• While the other columnist had already fallen asleep, our college roommate kept texting with me during the Cardinal game last Wednesday night. When Alex Reyes came in to relieve in the ninth, I texted him and basically predicted something bad would happen, and it did not take long for that …

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The record will show that Justin Fields’ first victory on the road as a starter in the National Football League came against the Raiders in what surely will be Jon Gruden’s final game as a coach in the NFL. Yep, we all saw that coming, didn’t we?

Everyone wants my hot takes on the Cardinals, but there’s no chance this week. The big wild card game is on Wednesday night and you will know the outcome by the time you read this drivel. I got up at 4:30 a.m. Tuesday to start on this mess, so good luck reading the rest...

• I wish I had put money on the Cardinals running off a 17-game win streak in September a month ago. Not only did they win their last 11 road games, they did it in many different ways (including two crazy plays in Saturday’s and Sunday’s games).

Sunday was a good day to watch sports on television (or your device of choice), but there was one game that was certifiably unwatchable. The Chicago Bears, GM Ryan Pace and head coach Matt Nagy finally, at last, may have drafted a franchise quarterback. And three games into Justin Fields’ ro…

• My St. Louis Cardinals have decided to perk up in the last week, sweeping two key series against Scott Weller’s Metropolitans and then the free-falling San Diego Padres at Busch over the weekend, including with the 2011 World Series champs in the building.

Yes, I'm sure you all saw this coming. The Cardinals flop around all season, barely staying in contention for a playoff spot and hovering around .500. Fans and impatient local media folk rail for weeks and months on the roster issues and the changes that need to be made and on and on and on.…

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• Not that I expected Illinois to win at Virginia Saturday, but getting routed 42-14 and having the defense savaged was not a good look for Bret Bielema’s squad. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the defense was a concern going into this season, even with all the super seniors re…

No matter how many times I try to shovel dirt on the St. Louis Cardinals' season, the fact is that as of this writing the team is a half game out of the second Wild Card spot. Of course, that's only 17 games behind the other Wild Card team, the Los Angeles Dodgers. And with the Cardinals onl…

• No one said it would be smooth sailing for Bret Bielema and the Fighting Illini football team. The win over Nebraska was dulled after the loss to Texas-San Antonio Saturday night at Memorial Stadium. Yes, UTSA is a Group of Five team that got paid $1.1 million to come to Champaign, but tha…

Yes, the Cardinals are in the 'race' for the second wild card spot in the National League. So are several other teams, in fact. That doesn't change the fact that this is just an average team, with a number of issues, and the season was put in crystal clear focus Sunday afternoon in Milwaukee…

• Even if the other team is not very good, like Scott Frost’s Nebraska Cornhuskers, opening with a win is never a bad thing, and the Bret Bielema era at the University of Illinois started with a Big 14 Conference win at a sultry Memorial Stadium Saturday.

• It was nice to see the Cardinals win a few road games earlier this month, but just because they went 6-0 did not mean I jumped back on the bandwagon, because those wins were against Andy Becker’s Pirates and the Kansas City Royals.

Hey everyone, it's hot outside. Look, something we can all agree on! In this polarizing world, where bias and half-truths rule the day, I'm not sure how you can argue that a heat index of 105 isn't hot. And that might be all we agree on, as once again I will dive into some non-sports topics …

Time for a week off from mask talk; this is a mask-free zone (for one week at least). But the 'stick to sports' crowd will once again be up in arms. Hey, I can't please everybody, and I never will. Nor would I ever want to...

• Before the Atlanta series, Cardinal manager Mike Shildt said he liked his team’s chances to make a run for the playoffs if they could win each of the 18 remaining series on the schedule. WELP! The first series, against Macon’s Brian Snitker, saw a sweep by the Tomahawk Chop-loving squad, a…

Welcome to Facemask Theater, August 2021-style. Yes, it's still going on, and yes, I don't see an end in sight. And it's never been a more hot button issue locally, either, with the Illinois State Fair getting underway this week and the new school year starting up as well.

