Preps Talk

Random News: Annoying 'Madness' personalities

Random News: Annoying 'Madness' personalities

Tuesday, March, 1, 2011
9:33 a.m.

By Joe Collins
CSNChicago.com

I am beyond all help when it comes to playing Words With Friends on my iPhone. I am a junkie. The game is taking over every second of my free time. Sometimes Ill have 10 games going on at once. Its sad. If you are unfamiliar with Words With Friends, it is a Scrabble-like game where you get seven lettered tiles (as does your opponent) and you make words based on the letters given and build off each other. Its incredibly addictive.

However, as with most things in life, there are certain 'W-W-F' annoyances you have to deal with. For example, you need the CIA to track certain opponents. Theyll make a move and then fall off the face of the earth for five days. Id start checking dumpsters looking for these people, but Im not sure I care that much. Another annoyance: you might end up getting paired with an intellectual snob who plays words like coz, qi, ag and aa. Yes, according to Words With Friends, aa is a word. I think theres a joke there but Im not going to touch it. Anyway, you take the good with the bad. 98 of the action is fun but you have to put up with the occasional tool every now and then.

March Madness is kind of the same way.

In a few weeks, your family, office or social network of choice will be distributing NCAA tournament brackets. For the sports fan, it might as well be your birthday, New Years Eve, and any Friday afternoon all wrapped into one shining moment. We love the promise and the potential of a clean bracket sheet. We think that we can predict who the next George Mason or Butler will be. Heck, I even likened my wedding invitation list to the NCAA selection committee. Even the passive fans get caught up in the excitement. The office water cooler talk actually shifts momentarily from the weather to the crazy upset that happened the night before. Its an exciting time. And your bracket is never in shambles until the team you picked to win it all goes down in defeat. Theres always hope.

But even Bracket Nation has its share of troublemakers. March Madness is, and will always be, one of the greatest events in sports. But there are five types of people in our NCAA pool that we would rather have eliminated:

The Guy With 20 Brackets

Ugh. It's overkill. This guy is so wrong on so many levels (both literally and figuratively...and we hope he's 0-for-20 when the tournament's over). The 20 bracket guy will never feel bad about losing his final four on his family pool, you know--the one through his dads cousins sons office, because he has 19 others to fall back on. And hell make light of the fact that, although he is getting torched in eight other brackets, he is still in 1,381st place on some national pool with a 100,000 grand prize payout. This guy ends every game with, Dude I called that one! Its not all doom and gloom though, because we all know that the 20 Bracket Guy never wins. And he has to put a third mortgage on the house or sell a kidney or two come April to break even.

The Bracket Novice

This sports gumshoe has Texas Southern, Cincinnati, Vermont and Long Beach State in the Final Four. They also have some interesting upsets, like Kansas losing to McNeese Statein the regional semifinal. Also noted, is their distaste for Duke head coach Mike Krizzy-zew-ski and the fact that their school, Northeastern Maryland State-Havre De Grace Campus, didnt make it into the field. These people are usually harmless until they successfully pick a six seed to win it all. Then the expletives get as loud and distasteful as a Bruce Pearl garage sale.

The Guy Who Picks With His HeartAnd Not His Brain

These people are the best to make fun of come tourney time. And the more hardcore the fan, the better chance for side-splitting comedy. I had a friend of a friend pick Notre Dame to go to the final four last year. I thought it was an interesting pick. Not that it was an insane pick, it was justinteresting. This guy gave me a Zapruder film-esque breakdown of why 6-seed Notre Dame could make it there. I bought it until, out of curiosity, I asked him where he went to school. Notre Dame he says. Then the first round happened: Old Dominion 51, Notre Dame 50. Cue the torches.

Johnny 12-5 Upset Expert

This is also the surly goof that will pitch a fit at the blackjack table if you dont split eights against a king. Yeah, sometimes it workssometimes it doesnt. Johnny 12-5 Upset Expert megaphones to you (and everyone within earshot) about the need to pick the 12 against a 5. What Johnny fails to realize is, while there have been a good number of 12 seeds that have broken through in the first round (roughly 1 in 3 to be exact), the majority go win the first game and potentially have stellar tournaments. Johnny always has a system for picking upsets. Dont even get him started on the 11-6 or the 10-7 scenarios.

