Corporate cup

... So my company is competing in the annual Corporate Cup Challenge again this year.

I'll explain.

The Challenge is a 6-week fitness competition between various companies in the city, and participants earn points every day for exercising and eating healthy foods. We can earn up to six fitness points per day (one point for every 15 minutes or activity, or one point for every 2,000 steps walked) by doing anything from biking to weight lifting to walking to playing basketball. And if you cross-train, i.e. participate in more than one fitness activity, you can notch an additional point daily. Additional daily points come from eating at least six servings of fruits and vegetables a day, drinking six glasses of water and not smoking ...

And that's still not all. Individuals can rack up 10 points for participating in various community events -- the MS walk, Race for the Cure, Crop Walk, etc., in addition to points for checking your cholesterol, body fat and blood pressure checked ...

Once again, to encourage some friendly competition, our company allowed us to break into smaller teams of four. I teamed up again this year with my friends Brian and Liz, and we added our office fitness guru, Gary. We call ourselves The Fitastic Four ...

Funny though, Gary doesn't seem to be taking this whole challenge thing as seriously as the rest of us. (Liz, Brian and I are ultra-competitive...)

Last year, we annihilated the other teams in our company. And we're out to do it again this year. Maximum points is our daily mantra ...

We have to turn in our point totals every Monday and we submitted 373 this morning for Week No. 1. That's actually 15 points lower than we posted during Week No. 1 last year. But we still managed to top the second-place team by several dozen points ...

Oh, and new this year, we can earn one point for every week we avoid a pre-determined habit or behavior ...

What a stupid overachiever I am. I chose to avoid two habits: fast-food and caffeine ... and I'm feeling it.

Bad customer service

In a story I caught today about The Customer Service Hall of Shame, I found it very interesting that Sprint overwhelmingly ranked as the company with the worst customer service ...

I'm a Kansas City boy. I want to be loyal to Sprint ...

But I'm still bitter about my experience last summer ...


Sunday reading

Some of the headlines that caught my eye this past week ...

Life & stuff
a Making a master list: Truth be told, we're all getting old, so we need to figure out what we still want to do
a I have a quirky compulsion or two, too
a Unexpected, Top to Bottom: An Attic With High Ceiling, Tons of Light
a Journalism's Greatest Generation

a 9/11 was bad, but ...
a Tenet Tries to Shift the Blame. Don't Buy It.

a Schilling blasts media, offers $1M blood bet

Music & TV
a Latest batch of network pilots follows 'Heroes' into supernatural realm, but humor is promised
a '30 Rock' just might make it after all ... Ok, ok. I didn't believe in it when it first started airing last fall. But '30 Rock' has hooked Kates and I with its quirky cast of characters, outlandish storylines and crazy tricks ...
a Ailing TV shows await the ax or the reprieve ... I love 'According To Jim' and 'Scrubs' but I probably won't shed many tears if they go. But, hey, CBS: Pllllllleeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaasse bring back 'The Class' ...
a Race as a part of the 'Idol' race
a The journey shapes the singer
a A call 'home'; 'Laverne' talks about DVD, Lakers, Knapp St. life
a 'Little House' legacy lives on: Marking 75 years of book series
a Morissette speaks volumes about sex, power and YouTube with a sly spoof

Taking care of Chloe

This weekend Kates and I once again are taking care of the world's most lovable dog ...


She was a little tired Saturday night after rolling in our grass, chasing squirrels and running all over our backyard for most of the day ...

And then she did it all over again today ...


Memory lapses

Onion reads

MLB Credits Hank Aaron With 50 Lost Home Runs

The Onion

MLB Credits Hank Aaron With 50 Lost Home Runs

MILWAUKEE—In what Major League Baseball officials are calling a "long overdue correction of a gross oversight," Commissioner Bud Selig announced yesterday the discovery that Hall of Famer Hank Aaron had in fact accumulated 50 previously...

Middle East Conflict Intensifies As Blah Blah Blah, Etc. Etc.

The Onion

Middle East Conflict Intensifies As Blah Blah Blah, Etc. Etc.

MIDDLE EAST—The U.N. has issued a strongly worded thingy denouncing someone or something having to do with the vicious suicide whatevers that tore across some city this week.


Idol bore

So I watched Idol last night ...

Songs of inspiration was the theme.

