Chicago Sun-Times
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August 2008 Archives


BY MIKE CLARK Sports Pros(e) Wrestling Bureau

In case you missed it, the pro wrestling world is in mourning this weekend after the death of Walter "Killer" Kowalski.

"Killer" was long one of the sport's premier villains, a role he fell into after severing part of rival Yukon Eric's ear during a bout in Montreal in 1954.

Kowalski also was known for creating his signature move, a stomach cruncher known as the "Killer Clutch."
It probably seemed like an awesome idea to the people at North Carolina to have a couple of skydivers descend onto the field moments before kickoff yesterday to deliver the game ball. If I were there -- and especially if I had spent the morning tailgating -- I probably would have thought it was a spectacular start to the season. But, it appears the little stunt hit a snag.

The skydivers delivered the ball to the wrong stadium. They landed at the Duke game.
dustin.jpgOzzie Guillen doesn't always say it best. But his postgame comments after Dustin Pedoria collected four hits for the second straight night against the White Sox summed up how a lot of opposing managers feel about facing the scrappy second baseman.

1. Breaking the drought
  • It just had been too long since we heard a marching band, saw a real cheerleader or saw a graphic telling us the running back who just broke a 34-yard run was majoring in social sciences.
2. Lee Corso
  • ESPN's resident quirky uncle seems to have developed a habit of grabbing hold of Kirk Herbstriet's arm when he is making a point. He also picked Clemson to win and put on a funny Tiger hat. That's good television.
3. Jeremy Maclin
  • The Missouri Tigers' resident Devin Hester impersonator took a kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown and set up another score with a long punt return.
4. A silent Big House
  • For the second straight year, Michigan dropped their opener at home. This time the Wolverines were beaten by the Utah Utes. New coach Rich Rodriguez's spread offense was held to just 36 rushing yards.
Hey gang, how'd you like to see some 1988 footage of vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin throwing down a sports broadcast for KTUU-TV in Anchorage, Alaska? Yeah, we thought so.
collegefootball.jpgLet me get it out of the way right off the bat: I love college football. The pageantry. The upsets. The day drinking. It has it all. This is the first installment in a series of as many as it takes that will highlight the key games on the college football schedule. Predictions will be based on factual evidence, speculation and deep-seeded animosity towards certain programs.

Week 1:

11 a.m.: Youngstown State at #2 Ohio State: Last year we had the biggest upset of the season in the opening week when Division I-AA darlings Appalachian State played the David to Michigan's Goliath. The Penguins of Youngstown State are, indeed, members of that pesky I-AA division and Buckeyes coach Jim Tressel used to coach at The Other Ohio State University. But none of that means anything when there's such a talent disparity on the gridiron.
Feels like: Ohio State 34, Youngstown State 7
In real life: Ohio State 43, Youngstown State 0
  • Terrell Pryor made his much ballyhooed Buckeye debut as Ohio State absolutely disrobed the Penguins. Beanie Wells hurt his foot. He'll be OK.

11 a.m.: Akron at #13 Wisconsin: Akron's nickname is the ZIps and it's where LeBron James would have gone to college if he'd needed to. The Badgers like to jump up, jump up and get down, but they always seem to let weaker teams hang around longer than they should.
Feels like: Wisconsin 31, Akron 17
In real life: Wisconsin 38, Akron 17
  • The Badgers racked up 404 yards on the ground. P.J. Hill accounted for 210 of them.

11 a.m: Coastal Carolina at #22 Penn State:
I've never even heard of Coastal Carolina. Research tells me they named their mascot after a feisty rooster in Chaucher's Canterbury Tales. Joe Paterno knew Chaucher, and you, Coastal Carolina, are no Chaucher.
Feels like: Penn State 61, Coastal Carolina 3
In real life: Penn State 66, Coastal Carolina 10
  • JoePa notches his 373rd career win.

11 a.m.: Syracuse at Northwestern:
In a battle of highly regarded journalism schools, the advantage always goes to the squad closer to their home newsroom. Plus, the Orange were 2-10 last season.
Feels like: Northwestern 24, Syracuse 20
In real life: Northwestern 30, Syracuse 10
  • Can't wait to read Monday's recap in the Daily Northwestern. Out of respect I'll check out the one in the Daily Orange.

11:30 a.m.: Hawaii at #5 Florida: The (Rainbow) Warriors were the feel-good story of the year last season as they turned the BCS on its head on their way to the Sugar Bowl. We won't talk about the senseless violence that happened in New Orleans once they got there. Actually, we should. That's exactly what's going to go down when they invade the Swamp to face Tim Tebow, who functions at a much higher level than you are I could ever dream of operating at.
Feels like: Florida 40, Hawaii 16
In real life: Florida 56, Hawaii 10
  • This game started at 7:30 a.m. Hawaii time. Tim Tebow > pretty much everyone.

2:30 p.m.: #3 USC at Virginia: Much-ballyhooed Trojan quarterback Mark Sanchez brings the hopefully less itchy professional team from Los Angeles into Thomas Jefferson's backyard. Cavaliers QB Jameel Sewell can do it with his arm and his legs and possibly other parts. Here's our first upset, folks. Drink it in.
Upset special: Virginia 20, USC 19
Come back to reality, dude: USC 52, Virginia 7
  • Don't.Want.To.Talk.About.It. Mark Sanchez looked pretty good though.

4 p.m.: Appalachian State at #7 LSU:
The team that shocked the Maize and Blue rolls into Baton Rogue to take on the purple and gold. At press time LSU did not have a starting quarterback named. Assuming they field one on Saturday, they should have no problem thwarting the Mountaineers and their dreams of world domination.
Feels like: LSU 33, Appalachian State 14
In real life: LSU 44, Appalachian State 13
  • Thanks to the impending danger of Hurricane Gustav, the good people of Baton Rogue enjoyed a little football for breakfast while LSU Tigers drank App. State's milkshake.

7 p.m.: #24 Alabama at #9 Clemson: Two ranked teams battling it out south of the Mason-Dixon line in primetime. There's a lot of people in red states absolutely giddy over this prospect. Since no one seems to like Nick Saban lately, let's blindly throw our confidence behind the Tigers.
Feels like: Clemson 22, Alabama 17
Roll, Tide: Alabama 34, Celmson 10
  • Alabama had 239 rushing yards. Clemson had 0.

Time for the alma maters of both of the non-paid proprietors of this blog.

7 p.m.: Michigan State at California:
Sparty has the opportunity to win nine games and go to a bowl this season, and the first game in Berkeley will be crucial. The bad news is that the Golden Bears are going to try their darndest to win the game as well. Expect copious amounts of Javon Ringer, myriad personal foul penalties and at least three trick plays from the Spartans. Also expect a California victory. And some crying.
The truth hurts: California 28, Michigan State 24
Reality also hurts: California 38, Michigan State 31
  • The special teams were anything but for both teams. Good for the Golden Bears. Seriously, good for them.

7 p.m.: Illinois vs. Missouri:
Kevin Allen has a bit of a man-crush on Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel, whose Texas high school is going to start serving sushi at football games. And wide reciever/return man Jeremy Maclin is the Devin Hester of the Big 12. Illinois will try to replace Rashard Mendenhall's steady ground work by relying more of the uber athletic Juice Williams. Drop everything to watch this one.
Feels like: Missouri 35, Illinois 31
Defense?: Missouri 52, Illinois 42

Recap: 8-2.
q36tsu7g.jpgI bet you're sitting at home right now thinking to yourself, "You know, I bet they snag just any ol' bulldog to be the mascot of the top-ranked University of Georgia Bulldogs."

Quite the contrary, fair reader. Quite the contrary.

Let us allow the Athens Banner-Herald to set the record straight. The process of choosing a new Uga is not unlike the vetting of a new Pope. It's part of a long-standing family tradition for the Savannah-based Seiler clan. Whenever an old Uga outlives its usefulness, they just throw a synthetic-blend jersey (surprisingly breathable in the sweltering Georgia heat) on one of the dogs' innumerable offspring and toss it into the mix.

Tomorrow's 12:34 p.m. kickoff against Georgia Southern (the fightin' Eagles ... screeeeeech!) will mark the debut of the seventh installment of Uga, and the folks down in Athens couldn't be more excited than if its team was ranked No. 1 in the -- oh yeah.

For those of you Georgia fans who are no-doubt wondering, Uga VII is the second beefiest of the Uga lineage, weighing in at a cool 56 1/2 pounds according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

John McCain has selected Alaskan governor and giving-kid-interesting-names enthusiast Sarah Palin as his running mate. And evidently she enjoys the movie "Rudy" -- or at the very least, the "Rudy" theme music.
If Chicago does get the privilege of hosting the 2016 Olympics, we here at Sports Pros(e) hope our fair city keeps the proceedings as authentic as possible. It'd be a refreshing change of pace, after all.

Fresh off the fake fireworks and lip-synching girls at the Beijiing Games, news comes out that the Sydney Symphony Orchestra's performance in 2000 was prerecorded.

To make matters worse, some of the music was recorded by the symphony of rival city Melbourne.
ocho.jpgAccording to published reports on the Internet, Chad "Ocho Cinco" Johnson has officially changed his last name to ... Ocho Cinco -- the spanish words for the digits on his football jersey.

While this marks a great day in the annals of ridiculous fodder, it's a sad, sad day for one of the proudest surnames in history.

To be sure, there are many things maudlin, weird, awkward and wrong about this. But the real story here is that this is a total affront to all those present past and future Johnsons. Just think of all the famous Johnsons to whom Ocho Cinco is symbolically flipping the bird:

Andrew and Lyndon -- both presidents of this country during some of its most trying times following the assassinations of Lincoln and Kennedy, respectively.

In the sports world, we have Randy, Dennis, Magic, Michael, Tank, Brad, Calvin and so many more who will surely take offense to Ocho Cinco's name-shunning.

In the entrepreneurial world, there's Howard. What would Howard Deering Johnson -- the pride of Quincy, Mass. -- have to say about such a public figure tossing such a dignified moniker on the ground, kicking it into traffic and watching as car after car rolled over it?

Then you have the gentlemen who founded the line of health care products and pharmaceuticals that bear a double dose of the name Johnson, separated only by an ampersand.

