Sunday, November 30, 2014

A friend texted me...

...this weekend, "Where would you rank Nazareth among the teams you've seen?"

To which I replied, "So hard to say. Still behind Stevenson, Loyola, Providence and Glenbard West. So many good teams..." (In case you haven't noticed, I like ellipses...) (And parentheses!)

But it really is hard to rank teams, isn't it? Is Stevenson, for example, really the best team in the state of Illinois? The three news services below think so. But is that just because they won the big school (8A) title? Or are the Patriots objectively the best? Could they beat the 7A champ, Providence? How about the 6A winner, Nazareth? Could they beat Loyola again? Glenbard West? Could they beat them two out of three times?

If you look at the rankings, MaxPreps and the Tribune have the top three teams the champions from 8A, 7A and 6A in that order. The Sun-Times, however, ranks the two undefeated teams, Stevenson and Nazareth, above Providence. After that it's a bit of a jumble, with the usual suspects (plus Sacred Heart-Griffin in MaxPreps) rounding out each service's top ten. 

MaxPreps

1. Stevenson (14-0)
2. Providence (13-1)
3. Nazareth (14-0)
4. Glenbard West (12-1)
5. Sacred Heart-Griffin (14-0)
6. Loyola (11-3)
7. Cary-Grove (13-1)
8. Homewood-Flossmoor (11-3)
9. Barrington (10-2)
10. Simeon (11-2)

Chicago Tribune

1. Stevenson (14-0)
2. Providence (13-1)
3. Nazareth (14-0)
4. Cary-Grove (13-1)
5. Homewood-Flossmoor (11-3)
6. Lemont (13-1)
7. Glenbard West (12-1)
8. Simeon (11-2)
9. Loyola (11-3)
10. Montini (10-4)

Sun-Times

1. Stevenson (14-0)
2. Nazareth (14-0)
3. Providence (13-1)
4. Glenbard West (12-1)
5. Homewood-Flossmoor (11-3)
6. Cary-Grove (13-1)
7. Simeon (11-2)
8. Lincoln-Way East (10-2)
9. Mount Carmel (8-5)
10. Naperville Central (9-3)

So who's right? Who knows? Read this for more of my thoughts on the matter -- and how futile it is to rank teams.

In the meantime, here are the 23 teams I saw this year (plus St. Joseph's Prep of Philadelphia) in alphabetical order:

Bolingbrook
Brother Rice
Carmel
Coal City
Glenbard West
Johnsburg
Lincoln-Way East (twice)
Loyola (three times)
Mount Carmel (five times)
Naperville North
Nazareth
Oak Park and River Forest
Oswego
Phillips (five times)
Providence
Rockford Lutheran
St. Patrick
St. Rita (twice)
Stevenson
Sycamore
Warren
Westinghouse
Wheaton Warrenville South

I saw a total of eighteen games in person in 13 weeks and five or six more online or on TV, including the finals this weekend. As you can see, I saw both Mount Carmel and Phillips a remarkable five times (and saw the Caravan lose three times -- how many people have seen Mount Carmel lose three times in their entire lives?). The best games included St. Joe's - Mount Carmel, Loyola - Mount Carmel, Loyola - Stevenson, and Oswego - Bolingbrook, which went into overtime.

But the very best game of the year, in my opinion, had to be one I watched online: Stevenson - Glenbard West. I mean, come on, five turnovers in the fourth quarter? 3-0 score until the very last minute? A fourth-and-the season pass intercepted in the end zone to end the game (and Glenbard West's hopes)? It was also, in my opinion, for the 8A championship. What a game!

So what do we have to look forward to next year, besides a ton of returning starters on Homewood-Flossmoor? I can't think that far in advance. Let's just bask in the 2014 season and start scouring the papers for some good basketball games.

See you in the gym!

On a walk in Ukrainian Village...

...today, I happened upon St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church on North Oakley Boulevard.

The cornerstone.

Another view, from the side, on West Rice Street.

Huh? What?

Oh.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Name of the Day...

...belongs to Prince Walker, running back for Montini.

I wonder if that first name was inspired by Jermajesty Jackson.

Today is the final day...

video
...of the Illinois high school football season. I hope to watch at least parts of all four championship games on TV while eating leftovers from Thanksgiving, punctuated by naps and walks in the neighborhood with my dog, Stewart. (You have to turn your head a little.)

I watched the Rochester - Phillips game last night and just can't get over what a great team the Rockets are. Wow! Five consecutive 4A championships. That's amazing. Now Coach Derek Leonard can sit back and see if his dad, Ken, can make it two in a row over Montini in the 5A contest.

(Oh, and how about that finish in 3A!)

I didn't write a whole lot about football this week; I actually worked the last two days (if you can call what I do "work") and prepared the Thanksgiving meal almost single-handedly. (And that's not a dig at my wife; as the founder of a non-profit she's plenty busy. Besides, I'm the cook in the family; I like to eat, and I like it to turn out a certain way. And it turned out really well, by the way. So well, in fact, that I don't know if I'll ever be able to replicate it.)

But, as for writing about football, I wasn't really "feeling" it so I didn't force it. (One of the advantages of writing a blog is that you can pretty much do whatever you want. And if you don't feel like writing you don't have to; it's not like I have some editor breathing down my neck.)

I did get a compliment yesterday, though. As I was walking into Target I noticed this tweet:

15h15 hours ago
thanks for another GREAT year! You guys are the best!

Imagine that; getting recognized in the same breath as a bunch of professional writers. That's cool! (Almost as cool as getting mistaken for Mike Clark.)

Now, as for today's games, well, here are my quick and dirty predictions:

5A: No. 6 Montini (10-3) over No. 1 Sacred Heart-Griffin (13-0). 

Why? I don't know; do you think Ken Leonard can beat Chris Andriano twice in two years? I don't think so. Also, I'm going to say that the Leonards (and the Central State Eight Conference) will only go 1-1 in the finals this year. Are those good reasons? Probably not.

