Saturday, November 29, 2008

Sports Turkey of The Week

In honor of Thanksgiving, I am going to hand out an award called the "Sports Turkey of the Week". The award is being given to Plaxico Burress. Unfortunately he is not here to accept the award, since he is in the hospital after shooting himself in the leg:
New York Giants receiver Plaxico Burress suffered an accidental gunshot wound Friday night in a club, according to multiple sources.

Details of the incident weren't immediately available, but according to a source the wound was not considered life-threatening.

Fox reported that Burress accidentally shot himself in the leg and spent the night in the hospital.
I know Burress doesn't like to practice, but this is a little overkill on trying to get out of it. What an idiot.

Who Is That Idiot In The Goofy Glasses That Got My Copy Of Rock Band 2?

Well, I searched all day yesterday for the best deals on Rock Band 2, and even ventured out of my house and into the crowds to find it, but I failed in my quest. I don't know who this goofy looking guy in ridiculous glasses is, but I think he got my copy:

Wait, is that? No, it can't be...Apparently Chad Johnson got up at the asscrack of dawn yesterday to steal my copy of Rock Band 2. Dammnit Ocho Cinco, I've got my eye on you.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday Links--While I Get Trampled Looking For a Deal On Rock Band Edition

  • Although the circus trip isn't over, the Bulls get a break from the road for Thanksgiving.
  • Tommie Harris says he's getting better. I hope that applies to the rest of the defense, I mean everyone is "getting better" after they play St. Louis.
  • NQTC favorite World Wide Wes seems to hint that LeBron is going to the Knicks. I wouldn't normally talk about the lame LeBron to the Knicks story, but when World Wide Wes speaks, I listen.
  • Thanksgiving football sucked, as usual. No link here, just saying 2 blowouts and a game on a network I can't watch isn't exactly good programming. Back to the drawing board NFL schedule-makers.
  • This is the most extreme thing I have ever seen. You aren't so extreme now, are you Kluck?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Your Turkey Day Viewing Guide

Naturally, this will be all about the football extravaganza taking place today. Let's not waste any time.

Tennessee @ Detroit, 11:30 CT

The Titans are coming off their only loss of the season heading into Detroit on Thanksgiving. The Lions are coming off 11 straight losses and have one huge advantage on Tennessee. The Lions have ample experience when it comes to losing. Who knows how the Titans will bounce back from their first loss of the year? We know how the Lions will respond to their 11th loss: with loss number 12, obviously. As a Lions fan, the fun isn't in the destination, because we know how these things end; it's all about the journey. Hopefully it's not just your typical blowout, rather a gut-wrenching late comeback fueled by something really exciting, like Culpepper lining up behind the right tackle and the center snapping the ball through the endzone. The Lions know drama.

Seattle @ Dallas, 3:30

You can taste the anticipation of Julius Jones' return to Dallas! Well, maybe it's just that crazy casserole that doesn't look like it belongs at the table. You know what I'm talking about. There is always one spoonful gone because the husband of whatever crazy relative made it is scared into trying some. Anyway, this shouldn't be much of a game either, with Romo returning to form against a suspect pass defense. If that GHB in the turkey doesn't knock you out, this one should have you snoozing by mid-third quarter.

Arizona @ Philadelphia, 7:15

Finally a good game to watch on Thanksgiving...errr, for 10% of the country to watch. If by some chance you get to take this game in, consider yourself lucky, it's a great match-up. A lot of the talk leading up to the game is about McNabb and his benching last week. Lost among this babble of things no one really cares about is the issue of whether Warner can bounce back after a tough game against the Giants Sunday in which he took some hits. The Cards can clinch the division with a win. If McNabb can perform well and the Eagles get Westbrook going, this could turn into a real shootout, which again, no one gets to see. Dear NFL Network, drop dead.

It's A Thanksgiving Day Miracle!!

This is an old classic. On Thanksgiving in 1994, Plano East played John Tyler in a high school football game. With under 3 minutes to go, Plano East was behind 41-13. Thats when things "done gone crazy." See for yourself:

A Few Thanksgiving Links

  • Happy Thanksgiving from NQTC!
  • Bill Simmons loves Derrick Rose and is not afraid to say it. Scroll down a few paragraphs and read what he thinks about the future of the Bulls.
  • The Bulls played really well last night, until the 4th quarter that is. Spurs down the Bulls by 10.
  • Apparently Vasher is done for the year. Not that he was doing us any good, but a thinned out secondary is the last thing we need.
  • Brian Urlacher has something to say about all this crazy "bad father" talk. His baby's mama is not exactly the most reasonable woman.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Urlacher Tries To Make His Son Gay

I feel speechless right now. I mean Joe Namath wore panty hose and a fur coat, sure, but this somehow feels different. The papers are reporting that Brian Urlacher has been using some interesting techniques to raise his son:

Football tough guy Brian Urlacher dresses his son in pink Cinderella diapers and paints the 3-year-old's toenails blue, the child's mother charged in Will County court Tuesday.

The mother, Tyna Robertson, threatened to block Urlacher from seeing the boy if the beefy linebacker keeps it up.

Urlacher's attorney, Anita Ventrelli, filed a motion trying to stop Robertson from keeping 3-year-old Kennedy away from Urlacher.

After the hearing, Robertson claimed her son has become confused by the toenail panting and wearing pull-ups designed for little girls.

"He pulls down his pants and says, 'Mommy, look how pretty they are,' " she said.

Robertson also said Kennedy told her, "Big boys paint their nails," and said he refused to take a bath for two days to keep the blue polish on his nails from washing off.

