Archive for April, 2012

Find us on iTunes

  • 0:01 Lee Elia Rant
  • 2:00 Introduction and Propers/It’s Pat!
  • 4:30 Bulls/Derrick Rose Sad Face
  • 8:00 Happy Lee Elia Day
  • 9:50 The Ted Lyons Sunday Starter/General Baseball Notes
  • 16:50 NFL Draft
  • 26:50 Beer Breakage
  • 27:19 Wing Walker Beer
  • 28:30 Where are they Now? Black Jack McDowell
  • 32:14 The Slugging Konerko’s
  • 37:32 That Young Awful Cubs Team
  • 41:35 Breakage
  • 42:00 Tony Talks about his feelings/Hawks Eulogy
  • 53:30 Top Ten NFL Draft Busts
Advertisements

by: Mauricio Rubio Jr.
email: mr@99sportsproblems.com
twitter: @MRubio52

I’ve been avoiding this. This whole Bulls thing that just happened. It’s not good, not in the least. It’s been covered, and I don’t have to review the details really.

All I can say is that it sucks. It really, really sucks. The life of an NBA midget has a finite number of nicks and bruises that it can take, and Rose, Rose has been through hell.

Before you start, the kid is tough as nails, and that’s his real fault. Him and Thibs, both together in this, can’t dial it back. I don’t blame him, I don’t blame anyone or anything but luck really. It happens, torn ACL’s can happen at any point, and while that’s really shitty analysis, it’s honest analysis. The easy thing is to blame Thibs, but the real issue here is a heart that won’t stop beating, a mindset that won’t give up, a sense of responsibility to teammates and fans that won’t allow him to sit, the real thing here is the massive heart of Derrick Rose.

It’s not a negative 99% of the time. There are the times when he demands the ball, demands the shot, demands the weight of a team, of a city, and takes all the responsibility if it fails, and shares the adulation if he succeeds. But that 1%, that percentage when it could backfire, it did. It happened early in the year and he was never really healthy. He pressed to come back even though it was clear to the eye that he was never anything approaching even 80%. When he went out there, he was sluggish, slow, normal. That was the kicker, he looked average.

What an awful thing to witness, average, when you are used to the superlative. It hurt to see him turn a corner at half speed and realize the extra gear wasn’t there, that he couldn’t push it as hard as he so desperately wanted to. It hurt, I tried to ignore it, I tried to tell myself that it’ll be fine, it’ll clear, he’ll find the gear in the playoffs.

No. No he didn’t.

All of three games and the playoff hopes of a team are dashed. Sure, they will still probably beat Philly. They might sneak by either Boston or Atlanta. But that specter is looming on the other side of a bracket that looks like more feed to the maw at this point. A demolishing force is coming for Chicago, and as much as I want to believe in TEAM, and #doitforderrick, I can’t do it. I’m rooting for the Bulls, I am still a fan, but in my heart, I know I’ve seen this before. This Heat engine is humming, and it’s going to be annoyingly loud throughout the playoffs.

Luol&
CJ&
Rip&
Carlos&
Noah

I dunno. I really liked it when #1 meant something to that list. Sadly, he won’t this year.

Well, the Hawks bowed out quite meekly in the first round of the playoffs this week. With Mike Smith stealing the two wins that Corey Crawford didn’t gift-wrap coupled with some key players (Patrick Sharp, I’m looking at you) last being seen on a milk carton and losing one of the game’s best two-way players in Marian Hossa, it all added up to a big wet fart that smelled worse than it felt. As disappointing as things turned out, it’s a damn sight better than what we saw before the resurgence of 5 years ago. To paraphrase some old Roman dude, “I’ve come to bury the Hawks, not to praise them.” Here’s my end-of-season/playoff report card. No punches pulled, no gilding the lily, no tarting it up.

FORWARDS

Jonathan Toews…Until a concussion cost Captain Serious 23 games, he was showing the hockey world again what a special player he continues to be. Averaging basically a point-per-game (for you hockey noobs, that’s a great rate of scoring), winning over 60% of his faceoffs (this is a FANTASTIC percentage), continuing to be a dynamic defensive player and cementing his place as an elite player and leader, Johnny was in the conversation for the Hart Trophy, awarded to the league’s MVP. Even though he likely wasn’t 100% upon his return, he was a factor in the series vs. Phoenix. Hopefully, his noggin is okay and his career isn’t affected by the concussion. GRADE….A

Patrick Kane
…Coming off wrist surgery in the off-season, there was some question about his being ready for the season. All he did was play all 82 games, one of only two Hawks to suit up every night. Shuttling between wing and center all year, he had a down year, points-wise, but if his wingers could have buried half the chances he served them, his point total would be much higher. He’s a work-in-progress defensively, but did show lots of improvement in that area and stepped up in Toews’s absence into a leadership role. Only 23, he’s a key player in our future. GRADE….B

