A hearty stew of offbeat sports and pop culture.

December 2008 Archives

auldlangsyne.jpgMiami quarterback Robert Marve released from his scholarship. Who wouldn't be happy in Miami? (Sun-Sentinel)

Apparently, there's a Superhero Registry. Someone alert Dwight Schrute. (KNXV)

When making your list of this year's biggest losers, don't forget Cuban taekwando and ref-kicking enthusiast Angel Matos. (From the archives)

Probably a good idea to brush up on those pesky "Auld Lang Syne" lyrics. (Wikipedia)

Top 10 erroneous sports columns of the year. (Real Clear Sports)
Former NFL star and Michigan State Spartan Andre Rison was arrested for public drunkenness early Monday morning in San Antonio.

"Rison, who was selected for the Pro Bowl five times in the 1990s, was detained after police responded to a call about a public disturbance at 2 a.m. Monday, KENS-TV, San Antonio, reported. He was at the Crowne Plaza Riverwalk.

He paid a fine and was released at 10:30 a.m. Monday.

Rison has been arrested several times for failure to pay child support and spent about three weeks in jail in December 2004.

Between Plaxico Burress, Rison and Charles Rogers, MSU wide receivers are really dropping the ball lately.

Pun heavily intended.

Only a few more days until Javon Ringer can cleanse that palate.

Andre Rison arrested for drunkenness   [UPI]
Andre Rison 'official site'   [AndreRison.com]

Congrats to Redskins tight end Chris Cooley, whose blog was named one of PCMag.com's favorite of 2008.

Today's post from Cooley's blog recaps the top ten posts of the season from chriscooley47.blogspot.com including some racy photos of Cooley's wife-to-be and video of his bout with an Onstar device.

Though it had to be taken down, special mention was made of a September post in which Cooley photographed his playbook to show readers while studying in the nude, thus accidentally exposing his swimsuit parts
patrick.jpgDanica Patrick, auto racing's most famous woman, was cited for driving 54 mph in a 35 mph zone earlier this month in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Ironic, don't you think.

Speed Freak -- Danica Patrick Busted Again   [TMZ]
You may have noticed that "Arrested Development" references routinely pop up in this here blog space. Kevin Allen and I have had many conversations about how it was the smartest, most well-written show on television and share a common disbelief that it was canceled.

And, for our money, the best character of the whole lot was Tobias Funke. So we couldn't help but be amazed at just how eerie this story, which moved across the Sun-Times News Group Wire early this morning, was.

"A Blue Man Group actor and the assistant principal of Maine East High School were arrested at a park along the lakefront on the North Side and charged with public indecency Monday night, police said.

Darren Stephens, 45, of the 1400 block of West Leland Avenue and Michael Pressler, 48, of the 1700 block of North Halsted Street were arrested without incident about 5:45 p.m. in the 4500 block of North Simonds Drive, police said.

Pressler, who is the Asst. Principal at Maine East High School in northwest suburban Park Ridge, and Stephens, who is a performer with the Blue Man Group, were both charged with public indecency, a misdemeanor, after they were found allegedly engaged in a sex act on Chicago Park District property, police said.
We posted this, made a few never-nude and "The Man Inside Me" jokes and moved on.

Well, it turns out this story is just getting weirder.

Kevin, reporting in from the office, says the newsroom has been inundated with calls from those associated with the Blue Man Group saying that Darren Stephens has nothing to do with the troupe.

"Police had previously said one of the men was an actor with the Blue Man Group, but a spokesman for the group said Tuesday morning the man has never been associated with the troupe."
In addition, Blue Man Group spokesman Nick Harkin sent us this a few moments ago to reiterate this statement.

"Blue Man Group Issues Correction

Published reports today inaccurately identified a man named Darren Stephens who was arrested in Chicago as a "Blue Man Group actor."

No individual by the name of Darren Stephens has ever been employed by Blue Man Group as a performer or in any other capacity.

So again. Not part of the Blue Man Group.

Men arrested for indecency in park   [Sun-Times]
The Boston Red Sox made a play for Florida Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez. (CNN SI)

Mychal Bell, one of the Jena Six, accidentally shoots himself in the shoulder while cleaning a gun. (CNN)

For the hipsters: Zooey Deschanel and Ben Gibbard are engaged. Good for she and him. (LA Times)

Guess we weren't the only ones who wondered which girl was Chase Daniel's girlfriend last night. (FanIQ)

Bristol Palin gives birth to a child, names him Tripp. That's about right. (Washington Post)
tampabreeze.jpgThe Lingerie Football League sure sounds like something we'd like to check out. It's like if a Quick Hits column magically came to life, replete with scantily clad babes tossing the pigskin around.

But all in not well in this real world circuit based on fantasy.

Today we get news that Melissa J. Berry, a rookie linebacker for the Tampa Breeze, is suing her ex-boyfriend Marc Dawson for allegedly posting nude photos of her without her permission.

"She said he should know better because he markets himself as an expert on "healthy relationships" who has studied "success, performance and human behavior for over 25 years."

Dawson said Berry, who used to be a dancer at Thee Dollhouse, willingly posed for the photos and that he "never made anything public.

"This is nothing but an ex-girlfriend trying to cause problems," he said. "For her to say that these pictures were taken against her knowledge is untrue because she is smiling in them. She takes her clothes off for a living and tells people I am doing all this other stuff. What she's doing now is creating a drama because there are pictures out there of her."

Ahh, love. Harder to find, even harder to keep. Especially when naked pictures start happening.

Lingerie Bowl Player Sues Ex-Boyfriend Over Nude Pictures   [Tampa Bay Online]
bigbaby.jpgIt seems time marches on after an 0-16 season. Somehow.

Not an easy day to be a coach in the NFL. Eric Mangini, Rod Marinelli and Romeo Crennel all given their walking papers. (NFL.com)

'40s femme fatale star Ann Savage dies at 87. (Associated Press)

Tony Romo collapsed in the shower after collapsing on the field in Philadelphia. (Dallas Morning News).

California woman gives birth to 14-pound baby. That's gotta hurt. (FOX News).

Could Bill Parcells really be headed to the Lions? That'd be great. (Detroit Free Press)

Even as fans are lining up to buy playoff tickets in Miami uncertainty looms over the future of the Miami Dolphins' leadership -- namely Bill Parcells.

There's a chance the team's Executive Vice President of football operations won't serve in that position next season. Even before yesterday's division-clinching win over the New York Jets there was talk that Parcells might choose to scoot if owner Wayne Huizenga sells the team.

"Yes, Parcells signed a four-year contract with Wayne Huizenga last December, which suggests he has three more years remaining in Miami regardless. But the truth is Parcells is 67 years old and suffered some health issues earlier this year. So for him, football is really a year to year question regardless of what a contract might suggest.

"Parcells also has a clause in his contract that allows him to walk away from the Dolphins if, at any point, Huizenga is not his immediate boss. And that clause would require the Dolphins to pay Parcells the entire remaining portion of the contract, or $9 million after this season."

The Florida Sun-Sentinel reported in October that Huizenga would be rushing the sale of the Dolphins for fear that Barack Obama would raise taxes. 

Elsewhere, the Jets have fired Eric Mangini in the wake of that team's epic collapse in the second half of the season. Read all about it at the New York Times. And a subject -- the future of quarterback Brett Favre -- is creeping back into the headlines.
For a guy who's never played a single down of college football, Oklahoma Sooner signee Jamarkus McFarland is sure making a lot of headlines.

A couple days ago, we praised an article by New York York Times freelancer Thayer Evans that detailed the recruiting process that McFarland and his mother endured. Rivals.com is reporting today that McFarland is denying pieces of the NYT article that were lifted from a paper he wrote for his English class.

From the NYT article:

But the best summation of his experience might have come from a paper he wrote for his English class comparing Oklahoma and Texas. The paper, "Red River Rivals Recruit," includes a description of a wild party hosted by Longhorns fans at an upscale hotel in Dallas after the Oklahoma-Texas game on Oct. 11. 

"I will never forget the excitement amongst all participants," McFarland wrote. "Alcohol was all you can drink, money was not an option. Girls were acting wild by taking off their tops, and pulling down their pants. Girls were also romancing each other. Some guys loved every minute of the freakiness some girls demonstrated. I have never attended a party of this magnitude."

The rebuke comes from Rivals.com:

McFarland said he embellished a passage taken from the English paper detailing free alcohol and drugs and topless women at a party of Texas fans in Dallas. 

"Some things we knew were kind of mixed up because (the reporter) got a paper of mine," McFarland said. "The paper I wrote for an English class - it was spiced up a little bit for class. But a majority of it was correct.

McFarland tells Rivals.com that he and his mother stand by the rest of the article and that the majority of the English paper was not embellished.

Still, it's clear my previous praise of Evans' work was a bit premature if the "best summation of his experience" is, in fact, somewhat fictionalized or "spiced up" as McFarland puts it. 

I'd be interested to speak with Evans directly about this, but until that happens I can only speak for myself. As a journalist who has covered a broad range of topics, I would never quote pieces of an unpublished document without first confirming its veracity with the author. While nothing in the article explicitly says so, the reader gets the impression that the English paper is something that McFarland shared with the reporter and was aware the reporter would be making public. That it wasn't (and he didn't) is irresponsible and shady. The English paper is presented as fact in the article. To not have verified it as the legitimate claim of a source is lazy journalism.

It's a shame Evans didn't do his due diligence on this piece. Without this glaring and inexcusable flaw, it could have been a great piece of journalism. Ironically, I don't think Evans needed to use the stuff that was spiced up. Without the bit lifted from the English paper, it's still compelling story. That is -- if he never used that information or had confirmed which parts of it were true instead of quoting it directly, it's still a story worth telling and worth reading. But those are huge 'ifs' considering the situation ...
2008 was a remarkable year for Chicago sports. Culling through all the headlines to come up with the top ten sports stories of the year was not an easy task, but luckily the Sun-Times sports staff gets paid to do such things.

lions1.jpgYou're driving on the interstate and you see a horrific crash. The traffic slows and your heart races. You don't want to look, but you have to. It's one of those indelible traits hardwired into us.

We can't look away from a mangled tragedy.

We can't look away from miserable failure.

We want to. We should. But we can't.

The Detroit Lions -- even in the eyes of the most wide-eyed optimist -- are helpless. They're a mangled, irreparable mess. They've lost all 15 of their games this year and 22 of their last 23 overall.

In short: they are that crash. And we are those gawkers.

They'd long to be a laughingstock. People stop laughing when it gets too depressing, too pathetic.

Their much maligned general manager, Matt Millen, was finally driven out of town. They haven't won since. Reporters are asking about the marital life of coach Rod Marinelli's daughter. The starting center is challenging fans to fist fights.

Mercifully, the Lions' season will end on Sunday in Green Bay. They'll be attempting to become the first team to lose all 16 games in a season.

Just one year after the New England Patriots achieved a perfect regular season, we may see the most imperfect one.

The Lions have not won in Green Bay this century, are 10.5-point underdogs and most importantly, have done nothing to instill any kind of confidence in anyone. But none of these seemingly important facts have kept cornerback Nick Fisher from doing his best Joe Namath impersonation.

" "I think we're going to shock a lot of people with a great game. I feel like we're going to win," he said. "Not to take anything away from Green Bay, but we're a great football team. I know the record doesn't show it, but I'm going to say it."
Growing up in Michigan and learning the game through jaw-dropping Barry Sanders runs, it has been sad to see the decline of my favored team. I went through the typical phases of denial, grief, anger and acceptance. I even tried to defect to the Chicago Bears -- a two-week experiment that may ultimately cost Lovie Smith & Co. a playoff spot and confirmed I am a football fan pariah.

But I wonder if I'm alone in my desire to see the Lions lose yet again. A 1-15 season is putrid, terrible and embarrassing. An 0-16 season is historic, unbelievable and something many thought they'd never see. And honestly, at this point does it even matter if they win one game?

Lions fans are resilient. They are able to pick themselves up from the mat after particularly brutal losses. This season has knocked down even the most hardcore fans for the count. I doubt if an improbable win in Green Bay will do anything to buoy confidence for the future.

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe the masses want to see Detroit rise up and shock the world. Maybe they're the underdog everyone can root for. It's unlikely. But then again, so was an 0-16 season.

So here's to being perfectly imperfect. To excelling in never excelling. To reaching the pinnacle of the lowest points.

It's been a disastrous, gut-wrenching season of epic failure. It'd be a shame to ruin it now.

One thing is for certain.

We'll be watching.

Lord knows we can't look away.
randy-johnson.jpgRandy Johnson, better known throughout major league locker rooms as the Big Unit, signed a one-year, $8 million contract with the San Francisco Giants. (MLB.com)

Death toll in the Gaza Strip air attacks currently at 170. (CNN)

It looks like the public has discovered watch-movies.net, where free streaming movies flow like wine. At least until it inevitably gets shut down. (Watch-Movies)

UFC 92 is tonight. If you're into that kind of thing. (UFC)

Join our Facebook group. We'll poke you. (Facebook)
bradygisele.jpgAll-everything quarterback Tom Brady and supermodel Gisele are engaged.

Brady proposed on a private jet on Christmas Eve, according to TMZ. There was also flowers and champagne.


Brady and Gisele -- engaged!   [TMZ]
<b>Apparently, we rushed to judgment on our praise for Thayer Evans' New York Times article on McFarland. Rivals.com is reporting that the English paper cited in Evans' article was embellished. Click here for latest on that.</b>

One of the most highly sought-after nuggets this year in the gold mine that is Texas high school football is Jamarkus McFarland. He's a 6-foot-3, 290-pound defensive tackle from Lufkin High School in Lufkin, Texas.

He's a college coach's dream. In addition to being a gifted athlete, McFarland is a solid student and president of his class. He's also the subject of one of the finest pieces of sports reporting I've read in a long time.

New York Times reporter Thayer Evans followed the 18-year-old's journey from blue-chip recruit this past summer to committed Oklahoma Sooner as of 12:01 Christmas morning. [Read the full story here]

After narrowing his choices to college football powerhouses USC, LSU, Texas and Oklahoma, in the end it came down to just Texas and OU.

Some of the details that emerge in the article about the schools' recruitment tactics are startling, but not entirely surprising.

They're startling for the simple fact that stories of recruitment transgressions and improprieties are so often assumed, glossed over and rarely printed in any reputable news sources. That the allegations appear in the pages of the New York Times makes you wonder whether the NCAA will follow up with a proper investigation.

The Times published part of a paper written by McFarland for his English class where he detailed a party he attended in Dallas that was hosted by Longhorn fans:

 "I will never forget the excitement amongst all participants," McFarland wrote. "Alcohol was all you can drink, money was not an option. Girls were acting wild by taking off their tops, and pulling down their pants. Girls were also romancing each other. Some guys loved every minute of the freakiness some girls demonstrated. I have never attended a party of this magnitude."

