Thursday, June 26, 2008

Top Ten Reasons the Cubs will, again, sweep the White Sox

A long, long time ago...I can still remember how my pop and I would scream, yell and throw empty PBR cans at each other while watching the Cubs play the Whitesox before MLB started this AL vs. NL shit. My dad is my best friend, but when it came to that one day a year his Sox would battle my Cubs, we were more against each other than God fearin' Christians and radical Liberals could have ever been. On the day of the Crosstown Classic/Red Line Series, we wouldn't speak to each other until first pitch. And when that was finally delivered, put the women and children to bed, 'cause it got pretty god damned ugly between us. But now, his Sox are playing pretty well and my Cubs are surprising the hell outta' everybody. And staring today, my Cubbies will attempt to make it a clean sweep on the year against their Southside foes. These are my reasons why the Northsider's will sweep the Sox.

10. Scoring
The Cubs have crossed the plate 43 more times than the White Sox. Now, the Northsider's have had 81 more at bats than the Southsider's, but our pitchers have to stand in the box. The Sox have a washed up douche bag to take hacks for their pitchers.

9. Going Yard
The White Sox have belted 102 homers this season so far, the Cubs, 89. Meaning only that the Sox think about the long ball way too often. When you think of only hitting for the fences, more times than not, your ass is gonna pop out to the third baseman. When it comes down to it, small ball will win you games. The Cubbies got this down to a T.

8. Getting On
Cubs batters have driven in 33 more runners than Sox batters. Meaning, to me, that Cubs players have reached base 33 more times than Sox players. You can only score if you reach base. And, well, the Sox don't do that all too well it seems.

7. Gotta Score
There are three bases and one plate on every ball diamond around the world. And the Cubs have touched 75 more bases than the Sox have this year. To me, this means that the Northsider's get more hits to touch these bases. And more hits mean more runs. More runs means more wins.

6. Swinging the Stick
Of the top 30 batting averages in the majors, three Cubs are on the list (Theriot-.316, Ramirez-.303,Fukudome-.299). The bitch who catches for the Sox is the highest Southsider on the list at .297, meaning we hit the ball much better on the Northside.

5. You Closing Your Eyes?
The "Power Hitter" from South of Roosevelt Rd., Thome, has struck out 70 times this year. That's five times more than the Cubs strikeout leader Geovany Soto. I guess the "swing and a miss" will happen when all you think about is hitting the long ball.

4. Gettin' On
At .405 (Ramirez), .404 (Fukudome) and .391 (Theriot), the Cubs reach base more often than the Sox do. Quentin's .390 is the highest OBP for the Sox. With more guys reaching base, the better than chance of scoring runs. Ya' need runs to win games. If there ain't anybody on base, ya' ain't gonna score runs.

3. Keepin' it Simple
Keeping the ball on the ground is key to winning games as well. If a batter pops out every time at the dish he does nothing good for his team. Ryan Theriot doesn't have this problem. 114 times so far this season, he has grounded out to one of the players on the infield. Joe Crede, on the other hand, has popped out/flew out 100 times to players of the opposing team. Meaning that the Sox can't play small ball and dream about going yard each and every time.

2. Sweet Home Chicago
The Cubs are almost unbeatable at home. They are 33-9 while playing at the Friendly Confines. The Sox stand at 24-11 at the Cell. And I understand that the team I bleed Cubbie Blue for is going to the Southside this weekend, it's still Chicago. It's home, away from home. My boys will, once again, sweep the Sox this weekend with a couple two-tree homers by Aramis and Lee.

1. Loyalty
'Cause I hate the Sox.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Top Ten Sports Joints in Wrigley

So, this weekend in Chicago, will be, what I can only imagine the Olympics being like if we actually got the nod to host them here. No, no, no. I don't mean the countless number of amazing athletes who would be within the Windy City, nor do I speak of the magnificent match-ups between this country and that country on the soccer field, basketball court or swimming pool. What I'm actually talking about is the ridiculous amount of partying that will ensue outside of the Friendly Confines this weekend after the Cubs take on the White Sox in the Windy City Classic, and or, The Red Line Series. Kind of like what Matty said yesterday, this weekend all friends/family members who aren't with you in supporting the team of your choice become your foes that you wouldn't piss on if they were on fire. This weekend will be a tough one. Everybody finds out what color they bleed this weekend with the games on hand. But it runs much deeper than supporting the Cubs or the White Sox, doesn't it? Yes it does. You might decide which candidate you will support for the election this year. And you might decide what the name of your first born child will be while sitting in the bleachers. But a much harder question will arise in your mind. Like where the hell are you gonna go to celebrate after the game.

