Tagged with "Chicago"
Mr. Cub
Category: MLB
Tags: MLB ChicagoCubs ErnieBanks

Baseball, perhaps like no other sport, manages to enshrine its players in the national collective memory of its fans so deeply that even when you never have seen a particular baseball legend play, you feel as if you did.

That's how I feel about Ernie Banks. And that is why today I felt saddened to wake up and learn of his passing. I'll let news articles and other bloggers fill you in on his stats in the game and all that other stuff.

What I enjoyed most about Banks came from his youthful enthusiasm for the game. He was a great ambassador not just for the Cubs but for the entire game of baseball.

If you have followed the game's history at all, you are undoubtedly familiar with his famous quote:

In a day when players have to be bribed to play a double header or go on a tirade about having to play too many day or night games in a row, Banks joy for playing the game despite being on gut wrenchingly bad teams should put those modern day players to shame.

As expected, the Cubs paid tribute to Banks on their marquee last night:

It isn't that there aren't players of the caliber of Banks these days, they just seem fewer and farther between. And a little piece of the heart of the game goes away whenever a man like Mr. Cub leaves us.

I said that I never got to see him play, but through numerous articles, books, and of course archival footage, I have a decent understanding of just how magnificent Ernie Banks was as a player and as a representative of this game of baseball and life. He was a Hall of Famer in more ways than one.

The man was beloved by pretty much anyone who knew him it seems. It wasn't just baseball awards he got in his lifetime either. Ernie Banks was a receipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom for goodness sake.

Banks may have left us but he also leaves us with an example of how to have that sparkle and enthusiasm for what you are doing, whether it be sports or any field of endeavor. He never seemed to have lost that exuberance.

Good night and RIP to you,†Ernie Banks. You'll always be Mr. Cub to more than just Chicago fans. And here's to you getting to "Play Two" as much as you want now.

Correcting the NHL Divisional Alignment
Category: NHL

Iíll start out with a disclaimer that Iím not exactly an avid hockey fan, although I do enjoy the playoffs and I start following more intently around April. Itís just not a sport I grew up around or have attended much.

I was inspired to write this just because I happened to grab a sports page yesterday and look at the standings. I just never saw the point of getting excited about a sport 6 months before it crowned a champion. I mostly write the most about college football, and you might have noticed I donít have all that much to say about even that in July.

I talked about some different possibilities before the realignment in 2011.

In the first two of these possibilities, I was considering the current format of two divisions per conference. What Iím about to suggest is very similar to the second of those. The only difference is I was anticipating the Eastern and Western Conferences would have equal numbers of teams, and that is not what happened. Iím just going to assume the conferences will keep the same respective numbers of teams they have now. Itís not really fair to those seeking wild cards, but on the other hand, itís good that teams are on a somewhat level playing field (playing surface?) as the other division in a given conference.

When I discussed realignment possibilities for the NFL, a lot of people didnít like the idea of the Dallas Cowboys being anywhere but the NFC East, even though Washington, Philadelphia, and New York are of course nowhere near Dallas. I find it really strange that so many people are perfectly fine with moving the Detroit Red Wings to the Eastern Conference even though they were always in the West and have a much longer tradition than the Cowboys, who are about 50 years old as a franchise. Also, Detroit is in the middle of two logical groups of teams geographically, so the more traditional alignment does not completely fly in the face of any geographic logic.

So one thing I would do is move them back. This would be my Central Division (or Midwest could be another name):
St. Louis

Iíll talk more about this below, but I think itís good for Chicago to have another top franchise in their division. This isnít the 1990s anymore, when Dallas and Colorado were among the top franchises. I understand Detroit would probably rather play more games in the Eastern Time Zone, but Iím not sure itís necessary to play that many more games against other divisions within the conference as other divisions outside of the conference.

