Harry Caray’s Italian Steakhouse

Right in downtown Chicago is a great little restaurant that shows what is great about being in the big city. On my way to Wisconsin this past fall I spent the night in Chicago. Without even thinking I was walking around town wearing a Green Bay Packers hat. I never really took any heat except when I was eating dinner. That may be because I picked Harry Caray’s Italian Steakhouse to eat at. This great little restaurant/bar is located just off the Chicago River on Kinzie in downtown Chicago. As soon as you walk in you are greeted by the bust of Harry that is shown to the left. What makes this place so great is the atmosphere while you are eating. I was there the day that the Cubs sale was finalized so I missed seeing Frankie O the bartender doing his weekly bit for Comcast Sports Net. They filmed the show earlier that day so of course I just had the locals to talk sports with. Sitting in the bar you can talk sports until you are sick to your stomach. Beware though. These people are passionate sports fans.

Another great thing about Harry’s is all of the memorabilia that is on display. In addition to the bust as you walk in they have all kinds of artifacts from Harry’s career along with other Chicago sports celebrities. As you walk into the main dining area you see two Hall of Fame baseball jerseys on each side of the entrance. The jersey on the right is the famous #23 of Ryne Sandberg, and on the left is the black and white #72 of Carlton Fisk. Both jerseys are autographed, and have been in place for years. I probably spent 30-40 minutes just walking around looking at everything. One of the highlights of the tour is the famous Bartman ball. We all know the story about how Steve Bartman cost the Cubs the World Series. We all also know that Alex Gonzalez actually did that booting the ball later that inning. Nevertheless the ball has become famous. In 2003 Grant DePorter bought the ball in an auction for the Harry Caray Restaurant Chain. After much public debate the ball was blown up in 2004. The next year the ball was boiled in water, and the steam used in pasta sauce. So now you may have eaten pasta that had remnants of this ball in it. I am a ball collector so of course I wanted to see the ball. It is located just to the right of the Caray bust as you walk in. Budget some wandering time into your schedule if you decide to eat here.

As far as the restaurant goes it is very good food. I have eaten at Harry’s several times, and I have never been dissapointed. The prices are a little steep, but you get what you pay for. The last time I went I spent $25, and walked out very full. you may come in for the sports, but you will leave full. If you are in Chicago give this place a try. You will be glad that you did.

Target Field Construction Site

This July I was in Minnesota as part of our yearly baseball trip. We wanted to see the Metrodome one last time before it was torn down. We also wanted to see the new Twins stadium Target Field. Through a friend we learned that you could go to the top of a parking garage to get a great view of the stadium. We picked the wrong garage, but we still got a great view. We would have had to break down some barriers to get to the top of the other garage. From what we could see around the stadium, and the little inside the stadium this place is going to be nice. From the conceptual drawings you can see that this 40,000 seat stadium is going to look very nice. It has really taken shape even more since I was there. Looking at some photos online I would say that the outside is nearly complete. Just seeing the outside of the stadium is not enough. I will have to see a game here when it opens. Maybe my White Sox will have better luck here than they did in the old Metrodome. The stadium will have an exhibition on April 2nd, 2010, and will officially open on April 12, 2010 against the Boston Red Sox. My only question will be how much snow will be on the field that day.

Chippewas Shut Down By Purdue’s Defense

Boiler win easily 64-38

Who decided to have a basketball game that early in the morning? I always complain about the early starts that the Purdue football team gets, but this was a half an hour earlier. Starting a game at 10:30 am my time really makes for an interesting morning. On the drive down to West Lafayette I kept wondering if that would affect the players. Playing a game before most college kids are even awake has to be hard. The other factor that had to be on most people’s minds was the fact that Purdue had just come off a great win against #9 Tennessee to win the Paradise Jam. Tuesday Wake Forest comes to town as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. This game in between could have been trouble.

It was not though. Although the offense did not play as well as we would have liked, the defense came to play today. Central Michigan only scored fourteen points in the first half. Three of those points should never have been. Chris Kramer took the ball away from a Chippewa player in the corner, and was apparently fouled by at least two of the three players around him. Instead of calling the foul, the ref called Kramer’s pass out of bounds. The three pointer that followed was the last three points Central Michigan would score in the half. If the play had gone the other way it would have been a turnover for the Chippewa’s, and they would have had three less points on the board. That basket was at the six minute mark of the first half. It is amazing to me that any team can keep another team off the board for over six minutes. Purdue’s defense is great. They would have ended the half with more turnovers than points. As it was they ended the game with more turnovers then field goals. The final tally was sixteen turnovers and 13 field goals. My picture for this weeks preview of the ‘Defense Live Here’ sign must have been a premonition. At times this defense is more fun to watch than the offense. This team only allowed five baskets in the first half, and 38 points all game. That is the best effort since the Michigan State game in 2007.

