Archive for the ‘NFL’ Category

The SaniTERRYum XLVII: Super Bowl Edition

Posted: February 4, 2013 by Terry Carlton in Football, NFL, SaniTERRYum, Sports
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Super Bowl XLVII: A Tale of Two Fuses
The 49ers will be contenders for awhile, Ray Lewis can fuck right off, the power went out, and Beyonce killed it. Nutshell. Boom.

Anyone who knows me knows I love the city of San Francisco and all it has to offer, including their football 49ers, so watching yesterday’s game was painful in a few ways.

Cocktail of the game concocted courtesy of the bro-in-law consisted of Smirnoff Citrus, Arnold Palmer, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, but no amount of delicious liquor can make me forget what a classless, mean jerk Ray Lewis truly is. Greatest Middle Linebacker to ever play the game or not, his persona and off the field shenanigans are questionable at best. But let’s talk about the game on the field before I get carried away here.

The game started questionably for the San Francisco 49ers, gaining 20 yards on a well-executed 1st down pass play, only to have it called back on an illegal formation penalty. From there, the Baltimore Ravens seized momentum and held onto it until the end of the first half and into the first blackout in Super Bowl history.

Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco made huge first half plays, extending would-be sacks into offensive opportunity and eluding would-be tacklers to give his receivers chances beyond belief to come back to badly thrown balls to make plays. Seriously though, has Joe Flacco EVER hit a receiver in stride? Ever? Colin Kaepernick, on the other hand, showed little to no resemblance to the quarterback we’ve grown to love over the last few weeks. He even managed to throw the first interception in San Francisco Super Bowl history, a feat that is quite frankly, astounding. The 49ers have played in a lot of Super Bowls, and to think that Joe Cool/Steve Young never threw a single INT blows my mind, albeit only slightly.

The second half’s start just brought more of the same gridiron shock and hash mark horror for the 49er faithful. Jacoby Jones took the half’s opening kickoff to the house for a Super Bowl record-tying 108 yards, clearly just as inspired by the Destiny’s Child reunion as the rest of us.

Then, the lights went out. Literally. No, seriously. A power outage knocked out the lights at The Superdome, resulting in a delay of over half an hour. And everyone rooting for San Fran hoped for a Mulligan. This being the Harbaugh’s Bro Bowl and all, here’s a thought: you ever play Tecmo Bowl (or any sports game, for that matter) and start losing badly, so you “accidentally” reset the system? That’s what Jim did to big brother John when the power went out. There’s my conspiracy theory, but it turned out to be for naught.

They might as well have gotten the desired restart though. The game played out as A Tale of Two Fuses, with San Francisco making a hell of a game out of it after all. But Flacco did what he does: throw the back shoulder pass, throw the jumpball, and watch his receivers make plays for him in clutch situations, something San Francisco’s wideouts have done all year but failed to do last night. Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree usually haul in those on-the-money throws from Kaepernick, but they dropped balls and ended up strangely as non-factors. The Baltimore WRs have been coming up big for Flacco and the Ravens this entire postseason, and they’ve been the hottest team at the right time. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: the eventual champion in any sport is not always the best team in the league. Champions are crowned according to whose momentum swings favorably at the end of the season.

And of course, the Super Bowl wouldn’t be the Super Bowl without the commercials. And it wasn’t the greatest commercial crop in recent memory, but XLVII had some highlights:

The Volkswagen commercial with the dude from Minnesota who speaks with a Jamaican accent.

For the farmer in all of us: the Dodge commercial with Paul Harvey’s powerful testimonial from the 1978 FFA Convention. “God made a farmer.”

It felt as though the Ravens had XLVII wrapped up for the majority of the game. Then the clock ran out on the 49ers, and I was left with the weirdly unsettling feeling of accepting Ray Lewis and the Baltimore Ravens as Super Bowl Champions.

The story of Ray Lewis ends with him on top of the NFL and atop the topic of conversation for years to come, for both his play and his foul play.