Perhaps most importantly, the man after whom Jonsonville -- a town famous for its delicious encased meat -- is named. No amount of mustard and finely chopped onion will help to ease the pain of the residents of Johnsonville, Wisc.

And let us not forget the piece of movie magic that was 2004's Johnson Family Vacation starring Steve Harvey, Bow Wow and Cedric the Entertainer.

Chad Ocho Cinco, as he's now called, probably didn't think about his role in history when he changed his name. But now that it's official, perhaps he's onto something. Perhaps this will catch. This is a country of folks who crave hegemony. There's a certain freedom and accompanying euphoria that comes with going unapologetically against the grain.

Chad Ocho Cinco: Genius or disgrace to Johnsons everywhere?
AJ.jpgInstant replay made its debut at Wrigley Field last night, signaling a new era in baseball and a new tool for umpires. But if you needed a reminder that the element of human error was, is and will continue to be a big part of the game, the vice president of MLB umpires told the St. Petersburg Times Thursday that Doug Eddings got that A.J. Pierzynski call wrong after all.
manning.jpgDon't get too excited about the big 16-10 win over the Cleveland Browns, Bears fans. First of all, it didn't count. Secondly, it didn't count at all. And lastly, it looks like the Bears will have to deal with Peyton Manning after all when the games start meaning something.

Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy says that the two-time NFL MVP should be -- like a Crunchwrap Supreme from Taco Bell -- good to go for the Sept. 7 season opener against Chicago.
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Sun-Times columnist Greg Couch was in Beijing for the Olympics and evidently parlayed his tall frame into an autograph session at the closing ceremonies.

Chris Tomlinson of the Rocky Mountain News recounts the brush with fame.
roddick.jpgAndy Roddick, noted tennis expert and Lacoste enthusiast, has an absolute killer first serve. And while I'm no tennis expert, it seems like that would be something he would want to use to his advantage.

Last night, Roddick's match with Frenchman Fabrice Santoro came to an unorthodox conclusion when Santoro became upset that Mr. Brooklyn Decker almost hit him with a blistering serve.
It's been a little over 24 hours since the news became official that Jay Mariotti was leaving our paper. Even though we at Sports Pros(e) were aware of the situation, we thought it best to hold off on anything Mariotti related until some of the dust had settled.

Why air our dirty laundry for the rest of the world to see, we wondered.

And then today happened. More and more details surfaced by the hour, each one seeming to be more salacious than the one that preceded it. The icing on the cake is Chris De Luca's article that will be in your morning editions.

After reading this, we feel comfortable putting all the cards on the table.

clay.jpgBy this time next week, the newest sports nickname will be introduced into the zeitgeist when the Oklahoma City basketball franchise announces its name and team colors. The powers-that-be have applied for the trademarks for six different options. Rest assured, we've got the pros and cons of each possibility.
American golden boy and gold medal enthusiast Michael Phelps will host the season premiere of "Saturday Night Live" on Sept. 13. The musical guest is Lil Wayne. Should have been you, Young Jeezy.
Milwaukee Bucks to play Golden State Warriors in China.

The White Sox seem excited about instant replay. Sun-Times

Kenny Rogers, on the other hand, not so much. MLive

Meet Mark Kotsay, the newest member of the Boston Red Sox. FOX Sports

Who to draft at running back in your fantasy league. Fantasy Factor
A-Rod.jpgWe all know the Yankees are struggling and might miss the postseason for the first time since Spike Owen was starting at shortstop. Last night, the Bronx Bombers lost to the Boston Red Sox in a game that featured an 0-for-5 performance from Alex Rodriguez. The well-compensated third baseman also left 7 men on base.

Naturally, 40-year-old rapper LL Cool J was on the set of "SportsCenter" this morning to analyze the situation. And he didn't disappoint.
ottawa.jpgThe Ottawa Senators are soliciting the services of adolescent goalies for their offseason workouts. So, if you happen to be in the area and like hockey, they'd love to have you. Just ask 13-year-old Christian Rusu.
Washington State Cougars defensive tackle Andy Roof has been kicked off the team four months after being arrested for allegedly head-butting a man at a party.
Earlier this season, we found out that not many people were watching the Washington Nationals games on television. Today we learn that the radio numbers are even more anemic.

You're probably wondering what Jason Kidd is going to do with that cool new gold medal he just won. Here's a hint: it won't be going on his mantle.

Can't believe we missed this hot nugget of gossip, but apparently Lindsay Lohan enjoys the neck beard of one Kyle Orton. And apparently she isn't the only one. Lohan's "galpal" Samantha Ronson and Cindi Lauper concur.
Yeah, you read that headline correctly. It's so jarring to see something like this in our 2008 world, but it's true. Citing the need for professionals to entertain their pro-am partners, the LPGA is going to require players who have been on tour for two years to pass an oral evaluation of their English skills. Study up, ladies. Your test begins in 2009.
llws.jpgThe Little League World Series wrapped up yesterday as Hawaii took it to Mexico, 12-3. Every year the event is a nice reminder about how sports can play an important role in molding young men, despite what some extremely creative minds might say.

One of the basic virtues touted throughout the tournament is that Little League is an inclusive community event. From the little girl selling Sno cones at the concession stand to the dad who coaches the team, everyone has a role.
marcusjordan.jpeg(Scott Powers/For the Sun-Times)

Michael O'Brien, the Sun-Times' high school hoops guru, once said something that I had a had time believing. It was his opinion that Marcus Jordan, son of this guy, was underrated. It just didn't make sense. How could someone with such a famous last name be underhyped?

Scott Powers answers that question today.

We've had fun with minor-league names before, but the MLB trade this afternoon basically wrote its own headline.
tj h.JPG

A week ago today, the other guy who occasionally writes words in this space and I were at the White Sox-Mariners game when a contentious debate broke out. R.A. Dickey, Seattle pitcher and wild pitch enthusiast, got us wondering who's the greatest athlete ever with a two-letter, punctuated first name. As stupid and innocuous as it may be, it looks like were weren't the first to tackle this issue.

Our choice: Y.A. Tittle.
peyton.JPG Somewhere between wondering aloud how Kim Kardashian was going to fare in the new "Dancing With the Stars" season and reading the latest Fidel Castro comments, I stumbled on Peter King's take on if Peyton Manning will play against the Bears in the season opener. 
Perhaps you've heard of Barack Obama. He's running for president. And he certainly has made his allegiances known when it comes to Chicago baseball.
sapp.JPGNoted plus-sized quarterback menace and Brett Favre antagonizer Warren Sapp will soon be dancing his way into your heart, America. Sapp is following in the footsteps of former NFLer Emmitt Smith and recently injured Jason Taylor by dancing among other stars.
From an early age I was taught that you are what you eat and that healthy food would make me grow big and strong. If the Beijing Games taught me one thing, it's that all of the nutritional mumbo jumbo was a big crock of fatty butter.

First it was Michael Phelps and his daily buffet. Now it's boxing gold medalist Zou Shiming revealing that he eats pizza and hamburgers to help him lose weight. Lose weight.
Tiger Woods' warrior-like performance at the U.S. Open this summer was heroic. Some said it was a miracle that he was able to pull it off, considering his condition. Those people never saw him walk on water.

The New York Giants, who currently have this little piece of hardware on loan, just found out they've lost defensive end and sack enthusiast Osi Umenyiora for the season. A certain gap-toothed quarterback crusher who recently vacated a very similar position is just -- as Chingy put it -- one call away if the Giants wish to call.

Surely the New York media will have something to say about the possibility of Michael Strahan returning.
(Scott Stewart/Sun-Times)

Chris Williams, the Bears first-round pick from Vanderbilt, said today that the Bears knew he had some back problems before they selected him.This isn't huge news -- every other NFL team was privy to this information -- but the bigger issue is that the Bears are doing their best Kevin Allen impression.
We've already covered the triumphant gold medal performance from Kobe & Co. last night, but I'd be remiss if I didn't mention a special moment that happened after the final buzzer. The victorious U.S. players came over to the pay their respects to Doug Collins. It was touching, unscripted and another part of what made the night such a proud night for us at Sports Pros(e) and the rest of America.
They were dubbed the Redeem Team, and redemption is exactly what they achieved. But there was more at stake than a chunk of gold for these world-famous Olympians. The very perception and reputation of the sport of basketball in the United States was hanging in the balance.

It's a comfort to know that the best basketball players in the world still hail from the U.S.A. With marquee players toying with the idea of leaving the NBA and using their talents throughout all corners of the Earth for exorbitant sums, it's good to know that the country that spawned the game still spawns it's most formidable practitioners. It's a reminder that even if we do lose some of our best players to wealthier foreign pastures, this will still be home to the best teams in the world.

That said, globalization is a scary thing for many Americans. We feel easily threatened by anything that could compromise our perceived cultural dominance. But we've been confronted in these and other recent Olympic games with a glimpse at our sporting mortality. And this year, we caught a glimpse at China's oft-creepy big brotherly-ness and their ability to coordinate 2,008 seemingly angry drummers and martial artists in a dazzling ceremony. (Daley thinks Chicago can top that ... really?) It's tough to think that there are countries out there who may be instilling in their kids a more intense work ethic while imposing a more stringent moral code by which to live.

Suddenly, we're not always certain how we stack up in various venues in a globalized world.

That's why the Olympics can be a bit like the first day of school -- where you walk into the classroom hoping that your cargo shorts and polo with a flipped-up collar are still (if they ever were) cool. You don't know if you'll come out the object of has-been ridicule or envy. You can only be unapologetic about who you are. That's exactly what the U.S. basketball team did. It has walked into the world's classroom, collar popped. It grabbed a chair in the back of the room and sat confidently in it. These guys then watched as the rest of the world trickled into the classroom and proceeded to try and pop their collars. But it simiply never worked -- it never looked as good as the original or even remotely stacked up.

You're not used to seeing a touch of class from this country, generally speaking -- and it's especially rare to see it with NBA players in recent years.

It wasn't always like that.

As a Michael Jordan-obsessed kid growing up in the Chicago suburbs, I didn't miss a moment of the original Dream Team's epic run. I meticulously taped each game on VHS. I even covered up the Reebok logo on a jacket I owned at the time -- just like Jordan and others did on the medal stand. This was a time when NBA players were worth looking up to because you never saw the reasons why they weren't.

