All Q'd Up

The 2010 Chicago Bears Will Be Entertaining To Watch

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Alex Quigley

Former rock DJ, currently a multipurpose Chicago media guy.

(This column originally ran in the Chicago RedEye August 31st, 2010.)

After watching three preseason games, I can confidently predict the Chicago Bears are going to surprise a lot of fans. The general consensus of doom and gloom is far too pessimistic for August. Come on, people, it's only the preseason! I think these Chicago Bears will give Chicago sports fans plenty to look forward to in 2010.

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The End of An Era For Cubs Fans

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Alex Quigley

Former rock DJ, currently a multipurpose Chicago media guy.

(This column appeared in yesterday's print edition of the Chicago RedEye.)

It's never good to be less than halfway through a baseball season and already know the year's a washout. Cubs fans haven't had to deal with this feeling since 2006, when Dusty rode off into the sunset after "leading" the team to a 13-game divisional hole by June 1st.

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At-Bat Music: The 7th-Worst Thing To Happen At Wrigley, Ever

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Alex Quigley

Former rock DJ, currently a multipurpose Chicago media guy.

When the Chicago Cubs began to use contemporary music snippets to punctuate the walk-up for at-bats, most Cubs fans reacted the same way.

"Wait...what?"

The first time I noticed it was during a nationally-televised MLB on FOX game against the White Sox. So for a day I thought the piped-in tunes were done simply for Fox and the national audience. Because we don't do that sort of thing at Wrigley, right?

Oh, yes. Now we do.

 

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This is a slippery slope, people.

But I wanted to withhold judgement on this decision until I went to a game in-person and experienced it for myself.

Holy fricking hell, it's terrible.

Only six worse things have happened within the Friendly Confines:

  1. The Game 6 collapse in the 2003 NLCS.
  2. The career of Corey Patterson.
  3. The total team efforts in Games 1 and 2 of the 2008 NLDS.
  4. Bruce Froemming's "ball" calls on Milt Pappas on what should've been out #27 in his perfect game bid in 1972.
  5. Lincoln Park resident Chad Donaldson, 25, totally was bummed out after they stopped serving brewskis a half-inning too early when all he wanted was one more beer, dude, on July 26th, 2007 against the Cardinals.  
  6. The College of Coaches.

 

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This dude didn't even make the Top 20.

Other than those, it's the worst thing to happen.

Let me pre-emptively clarify my position on modernizing Wrigley Field: it's okay to do it. The ads on the outfield walls and dugout roofs? I was okay with it. LED displays in the upper deck displaying pitch speeds and out-of-town scores? Sure, they add to the experience of watching and understanding the game. The Toyota sign? Honestly...not that big of a deal. For the most part, every single one of these modernizations either a) brought in more money for the club, or b) added to the fan experience at Wrigley.

I would even be okay with a Jumbotron at Wrigley, provided it was done in a way that didn't immediately make someone think they're looking at the work of the same genius that dropped a spaceship on Soldier Field.

 

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But blasting four or five seconds of a song through speakers cranked up to 11 does absolutely nothing for the fans. Do you totes loooove that song? Awesome...you get to hear it for about 16 seconds over the course of three hours. Are the Cubs making any money off this? Nope.

It makes Wrigley Field feel just like any other stadium in the league. Hey, let's fire off a flashpot and send out some cheerleaders! There's a momentary five-second pause in the action! Pay attention! Pay attention!

 

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Your new fourth-inning stretch entertainment!

I wonder why this change was so slyly slipped into the Cubs' gameday routine. Any other change made to the appearance of Wrigley has been discussed and rehashed aplenty before anything's ever done. But this was all of a sudden "there". Why the lack of advance discussion?

Because it's undeniably terrible. And although the online petition crowd hasn't made much progress yet, I suspect this will gain more steam as more fans make their way to the ballpark for their yearly pilgrimages to Clark & Addison.

So why did they do it? It's been reported that Derrek Lee had asked about it during spring training, and the players generally say they like it because it "pumps them up" for their at-bats. My response: the money you make and the desire to win ballgames, divisions, and championships should provide immeasurably more motivation to succeed than 4.6 seconds of Salt-N-Pepa's "Push It".

