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Our friends at ChicagoSide are not despairing the Blackhawks' current 2-1 series deficit to the hated Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference Semis.

In fact, correspondent Meghan Kluth has a few reasons why Blackhawks fans should just chill. After all, comebacks are in our sports nature. At least some of the time.

Mike Royko, the voice of Chicago journalism, was an everyman for the city. Living a life made of dirty politics and barstool social commentary, his voice was a familiar one telling the sometimes hard to hear story of the city he loved.

But at no time did Royko speak with such unbridled glee as when he was hanging out at the Billy Goat, talking his true love - softball. Real softball. The 16-inch kind.

In this 1982 gem, a rare interview with Slats Grobnik's best friend, Royko hangs out with the Sun-Times team, a perennial powerhouse, and talks effusively about the time when he was king, pitching the Strikers to a title on a last-second whim. And, of course, his desire to collapse, dead at homeplate carrying the tying run in the seventh inning to finish off a grand slam. And, his life, of course.

Aside from the bar stool or behind the keys of his typewriter, there could have been no more fitting place for Royko to meet his maker.

And for those of you not blessed enough to be from Chicago, 16-inch softball is different from what you play because A) the ball is bigger than the usual 12-inch variety and B) there are no gloves on defense. The 16-inch game is specific to the Chicago region, but grab a Clincher and you can make a change for the better.

Mark Buerhle may not have been perfect in his record eighth Opening Day start for the White Sox, but this defensive gem sure was.

In the fifth, the left-hander took a bullet from Lou Marson's bat off his leg, chased it down in foul territory along the first-base line and flipped it without looking through his legs with his glove hand to Konerko to get the out.

Even with 161 regular-season games left, it could very well end up being the Sox' defensive play of the year.

Buehrle was checked out by manager Ozzie Guillen and the training staff, which gave fans the opportunity to give him a well-deserved standing ovation.

Buehrle finished after 7 innings with a 5-0 lead over the Indians, giving up just three hits and striking out three.

No. 44 stepped up his game beyond politics and took on the far more important responsibility of broadcasting college basketball.

President Obama, the hoops fan in chief, joined Vern Lunquist and Clark Kellogg for a few minutes of analysis in the Duke-Georgetown game and brought his humor and some nifty broadcasting ability to the table.

And, for the record, he says he can work to the right, but prefers moving to his left.

Gun-slinging quarterback Jay Cutler has had a tough year. No doubt about it.

But for one shining moment in a frozen game under the lights of a national Monday Night Football stage, the maligned Bears QB of the future could say he out-dueled the king of the gun-slingers, Brett Favre, in the most entertaining game the Chicago squad played in a dismal 2009 season.

Following what is now an almost predictable Adrian Peterson fumble in overtime, Cutler wasted no time making the Vikings pay. He hit a streaking Devin Aromashodu down the sideline for a quick-strike touchdown to cap a 36-30 victory.

Who knows what this victory means in the long run - other than a thorn-in-the-playoff-seeding-side of Minnesota. In fact, maybe it's best not to think about all the baggage waiting to be unloaded at season's end and simply live in this very un-Bear-like moment of victory. Just ask Jay:

"It's good for the team, it's good for the morale of going out there and putting up points and answering the bell, especially in the fourth quarter and overtime when you have to do it," Cutler said.

Yes, we're supporting blatant commercialization with this post, but who cares? It's Christmas - the official holiday of rampant commercialization.

Besides, these Nike spots playing up an old school rap battle between Santa Claus (an old school legend - KRS-One) and Blitzen (current Chicago hip hop legend Lupe Fiasco) with the help of LeBron James and Kobe Bryant.

The Blitzen challenges Santa to a game of hoops, talks a bunch of smack, then gets planted by the Jolly Old Elf. Pretty good stuff, really. Especially good to hear KRS1 again. This might be the best Christmas rap since Run DMC's "Christmas in Hollis."

Anyway, Blitzen boasts about his game, telling Santa he'll spot him Kobe, LeBron and points anytime:

It all leads up to this epic rap and hoops battle on the courts, cause, you know, Santa won't be faded:

You'll have to head here for the full interview videos.