In books, Jordan spoke about the ways he prepared himself and how he managed to dominate his opponents -- his relentless work ethic and his love for his career, his profession and many of his co-workers. These were good things for a kid to learn. Putting myself in my 12-year-old shoes, I remember Jordan was a complex, otherworldly super hero. Of course, now that I'm older and know a bit more about Jordan and his myriad exploits during those years, it doesn't look so rosy, but it doesn't matter. You never saw that side of Jordan. You never saw him brawling in the stands, only scuffling occasionally with Reggie Miller and John Starks. And let's be honest, those guys deserved it as most people whose veins course with pure evil do.

But my point is that it's good for kids to see this. It's good for kids to see grown men -- men who, at times, have displayed more defense in courts of law than on courts of basketball -- truly take pride and derive joy from what they're doing. It's good to see them get the opportunity to prove themselves on the world stage and make the very most of it. Without that, kids may never get to see the power of redemption.

In the end, I have to ask -- would we be proud of them if they'd lost today? For those who measure worth in wins and losses, the answer is probably no. But for those of us who hope nothing more than for our athletes to be the best representation of our physical selves on a world stage, the answer is an emphatic yes. So the fact that they did win? Well, that's just golden.

Read Jay Mariotti's take on the Redeem Team here and Greg Couch's here.

Sally Jenkins of the Washington Post also provides a fine piece of journalism here.
fuki.jpgGordon Wittenmyer, the only man we trust with our Erin Andrews photo assignments, writes today that the Cub faithful have started giving struggling Cubs outfielder Kosuke Fukudome the business.

" Fukudome's forgettable August went from bad to worse Saturday, including a pair of errors on one play for the usually exceptional right fielder.

Batting eighth after not starting Friday, he struck out with the bases loaded to end the third inning to raise a round a boos, then got a louder version when he struck out looking in the seventh."

I can only hope the sudden decrease in popularity is hurting the sales of this product.

I don't know Chris Buckley. Apparently he writes for the Valley Independent, your source for somewhere around Pittsburgh news. And here at Sports Pros(e) we commend him for going out to report this story, which must have become more and more bizarre with each layer he peeled away.

"Witnesses told police a pilot was antagonizing students practicing soccer at Belle Vernon Area High School and golfers on the links at Willowbrook Golf Course shortly before he crashed 7:43 p.m. Tuesday.

Rostraver Police received various reports that Jay Tokar, 46, of 250 Adams Drive, Rostraver Township, was yelling and attempting to spit on people below shortly before the accident."

We recently spotlighted author Todd Gallagher for his cutting edge work in the field of hypothetic sports. He burst onto our radar again this morning with his stunning article about the disparity between male and female athletes:

"In sport after sport, evidence shows that the top female professional athletes in the world are on par with the best American 14- and 15-year-old boys. Nearly every female Olympic record in speed, strength, and endurance events falls between the records set by the best American 14- and 15-year-old boys:

Speed/Endurance Record Times:
DistanceMen'sBoys' 14Women'sBoys' 15
10000M27:05.10 32:48.030:17.4931:43.2

Leaping Records (in meters):
EventMen'sBoys' 14Women'sBoys' 15
High Jump2.392.042.062.18
Long Jump8.907.217.40 7.49
Pole Vault5.954.724.915.33
Triple Jump18.0914.7415.3314.98

Sure, that kid from Baltimore provided some interesting talking points with his performance in Beijing, but the main event to Joe Sports Fan is the Redeem Team.

Kobe, LeBron, Carmelo. These are the most recognizable faces. Throw in the recent international embarrassments, and you have a team and dream of redemption that's become the focal point for most viewers. Tonight, they'll face Spain in the gold medal game at 1:30 a.m. (so technically it's Sunday.)

We here at Sports Pros(e) are hellbent on fighting through the drowsiness to see if Kobe & Co. can restore some of the glory to American basketball.

A couple of talking points for you to digest:
Happy watching!
I don't make it a habit to wake up early to watch women's basketball, but for some reason the neighbors decided 8 a.m. would be a good time to blast some Lupe Fiasco. Tuning into the gold medal game, I couldn't help but notice the absolutely horrid uniforms the Australian team was sporting.

Further research yielded this picture which shows that the Brazilian team also wears tight Lycra instead of basketball shorts. It'd be ridiculous to wear basketball shorts while playing basketball, right? How do you take something like that off? What if you get blood on it? So many questions, so few answers.

Fashion faux pas aside, the Australians have won the silver medal for the third straight time.

Cuban taekwondo athlete goes out kicking

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matos.jpgIn this file photo, Cuban Angel Matos kicks his competitor. He kicked a ref in Beijing on Saturday. (AP photo)

Angel Matos had just been disqualified for exceeding the allotted injury time in the bronze medal taekwando match. The Cuban disagreed with the referee's judgment so he decided to show his displeasure by doing the only sensible thing: kicking the official in the head.

"Matos was winning 3-2, with 1:02 in the second round, when he fell to the mat after being hit by his opponent, Kazakhstan's Arman Chilmanov. He was sitting there, awaiting medical attention, when he was disqualified for taking too much injury time. Fighters get one minute, and Matos was disqualified when his time ran out.

Matos angrily questioned the call, pushed a judge, then pushed and kicked referee Chakir Chelbat of Sweden. Matos then spat on the floor and was escorted out."

Kicking? Spitting? Perhaps Matos should look into competitve tantrum throwing in 2012. Although he'd have some stiff competition.

The others Wordsworth around these parts is always looking on the sunny side of life when it comes to his favored NFL franchise. With that wide-eyed (but grossly misplaced) optimism in tow, I'll try to apply the same upbeat response to the Detroit Lions signing Drew Henson. But it won't be easy.

Now, back where I come from, Drew Henson is a pretty big deal. He holds the state record for home runs, won state titles in football and platooned with one Tom Brady while at the University of Michigan. He seemingly had a bright future in football. He seemingly had a bright future in baseball.

It didn't work out so well.

In his one NFL start he was replaced by Vinny Testaverde. His lifetime hit total in the majors is one.

This is his last chance. If it were the movies, he'd come in and go 12-for-13 with 230 yards and 3 TD against the Browns today. But he won't. This isn't the movies. This is the real world, were a seemingly bright future can dim just as quick as you can say "Tony Romo" or "Kurt Warner".

See, for every rags-to-riches, against-all-odds story out there there's a story of unmet potential, disappointing underachieving and things not shaping out like they were supposed to. Drew Henson's journey is just that.

In the pantheon of sadness, a multi-million dollar bust is nowhere near the 'pull at the heartstrings' section, but it's a part of sports we don't hear enough about. Seems guys like Henson toil in obscurity after falling out of the public spotlight, emerging only long enough to become the answer of a trivia question.

Unless of course they find a team as desperate at the Lions.
I've gone on record about two things in the past week or so. The first is that I have an old-fashioned Norman Rockwell man-crush on Michael Phelps. The other is that I have a far less noble jones for Aussie swimming sensation Stephanie Rice. But, as Seinfeld teaches us, things get weird when two worlds collide.

Or when the two swimmers were seen ca noodling like they were at Cady Heron's party in Mean Girls.

"Phelps, fresh from shattering Mark Spitz's 36-year-old record, was spotted Monday night in a hot make-out session with Down Under swimmer Stephanie Rice, a source tells The Post's Clemente Lisi and Luke Dennehy. The pumped-up pair clinched and swapped spit at a celebratory bash outside the Olympic Village."
It's good to be America's golden boy.

Shaquille O'Neal, who seemingly graced every other cover of our Sports Illustrated for Kids magazine, really seems to enjoy the music (and maybe other parts) of Alexis Miller. The 23-year-old hip/hop artists who goes by the name MaryJane says the Big Diesel isn't getting the Big Hint that it's over between them. She also may have proof that the Big Aristotle needs a Big Dictionary:

"According to the paper, the court affidavit quotes an e-mail from O'Neal as saying, "I dnt no who the [expletive] u think u dealin wit u will neva be heard from one phone call is I gotta make now try me. Sho me."
Meanwhile, Kobe Bryant will play for a gold medal this weekend. So who is really getting the last laugh in the bitter Lakers break-up?

The Young Jeezy of sports blogs

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BY MIKE CLARK Sports Pros(e) Contributor

Here at Sports Pros(e), we are looking to perform at the highest level every time we blog. That naturally requires getting in the proper frame of mind before we embark on each post.

While we are big fans of Okkervil River, especially after the band's stellar set at Lollapalooza, we are thinking that perhaps we should consider a change in our warmup music. After all, if Young Jeezy is good enough for the winningest Olympian of all time, he's good enough for us.
BY LINDSEY MILLER Sports Pros(e) Contributor

I have always thought of the Olympics as the wimpy sports. The sports that don't attract the stereotypical men sitting on their couches with a beer. The sports for kids and juice-the sports for non-sports fans. When I was younger, I would to settle into the soft family room couches with my family during the Olympics and we'd watch exclusively figure skating in the winter and gymnastics in the summer. Leaving, of course, whenever any other sport came on. There was even a time when I wanted to become a figure skater when I grew up-until I realized that ice sports are not entirely practical in California, where I grew up. Nor did I ever really like skating. I enrolled in gymnastics, but always enjoyed playing with the chalk and jumping in the foam pit at the end of class more than I liked flipping or balancing. Regardless of my own early failures, the Olympics contained the only two sports I actually enjoyed watching. They weren't like the occasional long weekend afternoons I would reluctantly spend with my dad watching baseball or football, never quite conscious of which team was up to bat or which line the football was supposed to get to. Forget about all those goal posts, nets and other sweaty summer sports and snowy winter sports. I had eyes only for Michelle Kwan and Shannon Miller and the Olympics.
PAYTON  & Suhey N.jpgIn this 1987 photo, Walter Payton de-pantses fullback Matt Suhey, who serves as inspiration, no doubt, for Jason McKie. (Sun-Times file)

Perhaps some of you saw the on-field brilliance displayed last night by the frothing-at-the-mouth Monsters of the Midway against the we-take-scrimmages-way-too-seriously 49ers. Perhaps it made some of you into believers. Well, new believers, welcome to the club. Your complementary t-shirt and box of Cheez-its await.

