Tuesday, April 7, 2009


It's been an eventful week in Chicago Sports. The Bears have traded BYCTOM favorite Kyle Orton and a bunch of draft picks for Denver QB Jay Cutler. Until he got hurt, Orton and Forte carried the Bears despite the awful defense. During this stretch of games, Orton was developing into the rich man's Jim Miller, who was the best quarterback the Bears had in decades. Unlike Miller, who sported a goatee that his chinstrap turned into the handlebar mustache of a man who would end up on the business end of a Seagal-wielded pool cue and Orton's legendary neckbeard, Cutler fits in much better with the Bears' groomin' standards.

Cutler offers no mustache for the Bears to have to police, lest their quarterbacks
look like a bunch of Elvises

The Bears' cavalier lack of attention to facial hair makes them a significantly less classy organization than the New York Yankees or the Russian Empire, where Peter the Great famously demanded that his courtiers shave their beads or face a ruinous 100 Ruble Beard Tax. His eventual successor Paul I was more worried about clothes, sending soldiers into the the streets of Moscow to rough up anyone caught wearing round hats, top boots, long pants, or shoes with laces.

Paul I's face contorted due to a
combination of Typhus and his intense
hatred of pants

Cutler, of course, comes from Vanderbilt, along with Hunter Hillenmeyer, Chris Williams, and Earl Bennett; Vandy is represented more than any other school on the current roster presumably related to Mike McCaskey's need for choo-choo time.

When the trains come out, Mike
McCaskey insists on his Vanderbilt
players, his frock, his muttonchops,
his string tie, and his knee puppets


The Cubs have just gotten their first heartbreaking bullpen collapse out of the way in Houston. Just before Opening Day, the Cubs faced a pitching logjam. David Patton had a good spring and cannot get sent to the minors because he is a Rule 5 draft pickup (Rule 5 picks must remain on the 25-man roster the entire season) which left no room for Gaudin in theory. In reality, Reed Johnson demanded the removal of Gaudin, asserting that there can only be one on the team with a ridiculous chin beard, despite the fact that Gaudin's chin beard was the only thing stopping him from looking like an adult version of the fat kid from The Sandlot.

The illustrated version of the previous paragraph

The Cub bullpen looks vulnerable this season, but the bats should help. Expect a breakout season from Mike Fontenot, who put up a .909 OPS in 243 at-bats last year, and solid bench production from Micah Hoffpauir who will be a much better left-handed pinch hitter than Daryl Ward. The season comes down to whether Milton Bradley can stay healthy and compensate for Derrek Lee's declining power. Bradley is prone to both injury and comical fits (here he is memorably combining both for the San Diego Padres), so in the worst case scenario he'll play five games before spending the rest of the season in a custom made iron lung device that punches children. Of course, in the best case, he'll team up with Carlos Zambrano to fight crime.


BYCTOM favorite pirate reporter Jeff Gettleman is on the case once again, reporting that Somali pirates have reasserted themselves after luring authorities into a false sense of security into an unstoppable "pirate surge."

BYCTOM has already covered Somali pirates in depth as part of the natural territory of a Northwestern sports blog, but the pirates have this time seized five ships in 48 hours, sending Gettleman to once again marvel at the pirates' seeming invinceability on the Horn of Africa.

"The pirates, apparently, are back."

"Most of last year’s 120-plus pirate attacks were centered on the relatively narrow Gulf of Aden, a strategic waterway between Yemen and Somalia at the mouth of the Red Sea. That is where most of the navy patrols are, too, and several recent attacks on merchant vessels have been thwarted by helicopters and frigates speeding to the rescue...But the pirates are adapting, going farther out to sea."

"Lt. Nathan Christensen, a United States Navy spokesman, called the rash of attacks “unbelievable.”"

New York Times Africa bureau
chief Jeff Gettleman on his beat


Today's New York Times also has an excellent story on the state of the Russian Auto industry, describing a government desperate to save what may be one of the world's least efficient car factories. As Andrew E. Kramer reports, the average worker in Avtovaz, which makes the Soviet icon Lada, turns out an average of eight cars per year, compared to 36 produced by a worker in a GM plant.

"The factory, a monument to Soviet gigantism in industrial design, is a panoramic sprawl of pipes and smokestacks on a bank of the Volga River, 460 miles southeast of Moscow. It employs 104,000 assembly line workers, many of whom still toil with hand-held wrenches."

Yet, the Russian government will pay billions to aid Avtovaz with no strings attached. Why?

"...[I]ndustrial discontent is stirring in the most hardscrabble Russian factory towns.

On March 11, 16 Russian steelworkers announced a hunger strike to protest wage cuts at a Ural Mountain mill. (The same week Severstal, one of Russia’s largest steel makers, announced it would lay off 9,000 to 9,500 workers.)

Here in Tolyatti, when a G.M. joint venture laid off 400 people in December, riot officers were called in to disperse an angry crowd that had gathered in the plant parking lot."

In addition, riot police were used in Vladivostok in order to silence protests against tariff barriers to foreign cars because the city has become a center for importing and servicing secondhand Japanese Cars.

The Ladas produced now, of course, are sleek modern machines, not the boxes we remember from the Andropov era.

The models unveil the Lada while simultaneously demonstrating
perfect conformity with Tsar Paul I's dress standards at the popular
Lada, Onion Dome Hat, Silver Age Superhero and Tron exhibit at
the Russian museum We Found Things in Warehouse

These are all of your crucial updates from the week in sports, grooming standards, piracy, and the effect of the global financial meltdown on Soviet-designed auto works.

1 comment:

Bob said...

I have a long standing feud with that fat kid from the Sandlot, Patrick Renna. They filmed The Big Green at my school in Austin. My friends and I went to check out the set and saw Renna moving from his trailer to the film site. We yelled and waved at him as young kids do, and Renna responded by flicking us off. I was pretty pissed about it until I saw the poster for the film and then I felt better.