There is a certain throwback feel to watching a game at Wrigley Field. And as much as our visual cortices have been invaded over the past twenty years, the park still generally looks the same. Probably only 10% of the place looks different than it did in 1984. But this audio assault every single home at-bat makes you feel like you're at any other generic ballpark, like the Cell: not a bad park, but nothing distinctive about it. At all.

I want the next generation of Cubs fans to hear the same distinctive sounds of Wrigley that we heard as children. Ditch the Lady Gaga. Or let Gary Pressey give "Pokerface" a shot on the organ.

Otherwise you might as well build a kiddie stadium in the left field bleachers and shoot off fireworks after every home run.

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The One Time I Broke Into Wrigley Field

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Alex Quigley

Former rock DJ, currently a multipurpose Chicago media guy.

The story you're about to read is true. Certain names have been changed to protect the innocent, the not-so-innocent, and details I may have forgotten.

It was the first weekend of October 2005. The Cubs were slogging through their first under-.500 season since Dusty Baker took over. They were finishing on the road against the Astros in a meaningless-for-us-but-very-meaningful-to-them series. Houston had an important part later that postseason in Fate's grandest sports-related musical, "Screw You, Chicago Cubs", by allowing the White Sox to sweep them en route to their first championship in 88 years. This followed the 2004 Red Sox breaking their crazy-long title drought and the 2003 Cubs...well, we know.

 

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Lane won 3 times at the 2006 Tonys for his portrayal of "Pudge Rodriguez" in SYCC.

Much like the current Cubbie climate, it wasn't a great time to be a fan. You took pleasure in little things when you could.

I was working at a radio station in town at the time. I won't say the name of it, but for the sake of storytelling I'll just call it "Q101". Our station's main competition, "94.7 the Zone", had just flipped their musical format from "basically the same stuff Q101 plays, minus 3 or 4 bands plus Guns 'N Roses" to its current "true oldies" identity. For us at Q101, it meant good times, better ratings, and more revenue were all in the near future. (Side note: holy hell, were we wrong about that.)

So our program director decided to throw a party at his Wrigleyville home for the staff. It was a perfect fall Saturday night in Chicago...not too cold, a stiff breeze off the still-warm lake, drinking beers in red Solo cups from a keg on the patio, everyone smiling and more relaxed than we'd been in a long, long time.

 

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It's the Chicago Way.

As the party began to wane, a fellow DJ and friend of mine offered to let me spend the night over at his place. (Again, to protect the names of the not-so-innocent, let's call this co-worker "Mancow".) He lived on the opposite side of Wrigley, at Clark & Grace. So our stumbly, bumbly walk to his house took us westbound down Waveland Avenue around 1:00. With the Cubs out of town and the boys (and corresponding girls) of summer gone, there wasn't a soul to be seen.

The off-season rehab of the bleachers at Wrigley seemingly began the moment the Cubs lost the home finale on the 28th against the Pirates. Already virtually all of the concrete and brick was torn down, revealing the greenish-gray steel beam superstructure that held up all those bums all those years. The Cubs put up a high security fence all along the torn exterior, in most places about 10 feet high. Near the scoreboard, the fence was extended upward to about 20 feet. These two sections were directly fastened together at a point about 80 feet east of Kenmore.

Did you just have the same idea we did that night?

My co-worker said it first, probably because he was more drunk than I was. "Dude...let's jump it and climb up the steel!"

I offered about thirty seconds of resistance. Then I took off across Waveland from the north-side sidewalk, jumped straight for the still-sorta-wobbly junction between the 10- and 20-foot fence sections, and got my fingertips over the cold metal railing after a toehold or two in the rattling chain-link fence.

We were in.

Sort of. Although the "security" fence was cleared, we weren't yet inside the Friendly Confines. We had to spider-crab-walk our way up between the exposed steel girders, kinda like the way you could climb up to the top of a hallway when you were a kid by pressing hard against the walls with your feet and hands. (You didn't do that? Uh...I was weird.)

 

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Pictured: weirdness.

But once we did that...we were in.

