is more myth than reality in Illinois, as a jumble of state laws, rules and waivers allow districts to chip away instruction time, shorten school hours and cut the number of days students come to school," the Tribune reports.

"While Illinois requires 176 days of 'actual pupil attendance' already fewer than most states the vast majority of public school districts dip below that by one or two days and sometimes more, a Tribune analysis has found."

3. The Week in WTF featuring the amnesia and bad ideas of Jesse Jackson Jr., Carol Moseley-Braun, the GOP and the Wrigleyville bomber.

4. Seized Pot Now Valued At $10 Million.

5. "The Green Party candidate for governor says Illinois should legalize and tax marijuana, but his opponents disagree," AP reports. (h/t: Rich Miller)

"Green candidate Rich Whitney says Illinois could bring in about $300 million a year by taxing marijuana.

"That's one of the ideas he discussed in a closed-door forum with the other candidates."

6. "General Motors Co. has begun to once again contribute to political campaigns, lifting a self-imposed ban on political spending put in place during the auto maker's U.S.-financed bankruptcy restructuring last year," the Wall Street Journal reports.

This year's model, same as last year's model.

7. "Todd Henderson feels like he's barely making ends meet," the Tribune reports. "He's a law professor at the University of Chicago. His wife's a doctor at the school's hospital. Their combined income exceeds $250,000. They have a nice house, a nanny, kids in private school, a retirement account and a lawn guy.

"Wait. What's he talking about? A lot of people would consider him rich.

"People have had some other choice words for the outspoken professor, who has been on the receiving end of a jolt of criticism in response to a blog posting last week in which he described his lifestyle in detail and then complained about President Barack Obama's plan to raise taxes on high-income families."

8. If the U.S. Attorney's Office really did leak damaging information about Jesse Jackson Jr. after Junior challenged them to "bring it on," then that's a story, isn't it? "Feds Retaliate With Leak." And you know who would know if that's what happened? Reporters. (Call me naive, but I remain skeptical. But it would be interesting to ask Patrick Fitzgerald if he intended to locate the leak and discipline any of his prosecutors.)

9. "It was May of 2009," the Parking Ticket Geek of The Expired Meter reports.

"That's when Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan opened a consumer fraud investigation into the Chicago parking meter lease deal.

"At the time, the AG seemed curious to see if consumers had been defrauded, and if the 'transaction and implementation' of the new meter system was on the up and up. So Madigan's office issued subpoenas to the three main players - Chicago Parking Meters, LLC (the company that got the lease), CPM's majority stake holder, Morgan Stanley, and LAZ Parking, the operational partner for the meter system.

"But it's been 16 months since those subpoenas were issued and so far, not another peep on the subject from Madigan's office."

*

Disclaimer: I'm working on some T-shirts with the Parking Ticket Geek so I have a commercial relationship with him.

10. State Street's Future: 1973-Style.

11. Who's Buried In John Logan's Monument?

12. Re-Imagining Marina City.

13. "Illinois, facing the worst financial crisis in its history, received a negative outlook on $25 billion of general obligation bonds from Moody's Investors Service after failing to address a deficit that almost tripled in one year," Bloomberg reports.

14. Paper Report Cards A Thing Of The Past In SD 228.

15. A song with unexplainable universal and timeless appeal.

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Glory be.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:37 AM | Permalink

The Week in WTF

1. Jesse Jackson Jr., WTF?

Don't you just hate it when bad things happen to good people? Er, wait a sec. Sorry. That was a mistake. We think it was an LSD Reflux Moment.

Go ahead, Junior, taunt the federal prosecutor's office. Wag your finger in their face and tell them, "Bring it on." And then duck when the smart bomb catches your scent and explodes inside your pants. Are you happy to see us, Jesse, or is that an ICBM in your pocket?

WTF has no evidence that the federal prosecutor would do such a thing in pique except for the larger cosmic reality that there are no real accidents or coincidences.

This is all good news. It now appears that the stunted fun of the Blago trial need not have yielded a total litany of convictions in order to be both amusing and cleansing.

Jackson is outraged that anyone could possible believe that he was peddling $6 million for the vacant Senate seat, but there is an irreconcilable logic. Oak Brook businessman and Democratic moneybags Raghuveer Nayak had nothing to sell to Blago, or anyone else, unless the price was the Senate seat. He's not Tony Rezko who was selling, but not buying.

He had nothing to tempt Blago except Junior's money. Why would he bargain unless Junior was in the bag? WTF hates it when motives are so transparent. It takes all the fun out of tortured logical examination.

Though the Sun-Times got this scoop, the last paragraph of Tuesday's Tribune story had the most intriguing sentence of the day: "His attorney, Thomas McQueen, confirmed that Nayak discussed the Oct. 8 meeting with federal investigators and that Nayak provided documents about his dealings with Jackson."

Ah yes, documents.

2. Edith Lovinger, WTH?

For the sake of Edith, this item was renamed What The Heck because she would have hated the other word.

We lost her six months ago, which was a sad event for their entire WTH family, but we have noticed how her legacy lives on . . . and on and pretty much on some more.

In the course of her eight decades, she managed to leave quite a few little nest eggs here and yonder, and also shared generously with causes she admired. Pretty much every organization that had an interest in Israel.

So, here is the result. Despite her passage to a better place (as defined as a place with no Glenn Beck), no one who ever held her money or asked her for money believes she has passed away. Every day, a dozen or so pieces of mail arrive here at WTF headquarters and at least a third of them are addressed to her. They still expect her contribution.

Banks? If you ever thought they paid no attention to you in a positive way while you are alive, consider how obsessive they will be about you after you're gone. Two even distributed her nest eggs to the estate and then sent letters demanding she call as soon as she could and clear up this "dead" thing.

Over the course of six months, at least 300 mailings have arrived. Day after day. The only mail WTF receives is addressed to "occupant" and "resident."

Neither phone calls nor personal visits will convince them. It's like losing a video from Blockbuster before Blockbuster went belly up this week. There is no escape from people who want your money.

3. Sami Samir Hassoun, WTF?

How can you trust the intelligence and soundness of mind of a terrorist who wants to blow up a bar in Wrigleyville, but not blow up the Cubs? Just asking.

4. Carol Moseley-Braun, WTF?

Here's what she has going for her as a candidate for mayor in Chicago: Amnesia.

Maybe she's been out of public office so long, we forget what she was like when she occupied several offices. At several points, she appears to have completely lost track of what she was doing several seconds after she did it. Or maybe, even better, she has forgotten why she thought whisking out the door with every dollar she could stuff into her pockets was a passable example of public service.

Not only did she pillage the public purse, she was not very good at it, leaving a trail across the floor like a leaking snail.

She won her Senate seat mostly because the black community was angry over the Anita Hill reputation assassination try, but then turned a blind eye to the same thing in her own universe.

5. The GOP again, WTF?

Frankly, WTF is not sure it's a completely bad thing to give the country over to nutjobs every once in a while so we can have it reinforced what nutjobs do when they get their hands on the steering wheel.

The Republicans' "Pledge to America" issued Thursday has the usual GOP gobbledygook (this is also what a snail leaves as it slides across the floor) but it also promises to "fully fund" a U.S. missile defense system that would keep the Soviets from launching a successful sneak attack.

Gosh, we're glad somebody remembered the Soviet menace. The Commies scare me, too. Scared stiff, too.

The Party of No now seems to be so short of new bad ideas it has to dredge up the worst idea of 1985.

-

David Rutter is the former publisher/editor of the Lake County News-Sun, a Sun-Times Media property. He welcomes your comments.



Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:37 AM | Permalink

September 23, 2010

The [Thursday] Papers

"When Barack Obama took office 20 months ago - and what a long 20 months it seems - there was a lot of talk about the great 'Team of Rivals' he was appointing around him," the Daily Telegraph writes (via the Sydney Morning Herald). "Parallels were drawn with the cabinet of substantial talents and big personalities assembled by Abraham Lincoln to rebuild the nation after the civil war.

"Now, in a new book, Obama's Wars, the veteran reporter Bob Woodward has confirmed in intricate detail what has been known in Washington for some time: that some of the team could barely stomach working with each other. General David Petraeus, then the military overseer of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, avoided contact with David Axelrod, the President's chief strategist, whom he regarded as a 'complete spin doctor.' No one had a good word for General James Jones, the national security adviser and former Nato commander, while his number two, Thomas Donilon, was regarded as a 'disaster' by the Defense Secretary, Robert Gates.

"Most withering of all was Vice-President Joe Biden's description of Richard Holbrooke, the special envoy to Afghanistan, as 'the most egotistical bastard I've ever met.' Biden has nearly 40 years' experience in Washington, so that is saying something.

"Much of this would be unimportant if there weren't a war involved - no one expects to be given a smooth ride in the White House and some of what Woodward describes could even be called healthy debate - but the aura of dysfunction portrayed by Woodward as Obama and his 'team' debated strategy in Afghanistan is truly alarming."

The Daley Derby
Tom Dart? I guess running a jail is good practice for presiding over the city council.

Sexism Knows No Ideology
"Calling a female candidate such sexist names as 'ice queen' and 'mean girl' significantly undercuts her political standing, a new study of voter attitudes finds, doing more harm than gender-neutral criticism based solely on her policy positions and actions," USA Today reports (via WTSP - Tampa Bay's News Leader!)

And guess what? That applies to Sarah Palin as much as any other woman out there.

Smartest In The Room
"Independent group messages have far more credibility and clout than those from party and candidate committees - even groups with generic-sounding names no one has heard of," Mike Lux writes on Open Left (h/t: Jeffrey Hearn via Facebook).

"Republican strategists like Rove got this early, and went about methodically organizing a network of corporate money to get involved in independent expenditure ads in swing races all over the country. But the Obama White House, sure of its fundraising ability and organizing genius, has consistently sent the signal to Democratic donors to not support outside efforts. They did it after they won the primary in 2008; they did it when they set up OFA to operate solely inside the DNC in 2009; they did it during the health care fight when they felt HCAN was being a little too independent in pushing for a public option, sending a clear signal to donors not to give to them at crucial times during the fight; they did it when ACORN had some bad publicity, very quickly making the decision to distance themselves and let them die even though no group has registered more voters or turned out more people in the last 10 years than ACORN.

"I have been fighting this battle inside Democratic strategy circles for 15 years now, but the problem is worse with the current team at the White House. The folks running the Obama political operation have always believed they could control the message and the resources of the party better than anyone else, and that they didn't need or want to empower outside progressive groups. Now embattled House and Senate candidates are paying the price, and it is a bitter price to have to pay."

Dumbest In The Room
I literally threw my hands up upon receiving this e-mail yesterday:

Interesting that the Sun-Times broke the Jesse story and was ahead again today, yet you link to the Tribune, which was unable to confirm the girlfriend part of it.

Yes, interesting!

The e-mail was anonymous - because God forbid someone, possibly even a reporter, simply ask me about their concern - but experience tells me, besides the obvious inference, that it came from inside the Sun-Times newsroom.

Let me take this opportunity, then, to explain a little bit about my work method. It's not as methodical as some of you might think.

Sometimes the link goes to the best summary I can fit in my format or that works with my comment. For example, why, for godsake, do I link to a London Daily Telegraph story reprinted in the Sydney Morning Herald in my first item this morning when the Web is filled with stories about Obama's Wars?

Because I had made a note yesterday about David Petraeus' comments about David Axelrod. This morning I googled their names and scrolled through the results and I came across a piece that not only included the Axelrod jab I wanted but addressed the myth of a Lincolnesque "Team of Rivals." Bingo!

I found that Telegraph piece to be credible - it includes an AP video analysis - but I was a bit concerned that the Telegraph is a conservative outlet.

So I was particularly glad to be able to link to a lefty website in a following item about Obama. Sometimes it works that way and sometimes it doesn't.

Sometimes the link simply goes to the first result on Google. Sometimes it goes to whichever site I read first and spot a story I want to include. I'm not keeping score. I'm not counting scoops. Links aren't always about you. (There's another person out there who would do good to learn that, too; you know who you are.) Sometimes - especially when it comes to posting stories on our Facebook page - it's the headline that counts most. Some work and some don't. Depends on the punch line.

Whichever way, I'm trying to serve my readers (and my own convenience) best. I'm not here to serve reporters.

Ironically, the Sun-Times actually had an unfair advantage here until recently. When I still received print editions of the papers, I read the S-T first and would tear out and mark up stories of interest for items. If the Tribune version of the same story didn't offer anything new, I wouldn't even bother tearing it out. So a disproportionate share of S-T stories got linked here.

Now that I work only with their online editions, I read the Tribune first just out of habit in terms of the order of sites I go through every day.

Sometimes it's that random. Because whose link it is isn't always the point.

I might add that the Sun-Times doesn't even use links in its stories (nor do most papers, and when they do they use useless automators that link to proper nouns that no one cares about, showing an utter failure to understand the purpose and value of a link.)

In fact, I was on a panel earlier this year that included Sun-Times editor Don Hayner, who displayed a startling ignorance not only of how links work but of his paper's own website. First, Hayner explained that he didn't want links used in articles because he didn't want to "send readers all over the Internet." Um . . . okay.

Then he claimed his paper did put links in its web stories. I told him that wasn't so. He fought back, embarrassingly, challenging my reading habits. A few minutes later, someone in the audience stood up and said he had just checked the S-T website on his phone and indeed the paper wasn't using links in its stories. "I thought we were!" Hayner said.

Um, maybe it's you, Don, who never reads your website.

I might also add that to whine about not getting credit via a link is a laugh. The blogosphere is all about credit, whether it's in aggregation itself or standard practices like the hat tip. It's the MSM that so often can't bring itself to simply acknowledge that an idea, a story or a piece of reporting came from somewhere else. I get ripped off all the time.

*

Not long after that first e-mail, I received a follow-up:

Do you still work for the Chicago Tribune? Seems that way.

Yes! I still work for the Tribune! Just not NBC.

Which reminds, I have to give Randy Michaels a call and set up that lunch at Hooter's because I haven't been receiving my checks.

*

Finally, the Tribune story I linked to yesterday was followed by a link to a Carol Marin column in the Sun-Times and then a link to a Sun-Times story.

One of the biggest heartbreaks of my life continues to be the lame stupidity of the newsrooms I once aspired to. We can do better.

Call The Schoolmaster!
Is The Wall one of the great masterpieces of our time? Watch the video - today we have Part 2 - from opening night in Chicago on Monday and tell me it isn't a triumph.

Change Illinois!
Find out which candidates are dodging questions about reform.

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Tear down the wall.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:48 AM | Permalink

Live! Roger Waters and The Wall Pt. 2

Opening night of a four-night stay at the arena formerly known as Chicago Stadium. After intermission. (Pt. 1 is here.)

-

1. Don't give in without a fight.

-

2. Amazing powers of observation.

-

3. Does anybody else in here feel the way I do?

-

4. We're gonna find out where you fans really stand.

-

5. iResist.

-

6. Would you like to see Britannia rule again?

-

7. Have I been guilty all this time?

-

8. You little shit, you're in it now.

-

9. The bleeding hearts and the artists make their stand.

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:21 AM | Permalink

Running For Office - And Away From Reform

Ninety candidates running for the General Assembly have taken positions on government and election reform issues, but too many legislative candidates are ducking the questions.

The CHANGE Illinois! coalition asked all legislative candidates to answer 20 straightforward questions about reform issues, and the responses from those willing to answer are now available to voters at www.ChangeIL.org. The questionnaire covers a wide range of reform issues, including limits on campaign contributions by legislative leaders, judicial selection, lobbying, redistricting, open government, term limits, and public campaign financing.

"Too many candidates want to go to Springfield without telling the voters what they will do to clean up state politics and restore faith in our government," said George Ranney, a co-chair of CHANGE Illinois! and President and CEO of Chicago Metropolis 2020. "If they're not willing even to talk about reform in a campaign, it's difficult to believe they would be willing to work and vote for it in Springfield."

In 15 Senate districts, there are two candidates going head-to-head. Of these 30 candidates in competitive elections, 27 have completed the CHANGE Illinois! questionnaire. In six other Senate districts, only one candidate is on the ballot.

There are 71 House districts with two or more candidates on the ballot, and 55 of those 146 candidates have returned completed questionnaires. Voters in the other 47 House districts will see only one candidate on the ballot.

CHANGE Illinois! will continue to press all candidates to answer the 20 questions prior to the Nov. 2nd election and will post new responses on the website as they become available.

All candidates for Governor and Lieutenant Governor have completed the questionnaire, and their answers also are posted at www.ChangeIL.org along with responses of candidates for other statewide offices.

"Voters are fed up with politics as usual in Illinois," said Deborah Harrington, former president of the Woods Fund of Chicago and a CHANGE Illinois! co-chair. "When government leaders make decisions based on their own personal or political gain, our tax dollars are wasted, and real needs go unanswered. We've seen too much of that in Illinois, and voters want to know what candidates propose to do to deliver honest government."

"Every candidate for the Illinois General Assembly should be willing to answer these 20 questions," said Peter Bensinger, a CHANGE Illinois! co-chair and a former Administrator of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. "Take a stand. Tell the people what you will do to reshape government and make the General Assembly a legislative body that responds to the interests and needs of all of Illinois." He added, "CHANGE members will continue to press every candidate to fill out the questionnaire, right up until we walk into the voting booth November 2."

*

About the CHANGE Illinois! questionnaire
CHANGE Illinois! is a growing coalition of civic, business, labor, professional, nonprofit and philanthropic organizations and individuals. The coalition as a whole supports expanding the new campaign contribution limits law to include contributions by legislative leaders and political parties to candidates in the general election, and it supports increased transparency and public involvement in the redistricting process. There is not an official coalition position on all other questions in the survey. The questionnaire was developed with the help of the following reform organizations: Better Government Association, Business and Professional People for the Public Interest, Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice, Citizen Advocacy Center, Common Cause Illinois, Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, Illinois Public Interest Research Group, and Protestants for the Common Good.

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:38 AM | Permalink

September 22, 2010

The [Wednesday] Papers

Normally I would say that a politician's affairs are his or her own business unless that politician has been an outspoken preacher of "family values." But Jesse Jackson Jr.'s plea to the media to respect the privacy of his marriage - as if that's ever worked - is complicated by the allegation that he asked a campaign contributor to pay for the travel of Jackson's "social acquaintance."

Big, big mistake - if true.

And you thought nothing could take the air out of the Chicago mayoral race.

*

"Want to talk about 'dreams of my father'?" Carol Marin writes in Worst Thing To Happen To Jackson: Obama. "Triple-J can rightfully claim the same expertise as Obama.

"But timing and talent are only two of 10,000 factors that result in one man's ascent and another's disappointment. Maybe it was just coincidence, but in the aftermath of Obama's speech, which instantly transformed an anonymous state senator to matinee idol, Jesse Jr. suddenly slimmed down. Citing exercise, diet and some 'shots in the but' to explain a drop of 50 pounds, Jackson couldn't bring himself to tell the truth. We'd learn only later of his weight-loss surgery.

"You might argue that was a small white lie. And yet it was so unnecessary given all that Jackson has had going for him across seven terms in Congress, three books written, a master's and a law degree, and the development of a formidable political operation that racked up impressive victories over old adversaries.

"Jackson Jr. has fought hard for the South Side, arguing for developers to build homes and businesses, not incinerators and jails, in his 2nd Congressional District.

"But what always seemed to elude him was the respect he believed he had earned but was denied by Mayor Daley and the power elite of Chicago and Washington."

And, I might add, the media.

When I profiled Junior for Chicago magazine five years ago, he complained (and I believe rightly so) that reporters only called him for comment on racial issues.

(He also didn't touch his breakfast, if that has any connection to his weight-loss surgery.)

Contrary to the media buzz at the time, though, and contrary to what the Tribune today describes as "his long-held desire to be mayor of Chicago," Jackson never intended to run back then. He did, however, intend to leverage the media's sudden interest in him after he spoke out against corruption in Daley's City Hall.

Burge Victim Goes Free
"Victor Safforld said he confessed to two murders only because he was tortured by former Chicago Police Cmdr. Jon Burge's underlings," the Sun-Times reports.

"And as the 39-year-old walked out a free man late Tuesday evening, he maintained his innocence, even though he pleaded guilty to one of the 1990 gang-related murders last spring."

Here's the important part:

"Cook County Judge Clayton Crane had granted Safforld new trials for the murders of Sims and Delvin Boelter, citing overwhelming evidence that Brown was tortured."

Emphasis mine.

Daley Derby
FRIEND: Aren't there photos of Carol Moseley-Braun with a Nigerian dictator?

ME: So. There are photos of most of the other candidates with Daley.

Dishonest Services
"House Speaker Michael Madigan usually takes no chances when it comes to his district," Rich Miller writes. "Madigan's Republican opponents are generally friendlies that can be counted on to safely disappear.

"This year's self-sacrificing victim is Patrick John Ryan, whom the Republicans say 'is a 30-year old resident of Chicago's 13th Ward who voted in Democratic primaries until this year."

Ryan doesn't even have a campaign committee. So Republicans are holding a fundraiser for him.

Hilarious. But really, not so funny. Can't Madigan be prosecuted for voter fraud?

Yes, proving he is behind Ryan's candidacy would be tough, but is it really beyond the abilities of our best G-men to track the trail?

We laugh this stuff off, but crimes against democracy should be punished swiftly and harshly. Until we take this sort of thing seriously, it will only continue to be a joke.

Implausible Perspective
Does Walter Jacobson have any reporting on which to base last night's "Perspective" on Jesse Jackson Jr., or is he just guessing? Because an awful lot of it sure doesn't ring true.

"Fitz is snarling, and looking for a high-profile politician to prosecute."

Um, Patrick Fitzgerald isn't really the snarling type. And does Jacobson really think Fitzgerald is on the prowl to take down a high-profile politician because he didn't get much of Rod Blagojevich's scalp? I doubt that's how he operates.

The Worst Pizza in America . . .
. . . is the Uno Chicago Grill Chicago Classic Deep Dish.

"Wait, wait, wait. This is a one-person pizza? Yup. All 2,310 calories are destined for one soon-to-be expanding belly," David Zinczenko writes for Yahoo!. "This pie has been a perennial pick for us over the past three years, and the reason is simple: No other personal pizza in the country even begins to approach these numbers. It breaks every single caloric recommendation on the books, and it does it under the guise of a must-have 'classic' dish. With the country being plagued by obesity, Uno should have the decency to banish - or significantly improve - this dish."

Or, make it twice as caloric. Double-down!

- via Scott Buckner

The Political Odds
Our leaderboard has changed.

Goodbye Blue Sky
Like many, many others, Pink Floyd's The Wall was/is one of the most important records of my life - by one of the most important bands in my life. On Monday, Wall impresario Roger Waters - one of the great artists of our time - brought The Wall to the former Chicago Stadium for the first of four nights here. Here is a thread of YouTube clips that comprise the first half of that show. Tomorrow we'll show you the rest.

Getting Defensive
And somebody likes Kyle Orton. In Fantasy Fix.

Save The Rich!
"The spectacle of high-income Americans, the world's luckiest people, wallowing in self-pity and self-righteousness would be funny, except for one thing: they may well get their way," Paul Krugman writes. "Never mind the $700 billion price tag for extending the high-end tax breaks: virtually all Republicans and some Democrats are rushing to the aid of the oppressed affluent."

Barack Bush
And what else is on that Christine O'Donnell tape.

And:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Meet the Depressed
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Apologies accepted.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:12 AM | Permalink

Live! Roger Waters and The Wall Pt. 1

Like many, many others, Pink Floyd's The Wall was/is one of the most important records of my life - by one of the most important bands in my life. On Monday, Wall impresario Roger Waters - one of the great artists of our time - brought The Wall to the former Chicago Stadium for the first of four nights here. Here is the first half of that show. Tomorrow we'll show you the rest Here is the second half.

1. Is something eluding you, Sunshine?


-

2. The sky may look blue . . .

-

3. Daddy's flown 'cross the ocean.

-

4. Within inches of their lives.

-

5. Mother, should I build a wall?

-

6. Train dogs, race rats.

-

7. Rock and roll refugee.

-

8. Like the skin on the dying man.

-

9. I have seen the writing on the wall.

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:48 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: Getting Defensive

I haven't participated in all that many fantasy leagues that use team defenses, though I've gotten the sense the majority of them go by team stats rather than individual defensive player (IDP - seriously, it's an increasingly used acronym) stats.

I like the IDP system because those three for four IDP positions can really mess with projections and perception about who has the best team. It makes things more unpredictable and sends manager running every which way trying to figure who's most likely to force fumbles while also collecting double-digit tackles. Having said that, I'm now in two leagues with team defense, and I'm starting to be won over.

At draft time, it's pretty difficult to focus on defense early, regardless of whether your league uses an IDP system or team system. There are plenty of second-tier QBs, RBs and WRs who will score more points than the typical defensive player or team defense in a given week.

Rather, fantasy owners tend to draft the most obvious candidates in late rounds (In one of my IDP leagues, Dwight Freeney was the top defensive player draft in Round 11, while in one of my team leagues, the NY Jets defense went first in Round 10). The thinking is that you can scour the waiver wire once the season begins to find the true value.

Given that we just completed Week 2, it's a good time to take a look at the waiver wire and see who the real defensive stars are:

IDP Leagues
Clay Matthews, LB, Green Bay: He's the core of a top-ranked team defense, but his six sacks in the first two games make him the IDP MVP so far. 65% owned.

James Harrison, LB, Pittsburgh: Three sacks, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery for the top-scoring defense in team leagues. 47% owned.

LeRon Landry, S, Washington: A team doesn't have to have a great game on defense for a safety to collect major points. Landry has 21 solo tackles and seven assisted tackles in part because Houston was successful last week in the Redskins' secondary. 38% owned.

Team Defense Leagues
Miami: Pittsburgh has the best team defense in terms of points, but Miami's is probably the best you'll find on the waiver wire. Three interceptions, six sack and just 20 points allowed total in the first two games. 59% owned.

Kansas City: Unheralded, but could become a popular pick-up in the coming weeks. This defense has already scored two TDs, one on special teams. 12% owned.

Tampa Bay: Another surprise here, as Tampa has allowed only 21 points in the first two games and collected four interceptions. Questionable whether it can keep this pace, but not a bad pick-up. 7% owned.

Expert Wire
* Yahoo! Pick Ups of the Week likes Kyle Orton. We can finally say he's no Jay Cutler and be happy about that, but what he contributes is fairly mistake-free outings that rely on an impressive young group of receivers trying to be the next Brandon Marshall.

* Yahoo! Big Board puts Adrian Peterson of the Vikings at No. 2. I predicted a fade for A.P., but he deserves the No. 2 ranking after two solid weeks when his running was the only think working for Minnesota's offense.

* FanHouse has the latest on Michael Vick. Turns out he is starting, meaning the Kevin Kolb grab you made in Round 5 is now worthless.

* Press Box reports on the injury to Reggie Bush. Bush was poised for a nice year that will now be cut at least in half.

* SB Nation says Larry Johnson is looking for a job again. I still wouldn't touch him until he lands somewhere for certain, but if that place is Green Bay, get your waiver wire trigger finger ready.

-

Dan O'Shea's Fantasy Fix appears in this space every Wednesday. He welcomes your comments. You can also read his about his split sports fan personality at SwingsBothWays, now a Beachwood blog.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:58 AM | Permalink

September 21, 2010

The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report

Blue: For the second week in a row, the Bears managed a narrow victory over a handicapped opponent, though this week it seemed that the opposition's weakness lay squarely between their ears.

Frolicking in the springtime of a love affair with the pass, Dallas head coach Wade Phillips called for 51 aerial plays, despite a roster that boasts three starting-caliber running backs. Ignoring repeated visual evidence to the contrary, Fox analyst and former Cowboy great Troy Aikman, alongside St. Louis Cardinals announcer Joe Buck, continued to relay nationally broadcasted reassurances to the Cowboys that passing behind Jason Witten and over the head of Miles Austin was in fact, exemplary quarterbacking.

As a result, Big D managed only a single offensive touchdown for the second time in two games, with the other trip to the end zone provided by a first quarter Dez Bryant punt return.

Opting to erase all doubt of their collective incompetence, the Cowboys' coaching staff ordered an end to the aggressive and effective defensive game plan that held the Bears to eight total yards in their first three offensive series.

Sensing an opportunity to mystify the opposition, coordinator Mike Martz dialed up a series of elegant and complex plays certain to baffle the now relaxed Dallas defense. However, as evidenced by Devin Hester's completion-negating "illegal formation" penalty in the second quarter, it seems the Bears skill players are often equally baffled by Martz's wizardry.

Credit Jay Cutler's ability to work within the limitations of his personnel, as he wisely called two consecutive hot routes for confused receivers Devin Hester and Greg Olsen ("Run a slant . . . No the other way!" and "Go over there for a while!" respectively) during Chicago's first touchdown drive.

Though it was in many was an impressive win, critical weaknesses were apparent. The Bears were horrendous in key metrics such as time of possession (26:20), third down conversions (1-11), rushing yards (38) and punt return yards (-5). Statistics such as these would typically paint a portrait of defeat, but the 2-0 2010 squad continues to defy football logic.

Blue Preview: Packers at Bears
Unlike Dallas, Green Bay is well aware of its strengths and will put the game in the hands of their quarterback, former Pantera bass player Aaron Rodgers. If available to play, expect the Packers to exploit the Chicago secondary with tight end Jermichael Finley, who is currently on the injury report with a "Questionable" name. The Bears defense will continue its run of reasonable performances, but the offense will not be able to resist the urge to shoot itself directly in the toes.

Pick: Green Bay 24, Chicago 16

-

Orange: Because I always seem to work at places where the equipment doesn't work - or the people don't - I always appreciate a team that can create workarounds the way the Bears did against both Dallas and its own offensive line.

Mike Martz, apparently finally believing the media hype that the line needed help, added a seven-man protection in some plays (I can't take credit for knowing that, I am just parroting Troy Aikman), which still didn't keep Jay Cutler from spending most of the first quarter on his back. However, when he was upright, Cutler did take the time he needed to make sure his receivers were probably in the wrong place rather than throwing the ball into the nether - or the hands of the other team.

Johnny Knox came to play, starting the game with a 42-yard return on the opening kickoff. True, the Bears had to rely on the defense to pick off a Tony Romo pass, but hey, that's really Bears football, isn't it?

And speaking of the Bears defense, let's applaud Zachary Bowman, who it seems to me gets quite overshadowed by the other giants on the defense, Peanut Tillman, Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher. Even last year when he didn't even play, Urlacher still got more mention than Bowman. But let's remember, the Bears defense is aging, and with 10 tackles and two assists in this game alone, Bowman has shown that he can fill those shoes.

So although this game might have been handed to them by the mental breakdown of Dallas' offensive coaching, it was a win that the Bears earned, unlike last week.

Orange Preview: Packers at Bears
I'm inclined to give the Bears the edge on this game, as it's being played in front of a home crowd, which tends to get the team fired up. However, with the Vikings clearly not playing like the team to beat in the NFC North, the Packers have a shot at spitting in Brett Favre's eye by retaining first place.

Pick: Green Bay 27, Bears 10

-

Carl Mohrbacher brings you the Blue half of this report every week; Nikki Golden brings you the Orange half of this report every week when her husband Andrew is not available. They welcome your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:32 AM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

1. How does Michael Sneed keep her (high-paying) job? Shouldn't someone with a track record like hers - full of errors, items read elsewhere passed off as her own, and status as a favorite patsy to pols everywhere - sort of be fired? Maybe the Sun-Times oughta put its Watchdogs team on it.

2. Compare and contrast.

The original Tribune story: "Plans for a Muslim cultural center in southeast DuPage County were sent back to square one today as the county's Zoning Board of Appeals chose to restart the public hearing process."

The CBS2 rip-and-read: "Plans to build a Muslim center in southeastern DuPage County are back at square one. The DuPage Zoning Board of Appeals has voted to restart the public hearing process."

And some folks think Google steals content.

*

This is one of the ways in which the public becomes so misinformed. For example, if the Tribune falsely reported that, say, Al Gore claimed he invented the Internet, CBS2 and every other radio and TV station in town would repeat the false claim. Then the columnists would weigh in making fun of Al Gore. Then the politicians would would blast Gore for his claim, and those blasts would be featured in television, newspaper and Internet news reports. Then the columnists and pundits and editorial writers would make hay. And nobody would bother to check for themselves whether that first report was accurate. And then people like me would point out that it wasn't, and then I would be attacked because everyone knows Al Gore said it. It was in the Tribune. They wouldn't get something like that wrong. I'm just stirring up trouble. People like me must have agendas, even though - irony alert! - we're the only ones acting like journalists.

*

This isn't to imply the Tribune got anything wrong with its DuPage report; I have no reason to believe it did and in this example the Trib is the victim. It's to show how mindlessly large sectors of our media simply repeat what one outlet has reported without acting like the independent news agencies they purport to be. And nowhere is this more evident than in political reporting.

Changing our political culture and discourse isn't just a job for elected officeholders and federal prosecutors. The media is the conduit through which this discourse takes place. It's time it fundamentally changed the way it tries to meet that responsibility.

*

Here's another instance: NBCChicago.com rewrites an explosive Sun-Times story to "make it their own," as the practice was once described to me. Now, again, I have no reason to doubt the original Sun-Times story; that isn't my point. But the papers have been known to, um, get things wrong every once in awhile. Or frame a story poorly. Or omit key facts. Again, I'm not in any way suggesting this is the case here; I'm merely observing that it's one thing to aggregate stories and point readers to what others are reporting but it's quite another to take those stories at face value without any critical analysis or independent confirmation and propagate them. And as we see in this space every day, quite a number of those stories are lacking.

