Archive for the ‘The Bag Skate’ Category

by: Tony Leva
email: tonytrucker1969@gmail.com

NFL vs. NHL Lockout Edition…Who Ya Got?

At this moment, there are two lockouts being rammed down our throats.  Both are insanely stupid and could cost one league it’s credibility for a while and the other may cost the other league far more than that.  The NFL refs and the NHL lockout are both maddening, but which one is stupider?  Let’s look at this match-up in detail…..

Money issues….The NFL is refusing to pay their refs what they want since they classify them as part-time employees.  With a record $9 billion and change in revenues, the money they are quibbling over is just stupid.  The percentage the refs want in relation to those revenues is measly at best.  In the case of the NHL, the issues at hand are basically identical to the issues in the 2004-05 lockout that cost us an entire season.  The owners want to reduce the players’ cut of revenue from 57% to 49% and then eventually to 47%.  The reduction last time was from 70% to the current level.  The players can’t stomach getting another royal bowel-ripping and are holding tough.  This is some serious shit here.  BIG EDGE…NHL

Contract Terms….The NFL’s issue here is that they refuse to make the refs full-time employees like the MLB, NHL and NBA all do.  Hence, they keep their salaries low, which returns us to point #1, Money.  The NHL owners want to limit the length of player contracts to 5 years, which still didn’t stop these asshats from signing players to contracts as long as 14 years this summer.  Here’s a hint, fellas, stop fucking yourselves in the ass with contracts like those.  It’s hard to see your side of things when you do shit like this.  Due to the sheer stupidity factor, the NHL takes this one as well.  EDGE…NHL

Damaging Your Sport Factor….The NFL refs have been so bad they’re affecting point spreads in Vegas and are a jokewriter’s dream.  The internet is seeing some pretty good compilation videos of refs mistakes.  Being a national punchline isn’t something you strive for when having labor issues.   But no matter how bad the NFL is looking, that harm will vanish when the real refs come back.  But the NHL lockout may cripple the sport in irreparable fashion.  Nobody knows how many fans will never come back if a second season in 8 years is stolen from hockey fans.  No sport has ever cancelled an entire season, let alone two.  The damage will be unprecedented.  ROSIE O’DONNELL-SIZED EGDE….NHL

It seems by my count the NHL’s lockout wins the battle of  “How stupid are we?”.  There is simply no way the NFL’s ref dispute can compete with such blatant dumbfuckery that the NHL owners are showing here.  In fact, this may be the dumbest sports labor issue ever.  Well done, you band of ringmeats.

Another Clown Claims the Crown

Nearly each season in Survivor, we are gifted with a contestant that hatches some can’t-miss plan.  They usually involve making multiple alliances or a bit of back-stabbing that will end up with a blindside vote at tribal council.  Some plans are brilliantly conceived and are beautifully executed with accordant results.  Those plans are always the brainchildren (is that a word?) of the more educated players.  Some plans are hatched by guys like Zane.  This is Zane.

If I told you Zane here was born and bred in Kentucky, didn’t have a high school diploma, was a veteran of the paper hat and nametag work scene, currently works as  a tire re-treader and was the one to hatch a can’t-miss plan immediately after losing the immunity challenge, which way would you answer?

A…Plan comes off without a hitch.  Zane  the mastermind is installed as the new kingpin of his tribe.  He is now in a position of power.  Shit just got real.  ZANE real.

B…Plan mostly works.  Zane escapes unscathed at tribal, but doesn’t fulfill the endgame of the plan.  He’s still solidly placed in an alliance that controls the game.

C…Plan fails.  Someone else gets voted off at tribal , Zane survives by the skin of his teeth and is now on shaky ground with a weak alliance.  His place in the game is very precarious.

D…Plan explodes in his inbred face.  Zane looks every bit the idiot he’s portrayed himself as and is voted off with extreme prejudice.

Before you guess, let me fill you in on what Zane’s plan was.  During the immunity challenge, Zane, a recent (less than 3 days) ex-smoker caused his team to fall behind in the challenge, a deficit they never made up, losing the challenge and forcing them to vote someone out that night.  Back at camp, Zane decided to take the blame for the loss and insist he was fine with being voted out.  The whole tribe was kind of shocked and looked glad that they had a patsy volunteer for the chopping block.  It’s often tough at your first tribal council, not knowing who is the biggest liability.  Zane made it easy.

So far, so good, I assumed.  I mean, surely this was the groundwork for one helluva plan.  I couldn’t wait to see how this Mozart played the keys of the strategy piano and engineered his salvation.  What was the masterstroke of the can’t miss plan?

He went to the other tribe members and tried to initiate a blindside of Russell by using his Kentucky hillbilly charms on them.  He tried to make himself the lovable loser and went for the pity.  This fucking idiot decided to go for pity 3 days into the game.  Let’s say his gambit DID work.  How long did he hope to milk that angle?  You don’t win Survivor on 39 days of pity.  You get voted out real fast when the pity stops.  Instead of laying low and rallying support to dump the incredibly unpopular Russell, he jumped into the breach and went ass-up.  The bitch of it was he was openly laughing about his gamesmanship and how his plan was sure to work before tribal.

Let’s get back to our quiz.  I bet you guessed D.  Well, you’d be right.  At tribal, the vote went 5 against Zane and only Zane’s lone vote against Russell.  Walking away from tribal, Einstein Jr remarked, “Son of  a bitch” and was flabbergasted in his closing remarks to close the show.  This wasn’t as stupid as how James (twice) got voted off with immunity idols in his pocket, but it sure deserves a spot in the team photo.  Well done, Zane Einstein!!  You are an official Survivor legend!!

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by: Tony Leva
email: tonytrucker1969@gmail.com

Loaded for Bear – The Offense

Going into the 2012 season, there are grand expectations for Bears fans.  Grand, yet reachable.  The reasons for optimism are totally valid in this case.  For years, the team has been plagued by poor quarterbacking and substandard depth and quality at the WR corps.  This season, our franchise QB was given a legit group of weapons to play with. Marshall, Jeffery, Hester, Bennett and Token White Guy have a chance to do some damage.  Adding quality RB Michael Bush was a nice touch to compliment Forte.  It all going to come down to health and the play of the offensive line.  They don’t need to play at a Pro Bowl level, but they need to be competent.  Let’s break down the offense and see what’s what.

QB – Recent Bears history has been full of shitawful QBing. The backup spot never mattered more than this past season when Jay Cutler broke his thumb. A team that had legit Super Bowl hopes was suddenly as impotent as Jerry Sandusky’s wang in a Hooters with Caleb Hanie at the controls.  The very same Caleb Hanie who was championed by the idiot section of the fanbase after the 2011 NFC title game.  Remember those clueless jerkoffs?  Anyway, it was proven that Hanie was shit and he’s been replaced by a legitimate NFL QB in Jason Campbell.  In a similar situation, we’d have someone who could actually play the position now.  That’s a nice feeling.