Marian Hossa…Big Hoss led the Hawks in scoring with 77 points this year and played his usual excellent two-way game. One of the game’s best defensive forwards (he only had 20 penalty minutes this year, remarkable for such an active player in his defensive end), he did have some stretches where he wasn’t very visible, but over the 81 games he played, he was a serious plus. We can only hope he’s fully recovered from Raffi Torres’s dirty playoff hit. A true core player, we need him to come back healthy. GRADE….A

Patrick Sharp….Until a playoff vanishing act that would make Houdini ask “How did you do that?” Sharpie led the team in goals with 33 and was his usual dynamic sniping self. I wish I had an answer for his playoff no-show, but I don’t. Chalk it up to being a new dad and not getting any sleep. That’s what I’m going with. GRADE…B-

Viktor Stalberg
…Quite possibly the handsomest guy on the Hawks, the incredibly skilled Swede had a career season with 22 goals and 43 points and did it for under a million bucks. He looked better as the season wore on and he gained confidence. At times, he was the best player on the ice on either team. His elite speed created numerous scoring chances all season and we can only hope he continues to trend upward in 2012-13. He could be a real difference maker for us. GRADE…C+

Dave Bolland…Why is it that we all expect more from this guy? Only 25, it seems like he’s been a Hawk forever. He played 76 games and scored 19 goals, but after the job he did in the 2010 playoffs, I think anything he ever does might be a disappointment. It may not be fair, but I don’t make the rules. If we can deal him and his $3M+ cap hit, so be it. We can replace a guy who probably will never be that 2nd line center we desire. GRADE…C-

Andrew Brunette…Brought in to provide a big body in front of the net and leadership presence, he did one admirably and failed at the other. He proved too slow to keep up with the speedy Hawk forwards and never really found a place to call his own on any line. We all had hoped to squeeze whatever last drops of hockey goodness he had out of him, but that well proved to be dry. He shan’t return. GRADE…D-

Marcus Kruger….While he may never gain enough size to be a great player, he showed he can be pretty damned good on the 4th line as a defensive center. Smart, quick and always in the right spot, he has proved to be pretty durable and has a nice head for the game. We certainly can do worse than him and at only 22 years old, his future is with the Hawks. GRADE….C

Bryan Bickell….Easily the most frustrating Hawks player this season. Big, tough, fast with a great wrist shot, he pulled a Claude Rains for most of the season before coming to life against Phoenix. Every Hawks fan wanted this guy gone before the trade deadline and if they say they didn’t, they’re lying to you. He has too much talent to give up on so quickly and will be back next year, hopefully finally seeing what hard work all year can do. GRADE…D

Andrew Shaw….Easily the best story of the year. Signed to an entry-level deal during the season after being a 5th round draft choice after being undrafted in THREE previous drafts, Shaw blasted into Chicago like a breath of fresh air with an attitude and instantly became a fan favorite. His hustle won fans. His grit won fans. His determination won fans. Everything this kid did won us over more and more. Andrew Shaw proved that there is more to playing the game than measurable talent. Heart and desire, while cliché, matter. Pluswhise, #shawfacts ruled Twitter for a time, which speaks volumes about his impact. GRADE…A+

Michael Frolik….Works his ass off, battles in the corner, fills lanes with an active stick, couldn’t buy a goal if he had a bag of gold dust for a nutsack. All that is well and good, but for $3M per year, we need him to find his 20 goal-a-year form he showed early in his career. GRADE….D++

Jamal Mayers
….One of the “grit guys” Bowman brought in for a one-year deal, he provided what he was signed for. His character and work ethic were solid all season. Not sure if he’ll be back, but he was a solid player for us. GRADE….C+

Daniel Carcillo
….Carbomb, brought in as another “grit guy”, but one with actual hockey skills showed he can really play the game well. Of course, the fact that he’s a tremendous turd, a reckless player and a target for refs every time he’s on the ice proved costly and ended up costing him the season with a wrecked knee he did to himself with a dirty hit on another player. Re-signed for 2 years while in rehab, I’m not sure where he’s going to fit next season. GRADE…Incomplete

Jimmy Hayes….Did fairly well in limited time, he’s another youngster with a nice future here. You can’t teach size and Big Jimmy has it in spades. I look forward to his big ass in front of the net for a long time. GRADE….C

DEFENSEMEN

Duncan Keith….Brilliant at times, pedestrian at others, looked like a clueless fuck at others. If Bickell is the most frustrating Hawk player, Duncs is easily #2, simply because we KNOW how good he can be. Remember when he was the best defenseman in the world? Of course you do, because it was only two years ago when he won Olympic gold and was a stalwart for Team Canada, won the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s best defenseman and had his name engraved on the Stanley Cup. There isn’t anything he can’t do on the ice, but he has struggled with consistency. He needs to become at least 85% of that player again. GRADE….B-