One shining star in my book today was Mark Wohlford. He gets the player of the game in my opinion. E’Twaun scored 15 points, although 11 of those were in the first half. Robbie Hummel scored 11, and pulled down 11 rebounds. Both had good games. Wohlford though was all over the place. He played 20 solid minutes today when Chris Kramer got into foul trouble. He only scored five points with one board and one block, but he was tireless on defense. He lays it all out there, and the opponent cannot take him for granted. Maybe we just like to root for the underdogs. At some point though Mark will cease to be an underdog.

The next game for the Boilers is Tuesday against Wake Forest. The students will be back in the stands, and we could be looking at a top five team on the floor. With Michigan State losing yesterday we could potentially move up in the rankings. Speaking of the students I was pleasantly surprised today to see how full Mackey was. They claim 12,000+ for the official attendance today. They really have done a great job marketing the games that are not in the student package. The game is missing something without the kids though. They bring the energy to the stadium. I am sure that they will be fired up Tuesday though for the big matchup.

Tiger Woods Seriously Injured in Car Wreck (Update)

Not a lot is know right now, but according to ESPN Tiger Woods was seriously hurt this morning when he hit a fire hydrant and a tree outside of his house this morning. Here is a link to the ESPN article.

Update: He has since been released from the hospital. We can now breath a collective sigh of relief.

Yet Another Update (12/8): Reports this morning claim that a blonde woman was rushed to the hospital on advanced life support at about 3 AM this morning. Things just keep getting worse.

College Basketball Game of the Week and Weekly Preview

This week the game of the week is easily the Big Ten/ACC Challenge game between the #6 Purdue Boilermakers and the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. I have been watching Wake Forest on television for years, and the chance to see them in person is exciting. What makes it even more exciting is the fact that Purdue has been playing well. The Big Ten has never won the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. This year could be the year if we win a couple of close games. The way I see it though we will walk away second place yet again. There will be some buzz on campus come Tuesday. I really can’t wait. Before that game though Dan LeFevour leads the Central Michigan Chippewas into Mackey Arena. What?…he doesn’t play basketball? He seems to do everything else. In that case with no LeFevour on the court I think that Purdue should roll Central Michigan. This will be a good tuneup for this team heading into Tuesday’s showdown. I am sure that the crowd will let the team know how it appreciated the effort in the Virgin Islands when they come out onto the court tomorrow.

Last week we all know how well the Boiler men played in the Paradise Jam Tournament. That game against the Vols was one to remember. Chris Kramer sliding across the floor to knock the ball out of the Volunteers hands has to be the play of the year so far. Even if the media refuses to acknowledge it. The Purdue women did not do so well playing three games in three days. They played well Friday night in the second half, and even gave Dayton a game Saturday. Sunday though they were clearly tired and not in the game. They will have trouble with quick turnarounds.

Predictions: Last week I went 4-3 on the women’s side to bring this season’s tally to 5-3. I did not expect the Purdue collapse, and it showed in my record. I have decided that picking scores a week ahead of time is crazy. I will just pick the winners from here on out. I have picked a lot of games this week. This will be a make or break week for my record. Here are the women’s games that I am picking this week:

#6 Notre Dame over #17 Oklahoma
Wisconsin over Oregon
#6 Notre Dame over Eastern Michigan
Purdue over UC Riverside
Purdue over Pepperdine

I had my picks for the week, but then I decided to try the women’s version of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. I really think that Purdue has a shot, and it kills me not to pick them. If they do win I will be upset with myself. I also had trouble picking the Illinois – Wake Forest game. I have the Big Ten winning the Challenge 8-3. I am just too biased towards the Big Ten I guess. Here is how I think that will end up:

#18 Virginia over Purdue
#3 Ohio State over #12 Duke
#4 North Carolina over #25 Michigan State
Penn State over Georgia Tech
Illinois over Wake Forest
Iowa over Boston College
#9 Florida State over Indiana
Minnesota over Maryland
Wisconsin over NC State
Michigan over Virginia Tech
Northwestern over Clemson
Big Ten 8 – ACC 3

On the men’s side I did a little better. I went 4-1 to bring me to 9-1 on the season. Here are most of the games that I am picking for the next week:

Notre Dame over Northwestern
#2 Michigan State over Florida
Notre Dame over Idaho State
Iowa State over St. Louis
#6 Purdue over Central Michigan

Here is how I see the Big Ten/ACC Challenge playing out:

Virginia over Penn State
#6 Purdue over Wake Forest
#22 Maryland over Indiana
NC State over Northwestern
#2 Michigan State over #12 North Carolina
Virginia Tech over Iowa
#19 Clemson over #21 Illiniois
#16 Minnesota over Miami
#15 Michigan over Boston College
#7 Duke over Wisky
#18 Ohio State over Florida State
ACC 6 – Big Ten 5

csd Flashback and Weekly Football Preview

Last year I was up in Allendale, Michigan to watch the third round division two playoff game between the Grand Valley State Lakers and the Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs. At first I just thought that this would be yet another win in Grand Valley’s storied history. What I saw though was a team that came into Lubber’s Stadium on a mission. The Bulldogs stopped the Grand Valley offense cold for much of the game. At the half the score was 7-6 in favor of the Bulldogs. Towards the end of the third quarter Minnesota Duluth scored a touchdown, but the extra point attempt was blocked. That ended up being huge for the Lakers. A late touchdown tied the game at 13 to set up overtime. With just over a minute left in the game the touchdown pass was huge. The crowd really got back into the game. The Lakers ended up losing the game 19-13 in double overtime in one of the best football games I have seen. What made the game great was the odd way that the overtime period went. Grand Valley had the ball first, and missed a field goal attempt. All the Bulldogs needed to win was a field goal. In trying to get better field position though they were picked off. This set up the second overtime. The Bulldogs scored a touchdown, but had yet another PAT blocked. I don’t know that I have ever seen two PAT’s blocked in one game. All GVSU needed to win was a touchdown and a converted PAT. The Laker quarterback Brad Iciek then through his third pick of the game to seal the win for Minnesota Duluth. During this game Grand Valley blocked a punt, two PAT’s, and blew up a fake punt. What ended up doing them in though was the fact that they missed three field goals during the contest. That is to be expected though as the field goal kicker usually does not get many reps in during games up there. This week the teams face each other again, but this time in Minnesota. Both teams have identical 11-1 records going into the game. The Lakers avenged their only loss of the season last week by beating Hillsdale 44-27 last week in the second round of the playoffs. I think that they will avenge last seasons playoff loss this week. It won’t be easy, but Grand Valley just has too much history behind them for me not to pick them.

Predictions: Last week I went 6-3 with my picks to jump to 41-20 on the season. 67% is not bad. My main downfall in picking games is my loyalty to Purdue. I really have trouble picking against them. This week I will be picking the Grand Valley game of course. Their former coach Brian Kelly takes his #5 Cincinnati Bearcats up against Illinois this week. I will also pick the Central Michigan/Northern Illinois game as well as the Kentucky/Tennessee games as there is a slight chance that I will be attending one of them. I also have had this feeling that Eastern Michigan will finally get a win this week. I have nothing to back this feeling up, but I am willing to pick them. Dan Lefevour will be setting NCAA records at home this weekend. That game could be fun to attend. Notre Dame will have to pull of the upset to avoid going 0-4 to end the season. At this point I don’t think that even a win will save Charlie Weis’ job. It will be interesting to see how the Irish respond this week. I think that they will fight early, but in the end Stanford will have their number. Here are my picks for week 13:

#5 Cincinnati 35 – Illinois 21
Central Michigan 42 – Northern Illinois 28
Tennessee 21 – Kentucky 20
Eastern Michigan 17 – Akron 16
Stanford 45 – Notre Dame 31
Grand Valley State 20 – Minnesota Duluth 17

Alex Guyton Will Return Against Evansville

This week Boilermaker coach Sharon Versyp announced that Alex Guyton will be back on the court by the Evansville game on December 19th. She may see a couple of minutes before then, but the date for full return in the Evansville game. Her presence down low will be welcome for sure. Another body on the court is also a great thing. She looked great at times last year, and it will be interesting to see how she has progressed.

Paradise Jam Final: #6 Purdue v. #9 Tennessee (Second Half)

Tonight the Boilers won the Paradise Jam by a single point 73-72. It was a hard fought game that neither team deserved to lose. Thankfully though the Boilermakers won. As the game was winding down the highlight had to be Matt Painter and Bruce Pearl exchanging words. Pearl kept on ranting and raving at the officials and anyone else who would listen to him. Fox Sports Net must have put a mic closer to him because he was much more audible as the game was ending. E’Twaun Moore was as great in the second half as he was in the first. He won the tournament MVP, and his 22 points were huge tonight. JaJuan Johnson was in foul trouble all game long, and eventually fouled out. Wayne Chism was a beast for the Vols scoring 24 points. Kelsey Barlow had only two points, but he had five rebounds, four assists, and only two turnovers. His two missed free throws at the end could have spelled the end for Purdue. The Vols missed a wild three though, and Barlow picked up the rebound to seal the victory. He is growing as a player right in front of our eyes. Hummel had another solid night as usual for the Boilers. He missed a key free throw with 32 seconds left that would have given Purdue a four point lead. He quickly sank the second to give them a three point lead though. His 20 points and eight rebounds were key for Purdue tonight. This was a great game, and should give the team some momentum. This will help the team as much as the loss last year to Oklahoma may have hurt them. It gives them the confidence that they can play with anyone.

