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

John Cleese

Thursday, July 31, 2008


Just what the Sox lineup need: More slow fuckers who can't play the outfield.

I guess if he's off the bench and plays against righties I can see it. Maybe. Anythings better then Konerko right now. But...not really seeing this one. Maybe there's something else happening here. We'll see.

In other news, the softball season came to a merciful end last night with a 16-5 loss. I think I set the record for ground outs to short.

And then this...
Daley's plan makes more vehicles boot eligible
CITY HALL Aldermen balk at Daley's idea of locking up more scofflaws' cars to raise cash to help fill $400 million budget hole
July 31, 2008
Motorists with just two delinquent parking or red-light tickets would face the dreaded Denver boot, under a revenue-generating plan introduced by Mayor Daley Wednesday that infuriated Chicago aldermen.
Under the mayor's proposal, 208,273 vehicles would currently be eligible for the boot.

Now that Daley is scrounging for every available dollar to plug a $400 million budget shortfall, he wants to lower the bar even further -- to two tickets. The move would generate "tens of millions" of dollars in added revenue, officials said.
Aldermen from congested North Side and impoverished South and West Side wards reacted angrily to the mayor's squeeze plan, quietly introduced at Wednesday's City Council meeting.
"Two tickets is not somebody being a scofflaw. You can have two tickets easily -- and need an extra month to pay them -- just by overparking on one location on one day," said Ald. Helen Shiller (46th).
"That's a big mistake. It's too low, and it's too punitive. If you weigh the revenue against the impact on people, I don't think it's worth it. It creates a huge hardship. People need their cars. They're already limiting [their driving] as it is because of gas prices."
At a time when consumers are struggling mightily with layoffs, home foreclosures and skyrocketing food and fuel prices, the city has no business "adding to the hardship" with an unrealistically low boot threshold, said Ald. Freddrenna Lyle (6th).
"There are many people who have to drive and, try as they might, they get tickets because of density of the neighborhoods they live in. They miss that meter by two or three minutes and that's a ticket. It's not like people are purposely trying to violate the parking laws," Lyle said.
"For us to reduce the booting [threshold] from three to two will certainly provide the city with additional revenue because you'll catch so many more of our constituents. But, that's not the way we should try to balance the budget."
Police Committee Chairman Isaac Carothers added, "People are struggling already trying to make ends meet. To go to two tickets may be going a little bit too far. Two tickets is an awfully [low number] to come out and boot somebody's car. ... It just seems like we're doing so much to squeeze people when they're already in bad shape."
Revenue Director Bea Reyna-Hickey countered that Chicago can no longer afford to give a pass to drivers with two unpaid tickets.
"When we booted on five tickets, motorists hovered at four. Now that we boot on three tickets, motorists continue to not pay two tickets. This is significant revenue that, for the most part, is over one year old. We need to do all we can to collect it. We know it's in the tens of millions of dollars," Hickey said.
The lower booting threshold isn't the only hammer that City Hall wants to bring down on scofflaws.
Daley is also proposing that collection costs -- which range from seven percent on ambulance fees to 22 percent for parking tickets -- be passed along to ticketed Chicagoans who refuse to pay up.
Collection costs would be added to the tab after a grace period that ends Dec. 6. Parking and red light ticket scofflaws who sign up for payments plans would be excused from collection fees.
Pressed on the fairness issue, Hickey said, "Is it fair to all the other people who are paying their parking tickets that we continue to expend city resources sending repeated notices and incurring collection costs because they won't pay?"
Last year, Chicago booted 58,886 vehicles. The booting rate is up slightly this year -- to 29,719 through June 30 -- thanks to vans equipped with automated license plate readers.

Daley continues his imitation of Richard III. Seriously, at least Bush is gonna be out of our hair in a few months. But we idiots here in Chicago keep voting this douchebag into office with 65% of the vote.

Reap what you sew, Chicago. Reap what you sew.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Oh. My. God!

I got nothin' ta say...

Do We Still Call It a Newspaper?

A day after the front page read "Chicago's Best Beaches" the Sun-Times ignored the war in Iraq, the shitty economy and countless other news stories for the one that (and I think I speak for all of us) we really care about: Serena Williams and Common's impending wedding.

What will it be tomorrow?

"Sun Times Reporters Have Best Summer Ever!"

"Cutest Puppy In the World"

"Where To Get Drunk the Cheapest and Fastest"


"Angelina Jolie Eats Large Plate of Cabbage"

I'll be riveted.


I'm not a follower of college football recruiting. It's pointless really. There are so many "4 Star" recruits who end up riding the bench and "1 star" recruits who become starters in the NFL, that being a recruiting analyst is right up there with lifestyle or dating coach in bullshittiness. I refuse to get excited or discouraged about the decisions of 17 year old kids.

However, this is not a good sign for Iowa. Not at all.

All the off the field crap is coming up and biting them in the ass it seems. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe this kid is a douche bag. (Michigan State?! Really?) Maybe he wants to be further away from home. Maybe there's some shenanigans going on. Whatever.

But he apparently "dreamed" of playing for the Hawks. And now he's playing for the..uh, Spartans. (Again. Michigan State?! The one in East Lansing?! Ok. Whatever.) And what kid growing up in Iowa doesn't dream of wearing green and white and living in...East Lansing is it?
Bad sign.

Top Hawk recruit backs out
State's No. 1 '09 prospect going to Michigan State
Andy Hamilton • Iowa City Press-Citizen • July 29, 2008

David Barrent verbally committed to Iowa in May, selecting the college football program he grew up rooting for and visualizing a day soon to come when he would run out of the Kinnick Stadium tunnel wearing a black jersey and play in front of a sellout crowd.