I think fans on the West Coast, for instance, are more excited to see teams like New York and Boston than Colorado and Dallas even though obviously Colorado and Dallas are a lot closer, so there really isnít a good reason (other than reducing travel of course) to play non-divisional in-conference opponents more than non-conference opponents. I donít think playing teams in the Central Time Zone is a big deal for Detroit (like itís not a big deal for the Cowboys of the NFL to play against the Eastern Time Zone), but I am definitely sympathetic to the idea of avoiding a high number of games against the Mountain and Pacific Time Zones. So if the scheduling followed this logic, it shouldnít bother Detroit as much not to be in the Eastern Conference.

So moving Detroit back to the West creates an opening in the Atlantic Division. What strikes me is that along with the likes of Buffalo and Montreal, we have two teams from Florida. Letís move those out as well. So now we have three spots. What collection of three teams makes the most sense together? How about the Rangers, the Islanders, and the Devils? The New York area also shares a state with Buffalo, and I get the impression from other sports you can establish some good rivalries between New York and Boston-area teams.

Whatís left is essentially a revival of the Southeast Division except itís going to go a little farther North and West. Philadelphia is fairly close to DC, and Pittsburgh makes a lot of sense as an in-state rival. Columbus is not too far from Pennsylvania either. Itís also not all that far from Nashville, which would have a natural rivalry with Carolina (another team that had been in the Southeast Division).

I wouldnít do anything to alter the Pacific Division as currently constituted, so here are the two divisions of the Eastern Conference under my proposal:

New York Is.
New York Ran.
New Jersey
(I would also note that if a team were to move to Eastern Canada, you could then move New Jersey, so keep that in mind with the teams below as well. Also see the map below.)

Tampa Bay

Iím putting this all on the map below. The Southeast Division is in Yellow, mostly corresponding to the current Metropolitan Division. The Northeast, which mostly corresponds to the current Atlantic Division, is in blue. The Central/Midwest is in green, and the Pacific is in red.

Each proposed division is a different color.  Uninhabited states/provinces are gray.  No state or province has teams of multiple divisions.

Each proposed division is a different color. Uninhabited states/provinces are gray. No state or province has teams of multiple divisions.

This is the map of the current divisions. New York State is sort of a teal color since it has teams in both the Atlantic and Metropolitan Divisions.

Map of the current divisions

Map of the current divisions

I looked up the Stanley Cup Finalists since the lockout season, and I think Iíve done a reasonable job with competitive balance even though that wasnít my primary objective. The four divisions have all either had 4 or 5 finalists in that time. The only division clearly more successful than the rest by this measure is the Pacific, which has won three Stanley Cups in that time and also had two runners-up.

My proposed Northeast Division also has had 5 finalists, but it has the fewest Stanley Cup Champions. Boston won in 2011, but the last team in that group to win before that was New Jersey in 2003.

The Southeast had 2 champions (Carolina and Pittsburgh) and 2 runners-up (Philadelphia and Pittsburgh) in that time and also won the last Stanley Cup (Tampa Bay) before the lockout season.

The Central/Midwest had three champions in that time (Chicago twice and Detroit) and one runner-up (Detroit).

Iím open to additional information I might be overlooking, but this seems a lot more sensible than having Florida teams in the same division as Canadian teams and having another division that goes from Nashville to Denver.

NASCAR Update And Other Fast Stuff 9-21-14
Category: Daily Blog 2.0
Tags: Chicagoland New Hampshire Tony Stewart Sherry Pollex Clint Bowyer Michael Waltrip

† † † † † † † † † † † ††

Good morning....welcome Gabbers and others to my NASCAR updates and other fast stuff. Fall is upon us. I'm gather the last of my tomatoes out of the garden. Hope to be canning them on Monday. Mom has an over abundance of pumpkins too. I'll snag a couple of them for the freezer. Pumpkin cookies, pumkin bread, pumkin soup, pumkin whoopie pies and on and on I could go. Very versatile vegie.†

Speaking of vegies, my favorite farmers market burnt down last Friday. I have so many farmers markets to choose from in my area but this one really was a bummer to hear about. The buildings were 75 years old. They still don't know what happened yet but the owner is promising to be back up next week if all goes well. Lots of good times and awesome eats at The Green Dragon.

