Monday, October 6, 2008

5 Perplexing College Nicknames

A great college nickname is something a student body can rally around. Some nicknames have become so ingrained in a school's history that the name of the institution itself is no longer necessary. Words like Huskers, Boilers, Irish, and Tide are information enough.

And then there are the other nicknames. I imagine the intentions were pure. Intending to put their obscure school on the map, administrators and students picked a nickname that would really help them stand out. The following schools on this list probably should have gone with Wildcats instead.

Columbia College Claim Jumpers
The above picture was virtually the only image related to this Hollywood, CA school that I could find on Google. The remaining photos shown to me when I typed in "Columbia Claim Jumpers" were of hippies eating at a Claim Jumper establishment. As for the actual definition of 'claim jumper,' Princeton College tells me that a claim jumper is "one who illegally occupies property to which another has a legal claim." America at its finest!

Rhode Island School of Design Nads

Here we have proof that stuffy art students can retain a sense of humor. RISD is known as the Harvard of art schools, which sounds like high praise to me. I find it far more interesting that the Nads(RISD's hockey squad) have fans that get to chant "Go Nads!" at the top of their lungs. The school recently formed a basketball team, the RISD Balls, complete with their own slogan: "When the heat is on, the Balls stick together." I could not possibly make this up.

Webster University Gorloks
This mascot appears to be a hip-looking take on a Wildcat or something, right? There's only one problem. What exactly is a gorlok? Well, according to the school's website, a gorlok is a "mythical creature" that was "designed by Webster staff and students" that is equipped with "the paws of a speeding cheetah, horns of a fierce buffalo, and the face of a dependable Saint Bernard."


Evergreen State Crocodile Penises
Kidding! Evergreen State's mascot is actually the geoduck(pronounced GOO-ee-duck), which is apparently a clam-like creature of the sea. Such an odd choice in a mascot must make for one interesting institution, so I read up a little bit on the Geoducks. If you don't want to read any more than you have to, I'll sum things up with a game of What Does Not Belong? One of these tidbits about Evergreen State is false. It's up to you to decide which one.
  • Evergreen State does not give grades to students, presumably because grades are evil creations of money-grubbing corporations.
  • Michael Richards is a proud alum of Evergreen State.
  • Evergreen State's level of academic challenge ranks in the top 10 percent of the nation.
  • Because marijuana is legal in Washington, students are encouraged to come to class in an "altered state" to encourage outside-the-box thinking.

Which one does not belong? I'll give you a hint by telling you that Michael Richards is indeed a former student at Evergreen State, which leads me to believe that the school is close to changing its nickname to the Evergreen State Psychopathic Racist Nutjobs.

Arkansas-Monticello Boll Weevils
Watch out! Here come the boll weevils! They feed on cotton and flowers and live for up to 3 weeks! Apparently the southern states have a fondness for the boll weevil that we here in the North have yet to find for the cicada. The town of Enterprise, Alabama built a monument in 1919 that still stands today that's dedicated to...any guesses? Equality? A balanced breakfast? Nope!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen, Your 2008 NL Frontrunners!!

Game 2 of the Chicago Cubs vs. the Los Angeles Dodgers was one of the most painful experiences of my life, and as a kid I faced daily ridicule because of my infatuation with sweatpants hiked up to my sternum. That look on Jim Edmonds's face was my expression from the 2nd inning onward. In fact, my visage was so consistently frozen in extreme pain that it actually stuck. I can't undo my pain face. I'm actually sitting in my Cubbie-blue boxers and sobbing like a neglected baby, if you can picture it. Simon and Garfunkel is playing in the background, and my immediate surroundings smell of lilacs and despair.

Ok, so I'm exaggerating a bit. But good lord, what HAPPENED last night? The team that I saw was not the team that went 55-26 at home. If we discount Carlos Zambrano, every member of the team looked either confused, petrified, or both. Kosuke Fukudome might as well have gone up to the plate with chopsticks. 4 errors were made, one by each infielder. Ummm...what? Yes, even though I saw it happen, I still can't believe it. The errors were committed by Mark DeRosa, Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, and Ryan Theriot.

Let's imagine for a second that the league champion in the regular season is anyone other than the Cubs. The team lost Game 1 at home, and it desperately needs to salvage a split before it goes on the road. The crowd has worked itself into a pregame frenzy, desperate to do whatever they can to help their team win. On the mound is the team's emotional barometer and almost certainly the man that would take the ball in a 1-game, do-or-die situation. The top of the 1st concludes quickly and feverishly, with a swinging strikeout of the opposing team's best hitter. The crowd is rabid and smelling blood. The leadoff man ropes a single to left in the bottom of the 1st, and advances to 2nd on a wild pitch. Batting 2nd in the order is the team's best contact hitter.