Going with only two rostered QBs, the Bears are hoping for great health in this spot.  I’d love to see us get some breaks this year and give Cutler a shot at a healthy season.  This season could be special.  GRADE – A

RB – Let’s recap some recent history….Forte wants to get paid, turns down an offer that carried a $14M guarantee, comes to camp and gives away his leverage by showing up, plays at a Pro Bowl-level, gets hurt, wants even more money than he wanted before, looks like a whiny pud, watches the team sign Bush, feels like he may have fucked himself, ends up taking a solid deal to stay here.  Did I miss anything?

Forte and Bush should be about as solid a duo as there is in the league.  Both are solid vets who should compliment each other well.  Armando Allen should provide a nice scatback element to the offense.  Should be a fun group to watch.  GRADE – B+

O-Line – Ummmm, nothing to worry about, right?  I mean, once Gabe Carimi turns into an All-Pro, things will fall into place.  J’Marcus Webb will play like a young Orlando Pace, I’m sure!!  Things will be great!!

Yeah, let’s dial it back a notch.  For this unit to give the offense a chance to thrive, they’ll need one thing above all else….health.  If the starting five guys can stay together and jell a bit, they have a shot at being competent enough to give Jay 4 or 5 seconds on a consistent basis.  We need them to be mentally into it, not letting their minds wander and take penalty after bad penalty.  Competence would be acceptable at the moment.  I’ll believe it when I see it.  GRADE – D

Let’s Wreck Some Shit – The Defense

[youtube http://youtu.be/vGwUpM9QryU]

D-Line – This is, in my opinion, the very key to the defense this season.  In any defense, the pass rush makes or breaks it.  The team addressed this area with their first draft pick, DE Shea McClellin.  Many of us wanted an offensive lineman, but they went this way.  I’m willing to trust someone not named Jerry Angelo in his first draft making this pick.  If he realizes his role, he could give Pro Bowler Julius Peppers someone to take some of the pressure off.  The unit is depending on it’s depth to keep fresh players rotating in and eventually winning the late battles by doing so.  Phil Emery won’t get a pass if his hunch doesn’t pay off.  GRADE – B

Linebackers –  Brian Urlacher’s knee.  Do I need to say more?  I tend to think Urlacher will be healthy enough to start the season and make contributions to a unit that isn’t very deep.  As long as Lance Briggs is the best LB on the team, we’ll still be dangerous.  Urlacher’s knee won’t make or break the season, but a healthy knee will obviously be a tremendous piece of luck.  GRADE – B+

Defensive Backs – No other unit on the team is as dependent on another unit as the d-backs are dependent on the d-line to generate a consistent pass rush and limit the time these guys have to cover opposing WRs, some of which are goddamned monsters….Calvin Johnson, that crew from GB, etc.  Peanut Tillman has been a solid player but it seems he may be slipping a bit.  A hopefully resurgent Kelvin Hayden will provide some depth and experience to a unit that had issues last season.  DJ Moore and Tim Jennings seem to provide a spark at times.  I’d love to see this unit step it up and surprise the skeptics, myself included.  GRADE – C

Special Teams –  With the Greatest Kick Returner of all Time (G.K.R.o.a.T. from now on) back to playing at a Pro Bowl level, the team added former Pro Bowl special teams player Eric Weems and another ST ace in Blake Costanzo to an already unit.  There are few things one can count on in life and the Chicago Bears special teams units playing their asses off and making plays is among them.  Already the NFL record holder for career TD returns, the G.K.R.o.a.T. is as deadly a weapon in the open field as the game has ever seen.  He’s just a joy to watch.

[youtube http://youtu.be/HuCMb9FYyDA]

PK Robbie Gould is the 5th most accurate, by percentage, field goal kicker in NFL history.  He’s always a solid bet and seems to work hard on his game each season.  Having a kicker you don’t have to worry about it a pleasure.

As for the punting, Adam Podlesh and Ryan Quigley will be battling for the spot and doing a credible job of it.  I’m not worried about the punting as it is.  GRADE – A+

Coaching – Lovie is not always a great in-game coach.  I think he does a great job from Monday to Saturday, but he gets dumb somehow for 3 or 4 hours on game day, blowing time outs and challenges like they were free with every purchase at your local 7-11.  Lovie is almost in the same predicament as the o-line….he doesn’t need to be great, just don’t fuck up the easy, basic stuff and let your team win it for you.  I think the rest of the staff will do a good enough job to keep the ship on a straight course.  The schedule this season is filled with winnable games.  Lovie and Co. should be able to guide the squad to at least 9-10 wins, if not more with a good dose of luck and health.  GRADE – B

Outlook – Without a perfect team in the league, the Bears seem to have as good a shot as anyone to get hot near the end of the season, a la the 2010 Packers and the 2011 Giants, and make a serious run at the Super Bowl.  They were hitting their stride last season and have added to that bunch in hopes of sustaining that feeling and success.  The schedule coupled with health and luck could make for some really fun times this season for Bears fans.    Add in the fact that the NFC North is one of the best divisions in football with the dirty rat bastard Packers and the Lions both expected to make a run at the SB and there could be some dramatic football played down the stretch.  I’m going with an 11-5 record and a playoff berth for the team, with a legit shot at glory in attendance.  They’re going for it and should be rewarded.

[youtube http://youtu.be/67BR5zcPAFM]

by: Tony Leva
email: tonytrucker1969@gmail.com

White Sox fans…paging all Sox fans…..your team is wondering where the fuck you are…

78,127.  That’s how many people turned out for this week’s first-place White Sox series against the mighty, and also first-place, New York Yankees, a series the Sox ended up sweeping.  Read that number again, this time paired with the capacity….

78,127/121,845.   One more time, in bold.  And italics.

78,127/121,845.

That’s 64% of capacity for a series between two first place teams in late August (capacity at the Cellblock is 40,615).  Where the fuck where you people?  How could there have been no fan momentum in this series?  I can see the low turnout for the opener a bit.  The Sox had just gotten swept by Kansas City and the axe looked to be falling.  Many could be forgiven for deciding to come disguised as empty seats for the opener that drew 27,561 fans (67.9% full)  .  After the Sox pounded 4 homers in an exciting 9-6 win in the opener, surely there would be excitement for game two, right?  They’d draw 30,000, no problem, right?  It’s a cinch, surely.

Nope.

