I Paid $50 For This?

So did anyone catch the Pacquiao/Hatton fight yesterday? I wouldn’t be surprised if you didn’t…I mean, if you went to the bathroom, tied your shoe, or even blinked right after the fight started you probably missed it. It was an excellent fight, even though it was short - shorter than it took to sing the 3 national anthems, that is. Well, if they didn’t draw out the Philippine national anthem maybe that wouldn’t have been the case.

Anyway, I’d been watching the Pacquiao/Hatton 24/7 shows on HBO, so I was interested to see how Hatton would do against Pacquiao. Unlike the Dela Hoya version, they didn’t show a lot of Hatton sparring, so I didn’t know what to expect. But Floyd Mayweather Sr. was a big talker, and I almost believed him. Hatton looked like a guy who could punch - HARD. Could his hard punches negate Manny’s quickness? Manny was the same…working out, living with his entourage, loving every moment…he didn’t seem too worried, and I wasn’t worried.

The fight was AWESOME…for the first round, that is. Many knocked him on the floor twice, and Hatton seemed a little stunned at Manny’s quickness and the hurricane of punches that were flying at him. The second round was more even, with Manny getting a little sloppy and Hatton getting in some good punches. But right before the round was over, *BLAM* Manny throws in a left hook that drops Hatton to the floor. We were screaming and cheering, until we were concerned by Hatton’s wooziness. Once he started moving again, things were all good and we were rejoicing again.

Go Manny! Pound for pound best fighter in the world!

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On a side note, one of our friends in California got Ben the AWESOMEST present - a pair of boxing gloves, signed by Manny Pacquiao. Not only that, but it said, “To Benjamin, “What’s that smell?!?”" Anyone who knows Ben knows that he says that all the time, sometimes when it’s a little embarrassing (like when he’s talking to people).

Someday We’ll Go All the Way

…and we’re getting a little closer today!

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Today the Cubs clinched the NL Central Division at Wrigley, and from what it looks like on the news, Wrigley field has become the biggest block party in the country! Although we won it last year, we didn’t clinch it by winning a game - we clinched it because another team lost. But this year, we won a pretty nervewracking game against our biggest rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals. Afterwards the team came back out on the field and sprayed champagne on the crowd and rejoiced with each other. Life is good in Wrigleyville!

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It’s hard not to get my hopes up - this year would be the perfect year to finally win the World Series - 100 years after the last win. I’m sure the rest of the fans feel this way…we just want it so bad!!!

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Supposedly, Cubs legend Ernie Banks asked Evanston, IL native Eddie Vedder (heard of him?) to write a song about the Cubs, and here’s what resulted. A song, though not as joyous as “Go Cubs Go” (a song that was heard pretty often this year), still conveys, on a deeper, sweeter level, how Cub nation feels. Comcast aired a nice video montage at the end of their broadcast today with the song:
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Someday We’ll Go All The Way
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Yeah, don’t let them say that it’s just a game.
Well, I’ve seen other teams and it is never the same.
When you go to Chicago, you’re blessed and you’re healed, The first time you walk into Wrigley Field.
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Heroes with pinstripes and heroes in blue, Give us the chance to feel like heroes do.
Whether we’ll win and if we should lose, we know Someday we’ll go all the way.
Yeah, someday we’ll go all the way.
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We are one with the Cubs, with the Cubs we’re in love.
Hold our heads tall as the underdogs.
We are not fairweather, but farweather fans.
Like brothers in arms, in the suites and the stands.
There’s magic in the Ivy and the old score board.
The same one I stared at as a kid keeping score.
In a world full of greed, we could never want more.
Someday we’ll go all the way.
Yeah, someday we’ll go all the way.
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Here’s to the men and the legends we’ve known.
Giving us faith and giving us hope.
United we stand and united we’ll fall
Down to our knees the day we win it all.
Yeah Ernie Banks said, “oh, let’s play two”.
I think he meant two hundred years.
Playing at Wrigley, our diamond, our jewel.
The home of our joy and our fears.
Keeping traditions, and wishes anew,
The place where our grandfathers’ fathers they grew.
The spiritual feeling if I ever knew.
And when the day comes for that last winning run, and I’m crying and covered with beer.
I look to the sky and know I was right today.
Someday we’ll go all the way.
Yeah, someday we’ll go all the way.
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It Finally Happens for Z!

