Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Bears get it right.

The Chicago Bears website, and ESPN, is reporting that both Lovie Smith and Jerry Angelo have signed contract extensions.

No numbers on Angelo, who signed through 2013, but ESPN says Smith has agreed to a four-year, $22 million extension through 2011, keeping his scheduled salary for next season, with the raise coming in 2008.

The Bears have been accused of everything this week, from being (their track record bears this out. Hehehe bears...) cheap, to potentially (and worth asking) racist, where Lovie's contract was concerned.

Not sure if it was the public beating that accelerated this deal, but I'm happy to see it get done.

A Quest For Our Three Readers.

Foul Balls, via True Hoop, who had gotten an email from SI's Andrew Lawrence, posted a story of M.J.'s competitive, gambling cruelty visited upon Scottie Pippen.

News of his imminent financial demise hardly surprise. Rather, it calls to mind the absolute coolest Jordan story I'd ever been told -- courtesy of the AP's Jim Litke, the George Washington on my sports journalism Mt. Rushmore. That said, I take everything Jim says as gospel, this story especially. It starts with Jordan shooting around at practice at old Chicago Stadium when he looks up and notices the m&m race on the jumbotron. Curious, he asks one of the Bulls' staffers what's up and learns what he is seeing is actually a dry run-through of the night's in-game entertainment, in which the jumbotron and m&m race factor prominently. (I'm pretty sure this was before shooting t-shirts out of an air cannon captivated a nation.) Naturally, MJ wanted to know if the winner of the race was predetermined. Of course the 8-bit graphics betrayed the answer: a resounding "yes".

So later that night, Phil calls a time out and Jordan & co. repair to the bench. As he's sitting down, he looks up at the jumbotron to see the m&m race about to start. So he nudges Scottie.

MJ: "Bet you 5 grand yellow takes this."

Pip: "Bet."

I'm told this went on for years before Scottie ever got wise...

I commented, confident in my memory, that Sam Smith told this story in his book, The Jordan Rules, with Horace Grant playing the role of Baby With Candy. After an Amazon 'search inside this book' search, I can find no evidence to support my memory. Anyone else remember this story from Smith's book? Anyone have an old copy of the book? Little help here, or do I need to start tattooing stats and stories across my body, Memento-style?

(Administrator's note: I just got a return email from Sam Smith, stating that he had never written about this. Surprise! My memory sucks. I'm still convinced I've heard this story before.)

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Cubs Baseball 2007

With seven pitchers fighting for four spots, you would think the Cubs are in a great position to form a solid five. Then again, let's look at who coming February 15th by the stats of 2006.
These players include Carlos Zambrano, Angel Guzman, Sean Marshall, Wade Miller, Mark Prior, Rich Hill, Jason Marquis, and Ted Lily. Also waiting in the bullpen: Carlos Marmol, Juan Mateo, and the questionable Neal Cotts.
Carlos Zambrano is the Ace. In 2006, Big "Z" was 16-7, with an e.r.a. of 3.41. He had 33 starts and pitched 214 innings. 115 base on balls to 210 strikeouts. He gave up 162 hits, 91 runs(81 of them earned), and 20 home runs. He is our work horse. Seldom gets injured or complains of a sore arm. By the start of the season the Cubs payroll should be about 312 million dollars, after signing him to a one year deal. Holy Cow!!!!!!!!!!!!!
As of now, Ted Lily is my number two pitcher. He's really more of a three/four, but not here. In 2006 with the Blue Jays, Lily was 15-13 in 32 starts. He threw 181 innings with an e.r.a. of 4.31. 179 hits with 98 runs, 87 of them earned. His base on balls to strikeout ratio was 81-160. He gave up 28 home runs and could sky-rocket at the friendly confines.
So who are the third, fourth and fifth starters? This is what camp will determine. The next guy to pitch more than 150 innings is Jason Marquis, followed by Sean Marshall at 125 innings and then Rich Hill at 99. Prior and Miller hardly pitched, and Guzman was 0-6 in ten starts. All these guys e.r.a. was between 5 and 7.4, with Rich Hills' 4.17 being the best.
This is a mystery. Cubs gave up the most walks, but struck-out the most batters, and owned the third worst e.r.a. in the N.L. Nothing will get easier for these guys.
Right now you have to have Marquis and Marshall fight for the third spot. Rich Hill and Mark Prior will compete for the fourth spot, and Miller and Guzman get sent down to AAA, unless Guzman sits in the pen for a while, which should be unlikely.
Maybe Prior and Miller have a great spring training and we have little to worry about. Perhaps Rich Hill (who can finally locate his fastball), becomes an ace, getting to the 15 win mark. High hopes and optimism folks. That's all the Cub Fans have. This is the last year for Prior, Miller, and Marquis, if they can't stay on the field. I doubt very highly that Wade Miller is ready to pitch 150 plus innings anyway. Sean Marshall could be on his way to a trade if he becomes mediocre at best. Then the Cubs will have more time for Mateo, Marmol, and Guzman.
I'll talk about the bullpen in a later blog, probably by the weekend. There are only so many pitchers the Cubs will carry, so I expect 100% out of these guys to make the five. I see some spot starters for sure in that fifth spot. No way everybody succeeds or stays healthy.
It all starts this Thursday Cub Fans!!!!!!!!!!!!
So, right now, if I was Lou and Larry, the staff looks like this.
1. Carlos Zambrano
2. Ted Lily
3. Rich Hill
4. Jason Marquis
5. Sean Marshall.

