Ok, the worst of it is over.
The tough part of the Bears schedule has them and a surprising 5-3 record at this point, and it looks like the machine that is the Bears offense is finally running on all cylanders, especially after a Monday Night Football bashing of sports newest "dream team", the Philadelphia Eagles.
Jay Cutler, newly cemented back in his relationship with Kristin Calvilari was also newly cemented in the pocket, as he stayed home and made good passes all day without being pressured too much nor sacked. The offensive line has finally come around, protecting Cutler like a mama Bear protecting her cubs. Speaking of protecting, Cutler's favorite reciever returned, Earl Bennett, and Jay made sure to find him when he needed him the most, inc luding for a touchdown. Matt Forte has taken his new contract crusade to primetime, convincing millions that he is one of the elite running backs in football. Well, except for that whole goal line, short yardage,issue. Luckily the Bears have Marion Barber to cler that up.
With the team on a 3-game winning streak, they have built up momentum for thier showdown next weekend with the NFL's newest most hated team, the 6-2 Detroit Lions. The Lions, who are 4-0 on the road, travel to Chicago next weekend.The Lions currently sit in 2nd place in the Central, with the undefeated Super Bowl champions Green Bay Packers in 1st. The Bears need this win to gain some respect and help clear up a very crowded play-off picture. The Bears took it on the chin hard in the last game against Detroit 13-24, but at that point the Bears offensive line looked more like the stars of the new Muppet movie than actual football players. lets hope this time around things will be different.
and for those of you who think Brian Urlacher is past his prime, guess who lead the Bears in double-digit tackles this week.
After this weekend the bears will head west - playing the AFC's west division, including the angry Philp Rivers of San Diego, the reason Jay Cutler got traded from Denver in Matt Cassell from KC, Carson Palmer of Oakland, who 3 weeks ago was spending Sundays ordering Subway and going to brunch with Payton Manning, and football jesus himself, Denver's Tim Tebow.
I was there for Bartman. I was there when we won the division, when we won the wild card; I was there when Marky Mark made his debut, I was also there when he got hit in the elbow. I was showered in champagne by Derrek Lee when we made the play-offs, it was our year! I’ve sat in the stands for hours with Billy Williams, traded daily barbs with Ron Santo, annoyed poor Pat Hughes, shook my head at Joe Carter, traded bands with Len Kasper (listen to the gufs!) and ran away from Ernie Banks…. I was there for the collapse of Wood/Prior\Zambrano/Maddux. I’ve seen Corey and Eric Patterson come and go. I remember Bobby Hill. I remember Nic Jackson. I was there when they no longer trusted Dusty. I was there when Sweet Lou arrived.
I believed in Michael Barrett, Carlos Zambrano, and Ryan Theriot. I witnessed the return of Kid K. I was there when we signed Notre Dame's best reciever. I was there for the resurrection of Ryan Dempster. I believed in Soriano. I believed. I was there when Sweet Lou felt sour. I was there when it all came apart for Marky Mark. I was there when Carlos came apart. I survived both the Alfonseca era and LaTroy Hawkins era. I can tell you Milton Bradley is in deed as friendly as he looks. I was there when Farnsworth...well, nevermind. Andy promised it. Hendry promised it. Even McDonough promised it. I’ve worked for numerous owners, from the Tribune, Sam Zell, to the Ricketts family. In that time nothing has changed, yet everything is not the same. I guess what I’m trying to say is we’ve come a long, long way baby, and its gonna take more than signing Theo Epstein for me to start believing again.
Granted it’s a great start. Theo Epstein had a very successful run in Boston, and his crew of guys worked their tails off to bring a competitive team to Boston (and San Diego) every year…not just to contend but also to play for a world series every year. That’s quite a task, and only a few teams realistically have that structure in place to compete on that level year after year after year. And now we’re to believe the Cubs are ready to become one of these teams (again)?
I really am full of optimism. Epstein has said the right things, has the right attitude, hired the right people, not brought back the right people... and is putting together a team/front office that will set the Cubs organization up to compete for years to come. And yes, that’s exciting, but I’ve seen a lot of pigs in my time. Some of those pigs have been very pretty; some of those pigs have just been god-awful ugly. No matter how you dress that pig up, it’s still a pig. And this little piggy has been dressed up pretty on numerous occasions, and still hasn't learned to fly.
Epstein has to get to work soon, and that starts with two key members of the 2011 ball-club. Ryan Dempster and Aramis Ramirez have been dealt with, and who's at 3rd is going to be a brilliant question. same for Mike Quade and Ryne Sandberg. Who's in the hot seat when the season start will be a monumental decision to start the Epstein era. I don’t doubt the decisions to be made by Epstein and his team. Yeah, I know what I said earlier, but lets just see how pretty this pig can be before we go making any big decisions.
Another good start is focusing on the pitching staff. In Boston, the pitching staff was not only built up to compete with the Yankees, but to be the best in baseball. The Cubs have some great young arms in the bullpen, but with Zambrano gone and not having a true number 5 starter all season long, an upgrade is necessary. Yeah, it’s true I like Casey Coleman, and Randy Wells seems like a really nice guy, but the Cubs have been inconsistent and less than threatening since Ted Lilly left town. And while picking up this new Japanese sensation to fill your number one slot seems like a good idea, Theo should look into some more solid, proven veterans.
