" That's just the sort of blinkered, Philistine Pig ignorance I've come to expect from you non-creative garbage!"

John Cleese

Monday, June 30, 2008

I Knew It!!

I kind of had my head turned and didn't see it clearly at the time. My friend and I both went "Did he just flip off..?" and then we drank more beer and quickly forgot about it. But I thought that's what I saw!

Observations From US Cellular Field

I was gonna do another Jay post but I just don't have the strength. He is calling for calm today however. Despite last weekend him crowning the Cubs the greatest team in baseball. This weekend? Don't get all worked up over nothin'...It's funny how the fans of the team on the receiving ends of ass whompings in this series always call for everyone to "not get carried away" after the games.

Before the game I walked right past the one and only Joe Morgan. What an opportunity to rip into the worst broadcaster in baseball. But, alas, thought better of it.
Anyway, onto the game last night. Sat about 6 rows from the back of the upper deck. You know, the same upper deck people like Mariotti claim is one bad step from a nose first dive into home plate? (It's not.)
It was as if they took a sample of what sucks about Cub fans and what sucks about Sox fans and put them in my immediate seating area. It was quite interesting.
Cub fans - 5 above average attractive yet dumb as a bag of hammers girls with their cute little back packs (?). Asked one of them to name the Cubs starting pitcher (all she had to do was look directly in front of her to the gigantic scoreboard that had his name in big shiny letters). Couldn't.
Asked the other to tell me what the score was (don't look!) in the 4th inning. Couldn't.
One of them only got interested when Derek Lee came to the plate. The other 99% of the game? Completely uninterested. Wow.
4 Drunk frat boys (2 of which were with 2 of above) who proceeded to say nothing except "Boo!" and random shouts of "Cubbies!!!" or something to that effect. They even booed free ice cream. Seriously.
1 Vince Vaughan lookalike talking smack- gave a few gang symbols (for all the hardcore gangstas in Lakeview) and whatnot. Stood the whole game. Despite being completely ignored by even his own company, still looked around as if his quip was the funniest thing ever. Finally gave up in 7th and went down to the bar.
Sox fans - 4 fatter than all get out Italian lunkheads who kept referring to the Cubs fans as "fags" and yelling "Go back to Boys Town!" and whatnot. Probably haven't ever ventured past 47th Street and are most likely secretly gay themselves. A couple of idiots actually had shirts saying something about the Gay Pride Parade. Embarrassing.
2 South Side hardcore "ladies" (these particular idiots were one section over from me so I only observed this form a distance) who took cursing to new heights. Drunk before first pitch. Completely berates the Cub fans sitting two rows in front with clever heckles of "Cubs suck!" and "Go back to Wrigley, assholes!". Yes, classy all the way. Proceeded to light up at least ten cigarettes during the game before security told them to stop. It was then greeted with a "can't even fucking smoke outside at a ballgame! What the fuck?!" All within earshot of a guy there with his 3 small kids.

And then the inevitable trash talking all the way down the ramps.
As far as the actual game, there are a few observations.

Bobby Jenks has been shaky lately. On Saturday he gave up a lead off double to Lee and got out of it and last night he was helped out by a line shot to Swisher and really awful base running by De Rosa. Before all this he was walking guys and getting out of self inflicted jams. I'm a tad worried that he's been figured out.

The Sox's inability to get runners in without hitting a home run is getting silly. Once again, 2nd and 3rd nobody out and nothing. Every run scored last night was via a homer. It's gonna bite them in the ass.

And the Tigers and Twins will come back down to Earth now that they don't get to play the NL West every damn game. Hmmm....kinda sounds like the Cubs.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Brothers and Sisters Coming Together

From Busted Coverage:

A rundown from the guy who taped it:
The Sox fan near the pole was talking trash from the beginning, so in the 4th inning he started talking about the guy in the Thome Jersey’s “family”…then an old guy stepped up and off they went…

A good minute goes by with no security, the guy gets owned by a bunch of cubs and sox fans.

he still fights the security…continues struggling, as his eye is black and swelling shut, they handcuff him throw his shirt over his head and get him out of there.
I thought the guy in the Ramirez jersey was going to start taking off his belt.

Phil Watch: The Trend Is Not The Cubs' Friend

Editor's Note:  There will be no discussion about the Angels allowing no hits to the Dodgers and LOSING THE FUCKING GAME!!!!  Ever.  I'm dangerously close to becoming a meatball Angels fan that demands they go get Teixeira.

Anybody who's lived within 500 miles of Chicago for their whole life understands the peculiar Cub fan mindset.  

When things aren't going well, they're cute in their badness.  When things are going well, they're so absolutely blind to their team's shortcomings that any voiced concern about anything immediately brands you as some sort of interloper trying to poo-poo on this fairy tale season.

I give you exhibit A.

At Christo's restaurant, a place about 10 blocks from Wrigley, Cub fans abound.  Not the staff, just the customers.  Last night, the fans in full Cub regalia came in droves.  I left for work with the game tied at five in the fifth so I was curious how the game turned out.  

One four-top with two people in Cub jerseys couldn't tell me who hit the homer to put the Sox up, insisting it was Ramirez while another went on a spiel about Fukudome, pronouncing his name 'Koo-Sake' numerous times.  I figured they probably watched it at a bar in the neighborhood, drank a few and lost their focus.  Nope.  Ticket stubs came out.

And, while it's an old and tiresome tale, this shit happens all the time.  

Phil attempts to inject some level of concern about the Cub pitching staff in a column today.

It's not a bad attempt (well...it pretty much is), but BRE can do it better.

Let's get started.

Headline:  Cubs pitching putting damper on all-Chicago World Series dreams


[note:  headline changed during the typing of this - now it's more reasoned]

From the BRE useless proclamation department, I offer this.

Chicago.  Can we please stop this shit?  It makes me think that a World Series championship for either fan base would only mean something if it happened against the other team.

By golly, these last two weeks have been chockablock with idiotic idiocy.

Lou Piniella, a full-time manager and part-time oracle, issued a proclamation late Saturday afternoon.

"The White Sox should win that division by a half-dozen games or more, to tell you the truth," Piniella said. "They have everything you need. Everybody looks at the Cubs … look at the White Sox."

Book it, Sox fans.  Lao-Tzu has spoken.  

Imagine, if you can: An afternoon game at U.S. Cellular Field in October, then a short ride on the Red Line to Wrigley Field for a night game. Madness on both sides of town, times 21.

Phil is channeling his inner-Carol Slezak.

At least he hasn't proclaimed Chicago the center of the baseball universe as Mariotti did today.

It's pretty cool they're both in first place and it makes following baseball in the city distinctly unboring.  But let's tone down the superlatives, please.   
On Mariotti, can we also stop saying ESPN stands for the Eastern Seaboard Programming Network?  It's a stupid-ass joke that every mouth-breathing sports fan says outside of the East Coast.  It wasn't that funny 15 years ago.  

No, the Cubs' manager didn't guarantee that the White Sox would run away with the American League Central. But after losing for the second day in a row on the South Side, Piniella did say the Sox "should" win easily over the likes of Minnesota, Detroit and Cleveland. That leaves his Cubs to take care of their business over the second half of the season. And the Cubs are a mortal lock to protect the lead they have had since May 11, right?