The Office Pool Winner

Because your 20 is now in their wallet. Just like last year.

And the year before that.

Or something like that.

42 Days to Kickoff: Glenbard East

glenbardeast0612.png
NBC Sports Chicago

42 Days to Kickoff: Glenbard East

NBCSportsChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting Aug. 5, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 30.

School: Glenbard East

Head coach: John Walters 

Assistant coaches: Bob Stone (OC), Tony Bartolotta (OL), Joe Cristina (WR), Brian Fetterolf (RB), Steve Kuchefski (OL), Tiff Hamilton (DL), Jim Walker (DL), Maurice Mason (OLB), Jeff Cherry (DC) and Dennis Lueck (DB)

How they fared in 2018: 10-1 (9-0 Upstate 8 Conference). Glenbard East made the Class 7A IHSA state football playoff field and defeated Prospect. In the second round, they lost to East St. Louis.

2019 regular season schedule:

Aug. 30 @ Elgin

Sept. 6 vs Bartlett

Sept. 13 @ West Chicago

Sept. 20 @ Fenton

Sept. 27 vs South Elgin

Oct. 4 vs East Aurora

Oct. 11 @ Streamwood

Oct. 18 vs Glenbard South

Oct. 25 vs Larkin

Biggest storyline: Last season was one of the most successful seasons in Glenbard East football history. Can the Rams keep the momentum going this fall?

Names to watch this season: S Jason Torrevillas (Sr.) and WR Deon Cook (Sr.)

Biggest holes to fill: The Rams will need to replace 16 graduated starters from last year's roster.

EDGY's Early Take: Glenbard East made the state playoffs in 2018 for just the second time in school history. The Rams will need to reload quite a bit on both sides of the football, yet Walters’ football program has never been in better shape— both from an overall excitement level and community involvement. The 2019 schedule also gives the Rams better than a fighting chance to make a potential state playoff bid this season. 

Mike Montgomery is going where the Cubs couldn't take him in Kansas City

Mike Montgomery is going where the Cubs couldn't take him in Kansas City

Tonight, former Cubs pitcher Mike Montgomery makes his debut with his new team, the Kansas City Royals. The Royals are 24.5 games out of first place, even after they won seven out of their last 10. The Cubs are riding a nice stretch in the second half and expect nothing short of a division title and a championship.

So, why would Montgomery want to leave Chicago and go to a team that is going nowhere?

Because he believes his career can go somewhere the Cubs weren’t taking him.

After throwing the golden pitch that clinched the World Series for the Cubs in 2016, he has filled many roles for the team. He starts, he relieves, he closes, he sets up, he is situational, he waits, he pitches hurt, he does what the team needs to be done to help. And for two years, he appeared in 44 and 38 games respectively, with 14 and 19 starts in those years. 

For his entire minor league career, he was a starter and when he broke in, he also started for a while in Seattle. Then in 2016, he went to the pen. But he never lost the confidence that he could be a consistent starter in a major league rotation. 

Montgomery just turned 30 years old, a new father, and there is nothing like age and family to provide clarity about how short and temporary a career can be, especially for a pitcher. 

He got hurt this year, and probably wondered if being endlessly available contributed to his health issues. It takes a toll to always be ready, especially as you get older. Predictability can be comforting, helpful at times to gaining a rhythm, and a way to take care of your body knowing you have some recovery time built in. 

At 30, the window starts to close slowly but inevitably. His time to establish himself as a starter is yesterday and because he has struggled in a utility role in 2019, he is going the wrong way for his career. He is now getting a label as a lefty that can’t get lefties out, but is not a starter either. The pigeonholing has begun.

He has to fight it, quickly and he can with this bold move. Asking out.

Not from the Cubs, but from how the Cubs are using him in 2019. He has decided that he can’t afford to sit back for the glory of oneness and hope they will take care of him on the other side. By this time in his career, he knows how expendable players are in the grand scheme. That the phone will not ring one day, you will become a memory, and even being a great memory can’t stop you from being inevitably sent home.

He knows that it is not a fair exchange to sacrifice health, opportunity and long-term security to be an insurance policy that may never get claimed. Being in that role is casting a shadow over getting handed the ball every fifth day with a chance to eat up innings and waltz into longer term security for his career and his family. It starts to not add up, especially when you already have a ring in your trophy case.

