Bartender Banter: October Beckons

Who doesn't love October? The baseball playoffs get into full swing. The NFL and college football are moving along at full force. The NBA preseason reminds me that I have the worst franchise in my 16 team keeper league (Seriously, my likely keepers will be T.J. Ford, Tony Parker, Bobby Simmons, David West, and Tyson Chandler. I'm not winning shit with that as my core.) . Hell, I'll even give a nod to the Molson drinking mulletheads that follow hockey, as the NHL season kicks off next week.





Studies have shown, Tyson Chandler will not win you any fantasy leagues.






So as the Cubs season comes to a merciful close on sunday, let's just hope that a few things get sorted outfor 2007, namely new management, and possibly sign a big free agent (Two words for the Cubs, Vernon Wells. Seriously, I don't care if you have to borderline stalk the guy, let's get him on board!). And to help us forget this absolute train wreck we call the 2006 season, the Cubs have released the 2007 schedule. I can start planning now for which games I'll want tickets for. Note to self: if you get in to purchase tickets again at 10:04 am like last year, don't stupidly use that chance to buy a value date. Buy 6 tickets for Cubs/White Sox and don't think twice.

Murton, Flirtin' with .300
It seems like he's been hovering right around the .290's forever, but after a brilliant 5-for-7 performance during their 2-game stint with Milwaukee, Thunder Matt has upped his AVG to .300. Murton has hit .328 since the All-Star break and has an OPS of .937, which is a vast improvement over his .723 mark in the first half of the season. With a great weekend against the Rockies, Murton could put a nice exclamation point on his season if he can keep that AVG up.

MLB Playoffs
Well the playoff picture is far from focused yet. The four American League teams are set (Yanks, Twins, Tigers, A's), but we still have no idea of who will be playing who. Right now the Yankees are one game better than the Twins and Tigers. The Twins and Tigers are currently tied in the AL Central. Of those three teams battling for home-field advantage, the Tigers have the best chance to come out on top, as they play their final three games against a miserable Royals squad. The Yankees have to play three against the Blue Jays, and the Twins will take on a White Sox team that's sure to have a chip on their shoulder. Meanwhile Oakland is battling the Angels. I have no idea how the tiebreakers will play out but I have a feeling no team wants the Yankees in the first round.

Think the AL picture is murky? The NL is even more chaotic. The collapse of St. Louis has opened the door for yet another infamous late-season run by the Astros. The Astros God dammit! They're like a bad venereal disease that won't go away. Please for the love of everything that's sacred St. Louis, win your final games. I can't stand Houston, and I don't think I can endure another postseason with Joe Buck melodramatically blathering about "this possibly being The Rocket's last game". At this point I'm convinced Clemens is an evil cyborg destined to pitch for another 20 years. Our only hope is that someone from the future sends a Terminator back in time to destroy him. Oh yeah, and the Reds are also still alive because of the Cardinals free-fall. The team that looked like they were finished but bounced back a couple of times this season is still alive. They're a longshot, but I'm pulling for Cincinnati to come out of the Central on top.

Meanwhile the NL West and NL Wild Card is far from settled. The Dodgers trail San Diego by only one game. Both have a series on the road this weekend which bodes well for the Padres who seem to play better outside of Petco. Then there's the pesky Phillies who are only 2 back of the Dodgers for the Wild Card. This is all playing out to be a great weekend in baseball.

So who am I rooting for in the playoffs? I think I'll be pulling for Twins and Dodgers. The Twins are one of the more likeable teams out there, plus I'll play the "proximity to my home" card since they're in the Midwest. I refuse to cheer for the Cardinals, Astros or Padres in the playoffs which leaves the Mets, Phillies, or Dodgers. While I'm rather indifferent about the Mets, the Phillies are intriguing with the success of Ryan Howard. But I gotta cheer Mad Dog on as he makes possibly his last run at another World Series ring.




My Pick for the World Series

Dodgers vs. Twins





Offseason in the Saloon
Well with the baseball season wrapping up, the Saloon isn't exactly closing its doors for the winter. I plan on continuing the All-80's team which by my calculations is slated to run through December, as well as offer some football and possibly some basketball coverage. You can still expect some War Criminal and Realm of Red features from the Governor and Chaim too. Don't be surprised though if we don't have new content up as regularly as we did in the summer.

River Roots Live
Quick recap. Overall it was a great time. Almost every band we saw was good. A few high points: Lil Brian and the Zydeco Travellers, Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk, and Martin Sexton were outstanding. When we saw Lil Brian, I was expecting something similar to what we hear every time we eat at Famous Dave's. But they were a lot funkier than your typical zydeco outfit. Imagine seeing Parliament perform but George Clinton playing the accordian and has a Creole accent. Dumpstaphunk was another great soul/funk band that did some sweet covers of various rock songs. Martin Sexton's voice sounded like a cross between Jack Johnson and the lead singer of Big Head Todd and the Monsters and he looks like the love-child of Neil Young and Jack Black. But his one-man show was terrific.

Susan Tedeschi was equally outstanding, and a pretty damn good guitar player too. But when it comes to the best guitar playing, nobody could top Junior Brown's virtuoso performance. The Gourds were fun to listen to, but alas, no Gin and Juice. The crowd was shouting for it the entire time, which led me to believe they probably don't break it out that often since every drunk asshole is screaming at them to play it. Scott H. Biram was a complete trip, playing some crazy pyschobilly punk that kicked ass. The Hackensaw Boys were good as always, but suffered from poor sound in the bandshell.

Oh and the jam bands. Let me first say that I'm not a huge jam band person. I've never been that big into Phish, Widespread Panic, String Cheese Incident, or any of the other hugely touring live acts. There were three jam bands that played, Umphrey's McGee, Groovatron, and Ernie Hendrickson & the Make Believe. I'd say that Groovatron was probably my favorite, because they had a much harder sound. I was too drunk to really remember much of Umphrey's performance.

Oh yeah and the Black Crowes. Um, yeah I was pretty well tore up from drinking beer all day that I can't recall much of anything. In fact we only stayed for about 5 songs. Two things I remembered are 1) they opened up with "Gone", and 2) Chris Robinson was fucked up on something, whether it was marijuana, coke, booze, or more likely a combination of them. He just sort of flailed about and apparently kept missing his cues to sing. While I don't think they were bad, I do think that other bands' performances were better.

All in all we had a great time, with very little rain thankfully. They did a good job with keeping the festival moving with literally no dead time between bands. I think we'll go back next year, and hopefully they can build off of this one to bring even bigger acts to it.


That's all for now. Here's to the Hawkeyes toppling the Buckeyes tomorrow night, and the Bears sticking it to the Seahawks on Sunday night.

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