Nichol(s) Slots: Let’s catch up edition

Well, hello there.  Or I guess I should say, welcome back. It’s been a while. Are you happy to see me back?

THE MINT — It was about damn time, right? It’s been quite a while since I’ve last posted anything. In fact, July 4 was the last day I posted and there’s been so much that has gone on in the sports world since. Steroids. Olympic fever, etc. Oh wait, we’re not talking about me. However…

September will be a different story.

Starting September 1, Nichol(s) Slots will be featured at least a few times a week. Chalk Talk, Fastest Five and the Fifth’s Dimension will also get plugs and cheap pops at a more frequent pace in the weeks ahead. You might even see some newer segments coming out as well. Got any ideas? Let me know!  Sports talk is back and it’ll be better than ever. How better, I can’t really explain right now.

Also in the coming weeks, you may see somewhat of a new style at the Five Cents. May be it’ll be a new form of writing you’re not used to from me. I could possibly change the entire graphic template and shoot some digital Botox into this mother. May be it’s a combination of things — including dropping the WordPress off of the URL.

But I assure you, come Sept. 1, you will see some changes and definitely more coverage.

I also urge you to visit www.dailyherald.com and football.dailyherald.com to see the latest high school prep articles, especially the ones by yours truly. I also post those articles here on the website underneath the “Daily Herald Clips” menu.

Last Friday, I covered one of the craziest and best high school games in my six seasons at the Herald.

Crystal Lake Central, without any timeouts, down 26-21 with 1:49 to go and 92 yards of field between them and the end zone, managed to somehow, in someway, get the down the field for the game-winning touchdown with four seconds to spare to beat Huntley 27-26 in both teams’ season opener. Take a minute to read the story I filed Friday night, in one of the more memorable games in Fox Valley Conference history.

And while I’m at it, here’s some quick thoughts on other things going on in sports:

Each time you think the White Sox are about to blow the division lead for good, Detroit can never capitalize. It just might be the White Sox year. I’ve still got Detroit taking the division, may be on the final day of the season or in the final week at least. But this is one of the crazier years I can remember on the South Side. Robin Ventura ended up being a sleeper pick of a manager, and give Ken Williams credit on that one. Big time.

After his somewhat impressive Sugar Land Skeeter debut, I now want to see Roger Clemens pitch for the Dis-Astros. He may be 50, and his fastest pitch on Saturday might have been only 88 mph, but for facing a couple of independent leaguers, the Rocket might have some fuel left in him. Imagine him in the bullpen somewhere, especially if he is electric in a return to the majors. What happens if he’s so good, a team makes a run at him for the playoffs? Imagine that. Then Houston, for as bad as they are, come out smelling like roses before their eventual move to the AL West next season. The possibilities are endless. Can someone get me one of those Clemens Sugar Land Skeeter jerseys?

And Cubs fans, did anyone notice that Gary Gaetti was the Skeeters’ skipper? How’s that for memory lane?

Not sure I get Lance Armstrong. I completely understand his reasoning for giving up and allowing the USDA to strip him of all his titles. He was damned if argued against the testimony, damned if he didn’t.  But that’s so-not Lance. Here this guy defeats cancer and wins all those Tour De France medals and all of a sudden quits when the going gets tough? If he’s giving up because he seriously knows he didn’t do it and arguing will do him no good, well then I applaud Armstrong for what he’s doing. That takes guts to really let anyone think what they want to think, especially coming from his position. But then again, if he’s doing it as a device to get people to think he doesn’t give a crap and he really did dope, talk about a fraud in a half. What would that say about someone who was so involved in charities, raising money and helping the cancer cause? All those yellow bracelets he sold, the t-shirts and sponsorships — is he all of a sudden the new Tiger Woods?

The Dodgers (or Doyers as I love to call them) have channeled their inner-Laker — literally, they have Magic Johnson now — and set a new precedent in baseball with their trade with Boston over the weekend. Gonzalez, Crawford, Beckett? As if we needed another Boston-L.A. story, this one almost pins the “Evil Empire” tag now on the Dodgers, who have one of those Yankee-like lineups on the left coast. If this somehow jolts Dodgertown the same way Boston and L.A. hooked up in the Manny deal to do so in the year my Cubbies were supposed to win it all in ’08, you can’t blame the Magic man and the rest of the ownership. But talk about two franchises going the opposite ways. You can’t get more opposite than where they are geographically on the map in the United States, but as far as baseball goes, this move, while completely astronomical in its precedent, has implications for years to come. Boston has had a year and a half worth forgetting. Theo’s gone. Terry Francona was tossed. The Red Sox underachieved and they badly hired Bobby Valentine, who shouldn’t be the goat for their lack of success. Los Angeles, on the other hand, is on the cusp of something special, if it comes all together right. Look at the all-star ballot they put together for their own team. In just a few months time, the Dodgers have dealt for a couple of all-stars you would’ve never thought be in a Dodger uniform. Shane Victorino, Hanley Ramirez, Gonzalez, Crawford, Beckett, Joe Blanton are all new this season — and they missed out on Cliff Lee and Ryan Dempster. Can you guess their next move?

And they’re keeping Vin Scully for another season, too! My, oh my.

Brandon Marshall caught a touchdown pass in the Bears’ preseason loss in the Meadowlands against the Giants on Friday, which was good to see to say the least. Everything else seemed to be pretty dismal. But if you’re concerned at all about the team’s performance, don’t be. I’m not. But as of now, I have them at 11-5. This number could change in the future. And really, I was out reporting and skimmed through the game on DVR yesterday. The Giants weren’t all that great either…

Anybody see the Derrick Rose/Adidas promo of his ACL rehab? It’s a pretty cool joint, and Scottie Pippen said over the weekend Rose will be better than ever. But how about this: let’s leave Rose alone and let him rehab. When he’s ready to go and be fused with the team is when I’ll worry about the 2011 MVP. As far as the rest of the Chicago Bulls, I believe the moves Gar/Pax made in the offseason were actually a lot better than people realize and those strong to criticize the revamped roster should really take a look at what Gar did to prevent an even greater financial blunder from happening in 2014. More on that soon.

What the hell is Melky Cabrera and Bartolo Colon actually thinking? Those two have to be the dumbest baseball players alive right now, especially Cabrera. In an era where we’re trying to separate ourselves from the steroid era, and show our youth that’s not the way to play the game, this brings up more speculation about other players and more conversations about steroids we don’t need. We need a clean game, guys. Can we keep it clean? Guys like Ryan Braun find technicalities to get out of jams and Skip Bayless starts pointing the finger at Derek Jeter of all players. This is getting absolutely ridiculous. I may have a love-hate relationship with Alfonso Soriano, but the dude has something when he’s told the media this season that it’s pretty stupid to take anything these days and players are just better off taking nothing. Soriano may have not wanted a trade to San Francisco and not like the weather, but at least he isn’t a Giant cheater.

That’s it for now, folks. Be sure to comeback after Sept. 1, where I’ll seemingly try to relaunch the Five Cents into a new, jammed-pack place for sports talk and more. Stay tuned!

— SN, a.k.a., “The Five Cents”

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