Sunday, February 27, 2005

posted by James - 6:06 PM

The 2005 Oscars are tonight... 7:30 pm CST on ABC, if you're scoring at home.

Last year's Oscars were a highlight of 2004 for me with Lord of the Rings: Return of the King sweeping all of their nominations.

Tonight the field isn't so one sided. In fact, the polygonal representation of this year's Oscar categories would be a trapezoid, if it were anything.

And with Chris Rock hosting, there's sure to be controversy before they start handing out the awards.

Here's who I think will win with a secondary choice (which is often who I think should win).

Supporting Actor
Winner: Thomas Haden Church, Sideways
Runner-up: Morgan Freeman, Million Dollar Baby
My Thoughts: It would be about damn time for Freeman. I still can't believe he didn't win for Shawshank Redemption, but I love that the Academy didn't shy away from Sideways and Ned, you know who I'm talking about, deserves to get his comedic props.

Supporting Actress
Winner: Cate Blanchett, The Aviator
Runner-up: Natalie Portman, Closer
My Thoughts: Hey, I can't deny Amidala... "You will vote for Natalie Portman"... but I think Blanchett helps avoid another shutout for a Scorsese movie (Gangs of New York), if he doesn't do it himself.

Foriegn Language Film
Winner: Yeah, right. How long did it take you to question my sanity? Only major categories in this post, please.

Winner: Clint Eastwood, Million Dollar Baby
Runner-up: Jamie Foxx, Ray
My Thoughts: Let's see... Don Cheadle is incredibly underrated and probably deserves this award. Johnny Depp and Lenardo DiCaprio are incredibly overrated and probably still deserve this award. Clint Eastwood is just plain incredible.

And Jamie Foxx is incredibly screwed in both categories for his career-changing performances in Ray and Collateral.

Winner: Hilary Swank, Million Dollar Baby
Runner-up: Kate Winslet, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
My Thoughts: The last time Swank won, her acceptance speech made more headlines than her performance. Winslet could fix this problem for us by keeping her off the stage by virtue of her performance in the quirky film with the long name. I'm still not sure what Jim Carrey has to do to get more recognition for his performances of late.

Winner: Clint Eastwood, Million Dollar Baby
Runner-up: Marti.... not this time (I hope I wake up tomorrow besides my wife and not a horse's head. heh.)
Runner-up: Alexander Payne, Sideways
My Thoughts: If old hands Eastwood and Scorsese find a way to cancel each other out, I think Payne has an excellent chance to take this and the Adapted Screenplay categories. This movie doesn't have the momentum of Million Dollar Baby and the Aviator will win more awards, but I'd be shocked to see it completely shutout.

Animated Feature
Winner: The Incredibles
Runner-up: Shrek 2
My Thoughts: If Shrek 2 winning foreshadows a later event, I'm alright with that. What's the point of this award if Pixar wins it every year?

Motion Picture
Winner: Million Dollar Baby
Runner-up: Sideways
My Thoughts: Ok, even I know the real runner up will be the Aviator, if it doesn't win, but I'm stumping for Sideways with absolutely no shame. It wouldn't surprise me if this category breaks the tie between Million Dollar Baby and the Aviator as far as total Oscars go.

This Oscars will have a much more contentious nature, and I'm looking forward to the tributes to Johnny Carson, etc., but just like last year there will be a major highlight for me.

Original Song
Winner: "Accidentally in Love", Shrek 2, Music by Adam Duritz, Charles Gillingham, Jim Bogios, David Immergluck, Matthew Malley and David Bryson; Lyrics by Adam Durtz and Daniel Vickrey.
Runner-up: "A Bunch of Loser Songs", A Bunch of Loser Movies, Music by a Bunch of Loser Musicians; Lyrics by a Bunch of Loser Songwriters
My Thoughts: If my Counting Crows don't win this award, I'm seriously boycotting next year's awards. The highlight of this year's awards will be seeing the Counting Crows perform the best song they've written in years.