Barrent will likely still get that opportunity to play in Kinnick Stadium, but it looks as if he'll be wearing a different uniform and coming out of the visiting locker room.
The highly regarded offensive lineman from West Des Moines Valley backed out of his commitment to the Hawkeyes and announced Monday that he's headed to Michigan State.
"He called me Sunday night and told me he was going to de-commit (and commit) to Michigan State," Valley coach Gary Swenson said. "We didn't talk for a long time on the phone. I said, 'Are you sure? What's behind this?' He said he's been having second thoughts, and Michigan State was his second choice all along and he wanted to make the switch."
Barrent, a 6-foot-8, 290-pound offensive tackle prospect, is ranked by Rivals.com as the top player in the state and the No. 7 player in the country at his position. His change of plans leaves Ohio running back Brad Rogers as the only known commitment in Iowa's class of 2009.
"After I committed, about a month or so ago, I started to have some reservations," Barrent told Rivals.com. "Then I opened up to my parents that I was thinking about changing my mind. After lots of talking and thinking, I just decided Michigan State was the better fit for me in the long run."
"I was surprised," Swenson said of Barrent's reversal. "I told him when he made his first decision that you have to go with your heart when you make a decision like this. He's really a thoughtful kid, he weighs out everything. Academics were really important to him in who he talked to and who he was looking at. I know he ranked Michigan State and their engineering program right up there."
The Spartans may have had another advantage. Michigan State offensive line coach Dan Roushar and Barrent's father, Rich, were college teammates at Northern Illinois.
Barrent originally picked the Hawkeyes over Michigan State, Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa State and Nebraska. He informed the Iowa coaches of his decision Monday.
"They weren't happy, obviously," Barrent told Rivals.com. "They just said that I had to do what's best for me. They left the door open for me to change my mind again, but I don't think that's going to happen. I have great respect for those guys and the program, but I felt this was the best for me."

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Absolute. Steal.

Kotchman's Sean Casey without the frump.

Decent #6 hitter but take a freaking walk now and then.

Now get Teixeira signed.

Oh, The Humanity!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Bennigan's filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy yesterday, effectively closing all the company-owned stores immediately.  

I must beg the nation for calm in this time of trouble.  Franchisees' stores will remain open and this story is still in its infancy.  All the details aren't known yet. 

As I read the story, the fingerprints of Melissa Peterson, the author of yesterday's Starbucks War Scene on Lincoln article, seemed to be all over it.

And yep, she was a contributor.  Along with FOUR OTHER REPORTERS from the Tribune.

I cannot wait for the reaction piece, probably arriving tomorrow.  With four reporters already having names and phone numbers of a litany of people, this should be a classic.  

I haven't eaten at Bennigan's in probably six years but the Monte Cristo will be missed in some realm of my existence.  Nothing was more of a pure definition of heart attack-inducing goodness than that Frankenwonder.

So get your ass over to ChicagoTribune.com and keep up with the minute-by-minute coverage of the loss of this national icon.  They already have a photo gallery up, you can vote for your favorite 'casual-dining' (read:  shit-ass) restaurant and everyone can come together in the Trib's food blog and discuss their greatest memories of being a part of Bennigan's Nation.

Well shit, my afternoon's blown.

Current tally (results from ten minutes later in red - One hour later in Green):  

650 (1332/2508.  Can it reach 5,000?  The earthquake in L.A. could distract a few people toward actual news) votes in the favorite restaurant poll...Chili's is leading but it's close (Chili's is still leading but Olive Garden and Outback are making a strong push, Chili's looks like the winner in an absolutely fierce battle!).

Eight photos up in the gallery.

It's the #1 and #4 (holding steady, still #1) most-viewed story.  It's the #4 and #5 (#2 and shooting up the charts, #1 my friends, most emailed story of the day) most-emailed.

10 (20/32 and some real doozies) comments up in the Stew food blog.  Story broke about 20 minutes ago.

We'll keep an eye on this as it develops here at BRE.

Favorite part of the whole thing:  According to ABC7, the two Bennigan's on Michigan Avenue, a mere five blocks from each other, are the #1 and #2 highest-grossing stores in the chain.

Reason Number 5002 To Hate Minnesota

I really do believe that if Me, Christo, my Grandma, a Dead Turtle, Retarded Ape, the Philly Phanatic and a guy dressed in a bow tie and tap shoes wore a Twins jersey and played the Sox in the MetroDome, we'd win.
Dead Turtle would get a complete game with his 73 MPH fastball and Retarded Ape would hit his first home run since Little League.
What is so goddamn shit in your pants inducing about the Minnesota fucking Twins?! It's an entire state built around ice fishing and Swedes. How intimidating could it be?!
And, Paulie, your bus is leaving.

Monday, July 28, 2008

What's Wrong With This New Ad Campaign?

Wait for it.....

Are you almost there.....

What stupid-ass reason were these ads pulled.....

They were deemed racist and homophobic.

Via Deadspin, check out the message board at the advertising agency's website over the release of the ads.  

Starts out harmless enough and then degenerates into Comedy Gold!

Was There A Sale At The Radio Shack Next Door As Well?

A 56 year-old Chicago woman at noon yesterday saved the Tribune a huge headache by giving them a story about Starbucks in a week bereft of stories about Starbucks.

Aside from that, the Tribune continues a recent trend at the paper of including EVERYTHING GODDAMN THING the reporter put in his or her notes for the internet story.

For all you aspiring journalism students out there, stop reading now.  It will only encourage you.  

For your reading pleasure, a cautionary tale against filler.

4 hurt when car plows into Far North Side Starbucks

Driver cited for negligent driving, police say

By Melissa Patterson | Chicago Tribune reporter
July 28, 2008

Four people were hospitalized in good condition Sunday after a car plowed into a Starbucks coffee shop on the Far North Side, striking patrons inside, police said.

Witnesses told police that the driver of a blue Lexus sedan heading north on North Lincoln Avenue around noon tried to turn right into a shopping center and veered off the road.

The driver, a 56-year-old Chicago woman, "was turning into the Starbucks when she lost control of the vehicle and went through the glass window, striking two individuals," said Chicago Police Officer John Mirabelli. 

The Lexus jumped a curb, leveled a stop sign and damaged a tree before shattering the wall of the shop in the 6000 block of North Lincoln in the Peterson Park neighborhood. The driver was cited for making an improper right turn, negligent driving and lack of insurance (Driving a Lexus with no insurance?), police said.  

There was no indication she was intoxicated, Mirabelli said.  (Okay.  Stop here!  Wrap it up with an update on the injured and move on to your next story.)

Teresa Lopez was working at a nearby bookstore when she spotted a firetruck and ambulances outside. (Truman Capote is piecing together the chaotic and ugly scene.