More like songs to bore you.

Not one of the performers inspired me. Even the strong song choices -- Blake did John Lennon's "Imagine" -- were dull.

... Then again, my gas tank was nearly empty last night by the time we sat down for Idol. I was exhausted, and I wasn't in the most spectacular of moods. I barely remember any of Jordin's performance because I was starting to doze, and that performance is the one people appear to be talking about today.

Oh well.

The sentiment carried over into tonight's show too. I know, I should be ashamed of myself, but I wasn't really loving the whole "Idol Gives Back" charity-fest either. I'm sorry, but that's not why I watch the show ...

OK. But that Elvis-Celine Dion duet was amazing. I really want to know how they pulled that off ...

See ya Rosie!

Rosie has fallen from The View.

Never watched The View while Rosie was on it ...

But from all I've read about her tumultuous season on the show ...

Not surprised.


Motto for 2007

A guy I work with told me yesterday his motto for 2007: If it ain’t The Shins, it’s s#@%!

I burst out laughing, patted him on the shoulder and told him he was a good man.

Seriously. I bought “Wincing the Night Away” like two months ago, and no matter how hard I try I can’t bring myself to remove it from my car's CD player. And the couple nights I have managed to bring it in the house, I always wind up bringing it back with me the next morning. I’ve listened to at least a portion of the disc every day I’ve owned it. And I’m still not sick of it. It’s that great of an album …

The band rocks a bit harder on “Wincing” than it did with the acoustic, jangly pop songs that laced “Oh, Inverted World” “Chutes To Narrow,” but the signature elements remain. Singer-songwriter James Mercer’s soaring vocals often evoke thoughts of Brian Wilson in his heyday, while the light and simple melodies may draw comparisons to Simon and Garfunkel — with the edge of Weezer.

Between their vintage rock ‘n roll riffs and simple pop hooks, the band also wears influences of alternative, country and folk. They even insert looping hip-hop beats backed by a flute on “Sea Legs” ...

… “Sleeping Lessons” might be the best lead-off track I’ve ever heard on an album -- the way it starts with that mind-bending keyboard arpeggio intro and piles layers of instruments before that huge crescendo and burst of guitars that seem to say, “Hey, listen up 'cause this is big!

…Then there’s the catchy “Australia,” which features a sweet base line, some great guitar work and that lyrical hook that I cannot knock from my head: “Been alone since you were 21 / You haven’t laughed since January ... ” Just watch the video ...

... Mercer's falsetto is at its best on “Phantom Limb,” and if the song isn't wonderful enough, it's made even better with the addition of Anita Robinson's lovely voice ... and the vocal duo raises the bar even higher on “Turn On Me,” which gets the nod as my favorite song on the album (barely, because they’re all good!) …

... “Red Rabbits.” Wow. Gorgeous music box chimes and a haunting violin section that makes it the perfect song for sitting on your porch and reminiscing on a lazy summer night. The first time I listened to this track, I could have sworn Brian Wilson had invaded Mercer's body ...

There’s so many smart lyrics and guitar hooks on this album, I'm discovering new pieces to the puzzle every time I listen to it. This album, my friends, is an instant classic ...


Onion read

Even CEO Cant Figure Out How RadioShack Still In Business

The Onion

Even CEO Can't Figure Out How RadioShack Still In Business

FORT WORTH, TX—After a thorough review of its operations, RadioShack CEO Julian Day could provide no real explanation for the analog- riddled company's staying power.

My baseball weekend

So we finally got to take to the diamond and play some ball this weekend.

First, a little backgrounder: Last year I joined a newly formed men’s baseball league in the city -- organized for guys who aren’t interested in the beer-sponsored/slugfest softball leagues. Guys who simply enjoy the national past time and want to have fun playing it. But, since I joined the league as an individual and not with a pre-formed team, I was basically placed on a team of leftovers. It seemed fine enough at first, but as the season wore on, our coach was clearly a terrible manager. He was putting his own interests before the team’s, pitching guys until their arms gave out, playing guys in positions they had no right playing, not to mention playing guys that didn’t deserve to be on the field, all while decent, skilled and smart players sat on the bench. … We finished the season with one win and so many losses we stopped counting them.