6A: No. 1 Nazareth (13-0) over No. 1 Lemont (13-0) in what could be the day's best tilt. (Still not sure about that word, "tilt." But other sportswriters use it and I get tired of saying "game" and "contest.") 

Come on, two undefeated No. 1 seeds who have never faced each other? That sounds like Stevenson - Glenbard West, and we all know how that one turned out. But I think it's the Roadrunners year and they'll prevail over the Indians in a squeaker. OT, anyone?

7A: No. 1 Providence (12-1) over No. 1 Cary-Grove (13-0) in my most confident pick of the day. (Quick, call your bookie and put your money on the Trojans!) 

I'm sorry, but when I look at this game I keep thinking of that other recent matchup between a Catholic League Blue team and a powerhouse from the far northwest suburbs: last year's Mount Carmel 30-0 shutout of Lake Zurich.  

The Celtics are the best team I've seen this year and the Trojans just haven't seen anyone like them. (Sorry, Julie. And Jim.)

8A: No. 1 Stevenson (13-0) over No. 3 Homewood-Flossmoor (11-2). 

I hate, hate, hate rematches. The Patriots already beat the Vikings in Week Two, 33-24; why should they have to play them again? (That's why I didn't bother with that Providence - Mount Carmel semifinal at Gately -- I already saw that movie.) 

But this one isn't a lock; the Patriots have to psych themselves up after last week's emotionally draining victory over Glenbard West. And the Vikings? They have nothing to lose; the smart money has them as the underdogs. They can play -- as they used to say -- with "reckless abandon." And they will. I expect a very close score but the Pats are finally going to bring a state championship trophy back to Lincolnshire. (Sorry, Kev.)

Enjoy the games everybody. I'll be live-tweeting my thoughts @BoringOldWhtGuy. It's been a great season, hasn't it?

Friday, November 28, 2014

The New Yorker cartoon of the day:


“All right, buddy, that’ll be a ten-dollar corkage fee.”

What can Phillips expect...

...from tonight's game with Rochester? Besides a No. 3-seed team with an 11-2 record looking for its fifth -- yes, fifth -- consecutive 4A title? A team coached by Derek Leonard (above), whose father, Ken Leonard, is the coach of Sacred Heart-Griffin, the 2013 5A champ which will defend its crown against Montini tomorrow? (The Leonards, by the way, became the first father-son duo to win a state championship in the same weekend last year.)

Yeah, besides all that, what can the Wildcats expect?

Well, first of all, the Rockets, who compete in the Central State Eight Conference, are ranked No. 41 in the state by MaxPreps, behind Oak Park and River Forest (7-3) and ahead of Lakes (9-2). (The Wildcats are ranked No. 20 by MaxPreps, behind Joliet Catholic (8-3) and ahead of Warren (7-3).)

During the 2014 regular season, Rochester beat only two winning teams, Chatham Glenwood (7-4) and Springfield Southeast (5-5). Both of its losses, meanwhile, were on the road in the last two weeks of the season to a pair of winning squads, MacArthur (6-4) and Sacred Heart-Griffin (13-0). (That last game, against the Cyclones, was a 56-13 thrashing delivered by none other than Derek's father, Ken. Thanks Dad!)

Here's the rest of Rochester's 2014 schedule (home team in CAPS):

ROCHESTER 56, Eisenhower 28
Rochester 43, SPRINGFIELD 14
ROCHESTER 49, Springfield Lanphier 13
ROCHESTER 42 Chatham Glenwood 0
Rochester 23, SPRINGFIELD SOUTHEAST 16
ROCHESTER 50, Lincoln 0
ROCHESTER 54, Jacksonville 46
MACARTHUR 38, Rochester 33
SACRED HEART-GRIFFIN 56, Rochester 13

Playoffs:

ROCHESTER 65, Mt. Zion 35
Rochester 35, QUINCY NOTRE DAME 14
ROCHESTER 56, Bloomington Central Catholic 21
ROCHESTER 28, Herrin 9

As for the team itself, well, let's just say the Rockets are pass-happy. 

From an article in MaxPreps a few years ago (my emphasis):

[Ken Leonard] loved the passing game and was one of the first high school coaches to follow Urban Meyer – then at Bowling Green - into the spread craze. Each of his state title teams threw for more than 2,500 yards.

According to Liz Leonard, Ken’s wife and Derek’s mom, "They’re almost like clones."

Before each became head coaches, both lost in state-title games as offensive coordinators, Ken at Chenoa in 1979 and Derek at Fairbury Prairie Central in 2003.

Derek, a former quarterback for his dad at Sacred Heart-Griffin and the career leader in touchdown passes (52), yards (6,667) and completions (546) at Division III Illinois College, has coached a number of the state's top quarterbacks in recent years.

Perhaps you've heard of Will Lunt (above), who started the 2014 season as quarterback of the University of Illinois? Well it was Derek Leonard who "turned the former defensive lineman into the state career passing leader with 8,308 yards. Lunt also ranked first in attempts (1,084) and second in completions (603)."

"I’m not saying it because he’s my son, but he truly has a great offensive mind," Ken said of Derek. "He’s always had a great understanding of the game, probably because he was around it so much.
 
"He’s been drawing up Xs and Os since he was about 5. He was always drawing up plays."

Whoa.

Now, I'm not going to predict that Rochester is a lock for a fifth consecutive championship. (Just ask Chris Andriano of Montini how hard that is.) Phillips has a pretty good defense, having allowed an average of just six points per game in the playoffs. Also, the Wildcats have a very talented quarterback of their own in Dewayne Collins -- the Sun-Times Player of the Year -- as well as wide receiver Quayvon Skanes and running back Corey Warren.

I've seen Rochester in the finals on TV and -- hoo, boy! -- do they run an up-tempo offense. But I think the Bronzeville squad has the athleticism to handle it. So I think it could be a heck of a matchup.

I'm going to say that Phillips becomes the first Chicago Public League team to bring back a trophy from Champaign.

Enjoy the game, everyone!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A friend of mine...

...texted me last night, Ferguson a dangerous blog topic?

To which I responded, No, I just don't have a strong opinion. Surprised?