Welcome to August 2021, also known as the major transition month back to insane workload levels for many of us, including yours truly. Schools will be back in session soon, football and volleyball practices (and so many other sports) are set to begin and we're enjoying the final days and wee…

• We all know that the Cardinals will make a run to the World Series title now, since they traded for 600-year-old J.A. Happ and 550-year-old Jon Lester last week! I am surprised that the Cardinals even made a trade or two, and while those players would have been better to get a few years ag…

• By the time you read this, it is quite likely that Vladimir Tarasenko will not be a member of the St. Louis Blues. The Seattle Kraken were slated to announce their expansion draft selections Wednesday night, after our press time, and reports are out there that Tarasenko could be picked by …

In an ode to crybaby Bryson DeChambeau, I'm gonna blame this week's terrible column on my computer, my employer, my loud neighbors, my wildly inconsistent golf game, Byron Painter, Donald Trump and, well, the entire Pritzker administration. Nothing I ever do is my fault; nor is anything 'cor…

It's Open Championship week, or the British Open, or whatever you want to call it. Yes, golf. Turn the page, I know. But who knows what you might miss???...

Since I did not bless this space last week, I have much more material than space, so let’s get going and see what fits…

My mind is wandering in a bunch of different places this week, and I'm not sure how that's any different than normal, but it will likely bring a mish-mash of topics. In other words, nothing is safe from discussion this week. Buckle up those seat belts...

• Nothing might indicate the dire straits of the Cardinals more than having a player named Lars Nootbaar on the roster! I admit I don’t follow the Cardinals and their minor league system as much as I used to, but Lars Nootbaar? Of course, he is off to a decent start for the Redbirds, who hav…

Hopefully by the time you read this, it will have stopped raining. I mean, I know I like to complain and I know some of you do too, but what a ridiculous weather pattern we have been in lately. We've seen lots of crops damaged and/or flooded, and that's obviously not a good thing, at all...

I'm not sure how off the rails this is going to be, but not all 'Phase 5s' are created equally, apparently. We're 'back to normal' in Illinois? Hardly. Ask the school superintendents, principals, teachers, kids and parents if we're 'back to normal?' And on college campuses? They won't let yo…

• Since the Cardinals have tanked, getting swept by Steve Hindert’s Cubbies over the weekend, I still am focusing a lot of attention on the Blues. Saturday was the two-year anniversary of them winning the Stanley Cup, so what did I do to celebrate? I watched Game 7 AGAIN! Bally Sports Midwes…

• The Cardinals believed that the starting rotation would be one of the strongest parts of their squad going into the season, even with Dakota Hudson being sidelined for the year with Tommy John surgery. Welp! Now the Redbirds have 3/5 of their expected starting rotation on the injury shelf,…

Well, it's Patrick Wisdom's world, and we're all just living in it. Not surprisingly, of course, Wisdom was a long-time minor leaguer in the Cardinals' system who put up big numbers and never really got a chance in the majors. A few years later, he's now raking for the Cubs. Can it last? Who…

• If I had graced this spot last week, I would have joked that so many of the NHL experts wanted to pick the Avalanche to beat the Blues in three, in a best-of-7 series. The series was so lopsided, there was almost no reason to play it. Then Ryan O’Reilly says that the Blues will beat the Av…

I'm just going to put it out there - golf is not boring. If you understand the game of golf in some form, and you watched the weekend coverage of the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island, then I think you would agree. What a sport, where a man past his 50th birthday can compete with men in thei…

If you like the Cardinals, golf and complaining about the state of affairs in the Land of Pritzker, well, you've come to the right place. It's chilly and rainy and miserable outside as I type this missive, so why not give you what you missed last week - unhinged takes so scorching hot that t…

• The Illinois men’s basketball team has lost two of its assistant coaches to Kentucky, Orlando Antigua and Chin Coleman. Antigua coached at Kentucky before coming to Champaign, so his departure was not as big of a surprise as Coleman, but those two work well together and were basically a pa…

• It is amazing how much better your baseball team plays when the starting pitching improves, as it has with the Cardinals the last couple of times through the rotation. I am not ready to pronounce Carlos Martinez fully back, but his last two starts have been promising. If Miles Mikolas coul…

I'm going to apologize in advance, but the wheels are off the wagon. I'm done. If you can defend this totalitarian regime still in control of our lives and livelihoods in this state, your best move is to turn the page.

