Archive for January, 2012

Wrigley Field’s Historical Integrity- Sell It Like a Senate Seat!

Within a matter of weeks, the Chicago Cubs broke my heart and stole my punch line.

It all began with me, knowing nothing about the Cubs Organization’s controversial renovation plans, saying to a friend that I thought a really funny date idea would be to get dressed up in Cubs gear and get fake-engaged on the Jumbotron at Wrigley Field (I mean months into the relationship, not the third date or anything). It would poke a little fun at the stereotypical Wrigleyville types, make a good YouTube video, and be a really great Chicago memory. However, I was informed that Wrigley Field is the only major league baseball stadium without a Jumbotron. It was a crushing blow.

I started reading about the issue with the intention of writing an article calling for a Jumbotron so that I could fulfill my fake-engagement dreams, but couldn’t help but be taken with the sincerity of Cubs fans’ love for Wrigley Field and the romantic notion of keeping its historical integrity intact. Everyone I asked about it spoke of remembering going to their first Cubs game with his or her grandpa, and how Wrigley Field was like a museum, and special in that way.

I started to feel bad about the Jumbotron joke, and decided that if I was to go forward with my article I would have to additionally propose the most audacious, ridiculous and offensive changes I could possibly think of in order for it to be clear that I was only kidding and really did support the city of Chicago in their commitment to preserving one of their most important historical landmarks.

Little did I know that while I was thinking of a Jumbotron, a club, and a fusion restaurant as quite incendiary topics, the Cubs were about to announce that very weekend that they were planning to make some of the same changes that I had proposed in my joke, and that the historical integrity argument had been thrown entirely out of the window. As someone who only experienced a week of loving the nostalgia of Wrigley Field, I found it sad and cannot imagine how this would feel to lifelong Cubs fans. It is certainly not your grandpa’s ballpark anymore.

The upside to this situation is that apparently I am a marketing genius, possibly psychic, and am evidently in the vanguard of some very important changes in the Cubs Organization’s attempts to increase the “real estate landscape” of Wrigley Field.

Therefore, I have come up with the following suggestions for the Cubs’ owners and management team that I think would be extremely helpful in their attempts to gut, rehab, and upgrade Wrigley Field to the standards of their surrounding neighborhood. Call it a gift.

As Americans we all know that newer is always better, and that nostalgia is for losers. Why stop at bringing Wrigley Field into last century? This is an opportunity to change not only the way the nation views the Cubs, but the entire sport of baseball. Who are these historical preservationists, anyway? Let’s shove those nerds back into the lockers where they belong!

I think that the Cubs’ announcement has made it clear that if there’s one thing that baseball is not about, it’s history.

If we are going to embrace the future we have to get rid of the past, so let’s deal with a few of those messy landmarks. I suggest a full-on fire sale. We can call it “The Great Chicago Fire Sale.” If we are talking profits boys, that ivy has got to go. Money is obviously more important than plants and it is only taking up valuable Budweiser advertising space. Sell that antiquated scoreboard to the Rock n’ Roll McDonalds in exchange for the rights to the McCub sandwich (which I assume would be a club sandwich with no lettuce). Replace the old-fashioned marquis with a new logo designed by Shepard Fairey. Look what he did for Obama. Selling the naming rights could also bring in some quick cash and spruce up Wrigley Field’s image. Willis Tower Field has a nice ring to it.

I assume that a Jumbotron plan is already underway, so I say let’s be the first at something for once and get a 3D Jumbotron. In addition, wouldn’t Cubs fans prefer if we replaced their old seating with new chairs with surround sound and a personal screen on the back of every chair, perhaps also in 3D? It’s a safe bet that every man, woman and child at every game already is carrying an iphone, so once the Jumbotron is up, we could launch an app where the fans and players could tweet about the game on the bottom of the screen in real time — in 3D! Another brilliant idea would be to bank on my engagement idea and offer a special proposal package with roses, a giant diamond ring shaped like a can of Old Style hidden inside of a box of Cracker Jacks, and a mid-game player serenade of “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling.” That would make a killing.