They drew a paltry 24,247 fans (59.7% full).  Less than 60% of that park was occupied on a beautiful summer night the night after a slugfest.  Okay, maybe Sox fans thought there was bound to be a letdown and decided to do meth or bang crack-whores or whatever it is that Sox fans do when they aren’t going to the park.   Fine.  But after game 2’s 7-3 Sox obliteration of the Yanks and the Sox going for the sweep with the A.L.’s best pitcher, Chris Sale, on the hill, you’d figure the place would be packed for game 3, right?  Well, maybe not packed, but maybe a great  turnout in the neighborhood of 35,000?  Well, okay, maybe 35K is a stretch.  Certainly they could expect to break the coveted 30K plateau?  Come on…..30,000 fans are going to come out, right?  Certainly it was to be true, right?

Nope.

A seriously laughable 26,319  souls turned out to witness Sale earn his 15th win and lead the team to a 2-1 win and series sweep.  Where the fuck was everyone?  I mean, this is the same group of “fans” that rip Cubs fans for going out to games even when we suck.  It’s all “NO WONDER YOUSE GUYS AINT NEVER WON NUTTIN!!  (takes huge hit off the glass dick, passes it to his dad)  DAT TEAM SUCKS AN DAT PARK IS A TOILET AN YOU’RE ALL GAY BECAUSE BOYSTOWN IS DOWN THE STREET!!!  (exhales a hit that would kill a horse)  WE ONLY GO WHEN WE WIN BECAUSE WE’RE SMART!!”

That’s what we get from them on a constant basis.  Then they fail to cash that check they wrote with their stretch-marked mouths.  What excuses could they possibly have for not walking the walk after talking the talk?   Where was Joe Fakesoxfan all week?  I thought this was the type of series that would be perfect to generate some sort of buzz, especially the way it unfolded….a slugfest in game 1 leading into a Sox domination in game 2 that prefaced the Sale start for the sweep.  What the fuck were these mouth-breathing clowns waiting for?  Seriously?

From now I don’t want to hear shit from these cocklunches.  If they couldn’t even get 28,000 against the Yankees to that VERY nice ballpark (I can admit it.  They did a tremendous job with the renovations) with both teams in first place, they have no right to ever throw that argument at me ever again.  The next one that does it gets a visit from Mr. Backhand.

The Most Interesting Knee in Chicago

or

As The Knee Turns

I can’t decide which of these headers I like better, so I’m going with both of them.

Flashback to last season’s finale against Minnesota.  Bears MLB Brian Urlacher, a future HOFer, sprained his MCL late in the game.  No additional damage was found and surgery was avoided.  Camp began and the knee swelled up, which eventually led to arthroscopic surgery, sidelining #54 for the rest of camp and possibly into the season.  All early signs show Urlacher should be ready sooner rather than later, an encouraging sign.  Aiding his recovery is the fact he went to Europe this summer and underwent a blood-spinning procedure.  Here’s a link to what it is… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood-spinning  That’s cutting-edge stuff right there.

So how does Urlacher’s absence in the short-term affect us?  Not very much.  The Bears open against a bad Indianapolis team, who they should be able to beat even without Urlacher.  They have a quick turn-around Thursday night against Green Bay, which is kind of stupid to schedule early in the season.  But Green Bay isn’t indomitable by any means, nor are the Rams the week after that.  Those are 3 very winnable games in a schedule full of winnable games.  That’s short-term.

Long-term, it’s never good to lose a player like Urlacher, but this wouldn’t be the 27 year old version we’d be losing.  It’s the 34 year old version…the version with 11+ seasons of rough play under his belt.  He’s not the best player on the defense anymore.  That would be Julius Peppers.  He’s not even the best LB on the defense anymore.  That would be Lance Briggs.  Hell, he’s not even the best white guy on the team anymore.  That would be Jay Cutler.  Speaking of Cutler, isn’t it funny how nobody said shit when Urlacher suffered the EXACT same injury Cutler did and came out of the game against Minny?  Cutler played with his, without pain relief, for over a quarter and had to be removed from the game but he’s viewed as soft.  Urlacher came right out and is forever labeled a warrior.  I love hypocritical douchebaggery, but I digress.

The bottom line is that this injury is hardly season-wrecking from a team standpoint.  There are few indispensable players on the Bears and Urlacher is no longer first and foremost among them.  A healthy Urlacher is still a plus of course, but he’s not a deal-breaker anymore.  Few 34 year olds can claim that distinction as it is.

 

by: Tony Leva
email: tonytrucker1969@gmail.com

Dempster stops acting like a wank, goes away.

After receiving plenty of negative feedback from numerous Cubs fans following his decision to veto the Atlanta trade I talked about last week. Dempster, who somehow became The People’s Champion (said with dripping sarcasm), allowed himself to be dealt to the Rangers literally five minutes before the deadline expired at 3 pm Tuesday. While the return from Texas (third baseman Christian Villanueva and right-handed pitcher Kyle Hendricks, both from high-Class A Myrtle Beach) isn’t immediately viewed to be as strong as Randall Delgado, it was still more than the Cubs might have expected to get. Both players show some promising traits and will be tossed onto the massing pile of depth being built in the Cubs’s minor leagues. Maybe neither of these guys make it, but it shows the deep commitment TheoCo has the plan. Even The People’s Champion (TPC henceforth) isn’t immune from the TradeHammer. If you build enough depth and collect enough talent, eventually enough will blossom and bear fruit.

So endeth the era of TPC, a Tommy John reclamation project who became an All-Star for the Cubs, did the single worst Harry Caray impression anyone has ever seen, choked like a dog against the Dodgers in 2008, taking the air out of the team and setting that ugly sweep in motion, endeared himself to many with his charitable works, did his little glove-flippy thing and ended up looking like a hypocritical turd. I respect his charity stuff, but he’s never been off my shit list since the aforementioned choking in 2008. Good riddance to him and bring on the new era of Cubs baseball.

BEARS IN CAMP!!

It’s still early in camp, but we’ve seen a few interesting things happen so far. The battle at left tackle seems to be tilting in JaMarcus Webb’s favor, which isn’t a surprise. Rookie Shea McClellin has been struggling a bit in his first camp. Brandon Marshall hasn’t punched a bitch yet. Lovie almost raised his voice above that monotone he never strays from. Urlacher has yet to whine about his contract, which I was a bit worried about.

There are a few other position battles going on, but the team is set at the glamour spots…QB, RB, WR, LB. Until we see some game action, it’s tough for me to take anything that happens in camp seriously. A few years ago, 2007 if I recall, the reporters were raving about the offense they were seeing in camp. Over and over, it was MAN, THESE GUYS ARE CLICKING OUT THERE!!! and the like.