Now that we've the topic in mind, these are the Top Ten Sports Bars in Wrigley to celebrate a Cubbie victory or, I've got to be honest with this, drown the tears of a loss.

(And yes, I know that this will read like an advertisement for these places, but it's not. And if Dub's can promote his hobby on Vineline in each of his posts here, well, I can do the same thing.)

10. The Dugout-950 W. Addison St.
This is the closest bar to the Friendly Confines on this list. It is,literally, a hop, skip and jump away from the home of the Lovable Losers. But that name might change at seasons end. Anyway, this whole in the wall can make for a pretty good time. Sit at the bar and checkout the baseball cards set beneath the spot to rest your beer or watch the game on their plasmas. Scarf down a pretzel with cheese or a plate of nachos. But I warn you, if you're there on a day they are holding a hot dog eating competition, stay outta the way of the competitors, they can get a little unruly.

9. Cubby Bear- 1059 W. Addison St.
Right out the front door of the ball park. O.K. I rescind #10. This might be the closest bar to Wrigley. The 30,000 square feet of space this place is made of is packed tighter than a HEY...KEEP IT CLEAN. Sorry about that. The place is always full after games and rivals with Murphy's for most famous bar to drink at after a Cubs win. You might find a live band rockin' out or a DJ spinning some of today's best.

8. Red Ivy- 3525 N. Clark St.
A relative new comer to the area, Red Ivy is more of an upscale sports bar than the others on this list. It surely is a sports fan bar though. Within the 6,000 feet of drinking and dining space there are seven 42-inch plasmas, three 60-inchers and one giant 90-inch projection t.v. to catchall of the action. Oh yeah, they also have t.v.'s in the bathroom so when you're draining the lizard, you won't miss Ted Lilly's heater to the chin of any White Sox player.

7. Vines on Clark- 3554 N. Clark St.
The kid brother bar to its neighbor to the North, Vines is brought to Cubs fans from the same guys who do Cubby Bear. This place is where you need to be if you want to drink outside. A huge street level beer garden, an open aired patio and a roof top bar/deck can fill the need for sun and drink.

6. Houndstooth- 3438 N. Clark St.
To some, this may not qualify as a sports bar. But anyplace that gives mad cred to Bear Bryant qualifies as a sports joint to me. The Southern feel to this place will comfort you and the Southern style food made in the kitchen will bring you back again and again. Or maybe it will just be the fine drinks whipped up for you by the cute bartender (Lacey) wearing a jean skirt and cowboy boots. I'll leave that for you to decide.

5. Murphy's Bleachers- 3655 N. Sheffield Ave.
Murphy's bleeds Cubbie love. And so do the fans that pack this place to the ceiling before, during and after every home game. It's a big sized place with open-air for all to enjoy. Try the homemade soup of the day or the chili while sitting atop their roof trying to steal a peak of the game across the street.

4. Bernies- 3664 N. Clark St.
Season ticket holders, a few announcers and even a couple two-tree players frequent this pub before and after the games. This place is so Cubs driven, the regulars set up trips to spring training out in Mesa each year. Sip up some suds in the bar or out in the back in their beer garden while enjoying a nice friendly game of Corn Hole/Bean Bags. Why can't we all decide on just one name for this damn game?

3. Sluggers- 3540 N. Clark St.
Sluggers has been described by some as being a "neighborhood sports baron steroids." And I'm pretty sure I'd agree with that. You can drink and dance 'till ya puke on the first floor, atop one of the dueling pianos if you wish, and try your luck at hitting a heater in the second floor batting cages until 3 AM on Saturdays. Or you can drop coins to play video games, pool or mini-bowling. It's kinda like a Chuck E. Cheese for 21-26 year old kids.

2. Mullens- 3527 N. Clark St.
Doesn't matter if it's Matty or Karl behind the bar, Mullens is the place for Cubs fans to belly up to the bar and enjoy a cold one after a game and eat some good 'ol pub grub. TRY THE WINGS!!! From throwing darts to having a quick 18 on the course (I can't remember what that friggin' golf game in bars is called for some reason), the fun that happens in this pub, named after Jim Mullen-a Chicago police officer wounded by gunfire, is worth waiting in line for. Slip JP a fiver and you might have a quicker entrance.