On the topic of music, I think that this sky deck for fans to mingle freely is a fabulous idea, but why not make it a dance club as well? We should have Lady Gaga open. It will appeal to a newer, younger generation of Cubs fans, and Lady Gaga loves baseball. I like this idea of using Wrigley Field for a Bruce Springsteen concert, based purely on the irony of his album being titled “Wrecking Ball,” but let’s face it, the Boss is getting a little… well, let’s just say that he still has “historical integrity.” Get with the times and think Beiber. Teenage girls are America’s largest consumer group and the Cubs are ignoring this market to our own detriment. Win the hearts of tweens across the nation with a movie, or even a movie series, with a heartthrob cast where all of the Cubs players are vampires. Call it “Night Games.”

Also, if we are going to give Wrigley Field a makeover, it would make sense to do the same for our fans. We need to improve the nation’s image of Cubs fans and encourage a more attractive audience, so I propose that we remove half of the bleachers and replace them with gym equipment so that, as opposed to a gym or home-gym, fans can yell at an actual ballgame while they work out. Memberships fees would exponentially increase ballpark profits, and we can always take a video of the historical integrity of the old bleachers and play it on the Jumbotron. An outdoor spa would also be classy. What Wrigleyville girl could possibly oppose the chance to get a mani/pedi, massage, and highlights while they drink Old Style and watch the game? Wouldn’t a yoga class be a nice, healthy addition to the seventh inning stretch?

Finally, reality television is America’s new pastime, so let’s cash in on that market while it’s hot. I propose a season-long weight loss competition. We can call it “The Biggest Loser: The Chicago Cubs.” Surely there are also many unusual and colorful personalities among both players and fans. Why not exploit their talents and have Wrigley Field host a televised amateur singing competition for a cash prize? It would eliminate the cost of paying high player salaries, and it would probably sell more tickets than a ballgame. We wouldn’t even need baseball anymore, and we can play it on the Jumbotron in 3D.

Words: R. Fass


Freak Show Interview with Tom Shoaff


Our first video interview with Tom Shoaff.

Death, Joe Paterno and Cocktail Weiners

The cocktail wieners started smoking when I heard Paterno died. Apparently I was using too much heat or not enough sauce or wasn’t really stirring them. I dunno. The point being that I didn’t even bother to glance up from “ma cookin” when I heard he had passed. Paterno was dead and dead people don’t care about burnt cocktail wieners.

That Sunday I drank and watched football. I cursed several times for not betting on the Giants, I ate wieners and pizza, and I thought how ugly I’d look sporting Ed Reed’s man-face hairs. I cheered, I yelled, I indulged. But in the midst of it all, a tweet brought me out of my football cloud. It was only a simple peck, but it still rattled my mood and left me creeping into the thorny patch of my mind where Penn State had stained itself.

The Paterno hashtag was already rumbling at a torrent pace when I started sifting through it. It seemed like guilt and raw-emotions were piling onto the closure side of the scale, while others still fumed and radiated bile and puss. Surprisingly though, it was a one-sided battle. People still loved Joe. It seemed that decades of football and inspiration were outweighing disgrace and dismissal. I didn’t need to add to the rushing waters, but I did. I couldn’t help it. I needed to say something.

I thought it’d be simple to quickly blurt out my distaste, that I could return to my bbq sauce, processed meat and television. But it wasn’t. My thoughts quickly tangled and I couldn’t fully grasp how I felt about his death. Did I mourn for his for his legacy? No. Did I sympathize for his family over their loss? Yes. Was I still appalled about the whole mess? Yes. Didn’t I feel bad that Joe wasn’t able to truly tell his side of the story? Yes.

It was confusing. Sandusky is the real villain, but how much did the emperor really know about the kingdom he built?

I was momentarily too wrapped up in the empathy I had for his family to really see the situation for what it was. But then I snapped out of it.

I realized that Joe had spent decades trying to affect young peoples’ lives, but that he failed to act for the kids that needed him most.

Penn State had caught Sandusky in a sexually explicit act with a minor, and Joe Paterno did nothing. It was his show, his house, his program, and he chose to ignore it for a game. Or he at least let others push him into ignoring it.

The simple truth was that children were being hurt. It didn’t matter what Joe had built, he brought it all down when he turned his back to that.

And so I tweeted: Joe Paterno was and will always be a piece of shit. It didn’t add anything to the discussion, but it was enough for me to put the matter to rest and get back to my cocktail weiners.

