Soul Train Heads to the Big Train Depot in the Sky

Many years ago, a young Frank the Tank spent his Saturday mornings with a fairly consistent TV-viewing routine: The Smurfs, Looney Tunes, and capping it all off with Soul Train.  As you wrap your mind around the image of a half-Polish/half-Chinese toddler sitting around watching Soul Train in rapture (of course, host Don Cornelius was the definition of encouraging diversity, as evidenced by inviting these guys as guests at one point), please note that I was a massive hip-hop fan long before it was considered to be mainstream and since I lived in a household without cable (meaning no MTV or BET), Soul Train was pretty much the only television outlet available for me to get my dose of favorite music.  Not only that, the Chicago broadcasts of Soul Train on WGN included a heavy rotation of the greatest commercials of all-time – you can only imagine the horror on my Taiwanese-born mother’s face when I requested that we take a detour to the Museum of Science and Industry so that we could stop by Moo & Oink.  So, I got a little emotional when I found out that the old Soul Train reruns were being taken off the air for good (there haven’t been any new episodes since 2006).  Don Cornelius helped bring R&B and hip-hop to the masses in an era where those genres were considered to “niche” markets.  Now, even the NFL has moved away from using aging white rock stars to headline the Super Bowl halftime show… what?  (This blog post pretty much sums up my feelings about Bruce Springsteen – he’s not bad and there are certain songs such as “Glory Days” that are among my favorites, but I’ve just never felt that he was as great of a songwriter and rock star as he’s made out to be by much of the the general public.)  OK, so there still needs to be some work done.  However, when you look at the top Billboard songs over the past decade, you’ll see the charts dominated by either hip-hop or at least hip-hop influenced acts.  All of those artists should be grateful to the work of Don Cornelius and Soul Train for paving the way when that music wasn’t quite as accepted.

(Ed. note: You may have noticed that I’ve referenced Color Me Badd twice in the last week, which is unusual since no person on Earth has acknowledged their existence for the past 18 years.  Let me just tell you that after my research of the “band” on YouTube, I felt the same elation of uncovering some life-altering treasure as the archaeologist from Jurassic Park that found the prehistoric mosquito encased in amber.  Of course, there’s some blissful ignorance of the collateral damage that will surely come from these discoveries, which means I’ll likely become a pregame snack for a velociraptor within the next couple of weeks.)

(Image from Museum of Broadcast Communications)

Land-o-Links – 6/16/2007

My professional obligations have been keeping me away from blogging for the past couple of weeks, but at least in the sports world, it’s been a pretty pathetic period anyway (from my perspective). The NBA Finals were a complete bomb with the Spurs simply wiping out LeBron and the Cavs while the White Sox are for all intents and purposes done for the season with a June swoon that’s normally reserved for the Cubs. Let’s get so some overdue links:

1) Twins Owner Buys Into Hip-Hop (AllHipHop.com) – The selling radio station owner didn’t think the Twin Cities area had “enough of a black population to support the station’s format”. C’mon, there’s got to be at least five or six black people that live in Minneapolis other than the members of the Timberwolves, Twins and Vikings, right? Anyone? As for Carl Pohlad getting into the hip-hop game, I’ll let Minneapolis Red Sox comment on that one.

2) Your Gripping NBA Champions (Deadspin) – I know that it’s de rigeur to consider the San Antonio Spurs to be boring and bland, but something in the back of my head tells me that if this exact same team were wearing Knicks or Lakers uniforms, the sports world would be gushing right now about a glamorous dynasty a la MJ’s Bulls. It’s like the old Jerry Seinfeld line about how “we’re cheering for laundry” in terms of watching sports.

