Wednesday, December 31, 2008

DeRosa Traded for Three Prospects

The Cubs continued their payroll cutting ways this off-season, dealing Mark DeRosa to the Indians for three pitching prospects. Combined, the three prospects play something like eight less positions than DeRosa.

I know nothing about these pitching prospects, but you have to think the goal of the trade is to clear some room to spend some money and hope that these guys can contribute. The Cubs also signed infielder Aaron Miles and have a deal in the works to send Jason Marquis to Colorado.

As of now, it's hard to see the Cubs being better next year than they were this year. Peavy talks have died down, and DeRosa was thought to be part of that trade anyway. DeRosa carried the Cubs for a stretch this year while having his best season ever.

Let the conjecture begin on who the big signing will be with the extra money. Milton Bradley is the rumor right now, with Peavy and Brian Roberts still on the periphery. Also, it's time for guys who provided quality depth to step in and play a major role. Fontenot and Marshall come to mind as guys that will be much more important in 2009, with a possibility of Samardzija starting still floating around.

Hilarious Derrick Rose Song Rings True

I found this song via Blogabull from Enjoy.

Oh and if you can't hear the lyrics too well, here's a written copy. Rose definitely needs some help; this song could not be more correct.

Statement Week For Illinois Basketball

Remember when Illinois lost a record 19 games last season? I don't. Especially after the past 8 days. Even though the team was 10-1 I was skeptical. They hadn't beaten anyone I had heard of, and the one chance they had to play someone decent (Clemson), they lost. It looked like Illinois was going to be a good defensive Big Ten team fighting for that last Big Ten NCAA berth come March.

Well that has all changed in the last week. Two enormous nationally televised wins against Mizzou and Purdue have put the Illini on the national radar. Are the Illini the best team in the Big Ten? Probably not, but they are legitimate contenders. In a conference known for low road winning percentages, Illinois showed a lot of toughness winning in overtime in West Lafayette last night.

This team has the elements to successfully execute Bruce Weber's three guard quasi-motion pick-roll offense. Four players are averaging 12 points and Chester Frazier is finally becoming the pass-first point guard who takes care of the ball that the Illini need. This balanced and efficient offense is the perfect complement to what has been a lights out defensive team. The weaknesses in the backcourt mostly consisted of an inability to score and McCamey's lackadaisical defensive approach. Well both of those problems seem to have evaporated. It also looks like Alex Legion will be a big contributor on both ends of the court as he slowly earns more minutes. Davis and Tisdale, thought to be too inexperienced and soft, have proven that they are anything but. Both look like they will be solid contributors and showed last night that they can defend the paint as well as any of the big boys in the Big Ten.

All that being said, I am getting a little ahead of myself. The Big Ten is no joke, and even though it is not very strong at the top, it is a solid conference and the road will not be easy. Teams like Wisconsin, Michigan State, Michigan, Purdue, and the emergence of Tubby Smith's Gophers will all be tough Ws. Regardless, Illinois has shown it can play tough on the road against the cream of the crop.

A 4 seed? A 5 seed? Maybe that's dreaming, but it is a real possibility. Thank god the Big Ten schedule started, I was getting bored of watching Illinois play Tulane, Hawaii and Eastern Michigan.

Today's Links-Too Many Links Edition

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Home and Home with Detroit will be Huge For Hawks

The Red Wings and Blackhawks are the focus of the hockey world this week leading up to their game on New Year's Day. The Winter Classic is getting all the attention, and rightfully so, but the original six rivals will square off in Detroit tonight in a game of similar importance to the Central Division race. With their ninth straight win Sunday night, the Hawks are within four games of the Wings with a chance to close the gap this week.

About a month ago, Chicago was coming off three straight losses, facing the Ducks and Wings in the next two games. The Hawks split those games, with the loss coming to Detroit in a shootout, and haven't lost since. The nine game streak is the longest in franchise history.

So what's the word on the back-to-back games with Detroit? I'm glad I asked, here's a little insight for both teams...

Why Detroit will come out on top:

They're the Red Wings and when they get up for games this year, they're virtually unstoppable (see a 6-0 win against San Jose recently). Plus, they own the big stage. With tonight's game in Detroit and the Classic at Wrigley with the spotlight on, Detroit has to like their chances.

Toews, Kane, and Sharp are great, but they aren't Datsyuk, Zetterberg, and Hossa yet. The Wings have also been able to score with ease on the Hawks this year and have two wins in two tries to show for it. When you look at Detroit and see the talent on the roster, it's not hard to get ready to play your best game, but the Wings have struggled to bring it every night this year. Kirk Maltby says it's like they're spotting teams two or three goals every night. With the Blackhawks right on their heels, the Wings shouldn't have trouble finding motivation Tuesday and they won't be able to escape it on Thursday. If motivation is all that's standing in the way Detroit has the upper hand.

Why Chicago will come out on top:

The problem for Detroit is that the Wings will need much more than a little spirit to take care of the Blackhawks. Chicago comes in on the hottest of streaks, while Detroit has lost two straight.

Dustin Byfuglien has come back just at the right time, scoring two goals Sunday night, while Nick Lidstrom will likely miss tonight's game to try and play Thursday with a bum ankle. The seemingly annual Norris Trophy winner plays a ton of minutes for Detroit and his absence gives the Hawks a huge advantage.

Sure, the Wings won both of the previous meetings this year, but the Hawks enjoyed a two goal lead in the third periods of both games and both went to a shootout. Also, while the Hawks may not have the bonafide talent the Wings do, they have some players that any team would kill to have and they're deep.

Detroit's penalty kill is struggling lately, which also bodes well for Chicago. If Lidstrom is out tonight, I like Chicago's chances based on their power play. Any struggles the Wings have had this season stem from the defense. They've turned the puck over too much and have been bad on the penalty kill. You can't do that against the Hawks with their firepower. With Lidstrom out, the Wings will take more penalties and will kill off less. The power play, which was a major point of concern for the Hawks has become an overwhelming strength. The Hawks have the 4th best power play in the league and are 5th best at killing them off, while the Wings have the 24th best penalty kill.