1. Merkles-3516 N. Clark St.
Opened in December '04, in the old Billy Goat Tavern. This place has it all, food, drinks and women. What else is needed to celebrate kicking the shit outta the White Sux, er, White Sox? "Big D's" homemade burgers, zesty wings and, quite possibly, the best tasting chicken sandwich on the street, will have you returning every time the Cubs are playing at home. Everybody, and I do mean EVERYBODY, who steps into this place will leave feeling a little bit better about their day. If it isn't the women (Amy, Courtney, Shannon, Shauna, Megan, Lauren) delivering trays of "Bootie Call" fish bowls or the talented women (Mary Beth, Beth) pouring drinks from behind the bar, it might be the voice of Chris Buehrle singing from the front window or the guys in the back blasting critters on the hunting game. (And now I've lost memory of this friggin' game.)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Top Ten Harry Caray Quotes

For years and years and years, saying that I was a Chicago Cub fan would get me a collective sigh from those around. And saying those words would also get plenty to say: "I'm sorry", "Are those guys ever gonna win?" and "Oh, you like the Lovable Losers." And I'd always tell the people who spoke such, that my Cubbies would win someday, and that I'd be a fan for life. But I'm not gonna lie, there were times that I did almost jump ship and not look back. These times weren't when the bums South of Roosevelt Rd. won their championship a few years back. And now, in a time that gives Cub fans around the world such excitement and anticipation for the rest of the Summer to play out, I must do two things:

1. Apologize to all the faithful whom have always believed that "this year, is gonna be our year." And to those who've never thought of changing their hearts for any other team. And to the one who used to watch day baseball every day from her living room in Joliet as she told me that the Cubs would win it all someday. And when that day did come, I was to celebrate for her, because she knew that she wouldn't be around to see it. (We'll get it for ya' Grandma.)

2. Have all Cubs fans to declare openly, and proudly, that we, the people, whom bleed Cubbie blue and cry Old Style tears, will stand by our Cubbies through thick and thin, through good times and bad, and wait patiently for the celebration to begin. And when it does, we the people, are to scream from the bar tops of Wrigley with uncontainable glory, and cry with happiness as the 27th out is made during game seven of the World Series and to drink until we can't possibly consume one more drop of beer five days after the season has ended. And when the celebration is done, to go and visit, with plenty of more cold beer of course, our good friend who rests at All Saints Cemetery in Des Plaines, Illinois.

Because if it wasn't for our old pal Harry, we would have never believed so long that the Cubbies were gonna win it someday. And we would have never heard him confuse players names like "Jim Sandberg", "Ryne Sanderson" or "Scott Sundberg", like he did during the '87 season when Ryne Sandberg, Jim Sundberg and Scott Sanderson were all proudly on the roster. Nor would we have ever heard the man, who loved unusual names, try to pronounce names backwards.

Harry, this one's for you, bud.

10. “You know they're not going to lose 162 consecutive games.”
And, well, Harry was right. Sure, the club he joined after the 1984 season, the year the Cubs had only won 38 games, had a lot of work to do to improve, but he knew it wouldn't get worse than that year.

9. "Aw, how could he (Jorge Orta) lose the ball in the sun, he's from Mexico."
Never known to be very P.C. when broadcasting, Harry told it how it was. If somebody would make comments like he used to on the radio today, they would probably be the last thing that person ever said on the air. Imagine: "And here comes the grounds crew out to cover the field with the tarp, we'll be under delay now. And, ya know Len, I'm glad these guys are getting onto the field now, laying the tarp. I mean, after they realized that they couldn't cut it as players, at least they can get on the field this way and help them to live up to their dream."

8. "I've only been doing this fifty-four years. With a little experience, I might get better."
From '45-'69, Caray called games for the St. Louis Cardinals, spent one year with the Oakland Athletics, 16-years with the White Sox and 15 with the Cubs. He also called games for Missouri Tigers football, St. Louis University-Billiken basketball, the Boston Celtics and St. Louis Hawks Basketball teams and three Cotton Bowls. Yeah Harry, you could of used just a bit more practice.

7. "Oh, I get a little tired now and then, but knowing my lifestyle, that's only natural."
Harry was 83-years old when he left us. But not for a minute, did he ever let his age take
issue with his love for a good time. If it was sipping cold ones in the booth, or stripping down
to his shorts to beat the heat, Harry was always there to give us, the fans, everything he could.

6. "They (Expos fans) discovered 'boo' is pronounced the same in French as it is in English."
He was always a joker. He looked at baseball, and he saw a game. It was something that
people could go out to enjoy and have a good time. It wasn't anything more to him.