But as Yung Berg once famously told this reporter, "Chicago is full of haters." Unfortunately, this applies to the Bears as well. Take Russ Loede, for example. In his post on the Bears Gab blog, he writes under a section titled "The Bad":

"Count me out of the Jason McKie Fan Club ... Let's face it - McKie's no Matt Suhey (well, who is?)"
What a hater!

As co-founder and dues-paying member of both the McKie and Matt Suhey (and Matsui) fan clubs, I can say with complete confidence that not only does McKie display his share of Suheyian ferocity, he does it without the aid of a Suheyian mustache.

Many would have you believe that the Bears defense "struggled" in yesterday's every-domination. But let's take a look at the word 'struggle.' It's derived from the root word "strug" -- as in Kerri Strug. Strug, as you may recall, was the original struggler on the way to Bearsian dominance in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Picture Lovie as Bela Kerolyi, metaphorically carrying these Bears, waving and smiling, from the vault to the medal stand as "Bear Down" plays triumphantly. Struggle, indeed.

And still others may be quick to point out that the Bears have failed to "win a game" this preseason. I seem to recall another Bears squad who failed to win their first three preseason games. Gee, I can't remember which one that was. It's just not ... oh yeah, it was the '85 Bears. Although I can't remember how they fared in the regular season. It's just not ... oh yeah, they won the Super Bowl and filmed the third greatest rap video of all time. I remind all of you that the preseason exists for one reason: To see how closely to their chest a team can hold its cards. And the Bears are keeping theirs millimeters from their mighty chests.

I'll say it, folks: The Bears haven't looked this good since last week. The future's bright in Halas Hall. Perhaps the Bears should look into ordering a shipment of these.

Welcome to the first of what we hope to be many Bears games here at Sports Pros(e). Here's how it goes down: We'll  firmly plant ourselves in front of the event and painstakingly come up with talking points, polls and irreverent links for you to check out while you watch. The screen will auto-refresh so you will not need to reload the page. Comments can be submitted as many times as humanly possible. Without further ado, let's get this going.

We took a field trip to Wrigley last night for the Cubs-Reds game. Other than some sparkling defensive plays from Mark DeRosa, there wasn't a lot for the Cub faithful to get excited about. Today Carlos Zambrano takes the ball in the series' rubber match. Keep it here for all the polls, talking points, links, runs, hits and errors.

If the "Boom Goes the Dynamite" guy can parlay internet infamy into a full-time job, then there is hope for all of us. Brian Collins, in case you've forgotten, was the "star" of this wildly popular video that was probably forwarded to you several times during the summer of 2006:

Just a rough outing for the fresh-faced kid from David Letterman's former stomping grounds. But all's well that ends well. Enjoy Waco, Brian. We hear the dynamite booms even louder down there.

Hideki Irabu's rough outing

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irabu.JPGPerhaps you remember Hideki Irabu. He was that much-ballyhooed Japanese import that was supposed come to the Yankees and dominate on the mound. After amassing a 34-35 career record in six major-league seasons, Irabu decided that maybe playing baseball in Japan was a better option. Good choice.

But today, the big right-hander apparently let the beer do the talking.

"Irabu, 39, became angered after his credit card was rejected. He allegedly pushed the bartender against the wall, pulled his hair and smashed at least nine liquor bottles. The bartender sustained no injuries."
Nine liquor bottles? I believe you call that a complete game.
78205274.jpgIt's true that wunderkind Ricky O'Donnell knows a thing or ten about the world of sport. This has never been more than in his recent post, "Top Ten Reasons Why NCAA Football is Better Than the NFL." The post includes a shout out to the University of Missouri's own QB/Savior/Legend/Broseph extraordinaire Chase Daniel.

Now, I'm certain that O'Donnell didn't know that this avid 'Top Ten' reader is an alumnus and rabid fan of the oldest university west of the Mississippi River -- the very institution where Daniel is the most famous business major since Sam Walton.

O'Donnell hits on all of the Chase Daniel highlights -- the nose picking YouTube incident, the comparatively small stature, the ridiculous stats -- but he fails to mention Daniel's most endearing trait: The skull cap.

Is it retro? Is it futuristic? Is it just plain practical? Who cares. It's ice-cold cool. The word 'unabashed' comes to mind in his donning of perhaps the greatest accessory on-field fashion has ever spawned.
burris.JPGWe bet you haven't thought of former Bears quarterback Henry Burris in a while.
(AP photo)

Ricky O'Donnell, the 21-year-old whiz-kid who seems to contribute to every sports blog here at the Sun-Times except for this one, is enjoying immense Internet popularity today. His compilation of the most obscure Bears quarterbacks in recent memory is absolutely burning up the blogosphere. It's only right that we fuel that fire.
usain.JPGHow many bases would Usain Bolt steal in a season? Our guess is at least a million. (AP photo)

BY NOEL JOHNSON Sports Pros(e) Correspondent
Yes, there are major events to keep Olympians busy until the 2012 London games, but four years is a long time. In the meantime, some special athletes might have the skill set to cross over to a different sport.

Usain Bolt
The world's fastest man and 100 meter dash world record holder.
  • Stolen base specialist - Worst case scenario: teach him a good hook slide and no infield could stop that suicide squeeze. Best-case scenario: teach him to bunt and he might swipe every base.
  • Deep threat - He'd draw the safety's attention just by lining up.  Plus, at 6'5" he might just catch a few jump balls. Watching him celebrate before the 100-meter dash had even finished makes me think he has outstanding touchdown celebration potential as well.   
Andrey Silnov
High jump gold medalist
  • Goal line specialist - All he has to do is break the plane, right? Pitch the ball out to him and it might help mimic the natural high jump motion. Landing on his back might hurt after a while.
American Synchronized Swimming Team
  • Cheerleading - I don't think they are going to challenge the Dallas Cowboys gals anytime soon, but think about the upgrade in cheer synchronization. Think about it.
Chinese Women's Gymnastics Team
Béla Károlyi
Former Olympic gymnastics coach
  • Sports Broadcaster - He's not an athlete, but after hearing those rants and raves about women's gymnastics I think he could provide any team with some extremely passionate color commentary. I'd absolutely love to get him and John Madden in the booth together.
Viktor Ruban
Men's archery gold medalist
  • NFL holder - Steady arms, hands, and nerves - it's really a no-brainer. Adjusting to a crowd bigger than 12 people might be the only cause for concern. Step aside Tony Romo.
Michael Phelps
Eight-time gold medal winner in Beijing
  • Professional eater - His swimming skills don't transfer well to the turf, but his ability to regularly eat 12,000 calories a day makes him a potential candidate for the professional eating circuit. His giant torso should provide a digestive system advantage.
Kun Chen
Chinese Pitcher
  • Chicago White Sox's Bean Ball Specialist - It's not a secret coaches intentionally hit batters, but Ozzie Guillen is the only one I've heard own up to it. Chen plunked two Americans in one inning in Monday's revenge-filled contest between the two teams. He sounds like an Ozzie kind of guy.
We stumbled upon an impressive video of shot from the bleachers at Wrigley. In short, it captures all of what it means to be a man: baseball, beer, chugging and unbridled machismo. Roll video:


His loved ones must be so proud.
A shooting that left one dead and another victim in critical condition may have stemmed from a fight at Antoine Walker's birthday party. Not so fast, Walker's mother says.

"The birthday party for Walker was held Sunday at Excalibur, 632 N. Dearborn, according to sources close to the player. But Walker's mother--who was at the party all night--said there were no fights she was aware of at the gathering.

Diane Walker said the party for her son was held in the entire club and that it was "fantastic''-- with no problems.

Poor Evander Holyfield. He's tried to hard to block the painful memory of having a healthy portion of his ear bitten off, but everywhere he looks there are reminders. Attending a boxing match in Beijing today, Holyfield got a good look at a dude biting another dude.

"Dzhakhon Kurbanov's bout with Kazakhstan's Yerkebulan Shynaliyev was stopped with 17 seconds left in the third round when Kurbanov apparently bit Shynaliyev during a clinch.Shynaliyev, who angrily showed the blood on his shoulder to the referee, led 12-6 at the time. Kurbanov had been warned multiple times for shoving and holding his opponent.

You've probably heard about the Spanish basketball team and this picture. This one seemed to slip under the radar, but is equally as bad. And now we can add this one to the mix.

Knock it off. It's not funny.
Orton_Kyle.JPGKyle Orton and his neck beard are poised for ... um ... well, he's the starter. We'll go with that. (AP Photo)

Fellow Pi Kappa Alpha alumnus Kyle Raymond Orton has been named the opening day pilot of the full-steam-ahead aircraft known as the Chicago Bears for the 2008 season.

Orton, you may recall, went 10-5 as a starter in 2005, when the Bears won their division and lost to the Eagles in the playoffs.

This represents another great chapter in the annals of men who aren't fans of shaving.

I shall preempt the naysayers with my prediction that Orton will be on the receiving end of a dubious award tantamount to the type we've explored on this blog in the past.

Congratulations, Kyle. Not so much on being named the starter, but for leading us to the playoffs and beyond.
You may have seen Mike Mulligan's article, 'Bears' problems just get started with QB' in today's paper. I'm not sure which Bears team he was referring to. As I've stated before, things have never looked brighter for these Monsters of the Midway. For the third installment of Bears Brightside, I've gone ahead and made the proper modifications to Mulligan's article.
Australian swimmer Stephanie Rice captured our hearts, as well as three gold medals. (AP photo)

This week:

We learned that Craig Sager used to be the mascot at Northwestern

LeBron James got friendly with the president

Michael Phelps ate around 84,000 calories

We wondered why it's always got to be "us vs. them"

A hulking Swedish man threw a tantrum

USC couldn't stop scratching it

We introduced you to a bouncing Dong Dong
Jeff Kent will most likely not embark on a political career once he hangs up his cleats. The chronically mustachioed second baseman has long made it a habit to rankle teammates, opponents and fans alike. But when he tells a living legend like Vin Scully to zip the lip, you know there's going to be some backlash.