I am so blessed where I live. I could go to a farmers market every day if I wanted. I love hitting the stands that have produce that's marked down for quick sale. It may be bruised or close to expired but I have a freezer and a juicer. Got to pinch those pennies but try to eat well too. I haven't bought any junk food or soda in months.†


Clint Bowyer's wife is about to give birth to their first child so Matt Crafton, points leader in the truck series is on stand by just in case the baby decides to arrive this weekend.


A number of drivers will be sporting teal ribbons with Sherry Pollex's name on their cars this weekend. Sherry is Truex Jr's long time girlfriend. She's been fighting ovarian cancer and teal is the official color for ovarian cancer awareness. Last week Dale Jr wore teal gloves in the car. He put them up for auction on eBay with the proceeds going to the ovarian cancer research charity of Sherry's choice.


Michael Waltrip has made it to the next round. After watching the video I'm not understanding how. He and his partner did a Cha Cha. I should say that she did the dancing and he pretty much stood there. I'll be tuning into You Tube next week to see how he doesn't do.†


The investigation is over and now is moving on to a grand jury to determine what action to take if any. Stewart pledges his continuing support. NASCAR says they're monitoring the situation and will make no comment.†

I for one hope they bring Stewart's winged sprint car to the court house parking lot so every one on the jury can sit in it and see just what you can't see. From the 80's till now the wing has dropped so far down that you have an equivalent of a key hole to look out onto the track. Maybe they need to raise that wing. Just a thought.


†The usual suspects were up front most of the day fighting over first. Our rookie with the mostest Mr Larson is just awesome right now. He had the lead with 30 to go and kept it till with 23 to go Bowyer is in the wall for caution # 5 of the day. Larson & Harvick fought for several laps on the restart which gave Keselowski just what he needed to catch up and drive right between them for the lead and the win. Was bummed out about that. My dad and I were cheering Larson on. I really want to see the rookie win.

Top 15 finishers - Keselowski - Gordon - Larson - Logano - Harvick - Hamlin - Ky Bu - Ku Bu - McMurray - Kenseth - Dale Jr - Johnson - Kahne - Truex Jr - Newman


It's #2 race of the Chase. Almirola blew a motor and was the lowest Chaser on the finish in 41st. OUCH!!! Now he needs to win in the next 2 races. We were at this track in July of this year. Gordon and Harvick ran out of fuel losing their top 5 finishes. Hamlin pitted with 4 laps to go also giving up a top 5 finish. This is a 1 mile flat track. Very little banking. Got to keep those tires on the track in order to do well here.

Gordon - He's starting 13th. No worries. Top 10

Keselowski - On a tear all of a sudden. He's got pole this week and 2 W's in a row. He's punched his ticket to round #2 of the Chase. Will he lay back and ride or charge hard for 3 W's in a row? Top 10

Harvick - Starts 3rd. He was robbed by the fuel mileage bug in July. I say he'll be there for a top 10

Hamlin - Starts 4th and he says he has a #2 on his door. I'm guessing that means he's got something for Mr Keselowski. I'll bite. Top 10

Larson - That rookie with the mostest is hot right now. I'm betting on a W before the Chase is done.Got a 3rd place finish in July here. He's a quick study too. Top 10

Kenseth - He has no W's yet this year but he's in the Chase. Had a 4th in July. Top 10

Dale Jr & Johnson are not doing good right now. For what ever reason these 2 didn't get top 10's last week. I don't see top 10's this week either.

Logano - Starts 7th. Not really his track. Top 15

Newman - Starts 9th. Top 10

Ky Bu - He's been peeking in the top 10. Got one last week. As scary as it sounds, I'll give him a top 10 this week.

McMurray - Starts 2nd. He's been fighting and clawing his way to get top 10's and I'm betting he gets one this week.

The Danica - Starts 18th. She and her boyfriend Mr Stenhouse got into an on track oops last week. His fault. Bet it was a really quiet ride home last week. Top 20

Rusty Wallace's brother Mike will be in the #66 this week. A $5 value in salary cap leagues. Timmy Hill is back in the #32. Also a $5 value.