As she walked up to the coffee shop, she saw a car in the middle of the store, with broken glass, twisted steel (It was like Ground Zero.  The Horror!) and a coffee cup visible beneath its wheels (Aaaaahhh, the imagery.  It's like a charred baby doll at the scene of a fire.  Says everything.).

Starbucks workers were gathered out front, Lopez said.  (How late did Melissa show up to the scene?)

The driver and her passenger, a 24-year-old woman, were taken by ambulance to Swedish Covenant Hospital. One victim in the store, a 55-year-old man, also was taken to Swedish Covenant. The other victim in the store, a 29-year-old man, was taken to St. Francis Hospital in Evanston. (Someone's been getting some shit about leaving out details in her stoooorrrriiiieeessss!)

Oneida Garcia was visiting her aunt's house (Thanks for that.) nearby on North Jersey Avenue when she saw three people being carried by stretcher outside the Starbucks shortly after the accident, she said.  (What was this?  A bombing in Baghdad?)

She and other bystanders Sunday afternoon said that area of Lincoln Avenue was often traffic-clogged and chaotic. (I live about 15 blocks from there.  It's not the Dan Ryan, people.)

Minutes later, another crash stopped traffic near the coffee shop. (Well shit, that proves it! )

Just had to get that one off my chest.

Those Germans Are A Strange Bunch...

And now the continuing adventures of Worker and Parasite...

What the hell was that?!

Yep.  The unveiling of new soccer uniforms for a team in Munich, Germany.

Moronic Monday

Christo and Mrs. Ney took a weekend trip back to where it all began Saturday and Sunday.

It's still the same. I could still feel three or four panic attacks going off within a square mile radius and everyone still passes the time by shopping, drinking and morosely bitching about their situation in life.

In other words, par for the course.

So no restaurant/grocery store tales today.

Moronic Monday will get all old-school today and do a feature not seen for about a month.

It's Phil Rogers' Power Rankings For Morons!  Seems apt. 

Let's get started.

2. Yankees (10): Brian Cashman has a habit of making helpful moves at the trading deadline. He did it again by adding the underrated Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte in the weekend deal with Pittsburgh. He’s still working to add another starting pitcher (Jarrod Washburn?) or catcher before Thursday’s deadline. Hank Steinbrenner might have spurred Cashman into action by leaking his interest in signing Barry Bonds.

And this is why it was time to explore Phil's PRFM again...Barry Bonds.

First, let's clear this up.  Cashman was asked about Bonds as an option and he said:
So when Cashman was asked on Friday if he had talked with Jeff Borris, the agent for Barry Bonds, he quickly amended his instinctive response.

“I wouldn’t say,” Cashman said, before waiting a moment and answering definitively. “I have not. I don’t want to take this down the wrong path.”
All this came from a reporter asking Cashman whether Bonds will be discussed in Tampa and Cashman played the 'all options open' card to display his gritty determination to improve the team.  He was a dope to not see this coming but after signing Sexson and trading for Nady, where does Bonds hit? 

Second, let's review recent quotes by Phil on Bonds.  Numero Uno:
If Williams wants to do something dramatic — and isn't that always his style? — he can try to cut a deal with Barry Bonds. That would certainly give Guillen something to chew on. The surly Bonds could replace the respected Thome in the biggest clubhouse shake-up imaginable.
and my personal favorite that's stood the test of time:
If Friedman wanted to really roll the dice, he would sign Bonds and then trade his most marketable chip, Carl Crawford, for pitching and prospects. The Rays think they have a chance to be taken seriously this year, with or without Bonds, but it would be fun to see him battle the Yankees in New York and the Red Sox in Boston.
Phil gets a little pregnant every time he types Bonds' name.  And it continues.

4. Cubs (3): You can argue that this is no longer a top-five team, given the 11-11 record in July, but the Cubs’ plus-110 run differential is still the best in the majors. It suggests that they will be able to hold their own in the upcoming four-game series in Milwaukee. It may seem that the Brewers have captured the NL Central mojo, but we don’t remember anyone offering $1.3 billion when Bud Selig’s team was for sale.

And they had a +90 run differential at the end of May.  You do the math.

I had to get the mildly annoying thing out of the way before we get to that last sentence.


6. Red Sox (2): David Ortiz’s long-awaited return resulted in a 1-0 loss to the Yankees, and now they’re seriously considering trading Manny Ramirez? It’s Panic Time in Beantown!

I hate it when people refer to Boston as Beantown.  Not worse than Hotlanta, but still bad.

Did putting Ortiz into the lineup Friday result in negative five runs scored?  Ortiz.  That bum.  He lost that game.

7. Rays (4): The All-Star break couldn’t have come at a better time for the first-time contenders. After dropping seven in a row going into the break, they’ve won their first three series in the second half, showing signs that they might be able to hang with Boston and the Yankees a little longer.

They took two of three from a brutally mediocre Toronto team and a refreshingly lightweight Oakland team at home and split a four game series at Kansas City.  6-4 since the break.

Aside from being wrong about winning three series, that isn't exactly competition that would tell you where they stand in playoff goodness.   

9. Mets (12): There’s no way Philadelphia can hang with New York if Johan Santana turns in one of his typical August-September performances. He’s as strong a finisher as there is in the business.

More evidence that Phil concerns himself with about eight things relating to baseball at the beginning of the season and sticks with it throughout the year.

The Mets are 17-6 in July and have a run differential of +56 this month!  They're hitting .309 for July, 45 points higher than any month this year.  Carlos Delgado, a guy everyone thought was creeping into Richie Sexson futility, is now on pace to hit 34 home runs this year and is hitting .379 for July.  Reyes is back to being the superlative leadoff hitter he should be and Wright's found his stroke after a fair to middling start.  And oh yeah, Matt Pelfrey record, ERA and every peripheral is the same as Santana's outside of those pretty strikeouts in the last two months.

This team was dead 45 days ago.  Santana's a part of the comeback but not even one of the top two or three stories.  BTW, that took me about eight minutes to find.  And I don't write for a sports column for a living.

11. Phillies (11): Something’s up with Jimmy Rollins this year, and a lot of smart people haven’t been able to figure it out. He hasn’t been quite himself and it has carried over to his team. Could it be a little jealousy after all that Chase Utley MVP talk in April and May?