After the season ended last September, one of my teammates, Tom, and I started conspiring to form a new team. We knew there were other players on our team who considered the season a disaster, and we knew there was potential to construct a competitive team with some of those players forming our nucleus. We started talking up the possibilities, promised better management, and before we knew it Tom and I had lured six key players from that original team to form the new team with us. With their help we recruited five more guys, including two pitchers with what could be the best stuff in the league …

Last year, our team name was the Sox -- a name picked by our then-coach, a White Sox fanatic. This year, we set things straight and we’re calling ourselves the Cubs, which was only fair since most of us are Cubs fans anyway … We had team meetings in January and by February we were practicing in a rented warehouse. For weeks, we spent our Saturday nights taking batting practice from a pitching machine, hitting into nets and throwing from a practice mound. More importantly we were building the kind of camaraderie and chemistry that was absent from last year’s team.

So fast forward to Saturday, our first competition of the season, a scrimmage against a new team in the league. Interestingly, the opponent was this year’s “leftovers.” Even more amusing, the team included last season’s Sox coach, because we snared more than half of his players to form the Cubs and no one else wanted to come back and play for him this year.

Watching our team take infield practice -- dressed in our practice Cubs jerseys and looking sharp -- was a breath of fresh air. We were nearly flawless as we warmed up. People were talking to each other, communicating and keeping their focus -- and if you’re a baseball player, you know how important that is. All the bad vibes and negative feelings about last season were erased the moment we stepped on that field.

As the game got underway, we played as the home team and took the field first. Another positive change from last season -- I got to start at shortstop. Last year, I was lucky if I got into play a couple innings at right field. On Saturday, I played the first half of the game at short, fielding a couple balls there, before moving to center for the second half.

Our opponent managed to score a couple runs in the top half of the first while we settled in and worked through what little nerves we had. Then we came up in the bottom half of the first and took over the game … Our leadoff batter got on with a walk. Then I took the box second, drew a walk of my own and promptly stole second base.

We had decided as a team before the game that we were going to play small ball and experiment as much as we could. So I had to be ready for anything when a couple batters later, with the score 1-0, we had the bases loaded and I was sitting on third base with two outs. With my back to the third base coach, I never caught the sign, but when I saw the batter square up to bunt, I had no choice but to put my head down and run home. The batter laid down a perfect bunt that rolled slowly toward the pitcher’s mound. Both the pitcher and the catcher went after it, leaving home plate abandoned and I scampered across the plate untouched … It was a beautiful play, and we completed the inning with a 6-2 lead.

But we went quietly through the middle innings -- I struck out -- while the opponent inched back and eventually took a 7-6 lead.

In our half of the sixth, we vowed to rally. We tied the score, and I came up with one out and the go-ahead run on third base. If the first pitch was in the zone, I was swinging. The pitch did come in, but I didn’t get all of it and grounded out to the shortstop. But the go-ahead run scored.

If we could hold ‘em in the top half of the seventh, the game would be over. We got one quick out, but they weren’t letting us go easily and they put the tying run on third base. Our pitcher notched a strikeout to get the second out and proceeded to battle with the next batter for that third out. He fired pitch after pitch. And then, out of nowhere, our catcher fired down to third base. The runner was caught completely off guard as our third baseman caught the throw and tagged the runner.

The game was our’s -- 8-7. With one game, we had tied our win total from last year. And our confidence was overflowing.

We officially open the league’s season under the lights on Monday, May 14.

* * *

After Saturday’s game, Kates and I took off to spend the rest of the weekend with my parents.

We had some of Dad’s famous burgers off the grill Saturday night, and then went to the high school for a performance of “Grease,” which Kates and I concluded was the worst musical production we’d ever seen … The acting was awful, the singing was uninspired, 4-year-olds could have done the choreography and Kates and I were dreading the token standing ovation when it ended.