Brent Seabrook….This season, Seabs became the undisputed best d-man on the team. Big, fast and a bruising hitter, he blossomed into the player we hoped he’d become. He finally started to unleash that bomb of a shot of his more often and piled up the ice time without any significant reduction in effectiveness. A true blueline stalwart, Seabs would thrive in any era. GRADE…A

Nick Leddy….At an age where his peers are still playing college hockey (Leddy turned 21 late in the season), he was thrust into a role that was too big for him. Even so, he played in all 82 games and scored 37 points, a solid season in those respects. What he needs is about 15 lbs of muscle and plenty of ice time and experience to become the player he can be. Fans really shit on him all season, deservedly so at times, but those same people will be cheering wildly for him once he improves on those rough areas. GRADE….C

Niklas Hjalmarsson
….He’s regressed since his first two seasons, when he looked every bit the next mainstay on the blueline. When we matched San Jose’s offer sheet, it was seen by most as a necessary move to keep a building block. Since then, he’s done nothing to warrant the move, giving the second-guessers plenty of ammo. For the money he makes…over $3M per year….we need more than ONE goal and a buttload of shotblocks. Simply put, if he’s moved this off-season, it won’t make many Hawks fans sad unless he blossoms elsewhere. Then, the third-guessers will go hog wild. GRADE….D-

Sean O’Donnell….Brought in to be a depth defenseman, he only played 51 games and looked to have almost nothing left. He did have some solid games, but simply couldn’t sustain any sort of solid play. He won’t return. GRADE….F

Johnny Oduya…..A fantastic addition at the trade deadline, he was a disaster in the playoffs and it’s up in the air as to whether he’ll return. I like the guy, but we have other d-men that have a similar skill-set….fast, agile, not very big or physical. If he stays, someone else has to go and vice-versa. At least he was sort of cheap in that trade. GRADE….C

Steve Montador….A concussion wrecked his season and he never looked comfortable before that. Hopefully, he’s healthy and can find a groove with us because we need him to be the player we signed him to be. He was actually more effective as a forward on the power play. That’s as surprising as the fact that one of my daughters puts ketchup on her hot dogs. *throws up in my own mouth* GRADE….D-

Dylan Olsen
….Another young guy who didn’t get a whole lot of consistent playing time, he should get a long look in camp to take one of the bottom pairing spots. He’s gotta be better than O’Donnell, right? GRADE….Incomplete, but with promise

Sami Lepisto
….Spent much of the season in Q’s doghouse. Not sure why, since he was better than O’Donnell who got into 51 games. He must have made fun of Q’s coachstache. GRADE….D-

GOALTENDING

Corey Crawford….I’m not sure where to start with this guy. When he’s on, he’s dynamite and impregnable. Like he was in games 3 and 4, he kept us in the games and looked as confident as a cow a vegan convention. Of course, he could turn on a dime and shit the bed like he did in those same two games. For a team to win the Cup, the goalie needs to be able to steal a game here and there. Antti Niemi did it in 2010….game 1 against San Jose comes to mind….and Crawford needs to be able to do the same. A summer of busting his ass with a goalie coach should help greatly, but how dedicated he is remains to be seen. GRADE….C+

Ray Emery….His return from a possible career-ending hip injury was rewarded by a roster spot with the Hawks and was our team’s nominee for the Masterson Trophy, given to the NHL player that “best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to ice hockey.” Having a guy that respected on the roster is always a good thing and when he stepped in during a Crawford slump that lasted forever, he played well enough to steal a game or two for us when we were desperate for some wins. His overall numbers weren’t outstanding, but he did his job as a backup…be a pro, be ready to play, don’t bitch about not playing, and mentor the kid who you’re backing up. He is a credit to the game of hockey. GRADE…B

I’m not sure what the off-season will bring, but in the meantime, I’ll be enjoying another 6 weeks or so of the NHL playoffs. All we can hope for is a solid off-season for Bowman and the regained health of out walking wounded. Things are never as bad as they seem when you’re at your lowest and the playoff loss certainly applies here. Getting 101 points in the beastly-tough Western conference isn’t like we were terrible all over the ice and up and down the roster. A few key additions and subtractions will help our chances this time next season. Onward!!

by: Mauricio Rubio Jr.
email: mr@99sportsproblems.com
twitter: @MRubio52

I did a post recently on Shark that I kinda regretted for a few hours on Thursday before feeling better about my praise for Spellcheck with Tuesday’s game. In that post I mentioned some Cubs that you should be watching carefully on the Major League level. My number 5 guy was Bryan LaHair. Before we get to him however, let me just say that Anthony Rizzo is destroying AAA pitching at an alarming rate.

Even Galactus is calling dude the devourer of worlds.

Holy hell. It’s not even smoke and mirrors, these numbers are legit. His swing is shortened up and he’s not as busy with his hands, and none of that cost him any power. It’s scary good and he’s ready now. Oddly enough it’s not even really LaHair that is blocking him from the Major League level. The Cubs are probably going to wait for two things to happen before they call up Rizzo. 1. Late June and 2. Soriano is traded.