Veterans like CJ Wilson and Roy Oswalt would be a welcomed addition to tighten up the pitching staff, don’t you think? And forget about Pujols and Fielder arriving to Wrigleyville as future residents, the Cubs have Carlos Pena and Brian LaHar. Finding another big bat is a huge step, along with answering what to do with Soriano, Colvin, Woody, and even Reed Johnson. Is it really time for the Brett Jackson era to finally start???
Theo Epstein has been given many titles since arriving to Chicago, but he’s going to have to have an incredible off-season if he is to be the Cubs’ newest savior.
Yikes! I just got the chills from reading my buddy Ken Payne’s article about H.H. Holmes, America’s 1st serial killer right here from Chicago (we’re number 1!). This Screams in the park thing sounds like a very scary adventure, much like the Chicago bears offense, which is spending the weekend in merry ole’ England taking on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Ah, yes chap the Bucs. Remember when Tampa Bay just sucked? I mean they were bad, worst than bad; they were a team your grandma and her friends from the assisted living home to give a game to. And then they got good for a while, just a little bit, and then back to Suckville, USA. Right now, Tampa Bay kind of hangs out in Suckville and Under-rated City. Is it weird that in this weird land the Bucs reside that there’s a pirate ship? Nah, its very normal.
The Bucs have a pair of big receivers in Mike Williams and Arnelious Benn, which could be a problem for our little-guy defensive backs. Since we’re talking about the secondary, have you noticed the mess that Lovie Smith has created back there? Headhunter Brandon Meriwether is on the bench, while Chris Harris, the same Chris Harris who we were counting on to be a steady force at safety, the same Chris Harris who the bears were dying to get back after he got injured early in the season, is now the same Chris Harris that resides in street clothes and inactive, begging for a trade after being demoted and de-activated last week after missing a coverage the week before. Mind you Harris is still a little injured and came back to help the team. Guess we’ve all learned a lesson there. Both of these guys were brought in because Major Wright isn’t ready yet. Well guess what, the still not ready for prime-time Wright is starting now…oh Lovie.
Anyway this is about the Bucs. At running back is LeGarrette Blount, who is young and has potential game-breaking power. He gets blocking by the capable Earnest Graham, who at one time led the NFL in rushing. This provides issues for the bears as quarterback Josh Freeman has yet to be figured out by the league. Not quite a runner, not quite a stay at home guy, Freeman is no longer under anyone’s radar. He’s good. He’s young, fast, and has quite the arm. Is he Rodgers or Brady yet? No, but given the right circumstances or right defense he could look like a quarterback on the verge of stardom.
Freeman spent a portion of last week’s game against the Oakland Raiders fighting with his favorite target, tight end Kellen Winslow. There’s lots of frustration between the two, and a little Bears' agitation could knock either player off their game.
The Bears offensive line had one of their better games, finally finding a line-up that’s steady and works, which will have its hands full with the youthful speedsters the Bucs have. No big names on this front seven, but all with potential to get to the quarterback. This team was built to pressure the ball and stop the pass, which means the Bears could take advantage of the versatility Matt Forte provides. While using all our weapons at wide out seems fair, it’s Forte where the offense moves, and that can’t be over-looked.
The Bears should have the crowd on their side, as everyone loves the Bears (sorry Cowboys, and suck it Green Bay), plus if you lived in Tampa why the hell would you want to leave there and go to rainy England? Unless the Queen is requesting to see you, or Elton John has written a song about you, it’s probably best you stay home, Bucs fans. You saw what happened to Al Bundy when he went there. Same thing happened to Chevy Chase and his family. Don’t let that be you.
The Bears look at this as a business trip, as there will be no sightseeing tours or visiting of the Paul McCartney or the Jonas brothers (is this where they live?). Just business as usual, much like their waxing of the Vikings last weekend. If Jay Cutler can command the offense like that once again, and the offensive line keeps the ship upright, the Bears should have no issues moving the ball. Now whether the defense stops anyone or anything is a whole other story entirely. Carry on, chaps.
I know baseball has been dead and gone in Chicago for quite some time now, but how come we still seem to be the center of the baseball universe…or is it the eye of the hurricane? Either way its been an interesting October for Chicago baseball.
So Ozzie Guillen is no longer the manager of the Chicago White Sox. We always knew this day would come, it’s the how he’d go most people wondered. Fired was a given. And you knew there was no way he’d go out with a wimper, but more of a roar, and that’s exactly what happened. I imagined him leaving the craziest way possible, mf’ing everyone in a 200 foot distance on his way out the door, his sons taking everything not tied down, punching GM Kenny Williams in the face just before kicking Sun Times beat writer Joe Cowley in the nuts. again, this is what I envisioned.
It didn’t exactly go down like that, then again I wasn’t that far off. Who trades their manager? Ozzie’s big tirade about doing the job for money was pretty much the undertaker putting the final touches on a dead career as White Sox manager. At that point Ozzie knew he was gone. He was done, finished, kaput. He even had his goodbye already posted online before it was officially announced. Again, who trades their manager?
Oh White Sox, how silly can you be. Its amazing how wonderfully f’ed up the top of that organization is, and that says a lot from where I come from! Over on my side of town Theo Epstein is coming to run the place…but we’ll get into that later. For now let’s stay on the crazy that has become the White Sox.
