Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Drake's New Athletic Director Deserves Every Chance To Prove She Can Manage Her Own Major-College Program, and I Hope She's a Success

In the nearly 47 years I've spent in these parts, Sandy Hatfield Clubb is the sixth athletic director Drake has had.

After observing and listening to her today at historic Old Main on the campus, I hope she does well and I believe she deserves every chance to prove she can run the Bulldogs' department in a class way.

There's no reason she can't do as good a job, or better, than the other five Drake athletic directors I've observed since 1959.

What's more, I'm somewhat surprised Drake was able to attract the senior associate director of athletics and the senior women's administrator at Pac-10 Conference university Arizona State to be its 16th athletic director.

So I'd say she deserves all the support we in Greater Des Moines can give her as she leads a department that has fallen far behind Iowa, Iowa State and Northern Iowa on the major-college athletic totem poll.

Jack McClelland was starting his second tour of duty at Drake when I came to town. He was the director at the start of the Maury John basketball coaching era -- and you sure couldn't knock him for that.

Then came Bob Karnes, who stayed until 1986. He let John [pictured on the right], the best coach ever to sit on a Drake bench in the school's 100 years of basketball, get away to Iowa State -- and that, my friends, was one of the biggest athletic mistakes the university let happen.

Curt Blake followed Karnes, and stayed until 1990. He's the guy who hired Tom Abatemarco. And Abatemarco was run off before his second basketball season was over. That's enough said about Blake.

Lynn King stayed as Drake's athletic director from 1990-2000, and he was a guy I liked. But his basketball coaches -- Rudy Washington and Kurt Kanaskie -- did him no favors.

Dave Blank left in April after six years as athletic director. He hired Tom Davis -- who had been the winningest coach at Iowa -- to run the Bulldogs' basketball program. Tom's son, Keno, has already been tapped as the next coach. Whether that's a wise decision remains to be seen.

So that brings me to Sandy Hatfield Clubb [top photo], 42, who has been in the athletic department at Arizona State, to run the Drake show.

Actually, Sandy -- the first woman to run a Division I men's and women's athletic department in this state -- doesn't officially move into her job until Aug. 1.

Any observing and interviewing I did at today's combination press conference/rally-around-Sandy-and-her-husband-Jeff-and-son-Tristan, 7-and-daughter-Skyelar, 4 was a sort of sneak preview.

"I can't wait to get started," she said.

In response to a reporter's comment about how Iowa and Iowa State dominate the Division I athletic scene in this state, Sandy said she welcomes the challenge the Hawkeyes and Cyclones provide.

"I love it," she said. "Coming from Arizona State, I know what Iowa and Iowa State are doing in athletics. Drake University is a special place for a student-athlete to be.

"I can't wait to take on Iowa and Iowa State....."

As part of her answer to my question about the challenges she faces at Drake, Sandy drew a laugh when she referred to her time in balmy Arizona, "I don't own a coat. So I'll be doing some shopping."

The lady faces some big challenges. So what else is new? Name an athletic director at any college or university in this country who doesn't face enormous challenges.

There are seats to be filled in basketball arenas and football stadiums. There is money -- oh, yes, lots of money -- to be raised. There are coaches to be kept happy. There are fans to be kept happy

At Drake, there is a horrible streak of 19 men's basketball seasons without a winning record.

The Davises are under contract to coach the team through 2011. The same with women's coach Amy Stephens.

Hatfield Clubb certainly wasn't critical of those moves -- calling them "great decisions" -- as she stood in front of the microphone today. After all, Drake president David Maxwell made the decisions, and he hired Sandy after her second visit to the campus.

Tom Davis has had three sub-.500 seasons, and Sandy was asked if she has any thoughts about how the program could move to among at least some of the best in the Missouri Valley Conference.

"First and foremost, Dr. Tom Davis is a phenomenal fit for Drake," she said. "He's a scholar and one of the top coaches in NCAA coaches. Building a program takes time. I love to win, and winning takes time.....One of the things we need to do is full up the stands."

Sandy lit up when I asked if she'd ever been to the Drake Relays.

"I'm dying to go to the Drake Relays!" she said. "Jeff [her husband] and I are very excited to see that beautiful stadium full, with all the activities happening that week."

Gene Smith, the former Iowa State athletic director who was one of Hatfield Clubb's bosses at Arizona State, said, "Sandy will be a great addition to the state of Iowa. Her values and commitment to students is unparalleled. She knows every aspect of athletic administgration and is well prepared to lead Drake athletics....."

Smith now is the athletic director at Ohio State.

Said Kevin White, athletic director at Notre Dame: "Sandy is clearly one of the bright, young superstars in athletics administration. She is smart, engaging, resourceful, courageous, tireless and, most importantly, she possesses unqualified integrity."

Although most others -- either those who are Drake fans or who aren't Drake fans -- are content with a wait-and-see attitude about Sandy, several people have already been negative about the university's hiring of her.

All are University of Iowa fans.

Barry Crist of West Des Des Moines said, "The demise of Drake continues. [Michael] Ferrari [a former Drake president] killed Drake when he dropped down from Division I to Division III football. The basketball coaching hires were bordering on lunacy. The worst was Tom Abatemarco [Chris Washburn's pen pal] over....BOB HUGGINS. Did they do any research at all? I guess it's safe to assume that Drake did not require a 200-word essay on why applicants would want the job as Abatemarco would have misspelled at least 25 of the words. Meanwhile, Huggy Bear is a lock for the No. 1 basketball recruiting class of 2007 at Kansas State.

"Then I believe it was Rudy Washington over Homer Drew.

"Could Huggy Bear have won at Drake in the '80s? Maury who?"

A man identified as "Keith in Keswick" said, "You can forget about Drake's basketball team ever going anywhere in the Mo Valley again. I hope the Drake Relays can survive this hire."

Said Al Schallau, an attorney and a Hawkeye fan who grew up in Iowa and now lives in California: "Ron, my response to Drake University's selection of its new athletic director is one that my late mother and father, and all of my brothers and sisters would never believe.

"I am going to stifle my opinions and keep quiet.

"Anything I would say would be politically incorrect to the 'nth' degree.

"Will I incur enormous wrath if I simply say that I would have hired someone else if the decision had been mine?"

Obviously, things are much different at Drake now than they were when someone like Ossie Solem [pictured on the upper left] was the university's athletic director from 1922-1932 and coached the Bulldogs in football from 1921-1931.

Indeed, Solem's teams played, and beat, such teams as Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa State, Mississippi, UCLA and Oklahoma A&M. Solem's squads also played Notre Dame regularly.

The non-scholarship football teams coached by Rob Ash under the management of Hatfield Clubb won't need to worry about teeing it up with Oklahoma or Notre Dame on Johnny Bright Field in revamped Drake Stadium.

They just need to try to attract more than a handful of fans into the arena.


1894-95 W.W. Wharton
1897 William J. Monilaw
1907 Doc Pell
1910-1918 John L. Griffith
1919-1921 M.B. Banks
1922-1932 Ossie Solem
1931-1940 E.O. Williams
1940-1946 V. J. Green
1946-1951 J. Russell Cook
1951-1956 Jack McClelland
1957-1959 Dolph Stanley
1959-1968 Jack McClelland
1968-1986 Bob Karnes
1986-1990 Curt Blake
1990-2000 Lynn King
2000-2006 Dave Blank

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Lou Gehrig's Disease Claims Borsellino At 56; Playing the 'Name Game,' Kilen, Fuson, Clark, Burns Could Step Into the Register's Columnist Lineup

He was a fighter right down to the end.

But, for Rob Borsellino, the end came at 10:15 p.m. Saturday.

Regardless of how hard Rob Borsellino or anyone else fights or fought, Lou Gehrig's disease always wins.

Borsellino, a well-known columnist for the Des Moines Register died at 56 in Taylor House Hospice.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis [ALS] is the official name of the awful disease that killed baseball player Lou Gehrig, and now a newspaper guy named Rob Borsellino.

Regardless of how anyone felt personally about Borsellino, it is a sad Memorial weekend for any of us who care about the news business in Des Moines.

I wrote about Borsellino often. Whenever I referred to him in one of my columns, I called him "my very good friend Rob Borsellino."

He wasn't perfect. Hell, who is? None of us.

I'd kid Borsellino about sometimes being loose with the facts -- like when he wrote about Bill Reichardt's death a few years ago.

Borsellino had spent some time with the cancer-ridden Reichardt in his final days. Reichardt was a personable Des Moines clothier who I interviewed extensively for my book, "Tales from the Iowa Sidelines."

In his football days at Iowa, Reichardt was a fullback who was named the most valuable player in the Big Ten Conference as a senior in 1951. Borsellino wrote in the paper that the Hawkeyes didn't win a game that year.

Actually, Leonard Raffensperger's '51 Hawkeyes won two games and tied two others in a 2-5-2 season. They beat Kansas State and Pittsburgh, and tied Minnesota and Notre Dame.

So they weren't as bad as Borsellino indicated to his readers.

But he made a mistake or two along the way because he probably tried to be in too many places at the same time, and never allowed himself to slow down. He was only human.

Borsellino and his wife, Rekha, also a Register columnist, had two tours of duty at the newspaper.

They tried living and writing in Florida for a while, but came back after friends of Borsellino and Basu urged Register publisher Mary Stier to rehire them.

Stier was hoping the addition of Borsellino [right] and Basu would help the Register recover some of its sagging circulation.

But that didn't happen.

Circulation continues to sink at the Register, just like it sinks at most other daily newspapers around the nation.

It will be interesting to see how Stier and others at the Register attempt to fill Borsellino's spot as a columnist.

One possibility certainly is Mike Kilen, who has been an outstanding feature writer at the Register for several years.

It was Kilen who wrote the front-page story of Borsellino's death in today's Register.

I hear he has shown an interest in column-writing in the past, and he would be my choice for the job.

Obviously, he had most of today's story written ahead of time.

God never tells families or people who put out newsspapers when someone is going to die.

It's never a good time for someone to die. Ten-fifteen on a Saturday night definitely isn't a good time for people editing a Sunday newspaper.

