MAD CUB DISEASE
A selection of e-mails received at SI over nine days from one
lifelong Cubs fan
Aug. 14, 10:04 a.m. (Chicago coming off three straight losses)
Cubs are done. They'll finish six to eight games out.
Aug. 14, 10:44 a.m. Wood's arm is shot. Fassero's arm is shot.
Tavarez is a circus freak. Weathers sucks. Tapani and Bere are
living on borrowed time. As Yeats once so profoundly said, "The
center cannot hold."
Aug. 14, 10:46 a.m. If they don't win the next two games of this
series with Houston, they're done.
Aug. 14, 12:53 p.m. At the risk of being the voice of gloom, the
wheels are coming off.
Aug. 14, 2:18 p.m. I just don't give a f---. I really don't.
Aug. 15, 10:33 a.m. Tremendous victory last night [3-1 over
Houston], in what was their most important game of the year.
Every time I count the Cubs out, they somehow stay alive.
Aug. 15, 9:38 p.m. (minutes after a 5-1 win) They're back, baby.
What a tremendous victory. Two out of three in Enron. Now they
have to go to Phoenix and beat a tough Diamondbacks team.
Aug. 20, 10:38 a.m. (after three straight losses to the
Diamondbacks) Cubs suck.
Aug. 20, 3:16 p.m. At least the White Sox suck worse.
Aug. 21, 11:18 a.m. (after doubleheader split with the Brewers)
Have you ever seen a player as hot as Sammy is right now? Too
bad the rest of the offense stinks.
Aug. 21, 11:53 a.m. The Cubs can't buy a break. They'd better
pull out of this funk before the season slips away.
Aug. 21, 2:45 p.m. (during a 3-1 loss to the Brewers) That first
inning was disgusting. Bases loaded and nobody out, with the
heart of the lineup up and some stiff on the mound. What do the
Cubs come away with? Not a single run.
Aug. 21, 2:51 p.m. One of these days I'm going to disavow the
sad-sack Cubs. I can't believe all the time and effort I've
wasted through the course of my life following those losers.
Aug. 21, 5:19 p.m. When I get home tonight, I'm putting all of my
Cubs-related stuff on my front lawn and burning it.
Aug. 22, 12:12 p.m. The Cardinals and Astros are playing great
ball, the kind of ball teams with postseason aspirations need to
play this time of year. The Cubs, on the other hand, look like
the Cubs of yore: hapless and impotent. By mid-September they'll
be eight or nine games out.
Aug. 22, 12:17 p.m. That's the ultimate insult: The Cubs got
obliterated yesterday by [Brewers righthander] Ruben "the Human
Burrito" Quevedo. What a perfect metaphor for this pathetic,
eternally cursed franchise.
Aug. 22, 3:39 p.m. (during 16-3 win over Brewers) If Sammy hits
60 dingers again this year, you can start making a solid argument
for Sosa being one of the greatest players who ever lived.
Aug. 22, 4:05 p.m. Cubs get hot, and they can climb right back
into the race.
Aug. 22, 4:09 p.m. Sosa is going to catch Bonds, like I said back
Aug. 22, 8:57 p.m. Figure it this way: The Astros and Cardinals
both have about blown their wads. If the Cubs go on a little
roll, they're right back where they were three weeks ago. Just
one man's opinion.
Five Things That Will Happen Before Cubs Win a World Series
George W. Bush buys Cubs, trades Sosa back to Rangers.
Organic Theater Company produces Skybox Scalawags, sequel to
1970s smash-hit Bleacher Bums.
In eight-figure naming rights deal Wrigley Field becomes
Hector Villanueva's number is retired.
Leather-lunged fan Ronnie (Woo Woo) Wickers launches
ronniewoowoo.com, offering up his philosophy of life plus photos
of his being fitted for dentures. Wait, that already happened.
BEAUTY IN SPORTS
No one would dispute that the body of the average professional
athlete is superior to the body of the average professional couch
potato. We've come to accept that athletes are faster, stronger
and more coordinated than the rest of us. But are they also just
plain more attractive?
In The Learning Channel's four-hour special The Human Face,
biologist John Manning of the University of Liverpool contends
that there's a link between facial beauty and athletic ability.