So after the Ozzie/Kenny war finally comes to an end, Kenny keeps up his part of just being insane by announcing Robin Ventura as the new skipper. What? Ever see the movie Major League? I bet the conversation of Kenny asking Ventura to be manager was much like the GM in Major League calling up a tire shop and asking Lou (the tire shop manager) to come back and manage the big league team. I loved Robin…as a White Sox 3rd baseman playing with Frank Thomas and Jack McDowellback in the 90’s. I even loved him after he got beat up by Nolan Ryan. But as White Sox manager? Um….and unfortunately this is one of the few things Joe Cowley has gotten right.
You see Cowley at his job at the Sun Times (which at one point was my favorite newspaper to read for sports) seemed to be on this crusade to throw alcohol on the fire that was the Ozzie/Kenny feud. But he called Kenny out for attempting to thumb his nose up at all of us in proving that he’s the smartest guy in the room, and that he can get anyone ANYONE to do this job. BTW The Sun Times kinda sucks now…even the wrestling column sucks. Who messes up a column on professional wrestling???? Even still, Cowley got this one right on the head: Kenny thinks he's much smarter than we are.
Which leads us to more crazy….at the press conference announcing Ventura as manager K Dub as i am now calling him (sorry Kerry Wood), tells a story of thinking of asking 1st baseman Paul Konerko to be the player/manager. WTF??? You don’t even say that kind of crazy outloud, even if you did give it some thought. Poor Konerko, he wants no part of the job, or even to answer silly phone calls even remotely asking such a stupidquestion. Is that really what you thought, Kenny?
Again its at this point when you realize K Dub really thinks he can get ANYONE to do this job. That means on any given night this past summer after a White Sox game, SCORE670 am radio host Jason Goff had a shot to be manager after saying something insightful. That means Joe from Lockport, who can barely make it to 2nd base for his softball team without needing a pinch runner or farting himself to death, had a shot to be manager. That means even you, YES YOU WITH THE FACE, even you had a shot to be the new White Sox manager!!!
Now if I’m White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf its at this point I ask K Dub to get in the car, drive out to a nice far away open field, and put Kenny Williams the White Sox General Manager out of his misery. Thanks for playing, Kenny…and don’t stop believin’!
Speaking of believing, Theo Epstein is coming to the northside to bring the Cubs their 1st world series title in 100 or so years. He’s going to do the impossible. Just like Dusty Baker, Andy McPhail, Alfonso Soriano, Mark Prior, and Lou Piniella before him…he’s the one that’s going to take us to the promised land. It’s only a matter of time before…ugh, I’ve been on this ride so many times its almost impossible to actually get excited anymore.
I do like what the moves shows, and that’s a new direction for the Cubs organization as a whole, however there’s just soooo many questions and things that need to happen. The ball has to bounce just right for good things to start happening again at Wrigley, and while I believe the Ricketts and Epstein have the best of intentions and want to win, neither plays 3rd base or can throw a 100 mph fastball. Last I heard Theo wasn’t closing any games, which means Carlos Marmol is still around. Plus a new GM is one thing, but who's the new manager going to be? After the dust settles not to hire Cubs legend Ryne Sandberg for some big league job would be un-acceptable.
I’m glad Theo has arrived, but I’ve seen this movie before. The Titanic never makes it to its destination, Bambi’s mom still gets killed, that kid still shags a pie, and Jason still manages to come back no matter how many times you kill him. Call me when the winning starts.
I’ve been gone way too long, or in the case of the bears, not gone long enough. I knew my reporting on the recent misery of the Bears season would be skewered into the land of negativity, so why bother talking about it. What more could I tell you about a bad Bears team. Well unfortunately Monday’s lost to the once-league laughing stock Detroit Lions could be the sign of the rapture finally coming to Halas Hall.
Its fine that you lose to the lions, they are playing really good football this season, but you don’t go out there and embarrass yourselves on national television, which is what they did. If I’m a free agent or any player or rookie on the market next off-season there’s no way in hell I’d want to play for an organization like this…not under this regime.
One point in the pre-season general manager said he was more than happy with the offensive line he had in camp. I wonder if he still feels that way. He should have asked jay cutler what he thought about the men who are supposed to protect him. There was one play during Monday night’s game where a bears lineman (who will remain nameless because he will probably be a former bears lineman by the time this is published) barely laid a hand on the defensive end in front of him, who threw Cutler to the ground 100th time, and the lineman looks down at Cutler like it’s jay’s fault. Impressive. And its not just this guy, it’s a continuous suck that the line as a whole has been. You can’t blame cutler anymore. He could have quit on this team, the fans, everyone…but he keeps going out there, getting his ass kicked every game, and doesn’t say a word. He could be mf’ing those linemen up and down the sideline every game, but nope, he just goes out and tries to win with what life has given him…poor guy.
And the blame is to be spread around. Notice any pressure coming from the defensive line lately besides Julius peppers? Just like the linebacker slot there’s no depth on the defensive line. Somehow this is supposed to be okay?
And if you haven’t realized what an ass-clown Brandon Meriwether is you just haven’t been paying attention. He doesn’t tackle he just throws himself into people to knocked them out…or get fined which is what has been happening the past few weeks, and that’s only when he gets the play right. Speaking of getting the play right, when Cutler has to yell at you to get in line or physically put you in the right spot something is truly wrong.
Jerry Angelo’s ship isn’t just going down, its on fire and being blasted by pirate ships. These were his decisions; he decided not to upgrade the offensive line. He decided the defense didn’t need more depth. He decided that Roy Williams was a good idea. He decided to draft Major Wright. And for all of this Jerry Angelo deserves to be fired. And take Lovie with you.