Read that a couple of times and tell me it's not more dumb than the dumbest of dumb things.

Rollins isn't playing well because of the residual jealousy of Chase Utley MVP talk.

And because he's playing bad, the rest of the team has decided to also play bad.

I mean, what do you do with that as a reader?

12. Twins (7): It’s time to play the Francisco Liriano card. The longer they keep Liriano in the minors, the better things are for the White Sox and the wild-card contenders from the East.

Liriano had a nice little five-start streak this month.  In fact, it was pretty great, giving up one paltry earned run in 35 innings.  

He got shelled again last night, giving up 8 hits and 4 runs in 6 innings.

I will say this once.  Tommy John surgery a year and a half ago and 35 innings against Triple-A teams does not translate to the majors.  Let's cool our jets here a bit, people.

18. Diamondbacks (19): Mark Reynolds has become one of the best players no one knows. He’s outplaying all the young Diamondbacks who carry bigger reputations and wallets. Arizona’s win on Saturday gave the NL West a team over-.500 for the first time in almost a month.

Phil's still under the assumption that everybody pays the same amount of attention to teams outside of Chicago as he does.  

Reynolds has been a decent little player for about a year now.  And that's as far as one can go when using descriptors for him.

He's on pace to hit 34 home runs and drive in 105.  That's pretty good.

He's also on pace to strike out 205 times and hit .246/.330.  He's mini-Rob Deer.

23. Orioles (21): Will they really trade closer George Sherrill? They would have some explaining to do with their fans.

Why?  Sherill is at absolute peak value right now.  He won't get better than this.  Trading him makes smart baseball sense.  Any Oriole fan who thinks otherwise is a stupid baseball fan.

29. Giants (29): Lincecum, like Volquez, is showing signs of a second half not befitting his impressive first half.

Um...What?!  He had one bad start against the Brewers since the break!  

Against Arizona on Saturday, he went 7 innings, giving up 2 earned, walking none and striking out 13 fucking batters!


I forgot how frustrating doing this shit is!  

He just makes me so mad!

Mate's Musings

ESPN's only show that still has any lingering smell of journalistic integrity "Outside the Lines" did a report on the goings on at Penn State and the disciplinary problems with it's football team (Sound familiar, Hawk fans?). It's icky and maddening. And Paterno comes across as a petulant ass. Just retire, Joe.



Well, I'll take 2 out of 3 against the Tigers even though Vazquez still is possibly the stupidest pitcher the Sox have had since Roberto Hernandez. (Look at your infield, Javy. If they are playing to pull you might not want to try to paint the outside corner every pitch, dumbfuck. And quit walking people!Jesus!)
So, now they go to that Rat's Nest of the Midwest, the MetroDome. And we all know how well the Sox play up there.
Those pesky Twins!
Of course, I'll be playing fucking softball tonight so I can't watch it. God, can we quit circling the airport please and bring this thing in for a landing?
Oh, and apparently the Cubs are playing the Brewers....

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Friday, July 25, 2008

Happy Birthday, Mick

He's 64. To commemorate here he is singing the greatest rock song ever written.

Bob Novak Continues Being An Asshole



Best part of this picture? The old lady (green shirt) leaving in disgust. I can almost hear her saying, "Well, I never..."

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Trivia Time!

Fresh off the hottest Chicago baseball trade rumor of the day...
The Red Sox are deep in conversations with the White Sox on a trade that would send infielder Juan Uribe to Boston, according to sources.

Uribe is batting just .225 in limited playing time this season, but his three home runs are one more than all Red Sox shortstops have hit. Boston shortstops are 28th in the majors in runs scored and 23rd in RBI.

It's not clear who the White Sox would get in return for Uribe, but one possibility is Alex Cora, the utility infielder who has fallen out of favor in Boston. Cora's brother, Joey, is the White Sox's bench coach.

The White Sox want to rid themselves of Uribe's $4.5 million contract, perhaps in hopes of rekindling talks with Baltimore about second baseman Brian Roberts. If the White Sox could acquire Roberts, or another second baseman, they could shift Alexei Ramirez to shortstop and trade Orlando Cabrera, possibly to the Dodgers.

The possibility of trading for Roberts and then dealing Cabrera was first reported by FoxSports.com.

Chicago is still looking for a starting pitcher to replace injured Jose Contreras. They could try to deal Cabrera for Derek Lowe, although the Dodgers don't have much depth in their rotation and would be hesitant to part with him.
...let's do a little baseball trivia (highlight right of the arrow for the answer).

Who are the MLB leaders in these categories: 

Who are the top three leaders in hits? ------>  Ian Kinsler, Dustin Pedroia and Cristian Guzman

Who leads the league is doubles? ------->  Brian Roberts with 38

Who leads the league in stolen bases? ------->  Willy Taveras with 42

Who leads the league in pitches seen per plate appearance? ------>  Nick Swisher with 4.54

Who leads the league in total extra base hits?  ----->  Nate McLouth with 57, tied with Braun

Who leads the league in being hit by a pitch?  ----->  Carlos Quentin, 14, tied with Giambi

Who has grounded into the most double plays? ----->  Derrek Lee with 21

What hitter has the largest ground ball to fly ball ratio? ----->  Ryan Theriot with 2.92 ratio

What pitcher has given up the most hits this year?  ----->  Livan Hernandez by far with 178

What pitcher has the most walks this year?  ------>  Ubaldo Jimenez, 65, also most wild pitches

What pitcher leads the league in inducing double plays? ----->  Mark Buerhle, tied with Cook

What pitcher has the best ground ball to fly ball ratio? ----->  Brandon Webb by far,  3.40

What pitcher leads the league in AVG, OBP and SLG against? ----->  Justin Duchscherer

What player leads shortstops in AVG and OBP? ------>  Ryan Theriot

What player leads rookies in RBI? ------>  David Murphy with 61

What rookie is on pace to strike out 145 times?  ------>  Geovany Soto

Who leads the league in homers since June 1? ----->  Troy Glaus, 15, tied with Sizemore/Dunn

Who leads the league in OBP since June 1?  ----->  Denard Span with a .466 mark

I was bored.

Here's The Thing...

I like Kirk Ferentz.  I don't know him personally but he seems like a nice guy.

