Just typing out loud.
Today’s VIP guest list includes the World Cup, Northern Illinois wrestling All-America Bill Young, Tom Dore, the word “amnesty” as a verb, Theo Epstein, Jack Quinlan, and “Jeopardy’s” Alex Trebek.
Thought No. 1: Look, let talking head Ann Coulter be soccer’s wicked witch. Not me. I like soccer. I do.
Back in the dark ages, when maybe the sport wasn’t as fashionable, I used to be the NIU men’s soccer sports information director and helped promote the school’s initial First-Team All-America (goalie Pete Mannos in 1974-75). In 1969, Northern Illinois hosted No. 1-ranked St. Louis University on the Huskie Stadium AstroTurf before a crowd of more than 8,000. In 1974, NIU hosted the IHSA boys’ soccer championships. Heck, some days, I might’ve even known what “offsides” was.
Working 21/2 years at European Stars & Stripes in the early 1970s, I learned very quickly about the Bundesliga, FC Bayern Munich, Franz Beckenbauer, Gerd Müller, etc. So I understand the passion overseas for soccer. The World Cup is global spectacle, epic drama, the soul-based source of international pride.
In 2014, I see the watch parties all over our nation, enthusiastic red, white, and blue crowds in Brazil, the 28,000 fans in Soldier Field for the United States-Belgium match on the video board. I do. On and off the field, USA soccer is much better.
Does it all match the local energy and interest produced by the six memorable Grant Park celebrations for Michael Jordan’s Bulls or the two recent Stanley Cups for the Blackhawks? Or the fantastic Bears’ Super Bowl parade back on that frigid January day in 1986? Not yet, soccer buffs. That’s how the majority of American sports fans still think. Sorry.
Thought No. 2: Sad to hear about the passing of former NIU wresting standout Bill Young at age 79 last month.
Not only was Young one of Hall of Fame coach Bob Brigham’s 11 Huskies mat All-Americas, he was the program’s first repeat All-America. Young placed third in the 167-pound weight class at the 1958 NAIA Championships and fourth in the 157-pound bracket at the 1959 NAIA tournament.
Young was a teacher, dean, and wrestling coach at Naperville Central High School from 1960 to ’93. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Northern Illinois.
Thought No. 3: Anybody miss Tom Dore, the TV play-by-play voice of the Bulls for 16 seasons (1991-2008)? (Please don’t get me started about current Bulls’ announcer Neil Funk.) Dore now works for Comcast SportsNet in Houston doing the popular Texas high school football Thursday night game of the week, plus doubles as the play-by-play man for Sun Belt Conference football and basketball TV package on weekends.
Dore, the seven-footer who played hoops at East Leyden and then Davidson and Missouri, might have been the only broadcaster to have trouble standing in the Huskie Stadium auxiliary football press box TV booth. “Mike,” Dore used to joke, “you need a taller press box.” Still do, Tom.
Thought No. 4: Okay, I confess. I’ve been writing sports since the mid-1960s, and along the way I’m sure I have brutalized the English language, grammar, syntax, etc., as much as anyone else in the profession. But since when is the word “amnesty” a verb? My dictionary and computer say noun.
With the Bulls have been trying to beat the salary cap and dump Carlos Boozer and his paycheck, Chicago’s NBA beat writers have invented this verb as shorthand to explain the complicated collective bargaining process. The best (worst?) example appeared in a recent article by Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times: “... Boozer -- now a candidate to be amnestied ...”.
Where’s the copy desk? (Yeah, “selfie” wasn’t a real word either, until recently). But “amnestied”? I can think of a few other choice words that Bulls’ fans would prefer to use for Boozer’s “game” or future in Chicago. And it surely isn’t that one.
Thought No. 5: Theo Epstein, the would-be genius president of baseball operations for the Cubs, sees the “light at the end of the tunnel.” Right. Theo would trade “Mr. Cub” Ernie Banks if he had the chance. Don’t want to hear the suits at Wrigley Field groaning about their starting pitching until at least 2020. Or can somebody trade Theo by then?
Thought No. 6: There’s a movement in Chicago among family, friends, and ex-colleagues to nominate former Cubs’ radio voice Jack Quinlan for induction into the broadcasting wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame this November. The gifted Quinlan did play-by-play for the Cubs on WIND-AM (1955-56) and WGN-AM (1957-64) before his tragic death at age 38 in a car accident at spring training in 1965.
To those who remember, Quinlan was an up-and-comer in the media business. He worked the first All-Star Game (there were two that summer) and the World Series on NBC radio in 1960, plus subbed for Hall of Famer Jack Brickhouse (who did the TV) on the WGN-AM coverage of the 1963 NFL title game between the Bears and New York Giants in 1963.
Quinlan’s unforgettable call on pitcher Don Cardwell’s 1960 no-hitter against the St. Louis Cardinals is considered a classic. Quinlan deserves strong consideration for the HOF. “Forgotten greatness” indeed.
Thought No. 7: Wonder what commissioner Jim Delany’s reaction was to the rare-but-timely Big Ten Conference clue (and subsequent wrong answers) on the popular TV quiz show “Jeopardy” late last month.
“Now that Rutgers and Maryland are joining the party,” “Jeopardy” host Alex Trebek read, “the Big Ten football conference has ‘X’ members.”
The answer is 14, or, forgive me, Alex, “what is 14?” Surprisingly, all the contestants that day flunked. The defending “Jeopardy” champ guessed 12 schools, which was the correct reponse before July 1.
How are highly informed, well-read “Jeopardy” contestants completely unsure on the membership numbers for America’s oldest, most respected, and best publicized NCAA Division I league?
And when does “Jeopardy” pose a similar Mid-American Conference question? Had to ask.
• Mike Korcek is a 1970 graduate of NIU, and was the school’s head sports information director from 1984-2006. His historical perspective on NIU athletics appears periodically in the Daily Chronicle. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.