Friday, October 31, 2014

The New Yorker cartoon of the day:

“When the game warden isn’t looking, plant this little gun on the duck.”

South Laflin Street.

Has Fenwick ever played Highland Park... football? Not in the last ten years; maybe never.

Think about that for a second: Highland Park High School has been around since 1886 and Fenwick since 1929, and yet the two schools, which are only 26 miles apart (the distance of a marathon), have never met on the gridiron (as far as I know).

But that's all going to change tomorrow night when the No. 2-seed (and undefeated) Giants (9-0) host the No. 15-seed Friars (5-4) in the first round of the 7A playoffs.

(Full disclosure: my dad was a 1937 graduate -- somehow -- of Fenwick High School.)

Named after Bishop Edward D. Fenwick of Cincinnati, the school's Wikipedia page says:

Fenwick was originally intended to be a prep school for matriculation to the University of Notre Dame in the Midwest and Georgetown University on the East Coast, similar to Phillips Academy Andover's matriculation to Yale, Portsmouth Abbey School's matriculation to Fordham University and Boston College and Phillips Exeter Academy's matriculation to Harvard.

And all I can say is, who in the heck wrote that?

Such a pretentious paragraph would certainly be news to my dad (whose father didn't even attend high school), my uncles and several of my cousins who graduated from the Oak Park school.

But a certain governor of Illinois, who is currently running for reelection (and fighting for his political life!), is also an alumnus of Fenwick (Class of '67). That's him, above, at "Colby Burnett Day" a couple of years ago. Mr. Burnett, whom I originally thought was a student at Fenwick, was actually a 29-year-old teacher who won over $250,000 playing Jeopardy! in 2012. (Boy, am I getting old!)

As for the football team (oh yeah, that), the Friars played seven winning teams this year, besting Carmel (6-3), DePaul (5-4) and Marmion (6-3), while falling to Bishop Lynch of Dallas, TX (5-4), Loyola (7-2), Montini (6-3) and St. Francis (7-2). Coach Gene Nudo's squad is ranked No. 63 in MaxPreps, right behind Glenbard North (4-5), which didn't even make the playoffs.

(By the way, I interviewed Coach Nudo for the Oak Leaves last winter. He's a really nice man; you can read it here.)

In the meantime, here's Fenwick's 2014 schedule (with home team in CAPS):

Fenwick 31, CARMEL 20
Bishop Lynch 35, FENWICK 32
FENWICK 35, DeLaSalle 30
LOYOLA 42, Fenwick 0
FENWICK 31, DePaul 0
Fenwick 49, MARMION 13
FENWICK 17, St. Ignatius 9
MONTINI 24, Fenwick 7
St. Francis 21, FENWICK 14

Fenwick's opponent, the eponymous Highland Park High School, was originally named Deerfield Township High School. In 1900 it moved to its current location and was renamed Deerfield Shields High School, after James H. Shields, a community leader in educational affairs. In 1904, Lake Forest High School merged with Deerfield Shields, but in 1936, Lake Forest built its own high school and Deerfield Shields High School was renamed Highland Park High School. Got all that?

Now while Highland Park is the alma mater of many distinguished graduates, such as actor Gary Sinise, CIA Director Stansfield Turner and Jill Leiderman, the executive producer of Jimmy Kimmel Live, the town has also been used for location shots in several movies written and directed by John Hughes in the 1980s, including Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Weird Science, Sixteen Candles, Uncle Buck and Home Alone. (That's Cameron Frye's house on Beach Street from Ferris Bueller, above.)

But let's talk about this year's football team, the first undefeated Highland Park squad since 1921. The Giants, ranked No. 86 by MaxPreps (behind Marist, another 4-5 school that didn't make the postseason), get no respect from the Chicago newspapers. (Not even an "On the verge" in the Trib!)

How can that be? Well, maybe it has something to do with their schedule; the North Shore school played only one winning team this year, Niles North (5-4). (The No. 16-seed Vikings will face the unbeaten No. 1-seed Cary-Grove (9-0) tomorrow in what could be the weekend's biggest mismatch.) But the Giants did manage to beat everyone they faced this year, and as we used to say on the Merc floor, that's not nothing. Here's their full schedule:

HIGHLAND PARK 41, Lake Forest Academy 10
Highland Park 38, MUNDELEIN 21
Highland Park 24, EVANSTON 7
HIGHLAND PARK 28, Waukegan 7
Highland Park 17, DEERFIELD 14
Highland Park 42, MAINE WEST 0
HIGHLAND PARK 63, Maine East 0
HIGHLAND PARK 34, Niles North 14
Highland Park 34, GLENBROOK NORTH 33

Who do I like tomorrow night? Just as Pat Quinn may pull it out next Tuesday, his alma mater could hand the Giants their first defeat of the season, a la Brockton (MA) way back in 1921. Highland Park's weak schedule is a concern, while Fenwick's prepared them well for the postseason. And Coach Nudo is a wily competitor who could bring the Friars all the way to a Round Three matchup with -- uh, oh! -- Cary-Grove. (But, who knows, maybe the Oak Parkers will give the Trojans a scare just like they did with that 22-21 loss to Rockford Boylan back in 2012. I'm still kicking myself for missing that game!)