What does it all mean?

First of all, the importance of these two games is gigantic, or whatever hyperbole you would like to use to describe important stuff. John McDonough has called the Winter Classic a chance for an epiphany and described it as the biggest stage the franchise had ever been on. No pressure for the young Blackhawks.

Seriously though, the youth on the Blackhawks has to be a concern. A lot will come down to the health of Lidstrom; he wins awards every year for a reason and he is great. If he's out, the Hawks have a decent shot at a couple of wins. I think Lidstrom sits tonight and plays Thursday.

As a hockey fan, this is an unbelievably exciting pair of games. The Red Wings - Blackhawks rivalry can be one of the best in sports when it's at its best. With both teams playing like this, the rivalry is well on its way back. The atmosphere at Wrigley should be well past crazy and the level of play will not disappoint.

It's tough to come up with a prediction for the two games, but I think the Hawks will gain a point on the Wings in the standings. Hawks pick up three points, while the Wings get two. (It's two points for a win and one for a loss in OT or Shootout so you know S.N.)

If We Fire Babich (Fingers Crossed), There Are Some Good Options Out There

Unimaginitive, boring, unprepared, unable to make adjustments, weird-looking. All words used to describe Bob Babich, our defensive coordinator. Ron Rivera, Babich's predecessor, was a great defensive coordinator. He bought into Lovie's Cover 2 but was able to make adjustments that were tailored specifically to the personnel he was working with. In all fairness to Babich, the talent level on this defense is significantly less than it was under Rivera. What made Rivera great, however, was his ability to change the game plan to utilize his players' strengths. Babich has struggled with that.

Anyways, Windy City Gridiron made some interesting suggestions about who would be a good replacement, IF the Bears were to can Babich. With all the firings that just occurred in the NFL the last few weeks, there are some very appealing options:

Rod Marinelli: I know I know, the Lions were 0-16. Marinelli was not entirely to blame for that. If you want to talk about a lack of talent to work with, no one had it tougher than Rod. Also, the players never quit on him, they played hard for 17 weeks, even through an abysmal season. The Bears defense has looked uninspired at best for most of the season, and someone who could get them to play with more heart may resolve a lot of the issues.

Eric Mangini: The Mangenius choked in New York, but he was known as a defensive mastermind with the Patriots and even had some good Jets defenses the last few years. He might be a possibility. The only issue with him was his disloyalty to the Patriots and of course his involvement with spygate.

Romeo Crennel: Another former Patriots defensive coordinator, Romeo struggled in Cleveland (as most coaches have the past 50 years). I don't know too much about him, but he seemed to thrive as a defensive coordinator in New England and there's no reason to think he couldn't do that in Chicago.

Overall, I think the main issue will be Lovie's adherence to the Cover 2. I'm not sure that any of these guys are married to it like Lovie is. Whoever comes in would have to understand that the majority of things that are run in Chicago are run out of a base Cover 2. I assume all of these defensive minds would be capable of putting their stamp on the Cover 2 and working within it, but I'm not sure. No matter what happens, we can all only hope that this was Babich's last season.

Today's Links

Monday, December 29, 2008

One Question Mark Down, 73 to Go; Neckbeard to Start in 2009

According to the Chicago Tribune, Kyle Orton will be the starting quarterback for the Chicago Bears next year:
After Sunday's season-ending 31-24 loss to the Texans, offensive coordinator Ron Turner said Orton will head into training camp next July as the unchallenged starting quarterback for the first time in his career.
"No question about it," Turner said. "He played really well [in 2008]. It took him a while to get back in the groove because of his ankle [injury Nov. 2]. I still don't think he's 100 percent."
"All players will have competition … everybody is in that same group," Smith said. "But Kyle Orton is our quarterback."
So that answers that question I guess. Turner's rationale for keeping Orton as the starter is that he was still hurt for most of the second half of the season and that hindered his development and performance. Personally I have been in favor of keeping him all along, if only for lack of better options. If the Bears can just get him a good free agent WR like Boldin I think he will really shine.

A Great Example Of What An NBA Locker Room Should NOT Look Like

With the Bears season over, the only thing left for us Chicago sports fans to watch until March is the Chicago Bulls (unless you can figure out what the hell that game is with ice and a little puck no one can see). Well I have bad bad news for you guys. The Bulls season is unraveling right before our eyes. The Bulls have lost 7 straight on the road and cannot seem to find any sort of defensive identity. Not only that, but in the locker room there seems to be some differing philosophies about how the team should be run and what the problems truly are. Let's hear what our good friend Noce has to say about the matter:
"It's personal, you know?" Nocioni said, barely hiding his disgust. "Everybody needs to take the challenge. If we don't play 'D,' we will be out of the playoffs for sure. Today was terrible, terrible defense."
"We need to stop the ball one-on-one," Nocioni said. "Then nobody helps or crowds guys or takes a charge. So everybody can drive the basket or get offensive rebounds. It's energy. It's attitude. And that's it." based on Noce's assessment, the Bulls aren't playing with any energy or fire, right? Well Vinny seems to think otherwise:
"It's definitely not the effort," coach Vinny Del Negro said of the defensive woes. "Guys are playing hard and giving me what they can. Right now, one of our better big guys ( Drew Gooden) is out. Lu (Deng) is out. Kirk (Hinrich) has been out all year. Defensively, if you don't control the paint in penetration, it's hard to win.
"We changed defenses. When you don't have the length or size or power up front, you have to scramble."
Ok ok, so who cares what Noce thinks, right? I mean he doesn't play any real defense anyways. He can barely stay in front of his man. Unless putting a hard foul on a guy when you get beat (which is very often) means good defense, Noce is not the authority. Still there is something wrong with this disconnect in the locker room.