Soriano is preventing LaHair’s eventual move to LF. In my fan dream scenario LaHair plays left and Rizzo is at 1B. I don’t advocate sitting LaHair either because the Cubs might just have a solid player on their hands that might be able to help them when they are ready to compete.

Bryan LaHair is on a tear. It’s been impressive to watch him launch homers against the Cards and lash line drives against everyone else. It’s early and the numbers will drop, but I can safely say that I wasn’t expecting the .700+ slugging and an OPS of 1.190. He’s a guy that spent 6 years at AAA and was looked at as a Quad A player. All of this is valid, and he’s not going to sustain his .522 BABIP so his average will dip a bit, but there is some truth to his small sample size stats.

Let’s take a look at what he’s doing right:

There are a few interesting trends in there.  He’s striking out 33% of the time, which is a terrifying number. Dunn in ’11 struck out in 35% of his AB’s for comparison. This is a number that I would expect to fall around the 26-28% range, which is still high, but not completely awful. His walk rate is slightly up and has been since he joined the big club in extremely limited AB’s. Cub fans saw him make Motte work extremely hard on April 24 en route to coaxing a walk and eventually setting the table for Joe Mather’s unlikely game-winner. LaHair made Motte throw 12 pitches before the bearded closer finally succumbed and gave him a free pass. LaHair is currently seeing 4.13 pitches per plate appearance according to ESPN. This is again a jump from his 3.67 P/PA he posted in Seattle. It makes sense since he is currently striking out more and walking more than he ever has in his career.

What’s somewhat striking, however, is the authority with which he’s hitting the ball.

Since he’s been in a Cub uni his Linedrives have increased and he’s cut the grounders. He’s hitting the ball in the air a lot more and it’s showing everywhere. Some of those numbers are unsustainable, a 36% Homerun to Flyball rate is insane and it won’t hold, and his Infield Hit Rate will drop from 10% as well, he’s not that fast, but the good trends are that he is understanding what his tools are and is better utilizing his skill set.

LaHair is quick to the ball in his swing. His hands are held high over his left shoulder, and he gets good hip rotation on his swing. The plant foot stays solid when he steps and he drives the ball with authority. Suffice it to say, he has the skills to stay in the big leagues. I think it’s a fair assessment that he won’t be an all-star type player, but that he will go through stretches where he will be on fire, and down stretches where it seems like he’s a Quad-A player. LaHair is interesting, he strikes out a lot, walks a lot, and makes a lot of solid contact. It’ll be interesting to watch which gains he keeps and which ones slip as the season progresses. Don’t get too high on him now, he’s had a tremendous start, but don’t get too low on him when he slumps, he’s a solid major leaguer who will have a pretty solid career.

The Cubs are finding out a lot about their team. I think we’re finding out a lot about LaHair too. He’s not a .360 hitter, but he is a guy that can OPS around .800. I’ll take that.

In left field of course.

Hey there folks, we’re looking for your email questions for this week’s podcast episode, which we will be recording on Sunday. Topics we are discussing include the following:

  • NFL Draft results
  • Phil Humber, Jake Peavy, and the White Sox pitching staff
  • Cubs farm system
  • All time NFL draft busts
  • AL/NL updates (Matt Kemp really wants that MVP award)
  • Beer, what are you guys drinking these days?
  • Blackhawks eulogy
Please send us your questions and feedback and fill out the form below. Thanks, we love our fans!

What are the warning signs that you have begun crossing over from the real of ‘artist’ into ‘obsessive compulsive lunatic’ territory? The symptoms can be subtle at first. One clear indicator is that you spend hours meticulously illustrating and arranging individual specks of glitter with an end result that differs little if at all from what could have been accomplished in a few minutes with the simplest of brush techniques.

Look for further updates on my gradual descent into madness on Facebook, Twitter, and Tiamat’s Garden.

Matfesta@tiamatsgarden.com

First off, I’ve come up with a cool hockey-themed name for my column. For you hockey novices, let me explain…a bag skate is a hockey practice where the coaches keep the pucks in the bag. All they do is skate, skate and then they skate some more. It’s a punitive measure that usually follows a terribly shitty effort in a game the night before. You can usually tell somewhere in the 3rd period when a team will be going through the dreaded bag skate the next day. Busting your ass is a sure way of avoiding a bag skate. There’s no smartass parallel I’m trying to make here…I just like how it sounds, so The Bag Skate it is.