Standing in the bleachers at night in complete darkness is indescribable. It's also unphotographable with a phone camera, because the high grandstands and lack of any internal lights make it once of the darkest places possible within Chicago's city limits. As we walked down a bleacher row to the left-field foul line, the echoing footfalls on the metal benches sounded as loud as muffled gunshots. We didn't care by that point. It was full-on kiddie mode for me and "Mancow". We reached the gray concrete of the left-field wall and walked down its slope to the field.

We were on, now.

The square bases were missing and a strange, deep trench followed the basepaths where white chalk would lay on gamedays. But home plate was still there, and you had better believe I went for it.

At full volume: "Now batting-atting, number forty-four-our-our, Alex-ex-ex Quigley-ley-ley-ley!" Ever the impatient imaginary slugger, I took a gargantuan hack at the first pitch Imaginary Randy Johnson hurled and sent it out. I'm pretty sure I fake-broke a fake-window on real Sheffield Avenue. I trotted the bases, for some reason did a 1988 Kirk Gibson fist pump between fake first and fake second, and slid into home for absolutely no reason. I was simultaneously 26, 16, and 6 years old at that moment.

While I was "hitting", my co-worker was running around the outfield grass. We switched it up and while he took his at-bat I ran straight to the yellow 400 in center field. I kissed the top of the center zero. (It had a very unexpected texture. Super slick. No, I did not use tongue. Breaking in to Wrigley: awesome. Frenching any part of Wrigley: not cool.)

 

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I tried to get her number, but it turned out that 400 was a fake number. That's fine...her friend 368 was cooler, anyway.

Then I decided to moon the imaginary crowd, because of the aforementioned drinking. Also, so I could honestly say I've mooned Wrigley Field to anyone who may ask me that question.

No one has. Yet.

Co-worker finished up his homer sequence and we started to think about our escape route. The big gate in right field was a completely open archway, so we elected to saunter through there and take a running jump over the security fence to be home-free and scot-free. We each grabbed five or so ivy leaves, each one bigger than my outstretched hand and greener than I could ever discern from TV. We got to the archway, and...

Flashlight in the eyes. "Good evening, fellas!" came from behind the beacon, in a lazy drawl that suggested he'd been watching us for a while.

The evening's emotions had run from relaxation to brief trepidation to jubilation to figuring out who I'm gonna dial with my one phone call.

I don't remember everything he said. I do remember "Mancow" trying to talk our way out of it, but since he was pretty drunk it seemed to be making our situation worse. I simply said, "Sir, we didn't take anything or hurt anyone. I promise we'll leave immediately and never come back."

Security Guard let us sweat for an eternal ten seconds and said, "Tell ya what. You show me how the hell you got in, I'll let you go. But you gotta give me the ivy."

Damn. I really wanted those leaves.

But a night in jail wasn't worth Wrigley Ivy, so we forked over the foliage. We walked around the corner of Sheffield and Waveland, showed the guard exactly where we did it, and he laughed. Then he walked us over to a locked gate, unlocked it, and told us to "go home, boys."

The first few steps westbound on Waveland were cautious, slow, and trembling. But by the time we had passed the fire station, our pace had picked up. And by the time we hit Clark, we were full-on sprinting, screaming, and jumping for joy.

We did it. We got caught. And we got out of it.

This co-worker was amongst the first people in the world to get Guitar Hero. Through our job we sometimes got access to games before their release date. I recall a complete and total jam-out to "More Than A Feeling". When I hear that song, I think of my Wrigley caper.

The Cubs hit bottom the following season, almost losing 100 games and Dusty bit the dust. But after that the team rebounded and gave fans the first back-to-back postseason trips since any of us were born. (And I'm pretty confident in the phrase "any of us". If you're 102 years old and reading this, please email me. You're getting a beer from me.)

So I got to thinking...maybe I need to do this again. Maybe it was the slide into home. Maybe it was the "400" kiss. Maybe it was my butt. But something needs to be done to reset the karma at Clark & Addison. And very clearly, the someone who must do it is me.

If you get a phone call in the wee hours of the morning this October, please pick up. I'll be at the 23rd District police station at Halsted & Addison...and I'll have ivy leaves in my pants.

