Thursday, September 29, 2005

THE SHAM THAT IS THE NATIONAL LEAGUE PLAYOFFS

A while back I was speaking with Chris over the phone and we talked about the possibility of a team with a sub .500 record making the playoffs. He suggested it would never happen, I thought other wise. Well the San Diego Padres clinched the NL West last night with a solid 79-79 record. A .500 record with 4 games remaining in the season. Look for a .500 record or below, with the Padres resting players and lining up their pitching rotation. What a joke.

The Padres need to win 3 out of their last 4 games to assure themselves of finishing ahead of the '73 Mets as the division winner with the worst record. Coincidentally that '73 Mets team went on to the World Series losing to the Oakland A's.

Let's take a look at the records of tems in the NL...The Phillies, Nationals, Marlins, Mets, and possibly even the Brewers will start playing golf on Tuesday with a better record than the division winning Padres, who will likely be playing a best of 5 series against the Cards. What a sham. Great job Bud.

A player can be suspended for life for making a bet on a baseball game, even a game in which he has no part in. Certainly, before next season a player will also be suspended for up to 50 games for steroids. I think both punishments fit the crime, except for I would make steroids like gambling, if your busted once your gone for life. That's the best way to clean up the game. You get caught you are on the black list with Pete Rose. Plain and simple. Screw this 3 strikes and your out crapola, as far as I am concerned steroids affect the integrity of the game far more than gambling.

Why am I bringing this up, because in my opinion Bud Selig is as guilty as Pete Rose, Barroid Bonds, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro in ruining the integrity of the game. The game has no integrity anymore when a team can win their division and not even finish .500. It's a sham.

Who do we have to thank for this fiasco, Bud Selig and his division re-alignment. Watering down the divisions so much so that we have what we have now.

Personally I like the way they did it in the old days, two leagues and the team with the best record in the league represented his league in the World Series. I realize though that the owners like thier little cash raising playoffs, so divisional races are around. There has got to be a way of having honest penant races, playoffs, and a World Series without letting teams with a sub .500 record in. I also am not a big fan of the wild card, yeah it makes pennant races down the stretch, but what kind of pennant races. Races between sub par teams not even capable of winning their division, who cares.

Frankly I do not know what the solution is. I know what I would do if I was commisioner, but that way is not likely to get voted in. Personally I would just have 3 playoff teams, no wild card. With the team with the best record getting a bye in the first round while the other two played to see who will face off in the LCS. I think the bigger advantage should go to the team with the best record. As it is know the advantage goes to the team with the worse record as they have been playing meaningful games all along and are sharp. Also I would shift the first series to 7 games instead of 5. Watching the other two teams burn their pitching staffs while you sit and get healthy and your rotation all lined up would be a huge advantage. That way still does nothing to eliminate the sham playoff teams like the Padres though. I guess evening out the divisions would help as well. Why is their 6 teams in the NL Central with only 4 in the West? If their were 5 teams in each division it would decrease the likelihood of a team such as San Diego winning their division.

Anyway you look at it the playoffs this season in the NL is a sham because the 4 best teams in the NL are not playing.


Tuesday, September 27, 2005

I am beginning to wonder what has happened with my fellow bloggers. It seems I am a one man show here lately. Maybe I can change the name of the blog, but I think Chris might have a little something to say about that.

I really don't know what to talk about. The Cardinals have one more week off before they start the post season, hopefully they can do the difficult and turn momentum off then turn it back on when needed. The Bears, after that display on Sunday I think I would rather sit here and talk about the rate of which paint dries. I have found that paint will dry much faster in a room with a lot of natural light, just a tip for those do it yourselfers.

What to talk about, I know Illini basketball. I read in the paper that their practice schedule starts in two weeks, with the Midnight Madness on October 14th. It seems like just last night I sat there broken hearted watching the final seconds tick away in the Illini's loss to UNC. I really don't know what to expect from our Illini this year.

Dee Brown coming back certainly helps, and might have turned a down year into a year that we might be able to win a few games. James Augustine needs to step up and be huge this year. If that happens I think, once again we might be able to contend for the Big 10 title.

We also are bringing in Marcus Arnold into the fold this year. I remember Arnold from a few years ago when he was at Illinois State, he almost single handily defeated the Illini. Remember, that was the game where Deron Williams broke his jaw. Arnold is a solid player. I believe if he was able to play last season he might have made the difference in the Final against UNC. He has the size and ability to maybe atleast have slowed down Sean May, and May was the difference in that game.

I also expect big things from fellow Peorian Brian Randle, who is a solid defender, but needs to pick up the scoring a little.

Overall I think the Illini might be solid again this season. I don't see them being anywhere near as good as last season, but I think they can atleast be in the hunt for the Big 10. In the big dance anything can happen, and usually does.

I really don't know what to to think about Bruce Weber's recruiting ability. I think Chris and I disagree on this soemwhat. Weber's inability to land the blue chippers is frustrating, but I think it is more important to be a better x's and o's coach myself. Bill Self is an excellent recruiter, but blows as a coach. It appears Bruce Weber is a great coach but blows as a recruiter. Naturally you would prefer a coach to be great at both ala Coach K. However if you can take mediocre talent and coach them into winners, eventually you won't have to be that great of a recruiter because your programs winning ways will sell itself. If you win and do it consistently, blue chippers will be beating down the door to get to Illinois. Then you get the advantage of a great x's and o's coach with great talent, that's when you start winning National Championships.

The good news for me though is that come Illini season I will no longer be living in the middle of ACC country. Praise God, I will be back in P-town in the middle of Illini Nation. Go Illini.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Well since my fellow posters seem to have went on a month long hiatus, I reckon I will have to keep the blog alive with my daily ramblings. Unfortunately, the Cardinals have gone on their annual post clinching, pre-playoff vacation. Chris Carpenter probably pissed away his shot at the CY Young last night, giving up 9 earned runs in 5 plus innings. Albert has gone on a little cold spell as well, probably losing the MVP to Andruw Jones. Although I don't think either one of them were going to win anyway, given the media, just looking for any excuse to give it their newspaper selling boys on the east coast Willis and Jones.

So since the Cardinals ain't giving me anything to talk about, and the Cubs are not giving my fellow bloggers much more, lets talk football. When I say I want to talk football, that means I want to talk about the Bears. Or maybe make fun of the likes of the Packers or Viqueens.

It seems Vegas is hopping all over the Bears bandwagon, even though they are getting 3 points at home to the Bungals. What I mean is, before the season the Bears were 6-1 odds to win the NFC North, currently they are at 8-5, the lowest in the division. If I could have just had a look at the Queens and the Pack before the season started, I might have dropped a few bucks on the Bears to win the division.

It says a lot about the sorry state of the NFC North when the Bears, I repeat the Bears, are favored to win the division. Especially the Bears with a rookie QB. Apparently Vegas doesn't seem to remember the likes of these names. I wish I, like Vegas, could forget the likes of these guys...

Bob Avelini
Henry Burris
Chris Chandler
Jack Concannon
Bobby Douglas
Vince Evans
Doug Flutie
Steve Fuller
Will Furer
Jim Harbaugh
Chad Hutchinson
Craig Krenzel
Shane Matthews
Cade McNown
Jim Miller
Rick Mirer
Moses Moreno
Mike Phipps
Jonathan Quinn
Steve Stenstrom
Kordell Stewart
Mike Tomczak
Danny Weurfel
Peter Tom Willis

Just a few of the Hall of Shamers that have manned the QB position in Chicago in the past 20 years or so. Notice I put them in alphabetical order for easy reference. I also failed to mention the likes of Rex Glassman, because well has he really played any.

