Wednesday, November 30, 2005


I've been pretty unhappy with the Big 10's performance in the ACC/Big 10 matchups the last few years also. According to wikipedia, at the time of this post, the ACC is 34 and 19 making the Big 10, of course, 19 and 34. Pitiful. The best performances are by the Dukies, who are 6-0, while Wake is 5-1 and N.C. St., Clemson, and Florida St. are all 4-2. Only the Tar Heels are under .500 in the ACC, thanks to the Illini's win last night.

Now Randy might know more about the Illini program and, I agree, with Randy that last night was a quality win for the Illini. But they're not going to do anything close to what they did last year.

UNC will prove to be a tough team in the ACC and the Big Dance come March and UofI handled them. After a draw during the 1st half, the Illini looked really good to start the 2nd half--with intense defensive pressure and good outside shooting with 3's by Randle, McBride and Smith. But when they went cold shooting from the outside--which is bound to happen at some point--UNC came storming back by getting the ball to Hansbrough inside and spotting up for a few 3's. But the Illini held fast in the Dean dome and won the game.

Illinois is pretty good again this year, but if Dee Brown continues to shoot poorly and they face teams that can beat them inside, they'll be in trouble. Plus, they're depending on less proven players while losing some important seniors, including some off the bench (Remember that without Ingram, they would have never been in the game against UNC last year). While they'll be good and might be undefeated before the conference schedule starts on 1/5, they won't get out of January without a conference loss or two. They just aren't the same team they were last year without Head and Williams. And the 15 point 2nd half comebacks are a thing of the past.

Oh, and here's a list of Big 10 records in the ACC-Big 10 Challenge:

Minnesota 3-3
Michigan 2-2 (a pox upon their house)
Indiana 2-2
Wisconsin 2-4
Illinois 2-4
Iowa 1-3
Purdue 1-3
Penn St. 1-3
Ohio St. 1-3
Northwestern 1-5


*Would probably be 4-2 if the '01 game against Virginia wasn't called because of the floor conditions.


It appears that Walt Jocketty is very serious about acquiring AJ Burnett. There was an article on the Cardinals website about a trip Jocketty and LaRussa made to Florida to speak face to face with Burnett. According to the Cardinals and Blue Jays are the leading contenders to land the services of Burnett. Clearly the Jays have more money to throw at AJ, but the Cardinals main selling points are of course the opportunity to pitch for a strong World Series contender, and the opportunity for him to pitch for his favorite team growing up in Arkansas. The money would be more in Toronto, but another selling point in this whole deal is the extra taxes he would have to pay playing in Canada. The question remains though does he want a legit chance to win with his favorite team, or does he want more money? I am not too optimistic, we always seem to lose out to the almighty dollar. We shall see.

Predicting a move by Walt Jocketty is very difficult because sometimes I think he leaks information about his interest in certain players to cover up his real interest in going a totally different direction. Not to mention the fact that their success at signing free agents who have never played in St. Louis is not too good, atleast big name guys. Once we get them here though, most choose to stay and usually stay for less money (Pujols, Rolen, and McGwire to name a few), Edgar Renteria being the exception.

Another serious rumor has the Cardinals sending Jason Marquis, Anthony Reyes and a minor leaguer to the Phillies for Bobby Abreu. My prayer is there is some truth to this rumor. Although I would hate to see Reyes go because I think he has tremendous upside, the thought of having Abreu's .300 avg, 25-30 hr, and 30-40 stolen bases in the lineup in front of the reigning NL MVP Albert Pujols is very interesting. He would fit in great in RF and would look awesome in a Cardinal uniform, but I will believe it when I see it.

Other rumors include the same package of players to the Reds for Ken Griffey Jr. The Cardinals I guess feel that Griffey would thrive in a corner outfield spot and that it would be easier to stay healthy there. As I pray for the Abreu trade, I pray we don't go this route - that's all we need another aging over paid outfielder.

Jim Edmonds to the Yankees for Robinson Cano and Chien-Ming Wang, but we're already short two outfielders so why trade the only decent outfielder we already got? A list of minor leaugers to the Marlins for Luis Castillo. This trade rumor might have some legitimacy because of the Marlins fire sale so the Cardinals might be able to take advantage and pick up a much needed gold glove second baseman who can hit lead off, this would be a good move in my opinion.

All in all I think if we can convince Burnett to take less money and come to St. Louis, then that leaves Marquis expendable and we could package him and hopefully Adam Wainright instead of Reyes to the Phillies for Abreu, and then pull the trigger on the Castillo trade and that leaves the Cardinals looking pretty good to repeat as Central Division Champions for the 6th time in 7 years.

We shall see...


The Illini got a big win last night in their first true road test in Chapel Hill over the Tar Heels. I will grant Mike the point that we beat a very young UNC, but still very talented. I think by the end of the season the Tar Heels will be very good, and that win last night will look good on the resume come tournament time.

I must confess that that win last night was a sweet payback for the National Championship game last year. Although nothing makes up totally for losing the title game, it still was nice to beat them this year though. Mike may call me a homer but I truly feel that the better team lost last year. In the Champioship game we got diddly squat from Augustine and that was the difference in a close game. If we had just gotten Augustine's average 10 points and 8 or 9 boards that would have made the difference last April. If the National Champioship was decided by a 7 game series like the NBA, I think we win in 6 games, but unfortuantely for Illini Nation it is decided by one single game, and Augustine picked the biggest game of the year to play his worst. With all that we still were in a tie game with under a minute to go, and a Luther Head shot for the lead. We get anything from Augustine and we win, it didn't happen in April, but this ain't April and last night was a little sweet revenge.

Now we look to the rest of the non conference schedule and there is a possibility of being undefeated again when the Big 10 season starts. We have a tough road game at Oregon, Georgetown at home, Xavier in the United Center, and of course the Busch Braggin Rights game against Missouri which is always a tough game, as the tough challenges down the stretch in the non conference season. If we can handle these four games I like our chances of being undefeated when the Big 10 season starts with the hated Spartans coming to the Hall, but that don't mean jack because any team can be beaten on any given night.