Either way, the forecast for tomorrow night in Highland Park is chilly -- but clear (unlike tonight!). You can follow me on Twitter @BoringOldWhtGuy for all the latest updates.

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Tom Toles cartoon of the day:

I'll concede that the outlook...

...for the Democrats' holding the Senate next Tuesday looks bleak. But according to Nate Silver, the Republicans are going to have to sweat a little (my emphasis):

Our model estimates that while Republicans have a 64 percent chance of winning the Senate eventually, there’s only a 27 percent chance they’ll be able to claim their victory within the first 24 hours or so after polls close on Nov 4. Democrats are even less likely to win a quick victory — they have just a 12 percent chance.

The other 60 percent of the time, it will take days or weeks to sort everything out.

A basement entrance...

...on West Lexington Street.

Has Warren ever played Loyola?

Yes, at least twice in recent years. Warren, the largest school in the tournament this year, traveled to Loyola, the largest private school in the state, both times and lost by similar scores:

2009: LOYOLA 21, Warren 7
2007: LOYOLA 23, Warren 3

Will Saturday's game be any different? I don't know.

Warren High School, in Gurnee, opened its doors in 1918 with 57 students. Today it has 4,262 on two campuses. Warren's most famous alum is probably William Grant Stratton (above), also known as "Billy the Kid," who was Adlai Stevenson's successor as governor of Illinois from 1953 to 1961. Stratton, whose mother's maiden name was Van Wormer (there was no Name of the Day back then), was the youngest governor in America at the time. In typical Illinois fashion, Stratton was tried on charges of tax evasion, but -- atypically -- was acquitted and lived out the rest of his life in Chicago, not some federal prison. It was a more innocent time in America back then.

As for Warren's 2014 football squad, the Blue Devils (7-2) are seeded No. 9 in the 8A tournament. While they get no love from the Chicago papers, Bryan McNulty's squad is ranked No. 17 by MaxPreps, just ahead of No. 18 Naperville Central (7-2) and right behind No. 16 New Trier (8-1). (Brian McNulty? Sounds like a Loyola coach.)

Warren played six winning teams this year, beating Lyons (5-4), Libertyville (6-3), Lake Forest (6-3) and Lake Zurich (5-4). The Blue Devils lost to New Trier (8-1) and Stevenson (9-0) early in the season. Here's the full schedule (home team in CAPS): 

WARREN 17, Lyons 14
NEW TRIER 14, Warren 7
Stevenson 33, Warren 20
WARREN 43, Libertyville 26
Warren 42, MUNDELEIN 12
WARREN 27, Lake Forest 14
Warren 44, GRANT 0
WARREN 21, Lake Zurich 17
Warren 42, ZION-BENTON 0

As you can see, Warren's offense can really rack up the points, having scored over forty in four games. But Loyola's defense is notoriously stingy. What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object? We may find out this weekend.

Loyola (7-2), for its part, is seeded No. 8 in the tournament and ranked No. 3 in MaxPreps, No. 8 in the Tribune and No. 16 in the Sun-Times. There's really nothing about the Wilmette school that I could write that readers of this blog don't already know, but how about this? Loyola, founded in 1909 in Rogers Park, was actually spun off of St. Ignatius on the Near West Side.

Not to be outdone by Warren in the political realm, Loyola is the alma mater of Neil Hartigan, who ran as a Democrat for governor in 1990. (That's him in the picture above, with Nancy Pelosi. That's gotta rankle those North Shore Republicans!) Hartigan at one time was the youngest lieutenant governor in the nation and also remains unindicted for any crime.

As for this year's season, the Ramblers played -- are you ready for this? -- eight of its nine games against winning teams! (Who scheduled St. Ignatius?) Not only did Loyola beat Marquette (7-2),  Fenwick (5-4), DePaul (5-4) and St. Rita (6-3), but John Holecek's squad delivered the only losses of the year to Edwardsville (8-1) and Providence (8-1). Wow!

Loyola's two defeats came at the hands of Brother Rice (6-3) and Mount Carmel (5-4), both on the road. Here's the full schedule:

Loyola 44, MARQUETTE (WI) 0
LOYOLA 29, Edwardsville 28 (OT)
BROTHER RICE 16,  Loyola 13
LOYOLA 42, Fenwick 0
Loyola 55, ST. IGNATIUS 13
LOYOLA 10, Providence 7
Loyola 42, DEPAUL 6
LOYOLA 38, St. Rita 14
MOUNT CARMEL 10, Loyola 7

As you can see, Loyola -- despite its issues at quarterback -- can score points too. But if defense wins championships then these guys are headed for a rematch in Round Two with Stevenson (9-0).

