Thursday, October 31, 2013

The statistic of the day...

...is from a piece by John Harwood in the New York Times, "Behind the Roar of Political Debates, Whispers of Race Persist":

In the 11 states of the Confederacy, Mr. Romney outpolled Mr. Obama by nine percentage points. Elsewhere, Mr. Obama won by 10 points.

Here's that list again...

...of my probable games this weekend (subject to change).

Friday:
Willowbrook (7-2) at St. Rita (8-1) 7 pm

Saturday:
St. Francis (5-4) at Glenbard South (9-0) 1 pm
Warren (6-3) at Glenbrook South (7-2) 6 pm

Let's start with Friday night. Why Willowbrook at St. Rita? Why not No. 9-seed Notre Dame (6-3) at No. 8 Fremd (6-3)? That would be a good matchup and another chance to see the Dons' star running back, Chris James. It's also Pat Disabato's best first-round game in 8A. Or No. 13 Dundee-Crown (6-3) at No. 4 Oak Park River Forest (8-1)? That would be an opportunity to see the Huskies' wide receiver Simmie Cobbs, who's committed to Purdue. Or No. 11 Conant (6-3) at No. 6 Jacobs (7-2)? That's Mike Helfgot's best first-round contest in 7A. It's also at Jacobs, which is a great place to see a game. What's more, the Golden Eagles are coached by Bill Mitz, who had a long and distinguished career at Stevenson. What about No. 13 Prairie Ridge (5-4) at No. 4 Lakes (8-1), or No. 12 Hampshire (6-3) at No. 5 Kaneland (8-1)? Do I smell an upset? Or two?

Those should all be good games, but I'll be driving down to 77th and Western in the city tomorrow night to see two of the most exciting quarterbacks in the state. Willowbrook's Brian Johnson, above, passed for a record 675 yards and 7 touchdowns against Lyons (5-4) in Week Two. Wow! And St. Rita's Tommy Mister is a dual-threat QB who has been putting up some big numbers lately, especially last week against previously unbeaten Loyola (8-1). This potential shoot-out will be my Game of the Week.

While Lyons was the only winning team that Willowbrook beat this year, the Warriors lost to Glenbard East (2-7) and Downers Grove South (6-3). The Mustangs bested Loyola, of course, Marist (6-3) and Providence (5-4). Their lone defeat came at the hands of -- who else? -- Mount Carmel (8-1).

The only time I can find when these two programs met was in the 2007 playoffs, when the Mustangs clobbered Willowbrook, 43-7.

On Saturday afternoon I could see No. 11 St. Charles East (6-3) at No. 6 Stevenson (7-2), but it's at 3:00; that would prevent me from seeing a second game in its entirety. No. 11 Lyons (5-4) at No. 6 Simeon (6-3)? Same problem; the game starts at 3:30 at Gately on the South Side. No. 8 Providence (5-4) at No. 1 Crete-Monee (8-1) at 1 pm? That seems to be on everyone's Game of the Day list but I've seen both schools play and, quite frankly, neither one is that much fun to watch.

So that leaves No. 14 St. Francis at No. 3 Glenbard South. That's on both Mike Helfgot's and Pat Disabato's lists of the best first-round game in 5A. In addition, I'll get to see star running back James Butler.

Can the Spartans upset the undefeated Raiders? Well, they already beat Plainfield South (6-3) and St. Edward (5-4), while losing to four winning teams, Montini (9-0), Marian Central (7-2), Marmion (7-2) and Aurora Christian (6-3) before the Eagles lost everyone to injuries.

Glenbard South beat Antioch (5-4), Fenton (6-3) and Bloom (5-4) -- not exactly a Murderers' Row. I can see why the papers picked this game; it should be a good one.

Finally, there's Warren at Glenbrook South.

I'd really like to see Nos. 1 Richards and Evergreen Park; they face No. 8 Yorkville (5-4) and No. 16 Richmond-Burton (5-4), respectively. But I just don't think either one of those contests will be worth the drive. So how about No. 10 Nazareth (7-2) at No. 7 Brooks (8-1)? Tempting, as I think the Roadrunners may be a dark horse in 5A. But I could probably see them next week against No. 2 Sycamore (9-0).

So that leaves me with the Blue Devils at GBS. Hard to believe, but I can't find a meeting between the two in the last ten years. (I would have sworn they'd met in the playoffs.) While Warren lost to three good teams -- Lake Zurich (8-1), Stevenson (7-2) and Lake Forest (7-2) -- they beat Lyons in overtime and New Trier (5-4). The Titans lost to Maine South (7-2) and Evanston (5-4) and defeated New Trier and Niles West (6-3). Will it be the most exciting game I've ever seen? Probably not, but it's a No. 10 against a No. 7 seed and a 6-3 squad against a 7-2 school. And, besides, it's only four miles from my house.

As always, I'll be live tweeting the games @BoringOldWhtGuy. Enjoy the weekend!

The New Yorker cartoon of the day:

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

An alley...

...in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

The New Yorker cartoon of the day:

Here's a list...

...of my probable games this weekend (subject to change). I hope to elaborate more when I get home tomorrow night.

Friday:
Willowbrook (7-2) at St. Rita (8-1) 7 pm

Saturday:
St. Francis (5-4) at Glenbard South (9-0) 1 pm
Warren (6-3) at Glenbrook South (7-2) 6 pm

Sunday, October 27, 2013

I'm traveling to one of the...

...reddest states in the Union this week. (Wish me luck.) Blogging should be lighter than usual until Thursday.

I went out to Wheaton Friday night...

...to see Glenbard North play Wheaton North in what was the de facto championship of the DuPage Valley Conference.

Now, before I go any further, it's worth asking the question: Did I go to the right game? My other choices were undefeated Loyola at St. Rita, or undefeated Lake Zurich at Stevenson. And while both unbeaten teams went down to defeat, only the latter was a truly good game: the Patriots overcame a 17-point deficit to upset the Bears, 24-17. (The other contest, which I watched on TV on Saturday morning, was fairly one-sided from the get-go: Tommy Mister St. Rita beat the Ramblers convincingly, 31-19.)

By the way, two other undefeated schools in the top classes went down this weekend, and both in overtime: 6A Rock Island to Peoria Notre Dame, 34-33, and 5A Rich Central to Crete-Monee, 27-26. (I had toyed with the idea of attending that last one with my buddy Kevin, who lives in nearby Flossmoor, but family obligations prevented me.) So that leaves only nine unbeaten squads in the top four classes:

8A: Bolingbrook (seen 'em);
7A: Whitney Young (seen 'em) and Edwardsville;
6A: Boylan;
5A: Montini, Sycamore, Washington, University and Glenbard South.

In addition, there are still four undefeated teams in 4A, 3A, and 2A; and seven in 1A. (I can't follow everybody closely; besides, most of these schools are well outside the Chicago area.)

So, again, did I go to the right game? I think so, and so did the guy sitting next to me. (More on him in a minute.) While Tommy Mister put on quite a show against Loyola, scoring four touchdowns, I think I'll still have more chances to see him. And even though Lake Zurich - Stevenson turned out to be the best game of the night, I've already seen the Bears and feel like I'll have ample opportunities to watch the Patriots in the next few weeks.

But on Friday night, GBN's star running back Justin Jackson put on a show of his own, rushing for over 300 yards, four touchdowns and adding two interceptions and several tackles on defense! (The guy next to me wondered if he'd be more valuable at Northwestern next year as a running or a defensive back; good question.) Even though I saw Jackson the previous week against Wheaton Warrenville South, you just can't get enough of him. If he's not the Player of the Year I don't know who else would be.