I think we need to find a guard to handle the ball and let Dee Brown play the role he had last year. No one in college basketball can keep up with Dee Brown, and I mean no one. I think having him handle the ball is taking him out of his game. We need someone to handle the ball, like Deron Williams last year. Granted, we don't have a player as good as Williams, but at least handle the ball and let Dee run around and find open shots. I really think we are better inside this year than we were last year, and you match that with a decent ball handler and Dee Brown running around creating havoc, and it could be another special season for the Illini.

Now I hate to say this but it's time to pull for the Hoosiers and Fartans tonight because I'm getting sick of the ACC thinking they are the best conference, it's time for the Big 10 to win one of these challenges.

Friday, November 25, 2005


I saw a poll on the Chicago Bears website and thought it would make for some interesting talk on the Northsidereport. The question asks, who do fans like more on the sidelines reporting football games Suzy Kolver or Bonnie Bernstein. The poll currently has Bonnie Bernstein ahead 64% to Suzy's 36%.

I for one am sick of having this PC garbage rammed down my throat and think they should have former HOF'ers reporting on the sidelines. Or at least people that have actually played the game and know what it's like to put on a jock strap or as Sam "Mayday" Malone said in Cheers, "knows what it's like to have a groin injury, guh-guh-groin injury." A flash back for any that might have been a Cheers fan from the 80's, like myself.

I know this might not be popular with the National Organization for Women, but hey I say the heck with 'em football is a mans sport. An overwhelming majority of football fans are men, I talk football with men, and 9 out of 10 women don't even know what a first down is, so ladies let us at least enjoy one thing for ourselves. Sure women can do any job that a man can do and in some cases better, but leave the football to the professionals. I don't know too many men that want to take part in shopping or getting your hair and nails done or any of the other stuff women like to do so leave the football to the men.

Yeah it's amazing I'm still single isn't it.

So since I am still single, I must confess there is a certain bit of attraction to a woman that loves football so against my better judgement I voted and I cast my vote for Suzy Kolver. Yeah I think Bonnie Bernstein is hotter, but Suzy knows the game more and looks like she would be more fun. Bonnie just looks like she is a hot chick to raise ratings but doesn't really know the game.


Well I have a 4 day weekend off from work so that leaves plenty of time for my little rants on the Northsidereport, which is fine because I enjoy it. You see, I love sports, definately more than the average person that would consider themselves a sports fan. Dare I even mention the word passionate, yes I will say it I am officially passionate about sports. When a person admits to being passionate about sports other people have this misconception or steretype of a couch potato. While I enjoy kicking back on the couch and watching a game, I do not consider myself a couch potato. What's funny to me is if someone is passionate about art or the ballet they are considered to be cultured, but a sports nut is condsidered to be a couch potato.

So with my free time this weekend I'm ready to talk some sports. Since Walt Jocketty is busy trying to convince the rest of the baseball world that he is actually interested in signing AJ Burnett, when we really know it is just his way of covering up his plan to go in a totally different direction. And since I see Illinois is losing at halftime to that solid Wichita St. program, let's talk Bear football.

Last night while watching the "backyard brawl" or the Pittsburgh/West Virginia game it was not hard to think back to the Dave Wannstedt era in Chicago. I started to ask myself did we really hire this guy? Especially when you see Wannstedt do things like he did last night. Last night his Pitt Panthers were 3rd down and about 20 yards, they threw the ball for a 16 yard completion and found themselves 4th down and 4 yards short of the 1st down. However on the play West Virginia was flagged for jumping offsides. I'm fairly certain in this situation most coaches accept the penalty, take the 3rd down over, have 3rd and 15 and try once again for the 1st down. However our good friend Wanny decides to decline the penalty, and take 4th and 4. So since Pitt was in the middle of the field I thought Wannstedt was going to go for it, although even if you considered this 4 down territory why do you still not take the penalty to get the 3rd down over again and try two plays to get the 15 yards needed for the 1st down? No, Wannstedt decides to decline the penalty, only to punt it away anyway. Which to me made absolutely no sense at all. Things like that prove to me beyond a shadow of a doubt that Wannstedt has no business as a head coach of a football team at any level.

I give the man some credit, he was an excellent defensive coordinator. There are many guys who have excelled as a coordinator but as a Head Coach stunk up the place (Mike Martz, Buddy Ryan) just to name a few.

Dave Wannstedt's main problem his entire career in Chicago was his lack of knowledge in the run game. On offense and stopping the run on defense. He had no concept of NFC Central football or smashmouth football. Most fans and football people consider football to be a game of passing and turnovers, nothing could be further from the truth. For example the Bears success this season, especially on defense, is built on their ability to run the ball fairly well, and to stop the run. Case in point, the Bears are still -2 in the all important turnover stat, or they have turned the ball over 2 more times on offense then they have gotten turnovers on defense, even with the best defense in the NFL.

I had a football coach in high school that taught me alot about the game and he taught me that football games are won and lost on the line of schrimmage. He used to tell us that the closer you line up to the football the more important you are to the outcome of the game. The O-lines ability to impose their will on the defense or the defensive lines ability to impose their will on the offense , who wins that battle, wins the game period. Sure passing stats get all the hype and recievers get to do their little dances in the end zone and get to be seen on Sportscenter, but the line is the key to winning football, and Dave Wannstedt to this day has failed to understand that. Case in point, in my senior year at Central we beat Metamora 63-0, and I remember the next day my dad was going over our stats in the paper and found out that we had like 47 rushes for 600 something yards and 0 passes for of course 0 yards. In other words we never threw the ball once that whole game. He started to make fun of us and I just said why would we throw the ball when we averaged 12 yards a carry or so. Sure this might have been just a high school game but the concept of football is still the same on any level. We dominated the line that night and dominated the game. Wannstedt never understood that.

Some say you can use the run to set up the pass, or vice versa, but the key is controlling the line and then you can do whatever you want to do, if you don't then you can't do jack.