This weekend’s game against Minnesota will be no different. The bears will show life, but expect the Vikings to blitz and pressure cutler like madmen, as the bears have proven they can’t handle the pressure. Look for Jared Allen to have a great day. I’d love it if the Bears showed some kind of life, but after the Monday night debacle, I’m not expecting much of a fight.
The Chicago Bears won’t be able to take a victory lap just yet after blowing up the Atlanta Falcon’s in week 1. With the status of all-pro linebacker Brian Urlacher in limbo after his mother’s death, and the highly touted New Orleans saints offense headed their way, clearly there’s no rest for the wicked.
The Bears offense moved well up and down the field, with quarterback Jay Cutler utilizing all his weapons at one point. Whether it was Johnny Knox, Matt Forte, Roy Williams, Devin Hester, even tight end Matt Spaeth got in the mix – Cutler looked more confident and relaxed running the Martz offense for once. That could only improve once top wide-out Earl Bennett gets involved more and tight end Kellen Davis gets more comfortable being on the field. Plus don’t overlook the great job fullback Tyler Clutts did, and could really pay dividends once running back Marion barber becomes healthy enough to play.
Things weren’t all sunshine and lollipops, as the offensive line could keep Cutler off the ground, and Lance Louis was injured and replaced by Chris Spencer. Look for Spencer to get the start against the saints this week. Also with Urlacher possibly out for Sunday and no depth at all at the linebacker position, some questions needs serious answers ASAP!
Chances are Urlacher will come back to play on Sunday. Urlacher is still one of the best players in football and his impact on their week 1 victory goes without saying. He’s the face of the franchise and the team leader. His impact on the team is noticeable in the win-loss column as well. The Bears record without Urlacher is…well, you don’t want to know.
So lets get to the Bears next opponent: The New Orleans Saints. Sure they Saints lost to Green Bay in week 1, however their offense was impressive, and quarterback Drew Brees was impressive as usual. They put up 34 points and racked up a total of 477 yards. They use 3 running backs - Darren Sproles, Pierre Thomas, and Mark Ingram. The offensive line isn’t great, but they know their job, which is to protect Brees at all costs. The Falcons had the same idea but were hit with injuries, so the Bears defensive line took full advantage pressuring qb Matt Ryan all game and sacking him 5 times. Brees is in that same mode, however definitely more mobile that Ryan. In fact Drees could be considered one of the top 3 quarterbacks in football right now. But again, his protection is skeptical, and with former bear center Olin Kruetz rumored to be banged up the bears could take advantage once again.
Lance Moore and Marques Colston are big weapons at wide receiver for Brees but they both will be out this week (Moore is listed as possible), Still tight end Jimmy Graham, Devery Henderson, and Robert Meachum are threats and don’t miss many passes their way so they must be respected.
The Saints defense got lit up true, however they do have potential. The Saints secondary is capable but not great. They are athletic and get to the ball pretty quick, but they can be exploited. The line backing corp. is also good but not great. There is potential here, however as Will Herring and Illinois stud Martez Wilson get a lot of reps, while Jonathan Vilma leads the defense from the middle. There’s nothing scary about the defensive line except nose tackle Shaun Rodgers, but they have some young defensive ends who do have potential. Plus Shaun Ellis is there, and he was good at one point in his career. That’s gotta help!
In the end the game all depends on how the Bears defense handle Drew Brees. The Bears have lost 4 out of the last 5 trips to the Superdome, and Brees is an offensive juggernaut. While he may not have a complete arsenal to play with, if the bears don’t handle the run game well, and give Brees time to find his limited supply of receivers then things could get messy. Cutler and Martz need to stick with the game plan they had in week one and throw different looks and receivers at the Saints, while punishing the saints interior with a strong game from Forte and Barber.
"Picture if you will
That the throne was burning
Rome was burning
And I'm sitting in the corner all alone burning
Why does it always end up like this?"
Jay-Z from "Watch the Throne" album
It's hard to imagine that The Chicago Bears were the division champions, even more that they went to the NFC championship game and almost pulled off the upset with their 3rd string quarterback playing most of the 2nd half. That's if you listen to what the critics and "experts" have to say. These "experts" would have you believe that Green Bay is going to storm through the division, the Detroit Lions are ready to finally assend to the play-offs, Donavan McNabb will give the Vikings a huge life and surprise everyone, and the Bears...well the Bears are just old and can't protect their gun-slinging qb.
Why all the hate when not much has changed with the Bears, you ask? Well some things have changed, yep some things have definitely changed.
Jay Cutler is still our quarterback (hey Washington enjoy that Rex Grossman thing you got going over there...it gets even more after the 4th game) for the time being. He will remain the Bears qb unless Mike Martz finally kills him. Head coach Lovie Smith has decided to live and die by his offensive coordinator, which may eventually find him going down much like the band on the Titanic. "Live and die" is a key phrase as Cutler almost did just that a few times last season, as Martz' offensive schemes provided little to no protection for Cutler, as the New York Giants will tell you (9 sacks and a concussion later). Its not completely his fault, the Bears wanted to stick with Greg Olsen as their tight end, and Martz isnt fond of using the TE spot for much more than blocking. Unfortunately Olsen was Cutler's favorite target, so when world's collided Olsen stayed, Cutler got concussed, and the two awful free agents signed for Martz to help the offense (both who shall remain nameless for their nameless play) did absolutely nothing andwere sent packing along with Olsen.