That’s so Raven…

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By: Matthew Kohl
Email: virtualsportsman@gmail.com
Twitter: @virtuallymatt

The baseball off-season can be fraught with peril for some. Especially if you don’t care for many,
or any, of the winter sports. Baseball fans who aren’t content to follow the free agent game or the trade rumors have a few options to scratch the baseball itch. For example, I like to take a trip through my childhood baseball card collection. My card binder is one of very few things I have left from my youth and it’s the oldest thing I own that I purchased with my own money. It’s interesting to see who I thought was worth putting in the book versus who got clipped into the bike spokes since I only collected cards from players and teams I liked. I didn’t care if they were stars, though many were, and I didn’t care if they played for a rival team. Sometimes a card would get promoted from the box to the binder and sometimes they would get demoted, a practice which accounts for entire pages with only a single card on them in some instances. I don’t change it these days even though the order of cards and grouping of players is ramshackle at best and absolutely maddening when I’m looking for something specific.

Whenever I go through the book, I’m reminded of cards I had that would be worth having today or in the future had I kept them. I didn’t care enough about the players at the time to do so. Allusions of monetary gain be damned as I firmly stand by those edicts that decided what or whom was worth keeping, mysterious as they were. Mariano Rivera’s 1992 Bowman rookie card may disagree with me tossing it aside, but what kid keeps a baseball card featuring some twit standing in khakis and a polo shirt in his collection? Besides, he played for the evil empire. Sometimes though, I get confused as to why I kept something in the book.

WHO THE HELL?

“Who in the hell is Mariano Duncan?” That’s usually the first question I ask myself whenever I peruse the book. He’s on the first page. He was a 2B/SS and career .267 hitter who is currently the hitting coach for the Chicago Cubs AA affiliate Tennessee Smokies by the way. I learned that from Wikipedia just today! Even though his career may have been a bit underwhelming, I don’t dare take the card out. For one reason or another an eight year old me thought it belonged in the book and I don’t doubt that reason was a good one. Its placement on the bottom right corner leads me to believe it’s one of the first nine cards I ever put in there. It’s possible it could even be from my very first pack of cards.

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I probably kept him because he had good fundamentals.

Another player who I have several cards from that also has a Cubs connection is Pat Listach, though I know why I kept his cards. He was second place to only Kenny Lofton in stolen bases and won Rookie of the Year honors in 1992. All but one of the cards I have from him are from that season. Coincidentally, he didn’t do much else the rest of his playing career. He’s currently the Cubs third base coach and was voted Pacific Coast League Manager of the Year in 2008 for leading the Iowa Cubs to the postseason. So he has that.

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These are great looking cards though.

THE WEIRDNESS

There are also some strange phenomena that permeate my card binder. One of which I call the “Doc Strawberry Page.” It’s weird that two players who got famous in two different decades that both practically ruined their respective careers through drug use ended up grouped together. I knew about the drug problems they had even as a kid. Maybe I thought if I kept them together, but segregated from the other cards, the other players couldn’t do drugs with them. I really loved Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden. I was disappointed to see their careers go downhill for such stupid reasons when they both had such great natural talent. I never really gave up on either of them though. That’s probably why I’m so unforgiving of players today.

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Another bit of weirdness is what I like to call the Eric Karros Quartet. I’ve grown to dislike him even more as an adult due to his lackluster commentary but I absolutely hated Karros as a kid. Why I kept any of his crap let alone four of the same card is completely unexplainable. In hindsight though, he looks a lot like my cousin Gary. Maybe I thought he was just moonlighting as a police officer.

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Fuck you Eric!

I don’t have a name for this one but probably the strangest thing that appears in my collection is the random presence of a Damon Berryhill card every other page or so. It begins on the tenth page mysteriously adjacent to Mike Scioscia. Then he appears again on the very next sheet next to Gary Gaeti, another player whose inclusion I have no explanation for. This continues on for another 15 pages until the second to last one where a wall dedicated to Ryne Sandberg ends the curse. I don’t really think I liked him as a player and I can’t imagine I would have liked anything about him other than the fact that he was a catcher, but even that’s a sketchy theory. I didn’t even really care for the Cubs too much until later in 1998 or 1999 so it’s weird that I would have so many of his cards let alone put them in my binder. I can’t figure out why they’re so scattered either. Unless somebody else can come up with a reason, I’ll just have to leave this mystery to future generations.

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A selection of Berryhills. Maybe I liked his name?

THE HEROES

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One of the heroes of my youth.