Pre-Game

Tonight, the Hawks face their biggest game of the year in game 4 against the suddenly “We think we’re good” Phoenix Coyotes. Well, most of the Coyotes. Grade A cocklunch and assphlange Raffi Torres is obviously not playing for a while, due to his being suspended for that dirty hit on Hossa in game 3. I don’t really need to go over what happened again. Suffice to say, the bad blood between these two teams has grown exponentially since game 1. The Hawks don’t need to go out and “get even”. That’s what stupid fans would want us to do, and I’ve seen plenty of that shit on plenty of boards. Fans of other teams blathering, “That wouldn’t happen with my team.” Good for your team. Chances are, they haven’t won the Cup ever or for a very long time. I’d prefer the Hawks to retaliate with a series win.

Puck drop, 20:00 left in the first Anyone else nervous? BTW, rookie/junior superstar Brandon Saad starts on the Toews line. Nothing like playing with an elite player to boost a kid’s confidence.

18:30…The Bolland line with a great shift! We need a big night from the secondary guys tonight with Hossa out. The big guys need help with the heavy lifting.

17:48…Hawks to the power play. God help the Coyotes if we actually can score here. God help us, period.

16:20…Near miss by the Hawks. Damn, that would have been sweet.

16:02…Refs fuck the Hawks yet again. Blatant high-stick in Sharp’s face right in front of all 4 officials goes uncalled. Someone give Q another $10K for another fine when he calls the officiating a disgrace again.

14:36…Brandon Bollig and Paul Bissonnette tangle here. Yet another talentless hack employed by Phoenix for the express purpose of being a pile of crap. Get some talent and then talk to me. What a punk. Both get 5 for fighting. Bitchonnette should get 2 more for that haircut he has.

11:55
…Toews with an awesome chance. Not a great angle from in tight and he tried to go short side rather than his customary 5 hole. Would have been a tough shot to make for sure.

11:40
….Foley railing on Torres, saying the league needs to tell him that if he pulls this shit again, his future is in doubt. Yeah, sounds good, but we all know the NHLPA would never allow that to happen.

10:43….First good save by Crawford, as Phoenix can’t get much going in the early part of the game. Good thing to see!!

9:15
…Hawks are controlling the game big-time so far. We need this effort all night and the rest of the playoffs.

6:14…Even Kane taking the body!! Attaboy!!

5:27
….Frantic pace with not many whistles so far. This style benefits the Hawks as we’re by far the faster team. Phoenix can’t stay with us so far and seem to be back on their heels. Speed kills!!

5:07
…Another great flurry for the Hawks. Stalberg looks like he has a bounty on the first goal scored. #Saints

4:03
….Kane nearly beats gutless faker Mike Smith to a loose puck. That would have brought some serious catcalls down on that play-acting punk.

3:13
…Goalpost for Phoenix. Why does it go this way…a team is getting utterly dominated and they get a great chance like that? Thank you for that PING!!

1:15
….Phoenix has another stiff, this one named Kyle Chipchurra….is he some sort of chocolate-chipped Mexican doughy treat? I loves me some chipchurra after my burrito and horchata.

End of the first period
…Hawks dominate the first period and outshoot the Coyotes 11-5. Trying to do this column and tweet the game at the same time is almost beyond me. I may have to apply for hazardous duty pay for my typing fingers. Blocked shot tally….Phoenix 9, Hawks 0. Can’t block what aint there. That’s a great sign. Flipping over to the Bos/Wash game for a quick looksee….tied at 1 and, of course, the pricks run a commercial as soon as I flip to them…bastards are spying on me again.

Second Period

18:58…GREAT SAVE BY CRAWFORD!!!

17:52….Phoenix has come out strong in the 2nd. Push-back is a big part of what we need to do here until we get control of things again.

14:48….Bickell steps on a stick and dumps himself. Actually a good no-call there by the four blind mice.

13:54…Crowd seems a bit underwhelming so far. You know what would get them going? A goal.

12:23….Great save by Smith on snake-bitten Michael Frolik. The puck trickled in a bit late and the whistle blew. Would have been nice for that to have counted, but it was pretty close and the whistle is the end of the play. At least it got the crowd into it.

12:04…Another Hawks power play. Excuse me while I shit myself with joy!!

11:13….This makes my balls hurt watching them get nothing going.

9:22…Hawks currently outshooting Phoenix 16-8. The trend is your friend, but sometimes friends stab you in the back.

8:00.
..This game is flying by so far. Good thing, I’m tired and want to hit the sack.

6:14…Brendan Morrison wins a board battle. THE SEVENTH SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE!!

5:30….Another great save by Smith, this one on Bickell. Hawks are going to break thru soon.

1:56…Coyotes head to their first power play after Mikkel Boedker falls down. Nice dive there.

End of the second period….Hawks continue to dominate everywhere but the scoreboard, outshooting them 23-10 so far. This isn’t even close, save for the acting candyass keeping the game scoreless. I gotta figure Phoenix is going to come out even stronger in the 3rd than they did in the 2nd, so we’d better be ready for it and match the intensity. I don’t want to go to bed all pissed off like I did Tuesday night. I hate swearing in my sleep. The cocky doucher doing the shoot the puck promo missed all 3 of his tries badly….LOL. This chick just joined the list of “Top 5 Whorishly Dressed Women” to ever do this promo….well done, you tramp!!