Oh and just in case you were curious what Larry Hughes thought about the situation?
"I'm not a spot-minute guy. I don't play well in that situation. If you want me to produce, I have to be out there. I can make a difference at both ends if I play."
Sorry about that, I'm sure you weren't curious about Hughes' opinion. I know I wasn't.

What is Del Negro doing over there? He doesn't coach the guys on the floor, since there is no apparent cohesive defensive or offensive philosophy. It doesn't appear that he is a player's coach, since there are a lot of unhappy voices in the Bulls locker room. What is he doing? The Bulls need to come out and play with some intensity tonight against the Nets and get something going.

Bears Season in Review

As the pain from yesterday's loss and no postseason football in Chicago begins to subside this morning, it's hard to know what to make of this season. Right now all that seems to be going through Chicagoans' minds is how the Bears blew the season, me included. Somehow we have to take a step back and look at the whole picture, though. Here is a brief summary of the season:

Preseason: The big question is who will emerge as the starting quarterback. After Orton and Grossman both are given a good look, Orton wins the job. Oh and who will get most of the carries at running back? Some 2nd rounder named Forte or Kevin Jones and his broken legs? It is still unclear at this point. Most experts and Bears fans think Chicago is a 6-10 team, 8-8 at best.

Week 1-6: Besides the resounding victories in weeks 1 and 4 over the Colts and Lions, the other 4 of the Bears first 6 are decided by 4 points or less. The Bears record sits at 3-3, but most feel that they could/should be 4-2 or even 5-1 after disappointing close losses to the Panthers, Bucs and Falcons. Also Matt Forte has emerged as the go to guy on offense. Thank god for that kid.

Week 7-9: The Bears beat the Vikings and Lions to seemingly assert their dominance in the NFC North. They lead the division at 5-3 and seemed primed to make the playoffs. The team is starting to take on a distinctively offensive character as the defense lets up 41 against the Vikings but the Bears are still able to pull out the 48-41 victory. (I still can't believe we scored that much). The defense, however, is full of question marks. For the most part they are successful against the run, but the pass rush is non-existent as questions about Babich's creativity and defensive schemes get louder.

Week 10-13: Word that Orton will be out for up to a month is devastating after how well he has played the first half of the season. Grossman then comes out and takes a hard-fought loss to the Titans. Orton "miraculously" returns after missing only one week. Unfortunately it is not the same Orton. The defense gets smoked by Ryan Grant in Week 11 during a Packers victory over the Bears. Although the Bears are able to beat St. Louis, they take a tough loss to Minnesota.

Week 14-16: With the defense reeling and Orton clearly not back to the form he was earlier in the season, the Bears playoff hopes seem to be evaporating. At 6-7, they need to not only win out, but get some help from the Packers and Vikings to win the division. The Wild Card seems like a complete pipe dream at this point. Somehow, what has been essentially a listless defense for most of the season comes out of their shell with some huge turnovers, blocked kicks, sacks and other big stops. The Bears win 3 straight to take them to 9-6 going into the last week.

Week 17: With Minnesota collapsing and the Wild Card possibly up for grabs, the Bears only need to defeat the sub-par Texans to be in position to make the playoffs. We all know what happens here.

When you look at it like that, the season was not a complete failure. In fact it was a complete surprise. With expectations of a rejuvenated defense and the usual quarterback and offensive woes, most of us should be shocked at how this season turned out.

Unfortunately, we are left with more questions than last year. At least going into the season, the Bears were supposed to have a great, or at least good, defense. The offense was where all the holes were supposed to be. Now, after a roller coaster of a season we are in an even more precarious position.

An aging defense that cannot seem to stop anyone is the primary concern. While we finished the season ranked 4th against the run, our pass defense and total defense was abysmal. The secondary is a mess, with Brown being hurt and possibly not even a Bear next season. Steltz and Manning at safety clearly does not work. And what is the story with Vasher? Is he hurt or does he just suck? Peanut and Graham cannot do their jobs effectively at corner even if they tried since there is no pressure on the quarterback. Sure the national media loves talking about how much the Bears blitz and get to the quarterback, but if they would actually watch a game they would see opposing quarterbacks have all the time in the world in the pocket. Let me leave you with one thought: Maybe we should move Urlacher to strong side linebacker and move Briggs to weak side linebacker. Think about it; Urlacher could better take advantage of his speed on the outside in a Cover 2 scheme. The problem of who to put in the middle is a big one, but we should be looking for a middle linebacker in the draft anyways, seeing as that Urlacher is getting older. Just a suggestion.

Offensively, I don't know what to make of this team. The O-Line looks like a bunch of pro bowlers one day and a bunch of old scrubs the next. Beekman sucks, Tait can't seem to protect Orton's blind side, and Kreutz is an overrated head case. There are no wide receivers worth shit. Even Orton is a question mark, since he almost completely melted down the second half of the season (so so so many interceptions...). Matt Forte and the two tight ends are the only things to feel confident on the offensive side of the ball going into next season. Oh and before I forget, Hester is actually developing into a legit number 2 receiver or a great number 3 receiver. Unfortunately we need a number 1 receiver.

Special Teams, oh special teams. Gould blowing another big kickoff this week is only the beginning. Hester should be off the return team. Daniel Manning has proven himself. The kick coverage team is the real problem. Everyone and their mother seems to get great returns against the Bears. There is only one thing to point to as the reason: Brendan Ayenbadejo. We need him back. I don't know if he is a free agent or what his deal is, but he is the best special teams player in the league and we should have never let him go.

So another season bites the dust. Will Orton be back? What will happen to the defense? Mike Brown? Will the McCaskeys get a wide receiver for Lovie? Who knows but all in all it was an exciting season and as much as I hate everyone associated with the team right now (and I do, god how I hate those choking motherf#$%ers), at least we made an unexpected run at the playoffs and didn't got 6-10 like most people projected.

Today's Links-Bears Break My Heart Edition

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Playoffs?! Playoffs?!