And I still don't; the more I read about the incident, the more confused I get. But a dangerous blog topic? Heck no. (I've actually been mulling one on race in my head for the last few weeks.)*

I just don't know what happened, exactly, between Michael Brown and Officer Darren Wilson on that August day. I don't suppose anyone else does, either, even -- perhaps -- Wilson himself. (The whole thing lasted less than 90 seconds.) How many times has something sudden happened to you and, in the retelling, changes slightly as you go along? And how many people see the same incident from different perspectives? Memory, indeed reality, can be a difficult thing to get your arms around.

So . . . I guess . . . having said all that, maybe the best course of action would have been a trial after all. Regardless of the result, at least everyone, as they say, would have had their day in court. It seems to me that there was at least enough ambiguity to warrant a trial. Oh, well.

* Want a dangerous blog topic? Try this. (It's one my editor at the Oak Leaves wouldn't even touch.)

Chuck Schumer is an example...

...of why good senators often make lousy presidents: they are too focused on politics to the exclusion of good policy.

Before I get into why, here's a short history lesson in case your memory is faulty.

On the eve of the 2008 election, before the economic crisis took hold in the fall, the most pressing domestic issue facing America was health care reform. This was true among voters across the board: Democrats, independents and even Republicans. It's hard to remember now -- after Socialism!, death panels! and government takeover of one-sixth of the economy! -- but Americans of all stripes were fed up with the horribly dysfunctional health care "system" that had evolved over time.

After Bill Clinton had failed in the '90s, but Mitt Romney had succeeded in Massachusetts, the country was ready to take another "bite at the apple," as they say in Washington, at what had eluded them since at least FDR, if not Theodore Roosevelt a hundred years ago. Now that Switzerland had passed health care reform around the same time "Hillarycare" failed, the United States was the last developed country in the world to achieve universal coverage. And the system was getting worse, not better. Health care costs were threatening to bankrupt the country even as more and more Americans were losing coverage or seeing their own costs skyrocket. And don't even get me started on the "pleasure" of dealing with one's insurance company.

But it's easy to forget all that in the haze of two wars and the financial crisis that gripped the country in late 2008 and 2009. And Chuck Schumer, Democratic senator from New York, seems to be just as forgetful. From the Atlantic (my emphasis):

But his more noteworthy critique was of the pursuit of health reform itself: In his harshest assessment of the Obama presidency to date, Schumer argued that the White House and congressional Democrats erred by focusing on the Affordable Care Act throughout most of 2009 and early 2010 rather than following the passage of the economic stimulus with other targeted economic legislation that would directly help more people. He said voters had given the party a mandate in 2008 to stop the financial crisis and reverse the economic damage done to the middle class, and while he supported the substance of Obamacare, it was a political loser because it offered its most tangible benefit—access to coverage for the uninsured—to just 5 percent of the voting public. "Unfortunately, Democrats blew the opportunity the American people gave them," he said. "We took their mandate and put all of our focus on the wrong problem: healthcare reform." (While top Obama advisers like Rahm Emanuel, his first chief of staff, also opposed the healthcare push at the time, the president and Democratic leaders consistently argue that the benefits of the law accrue to a much larger portion of the electorate.)

And that's the problem with senators like Mr. Schumer: they tend to think more in terms of "good politics," keeping their majority in Congress and good old-fashioned power, than what elected officials are actually sent to Washington to do: improve people's lives.

Schumer could have just as easily said: We blew it by passing the Affordable Care Act. We could have kept our majority and committee chairmanships by just "going along to get along." I could have been in line for Senate Majority Leader!

And I think that's typical of the myopia -- and small-mindedness -- of the typical United States Senator. And it's probably why President Obama was so impatient to get the hell out of there. The World's Greatest Deliberative Body is filled with careerists like Mr. Schumer, not individuals who actually want to achieve something.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

In a follow-up...

Bush/Paul in 2016?
...to yesterday's post on the various possible candidates for the 2016 Republican nomination, here are the current odds for each according to Paddy Power, the Irish betting website:

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, 7/2
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, 11/2
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, 11/2
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, 6/1
Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, 10/1
Mitt Romney, 12/1
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, 12/1
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, 16/1
Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, 25/1
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, 25/1
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, 25/1
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, 25/1
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, 33/1
Ohio Gov. John Kasich, 40/1
Dr. Ben Carson, 40/1
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, 50/1
New York Rep. Peter King, N/A
Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, N/A

Don't agree? Then place your bets...

Monday, November 24, 2014

First snow!

The license plate of the day:

The New Yorker cartoon of the day:

Looks like there was...

...another mafia funeral at the Italian church in my neighborhood over the weekend.

(When I took this picture I half-expected Sonny Corleone to come out of nowhere, smash my iPhone on the ground and throw a few twenty-dollar bills at me. Didn't happen.)

When I look at the list...


...of possible GOP candidates in 2016, I think it may very well come down to Jeb Bush*, Rand Paul and Mike Huckabee. (Try finding a picture of those three together.)

I was inspired to write this post by an article I read in yesterday's Times, "A Deep 2016 Republican Presidential Field Reflects Party Divisions":

Republican presidential primaries have for decades been orderly affairs, with any momentary drama mitigated by the expectation that the party would inevitably nominate its tested, often graying front-runner.

But as the 2016 White House campaign effectively began in the last week, it became apparent that this race might be different: a fluid contest, verging on chaotic, that will showcase the party’s deep bench of talent but also highlight its ideological and generational divisions.

“I can think of about 16 potential candidates,” said Haley Barbour, the former governor of Mississippi and a veteran of Republican presidential politics dating to 1968. “Almost every one of them have a starting point. But there is no true front-runner.”

Last week I wrote about the 32 candidates the Republican National Committee recently mentioned and my own whittled-down list of 18. After another piece, in which I concluded that Jeb is indeed running, I've got it down to the three above. Here's how I get there:

If Jeb runs, and right now it looks like he is, he should vacuum up all the establishment money and talent. So that freezes out Mitt Romney, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, Ohio Gov. John Kasich (can't have two guys from Ohio anyway) and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (again, two from the same state).