[Writing stories in advance is something that's done often in newspaper offices because of what happened in the Borsellino situation. Try finding a reporter who is available to work on a story at 10:15 p.m. on a Saturday when there's a death like Borsellino's.

[I still laugh about when Bob Bowlsby was named Iowa's athletic director 15 years ago. Several of us in the newspaper office had earlier been assigned to write profiles of finalists for the job.

[The name assigned to me was Gary Cunningham, who had been a basketball coach at UCLA. The story I wrote in advance on Cunningham would have been used had he taken the job, but he turned it down.

[My profile on ol' Gary is probably still hanging around somewhere in a musty old newspaper waiting area. It was a damn good story, too.]

Another potential replacement for Borsellino could be Ken Fuson [left], who already is writing a once-weekly humor column for the Register.

The rest of the time, Fuson writes feature stories -- and does very well at it.

Both Kilen and Fuson would give the newspaper a different sort of column than Borsellino has been writing.

Nothing wrong with that.

It would be a mistake for Kilen, Fuson or anyone else to try to write in the same style as Borsellino.

Some will say that the Register needs a woman to write a newsside column, but I see no female writer waiting in the newsside wings to replace Borsellino.

However, Register sports columnist Nancy Clark could be a longshot for the job. She writes well.

Jane Burns, a former Register sports and features writer now at the Capital Times in Madison, Wis. -- and is happy there -- might be another possibility. She'd be worth a look.

Basu's columns appear on the Register's editorial pages, and it's doubtful she would be moved to the news pages.

Her writing style is not well-liked by many readers. If she is going to be in the paper at all, the editorial pages are the place for her.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

On the Weekend When America Honors Its Dead, the Cubs' Dusty Baker Gets the Dreaded Vote Of Confidence From His Boss

Finally, something good happened today to the Chicago Cubs.

On the weekend when America historically honors its dead, manager Dusty Baker got a vote of confidence.

Naturally, that means ol’ Dusty will probably fired in the next two weeks.

General manager Jim Hendry, who is trying to end speculation that Baker’s job is in jeopardy, told Chicago reporters on this Memorial weekend that he’s sticking with the skipper.

“I’m hearing every time we lose a game that Dusty is going to get fired,” Hendry said before the Cubs lost their fifth straight game –- a 2-1 decision to the Atlanta Braves.

“Dusty is going to get every opportunity to manage the club and get us out of this hole, and he’ll get the opportunity to manage the cub when we get health the next couple of weeks.

"I’d like to put that speculation that every time we lose a ballgame [Baker will be fired] and we stop putting that for public discussion every single day.

Today’s loss dropped the Cubs’ record to 18-30, including 5-20 in the month of May. Told of what Hendry said about him after the loss, Baker said, “My track record, they know what I can do, and I know whatr I can do. As a unit right now, we’re just not getting it done…..”

Historically, votes of confidence from bosses aren't worth the time it takes for a general manager to say the words. They usually come back to haunt managers –- especially incompetent managers like Baker.

Baker's strength supposedly is being able to motivate players, but he hasn’t been able to motivate anything or anybody in the last couple of seasons.

Even the batboy seems dead on that team.

Strategy was never one of Baker's strengths, and he’s usually as mystified about Cub losses as are most of the players.

Waiting in the wings for a possible elevation to the manager’s job is Bob Brenly, who managed the Arizona Diamondbacks to the world championship a few years ago.

My personal choice to be the Cubs’ next manager, however, is Lou Piniella, who should be able to light a fire under the asses of an ailing [i.e., Derrek Lee, Kerry Wood, Mark Prior], underachieving team.

Hendry better not wait too long to make a change. If he does, his own job may be in jeopardy.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Maybe This Will Be the Year Iowa Isn't Out Of the National Football Championship Picture Before the Leaves Change Colors

Pete Fiutak of writes, "Someday, Iowa will have all the pieces put together on day one and then it'll really be time for the rest of the Big Ten to worry.

"Every year, some preseason publication declares that it's the year Kirk Ferentz's team will finally win an outright Big Ten title and become the type of superpower that causes other teams to tremble. Ohio State gets the blood boiling. The Michigan game always gets circled on the calendar. Penn State, even during the down days, was a big date that got everyone fired up. Iowa, even after four straight January bowl appearances, just barely gets the blood pressure up.

"And why is that?

"Maybe it's because the team is always out of the national title hunt before the the leaves change colors.

"It hasn't been just that Iowa always loses at least one early game to tumble out of the title race, it's that fans can cross off the Hawkeyes after crushing losses like the 23-3 gaffe to Iowa State last year and the 44-7 blasting by Arizona State in 2004. Worse yet, Iowa has lost its last three Big Ten openers. On the plus side, Ferentz and his staff has the team humming as the season goes on.

"While it's always important to get off to a hot start, it's more important to be good in November, and that's where Iowa has succeeded going 9-2 over the last four ears in the most crucial of months. This year's team has just enough holes to fill that it might continue to follow the pattern and have a few problems early on before rocking and rolling late.

"The offense will have few problems moving the ball with Drew Tate back to lead the attack for a third straight season and tailback Albert Young a burgeoning superstar running behind a talented, veteran line. The hole? The receiving corps. It's very fast and should be great by the end of the year, but it'll need time to develop.

"The defense has the same issues. The defensive line that was a concern last season will be one of the Big Ten's best this year, but the linebacking corps won't be nearly as good and will need a few games to get rolling. The safeties are excellent, but the corners are green. All the problems on both sides of the ball aren't that big a deal and will all be fine; it's just going to take a few games. By that time, Iowa could be out of the hunt yet again.

"So Iowa isn't going to win the national title. Would another January bowl game be so bad? With this schedule, it might be because ...

"The Schedule: It's almost all that any Big Ten team could reasonably ask for. It's light enough for Iowa to get that time to jell playing Montana, at Syracuse, Iowa State, and at Illinois before dealing with Ohio State in Iowa City. The Hawkeyes catch a huge break not having to play Penn State, and not facing Michigan State this season isn't a bad thing. If you believe that the battle for the Floyd of Rosedale trophy at Minnesota will be like an Iowa home game, then the only road game on the slate to worry about is at Michigan. Win that, and get by the Buckeyes at home, and an unbeaten season is very likely.

"Best Offensive Player: Senior QB Drew Tate. One of the Big Ten's toughest quarterbacks, Tate is also starting to grow into one of the smartest with improved accuracy and decision-making abilities. He might not always be the prettiest quarterback, but he always seems to find a way to get the job done.

"Best Defensive Player: Junior DE Ken Iwebema. He turned into a flash of a pass rusher last year and should be even more dangerous this season with the rest of the front four good enough to take the heat off. Fine, so offenses will gameplan to stop Iwebema. That means Bryan Mattison will make plays at the other end, or quick tackles Matt Kroul and Mitch King will fly up the middle.

"Key player to a successful season: Senior WR Calvin Davis. Herb Grigsby should be a reliable target on one side, and Scott Chandler will lead a strong group of tight ends, but it's Davis who has to shine at split end and become the consistent deep threat who opens things up for the rest of the offense.

"The season will be a success if ... Iowa wins 11 games and comes up with at least a share of the Big Ten title. The Hawkeyes will be favored in every conference game but two (at Michigan and home against Ohio State). If this really is a Big Ten championship-caliber team, it splits the the two nasty games and beats everyone else.

"Key game: Sept. 30 vs. Ohio State. It'll take an upset for Iowa to lose at home to Purdue, Northwestern or Wisconsin and on the road against Illinois, Indiana and Minnesota. A win in Kinnick Stadium over the Buckeyes would likely mean it's a one-game season (Oct. 21 at Michigan) for the title.

"2005 Fun Stats:

"- First quarter scoring: Iowa 119 - Opponents 37
"- Field goals in eight Big Ten games: Iowa 14 of 17 - Opponents 4 of 9
"- Time of possession: Opponents 32:27 - Iowa 27:33

"The Last Time Iowa…

"…played in a bowl game…2005 (Outback Bowl vs. Florida)
"…missed a bowl game…2000
"…pitched a shutout…2005 (Ball State)
"…was shutout…2000 (Illinois)
"…scored 50 points…2005 (Minnesota)
"…went undefeated…1922
"…won a conference title…2004 (share, Big Ten)
"…had a 3,000-yard passer…1988 (Chuck Hartlieb)
"…had a 1,000-yard rusher…2005 (Albert Young)
…had a 1,000-yard receiver…2000 (Kevin Kasper)
"…had a first-round draft choice…2006 (LB Chad Greenway)"

* * *

Head coach: Kirk Ferentz
8th year: 49-36
11th year overall: 49-36
Returning Lettermen: 45
Lettermen Lost: 25
10 Best Iowa Players

1. QB Drew Tate, Sr.
2. RB Albert Young, Jr.
3. DE Ken Iwebema, Jr.
4. DE Bryan Mattison, Jr.
5. LB Edmond Miles, Sr.
6. TE Scott Chandler, Sr.
7. DT Mitch King, Soph.
8. G Mike Jones, Sr.
9. PK Kyle Schlicher, Sr.
10. FS Marcus Paschal, Sr.


9/2 Montana
9/9 at Syracuse
9/16 Iowa State
9/23 at Illinois
9/30 Ohio State
10/7 Purdue
10/14 at Indiana
10/21 at Michigan
10/28 Northern Illinois
11/4 Northwestern
11/11 Wisconsin
11/18 at Minnesota

CFN Prediction: 9-2
2005 Record: 7-5

9/3 Ball State W 56-0
9/10 at Iowa State L 23-3
9/17 Northern Iowa W 45-21
9/24 at Ohio State L 31-6
10/1 Illinois W 35-7
10/8 at Purdue W 34-17
10/15 Indiana W 38-21
10/22 Michigan L 23-20 OT
11/5 at Northwestern L 28-27
11/12 at Wisconsin W 20-10
11/19 Minnesota W 52-28
1/2 Outback Bowl
Florida L 31-24

* * *

Mark Robinson writes:

"Nice story about your early days in Cedar Rapids.

"I'm not sure if I told you, but my father taught at McKinley in 1957 and '58. I think my brother was born right across the street. At least, I think that is where St. Luke's Hospital is. My memory is failing as well.

