Archive for the ‘SaniTERRYum’ Category

The Blackhawks remain undefeated (in regulation) a quarter of the way through the NHL season and coming home from a ridiculously successful extended road trip. Tom Thibodeau and The Bulls continue to plug right along, anxiously awaiting the return of Número Uno. And here I am, about to talk to you about some motherfucking Rugby.

Fumbling through Saturday’s monotonous network programming, I stumbled upon some good old fashioned Rugby. On NBC, no less.

Am I crazy or is Rugby not only completely badass, but also waaaaay cooler than Football? Where I come from, Rugby doesn’t even exist. I’ve heard of this sport you speak of, but seeing it is a-whole-nother-thing

Are you feeling a little empty since the American football season ended? Need something to fill that void? Post Super Bowl blues gotcha down? Have a hankering for something familiarly similar yet maybe just for you? Might I suggest…Rugby?

Rugby’s like football on steroids and amphetamines if NFL players weren’t already on steroids and amphetamines. It’s like if football was one long, constant backwards lateral pass and what looks like a touchdown is worth 5 points. Where kickers look to posess a skill set beyond one precise motion. Where there are no pads. Where the ball is bigger and harder to handle. Where the halves are hella short. Where the plays are fast and furious and you mit find yourself in an organized scrum. Come to think of it, Rugby is nothing like football.

I never learned this on Flight Of The Conchords, but New Zealanders rule supreme in it. Awesome.

After taking in a full Saturday docket of Rugby, I still don’t completely understand the rules/scoring/much of it at all, but I do know this: it is fun as hell to watch.

SPORTS!

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The SaniTERRYum XLVII: Super Bowl Edition

Posted: February 4, 2013 by Terry Carlton in Football, NFL, SaniTERRYum, Sports
Tags: , ,

Super Bowl XLVII: A Tale of Two Fuses
The 49ers will be contenders for awhile, Ray Lewis can fuck right off, the power went out, and Beyonce killed it. Nutshell. Boom.

Anyone who knows me knows I love the city of San Francisco and all it has to offer, including their football 49ers, so watching yesterday’s game was painful in a few ways.

Cocktail of the game concocted courtesy of the bro-in-law consisted of Smirnoff Citrus, Arnold Palmer, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, but no amount of delicious liquor can make me forget what a classless, mean jerk Ray Lewis truly is. Greatest Middle Linebacker to ever play the game or not, his persona and off the field shenanigans are questionable at best. But let’s talk about the game on the field before I get carried away here.

The game started questionably for the San Francisco 49ers, gaining 20 yards on a well-executed 1st down pass play, only to have it called back on an illegal formation penalty. From there, the Baltimore Ravens seized momentum and held onto it until the end of the first half and into the first blackout in Super Bowl history.

Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco made huge first half plays, extending would-be sacks into offensive opportunity and eluding would-be tacklers to give his receivers chances beyond belief to come back to badly thrown balls to make plays. Seriously though, has Joe Flacco EVER hit a receiver in stride? Ever? Colin Kaepernick, on the other hand, showed little to no resemblance to the quarterback we’ve grown to love over the last few weeks. He even managed to throw the first interception in San Francisco Super Bowl history, a feat that is quite frankly, astounding. The 49ers have played in a lot of Super Bowls, and to think that Joe Cool/Steve Young never threw a single INT blows my mind, albeit only slightly.

The second half’s start just brought more of the same gridiron shock and hash mark horror for the 49er faithful. Jacoby Jones took the half’s opening kickoff to the house for a Super Bowl record-tying 108 yards, clearly just as inspired by the Destiny’s Child reunion as the rest of us.

Then, the lights went out. Literally. No, seriously. A power outage knocked out the lights at The Superdome, resulting in a delay of over half an hour. And everyone rooting for San Fran hoped for a Mulligan. This being the Harbaugh’s Bro Bowl and all, here’s a thought: you ever play Tecmo Bowl (or any sports game, for that matter) and start losing badly, so you “accidentally” reset the system? That’s what Jim did to big brother John when the power went out. There’s my conspiracy theory, but it turned out to be for naught.

They might as well have gotten the desired restart though. The game played out as A Tale of Two Fuses, with San Francisco making a hell of a game out of it after all. But Flacco did what he does: throw the back shoulder pass, throw the jumpball, and watch his receivers make plays for him in clutch situations, something San Francisco’s wideouts have done all year but failed to do last night. Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree usually haul in those on-the-money throws from Kaepernick, but they dropped balls and ended up strangely as non-factors. The Baltimore WRs have been coming up big for Flacco and the Ravens this entire postseason, and they’ve been the hottest team at the right time. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: the eventual champion in any sport is not always the best team in the league. Champions are crowned according to whose momentum swings favorably at the end of the season.