Again, this is not to fault the Tribune or Sun-Times stories used here as examples. It's to fault the outlets that "stole" them. Do your own reporting or offer your own take, but don't just mindlessly repeat every premise. Especially during campaign season when that's just what political strategists try to instigate in order to ingrain certain associations into the minds of voters. Like advertising, it's a form of brainwashing; they are trying to get in your head.

3. "Chicago Man Angry With Mayor Daley Charged In Wrigley Bomb Plot."

Chicago Man apparently didn't know that A) Daley is a White Sox fan and B) He's already announced his retirement.

*

Yes, I know, I'm supposed to make a Dave Matthews Band joke here, but I think they've all been made. Feel free to send me yours, though.

4. No story in America about dead people voting is complete without a reference to Chicago.

*

But that might explain this.

5. How Quade Can Seal The Deal.

For example, win less.

6. "Recession ended in June 2009."

Yes, but that was Bush's recession. Now we're suffering from Obama's recession.

7. "Noting that the Illinois State Police (ISP) are not responding to lawful requests for documents under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act, the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois today asked a state court in Chicago to compel the police agency to turn over records about the Illinois Statewide Terrorism and Intelligence Center (STIC)," the ACLU says in a press release.

8. A taste from this week's fabulous Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report:

"Opting to erase all doubt of their collective incompetence, the Cowboys' coaching staff ordered an end to the aggressive and effective defensive game plan that held the Bears to eight total yards in their first three offensive series.

"Sensing an opportunity to mystify the opposition, coordinator Mike Martz dialed up a series of elegant and complex plays certain to baffle the now relaxed Dallas defense. However, as evidenced by Devin Hester's completion-negating 'illegal formation' penalty in the second quarter, it seems the Bears skill players are often equally baffled by Martz's wizardry.

"Credit Jay Cutler's ability to work within the limitations of his personnel, as he wisely called two consecutive hot routes for confused receivers Devin Hester and Greg Olsen ('Run a slant . . . No the other way!' and 'Go over there for a while!' respectively) during Chicago's first touchdown drive."

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Organizationally cultured.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:15 AM | Permalink

How Quade Can Seal The Deal

Did anyone notice that the Cubs went 6-0 for the week? Anyone? Anyone?

Maybe they should have made a managerial change when it still mattered. The Cubs are 17-7 with Mike Quade at the helm. And yet, Quade doesn't seem to stand a chance to get the job permanently, what with Joe Girardi, Ryne Sandberg and Eric Wedge in the mix. What does the guy have to do to prove he belongs?

* Win every game by slaughter rule.

* Play second base for these last few games at a Hall of Fame level to get the fans to think that you are a better manager because you know what it's like to be a Cub.

* Change last name to Quenneville.

* Change full name to Mark DeRosa.

* Wear silly glasses and manage from the bleachers with a beer in your hand to prove to the new owners that you are all about the Cubbie experience.

* Reveal who smashed Sammy Sosa's boombox.

* Manage the towel drill better than anyone ever.

* Put Alfonso Soriano back in the leadoff role.

* Start doing Toyota commercials.

* Win less.

* Go get the Yankees job first.

Week in Review: The Cubs swept both the Cards and the Marlins to cap off an 8-1 road trip, which is the best in most everyone's lifetime. This will be the answer to an Aflac trivia question one day.

Week in Preview: The Cubs come home to play three each against the Giants and, again, the Cards. Look out for Tony LaRussa's White Sox managerial tryout come this weekend. He is going to manage his ass off.

The Second Basemen Report: Jeff Baker started two games and Blake DeWitt got the other four. If you haven't noticed (but you probably have) Blake DeWitt (.257 BA) is rather mediocre. If nothing else, though, the Cubs just might look for another second sacker next season, and that's at least good for The Second Basemen Report. You know, just like Jim Hendry drew it up.

In former second basemen news, there currently doesn't look like there is one guy on the roster that shouldn't be a former second baseman next season, and missed of course.

The Zam Bomb: Big Z pitching so good just proves how insane this guy really is. He remains crazy inside, but apologetic on the outside.

zam_apologetic.jpg

-

Lost in Translation: Samardzija is Japanese for fifth starter.

Endorsement No-Brainer: Tyler Colvin for ash bats because the maple bats just don't agree with him.

Sweet and Sour Quade: 75% sweet, 25% sour. Mike Quade gains five points on the Sweet-O-Meter due to winning and knowing what he is doing. And just like your smart, well-adjusted uncle, Mike knows that you didn't get asked to the turnabout dance but he's not going to suggest you go with your sister because that is super lame. He rented the movie Joe Dirt and bought a few 2-liters of Mountain Dew. So even though your aren't going to the dance you can have a good time.

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Forecasters predict shares of Wrigley Field tickets to trade for .50 on the dollar this week. Dump while you can!

Over/Under: The amount of people "pumped" about the Cubs/Cards tilt this weekend: +/- 5.5

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 6-0 has to mean something.

Agony & Ivy: It's a way of life.

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: The Wrigleyville area is still considered a disaster area despite the empty seats. We recommend, however, a more constructive plea for help than this.

mtlou_red.gif

-

Contact The Cub Factor!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:13 AM | Permalink

September 20, 2010

The [Monday] Papers

"Right now, no matter how you rationalize it, these Cowboys are a bad football team," Jean-Jacques Taylor of the Dallas Morning News writes.

"They're overrated. And overhyped.

"A 27-20 loss to Chicago, hardly an NFL powerhouse, simply drove home the point."

On the other hand, our very own Jim Coffman thinks maybe the Bears actually are better than we thought - even if they certainly didn't look like it a week ago.

"There must be a few of you out there, feeling vindicated," Coffman writes in SportsMonday. "The main thing that happened on Sunday was that Jay Cutler started to justify the hype that surrounded him when Jerry Angelo pulled the trigger on the greatest personnel move in Bear history the off-season before last."

Crosswalking
"Chicago police have gone on a ticketing blitz focusing on dozens of high-accident locations to enforce a new state law requiring drivers to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks," Jon Hilkevitch reports for the Tribune.

"The law, which took effect this summer yet remains little-known among the public, is all about improving safety and reducing crashes involving pedestrians, officials said."

Yeah, um, really?

"The Police Department is applying for grants from federal and state agencies to conduct more crosswalk stings, using mostly off-duty police officers."

It seems like a knee-jerk reaction to point out that we have much higher priorities, but I'll let my knee jerk on this one. Ouch! Right up to my jaw!

We Know Why You Merge
"Travelers WIll Be the Big Losers in United-Continental Airline Merger."

And Who Can Blame Her?
"Dog owners, beware: If you live in suburban Chicago and don't pick up after your pet, you might get tossed an unpleasant reminder," AP reports.

"Police in Naperville say a woman who stepped in dog feces outside her apartment appears to have retaliated by heaving it at the door of her neighbor who owns a dog."

Piggy Bank?
"A family used its control of a Western Springs community bank to give millions of dollars in free loans to insider companies, the bank's other shareholders claim in Cook County Court," Courthouse News Service reports.

"Five people who allegedly own half the shares in Western Springs Bancorp., the parent company of the Western Springs National Bank and Trust, say the bank was looted by the other 50 percent shareholders: James, Allyson, Suzanne and Peter Regas."

Jelly Belly
The best grape jelly on Chicago grocery shelves.

Debate Snub
U.S. Senate candidate vs. NBC.

Cubbie Occurrence
"Tyler Colvin is in stable condition and expected to make a full recovery. Still, it's in poor taste to make the following joke: Since the stabbing occurred on the field during the middle of a Marlins game, there were no witnesses," Thomas Francis of the Broward/Palm Beach New Times writes under the headline "Tyler Colvin Is Not a Vampire (And Other Things We Learned This Weekend In Sports)."

Eulogy
"The 2010 season effectively over yet the lineup still full of second-rate veteran bench players, the Guillen Meter reads 24 for 'You want me to let the kids play? Play your own !@#$ing kids.'" our very own Andrew Reilly writes in The White Sox Report.

*

The Cub Factor will appear on Tuesday.

Living Without TV
"Unlike many newspaper columnists, I did not come to find the whole experience to be some quaint discovery of the simple pleasures my electricity-deprived ancestors enjoyed when they weren't busy suffering from typhoid, catarrh, or consumption," our very own Scott Buckner writes. "I did not start thinking our pioneer ancestors had more-fulfilling lives doing their homework with hunks of coal on the backs of shovels to the light of whale-oil lamps. I did not want to go rolling a barrel hoop down the street for entertainment. I did not want to start climbing a tree or lay on on the lawn to daydream at the clouds."

State Secrets
Ethics waivers and internal inquiries.

Male Call
Skokie man in trouble for fetching his mail while naked.

Daley Doo-Doo
"Even Mayor Richard M. Daley himself had to flee the doo-doo that has been deepening since his big fadeaway announcement," Chuck Goudie writes in the Daily Herald.

"Mr. Daley is in China and South Korea this week, but not before the praise and glory of his name grew into an outright love fest.

"Usually such lavishness and heart-throbbing is reserved for a politician's eulogy. With few exceptions, though, there have been nothing but glorious stories recounting the mayor's election victories and those sparkling avenues he will leave behind.

"Such a glowing public portrait, minus only the halo, is especially surprising considering that it was barely four months ago that Mr. Daley charitably offered to place a bayonet up the rear end of a reporter who dared to ask him a question.

"You really can't even call Mayor Daley's plan a retirement. By leaving office at a time when there is widening mayhem and gangland murders on city streets, a police department in growing disarray and the city broker than broke, it is more akin to abandonment."

Go read the rest - including the part about the t-shirts on sale at Midway. Perfect.

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Inquire within.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:40 AM | Permalink

In The Government's Attic - and Basement

Spotted on the listserv of Investigative Reporters & Editors, posted by Michael Ravnitzky.

1. These items were recently spotted on the Government Attic Website:

Pages from the National Security Agency (NSA) Center for Cryptologic History
(CCH) intranet web site, 2009 - PDF 22.7 MB

http://tinyurl.com/247r9lo

*

Audit of Circumstances Surrounding Issuance of Visas to Sheik Omar Ali Ahmed
Abdel Rahman; and Audit of Review of the Nonimmigrant Visa-Issuing Process,
1994-1995 - PDF 13.9 MB

http://tinyurl.com/2d47mew

*

Office of Government Ethics (OGE) Ethics Program Reviews from 19 Executive
Branch entities, 2005 ­ 2009 - PDF 14.6 MB

http://tinyurl.com/24aqpcf

*

Department of Energy (DOE) ethics waivers, 2005-2010 - PDF 8.1 MB

http://tinyurl.com/2fzkcyq

*

List of internal reviews conducted by the Federal Labor Relations Authority
(FLRA) Office of Inspector General (OIG), 1990-2009

http://tinyurl.com/24zlnus

2. INTERIOR DEPT INSPECTOR GENERAL STILL HOLDS PILE OF DAMAGING DOCUMENTS

The Office of Inspector General of the United States Department of the Interior has a large stack of documents regarding its investigation of the Island Operating Company et al. This was the primary investigation of the situation involving the unhealthy relationships between employees of the Minerals Management Service and the companies they regulate.

The very brief IG report was published, eventually, in May 2010, here:

http://tinyurl.com/IG-hidden-docs

Or here:

http://www.doioig.gov/images/stories/reports/pdf/IslandOperatingCo.pdf

But there was also a large pile of several hundred pages of supporting papers that casts light into several less explored corners of this investigation.

The Department of the Interior has not published these supporting papers on its website, and to the best of my knowledge, no news organization has obtained these documents. However, you can request an electronic copy of these documents by sending a request to:

Note: ask for a copy of the supporting documentation for the investigation into Island Operating Company, et al.

U.S. Department of the Interior
Office of Inspector General
FOIA Officer
1849 C Street, NW MS-4428
Washington, DC 20240
Phone: 703-487-5436
Fax: 202-219-1944 Attn: FOIA Officer
Email: FOIA@doioig.gov

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:04 AM | Permalink

What I Watched Last Night: Nothing

A short while after I'd settled into her apartment, Gracie said to me, "The TV's there if you want to watch TV." It's not like I'm so daft that I actually need to be reminded what the big, hulking Magnavox is for, but it comes in handy at 3 a.m., when - with nothing else to do in such a small town at such an ungodly hour - I try to find out if 3 a.m. TV is any worse in rural Virginia than it is in Chicago.

No matter what I do, I get snow. Enough incessant white-noise snow to render an army of insomniacs narcoleptic. More snow than the Donner Party ever imagined. Hissing, fuck-you TV snow.

Then it occurs to me what the problem might be.

"Hey, exactly when was the last time you actually watched TV on this TV?" I ask Gracie several hours later. "Let's just say it's been a long time, baby," she replies very matter-of-factly, as if the thing would make a marvelous boat anchor if it didn't have a DVD player hooked up to it. I do some basic math and realize that every TV station in America switched from analog to digital at least 15 months ago. Unless you bought a converter box to prepare for the conversion - something Gracie didn't bother to bother with - you get . . . snow. Hissing, fuck-you TV snow. So for all intents and purposes, "It's been a long time" might as well be "When Grover Cleveland was president."

Beyond the earthy-crunchy types in northern California and Oregon and Washington State who have dedicated themselves to living without modern conveniences like basic TV, processed foods, and deodorant, I begin to wonder: Exactly who the hell lives like this on purpose? You might as well have no phone, no light, no motor car, not a single luxury. So like Robinson Crusoe or even Denzel Washington or Mel Gibson or Kevin Costner carrying on after Armageddon Day, this is when you start thinking, "Okay, what the fuck am I supposed to do with myself now?"

I'm not talking in terms of the overdone "our electricity went out last night" newspaper piece where some columnist discovers some shining revelation lying somewhere between momentary respite and full-bore Dorothy Gale and then writes breathlessly about it as if they were the first to decipher the Rosetta Stone. Sorry, Mary Mitchell and the rest of you - go through more than two or three weeks of real cold turkey without something as basic as free over-the-air TV (or worse - God forbid - Internet access) and you'd be considerably more qualified to write about going without something that even dirt-poor people take for granted. I'm talking about total weeks-long deprivation of something fundamentally basic in your life, like when you're a kid and you find out the tiny cabin in the Wisconsin Northwoods your parents have dragged you to for month during the summer has no TV, either.

So, like an office full of people trapped for several hours in a stuck elevator, you spend time like this discovering (or rediscovering) who you're with. Maybe that's for the better, or maybe it's for the worse. Or worse, maybe for the worst. But we discover things nonetheless.

Unlike many newspaper columnists, I did not come to find the whole experience to be some quaint discovery of the simple pleasures my electricity-deprived ancestors enjoyed when they weren't busy suffering from typhoid, catarrh, or consumption. I did not start thinking our pioneer ancestors had more-fulfilling lives doing their homework with hunks of coal on the backs of shovels to the light of whale-oil lamps. I did not want to go rolling a barrel hoop down the street for entertainment. I did not want to start climbing a tree or lay on on the lawn to daydream at the clouds.

I did, however, find myself beginning to feel compelled to visit the local post office on the days where they tacked up new Wanted posters. Yes, this was fucking murder, especially at first. But I have found the experience revealing so far.

First, I now know why I've had the idea that every literate American up until the 1950s was more conversant than we are today in matters of fine art and classic literature. Before TV started sucking up everyone's brains in earnest, there were few character-building diversions beyond reading and writing and visiting your friends and next-door neighbors. Sure, there was radio in our (great-)grandparents' day, but lying prone on the floor and staring at the ol' Philco for hours required an exercise of imagination. Many of those imaginations gave us the best TV and movies we'd ever come to know, but I'm pretty sure there were newspaper columnists 70 years ago writing about how staring all glassy-eyed at a glowing parlor appliance for three hours every night was sucking the intelligence out of our nation's youth, too.

This also has given me some insight into just how many early-American families managed to amass 30 kids. Before TV was invented, there was little else to do after the sun went down but fuck. A lot.

Second, it has occurred to me that the seven most chilling words ever strung together aren't "You have the right to remain silent." No, they are: "So. What do you wanna do now?" If you love your mate and you actually have things in common with each other, questions like this are actually a plus because ultimately, you just end up fucking. A lot. But if you don't, you've got trouble on your hands because without TV to plop down in front of so it just looks like you're doing something with your bored, lazy carcass, there are few places in the house for you to hide yourself away. A one-bedroom apartment might as well be a cell in Alcatraz. A rambling seven-room ranch with a full basement becomes the size of a doghouse unless you've managed to develop some serious, time-consuming hobby where you can get away with ignoring your entire family, like building birdhouses or turning every square foot of your basement into a shrine to the pleasures of small-gauge model railroading.

Curiously, though, I don't want to leave or change a thing here. Maybe it's because Gracie's not my wife or even someone I feel compelled to hide from when we're in the same living space for silence-deafening days on end with nothing more than our conversations to keep each other interested and amused. But mostly, I especially don't mind this because it has revitalized my interest in writing about stuff - and that's a huge part of me that I thought I'd lost for good several months ago.

On the other hand, Gracie's been in bed during the past three hours I've been writing this - maybe even wondering exactly when the hell I'm going to knock this writing shit off, crawl in next to her, and just listen to her breathe. Maybe so, but I'm pretty sure I'm going to be better off than I would be if I spent the same three hours glued to ESPN or The History Channel instead.

-

Visit the What I Watched Last Night archives and see what else we've been watching.

-

Submissions and comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:38 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Are The Bears Good?

Let's hear it for the optimists!

There must be a few of you out there, feeling vindicated. Actually it turns out I do know one legitimate fan who genuinely believed the Bears would be good this year. My friend Jon Davis refused to allow the local squad's record of failure the previous three years and all sorts of mysterious personnel moves in the off- and preseason diminish the optimism that had set in primarily when the Bears announced the hiring of Mike Martz.

So Jon and his fellow positive thinkers (at least the ones who honestly held out hope all the way until the very start of the season - and even after last week's game - as evidence this team would be terrible seemed to pile up sky-high) should take a big ol' bow. A few weeks ago, I wrote I was sure the Bears wouldn't post more than six victories this season, let alone the wins necessary to make the playoffs.

And of course they still have a ways to go before they make it to the still-unacceptable to most seventh total W (after all, it will probably take at least 10 to make the playoffs).

But I said before and I will say again that I will happily chow down on a heaping helping of crow if the Bears can pull it off. That eventuality became a great deal more likely when Chicago's finest footballers found a way to pull out Sunday's victory. After virtually losing last week's easiest game on the schedule (home against a Lions team that has won two games in two seasons-plus), the Bears notched a 27-20 victory in a game at Dallas that, barring a Cowboy collapse, will go into the books as one of the toughest games on the schedule.

The main thing that happened on Sunday was that Jay Cutler started to justify the hype that surrounded him when Jerry Angelo pulled the trigger on the greatest personnel move in Bear history the off-season before last. That, of course, was trading for a young franchise quarterback - and the draft pick that was used on one of the team's best receivers - for draft picks and Kyle Orton. After the Bears' third possession, Cutler's rising bile was plain to see (and lip-read: "Can we block somebody?!" he yelled on the sideline). And hell, he was running for his life out there.

But the quarterback was able to right the ship and lead his team to a big win with an awesome array of throws (short touch passes, intermediate lasers, a perfect bomb). After only one major screw-up the week before - a throw into triple coverage that resulted in his only interception - Cutler not only didn't have any picks on Sunday, he didn't have any dropped (by Dallas defensive backs) picks.

The quarterback only threw one pass that was sort of up-for-grabs. And Bear receiver Earl Bennett had as good a shot as catching that ball as the nearest Cowboy cornerback. That pass ended up incomplete. Later on, Cutler capped it all off with his third and final scoring strike, a simple little four-yard out to Matt Forte at the end of a beautifully aggressive late drive that grabbed the game by the throat. On that play, the Dallas defensive back assigned to cover Forte was totally overwhelmed. If Cutler keeps this up, that will become a familiar site.

So many notes, unlimited space . . .

The Ridiculous 1
Don't tell general manager Jerry, but Mike Martz is making a change he knew should have been made the second he took the job, a change Angelo hasn't wanted him to make. It appeared as though it was one final brain-dead move by Devin Hester while he was lined up out wide in the first half that finally sealed the deal.

You may recall that early in their second touchdown drive, the Bears were called for an illegal formation. That penalty was the sort of Hester mistake that always seems to crop up in even the talented but scatterbrained Hester's best games. Practically the first thing kids learn in wide receiver school is that they can't "cover" other receivers, i.e., if a tight end is on your side of the formation, a receiver must line up a step behind the line of scrimmage. But on a potentially huge gain to Greg Olsen, Hester lined up on the line - covering Olsen and drawing a flag.

Angelo still wants Hester to streak to stardom at wide receiver but it was clear to Martz from Day 1 that Hester would be so much better in the slot (the spot usually reserved for a team's third receiver and located between the wideout and the end of the offensive line). And guess where the Ridiculous 1 was Sunday before making all of his big plays?

Hester actually grabbed his first big gain out of his best spot on the Bears' first touchdown drive. He just zipped down the seam, caught a quick pass from Cutler, broke a tackle or two and gained 20 big yards. Cutler then threw a very similar pass to a not-to-be-denied Olsen and the Bears were right back in the game.

Hester committed his penalty early in the second touchdown drive but after Cutler bailed him out with his awesome bomb to Johnny Knox, Hester again lined up in the slot on first-and-goal from the nine. He then made the one-handed play that made all the highlight shows.

On the Bears' final march to glory, Hester lined up in the slot, ran a quick little out into the flat, took Cutler's perfect pass and broke a few more tackles on his way to the 35-plus yard gain that set up Forte's score.

Martz Magic
Speaking of Martz, what a virtuoso play-calling performance this was overall. On the absolute fly, having lost the most important player on his offensive line, Martz overhauled everything in the first half, going to an empty backfield on many plays and calling quick passes that would frustrate the Cowboy blitz. After the Bears had completed enough of those, the Cowboys began to back off a little more frequently. And when they did, the Bears were ready with seven-step drops and throws.

The Specials
Special teams tooketh away on Sunday but in total, they gaveth more. Dez Bryant's punt return touchdown was a potential disaster, but the Bears bounced back in a big way. It started with reserve defensive back Tim Jennings' heads-up fair catch of a pooch on the ensuing kickoff that could have been big trouble and instead giving the Bears great field position. It continued with typical rock-solid Robbie Gould field goals and strong Brad Maynard punts down the stretch. And it was capped off by perfect execution on the Cowboys' last gasp. Earl Bennett was in perfect position behind a wall of blockers when the Cowboys booted their last-two-minutes' onside kick. He rose up, secured the football and then returned to Earth with the game comfortably in hand.

A little more about one of those punts in particular: Brian Iwuh, good to meet you. Iwuh was the guy who charged down the field on Brad Maynard's strong punt from deep in Bear territory early in the fourth quarter and not only pushed blocker Mike Hamlin into return man Dez Bryant - knocking him down before he had made it even a yard up the field - but also drew a "block in the back" penalty. It had appeared the Cowboys had a great chance to take over possession near midfield but instead they were pushed back to their 30. Earlier, Iwuh had another big hit on a return.

Tag Team
Loving that Charles Tillman and D.J. Moore tag team. Early in the game, Tillman slammed into Miles Austin, popping a pass out and giving Moore a chance to corral his first of two interceptions between his legs just before it fell to the turf. Late in the fourth quarter, Moore got a hold of Dallas receiver Roy Williams and would not let go, pushing him back and holding up just long enough for Tillman to come over and punch the ball out for a critical fumble.

Bring on the Packers! And the pessimists!

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:19 AM | Permalink

Funeral For A Friend

So.

They lost in spectacular fashion to a superior team, which we all kind of knew would happen so, you know, no big deal.

They then lost in equally spectacular fashion to a supposedly inferior team - one now closing in on second place, mind you - but no one cared so, again, no big deal.

But heading into the last road trip of the wretched season we all knew it would be (and don't let an inflated win total fool you, this will go down as one of the greats, at least where lost seasons go) we should probably look for what rays of sunshine we can.

Maybe Mark Buehrle will finally deliver his long overdue third no-hitter, or we'll get a surprise return from Jake Peavy in stealth middle relief (watch those programs for new call-up "Jakerino Peavicino"!), or Omar Vizquel will start launching missiles all the way to his milestone career 100th home run.

At the very least, we can go on and relax now. No need to worry about those big, bad jerks from Minnesota coming to town to beat the Good Guys at their own game. No more shaming at the hands of the Royals, Rangers, Orioles, Blue Jays, Yankees, Tigers, Indians, and whoever else knows how to follow up a breaking ball in the dirt to a Sox batter with a six-run inning because you know what? There's only shame when you have pride and these Sox, well, they've been pretty well past that point for some time. The only thing left to lose is a handful of baseball games, and that is such a beautiful feeling I almost want to cry.

Almost.

Really though, it's probably best to just brace ourselves for a whole lot of the same nothing we've seen all along. Expect offensive shortcomings. Shaky pitching. Questionable defense. Suspect managerial decisions. Unpromising prospects earning every decimal of those bottom-end rankings. You want to know something else? Having nothing means we suddenly at least have a whole lot of nothing to root for . . . which we all kind of knew we would by now so, well, you get the idea.

Week in Review: Fatal. Suffer a death blow at the hands of the Twins, then watch the Tigers throw dirt on the grave for yet another winless week.

Week in Preview: Almost. The Sox' final road trip of 2010 starts with three in Oakland and ends with three against the Los Angeles Anaheim Angels Of Anaheim And Several Beaches Including Redondo, Venice, Hermosa, And Newport, As Well As Certain Annexed Lots Within The City Limits Of Oxnard And Casa Conejo.

Hawkeroo's Can-O-Corn Watch: "Now, you look at what our Sox have done this year, what with losing the Jakemeister who was pitching for a Cy Young Award when he went down, Carlos just hitting out of this world, Paulie having the best season by any American League player in a long time, with these great players Kenny Williams has brought aboard, Mark Kotsay coming through with so many big hits, with the way the Twins have clawed their way to the top, you look at how we've been treated by some of the officiating crews - I won't say who, but we all know who - and through all that, now, you can say the Yankees have won more games, and you'd be right. And the Twins have, certainly, and the Rangers and maybe a couple other teams. But you look at a pure talent level, in terms of who is playing the most baseball, our Sox are the best team in the league this year, bar none. And that's something that's true every year, is that there are two kinds of teams, there are the teams that win baseball games, and there are the teams that are better at playing baseball, and our Sox have been better at both of those than any team that's come through this season, without a doubt, and that's going to help them in a big way when it's time for these playoffs."

Gordon Beckham Hall of Fame Update: Career OPS versus Oakland Athletics, Gordon Beckham: .745. Career OPS versus Oakland Athletics, Rickey Henderson: .724. Advantage: Beckham.

Alumni News You Can Use: Former White Sox pitching prospect Daniel Hudson threw another combined fourteen stellar innings against both a winner and a loser for someone else's team this past week. In perhaps an even crueler twist of ironic fate, Hudson's name was revealed as being bandied about in earlier talks for helping his former employer land a real monster of a bat. The White Sox Report throws up its hands in disgust.

The "H" in "DH" Stands For: "Home run," as Manny Ramirez has finally hit more for the Sox this year than Jake Peavy. Watch yourself, Lillibridge: Manny's eyeing you through a sniper scope.

The Q Factor: . . . , he thinks. . . . . Sometimes mere words do not suffice.

The Guillen Meter: The 2010 season effectively over yet the lineup still full of second-rate veteran bench players, the Guillen Meter reads 24 for "You want me to let the kids play? Play your own !@#$ing kids."

Endorsement No-Brainer: Eric Cartman for the post-elimination leg of White Sox baseball: "Screw you guys, I'm going home."

Cubs Snub: And now, The New York Times presents office decorating tips from the great Nancy Faust.

The White Sox Report: Read 'em all.

The Cub Factor: It's funny because it's true.

-

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 7:05 AM | Permalink

September 18, 2010

The Weekend Desk Report

The good news? We'll start tracking these stories for you this weekend. The bad? We probably won't figure them out for another month and a half.

Market Update
With the threat of deflation all too real, it appears key commodities such as Joy and Ridership have already been devalued.

Hand Job
The furor over Christine O'Donnell's decades-old comments likening masturbation to adultery looks set to continue this week as journalists seeks further clarification. Like, would she consider it adultery if the person uses a baseball team? Or a network television audience? Or, you know, an entire friggin' state?

Blow Job
In other news, duh. And, for a change, huh.

Top Job
In the battle for hearts and minds this week, the Anglican Church faced down Catholicism and scored a minor victory. Sure, they both spend a lot of time issuing belated apologies, but the head of the Anglican Church gets to wear way better hats.


Snow Job
And finally this week, so wha?

Posted by Natasha Julius at 8:22 AM | Permalink

September 17, 2010

The College Football Report: Creampuffs, Legacies and Doubloons

When teams from the Big Ten and SEC need to pad their win total, someone has to take the fall. Not surprisingly, given the predilection for starting the season against Directional Creampuffs, many schools outside the Big Six conferences have had a tough start to the season. But even among some of the traditional powers, some surprising names enter Week Three still seeking a win.

Looking at the little guys, we feel some sympathy for the likes of Arkansas State (0-2), Western Kentucky (0-2) and North Texas (0-2) in the Sun Belt. Many in the MAC have not fared much better - the conference has only one team (Temple) at 2-0 - while Akron (0-2), Bowling Green (0-2) and Eastern Michigan (0-2) have suffered at the hands of bigger programs with at least one more week to go before the end of Creampuff season.

The first two weeks have not been kind to teams along the fringes of the major conferences either. Conference USA standings show three teams at 0-2 (Marshall, Memphis and UAB) and another three (Colorado State, New Mexico and UNLV) have stumbled out of the gate for the Mountain West. In the WAC, only San Jose State (0-2) sits at the bottom of the standings awaiting the first W of the young season.

Headed in the Wrong Direction

Not to be left out, a few big-name programs fell on their face in Week One and followed up with another loss last Saturday. While only two teams (#13 Virginia Tech and UCLA) have fallen to 0-2, both are notable due to the manner in which they pulled it off.

Partly Cloudy With a Chance of Amphibians

Locals in Blacksburg, VA must be checking the weather forecast for impending frog showers now that their beloved Hokies have started the season with two losses. For a team entering the season in Top Ten, Va Tech anticipated a tough road that might end in a BCS bowl, possibly even the title game. What Frank Beamer didn't know was that the road led straight off a cliff.

Virginia Tech has recorded ten or more wins each season since 2004. Yet the Hokies have also lost three or more games every year during that stretch with the exception of 2005, in which they ended the season at 11-2. Virginia Tech acquired a reputation as a BCS bridesmaid - always in the photo, but never on the altar. And while the program should be commended for scheduling tough nonconference opponents recently, results have been mixed - the school opened the past three seasons (in 2007 to LSU, 2008 to E. Carolina and 2009 to Alabama) with a loss in one of the first two games.

Given the substantial expectations the team faces each season, we should be surprised that the inevitable hangover upset didn't happen sooner. But each of the past three years, Beamer has regrouped and reeled off several wins in a row. Last Saturday, the other shoe finally dropped . . . against FCS opponent James Madison University. Final score, VT 16 - JMU 21.

In all fairness, we agree with JMU coach Mickey Matthews - the 11 players on the field decide the game, not their jerseys - but James Madison became only the second FCS (Div I-AA) team to beat a ranked FBS squad since Appalachian State stunned #5 Michigan in 2007. Upsets of this magnitude just don't happen often, for good reason.

(Maybe Virginia Tech should consider scheduling a bye week in Week Two from now on?)

Regardless, we have to commend the Dukes and senior leader Drew Dudzik. While an unknown outside of Virginia a week ago, Dudzik is a familiar name in-state: as a high school senior, he was awarded First-Team Offense honors on the '05 "All Met" team as the top quarterback in the D.C. area after leading Centreville High to 44.7 points per game. Our favorite part? Drew is a legacy - his father Mike Dudzik played QB for JMU from 1978-80. Drew, here's to you . . . and to settling every argument with your old man by tossing out, "Yeah, but you never beat Virginia Tech!"

Sliding into the Ocean

Those living in The Golden State know that earthquakes are no laughing matter. College football fans out West also realize that games between the likes of Cal, USC, Stanford and UCLA are no joke either. So when coach Jim Harbaugh led the Stanford Cardinal into the Rose Bowl to face UCLA last Saturday, football fans in California took note. After the Cardinal's stout defense blanked his Bruins 35-0, UCLA coach (who, by edict of the National Sportswriters Cliche Committee will from this point forward be referred to as "embattled") Rick Neuheisel addressed the crowd - which by that point, was all Stanford fans. If you can't watch, we understand. Coach, Dan Hawkins has a suggestion for you. Don't wait until your team goes 4-8 (which could be generous considering the remainder of UCLA's schedule), go ahead and ask for your next contract now.

On the Rails, But Not by Much

While Pitt managed a win over FCS powerhouse New Hampshire in Week Two, the Panthers still merit an honorable mention here. After starting the season at #15, Dave Wannestedt watched his team drop their opening game on the road to Utah. Despite the 38-16 win last week, star RB Dion Lewis has only amassed 102 yards rushing on 35 attempts, well short of his 5.5 average in 2009. But the challenges have not been limited to the gridiron - two Panthers were involved in an alcohol-fueled hit-and-run in the early hours on Sunday, resulting in one indefinite suspension and a demotion. Add to that the loss of DE Greg Romeus ('09 Big East co-player of the year) and Wannie will be taking some heat in Pittsburgh this season, two-year extension or no.