That being said, this year’s NBA Finals were about as brutal as I’ve ever seen. As much as I fear that the next decade will consist of karmic payback of the LeBron James and the Cavs dominating the Bulls and the East the same way that Michael Jordan made Craig Ehlo his bitch for years, Cleveland simply wasn’t good.  It’s unbelievable that a Cleveland team that was so poorly constructed could get all the way to this point in the first point with essentially just LeBron. Meanwhile, the Spurs have ridden a lucky ping-pong ball bounce in 1997 that yielded the right to draft Tim Duncan all the way to four NBA titles. My general point here, which I will continue to hammer home until the Bulls make the big moves that they need to get to the proverbial next level, is that having a transcendent star with subpar surrounding pieces (i.e. the Cavs and LeBron) still trumps having solid well-balanced teams without that go-to guy (i.e. the Pistons and Bulls) in the world of the NBA. I wish that weren’t true because I’m a huge believer in those fundamental principles of teamwork and chemistry, but this has simply been the state of the NBA for a long time. Meanwhile, the Spurs have shown again that skillful building around a dominant anchor will pretty much guarantee them a legitimate shot at the title year in and year out. Of course, as I alluded to before, the best personnel move that they ever made was getting the right ping-pong balls in ’97. And you wonder why I was obsessed with this year’s NBA lottery for the last 18 months?

3) Your 2007 Bile File Recipients (Sweet Home Sports) – One of my pet peeves about baseball standings discussions among the general public: everyone gets lathered up about the division races yet completely neglect the fact that there’s also a wild card spot to get into the playoffs. Thus, I was pooh-poohing all of the doomsdayers a couple of weeks ago that said the White Sox were done by being so many games behind Cleveland in the AL Central division race. My reasoning was that they were only a couple of games behind Detroit in the wild card race at the time and with the way the AL Central is this season, getting to second place in that division will probably get a team into the postseason. Ask the Boston Red Sox, Florida Marlins and Anaheim Angels whether it matters if you get into the playoffs by winning the wild card or the division. Fact: the AL West champ hasn’t won the World Series since the wild card was instituted in 1995 (the Angels were a wild card team the year they won in 2002), while 3 of the 7 World Series this century have been won by a wild card team. Long story short – don’t ever forget about the wild card.

Of course, this no longer matters for the White Sox since they basically haven’t won since the last time I put up a blog post two weeks ago while the Tigers have surged back to be just about even with the Indians. (Is it just me, or do the Tigers score 15 runs every single night?) Thus, the Bile File has returned at Sweet Home Sports, and there is certainly a plethora of candidates in what appears to be a summer of misery on the South Side.

4) Fuzzy Numbers: A TL Statistical Plunge (The Ted Lilly Fan Club) – It’s nice to see what the three members of the Ted Lilly Fan Club think of yours truly.

And finally…

5) One of the Worst The Price is Right Players Ever (YouTube) – One more homage to Bob Barker as he heads off to his retirement party. This clip starts getting really good at the 2 minute mark, so be sure to watch it all the way through.

Have a wonderful rest of the weekend!

Land-o-Links – 5/31/2007

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As I prepare to actually have to cheer for a team from Cleveland since Deron Williams (as much as he tried) wasn’t able to derail the Western half of the impending national nightmare of another Pistons-Spurs NBA Finals, here are some links:

(1) Priceless! (Chicago Tribune) – When I was flying on JetBlue a couple of weeks ago, which has DirecTV at every seat, I came across a showing of “Happy Gilmore” and my wife had to restrain me from busting out of my seat in laughter during Bob Barker’s scenes even though I’ve seen them a million times.  There are also two programs I’ll always remember watching on TV during the days that I spent at my Grandma’s house when I was a kid: baseball on WGN and the “The Price is Right”.  As to the thought of Rosie O’Donnell or Mario Lopez as replacements for the legendary Barker, I only have one thing to say: the price is wrong, bitch!