Go nuts with more fun in the pool

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In the immortal words of Ron Burgandy: "That squirrel can water ski." (Courtesy)

BY MIKE CLARK Sports Pros(e) Contributor

Perhaps you have had your fill of watching Michael Phelps stockpile more gold than Fort Knox. You've already given up on the Bears and their less-than-effective offensive line.

And you can't really get excited about the pennant races on the north and south sides of town till September.

Yet you are a sports fan and you need your daily fix. What to do?

We at Sports Pros(e) understand your dilemma and offer the perfect solution. Head out to Michigan City, Indiana, Thursday through Sunday to check out the greatest aquatic marvel this side of the Water Cube.

Ladies and gentlemen, we present the amazing, incomparable, death-defying Twiggy the Water Skiing Squirrel.

And the best part: Twiggy performs live, not on NBC time.
In case you've been living under a rock or in some sort of fantasy land, you're aware there's an election coming up in November. This is neither the time or place to get into politics, but we'll point out that there seems to be a disparity between the McCain and Obama camps when it comes to getting money from sports owners. What about the owner of the (insert local baseball team with which your allegiances lay here), you ask?

"Not only did McCain raise more than Obama from the owners in each of the four major professional sports leagues analyzed, but McCain even raised six times more from the owners of teams in Obama's hometown of Chicago.

Sam Zell, the owner of baseball's Chicago Cubs, gave more than $22,000 to McCain's committees, though he also gave Obama $2,300, as did the owner of the Chicago White Sox and Chicago Bulls, Jerry Reinsdorf, who gave that much to both McCain and Obama."
Bear Maulings.jpgI didn't watch Michael Phelps capture his eighth (it was eight, right?) gold medal last night. If I had, I would have missed the epic and inconsequential back-and-forth battle that was the Bears/Seahawks preseason tussle.

It. Was. Awesome.

Let me be the first to reiterate, it's going to be a great season, folks. Plenty of good things are happening in and around Halas Hall these days.

Now granted, the Bears didn't win. Sure, they're 0-2 in the preseason. Admittedly, the Seahawks were a superior team on paper: They outrushed the Bears 241-51, had more first downs (26-10) and held the advantage in time of of possession (39:31-23:57). And yes ... the potentially serious injury to tight end Desmond Clark's knee would be a blow to an already-ailing offense. And the fact that neither Rex Grossman or Kyle Orton showed any characteristic that could ever be misinterpreted as leadership could be cause for concern to Chicago's most pessimistic, doom-and-gloom fans.

phelps8.jpgHis name is succinct, so basic, efficient and true, but not flashy. Michael Phelps. His body so flawless, so delicately attuned to a world of water none of us will ever know. His perfection, his eight golds in eight day jamboree, is the -- pardon the pun -- the gold standard that we'll measure every sporting feat up to for a long time.

Because I am just a highly functioning aquaphobic, I'll leave the flowing, rippling cascade of poetic tribute to the experts. But I will say that Michael Phelps and his precious medals moved me in a way that hasn't happened in a while.

Perhaps it's the unassuming manner in which he did it. Or the way that I talked myself into believing this was the race he'd lose before each event, only to realize 12 seconds before he jumped in that he might as well be on the medal stand. Maybe it just felt good to root for someone, with none of the baggage of pesky team allegiances or multi-million dollar salaries.

Nah, it was the surprising sense of American camaraderie that Phelps ignited. These past eight days, I've seen him compete in many different settings. Outside of NBC5 on the Magnificent Mile. In my apartment with my roommates. In a bustling newsroom with veteran journalists. Every one of those places turned into his biggest cheering section the moment his 6-4 frame hit the water. And every time it was unplanned, unscripted and wonderful.

A stranger gave me a high-five after the 200m butterfly. A friend I hadn't spoke to in over a year called me right before the 200m medley. "You gonna watch Phelps?" she asked.  What kind of American, let alone internet sports guru (I don't even know what my job is called) would I be if I wasn't, I responded.

Tonight the golden boy crossed all the T's and dotted the I's by taking over with his team in third place and bringing them into first. You knew he'd do it. And it was still exciting.

So often, and we're guilty of these even here at Sports Pros(e), we get caught up with dehumanizing athletes and being overly-cynical. But how lucky we are to have reminders of why we care in the first place on display from time to time. Phelps' nine days were good for the sports soul, the psyche and for the country.

We're not too sardonic to ignore that.
Henry Blanco, Chris Gomez and other also-rans are duking it out for the MLB Longevity Award. (AP photo)

With all of the Olympics hubbub going on right now, we almost feel guilty about neglecting our national pastime. A 162-game schedule spread out of six months makes the Major League Baseball season an epic journey, wrought with injuries, heartache and extremely painful moments.

To that end, is presenting something they're calling the "Longevity Award."

" would like to recognize the players who have shown the greatest efficiency and durability for the longest period of time; to honor the "iron men" of the sport, those who have stayed younger for longer."
So if you've always wanted to log on to your internet machine and cast a vote for Pirates utility man Chris Gomez, but haven't been able to do so in good conscience (for obvious reasons), your day has come.

Still, as a Michigander (get out of here with that Michiganian nonsense), this so-called "contest" puts me in quite a predicament. The Detroit Tigers' representative is Ivan Rodriguez, who is currently donning the tools of ignorance for the New York Yankees.

Can anyone out there think of a sillier award? How can there be any prestige behind a contest that touts players like Henry Blanco and Cristian Guzman alongside future Hall-of-Famers* Frank Thomas and Omar Vizquel?

A vote for anyone is a vote for pointlessness.

* My personal opinion.
trampoline.jpgThe finals for the men's trampoline competition will take place Tuesday. Dong Dong will be there ... will you? (AP Photo)

Chinese trampoline virtuosos Lu Chunlong and Dong Dong have bounded like a pair of overzealous gummi bears into the finals of the men's Olympic trampoline event.

This is great news for Dutch rockers Golden Earring.

In 1968, around the time that Tommie Smith and John Carlos were thrusting gloved fists into the air while standing atop a Mexico City medal podium, the catchty Golden Earring ditty, "Dong Dong Diki Diki Dong" was injecting itself into the collective zeitgeist.

Just wanted to mark the occasion and say that we here at Sports Pros(e) have officially reached a level that could be described as 'excitement' when referring to the upcoming college football season. This revelation comes on the heels of the release of the preseason AP polls.

Highlights include this author's alma mater, the University of Missouri, being given its highest preseason rank in history at No. 6. Truth be told, this is a bit surreal for all of us here at Sports Pros(e) (some of us, perhaps, more than others). Just as surreal is the suggestion in a recent ESPN article that Tigers' Devin Hester impersonator Jeremy Maclin may actually be "faster" this season.

I'd be remiss, however, if I didn't acknowledge the certain degree of jealousy that comes with my excitement for this college football season. Thoughout my four glorious years at Mizzou, I never knew the team to achieve a ranking higher than No. 19 in the country -- and that was definitely short-lived. Indeed, mine was an era full of heartbreak and disappointment as a student fan.

Along with my dedication to the Cubs, my fandom experience could be considered a practice tantamount to masochism.

That said, a big thanks and kudos goes out to Dave Matter at the Columbia Daily Tribune for his "Behind the Stripes" blog, which provides impressive comprehensive coverage of the Tigers' preseason journey.

Nevertheless, hope is once again springing eternal. But looming a few ranking spots in front of Missouri is the team's own Everest -- Oklahoma. Now here's to Tigers' QB Chase Daniel perfecting his impersonation of Sir Edmund Hillary.
Carl Lewis stops by a Beijing McDonald's to pick up a few all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce and cheese for the US track & field athletes. (Courtesy)

BY TONY ARGENAS Sports Pros(e) Correspondent

I wanted to write a bit about some of the things I have been witnessing on TV lately. Namely, the commercials pertaining to the Olympic games.  Now, I'm all for showcasing the world's most gifted physical specimens in some of the weirdest competitions known to man (don't believe me, watch table tennis), but the excitement dissipated after the first commercial ran during "America's Got Talent."

In this particular commercial, the company, McDonald's (perhaps you're familiar), has obtained several of the more popular American athletes to hock their latest grease-filled creation. Now I'm not an Olympic trainer by any stretch of the imagination, but I can't in any capacity see Michael Phelps' trainer saying "Michael, when you're finished with that last lap I want you to hit the showers and then grab a couple chicken biscuit breakfast sandwiches."  This guy has been consuming nothing but whey protein and wheat germ since he was nine, yet I'm to believe he loads up on McGriddles before a big swim. My mom wouldn't even let me eat a cracker and play in that mud-filled bacteria basin we called a kiddie pool in our front yard, and this guy's housin' big macs.

How stupid does Madison Ave. think the American public is?

James Blake had some harsh words for the man who beat him today. (

Fresh off his epic upset over tennis golden boy and Mach 3 razor enthusiast Roger Federer, American James Blake lost his semifinal match against Chilean Fernando Gonzalez in three sets. And after the match he had a little something to say about what he perceived to be a lack of fair play and sportsmanship from his South American foe.

"I've spoken all week about how much I've enjoyed the Olympic experience, how much I love the spirit of it," Blake said. "That's a disappointing way to exit the tournament, when you not only lose the match, but you lose a little faith in your fellow competitor."
Blake is the only American remaining in the tennis arena and will play for the bronze medal on Saturday.
I stayed up late to watch womens gymnastics last night, and I couldn't be happier. Nastia Liukin won the gold and Shawn Johnson the silver, making it an all-around proud night for America. But my excitement, and yours I'm guessing, pales in comparison to former U.S. Womens Gymnastics coach Bela Karolyi.

Man, that guy is positive.
mannyR.jpgThis is what a five-minute trip to the barber shop can get you these days. (AP photo)

Manny Ramirez got his hair cut before Thursday night's game, but it certainly doesn't look much different. It's not like I expected a David Beckham-esque buzz cut from a man who likes to find his own way in this crazy world of ours and Dodgers manager Joe Torre, quoting a movie I've never seen, seemed to be pacified for the moment.

