Wednesday, June 20, 2007

To The Last One Leaving: Please Turn Out The Lights

I'm movin' folks.

Not on the radio...just on the Web.

We're done tweaking our Newsradio 620 WTMJ home page, and I'm glad to announce that my Cold Filtered drivel is moving exclusively to this location:

Same low-priced blogs...same low-rent attitude.

Thanks for following me over to my new web home, and thanks as well to all of you who've made this read part of your daily routine. I'm incredibly flattered by the fact that people give this the time of day, and even more flabbergasted when folks write back with comments/compliments/criticism. All are truly welcome.

Please be patient--our tech folk are very, very good, but there is the chance of an occasional glitch, which will probably be my fault. Your patience is deeply appreciated.

Thanks again, and feel free to look around. My change in venue has me rubbing up against some really bright people with unique takes on the world. Visit their blogs, too. Share the love.

But remember me, too.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Anger Management 101/Instructor: Prince Fielder

Let the veteran be schooled.

I listened to a Chicago talk station Monday afternoon, first getting agitated, then strangely relieved. I ended up being glad I'm a Brewers fan, with heady players like Prince Fielder on my side as opposed to the Cubs who sport hotheads like Carlos Zambrano, Michael Barrett and the most recent addition to the Windy City Distemper Hall of Shame, Derrick Lee. Lee faces a suspension after what happened over the weekend, with many of today's radio listeners questioning if Lee should sit at all.

Welcome to life, as viewed thru Cubbie Blue shades.

At issue: the fight Saturday between Lee and San Diego pitcher Chris Young, triggered when a high and tight Young pitch struck Lee shoulder-level.

Let the record show, it was midway in a scoreless game. Doubtful Young was trying to hit Lee, even though hard feelings persisted after Chicago's Alfonso Soriano riled the San Diego bench by allegedly showboating after a home run the day before.

And, let it also be said that instead of dusting himself off after getting hit and trotting to first, Lee got up, walked around, took some steps toward the mound, engaged verbally with Young and then took the first swing (a pretty limp one at that, one that looks as though he really, really didn't want to connect. The video shows that had he truly wanted to get at Young in the ensuing melee, he could've, but opted to wait as "cooler heads" held him back. Muey macho).

I understand the heat of battle, and the Cubs certainly show more fight between pitches these days than they do when the game is on. Recent hot streak aside, these are some true underachievers at this point in the 2007 season.

Lee is a team leader, 31 years of age, knocking down some 13 mil a year.

Contrast his actions Saturday with those of Fielder a few weeks ago against the Pirates at Miller Park.

Fielder got dusted by Pittsburgh hurler Matt Capps May 5th. Rather than charge the mound or do something stupid, Fielder got up and trotted down to first. Capps got ejected, and later would absorb a four-game suspension.

The true revenge, though, came one day later.

Fielder homered twice, then singled and scored the winning run as Milwaukee beat the Bucs--and, as luck would have it, he plated said score as Capps was back on the mound. Again, Fielder kept his cool, letting his actions on the field dictate the terms of his vengeance. Sure, he called Capps everything but a child of God as he headed back toward the dugout, but NEVER did he make a move at the previous night's tormentor. All Capps could do...was slink back to the mound. Brewers win. Fielder gets his pound of flesh.


Fielder is 23. He makes a fraction of what Lee knocks down. Another sign that the bio and the paycheck aren't always the measure of a ballplayer.

Suddenly, I feel a lot better about being a Brewers fan.

It gets even better when I look at the standings.

What Did You Get for Father's Day? Hopefully, It Came With A Roll Cage...

Some get ties...others shirts.

A few...very few...get really fancy, powerful sports cars for Father's Day.

No matter when they get them, it seems folks who get the keys to these supercharged machines are wadding them up at a pretty incredible clip.

The trend is so severe--overmatched drivers putting high priced rides into trees, poles and other immovable objects--that there's a website out there devoted to the smoldering wreckage:

And, check out the article that turned us on to all this on Wisconsin's Morning News:

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Being a Kennedy assassination buff, I'm quite used to all things grassy knoll.