Still, there are some cards that really do deserve to be in my collection. In fact, one of my favorite pages in the book is the Bo Jackson page. I loved everything about Bo Jackson when I was young. I loved him so much I even picked up a Raiders hat when I had no connection whatsoever with football. In fact, Bo Jackson was the reason I began watching football. If it wasn’t for Bo, I would have entirely missed the final years of Joe Montana’s amazing career (another player I idolized as a child) and the best days of Steve Young’s. I was excited as all hell when he came to the White Sox, and now that I really think about it, he was the reason I started paying any attention at all to my local sports teams. Well, he and Mark Grace, who I was never lucky enough to get a card of…

…but whatever.

One of the stranger memories of Bo Jackson was the cartoon with him, Wayne Gretzky, and Michael Jordan. It was called Pro Stars and it was ridiculous.

Of the stranger memories regarding Bo Jackson was the cartoon with him, Wayne Gretzky, and Michael Jordan. It was called Pro Stars and it was ridiculous.

Courtesy Tom Mleko

The beautiful thing about sports, about living in a city drenched in sports teams, engulfed in sports history is the ongoing cycle of teams to root for and follow. The Sox’ unexpectedly hopeful season just ended, the Cubs lost 100+ games (for the first time in 50 years, believe it or not), the impending strike may shorten/eliminate the Blackhawks’ season, the Bulls’ hopes rest on an ACL of the best point guard in the NBA, but da Bears? Da Bears are 3-1 and atop the NFC North. The cycle continues, and this leg of the cycle looks like a winner.

Da Bears look like serious contenders. Outside of an embarrassing loss at Lambeau, da Bears have looked like the best team in the NFC not representing the Bay Area. The defense is up to its usual tricks: forcing turnovers, scoring points (read: plural), and wreaking havoc on opposing defensive coordinators thus far (read: thus far). After the thorough thrashing of Rob Ryan and the Cowboys, we and the rest of the nation were reminded just how good this defense still is. Brian Urlacher is still the anchor of the D, the same way Jay Cutler anchors the other side of the ball. Both guys want one thing: to be competitive and win football games.

It’s no wonder than that after the aforementioned ass-kicking Dallas and the rest of Cowboy nation received Monday night, we were wondering about the psychological makeup of both stars, albeit in very contrasting ways. Through all the revelations we received Monday night, all the answers, we were still left with a few questions. We want to know why Cutler had a tiff with Offensive Coordinator Mike Tice, and we want to know how mentally tough Urlacher will prove this year, battling his obviously hankering knee(s?) injury.

Cutler’s magnetism begs us to talk about him, to write about him and his will to win. In this city, a city built on big shoulders, historical defense, and legendary running backs, we don’t know of this passing game you speak of. This is still so new to us. Cutler brings something we’ve never seen before his arrival. Does he know that? I don’t know. What I do know is that with the addition of Brandon Marshall this year and Cutler evolving into the quarterback and man he is capable of, da Bears have become…gulp…a passing team? This is dangerous on many levels.

Mike Tice calls the plays. Jay Cutler executes said plays. Bottom line. Was there a blowup between the two on the sideline after a failed 3rd and 1? That depends on how you define blowup. Was Cutler pissed that they turned the ball over to the punting unit? Obviously. I would be more concerned if there were no blowup at all. We criticize Jay when he seems complacent, and we criticize Jay when he shows emotion. Come on. You can’t have it both ways. I love the competitive fire, the spirit of “We may be up big on the scoreboard right now, but I want to shove it down their throat, I want to put this game away, leaving no doubt who wins.” The coverage of Cutler walking away from Tice on the sideline is a non-issue. Cutler is the leader of this team, but he has to mature and converse with the coaching staff every now and then, doesn’t he? That’s part of leading by example, beyond throwing touchdowns to Marshall and Devin Hester en route to victory and spreading the ball around to increasing targets. If we are to become a passing team (read: if), Cutler needs to maximize his potential, which will include heavy doses of competitive flames. The offensive line is starting to gel, evident in preventing Dallas’ up-to-this-point-lauded defense from having any effect on the game. He’s got plenty of targets (Hey there, Kellen Davis! Didn’t see you come in), Forte will get healthy, and Tice will learn where to pick his battles. Yes, that is part of Tice’s job description I’m sure. Know your personnel. But no one wants to talk about Mike Tice. Mike Tice is not going to sell papers, make you tune into the post-game show. I know my personnel…

Da Bears’ defensive personnel, on the other hand, could not have excited football fans any more than they did Monday night with their play. They picked off overrated Dallas Quarterback Tony Romo 5 times, scoring touchdowns on two of them. Components of the defensive core for years, Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman picked 6 once apiece, up and comer and potential Pro Bowler Major Wright intercepted twice, and D.J. Moore took one away late in the 4th quarter. Everyone on the defensive side got involved. Everyone that is, except for Urlacher. His own brand of competitive fire is still ignited, but I’m not sure Urlacher the of yesteryear is still in the house. He didn’t look like the Urlacher I know and love Monday night, but I know he’ll still have his moments, his flashes of brilliance. The defense, even without him contributing on a regular basis, will continue to dominate, but we miss you, big fella. Get well soon?