So what about New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie? I'm afraid it's too late for him to turn back now, even though Jeb will be the establishment choice. Whither Christie? He'll probably run anyway, if only to be the frontrunner for 2020 in case Hillary wins.

The second Republican candidate could occupy the libertarian/tea party slot. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul may get challenged here by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, but I think Paul will own the space based on the fact that he's been running since 2010 and will also benefit from his father's infrastructure.

Finally, I think there's a place for a family values/Christian conservative/culture warrior like former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. He might get some early competition from former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum but Huck is the Real Deal. (He's already making noises about things like same-sex marriage; that should give the establishment a migraine!)

Three other hopefuls, Dr. Ben Carson, former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton and New York Rep. Peter King are what you might call "vanity" candidates.

And the four governors who are expected to jump in the race, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker might just be running for -- well, I don't know -- vice president? 2020? (I think Perry will run if nothing else to rehabilitate his reputation. Even if he gets crushed, which is likely, at least he can put in a few good debate performances and stop his name from being a punchline.)

As for Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, I think he's happy as House Ways and Means Committee chairman. (Also, remember that bit about two guys from one state.)

With the Republican Party's shortened calendar in 2016 (to prevent a long and drawn-out battle like last time), don't be too surprised if someone like Huck catches fire in Iowa and South Carolina and sprints to the nomination. If Paul wins in New Hampshire, Jeb could find himself 0-for-3 in the early going. Then watch the establishment panic! You don't want a long primary season this time around? Be careful what you wish for.

* P. S. Wearing a suit without a tie is not a good look. It's not presidential; if anything, it makes you look like a hostage or something.

That was a heck of a game...

...on Saturday between Stevenson and Glenbard West, one of the best I've ever seen. In case you didn't hear, the Patriots won, 7-3, and will now play Homewood-Flossmoor (again) in the 8A final in Champaign, above.

The Hilltoppers led, 3-0, on a second-quarter field goal until less than a minute remaining when Stevenson scored from four yards out after an 89-yard two-minute drill led by senior quarterback Willie Bourbon. But the game wasn't over until Stevenson intercepted a Kyle Kramer pass in the end zone on a fourth-and-the season play following his outstanding two-minute drill. It was really exciting!

From the Sun-Times:

Glenbard West had seven possessions inside the Patriots’ 20-yard line. During one 11-play stretch in the fourth quarter, the teams combined for five turnovers.

And from the Tribune:

Stevenson threw four interceptions, committed seven personal fouls and, through 47 minutes, did not score a point.

Stevenson came up with five turnovers of its own and stopped Glenbard West inside the 20 four times, including twice in the final 3 minutes, 6 seconds.

After the game was finally over (which I watched online -- too rainy) I hopped in my car and drove down to Gately Park to see Phillips beat Coal City, 26-6, and advance to the 4A state championship for the first time ever. (And, yes, I bought some cookies from that lady outside -- chocolate chunk. How can you not?)

The contest was pretty much over by the time I got there, though, as the Wildcats were up, 20-6, early in the second quarter. I saw one more touchdown before a scoreless second half. (Remember what I said last week about the Bronzeville squad playing four quarters; they'll have to do that next week against mighty Rochester.) It was a beautiful night, however, as the mercury topped fifty degrees -- a pleasant way to end the season!

But the high point of the game for me (heck, the year) was when a guy I had previously met at the Naperville North - Phillips game back in September tentatively approached me at halftime.

"Can I ask you a question?" he said. "Are you Mike Clark from the Sun-Times?"

I laughed. "No, but thanks."

"You kind of look like him and you seem to know a lot about high school football. I've seen you tweeting and figured you had to be a journalist or something."

Just a blogger, I wanted to say.

"No," I repeated. "Mike Clark is much better-looking than me -- and younger. But thanks, again, for the compliment."

It made my day.

Now, adding Coal City to my total, that makes 23 teams for me this year, and 18 games in 13 weeks. (It was an off-year; I think I saw 26 tilts last year.) Four of those schools are going to Champaign -- my Final Four -- and here's how I would rank them, after the top four from the news services.

MaxPreps

1. Stevenson (13-0)
2. Providence (12-1)
3. Glenbard West (12-1)
4. Loyola (10-3)

Chicago Tribune

1. Stevenson (13-0)
2. Providence (12-1)
3. Cary-Grove (13-0)
4. Nazareth (13-0)

Sun-Times

1. Stevenson (13-0)
2. Cary-Grove (13-0)
3. Glenbard West (12-1)
4. Nazareth (13-0)

BOWG

1. Providence (12-1)

Again, I still think the Celtics are the best team I've seen in 2014, especially after that thrashing they gave Mount Carmel at Gately on Saturday, of which I watched part online. (How on earth did Loyola beat these guys?) Could Providence defeat Stevenson? The world will never know. But I think the Celtics will make light work of Cary-Grove this weekend in Champaign. I didn't get a chance to see the Trojans this year (even online), but given their schedule, I can't help thinking of Mount Carmel's 30-0 rout of Lake Zurich in the 7A final last year. I expect something similar this Saturday.

2. Stevenson (13-0)

If you saw the game against Glenbard West on Saturday I'm afraid you've already seen the 8A championship. Those two squads were probably the best in the bracket (in the state?) and the Patriots came out on top somehow. This week's rematch with Homewood-Flossmoor could be anti-climactic, unless the Vikings make a game of it. Stevenson already beat H-F, 33-24, in Week Two on the road and should repeat at Memorial Stadium. I'll be watching it anyway, though, because the Patriots could be emotionally exhausted after that crazy game in Glen Ellyn.

3. Nazareth (13-0)

The Roadrunners will finally be tested this week, against Lemont, another undefeated No. 1 seed. It could be argued that the Indians, after a relatively "favorable" regular-season schedule, had the tougher road to Champaign in the playoffs. Either way, this could be the best game of the day on Saturday. (Although that Montini - Sacred Heart-Griffin rematch in 5A from last year should be good too!)