In fact, he seems like the paragon of integrity in many ways.

But he has to stop doing one thing, something he's been doing for a while now.

In an interview just posted on ESPN.com, Ferentz addresses for the first time many of the issues recently raised in Iowa City w/r/t the letter, the pending investigation and the litany of legal issues.

Aside from his superlative ability to bore the world into submission with milquetoast answers (something any coach would be better off learning), he still seems to separate on-field and off-field behavior into two, separate but equal categories, putting the latter into a weirdly defined column of 'citizenship issues'.  

Now I understand that a 19 year-old getting drunk and peeing on a wall in front of a cop should fall into this category.  He's 19 and expected to be stupid.  Heck, even the Dominic Douglas affair smacks of a stupid guy doing a stupid thing and is well out of the scope of a head coach.

In fact, most of the list of legal issues over the last 18 months could easily fall into said 'citizenship' problems. It probably does come in waves, as Ferentz says.  And it's Ferentz, a guy whose shown a crapload of integrity in the past and should get some leeway here.

But raping a woman is not someone 'falling short in his obligation to be a good citizen' and shouldn't in any way be lumped into the same world as public intoxication.  And when he does such things, it smacks of a disconnect with reality, especially with the somewhat tenuous situation the Iowa football program is in right now.  

From everything I've read, Ferentz had little to no part of the first investigation and didn't do anything sketchy a la Steve Alford.  And much of it probably had to do with the interview process itself as he is trying to straddle a line that deters any possible subpoena while still giving some sort of answer.  He's a good guy and probably did the right thing.

But not going out of his way to distinguish between rape and the other issues gets under my craw.  And the posture of washing his hands of the whole thing and getting back to football begins to wander into the realm of icky.  Not there yet, but definitely close.  

I didn't want to read the interview through those eyes but it happened.  And what else can he say?  I get that. It's not like he's to blame, but that's not how this stuff works.  Sloppily saying things of this ilk begins to chip away at those 'paragon of integrity' and 'just a good guy' maxims that have been so easily thrown around when talking about Ferentz.

If anything, I could see the victim and the victim's family being a little pissed off when they read such an interview.  

I think I would be.  It just borders on a bit callous.

Tournament of Awful Preview

Here's a taste of what to expect in the first round.
Deal or No Deal vs. Dallas, Texas.

Coming Monday August 4th!!

Can you feel the excitement?

I'm Moving to New Zealand

Finally someone has taken it upon themselves to stop these bozo hippy dippy parents from naming their kids pretentious, dopey names. Now if this judge can only move to the US and do something about all the Dakotas and MacKenzie's running around...

Judge: Girl's name, Talula Does The Hula, won't do
Thu Jul 24, 5:41 AM ET

WELLINGTON, New Zealand - A family court judge in New Zealand has had enough with parents giving their children bizarre names here, and did something about it.
Just ask Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii. He had her renamed.
Judge Rob Murfitt made the 9-year-old girl a ward of the court so that her name could be changed, he said in a ruling made public Thursday. The girl was involved in a custody battle, he said.
The new name was not made public to protect the girl's privacy.
"The court is profoundly concerned about the very poor judgment which this child's parents have shown in choosing this name," he wrote. "It makes a fool of the child and sets her up with a social disability and handicap, unnecessarily."
The girl had been so embarrassed at the name that she had never told her closest friends what it was. She told people to call her "K" instead, the girl's lawyer, Colleen MacLeod, told the court.
In his ruling, Murfitt cited a list of the unfortunate names.
Registration officials blocked some names, including Fish and Chips, Yeah Detroit, Keenan Got Lucy and Sex Fruit, he said. But others were allowed, including Number 16 Bus Shelter "and tragically, Violence," he said.
New Zealand law does not allow names that would cause offense to a reasonable person, among other conditions, said Brian Clarke, the registrar general of Births, Deaths and Marriages.
Clarke said officials usually talked to parents who proposed unusual names to convince them about the potential for embarrassment.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Does This HAVE To Be The Cubs' Year?

As the Tribune Company whittles down the pool of potential buyers for the Cubs, something has been fumbling around in my brain for a couple of months now.

Much of it was confirmed a few nights ago by Steve Stone when asked on The Score about the sale and what, exactly, a new owner would be buying.

And MLBContracts.com confirmed some suspicions.

This might HAVE to be the Cubs' year.

A few things first.

There's been a lot of speculation that the Tribune Company wants a cool $1 billion for the combined sale of the team and Wrigley Field, so deep pockets will, of course, be a prerequisite to any sort of acquisition, even if the sale is broken up.  But one thing any owner will have to take into account will be new revenue streams.  

Forbes, at the beginning of the season, valued the team at $642 million, a near $200 million jump from 2006.  Some of that has to do with better product on the field but much of it can be traced to better marketing, larger corporate tie-ins and bleeding every last cent out of a decrepit stadium.  

The new corporate signage in the field of play, talk of an all-Cubs TV station and last spring's contemplation of selling corporate naming rights for Wrigley (and hilarious reaction) illustrate a serious and curiously odd trend by the Cubs camp that could be seen as taking stabs in the dark, trying nearly anything to get more money in the coffers.  A trend is brewing in the MLB and the team's ability to keep up in the money game may be in question.

For a team already drawing at 99% capacity and traditional revenue streams like corporate signage seemingly tapped, where can this team go if payrolls continue to rise at even moderate levels given their current commitments?  

This, most definitely, is something any prospective owner must be looking at and may be the reason we haven't seen loads of smarter people publicly falling over each other in gleeful anticipation to buy the team.  

Sure.  The Cubs will always make money.  It's a big market, huge tradition, national fan base and an amusement park-like draw for a stadium.  But the near future for any new Cubs owner might not be the cash cow many anticipate.  

First, there's speculation that the Tribune Company would want to stay on in some capacity for a short time to avoid the huge capital gains hit they would take from a near $1 billion sale, something that could be a minor headache but one nonetheless.  

Second, any new owner would have to look at expanding Wrigley to some degree and a major renovation is already being discussed in some form.  Talk right now is that a renovation of the magnitude needed would take the Cubs out of Wrigley for a good chunk, if not all of the season with U.S. Cellular and Milwaukee possible destinations (something similar to the Bears moving to Champaign during the Soldier Field renovation).  