This will also be a fitting tribute to bassist Matt Malley, who "quit" the band recently. I don't know if he'll be there tonight, but I'll be thinking about him the whole time. He signed my ticket from the first Counting Crows show I ever saw way back in 1997 at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle.

It was by total chance he was exiting the theatre as my parents and I walked past on our way to the ferry. I thought it was cool just to shake his hand, but he offered to sign my ticket as well.

He's powered a lot of the soundtrack of my life ("Mr. Jones", "Round Here", "Recovering the Satellites", etc.), and I'll miss the little guy.

Friday, February 25, 2005

posted by David - 7:06 PM

Seahawks Sack Sure-handed Snagger: Self-Exiled Seattle Supporter Saddened.

Although it doesn't come as a surprise, I'm still a little sad to see that the Seattle Seahawks released Jerry Rice. Perhaps it seems a little strange since he spent so little time in a Seahawks uniform, but it is based in how my views on football have changed over the past decade or two.

When I was younger, I used to watch football, and the only thing I kept track of, or remembered, were the big names. Denver and San Francisco weren’t playing... Elway and Montana were going at it with the title of Comeback King on the line.

In this era, I grew to loathe the big names that would stomp on my favorite players. I grew to dislike Rice and a certain Smith more than most. I would abhor any ‘name’ linked with a franchise team that wasn't MY team.

As I matured, I began to realize there was more to a team than just the 'Stars' of the team. I began to notice the big players were big because of the 'lesser' stars supporting them. I realized that without the five guys that were the pocket, the likes of Aikman and Favre would only be known by the particular color of stain they left in the grass.

This is one of the reasons I didn't play high-school football. My school just changed coaches... and the new players had no concept of teamwork. The team would talk trash and walk tall when they were doing well, but as soon as their selfish attitudes started to bring about their downfall the players would injure the patella of their mufshagrumbleIwannabeonthebench.

(I didn't make that word up... the physical trainer swears he heard it.)

This lack of teamwork, by its absence, helped to illuminate the fact that it was a living entity on many teams in modern sports.

So, we have come to my modern-day perceptions. I realize there will always be those showboaters making fools out of themselves, their teammates and disrespecting their opponents just get themselves some extra exposure on SportsCenter. I won't mention any names here (*Cough* RandyMoss *Cough*), but some antics of players are a bit over the top.

But even as these peacocks strut about trying to garner looks, I find myself drawn more towards the players that just get in there and do what they can for the team. One particular moment provided example of that kind of player.

Cowboys All-Pro RB Emmit Smith, a player I had previously despised, injured himself trying to sell a fake run... a play-action pass. A play that doesn’t work unless the running back plunges head first and down like he’s an eight-pound bowling ball headed for four-foot tall pins with no expectation of personal gratitude.

It wasn't his call, but he sold the play so well it resulted in a touchdown... and his injury.

This brings me back to the Jerry Rice issue. I watched him out there on the field. I was there when he played in what might be his final playoff game. He would run hard and play every moment like he hadn’t already put up numbers Hall of Famers got a neck cramp looking at.

Even in his twilight in Oakland and Seattle, he would bust his hump trying to help his team. But in both cases, I think his teams didn’t utilize him as they should have. I can't count how many times I saw Hawks QB Matt Hasselbeck throw a risky pass into double coverage... when Rice was wide open somewhere else. That happened enough for me to view him as a playmaker still.

The thing of greatest import, however, was his demeanor. If Jerry was flipping over backwards, and he just touched the ball with one finger, he was angry if he didn't catch it. The rest of the team, suffering from Seahawks’ disease would drop one that hit them in the numbers and just shrug their shoulders. And that attitude, more than anything, is what is going to make me miss Jerry with the 'Hawks having released him.

The preceding Waste of Space was brought to you by David, the Internet, and the letter Q.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

posted by James - 11:15 PM

The Line Stretches Down Waveland at 5 p.m. - 02/23/2005
The Line Stretches Down Waveland at 5 p.m. - 02/23/2005

The Way to the Wristbands - 02/23/2005
This Way to the Wristbands - 02/23/2005

I didn't get my wristband yesterday. The prior engagement (pun, intended) came through, so I got a late start on my adventures yesterday (but I'll have more on that soon). And by the time those adventures took me to the corner of Clark and Waveland, the line was longer than I had time for. No worries for me since the Cubs were nice enough to open up the Wristband Wracket nice and early tomorrow morning.

