Archive for the ‘Chicago’ Tag

Ron Santo, Chicago Legend…   2 comments


On the day of one of the very first Bulls games of this season, I realized after I had already arrived at work that I would not be home in time to catch the beginning of the game.  No problem, I thought, I will just call my wife and have her DVR it for me.  I made the call, she set the DVR, and all was well.  When I sat down to start the game recording I was hit with a tough realization – my wife had DVR’d the game on ESPN and not WCIU.  To those of you that do not realize what this means, I was unable to watch the game with hometown announcers Neil Funk and Stacey King.  Instead, I was forced to watch the game listening to national broadcasters who could care less about Chicago sports.  I told my wife about this and she didn’t understand why I would care about what announcers are covering the game.

I immediately told her about Ron Santo and it all seemed to make sense.

Due to the long hours of my job, over the past three years I have listened to countless Cubs games on the radio.  Ron Santo was the quintessential “homer” commentator and he refused to care what others thought of it.  Listening to Ron and his “YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!”, “ALLLLL RIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGHT!!”, and “OHHH NOOOOOOOO!!” brought me to the ballpark in a seat next to a fan I could always count on.  By no means was Ron the best commentator out there.  He will never be accused of giving listeners too many breakdowns of upcoming pitch possibilities or strategies; however, he gave us all something more important – heart.  Ron wore his heart on his sleeve and, no matter when you tuned into WGN 720, you always knew the state of the game just by the tone of Ron’s voice.  He loved the Chicago Cubs and the fans with every fiber of his being and he gave every fan who listened to him a true sense of companionship through each high or low.  We never went through anything alone, we always had Ron.

Ron’s on the field accomplishments speak for themselves.  I am not writing this as a petition to have him inducted into the Hall of Fame because at this point I think that induction would be useless and, quite frankly, an insult to Ron.  Ron Santo has always been a Hall of Famer to Cubs fans.  Plaque or no plaque, that will never change.

The Chicago sports community lost a legend and friend today.  In an era where the game of baseball has been tainted with innumerable allegations of performance enhancing drugs and Senate investigative committees, there was something pure and innocent about sitting back and listening to the Cubbies with your buddies Ron and Pat.  Thanks for all the memories, Ron.  Although we won’t be able to hear you when the Cubbies finally win it all, me and each and every member of Cubs nation will have you in our hearts.

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Posted December 3, 2010 by joejack7500 in Chicago Cubs, Life, MLB, Sports

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Here Comes D-Rose…   4 comments


In Chicago, the collective sports fan base desires and demands greatness each and every season.  Greatness alone isn’t good enough for us, though.  We need greatness with some flare, some pizzazz.  The ’85 Bears wasn’t just the greatest football team ever assembled, those guys were monsters (monsters who could awkwardly dance and pretend to play instruments better than anyone else…ever) led by a coach with a fictional hurricane named after him.  The Bulls of the 90’s?  It wasn’t enough that we had the best player to ever play the game, the best “Robin” to set foot on a basketball court, and the best pro basketball coach of all time, we also needed Horace “Fo-Man” Grant with his crazy goggles and Dennis “The Worm” Rodman with his hair follicle antics.  The 2005 Sox won with the most hated catcher outside Chicago and most beloved instigator in the Windy City behind the plate.  Last year’s Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup thanks to an overtime goal by a kid we embraced for beating up a cabbie in Buffalo.

When we as fans finally witness such greatness, we cherish it and hold onto the memories for the rest of our lives.  We carry it around with us ready to throw it in an out of towner’s face anytime he or she tries to tell us that Tom Brady’s near perfect Patriots team could have beaten the Bears Shufflin’ Crew.  When Bill Simmons in his Book of Basketball told the world his hometown 1986 Celtics were the greatest NBA team of all time, we scoffed and (seriously, I might add) asked, “Who would cover Tony Kukoc on that team?”  There is a reason the Chicago Bulls 1990’s Dynasty DVDs are selling on Amazon.com for almost $300 right now while the Lakers Dynasty DVDs are going for a mere $15.  The demand for those memories is just that much greater in the Chicago sports fan population.  I can guarantee that if you are a true Chicago sports fan, either you or someone you know owns the Super Bowl Shuffle VHS or you have downloaded it onto your MP3 player and you can probably still recite at least some part of the song.