That's the key to the Bears success this season. The O-line has played extremely well for the most point and they run the ball fairly well, and even with a rookie quaterback they are having success. Vasher, Urlacher and the boys get all the hype but they key to their defense is their ability to shut down the run and get pressure on the QB with their front four. That allows the likes of Vasher, Brown, and Urlacher to have the opportunity to make plays.

Clearly Lovie Smith understands what Dave Wannstedt never did, and it is paying off.

Annual Turkeys of the Year

Mike Nadel hits it right on with this year's "Turkey of the Year Award". Three in the Cubbies brass share the "glory" this year. Check it out.........

Thursday, November 24, 2005


Despite the events of last night, I refuse to let the actions of a couple of idiots with badges damper my spirits on this by far my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving Day. I am all about Thanksgiving Day. Christmas is ok, but in my humble opinion it pales in comparison to Thanksgiving. The only bad thing about Thanksgiving Day is that we are so ungrateful as a society that we pick 1 day out 365 days to be thankful, as if the other 364 days we are a bunch of ungrateful people. In my book, everyday should be Thanksgiving, and I'm not talking about the turkey and the football either.

I love God's Word-the Bible. It is the only book that is indeed "living and active", and if you are one who doubts that and thinks it is just some book written by a bunch of dudes like a 1000 years ago, well I pray for you that God would make Himself known to you through His Word as He has done in my life. I could share many a story from my life, where God has used His word as a living vessel to make Himself known to me. By far my favorite book in the Bible is the Apostle Paul's letter to the Philippians. Philippians is my favorite book in the Bible far and away, because the common theme we get from reading Philippians is to rejoice and be thankful, in all situations . We read verses like "Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice." Or "do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with THANKSGIVING, present your requests to God, and the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."

I have so much to be thankful for. Although I am single guy, I have a great family, parents who have been married for 31 years. A sister who I love, and two nephews who I doubt I could love anymore if they were my own sons. I am thankful that I live in a country where I can be free to read and study God's Word and talk about it openly in front of people without fear of persecution. Not everyone is so blessed, just ask those suffering persecution in the Sudan or many other nations where people are oppressed and persecuted for their faith. I am thankful for the many friends I have. A lot of people go through life without any true friends, and I have many, including my fellow posters on this blog, some I have never met, but consider them more than friends, but brothers in Christ.

Most of all, I am thankful for the fact that I no longer fear death, and no longer wonder what happens to me when I leave this life. You see God's Word tells us that we can know for sure if we have or don't have this precious gift of eternal life, and forgiveness of our sin. This may shock some of you to know, but I am by far an imperfect person, some of you may have noticed that by reading my post on this blog right after the Cardinals choke job against the Astros in the NLCS this year. I am however perfect in Gods eyes, who looks on me and does not notice my imperfection, but sees the blood of Jesus, who paid the price for my sin with his death on a cross. All for me, He died in my place, and He died in your place. He was perfect, the Bible says "God made Him who knew no sin, to be sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God." Jesus was perfect and yet he died in my place, he took upon Himself the punishment of a criminals cross, that was meant for me and for you. I have found "this peace" that Paul talks about in Philippians and that peace comes from one place and one place only, contrary to what you hear from the world, we can only find it in one place. That place is through a personal relationship with Christ Jesus. That's it my friends. That's the secret to living a true peaceful life, a relationship with Jesus Christ. God manifested in the flesh, the living Son of God. I pray that you too might find this peace that I and so many others have found. It's not found in any other place. Some look everywhere but where it is trully found and sadly never find it. I pray that this Thanksgiving Day, would be the day where you find it.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


I know Chris is probably going to jump me for saying this, but a few months ago I saw the movie Fahrenheit 9/11. To be quite honest, I thought the movie was all a bunch of BCS, woops I mean BS. However, there was a part of the movie dedicated to the Patriot Act, and after my experience tonight, I believe every word Michael Moore has to say about this suposed Act that protects our freedom. So in this the season to give thanks let me be the first to say how thankful I am for the Patriot Act. Now that I have removed my tounge from my cheek, I will tell what happened to me tonight...

I was driving home from work tonight when I was pulled over by one of Illinois finest state troopers. When he approached my car I noticed that his hand was right on his gun. This did not bother me considering that one of my best friends in the world is a police officer in Decatur, and all the stories of cops shot to death on the road side during routine traffic stops, so I expect them to be ready for anything. I would be if I was in their shoes.

When he gets to the window of my car, he asks for my drivers license and insurance. Nothing out of the ordinary so far. While digging in the glove box for my insurance card I asked him what I considered to be a fair question. "why did you pull me over?" He then, very rudely I might add, told me "he would let me know in a minute". I thought to myself, why does it take a minute to tell me why he pulled me over, he obviously pulled me over for a reason and I thought I had the right to know why. He took my license and insurance card and went back to his squad car, and I waited for what seemed like forever. After a couple of minutes 2 more cops showed up and the three of them talked together for a minute, while I sat there. Then one walked on one side of the car, one in the middle, and one on the other side, all with guns drawn. By now I am I am beginning to get a little worried.

I was then told that I was under arrest, and at gun point pulled from my car and handcuffed. I asked again why I was stopped and why I was under arrest. When I was then told to "shut up." I was searched, handcuffed, and had my rights read to me. I'm sure Chris will attest to the fact that I am not the kind of guy that takes to kindly to being told to shut up. I was sure to let them know how this was BS.

So I stood there handcuffed on the side o the road, while 3 of Illinois' finest searched my car. After finding nothing but a spare tire, a lunch box and a Bible, two of them retreated back to the cop car for several minutes. When they returned, they said to the officer still standing with me that "we have nothing on him, let him go." By now I am really ticked off, and I actually was trying to get them to arrest me. I know the Bible commands us to be "wise as serpents, but as gentle as doves". Well I must confess when the cuffs were removed I was not very gentle, I read them the riot act. The last thing I said was that "you could atleast tell me why I was pulled over in the first place." I was told that I was stopped because I failed to signal when changing lanes. I don't recall if I ever changed lanes, but wasn't sure if I did or not. I said basically you just assumed that I was driving home from work at 10 at night that I had to be up to no good, and wanted to search around and see what you could find.