Cleveland?  WTF puts them into the equation?

Detroit, on the other hand, hit the .500 mark yesterday.  40-40.  Verlander's back to form (3.38 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP after a terrible April) and everybody's finally hitting.  But lest we forget, this nice little winning streak they've put together came against the malodorous AL West.  But they're going to hit their way back into this and Galarraga seems like the steal of the year.

And I'm going to make a prediction that will completely nullify any baseball authority I've acquired over these 35 years on this Earth.  The Twins and Royals will finish within five games of each other.  Book.  That.  Ha!

Most people, perhaps even Tony La Russa, Ned Yost and the others chasing them in the National League Central, believe they are the best team, by far. The Cubs have produced 5.5 runs per game, better than every team in the majors except Texas. Their pitching staff has a 3.88 ERA, third best in the NL. What do they have to worry about?

Tony 'Confucius' LaRussa has spoken, my friends.  Well, not really spoken but he perhaps did in Phil's head so it's relevant.

The Cubs are 16-12 since May 29, exactly one month ago.  Decent little record, right (in the parlance of Phil)? 

Here's how the Cubs have performed in June:

Pitching:  4.50 ERA as a team, good for 22nd in the league.  1.42 WHIP, good for 20th in the league.

Hitting:  12th in the league in runs in June.  Still in the top ten in most offensive categories but no longer in the top two in any of them, as they were in April and May.

Just a little trend to keep an eye on reflecting 1/3 of the season.  Probably more relevant when discussing recent trends rather than the last five games. 

For the first time this season, Piniella's pitching staff is in a mini-funk. Carlos Marmol is suddenly a problem. He has had some trouble throwing strikes, and one he threw Saturday wound up on the wrong side of the right-field bullpen wall, courtesy of Carlos Quentin.

As I typed just 2 1/2 minutes ago, not a mini-funk.  A 1/3 of the season funk.

And this is 'suddenly a problem'?  No.  This is marginally irresponsible misuse of Marmol.  Like Dusty misuse territory.  

Marmol used to be a starter in the minors so he's thrown a lot of innings before.  But a starter's routine is dramatically different from a reliever.  He's currently on pace to throw almost 100 innings and has thrown back-to-back games this year 15 times and pitched on one day's rest 13 times.  His delivery isn't conducive to the 'rubber-arm' moniker used for Linebrink or Scot Shields and you would expect his workload would increase if the NL Central remains close.

This is an issue.   

Rookie Sean Gallagher gutted out a 121-pitch effort Saturday, causing Piniella to say he was "proud" of him. But Gallagher coughed up two leads while allowing five runs in six innings, the fourth game in a row a Cubs starting pitcher has allowed at least four earned runs. That had happened only 21 times in the first 76 games, and never more than twice in a row.

Grinder alert!

Gives up 8 hits, walks 3, allows 5 earned runs and serves up two dingers but he's a gutty grinder channeling his inner-David Eckstein/Darin Erstad (lots of channeling going on today).

"We're scuffling right now," Piniella said. "We're not at full strength."

Zambrano's out.  That's it.  What does that have to do with the other four days Carlos wouldn't have pitched?

There's a sense that the Cubs think games shouldn't count if anybody's injured.  Part.  Of.  The.  Game.

It wasn't that long before the Zambrano injury that Piniella pointed out to reporters the Cubs' pitching staff wasn't as deep as people thought, and he seems to have been right. Without Zambrano and the invisible man, Rich Hill, the Cubs have Gallagher, Marshall and Jason Marquis at the back end of the rotation.

Drop an opinion now and then, Phil.  

Starting five:  Zambrano, Dempster, Lilly, Marquis, Marshall/Gallagher.

It's just not that good or scary?  

At the beginning of the season, we here at BRE said one injury makes this staff go from average to bad astonishing quick.

By not giving Hill a chance to get out of the first-inning mess he created at St. Louis on May 2, Piniella called attention to Hill's problems throwing strikes. He had walked four of the six hitters he faced in that game, throwing 27 pitches to get two outs, but the time before he had allowed only two runs in five innings at Colorado, walking four. Yet Piniella pulled the plug because Hill seemed too unsure of himself.

So Lou should have given him a chance?  Hill threw 353 pitches this season with only 194 for strikes, good for a 55% success rate.  That's bad. 

Thing is...he's never thrown strikes.

Background: Hill always had a knockout curveball, but his inability to throw strikes (6.3 walks per nine innings) held him back in his first three seasons as a pro. The light turned on in 2005, which he credits to improved mental focus. Hill led the minors with 13.4 strikeouts per nine innings and made his major league debut.

Weaknesses:  For all his progress, Hill didn’t throw strikes when he joined the Cubs and big league hitters took advantage. He needs to trust and use his changeup more ofte
It's called a track record.  

General manager Jim Hendry hoped Hill, an 11-game winner in 2007, could get himself back together at Iowa, but instead he walked 28 in 26 innings. He's now on emotional life support at the spring training complex in Arizona.

He's missed.

Or the Cubs shouldn't have relied on Hill with no backup plan.  Oh, wait...they got Lieber.  It's a domino effect. The loss of Hill means Lilly and Marquis move up the chain.  That's not good.

Hendry is likely to go in search of starting pitching before the July 31 trading deadline. Among those who could wind up on his radar screen are Cleveland's C.C. Sabathia, Oakland's Rich Harden, the Los Angeles Angels' Jon Garland and San Diego's Greg Maddux.

Oh, JHC!!!!!!

Let's get a couple out of the way.  Garland isn't going anywhere because the Angels have nobody...I repeat, NOBODY...to take his place right now.  Escobar is ahead of schedule but any real gauge as to his effectiveness won't be known until after the trade deadline.  But Garland was drafted by the Cubs and if he came back, Phil would find it to be uh so cute.

And Maddux isn't coming back to the Cubs.  Not gonna happen.

The other two are intriguing but both will require a type-A prospect and a couple of low minors guys.  Beane or Shapiro aren't going to bite on Pie or Patterson because they're not stupid and Murton doesn't even enter the discussion.  So who would the Cubs give up?

Phil is officially a Cub fan.  He assumes either everybody else is a moron or wildly overvalues the prospects in the Cub farm system.

Phil's back, people.  I'm warm, fuzzy and just let out a little pee.

In the meantime, Piniella can take some comfort in those 93- and 94-m.p.h. fastballs Gallagher was blowing past White Sox hitters after his pitch count had climbed above 100. He probably slept well.

Gallagher threw hard, which was neato to watch.  Oodles of pitchers, including many average-to-bad pitchers, throw harder later in the game than they did at the beginning of the game.  It's commonly referred to as the 'stretching-out process'.  8 hits, 3 walks, 2 homers, 5 earned runs in a 6 inning, 121-pitch outing.  How does that make anyone sleep well?  It's just stupid to say that.  Is it just me?