Before I got to the actual game on Friday, I took a short spin around the town of Wheaton. As always, in order to beat the traffic I drove out there early. My first stop, after passing Cosley Zoo on Gary Avenue, was Wheaton College near downtown, the alma mater of evangelist Billy Graham and moviemaker Wes Craven (seriously). It was very pleasant in the late afternoon sun so I got out and strolled around the campus a little (another thing my father would have done). It seemed like a typical small, private liberal arts college until I walked past the sign, above. For Christ and His Kingdom. Yikes! (I wondered what my Jewish friends would do if they read that. Probably run.) It reminded me of a friend of mine who was raised in a fundamentalist Protestant family, went to Wheaton, became an Episcopal minister for fifteen years and dropped out after a crisis of faith. He's now an agnostic and attends a Unitarian church. And I thought, that must have taken a lot of guts to break from that kind of background and become a free-thinker. Good for him!

Incidentally, is it just me or does everyone feel a little bit like an outsider in America? I'm currently reading a memoir called Displaced Persons, by Joseph Berger, in which he recalls feeling alienated from American society as the son of Holocaust survivors even though he ultimately became a writer for that most "establishment" of newspapers, The New York Times. As for me, Wheaton College reminded me that I felt like an outsider growing up Catholic in what was then a Protestant-dominated country and, today, as a lapsed-Catholic in what is becoming more and more a Catholic-dominated society. I'd bet that even the evangelical Christians at Wheaton feel alienated from what they consider to be an increasingly secular America. In short, none of us feels like we're really in the In Crowd.

But a quick glance at my watch phone told me it was almost time for the game! So I jumped back into my convertible and made my way to the stadium. I drove past the house above on Gary Avenue and had to ask myself: Did the Dutch settle Wheaton or something? But there was no time for dawdling; it was time to park my car, get a hot dog and select just the right seat for the evening's event.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, I didn't know the guy who had set up makeshift bleachers in his back yard overlooking the stadium. (You can see it near the flag if you look hard.) He had taken a page from the playbook of those apartment buildings just outside Wrigley Field on Waveland and Sheffield Avenues. He and his buddies looked like they were having a grand old time watching the game. (I wonder if the school had ever considered putting up a billboard to obstruct the view.)

Once I had found just the right seat at the top of the bleachers at about the 40-yard line and tore into my blue cheese sausage sandwich (at least I think that's what it was), an older man came up and asked if the seat next to me was taken. "No, come on up; I've been saving it just for you," I answered.

He took off his right glove, stuck out his hand and introduced himself. "I'm a Glenbard West fan," he said, just to make everything crystal-clear from the start. It turned out he was a retired lawyer from Glen Ellyn where his sons had played for the Hilltoppers. But he still attends games at Duchon Field when they're at home and DuPage Valley games on Friday nights (and the occasional Saturday game of his alma mater, Wheaton College).

"I live for high school football!" he announced and then ticked off a number of reasons why, all of which I could have listed myself. I quickly wondered, Did my family put this guy up to this? My next thought was, Will you marry me? But then he offered to share his blanket and I returned to my senses, "No, that's all right. Thanks, though." (Sometimes it's better to just be cold than sit under the same blanket with a strange man.)

But he was actually a lot of fun to sit next to and he knew every bit as much about high school football as me (which is a little scary). I learned a number of things from him about Wheaton, Wheaton College and Wheaton North in particular. (It's quite a little self-contained world out there.) He also revealed that he had once played against Dick Butkus when he was at Morgan Park High School in the late '50s and early '60s and the future Bear great was a fullback at Chicago Vocational School. "But, it's good you're sitting down," he confided, "I wasn't as good as him."

In turn, I showed him how to get other high school scores from a new-fangled thing called "Twitter."

He was really a neat old guy who grew up in the Beverly neighborhood of the city and now had a cabin in northern Minnesota, where he also followed high school football. I could tell he was a Fox News viewer, though, as he made a few disparaging remarks about "liberals" and such. (I managed to keep my mouth shut.) And at one point his Wheaton College Protestant upbringing shone through a little when he made a snide crack about Fenwick fans leaving their "whiskey bottles" behind after a playoff game at Glenbard West a few years ago. (I didn't have the heart to tell him my dad and many of my relatives graduated from the Oak Park school.)

To be fair, an old Irish Catholic from the North Shore who sat next to me at the Loyola - Mount Carmel game actually whispered the "N-word" to me a few weeks ago. My wife was a little shocked by this when I mentioned it to her later, but I told her -- rightly, I think -- that it's a generational thing. I reminded her of some of the things both of our fathers used to say -- neither of whom was what you'd call "politically correct"!

As I said, though, all in all he was a really nice guy and I enjoyed sitting next to him (even if we didn't share a blanket).

The game itself was great, although it was Senior Night and they had to introduce practically everyone at the school and his or her parents. (Why does it seem like every game I go to is Senior Night? It sets the kickoff back at least fifteen minutes!)

And there was even the obligatory guy in shorts (two, actually), above. (It never fails; it's kind of like the stoner who always shows up to sell grilled cheese sandwiches at Grateful Dead concerts!) When I pointed this out to the guy next to me he cracked me up a little. "Yeah, I know that guy. He always does that! What, I ask you, would make someone wake up in the morning and say to himself, 'This would be a good day to wear shorts'?"

I couldn't help noticing him walking back and forth along the sideline. He was older, bald, had a mustache, and reminded me of the youngest Mandelbaum from that episode from Seinfeld, above.

So the game was great even if, after scoring a touchdown to make it 26-13 with five minutes remaining in the game, the Wheaton North coach elected to kick away rather than try to get the ball back with an onside kick. (The Panthers marched down the field, scored again, and Wheaton North didn't get the ball back until there was less than a minute remaining on the clock. They took a couple of knees to end the game.) I thought that was a little odd, and my new friend said it was typical of the Falcons' coach, who "always disappoints you."

But I finally got to see Rexilius Field at Wheaton North, a beautiful setting for a game in a charming old Protestant town (albeit with a lingering history of suspicion of boozy Irish Catholic Papists like myself), made a new friend and got to watch Justin Jackson, arguably the best running back in the state, run all over another quality team.

Let the playoffs begin!

The New Yorker cartoon of the day:

Saturday, October 26, 2013

While we're waiting...

...for the playoff pairings to be announced, I thought it would be interesting to see how other states organize their postseasons.

According to a piece by Mike Clark:

Another possibility is to bring computer rankings into the process. If you think this can’t be done on a statewide basis, know that it is being done now in Indiana by stats guru Jeff Sagarin. Oddly enough, the postseason pairings are much less fair in Indiana than in Illinois; that state brackets teams via a blind draw. With an everyone-in playoff system in Indiana, that means it’s possible for two 9-0 teams — or two 0-9 teams — to meet in the first round.

And from Bill Andrew, whose son Dylan (number 12, above) played quarterback for Neuqua Valley and took his first college snap at the University of St. Thomas today: 

Just through following UST, I've picked up some info on the Minnesota high school scene. Interesting to note that in their largest class of football, "6A," they only have 32 teams, so ... all make the playoffs!  Somewhat similar set-ups in the lower classes too, where teams that are, say, 2-7, make the playoffs (going up against 7-2 teams).  In that set-up, however, the highly-seeded teams do get a bye in the first round.

Anyway, each state sure is different.

Now hurry up with those IHSA brackets, will ya?  

Friday, October 25, 2013

I went to Lane Tech yesterday...