Yes we have a real QB legacy in Chicago. We've got big money free agents in that group (Stewart, Miller, Chandler). We got number one draft picks (Mirer, McNown, Harbaugh), we've even traded a number one pick for a guy on this list (Rick Mirer). We got two Heisman Trophy winners (Fluite, Weurfel). We got a couple of guys that couldn't cut it in the Major Leagues (Hutchinson, Douglas). What a legacy, so forgive me if I don't hop all over the Orton bandwagon.

Which brings me to tomorrows game. Since when do the Bungals get so much hype. I guess racking up 30 points a game against the likes of the Browns and Queens entitles Chad Johnson to talk trash. Somehow I don't think that 'Peanut' Tillman is that impressed. Considering he has spent the past 2 years covering the likes of Randy Moss, now he has to listen to Chad Johnson talk trash.

I am not sure if the Bears will win tomorrow or not, but I am not too impressed with the Bungals padding the stats against the Queens. Especially not enough to have them as a favorite, on the road, in Chicago. Given all the smack that's been talked, I looked for Peanut and Mike Brown to talk last.

At least I hope.

Friday, September 23, 2005

I just finished watching the Cubs beat the Astros, and I have a few thoughts on this game. Is Phil Garner a bigger idiot than Dustbag. It is pretty bad when you get out managed by Dusty, but Garner certainly did in this game. Especially in the critical and deciding 8th inning...

The Cubs replaced Weurtz (who had pitched 2 shut out innings) with Williamson. It was clear early on Williamson didn't have his good stuff giving up an early hit. Then with a runner on first and after the batters two attempt to sacrifice the runner to second failed Williamson helps the Astros cause by throwing a wild pitch allowing the runner to advance to second anyway. Although whether or not it was a wild pitch or a pass ball is debatable. After another infield single leaving runners on the corners with no outs, Garner apparently has a brain cramp. He dicides to sacrifice the runner at first over to second. Not a squeeze, just a straight sacrifice. I don't understand why a team that has as much trouble scoring as the 'stros, why you give up an out. Especially trailing late in the game, and with a runner already in scoring position.

The sacrifice works and leaves 2nd and 3rd with 1 out. Garner pinch hits Bagwell, and after Williamson nibbles the corners trying to get Bagwell to get himself out, he figures screw it and just drills him, loading the bases with 1 out.

A fielders choice to Lee, who forces the runner at third out at the plate, and a strike out left the 'stros without the tying run, after all that.

Then Garner pinch hits Lamb in the 9th with the tying run on. So he sends up Bagwell, a possible hall of famer, to hit knowing that he is likely to get walked, and blows his best bat off the bench. To have Lamb up with a chance to tie the game in the 9th. Way to go Garner.

I can hear my fellow posters saying "who gives a crap", well frankly I give a crap. As a Cardinals fans I would love to see the 'stros win the wildcard setting up our first round series with the Padres. With a 2 game lead in the wild card, Garner blows a game against the Cubs. Very frustrating.

I wonder who is winning the season series between the Cubs/Astros. I suppose double d will be on here running off at the mouth if the Cubs win the season series. Maybe the Cubs should get rings for winning the series against the Cards and Astros.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

FROM THE RED STATES

I love being back at home here in Peoria. Winston-Salem is a nice place, but it simply is not home. So to be home this week is trully a blessing. I am going to get to watch a Bears game with my dad for the first time in a few years. We also are going to go to the final game at Busch Stadium, next Sunday. I watched a Cardinals game tonight with the unbiased announcing of Al Hrabosky, who I love because he never fails to get a shot in on the Cubs and or their fans, and Dan McLaughlin.

Another reason I am glad to be home is to actually get some coverage on the Cardinals, and Bears. I love reading the papers from St. Louis and Chicago as well to keep up to date on what's going on. I stumbled upon this article from the Sun Times. You know, Mark Prior has all the ability in the world to become a dominant pitcher in the NL for alot of years, but I am beginning to think he really is not a very intelligent person. Listen to some of these quotes from the Sun Times today...

"We are in a unique situation in that when we are all healthy, we have three guys who probably could be number 1's for any other team."

"What's the gap between us and the Cardinals? It's a matter of staying healthy and getting a couple of key things that change the dynamics of our team. Then we'll be off and running."

Fundamentally, the Cardinals play good, and their defense is solid. But it's funny, everyone talks about their pitching staff [No. 1 in ERA in the league]. Look at thier numbers, and Carpenter is the only one. They don't have anything that's too bad, but they got middle of the road, average ERA's."

Well isn't that sweat of Mark prior to pay the team that beat his team by 20 games in the standings an off handed compliment.

"When all healthy we have three guys capable of being number 1's for any other team." Yeah Mark, that's an original argument, Cub fans and players have been beating that dead horse for 2 years now. Why can't you just compliment the Cardinals pitching staff for being solid pitchers. No you resort to the ol' "we got 3 aces, blah blah blah." Let's look at the facts, I am assuming one of those 3 is Kerry Wood, never won more than 14 games in what 8 or 9 seasons, even when healthy. Name the team he would be the ace for. I assume Carlos Zambrano is the other, and he gets ejected every other game, not ace material. Although I admit he does have that potential. I also assume he was refering to himself as the third "ace." Well Mark, before you start bashing our 4 "middle of the road ERA's", maybe you should get your ERA lower before you start running off at the mouth. Considering that of our 4 "middle of the road" guys 2 have ERA that's lower than yours, one pretty much the same, and one who's is higher.

"A matter of getting healthy and getting a couple of key things that change the dynamics of our team. Then we'll be off and running." Here we go with the injury excuses again. Have you checked the injury reports in St. Louis there Mark. "A couple of key things", yeah like GM, manager, better defensive players, better situational hitters, better baserunners, better bullpen, and starters that are atleast half as good as they and everyone thinks they are.

Mark Prior, this guy is some piece of work. He compliments our ability to do the little things to get runners in but at the same time bashing our pitching staff, and the club as a whole as not being that good. A simple congratulations for dominating us as well as the entire division yet again would suffice.

Basically what he was saying is that if the Cubs stay healthy and get a whole new team we will be better than the Cardinals. Pardon us Cardinal fans Mark, we don't particulary think that being compared to a team that finishes 20 games behind us 2 years in a row, as much of a compliment. Like I said earlier, maybe before you start running off at the mouth about some of our pitching staff, you should atleast get your ERA lower than those of the ones you bash. What a tool.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

WHO WERE THOSE GUYS, AND WHAT DID THEY DO WITH OUR BEARS

Was it me, or did it appear that the Bears actually looked like a legitimate threat to win something this year. The defense was stifling, the offense passable, and the special teams were excellent. Now I will grant you that it was the Lions, so let's not start recording the 2005 version of the Super Bowl Shuffle.

I must admit it is hard to type this post without thinking of the "flip flop" or the "John Kerry" jokes that might be headed my way. Especially since I bashed Chris for his same reactions during a recent Cubs winning streak. Especially since it was just about this time last week that I bashed everything and anyone that has anything to do with the Chicago Bears.

I will say this though, that as bad as the Bears are, it is scary to think that after the first two games, we are the best looking team thus far. The Packer offense looks absolutely hideous, maybe even worse than ours. The Viqueens are finding the offense a little more challenging now that they can't just chuck it up and hope it is a play that Randy Moss feels like playing. The Lions, well I think Sunday's performance brought them back down to earth. Dare I say it, but I think 8-8 might win this division. In fact I think maybe even, notice I said maybe even 7-9. This division is that bad. Clearly the worst in the league.