"I knew I needed to last a little longer," Gallagher said. "After [giving up four early runs], I didn't see anybody in the bullpen. I said, 'This is my game.' "

It's never too early to start pitching your way onto a playoff roster.

If Sean Gallagher makes the playoff roster and is given anything resembling a significant role, the Cubs have issues and will not go far.  


Saturday, June 28, 2008

Saturday Salmagundi

Christo has been MIA for a bit this week as he attempts to do something resembling productive with his life. More news on that later - if it ever comes to fruition.

It's a Week of Exits

These internets lost a couple of great writers this week.

Will Leitch, the editor and co-founder of Deadspin, announced he's taking a real-life job at New York Magazine as editor-at-large.  Recently the target of the televised insane meanderings of one Buzz Bissinger, Leitch made Deadspin what it was - a satisfying diversion from and counterbalance to the über-serious world of sports.  He'll be missed.

Adam Peltz, writer of the Chicago MenuPages blog, also announced he's done with the silliness of internet food writing and going back to school.  Always a smart and funny look at the food world in the Chicago area, I've been reading the blog since its inception.  The guy could write and put the Trib and Reader food blogs to shame.  

And MLBTradeRumors is saying Billy Beane might be done as GM of the A's as early as the beginning of next season.  As an Angels fan, I gotta say...Thank God!  But to become a soccer GM?  And speaking of insane meanderings, who's Hawk going to hate on in the fifth inning of a blowout now?    

And Let's Do A Phil Watch

I knew he'd be back.  And I have a strange feeling tomorrow will be teeming with more silliness.

I think I figured out why he's been so inoffensive lately.  It's because he's been so damn boring.  It's been something akin to Ed Mundane talking about Jimmy Blinkensop waiting for the last bell.

Well, he's inching back to form today.  Nothing outrageous.  Just Phil doing his best rendition of a less bombastic Mariotti - saying the same thing about the Sox for 45,000th time, as if repetition makes it more true.  

Let's get started.

Kosuke Fukudome finally played a game at U.S. Cellular Field on Friday. Judging by some of the monstrous swings he took, it was a big day for him.

Cubs manager Lou Piniella talked about Fukudome's balance and "textbook" swing the first time he saw him take batting practice in Mesa. But against Jose Contreras and relievers Boone Logan and Nick Masset, Fukudome took some hacks that were so vicious they left him reeling around the dirt beside home plate.

Saw the game.  He's been swinging like that all year.  How has it changed?

The Sox eventually topped the Cubs' $48 million offer (reportedly going to $50 million), but by then general manager Jim Hendry had sold the Chunichi Dragons All-Star on becoming the Cubs' first Japanese import.

They're glad they did.

And on Friday, so were the White Sox

Only on Friday?  This is a non-issue.  It was very early on in the negotiations.  Fukudome said he didn't want to play for the Sox because he wanted to play right field and Dye was there.  Quit making it sound like it was some eleventh hour decision.

If Fukudome had come to the South Side, life would have been so different for both of Chicago's first-place teams—and not just because so many among the 39,132 at U.S. Cellular Field would have been cheering Fukudome, not confusing him with a vacuum cleaner.

See what I mean.  The crappy jokes are back.  It's a slow return to form.  And it gets better.

As Piniella said Friday, "There are a lot of ifs in baseball."

If the Sox had signed Fukudome, Nick Swisher wouldn't have been around to hit a grand slam and a double in Friday's 10-3 victory.

First, anybody else noticing that Pinella's quite the philosopher?  

Second, Phil believes in Chaos Theory!  If a butterfly flaps his wings in Peru, a tornado could happen in Iowa.  

Who knows?  If Fukudome was in the Sox lineup, the team may be 81-0 as well.  Same dipshit logic here.

The girls with the "Dirty 30" signs would have had to find another object of their affection, as he would still be in Oakland or wherever Billy Beane traded him.

Why is he mentioning Billy Beane?

The White Sox wouldn't have needed to give up Ryan Sweeney and their two best pitching prospects (Gio Gonzalez and Fautino de los Santos) to get him. GM Ken Williams paid heavy freight when New Year's Day passed and he found himself running out of options. He was under fire from his fan base for failing to land off-season targets Torii Hunter, Miguel Cabrera and Fukudome, among others, but still determined to build a contender around the aging 3-4-5 combination of Jim Thome, Paul Konerko and Dye.

Oh, Holy Mother of Gibbon Crap!  It's back!  Phil's back!  Here we go!

Now Ryan Sweeney's the crown jewel of the trade?!

Check the numbers, people.  What exactly would have Sweeney offered the Sox this year or the next five years that they don't already have?  He's basically a slap hitter who's had only 169 abs so far.  The Sox got Nick Swisher!  And cheaply!

Also, I didn't hear any Sox fans bemoan the failure of acquiring Cabrera, did you?

They're sixth in the league in OPS and fourth in homers.  I think they're okay without Sweeney.

So Williams swallowed hard and rolled the dice on Swisher, a first baseman-outfielder who never had driven in more than 95 runs.

Specious, specious, specious!

Swisher spent the bulk of his time with the A's in the two-hole, not exactly the ideal spot to drive in a buttload of runs.  Cripes!  Look this shit up.  Or watch baseball.  Either one works.  

While the 23-year-old Sweeney is hitting a soft .290 as Oakland's No. 2 hitter, the trade is doing exactly what Williams hoped it would. John Danks and Gavin Floyd have pitched so well that Gonzalez still would be in Triple-A (De los Santos underwent Tommy John surgery in May) and Swisher...

Soft is an understatement.  

And let's really give some facts here. 

Gio Gonzalez had a nice little season last year in an extremely pitcher-friendly league.  Some people mentioned this.  This year, he has a 5.51 ERA and a 1.51 WHIP in Triple-A in the notoriously hitter-friendly PCL.  He's walked 42 guys in 81.2 innings.  By every measure, he's been bad.

Santos' TJS adds oodles to the question marks everybody previously had about him.  But he's young.  Who knows?  But we can take him out of the equation until 2010 now.

So the Sox got Swisher, a 27 year-old outfielder/first baseman who is signed through 2011 at an extraordinarily cheap price for a banjo hitter and a guy who two teams gave up on and who is stinking up Triple-A right now.  

Looks like it was Beane who rolled the dice now.

Given that Swisher also is signed through 2011, at a savings of more than $5 million a year over Fukudome, Williams might be getting a bargain.


Is Phil trying to temper his previous blatherings on this issue?

Christo doesn't forget.

Orlando Cabrera never is going to be a bargain for the White Sox, not with Williams dealing Jon Garland to get him. But like the Swisher deal, Garland-for-Cabrera is providing an immediate dividend (it better, as Cabrera looks like a rental who will be gone after this season).

Where does Garland fit into this year's rotation, especially given his contract issues.

Again, I've seen every one of Garland's starts.  What does Garland have in common with Ricky Nolasco, Jeff Suppan, Tim Redding and Nick Blackburn?  They all have nearly the same statistics this year (and all have an ERA of 4.05).  He's just a guy who doesn't get injured and gives you 200 mediocre innings.  

Garland would have been a de-facto rental this year for the Sox as well.  No way they would have given him the four years and $12-$13 million he'll be looking for.

