Chicago Sun-Times
A hearty stew of offbeat sports and pop culture.

January 2009 Archives

phelpsbong.jpgSeveral media outlets have picked up a story from News of the World which allegedly shows 14-time Olympic  medalist Michael Phelps allegedly inhaling from a bong. Again, allegedly.

New of the World claims Phelps' aides "went into a panic over our story and offered us (them) a raft of extraordinary incentives not to run the bong picture."

The photos was supposedly snapped on Nov. 6 at the University of South Carolina.

This story is surely going to attract widespread attention and, if true, could be damaging to both Phelps' career and reputation.
lombardi.JPGAfter two weeks of hype, an copious amount of analysis and tons of idle water-cooler talk, the football jamboree that is the Super Bowl is almost upon us.

Super Bowl Sunday has become a de facto American holiday and a time when football savant and those who don't know what a scat back is can joyfully intermingle in front of television sets. If you haven't been asked already, it's time for you to come out with those well-thought out predictions for the big game.
manny.jpgSt. Louis Cardinals first baseman and Triple Crown enthusiast Albert Pujols has gone public with his desires to have high-priced free agent Manny Ramirez join him in the Heartland.

Pujols told reporters that he speaks to Ramirez "every third day" and can't understand how a player of his talent has not inked an offseason deal. He also took it upon himself to pass Ramirez's number to Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa.

Pujols wants Cardinals to pursue Manny Ramirez   (STL Today)
plax.jpgNew York Giants running back Brandon Jacobs is adding insult to self-inflicted injury today, saying that if Plaxico Burress hadn't gone all Micheal Dawson on himself, the Giants would be in Sunday's Super Bowl.

""If we have Plax on our team, we go 15-1 and we win the Super Bowl," Jacobs said yesterday. "I'm not afraid to say that and I'll say it to anybody on any team."
But as Jacobs' struck with his words, he also gave the benefit of the doubt to the former Spartan pass-catcher.
biggerstrongerfaster2.jpgThe internet is without a doubt the best invention in the history of mankind. (Side note: I've never understood comparing great innovations to sliced bread. Sliced bread really isn't that great)

You can literally find out about anything, communicate with people across the world at the touch of a button and tag unseemly photos of your friends on social networking sites. But perhaps the greatest thing about the worldwide web is that people of questionable repute can pepper your e-mail with lame forwarded messages, bogus stock tips and -- of course -- viral videos.

So it is with great pride and an extremely quizzical facial expression that I pass on this gem to you, the Sports Pros(e) reader. You're about to see a man with 28-inch biceps. You'll never be the same.
crosstwon.jpgI'll be straight with you. I don't really understand all of the hoopla surrounding the so-called Crosstown Classic between the Cubs and White Sox.

Sure, there's a certain level of animosity that comes with two teams inhabiting the same city, but there are no heated divisional races, no long history of hatred and other factors usually endemic to a heated rivalry.

But, thankfully my humble opinion doesn't stop Cubs and Sox fans from really causing a ruckus when the two match-up. It makes for a usually good-natured, high-stakes atmosphere six times a year.

Alas, these type of scenes can turn ugly. Case in point: A woman leaving a Crosstown Classic game at U.S. Cellular Field last summer is suing the city and a Chicago police officer after a horse belonging to the CPD's mounted unit stepped on and crushed her foot while police attempted to get a rowdy crowd under control.
I have awesome manners. Some -- I won't say who, because I'm much too modest -- have even gone so far as to call me the most courteous person on the entire Sun-Times staff. But you don't earn a title like this without keeping current on the latest trends in mindfulness. 

It should surprise no one that I've been invited to a soiree this Sunday -- a 'super' affair, if you will. I'm positive it will be very fancy and will prominently feature several delectable gourmet foods and a bevy of canned beverages made from choice hops and rare strains of near-extinct barley. 

Being a legendary connoisseur of all things etiquette, all things party and all things legendary, I was happy to read a blog post today from one "Miss Conduct," which can be found on the Boston Globe's Web site.
owl.jpgAs a general rule of thumb, something pretty outrageous would have to happen to necessitate a post on Rice University basketball.

Well, by anyone's standards, a student dressed as the Owl mascot getting ejected for head-butting a referee would definitely qualify as outrageous.

Sammy the Owl, public enemy No. 1. Video after the jump.
If Google Trends are any indication -- and they usually are -- Americans have had a bit of an obsession over new video footage that may suggest pop star Jessica Simpson has put on a bit of weight.

Some of the stuff we saw about Mrs. Tony Romo was kind of funny and not too harsh. This editorial cartoon, however, seems a little mean. What do you think?

This cold, dreary weather makes it hard to believe that we're just a handful of months away from summer. I think I speak for all of us when I say that barbecues, beach volleyball and just not freezing in general can't come soon enough.

One of the key factors in an enjoyable summer is playing on a winning softball team. To achieve this goal, it's necessary to take things way too seriously.

To wit: this extremely bold Craigslist ad:

"Im a 26 yo male looking for a competive weeknight mens softball team to play on. Im a very good all around player, have all 5 tools. Defensively I normally play SS or OF, offensively I normally bat 1 or 2, but can bat in the middle of the lineup, its just I prefer to go 4-4 with 4 singles than risk popping up trying to hit HRs, but I can hit HRs over 300'+ fences.

Jeter is probably the most comparable MLB player to my softball game, Im a great baserunner, great baseball IQ, can do a little bit of everything batting, and a very good defender (although jeter has no range to his left).
This guy sounds like a real treat. The kind of guy who most certainly would NOT get mad when the first baseman fails to pick his low throw out of the dirt.

Looking for a softball team (around boston)     (Craiglslist)
mymymy.jpgAnyone who has had to fight through numerous failures knows they just make the successes that much sweeter. Russell Baylin is one of those people.

Maybe that's why the My My My frontman just can't seem to contain his excitement about the state of his band.

"My career has been very frustrating," he explains. "It's hard to find the right people, hard to find the great material and [hard] to find an audience. But with this group, it's like the years of frustration have melted away."
My My My is unique in that it has been pieced together through numerous Craigslist ads, one band member jumping aboard at a time. And while you'd think this type of process would breed myriad awkward situations, Baylin says nothing could be further from the truth.

Well, that's not very nice

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(St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

This was the view from the Hilton St. Louis this morning of a piece of blighted property that sits across the street from Busch Stadium. Of note is the writer's excellent snow-walking penmanship.

The message -- "Cubs suck" -- is admittedly a bit harsh. I only wish whoever it was had taken the time to write, "The Cubs may very well win the Central Division again, but it's likely they'll not fare well in the playoffs." That's much more accurate.
jason_caffey_arrest.jpgJason Caffey's rocky post-NBA career continues.

A warrant for the arrest of the former Chicago Bull has been issued in Atlanta. Caffey stands accused of failure to pay thousands of dollars in child support, according to an Associated Press report.

Last time we mentioned Caffey, who has 10 children with eight women, a judge had just denied his bankruptcy filing, which paved the way for the mothers of his children to sue him.
Pittsburgh Steelers fullback Sean McHugh is just a few short days from participating in the ridiculously commercialized football jamboree known as the Super Bowl. He's also been penning a blog documenting his experiences.

And it turns out McHugh, who was released in September by the Detroit Lions, has something in common with my dad.

He gets excited to watch the hapless Lions lose.

An advertisement that had been scheduled to air during this Sunday's Super Bowl has been nixed by NBC due to its sexual content.

The ad -- brought to us by animal rights advocates PETA -- features models in lingerie fondling and caressing sundry vegetables against their bodies.

NBC sent a letter to PETA stating, "The PETA spot submitted to Advertising Standards depicts a level of sexuality exceeding our standards."

This isn't the first time PETA has gone controversial in the name of publicity. A Sun-Times photo gallery explores some of the sauciest and scariest past PETA campaigns.

The ad in question is titled "Veggie Love," and PETA is featuring its banned ad on the organization's Web site.
Several UK publications are reporting that Brazilian and Manchester City soccer star Robinho has been arrested on charges of rape.

Video: Robinho arrested over rape allegation [Times Online]
Footie ace Robinho in rape arrest [The Sun]

Robinho bailed over 'sex assault' [BBC]
Soccer's Robinho Denies Wrongdoing After 'Sex Assault' Claim [Bloomberg]

white_sox_hat_obama.jpgRiding the wave of friendly feeling for President Barack Obama, the Chicago White Sox have announced plans to release two new versions of their hat with some Obamanian features on the back and side.

Sports Business Journal reports, "The hats have been approved by MLB Properties, and the White Sox now are awaiting a formal blessing from the Obama administration before league licensee New Era goes into production. Both designs will be made if accepted by Obama."

Terrell Owens, who we hope (for the pure entertainment value) will someday become a Bear, is joining the elite ranks of Ray J, Flava Flav and Bret Michaels with his own VH1 reality show.

According to an report, "T.O.'s best friends and publicists -- Monique Jackson and Kita Williams -- will help him re-examine his personal life. The two will work as 'matchmakers and therapists' for Owens."

Matchmakers? T.O. needs matchmakers? If one of the most dominant NFL receivers in recent years needs matchmakers, I posit there is no hope for the rest of us who don't wear numbers on our work clothes.
dasboot.jpgOften times in sports we hear about "unwritten rules," codes of conduct that aren't mandated by the rule book but are generally accepted in the interest of fair play and decorum. Occasionally, there's some gray area surrounding these.

Intentionally stepping on your opponent's face, however, is just out and out wrong.

But that didn't stop Houston Cougar Aubrey Coleman from employing the dirty move against Arizona Wildcats star Chase Budinger yesterday.
Joe Torre's new book out to be a hot read around the Yankees spring training facility. But it definitely doesn't paint a very pretty picture of Torre's final years as manager in the Big Apple.