The question is can we finish 8-8. Looking at the other 3 hags in our division, wouldn't it be great to be able to count those 6 games as 6 easy wins. The way we used to be able to do in the mid 80's. The truth is though the Bears are inconsistent because of the youth at almost every position. Besides the O-line. The thing with young players is one week they look like the greatest players in the history of the NFL, the next week were ready to release every last one of them. So I fully expect a few more games like Sunday, but I also expect a few more like last week. The question I have is, in the key divisional games, can we save those great performances for those games. The divisional games will be the key, more than usual.

So to sum it all up in just a few words...the Bears looked good, but let's not start printing the Super Bowl tickets just yet. After all it was just the Lions.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Well it seems that the Cardinals have now sown up the NL Central Division title, although technically they just clinched a tie. There was a similar situation last season when we clinched a tie and had the tie breaker, but LaRussa did not let the boys celebrate until they won the next night and clinched it for real. Look for a similar situation today, hopefully. At least at some point this weekend at Wrigley Stadium.

I wonder, in the great history of the Cubs/Cards rivalry, if one has ever clinched on the other's home field. Since the Cubs history of clinching anything is rather slim, I don't ever remember them clinching anything at Busch. I can't say as I remember the Cards ever clinching at Wrigley either. Hopefully this day is coming, and hopefully it will be today.

You see Cub fans should take joy in the moment as well. It is an opportunity for you to witness a real organization, from the front office down to the players. It's a chance for you guys to witness the fruits of the hard work paying off. It's a chance for Cub fans to get to see someone celebrate in Wrigley Stadium, because there ain't been much to celebrate at Wrigley... well, since it's been built.
It might give you guys some sense of hope, that one day you too might be able to build an organization with such a winning tradition. In the great words of Jimmy Valvano, "never give up, don't ever give up."

There's always next year.



Well, it also seems that a special guest is going to take part in the festivities at Busch the final weekend of games for the old cookie cutter. Our good friend Mark McGwire. My hope is that he never sets foot in St. Louis ever again.

I have never really sounded off on Big Mac on this blog, until now. I liked McGwire as a player, but never really liked him as a person. When he signed his contract to play in St. Louis, the big deal he made over the ammount of money he donated to some abused children really rubbed me the wrong way. You see there is not much that I hate more that celebrities puffing up all the good things they do before the cameras. I despise that. That always rubbed me wrong about McGwire. Not to mention the fact that his sole job was to hit a bunch of HR's to cover up the fact that in general the Cardinals were lousy when he was here.

Don't get me wrong, I did enjoy watching the HR's, but we were always terrible the years he spent here.

Then his whole Congressional testimony deal was pathetic. First of all I believe McGwire used steroids, however I can't really prove that he did. Secondly, I have a little more respect for him (who at least refused to answer the questions about his steroid use) , than I do for Palmeiro (who flat out lied about them). Nevertheless, I feel McGwire as well as Palmeiro should have been forthwright with the use, and been honest about it.

To me McGwire is not a true Cardinal, and never was. I do not believe the Sammy/McGwire show of 1998 saved baseball. You see, real baseball fans always remained even after the strike of 1994. I did, in fact I went to the first game at Busch after the strike - me and like 1000 other people. They did however bring back the bandwagon fans who always run at the first sight of trouble, sort of like democrats.

McGwire should stay out of St. Louis this year, and hopefully the World Series Title will be in.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

"ONE NATION UNDER _______"

Well walking out the door, on my way to work this morning, I picked up my local newspaper. Normally I read only the sports page, but here lately I have found myself reading the front page. Why, I am not too sure, it's pretty much always the same. The world as we know it, is going to hell in a handbasket, and when I read the front page, or the editorials, I usually just end up getting angry at the foolishness of society as a whole. Today was no different.

I picked up the paper ignoring it until I got to work. I settled into my chair at my desk inside a little office. I flipped straight to the sports page like always, and since the Cardinals lost yesterday it was a fast read. The Cardinals, Bears, and Illini coverage here in Winston-Salem, NC is pretty slim.

So against my better judgement I picked up the front page. I read about the confirmation hearings of John Roberts, then flipped the page to see this headline, "Reciting the Pledge silenced anew." Sadly, I read the article.

It seems that our friendly, neighborhod atheists in California have sued to abolish the reading of the pledge because "under God violates school children's right to be free from a coercive requirement to affirm God."

That took me to memories of the 7th grade when my home room science teacher Mr. Shryock, would start each class period off with a moment of silence, and reciting the pledge of allegiance. Did I attend a private, Christian based school? Nope, I went to Loucks Middles School in Peoria, Illinois. A very public school.

I never really cared at the time, I was just a stupid 12 year old kid. It wasn't an organized prayer time, it was just a moment of silence, where we were allowed to pray. If you didn't want to pray, you just sat there and shut up for a moment. Then we recited the pledge.

It's funny how you remember some of the samllest things growing up. More on that later.

I also thought back to my high school days. My 3 years I played varsity football at Peoria Central High School, my Coach was Larry Lavery. I admired and respected Coach Lave a lot, he was instrumental in teaching me the value of hard work.

Before every game we would as a team kneel down and recite the Lord's Prayer - as I'm sure a lot of teams do. Did I feel it was a "coercive attempt to require me to affirm God?" No, I just thought it was a simple way of building team unity, and a prayer for the safety of players in a violent sport.

A few years ago while at a Central basketball game I happened to see Coach Lave and I asked him about that prayer. You see, at the time I didn't care about God, I believed He existed, but I didn't care one lick about him. Since then though I am a new person, born again. I asked Coach Lave about that, and told him that if someone had complained he might have gotten fired.

You know what his response was? He told me that he played or coached football for 45 years, in high school, college, and even playing a few seasons in the NFL. He told me he said the Lord's Prayer before every single game. Amazingly, in 45 years of football, he never was involved in any game where a player was seriously hurt. When I told him that if someone had complained he simply said "I don't give a damn, if they want me to Coach without praying asking God for the safety of those involved, then they will have to find a new coach."

So now it seems the pledge is under attack. "Under God" is a coercive attempt of the government to affirm God. You know, when I was a kid, I never felt any coersion, I was just a stupid kid. All I cared about was whether or not the Cardinals won yesterday, or what mom was cooking for supper. Looking back on it now though, I am glad that I had the opportunity to say the pledge. Thankful for the opportunity to live in a country where I get to go to school. Thankful to live in a country where there is always food for mom to cook. Thankful to live in a country that does (or at least did) "affirm the existence of God".

Furthermore, when I was 12 years old, the only rights I had were the right to behave in school or suffer the wrath of my dad. I had the right to respect my teachers, parents or once again suffer the wrath of my dad. I had the right to keep my room clean or any other chores necessary around the house. Allowance, I didn't get no stinking allowance, I did it because I was told to. Unless of course you consider supper that night allowance.


Today we now have kids with "rights," that sounds nice on the surface doesn't it? I mean after all who would infringe on the "rights" of a kid. Meanwhile we teach them that they are more important than everyone else, we teach them to look out for number #1. Guess what, when we teach kids these values, they become adults with those values. Make no mistake about it this is not just an attack on the pledge, it is an attack against the basic principles of morality established by God, that is inherently opposite to man.


Well I for one am proud to say that I am thankful for laws, I am thankful for some sense of morality. I am thankfull that God is indeed in control of things, regardless of whether or not Michael Newdow and his atheist buddies feel that they are coerced into it.

Well my question is, since "under God" can no longer by said in public schools in California, what should we change it too? What would make Michael Newdow and his buddies, who make up about 10% of the population who feel this is unconstitutional, what would please them? Heaven forbid we force our beliefs on Mr. Newdow, but then again I ask: whose views are being forced upon whom?

I've got an idea, I will throw out and see if you guys like it, how about "One Nation under Canada but above Mexico."