F$%& the Bears. F$#% Matt Forte. F%#$ Kyle Orton. F#$% Lovie Smith. F@$# Ron Turner. F#*$ Bob Babich. F@#$ the Texans. F#$% Daniel Manning. F#%$ Greg Olsen. F@#$ the Vikings. F@#$ the Packers. F#%$ the Panthers. F#%$ the Giants. F@$# the Cowboys. F#%$ the Bucs. F#%$ Rod Blagojevich. F#%$ the economy. F%$# terrorists. F#%$ the cold I have. F#%$ JB in the studio. F@%# Fox. If I forgot anyone let me know.

Now all I have to watch until March is the Bulls. F#%$ the Bulls.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Classic Bulls Christmas

Another great classic Bulls clip. This is from Christmas in 1992, Bulls vs. Knicks. Jordan goes off for 42 points in the Bulls win. A lot of great 90s graphics and my favorite part is Jordan's quote about 2/3 through the clip about how certain young Knicks should stop being so cocky. Enjoy:

Friday, December 26, 2008

Holiday Links

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Bulls Memory Lane Videos

Yesterday Zoner brought us the video of Charles Smith getting his shit stuffed over and over again from about 15 years ago. That made me think of some of my favorite moments in Bulls history and I remembered this great moment. After losing to the Pistons in the playoffs in the 3 years prior to 1991, the Bulls finally took the next step and got over the ugly, dirty, annoying, Detroit Pistons. They swept the Pistons right out of Detroit. As always, the Pistons responded in the classy way they approached everything; by walking out with time left on the clock, refusing to play the last 7.9 seconds:

Bad Boys? More like classless jerks. Good memories (except for you StevieY, but whatever).

Christmas Day Viewing

It's all NBA all day. 9 teams that play today have 9 of the best 12 records in the league. Enjoy! (All times are Central)
  • 11:00 a.m. - NBA: Hornets v. Magic (ESPN)
  • 1:30 - NBA: Spurs v. Suns (ABC)
  • 4:00 - NBA: Celtics v. Lakers (ABC) Here comes the hype!
  • 7:00 - NBA: Wizards v. Cavs (TNT) This is the game with the one shitty team of the day, but who cares? Its Lebron!
  • 9:30 - NBA: Mavs v Blazers (TNT)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Little Holiday Video

I found this little video over at Zoner Sports. Looks like they are going to be running a little "Walk Down Memory Lane" Bulls Title Edition for a while. The first? Remember when the Bulls blocked Charles Smith what seemed like 20 times? Zoner does, and here it is:

I love any highlight that reminds me about Ewing never winning a title. Happy Holidays to everyone!

NBA Archetypes and The Chicago Bulls

Upside and Motor made a chart of NBA Archetypes that is very insightful. Your initial reaction to it will be "Oh, that's cool, but whatever". If you give it a few seconds though and really look at it, you will realize how interesting it is. Here's the chart:

The pyramid is a tiered system, so players on the top are obviously more valuable than players towards the bottom. Although a lot of players fit neatly in one category, a lot of them can fit into 2 or more. What does this mean for the Bulls? I thought it would be interesting to see what categories the current Bulls fall into, so here goes:

Derrick Rose: Right now Rose is in the rising star category, although he clearly has shown the potential to be a premier point guard in this league. When I think of premier point guards, I think of Chris Paul, Deron Williams and Steve Nash. Rose is clearly not at that level yet but could be. For now, rising star is where he belongs.

Ben Gordon: Although Upside seems to classify him as a "megalomaniacal small guard", I think BG is more of a pure shooter, though that would seem to put him awfully high on the pyramid.

Kirk Hinrich: Hinrich is a scoring combo guard. Although he brings up the ball and generally thinks pass, he is not a pass-first point guard with his ability to score in bunches (at least before his jump shot abandoned him).

Lindsey Hunter: Veteran Floor General. No question about it.

Larry Hughes: Chucker. Even though he's been shooting a bit better lately, this guy is a chucker. Some have compared my game to his in that I like to shoot a lot but very few of the shots go in.

Thabo Sefolosha: This one is difficult. I was discussing this with my brother, and he pointed out that Thabo did not really have enough minutes to tell. For now he falls in the question mark category. However, with more minutes he could be a decent wing-stopper or even a rangeless slasher (though his slashing abilities are questionable at best).

Luol Deng: Luol was very tough to categorize. The best I could think of was "explosive wing". It pains me to say it, but we spent 70 million on a 4th tier player. Ouch.

Andres Nocioni: Hustle player. Easiest one to categorize.

Tyrus Thomas: High talent low IQ. He is the prototype of this category.

Drew Gooden: Gooden was also a tough one. He clearly fits into the "skilled but flawed post" category, but it seems a bit high on the pyramid for Drew. He is an effective player, however, and with our shitty front line we need him.

Joakim Noah: Raw Project Center, Brute Rebounder, Under Construction. Noah can fit into all those categories. Unfortunately none of those categories is "good".

Aaron Gray: Even though he has a different skill set than Noah, I think he fits under the same raw project center and under construction categories.

So there is your 08-09 Chicago Bulls. Besides Rose and Gordon, not much to build around. Still, every team needs role players and the Bulls have plenty of those. Here's to a .500 season!

It Was Like a Dream...

Do you feel like you woke up yesterday and had this weird dream about the Bears playing terrible all game against the Packers, but then somehow miraculously winning in overtime? Was it the coldest game in Bears history? You weren't dreaming! I swear it really happened. Here's a little video proof if you need to be refreshed:

Today's Links-Christmas Eve Edition

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Hitler Seems Pretty Pissed Off at The Cubs

This comes from Hire Jim Essian today. Apparently Hitler is not too happy with how the Cubs offseason is going.

