Cubs

Random News of the Day: Wedding Brackets

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Random News of the Day: Wedding Brackets

Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011
8:58 a.m.

By Joe Collins
CSNChicago.com

Guys know sports. We eat, sleep and breathe them. We love and respect the games, the players, the competition, the hype and the excitement. They make us who we are and we can never get enough. We love talking about the MVP-performance we watched on TV the night before, or the MVP-performances we say we had back in school. We love talking complex strategy, like why you should bunt a speedy runner over to second when you have a solid lefty hitter on deck. And we also like turning everyday situations into something, anything, that is sports related: placing basketball nets over the garbage can, folding papers into triangles so you can kickflick field goals, throwing snowballs as if we were the next Roy Halladayyou name it. And when were in uncharted waters, its relieving to know that we can always channel the sports world to put us back in a safe harbor.

And for guys, nowhere is this more apparent than in wedding planning.

You see, I am in the selecting a type of wedding invitation phase with my fiance. Obviously, this is her domain. Its all her on this. And frankly, thats the way it should be. I feel about as out of place as the Ernest Goes To Camp producers were on Oscar night, 1988. We got through two of those gigantic invitation selection books and declared that the ball was in her court from that point forward (haonce again: sports references make it easier). But as we were discussing our invitation list, along with the differences between Esperanza and Monotype Corsiva fonts, I fell into a sports trance and had a vision: a wedding invitation list is a clone of the selection process for the NCAA basketball tournament. Guys: if you have gone the marital distance, or if youre in the wedding on-deck circle (like me), or if youve ever filled out an NCAA bracket before, then you can relate to the following. Picture what a wedding looks like. Now merge it with March Madness. It should look something like this:

1 Seeds: Bride, groom, best man, maid of honor - The ones that go the distance. Theyre the teams that have consistently met the challenge in the past and the ones most likely to stick with you all the way to the end.

2 Seeds: Parents Of the Bride And Groom - When making a wedding invitation list, placing these teams anywhere below a 2-seed would be an outrage.

3 Seeds: The Rest Of The Wedding Party - These people are likely to be very good friends and family members. Sure, you might have a 3-seed who plows through too many whiskey sours and falls victim to The Electric Slide by the end of the night, but heyupsets happen.

4 Seeds: Most Aunts, Uncles & Grandparents - They earned their ticket to the big dance. Some made it because of their names alone. We all have the consistent Uncle North Carolina and an Aunt Wisconsin in our family, right? And sometimes theres a Grandpa Gonzaga that comes around and becomes the life of the party.

5 Seeds: Everyday Friends - Solid, loyal and fun to be around. Theyre a must-invite. But as weve seen in the NCAA tournament in recent years, a lot of five seeds have been known to turn sour. Decide which ones can will show up down the road in life and proceed with guarded optimism.

6 Seeds: Cousins - Most are very deserving of the invite. The party wouldnt be the same without themespecially if one of them can distract the banquet hall manager so that extra booze can be sent in through the side door.

7 Seeds: Friends From Work - Great group, albeit somewhat unpredictable. They deserve the invite because theyve fought in the trenches with you day in and day out.

8 Seeds: Bulk Family - Something you could buy at Costco? Maybe. Anyway, bulk family refers to the other family members you see 2-3 times a year: not necessarily the distant relativesbut the ones with names you actually remember (which is a problem for me at times). In the NCAAs, the 8-9 game is usually one of the more entertaining games because they beat each other up so much that they usually have nothing left when they match up against the 1 seed. Kind of brings you back to a heated argument at Thanksgiving dinner, eh?

9 Seeds: (See 8 Seeds)

10 Seeds: High School Friends - As we all know, high school is a popularity contest. In March Madness the 10 seeds are popular picks, not only because they can get past the first round, but also ones that can wreak havoc for 2 seeds (look out, parents of the bride and groom: high school friends tend to know how to party). High school friends at a wedding are like Butler in the NCAA big dance: old school, fun, predictable, yet kind of annoying if people start overcrowding their bandwagon.

11 Seeds: The Wedding Connoisseur - The 11 seed comes to the wedding and automatically megaphones, So this table is the cool tableright? Good people, but you could do without them. Theyre fancy themselves as good Lambada dancers. Fun for some, unsettling for most.

12 Seeds: The Family Black Sheep - Probably doesnt deserve an invite, especially because they are the odds-on favorite to dive through the wedding cake like its a Guns N Roses video. Yes, the black sheep invite is one that is somewhat out of obligation and yes, they probably wont stay past the first dance, but theres also a good chance that they provide some visual ribaldry. (Note: keep these people away from a live microphone)

13 Seeds: The Wedding Personnel - What? We need to reserve a dinner spot for the photographer? Cant we just sneak them a few dinner rolls?

