Sports Column | Les Winkeler: Streams of unconsciousness from the world of sports

Sports Column | Les Winkeler: Streams of unconsciousness from the world of sports

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Survival

The most important thing about an ugly win is the game goes in the “W” column.

SIU’s venture to Evansville Wednesday night was fraught with danger. The Salukis were riding a five-game winning streak, fresh off a victory at Drake that ended a 15-game home winning streak for the Bulldogs.

Human nature suggests the Salukis might look past the Aces, who remain winless in the conference. Plus, the Ford Center has been a house of horrors for SIU in recent years. In this instance, the cliché is accurate — throw out the records when SIU and Evansville play on the Aces home court.

The game that unfolded on the Ford Center floor was precisely what seasoned Saluki fans have come to expect. It was a grinding encounter that fell somewhat short of being aesthetically pleasing. SIU led for most of the game, but predictably, never put the Aces away.

Evansville grabbed the momentum late, sending the game into overtime. With Eric McGill already on the bench with five fouls, the extra five minutes certainly favored Evansville. But, Brian Mullins’ young band of survivors regrouped and pulled out the win.

Now, the Salukis sit alone in second place in the Missouri Valley standings with just seven games to play. Four of those games are at the Banterra Center where SIU is 10-1 this season.

For a team picked last in the preseason conference poll — it's nothing short of amazing.

Role reversal

My interest in the National Football League has waned markedly since the Rams left St. Louis. Recently the only reason to watch the Super Bowl was to monitor the commercials.

To be brutally honest, most years the commercials were more entertaining than the football game.

This year was different.

Although not involved on an emotional level, I wanted San Francisco to win because of Jimmy Garoppolo. The 49ers quarterback played college football at Eastern Illinois University.

Not only had I seen him play in person, but it would strike a blow for Football Championship Subdivision football to have another quarterback lead a team to the Super Bowl title. The fact that Kurt Warner played at Northern Iowa made the Rams Super Bowl title sweeter.

Alas, the 49ers fell short. Predictably, many wags pinned the loss on Garoppolo, despite the fact the San Francisco defense gave up 21 points in the fourth quarter.

Worse yet, the commercials were pedestrian at best.

Only Bill Murray’s reprise of “Groundhog Day” for Jeep and the “Smaht pahk” ads made me smile. And, I had to wonder about the effectiveness of the “Smaht pahk” commercial. When it was over I had to go back to see the product being pitched was Hyundai.

Baseball approaches

Pitchers and catchers will soon be reporting to camp. Spring training games will be played this month.

Fans are preemptively wringing their hands, predicting a Los Angeles Dodgers vs. New York Yankees World Series based on offseason acquisitions.

It could happen. But, the baseball season is long and unpredictable.

Given the nature of the game, I’m not sure a championship can be bought. Having said that, I’ll be rooting for a World Series between two small market teams.

LES WINKELER is the former sports editor of The Southern Illinoisan. Contact him at Les@winkelerswingsandwildlife.com / On Twitter @LesWinkeler.

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