Warren can be a dangerously underrated team, though, and capable of sneaking up on the Ramblers at Sachs Stadium. I'll say Loyola wins this one, but it could be uncomfortably close for fans of the home team. I'm thinking of something on the order of the Providence game, 10-7.

You can follow the action with me @BoringOldWhtGuy on Saturday afternoon.

What's my game for Saturday night? Check back tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The New Yorker cartoon of the day:

“That was before I found this amazing new way to earn $$$ working from home.”

Has Brother Rice ever played Naperville Central?

Tom Tunney, Brother Rice Class of 1973.
Not in the last ten years. Maybe never. But the two schools will be facing off in Naperville on Friday night, and, barring any rain, I'll be there. What can I expect?

Well, Brother Rice, which is located at the corner of 99th and Pulaski in the very northwestern tip of the Mount Greenwood neighborhood of Chicago (where the city meets Oak Lawn and Evergreen Park), was founded in 1956, two years before I was born.

Named after the founder of the Irish Christian Brothers, Edmund Ignatius Rice, the all-boys school was actually the second (after Leo High School in 1926) founded by the congregation in Chicago.

The school colors are maroon and orange. The maroon was taken from the maroon and gold colors of Iona College, also founded by the Christian Brothers, and the orange was taken from the black and orange colors of Leo.

According to Leo's Wikipedia page:

Since Leo was founded, the Christian Brothers of Ireland have established two more boys schools, Brother Rice High School and St. Laurence High School. As a sign of respect for Leo, Brother Rice took the orange in addition to maroon for its school colors, and St. Laurence took black in addition to gold for their schools. Brother Rice and St. Laurence are often called "Sons of Leo."

Rice is also the alma mater of Tom Tunney, above, alderman from the 44th Ward and owner of the Ann Sather restaurant chain, where I ate many a meal as a young bachelor in the 1980s. (The cinnamon rolls are to die for!)

Okay, enough history. What about the football team? Well, the Crusaders (6-3) are ranked No. 9 in the Tribune, No. 10 in MaxPreps and No. 11 in the Sun-Times. Rice not only has the most playoff points of any school in the tournament, 56, but coach Brian Badke's squad played eight -- eight! --  teams with winning records this year. (The lone losing team, Marist, which was knocked out in last year's 8A semifinal by -- you guessed it -- Naperville Central, was 4-5.) Who the heck is responsible for this bone-crushing schedule?

As you can see below, the Crusaders beat five winning teams: Loyola (7-2), St. Francis (7-2), St. Laurence (5-4), Mount Carmel (5-4) and St. Rita (6-3). The South Siders lost to Brother Rice of Detroit (9-0 and ranked No. 3 in the state of Michigan by MaxPreps), Brebeuf Jesuit of Indianapolis (7-3) and Providence (8-1). 

Here's the full 2014 schedule (home team in CAPS):

BROTHER RICE (MI) 40, Brother Rice 34
BROTHER RICE 27, Marist 20
BROTHER RICE 16, Loyola 13
Brother Rice 35, ST. FRANCIS 29
BROTHER RICE 34, St. Laurence 7
Brother Rice 26, MOUNT CARMEL 17 
BREBEUF JESUIT (IN) 34, Brother Rice 28
PROVIDENCE 45, Brother Rice 42
BROTHER RICE 28, St. Rita 21 

Robert Zoellick, '71.
Now, as for that other team, Naperville Central, well, the Redhawks are the defending Class 8A champs, having beaten Loyola last year, 13-10. (When was the last time the winning team's offense failed to score a touchdown in the championship game?) 

Central opened its doors in 1863, almost a hundred years before Brother Rice. One of the first things you'll read on its Wikipedia page is that "it is the only high school in the United States to have its own Ancient Egyptian mummy." That's cool (I guess):

One of the most notable displays at the school is an Egyptian mummy. Though not claimed or confirmed, Naperville Central may be the only high school in America to house such an artifact. Known as "Butch," it is stored in a glass case on the second floor of the school.
The mummy was donated to the school in the 1940s by a local doctor, who had purchased it in a curio shop.The mummy was wrapped up and forgotten in an attic at the school until it was accidentally rediscovered by a teacher in 1975. The mummy underwent restoration in the 1990s at the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute.
In 2002 the National Geographic Channel visited the school and featured the school's mummy on an episode of its "Mummy Roadshow" television series. The mummy dates to approximately 55 BCE.
Oh, and since this is (sort of) a political blog, I included a picture of Robert Zoellick (class of 1971), the United States Trade Representative (2001–05), United States Deputy Secretary of State (2005–07) and president of the World Bank (2007–2012).