That's got a little ring to it, and geographically we are under Canada but above Mexico, well at least until the Mexican liberals decide that they are being looked upon as beneath Americans, and sue to have it changed again. I suppose nothing will make Mr. Newdow happy.

So I have a better idea, and if you're reading this and a member of the 10% who feel this is coersion, I suggest you quit reading because...

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

FROM THE RED STATES

Well, since the Cardinals magic number is down to 4 a clinch could come as early as Wednesday. Of course for that to happen the Cards will have to win their next two games and of course the Astros lose their next two. That might be the only thing to save an apparent celebration at Wrigley Field this weekend. What will Cub fans think of watching the Cards clinch the their 5th division in the past 6 years on their own home field. The second in a row in such dominating fashion.

On a further note I see where Albert Pujols has now caught Derrek Lee in Batting Average. He currently only trails in HR's by 2. Looks like not only will I not have to buy any tickets for me fellow posters, I may be spared from the Cub hat humiliation. Albert has been resting, only playing usually long enough to get 3 AB's. Last night he got the night off completely. That might help him in his quest for the batting title, but will certainly hurt him in the home run chase.

Look, let's just settle this right now, and you may call me a homer but it is clear that Albert Pujols is the NL MVP. I have heard alot of talk about Jones being more valuable to his team than Pujols, hog wash. I think Rob Neyer of ESPN Insider states it best, with a simple look at the facts...

Braves Team Leaders...
BA Marcus Giles .302
HR Andruw Jones 49
RBI Andruw Jones 118
R Marcus Giles 93
SB Rafeal Furcal 39
OPS Andruw Jones .950

Cardinals Team Leaders
BA Albert Pujols .338
HR Albert Pujols 39
RBI Albert Pujols 107
R Albert Pujols 116
SB Albert Pujols 14 Yes he even leads the team in SB's, and in fact is beating Jones in this stat as well 14-3.
OPS Albert Pujols 1.063

Now let me ask you this, who is more valuable to his team, a player leading his team in 3 of the most important offensive stats, or a player who leads in them all. Clearly if the standard is who is more valuable to his team Pujols win hands down. I f the standard is simply who has the best stats, Lee could stake claim as well as Pujols, because they both are near the top in just about everything. The fact Lee's team is so bad and the fact that Lee has come back down to earth the second half, hitting a more career like .290 since the ASB, hurts Lee's chances.

I gotta think it should be a combination of both, value to ones team, and over all stats. I don't think a player should be over looked simply because of the results of his team. However, I will add that a player on a bad team really has to set himself apart from the rest of the league, or he has to do something that no one else is doing. Lee as solid as his year has been hasn't really done anything more exceptional than Pujols. In other words if all things are pretty much equal, I give it to the player on the best team. It is clear that I think the Cubs could have managed to finish in 4th place with or without Derrek Lee. As good a year as he has had, he hasn't "set him self apart".

When you look at the over all stats, and value to his team Albert Pujols is the best player on the best team, and should hands down win the MVP.

Monday, September 12, 2005

A Little Laugh

Well since we already know that Bears Head Coach Lovie Smith is a regular reader of the Northsidereport, here's my second letter addressed to Coach Smith.

Dear Coach Smith,

As I already stated to you in my previous letter, I really like you as a Head Coach, and support you 100%. However that having been said, there are some things with your coaching style that I must give some advice on. It is with your demeanor on the sideline. When 3 of your few veteran players on your offensive line commit 3 false start penalties on 3 consecutive plays, it's time to raise hell.

Your laid back coaching philosophy on the sidelines paints us Bears fans a scary picture, a picture of your predecessors Dick Jauron, and Dave Wannstedt. Jauronstedt would sit over there and when things were going down hill and fast, they would look like they wasn't a care in the world. After the aforementioned fiasco of 3 false starts in a row, I was in a public sports bar watching the game, and screaming at the TV like a madman. Only to see a shot of you on TV like you were taking a walk in the park on a Sunday afternoon. That sir, brought back real scary memories of Jauronstedt.

I will grant you, it is not really productive to be on the other extreme either, like a Tom Coughlin, who fines players for being late, when they are actually 5 minutes early. Or often bashes them in the media. I fully understand the need of psychology in coaching, that all 53 players are different mentally so that means you act differently in getting your points across. I will say this, if it had been rookies committing 3 consecutive false starts, that's one thing. But these were 3 veterans, leaders of the unit. I think it was time to raise some hell. Cus, scream, throw a clipboard, threaten to release the whole lot of 'em.

I have never heard one player complaint of your coaching style, but if you continue in this Jauronstedt coaching style, it will get worse, we fans will start complaining. Good luck, and looking forward to seeing the improvements next week against the Lions.

You fans at the Northsidereport

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Well, it's official, you know that post I just made about the Bears the other day, fuhgetabottit, no way were going 8-8, with what I saw today. In fact I say it's no way we will win 7 games. This offense is absolutely attrocious.

We may have added Muhsin Muhhammad, Cedric Benson, Mark Bradley, but the one thing we didn't do was rebuild our offensive line. This is without a doubt the worst offensive line in football. Case in point, driving in Redskins territory, almost in position for a field goal to take the lead, and 3 consecutive false starts, then they give up a sack. Not to mention giving up a sack on the final and decisive drive. Not only was it the lack of pass protection down the stretch, but the run blocking was pathetic as well. Thomas Jones, Cedric Benson, dare I say even the late great Sweetness would have his hands full gaining any yards with these bozos.

I want you to think back to last season and what happened with our offensive line. Look who we have added. All we did was slide the over paid "Jerry's Kid" free agent John Tait from right tackle to left tackle. Dare I ask, what in the @#$% are you doing sliding a pitiful right tackle over to the more crucial left tackle position. All done so we could make room for our only addition to the real need of this team in the off season, Fred Miller. Hardly an upgrade.

Listen, don't think I am just venting after a tough loss. I have been saying this all off season. I said before draft day we needed to upgrade the line, Jerry failed. He added Fred Miller. Usually when I think upgrade, I'm thinking younger and talented. Not older, slower and past your prime. This line is a joke.

Even in the midst of the line play I though Kyle did ok. He had the one interception, but for the most part was well like a rookie QB, making his first start, against one of the leagues better defenses. The fact of the matter is you have to score points on offense to win, and I don't care if we added Dan Marino, and Jerry Rice, with this line there is no way we will score enough points to win. It's that simple.

I am so ticked off right now, because I can see the results of this season being remarkably similar to last season. A defense that keeps us in games at the start of the year, then after the offense continually blows, that defense starts to wear down. Then after the wearing down we'll start to see the injuries again. Then it just snowballs and it looks like were once again in line for a top 5 pick for Jerry Angelo to blow on another "playmaker" on offense.

GET A FREAKING CLUE JERRY, "PLAYMAKER'S" ARE NOT JUST NECESSARILY PEOPLE THAT HAVE THEIR HANDS ON THE BALL. WE NEED 'PLAYMAKERS' ON THE O-LINE.

I say to hell with it, these bums are obviously no good, considering this is the same bozos we had last year. I don't know how much were paying these idiots but if it's anymore than 5$ an hour were getting screwed. Keep Olin Kruetz and flat out release the rest of these guys. Sometimes you got to just start all over from scratch.

Jerry Angelo took a 13-3 playoff team, tore it apart, and started from scratch 4 years ago. Why is it taking him so long to figure out these guys blow. Were in for a long season, what else is new.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Charlie Weis & a Guy Named Brady...



No, not Tom Brady - Brady Quinn. The kid who just led the Irish to a 17-10 victory over #3 Michigan at the big house in a game that wasn't as close as the final score indicated.

While the Irish offense was impressive (the opening drive was once again reminiscent of the Patriot offenses that Weis managed in New England) - it was the defense that was surprising and probably the most important component of the victory (apart from the always important turnovers, of course).

