Feed the brain

Never has the sport of bowling been cooler.

From the top shelf sports memorabilia being auctioned off to Ryan Dempster’s ’70s imitation of Roy Munson–the Woody Harrelson character from the movie “Kingpin”–Kerry Wood’s Strike Zone Celebrity Bowling Tournament was the place to be.

At 10pin Bowling Lounge next to the House of Blues, Dearborn Avenue became a mini red-carpet event. The event went to benefit the the Organic School Project, which helps teach kids a broad spectrum of topics including nutrition, fitness, the environment, recycling, and respecting the earth.

However, last night seemed to serve a double purpose. Not only did it raise money for OSP, the players seemed to have a good time, too. They honestly seemed to be having plenty of fun, conversing, signing autographs, bowling, shaking hands.

I watched as Ted Lilly, spying a little girl too shy to ask for an autograph, gently bade her to approach with the baseball he eventually signed.

I saw Kosuke Fukudome, who I am told does not bowl at all, mug for photos at his lane with a handful of event sponsors, gap-toothed smile wide and welcoming. By the way, Kosuke happened to be wearing True Religion jeans, the same jeans our own Jen Dedes Nowak was wearing….

I watched as Mark DeRosa started his round with four straight spares, skunk one frame then throw two straight strikes. Pretty good, right? Well, Sean Marshall ended up beating him!

And with a day off following, they should be well-rested and de-stressed for the Cardinals.

The auction and the system with which they used to take bids was innovative. Completely digital, bidders submitted amounts on a laptop next to the item, and the top bid immediately went up on a 42″ flat screen that detailed all the bids and the bidder. If a bidder is unable to get to the laptop, roaming assistants with Ipods would enter the bids for them from the bar or their tables.

The band Hello Dave was real good, sort of a Wilco-ish feel-good rock with a bit of country mixed in. I had seen these guys often; they played at a bar at which I used to bounce in my younger years. Lakeview Links–ever heard of it?

Probably the coolest auction item was #402: A Kerry Wood and Tom Morello (Audioslave/Rage Against the Machine guitarist) autographed Gibson Epiphone Les Paul Ultra Guitar. The bid I saw was $5,200….The highest bid I saw on the display was $8,050 for two hours of hanging with actor John Cusack….

Seen: Some old Cubs like former right-handed pitcher Jason Bere, and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who was mobbed by the media.

“Hey, I’m here every year in support of Kerry and Sarah [Wood],” Cuban said. “You guys just happened to be paying attention this year.”

The team of Media Relations Director Peter Chase, media relations assistant director Jason Carr, marketing director Matt Wszolek, marketing manager Dave Knickerbocker, and centerfielder Jim Edmonds took a third-place trophy home! Apparently Edmonds has some serious game…

All in all, a worthwhile and entertaining event for a great cause. Like Cuban quipped: “It makes sense. If the kids can’t eat, they can’t learn.”

–Mike Huang


PS We just traded left-hander Scott Eyre to the Phillies for a Class-A right-handed pitcher named Brian Schlitter. As it turns out our own publications intern, Zach Martin, got a hit off of Schlitter back in high school. Zach, a baseball coach in Winnetka, had this to say about Schlitter’s stuff:

“Schlitter threw hard, but straight (like 84-86. He was still a junior). I think he threw me a tight slider as well in the AB. I got jammed a bit on an inside fastball with a two-strike count. I fought it off for a base hit over second base scoring two. It was at Maine South (which on a side note, has the single most illegal mound I have ever seen. It is like 12 feet high).”

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