As much as I would like to write about Yadier Molina or Jason Adam or Madison Bumgarner's 7-inning no-hitter or who the 49ers are going to draft third overall or who the Bears are going to draft - all that will have to wait. I am now fully vaccinated, and I have thoughts. Oh, I have a lot of…

• Catching 2,000 games in the major leagues is a big deal, and Yadier Molina became the first one to do it entirely with one team last week (though as a small aside, the big ovation should have come when the game was official and not after the first pitch). Yadi has come out strong this year…

• Last week in this space, I was lamenting the current state of the Blues, who were roundly embarrassed vs. Vegas April 5. Lo and behold, they beat the Golden Knights last Wednesday, then swept Minnesota over the weekend to put themselves back into a playoff spot, also thanks to the Coyotes …

Hopefully this missive will make it to your mailboxes this week, because, you know, cancel culture is coming for all of us. I don't know how I've escaped it so far, quite frankly. God forbid I have an opinion or two that someone might not agree with. We handle disagreements so well in this c…

With spring now in full bloom, the Major League Baseball season underway, high school sports seasons merging together in these unprecedented times, new learning models in place, a local election completed and The Masters this weekend (what did I miss?), yes, it's a busy time. In stark contra…

• So the Major League Baseball season is underway, and it took all of two games for there to be a donnybrook, courtesy of punk Nick Castellanos of the Reds, a former member of Larry Patterson’s favorite team. Castellanos drilled a homer in Thursday’s opener and pranced around the bases (whil…

• It was not a good weekend for the Big 14, and this Illinois fan is disheartened considerably after the putrid performance the Illini had on Sunday vs. the criminally underseeded Loyola Ramblers. I was more worried about a matchup with the Ramblers than I would have been against almost anyb…

For all those wondering...yes, I am fine. Heck, compared to some other drama I've been dealing with lately, Illinois getting upset by Loyola Chicago is far down the list of issues. But...my goodness. When the season ends, and it ends way before you thought it would with a massive thud, the i…

You never forget the journey, and I think as you get older, you realize these things more and more. The entire season, so far, of Illini basketball has been one of the best ever, but the past couple of weeks have been truly special. Those of us who are old enough, and those of us who are pas…

• The Illinois men’s basketball team finished the gauntlet known as the Big 14 Conference Sunday with a scintillating overtime win over THE Ohio State University. After gutting out a win against Will Peters’ Iowa Hawkeyes Saturday, the Illini blew a 17-point lead before finally pulling out a…

• I don’t completely blame Michigan for not playing a full slate of Big 14 Conference games, while Illinois was playing a rigorous slate near the end (five of six on the road, on short rest). At the least, bumbling Commissioner Kevin Warren should have stepped in and told Michigan it was pla…

One of my better subjects in school (you know, like 30-plus years ago...) was math. I did the whole Algebra thing in eighth grade and Calculus in high school. I'm not sure what happened after that, other than one poor decision on top of another one and repeating those same mistakes over and …

What an incredible night to be a Fighting Illini fan, and what a colossal beatdown of a team that some had rated as the No. 1 team in college basketball, if not top three by everyone associated with the game. No Ayo, no problem. Did I think it was possible? No. I wanted the Illini to stay in…

• I probably was in the minority Saturday during the Illinois game, as I felt Ayo Dosunmu was left in the game TOO LONG as he tried for his second triple-double in two weeks. Yes, getting a triple-double is a rare thing, but I did not like it. Illinois has Final Four aspirations, and if Ayo …

Ayo or Luka? Luka or Ayo? As a die-hard Illinois fan, you can likely guess my answer. However, my job is to look at something objectively. And in a non-biased, non-political and common sense-based world (not happening in current society), a great case can be made for both players for Big Ten…