There is no way that run doesn't score, right? The contact hitter finds a way to advance the leadoff man to 3rd, and the 3rd and 4th hitters in the lineup each get a shot at bringing the leadoff man that last 90 feet. The run scores, momentum shifts, and there is no way on God's green earth the lead will be relinquished.

But this is the Cubs. Theriot struck out, Lee and Ramirez squandered their at-bats, and Soriano was stranded on 2nd. On to the 2nd inning meltdown.

As an example of what SHOULD happen when the league's best team finds itself unexpectedly against the wall, watch what the Angels do tonight against the Red Sox. The BoSox have Dice-K and a 10 game postseason win streak against Anaheim on their side, but this is irrelevant. Ervin Santana will feed off of his crowd, his fielders' gloves will be true, and Anaheim will find a way to win Game 2. The best team on the field, shockingly, plays like the best team on the field when it really matters. Unless that team is the Chicago Cubs.

Last Night's LVPs:

1. Kosuke Fukudome - 0-for-4 with 3 K's and 4 men left on base. This guy currently looks more lost than Jack, Kate, and Sawyer combined. He'll give a nice breeze to any offspeed pitch that's low and out of the strike zone.
2. Mark DeRosa - I hate to do this because he had some fantastic late ABs, but you absolutely HAVE to turn that double play in the 2nd. Tailor-made is an understatement. That ball's destiny was to be gobbled up and turned into two. Had that actually taken place, the Cubs would have escaped from the inning unscathed with Mr. Momentum back in their pocket. But Wrigley Field is the devil, and something caused DeRosa, arguably the team's MVP, to botch it.
3. Dick Stockton - Ok Dick, I'm generally a good guy with a soft spot for geezers who really need to retire but won't because they think having a job wards off the Reaper, but if you don't learn how to pronounce the word "error"(lord knows you had to say it often enough last night), I am going to find you and rip your beloved Cialis out of your decomposing hands.
4. Lou Piniella - It's a manager's job, especially in the postseason, to put the best lineup on the field each night. Some Cubs are staples and will never be benched in a crucial game, regardless of past performance. These people are currently Lee, Ramirez, Soriano, Geovany Soto, and DeRosa. You'll notice that Kosuke Fukudome did not make that list. He looked just as bad in Game 1 as he did in Game 2, if not more so. I'm certain that Sweet Lou entertained the idea of benching Kosuke, throwing DeRosa in RF, and putting Mike "Pocket Rocket" Fontenot at 2B, especially after Fontenot's beautiful at-bat in Game 1. Well, instead of entertaining the idea, Lou really should have made that happen. Am I saying that Fontenot would have turned that double play in the 2nd? Not really. There's no way to predict how a different fielder might have handled that ball. All I'm saying is that most 12-year-olds in Williamsport will turn that grounder into two.

On a side note, this game really is a bonafide biatch. After a never-ending 162 game season, can you believe the Cubs are essentially cooked after 2 measley games? It's such a small sample size; playoff teams really need a good amount of luck to advance. For example, if James Loney doesn't catch that one little seam on the baseball to foul off a great pitch from Dempster and stay alive in Game 1, then he never hits that grand slam and the Cubs go on to win. If that double play in the 2nd is turned, the Cubs play the game differently and possibly go to LA up 2-0. Instead, they got smoked in both games. The combined score so far is LA 17, Chicago 5.

Last Night's MVP:

Carlos Zambrano - This one is a no-brainer. He was the only Cub out there who was unafraid and absolutely, 100% prepared to pitch 12 innings of lights-out baseball if necessary. His at-bats were about 87 million times more impressive than Fukudome's. He unbelievably kept his composure as the walls were caving in around him in the 2nd inning. He made one bad pitch all night, the heater to Manny which only resulted in a solo home run. The standing ovation he got when he was removed last night was completely appropriate, and a testament to the knowledge of Cubs fans. They knew they saw a great game from Z, even if the scoreboard didn't reflect it.

So now what? Well, the Cubs have work to do. It needs to happen one game at a time. Rich Harden is throwing against Hiroki Kuroda in Game 3, a matchup similiar to Jason McElwain vs. LeBron James in a 3-point shooting contest. In case it's unclear, this means that Harden has filthy stuff, Kuroda is garbage, and J-Mac would smoke LeBron.