And of course, the Super Bowl wouldn’t be the Super Bowl without the commercials. And it wasn’t the greatest commercial crop in recent memory, but XLVII had some highlights:

The Volkswagen commercial with the dude from Minnesota who speaks with a Jamaican accent.

For the farmer in all of us: the Dodge commercial with Paul Harvey’s powerful testimonial from the 1978 FFA Convention. “God made a farmer.”

It felt as though the Ravens had XLVII wrapped up for the majority of the game. Then the clock ran out on the 49ers, and I was left with the weirdly unsettling feeling of accepting Ray Lewis and the Baltimore Ravens as Super Bowl Champions.

The story of Ray Lewis ends with him on top of the NFL and atop the topic of conversation for years to come, for both his play and his foul play.

That’s so Raven…

Courtesy Tom Mleko

The beautiful thing about sports, about living in a city drenched in sports teams, engulfed in sports history is the ongoing cycle of teams to root for and follow. The Sox’ unexpectedly hopeful season just ended, the Cubs lost 100+ games (for the first time in 50 years, believe it or not), the impending strike may shorten/eliminate the Blackhawks’ season, the Bulls’ hopes rest on an ACL of the best point guard in the NBA, but da Bears? Da Bears are 3-1 and atop the NFC North. The cycle continues, and this leg of the cycle looks like a winner.

Da Bears look like serious contenders. Outside of an embarrassing loss at Lambeau, da Bears have looked like the best team in the NFC not representing the Bay Area. The defense is up to its usual tricks: forcing turnovers, scoring points (read: plural), and wreaking havoc on opposing defensive coordinators thus far (read: thus far). After the thorough thrashing of Rob Ryan and the Cowboys, we and the rest of the nation were reminded just how good this defense still is. Brian Urlacher is still the anchor of the D, the same way Jay Cutler anchors the other side of the ball. Both guys want one thing: to be competitive and win football games.

It’s no wonder than that after the aforementioned ass-kicking Dallas and the rest of Cowboy nation received Monday night, we were wondering about the psychological makeup of both stars, albeit in very contrasting ways. Through all the revelations we received Monday night, all the answers, we were still left with a few questions. We want to know why Cutler had a tiff with Offensive Coordinator Mike Tice, and we want to know how mentally tough Urlacher will prove this year, battling his obviously hankering knee(s?) injury.

Cutler’s magnetism begs us to talk about him, to write about him and his will to win. In this city, a city built on big shoulders, historical defense, and legendary running backs, we don’t know of this passing game you speak of. This is still so new to us. Cutler brings something we’ve never seen before his arrival. Does he know that? I don’t know. What I do know is that with the addition of Brandon Marshall this year and Cutler evolving into the quarterback and man he is capable of, da Bears have become…gulp…a passing team? This is dangerous on many levels.

Mike Tice calls the plays. Jay Cutler executes said plays. Bottom line. Was there a blowup between the two on the sideline after a failed 3rd and 1? That depends on how you define blowup. Was Cutler pissed that they turned the ball over to the punting unit? Obviously. I would be more concerned if there were no blowup at all. We criticize Jay when he seems complacent, and we criticize Jay when he shows emotion. Come on. You can’t have it both ways. I love the competitive fire, the spirit of “We may be up big on the scoreboard right now, but I want to shove it down their throat, I want to put this game away, leaving no doubt who wins.” The coverage of Cutler walking away from Tice on the sideline is a non-issue. Cutler is the leader of this team, but he has to mature and converse with the coaching staff every now and then, doesn’t he? That’s part of leading by example, beyond throwing touchdowns to Marshall and Devin Hester en route to victory and spreading the ball around to increasing targets. If we are to become a passing team (read: if), Cutler needs to maximize his potential, which will include heavy doses of competitive flames. The offensive line is starting to gel, evident in preventing Dallas’ up-to-this-point-lauded defense from having any effect on the game. He’s got plenty of targets (Hey there, Kellen Davis! Didn’t see you come in), Forte will get healthy, and Tice will learn where to pick his battles. Yes, that is part of Tice’s job description I’m sure. Know your personnel. But no one wants to talk about Mike Tice. Mike Tice is not going to sell papers, make you tune into the post-game show. I know my personnel…

