Cliff Kelley Show 8-31-2015
3:00-3:30: Serena WIlliams is on a Role/ Jake Arrieta’s 1st No-Hitter/The Bears
Guest: Jim Rose
Serena Article: Serena Williams’ quest to complete a historic calendar grand slam at the US Open goes well beyond achieving tennis immortality. Sure, a fifth straight major would essentially mean it is hard to retort the growing obvious; Williams is the greatest women’s tennis player of all time with due respect to Steffi Graf, Martina Navratilova, et al.
But winning in New York means so much more.
Achieving an arduous feat that hasn’t been conquered since Graf in 1988 would ascend Williams into a stratosphere reserved for select iconic sports demigods. Williams has long dominated tennis, but now she is truly transcending the women’s game. Maybe Lionel Messi is doing something unfathomably similar in football, although he does have a noteworthy adversary in Cristiano Ronaldo. Usain Bolt is probably the closest doppelganger to Williams, though athletics no longer has the cache it used to have and boasts fewer must-see events compared to tennis. Marvelling at Bolt’s superhuman performances are more intermittent.
Williams no longer has legitimate challenger. Once, there was her sister Venus, Justine Henin and Martina Hingis; these days Williams’ biggest obstacle is combating the swirl of expectation in her determined bid to conquer the deeds of the legends from yesteryear.
As sports fans, we revere elite sportsmen and sportswomen. They perform athletic deeds amid the cauldron of pressure and expectation we can only dream of. Williams’ past 12 months – she has incredibly only lost twice this year – has continually raised the bar of what we believed was possible in sports. She’s recalibrating prolonged greatness. She’s routinely eviscerating players 10 to 15 years younger than her in a sport traditionally cruel to those over 30.
Williams is nearly 34, a geriatric age for tennis players (bar Roger Federer, who is another ageless wonder) and yet she somehow still remains the most athletic player on the tour. She’s warded off the ravages of age and blossomed into a more complete player.
Throughout the 2000s, Williams seemed to believe her immense physical strengths – which spearheaded her incomparable baseline game – was simply enough. Her renowned physicality did indeed make her the most feared player on tour, but Williams struggled to totally fulfil her capabilities apart from her peak of 2002-03 when she achieved the ‘Serena Slam’ by holding the four majors concurrently.
One always felt Williams left a little on the table. It was as if Williams never truly cared about her legacy; she was content being remembered as a great but didn’t crave to be the greatest ever. Tennis was merely just one part of her celebrity lifestyle.
Perhaps hiring Patrick Mourtaglou as coach has been the catalyst for her newfound desire, or maybe she realised what could be materialised if she properly harnessed her considerable gifts but everything has clicked into place during these past magical 12 months. Her game has never been stronger; she has the best serve, most devastating firepower and moves around the court better than anyone else.
She’s never been fitter and physically sharper. Williams is in a great space mentally; she simply doesn’t believe she’ll lose at any point. Amazingly, she plays better when in a deep hole. Adversity brings out the best in her game. Tellingly, she has opponents under her hypnotic spell; Williams’ aura has burgeoned so tellingly that opponents never feel comfortable even when they are on the cusp of victory.
Despite her record-breaking achievements, Williams has long been a polarising figure. Tennis, a sport dominated by a conservative white power base, didn’t quite seem ready for the brash and outlandish Williams sisters when they broke onto the professional scene in the late 1990s.
Despite being a trailblazer for her African-American race and helping the sport appeal to a wider audience through her pizzazz, it is felt Williams hasn’t been beloved like the past champions she is compared to.
Maybe the ugly spectre of racism clouds some of the judgement. Perhaps some lamented the power she exhibits, which has forever altered women’s tennis and terminally banished smaller craftier players in the Hingis mould. Maybe some histrionics have affected her perception, amid a sport that demands humbleness and grace in its champions.
Williams has long been the antithesis of tennis’ quaint image of elegance and humility. Perhaps her emergence, far removed from the stereotypical tennis prodigy upbringing, and then utter domination alarmed some of the traditionalists.
Anecdotally perhaps, it feels there has been a notable shift of sentiment on Williams this year. There appears finally, perhaps belatedly, an acceptance – even an embracement – of Williams and her inimitable style. Maybe it’s more to do with the fact that Williams is producing the type of greatness rarely seen in sports. Her domination is something to behold and appreciate before it’s too late. Williams in her absolute pomp is becoming immortal; the stuff of legend, and having watched her is becoming something to reminisce about to your grandchildren.
One day, perhaps sooner than we may think, Williams will walk away from the sport. She’ll leave an enormous chasm; much like when Sir Donald Bradman left cricket or Michael Jordan retired (the second time) from the NBA. Women’s tennis, hopefully fleetingly, will become less entertaining and feel slightly diminished in spectacle without Williams.
But that’s all to play out. Right now, the US Open is set to be the Serena Show. Whatever happens, win or lose, Williams will be the major narrative.