Then, the season started and they sucked ass and missed the playoffs. So until they crack heads with Denver next week, I’ll holster my Cutlerection and all it’s attendant glory. I’ll have ample opportunity to whip it around during the season, I’m sure. Looking at the Bears’ schedule, I’m seeing lots of bad teams and lots of bad defenses. If this new offense can click, it’s going to be a 9-11 win season, especially if the D/ST have great seasons. As long as special teams coordinators keep kicking to Hester, anything is possible. If there’s one rock-solid fact in the NFL right now, it’s that Hester is one bad motherfucker. He’s like Jules’s wallet in Pulp Fiction.

The Olympics started? When?

No, I know they’ve begun. After the snoozefest of an opening ceremonies, we’ve seen a badminton scandal (I knew the Olympic badminton scene was as crooked as a snake’s dick), Michael Phelps become the most decorated Olympian ever, the US women gymnastic team win Gold, Gabrielle Douglas win individual Gold in a rout and the US men’s hoops team win a game by 83 before they sweep to their own Gold medals in a week or so. That’s about all I’ve been following so far, and that’s being generous.

I think the oncoming Bears season combined with the excitement of the arrival of The Riz, with a bunch of baseball trade deadline stuff mixed in have kind of blunted the allure of the Games. I’m not the biggest Summer Games guy anyway, but I usually get into it somewhat. I have no issue with getting psyched for the Winter Games obviously, but there was just no obvious for me draw this time around. Odd.

The 10th Annual Wrigleyfest

It’s coming, and it’s going to be spectacular.

by: Tony Leva
email: tonytrucker1969@gmail.com

Ryan Dempster and his sandy vagina

This past week, the Cubs and Braves agreed to a trade.  Cubs free agent-to-be pitcher Ryan Dempster was to be dealt to the Braves for highly regarded pitching prospect Randall Delgado.  The common thought amongst those of us who pay serious attention to baseball and it’s inner workings was that the Cubs would be lucky to get merely a solid prospect for Dempster.  At 35 years old and having a career year,  Dempster has somewhat limited trade value.  He is basically a rental player for whoever trades for him, unless that team either signs him to an extension or re-signs him after the season.  With little more than two months left in the season, roughly 60 games, Dempster could be expected to make about 12 starts for his new team, assuming a 5 man rotation.  12 starts isn’t a whole lot, which is why we didn’t expect much more than what we did.  But there was a snag…

The snag was the fact that Dempster is a 10/5 guy….he’s been in the majors for 10 years, the last 5 with the same team.  This gives him automatic veto power over ANY trade the Cubs wished to make.  This is in the standard player contract and has been collectively bargained.  It’s been around for decades and has been worked around for just as long.  Players generally okay a deal to a desirable team or for a contract extension.  Dempster was asked about waiving his 10/5 rights and agreed to consider being traded to a contender.

We all figured Dempster would be traded this season and the weeks dragged on as TheoCo sought out the best deal.  A possible deal with the Dodgers kind of died on the vine as L.A. wouldn’t part with top prospect Zach Lee.  This wasn’t a shock for the reasons I’ve covered.   But from nowhere, the Braves were being mentioned as a possible trade partner.  In what seemed like no time at all, a deal was hammered out with the Braves, a contender currently in 2nd place in the NL East.    The news of the trade broke somewhat prematurely on Monday afternoon on the Braves website.  The big issue?  Dempster hadn’t yet waived the 10/5 clause.  Well, we figured, this was nothing that would be an issue.

Wrong.

Dempster was taking a nap before the game in Pittsburgh that night and awoke to his phone blowing up with texts and voicemails.  It seems everyone he knew was calling for the scoop or to offer congrats or whatever people do when someone they know gets traded.  As he figured out what had happened, he said he felt, “blind-sided”.  As the day went on, Cubs fans eagerly awaited the news that Dempster has agreed to the trade.  We did our homework on Delgado and what he’d bring to the table for us.  Let’s look at him a bit closer….

22 years old.  6′ 2″, 170.  RHP.  Rated by Baseball America 2012 as the #46 prospect in the game, #41 by Baseball Prospectus, #43 by ScoutingBook Combine.  This is from ScoutingBook’s own website…

A wiry power pitcher with three quality pitches and developing control, Randall Delgado looks every bit the part of a young phenom: some days he can blow hitters away, while on other days he looks lost on the mound. His fastball, which can touch 95, lives more in the 92mph range with significant late movement. He got a look at the Braves big club in 2011, and he should get a much longer look in 2012. Depending on how beat up the major league staff is in midsummer, he could even get a call to stay.

Sounds like a steal for TheoCo, right?  I mean, surely this was a masterstroke!!!  There is no WAY that a prospect this solidly ranked with that much upside should have been exchanged for 12 starts of a pitcher on the downside of his career who is unsigned beyond 2012.  WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG AT THIS STAGE?  WAIVING THAT 10/5 CLAUSE IS A FORMALITY, RIGHT?

Again….wrong.

What happened is that Dempster decided to get a big wad of sand firmly entrenched in his vageen because the Braves stupidly leaked the news. He initially denied there was a trade.   He hemmed and hawed and decided he “needs to do what’s best for my family” and vetoed the trade.  In doing so, he scuttled what was a serious home run deal for TheoCo.  Dealing Dempster, doing us a favor by not pitching like his usual mediocre self, at peak value for OVER that value wasn’t an easy trick to manage I’m sure.  They caught a team in the hunt with a serious need for a pitcher with their pants down and fleeced them.  And Dempster fucked it all up because his little feelings were hurt.  By doing so, he was seen as a waffling, selfish asswipe who went back on his word.

I never have an issue with a player invoking his 10/5 rights or a flat no-trade clause due to family considerations.  A few years ago, the Cubs asked 1B Derrek Lee if he would accept a trade to the Angels (I think).  Lee, who has a daughter with a medical issue, said thanks, but he’d prefer to stay in Chicago.  Nobody said shit about it because Lee was up-front about not wanting to leave.  There was nothing more to be said about it.

The difference is that Dempster said he’d take a trade to a contender, Atlanta certainly being that.  What could be the big deal about going to Atlanta for two or three months?  Yes, he has a child with special needs as well as Lee did.  (Riley Dempster was born with DiGeorge syndrome a few years ago).   But why didn’t Dempster just tell TheoCo that he wouldn’t consider a deal?  That we could have understood.  Anyone would have.  But the story doesn’t end there.

Dempster has said he’d like to be dealt to the Dodgers, who courted a trade earlier as I stated.  His good buddy Ted Lilly is on the Dodgers and Dempster would like to be re-united with him to continue their bromance.  (For the record, that will be the last time you see me use anything with the prefix “bro” on it.  It’s so fucking stupid I’d like to de-ball the clown who got that off the ground.)  So let me get this straight, Ryan….Atlanta is bad for your family, but L.A. is a shining beacon of values and high standards or something?  Is that what’s best for them?