Looking Back at Week Two

Thursday and Friday, September 9-10
#21 Auburn 17 (-1) @ Mississippi State 14
#23 West Virginia 24 (-12.5) @ Marshall 21 (OT)

Comment: We think both victors will play better this weekend. Starville is not an easy place to win and we can't blame the Mountaineers for looking befuddled against Marshall. With Matthew McConaughey on the opposing sideline, who could possibly focus on the game?

Saturday, September 11
#18 Penn St. 3 @ #1 Alabama 24 (-14)
#12 Miami (FL) 24 @ #2 Ohio State 36 (-8.5)

Comment: The Bama score did not surprise us. Earlier in the day, the Hurricanes also failed to threaten Ohio State. Every time Miami seemed ready to seize the momentum, QB Jacory Harris threw an INT - four in all. Together, the two biggest games of the day fell flat.

*

Tennessee Tech 7 @ #4 TCU (n/a)
Wyoming 7 @ #5 Texas 34 (-27.5)
Idaho 17 @ #6 Nebraska 38 (-27.5)

Comment: We hope you didn't watch any of these games. Yes, even the hopelessly football-addled staff here at the CFR couldn't give a fig despite our (hypothetical) monetary interest in the Cornhuskers.

*

#7 Oregon 48 (-10.5) @ Tennessee 13
South Florida 14 @ #8 Florida 38 (-14.5)
Iowa State 7 @ #9 Iowa 35 (-13.5)

Comment: Despite appearances, we believe you should only entrust your shekels to one of the above teams. We will keep you in suspense as to which is which - for now.

*

#17 Florida State 17 @ #10 Oklahoma 47 (-7)
San Jose State 14 @ #11 Wisconsin 27 (-39)
James Madison 21 @ #13 Virginia Tech 16 (n/a)

Comment: None of these matchups turned out liked we thought . . . with the possible exception of FSU-OU, where we called the "over." The JMU-Va Tech upset shocked all of us, but the other two were also surprising - SJSU lost to Alabama in Week One by 45 points, and the third place team in the Big Ten couldn't pull away from the Spartans . . . at home? If I'm a Badger fan, I would be a little worried.

*

#14 Arkansas 31 (-33.5) @ Louisiana-Monroe 7 at Little Rock, AR

Comment: At last! A game that made sense. Don't mistake us for front-runners at the CFR. We like the little guys. But when a team claims to have a Heisman candidate (looking at you, Dion Lewis) on the roster, we like to hold them to high expectations. So far, QB Ryan Mallet (701 yards, 6 TDs) and the Razorbacks are delivering.

*

#15 Georgia Tech 25 (-14) @ Kansas 28

Comment: The ACC can't wait for conference play to start. Last weekend, ranked teams in the conference went 0-4 including this notable upset. No surprise that only West Virginia (#21) remains in the Top 25 this week.

*

Virginia 14 @ #16 USC 17 (-21)
#19 LSU 27 (-10.5) @ Vanderbilt 3
UNLV 10 @ #20 Utah 38 (-20.5)

Comment: Many (note: not us) picked Vandy as the "upset lock of the week," at least against the number. We suspect the Commodores may get more play as scrappy underdogs at home due to carry-over from men's hoops. Nashville is a very tough place to get a road win in SEC basketball. But on the football field, Vanderbilt's record ATS as home 'dogs since 2005 is a mediocre 6-11. Elsewhere, Utah paid off (again) while USC's pedestrian 2010 campaign continues.

*

#22 Georgia 6 @ #24 South Carolina 17 (-3)

Comment: We don't remember the last time a South Carolina game in Week Two factored into the SEC East race, but it just happened.

*

#25 Stanford 35 (-6.5) @ UCLA 0

Comment: See above, if you can stomach it.

Avast, Me Hearties! It Be Week Three on the Horizon!

In celebration of the International Talk Like a Pirate Day this weekend, we will make our picks in Pirate. Here at the Report, we like anything that gives us an excuse to speak in a funny accent.

As always, the following is for entertainment purposes only. (Including gambling.) And remember: dead men tell no tales.

For bookkeeping purposes, you can mark us down as having $100 Beachwood Doubloons on each of the following.

Thar Be Upsets!

#6 Texas @ Texas Tech (+3), 6:00PM
#9 Iowa @ #24 Arizona (+3), 9:30PM

Yo-ho-ho: The Longhorns and Hawkeyes weigh anchors this week and sail into hostile waters. Mack Brown, ol' sea dog that he is, saw the writing on the wall after losing Colt McCoy to injury in the BCS championship game last year: Texas needed a running game. (Any hope of the national title foundered when McCoy was sidelined with 10:54 remaining in the first quarter.) After the Longhorns won most games in '09 with a one-dimensional passing attack, we have seen far more running plays this season. As a result, the high-flying Texas "O" has been grounded in favor of a more conservative (read: lower scoring) approach. We expect the Red Raiders (arrr!) to put up a good fight.

Later in the evening on Saturday, Arizona will host Iowa under the lights in Tuscon. Wildcats QB Nick Foles righted the ship midway through last season's 27-17 loss in Iowa City and it has been clear sailing ever since for Arizona. Now the Hawkeyes have to navigate Arizona Stadium, a notoriously hostile environment. We like the Wildcats to eke out a win, or perhaps a hard-fought close loss, in a battle pitting one of the Pac-10's top QBs against one of the best defenses in the Big Ten. The game might serve as a preview of sorts for the Rose Bowl: with Ohio State penciled into the national title game, Iowa may find themselves back on the West Coast in January facing off against another high-powered Pac-10 offense. Take notes, mateys!

Take No Quarter, Laddies! (But Ye Best Buy th' Hook)

Baylor @ #4 TCU (-21.5), 3:30PM
#14 Utah (-22.5) @ New Mexico, 7:00PM

Yo-ho-ho: Take a look at the schedules for the above teams, and one issue should be obvious: the quality of competition faced by Baylor doesn't measure up to TCU's opponents thus far, and New Mexico has yet to show up. TCU scored a W over a ranked (#24) opponent in the first week by beating Oregon State 30-21. And the Horned Frogs should still be fresh after thrashing Tennessee Tech by 55 points in Week Two. Baylor enters the game with a 2-0 record, but those victories were against pushovers Sam Houston State and Buffalo. Utah snaked #15 (at the time) Pitt in Week One and trounced a bad UNLV team last week, 38-10. New Mexico should get some credit, having played Oregon and Texas Tech, but the Aggies were keelhauled by a combined 134-17 score.

Make 'Em Walk th' Plank!

Kent State @ #22 Penn State (-21), 11:00AM
Louisville @ #25 Oregon State (-20), 4:30PM

Yo-ho-ho: We suspect both home teams will be itching for a fight. And the visitors, like it or not, look to be shark bait. The Nittany Lions must be smarting after getting dragged around by tail in Tuscaloosa by the Crimson Tide. Proving that even prime-time matchups can bore viewers, the Penn State offense barely forced the Bama defenders to break a sweat. We imagine that heart rates among the TV audience only spiked while reaching for the remote to change the channel in the second half. Returning home to Happy Valley offers Joe Paterno an excellent chance to build off the loss and focus on the rest of the season. Meanwhile in Corvallis, the season has barely started. The Beavers enjoyed an early bye week in Week Two after falling to TCU to kick off the season. To keep a Top 25 ranking, Oregon State must know that voters expect to see some fireworks right away.

Th' (First Ever) Beachwood Parrrrley!

Maybe it's the rum talking, but we will put 50 Beachwood Doubloons (can somebody convert that to pieces of eight?) on a propositional wager this week: Penn State -21, TCU -21.5 and Oregon State -20. (For the curious: a three-game parley pays off, hypothetically, at 6:1 odds.)

Shiver Me Timbers, 'tis th' Sports Seal!

Getting into the spirit of things, the Sports Seal has been digging for buried treasure in this weekend's schedule. Assuming you can find a number on some of these games (we had some difficulty), he recommends:

The Stony Brook Seawolves over Brown, 11:30AM
The Charleston Southern Buccaneers over Mars Hill, 12:30PM
The Hampton University Pirates over North Carolina A&T, 5:00PM

And he could barely suppress his excitement about:
Navy @ Louisiana Tech (+3), 6:00PM*
East Carolina (+20) at Virginia Tech, 12:30PM**

* Always bet against The Midshipmen under these circumstances.
** That would be the East Carolina Pirates, of course.

Finally, should you be looking for a break from swabbing the poopdeck, join the staff of the College Football Report and The Beachwood Reporter at our local watering hole on Saturday. Should you be looking for the game, or just thirsty for some grog, the festivities should start around 3PM.

-

Mike "Dr. Dude" Luce brings you The College Football Report in this space twice a week, with the generous assistance of the Beachwood Sports Seal. They both welcome your comments.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:05 PM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

First, a correction. I will be opening the bar at 3 p.m. on Saturday, not 5 p.m. as I stated in a previous post. Two bonus hours! Please stop by, it will be just one of the small ways you can support our efforts here. Many of the bar regulars will be in Michigan at the annual Beachwood Picnic so if they've scared you off in the past, you can have full run of the place - under my supervision, of course. I'll post drink specials and so on through our Facebook page, I don't have them at the ready. But yes, there will be specials!

Also, I will be guest bartending tonight from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. (My Saturday shift ends at 9 p.m.)

Forget citizen journalists; that's a wank. I'm a bartender journalist, as it should be.

Now, on to the news.

Or at least the news I have the strength to cope with today. The steady pace of political and media malpractice can be draining. I have a backlog miles long. Nobody ever seems to learn; we just repeating the madness over and over again. People! Please. I'm tired.

Take A Stranger To Work Day
There's always something satisfying about stories like this bogus CTA driver; these tales give me a tingle. I want to yell "Go! Go!" Especially when I see nuggets like this: "The man, whose identity has not been released by police, even picked up passengers and stopped the vehicle a few times." It's like that Seinfeld when Kramer finds himself accidentally behind the wheel of a city bus during an emergency:

Jerry: You kept making all the stops?

Kramer: Well, people kept ringing the bell!

I know it's ultimately not funny. Lives are endangered when things like this happen. The posers aren't necessarily sane or safe. But somehow there's an element of subversion that is undeniably awesome.

*

In the same vein, readers of our Facebook page already saw this bit of awesomeness, though tinged with a bit more creepiness and a greater degree of alleged criminality, though you have to admire them for pulling it off: Who Is Pretending To Be The Togo Soccer Team?

Christian Clout
"The largest congregation among the Assemblies of God Fellowship is now an Hispanic church," CBN reports. "More than 11,000 Latinos attend the New Life Covenant Church located in Chicago."

The church is led by Wilfredo DeJesus, who, like the Rev. James Meeks, is homophobic and political-minded.

White conservatives don't hold a monopoly on scary religious nuts.

Me And Whitney
A personal plea.

Lance Stance
"Chicago Bears' linebacker Lance Briggs is standing by his comments that women should not be in the men's locker room," WBEZ reports.

(Here's how badly WBEZ has screwed up its branding: I never know whether to call it WBEZ or Chicago Public Radio or, I guess now, Chicago Public Media or some other bit of nonsense. And don't get me started on Vocalo; as usual my warnings and suggestions were ignored. Frankly, I don't understand why I don't rule the world at this point because I'm pretty sure I could do it, but everybody wants to hear and see and think what they want to hear and see and think.)

Briggs is half-right. Men shouldn't be allowed in locker rooms either.

Now, you all know that I'm pretty gung-ho about media access to public figures. But I've done my share of locker room interviews and reporting and, well, it's ridiculous. For one thing, the players are naked. That's just not right. And it usually stinks in there and you almost never get anything of value; getting a quote is not the same thing as getting a quote that has enough value to pass on to readers. It's a locker room. Let athletes have their space.

Old-school sportswriters will argue that the citizens of America need those vital firsthand immediate reactions to complete their understanding of the games they are following. Hogwash. How often does something meaningful come out of a post-game, locker room interview? Almost never. And who cares.

New-school sports bloggers eschew access; they don't see why they need to maintain friendly relationships with the subjects they cover in exchange for . . . crap. I'm not saying beat writers can't learn things from hanging out in a locker room, but I'd rather they spent their time knowing a damn thing or two about how to do their job - how to report on athletes rather than worship them, which they almost all do - and take a more imaginative and innovative approach to what they do.

Besides, the real reason locker rooms are open to the media is because league officials - and that means team owners - want them to be. The free publicity is an amazingly integral part to the immense financial success of sports franchises. See, they see the sports press as extensions of their PR staffs. And in many cases, they are.

I never felt comfortable in locker rooms. I'll never forget interviewing Jim Leyland in his locker room office once when he was the manager of the Florida Marlins - stop me if you've heard this one - and I was on the road for Newsweek following Sammy Sosa (yes, it was 1998). In the middle of the interview, Leyland got up and walked into the adjacent shower and bathroom area to, um, urinate. He kept talking, only now his voice was echoing off the walls. I wasn't sure whether I was supposed to follow him in there, or just yell from where I was sitting, or if he was doing it to aggravate or punk me. It was not the first time I wondered what the hell I was doing in there.

By the way, I most assuredly did not follow him in.

The Week In WTF
Starring Chicago cops, Bill Brady, Pat Quinn, Lower Wacker Drive and reprobate reporters.

The College Football Report
Will be posted later this morning. And it will be Is glorious.

The Mayoral Odds
Will be updated through the weekend as warranted - like when Manny Flores makes it official tomorrow.

The Weekend Desk Report
Will appear on Saturday as usual and will be fabulous.

Please Insure Really Prompt Service
See you tonight and/or tomorrow.

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Room temperature only.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:13 AM | Permalink

The Week in WTF

1. Chicago cops, WTF?

As a Chicagoan, you can be embarrassed that there are too many criminals and too few cops. That stinks. You can be embarrassed by integrity-challenged politicians who use the public pocketbook as their own piggy bank. There's enough WTF outrage to go around.

But it's really embarrassing to be embarrassed by the cops themselves. What-the-royal-EF?

The picket lines this week against chief Jody Weis show a grotesque myopia. Let us introduce Chicago police to the concept of irony, which, as we know, was killed in 1998, but has been rebirthed in Chicago ever since.

There were no police picketers against the rampant corruption and scandals that brought Weis to town in the first place. WTF, officers, we all know you stand steadfastly against attempts to clean up your own force. Your silence confirmed it. How many really bad cops have been defended down to the last dime by the FOP? By you?

Even you should know a rotten apple tree can't ask one of its own apples to clean up the rottenness. The FOP enables the spreading virus and complains when the tree surgeon arrives to fix the blight.

Plus, anyone who has ever raised a 2-year-old can recognize silly whining when they hear it. Grown-up police officers should act grown-up instead of staging a WTF publicity stunt while demanding anonymity when reporters ask for their names. It takes large metallic balls to yell "coward" at Weis from behind the veil of weak-kneed reporters. When did cops get the right to protest other public officials and claim anonymity?

Here's WTF's position. Shut the EF up, and do your job.

2. Bill Brady, WTF?

WTF is ready to admit that Gov. Pat Quinn (D-Dense) is a lost ball in the tall electoral weeds. He could make us yearn for you know who.

Sure, GOP foe Bill Brady's social concepts would embarrass the Cro-Magnon Party, but well-developed frontal lobes aren't all that necessary or attractive. Anyway, Brady is credentialed as a great business manager, an acumen he presumably will use to fix Illinois.

WTF is not sure how a "giant home-building firm" with 34 employees is consistent factually, but we'll assume "giant home-building firm" means something else in Bloomington.

So let us delve into that patch of murky water.

Dean Vallas, the GOP finance co-chair in Cook County and brother of Paul, has this glowing tribute to Brady's bidnes sperience.

"[He's] been in business (a family home construction company) for his whole life, has had to meet a payroll (and) knows what it's like not to sleep on Friday night because you can't make the Saturday payroll."

Thanks, Dean. Unless Brady paid everyone in cash, that would seem to suggest that Gov-in-waiting Brady had written bad checks. If we're reading that accurately, sleepless-on-Friday about checks-delivered-on-Saturday would seem to indicate there's a bank shortage. Maybe he's waiting for the Bank Fairy to arrive.

Or this could just be a case of Dean Vallas being seriously dopey in an idle moment.

Plus, we're not all hyper about financial ledgerdomain because that's how the Illinois budget works, even in good times.

As Wikipedia notes, a check written with insufficient funds is also called a "bad check or dishonored check, or more colloquially, a bounced check, cold check, rubber check, or hot check."

Dontcha just love Wikipedia? WTF, yes.

3. Lower Wacker Drive "garbage" pick-up, WTF?

In case you were driving along Lower Wacker Drive this week and saw city sanitation trucks being used to tote away bags of garbage, here's what WTF suspects.

The "garbage" being removed wasn't actually trash. It was the meager, pitiful property of homeless people who sleep under the bridge. It was only the remnants of lives gone wrong being dismissed at an even lower, less human level than their awful lives already are.

Thus, we have found the Chicago solution to homelessness. Roust it. Pulverize it. Grind their lives into even more unrecognizable and more unendurable rubble. Humiliate them in a way none of us would accept if it happened to us. And then we throw it away much as we have thrown them away.

It we make it invisible, we make homelessness go away. It's so effing predictable and even more sad. WTF.

4. Moral character, WTF?

The Chicago police have changed their rules for receiving the official press passes that are the coin of the realm for breaking news reporters. This pass gets you into places that real people aren't allowed. And Lord knows we don't want normal people in those places.

Okay, we're happy about that because it recognizes that Internet-only scribblers are real reporters, too.

But that's not the real news. Egads, they've also dropped the requirement that reporters must show they are of good moral character to get the little pass.

Why were we not informed? Why have we not discussed this?

When was it that reporters were ever of good moral character?

WTF has never been asked about our moral fitness. If we had, we'd likely fail any test because, frankly, we have never been morally fit and don't plan to be in any foreseeable future.

What does moral fitness have to do with anything? We have always been reprobates, ne'er-do-wells and vaguely unseemly. It's who we are supposed to be. It makes us unafraid of power because we're indifferent to being seen as grubby lowlifes.

-

David Rutter is the former publisher/editor of the Lake County News-Sun, a Sun-Times Media property. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:51 AM | Permalink

A Personal Plea From Me - And Rich Whitney

Folks, when we talk about change in politics we're really talking about someone like Rich Whitney, the Green Party's candidate for governor. That is, if we're serious and not just posing - or weak-kneed, lily-livered liberals. Whitney's independence, non-partisan appeal, common sense and humane priorities would be a welcome antidote to the Pat Quinns and Bill Bradys of the world. Would he have trouble governing with Michael Madigan lording over all he sees? Well, who hasn't? But where does change start? Not with Barack Obama, that's for sure. I hope you've all learned your lesson.

Now, this is not a personal endorsement of Whitney. I've never met the man and for all I know he's a royal goofball. But compared to who? Quinn and Brady comprise the most dreadful pair of candidates the private, corporatized major parties have put forth yet. It's not getting better folks; it's getting worse. Much, much worse.

It will be no surprise to regular readers that the Beachwood will, in all likelihood, offer its institutional endorsement of Whitney in our annual voters' guide, just as it has in the past. My challenge to you is this: What, exactly, is wrong with Whitney?

Would you be more embarrassed to pull the lever for him than Brady or Quinn?

Finally, consider supporting Whitney as a personal little revolt toward the mindless political "coverage" that we continue to get from the glib, gutless geniuses in the media.

Marvel, for example, at Greg Hinz blaming voters for "failing to end Blago-style government" while explaining why he doesn't cover candidates he decides can't win.

"I don't believe in spending much time or ink on folks who have no chance to win," Hinz writes. "It's hard enough to get most voters to pay even minimal attention to election races, and I hate to distract them."

Yes, that would be a shame. Besides the fact that history is littered with candidates whom experts like Hinz thought never had a chance, I hope you can see the circular reasoning here: "Bad voters! Stop putting the same people in office even if those are the only ones I deign to cover!"

And here is Hinz's fantasyland prescription:

"When candidates come calling this fall, try to look beyond the TV ads and the public personas crafted by paid spinners. Look for answers to the questions that count.

"How do the candidates raise money, and what limits have they imposed on their own fundraising? Have they disclosed and answered questions about their personal finances?

"How will they balance the budget of the office they're running for? With tax hikes (how much and where) or spending cuts (how much and where)?

"Do the candidates act in a bipartisan manner? Do they have a record of accomplishment? Would you trust them to hold your wallet?"

Okay, I've done that. So Brady or Quinn?

Part of my prescription is that the political media give equal coverage to every candidate on the ballot. Wouldn't that be interesting? Whether millions in the bank or pennies. Treat each candidate equally. Don't voters deserve that? And isn't that the journalistic thing to do, rather than the political thing to do? Journalists should not be part of the process; we stand by ourselves outside the system. We should act accordingly.

It would also make journalists who complain about the focus on money, polls and fluff in campaigns less hypocritical for focusing on money, polls and fluff.

With that said, we've begun posting here this week press releases from the Whitney campaign to do our little part. Again, we don't have the resources to vet Whitney the way he ought to be - just like anyone else. We are not blind. We just happen to think he's an important candidate and easily the best in the field. Hello, Obamaphiles - want real change or still content with the fake kind?

Here, then, is the latest from Whitney.

*

A Personal Plea From Rich Whitney

Dear Friends,

Circumstances force me to be blunt: My campaign is REALLY hurting for money right now. Just when we need to be peaking, so that we can get some radio and cable TV ads and buy yard and window signs, and numerous other essentials, we are instead scraping the bottom of the barrel.

If you have thought of donating to my campaign before but haven't gotten to it, THIS would be the time to get it done, either at www.whitneyforgov.org or by sending it to "Whitney for Governor" at P.O. Box 3803, Carbondale, IL 62902. If you have already donated or are tapped out, then PLEASE talk to others about helping, or send me names of people I can call - or contact the campaign, at campaignmanager@whitneyforgov.org, to find out other ways in which you can help. We still need people to help organize dinners, house parties, music fundraisers or other fundraising events. Thus far, supporters have not followed through on such basic fundraising efforts as expected. I can't do it all, and you can't wait for the "campaign" to do it all. The campaign is US, collectively. I need people to step up to the plate and take some initiative.

To keep the carbon footprint down, I can arrange to "appear" at your house party or other gathering by Skype or phone, but I will also come out to your area if we can plan it to coincide with my campaign appearances. But either way, we need people to get these things OFF THE GROUND, ASAP.

If you have not yet joined my campaign page, please do so. If you have already joined, then please send invitations to your friends so we can build our numbers there.

It absolutely kills me to go through Chicago and listen to a wealthy vanity candidate like Scott Lee Cohen inundate the airwaves with his radio ads, and coat the streets with his yard signs, when he has absolutely nothing of substance to say - while I have plenty of substance to say, and yet am struggling to get my message OUT to where people can HEAR it, or see it.

Please: DON'T DELAY, DON'T STAY ON THE BENCH ANY LONGER. NOW is the time to GET IN THE GAME and help me win this thing! We have the best platform. We have the best message. I can and will beat the other candidates in debate. But the best platform in the world cannot win an election if the people don't hear about it.

Friends, I need your help. Don't do it for me. Do it for yourselves, for the future of Illinois, for the future of progressive Green politics in America. Please help out the Whitney for Governor campaign TODAY.

Thank you for whatever you can do.

Rich Whitney
Green Party candidate for Governor of Illinois

-

Previously:
* Whitney: Fair Taxes For All

* Whitney: Abolish Secret Lottery

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:57 AM | Permalink

September 16, 2010

Whitney: Abolish Secret Lottery

Green Party gubernatorial candidate Rich Whitney issued the following statement today in reaction to Governor Quinn's selection of Northstar Lottery Group to run the Illinois Lottery system. Whitney is critical of the privatization of the system, the secrecy of the selection process as well as the Lottery itself.

"Quinn has taken pride in his improvements to transparency in government - and to be fair, he has made some. But that makes his invocation of secrecy in this case all the more questionable. I don't see how he can defend it. He certainly hasn't provided a rational explanation yet.

"A huge amount of taxpayer funds are at stake. The public has a right to know what offers were made and by whom. The administration's explanation that making information on the bidders public would somehow 'taint the outcome' makes no sense, not after all the bids are in. This can only fuel suspicion that the governor is hiding something. It creates an appearance of impropriety. And given that our state's reputation for ethics in government is not exactly deserving of a gold star right now, I think the governor has once again exercised poor judgment.

"It is disturbing to me that the General Assembly and the governor saw fit to privatize lottery operations in the first place. This is another example of how their stubborn refusal to deal with the causes of the current budget crisis keeps leading them to make bad decisions that will only compound that crisis in the future. For some immediate cash, the State is giving away the store. In the long run, our taxpayers will still be paying to administer the lottery but now they will be paying for the private profits of the operators as well. There are also questions regarding how much control over operations - and potential abuses - that the State will retain. This is not a rational system that is being created.

"Once again, my own position is that we never should have had the lottery in the first place and I would fight to abolish it as soon as we can afford to do so. Gambling is a hidden tax on the poor, the ignorant and the desperate. We never should have gone down this road. Just because other states were foolish enough to go jump in the lake, it doesn't mean that we should do so. But now that it's a fact, privatizing it just makes things worse. And keeping the process of selecting the private profiteer that will benefit from this corporate welfare - courtesy of Illinois taxpayers - is worse still. This entire story keeps getting more sordid as each chapter is written.

-

Rich Whitney is a 55-year-old civil rights and employment lawyer from Carbondale. As a lawyer, he has fought for working people who have lost their jobs or had their rights violated. A founder of the Illinois Green Party, he has long been politically active in support of the labor, health-care reform, environmental, civil rights, and peace movements. In 2006, he served as the Green Party's first candidate for Governor, winning over 360,000 votes and making it possible for Illinois voters to have a third choice on the ballot statewide.

-

Previously:
* Whitney: Fair Taxes For All

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:22 PM | Permalink

The [Thursday] Papers

"Most of the two dozen former pimps and madams questioned by DePaul University researchers for a study on Chicago's sex trade had suffered both physical and sexual abuse as children," the Tribune reports.

This reminds me of someone I know who is close to the porn industry who has told me that they never met a stripper or actress who wasn't abused as a child.

I'm not interested in porn - borrrring! - and find the recent glorification of porn stars and strippers a bizarre and perverse (no pun intended - or sexual judgement) male-fantasy phenomenon (the fantasy being that of highly sexually charged females who are always available. Oh, if only!).

But I have trouble enjoying behavior that A) is rarely sexy and B) is the result of awful childhood trauma. I know far too many women whose lives have been horribly damaged by childhood sexual abuse. It's not something for us to enjoy the fruits of when the result is a career in the sex industry.

One other fascinating finding by DePaul researchers, as reported by WBEZ: "A new study on Chicago-area pimps finds that these sex traffickers see themselves as legitimate businesspeople."

Study co-author Jody Raphael told WBEZ: "This is the American Way. They have a satisfaction having their own business. They kept saying it over and over again. They were good businessmen, made them feel important. They got self-esteem from the fact that they were running a profitable business.

"Raphael says the sex-trade infrastructure gave pimps ancillary support. For example the pimps often paid off a host of players - including law enforcement, bartenders, hotel clerks and cabdrivers. Because of this support, the pimps saw nothing wrong with their enterprises."

Please note: The majority of ex-pimps in the study were found to have been abused as children as well.

Now, what does this say about the possible legalization of prostitution? I don't think the public - or more to the point, public officials - will ever go for it. But despite its horrible origins, I'm not sure it should be illegal. It's a human, commercial transaction. And it would be better for everyone involved if it was regulated like any other business for safety, public health and so forth.

If only we were further along in human and social evolution to put the world's oldest profession out of business. Until then, I like Bill Clinton's old formulation about abortion: It should be safe, legal and rare.

*

I will say 25 ex-pimps strikes me as a small sample size.

*

The DePaul news release: "Findings show most started at age 15."

Includes a link to the actual study.

Family Matters
"The victims gave similar accounts. [Frank] Castaldi was a friend of 10, 20 and even 40 years. He was their accountant, a friend of the family or, in some cases, a blood relative.

"He asked about their health and their families. Then he robbed them all of their pensions, life savings or spouses's death benefits in a scheme that by his own admission was started back in the 1960s by his father. Castaldi promised investors 10 percent and 15 percent on promissory notes he sold them. He lied about investing their principal in his businesses and paid them interest by using investment money from new victims.

"Everything collapsed in 2008, and Castaldi turned himself in."

On Wednesday, Castaldi was sentenced to 23 years for a 22-year scheme bilking his victims out of more than $30 million.

Rahm & Junior
"White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel met privately with Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. Wednesday night to discuss the race for mayor of Chicago, a post for which both men are potential candidates," Politico - and others - report.

But the Politico report is my favorite for nuggets like this:

"When reached by POLITICO, Jackson said that he's been meeting with a series of officials, including state Sen. James Meeks and fellow Democratic Reps. Danny Davis and Luis Gutierrez, on the matter. Jackson has also been in regular contact with another possible candidate, he said: Alderman Sandi Jackson, who is his wife."

He's also been in regular contact with his wife!

Politico also reports that U.S. Rep. Luiz Gutierrez told them he "plans to transfer money from his federal campaign account to a committee in the state and the he will begin polling soon. He said he'll make contributions to help Democrats retain control of the House but that a portion of his $500,000-plus war chest will be devoted to exploring a mayoral run."

I'll update our Mayoral Odds later today.

Cop Shop
"There was heated debate but, in the end, no internal mutiny at the Police Department Wednesday night."

The aftermath of yesterday's cop protest?

No. This was in New Haven, Connecticut - but with a Chicago connection.

"Simmering dissent at the Police Department led to a motion to hold a referendum, of sorts, on the leadership of Chief Frank Limon, but ended with no action," the New Haven Register reports.

"For months, some police officers chafed under the managerial style of the new chief, who was hired after spending three decades with the Chicago Police Department, and his out-of-town picks for assistant chiefs."

*

By the way, I interned at the New Haven Register in the summer of 1988. Yeah, I've got some stories to tell. But another time.

Beachwood Notes
I'll be working the door at the bar tonight from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., which reminds me of a saying: "She was a 2 at 10 and a 10 at 2!" Okay, I know. Bar humor.

My current favorite bar joke is this: "A priest and a rabbi walk into a bar and the priest says, 'Did you hear the one about us?'"

Okay. Also for your planning purposes, I'll be behind the bar on Saturday from 5 3 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Beachwood college football correspondent Mike Luce may be in attendance in front of at least one TV tracking his his action - only for entertainment, of course - and it would be nice to see some other familiar faces who tip well.

The rest of the world can have their citizen journalists. I'm a bartender journalist, and that's the way it should be.

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Insure prompt service.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:36 AM | Permalink

September 15, 2010

The [Wednesday] Papers

"The rancor between Chicago's top police official and the union that represents rank-and-file officers continued to escalate on the eve of a protest planned for today outside police headquarters," the Tribune reports.

"Leaders for the Fraternal Order of Police called on officers and their families to march at 10 a.m. to police headquarters at 35th Street and Michigan Avenue to protest what they called Weis' lack of leadership."

I've never been a fan of Weis, but if forced to choose between him and the FOP I'd take Weis eight days a week.

"[I]n a recent article, a representative of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) noted that, as Superintendent, '[I] could have run this department the way it's supposed to be run,' but that '[I] didn't,'" Weis wrote in a letter to the Sun-Times that was published on Monday. "There are some - including, presumably, the leadership of the FOP - who believe that the way 'the department is supposed to be run' was to continue 'business as usual.'"

Weis is right about that. The FOP is an obstacle to reform.

Nonetheless, Weis has been ineffectual for a host of reasons, including his personal style, his FBI pedigree and lack of policing experience, his outsider status, and some leadership deficiencies.

But Richard M. Daley has to take some of the blame for putting Weis in a hole to begin with; the mayor went outside the usual hiring process (surprise) to secretly (surprise) pick Weis for the job without being able to articulate (surprise) why.

Making him the city's highest-paid employee didn't help, and Weis should have been smart enough to refuse such an outsized paycheck if he really wanted to build good will with his officers - and the public.

Weis was supposed to be a transformational figure brought in to clean up the messes made by Daley's previous police chiefs and usher the most ossified part of city government into a modern era. Instead, he'll end up a transition figure who - at best - set the table for the next guy, likely someone with a broad enough palette to satisfy both the rank-and-file and the reformers.

*

"Chief among [the protesting cops'] complaints is how manpower in Chicago's 25 police districts has suffered from officers being detailed to other assignments," the Trib report says.

This appears to confirm the rumblings I've heard that long-promised, long-denied beat realignment has actually become a de facto, um, fact - and that it's been done outside of public view and beyond the reach of the objecting city council.

This is the right thing to do but the wrong way to do it.

Simply put, population patterns as well as (more importantly) trends in the locations of crimes change, but the police department's deployment of manpower does not. Why? Because aldermen of both white and affluent (sometimes non-white, let's note) wards do not want to lose cops even if that means more needy areas need them more. Of course, one solution would be to simply hire more cops and assign them - or shift others - to the areas that need them most. It seems, though, as if Daley would rather privatize the police force than hire more officers - or increase their pay satisfactorily. The mayor is as responsible, if not more, for low morale in the department as anyone. No constituency, including poor African Americans, hates him more.

Beat realignment is a matter of public policy that should be done publicly and formally - not just in the interests of democracy but in the interests of effectiveness. But that's not how Daley's Chicago works.