4. Phillips (12-1) 

The Chicago Public League is sending a team to Champaign! And what a good one it is. But the Wildcats will face the Rochester Rockets and head coach Derek Leonard. The downstate team is no stranger to postseason play (they're shooting for a five-peat -- yes, you read that right) and will give Phillips its best game since Carmel in Week Three. 

Check back later in the week for all my pregame analyses.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Still not sure...

...if President Obama's action on immigration is a net-plus for Democrats? Just watch these two videos of Congressman Luis Gutiérrez, above, and the journalist Jose Diaz Balart, below.

Can't you tell how elated they both are? Just picture five million immigrants -- and their families and friends -- feeling even more so. 

Now, I know what you're thinking: Yeah, but imagine how angry some of the tea partiers are! True, but those individuals would never vote Democratic in a million years anyway. And, besides, they're already angry and mobilized. But the friends and relatives of the five million people affected by the president's action are now also motivated to vote -- and vote for the president's party. (What is that, five million people? Ten million? More?) And they will be for a long, long time.

The New Yorker cartoon of the day:


“Are these the Top Ten Commandments?”

In another reminder...

... of how good it is to be an American, the Duchess of Alba, María del Rosario Cayetana Alfonsa Victoria Eugenia Francisca Fitz-James Stuart y de Silva, died at age 88. According to her obit in the Times:

The flamboyant Spanish aristocrat was known for her lifestyle, her vast wealth, her art collection and her unmatched list of more than 40 titles, largely inherited through ancestors’ marriages. She was recognized by Guinness World Records as the noble with the most official titles in the world.

Certain privileges came with her status as head of the five-century-old House of Alba. She did not have to kneel before the pope, for example, and she had the right to ride on horseback into Seville Cathedral.

If I can't ride a horse into Seville Cathedral, then you can't either. No exceptions.

The Name of the Day...

...belongs to Harland Cecil Stonecipher, an insurance salesman who died at age 76. From his obit in the Times:

His sharecropping family was so poor, he said, that its only running water was water he ran outside to get.

In a new poll...

...from NBC News/Wall Street Journal, 48 percent oppose President Obama taking executive action on immigration while only 38 percent support it.

Meanwhile, in a recent Gallup poll, 56 percent of Americans -- a new high -- say they disapprove of the Affordable Care Act while only 37 percent approve.

But isn't that the mark of a great president? Someone who takes the right positions regardless of the polls?

Republicans are apoplectic...

...over President Obama's actions on immigration for three reasons:

1. This guy is still acting uppity! The President is unbowed after the recent midterm elections;

2. It's a big win for Obama; and

3. It cements the Latino vote for Democrats for a generation.

All that other huffing and puffing is just for show.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Name of the Day...

...belongs to Jacques Gabillion, the head of Goldman’s global commodities principal investment group.

Looks like Jim Webb...

...is running for president. I'd be willing to listen, but "angry" doesn't win elections.

For what it's worth, PaddyPower has the former senator from Virginia at 40/1 odds to win the Democratic nomination in 2016, behind John Kerry (25/1), Deval Patrick (33/1) and even Evan Bayh (33/1).

P. S. Webb has also been married three times. His current spouse is Hong Le Webb, a Vietnamese-American who is twenty-two years his junior.

Across the street...

...from my house last week.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

I guess it's been mentioned...

...already elsewhere, but in case you missed it, the Vikings played the Wolverines only once in recent years (if ever). Home team in CAPS:

2013: HOMEWOOD-FLOSSMOOR 27, Simeon 13

The New Yorker cartoon of the day:

“I just hope people in the future are, like, ‘What the hell are these things?’ ”

How often do you get to see...

...two undefeated teams, at 12-0, ranked Nos. 1 and 2 in the Tribune, Sun-Times and MaxPreps*, who have never played each other, in a setting as lovely as Duchon Field (above) in leafy Glen Ellyn? Not too often. So how could you even consider missing Stevenson at Glenbard West this Saturday? It should be everyone's Game of the Week. Heck, let's face it: it's the Game of the Year. And weather permitting -- and assuming I can get a ticket -- I'll be there. 

Now what can I possibly say about these two teams that hasn't already been said?

Well, first of all, Duchon Field won't look like that on Saturday. (I took that picture in August, before the first game of the season against Wheaton Warrenville South.) In fact, it won't look anything at all like that. The forecast for Glen Ellyn right now is a high of 47 degrees with a 60 percent chance of rain. So, as Mike Helfgot noted in the Tribune, it could be muddy. (Glenbard West has one of the last grass fields in the area -- I was told it's because it's in a flood plain -- and no lights.) So we may be kickin' it old school. And that's kind of a shame, really, because I'd like to see both teams at their best.

Which brings me to another thought: if it's raining on Saturday I may just watch this thing on -- horrors! -- my computer. Duchon Field is small so I'd have to get there early, like an hour early. And if it's raining, do I really want to sit there for an hour before the kickoff? The question answers itself. (Although there was a time, not too long ago, when I would have immediately answered, "Heck yes!")

So I may be watching the contest online (and toggling back and forth with the Providence - Mount Carmel game) but still holding out hope that I can drive down to Gately for the 3:45 kickoff of the Coal City - Phillips tilt. (The Homewood-Flossmoor - Simeon nightcap will have to take place without me; Saturday is my 28th anniversary.)

Now, as for the teams themselves, well, I can't believe I can uncover any information that hasn't been widely disseminated already. The visiting Patriots beat ten winning teams this year. Wow! (Only Zion-Benton and Mundelein failed to qualify for the postseason.) And two of those squads, Libertyville and H-F, are still very much alive in the playoffs. What if the Pats meet up again with the Vikings in Champaign for the 8A final?