I'm actually glad that the Cubs are thousands of miles from Wrigley Field for these next 2 games. I'll write more on this later, but a while back I decided that the Cubs' friendly confines are actually all that is evil in this world, and the stadium needs to be demolished, brick by treacherous brick. While I was met with criticism and death threats when I first wrote about it, somehow I feel that Cubs fans will be more receptive to the idea this time around. You just let that idea simmer, and I'll be back later to discuss it.

Thursday, October 2, 2008


One swing of the bat ended the Cubs' season last night. At least according to the fans sitting in a cold Wrigley and one in his room in Des Moines.

A guy named Loney(Tunes) was able to summon the demons of Cubs past, goats and all, and crush the dreams of a fan collective only five innings into the postseason. Is it really over? No way. If good Carlos Zambrano fires a gem it will become a three game series, but that doesn't matter. The first game was the harbinger. Our ace was on the mound and ready to begin the end of a collective suffering. He won 14 games at home this year - the most since 1967 when some guy named Jenkins won 15 at Wrigley. But that's not how it played out. Bats were cold and our ace walked 7. A grand slam and a couple homers later and an entire stadium was rendered silent. (Including one home run that I still can't believe left the park, let alone make it 25 rows into dead-center....stupid Manny.)

This just goes to show the fragile state that is Cubs fandom. We are twitchy, superstitious, and depressive. We laugh at the 100 year jokes, but cry a little on the inside when we hear them. We embrace "lovable losers" and deride teams like the Yankees for winning - even though we secretly envy those in the Bronx.

Tonight is game two and I will be stationed in front of my television to watch the worst baseball broadcast ever. I'm not going to start that rant. Just read below; he nailed it.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Night 1 of MLB's Postseason: National League Observations

I've said this before and I'll say it again: There is no reason to keep baseball's regular season as long as it is. Even the most hardcore fan finds himself (or herself-sources tell me women love a man in a baseball uniform) completely bored by the monotony in mid-August. The NFL, NHL, and NBA have yet to officially start up, so our only options are baseball and the WNBA regular season, which generally has as much excitement and tears as a good nosehair trimming. Not good times.

From a fan's standpoint, there are some arguments that are in favor of keeping the 162-game baseball season as interminable as it is, most of which are concerned with keeping baseball's tradition intact. It is our national pasttime, after all(which is a lie-the NFL took the pasttime title away in the mid-90s). Truthfully, of all the major sports, individual statistics are the most important in baseball. Numbers have turned Gehrig, Ruth, Cobb, Mantle, Williams, and Musial not into simply dead dudes, but mythical gods. Shortening the season makes statistics skewed, something Joe Baseballfan cannot stand. We want records broken and we want Barry Bonds and his cheating numbers surpassed, but with a shortened season, this is less likely to occur.

From the owners' standpoint(and this is the only argument that really matters), it's not rocket science. A shorter season means fewer home games, which means less money. Obviously, a shorter baseball season is not realistic.

So here we are, on the first day of October and well into Autumn, and playoff baseball is just beginning. It's a shame, really. In a 144-game format, the season would be shortened by about 3 weeks. I'm watching Game 1 of Cubs/Dodgers as I'm writing this, and I see fans bundled up with sweatshirts, coats, and blankets, and Ryan Dempster is sporting a playoff beard not as a good luck charm, but as frostbite prevention. When exactly did it become a good idea to end our joyful summer game in 40 degree weather and angry gusts of wind? This is not how baseball's crown should be determined. You think baseball, you think warm weather. Not shivers and stagnant offensive performances. Wow, thank the lord I waited this season out; now I get to watch Milwaukee and Philly combine for 8 hits. Oh, the joy.

As far as the owners are concerned, try to channel whatever's left of the creativity that netted you all that money in the first place. Bolster advertising revenue, or bring in more merchandising and concession sales. Hike the effing ticket prices! I don't care...I only see 2 or 3 games per year in person, anyway. You're only losing 9 home games in all. You still have 72 of them. Shut up and make the changes for the greater good. Baseball is not a cold weather affair, you penny-pinching geezers. Silenced bats and snowfall is bad for this beautiful game. Stop being d-bags and try being fans.

That's ends my rant. Time to cheer up.

Things I Already Hate About MLB on TBS:

On second thought, it looks as though I'm not going to cheer up tonight thanks to TBS's crack squad of marketing personnel. I already want to slice my ears off whenever I see Jon Bon Jovi and Frank Caliendo.