He continued: "The attitude of the people at the party was that everyone should drink or not come to the party. Drugs were prevalent with no price attached."

The article also claims that Texas offered money to McFarland's mother. She claims in the article that the source of any offers did not come from within the Texas athletic department -- something she can only speculate:

"Allegations from the report upset her because she said she had received numerous offers of gifts in exchange for her son to attend Texas. She said she did not believe that Brown or anyone officially with Texas was involved or had any knowledge of the enticements."

"Earlier this month, a former classmate called Adams and asked if she would coax her son into attending Texas. If so, a banker had promised the former classmate any type of loan."

Longhorn fan sites, including Burnt Orange Nation, are blowing up over the issue, questioning whether Evans confirmed certain facts in the article and even claiming some eye-witness accounts of the party in question that dispute McFarland's take. Texas fans are also questioning whether Evans, who attended Oklahoma Wesleyan University (not OU, mind you) was motivated by alleged Sooner fandom in his reporting of this story. [Orangebloods.com]

What do you think? Should this prompt an NCAA investigation? Will it? Let us know what you think of Evans' article.
The theatre world lost two legends:

Eartha Kitt dies. She was 81. [AP News MyWay]

Harold Pinter dies. He was 78. [TimesOnline]

The Lakers won last night's battle and the LA Times brags. Meanwhile, Boston.com reminds us that the Celtics won the war. [Boston.com] [LA Times]

Sammy Sosa is ready to return to Major League Baseball. No word on if he's purchased a new boom box to replace the one that his teammates broke after he left Wrigley in the middle of his final game and lied about it. [ESPN] [NBC Sports]

An NFL team with 10 wins won't make the playoffs this year. And yes ... that team could be the Bears. [USA Today]

The New York Times hints that referees only become famous when they make a bad call -- can't disagree there. [New York Times]

FanHouse wonders if the Lions or Packers will be more motivated for a meaningless game where everyone will be playing to avoid serious injury. [FanHouse]

Pats fans still really miss Tom Brady:

A Fantasy Football Tragedy - watch more funny videos
button.jpgWent and saw "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" last night. Roger Ebert's 2.5 stars may be a little low. Very long, though. And a little creepy at parts.

Bruce Pardo dressed up in a Santa suit and killed 8 people at a party attended by his ex-wife. "It was not an amicable divorce," police say. (AP)

I can't believe no one got me the 2009 Sarah Palin wall calender. (College OTR)

It's Boxing Day! What exactly is Boxing Day? (Wikipedia)

Chicago's ten best concerts of 2008. (Sun-Times)

Inside the Red River recruiting rivalry. Yee-haw. (NY Times)
The day after Christmas is usually a pretty big letdown. You've got a full year until the magical day returns, the big dinner may still be sitting heavy and you've got to get back to work.

It's a lot to handle.

That's why we start today with a feel-good story involving Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade helping a family who was displaced by a fire.

"Wade presented Dawn Smith with the ultimate Christmas gift on Wednesday -- the keys to a her new house, along with some furnishings, clothing and gifts to make sure her family has a joyous holiday, something that didn't seem likely just a few weeks ago.

His Wade's World foundation will make some payments on the home, while Smith and her family get back on their feet.

"That's what I try to teach my kids," said Wade, whose foundation has hosted several charity events this holiday season, mostly for needy children. "It's not about what you're going to receive -- it's what you can give to others from what you've received."

Wade helps family displaced by fire   [ESPN]

sportsprosexmas.jpgChristmas is a time for family, friends, red meat and marquee NBA matchups. As sure as death and taxes, it arrives every year just in time to remind you how much your in-laws creep you out and that you've got no idea what to get that 14-year-old niece of yours.

All of here at Sports Pros(e) wish you and yours the very best on this Christmas Day and that you for your continued readership.
Seahawks fans should be embarrassed of their snowball-throwing antics during Mike Holmgren's farewell lap. Says Seattle Times columnist Steve Kelly, "Another black-eye in the shiner sports year of 2008 for Seattle. [Seattle Times]

All the snowball throwing in Seattle last week inspired Jets defensive lineman Shaun Ellis to toss "a large snow clump in the direction of fans." This, in turn, prompted the NFL to fine Ellis $10,000 -- or, if you're a Sports Pros(e) author, a wee bit o' pocket change. [Newsday]

Illinois beat Missouri 75-59 in the annual Braggin' Rights game, improving their record in the series to 20-8. Kansas City Star columnist Jason Whitlock thinks that's reason enough to end the series. This author, a Mizzou grad, agrees. Enough is enough. Leave us wounded Tigers alone to lick our proverbial wounds. Schedule another game against Middle Tennessee or Wright State. C'mon! [KansasCity.com]

Joe Maddon, coach of the AL champion Tampa Bay Rays, ain't afraid of no Mark Teixeira. [ESPN]

Santa is somewhere near Kusti, Sudan ... which makes us wonder whether the average Sudanese family has a chimney down which the fat man may descend to deliver presents. Speaking of which, does anyone know what the hot toy in the Sudan is this year? [NORAD]

Sweat_Pants.jpgThe Associated Press is reporting that a 9-mm handgun, a rifle, ammunition and the pants and sneakers worn by Plaxico Burress when he accidentally shot himself at a Manhattan nightclub were seized at the wide receiver's New Jersey home yesterday.

The New York Post reports that a suitcase full of money was also found in the house, but that claim has been refuted by Burress' people. If there was a suitcase of cash found, apparently it wasn't seized because it isn't connected to the incident in question -- you know, the incident where a millionaire wearing sweatpants at a nightclub shot himself in the same leg he uses to run routes in his job as a professional football player?

As if all of this news isn't bad enough for the embattled former Super Bowl hero, a South Florida woman is suing Burress for more than $15,000 for injuries she allegedly sustained after he rear-ended her with his uninsured Mercedes last May.

Meanwhile, the Giants are trying to keep it together as they move on without Burress heading into the playoffs. Former Giant great Michael Strahan tells Bloomberg.com: "You won't find one guy in the locker room who says that the reason we lost that game was because Plaxico Burress isn't here. One player doesn't make a team. It's about the 11 guys on that team."

That's encouraging news for Bears fans, who need the Giants to beat the Vikings in order to have any chance at all to make the playoffs.
I was near-death freezing this morning as I walked past Wrigley Field on my way to work, and the thought popped in my head, "I wonder if someone's doing a time-lapse video of the hockey rink installation?"

Sure enough, our friends at the NHL Network have obliged:

The most interesting aspect of this video, however, is not the installation of an NHL-sized hockey rink in Wrigley's left-handed-batterless center field. Indeed, this video gives time-lapse evidence of the swirling hell of winter weather that has consumed my neighborhood and the entire Chicagoland area for the last few weeks. It's even more depressing to watch when you consider there are at least 180 more days of winter left. 180 more days of this wretched cycle of wind, snow, sleet, freezing rain, icy sidewalks and TV weather people telling us that the wind chill makes it feel even worse. Papa Winter punches us in the face daily and we bleed like Ivan Drago in "Rocky IV" -- and yet we stay here. And yet we stay.
bacon1977.jpgBengals great Coy Bacon, labeled "a fierce pass rusher" by the Associated Press, has died. He was 66.

Bacon, a defensive end, played for the Los Angeles Rams from 1968-72 before he was traded to the Bengals for wide receiver Charlie Joiner.

Bengals owner Mike Brown said in a statement:

"Coy was a tremendous player for the Bengals, the greatest pass rusher our team has ever had. After he left the team, he worked hard to make life better for youths in the Ironton area. What he did was admirable, something all of us respect."

Bacon died in his hometown of Ironton, Ohio.

Coy Bacon dies at 66 [LA Times
Ahh, the dreaded winter weather traffic mash up.

I was a part of this video B-roll holiday staple today when I drove home from frigid Chicago to snowy Grand Rapids in a five-hour drive that usually takes three. Seriously, I'd forgotten just how powerful that lake-effect snow can be.

Anyway. Moving on.

Here's some links to peruse while you wait for that Bears-Packers tilt at balmy Soldier Field.

The Russian town of Oymyakon braces for record-breaking cold temperatures. We're talking like  90 degrees below zero. (Associated Content)

Things not to ask a press conference: Do you wish your daughter would have married a better defensive coordinator. Rob Parker missed that memo. (FanHouse)

Porn actor Jack Venice sentenced to life in prison for rape of Washington State University. (Seattle Times)

Tyna Robertson, the mother of Brian Urlacher's child, arrested. (Sun-Times)

Sports Guy's year in review. (Deadspin)
MONTGOMERY, Ill. -- Posting from here in the Chicago 'burbs where the big story right now is that one of my nieces gave the other niece a wet willy. This has led to a battle royale of epic proportion on the living room floor, just inches from where I'm currently watching the Atlanta Falcons doing their best to keep the Bears' playoff hopes alive by beating the Minnesota Vikings.

Apparently there are some other headlines in the sports world:

The Lions are 0-15. This means that more than 50 men in the city of Detroit are getting paid exorbitant sums of money to fail at their jobs on a consistent basis while the auto industry and its workers --  those who would theoretically be cheering the Lions on right now -- flounder. Something about that seems ... I don't know ... sadly poetic? [ESPN]

NHL fans want Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby to go to the All-Star game more than they've ever wanted any hockey player to go to the All-Star game. [FoxSports]

Speaking of hockey, there are two Blackhawks who have been-there and done-that when it comes to playing hockey in outdoor stadiums. [Sun-Times]

Allen Iverson was benched in the final minutes of a close Pistons loss. [FanHouse]

Video: Darned if you do, darned if you don't: Good samaritan getting sued for doing the right thing. [ABC NEWS]

New York Times calls for some rule changes in the Hall of Fame. Good luck on that. I hear those folks are pretty open to change. [New York Times]

Dear New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker,

In the second quarter of today's 47-7 trouncing of the Arizona Cardinals you caught a pass from quarterback Matt Cassel and coasted to the back of the endzone.

At that point, the game was already well in hand. It occurred to you that the proper celebration at that point would be, like a 9-year-old child, to flop onto the ground and create a snow angel.

You were flagged by the referees -- those grinches -- who said your celebration was "excessive."

The only thing that may be excessive about your celebration was the joy with which my heart was filled upon watching you. I wholeheartedly disagree with the referees. Sure ... they'll say they were just doing their job. But c'mon. It's Christmas.

You are everything that is right with professional sports. In a single moment you made a nation happy -- save, of course, a few grumpy Cardinals fans who were probably less appreciative as they were watching a preview of their team's playoff fate. 

Wes, for those readers who haven't seen it yet, I offer the following:

Thank you again for infusing joy into your work. We should all be so willing to do so.


Sports Pros(e)
grossman.JPGYou've probably started to notice that everyone and their brother is trotting out those tried and true "year in review" pieces that recap The Year that Was*. Because we lack originality and are lemurs lemmings to any trend, we couldn't resist doing the same.

So ... we happily announce the nominees for this year's First Annual Grossman Awards, an event that celebrates the biggest gaffes in Chicago sports this year. You can vote for the Fan Choice Awards, peruse our selections and tell us what we left out.

*This would be a sweet name for a screamo band.

Chicago Sports Week in Review   [ChiSportsReview]
dock ellis.JPGThe RCA Dome, former home of the Indianapolis Colts, is no more after a controlled implosion. Not as much fun as an uncontrolled implosion, but safer. (Huffington Post)

It's the Winter Solstice. Plan accordingly. (Geology.com)

Dock Ellis, the former major league pitcher who threw a no-hitter in 1970 while under the influence of LSD, dies at 63. (AP)

Indiana man drowns in manure lagoon. (Sun-Times)

Skip Bayless' best looking quarterbacks. I repeat, Skip Bayless' best looking quarterbacks. (Deadspin).
levi.jpgLevi Johnston was thrust into the limelight out of virtual obscurity on Sept. 2, when we and the rest of the media discovered that he had sired Bristol Palin's unborn child.

His MySpace page was scrutinized, his sexiness debated and his hockey prowess dissected. He appeared at the Republican National Convention, playing the role of supportive boyfriend. It was equal parts awkward, captivating and unbelievable.

Not to mention a story perfect for bloggers and the comments that drive them. It was scandalous, related to politics and unexpected. Strong opinions were voiced, conspiracy theories buoyed.

But with Sarah Palin and the Republican's defeat in the November election, Johnston has been out of the spotlight. You may have even forgotten about him.

Until now.

His mother, Sherry Johnston, was arrested on drug charges Thursday in Wasilla, Ak.

"The Anchorage Daily News reported Friday that Sherry L. Johnston, 42, was arrested by Alaska State Troopers at her Wasilla home and charged with six felony counts of misconduct involving a controlled substance.

The arrest was the result of an "undercover narcotics investigation," according to police. 

Few details were available. Johnston was released on $5,000 bond, according to the paper.

He's back. The title of most famous high school hockey player of all-time may be his after all.

Levi Johnston's Mother Arrested on Drug Charges   [FOX News]

Like most sporty pundits, I have opinions. And from time to time I like to share these opinions in an open forum as a means to spark lively debate.

It is this sentiment that prompted me to spend 10 minutes compiling what I think is the definitive, end-all/be-all top-ten list of Christmas songs ever compiled.

Now, before you go saying things in the comment section like "You left off 'Jingle Bells' you total moron," just remember that it is Christmas and while arguments could be made for why I am or am not a moron, 'complete' is just a bit excessive.

That said, I wouldn't be a very good sports pundit if I didn't preface my list by letting everyone know that I'm right and they're wrong. And anyone who disagrees with me is a total idiot. But seriously ... please do feel free to disagree with me and each other.

So here's the list of Kevin Allen's Almighty, Indisputable, Divinely Conceived Top Ten List of the Greatest Christmas Songs of All Time -- And No, 'Jingle Bells' Is Not One Of Them:
AP Photo

Referee Saul Laverni lifts a pigeon hit by a ball during an Argentinean league soccer match between Tigre and San Lorenzo in Buenos Aires, Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2008. Tigre, San Lorenzo and Boca Juniors take part in a three-way, round-robin battle to determine the winner of Argentina's first-division Apertura title. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
sehornharmon.jpgNo couple in the history of the world has so seamlessly married together the divergent worlds of sports and "Law & Order" as Jason Sehorn and Angie Harmon. Considering these are two of our favorite things in the world, we're excited to report the birth of the couple's third child.

