Archive for August, 2012

Laces out!

by: Andrew Welebir
twitter: @Spike1057

As summer fades into fall and students make their way back into the swing of school, it only means one thing. Another season of college football is upon us. However, this offseason seemed more like a bad dream. With the constant stories surrounding Penn State University and the mishandling of child rapist Jerry Sandusky, it seemed like last season never really ended. Normally I’m really excited for a new college football season to begin, not so much this year.

I won’t lie to you Chicago is not really a college sports town. When local media shoves Notre Dame down your throat, located 90 miles away from the city, it’s hard to really get excited. Sure Northwestern, a member of the Big 10, is much closer but for some reason they never garnered the excitement of University of Illinois. One team who we should be talking about is University of Northern Illinois. Here’s a team that will go into the season with the longest running winning streak (9) in college football. You read that right, but again the only people who care about these stories are alumni. This is probably why you won’t be hearing much college talk this year. Nobody really cares in Chicago.

So let’s just talk about 5 teams you should pay attention to this season.

  • 1.USC – Matt Barkley is back to finish off a very solid career at USC and make a run at a National Championship. The senior had an outstanding season last year throwing for 3,528 yards and 39 Touch downs and is a favorite to win the Heisman Trophy this year. USC just finished off a two-year ban from post season play, and once again find themselves on top of the AP poll. This season has two big road blocks ahead, Sept. 15 against Stanford and Nov. 3 against Oregon. The game against Stanford has the chance to be a trap game with in state rival California Golden Bears waiting in the wings the following week. If Barkley and his talented group of WR can maintain the hype they will be receiving all season long then this might be their march back to dominance.
  • 2.Alabama – Nick Saban has proven he knows what he’s doing as a College football coach. After a tough first year at Alabama, Saban has led the Crimson Tide to a 44-4 record and won 2 national titles. So why not another national championship? Trenton Richardson has left for the NFL and with that he takes away a huge weapon on the offensive side of the ball. Taking his place is Eddie Lacy, who has been a solid back up the last two seasons. Two years ago he finished with a thousand yard season and last year he averaged over seven yards a carry. A.J. McCarron will once again be under center, but his core of wide receivers have since left and he will have to adjust.

    The defense has many questions this season after losing two of the best linebackers in college football. However, under Saban this team has continued to find players to make it work and I have a hard time thinking they won’t again. The SEC is always full with tough matchups and will challenge Alabama all season long. Make sure to check out the opening week matchup between Alabama and Michigan, this should let us know what type of team we’re going to see this season.

  • 3.Florida State – Finally there is something to cheer about in Tallahassee, Florida, after being one of the greatest college football teams through the better part of two decades. Last season was a huge disappointment for the Seminoles. Injuries plagued the team costing their players 40 games, more than any other team in college football. What should have been an awful season saw the Seminoles finish at 9-4 losing to Notre Dame in the Champs Sports Bowl.

    So why am I so optimistic for this Florida State team? Let’s start with the Defensive side of the ball. The team is one of the nastiest teams around. Last season they finished ranked as the 4th best defensive team and they only got stronger. The defensive line is stacked with many reserves that could be starters but the depth is such that they will rotate in. The offense should see improvements all around the field.

    The offensive line which was hit hard with injuries and bad play should bounce back nicely. The running game is nothing special but will help to take some of the load off talented EJ Manuel. Manuel has so many options at wide out that the sky is the limit for this kid. I think this team has an inside track at pulling off an undefeated season and taking on USC for the National Championship.

  • 4.Wisconsin – It’s not the team I’ll be watching this season. The only reason I care to watch a Big 10 team is because they have one of the most electric backs in all of college football. Montee Bell was about as good as possible last season. He only racked up over 2,200 total yards from scrimmage. Oh yeah he had 39 touch downs!! For some reason he felt he needed to return to Madison, Wisconsin for another season. Maybe he shouldn’t have seeing how he had a run in with three guys who bashed his head in. Hopefully he can take what he’s learned and do with it that others from Wisconsin could not do in the NFL. Time will tell.
  • 5.Texas – Truth be told I’m a huge Texas Longhorn fan, started with my love of Ricky Williams and Major Applewhite. By the way, I hate Chris Simms with a passion. I’ll never understand how that overrated trash could steal Applewhite’s starting position. Just because daddy was a NFL quarterback you deserve the starting nod over a guy who at the time owned every Texas football record. Screw you Simms!! Glad I got that off my chest.

    I’ll be honest I would love to see this team win another National Championship but I’m not stupid. The defensive side of the ball is solid, in fact they are the best in the Big 12 this year. Sure the loss of Emmanuel Acho and Keenan Robinson at linebacker will hurt but the depth up front should help to overcome the inexperience at linebacker. Alex Okafor and Jackson Jeffcoat are two of the very best defensive ends in all of college football and should make for some great pass rushing.

    Running back Malcolm Brown shined last season as a freshman and should be the lead back again this season. If he can help shoulder the load and take pressure off a passing game which is very poor then this can be a Big 12 champion. However, if Brown struggles all eyes will move to David Ash and Case McCoy (brother of Colt McCoy) who will need to become more consistent than they were last year.

Notes:

-If you are looking for the next RG3 then look no further than Denard Robinson. Robinson will be working on his third straight season of 1,000 yards rushing and 2,000 yards passing. He’s proven he has the ability to move around the pocket but does he have what it takes to sit back and light up the field with his arm? If the Wolverines plan to take that next step one would think that’s a must.

-If Northern Illinois plans on keeping that 9 game winning streak intact then the Defense will have to step up and lead the way. With quarterback Chandler Harnish gone all eyes will be on Junior QB Jordan Lynch. Lynch helped lead NIU to the Go Daddy Bowl title last year when he took over at the end leading NIU to a come from behind victory. NIU opens up against Iowa who they have never beat. (0-4)

-If LSU plans to get back on top they will have to do it without DB Tyrann Mathieu. Mathieu was kicked off the team for failing a drug test. Mathieu aka The Honey Bear will be missed he was one of the most exciting football players on the field last year.

-Surely there are plenty of talented players I did not mention. Hell I didn’t want to rewrite the book just let you know what I’m watching for. So sadly I did not include a long piece on Marcus Lattimore. Look for something on this kid next time.