The Irish defense controlled the line of scrimmage and took away the Michigan running game from the get-go (while they had a few big break-away runs, for the most part Michigan was generally frustrated when they tried the run), which forced them to rely almost completely on the pass attack throughout the game (and Henne couldn't get anything going on this front either).

On the other side of the ball, the Irish had a balanced offensive attack (140 yards passing/107 rushing), and were as comfortable on the run as they were in the pass. Darius Walker is a creative runner (although one wishes that at times he would quit trying to be too creative and just run for forward progress) who is a significant improvement over Ryan Grant from last year.

If these first 2 games are any indication, this balanced Irish offensive attack will give opposing defenses fits this year.

One final note on the game: Even though the Big Ten refs were trying their best to gift wrap the game for Michigan with 2 terrible calls toward the end of the game (the first - a Michigan fumble at the goal line that wasn't called by the refs on the field, and the second - a called fumble against ND), the replays reversed both calls and kept the playing field even on 2 critical turnover calls in Notre Dame territory.

While the season is far from over, one wonders whether this season will be just as much of an indictment of Ty Willingham as it will serve as a validation of Charlie Weis.

Regardless of the final verdict pronounced on Willingham though, it appears that Weis is one hell of a coach.

I have been a ND fan since I was a kid, and I've been going to home games since the 1st grade since my dad gets tickets to all of the home games every year and he graciously gives me at least 2 tickets every year (as of this writing I have 2 tickets to the Tennessee and BYU games this year).

Even so, I'm a realist and I fully expected Notre Dame to lose this game - especially after Pitt got beat by Ohio yesterday (which called into question the quality of the Irish victory against Pitt last week) and especially because Michigan is notoriously difficult to beat at home.

Nevertheless, this was one quality win that should catapult Notre Dame into the top ten.

We'll just have to wait to see how the polls turn out Sunday evening.

I love football season.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Well I don't know about any of my fellow posters but I for one am on pins and needles in anticipation of this weekends upcoming Skanks and Red Sux series. I'm looking forward to it. Did I also mention I am also looking forward to my first prostate exam. I figure I hit the big 3-0 this year so I better go let the doctor shove his finger up my bum, in search of what I don't really know. Maybe he will be able to find my remote control, because I ain't seen it in two weeks. Maybe that would explain why every time I pass gas the channel changes.

Yeah the Skanks and the Red Sux, the baseball world awaits eagerly. Just like when we were in high school and watched the two rich kids get in a fight over who's daddy bought them the better SUV. I don't know about you, but I always wanted to jump in and beat the #$%@ of them both.

Yeah looking forward to that Skanks and Red Sux series. I also can't wait for the Dr. Phil marathon on the Lifetime channel either.

I guess you could say here in North Carolina I can forget about seeing any Cardinals highlights this weekend. Because in case you haven't figured it out were all just pawns in the baseball world.

FROM THE RED STATES

Well for those Cub fans that are not up to date on last nights action, the game in St. Louis was a perfect picture why this year the MVP, and Cy Young should go to team mates. I am not too sure when the last time this has happened, but in all rights it should happen this year in the NL. Now, I will be the first to say, it probably won't, in fact I would almost be willing to bet that neither of them get the awards they deserve. After the MVP votes of the past 4 years, especially in 2003, when Bonds beat out Albert Pujols despite a batting average 20 points lower, 40 fewer RBI's, and 20 less R, everyone knows it is a popularity contest, and the likes of ESPN are slurping the current flavor's of the month.

In case you didn't catch the highlight's it was basically a two man show for the Cardinals. carpenter pitching 7 innings of shutout ball, only being removed because it is time to start resting that arm because we got bigger fish to fry right now. Team mate Albert Pujols blasting his 38th, and 39th HR's of the season. Also raising his average to a whopping .338.

Carpenter will likely lose the Cy Young award to Roger Clemens, despite leading him in every pitching category besides ERA. I will grant the point that the CY is not just a W's stat, however it is not just an ERA title either. It is a award for the best and most complete pitcher in the NL. It is true W's are a measure of a team success for any pitcher, but I don't think they are something to just be discarded and not even considered at all. After all W's are how we keep the standings, and it is a barometer of a pitcher doing his ultimate job, and that is keeping his team in the game, long enough. Do you realize that it is likely that Carpenter will finish with twice as many W's as Clemens. Currently they are at 21 for Carp and 11 for Clemens. That's not something to just be thrown aside.

What Clemes has done as far as ERA this year is nothing short of amazing. It is legendary. However Carpenter is doing some pretty "legendary" things himself. Consider these points...Carpenter is the first pitcher since the dead ball era (1920) to go 16 consecutive starts with atleast 7 innings pitched in each start, while not allowing more than 3 ER, in any start. He is the first since Bob Gibson in 1968 to go more than 6 innings, and not allow more than 3 ER in 16 consecutive starts. Over his last 16 starts Carpenter is 13-0 with an ERA of 1.36. Winning two head to head games over Clemens, not to mention besting Oswalt, Pettitte, and AJ Burnett.

Look at the numbers Carpenter 21-4, 2.21 ERA, 29 G, 7 CG, 4 SHO, 220 IP, 168 H, 54 ER, 45 BB, 198 K's. Clemens 11-6, 1.57 ERA, 28 G, 1 CG (an 8 inning loss), 0 SHO, 189.1 IP, 124 H, 33 ER, 51 BB, 169 K's.

I think the glaring differences are in the ammount of innings pitched, CG, SHO. Carp has thrown 31 more innings and still has an ERA of 2.21.

I don't think I even need to discuss Pujols numbers, they speak for themselves. If the MVP voters vote for a guy hitting .270 then I will no longer put any credibility into the MVP. It will be a farce and a sham. However I suspect that is exactly what's going to happen. As much as ESPN is slurping Andruw Jones right now. He has 5 more HR's than Albert, and 7 more RBI's, everything else is not even close. But Andruw Jones seems to be the current flavor of the month.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Does anyone take this MorAn seriously?

This is, without a doubt, one of the funniest pictures and stories I have seen this year:




Movie star and political activist Penn, 45, was in the collapsing city to aid stranded victims of flooding sparked by Hurricane Katrina, but the small boat he was piloting to launch a rescue attempt sprang a leak.

The outspoken actor had planned to rescue children waylaid by the deadly waters, but apparently forgot to plug a hole in the bottom of the vessel, which began taking water within seconds of its launch.

When the boat's motor failed to start, those aboard were forced to use paddles to propel themselves down the flooded New Orleans street.

Asked what he had hoped to achieve in the waterlogged city, the actor replied: "Whatever I can do to help."

with the boat loaded with members of the Oscar-winner's entourage, including his personal photographer, one bystander taunted: "How are you going to get any people in that thing?" [emphasis added]


This idiot should have been forever typecast after he played the role of the half-wit in We're No Angels since he plays the part so naturally (and this is apparently exactly what the Producers of I am Sam were thinking as well).

In any event - how funny is this: Penn's boat was so loaded with his entourage (including his personal photographer - wouldn't want to miss Penn retrieving "snowball" and returning it to that heartbroken kid) that someone wondered how he'd actually be able to rescue anyone with his boat.

With liberals it's all about appearance over substance anyway - but I am thankful for them because they certainly provide many of us with considerable fodder for amusement.

And no this isn't about the Cubs, but what do you expect from me?! with the Cubs in the dumper and the season series with the Cardinals clinched with the victory last night (big whoop!) there's nothing else for me to blog about.

If you want baseball insights from this blog, you'll have to wait for Randy to post his next installment.

ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL

Because I know that I sure am. I absolutely love football, almost as much as I love baseball. Well I guess they are about equal. Baseball is a little different because they play every day, but football you have to wait a week, and the excitement builds up all week. Then the Bears kick off, and about 5 minutes into the game, and three 3 and outs later I'm taking my traditional Sunday after church nap.

This year will be different though. This might be the year the Bears put a few things together and do something. I by no means am predicting a Super Bowl, but I don't think it is a stretch to say the Bears will make the playoffs this year.

The Bears have one of the leagues best defenses. There were pretty good last year with an injured Brian Urlacher, Mike Brown, Charles Tillman, and Adewale Ogunleye. All sytems are go, all are healthy. A second year for Tommie Harris, who FOX Sports predicts is on his way to being a star. Alex Brown is a pretty decent pass rusher and will get only better the more attention that's paid to Ogunleye, and Harris. I really Like Lance Briggs as well, who led the team in tackles last year. Not to mention solid players like Vasher, who will get better in his second season, and Hillenmeyer, who is no star but very solid. I really think this might be the best Bears defense since 1985.

The offense on the other hands is another story, especially being placed in the hands of rookie QB Kyle Orton. I think the key will be his ability to manage a game. Play within his ability, and just don't turn the ball over. Of course it goes without saying that will be easier said than done. I am pretty confident in our ability to run the ball. Thomas Jones is a pretty soild RB, and being backed up by Adrian Peterson and Cedric Ben$on.

My biggest worry is the O-line. I think controlling the line of schrimmage is the key to winning football games. I am very confident we will be able to control the line on D, offensively though I have my doubts. We added Fred Miller that's about the only difference in the line from last season, and I think it is no secret our line was pathetic. The best way to ease the pressure on a rookie QB is with a solid running game, and time to throw. I'm nervous about the line. I think we got RB's capable if given half a chance by our line. Not to mention Muhsin Muhhammed will get open against anyone, of course assuming Kyle Orton is not running for his life every time we set up to pass.

I think if we can score 2 TD's a game we'll be ok. That's all we need. Our ballhawking D will probably get us TO's adding atleast a field goal or two a game, if not more.

Special teams are also a big concern. Let me get this straight, we got sick of Paul Edinger missing field goals so we added the dude from the Jets who choked two field goals away for the Jets in the playoffs last year. That's scary. Not to mention his kick offs are pathetic. What is it with the Bears and their inability to kick the daggone ball deep. I played line in high school, but I also kicked, and I had many touchbacks as a high school kicker, for crying out loud quit kicking the ball to the 20. Kickers are a dime a dozen, if you can't kick the ball atleast to the 5, that's pretty pathetic. Maynard is a solid punter, and sadly enough was probably our offensive MVP last season. Azumah should be back to returning kicks, and he did a nice job in '03, making the Pro Bowl. Doug Brien though, he scares me. We are gonna be in a lot of close games and can't afford to lose any games because of some freaking kicker choking.

If you look at our schedule, we open up against the Skins on Sunday, then at home against the Lions and Bengals, and back on the road against the Browns. All 4 games I think the Bears are sure capable of winning. It gets tough in Week 5 with the Viqueens, but as bad as we have been the last few seasons, we have still managed to beat them. The Ravens at home in week 6, a tough game for any team. Then back on the road for two weeks, but for 2 games we could also win, @ Lions, and @ Saints. Then the 49ers at home, another game thats winnable. The next 2 games will be tough @ Tampa, and at home against Carolina. The real tough part of the schedule unfortunately comes down the stretch playing both Packer games, @Pittsburgh, Atlanta at home, and ending the season on the road against the Viqueens.

Looking at the schedule if we can go 3-1 the first 4 games. You gotta figure were gonna lose to the Ravens, but I think we might beat the Viqueens at home. That would make us 4-2 through week 6. Three games against the Lions, Saint, and Niners, we gotta win 2 of those 3. If we do were 6-3 heading into Tampa and Carolina. I figure were gonna lose both of those, but it wouldn't surprise me to beat Tampa, but conservatively thinking we'll lose both. So were 6-5 after week 11. With the 5 toughest games left. That's real scary because the only real likely win will come against Green Bay at home, but if we can dig up another W in that 5, then that makes us 8-8, and in the NFC that might be good enough to get us in the playoffs.

However, we are talking about the Bears, so it wouldn't be a shock to see Orton hurt Sunday and out for the season. Followed by injuries to Urlacher, and Brown. Then Blake gets hurt in week 4 and were begging for Hutchinson to come back, or stuck with Kittner. Then the McCaskey family praises Jerry Angelo and how he handled two seasons with serious injuries and they give him a 10 year contract extension. We play bad enough to get the over all number one pick and use it draft a punter from the Manhattan School of Typewriter Maintenance.

FROM THE RED STATES

Well, since the Cubs have now clinched atleast a tie in the season series with the Cardinals, with an 8-4 record and 4 games left at Wrigley Stadium, there is nothing to really watch for the rest of the season. There are a few things I am interested in though.

First is homefield advantage for the playoffs. The Cardinals are in pretty decent shape with that, a 7 game lead over the Atlanta Braves. Second the MVP and CY Young Awards. I think both Albert Pujols and Chris Carpenter are deserving, but I suspect the voters will once again vote for the current flavor of the month Andruw Jones, and HOF'er Roger Clemens. I am more confident in Carpenter winning the CY than I am with Pujols. Everyone seems to be slurping all over Jones right now especially ESPN, despite his batting average 60 points lower than Albert, and of course Albert leads him in everything else except for HR's and RBI's. Case in point, the other night Pujols hits a 3 run homer to beat the Cubs. Wanting to see the highlights of it I turned on Baseball Tonight and had to sit through3/4 of the show before they got around to mentioning Pujols' heroics. The next night Andruw Jones does the same thing against the Mets and it leads off both Baseball Tonight and Sportscenter. Just an example of the bias against teams from the midwest by ESPN, or the Eastcoast Sports Production Network.

As many of our regular readers will recall in May I believe it was, responding to fellow poster Camden's claim that Lee was better than Pujols I posted that Lee was in fact a one year wonder meanwhile Pujols has been doing these amazing things on the baseball field for 5 years now. In that same post I stated that if Lee won the Triple Crown I would buy 2 tickets to any Cubs game for my fellow posters. Well it looks like I am in pretty decent shape to not have to break out the ol' credit card and fork over two tickets. However, at that time Lee was hitting roughly 60-70 points higher than Pujols and I said that if Lee beat Pujols in any of the jewels of the triple crown, I would wear a Cubs hat at church, the next time I am home, to be humiliated in front of all my friends, especially fellow poster Chris. Well since that post Albert is hitting roughly the same, and as predicted Lee has come back down to earth dropping down to just a 17 point lead. Lee also leads by 3 HR's, but Albert has taken over the lead in RBI's. So with the race in the Central Division all but in the bag, and unfortunately so is the season series between the Cubs and Cardinals thats what I'm left to watch.

On a note from my post from yesterday, there is also another reason I am not too optimistic about the Cardinals chances in the playoffs, and that is history. Not the history of the Cardinals as an organization, but my personal history of heartbreak when it comes to watching my teams in their respective post seasons.

You see Cub fans around the world often feel heartbreak watching their team lose every year. To this I say you should count your many blessing, because the grass ain't always greener on the other side. I live and die with 3 teams, of course the Cardinals during baseball season, the Bears during football season, and the Fighting Illini during basketball season. Let's take a look and the history of those teams in my lifetime.

The Cardinals have been to the playoffs 8 times in my life, losing 7 of those 8 trips. Winning it all only once in 1982 when I was 7 years old. They have also had some pretty memorable collapses, blowing a 3-1 lead in the '85 World Series against the Royals, with the help of Cardinal Nations favortie goat Don Denkinger (still the only time I have ever heard of an umpire or refereee admit they were wrong on a call and apologize for it). Doing the same against the Braves in the '96 NLCS.