What a hypocrite.  All he did was probably lessen the return that the Cubs get, hurting the rebuilding process and keeping us that much further away from a championship.  The Dodgers already wouldn’t meet our asking price, so we know for a fact the return won’t be as highly valued as Delgado is.  Add in the fact Dempster pitched on Wednesday and his value has dropped a bit due to that very fact….it’s one less start his new team will get.  It’s maddening to see a respected player like Dempster go back on his word and inhibit the plan TheoCo have in place.  He has always said he’d do anything to help the Cubs, yet when push came to shove, he acted like a teenaged girl who got felt up at the movies and pitched a fit.

I, and others, have lost some serious respect for the guy after this.  His baseball card should have this picture on it as far as I’m concerned.

by: Tony Leva
email: tonytrucker1969@gmail.com

The Sox are trying to win me over

If you know me, you know I’m the furthest thing from a White Sox fan.  It’s a tale I’ve told before and it’s not really relevant at this stage of the story.  Suffice to say, since 1985, I’ve been adamantly opposed to all things Sox.  When they’ve had players I liked, it was only a couple at a time….Carlton Fisk, Robin Ventura, Ozzie Guillen.  Just kidding…Ozzie has always been a loudmouth prick that I couldn’t stand.  But I could stomach rooting for a player or two as long as the Sox sucked.  I recall being at a game where Ventura hit a walk-off grand slam and cheering like mad.  I’m a baseball fan and that was a great moment to see live.  But there’s something afoot on the South Side these days….they have a bunch of players I like and I’m confused as all hell by it.

Right now, there are FOUR players on the Sox that I really like.  It’s tough rooting for these guys and hoping they succeed and hoping the Sox lose every damn game as well.  It’s almost mathematically impossible for these things to dovetail over and over again.  Let’s take a look at who I hope doesn’t get hotel food poisoning every road trip…

Adam Dunn, the king of the 3 outcome players is the first.

Dunn is simply fantastic theatre. What I mean by a “3 outcome player” is that most of his at-bats result one of three ways….a base on balls, a titanic strikeout or a complete and utter fucking BOMB of a homer. His walks are fun to watch….he works the count in a professional hitter way and intimidates the pitcher into staying away from him is how it usually goes. I like that because intimidation is not easy to do. His strikeouts are fun because that big bastard doesn’t get cheated when he swings and misses. I swear you can feel the breeze when he whiffs, even on TV. I haven’t seen monster hacks like those since the last Friday the 13th movie. And there, of course, are his homers. Keep fingers crossed that the link works….

That’s just sexy. How a guy can hit a ball that far and majestically is beyond me. I love guys like this…scary-good. Scary-good is an adjective that describes my next guy….

Chris Sale and his video game stuff.

One thing that makes baseball great is the constant infusion of new talent. Sometimes it lasts for a player’s whole career and sometimes it burns bright for a spell, then fades away like it was too good to be true in the first place. Time will tell where Chris Sale will end up, but for now, he’s one of the best pitchers in the game and watching him deal is a thing to behold this season. When I referred to his “video game stuff”, it’s about his electric fastball and insane breaking stuff that looks like you’re playing on a console with a guy whose speed and movement attributes you’ve adjusted to 99 each and set him loose on your TV. But Sale is all too real right now and it’s fun to watch him demolish lineup after lineup. Baseball needs all the young talent it can get right now and Sale, an All-Star this season, is a top talent right now. I love guys like this. My next Sox player is also the newest one…

Kevin Youkilis, Greek God of Walks

First things first. Youkilis is not Greek…he’s Jewish. But being called The Hebrew Walkmaster doesn’t have any sort of ring to it, nor does The Strolling Shylock (Yeah, yeah, not PC, but I don’t take that crap seriously. Don’t get your panties all wadded over it). His nickname is one of the coolest to come down the baseball pike in decades. Back in the old days, cool nicknames were as common as Kardashian jokes….The Yankee Clipper, The Iron Horse, Teddy Ballgame, Stan the Man, The Say Hey Kid, etc. We needed some new cool ones and The Greek God of Walks is balls awesome. Pun intended.

The other cool things about Youk are his odd batting stance….

and his attitude and approach to the game.

His stance is not what you’d teach a young hitter. Holding the bat with an odd split-grip, with his top hand almost pinching the bat, Youk slides his hand down and moves his whole body into the swing. It’s hard for me to describe, but it’s really cool to watch such an individual approach at the dish. Whatever works for you is what you use. As for his attitude, he’s long been known as a team player who’d die for his teammates. Boston had a solid young player to move into Youk’s spot and Bobby Valentine didn’t do him any favors by dicking with such a respected veteran. The Sox picked him up for two guys who can’t play in the big leagues and made out like bandits. My last Sox guy isn’t a player, but he’s an important cog in the machine and has been pne of the most pleasant surprises of the baseball season.

Robin Ventura, Manager of the Year?

I couldn’t resist posting that pic. But that’s not why I like Ventura. As a player, he was a power-hitting, smooth-fielding 3rd baseman who was a class act and hard worker, coming back from one of the most horrific ankle injuries I’ve ever seen. When the Sox tabbed him as their next manager this past off-season, most people thought they made a huge mistake and were upset that Ventura would be set up for such a glorious shot at failure. Not just failure….EPIC failure. The type of failure that would have Sox fans calling for his head by the time the All-Star break rolled around. Somehow, it didn’t happen.

The Sox hit the break in first place and Ventura’s calming influence (read: he’s not a colossal prick in the ass like Ozzie was) has been a big factor in the Sox’s place in the standings. He’s shown an aptitude for setting a lineup and has been learning on the job in other aspects, like handling a pitching staff. Having 8 rookies on a pitching staff isn’t common, but the team has been pulling it off so far. It may crash and burn as the season wears on, but Ventura has been doing a bang-up job with what he’s been given. I can’t root against him the way I did Ozzie. Like Mick once said…”You can’t always get what you want”.

Cubs fans are fucking stupid again

In retrospect, I should have seen this coming. It should have been glaringly obvious. It really was a no-brainer. After being as many as 24 games under .500 this season, the Cubs have had a nice run where they’ve won 13 of 18 and have rocketed all the way up to a mark of 38-53 at the moment. Any sane fan would be enjoying this brief run of success in a sea of bad baseball, all the while knowing the inevitable shitty month of games is going to follow. Not some of these morons.

