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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Top Ten Barack Obama Sports Related Moments

Perhaps you've noticed there's a presidential election coming up in the not too distant future.

The staff here at TTCS doesn't really pay it too much attention because frankly, that's not exactly the kind of thing we do around here. We'd rather debate who the fastest fat guy in Chicago history was or whether or not 'Mullet Night' at U.S. Cellular is the single greatest promotion of all time.

Yet, this election is different because for the first time ever, we may have a true blue, die hard Chicago sports fan sitting in the Oval Office. A frightening and exciting feeling all at the same time.

This post isn't meant as an endorsement of Mr. Barack Obama because again, that's not the kind of thing we do around here.

Instead, we're taking a look at the Top Ten Barack Obama Sports Related Moments to give you an idea of what kind of sports nut may be running the country if elected President.

10. No, not Air Force One Mr. Obama. They're Air Force Ones

Is there no greater compliment than having a pair Air Force Ones custom designed with your face emblazoned upon them? Talk about street cred, Obama is rolling in it with these kicks.

9. There's always time to shoot some stick

Back in May Obama decided to flash some of his skills on the ol' billiards table. After jumping out to a quick start, he eventually sunk the eight ball and lost the game. They decided to see who could clear the table first anyway only to see Obama lose at that too.

8. Hoopin in the White House?

Obama's first addition to the White House if elected?

A basketball hoop.

Can't wait until he invites the Presidents of the past over for a friendly pick up game. Who would you take first?

Bill Clinton or George Bush?

7. I wish I had a highlight reel like this

Obama looked silky smooth running the break back in the day. That can't be much more difficult than negotiating peace deals between hostile foreign nations can it?

Try running the triangle offense and then answer that question.

6. He bowled a what?

I once heard someone say on the radio that if you can't bowl 100 consistenly, then you're not officially a man.

Well, Obama rolled an eye-popping 37 on March 31 during a campaign stop in Pennsylvania. He said that he would have done much better if it was during Cosmic Bowl.

5. Barack "O'Bomber"

Is there any way we can start a movement to bring the leisure suit back into style?

Our friends over at Deadspin posted Obama's high school photo back in May and I have to admit, I seriously want to kick it with the Choom Gang.

4. Obama turns down a scholarship to UNC

Okay, not really.

But he laced 'em up against the mighty North Carolina Tar Heels basketball team and went toe-to-toe with 'Psycho T', a.k.a Tyler Hansbrough.

Things got really uncomfortable when Obama confused Hansbrough with Mark Madsen and asked him how it felt to play with Shaq and Kobe.


3. "Why not so serious?"

"You go to Wrigley Field, you have a beer, beautiful people up there," Obama said, according to transcripts released by ESPN. "People aren't watching the game. It's not serious. White Sox, that's baseball."
We'll stay away from the Cubs suck, Sox rule, Cubs rule, Sox suck banter for a day.

Obama decided to say this the other day and has most of Chicago all worked up over it.

Regardless if you're a Sox or Cubs fan, you have to admire a man that actually has an opinion on something and doesn't play the "I root for both teams" card.

2. He helped the White Sox win the World Series in 2005

No, he didn't actually help the Sox win.

But he certainly was there to throw out the first pitch for game 2 of the ALCS in 2005 against the Angels.

I have to stop now before I unleash a 15,000 word epic recap of that entire World Series run...deep breaths.

1. Monday Night Football

Obama made this appearance before he announced his bid for the presidential nomination. Rumors were circulating at the time that he intended to, so when he suddenly showed up before the Bears played I told everyone in the room to shut up because he was about to announce it.


This was a classic and how he kept a straight face the entire time is beyond me. Either way, it was pretty sweet.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Top ten replacements for Jay Mariotti

The resignation of the city’s most engaging sports columnist leaves Chicago searching for answers. Mainly: who’s to take his place? We here at TTCS have some ideas.