14 Seeds: Any Wedding Crasher - Frankly, you have no idea who these people arebut they always seem to make the dance more exciting. After 10 minutes, especially if theyre creating a lot of fun, you stop questioning why they showed up.

15 Seeds: Your Childhood Friends That You Havent Seen Since 1995 - It goes like this: you know how you catch up with someone you havent seen in years, and the conversations really exciting for the first few minutes, but it always falls flat soon after because you both realize you have nothing in common anymore? Thats the 15 seed for you. They cant go the distance. Nothing says wedding fun like comparing your childhood friends to, oh, Austin Peay.

16 Seeds: Your Second Cousin Owen From Pittsburgh - Owen, not to mention your other second cousins from Sioux Falls, have no reason being at the dance. Theyre on the obligatory invite list solely because of conference tie-ins (in a wedding sense, it means they happen to have the same last name as you).

Oh, and Im sure you might be saying, Whoawait? What about the NIT Tournament? I have that covered too! Here are the wedding NIT teams that should never make it to the big dance: ex-boyfriends, ex-girlfriends, ex-cons, the gun enthusiast uncle whos also a fan of the open bar, Carrot Top, Charlie Sheen, your parole officer, your therapist, the one cousin who smells like taco mix and Dane Cook.

Whether its planning a wedding, a funeral even a day at jury duty, sports can always be mixed in. Just take it one game (or wedding invitation shop) at a time.

Or something like that.

Glanville: Fall to Spring - A player’s offseason changes meaning with each changing season

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USA TODAY

Glanville: Fall to Spring - A player’s offseason changes meaning with each changing season

A few weeks after the we (the Cubs) were eliminated from the 2003 playoffs, I got a phone call from my college professor. Since it was officially the off-season, I was in the early stages of a break from following a pocket schedule to tell me where to be every day for nearly eight months.

But this was a man I could not refuse. I chose my college major to go into his field of transportation engineering and he was calling because he needed a teaching assistant to accompany him on his trip to South Africa.

One minute I could barely move off of my couch in my Chicago apartment after losing Game 7 against the Marlins. The next minute, I would be standing within miles of the Southern most point in Africa at the Cape of Good Hope. Why not? I needed the distraction so I agreed to go.

The offseason is its own transition. Leaving the regimen of routine, of batting practice and bus times, to an open ended world that you have to re-learn again. When I finished my first full major league season in 1997, I lived in Streeterville at the Navy Pier Apartments.

That offseason, I decided to stay an extra month in Chicago only to wake up panicked for the first two weeks because I thought I was missing stretch time for a home day game. A major league schedule becomes etched in your DNA after a while.

It is also a time that you get to reflect. The regular season does not give you a moment to really get perspective on what was just accomplished, what it all means, what you would change. I always joked about the T-shirt I wanted to a sell that listed all of the things a major league player figures out during the off-season. From the perfect swing to the ex-girlfriend you need to un-break-up with next week.

It all becomes so clear when a 96 MPH fastball isn’t coming at you.

For years, I would arrange a training program to follow, but I quickly learned that I had to mix it up. There was only so much repetition I could stand in the off-season. So some years, I moved to the site of spring training and worked out early with the staff, other years I found a spot at home where I grew up or wherever I played during the season, to train.

I was single when I played, but now with a family, I have a better understanding of the challenges my teammates would express as they were re-engaging as a daily father again after this long absentee existence.

To keep it fresh and spicy, when I got older in the game, I enrolled in a dance studio and took a winter of dance lessons. Salsa, Foxtrot, Rumba, you name it. On Thursdays we had to dance for an hour straight, changing partners in the room every song change. Dancing with the Stars had nothing on me.

Of course, not every offseason is fun and games. There were years when I wasn’t sure I would have a job the next year, or I was in the throes of a trade rumor. In 1997, I was traded from the Cubs to the Phillies two days before Christmas. In 2002, my father passed away on the last game of the season, leading the offseason to be a time of mourning.

By my final season in 2005, I thought I was officially on my couch forever. I was going to fade away into oblivion like many players do. No fanfare, the phone just would stop ringing and I would just let the silence wash over me. The Yankees had called earlier in that off-season, acting like they were doing me a favor which I turned down, then they called back later with a more open tone, seeing me as a potential key piece in their outfield with Bernie Williams slowing down quite a bit at that point.

I did get off that couch for that call, only to get released the last week of camp, so I was back on the couch, with a fiancé and some extra salt in the wounds after that final meeting with Brian Cashman and Joe Torre, who boxed me into the coaches office to tell me I was released. Released? Come on. Never had that happen before.

