Posts Tagged ‘Bulls’

The Blackhawks remain undefeated (in regulation) a quarter of the way through the NHL season and coming home from a ridiculously successful extended road trip. Tom Thibodeau and The Bulls continue to plug right along, anxiously awaiting the return of Número Uno. And here I am, about to talk to you about some motherfucking Rugby.

Fumbling through Saturday’s monotonous network programming, I stumbled upon some good old fashioned Rugby. On NBC, no less.

Am I crazy or is Rugby not only completely badass, but also waaaaay cooler than Football? Where I come from, Rugby doesn’t even exist. I’ve heard of this sport you speak of, but seeing it is a-whole-nother-thing

Are you feeling a little empty since the American football season ended? Need something to fill that void? Post Super Bowl blues gotcha down? Have a hankering for something familiarly similar yet maybe just for you? Might I suggest…Rugby?

Rugby’s like football on steroids and amphetamines if NFL players weren’t already on steroids and amphetamines. It’s like if football was one long, constant backwards lateral pass and what looks like a touchdown is worth 5 points. Where kickers look to posess a skill set beyond one precise motion. Where there are no pads. Where the ball is bigger and harder to handle. Where the halves are hella short. Where the plays are fast and furious and you mit find yourself in an organized scrum. Come to think of it, Rugby is nothing like football.

I never learned this on Flight Of The Conchords, but New Zealanders rule supreme in it. Awesome.

After taking in a full Saturday docket of Rugby, I still don’t completely understand the rules/scoring/much of it at all, but I do know this: it is fun as hell to watch.

SPORTS!

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Weekend Roundup

Posted: January 28, 2013 by Mauricio Rubio Jr. in Sports
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The Blackhawks are off to the best start in franchise history Nick Leddy scored an OT goal to push the Blackhawks to 6-0-0 with the 10-0-0 Maple Leafs firmly in sight. 

Bulls lose to the Wizards – The Bulls front court got eaten up in an ugly loss to the Wizards, who are suddenly hot after an atrocious start. They were of course Wall-less for the first half of the season, but the Wiz have managed to beat the Heat, the Bulls, and the Thunder. 

Oh, and everyone is still waiting for Derrick Rose.

Paul Konerko shaved his goatee – Please note that all beards are to be flown at half mast until the start of the season in remembrance of PK’s tremendous goatee. He looks so wrong without one.

Image

I just can’t.

Dave Sappelt made some unfortunate comments on twitter – They’ve been deleted, but here’s the recap.

The Pro Bowl was on? – Some stuff happened and here’s a happy fun time article about it.

Go forth and attack the day:

Soon

Posted: January 23, 2013 by Mauricio Rubio Jr. in Sports
Tags: , , ,

The Derrick Rose recovery saga is becoming a daily drama, which is both tantalizing and agonizing.

On the one hand the increase in updates means that a return is soon, on the other it means that we’ll be watching for the white smoke every day for a few weeks now.

I’m excited about Derrick Rose making a return, not only for the entertainment value, but also because Rose feels like one of us.

He seems like a Chicagoan.

There’s one player about which I cannot be objective about, and that’s Poohdini.

Soon my friends.

Soon.

Urlacher could miss the rest of the season – A hamstring injury could cut Urlacher’s season short and there’s the very real possibility that he has played his last game as a Chicago Bear. There is no clear replacement on the current team either. Awful news. – via Suntimes.com

Derrick Rose is running and stuffz  PLEASE DON’T GET MORE HURT – via CBS Sports

Kevin Youkilis has several offers – Given the weakness of the 3B market this shouldn’t be too surprising. Yanks are kinda in, Phils, White Sox, and Indians are more serious contenders. – via Hardballtalk

In related news, the White Sox are looking at Keppinger – As one of their backup options should Youk sign elsewhere. – via MLBTR

Brewers, Demp, at a standstill – Dempster is looking for a third year in any contract and the Brewers are balking at it. – via MLBTR

 

 

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

I try to be objective. As a Chicago fan I try hard to stay away from the bias that is seemingly inherent to area fans, whether we’re hating on LeBron, trashing Rodgers, or any other silliness we pull off as a collective. I think I do a fairly good job of being an objective observer of sports, and it’s a title that I both welcome and enjoy.

However.

There is one player that I cannot be objective about on any level. There is one guy in the entire sports landscape that I root for with a passion. One player, across 4 major sports teams in the area, completely compromises whatever journalistic integrity I attempt to maintain via this blog.

#1.

To me, Derrick Rose’s game is so Chicago, so south side, so perfect for this city that I desperately want him to succeed in the face of impossibly crazy odds. Midgets don’t win rings on their own. PG’s are rarely the best players on championship teams. His knee exploded. And in the face of that I want him to somehow, some way pull off what looks improbable and win a ring this year.

To me, Derrick Rose’s story is so important that it needs to be publicized. I’m not talking about Chicago Bulls PG Derrick Rose. Not even Memphis G Derrick Rose. I’m talking about the Simeon kid who got out. Ben Wilson’s spiritual brother escaping a brutal south side war zone that is now collapsing in the face of horrendous violence. He lived where too many have died, and he can stand as a beacon of hope for a community that desperately needs a light at the end of the tunnel.

Derrick Rose is a flawed player, but he is a player with a tremendous heart and a fearless attack that I absolutely love. And I can not, and will never be, objective about Derrick Rose.

Chicago Bulls, 2012-2013

Overall

Let’s get the obvious shit out-of-the-way: the Bulls are much worse than they were last year and that can be owed to a few things. Derrick Rose will likely be absent most of the year. The Bench Mob was completely gutted and replaced with variants of the former 80’s super group, European Badness. Boozer is older, Deng is coming off a nasty wrist injury, Kirk Hinrich was the prized free agent signing, I’m just saying it looks bad.