10. J Koot

From Quick Hits to hot fans, if there is one thing the Sun-Times’ sports section loves, it’s good looking people. So who better to fill Mariotti’s shoes than the mysterious J Koot, patriarch of Busted Coverage? Koot has been at the forefront of sports blog T&A for over a year. What else do you need to know?

9. Carlos Quentin

I’m fairly positive the ability to OPS .973 translates to any buissness. The only problem? With a .396 on-base percentage, Quentin is certain to clog the bases at the Sun-Times’ next company softball game.

8. Brian Urlacher

Mariotti once criticized the esteemed Bears linebacker for “acting like a yahoo” when he bypassed the local papers to give Yahoo Sports’ Mike Silver a big scoop. Though he may be entering the decline phase of his career, Urlacher is still Chicago’s biggest sports star. If he continues to avoid the Chicago press, why not give him free reign to speak his mind every day in the newspaper? Surely Urlacher’s columns would be more interesting than the standard one word answers he gives to reporters every Sunday.

7. AJ Daulerio

All Deadspin editors yearn to one day join the mainstream media. This is fact. Plus, if AJ left, there would probably be another roast, which would be totally awesome.

6. Juan Uribe

Just listen to this interview Sun-Times White Sox beat writer Joe Cowley gave to The Score’s Mike Mulligan and Brian Hanley, and try to tell me Uribe wouldn’t make a wildly entertaining columnist. Uribe should also have some time on his hands to churn out copy once Joe Crede returns from the DL.

5. Freddy Church

While growing up in the humble suburb of Minooka, Illinois, Church always dreamed of- well, never mind, I think you guys may have heard that one before. Seriously though, Church may be the only writer in the world who can stir up controversy as easily as Mariotti. That has to count for something.

4. Jason Shimberg

The Sun-Times has a few authors already on staff (Rick Telander, Neil Hayes), but to my knowledge, none are currently working on an autobiography. Jason Shimberg, proprietor of his own celebrated blogspot site, would change all that. But don’t think the Shim Doggy Dog is a one-trick pony, just check out this poem on Barack Obama. The man rhymed Obama with llama. Now that’s what I call creativity! Did we mention also has a sweet bedroom wall? Sign me up.

3. Mark DeRosa and Ryan Theriot

Behold the city's two wittiest athletes. DeRosa made a name for himself with his blog, The Pulse, which he admitted was named after a recent health scare involving his heart. Not to be outdone, while answering questions from fans, Theriot wrote that he could beat up Mike Fontenot (who couldn’t!), but the two former LSU teammates would probably get mauled by Carlos Zambrano, even in a handicap match.

2. Patrick Z. McGavin

I once heard that newspapers are written at a sixth-grade reading level. If McGavin, a columnist for Your Season, the Sun-Times’ wonderful new high school sports site, was given Mariotti’s daily slot in the paper, what would change very, very quickly. McGavin’s ability to find common ground between Whitney Young basketball and early work of Chaucer sets him apart from any other writer in the city, possibly the world. Ever wonder what Kyle Orton’s last preseason start has to do with metaphysics? Easy PZ is just the guy to help you out.

1. Dale Bowman

Wildlife in the Chicago-area is at an all-time low*. Why? Because Dale Bowman caught all of it. If Bowman can rid our lakes of musky, I’m fairly positive he can handle Ozzie Guillen.

*This may or may not be true.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Top Ten Reasons the Sox Won’t Make the Playoffs


I have done this for the Cubs and figured with the 2008 season coming to a close, the White Sox deserve the same treatment. Here are the Top Ten Reasons the Sox Won’t Make the Playoffs.


10. Rayz*

If this were any other year since the inception of the Rayz, the Sox would be a lock for the playoffs. However, the 2008 Rayz have decided to be awesome and have made this season a two bull rodeo with three riders looking on, vying for their shot at an eight second ride (I used to live in Texas).