"Before that, dad taught at that pre-historic monument known as Ottumwa High (where I was born, not at the high school, but at what was then known as St. Joseph's)). Before that, his first job was at Clarinda High in 1951. Moved back to his and mom's hometown of Marshalltown in '59.

"In Cedar Rapids, we lived in the shadow of Regis High School. If I walked out the front door, on the left was the football field and the high school was straight up the hill. Can't recall the address, but I'm sure you'll know. Five years ago, I revisited the neighborhood and it is remarkable how much I recall from my time as a 3- and 4-year-old.

"Thanks for listening."


[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: Thanks for writing, Mark. Although you now live in California, you recall quite a bit about Iowa. It's Mercy Hospital that's across the street from McKinley in southeast Cedar Rapids. St. Luke's is on the northeast side of town, but your memory is certainly better than mine. Heck, I'll bet you even know who Mike Gartner is, and I know you haven't forgotten Sec Taylor Stadium a.k.a No-Name Ballpark].

* * *

More from Mark Robinson:

"Hi, Ron;

"Baseball trivia created [this week].

"St. Louis Cardinals pitchers did something against San Francisco that may go down in the record books, but I don't know if they have a category for it.

"The Cards beat the hell out of the Giants with a bullpen lineup of pitchers because Cy Young Award winner Chris Carpenter is sidelined, at least for this game, with a festering elbow problem.

"Here's what transpired:

"LaRussa pinch-hit Jason Marquis, a starting pitcher and a very good hitter, who responded by hitting a triple. Later on, relief pitcher Looper hit a double.

"From the category of those statistics that are stranger than fiction is that reliever Wainwright hit a home run. He hit the home run on his first at bat in the major leagues. Not only that, he hit it out of the park on the very first pitch.

"I've never seen anything like it.

"Keep writing, Ron."


[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: The Cardinals do things like that, Mark, in a season when the Chicago Cubs and Dusty Baker, their horrible manager, keep shooting themselves not only in the foot, but the legs, the groin, the abdomen, the chest and the head. Good things happen to good teams and good managers. That's why the Cubs lost another one in the ninth inning today].

Thursday, May 25, 2006

I Can't Blame Chet Culver Because His Dad, John, Was An Athlete At Franklin. But, Truthfully, We At Wilson Hated Those Thunderbolts From the Eastside

Consider this a change in direction.

I'm going to veer off today to politics, which is very similar to a couple of other things I sometimes write about -- sports and journalism.

Among the reasons politics, sports and journalism have a lot in common is that all three have plenty of bullshitters and phonies.

Severe memory problems prevent me from recalling all of the folks in one or some of those three areas, but I do remember a few of the participants.

One is John Culver [left] -- the father of Chet Culver [right], a man who wants to become Iowa's next governor.

Let me say right now that I have no reason to believe that either John or Chet is a bullshitter or a phony.

If you can believe the polls -- and, most of the time, I don't -- Chet is going to win the race to be governor.

I have nothing against the guy, and I have nothing against his dad, either.

Not anymore.

But I do know that I didn't like the guy -- John, I mean -- when I was a kid.

You see, John attended Franklin High School in Cedar Rapids, and I attended Wilson High School.

That was enough right there to cause me to dislike him.

The architecture of Franklin and Wilson, as well as the gyms where the teams played basketball, was much the same.

Roosevelt and McKinley, the other public high schools in Cedar Rapids at the time, were also architectually similar.

But back to John Culver and Franklin.

We at Wilson didn't hide our emotions about Franklin.

We hated those bastards with a passion over there on the eastside.

We were the Ramblers from the southwest side, they were the Thunderbolts.

I never saw a Thunderbolt I liked.

We [or at least most of us] were the Bohemies [actually, kids of Czech descent] who went to Sykora's Bakery to buy kolaches and Pohlena's to buy jaternice.

[NOTE: This is Ron Maly's editor butting in. For the benefit of the non-Bohemies who are reading this, I told Ron he should explain what jaternice is. He said he's going to coffee and told me to do it -- explain what jaternice is, I mean. Anyway, jaternice is a sausage-like food generally made from pork snout and pork jowls, ground and mixed with cereal and spices. It's still popular in Czech and other ethnic homes in Cedar Rapids and elsewhere. Neither John nor Chet Culver would probably know the difference between a jaternice and a jalapeno. But that's just me talking. By the way, at the top of his column, Ron has a photo posted of the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library at 30 16th Avenue SW in Cedar Rapids. Anything and everything you want to know about the Bohemies will be there. Now back to Ron's column.....]

Our dads wore their undershirts when they went into what were called the "beer joints" on 16th Avenue.

I didn't check, but I'll bet the dads of the Franklin kids wore real shirts -- maybe even shirts that were ironed -- when they went into the Me-Too Grocery Store or a place where you could buy a cold one in a glass.

There was no school Wilson wanted to beat more in any sport than Franklin,

They had the money, we didn't.

Our dads worked at Penick & Ford or Link-Belt Speeder, if they worked at all.

Their dads worked at the bank and loaned us money.

That immediately gave us enough incentive to beat them.

Bill Barnard never let his Wilson football players forget that. I recall Barnard, who had been Wilson's coach forever and who had a speech impediment, reminding a big lineman who had a Czech name of that late in a Wilson-Franklin game at Hill Park -- where the Cedar Rapids schools used to play.

Barnard stared at the big lineman who had a Czech name and said, "This is the last chance you're ever going to get to beat these guys!" Barnard screamed.

The big lineman with the Czech name listened intently because you always listened to Barnard. Wilson went on to win the game, and made life much easier on the southwest side for the Bohemies for another year.

The kolaches from Sykora's tasted a hell of a lot better the next morning, too.

John Culver is about three years older than me, and I remember when he played football for Franklin.

Nobody from Wilson liked him -- probably because he was a good player.

Listen, we didn't like Jack Elgin, either. Elgin played baseball, and probably football, too, for Franklin. He later went on to coach football at Valley in West Des Moines.

I liked Elgin a lot better then, even though there were many people from West Des Moines who didn't.

It didn't help the Wilson-kids-hate-Franklin-kids feeling when Barnard suddenly resigned as Wilson's coach to take the job at Franklin.

I never forgave the guy they called "Barney" for that.

I still don't, even though Barnard has been dead for many years and Wilson and Franklin are now elementary and junior high schools.

But back to John Culver.

He made something of himself, as did many Franklin graduates [as did many Wilson graduates].

Culver was a friend of the Kennedy family and was a legislative assistant to Edward Kennedy in 1963, but we'll forgive him for that.

Culver graduated from Harvard University as well as Harvard Law School.

He was a Marine captain from 1955-1958, and began practicing law in Cedar Rapids in 1963. He soon entered politics. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in Iowa as a Democrat in 1964. He served in the House from 1965 until 1975.

In 1974, Culver was elected to the U.S. Senate, winning the seat left open by the retirement of Harold Hughes. Culver served one term 1975-1981], then Culver was defeated in a bid for re-election by Republican Chuck Grassley in 1980.

I hope your health is all right, John.

And I hope your kid Chet does well in that race he's in.

Time heals a lot of things.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

'Cardinal Fan Close to Czechtown' Urges Cub Fans To Stay Away from Wrigley Field. Newspaper Readers Find Out That Pole Dancing Is 'Sexy amd Slimming'

"Cardinal Fan Living Close To Czechtown" -- not his real name -- agrees with me that it's a bad thing for the Tribune Co. to own the Chicago Cubs.

Here's his e-mail:


"This is what happens when a ballclub and newspaper are owned by the same company. The Cubs are a sad franchise. Sometimes I think the only way to correct their miseries is for the fans to stay away from Wrigley Field. As long as they keep filling Wrigley the Cubs can play like shit and get away with it. Hell, they can't even beat the inept Marlins . . ."

Cardinal Fan Living Close To Czechtown

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: I wrote yesterday that the Chicago Sun-Times carried a column item about Cub executives Andy MacPhail and Jim Hendry giving Chicago Tribune sportswriters Dan McGrath and Paul Sullivan a "profanity-laced tongue-lashing" because they had written negatively about what has become a horrible Cubs team. The Cubs are owned by the Tribune Co., but for MacPhail and Hendry to expect favorable stories out of McGrath and Sullivan is asinine -- especially when they have to deal with an idiot like Dusty Baker].

* * *

Speaking of the Cubs, it's good to know that they showed enough interest in Tim Gudex, a University of Iowa relief pitcher, to sign him to a free agent contract.

The fact that Gudex, a 6-foot, 170-pounder [pictured signing his Cubs contract], played for a Hawkeye team with records of 23-33 overall and 12-20 in the Big Ten makes it even a more unusual [should I call it stupid?] signing.

Of the signing, the Iowa City Press-Citizen wrote:

"A major league baseball rule allows fifth-year seniors to sign with professional teams prior to the June 6-7 draft. Though his statistics had been sparkling throughout the past season, Gudex was uncertain of his place in the draft. He said he heard his chances of getting drafted were iffy and there was no guarantee he would have free-agent opportunities, so Gudex jumped at the chance with the Cubs.

"'They gave me a great opportunity, gave me something I couldn't hold out on," said Gudex, who declined to specify how lucrative of a deal he received. 'I didn't really want to get caught with my pants down. I figured this was a good opportunity and I better take it.'"

Poor choice of words by Gudex, if you ask me.

It just so happens that the University of Iowa has started what the Press-Citizen called "an investigation after receiving a photograph that shows possible 'inappropriate activity' by Hawkeyhe baseball players.

"Two pictures from the website were the Iowa City Press-Citizen. The photos showed some college-age men standing naked with hats over their genitals....."

[RON MALY'S COMMENT: Now that's really getting caught with your pants down].

* * *

Jane Norman's story on the front page of the Metro & Iowa section of today's Des Moines Register got my attention.

Nor because of the subject matter.

Not because it was written with any style.

But because Norman [upper right] wrote it and Senator Tom Harkin [upper left] was pictured.

I recalled that Bud Appleby sent me a note last December after another Norman story about Harkin was in the paper.