As long as I went into that whole thing about Rice's colors I suppose it's worth mentioning that Central's nickname used to be the Redskins (hence the red and white):

From 1939 until 1992, the mascot was the Redskin. A series of public protests over "Redskins" as a mascot began in the 1980s and continued into the early 1990s. Each time such a protest started, the student body was polled over keeping the mascot, and each result ended with the student body voting overwhelmingly to keep it. The community, too, rallied to keep "Redskins" as the nickname; despite this, the District 203 School Board decided during the summer of 1992 that it would be appropriate to end the use of the term "Redskins." Nearly all uses of the previous Native American logo and references to "Redskin," or other names deemed to be "Native American"-themed, such as the former "Arrowhead" yearbook, were removed from the building that summer (although students may still see some remainders of the Redskin today). The "Redhawk" was chosen in the fall of 1992 as the new school's mascot, after a vote by students, and went into effect in the 1993–94 school year.

That was twenty years ago. And the NFL is still struggling with that issue?

Central competes in the DuPage Valley Conference, which is often mentioned along with the Catholic League Blue as the best in the state. Coach Mike Stine's squad is ranked No. 10 in the Sun-Times, No. 13 in the Trib and No. 18 in MaxPreps. This year, through a scheduling quirk, the Redhawks played Wheaton Warrenville South (5-4) twice (don't ask), splitting the series, 1-1. Other than that, the Red Hawks beat Neuqua Valley (6-3), Hubbard (5-4, but failed to make the postseason) and Lake Park (5-4). They lost their opener to Waubonsie Valley (8-1).

Here's the schedule: 

WAUBONSIE VALLEY 20, Naperville Central 6
Naperville Central 19, NEUQUA VALLEY 0
Naperville Central 59, HUBBARD 0
Naperville Central 10, WHEATON WARRENVILLE SOUTH 7
NAPERVILLE CENTRAL 28, Glenbard North 14
Naperville Central 27, Naperville North 6
NAPERVILLE CENTRAL 14, Wheaton North 3
Naperville Central 17, LAKE PARK 10
Wheaton Warrenville South 27, NAPERVILLE CENTRAL 20

All right, all right, so who wins this one? Well, it's always a good idea to watch a No. 5-seed travel to a No. 4-seed in the first round of the 8A playoffs. But while it's tempting to take Brother Rice, based on its brutal schedule, I'm going to say Mike Stine pulls another rabbit out of his hat. He's good at doing that, especially after last year in which they lost three games in a row to the meat of their conference schedule only to emerge victorious over Loyola in the finals. (See above about their offense in that game.)

Either way, this is my Game of the Week, and if I'm there I'll be live-tweeting the contest @BoringOldWhtGuy. Don't miss it! 

Tomorrow: my Saturday Game of the Week. 

The Name of the Day...

...belongs to Stan Frownfelter, a member of the Kansas House of Representatives.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

An open letter...

...from Ed McManus, a developmental disability consultant (my emphasis):
Dear Friend,
I know we are all being bombarded with campaign appeals.  Please take a moment to read this, which comes from my heart . . .
As we go to the polls on Nov. 4 to vote for governor, we should consider all the many issues facing Illinois.  For those of us who have kids with disabilities or work in the disability field, how our politicians stand on disability issues is of great importance.
We know where Pat Quinn stands.  He has been more supportive of services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities than any Illinois governor -- ever.  The Arc of the United States gave him one of their top awards after he launched a project to shut down four of the eight big state-run DD institutions.  (Jacksonville Center has already closed, and the closure of Murray Center in Centralia has begun.) 
This is important for three chief reasons:  
--No one ought to have to live in an institution if the state can give them the opportunity to live in a real home in a real neighborhood.
--The cost of supporting a person in an institution is triple the cost in a CILA.
--Those savings can be used to get more people off our huge waiting list.
Unfortunately, we don't know where Bruce Rauner stands on disability issues.  Numerous advocate groups asked to meet with him but were rebuffed.  All we know about Rauner is one statement he made at a rally in Centralia in April.  He said if he is elected, "I am absolutely keeping Murray Center open."
(please consider forwarding this to your family and friends)

Goodbye convertible...

...Hello Honda!

If Jeb Bush is indeed running...

...for president in 2016, as a front-page story in the Times suggested, then why did Republican Party elder Bob Dole tell a crowd yesterday that he wants Mitt Romney to run again?

The GOP establishment usually rallies behind only one candidate. As Chris Matthews has often said, "The Democrats fall in love while the Republicans fall in line." So if Jeb is the choice of the establishment, why encourage talk of a Romney candidacy? And where does all this leave that other darling of the establishment, Chris Christie? Hung out to dry?

Monday, October 27, 2014

Finally looks like fall...

...outside my second-story balcony.

The New Yorker cartoon of the day:

“The presentation is dreadful.”

Will Jeb Bush run for president... 2016? That's the subject of a front-page article in the Times today, "The Bushes, Led by W., Rally to Make Jeb ‘45’," by Peter Baker. 

