Friday, November 20, 2009

Hoops Hindered

With the football team squaring off against cross-border rivals to determine bowl position, Wildcat basketball players have been going down like the chimps in Project X, only instead of radiation poisoning through shady government flight simulators, they have been suffering from battered tendons that come from playing basketball.

Carmody calls Northwestern's newest play this season, the call for the
ambulance. Hopefully the call will not be answered by Hemingway as it would
expose players to inadquate World War I-era concepts, such as brandy as a
legitimate medical technology, short, terse tourniquets, and the possibilities
of face-punching wholly inconsistent with the mission of the Red Cross

Northwestern lost its best player in Kevin "Mantis" Coble who seems like the only player in college basketball who could actually play on one leg if his teammates carried him Leftwich-like up and down the court and let him heave weird-looking jumpers off of a single spindly limb as he leans awkwardly in any number of possible directions and continues to score. Jeff Ryan also went down leaving Jeremy Nash as the only senior, although he has been struggling with a troubling heart issue that he thankfully has under control.

Henry "Poo" Yee demonstrates the southern praying mantis
style of Kung Fu, showing clearly that while the horrible
Coble injury may have been a serious blow to Northwestern
Hoops, it will almost certainly spare readers of this blog
any more allusions this season to the Mantis nickname and
then the inevitable run-on sentence somehow justifying it
as the sentence balloons up like a giant dwarf star before
violently exploding and engulfing every bit of sense in its
meager orbit and by the way since we're already in the middle
of a sentence that apparently has no beginning, middle, or
end anywhere in sight I might as well mention that
according to "Poo" Yee, "in the southern praying mantis
system, circles are everything and everywhere" so in case
anybody pulls your sleeve on the street asking you which
simple shape best fits into southern praying mantis kung-fu,
you can you know what let's just end this right here before
somebody blows out an ACL

On the one hand, Northwestern's season has gotten a lot more bleak, and pre-season hopes of finally getting to the promised land of the NCAA tournament have dwindled. On the other hand, this season is all about watching young players develop, especially sophomore center Kyle Rowley who will hopefully do to Big Ten frontcourt players what the USC marching band did to Ricardo Montalban at the end of The Naked Gun.


Baseball's winter rumor mill is in full swing as a nation recovers from the joyless inevitability of another Yankee title. No doubt the Cubs brain-trust is hard at work peering over a giant baseball field and pushing little plastic players around with instruments used only by croupiers and four-star generals.

Jim Hendry scans the playing field for free agents
and bargain trades. Incidentally, this picture is not
only notable for inexpicably being the second Bill
and Ted reference on BYCTOM in as many posts, but
also for being part of a series of Bill and Ted trading
cards as referenced on this site. In case you are
curious, the back side, instead of having Napoleon's
risk statistics or maximum water-slide speed, lists
this crucial plot point: "While Bill and Ted continue to
round up subjects for their report, Deacon entertains
Napoleon. Napoleon devours the ice cream and wins the
Ziggy Piggy award"

Job number one for the Cubs is getting rid of cantankerous right fielder Milton Bradley. Bradley's power did not come around, he hit a paltry .257 for the year, and his defense in right bordered on comical, climaxing in his memorable posing and throwing the ball into the stands then watching helplessly as baserunners unsportingly took advantage of his temporary lack of knowledge about the exact number of outs. On the other hand, Bradley managed to finish with a .378 on-base percentage for the season, which is fairly remarkable considering his batting average. He was also extraordinarily entertaining, wearing a Bluto-style beard, coming up with umpire conspiracies, feuding with combustible manager Lou Piniella, complaining about fickle Cub fans, and bludgeoning reporters with the phrase "what else you got" to the point where the Cubs were forced to suspend him for insubordination, truculance, and redundancy. Obviously, Bradley has to go from an everybody in the organization hates him standpoint, but from a baseball standpoint, Bradley was an effective offensive player who was starting to put up scary numbers towards the end of last season and is going to rebound into a nice year unless he disappears into the Los Angeles underground during the offseason and becomes a soldier of fortune.

John Grabow, the least terrifying lefty out of the pen, will be back, while the reviled Aaron Heilman gets to ply his dark arts for the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for reliever Scott Maine and outfielder/first baseman Ryne White, who Hendry compared favorably to journeyman slugger and 2003 MLB wing-eating champion Matt Stairs, disguising his attempt to placate testy Cubs fans by getting another Ryne into the Cubs's system.

In other Cubs news, Carlos Zambrano won his third Silver Slugger award as the best hitting pitcher in the National League and presumably all of baseball unless the American Leagues are lying in wait for some sort of terrible turning of the tables. Carlos Zambrano is the reason why the National League should continue to exist without a designated hitter. There are few things more riveting during a baseball game, especially a baseball game where the Cubs are playing and therefore actively stomping on the dreams of an either desperate or drunken fanbase, than a Zambrano at-bat. The possiblilities are tantalizing: a launch onto Waveland or Sheffield, a base hit followed by an ill-advised head-first dive into second, a swing-related injury, a strikeout followed by an assault on a bat (purists will note that Zambrano's wrath at Gatorade-dispensing products is limited to poor pitching performances), charging the mound, throwing his helmet to reveal an ill-conceived Zambrano hairstyle such as blond frosted tips or a jheri curl or even a blond jheri-curl, running out into center field and lighting a giant Z on fire, grabbing the home plate umpire and lashing his wrist to the official and initiating a mutual thrusting at each other with butterfly knives while a handful of shirtless vest-wearers come out of the bullpen to idle in the background; I'd much rather watch Zambrano strike out on three straight pitches with runners in scoring position than watch the likes of Aaron Miles pick up a bat in the general vicinity of the batter's box.

The myriad potential consequences of a Zambrano at-bat


Saturday marks the end of the football regular season, but marks the beginning of endless bowl speculation, back-biting, and preparing for conference championship games for those conferences burdened with unnecessary features such as even numbered teams, divisions, and occasionally titles that accurately reflect the number of teams in said conference. Not for the Big Ten, an ascetic conference where the season's conflagrations on the muddy midwestern gridirons settle the championship except most years when they don't and it's a festive conucopia of various Big Ten teams, some of whom will lose in lucrative BCS bowls. But hopefully the 'Cats will prevail in a stadium sure to be painted with the crimson hues of the fearsome badger.

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