We're talking Umbrella Man, Badge Man, David Ferry, secretaries named Kennedy and cars that are Lincolns and all manner of other ways for the public to refuse to accept the inevitable: that Lee Harvey Oswald killed JFK all by his sordid lonesome.

So, is it any surprise that the latest, greatest shared cultural experience is the subject of all kinds of off the wall theories?

We're talking "Sopranos" here.

A week since the hit HBO drama abruptly faded to black with Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" chopped in mid-verse, people are still sifting clues, looking at the final scene the way one looks at the Zapruder film--frame by frame--hoping for some sort of clue from creator David Chase as to what happened to Tony and his family.

Why is it that we can't take it for what it is?

"Entertainment Weekly" lists seven theories as to what happened in the final scene, and discounts them all.

One has it that the troubling strangers who walk into the diner as the Sopranos go face-first into the onion rings are all people from past episodes, including the Cub scouts who supposedly are the same kids who witnessed Bobby's train store derailment the week before. Turns out NONE had ever been on the show before. This theory is unique in that it creates a new character, "Nicky Leotardo", who never existed.

Number two: the bells on the restaurant door ring every time someone walks in, except Meadow, meaning Tony's dead by the time she arrives. Repeat viewings prove this take wrong, too.

The third: Bobby talking in a past episode about what it's like getting whacked: "You never even hear it--everything just goes to black." Close, but no cigar: he actually says "You probably don't even hear it when it happens", with no mention of things going to black.

Theory number four: this is the only episode that ends without music (what that means, I don't know), supposedly a harbinger of death. Nice, but not so: Season two featured an episode that trailed out to the sound of Christopher breathing on a ventilator.

We're almost done, so hang with me.

Theory the Fifth: Chase shot another ending that makes it clear Tony dies. EW quotes the actor who played FBI agent Harris who says the finale was originally intended to be clearer about Tony's end, that it "went a little further. The gentleman sitting at the counter was much more mysterious, almost like he's walking to the table to shoot Tony, and then the end of the script." Fueling the fire: photos of James Gandolfini in the same scene, wearing a different shirt. A network rep says the picture was taken during rehearsals, with Gandolfini in his own clothes. And, HBO denies that Chase filmed dramatically different endings.

Number six ties into the fifth...something about Tony wearing a different shirt. Also bogus.

The seventh is too dumb to elaborate on: that Tony had a heart attack because of the onion rings.

What's interesting about the finale a week after it aired is that a lot of people who originally didn't like it are coming around. I needed a night's sleep to process it, but came to the conclusion that Chase was true to himself, didn't lapse into neat, episodic conclusions and wrap the series up with a neat little bow. Noting about "The Sopranos" was little, or neat. The ending had to be bigger than life, and more controversial than it's 85 predecessors. Chase succeeds, beyond all expectations.

The theories? The blossom like mushrooms seemingly every time something in this nation appears to be too obvious to accept at face value. JFK. RFK. Pearl Harbor. Even 9/11.

Add to that list a pop culture entry: "The Sopranos". An ending too obvious to be believed. Or accepted, by some.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Best Care In The...Where?

Here's what happens when a headline hits you in the face, and I'm sure many of you faced the same conundrum as you make your summer travel plans.

You go to a website that offers discount air fares, hotels and rental cars--you're presented scads of choices, you make your picks and you wait for vacation to arrive.

I was at the computer the other day, booking a trip to Baltimore where my boy and I will be based during our annual summer baseball trip.

That's when the headline came to life.

Midwest Airlines...or Air Tran?

The choice was easy for the flight out--Midwest was only a couple of bucks more, certainly not enough to be a deal-breaker.

The flight home was a different story. The price difference was, what shall we say, substantial.

I stared at the screen, double checked the numbers, looked again to make sure I had the right departure times right.

And then, I made my choice.


I tried to rationalize it, thinking that I could use the experience on the air, to give an honest appraisal of the differences between the hunter, and the hunted.

And, I felt really, really dirty.

Midwest IS the hometown airline. I know people that work there. I see what they do in the community, from the sponsorship of the convention center that bears it's name to the kadzillion charities where it donates trips. AirTran does business in Milwaukee, too, but I don't see them working the charity circuit nearly as much.