"He'd say, 'Mommy, I don't want to get my nails wet. I don't want to mess them up,'" she said. "It took two hours to get him in the bath."

I can tell you one thing for certain about Urlacher's son: he is not going to be a professional football player. I'm thinking more like ballerina. On the other hand, we've heard from the mother of Urlacher's kid before, and she's not exactly a girl scout. As long as Urlacher steps it up on the defense, I don't really care about how he raises his kid (does that make me a bad person? yup).

Fan Foodie Launches

Our friends over at Hugging Harold Reynolds have launched a new site about eating food on the road at other ballparks. It is called Fan Foodie and here is what its about:
FanFoodie is for the frequent traveler who makes it a point to attend sporting events when on the road, and has a penchant for local cuisine. We tap some of the premiere locally-based sports bloggers on the web to offer their culinary tips and suggestions when rooting for the home team.
It's a very interesting and fun site. Also, surprise surprise, the featured article right now is about food at and around Wrigley Field by yours truly. Enjoy!

Weekly Fantasy Roundup: Bench/Start Week 13

From the desk of The Bad Guy:


WR Dwayne Bowe (Chiefs) - CB Nnamdi Asomugha could very well be the best cover corner in the NFL, as he seems to shut down the opposing team's #1 WR every week. This is really bad news for Bowe, as Asomugha will most likely be all over him for most of Sunday's game. #82 has been very consistent so far in 2008, catching at least five balls in eight of his 11 games (and scoring in six of them), but will having trouble creating space against Oakland. The Raiders have yet to allow a WR to reach 100 receiving yards in a game, a trend that is sure to continue against the Chiefs. Oakland seems like an easy match up on paper, but when you look a little deeper, things don't seem very promising.

WR TJ Houshmandzadeh (Bengals) - With Chad Johnson out of the lineup, TJ was shut down last week against Pittsburgh, as he was the main focus of the defense and constantly double teamed. Ocho Cinco is questionable to play this week against the Ravens, but it shouldn't make too much of a difference if he's in or out, as the entire Bengals passing game will have a rough time against Baltimore's secondary on Sunday. Housh has had a fantastic season, so I don't know if you can actually sit him, but there's a good chance he wont do much in Week 13.

WR Braylon Edwards (Browns) - After being drafted in the top rounds of many fantasy leagues, Mr. 5 Hour Energy has had an extremely disappointing season. In 11 games so far in 2008, he has gone over 100 yards receiving twice and has only caught three touchdown passes (compared to 16 last season). Unfortunately for Edwards, Indianapolis comes to town in Week 13, and the Colts have only allowed four passing TDs all season. With Brady Quinn's inconsistent play and a tough match up, Edwards might be better off sitting this one out on your bench.


QB Jay Cutler (Broncos) - Mr. Culter has been struggling of late (He completed less than 50% of his passes last week against Oakland), but look for the former Vanderbilt star to bounce back strong in Week 13 against a Jets D that is allowing nearly 240 passing yards per game. Denver should have a hard time running the ball against Kris Jenkins and company, and will need to move the ball through the air if they want to have a chance. This is a big game for the Broncos, so look for the South Park star to fill the stat sheets while he puts his team on his back and leads them to victory.

RB Lorenzo Booker (Eagles) - This is a long shot, but we all clearly saw that Westbrook was nowhere near 100% in Week 12, and because of the short week, is not a lock to play when the Eagles face off against Arizona on Thanksgiving. Correll Buckhalter is out with a knee injury, which means that if Westbrook cant go on Thursday, the backfield is Booker's for the taking. He would make for a pretty decent play against the Cardinals, and if you are in need of a RB, make sure to keep an eye on the Eagles' injury report, as you might be able to strike gold with the 2nd year RB.

RB Ronnie Brown (Dolphins) - The former Auburn standout is a pretty easy call this week considering the match up, but Ronnie Brown has been pretty disappointing for fantasy owners the past couple of weeks. Since Week 5, Brown has gone over 100 yards only once, and has seen Ricky Williams steal more and more carries from him every game. This is the week things change though, as #23 gets to run on the pathetic St. Louis defense. The Rams allowed Frank Gore to find the end zone twice in Week 11, and Matt Forte to score twice in Week 12, so The Bad Guy is going to once again bust out a guarantee that Ronnie hits pay dirt at least once on Sunday.

Hughes Wakes From Siesta; Takes NQTC "Globalo"

Here at NQTC, we have always tried to have a diverse audience. From our coverage of Jewish issues in sports to allowing Black Rob to comment on stories, we have prided ourselves on the many different readers we have reached. Well that has gone to a new level now. Yesterday we ran a story about Larry Hughes and how he has seemed like an entirely different player. Apparently the interwebs thought it was a good story, as it got linked by BDL and HHR. While we are very proud to get linked by those mainstream sites, it was an article that linked NQTC called "Donde Esta Larry Hughes" that astounded us. Here is a little excerpt:
Lo sospechaba, pero ahora todas mis preocupaciones se confirman. Según leo en el blog Not Qualified to Comment, Larry Hughes, el escolta de los Chicago Bulls, ha desaparecido y está en paradero desconocido. Su lugar en los Chicago Bulls lo ha ocupado Harry Lughes, un misterioso jugador, casi idéntico a él físicamente, pero que sabe jugar a baloncesto, defender y en general hacer todas esas cosas que el bueno de Larry nunca supo hacer del todo bien. La aparición de Harry ha coincidido con la gira por las canchas de la NBA que hacen cada año los Chicago Bulls para dejar que el circo pueda actuar en la ciudad, de manera que no se sabe si ha venido para quedarse o es simplemente algún empleado descontento del circo que quiere atraer la atención sobre los Bulls y alejarla de Chicago. En cualquier caso, sus números desde que se coló en el equipo titular, hace cuatro partidos, son francamente interesantes: casi 16 puntos por partido, 47% en tiros de campo, 8/17 en triples (rozando el 50%), e incluso ha añadido algún robo y algún rebote a ese respetable bagaje.
I have no idea what it means and to be honest I just pasted a random paragraph from it here. I am not sure if the site is a blog about the NBA Euroleague or just a Spanish NBA blog. Oh and don't miss out on the commentarios section. Thanks to NQTC reader Gavin for helping me translate the first comment, which apparently reads: "there is a little dejavu with seeing another player with 32 hitting a gamewinning basket in Utah, GRANDE JORDAN!" The Pistolero can always be counted on for that kind of insightful, clever, Spanish analysis.

