Monday I posted a series of photos that showed the field configuration for the Saturday game at Wrigley Field between Northwestern and Illinois. After the configuration was revealed, significant concern slowly built throughout the media this week.
(East end zone eliminated from offensive action)
Today the Big Ten addressed that concern, announcing that only one end zone will be used for offense by the teams on Saturday.
(Another angle of the eschewed, east end zone)
Offensive plays will only take place in the direction of the west end zone - facing the Cubs third base dugout. The east end zone will not be used for offense because the right field outfield wall is too close to that end zone’s endline. (Six inches!)
Illinois sports information director Kent Brown said of the decision on WMVP-AM in Chicago: Read more…
OK, we needed a story like this one. Tonight is Aaron Boone night at Wrigley Field, as the third baseman triumphantly returns to the Astros after undergoing open-heart surgery in March. You don’t hear “triumphant” and “Astros” in the same sentence very often, so enjoy it. Gratifying doesn’t half describe it.
Boone had just signed with the Astros and was going through his spring training paces in March when his doctor discovered that the heart irregularity he’s had since childhood — a defective aortic valve — had worsened. He required a somewhat risky open-heart surgery procedure to fix the problem. That is one hell of a way to get onto the 60-day disabled list. Read more…
Sure, there will be Rachel Nichols following his every move at practice for a while, then everyone will get all excited when he breaks off a 14-yard run from the Wildcat formation in a preseason game. But then he’ll fade away for a while as he serves his suspension, and by the time he is eligible to play in week six or so, he’s just going to a backup who comes on for a gimmick play every once in a while.
Philly was one of a long list of teams that reportedly had no interest in Vick as he was seeking a new job. In fact, many theorized that he’d have to resort to signing with the new UFL to have a chance to play. After all, what NFL team was going to be willing to absorb the PR hit, be willing to wait out his suspension, and be able to actually use him? The Eagles seemed unlikely on all fronts. They’ve already got two decent backup quarterbacks in Kevin Kolb and A.J. Feeley.
(You know things don’t look good for this league when they’re disappointed that they didn’t get the dog killer.)
So why add Vick to a team that doesn’t really need him? Andy Reid talks about wanting to give the guy a second chance, and even mentions the plight of his own children as a factor in the decision. The Eagles did use DeSean Jackson in the Wildcat on occasion last year, so maybe they want to expand that facet of their offense. Maybe they’ll try to turn him into a receiver, kick returner, or both. But can he learn to do those things at an NFL level in a matter of weeks?
None of that seems important right now, as most of the attention will be focused on the moral implications of signing a guy who just got out of prison two weeks ago for killing dogs. The PHILLY INQUIRER’s John Gonzalezsums up the struggle, and gives a very reasonable argument in favor of giving Vick another chance:
If you’ve already dug in and joined the anti-Vick camp, I won’t blame you or try to change your mind. People love dogs. I’m one of them. I’m a sucker for just about any animal, but the ones that roll over and play fetch and slobber all over me - even when I’m not at my best (which is most of the time) - are by far my favorite. What Vick did to those dogs was cruel and terrible and indefensible.
But I’m not going to kill the Eagles for signing him, and I’m not going to attack Vick or ascribe some pejorative label to the guy. I don’t know the man. I don’t know why he got involved with dogfighting. But I do know that he went to prison, and he lost his job, and he’s been beaten up quite a bit over the last two years. He’s been beaten up almost endlessly. And for good reason. Don’t get it twisted, he deserved his punishment - all of it. But after doing his time and losing almost everything he’d worked so hard to achieve, hasn’t he paid the price required of someone looking to purchase a second chance?
Ultimately, I think NFL fans will be OK with Vick. Everything he’s said and done recently indicates that he’s remorseful about what he did and that he’s committed to rebuilding his image. But for now, even the fans in Philly are split on this – a poll on PHILLY.COM shows that they are about 53-47 against signing Vick.
Ironically, Landon didn’t pick up the illness in Mexico, where the latest epidemic of the ol’ H1N1 originated. Instead, he got it from two staff members of the L.A. Galaxy, Donovan’s MLS team. The L.A. TIMES reports that the staff members picked it up during the Galaxy’s match with the New England Revolution in Foxboro. That’s right, Pats fans. Swine flu is just stewing in your stadium. Good luck with that, Brady.