Then, on what proved to be a gorgeous Sunday afternoon, we were off to Miller Park for the Astros-Brewers game …

We arrived at the stadium more than two hours before game time, giving us plenty of time to walk around the park, taking in the scenery, statues and historic markers. As usual, I was snapping unless pictures, and now I had Dad to join me -- he was so proud of his digital camera and delighting in discovering the advantages of digital photography …

When the gates opened, we were among the first to walk into the stadium. The reason: The day’s promotional item was an album commemorating the 1982 AL Champion Brewers. But what we didn’t realize was the item was only an album. To make it worthwhile, you have to clip a coupon from the Journal Sentinel every day for the next 23 days, take the coupon to a retail location and exchange it for a silver coin to commemorate each of 23 select Brewers on that ‘82 team. Oh yeah, and each coin is $2.99. But I’m such a rabid collector, I’ll probably do it anyway …
As for the game, it was The Bill Hall, Geoff Jenkins and Dave Bush Show. Hall went 3-for-4 with a single, homerun and a double; Jenkins went 3-for-4 with a single and two doubles. Dave Bush was lights out for eight innings; he gave up three hits and struck out seven. And, oh the defense -- it seemed like every ground ball was hit to Craig Counsell at third base, and Counsell turned out after out …

Then came the ninth. Bush tired out. The Astros notched a couple doubles, a walk and pretty soon it was 4-3. Ned Yost pulled Bush for Francisco Cordero with no outs. But Cordero promptly gave up a walk to Carlos Lee. He struck out Luke Scott, but then Morgan Ensberg singled, Adam Everett drew a walk and wah-la, the bases were loaded …

Ah, but this is a different Brewers team we’re talking about this year. The Crew pulled together; Cordero struck out Orlando Palmeiro and then got Craig Biggio to ground out to first. Brewers win, and hand Astros starter Roy Oswalt his first loss of the season …

* * *

After waiting out the traffic at Miller Park with a few sandwiches, Kates and I parted ways with Mom and Dad and headed home ...

Then it was time for Sunday Night Baseball. Yankees-Red Sox. Aw yeah.

The Red Sox won the game 7-6, but that's barely a piece of the story.

The Sox were down 3-0 in the third inning with Yankees rookie lefthander Chase Wright on the mound. And there were already two out and nobody on when Manny Ramirez stepped up the plate ...

With a 2-1 count, he launched one over the wall in left center field. The Red Sox were on the board, 3-1.

Next up, J.D. Drew. He ran up a 1-2 count and then he knocked a homerun. The Red Sox are down 3-2.

Next up Mike Lowell. And I'm thinking, man this would be cool if he could hit a homerun too.

He did it.

Now the fans in Fenway are going crazy. The announcers are talking about it. And it's not over ...

Jason Varitek swung at the first pitch he saw from Wright and sent it over the left field wall. I shot up from the couch, hooping, hollering and clapping ... and then ran up the stairs to tell Kates about one of the most unbelievable and finest things I'd seen in all my years of watching baseball.


Top 20 presidential nominees

A good read here from Timothy McSweeneys ...

Thanks Matt!

Albert Pujols vs. Jeff Suppan

The Onion

Albert Pujols Can't Bring Self To Hit Against Ex-Teammate Jeff Suppan

ST. LOUIS— Saying that he was "too overwhelmed" with memories of their 2006 World Series run, Albert Pujols couldn't bring himself to do...


Tragedy at Virginia Tech

... For the last couple days I've been watching the news coverage of the tragedy at Virginia Tech ...

There's not a lot more I can say. It's a terrible, terrible tragedy and my thoughts are with that entire community ...


Sunday reading

Admit it. You missed my post of junk I enjoyed reading last week. So here's an expanded edition of the stuff I enjoyed reading this past week and the stuff I enjoyed reading the week before that ...

a Martina McBride calls the shots on new album
a Corinne Bailey Rae, ever contradictory
a King of Pop's Lots: Auction Planned of Jackson Family Memorabilia
a With a new band sporting an R.E.M. pedigree, the melodic British rocker adds a bit of light to his quirky panoramas
a Music in its place on 'American Idol'
a Remark renews old hip-hop debate

TV and entertainment
a Sprawl in The Family: In Walkers' Tribulations, Viewers Find a Family To Which They Relate
a Beaten to the Punch Line: The Odds Against Female Stand-Up Comedians Are No Laughing Matter
a Sanjaya: The Axis of 'Idol'
a 'Hoax' Film revives notoriety for author Irving
a The state of prime-time comedy may seem like a joke, but the punch line is that viewers are flocking to reruns and original cable sitcoms
a Networks go on the cheap
a 'King of Queens' flew high, but it still remained under the radar
a 'Idol' angels secret weapon behind show

a Colangelo, Cuban could take Cubbies to promised land
a Cubs look to Piniella for title dreams
a MLB celebrates 60th anniversary of Robinson's debut
a JACKIE ROBINSON: 60 years later

Other stuff
a MySpace competition? The world is big enough
a Scout Soars Far Beyond Eagle
a Should parents worry amid Webkinz craze?
a Information Age Makes Hoaxes Easier But Speeds Their Demise
a Beth Horning: It's apparent who helps with the homework
a Photographer altered pictures, Ohio newspaper says

... and finally, for some good Sunday laughs ...