Third Period

19:56….Hawks kill off the penalty. That was much appreciated, boys!!

18:57…..Someone tell the Hawks the 3rd has started. Phoenix kept the puck in our zone for over a minute. Did they set tee times and not tell anyone?

17:45….The longer we don’t score, the less I like our chances. These are the types of games goalies steal for inferior teams.

16:43…Foley needs to stop calling Ray Whitney “The Wizard”. Unless he’s in OZ or playing SS for the Cardinals, he’s nothing of the sort. STFU, Pat.

12:57….Yep. The Coyotes score and lead a game they have no business being in, 1-0. Out-played, out-shot, out-everythinged and they’re up 1-0. I hate this sport.

12:13….2-0 Coyotes. No effort at all in the crucial 3rd period and we’ve been dominated thus far. Keith and Seabrook get caught standing in the crease like they had tickets to watch the game. Good bye, playoffs. This series is over. Saturday night will be academic unless something drastic happens.

10:40….Way to pick up your fallen comrade, Marian Hossa, by the way. Nice heart you guys are showing in response to Torres and his blatant thuggery. Ought to be ashamed of yourselves.

9:35….Brendan Morrison of the Hawks scores on a deflection to make it 2-1. Forgive me if I don’t get fully engorged, but that was a weak goal Smith should have had. I’ll get excited if we can tie it up. As it is, I see Phoenix scoring again within 2 minutes. Sorry to piss down your leg and tell you I pissed down your leg.

7:53…..To the Hawks credit, they’ve picked it up since rolling over and playing dead to start the 3rd. Too little too late?

7:23….Hawks head to the power play. I think this may be the most crucial power play of the season.

5:23…What a popcorn fart of a power play at a crucial time. I think I’ll go pick my nose with a rusted butter knife….

5:13
….Another Hawks penalty, this one by Sharp for a trip. This is the most crucial penalty kill of the season. I love when things even out.

3:18
…Toews with a solid short-handed chance there. We can always count on him to play his ass off. OH CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN!!

2:25…Getting beaten by nobodies. I hate this sport.

1:26…HOLY FUCKING SHIT THE HAWKS TIE IT UP AT 2 APIECE ON THE DELAYED PENALTY!!! And it was the snake-bitten one again…Michael Frolik!!! I love this sport!!!

End of regulation.
Headed to overtime for the 4th straight time in the series. I don’t know if this is good in the long run for whoever advances, but it sure is fun to watch. Well, it’s fun when I’m not swearing at the TV or shaking with nerves.

Overtime

19:40….Hawks fans chanting for Hossa. That’s a nice thing to do. #WinItForhossa, indeed.

17:45…Hawks lose quickly on another goal by a real slug, Mikkel Boedker. What a fucking joke, going down 3 games to 1 to a team we have no business losing even once to. And it was all set up by Nick Leddy taking a horrible angle on the rush by the slug. This one, just like game 3, was given away to a team that can’t hold our jocks. Have I mentioned I hate this sport?

So, the season is basically over. With Marian Hossa playing the part of the Gipper, the Hawks couldn’t summon up the courage to win even one of the two games at home for him. Way to be good teammates. You let a talentless thug like Raffi Torres change the series and couldn’t respond. You let a team with NINETEEN SHOTS ON GOAL beat you tonight. A team that can’t skate with us beat us. A team that can’t score goals beat us. To top it off, we lost on two awfully horribly weak goals. Unacceptable on all counts. I, and all Hawks fans, expected more out of this team. In short, this is how I feel about this team as I go to bed tonight…

EVEN JESUS IS PISSED AT YOU ASSHOLES TONIGHT!!

Ed. Note- Thanks to Shelley Holmgren for submitting this with the very apt headline, Shit Bitches Shouldn’t Wear At A Baseball Game. We at Cad T. Wasp notoriously hate pink jerseys (that aren’t for breast cancer awareness), but Shelley details proper female fan wear etiquette in more detail.

by: Shelley Holmgren

Baseball season is a sacred, holy time. I choose to observe it with the holiest of rituals: drinking excessively and going to ball games. However, there are times when I have to swig my drink ferociously in order to stomach some of the shit I see women wear to a game.

As a (mostly) logical woman and faithful baseball fan, I decided to educate other estrogen-prone creatures of ways they shouldn’t show up to a game or face the wrath of my stink eye.

1) Save the stilettos for your walk of shame, sister.

It blows my mind that I actually have to say this. Ladies. Don’t wear your damn heels to the game.

If you are like me, you plan on ingesting a fair amount (understatement) of ale while cheering on your guys. After that fourth beer, that flight of stairs will look more like Mt. Doom than a few short steps. You definitely don’t want to scale it wearing four-inch heels/devices of torture.