(”So, if there’s swine flu on Bernard Pollard’s helmet…”)
Donovan admits that he felt crappy during Wednesday’s game, but chalked it up to the elevation and poor air quality in Mexico City. He is unlikely to play in the Galaxy’s home game tomorrow against Seattle, and more unlikely to ever come within 25 feet of David Beckham the rest of this season (which isn’t much of a change — he just has a medical reason now).
I suppose it’s shouldn’t be surprising if we hear of athletes starting to come down with the virus. MLB pitcher Vicente Padilla came down with it a couple of weeks ago, and as many as 1 million people nationwide have probably been infected at some point. While there is little danger of any serious repercussions (Donovan is sick, but nothing beyond your average flu bug), it could be devastating to a team if multiple players were to suffer from the illness at the same time. NFL teams in particular need to be careful, or at least plan on catching it the week they play the Lions.
• Quentin Richardson has been traded — for the fourth time this offseason. The T-Wolves sent him to Miami yesterday for Mark Blount. That means he has now been swapped for Darko Milicic, Zach Randolph, Sebastian Telfair, Mark Madsen, and now Blount. That’s a lot of headcases and one terrible dancer.
• The DAILY MAIL has a story today about Kirsty Gallacher, girlfriend of rugby player Paul Sampson, daughter of golfer Bernard Gallacher, and former Sky Sports personality. Just wanted to establish a sports-related reason to run this photo:
Over the years, many people have sought to find reasons for the Chicago Cubs’ 100-years-and-counting championship drought. The more realistic Cubs fans usually blame a combination of inept ownership and poor talent development, but that hasn’t stopped people from blaming, goats, curses, youth sports coaches, or even God for the team’s struggles.
Proving once again that FOX’s Ken Rosenthal gets to the heart of the biggest stories in MLB, he reported yesterday during the Cubs-Dodgers telecast that the Cubs are going to be getting rid of the Gatorade dispenser in their dugout after Ryan Dempster and Carlos Zambrano beat the living crap out of it in separate incidents earlier this week.
In the good old days, players just laid the wood to a garden-variety barrel that was easily replaced by a new one. But the dispenser (pictured above) is like the self-serve soda machine at your local fast-food joint — an actual mechanism that requires a service call to fix if it’s blasted with 35 ounces of maple. And, “in this economy,” the Cubs decided they didn’t want to have to keep calling the repairman to come put the thing back together.
Dempster, in a somewhat hilarious interview (video after the jump), says the dispenser will be missed but has to share in some of the blame.
Memorial Day became a haven for needless violence in Yokohama, Japan, and Chicago, Illinois, yesterday for two formerly famous people - rather against the purpose of the day. If you have a particularly queasy stomach and can’t bear the sight of blood or nostalgia, please look away now.
When do you cross the line from fan to fanatic? The new trend is coffins and urns decked out with your favorite team’s logo. That’ll cause friends and family to say, “Oh, Jim always was crazy about baseball.” Well, now we’ve got our own Cubs mausoleum. Try that, and they’ll be saying, “Oh, Jim always was bats**t crazy.”
Modeled after Wrigley field, complete with red brick and ivy, comes Beyond the Vines. There is room for 288 “season ticket holders” to rest peacefully in “Eternal Skyboxes.” See, that’s funny, because I always thought the appropriate place for Cubs to be buried was in the NL Central cellar.
Every now and then, a story will appear about some dopey parents naming their newborn child something stupid, like Saban or Kobe or Espn, in honor of their favorite coach, cut of beef or, uh, TV station. Usually, the story is accompanied by a picture of the proud parents sitting in the living room of their trailer pre-fabricated home, wearing their finest team sweatpants. These people are then mocked by the rest of us, life goes on, the kid ends up dropping out of high school to become a produce clerk, the end.
None of this scorn and ridicule applies, however, to a certain member of the University of Wisconsin-Madison student government. Her name, you see, is Elizabeth Wrigley-Field, and she deserves nothing but respect.