While I'll admit this year's campaign is slightly more tolerable than Dane Cook reminding me hourly that there's only one October, I still find it pretty incredible how quickly I tired of Bon Jovi telling me about his "love" for "this town." The silver lining here is the giggle that I enjoy upon seeing footage of both the Twins and the Mets, two non-playoff teams mysteriously included in TBS's playoff campaign. Enjoy seeing David Wright one last time this year, Mets fans. I hope you choke.

Frank TV has surpassed Lipstick Jungle and One Tree Hill as the TV show I hate most despite having never seen an episode. Will these ads ever end? Definitely not until October 21, when his sketch show finally premieres. It's going to be a great 3 weeks. If Frank keeps this up, his ads might surpass Olive Garden's for the title of "Ad Campaign That Is Intended To Be Funny But Instead Makes Me Grimace and Crumple In Pain As Though My Kidney Had Just Been Shanked."

Phillies 3
Brewers 1

Milwaukee made a great surge to take the NL Wild Card, but it's pretty obvious to me that Round 1 is as far as they're going to go this year. These are the facts:

1. Ben Sheets is done.
2. CC Sabathia has not yet learned to pitch on 0 days rest.
3. If those first 2 facts aren't clear, Milwaukee's starting rotation is screwed.
4. Philadelphia has arms galore and arguably the best 'pen in the playoffs.
5. Milwaukee needs offense to counter their overmatched pitching staff. 1 run on 4 hits is not a good sign for the future.

Of course, with C.C. on the hill in Game 2, anything can happen. With a win tomorrow, the Brewers can turn this into a series. But I don't think it's very likely. Sabathia will be gassed due to the work he's had to do in the past week, so Milwaukee's bullpen might actually be needed in this one. Philadelphia should get to C.C., win Game 2, and wrap the series up in Milwaukee.

Dodgers 7
Cubs 2

I am surprisingly unaffected by this result. It could be because I was watching the game by myself without any rabid fans around me. Or maybe my heart isn't really in this season. Either way, I've always considered myself to be a die-hard Cubs fan. I'm almost positive that I am. I just think I've become so desensitized from Cubs postseason disappointments that I can't get too high or too low anymore. Not sure if that's how every fan's feeling, but that's how it is for me.

Wrigley had an eerie vibe to it tonight; it was obvious even on television. Before DeRosa's home run(he really bombed that one), I could feel a nervousness in the crowd. We as a collective group of Chicago Cubs fans are in an unfamiliar and almost unbelievable position. Eddie Vedder's tune "All the Way" speaks of our beloved Northsiders as underdogs, but in reality, this team is built for a championship and nothing else. The Cubs are the favorites this year, they're the sexy pick and the sympathetic pick. The crowd at Wrigley knows this, and I think that's why they sat on their hands for most of the night. First it was nervousness, and after Loney's grand slam, it was embarrassment that kept them silent.

This 7-2 drubbing will hopefully be a wakeup call for the Cubs. They may be the best team, record-wise, in the NL, but they're certainly not the hottest. That title would likely go to the Dodgers, who are a new team with Manny aboard. And by the way, did you effing see that home run he hit? That was poor Sean Marshall's best curveball, and it even fooled Ramirez! But he kept his hands back despite being off-balance and somehow pulled a low and outside deuce 420 feet. Ridiculous. I hate to say it, but the Cubs appear overmatched. Let's compare the 3-hitters on each team. For LA we have Manny, batting at a .400 clip since he joined the Dodgers while infecting his teammates with some good, old-fashioned love of baseball. The Cubs have "DP" D-Lee, a genuinely good guy who is currently about 15 times more likely to ground into two than he is to go deep.

For the entire season, the Cubs and most of their fans have had a sense of entitlement that comes from knowing the team is talented while also thinking that it's a team of destiny. Because it's the 100 year anniversary of the Cubs' last title, it's only fitting that they win it all in 2008, right?

Tonight was a rude awakening and hopefully a reminder that, shockingly, opposing teams won't be willing to let the Cubs have this one. They need to take it for themselves. The team on the field tonight looked more nervous and scared than the fans in the seats. Dempster refused to challenge Manny and Ethier at any time, which led to Loney's grand slam. Soto, Ramirez, and Lee all passed up delicious 1st or 2nd pitch offerings from Derrick Lowe only to put a bad swing at a ball because they were behind in the count. Soriano went 0-for-5 with a couple K's and a couple unnecessary hops in the outfield. I could have played similar left field for the Cubs tonight.

We need the bats to step up, we need the Cubs to play mean, and we need a HUGE start from Big Z, that psycho nutjob. If we don't get it, we can enjoy being worked over by an NL West team in the opening series for the 2nd straight season. 101 straight years? We're on our way.