Well folks, big day ahead. Grandson #2 has a birthday party. So I probably won't see the race. I'll be helping with all the screaming sugared up kids. So I need to look over all my fantasy line ups in racing & football one more time.†

And I'm outta here.....

NASCAR Update And Other Fast Stuff 9-14-14
Category: Daily Blog 2.0
Tags: Chicagoland Chase 101 Ambrose Johnson Stewart Harvick

† † † † † † † † † † † † ††

La Dee Da Dee Dee. La Dee Da Dee Da folks. Welcome to my NASCAR updates and other fast stuff Gabbers and others. Been looking up at those same stars these 2 are a lot lately. Wondering about so many things. How do things go so badly in your life that you never want to see those stars again? It would seem that while I was at my Uncles funeral at lunch time the other Saturday, my brothers Ex and mother of his little girl was putting a needle in her arm for the last time. All the court room drama, the crazy accusations and fighting have all come to that last moment. Now there's a little girl who sits and looks at the stars wondering if her mommy is one of them.

Then there's Ace. He came into the world 6 weeks premature this Saturday night. He's early just like my Uncle Bud who passed away. He was 2 months premature. They put him between 2 pillows in the bun warmer side of the wood stove. No such thing as an incubator back then. You made due. So Ace my newest nephew starts out life a bit early. I just know he'll be a scrapper. So what do you see in the stars?

Been playing with my newest culinary impliment of vegetational destruction. Finally got me a Vitamix. Bought the base on eBay used for $109 and a Blendtek Wildside carafe for Vitamix blenders for $100. I will never peel another tomato again. Made the most awesome tomato sauce ever. 1 onion and 6 tomatoes, give out your best Tim Allen OH OH OH and VRRRRRRRRRRROOOOOOOOMMMMM-MMM-MMM-MMM. Life is good.†


Our Aussie has decided to hang up his Sprint Cup steering wheel at the end of the 2014 season and take his family back to Australia. He's happy with what he's achieved considering his racing back ground. In Australia there are no asphalt oval tracks. The Super 8 racing he came from was all road course. He's disappointed that he didn't win on an oval but he feels that it's time to take his kids back to the Australian way of life. He didn't give any clues as to what or if he'd be racing in the future. I say good luck to you Ambrose. Pleasure to have you in Cup.


Denny Hamlin's crew chief Darian will be back fresh off his suspension to jump up on the box at Chicagoland. Darian said it was a 10c part that failed on the car. It wasn't torqued correctly and became lose during the race. I think Knuas said the same thing about a few of his infractions too.†


Starting at Chicagoland Harvick will have Stewart's crew. Harvick never seems to be happy with any crew he has. I once watched a truck race where he fired his crew in the middle of the race but then recinded it after the race. I don't expect him to be happy with Stewart's crew either but SHR want to give Harvick the best chance at a Championship he can have. Good luck with that.


Johnson got out of his car after the Richmond race, sat down and couldn't get up. His crew helped him onto a golf cart and to the infield care center where he spent about 90 minutes getting fluids for severe dehydration. He blamed a new driver cooling system that wasn't functioning properly on his issue. He said they will be swapping out that new system back to the old tried and true one going forward.

†† † † † † † † † †


So it's now GO TIME. I stole that from a Go Daddy commercial. Actually it is go time. Go or go home. We're in the Chase. So here's the low down.

There are 16 drivers. Each starts with 2000 points plus 3 points for each win.


After the next 3 races, the 4 drivers at the bottom of the points are eliminated. A win in any of these 3 races advances you to the next round. Points are reset to 3000.


After the next 3 races, 4 more drivers will be eliminated from the bottom. Again, a win in any of these races gets you advanced to the next round. Points will be reset at 4000.


After 3 more races, 4 more drivers are eliminated. Again a win in any of the 3 races advances to next round. Points reset to 5000.


Simple as that box of chocolates Forest loves. Last race and who ever finishes the highest in that race out of the last 4 drivers gets the big trophy.†

Keselowski says the last 4 drivers will be himself, Logano, Gordon and Dale Jr. They have been the most consistant. My money is on Dale Jr. Just a feeling.

