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« November 2021 | Main

December 29, 2021

The World's Greatest College Football Report Pt. 5: Lunch Pails, Cheez-Its, Webfoots & Our New COVID Toteboard!

New Era Pinstripe Bowl
Maryland Terrapins (6-6) vs. Virginia Tech Hokies (6-6)
December 29, 1:15 p.m.
Yankee Stadium
Bronx, New York

The game has potential but the Pinstripe Bowl never delivers much of note. Since its inception in 2010, the Pinstripe Bowl has been affiliated with a number of conferences but now has a simpler tie-in: two mediocre teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference and the Big Ten.

Some intrigue does kick in when the Big Ten team is a powerhouse down on its luck. Recent Big Ten conference reps have included Iowa, Wisconsin and Michigan State, names we associate with New Year's Day, not the Wednesday after Christmas. (The ACC has sent the likes of Duke, Miami, Boston College, and Wake Forest. Not exactly a murderer's row.)

The ACC-Big Ten match-up has only featured a ranked team once - in the 2016 edition, #23 Pittsburgh lost to Northwestern in a fitting conclusion to a bizarre season for the Wildcats. If we had a larger staff, we could list all the teams to start a season by dropping two games at home including a loss to an FCS team and yet still go on to win a bowl game against a ranked team, but the intern quit. Let's just all agree that it would be a short list. A very short list.

This year doesn't bring much razzle-dazzle apart from the setting. Yankee Stadium is a tight squeeze for a football field. The endzone corners are treacherous (note the seating map) but the setting is spectacular nonetheless.

The Pinstripe Bowl is also only one of four bowl games played outdoors in what's considered a "cold weather" stadium. Wednesday looks rainy in New York with temps in the mid-40s and a steady drizzle, which would make for an awful commute if anyone commuted anywhere beyond downstairs but sounds like good football weather.

Between the weather and the baggage both teams drag into New York, the game could get messy. The Terrapins broke out of the gate fast in 2021, going undefeated in its first four, but didn't beat a team with a winning record after September. The Hokies stumbled to 5-5 before turfing head coach Justin Fuente.

In firing Fuente, Virginia Tech jumped into what became a fierce competition among power conference schools seeking new leadership. Openings at flagship programs like Notre Dame, USC, Florida and LSU made for a hot market. The craze exposed more cracks in hiring and recruiting practices in what became a land grab for transfer portal talent, early recruiting season commitments, signing and re-signing big-name coaches. The first-mover advantage to fast-acting schools proved valuable enough to even make outbidding NFL teams for coaches a possibility. Like Christmas, firing season in college is creeping up the calendar. Schools have realized that retaining early commitments and enticing new prospects means putting on a show, with new coaching hires at center stage.

The Hokies took defensive coordinator Brent Fry from Penn State in a nice bit of karma. Fry served as an assistant under the architect of Virginia Tech's famous "Lunch Pail Defense." Coordinator Bud Foster ran the defense for over 30 years, retiring at the time as the longest-serving college assistant head coach. That may make for a brighter future, but it's going to be a long night in the Bronx. The Hokies lost both its starting and back-up quarterbacks to the transfer portal along with numerous others, plus several starters will be sitting out in advance of the NFL draft. Maryland's passing attack puts up big numbers, good for 13th in the country, which should bring the Hokies season to a merciful end.

Maybe Fry will bring back the Lunch Pail for the game to fire up the defense. Virginia Tech, seemingly ignorant of the power of pageantry in college football, announced plans in 2020 to phase out the battered bucket. Bring back the bucket, Brent!

Our pick: in a toss-up between playing Maryland (-3) or the under, we will bet on the total falling short. Under 55.

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Cheez-It Bowl
#19 Clemson Tigers (9-3) vs. Iowa State Cyclones (7-5)
December 29, 4:45 p.m.
Camping World Stadium
Orlando, FL

The Cheez-It Bowl embodies the beautiful simplicity of bowl season. What game is it? The Cheez-It Bowl. Who sponsors the game? Cheez-It. Does the game have anything to do with anything? No. Pass the Cheez-Its.

The Cheez-It Bowl began life as the Sunshine Classic but took on the lead sponsor's name beginning with Blockbuster in 1990 to Cheez-It as of 2020. The utter lack of identity and continuity fits with the corporate element of bowl season. Finally, the location is perfect. Of course, it's in Orlando. There is no better place for the Sponsor's Name Here Bowl.

Perhaps Cheez-It will mark a new beginning. Can the snackmakers of America unite behind a single idea? An annual bowl game treating viewers to the latest in snacking innovation is what we need as a country. Tell us all about Snap'd®, Duoz® and Grooves®. Cheddar comes in Scorchin' Hot now? Cheez-It has mashed up Caramel Popcorn and Cheddar? How are we going to choose from the 21 different flavors of Cheez-It without this information?

(That said, there will have to be transparency measures put into place. Fans should know which company makes the snacks, for example. For those of you keeping your boycott lists current, note that the Kellogg Company makes Cheez-It under its Sunshine Biscuits division.)

Thanks to Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney, we might see a new tradition emerging to give the build-up to gameday some flair. Swinney threw down the gauntlet in what was apparently the inaugural Worst Press Conference Look Face-Off. Dabo debuted his Highway Mowing Guy Orange onesie for the occasion and Tigers Twitter about lost its mind.

Onesies aside, this isn't the Clemson of last season. The departure of star QB and #1 overall draft pick Trevor Lawrence left a huge hole his replacement has struggled to fill. The Tigers eventually pulled it together after a choppy start beginning with a brutal 10-3 loss to Georgia to kick off the year. Clemson comes in riding a five-game winning streak with a combined score of 152-58 while Iowa State will be trying to replace All-American running back Breece Hall. Rather than focus, at least for the moment, on the wave of stars like Hall sitting out the postseason, let's watch for players like Iowa State junior running back Jirehl Brock. After watching Hall take almost all the snaps this year, Brock has a chance to prove why he merited a Top 20 position ranking nationally in his class as a recruit.

Our pick: We will be rooting for Brock to shine but Clemson (-2.5) has too much talent and depth.

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Valero Alamo Bowl
#14 Oregon (10-3) vs. #16 Oklahoma (10-2)
December 29, 8:15 p.m.
Alamodome
San Antonio, TX

Now here is a proper bowl game: the Alamo Bowl, played in the Alamodome in San Antonio, home of the Alamo. San Antonio likes to promote the River Walk as a tourist destination. This is true, but only if you're looking for a shallow trickle of water running through a concrete culvert choked with tangled bead necklaces and plastic cups for Margaritas By The Yard. It might not be so bad if the River Walk wasn't in Texas, which is so broken people were scooping up water from the river during the utility collapse earlier this year. But here we are!

Oregon wised up for this one and picked special uniforms that won't, in contrast to many worn by the Ducks, sear your retinas.

The rest of the product on the field for Oregon isn't so bad either. In typical fashion for the Webfoots, the team seemed destined for the playoffs after beating favorite Ohio State early. Two losses to #23 Utah, in the regular season and again in the Pac-12 championship game, torpedoed any chance of the playoffs leaving a short-staffed OU to sort out its own coaching situation after HC Mario Cristobal took his talents to the 'Canes in South Beach.

The best storyline for the Alamo Bowl involves former Oklahoma head coach and legend Bob Stoops, who took the Sooners to a BCS National Championship in 1999 in only his second season. Stoops finished his career in 2016 with a 190-48 record overall, including dominant seasons in-conference (eight years with only one loss at most) in what used to be the highly competitive Big 12. Hot young head coach Lincoln Riley peaced out for Southern California (and a big payday) abruptly in November leaving the stunned Sooners rudderless. The sky was falling for OU fans.

