Saturday, February 25, 2012

This Guest Always Welcome

Jim Guest is one of those guys you meet everyday. Except you don't.

He's a Hall of Fame high school gymnastics coach. A molder of talent, character, integrity, pride and accomplishment. He makes people better. Not just better gymnasts (he's had multiple team state champions and too many individual champions to count). He makes them better people.

They become coaches. Teachers. Parents. Mentors. Administrators. Athletics directors. You name it. Then they help students become better people, athletes, gymnasts ... you get it by now.

The world needs more Jim Guests. He was the same person I met when we played softball together more than 20 years ago as he is now, entering the Illinois High School Association Girls Gymnastics Coaches Association Hall of Fame a few weeks ago. I was honored to attend his luncheon. Listen to his presenter, a former athlete of his, tell the funny and poignant tales that make him who he is.

And I'll be as honored to buy him a beer one of these nights, if we can find one, as I always was to buy him one after a softball game, after he got a key hit or made a key defensive play to help us to a win. Or not.

Jim's one of those guys intensely focused on winning. Gymnastics titles. Team titles. And, more importantly, family titles. Like successful dad, husband, provider.

And my friend. Thanks, Jim...


According to, the word "inflection" means "...

 process or device of adding affixes to or changing the shape of a base to give it a different syntactic function without changing its form."

I'm concentrating on it here because Cubs' owner Tom Ricketts used it repeatedly with the media the other day in Arizona as the Cubs, who haven't won a World Series in 103+ years, prepare for year 104. He called this year's shake-up of the front office "an inflection inflection point for the organization."

I don't know about any of you out there, but the "syntactic" part is the thing I'm really excited about. Can't wait for that to take shape.

Ricketts also told the media, assembled in sunny Mesa, Ariz., that Cubs fans should "...have expectations" this year, as opposed to patience. He expects to have a good year, a great year. He's excited about the "Cubs Way" manual new Baseball President Theo Epstein is instilling throughout the entire organization.

Have expectations, huh fans? Be careful what you ask for, Mr. Ricketts. Cubs fans with expectations are called people who still hate Steve Bartman.


ESPN the Magazine wants to know what the greatest rivalry in sports is. Ohio State-Michigan football is what they say. 

And here I always thought it was, "Scott Pilgrim Versus The World." The difference between ESPN the Magazine's pick and mine is that Scott Pilgrim gets laid if he wins. The Ohio State-Michigan loser, well,  gets f--ked.


Do you believe in conspiracies? If not, why haven't the Patriots won the Super Bowl since the famous "Spygate" incident of 2007 when they were caught filming the Jets sideline in a game, the tape was destroyed and the once dynastic team is still searching for a Super Bowl win (thank you, Eli Manning)?

Screw you and your God-damn hoodie, Belichick...


What's the best sports movie ever? "Moneyball," nominated for this year's best? "Remember the Titans." "Slapshot." "Bad News Bears" (the original - it was pretty freakin' funny with Walter Matthau as a convincing drunk for a coach).

Me? I'll take "Miracle." The 1980 U.S. Hockey Team's upset of the Russians might have been the greatest sports upset ever and it definitely spawned the single greatest sports photo I've ever seen. The cover of the ensuing S.I. was just the team falling over itself and the American flag waving in the background in the stands and no other words on the cover except, "Sports Illustrated" and the date.

How do I know? I'm staring at it right now. It remains and always will remain centered in my office/den bookcase. Thank you S.I. And Herb Brooks. And Kurt Russell, who had him down perfectly in the flick. 

Almost cried. Almost...Can never see Mike Eruzione's goal go in enough times or hear Al Michaels' call, "Do you believe in miracles?" enough times.


All those other great sports flicks have great endings and the heroes overcome adversity and win. So does the U.S. team in "Miracle."

Except, for real...

Peyton Manning and $28 million. Andrew Luck and about $19 million (see Newton, Cam). Give me both and shut up about the whole thing already, OK everybody? Manning deserves to finish his career in the town renamed in his honor - Peytonapolis. Sorry, Reggie Miller. Conference final's greatness, even at Madison Square Garden, doesn't override a Super Bowl title. You get Miller Avenue, maybe.

Irsay, give Manning what he deserves and Luck what he needs - Manning to groom him.