Regardless, "El Blog Del Pistolero" is fast becoming an NQTC favorite for its racy NBA coverage. If you are ever curious about what's going on at the Pistolero, you can always find the link on our "Links We Swear By" on the right side of NQTC. Viva La Bulls!

Chicago Rookie Bonanza

Chicago is experiencing a wave of talented young rookies the likes of which the city has never seen. I'm not an old man, but I would venture to say that very few cities have ever had this high quality a crop of rookies. It remains to be seen whether the youths will live up to their high ceilings of potential, but either way there is a lot be excited about. The cast of characters is exciting:

Geovany Soto, Chicago Cubs (Age: 25): Although Soto came up during the 2007 season, he did not play enough games to be considered eligible as a rookie. In his 2008 rookie campaign, he hit .285/.364/.504. He also hit 23 home runs and won NL Rookie of the Year. The Chicago Cubs have not had a single everyday hitter come up through their system and really stick since Mark Grace, and he came up in 1988! That is 20 years. The Cubs have had a good run of pitching through their system, but no everday players. He not only hits well, but calls a great game behind the plate and has shown he can handle a capable staff with a mix of personality and experience. Hopefully he will be good for years to come.

Alexei Ramirez, Chicago White Sox (Age: 27): Alexei Ramirez, also known as the Cuban missile, was a huge surprise this year. He finished second to Evan Longoria in Rookie of the Year voting this season for the AL. He hit .290/.317/.475 for the year playing mostly at 2nd base. Most insiders believe he will be moving to shortstop in the near future, and he looks to be a force there for many years to come. My only recommendation would be that he eat something. Seriously the guy looks like he weighs 80 pounds.

Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls (Age: 20): This phenom led Memphis to the college championship game as a freshman. After much debate about whether the Bulls should use their top pick to draft Rose or Beasley, Paxson settled on Rose. The thought was that he clearly had talent, but it takes point guards a few years to develop in the NBA. Well Derrick Rose has exceeded all expectations and is having an immediate impact. He is averaging 19 ppg, 5.7 assts and 3.9 rebs per game. His numbers, while spectacular for a rookie, don't even begin to tell the story. He is the leader on the court and has shown an ability to completely take over games as a rookie. He is already a borderline all-star and he hasn't even begun to tap his entire potential. His jump shot was thought to be suspect, but he is knocking them down with regularity. His defense is still raw, but he has all the time in the world to learn and improve. The Bulls' future looks bright again, fans.

Matt Forte, Chicago Bears (Age: 22): What is so amazing about Forte's success this year is the low expectations that people had for him. Drafted in the 2nd round, it was unclear that he would even get that many carries when camp first broke. As soon as he got the nod, however, he was off and running. In his first game ever in the NFL, he reeled off 123 yards and a touchdown against the Colts. Although he has had some mediocre games, his ability to pound out the tough runs up the middle and mix in the speed and instincts to break a few big plays a game has allowed the Bears offense to flourish. With teams keying in on Forte, Orton and the passing game have punished opposing defenses. Forte has already racked up 909 yards and 9 combined TDs and there are still 5 games to go in the season. If Forte is not the favorite for Rookie of the Year, he should definitely be in the conversation.

Today's Links--Turkey Time Edition

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tips for the Stretch in Fantasy Football

So your team is out of the hunt in your fantasy football league. It happens. It has happened to me...once. One of my first crappy posts on this blog involved giving some tips for your fantasy draft. If you followed my advice your draft was probably the same as every other year, just with a few lame jokes sprinkled in. In light of the smashing success, here are some thoughts on how to conduct yourself now that your team is out of it.

Of course, every league is different, so some of this advice will be ridiculous for your league depending on how your draft order is set, how many keepers you have, or even the fluctuating value of a 35 yard field goal. The same issues arise in most leagues though: Do you set your lineup week after week if you're out? Are you active on the waiver wire? Is there anything meaningful you can do?

Let me dispose of issue one right away. Set your lineup. It doesn't take long; you look at your roster and see if any of your bench players are going against the Lions or Rams, you put them in. You see that Steven Jackson is out with a knee injury and Chad Johnson fell asleep in the middle of wind sprints, you sit them down. Maybe it won't mean much, but there is always something to shoot for, like beating that guy that stole Michael Turner from you in the third round, or making sure you don't lose to that one girl in your league.