Da Bears’ defensive personnel, on the other hand, could not have excited football fans any more than they did Monday night with their play. They picked off overrated Dallas Quarterback Tony Romo 5 times, scoring touchdowns on two of them. Components of the defensive core for years, Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman picked 6 once apiece, up and comer and potential Pro Bowler Major Wright intercepted twice, and D.J. Moore took one away late in the 4th quarter. Everyone on the defensive side got involved. Everyone that is, except for Urlacher. His own brand of competitive fire is still ignited, but I’m not sure Urlacher the of yesteryear is still in the house. He didn’t look like the Urlacher I know and love Monday night, but I know he’ll still have his moments, his flashes of brilliance. The defense, even without him contributing on a regular basis, will continue to dominate, but we miss you, big fella. Get well soon?

In the meantime, the rest of your personnel on both sides of the ball will handle business. Just ask Dallas.

Next stop: Jacksonville.

“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.

He probably didn’t even say it. He wouldn’t dare. Would he?

This is not even a conversation. The fact that all this time is being wasted on a fruitless endeavor is sort o pissing me off. Basketball fans: it should piss you off, too. I don’t care if you’re the biggest Kobe fan in the world. Your only excuse to be on board with any of this is if you are under the age of…no, there is no excuse.

The beautiful thing about Kobe Bryant opening up his big mouth to say that 2012’s USA Basketball team could beat the original Dream Team is that there is actually no way to prove him right or wrong. It’s all speculation and competitive banter, but the part I don’t like is the disregard for the sanctity of the Dream Team. Up until this point, everyone has had the common courtesy and decency to concede to the Dream Team as the undisputed greatest basketball, no greatest period, team ever assembled.

As the anointed leader of the current Dream Teamers, this is another case of Kobe being Kobe.  I like that he’s reverting back to his former, 18 year old self-talking shit, allowing his ego to get the best of him, claiming supremacy in an area that no one can actually discredit him. He’s really just stirring up shit. What are his motives though?

Ed. Note – Oh you bet your ass Kobe is kicking it old school:
[youtube http://youtu.be/4uG8ubgvSSQ]

Uniquely American in every regard, only here in the States would you have a younger generation team showing up such a national treasure. Around the world, respect for one’s elders is considered a given, but not here. This is our sport. Basketball is ours, but show some respect. In the timeless and elegant words of  Westside Connection: bow down.

My initial reaction to Kobe’s proclamation was that of disgust mixed with a bit of shock. He said what? And LeBron backed him up, saying what about athleticism? Ate these jokesters for real? Maybe they thought the question was, “Can you beat the original Dream Team now, as in not them in their prime back in ’92 but now as middle aged men?” I think the ’92 squad would still give them a run…

Then I dug a little deeper, and I wanted to know more about not what Kobe said, but rather, why he would say it. Many of today’s top NBA talent doesn’t even make up their roster. The Dream Team consisted of the greatest players to ever play the game. Ever. Forever. For-ever-ever. For-ever-ever! Kobe needs to play the role of motivator, and that’s cool. But come on. Ignite the competitive fire at practice the way MJ would. Don’t make ridiculous claims like this. Lead by example on the court.

Th problem with this debate is that the rest of the world has caught up to us on the basketball stage, proven by our Athenian Bronze medal in 2004. When the 2012 squad blows teams out by an average of 40+ points, then a real debate can begin. Granted, they whooped the Dominican Republic last night by 50+, but their star is a 16 year old who’ll be a sophomore next year…in high school. So, they’re on pace after one game. We’ll see. Records are made to be broken, but legacies last a lifetime.

WWMJS? What would Michael Jordan say? He’s the most competitive person ever to walk the earth and soar its skies, so I’m sure he’s got something to say. The only competition the Dream Team faced was that of its own scrimmages, so it’s sort of fitting that its only competition twenty years later remains kept in the American family. By the way, Jordan just laughed off Kobe’s comments. Sounds about right. It is a laughable argument.

Bottom line: the Dream Team is and always will be superior. They’re the only team in the Hall of Fame for a reason.

If you somehow insanely disagree, chew on this:

Tyson Chandler looks to be the starting center. The Dream Team had Patrick Ewing and David Robinson, for crying out loud. Jordan is better than Kobe. Magic is better than LeBron. Scottie is better than LeBron. Stockton is better than Chris Paul. Barkley is better than any power forward on 2012’s team. Same goes for Karl Malone. And Bird is better than Durant and Carmelo Anthony, although Bird wasn’t Bird when sandman entered and The Dream Team dominated. I’d also like to point out the number of championships won, collectively, by both teams. OG Dream Team: Jordan’s 6, Scottie’s 6, Magic’s 5, Bird’s 3, The Admiral’s 2. That’s 22.