I am here to let you know that we are on the cusp of greatness yet again.  There is a hometown kid, born and raised right here in the Second City, who is in the process of making the leap to being not only a solid MVP candidate this year (give Tim Legler two weeks before he’s saying the same thing), but one of the NBA’s greatest players.  He has rejuvenated a franchise that has been in the dumps for over ten years and is doing so with speed we haven’t seen before and new-found gusto (have you seen the commercials with “Slim Chin”?).  Through 20% of this season, Derrick Rose has led a team without its major free agent signing power forward to a 9-6 record atop the Midwest Division, including the first winning record on the dreaded “circus trip” since The Statue won his last ring.   Through fifteen games he is averaging 27 points, 8 assists, and nearly 5 rebounds per game.  Of course you can say the scoring numbers will drop when Carlos Boozer returns to the line up, but with a solid and consistent (sorry Taj Gibson) post scorer, his assist numbers will only increase.  Just for argument’s sake, if Rose conservatively averages 24 points and 9 assists per game for the rest of the season, he will finish the season in a group occupied only by Oscar Robertson, Nate Archibald, and Jerry West.  Of these players all achieved First Team All-NBA Honors and all but Archibald won the MVP (Archibald had a bit of an attitude problem that led him to be traded twice in the prime of his career…D-Rose has no such attitude problem.  In fact, players around the league like Kobe Bryant and even the spurned child of Chicago Kevin Garnett go out of their way to compliment him and his dedication to the game).  In addition, all were honored as members of the NBA’s 50th Anniversary All-Time Team in 1996 and are enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame.

If you aren’t already one of the bandwagon jumpers who have joined in the Chicago Bulls herd, you should look into doing so and fast (at the very least for the United Center Nachos…).  I have noticed people who couldn’t tell me the difference between a small forward and a hole in the ground posting Facebook status updates about the resurgence of the franchise and it is only going to get better from here.  In the words of the immortal Stacey King (see, my argument exactly, in no other town would a former bench player turned color commentator like Stacey King be so loved and revered as in Chicago), “this kid is special”.  Stacey’s right and I hope ALL of Chicago and the rest of the NBA start to take notice.

World Premier…   4 comments


Let me start this off by saying that I love my wife.  She’s an amazing woman who does things on a daily basis that impact others’ lives in ways I can only dream about.  Having said that, on occasion she also does things that leave me shaking my head in confusion.  This story is one of those instances and the premier of “S#*% My Wife Does That I Don’t Understand”.  (Disclaimer:  If she ever had time or the desire to write anything like this about me, she would have enough material to fill a 12 volume set.)

As anyone who read my last post knows, we had a furnace put in this past Friday.  Our utility room where the furnace is housed is also home to a good amount of random crap.  My wife, being the considerate person she is, cleared out the room so the workers could easily move around.  In doing so, she also disturbed some of the uninvited guests we’ve had come into our warm house from the cold outdoors through the backyard access door in that room.  As I later found out when I noticed what appeared to be a slow moving black golf ball with legs on our bedroom wall, one of these guests was apparently the spider from the wine cellar scene in Arachnophobia.  With the string of obscenities that flew from my mouth, she woke up in a panic and asked what was wrong.  I told her about the spider and she casually responded, “Oh yeah, I saw that thing earlier.  It was in the towel under the litter box.  It ran into the bedroom after I screamed.  I looked it up online and I think it’s some sort of wolf spider or something.”  Phew, good thing Al Gore invented that internet and thanks for the creation story of the tyrannosaurus rex arachnid twenty feet away from where we sleep, honey.  The part I failed to catch was where you stepped on it with your shoe instead of welcoming it to kill us in our sleep.

I don’t want to be married to Xena the Warrior Princess or anything, but is killing a spider that tough?  Maybe I am asking to have my cake and eat it too here, but when I’m home, feel free to act like you’re really scared and let me get all Rambo/Boba Fett on insects 1/100th my size, but when I’m not around throw on some Pink/Alanis Morissette angry woman music and channel your inner G.I. Jane/Ellen Ripley/Chun Li/Sarah Connor and take care of business.  You are the same girl who took a softball off the face, picked up the tooth from the infield dirt, and tried to reinsert it into your gums with your only fear being the possibility of looking like a carnie for the rest of your life.  You walk a half mile through Hyde Park’s finest dimly-lit streets each day for work.  Next time, just smush (not Jersey Shore style) the bug and move on.  Also, the beef in the chilli last week was a little dry…just saying…

Jealous? You will be…   2 comments


We are getting a new furnace put in this Friday because we used Mr. Magoo as our home inspector and he failed to notice the almost 40 year old furnace in the house was shot and spewing out chemicals like a freshman at his first frat party.  I find it weird I get excited about things like new home appliances now.  I remember as a kid I would look at toys and video games in Christmas catalogues and Sunday newspaper ads and get excited about how cool they looked and how much I wanted them.  I used to rummage through closets and drawers and even crawl around in our attic and crawlspace looking for presents each December.  I used to get so excited when I found the presents that I once opened a bunch of Power Ranger action figures and played with them anytime my parents would leave the house and then re-packed and resealed them in their boxes only to put on one of my best acting performances on Christmas morning. 