There are also plenty of reasons to work that waiver wire. First thing you do is to check if anyone ditched a potential keeper during the year. Maybe some idiot dropped Brady, you never know. Obviously people in the league are a lot smarter than you though, so this probably didn't happen; or of course if you missed the playoffs, chances are pretty good that you had Brady. Also, let me reiterate the policy of revenge. Find a reason to want to beat your opponent, or steal this year's Kenny Watson from some douche who really needs him. A word of caution though, you're out of the playoffs, don't risk your dignity by spending hours on the waiver wire, or you know, writing long blog posts about fantasy football (no offense Bad Guy, you're the best).

So other than keeping up with your regular fantasy responsibilities, what else can you do? In most leagues the trading deadline has already passed, but it's always a good idea to look to the future. Especially with all the great young running backs this year, it's a great time to lock up a keeper through a trade. Maybe you have a decent wide receiver like Dwayne Bowe or Freddie Mitchell Jericho Cotchery, pair him with a veteran running back having a good year, like Thomas Jones and ship them off for a young stud with potential like Forte, Slaton, or Jonathan Stewart.

If the trade deadline has passed, tough break. Try something else to have some fun. Write up some playoff previews on the message board, or make incendiary posts against those bastards who made the playoffs.

The point of all of this is to stay involved. It will be more fun for you because fantasy football is fantastic and definitely better than your job or school. It's better for your league because no one wants a lame duck owner with four injured guys starting to change the league. Plus, the better you do at the end, you make it easier to complain about how close you came to winning it all. "If only DeSean Jackson wasn't such an idiot in the first three weeks of the season!"

Fill In The Blank

It's Fill in The Blank time. What happens is I will post a random picture I select, and you guys (the readers) create a funny caption for the photo. Post your caption ideas in the comments for this story and I will post the funniest caption under the picture at a later date. Here's this week's "Fill in the Blank".

Brian Urlacher grins like an idiot as he grabs a fistful of boob.

Last Week's Photo:

Best Caption comes from EEKS: "I think this is how our priests give it to the altar boys!!"

**Note: Apparently people felt awkward making a caption for last week's horribly inappropriate photo. Use a different handle so no one knows who you are. Come on, grow some balls and get turned on by 15 year olds.

Harry Lughes Hits Game-Winner; Larry Hughes Still MIA

The strange disappearance of Larry Hughes has been followed by news of a new Bulls player playing very well at the 2/3 position. Harry Lughes joined the Bulls at the start of the Bulls circus trip. His blue hair is the most obvious difference between him and Hughes. He has also been unable to duplicate Larry Hughes style of play and some would argue he is bringing almost the exact opposite style to the table. The game-winner against Utah notwithstanding, Harry has shot 47% from the field in the last 4 games. This is in stark contrast to his predecessor who shot a measly 33% in his first 3 games since returning from injury and just 39% with the Bulls last year. Harry Lughes has also shot a shockingly efficient 8-17 from 3 point land since his mysterious appearance on the Bulls bench prior to the Portland game.

The offensive numbers alone don't show the stark contrast between Larry and Harry. He seems to be taking great shots. Where Larry seemed to never want to go inside about 18 feet, Harry has decided to take it strong to the rack on a number of occasions, drawing fouls and racking up free throws opportunities. He also seems to be able to differentiate between what basketball insiders call a "good shot" and a "bad shot".

Defensively Lughes style clearly differs from Hughes style. If you watched Hughes the past few years, you know that the best word to describe his defensive style is comparing him to a matador with the occasional half-hearted attempt at cheating into a passing lane and coming off his man to gamble on a steal. Lughes plays an entirely different style of defense. He stays in front of his man and forces that man to take a bad shot or have to give up the ball.

Is Harry Lughes here to stay? We can only hope. It has only been 4 games and knowing Larry Hughes, I can't imagine he'll stay away for long. Only time will tell, but for now, Harry is the toast of Chicago after playing great basketball and of course making that huge game-winner against Utah. I wonder how much a Lughes jersey costs.

Today's Links

Monday, November 24, 2008

Week 13 Big Ten Wrap-up

We seemed to find out a little more each week about the Big Ten. Minnesota and Northwestern confused everyone with great starts, Wisconsin baffled onlookers with a dominant non-conference trio of wins, then tanked in conference play, and Penn State just wouldn't stop losing for most of the year. As the year went on, we figured out that Minnesota wasn't that good, Northwestern was for real, even without their star running back, Wisconsin was not nearly as good as everyone thought, and Penn State and Ohio State ruled the conference. All of these revelations left one team that we couldn't get a handle on.

Michigan State had a bit of an odd season. Sparty started off with a loss at Cal, then won 9 of 10 coming into the Penn State game and had a chance to share the Big Ten title with a win. On Saturday, Michigan State looked like a team that was happy to have that chance, not a team ready to take advantage of it. Penn State ran up 557 total yards and held Javon Ringer to 42 yards rushing en route to a blowout win. MSU put up some points late, but after losing 49-18, the Spartans lost to Ohio State and Penn State by a combined score of 94-25. Penn State is heading to the Rose Bowl to face either Oregon State or USC, while MSU will probably be in the Outback Bowl against an SEC opponent.

Early on it looked like Michigan may have been ready to make it a game against Ohio State. However, a stagnant offense and big plays from Ohio State turned this into the game many expected. Except the few times wide receivers ran wide open behind their safeties (Michigan should really think about renaming this position), UM shut Terrelle Pryor down. The freshman QB was 5-13 for 120 yards, but Chris Wells picked up the slack with big plays. Wells only rushed 15 times, but went for 134 yards and a score. Ohio State's defense held UM to just 198 yards and forced 12 punts. The 42-7 victory is the fifth win in a row for Ohio State, making it the longest streak for the Bucks in the history of the rivalry.