Oh, the offensive line didnt help any...but that goes without saying.
So here's what's new: running back Marion Barber is a bruising back brought in to help take the load off starter Matt Forte. Forte is a do everything back, but he takes a beating. Barber gives out beatings, or at least he used to. He had a horrid season in Dallas last year, but has looked tough for the bears in pre-season. Speaking of used to, the Bears brought in another Dallas reject in Roy Williams for their starting wide reciever spot. Williams was a Pro Bowler back when he played for Martz in Detroit back in the day, however i was 3Olbs lighter then, and Justin Beiber was just learning how to spell. Yes Williams was a a great reciever for a year, but he's spent those other years in the league being an under-achieving ball-dropping aligator-arms out of shape crybaby. You would think after getting dumped by Dallas that he'd be ready to go and prove his worth, yet he came into camp and spent the entire pre-season out of shape. Sweet.
This move also put Johnny Knox on the bench, which is a no no. The Bears quickly lit a fire in Knox with that move, and he's out to prove he's Chicago's best reciever (and a fantasy football stud might I add). Truth be told play-in and play-out Earl Bennett is the best reciever, steady as she goes every game, while devin Hester can change a game in an instant. Look for rookie Dane Sazenbacher to make an impact as well as he's gotten a lot of looks in the pre-season. Here's what you need to know about the Lovie Smith era in a nutshell: the Bears have Hester and Williams listed as starters yet they will probably get most of their production from bench players Knox and Bennett.
The Bears cut ties with Greg Olsen and Olin Kruetz, two huge losses. The thinking is to go younger and bigger, with Kellen Davis and Matt Spaeth being bigger, physical TE's in more of the blocking mode, while Chris Spencer was brought in to play center. Unfortunately the younger and bigger Spencer is playing center on the bench as the Bears moved Roberto Garza in Kruetz' role. The hope is that youngers Lance Louis and J'Marcus Webb finally develop into the large athletic beasts Lovie hopes they can be, and for his on safety Cutler hopes so too. Its a risky gamble, much like taking out the Death Star in Star Wars. If or when this plan blows up look for Spencer to move into the line-up and Garza to take his former role at guard, which he excelled at.
With all that said things don't sound tyoo bad do they? And that's just the offense.
The Bears defense will always be given respect wether they deserve it or not, and there were more than a few games where the D was lit up like X-mas trees. This is an older group, some still in their prime, but their best players are significantly older. Brian Urlacher will always be the key to things. If he's playing his best game and healthy and allowed to roam and cause havok then the Bears will be ok. That's alot of "and's", I know (sorry English teachers).Teams have known for years they can't block Julius Peppers with one lineman, and with Israel Idonije on the other end we just might get double digit sacks from a defensive lineman for the first time in years. But it starts in the middle, and thats where questions come in. When former bear Tommy Harris was healthy he dominated the inside, and made it tough for teams to run or to give the qb any space to breathe. But that was then. The Bears need a productive season by Anthony Adams, as well as Matt Toeaina, and Henry Melton if they are to live the glory that is formerly Tommy Harris. At his best Harris was one of the league's best. If the Bears could just get an once of that from their insidemen it could completely change the flow of games. Also new to the team is Amobi Akoye, released from Texas because of a defensive scheme change, Okoye showed great signs in the pre-season and had a nice season in Texas last year. He's young and could be just what the doctor ordered.
More questions come in after you get past the line. Ever wonder what happens if Lance Briggs or Brian Urlacher get hurt? Briggs...ugh, don't even let me get started with Briggs. Yes he's one of the NFL's best, and may even be the team's best linebacker right now, but come on, dude! Nobody has whined more to rthe press about nothing more than Briggs. Hopefully its not a distraction to the team. The Bears are noticeably thin at Linebacker, with Nick Roach taking the other starting spot by default. Long gone are steady players Hunter Hillenmeyer and pisa Tsawhateveryournameis, and depth will be an issue. You can't keep these guys on the field all game long can you? can you? Really? Oh boy. Brian Iwuh is the lone back up at most linebacker positions...uh oh again. Look for the Bears to re-sign Pisa Tssawhateveryournameis after week 1, as contracts aren't garuanteed then..
"Old and good" also comes in the former of Charles Tillman. I have nothing but good things to say about "Peanut", but he needs help. Tim Jennings had a good season, yet Jennings is small and not a true starter. he's a journeyman,a fill-in, a superior fill-in, but not a shut-down corner. Same can be said for Zachary Bowman, who's potential break out season we are still waiting for. The bears seem to trust Corey Graham only on special teams, while DJ Moore is still developing. As for the saftey position, "still waiting on him to develop to his true potential" is a phrase often used to describe major Wright. The Bears think he can be a very special player...and then went out and signed Brandon Meriweather. Chris Harris is the other starter but he's a free agent next season. As for Meriweather, its a great pick-up, as he's a total ballhawk and has a great motor, however you must be weary of guys released by football genius Bill Belichick, especially starting pro-bowlers. Hmm, why dont they want him, I guess the Bears will have to find out for themselves, until then he fills a tremendous hole in their secondary.
No need to worry about special teams, the Bears are one of the league's best, if not the best.