Christ Getting In Shape For Second Coming

The Onion

Christ Getting In Shape For Second Coming

HEAVEN—Since His birthday last Dec. 25, the Lamb of God has committed Himself to a demanding regimen of exercise and prophecy-fulfillment in preparation for the Second Coming.

Performers that rock

… I read something on another blog about the notion that Amy Poehler is saving “Saturday Night Live” these days …

I could go with that.

Her imitation of Dakota Fanning last night was spot-on and HA-larious …

And Avril Lavigne rocked. Plain and simple. She's fun to watch ...


Chicago in 2016!

... Where were you when you heard Chicago had won the U.S. bid to host the 2016 Summer Olympics ...

I had finished listening to the Cubs game today and was doing my usual weekend work in the yard when the guys on the postgame show said the announcement was coming. They carried it live. I stopped everything I was doing to listen in ...

For weeks I've closely watched and read all of the news about the latest developments and proposals for Chicago's push to get the Olympic games. I've been as excited as anyone about the idea of the games coming to the city ...

And then today, there it was. Chicago had won the bid as the U.S. host city for the Olympics. Of course, it's not over yet -- Chicago still has to to go up against other cities like Madrid, Rome, and Tokyo ...

I gotta believe Chicago's got a good shot. After the announcement, I continued listening to the radio guys, and caller after caller after caller, who scoffed at the notion of Chicago hosting the games. They complained about possible tax increases to pay for the facilities, and the traffic mess the games would create, and the influx of people that would come to the city ...

I just rolled my eyes at all of it. Seriously people, where's the pride in showing off the city, and participating in such a magnificent global event!? Having the Olympic games in Chicago would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. And you can bet if it happens, I'll be down there taking it in, even if it's just walking the streets to take in the atmosphere ...


... So tonight I made good on a note I made to myself a couple weeks ago ...

On my way to the grocery store, I made a pit stop at the record store, with one goal in mind. I went to the bin labeled "P" and started thumbing through the stacks of vinyls. I'd barely started the search when it appeared ...

The Pretenders' debut album.

No stains. Corners were good. Album art looked good. Record looked clean.


I thumbed through a few more bins for good measure and then took it to the counter and handed it to the clerk.

"Wow, this is a classic," the guy said.

"That's why I'm buyin' it," I said.


Laughing it up

My friend Sean sent this photo he took of his dog today with the tag: "I slipped up and told Prince a knock-knock joke. It's not hard to get him going."

It had me laughing just as hard ... Then I made the mistake of showing it to Kates not realizing it would give her more ammo to beg for a dog ...

Sean's a great photographer. See more of his stuff here and here and here.


Good-bye Muscles!

... So I just packed up my old M.U.S.C.L.E. figurines and I'll be shipping them off tomorrow morning ...

I've been digging out storage shelves and boxes lately, trying to get rid of, well, junk. Mostly trinkets that have me wondering why I still have the stuff.

The M.U.S.C.L.E.s, which had been stored away in an old checking book box probably since my junior high years, didn't make the cut. As a child I played with the thumb-sized, flesh-colored creations constantly. During my family's Friday night stops at Shopko, I'd constantly beg to get a pack of the figurines, and once we were back home I'd be setting up a WWF-styled wrestling match with the things. Looking back at my elementary days, I'd have to say they were one of my favorite toys -- along with the Construx, Masters of the Universe toys, Star Wars figures, MASK toys, Legos and Micro Machines, of course ...

(this guy's Web site devoted to the M.U.S.C.L.E.s is CRA-zy ...)

Now they're going away to some collector kid in Massachusetts, compliments of eBay. I had 15 of them and sold 'em for five bucks.

I'm kind of going to miss the little guys. I should have kept at least one to decorate my cubicle at the office. Darn.