Since I have to work tomorrow as I said in the previous post, this works perfectly with my schedule. I'll be able to get my little Circle of Trust-y Baker (very bad, I know), not have to stand in line forever to do it (though that was actually a pretty fun part for me last year) and have enough time to get a work out in before I have to trudge my way back up to Casey's.

All of this was just to say I had done it and to pick up another collectible for my "Wrigleyville Scrapbook," not necessarily to try my luck for Cubs tickets on Friday... until the Cubs announced they will retire Ryne Sandberg's number this season after he's accepts induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Sandberg is my second favorite player ever to don a Cubs uniform, a close second to the Hawk, Andre Dawson. I wear an '89 model, Sandberg road jersey - which would be a "throwback" if it weren't actually a hand-me-down from '89 - proudly, and it's now a mission of mine to have my tickets for that game in hand well before, unlike my usual day-of-game M.O.

So, I'll have my wristband by tomorrow morning, and I'll wait for them to call my number on Friday, and if I happen to be working at Casey's at the time, Casey will just have to live without me for a few minutes. I don't think anyone would begrudge me.

BTW... Wrigleyville Sports is an awesome store right across the corner from Wrigley Field on Sheffield and Addison. Between that store and their website, they have everything a Cubs fan could ask for... except those damn Cubs Believe Bracelets. I say this as a PSA on their behalf...

They don't have them, and they won't until mid-March. Stop opening their door, poking your head in, getting rebuffed and turning tail without even crossing the threshold or saying hello. I'm sure the pretty damn cool staff would appreciate it.

Also, when the dumbasses their warehouse contracts to customize their authentic jerseys misspell Sandberg, it ain't their fault. Don't call and harass the store. They had nothing to do with it. Don't ask them to send you a new jersey on the spot. They're definitely not going to do that 'cause morons, they ain't. I'm not kidding, somebody actually misspelled Sandberg.

The guys there last night were kind enough to let me size up a few jerseys for fit and style... like I said, I'm working out. I can't just depend on what my shirt tag says anymore.

I'm very close to taking the plunge on my first Cubs jersey. Kurt and I have had a pretty lively discussion about this on his blog. I'm getting really close on my redesign to where I can implement comments on this version. After that, I might even reach the pinnacle of blogging that is polls (for more pole... I mean poll enlightenment visit the Sloth) where I could ask something like what I should get on my Cubs jersey.

I could always get a jersey with my name and a football number on it (I would never pick a baseball number 'cause me was really, really bad at anything baseball related, except the getting hurt part), but that would have a hard time living up to the awesomeness that is the Bears jersey my great friend David, who be re-exiled to So Cal as we speak, gave me.

I've leaned heavily towards a Nomar Garciaparra jersey ever since his acquisition, not only because he'll be a leading force on this team in production and presence, but because he means something special... a paradigm shift for the Cubs. In an otherwise dreary season, his acquisition was a major highlight. I'll never forget where I was on July 31, or who was sitting in the seat next to me on August 1 when he donned Cubs pinstripes for the first time. A Nomar jersey would be more of a collector's item for me than anything; something to symbolize and commemorate my first year in Wrigleyville and possibly frame and hang on my wall, if I don't wear it out. But to do it right, I need to get a 2004 edition instead of the new, home-model jersey for this year with just the numbers and no names on the back. And I'll have to act pretty fast on that, if my tip from the Wrigleyville Sports guys comes correct.

Which brings up other possibilities such as Derrek Lee, Mark Prior, Carlos Zambrano, etc... if the unthinkable happened, and they didn't maintain their Cubness for the long term, I don't think any of these guys will have built a legacy that would make me want to still wear one of their jerseys after they've signed with another team.