Northwestern had been more impressive than Illinois all season long, yet the Cats were still underdogs going into the match-up with the Illini at Ryan Field Saturday. The result was a 17 point win, denying Illinois a bowl berth, just a year removed from a Rose Bowl bid. The Wildcats will be pulling for Ohio State to get into a BCS bowl so they can grab a spot in a New Year's Day bowl. The 9-3 record makes this the fifth Northwestern team to finish with nine or more wins.

Wisconsin's disappointing season almost got a final kick to the face Saturday as the Badgers trailed almost the entire game and needed overtime and three missed extra points to beat Division I-AA Cal Poly Saturday. After a PJ Hill touchdown and a two point conversion run by Hill tied the game and Cal Poly missed a field goal, the game headed to OT, where the Mustangs scored on the first play, then missed the extra point. John Clay scored for UW from six yards and the extra point was good to win the game. We'll see where this performance lands Wisconsin for a bowl game. Probably Detroit.

Purdue blew out Indiana 62-10 and Iowa shut out Minnesota 55-0.

Bears Have Big Rebound Win; Parade On Hold Until Defense Proves Itself Against a Real Team

The Bears game this week was a gigantic relief. The Bears looked great on offense, defense and even special teams. We have to be careful not to get crazy, though. This was the Rams, and they do suck really bad. Hopefully this game boosted our confidence somewhat, but beating up on arguably the worst team in the NFL (apologies to the Lions and Bengals) does not a champion make. ChiSportsFanion describes this as the "St. Louis Cure" for our defense, but rightfully remains skeptical about the long-term effects:
Critics of the St. Louis Cure have argued that the drug only provides a short term solution to what is a long term disease. Dr. Richard Sexton believes that the drug simply masks the symptoms of defensivitis, which usually reappear only one or two weeks later. His concern is shared with fans of the Chicago Bears who are cautious about the long-term affects of the cure. One Bear fan was noted saying, " I wish we could play the Rams every week".
So let's not get too far ahead of ourselves here. If we can beat Minnesota that will put us in good position to win the division, but we will have to defend them better than we did last time (41 points allowed). Hopefully the "St. Louis Cure" lingers in our systems for an extra week or two.

Today's Links

Friday, November 21, 2008

Blackhawks Week in Review

Four Blackhawk games have come and gone since we last talked about them. That's too long, but I'll be better for you. I have to be better. Anyway, as usual I think we'll skip over the embarrassing loss to the Blues. They played, they lost, fill in the blanks.

Sunday night was no treat either, as the Sharks scored two third period goals to win 6-5. The penalty kill was, well, the death of the Hawks on Sunday as the Sharks were 4 for 6 with the man advantage.

Then Chicago hit the road to start their own circus trip. So far, the Blackhawks have gone a different direction than the Bulls on their road trip with two straight wins. How strange is the circus trip though? Well, the Blackhawks won a shootout in their first game on the trip. That just does not happen in the real world.

This miracle shootout win happened on Tuesday night at Phoenix. After Huet started in loss against the Sharks when the Hawks gave up six goals, Khabibulin was back in net for the win. Kris Versteeg and Patrick Sharp scored in regulation for the Blackhawks, putting them out to a 2-0 lead. The Coyotes got a goal in the second and another in the third to tie the game. In the shootout, Sharp and Toews got the goals, while Khabibulin made two saves.

From Phoenix, the Hawks went to Dallas and faced the Stars Thursday night. Chicago started slow as the Stars jumped out to a 10-1 advantage in shots. Of course then the Stars were hammered drunk and proceeded to lose the game 6-3. Khabibulin, who seems to have established himself as the #1 goalie, stopped 31 shots and moved to 6-1-4 on the season. Kane had two goals, scoring the first goal for the Hawks in the last minute of the first period and putting home an empty netter at the end. Chicago scored a goal in the last minute of each of the three periods.

Looking Ahead:

There are four games left in the road trip, but obviously it couldn't have gotten off to a better start. The Hawks go to Toronto tomorrow night and then out west for San Jose, Anaheim, and L.A. to finish it up. One win out of those three isn't too much to ask for the Blackhawks to come out of this trip even, but look for them to steal a point in there too. I'll say a win against the Kings and at least a point tomorrow against Toronto.

You're Not The Only One Who Thinks The Bears Defense Is Bad

There's no need to re-hash all the problems with the Bears defense this year, but suffice it to say they have flat out sucked. Well we weren't the only ones to notice. Mike Brown had this to say this week:
"Once we come to grips our defense isn’t what it’s supposed to be, then we’ll all be better off. The perception is we have a good defense. The reality is we don’t."
Truer words were never spoken. Hopefully this doesn't mean that the defense has lost all their confidence. Unfortunately they aren't playing with any and now one of their leaders seems to have lost faith in the unit. Is he saying the team should accept the fact that they suck? I hope not.

Billy Corgan Thinks White Sox Fans Should Stay The F#&$ Out Of His Conversations

Over this past summer Eddie Vedder wrote a song about the Cubs called "All The Way". I thought the song was pretty crappy and lame, though apparently some people liked it. Either way, there was some question over whether he was a true Cubs fan or not. There was also the feeling that Vedder's song coupled with the Sports Illustrated Cover jinx was going to doom the Cubs (who would have thought not being able to hit in the clutch would end up being the thing that did us in?).

The Smashing Pumpkins happened to play a show at the Chicago Theater Wednesday night and noted Chicagoan Billy Corgan chimed in on the Eddie Vedder song about the Cubs. Corgan is a known lifelong Cubs fan and lived and died with the Cubs his whole life. He was not pleased with fellow frontman Vedder:

If … If … IF … the Cubs did have a chance this last year that just passed … Fuckin’ Eddie Vedder killed that shit dead. Last I checked Eddie ain’t living here, Okay?