Among the highlights in "The Yankee Years":

  • Torre claims Alex Rodriguez's teammates cleverly called him "A-Fraud."
  • That A-Fraud developed an "obsession" with teammate Derek Jeter. (????)
  • That A-Fraud asked for a personal clubhouse attendant to run errands for him.
  • That General Manager Brian Cashman never relayed Torre's wish for a two-year contact to team management.
Apparently a change of venues and a trip to the NLCS with the Los Angeles Dodgers has done little to sooth Torre's bad feelings.

Torre slams A-Rod Yankees official Cashman in book   (FOX Sports)
missamerica.JPGThe Miss America pageant is on tonight. We're rooting for the girl with the best personality. (Miss America)

Totally missed this, but apparently there's rumor of a UFO flying over the inauguration. You'd think the Secret Service would be on that. (Fox News)

$1,000 an hour seems like a pretty steep price to pay for a prostitute. But that's what Charlie Sunn is charging. (Sun-Times)

Here's a fun new sport: Red Bull Crushed Ice. It combines elements of hockey, downhill skiing and border cross. (Fan IQ)

Georgia family puts everything they own on EBay. Everything. (CBS Atlanta)
kayyow.JPGLongtime NC State women's basketball coach Kay Yow has lost her battle with cancer and died at the age of 66. Yow was diagnosed with the disease in 1987 and inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame in 2002.

She won over 700 games, but will be most remembered for her fearless battle and the awareness she brought to the battle against cancer.

The sports world will miss her greatly.

Longtime NC State women's coach Kay Yow dies at 66   (AP)
charissa.jpgWe don't exactly know Charissa Thompson, but friend of the blog and perfect-hair enthusiast Mike Hall works in close quarters with her. And around here, that's a close enough connection for us to feel a sense of pride that the strikingly handsome sideline reporter is a finalist for Playboy's Sexiest Sportscaster award.

The finalists, which were announced today, feature a bevy of gorgeous dames -- including the amazing page view-inducing Erin Andrews -- and truly exemplify what Joe Six Pack wants to see.

We strongly encourage you to log on and vote for the talented Miss Thompson. God knows she's earned it.

America's Sexiest Sportscaster   (Playboy)
Cincinnati Reds President and CEO Bob Castellini would like fans of the franchise to know the reason the team won't be good this year is the same reason they can't afford tickets: These tough economic times.

This is the message coming out of southern Ohio as the Reds embark on their Winter Caravan -- a practice akin to a mobile Cubs Convention. And for those of you who share Justin Allen's seething hatred of the Cubs Convention, you can only imagine.

Rather than an acute inability to consistently score more runs than opponents, the Reds' ineptitude apparently stems from a simple question of math.
deadspinmcgwire.jpgWell, it finally happened.

I was halfway through an elliptical workout at the gym when one of the televisions flashed the quote from Jay McGwire talking about his more famous brother Mark's foray into the world of steroids on 'SportsCenter.' As interesting as this story may be, the really compelling part is who they attributed as a source: Deadspin.

ESPN, the self-proclaimed worldwide leader in all things sports, was crediting the most recognized of all sports blogs. To demonstrate just how much of a detour this is from journalism as usual, consider the fact that it wasn't long ago that ESPN employees were strongly discouraged from fraternizing with the proprietors of this blog.

Let's not pretend that this move comes out of left field. One of the reasons "SportsCenter" went to a live format was to stay relevant all morning and into the afternoon as myriad blogs continuously update.

But, if nothing else, this makes it official. And very real.
Tribune Co. has selected a favored bidder from the Chicago Cubs and forwarded the offer to the media company's creditors.

A source close to the process says the bid came from Thomas Rickets, president of Incapital LLC.

The offer is believed to be around $900 million.

Source: Ricketts is prefered bidder for Cubs   (Sun-Times)
012209million.jpgCary Stolarczyk got way more than he bargained for when he attended Monday night's Chicago Blackhawks game.

Stolarczyk, who is described as a mild-mannered single guy from the suburbs, was informed before the game that if the Blackhawks scored with exactly 10 minutes remaining in the second period, he'd win $1 million.

So when Martin Havlat lit the lamp at exactly that time, you can imagine he was pretty excited.
012209nu.jpgI guess I blame myself for this loss.

In the wake of Saturday's comeback victory over Illinois, I walked around the newsroom with a puffed chest, loudly proclaiming that you could count on my Michigan State Spartans finally winning a Big Ten title.

And now here I sit, regretfully reporting the the mighty Northwestern Wildcats have upset Sparty -- in East Lansing of all places.

Like the Good Book says, "pride cometh before the fall."
Former Bulls guard Chris Duhon has penned an as-told-to article for today's New York Post in which he offers up his fondest memories of playing pickup basketball with President Obama and former Duke teammate-turned Obama aide Reggie Love.

If you can get past the awkward transitions (or complete lack of transitions altogehter) and the otherwise disjointed narrative, it's kind of an interesting read.

Duhon calls Love, Obama's 26-year-old special assistant, his best friend. So I guess that makes them like the Kevin Allen and Kyle Koster of Duke basketball alumni?

Perhaps most interesting about the article is Duhon's insight into what it's like to play against Obama:
bilde.jpgNew Bears defensive line coach Rod Marinelli fearlessly guided the Detroit Lions to a blemished 0-16 mark last year.

That just doesn't scream masculinity and tough guy grit, does it?

So maybe that's why Marinelli's choice of pronouns to address the media in Detroit have some journalists a little upset.

Philadelphia Phillies slugger and Subway sandwich enthusiast Ryan Howard is asking for $18 million in arbitration for the 2009 season.

Howard's suggested salary is the third-highest figure submitted in the history of MLB arbitration behind Roger Clemens and Derek Jeter. reports:

"Philadelphia offered $14 million to the 2006 NL MVP, who is not eligible for free agency until after the 2011 season. Howard had a major league-leading 48 homers and 146 RBIs last year, helping the Phillies win their first World Series title since 1980. Before the season, he was awarded $10 million in arbitration rather than Philadelphia's $7 million offer."

Howard asks for $18 million in arbitration []
Howard seeking $18M in arbitration []
The Price of Production: Baseball arbitration results []

Parrot.jpgI've never understood why people have birds as pets. They aren't particularly cuddly, you can't teach them tricks and, to the untrained eye, seem like they defecate all over the place.

The exception, of course, is the parrot. Who wouldn't want a brightly colored companion who could emulate your every catchphrase?

If you did own one, we suggest not taking it to the soccer pitch. As we learned today, things could get ugly.

Brandon Flowers was on top of an amplifier an hour into the Killers' set Tuesday night at the UIC pavilion. The skinny and charismatic front man's right fist was raised high, and he was clad in all black as brightly colored lights flashed in rhythm to the group's mega-hit "Mr. Brightside."

This was the moment -- with every person in the gym singing along with him -- that we'd been waiting for. The reminder that Flowers and the Killers have the capacity to deliver one hell of a good time.

When Kevin isn't enraging Pittsburgh Steelers fans and I'm not stirring up heated Big 12 fan bases, we have a little side project we like to work on.

Inspired mostly by the Big Ten Network's Mike Hall and his well-coiffed hair, the Chicago Sports Week in Review strives to give you the local sports news with a side of unsolicited opinion and the occasional bad pun.

As previous episodes reveal, it also gives Kevin an opportunity to parlay his general creepiness into a mildy viewed internet video.

This week, however, your friends at Sports Pros(e) got some good and bad news -- and didn't really handle it well.

After the jump, see if we can cut through the awkwardness in the goal of creating a compelling storyline.
obamashirt.jpgIf you wanted evidence of how much things have changed since the last Presidential Inauguration, in 2001, you'd have to look no further than the swanky couch cushions in the back of the Silver Room. The Wicker Park fashion landmark (1442 N. Milwaukee) hosted an inauguration watch party and sale as Barack Obama took his oath on a sunny Washington, D.C. morning.

People feverishly texted friends, sharing their thoughts on the historic events unfolding on a projection screen positioned just above a hardwood DJ booth. At one table, a television crew interviewed patrons between Twitter updates, talking about how the ways people interact with each other has changed. But despite all the technological advances, a strong sense of community connectivity was palpable. Myriad factions intermingled, expressing hope for the future and sharing just why they believe this is possible.
In keeping with the theme of yesterday's post about questionable music played during sporting events, we'd like to point out a story from today's New York Daily News. It seems the Knicks' Italian forward Danilo Gallinari was not amused by the pronunciation of his name and the music played after scoring during last night's 102-98 win over the Bulls.

The Daily News reports, "After each of his four baskets, the Knicks' long-time public address announcer Mike Walczewski, using a thick Italian accent, said 'Daneeelo Gal-lin-ar-ay' and then the Italian songs 'Volare' or 'That's Amore' were played."

Knicks music irks Gallinari [Fannation]
Nothing more quickly sobers or more aptly reminds us of the inherent risk involved in professional football than when a player lies motionless on the field, as was the case with Ravens running back Willis McGahee late in the fourth quarter of yesterday's AFC Championship after a hard hit by the Steelers' Ryan Clark. 

Thankfully, McGahee reportedly has movement in all his limbs, and doctors have labeled him "neurologically intact," according to Sporting News. But that hasn't quelled online chatter about the Steeler sound crew's etiquette (or perceived lack thereof) during the injury time out -- a point during which the seriousness of McGahee's injury was unclear. 

Mike Florio of quotes a league source as being "livid regarding the fact that, while McGahee was laying on the turf, the folks who operate the sound system at Heinz Field opted to play rock music over the P.A. system. Specifically, the selections were 'Down On The Corner' by Creedence Clearwater Revival, and then 'Smooth' by Santana featuring Rob Thomas."

This begs the question as to whether there's a protocol that teams follow when there's a player injured on the field? Would the Steelers have cranked Rob Thomas if it were one of their own lying motionless on the field?

Perhaps as surprising as the actual playing of the music during the injuries is the callousness  Florio's commenters seem to have about the issue, including the gem, "Who cares ... players get injured all the time ... why is this an issue?"

It's clear to me why this is an issue. What are your thoughts?