2012: Kobe’s 5, Chandler’s 1 from last year, and LeBron’s current 1. That’s a paltry total of 7, just 1 more than Jordan alone. NCAA Championships? Anthony’s got the only one for 2012. Jordan, Magic, Ewing, and Laettner (twice) all won it at the college level. But these accomplishments mean nothing to Kobe. He just thinks that if they played for 48 minutes, that his squad could win. Forget about the accomplishments, but they’re impossible to ignore.

Future Hall of Famers? Dream Team has 11 enshrined in The Hall. ’12 has future inductees in Kobe, LeBron, probably Durant and Paul when it’s all said and done. ‘Melo? No. Chandler? LOLz. 4 future HOFers by my count. Sorry Kobe, but you sound like Skip Bayless on this one. You’re just spouting bullshit to start a conversation. Well, there’s no conversation to be had here. This is a closed case, Mamba. But I’ll be more than happy when they get the technology ready for all 24 of you knuckleheads to hit the hardwood as holograms to settle the (non)debate once and for all. Then all sports conversations cease to exist, something I don’t totally welcome. Having opinions, disagreeing, proving yourself with memorized statistics and facts; these are a few of my favorite sports things. So let’s hear what you’ve got to say about USA Basketball, because we’ve regained supremacy. And that makes me happy as a fan of basketball and the Olympics. U-S-A! U-S-A!

Something I’ve wondered since I was like 10 years old though: why wasn’t Shaq on the squad instead of Christian Laettner? I mean, I’m sure his historic college career as arguably the best college baller ever (and Coach K) had something to do with it, but can you retrospectively imagine that now? A team filled to the brim with 12 Hall of Famers instead of only 11…

Go Go White Sox

Heading into the All-Star break, July is a perfect time for a battle of division deaders, albeit two very different divisions with two very different sets of circumstances. 

Two-time defending American League Champions, Texas came to town sporting the league’s best record and plenty of confidence in their ability to power through the Sox and the rest of the AL again this year. The story coming in was supposed to be about Texas’ lineup, but with the recent addition of Kevin Youkilis at 3rd base, it’s the White Sox who are suddenly the offensive juggernaut. Taking nothing away from the Rangers, because they still have the league’s best lineup (and a first place team as Manager Ron Washington pointed out after the sweep was complete), but Robin Ventura has surprisingly assembled the right kind of lineup in a short amount of time in the South Side dugout. DeAza’s coming into his own leading off the order. Youkilis now overflows the 2 spot with veteran savvy and timely hitting. Adam Dunn/Paul Konerko has the potential to be the most productive 3-4 in the league. Batting 5th, Alex Rios has regained the form for which he was signed. The newly anointed most snubbed All-Star catcher, A.J Pierzynski has come into his own, and he wants to make a name for himself among White Sox greats when it’s all said and done. He’s got it in him batting 6th. Dayan Viciedo, Alexei Ramirez, and Gordon Beckham have been inconsistent at best, but if the three of them can regularly get it together at the bottom of the order, we’re looking at a force to be reckoned with all year. That being said…

…Game 1 was evidence of that force. 19-2?!?! After a highly touted pitching bill of Sale vs. Oswalt, it was Sale who shut down the MLB’s #1 offense while Oswalt simply got rocked…maybe right into retirement. The Sox jumped all over Ole Roy early, plating 7 runs in the first 2 innings-including a 2-run shot by Youkilis in his first plate appearance at home as a member of the White Sox. They never looked back after an explosive 9 run 5th inning put them up 16-0. They finished with a season high 19 runs, and they tied their season high in hits with 21. The crowd at The Cell was extra energized by the 4th of July looming overnight, and the buzz was felt throughout the deceptively not sold out crowd. Plenty of Rangers’ fans made their way to Chicago for this series, but they were promptly quieted and sent home to the Lone Star State lonely and baffled at the beat down administered on the South Side.

Game 2
Game 2 saw a return to small ball for Sox, Hamilton being Hamilton for Rangers, A.J. plowing over his counterpart (but not Ron Washington, unfortunately), and some back and forth scoring. Oh, and Kevin Youkilis continuing to welcome himself to town-this time with a game-winning RBI single in the bottom of the 10th to go along with some sparkling defensive plays at the hot corner. We’re going to like this guy. We’re really, really going to like him. Thanks for providing us with the 4th of July fireworks, Youk.