Cabrera won't sign with the Sox next year and I still think he's a better #2 hitter but as of this writing and how Danks and Floyd have pitched, the Sox have gotten the better end of this deal.  How can it possibly be argued otherwise?  Let's go to alternate universes where Uribe is playing short for the Sox this year.  How would that have gone?    

With Cabrera and Swisher, the White Sox have baseball's least likely first-place team. They aren't the same punch-less bunch that scored two runs in their three games against the Cubs at the Cell a year ago.

Phil.  Again.  You can't take back the verbiage you wrote at the beginning of this year.  And quit this 'immediate returns' bullshit.  It's not like Kenny signed a bunch of 48 year-olds to make a run this year.  Both trades benefitted the team immensely and they gave up little to do so.  

Like their stubborn general manager, they keep fighting back.

Mariotti-lite potshot.

Where have you gone, Andy Gonzalez?


Friday, June 27, 2008

Friday Isn't For Thinking

Whew. The world is safe again. Nothing to worry about now. Thanks, Kim!


Well, I guess we have to do this Cubs-Sox thing again this weekend. I really wish they would just play 3 times a year. One year at Wrigley, next year at US Cellular. The Sox, I think, have learned their lesson and shut their fucking mouths before this series, so it probably means a Sox sweep. Ha!
I've never seen a team more inept at hitting with runners in scoring position. It would be laughable if it wasn't so goddamn frustrating.

I love how they start the Friday game at US Cellular at 3 now. They started this about 8 years ago. Why? Because they don't want fans to be drinking all day and getting into fights at a night game. That's a nice image for Chicago fans: Drunken hooligans. We're so irresponsible and alcoholic/violent assholes, we can't watch the first game of the series on tv (if we work 9-5) because of this.

Don't believe me?

And the Twins are out of their fucking GORD!!
The stock market dropped 300 points yesterday, oil prices continue to rise, the Supreme Court said that a child rapist couldn't be put to death and basically upheld the 2nd amendment. On top of all this Obama and Clinton made nice (kind of) and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq continue to rage.
What was the most popular story on Cnn.com at 8:45 this morning?
Speaks volumes.
Hey! If you like gigantic crowds, overpriced food, sweltering heat, port-a-johns and drive by shootings The Taste of Chicago starts this weekend. I will avoid it like the plague for the 14th Summer in a row. Honestly, it's the most unpleasant thing I've ever been to. And I've been to Little Rock. They should just call it the "Stand and Eat and Sweat and Pay and Sweat and Bump Into People Fest" and be done with it. Par-ty!!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Mate's Musings

When I saw the Sox were going up against some guy named Eric Stults I knew they were screwed.
I never really realized how little I knew about the LA Dodgers.
And, Twins, you're not this good.
I played 16 inch last night at 9:30 again. Jesus. I'm so goddamn exhausted this morning when I got back into my car after stopping for much needed caffeine I proceeded to be so out of it, I sat and stared blankly at the front of the Citgo for about a minute. A guy waiting for the spot honked and stirred me out of my daze.
Speaking of the game, I made an "error" (not catching a screaming liner coming at me at 3rd while wearing no glove--ooops) that led to a big inning which cost us the game. Whatever. I really don't care but our pitcher (nice guy otherwise) was pouting and pissy at me and the other guy who dropped a fly ball earlier.
Are you fucking serious? First, it's fucking softball. It's not like your change up was working and you had guys "out in front" all night. You're lobbing a ball over a plate so a fat guy can drop a shoulder and see how far he can hit it. Second, in my day (insert Grandpa Simpson voice) a guy like that would suddenly find an "errant" throw hitting somewhere between his shoulder blade and neck. But that was playing baseball, a real sport. Not this half assed version of it.
It's not worth it. I guarantee there were a few guys on my team that went home all pissed off and whatnot. Me? Not so much.
Finally got around to seeing "There Will Be Blood" the other night. It's good. Well, Daniel Day Lewis is good. He does gray the line between intense and hammy a few times but all in all it was a damn good performance.
It was beautifully shot as usual by Paul Thomas Andersen but I realized halfway through that I've never loved any of his movies. I've liked all of them but never loved. He has a great movie in him I know but...'Boogie Nights"? Good but ripped off Scorsese alot. "Magnolia"? Meh. I've never seen "Punch Drunk Love" so I'll hold off. What else is there?
In my opinion, he's a great director but not a great writer. But he thinks he is. Anyway...
Can we please make a pact that after tomorrow we don't talk about the NBA and it's never fucking ending season until late September?!
I'll give you this week and into the weekend because I realize the draft is tonight. (Had to look that up actually) And I know the Bulls have the top pick. But, Jesus, the fucking Finals just got over and now we have the motherfucking draft?!
Honestly, that league needs to take a powder. Come back in the late Fall and leave me alone until then.
And, the proverbial pot calling the kettle...

Karl Rove, writing on the opinion page of The Wall Street Journal -- Obama is arrogant:
President Bush's former top political adviser continues to make the case that Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama is overly arrogant. "Many candidates have measured the Oval Office drapes prematurely," Rove writes. "But Barack Obama is the first to redesign the presidential seal before the election. ... This was an attempt by Sen. Obama to make himself appear more presidential. But most people saw in the seal something else -– chutzpah –- and he's stopped using it. Such arrogance –- even self-centeredness –- have featured often in the Obama campaign. ... (Republican contender John) McCain will be helped if he uses Mr. Obama's actions to paint his opponent as someone driven by an all-powerful instinct to look out only for himself. In a contest over who is willing to put principle above personal ambition and self-interest, John McCain, a war hero and a former POW, wins hands down. That may not be the most important issue to voters in electing a president, but it's something they will rightly take into account."
And, apparently, some people (morons) thought this was real.
I give up.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Beating A Dead Horse

Took a day off from everything yesterday. Had a sinus thing going on. Good times.

Anyway, I am absolutely not a fan of Mike North. His act got old a long time ago and I'm not really crying about his leaving the Score. Ten/Twelve years ago he could be funny and biting in a way but I think it's best that he stays off the air.

That said, could the Chicago sports print media be a tad bit more holier than though about this? Holy crap. And, of course, King Douchebag is at the forefront.
He's in rare form today. In usual self aggrandizing fashion, Jay attempts to make it about him.

It's like a science experiment with this fuckwad.

Here's Jay Mariotti, the harbinger of taste and class about Mike North:

Chicago a better place without North
End of controversial Score host's reign a victory for decency

June 25, 2008
BY JAY MARIOTTI Sun-Times Columnist
We only can hope that the end of Mike North is the beginning of decency, professionalism and couth in Chicago sports radio. (Did he really just print that with a straight face?)Oh, some desperate shop might hire him, hoping to capitalize on name recognition at the expense of dignity and wobbling ratings, (like WMVP-the station that shitcanned you twice) but so what. This is a day of civic celebration, a chance for sanity and lucidity to reign again in a racket filled with smut. (Barometer of class this Jay Mariotti)
The guy lost me when he used to host "Hug A Black Day," followed by "Hug A Jew Day," followed by "Hug A Hispanic Day." He proceeded to lose me more when he made a clown of himself at press conferences and engaged a police officer in crude trash talk in New Orleans, an incident I observed in the French Quarter with fellow Sun-Timesman Mike Mulligan at a Super Bowl. (I'm sure Mulligan really appreciates you throwing his name into this column, douchebag) Absurdly, his antics won him a $1.5-million-a-year deal at WSCR-AM, which placed him ahead of Ben Wallace and Cedric Benson as the most overpaid performer in local sports history. (Oh, burn!)