Eddie ain’t living here to write a song about my fuckin’ team.

That is absolutely correct. I'm not sure all the profanity was necessary, but what the hell? That song Vedder wrote was terrible and he's not even living in Chicago.

An actual bootlegged video of the concert is on YouTube and posted here. It is definitely not safe for work but worth watching. Highlights:
  • Bears will win the Super Bowl in 2012
  • White Sox and White Sox fans suck
  • Rips Ozzie Guillen and Bobby Jenks
  • Corgan could write a better Cubs song than "Go Cubs Go"

Today's Links

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Late Thoughts on McNabb

I was MIA Monday and Tuesday, so I missed the boat a little on this McNabb story. Even though ESPN & Co. have dragged the thing through the streets to the point where they're still blabbering about it today, I feel a little weird bringing this up so late. However, I think the story is so strange that it merits a quick post.

In case you somehow missed it, McNabb admitted to not knowing that an NFL game could end in a tie after the Eagles and Bengals tied Sunday. He then said he would hate to see what would happen in the playoffs or Super Bowl. Obviously, extra overtimes are allowed in those situations.

Plenty of players, notably Big Ben, have defended McNabb saying you'd be shocked at the number of NFL players that don't know the rule. Am I surprised? Yes. Shocked? Not really. I've assumed for quite a while that at least half of the players in the NFL are complete idiots and have no trouble believing them to be ignorant of significant rules.

Watching players catch kickoffs as the ball is about to fly out of bounds at the two or witnessing punt coverage teams get fooled by the same fair catch trick 164 times per season takes a bit of the shock away from the situation.

Really, the reason this is shocking is because it is Donovan McNabb. He has a good head on his shoulders, seems like a bright guy, and charmed the nation with his Chunky Soup commercials. In fairness to McNabb, he did grow up in Chicago during the 1980s, so he probably didn't see too many overtimes on account of the Bears rolling over just about everyone they played.

Of course, this is the last straw for Philly fans with McNabb, and somehow Andy Reid's son is to blame. Give the guy a break, just admit you're pissed because you tied the Bengals.

ESPN to BCS: "It's your destiny!"

Sports coverage has changed significantly in our lifetime. A lot of it has been good, but there are some things that have gone horribly wrong. Every week I'll be taking a little time to whine about one of these things with no hope whatsoever that anything will change.

Somehow when I think of the new deal between the BCS and ESPN for television rights from 2011-2014, I picture the Emperor from Star Wars convincing the BCS to come over to the World-Wide Leader. Well, the BCS has come over to the dark side.

Not that Fox has done a good job, or has ever done a good job at anything sports related (except those Best Damn top 50 countdowns), but there are so many reasons I don't like this relationship between the BCS and ESPN:

  1. I hate the BCS and I hate ESPN. I want to take them out in a field and beat them down, Office Space style.
  2. Don't expect anyone on the network to rail against the BCS system when they have the rights to broadcast. They'd get excited about a checkers match if it made them some money.
  3. Now we have to listen to Lou Holtz say "BeeScheeeEsssch" more.
  4. Not everyone has ESPN. I know this doesn't impact most people reading a blog, or most sports fans, but I really think it should be on a major network.
  5. There are more reasons, but they mostly stem from number one.

There are obviously some good things about this. The broadcasts on Fox were horrible and no one does a better job showing a sporting event than ESPN. The analysts on Fox were also bad; Barry Switzer didn't get the job done. While Holtz and May can dig a deep hole and jump in, the Gameday crew is solid and Rece Davis or Fowler will be 100 times better than anyone Fox has hosting their coverage.

This is still a win for the Empire and I can't support the move to ESPN. The main thing to be disappointed about is that I think this makes things exponentially tougher to get rid of the BCS before 2014. Your move Barack.

Week 13 Big Ten Preview

This is it for the Big Ten. The long, at times boring, occasionally exciting, a couple times shocking season is drawing to a close. I'll get unnecessarily nostalgic in the recap next week, but what will this last week hold for us? For one thing, we finally know what each of these teams is all about. Penn State and Ohio State rule the conference this year, while Michigan State has managed to not screw up their shot at taking down Penn State for a share of the title. There is a middle group including Northwestern, Iowa, with Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota confusing the hell out of everyone, then Michigan, Purdue and Indiana just lose a lot. And this is tough to say:

The game of the week has to be Penn State and Michigan State. I'll probably jinx the Nittany Lions by saying this, but until Michigan State in 2008 I've never seen a team accomplish so little and have a chance at an outright Big Ten Title in the last week of the season. They lost to a mediocre Cal team in the first week of the season and got blown out at home against Ohio State. They have zero impressive wins, but with just one they can win a share of the conference championship. The key to this game will be Javon Ringer vs the world Penn State defense. PSU is 10th in the nation against the run and the Spartans won't be able to beat them without Ringer going for at least 100. For Penn State, Daryll Clark has to take care of the ball and put Derrick Williams and Evan Royster in positions to make big plays. I don't believe that Michigan State has ever won in Beaver Stadium, so they'll look to break that trend along with their 10 game losing streak against ranked opponents. The game starts at 2:30 CST.