Game 3
Smelling blood and sensing sweep, the Sox sent newly promoted Jose Quintana to the mound to face off against Matt Harrison. Fans waiting for some semblance of a pitching duel got one in game 3, and Kevin Youkilis delivered another game winner, this time a 6th inning blast to put the Sox up 2-1 for good. Quintana has pitched extraordinarily well since joining the Sox’ staff. Subtract the start against the Yankees, who spurned him, and he’s done nothing but dominate. Yesterday’s performance was just what the doctor ordered: a quickly worked game by Quintana in the sweltering heat, and another Sox W. Winner, winner, chicken dinner.
I know it’s just one series sweep, but I can’t help but notice that the way this team is put together right now reeks of a contender. They’ve got a perfect blend of youth and veteran leadership, accentuated by the acquisition of Youk. The change of scenery does wonders for certain veterans, and the scenery at The Cell seems to agree with The Greek God of Walk. To say the man accomplished is a vast understatement, and his experience in big games, ability to produce and play defense, and overall attitude toward the game will do wonders for the predominantly young club. 
No one expected much from the White Sox this year. Sometimes, going under the radar brings out the best in teams. Don’t forget that all this first place ball has been played minus John Danks from the rotation. I have a feeling the best is yet to come this year, folks…
 

The SaniTERRYum XII: An Essay for Asterisks

The asterisk remains a mysterious mistress in sports. She only shows up on stats and achievements if something out of the ordinary is determined to be by the powers that be. Late game not included. Steroid Era. Pete Rose. Strikes, lockouts and the like. LeBron’s first title? Oh, definitely an asterisk next to that shortened season Miami championship.

This isn’t even coming from the Heat hater, die-hard Bulls fan in me. This is just me keeping it 100. A 66 game season culminating in a ‘chip does not a champion make. Well, technically it does, but with an asterisk next to it in the books…a permanent asterisk. As much as I admire the Spurs, their run in ’99 falls into the same asterisk-ridden category. It’s just not the same if 82 games aren’t played. Hence, the permanence of the ever-lingering, ever-annoying asterisk. You can debate the asterisk all you want, but it’s not going anywhere. It’s as much a part of legitimizing an accomplishment as it is from taking away its legs to stand on in a world of amputees.

Everything LeBron has done in the L has been legitimate. We don’t need to talk about anyone taking their talents anywhere. We don’t need to talk about the receding hairline. We don’t need to discuss the 4th quarter meltdowns of yesteryear. The man is the best player on the planet right now, possessing a skill set mashed with athleticism the NBA has never seen. But I’m sorry, asterisk applied to his first championship. I can hear the so-called Miami Heat fans now:  “It took him so long to get here, and now this fucking jerk off writer from Chicago who’s still bitter about the Derrick Rose injury wants to diminish what LeBron and Co. have worked so hard for?” Hey, don’t hate the player. Hate the game. Asterisk stands.

The LeBron-imposed asterisk would have gone to whomever the NBA crowned champion this year. That comes with the territory of any sports’ lockout, strike, holdout, or any other new way greedy players and owners can find to prevent us, the fans, from enjoying a full, asterisk-free season. And you can bet your bottom dollar, us fans would love to live in an asterisk-free sports world.

On the topic of betting bottom dollars: Pete Rose, in many ways, personifies the asterisk, a walking asterisk, if you will. He has become the victim of an opinionated asterisk, possibly the worst kind of typographical symbol there is. Bud Selig has sort of made it his life mission to keep Charlie Hustle out of The Hall, which makes me wonder: “Does Bud have a running bet with someone somewhere on an over/under for years it’ll take to get the all-time hits leader (among many other records) into Cooperstown?”

“Dive in head first. Like Pete Rose.”

Although Bud’s not alone: On February 4, 1991, the Hall of Fame voted formally to exclude individuals on the permanently ineligible list from being inducted into the Hall of Fame by way of the Baseball Writers Association of America. Rose is the only living member of the ineligible list. Players who were not selected by the BWAA could be considered by the Veterans Committee in the first year after they would have lost their place on the Baseball Writers’ ballot. Under the Hall’s rules, players may appear on the ballot for only fifteen years, beginning five years after they retire. Had he not been banned from baseball, Rose’s name could have been on the writers’ ballot beginning in 1992 and ending in 2006. He would have been eligible for consideration by the Veterans Committee in 2007, but did not appear on the ballot. In 2008 the Veterans Committee barred players and managers on the ineligible list from consideration.