(2) Lost Season 3 Finale Recap (The Lost Blog) – SPOILER ALERT IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE “LOST” SEASON FINALE.  After a pretty disappointing “24” season – CTU has been compromised more than [insert Lindsay Lohan joke here] – the “Lost” season finale more than made up for it with a simply mind-blowing turn with the flash forward.  I’m not quite convinced that the Losties are getting off of the island at the very beginning of next season; for once, I think Ben isn’t feeding a line of B.S. that the “rescuers” are going to do a lot more harm than good.  Anyway, I’m extremely glad that I didn’t encounter the numerous spoilers that were posted on the Internet prior to the show’s airing since the surprise twist had such a huge impact if you didn’t know it was coming.  I argued last year that “Lost” (and pretty much all television programs) ought to go to a “24”-type of schedule where all of the episodes run in succession without reruns, which ABC has decided to do.  Even though I still think that’s a good idea, that also means we’re going to have to wait until next February for new episodes, which is going to be an excruciating wait after such an incredible cliff hanger.

(3)  Thompson Begins Steps for 2008 Bid (Washington Post) – I personally like Fred Thompson and he was great on “Law & Order”, but with the likelihood of the two parties’ presidential nominees being decided within the first month of the primary season, the late start in the money race is going to be an albatross on the viability of his candidacy.

(4) Kobe Wants to be Traded… or Does He? (Los Angeles Times) – Don’t tease me with another NBA star allegedly on the market that would look pretty nice in a Bulls uniform.  As much as I’d like to see it happen, there’s no way Kobe Bryant is leaving Hollywood – this will blow over.

And finally…

(5)  50 Cent’s Investment Pays Off (AllHipHop.com) – Remember last year when 50 Cent starting selling grape drink?  Showing that sugar, water, and purple equals Fort Knox, Coca-Cola is buying the company that produces 50’s drink where his take is going to end up being around $400 million.  Something tells me that the “G” in G-Unit must stand for “grape”.

(Image from celebsarepeopletoo.com

Land-o-Links – 5/15/2007

We’ll see if the Bulls can make things interesting by extending the season tonight.  Until then, here are some links:

(1) Girth and Nudity, a Pictorial Mission (New York Times) – There are some things that you can’t unsee.  Thanks, Spock.

(2) 1st-Class Star for Second City? (Chicago Tribune) – The rumors of A-Rod going to the Cubs or White Sox pop up about as often as those rumors of Kevin Garnett being traded to the Bulls (meaning that they’ve been in the Chicago papers on a weekly basis).  These deals really ought to happen, but the respective traders of the Yankees and Timberwolves can’t get over the thought of letting their superstars go even if it’s for the greater good of their teams.

(3) TV Just Got a Lot ‘Whiter’, Says a Canceled George Lopez (Los Angeles Times) – With Jim Belushi (worst Chicago “celebrity” ever) also axed by ABC, TV also just got a lot funnier through addition by subtraction.

(4) Brett Favre: ‘I Don’t Want to Be Traded… We Can Be Pretty Good (NFL FanHouse) – Your SportsCenter lineup for the next 5 months: (1) every Barry Bonds swing, (2) every Roger Clemens rehab pitch, (3) previews of the next and reviews of the last Yankees-Red Sox series, and (4) every Brett Favre utterance about retirement/non-retirement/trades/non-trades.  This will all lead up to the Duke/UNC basketball season.

And finally…

(5) MTV Developing Reality Series ‘Rapping With the Stars’ (AllHipHop.com) – I think America is ready for a half-Asian/half-Caucasian rap superstar named Frank the Tank.  Stop snitchin’, kids.

Land-o-Links for 2/23/2007

As we head into the weekend, here is a mix of random news and sports links:

(1) PTAs Go Way Beyond Cookies (New York Times) – It was only a matter of time before Gordon Gecko started taking over PTA meetings.

(2) But Do They Cover This in Those Big Green Books? (Wall Street Journal Law Blog) – We crazy lawyers have outdone ourselves this time.  It’s not unusual to see a class action lawsuit filed.  However, it’s very unusual to see a class action lawsuit filed on behalf a group of… lawyers.  For what it’s worth, I’ll gladly take a $125 settlement from Bar/Bri (a monopolistic racket that puts Microsoft and Major League Baseball to shame), so the lead plaintiffs here need to simmer down.