The Illini have made the Final Four twice in my lifetime in 1989 of course, losing in the semi-finals against a Michigan team that had defeated handily twice that season. And of course this year coming so close with a Luther Head three pointer that would have given them the lead with less than a minute to play. Illinois has also pretty much made the NCAA Tournament every year I can remember, there were a few years of no NCAA Tournament, but for the most part they are a regular player in March Madness. Yet still have not given me anything but heartbreak.

The Bears were always good when I was younger making the playoffs in '84-88. Of course winning the Super Bowl in 1985. They missed a year in '89, but were right back for more the next 3 years.

So doing the math that is 17 trips to the postseason from one of my teams, and my history shows only winning it all twice. Thats not even counting the many trips Illinois has been to the NCAA Tournament only to lose in the first round to such solid program as Austin Peay, Tennessee Chattanooga. I just counted their two trips to the Final Four. That's a sad and shameful history I have watching my teams in the playoffs.

My point is Cub fans should consider themselves lucky to be out of the race so early. As a Bears fan the past decade I know what it's like to see your team totally suck and have no chance at winning anything, and that is far less painful than watching and rooting them on, having them get your hopes up thinking this might be the year, only to have your hopes crushed right before your eyes. So knowing that 17 trips to the playoffs has only resulted in 2 titles, track record says that the Cardinals this season will break my heart yet again.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

I couldn't have said it better myself...

Op-Ed from the UK's Daily Telegraph:

The Big Easy rocked, but didn't roll
By Mark Steyn
(Filed: 06/09/2005)


Readers may recall my words from a week ago on the approaching Katrina: "We relish the opportunity to rise to the occasion. And on the whole we do. Oh, to be sure, there are always folks who panic or loot. But most people don't, and many are capable of extraordinary acts of hastily improvised heroism."

What the hell was I thinking? I should be fired for that. Well, someone should be fired. I say that in the spirit of the Mayor of New Orleans, Ray Nagin, the Anti-Giuliani, a Mayor Culpa who always knows where to point the finger.

For some reason, I failed to consider the possibility that the panickers would include Hizzoner the Mayor and the looters would include significant numbers of the police department, though in fairness I wasn't the only one. As General Blum said at Saturday's Defence Department briefing: "No one anticipated the disintegration or the erosion of the civilian police force in New Orleans."

Indeed, they eroded faster than the levees. Several hundred cops are reported to have walked off the job. To give the city credit, it has a lovely "Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan" for hurricanes. The only flaw in the plan is that the person charged with putting it into effect is the mayor. And he didn't.

But I don't want to blame any single figure: the anti-Bush crowd have that act pretty much sewn up. I'd say New Orleans's political failure is symptomatic of a broader failure.

I got an e-mail over the weekend from a US Army surgeon just back in Afghanistan after his wedding. Changing planes in Kuwait for the final leg to Bagram and confronted by yet another charity box for Katrina relief, he decided that this time he'd pass. "I'd had it up to here," he wrote, "with the passivity, the whining, and the when-are-they-going-to-do-something blame game."

Let it be said that no one should die in a 100F windowless attic because he fled upstairs when the flood waters rose and now can't get out. But, in his general characterisation of "the Big Easy", my correspondent is not wrong. The point is, what are you like when it's not so easy?

Congressman Billy Tauzin once said of his state: "One half of Louisiana is under water and the other half is under indictment." Last week, four fifths of New Orleans was under water and the other four fifths should be under indictment - which is the kind of arithmetic the state's deeply entrenched kleptocrat political culture will have no trouble making add up.

Consider the signature image of the flood: an aerial shot of 255 school buses neatly parked at one city lot, their fuel tanks leaking gasoline into the urban lake. An enterprising blogger, Bryan Preston, worked out that each bus had 66 seats, which meant that the vehicles at just that one lot could have ferried out 16,830 people. Instead of entrusting its most vulnerable citizens to the gang-infested faecal hell of the Superdome, New Orleans had more than enough municipal transport on hand to have got almost everyone out in a couple of runs last Sunday.

Why didn't they? Well, the mayor didn't give the order. OK, but how about school board officials, or the fellows with the public schools transportation department, or the guy who runs that motor pool, or the individual bus drivers? If it ever occurred to any of them that these were potentially useful evacuation assets, they kept it to themselves.

So the first school bus to escape New Orleans and make it to safety in Texas was one that had been abandoned on a city street. A party of sodden citizens, ranging from the elderly to an eight-day-old baby, were desperate to get out, hopped aboard and got teenager Jabbor Gibson to drive them 13 hours non-stop to Houston. He'd never driven a bus before, and the authorities back in New Orleans may yet prosecute him. For rescuing people without a permit?

My mistake was to think that the citizenry of the Big Easy would rise to the great rallying cry of Todd Beamer: "Are you ready, guys? Let's roll!" Instead, the spirit of the week was summed up by a gentleman called Mike Franklin, taking time out of his hectic schedule of looting to speak to the Associated Press: "People who are oppressed all their lives, man, it's an opportunity to get back at society."

Unlike 9/11, when the cult of victimhood was temporarily suspended in honour of the many real, actual victims under the rubble, in New Orleans everyone claimed the mantle of victim, from the incompetent mayor to the "oppressed" guys wading through the water with new DVD players under each arm.

Welfare culture is bad not just because, as in Europe, it's bankrupting the state, but because it enfeebles the citizenry, it erodes self-reliance and resourcefulness.

New Orleans is a party town in the middle of a welfare swamp and, like many parties, it doesn't look so good when someone puts the lights up. I'll always be grateful to a burg that gave us Louis Armstrong and Louis Prima, and I'll always love Satch's great record of Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans? But, after this last week, I'm not sure I would.

FROM THE RED STATES

Well enougyh joking around about the Cubs Fan Anonymous post from yesterday. Although I do think anyone who would knowingly and willingly subject themselves to the futility of being a Cubs fan definately has something wrong. But enough about that, some serious talk about baseball. I talked to Chris yesterday and he suggested I post my thoughts on the Cardinals and their chances in the post season. I found this rather strange coming from a die hard Cub fan. However, he said he would be interested in my thoughts and felt others would be too. So here goes.

Last nights Cubs/Cardinals game was a pathetic display by the Cardinals, and a perfect example of why I think the Cardinals are doomed come playoff time. Sure I will be watching and rooting, praying that I am wrong, but I'm not too optimistic of the Cards chances. First of all I would be wrong to make excuse for their performance last night, tip your hat to Rusch, he pitched a great game. Last night was just a perfect example of our ineptness at hitting left handed pitching. We have struggled most of the season against lefties, and not just dominant lefties like Willis, or Randy Johnson. We have also struggled against the likes of Tom Glavine, David Wells, Eric Milton, and now the before mentioned Glendon Rusch. These southpaws are hardly what I would call dominant.

My feeling is that the team with the most dominant pitching staff usually wins a playoff series, especially those short 5 game series' in the first round. Looking at the Cardinals pitching staff we have only one truly dominant pitcher that I feel comfortable with come playoff time, Chris Carpenter. Mulder has been good at times but also has been horrific at times as well. Mulder is a real jekyll and hide pitcher. Matt Morris is starting to revert back to the Matt Morris of last season, giving up gopher balls left and right. That leaves Jeff Suppan and Jason Marquis, not what I would call dominant. Although Suppan was probably our best pitcher last post season, but I still don't think Suppan would strike fear in the eyes of any playoff team. Marquis has pitched back to back CG's but before that went like 0-7 over his last two months. As far as the bullpen, Interestinghausen has really struggled lately as has King and Tavarez. It is scary to think that lately our best pitchers out of the pen has ben Al Reyes and Brad Thompson, harldy a playoff tested bullpen.