So that brings us to the season-opener against Atlanta. The Falcoln's quarterback Matt Ryan is one of the best and has the weapons to prove it. His team is built on speed and built just for him. Running back Michael Turner is a great small back but he's not going to break through the middle anytime soon. He needs space to be dangerous, but for a little guy he finds wholes quickly and explodes. Roddy White is one of the league's best at reciever, while tight end Tony Gonzales is still around and still catching touchdowns. Rookie Julio Jones might figure to be in the running for rookie of the year. He has so much speed and potential, and can change a game in seconds. Their line is big and ugly, but not dominant. Center Todd McClure is out with an injury, and they have a kid making his 1st NFL start in his place. It gets worse for the Falcolns as right guard Harvey Dahl will also miss the opener, leaving it up to rookie Garrett Reynolds to deal with Peppers. Good luck, kid you're gonna need it. Still, the Falcolns know their job: give Ryan time to throw the ball at all costs. They can be over-matched and over-powered, as there's no superstars on the line, but Ryan does get rid of the football very quickly.
As for the Falcolns defense, they too suffer from good but old syndrome. Alot of their players are good, and in theory, still in their prime...kinda. But there's no longer any stud players on the defense, just a bunch of steady players, who once in a while can surprise you. They dont make many mistakes and have good depth, but again, can be beaten. They are veterans and generally capitalize on most mistakes, but If the Bears offense doesnt give them any gift turnovers they should be fine.
So fans Rome may be burning for Lovie, but its definitely a slow burn. Let's just hope Martz' changes dont help fuel the fire.
Wait til next year....ugh. I haven't been a Cubs fan that long but I'm damn tired of hearing that phrase. My allegiance has been strong over the last 10 years (yes it's true I have southside roots and even possibly rookie cards of Robin Ventura and Frank Thomas somewhere in my room back at mom's place, but I lived and died with Cubbie blue for a while now) and after a while it takes a toll on you. i'm tired of waiting...Ive enjoyed too much success and wishful thinking to be stuck in this pool of disapointment and despair. Ive enjoyed the feeling of knowing we're only a few outs away of going to the world series and being sprayed with champagne in the dugout by Derrek Lee and Ryan Dempster only to feel the tragedy of watching Mark Prior catch a line drive to the elbow, or knowing there's absolutely no fight in our dog as we played the Dodgers in the play-offs. I wanna walk into Wrigley field knowing there's hope, knowing there's a chance...that circus atmosphere, a packed house everyday, and hearing that damn song at the end of games..."Go Cubs Go"...but how do we get there? How do we get that all back? I have a few suggestions.
1. Hire Kim Ng as the new Cubs GM. Lets start at the top. Wanna really make a statement, well this is it. And not a statement for statement's sake, this is a well-deserved over-due statement. My friend Julie has always told me it was her dream to be Cubs GM, and I always wrote it off as just talk. Baseball is mired in tradition...the old boys network. A woman GM? Yes. Now while it would be cool to hire Ng just for the sake of being the first woman general manager in baseball, thats also the same reasoning some people voted for Obama for president. I voted for Barak because he was qualified, and the same can be said for Ng. Kim Ng is currently the senior Vice president for Baseball Operations for MLB. She graduated for the University of Chicago and at one point worked to the White Sox. She has been the assistant GM for both the Dodgers and the Yankees. You dont just luck into those positions. She's interviewed for a couple of other jobs in the past and all agree that she's more than qualified and ready. Cubs owner Tom Ricketts wants to make a statement that this is a new era, well there isnt a better way to say that than hiring Ng.
2. Hire a new skipper. Now let me just say I like Mike Quade, he's not the best manager but he's out there trying. He means well, its not a job you can be perfect at. Hell, even the best managers get fired in every sport. (Chicago loves Mike Ditka...yet Ditka was canned for a horrid 5-11 season too). That just happens. You understand that he's doing one of the toughest jobs in sports, right? The team hasnt won won a world series in over 100 years and he's the guy we're counting on to lead us to the promised land??? You really think there's no pressure that goes with managing the Chicago Cubs? Ha. We're lucky he didnt shoot himself...do you know how many homeruns Ramirez and Pena hit the first two months of the season? The fact that he even showed up everyday after the April and may they had should get him another gig somewhere else.
We need new blood, a new voice, a new feeling...and no I'm not talking about Ozzie Guillen (although that would be crazy, wouldnt it? Too bad Ozzie hates Wrigley Field like garbagemen hate the day after Christmas). While a big name would be cool, thats the old way...big name managers have gotten us where exactly? Close but no cigar, and then....splat! The Red Sox knew the answer, they didnt hire a big name, they hired someone who knows baseball...someone who knows how to win, knows the ins and out of the game. In that spirit I give you one candidate: Torey Lovello.
Lovullo is currently coaching 1st base in Toronto, so lord help him he needs rescuing. He played in the majors for a while and was Triple A manager for the Red Sox organization. Lovullo has been considered ready to manage in the major leagues for the last few years and is known as a great communicator who loves to play aggressive baseball, putting pressure on the opposition with steals and hit-and-runs.
If you dont plan to bring in Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi, Joe Torre is just too old for you, and you're still not sold on the whole Ryne Sandberg for manager idea, this is certainly the way to go.
3. Hello Goodbye Carlos. You say goodbye (Zambrano), and I say hello again (Pena). You need to change the vibe of the clubhouse. I mean, any dude that can get into a fight with Derrek Lee cant be someone you want to keep around. And people despite punching AJ in the face trust me when I tell you this: Michael Barrett is a great guy who no one else wants to puch in the face. On that note, remember how the team said the clubhouse was much better when Sammy left? As for Pena, he may not be Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder, but he gets on base and somehow has over 20 homeruns despite hitting barely .200 all year. Plus winning baseball starts in the clubhouse, and Pena is one of the most respected guys on the team and regarded as a team leader. He's out there everyday and his teammates like him, plus he does get on base. besides who's going to replace him, Tyler Colvin?
