• Friday night was a pretty good sports night for me. Not only did the Illini beat Will Peters’ Iowa Hawkeyes, but during that game (much of which I actually watched LIVE), the news broke that the Cardinals were trading for Rockies all-star third sacker Nolan Arenado. St. Louis has long coveted Arenado, but Bill DeWitt and John Mozeliak both said in recent months that this year’s payroll likely would be smaller. They did not pick up the option on Kolten Wong, and they finally got around to signing Waino, with Yadier Molina apparently not far behind. But I admit I did not see them pulling the trigger on the deal, which was finalized Monday as both the league and players’ union had to sign off because of the financials. Not only have the Cardinals apparently acquired one of the best third basemen in the game, they only appear to be giving up only one or two of their top prospects, plus pitcher Austin Gomber. JUST WOW! The NL Comedy Central is the weakest division in the game, and the Cardinals should now be the prohibitive favorite to win.

• Back to the Illini, who gutted out a high-level win against another high-level team, though the Hawkeyes definitely missed CJ Frederick. Can you imagine what Assembly Hall would have been like with a sellout crowd? Of course, DEFCON Fran whined about the officials after the game, saying Illinois did not get called for a foul in the last 10-12 minutes, or whatever it was exactly. Naturally, he DID NOT comment on the fact that Iowa did not get called for a foul for roughly the same amount of time before halftime. There were a few missed calls, especially a travel on Andre Curbelo right before the end of the first half, but really Fran? Maybe if you stopped *****ing about every call, you might get a few down the stretch! I would love to see these two teams face off again in the Big 14 tournament.