Posts Tagged ‘Chicago Bears’

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

 

 

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

[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]

Find us on iTunes

  • 00:05 – HORALE MANG!
  • 00:44 – Sad Girl
  • 01:15 – Propers
  • 02:50 – Weekend Round-Up
  • 04:35 – Tittlebrooks
  • 06:15 – Facebook Questions
  • 08:27 – Luke Gregorson knowledge
  • 21:04 – “It Begs The Question, What Kind Of Drugs Is AJ On?”
  • 22:00 – Sam Hurd, via Jared S. Hopkins
  • 24:24 – Chewing Tobacco Is The Devil
  • 27:10 – Breakage
  • 27:43 – Anybody Got A Wet-Nap?
  • 28:10 – Bears
  • 31:00 – Well That’s Professional/Texts From Mom
  • 36:46 – White Sox
  • 42:35 – Raul Goes All In
  • 45:40 – Cubs
  • 51:36 – “We Need To Sell This Shit.”
  • 53:22 – The Absolutely Worst Swear Word In The History Of The World
  • 57:10 – Canadian Can’t Go To Canada
  • 59:00 – Exit
  • 1:01:21 – Bye Bye

www.99sportsproblems.com @sportsproblems

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.

[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

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.

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  • 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

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?