What’s the BFD here? It’s not like he was betting against his team and then throwing shit intentionally. “I bet on my team every night. I didn’t bet on my team four nights a week. I bet on my team to win every night because I loved my team, I believed in my team.” Those sound like the words of a competitor, someone who truly cares about winning, a real gamer. Why shouldn’t he make a little dough on the side? I mean, MLB players’ salaries barely allow one to scrape by, so by all means…

“Do you wanna know the terrifying truth or do you wanna watch me sock a few  dingers?”
-Mark McGwire to Bart Simpson

We are all tired of performance enhancing drugs taking over the sport we love, hijacking the headlines. When I look at the list of baseball players I grew up watching who are now all but blackballed from ever receiving the slightest bit of consideration to top anyone’s HOF ballot, let alone make it in,  it brings a heaping pile of bullshit on fire to my front door. Absolute flaming bullshit. I’ll always have Ken Griffey, Jr. and Frank Thomas though…

Guys have been cheating the game for ages, but now that we’ve evolved into drug-taking, performance enhancers, now you want to blow the whistle? The eligible players on this year’s ballot is mind-blowing when you step away and realize that most, if not all, will remain Cooperstown outsiders…possibly forever. Bonds. Sosa. The Rocket. Piazza. Big names, and that’s leaving out perennial snubs McGwire, Palmeiro, and the rest of the renounced hardball heroes turned ‘roid ragers. Barry Bonds has more to worry about than asterisks, though. By the way, can someone explain to me how the fuck Royce Clayton found himself onto the ballot?

The steroid and human growth hormone, performance enhancing goes far beyond baseball and stretches into the world of track and field, football, the Olympics, and the, wait for it, Tour de France.

Lance Armstrong: what a let-down after so much build up and feel-goodery. The man beats cancer like 200 times, takes over a French-dominated, absolutely enduring event and hope is restored to the humanity of sports. Then it all comes crashing down amongst allegations of PED peddling. Really, Lance? You? Say it ain’t so! Marion Jones gets an asterisk, jail time, AND community service. She was dubbed the fastest woman alive, but she has been stripped of her medals won at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. I’m sure she would have been just fine with an asterisk next to her name in history, but the asterisk only has so much power. We could all learn a thing or two from LeBron James and Pete Rose: just hustle and work hard to get where you’re going. You don’t need to shoot steroids in your butt.

*Late Game Not Included

Since We Last Spoke: Brian LaHair has become The Babe reincarnated in Cubbie Blue, Josh Hamilton went on a binge (the home run hitting kind, not the other kind), NATO has begun its takeover of our fine city, President Obama endorsed gay marriage, and we’ve achieved peace in the Middle East. Well, maybe not the last one, but while we’re fantasizing about things that never happened but should…

…The Bulls just swept the listless, overmatched, lazy defending, inconsistent, bite-off-more-than-they-can-chew-by-saying-they’d-rather-see-The-Bulls-in-The-Playoffs Philadelphia 76ers, and they’re up 2-0 against the obviously aging Boston Celtics. Doug Collins has pulled out the last of his receding Silver Fox coiffure trying to figure out how to stop reigning MVP Derrick Rose from shredding his entire team en route to averaging a triple double for the series. The few Sixer fans who’ve bothered to show up for the two games at Wachovia Center chanted, “MVP, MVP!” every time Chicago’s finest stepped to the free throw line to put the nail in the coffin of this clearly inferior team. Luol Deng fed off of D-Rose’s championship tone setting play, and he showed why he was an All-Star earlier this year. Joakim Noah tore up the court the way only he can. He embarrassed the hell out of Spencer Hawes at every opportunity. 

I know this was a shortened season with more likelihood for injury and setbacks, but damn! This was simply ridiculous. There will forever be an asterisk linked to whoever claims Larry O’Brien this year, but this really felt like Da Bulls’ year. For real. Legitimately. The same feeling is probably being felt by Oklahoma City or Miami or (yet again) San Antonio natives this year, too. Well, go ahead and marinate on this: take Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden off of the Thunder. Remove LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh from the Heat roster. Timmy goes down along with Manu and Tony? Hell, take the top three players from any contender, and they instantly become candidates for the lottery. 