Does this make me a bad person, doing business with the so-called enemy? Or, does it make me a smart shopper who voted with his wallet?

And, do I now lose any right to bemoan the loss of Midwest a local entity if and when AirTran's hostile takeover succeeds?

I'm wondering what others did when faced with the same choice--or, how many of you publicly bemoan Midwest's potential acquisition while privately flying other carriers with lower fares.

I plan on bringing this issue up on the air during an upcoming edition of Wisconsin's Morning News--perhaps Friday, if time permits. We already are efforting reps from both Midwest and AirTran, plus an analyst who could give some neutral insight into how this how process works. I hope you'll be listening, and I also would love to see some feedback via the comments link.

Pardon me while I take a shower. I feel WAY dirty.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Still Buzzing, After All These Days

It's Wednesday and we're STILL talking about "The Sopranos".

I've heard it all, from people cancelling HBO out in protest over the way the show ended Sunday night to others assigning deep, philosophical meaning to each and every scene in the series finale.

I just don't think it's that complicated, and apparently, creator David Chase didn't mean anything quite so deep, either, at least not judging by the one and only interview he's given since the credits rolled.

Was it the audience getting whacked when the screen went black? Were the different characters in the final restaurant scene ready to either kill or arrest Tony?

Chase made the show's final moments some of the most tension-filled ever--we all were looking over our shoulders as the family munched it's onion rings, oblivious to what went on around them. Brilliant.

Each of the Sopranos said or did something in those final 61 minutes to let you know that they hadn't changed one iota in the whole time we'd been watching them--even A.J., who seemed to be in his own solar system, eventually found a comfortable orbit in the family's galaxy.

My only criticism of the last episode is the neat-and-clean way in which Phil Leotardo's underlings so easily agreed to meet with Tony and kick their boss to the curb. That, and the way Tony's longtime FBI nemesis suddenly became a Sopranos fan, giving the what was left of the Soprano clan Phil's location so he could be whacked. Granted, the agent had tipped Tony off to the plot against him, and there is a basis in reality to what he did, but it still came together just a little too easily for my taste.

Then again, don't some things in life do that, too? After days, weeks, months or even years of angst and agitation, don't you find sometimes that a problem just...solves itself in virtually no time, with little or any cost or effort? That is the genius of Chase, who makes his shows so lifelike. Not all story lines wrap up. People come, and go. Who amongst us has ever had an episode in our own existences wrap up neatly in 60 minutes or so, as climatic music plays and credits roll?

Think about how many times you expected something to happen in that final hour--only to be left wanting? Perfect. How often is life THAT obvious?

Be pissed about the finale, if you will. Don't write the series off just because the end left you wanting. Think. Talk. Discuss. Process. Watch it again. Enjoy it for what it was.

A show that remains top of mind, three days after the fact.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

We all knew them.

They were the parents who got a little too close.

No, not in a weird, somebody-call-"Dateline" kind of way but rather, the ones who wanted to hang around just a little too much when the kids were having a party.

Teens want their space--we all did as we grew up, started making our own choices, picked what music we wanted to hear, decided what t-v shows were cool. For me, it was in the '70's, with a mom who was truly one of the boys but who also knew when to back off.

And, it was well before the Internet.

Times changed, but the problem lingers. Today's kids have the web and can use the computer to exert their independence. The trouble comes when mom and/or dad want to go with them.

Take Facebook, for instance. Or, MySpace.

These bastions of teen spirit are going grayer, and the rub between parent and child over who's turf these sites are keeps growing.

Check out this story from "The New York Times" which we also discussed today on "Wisconsin's Morning News."

Monday, June 11, 2007

Who Do You Love?

I don't know if I buy this guy's premise, but this is a solid read for area sports fans.

An blogger says Milwaukee, to paraphrase, pretty much ignores the Bucks while heaping unconditional love on the Brewers.

"I am constantly perplexed by the fanaticism surrounding the Milwaukee Brewers in this city," he writes. "I have never seen a more popular team at the turnstiles that underperformed, lied to fans, had a weak and conservative MLB payroll, and failed to qualify for the playoffs for 25 years? Are we baseball fans here, or just fans of drinking in a parking lot in the warm weather?"

