By Tim Baffoe-

(CBS) Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews are numbers one and two respectively in NHL jersey sales so far this season. That’s nothing out of the ordinary—great hockey town with two huge stars whose greatness and appeal transcend the Windy City’s borders.

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But Tim Thomas is the fifth highest selling jersey so far. What? Ol’ Tinfoil Hat Timmy who believes we’re on a crash course for becoming the United Socialist States of Russerica? And a goalie at that for a small market team.

Maybe it has to do with the large amount of people who are Boston Bruins fans who move from the Northeast to balmy Florida, but it still takes an odd sort of thought process to decide, “Yeah, I’m going to buy this guy’s jersey knowing that he has some pretty controversial stances on things.” I chalk it up to the rabidity of weirdo Tea Partiers and their joy in having a representative in sports because, hey, we like when celebrities that have nothing to do with politics share our political beliefs for some reason. Merica.

Weekend. Jay Cutler’s back.

On to your correspondence.

You jest, but it’s really interesting how deafening the silence from Cubs Nation is about the hire. Such a starving fan base has a tradition of late of putting a ton of stock into managerial selections. There was a borderline parade thrown for Dusty Baker when he was hired, and the buzz around Lou Piniella was huge as well. Even uber-boring Dale Sveum brought a ton of reaction with him, not necessarily of his own doing, because he was the first hire of the Jed/Theo regime.

I’m guilty of past excitement, and every time it has obviously bitten me in the butt. So I took notice of how I was feeling when hearing the news that Renteria would be the new skipper. I wasn’t happy, I wasn’t angry. I’m at the point of my Cubs fanship that I’m done putting eggs in baskets, especially when it comes to a position that probably isn’t the major factor in achieving the ultimate goal. Renteria seems competent, and he comes highly recommended by several smart baseball people. None of that matters if the talent he gets to work with, particularly the much ballyhooed farm system that is supposed to soon bear MLB fruit, fizzles.

I’d be a hypocrite if I called for Incognito to be denied work in a trade that he has skill for because I’m a person who believes the ongoing wrath against Michael Vick is misguided and unfair (and don’t send me your anti-Vick stupidity, please). You’re worth what someone is willing to pay you. If zero teams feel he and the baggage he’ll bring—both personally and media-wise—are worth at least the minimum allowed salary, then so be it.

But I won’t campaign against a bad guy—and one who isn’t being charged with a crime, by the way—being allowed to play sports. Several athletes are detestable people. Abusive, violent, life-taking people. And whenever we’re made to realize what a crappy person a player is, we knee-jerk with “RAWR LET’S DENY HIM WORK RAWR ROLE MODEL RAWR HURT FEELINGS RAWR.”

And then, when we’re confronted with what we claim are our morals vs. what’s best for our favorite team’s odds of winning, the ability to run fast, jump high, and score points seems to mean more for a few hours than would we want the guy spending time with our children. We also too often think in absolutes and believe there is no way a guy can change or merit forgiveness (see the Vick haters). I don’t know if Incognito will genuinely try to make himself a better person, but I know that shunning him likely won’t help that happen.

Put simply and hypothetically, if Richie Incognito were somehow the best option for the Chicago Bears and he was signed by them, I very much would want him to play well and help the team win. And then when he’s not wearing pads I’ll judge him as a person separately.