If that were to come to fruition, kiss any substantial revenue that year goodbye.  If the sale of the team and Wrigley is broken up and factoring in the hoops to go through given the field's landmark status, that could be a long, arduous and potentially expensive process.

And then there's the current team.  The Cubs' 2008 payroll is an entirely manageable $118,595,833 right now, 7th in the league but a near $20 million jump over last year.  The Tribune Company over the last few years certainly did their part to make this team a sellable commodity and the recent success on the field had to leave more than a few people in the Tribune boardroom smiling.  Opening up the purse strings in the last two years and going out to get and resign a few potential 'faces of the franchise' helped as well.

But where is this team after 2008 w/r/t payroll?

It's not that pretty.  In fact, it's littered with back-loaded contracts and a total commitment over the next two years that could realistically be tremendously stifling.

Carlos Zambrano, 27, signed through 2013.  $15M in '08, $17.75M in '09, $17.87M in '10.
- Full no-trade clause

Aramis Ramirez, 30, signed through 2011.  $14M in '08, $15.65M in '09, $15.75M in '10.
-Full no-trade clause

Alfonso Soriano, 32, signed through 2014.  $13M in '08, $16M in '09, $18M from '10-'14.
-Full no-trade clause

Derrek Lee, 32, signed through 2010.  $13M annually.
-No-trade clause

Ted Lilly, 32, signed through 2010.  $7M in '08, $12M in '09, $12M in '10.
-Some no-trade protection

Kosuke Fukudome, 31, signed through 2011.  $6M in '08, $11.5M in '09, $13M in '10.
-Significant no-trade protection

Jason Marquis, 29, signed through 2009.  $6.375M in '08, $9.875M in '09.
-No protection

Mark DeRosa, 33, signed through 2009.  $4.5M in '08, $5.5M in '09.

Rich Harden, 26, signed through 2008 with a $7M club option for 2009.

2009 total commitments for nine players:   $108.275 million

2010 total commitments for six players:  $87.62 million

In other words, a lot of dough.  And factor in these players needing to be resigned or positions filled by available free agents:

Cubs' Major Free Agents After This Year

Ryan Dempster, 31.  With the kind of the year he's having, will be a Type-A free agent.

Kerry Wood, 31.  Same as Dempster.  Currently in the top 10 in closer rankings.

Scott Eyre, Bob Howry and Chad Gaudin round out an entire bullpen outside of Marmol free to go elsewhere.

Rebuilding and/or resigning an entire bullpen could cost the Cubs in the neighborhood on $20-25 million next year, especially if they dump Wood and go after Francisco Rodriguez, currently asking for $15 million a year.

Staying out of the starting pitcher market next off-season demands keeping Marquis and moving Marshall back into the rotation or a hope that Rich Hill finds the strike zone again.  Not something that screams division title.

Venturing into the 2009 free agent market, a crop filled with mediocre pitchers looking for $12 million per at minimum makes for an even more expensive 2009 payroll.

Let's say they stay in the $20 million range for the bullpen, boosting next year's payroll to $128 million for 13 players, leaving 12 players' salaries needing to be factored in.  Much of it can be done on the cheap but a minimum of $30 million will still be needed, especially to fill critical roster spots like long relief, spot starter, backup catcher and good bat off the bench, positions typically drawing a $3-4 million salary.

That's a $158 million payroll for 2009 any prospective owner must take on.

And that's not even factoring in a potential resigning of Dempster, someone who should get close to $10 million on the free agent market, even 3 yrs/$36M from a stupider club.

2010, while a core is in place for the most part, also won't see anything in the way of relief.

Unlike the Brewers who built their team around youth nowhere near free agency, the Cubs built their team with big signings, back-loaded contracts and long (and somewhat dubious) commitments to get to the World Series, potentially allowing the Tribune Company to sell the team at peak value.  While so many teams saw the writing on the wall w/r/t the insane amount of free agent dollars being thrown around in recent years and looked to build within, the Cubs did the exact opposite.  It's a gamble and it better pay off.

The Tribune Company is waiting to hit the lottery.  If the Cubs make the World Series this year, the team's value could easily shoot up another $150-200 million.  If they don't, this team could turn into a bit of a money pit and a headache probably not wanted by oodles of smarter business minds.

Even the Yankees, with A-Rod's contract, are only committed to $118 million for 10 players in 2009.

Given all of this, would you want to buy the team?

Or better yet, would it be a wise to buy the team?

I don't really know if I would, something I don't think I would have ever said about a team like the Cubs.

Arrogant Asshat of the Year

It's over. Hands down winner.

As league security dropped by Vikings HQ, an ESPN report said that Brett Favre "clearly prefers to play for the Vikings."
JUDD ZULGAD, Star Tribune

