After the Lady Railers volleyball team took care of Urbana, I
believe it made their record a solid 8-3 -- not bad for supposedly a
young squad. The spikers were headed to East Peoria and I haven't
heard how they did in those matches. I just wanted to say that I
have a sneaky suspicion about this squad. I think it is going to
grow and mature throughout the season. And when the playoffs roll
around, Lincoln is going to be a very tough out and a team that no
one will want to play. I like our chances when things are stated in
The LCC Angels are also off to a quick start, supposedly
with a young team themselves, but find themselves sitting at a
sparkling 11-2, including some outstanding tournament performances.
And you can't believe how many local products are hammering the
balls for the Angels. Come on out and see for yourself… and don't
forget to pencil in the dates for the national tournament here at
Lincoln Christian College on Nov. 10-12. Many of you loyal readers
and CITV-5 viewers have commented to me that you missed the event
the last year or two, so don't miss it this year. I promise you that
you will see some of the finest small-college volleyball anywhere in
We have not received any reports on LC volleyball at this time.
The St. Louis Cardinals clinched another division title -- this
one coming fittingly in their last season in Busch Stadium. And, no,
I didn't take any more pleasure in celebrating at Wrigley Field than
anywhere else (surely I jest?). It's just always nice to clinch
wherever and whenever you can. But does it mess with momentum when
you clinch so early? I think so! And while the Cards' starting
rotation is better this season, I'm not sure that the bullpen
strikes all that much fear in opposing hitters. And taking Rolen's
bat AND glove out of the lineup does not put me at ease. Sure, Abe
Nunez has been an outstanding fill-in for Rolen, and So Taguchi was
tremendous filling in for Larry Walker, and Jon Mabry was fantastic
playing for Reggie Sanders. Hector Luna has been solid as a utility
infielder, and Einar Diaz was more than adequate spelling Yadier
Molina. But is Reggie now healthy? Can Walker play two or three
games back-to-back? Is Mark Grudzielanek healthy and ready to go?
How banged up are Molina and Pujols, and can Edmonds shake off the
bumps and bruises to be especially productive? Those are just the
questions circling in my subconscious mind (I know… a very dangerous
place indeed). If I really give it some thought, I might get really
concerned and maybe even worried, but what was it that Alfred E.
used to say…???
And speaking of the Cardinals… Will it ever be possible for them
to enter the postseason healthy? The last time I remember that
happening was 1982 (OK, other than Joaquin Andujar's head, the Birds
were healthy… and don't call or e-mail me thinking I'm being
disrespectful. Andujar is one of my all-time favs. I was in the park
the night he hit a grand slam homer!). I'm just getting sick of
watching them limp into the playoffs every stinkin' time. Because of
injuries and not rewarding teams with the best records enough, I
think they should make the wild card routes much tougher. I'm
expecting a call from Bud Selig any day now asking for my advice on
how to set that up. And don't think I won't have some ideas for him!
How do you like Ron Zook so far? I called for his hiring the
minute I heard of his firing in Florida. I just felt his raw energy,
his intense desire and his outstanding recruiting practices would
play well in Illini-land… and I haven't been disappointed. And
unlike some fans, I won't be disappointed no matter what happens
this season… even if we lose a lot of games. It takes three to five
years to build a program, so I have some patience to extend to the
coach. I just love his imagination and his creativity on the
offensive side of the ball. I've told you before that I think I
missed my life's calling as an offensive coordinator (although I
heard the Vikings are looking for one?), and maybe that's why I
resonate so much with him. If Mike Mallory's defense can look like
it did in the first half Saturday at Cal for four quarters in most
games, the Illini will have more than a chance at being successful.
All that being said, I don't like the Illini's chances Saturday
versus MSU. They are so high after beating Notre Dame in South Bend
that I think the momentum is clearly on their side. However, if
55,000-60,000 fans show up and scream like crazy for the Orange and
Blue, maybe the "Bruce Weber effect" will continue to linger longer
(kudos to Taylorville reader John Coady for coining the phrase)! If
the Illini could somehow pull off a stunning upset of the Spartans,
then you may have something to talk about.
The Illinois State Redbirds are off to a 2-1 start, but I haven't
seen them (I haven't been to many games of any kind since last
winter and spring) and don't know much about them. I do trust head
coach Johnson to come up with a solid season, and these Redbirds
might just surprise you in many ways!
Will the real Chicago Bears please stand up? If you thought they
would look as good as they did against the Detroit Lions, please
raise your hand. You liars! I need to hang out with you if you
thought that. I watched their performance against the Redskins and
felt like they were headed for another disastrous season. But if
they keep playing like they did against the Lions, who knows? I
think they play the Bengals next, and that should give us a good
barometer on how good or bad the Bears really are!
The Rams eked out a win in the desert over the Cardinals and
former QB Kurt Warner to take their record to 1-1, but they could
easily be 0-2. Things look a little rocky in St. Louis… but, I hear
they have a decent baseball team there???
The Colts move to 2-0 and are showing a new wrinkle… How 'bout a
defense? If this is not a charade and is truly the form they will
demonstrate all season, maybe there's some hope that they could
possibly get by Pittsburg and New England… finally… once and for
Don't worry, White Sox fans! Don't panic yet. I still see
playoffs in your future (especially after that dramatic 10th-inning
win over the Tribe). Once you get there, you're on your own… but,
I'd love to see a Cardinals-White Sox World Series!
Non-sports items… alcohol and Katrina aftermath
Let's go with Katrina first.