Here's another look at Stevenson's 2014 schedule (home team in CAPS):

STEVENSON 35, Indian Trail (WI) 0
Stevenson 33, HOMEWOOD-FLOSSMOOR 24
Stevenson 33, Warren 20 (Neutral field.)
STEVENSON 34, Lake Forest 17
Stevenson 21, LAKES 3
Stevenson 21, LAKE ZURICH 0
Stevenson 41, ZION-BENTON 0
STEVENSON 42, Mundelein 6
Stevenson 34, LIBERTYVILLE 14
STEVENSON 21, Lyons 17
STEVENSON 24, Loyola 21
STEVENSON 38, New Trier 10

Now, what's interesting to me about Glenbard West is that, for the first time (that I know of), the Hilltoppers are competing in 8A. (And doing just fine, thank you.) So Glenbard West and Stevenson haven't played a lot of the same teams over the years.

In 2014 the Hitters, as they like to call themselves (doesn't every team think they're the toughest around? See: Chicago Catholic League), have beaten eight winning teams. Only Morton, Downers Grove North, Proviso West and York finished the season with losing records.  

Lyons was the only common opponent for Stevenson and Glenbard West, and they both beat them by similar scores.

Here's the Hilltoppers' full schedule:

GLENBARD WEST 21, Wheaton Warrenville South 10
Glenbard West 42, MORTON 0
GLENBARD WEST 38, Downers Grove North 0
GLENBARD WEST 28, Lyons 14
Glenbard West 42, HINSDALE CENTRAL 7
GLENBARD WEST 28, Oak Park and River Forest 14
Glenbard West 49, PROVISO WEST 10
GLENBARD WEST 33, Addison Trail 15
Glenbard West 48, YORK 7
GLENBARD WEST 34, Fremd 14
Glenbard West 41, PALATINE 7
GLENBARD WEST 28, Barrington 21

Now before I get into who's going to win on Saturday, here's a couple of things you may not have known about these two schools. First, Stevenson was the alma mater of Ron Goldman, who, along with Nicole Brown Simpson, was killed in 1994 in Los Angeles. In the "trial of the century," O. J. Simpson was acquitted of the murders, but later found liable for Goldman's death in a civil trial.

On a lighter note, Glenbard West is the alma mater of actor Sean Hayes. As a teenager, Hayes was an extra in the film Lucas (1986), which was filmed at Glenbard West.

So who wins this game? I'm going to go with Stevenson, for a couple of reasons. First, that schedule: I mean, come on, victories over H-F, Libertyville and Loyola? (Although it could be argued that Glenbard West's is just as impressive: wins over Wheaton Warrenville South, Hinsdale Central and Barrington.) But I just think it's Stevenson's year. They really impressed me in that game against Loyola. Also, the Patriots have never won a state championship in football or basketball, and I think it's high time they brought a trophy back to Lincolnshire.

If I make it out to the game -- a big "if" -- I'll be live-tweeting it @BoringOldWhtGuy. And if I should happen to see you there, I'll buy you a hot dog from that guy selling them in Lake Ellyn Park.

* But only Nos. 2 and 3 in BOWG.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Name of the Day...

...belongs to Don Bacigalupi, the founding president of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, planned for Chicago's lakefront.

And I thought that was just a name made up by Abbott and Costello.

Marlon Brando attended...

...Libertyville High School but didn't graduate.

Brando was at Libertyville from 1938 to 1940:

"I was one of the bad boys of the school," Brando wrote, noting that his status as a farmer further made him an outcast.

Former classmate Joe Sprey told biographer Peter Manso in his 1994 book "Brando: The Biography," that "as a freshman, Bud was as mature as many seniors, and by this I mean he was able to understand human frailties, bullyism, values. Many of the kids in our class had an agricultural background, and they were unsophisticated. So they talked about him as crazy."

Of that time, Brando wrote: "I always had friends, boys as well as girls, but I was anathema to many of my teachers and the parents of many of my friends, some of whom treated me as if I were poison . . . I was a bad student, chronic truant and all-around incorrigible. I was forever being sent to the principal's office to be disciplined."

Brando was later expelled from Libertyville for riding his motorcycle through the corridors.

Jimmy John Liautaud, founder and owner of Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwiches, attended Cary-Grove High School but didn't graduate.

After Jimmy John Liautaud graduated second to last in his class at Elgin Academy (1982), his father gave him the choice to join the military or start a business. Liautaud eventually chose to start a business and accepted his father's $25,000 loan to start a hot dog business, with the son owning 52% of the business, and his father owning 48%. He soon realized that a hot dog business would cost more than he had, so he decided to open a sandwich shop.
 
On January 13, 1983, the first Jimmy John's opened in a garage in Charleston, Illinois (above). Paying $200 a month in rent, Liautaud could afford only used equipment consisting of a refrigerator, a chest freezer, an oven and a meat slicer. Liautaud soon started delivering his sandwiches to the students of Eastern Illinois University.

In April 1985, Liautaud bought out his father's interest in the business, becoming the sole owner. He opened his second store in Macomb, Illinois and two years later opened his third in Champaign, Illinois. Liautaud later opened several more stores and developed a prototype before beginning franchising in 1993.

I didn't see anything about either of them playing football in high school. But their respective schools will meet this Saturday at 3:00 in Libertyville. As far as I can tell, the two programs have only played once in the last ten years (home team in CAPS):

2004: LIBERTYVILLE 13, Cary-Grove 3

Has St. Francis ever been...

...to Nazareth? Yes, once, in 2007.

And Nazareth has played at St. Francis twice in the last ten years.

Here are the results (home team in CAPS):

2008: ST. FRANCIS 42, Nazareth 20
2007: St. Francis 28, NAZARETH 27
2006: Nazareth 27, ST. FRANCIS 13

Monday, November 17, 2014

Whoa! Suddenly, Jeb Bush...

...is in first place, at 7/2 odds, for the Republican nomination on Paddy Power, the Irish betting website. (Rand Paul and Marco Rubio are tied for second, at 11/2.) That must mean Bush is running.

For what it's worth, Hillary Clinton is still the favorite for 2016, at 5/4 odds, vs. 7/1 for Jeb.

The New Yorker cartoon of the day:

Who the heck is Coal City?

Well, first of all, it's not that picture above. That's actually a photo of the Coal City Club in Coal City, West Virginia, taken back in 1974. But I'll bet it fits the image most Chicagoans have of the village.