"Emery Hope Sehorn is "a healthy baby girl," according to the rep. The newest addition joins sisters Finley Faith, 5, and Avery Grace, 3.
Angie Harmon Gives Birth to Third Daughter    [People]

Jemele Hill with an impassioned plea for the Lions to complete the season 0-16. My old man wrote this same column on a napkin during a Father's Day dinner, I think. (ESPN)

LenDale White unscripted. Viewer discretion advised. (You Been Blinded)

Chicago covered in frozen precipitation. Sort of a lot of it, too. (Sun-Times)

This is not the wardrobe of your older brother's "SportsCenter," let alone your father's.  (Deadspin)

That auto bailout is happening. Merry Christmas. (FOX News)
deepthroat.jpgW. Mark Felt, the man who leaked information about the Watergate break-in under the alias "Deep Throat" dies at the age of 95.

Bob Woodward would probably be the best person to tell you what this means for your weekend.

 W. Mark Felt, 'Deep Throat' of Watergate, dead at 95   [CNN]
'Deep Throat' Mark Felt Dies at 95   [Washington Post]
'Tis the season to throw shoes?

Just a few days after an Iraqi journalist lobbed his loafers at George W. Bush in Baghdad, the gang over at TNT got in on the footwear-flinging fun.

Here's former Michigan Wolverine and timeout (over) enthusiast Chris Webber giving Barkley the business.

Barkley's reaction was beyond priceless, although not as quick as Bush's. Webber claiming he was doing it for new Auburn coach Gene Chizik only added another layer to the comedy.

As if it needed any.
Tyler Hansbrough became the all-time leading scorer in North Carolina history Thursday night as the Tar Heels disposed of Evansville, 91-73. The previous record was held by Phil Ford.

No one questions Psycho T's dominance in the college game, but much like Sports Pros(e) idol Tim Tebow, many wonder how his game will transfer to the NBA. Like Tebow, he has a lot of doubters.

There's also the argument that he gets a lot of hype that he is white, one that ESPN's Gene Wojciechowski explored in this column. A lot to digest, but I'm with Gene on that one.

What do you think of Hansbrough? What level of success will he have in the NBA?

Hansbrough sets mark in No. 1 UNC's 91-73 win   [AP]
Appreciating Hansbrough isn't a matter of race, just basketball   [ESPN]
cheerleader.JPGIf nothing else, we're committed to delivering you the most comprehensive cheerleading scandal news of any mid-level irreverent sports blog out there. To that end, an update on the Green Bay woman who was accused of stealing her cheerleading daughter's identity is in order.

Today, the woman was found not guilty of identity theft by reason of mental disease or defect. She was committed to the state Department of Health and Family Services for treatment.

Mom not responsible in cheerleading ID theft case     [Sun-Times]
It's certainly been an eventful year for Chicago sports. The Cubs and White Sox each made the playoffs, the Blackhawks and Bulls each got new coaches and Hawk Harrelson kept doing what Hawk Harrelson does.

But for every good moment there was a bad. And for every bad moment a gross.

With that in mind, we present the First Annual Grossman Awards. Nominees will be released Dec. 19 and then we're turning it over to you, the voter.

piven.jpgOle Miss basketball coach Andy Kennedy arrested after allegedly punching a cab driver and spewing racial epitaphs. Box out, dammit! Box out! (AP)

Jeremy Piven is pulling out of his run on Broadway due to a high mercury count. (E!)

Meet America's cheapest family. (KOAA)

You're going to hate the weather pretty soon, Chicago. Storms-a-comin'. (Sun-Times)

What happens when you combine Bloc Party and "Gossip Girl?" (YouTube)
Former Bull, current Knick and finer things enthusiast Eddy Curry racked up quite a debt while building his wardrobe, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday.

"Curry racked up a bill of more than $41,000 at Casual Male Retail Group, and two years later it remains unpaid, the suit says.

...Purchases on Curry's shopping trips, which occurred between January and April 2006, included $22,000 in suits, eight sweaters ranging from a $750 wool crew-neck to a $1,390 cashmere V-neck and more than $3,700 in ties.
 Curry didn't pay for clothes, suit alleges    [Sun-Times]
baugh.jpgIt's hard to imagine football without the passing game. But, as your great-great-grandfather could probably tell you, the aerial game used to be virtually non-existent.

That was before NFL Hall of Famer Slingin' Sammy Baugh revolutionized the forward pass. In addition to redefining the quarterback position, Baugh starred on the defensive side of the ball and handled the kicking duties.

Baugh passed away yesterday at the age of 94.

And, the more I think about it, he may have been the greatest football player of all-time. Certainly the most versatile.

"Baugh was the best all-around player in an era when such versatility was essential. In 1943, he led the league in passing, punting and defensive interceptions. In one game, he threw four touchdown passes and intercepted four as well. He threw six touchdowns passes in a game twice. His 51.4-yard punting average in 1940 is still the NFL record.

"There's nobody any better than Sam Baugh was in pro football," Don Maynard, a fellow West Texas Hall of Famer who played for Baugh, said in a 2002 interview. "When I see somebody picking the greatest player around, to me, if they didn't go both ways, they don't really deserve to be nominated. I always ask, 'Well, how'd he do on defense? How was his punting?'"

It's extremely hard to compare players of different generation, but there is something to be said about a player being able to do it all.

At the very least every Tom Brady type that got the gorgeous girl because he was the quarterback owes Baugh a debt of gratitude. That turning around and handing off thing just doesn't have the same panache as a touchdown pass.

Hall of Fame QB Baugh dead at 94   [ESPN]

It's no secret to Bears Chat regulars that I have a throbbing man crush on Florida quarterback and one-time Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow. His versatility, smile and enthusiasm make him the most compelling college player to watch.

But, some people seem to have what could be only described as a personal vendetta against Tebow -- one that usually takes form in delighting in the fact he probably won't be a successful NFL quarterback.

To that point, the left-handed junior has filed paperwork to assess just what his draft status would be if he made the jump to the NFL.

Here's your chance to don your Mel Kiper Jr. hair and tell us where you think Tebow would be drafted, what position he is best suited for and what level of success he'll enjoy in the NFL. Have at it.

Tebow will file NFL paperwork, but title game won't influence decision   [USA Today]
eddie murphy.jpgMixed martial arts fighter Justin Levens and his wife found shot to death in Southern California. (CNN)

Eddie Murphy is going to play the Riddler in the new Batman movie. Consider me skeptical. (Telegraph)

Chris Paul sets NBA record by notching at least one steal in 106 games. Woooooooo! (NBA.com)

Remember John Walker Lindh, the American who fled to fight with the Taliban? His parents are asking President Bush for a pardon. (New York Times)

Are the Blackhawks for real? Seriously, tell us. (Sun-Times)

Washington Redskins linebacker London Fletcher's career has been free of the off-field drama that plagues many NFL superstars whose names appear regularly in headlines. But that lack of drama, he posits, just may be the reason why he's been overlooked for the Pro Bowl for -- count 'em -- 11 years now despite putting up consistently impressive numbers.

"I understand they can take only two middle linebackers, but to have it happen year after year after year after year after year. I'm an eight-time alternate. I'm the Susan Lucci of the NFL."

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Terrell Owens explains his side of all the drama surrounding America's Team. He doesn't seem to be a big fan of Ed Werder.

You can not keep Drew Peterson from sweeping women off their feet and to the altar.

Bolingbrook's most famous former police officer is engaged to what will be Wife No. 5, according to his lawyer.

"Yeah, he proposed and she accepted," Peterson's attorney, Joel Brodsky, said of his client's impending nuptials.

Peterson said he does not believe his marital status should prevent him from becoming engaged. "I was married to Kathleen when I was engaged to Stacy," he said.

 Kathleen -- Kathleen Savio, wife number 3 -- was the victim of an unsolved March 2004 homicide.  Stacy -- wife number 4 -- vanished in October 2007. State police say she is the victim of a potential homicide and have named Drew Peterson their sole suspect.

Peterson's publicist, Glenn Selig, said Drew's betrothed is a 23-year-old woman from the Bolingbrook area, making her even younger than Stacy, who would be 24.

How does he do it? How's he able to attract woman after woman despite all the suspicion swirling around him. What do you chalk that up to?

Also, what sort of wedding gift would you give the happy new couple? What advice would you give the bride-to-be?

And..of course any other reactions you have to this news would be great as well.

 Drew Peterson engaged to 23-year-old woman   [Sun-Times]
Even though his many questionable decisions, head-scratching quotes and thirst for human flesh got in the way, Mike Tyson was an unbelievable force at the pinnacle of his career. He blended speed and strength into a lethal combination to destroy his opponents. In short, he was a captivating study into what an athlete could be capable of through diligent training.

But Tyson's appearance at the Video Game Awards on Sunday night revealed a shocking new Mike. One that emphasizes "heavyweight" over "champion of the world."

bigtyson.jpgWhile it'd be real easy to make jokes about how far he's fallen, Tyson's story is more sad and pathetic than anything else.

""My whole life has been a waste - I've been a failure,"  the former champ told USA Today in 2005. "I'm really embarrassed with myself and my life. I want to be a missionary. I think I could do that while keeping my dignity without letting people know they chased me out of the country. I want to get this part of my life over as soon as possible."
Mike Tyson: The Real Heavyweight Champion   [NBC Washington]
burgerking.jpgAn ex-girlfriend of Brian Giles is suing him for allegedly battering her and causing her to have a miscarriage. (AP)

They made a body spray that sounds like meat from Burger King. I'm revising my Christmas list as we speak. (The Guardian)

Michael Sneed hears that Barack Obama's cheif of staff Rahm Emanuel is on tapes regarding that open Senate seat. We're going to need a little more on this, please. (Sun-Times)

Sneak peek at Season 5 of "Lost." Hurry up and get here. (YouTube)

Behind the scenes with Coldplay. If you're into that kind of thing. (Rolling Stone)
phelpsvideogame.jpgAmerican golden boy, aquatics enthusiast and recently smitten swimmer Michael Phelps is in talks to create his own video game franchise.

Phelps, whose eight gold medals in Beijing made him a marketer's dream, is working with 505 Games on a title that is slated for spring 2010. Surprisingly, swimming may not be the main element. And everyone involved seems to be keeping a tight lid on the specifics.

"Swimming will be a part of it, but it won't be set in an Olympic pool going back and forth," said Adam Kline, president of 505 Games, the company releasing the series.

"This is a pure action game," he added.

Does that mean our local aquatic hero could be roughing up bad guys and saving the world? Or will he be running amok a la Grand Theft Auto? The folks at 505 are still toying with a few different ideas and can't comment just yet.
My personal thoughts about any type of water-related gaming agree perfectly with Adam Sessler's, host of the popular TV show X-Play on the G4 network.

"Swimming - in even a Mario game - is a miserable experience," he said. "Water is always a bad zone for games in general."

Sessler is pulling for something more adventurous such as Michael Phelps: Navy Seals. But anything with the name "Michael Phelps" on it will fly off the shelves at first - especially considering how impulsive iPhone gamers tend to be, he said.
That little dig at iPhone gamers aside, it makes sense that everyone is trying to cash in on Phelps.

But let me pose the question that I asked myself as I read this news: Has Michael Phelps' ship sailed already?

Sure, he was all the rage at and immediately following the Beijing Games, but has his cache worn off by now? Does attaching his name to a video game -- especially one that won't be out for at least a year -- make it any more appealing than the glut of other games out there?

Phelps plans to dive into video game world   [Baltimore Sun]
You never wake up in the morning and set out to offend Derrick Coleman. At least not intentionally.

But, hey: life happens.

Over the weekend I picked up this little nugget about a sale featuring furniture once owned by NBA veteran Derrick Coleman from AOL FanHouse.

I opted not to equate the sale to any type of economic woes, something the original post sort of implied. It was a good call.

Moments ago, the good people at FanHouse posted a brief apology. Turns out, word got back to Coleman -- who didn't appreciate the rumors of his financial demise.

For the record, I was more captivated by the clip art basketball hoop on the advertisement than anything else. Plus, as a native Michigander, I find Tim Horton's doughnuts delicious.

And I think it's great that Coleman is giving back to Detroit and wish more people would follow his lead. It's very admirable.

But, I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that Sherwood Studios will hold another sale -- which it billed as "75% off" for "many custom pieces ... plus stunning accessories" -- on Jan. 24-25.
Turner Gill, whose masterful coaching job at Buffalo thrust him into consideration for every marquee coaching vacancy, is going to stay put.

"Gill and the university announced Tuesday afternoon that the coach has received a contract extension and a raise.

Details of the deal were not disclosed, but the school did note that Gill's contract would run through 2013 with a rollover option each season. Gill's pay increase will make him one of the highest-paid coaches in the Mid-American Conference. His assistants also will receive pay raises.
Gill extended through 2013   [ESPN]
As a Mizzou grad, I sometimes like to share tid bits from my alma mater. In this case, I offer 'The Cats From Ol' Mizzou' rap circa 1987. To my co-author Kyle ... Michigan State may have a bevy of national championships and final four appearances under its proverbial belt, but does it have anything so ... I don't know ... just watch:

These cold winter nights really intensify the human need to have that comforting and reassuring companion sleeping next to you. Luckily, there is hope for those who do not have that special someone in their life.

Overstock.com is hawking this product to fill the void.

hugmepillow.jpgThe Hug Me Pillow promises to provide comfort and piece of mind and will never insist on watching the game instead of having dinner with the Robinsons.
blagohair.jpegEmbattled Gov. Rod Blagojevich's hair is an unavoidable topic. It's so brazen, unique and well .. unique.

Hair like that does not happen easily. It requires the delicate care of a comb. A comb so important that it has taken on the importance of top secret bomb codes.

"Mr. Blagojevich, 52, rarely turns up for work at his official state office in Chicago, former employees say, is unapologetically late to almost everything, and can treat employees with disdain, cursing and erupting in fury for failings as mundane as neglecting to have at hand at all times his preferred black Paul Mitchell hairbrush. He calls the brush "the football," an allusion to the "nuclear football," or the bomb codes never to be out of reach of a president.
We here at Sports Pros(e) aren't lucky enough to have hair, so we don't understand Blagojevich's Jessie Katsopolis-like obsession. We're curious if you guys have any beauty product that is treated with similar reverence.

Two Sides of a Troubled Governor, Sinking Deeper   [NY Times]
The rumor mill has shortstop Rafael Furcal spurning the advances of the Oakland A's and returning to the Atlanta Braves.

