For the long-suffering,
I'll parcel out some long and boring details over the next few
months, but let's just say that the experience has been really
interesting so far. We are in the process of moving our stuff up
here (so, if you're in the market for a beautiful older home, please
contact me immediately) and are currently camping out in our new
(older) home that has a pretty decent view. People have been warm
and friendly and have welcomed us up here pretty well. It is a
beautiful place with pretty rivers, lakes, trees, trails and parks.
That is probably enough and may border on way too much information.
Obviously, not having a physical presence in Lincoln will
drastically reduce my reporting (for those of you who have never
cared for it, this should come as good news). For the few of you who
do care, I will try to put together at least some kind of monthly
report. I have spoken to Jim and Jan, and I told them that I
understand if and when they have to pull the plug on me. There are
still some sports and some teams that I will be keeping partial
contact with, and I will try to update you on those as best as I
can. If you love local junior college or high school sports and can
string two sentences together (oops… I can't even do that), you
might want to contact the LDN, as they might have a place for you.
That's enough blabber… What's happening in sports?
Illini give me cause…
to doubt them after last week's showing… or lack thereof. I
wonder if they knew they had a game in New Jersey last Saturday?
Luckily I was in the midst of working 15 consecutive days and I had
(got) to miss it. From all reports, my long, hard work day was a
better performance than anything the Illini put in on that fateful
I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that it was a fluke. I'm gonna
say that the Illini are really not as bad as they proved or didn't
prove last week. I'm gonna say that Rutgers is a lot better than
Illini fans can possibly understand (well, they did go something
like 7-5 last season, and that was after losing at Illinois in
overtime). I think the Scarlet Knights are pretty well-coached as
This week will therefore be a true test for the Orange and Blue.
A win over Syracuse will not come easy, but would go a long way to
re-establishing confidence in every conceivable way. It would be a
big shot in the arm to the players and especially to coach Ron Zook.
It would be a building block to getting to three or four victories,
which would demonstrate the beginnings of the rebuilding of the
A loss here would not be the end of the universe (close, though),
but on the other hand, it could have a devastating effect on the
immediate future. College football teams and programs are extremely
hard to resuscitate. At last report the Illini were starting 14
freshmen, the most in the nation. Hopefully the experience will pay
off for Illinois sooner than any of us can hope or think.
I'm keeping my fingers crossed for an Illini victory, but I do
think it will be a huge struggle. A predicted crowd of only
40,000-45,000 patrons are expected to be on hand (I guess a lot of
people really like mowing their yards, reorganizing their garages or
watching all those over-hyped East Coast teams on TV), and that's
too bad for the team and the program. They didn't create this
situation, but they have to live with it. I can tell you from
experience that the bigger and more raucous the crowd, the bigger
the home-field advantage. This team needs a break, and a large,
vocal crowd would go a long way toward helping Illinois make its own
breaks! You know I'll be rootin' for 'em up north… I'll be the guy
Cardinals' condition status improves
Not more than a couple of weeks ago the St. Louis Cardinals were
on life-support. They had lost a lot of games, and the Cincinnati
Reds and the Houston Astros were breathing right down their necks.
In fact, the train wreck was so complete that the difference between
the Reds and the near-dead Birds was mere percentage points!
Up from the grave they arose! I'm supposed to be a trained
baseball and sports eye, but for the life of me I can't tell you how
they did it.
Albert Pujols should get a nice check at the end of the year. Oh…
you say he already makes millions of dollars. Well… when he submits
his towing bill to the Redbird front office, there'll be some of the
heftiest charges you've ever seen. He has carried this ballclub
about as far as any one player could carry any franchise. Try these
numbers on for size, and if you don't believe me because you accuse
me of being a homer or ringer fan for the Cardinals, these stats
come courtesy of Jayson Stark of ESPN:
If you thought big Albert did enough last year when he
contributed 16.5 percent of the Redbirds' runs, in 2006 he's
contributed only… 17.2 percent. Lately you've heard a lot of talk
about him losing ground in the MVP race to Philadelphia's Ryan
Howard. Howard is refreshing and an exciting development in MLB to
be sure. But even IF he hits 60 homers and drives in 150 runs, would
he be "more" valuable than Big Alberto? More evidence has surfaced.