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Mr. Buh-foe

I’m sitting around with a nice spread provided by my local Arby’s for the low cost of about $11 (the new brisket sandwich is the best thing to happen to fast food since the Double Decker Taco, and will make the McRib the Wally Pip of specialty fast food items.)   Maybe it’s the few beers, maybe it’s the quasi-legal substances, maybe it’s the lovely carcinogens from the Arby’s, but I’m actually enjoying this episode of the as-clever-as-the-Booyah’s-get named show, Olberman.  I watched an episode or two when it first debuted, and I thought, not surprisingly, it was tame and missing it’s potential.  I then tuned in during the MLB playoffs, and I swore I saw Larry King hosting in Olby’s stead.  I’m watching now, and I am enjoying it, but am wondering if I’m just catching a good show.  The 5th grader in me is enjoying the silly, cartoonish and nostalgic narrative similar to the classic SportsCenter banter with Dan Patrick days, but the “adult” in me is also enjoying the biting, sometimes scathing and generally honest angle from the unabashed Murrow admirer in him ala the MSNBC days. Maybe it’s just the easy topic of the whole Incognito-Martin deal. In sum, I’ve sorta seen three or four episodes, so I can’t judge-  what are your thoughts old wise (when it comes to high school literature and menial sports knowledge) one?  I anxiously await your response.  

Keep up the entertaining work. Go Caravan.

The Village Idiot

I think Olbermann is a great show. It deviates from the mindless, “louder is correcter” content ESPN likes to feed the idiots, and it’s a simple, yet smart approach to discussing current issues in sports. So of course it’s relegated to ESPN2 in a timeslot that makes it almost automatically lose a ratings fight.

Olbermann is a wise-ass who doesn’t suffer fools, so that attracts my attention immediately. His show gives sports highlights with an homage to his former SportsCenter self, but it actually makes those willing to listen—which is probably not many people because so many hate to have reality brought into their fantasy—hear about important issues. He has provocative guests, and the show is nothing if not smarter than the average TV sports talk dreck offered on his network and elsewhere. Olbermann works great in this milieu and isn’t as abrasive as when he was tackling specifically politics, so even if you think of him as some elitist Liberal America-crusher, you’d do well to listen to him and his guests discuss sports. It’s interesting stuff, which means it probably won’t be on TV for long.


I agree with the column and your position.  The Scott thing has bothered me because of the position taken by the media.  Scott is a thug and a goon and has no skill, however, a head shot is something that he hasn’t really done prior to this.  He fights, and fights will hopefully be eliminated from the game at some point.  Traditionally, goon fighters just fight other goons.  Look at Scott’s record.  He’s never done this sort of thing and doesn’t have a history of suspension such as Raffi Torres or Matt Cooke or Steve Downis or even one of the game’s saviors, Alex Ovechkin.  I say that sarcastically about Ovechkin as he is a talent but also has dealt his share of dangerous hits in the recent past.  The hit that Scott put on Erickson was cheap and bad and dangerous but it’s not his forte.  The aforementioned group is consistently more dangerous to other players…just ask Toews, Seabrook and Hossa.

Thanks for writing…I do like most of it

Fred Petrino

Yes, Scott isn’t Torres, but when it’s the non-Torreses of the game doing this vile stuff, then I’m even more worried. Scott still made a conscious decision to do what he did. Hopefully the erosion of fighting in hockey will bring with it a residual decline in illegal hits, both from the notorious guys and the random ones.

Thanks for emailing, tweeting, and reading. If your question did not get answered this time, that does not necessarily mean I am ignoring it. It may be saved for the next mailbag. Hopefully you’re a slightly better person now than you were ten minutes ago. If not, your loss. Want your questions answered in a future Mailbag? Email them to or tweet them to @TimBaffoe with the hashtag #TFMB. No question, sports or otherwise, is off limits (with certain logistical exceptions, e.g. lots of naughty words or you type in Portuguese or you solicit my death). If you email, please include a signature.

Tim Baffoe

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Tim Baffoe attended the University of Iowa before earning his degree from Governors State University and began blogging at The Score after winning the 2011 Pepsi Max Score Search. He enjoys writing things about stuff, but not so much stuff about things. When not writing for, Tim corrupts America’s youth as a high school English teacher and provides a great service to his South Side community delivering pizzas (please tip him and his colleagues well). Got a comment for Tim? E-mail him at You can follow Tim’s inappropriate brain droppings on Twitter @TimBaffoe , but please don’t follow him in real life. He grew up in Chicago’s Beverly To read more of Tim’s blogs click here.