Fighting Through His Injuries

Jeff’s right lung collapsed a week after he got to the hospital. It now randomly fills with mucus and chokes off his air supply, and makes it necessary for him to be hooked up to a ventilator at all times. He hasn’t been able to breathe on his own since December 24th, and doctors had to perform a tracheotomy to help assist Jeff breathe. Jeff’s life now runs through a twisting series of plastic tubes that snake in and around his skin. His body has been in a hospital bed for over a month and he’s having to deal with the constant assault of pressure, friction, and sheering that are starting to break down parts of his skin and create open wounds and bedsores.

Jeff can’t feel anything below his waist. He has movement in his arms, but not in his fingers yet. His body is fighting a catastrophic injury to his spine, and his condition hasn’t improved in over a month. Jeff’s mother, Kathy Dunbar, is wheelchair ridden from a series of strokes she suffered several years ago, and the family is without medical insurance. Jeff had been supporting the family and was trying to propel an amateur MMA career all the way to the UFC, but all that’s gone, and now Jeff is a 20-years-old fighter who can’t move his legs.

Jeff Dunbar suffered a spinal injury while he was fighting in a local amateur MMA event in December. During that fight Jeff tried to throw an opponent off his back as he was trying to defend against a rear naked choke. The move failed and Jeff struck the mat with his head with his opponent still on his back.

The fight briefly continued on the ground and his opponent finished off his chokehold before the referee stopped the fight.

His mother and sister were in attendance and immediately knew that something was terribly wrong. They both rushed to the cage, but before they could reach Jeff, his mother contends that the referee unwittingly rolled Jeff onto his back. His sister, Nicole, entered the cage screaming, “What did you do to my brother?” The audience had already gone quiet, but now everyone knew they were witnessing something horrible.

“I’m trying to roll through the crowd because I didn’t want anyone to move him. I knew that this wasn’t suppose to be done (have him moved), and the horror of all horrors happened right before my eyes when the referee rolled him,” said Kathy.

Jeff was rushed to Provena St. Joseph Medical Center, but the damage was already severe. Jeff had dislocated two vertebrae and his spinal cord was crushed.

The promoter for the event, Fight Card Entertainment, didn’t have insurance for the fight and the referee for the bout was working under an expired license.

Before his injury Jeff was an outgoing, athletic 20 year old who was well liked and popular. He was active in many different sports, and was a mentor to his younger cousins and the caretaker of his physically impaired mother.

About a year ago Jeff decided we wanted to become a fighter. He started training out of No Comment gym under the tutelage of coach Josh Bulak, and started fighting in local, amateur bouts.

“When he told me that’s what he wanted to do I was skeptical,” said Ms. Dunbar.  “But when he told me he was doing it for us, I came around to it.”

Jeff had mixed success in the ring, but the sport he was learning has a high learning curve and Jeff was making process in each month of his training.

“He came a long way from where he was,” said coach Bulak. “His first fight he lost to someone he shouldn’t have lost to, but kept improving and getting better.”

But now Jeff’s battles are confined to a hospital bed, and his injury has been incredibly difficult on his friends and family.

“Since everything has happened, it’s been stressful,” said Nicole. “I’ve been bitter, sad, you know, questioning a lot of things.”

“I’m still trying to understand things, and I’m dealing with it better now. It’s depressing to me really, cause I was used to playin around with him, and now I can’t.”

Jeff’s fight has now shifted to Kindred Hospital Chicago North, his second hospital in less than a month.

His mother and sister are constantly at his side, and pictures of Jeff and his friends have been taped to the wall along with printouts of well-wishes and prayers.

But even through the torrent of good will and support, no one from Fight Card Entertainment has contacted the Dunbar family.

Nilo Soto, the owner of Fight Card Entertainment, and his partner Brian Angelo both declined to comment about whether or not they had insurance for the fight in a recent article written by the Chicago Tribune.

Sources from around the Chicago MMA community though have confirmed that they didn’t have an insurance policy for that particular fight, and the silence the family has received from them seems to support that notion.

Jeff and his family agree that what happened to him was a “freak accident” and even in the violent world of MMA, his injury is rare. But even with a mountain of personal problems, Jeff has made it clear what he wants is to get help to other fighters, and he still wants to be involved with MMA in some way.