Update: WGN-TV will replay Carlos Zambrano’s no-hitter both in Chicago and around the country this Friday night, September 19 at 10pm Central time.

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There have been so many times where he has been close, but the Chicago Cubs star pitcher, Carlos Zambrano, got a no-hitter today. There were things that could have happened that would not have made this possible - Z wasn’t supposed to play the whole game since he had been injured, the game was a home game for Houston, but was played in “Wrigley North” which is more commonly known as Milwaukee’s Miller Park. In a show of how awesome Cubs fans are, with only 24 hours notice, there were 25,000 people who drove 2 hours to see the game.

To tell the truth, I had forgotten that the game was being played tonight. I was at home with Ben waiting for his new favorite show, “Oswald”, to come on. Dave came home from studying and said, “Are you watching the game? Z’s trying to get a no-no!” However, when we switched the channel, Ben went ballistic because in his world, Oswald beats the Cubs any day. So Dave watched it upstairs and I went back and forth.

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It was pretty nervewracking to watch the final inning…there were so many times before where Z had come close, and I was scared that my watching him would jinx him. But in the end, he did it, and it was so nice to see his teammates rush the mound and surround him with hugs and slaps on the back. This is exactly what our team needed, as well as the fans, to be excited about the game again. The Cubs had been in a slump lately, but today’s game has energized everyone.

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Yay Z!

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Olympics Best and Worst - Beijing Edition

I did this for the Winter Olympics in Torino, so I thought it might be a nice tradition. I’ve been watching quite a bit of the Olympics, though I don’t have the time or strength to watch it all the time. All in all, this has been an INCREDIBLE Olympics, from the political drama to Michael Phelps quest to the stories that fall in between the cracks, it’s been a good two weeks.

Here’s my highlights:

  • Best Part of the Opening Ceremony - to me, it had to have been the Tai Chi.  Their lines were incredible, and it made me realize that we could never do anything like that in the US.  We’d have people sticking out all over the place!
  • Opening Ceremony Tai Chi

  • Worst Opening Ceremony Outfits - Come on, Hungary, what were you thinking?  Such beautiful girls looked like they were forced to were outfits from their grandmothers’ closets.
  • Hungarian Olympic Style

  • Best use of Humans During the Opening Ceremony - Seriously, how did they do that Cube/Bouncing Block thing…even after the third time of watching it, it baffled me how they could have done it so perfectly, making waves with the blocks at different levels - there weren’t even any real beats to the music!
  • Worst National Case of Milli Vanilli - Poor Yang Peiyi, not deemed cute enough by her country to sing at the Olympics.  I feel for ya, girl.
  • Best Unspoken Requirement for Men’s Gymnastic Teams - that you need to have at least one hot guy.  See below for samples:
  • Mens Gymnastics