*TTCS writer Ricky O’Donnell deserves credit for the “z” spelling of the Rayz when they officially change their name to "The Rayz" in 2020.

9. Something unexpected happens

Something crazy happens, like the Sox bus crashes on the way back to their hotel in Minnesota. Jenks’ cold beer cuts his lip as he drinks it causing him to flail his arms wildly, poking one of Floyd’s eyes out. This would be one plausible scenario in which the Sox could lose one to two major cogs in their winning machine.

8. The hot/cold offense

The Sox can score runs and lots of them. Chicago is second in the AL in runs scored this season, but have shown times that they can go cold as a team. If this happens at the wrong time, the Sox could find themselves looking from the outside in come October.

7. The ghost of Frank Chance

The player/manager of the 1908 Cubs will not let the Sox win the World Series on the 100 year anniversary of his, and the Cubs, last championship. Chance was a very aggressive man who would first bowl over AJ, spike him in the nuts and die his hair with his own blood than see the Sox win another World Series.

6. Red Sox

If the Sox do fail to hold the Central, they will be in a dogfight with the other Sox for the Wild Card (who currently have a better record than the bleached Sox). Both teams are basically equal in run differential and other fringe statistics. There is no solid way to determine who will win this battle. If this scenario comes to fruition, then the AL Wild Card, and the Sox playoff hopes, may just depend on who gets hot in the last week of the season.

5. Ozzie Guillen goes crazy

Ozzie finally looses his cool for good and goes on a murderous rampage. He starts in the clubhouse, choosing AJ as his first victim, moving onto OC and finally Swish. With the big three pains-in-his-ass out of the way, Guillen moves onto his greatest rival in any dugout, Lou Piniella.

Finding Piniella in a local diner, Guillen calmly walks up to the large Spaniard, screaming obscenities in barely comprehendible Spanglish, “I can rap better than you!” Even after thrashing multiple times with a machete, barrowed form Ugueth Urbina, Guillen’s blade cannot penetrate the large gut of Piniella. Breathing deeply from exhaustion, Guillen leaves the one-time Yankee bleeding, but alive. Guillen, now satisfied with the blood he has spilled over baseball field quarrels is ready to move onto his greatest threat; Jay Mariotti.

The fiery Venezuelan finds the loudmouth Mariotti asleep in his upscale Chicago condo. He is in the arms of young Filipino man. Guillen makes quick work of the younger Asian man, expertly cutting his throat. Blood soaks the purple silk sheets. Mariotti screams quite girlishly realizing his impending doom….You get the point.

4. Pitching

The Sox ERA has risen over a point in the second half of the season. As #8 has shown, this is a scary thought for a team that has binged and purged all season long on offense. If the pitching continues its upward trend, the Sox will struggle during times when the offense cools off.

3. Can’t beat good teams

The Sox have dominated terrible teams (as they should), yet they cannot beat anybody good. This season they have gone 18-25 against teams over .500 in the AL. If this trend continues the Sox will not be able to hold onto the Central because of reason #1.

2. Twins

Chicago has a 42 run lead over the Twins in run differential, yet the Twins are keeping pace with the Sox. Year after year Minnesota plays over their heads, never, ever, ever going away. If the Twins keep playing at the level they are right now they will overtake the Sox as they play only 10 more games against teams over .500.

1. Schedule

Sorry Sox fans, but the Sox only play the Royals three more times. Chicago has had a pretty lame schedule to this point of the season and they have taken advantage of it. However, starting today the Sox will be playing 17 games against teams over .500, verse only 14 games against teams under the mediocre line. As #3 has shown, the Sox do not play well against good teams and are in serious threat of dropping out of the playoffs.

Top Ten Bears Preseason Performers

While I was inspecting the Bears stats of the last three preseason games, I could only come to one conclusion; this is going to be a long season. Seriously, theses stats are not flattering. Anyway, here are the top performers of the last three games.