I can hardly believe that Ohio State - Michigan isn't the premier game of the weekend in the Big Ten. Regardless of the hype, this Jim Tressel said this is the most important game and the most important goal of the season for Ohio State. The Bucks have a chance to win their fifth straight game over Michigan, which would be the longest streak over the Wolverines in Ohio State history. It looked pretty likely throughout the year that it would be an easy win for OSU, but this week has made it look like a lock. Michigan will be without QB Steven Threet, RB Sam McGuffie, RT Steve Schilling, and still missing all their good offensive players ever and their defense's collective brain/self esteem. Terrelle Pryor throws the ball about 15 times per start, but he might not need to throw once to win. Key match-up is Pryor/Wells against tripping over their own feet. Michigan - Ohio State starts at 11:00.

Illinois travels to Northwestern Saturday and will try to become bowl eligible. Hey, guess what the key to the game is...Juice Williams vs. turnovers! The Illini certainly have the talent to beat Northwestern, but the Cats have shown great mental toughness this year and have a great chance to win at home.

Minnesota hosts Iowa in a battle of teams going in opposite directions. Shonn Greene will have a chance to set Iowa's single season rushing record, and probably will.

Wisconsin takes on Cal Poly (wooo!) and Indiana and Purdue face-off in a game someone has to win. Let's go to the picks:

Indiana 24 - Purdue 31
Cal Poly 10 - Wisconsin 38
Iowa 27 - Minnesota 13
Illinois 27 - Northwestern 28
Michigan 10 - Ohio State 27
Michigan State 13 - Penn State 28

Derrick Rose Does It All

Is Derrick Rose going to be a great player? Everyone knows that I think so, but Truehoop did a play-by-play analysis of Rose that was very insightful that seems to indicate that Rose will be great for years to come:

Let's take a look at Rose's weaponry:

The Triple Threat [1st, 11:15] On the Bulls' first possession of the game, they run a high screen and roll for Rose and Drew Gooden. Gooden forces the action with a dribble-drive from the top of the circle against a recovering Pau Gasol, then kicks the ball out to Rose on the right wing.

Rose catches and sees Fisher cheating. Faced up against Fisher, Rose sizes up his options: Does he hit Luol Deng at the top of the arc? (The Lakers have collapsed in the paint on Gooden) Does he shoot over Fisher? Or does he put it on the floor?

Rose elevates his right shoulder for the faintest of pump-fakes -- but it's just enough to get a recovering Fisher to bite. Rose takes a hard dribble driving right. Gasol cuts off the lane, so Rose throws up a running right-handed floater that falls in.

The Drive and Kick [1st, 9:03] As Rose drives down the left sideline past Fisher, the entire Lakers defense shifts low and strong. This leaves the perimeter vulnerable, and Gooden has set up shop at a spot just behind Rose on the arc. Even though the Lakers now have Rose trapped in the corner, he manages to leave his feet to heave an overhead two-handed pass back out to Gooden, who's alone at 18 feet.

Few point guards have been able to maintain control of the court against the Lakers' strong-side pressure this season, but Rose beats it with his court vision. Gooden nails the shot.

The Bulls like this set enough to run it again on the right side a couple of possessions later to the same effect: An open Drew Gooden face-up jumper.

Rose has four assists before the eight-minute mark of the first quarter, three of them to Gooden.

The Stutter-Step [1st, 5:34] The Bulls have seven seconds on the inbounds. The ball comes into Rose in the backcourt against Fisher. He takes a hard dribble with his left, then glides by a solid screen from Gooden that stunts Fisher. Here comes the traffic -- Bynum off the switch coupled with Vladimir Radmanovic, who has left Deng to help. Rose momentarily hesitates with a little stutter-step that destabilizes Bynum. But there's still work to be done. He then lowers his head, splits the two big men, launches off his left foot as he brings the ball up for an acrobatic finish with his left hand. It's good, and it's beautiful.

The Pace Car [1st, 2:58] Ben Gordon strips Lamar Odom. Rose picks up the ball at the Lakers' foul line at 3:01. In three seconds, he weaves his way through the entirety of the Lakers' transition defense, splitting Radmanovic and Fisher at the arc, to reach the rim before Kobe Bryant can contest the shot.

The Rookie [2nd, 9:48] Rose has tremendous strength, speed, and awareness ... but guys like Kobe Bryant still have instinct. Dribbling the ball in the backcourt, Rose telegraphs a pass to Ben Gordon. Bryant needs only the teensiest of signals and Rose has given it to him. Kobe effortlessly steps in front of the pass, get it into the open floor, and converts the break against Rose on the other end.

The Freelancer [2nd, 3:03]: This is the most telling Rose sequence of the half, albeit one that's less visually spectacular than some of his other flourishes.

Drew Gooden comes high to set a screen for Rose along the left sideline. But before Gooden sets up, Rose realizes he already has what he needs -- an off-balance Pau Gasol anticipating the screen, then a whole lot of open court on the strong side. Rose doesn't wait. He takes a hard dribble with his left as he hums past Gasol along the left sideline in front of the Bulls' bench. With Ben Gordon safely off in the far corner, Kobe Bryant steps out to contest Rose. As Bryant emerges, Rose accelerates into sixth gear. He's at the glass before Bryant can challenge the shot.

Even with a prospect as talented as Derrick Rose, there are still persistent questions: Can running John Calipari's Dribble Drive Motion against Conference USA defenses really prepare a 19-year-old for the length and speed he'll encounter against a defense like the Lakers? By most measures, the early answer is yes.