It was comforting that after violating my constitutional right not to be searched without a warrant or atleast probable cause, that they did wish me a Happy Thanksgiving. I replied that if that ever happened to me again the cops were going to have to use the gans they had drawn, and I meant every word of it. If they do that to me again, they are going to have to shoot me.

Thank the Lord for the Patriot Act.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


Wow, a team finally makes it to the final four and Randy goes ballistic! Just out of curiosity, I checked the NCAA record books and there was nary a sign of an Illinois national championship . . . curious. So then I looked at final four appearances and found this:

Aside from that juggernaut Illini team making 3 final four appearances between 1949 and 53 they have made exactly . . . wait for it . . . TWO final four appearances since the invention of the jump shot. WOW! I am impressed. But what is more impressive is that they have actually won ONE game in those final four appearances, unfortunately never winning a national champsionship.

MSU, on the other hand, has 6 final four appearances with a measly TWO NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS.

How do these results stack up with other now Big Ten teams? Glad you asked because it exposes the lack of, shall we say, talent in Illini basketball.

Here is the current Big10 teams with final four appearances and national championships in brackets:

Indiana: 8 (5)
MSU: 6 (2)
Michigan: 6 (1) (a pox upon their house)
Wisconsin: 2 (1)
Ohio St.: 8 (0)
Illinois: 5 (0)
Iowa: 3 (0)
Purdue: 2 (0)
Penn St.: 1 (0)
Minnesota: 1 (0)

That ranks the Illini right behind those 1940's powerhouse Buckeye squads and just ahead of those Hawkeyes. Color me impressed.

But wait, the Illini have TWO final four appearances since 1989, you say. Unfortunately MSU has 4 with a title. How does this compare to others making the final fours since the hey-day of the fleeing Ilinni?

Duke 6(3)
North Carolina: 7(1)...oops, scratch that--they have two titles, I forgot they won last year too 7(2)!
Kentucky 4(2)
Connecticut 2(2)
Michigan St. 4(1)
Arizona 3(1)
Arkansas 3(1)
Michigan 3(1) (a pox upon their house)
Syracuse 3(1)
Maryland 2(1)
UNLV 2 (1)
UCLA 1 (1)
Kansas 4
Florida 2
Georgia Tech 2
Illinois 2
Indiana 2
Mississipi St.
Ohio St.
Oklahoma St.
Seton Hall

I know I'd be bragging about the Illini if I were a fan, I-M-P-R-E-S-S-I-V-E.

Oh, and Randy, just a quick question, since you happen to be the local Peoria geography wiz. What state is St. Louis in?

Monday, November 21, 2005


You will notice I have once again changed my traditional Cardinal Red font to green. As in Hawaii Rainbows green.

Well just a few days after our fellow blogger Mike, a self proffessed Spartans fan, stated in the comments section of this blog that "he was looking forward MSU to dominating the Big 10 this year." Maybe Tom Izzo and his boys out to start with figuring out how to dominate that tough WAC powerhouse Hawaii. Michigan St. not only lost, but was humiliated by 20 points against the Rainbows.'s Andy Katz writes that there is no need for panic in East Lansing, and compares the similarities to the Spartans choke job against Hawaii, to that of the loss UNC suffered exactly a year ago to the day to Santa Clara. Lest we forget the Spartans played the Rainbows at full strength, while last season the Tar Heels played minus Raymond Felton. He goes on further to say that Hawaii is no slouch and might compete for second in the WAC behind Nevada. What a joke, compete for second behind Nevada in the WAC. Not exactly Duke there Mike.

Well I better shut up considering the Illini struggled with Texas Pan American yesterday, so it appears the Big 10 might be wide open this year.

However, how about those Bears. The defense looks great, the running game is shockingly looking good, and amazingly the O-line looks good as well. Kyle Orton is managing the game. I still have a few worries, our high priced free agent wide out dropped 4 or 5 balls yesterday. Charles Tillman, who I thought was a strong point is gettting burnt on a regular basis.

Big win yesterday that gets us a little respect. I would have much prefered them to remain under the radar, but now let's see if we can win a big game on the road against a good team. Go Bears.

And I never thought I would have ever heard myself say this, but Go Packers.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Paint the Northsidereport Orange...

Since the new guy to the Northsidereport seems to be geographically challenged and has forgotten he is Illini country, and insists on posting his remarks in MSU Fartan green, I am going to switch from my traditional Cardinal red font to Illini orange.

I'm willing to cut Mike some slack, not knowing too much about his background, maybe he is from Michigan and relocated to Illinois. I am well aware of what he is going through, as this time last season I was a displanted Illini fan living in the heart of North Carolina country. I proudly displayed my orange on game days, and when Illinois blasted then #1 Wake Forest by 20 or so, as shocking as this may seem I might have been a little unbearable to my co-workers, as I lived in Winston-Salem, home to Wake Forest. Then on the day Illinois played UNC for the National Championship, I got off work that day and went to a local Hardees for a quick supper to make it home for the game. I again proudly displayed my Illini t-shirt and hat. At the Hardees that day they were selling the UNC Final Four collectible items, and the lady that waited on me that day said "here's a guy who looks like he wants a North Carolina Final Four mug. " I simply said "no thanks", and we got a good laugh out of it.

When I started posting here on the Northsidereport, as a die hard Cardinal fan, I knew I was entering enemy territory. That's a role I love and cherish. Nothing brings more joy to a Cardinal fan that to rub the Cubs repeated futility in the faces of Cubs fans. However, I could always count on our mutual love for the Bears and the Illini to bring me and the other posters on this blog together. Now that's all out the window.