Speaking of clubhouse leaders, you're also going to want to bring back Kerry Wood and Ryan Dempster...just sayin'.
4. Speaking of replace.....its time to make room for Tony Campana and Reed Johnson. no more of this 4th and 5th outfielder stuff, these guys deserve more initial playing time, and if that means eating a part of Marlon Byrd's or Alfonso Soriano's salary, then do it.
5. Who's on 3rd? Remember the disaster that was 3rd base throughout the 90's? Anyone remember Gary Scott? It took the Cubs how many years to find an everyday 3rd basemen? While Ramirez does go down at least once a year, not including his start of the season slump ( I'm not sure if he even brought a bat to the plate during April). ARam leads the team in most offensive stats and there's no one on the market that can replace that, especially at 3rd base. You really have no other option but to keep him for another year or two, at least until someone in the farm sysytem is ready...or at least qualified to take over. As for free agent options, well you could always bring back Mark DeRosa....would you like that, ladies???
6. Have I mentioned it's time to play the kids? Colvin and Campana both need a shot at more time and need to have a great winter and spring. Its time to live and die with your young pitchers, Chris Carpenter, Casey Coleman, and Andrew Cashner. No more part time duty, its now or never for these guys to step up. You put the emphasis on Russell and Samardzija and look what happened.
Its also time to figure out if youre ready for the Brett Jackson era to start. Youre never gonna know unless you give him his shot, and there doesnt seem to be a better time than 2012.
.....and on that note 7. C.J. Wilson. You need a stud pitcher, someone other teams fear, a stud in the rotation. remember when teams would talk about not wanting to go up against Kerry Wood and Mark Prior? Well Wilson, who is a free agent when the year ends, is that kid. Already one of the best pitchers in baseball, not only does he not like playing in Texas (he's publically said he hates pitching there and doesnt like the lack of fan support) but is also "straight edge". Isn't current WWE superstar and Chicago native CM Punk a Cubs fan and "straight edge" too? I'm just sayin...maybe they could hang?????? Seriously, Wilson is just hitting his prime and still young....do whatever it takes and grab this kid now!
Either way if you're going to spend, start and stop with CJ Wilson.
Sounds like an easy fix, right? oh Mr. Tom Ricketts, you know I love you and think youre doing a great job (this is me trying not to get fired here, btw...) but this is just a few helpful suggestions from someone's who's boarded this Titanic, sank with it, and survived.
(P.S. Number 8 is personal - just as last year will it kill the organization to put some chocolate or strawberry milk in the pressbox lunchroom, please????)
"Just a small town girl..." I know, I know, its a southside thing, but its still baseball season in Chicago. So what the Bears have hit training camp, there's still a division title to be had and a a world series celebration like this town has never seen in the horizon (unless you're a Sox fan, where that 2005 party was pretty f'n cool).
So let's ruin your pres-season football plans by informing you that YES indeed the White Sox are still in the play-off hunt. Forget just how bad Adam Dunn and Alex Rios are and focus on the winning ( and don't focus on the beating potential play-off opponent New York Yankees dished out on them on four consecutive days). Winning is contageous, and finally sweeping rival Minnesota is a huge start. Getting stud Jake Peavy on track is another plus, and the bullpen getting their act together also gives the southsiders alot of hope for the fall.
But the surprise of it all comes from the north. Its hard to beilieve the Cubs aren't dead in the water yet, but they aren't....and much like a fish out of water they keep fighting and fighting to make their way back in.
That seven game winning streak was far from a fluke, as if you look at it the Cubs possess one of the best bullpens in baseball. James Russell and Jeff Samardizja and two big flame-throwers who are hitting their stride at the best time. Both have been lights-out many times and have carried the load for a usually left for veterans Sean Marshall and Kerry Wood. Thats not to say KW and marshall haven't done their part, as they were there early on when the team really needed them. Even Rodrigo Lopez has stepped up.The former Baltimore phenom has given the Cubs more than what they've expected...a small blessing in dusguise. I still have faith in the bullpen, as their experience and savvy will come into play down the stretch.
Even more Carlos Marmol worked out his issues. Seems like the Cus closer is back on track after the train fell off the rails a few weeks back. Its good to have a reliable closer on your team. Its even better to have reliable starters, and getting quality starts by Dempster, Garza, and Zambrano hel...wait,hold on, did Zambrano just try to hit Chipper Jones?
Wait a minute,did Carlos just try to hit Chipper Jones again? Oh boy....
Well....the good news is there's going to be room for Andrew Cashner when he returns. The bad news is...well, if you really look at it,is there any bad news in this whole situation? Sure the Cubs lose a potential number one starter, however Carlos hasnt been the performer his 18 mil a year contract would have you believe he is. Head case would be the mildest thing to calm him. It should say something that many teammates commented to the press how the clubhouse would only be a better place without him. He never lived up to his potential, which is a Cubs theme (hello Mark Prior), and it wasnt injuries or even talent that did him in, he only has himself to blame.
Yesthere's an appreciation for his contributions and teammates loved his competitivness,but who gets into a fight with Derrek Lee? Better yet,who gets into a fight with Michael Barrett (White Sox fans dont answer that one).