Fuck the 2012 NBA season. Derrick Rose may never be the same again. A torn ACL takes away a leaper’s leap and a cutter’s cut, especially a 6’3″ point guard’s ability to explode to the cup the way Derrick does (did?). No one wants to hear this, and I guarantee he feels worse than anybody about the whole situation, but it bears mentioning that without Derrick the Bulls might not ever get back to their championship level with Thibs’ current core. 

Anybody remember Penny Hardaway by any chance? Exactly.

But it has been a depressing season this year for Chicago sports. Not the traditional “our teams suck” brand of depression. It’s the brand of depression that involves high expectations, championship-caliber ball being played and then injuries and unforeseen circumstances taking over the fate of a season. The window in professional sports gets smaller and smaller for franchises, and the Bulls’ window might have just slammed shut with one snap of a kneecap. The same happened with the Bears this year. And the Blackhawks. 

Which brings me to a very important existential question: is it better to have loved and lost or never to have loved at all? The sports version of that conundrum boils down to this: is it better to have a great team and have it injure itself before potential gets realized or just to have sucked all along. Maybe we should round up a gang of Cleveland Browns or Charlotte Bobcats (sorry, Mike) fans to gain some perspective into the world of sucking. Or we can just take a cue from one of our baseball teams, and just, oh my gosh, I can’t believe I’m saying this…
…wait till next year.

The SaniTERRYum X: A Call to Chicagoan Arms

Drinking Bell’s Oberon, munching on El Ranchero chips with salsa, and watching Kyle Korver and my Bulls outhustle and beat up on the annoying New York Knickerbockers, it’s difficult for me to be mad at much. But I’m mad at New York. I always have been. I’m not totally sure why. I have a great time when I’m there. It has a ton to offer. The faithful hatred probably has everything to do with my sense of pride for my hometown of Chicago, and us getting the shaft in comparison to The Big Apple. That being said, nothing is more gratifying, sports wise, than a victory over New York and the Knicks. 

There was something redeeming in not only beating the Knicks last night but the way we beat them in every facet of the game that showed how difficult it will be for whoever we face in the playoffs to beat us in a seven game series. 25-5 advantage on second chance points. 51-33 on the boards. Kyle Korver and Company diving for loose balls. Rip Hamilton is not only playing, but he’s balling and dipping into the fountain of youth a bit. DRose or no DRose, we’ll need sustained efforts similar to last night’s W to advance deeply in this year’s playoffs. The Knicks will barely sneak in and be promptly eliminated. 

Carmelo Anthony does not deserve the calls he gets from the refs. His skill level is high, but since coming into the league, he has done more whining than winning. He doesn’t strike me as someone who respects the game. He’s an individual scorer who ends up being a detriment to team goals. Tyson Chandler is still the same player he was when he wore number 3 for us just with a bigger bank account now. Amar’e Stoudemire is a seven footer who doesn’t play defense or rebound (?), and his health is a big question mark. I really hope we square off at The Garden and the United Center in the first round, so the Bulls can expose them for what they really are: a bunch of overpaid, underachieving assholes. What’s the over/under on time it takes for benches to clear and punches to land in that series? Beyond an impending sweep of the Knicks later this month though, I want to know who the better sports town truly is. 

Excluding the Yankees (who I’ve always actually been a huge fan of) and taking the high road on expletive usage, the time has come to run a full-on analysis of Chicago vs. New York sports successes…and failures. I have always been somewhat of an antagonist when it comes to first and second city relations, but I’m setting my Napoleon Complex aside to determine if we here in Chicago even deserve to be in the discussion, let alone take over all you New Yorkers. 

For me as a fan, championships are all that matter. Playoff appearances are nice, but no one remembers anyone but the ultimate champion. As I said before, we’re going to take the Yanks out of the equation here, because that’s really not fair. They’re the most storied franchise in all of sports. Here we go though, let’s count the championship banners: 

New York Mets: 2
New York Baseball Giants: 5
Brooklyn Dodgers: 1
New York Football Giants: 8
New York Jets: 1
New York Rangers: 4
New York Knicks: 2
New York Islanders: 4

As you can see, New York’s numerical population gives them a slight advantage having 3 (4 counting the Yankees) baseball teams, 2 hockey teams, and 2 football teams. Even though they have had almost double the sports teams as us, New York’s output is a total of 27 championships…exactly as many as the Yankee Empire has accumulated over the years. This isn’t coincidence. There’s no such thing. 