Tiger Woods Reveals He Is Zach Johnson

... I spent most of my Easter Sunday crowded around a television with Kates' family, watching the Masters and cheering for Tiger to come from behind and win the thing. And he looked as though he was going to do it, but he floundered toward the end and Zach Johnson hung on ...

Or so we thought ...

Directions to London

Here's a good one a friend sent me today ...

1. go to http://www.google.com/
2. click on "maps"
3. click on "get directions"
4. type "New York" in the first box (the "from" box)
5. type "London" in the second box (the "to" box)
6. click on "get directions"
7. scroll down to step #23
... and then make sure you've packed your swim trunks.


Winter ball anyone?!

April 11. And we're being blanketed with snow ... It started this morning. The wind whipped. And the snow was flying -- horizontally. The roads were so slippery around here, it was almost unbearable to drive. And when the snow finally stopped late this afternoon, almost a half-dozen inches had been dropped on us ...

Perrrrrrrrrrrfect night for a ballgame.

The Indians and Angels are in Milwaukee baby! $10 tickets! Two of the most exciting teams in baseball! ... Can't beat it.

Woo hoo! ... or would that be Wahoo!?!

Yep, the Indians got snowed plowed right out of Jacobs Field, and Anaheim couldn't host the series, so the teams came to play in Miller Park this week, something I learned from a Brewers e-mail I got Monday night.

And then there was this today from SI:
The Indians have a temporary home in Milwaukee. More than a foot of snow in Cleveland last week forced the Tribe to postpone its four-game home-opening series against the Mariners and to move this week's three-game slate against the Angels to Miller Park, where last night Cleveland won the opener 7-6. Will all the cold weather this April cause Major League Baseball to reconsider its scheduling criteria? Why not let every West Coast team open at home? "If you think the chill of the opening week will prompt baseball to re-address its schedule, forget it," says SI's Tom Verducci. "I know that putting together a schedule is a terribly complex job, especially with interleague play gumming up the works. But the bottom line is that every year the owners would rather roll the dice and subject their millionaire players to hazardous conditions (forget about your comfort, which they did long ago) than surrender the chance to make a few more bucks."
... No, I don't think MLB should rethink it's scheduling criteria. But I digress ...

The opportunity was too good to pass up, and I was determined to take advantage. So last night, I logged on and bought two tickets in the infield loge section behind home plate. I paid $22 total. On a typical night I'd pay $32 each for those seats ...

I would've gone alone if I had to, but ended up taking my friend Liz to the game. "So you think they'll open the roof for the game?" she quipped.

And the mood around Miller Park tonight was, well, festive. There was snow all around, and the PA was playing "Let It Snow" outside the stadium! HA-larious ... Liz and I took pictures of the Hank Aaron statue and the Miller Park decor covered in snow. And, wearing my Indians cap, I ate up every moment ...

The ticket line at Will Call moved fast, and we had our tickets in no time. Inside the stadium, we went immediately to the closest souvenir stand in search of any memento -- a pennant was what I really wanted -- to commemorate the oddity of the series. But we got no dice: The guy in the stand told us there was nothing like that being sold. There was only Brewers stuff. Fine. So I asked for a Brewers scorecard. "Take it," the guy said, "They're complimentary tonight." Great.

Liz and I found our seats and settled in just before the National Anthem. Then I went on a search for my ballpark food -- a brat and Dew in a souvenir cup, of course. But that wasn't meant to be either. Miller Park was working with a skeleton staff for the series, there were no vendors working the aisles, and that meant mile-long lines at the concession stand. I got in line for awhile, but soon realized the game was moving faster than the lines, lost patience and returned to my seat, figuring I could try again later in the game ... That would happen in the fifth inning. Same outcome.

Unfortunately, the game itself was nothing to get excited about either. The Angels cruised to a 4-1 win. The pitching and the defense was decent. Jhonny Peralta hit a solo shot in the 7th, but by then the Indians were all but dead. And Vladimir Guerrero hit two weak singles up the middle, but it was hardly the performance I was hoping for from arguably one of the most exciting players in the game today ...

Not even the sausage race was very exciting.