With more certainty, I would have Prior and Miller in, replacing Marshall and Marquis, know.

GO CUBS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Our Bears, Our Super Bowl.

Last night as I was waiting tables, dreaming about the Super Bowl I would be watching today, a regular couple came in and sat down in my station. I don't have the contempt for these regulars that I might for others. They are always cheerful, polite and generous. She has a Long Island, Diet Coke back, while he has a Chardonnay. My busser, Oscar, arrives at the table first to fill water, as I approach them, Oscar, mentions that her father played for the Bears. Cool, I'll ask her about it.

"Evening folks, good to see you. Oscar tells me your father played for the Bears?"

Her husband speaks up first, his male pride swelling as he points to his chest, on his sweater is the team picture above, "This is him here, number 20."

"He played on the 1932 Championship team," I ask.

She speaks up now, "Yes."

"That's not the 73-0 game against the Redskins, was it?"

"No, but he was on that team. He played from '29 to '36."

Now, I'm a bit of a sports historian, thinking this is very cool, I say so, "Cool. What was his name?"

"Zuck Carlson."

"So, he played with Red Grange?"

"Yes, and Bronco Nagurski."

"Wow. Was Halas the coach?"

"Yes, he's there in the picture," her husband adds, pointing to a young Halas on the left of his sweater. "90 bucks a game they got paid."

"The Bear Down fight song is about the team your dad played on."


"Well, I gotta say this is very cool, you forget the history sometimes, but your dad helped build the NFL. Sorry for the cliche, but in your case, it's true."

She begins to open up to the subject, "Thanks. I have all of his medical paperwork, all his jerseys and uniforms."

"Has the city, or team ever asked for any of it? For display or anything?"

"No, the Bears records building burned down awhile ago, so I'm glad I still had it myself."

I've spent to much time at the table now, the restaurant is busy. "We'll, I'll say thank you to you, and your dad for the game tomorrow, and this round is on me."

They say thank you, and the rest of the meal is pretty uneventful.

I have no monumental insight gleaned from this conversation. I just thought, and I think I mentioned this, that it was pretty cool.

So today, I'm gonna go watch the game, have fun, enjoy myself and raise my glass to Zuck Carlson.

One of the first Bears to Bear Down, and thrill the nation with the "T" formation.

Go Bears!

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Sport's On T.V. Today.

National Coverage.
  • English Premeire League Soccer:
    • Aston Villa vs. West Ham United, (FSC, 10 a.m.)
    • Middlesbourgh vs. Arsenal, (FSC, noon)
    • Manchester City vs. Reading, (FSC, 2:15 p.m.)
  • Boxing: Champion Tomasz Adamek vs. Chad Dawson, for WBC light heavyweight championship; champion Jesus Chavez vs. Julio Diaz, for IBF lightweight championship, at Kissimmee, Fla., (Showtime, 9 p.m.)
  • College men's basketball:
    • Southern Methodist vs. Memphis, (ESPN, noon)
    • Louisville vs. Villanova, (ESPN2, noon)
    • Washington vs. Arizona, (FSN, 1:30 p.m.)
    • Indiana vs. Iowa, (ESPN, 2 p.m.)
    • Southern Illinois vs. Wichita State, (ESPN2, 2 p.m.)
    • Teams TBA, (ABC, 3:30 p.m.)
    • Ohio State vs. Michigan State, (CBS, 4 p.m.)
    • Wright State vs. Detroit, (ESPN2, 4 p.m.)
    • Samford vs. Eastern Illinois, (ESPN2, 6 p.m.)
    • Washington State vs. Arizona State, (FSN, 7:30 p.m.)
    • Hawaii vs. Nevada, (ESPN2, 8 p.m.)
    • Texas A&M vs. Kansas, (ESPN, 9 p.m.)
    • Stanford vs. California, (FSN, 9:30 p.m.)
  • College women's basketball:
    • Baylor vs. Nebraska, (FSN, 3:30 p.m.)
    • Texas vs. Kansas State, (FSN, 5:30 p.m.)
  • Golf: PGA Tour, FBR Open, third round, (NBC, 3 p.m.)
  • NBA: Chicago at Portland, (WGN, 10 p.m.)
Local Coverage.
  • Track and Field: Triathlon:Xterra Worl Championship, (WBBM, noon)
  • College men's basketball:
    • Purdue vs. Penn State, (WCIU, 11 a.m.)
    • Washington vs. Arizona, (CSNCHI, 12:30 p.m.)
    • Northwestern vs. Wisconsin, (WCIU, 1 p.m.)
  • NHL: Chicago vs. San Jose, (CSNCHI, 3 p.m.)