(3) It Really is Time We Had a Trade or Two (True Hoop) – I think we’ve gotten to the point where the NBA trade deadline might very well be the most anti-climactic day in sports.  Every year, hoops fans banter on for months about viable swaps involving superstars yet no one ever pulls the trigger.  This season saw Jason Kidd and Pau Gasol added on to the rumor mill with perennial trade bait Kevin Garnett, which all ended up being a ton of hot air.  I mean, Isiah Thomas didn’t even get to give away another draft pick this year.

Note to Timberwolves GM Kevin McHale: for the love of God, trade KG to the Bulls already.  You’re on the outside looking in for the Western playoff race once again with the same old lineup.  You could’ve nabbed two of the Bulls’ top three players – Luol Deng, Kirk Hinrich, and/or Ben Gordon – plus a potential boon of a draft pick this summer in a trade that would’ve aided both teams by giving the T-Wolves a strong base of young players that are already playoff-tested and putting the Bulls in position to fully take advantage of what will surely turn out to be the last couple of productive seasons for Ben Wallace immediately, yet you continue to be maddeningly stubborn.  This is another missed opportunity for everyone involved.

(4) Smith on Bench a Bad Idea (Mark Tupper Weblog) – For all of the national attention on the last dance for Chief Illiniwek on Wednesday (which I didn’t get to see live since I’m not one of the five people in the country that gets ESPNU), the larger concurrent issue for the Illinois basketball program is the awful cloud surrounding Jamar Smith’s criminal charges and the appearance of him being more worried about saving his own hide as opposed to Brian Carlwell’s life.  As much as I loved Jamar’s shooting touch, there’s no place in the Illini program for someone that completely disregarded his moral responsibilities to his teammate, much less the legal aspect of it all.  I’m sure that Bruce Weber and Ron Guenther will eventually make the right call here.

And finally…

(5) Foxy Brown Arrested in South Florida Over Hair Glue, Spitting Incident (AllHipHop.com) – I’m sure that everyone has gone ballistic in a beauty shop at one time.  But twice???

Land-o-Links – 2/12/2007

As I sit here sulking over not winning my Grammy moment with Justin Timberlake last night, here are some links:

(1) Close Call Would Have Helped on Selection Sunday (Mark Tupper Weblog) – Putting aside my disdain for Satan’s Spawn, Illinois missed a golden opportunity to virtually lock up an NCAA Tournament bid by faltering in the final minute on the road against Indiana on Saturday. As Mark Tupper alludes to in the link, Illini fans are now going to be extremely nervous heading into Selection Sunday. I still believe that a 9-7 record in the Big Ten ought to be enough for a bid (which would require us to win 3 out of the last 4, but we’d better also win at least 1 game in the Big Ten Tournament on top of that to be sure.

(2) Bubble Watch (ESPN.com) – Speaking of the NCAA Tournament and Selection Sunday, ESPN is back with its overview of the bubble teams. What’s amazing is that UConn and LSU, who were simply dominant last year, are almost certainly not going to be invited to the dance unless they win their conference tournaments while Michigan State is pretty close to being in the same position.

(3) A New Chandler in Chicago (Zoner Sports) – In one more note on college basketball before getting onto other subjects, it should be reiterated that Wilson Chandler of DePaul simply rules. That being said, DePaul has been maddeningly inconsistent this season. With victories against Kansas, UConn, and, most recently, Notre Dame, the Blue Demons should have been a lock for the NCAA Tournament along with being at least a middle seed in the Big East Tournament. However, with 3 horrible losses to sub-100 teams in the RPI (including a dreary 49-39 early season loss to Northwestern that had George Mikan rolling in his grave), DePaul isn’t even considered to be a bubble team anymore and still could miss the conference tournament at Madison Square Garden for the second time in as many seasons as a Big East member. The remaining regular season schedule ought to play in DePaul’s favor (besides a home game versus Marquette and a return road game at Notre Dame, the Demons have 2 games against bottom-feeder USF plus a putrid Cincinnati team at home), but their game-to-game inconsistencies have made the Illini look stable in comparison.