And as far as "just the numbers on the back" goes, it would be like a game of jersey roulette if, for example, Zammer vacated the number 38. I could end up with a very expensive Renyel Pinto jersey.

There is one current, short-timer who I probably lean towards most of all. Again, I wouldn't want just the number 16, but there are several reasons why Aramis Ramirez is the front runner right now.

Now kiddos, do like Skippy does when he's trying to look even more like a monkey than he already is and put your fingers in your ears, close your eyes and say, "la, la, la, la" while I say reason number 1:


Ok kids, you can stop. DAMMIT SKIPPY! THAT MEANS YOU TOO! Don't make me come over there in May.

Reason number 2: He's my wife's favorite Cub. Yes, her favorite player is still the Mariner Moose, but at least she has a favorite Cub and that's more than I could have ever hoped for.

Reason number 3: well... I'm not going to say for it might ruin the surprise. Let's just say if, again, the unthinkable happened, I'd be able to find it a suitable home with someone who'd appreciate it and still be able to wear it proudly, until this person changes their name. That's way too many hints, but I'll give bonus points to the person who figrues that out.

...but when it comes time to make your jersey decision, I implore everyone to shop at the local business instead of just shelling your money over to the Tribune Co. and MLB. We're all giving them plenty already, and they already made their money on this with the license fees. And even better, do it online where it will take shorter to process the order (with free shipping, since we're already shelling out the big bucks) and make sure to click to their site from someone in the Cubs Blog Army. That way they get a commission off the sale and everybody wins on this!

I have a lot more to come in the next couple days, but that's plenty enough of this for one night, but I stand by my declaration in the since-circulated CBA e-mail. I'll be hanging around Wrigleyville most of tomorrow and Friday. If anybody wanted to send a salute my way, send me an e-mail and I'll let you know how to get a hold of me.

Good Luck, everybody!

posted by James - 10:57 AM

As I'm sure everyone knows, tomorrow begins the first step to buying individual game tickets for 2005 as the Cubs will give out wristbands required to purchase tickets on Friday, unless you're gonna try your luck with that dang ol' Internet, man.

Living in Wrigleyville as I do, I'll be down there. I don't know when since I have a prior engagement (pun intended, hint hint), but they start handing out the plastic bands of power (last year they were orange) at 11 am. Thursday they'll start at 7 am.

If any fellow members of the Clark St. Cavalry had the same plans and would like to convene before, after or just stand in line and stamp our feet together, send me an e-mail and I'll provide further contact information.

Last year, the line was much longer on day two than day one, but it was still at least an hour wait.

On Thursday, I'll be at Casey Moran's, if anyone would like to stop by there... they're having karaoke, though that's not until much later.

Good luck everybody!

Friday, February 11, 2005

posted by CHRIS - 10:18 PM

Hello there in Bloggerland! This is Skippy coming to you from the Land of the Mormons. That's right, Salt Lake City, Utah.

I am here to introduce my fiancee to my family (she was a little scared). But I figured... why waste a perfectly good trip to Utah without seeing my Jazz play in person?

Boy, did I pick the right game to go. The Jazz whooped up on the lowly New Orleans Hornets (which shouldn't surprise anyone). The seats were awesome, as well. We actually had nosebleed seats (upper bowl, row 11), but due to the Jazz' less-than-spectacular-record, we ended up 13 rows from the court. (Ed. note: BREAKIN' THE LAW! BREAKIN' THE LAW!)

I have to say I was not impressed with the Utah fans. In a game when the home team is winning by twenty points, you would expect them to be going nuts. But the upper-bowl fans were the only ones making any real noise.

So here is my challenge to the Utah fans. Prove me wrong. Just be loud, people.

I remember back in the day when my parents and I had season tickets. The place rocked. The seats literally shook. Visiting teams used to fear coming to Utah to play the Jazz because the fans were so loud.

I know it hard to cheer when your team is losing, but it's not going to hurt is it? Let's hear it the next time the Jazz play on national TV.

OK, enough of that. So, all in all, my trip to Utah was great: A Jazz win, 12 inches of fine Utah powder and some great time with my wife to be.

