The news on the ESPN crawl yesterday morning made me smile. I’m not above being petty or insolent and so when I saw that Ricky Williams was retiring from football at 27, I immediately realized just how totally screwed Dave Wannstedt would be feeling all day.

And then, like any good Bears’ fan, I started to wonder just what the Dolphins would give up to get Anthony Thomas. How great is this? Not only is Wanny’s quest to save his job now totally impossible, but to have even any chance he and former Bears’ front office nitwit Rick Spielman will have to come crawling to the Bears for any chance at salvaging their season?

This is almost as good as waking up to see “NL — Cardinals place Lassie Edmonds on 15-Day DL (anal perforation).” But that’ll wait until Tuesday.

There are always three possible positive outcomes for Bears’ fans on Sundays. The first of course is a win. That’s what we want most of all. Secondly, there’s a Packers loss. Hopefully one that involves the oppnent setting the record for most PATs in NFL history, or Brett Far-vuhruh leaving the field on a gurney. Third, there’s a Dolphins’ loss, hopefully one in which a sweaty, mumbling Wannstedt has to defend calling all three second half timeouts in the third quarter because he couldn’t figure out which “Dot” to bet on, on the JumboTron Dot Races.

It’s not just that Dave Wannstedt failed in his stint in Chicago, it’s that along the way, he completely destroyed what little pride the franchise had. He drafted a punter in the second round one year. The next year he used a second round draft pick on a guy who missed the season after reconstructive knee surgery. He traded for Rick Mirer!

But anybody can make a few dumb personnel decisions. Wanny was more than just that. Though the Bears’ offensive line was a sieve he stuck by his personal bobo Tony Wise. In fact, Wise is the assistant head coach in Miami and (I wish I was making this up) once stuck his hand in Wanny’s pants during a game to throw the replay challenge flag for him. Wanny’s players hated him. They didn’t trust him, and nobody ever looked dumber in a stocking cap than Dave Wannstedt.

So there.

So why is Ricky retiring? We won’t know until he gives his obligatory “exclusive” interview to Dan LeBatard, but Chris Mortensen seems to think that Ricky’s love of marijuana might have something to do with it. I think, like Robert Smith before him (not the one from The Cure), Ricky didn’t like football. I think he was just good at it and it was a way to make money. After a while, it’s just a hassle. So if you don’t love it, you just cash out. The best part of it is the timing. It completely screws the Dolphins. If he’d done it earlier they could have drafted a running back, or signed a free agent. Now there’s nothing left. It’s almost like Ricky purposely waited until Eddie George and Antowain Smith had left the market before he made the decision.

If that indeed was part of the reason for the timing of the announcement, I’d like to give Ricky a big manly hug. Then, again. Maybe I’ll just wave.

Which Cubs loss over the weekend was more frustrating? The “get a million chances to score in the last four innings and only cash in for one run” game on Saturday? Or yesterday’s “hey, let’s make Eric Milton look like Sandy Koufax” game on Sunday?

Just when the Cubs get a little momentum going they prove that it’s meaningless by throwing out the anchor on the season, again.

Admit it, when you heard that Alex Gonzalez was a late scratch for yesterday’s game you started hoping he was being traded. Don’t count on it. Nobody wants Alex. To use some inside baseball lingo, “Alex stinks.” Four times on Saturday he had chances to drive in runs, and did nothing. In a ninth inning pinch hitting appearance on Sunday he made it five straight at bats. Cooperstown asked for his bat, especially since it’s in mint condition.

But the Cubs showed some scrap, and not only avoided the no-hit bid by Milton (thanks mostly to rocket scientist Doug Glanville getting miscalculating the tangent and letting a Michael Barrett pop up drop in for the first hit), and even scored twice to tie the game.

That just let LaTroy come in and complete the implosion he’s been working on for about a month now.

There’s no good reason why LaTroy can’t close games. He throws strikes, he’s got good stuff…but he can’t do it. He’s a disaster. If you don’t make a move for a closer, at least let The Farns finally have his shot. He may also go down in flames, but at this point, what is there to lose?