If you haven't seen the hit and the musically underscored aftermath, John Fogerty comes in at about 1:15:
A couple days ago we introduced you to Peeze Blog on Youtube -- the daily video blog of former Miami Hurricanes running back and son of Bears legend Walter Patyon, Jarrett Payton. 

Yesterday, Payton -- joined by his sister, Brittney, of the always entertaining -- were back with some love for Sports Pros(e): 


At some point you'd think we'd get embarrassed with the amount of praise we're heaping on Florida Gators quarterback and God enthusiast Tim Tebow.

But whenever that thought creeps into our minds, we remember we're part of the media. And drinking the Tebow Kool-Aid is what the media does.

Timmy's latest stunt took place today at halftime of the Florida-Arkansas basketball game when he stood at center court and dramatically ripped off the sling that had been cradling his right arm.
augie.JPGTexas baseball coach Augie Garrido has 1,629 career victories -- more than anyone else in collegiate history. His Longhorns won the College World Series in 2002 and 2005.

But he's been suspended indefinitely without pay in the wake of a drunken-driving arrest early this morning.
Earlier this week, at least four different people sent me the link to Rick Reilly's piece on the World Series of Beer Pong. It was entertaining and full of Reillyisms, but certainly left me wanting more.

Luckily, friend of the blog Andy Aupperlee was in Las Vegas to cover the event as a photographer. Mr. Aupperlee was gracious enough to share his experiences with us here at Sports Pros(e).

Judging by the photos, it sounds like we missed a good time.

You can read his unabridged entry -- complete with more multimedia options -- on his blog.

BY ANDY AUPPERLEE Special to Sports Pros(e)
Billy and the guys at did a helluva job putting on the World Series of Beer Pong IV. For four days at the beginning of 2009, over 400 teams competed at the Flamingo Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas for $50,000 and the distinction of being crowned beer pong champs. I was asked to cover the tournament as a publicity photographer. Below are some pictures and thoughts.

Thumbnail image for andy2.jpgThe World Series of Beer Pong mixes gaming drunks with the Las Vegas strip. While this is not necessarily a new combination, the resulting ponger/Vegas mashup provides for a highly entertaining weekend. The guys impressively fielded nearly 500 teams, yet it takes more than just willing and able drunks/ball throwers to make a tournament happen. Here are a few ingredients you'll need to throw your very own beer pong spectacle.
utah.jpgThe Utah Utes held a victory parade in Salt Lake City today, chanting, "We're No. 1," and celebrating as if they were.

The only problem: they aren't. Utah's undefeated season was only good enough to put them at No. 2 in the final AP poll and No. 4 in the coaches' poll.

Don't tell that the coach Kyle Whittingham and company, though.
Former University of Miami running back Jarrett Payton (son of Bears legend Walter Payton) keeps a little-known, but fantastically entertaining video blog called "Peeze Blog" on YouTube. 

It's the first on the Sports Pros(e) "Highly Recommended in 2009" list.

A week ago, Payton offered the following helpful advice to his audience moments after his left front tire went flying off his Escalade while traveling on Lake Street: "Lesson of the story of today is don't have people who don't know what they doin' handle your ride."

If we here at Sports Pros(e) were car owners, chances are we'd totally heed that advice:

It took some digging, but we finally found a sports-related angle to the so-called Miracle on the Hudson story from yesterday.

New Jersey Nets guard and slam-dunk enthusiast Vince Carter apparently witnessed the whole thing go down.

"Vince Carter lives along the water in Weehawken, NJ. So on Thursday, he was stunned when he saw a plane land in the Hudson River. Carter saw the miraculous landing of US Airways flight 1549 that came down in the river after a flock of gulls jammed the engines.

"I was just sitting there, looking out the window," Carter said. "I was just sitting in the bedroom. I thought it was watching TV. It landed like it was a movie. It hit like nose first, and you could (hear) the impact. I couldn't believe it."

I wanted to make a "Rear Window" reference (because Jimmy Stewart is always in style), but the intrepid folks over at Deadspin beat me to the punch.

Considering the heroic actions of pilot Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger, III, he should be given free tickets for life to every American sporting event. It's the least we can do as Americans.

Nets report: Notes, quotes   (CBS Sports)
Vince Carter starring in 'Rear Window'   (Deadspin)

Star Wars: Retold (by someone who hasn't seen it) from Joe Nicolosi on Vimeo.

By now you may have already seen this brilliant retelling of the Star Wars trilogy - the original trilogy, sort of - by a person who's never seen it before. But like that original Star Wars some of us saw 50 times when it first came out, ahem, this rates multiple viewings - just for the Han(s) Solo goodness, if nothing else.

So this guy Joe Nicolosi sits down with his friend Amanda Boone and a voice recorder and creates rough-animated brilliance. Not to mention a grand summary of 7 hours of space opera in a little more than 3 minutes. Try that, George Lucas!

It's so good, I didn't even mind the Jar Jar Binks appearance.

Ole Miss basketball coach Andy Kennedy, who last month was charged with assaulting a cab driver, is involved in another lawsuit in connection to the incident.

Kennedy's wife sued that cab driver and a valet driver who backed his claims, saying the accusations put a kibosh on the couple's sex life.

The good news in all of this is that it's the impetus for an intrepid journalist at Cincinnati-based WLWT to come up with this brilliant headline:

Coach's Wife Sues, Claiming Lack Of Playing Time   (WLWT)

Jesse Feister was calling from picturesque Santa Monica, Calif., speaking on the telephone while taking a break from recording an album that has been too long in coming.

The Cavashawn drummer was taking in the West Coast scenery as the Chicago pop-punk band was taking its time and doing it right. His California dreaming is becoming a reality.

"We've never been out here as a band," Feister said. "I've come out a couple times to see family and always thought about how great it'd be to come out here as a band."

A few months back, this didn't seem to be anything but wishful thinking. Cavashawn was halfway through recording an EP in Chicago, but things weren't going as smoothly as Feister and bandmates Scott Salmon (vocals), Chris Hellman (guitar) and Benton Kubicki (bass) had hoped.

So, they decided to drop everything and start over.

Texas coach Mack Brown, whose Longhorns defeated Ohio State in a thrilling Fiesta Bowl, was a little confused about how this whole coaches' poll worked.

Brown said today he was upset when he realized Utah coach Kyle Whittingham had voted the Utes No. 1 in the final poll. Brown was apparently unaware he could have done the same for his squad.

" I read something that said your vote didn't count if you voted for No. 1 because No. 1 already was taken," Brown said Thursday.

"I didn't want to hurt our team by voting us No. 1 and it not counting," Brown said. "So I guess I misunderstood."
Texas ultimately finished third in the poll behind Florida and USC.

Brown explains why he didn't vote Texas No. 1   (Sun-Times)
kevin!.jpgGolfer Chad Campbell was probably really looking forward to playing in the Sony Open. He probably thought about his club selection, his backswing and his short game on the eight-hour flight from Dallas to Honolulu.

But somewhere along the way, a Home Alone-esque moment of realization hit Campbell. He realized he may have forgotten to sign up for the tournament.

"Not good," Campbell said Thursday from his home outside Dallas. "I had actually thought about it on the plane, that there was a chance I didn't commit. I found out when I got off the plane."

Campbell landed Saturday afternoon. The deadline to enter a tournament is Friday afternoon.

Sort of humorous, yes, but as the No. 64 player in the world, this particular event was crucial to Campbell securing a spot in the Accenture Match Play Championship later this month.

To his credit, Campbell seems to be handling it well, laughing when someone asked him if he'd remembered to sign up for this weekend's Bob Hope Chrysler Classic.

Campbell makes his flight, misses the tournament   (Sun-Times)

If you want an example of just how fast our current technology has made reporting breaking news, you'd need look no farther than this plane crash in New York.

Within mere moments of the incident, Twitter updates -- replete with images from the scene -- began popping up all over.

One of the most immediately compelling was submitted by Twitter-user @jkrums, who snapped this photo of the passengers awaiting rescue after the crash.

Shortly after this image was posted, the man responsible was interviewed live on MSNBC.

Talk about a quick turnaround.

 N.Y. firefighters responding to airplane in river   (Sun-Times)
At this point it's almost blasphemy, but the MVP of the BCS title game, in all honesty, was Percy Harvin -- not Tim Tebow.

The versatile wide receiver racked up 171 all-purpose yards while coming back from an ankle injury that caused him to miss the SEC championship game.

Harvin will be looking to use this performance as a springboard into the NFL and is expected to announce his entrance into the draft.

Gators' Harvin to NFL   (Sporting News)
Admittedly, we're not huge art enthusiasts, but a new feature on Google Earth could change all of that quickly.

You know Google Earth as the fun little tool that allows you to zoom in on any region of the world from the luxury of your breakfast nook. Without naming any names, at least one person once completely wasted an entire Saturday looking down on every MLB baseball stadium.

Thankfully, we can now use it to bring some much needed culture into our lives.

The good people at Google have gone inside the Prado Art Museum in Madrid, Spain and captured every nuance of some of the more compelling pieces.

Here's a video of the process. Lots of math, lots of angles, very intriguing.

The Art News Blog has all the gritty details on how to explore the museum while you eat your Apple Jacks.
antarctica1.jpgI saw a guy walking down Sheffield last night wearing a cutoff. He had a black bandana, roadie black jeans and a beard that was a foot long.

He'd either evolved to the point where he was impervious to arctic temperatures or was just downright insane.

The point is: it's frickin' cold. Be careful out there.


New Jersey Nets point guard Devin Harris seems to have done quite well in snagging reported girlfriend Megan Allen. (The Big Lead)

A viscous cycle: crummy economy forces us to rely on peanut butter crackers, peanut butter crackers recalled due to salmonella threats. (Newsday)

Bartolo Colon is back with the White Sox. Attempt to conjure an emotion. (Sun-Times)

Evidently, Barack Obama has been on the cover of TIME 13 times this past year. That can't be right, can it? (Drudge Report)

Sparty has won 10 straight. Too early to call the Big Ten for them, but watch out. (MLive)
marvin harrison.jpgWhen the news broke that Indianapolis wide receiver and perennial All-Pro Marvin Harrison was allegedly involved in a shooting incident, I'd wager I wasn't the only one surprised. Harrison is one of those soft-spoken, borderline boring athletes that you never hear anything about. He shows up, works hard and stays out of trouble off the field.

