Thursday, February 14, 2019
Wednesday, February 13, 2019
Today's the day for the Cubs!
THE SWEETEST WORDS IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE
By Bill Holub
“Pitchers and catchers report”.
These are indeed the sweetest words in the English language. Friends have been hearing me recite this every year at this time. I once had an old poker playing friend who used to say the sweetest words have always been “I’ll play these”. This is the same friend who couldn’t win even when dealt a pat hand. That however is a story for another time and place, where an explanation of the relationship between the quantity of beer consumed, what the cards in your hand really look like and the amount of money you bet can be fully explored. It’s really something scientists should be looking at.
In the meantime, I apologize to all those who came here looking for a sentimental dialogue on romance. I’m sorry to say it but the sweetest words in the English language are not “I love you”. Now that I think of it, this may instead be a sentimental dialogue on romance and baseball.
It’s funny how the two always converge around Valentine’s Day. Spring fever is referred to as that time of year when things start to bloom as the weather changes and love is in the air. It is no coincidence that this is the same time the baseball season opens and brings hope to all of us diehard baseball romantics.
My love affair with baseball was re-ignited in 1987-88. There was only one place to catch baseball highlights from all over the major leagues back then. Once a week you could tune in to “This Week In Baseball” with good ol’ Mel Allen. During those two seasons I was hooked into witnessing two West Coast baseball Gods embodied in the forms of a young Mark Mcgwire and Jose Canseco. This is before anyone had ever heard of andro, anabolics and the other chemical cocktails that have since cast a pall over these two. Back then, I was treated week in and week out to mammoth sized home runs flying out of every ballpark in the country. The fact that these home runs were being hit by players wearing what my brother and I had always considered the coolest looking baseball uniforms in the world (the Oakland A’s green and gold) had me embracing the game I grew up on all over again.
By 1989 I was so hooked on this game I even started collecting baseball cards again, although as much as an investor as a fanboy. I also started another nasty habit that impacts my life to this day. That is when I started a fantasy baseball league with a bunch of guys at work. 1989 also happened to be a division winning season for my beloved Cubs, so I was in baseball heaven and haven’t looked back since.
THE NATIONAL PASTIME
I think we can honestly say that baseball is no longer the national pastime in this country. It has been supplanted by football. I can accept that. Although I would insist the true national pastime is gambling, which is the driving force that makes football the number one spectator sport in America. I suppose I could go off on a George Carlin type of rant here on the differences between football and baseball, but that’s not why I’m writing this piece.
I just want to point out there is one major difference between the two and that is commitment. I’m talking about the commitment between baseball fans and football fans. Football is a four month season requiring your undivided attention one day a week, or two if you’re both a college and pro fan. Baseball is a six month season requiring your undivided attention throughout with your favorite team(s) playing as many as five or more games a week.
Baseball is a commitment. I believe it carries as much of a commitment as love. They both require dedication and attention. They can both go awry despite the best laid plans. An early swan dive in the standings in May that ends a team’s season before it even had a chance can be just as painful as not having your phone calls returned after the second or third date. Meanwhile an October champagne shower celebrating a pennant or World Series championship is as sweet and memorable as a ‘yes’ to a question posed on one knee.
BASEBALL AND THE CINEMA
Once that warm baseball is back feeling starts sinking in every year, I like to get fully immersed by throwing myself into my favorite baseball movies before the games actually begin. This is my form of spring training.
You’ve got your “Bull Durham”, “Field Of Dreams”, “Major League” (only the first one, please), but there is one movie that hits me in the right spot. “City Slickers” is not a real baseball movie per se, but there’s one scene that remains among my all-time favorites. It’s where the three friends (Billy Crystal, Daniel Stern and Bruno Kirby) are on the cattle drive and passing the time by discussing their favorite baseball memories. Billy Crystal remembers the first time his father took him to Yankee Stadium as a kid and how he had never seen grass that green before. Mickey Mantle even hit a home run that day. Daniel Stern recalls how growing up he and his father never saw eye to eye, but they could always talk about baseball with each other. “We always had baseball” he says.
As for me, one of my earliest baseball memories was getting to take the day off of school with my brother because my Dad got opening day tickets to Wrigley Field. I still remember wearing our warmest winter coats and knit hats, waiting to sit down while the Andy Frain usher brushed the snow off our seats. They don’t make Aprils in Chicago like that any more.
THE SWEETEST SOUND
There is a sound that accompanies the words “pitchers and catchers report”. It is the sound of a ball popping into a mitt. The sound of a simple game of catch. It is more than the crack of a bat sound. The sound of a mitt popping brings the memories and feelings of a lifetime of baseball flooding your senses all at once. It happens every time, whether it’s major leaguers or just a game of catch with your dad or your kid. The week pitchers and catchers report there are no cracking bats, only popping mitts. The sweetest sound in the world. “Pitchers and catchers report”. The sweetest words in the English language.