*

The media, of course, is also complicit in this mess. Lionizing Lt. John L. Andrews is a mistake. I don't remember him speaking out about the deep well of corruption inside the department that brought Weis here. Now he's discovered office politics.

His complaints strike common refrains among the most recalcitrant cops.

"When incoming Superintendent Jody Weis arrived on the scene in Chicago, the CPD was already suffering from very low morale, most notably from the Special Operations Section (SOS) and Abbate scandals that were highlighted repeatedly in the mass media," he wrote on his blog. "The hard working and honest police officers of this city were being unfairly painted with the broad brush of these two issues."

So morale was low not because of the scandals, but because of the media's coverage of the scandals. Yup.

And, of course, Andrews invokes William Cozzi, the rallying cry of discontented cops everywhere.

"Weis's first fatal flaw as Superintendent was to flex his muscles in a misguided demonstration of 'Federal oversight' of the CPD in what has become 'The Cozzi Incident.' Without going into the well known details here, Weis facilitated a Federal prosecution of a police officer AFTER the officer already had been prosecuted at the State level and received severe administrative discipline from the CPD. Many believed that Cozzi had already been punished, both legally and administratively for his misconduct. Many also believed that while Cozzi's conduct in the incident was not acceptable, it did not rise to the level that warranted an additional Federal prosecution, as was the case with the Rodney King incident in Los Angeles. This single action by Weis was viewed by the rank & file of the department as excessive and draconian. The result was an instant and unrecoverable alienation of Weis from the members of the Chicago Police Department."

In other words, Andrews and his pals wanted Cozzi to keep his job.

"It took an indictment from federal prosecutors to get Cozzi off the force," Tracy Siska of the Chicago Justice Project explained to WBEZ.

Also, he had committed a federal crime. Whatever happened to being tough on crime?

(The U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals just upheld Cozzi's conviction and 40-month sentence.)

And for an officer so concerned about the well-being of the department, the name Jon Burge appears nowhere on his blog. Thought he might have an opinion.

A few weeks after the Burge trial, though, Andrews did tweet this: "What exactly is a domestic terrorist? Perhaps you better think about that for a minute before the government labels YOU as one."

I don't have any reason to believe he was referring to Burge - which is just the problem.

So far, reporters are giving Andrews a free pass without really inquiring into his beliefs about the department and its practices. And he's free to have those beliefs. I just don't think he should be held up as a brave man speaking truth to power.

For example, I don't find a lot of truth in his view that Chicago is a city "at war with itself" and "fast-tracking to anarchy."

Despite the media propagating the myth that crime is atypically out of control, surging and unloosed - the facts state the exact opposite.

Of course, we could have a reasoned discussion of such vital issues as crime and policing if we lived in a democratic city. As the Chicago Justice Project recently found, just 1 percent of agenda items for the city council's police committee from 2006 to 2009 had anything to do with crime and violence.

When policy-making - and even the choice of a police chief - occurs behind closed doors, what seeps out are half-truths, lies and delusions. That seems to be what we're seeing here, and all sides are guilty.

Today's Beachwood
Chock full of goodness!

* Live! Pavement at Pritzker

* Whitney: Fair Taxes For All

* The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report

* Tindall on Kindle!

* Wall Street Bloodsuckers

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: The fast track.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:59 AM | Permalink

Live! Pavement At Pritzker

"At Pitchfork, the band sounded tentative, as if still feeling its way around the songs, and never developed much momentum," Greg Kot writes. "Two months later, the quintet was clearly sharper, and there even were a few smiles exchanged as the band members took turns conjuring up old Chicago haunts.

"'This is very reminiscent of when I first walked into Lounge Ax,' quipped percussionist Bob Nastanovich, always the band's most animated weapon."

Highlights:

1. 'Cause I've decided to make a stand.

-

2. I'm a prize and you're a catch.

-

3. Woke up to people so tall to you.

-

4. Out on my skateboard the night is just hummin'.

-

5. And they're coming to the chorus now.

-

6. Songs mean a lot, when songs are bought.

-

Previously:
* Pavement at Pitchfork

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:16 AM | Permalink

Tindall On Kindle!

A Hole to China - exclusively excerpted here on the Beachwood - is now available at the amazin' Amazon Kindle store ($6.99).

A Hole to China joins Ballots From The Dead in the Beachwood marketplace.

A rock 'n' roll China refresher:

Part 1: She left. I asked for it, I think.

Hole to China

Part 2: They met in a bar.

Hole to China

Part 3: Favoring the He-Fucked-It-Up version of events.

Hole to China

Part 4: A nuclear desire for revenge.

Hole to China

Part 5: Doing the least for the most reward.

Hole to China

-

J.J. Tindall is the Beachwood's poet-in-residence and author of our Chicagoetry series. He welcomes your comments.

-

More Tindall:

* Music: MySpace page

* Critical biography at e-poets.net

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:51 AM | Permalink

The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report

Blue Report:

Regardless of the Monday morning quarterbacking from everyone starting with the experts and ending with my grandfather, a win is a win is a win is a win, naysayers be damned. Being that the NFL season is only 16 games long, I'll take every win our Bears can get, even if that means we're going to need at least one play of especially stupid proportions to maintain a lead in the final moments. Don't fault the Bears for Calvin "Megatron" Johnson not knowing the rules as well as this writer, just accept the gift and say, "Thank you."

But, if one were to look past the last couple minutes of the game and closer to the numbers, you might see some interesting stats:

* Jay Cutler goes 23 of 35 for 372 yards, two TD tosses and one interception that I'm blaming on poor play calling versus poor quarterbacking. On third and forever, just run the draw, Martz.

* 20 combined tackles by the linebacking corps. Though not eye-popping numbers, when you add in a sack by Urlacher, an amazing Briggs strip of the ball on a hand-off and the fact that next week we actually get to start the same three linebackers as we did this past week, it's not too shabby.

* 151 yards receiving by Forte with two TDs. Who needs a No. 1 receiver when your running can turn a 4-yard gain into 89 yards? We didn't need the services of Anquan Boldin, we knew that Forte would be his own two-headed monster.

* Despite the boneheaded decision to not kick a go-ahead field goal, receivers who clearly have not grasped the playbook and playing a greatly improved Lions D line, we won.

Some say the Chicago Bears don't have the O-line to stop the pass rush. I say it enhances Culter's abilities. Since no one will know where he's going to go after being flushed from the pocket, no one can defend the reality that not even Jay has any clue where he's going to have to throw it when Hester, Knox and Aromashodu run to probably the wrong place after the play breaks down.

You may ask why Jerry Angelo dumped Josh Beekman after he started all 16 games in 2008. It was by design! You saw it this past weekend - the worse the O-line played, the more Jay had the crazy feet, the more confusion it caused in the Lions.

Less O-line = more crazy offense. I like it, and I think against players like DeMarcus Ware of the Dallas Cowboys this upcoming week, we have an amazing opportunity to exploit Jay running scared. Or as I like to think, scrambling towards greatness.

The second biggest question mark behind the O-line coming into the season had to be the defensive secondary, and though they did not have a stellar performance they also did not embarrass themselves. Though not looking like clowns is not a mark of excellence, if the front four can increase the amount of pressure put on the opposing QBs even a small amount over what was done to the Lions, we won't need Pro Bowl performances from our DBs and safeties to keep opponents' scoring to a moderate clip.

Speaking of the front four, though Tommie Harris looked fat and slow when the ball bounced to him after the Julius Peppers sack and strip, after a second-string neverwas QB entered the contest, they were dominating against the run, albeit with a lot of linebacker support.

Week 2: Bears at Cowboys
The Mighty Bears, riding a wave of luck and good fortune, will continue their winning ways through moderate to okay defense and an offense that has to hit on more cylinders all the way down the field much better than they did a week ago. Turnovers will be limited to an errant Cutler pass that this time will not result in points. The Cowboys, who came into this season as Super Bowl favorites, will again show that Eastern Illinois is possibly not a true hot bed of QB prospects as Romo coughs up the ball a number of times. Lovie will have a field day at the press conference, again boring the masses with the mantra that forcing turnovers leads to victory.

Bears 20, Cowboys 17

Orange Report:

Assuming Sunday's 19-14 victory over the Detroit Lions is the model for the next 15 games, I believe the Chicago Bears can go 11-5.

However, the following must occur in each game:

* The Bears win the time of possession battle by ten minutes.

* Jay Cutler throws for 350-plus yards, including twice as many touchdowns as picks.

* Matt Forte averages 200 yards of total offense per game.

* The defense holds opponents without a first down for two quarters.

* The offense outgains opponents three times over.

If Lovie Smith's ragtag crew of expensive underachievers, failed former head coaches and unproven C-list talent can repeat the above formula for success, we can all look forward to a first-round out.

But the Bears won't be breaking anyone's hearts this January without some adjustments.

* The defense needs to tweak its "bend but don't exist" prevent package in situations where they are leading by less than a touchdown and under a minute to play. Upcoming foes Tom Brady, Aaron Rogers, Brett Favre, Tony Romo, Donovan McNabb and Eli Manning may not be as forgiving as Shaun Hill in this scenario.

* The Bears secondary must stop relying on opposing talent to fall down while running routes or misunderstanding the "process" of catching a football (courtesy the Fox broadcast).

* The offensive line should not be asked to make a push of any kind, let alone in critical fourth-and-goal situations. Instead, use the 90-yard screen pass to set up the two yard run.

* Devin Aromashodu should not be asked to run routes face first into opposing cornerbacks. That's what Garrett Wolfe is for.

If the 2010 squad is going to reach its ceiling - a marginal playoff team with some talented individuals that get all the bounces and are eventually outclassed by a superior Atlanta-based opponent early in the playoffs (see the 1998 Cubs) - it will take more than luck. It will take 15 more games with the Detroit Lions.

Week 2: Bears at Cowboys
Despite backup tackle Alex Barron amassing 100 yards in holding penalties and head coach Wade Phillips' debilitating obsession with his sweet new phone, the Bear defense will be unable to withstand 60 rushing attempts by Marion Barber and/or Felix Jones and/or Tashard Choice.

Cowboys 27, Bears 14

-

Andrew Golden brings you the Blue half of this report every week; Carl Mohrbacher brings you the Orange. They welcome your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:00 AM | Permalink

Wall Street Bloodsuckers

JOIN THE RANKS OF THE BLOODTHIRSTY: DON'T LET THE WALL STREET BLOODSUCKERS HAVE ALL THE FUN!

Boulder, USA - Are you jealous of CEOs and their multi-million-dollar golden parachutes? Do you want your own $1,600 shower curtains paid for by the American taxpayer? Do you wish that you, too, could suck the life force out of your fellow citizens? Now you can - with Wall Street Bloodsuckers™! Wall Street Bloodsuckers™ can be purchased online at www.DraculaFangs.com for $19.99 a pair.

WallStBloodSuckers1.jpgWelcome to the first product on the market that allows you to instantly join the ranks of that blood-thirsty, pin-striped, subspecies known as The Banking Executive (nocturnes huminus financitis). The popular supernatural drama, True Blood, follows the co-existence of vampires and humans in a fictional Louisiana town. But the real bloodsuckers reside in Manhattan, and can be found leeching off retirement plans, savings accounts, foreclosed homes and, with the help of their vampire cousins in Washington, D.C., draining the blood of the American taxpayer.

Wall Street Bloodsuckers™ can help you take what's rightfully yours. You deserve a second mansion in a sunny part of the country and five luxury cars complete with mink-lined interiors. Why should the people who work on Wall Street have all the fun? That 10% unemployment rate doesn't concern you. Heck, you have money to burn. Just look in your fireplace!

Feed off the unwashed masses
We are 34 months into the one of the most harrowing recessions since the United States was founded. Literary historian Susan Sellers describes the bloodsucker myth as "nightmare fantasy" and she could have easily been speaking about the current state of affairs. In 2008, Wall Street CEO's were handed billions of dollars, most of which they handed out as employee bonuses. You weren't one of them, but you wish you were. Now it's time for you to turn around and grab your share of that bailout with Wall Street Bloodsuckers™.

Taking a bite out of the middle class
When you look out the window, do you see record numbers of foreclosed houses? No? Then you must be seeing into the future, like Sookie Stackhouse on True Blood. Wall Street Bloodsuckers™ will bring out your inner tycoon and your inner TV vampire at the same time! You will no longer have to join the people waiting in line at the food bank. You (and your $1,200 exotic crocodile skin shoes) can walk past them on the way to your chauffeured limo, baring the pointy fangs that you've earned as a Wall Street leech.

Pricing and Availability
Wall Street Bloodsuckers™ can be purchased online at www.DraculaFangs.com for $19.99 a pair. Like the Dracula Fangs™ made and sold by Foothills Creations LTD, they come in medium and large sizes, so no matter how big or small your teeth are, you can still sink them into the average American taxpayer.

About Foothill Creations LTD
Foothills Creations LTD is located in Boulder, Colorado, and was first started as Foothills Distributing Co., in 1968. In the early 1970's Foothills began to emerge into the Halloween field, and became the largest Halloween distributor in the Rocky Mountain region. When Halloween trade shows began to be created in 1985, Foothills decided to specialize in fewer Halloween items, offering exclusive Halloween products that other companies did not offer, and began selling these products nationwide. In 1994, because there was no good method of applying universal fangs, Foothills developed and patented the non-toxic Alpha 1 Thermoplastic method of applying universal fangs, which we called the created product, Custom Dracula Fangs. With the formulation of our Alpha 1 application, which creates a fang specific to your bite, and will not inadvertently fall out, but allows you to easily take them in and out of your mouth, our Custom Dracula fangs have never been eclipsed by any other brand of universal fangs.

About the Wall Street Bailout
The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (Division A of Pub.L. 110-343, enacted October 3, 2008), commonly referred to as a bailout of the U.S. financial system, is a law enacted in response to the subprime mortgage crisis authorizing the United States Secretary of the Treasury to spend up to $700 billion to purchase distressed assets, especially mortgage-backed securities, and make capital injections into banks. Both foreign and domestic banks are included in the program. The Federal Reserve also extended help to American Express, whose bank-holding application it recently approved. The Act was proposed by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson during the global financial crisis of 2008.

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:57 AM | Permalink

September 14, 2010

Whitney: Fair Taxes For All

Green Party gubernatorial candidate Rich Whitney called today for fair taxation in Illinois.

"Pat Quinn, Bill Brady and Scott Lee Cohen all refuse to say exactly how they would deal with the burning issue of the budget crisis and taxation until after the election," said Whitney. "This is disrespectful, if not insulting, to Illinois voters. How can voters make an informed choice when they are ducking the issue? In contrast, I provide voters with a clear and detailed road map for solving the crisis, attacking both the spending and the revenue side of the equation."

Whitney added that "the issue is not whether we need an income tax increase; the issue is how we make our tax system fairer. The tax burden needs to be shifted to those most able to pay.

"Our state government today is failing to perform its most essential functions adequately: public safety, education, health care for those most in need, and services for the disabled, the mentally ill, children, the elderly, veterans, and preservation and protection of the environment. It is clear that Bill Brady's 'Just Say No' campaign and Pat Quinn's slow muddle-through to oblivion are not the answers."

Whitney supports measures like SB 750, which would raise the individual rate to 5 percent and the corporate rate to 8 percent - but would protect the bottom 60 percent of income earners from actually paying the higher tax. It would also fund education more through the state rather than local property taxes - and provide badly needed property tax relief.

"Illinois can continue to sink into a sea of red ink or it can sail toward the safe harbor of responsible budgeting and effective, responsive government. I am giving Illinois voters a clear choice," Whitney concluded.

*

Rich Whitney is a 55-year-old civil rights and employment lawyer from Carbondale. As a lawyer, he has fought for working people who have lost their jobs or had their rights violated. A founder of the Illinois Green Party, he has long been politically active in support of the labor, health-care reform, environmental, civil rights, and peace movements. In 2006, he served as the Green Party's first candidate for Governor, winning over 360,000 votes and making it possible for Illinois voters to have a third choice on the ballot statewide.

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:03 PM | Permalink

All Is Lost

So it's come to this. Sweep a superior team or all is lost. Or is it?

No, it is.

Now, there are a lot of ways to look at this week.

The Sox could dominate the Twins and set the record straight, once and for all, about who is the mightiest team in flyover country, sending those hated rivals into a season-crushing death spiral.

Or the Sox could take two, just enough to hang on and leave us to spend the next three weeks rooting our wretched guts out for the Tigers and Royals.

Or the Sox could simply roll over and die, conceding the division to a team that doesn't really deserve it but in the end is really only playing for the right to fly a low-rent flag and get crushed by the inferior of two juggernauts out of the East.

But any of these overlook the uglier, sadder truth of it, and one that may ultimately be the only way for the team to punch its ticket to October: for better or worse, the Sox are only here because of themselves. In the early stages, when they played the worst baseball we have seen since . . . well, since more recently than we'd like to admit, they dug not just a hole but a 25-man grave. In the middle, when they decimated the National League and the soft parts of the American League, they found new life by reducing the hated rivals to also-rans. And in the final act, we've seen a team slightly patched but also exposed, its weaknesses magnified and its strengths arriving too late at worst, in the nick of time at best.

In short, the Sox have only come this far because they, for a moment, turned someone else into the Sox. From here, all they can do is prove which of those three teams was the true 2010 White Sox, horrid at worst, untouchable at best, but most likely an aching, non-spectacular in-between. We all kind of know what will happen - but only kind of. They've surprised us before, and if they really insist they can outdo themselves, this would be a fine time to prove it.

Week in Review: Futile. Drop three to the Tigers and take two from the Royals for a 2-4 week to rule them all.

Week in Preview: Ultimate. Three against the Twins for all the marbles, followed by three against the Tigers for a million lesser prizes.

Hawkeroo's Can-O-Corn Watch: "Well, I've always found that two teams like Ron Gardenhire's Twins and our Sox, these are teams that just seem to come up with the right number of hits they need just when they need them, and that's why, for my money, this will be the best series in all of baseball this year, bar none. Bar none. Because you can look at the Braves, who our Sox swept, or the Yankees, who these Twins have beaten time and again in years past, at the Tampa Bay Rays, who our Sox really put up a fight against, and those are teams that know the winner of these games here, this week, that's the team that's going to be who they need to beat later. Now, if you were to tell me way back in May, back when the Good Guys weren't playing so well, that they'd be here, now, fighting for a shot at the playoffs, I'd have said 'That's exactly right,' because they are. And that's why you know Joe Girardi and Joe Maddon are so afraid of what happens here, because if our Sox win, you can bet they know they'll have a series on their hands."

Gordon Beckham Hall of Fame Update: Gordon Beckham second-season walks: 36 (and counting). Al Kaline second-season walks: 22. Advantage: Beckham.

Alumni News You Can Use: Jim Thome. Again. Damn it all to hell.

The "H" in "DH" Stands For: "How in the world," as in "How in the world can Manny Ramirez hit .294 with no extra-base hits and no runs driven in? That's downright Teahenian!"

The Q Factor: Perfectly still and in perfect silence, he tells himself. Strike not when I can, but when I must, but know as well the hour of action, of judgment, of deliverance and damnation, is nigh.

The Guillen Meter: Idiotic commentary about his future as mayor of Chicago refusing to die, the Guillen Meter reads 50 for "Let's just say I know a guy who knows a guy."

Endorsement No-Brainer: Swedish glam-metal outfit Europe for the 2010 edition of the Sox-Twins rivalry: it's the final countdown.

Cubs Snub: Let us all offer up sacrifice and mockery, for today is the annual Feast of North Side Elimination.

The White Sox Report: Read 'em all.

The Cub Factor: It's funny because it's true.

-

The White Sox Report welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:09 AM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

"White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel has commissioned his longtime pollster, Stanley Greenberg, to survey Chicagoans about a potential mayoral bid," Lynn Sweet reports. "Meanwhile, former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun will accept a mayoral "draft" at a Monday news conference in Chicago.

"Sources told me that polling calls for Emanuel were being made over the weekend and that Emanuel has activated his Chicago network of pals to reach out to political figures in Chicago on his behalf. While Emanuel backed out of a Chicago visit this past weekend, I'm told he will be in Chicago by the end of the month."

*

Throughout this long, arduous process you'll want to keep checking in with our Mayoral Odds as we update the board.

But remember: This isn't a game. It's not sport. It's not entertainment. It can be entertaining, but it's, um, kind of important who the next mayor is. You might even say lives are in the balance. Let's not forget that - or let the media forget it.

Durbin's View
"Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) on Monday said White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel could win a Chicago mayoral election to succeed the retiring Richard M. Daley, but that the city's unique demographics would make it difficult," The Hill reports.

Democracy Alert!
"The Chicago City Council could be in for its biggest turnover in decades - with as many as 20 seats changing hands - thanks to a surge in voter turnout tied to the wide-open mayoral race, alderman and political observers warned Monday," Fran Spielman reports.

I guess I just find it interesting that Spielman - and her editor/s - used the word "warned."

Sox Pox
"I couldn't help but notice that meaningless Cubs-Milwaukee games drew 41,463 fans Saturday and 37,317 Sunday at Miller Park. Meanwhile, somewhat meaningful Sox-Kansas City games had crowds of 26,389 Saturday and 23,756 Sunday at U.S. Cellular Field," Ed Sherman writes for Crain's.

Not only that, but Sherman reports that plenty of good seats are still available for this week's showdown with the Twins, which starts tonight.

*

"They dug not just a hole, but a 25-man grave," our very own Andrew Reilly writes in The White Sox Report.

Anne Burke Watch
Strings are being pulled as we speak.

Bets Are Off
"Betting on the races has come to a screeching halt at a River North neighborhood," the Sun-Times reports (via WLS-AM).

"Stretch Run Sporting Club and Grille at 540 N. LaSalle St. closed abruptly Sept. 5 after the company managing the restaurant operations abruptly cleared out, partners said.

"The facility, which offered live race wagering, was operated by Inter-Track Partners, LLC, a joint venture of Hawthorne Race Course, Maywood Park Racetrack, Balmoral Park, and Hostmark Hospitality Group."

Retry Robert!
"Just because you didn't know something was illegal, doesn't mean you're off the hook," according to ChicagoNow's Chicago's Real Law Blog. "Maybe you didn't realize you were breaking the law, or you had no intention of breaking the law. You can still be charged with a crime, convicted of that crime, and thrown in jail.

"If you thought u-turns were legal in Chicago because they are legal where you used to live, that's just too bad. You broke the law, and not knowing the law is no excuse."

But if you thought you were just conducting politics as usual by shaking down campaign contributors awaiting action by your brother on state policy issues while he is under federal investigation for trading political favors for campaign contributions, then, well, everyone loves you if you emote a straight-arrow bearing because you once had top secret security clearance to manage Pershing missiles in Germany but you are a naif nonetheless, then, well, it's okay to pretend you had no idea what was going on and in that case breaking the law is okay.

Crooked Rain
Pavement's set list from its Millennium Park show last night.

Zell vs. Eisner
Eh, probably a push.

Class War
"Teachers are being yanked from one of Chicago's neediest high schools six weeks into the school year. It's a situation that plagues certain Chicago public schools in the first weeks of class," Linda Lutton reports for WBEZ in "Needy Kids Lose Teachers - Again."

Mountain High
"The Appalachian Mountains may be kindergarten stuff by, say, Rocky Mountain standards, but when you live in Chicago and the only thing you've got to compare is Waste Management's CID landfill along the Bishop Ford in Calumet City, they're pretty fucking impressive," writes our very own Scott Buckner in Road Trip: Virginia.

Cubs vs. Twins
Will Ricketts get it? Because Hendry doesn't.

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Your choice.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:47 AM | Permalink

Cubs vs. Twins

An e-mail exchange.

From: Steve Rhodes
Sent: Monday, September 13, 2010 1:38 PM
To: Don Jacobson; Marty Gangler
Subject: Sandberg

On management style, he said: "The Minnesota Twins have a way they want to play that is taught to every player in their system and that is what I want for the Cubs if I am the manager. Players have to know what is expected of them and what will not be accepted before they get to Wrigley Field."

*

MARTY: This is provided you bring up players that are actually good enough to play in the majors. Typically the Cubs bring up no one that is very good and the "stars" of their team have recently all been acquired through free agency and brought up through other teams' minor league systems. Also, the Cubs can't typically wait for minor leaguers to go thru their growing pains on the field because they need to win now (which is weird because they never do yet never commit to even a 3 year plan) and will the fans let them off on the cheap letting 12 young guys play without a few huge marquee names. The Twins also do things this way because they have to - and it's great because they aren't stuck with the big ticket vets that they have to play, because they can never really pay them anyway. There is just less on the line and it lends itself to just solid no frills baseball. And you can be pretty solid that way.

To me, it's the Yankees that require even the top level free agents to conform to the Yankee way. Maybe that is the model to strive for. I don't think you can't get away with the Twins style in a lot of ways on the North Side and you just don't have too many homegrown guys on the roster. I will say that this year is the exception and that has turned into a complete disaster. Maybe this will help in the future, but it doesn't look good now - although I think things are looking up with Quade.

But it is a good thing to say. Pulling it off is a different story.

DON: Marty, do you think Cubs fans would walk away if the team said, "hey, from now on, we're going to start building through the draft and develop a team with home-grown players . . . " with the implication being it'll take awhile? Because I'm pretty sure this is the only way they're ever going to be consistently competitive. Would there be no patience for that?

MARTY: Have you seen the stands these days? Attendance is already down and the owner is cash strapped. I'm all for it myself, but I don't think it flies. I see people walking away from that.

DON: Then . . . ouch! Lean times ahead for the Cubs at the gate because I don't see them ever being able to go back to their "competing with the Yankees & Dodgers for the biggest free agents" strategy, which didn't really work too well, anyway.

I could be way, way off, but my guess is that they're going to be forced to go the "grow your own" route due to financial necessity . . . especially with all the crappy mega-contracts that Hendry gave out still hanging over them. And if so, Sandberg would be the perfect choice for manager since he's very familiar with the farmhands and who's going to fit into his way of playing ball. The biggest piece of unfinished business is booting Hendry because he's incapable of building a major league team through the draft. They'd also have to bring in new scouting and minor league execs who are committed to Sandberg's demand for consistent style throughout the organization . . . as well as drafting players who fit whatever style he has in mind.

MARTY: Ding ding ding. I'm with you on this brother. I guess it's great to SAY you want to be the Twins but without gutting the front office they probably have no chance to do it.

They'll sign Dunn to play 1st in the off season.

STEVE: A few points, if I may:

1. I like what I've heard from and about Sandberg but I'm not necessarily endorsing him. I wanted Girardi instead of Lou and I would still make Girardi my top choice. But Sandberg looks better and better to me as an alternative.

2. It's not just the Twins that have an organizational philosophy, it's just that they are the clearest example of a Twins Way. They used to talk about the Orioles Way and Dodger Way. The Braves and the Cardinals are also examples of organizational philosophy (built more to suit the style of their current managers, but still) and of course the A's have had their way, which in turn influenced Boston successfully and Toronto not so much (J.P. Ricciardi was allowed to keep his job way too long).

3. Brenly has expressed the same notion; it's just not something that Hendry has been interested in or allowed to do or is capable of building.

4. Hendry has to go. For so many obvious reasons.

5. People underestimate the impact of the Yankees farm system upon their success. It is the core of their success; free agents they can bid for add those extra key players, but just as many flame out. Boston also has an excellent farm system.

6. The Twins don't *have to* do it that way. They may be from a "small market," but Carl Pohlad was richer than God. Similarly, they have a pretty decent sized payroll right now and it will only get bigger. What they do isn't to be cheap except in the free agent arena, where they aren't much different than teams that aren't the Yankees or Red Sox. They do it that way because that's what Tom Kelly, the team's archangel or whatever, believed in it. And if you go back in time, the Twins have always had a strong farm system, thanks in larger measure to farm director Jim Rantz. That's why they used to be considered good pickins' for teams like the Yankees during the Calvin Griffith era. They could never develop great pitching, though. But then and even more so now, it's a way of evaluating talent and training that talent, which is what Billy Beane is also interested in. Starlin Castro may be in the hunt for a batting title, but I'm not sure the Twins would have brought him up or given him the at-bats without knowing how to tag out runners at second; or at least he would have learned how to do that in the minors even if he is only 20. Or they would have drafted someone who knew how instead. Having a good batting average is meaningless if you are costing your team more runs than you are producing.

7. I'm not sure about the patience of Cubs fans. I think the "win now" mentality has passed; it didn't really exist until the latter years of Tribune ownership, in part because the team was too embarrassing for such a rich company and also as the 100th anniversary approached. And yes, now we are approaching a lower budget era - thanks Tom Ricketts! That's probably why Ricketts has been so focused on marketing and advertising but I think he's making a big mistake thinking he can be the next coming of John McDonough and expect Cubs fans to swallow it. Still, I think the empty stands now are because the team is such a joke and so below expectations - and so unlikable as usual. A team full of young players on the rise would at least get some affection.

8. But their farm system sucks, so you can't just say "play the kids" when the kids suck. That's why rebuilding will take some time. They would need to stock the farm system with a different kind of player - and different scouts and managers. So what Sandberg is really talking about is a long-term approach - the kind of approach Hendry has always rejected, including when he told Brenly to get lost four years ago.

That's my view, anyway.

-

Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:23 AM | Permalink

Road Trip: Virginia

There's nothing like a long-haul trip to take your mind off the hustle, bustle, and overall disgust with the world at-large. Thus was why I found myself on a 650-mile drive last weekend that took me through Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia and western Virginia.

Here are a few of my more notable observations from the road:

* The Appalachian Mountains may be kindergarten stuff by, say, Rocky Mountain standards, but when you live in Chicago and the only thing you've got to compare is Waste Management's CID landfill along the Bishop Ford in Calumet City, they're pretty fucking impressive.

They also remind me that the first thing I always notice on trips South and East like this is the mind-numbing, monotonous table flatness of Indiana - and that once you leave, you immediately know you're somewhere else, by golly. Why Kentucky and Ohio even bothered to waste money on "Welcome to" signs is beyond me, because the exact second you cross the Hoosier state line, you're immediately greeted by glaring unflatness.

In fact, I'm amazed that this country managed to be settled west of Indiana at all, what with all those pioneer families tragically drowning in their Conestoga wagons when Pa fell asleep out of boredom at the reins and drove into a big river.

* Looks we took that crying Indian from the 1970s pollution awareness commercial seriously after all, since I'm happy to report that our nation's highways - well, Interstates 65, 64, 77, and 81 anyway - are remarkably trash-free. They're remarkably roadkill-free too. The only corpses on hand in varying states of decay were a dog of some sort, a pheasant, and someone's rather large, ugly sofa with a nasty case of asphalt-ballet road rash.

This surprisingly low corpse count, however, does not take into account my car grille's contribution to the extinction of approximately 2,953 butterflies that apparently hadn't had it ingrained in their genetic code yet that federal highways are piss-poor travel routes.

* This might be second nature to veteran bikers, but it never occurred to me that earplugs are a necessity if you plan on roaring about at 80 miles an hour without a helmet and don't want to go deaf, or half-insane from a nasty ear infection brought on by a combination of wind noise and big-Harley roar.

It apparently didn't occur either to some guy's old lady sitting behind him, since she spent 30 otherwise-pleasant Kentucky miles they paced for me with her fingers in her ears. By the constant look of utter annoyance on her face, I'm going to assume this is not the best way to enjoy a long, high-speed motorcycle cruise.

I suppose if my hair was whipping me in the face like hers was, too, I probably wouldn't be having much of a good time, either.

* As Indiana is flat as a board and Kentucky is filled with genteel rolling hills loaded with horses and trim wooden fences (in fact, one guy along I-64 likes fences so much, he put one around every single tree on his Ponderosa-sized spread), the real fun begins in West Virginia - a state so mountainous that some of their overpasses have the incline of a log flume. Seeing something like that at ground level is kind of unsettling, if not plain disorienting. It's as if the road department hired Salvador Dali to "build something nice yet utilitarian" for them.

* Speaking of bridges, West Virginia has a habit of naming every single bridge in its I-77 existence after someone. This wouldn't strike me as unusual, though, if their "bridges" didn't amount to tiny overpasses. Still, I suppose if you've got enough local dead heroes lying around, an overpass in their honor fits the bill.

* When the sun's just right, the shiny golden dome of the state capitol building in Charleston can potentially blind you as you drive past. Consider yourself warned.

* A long, 11-hour trip could have lasted an hour or two longer if not for the ability to disregard our interstate system's 65- and 70-mile-per-hour speed limits. This, of course, is made entirely possible by the refreshing and complete absence of state troopers.

While drivers in Kentucky treat the speed limit as a polite suggestion, it seems to be West Virginian code for "Dude! AUTOBAHN!!!" Now, I'm not sure how precipitous truckers consider a 5 percent grade on a 3,000-foot drop in elevation, but when you're flying about in a car at 90-plus miles-an-hour, there's something pretty unmistakable about the odor of a few dozen sets of brake pads burning all the way to the bottom.

* I'm also happy to say that our I-Pass transponders work at the four $2 toll booths along a big stretch of I-77 in West Virginia, too. I'm a bit mystified, though, why a federal interstate - which in theory anyway is supposed to be "free" - has toll booths on it. It's not like the road from one end to the other is maintained any better than the rest or we're getting anything extra out of the deal - like maybe free Klondike Bars or condoms at the last booth - so my guess is the state is running a Candid Camera bit to see how many motorists will actually fork over two bucks before someone gets wise.