During the Chase the cars that are in the Chase at the moment will have markings. A yellow front splitter, Chase decal on the drivers door, yellow roof number and yellow name windshield visor. As they get eliminated they will go back to regular colors.


This is a 1.5 mile tri-oval track. Fast and bumpy, long green flag runs (usually) and pit road strategy will play a huge role in the out come.

Harvick - Won the Nationwide race Saturday with that pit strategy I just talked about. He starts 12th. Look for Happy to be in the top 10

Ky Bu -Won the truck race on Saturday. He's been so explosive lately in Cup. Most self explosive. He's got pole due to a rain out in qualifying. Not putting any bets on him.

Hamlin - He's just as inconsistent as his team mate Ky Bu. Not touching him either.

Johnson - Now that it's Chase time I'm guessing the all the monkey business is done. He'll be in the top 10.

Dale Jr - Mr Consistent starts 13th. Top 10

Gordon - Starts 8th behind Johnson. Top 10

Larson - Our rookie with the mostest. He scraped the right side of his car in practice after a tire went down. He finished 2nd in the Nationwide race. Starts 10th and he'll be a top 10

Edwards - Fastest in last practice. Starts 3rd. He's on a lame duck mission but I think a top 10 is doable.

Newman - Starts 2nd. Top 10

Kenseth led 89 laps last year on his way to the win. Repeat? Maybe. He starts 5th. More like top 10

Keselowski - Starts 25th. He struggled here last year. Top 10

McMurray - Doing awesome with the Hendrick cars this year. Top 10

The Danica - Was 2nd fastest in last practice. She starts 18th. Could she do another 6th place finish like at Atlanta? I hope so because I have her in one of my fantasy leagues but I'm not going to call it.†

Stenhouse - The Danica's sweety starts 4th. He had a top 10 last year.†

So we're off to the first race of the Chase. The NFL is off too. So is the NCAA. In more ways than we can count. Fantasy owners are miserable, Goodell is biting his nails and Pink-tober is around the corner. I think I'll just go out and do some star gazing. Any body else coming?

And I'm outta here.....

Sunday Musings #163
Category: User Showcase
Tags: NFL DenverBroncos BostonCollegeEaglesFootball Fantasy Football WNBA ChicagoSky HighSchoolSports

While possibly headed towards a Internet hiatus as my home computer seems to have died on me as of yesterday (Saturday September 5th)...

Don't forget, you can follow me on Twitter: @TheOneTrueJay


Denver Broncos - So...Wes Welker gets banged up on the field for his 3rd concussion within a year and everyone is concerned for his future welfare.

But a couple of days later, the concern goes out the window when his 4 game suspension for PEDs is announced. Apparently he decided to do some extracurricular celebrating at the Kentucky Derby and now he's going to pay the price.

You can imagine that Peyton Manning isn't going to be very happy with this turn of events. His initial comments gave you a little insight to what he was thinking. You know that "It's a self inflicted wound" can't bode well for Welker when he returns to the field.

Of course, you do have to wonder just how stupid Welker has gotten. PEDs? Really? For a guy who built is rep and career on being the scrappy underdog type of player, he's not going to get any sympathy for cheating this way.


I'm in two leagues this year, but for the first time I wasn't actually involved in the live drafts for either of the leagues. I got my teams autopicked and will have to see how I do with the computer's idea of stocking my team.

Is anyone else not quite feeling ready for fantasy season this year? I know that missing the live draft didn't bother me much at all. Could that be a sign that the allure of fantasy football is fading?


Typical, eh? Last season I rooted for the Chicago Sky as my secondary WNBA team because they had Carolyn Swords on the team. They cut her before the season this year and my fandom left with her.

And then earlier this week, the Sky advanced to the WNBA finals. ARGGGHH!


The high school season has gotten underway and while I have decided to pull back on my attendance at the fall sports events, I will still follow them through the papers.

