Best-selling author Scott Turow once described the act of being a Chicago Cubs fan as "quasi-spiritual."

He's right. Generations of Cubs fans have come and gone without ever seeing their belief in the team validated. It's been 108 years running without a title.

There's something about that blind faith that feels holy to Chicago's North Siders. Their fandom is purer and more absolute because they give of themselves over and over again and get nothing in return. (No World Series wins, at least.)

West Point - The U.S. Military Academy

UConn will not be moving to the Big 12 after all. After months of speculation, the athletic conference decided Monday to nix plans for expansion, dashing the hopes of UConn and 10 other schools who were under consideration to join.

The Red Sox and their fans will celebrate the legacy of David Ortiz during the team’s final regular season series, which begins Friday night at Fenway Park.

The day the baseball player known as Big Papi became a Boston legend is easy to pinpoint: Oct. 18, 2004.


Just after midnight, Ortiz hit a walk-off home run to prevent the Sox from being swept by the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series.

Keith Allison / flickr creative commons

So here's what happened. Lucy Nalpathanchil got a pitch from some PR person about covering David Ortiz's retirement at the end of this baseball season. And she forwarded it to Colin and me and said it sounded like our kind of show.

And Colin (a Red Sox fan) said that I (a Yankees fan) "would [expletive] hate that." And he's right. I would [expletive] hate that.

And so here we are doing that show.

Arturo Pardavila III, Flickr Creative Commons

This hour, we mourn the loss of 24-year-old Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, who died in a boat accident over the weekend. 

Tony Alter / flickr creative commons

Normally by Friday morning we've got the first one or two topics for The Nose ironed out, and we maybe spend some time hashing out what the third and fourth might be.

Not this week.

Saying it wants to make football safer for current and future athletes, the NFL is pledging to spend $100 million for "independent medical research and engineering advancements." A main goal will be to prevent and treat head injuries.

Announcing the pledge Wednesday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said it is in addition to the $100 million the league already committed toward medical research of brain injuries and chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the progressive degenerative disease that has been found in football players.

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The presidential debates are scheduled to begin this month with the first scheduled for September 26 at Hofstra University in Long Island. Donald Trump announced this weekend that yes, he would participate -now that he approves of the moderators chosen to referee the debates. 

Jonathan McNicol / WNPR

Matt Iannazzo was a baseball star at Norwalk High School, pitching them to an FCIAC title in 2007. At the University of Pittsburgh, he was an All-Conference pitcher. Out of college, Iannazzo signed with the Chicago Cubs and played two seasons near the bottom of their organization. Now he pitches for the Bridgeport Bluefish in the independent Atlantic League of Professional Baseball.

West Point - The U.S. Military Academy

The University of Connecticut appears to be on the short list of schools being considered to join the Big 12 Athletic Conference. Since the Big 12 voted earlier this summer to explore an expansion, 20 schools have emerged as possible candidates, including Brigham Young University, the University of Cincinnati, Boise State, and UConn.

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Donald Trump canceled his big speech on immigration scheduled for Thursday. It could have something to do with the comments he made to his new Hispanic advisory council suggesting he'd like to find a more "humane" approach to dealing with the undocumented immigrants he has - up to now - wanted to deport. Up to now, his supporters have been loyal despite policy pronouncements contrary to their views. Immigration may be the one area they won't tolerate a back-pedal. We talk about this and more news in politics.

Rio 2016 organizers dropped the curtain on the Summer Games on Sunday after hosting the world's elite athletes who've competed for 306 medals over the past 19 days here in Rio de Janeiro.

The closing ceremony starts at 8 p.m. local time, which is one hour ahead of Eastern Time. Because of NBC's time delay, it's airing at 8 p.m. ET and progressively later across the U.S.

No one is flying home from Rio with more medals than the U.S. women.

The full American squad — both men and women — won the most medals overall, 121, as has often been the case in the Summer Games. But first in London four years ago, and again in Rio, the U.S. women have captured most of those medals.

The U.S. women took 61, the men had 55, and there were five in mixed events, including equestrian and mixed-doubles tennis.

How good were the American women?

CaseyPenk / Wikimedia Commons

Comedy Central's "The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore" came to its hasty conclusion last night, still more than two months before the election. Gawker will shut down next week. And as of next Tuesday, NPR's website will no longer have comments sections.

Brian Williams, on the other hand, is getting a new show on MSNBC. And Jonah Lehrer's got a new book out.