Gamblers note:
I love to gamble so each week I’m going to include a few games my money will be on.
Alabama -14
Michigan St -7
If you have anything you’re betting on send me a message or post it on the Facebook page.

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by: Mauricio Rubio Jr.
email: mr@99sportsproblems.com
twitter: @MRubio52

 

Two shells of armor struggled against each other
Feebly in an antique arena.
Before them is nothing,
Behind them was nothing.
Only in this moment would we remember, for everything after is quick to be forgotten.
Transient warriors, fighting a meaningless fight in front of a crowd too apathetic for memory.
Yet it is in this moment that the memories of man would do well to remember.
Can something be savage and brutal
Yet sublimely beautiful?
Can a moment of slaughter and mayhem
Be serene and inspire awe in the hearts of man?
If so, this be the moment.
Remember it well, gentle fan.
For behind them is only tragedy,
And ahead is nothing.

The fuck is wrong with AJ?

It seems that I am the curse of baseball players. The harbinger of suckitude. The prophet of #slack. The fortune teller of doom. As soon as I give out some nice words about how a player is playing very well, he goes cold. I did it with Starlin Castro this year, and he struggled mightily before pulling out of it and recovering quite nicely. I did it with Shark too, praising his new found control only to see him shit the bed and issue 4 walks the day the article ran. The opposite is also apparently true as I talked shit about Ray Olmedo at Sunday’s Sox-Mariners debacle and then he channeled his inner Vizquel making diving stops and hitting line drives everywhere.

AJ is awful right now (which means that he’s going 8 for his next 12 now that this is written), and he looks so completely out of it, it’s disturbing. Pierzynski is a smart baseball player. The dude is also a hustle man which makes his production this year so nice. It’s not that he’s slugging .500+, it’s that he’s doing it while playing good defense at a premium position and making smart/grindy/hustle baseball plays.

Of recent vintage, however, he’s struggling with…something. I have no idea what it is, as much as we want baseball players to be automatic and impervious to everything around them, outside factors can and do affect players’ performance on the field. There’s no shame in that.

Robin and the rest of the White Sox front office knows more about, well everything baseball than I do. Specifically in this case you’re just going to have to trust their judgement the rest of the way. Don’t be surprised if you start seeing even more Tyler Flowers.

Starlin Castro

There’s absolutely no shame in being a shortstop that hits .280-300 with an OBP in the .330 range and a .430+ slugging. Add in the plus defense Castro has played this year and that’s essentially a perennial all-star.

Yeah. Plus defense.

While you were too busy freaking out about the 8 quick errors at the start of the season and trying to move the kid to the OF, Castro went on a particularly nice streak of good/great defense. We can go with the boring numbers like Range Factor and I can point out how he’s leading the league (meaning that he’s getting to more balls than anyone else in the league, at shortstop, mitigating the error count). I can also point to how his fielding percentage has been on a steady climb since he’s entered the league and that he’s probably due for a massive breakout year next year. But when you evaluate defense, metrics won’t do.

You have to watch (sorry UZR, suck it).

Until they come up with a better way to measure defense, the eye test is going to have to do it for now. Starlin’s thought process has changed since entering the league. Reckless abandon has turned into aggressive play, and that’s a good thing. Watching him think out there can be funny at times, but for the most part it’s refreshing given what we were subject to in the past.

Worst played games of the year

It’s hard to pick one, but we had two strong candidates in the past week. The Chicago White Sox and the Seattle Mariners had an epic struggle of ineptitude last Friday. Particularly the last two innings of baseball were a veritable LOLlercoaster of dumb baseball.

Brendan Ryan is an awful shortstop defensively and the display was out on Friday night. After choking away a 5 run lead with walks and really hard hit balls (by Mariners, oddly enough), the White Sox slap fought their way back, riding an error by Ryan, and then two outfielders collided on a fairly routine flyball, thus ending the game in favor of the pale hosed warriors from Bridgeport.

Not to be outdone the Cubs and the Brewers slacked their way to a slugfest yesterday. 12-11 was the final and while there were no errors in the game, there was a lot of lollygagging going on. Outfielders were jogging everywhere, the pitching was godawful and it just looked like everyone mailed it in. It’s fine, I get it. Neither team is going anywhere and it’s the last game of the series. It was just godawful to watch for almost FOUR HOURS (I did anyway, and then did again when my choices were College Football, Preseason Football, and old reruns of MacGyver. Not gonna lie, if it was Columbo I would’ve gone that route).

I say the award for the worst played game of the year goes to Sox-Mariners. This isn’t a sleight on the Sox, but mercy that game was funny and brutal at the same time.

Seriously, two grown ass men ran into each other for no good reason. None. Even my former co-ed softball team had better communication skills.

#RIPHammertime #SkyPoint

PhotoBlog: Steven Villarreal’s Golden Hopes

Posted: August 29, 2012 by Mauricio Rubio Jr. in Boxing, Sports

This is Steven Villarreal. For the next 7 months we will be charting him as he runs down his goal of winning Chicago’s Golden Glove tournament which are usually held in March. What follows here will be a continuing photo blog on his training and his life. Steve will be fighting in amateur fights and he is about to make the serious move from LA Boxing to the well-renowned Chicago Boxing Club.

Critique by Mat Festa

Follow my work on Facebook, Twitter, and Tiamat’s Garden.

matfesta@tiamatsgarden.com

Castor and Pollux are two friends with conflicting taste in movies. Castor loves mainstream fare while Pollux prefers pretentious art films. A quirky miss matched roommates sitcom is in the works.

BATMAN BEGINS (2005)

CASTOR&POLLUX: Wow!

POLLUX: That was amazing. I had no idea what to expect when I heard Nolan was making a Batman movie but that was excellent. The level of depth and complexity in the character development, the intricate layout to the structure – going back and fourth through time to show his growth as a person and evolution into becoming Batman simultaneously, and what a cast! Neeson, Watanabe, Oldman, Murphy, and Bale was as pleasant a surprise as Nolan.

CASTOR: I know! And the Joker is going to be in the next one! I’m so excited. I mean this one wasn’t perfect-

P: Yeah, the camera was too close and shaky during some of the fight sequences, but that’s an endemic problem for action movies these days. And that scene where Batman’s holding the guy upside down and threatening him getting a little over the top. Look, we know you’re Batman and you’re hardcore. You don’t need to growl at people. Meh, I’m sure they won’t do that in the next one.

