Random News of the Day: Blood in the Water

Random News of the Day: Blood in the Water

Tuesday, July 13, 2010
12:50 PM

By Joe Collins
CSNChicago.com

I caught up with a group of friends a few days ago at the World's Largest Block Party in Chicago's West Loop. It's a Windy City midsummer tradition: spend 40, drink a few beverages, inhale a funnel cake or two, listen to a few bands and go home. And according to legend (or really savvy word-of-mouth marketing), singles are supposed to meet their soulmate at this street festival and then go on to get married at St. Patrick's Church -- the same church that happens to sponsor the fest. Isn't that nice? Most of the fest-hoppers in our group are in committed relationships anyway. I'm one of them. The "soulmate search" is a moot point. So the entertainment portion of the night usually revolves around people-watching. And let me tell you ... it is pure comedy. Cringing, trainwreck, pure comedy.

The World's Largest Block Party is eHarmony on steroids: too many people trying way too hard to make a positive impression on others (hey, I was also one of those people way back when). What's interesting is that you can spot the single people a mile away. They all stand together in groups, with their heads on a swivel like Charles Tillman dropping into a Cover-2 defense, planning to swarm Mr. or Ms. Right. By the time we saw the 1,000th girl with embalming-style makeup, choked on somebody's Axe Body Spray and heard the 1,000th "So, you come to this fest every year?" pickup line, we pretty much agreed that the people at the World's Largest Block Party -- and maybe the fest itself -- had jumped the shark.

(Note: I'm sure that most of you know what the term "Jump The Shark" means. It can be defined as, "the exact point when a person, place, thing or activity becomes uncool and loses all credibility and popularity and turns into a running joke." The term "Jump The Shark" came about from the TV sitcom "Happy Days", when Fonzie literally jumped over a shark in an episode. The show, arguably, had lost all credibility and was doomed from that point forward.)

LeBron James jumped the shark on Thursday. He tried too hard to make an impression and ended up looking ridiculous in the process. Miraculously, he jumped again over the weekend with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade in that dry heave of a welcoming party. It was badly choreographed, mockable, tacky and reeked of Limburger. Seriously, the three of them walkingdancing on that catwalk looked like a bad Falco video.

But it's not the first time that an athlete has completely jumped the shark. When did your favorite athlete or hero jump the shark? Was it something they said? Something they did? Personobject that they dated? I came up with a short list of athletes that, at one point or another, have done something so completely ridiculous that they lost every shred of credibility. They went from being liked to hated ... or from liked to pitied. Or even tolerated to hatedpitied.

Such as:

Terrell Owens (doing situps in his driveway)
Roger Clemens (leaving the Red Soxthrowing a bat at Mike Piazza)
Barry Bonds (any press conference from 2003-2008)
Roberto Alomar (the spit)
Ryan Leaf (Day 1)
Shani Davis (any interview from the 2006 Olympics)
Tonya Harding (the planned attack on Nancy Kerrigan)
Dennis Rodman (anything from the first hair change to today)
Milton Bradley ("What else you got?")
Adam Morrison (crying on the court)
Ricky Williams ("finding himself")
Joe Namath (either the 1974 pantyhose ad or the "I wanna kiss you!" comment does it)
Fuzzy Zoeller (comments about Tiger Woods)
Chris Pronger (to me, it was any postgame interview during the 2010 Stanley Cup Final)
Brett Favre (every summer for the past several years)
Bobby Knight (I know ... not an athlete per se, but once you throw a chair, you qualify)
John Rocker (the New York comments)
Allen Iverson ("talking 'bout ... practice")
Ron Artest (applying for a job at Circuit City trumps the Palace Brawl incident for me)
Shaquille O'Neal (the movie "Kazaam")
Mike Tyson (pick a moment, any moment)
Carlos Zambrano (see: Mike Tyson)
Sammy Sosa (the corked bat)
Any athlete that has admitted using a performance-enhancing drug
Any athlete that has run afoul with the law more than once (hey ... we all make mistakes, right?)

And that's an extremely short list. I could have put down a Fortune 500 list of crazy if I had the time.

Unfortunately, because of the TMZ'ified world we live in, all a player has to do is breathe improperly and they get branded as "shark jumpers." It's the price that they pay for living in the spotlight. We love building people up and love tearing 'em down.

A lot of people say that Michael Jordan jumped the shark ... repeatedly. He switched from basketball to baseball ... and back, he joined the Wizards and surlied his way through a Hall of Fame speech. But the vast majority of sports fans still love Michael Jordan. And that's the beauty of sports. Unlike TV shows, athletes can jump the shark multiple times. We're all suckers. We pay big bucks to see them in person. We put up with their attempts at music. We buy their jerseys. They dump us a few times. Or many times. But we come back. We always do. Being a fan of a sports team usually outlasts anything. It's for life. And watching what happens post shark-jump is just as entertaining as what happened beforehand.

Makes me wonder if the waters around South Beach are shark infested.

Or something like that.

Joe Collins is an assignment desk editor for Comcast SportsNet and contributor to CSNChicago.com.

Preview: It's 'Hammel Time' as Cubs face Nationals Saturday on CSN

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Preview: It's 'Hammel Time' as Cubs face Nationals Saturday on CSN

The Cubs have to lead the league in T-shirts. Manager Joe Maddon makes his fashion sense part of the team’s identity while star players like Jake Arrieta, Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant pile up the endorsements. Here’s another campaign: “Jason Hammel for President.”  