As many in our nation play the blame game, especially as it
relates to what went wrong in the wake of the hurricane and flood's
aftermath, I refuse to do so. Do those people look at any of the
facts? The reports I have read say that havoc was wreaked over a
90,000-square-mile area. From what little I know about mobilization,
it would be virtually impossible to meet every need in the midst of
that much devastation. Especially when you consider that a vast
majority of first responders also had their OWN homes under water
and their own phone lines cut off
[to top of second column in this article]
Call me jaded if you'd like, but I'd much rather examine what
went right. Those responders and others, including some local
residents, simply got out there and did what needed to be done.
Bottom line is that you must stop the accident, and when someone is
thirsty they need something to drink. Can the response be quicker
and better? No doubt… but, we should always learn from one
experience and improve the next time. But this one was a massive,
destructive, chaotic catastrophe, and I take my hat off to those who
have tirelessly tried to help everywhere and in every way that they
My guess is that the Gulf Coast will STILL need our help three
months from now, a year from now and even three to five years from
now, and my hope is that we will still be ready to help when called
Lately alcohol and athletic codes have been the hot topic. [See
related article.] I
probably shouldn't touch this one with a 10-foot pole, but I'm
diving in anyway. While I understand that there are laws against
underage drinking and that codes are designed somewhat for the
safety of our students and society in general, I'm still a little
confused about the whole issue.
I certainly don't think I'm a prude about this subject. I think I
remember hearing in church once that even the Lord hung out with the
imbibers. And don't get me wrong, many of my closest friends have
lobbied to limit and eradicate drinking on many fronts. While I
usually don't march with them, I don't begrudge them their protests.
In fact, I say more power to them.
However, many of my friends drink, and I'm not going to stop
hanging out with them just because they do. I think most of them
respect me because I don't, or they just don't care one way or the
other. It is their choice to drink, and while I may not feel it is
best for them, I respect them, and it usually does not have a
significant effect on our friendship.
I can tell you a few things that I'm pretty sure are true. This
would not even be an issue if we were living in Europe, where
alcoholic beverages are seemingly a part of the meal. And while I
can hear many say they don't care what happens over there -- they
are only concerned about what happens here -- it does have bearing
on this issue. If alcohol is going to be so prevalent in our society
and specifically in many of our local events, aren't we getting a
lot like Europe anyway? And, if it is going to be a way of life
here, is it reasonable, rational and logical to think that our
teenagers are not going to partake?
I am mystified by those who think that since it's against the law
or against the code that that's going to stop anybody. Maybe I'm off
base here, but I just don't see how that's going to curb the
It appears to me that we have a lot of people telling the
youngsters not to do what they do but to do what they say. Has that
ever worked on any other subject matter?
My dad roughed up his body with years of alcohol and smoking
abuse. His doctor told me that his lifestyle took 10 years off of
his life. That had more of an impact on me than any law or code.
Those of you who know me know that I'm goofy enough without
adding the potential effects of alcohol into the mix. I have no time
nor can I risk any problems to myself or my family just so I could
possibly have a good time. And that doesn't even count the cost of
what some of my friends spend on liquor alone. I'll admit it -- I'm
too cheap to spend money like that.
I'd like to suggest something (and if it's already happening,
please forgive my ignorance). Why not educate our young people on
this (and other key life issues) in the schools? I'm not calling for
religious studies (although it probably wouldn't hurt anyone,
despite what the secularists might tell you). Let them learn about
alcohol from reputable sources. Perhaps, if they get info from their
peers and other sources that they trust, they will then be able to
make wise choices for themselves.
I think these kids are pretty smart and have the capacity to
overwhelm us if we let them. Has anybody ever considered raising the
bar to a higher level of expectation? They will hear that the
benefits of abstinence are not just potentially better health and
stronger bodies, but maybe better social consequences as well. And
if they do choose to drink, to do so in moderation and to realize
the possible risks and consequences that will come with that
decision. Many will need to stand strong and be designated drivers,
and if they see that their friends have had too many, to step in and
help avert any deadly accidents or other catastrophes.
I think the ATOD Task Force, Healthy Community Partnerships, MADD
and SADD, and a host of other organizations are already doing some
of these things. I'm asking for a much more stepped-up presence. I'm
amazed that there is not some room in the curriculum somewhere for
something this important. The life saved might be your own, your
child's or any other citizen of our community. How many more of our
precious loved ones will we have to lose before we start getting
more serious about this?
Are we comfortable allowing the law and a code to serve as our
safety backdrop? I am not. I plan to share with my child the
potential joys and evils, and for a few years he WON'T have a choice
in the matter. Some day when Mom and Dad are not around, he will be
confronted with the decision that all of us have at some point. I
will trust him to make the wise choice at that point, but it will be
HIS choice, and I hope and pray that he ALWAYS makes the safe
What say you on these matters?
And how 'bout the Jason Gore story? Is he the new John Daly or
what? Mired in the minor leagues of golf, he almost pulled off a
major upset at the U.S. Open. Then he went back to the Nationwide
Tour and won something like three events in a row. However, before
that he was making so little money he wondered if he had enough to
buy his baby formula. Then comes last week's 84 Lumber Classic on
the PGA Tour. It is also stacked with a field that included Phil
Mickelson and Vijay Singh. All Jason did was win the tourney -- at
times blowing the field away -- and pocket a cool $800,000. I'm not
sure, but I think that'll buy a lot of formula AND Pampers!
That's it for me, folks. Have a great month!