In the meantime, the rest of your personnel on both sides of the ball will handle business. Just ask Dallas.

Next stop: Jacksonville.

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!!

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

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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

Bear Down, bitches!!

This week, the Bears are ensconced in their first Organized Team Activity (just a fancy term for practice) with plenty of new personnel and coaches. Mike Tice has taken over for the tyrant known as Mike Martz as offensive coordinator and Jeremy Bates has been installed as the passing game coordinator. Bates is a good friend of Bears QB Jay Cutler and has always worked well with him. That’s a far cry from the adversarial relationship Cutler has with Martz. Listen closely at the 0:24 mark. This says it all about their relationship…

Martz’s system was never a good fit for Cutler’s strengths, which include being mobile and being smart enough to read a defense and change the play at the line. Martz’s offense did not include audibles and frowned upon the QB moving out of the pocket. Tice and Bates have said they will allow Cutler to have plenty of input into the playcalling, which is a great thing. When your QB hates the system and the coach who stubbornly insists on running it, even when the franchise QB is getting mauled while running it, replacing the coach is a no-brainer. Cutler took more sacks and hits than any QB in the NFL the past two seasons. Check my math, but that sucks.

As for the new personnel, we haven’t added the offensive linemen we needed, but if Gabe Carimi comes back healthy, the line will improve by his addition. But the big additions are to one of the worst WR corps we’ve seen in forever, which is saying a bunch considering the Bears have never had much of a top-flight corps to begin with. All-Pro WR and legit asswipe Brandon Marshall has a great history with Cutler from their Denver days and have already expressed their joy at being reunited. 2nd round draft pick Alshon Jeffery is another big-bodied WR who should pair nicely with Marshall. This bumps Devin Hester down to play in the slot and Earl Bennett, Cutler’s recent favorite target, to play as the 4th WR. An actual, legit NFL WR corps. I may wet myself.

The defense was bolstered in the draft and the core guys, Urlacher, Briggs, Tillman and Peppers, should have enough left to give us a chance to have a top-10 defensive unit. Well, with good health we have a shot. The window is closing on the effectiveness of these guys so we need to take advantage.

Football season can’t get here fast enough, since the Cubs blow ass right now.

Perfecting the Art of Suck

As things went from piss-ass shitty to fucking unbearably craptastic for the Cubs, the buzz has been about bringing The Riz up to fix the offense, cure cancer and convince Kate Upton to do a sex tape and upload it for free. Or something along those lines. As much as I can’t wait for The Riz era to start, he won’t do any of the aforementioned stuff all by himself. He’ll help when he gets here, but the service time issue is the greater concern. They’re going to wait until June sometime to bring him up and delay his free agency eligibility. Fine with me.

There is so much wrong with this team that I don’t know where to begin, so let’s focus on a few positives for now.

Starting Pitching

The starting pitching has been really good for the most part. Matt Garza, Ryan Dempster and Jeff Samardzija have all been about as good as could be expected, with Samardzija exceeding any expectations anyone could have had for a converted reliever who has been as inconsistent as a depression case using homemade Prozac. Paul Malholm has been pretty good as well and Travis Wood has contributed as well. It’s nice that the Sean Marshall screamers have been silenced for now with Wood pitching well. Those clueless fools never fail to give me a chuckle.

Starlin Castro

The lone Cubs All-Star last year, Castro has picked up where he left off after becoming the youngest player in NL history to lead the league in hits. He’s still a work-in-progress in many areas, but he’s brimming with talent. As evinced here…

Gotta love this type of stupidly good talent.

Dale Sveum and the coaches

The Cubs have been playing aggressive baseball. From baserunning to defensive positioning to going right after hitters, the coaches have put their stamp on this team in the way they want them to go about their business. Even with the recent stuff about Garza and Marmol not throwing the pitches the staff wants, this has been a positive so far. I’m looking forward to seeing what they can do with some more legitimate ML talent.