...to see Whitney Young defeat Taft, 21-6, in their last game of the regular season. The Dolphins (the Dolphins?) finished with a perfect 9-0 record and narrowly missed notching their seventh -- yes, seventh -- shutout of the season when the Eagles scored on a pass with literally no time left on the clock. (They didn't even get to attempt the point after.) Young outscored its opponents this year, 343-18, and didn't allow an offensive touchdown until the very last play of the season. (The only other touchdown was a kickoff return.) Wow!

One of the reasons I went to the game (besides the fact that an 8-0 team was playing a 7-1 team on a Thursday afternoon at Lane) was to answer the question I had posed yesterday: Is Whitney Young for real?

Now, before I get to that, I have a few observations. (Surprised?)

First of all, Lane Tech is a massive place. I can't imagine going to school there. But, despite a few signs of wear and tear (such as the Totem Pole, above), the school appears to be in relatively good shape. Totem pole?

Second, pink is not a good look on a football team. I know, I know, October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and I applaud everyone for observing it. (I'll admit it: my wife and I are a little jealous. How did they make pink such a ubiquitous color for breast cancer awareness? And how could we ever do something like that for autism?) But the color pink just doesn't look good as part of a football uniform. Let's face it, it's hard to intimidate someone when you're wearing a color that's usually associated with baby girls. There; I said it.

Third, why was there no one sitting on the Whitney Young side? Okay, there were actually two people over there: a guy filming at midfield and a woman standing way down at the goal line. (Can you see her?) What was that all about? Why were all the Young fans on the home side? And why didn't that woman move down, closer to the action? There were plenty of good seats on her side. Oh, well.

Fourth, the Taft band, above, was excellent, but I didn't get to hear them as well as I would have liked because I spent the entire halftime standing in line for the one lady selling concessions. (I finally gave up and returned to watch the second half. There were still people in line well into the fourth quarter. Did they come to watch a football game or to eat?)

And last (before I get to the actual game), my failure to get a hot dog at intermission was a blessing in disguise: it allowed me to visit Hero's Sub Shop, above, on Addison and Western after the game. If you've never been there, you really should. The proprietor told me it's been there for fifty years! I got a "Monster" sub for myself and a turkey one to bring home to my wife; they were as good as I had remembered. Sometimes the universe just smiles on you.

Now, as for the Dolphins (the Dolphins?) and whether or not they're for real, I have to start by saying that I counted fewer than 30 guys suited up. And five of their starters played both ways. (In contrast, Taft had almost 40 guys in uniform and big schools like Loyola have almost 60.) So can Young compete in the playoffs with such a small squad? (Remember, they're in 7A.) Despite Young's star running back, Miles Baggett, who carried the ball a lot, the Dolphins (the Dolphins?) are without their starting quarterback, David Craan. And even though Carter Coates and Christian Everett did well in his place (sharing duty in the first and second halves, respectively), how confident, entering the postseason, can coach Tim Franken be?

(Baggett incidentally, is the brother of former Young star Terry Baggett, who recently set the Army single-game rushing record with 304 yards against Eastern Michigan. Cool.)

The game itself turned out much better than I had expected. Judging from some of Young's previous scores, I had told my wife that I'd probably be leaving at the half. Turns out, though, that the contest was scoreless until the very end of the third quarter. It was actually a good game; well worth the five bucks for admission.

So at 9-0 Young now stands to draw a 5-4 team in Round One of the playoffs. How would the Dolphins (the Dolphins?) fare against one of the current 5-3 teams in 7A such as St. Patrick or Andrew? Or against some of the stronger 4-4 teams, such as Stagg or St. Charles North? Does a 30-man roster, missing its starting quarterback, stand a chance? We'll see.

And whither Taft, which ended its season at 7-2? Well, as it turns out, they may not even make it to the playoffs. What? (That's what I said to the guy next to me.) But he's right; according to the IHSA Web site:

At the request of the Chicago Public Schools League, only the top two teams in each of the four "Chicago" conferences will be eligible for the IHSA playoffs.

Apparently, the Chicago Public League is divided up into three groups of conferences, the "Chicago," the "Illini," and the "Inter-City." (There's so much I don't know about football.) Why don't they want more than two teams from the "Chicago" conferences to go to the playoffs? 

Now if Schurz beats Roosevelt on Saturday, the Bulldogs will finish in second place in the conference and advance to the postseason. (Schurz beat Taft in a head-to-head matchup in Week Six.) That means that the Eagles, at 7-2, would miss the playoffs. Sounds odd to me.

So Whitney Young finished the regular season at 9-0 and will draw a 5-4 opponent in Round One. Taft, meanwhile, may or may not go to the playoffs. And I saw a much better game than I expected (and took too many pictures). All in all, it was a good day. 

The New Yorker cartoon of the day:

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The last time Whitney Young...

...played Taft was in 2006. The Dolphins, who were 3-3 going into that game, edged the 1-5 Eagles, 25-24. Today the two Chicago Public League - Big Shoulders teams are 8-0 and 7-1, respectively.

(While Young is the alma mater of First Lady Michelle Obama, Terry Kath of Chicago, above, went to Taft.)

Is Whitney Young for real? Not only have they outscored their opponents, 322-12, but six of those eight wins were shutouts. Wow.

The regular season finale for both schools is at Lane Tech this afternoon. I've always wanted to see a game there.

I've been reading a lot...

...by the critics of the Affordable Care Act lately to find out just what the devil has them so worked up about Obamacare. And I can't help thinking of the video above in which Ronald Reagan warned of the dangers of Medicare. Listen to the Gipper and his predictions:

The doctor begins to lose freedom . . . First you decide that the doctor can have so many patients. They are equally divided among the various doctors by the government. But then doctors aren’t equally divided geographically. So a doctor decides he wants to practice in one town and the government has to say to him, you can't live in that town. They already have enough doctors. You have to go someplace else. And from here it's only a short step to dictating where he will go . . . All of us can see what happens once you establish the precedent that the government can determine a man's working place and his working methods, determine his employment. From here it's a short step to all the rest of socialism, to determining his pay. And pretty soon your son won't decide, when he's in school, where he will go or what he will do for a living. He will wait for the government to tell him where he will go to work and what he will do. 

And one of these days, we are going to spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children, what it once was like in America when men were free.

Did any of that come true?

So I wonder, are the predictions of today's critics of health care reform any more reliable than Reagan's were back in 1961?

The Republicans hatehatehate...

...the Affordable Care Act. We get it. (Boy, do we get it!)

But now they're mad that the rollout isn't going smoothly? That part I don't get. (They should be ecstatic!) It reminds me of that old Woody Allen joke: "The food here is terrible -- and such small portions!"

Is the Affordable Care Act working?

If you ask a Democrat, the answer would probably be something like this: "Yes, for the most part. Sure, the Web site is a disaster, but they'll get the kinks worked out. Ultimately, though, coverage will be extended to everyone and we'll all be a lot better off than before."

If you ask a Republican, the answer would probably be something like this: "It's the worst thing that's happened to this country since the Fugitive Slave Act!"

So it depends on whom you ask.

But I'm pretty sure that it won't depend on when you ask. In other words, pick any time in the future: six months, a year, five years or ten years, and I bet you'll get the same answers as above. Supporters of the law will always like it and detractors will always hate it. And they'll have their own facts to support their arguments:

"It's saved the U. S. money." "It's adding to the deficit!"

"Most premiums went down." "Most premiums went up!"

"More people have access to coverage." "Fewer people have access to coverage!"

"The quality of health care in this country has improved." "The quality of health care in this country has declined!"

"On balance, the Affordable Care Act has been a success." "Obamacare is the worst thing that ever happened to this country!"