Anyhow, that issue seems to be done with,and the rest of the summer looks bright for the Cubs. Sure they make not make the play-offs, but they are playing good baseball and showing the baseball world why Starlin Castro is the Cubs next big star. And you have to love everything Tony Campana gives you, which is hustle and speed this team has sorely lacked for years. I was really hoping more time opened up for good guy Tyler Colvin, but it looks like he's going to have to fight Reed Johnson for playing time, which is fine since Johnson has been on a tear lately. The do anything and everything outfielder has been a good soldier all season long and deserves a true crack at starting or at least a key reserve spot next year....if he survives the year. the Cubs look to be re-paying the good soldier by showcasing him to other teams while he's on this hotstreak so he can be a everyday player somewhere. I really hope he stays here, however.
So until the fat lady does truly sing the Cubs are still in the race,and I really hoping for a photo finish from thesekids.
I refuse to think that I'm getting old...there were just too many children being born in the 90's.
Way too much unprotected sex if you ask me. Then again, I've yet alot of people born in the 80's who were totally neglected of bad cable movies. Its like HBO didnt exist in their world. They completely missed the train wreck that is "Big Trouble in Little China". They have no idea Eddie Murphy was/is funny, and not just "Donkey" funny. After spending an entire year with my girls (I coach a girls high school basketball team) and listening to them not have any idea what any of my 80's movie references or quotes mean, I knew it was time to assign some homework. Now the school gives them a summer reading lists of books. Me? I assign a summer viewing list. Kind of a must-see of sorts. I'm not out to currupt the youth of America, and making kids sit through 3 hours of Citizen Kane just ain't my thing. But maybe watching the first 45 minutes of Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell's "Overboard" will help them see the world more clearly.
Now there's the easy ones that humans in general shouldnt miss, like "Blues Brothers", "Ghostbusters" or Ferris Bueller, but sometimes you miss the easy ones. So instead of watching "MTV's Teen Mom" marathon, how about spending a lazy Sunday digesting a day of John Hughes movies. "The Breakfast Club" never killed anyone....I think. Is Charlie Sheen dead yet? Was Charlie Sheen even in the "Breakfast Club"? No he wasn't, but he was in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off", and after going through my summer-viewing list they'll know the answers to stuff like that.
Now you have to give these kids the easy stuff first, like "Summer School" (when Kristie Alley was considered one of the world's hottest women and teenagers actually had wild parties) and "Dragnet" make my list. Its important that you show them that there was a before Tom Hanks (Dragnet, Bachelor Party, Big, etc) as opposed to the current. Same for Eddie Murphy (Delirious, Raw, Coming to America, etc). They need to see Eddie as a tough Detroit cop who can take down a crime syndicate (twice) and say motherf**ker for 2 straight hours.
Did you know there are kids who have no idea who Prince or Madonna are? Some know them vaguely, somewhat as music stars. They don't understand the putrid movies these two injected into the world. Let them see the greatness that is "Purple Rain",or the painfulyet curiously entertaining "Who's that Girl?" Theyll get to see the non-British version of the Detriot native, Madonna. Watch as these two legends put on award-winning performances (can't suggest more than 2 movies each with these two, as they both couldn't act there way out of bed).
They also need to see what a huge 80's movie star looks like - which means its time for Arnold!!!
"Terminator", "Total Recall", "Predator", "The Running Man", "Commando"...all bad movies...all worth wasting your time with! There's also the option of showing why Jean-Claude and Steven Segal have careers...but I dont want to scare the girls. But when I really think of big stars one name comes to mind......Andrew Dice clay. "Adventures of Ford Fairlane"...it's like the Oscar winner of bad movies.
"Revenge of the Nerds", "The Karate Kid" trilogy, and "Adventures in Babysitting" make the must-view list, just as Michael J. Fox's "Teen Wolf" also cant be missed. Since we're talking remakes, the original "Fright Night" is a classic. And why watch updated versions of "Friday the 13th" movies when you can see what garbage on film really looks like...in sequels!
"Licsece to Drive" makes my list, just as do "Morgan Stweart''s Coming Home" and "Three o' Clock High". Im not sure one actual movie star came out of that movie, but it kicks ass! "Howard the Duck" is just obsurd enough for public viewing just once, while the comic genius that is Bill Murray should be experienced in multiple movies. I have no idea why I like "Weird Science" so much, but I do and its on the list, same goes for those damn "Police Academy" movies. Ever see "Once Bitten" or "Space Camp"? Well you should. Same goes for "Mannequin" and "Killer Klowns from outer space"(another Oscar winner).
Sometimes kids need a history lesson and need to go back..."Back to the Future" that is. And what happens when you grow up and enter the real world and you go on vacation with your boss and he suddenly dies? Now they'll know exactly what to do in that situation! Or maybe its time for a vacation, or even better...a European Vacation! After my summer viewing list these girls will know exactly what to do and not do when the time comes....and so will you!
Yeah I know there's some obvious movies I'm not mentioning, but we're not talking obvious...its the little gems like "Loverboy" that get overlook. Sometime people forget what Spike Lee actually does...maybe "Do the Right Thing" will show them.
Either way I'm making the world a better place and giving these kids some sort of social relevance. In the future people are going to be more impressed by their knowledge of knowing all the Batman's before Christian Bale than how to move portfolio's and real estate buys.