The U.S. had never won an Olympic gold medal in women's freestyle wrestling. Japan's Saori Yoshida had lost only twice in 14 years of competition and was the reigning gold medalist at 53 kg (117 pounds).

But Thursday belonged to American Helen Maroulis. With a couple of quick moves in the second period, she was suddenly up 4-1 over the nearly unbeatable Yoshida. The clocked ticked down. The horn blew.

A euphoric Maroulis won the gold.

A stunned Yoshida, head tucked in her hands on the mat, had to settle for silver.

The U.S. women's water polo team will be back in the pool on Friday, hungry for a second consecutive Olympic gold medal.

The women made it to the gold medal match after a decisive victory Wednesday against Hungary in the semifinals.

I watched that game with the mother of not one, but two players on Team USA.

Leslie Fischer of Laguna Beach, Calif., was sitting poolside, watching anxiously as the Hungarian players beat up on the U.S. team, including her daughters: Makenzie, 19, and Aria, 17, who's still in high school and the youngest player on the U.S. roster.

It was a team that ran alone: The women of the U.S. 4x100-meter relay team raced by themselves under the lights of Rio's Olympic Stadium Thursday, going against the clock for a shot at the final.

The team of Tianna Bartoletta, Allyson Felix, English Gardner and Morolake Akinosun needed a time better than 42.70 seconds to reach the final.

The women posted a 41.77 — the best of any qualifier, edging Jamaica at 41.79. The result means that China's relay team, which owned a slot in the final for more than seven hours, will be left out of the race.

Barring a banana peel appearing in his lane, the Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt will likely win a third straight gold medal in the 200 meters today, at the Rio Olympics. Earlier this week, Bolt, who turns 30 at the conclusion of the games, on Sunday, picked up his third gold in the 100 meters, after smiling his way through qualifying heats with characteristic charm and seeming ease.

A day after police pulled two of Ryan Lochte's teammates off a U.S.-bound plane to discuss their claims of being robbed last weekend, we're seeing reports that the group was involved in an altercation that centered on a gas station's bathroom.

The police have scheduled a 2 p.m. ET news conference to discuss the case. But even as new details emerge, Rio 2016 spokesman Mario Andrada downplayed the case's significance at a briefing Thursday morning.

alancleaver_2000 / Creative Commons

Twenty-five years after it was first levied, what has the income tax done for Connecticut? This hour, we take a deeper look at this controversial tax -- including its impact on our state's economic and fiscal well-being.

Seven to one. That's all you need to say, and everyone in Brazil knows what you're talking about. The hopes of the South American nation were crushed when Germany humiliated a shell-shocked Brazil by that score in the semifinals of soccer's World Cup in 2014, and in Brazil no less.

Now there's a rematch.

Brazil coasted to a 6-0 win Wednesday over Honduras in one semifinal, while Germany shutout Nigeria, 2-0, in the other, setting up a showdown in the Olympic gold medal game on Saturday.

U.S. Army / Wikimedia Commons

Connecticut's own Donn Cabral ran in the Olympic 3,000 meter steeplechase final Wednesday morning. Cabral finished in ninth place -- but his U.S. teammate Evan Jager finished with a silver medal. 

The steeplechase is one of the most grueling and chaotic Olympic track and field events: seven-and-a-half laps around the track at top speed, where runners must negotiate 28 barriers and seven water jumps.

Americans Simone Biles and Aly Raisman became the first U.S. gymnasts to win gold and silver in the women's floor exercise Tuesday, beating out six other elite gymnasts to put an exclamation mark on a stellar Summer Olympics in Rio.

Great Britain's Amy Tinkler, 16, won bronze.

"I'm a little bit relieved because it's been a long journey," Biles said after winning the final women's event in Rio.

She's enjoyed all of her time in Rio, Biles said, but she also admitted to being a little worn out.

Shaunae Miller of the Bahamas won the women's 400-meter final at the Summer Olympics Monday, edging America's star runner Allyson Felix in a time of 49.44 seconds on a damp night in Rio de Janeiro.

Felix closed in on Miller in the closing meters – but she couldn't get ahead of her, finishing at 49.51. At the finish, Miller dove, or perhaps collapsed, across the line. It was a move that Felix later mirrored, as the toll of the race hit home.

Jamaica's Shericka Jackson won bronze, in a time of 49.85.

Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal is taking on the National Hockey League for what he calls "apathy and indifference" to concussions among its players.