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Thank You, Blackhawks: My Stanley Cup Debearding

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Alex Quigley

Former rock DJ, currently a multipurpose Chicago media guy.

What a night. What a game! What a great weekend (summer?) of celebrating to come. I love that Captain Serious is still out and about in the city as of this moment, shaking hands and signing autographs with seemingly anyone and everyone. I believe you're going to see a lot of that around Chicago over the next few months, plus some random Stanley Cup sightings in who-da-thunk-it locations. The hierarchy of the five major sports teams in town has definitely changed; I won't dare rank the five now, but it's safe to say the Blackhawks no longer occupy the cellar, nor will they for a long time.

But seriousness will be for our Captain and another blog entry. This...is my debearding.

Ah, the Beardmen. Somewhere around Day 39, when I realized that Survivor contestants go this long without shaving only if they've got a shot at a million bucks, I thought "Hey, this sorta itches."

I didn't stop thinking that until a couple minutes ago. But the ride was worth it. If you've still got a playoff beard on your face (or any other extraneous playoff hockey-related growth that I really don't want to know about), please use the following pics as a how-to guide to get rid of the fuzz without too much fuss.

(use the left-right arrows in the upper-right corner if slideshow isn't displaying properly)

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The Best Week In Blackhawks Fans' History?

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Alex Quigley

Former rock DJ, currently a multipurpose Chicago media guy.

(This column appeared in the Tuesday, June 8th print edition of the Chicago RedEye.)

 

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MLB & Instant Replay: Start It Tomorrow, Bud

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Alex Quigley

Former rock DJ, currently a multipurpose Chicago media guy.

What is it about the Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Finals that brings out the best in random MLB pitchers? For the second time in a week and third time this young season, a pitcher held a perfect game through 26 outs. And for the third time this season, the pitcher induced Out #27.

Except this third time, it didn't count.

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My Stanley Cup Beard Odyssey

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Alex Quigley

Former rock DJ, currently a multipurpose Chicago media guy.

The Blackhawks are in the Stanley Cup Finals. My playoff beard has officially reached "no-fly list" status. I'm psyched.

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The Blackhawks Hockey Bandwagon: Chicago's Most-Crowded Ride

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Alex Quigley

Former rock DJ, currently a multipurpose Chicago media guy.

(Note: this column appeared in today's Chicago RedEye.)

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My Blackhawks-Sharks Prediction

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Alex Quigley

Former rock DJ, currently a multipurpose Chicago media guy.

First off, I'd like to direct your ears to this excellent discussion with Mike Kiley and Tab Bamford alongside cohost Amy Guth and myself on WGN's ChicagoNow Radio. Two guys who know much more about hockey than me give their take on the Hawks' chances against San Jose.

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Start Watching The Blackhawks. NOW.

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Alex Quigley

Former rock DJ, currently a multipurpose Chicago media guy.

If you consider yourself a sports fan of any kind, you need to start watching the Hawks. Starting tonight.

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My "Blades of Steel"-aided Hawks-Canucks Prediction

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Alex Quigley

Former rock DJ, currently a multipurpose Chicago media guy.

It's gonna be one heck of a series. Blackhawks. Canucks. They hate each other. The hatred is going to be so personal that raw statistical breakdown predictions will be rendered useless. No, only one thing can accurately predict this Western Conference Semifinal result.

Blades of Steel.

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This Column Is Powered By BP, Delivered By FedEx, Sanitized By Lysol

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Alex Quigley

Former rock DJ, currently a multipurpose Chicago media guy.

Whoopee! The Crosstown Classic now has a trophy associated with it, along with a shiny new corporate sponsor. If there are only two words that could describe Chicago's rich and passionate baseball tradition, surely they are "British" and "Petroleum".

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The Li-Cub-ility Index

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Alex Quigley

Former rock DJ, currently a multipurpose Chicago media guy.

It's been a little while since I concocted a cockmamie formula to randomly rank athletes or sports teams. I apologize.

I am a Cub fan. Always have been. And for many of my adolescent and adult springs, I've firmly believed that the Cubs had at least an outside shot at winning the World Series...or at least make the postseason.