Friday, February 2, 2007

Sport's On T.V. Tonight.

National Coverage.

  • Boxing:
    • Heavyweights, Zuri Lawrence vs. Dominick Guinn, at Rochester, N.Y., (ESPN2, 9 p.m.)
    • Junior middleweights, James Kirkland vs. Billy Lyell; junior welterweights, Timothy Bradley vs. Michael Clark, at Santa Ynez, Calif., (Showtime, 11 p.m.)
  • Golf: PGA Tour, FBR Open, second round, at Scottsdale, Ariz., (The Golf Channel, 3 p.m.)
  • NBA:
    • New Jersey vs. Orlando, (ESPN, 8 p.m.)
    • Chicago vs Seattle, ESPN, (ESPN, 10:30 p.m.)
  • Track and field: 100th Millrose Games, at New York, (ESPN2, 7 p.m.)
Local Coverage.
  • AHL: Chicago vs. Manitoba,(3 ILL-03, 7:30 p.m.)
  • NBA:Chicago vs Seattle, (WGN, 9:30 p.m.)

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Winesburg, Ohio/San Fransisco, California

So Barry Bonds signed a one-year contract to play for the San Fransisco Giants next year. Foul Balls has a breakdown of the various clauses written into the contract to protect the Giants if Barry finds himself in jail.

I had this idea about Bonds awhile ago, and that is, he hates baseball. He hates baseball, and everyone involved in it, so much that his one goal is to become the greatest player ever, and in doing so, destroy baseball.

Imagine a kid growing up, like so many growing up in America, he gets baseball shoved down his throat. But unlike every other kid, this kid's dad is a Champion, All-Star caliber professional baseball player. Every time this kids dad misses a birthday, or misses a game the kid is playing in, or just isn't around, it's baseball's fault. So he develops a healthy dislike for the game, the same as any kid dislikes the job that takes a parent away from him.

Not only does baseball rob him of so much time with his father, the media coverage, alot of it negative, creates a suspicion and paranoia in his mind. It seems absurd to him that they should spend so much time on something he disdains, but to attack his father in print with false accusations, unacceptable. What son isn't protective of their father? He grows up considering those critics in the media to be his enemies.

As he gets older, he travels with his dad's team, from city to city. Here, he only encounters more enemies, men and women, fans, thousands of them, packing stadiums to love baseball and hate on his dad. The best only boo, the worst throw batteries and hurl racial slurs at him and his father. Dilettante's, hurting his family, because they are unable to play the game.

It is these enemies that deserve the worst.

But, instead of walking away from the game, he chooses to become the greatest the game has ever seen. He will capture their love through his greatness, all the while, hating them, and their love for the game.

Now, knocking at the door of his goal, he is a grotesque, the game he hates, hates him to. Maybe we all deserve each other, baseball, Barry Bonds and us fans. He won't destroy the game, it will go on after he retires, and he will be remembered for being one of the greatest players.

I doubt he will be loved though, which might have been all that little kid wanted.

Sport's On T.V. today.

National Coverage.

  • College men's basketball:
    • Georgetown vs, St. John's (ESPN, 7 p.m.)
    • Saint Louis vs. Saint Joseph's (ESPN2, 8:30 p.m.)
    • Duke vs. Virginia (ESPN, 9 p.m.)
    • Oregon vs. UCLA (FSN, 10:30 p.m.)
  • Golf: PGA Tour, FBR Open, first round, at Scottsdale, Ariz. (The Golf Channel, 3 p.m.)
  • High school boys basketball: Loyola (Ill.) vs. North Central (Ind.), at Indianapolis (ESPN2, 7 p.m.)
  • NBA:
    • Cleveland at Miami (TNT, 8 p.m.)
    • San Antonio at Phoenix (TNT, 10:30 p.m.)
  • Reality: Pro's vs. Joe's (Spike, 10 p.m.)
Local Coverage.
  • College men's basketball:
    • Oral Roberts vs. Valparaiso (WYIN, 7 p.m.)
    • Oregon vs. UCLA (3 ILL-03, 9:30 p.m.)
  • NHL: Chicago vs. Los Angeles (CSNCHI, 9:30 p.m.)