Apparently, this recent wave of not sucking total ass has some in Cubs nation thinking this team is now a contender. Never mind that no team that was as many as 18 games under .500 has come back to actually finish .500. The 1991 Brewers were 17 games under at one point and finished 83-79, good for finishing 8 games behind division champ Toronto. The Cubs were 7 games worse than those Brewers, or roughly 30% worse than them. So let me get this straight, you collection of baseball retards…..the Cubs are going to re-write the history books and demolish the standing record of coming back from the most games under .500 AND catch the division leader? Cincinnati is the current NL Central leader with a 52-40 record, good for a .565 winning percentage, which projects to 91.5 wins. With me so far?

To finish with a projected needed win total of 93 wins, the Cubs would need to go 55-16, which translates to a winning percentage of .775. Consider that NO team has EVER played a full season at that pace. I’m quite certain that a team or two may have played at a comparable pace over a similar number of games, but those teams weren’t 24 games under .500 at any point in their seasons. This Cubs team, filled with holes and bad players, isn’t going to be the first. We need to see this team for what is was before the season and what it still is…a work in progress. Just because The Riz is here, (I had to work him in somewhere this week) doesn’t mean we’re good all of a sudden.

Anyone who thinks we have a chance needs to call or email me. I have some beachfront property in my backyard you might be interested in. It’s time the entire fanbase smartens up and stops idiotic shit like saying, “WE’RE STILL ALIVE!!” because we’re now here near alive. Get over yourselves and get a clue about baseball.

by: Tony Leva
email: tonytrucker1969@gmail.com

A Leader is Born

As much as I’ve loved what I’ve seen from young Anthony Rizzo both with the bat and with his glove, he really showed me something I didn’t expect from a player of his age and experience.  During a game against the Braves on July 2nd, a ground ball was hit to shortstop Starlin Castro by Dan Uggla.  After fielding the ball, Castro hesitated before throwing over to first base.  Uggla beat the late throw and many, me included, assumed it was just another brain fart/concentration issue for Starlin.  After the Braves were retired, Castro was immediately called over by manager Dale Sveum, presumably for a “keep your head out of your ass” lecture.  He’s gotten them before and I applaud Sveum for doing so.  But this time, there was a wrinkle.

The Riz went right up to Sveum and said it was his fault, that he took too long to get back to the bag.  Uggla is a right-handed hitter and an extreme pull hitter.  The Cubs infielders were swung around in a shift, leaving The Riz playing far off the bag near the hole.  When the grounder was hit, Rizzo was late to break to first, causing the hesitation on Castro’s part.  Now, many young players who made a mistake like that would see that their manager was ready to lay the blame on another.  He could have slipped into the dugout unnoticed, let Castro take the blame from Sveum and the fans who want to blame him for everything, and nobody would have been the wiser.

But The Riz isn’t just any young player.

He did what a leader does….immediately owned the blame.  He didn’t look to pass the buck.  At age 22, The Riz was ready, willing and able to step up like a veteran player, own up to a mistake and accept any consequences that came of it.  Sveum accepted the explanation and I’m sure was impressed at the maturity level of a young rookie, only 22 years old, already looking out for a teammate. You don’t see that in a whole lot of youngsters.  A leadership role is something some need to grow into.  You need a certain level of confidence in yourself to be able to take charge of others in a team sport.  Some are born with it and have always done it.  Jonathan Toews is a perfect example.  The Riz seems to be another.

When the Cubs were winning divisions in 2007 and 08, they didn’t really have a take-charge guy.  The closest they got was a guy like Derrek Lee, who never seemed like a strong personality or someone the other players took their cues from.  Building a winning team involves more than getting good hitters and pitchers.  You need players who can lead and impose a winning attitude upon the entire clubhouse or locker room.  Taking the blame like The Riz did is the type of thing that others notice and admire.  Players with this type of attitude and makeup are what TheoCo are trying to acquire along with talent.  I think they can mark this one in the positive side of the ledger.

The PSU Investigation Report

I’m not going to hammer on this topic.  There is plenty out there online about the release of the Freeh report and the ensuing reactions and emotions.  You can’t escape it.   I’ll therefore try to be brief….

What the Freeh investigation proved was that coach Joe Paterno, PSU president Graham Spanier, PSU vice-president Gary Schultz and athletic director Tim Curley all actively engaged in a massive cover-up of the activities of Jerry Sandusky.  Four insanely powerful and influential men did nothing to stop a serial rapist from perpetuating his vile activities, even allowing him unrestricted access to on-campus buildings and facilities, accompanied by numerous children (read: victims) for years even after they knew he had been under investigation for abusing children.  This had been suspected, but it’s now been proven.

The PSU program, termed “The Grand Experiment” was built by Paterno was built on a foundation of integrity, honesty and honor.  Paterno preached all of that and the PSU power-that-be embraced it.  It turned out to be a house of cards, built on a foundation of lies.  Integrity?  Please spare me.  Honesty?  Paterno lied to the grand jury about what he knew and when he knew it.  Honor?  Not a chance.  The entirety of PSU has been dishonored by the actions of those four and others like Mike McQueary, who saw Sandusky raping a kid on campus in the showers of the athletic building and did nothing to stop it.

There is no more defending any of those involved.   There is no more trying to justify Paterno’s reporting of the shower incident to his superiors.  There are no more questions about who knew what or when they knew it.  I do have one question though….who fits this definition?

sociopath, noun….a person with a psychopathic personality  whose behavior is anti-social,  often criminal, and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience.

There are at least four acceptable answers I can think of here.  I’m sure you can figure them out because they fit them to a T.

Lying Thievery is Alive and Well

I’m not bitching about the recent dispute with Viacom that resulted in DTV dropping the Viacom network’s channels….MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon and all their attendant channels, Comedy Central and a bunch of others.  That’s just a couple of fat kids holding their breath over who gets the bigger slice of the 16″ pizza in front of them.  There’s more than enough for both, yet they’re acting like spoiled little assholes.  But I digress….

No, what I’m bitching about is that DTV lied to or misled me from the beginning about what channels they offered, what their DVR capabilities were and the functionality of those DVRs.  I’ve burned thru more anytime minutes on my phone (good thing I have an unlimited plan) with these clowns than Keith Richards blew thru coke in the 70’s.  Well, maybe not.  But the point remains….DTV sucks a big fat hairy cock and my opinion won’t change until they make their service call Sunday and try to set this shit straight.