“The first time he was able to speak to me he said, ‘Make sure the other fighters get some protection,’” said Kathy. “There are a lot of young men doing this, and there should be a safety net for them and their families.”

“If someone gets really hurt like this, he wants them to be able to get help. He doesn’t want money or anything. It’s wonderful that people want to send money and donations, but ultimately he wants some kind of protection for other fighters.”

Maybe Fight Card Entertainment should adopt the same attitude.


For more information about Jeff, check out the Tribune article here, and his interview on Cheez TV tonight on WCIU at 2 am.

Brawl at Bourbon Street (JAN 18th)

**James Yarbrough prepares to enter the cage**

Wednesday is a weird night to get drunk. It’s that spur-of-the-moment instant release of serotonin that feels amazing at midnight, but bits you like a bear trap early the next day. It’s hard, fast living, and that feeling pervaded the atmosphere at Bourbon Street last night. The Brawl at Bourbon Street came and went, and all we’re left with is hazy memories of knockouts and a 60-year-old cop choking out a whale with tattoos.

Here’s a breakdown of the Fight of the Night, along with our quotes of the night and a quick rundown of last night’s action.

Fight of the Night

James Yarbrough vs. Justin Hughes

Both fighters are young, quick and agile. Yarbrough looks to have the height advantage while Hughes is the more stout of the two. Yarbrough starts the fight with a couple of good knees. Both fighters clinch and Hughes ends up with the takedown. Hughes in half guard. Yarbrough looks to squirm his way out, while Hughes throws a few punches. Hughes takes Yarbrough’s back, but Yarbrough is able to end the round in Hughes’ guard and throw a few punches of his own. Good first round.

Hughes starts the second round with a hard slam on Yarbrough. Hughes works his way to full mount, but Yarbrough flips him and gets his back. Yarbrough goes for rear naked choke but doesn’t have the strength to make Hughes tap. Both fighters get to their feet and end the round against the cage.

Both come out swinging to begin the final round. Hughes lands a nice leg kick. Both fighters are circling. Hughes tries to land some more jabs and leg kicks, but fails to connect with combinations. Hughes executes a takedown and starts to throw hammer fists. Yarbrough has a solid chin though and is able to withstand the blows. Hughes lets Yarbrough back up to his feet before he shoots for another takedown. The fight ends with Hughes raining down fists. Another good round. Hughes wins

Quotes of the Night

Justin Hughes (On his first fight and win)

I might have come out a little stronger than I was suppose to. We were practicing staying light, and throwing combos. Once you get in there it’s a different thing. Just hitting somebody, that shit feels good. My coach says you learn on the job, and that was definitely the case.

That dude was tough. That choke. You thought I was going to tap right? That shit was tight, but my guys put me in that in practice all the time, so I was used to it.

I’m not really happy with the win. I know it was my first fight, but I have high expectations for myself. Not to sound too cocky or anything but I was ready to drop him with my hands. It was a good fight though.

Matt Brown

Everything went according to my game plan: Go out there and block punches, come in with straight punches, throw hands and kicks. I’ve been working a lot on my Muay Thai these last few months. So throwing knees on the ground, trying to throw knees on the inside.

He was taller than me so I was just trying to work the inside, work the body, work the face.

Dan Bravo

It was an adrenalin rush. It definitely worked out how I wanted. I’m not much of a ground fighter, I was still able to do what I wanted and it worked out.

Billy Jesse

Asked how the fight went. “Absolutely amazing. I’m looking for a challenge so I’m dropping down to 185 lbs. for Congress (theater).”


Tim Armstrong defeated Andrew Edborg. TKO at 1:33 of round 1

Justin Hughes defeated James Yarbrough. Unanimous decision

Matt Brown defeated Jason Crose. Tapout due to strikes at 1:28 of round 1

Dan Bravo defeated Andre Ford. Tapout due to strikes at 1:54 of round 1

Darrell Edmonson defeated Travis Simpson. TKO at 0:10 of round 1

Jerry Elsner defeated Jeff Szakas. Guillotine choke at 0:21 of round 1

Bill Jesse defeated Brandon Conner. Rear naked choke at 1:32 of round 1

Jason Ignacek defeated Tyler Isley. Tapout due to strikes at 1:26 of round 1

I Used To Read Word Up Magazine

Since the Dream Team launched international basketball into the moon, the heart and soul of American Olympic dominance has been on the hardwood. For 10 years, red, white and blue was spray painted over a 29.5 circumference and bounced around the court before it was able to dry. Football may be America’s bread and butter, but basketball was its Olympic meat and potatoes.

