Posts Tagged ‘Chicago Bulls’

Random Hits

Posted: January 25, 2013 by Mauricio Rubio Jr. in Sports
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Soon

Rooftop owners present their case, poorly  iBlogged about it, basically the “roofies” are crying that they should be able to maintain a business because they keep Wrigley popular. Poor case.

Focused Konerko promises no distractionsDoug Padilla did a nice little Konerko piece. Basically  PK is looking to be productive and is focused on not getting caught up in any of the peripheral stuff.

Blackhawks, kinda good? Yeah, kinda good.

Hard to not feel good for Noah Here’s his All Star nod acceptance speech.

And hey, since we’re on the subject, let’s remember where the legend of Noah planted it’s seeds.

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.

Find us on iTunes

www.99sportsproblems.com @sportsproblems

  • 00:03 – “Hey it’s me it’s Andy it’s mah birfday”
  • 00:24 – Propers
  • 03:00 – Andy listens to stupid shit at a baseball game
  • 06:56 – Current pitchers that could survive in a 4-man rotation
  • 12:39 – Baseball video game talk
  • 14:40 – Mike Lovendahl and the Bears
  • 15:40 – “We almost had a professional segue”
  • 19:30 – Breakage
  • 20:30 – Bears talk
  • 26:00 – Where is Bill Cartwright now?
  • 30:10 – Dusty Ventura
  • 34:10 – The Year of Kenny
  • 40:10 – South Side Face
  • 42:48 – “Why do I know this much about Dan Johnson?”
  • 44:15 – Breakage
  • 45:00 – Cubs callups
  • 50:40 – Talking about the Cubs rebuild
  • 1:01:00 – Top Ten Rec League Douche Moments
  • 1:07:57 – “What are you talking about Randy? He’s…6…”
  • 1:12:25 – “Basically Randy is a raging fucking cunt”
  • 1:15:50 – The douchiest story ever told
  • 1:19:20 – Bye Bye

www.99sportsproblems.com @sportsproblems

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

Major League Baseball is well over 100 years old, in fact, she’s well into her 130’s right now. There are differing accounts on when baseball was born. Some point to the foundation of the first “pro” team in 1869 as the official birth-date of MLB. Others look at April 22, 1876 as the date the league drew it’s first breath as the Chicago White Stockings (now the Chicago Cubs) played the Boston Red Stockings (now the Atlanta Braves) in a game that resembles 12″ softball more than the modern game of baseball.

Whatever date you decide to use, understand that the written history of early baseball is as hard to decipher as prehistoric cave paintings, or the Egyptian Hieroglyphics without the Rosetta Stone. There are numbers lost to history thanks to shoddy bookkeeping and the early errors of the men and women keeping score. There are several examples of lost stats throughout early baseball. We’ll never know just how great Ty Cobb was at stealing bases thanks to them not tracking Caught Stealings for the first half of his career.

What we have kept track of since the early stages of the game are the basic, rudimentary stats that Henry Chadwick bestowed upon us. Chadwick was a blessing and a curse, if you ask some in the SABR community, he is more the latter than the former. Since Chadwick laid out the first box score, we’ve tracked batting average and home runs pretty well throughout history.

We aren’t here to discuss Chadwick’s follies however, we’re here because Adam Dunn is about to join a club that has 9 members. To put that into context, there have been 20 pitchers who have thrown a perfect game in baseball history, doubling up this perhaps infamous club (As an aside, more people have orbited the moon than pitched a perfect game).

So what is this club that Adam Dunn is in? Well, if he plays the rest of the year at this pace he will be the 10th player in baseball history to have 30 HR’s and an average under .230. As a matter of fact, he is one big slump away from having the lowest batting average of any player with over 30 HR’s.

Dunn, as of writing, is sitting on 25 HR’s and a .215 avg. This has happened 10 times in baseball history. The Hawk did it in 1969 for the Boston Red Sox and the Cleveland Indians. This is odd because Harrelson actually hit for a pretty good average with power in ’68, but lost the average in ’69 after the mound was lowered, giving hitters the advantage again.

Kingman, Dunn’s spiritual baseball fore bearer, did it twice. First in ’82 with the Mets, then again in his final year in the bigs with Oakland in ’86. Dunn is a better player than Kingman ever was, but there is a lot of Kong in the Donkey. Kingman, like Dunn, was a low average slugger who struck out a ton. He didn’t draw a lot of walks which distinguishes the two in their approach.