More than ever, it presents an opportunity to savour one of the most iconic athletes we’ve ever seen.
Cubs Article: LOS ANGELES — Jake Arrieta’s solidification came loud, clear and dominant.
No-hitters tend to do that. But when they do it for an ace on the rise who’s on a team thinking about the World Series, they do so with more authority.
Already in the midst of greatness this season, the Chicago Cubs’ right-hander fired the game of his life Sunday night at Dodger Stadium, striking out 12 on his way to a no-hitter and a 2-0 Cubs win.
His ball danced. It ducked. It shimmied. It disappeared. And there was almost nothing the Dodgers could do about it except rely on a scorekeeper’s call to keep them from being no-hit for the second time in 10 days.
The no-hitter was Arrieta’s 14th consecutive quality start, the most for a Cubs pitcher since Greg Maddux in 1992. He was already hot coming in, but this latest outing proved him to be one of Major League Baseball’s premier aces.
“He has that kind of stuff nightly,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “It’s really crazy. The ball looks like a whiffle ball from the side. You can see the break on the slider, the cutter and the curveball.
“Right now he’s pitching at a different level. And he deserves it. This is not a surprise at all.”
Nor should it be. Arrieta was already a topic for the national media this season, and talk of the 29-year-old was ramping up as the Cubs visited markets like San Francisco and Los Angeles.
National media exists in the Midwest, and it existed in New York when he and the Cubs visited there a couple months ago. But, as Maddon noted, his star is different right now. The Cubs are legitimate playoff threats, and Arrieta is showing to be their ace.
On the Cubs’ latest road trip through the Bay Area and Southern California, the national media was out to talk to Arrieta, not just about his team’s surprising rise but about his own out-of-nowhere emergence as one of the league’s top starters.
In both cities he was posed questions about what has changed for him—what has taken him from a starter too familiar with disappointment to one capable of dominating an entire league and possibly starting a wild-card game with his team’s life on the line.
“I guess you want to get used to that kind of stuff,” Arrieta said. “It means you’ve been good for a while, right?”
His last 52 starts, not counting for the occasional hiccup, would definitely qualify as being good for more than a while. Going into this no-hitter, Arrieta, 29, had a 2.37 ERA, 0.986 WHIP and 2.42 FIP in two full seasons with the Cubs, covering the previous 51 turns.
In parts of four seasons with the Baltimore Orioles before being traded in 2013, he had a 5.46 ERA in 69 games, 63 of them starts for a right-hander who was rated as a top-100 prospect in consecutive years by both Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus.
That was a time when Arrieta was out of his baseball mind, entrenched in overthinking his delivery and what others—coaches, scouts, other pitchers—thought he should look like.
Then, as he was finding ways to rid himself of that thinking, Baltimore traded him for Steve Clevenger and Scott Feldman. The Orioles had given up on Arrieta because they needed bullpen help in the midst of a playoff run. Arrieta was not finding success in the big leagues fast enough, and Baltimore’s then-current needs trumped its desire to wait him out.
“Sometimes it’s just a change of scenery, and it can be a bit of a wake-up call for guys when they get traded,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “I don’t know his situation specifically, but I think we look at him and we know he’s a handful.”
In a way it did shake up Arrieta. It prompted him to stop thinking so much and to focus more on the art of pitching, not the mechanics of it. His delivery became freer, his fastball ticked up an mph and the rest of his arsenal fell in line.
The results were immediate.
Arrieta pitched 13 innings and allowed one run in his first two starts with the Cubs, and he finished that season with eight more starts, allowing two runs in his final two games. Then, last season, he blossomed. He was dominant in 25 starts, striking out 9.6 hitters per nine innings and giving the Cubs a 2.53 ERA in 156.2 innings, earning a ninth-place finish in the Cy Young Award voting.
The numbers say he’s been just as good this season with his 2.22 ERA and 2.57 FIP entering Sunday. The difference is he is doing it for longer—he’s pitched 183 innings this year—and for a contending team trying to secure a postseason berth.
And that ninth-place finish last season should improve considering he’s been the undisputed ace of the staff even with Jon Lester’s $155 million pact from last offseason.
“I don’t know who has better stuff,” Maddon, who saw plenty of the Baltimore Arrieta when he managed the Tampa Bay Rays before this year, said of him. “The slider’s the best. The curveball, I want to know who has a better curveball. But, to me, the biggest difference is he knows where his fastball is going.”
With it and the rest of his weaponry, Arrieta has propelled himself into the upper echelon of National League starting pitchers, along with helping the Cubs and their faithful dream of breaking their World Series curse.
With that would come entirely new forms of questions, ones Arrieta would also be perfectly happy answering.
3:30-4:00: 3:30 Foucs with Hails Franciscan Highschool
Guest: Interim Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs
at Chicago State University & Pincipal Jackson of Hales
4:00-5:00: Emanuel backs ending free garbage pickup at multi-unit buildings
Article: Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday threw his formidable support behind a plan to save $3.3 million a year by ending the free ride for more than 1,800 multi-unit residential buildings still enjoying free city garbage pickup.