At last, his bosses came to their senses and sought to slash his salary in half, realizing his quarterly numbers didn't begin to justify his wage and his public-relations messes. He rejected the offer last Friday. It was the best favor North ever has done for his hometown, prompting CBS Radio to yank the contract and leave him without work.
This is what happens when visionary radio executives (I thought they were idiots) pull a schmo out of a hot-dog stand and turn him into a talk-show host. (Who proceeded to double the station's ratings) They dumb-down the city's intelligence quotient,(Oh, for the love of..it's sports radio!) narrow its vocabulary to a ninth-grade level and allow insensitivity to reign. (How many columns have you mentioned Steve Bartman, Jay?)Remember the day when he mimicked brain-damaged Terri Schiavo in her final hours? (No)It was typical of North's imbecilic attempts to survive in the morning-drive market, a colossal mistake by Score executives who thought he could talk politics and hard news. Hell, he had enough time earning credibility on sports through the years. Eventually, his product-of-the-streets act was exposed as demeaning to the city(by Jay and Teddy Greenstein), and the listeners tuned him out, opting for a national alternative in America's most parochial sports town. (Is this a reference to Mike and Mike?)
Mike North, voice of Chicago?
Only if we're the dopiest city in the land, which we're not. (We have you as a columnist so I'll defer judgment on that one)
On his Web site Tuesday night, (Jay's version of research--God forbid he calls North--hell, even Slezak did that)North hailed his long career at the Score as a triumph. "I didn't get a chance to say goodbye so here goes," he wrote to his listeners. "I wanted to say my 16 1/2 years with the Score were awesome. When I was on the air, it was unreal. To be able to entertain, have fun and sometimes get serious ... well you never knew what would happen on a daily basis. I want to thank all the listeners and callers who not only laughed at me but with me."
Problem was, no one laughed at the end. We just cringed, especially the day when he and Ozzie Guillen -- the only guy in town with a bigger mouth (Ah, I was waiting for an Ozzie reference) -- locked horns during North's show on the White Sox' flagship station. When the Blizzard called in and showered North with expletives, angry that the host was supporting A.J. Pierzynski on a day when backup Toby Hall was in the lineup, North fired back and told Guillen to watch his language. This would be the sports equivalent of George Carlin duct-taping Chris Rock's mouth. (A Carlin reference, how timely)"Hey, Ozzie, clean up your mouth. Clean up your damn mouth when you're talking on the radio and talking to me," North shouted. "Have a little respect, all right? Don't go talking to me like you're talking down to somebody. Don't you ever talk down to me. Don't ever talk to me like I'm some ... Yeah, you'd better hang up the damn phone."
It happened last summer. And it will be remembered as the day North lost his leverage.( I remember it as the day North yelled at Ozzie) Before then, he was enabled by Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, who appreciated how a street kid like himself -- North from Senn High, Jerry from the same Brooklyn high school as Al Davis (hmmm) -- battled some of Reinsdorf's media enemies. (Hard on for Reinsdorf getting larger)But when North went after the Blizzard,(Blizzard! That's great!) Jerry's beloved manager, he seemed to lose footing at a station where the program director's basic job is to shine Reinsdorf's shoes and serve his every whim. It also didn't help North that he was slurring ethnic groups at a time whenReinsdorf was working as co-chairman of Major League Baseball's Equal Opportunity Committee. When the Sox were serving diversity by employing an African-American general manager and a Latin manager, North was on the team flagship angering the Asian community.
The HBO crew interviewed me as part of an HBO special on the sports media. (Oh, something about Jay! Shocker!)When the producers came to town and taped North, he thought he would be featured positively among the nation's leading talk hosts, as he told the Sun-Times' Bob Feder. Little did he know they were coming to depict him as a national embarrassment. ( I saw this. I really don't think Jay watched this other than his parts)The HBO crew came to interview me about the ills of local sports radio, and every time one of my comments was run during the show, it was accompanied by North's ill behavior. (Nope he didn't. Man, is this guy fucking delusional)If he didn't know it was over then, he should have.
What's sad is that North, deep down, has a heart somewhere. He devotes countless hours to charity. He loves dogs. His wife is a sweetheart. So why turn into such a cold-blooded lout on the air? It's one thing to criticize the local sports teams, which he did when it was convenient to his bank account and political agenda. But he was cruel and ignorant when it came to race, like a caveman from the last century who never evolved with the times. (It was shtick, Jay. Shtick.)Michael Holley, a prominent African-American writer and sports-talk host in Boston, spent a brief time in Chicago as a Tribune sports columnist. To this day, he is stunned by North's racial viewpoints and says he couldn't survive in many other towns. (Quote? Oh..)
So why did Chicago tolerate him for 16 1/2 years? And why would another station possibly hire him? Because radio executives generally are idiots (name calling! But North is the classeless one)who abandon common sense and good taste in their hunger for ratings. (Veiled shot at WMVP--if you recall fired Jay...twice)Why do you think Don Imus landed another gig after his "nappy-headed hos" furor? A desperate station, WABC-AM in New York, shamelessly wanted to attract a few listeners to an Imus comeback. That backfired Monday, when Imus went down the crooked racial path again -- after all those weepy and sensitive apologies to the Rutgers women's basketball team -- with a regretful commentary about Pacman Jones' run-ins with the law.
"What color is he?" Imus asked.
"African-American," he was told by sportscaster Warner Wolf.
"There you go. Now we know," Imus said.
He claims he was trying to defend Jones, via sarcasm, as a victim.
"What people should be outraged about is that they arrest blacks for no reason," he said Tuesday. "I mean, there's no reason to arrest this kid six times. Maybe he did something once, but everyone does something once."
Please. If Imus didn't have a lengthy record of racism, homophobia, anti-Semitism and anti-humanity, he might have some credibility. Truth is, he should be nowhere near a microphone.
Nor should Mike North, for that matter. I'd like to think the market has learned from its 16 1/2-year mistake. (Wow)I'd like to think no radio programmer will repeat the mistake. For now, I will listen to replacements Mulligan and Brian Hanley talk about sports -- sports! (You might wanna try that, too, Jay)-- and cling to hope.

Yes, Jay's unbelivabe ability to make every column and story in town about him is seeping through this little shitburger today. And if you're gonna tie North into Imus you may want to try it before the 6th paragraph. Hey, did you go to Hollywood Upstairs Journalism College with Slezak?

This is a guy who has such an inflated sense of himself that he hires security guards at Wrigley as if someone was going to go after him because of a fucking column he wrote in the paper. A fuckstick that has yet to go into a locker room and actually get a quote from a player this decade.