Kong bookends a series of this statistical occurrence, which happened every year from 82 to 86. Tony Armas hit .218 with 36 HR’s in 1983. Armas is odd in that he was a power hitter who’s homer to walk ratio was dangerously close to being inverted, meaning that he almost hit more HR’s than he drew walks in his career. Even Alfonso Soriano has the dignity to keep that chasm a bit wider.

Ron Kittle capitalized on a ROY season by hitting .215 with 32 HR’s in 1984. There are 3 distinct White Sox connections on this list with the possibility of a fourth. I find that funny.

Gorman Thomas is another statistical fore father of Dunn’s, in ’85 he also hit .215 with 32 HR’s, but he added 84 BB’s to the mix. He is one of the original TTO guys. Gorman Thomas had (and still has) a legendary mustache. I mean, the damn thing screamed 70’s. It truly was a hall of fame caliber facial hair styling, he and Al Hrabowsky need their own wing in the facial hair hall of fame. I could go on about this…but I won’t.

We covered Kingman’s 86 season. As the steroid era began, averages jumped. The ball was juiced, the players were juiced, everything was juiced. All the gaudy stats of that era are inflated in some manner. You get some guys that get close to this cut-off, but no player pulls off the feat until 2004.

Jose Valentin brought it back retro style as he sported a .216 AVG with exactly 30 HR’s. That was his last year of relevance in baseball. Now, there are two things you can credit for Valentin’s power surge in Chicago: 1. Comiskuellar 2. Roids. Lots and lots of roids. He was a small shortstop that turned into a mini hulk that hit HR’s.

I’m not sayin’, I’m just sayin’ (and for the record, I don’t care if he did).

There is a new wave of player that is bringing this back into style. Carlos Pena kind of started it in 2009. Oddly enough, that’s the best player season on the list. We’ve reached a crossroads of baseball understanding. There are a few ways to treat the new statistical revolution that has “taken over” baseball. You can go overboard with it, you can go overboard against it, or you can use it to augment your own baseball knowledge. We’ve crossed a point where we care less and less about strikeouts, and people are flipping their shit over it.

It’s a fad. Baseball goes through phases where certain things are valued more than others. All throughout the 50’s nobody stole bases, so catchers with good arms were no longer a priority. Catchers that could hit became important. Yogi Berra was a great hitter, but not the best defensive catcher. He would have been a 3B/LF in the 80’s. Anyway, back to the 50’s, you have a league full of noodle arms because no one needs to throw runners out anymore, and all it takes is one jackass to show up a decade later and steal 100 bases before the league goes back to looking for catchers that can throw, and then we get Johnny Bench in the very next decade. Baseball is going through a phase, at some point the K will be a stigma again.

Speaking of which, Mark Reynolds was doing his very best to test the limits of the K theory in both 2010 and 2011. Reynolds has the lowest BA on this list, but in that year he still managed to draw 83 walks, to illustrate just how much the game has changed. Reynolds is an extreme, he is almost the exact inverse of a player like Tony Campana. He can only swing one way, and it’s betrayed him thus far in 2012. If anything, his failure, and the struggles of Drew Stubbs should indicate that a change is coming. Pitchers are groomed to chase the strikeout now, it’s the measuring tool for prospects these days. For 2 decades players were chasing home runs at the expense of consistent contact. In the 90’s, K rates soared, but the ERA’s rose too. In the advent of the steroid era, however, we are quickly seeing the results of a lost gain. Pitchers are in control now as offense is down across the board, but I digress.

In summation, 5 HR’s is what separates Dunn from this list. There’s no way he climbs over .230. He’s looked lost at the plate over the past few weeks, but perhaps that’s just what it looks like when he slumps. Dunn does three things, he walks (leads the league), he strikes out (ditto), and he hits some monster HR’s (currently 3rd in that department). This is the player the White Sox paid for, nothing more, nothing less.

Mythbusters, Chicago Sports Style

I’ve noticed a rather alarming trend with Chicago sports fans. Even though the information is readily available to disprove certain Chicago myths all Snopes style, people still cling to these notions. I don’t know why that is. I guess it is easy to simply say the Cubs are being cheap instead of digging a bit deeper and finding out the truth of what their plan is. Here are some I’ve run into over the past month. Most of them multiple times.