C: What? I was talking about calling him Ra’s al Ghul. It’s pronounced “Raysh.” “RAYSH!”

P: Well, “ra’s al ghul” is Arabic for “the demon’s head” and “rass,” the way they say it in the movie is the Arabic pronunciation and the character was an Arab in the comics so… hey, come to think of it why do they have a Japanese guy in Tibet with an Arabic name?

C: The animated series called him “Raysh.” Dennis O’neil created the character and he pronounces it “Raysh!”

P: Whatever, we’re nitpicking. This was a great film. I can’t wait to see what they do with the next one.

C: Oh man it’s going to be so great!

[Three years of nerdly fawning, discussion, and praise ensue, and then….]

THE DARK KNIGHT (2008)

C: Holy sh-

P: Yeah, that was okay.

[Castor glares daggers at Pollux.]

P: …what?

C: This was incredible! It was mind blowing! So much better than Batman Begins. It was one of the best sequels, best movies ever! What could you possibly complain about?!

P: Whoa, ease up there, fanboy. It was a good action movie. It had the same sort of atmosphere of Batman Begins that I loved but the whole movie was paced and edited like an action sequence. Any sort of emotional impact that some of the scenes could have had just get glossed over because it races from one scene to the next. Not to mention all the weird little things that just didn’t make any sense.

C: Oh come on! This was so incredibly written. What didn’t make sense?

P: Okay, how about the fact that Alfred is the prim and proper English butler who has served the Wayne family for generations except for the summer he took off to be a mercenary in Burma?

C: You’re just looking for things to complain about. You can’t deny the amazing performance Ledger gave as the Joker.

P: Oh yeah, he was the saving grace for a lot of the movie. I love how of all the people to play the Joker over the years they’ve each had such a completely unique take on the character. …huh, look Heath Ledger died. That’s a pity.

C: He died? …THIS WAS THE GREATEST MOVIE VILLAIN THAT EVER WAS OR EVER WILL BE!

P: Speaking of villains why was so much of the movie spent on how Batman won’t go all the way and kill the Joker if it comes down to that – the Joker who has murdered who knows how many people, blown up buildings, and been terrorizing the entire city – but he murders Two Face without a second thought?

C: He was pointing a gun at Gordon’s kids!

P: So he couldn’t push the boy out of the way? Or knock the gun out of his hand like he does to criminals all the time? Or just jump in front of the kid since he’s wearing body armor that already stopped a bullet when Two Face was aiming right at him? Come to think of it why was Dent only Two Face for the last 20 minutes of the movie?

C: You’re the one always harping on about the importance of character development. They had to establish who he was to show his tragic descent into becoming Two Face.

P: Yeah, they keep going on and on about how perfect and valiant he is. That he can clean up Gotham and do a better job of fighting crime than Batman without having to be a vigilante. (And we always say “face” twice when talking about him and calling him the “white knight” because Batman is the “dark knight.” Aren’t we a clever little movie.) Then his girlfriend dies so he decides to become a mass murderer?

C: But there was just so much more to this one. May the Movie Gods forgive me for uttering this horribly overused word, but it was EPIC! Batman Begins never had any jaw dropping moments like the truck flipping scene.

P: What was up with that, anyway? Batman hooks a cable onto the front of the truck, drives under it, sprays it with his trusty Bat-Anti-Physics spray and it magically flips over head first.

C: Come on, that was incredible! You can’t tell me you weren’t shocked when you saw that.

P: Yeah I was. Shocked. Surprised. Confused. He didn’t even attach the other end of the cable to anything. I thought Nolan’s whole thing with his take on Batman was “realism.”

C: It was awesome!

P: But it didn’t make any sense! So if in the next movie Batman tosses a stick at the Riddler and his head comes flying off like he whacked him with a broadsword you’ll start cheering in the theater?

C: …Yes.

P: Okay, that would actually be kind of neat, but you know what I mean. Anyway, all I’m saying is that this wasn’t as good a film as Batman Begins. It was an okay action flick with a great antagonist but that’s about it. Oh, but you want to know something else that really bothered me about this one?

C: Not really.

P: Here’s a hint.  **ahem** …WHERE ARE THEY?!!

C: Gah! Don’t do that!

[Four years of ridiculing Christian Bale’s vocal cords, and then….]

THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (2012)

P: Well that was a steamy pile of-

C: THE GREATEST MOVIE EVER MADE!

P: **Defeated sigh** You’re kidding me, right?

C: This was beyond fantastic! Genre transcending!

P: Holy plot holes, Batman. Where should I even start?

C: How about with how you insist on over analyzing everything and can’t just enjoy a movie?

P: If you want to start on a positive note then it is impressive that Nolan managed to make a movie even worse than Inception. Had to be really embarrassing for Caine, Hardy, Gordon-Levitt, Murphy, and Cotillard though. Sort of like bumping into someone you know at the VD clinic.

C: What are you talking about? The cast was remarkable! Bane was such a powerful chilling villain.

P: You mean the guy who sounded like he was doing a Prof. Farnsworth impression with a bucket on his head? “Wif no shurwivors!!” What’s so intimidating about a villain who talks like a kitten poster?

C: Bane was the apex, what all of this was leading to. RAYSH al Ghul was the beginning, the ideals which Wayne opposed, everything the lead him to becoming Batman. Then the Joker was the embodiment of chaos, all the madness that was inevitable once someone like the Batman came into being. Now Bane is Batman’s only equal, the strength, cunning, planning, everything that Batman is turned against him!

P: You know who Batman’s most dangerous enemy is? A therapist. One good session of grief counseling and his entire reason to exist will vanish.

C: Bane was the mastermind behind all of this!

P: Right, and remind me what his plan is again.

C: He was finishing what the League of Shadows started in the first movie!

P: Don’t they open the film by saying that all the crime, mob activity, and corruption that was the whole reason they wanted to destroy Gotham is gone? And seriously, what was his plan? First he isolates Gotham, which he can do because apparently Gotham is an island now.

C: They set that up in the first movie!

P: Right, “the narrows,” which they established was the small crime riddled slum that Batman was trying to clean up. Now the entire city – banks, mansions, football stadium, hospitals, everything – is all on that island. Anyway, so he cuts off the city from the rest of the world, makes Bruce Wayne go broke for some reason, releases all the criminals from prison except the Joker who apparently doesn’t exist now-

C: Are you so determined to not like a fun movie that you’re going to attack Nolan’s leaving out mention of the Joker out of respect to Ledger?