There IS a certain charm in swilling warm Miller Lite on a hot August night while standing amid a sea of asphalt--face it, we don't need much of a reason for a party in these parts, and we squeeze in a lot of life between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

"The truth of the matter, is that the WI sports fan ignores the "Big League" approach of the Milwaukee Bucks and favors the anemic, small-time goodwill of racing sausages and nostalgia.", he says. "How can attendance have dropped at Bucks games and there is no outcry to support our NBA team here with a much needed new building, when just 6 short years ago the Bucks were a shot away from the NBA finals?"

The answer is simple: for all the good the Bucks did, they also blew some of their goodwill by putting a turnstile where the door to the coach's office used to be, and by trading away some fairly popular players (Ray Allen) with little to show for it. The Big Three went to war with a coach (George Karl) who turned on anyone in sight who took issue with his methods and motivational skills. That took a lot of the shine off that title run that ended with a soul-crushing loss in the Eastern Conference finals. And, there's a school of thought that Senator/Owner Herb Kohl should spent more time legislating and less time screwing around with his NBA holdings. As for that new building the Bucks need? Don't hang that on the fans, many of whom who'll swear allegiance to the Bucks but cuss a blue streak if asked to contribute tax dollars for a new arena. And the good Senator? Ask him about a new building and you'll get a fade-to-black-before-the-Sopranos-roll-the-final-credits silence. It's a nuclear subject that no one wants to touch because no one likes any of the answers.

He goes on: "The sad truth may be that short of winning an NBA title, the Bucks may never draw in Milwaukee. We'll be too busy posing for pictures with a man in a Chorizo suit, while Michael Redd scores 60 in a game, and Larry Harris goes out and signs multiple players away with big league money to really try to bring an NBA title to Milwaukee."

Ah, if only money were the answer. There's no doubt Kohl ponied up big dollars to bring a winner to Milwaukee and for that, he should be commended. We all remember the successes of the big-spending Yankees, but we forget the years they fell short despite payrolls that would gag an anaconda. Other teams tried buying titles, too--the Baltimore Orioles come to mind--without adding to the trophy case. If won-loss records determined fan support, the Milwaukee Admirals should be the reigning box office champs, having strung together several strong playoff runs that included an AHL title a few springs ago.

Then there's the product itself--baseball is on the uptick, and the NBA is admittedly in a bit of a funk. It's a league that relies too much on stars and too little on team play, which is one reason I've fallen away a bit. Officiating remains a joke--the star system prevails, and a pro hoop game often has the regulatory credibility of the WWF. Teams that play good pro "D" win yawns from fans, and t-v ratings slide.

And, I don't buy this premise of unconditional Brewers love over the years, either. Sure, we still celebrate 1982 as if it were yesterday, but doesn't this guy remember the empty seats that dotted brand-new Miller Park in the years after it's 2001 opening as the team swirled around the N-L toilet bowl? The arrival of Mark Attanasio and his marketing minions signaled a huge change in how the product is sold, and how the team plays. Talk unconditional love? Look at the pass the Packers get. We filled Lambeau no matter how badly the team played in the post-Lombardi days--the season ticket waiting hardly shrunk as the Pack strung together some two decades of futility.

Sorry, friend, but I'm not shedding any tears for the Bucks. The town was stoked a few years ago when Milwaukee turned the top NBA draft pick into Anthony Bogut who, in the time since, has done little to distinguish himself or make the Bucks contenders again. I think the same fire would've been lit had the Bucks done better in the lottery, and it'll be up to Larry Harris and crew to turn that number six overall choice into something that'll make fans want to buy seats again.

"The truth is," our blogger writes, "the Milwaukee Bucks will be in the playoffs and contend before the Brewers do."

Read the entire piece at:

Fade To Black...Roll The Credits

I dove for the remote.

A black screen stared back at me as I panicked, trying to find out if my cable had dumped, if I'd somehow done something to deny me of the REAL end to "The Sopranos". It had to be a technical mistake...something I'd fat-fingered as I'd set up my DVR and VHS to catch the final moments of one of t-v's best shows.


That was it.

And, I guess I shouldn't be surprised.