The NFL had members of its security department at Winter Park on Tuesday to interview Vikings officials regarding the tampering charges the Green Bay Packers filed against Minnesota for "inappropriate dialogue" with quarterback Brett Favre, according to people with knowledge of the situation.
While the sources did not know exactly with whom NFL officials spoke, it's believed that Vikings coach Brad Childress and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell were questioned. The fact the Vikings were asked for their side of the story a day before the team was to report to training camp and less than two weeks after the Packers filed the charges could be an indication the league is hoping to resolve the issue quickly.
It marked the latest twist in the Favre-Packers summer soap opera that now involves Green Bay's NFL neighbors to the west. ESPN reported Tuesday night that Favre -- who retired in March, then decided he wanted to unretire -- "clearly prefers to play for the Vikings."
Favre's desire to end up in purple has been speculated on previously but remains an enormous long shot, as the Packers have told Favre they won't grant him his wish to be released.
That's in part because the Packers don't want Favre signing with an NFC North rival such as the Vikings or Chicago Bears. Favre remains the property of the Packers until his contract expires after the 2010 season.
***BEST PART!!!***The NFL's trip to Minnesota came on the same day the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that a source said Favre continued to use a Packers-issued cell phone after his retirement and that when the team checked the phone records, there were "repeated calls to coach Brad Childress and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell."***BEST PART!!***
Favre's odd decision to use a phone on which the Packers could review all calls had been speculated on last week after the Associated Press reported that Green Bay informed the NFL it felt "an investigation of the phone records would show more than 'normal contact' between the Vikings and Favre, even before he formally asked for his release to play for another team."
Bevell and Favre became friends when the former served on the Packers coaching staff from 2000 to 2005, and they have continued to stay in touch.
That made it difficult to believe the Packers could prove much by simply pointing to conversations between Bevell and Favre. If Favre's phone records provide evidence of multiple calls to Childress, it's a different story. Favre asked for his release this summer when the Packers told him Aaron Rodgers is their starter.
The Vikings are believed to be Favre's top choice for a landing spot, in part because they run a version of the West Coast offense with which he is familiar. Childress has stated publicly that Tarvaris Jackson is his starting quarterback, but the opportunity to plug in a veteran like Favre could be tempting.
The Vikings, if found guilty, could face penalties that include the loss of draft picks and fines.
While the Packers won't release Favre, the NFL Network reported Tuesday that the team has talked to multiple clubs about what it would be willing to offer in a trade and that calls have been made to franchises in both conferences.
ESPN reported later Tuesday that sources from the NFL and its players union said Packers General Manager Ted Thompson started making calls to other teams "after being encouraged by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to resolve the controversy surrounding Favre before they begin training camp Sunday."
The Vikings have remained quiet on the tampering charge since news broke last week. Owner Zygi Wilf told the Star Tribune last week that he wouldn't comment on the Packers' accusation but added, "Let's put it this way, I look forward to the opening game in Green Bay." The Vikings will face the Packers in the season opener Sept. 8 at Green Bay.

I Gotta Give Them Serious Credit For The Effort

Sporting News completely revamped their website to make it...exactly like their magazine.

And today is the first day of the roll-out.

I gave it a whirl and it's entirely easy to use, especially once you customize it.

The site works like a PDF file but loads as fast as a typical website (actually faster when using the page turn feature) and they're planning to release nearly 30 pages of content every day of the year.  I almost feel compelled to support this little venture for oodles of reasons.  

It's just so...I don't know...ballsy in this age of short internet attention spans.

And the best thing?  Absolutely no paging down!  Everything is above-the-fold and a quick paging through is just so easy.

So give it a try.  Not bad.  Not bad at all.

C'mon...It's Funny.

He turned into a cross between Burl Ives' snowman in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the homeless guy who sits outside my 7-Eleven everyday and asks me for money.

I kid. During the Bosnian War, what Radovan Karadzic did in Srebrenica stacks right up there with the most barbarous atrocities in the 20th century.

Check out The Fall of Yugoslavia by Misha Glenny sometime and take a time warp back to the early 90s when everything was just as fucked as it is now. It's chilling, horrifying, uncompromising and a thoroughly good read.

Monday, July 21, 2008

I Can't Believe I'm Typing This

But it's getting pretty close to the point where Kirk Ferentz may be fired/forced to resign as Iowa Football coach. That pains me to no end. I think he's a good coach and seems like a humble, upstanding guy. But he's lost control of his program and has possibly committed a Steve Alford/Gary Barnett slimeball act. Possibly. We don't know yet the circumstances to the alleged incident.
But aside from that--there have been 23 arrests of Iowa football players in the last 18 months. 23!! 11 of them alcohol related (one yesterday!), 12 varying degrees of criminal activity of which 5 were felonies! It's kind of a sad state of affairs when we look back on credit card fraud as quaint compared to the ugly story coming out of Iowa City today.
I really want to believe that Kirk Ferentz is blameless in this and his biggest crime was following protocol. I really do. But it smells and it smells bad.

UPDATE: Here's a list of the arrests since 2007. Some of these are typical college student stupidity and a few are charges on the same guy. But you get the idea.

Ryan Bain
Disorderly conduct
April 14, 2007
Ricky Stanzi
Possession of alcohol
May 5, 2007
Dana Brown
Fifth-degree theft
May 15, 2007

Tyler Gerstandt
Possession of alcohol
May 18, 2007

Arvell Nelson
Driving with a suspended license
July 2, 2007
Bradley Fletcher
July 15, 2007
Dana Brown
Fifth-degree theft
July 24, 2007
Ben Evans
July 29, 2007
Arvell Nelson
Failure to appear in court
Aug. 16, 2007
Anthony Bowman
Unauthorized use of a credit card
Aug. 18, 2007
Dominique Douglas
Unauthorized use of a credit card
Aug. 18, 2007
Clint Huntrods
Public intoxication / urination
Sept. 6, 2007

Lance Tillison
Sept. 16, 2007
Dana Brown
Domestic assault
Oct. 16, 2007
Dominique Douglas
Fifth-degree theft
Oct. 29, 2007

Brandon Myers
Interference with official acts
Dec. 23, 2007
Ryan Donahue
Possession of alcohol
Feb. 15, 2008

James Cleveland
Tax stamp violation/pos. of presciption drugs (Ed. note--this one is bullshit. Tax stamp?!)
Feb. 23, 2008
Arvell Nelson
Possession of marijuana
Feb. 23, 2008

Cody Hundertmark
Possession of alcohol
April 24, 2008

Cedric Everson
Sexual Assault
May 27, 2008

Abe Satterfield
Sexual Assault
May 27, 2008
Riley Reiff
Public intoxication / interference
July 19, 2008

Monday's Five Things

As I said, Phil Watch isn't dead, just more selective.  

Some doozies are to be had from yesterday's offerings and PRFM, but I'm sick of trying to find creative new ways to say the same thing about a guy saying the same thing in every column.

He has a new look, though.  

TrĂ©s chic.  Designer glasses usually are employed to hide some inherent shortcoming.  That's all I'll say.

So following the recently introduced new feature Moronic Monday, posted just a few hours ago but an eternity in internet time, we here at BRE will continue to evolve and morph as the world demands from bloggers.  

Monday's Five Things will be just that - the five most silly things read on Monday morning in order to start the week off right.

Let's get started.

Chalk Another One Up To Sanity

Court tosses FCC 'wardrobe malfunction' fine
The ruling releases CBS from paying a $550,000 penalty levied for Janet Jackson's breast-baring incident during the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show. It's also a blow to the FCC's indecency policy.