P: How is that respectful? This is a mentality that’s become more and more prevalent in recent years. It started with 9/11 after which the media started removing the twin towers from everything. It’d be like if when you were in your 40’s your parents died so you start saying you grew up an orphan. And on the subject of orphans, Robin knows that Bruce Wayne is Batman because the first time he saw Wayne – a man whom he already knew grew up without parents – he could see by looking in his eyes that he grew up without parents? Was this something like the last Harry Potter movies where the screenwriters went out, got drunk, left the script under a table in the bar and had to rewrite the entire movie at the last minute?

C: Want to get back to Bane now, Captain Tangent, or would you like to keep taunting orphans and 9/11 victims?

P: Right, so Bane releases all the criminals that the League of Shadows wanted to get rid of in the first place, arms them with assault rifles, and lets them terrorize the city so he can blow it all up (himself, the woman he loves, and all his henchmen included) with a nuke. Your master tactician hard at work.

C: It was to torture him! He wanted Batman to suffer seeing everything he worked for tear itself apart. That’s why he had him watch the TV in prison.

P: Yes, the “hell on Earth” prison in Fakeistan so mysterious it’s existence is only a legend but sits so close to a city you’d be able to see in the windows of the buildings the second Wayne climbs out of it. Considerate of Bane to put him in a prison with a personal physician and its own built in escape route by the way. At least all the prison scenes gave us another 50 chances to hear the “ketchup ketchup fish fish” chanting because the 90 times prior to that weren’t nearly enough. You know how Zimmer only used the “Batman theme” in Dark Knight twice because he said he didn’t want to have a catchy tune people would leave the theater humming? So glad he changed his mind on that because hearing “KETCHUP KETCHUP FISH FISH” every time Bane came on screen never got annoying at all.

C: THEY WERE NOT SAYING KETCHUP FISH!!

P: And where did Bane get these legions of devout adoring followers? All his brilliant plans just amount to blowing stuff up and his masterful combat skills consist of swinging his arms around like an eight-year-old throwing a dodge ball. But enough about Bane. Let’s talk Catwoman.

C: I am so glad Hathaway didn’t ruin the movie. Man was I worried when she was cast.

P: She gave what would have been the one interesting performance in the whole movie. Would have been nice if there was any point to have her in it. Another wonderful filmmaking innovation from Nolan in recent years: never show with one scene what you could say with long protracted speeches and half a dozen extra characters. It gets so needlessly convoluted that almost every scene she’s in the bulk of the time is spent with other characters rambling off justifications for her to even be there. If they’d just given her a prominent role and let her have the breathing room to act I think it would have been just as memorable performance as Ledger’s Joker. …even thought the writers thought so little of the character that she’s the only person in the whole movie dim enough to not know Wayne is Batman. Come to think of it did they ever even refer to her as “Catwoman?”

C: Get over it. What, are you going to complain that they called it “the Bat” instead of “the Batwing” too?

P: Actually-

C: Dude.

P: Fine, you want to stick to story points? How about the fact that the entire second and third acts of Dark Knight were devoted to trying to find out who Batman really was but in Dark Knight Rises everyone already knows and doesn’t seem to care.

C: Not everyone knew.

P: Gordon, Robin, Bane, Talia/Miranda, but you’re right not everyone knew. All the people who had it handed to them on a silver platter like Catwoman and the police whose job it’s been for the past eight years to figure it out would have had an easier time solving a Rubik’s Cube with oven mitts on.

C: Why do you have to pick everything apart? If you want to overanalyze every last shot of a movie go watch a von Trier film or something. It’s just a simple fun action movie. What’s so wrong with that?

P: There isn’t anything wrong with just pure entertainment flicks but Nolan’s whole intent with Batman, which he carried out so beautifully in the first film, was delving into a truly realistic depiction of a concept as operatic as a superhero, an idea which the Batman title is perfectly suited for. Now everything is goofy, implausible, ridiculously over the top as ever but it still maintains the pretention of being “realistic.” Except now in place of sincere and well-developed characters and plausibility we get Bush quotes and pseudo-political ramblings. It’s like all the 9/11 references in Transformers 3 or the abortion talk in Twilight; as if shoehorning in pathetically trivialized versions of actual social issues will somehow legitimize works that are so inherently silly.

C: What was so ridiculous about this movie?

P: Bane, someone who was so horribly beaten and poorly healed that he needs to be constantly fed painkillers through a facemask, punching through cement walls. One man dangling a string through a sewer grate providing enough food, water, shaving supplies, and laundry detergent to supply hundreds of people trapped underground for months. Gordon being bedridden and hospitalized for months because he fell in the sewer but then getting up and being perfectly fine when it’s narratively convenient. Batman harping on and on about how he won’t take anyone’s life when he’s already killed dozens of people-

C: ONE! One person. He killed Two Face to save Gordon’s kid.

P: Yeah, Two Face, Ra’s al Ghul-

C: He didn’t kill al Ghul. He just left him on the train and-

P: PASSIVE GUILT! Jigoku!

C: Stick to movies more than five people have seen, please.

P: As I was saying: he’s killed Dent, al Ghul, Watanabe, and all the people trapped in al Ghul/Watanabe’s house when he burned it down. Plus no one seems to care about the murders of the police that he took the blame for to protect Dent’s memory, which was the whole point of the finale of Dark Knight. Everyone thinks he’s just taking the blame for murdering Dent. Of course he’s taking the blame for that! He threw him out a window!

C: Look, the simple fact of the matter is that this was an action movie and provided exactly what action movies should: ACTION! It was fast, exciting, and just fun, and – brace your pretentious brain for this one – that’s what most people go to the movies for! They don’t want to spend their little free time on the weekend away from their tiring, frustrating jobs going to see some depressing drek that you need a masters in ancient literature to understand.

P: And there is nothing wrong with that. But if you want to call something “pretentious” aim it at a silly action flick with more plot holes and goofy characters than a fourteen-year-old’s fan fiction that forces in speeches about morality and politics every third scene, and still claims to be a paragon of “realism” when a billionaire who dresses like a rodent gets into screaming matches with a body builder wearing vacuum cleaner spare parts on his face.