Or so I thought.

The sports blogosphere is ablaze this morning over an article by ESPN the Magazine's Shaun Assael and Peter Keating that blows the lid off that notion.

"For years, though, Harrison has offered clues that he is serious about protecting his turf, and a more complicated man than we see in games. On Jan. 4, 2003, before kickoff of an AFC wild-card game at the Meadowlands, Harrison was catching passes from Manning as Jets ball boys shagged punts from New York's Matt Turk. One of them, a 23-year-old Long Islander named Matt Prior, threw a ball downfield that bounced near Harrison. According to a New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority report--and two people on the field--No. 88 felt the toss violated his personal space. He charged Prior, bumping him in the chest.

"You threw the ball at me!" Harrison screamed. "You're a professional! You should do your job better than that!" Everyone on the field froze. Prior asked Harrison to back away. Instead, Harrison grabbed Prior by the throat and lifted him off the ground. While fans watching on the stadium's video screen chanted for their ball boy to fight back, players and workers tried to separate the two. As Harrison argued with security, Prior was taken to a medical station, where marks were found around his neck.
Really just an astounding read and definitely worth your time.

You Have No Idea   (ESPN the Magazine)
rikkey.jpgRickey Henderson was overwhelmingly inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame earlier this week, eliciting many video tributes on the biggest sports networks extolling his greatness.

All of this, it seems, has not been lost on Henderson.

The 50-year-old used a Wednesday press conference to claim that he could still play in the major leagues, but didn't stop there. Henderson took a more daring leadoff from reality, saying he could still lead the league in stolen bases.

"I believe today, and people say I'm crazy, but if you gave me as many at-bats that you would give the runners out there today, I would out-steal every last one of them," Henderson said with typical bravado.

Rickey got specific, noting, "I can go out and steal as many bases as [Jose] Reyes steals." Reyes stole 56 bases last year.

"I might have lost a step or two, but I learned a step or two in knowledge that I can pick a pitch and walk to second base," Henderson said.

Henderson also added no team could pay him what he's worth.

I wouldn't wait by that phone, Rickey.



I'm facing a minor dilemma of sorts this morning. My love of attending live sporting events, neighborhood baseball and warm weather is currently battling what good sense and intellect I still have intact after four years at the University of Missouri.

I received an e-mail early today informing me that the Cubs 2009 Lead Off Plan goes on sale today at 10 a.m. Call it a sign of the times, but, to steal a phrase, I might just have to wait 'til next year.

For those who are unaware, if yours is one of the tens of thousands of names on the pathetic abyss that is the Cubs season ticket waiting list, you are given the conciliatory option of purchasing a 13-game ticket package before regular single-game tickets go on sale. Granted, pretty much all of the games you have to choose from are weekday games against hapless teams, but there are some chances to get Cardinals or White Sox tickets.

My brother and I both jumped on the chance last year and separately snagged our 13 games. But in this economy -- and considering the epically demoralizing efforts the Cubs have posted in the last two post seasons -- I just don't think it's worth it.

The Cubs would have needed to make some major readjustments in the off season to keep me -- not only a casual fan, but a neighbor -- intrigued. In short, it takes more than Milton Bradley to suck $1,000 from this guy.

While I applaud the acquisition of Bradley, he should have been the team's third-best pickup of the off season, and certainly not the lone "marquee" name.

Am I alone on this?

What do you think Cub fans -- are you buying this year?
It appears USC quarterback Mark Sanchez is headed to the NFL, according to the LA Times. We'll know for sure later this morning after Sanchez appears at a scheduled news conference.

The last order of business for Sanchez before announcing his big decision was a meeting with Trojans coach Pete Carroll. While the NFL's millions are certainly a huge magnet, Carroll was able to convince Matt Leinart to stick around for another season in 2005, thus adding a tinge of drama to today's presser.

Eligible players have until the end of business today to submit the necessary paperwork to enter the NFL draft.

With other marquee QBs Tim Tebow and Sam Bradford opting to stick it out another year on their respective campuses, it's hard to believe that Sanchez, projected by many as a first-round pick, won't enter the draft.
chrispaul.jpgChris Paul (no relation to Miguel Paul, apparently) almost pulled off one of the rarest feats in basketball Wednesday during the New Orleans Hornets' win over the Dallas Mavericks: the quadruple-double.

Paul scored 33 points, dished out 11 assists, grabbed 10 rebounds and tallied 7 assists. Oh, so close.

Only four players have accomplished this in league history, the last being David Robinson in 1994.

Big night for Hornets' Paul 
andruwjones.jpgAndruw Jones' stay in Los Angeles is coming to a wildly disappointing end.

Jones, who was once considered by man as one of -- if not the best -- center fielder -- in the game, posted an anemic .158 batting average with the Dodgers last season.

The Atlanta Braves are considered to be a contender to sign Jones, and he was courtside at the  Duke-Georgia Tech hoops game last night.

As Mota arrives, Jones on the way out   (MLB)
It looks like the White Sox' dreams of acquiring stellar leadoff man and wildly versatile contact hitter Chone Figgins have been crushed.

Figgins agreed to a one-year contract with the Los Angeles Angels today.

Earlier this week, Twitter aficionado Joe Cowley had reported Figgins' name re-appearing in connection with White Sox rumors.

Angels, Figgins agree at $5,775,000   (Sun-Times)
hendrycortez.jpgOne of my favorite questions to ask people when we first meet is who their favorite explorer is.

It may seem pretty innocuous, but I contend it reveals a lot about the person.

If they refuse to name one, they're probably pretty boring and lack any sense of adventure.

Columbus is a cliche answer, meaning they usually stick to the company line. Cortez suggests they crave power, Ponce de Leon reflects a desire to remain youthful and Lewis Clark a strong urge to build friendships.

Anyone who says Magellan immediately has something in common with me.

But what kind explorer does Cubs GM Jim Hendry fancy himself as?

After an offseason that's already seen the Cubs sign Milton Bradley, ship away Mark DeRosa and miss out on the Jake Peavy sweepstakes, Hendry vows the club will continue to explore other options.

"Hendry said the Cubs will still explore acquiring a fifth starter, a slot that could be filled in-house by Sean Marshall, Chad Gaudin or maybe even promising young right-hander Jeff Samardzija, the former Notre Dame wide receiver.

The Cubs talked with San Diego about a trade for pitcher Jake Peavy but a deal has not developed. Chicago is also in the market for a backup catcher -- preferably a left-handed hitter -- for NL Rookie of the Year Geovany Soto, after Henry Blanco was not re-signed.

"We're going to see if we can do something before we get to camp. How significant that is, we don't know," Hendry said. "Nothing really imminent. We feel good about where we're at. We could go to camp now and feel good about it, but we'll continue to stay active if we can."

What moves, if any, would you like to see the Cubs make as they head into the 2009 season? And more importantly, who's your favorite all-time explorer?

Hendry says Cubs will keep exploring moves   (Sun-Times)

Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford couldn't beat Tim Tebow in last week's BCS title game, but it looks like he's setting himself up to make a run at something that eluded Tim Terrific: two straight Heismans.

Bradford is expected to announce his decision to return to the Sooners next season, despite being pegged as one of the top available players if he were to declare for the NFL draft.

Source: Bradford expected to return   (ESPN)
meggett.jpgFormer NFL running back David Meggett was jailed today on a rape charge in South Carolina -- while currently out on bond for another sexual assault charge.

Both of Meggett's accusers say he was going by the name "Mike."

"Meggett, 42, was arrested and charged with raping a 21-year-old woman in her North Charleston home, authorities said.

The woman told police she woke up at 1 a.m. Tuesday and found a man she knew as "Mike" sitting on her bed, according to an incident report. The man demanded that she repay $200 she owed him and raped her when she said she didn't have the money, police said.

In September, he was charged with third-degree criminal sexual conduct after a 17-year-old North Charleston woman told authorities she was raped by a man she knew as "Michael," according to police records.

Ex-NFL player Meggett facing rape charge in SC   (AP)

Shepard Fairey's iconic design became an indelible image of the historic presidential campaign.

A little digging yielded a Web site that lets you Obama-fy yourself in that motif.
Back when the Bears were still competing, more often than not they'd be on FOX. Among other things, that meant that we, the viewers, would be inundated with the annoying piece of animatronic scrap metal that is Cletus the Robot.

You've seen this guy. He's that mechanical dude who stretches out when they're coming back from a commercial break or breaking down Donovan McNabb's passing numbers by quarter.

Anyone who has participated in a live Bears chat knows exactly how I feel about Cletus.

He makes my blood boil.

So, Conan O'Briens bit on Cletus the other night really made me laugh. I'm glad to see others think this little animated gag is rusted out.

30rock.jpgFinally got around to watching last Thursday's episode of "30 Rock," and I must say it may be one of the funniest of all time. The Huffington Post line really resonated and Selma Hayek is never a bad thing.

You can watch it in its entirety on Hulu.

Good to see this show finally getting the attention it deserved in earlier seasons.


Chat live with UFC star Rich Franklin! (Sun-Times)

Meet Brett Eastburn, motivational speaker and club comedian. (Brett Eastburn)

Natalie Dylan's virginity auction is up to $3.7 million. I like where this society is going. (CNN)

New York Mets sign Alex Cora. Hey, it's a slow news day. (MLB)

Will Barack Obama's regular self-reflection help or hurt his presidency? (Slate)
Ours is a society that values attractive, tanned women wearing skimpy clothing.

Ours is a society that values subjective reality television contests and strong, polarizing opinions.