Although drinking several vodka lemonades will help you loose all sensation in your face, you will need a horse tranquilizer to numb the pain in your feet from wearing heels for nine innings.

I’m not saying don’t be feminine. You may be attending the game on a date and might want to get your male seduction on. Fight the urge to
wear a leather catsuit (save them for special occasions, like bar mitzvahs) or a ball gown or whatever ridiculous outfit you wear to prepare for a sexy time. My advice – just go casual. The best route to go is fitted player t-shirt and a pair of tight jeans that make your ass look like Beyonce’s. The jeans will do all the work for you and your date will reward you with various forms of physical contact and cheap beer. Let the romance begin.

2) Handle cleavage with care.

Don’t get me wrong – as a well-endowed woman, I know how much joy there is in displaying your assets like prized hams. Boobs are magnificent and should be shared. But know your limits when it comes to breast exposure at sporting events. I’m at the game to watch my guys kick ass, not to place bets on the probability of one your loose mammary glands slapping your date in the face.

But then again, what do I know? I’m just a girl that likes to whip out her sweater melons only for special occasions or when I owe a member of the male population an apology/money. If you want to wear an insanely low-cut shirt, have at it. Make sure to wave to your parents (and the parents of the young niños in the crowd) when you are featured on the jumbo screen. You’ll make them so proud. I’ll just be the woman sitting next to you, embarrassed to have ovaries.

This is a ball game. Not an audition for Bravo.

3) Remember, people spill shit.

Don’t show up wearing a 80-billion-thread-count silky blousey-thing and not expect it to get it stained. If Alexei Ramírez steals third, you will likely be sitting by someone who celebrates with a dance similar to an exorcism being performed. You’re not going to want to be wearing expensive threads when someone knocks into you and obliterates you with concessions. And trust me, that shit ain’t going to come out.

Also remember: If you are a true classy woman like I am, you plan on making sweet, tender love to a fully-loaded ball park brat with your mouth. There is no way to consume delicious smoked meats without there being some wardrobe casualties. It’s not worth it otherwise.

4) Know your player.

If I show up in a Sox game clad in my Pierzynski jersey, I’m going to be able to tell you his position, his stats, his batting preference, his sexual preference (OK, maybe too far … probably … nah). Regardless of A.J.’s impending restraining order against me, he is my guy. Don’t show up to a game wearing a jersey for a player you know nothing about. Show some respect, yo.

5) Respect the game.

This is just a nugget of general knowledge – don’t be on your damn smart phone the whole time. Going to a game is a sacred act. If I see you playing DrawSomething through a double-play, I will slap the phone out of your hand. Probably. If I didn’t cherish my beer so much, I’d possibly try to spill my drink on you at least. (I swear, I’m usually not a belligerent drunk.)

And one last piece of fashion advice: You will never be taken as a serious fan, let alone a serious human being, if you wear a tube top.

Have some self-respect.

Ed. Note - I uhh, respectfully disagree. More tube tops at ball games!

by: Mauricio Rubio Jr.
email: mr@99sportsproblems.com
twitter: @MRubio52

I love the very beginning of baseball season for a multitude of reasons. Small sample sizes make for fun numbers, like guys with OBP’s lower than their AVG’s, players with more home runs than entire teams, guys who haven’t walked or struck out all year, the dudes that are on pace for 300 RBI’s, it’s great for nonsensical stuff like that. It’s also fun for identifying who actually watches baseball vs. who is a football fan and is just killing time complaining about things that don’t matter. To be clear for all you football fans, the MLB season is a 6  month (7 if your team is good) long odyssey that begins as nature wakes up from it’s slumber, thrives as the world around it gets greener and warmer, and finishes when the outside world dies. It’s cyclical, natural, and takes a long fucking time to complete. They play 162 games in a season. Some teams are gunning to win this year, some teams are caught in the middle of rebuilding and competing, and others are instituting a plan that revolves around youth and smart spending.

I’m talking to my fellow Cub fans. Yes, yes, Theo was hired this year, but as some ignorant White Sox fans are quick to remind me, he doesn’t play a position (BTW, White Sox fans, I’m aware of this. He doesn’t swing a bat nor throw a ball for the Chicago Cubs. I don’t need to be reminded of this). The team this year is awful. They told you they were going to be awful all off-season. They made no major moves, they acquired no impact talent, they did not change anything from last years squad that was also awful, really. So why are you so surprised about their struggles? Is it hard to watch? Yeah, nobody likes blown leads or bad fielding or an anemic offense.

“DEN WHAT DA FUCK AM I GONNA WATCH FOR TREE FUCKING MONTS UNTIL DA FOOTBALL COMES BACK AND DA MIDWAY MONSTERS OF HALAS HALL COME CRASHING BACK WIT DA VENGEANCE OF A TOUSAND MINI DITKAS?!?!?!?!?!”