If there's one thing you can count on, it's that the two sides will never stop arguing about the ACA. Never.

The ranks of the undefeated...


...in Illinois high school football continue to dwindle. With Schaumburg (7-1) losing to Fremd (6-2) and Kaneland (7-1) falling to Sycamore (8-0), above, here's what we are left with entering Week Nine:

8A: Loyola and Bolingbrook;
7A: Lake Zurich, Edwardsville and Whitney Young;
6A: Rock Island and Boylan; and
5A: Montini, Sycamore, Washington, University, Rich Central and Glenbard South.

In 4A and 3A there are still five unbeaten teams, in 2A there are six and in 1A there are seven.

So who could get knocked off this weekend? I can think of several possibilities: Loyola has to play at St. Rita (7-1), Lake Zurich travels to Stevenson (6-2), Whitney Young plays Taft (7-1) at Lane Tech today, Rock Island hosts Peoria Notre Dame (6-2), Sycamore is at Yorkville (5-3), Rich Central plays Crete-Monee (7-1) at home and Glenbard South is at Bloom (5-3). The rest look pretty safe to me.

The AP rankings are out; here's how I would rate the 26 teams I've seen according to class:

8A

1. Loyola (8-0) AP No. 1
2. Bolingbrook (8-0) No. 2
3. Homewood-Flossmoor (7-1) No. 3
4. Neuqua Valley (7-1) No. 4
5. Warren (6-2) N/R
6. Marist (5-3) No. 9
7. Naperville Central (5-3) No. 10
8. Notre Dame (6-2) N/R
9. Niles West (6-2) N/R
10. Bartlett (3-5) N/R

7A

1. Glenbard North (7-1) AP No. 7
2. Mount Carmel (7-1) No. 1
3. Wheaton North (7-1) No. 5
4. Lake Zurich (8-0) No. 2
5. St. Rita (7-1) No. 6
6. Wheaton Warrenville South (6-2) No. 10
7. Benet (6-2) N/R
8. Fenwick (7-1) N/R
9. Niles North (3-5) N/R

6A

1. Providence (4-4) AP N/R
2. St. Patrick (5-3) N/R
3. De La Salle (5-3) N/R
4. Crete-Monee (7-1) No. 3

4A

1. Phillips (5-3) AP N/R

3A

1. IC Prep (5-3) AP No. 9
2. Aurora Central (6-2) N/R

This is the last week of the regular season. Get ready for the playoffs!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Michael Phelps, move over.

Here's a truly scary...

...thought: What if, during this recent government shutdown, the Republicans had controlled both houses of Congress? Ramesh Ponnuru, writing in Bloomberg, quotes an anonymous Republican senator (my emphasis):

At a Senate Republican lunch the day of the vote, someone mentioned that the party wasn’t ready to run the Senate: If Republicans had held a majority in both the House and the Senate, they wouldn’t have been able to pass anything in either chamber. The senator thinks such a turn of events would have been “incredibly damaging.”

The New Yorker cartoon of the day:

My friends who go to Las Vegas...

...tell me that the secret to winning at the casinos is to find the "hot table."

Is there really such a thing? I don't think so; otherwise my friends would make money there instead of always losing "breaking even." ("I paid for my trip.")

But the term is useful, I think, to describe my method for choosing this week's Game of the Week. As readers of this blog know, I like to attend the Best Game Between the Best Teams. But how do you decide when you have a lineup like this?

Lake Zurich (8-0) at Stevenson (6-2);
Loyola (8-0) at St. Rita (7-1); and
Glenbard North (7-1) at Wheaton North (7-1).

Simple; just look for the hot table.

What does that mean in this context? Well, Lake Zurich is undefeated, of course, and Stevenson hasn't lost a game since Week Two. What's more, the Patriots defeated Lake Forest (6-2) last week, 20-6. But the Bears haven't beaten a winning team since Week Five when they bested, yep, Lake Forest, 21-10. Is this the hot table? I'm not sure.

(Stevenson is the only one of the six schools that I haven't seen this year. But, at 7-2 or 6-3, they will definitely be one of my teams to watch in Round One of the playoffs.)

What about Loyola and St. Rita? Again, the Ramblers are undefeated, but haven't had a "big" victory since Week Six, when they beat Mount Carmel (7-1) at home. And, last week, Loyola defeated Lake Forest Academy (3-5) without five starters, including quarterback Jack Penn. That doesn't sound like a hot team to me.

And Rita? They just got past Brother Rice (3-5) last week, 38-35. More important, before the game I saw some tweets about quarterback Tommy Mister not playing. He did, of course, but it makes me wonder: Is he at 100 percent? Because if not, the Mustangs don't have a chance.

So that leaves Glenbard North at Wheaton North. I was at the game last year in which the Panthers won, 17-15, on a thrilling last-second field goal by Hector Ortiz. That was for the DuPage Valley Conference title; so will this Friday night's game. GBN went on to play Mount Carmel in the 8A final in Champaign. Are they headed to the championship again?

Glenbard North, as you can see below, hasn't lost a game since Week One (home team in CAPS). In the last couple of weeks the Panthers have defeated two really good teams, Naperville Central and Wheaton Warrenville South. And Justin Jackson, as I'm sure you know, has been putting up some really good numbers.

BATAVIA 29, Glenbard North 26
GLENBARD NORTH 35, Carmel 14
GLENBARD NORTH 37, Naperville North 28
GLENBARD NORTH 41, Lake Park 12
Glenbard North 40, GLENBARD EAST 0
GLENBARD NORTH 34, Aurora West 13
Glenbard North 40, NAPERVILLE CENTRAL 34
GLENBARD NORTH 37, Wheaton Warrenville South 21

The Falcons, for their part, haven't lost a game since Week Three and are coming off a big win over Naperville Central. Quarterback Clayton Thorson had a great game and is really starting to hit his stride. Finally, both he and Jackson have committed to Northwestern next year. So this could be the last chance you get to see them play against each other (until the NFL). (By the way, how did NU coach Pat Fitzgerald land both of these guys? Good job!)

Here's a rundown on the Falcons' season so far:

WHEATON NORTH 42, Cary-Grove 18
Wheaton North 40, GENEVA 27
WHEATON WARRENVILLE SOUTH 17, Wheaton North 13
WHEATON NORTH 31, Naperville North 13
Wheaton North 42, LAKE PARK 17
WHEATON NORTH 52, Glenbard East 7
Wheaton North 48, AURORA WEST 7
WHEATON NORTH 31, Naperville Central 17

So how have the two schools performed against each other in recent years? (I have to admit I was surprised at how much GBN has dominated Wheaton North.)

2012: GLENBARD NORTH 17, Wheaton North 15
2011: WHEATON NORTH 27, Glenbard North 17
2010: GLENBARD NORTH 17, Wheaton North 14
2009: Glenbard North 32, WHEATON NORTH 0
2008: GLENBARD NORTH 35, Wheaton North 14
2007: Glenbard North 36, WHEATON NORTH 13
2006: GLENBARD NORTH 29, Wheaton North 26
2005: Glenbard North 30, WHEATON NORTH 14
2004: GLENBARD NORTH 43, Wheaton North 7

But the bottom line is this: Two excellent teams are facing off against each other with the conference title at stake. GBN has arguably the best running back in the state; North has arguably the best quarterback. And both teams are on a roll. Sounds like the hot table to me!

P. S. As always, I'll be live tweeting the game @BoringOldWhtGuy.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey...

...might just as well end his bid for president in 2016 after this article in the Times this morning, "As Gays Wed in New Jersey, Christie Ends Court Fight" (my emphasis):

As couples across New Jersey began marrying on Monday after the stroke of midnight, Gov. Chris Christie abandoned his long fight against same-sex marriage, concluding that signals from the court and the march of history were against him.