Personally, I agree with David Brooks: Jeb just doesn't seem to have the requisite "fire in the belly." Besides, he doesn't poll well among Republicans. (Paddy Power, the Irish betting website, has the former governor of Florida in fourth place, at 6/1 odds, to win the GOP nomination.)

But the point of this post is to highlight a sentence buried near the end of Baker's piece (my emphasis):

“The Bush network is definitely there, and a lot of good feelings about both 41 and 43 and what they stood for — a lot of that translates to Jeb,” said Mark Langdale, former president of the George W. Bush Foundation who saw him in Dallas.

Good feelings for W.? Really? What exactly are those "good feelings" about, tax cuts for the rich? Record budget deficits? The financial crisis? 9/11? The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq? Torture? Katrina? What? Am I missing something, or did this guy have some accomplishments of which I'm not aware?

Jeb Bush in 2016? I'm with Barbara, "We've had enough Bushes."

The regular season is over...

I finally got to see Loyola this weekend.
...and I ended up watching ten games in nine weeks. I was able to see 14 teams compete, of which 12 ended up in the playoffs. (St. Patrick and Naperville North didn't make the cut.)

Now, before I get to how I would rank them it's worth mentioning that, as my British friend Jamie would say, it's a mug's game. And by that I mean, comparing teams -- especially ones that haven't even played each other -- is a silly thing to do. As I wrote last week, even head-to-head matchups don't always settle things, but -- darn it! -- we humans love answers. (It's comforting to think that the universe has order; the alternative makes us nervous.) So here are the latest news services' rankings followed by my own.


1. Providence (8-1)
2. Stevenson (9-0)
3. Loyola (7-2)
4. Glenbard West (9-0)
5. Nazareth (9-0)
6. Cary-Grove (9-0)
7. Sacred Heart-Griffin (9-0)
8. Joliet Catholic (7-2)
9. Maine South (9-0)
10. Brother Rice (6-3)
11. Edwardsville (8-1)
12. Waubonsie Valley (8-1)

Chicago Tribune

1. Stevenson (9-0)
2. Glenbard West (9-0)
3. Cary-Grove (9-0)
4. Maine South (9-0)
5. Providence (8-1)
6. Nazareth (9-0)
7. Lincoln-Way East (8-1)
8. Loyola (7-2)
9. Brother Rice (6-3)
10. Batavia (8-1)
11. Homewood-Flossmoor (7-2)
12. Richards (8-1)


1. Stevenson (9-0)
2. Glenbard West (9-0)
3. Cary-Grove (9-0)
4. Maine South (9-0)
5. Nazareth (9-0)
6. Lincoln-Way East (8-1)
7. Providence (8-1)
8. Homewood-Flossmoor (7-2)
9. Batavia (8-1)
10. Naperville Central (7-2)
11. Brother Rice (6-3)
12. Simeon (8-1)


1. Providence (8-1)

I still say the Celtics are the best team I've seen this year. The No. 1-seed New Lenox squad opens up the 7A playoffs against No. 16 Quincy (5-4) -- whoever that is -- before a possible rematch with St. Rita in Round Two.

2. Glenbard West (9-0) 

I have to rank these guys No. 2 since everybody else thinks they're so good. The No. 2-seed Hilltoppers open up in 8A (for the first time?) against No. 5 Fremd (6-3) before a second-round matchup with either Huntley or Palatine. But in Round Three the Hitters could face undefeated Maine South, which would be REALLY interesting.

3. Brother Rice (6-3)

The Crusaders are probably the second-best team in a stacked Catholic League Blue. The No. 5-seed South Siders open up at No. 4 Naperville Central (7-2) in what will almost certainly be my Game of the Week. Representatives from two of the best conferences in Illinois are going at it? And one of them is the defending 8A champ? I'm THERE.

4. Lincoln-Way East (8-1)

After an opening season loss to Oak Park and River Forest (which I saw), the Griffins settled down and "took care of business," as they say. The No. 2-seed Frankfort squad will open up against -- oh, no! -- No. 15 Lincoln-Way Central (5-4). (Doesn't anybody out there have any imagination when naming schools?) Lincoln-Way East may be on a collision course with Mount Carmel in Round Three.

5. Loyola (7-2)

Even though the Ramblers lost to Mount Carmel on Friday night, they still had the better season. (These guys knocked off Providence, for crying out loud!) Loyola has a really tough road in the playoffs, though. The No. 8-seed Wilmette squad has to get past a -- very -- underrated Warren (7-2) team before they get a chance to ruin Stevenson's perfect season. Ramblers are a bit of a dark horse this year.

6. Mount Carmel (5-4)

The Caravan finished strong, defeating Loyola on Friday night. The No. 14 Woodlawn squad has to first get past last year's Class 6A champs, No. 3-seed Batavia (8-1), which is no easy task. But I think Carmel will find a way; I just can't let go of a possible third-round matchup with Lincoln-Way East.