You see Mike, I don't blame you, you can enjoy the fact that our roles will be reversed now that the basketball season is underway. Enjoy it, while you can. Although I wouldn't start printing the MSU Fartans Big 10 Champioship t-shirts just yet. Enjoy all the pre season hype the Fartans are getting. The Illini are under the radar this year, but still a very deep and dangerous team. I am looking forward to the Big 10 opener with the Illini and the Fartans at the Hall, on probably "Paint the Hall Orange Night." After destroying the home court winning streaks of the Fartans as well as the Badgers last season, the Illini now have the 4th longest home court winning streak in the country. Good luck with that one. Just remember the Illini are defending Big 10 Champs and will remain that way until someone beats them. Not just last year, but 3 years in a row now they haved won outright or shared the Big 10 title. Sure the Fartans might win, but I highly doubt they will "dominate" as the Illini clearly dominated last season.

As long as I have known Chris, I always thought he was one of the smartest people I ever met, but now I am beginning to question the level of his wisdom, bringing a Fartans fan onto the Northsidereport. That's about as smart as getting drunk and going to a shooting range with Olin Kreutz, but I digress. I'm just along for the ride, and looking forward to it. So Mike, all kidding aside as I said last week, welcome to the blog, just don't go away and hide when the Illini destroy the Fartans.


Friday, November 18, 2005


Item 1: Scott Eyre was signed to a 3 yr. $11M contract with the 3rd yr being a player option (But who'd opt out with that kind of change for a then 35 yr. old reliever?). Pricey, but a better signing than Remlinger a few years back. The Daily Herald has the Cubs spin on Eyre: He's only 33 (while Remlinger was 37 when signed) . . . apparently healthy (having beaten attention deficit disorder in 2002) . . . and gets left-handed batters out, something Remlinger couldn’t do.

While I do think this was a decent signing--something the Cubs have needed to do since, oh, forever--I see a few drawbacks. (1) Money. (2) As the S.F. Chronicle notes: "Although the Giants made Eyre's re-signing a priority, they privately worried about guaranteeing so much money to a 33-year-old who has thrown in 243 games over the last three seasons." And (3) Dusty Baker will likely see those numbers as a license to abuse--for which he needs no encouragment.

Item 2: On a more foreboding note,
Chipper Jones is willing to restructure his contract with the Bravos to save the team $15M over the next 3 years prompted by concerns that his salary is a drag on payroll (and perhaps resigning Furcal). What a stand-up guy. I don't like that.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


Haven't we tried
this before? Well, not exactly.

"The Braves and Cubs are among the teams that have contacted Marlins free agent shortstop Alex Gonzalez. ..."

This must mean Hendry is getting rid of Patterson and needs to keep our K total at an acceptable level.

But on a happier note,
Hendry and Rothschild must be reading our little suggestions here . . .

"I would much prefer having a couple of extra guys going into camp than getting caught light," general manager Jim Hendry said. "The possibility of adding another starter … it would have to be the right fit."


"I think, as an organization, we look at it that if Kerry comes back, when he comes back, it's going to be a bonus," Rothschild said. "We have to plan that he's not going to be back at any certain level we can predict."

Plus they realize the need for
left handed help in the pen. . .

Be the ball, Jimmy.


While surfing the web site I came upon an article by Steve Phillips listing his top 50 free agents and where he predicts they will end up. I'm sure most are aware of his mock press conferences he has been doing on Sportscenter the past week or so, so for those who are interested, heres how he predicts...

top 10
Konerko-Red Sox
Damon-Red Sox
Burnett-Blue Jays

11 through 20

R. Hernandez-Mets
T. Jones-Marlins

21 through 30

A. Gonzalez (FLA)-Braves
P. Wilson-Orioles
F. Thomas-Indians
K. Rogers-Dodgers

31 through 40

C. Everett-Nationals

41 through 50

B. Williams-Orioles
Sosa-Devil Rays
Eyre-Red Sox

Well acording to Phillips, he thinks the Cardinals won't be big players in the free agent market, and I tend to agree with him there. The Cardinals, I suspect will be more active via the trade. The mainn needs of the Cardinals are outfielders who aren't drawing Social Security, bullpen, and maybe another starter given the probable loss of Morris. I expect Marquis to be traded, and also expect them to go with the rookie Anthony Reyes as the 5th starter. Reyes was a team mate of Mark Prior and many have said he was the best pitcher on that team. That remains to be seen, but Reyes does posses a mid 90's fastball and a big league curve. That leaves CY Young winner Carpenter, Mulder, Suppan, Reyes, and Marquis but I think the Cardinals make a trade with Marquis because he has worn his welcome out in St.Louis.

The biggest needs are outfielders and I agree with Phillips that Sanders will be re-signed. I also think the Cardinals will be players in the Brian Giles sweepstakes. If they miss out on Giles, Encarnacion, Matsui, or Jacque Jones could be viable options.

As far as the pen another lefty is a necessity as Ray "Burger" King has requested to be traded and I hope the Cardinals meet his request as he too has worn his welcome out in St. Louis. I know this is the case when other players are complaining about not being able to get any food at the post game spread once Ray gets in there.

Phillips also predicts the Cubs to be very active, signing two of his top 10 free agents (Furcal and Giles). I'm not sure where the Cubs are on salary but I certainly question their ability to afford two of the top 10, but who knows.

One thing is for sure, this offseason should be interesting as teams try to meet needs from a less than high profile free agent list. I look for more trades being made as teams set themselves up for a more active free agent list next off season.

Should be interesting.

Monday, November 14, 2005


Thanks to Chris for inviting me to participate on PNR. Or is it TPNR? Well, either way, I hope to be the
Mary Mapes to his Dan Rather or The Rev. Jackson to his T.O.

Before Jim Hendry starts his free agent spending spree along with the usual wheeling and dealing, I thought I would get on record so Jimbo can go out and do the exact opposite. As he was quoted recently:

"You can't say, 'I'm going to get this guy or that guy.' Sometimes those people aren't available. You have to be prepared to go in a different direction if you don't get one of those upper-echelon guys."