That was until it all spiraled into a pool of gasoline. In 2002 the US team competed and lost in the World Championship in Indianapolis, Indiana. The team placed sixth in international competition, and it was the first time that an international team was able to defeat a US team composed of NBA players. As embarrassing as the loss was, the defeat was labeled a fluke and supporters pointed to the many NBA stars that declined to play.

But in 2004 Olympics “The Nightmare Team” took the court in Athens, Greece. Nine starters from the qualifying team declined to play, and the team brought home a bronze medal and cold, grey shame. American Olympic dominance on the court was officially cracked, and the its aura of invincibility shattered.

American basketball became and international symbol of American arrogance, and the whole world enjoyed watching the ground coming to kiss the yanks in the jaw.

An overhaul was needed to amputate the invading infection, and the entire program was revamped. Jerry Colangelo and coach Mike Krzyzewski were placed as the heads of US Basketball, and the program started to ask participants to agree to a three-year commitment. Since the patch up, two gold medals have followed, and America seems poised to once again reign supreme in international play.

Yesterday U.S. basketball announced its potential roster of 20 NBA stars for the 2012 London Olympics. The roster is deep. Really deep. 20 players are in consideration to play but that number will be whittled down to a 12-man roster with alternates.

Here’s the pool: Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Lamar Odom, Chauncey Billups, Chris Bosh, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, Tyson Chandler, Eric Gordon, Rudy Gay, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love, and Andre Iguodala.

Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge have also been added to that list.

Buzz is already worming its way through the Internet and people have started to throw the term “dream team” out there again. It seems like America finally has its hoops swagger back.

Here’s our 12-man roster:

Kobe, LeBron, Wade, Howard, Paul, Durant, Rose, Love, D. Williams, Melo, Chandler and Aldridge

With our starters being: Rose, Kobe, LeBron, Love and Howard.


Griffin, Gordon, Westbrook.

Strong like Thibs

** UPI/Brian Kersey**

The sun is still low in the season, but the Bulls are already standing near the top of the league. As I write this the Bulls are 12-2, and even after a prolonged offseason, the team looks sharp. The lockout schedule may be tailor-made for the Bulls (young and deep) but the team looks like they never stopped playing from last season. And they’ve done it with basically the same team that brought them to the Conference finals.

The Bulls are playing stifling defense. They’re limiting opponents to 83.8 points per game, and teams are only shooting 41% from the field against them. Despite some early shooting difficulties, Rose looks better than he was last year. But what strikes me about the Bulls is how much they still play as a team. Every man on this team matters. Not only because they have talent up and down the bench, but because of how they gel. Every day someone new steps up. It’s obvious that this is a team that pushes each other to get better. Their evolution into an elite team streams from coach Thibs and his intense practices and tape sessions. But even more so, it comes from players and their trust and a bond between each other.

After John Lucas III torched the helpless Wizards for 25 points, he said in his postgame comments that he would do anything for his teammates. “I just want to have my teammates’ back,” said Lucas on a podcast with Sarah Spain & Nick Friedell. “This is one of the best teams I’ve ever been apart of. With the chemistry and the way everyone gets along. You usually have cliques, but this team, all 14 guys, hang together.”

That’s the type of attitude that’s pervasive throughout the locker room. Each player wants to play as hard as they can because they don’t want to let their teammates down. It’s a team mentality. Rose doesn’t scare teammates into playing well like maybe Kobe would or even Dywane Wade, they play well because they don’t want to let each other down.

After the Bulls beat the Raptors over the weekend, Taj Gibson told the Chicago Tribune this:

“No matter how many minutes you play, no matter how many touches you get, no one should play harder than you. No matter how many minutes you get, you’re supposed to lay it on the line no matter what.”

Attitude and chemistry will set this team apart from the Heat. This team knows that every player would go to war for one another.

They walk into every game knowing that they do it as a team. It’s a rare for a team to be this close at the professional level, and even rarer considering it’s carried into another season.

Coach Thibodeau has his players believing in his system and believing in each other, and with Rose hobbled by a nagging toe, we’ll see how far this team can go.