Former NBA referee and gambling enthusiast Tim Donaghy is out of prison after 11 months for a mob-fueled gambling scheme that rocked the league. And, of course, he's made a beeline for TV, ostensibly to explain away why he did it and how it never affected the outcome of games.

Donaghy sat down with Bob Simon on "60 Minutes" in an attempt to clear the air, if not his name. And while admitting to being highly successful - Donaghy and the FBI say he won his bets as much as 80 percent of the time - he never threw a game, he says:

"Because the FBI did a thorough investigation, and even the NBA concluded that I did not fix games in the NBA," Donaghy said.

"He said, 'Knowing the information that I had, I didn't have to do anything on the court to pick a winner. I could pick a winner 80 percent of the time just knowing what I knew an hour before the game,'" Special Agent Philip Scala said. "And watching the tapes we could see that there was never something outlandish where you could see he called a foul or he omitted a foul because he wanted to see a certain team win. We never saw that."

The NBA's investigation came to the same surprising conclusion: "It seems plausible to us that Donaghy may not have manipulated games... We are unable to contradict the government's conclusion."

"I tried to put it out of my mind. And I think that that I was able to do that," Donaghy said.

While promoter Bob Arum continues to work with Manny Pacquiao in the Philippines to come to terms on the heavily anticipated bout with Floyd Mayweather, Jr., it seems the pound-for-pound most feared man in boxing is passing his time in stride.

Pacquiao has earned a reputation as the man where Mexican fighters go to die. As his dominance has grown, he's bested Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales and Mexican-Americans Oscar de la Hoya and Chicago's own David Diaz. If that weren't enough, now he takes on Richie Valens with this karaoke take on "La Bamba," caught at TMZ.

Of course, the seven-time champion and Filipino national hero hasn't just been singing as the Mayweather booking develops. He's also in the midst of his second run for Congress. filed his candidacy to represent the southern province of Sarangani under his own People's Champ Movement, the local Commission on Elections office said. He'll run against Roy Chiongbian, brother of the incumbent who due to term limits can't seek re-election.

In a country that literally shuts down when Pacquiao fights, it's a wonder he lost the first time.

And about Pacquiao-Mayweather? March 13 is the date everyone's circling after Roy Jones' stunning loss in Australia to Danny Green as the Vegas date is now open.

Writing a post about something absurd or off-the-wall or inappropriate that Charles Barkley says is almost the blog equivalent of breathing air: It takes almost no effort or thought and happens almost every second of every day.

Case in point: Sir Charles decided to goof on Sammy Sosa's recent skin rejuvenation project that has him looking like something out of the "Thriller" video. So, during the TNT NBA show Thursday night, Barkley, who proclaimed, "I know you want to get in the Hall of Fame, but going white ain't the way to do it!," eventually took to transforming himself into a white man - a process slowed significantly by the continued flapping of his jaw while the makeup person efforted away.

No, on the grand scale, this isn't up there with any Northwestern blackface screwup. But has the Round Mound of Rebound stepped over the line? Nevermind the discussion of whether he'll be able to eat fried chicken and chitluns after he's white. Or is this just another case of Charles being Charles?

Oh, and Chuck, the cops didn't pull you over for driving while black. They pulled you over because you were hammered while looking for some oral pleasure. Just sayin'.



In the third period of Wednesday night's game against the Vancouver Canucks, Willie Mitchell came out of the penalty box at just the wrong time for the Chicago Blackhawks.

Jonathan Toews was on the receiving end of a brutal Mitchell hit near center ice that ended the Blackhawk captain's night early.

Canucks fans will bemoan the fact that the ensuing skirmish stopped play while the team was on a two-on-none fast break. Kris Versteeg was sent to the penalty box for roughing while avenging Toews' demise.

"It was a clean hit," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said after the game. "He didn't see (Mitchell) coming."

Vancouver ended up coming back to win 3-2. Toews, meanwhile, will be evaluated today.