10. Corey Graham

While he will be buried down on the depth chart, his pick for a touchdown is the lone defensive score of the preseason. Graham also has a pretty high kick return ranking in Madden in case Hester goes down in your franchise mode.

9. Mark Bradley

Bradley will be battling for the final receiver spot with old man Booker, with Marty most likely on his way out. But he has shown glimpses that make that back end of the receiving core, well, more respectable.

8. Kevin Jones

Thank god he is healthy because Forte has not looked like the reliable back we all thought he was. While KJ does only have three carries in one game, the thirty yards he racked up seemed to be more impressive than anything Forte has done thus far.

7. Garrett Wolfe

The former NIU standout has looked like the ’07 first day draft pick. On 14 carries, he has 5.8 yards/carry. Hopefully he could be some sort of lightning in the backfield.

6. Caleb Hanie

He impressed many in the preseason opener against Kansas City. He has thrown three touchdowns and only one pick and while 53% is not spectacular, the unsigned rookie has looked better than Rex.

5. Charles Tillman

I have not been a big Peanut fan, ever since he slipped twice while being in single coverage on Steve Smith three years ago. But in limited time he has 10 tackles and an interception. He will need to be the top corner everybody claims he is if the Bears pass defense wants to succeed.

4. Kellen Davis

The rookie tight end has caught four balls; one for a touchdown and three for first downs. He will be a good replacement for an aging Desmond Clark.

3. PJ Pope

To be honest, I didn’t know anything about him until a few weeks ago. But he has rushed the ball 14 times for 4.7 yards/carry. Not to mention he has caught five passes for another 40 yards. The back situation just seems like a little mess. I feel any back who makes the squad has a chance of playing a large roll in the running game.

2. Kyle Orton

His numbers are not spectacular but he is the quarterback, and it seems like he has come a long way (quarterback-wise). He has completed over 60% of his passes and has two touchdowns. What is most important is the fact that he threw zero interceptions. People might actually want to drink with him now.

1. Rashied Davis

Davis has quasi-emerged as the number one. Rashied has not been that bad of a WR in the past, he is just given very few opportunities. His two touchdowns could make him the center of attention for opposing defensive coordinators. I hope he is ready to go against top corners every week, even though it's not like he has big shoes to fill. (cough cough) Berrian.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Top Ten Worst Jerry Angelo Draft Picks

If you've been a Bears fan long enough, watching first round pick OT Chris Williams go down with an injury after only 14 minutes of practice wasn't too much of a surprise.

You see, here in Chicago we have a GM that swings and misses on draft picks about as badly as Sammy Sosa swinging at a chest high fastball after he kicked the juice.

Jerry Angelo has made some solid picks in his time with the Bears, there's no denying that. But for every good pick there's three "what the hell was he thinking" picks that will most likely end up costing him his job in the next few years.

Here's the Top Ten Worst Jerry Angelo Draft Picks for your viewing pleasure.

10. 2004 - Leon Joe - LB
University of Maryland
4th Round, 112th overall pick

Here's a fun little stat. Leon Joe has a grand total of 43 career tackles since being drafted by the Bears. He didn't do half bad playing on the Bears special teams unit, racking up 28 tackles in 2005. But the guy Angelo tabbed as the future of the LB core - or at least a solid backup - has bounced around the league and probably won't be around too much longer.

And Angelo should of known that you never trust a guy with two first names.

9. 2003 - Tron Lafavor - DT
University of Florida
5th round, 171th overall pick

A guy that Sports Illustrated projected to be an undrafted free agent in 2003 just looked too good for Angelo to pass up in the fifth round.

Career tackles: 1

Talk about getting value late in the draft, Angelo never even had to pay this guy.

8. 2002 - Roosevelt Williams - CB
Tuskegee University
3rd round, 72nd overall pick

Part of me feels like Angelo phoned in this entire draft from a beach somewhere knowing that it probably wouldn't even make that much of a difference if he was in the 'war room'.