My money says they still fuck it up.

by: Tony Leva
email: tonytrucker1969@gmail.com

The Riz’s Big Week

As of this writing, The Riz has played 9 games for the Cubs as the most hyped prospect since Mark Prior burst onto the scene in 2002.  So far, The Riz has put up a .323/.344/.710 slash line with 3 home runs (all of which were impressive for different reasons that I’ll get to) and a kickass OPS of 1.053.  Even though some are calling him Our Savior (I’m not copyrighting that one), he’s not.  He is just a kid still learning how to play the game and tap into that skill set he has.  Being a savior means you and you alone are responsible for a team’s success.  Theo Epstein is not a savior.  Nor are Jed Hoyer or Jason MacLeod.  They, along with The Riz and other young talents on the way, are all pieces of a big picture.  But I digress….back to getting my Riz-boner going.  Let’s take a quick look at his homeruns…

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This was The Riz’s first Cubs home run.  There was undue pressure on this kid to be the Next Big Thing and all us Cubs fans were anxious to see if he could live up to even a bit of the hype.  Getting this first homer out-of-the-way was a load off his mind.  He also hit it a ton and we all watched it soar majestically into the RF seats.  It gave us a lead and we won the game.  Hitting a game-winner for your introduction to Cubs fans absolutely met our expectations.  On to homer two…

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Coming against one of baseball’s better young pitchers, Tommy Hanson, this homer gave the Cubs a 1-0 lead in a game they’d end up winning 4-1.  The Cubs don’t play very well in Atlanta, even when they have a good team, which they clearly don’t this season.   While hitting the homer was important, it carried two impressive factors….the sound and where it went.  Listen again to the sound the bat makes when The Riz makes contact.  That is some serious shit.  It’s a CRACK! that resounded through the park and made you turn your head to ask, “”WHO HIT THAT BALL SO FUCKING HARD?”  Most players don’t produce such a crack-of-the-bat reaction.  The Riz does.  The second factor is where that ball went and how it got there.  Not all players can hit to the opposite field with power, especially at 22 years old.  As CFer Michael Bourn starts back on the ball, he breaks into the “That bitch is gone” jog really quickly.  Bourn didn’t think that ball would carry so, as evidenced by where he was playing The Riz,….more straightaway than shifted over.  I don’t think anyone had scouted the oppo field power.  They now know.  Onto home run number three…

MLB isn’t letting us embed this one.

While this one was pulled, it was a different sort of shot than homer #1.  The first was a soaring, majestic bomb that took a couple seconds to leave the yard.  This was a goddamned bullet that screamed out of Turner Field with a flight-speed velocity that rivaled Katie Holmes’s sprint away from that whackjob she provided the beard for.  This ball traveled so fast that it rivaled myself looking for the new Kate Upton dance video.  (I’m not obsessed, I’m just in lust)  This homer also produced that great CRACK! sound that his second homer made.  In short, this kid can fucking RAKE at 22 years old.

“But Tony,” you say, “what about the glovework?  Can The Riz field or is he just a one-dimensional slugger?”  Well, here’s  a clip answering that question…

That run that The Riz cut down turned out to be kind of large….the Cubs won that game 3-2.  That was the game he hit homer #1, btw.  He’s doing it all!!  Seriously, he looks very comfortable at the big league level so far.  He’s not giving away at-bats.  He’s not been overmatched by anything yet.  He hasn’t been pressing and is letting the game come to him while he gains even more confidence and experience.  His makeup is as important as his baseball skillset and both have been fully displayed thus far.  Here’s hoping he keeps it going.

Minnesota Goes for It.

Hockey’s free agency started on Sunday the 1st and there were two huge free agents available….New Jersey’s Zach Parise, a center, and Nashville’s Ryan Suter, a defenseman.  Both are seen as the type of players who would inject some serious talent into whatever team landed them.  The Hawks had designs on both, especially Parise.  While the salary cap number for either player would be high, on the right team, it would likely be worth it.  Parise is a rugged power forward who can play on all special teams and has a nose for the puck.  Suter is a slick puck-moving d-man who may not be the physical d-man the Hawks need, any time you can add a Ryan Suter to your team, you’re better for it.  The evil bastards known as the Detroit Red Wings were thought to be a lock as the landing place for Suter, which didn’t bode well for the Hawks.  Parise was getting huge offers from various teams.  So what happened?

The lowly (well, maybe not anymore) Minnesota Wild, proud owners of 11 post-season wins since their inception in 2000, managed to land both prizes by giving them matching 13 year/$98M deals.  For those of you who suck at math like I do, that breaks down to a cap hit of $7.538 million per season.  While that much money would serve as an enticement to anyone to go live in Minnesota, the Wild had a couple built-in advantages.  Parise is from Minnesota and has plenty of family there, including his dad, former NHLer J.P. Parise. Suter’s wife hails from Minnesota and Suter himself is from nearby Wisconsin.  Add in the fact that these guys discussed playing together like LeBron and Wade and Chris Bosh did and it wasn’t in the cards for any other team to have a serious shot at these guys.

Too bad, although Detroit missing out on Suter makes me happy.

N.L. All-Star Kudos

Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey recently made the N.L. All Star team for the first time at age 37.  His struggles have been all over the media the past few months with the release of his new book.  I read it and was really impressed by his determination and sheer guts.  Born without an ulnar collateral ligament, kind of an important piece of anatomy for a guy who wants to throw a baseball for a living, living in sheer poverty for years, being sexually abused on numerous occasions as a youth and struggling to make it as a big league pitcher, Dickey never gave up on his dream.  Most other people would have found a job somewhere and taken care of his young and growing family.  Dickey persevered.  Dickey fought.  Dickey did the unthinkable and became a knuckleball pitcher.

For the baseball newbies, going from a conventional pitcher…fastball, curveball, another off-speed pitch….to a full-time knuckler is like nothing else I can imagine.  Not only did he become a knuckleballer, he’s one of the best pitchers in the game this season and earned that trip to Kansas City next week for an honor not many players earn the way he did.  When he enters that players clubhouse and dresses in his All Star uniform and later takes the field with and against young star players like Mike Trout, Chris Sale and Starlin Castro and future Hall of Famers like Chipper Jones and Derek Jeter and knowing he made it on his own terms and that he belongs with those guys, he’ll have me cheering for him as I have been since I finished his book.

I don’t like cheering for a member of the New York Mets, but I’ve no problem cheering for a guy like Dickey.  He’s earned more respect than most of us could ever hope to get.  Well done, R.A.

by: Tony Leva
email: tonytrucker1969@gmail.com

He has arrived!!

On Tuesday night, the TheoCo rebuilding project placed it’s first building block in place with the debut of Anthony Rizzo, a.k.a. The Riz. The deal for Rizzo was one of the first major trades TheoCo made since taking over in October. When TheoCo took over, the Cubs were lacking in impact prospects and the first priority was to stock the system with such prospects. Rizzo, a highly touted Boston Red Sox prospect, was dealt by Theo himself to San Diego as the centerpiece of the Adrian Gonzalez deal in December of 2010. The SD general manager at the time was Jed Hoyer, who currently holds that position with the Cubs. When Theo hired Hoyer and scouting director Jason McLeod to form TheoCo (I coined that one too, FYI. I’m a damned machine!), they immediately targeted The Riz and managed to wrangle a trade with the Padres to reunite them all here in Chicago.