Ditka For Governor

Da Coach almost ran for the Senate against Barack Obama a few years back, but decided to leave politics to the politicians. Well with the recent demise of Governor Blagojevich (don't tell him that, he thinks he's going to fight this apparently), there are some Chicagoans who think Ditka should make a move to the next governor of Illinois. I don't blame them, Ditka does have way better hair. Here's their mission statement:

"We da people of Illinois are sick and tired of scumbag politicians who think dat it's their job to lie, cheat and steal. No more! We deserve somebody in charge who we can trust. Somebody who we can depend on. Somebody who we know
understands the difference between right and wrong and won't be afraid to kick corruption in the ass harder than da '85 Bears beat down da Patriots in da Super Bowl! Dat's right, my friends. Da man for da job is Coach Ditka. So let's make it happen! Ditka for Governor!!"
I like it. I bet those idiots in the Illinois House don't talk back to him, that's for sure. Otherwise they might get a Ditka sized foot in their ass. Oh and if anyone wants to buy me the "Ditka for Governor" hoodie I will be eternally grateful.

Bears Should Not Have Won, But Who Cares?

In a game that was almost as ugly as it was cold, the Bears pulled it off against the Pack to keep their playoff dreams alive. I was at the game and it was UGLY. The Packers outplayed the Bears in almost every phase of the game, and the only reason the Bears won was a blocked field goal in the 4th quarter. Thank god Forte decided to play hard all of a sudden late in the game to propel the Bears to the victory. Oh and as usual Maynard and Gould looked excellent when they were called upon.

Basically the Bears now need one of the following to happen in order to make the playoffs:

For Division Title:

Bears Win; AND
Vikings Loss

For Wild Card:

Bears Win; AND
Bucs Loss; AND
Dallas Loss

If the Bears can beat the Texans they have a very good shot at the division and even a slim chance at the wild card.

There are two big question marks from last night's game (and most of the season). Kyle Orton and Ron Turner. Orton had another terrible game. 2 more picks runs his total interceptions in the last 4 games to 8. 8! The guy was supposed to be a low-risk quarterback. I don't know how it looked on TV, but it was like he just wasn't seeing DBs in his passing lanes, even though they were right there in front of his face. I'm not saying the Bears should shell out 80 bazillion dollars for Matt Cassel, but this situation needs to be fixed immediately. Orton seems to be the kind of leader this offense needs and respects, but the turnovers have got to stop. It's like he has a case of the "Grossman"s without the touchdowns (I'm not saying bring back Rex, I'm just saying).

The other question is Ron Turner. I heard an interesting point last night. If we all think back to the mid-90s when Erik Kramer had 4000 yards passing and the Bears had a record-setting offense (for the Bears at least), guess who was calling the plays? Ron Turner. This guy can obviously call plays and is well-respected around the league, but something just isn't right. Why wasn't he hitting Forte on passes out of the backfield? It was clearly a hole in the Packers defense. In his and Orton's defense, the wide receivers on this team suck. I'm not sure they are even trying to get open. Something on this offense needs to change for next year, because the talent is there.

All in all, it's a good day to be a Bears fan. Bring on the Texans.

Today's Links

  • I'm tired and I can't feel my toes, but it was worth it. Bears win in overtime thriller. Playoff hopes are still alive. F$%* the Packers.
  • Barack Obama becomes the first African-American President-Elect to play a round of golf. Think about that for a minute.
  • I know Gooden's only gone for a week, but our frontline is so bad that I miss him to the point of frustration. Other guys will need to step up if we don't want to go 0-4 with Drew out.
  • Vontae Davis is going pro. He didn't have a great year this year, but last year he played at an all-american level.
  • Remember that kid that got molested at the Sox game? Well he settled for a lot of money.
  • Ok this is kind of a messy article but has some interesting "facts". Included are Adam Dunn wants to be a Cub, Steve Stone is against a Milton Bradley signing, and much more. I think the words "unnamed sources" come up about 9 times.

Monday, December 22, 2008

It's What I Always Wanted!!

A great christmas gift for every Bulls fan out there this year has just been posted on Ebay. A Scottie Pippen candy bar. Get yours now, they are going fast!

Fittingly The NFC North Will Be Decided By A Bears-Packers Game On The Frozen Tundra Of Soldier Field

The season comes down to this. If the Bears lose, that's it, they go home. With a loss comes elimination from the divisional and wild card races (I think, these tiebreakers are so complicated). The Bears have had a long roller coaster of a season, but tonight's game will decide their fate. Of course it would be the Packers. After they embarrassed us at Lambeau a few weeks ago, they come to Chicago looking to find some kind of silver lining in their rough season. But this game means nothing to them in terms of postseason chances.

There isn't much to say about this game that every real Bears fan doesn't already know. I will be going to the game tomorrow to cheer on my Bears and everyone who isn't going should be watching this game. Even though the Bears are not their traditional good cold weather, run the ball, stifling defensive team of years past, you have to believe that with freezing winds howling in Soldier Field the Bears will have the advantage.

Oh one last thing: Fuck the Packers. Seriously I cannot stand a single player on that team and nothing would make me happier than to have a victory over the Pack be the thing that propels us into the playoffs. Mike McCarthy has worn out his welcome, Aaron Rodgers is overrated (there, I said it, so now it's out there; I'm not sure why everyone won't just come out and admit that), and that vaunted Packers defense we were supposed to see this year has underachieved at best. Don't even get me started about the fans, who seem to think their loyalty lies with a turncoat douchebag that has finally showed his true colors instead of the team that showed that douchebag nothing but respect and love. This team and its fans deserve one last serious spanking before the season is over, and the Bears are the perfect team to do it.

Today's Links

  • Rose led the Bulls past the Jazz Saturday night after the Bulls got spanked by the Celtics on Friday. Thabo finally got some minutes and as usual he made the most of them.
  • I'm not even going to get started on how underpaid professional athletes are (contrary to popular, and wrong, belief), but over at Shysterball they make some interesting points about it.
  • Who doesn't love watching sports stadiums blow up? Down goes the RCA Dome.
  • Vikings lost to Atlanta. The Bears playoff chances increased slightly, but it all won't matter unless they can beat the Pack tomorrow night.
  • Like the Bulls front line didn't have enough problems, now Gooden will be out for 7-10 days.
  • I don't know how I missed this the other day, but apparently the "Rally Rabbi" is bringing luck and god to Giants fans.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Skippy and Brady

It's been hot quarterback week on ESPN. First it was Schlereth and Wiley, then Skip Bayless jumped on board, with his top five hotties. Topping Skip's list was everyone's favorite village person imposter/penis toucher, Brady Quinn. Perfect. This story has been beaten to death pretty well, so it would take something pretty great to keep it going...oh, what's that in my inbox?