"Said Torre: "He came in and showed me. As Billy Crystal said in `Analyze That,' it's a process. He took a little bit off. It's within the rules of cleaning it up a little bit. Right now, it's around his shoulders. It's not covering his name up. We'll continue to monitor it."
Good to know.
Sideline reporters over here in the States can have it rough some times. They've got to deal with surly coaches, frustrated players, inebriated ex-players and overly critical columnists. But, on the bright side, rarely are they shot while on the air. That, apparently, is what happens in Georgia. Roll video:

reggie bush.jpgReggie Bush's alma mater is having some very personal problems. (AP photo)

Los Angeles, the second-largest city in America, does not have a professional football team. Instead, they have USC, a team that's enjoyed remarkable success lately while racking up quite a celebrity following. But there is nothing glamorous about the jock itch problem that's spreading through the Trojan ranks.

"While dislocated kneecaps and high ankle sprains draw more attention, Coach Pete Carroll said he has never seen anything like the minor outbreak that caused key players to miss practice Wednesday.

As much as 25% of the team has been affected by the apparent run of
tinea cruris, kicker David Buehler estimated. The condition seems to have spread by way of new compression shorts, or tights, worn under their football pants."
The UCLA student body should have a field day with this one.
sox4hr.jpgThe White Sox did some serious yardwork against the Royals today. (AP photo)

Big things happening on the South Side this afternoon as the White Sox downed those Royals from Kansas City, 9-2. Jim Thome, Paul Konerko, Alexei Ramirez and Juan Uribe all hit consecutive home runs in the sixth inning to tie a major-league record.

Carlos Quentin's body was hit with a pitch for the sixth straight game, sending stat nerds into a frenzied search through the record books to see if that's ever happened before.

Take this medal and ...

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We at Sports Pros(e) don't believe in stereotyping, but it's a historical fact that the Swedes are a peaceable lot. They haven't been involved in a war since Napoleon's day, when pretty much all of Europe was up in arms.

So the whole brouhaha Thursday at the Chinese Agricultural University Gym (apparently the Chinese aren't pioneers in the field of naming rights) caught us a bit off guard.

In case you didn't hear, Sweden's Ara Abrahamian was none too pleased when his dream of a gold medal in Greco-Roman wrestling ended when he lost to Italy's Andrea Minguzzi in the semifinals. Abrahamian had to be held back by teammates from going after the officials, to whom he still gave what for.

Those teammates persuaded Abrahamian to wrestle for the bronze medal, which he won. But he made clear his opinion of the third-place finish (or as we like to call it, "second place for losers") by taking the medal off and dropping it on the mat after leaving the podium.

And there was more: Abrahamian also announced his retirement, saying, "This will be my last match. I wanted to take gold, so I consider this Olympics a failure."

So do fans of real fireworks and live singing, among other things.

Meanwhile, we hear the Minnesota Vikings, having failed to land one formerly retired star, have inquired into Abrahamian's availability.
phelps2.jpgMen's swimming (9 p.m., NBC)

You already know Michael Phelps has a chance to add to his gold medal count tonight, but we don't mind reminding you. Tonight he takes on the world in the 200m IM. We here at Sports Pros(e) like his chances.
instantreplay.jpg(AP photo)

Our national pastime is about to implement the biggest change since the designated hitter was introduced in 1971. Brace yourself for instant replay, baseball fans.

Commissioner Bud Selig's stance, and mine, that replay has no place in baseball has been weakened by the off year umpires seem to be in the midst of.

"Selig was once a staunch opponent of replay, but a spate of missed home run calls this season has changed his stance.

Replays would be used to only determine whether a ball leaving the field is fair or foul, or whether it actually went over the fence. It would not be used on close plays on the bases or balls and strikes."

If you've secretly been pining after Washington Capitals winger Alexander Ovechkin, but thought it'd be impossible to get in contact with him, your day has come. Roll video:

cubsawesome.jpgMark DeRosa and the Cubs swept a doubleheader against the Braves yesterday. (AP photo)

The Cubs, much to the chagrin of the Milwaukee Brewers, continue to win. And they keep doing things that suggest this really is the year. Yesterday was the first time the franchise had swept a doubleheader on the road, winning each game by at least eight runs since 1908.

This guy remembers.

Domination nation

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A little known fact: There are approximately 58,000 self storage facilities in the world. Of those, 52,000 are in America.

What does this mean? Americans have more crap than anyone in the world. This is, in my estimation, the most telling statistic when it comes to encapsulating the American way of life. And the American way of life, for better or worse, has come to dominate the sentiment surrounding these Olympic games.

An interesting editorial in the New York Times today outlines the way technology has enhanced the Olympics -- both the way they're watched and the way they're played.

This is an absolutely true observation, but it's only half the story. As advanced as we've become in our coverage of and training for the Olympics, we're still quite archaic in the good guy/bad guy shrouding that goes on in the media coverage of individual events.

Sure, everyone wants their country to win every event -- it's a matter of pride. But everywhere you turn, someone's boiling the Olympics down to Their Way of Life vs. Our Way of Life.

In many ways, NBC's coverage would make you think that there are really only two countries in the Olympics -- us and China. And therefore, it's a constant barrage of good guys (us) versus bad guys (them). And while it's admittedly the sexiest story line of the games, is that what they're really about?

China's risen to become an insanely important world power -- that's undeniable. And their way of life is, in so many ways, different than ours. We have certain freedoms that we take for granted -- like the ability to visit the Huffington Post on the Internet. But announcers seem intent on pointing these things out -- these little quirks that makes their way of life different -- and they fault the athletes for the foibles of their country and cast them as the bad guy.

Then again, in a time when so many Americans are down in the dumps about their country, it sure is sweet to watch Michael Phelps dominate. Especially when he's representing something more than America -- like self storage.

U-S-A, U-S-A, U-S-A

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u-s-a.jpgIt's days like these where that "Our Country" commercial doesn't even bother us. (AP photo)

We're busting with pure, unadulterated national pride here at Sports Pros(e) this morning. First and foremost, the oh-so-cleverly named 'Redeem Team' wiped the floor with Greece, avenging a particularly painful loss to the Greeks in 2006.

Plus, the softball team combined to throw a second straight no-hitter while the baseball boys blanked the Netherlands.

Add in American James Blake upsetting Roger Federer in tennis and all things are coming up stars and stripes.
Turns out Bela Karolyi would be successful as the guy who guesses ages at the carnival. Just two days after casting some accusations at the host country, we learn that at least one of the Chinese gymnasts has some explaining to do.
phelps.JPGMichael Phelps would like the rest of your sandwich if you're not planning on eating it. (AP photo)

We're at the point where it's hard to draw a parallel between the way Michael Phelps is captivating this nation to anyone who has done  it in the past. His dominance, his will to win, and his all-around greatness is hard to put into proper context. One of the secrets to this success?

His 12,000 calorie-a-day diet.

Babe Ruth would be proud.
redsoxraners.jpgRangers vs. Red Sox (ESPN, 6 p.m.)

How do you expect me not to give the nod to a couple of teams who combined to score 36 runs last night? It's baseball, so conceivably, it could happen again. If it gets boring, flip on over to the individual portion of men's gymnastics. Never thought I'd type that.

The old man and the Jets

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oldbrett.jpgBrett Favre's tired arm will be discussed thoroughly in New York tonight. (AP photo)


Apparently there's a purpose to all those offseason workouts Donald Driver and other NFL players endure every summer while the rest of us are going to Lollapalooza and watching the Olympics.

They are designed, we suppose, to prevent you from getting all tuckered out while your teammates have hardly worked up a sweat in training camp.

Saying his apparently not-so-bionic right arm was "kind of dragging a little bit" after the Jets' morning practice on Wednesday, NFL senior citizen Brett Favre told reporters he would ask coach Eric Mangini if he could limit his throws in the afternoon workout.

We here at Sports Pros(e) sympathize with the future Hall of Famer. We plan to ask the boss if we can limit the number of words we type in each post because our fingers are "kind of dragging a little bit."
Ahh, the sweet science of violently hoisting obscene amounts of iron over your head. We're talking about weightlifting here, folks. The sport of Kings. The power. The prestige. The absolutely grotesque injuries. It's got it all.

 We here at Sports Pros(e) have all decided to skip our afternoon workouts in lieu of this ugliness.

If for some reason you wish to see the video of this injury, you're sick. Why would you even want to watch that? You can find it here, but what is wrong with you?
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It is now officially OK have Devin Hester play quarterback in Madden. (Image courtesy of

Perhaps inspired by the outlandish A-11 offense, the Bears tried out a few tricks of their own during their practice last night. Bears blogfather Brad Biggs has the scoop on Devin Hester lining up as a quarterback.

"Devin Hester threw passes in the morning and evening practices out of different plays. It will be interesting to see when these plays are used in the preseason/regular season. Shotgun plays where he could run a draw and plays that get him on the perimeter where he has a run/pass option are going to be fun to watch. Teams are going to have to respect the possibility he is going to pass because he has a strong arm."

Dudes everywhere are frantically adjusting their Madden 2009 depth charts to reflect this development.


Paperwork says these "suitable" gals are 16 years old. Bela Karolyi  says they're "half people." (AP Photo)

Just when you thought we'd actually experience an Olympiad sans Bela Karolyi, the Romanian Rabble Rouser was back on our TV screens again last night telling Bob Costas, in so many words, that the Chinese are cheaters when it comes to female gymnastics.

It would seem -- and pretty much anyone with two eyes and more than a passing degree of common sense would agree -- that the Chinese girls are not quite of American driving age. Indeed, IOC rules state that you must at least turn 16 years of age the year you compete in the games.

But luckily, the Chinese gymnasts had passports that clearly (and evidently earnestly) stated that the girls are, in fact, 16 years old.

Wait a minute ... you mean to tell me the Chinese government might have doctored some passports to make these ladies older on paper? Chinese gymnasts are using fake IDs?

Well I guess that makes me and a few teenage Chinese gymnasts kindred spirits.

Truth be told, this author was once in possession of false identification during his time at the University of Missouri. And I guess you could say that, like the Chinese gymnasts, I did it because I also wanted to hang with older women.

The Chinese succeeded, bringing home gold. I, on the other hand, can't recall brining anything noteworthy home. And looking back, that's quite alright with me.

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Jason Bay stands in front of a big green board with a whole bunch of crooked numbers on it during Tuesday's game. (AP photo)

Here's a little trick I've found helpful in determining how great of a sporting event you are watching. You simply imagine taking a girl to the game for a date early on in the relationship, before she's caught on to your hopeless sports geekdom. Then imagine trying to keep it together and act cool throughout said event. If the action is so compelling that you'd most likely ruin your chance at another date, rest assured that you're watching sports magic.