The Show that Won’t Fucking Die.

Over 13 million votes for the final vote on Wednesday. (No, I don’t watch this show. My wife and girls do and I caught the last 5 minutes the other night when the winner was crowned.) Apparently, some guy named Phillip Phillips won, beating some 16-year-old girl. I haven’t heard him sing yet, but I’m sure he’ll be coming to a low-rent dinner theatre near me sometime soon. There have been some very talented winners, of course, but chances are they would have been discovered anyway. Jennifer Hudson and Carrie Underwood come to mind. Some of the shit that has won…Taylor Hicks, David Cook, Fantasia….really are pushing it as to being considered stars.

While the world certainly would manage to not explode if this show went off the air, the thirst the American public exhibits for this show never fails to amaze me. The early shows are pretty funny, when the truly talentless come in and get their metaphorical nuts squashed, but when they whittle the “talent” pool down to whatever they take to Hollywood, it gets silly. Shoving some of these clowns down America’s throats…anyone remember that hack Sanjaya they tried to hype as an uber-talent?….is just crap. I’m no great judge of vocal talent, but I know what I hear and some of those people have no business doing nothing more than singing in church choirs or in the shower. Don’t piss on my leg and tell me it’s Elvis pissing on my leg.

Unfortunately, this show is a phenomenon and isn’t going away any time soon. I’ll stick to Laverne and Shirley reruns, thanks.

by: Tony Leva
email: tonytrucker1969@gmail.com

Ruining a Dynamic Young Arm, by the White Sox

In the 2010 draft, the White Sox selected Chris Sale with the 13th overall pick, even though he came from someplace called Florida Gulf Coast University, not exactly a noted baseball factory. He was thought of so highly that the Sox are thought to have stolen him there at 13. When you draft a pitcher that highly, it’s obvious you consider that pitcher to be HIGHLY valuable and a big part of your future. Accordingly, you take every precaution with an arm that prized. You do everything in your power to make sure he’s taken care of to the maximum of your organization’s abilities. So why the hell are the White Sox doing their best to piss away such a dynamic young asset?

After drafting him, the Sox rushed Sale to the majors 2 months later in August. Yeah, they were fighting for the divisional title, something they ultimately fell short of. They used him exclusively in relief 21 times, not too tough a workload even for a kid fresh to the bigs. He excelled in the bullpen. In 2011, he was also used exclusively as a reliever and excelled once again. The Sox had always pictured him as a starting pitcher like he was at FGCU. They were commended for taking their time with him and slowly breaking him in. They let fan favorite Mark Buerhle leave via free agency so a rotation spot could open up for Sale. Buerhle is a God to Sox fans for some reason. The fact the team viewed Sale as his immediate successor spoke volumes about their opinion of what Sale meant to their future.

Flash forward to a week ago. Chris Sale had made 5 starts for the Sox to start the season and again was excellent. All systems seemed to be a go. Then, his elbow started to ache. Not just any elbow, but the elbow of the guy who the Sox had hoped would become a legitimate Ace. Now, when such a young and promising pitcher has any sort of distress or pain in his pitching wing, the generally accepted way of handling this is to shut the guy down for a period of time until the pain either stops or it doesn’t, which necessitates medical attention. I coached both baseball and softball for about 14 years and ANY time a kid who pitched complained of any type of soreness, we stopped them from pitching. Immediately. Even if the parents bitched about it (which none of ours ever did, but I’ve seen it happen) the decision was made as it was our responsibility to that child to keep his best interests in mind. Since a kid of 10 or 11 is obviously not as baseball valuable as Chris Sale is, it stands to reason that he also would be shut down, right?

Wrong. The Sox, for some reason, decided that instead of being shut down, a move to the bullpen was the right course of action. No immediate MRI, no ceasing of any and all pitching, no restriction on self-pleasuring himself. Nope, they decided not only to keep pitching him, they decided to take him off a regular, set schedule of pitching every five days to a far more erratic schedule of pitching. He might have been called upon to pitch two or three days in a row. Is that any way to take care of such a valuable and precious young asset? Of course it wasn’t. To make matters worse, they denied anything was wrong with him….he was just “a little sore”. Yeah, my ballsack was just “a little sore” after my vasectomy. They told me to stay off it while I healed, too. I did.