His decision not to appeal a judge’s ruling that allowed the weddings removed the last hurdle to legalized same-sex marriage in New Jersey, making it the 14th state, along with the District of Columbia, to allow gay couples to wed.

What? He gave up?

The Republican nominee in 2016 will be just as opposed to same-sex marriage as the tea party is to the Affordable Care Act. In other words: No surrender -- ever. You can take that to the bank.

The piece goes on to say:

Politically, members of his staff bet that they could contain the damage by arguing that the governor had never changed his mind — he still opposes same-sex marriage — and blaming activist judges, which even critics of the governor’s decision began doing on Monday.
 
“He looks realistic, while sticking to his principles — and people are happy,” said one adviser who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss strategy.
 
So even if by some outside chance the Republicans decide to go with another "moderate" in 2016, Christie will never win the general election with that position. The next president will be a strong supporter of same-sex marriage. Period. You can take that to the bank, too. 

Last year, during Week Six, I was...

...faced with a choice: Loyola (4-1) at Mt. Carmel (5-0) or Bolingbrook (5-0) at Lincoln-Way East (5-0). Arguably, the two Games of the Year were being played on the same night.

So what was a high school football junkie like me to do? There was a lot to consider.

Loyola, the defending 8A runner-up, was traveling down to Gately to take on its undefeated Catholic League Blue rival, Mount Carmel. Bolingbrook, the defending 8A champ, would be visiting Frankfort to avenge its lone defeat at the hands of the Griffins during the previous season. Mount Carmel, in turn, had been eliminated from the playoffs in 2011 by, yes, Bolingbrook. And Lincoln-Way East had been unbeaten in the previous year's regular season. There were a lot of cross-currents going on.

But, fortunately for me (or not), a deus ex machina appeared: the Loyola - Mount Carmel game would be televised! I would simply have to record it and then beg all of my friends and relatives not to disclose the outcome until after I had had a chance to see it. Brilliant! (Although, I have to admit, when asked not to reveal the result most people would look at me as if to say, "What on earth are you talking about?")

I was reminded of this on the second play of the Wheaton Warrenville South - Glenbard North game on Friday night. As you may recall, I struggled with my decision to attend this match-up rather than the Kaneland - Sycamore contest right up to the last minute. (Did I make the right choice? More on that in a sec.)

But first, a flashback: On the second play from scrimmage in that Bolingbrook - Lincoln-Way East game, Aaron Bailey, the star quarterback for the Raiders, left the game with an injured MCL. My biggest reason for attending the game was now on the bench. Great, I thought. But the universe took pity on me that night: I was treated, instead, to a show by the second-best quarterback in the state, the Griffins' Tom Fuessel. It was more than worth it.

(Lincoln-Way East went on to win, 42-18. And that other game? Loyola defeated Mount Carmel, 30-27, in overtime. But I got to watch it on TV, remember?)

Now back to that second play on Friday night: Glenbard North's star running back (and the main reason I chose this game), Justin Jackson, tackled a Wheaton South receiver so hard it knocked the wind out of him (Jackson, not the receiver). For a few tense moments I thought the Northwestern commit might have to leave the game. Great, I thought. But Jackson, as I said, only had the wind knocked out of him and returned to carry the ball 41 times for 349 yards and three touchdowns in only three quarters. Wow.

So was it worth it to finally see the best running back in the state run all over a defense that had previously allowed fewer than 11 points a game? Yes, but.

But, what?, you're probably thinking.

Well, in hindsight, I kind of wish I'd made the trek out to Sycamore to see the Spartans end Kaneland's 35-game regular-season winning streak. It's exciting when undefeated teams get beat.

Earlier in the week I had read Rick Armstrong's excellent piece in the Sun-Times and felt better about not going -- I hadn't realized Kaneland's star running back, Jesse Balluff, was out for the season with a knee injury. And when I saw later on Twitter that Sycamore quarterback Devin Mottet left in the second quarter with a shoulder injury I really thought I had picked the right game.

But, as it turned out, Wheaton South's star running back Isaiah Campos was also out with an injury and the Tigers were just not the same team I had seen against Wheaton North and Naperville Central. Glenbard North, as I'm sure you know, totally dominated the contest en route to a 37-21 victory. In Sycamore, meanwhile, the Spartans came from behind to defeat Kaneland, 31-21. It was the better game.

(And even though I like to watch the Best Game Between the Best Teams, I also like to see new schools and visit stadiums I've never been before. Bottom line: go to the game you want, not the game you think you should.)

But I did get to finally see Jackson and Glenbard North this year. And I wouldn't be at all surprised to see them go as deep in the playoffs as last year. Also, as an added bonus, I got to watch a 5'4", 158-pound freshman named Victor Tricase run 76 yards for a touchdown. That was pretty cool. (Anybody remember Paul Preston from Maine South a few years ago?) Oh, and one last thing: I also got a sneak peek at Wheaton South's likely quarterback for next year, junior Josh Prueter, who came in for the fourth quarter and did a really good job.

So what game is on for this week? Lake Zurich at Stevenson? Loyola at St. Rita? Or Glenbard North (again) at Wheaton North? I'll give you a hint: When my gambler friends go to Las Vegas they always look for the hot table.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Where are they now?

...Remember Kapri Bibbs, the running back from Plainfield North? In Saturday's game against Wyoming, the Colorado State sophomore:

...finished with career-bests of 29 carries and 201 yards, the first CSU running back to bolt past 200 yards in a game since Chris Nwoke rushed for 269 yards against Air Force in 2011.

It marked the second 100-yard game of the sophomore's career and his second three-touchdown game this season. He now has nine rushing touchdowns, matching what Nwoke did in 2011.
 
And there's still six games remaining. Bibbs has 630 yards on the season to lead Colorado State and he's still only started one game.
 
"He's a player. He's a playmaker," CSU senior center Weston Richburg said. "As long as we open up holes for him, he's going to find them and be able to get big runs for us. It was awesome to see him do that."

The New Yorker cartoon of the day:

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Glenbard North joins my rankings...

...after Week Eight while Niles North and Bartlett both exit after becoming ineligible for the postseason. I've now seen 26 different teams in 16 games.

My Game of the Week will be selected from one of the following:

Lake Zurich (8-0) at Stevenson (6-2);
Loyola (8-0) at St. Rita (7-1); or
Glenbard North (7-1) at Wheaton North (7-1)

In the meantime, here are the 24 teams I've seen that are still playoff-eligible. (Each team's individual rank after its name is in the following order: Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times and MaxPreps. You can click on each of those links to see their entire rankings.)

1. Loyola (8-0); Trib No. 1, Sun-Times No. 1, MaxPreps No. 3.

The Ramblers remain on top after beating Lake Forest Academy (3-5). This week brings the big finale at St. Rita (7-1).

2. Glenbard North (7-1); Trib No. 7, Sun-Times No. 7, MaxPreps No. 8.

Running back Justin Jackson put on quite a show Friday night as he rushed for 349 yards and scored three touchdowns in only three quarters against a strong Wheaton Warrenville South (6-2) defense. This week's match-up against Wheaton North (7-1) could be every bit as good as last year's when the Panthers edged the Falcons, 17-15.

3. Bolingbrook (8-0); Trib No. 6, Sun-Times No. 6, MaxPreps No. 14.

The Brook beat rival Lincoln-Way East (6-2) and have to get past Sandburg (5-3) to finish undefeated. Could I have ranked the Raiders No. 2 or even No. 1? Absolutely.