A few days later, Stoops shared the stage in a presser announcing his return, albeit only for this bowl, as head ballcoach. In stark contrast to the hysteria from a whirling coaching carousel, Stoops' comments on the matter hearken back to an earlier age: "You guys win and lose. You're OU football. He isn't. I'm not. And any other coach who comes here isn't. OU football has been here a long time. And it isn't going anywhere else." Hot damn. Just reading quotes from Stoops is enough to give you goosebumps. Here's to seeing his trademark visor on the sideline Wednesday.

Our pick: Boomer Sooner to cover the number (-7) in a throwback game.

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The COVID Toteboard

With the cancellation of today's Wasabi Fenway Bowl, the tally of games scratched due to COVID has reached five. (Also including the Holiday, Arizona, Military, and Hawaii Bowls.) For tomorrow's games, we have the odds of cancellation at:

Duke's Mayo Bowl: 20-1
The game matches up North Carolina against South Carolina, not the best combo for CDC compliance.

TransPerfect Music City Bowl: 50-1
People will riot if the Music City Bowl is canceled. There is literally nothing else to do for tourists in Nashville this time of year. Or ever, really, outside of live music. The other highly rated attractions include a Parthenon knock-off, someplace called Andrew Jackson's Hermitage, and God protect you, the Grand Ol' Opry.

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl: 100-1
This is a goodie: #12 Pitt squares off against #10 Michigan State in what should be an interesting match-up between two good, not great, but good, squads. Plus, it's the Peach Bowl. Lots of history here.

SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl: 10-1
Mouth-breathing Badgers fans have descended on Sin City, and if the team hotel isn't already a giant petri dish, it will be by kickoff.

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Mike Luce is the world's greatest college football writer. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:51 PM | Permalink

December 22, 2021

The World's Greatest College Football Report Bowl Series 2021 Pt. 4: Hell's Half Acre

Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl
Missouri Tigers (6-6) vs. Army Black Knights (8-4)
December 22, 7 p.m.
Fort Worth, Texas

Contractual arrangements for The Armed Forces Bowl nearly guarantee at least one service academy makes an appearance in Fort Worth. Contractual tie-ins with the American Athletic Conference (Navy), the Mountain West Conference (Air Force) and Army (independent) open a slot for at least one of those schools unless each falls short of bowl eligibility. The bowl uses the Amon G. Carter Stadium, home field of TCU and fondly referred to by Horned Frogs fans as "Hell's Half Acre." The nickname speaks to TCU's home-field advantage. It's a thing. There are tapestries.

Sitting on the campus of Texas Christian University makes Hell's Half Acre an awkward nickname. In the 19th Century, as Fort Worth boomed from a frontier cowtown to a rowdy metropolis. The lower end of town became known as a den of "gunmen, highway robbers, card sharks, con men, and shady ladies." The rapscallions of the Half Acre preyed on cowpokes stopping for a rest from the trails across Texas and Kansas, fleecing the noobs at the tables and in the brothels. If plain vanilla robbery didn't cut it, gunfights and murders sufficed. The 20th Century brought Prohibition and crackdowns on good times but the name persists in local lore.

Our pick: The Black Knights return to this den of iniquity again after wrecking Houston 70-14 in 2018. While the Tigers limp into Fort Worth with a middling .500 record, Army only lost the games you'd expect. Apart from a hiccup against Ball State and the toss-out-the-records loss in the Army-Navy game, the Cadets posted a solid record and rightly merit the -6.5 edge. Mizzou's uphill slog against Army's stout defense (ranked 13th nationally) won't be any easier now that starting 'backer and SEC-leading rusher Tyler Badie is out. Missouri head coach Eli Drinkwitz made the tough call to sit Badie for the game, citing his concern for protecting the future of his players. In another questionable roster move, redshirt freshman quarterback will get the nod for his first career start. Vegas took note, to say the least. After opening with Army as a four-point favorite, the line has skyrocketed and even so looks a little soft.

Army Black Knights in a rout (-6.5)

Google searches for today's game included, among others:

Correction: The signature call of the Road Runner is "Beep-Beep!" not "Meep Meep!" as previously reported. We regret the error.

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Mike Luce is the world's greatest college football writer. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:48 AM | Permalink

The World's Greatest College Football Report Bowl Series 2021 Pt 3: Victory Fries & Mushy Bananas

Here is a look back at Tuesday's action. Next up: some orb pondering for a few upcoming bowls on the remaining slate of 44 games. Forty-four games. To watch all 44 bowl games you would need to put in about three weeks' worth of work. Not as in the bowls will span three weeks, but as in it will take 17 days of watching nine hours per day to watch every hour of every bowl game.

(As it happens, we modeled the Watching Two Hogsheads Of College Football requirement in the College Football Report syllabus around the bowl season. How people treat a syllabus should be a defining characteristic. Is it buried in early strata at the bottom of a backpack? Coffee stained? Folded neatly, placed into a coursebook and never seen again? Hole-punched and laminated? As for the College Football Report syllabus, it is posted online. The URL is broken but that is fine because nobody reads those things now anyway.)

The Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
Kent State Golden Flashes (7-6) vs Wyoming (6-6) Cowboys
December 21
Boise, ID
Final: Wyoming 52, Kent State 38
ATS: Wyoming -3, O/U: Over (60.5)

This year's edition of the Potato Bowl featured two teams with underwhelming records but intriguing pedigrees. Kent State took its lumps but went home with the cash: before conference play began, the Flashes went on the road three of four weeks to visit #6 Texas A&M, #5 Iowa, and Maryland. Forged from the fires of College Station, Iowa City, and College Park, and flush with $5.25 million in payouts, Kent State went on a tear: the Flashes won six of eight in the remainder.

The championship game loss to NIU for the MAC title must have taken some air out because the Wyoming Cowboys ran away with the Potato Bowl. But what could Kent State have expected? Big signs reading "Welcome, sonny?" "Make yourself at home?" and "Marry my daughter?" The Famous Idaho Potato Bowl is played in Boise, Idaho, which is the capital city in the state of Idaho. Do you know the state dance of Idaho? It's the square dance. Do you know who enjoys a good square dance? Cowboys.

And enjoy it they did. Entering the second half leading 28-24, the Cowboys reeled off three straight touchdowns to pull away. A wild fourth quarter saw both teams combine for touchdown plays of 80, 71, 62 and 73 yards. Despite racking up a bowl-record 656 yards of offense, Kent State just couldn't keep up. Sadly, the visual nightmare of the Potato Bowl likely had most flipping to pretty much anything else. Both teams sported gold uniforms which wildly clashed with the Smurf Turf of Albertson's Field.

Thus few took in the victorious Cowboys dumping a Gatorade tub of french fries onto head coach Craig Bohl. Wyoming is now 2-0 in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. The Cowboys defeated Central Michigan in a 2017 match-up that was also hard to watch.

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Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl
University of Texas San Antonio Roadrunners (12-1) vs San Diego State Aztecs (11-2)
December 21
Frisco, TX
Final: San Diego State 38, UTSA 24
ATS: San Diego State -3, O/U: Over (48.5)

The Frisco Bowl went down in Frisco this year, brought to us by Tropical Smoothie Cafe. Why Tropical? Why not just Smoothie Cafe? Who isn't sold on plain old smoothie cafes but goes buck wild over a Tropical Smoothie Cafe? Is the reference to the tropics supposed to stir a sense of the exotic? Something forbidden? Here's a better idea for a differentiated brand: Taboo Smoothie Cafe. Imagine the possibilities.

Why another smoothie chain at all? What happened to Jamba Juice? Isn't Jamba fulfilling our craving for blended food?