Perhaps it's due to the three consecutive seasons of high-expectations-followed-by-letdown, or perhaps it's because the Cubs are mostly just another year older...but I don't feel that way about them this spring.

But that's okay. It's brought a refreshing sense of calm to watching these early-season games. Instead of pulling my hair out every time the bullpen blows a lead, I just laugh and think "Meh, whaddaya gonna do?"

With this newfound sense of detachment, I've been able to look at the individual Cub players in a more even-handed perspective. Instead of "OMG, VOTE ALL OF THEM ONTO THE ALL-STAR TEAM 25 TIMES" - which I did online in 2008 - I'm watching these games and asking myself, "Do I even like these people?"

Hence, I developed the 2010 Li-Cub-ility Index. Some ground rules:

  • To be considered, a player must currently be on the 25-man active roster (unless he's Ted Lilly)
  • To be considered, a player must not be in his first year with the Cubs (with one exception)

The Li-Cub-ility Index has three components:

  1. Length of service: the old saying is that "familiarity breeds contempt", but that's 100% wrong in sports fandom. The longer a player has been wearing the laundry, the more associated he is with that team in the fanbase's collective mind. (Ten possible points.)
  2. Success on the field: the better a player performs, the more we like him. The more he sucks, the more we want to throw Old Style. (Ten possible points.)
  3. Intangibles: the little things - both on and off the field - that can make us think "he's just like one of us!" or "what a great dude!" or even "what an ass". (Five to negative five possible points.)

 

From least-likeable to most Li-Cub-le, here we go...

(use left/right arrows at upper left if slideshow isn't functioning properly)

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ChicagoNow Radio: April 17, 2010

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Alex Quigley

Former rock DJ, currently a multipurpose Chicago media guy.

Had a great time with some great guests on the big WGN Saturday morning. If you missed any or all of the show, get the podcasts right here. Thanks again to Matthew, Eliza, Jill, Stephen, Lauren, Mark, and Courtney!

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My Blackhawks Playoff Beard Odyssey

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Alex Quigley

Former rock DJ, currently a multipurpose Chicago media guy.

I've never participated in the hockey tradition of shaving abstinence during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. But this year, my playoff beard virginity will be taken with the help of two Chicago Blackhawks. Wait, that reads kinda awkward.

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The Best Sports Day of 2010 (So Far)

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Alex Quigley

Former rock DJ, currently a multipurpose Chicago media guy.

I woke up this morning covered in Cadbury Creme Egg foil wrappers. I could not remember if they were mine or my daughter's. So goes sucrose-induced post-Easter amnesia. But after I shook the sugary cobwebs, I remembered that today was Opening Day for our baseball teams. I put my feet on the floor and thought, "Tiger's press conference thing is today, too." Brushing my teeth: "Holy crap, Butler and Duke are tonight!"

I sat down with my morning banana-strawberry smoothie, picked up one of my morning newspapers, and saw that the Daily Herald's Mike Imrem basically wrote the exact column I was going to write. (And he did it better than I would've.)

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ChicagoNow Radio: April 3, 2010

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Alex Quigley

Former rock DJ, currently a multipurpose Chicago media guy.

Had a great time hosting ChicagoNow Radio on the big 'GN today. If you missed it and want to download the podcasts, get 'em right here.
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2010: Best. March Madness. Ever?

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Alex Quigley

Former rock DJ, currently a multipurpose Chicago media guy.

Through 61 games, it's a safe claim to make that this year's NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament ranks among the best since the expansion to 64 teams in 1985. But is the best of the modern era? Here are my picks for the best 11 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournaments since 1985...

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9 (Morally Ambiguous) Ways To Win Your Fantasy Baseball League

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Alex Quigley

Former rock DJ, currently a multipurpose Chicago media guy.

Lost in the Madness of the NCAAs is the dawn of another baseball season, and perhaps even further lost in the shuffle is your fantasy baseball league's draft.

Wait...HOLY CRAP YOUR DRAFT IS THIS WEEKEND!!!