In his e-mail to me then, Appleby wrote:

"Here's a note I got from someone at the Register:

"'You mean you didn't know that the Washington Bureau's primary duty is to be Harkin's personal flack? It has been that way for years. Especially Jane Norman. Every time Harkin takes a shit, Norman is there to record the color.'"

* * *

I don't read much of what's in "Mid-Iowa mind & body" -- a supplement in the Register -- but I noticed a headline on today's cover.

It said, "Pole dancing.....Sexy and slimming."

Well, it's a lot more body and a lot less mind.

Call something "sexy" and editors think that'll get a lot of attention.

But pole dancing?

Come on!

I thought pole dancing was something TV viewers see only at 2 a.m. on cable TV.

Being done by strippers.

Then, the well-put-together girls move to lap dancing after the pole dancing.

So now you're telling me that pole dancing [pictured] is moving to the corner gym, and being performed by 45-year-old housewives?

As I say about a lot of things these days, "You gotta be kidding!"

* * *

Drake senior forward Ajay Calvin has been selected to play on a 10-member Athletes In Action team which will play six games against professional teams in France Aug. 10-15.

Calvin is the Bulldogs' top returning scorer from last year's squad after averaging 10.2 points. He led the team with a 5.3 rebounding average.

"Our staff is excited for Ajay," said Drake coach Tom Davis. "His upcoming trip with Athletes in Action is a great opportunity for him. The experience of traveling abroad, playing with players from other collegiate programs and against the competition that he will face in France will prove to be invaluable.

"Ajay Calvin has the potential to be a terrific player. His quickness and overall athleticism are very good and his shooting touch gives him good offensive capability. He will be considered among the best frontline players in the Missouri Valley Conference this year."

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

It's Tough To Find Anything Good About a Rotten Baseball Team -- Cubs' Brass Gives Tribune Writers An 'Expletive-Laced Tongue-Lashing'

Michael Barrett's right-cross-to-the-chops-of-A.J.-Pierzynski isn't the only interesting baseball story in Chicago these days.

Another has to do with the verbal punching that a couple of Chicago Tribune writers took from executives Andy MacPhail and Jim Hendry of the Cubs.

Naturally, the incident was reported by someone from a rival newspaper.

Michael Sneed of the Sun-Times wrote that MacPhail and Hendry "berated Chicago Tribune sports editor Dan McGrath and Cubs beat writer Paul Sullivan over what they felt was the paper's unfairly critical coverage of the team. The expletive-laced tongue-lashing supposedly took place at Wrigley Field."

This has already turned into a lousy season for the Cubs, of course. The only thing holding them out of last place in the Central Division of the National League standings is a woeful Pittsburgh team -- which might be even worse than my grandson's Little League squad.

In Dusty Baker, the Cubs have a lousy manager who hopes to get a contract extension--but should be fired.

Baker has an awful team playing in a ballpark that has seen plenty of awful teams for nearly a century.

Part of the problem with the MacPhail-and-Hendry-blast-McGrath-and-Sullivan saga is that The Tribune Co. owns the Cubs.

I don't think a newspaper should own a baseball team, a basketball team, a football team or any other kind of team.

But because the Tribune owns the Cubs, the baseball team's brass wrongly thinks the sportswriters should write favorable things about the team.

Things are especially tough on the sports editor and the reporter who covers the team regularly. He or she constantly hears stuff like, "You're a 'houseman' or 'housewoman' because you work for the paper that owns the team."

Actually, there are some people who think the writer covering a team should author only favorable things about it, even when the paper doesn't own the ballclub.

Try to tell the truth and you're lambasted daily by fans, managers, coaches batboys--and occasionally even by other sportswriters, who are fans in disguise.

More than once I was told, "I thought you were with us" after I had authored something negative about a particular team in my earlier writing life.

I feel especially sorry for Sullivan, who is going to have to cover the horrible Cubs the rest of this miserable season.

If you ask me, he'll probably be ready to ask for a shift to the farm department in October.

* * *

On another matter, I got a laugh out of the Cubs-White Sox telecast the other day on WGN-TV.

During a break in the action, outspoken Sox broadcaster Ken "Hawk" Harrelson said something like, "Before we get too far along, I want to mention something that's been on my mind.

"I want to say that Jay Mariotti of the Sun-Times is a hineybird.

"And if you don't know what a hineybird is, I'll tell you. It's a bird that flies around in a circle endlessly until it finally flies up its own [asshole]. Then it's never seen or heard from again.

"I say that because Mariotti knows absolutely nothing about the game of baseball....."

Harrelson [wearing the Sox cap] and Mariotti [not wearing the Sox cap] have been carrying on a feud for years, and this was the latest verbal punch thrown.

When Harrelson finished attacking Mariotti, fellow announcer Darrin Jackson said, "I didn't read [what Mariotti wrote]."

Mariotti evidently isn't the only guy who thinks Harrelson, a former major league outfielder/first baseman, has some shortcomings.

There's a website on the Internet called "Heave the Hawk" that's trying to get Harrelson fired by the Sox.

The site says Harrelson uses "non-standard English and egomanical blather [which have] made the mute button a must for Sox TV."

Jackson also gets ripped on the site.

There's a segment that says, "DeeJay, you suck, too."

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Even Though Plenty Of Iowa Basketball Fans Haven't Warmed Up To Alford, They Might As Well Get Used To Him -- He Signs a Contract Extension

Memo to basketball fans at the University of Iowa:

You're going to have Steve Alford around as your basketball coach a while longer -- whether you want him or not.

At least Alford [right] is under contract to be around a while longer.

An impeccable source tells me he has signed a one-year extension, which will put him under contract long enough to coach the incoming recruiting class.

Signing Alford to the extension was one of the last major administrative moves outgoing Iowa athletic director Bob Bowlsby is expected to make.

Bowlsby, who is headed to Stanford as athletic director, has been a big booster of Alford.

Although Alford's Hawkeyes had a 25-9 record and won the Big Ten Conference tournament championship in the 2005-2006 season, he still hasn't completely warmed the hearts of many Hawkeye fans.

The fact that he seemed very much interested in becoming Indiana's new coach added to the fans' frustation this past season.

Alford was the former "golden boy" of Hoosier basketball in the Bobby Knight days.

But, in what was considered a harsh slap in the face, Indiana didn't even interview Alford after Mike Davis resigned as its coach.

Instead, the job went to Kelvin Sampson of Oklahoma, who had a tainted past.

Alford's contract at Iowa has paid him $800,000 per season plus incentives. He has wanted an extension because the old contract would expire before incoming recruits would use up their eligibility.

* * *

Careful reader Mark Robinson sent this e-mail:

"'In 'The Hot Corner' portion of the local paper this morning online was this morsel:

"Hawkeye basketball ticket prices rise

"For the second straight season, Iowa basketball fans will be paying less for season tickets.

"After paying $406 in 2004-05 and $387 in 05-06, season-ticket holders will be charged $300 next season. Student tickets will again be $5 per game.

"The Hawkeyes finished 25-9 last season, and averaged 12,006 fans in 17 games at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, which holds 15,500.'

"Thought you might enjoy it."

Mark Robinson

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: I guess it was a tough day and night in the ol' "Hot Corner," Mark. But the Register did get it right in the print edition on a story that was originally in the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Above the item about the drop in ticket prices, it said, "Check It Out." No mention of a price rise.]

* * *

I don't think Ivan Maisel of knows any more about a top 25 college football rating -- early-summer version -- than the rest of us, but I'll give him some props today.

I'm using Maisel's top 25 primarily because he's picking Iowa No. 10.

His story:

Can Texas repeat without Vince Young? Will Ohio State find the answers on defense? Is West Virginia really a contender? Are Notre Dame and Oklahoma among the challengers? Spring practices provided some answers to those questions, so it's time to take an early look at the top 25 for 2006.


1. Ohio State Buckeyes

OK, so only two defensive starters return. When did Jim Tressel not have a defense? And my, oh, my, that offense.

2. Oklahoma Sooners

You've got to be pretty good to go 8-4 while rebuilding. Quarterback Rhett Bomar comes into his own as a sophomore, and junior tailback Adrian Peterson is healthy.

3. West Virginia Mountaineers

If you think the Mountaineers peaked in the Sugar Bowl, then you'll dismiss them. But they've shown what they can do. West Virginia's biggest obstacle is ego expansion.

4. Texas Longhorns

If they had a QB returning from winning a national championship, they'd definitely be No. 1. If they had a QB who had ever taken a snap, maybe.

5. Florida State Seminoles

There's more returning on defense than the loss of seven starters suggests. This is Bobby Bowden's best team since Chris Weinke -- and Mark Richt -- left.

6. USC Trojans

If John David Booty is healthy, move them up. If he can't play, and Mark Sanchez remains suspended, move them down.

7. California Golden Bears

Marshawn Lynch should be in the same Heisman breath as Peterson. The defense is experienced. If Nate Longshore stays healthy

8. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

BQ squared. On offense, Brady Quinn is the answer. On defense, the Big Question is stopping the pass. The defense will improve, but not in time to get through every one of the first five games.

9. Auburn Tigers

I like this team. There's a lot of experience on both sides of the ball and a favorable schedule. But the SEC has too much depth to expect a BCS championship game contender.

10. Iowa Hawkeyes

Drew Tate [left] is the best quarterback you're not paying attention to, and the Hawkeyes played better last year than their 7-5 record would indicate.

11. Clemson Tigers

Sophomore tailback James Davis is a star ready to shine. Quarterback Charlie Whitehurst and his 40 starts are gone, but backup Will Proctor is ready to lead.

12. Florida Gators

Higher than I expected, because there's more coming back than I realized. But Chris Leak looks like a spotted tiger in this offense, and no running back has stepped up.

13. LSU Tigers

Lower than I expected, because both lines have to be rebuilt, and because of road games at Auburn, Florida and Tennessee. There's sure a lot of talent on offense, though.

14. Oregon Ducks

The Ducks have plenty to sink their beaks into: road games at Fresno State, Cal and USC. OU comes to Autzen Stadium, which has replaced Husky Stadium as the toughest venue in the Pac-10.