I have no idea. I can’t help you.

“Good sir, if I may inquire, what shall I remain vigilant for this season on the North Side?”

Soccer, go back to Europe. Try again.

“Dude, they suck, is there anything that I can look for as a reasonable Cubs fan with realistic expectations for this year and the next three years?”

On the Major League roster there are a few players you should be watching for a myriad of reasons. I’ll be doing my best to update you guys on them as the season drags on, but for now, here’s my list.

  1. Starlin Castro – Nobody makes me say “That’s a great play,” and “That’s a dumbass play,” in the same game quite like Starlin.
  2. Marlon Byrd – If he manages to get his average up he will be a valuable piece to a team that’s in contention. Players with solid contact skills and good defense don’t fall out of trees these days. Could bring back an ok haul of prospects if a team decides to buy high at the deadline.
  3. Matt Garza – The goal is to either extend him because of the thin crop of FA starters in the coming years, or to bring back a better haul than you gave up to acquire him. I still think he ends up a Tiger.
  4. Darwin Barney – It’s debatable, but I think he might be on the Cubs the next time they are ready to compete. TheoCo (thanks Short-E) values defense a lot, and I think his bat might stick as a 2-hitter.
  5. Bryan LaHair – If his bat is legit, he can play in left and then you can have a 3-4 of Rizzo and LaHair. That’s awesome to think about.

Which brings us to who I think is the most intriguing Cub, Jeff Samardzija. The Cubs did the right thing and stuck Shark (Jeff’s rather unfortunate nickname) in the rotation. He had some interesting gains last year as a reliever, but if he was going to be worth anything to the organization, it was going to be in the rotation. As I stated before, I love small sample sizes, they’re fun, and when we talk about Shark’s numbers it’s in the tiniest of sample sizes, but dating back to last year he’s gained something valuable; the ability to miss bats.

See, dating back to his minor league days, Shark was always a bit of a mystery. He had good-great stuff, and a 98 MPH heater, but he never consistently posted legit prospect K/9 numbers.

His fastball was described as fast and straight, which is an issue. Major League hitters will time up fast if it’s straight, just ask Armando Benitez. Since 2011 however, his K rate jumped to 8+ and it looks like it’ll stay there. Begs the question, what’s different?

Well, this year he’s walking less people. His BB/9 rate is dramatically slashed so far this year, but we’ll get to that in a moment. The difference is that his stuff is just, better. Let’s look at his PitchF/X data for a second.

PitchFx tracks the movement and speed of pitches thrown. In this case it’s illustrating Shark’s improved movement on all of his pitches. SL=Slider, CH=Changeup, and FT=Two Seamer, something that is a relatively new classification and can be misleading. Before ’11, Shark’s slider wasn’t moving across the plate much, it was simply spinning and dropping with gravity. In 2011 however, that pitch improved, and it’s clear when you watch him. I don’t know for a fact if he improved his grip on the slider or if he just has a better feel for it, but it’s a real pitch now. It’s become a wipeout pitch. The Changeup has also greatly improved, even if he limited his use of it in 2011. This year it has legitimate drop  to it and it looks like it comes out of the same slot, with similar arm action, as his fastball. The Two-Seamer is a bit of a mystery, PitchFx did mis-classify this pitch as a regular fastball until around 2010, but it has live action and is a few ticks slower than his 4 seamer. All of his pitches have good movement on them, with his two fastballs being his best pitches. The slider is now a legit weapon and the changeup is coming along. That alone explains the uptick in strikeouts, but there’s also one more trend that appeared during spring training and has some people (myself included) optimistic about his future as a starter.

He’s walking less people.

Let’s go back to his Baseball Reference card

During Spring Training Shark walked 1 batter and struck out 16 in 20 innings of work. Spring Training stats are misleading sometimes, but I don’t think they were with Samardzija this year. His command has dramatically improved this year in limited innings. To properly illustrate that:

That’s shark in a nutshell. Drop in ERA, rise in K/9, cliff dive in BB/9 and a rocket trip in K/BB ratio.

Conclusion

He’ll probably have some missteps over the course of a long season, but the improved control and the improvement on the movement of his pitches are all reasons to be optimistic. Shark’s change in approach will raise his ceiling, the questions for the remainder of the year revolve around the durability of his arm, I think. Can he throw 150+ innings? Can he retain the gains he’s made in control? Can he be a dependable starter? I don’t know for sure, but I’m finally optimistic about Samardzija.

[audio http://awmr01.podbean.com/mf/web/mnx65a/Episode013.mp3]

In this weeks episode we round up MLB, talk a little Ozzie, wonder aloud if the White Sox are for real, get a little touch and go with the Marlins uniform, we realize that almost no Cubs fans were ready for this season, discuss some Blackhawk hockey, bitch about the Heat, talk some Bulls, and we bring up our Top Ten Scrubs.