4. Homewood-Flossmoor (7-1); Trib No. 8, Sun-Times No. 8, MaxPreps No. 17.

The Vikings defeated Lockport (2-6) and should beat Stagg (4-4) this week. If so, H-F could be in for a rematch with Bolingbrook.

5. Mount Carmel (7-1); Trib No. 2, Sun-Times No. 2, MaxPreps No. 5.

The Caravan shut out Providence (4-4) without star running back Matt Domer. Carmel should cruise past Leo (7-1) this week and enter the postseason at 8-1.

6. Wheaton North (7-1); Trib No. 12, Sun-Times No. 11, MaxPreps No. 9.

The Falcons handled Naperville Central (5-3) with ease and now host Glenbard North (7-1). The contest will determine the winner of the DuPage Valley Conference.

7. Lake Zurich (8-0); Trib No. 3, Sun-Times No. 3, MaxPreps No. 6.

The Bears eliminated Libertyville (3-5) from the postseason and now travel to Stevenson (6-2) in what should be a good test (and harbinger) for both teams.

8. St. Rita (7-1); Trib No. 9, Sun-Times No. 9, MaxPreps No. 10.

The Mustangs struggled to get past Brother Rice (3-5). Will home-field advantage be enough to upset Loyola (8-0) this week? Quarterback Tommy Mister will have to be at the top of his game.

9. Neuqua Valley (7-1) Trib No. 11, Sun-Times No. 12, MaxPreps No. 33.

The Wildcats beat West Chicago (0-8) and now face Bartlett (3-5). I have Neuqua ranked higher than Naperville Central, who defeated them in a head-to-head contest. And that begs the question: Are rankings supposed to be for the whole season or just a snapshot?

10. Warren (6-2); MaxPreps No. 39.

The Blue Devils defeated Mundelein (1-7) and now travel to Lake Forest (6-2). If you're in the neighborhood, this should be a good game.

11. Marist (5-3); Sun-Times 21, MaxPreps No. 18.

The RedHawks redeemed their loss to Notre Dame (6-2) in Week Seven by upsetting Benet (6-2). Marist should defeat Moline (1-7) this week and enter the playoffs at a respectable 6-3.

12. Wheaton Warrenville South (6-2); Tribune No. 16, Sun-Times No. 14, MaxPreps No. 7.

The Tigers were a completely different team without running back Isaiah Campos. Wheaton South should bounce back against Glenbard East (2-6) this week but will need to be at full strength for the playoffs.

13. Naperville Central (5-3); Sun-Times No. 17, MaxPreps No. 22.

The Redhawks dropped their third game in a row, to Wheaton North (7-1). If Central can regroup against crosstown rival Naperville North (5-3) they can also enter the postseason at a respectable 6-3.

14. Benet (6-2); Trib No. 17, Sun-Times No. 22, MaxPreps No. 27.

The Redwings are another team that needs to turn things around before the playoffs. That could be hard to do against Joliet Catholic (7-1), though, even at home. Look for Benet to finish the regular season at 6-3.

15. Notre Dame (6-2); MaxPreps No. 25.

The Dons are still another school that badly needs a win this week. Fortunately, the Niles squad faces Carmel (1-7). Phew!

16. Providence (4-4); Sun-Times No. 22, MaxPreps No. 29.

The Celtics fell to Mount Carmel (7-1) and now have to defeat Brother Rice (3-5) for a playoff bid. I'll say Providence makes it and is a dangerous 5-4 team in the first round.

17. Fenwick (7-1); MaxPreps No. 35.

The Friars had no trouble with De La Salle (5-3) and should have even less with St. Laurence (4-4). At 8-1, Fenwick should draw a good seed for the playoffs.

18. St. Patrick (5-3); MaxPreps No. 53.

The Shamrocks barely got past Carmel (1-7) and now travel to St. Viator (5-3). This should be a good test for both squads.

19. De La Salle (5-3); MaxPreps No. 89.

The Meteors were shut out for the second week in a row, this time at the hands of Fenwick (7-1). De La Salle now travels to Bishop McNamara (5-3) for a game that will leave the winner at 6-3 and the loser at 5-4; that could mean a much different first-round opponent.

20. Niles West (6-2); MaxPreps No. 125.

The Wolves lost their second game in a row, to New Trier (4-4). Can they salvage a 7-2 season against Glenbrook South (6-2) on the road? I'll say no.

21. Phillips (5-3); MaxPreps No. 204.

The Wildcats appear to have finished their regular season by beating Westinghouse (0-7). Do some CPS teams only play eight games?

22. Crete-Monee (7-1); Trib No. 19, Sun-Times No. 22, MaxPreps No. 46.

The Warriors beat Rich South (1-7) but now have to travel to undefeated Rich Central (8-0). That could be a heck of a game!

Smaller schools:

1. IC Catholic Prep (5-3); MaxPreps No. 68.

The Knights beat Walther Lutheran (2-6) and should improve to 6-3 against Chicago Christian (2-6) this week.

2. Aurora Central Catholic (6-2); MaxPreps No. 135.

The Chargers upset Marmion (6-2) but now have to host Montini (8-0). Oh, well; 6-3 is a good finish.

Friday, October 18, 2013

The playoffs are coming! The...

...playoffs are coming! (That's my neighbor, Dick, in the red cap.)

In only two short weeks the postseason will begin. While I used to complain about the first round (too many 9-0 and 8-1 schools playing 5-4 teams that, let's face it, don't belong in the playoffs), I now see it as an opportunity to watch all those 7-2 and 6-3 squads that I didn't get to in the regular season. So, after attending Wheaton Warrenville South at Glenbard North tonight and (probably) Loyola at St. Rita next Friday, whom will I be looking forward to seeing in Round One of the playoffs?

Starting with 8A, I'd like to catch up on Oak Park River Forest (6-1) and Purdue-bound wide receiver Simmie Cobbs. Also, there's Maine South and Stevenson, arguably the two best 5-2 teams in the state.

In 7A, I'd like to see defending champ Glenbard West (6-1), of course; Lincoln-Way East (6-1), depending on how well they play against Bolingbrook tonight; Jacobs (5-2), led by long-time Stevenson coach Bill MitzWillowbrook (5-2) and quarterback Brian Johnson, who threw for a state record 675 yards in Week Two against Lyons; and Andrew (4-3), with Western Michigan-bound running back Jarvion Franklin.

In 6A there's Marmion (6-1), who lost only to undefeated powerhouse Montini; Richards (6-1), who lost only to Evergreen Park (7-0); Lake Forest (6-1), depending on how well they do tonight against Stevenson; Batavia (6-1), which handed Glenbard North its only regular-season loss for two years in a row; and Lincoln-Way North (6-1), with Illinois-bound running back Julian Hylton.

Finally, in 5A (that's as far down as I'll go), I'd still like to see Joliet Catholic (6-1) and running back Mike Ivlow; Lincoln-Way West (6-1), which knocked off previously unbeaten Lincoln-Way North; and, last but hardly least, Nazareth (5-2), which handed both 8A Notre Dame (6-1) and 7A Benet (6-1) their first losses of the season -- wow!

Should be a great postseason. And I'll be live tweeting the games @BoringOldWhtGuy.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post...

...lists Barry Black, the chaplain of the U. S. Senate, as one of the winners of the government shutdown:

Admit it, you had NO idea the name of the Senate chaplain before all of this started. Now Black – thanks to his prayers at the opening of each Senate session — is a minor celebrity. Heck, Harry Reid praised Black as a "voice of stability, a voice of inspiration" before he announced the shutdown/debt-ceiling deal Wednesday.