5. "This has been the remarkable thing about the fans in Chicago, they keep drawing an average of a million-three a year, and, when the season's over and they've won their usual seventy-one games, you feel that those fans deserve a medal."
He was always so worried if the fans were having a good time or not. If the stands had 1,386 people sitting in 'em, drinking piss warm beer and eating hot dogs with ketchup and his Cubs were leading 17-2 or the place was packed, all the beer consumed and not a single dog left in the place and we were losing 10-3, as long as the fans were having a good time, Harry was happy.

4. "I figure I had no business being here this long anyway, so what do you care how old I am? I've been on borrowed time for years. You know my old saying: live it up, the meter's running. I've always said that if you don't have fun while you're here, then it's your fault. You only get to do this once."
Maybe just the best bit of advice anybody could give, and or, receive.

3. "Booze, broads, and bullshit. If you got all that, what else do you need?"
-Booze? With all the bars around the Friendly Confines, booze is taken care of.
-Broads? Have you seen the competition that the Sun-Times is holding to decide which team has the best looking female fans? Broads are taken care of as well.
-Bullshit? It's been 100 long and tiring years with morons running the team, from both the field and the front offices. We got plenty of bullshit.

2. "When I die, I hope they don't cremate me 'cuz I'll burn forever.”
Sadly, in a restaurant in Palm Springs, enjoying a meal with his wife Dutchie for Valentine's Day,
Harry had a heart attack. He was rushed to the hospital but never regained consciousness and died four days later.

1. "I knew the profanity used up and down my street would not go over the air...So I trained myself to say 'Holy Cow' instead.”
If this were truly the case, which I'm sure it was, Harry would have swore alot. It seemed that every time he spoke, there was at least one "Holy Cow" in every phrase.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Top Ten Reasons Gable Was So Damn Good.

When I was 10-years old, a 5th grader at Channahon Jr. High School, I served the only detention assignment I ever received by Ms. Perkins, the teacher who thought I was goofing around with a Bunson burner. Because of that hour and 15 minutes I was forced to spend with the creepy librarian after school that day, I missed the first day of basketball practice. Not wanting to be the kid who was a day behind in drills, I opted for the only other sport going on at the time, wrestling. But I knew nothing about the sport except Hulk Hogan was the man and Jimmy "Super Fly" Snuka could jump off the top rope and come damn close to the other side of the ring before crashing his head into the poor sap lying on the mat beneath him. I was so angry at that woman for punishing me for igniting the burner and I promised myself that I would, some day, get her back for making me miss the first day of practice, making me take part in a sport I knew nothing about. The next week, wrestling started, and on the first day, our coach asked us all what we wanted from the sport. Some said they wanted to be in the WWF someday. Others said they wanted to beat people up. But one of us sitting on the mat said he wanted to be like Gable. Besides him and the coaches, nobody else knew who Gable was. But for the next eight years, the day I sat with the librarian never crossed my mind again as I found that crushing noses with devilish cross faces and popping shoulders out of sockets with an arm bar or a double chicken wing was much more enjoyable than sinking a free throw or draining a three ever could have been, so thanks Ms. Perkins and I'm going to let you decide which answer is correct for the following question: What is wrestling?

A: Wrestling is a sport in which two unarmed opponents grapple with one another and try to secure a fall, i.e., cause the opponent to lose balance and fall to the mat, and ultimately pin the supine opponent's shoulders to it, through the use of body grips, strength, and adroitness.

B: A fake sport on television, loaded with monstrous men and scantly clad women, who are more often than not, complete knock-outs. The women not the men.

C: When two guys wear tight outfits and touch each other as they roll around on the floor for all to observe.

If you chose C, you don't know shit. If you're answer was B, well, you're kinda right but not totally. And if you chose A, congrats, you just won a button.

Dan Gable is the man who, still to this day, is the best wrestler and/or wrestling coach ever to step onto a mat. And these just may be the ten reasons why he was so damn good.

In 1963, Dan Gable began his wrestling career. Though he wasn't allowed to wrestle on the varsity level his freshman year, for the next three three years he went undefeated, 64-0, and won three state championships, which gained him a scholarship to the University of Iowa, the toughest wrestling program in the country.
"Right out of high school I never had the fear of getting beat, which is how most people lose."-Gable

During the summer months between his high school graduation and his first day of college, Gable trained with Bob Buzzard. Buzzard had won a pair of Big Eight (the old school Big Ten) wrestling titles and wanted to help Gable become better. There were days that Buzzard would crush Gable on the mat, and days that he'd fool around and let the young boy make some moves on him. But on their last day of training together, Buzzard decided to show Gable, beside his three state titles in high school, he had a ways to go to make it on the college level. After that day of training, Gable fell with tears of disappointment in himself.
"I vowed I wouldn't ever let anyone destroy me again. I was going to work at it every day, so hard that I would be the toughest guy in the world. By the end of practice, I wanted to be physically tired, to know that I'd been through a workout. If I wasn't tired, I must have cheated somehow, so I stayed a little longer."-Gable