So it was only a matter of time that a bikini-clad babe snuck onto "American Idol."

Last night, we were introduced to Katrina Darrell, multiple octave and high heels enthusiast, when she sang "Vision of Love."

Darrell stirred the pot by:

  • saying she'd make out with Ryan Seacrest
  • getting into a tiff with new judge Kara DioGuardi
  • wearing very little clothes.

    The proceeding video notwithstanding, we here at Sports Pros(e) probably won't be turning into "American Idol" for yet another year....but will you?
Michael Irvin has never been happier to be Michael Irvin.

The former Dallas Cowboys star and current NFL analyst had a gun drawn on him by a motorist -- who quickly put the weapon down when he realized the man he'd threatened used to catch touchdown passes from Troy Aikman.

"Irvin put down his window because he thought someone wanted to talk to him and saw the passenger in the other vehicle raise a gun, the report said. Irvin said in an interview Tuesday night that he feared the men had planned to rob him and changed their minds when they saw who he was.

"The passenger pulled out a semiautomatic and I knew what time it was," Irvin said. "But he said 'Oh, that's Michael Irvin, with the Dallas Cowboys.'"

Despite being scared, Irvin said he tried to keep the conversation going.

"So we started talking about the Cowboys and everything," he said. "Then they got back on the highway."

"I tell you what, I'm glad he was a Cowboy fan," Irvin said.

Motorist points gun at former Cowboy Irvin, police say   (Dallas Morning News)

meeks.jpgJodie Meeks set a Kentucky school record by scoring 54 points in the Wildcats' 90-72 victory over the Tennessee Volunteers last night.

He also nailed 10 three-pointers -- also a school record -- and finished with this unbelievable line score in daily papers all across the country:

54 pts, 8 rebs, 4 ast, 15-22 fg, 10-15 3pt, and 14-14 ft
The previous single-game high-water mark for points in a single game had been Dan Issel's 53 in 1970.

Considering all the stories tradition and Adolf Rupp's old school has, a very impressive feat by Mr. Meeks.

Kentucky's Meeks scores 54   (Sun-Times)
mizzou.jpgWell, it appears I'm not the only one around this blog who has to answer for the ridiculous actions of current athletes at my alma mater. And while Plaxico Burress' indiscretions may be a bit more serious, they aren't near as creepy as the fake relationship conjured up by Missouri point guard Miguel Paul.

Paul, a freshman from Lakeland, Fla., lists Chris Paul as his first cousin on the Missouri Tigers' Web site (page 44).  Seems like a compelling angle for an intrepid young journalist at Mizzou to pursue.

Michael Kelly, a senior, decided to do just that. He showed up at the New Orleans Hornets' practice facility Tuesday to talk to the astounding Chris Paul about his cousin Miguel.

Things hit a bit of a snag, however, when Paul said he'd never heard of this Miguel guy.

"As he was walking out of the Alario Center after practice, Chris said he had never heard or met Miguel.
Adding to the weirdness is this Nov. 16 article from the Columbia Missourian -- a publication that Kevin Allen probably read every morning before class -- that talks about how Miguel draws inspiration from his "cousin" Chris.

"Miguel Paul was a junior in high school when he met his cousin for the first time.

Paul's high school basketball team from Florida had just won a national tournament in Raleigh, N.C., despite being one of the smallest schools competing. Paul scored 36 in the championship game.
OK, but if we believe Chris Paul, none of this ever happened. That would make Miguel's claims that he wanted to go to Mizzou because he didn't want to follow in Chris' footsteps at Wake Forest pretty worthless.

My gut feeling is to believe the NBA superstar. The one who knows that the media will find out the truth eventually.

That leads to some head-scratching. Why would Miguel make something like this up? Did he honestly believe that no one would mention it to Chris? And what really to gain from all of this?

If it turns out that this is all a bunch of baloney, how does the young Missouri guard ever recover from this? I can't imagine opposing crowds not having the best night ever when Paul and the Tigers roll into their gyms.

University of Missouri basketball player claims to be Chris Paul's cousin   (Hornets Beat)
MU guard shares some things with all-star cousin   (Missourian)
My friend Jon brought to my attention today a video that we here at Sports Pros(e) think typifies everything we simultaneously love and hate about fans. We love the passion that fans possess -- we just hate that it's directed at sports, and so often manifests as the behavior you see in these videos.

In the wake of the Giants' season-ending loss Sunday to the Eagles Sunday, a gaggle of Giants supporters made their way to the Giants Stadium parking lot and proceeded to take out their frustrations on a fire-damaged Porsche and Toyota truck -- all while cameras were (unsafely) rolling.

Neil Best of Newsday called it, "The reason all civilized people hesitate to attend professional sports events."

While no less than half a dozen enraged fans make a cameo in these Youtube videos, the star of the show is a chap named Justin. So committed to the destruction of these vehicles is Justin that he eventually sustains an ankle injury while attempting a flying kick on the truck's driver-side window -- much to the horror of the ladies bearing witness to this spectacle.

A warning though ... these cats aren't exactly choir boys. The language is exactly what you'd expect from angry, over-served fans:
We're just eight short days away from the return of "Lost." That leaves just enough time to re-watch the old episodes, understand what's going on briefly and then become completely and utterly confused again.


Meghan McCain refuses to comment on Sarah Palin. Ohhhhh, burn. (Huffington Post)

Looks like Frank Spaziani will be the next coach at Boston College. (ESPN)

Drew Peterson moves his fiancee into his Bolingbrook home. This always ends well. (Sun-Times)

Lots of people having fun with the new Mets patch. It does look pretty Citi. (Uni Watch)

Mariska Hargitay suffers collapsed lung. (New York Daily News)

David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution is boldly announcing this morning that the Atlanta Braves "finally have their ace" in Derek Lowe.

Lowe, 35, pitched admirably last season for the Los Angeles Dodgers -- well enough to merit a 4-year, $60 million contract, according to the article.

Lowe has a 126-107 career record and a 3.75 ERA. He's averaged 15 wins, 208 innings and nearly 34 starts over the past seven seasons.

Source: Braves make 4-year, $60 million offer  [ESPN]
Florida State safety Myron Rolle is better at football than us, smarter than us and has much loftier expectations for his future than both of us combined.

In short: he's a pretty impressive guy.

Today Rolle announced his decision to study at Oxford instead of entering the NFL draft.


Florida State star picks Oxford over NFL draft   (NBC Sports)
The indestructible Tim Tebow is presumably becoming even more indestructible now that he's had surgery on his right (non-throwing) shoulder. Tebow's expected to be out 3-4 weeks, but is expected to be ready for spring practices.

Meanwhile, Sports Illustrated wonders whether fans might be suffering from a mystery ailment called 'Tebow Fatigue.' As if we could ever tire of the single greatest college football player to don a helmet and all-around nicest guy to ever wear the color blue.

Florida's Tebow has shoulder surgery (AP)
For some fans, Tebow fatigue already taking hold (SI)
The most popular man in Alabama today may be Jake Lee of Spain Park High School.

Lee sank an 82-foot buzzer-beater to lift his Jaguars to a 47-45 victory over Clay Chalkville (the school, not the man) on Saturday.

Here's your visual evidence.

Jake Lee's 82-foot shot lifts Spain Park over Clay   (Birmingham News)
eddycurrysex.jpgFormer Chicago Bull and current New York Knick center Eddy Curry made headlines awhile ago for his failure to pay off debts incurred while filling his closet with some fine threads.

In the wake of today's news, that little legal snag seems pretty harmless.

Word out of New York is that Curry is being sued for sexual harassment by his former male driver.

David Kuchinsky claims are wrought with some pretty shocking details, several of which seem out of bounds even for this blog.

Some of the more printable claims made by the driver:

  • Curry tried to solicit sex from him on multiple occasions
  • Curry made the driver dispose of soiled towels (yeah, exactly what you're thinking)
  • Curry repeatedly used racial slurs against the driver
  • Curry pointed a loaded gun at the driver to keep him from complaining about his treatment
Curry denied the claims through his lawyer.

rypien.jpgWashington Redskins quarterback Mark Rypien throws a pass against the Buffalo Bills exactly two weeks after ruining the author's birthday party.

* For some reason I kept thinking about the significance of today's date, January 12th. It was one of those nagging, fleeting annoyances that just wouldn't go away.

It just dawned on me why January 12th means something.

Seventeen years ago today, the Detroit Lions were in the NFC Championship. They got trounced by the Washington Redskins, 41-10. I remember this because I was having a family birthday party at our house and I became violently ill, missed the second half and didn't get any cake.

The neighbor's dog was also fatally struck by a car while we all watched.

Looking back, that day was a pretty strong omen of things to come.

In other news...

Jim Caldwell is the new coach of the Indianapolis Colts. (Indy Star)

Ann Coulter was on "The View" today and managed to -- wait for it -- ruffle some feathers. (Times of the Internet)

Obligatory Golden Globes fashion acknowledgment. We're buying what Megan Fox is selling. (MTV)

A 4-year-old boy mauled to death Sunday by a Rottweiler at his Chicago foster home was going to be removed from the house and placed with a family who hoped to adopt him -- possibly as early as this week. (Sun-Times)

Baby Mangino is Deadspin's Sports Human of the Year. Don't know whether to laugh or cry. (Deadspin)
Baseball's holiest shrine will welcome to more members as today Jim Rice and Rickey Henderson were elected to the Hall of Fame.

Rice gets the nod in his last year of eligibility while Henderson garnered almost 95 percent of votes.

Henderson, Rice given Hall passes   (MLB)
nataliedylan.jpgA 22-year-old California student is taking a rather unique approach to raising money for her masters degree.

She's auctioning off her virginity.

"Natalie Dylan, 22, claims her offer of a one-night stand has persuaded 10,000 men to bid for sex with her.

Last September, when her auction came to light, she had received bids up to $243,000 but since then interest in her has rocketed.

The student who has a degree in Women's Studies insisted she was not demeaning herself.