The Red Sox-Rangers game at Fenway tonight was one of those games where not acting like a complete psycho was probably a bit of a problem for some Bostonians.

Ladies, you really don't understand what a 19-17 baseball game does to guys. Give that boy another chance.
Chris Kaman, the Los Angeles Clippers center and all-around interesting dude, is playing basketball in the Olympics. For the Germans.

Now, Kaman attended high school just a few miles from my childhood home in Grand Rapids, Mich. and was, in fact, born in America. If you're wondering why is he playing for the Germans, you're not alone. His dad would also like to know.

Regardless of what you think of the big man's decision, one thing we can all agree on is that his skills on the court are better than his skills as a barber. Kaman admitted that he responsible for this abomination:

dirkshaved.jpg(AP photo)

Yes, thats 2007 NBA MVP and German-born Dirk Nowitzki. And those are five Olympic-inspired rings Kaman shaved into his head.

The pagentry of the Olympiad, folks. Drink it in.
If all this Olympic tomfoolery has you down, the good people of Hong Kong have just the thing to renew your faith in sports. Thats right, we're talking about Olympic Games for pets. Or, more accurately, the "Olympets"

 It's a little disconcerting that this event will go on for ten weeks, while the human version of the Olympiad lasts a paltry 17 days.

LeBron James and the rest of Team USA pal around with President Bush. (AP photo)

LeBron James is rapidly becoming our favorite athlete around here at Sports Pros(e). When he's not showcasing his freakish skills on the hardwood, he's navigating Facebook, hosting Saturday Night Live and floating the idea of playing in Europe for the right price. The almost-Akron Zip earns even more brownie points for his reaction to meeting the leader of the free world, George W. Bush.

"What's up, pops?" James inquired.

Because both Kevin and I make the league minimum, and are too busy with video games and girls, we've never had the chance to meet the president. But there's no way either of us could be half as cool as LeBron if presented the opportunity.

Oh yeah, James and his band of ballers delivered the hurt to Angola today.

Trouble in paradise

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Lin Miaoke, a nine-year-old Chinese girl who performed at the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics, returns to the Xizhongjie Primary School of Dongcheng District in Beijing. A 7-year-old Chinese girl's face was "not suitable" for the Olympics opening. (AP photo)


As these games of the 29th Olympiad roll on, we are learning that not all is going according to plan, despite the best efforts of the Chinese to micromanage the living daylights out of everything.

For example, though the Games have been sold out forever, many fans apparently have come disguised as empty seats. This has been blamed on, among other things, the fact that scalping technology in China lags behind what goes on in Wrigleyville.

There are storm clouds on another front as well. On the heels of reports that fireworks were faked for the Opening Ceremony, now we learn that cute little girl singer was pulling a Milli Vanilli during her (not-so-live) performance of "Ode to the Motherland."

All this evidence of trickery and manipulation is distressing to us here at Sports Pros(e). The next thing you know, someone at NBC might decide to mess with the time-space continuum by showing highlights whenever they want instead of airing them live.
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The Bears may be the object of scorn for many sports writers, but this grumpy grizzly  should buck up because there's always a bright side when it comes to the Bears. (AP Photo)

I was perusing the copious amounts of articles circulating the Intertube about the Bears this morning when it dawned on me that not many people think the Monsters of the Midway are going to be very good this season. In fact, it seems like no one has a single kind word to say about them: Certainly not their former team members or coaches. Not their current players or coaches. And definitely not the fans. 

Even the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette is at a loss for kind words about the Bears. The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette! They love the Bears in Fort Wayne.***

Well that's one bandwagon of seething negativity I'm officially refusing to flag down. Welcome to the first in what I'm sure will become an ongoing series: Bears Brightside.

And while I've expressed my own lack of love for the organization in the past, mine is a solely economic disdain that stems from the team's astronomical ticket prices. My criticism stops today though. From here, I'll only celebrate the brilliance that is Jerry Angelo. The genius that is Lovie Smith. And the benevolence that is the McCaskey family.

We'll start with a few reasons why I'm excited about the 2008-2009 Chicago Bears:

1. So what if Chicago is where wide receivers go to die, Mushin Muhammad? I'd rather die in Chicago than live a single day in the sprawl-and-drawl infested "city" of Charlotte.

2. Sure, it's wishful thinking, but even if the Bears are less than stellar this season, no one will notice until November thanks to a pair of basebally teams connected by the Red Line and ... October-scented destiny?

3. As pointed out by the stalwart Matt Trowbridge of the Rockford Register Star, the Bears refuse to engage in back-and-forth ballyhoo with former teammates. This is pro football's equivalent of "I'm rubber, you're glue. Whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you." Well done, Bears. Your silence is deafening.

4. In today's colum, "Soft? Evidence piling up," Daily Herald writer Mike Imrem outlines his own unique brand of disdain for Bears QB Rex Grossman, punctuated by the ever-so-clever quip, "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me a fourth time, shame on me." Really, Imrem? A variation of a cliche? That's the best you've got to criticize Rex Grossman? At least you could have taken a page from the book of Ron "Mental Midget" Rivera and thrown some alliteration in there. All the criticism of Rex Grossman is only setting him up to exceed expectations. You cannot tear him down any more than he's already been torn down. He has no where to go but up. And if up's not in Rex's cards, Kyle Orton's golden beard of unvetted talent will gladly take the wheel. The real question -- which will I start in Madden 09, the release of which I shall celebrate today by purchasing said time-waster.

5. The ghosts of Rashaan Salaam and Curtis Enis have deemed that Matt Forte will have one good season with the Bears -- and that season is his rookie season. So let us welcome this year's 1,000-yard rusher, Matt Forte.

6. Devin Hester is like water.

*** I was told this by someone who grew up there and referred to the town only as 'Fort Fun.'

Disregarding the cautionary tales about what happens to those whom abandon their long hair, Manny Ramirez will be saying 'adios' to his trademark dreadlocks within the week.
Like many of my generation, much of my early football knowledge was gleaned through countless hours of Tecmo Bowl. Sure, there were only four plays to choose from and Lawrence Taylor could block every kick, but it delivered valuable lessons about eligible receivers and toss sweeps. Then Tecmo Super Bowl burst on the scene, breaking all the rules and opening the playbook wide open with eight plays. A ten-year-old sports nut couldn't have asked for anything more.

It's with the same excitement that I've been discovering the wild world of the A-11 offense lately.  Here's an example of a play from this far-fetched, futuristic brand of matriculating the ball up the field:
a-11.jpgYeah, that's really a play. Not exactly three yards and a cloud of dust.

Jamie Moyer isn't ruling out playing until he's 50. (Tom Cruze/Sun-Times file)

Earlier today we brought you the story of the 104-year-old Cubs fan who wants to throw out the first pitch before a playoff game at Wrigley. It contained a reference to the advanced age of Philidelphia Phillies pitcher Jamie Moyer, which was only marginally necessary at the time. But we here at Sports Pros(e) feel mildly vindicated now that the crafty lefty has addressed just how long he might play.

For the record, I think Moyer has a much better chance to climb the hill on the North side this October than our centenarian friend.

NFL preseason: Bengals vs. Packers (ESPN, 7 p.m.

Don't know if you guys have been reading the papers, but there's been a little turmoil up there in Green Bay this summer. Seems the whole mess has to do with a guy named Brett, who apparently quit and then wanted his job back. This is just the kind of story you expect the sports media to pick up and carry like they're Dorsey Levens (he's still relevant, right?).

Anyhoo, this other guy -- Aaron Rodgers -- is going to start for the Packers tonight. And the game is on ESPN. What are the chances?
In a blog post that is absolutely sizzling the internets today, NBC analyst and fashion icon Craig Sager reveals a bit of his soul to Dan Steinberg at the Washington Post. Am I the only one who didn't know of Sager's mascot prowess at Northwestern or that he married a former Luvabull? Those two revelations alone are enough for me to call a permanent time-out on mocking his wardrobe.

And now, because we can, the Luvabulls in action:

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It's usually feast or famine when Adam Dunn steps into the box. (AP photo)

Adam Dunn, the mountain of a man best known for his tape-measure home runs, habitual fanning and choppy play out in the outfield, has been traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Reds will get minor-league pitcher Dallas Buck plus two players to be named later. We here at Sports Pros(e) could not be happier about a man named Dallas Buck being involved in any type of news story.
Those of you who watched the Opening Ceremonies Friday night may be devastated to find out that some of the amazing fireworks you saw were -- uhhh -- not so real.

Yes, we live in a world where fake fireworks are created in a lab and passed off as real to a worldwide audience. Just like the Greeks envisioned when they started these games.
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As a long-suffering Detroit Lions supporter, I've grown accustomed to fits of frustration every Sunday afternoon in the fall. It's just the nasty reality of rooting for the hapless Honolulu blue and silver. But one fan decided not to wait for the season to start -- or a game for that matter -- to let it turn ugly and voice his displeasure with the effort of a certain wide receiver.

The best part about this is Roy Williams unwittingly offering up a brilliant plot for a sitcom in which an NFL wide receiver trades places with an accountant, leading to an avalanche of hilarity.
Insert a Jamie Moyer or Charlie Hough joke here. A 104-year-old Cubs fan is currently warming up in the bullpen, waiting for the opportunity to take the mound at Wrigley during the playoffs. 

Rays of hope in Tampa

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The Tampa Bay Rays won set a franchise record for wins in a season yesterday. (AP photo)

Our excitement concerning the Tampa Bay Rays sudden awakening has been well-documented, but it bears repeating exactly how much of an aberration this season has been. Yesterday those devilish Rays won their franchise-record 71st game of the year.

Plenty of room left on the bandwagon, folks.

If you're anything like me when it comes to sporting, you're far more concerned with how you look than you are with how you play. Had I only known how cool the average handballer looks while playing, I would have surely put the whole journalism thing on hold long ago and set my sights on the more aesthetically friendly world of international handball competition.

(Not) live from Beijing

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People on the West Coast want their Michael Phelps as it happens, not on tape-delay. (AP photo)


You may not have heard, but the hardy folks on the West Coast now have another natural disaster to cope with.