Sources: No Furcal deal yet, Braves are 'favorites'   [FOX Sports]
faceoff.jpgAn alarming amount of kids are sending nude or semi-nude photos of themselves on the internet. Evidently, this isn't the best idea. (Sun-Times)

Nation's first face transplant done in Cleveland. Isn't that amazing? Cleveland! (AP)

Cubs land speedster Joey Gathright. He's faster than any of us. (Sun-Times)

Deadspin creator Will Leitch wanted to be Roger Ebert when he was a kid. Wonder what Buzz Bissinger wanted to be? (Deadspin)

Both Detroit newspapers to cut back on home delivery. The hits just keep on coming. (WDIV)

We've talked at length here at Sports Pros(e) about the virtues (or lack thereof) of Tropicana Field, home to the Tampa Bay Raze Rays. Now this mecca of baseball blah will become home to this weekend's not-at-all anticipated St. Petersburg Bowl, which pits USF vs. Memphis.

So homely is the Trop that it could ultimately lead to last year's American League champions eventually leaving the city for grassier pastures if a new stadium isn't in the cards.

During baseball games in the Trop, if a ball hits the catwalks at the top of the dome, it's either a ground-rule double or a home run, depending on which of the four concentric rings it hits.

This begs the obvious question, if a batted baseball can reach those heights, feasably couldn't a punted football?

St. Pete Times has the answer:
Cleveland State guard Cedric Johnson nailed a 60-footer at the buzzer last night to lift his team to a shocking 72-69 victory over Syracuse.

Yep, that's why we like sports.

The NHL's San Jose Sharks improved to 25-3-2 on the season with a win over the Los Angeles Kings last night. They've accumulated 52 points in that span, which is the best 30-game start in NHL history.

Meanwhile the Boston Celtics are off to an impressive start of their own, moving to 23-2 on the year with a victory over the Utah Jazz last night.

Short and simple: Which team's record is more impressive?
Your evening links are abbreviated due to an unforeseen internet meltdown. Enjoy Tony Kornheiser tonight.

Chicago Public Schools CEO Arne Duncan to be named education secretary. Looks like never calling fouls on Barack Obama pays off. (Sun-Times)

Phllies sign 46-year-old pitcher Jamie Moyer to a two-year contract. Well, it worked last year. (AP)

Rumor has it Turner Gill didn't get the Auburn job because he has a white wife. It will be 2009 in two weeks, people. (Deadspin)
The 1985 movie classic "Teen Wolf" boldly went where no movie had gone before by exploring a common teenage problem and discussing it openly.

Surely, countless people benefited from the life lessons of a teenager (Michael J. Fox) who occasionally morphs into a wolf. It taught us that being yourself is always radical and that werewolves pattern their basketball games off of Magic Johnson -- scoring when needed, but also making their teammates better.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Greg White apparently liked the flick so much that he's decided to legally change his name to Stylez, the name of Fox's best friend.

"On Monday, a Hillsborough County Circuit Court granted White's request to change his name from Gregory Alphonso White Jr. to Stylez G, White.

Circuit Judge Steve Scott Stephens signed off on White's petition and as White walked through the Bucs locker room Monday, he gleefully distributed copies of the final judgment.

White said he picked his new name from a character in the 1985 movie "Teen Wolf,'' starring Michael J. Fox.

"That was his best friend's name,'' White said. "I always liked that name. It's not that I don't like Greg White.''

In the movie, Fox's friend is named Rupert "Stiles'' Stilinski. White changed the spelling and adopted the name as his own.

"Teen Wolf" devotees will remember that in the movie Stiles:
1. Wore this shirt.
2. Tried to buy a keg underage by pretending he worked at a quarry.
3. Surfed on top of a moving vehicle.

Come to think of it, he was pretty cool.
It's cold enough outside to annoy even the most optimistic of Chicagoans, so I thought it'd be a good idea trot out happier news from our archives.

It was mid-September when we had a few days of panic based on End Days predictions surrounding the Large Hadron Collider. Mercifully, those gloom and doom rumors didn't turn out to be true.

So while it may be colder than it ever should be, take heart Chicago. You're still alive and reading inconsequential sports blogs.

The following originally ran Sept. 10:

collidermath.jpgRIght now, I'm worried about Vince Young.

Right now, I'm worried about Lou Piniella's strained vocal cords.

Right now, I'm worried about Paul Konerko's knee.

But one worry that has subsided completely is the fear that the world will be sucked into a black hole. I awoke this morning, alive and breathing. Matter completely in tact.

No, the Large Hadron Collider didn't end human existence when it was switched on. This was a great relief to us here at Sports Pros(e) and most likely to other people as well.

So it is with great excitement and zest for life that we thank you for your continued readership this morning. We really appreciate it.
I never wanted a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese. Although I attended several childhood soirées at the pizza-fueled feel-goodery, the unique blend of skeet ball and mechanical robots just never appealed to me.

And, as one gets older, they stop keeping tabs on arcade news. So it was a big surprise to read a Wall Street Journal article that seems to indicate Chuck E. Cheese is at the epicenter of rampant disorderly conduct and battery.

"It isn't clear exactly how often fights break out at Chuck E. Cheese's 538 locations. Richard Huston, executive vice president of marketing for the chain's parent company, CEC Entertainment Inc. of Irving, Texas, describes their occurrence as "atypical," saying he has heard of "four or five significant adult altercations" this year. But in some cities, law-enforcement officials say the number of disruptions at their local outlet is far higher than at nearby restaurants, and even many bars. "We've had some unfortunate and unusual altercations between adults at these locations," Mr. Huston says. "Even one is just way too many."
The good people at Gizmodo have compiled some of the more memorable Chuck E. Cheese police blotter moments, including this stunning occurrence.

"Flint, Mich.: Jan. 26, 2008

Flint Township police responded to a call about a large fight at Chuck E. Cheese's that involved as many as 85 people, according to police reports. A fight inside the restaurant between three females erupted, pepper gas was sprayed and people flooded outside the restaurant into the back parking lot.
Calling All Cars: Trouble at Chuck E. Cheese's, Again   [Wall Street Journal]
Chuck E. Cheese Arcade: A Place Where Moms Punch Dads In the Face   [Gizmodo]
Never one to keep his opinions to himself, NBA analyst Charles Barkley weighed in on Auburn's hiring of Gene Chizik today.

Barkley is upset that Auburn did not choose Buffalo coach Turner Gill to be the head man for the Tigers.

""I think race was the No. 1 factor," said Barkley, who played basketball for three seasons at Auburn during the early 1980s. "You can say it's not about race, but you can't compare the two resumes and say [Chizik] deserved the job. Out of all the coaches they interviewed, Chizik probably had the worst resume."
Barkley further lamented the bigger coaching picture for African-Americans.

""My biggest problem with the black coaches is they're not getting jobs and they're getting [expletive] jobs when they are hired," Barkley said. "They're not getting good jobs. They're not getting jobs where they can be successful. That's why I wanted Turner to get the Auburn job. He could win consistently at Auburn. You can't win consistently at New Mexico. You can't win consistently at Kansas State. He could have won at Auburn."
What do you think? Does Sir Charles have a point or should he stay out of it?

Lobbying for Gill, alum Barkley says Auburn should have hired black coach   [ESPN]
One of the things media outlets are wont to do on in their NFL coverage is to assess the local neon lions.jpgteam's performance by assigning them letter grades for each aspect of the game.

We do this for the Bears and other publications have similar features.

Scanning the Detroit Lions coverage today, I couldn't help but notice that some unlucky chap is charged with grading the hapless and hopeless squad.

To his credit, Tom Kowalski does not do what many of us would be inclined to: assign straight F's across the board. In fact, in today's edition he goes so far as to pass out a couple of B's to the coaching and the defense.

If you missed it, the Lions fell to the Indianapolis Colts 31-21 to "deprove" to an imperfect 0-14 on the year. Their two remaining games include a home game against the New Orleans Saints and a trip to Green Bay to play the Packers.

At this point, I think we'll all be disappointed if they don't complete their quest for a winless season. One gentleman in particular has made it abundantly clear that a 0-16 Detroit Lions team is all he wants for Christmas.

Grading the Lions: Offense can't put away Vikings   [MLive]
star-wars-baseball.jpgYou can now buy Star Wars themed athletic jerseys. What took so long? (FanIQ)

If you were ice skating at Millennium Park yesterday, you may have noticed about a 100 people dressed up like zombies. Turns out they were trying to set a really lame world record. (Sun-Times)

It's cold. Deal with it. (Weather.com)

Legally blind. New York Gov. David Patterson didn't particularly care for his portrayal on "Saturday Night Live." Look for yourself. (CNN)

Some pretty sweet new insects have been discovered, including a hot pink, poisonous dragon millipede. (The Star)
This week, The Review tackles Derrick Rose and Applegate, the Ron Santo/Hall of Fame issue, the Bears' quest to lose in the first round of the playoffs, the White Sox broadcasting lineup and the Cubs off-season lack of luster. Enjoy!

Curvy New York Giants fans who wish to cheer on their team at the Meadowlands were dealt a stunning blow last Sunday.

Sondra Fortunato, who the New York Post describes as having a penchant for risque outfits, had a bit of a run-in with stadium security.

"Last Sunday, Sondra, whose niece, Paula, is divorcing Sumner Redstone, arrived at the Meadowlands in a tiara, fishnets, a Santa outfit, a bathing-suit bottom and high-heeled boots. "Nothing was showing," she insisted. "You couldn't even see my underwear. I don't flash!"

She carried a suitcase containing Christmas presents, and held a pair of 11-by-17 signs. One read, "Go Giants." The other, "Have a No Guns Christmas."

Then, Sondra was escorted to the security office - "where all the alcoholics and drunks and people ejected from the stadium stay."

The Giants insist she was detained for violating the no-sign policy, and not because of what she was wearing.


The fickle powers-that-be vested with serving the common good of the Arena Football League seem to be doing quite a bit of back-and-forth when it comes to the likelihood of a 2009 season.

First it looked like it was going to be canceled, then it was back on. Now, things are again looking pretty bleak.

"The Arena Football League canceled the 2009 season but plans to return in 2010, a league source said.

An official announcement is expected today.

The source requested anonymity, saying a six-figure fine looms for talking.

While the Arena League really isn't something we've taken the time to enjoy, it is sad to see the icy cold death grip of these economic times lay claim to one of the activities of leisure that people get lost in.

For those Chicago Rush enthusiasts out there: what's your reaction to all of this? Are you surprised or did you see the handwriting on the wall? If the league returns in 2010, will you still be there as a fan?

Source: AFL's '09 season is canceled   [Cleveland Plain Dealer]
Kudos to President Bush who amazingly was able to dodge the hurled shoes of an Iraqi journalist today in Baghdad. Noteworthy is the agility of our 43rd president, who was unharmed in the incident. 

"I'm OK. All I can report is it is a size 10," Bush said afterwards.

Bush ducks shoes thrown in Iraqi leader's office [Bloomberg]
Bush: Who throws a shoe? Honestly! [TMZ]
The Auburn Tigers have reportedly hired Iowa State coach Gene Chizik to fill the vacancy left by Tommy Tuberville.

According to the AP, several media outlets are confirming that the former Auburn defensive coordinator is returning to campus -- this time as the big man.

Chizik is 5-19 in two seasons at Iowa State.

Reports: Auburn hires Iowa State's Gene Chizik   [AP]
In the first installment of Sports Pros(e) Cribs, Kyle takes us on a tour of Kevin's refrigerator.

If this doesn't inspire kids to get into journalism, nothing will.

coleman.JPGIf you've ever wanted to own some of former NBA star Derrick Coleman's furniture -- and you happen to be in greater Detroit this weekend -- fortune has smiled upon you.

The crafty lefty's liquidation is being handled by Sherwood Studios Warehouse, which is located in beautiful Farmington Hills, Mich. (where Lions quarterback Drew Stanton threw his TD passes in high school).

Among the items available:

"Bedroom sets, dining room set, upholstered furniture and many custom pieces from the finest makers as Preview, Brueton, Excelsior -- plus stunning accessories.
The sale runs from 10 am-5 pm today and tomorrow.

Bonus points for the excellent clip art of a basketball hoop.

Derrick Coleman Is Having Money Troubles, Selling Everything He Owns at 75% Off   [Fanhouse]
cheeks.JPGMaurice Cheeks out as 76ers coach. Well, that was fun while it lasted. (Sun-Times)

Tara Reid headed to rehab. Reality show coming soon? (NY Post)

Stream the entire new Fall Out Boy album. Guy-liner optional. (MySpace)

Web site producer suits up as Washington Capitals' backup goalie. I'll be busy sending my resumes to pro teams all afternoon. (USA Today)

23 suspected pirates get busted. Make them walk the plank. (CNN)

Kerry Wood to the Indians. He passed the physical, in case you were worried. (FOX Sports)
blagojevich_prison_hockey.jpgLas Vegas remains without a major professional sports team, but it certainly has some quality minor league clubs with some savvy marketing folks populating their front office.

In a move that is likely prompting the Chicago Wolves front office to ask themselves why they didn't think of it first, the Las Vegas Wranglers of the ECHL are going to host Blagojevich Night Jan. 30 against the Victoria Salmon Kings.

"The team will wear vintage prison uniforms, the kind with the stripes.

"Their jerseys will feature prison numbers, and a seat between the two benches will be auctioned off to the highest bidder.

After the game, those prison uniforms will be signed and auctioned for charity."

Las Vegas Wranglers hosting Blagojevich Night [KTNV.com]
Hockey team spoofs Illinois governor [AP]

humanitarian bowl.JPGWe got this tip on the Humanitarian Bowl, but didn't really understand what was so special about it. It seemed like a pretty basic piece about a mid-level bowl and it's quest to make money in these trying economic times.

In fact, it seems like the H-Bowl and Boise were about to enjoy a real boon in tourism revenue.

"This year the Boise State Broncos are headed to sunny San Diego, leaving the Humanitarian Bowl orange-less again. But BSU ticket agents say don't let the lack of lines fool you. They say their phones have been ringing off the hook, not only for Poinsettia Bowl seats, but also for the H-Bowl match up.
Good for Boise! Never been there, but it seems nice. Picturesque even. Plus, who doesn't love Smurf turf?

Then I read the last sentence.

Wait a moment. That makes an estimated combined total of 24 tickets. 24!

Either this is a serious typo or the Humanitarian Bowl is going to be the saddest thing in the world. Either BSU ticket officials have very low "phone ringing off the hook" standards or there's some miscommunication.

And then our favorite part: The University of Maryland's estimate of 16 tickets. They just can't pinpoint the exact number?

But there's a bright side. If you're a University of Nevada fan and can wrangle up 7 friends, you can ensure your side has equal representation at the Wolfpack's bowl game this year.

Humanitarian Bowl hopes for big turn out   [2 News]

If I were to host an Oprah-esque "Kevin's Favorite Things" show, this man would definitely be on my list. Mind you ... the commemorative Barack Obama plate he's hawking would come nowhere near the list ... just the guy.

We don't know his name, but we here at Sports Pros(e) have discussed his acting prowess at length.