15. Nebraska Cornhuskers

The Huskers were my dark horse last year, and I was nine games early. Zac Taylor found his stroke late in the season. Nebraska can't let what happens at USC, good or bad, dictate the rest of the season.

16. Michigan Wolverines

The Wolverines are my dark horse this season. That's right. This team wasn't all that good last year. But RB Mike Hart is healthy, and I think new coordinator Ron English will fix what ailed the defense.

17. Louisville Cardinals

The Cardinals and West Virginia have reversed roles. It's WVU's turn to deal with expectations. I'd rank the Cardinals higher if I knew for sure that quarterback Brian Brohm will have recovered from knee surgery.

18. Miami Hurricanes

Too low? Shoot, this is a leap of faith. To be honest, I expect this to be a transition year into a new offense with a new offensive coaching staff.

19. TCU Horned Frogs

If the Frogs had more than one returning offensive lineman, they would be in the top 10. All the other pieces are there, and early games against Baylor and Texas Tech will provide schedule cred.

20. Boston College Eagles

A good nucleus of experience, led by the offensive line (74 returning starts) and LB Brian Toal on defense. Strange scheduling: Eagles close at Miami, which means they could play the Canes again nine days later in the ACC title game.

21. Penn State Nittany Lions

The Nittany Lions will fall off from 11-1, but there's still a lot of skill on offense, and there's still Puz to anchor a young defense. Penn State fans need to be patient with quarterback Anthony Morelli.

22. Georgia Bulldogs

The SEC East is as tough as ever, and the Bulldogs have less coming back than the rest of the Top 25. Can Joe Tereshinski III run the offense well enough early enough?

23. UTEP Miners

Quarterback Jordan Palmer has the eye of NFL scouts and the defense returns almost intact (which may be a good thing). Texas Tech comes to El Paso early, which could boost UTEP into a higher ranking. Four road games in five weeks will be rough.

24. Virginia Tech Hokies

The Hokies lost almost as much (12 starters) as Georgia, and Frank Beamer has four new coaches. But with this schedule, the Hokies could be mediocre and go 8-4.

25. Texas Tech Red Raiders

Hold on to your Stetson: The Red Raiders won't have a fifth-year senior at quarterback. Graham Harrell is only a sophomore, but he's got the arm, the brains and a veteran cast around him.

I'm Trying To Take My Saturday Afternoon Nap, But a Fight Breaks Out In the Sox-Cubs Game On TV and Wakes Me Up. But the Cubs Still Doze

I'm about to fall asleep watching TV this afternoon while the Cubs are playing the White Sox.

All of a sudden, A. J. Pierzynski -- that loudmouth bad guy from the Sox -- barrels into Michael Barrett of the Cubs at home plate.

Gee, you'd think those two guys would be nice to each other. They're both catchers.

And catchers with strong opinions.

Right after Pierzynski knocks Barrett over, Barrett gets up, grabs A. J. and throws a punch at him.

Pretty good punch, too. At least for a baseball player.

A right cross [pictured above] that would've been a 2 by Rocky Marciano [left] on a scale of 1 to 10.

Of course, Rocky Marciano has been dead a long time.

Then all hell breaks loose. The Sox and Cubs are fighting all over the field. Four players -- two from each team -- are thrown out of the game.

One is John Mabry, the Cubs' first baseman. I didn't know he ever got excited about anything -- certainly not a fight in a Sox-Cubs game.

The fight woke me up, and I thought it might wake up the Cubs -- who have been sleeping most of the season


The Cubs still aren't awake. Tadahio Iguchi [aren't you proud of me for being able to spell that name?] hits a grand-slam home run [that's a homer with the bases loaded for all you soccer fans] to put the Sox ahead, 5-0.

The Sox end up winning, 7-0, and the Cubs might as well call it a season. They could fire manager Dusty Baker and it wouldn't make any difference. Aramis Ramirez would still be there, and he's been asleep for three weeks.

Kevin Kennedy, who was a flop as a big league manager, said after the game on Fox-TV that he thinks Barrett will get suspended for 10 games.

Fine with me. The Cubs are dead anyway.

* * *

All of America has now been warned.

Keep your e-mail messages to yourself in the workplace.

Steve Shanks didn't do that, and now he's ready to start filling out job applications.

Shanks was, in effect, fired because an e-mail he thought he was sending to his brother wound up in the hands of a coach he had fired at Dowling High School in West Des Moines.

Shanks was in his first year as athletic director at Dowling.

At 43, Shanks should have been a computer-savvy guy. He grew up in the computer age, and should be aware of all the pitfalls of personal e-mail that is sent from work.

When it was learned by Shanks' bosses at Dowling, it was evident he had to go.

In three e-mail messages, Shanks said he was "done with religion," complained about a 1-hour 40-minute Mass at a Catholic church and mentioned an "Italian mafioso priest."

Not good.

Not good for the athletic director at Dowling -- a Catholic school in West Des Moines with a long and storied tradition -- to say he was "done with religion."

Not good for Shanks to talk negatively about a Mass.

Not good for him to put down Italians, a nationality that is weaved strongly throughout Des Moines and its suburbs.

The lesson in this unbelievably weird matter is that a person should always put his or her mouth where his or her e-mail is.

Don't put anything in an e-mail you wouldn't want to go public because far too often e-mails do go public.

Shanks should have waited until he went home to send the e-mails to his brother.

Better yet, he should have called his brother from home.

Or driven to his brother's home if it was so important to talk with him.

* * *

When former Drake athletic director Dave Blank was introduced a while back as the new athletic boss at Elon University in North Carolina, he proudly donned an Elon baseball cap.

He may have second thoughts about that now.

Members of the Elon team were disciplined after photos surfaced that showed players drinking and wearing women's underwear and blindfolds at a team party.

"We consider this a serious violation of our athletics codes of conduct and are outraged at this unacceptable behavior," outgoing athletic director Alan White said.

The photos were discovered in November and the issue was addressed then, the school said. White said the photos were posted on an Internet site. Baseball coach Mike Kennedy had the photos removed from the website and took disciplinary action against all involved team members who had violated athletics conduct policies as part of the party, White said.

The pictures have since showed up on another website.

White's statement did not say what action was taken against the players.

"I will be working with Blank and provost Gerald Francis to review the university's response to this incident and determine if future action is necessary," White added.

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: It's one headache after another for Blank. He goes from watching a Drake men's basketball program that hasn't had a winning record for 19 seasons to an Elon baseball squad that wears women's underwear. What's this world coming to?]

* * *

Meanwhile, the University of Iowa has started an investigation after receiving a photograph that shows possible "inappropriate activity" by Hawkeyhe baseball players.

Two pictures from the website were e-mailed Wednesday to the Iowa City Press-Citizen. The photos showed some college-age men standing naked with hats over their genitals. The men appeared to be in an apartment.

University general counsel Marcus Mills said the athletic department is conducting an investigation. University officials "have identified at least one of them as a baseball player," he said.

Mills would not name the identified player.

The Press-Citizen e-mailed one of the photos to Iowa sports nformation department baseball contact Tony Wirt on Thursday to see if the men in the picture could be identified as baseball players, as the photo caption suggested. Some of the players in the photograph have their heads tilted backward and one had a baseball hat on, making them difficult to identify.

"I didn't recognize any of them," Wirt said, noting that there are a number of redshirt freshman players he does not know well.

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: I'd say the Hawkeye baseball team has been behaving inappropriately all season. A 2-1 loss Friday at Michigan lowered Iowa's records to 23-30 overall and 12-17 in the Big Ten. Now that the players are taking their clothes off for photographs, I guess it's time for the yet-to-be named incoming athletic director to cancel the baseball program].

* * *

Maybe you remember Danny Almonte.

Almonte, 19, famous for playing in Little League while ineligible because of his age, now has 30-year-old wife.

Almonte is really grown-up now -- he's secretly married to a 30-year-old woman, said the Daily News.

[Almonte and his wife are pictured above].

Almonte, who hasn't even graduated from high school yet, reluctantly confirmed that he tied the knot with cradle-robbing Rosy Perdomo months ago.

"She's special," Almonte told the Daily News with a shy smile near the Bronx apartment he shares with Perdomo. "My family is happy for me."

The strapping young man wouldn't say much more about his bride, a former baseball league official who now works as a hairstylist in lower Manhattan.

"I don't want to talk about my personal life," he said politely, moments after he burst out of a barbershop when the question of his marriage came up.

But Perdomo told the paper she and Danny tied the knot at City Hall last Oct. 14 after both families showed "we have a lot of support from them."

She said she's known Almonte since his infamous Little League days.

"He always used to tell me things and I was like, 'You're a minor . . . we'd get in trouble," the pretty, freckle-faced bride said with a smile from a couch in the Bronx apartment she shares with Almonte.

"I really waited for the right person to come along," she explained, "so I wasn't going to just fool around, especially not with someone younger than me."

Perdomo said she and Almonte got closer last year and they began living together in June.

What makes it work?

"We share a lot," she said. "It's a family here. We have the same friends. We just have a lot in common."

Almonte's mom, Sonia Rojas, told the newspaper from her home in the Dominican Republic that the May-December union has her blessing.

"Love has no age," Rojas said, bemoaning the fact that she couldn't obtain a visa to attend the nuptials in New York.

Five years ago, Almonte was being groomed as the greatest Little League star ever to emerge from the ballfields of New York. But his phenomenal run ended in disgrace when it was revealed he faked his age -- subtracting two years -- to play in the Little League World Series.

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: Maybe Almonte will sign a pro contract and someday be assigned to play for the Iowa Cubs. They deserve him].

* * *

[Photos courtesy of the Chicago Tribune, Rocky Marciano's family, Google, DeCrescenzo, Daily News, Stars and Stripes, Pravda].

Friday, May 19, 2006

You Get It All--Talented Jane Pauley, Ditzy Deborah Norville, Clyde The Orangutan, a Stadium Still Named In Honor Of a Sportswriter, Plus Dimmer Bulbs

As I consistently point out, a severe case of memory loss has robbed me of my ability to remember anything about certain people.

One is someone named Mike Gartner.