(4) Obama Questions Rivals on Iraq (Washington Post) – The most prominent political story in Chicago and the nation from this past weekend was the inevitable announcement by Senator Barack Obama that he will be running for President. As I’ve said before, I never thought that his relative lack of experience in the Senate would matter much on the campaign trail (otherwise, the history books would be peppered with stories about Presidents Dole and Kerry).

However, the main disadavantage that Obama has against Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary and, if he survives that, Rudy Giuliani or John McCain in the general election, is that the Presidential campaign will be the first time that the Senator from Illinois will ever experience the invasive and daily media scrutiny that comes with being on the national stage. While Obama has received almost universal fawning from the national media since his keynote address at the 2004 Democratic Convention, the negative press is going to eventually come and we have no idea how he’s going to react to it. As John Kass pointed out in yesterday’s Chicago Tribune, the national and international media has been ignorant with regard to (or at least ignoring) the Tony Rezko scandal so far – I’d be willing to bet on a lot more damaging stories surfacing as we go along. (I’m not saying Obama is by any means a nefarious person, but bad stories are simply going to come up no matter what.)

Meanwhile, is there anything that can be thrown at Hillary that could be any worse than the Whitewater and Monica Lewinsky scandals while her husband was in the White House? By the same token, what hasn’t Rudy Giuliani heard while having to deal with the rabid New York press on a daily basis for 8 years? If Barack Obama is going to win the Presidency, the key for him will be how he deals with his lack of experience of dealing with the negative, if not personally invasive, media stories that will eventually come to fruition as opposed to only having two years on the national stage in the Senate.

(5) Las Vegas Has Got the Game, but It Wants a Team (New York Times) – If you thought a Super Bowl in Miami was insane, just watch out when the highest-paid athletes in all of sports all get together this weekend in Las Vegas for the NBA All-Star Game. It takes a town with 124,000 hotel rooms to be able to hold that many entourages and posses. Honestly, I’d skip the game just to watch Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley take on the house in blackjack.

On another note, it’s simply criminal that none of the professional sports leagues have set up shop in Las Vegas yet. I can understand the NFL’s reservations since pro football is by far the most wagered on sport (followed by college football and a smattering of college basketball games), but the amount of dollars placed on Major League Baseball,NBA, and NHL games are minimal. As alluded to in the linked article, the best compromise would be for the casinos to take any games played by the Las Vegas franchises off of the board, which would eliminate the largest preceived (if not misguided) fear of illicit activity by the mere presence of teams in the city. With a town that is at the center of one of the nation’s fastest growing metropolitan areas, a magnet for tourists from across the world, and more than flush with potential customers with a ton of cash, it’s only a matter of time before one of the leagues makes the plunge.

And finally…

(6) Bow Wow Launches New Label, Crew (AllHipHop.com) – Anyone can launch a new record label. Launching a new crew, on the other hand…

Frank the Tank’s Classic Music Video of the Week: Poison – Bell Biv Devoe

The high-top fade haircut may or may not ever come back, but I’ve been on a personal mission to keep “The Running Man” dance move alive for the past 15 years. There’s no better way to honor the memory of the patriarchs of the East Coast Family.

(This and a ton of other clips are on the Frank the Tank Channel on YouTube.)

Frank the Tank’s Classic Music Video of the Week: The 12 Days of Christmas – John Denver and the Muppets

Reason number 1,015 to be thankful this holiday season for YouTube: Getting to see footage of “John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together” for the first time since my family’s old VHS copy of the iconic TV special became too scratched two decades ago.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to Everyone!

(This and a ton of other clips are on the Frank the Tank Channel on YouTube.)