Perhaps Jamba lost some of its je ne sais quoi following its acquisition by Focus Brands in 2018. Jamba joined the Focus portfolio of mediocre-to-bad chain restaurants alongside Schlotzsky's, Carvel, Cinnabon, Moe's Southwest Grill, McAlister's Deli, and Auntie Anne's. But the real problem with Jamba is more subtle. The chain lacks a signature scent. Anyone who has stepped off the plane in the United Terminal of La Guardia to be assaulted by the aroma of Auntie Anne's can testify. Something about the swirl of stale sweat, spilled coffee and warming pretzels make for a mix that can't be described and must be experienced.

Others in the Focus family can pump out wafts of sticky cinnamon, Tex-Mex and toasted sandwiches. What connotes tropical smoothies? Mushy bananas?

Whatever it is, the Aztecs dig it. UTSA was the sexy pick, boasting a 9-4 record against the spread and a scrappy Little Guy attitude. But the bloom came off fast. Five Roadrunners opted out of the game, including the conference Offensive Player of the Year. Stud junior RB Sincere McCormick was among the no-shows. His presence was missed.

What Could Have Been:

San Diego State led the way in every category, including first downs, rushing and passing yards, time of possession, turnovers and penalties. The latter is not the way you want to lead the game in penalties. It's a minor miracle the Aztecs pulled off the win while drawing 14 penalties for 124 yards. SDSU committed two unnecessary roughness penalties and a personal foul which is -45 yards alone. Typically racking up penalty yards in the triple digits costs you a W but not in this case as the Roadrunners were close behind with nine for 80 yards. Maybe next year, UTSA. "Meep, meep!"

Google searches for Tuesday's action included, among others:

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Mike Luce is the world's greatest college football writer. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:36 AM | Permalink

December 18, 2021

The World's Greatest College Football Report, Bowl Series Pt. 2: Stomping James Carville

RoofClaim.com Boca Raton Bowl
Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (8-5) vs. Appalachian State Mountaineers (10-3)
December 18, 10 a.m.
Boca Raton, FL

RoofClaim.com is among the more boring sponsors this year. ("We Handle Your Roof Replacement From Start To Finish And We Will Do A Great Job Scamming Your Insurance Company!") But give the organizers credit for an awesome website. There are pictures of Appalachian State players frolicking in the surf! There is a menu! (Complete with recipes.)

A beatdown by FAU on the Akron Zips in the 2017 Cheribundi Tart Cherry edition of the Boca Raton Bowl earned the Owls a signature appetizer: the "FAU Signature Talon Sliders." The Talon Sliders recipe does double-duty because you also get instructions for making Crispy Onions and Tomato Jam. Mmm, tomato jam.

As for the game, we love the Hilltoppers. Our unabashed affection for the 'Toppers starts and ends with team mascot Big Red. For those unfamiliar, picture a bright red sporty version of Grimace. The two must share a bloodline.

Buzzkills slam Big Red for all manner of reasons. He (it?) doesn't have anything to do with football, has no relation to Western Kentucky in particular, and doesn't better our understanding of what "Hilltopper" means. These killjoys are missing the point. The pageantry and traditions of college football follow no rules. In large part, the utter chaos of team names, nicknames, mascots and battle cries stems from days long gone.

For example, look at Georgia Tech. The mascot - the Ramblin' Wreck - is an old car. Time permitting, we'll unravel the weird backstory behind the nickname and mascot. An engineering project in the 19th Century features prominently.

Our pick: Let's not overlook the landform battle Boca has teed up for us: Which is a mightier, a hill or a mountain? Or, more precisely, who is tougher, mountain climbers or people who top hills?

Here's the thing: Mountain climbers use safety gear. Topping a hill only requires shoes. And, Kentucky being Kentucky, shoes are optional. Not only for topping hills, as Louisville law firm and DUI defense specialists Suhre & Associates point out, but also for driving - there is no statute on the books in the Commonwealth State prohibiting an individual from driving while barefoot. We expect the confidence of donning both shoes and protective equipment will propel Big Red to victory.

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (+2.5)

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Google searches for this pick included:

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PUBG Mobile New Mexico Bowl
University of Texas El Paso Miners vs. Fresno State Bulldogs (9-3)
December 18, 1:15 p.m.
Albuquerque, NM

"Player Unknown Battlegrounds" should be abbreviated PUB. Why PUBG? Our guess is trolls, sensing an opportunity to do what trolls do, would otherwise shorten Player Unknown Battlegrounds to PÜBs.

The victors in this one will claim a homemade hand-painted piece of pottery commemorating the win - a vase or jar or urn or something - which features the PUBs logo. So that's a little bit of unique flair but not enough to pique our curiosity.

Our pick: We are giving the UTEP Miners an edge because New Mexico borders Texas and the New Mexico Bowl will be played in New Mexico.

University of Texas El Paso Miners +11.5

Google searches for this item included:

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Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl
The University of Alabama at Birmingham (8-4) vs. Brigham Young University (10-2)
December 18, 2:30 p.m.
Shreveport, LA

Once the infamous Weed Eater Bowl, and later the Duck Commander Bowl, the Independence Bowl has been in Shreveport since 1976, while Radiance Technologies has only been around since 1999, so score one for freedom. On the other hand, Radiance is 100% employee-owned, which is more than we can say for America. Shreveport is also a lot closer to Birmingham than BYU (though the Cougars "travel well"), so it's more of a homeish game for the Blazers (yes, Birmingham is named after a style of coat, though the school claims its mascot is a dragon named Blazer, presumably for the alliteration. (Bulls was taken.)

Our pick: Radiance Technologies features Concepts to Capabilities, which is also what BYU's offense does. Unfortunately for the Cougars, this is also what Birmingham's defense does.

Sophomore running back Tyler Allgeier is the X Factor for the Cougars and the man we're betting on to win the war for independence by not only sealing the game in the fourth quarter but declaring for the NFL draft shortly thereafter.

Brigham Young Cougars (+6.5)

Google searches for this pick included:

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LendingTree Bowl
Eastern Michigan Eagles (7-5) vs. Liberty Flames (7-5)
December 18, 4:45 p.m.
Mobile, AL

All the jokes are taken by now, but our first instinct was to wonder if the winner of the LendingTree Bowl gets to foreclose on the loser. And foreclosing on Liberty seems apt these days, both figuratively and literally. Or vice versa. (Previous sponsors of this bowl form a nice arc of recent American economic history: GMAC, GoDaddy, and Dollar General.)

Liberty University, of course, is one of America's most noxious institutions of higher learning. It's almost impossible to root for the Flames to win anything anywhere - almost, because we're open to exploiting opportunity in the betting lines anywhere we can find it, no matter how hard Eastern Michigan makes it for us

Our pick: The Flames come into this bowl on a 3-game losing streak while the Eagles struggle to score and struggle to not get scored upon. Turnovers keep the game close, which is bad for Liberty but good for us.

Eastern Michigan Eagles -10

Google searches for this pick included:

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Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl Presented by Stifel
Utah State Aggies (10-3) vs. Oregon State Beavers (7-5)
December 18, 6:30 p.m.
Inglewood, CA

This game sounds like fun until you find out that Stifel "is a diversified global wealth management and investment banking company." Really, Jimmy?

"The iconic image of the bull and bear shows the dedication and spirit of each member of our firm. We are individually and collectively committed to using the forces of the market to benefit our clients."

Oh, the end of that last sentence accidentally got clipped off on their website. It went "at the expense of everyone else."

Our pick: This will be a fun game to watch: Two quality teams with quality offenses, though the Beavers feature the run game of B.J. Baylor while the Aggies feature the arm of Logan Bonner. In today's game, arms beat legs.

