Monday, December 11, 2006

2006 In Review Part II: Top 10 Highlights

Moving to part two of the year in review, 10 highlights. Despite what you might read in this blog, finding 10 highlights wasn't as impossible as it could be, especially if you read this blog and realize how emotionally and mentally unbalanced I can be at times. However I will say this about the "highlights" segment of 2006, when they were good they were real good. 2006 in a nutshell: like a .500 ballclub, when they're good they're real good, when they're bad, you hope it's fun bad. When it's been bad, it hasn't been "fun bad." With that said, the Top 10 Highlights (in no particular order) for 2006.

  • The Cubs sweep the Cardinals, twice. Yes, I realize that the Cardinals won the World Series but they still get no love from me. They finished with a losing record to the worst team in the National League and for a majority of the games (minus the final three in St. Louis which served as the first signs of the team quitting under Dusty Baker save the Rich Hill start on Fox Saturday Game of the Week) and were dominated by the Cubs (and White Sox for that matter) when they played in Chicago. I'll admit the first sweep was sweet, a three game sweep which concluded on ESPN as their Sunday Night Game of the week which was highlighted by Sean Marshall's first start, Jacque Jones first hit (a 3-run home run off Sidney Ponson) and a game winning Grand Slam by catcher Michael Barrett. However, the sweep that was sweetest was the one in Chicago in July, concluding with a victory by Carlos Zambrano over reigning Cy Young winner Chris Carpenter. That might have been the peak of the summer, it ended a few weeks later.
  • If this list was in chronological order, my 20th birthday would probably rank #1. It was an awesome 5 day period in which my "Southern family" came north from everywhere to help me celebrate turn the big 2-0. We partied like rock stars, taking in the sights and sounds Chicago had to offer over the 4th of July holiday. Arguably it was the most fun I've had in consecutive days this year!
  • My trip to Puerto Rico was nice too. It was cool to see some of my family members again and take in life on the island. It was also pretty nice to use the Spanish I rarely use in Carbondale (or Chicago for that matter.) I wonder when I'll be returning to the island.
  • The most anticipated moment of 2006 was probably meeting a new friend in Meagan. Meagan was a friend I knew through my old roommate Hoos who was coming up to see Country Thunder, a four day fest of country music that I was also slated at one point to attend. In preparation of the days in which she would stay a few with me, we basically spoke every day beginning sometime in spring 2006 until she arrived in July. That definetly softened the blow of what could have been initial awkwardness for it was to be the first time we'd ever meet in person. In addition to meeting Meagan, I was able to meet her friend Alyce who was to be attending Northwestern University in Evanston. Our time together was fun, and still I talk to Meagan on a regular basis.
  • Another highly anticipated event of 2006 was moving off campus. I talk regularly in sports terms, especially when it comes to "change of scenery." Well the change of scenery has done me well if you ask me. To be honest, I've had my issues with former roommies, but I'll leave the past where it belongs. Currently, I love my roommates Marcus and Steve and I'm pretty sure the love is mutual between the three of us. No disrespect to my former roommates, but I don't think I've ever been happier with my living situation. Living off campus has been great. No RA's, no write ups, I cook my own meals and we can play music as loud as we'd like. Can't knock that now can ya?
  • SIU Wins The MVC Tourney. With their backs against the wall and another consecutive NCAA appearance in the balance, the SIU Salukis turned out three wins in the MVC tournament in St. Louis clinching the automatic bid in the NCAA tourney for the first time since 1994. The highlight you ask? Probably would be when after SIU's overtime winner against Northern Iowa, I asked now-roommate Steve if he'd be interested in going to StL for the championship game. We rounded up several friends on the floor and headed to StL the next day on a spur of the moment type thing that really was a major adrenaline rush from beginning to end! Celebrating on court rocked too!
  • Camping with Roy. Camping was fun, I enjoyed this version of camping compared to the stuff we did when I was a kid in tents in crappy weather. Roy's trailer rocks, Uncle Squeak calls it 'Condo Camping' cuz it has the ammenities of home (shower, fridge, stove, oven, beds) while also being outdoors. Drinking, eating, drinking, fishing, eating. That's the camping itnerary.
  • KISS FM'S FRIDAY FREE FOR ALL. As I said in my last post, it was a good year musically, especially for new music. However nothing caught my ear like WKSC 103.5's Friday Free For All. It began when an outgoing deejay on his last episode decided to use his last show to go back in time and bring back classic songs from the 80s and 90s. Dance hits, club hits, songs that were popular when I was young, before I was young, when my mom used to party, etc. Songs like Holiday, Like A Virgin, Dangerous on the Dancefloor, Supersonic, Groove is in the Heart, What Is Love, Spring Love, Push It, Total Eclipse of the Heart, Jump Around....I COULD GO ON FOREVER! This flashback has contiued to be a Friday highlight and staple, now that I can get it streaming (along with the best morning show ever, the Drex Show) online @
  • The Bears Hot Start. A more recent add on to the happy moments of '06. '06 started off sour for the Bears with a loss to the Carolina Panthers (I'll get into that in the not so happy moments of 2006.) But the Bears started this year strong at 7-0 behind their dominating defense, super-special teams and the arm of a resurgent (and healthy) Rex Grossman. Since then "Sexy Rexy" has struggled, but has my support to lead the Bears to their first Super Bowl since 1985.
  • The New Look Cubs. Not much went right for the Cubs in 2006, but they've set nice groundwork for 2007. President/CEO Andy "The Clown" MacPhail (should be F-A-I-L) resigned from his post, followed out the door the next day by much maligned manager Dusty Baker. In the weeks since the two failures have left the Cubs have turned the baseball world on its ear with their newfound willingness to spend and win right now. VP of Broadcasting and Marketing John McDonough was named 'interim' President of the Cubs. Next, they hired Lou Piniella to manage the team in an attempt to lead them to their first World Series appearance since 1945 and victory since 1908. They re-signed key pieces Wade Miller, Henry Blanco, Kerry Wood and Aramis Ramirez. They also added free agents Ted Lilly, Jason Marquis and Mark DeRosa to fill holes in the starting rotation and at second base. However those pale in comparison the the off-season coup they pulled off by signing Alfonso Soriano to an 8 year $136 million dollar contract. Soriano became the highest paid Cub in the history of the franchise and marked the first time the Cubs have signed the top player in a free-agency class in his prime in my life time. They're not done however, it could lead to an interesting 2007.

Here's hoping I have more trouble finding 10 highlights next year (hoping I have more than 10!)

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