I'd spent weeks on the air, warning that creator David Chase wasn't one to cave in to the obvious, that he wrote "The Sopranos" the way life happens: some things get resolved, others don't. It's what differentiated "The Sopranos" from everything we'd ever seen before on the small screen. Remember the season premiers that people grumbled about year after year for not being "good enough"? Or the finales that left fans wanting? The dream sequences that made no sense? It's because Chase didn't need to use the medium's usual devices to keep his audience interested--he didn't have to rely on cliffhangers and other tricks to keep us coming back. He had compelling characters and storylines to do that.

And, we returned, even if it meant waiting a year or more for a new season to start.

Think of your own life. Do any of your dramas wrap up in neat little 60 minute packages? Did all of your relationships resolve in 16 or so episodes?

Did you ever have a dream that shook you to your foundation, that stayed with you the next morning, that had nothing to do with anything that was happening in your real life?

That's the beauty of "The Sopranos". It's a tale about people doing things we couldn't imagine, but that we can all relate to. Most of us will never be involved in asbestos dumping, chasing down Russian killers, or crooked construction projects. Fewer still ever killed anyone.

Yet, we all have a messed up relative, a kid with issues, friends with needs, spouses who don't understand.

That's where "The Sopranos" clicked.

I'd predicted an open-ended final episode, one that didn't satisfy or answer all of the show's lingering questions. And, never has an audience been so riveted by a family munching onion rings.

Our stories end each night when we close our eyes. Story lines come and go, with some resuming the next day, others left hanging. People come, stay for a while, then go. Others return when we least expect it.

Will the same be true of "The Sopranos"?

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Pot Banging Can Now Commence

The Brewers' best move in the last three weeks may have come Sunday night, when management had the good sense not to air the game against the Rangers in Arlington up against the "Sopranos" finale on HBO.

Too bad they didn't do the same thing the night before.

Saturday night's 4-3 flame-out qualifies as the early season low-point as Milwaukee squandered a 3-0 lead in the ninth with previously infallible closer Francisco Cordero on the mound. Four times--four flippin' times--he had Texas down to it's last strike only to see a Ranger hitter some how find a way on board.

The Brewers were the darlings of baseball the first month and a half of the season, compiling a 24-10 record while making the cover of Sports Illustrated, among other things. A couple of the players even made it onto the set of the CBS soap, "The Young and the Restless" for a cameo that airs later this month.

Will that prove to be the 2007 version of "The Sweep Suit"?

Miller Park still had "that new stadium smell" as the Brewers swept the Cubs at Wrigley in mid-June, 2001. The team wore garish threads, dubbed "sweep suits", on their collective way out of the clubhouse.

They went on to lose 60 of the next 90.

What's going on now has nothing to do with sartorial choice--it has a lot to do with team breakdowns and an inability to consistently put a complete game together.

Good pitching? Expect hitters to struggle.

Plate six runs? The starters stumble, or the bullpen goes up in flames.

The first 34 games of the year featured thrilling comebacks, clutch hits, stellar starts, and bulletproof relief pitching.

No more.

Manager Ned Yost doesn't swing a bat or toss a single pitch, but he makes out the lineup card--one that is seldom the same from night to night. He seems to be in full flail these days, desperately trying to find a combination that'll click at the plate. The result? Players who don't know their roles, when they'll be playing or where they'll be in the lineup. The hiccup is now a full-blown burp that's on the verge of a purge--as the Brewers piddle away their strong start and box office goodwill.

The Rangers are the worst team in baseball, if you go by this morning's standings. This weekend's performance by the Brewers shows you can't always believe what you read.

There's a lot of season to go, for sure, and strong showings on the road in Detroit and Minnesota in the days ahead could be a sign that a young club played through a horrendous streak and is now ready to make a statement. More losses will only add to the fans' discontent. Hoping that everyone else in your division keeps losing is no strategy for success.

The rest of the N-L Central is working on that premise when it comes to the Brewers, and so far, Milwaukee is living down to expectations.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Another "Sopranos" Casualty?

The job you don't want Monday morning: switchboard operator at the cable company.

I'm guessing there'll be scads of calls from HBO customers pulling the plug after "The Sopranos" finale airs Sunday night.