So on Thursday, it was revealed that the team was sending Sale for an MRI after one relief appearance where he was ineffective and obviously not right. What changed? His elbow didn’t suddenly take on a new degree of soreness after the shift to the bullpen, did it? If it didn’t the team is negligent in caring for Sale’s arm. If it did, the team is just as negligent in caring for Sale’s arm. Either way, the second they decided NOT to shut him down and IMMEDIATELY send him to the doctor for the MRI, they committed a grossly negligent act towards Sale, his future and the team’s fan base. I hope Sale is okay, but the Sox really dropped the ball on this one.

Kerry Wood, Official Cubs Mascot

This past off-season, the Cubs gloriously hired Theo Epstein as President of Baseball Operations and gave him the keys to the franchise in hopes of reaching baseball glory. Tom Ricketts told Theo to do things his way and promised to stay out of the operations side of the team, which he has done so far with one glaring exception….the re-signing of team mascot Kerry Wood. While Theo has promised to run the team like a big league franchise free from drippy sentiment, he catered to Rickett’s wish and brought back the guy who has been dead to me since game 7, 2003 NLCS. Not only did the team bring back a rapidly declining relief pitcher, they did it at the Cubs Convention. You know, they place that’s so filled with cloying sheep that the “BAAAAAHHHHH BAAAAAAAHHHHH” sound can be heard from a mile away. Don’t get me wrong, the place has some serious and critically thinking Cubs fans in attendance, but they’re the minority. I’ve been there and have seen it for myself.

Anyway, they rolled Wood out at the end of player intros on opening night to the delight of the meatheads who screamed shit like, “WE LOVE YOU KERRY!!! YAAAAAAAAAYYYYYY!!! WELCOME BACK!!!!”. I saw clowns post on message boards that they were moved to tears by this blatant publicity grab by a team that needed a feel-good story in the middle of January. Seriously? Moved to tears by a guy that choked away a chance to go to the World Series in glorious and spectacular fashion? A guy that has never reached his vast potential? True, it’s not totally his fault on that last point as he was abused in high school, memorably pitching both ends of a playoff doubleheader days after the Cubs drafted him. He never became more than a thrower…he never became a pitcher. But I’ll never forgive him for game 7. Anyway…..

Wood’s signing was the high point of his current contract as he’s really not a part of our future. His presence on this team was supposed to be about feel-goodery and not about being a competent major league pitcher. Apparently, the feel-goodery is lagging as well. Tuesday night, Wood came into a tie game against Atlanta at Wrigley Field and promptly sucked as hard as a Hoover set on “$100 Whore” and blew the game with a symphony of suck. He gave up 2 walks, 2 hits and whatever shred of dignity he had left when he launched his glove and hat into the stands after the inning was over. At least he hit his mark with his glove, which is a far cry from what he did with a fucking baseball that inning. With an ERA approaching 15 and a surly attitude (after the game, he copped a shitty attitude to a scribe, calling his question about the glove toss “irrelevant” and mixing in a nice cuss word to boot) what the hell is this guy still doing here and why the Christ does he still get cheers from the lemmings?

He gave the ownership what they wanted…a big reaction at the Cubs Convention. It would be nice if Wood could go out like something more than the petulant asswipe he played on TV Tuesday night and retire immediately. Hey Kerry, do the noble thing and give a young kid with a chance to help us win in the future a shot at refining his game at the major league level. Bow out of a failure of a last dance season. Tell the ones who still profess their love for you that the feeling will always be mutual and you’ll always be a Cub and blah blah blah. Take whatever gig the Ricketts family has promised you in your retirement and start building that 401k fund. Go on a world cruise. Impregnate your wife a few more times. Pretend you’re an NBA player and knock up a bunch of ho’s looking for a baby daddy. Do whatever you wish.

Bottom line….just go away. For all our sakes.

NFLer Jacob Bell Call it Quits

Eight year NFL veteran offensive lineman Jacob Bell retired this week in the wake of the Junior Seau suicide last week. Bell cited numerous reasons for this abrupt decision, his health and long-term future the chief concerns. To quote Bell himself…

“One of my biggest concerns when it comes to the game in general is my personal health. One thing that’s obviously on the minds of a lot of people lately is brain research and all the stuff that’s going on with that. One of the big things that I thought about when I was considering this is how much do I love the game? How much can they pay me to take away my health and my future and being able to be with my family and just have a healthy lifestyle?”

