Author: Herb Gould

Today’s Cubs’ baseball tip: Make a hobby of Javy

This has been a strange spring in Chicago. We have had four measurable snowfalls in April—and no Blackhawks or Bulls playoff games. Usually, it’s the other way around. What that means is, lots of time for golf. But there’s been no weather for golf, even for hardy duffers like me. I would say, “Thank goodness for the Cubs,’’ except that between their .500 start and their weather postponements, the Cubs have not provided consistent relief. So I will say, “Thank goodness for Javier Baez.’’ Javy Baez is the new Schwarber. A couple of years ago, Chicago baseball fans were captivated by the seemingly limitless potential of Kyle Schwarber, an engagingly overweight catcher (from Indiana University!) who hit YouTube-worthy home runs. Remember the ball that landed atop the right-field scoreboard at Wrigley Field? Remember the broken windshield in spring training? Schwarber has come back nicely from blowing out his knee. He is no longer a catcher. He has lost weight and now is a svelte left fielder, although his defense remains an adventure. He remains an excellent hitter, earnest fielder and productive Cub who’s fun to watch. But we are getting a better read on Schwarber’s considerable (offensive) upside. I will be happy if he stays on the North Side of Chicago, but he has Designated Hitter written all over him, especially if the Cubs can get the quality they...

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Ian Poulter or Ann Coulter? Kirby Smart or Maxwell Smart? Baby Ruth or Babe Ruth? You make the call.

Did you ever have to make up your mind? Time to play The Name Game. . .  Ian Poulter or Ann Coulter? Phil Mickelson or Jack Nicholson? Joe Maddon or John Madden? Derrick Rose or Derek and the Dominoes? Roger Maris or April in Paris? Baby Ruth or Babe Ruth? Clint Eastwood or Lee Westwood? Michele Wie or Nintendo Wii? Nancy Pelosi or Jim Fregosi? Mitch McConnell or Rocket J. Squirrel? Peyton Manning or Walter Payton? Christy Mathewson or Chris Matthews? Reinsdorf or Gandalf? Houston Astros or Stroh’s? Detroit Lions or dandelions? Peter Bogdanovich or Rudy Tomjanovich? Tonya Harding or Warren G. Harding? Arnold Palmer or Potter Palmer or Harry Potter? Pete Rozelle or New Rochelle? Billy the Kid or Johnny Manziel? John Daly or Boo Weekley? The Kentucky Derby or the Kurward Derby? Tiger Woods or Tony the Tiger? Lebron James or Lyndon Baines Johnson? Knute Rockne or Newton Minow? Garry Shandling or Larry Sanders? Fred Couples or Kraft Singles? Mike Krzyzewksi or supercalifragilisticexpialidocious? Joe Montana or Indiana Jones? Amen Corner or The Hot Corner? Sandy Koufax or Ernie Kovacs? Kirby Smart or Maxwell Smart? Ichiro or The Seven-Year Itch? Dale Earnhardt or Sarah Bernhardt? Joe B. Hall or Monty Hall? Bobby Knight or Billie Jean King? Jason Day or Bobby Knight? Wayne Gretzky or John Wayne? Jack Nicklaus or St. Nicholas? John Wooden or the Wizard of...

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Separating the Maize from the Corn(huskers) in Spring Prospectus

I got my Big Ten spring football prospectus the other day. Always exciting to know what’s up and who’s down, although this prospectus, just like financial offerings, accentuates the positive. You know how they say, “Past performance may not be an indicator of future results?’’ When it comes to investing, I believe that. . . In college football, though, “past performance’’ is a pretty good way to go. In other words, you could do worse than picking Ohio State and Wisconsin to meet again in the Big Ten championship game. Both made good cases for inclusion in the Waffle House Invitational before failing to measure up. The weird part about the Buckeyes-Badgers thing? Even though Ohio State defeated Wisconsin 27-21 in a game that was more Buckeye-oriented than the score would indicate, I think the Badgers are a better investment to return to the championship game. This is where you have to read your prospectus closely. I am not saying Wisconsin will be better than Ohio State. I am saying that not all Big Ten divisions are created equally. If, for example, they were fast-food chains, the Badgers would be more attractive. They dominate their market. The Buckeyes, on the other hand, have several competitors capable of churning out better burgers. TWO LEAGUES IN ONE Basically, in the modern world of college football, the Big Ten is two leagues...

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What’s it’s like to play Augusta National

As we enjoy the early rounds, and anticipate an amazing weekend, at this year’s Masters, I am reminded that I once had the pleasure of playing Augusta National. It was chilly the morning I played, in 2006, the day after Phil Mickelson won the second of his three green jackets, I hadn’t swung a club in months. And merely being on the hallowed grounds of Augusta National was enough to amp up my swing to dangerous warp-speeds. But what a day. I can still remember just about every shot—and most of them were forgettable. In case you’re wondering what it’s like, let me say that Augusta is as historic and majestic as you would expect. The only other course where I felt a similar combination of awe, excitement and humbleness is the Old Course at St. Andrews. Another characteristic that Augusta National and the Old Course share is that they are playable, even for us bogey golfers. I have played many championship courses that strike fear, that reject average golfers. Augusta and the Old Course will gobble up messy golf, no doubt. But part of their greatness, along with their history and their perfect settings, is that they accept golfers with a wide variety of skill levels. Here’s the column I wrote about it for the Chicago Sun-Times. AUGUSTA, Ga. — The Masters, it often is said, begins on...

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Loyola stands tall despite coming up short

For the longest time—until Moe Wagner tied the game 47-47 on a big-tie three-pointer with about seven minutes—the dream lived. Loyola wasn’t just proving it belonged in the Final Four. It was tracking for the championship game. But then, Michigan did what teams with pedigrees do. It flexed its muscle and skill, in the form of Wagner’s 24 points and 15 rebounds, to end the Ramblers’ ride 69-57. What a ride it was. Showing the resiliency of its team chaplain, 98-year-old Sister Jean, Loyola became the fourth 11-seed in NCAA tournament history to reach the Final Four. Of course, it hurt a lot to come up short—especially because the Ramblers had a chance to become the first 11-seed to win a game in the Final Four. But it was a great run—a ton of fun for Loyola and the basketball-starved city of Chicago, which embraced the Ramblers with every available camera, microphone and writing device. Hats off to Porter Moser and his staff, who once again put the Ramblers in positions that left a skilled, savvy opponent looking around, wondering exactly how many guys in maroon-and-gold were on the floor. I don’t know whether I am more impressed with the Loyola players or the Loyola coaches. Clayton Custer and Ben Richardson, the two Rambler buddies from Overland Park, Kan., were so clutch, so smart. Marques Townes, Donte Ingram and...

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