Saturday, August 29, 2009

Chicago Radio Spotlight returns

This week I checked back with four previous interview subjects that have undergone big changes since I stopped doing Chicago Radio Spotlight earlier this summer: Charlie Meyerson, Eddie Volkman, Dan McNeil, and Melissa Forman.

Read their updates here.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Joke for a Friday morning

An Italian Boy's confession, contributed by "BK." It's an oldie, but a goodie.

'Bless me Father, for I have sinned. I have been with a loose girl'.

The priest asks, 'Is that you, little Joey Pagano ?'

'Yes, Father, it is.'

'And who was the girl you were with?'

'I can't tell you, Father. I don't want to ruin her reputation'.

"Well, Joey, I'm sure to find out her name sooner or later so you may as well tell me now. Was it Tina Minetti?'

'I cannot say.'

'Was it Teresa Mazzarelli?'

'I'll never tell.'

'Was it Nina Capelli?'

'I'm sorry, but I cannot name her.'

'Was it Cathy Piriano?'

'My lips are sealed.'

'Was it Rosa DiAngelo, then?'

'Please, Father, I cannot tell you.'

The priest sighs in frustration. 'You're very tight lipped, and I admire that..
But you've sinned and have to atone. You cannot be an altar boy now for 4 months. Now you go and behave yourself.'

Joey walks back to his pew, and his friend Franco slides over and whispers, 'What'd you get?'

'Four months vacation and five good leads.'

E-mails, we get e-mails

A bunch of responses about the Ron Santo article in SI (it's also in Sporting News, and probably tons of newspapers, because it's an AP article). I got a kick out of being included in the piece.

From MD: "I love your quote--"When he's not on the broadcast I'm actually worried about his health," - I always think the exact same thing. When Ron's not there, I assume he's ill and think to myself, "I hope he's OK".

From SD: "It's not only nice you're in SI - it's WHAT you and Jeff said that mattered. Ron should be in the Hall, of course! When I was at that station that covers the Cubs, I did talk to Ron about his dog Joker...but I don't really know him. I just know I grew up thinking of him as a hero. He's one athlete, ex-athlete who really is. A shame we ignore him, ... yet pay attention to the M. Vick's of the world."

From M.E: "A great read about one of the game's finest. Thank you for contributing to a memorable piece."

Aaron Heilman

Somebody claimed him on waivers?

Have they seen him pitch? He's a less talented version of Kevin Gregg, and you all know how I feel about Kevin Gregg.

Oh well. Don't look a gift horse in the mouth, I guess.

Charlie Grimm

He was associated with the Cubs, on and off, for fifty years, so naturally we've written about Charlie Grimm here at JOBC several times.

The old manager switcheroo

The 1935 World Series

The nickname Jolly Cholly

Jolly Cholly Grimm was born on this date in 1898.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Ron Santo

I had a nice chat with an AP reporter about Ron Santo the other day. They did a piece about how the team's demise is actually harming his health.

Great article.

And I'm not just saying that because I'm quoted extensively in the piece.

There's an app for that too?

Milton spouts off...again

The Chicago Tribune has another article about Milton today. He says Cubs fans are racist, and he hopes the games are only nine innings so he doesn't have to face the fans any longer than absolutely necessary.


Technical difficulties

Any team can have a bad century, and any website can have a bad server. If you go to right now, it's having technical difficulties. It's a server problem (which means it's totally out of my control). Check back a little later today. Hopefully it will be cleared up. Today is Celebrity Cubs Fan day, and we have a feature on Jeremy Piven (if it works).

The Antelope & Fidgety Phil

The man they called "The Antelope" (Emil Verban) was born on this date in 1915. Just 14 years earlier another Cub with a great nickname ("Fidgety Phil") was born.

Read about each man by clicking on his nickname.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

E-mails, we get e-mails

From "RP" regarding the Illini/Wildcats at Wrigley. I pointed out that the Bears played there for 50 years. He reminds me...

"There is a field hangup. Remember those box seats the Cubs added between the dugouts since the Bears left? A football field was already a tight squeeze. I've heard that they'll need a shoehorn with those seats there."

Thanks. Good point.

Milton Bradley

He tells the Tribune that he "faces hatred daily."

Dude, you just lost 15-6 to the worst team in baseball. Trust us, it's nothing personal.

And how about this answer? He was asked if the Cubs are demoralized. He responded: "I don't have a politically correct answer for that, so I won't answer it."

I'm booing you right now. It's not hate. It's disgust.

