Author: Herb Gould

Sign (stealing) of the times: Fight Apple watches with bluetooth earpieces.

So Major League Baseball is limiting mound visits in an effort to speed up the pace of play in baseball. I’m a fan of speeding up the pace of play. If I can see the same game in two to 2-1/2 hours—as in days of yore and Ernie Banks; my youth—instead of 3 to 4 hours, sign me up. At the same time, when Cubs ace Jon Lester and other players don’t like a limit of six mound visits, that counts, too. Here’s what Lester said in a report by my former Sun-Times colleague, Gordon Wittenmyer. “I get the mound-visit thing,” said Lester, whose catcher, Willson Contreras, might make more trips to the mound than any other catcher in the league. “But also, what people [who] aren’t in the game don’t understand is there’s so much technology now, there’s so many cameras on the field, that every stadium now has a camera on the catcher’s crotch. So they know the signs before you even get there. “Now we’ve got Apple watches. Now we’ve got people being accused of sitting in a tunnel [trying to steal signs]. There’s reasons behind the mound visit. He’s not just coming out there asking what time I’m going to dinner or ‘How you feeling?’ There’s reasons behind everything, and I think if you take that away, it takes away from the beauty of the baseball...

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Postcard from New Orleans: Parades, oysters & all that jazz.

I have been to New Orleans many times to cover sporting events. They include four Sugar Bowls, two Final Fours, a Super Bowl (the only one the Bears won, a 46-10 drilling of then-hapless New England in 1986), and a Saints’ playoff loss (heartbreaking for them and me). The Saints’ playoff loss, on Jan. 3, 1988, was heartbreaking for them because, after a 12-4 regular season, they had spoiled their first playoff appearance in the franchise’s 21-year history, getting whipped by Minnesota (9-7) by a whopping 44-10. It was heartbreaking for me because I had been planning a fine week in New Orleans, advancing the Saints’ meeting with the Bears. With New Orleans out, I had to grab a night-flight to Redskin Park because the Bears would play Washington. I can tell you, the food around Redskin Park did not compare with New Orleans cuisine. But I digress. I had only been to New Orleans once as a civilian, to use the term applied by scribes when they aren’t working. That would have been many years ago, during my sophomore year in college. After a major storm left the snow so high that the streets and sidewalks of Madison, Wis., looked like World War I trenches-in-white, we were sitting around having a few beers and lamenting. Someone said, “Hey, we can beat this. We can get in a car...

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Boiler Up. Sparty cloudy. And lots of struggles in Big Ten.

“How’s it going?’’ may not be a completely loaded question in Big Ten basketball this season. But be prepared to duck. Thanks in part to a combined record of 9-23 against the ACC (6-14), Big 12 (1-5) and SEC (2-4), the Big Ten is ranked sixth among the nation’s conferences. Only four teams—Purdue, Michigan State, Ohio State and Michigan—are tracking for the NCAA tournament. In the super-sized 14-team Big Ten, that’s not what you’d call a Big Gulp. That said, Purdue and Michigan State both have teams capable of reaching the Final Four without shocking anybody. Which would be a bit of irony after the Big Ten got shut out of the football Final Four. And the Big Ten has lots of teams with excuses. Some of them are even good. . . excuses. Purdue has a really solid all-around team. The Boilermakers are third in the nation in three-point shooting (43.2 percent) and they have, in 7-2 senior Isaac Haas, “an aircraft carrier.’’ That Al McGuire phrase seems especially appropriate because the Boilermakers are hoping to make their first Final Four appearance since 1980, when McGuire was in his TV-commentator heyday after taking Marquette to the 1977 national championship. That would remove a major monkey off of Boilermaker Pete’s back. Both Matt Painter and his mentor/predecessor, Gene Keady, have had their share of Final-Four-worthy teams, and never gotten...

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Michigan State: Vigilance trumped again in high-stakes `amateur’ sports world

After watching and reading ESPN’s comprehensive report on the alleged sexual misconduct within Michigan State the football and basketball programs, my first thought was compassion for the victims. How could these misdeeds take place? And how could the system protect the perpetrators so unblinkingly? The behavior that was tolerated in those men’s programs, combined with the unspeakable crimes of gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar paint an appalling picture of Michigan State athletics. My second thought? Is this worse than the Penn State scandal? Before I could decide, I caught myself saying, “Has it really come to this? That the worst possible behavior, protected by the highest authorities at major universities, is so common that it’s time to rank scandals?’’ So let’s not focus on which is the worst. Let’s simply agree that they both are unacceptable. And yearn for simpler times when academic fraud or recruiting improprieties seemed like the worst things. The real questions are: How do these things happen? How do we not have safeguards in place that nip this kind of depravity in the bud, rather than let it fester and grow for years. The answer I come back to is this: We love our sports so much that we have created a monster. Or monsters, if you will. The money is so huge, the stakes are so high, that anything that stands in the way of...

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Tiger’s back. Sort of. . . Why we can’t take our eyes off Tiger Woods

Tiger is back. Sort of. There’s this guy who looks like an older version of the guy who was a lock to become the greatest golfer of all-time, until injuries and personal mayhem brought him back to earth. Those who follow golf closely, and many who don’t, watched in fascination Thursday and Friday as Tiger Woods tentatively launched yet another comeback. This one is at Torrey Pines, the scene of so many Tiger triumphs, including the 2008 U.S. Open, when he won his 14th major on one healthy leg, defeating Rocco Mediate in a playoff. Tiger was 32 then, and destined to romp past Jack Nicklaus’ 18 major wins. What happened instead was a string of injuries, and a public humiliation involving a tawdry sex life that tested the will of spectators who admired Woods’ golf wizardry. What we have now is a 42-year-old Tiger Woods who is a fallen legend trying to get back on the pedestal. And it, once again, is fascinating. We all have our opinions about Tiger and his game. I do not expect him to win another major, or even another important tournament. Maybe not any tournament. The new generation(s) of golfers are so talented, and so focused that, at this point, a big win by a 40-something like Tiger or Phil Mickelson would be a wonderful curiosity, like the close-but-no-cigar runs made by...

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