Utah State Aggies -7.5

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R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
#23 University of Louisiana at Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns (12-1) vs. Marshall Thundering Herd (7-5)
December 18, 8:15 p.m.
New Orleans, LA

Ah, the good old-fashioned R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, featuring good old-fashioned Ragin' Cajuns against a Thundering Herd you can't help but hope rises up and knocks those crackers on their ass. After all, when this is your mascot, you're despicable.

Our pick: Unfortunately, the Cajuns are clearly the superior team, though the line is a surprisingly slim four points. Hold your nose and bet the house on those Cajun dudes, who come in having won 12 straight including five on the road. The Herd lost two of their last three and have a defense vulnerable to the rolling, balanced offense of Lafayette. This could get ugly.

Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns (-4)

Google searches for this pick included:

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Mike Luce is the world's greatest college football writer. Steve Rhodes is not. They welcome your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:05 AM | Permalink

December 17, 2021

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #387: Bears A Variant Of Concern

Organization a highly transmissible laughingstock. Including: Think Of The Gambling Community; Breaking: Illinois Has A Bowl Team; Blackhawks & Beach; Bulls Back; Arismendy!; and State Of Basketball.

Beachwood Radio Network · The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #387: Bears A Variant Of Concern

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SHOW NOTES

* 387.

:12: Breaking: Illinois Has A Bowl Team!

* Thomas Hammock.

* Luce: The World's Greatest College Football Report, Special Edition: Rockets & Roosters.

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18:52: Think Of The Gambling Community!

* COVID makes mockery of games' integrity.

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53:39: Blackhawks & Beach.

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57:27: Bulls Back.

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1:00:46: Arismendy!

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1:01:26: State Of Basketball.

* DePaul, Loyola, Northwestern, Illini.


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STOPPAGE: 6:09

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For archives and other Beachwood shows, see The Beachwood Radio Network.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:04 PM | Permalink

December 16, 2021

The World's Greatest College Football Report, Special Edition: Rockets & Roosters

The College Football Report returns for this very special edition, which we hope is just the first in a good old-fashioned bowl series.

Bahamas Bowl
Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (6-6) vs. Toledo Rockets (7-5)
December 17, 11 a.m.
Nassau, Bahamas

Sponsor: SERVPRO, "The #1 Choice in Cleanup and Restoration"
(Yes, the underline is correct. Why? We have no idea but the organizers better get that right on the bowl merch*.)

The question isn't "Why is there a bowl game in the Bahamas?" but rather "How will two teams from the Middle of Nowhere get to the Bahamas?"

Who pays the transportation costs for bowl games? Unless the teams travel by rail and Royal Caribbean, someone will have to cover the flight. Let's assume (wrongly, no doubt) that the two teams travel together. If all scholarship and walk-on players on the Toledo and MTSU rosters travel, over 200 people will need an international ticket. Tack on the staff from each school, and the total will push over 250 passengers.

You better believe the staff will be in attendance. Take Middle Tennessee. Twenty-one people make up the Blue Raiders coaching staff, including recent grad Blake Catlett. Defensive Quality Control duties fall to the fresh-faced Blake, along with dragging down the average age in staff meetings. Would you have the heart to tell Catlett he had to stay in the hinterlands while his compatriots lounged on the beach? No, no you wouldn't.

Who pays for a chartered flight of 250 people? How much does the airline stand to make on the deal? Would it be cheaper to buy a plane? A gently used Airbus A300-200 could accommodate up to 253 passengers if seated in three classes. That arrangement works nicely, allowing for separate sections for Head Coaches and Mistresses, Starters and Scrubs. (Catlett will take responsibility for Dark 'n Stormy Quality Control.) The winning team keeps the plane, of course.

Our pick: Should the teams make it onto the Celebration Bermudagrass of Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium (capacity 15,000), the heavily favored Rockets will count on dual-threat QB Dequan Finn. If blustering winds play a role, MTSU will focus on shutting down Finn's passing attack. No matter. Quinn can either scamper or hand off to RB Bryant Koback, just off a 2-TD rampage over Akron to close out the season for Toledo.

As for Mountain Dew State, the outlook isn't good. Vegas opened with the Rockets as 9-point favorites and the line has since jumped up to -10.5 at Caesar's, the official sportsbook of the College Football Report. The Blue Raiders will field a stout run defense (ranked 32nd nationally) but likely won't have enough to outlast Toledo. Mountain Dew lost to Old Dominion (Old Dominion!) while the Rockets gave the (perennially overrated) Irish of Notre Dame a run, losing by just a field goal in Week Two.

Toledo Rockets (-10.5)

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Google searches for the Bahama Bowl included, among others:

Resources for more information:

* COVID forced the cancellation of the 2020 bowl. Where did the gear go? ESPN waited until October 2020 to make the announcement. Surely some "2020 Bahamas Bowl" shirts had been printed without the team names by then. Charitable organizations like Good360 distribute the merch of losing teams to places such as Haiti and El Salvador, perhaps the 2020 Bahamas Bowl made it to another troubled part of the world. Like Florida.

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Tailgreeter Cure Bowl
Northern Illinois Huskies (9-4) vs. Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (10-2)
December 17, 5 p.m.
Orlando, FL

Let's just get this out of the way. A Chanticleer is a male vocal ensemble. Or, singularly, a Chanticleer could be a character from Chaucer, the Duke University yearbook, a rooster, or a race of angelic humanoids.

Huskies are dogs.

In the case of Coastal Carolina, the Chanticleer in question is a teal rooster named Chauncey. The belligerent fowl cheered on CCU this season to 10 wins and a runner-up finish in the Sun Belt. The Angry Roosters bring the heat on offense, ending the regular season 6th in scoring and rushing offense in the nation. The Huskie D gave up 50 points to Wyoming. This could get ugly.

This is a game people who know nothing about college football will point to and say, "Look at those numbers. These guys deserve to play against a big conference team." That opinion is wrong. Coastal Carolina finished #113 in strength of schedule this season. The list ends at #130.

In contrast to our pooh-pooh take on the gallus gallus domesticus from the Low Country, NIU looks intriguing. The Huskies won eight of their last 10, culminating a comeback season with a 41-23 victory in the MAC Championship game. (For the curious, Northern Illinois finished at #97 in strength of schedule.) And yet . . . Wyoming.

Our pick: To make a selection in the Tailgreeter Bowl, look no further than the numbers put up by CCU's redshirt sophomore quarterback. Despite missing three games over his two seasons, QB Grayson McCall has thrown for 5,071 yards, completed 71% of his passes, and has a 50:6 TD-INT ratio. That said, we'd be remiss to omit Rocky Lombardi from the conversation. The Michigan State transfer finished fourth in the conference in total yards and, if pressed, can run play action with tailback Jay Ducker who finished the season with 1,038 yards rushing.

Rocky is related to Vince Lombardi just not that Vince Lombardi. He does keep the Illinois football tradition alive in the family, following his grandfather and former University of Chicago football coach Bob Lombardi.

In other news, the University of Chicago has a football team.

All of this is set against the backdrop of one of the more virtuous themes of the bowl season. The Cure Bowl began as a means to "promote awareness and research of breast cancer, with proceeds going to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation."

In contrast, the sponsor, Tailgreeter, is in business to help you find the best tailgate. While tailgating doesn't measure up to curing cancer, it is pretty awesome. Unless you are at a lame tailgate. Which is where Tailgreeter comes in. Plug in criteria ranging from Amenities, Type of Lot, Beverages, Accessibility of Bathrooms, to Atmosphere Of The Tailgate, and Tailgreeter will serve up a curated list of pre-parties. Feeling mellow? Pick "Classical" in Type of Music. Want to throw down on a budget? Select "Bring Your Own Booze" under Beverages. This is America.