Williams has played 20 games in his entire career and hasn't stepped onto an NFL field since 2003.

Total tackles: 27

The first round pick in 2002 for the Bears? Marc Colombo. The only reason why he isn't on this list is because he was only a bust for the Bears and a rock for the Cowboys.

7. 2007 - Dan Bazuin - DE
Central Michigan University
2nd round, 62nd overall

How bad has Bazuin been?

In only his second year, this second round bust has been injured from day one and is in danger of being cut in the next couple weeks.

Angelo must have just been trying to clear some cap space for that big free agent wide receiver signing he had planned for 2008.


6. 2006 - Dusty Dvoracek - DT
University of Oklahoma
3rd round, 73rd overall

I know what you're thinking but realistically I just don't care.

I'm sick and tired of hearing about how much of a 'wild man' Dvoracek looks like in practice and how dominant he'll be playing next to Tommie Harris.

The only thing I've seen is his name on the injury report.

Until he actually plays for more than a quarter before coming down with a season ending injury, he's a bust.

5. 2005 - Mark Bradley - WR
University of Oklahoma
2nd round, 39th overall

Do you remember when Lovie Smith said Mark Bradley would become the number one wide receiver for the Bears this year?


I'll be the first to admit that I've been a believer in Bradley. But then again, I believed in Santa Claus for the first few chapters of my life and you know what?

I eventually learned he was a fake (Sorry to spoil that for you Ricky. You'll still get presents, don't worry).

But reality is a far more frightening picture with Marty Booker and Brandon Lloyd as the potential number one receiver for the Bears.

4. 2001 - David Terrell - WR
University of Michigan
1st round, 8th overall

I'll let my colleague Phil Barnes sum this pick up for me. This is from his epic Top Ten Chicago Draft Busts list:

"This Terrell reminds us a lot of another Terrell we know. Well except that the other one is a better smack-talker AND could actually play football. This former Wolverine great did a whole lot of nothing despite supposedly being a big-time draft pick. In reality however, this guy just had a big-time ego."


3. 2003 - Rex Grossman - QB
1st round, 22nd overall

Few GM's could ever claim to have messed up the quarterback position for a team worse than Jerry Angelo.

We've wasted five years waiting for Grossman. And now, we've got Kyle Orton to take his place.

There's a very good chance he'll be on this list next year.

2. 2003 - Michael Haynes - DE
Penn State
First round, 14th overall

I'll admit that Angelo has proven to be a very solid talent evaluator on the defensive side of the ball.

But he missed in such a big way with Michael Haynes that it simply cannot be forgiven.

Haynes never started a game for the Bears, tallied a measly 5.5 sacks and was cut for good in 2006.

1. 2005 - Cedric Benson - RB
1st round, 4th overall

How telling is it that Benson hasn't even worked out for another team since the Bears finally cut him?

I love it.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Top Ten reasons why NCAA football is better than the NFL

The NFL has taken over as “America’s sport” but that does not mean it is better. For me, college football will always take the cake as the number one thing to watch on fall weekends (after baseball is over, of course). Here are the Top Ten reasons why.

10. Games are played on Saturday

I can’t express the brilliance of a Saturday football game. You wake up between 8-10am, drink at your dorm or house or whatever and then head on over to the tailgate at about 11. Drink some more and then go to the game to watch your boys take a solid 30-point lead against Buffalo going into half time. This is the opportune time to sneak off and catch a few hours of drunken slumber before you rise at 8pm to start it all over again. This time the game is the bar and half time is midnight. Unlike the tailgate, you leave with a girl on your left arm. This is what it was like at Miami (OH) where I attended “school.” Well, that is until Big Ben left and football became as relevant as women’s ping-pong.

You can’t do this on Sunday. It is God’s day, the day of rest after a long-ass weekend. You may be able to drink for a bit, but then the notion of work or early morning class starts to become way to real and your day fades as soon as the clock hits zero at the end of the fourth quarter. Just can’t compare.