The Cubs could have a pretty decent core of perennial all-stars for the next few years, sprinkled with up and comers if they get Lee, Prior and Zambrano locked up after '06. I would really like to see these three have new contracts soon (especially considering the serious change Maddux and Wood are currently getting--$20M). I'm glad ARam was locked up for a few years and am satisfied with Barrett through '07. Add Murton, Cedeno, and everybody's favorite Pie to the mix and you have something to build on for '06 and beyond.

It looks as though Nomar won't be around much longer and I don't see how he would fit in. I'm no longer intrigued by a Nomar in LF experiment. Hendry seems to
concur. But hey, at least he got a world series ring while in Chicago. Too bad he wasn't wearing the same uniform as the champs at the time.

I'm also not disappointed with picking up Walker's option and signing Neifi. Yes, that Neifi. The shortstop FA market is pretty thin this year (
and next year too). If Furcal doesn't come to Wrigleyville we still have a decent IF of Lee, Walker/Perez/Cedeno, and Ramirez. I'd prefer Walker to start because of his good lefty bat and Cedeno at short because, as Hendry said recently, "Cedeno is very good."


Of course, I would like to see Furcal on the north side and he seems to be the Cubs priority. Bravo. I'm not opposed to a 4 or 5 year contract worth 9M or 10M per year. He won't be 28 until August and has been pretty healthy--except for missing about a week in August because of a sore knee--while averaging over 150 games the past 4 years. Plus, the Braves have talked with Tampa about a Lugo trade which might indicate they won't resign him. Getting Furcal would also make Walker or Perez available to trade.

Obviously the OF is pretty wide open. I'm still not sure what to do with the CF position and really don't think Damon will be an option because of the money he'll demand in this weak FA market. But if the Cubs do have $30M to spend he might be worth taking a look at, but not at the expense of failing to resign some of our '06 free agents. Chris mentioned Lofton earlier, but I'm not sure how viable Lofton is for a whole season, although he does perform well when healthy (.392 OBP!). Perhaps he would be a good option if the Cubbies intend to bring Pie up in July or sooner.

Giles is the best RF possibility (because of the need for lefthanded power) and Murton should start in LF. Sanders might work out too. And then find a good defensive CF (not Patterson--which would just hurt the club because how he is now viewed by most of Cubdom--and Preston Wilson is overpriced). Pierre is a great idea, but I don't know if we have anything to trade for him.

I don't want to pick a fight with Camden so soon but I wouldn't mind seeing Bradley in CF. Sure he's been a headcase, but he's arbitration eligible and he'll be a free agent after next year if he doesn't work out or Pie is ready to take over. He is a productive centerfielder on whom I would rather spend $2-3M than Patterson and he's in anger management to boot. Besides, Dusty's contract is up after '06 too, so anything is possible.

But aside from addressing the SS position and getting some semblance of an outfield together they should focus on that collection of stiffs they call a bullpen (either Ryan or Wagner would be a huge boost, but probably unrealistic). Maybe
Wickman and Eyre would be solid options along with some of the more promising relievers from this year.

They also should think about making a splash in the starting pitching market. I like Rusch and could see him doing long relief or spot starting. We'll probably need a spot starter--injury is more probable than not with the starters. But I'd prefer signing a quality starter like
Washburn (Lhp, 3.20 ERA, 1.33 WHIP in '05) or Bird (Rhp, 3.74 ERA, 1.19 WHIP in '05) who were decent, but didn't have great records. Another, probably more costly, option is Millwood (Rhp, 2.86 ERA, 1.22 WHIP in '05). But I don't think Millwood would bring anything that the left-handed Washburn wouldn't for less money. In any case the Cubs could use a quality starter, with Zambrano and Prior, to actually realize the Big 3 hopes the Cubs have had the past few years. With both Maddux (retiring) and Wood (free agent) possibly gone after this year, the investment of a 3 or 4 year contract would be well worth it, especially if some of the prospects begin to perform.

Could the Cubs compete next year? I'll wait and see.

Milton Bradley Talk

According to Phil Rogers, the Cubs have discussed acquiring Milton Bradley during the winter meetings. Bleed Cubbie Blue made some comments regarding this story that I just couldn't let go:

Again, this is the sort of player who Dusty Baker might work wonders with -- remember, Baker's strength has always been touted as being the way he works with players as individuals, getting them to produce their utmost effort for the team.

Did Baker happen to do this during the 2004 season? To my knowledge, Baker didn't "work wonders" with the likes of Alou, Farnsworth, and Sosa. If those three players are any indication as to how Baker can handle head cases, I'm not too optimistic about Baker being able to tame Milton Bradley. I think he'd have about as much luck as Andy Reid getting Terrell Owens to go to church with him.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Welcome New Contributor Mike Busch...

The Peoria Northsider Report would like to formally welcome Mike Busch as our newest blog contributor. I went to graduate school with Mike in Los Angeles a few years ago and we both celebrate the fact that we root for the only truly cursed team in major league baseball.

Here's a picture of Mike (background), I (foreground), and some poor deluded Cardinals fan (caught in the middle) from a late September Cubs-Cardinals game:

For those of you looking for the pictures of Red States Randy wearing the Cubs hat, as soon as I download them from my digital camera to my laptop I'll get them posted.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Even though this is a Chicago Cubs Blog

I would like to say congratulations to Chris Carpenter on winning the 2005 NL Cy Young Award. Woops, I didn't mean to run off at the mouth.


For years now, I have been hearing Cubs fans running off at the mouth about Mark McGwire and steroids. However, upon examining the facts there have been 9 major leaguers busted for steroids, and of those 9, 3 are former Cubs (Palmeiro, Felix Heredia, and most recently Matt Lawton). Since it is ok for Cubs fans to speculate about Big Mac, then us Cardinal fans can speculate as well. Dare I mention the name Sammy Sosa.

Although Sammy, like McGwire, has never been caught it is just as obvious that Sammy was a juicer. We do know one thing for sure, that Sammy unlike McGwire was a cheater, remembering that Sammy was caught red handed using a juiced bat. So knowing that he juiced his bat, it would be safe to say that he juiced his body as well. Not to mention, in his younger years Sammy was a 180 pounds, only to watch him baloon up to 230 or more.