Now a heating contractor hands me a flyer with specs for my brand new Rheem 95% Efficiency Upflow Gas Furnace and I shoot right back into kid mode.  In-shot burners with a 24-volt slow-opening valve!?!?  Get outta here, I would totally trade my Shaq rookie card for that!  Integrated Furnace Control WITH Standardized On-Board Diagnostics!?!  I’m not sure, but I think the Millennium Falcon had one of those!

The thing is, I have to talk myself into things like this for a couple of reasons:  First, as an adult, the cool presents are just not as plentiful.  I really like to cook and all, but if I told my 9 year old self that I would one day get excited over a spice rack as a Christmas present I would have probably kicked myself in the nether regions and ran away crying.  Secondly, I have to figure out a way to justify spending that much money on something as unfun as a furnace.  “What are you doing this Saturday night, Joe?”  “Oh, its going to be awesome, I am staying in and saving up for my direct spark ignition furnance!”  That just doesn’t sound quite like going to Sluggers’ piano bar and batting cages, does it?  Finally, I can blame my sleepless nights on the pure excitement of a freshly cleaned air conditioning coil getting thrown in for free instead of my wife waking me up just to let me know the temperature in our house just dipped below 45.

So if anyone is looking for an exhilarating experience, give me a call this Friday night and I will gladly let you come out and tell me how jealous you are of my brand new furnace.  If I get a solid enough head count, I will even make a zesty dinner filled with some, but not all of, the 36 spices neatly organized on the metal and wood rack over my oven.

The Stephanie Tanner of the Holiday Season   4 comments


There I was, a mere five days out from Halloween, driving through the downtown area of Lockport, IL…surrounded by Christmas lights.  Kids were barely waking up from their sugar-induced comas and already the lights were everywhere – on light poles, around trees, in shop windows – everywhere.  If you threw some business cards for hookers on the ground and Pete Rose at a table signing autographed baseballs, you would think you just pulled up to the Vegas Strip.

Now, I am all for Christmas and the decorating in 15 degree temperatures that drop to -30 with each westwardly exhale of Lake Michigan, but what happened to the old rule of waiting until after Thanksgiving?  It is not just the decorating, either.  I just saw a commercial for ABC Family’s “25 Days of Christmas”…it starts on November 21st, a full four days before we carve the turkey.  My lovely wife had barely emptied the Halloween candy bowl before asking if we could put our tree up.  It seems each and every year, we collectively put less and less emphasis on the fourth Thursday of November in anticipation of the 25th of December.  Thanksgiving has become the discarded middle child between the flamboyant, sometimes trashy (see this post), costumed Halloween and the radiant, but not twinkling (right, Clark W. Griswald?), Christmas…or Hanukkah for my dreidel spinning friends.

Not to sound too much like Randy Marsh here, but isn’t this America?  Aren’t we the land of excess and “Old Country Buffet”?  How could we let this happen?  Why is it that we have pushed aside the single day of the year where gluttony is not only encouraged but expected?  Me being the “husky” fella (sidenote – I used to have to wear “husky” jeans as a kid because I had what doctors called a bit of a weight problem.  There are few things more embarrassing than going shopping with your step-mother for pants and having her tell the department store woman “husky” for your pants size.  Unless you count the “it seems like there is plenty of room in the crotch” line she dropped 3 minutes later.) that I am I probably taking this harder than most, but I truly think this is a problem of massive pro-portions (pun intended).  We cannot let Thanksgiving become the Stephanie Tanner (the only Tanner daughter without her own Wikipedia page…maybe I can do that for my next post) of holidays as I don’t think turkey goes well with an adult meth problem.  I’m not asking for anything crazy here, maybe a cartoon pilgrim in the window, a hand-traced turkey on the fridge, and a sabbatical from the “Holiday Lite 93.9” until after we throw out the canned cranberry sauce no one touched because it looks like weird Jell-o for old people.  So put away the Sears Christmas Catalogue, grab a slice of pumpkin pie, and pop your belt out one more size…I am sure the extra “padding” will help as us uncoordinated folks fall off the ladder hanging icicle lights from icicles the last weekend of November.