7. Nazareth (9-0)

How can I rank an undefeated team so low? It's hard, but I just can't see these guys beating either Loyola or Mount Carmel. Am I wrong? Maybe. The Roadrunners are the No. 1 seed in 6A but have to play No. 16 Boylan (5-4) in Round One. Titans coach John Cacciatore (sounds like he's from my neighborhood) has been around the playoffs before, having guided Boylan to a pair of one-loss seasons the last two years. (And in 2010, under Dan Appino, the Titans went undefeated and won the whole shebang!) If Naz doesn't stumble in the first round, they could go deep, maybe even all the way to Champaign.

8. (Tie) St. Rita (6-3) and Oak Park and River Forest (7-2)

I really, really LIKE these two teams. No. 9 St. Rita has to play No. 8 Plainfield East (7-2) -- who? -- before a rematch with Providence in Round Two. 

The No. 11 Huskies, meanwhile, may have the toughest bracket of all: No. 6 Barrington (8-1) followed by Maine South. And if they get past those two John Hoerster's squad has to play Glenbard West again. (Who made up these brackets?) 

I'm pulling for these two teams but it's going to be awfully, awfully hard.

10. Wheaton Warrenville South (5-4)

The Tigers jumped up a few notches with that thrilling victory at Naperville Central on Friday night. One thing you don't want to do in the postseason is face a Ron Muhitch-coached team. (I've made the mistake -- many times -- of underestimating these guys. Don't let it happen to you!) Red Grange's alma mater, which is a No. 13 seed, will face a No. 4 Lincoln-Way North (8-1) squad in Round One. (Oh, no, another "Lincoln-Way" team.) I'll say the Tigers upset the Phoenix (the PHOENIX?) and advance to an eventual third round matchup with Providence. If so, you can be sure I'll be there! 

11. (Tie) Carmel (6-3) and Phillips (8-1) 

Ya gotta love both these teams. Carmel used to be a powerhouse around these parts. I don't know what happened to them, but the Corsairs are returning to the playoffs after a two-year drought. As a No. 10 seed, the Mundelein squad will play No. 7 Harlem (7-2) in Round One. I'll say Carmel sneaks into a Round Three contest with Cary-Grove to end their season. (But wouldn't it be cool to see a Carmel - Mount Carmel final in 7A?)

As for Phillips, the Public League squad has one of the most exciting offenses in the state. Seeded No. 5 in 4A, the Wildcats will play No. 12 Plano (6-3) in Round One. (The only thing I know about Plano is that it's the home of the Farnsworth House, above, an interesting structure designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. But that won't help them win football games!) After dispatching of the Reapers, Phillips may have to travel to No. 4 Johnsburg (8-1). If they do, I'll be there to watch.

The dates and times of first-round games should be announced by 3:00 today. I have my alarm set; do you?

Sunday, October 26, 2014

On South Seeley Avenue... Beverly today.

Jack Bruce, who...

...along with Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker formed the supergroup Cream, died at age 71.

I wish I could find a non-lip-synching video of the boys performing this famous hit, but this version will have to do. (It's pretty good though.) 

This year's playoffs will begin... Friday, which is also Halloween. (Who's responsible for this scheduling?) According to my next-door neighbor, we can expect to get a fair number of trick-or-treaters, so I need to decide what the heck I'm going to do: stay home and hand out candy or go to a game.

In the meantime, three contests immediately jumped out at me after watching last night's Football Pairings Show.


No. 9-seed Warren (7-2) at No. 8 Loyola (7-2)
Don't underestimate the Blue Devils.

No. 5 Brother Rice (6-3) at No. 4 Naperville Central (7-2)
Crusaders coming off a big win over St. Rita; Central trying to rebound after a stunning loss to Wheaton Warrenville South. Could be my Game of the Week.


No. 13 Mount Carmel (5-4) at No. 3 Batavia (8-1)
Last year's 7A champ travels to last year's 6A champ.

The days and times are expected to be announced by 3:00 tomorrow. I think it's safe to say that the Loyola game will be on Saturday so I should make that one. The other two could be on Friday or Saturday night or even Saturday afternoon, so I'll just have to wait.

A few other games that could be my backups are:


No. 11 Oak Park and River Forest (7-2) at No. 6 Barrington (8-1)
Can Northwestern-bound quarterback Lloyd Yates turn it on for the playoffs?


No. 15 Fenwick (5-4) at No. 2 Highland Park (9-0)
Will the Friars be Giant-killers?

No. 13 Wheaton Warrenville South (5-4) at No. 4 Lincoln-Way North (8-1)
You don't want to play a Ron Muhitch-coached team in the postseason.


No. 16 Boylan at No. 1 Nazareth (9-0)
The Titans have been here before; could they surprise the Roadrunners?

And here are some interesting second-round games I'll be anticipating:


Loyola at No. 1 Stevenson (9-0)
Great rematch from last year's semifinal game. Hopefully it won't be as COLD.