So what is the point of this post, well not much, but knowing that 3 former Cubs have tested positive for roids, and knowing Sammy was a juicer, I think it is safe to say that the Cubs far out rank the Cardinals in steroid consumption. So I should never hear a Cub fan popping off about Big Mac.


Five Chicago sports fans, one from each of the 5 professional teams in Chicago, decided to go mountain climbing one day. When they reached the top of the mountain, the Blackhawks fan said "this is for the Hawks", as he threw himself of the top of the mountain. The Bulls fan said "this is for the greatest team in the 90's" and he too threw himself off the mountain to his death. The Bears fan said "this one is for Da Coach, and the 1985 Super Bowl Champions." He threw himself off the mountain as well. Then the White Sox fan said "this one is for the Southsiders", as he took the Cubs fan and threw him off the mountian. So that he the Sox fan, was the only one remianing at the top of the mountian.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


I believe it was Vince Lombardi that first coined this phrase, if I am incorrect maybe my older, more experienced co-poster Bill could enlighten me, but I am fairly certain Lombardi was the man. Maybe in Lombardi's day this was the case, but as for today this is clearly not the case, at least it is my prayer that sports is no longer a metaphor for life. Truthfully, the world of sports (and I am speaking of all sports) has no idea what real life is all about, especially players, owners, and even fans.

Dare I edit the great Lombardi's quote? Nevertheless, it would more accurate today to say that sports is a metaphor for society. The same decaying nature seen in the world of sports is seen in society as well.

Maybe I am just ticked off about Terrell Owens. It appears Owens was not satisfied with being the second biggest jerk in professional sports, behind Randy Moss, but this guy is making Moss look like the citizen of the month. It is clear that this guy cares only about himself; he cares about no one else, even his teammates. ESPN only adds to this man’s ego by putting him on the front story of every show they have. I just watched Sportscenter and the first 15 minutes of the show was Terrell Owens, I got so mad I flipped to Cold Pizza, and that's all they were talking about as well. That's it, let’s feed the man’s giant ego by putting him all over the tube. All Owens cares about is himself and all he wants is the spotlight, remember his running to the star at Texas Stadium after scoring a touchdown? Clearly Owens needs professional help with his ego, and I don't think putting him all over the shows helps him, because that's what he wants, everyone talking about him.

Why would ESPN do this? Well because we the viewers want to see it. Sure some may gripe about it, society is decaying to a point where everyone only cares about themselves. We may pay lip service to helping others, but deep down the vast majority of people care only about themselves. It is a world where we are taught at a young age that "we have to look out for number one." I mean after all if we don't look out for ourselves, who else will? Since we are taught this at a young age it is no surprise that we see players like Owens. The only surprise to me is that it doesn't happen more often.

What color is the sky in Owens’ world? I've heard him say plenty of times when whining about his contract that he put his career on the line for his team by playing in the Super Bowl so soon after a broken leg, all for his team. Bologna. To a man that seeks nothing but the spotlight for himself, where could he find a bigger spotlight than the Super Bowl. Make no mistake, Owens was not thinking of the team when he played in the Super Bowl, he was thinking only of himself. No way would a guy who seeks the spotlight as much as Owens, miss out on the biggest stage probably in sports. He played for himself.

What leads me to this conclusion? Well it's easy, that's what he always does. Even his little dances after touchdowns suggest so. After scoring a touchdown he brings the attention to himself by doing a little dance routine, or pulling a sharpie from his sock, or running to the middle of the field to stand on the star at Texas Stadium. Forget the lineman who blocked for me, or the quarterback who threw me the ball, it's all about me. I am the only one responsible for this touchdown.

That's the main reason why I hate to see players score a touchdown and do a dance. It detracts the attention from their team and brings attention solely upon them. Not to mention it is disrespectful to the team’s opponents. I was watching College Gameday the other day and when a Vanderbilt player did a little dance after scoring a game tying touchdown, danced in the end zone, the ref threw a flag for excessive celebration. The announcers on Gameday bashed the ref, while I on the other hand was glad that a ref finally had the stones to penalize a player for doing this. After scoring a touchdown Walter Payton never danced or pulled a cell phone from the goal post. He simply handed the ball to the ref and celebrated with his team mates. He acted like he had scored a touchdown before. He congratulated his linemen, even though for many years his line was pathetic and couldn't block my grandma.

Lest we say that Owens is the only jerk in sports, we see it from the likes of Ron Artest, Barry Bonds, Chad Johnson. ESPN sucks it up because we the viewers suck it up. After all it is just another guy, like us, looking out for himself, and placing himself above his team.

Life is not about "looking out for number one." It is about what I can do for others. The decaying of sports with money hungry owners and players is a metaphor for the decay we see in society. We the fans are guilty because we feed these egos by sucking all this up to the point where ESPN is nothing more than a tool to feed these egomaniacs.

Sports is a metaphor for society, not life.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Was signing Rusch a good thing?

Bill asked this very question a few days ago on this blog. Here’s my answer:

It is a good thing in so far as it will contribute toward keeping the Cubs from slipping even further down the divisional rankings next season. This is a move that goes a long way toward preserving the status quo.

And we all know what fun and giggles last season was. Wouldn't a reprise be even better?

However, this is not a move that will progress them forward and out of the [deservedly] current 4th place standing where they currently reside.

To do that, they need (in order of importance):

(1) Another quality starter (Millwood preferably; and Burnett if not Millwood). I wrestled with the decision of whether the team’s most pressing concern was offense or starting pitching. In the end, I went with starting pitching since I believe that the difference between the 2004 season (in which they were still in it until the last 2 weeks of September) and the 2005 season (in which they were out of it by July) was the loss of Matt Clement (who, along with Rusch, was the chief factor keeping the leaky Cubs boat afloat during the first half of the 2004 season with the early losses of Wood and Prior).