I have to admit, until I read Cillizza's piece this morning I had still never heard of Barry Black. I would have guessed that "Barry Black" was the tea party's nickname for President Obama.

My son has been asking me...

...to write something about Breaking Bad, now that I'm finally finished watching it, but I really don't have enough to say to fill a whole post. (I'm not very opinionated.)

But I guess I do have a few preliminary thoughts (spoiler alert!):

First of all, there's the joke that Breaking Bad was one big, long advertisement for the Affordable Care Act. And it's true; this series couldn't have taken place in any other developed country.

(Season One, episode one): Walter White, a high school chemistry teacher in Canada France Norway Germany Switzerland Singapore Japan Australia, is diagnosed with lung cancer. Everyone in the family is very upset.

(Season One, episode two): Walt seeks medical help and is either cured or dies. End of series.

Second, two of the most clever scenes that immediately come to mind are from Season 3, episode 6, "Sunset," above, and Season 5, episode 11, "Confessions."

In the first:

At a junkyard, Walt discusses the demolition of the RV with the junkyard owner, who assures Walt it will be destroyed and recycled into patio furniture. Walt is alone in the RV when Jesse barges in. Seconds later, Hank drives up. "You led him right to us," says Walt.

Hank pounds the RV's door. "Last chance to do it the easy way," he tells Jesse. Walt strains to hold the door shut as Hank tries to pry it open with a crowbar.

"Got a warrant?" the junkyard owner, Old Joe,* asks Hank. "I don't need one if I've got probable cause, counselor," Hank replies. The owner and Hank spar over whether the RV is a vehicle or a domicile. If the latter, its residents would be constitutionally protected against unlawful search and seizure.

Hank rips some duct tape off the door, revealing bullet holes from Walt's confrontation with Emilio and Krazy-8. "There was a firearm discharged inside of this domicile," Hank says.

Walt orders Jesse to reply, "How could you have known that they were there before you took off the tape?" and Jesse complies. "This is my own private domicile," Jesse continues, "and I will not be harassed... bitch!" Hank heads to his car and calls ASAC Merkert to obtain a warrant.

Walt, meanwhile, makes his own call.

Minutes later, Hank's cell phone rings. A woman identifying herself as an Albuquerque police officer informs him that Marie has had a car accident and is being airlifted to a hospital. Hank leaps into his SUV and drives off.

At the law office, Saul's secretary Francesca hangs up the phone, telling her boss, "You're gonna have to start paying me more."

Hank rushes into the hospital looking for Marie. Through his panic, he finally realizes his cell phone is ringing. It's Marie, checking in to make plans for dinner. Hank realizes he was tricked.

Back at the junkyard, a forklift rips apart the RV and loads it into a crusher.

In the second:

Walt sits in front of a video camera in his bedroom and takes a deep breath. Wary Skyler presses record. "My name is Walter Hartwell White," he says. "This is my confession."

Skyler and Walt meet Hank and Marie at a restaurant. Without admitting anything, Walt asks Hank to back off, saying an investigation would devastate Junior. "Why tear this family apart?" he pleads.

"Just kill yourself," Marie proposes calmly. Skyler and Hank both balk at this calloused suggestion. Hank insists that Walt's only course of action is to admit his guilt. With nothing left to be discussed, Walt places a DVD on the table and leaves with Skyler.

Back at home, Marie and Hank watch the DVD, in which Walt spins an elaborate story pinning Hank and Gus as the masterminds behind the blue meth empire. He claims Hank forced him to cook meth and held his kids hostage for three months to prevent Walt from talking to the police. Walt also reveals that he paid over $177,000 for Hank's medical bills after Gus tried to have him killed.

Marie insists Hank show the video to the DEA, claiming no one will believe it. He considers, but admits that there's one part of Walt's story that confuses him: the very specific figure of $177,000. Marie deflates, and confirms that Walt did pay for some of Hank's medical bills — it was the only way they could afford the treatment he needed.

"That's the last nail in the coffin," Hank laments, knowing he and Marie look irrefutably complicit now.

Finally, there's the whole subject of free will. Huh?

Consider this: the whole show hinges on a series of choices. (Doesn't everything?) With Walt, once he finds out he has cancer he has a choice: to fight it or not? Once he decides to fight it, should he use his own insurance or take a job with Gray Matter or just charity from the Schwartzes? Each decision led to different outcomes. With Skyler, she chose not to take her divorce lawyer's advice and turn in Walt. Jesse and Hank had a similar set of decisions which effected their lives.

But did any of these characters really have choices, or were they constrained by their own personalities and circumstances? Take Hank, for example. Is it really conceivable that he could have ever quit chasing "Heisenberg"? Wasn't he a little like Javert in Les Miserables? Wasn't he compelled to make the choices he made? (Aren't we all?)

Oh, well; those are some of my initial reactions to Breaking Bad. It was a really good show; right up there with The Sopranos. Check it out.

* P. S. Did you notice that the actor, Larry Hankin, who played Old Joe also played Kramer in Seinfeld, "The Pilot," Part One? (Hankin actually auditioned for the role of Kramer when Seinfeld began production.)

The Associated Press came out...

...with its rankings according to class yesterday and you can see them here.

Before I get to my own, though, it's worth noting all the undefeated schools that went down last weekend. I saw three previously unbeaten teams play: Bolingbrook, Homewood-Flossmoor and Fenwick. The last two are now 6-1.

Others that lost in Week Seven include Niles West, Benet, Dunbar, Lincoln-Way North and Limestone.

So that leaves only two undefeated teams in 8A, Bolingbrook and Loyola, above. While the Raiders have a tough game against Lincoln-Way East (6-1) at home, the Ramblers host Lake Forest Academy (3-4). Might Loyola be the last undefeated team in 8A? (They still have to play at 6-1 St. Rita in Week Nine.)

In 7A, Lake Zurich, Schaumburg, Edwardsville and Whitney Young remain unbeaten. The Bears travel to Libertyville (3-4), the Saxons are at Fremd (5-2), the Tigers host Granite City (2-5) and the Dolphins (Dolphins?) will be at Mather (2-5). So, really, the only one of these schools in danger of losing is Schaumburg.

There are three 7-0 teams in 6A: Rock Island, Boylan and Rich Central. The Rocks are at Moline (1-6), the Titans travel to Belvidere North (4-3) and the Olympians play at Kankakee (3-4). Any upsets here? I doubt it.

And in 5A, Sycamore, Montini, Kaneland, Washington, Highland, University and Glenbard South are all an unblemished 7-0.

After this weekend, however, there will be at least one less undefeated team as Kaneland travels to Sycamore. (Can't believe I won't be there!)

Other than that, Montini should defeat a bruised and battered Aurora Christian (5-2), Highland is at Mascoutah (2-5) and Glenbard South plays at Ridgewood (2-5).

But Washington will host Metamora (4-3) while University plays at home against 4A Mahomet-Seymour (7-0). Whaddaya think, will one of those two unbeaten 5A squads go down?

(There are still eight undefeated teams in 4A, four in 3A, eleven in 2A and six in 1A.)

Meanwhile, I'll be at Wheaton Warrenville South at Glenbard North tomorrow night.

Don't like my choice? Well, if you live up north there's always Stevenson (5-2) at Lake Forest (6-1).

Out west you can watch Naperville Central (5-2) at Wheaton North (6-1) or Kaneland (7-0) at Sycamore (7-0) way out west.

There's Lincoln-Way East (6-1) at Bolingbrook (7-0) for those of you who live southwest.