Although I don't have the slightest idea who Gartner is, who he was or what he does, my readers evidently have not forgotten him.

I have received even more e-mail this week about the guy.

Here goes, starting with a message from Bud Appleby of Des Moines:

"For anyone who thinks Michael Gartner might have forced some administrators to leave the University of Iowa, they just need to remember that he once shoved a talented Jane Pauley out the door of the 'Today' show and replaced her with ditzy Deborah Norville.

"What a jerk."

Bud Appleby

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: Obviously, Appleby isn't having any memory problems. When he digs up the names of Pauley [lower right] and Norville [lower left] from NBC-TV history, he demonstrates that his mind is sharp as a tack. I asked Appleby if he wanted his real name used, along with his pointed comments, in this column, and he wrote, "As far as I know, it isn't libelous to call a jerk a jerk, so you can use my name." Some discussions on the Internet, of course, use such phony names as "Pissed Off In Pisgah" and "Shorty From Southern Iowa" as contributors. Appleby is a retired writer and editor at the Des Moines Register. Rumor has it that Gartner also drew a few paychecks there. By the way, Appleby's reference to University of Iowa administrators had to do with rumors that Gartner influenced the exits from the state of David Skorton, president at the Univeristy of Iowa, and Bob Bowlsby, the school's athletic director.]

* * *

"Doug From Davenport" also wrote about Gartner, as well as the laughable search for a new school superintendent in Des Moines.

Here's Doug's e-mail:

"Have you followed Mike Gartner's attempts to buy the Class A Midwest League baseball team [in Davenport]? He failed for now, but I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't make another run at the team owned by Kevin Krause, a son of Kum and Go mogul William. Kevin Krause owed the city about $420,000 for his share of stadium renovation and was dragging his heels because he didn't think he owed that much. Literally at the last moment, he sent the team's mascot, Clyde The Orangutan, with a check for the city and Gartner's plan to buy the team for what appeared to be a very sweet price ... for Gartner anyway ... failed. It was high drama in minor league sports. A great stadium, by the way, if the river isn't on the rampage.

"When I read that everyone in Des Moines was shocked that the school superintendent was leaving, I read the story, even though I didn't really care whether the person stayed or left. In the Quad Cities, we have school administrators jump across the river from Iowa to Illinois quite often and sometimes they don't even have to move their residence. If you look deeper, it is usually because they are able to begin collecting their pension for their experience in Iowa, but can still go over to Illinois to higher-paying jobs for a few years, possibly work long enough to qualify for another pension, and not affect the pension they are collecting from Iowa. It's classic double dipping. I read the Register every morning on-line and I don't think I've seen money mentioned as a reason why the super left.

"Keep up the good blogging."

Doug From Davenport

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: Many thanks to you, Doug, for reminding me of the great baseball tradition in the Quad Cities, specifically Davenport. I can recall attending many games as a kid at what is now called John O'Donnell Stadium in Davenport [pictured]. Unlike the money-hungry owners of the Iowa Cubs, those who run the Swing of the Quad Cities -- a team in the Class A Midwest League -- have retained the name of the ballpark, which was named in honor of the late Quad City Times sports editor, John O'Donnell. For a long time, the I-Cubs' ballpark was named Sec Taylor Stadium in honor of the late Des Moines Register sports editor, and still should be. Instead, the naming rights -- shamefully -- were sold to an insurance company whose name I have forgotten. Also gone from my memory permanently is the name of the owner of the team. I now refer to the stadium as "No-Name Ballpark--Sorry About That, Sec." Look at it this way, Doug. If John O'Donnell Stadium had changed ownership, you could have figured that the new name of the place would be something like Rath Packinghouse Hog-Kill Sausage and Bacon Ballpark, or some equally idiotic name -- if you know what I mean. I plan to see a game soon in Davenport, as long as the ballpark is still called John O'Donnell Stadium. I want to get an up-close look at Clyde The Orangutan [pictured]. Maybe he'll give me a check, too. As for the school superintendent search in Des Moines, it has turned into what it really is -- a fiasco. I've forgotten about that, too. See you at the ballpark, Doug. I'll buy the popcorn].

* * *

[Ron Maly is a four-time Iowa Sportswriter of the Year and also is the best-selling author of "Tales from the Iowa Sidelines," which is in its second printing as both a hardback and softback book. The book is about the rich football tradition at the University of Iowa. Maly has a heck of a lot of fun doing what he's doing. Ron's columns about sports, newspapers, his family, medicine, travel, the people he knows, the people he doesn't know, a few people he'd like to know better, a few people he once knew and is trying to forget, a few people he has already forgotten, and anything else that trips his trigger appear regularly at and].

* * *

[Photos courtesy of Jane Pauley's family, Deborah Norville's family, NBC-TV, Google, The Saturday Evening Post, Norman Rockwell's family, Swing of the Quad Cities, Clyde The Orangutan's family, Clyde The Orangutan's photo album, Stars and Stripes, Pravda, Viditelny Macek].

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Marshalltown School Official Brad Clement Provides Excellent Commentary On Cable TV Games. Hey, Someone Get The Shovel--He's Needed To Do Some Digging

I mentioned in a recent column that I enjoyed the work of versatile play-by-play announcer Larry Morgan on the MediaCom telecast of Kerry Wood's rehab game for the Iowa Cubs.

I also thought commentator Brad Clement did an excellent job while working with Morgan.

I've liked Clement's work in the past, and he was at the top of his game when Wood was turning in an unimpressive 85-pitch performance.

Someone who knows everything that happens in Marshalltown, and seems to know anyone who has lived in Marshalltown, is Mark Robinson [lower photo].

So I asked Robinson, who now lives in California, what he knows about Clement. Here was his reply:

"You mentioned that you had watched the Iowa Cubs play on local cable-the annual Kerry Wood rehab game--and that a fellow named Brad Clement was doing the color commentary. Sounds like there were a good number of Iowa folks in attendance at No-Name Park to drink up those $5.75 beers.

"Brad Clement is the father of Jeff Clement, the Marshalltown graduate who is now in the Seattle Mariners farm system, picked No. 3 overall in the 2005 draft out of Southern California. Brad also did commentary on local cable for the state baseball tournament this past summer.

"Brad is a member of the Iowa High School Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame [2004] and is now the principal at Miller Middle School in Marshalltown.

"The elder Clement graduated from Newton High School in 1971 and played baseball at Mesa Community College for two seasons. He became the baseball coach at Marshalltown High School in 1980 and remained in that position for 14 seasons, winning three state titles and 5 district titltes. He was Iowa High School Baseball Coaches Association Coach of the Year twice, in 1985 and 1986.

"In 1996 he managed his son and the Marshalltown Little League All-Star team to a berth in the Little League World Series, where they beat the American East team that eventually lost to the Far East team in the title game.

"Six years later, Jeff surpassed the national home run record for preps [75] and led Marshalltown HIgh School to another state championship under manager Steve Hanson. Jeff, who is a catcher for the Class AA San Antonio Mariners affiliate, pitched all seven innings in the title game played on the Marshalltown diamond.

"Jeff was drafted in the 12th round by the Twins out of high school. Hi"s camp perfomances, apparently, drove his stock down. He attended USC for three years and garnered several awards, including the national title of Freshman of the Year. After three years, he was again eligible for the MLB draft and was drafted third overall with a huge financial bonus.

"Jeff began his pro career with a Fall League Arizona affiliate. He then was shipped to a team in Everett, Wash., for all of four games before heading to Class A Appleton, Wis., where he performed very well.

"Clement began this season with Class AA San Antonio. He batted 5-for-5 with three doubles in one game earlier this season. It was reported on May 6 that Jeff endured two surgeries. A torn meniscus was repaired and a bone chip in an elbow was removed. He will be sidelined for up to two months.

"He was batting .288 at the time of his surgery. Mariners manager Mike Hargrove is optimistic, calling the surgeries nothing more than 'maintenance.'

"I sure hope that is the case. just announced that he is the 20th-most likely minor league prospect to make it to the show. Those odds are pretty good, in my opinion.

"Take care and keep writing, Ron.

"Best regards,"

Mark Robinson

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: I knew Mark Robinson would come through when I had a question. I also contacted Larry Morgan about his broadcast partner, and he came through, too. These were Morgan's comments: "Hi Ron, I'm a little behind on your columns. However, I always get around to reading them all and always enjoy them. I appreciate the kind words about me. I look forward to reading it. I work with Brad on both high school football and Iowa Cubs baseball for MediaCom. He has also worked on MediaCom's state high school baseball championship telecasts. To answer your question, yes, he is still a middle school principal in Marshalltown. He's a great guy and I know you would like him. Hope to see you soon. -- Larry."]

* * *

Strange things occasionally happen at our Wednesday sportswriters' lunches.

A guy today wondered why there was no mention in the morning paper about defensive tackle Chad Hennings [flat-top haircut] being named to the College Football Hall of Fame.

"The story was in the paper," another guy said. "I saw it."

We even asked the waitress at the Chinese restaurant if she had a paper so we could check out who was correct.

"No," she said, making it sound like the Register was something from a foreign country.

I later checked to see if the Hennings story was in the paper.

I couldn't find it.


The 6-6, 291-pound Hennings was born in Elberon, Ia., and played football at the Air Force Academy before going to the Dallas Cowboys. He deserved special mention in these parts.

Oh, well.

* * *

Even though I continue telling people that a severe, sudden-onset case of memory loss prevents me from having absolutely any recollection of someone named Mike Gartner, I keep getting questions about him.

Here's the latest e-mail, from "Wondering in Wellman:"


"Have you heard the rumors about Michael Gartner giving Bowlsby a bad time and running him off? The story was that Gartner thought Bowlsby should have given the Regents a heads-up on the firing of Jim Zalesky, then refused any attempt to keep Bowlsby when Stanford offered him a job. It was reported by KCJJ radio last week and I thought it was bullshit, but now I'm hearing otherwise. Just wondered what you've heard over there. I know Gartner and Skorton had a poor relationship, and that might have cost us a president. Now an AD has been tossed into the picture. You know better than I how Gartner wheels and deals. This guy might be dangerous to the Regents institutions . . . I'll let you know if I learn anything more definitive over here . . ."