  • Ricketts is cheap! He coulda had Prince and Pujols here if he wanted to! The Chicago Cubs told you from the start that they won’t be buying free agents until it’s time to compete. This has been reexplained ad naseum and is becoming a bit of a Quixotic quest to try to lay out for people.
  • Building troo da draft is stupid, they all bust out. The draft is great for a talent injection into a farm system. Considering the low impact players the Cubs have on the farm currently, it’s not the worst idea to build via the draft. You can look at what the Rays did as a blueprint. At one point, the Rays had 200+ SP Starts all from guys they drafted. Think about that one.
  • Dis Jerry Riensdorf is cheap and he treats his players badly, just ask Jordanman! He paid Jordan 30 Mil. He paid Jordan to experiment with baseball. He paid Jay Williams even though he would never play again. There are countless stories like this. Stop listening to a crazy asshole like Jordan.
  • Da White Sox have da smarter fans because dey only show up when da team is good. Faulty logic aside, I’m waiting for you guys to show up. It’s pretty damn late in the year.
  • Da Cubs have da best fans because dere’s more Cub fans and we sell out da Wrigley! No. No we don’t anymore. Besides, having more does not equate to better.
  • Football is better because more people watch dan any udder sport! You must love soccer then. Justin Bieber sells more records than anyone, is he the best musician in history? Exactly. Kiss my ass.
  • Line stunts solves everting! Die in a fire.
  • Bear weather! Patriots disproved that one real quick. Ditto those pussy ass San Franciscans back in 88.
  • Da White Sox woulda won da 1994 World Series! You know they were only a game up on Cleveland right?
  • Bartman fucked it all up for us! You spelled “Dusty Gonzalez” wrong.

That’s all for now.

[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

Since We Last Spoke: Brian LaHair has become The Babe reincarnated in Cubbie Blue, Josh Hamilton went on a binge (the home run hitting kind, not the other kind), NATO has begun its takeover of our fine city, President Obama endorsed gay marriage, and we’ve achieved peace in the Middle East. Well, maybe not the last one, but while we’re fantasizing about things that never happened but should…

…The Bulls just swept the listless, overmatched, lazy defending, inconsistent, bite-off-more-than-they-can-chew-by-saying-they’d-rather-see-The-Bulls-in-The-Playoffs Philadelphia 76ers, and they’re up 2-0 against the obviously aging Boston Celtics. Doug Collins has pulled out the last of his receding Silver Fox coiffure trying to figure out how to stop reigning MVP Derrick Rose from shredding his entire team en route to averaging a triple double for the series. The few Sixer fans who’ve bothered to show up for the two games at Wachovia Center chanted, “MVP, MVP!” every time Chicago’s finest stepped to the free throw line to put the nail in the coffin of this clearly inferior team. Luol Deng fed off of D-Rose’s championship tone setting play, and he showed why he was an All-Star earlier this year. Joakim Noah tore up the court the way only he can. He embarrassed the hell out of Spencer Hawes at every opportunity. 

I know this was a shortened season with more likelihood for injury and setbacks, but damn! This was simply ridiculous. There will forever be an asterisk linked to whoever claims Larry O’Brien this year, but this really felt like Da Bulls’ year. For real. Legitimately. The same feeling is probably being felt by Oklahoma City or Miami or (yet again) San Antonio natives this year, too. Well, go ahead and marinate on this: take Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden off of the Thunder. Remove LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh from the Heat roster. Timmy goes down along with Manu and Tony? Hell, take the top three players from any contender, and they instantly become candidates for the lottery. 

Fuck the 2012 NBA season. Derrick Rose may never be the same again. A torn ACL takes away a leaper’s leap and a cutter’s cut, especially a 6’3″ point guard’s ability to explode to the cup the way Derrick does (did?). No one wants to hear this, and I guarantee he feels worse than anybody about the whole situation, but it bears mentioning that without Derrick the Bulls might not ever get back to their championship level with Thibs’ current core. 

Anybody remember Penny Hardaway by any chance? Exactly.

But it has been a depressing season this year for Chicago sports. Not the traditional “our teams suck” brand of depression. It’s the brand of depression that involves high expectations, championship-caliber ball being played and then injuries and unforeseen circumstances taking over the fate of a season. The window in professional sports gets smaller and smaller for franchises, and the Bulls’ window might have just slammed shut with one snap of a kneecap. The same happened with the Bears this year. And the Blackhawks. 

Which brings me to a very important existential question: is it better to have loved and lost or never to have loved at all? The sports version of that conundrum boils down to this: is it better to have a great team and have it injure itself before potential gets realized or just to have sucked all along. Maybe we should round up a gang of Cleveland Browns or Charlotte Bobcats (sorry, Mike) fans to gain some perspective into the world of sucking. Or we can just take a cue from one of our baseball teams, and just, oh my gosh, I can’t believe I’m saying this…
…wait till next year.

 

Find us on iTunes

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