Belated mutterings     Send a link to a friend

By Jeff Mayfield

[JAN. 7, 2004]  Due to some untimely deaths and a visit to see one of my friendly doctors, my mutterings are a little late this week. Sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused our loyal readers.

I'd like to dedicate this week's Mutterings in honor of two great men who passed away this week, Gene Rutledge and Jack McQuellon. Gene is the father of loyal LDN reader Ken Rutledge (who is the father of former Railer Gabe Rutledge) and must've been a great guy to have fathered such outstanding children and grandchildren. McQuellon, as most of you know, had his own appliance store for several years near Scully Park. My wife and I rented from him during our first several years back in Lincoln, as he also had many rental properties and he was a wonderful landlord. I want to give both of these great men and their families an LDN salute, as I know they will be sorely missed!

Can I just say to start off 2004 what a pleasure it is to serve you?! So many of you stop me on the street or at lunch or take time to write nice, encouraging e-mails. Thanks for making this experience one of the most pleasurable in my life!

It is especially fun when you present a valid opposing view so we can hash it out. That's one of the many reasons that sports are so fun. I also like to remind our readers that we have a limited staff and a very limited budget. In addition to that, those who write on sports have young families, and their time is at a premium. Our dream and vision is to someday try to cover extensively most of the area's junior high and high school activity, as well as continuing to broaden our college exposure.

That is a mammoth undertaking, and unfortunately we're a long way from our goals at this time. Our editors, Jan Youngquist (with a little help from husband Jim), do a great job for our community with the LDN. They have been especially patient with people like Tom, Greg and me when it comes to our sports coverage. We basically have shared with them what games and teams we would be going to see anyway, and then we're afforded the opportunity to post our thoughts, reflections and opinions.  

Please keep in mind that we all realize that our contributions are only that. We are by no means experts like Dick Vitale and Digger Phelps. We're just some local guys who use sports therapeutically to help us get through the week. We don't mind if you don't take us all that seriously, as we try not to take ourselves so seriously either.

We write in a totally different style because we want to give you the feel like you were there, in the middle of the action! So, to all of our loyal readers, thanks for making the interactive LDN such a fun endeavor. Now, let's get to the action…

Hello America, I'm Brian Cook…

Did you see what Brian did last night in the Lakers' 107-90 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves? All he did in 30 minutes of action was score a career-high 16 points on 7-of-13 shooting from the field. He yanked down four rebounds, had a steal and a block, and he committed five fouls -- good thing you get six in the NBA!

With Karl Malone out of action and now with Shaq being day-to-day, Cook should see plenty of action!

Nice going, Brian! Your friends and fans are 100 percent behind you!

Smith, Illini staved off Redbird mutiny

The Illini would have been a ship without any oars Saturday had it not been for 7-foot-2 Nick Smith. He -- along with a gutsy performance from Deron Williams, who played 34 minutes with his jaw wired shut -- threw the Redbirds overboard in spite of a herculean effort by Lincoln's Gregg Alexander and his mates.

 

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ISU never intended to walk the plank and never intended to be cannon fodder in the Illini's impressive home court victims list. Alexander set the tone early by drilling two long treys, and if his running one-hander late in the game had fallen, ISU's mutiny would've resulted in a stunning upset. Alexander played tremendous defense, and he also inspired Marcus Arnold and Trey Guidry into a couple of their best performances all season. In fact, as one who sees a lot of ISU games, I felt it was the best I had seen them play in a couple of years! And I hope for them that it continues in Missouri Valley action.

But where would the Illini have been without Nick Smith? He hit some acrobatic shots, and late in the game when he picked up Williams' botched 3-pointer he was fouled. He stood at the line with 18.2 seconds left and his Illini trailing by two. They tried to freeze him, not once but twice, and Smith calmly sank both throws to even give Illinois the chance at averting the almost sure upset! Then Deron and Dee took over the overtime, and that was all, she wrote! Kudos to Nick Smith who is rapidly becoming the next Andy Kaufmann, the player fans love to hate… 

Kudos also to Alexander, who finished the night with 14 points, and he could've had a lot more if he wasn't so unselfish. He made Lincoln proud with another spectacular showing…

Railers continue to improve

The Lincoln Railers had impressive wins over Lanphier and Jerseyville and have upped their record to 9-5. This young team is amazing the critics but not themselves -- they just go out there and work hard to produce results. 

Mount Pulaski continues their march through the schedule by moving their mark to an impressive 12-2. 

The Lady Railers will take on a tough Taylorville squad Thursday night in Roy S. Anderson gym. A huge local crowd could make the difference in this ball game! Hint, hint!

Is it USC or LSU???

Don't look for help here -- we're more confused than you are. I must confess that I haven't seen more than a half of one game in USC's impressive campaign. But I have seen LSU -- and two years ago I saw them up close and personal when they battered a good Illini team (should those two words go in the same sentence?). I said then and I say now that they are the quickest and strongest team that I have seen in college football, period. Those kinds of attributes can win you a lot of games -- I think. I have some bias here, but I'd give the LDN vote to those mangy Tigers.

Baseball talk

Congratulations to Dennis Eckersley and to Paul Molitor for their election into the Hall of Fame -- two of the most worthy candidates selected in my lifetime.

Pete Rose came clean this week too. If he isn't worthy of the Hall of Fame, based on the field accomplishments, then there shouldn't even be a Hall. I would keep him out of the dugouts, though, because his actions as a manager have compromised the game.

And how not completing the Alex Rodriques for Manny Ramirez trade is not in the best interests of baseball -- then I don't know what is!!!

There's so much more -- but this week has already tired me out. I'll catch you next week here in Mutterings. Have a great week, everybody, and GO, ILLINI!!!

[Jeff Mayfield]

 

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