Located about 62 miles southwest of Bronzeville, in Grundy and Will counties, the 2010 census put Coal City's population at 5,587, of which over 98 percent is white.

Not surprisingly, Coal City was named for several coal mines in the vicinity:

In 1820, Peter Lansett, a Canadian trader, was just one of the few that populated the soon to be Coal City area. Lansett collected coal from the ground and sold it to local blacksmiths and farmers, who formerly burned ears of corn for heat and energy. The more effective coal provided an economic boost for growth.

According to its Wikipedia page:

The little town of Coal City was mentioned in the classic comedy "The Blues Brothers." Elwood Blues (as played by Dan Aykroyd) explains that his brother Jake (John Belushi) was in prison for holding up a gas station, and then says "He pulled that job to pay for the band's room service tab from that Kiwanis gig in Coal City."

For years residents of Coal City wondered if Aykroyd really said "Coal City" or said "Cal City" (a nickname for Calumet City, a much bigger city in Illinois). However, when watching the DVD of Blues Brothers with subtitles on, the text says "Coal City."

However, from Calumet City's Wikipedia page:

Calumet City is featured or mentioned in a number of major movies. John Belushi's "Joliet Jake" and Dan Aykroyd's "Elwood" characters from "The Blues Brothers" were born in Calumet City, and so is the orphanage they grew up in which they save "on a mission from God" by paying $5000 in property taxes from a $10,000 record deal at their concert as well as "Ray's Music Exchange" that holds the famed Ray Charles "Shake Your Tail-Feather" scene of the movie, which was a tribute to Calumet City's Hegewisch Records Store.

I'll let you be the judge.

In the meantime, Coal City High School, with an enrollment of about 650 students, goes by the nickname Coalers and competes in the Interstate Eight Conference. The school is the alma mater of Greg Washburn (above), who pitched for the California Angels in 1969. He came up to the Bigs for "a cup of coffee," as my father used to say. Washburn was only on the team from June 7 to September 21 of that year. He compiled a won-loss record of 0-2 with an ERA of 7.94 and four strikeouts.

(By the way, that other guy in the baseball card above, Wally Wolf, didn't fare a whole lot better. He played for two seasons, appearing in two games during the 1969 season and four the next. Wolf's lifetime record was 0-0 with an equally high 7.04 ERA and seven strikeouts. I wonder where these two guys are today?)

As for the football team, the No. 7-seed Coalers (10-2) are coached by Lenny Onsen (above) and are ranked No. 57 in the state by MaxPreps, behind Glenbard North (4-5) and ahead of Lyons (5-5). In eight seasons at the helm, Onsen has compiled a record of 62-22. From an article in the Morris Daily Herald (my emphasis):

The current head coach of the Coalers, Lenny Onsen, was a member of the first varsity team the school fielded, so he has seen it grow from the start. He was on the coaching staff during the state title run of 1993 and head coach in the runner-up year of 2004. He has seen the building of a tradition from the ground up.

The school’s first varsity team was in 1978, when Onsen was a senior. He coached one year in Dwight, in 1987, before returning to Coal City in 1988 and has been there ever since. He even came back on weekends during college and worked on the chain gang.

“There is nothing like a small-town playoff game, and we’ve been fortunate enough to have quite a few of them,” he said. “We also hold our youth camp on the game field, just to let the young kids know that someday they can run through that tunnel with the fireworks going off. That creates a lot of excitement. We also get a lot of help from our Touchdown Club that feeds the kids on Wednesdays during the season and holds fundraisers. They are a big part of our tradition, too.”

Coal City played six winning teams this year, beating Plano (6-4), Mendota (6-4) and St. Edward (10-1). The Coalers lost (like everyone else this season) to Wilmington (12-0) and split two one-point games with Manteno (10-2). The two players to watch on offense are quarterback Nick Micetich (above) and running back Jack Dibble (below).

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

Coal City 27, REED-CUSTER 13
Wilmington 26, COAL CITY 7
COAL CITY 13, Peotone 0
Coal City 22, PLANO 13
Coal City 49, SANDWICH 14
COAL CITY 14, Streator 0
MANTENO 24, Coal City 23
Coal City 42, LISLE 7
COAL CITY 48, Seneca 0
COAL CITY 40, Mendota 14
Coal City 25, ST. EDWARD 20
COAL CITY 29, Manteno 28

Phillips, with which readers of this blog should be well acquainted by now, are 11-1 and ranked No. 15 in the Tribune, No. 19 in the Sun-Times and No. 25 by MaxPreps, behind Joliet Catholic (8-3) and ahead of Pearl City-Eastland (12-0).

While Coal City and Phillips have never faced each other, the two programs both beat Plano this year by similar scores.

So who wins this one? I'm going to stick with the Wildcats. Kickoff is at 3:45 at beautiful Gately Park on the city's South Side, wedged between the Providence - Mount Carmel game at noon and the Homewood-Flossmoor - Simeon contest at 7:15. The forecast right now is a (relatively) balmy 39 degrees and partly sunny. If you can't make it, I'll be live-tweeting the action for as long as my battery holds out @BoringOldWhtGuy.

Enjoy the game!

Fallen leaves...

...on West Lexington Street.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

I'm down to six teams...

...now that the quarterfinals are over.  

Lincoln-Way East, Bolingbrook, Wheaton Warrenville South and Sycamore all went down to defeat on Saturday. The only new team I saw, Rockford Lutheran, also fell. And after this coming week, at least two of my remaining six teams will be gone: Stevenson travels to Glenbard West while Mount Carmel hosts Providence. (Gee, I wonder what my two Games of the Week will be?)

I've seen 22 teams in all this year, and 17 games in 12 weeks. I think I can squeeze in two more.