Sean's first day

Today is his first day of First Grade.

We have to go at 9:30, and he's been sitting in the kitchen, staring at the clock and counting down the minutes. He can't wait.

"We have to leave in two minutes, Dad!"

Better go.

Crying Cub

The t-shirt that says so much without uttering a word.

Available here.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Nice Guys Finish Last

University of Chicago Press just re-released "Nice Guys Finish Last" in paperback, and I was asked to review the book for The Beachwood Reporter. My full review is here.

Here's a short excerpt:

Durocher was a bench warmer on those great Babe Ruth-Lou Gehrig Yankee teams in the late 1920s, a spark plug for the legendary "Gas House Gang" in St. Louis in the 1930s, the manager of the Dodgers when the color line was broken in the 1940s, and the manager of the Giants in the 1950s when Willie Mays came to the majors and Bobby Thomson hit the shot heard 'round the world.

His stories about his run-ins with the baseball executives of the day, including Yankees owner Ed Barrow (Leo told him to "Go f*** yourself"), Cardinals owner Branch Rickey (the tightwad Bible-thumping baseball genius), Dodgers owner Lee McPhail (the manic-depressive lunatic), and Giants owner Horace Stoneham (the distant drunk), are almost inspiring in their iconoclastic furor.

But I'm a Cubs fan first and foremost, and for me the most interesting parts of the book were the little tidbits about some of the all-time Cub greats like Pat Malone, Charlie Grimm, Billy Herman, Bill "Swish" Nicholson, Rabbit Maranville, and of course, the Cubs that Leo managed in the late 60s and early 70s.

Those Cubs years were still fresh news when Nice Guys Finish Last first came out, and while I love the inside look at my childhood heroes, this entire section does make Leo sound like he's attempting to settle some scores. He calls out Ernie Banks as a phony, and implies Ron Santo was an overrated dimwitted baby. He calls Milt Pappas an agitator, and implies Joe Pepitone was God's punishment for Leo's own behavior as a player.

Perhaps the most shocking part of the book for me, though, was Leo's portrayal of Cubs owner P.K. Wrigley. Durocher, who has almost nothing nice to say about anyone (except Willie Mays and Eddie Stanky), calls Wrigley "The finest man to work for in the world" and "The most decent man I've met."

I did not see that one coming.

Hitler likes waffles

This is the kind of stuff I get sent to me. Thanks "DS" for the tip...

Farewell to Brooklyn and NY Giants

This week in 1957, the Cubs made their final stop at the Polo Grounds in New York (August 24), and Ebbet's Field in Brooklyn (August 28). The Dodgers and Giants both moved to the West Coast after the 1957 season.

The Dodgers finished in 3rd place that season, the Giants finished in 6th, and the Cubs...they were in 7th place, 33 games behind the pennant winning Milwaukee Braves.

By the way, the Cubs did beat the Giants that last game in the Polo Grounds, but they lost a heartbreaker to the Dodgers in their last game at Ebbets Field (4-3 in 14 innings).

Monday, August 24, 2009

Joke for a Monday morning

Contributed by "BN"

An old Italian lived alone in New Jersey. He wanted to plant his annual tomato garden, but it was very difficult work, as the ground was hard.

His only son, Vincent, who used to help him, was in prison. The old man wrote a letter to his son and described his predicament:

Dear Vincent,
I am feeling pretty sad, because it looks like I won't be able to plant my tomato garden this year. I'm just getting too old to be digging up a garden plot. I know if you were here my troubles would be over.. I know you would be happy to dig the plot for me, like in the old days.

A few days later he received a letter from his son.

Dear Pop,
Don't dig up that garden. That's where the bodies are buried.

At 4 a.m. the next morning, FBI agents and local police arrived and dug up the entire area without finding any bodies. They apologized to the old man and left.

That same day the old man received another letter from his son.

Dear Pop,
Go ahead and plant the tomatoes now. That's the best I could do under the circumstances.
Love you,

In case you missed it...

The sale of the Cubs is finally, finally, a done deal.

The Ricketts family now owns 25% of Comcast, Wrigley Field, and two corner outfielders that nobody in baseball will take off their hands.

Jimmy Cooney

He wasn't one of the best players on the Cubs, but Jimmy Cooney (born on this day in 1894) did have one miraculous day in a Cubs uniform.

Read all about it here.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Father Knows Nothing

I just posted my latest Father Knows Nothing column at NWI Parent. This one is called "Confession Time." You can read it here.