Coastal Carolina Angry Roosters -10.5

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Mike Luce is the world's greatest college football writer. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:52 PM | Permalink

December 11, 2021

Chief Keef Changed The Music Industry - And It's Time He Gets The Credit He Deserves

Before he was arrested in December 2011, Chief Keef was a 16-year-old budding rap star. He'd released a song, "Bang," which had more than 400,000 views on YouTube, along with a mixtape that he'd recorded in a friend's bedroom. He also had a dedicated Twitter following among Chicago high school students.

The track displayed a rawness unlike anything else that was released at the time, and you couldn't stroll down the streets of Chicago's South Side without hearing "Bang's" lyrics pulsing from the stereos of cars rolling by:

Choppers gettin' let off
Now, they don't want no war
30 clips and them .45's, gotta go back to the sto'
And that Kush gettin' smoked, gotta go back to the sto'
Cock back 'cause there's trouble, my mans gon' blow

Yet he was almost completely unknown outside of Chicago. His Facebook profile had less than 2,000 followers, he claimed his occupation was "smokin' dope" and he still lived with his grandmother.

Screen Shot 2021-12-11 at 1.08.43 PM.pngJohnny Nunez/WireImage via Getty Images

Nevertheless, the verses written and hastily disseminated on social media by Chief Keef and his peers were fast becoming a unique sort of news ticker for low-income communities of color in Chicago, detailing the turf wars, rivalries and hassles of everyday life as a Black kid growing up in the city.

The songs became known as drill, a genre characterized by its dark synths, booming 808 drums, seemingly off-beat, mumbled verses and war-cry choral chants. Its vanguards - artists like Chief Keef, King Louie, G Herbo and Lil Durk - emerged as local heroes by staying tethered to the blocks and neighborhoods they rapped about on SoundCloud and YouTube. Eventually, the national press caught on. The coverage was often less than flattering.

At the time, I was entrenched in my own hip-hop music career, rapping under the moniker Naledge in the duo Kidz in the Hall. As I was touring the country, I noticed that everyone from back home in Chicago was asking me if I'd heard of this kid Keef who was from Washington Park.

I knew that if a 16-year-old kid had the city buzzing, it would only be a matter of time before he was famous. What I didn't know is that five years later, the drill subculture would be the subject of my field work as a doctoral student at Northwestern and that it would inspire me to write about the ways in which the city's Black youth dealt with cultural, racial, economic and political oppression through inventive media production.

I started to argue, to anyone who would listen, that drill music was more than shock value or a new spin on gangsta rap. The scene planted the seeds for hip-hop's ascendancy in music's digital economy.

Drill Goes Viral

When Chief Keef's house arrest ended, on Jan. 2, 2012, WorldStarHipHop posted a video of a young child in a hysterical fit of excitement, bounding around a room and rapping along to "Bang."

The video of the boy went viral in the hip-hop community, and curious viewers furiously searched YouTube for more Chief Keef content.

Later that year, Chief Keef cemented his national reputation with the commercial success of his song "I Don't Like." As the lead single for Chief Keef's debut album, Finally Rich, "I Don't Like" charted on the Billboard Hot 100, accumulated tens of millions of listens online and helped drill break into the nation's musical mainstream.

Within months of the song's release, drill was seemingly everywhere. Hip-hop icons like Kanye West and Drake began co-signing drill rappers, while record labels instigated bidding wars over the South Side of Chicago's budding rap talent.

At the time, drill music was still one of the only music scenes to exist almost exclusively on YouTube and free streaming sites like SoundCloud and DatPiff.com - a form of DIY distribution that circumvented the traditional gatekeepers of the rap music industry. Songs were churned out via singles, curated playlists, snippets and low-budget music videos that could be edited and released instantly by artists direct to their audiences via social media.

The most popular YouTube videos for drill songs were often shot in low-income apartments or on street corners, with the local crews standing behind the artist performing, pointing weapons at the camera and rapping about the recent events of ongoing street wars.

Initially, many journalists and researchers focused almost exclusively on how youth in the drill scene used their songs to perform "internet banging," or threatening rival gang members and planning crimes over social media.

Media outlets like the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times, Noisey, Pitchfork, Spin, The New York Times and WorldStarHipHop extensively covered the rise of Chief Keef and the drill scene, pointing to the violence inspired by the lyrics and the gang affiliations of the artists as the source of their viral appeal.

Police not only started monitoring the social media accounts of drill rappers, but also effectively banned Chief Keef from performing in his hometown by encouraging venues not to book drill rappers and telling promoters that they'd shut down drill shows.

The drill scene did incite violence. For example, in August 2020, drill rapper FBG Duck was murdered in the upscale Gold Coast neighborhood a year-and-a-half after threatening the O-Block street gang in a music video.

In October 2021, the U.S. Attorney's office for Northern Illinois indicted five members of the O-Block street gang for the murder, pointing out that the gang has "publicly claimed responsibility for acts of violence in Chicago" and "used social media and music to increase their criminal enterprise."

Rethinking The Legacy Of The Drill Scene

Though deaths like FBG Duck's make headlines, my interviews with those affiliated with artists like Chief Keef have shown me that the gang violence associated with drill is hardly the reason these artists found success.

Instead, they wrote a blueprint for artists in hip-hop's streaming era.

In the decade since Chief Keef became an "internet famous" rapper with the song "Bang," a lot has changed in the music industry. There's now no real demarcation between being a famous musician online and one who has been elevated by the industry's power brokers. Tekashi 69, Lil Yachty, 21 Savage, Juice WRLD and Lil Uzi Vert are just a few of the artists that built on the swagger, style, aesthetic and internet distribution model pioneered by Chief Keef.

Chief Keef was among the first to broadcast everyday life in Chicago's gang territories to the world. His "stream of consciousness" style - saturating his YouTube channel videos of himself hanging out with his friends, meeting up with female fans, smoking marijuana and recording songs in his home studio - was a window into everyday life that's been emulated by pretty much every pop star since.

Moreover, his willingness to give away music for free also paved the way for the "SoundCloud era," in which artists like Chance the Rapper, Lil Pump and Doja Cat gained huge followings not through record deals, but through releasing tracks on SoundCloud.

Chief Keef's unique slang and mumbled, melodic rapping style have also sparked drill youth movements in places as far away as Australia, London and Ghana.

Yes, Chief Keef's story is out-of-the-ordinary: Getting in a shootout with police at the age of 15 and filming videos while on house arrest aren't exactly common adolescent experiences. But his ability to present that story to the world and brand his style within a larger movement speaks to his genius.

In my forthcoming book project, I nod to the drill subculture that he spearheaded as reflecting the potential of Chicago's Black youth. Denied full access to resources that might have helped them overcome their trauma and avoid gang lifestyles, Chief Keef and his peers used social media to persevere and make careers for themselves in music.

A lot that could be gained by not overlooking the creativity and ingenuity of teens and young adults like Chief Keef. He's a perfect example of the ways in which young Black kids are unintentionally innovating within social media while simply navigating violence and poverty.

What if the violence that accompanied his work were seen as a bug, not a feature? How might his creative output been harnessed to bolster - rather than vilify - the impoverished communities he rapped about?

Jabari Evans is an assistant professor of race and Media at the University of South Carolina. This post is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:01 PM | Permalink

The Past, Present & Future Of Poop

In Osaka, Japan, in the early 1700s, neighboring villages fought over rights to city residents' excrement.

Much of Japan's soil - sandy and poor in nutrients - produced feeble crops and supported few animals, so farmers depended on human fertilizer to grow food. And they were willing to pay for it.