I don’t think this team collapses into the depths of the truly awful, however. Basketball Prospectus pegs the Bulls for 46 wins. I’ll take the over and say they can brush 50. Say what you will about Thib’s approach of trying to win every possession, the bottom line is that team will play hard every game and they will win games they shouldn’t because of it.

Offense

The offense will be ugly largely because they still utilize a basic flex offense and when that failed in the past they would kick it to Derrick and he would bail them out. Now the Bulls will not have that luxury and they will have to manufacture easy buckets in other ways. When Boozer was signed the assumption was that he would lessen the scoring load on Rose via an impressive array of post moves and inside scoring. Boozer has the moves but his pet of recent vintage is a fade-a-way jump shot from just outside of the key. It’s a move that other teams are willing to let him have because it isn’t a high percentage shot for him. Lu Deng is a fine defensive player but he’s still a limited offensive player with questionable handles. He has a good mid range game but the Bulls have that in spades.

You see, the Bulls are still a jump shooting team. They were when Derrick was drafted too, he just masked some of that with his explosive play. Hinrich is a jump shooter. Rip Hamilton has some slasher in him, but he’s primarily a jump shooter. Deng? Jumper. Boozer? Jumper. Noah? Not a jump shooter but he isn’t an “explode to the rim” type guy either.

If we go to the bench the only player that can attack the rim is Nate Robinson and he isn’t even that reliable as a rim attacker. He falls in love with the 3 pt. shot too often and can start chuckin’. Taj Gibson has some explosion at the rim but getting there is still an issue for him. Marco Belinelli is the stereotypical Euro player with nice touch from outside and limited game inside.

Look, the Bulls biggest problem over the years offensively has been manufacturing easy buckets and getting to the FT line. It’s still going to be a problem this year. When the jump shots fall, it’ll look great, and when they don’t, it won’t. This will be the most infuriating aspect of their game. Look for Jimmy Butler and if he develops any kind of offensive consistency. If he can he can be a valuable asset for the next version of the Bulls.

Defense

The Bulls defend pick and roll maybe better than anyone in the league. They can create turnovers with smart defensive positioning and are considered a top defense despite playing Boozer, a noted liability, big minutes. The Bulls have a shape in mind when they play defense and preserving that shape in the face of multiple screens and cuts is paramount to their defensive principles. They are very good at snapping back into form and contesting shots.

This is the primary reason I think the Bulls can win 45-50 games. Defensively they are still one of the best units in the league and some nights that will be enough to overcome some really ugly offense. Look for lineup changes in close games late. We’ve seen Thibs bench Boozer in favor of Taj Gibson. With Omer Asik gone I suggest we look at the minutes Nazr Mohammed and Taj Gibson log as the season progresses. With Omer gone and Deng coming back from a wrist injury the best defensive frontcourt the Bulls can employ early in the year might just be the Taj-Joakim-Nazr combo.

Bench

This unit has been greatly downgraded from last year. The sixth man might just be Jimmy Butler or Nate Robinson. Marco Belinelli replaces Korver, Nazr replaces Omer, and the Nate-Butler-Teague combo replaces Brewer. This group will be exposed in a big way should an injury occur. When you think about the recent injury histories of Rip-Deng-Boozer-Noah it’s easy to see one or more of the starters going down for an extended period and then watching the Bulls struggle to weather the storm. Thibs can be criticized for his strange sub patterns, and now the pressure will be on him to be even more creative with no clear cut “Sixth Man” on the team.

Look for Teague’s development early, Belinelli’s shooting streaks, and how well Nazr is playing defensively. Jimmy Butler is going to play a key role in all of this and his total game will have to improve.

Synopsis

I say they win 50 games and earn a 4-5 seed in the playoffs. I do think this team will be hard to watch in stretches as the offense struggles to find buckets but on the whole they will be a good team, albeit not a great one.

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.

[audio http://awmr01.podbean.com/mf/web/tm8rv/Episode_016.mp3]

iTunes Linkage

  • 00:35 – Andy fucks up
  • 02:30 – First place White Sox
  • 09:00 – Giving Seattle fans some Chicago love
  • 10:30 – Young Guns
  • 15:40 – Lucky Dog
  • 16:50 – Concussion talk
  • 23:20 – Bears Talk
  • 27:37 – Raul’s summer beer advice
  • 31:48 – NBA Jam and BJ Armstrong, Where are They Now
  • 37:26 – The Cubs are indeed, awful
  • 39:00 – Because I’m Mexican
  • 43:50 – “I fucking hate softball”
  • 46:40 – Top Ten Individual Seasons
  • 01:04:07 – Origins of Mudbone

Email us 99sportsproblems@gmail.com
Find us on iTunes

  • 0:48 Andy is dead this episode
  • 1:15 Propers
  • 2:10 Tony thinks Twitter is exuberantly happy
  • 2:46 Ted Lyons Sunday Starter
  • 9:30 Top Ten MLB HOFers that need to be kicked out
  • 19:38 Breakage
  • 20:15 Beer brewed with maple syrup
  • 22:00 Andy’s story time
  • 23:00 Waite Hoyt sucks too
  • 25:00 @SaintLouisSport
  • 25:30 White Sox talk
  • 37:02 Chicago Cubs talk
  • 43:54 Breakage
  • 44:30 A buncha gutless dogs that folded like lawn chairs
  • 48:43 House Cleaning
  • 51:58 Where Are They Now: Bo Jackson
  • 57:50 The show never really ends
  • 59:27 Bye-bye

 

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.