Either that or the cash is used to maintain the natural mountain scenery on the pin-curvish roller coaster ride that passes for the first 10 miles or so. Fun for kids and drowsy/drunk drivers of all ages, for sure.

-

Comments welcome.

-

1. From Mike Jurkash:

Nice article, Scott. I am ready to fire up the Caddy and head out on the open road. Keep 'em coming.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:03 AM | Permalink

September 13, 2010

SportsMonday: The NFL Rule Book Is Ridiculous

How many people viewing the first replay of the Lion offense's third-to-last play Sunday knew quickly that it was an incompletion?

One in a thousand? One in ten-thousand?

But a majority of the officials knew Calvin Johnson hadn't lived up to the letter of the law and so did analyst Brian Billick. Amazing. Of course the rule requiring a receiver to complete "the process of the catch" and therefore control the ball even beyond having both feet - and his butt and his hand for goodness sakes - down in the end zone is screwed up and should be changed. But it won't happen during the season. And while you would think there might be a quiet meeting of the NFL Rules Committee in the spring or summer of 2011 in which the language defining a catch receives a needed tweaking, don't bet on it. Other obviously ill-conceived bits of NFL regulation remain on the books. Speaking of which . . .

Sunday's controversy called to mind the infamous "Tuck Rule" game played in Foxboro in January 2002. That was the divisional playoff in a picturesque snowstorm in which the Patriots trailed the Raiders 13-10 late in the fourth quarter with quarterback Tom Brady desperately trying to drive them down the field for at least a tying field goal.

With less than two minutes remaining, Brady went back to pass, pumped and then was sacked by Charles Woodson, causing a fumble that was recovered by the Raiders and seemingly sealed the Patriots' fate. But upon review, referee Walt Coleman, citing a rule that stated "any intentional forward movement of (the quarterback's) arm starts a forward pass, even if the player loses possession of the ball as he is attempting to tuck it back toward his body," concluded that Brady was still tucking the ball back in after a pass attempt and that the play should therefore be ruled an incomplete pass.

Of course the next line of the rule states: "Also, if the player has tucked the ball into his body and then loses possession, it is a fumble." So while Patriot fans were happy Coleman ruled Brady was still in the process of tucking the ball back in, aggrieved Raider fans could then and still do point out that given the fact that Brady had both hands on the ball when Woodson knocked it away, a better interpretation would have been that Brady had completed the tuck. What everyone could agree on is that the rule was very poorly written.

But as it turns out, the "Tuck Rule" Is still on the books.

And there is only one thing left to say: The NFL Rule Book is Ridiculous - and it has been for more than a decade.

And now for the rest of the lowlights (how can you have highlights when everyone just watched you lose the easiest game on your schedule?). Sure, it doesn't count as a loss but come on . . .

Mike Martz played it incredibly conservatively for much of Sunday's second half. Surely he has never kept that many guys in to block at any of his previous play-calling stops in the NFL. Going with a six-, seven-, or even eight-man lines at various times Sunday made it clear he absolutely does not trust his blockers. Not a good thing. The linemen also struggled mightily in the run game, especially when it counted and starting of course with the instantly infamous failure to score on four cracks from the one-yard line in the fourth quarter.

Right tackle Frank Omiyale set the tone right off the bat when he was blown backward on third-and-one at the one at the end of the first drive of the game. Matt Forte couldn't get out of the backfield and the Bears were forced to go for the field goal.

Of course, Jay Cutler was still sacked several times despite the max protect schemes. Here some of the blame has to shift to the receivers who certainly seemed to struggle to gain consistent separation from defensive backs. I am reminded of the report a friend of mine brought back from Green Bay after the Bears were thumped up there last year. He had great seats at that game and he was able to watch as Bear receivers failed time after time to gain any separation from Packer backs.

The primary drawback to watching games on TV in terms of trying to assess everything that is happening on given plays is that you just can't see most of the secondary most of the time. So we don't know if Johnny Knox and Devin Aromashadu weren't open or if Cutler just missed them as passing play after passing play failed in the second half. I'll tell you what though. I'm guessing they weren't open - and they were facing a banged up Lion secondary. Also not good.

Despite their deficiencies, it is now crystal clear that Aromashadu and Knox are the Bears' top wideouts. Could we finally cut the B.S. and officially shift Devin Hester to the slot? Please?

The luckiest guy on the field by far when Johnson's catch was ruled a non-catch was Lovie Smith. Not only did he benefit from the cursed Lions seizing defeat from the jaws of victory in an incredibly unique way, the play also moved the spotlight away from his despicably dim-witted decision to go for it on fourth down with the lead on the line earlier in the fourth quarter. All that was needed was a chip shot field goal to give the Bears a 16-14 advantage, but instead Lovie had his offense run another running play, another play just like the plays that had failed numerous times earlier in the game. Shockingly, the play failed and the ball went over to the Lions.

The Bears' defense played it exactly wrong on the final drive. The Rod Marinelli-led unit went ultra-conservative at the start, rushing only the basic four linemen and making it easy for the Lions to pick up big chunks of yards to move into scoring position. After the Lions moved inside the 30, the Bears finally decided to pump up the rush, sending a blitz. Unfortunately, that left stud receiver Calvin Johnson in single coverage with Zachary Bowman and led to the ludicrous non-catch with 25 seconds left.

Speaking of which, for 59 minutes Calvin Johnson didn't provide any fodder for the crowd clamoring for the Bears to go get a star wide receiver, whatever the cost. Other than "the catch that should've been," Johnson didn't get the job done. Whether he was failing to get out of bounds in the final minute when it would have been easy to do so or cutting off a critical route a yard short of a first down, Johnson consistently failed to display consistent basic receiver skills.

-

Jim Coffman brings you SportsMonday every week. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:42 AM | Permalink

Daley For The Defense

"Chicago Mayor Richard Daley's papers are in order," WBEZ reports. "He could pick up his legal career if he wants to once he leaves City Hall."

*

"He didn't do it, heh-heh. Everybody knows that."

*

"Objectacation, your Honor!"

*

"I would now like to scrootenize the witness."

*

"Whaddya want me to do, your Honor, pull down my pants?"

*

"No. No. No. Uh, that's . . . no. Uh-uh. Heh-heh. No."

*

"Objectification, your Honor!"

*

"Evidence? What if I put some evidence up your butt? Then you'd see evidence."

*

"I will not give you that headline, your Honor! No! Heh-heh. No. You want a headline? Go get one. But I will not give it to you."

*

"I request a recession."

*

"It's like, bang-bang, I mean, boom. So, no."

*

"Obgestion!"

*

"I'll file a motion. I'll file all the motions you want. Come and take your motions, any of 'em. Whatever ones you want. Yeah, I'll file 'em. Heh-heh."

*

"The defense rests its casing, your Honor."

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:47 AM | Permalink

The Cub Factor: New Statue Speculation

The big news this week was the Billy Williams statue being unveiled in front of Wrigley Field. Although that isn't really that big of news to anyone under, like, 60. The more interesting news is that there are going to be more statues coming. And, well, it makes one wonder, who is actually going to be next? The Cubs really haven't won very often so I mean, what statues are they going to make? With this in mind we here at The Cub Factor would like to speculate on what statues might be coming.

* The Brant Brown "Nooo" statue.

* The Milton Bradley throwing the ball into the stands with two outs statue.

* The Ron Santo standing in the on deck circle with a black cat statue.

* The Rod Beck swinging arm statue - okay this would be cool.

* The Alfonso Soriano hopping statue (with ball falling in and out of his glove).

* The Ryne Sandberg statue of him missing a ground ball because he didn't dive.

* The Kerry Wood getting out of the hot tub statue.

* The Make Prior towel drill statue.

* The Dusty Baker on the mound bringing in Dave Veres statue.

So yeah, I guess they have a bunch of them that they could do.

Week in Review: The Cubs went 3-3 for the week losing two of three to the Brewers and winning two of three against the Astros. Who'da thunk that without their big boppers like Lee and Ramirez this team could go .500 for a week? Yeah, well maybe they are better off without them.

Week in Preview: The surging Giants and fading Cardinals each come in for three as Mike Quade's audition continues against two more franchises who do it much better than the Cubs do.

The Second Basemen Report: Blake DeWitt started all six games this week at second base. He also had one hit after Monday for the week, which makes you think that he still might not be the answer come next season. But we like that at The Cub Factor and so must Jim Hendry, just like he drew it up.

In former second basemen news, Mike Fontenot is batting .294 for the Giants, which is better than what the Cubs are getting from Blake DeWitt. But who's counting. He is missed.

The Zam Bomb: Okay, so was it Lou Piniella who made Big Z go crazy? It's kinda looking like that, right? Big Z is remains apologetic while kicking butt.

zam_apologetic.jpg

-

Lost in Translation: Laffy laffy bozo-man is Japanese for what the rest of the league thinks of Jim Hendry.

Endorsement No-Brainer: Jim Hendry and his fake book for Oprah's fake book club.

Sweet and Sour Quade: 70% sweet, 30% sour. Mike Quade stands pat on the Sweet-O-Meter because of meeting expectations. And just like your smart, well-adjusted uncle, Mike knows that you aren't that great a speller so when you finished 8th in your third-grade spelling bee he patted you on the back and made you feel good about it. I mean, he's hoping you want to get better and won't tune out to learning by putting on too much pressure.

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Shares of mustache wax traded higher this week.

Over/Under: The chances Tom Ricketts will figure out Jim Hendry doesn't know what he is doing: +/- 20%

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 the Cubs look like a joke to other teams too.

Agony & Ivy: It's a way of life.

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: The Wrigleyville area is still considered a disaster area despite the empty seats. Perhaps FEMA can come in to help clean up in the aftermath of the mess made.

mtlou_red.gif

-

Contact The Cub Factor!

-

1. From Alex Parker via Twitter:

No Sneezing Sammy statue? Fan on a cell phone waving on WGN? Gatorade-smashing Zambrano? Michael Barrett vs. AJ?

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:08 AM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers

1. If there was ever a question as to whether the Bears had lost the faith of their fans, it was answered on Sunday in two reactions to their strange, undeserved victory that I witnessed while watching the game at the Beachwood Inn. From what I've read and heard, the reactions were not unique across Bears Country.

First, instead of the usual prism of seeing every play and every call through hometown eyes, the entire bar was in agreement immediately that Calvin Johnson made a legal catch to win the game for the Lions. Even as the play was being reviewed, there was no hope or cadging (even if the bar's resident astrophysicist noted to my previous scientific objections that the Bears were in a time of superposition while the review was occurring.)

Wow. Especially after having to listen to Hawk Harrelson and White Sox fans whine about every damn ball and strike call over the last month.

Second, after the Bears were declared the victors, nobody celebrated. Nobody even wanted to claim the win. Hey, Bears fans, what happened to the usual win-at-all-costs, no-apologies, we'll-take-it attitude I'm so used to? The post-Daley era has begun!

Even the Bears themselves must not feel too good about this win. It's gonna be a long season.

*

Our very own Jim Coffman, though, notes this in SportsMonday: The NFL Rule Book Is Ridiculous:

"[A] majority of the officials knew Calvin Johnson hadn't lived up to the letter of the law and so did analyst Brian Billick."

Or, as Bob Costas said, the refs got the rule right, but the rule is wrong. And a little jury nullification may have been in order to see justice done.

2. Daley rumored for next Legally Blonde sequel.

3. "But Ball says these gentrifiers weren't the ones sustaining his bakery. People from the low-income households were the ones who kept him in business."

4. The Mayoral Odds: Live Updates.

5. Indonesian Journal: Buying Flowers, Burning The Koran. By the Beachwood's new Southeast Asia correspondent.

6. "It was supposed to be a cheap and easy way to steal sales from Airbus' hulking A380 double-decker jet," the Tribune reports.

"Boeing Co. would update its decades-old 747 jumbo for the large freighter market, which Airbus was ignoring, with cutting-edge technology borrowed from the 787 Dreamliner: powerful, new fuel-efficient engines.

"But five years later, Boeing is struggling to resolve design and technical issues with the 747-8 program that are partially a byproduct of the Dreamliner's production woes. Like the 787, the jumbo jet is late, badly over budget and is almost certainly headed for another costly delay, analysts said."

7. "Chicago's next mayor will take over a city that is almost out of cash after Richard M. Daley spent most of the $3.5 billion gained from leasing parking meters, garages and a 7.8-mile elevated toll road," Bloomberg reports.

"The third-biggest U.S. city by population projects a $654.7 million deficit in a $3.39 billion budget for 2011, a July 30 report shows. Daley balanced this year's $3.12 billion budget partly with reserves. If he uses lease funds to fill the 2011 gap, Chicago will be left with $121 million, enough to run the municipality for two weeks, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

"'It almost will disappear by the time the mayor leaves office,' said R. Eden Martin, president of the Commercial Club of Chicago, a civic group. 'Cutting $600 million is going to be a catastrophe. It is going to be very, very painful.'"

8. "Gas prices jumped about 16 cents per gallon in the last week because an oil leak in suburban Chicago interrupted the supply to regional refineries," the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports.

*

"AAA Michigan says gasoline prices are up 12 cents per gallon over the past week to a statewide average of $2.90 after a leak forced the closure of a Chicago-area oil pipeline," the Detroit News reports.

*

"Ohio gasoline prices are up 9 cents from last week amid a pipeline leak that has disrupted gas supplies in the Midwest," AP reports.

9. Beachwood Exclusive: The next statues coming to Wrigley.

*

Note: The White Sox Report will appear on Tuesday.

10. Go generic or be a chump.

11. Amy Winehouse or the Marvelettes?

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Marvelous.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:27 AM | Permalink

Indonesian Journal: Buying Flowers, Burning The Koran

Like other Americans living in Indonesia, I was annoyingly aware of plans by a bigoted Florida blowhard to burn a bunch of Korans. I'd read about Pastor Terry Jones, the aggressively mustachioed eBay furniture salesman turned internationally renowned Islamophobe, and his promised score-settling with the Muslim holy book. Then late last week, the U.S. embassy in Jakarta sent an alert urging ex-pats to avoid local demonstrations against Jones' promised conflagration. "Americans are advised that there may be anti-American, possibly disruptive, demonstrations," the embassy warned, "to mark an announced Koran burning on September 11 in Florida." Hmm. You don't say.

As I understood his plan from afar, Jones intended to put the Muslim world on notice: The Koran and its teachings were responsible for 9/11. I didn't exactly follow the details - had the Koran actually financed and organized the 9/11 attacks, or was that still al-Qaeda? - but Jones' intent was clear enough. By torching a couple hundred paperback copies of the Koran - or even just talking about burning the books - he meant to stick his thumb in the eyes of Muslims everywhere. He meant to insult them, and maybe to provoke them. He meant to denigrate Muslims and their faith, to incinerate it in a pyre of angry evangelical righteousness. Up. Yours. Muslims. That was the message, and it was received loud and clear. From Baghdad to Kabul, Peshawar to Jakarta, they understood perfectly well.

This is ugly and it's fake and it's several kinds of morally and ethically wrong. But I'll spare you the sermon.

What I want to say, as someone who came here to teach high school English in the world's largest Muslim democracy, is that Jones' provocations couldn't have come at a more incongruous time in Indonesia. All across the giant archipelago this weekend, Muslims and non-Muslims alike are celebrating Lebaran, or Idil Fitri, the end of the Ramadan fasting month. It's like Thanksgiving and Christmas wrapped in one, a hugely important holiday - elsewhere known as Eid - that unites Muslims as believers and Indonesians as countrymen, and reunites families all over these islands with something like the entire nation headed back home for a long weekend.

The mosques are overflowing, the stores are shuttered, and the homes are full of friends, families, and neighbors. Kids and food, food and kids, presents and holiday finery. It's a big deal, a touchstone celebration, and it's been beautiful to witness. What would Terry Jones know about that? What would he care to know about that? I'm guessing nothing.

"Why would he bring this up now?" an Indonesian friend asked about the Koran-burning threats. "It's Lebaran. It's a time for family."

The festivities start the day before. At sundown Thursday, the sounds of calls to prayer go out from minaret loudspeakers across the north side of Bandung, a West Java city of about 7 million. The songs overlap and arrive from near and far, more and less amplified, a Doppler-ed wash of sound-on-sound. High-pitched singing and lower-pitched, shrill and sonorous, pleasing and less-so. Evening calls to prayer are an everyday thing here but tonight is different. The songs don't stop, or they don't seem to. All night and into the early morning, men and boys take turns at the microphones singing. They work in shifts; the sound is constant, trebly. I don't understand them but at points, especially late in the night; they seem to be winging it. They fill the air with song, with amplitude. It goes on and on.

And the fireworks. All seemingly ad hoc. Neighborhood displays, backyard pyrotechnics. The air is full of color and smoke, sizzles and bangs and booms. Crackling, and fizzles. Pops and whizzes. It's all night, past 4 a.m. It's the Fourth of July on the North Side of Chicago for hours and hours, a house dog's quivering nightmare and everyone else's jubilant display. Pffffth . . . Bam! And again. And again. Arcs of red, constellations of gold and silver. A purple burst. A green streak against the black sky. Ahhh! Nobody's sleeping.

In a cab on the way home from dinner, the streets are crowded and the sidewalks, as always, are impassable for the vendor carts. But tonight they aren't hawking chicken satay and friend rice. Instead, they're selling flowers. A hundred different sellers, maybe, along a mile-long stretch of road. Buckets jammed with orchids, lilies, flowers I've never seen. And everyone on foot with a bunch in their hands. Everyone buying flowers! People double-parked and out of their cars, people off their motorcycles and stocking up. A riot of color and softness. Everyone all smiles. Flowers literally littering the streets. It's fantastic.

The next morning, the morning of Lebaran, the mosques are all mobbed. People worship on the ground outside, on playing fields, on sidewalks, roads, wherever the can find space. Seas of white. Kneeling in unison. An enormous communal huddle. And when they're done, they break their fast. A day of eating and of visiting, Lebaran is the Indonesian equivalent of the Passover seder or the Thanksgiving dinner - only imagine cooking for the entire neighborhood. Visitors are the norm, for an hour or the day, the front door revolving, people in and out in a procession of humble greeting: Mohon maaf lahir bathin. Roughly translated it means, I beg forgiveness for my mistakes, and it's offered freely. A day of atonement and apology, of anti-egotism. Kind of nice.

During an afternoon visit to a home shared by our Indonesian language teachers, a group of Americans offered their own mohon maafs as our hosts, and later their neighbors, offered theirs in return. Terry Jones didn't come up, and we wouldn't have spoken for him in any event. He can beg his own forgiveness, but I don't think I'll hold my breath. No, Jones and his bilious intolerance were a long, long way off. In my teachers' living room, on a hill in West Java, surrounded by friends and comfortably stuffed with rice and fish and fruit, we were thinking mostly how happy we were to enjoy the generosity of others.

-

Brett McNeil is a former Chicago Tribune reporter, Chicago Journal editor, and Fulbright English teacher living in Indonesia. He blogs at The Year of Living Volcanically and is also the Beachwood's new Southeast Asia correspondent.

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:32 AM | Permalink

September 11, 2010

The 2010 Weekend Desk NFL Kickoff Report

It's September and the smell of pigskin is in the air; time for the Weekend Desk's annual look at the key season-opening football match-ups.

Miami at Buffalo
Buffalo has been on a slow path to recovery since the low ebb hit years ago. And given recent developments, it might not be the best of times for the Fighting Fish. Our pick: Buffalo to cover

Denver at Jacksonville
We've been watching the line on the Second Coming for millennia now and we can tell you one thing: always bet the over.

Cincinnati at New England
Sure, the T.O. and Ochocinco Show promises plenty of inanity, but let's face it. The Patriots haven't exactly covered themselves with glory recently either. Our pick: push

San Diego at Kansas City
There's been some chatter recently about reversing Rivers' flow, but we've heard this sort of big talk before and it never came to anything. Our pick: Chargers in a romp

Dallas at Washington
Every time the Cowboys play the Redskins, society loses. Of course, it's been years since outrage even managed to cover.

Detroit at Chicago
It boils down to a battle between Unstoppable Force versus Immovable Object. Either way, it's a win for inertia.

-

The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Activate.

Posted by Natasha Julius at 10:32 AM | Permalink

September 10, 2010

The Week in WTF

1. The World, WTF?

Can anything be more troubling and less satisfying than the state of the entire, damn universe this week? WTF, world. Get a grip.

First, the Rev. Terry Jones, who, believe it or not, is not the most disturbed evangelical wingnut in the wingnut lunchbox, has seized the pulpit with his torch-the-Koran tease. It's Lucy pulling the football away from Charlie Brown. Except in this script, someone caps Pig Pen in retaliation.

But it's worse. Donald Trump wants to buy the would-be New York mosque property to . . . save our hurt feelings over Muslims praying? Keep Jones from burning books? Motivate Obama to call and volunteer for The Apprentice? As for WTF, we'd change sides in any geo-political-religiositized debate if only, once and for all, we could determine if that thing on Trump's head is hair or a thatched roof from Tanzania.

Here's what it comes down to, sports fans.

The radicals (Jones, al-Qaeda, the Tea Party, etc) have seized control of our TVs. It's the scariest episode of The Outer Limits ever. Now we are reduced to sending more or less rational leaders to convince nutjobs they shouldn't be nutjobs, at least for today. America the Great has been reduced to Nicaragua with better cable.

In moments of such despair, WTF reverts to our least appealing preference. Let our professionally trained and equipped military try to kill all of them before they try to kill all of us. Meanwhile, the nominal adults will sit on the sidelines and watch how the war goes.

2. Rahm, hell no, WTF?

Not that anybody asked us or would pay attention if we answered, but let WTF be the first to say it: Anybody but Rahm Emanuel to be Chicago's next mayor. ANY-BODY. (Is Roland Burris busy this winter?)

There are those who cede Emanuel some de facto seat on the throne. But why the affection for Emanuel? Do you get it? We don't.

He'll raise money, he'll pull strings but eventually he'll need to present himself to the public and seem like anything other than what he is. Just another political rug salesman out for himself. Remember the concept of "vision" as an inspiring attribute?

Plus, any Chicago journalist who cannot provoke Emanuel into screaming "Fuck you!!" on the air is not really trying. When that happens, it will prove an interesting test case in FCC timidity vs. paid political advertising free speech.

There are plenty of progressives who believe that Emanuel's influence has dulled any instinct President Obama had to seek truly transformational legislation. In fact, it was never Rahm the Bulldog who spun the administration into any furies, except when it came to cursing. It was Rahm The Pussycat who shaped all principles into bite-sized morsels of compromise. As it now stands, the people who once adored the promise of Obama demand to know why they've been conned.

Plus, is our office staff here at WTF the only ones who think Emanuel is creepy?

3. Daley Derby winner and losers, WTF?

Loser: Police boss Jody Weis wasn't going to stay forever. Too many open flames in Richie's kitchen, plus he looks preposterous in a dress uniform. His uni seemed about two sizes too small. He was always holding his breath so the buttons wouldn't explode off his jacket and wound a nearby dignitary. So he's gone very close after his March contract termination date arrives. He'll leave with a few ugly scuff marks on his shins. Probably deserved a lot better.

But a word to the city's officers who are about as manageable as a small dinghy in a typhoon. They somehow think the superintendent works for someone other than the mayor. The last thing any new mayor will allow is a top cop who can build his own political base. The super can make his officers happy, or he can make the mayor happy. But he may not be able to do both. Which do you think he'll choose?

Winner: Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, who admits he'd like to be mayor and probably won't have to resign his job to run, as lusting city aldermen will. Either Dart is amazingly prescient for avoiding the lure of Senate-House recruiters, or he possesses true patience. Or maybe he's just lucky, which is a skill in its own right. He's the only candidate without serious political contusions.

Winner: Richard M. Daley's decision not only creates a huge sucking vacuum at City Hall, it also promises to clear out the aldermanic sludge pit. That means Chicago's citizens could win all around.

4. Bridget Polaski, WTF?

Suburban police can be so amusing. Some days they don't have anything better to do than roust ex-strippers. It's a living.

The Romeoville gendarmes confiscated Bridget Polaski's cell phone (she's the requisite ex-Romeoville stripper) which contained nude photos she taken for her boyfriend. She wants the photos back. The cops are keeping them because, as Deputy Police Chief Mark Turvey said without laughing out loud, the photos were confiscated as part of an "investigation" last month. "That" investigation has blossomed into "this" investigation that stems mostly from her being pissed that they took her cell phone.

Judge for yourself what the cops are assessing about Bridget. Turvey promised the police didn't look at her pictures. Promised as if his left hand was gripping a WTF Holy Book and his right hand was raised skyward to salute gawd.

In answer to a question posed by one of the officers to Bridget, they certainly look real to us.

By the way, the Sun-Times sent photographer Michael Schmidt to shoot her, just to help determine if they were real. He got paid the standard Guild scale for the assignment.

Also by the way, we wonder if Turvey's nickname is Topsy.

5. Lou Canellis, WTF?

Nothing much to say about Lou Canellis getting the top sports gig at WFLD-Ch. 32. Idea wise, he's sort of odorless-colorless-tasteless like everyone else on local TV. But our breath is taken away by his sideline wardrobe at Bears games. Need a few more views to confirm the sartorial assessment, but it seems Lou has cornered the market on St. Valentine's Day Massacre suits. Nothing says "Hand me that Tommy gun, Luigi" like a pinstripe, two-button suit and a silk single pastel tie with a knot large enough to choke a large palomino draft horse.

-

David Rutter is the former publisher/editor of the Lake County News-Sun, a Sun-Times Media property. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:11 AM | Permalink

The College Football Report: What Has Your New Coach Done For Me Lately?

Last week, the buzz surrounded the Top 10 matchup between Boise State and Virginia State. The game lived up to the hype but the larger implications were almost more interesting than the game itself: the loser was certain to be eliminated from the BCS title, while the winner would springboard into the national championship picture. Week Two features three games between Top 25 teams with national title consequences and a fourth that may determine the SEC East.

We aren't often treated to this many high-stakes games in the second week of the season. Further, the Football Gods saw fit to spread the kickoff times from 11AM to 6PM Central. Let's pray for miserable weather on Saturday to help us feel better for spending the day in front of the television.

Great First Game, Coach . . . Now, What About Michigan on Saturday?
The CFR applauds the first-year coaches who triumphed last weekend. We imagine most of these newcomers would second Jimbo Fisher's comments in his first post-game interview as head coach. After his Seminoles stomped Stamford, Fisher related the sense of relief that washed over him after taking the field. We can only imagine the distractions, uncertainties and stress that must have melted away for each of these signal callers at the 14:59 mark of the first quarter last weekend.

Jeff Quinn, Buffalo: The former Cincinnati offensive coordinator under Brian Kelly accepted the top spot at Buffalo, breaking up the duo that had been together for 22 years. We'll touch on Kelly's situation below, but Quinn has some tough work to himself to guide the Bulls to a winning season in the MAC. Yet he could have made a worse choice for his first solo flight - the former Buffalo coach, Turner Gill, landed at Kansas this season. Buffalo has proven a decent stepping stone to positions at bigger programs, provided the coach can scrape together some wins.

Dan Enos, Central Michigan: A Michigan native and former Michigan State QB ('87-'90), Enos earned his chops as a position coach and coordinator at Cincinnati and MSU. Under his tutelage during Enos' years in East Lansing ('06-'09), the Spartans produced a number of good backs (notably, Javon Ringer - who led the country in carries and TDs in '08) and QBs (such as Drew Stanton, a 2nd round draft pick in '07). CMU has fielded some scrappy teams in the past, and figure to compete in the MAC under Enos. In late-breaking news, we should have taken the Chippewas (+7) at Temple on Thursday night - the game was decided in OT for a tough CMU loss, 10-13.

Ruffin McNeil, East Carolina: Trading touchdowns - including a Hail Mary for the W - isn't the best way to ease your new coach into the season. A win is a win, but if the Pirates keep this up McNeil will be a much older man by January.

Joker Philips, Kentucky: Inheriting a winning program is never easy. Taking over for the coach who took the program to four consecutive bowls and three straight bowl wins (a first in both cases) is downright thankless. Toss in that Philips is the first black head coach in UK's history, and we would expect some butterflies before Saturday's game against rival Louisville. While Big Blue fans don't despise the Cardinals with the same passion as Georgia or Tennessee (odd, given the lopsided nature of those "rivalries"), leaving Papa John's Stadium with an L would not have gone over well. Nice job, coach.

Sonny Dykes, Louisiana Tech: Dykes, guru of the spread offense, takes over at La Tech after the departure of Derek Dooley. Expect more scoring from the Aggies this year as Dykes brings his system with him to Ruston, LA. While he may have some disciplinary issues to sort through, Dykes flourished in places like Arizona, Texas Tech and Kentucky by spreading the field and getting the ball to playmakers. The Bulldogs play some tough games on the road this year (at Texas A&M, Boise and Hawaii) but could take a few teams by surprise at home. Plus, he has good bloodlines - he is the son of Texas Tech coaching legend Spike Dykes.

Brian Kelly, Notre Dame: Contrast Joker's position at UK with that of Brian Kelly, the latest arrival being hailed as the savior of Notre Dame football. Few Irish coaches stirred up more bile than Charlie Weis and his 16-21 record at Notre Dame in his last three seasons. Much like his failed stomach staples, Weis just didn't stick in South Bend. Kelly took over in December and promptly tossed the pro-style offense, instituted tougher practices and installed his uptempo system. The new offense was on display in a solid win over Purdue last week. Unproven QB Dayne Crist didn't set the world on fire, but ND carried a 10 lead into halftime and never looked back. Kelly needs at least another season (if not two) to stock his team with the right mix of talent for his spread offense, but getting a win in Week One never hurts.

Skip Holtz, South Florida: We hope Holtz can continue the success of his predecessor, because QB BJ Daniels deserves to play on January 1 someday. Daniels drew criticism for his erratic play last year, but never for lack of effort. A 59-14 blowout over Stony Brook doesn't correct all the sins of the past, but the Bulls look to be on track for another eight win season.

Lane Kiffin, Southern California: Sigh. Fine, you too. Well done, now go out there and try to cover the spread this time, mmkay?

Derek Dooley, Tennessee: Dooley is already a household name in the SEC thanks to Vince Dooley, former head coach ('64-'88) and athletic director ('79-'04) at the University of Georgia. As a legacy, Derek Dooley seems like a natural fit in the coaching world. And yet many in Knoxville look at Dooley's past experience (only three years as head man at Louisiana Tech, where he compiled a 17-20 record) and wonder if he could use more seasoning before taking the reigns at a major program. We think Dooley was a fine choice for a program reeling after the tumultuous Lane Kiffin experiment - and facing possible NCAA sanctions - but Volunteer fans won't be happy with seven or eight wins. The Vols welcome the high-flying Oregon Ducks this Saturday in what might be a shock to the system for Dooley. Welcome to the big time, coach. As the saying goes, be careful what you wish for . . .

Tommy Tuberville, Texas Tech: Yes, you read that correctly. Tommy Tuberville is back on the sidelines, with a headset and everything! After a year of laying low, Tuberville takes over at Texas Tech for Mike Leach at a program where the stink of last season's Turd in the Punchbowl Award still lingers. We last saw Tommy at his resignation press conference following a 5-7 record at Auburn in the 2008 season. Fundamental issues like scoring seem to have flummoxed past Tuberville teams - witness the offensive implosion and early dismissal of O-coordinator Tony Franklin in '08 - and we have a question mark next to the offensive coordinator at Tech as well. Tuberville will allow Neal Brown to hold the Red Raider playbook this season, provided Brown drinks his milk, eats his vegetables and clears his plate. Brown arrives in Lubbock from Troy University where he was the youngest OC in Div I-A. We like to see rising stars, but wonder how proven players like RB Baron Batch or WRs Detron Lewis and Tramain Swindall will react to an assistant barely out of college. Responding to a question about buy-in during a July interview, Brown expressed confidence but admitted that the new staff had "not got all of them [the older players] yet, but we are on the right track." Tommy, Neal, you'll have to pardon our skepticism. And please understand if we never pick you to cover the spread this year.

Mike London, Virginia: Now this is more like it. The Cavaliers didn't leave the continent in Week One nor did UVA need a last-second play to pull out the win. The Richmond Spiders took their licks, lost by 21 and just like that Virginia enters Week Two at 1-0.

The College Football Report's Guide to Patriot Day

This Patriot's Day (September 11), we suggest you celebrate in true American fashion: get together with some friends, put some action down on at least three games, hunker down in the booth of some local establishment and contribute to the US economy. As a red-blooded American citizen, you need to do your part. So go ahead, order that extra plate of potato skins. Just remember: don't burn anything that isn't on the grill. That is our one hard-and-fast rule for Saturday. Besides, lighting things on fire is usually a good way to get tossed from the bar, and nobody wants that.

Due to time constraints, and the fact that we do have a day job besides football, we have limited the CFR picks to a few Top 25 matchups. Without further ado:

Idaho @ #6 Nebraska (-28), 11:30AM for $110 Beachwood Bucks
Comment: We believe in Bo Pelini.

#17 Florida State @ #10 Oklahoma (Over 58), 2:30PM for $110 BB
Comment: Neither team has a problem with offense, and to take the underdog Seminoles to cover we would like to get more than seven points on the road. Thus, the over!

#12 Miami (FL) (+9) @ #2 Ohio State, 2:40PM for $120 BB (yes, we will buy the hook)
Comment: We heart Jacory Harris, although we wouldn't want to bet the Hurricanes to win. Nine points just seems like a lot for a game between two good, determined teams.