"Wondering in Wellman"

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: Dear Wondering, here's what I wrote a few days about this strange episode: "There are always a lot of interesting rumors and true stories making the rounds in Iowa City. When it comes to Iowa City, the truth is usually better and stranger than the rumors. One of the latest stories concerns outgoing University of Iowa athletic director Bob Bowlsby. Longtime Hawkeye booster Barry Crist forwarded me a story that Pat Harty and Ryan Suchomel wrote for the Iowa City Press-Citizen. The story detailed a report that had been carried on Iowa City radio station KCJJ. The Press-Citizen story, said in part: "University of Iowa officials are denying a radio report that a deal to keep Bob Bowlsby as the UI athletic director was quashed by Iowa state Board of Regents President Michael Gartner. Gartner also denied the report, but the owner of KCJJ, the station that aired the news, said it was standing by the story....." The KCJJ report: "KCJJ has learned that an attempt last month by outgoing University of Iowa president David Skorton to keep UI athletic director Bob Bowlsby at the school was apparently rejected by Iowa Board of Regents chairman Michael Gartner. According to sources with close ties to the Iowa athletic department, Skorton had worked out a deal in principle with Bowlsby to remain at Iowa, which would then match the offer that was made last month by Stanford. Well, that deal was nixed by Gartner, who showed no interest in keeping Bowlsby at the UI. Gartner was apparently upset that Bowlsby had hired former wrestling coach Dan Gable as an assistant under new head coach Tom Brands without clearing the deal with the regents first." At the time, my comments were these: "If the story was on KCJJ, it must be true. I believe everything I hear on KCJJ. Frankly, I wish Bowlsby was staying at Iowa. He's been good for the university, which needs him more than Stanford needs him. As for Gartner, I have no idea who he is. As I have said often, a case of severe, sudden-onset memory loss prevents me from remembering who he is or was -- something I stressed to an eager-beaver reporter from the Press-Citizen who contacted me twice a while back to ask about Gartner. A number of my friends tell me I am a very fortunate man to have such unique memory features. Of course, I already knew I'm a very fortunate man." Final note: That's my story, and I'm sticking to it].

* * *

Hey, give me [and everyone else] a break on this newspaper mess about a search for a new Des Moines school superintendent.

Let's call in The Shovel already to get to the bottom of this ridiculousness. The stories are starting to sound like they wouldn't be good enough even for the Roosevelt Roundup.

Yes, even though the Register's Tom Witosky did a fine job today explaining how the Dowling High School athletic director got his you-know-what in the e-mail wringer and now should be fired, he [The Shovel, I mean] needs to take over the superintendent beat.

That superintendent story can't get much more childish in the paper, can it? Dana Boone or Daniel Boone, Boone's Farm or whatever Boone it is who's been screwing things up down there needs to take a lesson from The Shovel and find out how to get the candidates' names in the superintendent search.

You don't wait for a handout news release from the school board. You don't just wait for a press conference. You call people around the nation who know where the good superintendents are, and which of them might be candidates for new jobs. It's the same way we used to get the names of football coaches and athletic directors who might be coming to Iowa or Iowa State.

Dana Boone or Daniel Boone or Boone's Farm even wrote something about a "secret knock" that was necessary to enter a room.

You've gotta be kidding.

Shovel, where are you when we [and your bosses] need you?

* * *

Former Iowan Gordy Scoles checked in with this e-mail:


"We spent Friday, Saturday, and Sunday visiting friends in Salem, S.C. Actually, our friends live on Lake Keeowee, which is 20 minutes from Clemson, S.C. Larry and Jane Gabe [our friends are graduates of UNI [actually, State College of Iowa] who retired five years ago and now live on this beautiful lake in what is called the 'upstate' of South Carolina. That's not what I'm writing you about. We watched Clemson, which was ranked No. 7 in college baseball, sweep a three-game series from Florida State [No. 13], in one of the best sports weekends I've ever been involved in. Clemson has a beautiful stadium, a great team, and the environment was fantastic. The students were gone, since school ended over a week ago, but the size of the crowds, starting with Friday night were 5,200, 5,470 [full house], and 5,100. Tickets costs $3.60 per game [season ticket rate], or $10 regular price. We were so impressed with the fact that colleges in this part of the country have taken advantage of a great sport by building nice facilities, hiring excellent coaches, and recruiting great players. The result: one of the greatest sports weekends we've ever spent. If you ever get a chance to go to an ACC or SEC baseball game, jump at it!"

Gordy Scoles

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: Sounds great, Gordy. It might be tough, though, to tear myself away from the 38-degree weather, with strong winds out of the north, we get for baseball around here in the spring].

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Iowa and Ohio State Will Go Prime-Time Next Sept. 30. Their Nationally-Televised Big Ten Game Will Start At 7 P.M. In Kinnick Stadium At Iowa City

Iowa’s highly-anticipated football game with Ohio State on Sept. 30 has been selected for prime-time television.

The game will have a 7 p.m. kickoff [Iowa time] in Kinnick Stadium [right] at Iowa City, and it'll be televised by either ABC, ESPN or ESPN2.

The Big Ten’s prime-time schedule begins a week earlier with Notre Dame at Michigan State.

Most, if not all, of Iowa’s games are expected to be televised this season. The Hawkeyes have had their last 52 games televised. Every game the last four seasons has been on TV.

Iowa's last home night game was Sept. 20, 2003 against Arizona State.

“We feel honored to have been included in the Big Ten’s prime-time schedule,” said Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz [left]. “It’s an important game, like they all are, and much of the nation will be watching us. We look forward to the challenge.”

* * *

Athlon Sports magazine has picked Iowa’s football team 16th in its 2006 preseason poll. The Hawkeyes will open their season Sept. 2 against Montana in Kinnick Stadium.

Athlon also predicts postseason honors for a number of Hawkeye players.

Defensive end Kenny Iwebema is named to Athlon’s preseason third all-America and first all-Big Ten team. Defensive back Marcus Paschal and kicker Kyle Schlicher were also predicted to be first team all-Big Ten.

Running back Albert Young, offensive linemen Mike Jones, Mike Elgin and Dace Richardson and defensive lineman Mitch King were picked on the second all-Big Ten team.

Named to Athlon’s third preseason all-league team were quarterback Drew Tate, tight end Scott Chandler, defensive lineman Matt Kroul and linebacker Edmond Miles.

Additionally, Iowa’s offensive and defensive lines were rated best in the Big Ten.

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: Kirk Ferentz continues to be one of darlings of college football -- especially college football TV. The networks -- from the play-by-play announcers to the sideline reporters -- love the guy. They all think Ferentz is one short step away from jumping to the NFL, which they believe is the place he really wants to be. And the networks have always had a soft spot in their hearts for the state of Iowa, which they like to characterize as "A Genuine Story Out of Middle America where the farmers are struggling, it either floods or freezes all the time and is a place that gets screwed regularly by Washington. The networks also like Drew Tate because they remember the last-second winning touchdown pass he threw in the Capital One Bowl two seasons ago. And, oh, yes, the networks also love Ohio State -- crooked program that it is -- because there are a lot of TV sets in places like Cleveland, Cincinnati and Columbus. Some of the network bigwigs, I think, are still of the opinion that Woody Hayes coaches the Buckeyes].

* * *


• Sept. 2, 7 p.m.: Notre Dame at Georgia Tech
• Sept. 9, 7 p.m.: Ohio State at Texas
• Sept. 16, 7 p.m.: Nebraska at USC
• Sept. 23, 7 p.m.: Notre Dame at Michigan State; USC at Arizona
• Sept. 30, 7 p.m.: Ohio State at Iowa or Michigan at Minnesota*
• Oct. 7, 7 p.m.: Oregon at California; ACC, Big 12 or BIG EAST (12-day selection)
• Oct. 14, 7 p.m.: Michigan at Penn State; Arizona State at USC
• Nov. 4, 7 p.m.: UCLA at California; ACC, Big 12 or BIG EAST (12-day selection)
• Nov. 11, 7 p.m.: ACC, Big 12 or BIG EAST (12-day selection)
• Nov. 18, 7 p.m.: California at USC; ACC, Big 12 or BIG EAST (12-day selection)
• Nov. 25, 7 p.m.: Notre Dame at USC
• Dec. 2, 7 p.m.: Big 12 championship game

One game will be on ABC and the other in primetime on ESPN or ESPN2.

* * *

ABC Saturday night college football in the upcoming season will feature showdowns between top football programs at 7 p.m. Iowa time.

Notre Dame kicks off the 12-week season Sept. 2 at Georgia Tech followed by Ohio State at defending national champion Texas the next week.

Commentator Brent Musburger will be the play-by-play voice with Bob Davie as the analyst. They will be joined by ESPN College GameDay and ESPN College Football Thursday prime-time analyst Kirk Herbstreit on certain weeks. Lisa Salters, an NBA sideline reporter and general assignment correspondent for multiple ESPN news outlets, will report from the sidelines.

"This prime-time series will be terrific for fans as more top-quality sports product comes to the ABC television network," said George Bodenheimer, president, ESPN, Inc. and ABC Sports. "These games join a strong lineup of sports on ABC, including the NBA Finals, NASCAR's playoffs -- Chase for the Nextel Cup -- in 2007, Belmont Stakes and Indianapolis 500."

Monday, May 15, 2006

Cyclone Basketball Teams Will Play Dec. 16 At Wells Fargo Arena In D.M. Men's Team Meets Bradley On ESPN2, Women Face St. Louis

For the second year in a row, Iowa State's men's and women's basketball teams will play in Des Moines.

The men's team faces Bradley of the Missouri Valley Conference in the Mediacom Cyclone Capital Classic on Dec. 16, 2006 at the Wells Fargo Arena.

The Cyclone women’s team will host St. Louis University. Tipoff times have not been set, but the men’s game will be televised nationally by ESPN2.

The Braves, 22-11 last year and ranked 24th in the final poll, were one of the Cinderella stories from the 2005-06 NCAA men's tournament after advancing to the Sweet 16.