What many people don't know about me is that I've studied the theatrical arts in my day, so I like to think I know a thing or three about the craft. So here for your perusing pleasure is an imagining, if you will, of this thespian's inner monologue underpinning this memorable scene:

We've gotten our hands on an architect's rendering of the rink at Wrigley Field and all it's doing is making us wish we had tickets even more.

NHL Winter Classic.jpg
My all-time favorite athlete, Barry Sanders, earned that distinction by ripping off unbelievably impressive runs peppered with jaw-dropping moves. His retirement during the peak of his career was one of the saddest moments a sports-loving Michigan boy could ever imagine.

But, as the Lion King taught us, the circle of life moves on.

Sanders' son, Barry Sanders Jr., seems to be picking up right were pops left off. Here's the Heritage Hill High School freshman busting a sick run in a state playoff game.

blagorat.jpegDid Blagojevich or someone acting on his behalf actually take down the rat warning sign outside his home? Really the least of his problems right now. (Sun-Times)

Javon Ringer becomes first All-American running back from Michigan State in 21 years. Let's go to Rick's American Cafe to celebrate. (MLive)

Our favorite major-league pitching prospects and reality show winners from India talk about coming to America. (Walkoff Walk)

Spraying teenagers with fox urine will keep them from TPing your house. We're living in a society here, people. (AP)

If your name isn't Craig Newman, you're probably not aware James Madison plays Montana tonight -- in football. (JMU Sports)

People still focusing their passion squarely on unrealistic, unwholesome plastic dolls. We're more attracted to Malibu Barbie, but she's got a terrible personality (CNN)
Life is pretty good for Florida Gators coach Urban Meyer right now. His team will play for the national championship against Oklahoma next month, his job security is at an all-time high and he's got the best player in college football under center.

Conversely, life isn't that great for Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis right now. His team is playing in something called the Hawaii Bowl, his job security is tenuous at best and he's not too popular with Irish faithful right now.

All of these makes Meyer's comments regarding the Notre Dame coaching position all the more awkward. Well, maybe not awkward, but perhaps cringe-inducing?

" Four years after spurning Notre Dame to take over the Florida Gators program, Coach Urban Meyer called the Fighting Irish "still my dream job; that hasn't changed" on a South Florida radio show on Wednesday.

Notre Dame doesn't have a coaching vacancy, and the Gators are less than a month from playing for a second national title under Meyer.

"Once my kids are done, maybe some day I'll go coach there," Meyer told 560 WQAM. "I don't know that. That's way down the road. Being a father and being able to recruit the best athletes in America within a 5-hour radius of my home, that's why I came to Florida. I thought we could have a great chance at success."
Clearly, Meyer has made his intentions known and it's really not much of a story.

At least for now.

But if you're a Notre Dame fan, you probably can't help but wonder if things would be different had the Irish landed Meyer.

Would the Irish be suffering through 6-6 seasons and embarrassing losses to Syracuse if Meyer was at the helm in South Bend? Or would the Irish be significantly better?
plaxicoturkey.jpgThe New York Post is one of the first Web sites I visit after rubbing the sleep out of the eyes in the morning. In addition to their bold design, they just seem to have figured out how to make a scandalous story even more scandalous.

Today they documented the events leading up to Plaxico Burress' self-inflicted gunshot wound.

And they certainly don't disappoint.

"Hours before shooting himself, Giants receiver Plaxico Burress and two Big Blue buddies hit a high-class West Side strip club - where they hooked up with three ladies, guzzled two bottles of top-shelf tequila, and gobbled the staff's post-Thanksgiving dinner, The Post has learned.
The Post also reports Burress was not well-liked by the strip club's staff, had a reputation for being cheap and just really likes turkey.

"A surly, slobbish Burress ate "like an animal," using his bare hands to snatch pieces of workers' turkey and stuff his face at the Head Quarters club on Nov. 28, a source said.
While this is an awesome sentence, one has to wonder what proper strip club turkey-eating etiquette is. My gut feeling would be that it's pretty casual.

Oh yeah, there's video. Well worth your time.

Plax's Naked Bootleg   [New York Post]
jennifer.jpgSince it is Friday, the Bears are still in playoff contention and Christmas is less than two weeks away, it seems the perfect time for a gratuitous Jennifer Aniston post.

The 39-year-old actress posed nude on the cover of GQ for the January cover. Well, nude except for a well-placed tie.

In the interview, she has some fun with the whole Brad and Angelina situation.

"Discussing the relentless media coverage of herself, ex-husband Brad Pitt and Pitt's partner Angelina Jolie, Aniston tells the magazine: "The funny thing is that people don't realize we all go away to the Hamptons on the weekends."

She's kidding but still enjoys the scenario of romping with the couple's kids. "Can you imagine? That'd be hysterical: I've got Zahara on my hip, and Knox ..."

Jen bares feelings and more   [Sun-Times}

A rumor floating around the Internets this morning has Will Muschamp headed to Auburn to replace the recently fired Tommy Tuberville as head coach.

A FOX affiliate in Mobile, Ala. originally reported this as fact, but apparently is now backing off that information.

"Sources told FOX10 News Auburn will likely name Will Muschamp its new head coach sometime Friday, but according to reports from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Muschamp says that is not the case.
The Texas defensive coordinator and coach-in-waiting denies that he wants anything to do with the job.

Muschamp denies he'll take Auburn coaching job   [Sporting News]
Muschamp says he is not going to  AU   [FOX 10]
Tom Morello (left) will not have a look-alike on his favorite team next season after all.

Several reputable news organizations are reporting that former Mariners left fielder Raul Ibanez will sign a 3-year, $30 million contract with the Phillies. While it's not devastating news to lose a 37-year-old free agent, the inaction from the Cubs front office has to be at least a bit vexing to Cub fans.

Ibanez, a left handed-hitting Tom Morello look-alike, was previously said to be on the radar of Cubs GM Jim Hendry. The Cubs are in need of a solid lefty for the middle of their order. Ibanez fits -- that is, fit -- the bill.

But apparently, Hendry's been too busy not trading for Cy Young award-winner Jake Peavy to avoid letting Ibanez slip through his fingers.

In Chris De Luca's article today, he notes a lack of urgency in the Cubs front office to make a move because the Brewers and Cardinals have not exactly been vigilant in improving their own clubs.
It's not that we need this ... it's just that we need it to be available to us so we think we need it. (Sun-Times photo)

It's becoming cliche to reiterate the phrase "in these tough economic times," but that's not stopping the Arena Football League from using it as the preface to why they might not have a 2009 season.

For now, it looks like the season is on. The New York Times is reporting, "The league's board of directors met via conference call Wednesday evening and decided not to suspend the 2009 season, but the issue could be revisited, James L. Ferraro, the owner and chief executive of the Cleveland Gladiators, said in a telephone interview Wednesday."

Without knowing the financial viability of this league, it makes absolutely no sense why they wouldn't have a 2009 season.
You know a league is in trouble when not even the combined efforts of team owners John Elway and Jon Bon Jovi are enough to save it.

It was just confirmed that the Arena Football League is canceling the 2009 season, but plans on resuming all its half-field fun in 2010.

Arena Football League set to suspend 2009 season   [Kansas City Star]
ryanmiller.jpgWe're learning that people from all walks of life have just terrible, filthy potty mouths -- allegedly. Yesterday we had Patti Blagojevich telling her embattled governor husband to hold up that f***ing Cubs s*** and now today we have a claims that an NHL referee told Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller to "go [bleep] himself."

From the Buffalo News:

""It was just about the referee last night, a brief conversation I had with the ref that was a little surprising to me," Miller said. "He told me to "go [bleep] myself' because I was just asking a question. I was just kind of joking around [to Ruff], saying, "Maybe that kind of started what got the bench minor going.'

"To be honest, I was respectful. I asked him a question and he told me maybe I should "go [bleep] myself."

Tim Peel and Justin St. Pierre worked the game. Asked which referee it was, Miller responded, "I'm not going to get into it" and Sabres spokesman Chris Bandura ended the session.

What's interesting about this is that the NHL has put itself in a tough situation. On the heels of their swift move to suspend Dallas Stars winger Sean Avery for his "sloppy seconds" comment, they'll be expected to apply the same type of justice if this really happened.

In the pantheon of offensive language, one word is king. And if you're going to harshly lay down the law for a comment like Avery's, you better be prepared to do the same when an official drops an unprovoked F-bomb to a player during a game.
sabathia01.jpgIt looks like the battle for CC Sabathia may finally be coming to an end, as we are getting word that the left-hander has agreed to bring his filthy stuff to the New York Yankees.

Although it is not official, sources are saying the deal is in the seven years, $160 million ballpark.

Do you think CC is worth this type of money and how do you feel about his decision to go to the  Yankees after repeatedly intimating that he wanted to play close to his California home?

Sabathia said to accept Yanks' offerSabathia said to accept Yanks' offer   [MLB]
Chicago Bulls fans are breathing a collective sigh of relief tonight after watching franchise-saver Derrick Rose show no ill effects from yesterday's kitchen utensil mishap in a 105-100 win over the New York Knicks.

As impressive as Rose's performance was just hours after getting 10 stitches, it's even more comforting that he is not a food-waster.

Most people would never play Russian roulette.

Very few people would chronically play Russian roulette.

But, the suspect in custody in connection with the murder of Scott Ruffalo -- Mark's brother -- says it was just this habit that lead to the recent death.

Shaha Adham explained her theory through a jaw-dropping statement by her lawyer.

""We expect the coroners report to show the shooting was a result of the victim's chronic playing of Russian Roulette and his dangerous playing with firearms while under the use of controlled substances," lawyer Ronald Richards told the Daily News.
Actor Mark Ruffalo's brother, Scott, died after playing Russian Roulette, says murder suspect   [New York Daily News]
I've known Big Ten Network anchor Mike Hall for about six years now, and save for one Thanksgiving Day driveway shoot-around a few years back, I've not had the good fortune of witnessing his basketball skills. Until now:

A look through the Sun-Times photo archives paints a picture of arrested Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich as quite the sports enthusiast.

We thought we'd celebrate a few of Blago's finer sporting moments from the past six years.

Blago jogging in Galesburg, Ill. in 2003. That's jogging -- with a silent 'j'.

wood_20_strikeouts.jpgWrigley faithful hold up f***ing Cubs s*** (Sun-Times photo)

Obviously, it's been a pretty busy day. You never really expect for your state's governor to be suddenly arrested, after all.

But, if there is a silver lining in all of this ugliness, it's that it has provided the opportunity to write headlines like "Blagojevich calls Obama mother****er" and to have some pretty ridiculous quotes come to light courtesy of the complaint filed against the embattled politician.

This one, in particular, would be a great slogan for T-shirt vendors outside Wrigley Field.

"During the call, Rod Blagojevich's wife can be heard in the background telling Rod Blagojevich to tell Deputy Governor A "to hold up that f***ing Cubs s***. . . f*** them."
Who knew official government-issued PDFs could be so fun?
Very early this morning, we told you that it looked like Jake Peavy coming to the Cubs was really more a matter of "when" and not "if."

That information was based on a source close to Cubs GM Jim Hendry.

But, ESPN's Jayson Stark just published a report, quoting another Cubs source, who says the that a deal is not even "remotely close" to being done.

Adding to the confusion is Roman's Page Six-like post that indicates Peavy wants to be a Cub and is apparently a fan of country superstars Brooks & Dunn.

That seems about right. I could see him getting real into "Red Dirt Road."

Do you think Peavy will be in a Cubs uniform when this is all said and done?
The NFL may be the king of all the major American sporting leagues, but even it is not impervious to the economic woes that have hit us.

Today, the league announced it would be laying off 10 percent of its headquarters staff.

Economic slump makes NFL cut headquarters staff   [AP]
Antonio Bryant made one amazing touchdown catch in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' loss to the Carolina Panthers last night. So amazing, in fact, that announcer Mike Tirico did not believe it happened and analyst Ron Jaworski hypothesized Bryant had Velco on his gloves.

blago.jpgWell, I'd say that this is surprising quite a few people this morning.

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his chief of staff John Harris were arrested this morning in a probe involving the governor's quest to fill Sen. Barack Obama's Senate seat.

lliinois Governor Rod Blagojevich taken into federal custody   [Sun-Times]
peavvv.jpegThe Cubs are the only team in the running for right-handed strikeout enthusiast and Cy Young Award-winning pitcher Jake Peavy. And according to Chris De Luca's update from the winter meetings, the deal that brings Peavy to Wrigley Field could be resolved within the week.

"'There's one ballclub we are talking to, so we'll see what's there,'' [San Diego Padres GM] Towers said. ''We should have a pretty good picture of where we're at certainly by Thursday.''

Since the general managers meetings last month, Towers and Cubs GM Jim Hendry have engaged in steady discussions centering on Peavy. One source close to Hendry characterized the Cubs as ''very close'' to closing the deal.

Theirs for the taking   [Sun-Times]
It seems that not everyone had a good time watching the Florida Gators' creaming of the Crimson Tide in the SEC Championship Game.

From Local 6:

"A 51-year-old woman yelling "Go Gators" during Florida's victory over Alabama in the Southeastern Conference championship game had a gun pointed at her by a convicted felon who entered her apartment after he misunderstood the cheering for racial slurs, Orange County sheriff's deputies said.

Bruce Cooper, 30, was arrested on charges of armed burglary with a firearm, carrying a concealed firearm, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and aggravated assault with a firearm.
Oddly, Cooper could understand everything announcer Verne Lundquist was saying.
ccsab.jpgCC Sabathia is going to sign a contract for an obscene amount of money one of these days. That much we know. But where he will be earning these millions of dollars remains a subject of great debate.

It's looked like he was headed to New York. Then to the Angels. Then, staying with the Brewers.

And now we get word that what he really wants is to be a Dodger.

ESPN's Jayson Stark gives us this little bit of hot gossip from the Winter Meetings.

"Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti told ESPN.com's Jayson Stark on Monday that he ran into the free agent on Sunday night in a hotel lobby and the left-hander told him that he wants to be a Dodger.
The article goes on to describe in great detail exactly how the race for Sabathia is shaping up. In summation, there's serious money, serious rumors and a man who is seriously going to get the best deal out there by taking his time and gathering all the information he can.

In an unrelated note, this post on Sabathia from our old Blogspot days really brings back some memories. It seems like a million years ago we were speaking in third person.

So glad we got over that phase.

Thanks again for your readership. We'll never go back.
Bulls rookie sensation/guard/savior/infallible being Derrick Rose missed practice today due toThumbnail image for appleknife.jpg a a self-inflicted injury sustained in bed from a knife he used to slice an apple.

"A sheepish Rose explained why he needed 10 stitches to close a gash under the elbow on his left forearm, a self-inflicted injury sustained in bed from a knife he used to slice an apple.