Manning, who says that "people rate symmetric faces as being more
attractive than asymmetric faces," performed tests that found
runners with asymmetric ears to be slower than those with
symmetric ears. Why might this be so? Manning argues that facial
symmetry reflects symmetry in the body: A visage that's off by as
little as a millimeter from one side to the other--the left eye
slightly lower or smaller than the right eye, for instance--can
signal a similar shortfall in coordination and speed.
Plastic surgeon Stephen Marquardt of Huntington Beach, Calif.,
who studies attractiveness, agrees that the average jock is
better-looking than the average Joe. "The face is a barometer of
how symmetric the rest of the body is," says Marquardt, "and a
symmetric body is probably going to function better." He notes,
however, that athletes are also typically healthier than other
people, which also adds to their appearance. Marquardt points to
tennis players Venus and Serena Williams and "the Russian girl"
as ideals of symmetry, health, athleticism and beauty.
Not all experts agree that pulchritude equals performance. "I
don't think ears or the length of your nose or toenails are
directly linked to performance," says physiologist Peter Davis,
director of coaching and sports science for the U.S. Olympic
Committee. Davis says athletes strive for symmetry in their
bodies to help with technique as well as to avoid injury, but
the idea that beautiful faces run faster, throw harder or serve
better is ridiculous. "Beauty is a pretty subjective thing,
isn't it?" he says.
In a random survey, athletes were split on the subject. "You
can't say that people in one job are better looking than people
in another," says rotund Red Sox reliever Rich Garces, "but I
may not be the right person to ask." Bucs defensive end Simeon
Rice, meanwhile, knows at least one athlete who stands out from
the crowd. "I look good," Rice says. "I have Adonis-type form. I
enjoy being me." --Kristin Green Morse
The Play's the Thing
On Friday the film O, an adaptation of Shakespeare's Othello in
which the title character is a high school basketball standout,
opens in theaters. But does the Bard really need updating? We
combed his works and found Will the Thrill's views on sport to be
SIR ANDREW: I would I had bestowed that time in the tongues that
I have in fencing, dancing and bear-baiting: O, had I but
followed the arts! (Twelfth Night, Act I, Scene 3)
On the French Open
KING HENRY V: When we have march'd our rackets to these balls,/We
will, in France, by God's grace, play a set.... (Henry V, Act I,
On gender equity
CLEOPATRA: Let it alone; let's to billiards: come, Charmian.
CHARMIAN: My arm is sore; best play with Mardian.
CLEOPATRA: As well a woman with an eunuch play'd/As with a woman.
(Antony and Cleopatra, Act II, Scene 5)
On putting in the fix
CHARMIAN: 'Twas merry when/You wager'd on your angling; when
your diver/Did hang a salt-fish on his hook, which he/With
fervency drew up. (Antony and Cleopatra, Act II, Scene 5)
DROMIO OF EPHESUS: Am I so round with you as you with me,/That
like a football you do spurn me thus? (The Comedy of Errors, Act
II, Scene 1)
KENT: You base football player. (King Lear, Act I, Scene 4)
On a hockey trophy
RICHMOND: Yet one thing more, good Blunt.../Where is Lord Stanley
quarter'd... ? (Richard III, Act V, Scene 3)
CBS's Baby Bob Campaign
SYNOPSIS In a spot touting its NFL coverage, CBS enlists the
services of its newest network spokesman: Baby Bob, an infant
who, thanks to some special effects, speaks with the voice of a
grown man. "I love smash-mouth football," says the tough-talking
tyke. "I know, I'm only seven months, but I'm old school."
BACKGROUND Introduced last year in a series of ads for
FreeInternet.com in which he costarred with Shaquille O'Neal,
Baby Bob proved to be a breakout success. Although the Internet
service provider he was shilling for went out of business, Baby
Bob became so popular that CBS bought the rights to the
character and built a sitcom around him, which will premiere in
2002. Meanwhile, the network's marketing execs, looking for a
hipper, more youth-oriented approach for their NFL and fall
promotional campaigns, decided the raspy-voiced infant would
make a perfect pitchman. "We figured, why wait?" says Ron
Scalera, CBS's creative director of advertising and promotion.
"Let's make him part of the CBS image now. Hopefully, he'll be
well received and become a franchise character."