  • Worst Follow-Through of Trash Talking - The French Men’s 4×100 freestyle relay team, saying "We’ll smash the Americans" before the race, and ending up second behind the Americans.  What makes the victory even more sweet was the NBC commentators saying that the US team had no chance…which brings us to…
  • Best 46.06 Seconds Ever - That was the time that Jason Lezak swam his incredible anchor leg of the 4×100 freestyle relay.  When he was the first one to touch the wall I literally screamed in happiness.
  • Worst Time for an Interview - Right after 15 year-old diver Haley Ishimatsu learned she didn’t make the finals, she was interviewed by NBC.  Even before the interview started I could see her eyes were puffy, and I could feel it coming.  Poor girl could hardly answer any questions she was so emotional.  She was a good sport and said the right things, like, "It was a great experience, I had fun" etc.  But I think that the press should let people have time for their emotions, especially ones so young.
  • Best Post Olympics Plans - Misty May and Kerri Walsh want babies.  Walsh: "We need a baby…it’s that time." May: "We need the team of the future!"
  • Worst Show of Happiness at Getting a Silver Medal - Alicia Sacramone.  Such a pretty girl, and I know that she felt the weight of the loss of the gold medal on her shoulders.  But come on!  You’re at the Olympics, and you’ve got a silver medal, more than most of the Olympians that you stood on the field with during the opening ceremonies could ever hope to get.  Cheer up, sourpuss!
  • Best Sport to be a Volunteer For - When Kerri Walsh lost her wedding ring while blocking a spike, the Chinese volunteers brought in volunteers and metal detectors after the match to find it.  One lucky guy found the ring, and in return received some US flags, some Olympic pins, and a pat on the ass by Kerri Walsh.
  • Worst Second of the Best 9+ Seconds Ever - Was it really necessary for Usain "Lightning" Bolt to stretch out his arms and celebrate during the last second of his 100m dash?  Watching this kid run is like watching me run against Ben - he makes it look so easy when he beats these amazing athletes.  What would have happened if Bolt ran the whole way?  How low would he have brought the world record?  Now we’ll never know. However, I don’t agree with the IOC reprimanding him for being a poor sport - this guy is making the sport exciting! If you’re going to reprimand someone, reprimand China for lying to get the Olympics.
  • Best Reaction After Getting Your World Record Smashed - Michael Johnson, 2 time Olympian and previous 100m record holder, punched the air, laughed, jumping and shouting "Oh my god!" as he watched Usain "Lightning" Bolt run and win the 100m dash.  Although he has no longer the record holder, Johnson was totally excited to see such an amazing race.
  • Worst Cover-Up - The Chinese gymnastics team saying that their athletes are 16 years old.  When you’re going to fake documents so your team can win golds, the least you can do is google them so you can delete any reference of their ACTUAL ages.  You may censor the internet in your country, but the rest of the world can still find these things out.
  • Best Random Facts Blog - Yahoo’s "Fourth Place Medal".  They answer such obscure questions like, "Why do divers shower after diving?" (to keep loose),   "What is that black stuff on Kerri Walsh’s arm?" (kinesio tape that supports her muscles) and "Who was that really hot chick with Paraguay during the opening ceremonies?" (Leryn Franco, javelin thrower).
  • Worst Case of Team Unity - Both the men’s and women’s 4×100m relay teams DROPPED their batons in the qualifying heats. Nice.
  • Best Den Mother - Old lady Dara Torres (I kid!) went up to one of the officials during one of her semi’s. Why? To ask the official to hold up the race while a fellow competitor changed suits after finding a rip. After talking to the official, Dara talked to the other girls (because seriously, to Dara these were girls half her age) and told them to stay loose as they waited. It was obvious that they respected her. Once the race started, she took first in her heat, eventually winning silver.
  • Worst Show of Sportsmanship - Swedish wrestler Ara Abrahamian dropped his bronze medal on the mats in protest.  I don’t care if you thought you were wronged - go through the correct channels and suck it up while you’re on the podium and walking off.
  • Best Moment I’m Glad I Missed - When German weight lifter Matthias Steiner won his gold, he took out a photo of his wife who had died in a car crash and held it with him on the podium.  I swear, if I watched that, I would have cried.  Man, it makes me a little misty even posting the picture.  (and speaking of Misty, Misty May dumped some of her mother’s ashes on the volleyball court after their gold medal win)******
  • Matthias Steiner Wife

  • Worst Example of Getting Jinxed by the Media - Since the beginning of the games, NBC had been talking about how the Olympic Committee was going to get rid of women’s softball, probably since the US women had won all of the gold medals since it was included in the games.  Why keep a sport where one nation was unstoppable?  Then irony rains down in the form of a Japanese women’s team with an incredible pitcher.  They beat our girls and made them cry.  Goodbye softball.
  • Best Genuine Smile - Shawn Johnson, after winning gold in the balance beam.  All week she has smiled and hugged as she’d been surpassed by her team mate Nastia Liukin and various Chinese gymnasts.  When her team fell apart, she kept a smile on her face and stayed cool.  Unlike others, she smiled during the team medal ceremony.  But once she knew she got that gold, it was a different smile altogether!  A well deserved win for someone who didn’t pout and stayed positive during the competition.  I remember her smiling and waiting patiently to be the first one to hug Sandra Izbasa, who beat her top floor exercise score on the last routine.
  • Worst Use of Media Passes - After Michael Phelps got the record for most golds, he climbed up the stands to hug and kiss his mother.  however, he had a hard time coming back down because the press (or shall they be called paparazzi at this point?) had swarmed around him, leaving him no room to move.  He had to actually say, "Come on, guys" just so he could get back down to the pool.  Several times during the games I’ve seen photographers get way to close to the athletes…it’s annoying.
  • Olympics Paparrazi