All complete with an Ozzie and Reinsdorf reference. Jay doesn't dissapoint.


UPDATE: Link to Jay's interview on Chicago Tonight. Smugness personified.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

North's Done

Over the five years I've been in Chicago, I've had the opportunity to listen to Mike North go from a caricature of a Chicago sports fan to a contrived, aging man desperately trying to hold on to some semblance of his former self.  

At times, it's been sad and marginally painful to listen to.  Other times, I've wanted the time spent back more than most patent wastes of time.

He's now done at The Score. 

From his website: 
I am now done at the Score. I met with management this past Friday and since I wouldn't accept the deal they offered; they told me I wasn't allowed to be on the air anymore. I didn't get a chance to say goodbye so here goes...

I wanted to say my 16 1/2 years with the Score were awesome. When I was on the air, it was unreal. To be able to entertain, have fun, and sometimes get serious... well you never knew what would happen on a daily basis. I want to thank all the listeners and callers who not only laughed at me but with me. I heard from a lot of you over the years, and good or bad, I always welcomed your comments. To do radio in my hometown at such a great station was an honor. To all the people I used to work with and I work with now, I say thank you. To the advertisers on my show and on the station who were always with me thank you for being there. Without you, there is no station. The sales staff at the Score was always second to none; we made some bucks together. Thanks to you guys too.

You'll be hearing from us real soon. Keep your eyes and ears open and stay tuned.

On behalf of Be-Be, Lucky, myself, and everyone associated with us, thank you once again.

Mike North
So there you go.  No more fake hysterical laughs.  No more fake race-baiting to garner attention.  No more forced banter.

He'll land somewhere.  Just not anywhere I listen.

And I'm okay with that.

It Was A Hoax.

Iiiiiiiitttttt was a hoax, a hoax, a hoax, hoax, hoax!!!!

To piggyback Mate's 'The Media Jumped The Gun' post, I bring you another example of absolute bullshit crap that passes for journalism these days.

See.  When you allow a buttload of 'News of the Weird'-type stuff to permeate throughout what is supposed to be a respectable news organization (in this case, every news organization) because it's kooky and odd and gets clicks and without even barely checking out the veracity of the claims, stuff like this happens. 

'Lost' Amazon tribe a hoax to raise awareness on logging

THE man behind photos of warriors from an "undiscovered" Amazon tribe that were beamed around the world has admitted it was a hoax.

Indigenous tribes expert, José Carlos Meirelles, said the tribe's existence had been noted since 1910, and they had been photographed to prove that "uncontacted" tribes still existed in an area endangered by logging, The Guardian reported.

Mr Meirelles, who was working for Funai, the Brazilian Indian Protection Agency dedicated to finding remote tribes and protecting them, said he found the group, recorded (sic) they lived, and planned the publicity to protect them from losing their habitat.

Mr Meirelles, 61, said the "chance encounter" that produced the famous photographs was no accident.

Click to read the rest of the story...

Mate asked 'Bullshit or Not?' and now we know the answer.  Unmitigated.  Bullshit.

And let's watch the coverage of this one.  $20 says it trickles out - most likely with a correction buried deep in the paper or most major outlets will wait until the weekend to report it.  It's what they do.

Okay.  I'm off my high-horse. 

Update:  This came across the wire last night and no major news organization outside Yahoo! has picked it up yet.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Media Jumped the Gun? No Waaay!!

So, the principal jumped to a hasty conclusion and CNN, MSNBC FOX News, CBS, ABC, Time and that ilk reported it as fact. Ladies and gentleman, evidence sample number 10,450 that journalism is dead in America.

Snarky BRE comments in red per usual.

Mass. mayor says no proof girls had pregnancy pact
By MELISSA TRUJILLO, Associated Press Writer
GLOUCESTER, Mass. - The city's mayor said Monday there is no evidence a group of young girls made a pact to get pregnant and raise their babies together, seeking to dispel an explosive theory put forth by the high school principal.
"Any planned blood-oath bond to become pregnant — there is absolutely no evidence of," Mayor Carolyn Kirk said Monday after a closed-door meeting with city, school and health leaders.
Conspicuously absent from that meeting was Gloucester High School Principal Joseph Sullivan, (no? Really?) who has not responded to repeated requests for comment after he was quoted last week in a Time magazine story saying the girls planned to get pregnant together. ( I still want to know how that works)
The mayor, who also sits on the school committee, said she was not comfortable having Sullivan at the meeting. (A crackpot at a committee meeting. Wow. That's just got comedy gold written all over it)
Kirk cited privacy concerns in refusing to answer many questions about the 17 girls who became pregnant this school year — more than quadruple the number who generally become pregnant as the school. (Please show these girls the joys of dry humping and finger fucking please?! Think of the children!!)
Kirk said she and Superintendent Christopher Farmer have been in touch with Sullivan, and that he was "foggy in his memory" (Yeah, I get that problem too when I'm caught in a fucking lie) about how he came to believe there was a pact.
"When pressed, his memory failed," Kirk said. (He hadn't thought it through yet went to the press with his theory--brilliant. God, you can't make this shit up.)
Authorities have talked to school and health officials who work most closely with the children and, Kirk said, "The people that worked with the children on a daily basis have said there has been no mention whatsoever of a pact." (Because kids tell their teachers everything)
Kirk said the spike in pregnancies is in keeping with similar spikes in other cities.(We're normally abhorrent! Hooray for us!)
Farmer said there was a "distinct possibility" that the girls who found themselves in similar, challenging situations later decided to "come together for mutual support." (Awww!)
He said the Time magazine piece did not distinguish between "a pact to become pregnant or a pact because we are pregnant." (That sound of a plane crashing into a cornfield? Time's journalistic ethics.)
Farmer also said it was clear some of the girls were not trying very hard not to become pregnant. (We used to call these girls sluts in my day. It didn't make the papers then)The principal had said some girls gave high-fives and planned baby showers while others were sullen if their pregnancy tests at the high school clinic came back negative. (Like sands in the hour glass...)
Farmer defended Sullivan saying, "I don't believe anyone has acted in particularly bad faith here." (Just stupidly and knee jerk)
Gloucester resident Annette Dion, a 45-year-old private music teacher, said school and city officials should have done more to find out whether the girls truly made a pact to become pregnant. She said denying such a pact existed is "pretty naive." (and cited no evidence to back her case up--well done)
"I don't think we heard the truth today," (okaay)Dion said, adding that pop culture has glamorized teen pregnancy and that movies and celebrity pregnancies do not give girls an accurate picture of parenthood. (this proves a pact was made how?)
"My personal feeling, my impression, is they probably talked and discussed and thought it would be cool to get pregnant together," she said. (wow. The Marriotti Theory is alive and well in Massachusetts)
Brendan Henry, a 17-year-old going into his senior year at Gloucester, said the attention surrounding the alleged pact has taken the focus off bigger issues facing young people, including school underfunding. (Is this kid wearing a turtleneck and have a soul patch?)Still, he did not doubt that a pact could have existed.
"It definitely sounds like something that would happen at Gloucester High School," he said. "It doesn't sound too far fetched at all." (Yeah, like all good fiction)


In conjunction with the not at all insipid Sun Times contest, we here at ther BRE have started our own contest: CHICAGO'S FATTEST FANS!
So, North Siders and South Siders, who do you feel has the most morbidly obese and unappealing fan base?