The Cubs players will go through all of this if they have the good fortune of playing a long time. The wave of uncertainty, the meaning of age in this game spares no one. Each offseason is a time to reset, a period where you get away, seemingly adrift from the game, then as spring gets closer, the shoreline comes up in the horizon once again, magnetically drawing you to its shores for another season.

Amazingly, you don’t always know your age and what it has done to your body. 34 can’t be that old, right? I can still run, or throw 95. Then those 23-year-olds in camp are the wake up call, or maybe you are that 23-year-old and can’t believe your locker is next to Ryne Sandberg’s.

Then you blink, and you are advising Jimmy Rollins about etiquette and realize you have become that guy, the seasoned vet, preaching about locker room respect.

For the 2018 Cubs, they fell short of their goal to repeat their 2016 magic. Failed to meet their singular destination that meant success over all else. Yet, those who come back for 2019, will not be the same player, the same person, that left the locker room at the close this season. They will have grown, changed, aged, wizened up, rehabbed, hardened. All of which means that new perspective is the inevitable part of this time off, whether you like it or not.

Baseball is a game that has this unique dynamic. The highest intensity rhythm of any sport. Every day you are tested. You are pushed to the brink by sheer attrition. According to my teammate Ed Smith, who was playing third base at the time when Michael Jordan reached third, Jordan, after playing well over 100 games in a row, said to him “Man, I have never been this tired in my entire life.”

The grind.

Then it stops on a dime. Season over. Only on baseball’s terms.

But you may be granted another spring. Another crack at it. Until one day, the baseball winter never ends and its time for you to plant your own spring.

Four takeaways: Blackhawks on wrong side of history in loss to Lightning

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AP

Four takeaways: Blackhawks on wrong side of history in loss to Lightning

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 6-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning at the United Center on Sunday:

1. Blackhawks on wrong side of history 

Earlier this year the Blackhawks made history by appearing in five straight overtime games to start the season, something no team in NBA, NFL, NHL or MLB history has ever done.

But Sunday they found themselves on the wrong side of it after allowing 33 shots on goal in the second period alone. It tied a franchise high for most given up in a single period — March 4, 1941 vs. Boston — and is the most an NHL team has allowed since 1997-98 when shots by period became an official stat.

"It's pretty rare to be seeing that much work in a period," said Cam Ward, who had a season-high 49 saves. "But oh man, I don't even know what to say to be honest. It's tough. We know that we need to be better especially in our home building, too. And play with some pride and passion. Unfortunately, it seemed like it was lacking at times tonight. The old cliche you lose as a team and overall as a team we weren't good enough tonight."

Said coach Joel Quenneville: "That was a tough, tough period in all aspects. I don’t think we touched the puck at all and that was the part that was disturbing, against a good hockey team."

2. Alexandre Fortin is on the board

After thinking he scored his first career NHL goal in Columbus only to realize his shot went off Marcus Kruger's shin-pad, Fortin made up for it one night later and knows there wasn't any question about this one.

The 21-year-old undrafted forward, playing in his his fifth career game, sprung loose for a breakaway early in the first period and received a terrific stretch pass by Jan Rutta from his own goal line to Fortin, who slid it underneath Louis Domingue for his first in the big leagues. It's his second straight game appearing on the scoresheet after recording an assist against the Blue Jackets on Saturday.

"It's fun," Fortin said. "I think it would be a little bit more fun to get your first goal [while getting] two points for your team, but I think we ... just have to [turn the page to the] next chapter and just play and be ready for next game."

3. Brandon Saad's most noticeable game?

There weren't many positives to take away from this game, but Saad was certainly one of them. He had arguably his best game of the season, recording seven shot attempts (three on goal) with two of them hitting the post (one while the Blackhawks were shorthanded).

He was on the ice for 11 shot attempts for and five against at 5-on-5, which was by far the best on his team.

"He started OK and got way better," Quenneville said of Saad. "Had the puck way more, took it to the net a couple of times, shorthanded."

4. Special teams still a work in progress

The Blackhawks entered Sunday with the 29th-ranked power play and 25th-ranked penalty kill, and are still working to get out from the bottom of the league in both departments. In an effort to change up their fortunes with the man advantage, the Blackhawks split up their two units for more balance.

They had four power-play opportunities against Tampa Bay and cashed in on one of them, but it didn't matter as it was too little, too late in the third period — although they did become the first team to score a power-play goal against the Lightning this season (29 chances).

"Whether we're looking for balance or we're just looking for one to get hot, I think our power play has been ordinary so far," Quenneville said before the game. "We need it to be more of a threat."

Four more minor penalties were committed by the Blackhawks, giving them eight in the past two games. That's one way they can shore up the penalty kill, by cutting back on taking them.