  • Best Reason I Like Michael Phelps - (I know that makes no sense, but it had to start with "best", right?)  Yes, I know he broke Mark Spitz’ record.  Yes, I know he’s arguably the best Olympian ever (but come on, Carl Lewis was in 4 Olympics and won in 2 different events - running and long jump).  But to me, Michael could have been a guy that was full of himself and was going to waste his money away on booze (hello DUI!) and women.  Until I saw an interview with Bob Costas and his mother (not Bob’s, Michaels!).  Bob had asked Michael’s mom why she was going back to work as a school principal, and as she answered, Michael was looking at his mom with what could only be described as a look of pride.  He then said that to his mom, her kids (referring to the school children) are everything.  It made me melt a little to see him talk so proudly of his mom.
  • Worst Try At Making an Interview All About You - In an arranged interview with Phelps and Mark Spitz, Mark tried every way he could to talk about himself.  From talking about meeting Phelps in Athens several times (which I’m assuming is a dig for not being invited to Beijing this year) to saying that he was the inspiration for Michael’s quest for gold, there was one thing that was clear with Mark…it’s all about ME! ME! ME!
  • Best Event that I’ve Only Seen Five Minutes Of - I was flipping through the channels yesterday and came across the Rhythmic Gymnastics team event. The Chinese team was doing a routine with a rope, and let me tell you, it was beautiful! They were tossing them up in the air to each other and catching them, winding it around one of the girls and lifting her in the air…it was so pretty! But that was one of the last routines they had, so I didn’t get to see much more. I’ll definitely try and catch it tomorrow morning, er, night, ugh, this time difference confuses me!

For All You Short Track Freaks Out There

…because I know some of you still read this thing -

Apolo Anton Ohno is going to be on Project Runway tonight in their Olympic themed episode. What he knows about fashion, I have no idea, but hopefully they’re designing skinsuits. There have been way too many skinsuit fashion disasters in the past - the US stars suit and Canada’s “pretend we have no skin so it looks like just muscle” for example…

Three posts today…damn, I don’t know the last time that happened!

I Have a Bad Feeling About This

Usually, I LOVE the Olympics, but these upcoming games have me worried. I stuck up for the Olympics when activists in different countries were protesting the running of the Olympic flame, saying that politics should be left behind. But the closer and closer these games get, the more I realize that it was a horrible idea to give these games to China. It makes me upset that the spirit of the games is marred by the actions of the host country trying to show their supremacy and power.

One thing is the censoring of the internet for the media - something that China had said before that they would allow. Later, they said that they would relent and allow more internet access to restricted sites - but not all. Next is how horrible the air is in China - athletes are staying in neighboring countries because the air is so bad. It’s come to the point where sporting events lasting more than an hour (like the marathon) could get canceled if the air is poor. Can you imagine? You train your whole life, travel around the world running marathons, then cannot race because China never bothered in the past to care about vehicle and factory emissions.

joey cheekWhat sparked this post today is the latest in this clusterfrak that is 8.8.08 - the 2006 Winter Olympics golden boy (and all-round good guy), Joey Cheek, has been denied a Visa. In 2006 Joey made headlines by donating his medal winnings , about $40,000, to Right to Play, an organization that promotes sports to children in Darfur. He’s one of the reasons why the Olympics are as awesome as they are, and to me, embody everything that the Olympics stand for. He skated for the joy of it, for the competition with his peers, and not for the money, but along the way, made the world aware of the struggle of the people of Darfur.

He was planning on attending the Olympics to support other athletes who are part of his organization, others who also support efforts in Darfur. Unfortunately for Joey, China has ties to Sudan and Darfur, and not the side that he’s on.

Read more about it here.