The most exciting thing about tonight's game? One of the most incredible stadium waves I've ever seen ... It happened about midway through the game, started by a group of fans in the left field corner. It grew slowly as it came to fans on the third base side and hit full stride as it came to our section around home plate, on its way to making several more passes ... And then!! a group of fans on the third base side switched it to a slow motion wave!! No cues (as far as we could tell), nothing!! Bam!! And there it went with all the fans in the stadium slowly rising from their seats and stretching their arms, doing the wave in slow motion ... And then!! a group of fans in the right field corner switched it to a super fast wave!! No cues (as far as we could tell), nothing!! Bam!! And there it went with all the fans in the stadium rising from their seats as fast as they could and throwing their arms in the air as if someone had punched a fast forward button ... The scenario repeated and played for several minutes, and for a time it was more entertaining than the game. In fact, it may go down as one of the most fascinating things I've ever seen ...

That and watching the Cleveland Indians and the Anaheim Angels play in Miller Park with six inches of snow outside in mid-April.

Good reads ...
a From last night's game: Indians find refuge and a win at Miller Park
a At home on the road


Idol heartbreak

We are shocked.


... Watching Chris Sligh get voted off last week was one thing. We saw that one coming ...

But Gina.

Our home girl. Our Naperville girl, Gina.

Why Gina!?!?

She was consistently in the top tier of the girls. Heck, I've long thought of her among the top three in the competition next to Melinda and Lakisha ...

American Idol voters, how could you be so dumb!?! The show is going to crap.

Hey, record labels, someone sign this girl now. She's got talent, she's got personality and she's got promise ...

My tribute to Gina ... a couple of our favorite performances ...


Idol chatter

… So the Idols sang the classics with help from Tony Bennett last night.


It’s not even worth analyzing their performances. The division is clear …

Lakisha, Melinda and Blake are tops, along with Gina, who gave arguably the best performance of the night (It also helped that she sang “Smile” … one of my favorite classics …)

I could take or leave Chris Richardson … I agree with the judges -- last night’s performance was his best of the season …

And if the voters are smart, we should be saying good-bye to Phil, Sanjaya, Haley and Jordin one by one.

And just when you think the mystery of Sanjaya can’t get any crazier -- NBC News featured him tonight

I did one of those things where I rolled my eyes, and then I couldn’t stop watching.

Get him off. Get him off now.

Meanwhile ... Are ‘American Idol’ singers too similar?

April showers?

It’s April 4.

And the high temperature here today was 29 degrees.

The winds were wicked.

And there were snow flurries flying all day.

Snow flurries.

April 4.

I’m just sayin …


Florida shines

The inevitable question came up everywhere today: Who were you rooting for in the National Championship game tonight?

The answer for me, hands down, was Florida.

To be honest, I wasn’t overly fond of either Florida or Ohio State. But I dislike Oden and Ohio State far more.

But there was something about the way Florida carried itself and I was drawn in by the mystique of the Gators claiming that rare repeat status. And when you figure in the football championship they won last fall -- over Ohio State -- then you’re approaching dynasty talk …

They played well tonight. I was rooting for the boys to repeat. They were cool and respectful. And I was glad to see them win it all …

And I even caught myself welling up a bit during “One Shining Moment.” (I had told Brian and Liz today, to their utmost disdain, that I thought the cheesy music video CBS does at the end of the tournament every year was one of the most overrated and unoriginal things …)

UPDATE 7:23 a.m., 4.03.07: This from SI this morning ...

"That's the headline for college sports these days," says SI's Richard Deitsch. Last night Florida defeated Ohio State 84-75 to win its second consecutive national championship. It's the first repeat title since Duke in 1991-92, and it makes Florida just the seventh school to win back-to-back basketball titles. "Domination is the popular major on the Gainesville campus these days," notes Deitsch. "Just three months ago the football team knocked off Ohio State in the BCS title game. Last night the Gators led 40-29 at halftime and stemmed every potential Buckeye comeback with timely three-point shooting. Florida was 10 of 18 from three-point range, while Ohio State was 4 of 23. The Gators' Corey Brewer (left) was named the NCAA Most Outstanding Player. Florida coach Billy Donovan could not stop praising his team: 'I sit up here very, very humbled,' said Donovan, 'because I was fortunate enough over the last two years to coach a group of guys that has to go down in history as one of the greatest teams of all time.'"


Opening Day!

... Take me out to the ball game/Take me out with the crowd/Buy me some peanuts and cracker jack/I don't care if I never get back/Let me root, root, root for the home team/If they don't win it's a shame/For it's one, two, three strikes, you're out/At the old ball game ...