And if you want to drive south, there's (in order of distance from State and Madison):

Fenwick (6-1) at De La Salle (5-2),
Providence (4-3) at Mount Carmel (6-1),
Benet (6-1) at Marist (4-3),
Bishop McNamara (4-3) at Leo (7-0),
Notre Dame (6-1) at Joliet Catholic (6-1),
Mahomet-Seymour (7-0) at University (7-0), or
Sacred Heart-Griffin (6-1) at Glenwood (6-1).

And on Saturday there's Montini (7-0) at Aurora Christian (5-2), but I doubt I'll drive all that way for a bloodbath.

Finally, here's how I would rate the 25 teams I've seen in 2013 by class (with its AP ranking):

8A

1. Loyola (7-0) AP No. 1
2. Bolingbrook (7-0) No. 2
3. Homewood-Flossmoor (6-1) No. 4
4. Naperville Central (5-2) No. 7
5. Notre Dame (6-1) No. 10
6. Neuqua Valley (6-1) No. 3
7. Warren (5-2) N/R
8. Marist (4-3) N/R
9. Niles West (6-1) N/R
10. Bartlett (3-4) N/R

7A

1. Wheaton Warrenville South (6-1) AP No. 5
2. Mount Carmel (6-1) No. 2
3. Lake Zurich (7-0) No. 1
4. St. Rita (6-1) No. 8
5. Benet (6-1) N/R
6. Wheaton North (6-1) No. 6
7. Fenwick (6-1) N/R
8. Niles North (3-4) N/R

6A

1. Providence (4-3) AP No. 10
2. De La Salle (5-2) N/R
3. St. Patrick (4-3) N/R
4. Crete-Monee (6-1) No. 3

4A

1. Phillips (4-3) N/R

3A

1. IC Prep (4-3) N/R
2. Aurora Central (5-2) N/R

Enjoy the games!

The New Yorker cartoon of the day:

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Is it just me, or...

...did the last scene of Breaking Bad remind you of the ending to Inglourious Basterds?

There was no fire, but a bunch of Nazis (or neo-Nazis) got machine-gunned to death. I wonder what Quentin Tarantino thought of the series.

Kumar Pallana, who appeared...

...in The Royal Tenenbaums, among other films, died at age 94.

My Game of the Week...

...will be on Friday when Wheaton Warrenville South (6-1) travels to Glenbard North (6-1).

Last year, in Week Nine, I had a dilemma: Should I see the 8A game between two 7-1 teams, Schaumburg and Palatine, or the 5A matchup between two undefeated schools, Morris and Kaneland? Since my motto has always been The Best Game Between the Best Teams I leaned toward the 8A contest. After all, 8A is better football, right? Besides, Kaneland, which is in Maple Grove, is a long way from my house; Palatine is not. But ... Morris and Kaneland were both undefeated and it's a big rivalry. And I was curious: what's it like out there?

I ended up going to the game I wanted to attend, not the one I thought I should attend. Kaneland beat Morris, 33-30, in a nail-biter and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. And that other game? Yawn. Palatine won in a walk, 51-18. Clearly, I made the right decision.

This week I'm faced with a similar choice: Should I go to the 7A/8A game between two 6-1 teams, Wheaton Warrenville South and Glenbard North, or the 5A matchup between two undefeated schools, Kaneland and Sycamore? Since my motto has always been The Best Game Between the Best Teams I lean toward the first contest. After all, 7A/8A is better football, right? Besides, Sycamore is a long way from my house (farther even than Maple Grove!); Carol Stream is much closer. But ... Kaneland and Sycamore are both undefeated and fighting for the conference title. It could be a great game. And I'm curious: what's it like out there?

Now, if someone asked me, Should I go to the game I want to attend or to the game I think I should attend, I'd quickly say: Go to the game you want to attend.

So which one will I see? The one I think I should attend, Wheaton Warrenville South at Glenbard North. Why? Well, mostly to see GBN's Justin Jackson, above. As I'm sure you know, the Northwestern-bound running back rushed for 405 yards and scored five touchdowns last week against a high-quality opponent, Naperville Central. Not only did he break the DuPage Valley Conference single-game rushing record (he held the old one, too), but Jackson also played the whole game on defense. Amazing.

So Friday's game will feature Jackson and two schools that are highly-ranked in all the polls and vying for the conference title. What's more, I haven't seen Jackson all year. Shame on me! (In my defense, though, I did go out to Batavia in Week One but the game was postponed due to lightning.)

And that other game out in Sycamore? I'll bet it will be great. I wish I could be there.

So why am I going to watch the game I think I should instead of the one I want to see? Because the universe is messy and rules of thumb don't always work out. What turned out to be the right decision last year may not be the right one this year. We'll see.

Besides, my gut is telling me to go to this game. And another good rule of thumb is to trust your gut.

In the meantime, here's Wheaton Warrenville South's record so far (home team in CAPS):

WHEATON SOUTH 17, Glenbard West 14
Wheaton South 28 MAINE SOUTH 13
WHEATON SOUTH 17 Wheaton North 13
WHEATON SOUTH 42 Aurora West 7
NAPERVILLE NORTH 21, Wheaton South 14
WHEATON SOUTH 14 Naperville Central 7
WHEATON SOUTH 28 Lake Park 0

And here's the Panthers':

BATAVIA 29, Glenbard North 26
GLENBARD NORTH 35, Carmel 14
GLENBARD NORTH 37, Naperville North 28
GLENBARD NORTH 41, Lake Park 12
Glenbard North 40, GLENBARD EAST 0
GLENBARD NORTH 34, Aurora West 13
Glenbard North 40, NAPERVILLE CENTRAL 34

How have they done against each other in recent years? Before 2012 it was all Wheaton South:

2012: Glenbard North 27, WHEATON SOUTH 21
2011: Wheaton South 13, GLENBARD NORTH 7
2010: WHEATON SOUTH 49, Glenbard North 6
2009: Wheaton South 35, GLENBARD NORTH 7
2008: WHEATON SOUTH 16, Glenbard North 14
2007: Wheaton South 13, GLENBARD NORTH 7
2006: WHEATON SOUTH 34, Glenbard North 7
2005: Wheaton South 48, GLENBARD NORTH 17
2004: Wheaton South 6, GLENBARD NORTH 3

Who do I think will win? Even though Tiger coach Ron Muhitch is a football genius, I have to go with Jackson and the home team.

And, of course, I'll be live tweeting it @BoringOldWhtGuy.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

I just finished watching...

...Breaking Bad and, I have to tell you, there's one scene in particular in the last episode that just wasn't plausible. I mean, come on, Charlie Rose getting aggressive and asking his guests a tough and uncomfortable question? I'm sorry, but that would never happen in real life.

The rest of the series is really good, though.

Mark Read, a notorious...

...Australian criminal, died at age 58. From his obit in the Times:

Mr. Read’s record included holdups, stabbings, shootings and a 1978 kidnapping attempt, in which he jammed a sawed-off shotgun into a judge’s mouth and demanded the release of a friend in prison. He was incarcerated for 23 of his first 40 years and released for the last time in 1998.
 
Then there were the crimes Mr. Read claimed he committed but got away with.
 
In his first book, “Chopper: From the Inside,” a memoir published in 1991 with the help of two Australian journalists, Mr. Read described himself as “a human disposal expert” who killed 19 fellow criminals, and tortured uncounted others with his signature tool, bolt cutters, applying it to victims’ toes one at a time until his demands were met.
 
Was Mr. Read ever repentant? Not exactly:
 
A believer in God, Mr. Read was asked in an interview what he expected would happen when he finally met his maker. “I think, if anything, I’m owed an apology,” he said. “I don’t think he was very fair with me.”