Fret not and italicize not, my friend. I've got nine ways to ensure that you'll come out on top in your Dungeons & Drag...I mean, fantasy baseball league.

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The Quigley Plan For March Madness Expansion

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Alex Quigley

Former rock DJ, currently a multipurpose Chicago media guy.

It's pretty safe to say that this year's NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament has delivered one of the best weekends of action in recent memory. But lurking beneath the on-court action is the rumor that the field of 65 teams will be expanded to 96 teams. Some say "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". Some say "more games mean more action". I say 96 isn't enough.

I'm saying we go all the way to 1,024 teams.

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NCAA Brackets For Dummies

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Alex Quigley

Former rock DJ, currently a multipurpose Chicago media guy.

(An abridged version of this column appeared in Tuesday's Chicago RedEye.)

Some people call it the best sports weekend of the year. Some call it a blatant misuse of at-work resources. Some people call it Maurice. (No one calls it the third option.)

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ChicagoNow Radio Podcasts

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Alex Quigley

Former rock DJ, currently a multipurpose Chicago media guy.

Had a great time Saturday morning on WGN Radio 720. Thanks to Ben, Kristin, and Matt for the behind-the-scenes support, and for understanding my Ron Burgundy-like tendency to read whatever words are put in front of my face.

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Saturday, March 13: ChicagoNow Radio with Alex Quigley

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Alex Quigley

Former rock DJ, currently a multipurpose Chicago media guy.

I'll be stepping back into a familiar role Saturday morning from 9am to noon on WGN, where I'll be talking with six (or seven) of the best bloggers we've got on the ChicagoNow network.

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Red Wings Fans Hate America, One Tentacle At A Time

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Alex Quigley

Former rock DJ, currently a multipurpose Chicago media guy.

Perhaps you've read an article by a gentleman named Rob Otto. He writes for MLive.com, which totally should've been named MichiganNow.com. In his post Otto derides the decades-old tradition of cheering through "The Star-Spangled Banner" before Blackhawks games.

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My Very First Blackhawks Game

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Alex Quigley

Former rock DJ, currently a multipurpose Chicago media guy.

It's a special night for a young man. Or even a 31-year-old guy.

 

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Tecmo Super PSYCHED!

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Alex Quigley

Former rock DJ, currently a multipurpose Chicago media guy.

If you're between the ages of 12 and 45 and enjoy both American football and video games, then I'm pretty sure that you've at least heard of Tecmo Super Bowl. Heck, maybe you've played a few seasons. Maybe you've auto-simulated hundreds of seasons in an attempt to trick the in-game algorithm to attain a full roster of players you drafted with your buddies fantasy-league-style.

Wait, that one was probably just me.

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23 Great Moments in Sports Twitter History

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Alex Quigley

Former rock DJ, currently a multipurpose Chicago media guy.

One of the big stories surrounding spring training is Ozzie Guillen's introduction to Twitter. Personally, I don't think Ozzie's going to do anything super-crazy with his Twitter; as much as he likes to play crazy for the media, he's too smart to get himself into any real trouble. If anything, Lou Pinella would be the baseball manager in town that'd forget his tweets went out to the world. (@LouPinella damn this phone, what button makes bloody marys come out?)But the buzz got me to thinking...what if Twitter had always been around? What would've been tweeted when great moments in sports history happened?

(use the left/right arrows in the upper right corner if slideshow isn't working properly)

Gallery sneak peek (23 images):

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If this was an NBC Sports blog, you'd be reading it tomorrow

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Alex Quigley

Former rock DJ, currently a multipurpose Chicago media guy.

(This blog entry appeared in today's Chicago RedEye.)

It's the year 2010, yet Dick Ebersol and the people in charge of NBC Sports still think it's 1992.

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Curling: It's Alluring?

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Alex Quigley

Former rock DJ, currently a multipurpose Chicago media guy.

If you own a television and have it plugged into the wall, then I'm guessing you've at least glimpsed a bit of curling over the last few days. (You might have stopped on that channel as you surfed past because the ice looks like an old-school test pattern. Don't worry, nothing's wrong with that channel's broadcast...other than it's showing curling.)

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