In 2003, I was traded to the Cubs from the Texas Rangers on July 30th. After recovering from an injury, I hit .389 with a .528 slugging, and a .925 OPS in July. I was on absolute fire. At 32 years old, the turnaround was happening, my one-year free agent contract was about to grow into something more if I got my 200+ at bats in the second half. 

While I was rolling along, the Rangers were 44-63 on July 30th, going nowhere, but I was going somewhere up. So I thought. 

The phone rang and the general manager of the Rangers, John Hart called to let me know he had traded me to the Cubs. Poof. Just like that. By the time I got to the locker room to get my stuff and say good bye to my Rangers’ teammates, my boxes were packed, my jerseys were gone. Poof.

Sure, the Cubs were in the race, but they were around .500 when I arrived. They had signed a bunch of veteran players whose starting days were behind them. In my case, Kenny Lofton was the guy in centerfield, which turned me into a bench player from an everyday centerfielder instantly. Not because I wasn’t doing the job in Texas, but because the Cubs needed me to do a lesser job. Lofton played almost every day and in the second half of that season, after the trade, I got 51 at bats. In 28 games. 

Not a great way to find another job after the season. But I had bought in, Dusty Baker communicated well to me and since I had never been in the playoffs, I kept my mouth shut and followed. 

We would go all the way to Game 7 to the NLCS and despite the ending, it was an exhilarating experience. Once in a lifetime. Truly special, but along the ride, no one could guarantee me any of that. Just as easily, the Cubs could have collapsed and I would have been on the bench for a team on the road to rebuilding. And they wouldn’t do it with a 33-year-old veteran centerfielder with a bad hamstring.

I did get my magic hit in the NLCS after sitting on the bench for weeks and when the season ended, Dusty Baker called me personally to express that he wanted me back. I was hoping the silver lining was that some free agent team would see that I could be a clutch performer when it counted. I was happy to get his call, but when all was said and done, he did not have the power to grant me that wish. The phone never rang from Chicago again and I ended up making the Phillies squad in 2004, barely hanging on to my career. 

At 33, I was now a caddy to Marlon Byrd and other young outfielders for the entire season. 162 at bats in 87 games. My career was dead in the water, my coaching career seemed to be growing in front of my eyes, against my will.

Of course, I thought about how I could have played better, I could have made a different decision in free agency and stayed in Philly or signed with Tampa. Those were options, but I bet on myself to go to Texas and regain starter status and after I came back from injury, I did just that. But my age was creeping up and the Rangers had little incentive to keep an aging singles hitter on a team that was fighting for last place. 

Two years after that trade, the phone stopped ringing and by the time it did ring after the Yankees released me, I had taken it off of the hook anyway. I saw the game passing me by. I wanted to start a family. It still stung to see a couple of players get rewarded with multi-year deals who I later learned were in the Mitchell Report for being associated with PEDs, one of which I helped get back to health while I was in Texas. 

So it is a tough question to ask yourself. Would you take the slim chance of winning a World Series as a bench player knowing your career may be shortened 2-3 years? Or would you seek an opportunity to keep playing every day or frequently with a chance to extend your career and have more time to find a way to be on a contender later? 

We only get one career, one shot at it. The greater glory matters, the ring is king and I will always long for the ring I never obtained. But I also learned about what can happen after you are that hired gun, or after you stay silent and accept the role the team thinks is best for them when it starts to run counter to what you believe you can do. It can sound selfish, true, but a player watches how other players are treated, not just how they are personally treated. I played with Ryan Howard when he first came up with the Phillies and years later, covering him with ESPN, he came over and said “Now, I know how you felt in 2004 at the end of your career.” Long memories.

Once a season ends where you were marginalized (even when it is because you played poorly), your career may not recover. So with the Cubs trading Montgomery, they were looking out for him in a way, something they did not have to do, and it is a funny game, he could be back one day.

Only time will tell, but as Montgomery expressed. “It’s bittersweet.” 

Bitter because he wanted to stay and have it all. Be on a contender and be a starter. That was no longer an option. 

Sweet because it was a great chapter in his career, he won, and now he can focus on being the pitcher he believes he can be, not what a team needs him to be. 

In baseball, there is nothing like proving someone wrong …

Or proving yourself right.