Often in exchange for a fee paid to each household, farmers collected what was called night soil at regular intervals to fashion into fertile compost. Poop was precious. Defecating at a friend's house was considered an act of generosity - a gift. Landlords earned extra income by retaining collection rights from tenants: Often the bigger the household, the lower the rent. As the city of Osaka grew, so did the value of residents' waste, until prices climbed to such extremes in the early 1700s that some desperate farmers resorted to stealing it, despite potential prison time.

Roughly a hundred years later, London's River Thames was choked with human and animal waste, emitting noxious methane, ammonia, and the rotten egg smell of hydrogen sulfide. Seemingly more sewage than water, the river's banks swelled with refuse, interfering with marine navigation and making life miserable for many Londoners. Finally compelled to act, city authorities contracted boats to carry the sludge out to sea and dump it - at the approximate cost of a million pounds, or more than $170 million in today's U.S. dollars.

GettyImages-463930899-crop.jpg"The Silent Highway - Man," an 1858 cartoon from Punch magazine showing Death rowing the waters of the River Thames, which were choked with human and animal excrement/The Cartoon Collector, Print Collector, Getty Images

Why are these stories of human excrement so different? The key, according to science journalist Lina Zeldovich in The Other Dark Matter: The Science and Business of Turning Waste into Wealth and Health, is that one culture regarded poop as trash, the other as treasure.

With plenty of flat land and rich soil, the British could afford to chuck out their excreta, and so they did. In the absence of the invertebrates and microbes in dirt that transform dung into harmless compost, Londoners' excrement flowed to the river and festered. And when cultivation exhausted the soil, British farmers simply tilled another square. But Japanese farmers could not. Limited land and livestock necessitated soil replenishment with nitrogen, phosphorus and other nutrients - all of which are present in poop. So excrement was recycled into the same ground that created the food it came from.

Inspired by childhood memories of watching her grandfather turn septic waste into garden compost in Russia, Zeldovich takes readers on a historical tour of human sanitation, then positions the ideas and practices of the past in the present. Sanitation challenges to health, the environment, and the economy have grown globally, and the book highlights entrepreneurs working to solve these problems. Its last section describes the relatively recent discovery of the human microbiome and poop's life-saving role in human health. Throughout, the book presses the reader to reexamine how we understand human waste.

"We may think that we have solved the excrement problem in the Western world with our massive sewage plants," writes Zeldovich. "But the bitter truth is that we have solved only one problem - ensuring that our excrement no longer endangers our health."

the-other-dark-matter-cover-resize-1200x1800.jpg

Today, Zeldovich argues, we find ourselves at the intersection of Japan's need and Britain's overabundance. Increasing food demand strips our soil of nitrogen and other nutrients, while sewage pollutes land and water. We continue to frame poop as waste and ignore its value at our peril - creating a "ticking time bomb" that perpetuates a broken cycle of dirt, food, and fertilizer.

The closed cycle of the old Japanese system, in which waste is plowed back into soil, is not as ubiquitous in today's farmlands. In towns and countries without water treatment facilities, excrement can accumulate in streams and even people's yards.

"The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 2.4 billion people on this planet still lack access to basic toilet facilities, and that nearly 1 billion still head for the bush," Zeldovich notes.

Modern sewage treatment removes pathogens but often leaves nitrogen, phosphorous and minerals. Centuries ago, farmers were forced to add waste back into their fields as soil became depleted, but in the early 1900s German scientists Fritz Haber and Carl Bosch discovered a way to pull nitrogen from the air to produce synthetic fertilizer. Easy to transport, less smelly, and effective, synthetic fertilizer quickly replaced poop.

In China, one of the largest global fertilizer consumers, about "80 percent of the nitrogen in Chinese bodies now comes from food produced with the aid of chemical fertilizers," Zeldovich writes.

Nutrients from excrement in China and most other industrialized countries does not always return to fields. Instead, excess nitrogen and phosphorous is flushed into the water where it creates algal blooms and destroys marshes.

One such marsh is on a pond near the Quashnet River, on Cape Cod. A model of nitrogen overabundance, its "collapsing banks are so slippery you must be careful not to fall into the foul-smelling water, which looks dark blue and opaque like ink," Zeldovich writes.

Not long ago, scientists thought marshlands were infinite sponges, able to recycle as much nitrogen as we could pump into them by simply growing more plants. We now know that with enough pollution marsh plants grow shallow roots, banks erode, microbial communities turn sour, fish and crabs die, and as Zeldovich notes, "when pushed to the brink, the marshes can 'flip,' turning from carbon sinks into carbon emitters - speeding up the dreadful warming cycle and all the evils that come with it."

Fortunately, potential solutions abound. One is Loowatt, a small start-up that began in Madagascar's capital city of Antananarivo, also known as Tana, that turns excrement into power and fertilizer. Sanitation is a pressing problem in Tana, where latrines are holes dug into the ground. After frequent rains, Zeldovich writes, "the filth rises up to the brim and then slowly flows over, oozing out into the yards, down the streets, and into people's living rooms."

To prevent flooding, Loowatt provides special toilets - for a monthly or pay-per-use rate - that encase eliminations in biodegradable plastic. Employees retrieve the poop-filled bags and deliver them to a processing facility, where the bags are broken and chewed up by machines, the sludge is mixed with food waste and heated to kill pathogens, and bacteria convert the mix into biogas and fertilizer.

Loowatt uses its biogas-generated power to pasteurize the sludge, and toilet biodigesters help to recharge customers' phones. The fledgling company converts 1,000 people's emissions into about 6 metric tons (more than 13,000 pounds) of liquid fertilizer a month, with aspirations to become the major sanitation provider to the city's 1.2 million people in five to 10 years. Loowatt toilets are already in use in the United Kingdom at festivals and other outdoor venues.

On a much larger scale, the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant in Brooklyn, New York, "serves about 1 million people, [and] generates 2 million cubic feet of biogas every day," the book notes, while in Washington, D.C., the city's sewage treatment plant processes the contributions of 2.2 million people into Grade A fertilizer that is sold in stores.

In the Pacific Northwest, scientists are working to turn the city of Vancouver's poop into biofuel. When a program to convert algae into oil fell flat due to cost, scientists turned to cheap and abundant sewer sludge. Unlike fertilizer that must be transported back to farms, "poop-derived gasoline doesn't have to travel anywhere. It can be used right next to its original source," Zeldovich writes.

The book's final section details the use of human waste as a diagnostic tool in medicine, including the fascinating science and history of fecal transplants and how one patient's impassioned speech changed the FDA's trajectory for regulation.

It would be easy for a book that focuses on obstacles to improving global sanitation, fixing the agricultural waste cycle, reducing pollution, and improving health to resort to paralyzing gloom. The Other Dark Matter does not shy from the enormity of the problems, yet suggests solutions are achievable, at scales from individuals to entire countries.

Paced quickly with prose enlivened by the author's on-location reporting and personal experiences, the book is far from a grim slog through the world's sewers - it's more like an exciting tour in a biogas-powered balloon.

"Moving bowels is one big equalizing commonality that unites humankind regardless of ethnicity, color, religion, diet, or traditions," Zeldovich writes.

"Perhaps this generation won't be ashamed of their organic power," she adds. "They won't think of it as waste."

This post was originally published on Undark.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:57 AM | Permalink

December 10, 2021

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #386: Cheeseheads vs. Meatheads

Get on the right side of the rivalry. Plus: Around The NFL; COVIDY Bulls; Fleury Peury; Red Line Rivalry; Minnie Made It; Red Stars Reverse; and Go, Stro!

