This isn't intentionally turning into a sports blog, but this was just too good to pass up. From the Tribune today:
In a suit filed Monday, former Big Ten referee James Filson of Bolingbrook accuses conference Commissioner Jim Delany of firing Filson after the Big Ten was made aware that the ref had been working with only one eye for five years, including an Orange Bowl and another bowl. In the suit, Filson says he lost vision in his right eye in 2000 after "missing a step, falling and hitting his eye on the corner of a table." A prosthetic replacement was put in and Filson kept working. Filson says David Parry, the conference's coordinator of officials, told him to "work hard at recovery and be able to return for the upcoming season" and his subsequent performance reviews were better than "he received in the eight years preceeding the loss of his eye." The suit contends that after a reporter notified Michigan coach Lloyd Carr of Filson's condition, Carr told Delany, who then fired the ref because he "did not have two eyes" and "failed to fulfill the minimum physical requirements," according to the suit.
This explains a lot of the refereeing in the Big Ten over the last few seasons. I wonder if this guy was doing the Illinois-Ohio State game in 2002 when the Illini would have won the game - twice - if it weren't for bad calls by the referees.
I think the Big Ten should launch a full-scale investigation to see how many one-eyed referees they have roaming the sidelines.
SONG OF THE MOMENT:
I'm having a really hard time coming up with one. That can only mean one thing: I need to listen to more music.
There are two major organizations that I love in Chicago that are undergoing some serious problems.
The listless, rudderless Chicago Cubs are a pitiful 20 games under .500 as they start the second half of the season today against the New York Mets. Even the most loyal, most drunk Bleacher Bum at Murphy's Bleachers could see that this season has been the textbook definition of Murphy's law.
The three game winning streak going in the the All-Star break doesn't take away from the fact that this team has countless deficiencies. And things just keep getting worse. Kerry Wood's rotator cuff is torn. Carlos Zambrano gets hit in the arm with a fungo bat by White Sox coach Joey Cora, taking the team's one representative out of the All-Star game. And then Mark Prior is placed on disabled list for the seventh time in his five-year major league career.
Maybe the team should consider renaming the Bud Lite bleachers the Murphy's-Law bleachers.
On the same day that the Cubs return to play, the Chicago Tribune, who owns the team, has announced that they'll be cutting most likely be cutting 80 jobs and not refilling 40 vacanies that have existed since the beginning of the year. The story reads:
"The latest cutbacks follow 80 to 90 Chicago Tribune positions eliminated at the end of 2005, and parent Tribune Co.'s promise in May to trim $200 million in costs companywide over the next two years to help finance a $2.5 billion stock buyback."
The Tribune Co. has talked about selling off non-core assets to help turn the company back in the right direction. So one has to ask, how is a major league baseball team a core asset of a newspaper publisher and media conglomerate?
$200 million is roughly two season-worth of the Cubs' player payroll. Recent estimates have placed the teams value around $500 million. That would be more than enough to save the jobs of the 80 who might get cut from the Tribune staff.
When the Tribune Co. bought the Cubs in 1981, they paid $20.5 million. I would say they've made a good return on that investment.
Selling the Cubs might not be bad for the team either. The Tribune's leadership hasn't brought the team much closer to the World Series title that's being absent from the North Side for almost a century. Think about it. Most of our grandparents weren't alive the last time the Cubs won were World Champions.
If the Tribune Co. sells the team, it might head in a new direction. A winning direction. Maybe the team will get a George Steinbrenner-like owner who is more concerned with winning and less concerned with selling out the bleacher seats every game.
SONG OF THE MOMENT:
Greener - Tally Hall