Rose's poise and instincts have translated into some startling results -- including a .483 field goal percentage, and a turnover/48 minute number that's remarkably low for a rookie with the ball. The trick for Rose will be mastering the less elemental tasks of the gig -- getting to the line more than once in a road game against an elite team and cultivating the kind of trust with teammates so that you can manufacture easy buckets. Rose and Gooden had that two-man game working early, but once the Lakers adjusted by anticipating the action earlier and more aggressively, the Bulls' offense struggled to counter with much more than long jump shots off desperate kickouts and skip passes.

What Rose seems to have, though, is the ability to improvise with purpose. It's a rare gift, even among pro ballers. The league is littered with open-court players, but how many of them make good tactical decisions on the spot -- not just in terms of how to use their body, but how to use the court?

Also a fact that has been harped on by the media lately--Derrick Rose is one of a select few (10-12) players that averaged 18 pts, 5 rebs, and 5 assts a game in his rookie year. It is early in the season, but it is still significant to note. Who are the other players in that group you ask? Among them are Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson.

Bears Grab Bag--Fire The Entire Coaching Staff Edition

I don't know how coherent or objective this little Bears analysis will be, but I'm going to go to bullet points here in an effort to break up my giant furious anger into little mini irritated points. Here goes:
  • I will do my best to start positive. Matt Forte had 64 yards on 16 carries. That is a solid day. I am assuming those numbers all came in the first half, because I have zero memory of him touching the ball in the second half. I'm not sure what about being down 17-3 at halftime signifies that a team should completely abandon the run, but hell, Ron Turner is the offensive coordinator so he must know what he's doing, right?
  • I don't even know where to begin with the defense. I'm going to try to break it down though. First thing: The Packers punted twice. Twice. I am not going to look up the Packers 3rd down conversion numbers because I would probably throw my laptop through the TV if I saw them.
  • The pass defense was actually only slightly below average this week. What a world we live in where the Bears pass defense performing at a C- level can be considered a good thing.
  • The Packers rushed for exactly 200 yards. If I could punch any 4 people in the face on the entire planet it would probably be the defensive line. (Wait, I'm forgetting the Bears coaching staff, so the d-line would be second I guess).
  • I don't want to make excuses for the Neckbeard, but he was clearly not playing at full strength. I respect that he played through the pain, but he looked terrible. His mobility was clearly effected.
  • The coaches, oh the coaches. I hate them all.
  • It's almost pointless to mention, but who are our wide receivers again? It'd be nice if they showed up.

Welcome To The Circus

In honor of the Bulls circus trip out west and how bad it always goes, it made me think of what a circus the actual Bulls really are. In honor of that, here is what the Chicago Bulls would look like if they truly were a circus troop:

Vinny Del Negro--The Ringmaster

He's kind of like a ringmaster that has no coherent offense and doesn't make clear to the members of his troop what their roles are.

Derrick Rose--The Acrobat

I'm not sure, but I think he might be able to actually fly.

Drew Gooden--The Bearded Lady

What's funny is that both pictures are gross and scary.

Joakim Noah--The Clown
No explanation necessary.

Larry Hughes--The Giant Pile of Elephant Shit

I think a real pile of elephant shit could shoot for a higher percentage than Hughes.

Ben Gordon--The Fire Eater
Is this a reference to his ability to catch fire on the offensive end or the way he gets burned on the defensive end? You decide.

Tyrus Thomas--Tightrope Walker

Because he's only exciting when he is high up in the air.

Today's Links

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Big Ten Power Rankings

1) Penn State- The Nittany Lions had a good practice session against Indiana last week. They play MSU for a chance to go to the Rose Bowl. Paterno typically prefers Florida this time of year though.

2) Ohio State- Tressel was asked about the chance of the Bucks making a BCS bowl and pretty much said that a BCS berth means nothing compared to beating Michigan. Not what the Wolverines wanted to hear.

3) Michigan State- Moving to the excessively stupid section of coach quotes, Dantonio said he will be cheering for the Buckeyes Saturday, even though the Spartans need a Michigan win to get to the Rose Bowl. Oh, Sparty.

4) Northwestern- The Wildcats are 8-3 and their defense that has been opportunistic all year and great against the run should give the Illini fits. Also, is there a more intimidating place to play than Ryan Field? Okay, but the defense is still good.

5) Iowa- The Hawkeyes have won four of five, a three point loss to Illinois being the only setback. After three straight losses, including two to start Big Ten play, few thought Iowa would have a chance to finish 8-4. And by few, I mean just Dallas Clark.

6) Wisconsin- The sconnies have also gone on a late season push, winning three of four. If only they didn't blow that game at Michigan State. Still, barring a ridiculous loss to Cal Poly, the Badgers will head to a bowl game against an inferior opponent.

7) Minnesota- Reality has hit Minnesota straight in the mouth. Not that 7-5 won't be a great turnaround, but with so many Big Ten teams becoming bowl eligible, the Gophers might need to beat Iowa to secure a bowl bid.

8) Illinois- The season for the Illini isn't a turnaround as much as it is a bend-over. A trip to Northwestern will be their last chance to become bowl eligible, but really they don't deserve it. Ron Zook plans to increase his baby intake over the winter.

9) Michigan- Just when it looked like Michigan turned a corner, the Wolverines managed to blow it in the 3rd quarter against Northwestern. There is nothing good to say about this team, it's just that there are really bad things to say about the next two.

10) Purdue- Purdue flirted with this "winning" thing for, well, a week; but the Boilers are back on track. Indiana is a dirty temptrest though, and it will try to get Purdue to return to the win column this week.

11) Indiana- Finally, it's here! Purdue vs. Indiana. If only we could throw Notre Dame into the mix and make this a battle royale for Indiana supremacy. Wait, isn't Ball State in Indiana?
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