Find us on iTunes

  • 00:05 – HORALE MANG!
  • 00:44 – Sad Girl
  • 01:15 – Propers
  • 02:50 – Weekend Round-Up
  • 04:35 – Tittlebrooks
  • 06:15 – Facebook Questions
  • 08:27 – Luke Gregorson knowledge
  • 21:04 – “It Begs The Question, What Kind Of Drugs Is AJ On?”
  • 22:00 – Sam Hurd, via Jared S. Hopkins
  • 24:24 – Chewing Tobacco Is The Devil
  • 27:10 – Breakage
  • 27:43 – Anybody Got A Wet-Nap?
  • 28:10 – Bears
  • 31:00 – Well That’s Professional/Texts From Mom
  • 36:46 – White Sox
  • 42:35 – Raul Goes All In
  • 45:40 – Cubs
  • 51:36 – “We Need To Sell This Shit.”
  • 53:22 – The Absolutely Worst Swear Word In The History Of The World
  • 57:10 – Canadian Can’t Go To Canada
  • 59:00 – Exit
  • 1:01:21 – Bye Bye

www.99sportsproblems.com @sportsproblems

When I watched the Muay Thai fights at The Active Edge Gym in Lansing Il the first thing that struck me was the proximity of it all. Two men were punching and kicking and clawing at each other less than five feet away from me. When they leaned out over the ropes, which stood as the only barrier between the crowd and the violence, they came out towards me like a 3-D movie whose consequences would be all too real. We were right up close to it, and for me there is nothing quite like watching a fight up close and personal. The following are some images from that night.

by: Tony Leva
email: tonytrucker1969@gmail.com

White Sox fans…paging all Sox fans…..your team is wondering where the fuck you are…

78,127.  That’s how many people turned out for this week’s first-place White Sox series against the mighty, and also first-place, New York Yankees, a series the Sox ended up sweeping.  Read that number again, this time paired with the capacity….

78,127/121,845.   One more time, in bold.  And italics.

78,127/121,845.

That’s 64% of capacity for a series between two first place teams in late August (capacity at the Cellblock is 40,615).  Where the fuck where you people?  How could there have been no fan momentum in this series?  I can see the low turnout for the opener a bit.  The Sox had just gotten swept by Kansas City and the axe looked to be falling.  Many could be forgiven for deciding to come disguised as empty seats for the opener that drew 27,561 fans (67.9% full)  .  After the Sox pounded 4 homers in an exciting 9-6 win in the opener, surely there would be excitement for game two, right?  They’d draw 30,000, no problem, right?  It’s a cinch, surely.

Nope.

They drew a paltry 24,247 fans (59.7% full).  Less than 60% of that park was occupied on a beautiful summer night the night after a slugfest.  Okay, maybe Sox fans thought there was bound to be a letdown and decided to do meth or bang crack-whores or whatever it is that Sox fans do when they aren’t going to the park.   Fine.  But after game 2’s 7-3 Sox obliteration of the Yanks and the Sox going for the sweep with the A.L.’s best pitcher, Chris Sale, on the hill, you’d figure the place would be packed for game 3, right?  Well, maybe not packed, but maybe a great  turnout in the neighborhood of 35,000?  Well, okay, maybe 35K is a stretch.  Certainly they could expect to break the coveted 30K plateau?  Come on…..30,000 fans are going to come out, right?  Certainly it was to be true, right?

Nope.

A seriously laughable 26,319  souls turned out to witness Sale earn his 15th win and lead the team to a 2-1 win and series sweep.  Where the fuck was everyone?  I mean, this is the same group of “fans” that rip Cubs fans for going out to games even when we suck.  It’s all “NO WONDER YOUSE GUYS AINT NEVER WON NUTTIN!!  (takes huge hit off the glass dick, passes it to his dad)  DAT TEAM SUCKS AN DAT PARK IS A TOILET AN YOU’RE ALL GAY BECAUSE BOYSTOWN IS DOWN THE STREET!!!  (exhales a hit that would kill a horse)  WE ONLY GO WHEN WE WIN BECAUSE WE’RE SMART!!”

That’s what we get from them on a constant basis.  Then they fail to cash that check they wrote with their stretch-marked mouths.  What excuses could they possibly have for not walking the walk after talking the talk?   Where was Joe Fakesoxfan all week?  I thought this was the type of series that would be perfect to generate some sort of buzz, especially the way it unfolded….a slugfest in game 1 leading into a Sox domination in game 2 that prefaced the Sale start for the sweep.  What the fuck were these mouth-breathing clowns waiting for?  Seriously?

From now I don’t want to hear shit from these cocklunches.  If they couldn’t even get 28,000 against the Yankees to that VERY nice ballpark (I can admit it.  They did a tremendous job with the renovations) with both teams in first place, they have no right to ever throw that argument at me ever again.  The next one that does it gets a visit from Mr. Backhand.

The Most Interesting Knee in Chicago

or

As The Knee Turns

I can’t decide which of these headers I like better, so I’m going with both of them.

Flashback to last season’s finale against Minnesota.  Bears MLB Brian Urlacher, a future HOFer, sprained his MCL late in the game.  No additional damage was found and surgery was avoided.  Camp began and the knee swelled up, which eventually led to arthroscopic surgery, sidelining #54 for the rest of camp and possibly into the season.  All early signs show Urlacher should be ready sooner rather than later, an encouraging sign.  Aiding his recovery is the fact he went to Europe this summer and underwent a blood-spinning procedure.  Here’s a link to what it is… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood-spinning  That’s cutting-edge stuff right there.

So how does Urlacher’s absence in the short-term affect us?  Not very much.  The Bears open against a bad Indianapolis team, who they should be able to beat even without Urlacher.  They have a quick turn-around Thursday night against Green Bay, which is kind of stupid to schedule early in the season.  But Green Bay isn’t indomitable by any means, nor are the Rams the week after that.  Those are 3 very winnable games in a schedule full of winnable games.  That’s short-term.

Long-term, it’s never good to lose a player like Urlacher, but this wouldn’t be the 27 year old version we’d be losing.  It’s the 34 year old version…the version with 11+ seasons of rough play under his belt.  He’s not the best player on the defense anymore.  That would be Julius Peppers.  He’s not even the best LB on the defense anymore.  That would be Lance Briggs.  Hell, he’s not even the best white guy on the team anymore.  That would be Jay Cutler.  Speaking of Cutler, isn’t it funny how nobody said shit when Urlacher suffered the EXACT same injury Cutler did and came out of the game against Minny?  Cutler played with his, without pain relief, for over a quarter and had to be removed from the game but he’s viewed as soft.  Urlacher came right out and is forever labeled a warrior.  I love hypocritical douchebaggery, but I digress.