Thanks to real stadiums have roofs for this one. I would say that it a very funny photoshop, but I'm still not convinced that it wasn't stolen from Skip's dressing room somehow.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Greatest Legend of All Time

Michael Jordan is in the news again, this time for what looks to be a possible second marriage. That being said, I stumbled on this video of a new MJ commercial at Docksquad Sports. Like Docksquad says...goosebumps...

Where Am I Going To Get My Hot Dogs??

I know this doesn't have anything to do with sports, but it is disturbing nonetheless. Apparently Weiners Circle has been shut down by the City Department of Public Health. For what you ask? According to the Chicagoist:
The City Department of Public Health shut the Lincoln Park institution today after an inspection found no hot running water on premises and food stored at unsafe temperatures.
Are you serious? I never thought an upstanding high quality joint like the Weiners Circle could ever be cited for health violations. Oh wait, yeah I did. Either way this sucks because I eat there at least once a week (my girlfriend will tell you I eat there 2-3 times a week, but what does she know?). Where am I going to get my Chicago-style hot dog from now?

ESPN's Gay-foolery Continues

When I posted about Schlereth and Wiley slobbering over Tom Brady on NFL Live, I had no idea that hot NFL quarterbacks was a company-wide topic of interest for ESPN. Skip Bayless and Jemele Hill were also in on the party.

Except in this case, they made a list. Apparently this is something that takes place regularly on First Take (the lists, not picking the hottest QBs), but I can't help but thinking of Skip and Jemele in high school comparing their lists of who the hottest football players are. Anyway, here is Skip's list:

This is what Skip's career has come to. Arguing about meaningless sports topics and picking his most luscious quarterbacks. And this is what it has come to for ESPN, sacrificing reporting on real sports for what seems will inevitably end with a weekly reality show called "Temptation Huddle."

Thanks to HHR for the story and Deadspin for the screenshot.


Just kidding. Did you really believe that title? Anyways, my buddy Andrew does have 2 tickets to the game at Wrigley Field. The seats are in Section 4, Row 11, seats 111 and 112. They are $350 a ticket, $700 for the pair. Email if you are interested. Here's a holiday option: buy the pair and invite Stormin Norman! I would pay for my ticket of course, but I can barely afford to keep the electricity on in my apartment. Go Hawks!

***Update: Here's a video from Wrigley today. Watch out for falling Zambonis!

Will He Stay or Will He Go?

Is Kyle Orton somehow playing for his job the next two weeks? While the Bears playoff hopes may be dwindling, it appears the great Neckbeard has something more to play for. Word around the City this week has been that the Bears may not extend Orton as next year's starter. Just a month ago this kind of talk would be blasphemy, but now it seems to be pretty serious. He has been less than stellar the last few weeks, but I think Orton is our best option.

In years past, this kind of talk would have been ludicrous. With our usual stifling defense, Orton's performance this year would have netted us 11, 12, maybe even 13 wins and a definite playoff berth. Look at what happened with the Sex Cannon a couple years ago? If anything, the Bears defense is costing Orton his job. Orton should definitely be renewed. He is young, talented and poised.

But what are the other options? Matt Cassel? Donovan McNabb? Cassel is just as unproven as Orton and McNabb is old. Both of those guys are fine, but is either really a better option than Neckbeard? I don't think so. Either way Neckbeard can help his own cause by playing well the next two weeks. A win against the Packers can put all the doubts to rest.

Bulls Trade Possibilities

Bulls GM John "Stockpiling Assets" Paxson has just announced that he is looking to make a deal:
Paxson has been talking trade with teams recently and he will travel with the team to Boston for the game against the Celtics Friday.

''I'm trying right now, honestly,'' Paxson said of swinging a deal. ''We've had a lot of conversations as a lot of teams are. But there's nothing right now that we've been able to lock in on.

''We're trying to find some things that fit [with Derrick Rose]. The fact of the matter is he's very, very good and we're lucky to have him. When you look at the big picture, our goal is going to be to try and get this thing built with Derrick in mind and what fits him. That's going to take a little bit of time here to try and move some pieces.''

We've heard this before, but it seems like now is the opportune time to look to make some kind of deal or at the least move some assets. In that light here are some possible trade possibilities (I meant to write it like that Judd and StevieY, so shut the fuck up) that have been thrown around in the media lately:

  • Bulls are looking to RE-acquire Brad Miller. This rumor may actually have some legs to it. He is not exactly the low-post threat everyone wants, but if we deal some combination of Gooden and a bad contract (Hinrich, Nocioni, etc) this could make a lot of sense. He could play very well off of Rose by hitting those pick and pop shots that Rose creates.
  • Bulls may be pursuing Chris Kaman. This rumor has been out there for sometime, although apparently the Clips have not officially made him available. He is the kind of blue collar low post rebounder we need who has touch around the basket
  • Shawn Marion. It is well known that the Heat are shopping him around, but it wouldn't make a whole lot of sense for the Bulls. Aside from questions of how he would fit in on the court, off the court there are serious questions about his contract status. He has made it clear that he will be looking for a new long-term deal at the end of the year. If the Bulls get a player like that, it will only be as a temporary thing.
  • Kirilenko? Probably nothing more than a Sam Smith pipe dream, but a possibility
  • Any deal to unload spare parts and get contract space for the free agent class of '10 (or possibly '09?). This includes Nocioni, Hinrich, Thabo, Gooden, Hughes, Thomas or Noah. I think everyone agrees that the future must be built around Rose and Deng (and possibly Gordon if they can get him to sign a REASONABLE deal). Any other person is expendable. While we would all like Tyrus and Joakim to pan out, and many of us think Thabo still has potential, but any move that clears cap space is a good one.
There are other names and deals out there that have been talked about, and anything is possible. Hopefully Pax has the balls to pull the trigger on something that makes sense. For now, I'm just happy we are playing like a .500 ballclub. Finally one of my overly optimistic preseason projections for a Chicago team is coming true!