Howard Schlossberg is editor of the Journal of Sports Media, with his first edition due out this year. He's an associate professor of journalism at Columbia College Chicago, where creativity and learning are embraced hand-in-hand. And he still writes sports for the Daily Herald in Chicago's northwest suburbs.; www.colum.edu

Monday, February 6, 2012

Suddenly Super. Or ... not

You watched the Super Bowl, even though your team didn't play in it.. You know you did, between sips and bites and ogling someone else's Significant Other.

My team played. My Giants. In case you missed it, they won. I couldn't even look at the live play unfold some of the time, I'm so superstitious, so nervous and so devout a fan.

My friend Gary and I usually call each other after a Giants appearance in the Super Bowl, Knicks appearance in the NBA finals or Rangers appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals. OK, that's not a lot of phone calls, but who's counting.

After the final gun, when the Brady Bunch's Hail Mary hit the turf, I picked up my phone to call Gary. And then remembered I couldn't. He died as a result of a bizarre accident last year.

Even after all these years, I'm still Y.A. Tittle to his Del Shofner. I'm still Walt Frazier to his Bill Bradley. I'm still Mark Messier to his ... eh, what did he know about hockey anyway?

We swapped calls after Latrell Sprewell carried the Knicks into an NBA Finals they'd lose; after the Giants got embarrassed by the Ravens in the Super Bowl; and after Eli hit Plax with the game-winner four years ago (Plax shoulda' kept running after he caught that one).

And I was about to call him Sunday after Tom Brady's last hurrah fluttered to the end zone ground, with Patriots fans wishing Rob Gronkowski had a good enough ankle with which to dive for it (if he did, the whole game would've been different and that Hail Mary play likely never would've happened anyway).

Gary passed 13 months ago and I've still never erased his contact info from my computer or my cell phone.

And I never will.


As good as Moneyball was on the big screen (it got six Academy Award nominations), Pride of the Yankees got 11, most ever for a sports movie (awarded only one though). Sylvester Stallone's Rocky went 3-for-10.


Will someone please tell President Sports-Obrama to stop borrowing and spending. We can't run our households like that. We'd be on the street, homeless. How much you want to bet he shows up at the Final 4? And at a Bulls' playoff game, especially if it's game seven of the Eastern Conference finals versus Miami.

Mr. Sports-Obrama, please hold all federal spending at current levels until the budget is balanced, no matter how long it takes. If I can do it at home, so can you. Stop making believe you're George Dubya' on a prewar shopping spree. This is why we elected you in '08. Romney can't fix it. Gingrich won't, except to spend any excesses on gfs.

Sports-Obrama won't either. It isn't politically expedient, especially if you want to get re-elected. And get choice seats for the Final Four. And Bulls' playoff games.


Madonna will never perform at a Bulls' playoff game, but her halftime show was great, striking a blow for my generation, with no Usher dropping in from the sky nor Slash popping up from under the stage. As good as that group is from last year's game, by comparison, their show was more like Black Eyed P-U. And thanks to M.I.A. for reminding us that Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction will never be forgotten but can be beaten. Anyway, they said Madonna is 53. I believe she actually has a (Don't Cry For Me) Argentina birth certificate which likely says she's older, like most South American athletes with whom she, uh, plays ball. But doesn't she still looks good enough to eat?

Out with.


Odds: Patriots are Las Vegas' Super Bowl favorites already for next year. I guess Wes Welker can drop key passes in consecutive Super Bowls ... Isn't it great how NBC shamelessly promo'd its "The Voice," which debuted after the game (nice lead-in audience) with stars Blake Shelton singing pre-game and Cee Lotso' Green joining Madonna at halftime. Only thing worse would've been having Christina Aguilera flubbing lines from the National Anthem. No, wait ... I don't know about you, but now that the Super Bowl is over, I'm going to Disney World. Hey, I want to go someplace quiet while the G8 and NATO Summits host a few thousand protesters here in Chi-town. Besides, I've already got my house rented out for those weeks. Gotta' remember though to switch the contents of my Amaretto and apple juice bottles before I leave.

Prediction: Next year's Super Bowl, one more legacy group, The Eagles, perform at halftime, and Miley and Billy Ray Cyrus screw up the words to the National Anthem before the game. Lord, please, take me to Disney World.

Howard Schlossberg is editor of the Journal of Sports Media, with his first edition due out this year. He's an associate professor of journalism at Columbia College Chicago, where creativity and learning are embraced hand-in-hand. And he still writes sports for the Daily Herald in Chicago's northwest suburbs.; www.colum.edu