But he’s not the only one having problems with visas. Even foreigners who are living and working in China are having problems with their visas - many of them having to leave China because of the tight visa restrictions. Hotels are fighting each other for travelers, since China’s visa restrictions are so tough, no one is coming to China to actually watch the games.

It’s all a little sad - these games should be about a celebration of sports and competition, but instead is becoming a hotbed of ill feelings and politics. China is working so hard to make themselves look good and keep their games safe according to their standards, but I’m afraid that it may all backfire on them, with the losers being the athletes themselves.

update: The US is going to protest Joey’s visa denial:

“We have sent in our embassy in Beijing to demarche the Chinese. That is where we go in and say we are concerned about this and we want you to reconsider your actions. We would hope that they would change their mind.”

Me and My Wii

Finally got a Wii today. I’ve been itching to get one forever, but they’ve been sold out for the longest time. On a whim I decided to call my closest Best Buy and it turned out they had 3 left. I finished up some work, and as a pulled into the parking lot, I saw a guy walking out with a Wii. I was getting a bit nervous, since it had been a couple hours since I had called.

I walked in, went to the Wii section and didn’t see any Wii’s there. Luckily, a salesperson came up and told me that the Wii’s were behind the counter. So I stocked up on some accessories - battery charger and rechargable batteries, game, and extra controller. Didn’t realize how much all of this stuff would really add up - I’m in for a load of trouble when Ben grows up and wants this stuff all the time.

I have NO idea why I bought it, since I have no time to do anything. But I think the Wii would give me a good excuse to take breaks from work instead of working the whole day through with a 15 minute lunch break. Ben had a great time holding the controller and seeing the little hand flash on the screen every now and then. He was content just watching me play and make funny sounds then actually trying to play himself. Probably the most exciting time for me was to make Mii characters to represent me, Dave and Ben. It was funny to go through the different male hairstyles that best looks like Dave, and then going through the eyes and making them extra tiny and slanted. He was starting to get annoyed with my horrible representation of him - “Why are my eyes so beady? Can I have whites in my eyes, please?!?!”

I only have a couple basic games for right now - Wii Sports and Wii Play, but I will probably be picking up more soon. Anyone have any game suggestions?

Another Cubs Game…

…tonight! We’ll be in the bleachers, with a Cubs blanket and all bundled up!

Another Cubs Game!

Got some really great tix for today’s game against the Padres. Turns out that today is half price day, so we got some $66 seats for $33. So watch out for us - we’re in the second section between home plate and the Cubs dugout. Ben will be wearing his Cubs gear, Dave will be wearing a white Cubs jersey and I’ll probably be wearing a brown jacket with my Cubs blue underneath. Hopefully I’ll be able to get some great shots!

First Cubs Game of 2008

Last Saturday we headed out to our first Cubs game of the season. It’s still pretty chilly in Chicago, especially nearer to the lake, so we made sure to dress warm. Even in our sweatshirts, it was pretty cold. Poor Benjamin’s fingers were cold, but that didn’t prevent him from having a great time. All the kids who went to the game got little bear webkinz that we’ll go online later to take care of. The guys who were sitting in front of us had a blast with Ben, calling him “the coolest little guy” as Ben gave out hi-fives after homeruns and danced to the YMCA during breaks. By the end of the game, Ben was hi-fiving everyone in the area, including the guys in the standing room only.

The game was a great - Dempster did a good job, and it got a little nervewracking by the seventh with the Cubs down 2 to 1. But they came back with some awesome hitting. Fukudome, the crowd favorite, capped it all off with a homerun in the bottom of the seventh, which led to the crowd chanting his name for several minutes. In the end, we won 7 to 2, leaving in a crowd of smiles singing “Go Cubs Go” and thinking that maybe, just maybe, this year really IS next year.

Are You Sure That Was a Strike? Dempster's Pitch Catch ...and he's OUT! Sliding...
Bunt! Soriano's Back! Pitcher's Mound Conference Always a packed house! Watching the Game
Three Generations Carlos Marmol      

More pics can be found on my flickr site here.

UPDATE: Since Redpac is whining, THANKS to him, we had tickets for today, and several other games this year!