WASHINGTON -- Federal judges today tossed out the $550,000 fine levied against CBS Corp. after Janet Jackson's breast was briefly bared during the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show, ruling that the Federal Communications Commission "acted arbitrarily and capriciously" in penalizing the network for a "fleeting image of nudity."

The decision is another blow to the aggressive indecency policy the FCC has adopted and enforced under chairman Kevin J. Martin and throws the agency's indecency enforcement into further disarray. Last spring, a different federal appeals court struck down FCC rules on so-called "fleeting expletives." The Bush administration appealed and the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the case in the fall...The rest of the story...
Well, that didn't take long...

Four years...Four. Years. Aside from the wildly egregious amount of money levied in the initial fine, this is yet another sign that the reign of President Haywood is coming to a glorious end. 

With the teeth of the Patriot Act effectively yanked out and Guantanamo prisoners seeing some level of sane legal representation, the chips are falling one by one. Now we can ramp ourselves up for the litany of idiotic pundits trying to put a rosy spin on this administration come November. Not out of the woods yet.

I Can't Wait To See What Kind of Abortion Disney Comes Up With
Ebert and Roeper done with 'At The Movies'

Sources say the show may go in a new direction without the two critics.

Chicago Sun-Times movie critic Roger Ebert today said he, like Sun-Times columnist Richard Roeper, is severing ties with Disney-ABC Domestic Television's "At the Movies" in anticipation of major changes for the nationally syndicated program.

Roeper said in a statement late Sunday that he would leave "At the Movies With Ebert & Roeper" next month after eight years, having failed to reach agreement with Disney on a new contract.

Industry sources said that Disney is contemplating a reinvention of the movie review show with more of a Hollywood focus, along the lines of CBS Television Distribution's "Entertainment Tonight."...The rest of the story...
Because the world has been begging for another ET for years now.  I'm sure this comes down to syndication contracts.  Disney probably staggered Ebert and Roeper's contract with the contracts of the local stations for this very purpose.  The locals locked in for another year while they can take the format of the show in any direction they like.

It's what they do.  Maybe they can get Byron Allen to do some reviews.  Now THAT I would watch for the putrid horribleness alone.

Isn't This Edging Dangerously Close To Peron-Style Politics

Economic stimulus, Part 2?
No one can remember the last time Congress enacted two major economic stimulus packages in one year. But 2008 may see a sequel to the $100 billion worth of checks that started filling individuals' bank accounts in early spring.

Democrats say they will proceed this fall with a "Son of Stimulus." Whether it materializes is questionable; President Bush currently opposes such a move, preferring to wait to see the full effect of the first stimulus package.

As for economists, some say it's a good idea, if done differently from Round 1, but many are skeptical that money can start to circulate through the economy quickly enough. One reason for their concern: Surveys are finding that a major chunk of the money already doled out is going into savings instead of spending...The rest of the story...
And didn't the Democrats just beat the shit out of Bush on this last year?  Just throw money at them to shut the critics up over the economy.  The people like shiny new things.  Let's go the whole nine yards and send Pelosi on a train tour where she sends three weeks throwing money out of the back of it to the waiting hordes.  Fuck these half measures.  

On the flip side, I wonder how many people rejected the first round of checks sent out?  Remember that?  I put the over/under at about 14 people.

The 7 Most Bizarre Fast Food Industry Lawsuits

The people over at Cracked.com compiled a list that furthers expounds on the theory that corporate America really does want to take over the world.

It's a great read.

But my favorite probably comes from the Honorable Mention category.
In 2001, Merriam-Webster added "McJob" to their dictionary, defining it as "a low-paying job that requires little skill and provides little opportunity for advancement." The CEO of McDonald's rattled off a bitchy letter, oblivious to the fact people had been using McJob to mean exactly what the dictionary said it meant for well over a decade.
When simply whining like children didn't work, it was later stated in a veiled, sad threat that McJOBS is trademarked and is the name of the program McDonald's uses to train mentally and physically disabled employees. So they were apparently preparing a claim that the dictionary violated the trademark by including the term, demonstrating McDonalds' complete lack of understanding of what a dictionary is.
The Result:
For once, the McDonald's legal team showed some restraint and the lawsuit at the heart of their veiled threats never came to pass. Instead, McDonald's has gone on a publicity campaign to try to convince the whole world to stop acting like jobs at McDonald's aren't awesome.
They've also started a petition again the Oxford-English Dictionary, hoping to convince it to remove McJob and its similar definition ("an unstimulating low-paid job with few prospects").
McDonald's claims that definition is false and has evidence that 90 percent of its employees believe they receive valuable training that will be of benefit for the future, not mentioning how many of them believe that because they have resigned themselves to working at McDonald's for the rest of their lives.
The fact that McDonald's didn't really understand the scope and reach of their own trademark is funny enough.  The balls it took to go public and defend McDonald's jobs as some sort of ideal stepping stone in the world is Comedy Gold.

I Would Have Paid Like Money And Stuff To See This

Everyone knows Buzz Bissinger and his place in the pantheon of assholishdom.

Well...he continues his great work.

From the NYTimes via Deadspin:
An argument ensued, and I openly admit it got heated. An N.C.A.A. official in an orange shirt was called over. He had one of those little faces born in contempt, and he wasn’t happy. He curtly told me to take my camera bag back to my car. I told him I didn’t have a car since I was staying at a hotel on the Iowa side of the Missouri River and had gotten to the games by shuttle. He told me to go back to the hotel. I told him I would miss most of the game if I had go back to the hotel, not to mention the fact I was there with my sons. More heated argument ensued. More security officials arrived, excitedly smelling the scent of action. Camera alert! Camera alert! More argument. One of them got into my face. I got into his face. He pushed into my body. I pushed into his body.

I do not recommend this.

Roughly half a dozen security officials tackled me and threw me face first into the concrete, causing an ugly gash on my leg and a silver dollar-sized bruise on my arm. My glasses broke. One put me in a chokehold while another handcuffed me, all of it occurring in front of my three sons. They were traumatized. I was traumatized. Over a camera. At a sporting event, a college sporting event that likes to think of itself as the ultimate family affair.
I can't help but think how much richer my life would have been if Buzz was my uncle...or father. Poor kids. And it's too bad because I really want to like the guy.