What was worse, three hours of tHom Brennaman and Steve Lyons on Saturday or one solitary comment by Chip Caray yesterday? After Glanville broke the wrong way and dove and missed Barrett’s “double” the next two Cubs (Jose Macias and Alex) made outs. Then, Mark Grudzielanek singled and Chip said, “There’s a clean single up the middle, and Glanville is off the hook.” Steve Stone even sat in stunned silence for a moment before saying, “Except, Chip, had Glanville caught the ball, Mark never bats this inning.” Oops!

You know Chip wanted Milton to get the no-hitter. He was probably obsessing over what witty catch phrase to apply to the final out. My guess…”He’s done it! A no hitter! For this Milton, it’s Paradise Found!”

But then, that’s assuming Chip has ever hard of John Milton, or “Paradise Lost”, so it probably would have just as cloying, but not as intelligent. Probably something like this.

“He’s done it! A no hitter! If you take the last two letters of his last name and read them backwards that’s how many hits he gave up! No! Er…none! Whatever!”

Or, “It took 29 years and a ton of mil to no-hit the Cubs!”

The truth is, I find Milton as boring as you do. I think even Mrs. Milton found him boring. He’s kind of longwinded. But that doesn’t excuse you from doing your assigned reading. I’m not kidding! It’s my job!

Wait, where was I?

The Cubs are in Milwaukee for four games and that means they’ll score three times! How exciting.

I promised you the first Ask Andy column on Friday and it took me longer than I anticipated to get through the e-mails. (Hey, that’s plausibly true.) Anyway, you’ll really get one today. I promise.

Intrepid reader Jeffrey Goldstein sent in this link to a San Jose Mercury News column urging everyone to boycott ESPN. The guy’s right on a lot of things (saying “Good ESPN is…Harold Reynolds”) is not one of them. But for the most part he’s right. I’d like to put Mike Hall on the Budweiser Hot Seat and set it ablaze. And I’m disturbed that they let David Aldrige go. Typical.

The Cubs nearly capitalized on Glanville’s misplay…until LaTroy got a hold of things.

LaTroy and LaAlex might be on LaBench.

Will the Bears trade the A-Train for Wally Ogunleye? If only to make Jeff Joniak try and pronounce it.

Sandberg could be in next year’s Hall of Fame class. So could Ron Santo. Don’t hold your breath on either count.

Phil Rogers extolls the virtues of coke addict Paul Molitor and alcoholic Dennis Eckersley. Rogers also notes that Eck is still friends with Rick Manning even though Manning stole Eck’s first wife. Like some of you out there don’t wish that somebody’d come steal your wife?

Rick Morrissey says that both Chicago baseball teams are cursed. Whatever.

Mariotti puts down the doughnut to say that the Cubs need a closer. This is what they pay him the big bucks for.

Jeesh, even Mike Kiley got the Milton reference. Maybe Chip would have figured it out?

Todd Hollandsworth’s still not ready.

Dusty says he’s not a structural engineer. Really?

Kevin Kelley’s still bad.

I like Sports Guy, but I’d been noticing lately that he’d been including references to “The Sports Gal” in many of his recent columns. (All needlessly, too.) In his newest mailbag he…well…do we think maybe he’s had his manhood questioned a few times? I’m not saying…I’m just saying…

Peter King on Ricky Williams’ departure.

Dan Bickley says the Unit is leaving. Dan Bickley’s a nitwit, though. At least once this week you’ll hear talk that the three-way (Beltran-Wellemeyer-Harris)-Nomar-Unit trade is back on. You can bet on that.

The Big Unit expects a trade and the Phillies don’t want Kenny Lofton.

Ed Wade’s got the red-ass going.

If you see the tank…the Reds are in it.

Saddam likes muffins!

“Dr. the anesthesia isn’t working.”
“Oh, I’ll just make
some more.”

Britney’s fiance is a real winner.

Halle Berry’s…interesting.

The world’s greatest newspaper on how to become a pimp in six days.