In 2000, the City Council formalized a policy that requires city crews to pick up garbage at single-family homes and all residential buildings with up to four units. All other buildings were required to hire private scavenger services.
But there was a catch: Larger buildings receiving free garbage collection before that date were “grandfathered” in until the buildings were sold.
If the City Council goes along with the mayor’s plan, the Department of Streets and Sanitation would remove refuse carts at those buildings and the 1,839 affected buildings would have 90 days to hire private scavenger services to pick up their garbage.
City crews assigned to make those pickups would be reassigned to other needs, including viaduct cleaning, clearing vacant lots and emptying overflowing waste baskets.
Two mayoral allies — Budget Committee Chairman Carrie Austin (34th) and Southwest Side Ald. Matt O’Shea (19th) — first suggested repealing the “grandfather clause” to cut costs and curb abuses pinpointed by Inspector General Joe Ferguson.
O’Shea called it a long overdue, “no-brainer” of an idea to chip away at a $20 billion pension crisis that has dropped the city’s bond rating to junk status.
Emanuel agreed. The mayor has steered clear of commenting on a host of cost-cutting and revenue-raising ideas suggested by Chicago aldermen in recent weeks. But this one was such “low-hanging fruit,” as O’Shea put it, the mayor plucked it right off the tree.
“As we work to continue righting the city’s fiscal ship, we must ensure that everyone plays by the same rules. I commend Ald. Austin, Ald. O’Shea and Inspector General Ferguson for offering cost-effective solutions that will not only save money but help the city operate in a more efficient manner,” the mayor’s office quoted Emanuel as saying. Emanuel traveled to Aspen, Colorado, this week for an appearance at Fortune Magazine’s annual technology and ideas summit.
O’Shea said he’s pleased but not surprised by the mayor’s quick endorsement.
“This was an unfair practice. Some buildings were getting away with not paying for garbage pickup. Now everybody’s gonna be on a level playing field,” he said.
“The grandfather clause was looked at. It was supposed to be addressed. For some reason, it wasn’t. We’re righting a wrong.”
In June 2014, Ferguson set out to determine whether buildings benefiting from the garbage freebie were still entitled to it. What he found was alarming at a time when Chicago needs all of the revenue it can get.
Ferguson concluded Chicago taxpayers were providing the perk to 1,393 nonprofit properties at an annual cost of $3.3 million even though the City Council never authorized it. The inspector general further revealed the “grandfather list” of 1,839 multi-unit buildings still receiving free pickups at an annual cost of $3.27 million had not been updated during a six-year period ending in 2013.
As a result, Ferguson concluded the list was “inaccurate” and that Chicago taxpayers have spent millions to provide free garbage collection to multi-unit buildings that should have been picking up their own tab.
Four months ago Ferguson looked at the freebie again and concluded Streets & Sanitation still had made “no changes” nine months after promising to develop an “annual self-certification and audit process for grandfathered properties.”
If the full council follows the mayor’s lead, City Hall won’t have to bother doing an audit. The perk will be eliminated. The “inconsistent” treatment of building owners will stop. And so will the barrage of complaints that pour into Streets & Sanitation about alleys and garages blocked by an “excessive” number of carts at grandfathered buildings.
The $3.3 million savings could be the first in a series of changes to the costly system of garbage collection that Chicagoans have come to expect.
Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th), chairman of the City Council’s Black Caucus, has suggested a suburban-style garbage collection fee to minimize the need for a massive, post-election property tax increase.
Four years ago Ferguson estimated that a volume-based, “pay-as-you-throw” garbage collection fee could generate as much as $125 million a year. Chicago could raise an additional $18 million a year by imposing a blue cart recycling fee, Ferguson said then.
Emanuel ignored both ideas, apparently concerned it would be viewed as a backdoor property tax increase.
But now that the Illinois Supreme Court has overturned state pension reforms and placed Emanuel’s plan to reform two of four city employee pension funds in similar jeopardy, Sawyer has argued that aldermen may have no choice but to endure “a lot of pushback” and impose a garbage collection fee.
“All over the country and in smaller municipalities, they do pay for garbage collection,” Sawyer told the Chicago Sun-Times in mid-May.
O’Shea said he would not be surprised if Emanuel serves up a garbage collection fee as part of a smorgasbord of taxes and fees tied to his September budget.
“We’re at that point where we have to be looking at everything. Things that, in the past, we haven’t been comfortable with we need to look at. We’re in a crisis. The numbers are daunting. It’s not gonna get any easier,” the alderman said.
In yet another garbage collection wrinkle, O’Shea has suggested financial incentives to boost recycling and reduce both the number of black carts and the volume of household garbage that must be collected.
5:00-5:30: The hype on Ben Carson
Guest: American Journalist, sydicated columnist, and senoir member of the Chicago Tribune Clarence Paige
5:30-6:00: Woman’s Conference
Guest: Emila DiMenco