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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.

Basket Slam: Wrigley's quirks come to Cubs' aid in walk-off win

Basket Slam: Wrigley's quirks come to Cubs' aid in walk-off win

The Wrigley Field basket has played a huge role in this week's Cubs-Reds series.

In Monday night's game, Cincinnati catcher Curt Casali hit a game-tying homer into the basket in the seventh inning of a game the Cubs went on to lose.

But the basket giveth and the basket also taketh away.

Tuesday night, it was Kyle Schwarber and the Cubs who were singing the praises of one of the strangest ballpark quirks in baseball.

Schwarber connected on a walk-off homer in the bottom of the 10th inning off Reds closer Raisel Iglesias, hitting a fly ball through the impossibly-humid air and into the basket in left-centerfield for a 4-3 Cubs win.

"Whoever thought about that basket — whenever that occurred — tell them, 'thank you,'" Joe Maddon said. "Although it did work against us [Monday]. When it works for you, it's awesome."

Schwarber has stood under the left-field basket many times with his back against the wall, thinking he might be able to make a play on a high fly ball only to see it settle into the wickets and turn into a chance for a Bleacher Bum to show off their arm. 

But is he a huge fan of the basket now that it worked in his favor?

"I guess so," Schwarber laughed. "Yesterday, it cost us, but today, it helped us out. It's just the factor of Wrigley Field. Happy it worked out today."

It was Schwarber's first career walk off RBI of any kind.

It was the Cubs' fourth walk-off homer of the season, but their first since May 11 when Willson Contreras called "game" on the Milwaukee Brewers. 

The Cubs are now 4-1 since the All-Star Break and hold a 2.5-game lead in the division.

Dylan Cease struggles early, but finishes strong in second White Sox start

Dylan Cease struggles early, but finishes strong in second White Sox start

Dylan Cease picked up a win in his first start, but his second did not go as well.

Cease pitched six innings Tuesday at the Royals and gave up six runs (four earned) on eight hits and a walk. He struck out seven, but took the loss in an ugly game for the White Sox.

The game got off to an ominous start with Eloy Jimenez getting injured on the first batter Cease faced. The White Sox defense didn’t help Cease much either with three errors (Cease had one of those on an errant pickoff throw).

After giving up six runs in the first four innings, Cease settled down to retire the final eight batters he faced. He finished with seven strikeouts against just one walk and threw 67 of his 108 pitches for strikes.

Cease struck out six in his first start and is the first pitcher in White Sox history to strike out six or more in each of his first two career appearances.

A deeper look at Cease’s numbers show his swing and miss stuff hasn’t quite caught on as expected so far. Cease got 13 swinging strikes in 101 pitches in his major league debut. He got 12 whiffs on 108 pitches on Tuesday. His slider did get five swinging strikes on 25 pitches against the Royals.

Fastball command remains a key part to Cease’s success. He only threw 26 out of 54 fastballs for strikes in his debut. Cease improved upon that with 31 strikes on 50 fastballs against the Royals.

Most of the Royals’ damage came against Cease’s fastball as well. Six of the Royals’ eight hits off Cease, including all three extra base hits, were off heaters. Cease also gave up four hits with two strikes.

There has been plenty of hype surrounding Cease since he joined the White Sox, but he hasn’t hit the ground running in the majors just yet. Having 13 days between the first two starts of his career due to the all-star break and the White Sox giving him some extra rest also isn’t the ideal scenario for a young pitcher.

Cease’s ERA is now at 5.73, which isn’t going to set the world on fire. Still, there have been enough positives in his first two starts to see where reasonable improvement could lead to Cease becoming the pitcher the White Sox expect him to be.

 

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