Bell signed a one-year deal with the Cincinnati Bengals last month that was worth nearly $1 million, which is what he walked away from. I applaud Mr. Bell for taking a step back from his life in the present and seeing his life in the future, weighing it against the money he was due this season along with likely future earnings, then making a decision that at least 95% of the rest of the NFL players out there wouldn’t dare make. He may not have been a star player, but his family thinks he is and will be blessed with a happy and healthy Jacob for years to come. Good for him.

Shit, I hate being all sensitive and semi-mushy. Since I can’t close like that, here’s a quick funny for you…

Q: Why can’t Jesus play hockey? A: He keeps getting nailed to the boards.

by: Tony Leva
email: tonytrucker1969@gmail.com

Junior Seau, CTE and where this all may lead

On Monday, future NFL Hall of Fame linebacker Junior Seau put a gun to his chest and pulled the trigger, ending his own life at age 43. This is eerily similar to how former Bears defensive back Dave Duerson took his own life in February of 2011. Duerson left a note saying he intentionally left his brain intact so it could be studied for chronic traumatic encephalopathy, commonly known as CTE. It’s a degenerative brain disease that has been linked to violent contact sports like football and hockey. Repeated blows to the head in these, and other, sports are suspected to directly lead to CTE, which in turn causes the victim to suffer from memory loss, depression, confusion and aggressive behavior. Obviously, suicidal tendencies are also a symptom and unfortunately, sometimes the last symptom.

With the recent deaths of hockey players considered “enforcers”, Rick Rypien, a CTE victim who committed suicide, the possible suicide of Wade Belak, a depression sufferer, and the overdose of Derek Boogaard, also a depression sufferer and CTE victim, the hockey community has been seriously questioning the role of enforcers in the game as its becoming apparent the constant punches to the head may be directly linked to CTE. Considering the relative youth of these 3 players…Rypien was 27, Boogaard was 28 and Belak was 35…the crippling effects of CTE manifesting itself in such young men is truly frightening. If getting into fights on the ice is linked to CTE, what the hell is the game of football doing to others?

Virtually every play in football ends with a high-speed collision between at least two people…at least one of which is moving at full speed. From the first time a youngster puts on the pads and taps into that neanderthal gene that says “RRRAAAAAHHHHHRRRRRR!!!! HULK SMASH!!!!” they are subjecting themselves to the very real possibility of injuring their brain on a constant basis until the day they stop playing the game, be it one play later or when they retire from pro football. The damage done to a brain from a violent concussion can never be trusted to fully heal and the medical data supporting that conclusion gets bigger with every study done on the brain.

When do parents around the world finally say, “Not my child” and refuse to allow them to participate in sports where the risk for brain injury is so great? I’m not advocating one side over the other here, just asking that very important question….”When”? I’m certain that many parents out there won’t give a shit about anything that’s come to light and will keep enrolling their kids in these sports and will continue to scream encouragement from the stands when little Johnny plants a crushing hit on the son of another set of parents. They’ll yell “SHAKE IT OFF, RUB SOME DIRT ON IT AND GET BACK OUT THERE” even when it’s their kid on the sideline, woozy and nauseous from receiving a similar hit, even when their coaches insist they watch from the sideline until they’re cleared by a doctor to return to game action. I’m not sure where this is leading for the future of these sports, but I’m sure controversy will abound.

The Cubs and the Farm System

On a lighter note….Yeah, the Cubs suck hard this season and probably will in 2013 as well. While this is nothing new for us Cubs fans, what is new is there’s an actual plan to improve via the farm system. Let’s take a look at my top 5 prospects…

1. Anthony Rizzo, 1B The prize of the Adrian Gonzalez to Boston deal, the Cubs somehow heisted The Riz (That’s MINE and I expect royalties when he wins his first MVP and everyone calls him that) from the Padres for Andrew Cashner. Only 22 years old, he’s tearing it up at AAA to the tune of a .372/.422/.638 slash line and is only being held back by the issue of service time (free agency eligibility begins after 6 major league seasons and teams sometimes try to delay the eligibility clock by bringing young players up in June or July) and the fact that Bryan LaHair is playing well at the major league level. He’s a Hodgkin’s lymphoma survivor, so you know the kid is a fighter, too. I think he’s the most big league-ready of our youngsters and will give the Cubs a big run producer for a decade or so. ETA…June 2012