CNN has the details. Basically all we know right now is that Murphy's character comes to America to get his son. And that it comes out in 2020.
No word on whether or not there will be a barber shop scene (my favorite scene in the original)...
Tuesday, February 12, 2019
Do you remember Bill "BJ" Jackson from Cartoon Town, Dirty Dragon and Gigglesnort Hotel? He's one of Chicago's legendary Children's television hosts. I like to pay tribute to him on @WGNTV's @WGNMorningNews. Sometimes it becomes more adult... pic.twitter.com/0CZJGBU5Jq— Groovyhoovy (@Groovyhoovy) February 12, 2019
The trade paperback of Nose Over Toes is being released on the 15th anniversary of Janet’s aneurysm, March 22, 2019. It can pre-ordered at www.eckhartzpress.com.
We recently sat down with Janet to talk to her about her book...
EP: I'm sure you've heard this question before, but what is the significance of the title Nose Over Toes?
Janet: Nose over toes is how my physical therapist would direct me to stand up to get out of my chair. It was also how my figure skating teacher told me to stand up straight. It's really for any people who have trouble walking or standing up. Nose over toes is the key phrase.
EP: The thing that really grabbed at my heartstrings while I was reading the book was the role your parents played in your recovery. I know it's hard to sum up, but how would you describe their roles?
EP: You somehow have the tape of the 911 call you made that day. First of all, do you remember making the call, and secondly, what made you think of going back and getting it?
Janet: I do not remember making the 911 call. But it’s funny, when I was a reporter in Joliet, my JPD and JFD friends trained me about 911 and how important it was. I asked a friend how to get the tape, and my friend reminded me of a talking to the watch commander, I thought 'Yes the watch commander!' So I called the fire department and told the watch commander my situation that I needed the tape “to heal and piece things together.” He left the tape at the fire station. My Dad and I picked up the tape popped it in the car’s cassette deck, heard the screaming and we both started to cry. I started to piece the story together. The tape helped me understand what happened. It was traumatizing but I also knew it was going to help tell my story and promote awareness.
EP: You don't seem to have any lingering effects to your speech, which is obviously helpful in your role as a spokesperson. After going through this for 15 years, I'm guessing you understand exactly why and how it is that you were so lucky. Is that true?
Yes I am lucky. First, my speech would be affected medically if the aneurysm had ruptured on my left side. I would not be able to accomplish as much as I have done or have spoken. When I heard there was an aneurysm on the left side and it would impact my speech and cognitive, I said fix it immediately!!! I have work to do! I’m lucky, but having a big mouth and a journalism background makes me the perfect person to write my story and promote awareness. I do have a limp but that doesn’t seem like a big deal considering what could have been.
EP: If you could go back in time and talk to the 2004 version of you, what has this whole experience taught you that would have given comfort and/or hope to that woman lying in the hospital bed?
EP: There is so much great information from the Brain Aneurysm Foundation in this book. How do you envision people using this book as a resource?
Janet; I hope people will read the book and feel hopeful. When I was laying in the hospital my mom would run into the room and tell me about a survivor she met and how well they were doing. My response would be “bring them in here I don’t believe it”. So if someone would read my book and know I went from “death’s door” to writing a book. That would give them hope. Also the information should help a family member and provide useful information, there is nothing worse than trying to recover from an illness you don’t’ know much about or what to expect. I hope my book will be comforting to survivors.
EP: You are going to Washington in March to testify before Congress. Tell us about that.
Janet: For 6 years I have traveled to DC with my husband to meet with Congress and about 100 other brain aneurysm survivors and their family members with The Brain Aneurysm Foundation. We meet with members of Congress. We are asking for passage of Ellie’s law, calling for further brain aneurysm research funding as well as promoting awareness. The federal government only spends approximately $0.83 per year on brain aneurysm research for each person afflicted. Women, more than men, suffer from brain aneurysms at a ratio of 3:2. African-Americans suffer at twice the rate of rupture of whites (a 2.1:1 ratio). Hispanics suffer at nearly twice the rate of rupture of whites (a 1.67:1 ratio). An estimated 6 million people in the United States have an unruptured brain aneurysm, or 1 in 50 people.
Monday, February 11, 2019
Pick up your copy here.
Programming the once-mighty 50,000-watt powerhouse may have been the pinnacle of Bolger’s career, but he leaves the station in a deeper hole than when he arrived in November 2013. At that time, WLS was in 27th place among adult listeners with a 1.4 percent share. Today it’s tied for 30th with a 0.6 share.
On average, tax refunds are *down* eight percent.
25% fewer people are receiving refunds at all.
Listen to it here.