Beachwood Radio Network · The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #386: Cheeseheads vs. Meatheads

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SHOW NOTES

* 386.

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:41: Packer Meek.

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40:50: COVIDY Bulls.

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45:31: Fleury Peury.

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48:26: Red Line Rivals.

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54:23: Minnie Made It.

* Wallenstein: Minnie Minoso Was Very, Very Good To Us.

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58:23: Red Stars Reverse.

* Herrera, CBS Sports: NWSL Trade Window Winners And Losers: Red Stars Have Plenty Of Work To Do.

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1:04:09: Go, Stro!

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STOPPAGE: 10:31

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For archives and other Beachwood shows, see The Beachwood Radio Network.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:34 PM | Permalink

December 9, 2021

Minnie Miñoso Was Very, Very Good To Us

We were children just learning the game. Going to the ballpark thrilled us with the greenest grass we'd ever seen along with scents of hot dogs and beer and peanuts. The lights turned night into day, and the huge scoreboard kept us apprised of what was happening in stadiums far away as we sang "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" with the organ providing the background.

And then the gifted Miñoso came into our lives and quickly captured our hearts.

Because we were kids, layer upon layer of impressions hadn't as yet accumulated, so those early ones tend to stick in our memories with far more glue than many of those that have followed. Because he played the game like no one else, the image of Minnie Miñoso, crouched at the plate, just inches off the inside corner, and then lining a fastball into the gap and sliding into third with a triple can readily be retrieved with clarity and joy. The vision has the ability to surface more easily these days than, for instance, the location of my car keys.

The incomparable Orestes Saturnino Arrieta Armas Miñoso finally got what he fervently desired before he died in 2015: election to the Hall of Fame last Sunday. Because he wasn't recognized when he still was with us, spreading goodwill and happiness throughout Chicagoland, the announcement was not without rancor. An elite player in the 1950s, whose big league career was delayed because of the color of his skin, Minnie was overlooked time and time again. Unfortunately, the majority of the meatheads who voted had never seen Minnie play. Had they experienced that opportunity, he would have joined the Hall long ago.

He was electric because he never stopped moving, whether it be the aforementioned triple, a category in which he led the American League three times, or a routine grounder to short.

At one time or another he was the league leader in nine offensive departments - he also won three Gold Gloves - including caught stealing six times. You think that stopped Miñoso from running? No way. He also led the league three times in successful steals and kept pushing the envelope with his liberties on the basepaths.

However, the statistics, All-Star selections (nine, including two with the New York Cubans of the Negro National League), the drive to play every day both in the major leagues and in winter ball in his native Cuba, and his indefatigable spirit tell only a sliver of the story.

I remember being at the Chicago History Museum (nee Chicago Historical Society) a number of years ago when Minnie and the great Ernie Banks were being interviewed on stage by WBEZ's Steve Edwards. Banks emphasized that Miñoso set the standard as far as being a Black baseball player in Chicago in the '50s. He deferred to Minnie as the first Black player on either side of town when Miñoso debuted in 1951. Banks made his appearance at the end of the 1953 season and, of course, unlike Miñoso became a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer in 1977.

Apparently Banks and Miñoso were friends. Even without interleague play, and, silly me, zero chance of the teams meeting in a World Series, the two icons communicated about being Black in a sea of whiteness as they were young men playing a sport each loved.

Banks disclosed the immense respect he had for Miñoso being a trailblazer in the city where they played a combined 31 seasons.

In Baseball's Been Very, Very Good to Me: The Minnie Miñoso Story, the best video compilation that exists of the persona and life of Miñoso, produced by my lifelong friend Tom Weinberg, we learn that Minnie would drive teammates including Venezuelan shortstop Chico Carrasquel to their South Side residence at the Piccadilly Hotel in Hyde Park. Then Miñoso would continue on to Englewood where he apparently stayed with an African-American family. Carrasquel, a Spanish speaker of European descent, was welcome to make his Chicago home at the Piccadilly because he was white, while Miñoso, despite being the most popular White Sox, was persona non grata.

By his own admission, Miñoso spoke only Spanish when he left Cuba in 1946. Once he arrived in Chicago via a trade with Cleveland five years later, Miñoso displayed as much courage and daring when dealing with the public and media as he did on the diamond. Unlike many of today's Latin players, some of whom assuredly speak English more proficiently than Miñoso did when he arrived here, Minnie was not reluctant to being interviewed without an interpreter.

"The first three or four times I interviewed Minnie, I can honestly say I don't think I could understand one complete sentence," disclosed Chicago icon Jack Brickhouse, who described both Cubs and Sox games on WGN for many years. "But he was so sincere, and so serious about it all, and I'm saying to myself, 'This is on camera. I hope he's not advocating the overthrow of the government by force. I hope he's not using profanity. I just hope everything's all right.' But now [in the 1990s], of course, Minnie speaks very well."

The reality of race complicated Miñoso's long wait for Hall of Fame induction. Cleveland owner Bill Veeck, who addressed Miñoso as Orestes and not Minnie in all the years they knew one another (Satchel Paige always was Leroy to Bill), signed Miñoso, a third baseman at the time, in 1949. Veeck was aggressive in signing Black players such as Larry Doby, Luke Easter, and Paige, although in 1949 there was no room for Miñoso since All-Star third baseman Ken Keltner had helped lead the team to its World Series triumph the previous season.

So Minnie was demoted to Triple-A San Diego, where he remained in 1950 after Veeck had sold the team. The new owners were fearful of having too many Black players, thinking their white fan base wouldn't be happy. So at age 24 or 25, depending on which year you accept as his birth date, Miñoso tore up the Pacific Coast League, slashing .339/.405/.945. He was more than Major League-ready. The only problem was his color.

After nine games with Cleveland in 1951, Miñoso, much to his surprise and consternation, was peddled to the Sox. His last appearance in an Indian uniform was a doubleheader against the St. Louis Browns in which Miñoso went 5-for-8.

However, any remorse that Miñoso felt quickly was dispelled in a major way. The very first pitch Minnie saw in a Sox uniform, delivered by Vic Raschi of the Yankees, landed over the centerfield fence 415 feet away. And the legend was born.

Miñoso wound up hitting .326 in 1951, officially his rookie year. He led the American League with 31 steals, and getting hit by 16 pitches also was tops in the AL. Although Miñoso topped Yankee shortstop Gil McDougal in every offensive category except home runs (Minnie had 10; McDougal 14), McDougal was awarded Rookie of the Year honors. Upon reflection, being runner-up turned out to be a portent of the future in terms of the Hall of Fame vote. Call it racism or New York media bias, Miñoso easily was the top rookie in 1951.

That initial plate appearance for the White Sox couldn't have been scripted any better, nor could his return to the team in 1960 after he was traded back to Cleveland prior to the 1958 season in exchange for pitcher Early Wynn and outfielder Al Smith.

Wynn, another Hall of Famer, won 22 games and the Cy Young Award for the 1959 pennant-winning Sox before Veeck exchanged a slew of young prospects for veterans like Minnie in hopes of a repeat in 1960.

Once again, Miñoso put on another otherworldly performance on Opening Day, against the Kansas City A's at Comiskey Park as the Sox opened their defense of the AL crown. After reaching base his first two times at bat amid thunderous cheering from the crowd of almost 42,000, Minnie strode to the plate in the bottom of the fourth with the bases loaded. Once again his blast cleared the centerfield fence, giving the Sox a 9-2 lead.

The A's clawed back to tie the game at nine and almost took the lead in the top of the ninth when Miñoso, playing left field, threw out the go-ahead runner at the plate. And then. just as a movie script would have staged it, he hit the first pitch in the bottom of the ninth for a game-winning homer. Welcome back to the South Side, Minnie!