As for the lineup, well lately our offense has been Albert Pujols and a cloud of dust. Edmonds has put up ok numbers but far from his normal production. Sanders is expected back any day now, but how long will it take him to get back in to game shape. Larry Walker, well who in the world knows with this guy. Our bench is very capable and they are the main reason we are where we are in the standings. The performances of Nunez, Mabry, and Taguchi have been amazing and I feel totally comfortable with them heading down the stretch and into the playoffs. They are bench players though, and my hope is that that is exactly where they will do their damage, coming off the bench. Except for Nunez, who is the regular third baseman due to the loss of Rolen.

I think it is imperative for the Cardinals that Houston wins the Wild Card. That has us matched up with most likely San Diego in the Divisional Series. They are capable of beating anyone with the likes of Peavy and Eaton, and makes one wonder what in the world are they doing floundering at or below .500. However thay are a .500 team and I would easily expect the Crads to win that series in 3 maybe 4 games. That would take us to the NLCS against either Houston or Atlanta. My gut seems to think it would be Houston given the history of the Braves history of choking come playoff time. Either team would be tough for the cardinals to beat. We have dominated Houston all season, but the like of Clemens, Oswalt, and a healthy Andy Pettitte, would be a challenge in a 7 game series. The Braves would be equally difficult with Smoltz, Hudson, and especially if Hampton can return as he has killed the Cardinals over the years.

If Houston does not win the Wild Card, then I think were are definately in trouble in the first round. Probably facing either the Marlins and their trio of Beckett, Burnett, and Willis in a 5 game series. We would be trying to do something no team has yet to do, and that is beat Florida in a playoff series. Or most likely the Phillies who have owned us the past couple of years. Needless to say, I as well as most of cardinal Nation is praying for Houston to win the Wild Card.

For the Cardinals to win the World Series I think it is gonna take a few things to happen. One, I think Jim Edmonds has to get hot. He is a very streaky hitter, which is a good thing if he is hot, but it is terrible news if he is not. I feel totally confident that we will get good production from Pujols, .330 or so, 4 or 5 HR's, and 15-20 RBI's, and score a bunch of runs. However if Edmonds is in one of his ridiculous slumps, we can expect Albert to see his share of walks, being pitched aroujnd, especially in RBI situations. If Edmonds is hot it is far less likely a team will pitch around Albert. It is a must for Edmonds to get hot.

Secondly, we need the Mark Mulder we have been getting the past few starts. Carpenter will be Carpenter, but we need Mark Mulder to step up and pitch the way he has been latley. If we get the Mulder of June and July were in trouble. It would also be nice if we got surprise solid pitching from 2 of the remaining 3 (Morris, Suppan, and Marquis). Thats asking alot for 2, I think most likely we would be lucky to get 1 of those guysto step up. That's why Mulder needs to pitch well.

Third, we need the bullpen to get back to being as solid as they were early in the season. A solid bullpen is important in a playoff series. We need guys with defined roles, and executing their opportunities in those roles. We need King to be able to come in and get those tough leftt handed hittiers out late in the game. we need Reyes, Thompson, and Tavarez getting outs in the 7th and 8th innings. And of course Izzy in the 9th.

Lastly, but probably most importantly we need an unsung hero to step up big. I like to think David Eckstein is the prime candidate for this role. Given his track record in the playoffs with the Angels. He has got a World Series ring. However, maybe it would be a Mark Grudzielanek, or a Yadier Molina, or Abraham Nunez. Someone else has to contribute huge.

All these are huge question marks, questions I suppose any playoff team will have. Who will get all these questions answered, well it's a crap shoot. That's why the playoffs are as exciting as they are.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

FROM THE RED STATES

Well since the Cubs season is officially in the "wait til next year" mode. I am going to start a little group for you Cub fans to recover. I am going to call it Cub's Fan Anonymous. I am going to have coffee and stale donuts to pass out. Please bring a dollar or two to contribute for the coffee and the stale donuts.

This is a support group, so sharing with each other is encouraged but not required. The staff here at Cubs Fan Anonymous feel that sharing with people who suffer from the same disease is the best way to recover.

We also offer free gifts for those that sign up right now. We are offering a free 10 second video with the past 100 years of Cub highlights. That's right guys the greatest highlights from the past 100 years of historic Cubs baseball all compiled into one 10 second video.

But wait, there's more! If you sign up today along with the video we have another free gift for you. The great piece of American Literature that any baseball fan should read "Tips To Managing Winning Baseball" by Lee Elia. That's right Cub fans, for signing up today you will recieve the video and the book, a .39 cent value absolutely free. Just for registering today.

The pamphlet I have written is still at the copiers so I will post the 12 steps to recovering from your illness, so you can begin reading and thinkinhg about it immediately.

The 12 Steps to Recovery...

1) Admit that you are powerless over the Cubs winning the World Series in your lifetime.
2) Believe that giving up hope of the Cubs ever winning the World Series can restore you to your sanity.
3) Make a decision to leave the Cubs, one day at a time.
4) Take an inventory of all the suffering that has befallen you as a Cub fan. Since you have probably blocked that out of your memory, let me help you. Some of the great moments in Cubs history...
a. The classic choke job in 1969.
b. Lou Brock for Ernie Broglio
c. The black hole decade that was the 70's.
d. Blowing a 2-0 lead in the best of 5 NLCS against the Padres in 1984.
e. Watching greg Maddux leave Chicago, only to return pitching for the Braves against the
Cubs in the 1998 NLDS.
f. Blowing a 3-1 lead in the best of 7 NLCS against the Marlins in 2003. Especially since the
last 2 games were at home with Mark Prior and Kerry Wood. Being 5 outs from the
World Series, blowing the game and blaming it all on fellow addict Steve Bartman.
g. Losing series' against the Reds, Mets, and Pirates down the stretch blowing any chance
for the Wild Card in 2004. Only to blame it on one time idol Sammy Sosa, injuries,
unfavorable schedule, and umpires.

5) Admit to yourselves and others that following the Cubs has been a life long painfull
committment that has destroyed your life.
6) Be entirely ready to stop your pain
7) Humbly ask for help in recovering from your sickness.
8) Make a list of the reasons why you should believe in the Cubs.
9) Admit to yourselves and others that baseball is just a game.
10) Continue to reinforce your decision to turn your back the Cubs.
11) Convert to Cardinal Nation.
12) Begin to share with other Cub fans suffering from the same illness, how they too can recover.

Well there you have it guys. So now who is gonna be the first to share?



Saturday, September 03, 2005

Well the events in Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi this week are certainly reminders that they are more important things than whether or not Carpenter is going to get his 20th W tonight. Or whether or not Dusty Baker will survive the season. They are also more important things than how much I am paying for a gallon of gas.

I am thankful today for so many things. Thankful for electricity. Thankful that I have a job to go to. Thankful that I was able to sleep in my own bed this morning, and it wasn't even under water. Thankful that I have fresh water to drink, thankful for the good breakfast I just ate, and thankful to know that when I get hungry later on today I will be able to get something to eat then too. Thankful for my worldy possesions though insignificant and meaningless in the whole scheme of life, but thankful none the less because though they are with me now, tomorrow they may be gone.

Lest I just be grateful for the good things, I'm also greatful for the bad. You see if not for the tragic things in life I wouldn't know how trully blessed I am. I am thankful for the days I had nothing, thankful for the loss of close friends because atleast I got some time to know them and know they impacted my life in a positive way.

Most of all I am thankful for grace and mercy of God, no matter where I go I am in His hands. Theres no place else I'd rather be.