And now, The Chi:

Chicago Bulls: 6
Chicago Blackhawks: 4
Chicago Bears: 8
Chicago Staleys: 1
Chicago Cardinals: 2
Chicago Cubs: 2
Chicago White Sox: 3

26 total championships for us here in Chicago. Always coming up one short to The City That Never Sleeps. So it’s agreed then, we shall stop sleeping, Chicagoans. Take a cue from Kyle Korver’s performance last night, and hustle 24/7. We’ve got some catching up to do, Chicago. 

Ah, fuck it. Nevermind. This is a battle I’ll never win…

ALL THE KIDS WITH THEIR PUMPED UP KICKS

While watching the championship game between Kentucky and Kansas the other night, I had several revelations. Kentucky was sporting 4 or 5 future Lottery Picks. Kansas probably 1. Kentucky won the game before halftime started. Bill Self is annoying. Coach Cal knows what he’s doing, and he’s doing it well.

Another revelation: with all four teams in the Final Four being from our neck of the woods, the Midwest truly is the place to be for basketball. All four teams in this year’s Final Four were from the Midwest. I know I probably won’t get much push back from most folks reading this, considering our location and our love for our hometown, not to mention the Midwest as a whole. Seriously though, Louisville, Ohio State, Kansas, and the net-cutting, champion Kentucky Wildcats and South Side Perspectives product Anthony Davis represented the Mighty Midwest to the fullest. Coach Cal finally got his title, and he’s catapulted dozens of one and dones to NBA stardom. Good for him. Good for his kids.  
 
When it comes to the Midwest basketball-wise, Indiana alone is sort of a roundball Mecca for Youth hoopers. New York’s Rucker Park for street ball yes, but the state of Indiana for true hoop dreams. The Hick From French Lick says enough for the Hoosier State. Larry Bird may have become Larry Legend in Boston, but his roots are firmly planted in the Midwest. Michigan is not short on talent either starring Magic Johnson, George Gervin, Chet Walker, The Fab Five, Michigan State, The Bad Boys, and Dave Debusschere. Chicago has also produced some of the best basketball talent the world has ever known. Starting with reigning MVP Derrick Rose (HE’S FROM CHICAGO, in best Stacey King voice), the list grows and grows with the likes of George Mikan, Isiah Thomas, Dwyane Wade, Maurice Cheeks, Michael Finley, Jerry Sloan, Doc Rivers, and Mark Aguirre all hailing from Chicago(land area). The Bulls’ ridiculous run in the ’90s solidified Chicago as one of the greatest basketball cities, and we’ve become synonymous with the game’s greatest player ever, one Michael Jeffrey Jordan.

So what does mean more in the great debate over what is the best sports town? Is it how many legends hail from the area or does it depend on professional success? Seriously, I’m asking you. We take a certain sense of pride in our pros in every sport who hail from here, but we certainly don’t root for them when they face off against our teams. If our seasons are over and we have nothing left but local products to cheer on, we’ll take it. But seriously, Midwest is Best.

Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan. What other region of the country can boast that type of pedigree? 
KIDS IN THE HALL
As Chicagoans, we’ll always have our rivalry with New York. If they had the opportunity to burn down the city and start over the way we did, maybe they’d have installed alleys in every borough to store their fucking garbage instead of piling it up on the streets for all to enjoy. We suffer from the Second City Syndrome, but why? We think our food is better than theirs. We have two baseball teams just like them, albeit 25 championships less. Our neighborhoods are cool. Our art scene is emerging. We love our Bulls. We hate the Knicks. This is one of the few things we shared with Reggie Miller over the course of his career. Now he’s a Hall of Famer representing the Midwest on the professional level. Love him or hate him, he’s arguably one of the best three point shooters to ever hit the hardwood. That 30 for 30 on him is classic as hell. I’m surprised Spike Lee hasn’t hit the Twitterverse to express his opinion on Reggie’s upcoming induction. He obviously thinks it’s fine and dandy to do so to advertise what he thought was George Zimmerman’s address. Twitter, Facebook, all the social networking sites are for just that, networking and being social. Not to call a fucking lynch mob to some 70something couple’s house by mistake. A Chicagoan would never to that (through Twitter, that is). We’re gangsters here in The Chi. We handle our biz the old fashioned way. Seriously though, how did that old couple not go completely ape shit over the ordeal Mr. Lee caused them? Who does he think he is?! Besides being a sub-par film director, what has he really done other than provoke visiting superstars while patrolling courtside of Madison Square Garden? 
And who do we Midwesterners think we are? Well, politely of course, I think we’re the best pool of basketball talent in the country. Alright, New York. We’re ready to hear your argument…