I thought about it.

There was a time when I couldn't have lived without HBO--the movies, "Inside The NFL", big-name boxing. Then came "Six Feet Under", "The Sopranos" and "Deadwood."

After Sunday, they'll all be gone.

I like "Entourage", and Bill Maher's "Real Time" is maddening: occasionally brilliant, sometimes uncomfortably obvious/unfunny/uncomfortable, but the pluses are still outweighing the negatives.

What is there to fill the void?

Fortunately, FX.

"Rescue Me" is back next week, and if you aren't already a fan, might I suggest you plug in a.s.a.p. Denis Leary is a New York firefighter bothered by the after-effects of 9-11, booze, a shattered marriage, a dysfunctional family, the death of a son, and the politics of the firehouse. Unbelievable television: stark, funny, poignant, gut-wrenching. Not for the faint of heart, which is a polite way of saying "stay away" if you're bothered by rough language, sex, and sophomoric humor.

Read more here.

Cable is, for the most part, a fly-over: endless clicks of faceless channels that all look alike in trying to pander to a certain demo or niche. FX is separating itself from the pack with each and every one of it's original offerings. It's a place to be forgotten the rest of the time, but offerings like "Rescue Me", "The Shield" and "Nip/Tuck" are making it a reliable stop. Toss in one of my guilty pleasures, Courtney Cox Arquette's "Dirt", and you've got a channel that's turning heads while offering a reliable alternate to HBO.

And, did I mention the best part?

It's free.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Somewhere, Dorothy And Toto Are Laughing

I'm guessing the parks in Stevens Point are empty today.

It's a sunny 90 degrees or so in Central Wisconsin, but I'll bet there isn't a single kid riding a bike, playing baseball, or just plain hangin' out even though the local school district gave them an unplanned day off.

Yeah, right.

The bonus vacation comes courtesy of officials who looked at today's forecast and decided it would be best to shut the schools because of THE POSSIBILITY of severe weather later today.

As I write this, there are no warnings or watches posted in the area.

This is one of those deals where the decision will look brilliant if, indeed, a funnel flattens Stevens Point Area Senior High School. That said, administrators will be punching bags if nothing happens.

Is this the start of a trend?

We remember not to long ago when Milwaukee Public Schools closed in advance of a pending snowstorm--one that looked to be a mortal lock, but that later fizzled out. Kids who were to be home helping mom and dad shovel out were packing local theatres and malls, while administrators got roasted.

Does the Point decision mean we're destined for more unplanned days off each time the National Storm Prediction Center colors Wisconsin red, raising the prospect that severe weather might develop?

I notice Marshfield, Wisconsin Rapids and Wausau didn't lemming along with Point--nor did smaller districts in the region. Will those administrators be accused of subjecting students to possible danger? Or, will they be hailed as practitioners of common sense--leaving the option open to send kids home early, or even put them in the basement of the school should the weather turn bad?

Someone in our newsroom asked the question, "Does this mean we should keep kids who take the bus to and from school each day home because there's a chance they could get into an accident?"

I can't imagine how this decision must be playing out in Stevens Point homes as family routines got blown apart by the district's decision to call off class. Parents probably had to scramble to find sitters. Some moms or dads might've had to take vacation or sick days to be with kids who would otherwise be in class. After all, Central Wisconsin industry continued today despite the pending doom supposedly heading our way.

The same "potential" for severe weather hangs over our heads this morning in Milwaukee, but as I look out my window, I see sunny skies and what looks to be a warm, windy, late-spring day.

I feel like tempting fate.

I think I'll do lunch on my deck.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Is Michael Vick The Tip Of The Iceburg?

The world no doubt knows by now about Michael Vick and the allegations that link him to a rather sizable dog fighting ring. He claims not to have taken part, but rather that he's a victim of the sleazy doings of relatives and their friends who used one of his homes for their ill-gotten gains.

I've heard sports-talk hosts say that Vick would be in less trouble if he'd done a Pacman Jones on someone--their take being that fans tolerate all manner of sick things someone might to to someone else, with zero tolerance for what a person might do to an animal.