#18 Penn State @ #1 Alabama (-12), 6:00PM for $110 BB
Comment: Did we mention that we are SEC fans? We like Bama to walk over the Nittany Lions.

Finally, we pulled the Beachwood Sports Seal away from Skype long enough to get his Week Two picks. Rumors of a long-distance romantic situation appear to be true. He claims to have a system for these selections, but we can't see it:

Memphis @ East Carolina -13, 11:00AM
San Jose State @ Wisconsin -38, 11:00AM
Eastern Michigan @ Miami (OH) -14, 1:00PM
Toledo @ Ohio -9.5, 6:00PM
Colorado State @ Nevada -23.5, 9:30PM

-

Mike "Dr. Dude" Luce brings you The College Football Report in this space twice a week, with the generous assistance of the Beachwood Sports Seal. They both welcome your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:49 AM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

UPDATE 12:13 PM: From my Facebook feed:

John Kuczaj wishes John McDonough would run for Mayor of Chicago, based on his record of turning around horribly-run organizations.

-

UPDATE 11:40 AM: The Mayoral Odds: Live Updates!

-

UPDATE 11:29 AM: The Week in WTF is in: Starring Lou Canellis's suits, Bridget Polaski's cell phone, Rahm Emanuel's guile, and Jody Weis's bulging but impotent muscles.

-

UPDATE 11:07 AM: The College Football Report is in: What Has Your New Coach Done For Me Lately? Plus, some week two tips that might be construed as condoning and even encouraging gambling. For entertainment purposes only, of course.


-

I'm not sure if there will be a column today, worlds are colliding. Things are touch-and-go. Needless to say, forces are aligning against you. Prepare for battle. The time is nigh.

The [Thursday] Papers
And so it begins. Last night at 6:50 p.m. I received a call on my cell phone from 202-466-1652. It was an automated survey asking my preferences between the following potential mayoral candidates (and in this order):

* Ed Burke
* Bill Daley
* Tom Dart
* Rahm Emanuel
* Bob Fioretti
* Luis Gutierrez
* Jim Houlihan
* Jesse Jackson Jr
* James Meeks
* Terry Peterson

I was instructed to "Press 1 for Ed Burke, Press 2 for Bill Daley" and so on. I pressed 9 for Meeks just so I could go on and see what the rest of the call had in store. (In no way do I support Meeks; somehow I figured he was the most harmless pick in this particular situation.)

I was then asked "for statistical purposes only" about my gender and race.

So there you have it.

UPDATE 10:06 A.M.: This must have been the poll.

*

The Mayoral Odds: We've got 'em. WATCH FOR UPDATES!

Bleepin' Golden Panel
I'll be on this panel about the Blago trial this evening.

Creampuffs and Coach Smirk
In The College Football Report.

Trib Squib
Somehow, on the day after Richard M. Daley announced his 21-year reign as mayor was coming to an end, the Tribune made a poll about whether Illinoisans want Rod Blagojevich retried its big front page story.

Who cares?

You may as well ask how many people think Blagojevich is a Muslim for the same news value.

Normality
It's so funny to read comments - and to hear and see reporters' questions - about how chaos might come to a suddenly fragmented Chicago now that Daley's retirement has unleashed the pent-up ambitions of courage-free pols previously afraid to speak up who might now seek the city's highest office.

Chaos? In other cities it's called life-as-usual. You know, an election is coming up, a bunch of people think about running, a few do and someone is chosen. It might even happen again four years later!

The Jackson Three
Sandi, Jesse Jr. and Johnathan (?!) are all looking at making a run, but Jesse Sr. could still kick all their asses.

He was a breath of fresh air last night on Chicago Tonight making the familiar yet continually submerged point that the further you get from the Loop, the less Chicago looks like the gleaming city in the imaginations of reporters, pundits and the mayor's PR squad.

By contrast, Sandi Jackson continues to be stunningly unimpressive.

SANDI JACKSON: We've not had a discussion about it. My husband and I have not had a chance to discuss it.

PHIL PONCE: You've not?

SANDI JACKSON: Absolutely not.

So you're telling us, Sandi, that the moment you heard Daley was stepping down neither you nor your husband hit the speed-dial to each other to discuss the news and broach the topic of running, even though you're not yet ruling it out?

I mean, it is possible - if they decided long ago that they were both too toxic given Junior's problems arising from the Blago trial. But still . . . it's unfathomable.

*

"I'm considering it," Sandi said on Wednesday. "I love campaigns."

Maybe we could rent a barn!


*

For more Sandi silliness . . .

Presidential Poop
Shouldn't Obama shut the hell up?

Then again, Obama endorsed the last mayor who was elected with the help of an illegal patronage army . . .

Evil Unabated
Daley's work not yet done.

-

More Pathetic Than Funny

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Scrootening daily.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:59 AM | Permalink

September 9, 2010

The [Thursday] Papers

And so it begins. Last night at 6:50 p.m. I received a call on my cell phone from 202-466-1652. It was an automated survey asking my preferences between the following potential mayoral candidates (and in this order):

* Ed Burke
* Bill Daley
* Tom Dart
* Rahm Emanuel
* Bob Fioretti
* Luis Gutierrez
* Jim Houlihan
* Jesse Jackson Jr
* James Meeks
* Terry Peterson

I was instructed to "Press 1 for Ed Burke, Press 2 for Bill Daley" and so on. I pressed 9 for Meeks just so I could go on and see what the rest of the call had in store. (In no way do I support Meeks; somehow I figured he was the most harmless pick in this particular situation.)

I was then asked "for statistical purposes only" about my gender and race.

So there you have it.

UPDATE 10:06 A.M.: This must have been the poll.

*

The Mayoral Odds: We've got 'em.

Bleepin' Golden Panel
I'll be on this panel about the Blago trial this evening.

Creampuffs and Coach Smirk
In The College Football Report.

Trib Squib
Somehow, on the day after Richard M. Daley announced his 21-year reign as mayor was coming to an end, the Tribune made a poll about whether Illinoisans want Rod Blagojevich retried its big front page story.

Who cares?

You may as well ask how many people think Blagojevich is a Muslim for the same news value.

Normality
It's so funny to read comments - and to hear and see reporters' questions - about how chaos might come to a suddenly fragmented Chicago now that Daley's retirement has unleashed the pent-up ambitions of courage-free pols previously afraid to speak up who might now seek the city's highest office.

Chaos? In other cities it's called life-as-usual. You know, an election is coming up, a bunch of people think about running, a few do and someone is chosen. It might even happen again four years later!

The Jackson Three
Sandi, Jesse Jr. and Johnathan (?!) are all looking at making a run, but Jesse Sr. could still kick all their asses.

He was a breath of fresh air last night on Chicago Tonight making the familiar yet continually submerged point that the further you get from the Loop, the less Chicago looks like the gleaming city in the imaginations of reporters, pundits and the mayor's PR squad.

By contrast, Sandi Jackson continues to be stunningly unimpressive.

SANDI JACKSON: We've not had a discussion about it. My husband and I have not had a chance to discuss it.

PHIL PONCE: You've not?

SANDI JACKSON: Absolutely not.

So you're telling us, Sandi, that the moment you heard Daley was stepping down neither you nor your husband hit the speed-dial to each other to discuss the news and broach the topic of running, even though you're not yet ruling it out?

I mean, it is possible - if they decided long ago that they were both too toxic given Junior's problems arising from the Blago trial. But still . . . it's unfathomable.

*

"I'm considering it," Sandi said on Wednesday. "I love campaigns."

Maybe we could rent a barn!


*

For more Sandi silliness . . .

Presidential Poop
Shouldn't Obama shut the hell up?

Then again, Obama endorsed the last mayor who was elected with the help of an illegal patronage army . . .

Evil Unabated
Daley's work not yet done.

-

More Pathetic Than Funny

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Scrootening daily.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:56 AM | Permalink

The College Football Report: Creampuffery and Coach Smirk

A Note To The CFR Faithful
Some of our farthest-flung readers (hello, Anchorage!) may suffer from bouts of seasonal depression each winter. We can sympathize. The College Football Report has a patent pending on a set of 3-D goggles permanently tuned to ESPN Classic for those long summer months.

Thus, please understand if we need to check the schedule before making any commitments each autumn. This is college football season.

Week One: We Labor On Your Behalf
We hope everyone enjoyed a safe and happy holiday weekend. While most of you labored around the house, in the yard or over a hot grill, we stayed on top of the first weekend on the gridiron. After enduring many long months of lesser sports like hockey (despite our excitement for the Blackhawks) and baseball (a game we appreciate more for its beer-garden-like setting than on-field "action"), last Thursday night found us riveted to the TV for the kickoff of the 2010 college football season.

What We Got Wrong In Our Preseason Special, or, Why We Fired Doris the Fact-Checker

* North Carolina suspended 13 - not 12, as we stated - players for the opener at Louisiana State on Saturday. The total number of games to be missed due to the two-part ongoing investigation (by the NCAA for improper benefits from agents and the school for academic misconduct) has yet to be determined, but it is considered the largest number of suspensions on one team in athletic department history.

* A.J. Green has yet to catch a pass from Georgia QB Aaron Murray. The tentacles of the Improper Benefits monster wrapped around Green in the offseason, prompting Mark Richt to hold out the wide receiver for the Bulldogs' opening game (read: blowout) against Louisiana-Lafayette. Depending on the length of his suspension, we may have to reconsider our position regarding Georgia's chances in the SEC East.

* Rice did not play at Texas - the game took place at Reliant Stadium, home of the Houston Texans.

* The 2010 BCS Championship game will be played in Glendale, AZ not Pasadena, CA.

* Boise State pulled off an impressive comeback victory (in hostile territory, no less) over Virginia Tech, shooting a hole in our projections about the contenders from non-BCS conferences. But we have a long way to go.

What We Got Right, Although In Our Defense Most of Our Projections Were Long-Term So This List Might Grow Over Time

* Louisville lost to Kentucky again, although neither team looked impressive.

* We have a long way to go yet, but the Big East didn't get off to a fast start: the conference posted a 4-4 record (0-1 vs. Top 25) in the first week.

* In related news, we should have taken the "under" on our prediction about Pitt dropping out of the Top 25 by September 26. The Panthers and UNC Tarheels both fell out of the polls after Week One.

This season, we will do our best to recap the Top 25 action and notable other games. We would prefer to run down the ranked teams in order . . . but for some perverse reason, nearly every CFB scoreboard website lists the games in chronological order. What the hell? Why don't we remember this issue from last year? Like it or not, we need to glance at a list of results and the web offers the most practical option. We don't have the patience to fight it unless one of our loyal readers can suggest an alternative on the Internets.

Recapping Week One

Thursday, September 2

Marshall 7 @ #2 Ohio State 45 (-28)
What was supposed to happen:
The Buckeyes, with Heisman candidate Terrelle Pryor, expected a tune-up leading up to this weekend's clash against the Miami Hurricanes.
What actually happened:
The Thundering Herd rolled over and threw in an oil change, tire rotation, and topped off the fluids for good measure. The Buckeyes stood apart from several other Top 10 teams (see below) by easily covering an enormous number.

Florida A&M 0 @ #13 Miami (FL) 45 (n/a)
What was supposed to happen:
The first reader to identify (without looking) Florida A&M's mascot and hometown will be treated to a free adult beverage at Wicker Park's very own Beachwood Inn this Friday night. No cheating!

#14 Southern Cal 49 (-21) @ Hawaii 36
What was supposed to happen:
The Kiffin family, starring HC Lane Kiffin and his D-coordinator dad Monte, took their act on the road again (Tennessee fans will get the joke) . . . but to play a football game this time rather than pick up a paycheck.
What actually happened:
The CFR called for Coach Smirk to motivate his Trojans to a blowout, the USC defense looked to be suffering from the aftereffects of one too many hula dances. Then again, Southern Cal saw four linebackers from the '09 squad drafted by the NFL. Toss in the departure of S Taylor Mays (#49 overall in '09 draft) and we shouldn't be too surprised about the struggles on defense.

#15 Pittsburgh 24 @ Utah 27 (-3)
What was supposed to happen:
Given the point spread in this one, we weren't alone in doubting the Panthers.
What actually happened:
Look, the Utes are good. Coming off a 10-win season including a W over Cal in the Poinsettia Bowl, Coach Wittingham has a Top 25 team (#20 this week) on his hands. As for Pitt . . . well, 5'8" sparkplug RB Dion Lewis can't do everything.

Saturday, September 4

San Jose State 3 @ #1 Alabama 48 (-39.5)
What was supposed to happen:
We think SJSU should file a petition with the NCAA to rename the school South San Jose State University. San Jose, we ask you - why not maximize your Directional Creampuff potential? We think you've earned it.
What actually happened:
The Spartans slipped in a field goal in the first quarter and Bama reacted like a berserk pachyderm, reeling off straight 34 straight points. Hannibal, eat your heart out. Wait, no, not that Hannibal - the other one . . . you know, the one with all the elephants.

Miami (OH) 12 @ #4 Florida 34 (-38)
What was supposed to happen:
The nation (well, at least Gainesville residents) eagerly awaited the debut of Florida's new starting QB John Brantley.
What actually happened:
Sales of antacids spiked in Florida over the weekend as the RedHawks (or is it RedBirds? Damn it, somebody rehire Doris) hung around through the third quarter. Starting the 4th leading by only 12 points against a MAC team was not part of the post-Tim Tebow plan.

#5 Texas 34 (-31) @ Rice 17 at Houston, TX
What was supposed to happen:
The Vegas oddsmakers forgot that QB Colt McCoy now plays (read: stands on the sidelines) on Sundays and that HC Mack Brown installed a new offensive scheme during the offseason.
What actually happened:
We forgot as well. Luckily, we were in good company. But with seven starters back for the UT defense, this game should not have been even close. Let's chalk this Longhorns performance up to offseason rust until we have more data.

#24 Oregon State 21 @ #6 TCU 30 (-13.5) at Arlington, TX
What was supposed to happen:
After yielding just 12.8 points per game and 80.2 yards rushing in 2009, most expected the Beavers to struggle in this one.
What actually happened:
While this wasn't the sharpest game played on Saturday (given the two interceptions by TCU QB Dalton and the safety given up by OSU late in the fourth) both teams showed potential. For Oregon State, a Pac-10 title is still possible while TCU remains in the hunt for at least a BCS at-large berth.

Utah State 24 @ #7 Oklahoma 31 (-34.5)
What was supposed to happen:
You might say the experts gave the edge to the Sooners.
What actually happened:
A late interception saved Oklahoma from a major shock by the Aggies. Under "What We Got Wrong" we failed to list our prediction about Big 12 teams against nonconference opponents. Toss in the squeaker by Texas Tech (-13) over SMU and the Big 12 hasn't gotten off to a raring start.

Western Kentucky 10 @ #8 Nebraska 49 (-39.5)
What was supposed to happen:
See above.
What actually happened:
If you played this game, we hope you bought the hook. Otherwise, consider yourself snaked.

Eastern Illinois 7 @ #9 Iowa 37 (n/a)
We would like to commend Eastern Illinois of the FCS Ohio Valley Conference for their appropriately Creampuffish performance. Thank you, Panthers.

New Mexico 0 @ #11 Oregon 72 (-36)
What was supposed to happen:
Nobody thought the Lobos had much of a chance.
What actually happened:
Whatever shot New Mexico had evaporated when a basketball game broke out. Keeping up with the Ducks can be tough, but when you're wearing cleats on the hardwood? Forget it. Maybe UNM should have attempted a few more three-pointers.

#12 Wisconsin 41 (-21) at UNLV 21
What was supposed to happen:
The Badgers like to schedule a road trip to somewhere sunny each season. UW last visited UNLV in 2007 and last year, Bucky & Co. traveled to Hawaii - in early December, no less. Good timing! And who can forget the '08 season that saw the Badgers travel down to Orlando . . . oh, wait. That was for the Champs Sports Bowl in which FSU shelled UW by 29 points. Nevermind.
What actually happened:
Why can't we put action on the over/under for sunburns in a game like this? The announced attendance at Sam Boyd Stadium on Saturday night was 31,107. The stadium lists a maximum capacity of 36,800. Even without knowing the actual attendance, we could have guessed that roughly ten percent of the seats would go empty. (Not that many UW fans travel to Vegas, and none of the locals care about UNLV football.) That puts us at 33,120 and by assuming a two-thirds majority of Badger fans - a notably pasty crowd that enjoys all-day tailgating - we could put the sunburn potential at roughly 22,000. Factor in Vegas and the 11PM Eastern kickoff time, and let's assume about half of the potential victims avoided the sun. There, we just pegged the Sunburn Over/Under at 11,000 fans. Now, we just need Heather Cox to prowl the stands and get us an estimate.

South Carolina State 10 @ #16 Georgia Tech 41 (n/a)
South Carolina State plays in the MEAC along with fellow Directional Creampuff Florida A&M.

Tennessee Tech 3 @ #17 Arkansas 44 (n/a)
The Tennessee Tech "Golden Eagles" play in the OVC where they will vie with the likes of Eastern Illinois for Creampuff Conference supremacy.

#21 LSU 30 (-7.5) @ North Carolina 24 at Atlanta, GA
What was supposed to happen?
UNC suspended so guys from the team, even some of the waterboys wound up on the practice squad. So LSU walks through this one in laugher, right?
What actually happened?
Never, ever trust the Vegas line in this situation. The underdog will play their heart out, the favorites will come out flat, and you will end up wondering what happened to your hard-earned money. (Plus the hook!)

Youngstown State 14 @ #19 Penn State 44 (n/a)
How can we make a decision about PSU-Bama on Saturday night based on Week One?

Samford 6 @ #20 Florida State 59
We know first year HC Jimbo Fischer was eager to make a good impression but . . . sheesh.

Arkansas State 26 @ #22 Auburn 52 (-31)
What was supposed to happen?
We don't quite understand why Vegas posted a line for this game and not several of the other Directional Creampuff affairs.
What actually happened?
Well, the final score helps us understand why . . . because the Arkansas State . . . (uh, Doris?) . . . Red Wolves don't screw around, that's why!

Louisiana-Lafayette 7 @ #23 Georgia 55 (-29.5)
What was supposed to happen?
A.J. Green or no, the Bulldogs had this game in the bag.
What actually happened?
By the looks of it, I'd say Georgia won. And covered, to boot.

Coastal Carolina 0 @ #25 West Virginia 31 (n/a)
The ESPN Top 25 scoreboard can't even bother to spell out "Coastal." No, it's just "Coast Carolina" which really threw us here at the CFR. We know all about Coastal Carolina, but Coast Carolina? Who is that?

Monday, September 6

#3 Boise State 33 at #10 Virginia Tech 30 (-1) at Landover, MD
What was supposed to happen?
Depends on who you ask. You could sense the national media getting caught up in this story over the past month or two, with some commentators all but awarding Boise a spot in the BCS title game with a win while others called for the Broncos to go down.
What actually happened?
We may have gotten caught up in the anti-Boise backlash but our unofficial pick for the Hokies to win wasn't too far off: with less than two minutes remaining, Va Tech led 30-26. Mental mistakes and poor special teams play killed Frank Beamer all night, and the last two minutes served as a good example why: the Hokies gave up a 25 yard punt return and committed a costly 13 yard personal foul. And Boise QB Kellen Moore capitalized by completing three of four passes for 43 yards and the winning touchdown. Game over.

Standings After Week One
The CFR Staff: 1-1
The Sports Seal: 1-2
The Beachwood Bankroll: $9,495 (of $10,000)

-

Mike "Dr. Dude" Luce brings you The College Football Report in this space twice a week, with the generous assistance of the Beachwood Sports Seal. They both welcome your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:15 AM | Permalink

September 8, 2010

Chicagoetry: Congress Wars

Congress Wars

Memory is the soil of imagination,
the womb of insight,
the crucible of enlightenment.

I have been lighted, lightened,
as by lightning, by revelation
(which rhymes with revolution).

Memory struck like silent lightning
in broad daylight, blasting the wee spire
of mind. As though from the divine.

I recall a black mayor
and an obstructionist city council.
I recall the elation

of breakthrough and the deflation
of response. I recall
the obstructionists insisting

they weren't racists.
I remember not believing them I
remember not believing them.

Things are different now.
This time perhaps it's a wee more complicated.
But memory insisted.

It resisted ignorance,
smacked me upside my dread.
It insisted I think about it.

So I'm thinking about it.

-

J.J. Tindall is the Beachwood's poet-in-residence. He welcomes your comments. Chicagoetry is an exclusive Beachwood collection-in-progress.

-

More Tindall:

* Book of poems: Ballots From the Dead

* Music: MySpace page

* Fiction: A Hole To China

* Critical biography at e-poets.net

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:28 PM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

Much like a banana republic whose longtime tyrant is finally departing the scene, the challenge now for Chicago is whether it can prosper without a strongman at the helm.

But it's a mistake to reduce Chicago's political culture to one man and one family. The Daleys merely mastered The Chicago Way; they didn't invent it and they certainly don't own the patent on it. The departure of Richard M. Daley as mayor doesn't change a thing except the person on top; Chicago's culture of corruption exists apart from Daley even if he corralled it to his purposes without compare.

As we speak, evil forces are conspiring in hushed, nervous and giddy tones to protect their interests; some will overreach and others will emerge with an even stronger hand. They will be a danger to us all.

The Daleys are not likely to be among them. As much as the mayor's professed love of this city is never questioned, the Daleys have always been, as Tribune columnist John Kass among others has put it, a one-way street. They demand loyalty while giving none in return; it is always about them. It was never about the city.

They will go quietly - to the naked eye at least - though we can expect to keep hearing Bill Daley's name attached to everything from Downers Grove dogcatcher to United Nations Ambassador to Mars.

But by no means does this mean that reform will arrive right here at home. Pols who never had the courage to speak up when it mattered won't have the courage to defy the entrenched interests who will put them into the mayor's chair in the first place, and those who have been independent voices - I'm talking about you with love, Scott Waguespack - don't have the broad base of support needed to ascend to the throne. Alas, too, their fundraising will be dried up like a lawn whose garden hose as a giant foot on it. Or many feet.

Harold Washington will not be allowed to happen again. Lessons were learned.

Reform is our right, but it will have to earned the hard way - and possibly never. This is how petty dictatorships work; they disembowel civic institutions from the inside out. The only way those institutions are perpetuated is through the frauds they are built on. They become too big to fail.

I'm not trying to be horribly cynical, but does anybody really think Tom Dart or John Fritchey or James Meeks or Luis Gutierrez is really going to lead a revival?

Every new list of potential candidates is as depressing as the last. We are the Cubs; the farm system only begets more Cubs.

The political culture in this city is a package; it doesn't just flow from one person. The person on top is merely the one who has best harnessed its winds like a master sailor who knows when to tack this way and when that. It's an instinct found in the best of our bullies, and that is why they succeed most grandly in a system that was ultimately built for them.

Abandon all hope? Yes, as long as (to again steal from Kass) the men (and women) behind the men (and women) remain the same. Who in our civic culture has ever really stepped up? Even our faux reformer president backed every hack the Cook County Central Committee chose to prop up. He may even send one back to us.

Is it up to the voters of the pundits' imaginations, then, to put an end to this? Please tell me me how that will work. We do not even control the balloting. Our "choices" will be pre-determined.

Don't get me wrong. I'm glad to see Daley go. But the fact that he was in office for so long - and without a single serious challenger - says more about what's ahead then his exit does.

It will be ugly, grown men (and women) scrambling like rats for the last piece of cheese.

It will be entertaining, but only if you find petty dysfunctional politics an enjoyable distraction from contemplating life in a city where one in five children grows up impovershed.

It will be depressing, that's a given.

Could it possibly be hopeful? If only.

But that's not where we live. The King Rat may be retiring, but the ratmasters (and their enablers) remain. It is only if they grow a conscience and decide to change - those masters in the shadows who do the real dirty week - that we will be allowed to change as well.

Sorry to be so apocalyptic, but we live in a political sewer. One retirement isn't going to change that; the pipes themselves have to go.

Publishing Note
I'm still working my way through the coverage and we'll have a lot more later today, tomorrow and Friday.

Buy Beachwood
* Let The Ridiculous Games Begin. A look at week one in fantasy football in which one Bear will be ridiculous and another merely unbelievable.

* Chicagoetry: Congress Wars. In which obstructionists to a black mayor said they weren't racist.

-


The Beachwood Tip Line: Tame the rats.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:47 AM | Permalink

Let The Ridiculous Games Begin

Predictions for what will happen in the fantasy football world during and after Week 1:

1. Visanthe Shiancoe, TE, Minnesota, will catch two touchdowns against New Orleans on Thursday, and may still be available in your league because everyone was too embarrassed to attempt pronouncing his name during the draft.

2. Rookie Dexter McCluster, RB/WR, Kansas City, will emerge as a hot waiver wire pickup after breaking 100 total yards against San Diego, and will be christened the new Larry Johnson, much to his chagrin.

3. Devin Aromashodu, WR, BEARS, will be ridiculous, while teammate Devin Hester will be merely unbelievable. Unfortunately, Jay Cutler will throw more often to Greg "Catch and Take a Dive" Olsen.

4. The New York Jets Defense, likely the top defense drafted in many leagues, will be turned into Swiss cheese by Baltimore, and Darelle Revis will pull a hammy due to lack of activity during his holdout. Rex Ryan still won't shut up.

5. Brett Favre will again limp out of the Superdome on Thursday, but this time as a winner. Status for Week 2 will be doubtful, and he may say he's thinking about retirement, but don't you believe it.

Expert Wire
* Bleacher Report goes looking for the next Miles Austin and finds two Mike Williamses.

* FakeTeams likes Matthew Stafford as a sophomore sleeper. Stafford has been dividing experts lately, with some who think a full season will bring 20+ TDs and others who thinks he's headed for a second straight year with 20 INTs.

* Yahoo! First Down puts Stafford on its All-Mancrush team, along with Matt Forte and those Williamses.

* FanHouse thinks Dennis Dixon's four-week career as Pittsburgh QB will be fruitful. He can run, and he will go into hiding again when Big Ben comes back.

-

Dan O'Shea's Fantasy Fix appears in this space every Wednesday. He welcomes your comments. 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 9:24 AM | Permalink

September 7, 2010

What I Watched Last Night: Ruby Ridge

I suppose William Shatner wants to keep working, but he keeps showing up in the weirdest ways. His latest is a Biography channel show called Aftermath, described thusly:

"William Shatner takes an in-depth look at what happens when people are tragically or infamously transformed from unknown citizens into household names overnight, taking viewers back to the dramatic events that dominated the American news cycle as he gains exclusive access to the newsmakers at the heart of each story - heroes, villains, perpetrators, victims, family members and law enforcement officials - to dig deep and separate the fact from the fiction."

Well, yes, but he's not exactly a newsman and with episodes on Mary Kay Letourneau and the Unabomber, the whole enterprise just sounds like an another excuse to play the television version of search engine optimization - hammer those buzzwords! Or in this case, those buzzpeople.

I was, however, quite interested in the episode I saw over the weekend about Randy Weaver of Ruby Ridge fame because I had ever so slight touch upon the story back when I was a reporter in Iowa. And I have to give the show's creators credit - it was fascinating to hear from the central characters now reflecting upon the tragedy (particularly Weaver's daughter, Sara).

It's just too bad Shatner played the role of inquisitor instead of someone with a more serious mien. Perhaps he would have been a bit more skeptical; I guess I always viewed Weaver as less victim and more provacateur than the general view because of my reporting experience.

You see, when the story of the standoff originally broke I noticed somewhere a reference to the Weavers having previously lived in Cedar Falls, Iowa, where I lived while I worked for the Waterloo Courier as police reporter. I checked the clips and found that the Courier had once wrote about the Weavers in a story arted with a Bible and two bullets. Seems the Weavers were scaring the bejeesus out of their neighbors as they talked about the end times while accumulating a huge weapons cache.

I couldn't find a copy of that original article, though it was later cited in many official investigative reports of the incident, but I did locate the story that I wrote, which would have been late 1990 or early 1991. Authorities had yet to move on the Weavers. Here is that story.

-

Ex-C.F. family involved in mountain standoff
By Steve Rhodes
Courier Staff Writer
CEDAR FALLS - A former Cedar Falls family that caused a stir in the early 1980s because of its religious beliefs and ammunitions stockpile has held Idaho authorities at bay for more than a year from their mountaintop retreat.

Randall and Vicki Weaver have been living peacefully with their four children in an isolated cabin on the Ruby Ridge of the Selkirk Mountains even as Randall is wanted on a federal weapons charge and hasn't paid real estate taxes in three years.

"He's in a very remote area," said Steve Boyle, spokesman for the U.S. Marshal's Service, which holds an arrest warrant for Weaver. "The cabin he has has a commanding view in all directions. It's just a very difficult place to extricate anyone from who does not want to be extricated."

For three years the Weavers planned their journey west from a modest home on University Avenue [in Cedar Falls], where they would live as Christian survivalists awaiting the "great tribulation."

They visited an Amish community to learn how to live without electricity, canned a supply of food to last three years, and practiced using weapons for hunting and self-defense.

The Weavers finally set off in 1983, after their fervent religious beliefs had ignited rumors of cult activity during their time in Cedar Falls.

But times were tough out West. Weaver, 44, worked at times as a logger and laborer, and he even ran for sheriff in 1988 as a Republican in Boundary County, handing out "Vote Weaver for Sheriff" cards that said "Get Out of Jail Free" on the other side.

A year ago, Weaver was arrested for allegedly selling two sawed-off shotguns to a federal informant but failed to appear in court after he was released on his own recognizance.

Instead, he barricaded himself and his family in his mountaintop cabin and authorities have been reluctant to force him out, choosing instead to wait for his surrender even as friends ferry supplies to him and his family.

"The underlying charge is not a violent crime or heinous charge, so you have to use judgment in whether you want to risk the lives of others or children to bring him in," said Boyle. "There are strong arguments against storming the place."

In the iconoclastic Idaho panhandle, Weaver has his supporters, including a white supremacist church that claims him as a member.

"He doesn't want any contact with anybody," said Carl Franklin, chief of staff of the Church of Jesus Christ Christian in nearby Hayden Lake. "He has his family up there and they just keep to themselves."

Weaver has attended the church but has not become involved with its political arm, the Aryan Nation, Franklin said.

"I get the impression he considers them a moderate group. Almost too moderate for his tastes," said Boyle.

Boundary County Sheriff Bruce Whittaker, who was elected in 1990, has said in published reports that federal authorities are sending the wrong message in allowing Weaver to continue his life nearly unhindered.

"The Marshal Service is sending a message to people all over this country that, if you are a fugitive from the law, all you have to do is move to northern Idaho and build a cabin and strap on a pistol," Whittaker told the Chicago Tribune.

Whittaker is now denying media requests in the publicity crush that has followed. After a story by the Spokane Spokesman-Review hit the news wires and was picked up across the country, the tabloid TV people wanted in.

"Inside Edition wants an interview with the man on the mountain," Boyle said sardonically.

All of this attention had escaped the notice of Carolee Flynn, a former next-door neighbor and close friend who lives at 4920 University Ave.

Flynn still receives letters, and an occasional phone call, from the Weavers. The family has never mentioned the standoff.

"I just got a letter (from Vicki) saying the baby had arrived," Flynn said. "Her letter never mentioned that they were barricaded."

Vicki, 42, had her fourth child, a girl now 6 months old, at the cabin. Their other children are 16, 14 and 11. An F-4 Air Force jet has reportedly taken reconnaissance pictures of two of the children with handguns strapped to their waists. Flynn said the children are home-schooled by Vicki.

A letter from Sara, the 16-year-old, to Flynn at Thanksgiving shows no signs of anything but a contented home life, complete with a pet parakeet, a 100-pound Labrador named Striker, three "cute" puppies and 16 laying hens.

Flynn described the Weavers as generous neighbors whose kids were like grandchildren to her.

"Then they turned to religion," Flynn said. "They were nonviolent. They seemed to be almost persecuted by others for their religious beliefs. They were accused of being in a cult, which they were not. If they were in a cult, they would have tried to bring other people with them."

By January 1983, Randall, a John Deere mechanic and former Army Green Beret, told a Courier reporter he had amassed more than 4,000 rounds of ammunition, several military assault rifles and shotguns, and a variety of handguns.

"We called him crazy," Flynn said. "My husband said 'That's one crazy son-of-a-bitch over there.'"

The Weavers attracted the community's attention and in January 1983, they consented to be interviewed for a Courier article about their beliefs and activities. The article was published with artwork of two bullets beside a Bible.

"People can call us anything they want," Randall told the Courier. "I will speak the truth and they won't stop me."

Randall also described plans for developing a 300-yard kill zone to encircle their mountain compound, although Vicki later denied it. And they denied planning a confrontation with authorities, even as they prepared for the martial law they say is inevitable according to Biblical prophecy.

The Weavers did not seem to be religious people when the Flynns moved next door in 1976.

"When we moved in here they were common, ordinary people," Flynn said. "I think a lot of this came from watching PTL on television. And they got to studying and researching extensively, by the hour inside that home until they knew more than an ordained minister."

Flynn spent long hours over iced tea with Vicki, who worked at Sears, discussing the family's newfound religious beliefs and dark prophecies that would mark the beginning of the end.

In a Nov. 2 letter to Flynn, Vicki recalled those talks: "How is everything in Iowa? Are there a lot of people out of work there too? Things aren't looking good in this country or the world. What do you think of Geo. Bush's New World Order? Keep your eyes open. It's what we've talked about for years. This is a time of great deception. Deception is what the people of the world are being fed by the news media."