The bottom line is that this injury is hardly season-wrecking from a team standpoint.  There are few indispensable players on the Bears and Urlacher is no longer first and foremost among them.  A healthy Urlacher is still a plus of course, but he’s not a deal-breaker anymore.  Few 34 year olds can claim that distinction as it is.

 

Find us on iTunes

www.99sportsproblems.com @sportsproblems

  • 00:03 – “Hey it’s me it’s Andy it’s mah birfday”
  • 00:24 – Propers
  • 03:00 – Andy listens to stupid shit at a baseball game
  • 06:56 – Current pitchers that could survive in a 4-man rotation
  • 12:39 – Baseball video game talk
  • 14:40 – Mike Lovendahl and the Bears
  • 15:40 – “We almost had a professional segue”
  • 19:30 – Breakage
  • 20:30 – Bears talk
  • 26:00 – Where is Bill Cartwright now?
  • 30:10 – Dusty Ventura
  • 34:10 – The Year of Kenny
  • 40:10 – South Side Face
  • 42:48 – “Why do I know this much about Dan Johnson?”
  • 44:15 – Breakage
  • 45:00 – Cubs callups
  • 50:40 – Talking about the Cubs rebuild
  • 1:01:00 – Top Ten Rec League Douche Moments
  • 1:07:57 – “What are you talking about Randy? He’s…6…”
  • 1:12:25 – “Basically Randy is a raging fucking cunt”
  • 1:15:50 – The douchiest story ever told
  • 1:19:20 – Bye Bye

www.99sportsproblems.com @sportsproblems

by: Mauricio Rubio Jr.
email: mr@99sportsproblems.com
twitter: @MRubio52

“What are these
So wither’d and so wild in their attire,
That look not like the inhabitants o’ the earth,
And yet are on ’t?”

-Macbeth

It wasn’t right.

None of it was, here we were, two Cubs fans trekking into enemy territory sharing a moment over Phil Collins in a family car without our two compatriots. The whole situation stank but our noses had been out in the cold too long.

Our missing comrades would have given us legitimacy to the masses, a validation that we sorely needed. One was busy making an honest living and the other was at home nursing his injured back. We would continue on without them.

And here we were, two deviants acting nefariously, speeding towards uncertainty on the south side of Chicago, nervously passing the time, killing the hours before our own hour of judgment was upon us. Words were spoken but the meaning of those simple sentences is lost. Perhaps we discussed important things, but mainly we bitched about our MIA associates.

Our validation.

Our shields.

Onward, ever onward. Into the black and gray abyss, into the enemy stronghold. We dove straight into the heart of all that we were not, and we did so willingly.

How and why? Because we could, we had the means and it seemed like a good idea at the time. As we approached the steel and concrete colossus however, the idea that had planted its seed in our brains a scant few weeks earlier seemed like a harbinger rather than an inspiration. We arrived at the stadium known around this neighborhood as Comiskey II, two Cubs fans, armed with beer, and we dared not venture outside of the confines of the family vehicle with little sex appeal.

We used the rain as an excuse, but we both knew the real reason we didn’t want to go mingle amongst the people gathered at 35th and Shields.

We were afraid.

Afraid they would smell it on us, that they would know we didn’t belong. We didn’t want to start any trouble in the parking lot, out in the open, far, far away from any security, from any salvation.

But onward, ever onward we went, and when we had finally mustered up the courage to step beyond the steel confines of our vehicle, we knew.

We knew that they knew.

What are we doing here? Who are these people? Why is he wearing a White Sox construction hat? What devilish game of dice is going on in that corner? Where are we?

All silent questions shared between two friends in the light, grey afternoon drizzle. It was all so ugly, all so rough, it was all so south side.

And we waded through the cars, taking stock of the situation, counting the people in the lot who could kick our ass.

The number was uncomfortably high.

It wasn’t the carnie scene we were expecting, but the crowd itself had a unique flavor, an unspoken hardness about them that perhaps told more of the neighborhood than the individual. We stumbled upon some bastard game called “Bags,” we found grilles, there was even some sort of dentist carnival party happening a few rows across from us. It was all unsettling in a way.

What was most unsettling however, was that they knew. We weren’t safe here, before long the questions would start. “Where is your Sox gear? Where are you guys from? Are you guys Sox fans?” And then we’d be fucked.

We needed validation, we need salvation.

The fenced-in parking lot wasn’t quite a prison, given the location it felt more like a great big cattle chute that had ensnared us in its grip, and was holding us there until someone saw us for what we really were.

We decided to walk around, to look for a place to sit and relax for a moment, to get the stench of fear off of us. We needed to remain calm, lest we begin to arouse their suspicion. We needed to wait it out for Bob.

Who is this Bob? Truth be told I’m a little unsure myself, but for the two of us in that moment, Bob was the validation we sorely needed. Bob was a true and true White Sox fan, lives there, works there, plays there, will likely die there in Canaryville. Bob owns a “World’s Largest Gay Bar” shirt. Bob is for real. With two spare tix Raul alerted us that Bob was interested in tagging along.

Why not, it couldn’t hurt and I rather liked Bob. Or Vladimir as he is wont to call himself.

Vlad was coming, and he had his cousin in tow. Vlad was what we needed to survive.

We were still walking, still waiting for Vlad, when the phone rang.

“Meet me by the souvenir stand.”

Finally. We can relax.

We were deep in the shit, behind enemy lines and our only allies were members of the same clan that we feared.

It was a dire situation in the least.

We drank to assuage the fear, to beat back the panic, we drank to drink. We shared our spoils, provided by my fellow Cub fan. The time was drawing nearer, we were to begin our slow approach. The stadium loomed large, it was no friendly confines, and given the agenda we had laid out before hand, it never would be for us during our brief 3 hour stay there.

Time was running down, our fear gave way to liquid courage.

The absurdity of the situation didn’t hit until we started taking pictures of bronze men frozen in time, monuments to an era gone by. Fisk and Baines and Thomas and Minnie, they were all there, frozen. Dead eyes took our stock, judged us silently, and looked upon us with utter disdain.