As The Riz put up monster numbers for the Iowa Cubs, the team’s AAA affiliate, every Cubs fan was filled with anticipation of his arrival. With every majestic bomb of a homer The Riz hit, the fervor increased until his promotion was the most anticipated event in Cubdom since the lights were first turned on on 8/8/88. Here’s an example of what The Riz was doing down in Iowa. Try not to wet yourself with glee like I did….

The only thing holding him back was the service time issue. A player isn’t eligible for free agency until he has played 6 years in the big leagues. The Riz played 49 games with San Diego last season and accrued a small amount of time towards his free agency eligibility. By delaying his promotion, TheoCo ensured that The Riz will not be free agent-eligible until 2019. That extra season may loom large down the road when the Cubs should be contending with a mostly home-grown team. This is the plan and The Riz is the first brick in the wall. If Roger Waters reads this, go ahead and get pissy for stealing that line. Sue me.

LeBron joins The Club

With the Miami Heat’s winning of the 2011-12 NBA title*, LeBron James is no longer the Best Player to Never Win It All. His winning was inevitable as basketball is the sport best suited to having the best player win a title. It took a year longer than all those fake Heat fans (read: all of them) figured it would, but it happened nonetheless. Meanwhile, a funny thing happened…the world continued to spin on it’s axis, the sun rose in the East and Kate Upton remained scorching hot.


Yeah, so I’m a pig. Sue me after Waters is done with me.
Ed. Note – I love you Tony 

I don’t like how LeBron made his Decision. I didn’t like the Heat’s pre-season celebration before even playing a game with that lineup. I loved when they choked against Dallas last season and lost in the Finals. But he’s still a great player, the best on the planet right now, and he’s probably going to win a few more titles before he’s retired. That’s cool. He’ll never match Jordan for sheer accomplishment or competitiveness. He’ll never match Russell for total titles. He’ll never match Magic for charisma. He’ll never approach Kobe for likeability. That’s also cool with me. LeBron will be remembered for what he always will be….a great player without the killer instinct or drive to win that the greats had.

*Title asterisked because of the shortened season and Derrick Rose’s ACL injury.

Euro 2012

Yeah, like I’m going to talk about fucking soccer. Why? Because they’re flopping pussies.


Suck it, futbol.
Ed. Note – I hate you Tony.

by: Tony Leva
email: tonytrucker1969@gmail.com

For the seven of you who read my column (HI MOM!), I’m sorry I missed writing something last week. Sometimes, stupid real-life gets in the way. Let’s open the insightful sarcasm door and see what’s on the other side…..

Jorge Soler & the Cubs Draft

When Theo Epstein was hired as the Cubs’s President of Baseball Operations, his plan was to build from the ground up, talent-wise. Unfortunately, the new draft rules dictate a spending limit for both the First Year Player draft starting this season and for international signings, which kicks in next year. One of Theo’s strengths with the Red Sox was building through the draft by overdrafting players and then paying them more money than their slot dictated. Basically, he could draft a player who had big upside that wasn’t planning on signing a contract and offering big bucks as incentive. That is no longer possible. Nor is overpaying international players. This season was the last time a big money deal could be offered to those players, of which two were considered prizes, both of whom are Cuban….26 year old Yoenis Cespedes and 20-year-old Jorge Soler. Cespedes signed with the A’s before spring training, but Soler needed to establish residency outside of Cuba before signing a deal. It became quite the story.


Jorge and the Seven Dwarfs doesn’t sound like a typical story, does it?

Why the big deal about Soler? Scouts have been raving about him for a few years now. He projects as a 5 tool guy…he can hit for both power(1) and average(2), run(3), throw(4) and field(5). While he may not develop all those tools, the consensus is that he’ll be a plus outfielder defensively and will hit for legit power on the major league level. He has a great work ethic and loves the game. Add in the fact he’s already 6’3″ and 225 lbs at 20 years old and you have a guy who most scouts projected as a top 10 draftee if he were eligible for the draft this season. It’s obvious why he was a much sought-after commodity that inspired a bidding war. The Cubs, Yankees, Red Sox, Blue Jays and Dodgers all were in the mix to land him. But the new-look Cubs front office went the extra mile…something winners do….and signed him to a 9 year deal worth $30 million. Basically, they signed the last, best guy that could be signed under the old rules. This is huge and a big indicator of the new direction and attitude the team has taken. The Tribune never would have even considered a move like this, let alone gone that extra mile and got it done. Well done, TheoCo.

Before the Soler signing, the draft took place. Going into the draft, TheoCo said their priority was to draft “impact”. With the #6 pick, they drafted 18-year-old Albert Almora, an outfielder with a big skill set that is exceeded by his makeup….a measure of a player’s attitude and work ethic, not this….

Almora is already a major league-caliber defensive outfielder, but is still 3 or 4 years away from Wrigley. Then, the team picked 7 straight pitchers, filling the system with what it was lacking….pitching prospects. This was a solid approach and shows the team’s commitment to building for the future. An actual plan for the future….I may wet myself with pleasure!!

Lance Armstrong, Cheating Douche

This week, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency filed formal charges against seven time Tour de France champ Lance Armstrong. Since anyone can remember, Armstrong has been suspected of cheating, whether it be blood doping, PEDs, Erythropoietin, also known as EPO, blood manipulation and everything under the sun. According to USADA, more than 10 cyclists as well as team employees will testify they either saw Armstrong dope or heard him tell them he used EPO, blood transfusions, testosterone and cortisone from 1996 to 2005. I don’t know about anyone else, but if there are ten people willing to testify, that’s a REALLY bad indicator. It’s tough enough to get ten people to decide on what kind of pizza toppings to get, let alone decide to perjure themselves.

What bugs me about this whole thing is that Armstrong, a cancer survivor, did so much good to raise money for cancer research and the like, but did it while likely being a complete phony and a hypocrite. He preached hard work and dedication, all the while cheating his ass off. So many sick and dying people looked to a complete fraud for inspiration. Think about all those people who bought those LIVESTRONG bracelets, donating money to the cause, believing in a guy who was constantly breaking the rules and figuring out how to beat drug tests. Think about the people who breathed their last breaths thinking about what Armstrong had meant to them during their struggle that they knew they were about to lose. It makes me sad to think so many invested themselves emotionally in this guy. People who were dying, people who were sick and the families of those who were sick were defrauded by a guy who called himself “Champion”.

I only hope that this guy will own up to what he did and be man enough to live with the consequences.