Miñoso played in all 154 games that 1960 season, which wasn't unusual even though his aggressive play resulted in nicks and bruises that send today players to the sidelines. Head protection was in its infancy in the '50s, and hitters used a somewhat flimsy horseshoe shaped insert in their hats rather than a batting helmet, which didn't appear until late in the decade.

Crowding the plate and refusing to be backed away, Miñoso was hit 195 times by pitches, good for 10th on the all-time list. He led the league nine times. No part of his body, including his head, went unscathed. But he kept on playing.

In 1971, when Minnie was at Comiskey Park for one of those old-timers games that have gone by the wayside, I interviewed the former Sox star in the clubhouse for a radio show I was hosting. I asked him about playing hurt, and he recalled a conversation with then-Sox manager Paul Richards, who wanted to rest Miñoso.

"I know you're the manager, Paul," Minnie claimed he said to his boss, "but I gotta play."

And play he did - with every ounce of his being, whether it was in Cuba, Comiskey Park or Mexico, where he competed until he was 47-years-old after his major league career ended.

A lasting impression I have of Miñoso occurred at Bill Veeck's funeral in early January 1986. Minnie wore his full Sox uniform to the church to honor his friend. Bill would have loved it, just as we all did. The gesture was fitting and proper, and so is his Hall of Fame election. The only difference is that one was timely and the other far too late.

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Former Bill Veeck bar buddy Roger Wallenstein is our White Sox correspondent. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:10 AM | Permalink

December 4, 2021

UIC Finds More Evidence That Soda Taxes Work

Two new studies published by researchers at the University of Illinois Chicago provide evidence that public policies to reduce consumption of added sugars through taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages are effective and sustainable.

Sugar-sweetened beverages like soda, juice, and energy and sports drinks, are the largest contributor of added sugars in American diets. Overconsumption of added sugars significantly contributes to obesity and is associated with comorbidities like diabetes, which can increase cancer risks and result in more severe COVID-19 illness. Currently, more than 50% of adults and 65% of children consume more added sugars than recommended.

Sugar-sweetened beverage taxes, often called soda taxes, aim to provide financial incentives to consumers choosing healthier beverages while also funding public health programs.

The research team has been studying the implementation of sugar-sweetened beverage taxes throughout the U.S. and the new studies analyzed data from Seattle, where the tax was implemented in 2018. The Seattle data was compared with data from Portland, Oregon, a city of similar size and demographics but without a sugar-sweetened beverage tax.

"While we and others have published a number of studies on the short-term effects of SSB taxes where they have been implemented in the U.S., these taxes are still relatively new, and we need scientific data on longer-term impacts to understand if the policies have the potential to generate sustained public health benefits," said study lead author Lisa Powell, distinguished professor and director of health policy and administration in the UIC School of Public Health.

The studies are the first to comprehensively evaluate the tax's long-term impact across all store types and across all beverages and sweets sold.

The researchers obtained Nielsen retail scanner data on unit sales and unit measurements, like fluid ounces or grams, of sugary beverages, sweets, and stand-alone sugar products in Seattle and Portland. Data included all sales from the available sample of food stores inclusive of supermarkets and mass merchandise stores, as well as grocery, drug, convenience and dollar stores - covering about 45% of all food store sales.

In a Journal of Public Health Policy study titled "Impact Of A Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Tax Two-Year Post-Tax Implementation In Seattle, Washington, United States," Powell's team looked specifically at the economic impacts of the tax after two years.

Their analysis showed that the prices of taxed beverages increased by 1.04 cents per ounce, corresponding to a 59% tax pass-through rate; the volume sold of taxed beverages fell by 22%; and no cross-border shopping.

A JAMA Network Open study titled "Evaluation Of Changes In Grams Of Sugar Sold After The Implementation Of The Seattle Sweetened Beverage Tax" focused on the impact of the tax on estimates of sugar sold after two years.

The researchers found that one year and two years after implementation, the tax created a 23% reduction in grams of sugar sold from taxed beverages. And while the analysis showed some offset from substitutions - a 4% increase in sugar sold from sweets in both years and an initial increase in grams of sugar sold from untaxed beverages in the first year only - there was a net 19% reduction in grams of sugar sold from taxed beverages at two-years post-tax.

"Our studies show that even after accounting for potential substitution behaviors, like cross-border shopping or selection of other items with added sugars, these taxes have a large, sustained impact on reducing volume and grams of sugar sold from sugary beverages," Powell said. "This suggests that taxes may permanently reduce the demand for sugary beverages and help to lower rates of health harms that are associated with added sugars."

Julien Leider is a co-author of both studies. Vanessa Oddo is a co-author of the JAMA Network Open study. Funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies and Arnold Ventures Philanthropy supported the research.

In December 2020, Powell's group was awarded new research funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies' Food Policy Program to expand this research to lead and support evaluation work in five key nutrition policy areas: the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, nutrition warning labels, retail food marketing, restaurant food and beverage offerings, and nutrition standards and food and beverage offerings in schools and public universities.

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Previously in soda taxes:
* Soda Tax Could Save Thousands Of Lives And $1 Billion In Mexico.

* Cook County Repeal Of Soda Tax Was A Mortal Mistake.

* The [Tuesday] Papers, February 20, 2018:

"The beverage industry created 'Citizens for a More Affordable Cook County' in August. One purpose of the PAC: It was an unsubtle political threat hanging over the commissioners who did not support the repeal.

"The grassroots-sounding name was designed to deliberately obfuscate the fact that the PAC, spawned with the help of the American Beverage Association, gets almost all of its funding from companies related to the beverage industry.

"The PAC treasurer is lawyer/lobbyist Michael Kasper, who also does work for Illinois House Speaker/Democratic Party of Illinois chair Michael Madigan."

* Where 'Yes! To Affordable Groceries' Really Means No to a Soda Tax.

* Soda Industry Steals Page From Tobacco To Combat Taxes On Sugary Drinks.

* Seattle Council Locks In Fund For Soda-Tax Revenue, Overriding Mayor Durkan's Veto.

* Soda Taxes Work.

* Cook County's Soda Tax Worked.

* Another Win For Big Soda.

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See also:
* Radio NL: "Sugar Tax" Applauded By BC Health Advocate Groups.

* The First News: Sugar Tax To Finance National Health Fund Campaigns.

* The Star: Sugar Tax Successful In Lowering Soft Drink Sugar Content.

* Taxing Sugar Levels In Soda Could Prevent 2 Million U.S. Cases Of Diabetes And Cardiovascular Disease, Study Says.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:13 AM | Permalink

December 3, 2021

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #385: Locked Out And Loaded

Owners tank offseason. Plus: The Stro Show And Mo; The Legend of Leury; Bears In For Beating/s; Bulls Balls; Blackhawks Flower; Red Stars Retool; and Fire Hire.

Beachwood Radio Network · The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #385: Locked Out And Loaded

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SHOW NOTES

* 385.

1:40: The Stro Show And Mo.

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20:18: The Legend of Leury.

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25:00: Bears In For Beating/s.

* Maybe Bears media should be too.

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54:38: Bulls Balls.

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1:07:22: Blackhawks Flower.

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1:10:20: Red Stars Retool.

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1:10:51: Fire Hire.

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STOPPAGE: 11:32

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For archives and other Beachwood shows, see The Beachwood Radio Network.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:00 PM | Permalink

MUSIC - Chief Keef Changed The Industry.
TV - Vizio's Best Product Is You.
POLITICS - UIC: Soda Taxes Work.
SPORTS - COVID Bowl Toteboard.

BOOKS - All About Poop.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Don't Let Your Pet OD.


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