''Silly accident this morning,'' Rose said, standing before a a large throng of media. ''I went to get a bottle of water, forgot the knife was there, and sat down and sliced my arm.''

Fear not, Bulls fans. Rose is expected to play tomorrow night when the New York Knicks invade the United Center.

Besides wondering about Rose's fruit-eating habits and why he's choosing his bed as the most appropriate apple-slicing locale, we're happy he's OK.
Twenty-eight years ago today, John Lennon was shot and killed outside his New York apartment building by Mark David Chapman.

Today we salute his optimism for a better world and mourn all the potential wasted when the very violence he spoke out against claimed his life.

Lennon would have turned 68 this past October.

Fans to mark anniversary of John Lennon's death at Strawberry Fields in Central Park [New York Daily News]
One of the hottest stories making the rounds today deals with the public's fascination with mug shots and the media's desire to give the public what they want.

CNN takes an in-depth look at this issue and reveals some interesting, if not slightly alarming news.

"Mug shots of strangers have a raw entertainment value. Americans seem to be titillated by images of arrestees, and several media outlets are capitalizing on it.

Online newspapers such as Newsday and the Palm Beach Post run sections of nothing but mug shots of people arrested the night before. Other Web sites, such as mugshots.com, intermingle celebrity and historical mug shots with those of average Joes and Janes. There are also numerous books -- "Least Wanted" and "Booked," among them -- dealing in mug shots, both famous and layperson.

Of course, this practice touches off the debate of whether this has any journalistic value or if it's a just a ploy to boost readership. If you haven't noticed, newspapers are struggling.

If your local paper or preferred news Web site starting running these, would you make it a point to browse them? Do you feel like it's just capitalizing on people's voyeuristic side or does it serve a public service?

joegordon.jpgJoe Gordon (far left) makes a bet with his Cleveland Indians teammates that his .268 batting average makes him worthy of the Hall of Fame. Who's laughing now?

Joe Gordon was the only one of the 20 candidates to be elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Gordon was a a nine-time All-Star second baseman for the New York Yankees and Cleveland Indians and an American League MVP.

I can't say I'm tremendously familiar with Gordon's career, but Baseball Reference compares his production to that of pencil-thin mustache enthusiast Jose Valentin. That's really not impressive.

Closer to home, Cub great Ron Santo missed out on induction again.
matthews.jpgKevin Matthews, the radio personality who has cultivated large followings in Chicago and Grand Rapids, returned to the airwaves of WLAV-FM this morning after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

We wish him the best.

Much like my counterpart's relationship with recently departed radio host Steve Dahl, I'll never fully understand the impact Matthews has had on the cities that he's called home. After building up a base in West Michigan in the early 1980s, Matthews left town when I was two years old and much too young to listen to the radio. Then, after ruling the Chicago airwaves, he took his show back to Grand Rapids just before I moved to Chicago.

Matthews and I just don't have good timing.

But even though I never routinely listened to his show, it was abundantly clear the impact he had on the West Michigan region. It's remarkable how many times older co-workers or friends of my parents would ask me if I knew who Matthew's was. These queries were always followed up with a sentence of praise for his innovation, comedy or the way he was part of their mornings when "they were my age".

Clearly he was the background noise to a generation commuting to work. A collective voice around which to stay updated with what was going on in their world. With the glut of media outlets and the diversification of mediums today, I think we miss out on those things that bind a community together.

To me, Dahl and Matthews represent those ties. And I wish we could get a little bit of that spirit back.

Tell us your best Matthews memories, your reaction to his diagnosis and if you think there are those community media figures that keep people connected anymore.

Multiple sclerosis diagnosis won't slow DJ Kevin Matthews' morning drive   [Grand Rapids Press]
Thumbnail image for MortenAnderson1984Topps.JPGIt's a sad day for all field goal enthusiasts and Michigan State grads around the world.

Morten Anderson, the NFL's all-time leading scoring, is retiring. This decision comes after a 25-year NFL career in which he tallied up 2,437 points.

Anderson was born in Denmark but came to the United States in 1977 as an exchange student before booting for the Spartans in college.

He says the pinnacle of his career was reaching the Super Bowl in 1999 with the Atlanta Falcons. Anderson kicked a 38-yard field-goal in overtime of the NFC Championship game that season to win the conference.

Morten Andersen, NFL's all-time top scorer, quits   [AP]
If they had it to do all over again, FOX would probably rethink its decision to broadcast a live feed of an NFL locker room during Sunday's NFL coverage.

That's because a certain Minnesota Vikings' player was caught with his pants down as Vikings owner Zygi Wilf gave an emotional speech about coach Brad Childress' son, who is off for a tour in Iraq. Those watching were treated to an up close and personal shot of his genitals for a few seconds before he covered up with a towel.

The magic of television.

Viking Exposed -- Literally -- On Live TV
   [The Sporting Blog]

beargrylls.jpgTo be television survivalist Bear Grylls is to be all that is man.

Grylls, the host of Discovery Channel's "Man vs. Wild", sustained a shoulder injury Friday after falling while on an expedition in Antarctica designed to raise money for an international charity.

Grylls has by far one of the most interesting Wikipedia pages around -- which will definitely become the standard by which man is judged in the not-so distant future.

"Grylls has eaten snake (one made him sick), worm, scorpion, porcupine, squirrel, alligator, skunk, camel, zebra, rabbit, lizards, turtle, raw fish, sheep's eyeballs, goat's testicles (a Berber delicacy), a tree frog, spider, raw yak liver, termites and grubs. In one episode he dipped a sheep's eye in a geothermal vent with his shoe laces in order to cook it.

He has also rubbed snow on his body to dry off after jumping into an icy lake, squeezed both elephant dung and partially digested food from the stomach of a dead camel into his mouth for water, ripped raw chunks of meat off a dead zebra with his teeth, eaten maggots off a dead deer, and drank his own urine which had been stored in the skin of a dead snake.

 'Man vs. Wild' host injured in Antarctic expedition   [CNN]

Abebe Yimer has won the Las Vegas Marathon after completing the 26.2-mile test of endurance in 2 hours, 27 minutes and 27 seconds.

Pretty impressive.

To put this feat into perspective, the Sports Pros(e) team combined to eat approximately 43 cookies and down several cups of egg nog last evening at a holiday party.

Behold, the heighs (and depths) of the human condition.

Clark County man wins Las Vegas Marathon      [Las Vegas Sun]
All of your college football numerology and bowl game questions will be answered tonight when FOX airs the "BCS Selection Show" at 8 p.m. EST.

Florida and Oklahoma seem to have played themselves into the national title game with huge victories yesterday.

But, this is the BCS. Crazy, controversial things happen. Take last week, for example. Things got wildly out of hand when a seemingly innocuous post about Oklahoma jumping over Texas was published.

Hopefully we get the same type of debate going tonight.
Navy notched its seventh straight victory over Army yesterday in a 34-0 trouncing. Though Army is to be commended for its uniforms, as we mentioned yesterday ... and its ability to go above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to pre-game 'trash' talking. To see what I mean, check out this video:

This is either an enormous misuse of expensive government property or the coolest thing to happen to college football rivalries since a gaggle of Yale fans got 1,800 Harvard fans to admit that they suck .
Martha "Sunny" von Bulow, an heiress who had spent her last 28 years in a coma, died Saturday in New York.

According to the AP obituary, von Bulow was a personification of romantic notions about high society -- a stunning heiress who brought her American millions to marriages with men who gave her honored old European names.

She was also referenced in "The Coma" episode of "Seinfeld" when Jerry is trying to decide if he should pursue a woman whose boyfriend is in a coma.
bearsjags.jpgChicago's Armisen wins the battle of native sons named Fred, but will Durst and Jacksonville get its revenge on the gridiron?

It really seems like the Bears' season turned violently in a five-play span last Sunday night in the Metrodome.

While that epic failure has been well-documented, there is no getting around that basic fact that 7-5 would just feel so much better than 6-6. With four games remaining, the Bears might have to win out to assure they reach the postseason.

That quest begins Sunday at a frigid Soldier Field against the disappointing Jacksonville Jaguars. Even though the Jags are 4-8, they're a team that is scary because of the explosiveness of running back Maurice Jones-Drew.

If the weather is nasty, this could turn into a slugfest in the trenches. The way Kyle Orton has been playing lately, that might not be the worst thing in the world for the Bears.

I'll pull a George Constanza and listen to the little man inside of me and go with my gut.

Bears 20, Jaguars 13 in a sloppy game filled with Robbie Gould field goals and errant David Garrard passes.

Tell us how you see this one shaking out.

With President Bush sitting comfortably in the stands, Army is currently getting shut out by Navy in the 109th meeting of the two schools on the gridiron.

Army may be getting trounced on the scoreboard, but when it comes to uniforms, Army is the hands-down victor. Sporting camouflage pants and helmets with black jerseys featuring camouflage numbers, these are some of the smartest uniforms we've seen here at Sports Pros(e). And the back of the jerseys feature the words "Duty. Honor. Country" -- a tip of the cap to General Douglas MacArthur's farewell speech to the corps of cadets at West Point in 1962.

Regarding those helmets, though, seems there's more to meet the eye. This from a Riddell statement:

The Midshipmen and Black Knights will wear Riddell helmets, including the new Revolution Speed helmet, Riddell's latest breakthrough innovation, while Army alone will don a customized digital print camouflage football helmet. The helmet, which features a proprietary camouflage printing technique, was designed in conjunction with the West Point United States Military Academy.

Shown to reduce the incidence of concussion by nearly one-third, the Riddell Revolution family of helmets features Revolution Concussion Reduction Technology, which uses three principal design elements - an offset shell, mandible extensions and energy managing Z-Pads - to provide superior protection for players on the field. Additionally, the Revolution IQ and Revolution Speed helmets utilize Riddell's proprietary push-button Quick Release™ Face Mask Attachment System to cut cage removal time by 50 percent - a feature that certified athletic trainers are demanding.
This is quite old by viral internet video standards, but still an enjoyable view of an extremely ridiculous tackle.

This is Rutgers running back Jourdan Brooks breaking a nice run up in the sideline and then really reconsidering his hairstyle.

tebow.jpgWin and you're in.

That's pretty much the prevailing wisdom surrounding today's SEC Championship game between Alabama and Florida. The winner -- according to many analysts with finely coiffed hair that get paid good money to pay attention to these things -- will more than likely advance to the BCS Championship Game.

Throw in the unbridled passion surrounding an SEC game, a reigning Heisman trophy winner, the ghost of Bear Bryant, the uncertainty regarding Percy Harvin's injury and the vitriol being volleyed on each team's internet message boards, and you've got quite the ordeal.

For once it seems like the hype might be justified.

Who ya got?

Sports Pros(e) predicts: Florida 38, Alabama 35 in an instant classic.
maddux.jpgI remember thinking to myself one day when I was maybe 10-years-old, 'What is going to happen when you get older and all of your favorite athletes start to retire? Will you find new ones? How can anyone replace the guys on your favorite baseball cards?'

Luckily, in time I realized that there's always a new crop of talented players to replace those who leave. But even still, a little part of your childhood dies when a long-standing veteran who has been a part of the game a long time retires.

So, it is with a little sadness that we view the news of Greg Maddux retiring.

The 42-year-old with pinpoint control and 18 Gold Gloves will announce that he is hanging up his tailing fastball Monday morning at baseball's Winter Meetings in Las Vegas.

With 355 career wins, four Cy Youngs and a 3.16 career ERA, Maddux will undoubtedly find his way into Cooperstown when he becomes eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2013.
Thumbnail image for simpson.JPGO.J. Simpson was sentenced to 15 years in prison a few moments ago in Las Vegas.

According to some of the comments we've gotten leading up to the sentencing, this ends a 15-year wish for this man to be held accountable for his actions.

Clark County District Court Judge Jackie Glass delivered quite a zinger while delivering her pre-sentence lecture.

"Earlier in this case at a bail hearing, I said to Mr. Simpson I didn't know if he was arrogant or ignorant or both," she said. "And during the trial and through this proceeding, I've got the answer. And it was both."


Very few people are coming to O.J's defense. The prevailing feeling seems to be is that he's made his bed over and over and now he must sleep in it.

Like we pointed out before, this event is nowhere near the epic moment that the 1995 verdict was. But, a sentence of 15 years given to a 61-year-old man equates to a significant portion of his remaning life.

Simpson addressed the court with an impassioned plea where he tried to portray himself as a confused and innocent victim in all of this. In short, he claimed he didn't know he was doing anything illegal.

He did seem sincere, although Simpson honed his acting chops in the "Naked Gun" movies.

In the end, his pleas fell on deaf ears and a strict sentence was handed down.

Simpson has gotten his comeuppance, in the eyes of these humble bloggers. And we know we're not alone. We only wonder if anyone out there cares to defend Simpson at this point. My guess would be no.

What are your reactions to today's sentencing?
Steve Dahl will always be remembered for the "Disco Demolition" publicity debacle he spearheaded at the old Comiskey Park.

If you live in Chicago and consume any media at all -- especially radio -- you're probably familiar with radio personality Steve Dahl. The 30-year veteran told his listeners this morning that he's leaving WJMK-FM 104.3.

Growing up in suburban Batavia, my mother listened to Steve Dahl every time she got into her Pontiac Bonneville station wagon, and then in her Honda Accord, then in her Saturn coupe and finally in her Nissan Maxima until my parents finally shipped off to Alaska. (Good lord, that's a middle class lineup of automobiles!)

By sitting in my mother's car -- a common occurance in the life of any child -- I, by proxy, became an unwilling Steve Dahl listener.

To be totally honest, I hated Steve Dahl growing up. I despised every moment I had to listen to him. Imagine as a child being forced to sit in a room and listen to the most inane conversations adults could possibly have interspersed with entirely unfunny 'bits' and you have some idea of the misery I felt.

To be fair, I wasn't Dahl's target demographic.

I don't keep a radio in my apartment because I've never been a fan of antiques. I also don't own a a car because I love the CTA. So it's rare that I would get a chance to hear his show anymore. I didn't actually know the station he's leaving existed until 20 minutes ago.

But I did randomly catch a snippet of his show a while back while sitting in a friend's car. His voice ... un-radiolike, blue collar, prone to pregnant pauses ... was the exact same as when I was forced to listen to him growing up. And I was eight years old again. Miserable.

But something had changed. I can't recall the specifics of what he was talking about, but I remember that I was interested.

I realize now what a Chicago radio icon Dahl is. And I know that his departure signifies a larger trend -- typified by people like myself no longer consuming traditional radio -- that is affecting media as a whole.

We're approaching the end of an era -- a changing of the guard, if you will. It's a new guard that I'd wager is currently boring children to death. So I guess some things really never do change.
seau.jpgWithout looking it up, I would estimate that Junior Seau is 44 years old.