Upper Cape Girls Varsity Soccer - The Lady Rams got off to a 0-1-1 start by tying Holbrook at nil and then losing to Bishop Connolly 2-0.

Wareham Girls Varsity Soccer - Despite a reported improvement in overall play, the Vikings dropped what is at least their 37th game in a row, falling 2-0 to GNB Voc-Tech.

Wareham Girls Field Hockey - The season opened with a 3-2 loss to GNB Voc-Tech. They lost on Friday to Apponequet 6-0.

Wareham Girls Volleyball - Their season opened with a 3 games to none loss to GNB Voc-Tech. Against Bishop Connolly on Friday, they lost 3-0 as well.

Here's some photos of my ex-players in action during the Voc-Tech match:


Raelyn (#9)

Wareham Football - I ended up attending this game because my girlfriend's daughter is in the marching band, so I promised to attend a game to see her perform. As for the game, Wareham went up 12-7 early but Bishop Stang rallied back to take 15-12 lead before a 64 yard punt return for a TD gave the Spartans control of the game and they rolled to a 42-26 victory over the Vikings.

One of my ex-players on the team is Josh, and he scored a 3 yard touchdown early in the game.


The BC Eagles opened up their season on Friday night and unfortunately for them, they came away on the wrong end of a 30-20 score versus Pittsburgh.†

Tyler Murphy (pictured below) was again the main star for the Eagles. The QB had a relatively inefficient night throwing the ball (10-27 for 134 yards and a TD while getting sacked 4 times) but he rant for 104 net rushing yards and another score.

But the Eagles defense gave up 416 yards of total offense including 213 rushing yards (and a TD) to Pitt's James Connor.


TV - The A&E network screwed over fans of the series Longmire this past week when they canceled the show after three seasons. It was a cancelation that reportedly took TV industry insiders by surprise. As a big fan of the show, I'm fed up with how A&E does business. They've fallen so far into the abyss of TV programming, there's really nothing left on the network I would watch without feeling the need to apologize to the entirety of mankind for doing so. (Yes, Storage Wars...this means you!)

And in really good news, the first season of the Robert Urich/Avery Brooks series Spenser: For Hire was released on DVD through Warner Archive's MOD program. I ordered it and now I'm in the midst of watching it. Though Robert B. Parker (the author of the Spenser prose novels) was not thrilled with Urich's portrayal, I've always loved him in the role and am a bit overjoyed that this show is now on DVD. Oh and Avery Brooks as Hawk still resonates strongly to this day.

I also picked up the second season of the sitcom†Benson†this week.

Books - I finished reading the Carol O'Connell book The Chalk Girl this week. I'm a bit behind on that series as the paperback was released in 2012, but the series heroine Mallory (don't call her Kathy), a sociopathic NYPD detective, is always a fascinating read and this entry in the series is no exception.

I also picked up the new Patricia Cornwell paperback called Dust. It is the latest in her Kay Scarpetta series. Now I just need to catch up on the series as I'm three books behind in reading.

Music - You can check out my review of the Night Ranger concert I attended back on August 20th via this KNAC.com link.

I also picked up a couple of new CDs. I went back in time a bit and picked up the first Night Ranger CD Dawn Patrol. And coming back to the present, I picked up the new Accept CD Blind Rage, which comes with a bonus DVD featuring a 22 live concert performance.

In sad news, one of my favorite singers passed away this past week. Survivor vocalist Jimi Jamison died at the age of 63 from a heart attack. His work with the band will always remain a highlight, but his earlier work with the groups Target and Cobra as well as his solo career and collaborative projects are also well worth the effort of tracking down.

Jamison was my first close up brush with rock star fame as I saw him with Survivor in 1986. During the encore of "Eye of the Tiger", I got to exchange a high five with him. At the time, it was quite a moment for me.

One of my favorite songs from his Survivor material is the track "It's the Singer Not the Song". You can check it out below.

His voice is one of the most underrated of the entire AOR genre and instantly identifiable. Though 63 may not seem young, it is still far too soon for his voice to have been forever silenced. RIP, Jimi.

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