2. Brett Jackson, OF Jackson is a big, left-handed hitting OFer with superb defensive skills, is faster than rent in the ghetto and actually has the ability to draw a walk, something the Cubs haven’t stressed in the past. He’s prone to the strikeout, but so were plenty of other difference-makers with a similar tool set. I’m hoping he can be Jim Edmonds with more speed and less power. I don’t expect 40 homers from him, but 40 steals per season are in his sights. He’s excelled at every level he’s been at and at 23 is ready to hone his craft in Wrigley. There’s an available OF spot for him, but he’s in the same service time boat as The Riz. This kid is going to get every chance to be the dynamic leadoff hitter we have lusted after like we’ve lusted after a video of Kate Upton doing the Cat Daddy.

God help the rest of baseball if Jackson exceeds that level of awesomeness. ETA….June 2012

3. Javy Baez, 3B The last 1st round pick of the Jim Hendry reign of terror, he’s from the last MLB draft where overslotting and overpaying those players was possible. Drafted 9th overall in 2011, he’s 6′ 1″, 205ish, and still filling out since he’s only 19 years old. Scouts raved about how the ball jumps off his bat to all areas of the field. Defensively, he’s already a plus player and has the ability to play SS as well as 3B. Attitude may be an issue, though. He was recently scolded for admiring a home run and responded, “I can do whatever the fuck I want!” He’d better hit about 35 homers with a .300+ average in Wrigley if he’s going to be a cockbite. Hey, they can’t all be saints. ETA….2015

4. Matt Szczur, OF
Pronounced “Caesar”, Szczur is a super athlete who played both baseball and football at Villanova before choosing baseball after being drafted in the 5th round of the 2010 draft. He probably would have chosen baseball anyway, but the Cubs gave him $100K to sign and another $500K to skip the NFL scouting combine. For $600K, I shudder to think what I’d do. He’s struggling a bit at High-A Daytona, but he was a project with a high ceiling when we drafted him and we can afford to let him learn his craft at his own pace. He’s athletic and was very durable in college while playing two sports. He’s gone from 5th round future to fast-track prospect making a name for himself in the organization. ETA….2014, maybe 2015

5. Trey McNutt, P The top pitching prospect in the system, McNutt, only 22, has two outstanding plus pitches…an overwhelming fastball and a big ol’ power curve that are almost major-league caliber as it is. Refining a 3rd pitch and sharpening his control a bit will be the keys for McNutt (yeah, you love that name) to make it as a starting pitcher in The Show. He is thought so highly of that the Cubs refused to include him in the Matt Garza trade and laughed in Boston’s collective faces when they wanted McNutt (don’t act like you’re not giggling) in compensation for Theo. Standing 6′ 4″, he’s an imposing figure on the mound and may even put a few more pounds on his 205 pound frame. We need more home-grown arms to compete, but McNutt is a good start. ETA…2013

Rocky Horror Live Cast Showing

Ok, off sports for a second. This past Friday night, I took my girls and two of their friends to the Arcada Theatre’s live cast showing of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. If you’ve never seen this, it’s a Bucket List thing, especially if you like rude, vulgar, offensive and colorfully dressed people who worship a movie that bombed like it was dropped on Nagasaki in 1945. These goofs (said lovingly, of course) dress up in costume and act along with the movie in it’s entirety. But that’s not the fun part!! The fun part is the audience callbacks. During the whole movie, the dialogue in the movie is “answered” by the in-the-know members of the audience. Here’s a decent example of this. Gotta listen kind of close, but you can make out the callbacks.

The enjoyment level for virgins (Oh yeah, first-timers are called “virgins” and are marked with a lipsticked “V” on each cheek and some offensive words or artwork on foreheads or bald heads. Then, the cast tries to offend them pre-show. The guy who tried to offend me had the tables turned on him. Silly cross-dresser!!) depends on how good the audience is. It’s much more fun to hear everything crisp and in-time (My name is Janet. “SLUT!!”) rather than a bunch of people who aren’t into the flick. It’s very audience participatory-dependent for fun, because the movie itself pretty much sucks, which is why it bombed years ago. After the show, the cast is more than happy to pose for pics and shoot the proverbial shit with you. This is me and my boy, Frank. I think it’s a boy. I didn’t have the sack to look under it’s panties…

Bring your kids if you don’t mind taking a chance on scarring them for life. How can you, really, when it’s just a bunch of grown-ups prancing around in drag?