Phil Watch: I'm Quite Astonished!

It started a few weeks ago.  

A curious thing began to creep into Phil's text.  Heck, it even began to consume his entire columns.

I can only refer to this strange beast as something resembling...REASON.

His hyperbole had been dialed back, his dumb-ass prognostications were nearly non-existent and his pick of topics have been followed with a measured analysis clearly within the ballpark of a sane and rational human being.

In short, he's been readable.  With all the crap currently being written in town (see Mariotti's latest who, btw, apparently asked for a security detail in the Wrigley press box over the weekend), Phil's looking merely mundane instead insanely moronic of late.

A few weeks ago, during a particularly boring Phil Watch for me that nonetheless deserved a post, a clear feeling of redundant redundancy washed over me.  As he continued to repeat himself, I felt like the gamut of barbs currently stocked in my arsenal had been exhausted.  It was becoming less fun for me.  In a sense, Phil had begun to win the battle of attrition.  

Now he pumps out four columns over the weekend with a couple of short articles and a power ranking to boot that are only something a normal person would write.  Christo confused.

So as the last two weekends have shown, Phil Watch will now pick and choose their projects instead of poring over every word plugged in by Phil's fingers.

I still say he returns to form sometime soon.  Only nine days ago, he offered seven stupid-ass trade options for Griffey, so I have a feeling this is just a sabbatical for Phil.

To further back up Mate's Thome hatred, I give you his 2008 clutch statistics via baseballreference.com (click to enlarge):


Nice Fucking Weekend

Well. Get swept by the Cubs and lose George Carlin. Yeah, I've had better weekends.
Top that off with an Allegra/alcohol induced loopy fest and you've got yourself a full fledged clusterfuck!

First off, God bless ya, George. Here's one of my favorite bits from the classic "Carlin at Carnegie". About cats.

Now, onto some more depressing stuff.

A few people have asked me about my claim that Jim Thome has become the new Sammy Sosa and what I meant by that.

Well, by that I mean he's what I call a "12-1" guy. He gets his hits, homers and whatnot when the game is out of hand or at least well in grasp. He rarely gets a "big" hit anymore. Perfect example is Friday (the lone game of the series the Sox should've won) when Brian Andersen led off the 9th against Wood with a double (that should've been a triple) and Thome (why? the man hasn't bunted since the first Bush Administration) proceeded to pop up. Again. He's pretty close to worthless in the clutch. Nice guy. Good player but just an absolute gas can with runners in scoring position, unless the Sox are up by 4 or more.

As far as the other games go, the Sox were outclassed in every aspect of them. Hitting, pitching and coaching. Perfect storm. The Cubs are a different team at Wrigley. And one of the homers Edmonds hit HE didn't even think was going out. Watch it--he puts his head down in disgust after he makes contact. It was one of those games. Contreras was throwing lollipops that Christo and I could've hit hard. (Well, maybe not us but two men could!)

Last night's game was more of the same. The game was over when Vazquez gave up a double off the wall, er, I mean "homer into the basket" to Eric Patterson (?!). Lethargic, bored and dinosaur like. When the Sox lose they make all three look like ballet. And hitting into two tailor made double plays after getting runners on 1st and 2nd with one out in the first two innings really helped, too. Jesus. I need to bury this.

What's more troubling to me is that the Sox have lost 9 road games in a row. 9!! And they're going to LA for 3 starting tomorrow. And the Twins are a game and a half back. Ugh.


RIP: George Carlin

My world is smaller, sadder and more hollow today.  I'm feeling an almost metaphysical anger that George dared to die.  He was the best.  The Best.  And my worldview was absolutely influenced by him.  

Great Man.  Period.  

How to handle a heckler:

Friday, June 20, 2008

Jim Thome Has Officially Become Sammy Sosa

Can somebody get a fucking hit with runners in scoring position?! Jesus!!!

Friday Fatuousness

Before taking up Mate's challenge to actually read Mariotti's latest stool sample, I'd like to address something - something completely related to the Moron Wine Snob.

I work at a southern Italian pizzeria, as reader (s) of BRE know.  I won't get into the particulars but the place/owner has gone to great pains to make it unbelievably authentic - the man makes an incredible pie.  But with such things, we attract what seems to be the entire Chicago Italian community, which it fine.

What is not fine is the American hangers-on, a boorish and pretentious sort whose latest way to show their 'worldliness' is...Euro 2008.

I don't like/know anything/want to anything/am bored by soccer.  It's just what it is.  I tried for about 3 1/2 seconds in 1996.  Didn't take.

But with Euro 2008, an old breed of American soccer fan has resurfaced:  The Moron Soccer Fan.  

Now you would think I'm not qualified to make such a judgment, but curiously, I am.  Everybody is.  Anybody with a modicum of ability to sniff out bullshit is qualified.

As a baseball fan, I would rather lick a toilet bowl than talk baseball at any length with a Moron Baseball Fan.  And with Euro 2008, listening to the oodles of conversations at my tables puking out vague soccer references only tangentially related to a natural discussion, the self-conscious posing like they know what they're talking about is palpable.

Some seem to get it.  Most are putting on an act replete with a loud blustering normally reserved for, you guessed it, a Moron Wine Snob.

Really.  Doesn't this type of posing wear these people out?  It just seems like it would be so tiring trying to be something you're not.  All the prep time alone.


On special weekend, Williams shows no class

BY JAY MARIOTTI Sun-Times Columnist

I'd like to think he's just a pro wrestler at heart, a carnival barker having some fun, a prankster with no malice intended (I wish I knew what really happened between these two - the straight dope - because these types of intros only make it feel like Kenny gave Jay a noogie in front of all his friends). But when the subject is the Cubs, Ken Williams never has been a good-times guy. He is genuinely bitter (more annoyed, really.  Because it's stupid-ass bullshit) about the realities of Chicago baseball classism (keep perpetuating this, Jay.  It's important to keep the ball rolling) -- Cubs as the blueblooded phenomenon with the national identity and charming shrine, White Sox as the other team that no hotel concierge ever recommends.

So it shouldn't surprise us that Williams, on the eve of the first Cubs-Sox slapdown featuring both as division leaders, wound up and beaned Cubdom with yet another purpose pitch.

"It is so different. You might as well build a border, a Great Wall of China on Madison, because we are so different," said the Sox general manager, dabbling in the sociology of the rivalry. "We might as well be in two different cities. The unfortunate thing for me is it's a shame that a certain segment of Chicago refused to enjoy a baseball championship being brought to their city. The only thing I can say is, 'Happy anniversary.'"