In comparing Pujols with Howard, how about these eye-catching stats?
Looking at batting average with runners in scoring position, it's
Pujols' .389 to Howard's .248! Look what the numbers do when you
tweak them with two outs and RISP: It's Pujols' .421 to Howard's
.230! And with two outs and any runners aboard, again it's Albert
.359 to Howard's .227.
[to top of second column]
As illuminating as those numbers are, they pale in comparison to
the next piece of evidence. According to the stats (and I think
those are compiled by the Elias Sports Bureau, to give the proper
credit), how 'bout plate appearance productivity? Well, Howard has
been to the plate 197 times with RISP and has delivered 73 RBIs.
That's pretty darn good, and I don't care if Elias is counting them
up with a fancy computer or if you're adding them up with a pencil
at home in your basement. With Albert having to cover for a weak top
of the order, he came to bat with RISP only 150 times. So how did he
fare? Seventy-two RBIs! That is a mind-blowing stat to me.
Oh, and in case you like a little defense with your cheese and
brats (sorry, it comes with the new territory), Mr. Pujols just
happens to be playing some pretty stingy defense as well (what next,
guys trying to become complete ballplayers again?). Albert currently
ranks in a tie for third in overall defensive stats for NL first
I'm not trying to sway your opinion. I'm just solely presenting
the facts as they have been presented to me. I've always had
confidence in you loyal LDN readers to make fair and just decisions.
With that in mind, would you allow me to present just one more
statistic? I knew you would! Of Albert's 45 home runs, an amazing 18
of them have been game-winning RBIs! Isn't that incredible? It's
even more incredible when I tell you that's the most ever since
divisional play (and that started when? in 1969 or in 1970?). As a
matter of fact, it's the most since my man Willie Mays hit 19 of
them in 1962 (I told you Mays was the best of all time).
What does all this mean? It means if they don't give the MVP
(which they probably won't) award to Pujols, they will need to sing,
"We're so sorry, Uncle Albert!" It also means that I'm so glad that
somebody in the St. Louis organization found Pujols and fought to
sign him. History might make that guy a saint!!!
I almost called several of you recently to come and rescue me.
This place is so full of Green and Gold I've been having a lot of
trouble with my vision. And even though the Chicago Bears had a
decent season last year, their games in Lambeau Field always seem to
go south in a hurry. I was shuddering all week and especially Sunday
thinking about all the bad possibilities… but your Bears prevailed.
I breathed a little sigh of relief. The reality, though, was that
the outcome could've been a lot worse.
I haven't studied nearly enough to give you any insights on this
NFL season except to say that it will be another long year for my
Raiders and 49ers.
The Colts won the battle of the Manning boys, but will Indy have
enough production in their running game to overtake Pittsburg or New
England? You tell me.
I have to admit, but I was really stunned by the Rams'
performance versus Denver. I can't tell you how happy that made me.
I know that Tiger didn't fare well in the World Match Play event,
but is that really a legit tournament? The streak Woods has been on
has been remarkable. It seems that after his father died, he turned
it up a notch or two and left everyone else in the dust. I told you
he's the best of all time, and I think he will continue to prove it
for many more years to come.
Well, that'll do it for this hoser this time. Sorry it's been a
while since the last report, but with moving, a new job, getting my
kid in school (whine, whine) I've paid little to no attention to
sports. I'll soon try to get back in the groove.
I do want to take this opportunity to thank all of my friends,
good citizens, the LDN, CITV5 and other media moguls, and anyone
else who helped give us a proper send-off. Thanks for everything you
did on our behalf. We were happy to accept a new challenge up here
and to live in a place where we've vacationed for years, but we were
very sad to leave Lincoln. I had invested about 23 years in Logan
County and will always count the community as one of the best places
to live anywhere in the country. I will try to check back in with
you guys monthly (or even more often if the schedule permits) and
share what little insights I may or may not have at that point.
Until then… PEACE OUT!!!
Respond to the writer at