Think folks, injuries to the allegedly stellar starting rotation have plagued this team 2 years in a row now. Remember, in 2004 the finger was squarely pointed at the injury bug (especially to starters) to explain the Cubs failure to repeat the previous years success. In 2005, injuries to key starters once again seriously undermined the team’s ability to consistently compete (Jerome Williams and Rich Hill aren’t taking this team anywhere in case you were wondering).

Therefore, to not plan for this contingency next season in light of the history of the previous 2 seasons would be just plain stupid. Further, an aging Greg Maddux is now nothing more than a serviceable 5th starter. This team needs a reliable number 3 behind Zambrano and whoever’s arm doesn’t fall off first between Wood and Prior. A rotation of Zambrano, Prior/Wood, Millwood, Maddux, & Rusch will go a long way toward making the Cubs at least competitive next year.

(2) Offense (preferably the speedy Furcal, Giles, Lofton, & yes, bring Nomar back too). Offense (or lack thereof) has been my own personal chief complaint with this team the past 2 seasons (even more so than a terrible bullpen if you can believe that). It’s been either all or nothing with this team. They either explode for 10+ runs or they struggle to cobble together 2 (and it was more often the latter than the former). I am convinced that it has been the team’s lack of offense the last 2 seasons that has highlighted the pitiful state of the bullpen since the bullpen was expected (unreasonably) to be perfect! When they inevitably did fritter away a 1 or 2 run lead, the chorus of complaints focused attention on the bullpen instead of the miserly offense (which in my opinion deserved the lion’s share of the blame).

This is a team that sorely needs people who can put wood on the ball and get on base.

The offensive production from the outfield last year was disgraceful – among the worst in the majors in fact. Although it seems farfetched (b/c I don’t think Nomar will go for it), I like the idea discussed in the fantasy land of the blogosphere with regard to flipping Nomar to the left field spot. A hopefully sober Furcal then fills out SS, stick Giles in RF, and bring back Kenny Lofton in CF (or trade for Pierre). This is what you’ve got in terms of a lineup come opening day then:

(1) Furcal – switch hitter (ss)
(2) Lofton – left handed hitter (cf)
(3) Lee – right handed hitter (1b)
(4) Giles – left handed hitter (rf)
(5) Ramirez – right handed hitter (3b)
(6) Garciaparra – right handed hitter (lf)
(7) Walker – left handed batter (2b)
(8) Barrett – right handed hitter (c)

You might be able to argue Lofton’s place (possibly switch him and Walker), but that balanced lineup at least gives you quite a few possibilities from top to bottom. In fact, that’s a lineup that brings back the glorious days of 2003 when the Cubs played entertaining baseball.

However, if the Cubs do what I think they are going to do (which is let Nomar go, leave Patterson in center, continue to give Neifi and Macias serious playing time, and leave the corner outfield situations unaddressed) – they will once again compete for 4th place in the division. Of course, you’ll still have the typical fantasy land bloggers telling you how peachy things are and then you’ll once again be saying (when the final out of 2006 is registered) – “hopefully next year.”

(3) bullpen (?????). I really have no idea where to begin with the bullpen since the task of constructing a competent bullpen is an utterly mysterious endeavor. You have as much chance of divining tea leaves or discerning the mating habits of the beast from loch ness as you have of predicting bullpen success these days.

The sole piece of advice I have is to avoid resigning the 6 fingered wonder who is a free agent for what must be the 5th consecutive year. That and these words of wisdom:

Just do something because the bullpen is atrocious!

Jim, whatever you do, if it works, we will sing your praises. We will toast you in the corridors of Wrigleyville as we try to forget the nightmare that has been this years WS (I still feel like I haven’t quite recovered from a bad hangover).

On the other hand, if it doesn’t work we will call for your head.

It’s tough, I know, but that’s what 98+ years of futility has reduced us to.

Now go out and get the job done. If those losers from the South Side can win, then I really don’t understand what the problem is.

We’re tired of excuses to be quite honest.

Don’t let us down, don’t think that the prominent voice of delusional fans means the rest of us are dupes, and most of all, Jim, keep a tight reign on the Dustbag this year.

Just keep in mind that Theo Epstein is waiting in the wings.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Google PageRank NFL Rankings

As both a web developer and an NFL fan and partly out of curiosity, I wrote a program that uses the basic Google PageRank calculation on the NFL teams. I wanted to see how the NFL teams would be ranked against each other using this iterative approach instead of the traditional power rankings that are based on records and basic statistics. To translate Google PageRank to the world of football, I treated a team as a separate page on the Internet and each loss as an outgoing link from the loser's "page" to the winner's "page".

Here are the Week 8 rankings:













New England






New York (N)



San Diego





















Tampa Bay






Kansas City






St. Louis



New York (A)



San Francisco



New Orleans






























Green Bay


After Week 8, the results are fairly interesting. By record alone, we would expect the Indianapolis Colts, the only undefeated team, to be #1. Using the PageRank methodology, however, the Denver Broncos at 6-2 are kings of the hill. Interestingly, the Jacksonville Jaguars (4-3) are #2. What's even more odd is that the Colts beat the Jaguars in Week 2! I dug a little deeper into this just to make sure this wasn't totally incorrect. Under the assumptions of the PageRank methodology, the rankings do in fact pan out. Let's examine further.

Jacksonville has defeated the following teams:
#6 - Seattle
#20 - New York Jets
#11 - Cincinnati
#10 - Pittsburgh

While Indianapolis has defeated:
#27 - Baltimore
#2 - Jacksonville
#26 - Cleveland
#29 - Tennessee
#21 - San Francisco
#19 - St. Louis
#31 - Houston

It's clear to see that although Jacksonville only has four wins, their wins carry more weight within the PageRank calculation than the seven wins Indianapolis is sporting. This may change if the Colts start to defeat higher ranked teams, but in the meantime, the Colts will have to put up with their easy schedule.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Might as well get the "Hot Stove League" started.............

Rusch is signed for 2 years! I see this as a positive step. How about you?