It was clear that even with the newfound courage and credibility, they would still smell it on us.

It was at this point that Tony, my fellow Cubs fan, decided to become a Royals fan.

The rat bastard was going to out us, and then we’d be royally fucked.

There was no turning back, as soon as that sad sack franchise from Kansas City took the field it was over, Tony was cheering for nobodies, and people noticed. Of particular import was a family of four that was seated 3 rows in front of us. We could take them all, but surely by the time we would be wiping the blood off our knuckles the mob would’ve had their say, and we’d be at their mercy.

God save us, this man is going to get us killed.

Every Royals run put us closer to danger, each hit edged us closer to the point of no return, where sensible men acted irrationally and where violence reigned supreme.

We were dangerously close to getting fucked up.

And yet he pushed on, perhaps without fear for he showed none despite our trepidation at the start of the trip. Every play was a dance with death, we were playing Russian roulette with a large stockpile of both guns and bullets. Every cheer was a like the click of an empty gun chamber, and he pushed the dance dangerously close to disaster.

The youngest male member of the family was ready to scrap, the mind was ready even though the body would regret that notion gravely. He was no match for us, but he wasn’t my concern.  It was the endless mass of others that was my fear.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this, to hear the press tell it the stadium is always empty and devoid of life. Not this night, no it was teeming with hard faces who faced hard lives and hard jobs. We were poking the hornet’s nest, and to this point the hornets hadn’t paid much mind to us.

As the Royals ground out a meaningless victory over a first place team, I was sure that our time was done, that Tony would say something, and I would pile on it, and our lives would be in forfeit.

Alas, we made it out of there alive somehow. We spat in the devil’s eye and came out alive.

We lived, damnit we lived.

On our journey back we decided that escaping danger once wasn’t enough, we would cruise Chicago’s 47th street and tempt the street demons to ensnare us, ruining our escape.

We were fools, children who hadn’t been burned and decided to tempt the hot coals once again. We drove and drove and we saw what many of our kind, Cubs fans, are too soft to see. We saw the real heart of Chicago, and all of its glory. Signs for mom and pop hot dog stands, chicken shops, front room bars, grocery stores run by 3 people, and the liquor stores.

Oh the liquor stores.

It was glorious, our perceived jewel was at its heart was as flawed as we are. This neighborhood encapsulated our experience, danger lurked somewhere beyond the safety of our vehicle, visible but seemingly far away.

All it took was one to break the charade.

We were at a red light, about done with tempting fate, when a lady of the night approached our car. Fear gripped me, and I sat there frozen as we made unfortunate eye contact.

Time froze as she sauntered over, preparing to lean in and perhaps grab our junk, ask us for a date, looking for a hit from the glass cock. As she made the final approach all thoughts raced through my head, and once I contemplated simply raising the window and looking away. But I couldn’t. I was caught and she knew it.

She had the face, the type of look that you couldn’t look away from. Age and wear were etched into her by a craftsman who’s hands were too rough, who was careless, who simply wanted to be done with the job. She was down on her luck, that was plain enough, she was also hardened by years of struggle that she wore so plainly on her face.

She was of the night, and the road back to the daylight was nowhere in sight.

“Hey look I’m not looking for a date-“

Green light.

Deliverance.

Salvation.

Onward. Ever Onward.

Ranking the greatest catchers in Chicago history.

This discussion was born on our facebook page. Given the surprising season that AJ Pierzynski is enjoying at the catcher position, it is natural to wonder where he sits in the pantheon of all time great catchers. It’s a fair question, there aren’t that many great catchers period, and Chicago has a particular dearth of talent there. I thought about including Negro League players but I left them off. The stats are too sketchy. I don’t doubt the talent at all, in the wake of baseball integration we got Mays, Banks, Billy Williams, Aaron, Campanella, to name a few. That’s a hell of a talent pool to pick from.

Let’s get straight into it:

1. Gabby Hartnett

White Sox fans will make the compelling case for Carlton Fisk to be the best catcher in Chicago history. It has to be Gabby though. As much as I love Fisk and his defense, Gabby’s bat was more valuable. He posted a 126 OPS+ for his career, and had a lot of peak value. From 1924-1930 he posted a .302/.378/.532 slash line with an OPS+ of 132. He also hit the most famous home run in Chicago Cubs history, the Homer in the Gloamin. He posted an oWAR number of 48.9, and a dWAR of 6.6 (BBR WAR, fangraphs will give you a different number) in Chicago.

2. Carlton Fisk

If we flip Fisk’s Sox years, 71-80 in White, the rest in Red, you can make a better argument for #1. He posted a 34.7 oWAR number in Boston, and a stunning 9.3 dWAR. Defensive metrics are a bit screwy, but Fisk was a premier defensive player while Hartnett was merely a good one. Fisk was a better player than Hartnett and if this were a pure player draft, he would be #1. I am, however, judging these players by their contributions made while in Chicago uniforms, and Hartnett has Fisk beat in that regard.

3. Sherm Lollar

Dude could hit and he wasn’t a slouch behind the dish. He was an integral member of the Go Go White Sox in ’59. Oddly enough, early on in his career he was regarded as an all stick, no hit catcher. He was a prospect in the Yankees system with Yogi Berra and his defense didn’t really take off until he landed with the White Sox and Paul Richards taught him how to become a better catcher. Bill James has written about the existence of baseball families in the scientific sense. I think it’s most pronounced in catchers. If I say he’s like Mike Piazza, you can think of Joe Torre, Yogi Berra, and guys like that. All hit, little glove guys who moved to another position. I think Lollar fits into the Bench category of all around catcher. He’s not on that skill level, but he did everything you could ask of a catcher. You know, he might even be mini-Pudge now that I think of it…

4. Cracker Schalk

The bottom half of this list of 6 is almost interchangeable. Almost. If you gave any combo of AJ, Randy the Rebel, Cracker Schalk, and Lollar, I wouldn’t contest it too hard. Schalk was a good/great defensive catcher with no stick. Cracker gets #4 from me because he was probably a better defender relative to era than AJ and Lollar, and he hit better than Hundley. He is also famous for being “the clean Black Sox.”