Flynn shied away from discussing the Weavers' political beliefs, but said the neo-Nazi label seems odd because Vicki once warned her to stay away from an acquaintance, saying "That's a neo-Nazi."

Authorities, however, consider the Weavers to be adherents of the Christian Identity, a racist and anti-Semitic group whose ranks have included Posse Comitatus leader Gordon Kahl and neo-Nazi leader Robert Matthews.

Both were killed in widely publicized shootouts with authorities - Kahl in 1983 when police stormed his farmhouse and Matthews in 1984 at his house on Whidbey Island on the Puget Sound.

Authorities, who have not ringed the cabin with armed patrols but instead are keeping the family under tight surveillance, deny they are being unusually patient to avoid the publicity of another such shootout.

"Only one of them has been charged with a wrongdoing. The other five have not," said Ron Evans, deputy chief of staff of the Marshal's Service. "He's kind of under house arrest up there."

That seems to suit the Weavers just fine. Randall's last message to authorities was "that he was not going to surrender," Evans said. "That he was prepared to stay on his mountaintop forever."

In Vicki's last letter to Flynn, she wrote: "We are all fine, happy on our little mountain and in good health."

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:08 PM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

BREAKING 1:52 P.M.: Daley Not Running For Re-Election.

-

"Like a poker player who has gone all in on a bet that's too big to lose, the Daley administration is expected to explain to aldermen on Tuesday why it needs to quickly issue $1 billion in new bonds to prevent the expansion of O'Hare International Airport from folding," the Tribune reports.

"With less than half of the mega-project completed, the city is running out of money and needs the bond deal to continue work. In the high-stakes game of Chicago-style airport expansion, the fresh money would basically buy time to keep the project going with the hope that the city will be able to persuade the airport's two largest tenants, American and United airlines, to sign on."

And if they don't? Maybe the city will sell the airport to Morgan Stanley.

"Ultimately, the city will need to raise at least $3.3 billion to finish the job - and that's without new terminals, a People Mover extension and other infrastructure that Chicago officials once deemed integral to building the first runways at O'Hare in almost 40 years."

Read the whole story. I'll be here when you get back.

Collision Course
Meanwhile . . .

"It appears that Gov. Pat Quinn may be near a major announcement on the airport near Peotone," Phil Kadner reports.

And . . .

"The O'Hare Modernization Program could cause more neighborhoods in nearby Bensenville to be wiped out," WBEZ reports.

Let Them Eat Sales Taxes
A study by two researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago has found that it is "only the wealthiest households that statistically significantly take advantage of [sales tax holidays]."

Stand-Up Service
"Before two luxury hotels, the Andaz 5th Avenue in Manhattan and the Elysian Hotel in Chicago, opened their doors in recent months, both added something extra to their usual employee training practices: they hired improvisational comedy experts," the New York Times reports.

How They See Us
"Nebraskans should not tolerate a Chicago-style shakedown from the Governor."

- Nebraska Democratic Party State Chairman Vic Covalt, calling for an investigation of the Republican governor

Madison Memo
"Gangs in Madison don't control blocks of turf like they do in Chicago and Los Angeles," the Wisconsin State Journal reports.

"Here, you might not even see gangs hanging out on the streets.

"Gang members might not wear their gang's colors, sport its identifying tatoos, or display its hand signs.

"But, police say, in the last three years, gang members were responsible for the murders of three young men gunned down on city streets, and members of one gang, the South Side Locos, planned to kill a gang detective in 2008."

Pimpin' Cheese
Tribute: The Mars Cheese Castle.

Economic Toilet
"Allen Sanderson, a University of Chicago economist, said 200 jobs can be created by hiring 100 people to dig holes and another 100 to follow along filling the holes back up," WLS-AM reports.

"A lot of the Obama programs have their hearts in the right place, but they have created an enormous amount of turmoil," he said. "What's stopping up the toilet is the enormous amount of uncertainty. Consumers are asking, 'How much will I be paying for health-care coverage?' and 'What's the value of my house?' and 'Am I going to have a job in the next year?' Bank executives are asking, 'If I loan this guy money, can he pay me back?' And businesses are asking, 'What will it cost me to hire this guy?' and 'What am I facing in health-care costs and the tax rate?' The best thing we could use is something sedate."

Council Crime
If we were closer to Election Day and she had a challenger, we'd wonder if Ald. Freddrenna Lyle did this to herself.

But let's be honest: Aren't we at least slightly satisfied when an alderman is the victim of a crime? I know it's not right but . . .

What I Watched Last Night
Colliding with William Shatner and Ruby Ridge.

Sox Shock
"Winning seven in a row means picking up half a game, neither the Sox nor Twins can rattle off their respective winning streaks forever and this, I think, is going to be the sad, lonely dance of September: the Sox will win just enough to go nowhere," our very own Andrew Reilly writes in The White Sox Report. "What else could the state of White Sox baseball possibly point to?"

The Quade Kool-Aid
Our very own Marty Gangler is drinking it.

-

Tambourines and Elephants

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Playing with the band.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:11 AM | Permalink

Tribute: The Mars Cheese Castle

"Wisconsin's famous Cheese Castle has to find a new home," Fox Chicago News reported recently.

"The Mars Cheese Castle is along I-94, just over the Wisconsin border, and it has been drawing in tourists since 1947.

"Wisconsin plans to expand the highway, forcing the Cheese Castle to find another place to set up shop.

"It won't be moving far, though. The owners plan to build a new Cheese Castle about 50 yards away."

A video tribute in five parts:

1. Welcome to the cheese factory.

-

2. Everyone in Wisconsin is dead.

-

3. In case of apocalypse.

-

4. No sitting on the cow.

-

5. That shit's pimp.

-

Comments welcome.

-

1. From Drew Adamek:

My wife and I got married at a "castle" in Wisconsin. As a gag gift for our guests we had custom "Mars Cheese Castle" Jones Soda bottles made up. So every time I see something about Mars Cheese Castle it makes me think of my wedding vows. I love that place.

fufu.jpg

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:12 AM | Permalink

The Quade Kool-Aid

Okay, so the Cubs are 9-4 under Mike Quade. Which is good of course but I have a question. How are we supposed to tell if Mike Quade is any good at managing?

I mean, if it was all based on wins and losses then there should be this groundswell of support for a second coach Q in Chicago. But there isn't. Which once again means I need to ask, how can we tell?

Maybe it comes down to if the manager makes most of the same decisions that you as a fan agree with.

But this just isn't true either because most fans are idiots.

Like it or not, it's just kind of a vibe that a general manager needs to have to know who is going to succeed.

And then most managers get fired in a couple years anyway. So what the heck does that tell you?

It tells you that if a guy can get through to players on a certain level then he's got it with these guys and is the man.

Lou didn't have it for the last two years and Dusty lost it after about two years too.

So this guy Quade is proving he's got it.

Don't give me this crap about it not mattering anymore because it hasn't mattered in a long-ass time and they haven't won this many games in a long-ass while.

So Quade's my guy until he isn't.

I just don't trust Jim Hendry to know it.

Week in Review: The Cubs went 5-2 for the week (and a day) taking two of three from both the Pirates and the Mets as well as taking the first game against the Astros. Sure these teams aren't that good but neither are the Cubs. This is a pretty good thing.

Week in Preview: The Quade train keeps a-rollin' with two more against the Astros at home and then a three-game set in Milwaukee. It may yet be safe to wear your Cub gear in public.

The Second Basemen Report: Has Mike Quade figured out the riddle that is second base? Blake DeWitt started five games this week with Jeff Baker getting the other two. But both were great at the plate this week.It's almost as if Quade knows what he is doing. Is it smoke and mirrors? Have I drank too much of the Quade Kool-Aid? Should get interesting now that Aramis Ramirez may not be playing too much third base and Baker may get some starts over there, but hey, I think Quade's got an answer for this that will work. You know, just like Jim Hendry drew it up.

In former second basemen news, the Dodgers already have no idea what to do with Ryan Theriot. Which is kind of like what happened when he was here. But whatever happens, he will be missed.

The Zam Bomb: The little crazy demon that lives in Big Z's brain may have already phoned in the rest of the season because Carlos looks like he is almost worth the money they pay him lately. Almost. He is apologetic.

zam_apologetic.jpg

-

Lost in Translation: Returnio ofee bigie -bigee Sumo is Japanese for Carlos Silva is back baby.

Endorsement No-Brainer: Tom Ricketts for clown college.

Sweet and Sour Quade: 70% sweet, 30% sour. Mike Quade begins this section of The Cub Factor in a pretty good mood because he knows what he is doing. And just like your real well adjusted, smart, and put together uncle, Mike knows that you can't parallel park very well yet, so he lets you park in the driveway with Aunt Julie's Prius until you know what you are doing. He doesn't have a problem with you parking on the street until you are ready. I mean, you're family for godsakes and he knows you'll get it eventually.

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Shares of oversized glasses traded higher this week as a very wealthy investor paid much more than they are worth.

Over/Under: The number of managers that Jim Hendry will interview before he realizes that Mike Quade is the guy for the job: +/- 6.

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 wins are wins even now.

Agony & Ivy: It's a way of life.

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: The Wrigleyville area is still considered a disaster area despite the empty seats.

mtlou_red.gif

-

Contact The Cub Factor!


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:44 AM | Permalink

Mirror Images

Winning seven in a row means picking up half a game, neither the Sox nor Twins can rattle off their respective winning streaks forever and this, I think, is going to be the sad, lonely dance of September: the Sox will win just enough to go nowhere. What else could the state of White Sox baseball possibly point to?

Now, it could be that the Twins are just having a bit of a lucky streak here. They're not going to play the Royals every day and won't always benefit from nonsensical umpiring calls going their way. They can't expect Jim Thome to make the highlight reel every time up, nor can Carl Pavano possibly be as good as advertised.

But as fun as it is to write off the competition (and believe me, it's fun), we have to also admit that everything true about the Twins is also true about the White Sox. One or two players on fire coupled with a past-his-prime Cleveland Indian do not a solid team make, and yet here we sit ready to write off Thome's Twins while calling Manny's Sox the real deal because . . . well, because that's what people do. Our arms pitching over their heads are the work of another Don Cooper miracle; theirs are smoke and mirrors. Our unlikely sweeps in hostile enemy territory are the expected handiwork of the Team of Destiny; theirs are just aberrations to be ignored in the larger scheme of things.

The sad part though, is that the Twins aren't doing anything special, or at least nothing more special than the Sox. Lose a ton here, win a ton there, score a bunch of runs, have weird things happen and call it a day. One of these teams won't keep winning at the rate they have lately, but it's hard to say the other will, either. And thus, the awkward sprint to the finish begins.

Week in Review: Immortal. Sweep the Tribe, sweep the BoSox, and take the first from the Tigers for a week that refuses to die.

Week in Preview: Malty. Three more in Detroit followed by three at home against the Royals.

Hawkeroo's Can-O-Corn Watch: "That's one thing that's proven to be more true over time, is that teams coming into September down a two or three games, those are the teams that tend to go on and make the playoffs, because those are the teams that find ways to win the games that need to be won. You look at a team like Detroit, Kansas City, even our Sox who, by most counts, are in first place anyway, and those are the teams the other teams are scared of, because if you're someone like Tampa Bay or Atlanta, you know the Tigers or Sox are going to find a way to beat you right now down the stretch, which is the best time for teams to win games because when it comes time for the playoffs and World Series, you're not going to find a lot of teams that necessarily won the most, but just the teams that knew they had to get to that place."

Gordon Beckham Hall of Fame Update: Gordon Beckham hit-by-pitch through 224 games: 13. Mickey Mantle hit-by-pitch through 224 games: 0, thus proving Beckham to be an infinitely more intimidating batter than Mickey Mantle ever was.

Alumni News You Can Use: Former South Side lumberjack Jim Thome helped the Twins assert their dominance Monday in more ways than we will ever understand.

The "H" in "DH" Stands For: Hair, as in where the continually dreadlocked Manny Ramirez must be storing his relative might.

The Q Factor: He walks to the podium to face the assembled press of Motor City. "Tigers are believed to have descended from wooly mammoths," he says. "Did you know that?" The audience members all shake their heads. "Of course you didn't," he says, "because I just made that up. But you believed me, didn't you?" The audience then responds in the affirmative. "Remember this," he says. "Remember this moment where you learned my words are stronger than your collective will. See you on the ballfield."

The Guillen Meter: His team maddeningly treading water, the Guillen Meter reads 3.5 for "I'll slit their throats if it means we can finally gain a game."

Endorsement No-Brainer: AC/DC for the race to the American League Central finish line: it's a long way to the top (if you wanna rock n' roll).

Cubs Snub: 18-5? Seriously? To the Mets?

The White Sox Report: Read 'em all.

The Cub Factor: It's funny because it's true.

-

The White Sox Report welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:30 AM | Permalink

September 6, 2010

SportsMonday: Bears Number Is Up

The number is 6.5.

Pick the Bears to pull out more victories than that and you're an optimist. Pick them to finish with less and you're a realist . . . I mean pessimist . . . oh, no I don't. If you've got them winning seven or more, God love ya' and I hope you're right. But it isn't going to happen.

There is a bright side. Surely, surely, surely even the McCaskeys and Ted Phillips won't be able to justify bringing Lovie and Jerry Angelo back after yet another miserable campaign this fall.

On the other hand, let's hope the offense in general and Jay Cutler in particular makes some progress this time around because it will be important for the Bears to at least keep Mike Martz beyond this year.

If Martz bows out with Lovie, Cutler will be faced with learning a fourth offensive system in four years. And if you think Cutler was grumpy in the third preseason game (when he threw two picks and failed to lead the Bears to any points), just wait until that scenario plays out.

What's that you say? No new general manager and head coach with any self-respect are going to take the job with the Bears if they can't hire all the members of their own staff? Perhaps some history lessons will be in order.

A few years before the Bears broke through and won it all for the one and only time 25 years ago this season, Mike Ditka was offered the head coaching job. And he took it despite the fact that owner George Halas insisted he keep holdover defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan on his staff. The two most definitely didn't get along but they did manage to hold it together long enough to win the Lombardi trophy.

A couple decades later, when Lovie took over, he was encouraged to hire as his initial defensive coordinator Ron Rivera, who was not one of his favorite candidates. The head coach never got over it and when he had the clout to make a change (after the Bears went to the 2006 Super Bowl), he dumped Rivera. It has been downhill for the defense ever since.

So while it might take a little extra effort to find a general manager and a head coach who are flexible about hiring at least one member of their staffs, we have plenty of reason to believe it will pay off.

Slot Shot
Earlier this preseason, I've assessed this team's shortcomings on the offensive line and in the defensive backfield. This week's underperforming unit in the spotlight is the wideouts.

At best this receiving corps is a big question mark. I loved it when Mike Martz came in and honestly pointed out that Devin Hester would be a perfect fit for the slot receiver position in his offense. The comparison to talented former Ram slot receiver Az-Zahir Hakim was obvious and if Hakim was able to haul in eight touchdowns playing the slot for Martz in 1999 and make a career high 53 catches there the next year, surely Hester would have a shot at double-digit scores and at least double-nickel receptions

But the only way the way the Bears have handled the receivers the past few years (not aggressively pursuing a possible No. 1 receiver in a trade or free agency) makes any sense at all is if Hester is still the team's No. 1 receiver. And he can't be that from the slot. So it wasn't long at all before Martz was back-tracking and saying of course Hester wouldn't move to the slot.

If Hester can't make it out there - and this has to be his last chance doesn't it? - the Bear braintrust can point to his still-impressive athleticism and say they still felt as though they needed to give it one more shot, especially with Martz at the helm and having endorsed the idea of keeping Hester outside. But that will have to ring hollow at this late date.

The problem is Hester doesn't run great routes and he simply doesn't get open that often. Even when he does break free on a deep pattern, he is just as likely to drop a perfectly thrown bomb than he is to catch it. Other than that he's a great No. 1.

Martz also came into this job believing that good receiving tight ends weren't worth much, that it didn't make a ton of sense to draw up plays for passes to guys who were too slow and lumbering to play wide receiver and not slick enough to break away from quick defensive backs.

Those are the defensive backs who increasingly fill the field as teams employ more and more nickel and dime packages. Once again Martz had to be re-educated by a general manager who spent a first-round pick on a receiving tight end the off-season before the season before last and wasn't ready to be embarrassed by having to trade him for a lower round draft choice or to simply release him. And so Martz will have to try to incorporate passes to Greg Olsen into his offense even though those sorts of plays are obviously a bad fit.

It is enough to make even an optimist cry.

-

Jim Coffman brings you SportsMonday every week and then sits back and awaits your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:03 AM | Permalink

September 4, 2010

The College Football Report: World's Greatest Season Preview

Welcome to Part II of the College Football Report's Preseason Special. Last week, we caught you up on the major storylines of the offseason. Below, we offer our fearless (and bluntly biased) projections on the upcoming season. After a long look at each major conference, you will be treated to the Report's preseason predictions. We'll identify the Broncos, Tigers, Horned Frogs and other wildlife worthy of your hard-earned money. At the same time, we hope to help you avoid the Buffaloes, Cougars, Owls and various endangered species (has anyone started a Save the Terrapin Fund yet?) to avoid.

Together with a network of relentless researchers, the insights from no fewer than four publications (Lindy's Sports, Athlon Sports, Phil Steele, and The Gold Sheet), news from numerous websites, plus rumors, hints and downright hearsay, our crack staff here at The College Football Report has . . . no idea what will happen this year. Then again, the odds are good that neither do you. Welcome, true believers, to the 2010 season.

A note on the following: the numbers in parentheses reflect each team's rank in the preseason Associated Press poll and 2009 overall record. And as always, The College Football Report is for entertainment purposes only. Including gambling.

The Atlantic Coast Conference

Comment: Last season, Clemson lost the ACC title game to Georgia Tech in a game few watched and fewer remember. This year, the Yellowjackets return among the ACC's top teams, joined by Virginia Tech, Miami and (if suspensions are lifted) North Carolina. While the ACC may lack a true national title contender, we would match up the top four or five squads against almost anyone. And we expect the ACC representative in the BCS to play in one of the more intriguing postseason matchups.

The Chalk: The Hokies (#10, 10-3) and Tar Heels (#18, 8-5) enter Week One in the spotlight, but not for all the right reasons. While Va Tech matches up against Boise State in a virtual BCS elimination game, UNC remains under a cloud of suspicion due to an ongoing NCAA investigation. Up to 12 players will be reprimanded for improper benefits, contact with agents and the like. A few days ago, UNC coach Butch Davis suspended star DT Marvin Austin for unspecified violations of team rules although Austin also figures prominently in the NCAA goings-on. Meanwhile, Jacory Harris & Co. down at the University of Miami (#13, 9-4) gets a tune-up at home against Florida A&M.

The Contenders: Georgia Tech (#16, 11-3) and Florida State (#20, 7-6) will factor into the ACC championship. With Virginia Tech's history for stumbling into one or two critical losses, one or both of these teams could sneak into the conference championship on December 4.

The Field: Boston College (8-5) and Clemson (9-5) round out the remainder of the ACC's second tier. The Tigers could prove a frisky underdog at home, but questions surround the offense after the departure of RB CJ Spiller and his 7,588 career all-purpose yards. (For those of you keeping track at home, that's the second-most in D-IA/FBS history.)

The Goats: While Duke, North Carolina St. and Wake Forest will muddle through mediocre seasons, Maryland and Virginia may be among the worst teams in any BCS conference this year.

The College Football Report Projection: The Hurricanes claim their first ACC title in a Sunshine State showdown over rival Florida State. Virginia Tech stumbles in November while UNC eventually implodes under pressure from the NCAA. Duke, and star receiver Donovan Varner (the ACC's only returning 1000-yard receiver), catch a few road favorites by surprise and go bowling for the first time since 1994. Finally, coach Ralph Friedgen retires from the Maryland head job by November 15, citing "health reasons."

The Big East

Comment: Why is it that certain conferences have "Conference" in the name while others simply go by "The Big X"? The ACC is always the Atlantic Coast Conference. You will never see the Big East referred to as The Big East Conference. I have no idea why this happens.

If you would like to skip ahead, we won't blame you. To Big East fans: the top team in your conference has Dave Wannstedt at the helm - you know this will be a long season, right?

The Chalk: The mighty Pittsburgh Panthers (#15, 10-3) enter the 2010 season as the odds-on favorite to win the Big East helped by the fact that West Virginia (#25, 9-4) is their only conference foe ranked in the AP Top 25.

The Contenders: For our money, Cincinnati (12-1) and Connecticut (8-5) make for more interesting TV (and betting window) fare than the top two teams. While you may not want to back the Bearcats (5-7 ATS), we expect many of their 2010 matches may go "over" the point total. (Four of last five '09 games eclipsed the mark, even with O/U amounts of 51, 59, 57 and 57 points.) If Butch Jones can keep his D off the field, we like Cincy QB Zach Collaros to run all over opposing teams. As for the Huskies, 2010 marks the 10th season of play among the DI-A/FBS big boys and it could be a memorable one. UConn returns 17 starts from a '09 squad that posted an 8-5 straight-up record and went 10-2 against the number.

The Field: Once upon a time (read: 2006), rumors had Rutgers (9-4) head coach Greg Schiano taking any number of big-time jobs after winning the Texas Bowl over Kansas State and finishing the season at 11-2. Fans of the Scarlet Knights, accustomed to eight-win seasons, may find 2010 a bit humdrum. Down in Tampa, Skip Holtz takes over at Southern Florida (8-5). USF jettisoned Jim Leavitt in January after an alleged confrontation with a player, turning the team over to the former East Carolina coach.

The Goats: Louisville (4-8) will start the season off on the wrong foot by losing to Kentucky (again), while Syracuse (4-8) hopes an influx of scholarship athletes (up to 76 this year) helps to continue the gradual rebuilding taking place out East.

The College Football Report Projection: Pitt drops out of the Top 25 by September 26, surfaces again on October 31, but ultimately has too much road work to do (three of last four away from home) down the stretch. Cincy and UConn don't have quite enough, leaving us with . . . the Mountaineers. Hurrah.

The Big Ten

Comment: Can Ohio State (finally) live up to the hype? Can Wisconsin return to the Rose Bowl? Is Iowa for real? Will JoePa drop dead on the sidelines?

While the first four weeks of the schedule for all the above teams features plenty of Directional Creampuffs (Eastern Illinois? Youngstown State? Eastern Michigan? Austin PEAY, for godssakes?), we will still know a great deal more about the top Big Ten teams by September 12.

The Chalk: Ohio State (#2, 11-2), Iowa (#9, 11-2), Wisconsin (#12, 10-3) and Penn State (#19, 11-2) all have a chance to be in the Top 10 on October 3. We expect the Badgers and Hawkeyes to be on cruise control (both start with three of four at home), but Penn State and Ohio State face sterner tests. The Nittany Lions travel down South to face the (suddenly Ingram-less) Alabama Crimson Tide on September 11 in prime time. Hours earlier, the Buckeyes square off with the Miami Hurricanes. Both programs deserve healthy kudos for such an aggressive schedule. To the Big Ten: thank you. The Disney family of TV networks thanks you too, but we aren't supposed to talk about that.

The Contenders: We aren't sure anyone belongs in this category. Not yet.

The Field: For sake of convenience, we will lump Michigan State (6-7), Michigan (5-7) and Northwestern (8-5) into this group - but not necessarily in that order. If the Wolverines start the season 3-3, we would not be surprised to see Rich Rod's team spit the bit. The last half of the season (Iowa, @ PSU, then winnable games against Illinois and Purde, and closing vs. UW and @ OSU) looks brutal for the Maize n' Blue. Mark Dantonio in East Lansing doesn't have it much easier - his fourth year had better exceed his underwhelming '09 campaign.

The Goats: Phew. Purdue, Indiana, Illinois and Minnesota combined for a total of 18 wins last season. And only 10 of those Ws came in conference play. In contrast to the typical Big Ten fan, the conference carries most of its weight up top.

The College Football Report Projection: The Big Ten will be very, very good this year. As is often the case, we may not know how good until the postseason. The conference does well in bowl games, but does not (as we mentioned last week) always show up in BCS matchups. Many have speculated about the cause (grueling conference schedules, the long layoff before BCS play, faster athletes in the SEC or Big 12, etc.) but this year should be a litmus test: for fans of the Big Ten, it's put up or shut up.

We will spot OSU a berth in the BCS title game. Despite the Buckeyes' schedule, anything less would be a major disappointment. If the left side of the O-line can protect Pryor (we're looking at you, Mike Adams), the Bucks should get past Iowa and Wisconsin on the road. For runner-up, we will go with the balanced Badgers (2009 ranks overall - offense, 30th and defense, 17th) over the defensive-minded Hawkeyes and inexperienced Nittany Lions. Bonus prediction: UW's John Clay will garner more votes than any other running back for the Heisman this year . . . unless Mark Ingram gets a knee transplant, in which case all bets are off.

The Big 12

Comment: 2010 marks the last season of the Big 12 as we know it - next year, Colorado and Nebraska depart for the Pac-10 and Big Ten respectively. And this year will be a proverbial fight to the finish - Texas, Oklahoma and Nebraska all have a shot at the league title.

The Chalk: The Longhorns (#5, 13-1), Sooners (#7, 8-5) and Cornhuskers (#8, 10-4) make up the best group of top shelf teams of any conference this year. Any one of the three could end the season in Pasadena for the BCS title game. Unless Nebraska falters, the conference championship game will pit them against one of the other two out of the South division.

The Contenders: Much like the elite group, the second tier in the Big 12 is stocked with good teams: Missouri (8-5), Texas Tech (9-4), Texas A&M (6-7) and Oklahoma State (9-4) could all waltz into a title in a lesser conference. Of the four, we like Okie State but would hesitate putting rent money in the hands of a team with so many unproven players (only seven starters - total - returning for the offense and defense) so we will go with A&M. Senior QB Jerrod Johnson (3579 yards and 30 TDs in '09) can play with the best and the Aggies get Mizzou, Tech, Oklahoma and Nebraska at home in College Station.

The Field: Despite the talent in the Big 12, the conference still harbors some bottom feeders. Baylor (4-8), Iowa State (7-6), Kansas (5-7) and Kansas State (6-6) took a beating in conference play last year and the trend looks to continue in 2010. All four have some tough sledding to do just for bowl eligibility, much less a place in the national picture.

The Goats: Make that goat, singular. We reserved a special place here for the Colorado Buffaloes. After compiling a miserable 3-9 record in 2009, head coach (and TV-analyst-in-waiting) Dan Hawkins apparently he feels he's owed a contract extension. What about the three years remaining on your current contract, coach?

The College Football Report Projection: We will keep up the trend of avoiding the favorite - Texas - in favor of Nebraska. The Huskers have more to prove on their last trip through the Big 12 and a much more favorable schedule, despite an early road trip to Washington that could prove tricky. The Big 12 champ could play in the BCS title game, but we suspect two undefeated teams will earn that honor - and going unbeaten in this conference in 2010 may be too much to ask of anyone. That said, we would encourage you to break open the piggy bank when backing any Big 12 team in preconference play. Even teams like UCLA and Florida State will be overmatched against the top dogs, and lesser squads like A&M and Tech should rack up enough points to blow out any unranked opponents in September.

The Pac-10

Comment: We don't know what to make of the Pac-10 this year. The conference failed to crack the preseason Top 10, one of its best teams (USC) has been banned from postseason play, and the top player from the other leading team (Oregon) was given the heave-ho in the offseason. What the hell happened? Isn't the West Coast supposed to be relaxed, accepting and full of doe-eyed Song Girls? Instead, we have been treated to an off-season of shady activities by the likes of Coach Lane Kiffin and Jeremiah Masoli. The former Ducks quarterback pled guilty to second-degree burglary in March and ran into trouble again in June for marijuana possession, followed by the boot from Chip Kelly's squad.

The Chalk: This is where we are supposed to talk about Oregon (#11, 10-3) and USC (#14, 9-4) but instead let's talk time zones. The Pac-10 often plays in the prime time matchup on Saturday night. If not, viewers elsewhere in the country can catch a late game nationally televised on the ESPN family. But who stays up to watch Iowa at Arizona or Oregon at Arizona State? Both games are good examples of why the "East Coast bias," much lamented by Pac-10 fans, is inevitable - kickoff is at 10:30PM Eastern! The Pac-10 could boast the best teams in the nation, but nobody east of Amarillo would know about it. Staying up past my bedtime, even for college football, isn't easy for me anymore - and I'm in my mid-30s! Can we really expect the seasoned (read: middle-aged) writers who vote in the Associated Press poll to burn the midnight oil on the East Coast?

The Contenders: Oregon State (#24, 8-5), Stanford (8-5) and Arizona (8-5) fall into the Pac-10's uninspiring second cut. Any one of these teams could be ranked in the 20s and still wouldn't make our radar. (With the possible exception of Washington, given our growing crush on Coach Sarkisian.) Oh wait, one of them is already ranked! How could we overlook the sneaky Beavers? You know what, let's move on before we say something we'll regret.

The Field: Washington (5-7) needs to win a few more games this year for the Jake Locker for Heisman campaign to have serious legs. The Huskies played well at times last season, but starting off against the likes of BYU, Nebraska and USC may make the remainder of 2010 an uphill battle for bowl eligibility. And Cal (8-5) and UCLA (7-6) should spend a bit less time by the beach and log a few more hours on the practice field.

The Goats: Arizona State (4-8) and Washington State (1-11) outright suck. About the nicest thing we can think to say about either is that their records against the spread last year weren't too terrible: 5-5-1 and 5-7, respectively.

The College Football Report Projection: The "nobody believes in us" factor is one of the few constants in the college game, along with the "outraged at being disrespected" effect. If Lane Kiffin has any idea what he is doing (and despite his scumbag nature, or perhaps because of it, we believe he does) he will play both cards with his Trojans this season. He can sell the team on treating every game - especially every game televised nationally - as a bowl game. Should USC roll through Week 8 undefeated, the conference title could be on the line against at home against Oregon on October 30. We have pulled for Southern Cal in the past for financial reasons, but rarely root for them outright. This year, we want to see them crash and burn or go unbeaten. Anything in between would be too boring.

The Southeastern Conference

Comment: We are unabashed fans of the SEC, and three letter acronyms (TLAs) in general, here at the CFR. The conference delivers the goods on the big stage: four straight titles, six overall (four more than any other conference), and an unbeaten record in the BCS championship game. Teams like LSU (champs in 2003, 2007), Florida (2006, 2008) and Alabama (2009) have ran the show for the past decade, so much so that even football fans in Big Ten country have begrudgingly acknowledged the SEC's dominance. But past results only go so far in college football - many of the stars from last year are now playing on Sundays. Will 2010 see the SEC step aside for the Big Ten or Big 12?

The Chalk: Speaking of the NFL, Alabama (#1, 13-0) and Florida (#4, 13-1) could play in places like Detroit, Kansas City, St. Louis and Oakland and the local fans would consider it an upgrade. To say the least.

The Contenders: Arkansas (#17, 8-5), LSU (#21, 9-4), Auburn (#22, 8-5), and Georgia (#23, 8-5) form a pack of hungry teams eager to knock off the favorites. But compared to past seasons, none of the contenders seem capable of a run at the conference championship game. That said, we could get taken by surprise - particularly given the injury to Bama stud RB Mark Ingram - by a team coming out the West. If so, our money is on LSU. In the East, Georgia returns one of the best O-lines in the country which should give redshirt freshman Aaron Murray plenty of time to get the ball to AJ Green and the rest of UGA's talented wide-outs.

The Field: South Carolina (7-6), Tennessee (7-6), Mississippi State (5-7) and Ole Miss (9-4) could end the season with six wins or more, but each has a range of issues that should keep them out of the Top 25. The only possible exception is South Carolina, where Steve Spurrier is under pressure to deliver some notable results and should have his foot on the gas all season. Mississippi State might be hard pressed to scrape together six wins as well as replace RB Anthony Dixon (5.4 ypg, 12 TDs) but the Bulldogs are should show improvement in the second year of Dan Mullen's system. And in late-breaking news, Jeremiah Masoli's appeal has been approved and will likely get most of the starts at QB for Ole Miss, taking the Rebs from hypothetically interesting to genuinely interesting.

The Goats: As a native Kentuckian, I am sorry to say it but the University of Kentucky (7-6) will resume its traditional spot at the bottom of the heap in the SEC. The Wildcats should take some comfort from Vanderbilt's (2-10) company in the cellar this season. In one of the nerdier matchups of 2010, Vandy hosts Chicagoland's very own Northwestern on September 4. The teams have already agreed that the loser has to wash the chalkboards the rest of the month.

The College Football Report Projection: We predict at least a 20 percent drop in Tim Tebow references during any given SEC game, but only a 10 percent drop-off during any game featuring the Florida Gators. Junior John Brantley has the unenviable task of replacing one of the greatest college quarterbacks of all time, but his job will be made somewhat easier as Florida should have a sterling defensive unit. Let's pencil the Gators - with one loss, on the road at Alabama - into the conference championship game. (More a process of elimination than anything else - the SEC East looks very un-SEC East-like this season.)

Because anything else wouldn't be as fun, we have Alabama as the other half of that matchup. In the Bama backfield, a healthy Ingram should pair up with super soph Trent Richardson to steamroll the Gators. Making matters worse for the Gators (and all other opponents), the Tide has exactly the sort of quarterback needed for this team - senior Greg McElroy won't heave up any ducks for all-stars Gator DBs Jenkins, Black or Hill to pick for six.