BOTTOM LINE A cheap Look Who's Talking knockoff that appeals to
infantile sensibilities. In other words, NFL viewers should love
SI College Football
You can have NCAA Football 2002. You can have the whole
PlayStation genre. Give me my youth. Give me, at the risk of
tooting our own horn, Sports Illustrated College Football, a
board game that introduced me and my pals in Alabama to the
thrills of staying up into the wee hours before we knew what
The game was sold in the '70s; my version included 32 of the
best college teams from '60 to '70. Though the best of the best
were the '67 USC Trojans--trust me, we staged a playoff--we
tended to stick to the SEC teams that we knew. Offenses had nine
plays, each with 30 possible outcomes determined by three dice.
Defenses, with dice of their own, could run six formations.
Winning didn't depend on the thumb-eye coordination necessary
for Nintendo. It depended on calling the right play and rolling
During sleepovers, my best friends, Eddie and Lewis, and I took
turns competing against each other long after our three TV
stations played the national anthem and signed off. Emotions ran
high--I once cracked the green plastic football field by slamming
my fist down in disgust.
I was obsessed with Sports Illustrated College Football, and
over the years I wondered whether my intensity had ruined the
experience for other players. I ran into Lewis last week and
asked him. "Are you kidding?" he said. "I loved that game!" I
keep the game in my office as a reminder of my youth. Nearly 30
years later, I'm still sheepish about the crack in the field.
At a meeting of the American Sociological Association, a paper
by Oregon State assistant professor Steven Ortiz, "When Sports
Heroes Stumble," in which Ortiz argues that a "culture of
adultery" exists in U.S. pro sports. Among Ortiz's previous
papers are "Competing for Power in Sport Families: The Wife and
Controlling Mother-in-Law," "Strategizing Marital Survival: How
Wives of Professional Athletes Cope with Groupies" and "The
Sport Marriage as a Dysfunctional Institution."
Of Eagles practice on Aug. 21, reporters from the Philadelphia
Daily News and several Philly TV stations, because these media
outlets had run helicopter shots of a closed workout during
which the Eagles tested various shoes on Veterans Stadium's new
A billboard erected in Louisville by the Louisville Slugger
Museum boasting that it had MORE OLD BATS THAN A NEEDLEPOINT
CONVENTION. After the Embroiderers' Guild of America, also based
in Louisville, took issue, the sign was painted over to read OLD
From the home of a Calgary businessman, seven limited-edition
prints by noted sports artist Stephen Holland, depicting Wayne
Gretzky. Because the prints, valued at about $11,000 each, are
numbered and easily identifiable, police believe the theft might
have been orchestrated by a collector not interested in
reselling the artwork.
By Charlotte's ABC affiliate last Thursday, embattled
congressman Gary Condit's interview with Connie Chung. The
station showed the Panthers-Ravens game.
Of his Canada Games bronze medal, Daniel Blouin, who placed
third in the 3,000-meter steeplechase and then, to get a laugh,
mooned the London, Ont., crowd. Organizers called the move
on the Scene
Be of Good Cheer
Our intrepid reporter takes a shot at the NBA limelight
I stood in front of the judges' table in a sports top and skimpy
shorts, showing the two beauty marks on my stomach that my mother
told me only someone who had changed my diaper or put a ring on
my finger should see. I was number 64 (among 78) in the audition
line for the Nets' dance team, Power n' Motion.
We hopefuls were being queried about our experience and evaluated
for what director Natasha Baron called our "court friendliness."
Number 61 stepped forward, said her name and then nailed a
quadruple backflip. "I worked for Mariah Carey in one of her
Glitter videos," said another. Before I had time to decide if I
could do a cartwheel, I heard my number called. "Do you tumble?"
I was asked. "Not intentionally," I said.
During the two-day audition, I found out just how much my lack of
dance experience meant. Choreographer Dominick De Franco showed
us the beginning of one routine. I can handle this, I thought to
myself. Then he demonstrated the next move--a 360-degree jump-turn
with knees tucked to chest, followed by a right leg kick to the
side just before landing. The force of the move pushed a breast
of the woman behind me out the side of her sports bra. Luckily
for her, no one saw. But not too many people missed it when I
landed square on my rear end.
As I rose I looked at the other dancers, the ones who wouldn't
mind enduring three four-hour practices a week in order to appear
at 41 Nets home games and 10 to 20 community-relations events.