5. AJ Pierzynski

I wrestle with this one. Pierzynski is ultimately the more important player, and that’s why he ranks ahead of Hundley. If we’re drafting though, I am taking Randy over AJ. AJ has a much better bat, but Hundley’s receiving skills are elite, and he helped usher in the modern way of catching, one arm snug behind his back. To speak of AJ, he is a smart baseball player, and that will never show up on stats. He’s a lot like Ozzie Guillen was in that regard. Ozzie was never a prolific hitter, but he was smart as hell. He made the hidden ball trick work, he deked runners with uncanny ability, and he did things that didn’t show up on the scorecard to help the team win. AJ is that. It’s not sabermetric, and it’s not quantifiable, but I’ll be damned if anyone tells me otherwise. The man knows the game, and he has a great head for it. It’s that and the bat that puts him ahead of Randy.

6. Randy Hundley

Elite defense, couldn’t hit for shit. If he could hit a little, if he could’ve been Yadier Molina, early years edition, he’s #3. He wasn’t Yadier though, he was Mario Mendoza. That’s a damn shame too. He was Russell Martin 1.0, a catcher who handled a workload that was too heavy for him and it ended up costing him. From ’66-’69 he averaged 153 games played. That’s sadistic managing.

“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” -Michael Phelps quoting Dr. Seuss

Now that The XXX Olympiad has come to a close, we take a look back at what made London 2012 such a special international spectacle. The marquee names came to play; some surprises emerged. They laughed. They cried. They hurled. They united the world…if only for a few nights. As we count medals and wrap up the Olympics, we may go through a sense of withdrawal, but one thing’s for sure: the Olympics bring out the best in sports, the best in humanity, the best in the art of competition.

Every sports fan owes a debt of gratitude to the original sports geeks, the Greeks of yesteryear, who came up with the concept of The Olympics in the first place (gold medal). Without the foresight and competitive fire of the forbearing Olympians, who knows if modern day sports even exist. Marinate on that. No sports exist. Damn…thanks, Greece! Thanks, Olympians for motivating me to get off my lazy ass. And thanks, London, for an amazing journey in 2012. Rio 2016 can’t come soon enough for my Olympic-fiending ass…

Representing the USA (USA!) as an athlete in the Olympic games goes beyond medal counts, perfect scores, and finish lines though. Representing Team USA (USA!) means more than getting up on that medal stand and holding back tears as The Star Spangled Banner plays. The meaning of it all can’t even be put into words. It’s all about action, action being taken by all of our American athletes who train so hard everyday to get where they’re going. Their actions speak louder than my words ever could.
That being said, these were the actions that spoke loudest to me:
USA Men’s and Women’s Basketball Dominance
USA Women’s 4×100 Relay Team Sets New World Record
USA Women’s Soccer Gold Medal
USA Women’s All-Around Gymnastics Gold Medal
Mexico’s First Ever Men’s Soccer Gold Medal
Jamaica’s Usain “King of the Sprint” Bolt and His Triple Gold
Michael Phelps’ Record Setting Performance (Apparently, there were still some records to break)
Misty May and Kerri Walsh Kicking Ass and Taking Names
Missy Franklin Becoming New Face of USA Swimming
USA Women’s Water Polo Gold Medal and the Subsequent “Everyone Jumps Into the Pool, Coaches and All” Celebration
The time difference across the pond that allowed those fucked up spoiler alerts to occur pissed people off and needs to be addressed by local news sources going forward. Why would they broadcast the winners like that?!? Watching the events, not knowing the outcome, the super suspense: these are the things that make sports worth anything. Yet there I am. After Jeopardy!, scrambling for the remote to turn off the TV before Linda Yu blurts out some random winner. No sports fan wants to know the outcome when they are for sure going to watch it later. Trust me. Knowing Gabby Douglas won the overall gymnastics gold medal while watching kind of took any and all fun out of watching that night. As much as I loved the outcome, knowing that Phelps beat Lochte in the 200m individual medley kind of ruined it a little. Nip that in the bud for Rio. No one wants to hear your revelations. What we want to hear about are the stories from London.
 
Few have the time or reputation to garner a following for the games, let alone the worldwide anticipation such as that for Usain Bolt, Phelps, USA Men’s and Women’s Basketball, Oscar Pistorius of South Africa, The United States vs. Russia in Women’s Gymnastics, Bob Costas and his infinitely brilliant broadcasting (God, for everyone’s sake, I hope they translate him around the globe!), the last run by Misty May and Kerri Walsh on the beach volleyball circuit, and the return of an Opening/Closing Ceremony, no matter how weirdly awkward it might’ve gotten during the former. 
Usain Bolt is the undisputed king of the sprint, and his larger-than-life personality endears him to fans and wins over critics in one lightning-fast swoop. I remember thinking in ’08: “Who is this asshole who doesn’t even sprint the whole race, jogs and lollygags his way to wins?” But over the last few years, he has become my favorite Olympian, one of my favorite athletes in the world. Those iconic images of him nearing the finish lines, looking around as if to say with his eyes, “Is ANYONE going to challenge me?” will define him as the greatest sprinter to ever lace them up, although his teammate and training partner Johan Blake is champing at the bit. That Jamaican team setting a new world record in the 4×100 relay, breaking 36 seconds (36.84 to be exact), Usain Bolt actually sprinting through a finish line for the first time in a long time capped the track and field events with a bang. Bang bang plays on the track show how close track and field events can be, as USA tied the world record in the same race and finished second and took home a silver medal.   
Michael Phelps, he of the most decorated Olympian in history one-man kin, somehow came into these Olympics as an underdog to teammate Ryan Lochte. Mainstream media and fans seemed to prematurely anoint the unproven Lochte as the new poster boy for swimming. The Olympics separate the boys from the men though, and Michael Phelps’ last hurrah and (another?) record-setting performance cemented his legacy, put an exclamation point on his career, and kept Lochte at bay.
Try to as he may, Dan Patrick during the day just does not stack up to the Primetime expertise that Bob Costas provides. Background stories, statistics, and interesting information are interwoven with segues for days, as Costas commands your attention and makes you proud to be an American just by hearing him speak. 
The United States of America offers opportunity unseen in most other places on our complex globe. Not to ignore the injustices being done day to day, but on the grand scale, this place is pretty fucking sweet. I try to thank anyone who represents our country well on a national level, whether it be athletes, soldiers, or ambassadors. So thanks, gang!
“That’s why you play the games.” You never know what could happen…unless some stupid TV station spoils all your fun.