Everybody Else
Boise State (#3, 14-0) and Nevada (8-5) will lead the WAC, Houston (10-4) will run away with Conference USA and someone - we don't particularly care who - will win the MAC, but the Mountain West is where the action is in 2010 outside the BCS "big six" conferences.

Utah (10-3) and BYU (11-2) belong in the Top 25 and Air Force (8-5) should draw some attention as well. We like the Utes and BYU to pull off some impressive wins over nonconference opponents (as evidenced in Utah's squeaker over Pitt on Thursday night) but most of the talk will be about TCU.

Finally, we can't write 4,000 words and not devote a few to Notre Dame (6-6). Like it or not, the college football world is a better place when Notre Dame wins. We can't blame you if you've learned to dislike the Irish, but a .500 team just doesn't seem right. Few teams seem to stir up as much emotion across the nation as ND, and the 2010 season will see them criss-cross the country to play on both coasts (at Boston College and at USC). Yet many teams will travel to South Bend this year, where the Irish have a distinct edge.

The College Football Report Projection: Week One will change everything. Boise State loses to Virginia Tech on Monday night in Landover, MD. TCU wins (but doesn't cover) over Oregon State and reels off an undefeated season. That puts the Horned Frogs in the title game and an angry Boise team up against a big conference dough boy. As for ND, Look for first year coach Brian Kelly to get the most out of green QB Dayne Crist and land in a decent bowl game.

The Beachwood Bankroll
To fund our operations this season, we took up dog walking, horse racing and shoe shining. The profits netted us a cool ten grand which sits in a closely guarded shoebox in the CFR offices. To get things rolling, we put down some propositional wagers on the BCS championship: $100 each on Florida (+$800), Oklahoma (+$800), Nebraska (+$1500), TCU (+$2000) and LSU (+$2500). (If you're curious, the Tide took up the top spot on the tote board at +$440.) While some sportsbooks won't collect until after the season, let's treat this like Vegas which will take the Bankroll down to $9,500.

For fun, let's also throw down $50 each on:

#24 Oregon State (+13.5) at #6 TCU, 6:45PM
Rice at #5 Texas (-31), 2:30PM

The Sea Mammal Speaks (or Barks, as the Case May Be)
The Beachwood Sports Seal returned from his summer mating grounds earlier this week. You might say his oats look well-sown. He also seems to have dropped some weight, trimmed his whiskers, oiled his coat and cut back on the Ol' Grand Dad. On the downside, he has taken up smoking cigars. Hoyo de Monterrey Double Coronas, in fact. Supposedly procured from a tobacconist in South America - we can't quite seem to nail down the details - the Coronas have added a noticeably Latin aroma to the Beachwood Sports office. The Seal barked out the following picks and then disappeared into a thick haze.

Colorado @ Colorado State (+11.5), 1:00PM
Purdue (+11) @ Notre Dame, 2:30PM
Washington State @ Oklahoma State (-17), 6:00PM

-

Mike "Dr. Dude" Luce brings you The College Football Report in this space twice a week, with the generous assistance of the Beachwood Sports Seal. They both welcome your comments.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:06 PM | Permalink

The Weekend Desk Report

HOLIDAY WEEKEND UPDATE: SportsMonday: The Bears Number Is Up.

-

HOLIDAY WEEKEND UPDATE: The Beachwood college football desk has finally delivered The World's Greatest Season Preview. Remember, you are allowed to print this out and bring it with you to the betting window.

-

The Weekend Desk Report
Please. Like we're leaving the Weekend Desk with shit like this going down.

Market Update
Despite a rising unemployment rate, the economic outlook wasn't all bad this week. The Incendiary Index outperformed expectations as its Rhetoric keeps getting emptier.

Super Downsize Me
The bulk of financial news this week remains dour, however, as even our nation's King has been forced to accept a regency.

Palin Comparison
Noted physicist and author Stephen Hawking this week declared there is no room for God in the creation of the universe. After all, no higher power would've made such shitty excuses for stars.

In Other News . . .
. . . duh.

Roger Dodger
Alleged disciplinarian Roger Goodell has announced a reduction in the penalty given to All-Pro dirtbag Ben Roethlisberger. However, to assuage critics, Goodell has also announced the Steelers QB will be covered exclusively by Lindsay Lohan.

Eatin' Good
The 33 Chilean miners trapped 2,300 feet underground received a stern warning this week not to consume any alcohol. Because, you know, the neighborhood Applebee's is apparently stuck down there with them.

In Like Quinn
Finally this week, it's not that the devil we know is such great shakes. We just thought the devil we don't know would be sexier.

-

The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Created out of nothing.

Posted by Natasha Julius at 8:14 AM | Permalink

September 3, 2010

The [Friday] Papers

"Illinois' prison chief, who became a political liability to Gov. Pat Quinn during an election year because of a secret prisoner release program he oversaw, is stepping down, the governor said Thursday," AP reports.

"Corrections Director Michael Randle is resigning as of Sept. 17. He will return to Ohio, where he had been assistant director of the state prison system, to run a community correctional facility in Cleveland for a not-for-profit agency. He will be taking a huge pay cut."

I'll say. Before becoming Illinois's top corrections official he was a deputy in the Ohio system.

But here's where it gets interesting.

"Randle, 44, will take over as director of a 200-bed community correctional center for Oriana House Inc. which will open in Cleveland in January, Bernie Rochford, Oriana executive vice president, told the AP.

"The facility will be one of about 20 in Ohio where judges send mostly low-level violent offenders to keep them closer to home instead of shipping them to state prison, Rochford said.

"Rochford said he's aware of Randle's experience in Illinois but said his reputation is untainted in Ohio, where he was assistant director of the state Department of Rehabilitation and Correction."

Um, not quite. As the Beachwood reported in February, Randle was under investigation in Ohio when Pat Quinn snatched him away and brought him here. See The Prison Chief's Past.

Googleville
"News came this week that Google was putting $86 million into helping fund 480 low-income housing units across the Midwest and West Coast," Forbes reports.

"The developments are planned for Chicago; Apple Valley, Minn., a suburb of the Twin Cities; Des Moines, Iowa; Milwaukee, Wis.; and Fontana, Palm Springs and Salinas, California."

*

Can we put Google in charge of our parking meters and Taste of Chicago too? If we're gonna privatize everything, let's at least contract with a competent company. Google schools, anyone? (Google gangs?)

Onion or Reality?
"Some Chicago Dentist Is Running 'Hillary for 2012 Ads in New Orleans."

Reality.

The Week in WTF
Featuring Jody Weis, George Ryan, John Cusack, Exelon and Jerry Lewis.

Abusing Rachel
"Cajun Calvin 'Bo-Rail' Borel must go," writes our man on the rail Thomas Chambers.

"Now.

"After a full five days of dulling disappointment in Rachel Alexandra's loss in Saturday's Grade I Personal Ensign at Saratoga, another issue, one that gets little attention in this country, is the manner in which Borel 'urged' Rachel as they came down the stretch at The Spa.

"There are two other names for it. Whipping. Abuse."

Music Choice Trivia
New fun facts added about Twisted Sister, George Harrison, Diana Ross, Green Day and more!

The College Football Report
Will appear later this morning.

Publishing Note Reminder
Posting will be sporadic through the holiday weekend - which means you'll just have to keep coming back to see if we've got anything new!

You can also follow our wacky postings on Facebook and our absolutely hilarious Twitter feed.

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Sporadically useful.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:10 AM | Permalink

September 2, 2010

The Week in WTF

1. Jody Weis, WTF?

Chicago top cop Jody Weis has gone all Hill Street Blues with a secret summit to order the bad gang guys to stop the grotesque level of public killings. A little killing? Sure, we can deal with that. A few bodies of fellow bangers caught in the crossfire? Cost of doing business.

But, WTF, so many bodies of honor roll students on their way to Scout meetings or church is bad for business. Plus, even the TV stations and newspapers start to notice.

It's a question of orderly retail versus messy wholesale. So Captain Furillo has to gather Jesus Martinez, Tommy Mann and Ernesto to put the kibosh on the bloodbath. (WTF offers special coupons for those who can name the three actors who played the roles).

Weis gave the ganglords a "be good, or else" ultimatum. Apparently the "or else" is traffic tickets and general rousting. The penalty is to make the killers' lives, 'ya know, uncomfortable. They might even get really serious by applying federal racketeering laws (we'll repo the gold teeth and Escalades). Must have mislaid that law last year when we didn't care as much as we do now.

"They said they would get us if we don't stop the killing," said Labar "Bro Mann" Spann, erstwhile leader of the Four Corners Hustlers

If they stop killing people, the police also promise to help with jobs.

Jobs. JOBS? w-THE-f. Really?

If we had only known it was that easy to stop gang warfare.

Once this program works Weis plans to meet with Richie D., the Chicago City Council and the state Democrat leadership and order them all to stop the corruption. The cops can place Richie with a trash pickup crew in Millennium Park.

The worst effect of this from Weis's view is that it gives lowlifes like WGN-AM mushmouther Jim Laski (D-Convicted) a platform to call for his resignation. That truly is a WTF moment.

2. George Ryan, WTF?

The old guv wants to get out of prison - again, still? - because he was never guilty. NEVER! Or at least mostly not guilty.

Though, of course, he was guilty. In fact, in 2008 he admitted he was guilty of cheating Illinois out of honest government through a statement read by Jim Thompson.

You can understand that George doesn't think any prison time in Terre Haute is fair. I've been to Terre Haute. Sort of feel Bubba's pain.

But WTF, can't aging thieves just say that, yes, life sucks sometimes but on the other hand I was guilty and I got caught? He can wish other guilty people had been caught, but after benefiting from the breaks of privilege, power and perks for much of his public life, karma finally rose up and bit him on the ass.

If he offered the "my-ass-is-sore defense" and asked for forgiveness, mercy would be a reasonable counter-offer. But apparently he never really believed he was a crook and still doesn't.

3. John Cusack and Fox, WTF?

Erstwhile Chicagoan John Cusack (actually he's from Evanston, but that's close enough for government work) has gone verbally postal on Fox News. He seems to imply they are unfair. We here at WTF are all charter members of his Satanic Death Cult to be constructed on the stoop outside Fox's headquarters. Sounds like more fun than the Kiwanis.

Fox's DNA double helix apparently is missing the "it's a joke" gene. As Spock said: "Humor. A difficult concept."

Fox's response to Cusack is that - now pay really close attention - feeble-minded yahoos might be inspired to do violence by a politically driven activist who suggests he is on the side of righteousness and maybe even God.

WTF. Mr. Pot meet Mr. Kettle. "Say, aren't you black, too?" one says.

Personally, those of us here at WTF often have wondered why progressive/leftist/liberal/pinko aficionados haven't recruited a truly nutjob lefty to be their media pitchman.

Sort of an unfettered George Carlin version of Glenn Beck.

Progressives have a useless and unappealing need to appear as though they have facts and logic and, WTF, an occasional episode of reflective self-doubt. They even have a sense of humor about themselves. These are all useless qualities in the media sewer we are forced to endure these days. Let us all genuflect at the Altar of Cynicism.

Candidates for lefty pushback? Lewis Black is making too much cash on the HBO/standup circuit. Eddie Izzard can't give up drag. Al Franken got elected to the U.S. Senate and has to act all grown up or else the Republicans will call him a sissy. Howard Stern has been banished to outer space.

Doesn't Jon Stewart need an hour on MSNBC every night and a pre-emptive get-out-of-FCC-jail card to say "fuck"? You should not have to say the words "John Boehner" or "Mitch McConnell" or "Sean Hannity" and not get a free "fuck" in the same sentence. Just saying.

4. The MDA Telethon, WTF?

It's that time of year again for the Jerry Lewis telethon. But first . . . he's announced that he doesn't want Lindsay Lohan or Paris Hilton showing up for the soiree because they are bad role models.

Jerry Lewis clearly is the right guy to talk about proper standards for troubled brats. Notice how most of Jerry's family never shows up for the telethon? Let's just say that when Jer refers to his ailing poster children as "my kids," there are several men surnamed Lewis who mutter "better them than me."

5. Exelon, WTF?

Here's how corporate fundraising works for a more-or-less local energy company trying not to be left holding a big stinky sack of corporate tailings. Give to candidates who support your business, like now-jettisoned Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, but hedge the bet by buying businesses with a less visible carbon footprint - like wind energy.

So, Exelon gives $9,000 to Murkowski (in case the GOP takes the Senate and oil and coal are saved from the Democrats' hegemonic hordes) but then spends $900 million to buy Deere's wind energy company. (It Blows Like a Deere?) We can guess the conversation at Deere when their execs realized they know how to build green tractors and not much else.

If the GOP wins the Senate (WTF!) and Murkowski had survived, she wouldn't have been just any Republican. She would have been the chairwoman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Big wampum! If you could have bought her loyalty for $9,000, it was a swell investment.

-

David Rutter is the former publisher/editor of the Lake County News-Sun, a Sun-Times Media property.

-

Comments welcome.

-

Previously in The Week in WTF:
* TWIWTF: Walter Jacobson, Mark Kirk, the Sun-Times
* TWIWTF: Conrad Murray, Jim Laski, Notre Dame Nation
* TWIWTF: Chris Zorich, Eddie and Jobo, Blago.
* TWIWTF: Burge, Zambrano, Tyree
* TWIWTF: Pundits, LeBron James, Lake County
* TWIWTF: Stroger, Transformers, Six Flags
* TWIWTF: Blago, Channel 2, Cubs
* TWIWTF: Blago, Tribune, Big Z
* TWIWTF: Tribune, CPD, Sun-Times
* TWIWTF: Holdout Juror, Sam Zell, Rosty, Mike North

-

Also by David Rutter:
* The Lords of Ireland.

* Speaking of Notre Dame . . .

* Scheduling Notre Dame.

* Spade Robs Farley's Grave.

* Gov. Fester.

* Black Talks, Zell Walks.

* Roeper's Games.

-

Plus:
* An excerpt from Rutter's Olga's War

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:24 PM | Permalink

TrackNotes: Abusing Rachel

Cajun Calvin "Bo-Rail" Borel must go. Now.

After a full five days of dulling disappointment in Rachel Alexandra's loss in Saturday's Grade I Personal Ensign at Saratoga, another issue, one that gets little attention in this country, is the manner in which Borel "urged" Rachel as they came down the stretch at The Spa.

There are two other names for it. Whipping. Abuse.

To set the stage, a little handicapping is in order.

As post time approached, the race shaped up as a showdown between Rachel and Life At Ten, a quality 5-year-old mare with a 14-7-5-1 record and six straight wins coming in.

It was to be Rachel's biggest test of the year and would serve as an indicator of her race form in the weeks leading up to the Breeders' Cup. Common wisdom had it that she would not be able to last the classic distance of 10 furlongs, or 1-1/4 miles.

She didn't.

It was easy to see Rachel was ready to run. She blasted out of the gate and, lest she run away and hide, Life At Ten hustled to keep up. By the time they approached the clubhouse turn, the two were a full 10 lengths in front of the rest of the field.

They pretty much maintained the gap down the backstretch, running the first quarter-mile in 23.66 seconds and the half in 47.73. Very fast, but not suicidal. I remember thinking that unless Rachel was a bunch better than Life At Ten and they were both better than the rest of them, Rachel was not going to win this race.

As they came down the stretch and all the way to the wire, Rachel displayed once again her magnificent heart and that special intangible that elevates the true champions above the rest. But there was just one problem: Rachel Alexandra is not a racehorse that can comfortably get 10 furlongs.

Her best distance is 8.5 furlongs, or 1-1/16 miles, and 9 furlongs suits her well too. So at about the eighth pole, her fatigue began to show and she hit the proverbial wall, except she spent the next hundreds of yards getting through the wall. She never, ever quit.

Alan Garcia must have been thrilled when he saw the pace battle up front, and his Persistently dashed ahead of Rachel to win the race by a length. Life At Ten? Rachel dispatched her with crushing ease and she finished 10-1/4 lengths behind in third.

Another thought I had as they were coming down the stretch was: Must Borel keep hitting that horse when it's so obvious he's gotten, and she's given, everything she will have today? It was not making her go any faster.

In hindsight, most people could tell you Rachel was not going to get the distance. Paulick Report proprietor Ray Paulick called it the week before:

"[Life at Ten's] front-running style poses a serious challenge to Rachel Alexandra, and if these two somehow get caught up in a speed duel, don't be shocked if Persistently - from the Phipps Stable and trainer Shug McGaughey, who also trained Personal Ensign - comes running late. She has the only win over the Saratoga track this year, and though it was only in allowance company stranger things have happened at the Graveyard of Champions."

Rachel Alexandra's connections of owner Jess Jackson and trainer Steve Asmussen were pushing their luck in trying it. Were they experimenting to see how she'd handle 10 furlongs in anticipation of the Breeders' Cup Classic? If they were . . . well, I'm getting a little sick and tired of the way they are managing this wonderful mare.

Back to Borel; his performance in this race should have earned him a suspension and a fine. If this were most other countries in the racing world, it would have.

In watching the replay, I counted fully 18 times he either whipped Rachel on her front shoulder or on her rear hindquarters, or used the reins to slap her up front. And, as too many riders in America are wont to do, they were often wind-up-high and hit-her-hard slaps with a whip that has been banned in some other countries.

Other countries have adopted softer whips, limited the number of strikes allowed, and mandated that the elbow, forearm and hand do not rise above the jockey's shoulder. Jockeys are closely watched and these guidelines are applied. You abuse, you sit.

Hell, it seems the only time stewards appear to care about the treatment of the horses is when something extraordinary, like jockey Victor Molina kicking his horse after a race, occurs. Which was caught on television. Curiously, I was unable to find the video online, but I did see it when it happened.

I'm no expert, but I think Monty Roberts and he has a great analysis of the issue on his web site:

"Horses do not often think strongly about reproduction during a race, which leaves us with only one facet of a horse's existence, his goal to survive. Consider for a moment that we are human beings dealing with horses under circumstances extremely demanding and frightening to them. Knowing that they are vitally concerned with their own survival, we often conclude that the best course of action is to whip them and cause them pain in the hopes that it will get them to run faster.

"I submit that this is not only a bad decision from a humane standpoint, but a worse decision where its effect is concerned. Horses are animals. Their natural tendency is to push into pressure, like a child does biting on hard bread when cutting teeth. We may frighten a horse the first few times we whip him in a race, but very soon he may resent the whip and back-up to it, actually causing him to run more slowly."

I'm not going to get into the various issues of what is, in America, still a debate. But anyone watching the Personal Ensign on Saturday had to have seen that Borel was whipping the hell out of Rachel. Borel rode her as if he had a push-button machine. Did it not dawn on him, with all his years of experience, that her getting the distance was going to be iffy to begin with? Why did he seemingly try to style it and attempt to have Rachel wire the damn race?

Who knows, but you wonder if Rachel was thinking "Hey little man, what more do you want out of me?!"

It was as if he picked up the mount on an $8,000 claimer at the last minute. Shouldn't he know Rachel better than that by now?

Borel's conduct was all about himself, as it usually is.

Rachel Alexandra was competitively compromised by mere entry into a race of this nature and Borel did her no favors. Unfortunately, the Breeders' Cup will be held at Churchill Downs this year, a course where Borel is considered to have home-track advantage.

So unless Rachel mule-kicks Jackson and Asmussen in their skulls to get their brains operating again, it would appear Borel finishes out what will likely be two more races in Rachel's career.

If only Rachel Alexandra could whip a little sense and a little compassion into those three homonids.

-

Thomas Chambers is our man on the rail. He brings you TrackNotes (nearly) every Friday. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:03 PM | Permalink

The [Thursday] Papers

I haven't had a chance to watch Chicago police Supt. Jody Weis's appearance on Chicago Tonight last night yet, but my initial instinct is that, unlike what some griping aldermen are saying, Weis and Daley are right about meeting with gang leaders. It seems to me that there are times when you have to go to the people responsible for so much havoc in the city and say, effectively, cool it. It's in everyone's best interests; gang leaders don't want the heat that heightened public sensitivity brings anymore than the police want the public all up in their behinds. A useful exchange of information could also take place; what's behind the current violence, police may ask, and is there anything we can do to help tamp things down?

Doing that doesn't have to signify any level of acceptance or condoning gang behavior, but if lines of communication can be opened and the cops aren't ham-handed or foolish about it, that's for the best.

My one reservation, though, is that this is being driven by awful reporting. We aren't experiencing a surge in violence no matter how many times the media keeps reporting that we are. Daley and Weis are right about this, too.

My instinct is that this meeting took place because of a PR nightmare brought upon the city as a result of that horrid reporting - national and international outlets have been doing stories all summer now about the purported wave of violence here - and was then leaked to let the public know the city is "doing something."

I could be wrong about that - it's a controversial measure to take and then leak - but those are my initial thoughts.

Manny Vision
I know it's a big and inappropriate leap from youth violence to Manny Ramirez, but I just don't understand - still - why my profession sucks so bad. Oh, I have a few ideas. Some concrete theories, actually, about why journalism is in such disrepair. And by that, I don't mean the business models but the actual quality of reporting, which no one seems to want to talk about.

Here's what the Tribune's David Haugh wrote on Tuesday:

"Perhaps Ramirez will generate more buzz Friday night in Boston than he did in his first major-league city, where only 12,006 showed up."

Numbers are rarely meaningful if not presented with something to compare them to. Is 12,006 bad?

Well, the night before the Indians drew 10,633. Haugh didn't tell you that - probably because he didn't bother to check.

And on Wednesday, the first game Ramirez actually started, the Indians drew 12,563 for an afternoon game.

If Manny is good for an extra 2,000 fans on the road and twice that at home, you can see how his salary gets pretty close to being offset in a hurry. If Haugh's point was that Ramirez wouldn't be a draw.

But then, you can always find someone to validate your premise if you ask enough people.

"It was amusing to ask a group of teenagers holding tickets along Ontario Street if they were excited to see Manny Ramirez again," Haugh wrote.

"Who?' said a boy wearing a Browns cap. 'We're here for the Jonas Brothers.'

"That concert played at adjacent Quicken Loans Arena. Across the street, there was no question who was starring in the debut of a Ken Williams production unlike any other."

Ramirez last played for Cleveland in 2000. If the boys Haugh stopped on the street - identified only as "teenagers" - were, say, 15, that means they were five when Manny last wore an Indians uniform. See Manny again? They probably didn't see him the first time.

The Tribune's Dan Pompei also made a fool of himself talking about Manny on Chicago Tribune Live on Wednesday.

The Sox had just won another game with a home run hit while Manny was on-deck. In baseball parlance, he was "protecting" the batter at the plate because pitchers who would rather not face Manny could no longer pitch around, say, Paul Konerko and go after a weakling like Mark Kotsay instead. So:

POMPEI: I just don't understand how he makes this team better.

HOST DAVID KAPLAN: He makes them better just by standing in the on-deck circle!

It's also hard to see how Pompei can't see that Manny's numbers are significantly better than the team's other DHs.

But then, Pompei, who like Haugh and the crime reporters in town and their editors, make a lot more money than I do, can't be bothered to look up the stats.

POMPEI: What's he hitting this year?

What, you don't read your own paper?

POMPEI: This is not the Manny who's going to hit .340 with 40 home runs.

KAPLAN: You don't know that!

Besides, Mark Kotsay isn't the Manny who's going to hit .340 with 40 home runs either. But Manny's current numbers over a full season would equal 101 RBIs. Not good enough for you?

The floundering Pomei then attacked Manny for not getting his long braids cut. Kaplan pointed out that just that day Manny said he was flying in his personal barber cut his hair.

POMPEI: That's a bad indicator, that he's not willing to go along with the team. Can you imagine Ted Williams saying 'I have to have my personal barber come in?'

You mean the Ted Williams who refused to tip his cap to Boston fans?

Besides that, I don't understand how reporters can be on the side of White Sox management's policy demanding short hair. What is this, 1950? Let the man wear his hair whatever way he wants. This isn't the Army.

Minor Threat
"A Chicago Reporter analysis of court data found that 17-year-olds convicted of felonies defy the perception of some that these teens are violent criminals who deserve to be punished alongside adults," the Chicago Reporter reports. "A majority, 54 percent, of 17-year-olds prosecuted in Cook County's adult courts were convicted for drug deals and property theft alone, according to the analysis.

"Of all the convictions, 58 percent were for nonviolent offenses. Include robbery without a gun, and nonviolent offenses are 71 percent of all convictions. The single largest number of convictions was based on low-level drug offenses.

"An overwhelming majority of these 17-year-olds . . . are black - 77 percent. And most hail from just five impoverished areas, some of which are home to the highest long-term unemployment rates in the country - including Austin, Humboldt Park, North Lawndale, Roseland and West Englewood.

"Once these teens were charged and their cases headed to court, the odds were they'd plead guilty and end up with an adult felony conviction, regardless of whether they had a private lawyer or public defender, according to the analysis."

Thank you, Chicago Reporter, for actually doing your job well. The news is depressing, but the work is inspiring.

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Inspire us.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:19 AM | Permalink

September 1, 2010

The [Wednesday] Papers

"The FBI thinks two men arrested in Amsterdam after suspicious items were found in the luggage of one of the men were probably not on a test run for a future terror attack, a U.S. official said Tuesday," AP reports.

Usually I'm skeptical of reports that smack of alarmism, but in this case I find myself leaning the other way. After all:

"Transportation Security Administration screeners found suspicious items in his bag: a cell phone taped to a Pepto-Bismol bottle, multiple cell phones and watches taped together, and a knife and boxcutter, according to another U.S. official who had been briefed on the investigation."

A cell phone taped to a Pepto-Bismol bottle?

"The bizarre incident began Sunday when bundles of wristwatches and cellphones stuffed inside Al Soofi's suitcase - a combination that could be used to simulate a bomb in a dry run - were spotted by airport screeners working for the Transportation Security Administration in Birmingham, Ala," the Tribune reports.

"But the items were deemed no threat to safety or security, officials said, and the bag and its owner were allowed to fly to Chicago."

Geez, I saw a woman at O'Hare a couple weeks ago forced to give up her contact lens solution because of the size of the container - and there wasn't even a watch taped to it!

Screeners at O'Hare allowed Al Soofi and the other man now being questioned to then fly on to Washington, D.C., apparently without having to even give up their box cutters.

"Other potential red flags included $7,000 in cash that Al Soofi was carrying and a final destination that is a terrorist breeding ground. Top U.S. officials have repeatedly warned about al-Qaeda-linked militants in Yemen."

And apparently intelligence suggests that contact lens solution on the way to Minneapolis is a threat.

The Detroit Free Press tries to help with a story titled "Making Sense Of Terror Scare." As always, a story with that headline makes a promise it doesn't fulfill. The piece also saved the questions first and foremost on everyone's minds for last:

Q: Is it unusual for travelers to bundle items together in their luggage? A cell phone taped to a Pepto-Bismol bottle, three cell phones taped together and several watches taped into a bundle were found in al Soofi's luggage and initially raised concerns.

A: According to Transportation Security Administration officials, it isn't unusual for travelers to bind items so they don't get lost or otherwise misplaced in transit. And, according to Yemen's consul general in Detroit, Abdul-Hakim Al-Sadah, it is common for Yemeni Americans to travel with such items when visiting family members because they are often gifts.

Q: What about the knife and box cutter found in al Soofi's luggage?

A: "I have no idea" what they might have been for, Al-Sadah said.

Q: With suspicious-looking items found in al Soofi's luggage in the U.S., why didn't authorities here detain them instead of letting them fly to Amsterdam and asking the Dutch to do it?

A: "The items were not deemed to be dangerous in and of themselves," the Department of Homeland Security said in a statement Monday.

What?!

For the first time I might truly be frightened by the terrorist threat. You get the feeling that those employed in our security sector arrive at work every morning in tiny cars and exit by the bunchful wearing floppy shoes.

Lottoriffic
"State officials have set a meeting for Sept. 8 to discuss Illinois' groundbreaking foray into allowing a private company to manage the state lottery," the Decatur Herald-Review reports.

"On Monday, as expected, the Illinois Department of Revenue named two foreign-owned firms as finalists for what could be a pact earlier described by one state official as the largest in state history.

"The companies are the Camelot Group, a Canadian-owned firm that operates the national lottery in the United Kingdom, and a consortium of companies called Northstar Lottery Group.

"Northstar is composed of Gtech Corp., Scientific Games Corp. and Energy BBDO, each of which already has a stake in operating the Illinois lottery. Gtech is a subsidiary of Italian lottery operator Lottomatica."

Okay, I'm not fond of the lottery and I'm not a raging nationalist and I realize that if an Illinois company was to win this contract it would be a porked-up indictment waiting to happen, but can't we use some stimulus money or something to put Americans to work here?

Yes, these companies will merely manage the lottery and probably employ locals to help out - and let me admit here that I'm writing this one with a fair amount of ignorance, I haven't done much research - but doesn't it seem like this will be case of money leeching out of the country through a crooked scheme to tax the poor and dumb through a fake game put in place because pols don't have the courage to raise taxes? And if that's the case, shouldn't the money at least go into the dirty pockets of fellow Illinoisans instead of dirty . . . um . . . furriners?

The Dutch are apparently already running our airport security. What's next, Italy running Taste of Chicago?

Meanwhile, we're still running two wars.

*

I do hope the lottery contract goes to the Italians, though, because it's fun to say Lottomatica.

*

A cell phone taped to Pepto-Bismol? To warm it up? Somebody help me here.

Fantasy Fix
Add Dan O'Shea to the roster of Beachwood writers (see No. 2) who are a pleasure to read even if you don't closely follow their content area.

I stopped playing fantasy football years ago, just because of the time-consumption, but Dan's weekly Fantasy Fix column is still a must-read to help keep up on the world of sports and gain insight from an expert. I'm proud that we offer smart, witty, quality writing on this site on a broad array of topics that somehow still tie together. Go Beachwood!

Anyway, this week Dan presents us with his list of NFL sleepers to look for - including a Bear - and predicts Manny Ramirez's output as a White Sock.

Publishing Note
Between now and through the Labor Day weekend we'll continue to post but things may get a bit thin and sketchy here and there depending on how much energy I have; I'm pre-occupied with some other Beachwood-related business and I've got to find a way to prioritize. So bear with us. Or send money.

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Will listen for food.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:01 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: Awaken The Sleepers

I feel like I've done pretty well in the past with fantasy football sleeper picks, choosing guys like Darren Sproles, Johnny Knox and Rashard Mendenhall before they blew up on the general radar. This year, I'm having some trouble finding those diamonds in the rough.

Maybe it's because there's so much fantasy football intelligence out there that few stones remain unturned.

Everyone, for example, seems to know that Houston running back Arian Foster is the next unheralded player soon to be the next big thing. While having lunch at Small Bar on Division Street recently, a guy at the next table saw me and a friend studying our fantasy player rankings, leaned over and said, "Two words, guys: Arian Foster."

But Foster went in the second round in a recent draft I participated in; that's no sleeper pick.

Here, then, are my bona fide sleeper picks at key positions:

QB: Derek Anderson, Arizona.

I think he'll beat out Matt Leinart to become the starter, and despite the departure of Anquan Boldin, he still has Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Breaston and Early Doucet to work with. He went from great to terrible in Cleveland, but I feel like he's somewhere in between.

RB: Jahvid Best, Detroit.

The rookie is not getting the notice of Ryan Mathews or C.J. Spiller, but he should be an important weapon in the budding Lions offense, both running and catching the ball. Beanie Wells of the Cardinals was a close runner up.

WR: Devin Aromashodu, Chicago.

He may not seem like a sleeper, but outside of Chicago, I don't think many people are aware of what he can do. While the Bears' offense has looked terrible in pre-season, I think he'll be Jay Cutler's emergency receiver - and Cutler may end up in a lot of emergencies.

TE: Dustin Keller, NY Jets.

Might have made a lot of sleeper lists last year. He probably won't be picked in many drafts, but 522 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns last season, plus increasing attention from QB mark Sanchez this pre-season suggest his stock is rising.

Expert Wire
* First Down has everything you need to know about Arian Foster - if you somehow haven't heard it all by now.

* Bleacher Report has its own list of sleepers, starting with Matt Moore, the new starting QB for Carolina.

* FanHouse looks at wannabe sleeper Kareem Huggins, who may benefit from RB Derrick Ward being cut in Tampa.

* SB Nation makes the case for Detroit's Calvin Johnson finishing as the top fantasy WR this year.

Manny Ball
It looks like the Sept. 1 waiver trade deadline will pass without much fantasy relevance. There have been a number of deals the last few days, but mostly involving insignificant names - oh, except for the Manny Ramirez deal.

Despite a fairly lame, injury-shortened season (though he still is hitting above .300), Ramirez, like practically any hitter, stands to gain from hitting American League pitching and playing home games at U.S. Cellular Field.

My prediction for his performance the final month of the season: .325 batting average, 6 HRs, 20 RBIs.

-

Dan O'Shea's Fantasy Fix appears in this space every Wednesday. He welcomes your comments. 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 7:32 AM | Permalink

MUSIC - Christgau Loves Chicago Neonatologist.
TV - Amazon & The Way Of The World.
POLITICS - Yes On Vouchers For After-School Programs.
SPORTS - The Ex-Cub Factor.

BOOKS - Writers Under Surveillance.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Original Warrior.


Search The Beachwood Reporter

Subscribe To Our Newsletter
Email:

Follow BeachwoodReport on Twitter



Beachwood Radio!


Ask Me Anything!