Barrington or OPRF at No. 3 Maine South (9-0)
How good is Maine South, really?


No. 9 St. Rita (6-3) at No. 1 Providence (8-1)


No. 6 St. Francis (7-2) at No. 3 Lakes (8-1)
Is St. Francis the most OVERLOOKED team in the whole tournament?

No. 3 Richards (8-1) at No. 2 Lincoln-Way West (8-1)
Wasn't I at this game last year? No, that was Lincoln-Way North.


No. 6 Montini (6-3) at No. 3 Joliet Catholic (7-2)
Another great rematch from last year.


No. 5 Phillips (8-1) at No. 4 Johnsburg (8-1)
Inner-city vs. exurb; great cultural contrast.

Oh, and what the heck:

In Round Three in 7A, Mount Carmel at No. 2 Lincoln-Way East (8-1)
Remember when the Caravan eliminated the Griffins, 34-31, way back in 2008? Coach Rob Zvonar does.

Let's hope I can work these all in.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

If you care about high school football...

...then you probably don't need to read this post. (You already know what's in it.) But I'll write it anyway just to organize my own scattered mind.

First of all, ten of the thirteen undefeated teams I mentioned earlier in the week finished 9-0. Two, DeKalb and Momence, lost last night while one, Nazareth, still has to play today.

So here are the ten perfect teams (I may have missed one or two; sorry) and their probable playoff classes according to the IHSA website. (The brackets will be announced tonight -- can't wait!)


1. Stevenson


2. Glenbard West
3. Maine South
4. Cary-Grove
5. Highland Park (which beat Glenbrook North last night, 34-33!)

Which one of these unlucky guys draws Mount Carmel (5-4) or Wheaton Warrenville South (5-4) in Round One? Will the Caravan and the Tigers meet up in Champaign?


6. Lemont
7. Peoria Notre Dame


8. Normal University 
9. Sacred Heart-Griffin (which beat Rochester in its ninth running-clock victory of the year. And SHG Coach Ken Leonard did so against his own son, Derek, above. Wow; I bet that'll be an awkward Thanksgiving dinner!)


10. Geneseo (which beat DeKalb in the only battle of undefeateds last night.)

Oh, and in case you were wondering, I made it down to Gately Stadium on the South Side for Mount Carmel's big 10-7 victory over Loyola (7-2). It was a beautiful night and a great game! I'll have more to say on it later.

In the meantime, did you know that Frank Lenti played only one season of football -- his freshman year -- at Mount Carmel? (I sat next to a guy last night who went there with him.) The state's winningest football coach in history played baseball!

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Tom Toles cartoon of the day:

The midterm elections...

...are a week from next Tuesday. Don't forget to vote; make your voice heard!

Just don't read Timothy Egan's opinion piece in the Times. It's too depressing:

This year, the Koch brothers and their extensions ... have operations in at least 35 states, and will spend somewhere north of $120 million to ensure a Congress that will do their bidding. Spending by outside groups has gone to $1 billion in 2012 from $52 million in 2000.

Everybody's got a schtick, don't they?

Here's a German artist named Hans Haacke (runner up for Name of the Day, by the way) who, according to an article in today's Times, won't allow his face to be photographed.

Remind you of anyone?

The Name of the Day...

...belongs to Connecticut Gov. Daniel Patrick "Dan" Malloy. Oops! That's Dannel Patrick "Dan" Malloy. (I bet I'm the first person to make that mistake.)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The New Yorker cartoon of the day:

“Your best cholesterol lacks all conviction, and your worst is full of passionate intensity.”

Do you know what...

...humans want? Answers. The more definitive, the better. Do you know what humans hate? Nuance.

Why are we here? What is the purpose of life? What follows this? Don't tell me you don't know!

In sports, for example, we like to play games, seasons and championships. That's the only way, after all, to determine who exactly is the best team. Last year, the Seattle Seahawks defeated the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl, 43-8. Clearly, they were the best team in the NFL.

Or were they? I've often wondered how effective our system of play really is. Were the Seahawks the best team for the entire season, or just at the end? Were they really that much better than the Broncos? Would they beat Denver ten out of ten times? Nine out of ten? And how many times would they beat them by such a lop-sided score?

Seasons are long -- months long. And often the team that starts out is very different from the team that finishes. There are injuries, trades and players often go in streaks -- some start strong right out of the gate while others come on with a vengeance at the end. Ask yourself: is the best team really the best team, or just the one that gets hot in the postseason? Do these championships really determine anything? Or is the winner just the one that outscored the loser on a particular day?

Finally, I read a piece yesterday that addressed many of these questions I'd been having about sports. Neil Paine writes in FiveThirtyEight, "So What If These Aren’t The Two Best Teams In Baseball?" (my emphasis):

The 2014 World Series begins Tuesday night, featuring a pair of unlikely combatants in the 89-win Kansas City Royals and the 88-win San Francisco Giants.