(...singing Baseball Tonight theme music ...)

It's opening day baby.

Tom Glavine is one step closer to win No. 300. Alex Rodriguez has already errored. And Barry Bonds is playing whether you like it or not ...

Ooooooooooooooh, it's going to be an interesting season.

The Royals won. The Brewers won.

The Cubs, White Sox and Tigers did not.

About the Cubs ... I’m finding it hard to get excited about them this year. Last year, going in, I was as optimistic as ever; I thought they were contenders for sure. They looked fantastic the first couple weeks of the season. Then Derrek Lee went down and the whole season went down the crapper …

This year, I feel like I barely know the team. They overhauled so much of the roster. I wasn't happy they let Juan Pierre go. And yet for some odd reason, they kept Kerry Wood. I’m not convinced that Piniella’s the right man. And though I’m glad the Cubs won the Soriano sweepstakes, I think it’s crazy how much money they paid to get him.

... At least they managed to hold on to my boys Zambrano and Ramirez. And if Lee can return to form, well, then we'll be sitting pretty in September.

... And if the Brewers are in the hunt too -- well, that would be flat out glorious. Bill Hall, Rickie Weeks, Prince Fielder, J.J. Hardy and the gang are coming of age. And if Ben Sheets and Jeff Suppan can carry the rotation ... yeah, sitting pretty.

So here we go ...

... In the NL West, I'm rooting for the Dodgers. Hands down. And this year I think they can do it. After all, they got Juan Pierre ... In the NL Central, I've got the Cubs and/or the Brewers (no bias there) ... and in the NL East I'd like to see the Phillies or the Braves ...

... AL West, I'll be looking for the Angels ... In the Central, I like all of them, really. But I've got soft spots for the Tigers and the Royals ... And in the East, I'm all about the Red Sox.

But as SI's Tom Verducci says, it's anyone's ball game ...

"The '90s are so over," says Verducci. "The baseball world has changed so much from when the Yankees won four titles in five years that their world-championship-or-bust mentality has become awkwardly outdated ... Revenue sharing has had a profound effect on the competitive balance in the game, but so has the Information Age that we have entered as a society. More and more front offices, which often were stocked with failed players and comfortable lifetime company officers, have turned their operations over to smart business people."
Good baseball reads ...
a AL Preview: The Dice-K show, and a power struggle in the AL Central
a NL Preview: Sunny outlook for Phillies
a Baseball's New Landscape: The 'Sugar Daddy' Era Is Over as Even the Richest Teams Are Making an Effort to Keep a Young Crop of Players
a The Tigers were it last year; who will surprise this year?
a Cubs improved under GM Hendry, but pressure is on
a Verducci: The riddle of Matsuzaka
a Bonds reveals he gets death threats
a What Really Ruined Baseball


Sunday reading

It's raining outside ...

I've officially started wearing contact lenses (man, they're excruciatingly frustrating to get in the first couple times) ...

And the Final Four games were far from exciting last night ...

In the meantime, some good reads before the 2007 baseball season kicks off tonight ...

Woo hoo!

a 'Grey's Anatomy': Real-Life Doctors Dissect the Drama

a Castle in Disrepair: It's been politicized and kitschified, and its luster is gone. The Smithsonian needs to get back to basics.

a Deaths noticed: Obituaries, long a newspaper art form, are branching out in cyberspace and soon, a magazine

a Becoming the media's Alpha Mom

a Why Do We Sleep?

... And for the YouTube portion of this post ...

... More and more I find myself passing time by searching for forgotten music videos, lost TV moments and anything else I might be able to dig up on YouTube -- and I gleefully love every moment of it. It's yet another great way to transport yourself to another time and place, and best of all, it's free.

... So when NBC announced a couple weeks it was launching its own video site I felt a sense of excitement and anxiety that YouTube would have a competitor. Excitement because a media giant was jumping into the ring and the caliber of its content could be really great, but anxiety because it's a media giant jumping into the ring, and the free and amatuerish form that makes YouTube so worthwhile could be thrown to the wolves ...

I'll anxiously wait ...

a For YouTube, This Is a Test
a Our Case Against YouTube
a Rules for YouTube: Make Art, Not Bore