On to the rankings:

MaxPreps

1. Stevenson (12-0)
2. Glenbard West (12-0)
3. Providence (11-1)
4. Loyola (9-3)
5. Peoria Notre Dame (12-0)
6. Nazareth (12-0)

Chicago Tribune

1. Stevenson (12-0)
2. Glenbard West (12-0)
3. Cary-Grove (12-0)
4. Providence (11-1)
5. Nazareth (12-0)
6. Simeon (11-1)

Sun-Times

1. Stevenson (12-0)
2. Glenbard West (12-0)
3. Cary-Grove (12-0)
4. Nazareth (12-0)
5. Providence (11-1)
6. Simeon (11-1)

BOWG

1. Providence (11-1)

I'm going to stick with the Celtics as my No. 1 team for at least one more week. I'll also say that Caravan Man (above) -- who only shows up when the game is on ice -- doesn't make an appearance this Saturday as Mount Carmel's Cinderella season comes to a screeching halt. (Now there's something I never thought I'd write -- using "Mount Carmel" and "Cinderella season" in the same sentence.)

I'll go one step further and say Provi takes Cary-Grove in the finals.

2. Stevenson (12-0)

If I can swing it, I'd really, REALLY like to see the Patriots play Glenbard West. Unlike Providence - Mount Carmel, these guys haven't met this year, if ever (and you can be sure I'll check on that). And I have absolutely no idea who would win. But Duchon Field in Glen Ellyn -- unlike Gately Park -- isn't that big, so if I go I'll have to arrive early. And if it's crazy cold, well, I'm just not sure I'll want to do that. Besides, a back-to-back doubleheader at Gately featuring Providence - Mount Carmel at noon followed by Coal City - Phillips at 3:45 might be just too good to pass up. Stay tuned.

3. Glenbard West (12-0) 

The winner of the Stevenson - Glenbard West game should take the whole enchilada in 8A.

4. Mount Carmel (8-4)

See above. The winner of the Providence - Mount Carmel game should win the 7A crown.

5. Nazareth (12-0)

Are these guys going to finish undefeated and 6A champs? No. 6-seed St. Francis, at 7-2 during the regular season, has been overlooked, kind of like Libertyville in 7A and Simeon in 8A. But I just don't see the Spartans beating the Roadrunners. The LaGrange squad is destined to meet up with another No. 1 seed in Champaign, either Lemont or Peoria Notre Dame.

6. Phillips (11-1) 

Once again, the Wildcats finished on top this week. No matter which game I go to first I'm almost sure I'll be at that 3:45 Coal City - Phillips kickoff at Gately. I don't know a thing about Coal City (I just like saying "Coal City") but can't wait to read up on the Coalers. It'll have to be my last game of the year; I just can't see sticking around for the Homewood-Flossmoor - Simeon game at 7:00 on my anniversary. Just wouldn't wash, as the Brits would say. But that's okay; it will be a perfect ending to a great season for me. 

And then, of course, there are the finals on TV Thanksgiving weekend.

This is the winningest coach...

...in the history of Illinois high school football moments after his team qualified for the semifinals. (That's not a Mount Carmel hat, though, is it?)

After entering the final game of the regular season with a 4-4 record, needing (and getting) a victory over Loyola, the Caravan has won three games in the postseason and is now on the verge of another trip downstate for the 7A crown. All they have to do is get past No. 1-seed Providence (12-1) next Saturday, a team that beat them, 33-14, in Week Three. (Is that all?)

In case you don't have access to the Internet, Mount Carmel overcame a 7-0 deficit in the first quarter yesterday to defeat Lincoln-Way East, 20-7, at Gately Park on the city's South Side. Coach Frank Lenti and the Caravan are now 3-0 lifetime against the Griffins.

After the game Lenti was quoted as saying, in classic "coach-ese" (my emphasis):

“I’m just extremely proud of the way the team has hung in their, fought through adversity and are playing Mount Carmel football.”

My buddy Kevin and I then hightailed it to Top Notch Beefburgers on 95th Street in Beverly to eat a couple of burgers and decompress.

Kev went home afterward, but I returned to Gately for the nightcap.


And what a nightcap it was! Phillips, led by quarterback Dewayne Collins (with the ball) and wide receiver Quayvon Skanes (no. 9), defeated No. 1-seed and previously unbeaten Rockford Lutheran, 14-13, in a nail-biter. (Sorry about that blurry picture above. As I was walking to my seat before the kickoff someone next to me called out to Collins. He turned around quickly and I took the shot without getting a chance to get set.)

According to the Sun-Times:

It was a history making event as Phillips joined Simeon as two teams advanced to the semifinals from the Public League for the first time in state history.

And more "coach-ese," this time from Phillips coach Troy McAllister:

"We got off to a great start and hung on against a great team. I knew it was going to come down to turnovers and special teams."

Don't coaches ever get tired of saying stuff like that? 

But it was true; Phillips got off to a quick and early first quarter lead of 14-0 before the Crusaders got on the board early in the second quarter. After a scoreless third period (and most of the fourth), Rockford Lutheran recovered a Phillips fumble at the Wildcats' 42-yard line and scored on fourth-and-the season to make it 14-13 with just 1:38 left in the contest. As I had mentioned earlier on Twitter, I smelled overtime but the Rockford Lutheran kicker missed the extra point, wide right. Pandemonium on the Phillips side!

But wait; Rockford Lutheran recovered the ensuing onside kick! But they were called for off-sides! And Phillips fell on the next onside kick. Wildcats won, 14-13, and now advance to the semis against the Coal City Coalers (who?). It was thrilling!

But a few observations. Phillips can't sit on a lead next week, if they get one. This is crunch-time; it may be "coach-ese" to say this, but it's true: you have to play four quarters. And Collins has to avoid getting sacked for big losses. He needs to learn to either throw the ball away or just make a run for it. He can't make mistakes like that in the semifinals.

As for the game itself, there was quite a bit more passing than I anticipated. (And more penalties, too.) I really didn't know what to expect from Rockford Lutheran, but I certainly didn't think their stud running back, James Robinson, would be limited to only 42 yards rushing. 

Next week, as I said, is Providence at Mount Carmel and Coal City at Phillips. (Both games at Gately again?) Glenbard West also takes on Stevenson in Glen Ellyn so I'll just have to wait and see how the scheduling comes out.