Miss Dylan, from San Diego, Calif., said she was persuaded to offer herself to the highest bidder after her sister Avia, 23, paid for her own degree after working as a prostitute for three weeks.

As you may have guessed, this is garnering quite a bit of interest in many circles. Dylan, for her part, expresses surprise that this type of stunt is attracting some odd inquiries.

"She said she had had a lot of attention from a wide range of men, including "weirdos", "those who get really graphically sexual about what they want to do to me" and "lots of polite requests from rich businessmen".

Student auctions off virginity for offers of more than £2.5 million   (Telegraph)

One of my college roommates set out to eat as many half-pound bean burritos from Taco Bell as he could one year.

Strapped for cash and nutritionally apathetic, the dollar menu offering was just the kind of fare he could sink his teeth into over and and over. It was entertaining to watch him add to his tally on a communal dry erase board. It was even more entertaining to watch him sign the wrapper of No. 100 and nail it to the wall in our living room.

To me, that was the behavior of someone who loved Taco Bell.

I was wrong.

People who truly love Taco Bell -- and each other -- get married there.

"Wedding bells meant Taco Bell for Paul and Caragh Brooks.

Customers inside the fast-food restaurant continued to order tacos and burritos as the couple sat Friday in a Taco Bell orange booth and exchanged vows.

"It's appropriate," groom Paul Brooks said. "It's an off-beat relationship."

Yes, certainly off-beat.

Plus, this story spawned this headline, which is certainly open to interpretation:

Normal couple weds at Taco Bell   (Sun-Times)

young.jpgTexas Rangers shortstop Michael Young won his first Gold Glove Award this season. So it might seem a little strange that the organization told Young they intended to move him to third base next season in order to make room for top prospect Elvis Andrus.

It doesn't make a lot of sense to Young either, who is now asking to be traded.

One source even goes so far as to say the 32-year-old shortstop was "absolutely livid" about the request.

Sources: SS Young asks for trade from Rangers   (FOX Sports)
Chunky soup and conference championship game enthusiast Donovan McNabb took a moment out from destroying the New York Giants' title dreams to have a little fun in the fourth quarter of Sunday's game at the Meadowlands.

Chased out of bounds, McNabbed picked up a phone on the Giants' sideline and simulated a call as players and coaches looked on. The move drew a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and McNabb expressed regret over the action immediately after the game.

It makes sense that the league would want to crack down on these kinds of antics, but at the same time it's enjoyable to see players having a little fun. Personally, it didn't seem like an attempt to show anyone up, but rather just a moment of levity.

Any ideas on who McNabb was calling? There's certainly a lot of critics out there he could have been demanding apologies for. Or perhaps he was getting some clarifications on the overtime rules for playoff games.

Do you take issue with McNabb's call? Should he be fined?
goldenglobes.jpgTim Tebow, who won his second national championship as a Florida Gator Thursday, will be back to vie for a third. (Orlando Sentinel)

If we live in a world where our peanut butter gives us salmonella, is it really much of a world? (Washington Post)

Mustaches, especially ironic ones, growing back into style. My dad's been on the cutting edge of that trend for 38 years. (New York Times)

A little live Golden Globes blogging never hurt anyone. (The Gold Rush)

First person to tell us why Joe the Plumber needs to be in Gaza wins. (Huffington Post)
I know, I know. We're rapidly becoming a glorified branch of NBC's public relations department around here tonight, but this BCS debate simply won't die and we're obligated by law to address anything involving Will Forte singing about college football and hemorrhoids.

Here's the comedian's uniquely positive and disturbing take on the BCS, which he shared with America during "Weekend Update."

Something tells me Tim Tebow doesn't approve of some of the language in this ode.
NFC champs.jpgThere's an old saying, popular in old-fashioned barber shops and with anyone playing pinochle, that you can't teach an old dog new tricks.

But recently maligned veteran quarterbacks Kurt Warner and Donovan McNabb are debunking that axiom at an alarming pace as they guide their underdog squads through the NFC playoff bracket.

Saturday night it was Warner hooking up with the freakishly athletic Larry Fitzgerald time after time as the Arizona Cardinals thoroughly de-clawed the Carolina Panthers in a 33-13 laugher. Today it was McNabb and the Philadelphia Eagles slicing through the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants for their second consecutive road victory.

This sets the stage for a Sunday showdown in suddenly football-crazy Arizona for a trip to the Super Bowl.

I'll go out on a limb and say I'm not the only one surprised by the resurgent paths both of these signal-callers are on.
beckham1.jpgInternational icon and aging midfielder David Beckham made his debut for AC Milan today, playing 89 minutes in a 2-2 draw against AS Roma.

Despite a solid performance. Mr. Posh Spice was giving a rousing round of boos when he was replaced by Mathieu Flamini.

What would elicit such a response from soccer enthusiasts?

I asked two non-partial women within earshot, and received an answer almost in unison: pure jealousy.

Beckham plays 89 minutes in AC Milan debut   (Sun-Times)
"Saturday Night Live" addressed the Roland Burris situation during their cold opening last night.

What do you think of the Burris and Blagojevich impersonations?
eyeball.jpgNoted MC Chris Llewellyn subdues man threatening to bomb an airplane. Certainly won't hurt his career. (MTV)

Baltimore mayor Sheila Dixon busted for shopping around with other people's money. She should probably move to Illinois. (International Herald Tribune)

As first reported here, Tim Tebow may actually be more than human. (Tebowisms)

Best story of 2009 thus far: Texas death row inmate gouges out eye, eats it. (AP)

Introducing mantyhose -- pantyhose for men. (National Post)
President-elect Barack Obama, who in less than two weeks will be inaugurated, took the time today weigh in yet again on the state of college football.

You may recall Obama stumping for an eight-team playoff during the presidential campaign, but visible in separate interviews on "Monday Night Football" and "60 Minutes." In the wake of the Florida Gators' 24-14 victory over the Oklahoma Sooners in the BCS title game last evening, he once again pleaded for change.

"Obama, asked what he thought about Florida's 24-14 victory Thursday night over Oklahoma in the BCS championship game, congratulated the Gators and said he'd sent a message to a friend whose son plays for the team.

At the same time, he said, "If I'm Utah, or if I'm USC or if I'm Texas, I might still have some quibbles."

Obama said, "That's why we need a playoff."

Personally, I choose to believe that the Gators' victory is convincing enough for them to be crowned without hesitation. But a certain team in Utah would probably disagree with that.

So, is Florida your national champion or are you with Obama on the need to get those playoffs a-rollin'?

Obama renews plea for college football playoffs   (AP)

romanowski.jpgBIll Romanowski, the former NFL linebacker known for his ferocious play and downright insane on-field antics, is openly campaigning for the open Denver Broncos coaching job.

Romanowski sent a 30-page PowerPoint presentation to Broncos owner Pat Bowlen detailing just what type of fresh ideas he could bring to the franchise.

"Romanowski would also hire a full-time nutritionist and recruit some of the world's elite strength and conditioning coaches, he said.

"I'd have literally a full-time person mixing up protein shakes every day," said Romanowski, who is president and CEO of a nutritional company called Nutrition53. "The business is football, which is having fast, strong, explosive players."

The one thing this amino acid enthusiast has working against him is his lack of experience. He does help coach his son's team, though.

Probably makes them eat lots of tuna fish.

Romanowski openly campaigns for Broncos job   (Sports Illustrated)

BCS Championship Football.jpg

Predictably, the vast majority of the media landscape is feeling love for Tim Tebow this morning the likes of which hasn't been thrust upon an individual since a certain Illinois Senator was running for this nation's highest office.

Can you blame us? As The Sports Network so succinctly puts it: "He has the pretty girl. The big muscles. The bronze statue displayed were most young men his age showcase a collection of beer bottles. Yet, he never flaunts his success or boasts about his enormous talents, but rather deflects praise to his biggest fan at every turn. God."

Would that we were all as good at life as Tim Terrific.

Here's a smattering of Tebow love from around the Web:

New York Times: Tebow's Performance a Perfect Ending (or Maybe Not)

LA Times: There's no debate about the greatness of Tim Tebow

ESPN: Tebow carries Gators to title

Orlando Sentinel: Best ever

The Sports Network: Tebow keeps promise to team, fans, God

The Gainesville Sun: This win, this title stands alone

The Miami Herald: College football needs Tebow to stay one more year

Anyone care to dissent?

The Canadian Press (of course!): Borrrring! BCS championship game should have been on C-Span

Houston Chronicle: Chronicle writer tabs Utah as No. 1 in final AP Poll

The Norman (Okla.) Transcript: Bad plays, bad decisions cost Sooners the title (Bad plays and bad decisions -- not the greatness of Tim Tebow -- is why OU lost. Bold claim, Transcript. Bold claim.)

I'm 15-years-old and I'm sitting in my freshman English class. We're writing down where we will be in ten years.

I don't know where I am going to be in 10 years, let alone two weeks from now. The girl I have a crush on asks me what I wrote down. It's only the third time she's talked to me all trimester semester.

I've never initiated. And I'm nervous.

So I show her what I wrote.

There, in a awkward pubescent print, is this sentence:

"In ten years I will be a writer. I will live in a big city. Maybe New York. I hope I'm happy."

kylekoster.jpg It's Election night.

I'm sitting at a computer, watching with the rest of America as the historic returns come in.

I'm picking a photo to document Barack Obama's victory. I'm writing a caption about what is going on. It's very loud, very chaotic and people are yelling all around me.

We are reporting the news.

Grant Park is teeming with people. Everyone is excited. I don't care about politics, but I'm excited too.

It's been almost 10 years since I wrote that awkward prediction in English class. A lot has happened.

Some of it has been bad. But I wouldn't change any of it.

I'm right where I'd wanted to be.

I realize how lucky I am. I try to appreciate all of the good fortune that has come my way.

I wonder how many people can say that. I'm happy I live in a world where anyone can.

I think about that piece of paper.

Thumbnail image for sportsprose.jpgKevin and I are at U.S. Cellular Field.