The Major League Baseball Players Association and Fresh Brewed Tees have teamed up to play off the election season, with Hammel, Rizzo, Bryant and Ben Zobrist featured in the presidential collection and the Cubs facing off against the Washington Nationals this weekend.

It will be “Hammel Time” today on Comcast SportsNet Chicago, with coverage beginning at 2:30 p.m. before a good pitching matchup between the Cubs right-hander (4-0, 1.24 ERA) and Washington lefty Gio Gonzalez (2-1, 1.15 ERA). Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on Cubs Postgame Live.

— Channel finder: Make sure you know where to watch.

— Latest on the Cubs: All of the most recent news and notes.

— See what fans are talking about before, during and after the game with Cubs Pulse.

White Sox: Jake Petricka hopes DL stint is short

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White Sox: Jake Petricka hopes DL stint is short

Jake Petricka will have to resume some mechanical work with Don Cooper as soon as he’s healthy.

With hip tightness he’s experienced in the early part of the season continuing to linger, the White Sox reliever went on the 15-day disabled on Thursday. Petricka has a right-hip impingement and seems optimistic that rest and treatment should have him on the mend quickly.

“I have a little history of tight IT bands,” Petricka said. “I just thought it was part of the normal wear and tear, so I upped my other stuff to take care of it and it just kept coming back and coming back and it kinda hit a point.

“It sucks being on the DL, but I think Herm (Schneider) will take care of me and get it cleaned out and be good to go when I get back.”

Petricka described the injury as a minor ailment. With treatment, he can avoid a worse future injury. But he needs at least a week off, which forced the White Sox to place him on the DL.

Petricka has struggled with command early in the season. He has issued eight walks and allowed eight hits in eight innings, which has resulted in a 4.50 ERA. The right-hander said he and Cooper have begun to try and make some corrections and he hopes to get back to it shortly.

“I felt good,” Petricka said. “Obviously, location has been off. We were looking at mechanics and stuff with Coop and we were getting into a good groove of figuring stuff out and this kind of popped up. We’ll pick up right where we left off when we’re done with this.”

Lackey's 'country hardball' leads to 11 strikeouts in win over Nationals

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Lackey's 'country hardball' leads to 11 strikeouts in win over Nationals

John Lackey struck out 11 hitters for the second time this season Friday.

He had a slightly different way of describing it:

“We’re going to play a little country hardball and figure it out.”

The “country hardball” was working well for Lackey, who punched out nearly a dozen Washington Nationals in the Cubs’ 8-6 win at Wrigley Field, matching a season high in whiffs and earning his fourth win of the year.

After surrendering a pair of early runs, Lackey settled in nicely, allowing just two hits in his final five innings of work. Getting a ton of assistance from his offense certainly helped, the Cubs digging out of that early 2-0 hole by bashing four home runs against Nationals ace Max Scherzer.

Given Scherzer’s fate, Lackey’s performance on a day when the ball was soaring out of the Friendly Confines was particularly impressive. So too was his second 11-strikeout game of 2016 after not reaching that number in any game last season with the Cardinals.

“It was definitely a day for the hitters. A little warmer, wind blowing the other direction. It was a tough challenge today, for sure, with a good lineup, and I was fortunate to get a few strikeouts,” Lackey said. “You never know with the fly ball when things are like that around here.

“You’re going to have to miss some bats in this ballpark, especially later on in the summer when it warms up. Obviously it’s not a great place to pitch some days when the wind’s blowing out. It can play pretty small. Today I was fortunate.”

The Cubs’ hitters will take the headlines and make the highlight shows, an unsurprising result when Ben Zobrist hits four homers in three games and the Cubs boast a mind-boggling plus-98 run differential.

But that run differential and the Cubs’ success in general — 22 wins in their first 28 games of the season — wouldn’t be possible without elite pitching. Jake Arrieta’s credentials are well known, as are Jon Lester’s, and Jason Hammel has dazzled, too, with a 1.24 ERA.

Lackey has maybe seemed the odd man out with an ERA north of 4.00, but he’s shone in more than half his starts this season. In fact, he’s finding the confines at Wrigley to be quite friendly, owning a 2-0 record and a 2.49 ERA in three home starts. He’s gone at least seven innings in three of his last four starts and has a team-high 40 strikeouts on the season.

Make no mistake, every piece of this five-man rotation is pulling his weight, and Lackey is no exception.

“I’ve been in a few rotations, I try to handle my own business,” Lackey said. “We definitely root for each other hard. Jake’s on another level right now doing his thing. It’s a great group, it’s a fun group to hang out with and we work hard in the weight room, push each other. And then whoever’s day is that day, I’m their biggest fan, and I hope everybody does well.”

Lackey also became the fifth active pitcher to reach 2,000 career strikeouts, an achievement he chalked up to being old.

“I guess it means I’m old and been around a while, done a few things.”

The truth is that Lackey has “done a few things,” and it’s why he’s here. Theo Epstein’s front office brought Lackey in this winter because of his pedigree, which includes a pair of World Series rings and a dominating performance against this very Cubs lineup in Game 1 of last year’s NLDS.

Lackey signed on for the same reason the other big-name free agents did this offseason: This Cubs team has a chance to make his jewelry collection even more impressive.

With the Cubs owning the title of baseball’s best team almost 30 games into this season, is it time to start comparing this group with Lackey’s past title-winning squads?

“It’s a little early to get too crazy,” Lackey said. “Let’s play a little baseball.”