Wednesday's New York Times ran the following piece about the prevalence of the pit bull in some NFL circles, and all but says there's a chance Vick isn't the only player with something more than a passing knowledge about the world of dog fighting.

Good Thing This Only Happens Every Two Years


Toileting monkeys.

That's what THIS little bit o' art is triggering in London.

Olympic organizers pull part of a website featuring the new 2012 logo after some viewers reported medical issues when watching some of the footage online.

Then, there's the buying public--the folks who'll have to wear this thing on the shirts, jackets and other swag they'd buy at the 2012 games.

I've been at several games, both winter and summer. I've seen good, and I've seen bad.

London's logo: bad.

Barcelona's mascot: worse.

What the hell is Cobi? It's been 15 years since they trotted his bare ass out, and I still haven't figured it out.

Then, there's Atlanta's "Izzy", as in, "What the hell IS HE?"

I didn't get to go to the 2004 Summer Games in Athens, and after seeing the mascots I'm glad I stayed home.

Seizures? No.
Toileting monkeys? Naw.
The gag reflex? Definitely.
Gathering the finest athletes in the world every two years is a noble venture--one that renews us as a globe, as a civilization.
Maybe someone on this blue and green rock can finally come up with an Olympic logo we can all rally around without controversy. The five rings still work for me.
Or, maybe we could hand an eight year old a box of Crayolas and let 'em have at it.
They couldn't do worse.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

We Travel Well...They Don't

"Take back Miller Park!"

The cry is enjoined once again this week as hoards of Cubs fans snarf up the best local baseball tickets and boo the home team Brewers. Worse, Chicago seems to have a knack of doing something in Milwaukee that they don't seem to do very much of away from here:

Win games.

I was talking with a buddy of mine today who just happens to work for the local major league baseball concern--who he is doesn't matter, but what he said spoke volumes.

To paraphrase, he points out how Packers fans prided themselves on making the annual trek to Tampa to literally take over the Buccaneers' home sombrero each NFL season, turning the stadium into Lambeau South. No one derided us snowbirds--in fact, we were lauded in most circles for "travelling well"--the sports euphemism for "having nothing else to do and nowhere else to spend our cash other than the local team."

Badgers fans were legendary for filling charters destined for Las Vegas, Hawaii and other exotic ports of call to watch the beloved Big Red. If memory serves, we're renown for drinking downtown Vegas CLEAN OUT OF BEER during one such road trip. UNLV actually added seats to accommodate the legions of snow birds making the trip west.

So why, then, do we give Cubs fans such a hard time for doing what we used to do, my buddy asked.
My answer was simple: Chicago fans are jerks.

And, in the interest of full disclosure, I used to be one.

Before the Brewers hopped leagues, my friends and I would make the drive to Wrigley, buy a couple of bleacher tickets ($5, if memory serves, and you could only buy them day-of-game) and build nice tans while destroying our livers with Old Style. We'd follow the Cubs to St. Louis, our passions fueled by the 1984 post-season near-miss.

Maybe it's old age, or the ravages of liquor on my memory banks but I don't remember anyone in our group being a tenth as obnoxious as today's Cubs fans are. They act like they own the place, boo the Brewers, and generally treat we locals as interlopers crashing THEIR party.

No other group earns such ire--Twins fans came here a few weeks ago without incident, and Cardinals fans dot the stands with nary a punch being thrown.

So what is it about Chicago?

Don't know.

They'll keep coming, though, because being a Cubs fan is one small part booster-dom and a heaping dose of entitlement brought on by decades of ineptitude and a feeling that "we can do what we want because we're fans of one of America's all-time sports train wrecks and, gosh, don't you just love us for being so loyal?"

No, we don't.

That said, there's only one way Chicago fans outnumber us at our own ballpark--we don't buy enough tickets, or those of us who do flip them to Cubs buyers for a price. It's supply and demand, people, and there are simply more of them buying and way too many of us selling.


They may be crude, rude and socially unacceptable but Cubs fans are nothing if not determined. We shouldn't fuel the fire by turning our tickets into cash.

And, don't think losing with stem the Chicago demand--their fans seem to have an insatiable appetite for that, and the Cubs keep feeding them.

Until, of course, the come to Milwaukee.