Frank the Tank’s Slant 1st Anniversary Extravaganza: The Top 15 Posts of the Year

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It’s difficult to believe, but the first two posts on Frank the Tank’s Slant were put up for posterity one year ago today. Since then, you’ve witnessed a steady stream of bloviations from me along with Land-o-Links (my device to comment on numerous items from around the web that don’t warrant full-fledged posts), classic music videos (with a heavy emphasis on old school hip-hop and monster arena rock), and maybe even a different take on the world of sports and news every once in awhile.

Despite becoming a fairly active blogger, I’m not one of those people that believes that blogs will completely turn the media landscape on its head. In my mind, there’s still an important role for “old media” such as newspapers and television to look at events and issues without the colored commentary that inherently accompanies blogs). However, I do think that blogs give the opportunity for yeomen such as myself to stake out places in this flattened world that were previously only the domain of an exclusive media elite while also finally providing exposure to some of the best writers anywhere, including those Slant readers out there that blog themselves.

So, in honor of the first anniversary of Frank the Tank’s Slant, here’s a look back at my 15 favorite posts from the past year, ranked in ascending order, that range from thoughts on the world of sports to political election strategies and television scheduling with some updated comments and observations:

(15) Football vs. Football: College or Pro? (August 16, 2006) – A point-by-point comparison of college football and the NFL, with me giving the college game a slight edge. Of course, I noted that this was a debate comparable to deciding “whether it was more shocking to find out that Liberace was gay versus Lance Bass – if there’s any answer at all, we’re definitely splitting hairs here.” At the same time, I have a zealous hatred of the current BCS system, which has been outlined on this blog a number of times.

(14) Demons Dog the Irish (January 9, 2006) – Regular readers can easily observe that I’m a devoted and frequent writer on the happenings at my undergraduate alma mater of the University of Illinois, but this post featured a rarer instance when I focused on the basketball program at my law school alma mater of DePaul in the wake of my attendance at its inaugural Big East game against rival Notre Dame.

(13) The Yellow Rose Bowl of Texas: My BCS Bowl Picks (December 26, 2005) – I absolutely nailed 3 out of the 4 games right down to a “Penn State will win but not cover” prediction while being comforted that no one that dates outside of his or her own family could have possibly bet money that West Virginia would have beaten Georgia straight-up in a virtual home game at the Georgia Dome. That initial success only a couple weeks after starting this blog emboldened me to make predictions on a regular basis in all of the major sports, which have turned out to be all completely wrong and boneheaded.

(12) Non-Stop TV Seasons Need to be Adopted Everywhere (April 24, 2006) – With ABC changing the scheduling of “Lost” this year, it seems as though the television networks are beginning to heed my calls to get out of its “sweeps feast vs. non-sweeps famine” cycle. They’re about a decade too late to stem the tide to alternative forms of entertainment, but it’s a start.

(11) No Need for an Apology from the Daily Illini (February 14, 2006), The Daily Illini Needs to Apologize for Something Else (February 15, 2006), More Thoughts From Minneapolis Red Sox and Frank the Tank on the Daily Illini (February 16, 2006) – A trilogy of posts on the controversy that surrounded the Daily Illini’s decision to print the Danish cartoons that were the impetus for deadly riots across the Muslim world. The “More Thoughts” post is one of my favorites as the product of a back-and-forth email discussion between my buddy Minneapolis Red Sox and me, particularly since it revealed some surprising views from the “Siberia, Minnesota” writer as a former newspaper reporter.

(10) Springtime for Kiper on Broadway (April 28, 2006) – My pre-NFL Draft thoughts that explained why I love the event so much and predicted the eventual decision of the Bears to trade out of the first round. The follow-up post after the draft had a scathing criticism of the Bears’ moves, but I have since admitted that I was completely wrong, particularly about special teams sage and my new man crush Devin Hester.

(9) Frank the Tank’s Great All-You-Can-Eat Buffets of Chicago (July 14, 2006) – All-you-can-eat is all-that-I-need.