That club won 13 of its final 17 games, including NCAA tournament wins over Kansas (77-73) and Pittsburgh (72-66). The Braves were eliminated by top-seed Memphis. The St. Louis women’s team is led by senior guard Tyler McIlwraith (15.6-point average) and second-year coach Shimmy Gray.

“We are very excited to continue our relationship with Mediacom and all the great Cyclone fans in the Des Moines area. Playing games in Des Moines annually is one of our many initiatives to help cultivate more Cyclone fans in our capital city,” Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard said.

“Getting the national television exposure from the ESPN family is a direct reflection of what the network thinks of a match-up between the Big 12 and a powerful mid major.”

Added Pollard: "The cooperation between the Wells Fargo Arena and ESPN2 was instrumental in making the game a reality. Scheduling special event, cross sectional games is hard, especially during that time of the year.

"However, the willingness of all parties to work together resulted in our capital city getting a very desirable non-conference match-up that will be broadcast to a national audience.”

The doubleheader will not be a part of the men’s and women’s season ticket packages, but Cyclone season ticketholders will have the first opportunity to reserve tickets for this doubleheader on their ticket renewal forms this summer.

Ticket prices for the doubleheader and the on-sale date for the general public will be established in the near future.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Baseball Is Too Dull These Days. Bring Back Showman Bill Veeck, Who Once Sent a 3-Foot 7-inch, 65-Pound Midget To the Plate In St. Louis

A few things of interest have been happening both in and out of the sporting scene lately, and one of them doesn't involve Kerry Wood throwing 85 not-very-impressive pitches in a Triple-A game at No-Name Ballpark last night.

The way I look at it, no more time should elapse without me mentioning Jim Delsing.

Jim Delsing?

Yes, household name Jim Delsing.

Jim Delsing, who died recently at the age of 80, was an outfielder who played 10 years of baseball in the American League.

But the thing that made Delsing famous happened Aug. 19, 1951 at old Sportsman's Park in St. Louis.

He had a role in a stunt pulled off by baseball's master showman, Bill Veeck.

In 1951, Veeck owned the St. Louis Browns. On Aug. 19, the Browns were playing the Detroit Tigers in a doubleheader.

The Browns weren't drawing many fans, so Veeck decided to insert a circus atmosphere into the day.

He sent Eddie Gaedel, a 3-foot 7-inch, 65-pound midget, into the game to pinch-hit [top photo]. Gaedel walked and Delsing was put into the game to pinch-run for him.

"A lot of people say Roger Maris hit 61 home runs," Delsing once said, "but I'm the only one who ran for a midget."

Between games of the doubleheader, Gaedel popped out of a cake to celebrate the American League's 50th anniversary.

Veeck [middle right] fixed up Gaedel with a tiny uniform that had the number 1/8 [middle left] on the back.

When Gaedel -- somewhat of a showman himself -- said he might be tempted to swing at a pitch while at the plate, Veeck told him he'd better think twice about that because he had a sniper stationed in the grandstand.

In his 1962 autobiography, Veeck wrote, "Eddie [Gaedel] I've got your life insured for a million dollars. I've got a gun stashed up on the roof. But don't you let any of that bother you. You just crouch over like you've been doing and take four pitches, huh?"

Gaedel was the first, and only, midget ever to appear in a major league game.

When he came to the plate, umpire Ed Hurley talked with Browns manager Zack Taylor. Taylor and Veeck had Gaedel's contract with them.

Bob Cain pitched to Gaedel, who had a strike zone measuring 1 1/2 inches After Gaedel was walked, the crowd gave him a standing ovation. The Tigers won the game, 6-2, and afterward American League president Will Harridge said Veeck was making a mockery of the game.

Harridge voided Gaedel's contract the following day.

Although Gaedel's major league career was over, Veeck continued to use him in off-the-field promotions. In 1959, Gaedel and three other midgets dressed as spacemen presented ray guns to Chicago White Sox players Nellie Fox and Luis Aparicio at Comiskey Park.

Some critics later said such stunts harmed Gaedel, who became a heavy drinker and died of a heart attack after being mugged in Chicago in 1961. He died at 36.

Actually, it's too bad the clowns who run the Chicago Cubs don't do something similar to what Veeck pulled off more than a half-century ago.

All they've got to impress fans are manager Dusty Baker, general manager Jim Hendry and a dugout full of bad, overpaid players

Talk about boring.

* * *

Kerry Wood's latest performance at No-Name Ballpark was so-so at best.

Many of the pitches he threw in the cold and wind last night at No-Name would have been clobbered out of a number of parks in the nation, including Yellowstone.

Wood's body is beaten the battered, and hitters know it.

Any similarity between the very ordinary Wood [lower right] of 2006 and the Wood who once struck out 20 Houston Astros in a game is purely in Ron Santo's imagination.

He's never been willing to change his mechanics, and eventually will retire as a stubborn overhyped pitcher who couldn't match his potential.

The only difference between Wood and the rest of the Joe Six-Packs hanging around minor league parks, rehab games, surgeons' offices and training rooms is that he'll have lots of money in the bank when he quits, which could be sooner than you might think.

Meanwhile, National League hitters are frothing at the mouth awaiting Wood's return to Dusty Baker's pitching rotation.

Dusty there's another guy without a clue.

* * *

Nice going, Mediacom.

Excellent job with the telecast of last night's game.

The shut-ins appreciated it, as did the smart folks who refuse to be gouged by the ridiculous prices at No-Name.

Play-by-play announcer Larry Morgan again showed his versatility. Morgan does equally well behind the microphone at football, basketball and baseball games, and I always enjoy his work.

* * *

People have been saying for several years that Greg McDermott is a good basketball coach.

I guess we'll be finding out if that's true next season at Iowa State.

It looks to me like he'll be going to war with a bunch of tin soldiers.

* * *

Meanwhile, McDermott's former boss at Northern Iowa -- athletic director Rick Hartzell -- continues to be an embarrassment.

Not only does Hartzell persist in running all over the country every winter, officiating major-college basketball games while he's supposed to be managing UNI's athletic department, he makes his name available for all athletic director openings in the country.

* * *

In 1986, a suburban man was told that -- because of other medical problems -- his coronary bypass surgery would probably be good for only 8 to 10 years.

"He can have more bypass surgery then," a cardiologist told the man's family.

Coronary bypass -- or the more dramatic term "open-heart surgery" -- is the kind of procedure where they slice open the breastbone, do what they have to do and, if the guy is still breathing afterward, he tells his buddies, "It hurts more where they took the veins out of my leg than where they opened up my chest."

On May 2, the man celebrated 20 years with the original bypass grafts still in place.

Needless to say, the man takes his Vytorin and the rest of his pills every day, tries to do everything his doctors tell him, and he prays a lot.

* * *

There are always a lot of interesting rumors and true stories making the rounds in Iowa City.

When it comes to Iowa City, the truth is usually better and stranger than the rumors.

One of the latest stories concerns outgoing University of Iowa athletic director Bob Bowlsby.

Longtime Hawkeye booster Barry Crist forwarded me a story that Pat Harty and Ryan Suchomel wrote for the Iowa City Press-Citizen. The story detailed a report that had been carried on Iowa City radio station KCJJ.

The Press-Citizen story, said in part:

"University of Iowa officials are denying a radio report that a deal to keep Bob Bowlsby as the UI athletic director was quashed by Iowa state Board of Regents President Michael Gartner.

"Gartner also denied the report, but the owner of KCJJ, the station that aired the news, said it was standing by the story....."

"The KCJJ report:

"KCJJ has learned that an attempt last month by outgoing University of Iowa president David Skorton to keep UI athletic director Bob Bowlsby at the school was apparently rejected by Iowa Board of Regents chairman Michael Gartner.

"According to sources with close ties to the Iowa athletic department, Skorton had worked out a deal in principle with Bowlsby to remain at Iowa, which would then match the offer that was made last month by Stanford.

"Well, that deal was nixed by Gartner, who showed no interest in keeping Bowlsby at the UI. Gartner was apparently upset that Bowlsby had hired former wrestling coach Dan Gable as an assistant under new head coach Tom Brands without clearing the deal with the regents first."

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: If the story was on KCJJ, it must be true. I believe everything I hear on KCJJ. Frankly, I wish Bowlsby was staying at Iowa. He's been good for the university, which needs him more than Stanford needs him. As for Gartner, I have no idea who he is. As I have said often, a case of severe, sudden-onset memory loss prevents me from remembering who he is or was -- something I stressed to an eager-beaver reporter from the Press-Citizen who contacted me twice a while back to ask about Gartner. A number of my friends tell me I am a very fortunate man to have such unique memory features. Of course, I already knew I'm a very fortunate man].

* * *

And, oh, yes, if you're interested in living in the same house Bowlsby lived in, Iowa Realty in Iowa City will be glad to talk to you.

But bring your wallet.

And your checkbook.

And everything else you've got in this world.

It'll cost you, my friend.

Bowlsby's 7,965-square foot home at 2594 Johnsons Crossing NE in Solon is on the real estate market at more than $1.4 million.

The actual cost is $1.450,000.

The house is on 24.57 acres. It has six bedrooms, five baths, two fireplaces, a three-car garage, a swimming pool and just about everything else you'd expect in a $1.4 million house.

* * *

[Ron Maly is a four-time Iowa Sportswriter of the Year and also is the best-selling author of "Tales from the Iowa Sidelines," which is in its second printing as both a hardback and softback book. The book is about the rich football tradition at the University of Iowa. Maly has a heck of a lot of fun doing what he's doing. Ron's columns about sports, newspapers, his family, medicine, travel, the people he knows, the people he doesn't know, a few people he'd like to know better, a few people he once knew and is trying to forget, a few people he has already forgotten, and anything else that trips his trigger appear regularly at and].

* * *

[Photos courtesy of Eddie Gaedel's family, Bill Veeck's family, Kerry Wood's family, Baseball Hall of Fame, St. Louis Browns, Iowa Realty, Charlie Neibergall, AP, UPI, INS, Reuters, Google, Stars and Stripes, Pravda, Vytorin, Zetia, Ezetimibelsimvestatin, Merck/Schering-Plough Pharmaceuticals, MSC Singapore Company].