Vitalis Pumped

He's good, baby!

TUES 12/23

Owing in no small part to his over-the-top style, Dick Vitale is probably the third-greatest college basketball announcer of his time. He's a whole lot better than the terribly overrated Billy Packer, but he can't touch the dynamic duo of Bill Raftery and the late Allie McGuire.

That said, while McGuire died a legend and Raftery's witticisms are still gold, nothing says "big game" like Dickie V's presence behind the mic. Fittingly, then, Vitale runs his mouth Tuesday for the annual Braggin' Rights game between national powerhouses Mizzou and Illinois at Savvis Center (14th at Clark streets, $30 to $90, 8 p.m., 314-241-1888). He's obnoxious and indefatigable, fer sure, but while you can count on Packer to induce a good, long Saturday afternoon nap, Vitale's booming voice is like televised crack. Forget about lying down, forget about sitting and get on your feet -- the power of Dickie V compels you, baby.

Additionally, you can catch a rare glimpse of Vitale unplugged, signing copies of his new book, Living a Dream, at the St. Louis Union Station B. Dalton (noon to 1:30 p.m., 20th and Market streets; 314-421-2616; free) before the big game. The book's foreword is penned by Mike Krzyzewski, who coached Quin Snyder when the current Mizzou head man was a guard at Duke. An omen? Only if Mizzou's sometimes shaky ballhandlers can keep stud Illini point guard Dee Brown from picking their pockets in their own backcourt. -- Mike Seely

Eyrie Call
Alton skies in fall

Why are all those cars pulling over onto the shoulder of the Great River Road in Alton? Why are all those tourists clambering from their SUVs to scan the skies with binoculars? It's not the second coming of the Piasa bird; it's the annual migration of bald eagles, south along the freezing Mississippi River -- and the eagles have already been spotted in the area. Head to www.visitalton.com (or call 800-258-6645) for some helpful hints on getting nice and close to these majestic predators. Then grab your binoculars, camera and thermos of cocoa, and head to the Great River Road -- try the stretch between the Clark Bridge and Pere Marquette State Park in Grafton. The 1,000 or so bald eagles expected to cruise through the east side apparently enjoy dive-bombing the river for fish between sunrise and 11 a.m. -- Byron Kerman

 
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