That's why it's so surprising to see that he has come out of retirement to sign with the New England Patriots for the playoff push.

In actuality, Seau is a paltry 39 years of age and had a career-high three interceptions last season. Plus, with the way injuries have decimated the Patriots' defense, New England will take help anyway they can get it.

Seau's return comes just two days after Roosevelt Colvin rejoined the team. Neither of these defenders have played this season.

Steve Dahl leaves JACK-FM

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It looks like Lewis Lazare's reports of Steve Dahl's immediate departure from CBS Radio-owned WJMK-FM were right on.

An on-air announcer at the station said Friday morning that Dahl had made his "final goodbye."

Dahl had been at the station since November of last year.

Steve Dahl Leaves JACK-FM Radio
badgifts.jpegKudos to Kevin Allen for his humility, but this is too good not to serve as a nightcap.

Seems as though he got to comb through the stupidest gifts of 2008. Suffice to say, he brought the snark.

The 10 worst gifts of this holiday season   [Sun-Times]
Alex Rodriguez, who sat out the 2006 World Baseball Classic because he said he didn't want to choose between playing for the United States and Dominican Republic, is planning to suit up for the latter in 2009, according to David Ortiz.

A-Rod to play for the Dominican in WBC   [Yahoo Sports]
Barbara Walters trotted out her annual "Ten Most Fascinating People" special last night, and to absolutely nobody's surprise, President-elect Barack Obama was at the top.

He is pretty fascinating, actually.

Some of the other choices on the list were, uh, questionable. Tom Cruise was the second-most fascinating person Walters could score an interview with, while American golden boy Michael Phelps was ninth.

Anyone else see that episode of "Saturday Night Live" he hosted? It was not very fascinating.

Unfortunately, I missed the program. But it did spawn an idea.

Who were the 10 most fascinating people in the sports world in 2008?

Immediate names that come to mind: Joe Paterno, LeBron James, Manny Ramirez, Stephen Curry, any of the parties involved in all of the parachuting mishaps this year, the brain trusts at Notre Dame who kept Charlie Weis, Ricky Williams, Tim Tebow, Joe Maddon and Ozzie Guillen.

Who fascinates you?
alcohol.jpgThe blogger shows his patriotism by commemorating the ratification of the 21st Amendment.

It's going to be tricky to not have this construed as a no-holds-barred celebration of drunkenness and partying, but here goes.

Today we celebrate the anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition in 1933.

And we probably should celebrate -- responsibly. And in moderation.

Imagine sports without beer commercials. Dinner at the Ross residence without Merlot. College dorm rooms without beerymids. Work without Happy Hour. Wedding receptions without awkward toasts.

Seems kind of bleak.

Over at www.repealday.org they're really extolling the virtues of this so-called holiday. In fact, they've been so kind as to give some tips on how to observe it.

"There are no outfits to buy, costumes to rent, rivers to dye green. Simply celebrate the day by stopping by your local bar, tavern, saloon, winery, distillery, or brewhouse and having a drink. Pick up a six-pack on your way home from work. Split a bottle of wine with a loved one. Buy a shot for a stranger. Just do it because you can.

But, lest we get too carried away, there are still some out there that wish Prohibition had never ended.

The Washington Huskies have named Steve Sarkisian their new football coach.

Sarkisian, who is currently associate head coach and offensive coordinator at USC, is apparently the young, energetic coach the Huskies were looking for. He'll replace Tyrone Willingham, who was informed on Oct. 27 that he would not be returning as coach.

Huskies set to hire Steve Sarkisian, according to report, sources   [Seattle Times]
simpson.JPGAlmost fourteen years ago, Americans crowded around television sets to watch the verdict of the O.J. Simpson double-murder case come in.

It was one of those rare moments in collective history that is burned into our memories. One where everyone probably remembers where they were.

On Friday, Simpson will be sentenced by District Court Judge Jackie Glass after being convicted of kidnapping and robbery in October.

While this case was much more removed from the public eye than the one in 1995, it looks like Simpson's punishment will be severe.

At least more severe than I thought.

From ESPN:

"Court probation officials have been investigating Simpson for weeks, preparing a recommendation that will be a critical factor in Judge Glass' decision. In most cases, probation officials are inclined to suggest sentences that are more lenient. But according to recently filed court documents, the probation officers in Simpson's case are suggesting a sentence of 18 years. Even worse, it will be 18 years of actual incarceration before there can be any consideration of parole.
Apparently, I'm not the only one who sort of lost track of the proceedings.

Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports weighs in on how the passing of time has changed things. In short, the public's interest in Simpson is nowhere near what it once was.

"Perhaps it's Simpson fatigue. Perhaps it's a desire to avoid fighting the battles of the past. Perhaps it's because the new case was so dull, sad and bizarre - one of the items Simpson took was the suit he wore the day of the original verdict.

Perhaps it's the wars and the economy and uncertainty that makes caring so much about some sorry old felon seem a waste of time.

Perhaps it's that no matter where you stood on the original case, you'd have to agree that anyone who survives a double-homicide trial has to be a fool to get a parking ticket, let alone have anything to do with an armed robbery.

Whatever it is, it's a long way from that October day in 1995, when the People of California v. Orenthal James Simpson stopped the nation in its tracks and then nearly busted it apart. Back then you'd never have believed that he'd one day face a potential life sentence and most people would just shrug.

The one-time most famous defendant in the country, the center of a media storm like almost no other, the touchstone figure of a decade, will head off to a Nevada prison for perhaps the rest of his life.

So what about you? Are you still following this case, or did the sentencing sneak up on you? Do you believe that he should have been convicted in the double-murder trial? If so, do you believe late justice is better than no justice? Or do you simply not care?

nittanylion.JPGPenn State will be without the cheerleading services of James Sheep, the student who plays the Nittany Lions mascot when the football team travels to the Rose Bowl.

Sheep was suspended by the university for his Nov. 22 DUI arrest. Another member of the cheerleading squad will assume mascot duties for the Rose Bowl.
Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy seems to have some pretty reasonable goals for his new punter Jeremy Kapinos.

From the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

"Asked what he could possibly expect from a young guy with almost no regular-season experience, coach Mike McCarthy said, "I want him to punt the ball in the right direction. I'm expected to win games; he's expected to punt the ball in the right direction."
Seems pretty reasonable.
A Cubs fan displays the best way to stealthily photograph the back of Erin Andrews' head. (Sun-Times photo by Tom Cruze)

Playboy has announced the 30 finalists for the 2009 Sexiest Sportscaster Award.

In news that will likely surprise no one, Erin Andrews is the reigning champion.

In the past, we've asked you, the news makers and consumers of the world, to leave Ms. Andrews alone. If we're to discuss her prowess, let's focus on the fact that she's good at what she does, rather than the fact that Playboy has reminded us that she looks better than any other female in the country when she does her job.
Texas Tech, the forgotten team in the great Big 12 three-way tie debate, got a bit of bad news earlier this morning when federal agents arrested a reserve defensive back for allegedly dealing cocaine.

De'Shon Sanders has been charged with felony possession with intent to distribute in excess of 50 grams of cocaine, DEA public affairs spokesman David Ausiello said Thursday.

Sanders is a housemate All-Everything wide receiver Michael Crabtree, who has not been implicated in connection with the alleged crimes.

Red Raiders' Sanders arrested by DEA in drug bust   [ESPN]
Olympic swimming veteran Amanda Beard has sued a Florida salon company for using her likeness without permission.

Beard claims the company used her photo on its website "to create the impression that Beard endorses ProSun products."

Amanda Beard Claims Tanning Co. Burned Her
Shamus Toomey, who after further investigation was attending Syracuse when the men's basketball team was placed on probation, has again brought some rather amusing news to our attention.

Nicholas George Montos, a career criminal who made a name for himself here in Chicago, died at a Massachusetts hospital Sunday at the age of 92.

That obviously isn't the amusing part.

It seems that Mr. Montos had eight rules for avoiding the police.

From the Sun-Times:

"An ex-con caught with Montos told the feds that Montos had confided in him his eight rules to avoid the cops:

1) He only went out in the daytime, except when on a burglary job.

2) He stayed away from taverns where hoodlums congregated.

3) He changed his brand of beer every few months.

4) He stopped smoking cigars.

5) He never drove more than 5 mph over the speed limit.

6) He never used a hotel or fictitious phone number for an address.

7) He drove on diagonal streets whenever possible.

8) He hired pickpockets to get new identification papers from men his size.

OK ... a few things.

First, some of these are pretty good ideas. Stealing fake identification every now and then would for sure keep you off the grid. And obeying the speed limit would make sense, too. You don't want to get pulled over and have them realize a warrant is out for your arrest.

But, a few of these so-called rules are pretty out there. We can't figure out what some of them even mean. Driving on diagonal streets whenever possible? Changing up your brand of beer every now and again?

We obviously have a lot to learn about the life of crime. But we probably love smoking cigars at night while speeding down Halsted too much really pursue one of those anyway.

Kerri Walsh, who won gold in women's beach volleyball at the Beijing Olympics, revealed in an interview with "Access Hollywood" that she and husband Casey Jennings are expecting their first child.

Walsh said she is "pretty sure" the child was conceived just a few days after she and partner Misty May-Treanor notched their memorable victory.

Olympian Kerri Walsh Expecting First Child
   [Access Hollywood]
walrus suit.jpg

This is becoming one of our favorite features around here.

A few days ago we thought we were getting some Indiana Jones news, but it turned out to just be about a college basketball injury.

Tonight, we were tricked by a misleading slug again.

U.S. Sued by Environmental Group Seeking Protection for Walrus
<B>c.2008 Bloomberg News<P>
By Tony Hopfinger
Dec. 3 (Bloomberg) - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was sued by an environmental group for failing to act on a petition to protect the Pacific walrus in AlaskaÕs Arctic under the Endangered Species Act.
griffey.jpgSweet swing and backward-hat-wearing enthusiast Ken Griffey Jr. may be headed back to the city where he distinguished himself as one of the game's best.

That is, if you believe a certain West Coast writer who managed to sneak a nude exercise joke into his hypothetical musings.

From SeattlePI:

"WOULD YOU, MARINERS fan, trade Raul Ibanez, 36, for an ambulatory Ken Griffey Jr., 39, and two high picks in the 2009 amateur draft?

That choice may be upon new Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik, sorta.

Since both eventually will be free agents this winter, no trade is involved, but in terms of relative replacement, that's at least one way to look at it.

Despite the fact that there are several dozen variables at work this early in the offseason, not the least of which is Griffey's recovery from arthroscopic surgery on his left knee, I like it (also, a Griffey-to-Seattle column is a local tradition that goes back almost as far as Fremont's naked bicyclists, only is much more wholesome, and also postpones another woe-is-local-football topic).

That wildly distracting visual aside, it'd be great to see Griffey go back to the team that we all identify him with.

Wouldn't it?

The Toronto Raptors have fired coach Sam Mitchell.

Mitchell was in his fifth season with the club and had compiled a record of 156-189. He won the NBA Coach of the Year Award for the NBA 2006-2007season.

Mitchell fired   [Fan 590]
obamagolf.jpgSyracuse alum and friend of the blog Shamus Toomey explores where President-elect Barack Obama rates among presidential golfers. We learn that JFK was pretty smooth on the links, but Calvin Coolidge had no game.

 Fore more years   [Sun-Times]
Good news for the good people of San Francisco: Edgar Renteria may be bringing his game to the Giants.

The shortstop's agent says there has been "significant progress" toward a deal between the parties.

Considering Renteria's .317 OBP last season, this may not really be that great of news for Giants fans.

Agent: Renteria, Giants closing in on deal   [ESPN]
izzoold.jpgThe first night of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge ended with each conference earning three wins. As a proud Midwesterner, I was pretty excited that the Big Ten was keeping this thing close.

After all, the ACC has won the previous nine incarnations of the challenge. Then I looked at the slate of games tonight.

In short, you might as well put this one in the win column for our friends on the East Coast again.

Indiana travels to Wake Forest, Penn State to Georgia Tech and Michigan to Maryland. These road tests are probably going to be too much, and at best, the Big Ten may be able to squeak one win out.

Northwestern hosts Florida State as well. If you have confidence in Northwestern basketball, we're very jealous of your optimism.

The marquee match-up features North Carolina and Michigan State at Ford Field. The Tar Heels have looked flat-out scary early this season -- with and without Tyler Hansbrough. And after the Spartans' dud against Maryland, I'd be surprised to see them knock off the country's best team.

Don't get me wrong. I want them to. And I want all the other Big Ten teams to represent the conference nobly, but it's probably not reasonable to think they're going to come out on top.

One of these years the curse will be broken. Just not this year.

Or maybe the ACC will take mercy on us Midwesterners and find some other conference to play.

Anyone think the Big Ten can do it?
A 62-year-old woman found barely alive with maggots eating her flesh remains hospitalized, but police are not sure she will survive.

Linda Sue Sainz, a retired Galveston County sheriff's deputy, lived with her 38-year-old son and, according to her children, didn't like going to doctors.

Cops: Woman Found Infested by Maggots May Not Survive   [FOXNews]
The Carolina Hurricanes have fired coach Peter Laviolette on Wednesday and appointed former coach Paul Maurice as his replacement, the NHL team said on their website.

Hurricanes fire Laviolette, re-appoint Maurice   [Reuters]
We're thinking of ending each day with some sort of light-hearted news story to really sign off on a cute and happy note.

You know the drill. Cue the video of the squirrel water-skiing and have the weatherman make some sort of punny comment. You see it every night on your local news.

They'd all go crazy for this little fluff piece.

A 9-year-old Colorado boy has somehow gotten his book of dating tips published. "How to Talk to Girls," by Alec Greven contains all the insight this kid has gleaned in his life.

People are actually going to buy this book. I'm too troubled to even finish this post.

This video will answer your questions.

Please contact us if you're interested in reviewing this book.
Soccer Ronaldo Golden Ball.jpg

Manchester United winger Cristiano Ronaldo was named the 2008 Ballon d'Or yesterday, beating out Barcelona's Lionel Messi and Liverpool's Fernando Torres.

The award is given by France Football Magazine and, much like the way Americans vote on our college football tean d'Or, it's decided by a panel of smarmy, know-it-all journalists.

A day after the announcement, you'd expect some controversey ... some trash talk of some sort. Instead, Messi seems unfazed by the snub, telling Goal.com, "I would rather win trophies for Barça or for Argentina. I expected to finish second. Ronaldo deserved to win it after everything he achieved and because he had a great year where he won two important trophies."
It looks like we can put the speculation surrounding Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis' job security to rest.

At least for a while.