We have a hand-held video camera and we are interviewing White Sox fans after the division tiebreaker victory over the Minnesota Twins.

Each one is more drunk than the next.

One gives me a high-five.

I ask him what he thought about the thrilling 1-0 victory.

He slurs something about Jim Thome. And he wants another high-five. I give it to him.

None of the footage is usable.

It doesn't really matter. We'll post something stupid about Erin Andrews. It will be alright.

No one reads this stuff, anyway.

I think about that piece of paper.

Thumbnail image for vampire weekend.jpgI'm at the Vampire Weekend show at Metro. It's an unseasonably warm Sunday in April.

They're playing "A-Punk." I know the words to this one.

Everyone else here looks cooler than me, but I don't really mind.

I couldn't get anyone to go with me, but I don't really mind.

Ezra Koening and his band finish their crisp, hour-long show. I walk home down Sheffield listening to their debut album on a scratched-up Ipod. I think of a lede and write it on my arm in blue pen so I don't forget it when I get home.

It washes off in the shower the next morning and appears in the paper the morning after that.

I think about that piece of paper.

***** ***** ******

From an early age, it was ingrained into me to periodically stop and take stock of my life and the world around me. And today, on the 25th anniversary of my birth, I can honestly look around and say I'm happy, grateful and humbled to be surrounded by such great people and privy to so many blessings.

The memory of that somewhat silly ninth-grade activity came back to me tonight as I was riding a Brown Line train home from work after a particularly hellish evening. The kind of night that would make lesser men -- or more honest men -- invoke an Alan Jackson lyric of woe and zest for drinking.

But a funny thing happened to the really perturbed guy who got on at the Merchandise Mart.

He turned into a very realistic and content guy by the time he got home.

Admittedly, no one cares about this post. I certainly wouldn't be held hostage by the long-winding musings of someone I didn't know reflecting on their place in the world on a particular day. However, the very fact that I have this instrument with which to voice my opinion is paramount to the overarching feeling of satisfaction being felt today.

In short, life's been good to me.

It's damn time I acknowledge that and thank those responsible.

And I'm writing down where I'll be in ten years, not telling anyone and keeping it around for safe-keeping. After all, how you get some place is just as important as they fact you are there.

So, to the people who've made the first quarter century work: I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

To those who will mold the next 25 years: Can't wait to meet you.

I'm Kyle.

I'm sort of a writer.

Chicago's a big city.

Very, very happy to be here.
College football's national champion will may be crowned tonight as the Florida Gators take on the Oklahoma Sooners in a game sponsored by Chuck Noland's company.

You probably won't be surprised who we like.

The world's best footballer and attaining-girls-way-out-of-my-league enthusiast Cristiano Ronaldo really "Schruted it" today in Manchester when he lost control of his Ferrari and crashed into a wall.

The Manchester United winger escaped without physical injury, but his expensive ride sustained quite a bit of damage to the front end. Ronaldo seemed to be coping well in the wake of the accident.

"Ronaldo gave photgraphers a thumbs up this afternoon as left training.

He smiled as he drove away with a pal in a Bentley.

Ronaldo wrecks Ferrari in smash   (The Sun)

Milton Bradley's a start, but if Chicago teams want to captivate fans again, we'll need several more athletes just like him. (AP photo)

If Bonnie Tyler were to pen a song about Chicago sports, it might be titled "Holding Out For An Anti-hero."

With the exception of Ozzie Guillen, it's been a while since Chicago sports had a truly controversial, divisive figure in its midst. What Chicago teams lack is a good villain. Long gone are the days of Albert Belle to the White Sox, Dennis Rodman to the Bulls and Sammy Sosa in his waning days with the Cubs.

In Milton Bradley, however, the Cubs are committing themselves to a proven hothead -- a return, perhaps, to this city's tradition of employing outburst-able players.

I hope it's a city-wide trend.
kidney.jpgA New York doctor who donated his kidney to his ailing wife now wants it back. They're getting divorced, you see.. (WCBS)

A former Chicago Police officer is suing the obstetrician who delivered her fifth child last March, claiming he was verbally abusive and deliberately tried to hurt her. (Sun-Times)

Florida's Tim Tebow will win the national title tonight, solve all other problems tomorrow. (AOL Sports)

We're all shook up about it being Elvis' birthday. (ElvisPresley)

Worst air ball in the history of sports. Poor kid. (Fan IQ)
Eli Manning, the only remaining Manning left in this year's NFL Playoffs celebrated his 28th birthday at a New York club Friday. Some of his New York Giants teammates braved what has been the scariest venue for the team this season and were treated to quite a show from Manning's wife Abby.

"After a few rounds of tequila shots, our spy said Eli's wife, Abby (above), "gave him a special lap dance" while Beyoncé's hit, "Single Ladies," blared. "They were trying to hide, but everyone on the dance floor could see them."
Lap of Luxury   (New York Post)
rocco.jpgRocco Baldelli, Rhode Island's bravest center fielder, is this close to becoming the newest member of the Boston Red Sox.

Baldelli has struggled with a mitochondrial disorder, but the Boston Globe is reporting the Red Sox have checked out all his medical paperwork and are interested in giving their fans a fun new name to pronounce next season.

Lansing Waverly's finest John Smoltz is also rumored to be in Boston's crosshairs as well. The ageless 41-year-old would likely be out of commission until late May, but such things matter not to baseball's slightly less Evil Empire.

Baldelli close to signing with Red Sox; Smoltz not far behind   (Boston Globe)
candaceparker.jpgFormer Naperville Central standout and winning-everything enthusiast Candace Parker announced Wednesday she and husband Shelden Williams are expecting their first child.

Parker, the reigning WNBA MVP and Williams eloped to Lake Tahoe in Nov. 13 to get married. She's 22.
redstockings.gifA couple of weeks ago, when I was home for the holidays, I spent the better part of a snowy afternoon combing through my old baseball card collection. It was an exercise in nostalgia as memories of simpler times when getting that Craig Biggio Donruss card was all that mattered in life.

There's a certain connectivity that males of my generation feel with those little cardboard cut outs. We were led to believe that hoarding as many cards as we could would inevitably lead to amassing great wealth, thereby eliminating the need to get a real job. All of us had it planned out. We were going to beat the system.

Well, a funny thing happens when every kid has the same idea.

It becomes less viable.

Our mid-90's Juan Gonzales Fleer cards never matured the way a 1952 Mickey Mantle did and our collections got stuffed into the back of our closets -- to be perused 15 years later on a snowy afternoon or to become the subject of a Rilo Kiley lyric.
Levi Johnston, America's most famous ex-high school hockey player and brand new daddy, has quit his job in the Alaskan oil fields after questions surrounding his eligibility were risen.

The issue is that Johnston didn't have the required high school diploma to participate in the apprenticeship program.

Johnston's father and Gov. Sarah Palin deny the former VP candidate had any connection in the acquisition of the job.

So, for the time being, it looks like this Levi story is scandal-free.

But the Anchorage Daily News article does provide us with a deeper look into the life of the man responsible for some of the best all-time cutaway shots at a political convention.

"Levi is mechanically inclined and since age 8 has tagged along with his dad on house-building and wiring jobs, Keith Johnston said.

In early September, Levi finally landed a job as a roustabout on an ASRC project in Valdez, Johnston said.

Levi did well, showed a good attitude and didn't complain about working in the weather, he said.

For those of you unfamiliar with what a roustabout is all about, here's a brief educational video:

Levi Johnson quits oil field job   (Anchorage Daily News)

stafford.jpgMatthew Stafford seems resigned to his fate as the next quarterback of the Detroit Lions. The heralded Georgia signal-caller is expected to declare for the NFL draft on Wednesday. His backfield partner Knowshon Moreno is also expected to enter the draft.

Stafford, a junior, threw for 3,459 yards and 25 touchdown passes this season -- leading many in the know to believe he will be the first overall selection.

That means he'd be Detroit's newest Lion.

You're a brave man, Matthew. A very brave man, indeed.

Sources: Stafford, Moreno to leave Georgia for draft 
Every now and again a video surfaces that is so disturbing it renders a nation speechless. This, ladies and gentleman, is one of those times.

The following 167 seconds of videotape appeared on ESPN2 earlier today.

To recap, that's rapper Lil Wayne assessing a music video tribute to a pundit whose made his name by loudly arguing opinions du jour on a midday talk show.
drewbrees.JPGFirst off, I'd like to congratulate New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees on being named the AP Offensive Player of the Year today. Brees racked up an eye-popping 5,069 yards through the air this season, becoming only the second signal-caller to surpass the 5,000 yard mark in a season.

Truly a tremendous season.

But Brees' nod may be one of the best all-time examples of why postseason awards are -- for lack of a better adjective -- kind of stupid.

How can Peyton Manning be named the Most Valuable Player and then fail to be recognized as the most outstanding player on the offensive side of the football? How does that make any sense?

Sure, the argument exists that Manning's steady hand on the offense and his ability to lead are more impressive than his empirical stats, but come on. If he's not the best offensive player there is no way he can be the most valuable.

Anyone out there see it differently?

Brees wins offensive award   (Sun-Times)
giambi.jpgSome late afternoon links to mull over while you lament the lack of healthy options in the employee break room vending machines.

Jason Giambi is back with the Oakland A's. Feels like 1999 all over again. (NY Post)

Meet Crystal Harris, another notch in Hugh Hefner's bedpost. What's a 60-year age difference mean, anyway? (Huffington Post)

Patricia Arquette files for divorce from Thomas Jane. Great news for Lindsey Bluth. (AP)

Boy, 6, misses bus, takes car, crashes in Virginia. (Sun-Times)

Complete lingerie football league photo guide. I'll allow it. (Co-ed Magazine)


As rumors circulate that a deal to buy the Chicago Cubs is drawing near (Reuters), Mark Cuban -- once thought to be among the frontrunners -- is explaining on his blog today why he won't be buying them.