He pushed his body to its limit. He pushed his body passed its limit. He wouldn't let himself enjoy all the nice things others enjoyed. He had a dedication, a love even, for being the best. And even though he was the best, he never let himself feel that he was the best. He was an offensive wrestler at all times. He would always attack and didn't wait for his opponent to do such. And never, did he give an opponenet a second to relax or counter any of his attacks.
"I shoot, I score. He shoots, I score."-Gable

After graduation, he attended the greatest wrestling college in the country, University of Iowa, and continued his dominance on the mat by going 118-1, improving his career wrestling record to 182-1, with two national championships. His only defeat came in the NCAA finals his senior year, losing to Larry Owings, a sophomore from the University of Washington. Owings cut weight to wrestle Gable at the tournament. At the end of the first period, Gable trailed 7-2. He rallied to tie the match at 8 apiece by the end of the second. But he ended up losing 13-11 for the only loss of his wrestling career.
"All I worried about was what (Owings) was doing to me, instead of what I was doing to him. When you start worrying about that stuff, you're going down the wrong path.”-Gable

After graduating from U of I, he trained heavily for the Olympics. For three years, he trained seven hours a day, rain, shine or snow, everyday of the week. He climbed ropes to build his strength and endurance, ran up and down stairs with teammates on his back, ran non stop for cardio and, obviously, still practiced his wrestling techniques.
"When I lifted weights, I didn't lift just to maintain my muscle tone. I lifted to increase what I already had, to push to a new limit. Every time I worked, I was getting a little better. I kept moving that limit back and back. Every time I walked out of the gym, I was a little better than when I walked in."-Gable

Even though his college wrestling days were over, he still trained. He trained for the titles he won at the '71 Pan American Games, the '72 Tbilisi Tournament, the '71 World Championships and the six Midlands Open Championships he was victorious in. It was a beautiful dominance by maybe the most dedicated athlete ever.
"Gold medals aren't really made of gold. They're made of sweat, determination and a hard-to-find alloy called guts."-Gable

In 1972, Gable tore cartilage in his left knee and refused a doctors recommendation of surgery. He kept practicing and changed his style of wrestling from offensive to defensive-offensive. Then the '72 Olympics began. These games were the games the Russian's vowed to find a man to beat Gable. They failed. And so did every other country who had a man facing Gable on the mat. Gable won the gold medal, without allowing a single point to any of the opponents he faced. Bobby Douglas, the Hall of Fame Iowa State coach, compared Gable's dominance to "that of a major league pitcher throwing 3 no-hitters in a single World just never happens."
"The 1st period is won by the best technician. The 2nd period is won by the kid in the best shape. The 3rd period is won by the kid with the biggest heart."-Gable.

After he had finished his years of dominance on the mat, Gable dominated from the edge of it. Over his 21-year coaching career, his teams won 15 National Championships, nine of which were consecutive. His overall career dual meet record as a coach is 284-16, perhaps making him the coach with the greatest win percentage of all time.
"More enduring than any other sport, wrestling teaches self-control and pride. Some have wrestled without great skill - none have wrestled without pride.”-Gable

He was a true coach. He didn't let his wrestlers slack. He pushed them all just as hard as he pushed himself all those years. If a wrestler wasn't up for it, they weren't expected to return. Gable wanted purity for the sport. With a coaching record like the one he holds, I'm pretty sure his wrestlers followed him. He wouldn't let anything hold his men back.
"But we've got to work. We can't just live on reputations at all-by any means.”-Gable.

Perhaps the reasoning behind Gable's determination to be the best wrestler in the World as we know it, to be so driven to be the best, and to destroy every opponent, but one, over his entire career, is this: In 1964, Gable, then a 16-year old sophomore, went with his family on a fishing trip over the Memorial Day weekend. His sister Diane, 19, didn't want to go and stayed home for. Upon the return of the family to their home in Waterloo, Iowa, the family discovered that Diane had been sexually assaulted and murdered. Gable remembered a one time friend of Diane's who once had said he was interested in her named Tom Kyle. Kyle confessed to Diane's murder and assault and was sentenced to life in prison. But the loss of his big sister turned Gable into a machine who was obsessed with wrestling.
"Once you've wrestled, everything else in life is easy."-Gable.