Next up for the Boilers are the Chippewas from Central Michigan early Saturday morning. Hopefully we can see the team that stepped it up tonight.

Paradise Jam Final: #6 Purdue v. #9 Tennessee (First Half)

The first half of tonights game was dominated by the referees. The start of the game was very frantic with both teams playing a little rough. Two minutes into the game Purdue was ahead 1-0. The Vols then went on a 7-0 run in the next minute to get an early lead. By the first TV timeout Purdue had tied the game at seven. The Boilers took the lead on a great ally oop pass from Barlow to Johnson. On the other end of the floor Johnson picked up his 2nd foul and had to sit down. Bade picked up three quick fouls to get Johnson back on the floor. At that point of the half it seemed as if Purdue was getting jobbed on the fouls. They were getting hammered on one end, and getting called for cheap fouls on the other. The refs started to even things up after this.

The cameras picked on interesting exchange during the half. Kelsey Barlow picked up his second foul on a reach in call and started arguing with the referee. Painter told the young kid something to the effect of ‘you have only four college games under your belt.’ At the next chance he was pulled from the game. Painter really lets these kids know that they are not bigger than the game. Hummel had five points in about ten seconds of game time. He hit two free throws to tie the game, and then hit a quick three after Keaton Grant stole the inbounds pass. He was cold in the first half, but played well all around. He finished the half with 11 points. With 3:30 left in the half Barlow then commits his third foul. He has played well when in the game, but has been very aggressive so far. Moore made a nice spinning layup at the end of the half to give Purdue the lead. With Johnson out and Hummel struggling a bit Moore picked up the slack for the Boilers in this first half. At the break the score is 42-41 Purdue. Moore has 15 points at the half. When he wants to he can take a game over. Wayne Chism has to be the player of the first half for the Vols. He scored 14 points, and drew a lot of fouls on Purdue’s big men. This game will be decided by the benches. With all of the fouls being called I think a lot of players will be sitting in the second half. This has been a great game so far. I hope that the second half will be as exciting.

The Third Game Was Not a Charm

Tonight the Boilers showed how badly the lack of depth off the bench will hurt them in the final game of the BTI Classic. They never really looked like they were in the game, and lost to Georgetown 55-39. They only managed 14 points in the second half. That is the lowest amount of points scored in a half since the loss to UConn in 2008, and the lowest in the second half since the Minnesota game in 2005. The team only shot just over 31% for the game. Do I have to go further to show just how bad this loss was? Yesterday I felt horrible leaving the arena after a close loss. Today I at least had lots of time to get over it. Even when the lead was only ten for Georgetown with then minutes left most people knew that it was over since we had only scored 31 points to that point. This was a hard game to watch, but there were some positives. Heck all of us in attendance saw Purdue set a record today. Even if it was for the fewest points scored in a half. A record is a record. The next home game is December 19th against Evansville.

Of the 39 points that we did manage to score Samantha Woods scored 16 of those. She played really well today. She also grabbed seven rebounds to round out her game. Brittany Rayburn scored six quick points, then went the rest of the game only scoring two points. I think that most teams now see her as the main threat, and will double and sometimes triple team her. We need the other players to step up and score. If Jodie and FahKara can pick up the slack the defense will have to peel off of Brittany. If her team cannot help her it will be a long season. That being said this team has lots of potential. We will get Alex Guyton back before the Big Ten season starts. If we can find our way by then we can still make a dent in the conference. For now we have to play the available players and get them the time they need to grow. This is the core of a great team.

After the game was over Senior Associate Athletics Director Roger Blalock handed out the tournament awards. Brittany Rayburn claimed a spot on the all-tournament team. The other players on that list include: Sugar Rodgers, Jaleesa Butler from Georgetown and Dayton’s Justine Raterman and Brittany Wilson. Kriten Daughtery was named the MVP of the BTI Classic. It was a somber ceremony with most of the fans already gone from the arena. Here is how the teams placed in the tourney:

  1. Dayton (3-0)

  2. Georgetown (2-1)

  3. Purdue (1-2)

  4. Seattle (0-3)