Stink and Wiley Think Brady's Sexy

So I happened to catch the end of NFL Live last night on ESPN, looking for some highlights of that Colts-Jags game that no one saw. I didn't see any highlights, but I did catch an interesting exchange.

Trey Wingo was talking about a riveting story that immediately reminded me why ESPN is no longer part of my television viewing when there isn't a game on. According to a survey, good looking NFL quarterbacks are paid better than quarterbacks that aren't as attractive. Hmm.

Before I get to Wiley and Schlereth and their attraction to Tommy, I did a little research. Manning, Brady, Palmer, Eli, Favre, Delhomme are your top earners this year; you can make your own conclusions. Personally, I wouldn't date any of those guys.

On to Wiley and Schlereth. I can't remember the question Trey asked, but what resulted was Wiley referring to Tom Brady as very "fine" then clarifying that he was definitely talking about his looks. Then after Stink mentioned something about Wiley and Brady having a bit of a "bro-mance" going on, professed his own love for Tom's adorable mug.

Wiley did come through with an excellent point though when he mentioned that he must be pretty good looking based on that girl on his arm. This is usually how I tell.

In regard to the best looking quarterbacks making the most money, this is a typical way for men to look at the world. He is the best looking, so he makes the most money. But let's think about this. Who decides which men are good looking? The women. Isn't it more like "he has the most money, so he is the best looking"? Just sayin'.

Today's Links

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Tyrus Thomas Gets Concussion From Banging Head Against Wall in Frustration

Tyrus Thomas left last night's game with a concussion, though according to the Tribune, it had nothing to do with anything that happened in that game:
The victory might come at a cost after Tyrus Thomas sat out the final 31 minutes 22 seconds with what the team called a concussion. The injury dated to knocks to the head in each of the last two games and nothing that occurred against the Clippers, but Thomas won't travel to Friday's game in Boston.

"He started running and was blacking out," coach Vinny Del Negro said.
Personally I think that when Thomas is banging his head against things during games, that's a good thing. It means he's playing with some energy. On the other hand, maybe he's just banging his head against a wall trying to figure out why he only gets limited minutes, why he's so inconsistent when he does, why Vinny insists on going with a lineup down the stretch that cannot get a defensive rebound, or any other number of reasons.

Fill in the Blank

Tyrus Thomas fouls Charlotte's Emeka Okafor Tuesday night (your caption should be much better than that):

Last week's photo:

Real stadiums have roofs comes through with an apple reference ftw: "having enjoyed larry johnson's grandma-ma alter ego as a youth, derrick rose splits the core of the trailblazers, embracing his own alter ego...grannysmith?" Nice.

Today's Links

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Weekly Fantasy Roundup: Bench/Start Week 16

For my 2008 NQTC Fantasy Football finale, The Bad Guy is leaving you with a few balls to the wall suggestions for what is most likely your championship week. If anyone has any feedback or questions, feel free to contact me at It's been fun, and hopefully I'll be back for baseball.


RB LaDainian Tomlinson (Chargers) - If you have managed to stay alive in your leagues up to this point with LT, then you are most likely going to ride it out with him, but if you're in a shallow league, I would really consider sitting him this week. The Chargers head to Tampa to take on a Buccaneers defense that has allowed (you may want to make sure you're sitting down for this) ZERO rushing TDs at home so far this season. Combine that with the fact that LT has been anything but spectacular in 2008, and you have all the ingredients for a really disappointing game. The Bucs just lost starting safety Jermaine Phillips for the rest of the season, and Pro Bowl LB Derrick Brooks might be out as well due to injured ribs, but even with these injuries, LT is still a risky play.

RB Marion Barber (Cowboys) - You could just tell that Barber was not himself on Sunday night, rushing the ball for a ridiculous two yards on eight carries. His backup, RB Tashard Choice, led the Cowboys in both rushing AND receiving, compiling 91 yards on the ground (including a 38 yard TD) and 52 through the air, and seems to have assured himself of future playing time regardless of Barber's health. If the match up were better, Barber wouldn't be as much of a ?, but Baltimore comes to town in Week 16, and as we all know, the Ray Lewis and co. simply shut down the run. The Ravens allowing 78 yards per game on the ground, and have allowed a league low 3 rushing TDs all season. Barber's chances of putting up double digit fantasy points are slim to none, and I would recommend leaving him on your bench this week.


RB DeShaun Foster (49ers) - If Frank Gore is out again due to a sprained ankle, DeShaun Foster becomes someone to keep an eye on. While replacing Gore in Week 15, Foster put up pretty good numbers against one of the better rush defenses in the league - 18 carries for 76 yards and five catches for 25 yards, and considering the 49ers opponent this week, should be considered a huge sleeper. San Fransisco travels to St. Louis to take on a Rams defense that has given up 23 rushing TDs and allows over 150 yards per game on the ground. If you're dealing with injuries or like to play match ups, Foster makes for a pretty decent play, and the potential is definitely there for a big game.

RB Kevin Smith (Lions) - Forget Calvin Johnson, Smith is the focal point of the Lions offense. He is coming off back to back 20 carry games, and should continue that trend this week against the Saints. There will be plenty of scoring to go around in this game, and considering that New Orleans has allowed eight rushing TDs in their seven road games, Smith is almost a lock to find the end zone on Sunday. The Bad Guy will even go as far as to guarantee that #34 is a top 10 RB for Week 16. Make sure he's in your lineups, and don't be afraid to start him over bigger names, as there won't be too many guys who put up bigger numbers....