Judging by the comments on the World Wide Web, it is worse than mudslides, earthquakes and the election of a governor whose qualifications primarily consist of him being one tough dude.

The problem is -- brace yourselves -- NBC's decision not to air its primetime coverage of the Beijing Olympics live. Instead, nightly broadcasts will be on a three-hour tape delay for folks along the Pacific rim.

(That is also the scenario in the Mountain Time Zone, but because no one actually lives there, it is not considered a big deal.)

So a lot of people in La-La Land have their shorts in a bunch because they can't see Michael Phelps swim real fast in real time. Never mind that they can watch it live on NBC's Web site and, in any case, one Michael Phelps race pretty much looks like every other one.

No, these people are absolutely outraged about NBC's decision to deny them their inalienable right to watch the U.S. lose in sports they've never heard of (team handball, anyone?) as it happens.

But if they want live TV from NBC, they'll just have to chill till the weekend. Oh wait, "Saturday Night Live" is in reruns till Aug. 30. So much for that idea ...


Your caption could appear here. (AP Photo)

Here's the leader of the free world pressing the flesh with beach volleyball legend Kerri Walsh. This really doesn't need much of a lead-in, but it seems like time to announce the inaugural "you write the caption" contest here at Sports Pros(e). Have at it, folks.
My active indifference toward the NBA makes it hard to get riled up about the latest Ben Gordon developments, but we're driven to give you all the breaking news we can here at Sports Pros(e), regardless of personal preferences. The first thought that came to my meager, NBA-void mind was Gordon jettisoning off to Europe. Thankfully, a more savvy veteran was on hand to reject that notion out of hand.

An actual fake dinosaur threw out the first pitch at the White Sox game last night.


We here at Sports Pros(e) are not just sports geeks who sit around all day trying to figure out which one of the Cardinals' closers by committee Tony La Russa will hand the ball to tonight. (Though if you have any inside info on that, please let us know.)

We also are music geeks and are basking in the afterglow of Lolla (as well as three days of sun and not enough SPF 45 in the right places). Besides the awesome sets of Okkervil River, Bloc Party and many more, we were impressed by the fest organizers' commitment to going green with all the recycling containers and whatnot.

So in that spirit, we now dust off a gently used joke and offer it up again ...

I don't know about you, but growing up there was a ton of backyard Whiffle ball played in the backyard. The little brother and myself were pretty much obsessed with emulating our favorite major-leaguers. We'd pick a squad (usually he was the Tigers, I gravitated toward the Yankees) and alternate batting right and left-handed through their order.  That meant studying their stances until we could pull off flawless impressions when their spot came up. But our attempts pale in comparison to the incomparable Batting Stance guy.

An internet phenomenon, the ultra-observant BSG has seemingly devoted his life to perfecting the quirks and mannerisms of every player on every team since 1980. Without further ado, here's a sampling of his work:

White Sox


Say it ain't possibly so at some point down the line, Lebron. Just days after I joined his Facebook army, a "person close to James" says the best player in the NBA may eventually take his game overseas.

I'll leave that group, LeBron. Just test me.

Tailgating and football!! That's what Chicago does! (AP Photo)

The Bears, already mired in a severely deep quarterback quagmire and open to criticism, have put the kibosh on tailgating in the Soldier Field parking lot. This announcement comes on the heels of Roger Goodell and the NFL rolling out a new fan code of conduct, which has some readers worrying about the crackdown on drunk duder-y:

mkenny333 wrote:

"This is an outrage: being a drunk lunatic is part of the Soldier Field experience. Everybody that goes to a Bears game understands that loud and sometimes obnoxious chanting etc... is part of the NFL and, more specifically, the Bears experience. This isn't a high school volley ball match; most of the hardcore fans are guys in their 20's and 30's that enjoy having some beers and turning into an absolute maniac for the Bears. Now a few nay sayers are gonna ruin it for the true fan base. Just like no one wants to admit gambling is at the heart of the NFL, nor does the organization want to admit that drunk dudes constitute a majority of the fans in attendance."

I don't want to live in a world where my God-given right to turn into an absolute maniac for the Bears is infringed on, but I also understand the need to calm down the drunken masses who forfeit their rights to be a boisterous fan when it infringes on others' enjoyment of the game.

What do you think about the new rules, Bears fans?

We're sorry you're trying to kill us. That was the message the US had to delicately convey to the Chinese recently after a foursome of US cyclists landed in Beijing wearing masks.

The cyclists were criticized for taking the precautions they deemed necessary to combat the Olympic host city's well-documented pollution problem.

This didn't go over too well with the some of the more easlily offendable Beijingians. But it wasn't the fact that the athletes were wearing the masks that irked them -- it was that they donned them in the airport, before they had even stepped outside.

This allegedly abhorrent act promted US Olympic Committee chief executive Jim Scherr AND USOC chairman Peter Ueberroth to publicly denounce the athletes' mask usage, according to the AP article.

Yet another reason why these Olympics will be the first since the 1980 games (when I was 1) that won't interest me.

For a more detailed, first-hand account of Beijing's pollution problem, see our own Jay Mariotti, who has mastered the ancient Chinese art of streaming video casts.

At what point of this whole Brett Favre mess is Roman Polanski going to jump out from behind the bushes and yell, "Cut!"? The latest: Favre admits this just isn't going to happen between him and the Packers.

Jimmy Clausen may have gotten himself in some hot water for drinking some cold ones. (AP Photo)

Notre Dame, bastion of all things football and Catholic, must now have the alleged drinking habits of their starting quarterback, Jimmy Clausen scrutinized. What looks like a mild game of flip-cup might ultimately lead to the Irish lining up another quarterback under center for the season opener Sept. 6 against San Diego State should any disciplinary action be pursued.

This stuff pisses me off. Why, you ask?

Every little quirk that makes the Cubs the Cubs may soon be no more. Today we learn that some Cubs aren't all that fond of all the day games. Since the installation of lights in 1988, the Cubs have increased the number of night games at Wrigley from zero to 30. Any additional increase will make Lee Elia-inspired rants completely obsolete. Don't they know that these day-night battles never end well:

And, more troubling, if the Cubs aren't careful they're going to ruin their most distinguishing feature come October.
McKinney Movie Basketball_001.jpgJimmy McKinney stars in the independent film "Streetballers." (AP photo)

The Quin Snyder era is a dark time in the annals of Missouri basketball history. I remember it well as a time full of dashed hopes and high drama.

Turns out that drama has rubbed off on one of its key figures -- former Mizzou guard and four-year starter Jimmy McKinney. McKinney is the star of the indie film "Streetballers."

Though McKinney never reached his potential at Mizzou, apparently the guy's got some real acting chops, according to the AP article.

As a Mizzou alum, I can attest that Missourians take their independent film making very seriously, so this one will probably make the rounds at a handful of some of the smaller festivals. The real question will be whether McKinney will eschew his Euro hoops career with the Deutsche Bank Skyliners Frankfurt (The Fightin' Skyliners!) for the glam life of a baller turned baller.

Though this is the first film credit for any of the Snyder-era players, there has been a film made about rumored booger-sugar aficionado Quin Snyder himself. Depp's performance is spot-on.


A two-minute look at the four biggest stories from last night's games:

National League
Astros 2, Cubs 0
Cub fans are treated to a surprise filming of "The Perfect Storm 2: Nor'easter on the North Side." And then cheated out of one inning of baseball by Mother Nature.

Reds 6, Brewers 3
Prince Fielder will not have you acting like that in his dugout.

American League
Rangers 9, Yankees 5
The Joba rules are not completely infallible after all.

Indians 5, Rays 2
Cliff Lee wins 15th game, politely asks teammates to pull own weight.

Sports fans, if you haven't had the pleasure, meet Lang Lang.

In the midst of this weekend's Lollapalooza madness, I did manage to read an interesting article from a New York City-based magazine that refuses to put all of its content online. We here at Sports Pros(e) would rather not provide our readers with links to article abstracts but in this case, it's the best we can do.

Turns out that athletes aren't the only ones looking forward to a certain event that NBC would like to remind you will kick off in four -- count 'em -- four days! Classical Chinese pianist and all-around creep-me-out eccentric Lang Lang is the subject of the New Yorker article, which reveals Lang Lang's diabolical plan to unleash himself upon the world during the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Pat Summitt gave away more money today than Devin Hester earned last year. (AP photo)

Pat Summitt doesn't need any help handling her finances. So butt out, Kevin Allen. The most famous of all orange pantsuit-wearing coaches will donate $600,000 to the University of Tennessee.

This picture illustrates the outfit that caused such a media stir. (Gordon Wittenmyer/Sun-Times)

When I wrote that Erin Andrews should be left alone a few days back I had no idea that such a stern media backlash against Mike Nadel, who wrote the piece in question, would be coming.

Columns like this one from our own Jay Mariotti have become common fare in the wake Nadel's criticisms. Andrews, who discussed the topic with Michael Rand of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, is saddened by the whole ordeal.


Alexander Solzhenitsyn's name would garner a high score in Scrabble. (AP Photo)


We may be mostly concerned with fun and games here at Sports Pros(e), but we are writers after all. As such, we would be remiss if we did not note the death over the weekend of Alexander Solzhenitsyn, a Nobel Prize-winning author of novels and non-fiction works that exposed the moral bankruptcy of the Soviet state.
When Manny Ramirez falls, he falls fast. Mere hours after donning Dodger blue for the first time, Ramirez announced Los Angeles will be the last stop on the crazy train that is Manny Being Manny.

Who wouldn't take the words of a sloppily dreadlocked, oft-disinterested man wearing jersey No. 99 seriously?

Honus Wagner was uncomfortable having his card sold with tobacco. And also in that ridiculously heavy wool uniform buttoned all the way up. (AP Photo)

Allow me a fleeting nostalgic moment. Every month I'd wait with great anticipation to pick up the latest edition of Beckett Baseball Card Monthly, the foremost authority on trading card value. Once I got my hot little hands on this Bible, I'd retire to my quarters and proceed to look up each and every card in my collection.

Kudos to the Carolina Panthers for providing a break from this Brett Favre saga and reminding us what NFL Training Camp is really about: teammates throwing hands.

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