In this morning's post, titled simply "The Cubs," Cuban shoots down any inferences that would suggest the Major League Baseball owners would not have given him the 75 percent approval needed to purchase any team.

We don't claim to be architecture experts here at Sports Pros(e), but we do know an attractive building when we see one. After all, we do live in Chicago, home to some of the most impressive architecture in the country.

One piece of architecture of note in our fine city houses the Bulls and Blackhawks -- the United Center. But more impressive, perhaps, than the piece of architecture itself is the fact that it was ever built at all, considering the potential impasse that Bulls and Blackhawks brass faced in the early 90s.
glandorf3.jpgDidn't get a chance to watch the whole Fiesta Bowl last night, but was lucky enough to tune in for the ever-so dramatic seven minutes.

In that time span, Terrell Pryor caught a touchdown pass, Ohio State roared into the lead and Colt McCoy cemented his legacy with a last-second touchdown toss to the underrated Quan Cosby.

But, apparently I missed a great deal of gratitous shots of McCoy's girlfriend Rachel Glandorf during the first 53 minutes of action.

And judging from how popular this young lady has gotten on search engines, football fans sure seem to know what they like.
Kurt Warner has his Arizona Cardinals playing for a spot on the NFC Championship game and is fresh off an inspiring regular season.

But ... can he draw God?

What do you think of Warner's drawing skills?

That's Good, But I Asked You to Draw Godzilla   (Kissing Suzy Kolber)
fiestabowl.jpgReal estate mogul Steven Good found fatally shot in a Kane County wildlife preserve. (Sun-Times)

Ohio State looks to actually show up in a BCS bowl tonight against the Texas Longhorns. Do it for the Big Ten, guys. (Fiesta Bowl)

Former NBA villain Antoine Walker arrested on suspicion of drunk driving in Miami. (AP)

Jenn Sterger, the most powerful woman in sports? The most attractive? Anybody? (New York Daily News)

Tampa Bay Rays sign Pat Burrell to a two-year deal. (Bloomberg)
For the first time in the 101-year history of Pitt basketball, the Panthers are ranked No. 1 in the ESPN/USA Today coaches' poll.

Pitt is 14-0 and got 30 of the 31 first-place votes after previously top-ranked North Carolina dropped the ball yesterday against Boston College.

Pitt basketball is No. 1 for first time ever   (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
pritchard.jpgJoseph Pritchard is no different than lots of 8-year-olds living in England. He loves soccer and has dreams of becoming a professional player.

Pritchard has these aspirations despite having only a thumb and two fingers on each of his hands.

His father Darren contacted several sporting goods manufactures about producing special gloves for his son and Puma stepped up to the plate, providing four customized pairs.

Now little Joseph can tend goal without worrying about ill-fitting gloves slipping off.

Young goalkeeper with two fingers per hand has unique gloves made   (Telegraph)
cowher.jpgBill Cowher will not be returning to the sidelines for the 2009 season, opting instead to remain as an in-studio analyst for CBS Sports.

Cowher says he won't coach in '09, staying at CBS

Sometimes when we need to step outside of the sporting world, the ever-changing landscape that is the local music scene is there to comfort us. While combing through some archives, I stumbled on this October 2007 interview I did with Mike Kinsella, known to his fans as Owen -- the man responsible for crafting songs that resonate with their simplicity.


Chatting on his phone while driving, Mike Kinsella quickly exclaims, "Oh, man, there's a cop pointing at me. I'm going to fake hang up. I'm putting the phone down but I'm not hanging it up." It's a close call but he escapes the long arm of the law.

Of course, Kinsella just could have given Chicago's Finest his alias: Owen. That's the moniker the 30-year-old has assumed for his solo music project, which is about to embark on a fifth album. The irony is that Kinsella's Owen is as honest as it comes -- stripped down with nerve endings exposed.

Boston College coach Jeff Jagodzinski may meet with the New York Jets about their coaching vacancy. Sources say he will be fired if he does. Better get it, Jeff. Better get it. (ESPN)

Connecticut man buys lottery ticket, dies the same day. Lottery ticket wins $10 million. Ironic, don't you think? (Yahoo)

Rick Telander wants Andre Dawson in the Hall of Fame. Do not anger Rick Telander, people. (Sun-Times)

What in the hell was Matt Millen doing in studio during NBC's playoff coverage Saturday. That's like having Mrs. O'Leary's cow analyze the Chicago fire -- or something. (MLive)

Scientists say love that lasts a lifetime is a possible. That's cute. (CNN)
lebrontravel.jpgOne of the biggest beefs with the NBA is that the superstars are afforded the luxury of getting all the calls, especially in crunch time. Seriously, go back and watch some film of the 2006 NBA Finals and Dwyane Wade. It's pretty amazing stuff.

Going back to Michael Jordan, the premier players have been able to take 2, 3 and sometimes 4 steps as they slash through the lane and add to their point totals. An acquaintance of mine claimed he watched a Los Angeles Lakers-Houston Rockets game and counted 68 travels between Kobe Bryant and Tracy McGrady.

While that may be an exaggeration, there is no question that a traveling call against a bonafide NBA superstar is rare. A call during crunch time rarer still.

All this makes what happened in Washington during the Wizards-Cavaliers game very compelling.

Watch for yourself as LeBron James gets whistled for taking too many steps as he drives in for the bucket.

As you may expect, James was none too pleased with the call, going so far as to say his signature "crab dribble" is legal under James Naismith's rules.

""You have your trademark play, and that's one of my plays. It kind of looks like a travel because it's slow, and it's kind of a high-step, but it's a one-two just as fluent as any other one-two in this league. I got the wrong end of it, but I think they need to look at it -- and they need to understand that's not a travel," James said. "It's a perfectly legal play, something I've always done."
I'm not mathematologist, but to the untrained eye LeBron seems to be taking three enormous steps after picking up his dribble. And maybe I'm alone, but it's wildy refreshing to see the rules of basketball applied.

You'd have a point if you said that he's gotten away with traveling so much in the past that it's almost unfair to blow the whistle when the game hangs in the balance.

So ...  was it travel? Should it have been called one? And would you like to see the NBA apply more stringent traveling rules in the future or do you like those high-flying dunks too much to see them go?
jay.JPGOur former colleague Jay Mariotti, who left the Sun-Times in August in search of greener pastures -- presumingly online -- has a new gig.

Starting tomorrow, his polarizing opinions can be found at AOL Sports. Fanhouse is touting his arrival with a prominent ad on its front page.

Mariotti, whose departure after 17 years here sparked a war of words and attracted widespread national interest, says he will focus more on national issues than Chicago sports.

Since the Bears fell just short in their playoff push and the Lions fell -- well much shorter -- it's time to pick an adopted team for these here NFL Playoffs.

Enter the Baltimore Ravens.

Ed Reed and company dismantled the Miami Dolphins 27-9 in sunny Florida this afternoon, along the way creating five turnovers. Reed's meandering 64-yard interception return for a touchdown in the second quarter set the tone for the Ravens, who will travel to Tennessee to take on the Titans Saturday.

Reed has long been a personal favorite of mine due to his ball-hawking prowess, his penchant for the big play and the general reckless abandon he plays with.

My question to you, the reader, is this: Is Reed the most exciting defensive player in the game?

If not, then who?
We're not particularly offended, but it appears that USC linebacker Rey Maualuga is not an avid Sports Pros(e) reader. At the very least, he missed my pleas for everyone to leave Erin Andrews alone.

Maualuga decided to break it down right behind an unwitting Andews as she prowled the sidelines during the Trojans' dismantling of Penn State at the Rose Bowl.

Would have been fun if she had turned around, but probably better she didn't.
It's been awhile since I've visited the ol' blog interface. Please accept my apologies.

coach_probst_04.jpgYou ever wonder what happened to all the guys from Hoover High and MTV's "Two-A-Days"? It's OK, you can admit it. (ESPN)

Mark Ingram, one of our favorite receivers in Tecmo Bowl, finally caught by authorities in Michigan. (New York Daily News)

Everything you've wanted to know about new Cub Aaron Miles but were too afraid to ask. (Sun-Times)

Special needs student left on school bus overnight. Can't be good. (CNN)

What do us journalists like? (Stuff Journalists Like)
The Bangor Daily News sports story of the year for 2008 has to be one of the most inspiring in the nation.

Sean Daniels, a senior at Easton High School, made what can only be described as a miraculous comeback. Daniels was injured a little over a year ago "while performing a rite of autumn in northern Maine -- the annual potato harvest," according to the paper. But even after having his hand and forearm amputated, he's managed to return to his soccer team and basketball team.

He's now the starting power forward for his basketball team -- which he's leading in rebounding!

Ernie Clark reports:

"I'm used to it now," said Daniels, who plans to study athletic training in college with an eye toward a career in physical therapy. "Playing a lot this summer and going out to L.A. really helped me a lot. I've learned to cope with it and not worry so much about what I can't do and work on what I can do."
Wondering what those 'G' commercials featuring vivid black and white images of world-class athletes and nondescript sound bites are for?

It's Gatorade, my friends. If you're like me and you only watch television anymore with a computer in your lap, chances are you googled "G bowl commercial" like me because you were confused as to why you weren't being explicitly told what product you should want.

I was hoping it would be something new and exciting. Now I just feel hoodwinked.

I miss the days when Gatorade commercials were in-your-face conspicuous and downright catchy:

Asked to describe Brett Favre in one word, an anonymous Jet told Newsday staff writer Arthur Staple the legendary quarterback was "distant."

From Newsday:

"There was a lot of resentment in the room about him," a Jets player told Newsday yesterday. He requested anonymity because team owner Woody Johnson has stated publicly that Favre is welcome to return next season if he wants to. (Favre reportedly will take until the end of February to decide about returning.)

A far less anonymous Thomas Jones went so far as to suggest Favre should have been benched in the team's final loss to the Miami Dolphins. Favre threw three interceptions in the loss that secured the Jets' absence from the playoffs.

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