How unlikely? The Royals rank as the third-most unexpected pennant winner since 1969 — trailing only the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays and 2006 Detroit Tigers — according to our Weighted Average Loss Total metric. And while the Giants have won a pair of championships in the last five seasons, their cumulative record over the past two seasons has barely cracked .500.

Daniel Meyer of Beyond the Box Score ... notes that Major League Baseball’s regular season (not even the playoffs, which are almost universally regarded as a crapshoot, but the 162-game regular season) is too short to definitively allow the best team to stand out from the pack. Even if MLB expanded to a schedule of 1,000 games per team (!!), the true best team in baseball would have less than a 54 percent chance of producing the regular season’s best record.

So there you have it -- sports don't necessarily determine the best team after all. We don't get a clear black and white answer; the universe comes in shades of gray. Deal with it.

My Game of the Week...

...has to be Loyola (7-1) at Mount Carmel (4-4) tomorrow night at Gately. (With a stop on the way at Top Notch Beefburgers in Beverly?)

Even though I mentioned the excitement of watching two undefeated teams going at it in Week Nine, such as Geneseo (8-0) at DeKalb (8-0), it would be awfully hard to miss this contest. Think about it: two legendary Catholic League powerhouses will meet up practically in my back yard. Loyola, the North Shore cake-eaters, have stymied Mount Carmel, the rough-and-tumble South Siders, in recent years even though the Caravan won the 7A championship last year and the 8A crown the previous year. (Loyola, of course, was the 8A runner-up two of the last three seasons.) And, as if that weren't enough, a Rambler victory would eliminate the Caravan from postseason play for the first time in 28 years. You don't think Loyola Coach John Holecek wouldn't like that?

There will be so much emotion at this game -- on the field and in the stands -- that anyone would be a fool to miss it!

Here's Loyola's 2014 record so far (home team in CAPS):

Loyola 44, MARQUETTE (WI) 0
LOYOLA 29, Edwardsville 28 (OT)
BROTHER RICE 16,  Loyola 13
LOYOLA 42, Fenwick 0
Loyola 55, ST. IGNATIUS 13
LOYOLA 10, Providence 7
Loyola 42, DEPAUL 6
LOYOLA 38, St. Rita 14

The Ramblers are ranked No. 1 in MaxPreps, No. 3 in the Tribune and No. 5 in the Sun-Times, behind the hated Maine South -- Hillary's alma mater! 

And here's Mount Carmel's schedule:

St. Joseph's Prep (PA) 28, MOUNT CARMEL 27 (Toyota Park)
Mount Carmel 43, MORGAN PARK 6
PROVIDENCE 33, Mount Carmel 14
ST. RITA 23, Mount Carmel 21
MOUNT CARMEL 49, De La Salle 7
Brother Rice 26, MOUNT CARMEL 17
Mount Carmel 63, LEO 20
Mount Carmel 42, HALES FRANCISCAN 8

The Caravan are unranked -- not even On the Verge -- in the Chicago papers (ouch!) and way down at No. 46 in MaxPreps, right behind -- you guessed it -- Geneseo.

Now, as I mentioned, in recent years Loyola has positively owned Mount Carmel. And, since Holecek took over the Rambler program in 2006, they've gone 5-4 in the series:

2013: LOYOLA 24, Mount Carmel 17
2012: Loyola 30, MOUNT CARMEL 27
2011: LOYOLA 12, Mount Carmel 7
2010: Mount Carmel 31, LOYOLA 24
2009: Loyola 28, MOUNT CARMEL 15
            Loyola 24, MOUNT CARMEL 7
2008: MOUNT CARMEL 35, Loyola 14
2007: Mount Carmel 31, LOYOLA 24
2006: MOUNT CARMEL 32, Loyola 14*
2005: Mount Carmel 21, LOYOLA 3
            Mount Carmel 41, LOYOLA 3
2004: Mount Carmel 20, LOYOLA 0

* Holecek's first year at Loyola.

So what will happen tomorrow night? Boy, that's a tough one! I've seen Mount Carmel three times this year and each time they lost. And while I haven't gotten to see the Ramblers play, they sound like a typical Loyola team: a bunch of disciplined, well-coached Division III recruits -- at best. Now, despite some turmoil at quarterback, the Wilmette squad has managed to pull out a victory in every game except that one at Brother Rice in Week Three. Can the Ramblers make it four in a row over the Caravan? Could Mount Carmel Coach Frank Lenti watch the 2014 playoffs -- gulp! -- from the bleachers? (That last image is just too hard for me to process.) 

I'm going to say Carmel edges the Ramblers in a battle of Biblical Proportions and sneaks into the postseason at 5-4. 

Now, which one of you guys gets to play them in Round One of the 7A playoffs, Providence (7-1)? Lincoln-Way East (7-1)? We'll find out Saturday night!