There was a risk management consultant, Noelle Silberbauer,
hoping to rediscover the rush she got during her cheering days at
Villanova. While practicing the arm movements, I punched Jeanette
Gross, a dance teacher who never thought her dream of being one
of Janet Jackson's backup dancers would take her to an audition
seemingly every day.
I couldn't move after the two-day audition, nor could I imagine
not fitting into my sandals because my feet were too swollen, the
fate of those auditioners who pound their bodies into the
hardwood every day only to hear Baron--after reviewing audition
tapes and sorting through piles of Polaroids--call to say, "It's
not your year." --Melissa Segura
Secret celebrity weddings just aren't what they used to be. Take
the nuptials of Jason Sehorn and Angie Harmon, held in June at
the Highland Park Presbyterian Church in suburban Dallas. Even
though the couple zealously guarded the privacy of their
ceremony--guests had to know a password to gain entrance to the
church--someone hid a remote-controlled camera in the church's
balcony, and wedding images turned up in the National Enquirer.
Harmon confronted church officials about the pics, but they told
her they'd determined it wasn't an inside job. The former Law
and Order star is still looking to pin down the perp....
Fame and a $252 million contract don't open every door, as Alex
Rodriguez can attest. A-Rod recently inquired about joining the
exclusive Dallas Country Club and was told that, like everyone
else, he needed two sponsors and would have to wait two years
for an opening. Bill Cooper, a former president of the club,
says the waiting list is several hundred names long, and no one
gets to cut. "If he wants to become a member, he needs to be
introduced to people here and make new friends," says Cooper. "I
can't remember the last time someone got in in less than two
That singer-songwriter John Ondrasik is a big sports fan should
be obvious, given that he named his band Five for Fighting, as
in the hockey penalty. But with the group's single, Superman
(It's Not Easy), and album, America Town, climbing the charts,
Ondrasik finds he has to explain his band's moniker often.
"People are always asking, 'What are you fighting about?'" says
Ondrasik. "The name's appropriate since the music business is
like a hockey fight. You make a record, you get beat up, you go
sit in the box." America Town also features a ballad about the
perils of sports idolatry called Michael Jordan. "I wanted to
write about obsessive fanaticism, and for that you've got to
talk about the ultimate icon," says Ondrasik. "Besides, if I
could come back as anybody, it'd be Jordan."
B/W PHOTO: STEPHEN GREEN SLAMMIN' "Sosa is going to catch Bonds, like I said back in June."
COLOR PHOTO: WALTER IOOSS JR. (JETER) Do Derek Jeter's good looks make him a better player?
COLOR ILLUSTRATION: ILLUSTRATION BY FRED HARPER
COLOR PHOTO: MANNY MILLAN (GAME)
COLOR PHOTO: WWW.EDITIONSGALLERY.COM (GRETZKY)
COLOR PHOTO: MANNY MILLAN Segura (left) bottomed out at her dance tryout.
COLOR PHOTO: MANNY MILLAN
COLOR PHOTO: RONALD C. MODRA (CASEY)
Height to which Avalanche vice president of finance Mark Waggoner
climbed to reach the summit of Mount Elbert, Colorado's tallest
mountain, while toting the Stanley Cup in a special backpack.
Sellouts this season at Seattle's Safeco Field, five more than
the Mariners had in their 22 years in the Kingdome.
Amount jockeys Ian Mongan and Adrian Nicholls were each fined by
stewards at Hamilton Park in Scotland for talking on cell phones
while in the saddle before a race.
Lineups Joe Kerrigan used in his first 11 games as Red Sox
skipper, after vowing to foster stability by picking a starting
nine and sticking with it.
Rank of Pele, behind Walter Payton and Joe Montana, in an
ESPN.com poll asking users to name the most beloved football
This Week's Sign of the Apocalypse
Hallowed Ground of Baltimore is making T-shirts that employ
dyes blended with the dirt and grass of famous sports facilities
like Three Rivers and Notre Dame stadiums.
"Are athletes just plain more attractive than the rest of us?"
They Said It
Reds reliever, discussing the skill of teammate Sean Casey
(left) on the base paths: "He's the slowest man I've ever seen
who has perfect running form."