Today's Links

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Cubs Sign Joey Gathright, Cars Tremble in Fear

The Cubs made a meaningless signing today. They signed Joey Gathright to a 1-year deal. Hopefully this turns out like another meaningless backup outfielder signing the Cubbies made last year (Reed Johnson). Either way, here's Gathright's video resume (thanks to Bino for pointing this out):

Cedric Benson's Delusions of Grandeur Continue

Cedric Benson now plays for the Cincinnati Bengals and is putting on his usual sub-par performance there. That hasn't stopped him from reminiscing about his days as a Chicago Bear. Remember how they always said Benson wasn't traditionally fast, but he had something called "deceptive speed". I'm not sure what that means exactly, but I do know his speed was so deceptive we never even saw it. Now that's deceptive. Anyways, Benson feels that his poor performance in Chicago wasn't due to any fault of his own, but instead to the circumstances. I'm pretty sure his circumstances were that he was given the ball about 20-25 times a game and told to run behind a pretty good offensive line, but what do I know? Apparently nothing according to Ced as he chimes in on Forte's success:
"He is having a great year, but when I see the highlights, I see holes," Benson, now with the Bengals, told writer Thomas George. "I see them using him in the slot, something they didn't do with me. If I was there right now with the holes I see, I probably would have 1,800 yards. I definitely would have 1,500. I congratulate him on all of his success. He is taking advantage."
1800 yards? How is the offensive line this year any different than it was the last few years? If anything they are older and slower and knowing Ron Turner, I'm pretty sure they are using the same scheme as back then. It's not like Turner is all that imaginative or anything, even with blocking schemes. Cedric Benson is an idiot. Who likes this guy except maybe the random person who started him on his fantasy team that random week he put up half-decent numbers? Why can't these ex-Bears just shut up already. First all the old receivers and now this? Oh and that crap about lining up in the slot has got to be a joke. Benson was not exactly Mr. Catch-The-Ball-Out-Of-The-Backfield in Chicago.

Today's Links

Monday, December 15, 2008

Minor League Sports are the Best

There are few things in sports I appreciate more than a good promotional night at a minor league sporting event. Okay, so I've only been to one of these things, which was a minor league hockey game where the home team wore Chiefs jerseys and the Hanson brothers from Slapshot were there.

January 30th, the Las Vegas Wranglers, a minor league hockey team, will host Rod Blagojevich Night. Yes! The players will wear jerseys with prison stripes and good seats will be sold to the highest bidders. Do prisoners even wear stripes anymore? No matter.

No word yet on whether they will have players posing as Blagojevich and Daley getting into a fight, but this sounds funny. Also, nice work getting this together in about a week.

Today's Links

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Don't Forget to Vote

My quick trip to ESPN's site tonight yielded an interesting poll. Naturally, I voted for the top option.

I always new they were pretty self-interested, but this is a little much.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Ed Werder Gets His

Ed Werder has essentially spent the last handful of his dorky existence covering the Dallas Cowboys. I really never liked Ed Werder, but he never really rose to the level of obnoxiousness of a Berman or a Stu Scott. However, this season Werder is pissing me off a bit. First, when the Roy Williams trade went down, I had to sift through Ed Werder's false reports to figure out if the Lions had traded Roy for the Cowboys personal trainer or if they actually got some value. Every time a seemingly reliable report came through, Werder threw out some erroneous trade like Roy Williams and Jeremy Bonderman for Patrick Duffy. Okay, no big deal.

Recently, Werder has taken to reporting on the soap opera that is the Cowboys locker room. We get it Eddie, TO is bad for the team, Witten and Tony have secret brokeback meetings and Wade Phillips sneaks Garrett's food when he isn't looking. None of it is surprising and little of it is news. Plus, your anonymous sources are getting annoying. Just mildly annoying though, I mean I don't want to stand in the street and yell at you or anything....

This gem comes from Deadspin and is fantastic. I spent too much time rambling about Werder to go through it, but the camera guy is a box of tools (and is likely fired), while the Cowboys fan is...well...I don't even know. Then you have the security guard come into the picture. "No no, it's cool, you're standing in the street. It's fine."

Who does this? Wait, I can just imagine Stormin' Norman standing in the street yelling at Jay Mariotti about the First Amendment.

Coach Vinny Del Negro Can't Seem to Defend Quentin Richardson From Long Range

With about 4 seconds left in the 4th quarter against the Knicks, Vinny tried a new, unconventional strategy to defend the Knicks dangerous 3-point threat. He screamed in Q's ear from the bench in an effort to distract him.

Bush league move? Perhaps. BDL suggests Vinny may have just been trying to help Richardson cure his hiccups. There may be some issue in terms of assessing Vinny a technical, but hell, if players can do it (and they do...all the time), why can't coaches. Besides the whole part about it being unprofessional, I think its a great strategy.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Yeah, Yeah, Derrick Rose Got Hurt But What I Really Want To Know Is Where I Can Get a Ben Wallace Bulls Jersey

In a Sun-Times boardroom, the following conversation takes place:
Sun-Times advertising executive: Ok guys, how can we lure people into our fan shop to buy Chicago sports merchandise?

Other advertising exec: We should probably prominently display some merchandise of popular players in Chicago right now, like Derrick Rose or Kyle Orton jerseys.

Sun-Times advertising executive: That sounds like a great idea. Ok get those nerds in IT to put the ad banner up above certain stories in the sports section of the websi---

Random Shitty Consultant: Wait wait! That will never work. Here's what you need to do. No one is going to want to buy current, relevant merchandise, you need to go old school!

Sun-Times advertising executive: What do you have in mind?

Random Shitty Consultant: Ben Wallace jerseys. Think about it, people have always loved Big Ben in Chicago, why not lure them in with the promise of 4 points and 8 rebounds a game and we will only charge them $15 million a year?

Sun-Times advertising executive: Brilliant!
While this conversation may be made up, I'm not sure exactly how else this could have been displayed on the Sun-Times website:

I wonder if they're selling David Wells or Ron Mercer jerseys. I bet those things just fly off the shelves.

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