How weird is that? How low is that, bringing up the 100-year plague (not a plague, just bad baseball)? And how hypocritical is that, given his role in the ongoing civic grudge? For years, Williams has positioned himself as an executive who encourages Sox fans to hate the Cubs and, thus, has contributed mightily to dividing the city. Now, he chides Cubs fans because they "refused to enjoy" the World Series title won by the Sox in 2005 (heck, toss a few White Sox fans on that pile)? He wants Sox fans to resent the Cubs and Cubs fans to respect the Sox (yes, that's exactly what he's saying)? And I thought Ozzie Guillen made no sense (double-noogie).

Oh, but it gets stranger. Williams was asked by Sun-Times beat reporter Joe Cowley if he ever would work for the Cubs. "That would be a betrayal," Williams said. "God, I would really, really have to need the job. Oh, wow, really need the job.

"Let me just throw out one question: What happens if we win another one before they win one?" (what is this, a fourth grade game of dodge-ball?  Is that some sort of trash-talk?)

Well, Ken, the Cubs still would be a global darling and the Sox still would be the second team in the Second City (oooohhhh, buuuuurrrrnnn), a distinction that won't change in any of our lifetimes. The Sox had their one chance to blow up the local culture by winning another championship in 2006, but they collapsed in the second half (and that was really the only goal for the Sox in '06 - winning over Cub fans), went dark last season and only recently have returned to respectability with their first-place surge in the shockingly weak American League Central (so it doesn't count). I've seen a lot more empty seats at U.S. Cellular Field, and while the Sox might make the postseason, they're clearly the auxiliary story as Chicago -- and America -- await the Cubs' fate in their dubious centennial (but don't repeat yourself, Jay.  It's only the one gazillionth time you've said that.  And America?  Get some fucking perspective.  You're beginning to sound as delusional as you think Kenny is).

Come on. How unfortunate is Williams' timing (.0001 unfortunate on a scale of 100.  You asked.)? We're experiencing a precious (precious?  step back from the overstatements please) slice of local history here, the amazing blur of both local baseball teams charging toward October, and the GM is picking petty fights (seems like reporters asked the questions.  You know, the thing you don't do anymore). As for his pained feelings about ever working for the Cubs, Williams might want to know that his crosstown counterpart, classy Jim Hendry, made arrangements Thursday for Guillen's family to have a suite at Wrigley Field. This after the Blizzard of Oz has called Wrigley "the worst field in baseball," complained about having to park his car one year at the Clark Street McDonald's and said "there's 20,000 rats running around." (IDK, I thought that shit was pretty funny and peppered with true truisms.  There's nothing charming about rats or paying $30 for parking in a McDonald's parking lot, is there?) Paralyzed like everyone else in Cubdom by Carlos Zambrano and his impending MRI results, Hendry has many more important issues on his plate than Guillen's mood. "I hope it’s not serious," manager Lou Piniella said Thursday night in St. Petersburg, where the Cubs were playing the Rays. "I hope we find out what’s wrong and we can take care of it in short order." (How does that fit into the argument?  Christo confused.)

In fact, Ozzie is the last guy Hendry should be helping. But he did anyway, which speaks volumes about the two organizations. This is why, as I've often concluded (twice a week for eight years), that it's easy to like the Cubs and easy to loathe the Sox. I'm not talking about the fans or players but the people at the top. And I say that not as a fan of either team -- repeat after me: media are not supposed to be fans (BULLSHIT!!!!) -- but as a neutral observer who continues to be amazed by the noxious fumes spread by Sox brass (wait a minute, didn't you pose a hypothetical question to Kenny a few paragraphs up using the word 'we' in reference to the Cubs?). Didn't they win the World Series three years ago? Didn't they beat the Cubs to the Holy Grail? Shouldn't the Sox be the ones who are sated, fulfilled and, thus, dignified about pulling off the ultimate act of oneupsmanship?

Maybe the Sox are what they are because of the way they act (What?  World Series Champions in the last century?). If you talk and think as if you're the lesser party, then maybe an inferiority complex becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy (as opposed to Jay's infantile posturing, of course.  He's the grown-up here)? Not once have I heard Piniella or Hendry say a bad word about the South Side franchise. Yet there was Guillen the other night, ridiculing Piniella. "It took them three weeks to find a [body] double for Piniella," said Guillen, referring to Lou's waist size. "For mine, you just go to a model agency." (humorless, miserable people always have a hard time distinguishing humor - just a joke, Jay.  Just.  A.  Joke.)

This isn't Ozzie being Ozzie, the company line.

Let's get it straight: This is a jerk being a jerk. If you want to like the jerk, fine, but that's what he is (that's the 1,300th time Jay's called Ozzie a jerk and, as you know, that's the threshold where such things become true in the world.)

"One thing about Sox fans, they show up and watch the game," said the Blizzard, moving on to a Wrigley vs. The Cell argument. "Some people go to Wrigley Field -- I'm not going to say everyone -- some people go to Wrigley Field from Europe and Paris and want to have a tour of the game. No one wants to have a tour here. They're legit fans."

Yep, I guess it's better to play in a concrete blob with empty seats than a world-famous sports destination filled with bodies (Mall of America is a world-famous destination filled with bodies.  That doesn't mean it's a steaming pile of crap).

It's hopeless to keep asking Williams and Guillen to stop talking. On their dying days, they'll still be yapping away in their caskets, complaining about the Cubs. It's so silly and juvenile, especially when you consider they're in first place and should be thankful the Detroit Tigers and Cleveland Indians are underachieving (and the NL Central is chockablock with teams reminiscent of the '27 Yankees?). Before Williams talks too boldly about winning a second World Series before the Cubs win their first, he might want to realize his offense is mysteriously hot-and-cold, his manager always is capable of a rant that disturbs the peace and it's still possible the Tigers and Indians will challenge in the second half. The Sox are a good club, nothing more, and they wouldn't fare well against the Red Sox or Angels (? - does he watch baseball - another example of my favorite team getting wholly undeserved praise simply because they play their games in the Pacific time zone) in the playoffs (And the Cubs are 7-11 against teams over .500, have played only 25% of their games against teams over .500, have a losing record on the road, have a rotation that I wouldn't bet $1 on and now their ace has a tweaky shoulder.  These aren't issues?).

When Williams claims he'd "really, really have to need the job" to work for the Cubs, I'd like him to update us on the Latin American scandal that doesn't make his administration look too good. A month ago, Williams had to fire his close friend, senior director of player personnel Dave Wilder, and two scouts after "violations of club policy and standards" were discovered amid a federal investigation of the scouting business. If this happened to get very ugly, you never know when Williams really, really might need another job (Jesus, but don't use your column to settle personal grudges, Jay.  Shouldn't your 'neutral observer' crap apply here as well?).

For now, if you don't mind, I'd like to focus on a miracle I never thought I'd see in small newspaper type -- CHICAGO atop one division, CHICAGO atop another division. The Cubs will let us do that this weekend. I'm not sure if Kenny and Ozzie have the ability to stay classy (There you go.  Jay sets the tone for classy.).

And set your Tivos.  Mariotti is on Chicago Tonight's Friday Night interview series with John Callaway this evening.  According to the Tribune, it's ugly.

On the Cubs-Sox series, the Tribune has a countdown count up.  A.  Countdown.  Clock.  By golly, this town can be brutally annoying.