(8) Big Ten from Eleven to Twelve? If There’s No Luck of the Irish, Bring in More Orange (March 5, 2006) – The types of posts that I enjoy writing the most are about wonky sports business and law subjects. At least from my perspective, while there are multitudes of people in the blogosphere that break down the games on the field on a daily basis (and do it very well), there’s a dearth of perspectives on the off-the-field matters, so I attempt to fill that gap from time-to-time. On the particular subject of big Ten expansion, I’m from the camp that the conference should only expand to 12 teams if it means that it’s maximizing its national footprint, which means the 2 real choices for the conference are either Notre Dame (unparalleled in terms of national exposure) or Syracuse (a strong East Coast counterpart for Penn State). As a result, I pass this post along everytime I hear suggestions for Pittsburgh (market already covered by Penn State), West Virginia (an even smaller market), or Missouri (besides the practical matter of whether it would worth it to secede from the Big 12, Illinois already covers the St. Louis market).

(7) The Bears Are Who They Thought They Were! (October 17, 2006) – This was written on only a couple of hours of sleep since I was completed wired after the Bears’ Monday Night comeback against the Cardinals. Regardless of my writing, the YouTube clip of the uncensored Dennis Green press conference is going to be the subject of mutiple NFL Films specials years from now.

(6) The Mason Midmajor Myth (April 6, 2006) – At the time that this post was written, my Billy Packer-esque sentiment was about as popular as, well, Billy Packer himself. However, I still believe that George Mason’s run to the Final Four was the peak of the midmajors as opposed to the start of any trend. We’ll see how this college basketball season will play out.

(5) The Lonely Libertarian: A View From a Disaffected Republican (November 10, 2006) – A rare post from me that was dedicated solely to politics (and I explained exactly why I haven’t written much about the political arena despite my deep interest in the subject). The output here was a bit long-winded yet long overdue as a result of a whole lot of pent-up frustration. Simply put, if the Republicans don’t pay attention to people such as myself, they’re going to lose even more ground in 2008 than they did in this year’s midterm elections.

(4) Chi-Town vs. Motown: Rivalries Across the Board (July 19, 2006) – After the sports business posts, my second favorite broad topic to write about is the nature of rivalries. The analysis of the Chicago-Detroit rivalries was something that I brewed over for months before I finally got down to writing it since there’s much more involved than just a single major rivalry between two particular teams such as the Bears vs. Packers.

(3) Hoosier Fleecing: A Q&A with Frank the Tank on the Eric Gordon Debacle (October 16, 2006) – The most widely read post that I’ve had on this blog to date due to links from Deadspin and numerous other sites from across the blogosphere along with continued interest in the story. As you can probably tell, the emotions were extremely raw at the time. Even though I’ve clamed down a bit, Satan’s Spawn, er, Kelvin Sampson, is going to need to wear some SWAT team gear if he wants to survive his visit the real Assembly Hall in Champaign on January 23rd.

(2) The Best of Both Worlds: A Modest Proposal for a College Football Playoff That Keeps the Bowls (July 28, 2006) – As long as the BCS school presidents continue to support the current bowl system, this post will stand the test of time. My college football playoff proposal wasn’t necessarily the most original idea (I’ve seen variations of the playoff/bowl hybrid before), but I did want to set forth a system that would give incentives for the BCS conferences to implement it as opposed to the standard calls for an NCAA Tournament-style format, which the powers that be will never go for. In the wake of this year’s Michigan-Florida debacle, it’s time to get this done.

(1) The Paranoia of Illini Nation (December 15, 2005) – This was the issue that spurred me to begin this blog and was my first real substantive post. Even though the Eric Gordon reference is obviously now dated, it’s still my favorite piece of writing as it combines my emotional love for the Illini with an attempt to step back from the proverbial chip on the shoulder that seems to plague our fan base.

I hope that you enjoyed this look back on the recent past and get ready for a sophomore year that hopefully won’t have a slump!