Well y'all, this has been an update from Skippyland. Where the doors are always open, but the rides they ain't free...

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

posted by James - 5:46 PM

"Yes, the Cubs will pay him his "true market value" to play for somebody else next year..."

I said that in my post Saturday night... and apparently, I was wrong (I'm writing a lot like Ron White these days. I sure hope I don't get brought up on copyright charges or something). Oh, somebody will pay Sammy Sosa his true market value next year, but it's not the Cubs...

They'll pay a lot more.

When I wrote that on Saturday, I was talking purely in terms of salary. And maybe someone, somewhere could make a case Sosa is worth the portion of his salary the Cubs will pick up for 2005. But the amount of monies Sosa will "earn" in 2005 doesn't stop there.

Here's a breakdown of those monies:


2006 option buyout:

Contractual severance pay:
Total Due Sosa:

$17 million

$4.5 million

$3.5 million
$25 million

That's a whole lot of money, and Sosa will get every cent of it next year whether he passes today's physical or not.

Ok, funny thing just happened (it's also kinda why this post took so darned long). I'm writing about this and my Yahoo Messenger pops this at me:
1 new message: From: cubs.com; Subj: BASEBALL NEWS: Sosa goes to O's, Burnitz becomes a Cub.
So apparently, I can talk about this in a more official nature, specifically the amount of money the Cubs will "save" with this deal.

The AP has reported the full details of the transaction including the changes to the four-year, $72 million contract Sosa agreed to before the 2002 season.

First off, Sosa has waived the contractual provision stating his option years in 2006 and 2007 would vest automatically, if the Cubs traded him. He has, in effect, voided the options altogether, changing the $4.5 million dollar option buyout for 2006 into an "assignment bonus." The Cubs have to pay him this money by March 15.

The Cubs also have to pay Sosa a $3.5 million severance package by March 2.

Also, Sosa's contract runs over a 12-month period, which means the Cubs have already paid Sosa $1,307,692 of the $17 million in salary Sosa will earn this year. This will count against the money the Cubs are sending to the Orioles in this transaction.

After all is said and done, the Cubs will send $6,842,308 cash along with Sosa to the Orioles for 2b/of Jerry Hairston, Jr., minor-league RHP Dave Crouthers and minor-league 2b Mike Fontenot, the 19th-overall pick in the 2001 amateur draft.

For those still on this ride, let's recap shall we.

Total Due Sosa:

"Assignment Bonus":

Contractual severance pay:

2005 salary already paid to Sosa:

Cash paid to Orioles:
Cubs payroll savings:

Amount Cubs will pay Sosa
to not play for them next year:

$25 million

-4.5 million

-3.5 million


$8.85 million

$16.15 million!!!

That kind of money can buy major talent in today's market. Heck, that's more than the Cubs will pay Nomar this year, before he earns all those incentives. Of course, it's not as simple as saying the Cubs have $8.85 million more to spend this year.

In the deal, the Cubs took on $1.8 million from Hairston's salary and whatever they'll owe the two minor leaguers (whatever it is, it's not important enough to add).

And of course, Master Hendry couldn't bear to have that much money lighting up his payroll ledger, so he spent a whole bunch of it today on OF Jeromy Burnitz - $5 million of it to be exact.

To recap:

Sammy Savings:

Jeromy Burnitz:

Jerry Hairston, Jr.:

$8.85 million

-5 million

-1.8 million
$2.05 million

So, the Cubs essentially traded Sammy Sosa - an icon, a legend, a first-ballot Hall of Famer, who finished third on the team in homers though he played in only 126 games - for Jeromy Burnitz, Jerry Hairston, Jr., two minor leaguers and $2 million.

Now, there's a good chance Burnitz and Hairston could match or exceed Sosa's production, since it's no guarantee Sosa and the Cubs could co-exist in 2005 (THAT MEANS YOU DUSTY!). They certainly give the Cubs something Sosa wouldn't: speed, versatility and left-handed power.

But if not, that better be one happy-ass clubhouse.