Several media sources are reporting that Weis will be back for the 2009 season.

Notre Dame is declining to comment one way or the other on the news, but the South Bend Tribune says a press conference will be held today to announce the decision.
Dallas Stars winger Sean Avery was suspended indefinitely tonight by the NHL for making a "crude comment" about other NHL players and his former girlfriends.

The Associated Press danced around the actual comment, but we were able to find the so-called offending words, but thankfully the Dallas Morning News printed the actual thing.

" "I am really happy to be back in Calgary, I love Canada," Avery said after waiting for the cameras and microphones to get into place. "I just want to comment on how it's become like a common thing in the NHL for guys to fall in love with my sloppy seconds. I don't know what that's about. Enjoy the game tonight."
Or, if you are more of a visual learner:

Avery was referring to Flames defenseman Dion Phaneuf, who is dating Avery's old girlfriend, actress Elisha Cuthbert. He also had dated supermodel and Fountains of Wayne music video star Rachel Hunter, who is currently on the arm of Los Angeles Kings center Jarrett Stoll.

SeanAveryAndElishaCuthbert.jpgIt's hard to feel sorry for a guy with that type of resume, but "sloppy seconds" doesn't really seem worthy of a suspension. But, the NHL apparently has a clause for just these types of situations.

Again, from the Dallas Morning News:

"The league said the statement violated NHL By-Law 17 and Article 6 of the NHL constitution for conduct "detrimental to the league and the game of hockey."

"I think the words [he used] and his disrespect for an opponent," Stars coach Dave Tippett said when asked what about the statement was so damaging. "There's lots of trash talking that goes on on the ice, but to announce something like that for everyone to hear, that just crosses the line."

Alright, your turn.

First, what do you think of his comments? Do you think they are worthy of the punishment or not? Also, do you think that Avery's track record factored too much in the league's decision?

Don't worry, we won't tell Sean if you're the second commenter.
Mbaye enjoys his first Chicago snow on our deck. (photo by Ricci Shryock)

My roommate's Senegalese boyfriend is staying with us in the Wrig while he's here in the US. He speaks French. His English, while far superior to my French and coming along nicely ... is still in its beginning stages.

When my roommate, who's also a journalist and met Mbaye while working as a reporter in Senegal, isn't around to translate, we're finding a common language though sports -- both real and fake. Oh yeah ... and Jack Bauer.

Through the video game FIFA 09 and by watching this past Sunday's Bears game, Mbaye has gained one of the most important lessons in American English -- how to effectively express frustration at something that's entirely out of your control. Mind you, it's not his own frustration being expressed, but rather my own that he observes and adroitly imitates.

USC coach Pete Carroll is willing to forfeit two timeouts if it means his Trojans get to wear their red home uniforms Saturday against UCLA.

NCAA rules stipulate that the visiting team must wear white uniforms. If USC does come out in red, that infraction would cost them a timeout in each half.

Carroll really looks like he's serious about this, too.

From ESPN:

"As for losing timeouts? "I don't care about it right now," Carroll said. "I think it's the fun thing to do, and I think the fans will appreciate it over time."
USC is a heavy favorite in this game, but what do you think of the decision to forfeit the timeouts? What if this somehow came back to cost them the game?

Again, USC will probably roll and those two timeouts probably won't come into play. But ... it's still risky to even open the door to that kind of catastrophe.
Luckily, I'm never up early enough to watch any of the morning shows. But apparently I slept through a live performance by Britney Spears on "Good Morning America" a few hours ago.

Coincidentally, Spears' new album Circus comes out today. What amazing timing!

Our pop music critic Jim DeRogatis is less than impressed with the offering.

The public's interest in the pop star is also making news today. Spears was the top search on Yahoo for the fourth consecutive year. That's astounding, considering their was a presidential election.

Actually the top five searches reveal quite a bit about the world we live in:

  1. Britney Spears
  2. World Wrestling Entertainment
  3. Barack Obama
  4. Miley Cyrus
  5. "RuneScape" (an online video game)
We are less than one month away from the NHL Winter Classic at Wrigley Field that will pit the Detroit Red Wings against the Chicago Blackhawks.

And it's a perfect time for NBC to trot out its promos.

I was luckily enough to attend one of these outdoor hockey games while on a college visit in 2001. Michigan State and Michigan skated to a 3-3 tie before 75,544 rabid fans at Spartan Stadium.

Suffice to say, it was pretty awesome.

Those lucky enough to have tickets for the game on New Year's Day are in for a treat.
Thumbnail image for del rio.jpgWe try to keep the fashion analysis to the experts around here, but we'd be remiss if we didn't address the outfit of Jacksonville Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio during his team's loss to the Houston Texans.

Del Rio is one of the NFL coaches who wears a coat and tie on the sidelines, something that we think is pretty cool. But he chose to pair it with a leather jacket, replete with a Jaguars insignia.

The resulting ensemble just didn't work.

It's like blending the ultimate in professionalism with the ultimate in rebellion.

Fashion of course isn't Del Rio's biggest problem as his Jaguars fell to 4-8 on the year in what has been a very disappointing season in Jacksonville.
Mike Hampton is returning to the Houston Astros.

The 36-year-old lefty pitched for the franchise from 1996-1999 and had a 22-win season in his final year there.

MLB.com is reporting that a deal has been reached between Hampton and the Astros, pending a physical.

Hampton returning to Astros   [MLB]
I've never completely understood the appeal of "Monday Night Football."

Sure, it's a long-running institution in the sporting world and is usually the only game in town on the week's dreariest day. But, as a very wise person once pointed out: football is on ALL day Saturday and ALL day Sunday. There are also games on Thursday nights, occasionally there are Friday tilts, and even there's even some MAC games on Tuesday and Wednesday.

That is every day of the week.

Every day!

So what makes Monday special? Why is it an "event"? Why is it so hyped up?

If you believe the commercials, Monday Night Football can cure even the worst day and work and gives people a reason to wake up in the morning.

I just don't get it.

Maybe it's tonight's extremely lackluster match-up between the Jacksonville Jaguars and Houston Texans that has me down. Maybe it's constantly standing up for Tony Kornheiser that's worn me down.

But maybe Monday Night Football has lost a little of its luster and it's not as special as it used to be.

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe you've never been more into it.

Tell me what you think about the place MNF has in the sporting world, and why I should be excited to watch this battle between 4-7 teams tonight.

Also, for the record:

Jacksonville 24, Houston 20
lance.jpgBike-riding and the color yellow enthusiast Lance Armstrong has confirmed that he will compete in the 2009 Tour de France.

The seven-time champion retired after winning the 2005 event, but announced in September that he would be coming out of retirement.

Do you guys think he'll win or will he prove to be rusty?

Armstrong to make Tour de France comeback next year   [Reuters]
North Carolina stayed atop the ESPN USA Today College Basketball poll, followed by Connecticut and Pittsburgh. Duke and Gonzaga rounded out the rest of the top five.

ESPN USA Today College Basketball Top 25 Rankings Week 3: North Carolina Holds Top Spot, Louisville and Michigan State Tumble
One of the best ways to make a tough decision is to answer without thinking. "The Office" devotees may recall this is the strategy Phyllis taught Michael when he was mulling over his relationship with Jan.

And we all know that turned out well.

This so-called "gut feeling" is also the one I like to employ when deciding if a baseball player is worthy of the Hall of Fame. So, let's take a look at the 2009 nominees for enshrinement in Cooperstown and the immediate, unfiltered answer as to if they belong there.

• Harold Baines NO
• Jay Bell NO
• Bert Blyleven NO
• David Cone NO
• Andre Dawson YES
• Ron Gant NO
• Mark Grace NO
• Rickey Henderson YES
• Tommy John NO
• Don Mattingly YES
• Mark McGwire NO
• Jack Morris YES
• Dale Murphy NO
• Jesse Orosco NO
• Dave Parker NO
• Dan Plesac NO
• Tim Raines YES
• Jim Rice NO
• Lee Smith YES
• Alan Trammell YES
• Greg Vaughn NO
• Mo Vaughn NO
• Matt Williams NO

What does your gut say about each of these guys?
tina fey.jpgTina Fey has long been a favorite of the blog.

From her work as head writer of 'Saturday Night Live' and co-anchor of 'Weekend Update' to her brilliant '30 Rock,' it seems like we just can't help but love anything she does/writes.

Heck, even 'Mean Girls' was pretty darn funny.

Today we finally learned the story behind that signature scar on Fey's face.

From NY Daily News:

"The 38-year-old comedienne was attacked by a stranger in a violent slashing incident when she was five.

"It was in, like, the front yard of her house, and somebody who just came up, and she just thought somebody marked her with a pen," Fey's husband, Jeff Richmond, says in an interview with Vanity Fair.

The "30 Rock" star has never publicly addressed the origin of the faint marking, which runs down her left cheek.

New York Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress turned himself into the police early this morning.  He's expected to plead not guilty to a weapons charge around 1 p.m. EST.

Mr. Burress did not appear to be limping just a few days after shooting himself in the leg.

Plax turns himself in   [NY Post]
psu.jpgIf you someone on your shopping list loves Pennsylvania State University so much they want to smell like Happy Valley at all times, Masik Collegiate Fragrances has just the gift.

Penn State perfume.

From the AP:

"Masik Collegiate Fragrances says the perfume for the school in State College, Pa., smells of vanilla, lilac, rose and white patchouli. The cologne smells of blue cypress and cracked pepper.

The company's president says the 3.4-ounce bottles of fragrance should appeal to Penn State's vast alumni and football fans.

Masik also has captured the smell of the University of North Carolina, and plans to offer scents for six other universities next year.

No word yet on if this product is made with bits of real Nittany Lion or if it works 60 percent of the time -- everytime.

The 20th World AIDS day is being observed today, and a cursory look reveals that some of the numbers associated with this devastating disease are remarkable.

Among them: [via Avert.org]

  • People living with HIV/AIDS in 2007: 33.0 million
  • More than 25 million people have died of AIDS since 1981.
  • Africa has 11.6 million AIDS orphans.
  • At the end of 2007, women accounted for 50% of all adults living with HIV worldwide, and for 59% in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Young people (under 25 years old) account for half of all new HIV infections worldwide.
  • In developing and transitional countries, 9.7 million people are in immediate need of life-saving AIDS drugs; of these, only 2.99 million (31%) are receiving the drugs.
You can get involved and help out in the fight many different ways, including the following:

99.jpgFor a while it looked like the Bears were going to stake their claim to sole possession of first place in the NFC North.

Devin Hester had caught a 65-yard touchdown pass and they were driving in for a second score to make it 14-3. With the ball on the 1, the Bears came up empty.

As if that wasn't bad enough, Gus Frerotte connected with Bernard Berrian on a 99-yard touchdown pass on the Vikings' first play after taking over. The palpable momentum shift signaled the ugly turn the game would take.

Mike Mulligan suggests you'd be hard pressed to find a more immediate, more severe turning of the tide -- and questions the bizarre play-calling that led to it.

"Have you ever seen a quicker or more miserable turn of fortune than the one the Bears endured late in the second quarter of their 34-14 loss to the Vikings at the Metrodome? How did it all go so terribly wrong? It started with play-calling -- specifically, a wretched lack of imagination on the goal line.

There's no real need for imagination on the goal line. Brute force is required. Handing the ball to your best player is preferred. Throwing a pass on first down and later handing off to a fullback brought up from the practice squad Saturday because of emergency -- well, that just doesn't make sense. Why is it the Bears want to spoon-feed the ball to Matt Forte at an alarming rate, right up to the point where they get within striking distance?
When the last Kyle Orton pass had been intercepted and Jared Allen sack recorded, the Bears were back to .500 and leaving the Metrodome the recipients of a 34-14 drubbing.

As much as we like to give you the bright side around here, Brad Biggs points out that this team has done little to prove that it can win against tough opponents -- and that they don't have the schedule in their favor.

"The Vikings control the division at 7-5, and the Bears are going to have to hope defensive tackles Kevin Williams and Pat Williams lose their appeals of four-game suspensions soon. Then the Bears can point to a date with the Packers (5-7) on Dec. 22 at Soldier Field and say there is a decent chance they still will control their destiny. But they're a 6-6 team with half of their victories at the expense of the Detroit Lions and St. Louis Rams, and like almost everything else, that doesn't promote a lot of confidence. Unlike the Vikings and Packers, the Bears don't have the luxury of a meeting with the winless Lions this month.
Bringing more rain to the parade is Rick Telander, who points out that winning that precious playoff spot might be sort of pointless anyway.

"There will not be a wild-card team from the NFC North, and even if the Bears won the thing outright, what kind of postseason could we expect from them?

A lousy one, that's what.

If coach Lovie Smith or one of his minions couldn't draw up a play that could gain one yard -- on four consecutive attempts -- how could they handle the stresses of postseason play-calling.

At this point I'd like to also point out that you're probably reading this on a Monday morning at a job you hate and that the wintry mix outside really reminds us that a cold, miserable winter is setting in.

Yes, it's that dreary of a day.

Things are gray and bleak over at Roman Modrowski's Full Court Press blog, where the word "embarrassing" is being thrown around quite a bit.

Ricky O'Donnell, the Sun-Times youngest part-time blogger and biggest Margot & the Nuclear So And So's fan, is also hitting the panic button.

"I usually think those people go way overboard in their criticism of Lovie, Urlacher, Hester, ect., but it was justifiable yesterday. Everything about that game sucked. The Bears have played two must-win division games the last three weeks, and they got completely owned in both. That says a lot about the coaches, and about the players on the roster, many of whom moaned about new contracts in the previous two offseasons. I have zero problem with athletes making tons of money, but these are the games when guys like Urlacher, Tillman, and Ogunleye need to step up. It didn't happen, as the once mighty defense got run over once again. The offense, particularly Orton, wasn't much better. While the playoffs are still a very real possibility, this Bears team flat out sucks right now.

You get the point. Everyone is hating on the Bears team and their inability to seize a golden opportunity to put themselves in the driver's seat of the division. But there has to be reason for hope.

The Packers' loss helps. Green Bay would pretty much have to win out to have any chance at the playoffs.

The Bears' remaining schedule isn't all that daunting. None of the four remaining teams they face have a record above .500.

So all is not lost.

Just the most important game of the year.

Tell us what you think. Do the Bears have a chance at the playoffs or was this the loss that will leave them wondering what could have been?

Once of the simpler joys on Monday morning is scanning the internet for the hardest hits dished out around the NFL. It makes us remember why we like this football so much.

The absolutely astounding hit laid on Wes Welker by Ryan Clark reminds us what we don't like.

Cheap hits.

Clark was flagged for unnecessary roughness on the play and will almost assuredly be the recipient of a hefty fine.

Just how much will this hit cost Clark?