9. My next-door neighbor can throw for like 4,000 yards and 30 TDs

The QB for Missouri, what’s his name, the nose picker, yes that’s it, Chase “two first names” Daniel. This guy is like 5-9 and 112 pounds. There is no possible way he can do anything in the NFL. Yet, in college he is the shit. If you never saw him on TV and walked by him on the street, you would think he was your average bus boy or cock monkey. You would never guess he threw for 33 TDs last season. That is what is great. You’re next door neighbor could be a National Champion, or at least a MAC champ.

8. The freshman class

College football is so based on talent it ridiculous. Yes, certain systems work better than others and level the playing field, but if a coach has a good or bad recruiting class or two, you can see the program elevated to new heights or lowered to new lows (Kansas and Notre Dame). Each year brings new hope and inevitable failure based on the type of talent you recruit.

7. No Chris Berman*

Besides his magical pick up lines, Berman has pretty much used up all the 15-years of fame allotted to any ESPN “talent”. His nicknames were cheeky and funny ten years ago, but have become dull and tiresome. He just makes my NFL viewing that much more painful.

*Thanks to Wheeler for thinking of this then ditching me at the bar. You're the best, brah.

6. Anything goes on offense

Maybe its because I am a Bears fan and have to watch the dullest offense since the inception of the forward pass, but college football’s varying offensive schemes are superior to the NFL's. The spread, the option, that thing they call an offense in Miami (FL), anything goes and they pretty much all work (besides that thing in Miami (FL)). It’s kind of like playing backyard football with your buddies, but WAY sweeter. The varying offenses level the playing field and make college games extremely fun and exciting to watch.

5. The anti-NBA

Unlike the NBA, and sometimes the NFL, players don’t take plays off (I’m looking at you Randy Moss and the entire NBA on defense). The college football game is played with such passion and with a balls-out mentality, even if they posses no talent. They actually CARE about the outcome of the game, at least most of them. True, some view college as a stepping-stone to the NFL, but the vast majority play because they love it.

4. Tradition, or something

Do you really care about the Buccaneers? They weren’t even relevant to the NFL until Jon “Chucky” Gruden was TRADED to them. The only tradition they had until 2003, were ugly cream uniforms. College football is drenched in tradition. Michigan taught Notre Dame football and now they hate each other. Harvard and Princeton used to rock at football – each has four national championships. You don’t get that kind of history with the NFL. It’s just not there. I mean there has to be a reason why Alabama thinks they should win, right?

3. Pure unadultered hate

Can anything bring out complete retarded rage like college football can? I think not. College football fans hate each other with the fire of a thousands suns, simply because of the colors on their shirts. Have you ever met anyone from Ohio? They are the most irrational, incompetent, redneck, ass clowns I have ever met, and yet they have the gall to hate anyone from Michigan. I have cousins from Michigan; they are the nicest people ever, like to the point of annoyance nice – basically Canadians.

2. Tailgating

As I mentioned in #10, tailgating is a major part of a college football Saturday. NFL tailgates are now basically banned. This means Saturdays remain supreme. College tailgates don’t just equal food and beer, like NFL tailgates did. It can mean a variety of things, from 8am Beirut tournaments to a random game of “Thunder”. The creativity of college tailgates is unequaled to any professional ‘gate of the like. When drinking takes precedent to the actual game, like at Indiana (where officers like to arrest you), then you know the tailgate is the shizzy.

1. Coeds

If you have ever been to an NFL game you know that the only fine tail is on the sidelines reporting. It seems that the only women there are the ones that are sick of sitting at home by themselves on Sunday while their fat, drunk hubbies go to the game. So, in an effort to become relevant during the winter months, these wives convince their worse half that they “care” about the outcome of the game, forcing the man to give into her demands, bringing her to the game in fear of loosing sexual pleasure, ever.

Now this is not the case in college. Young girls wear as little as possible to flaunt their god-given-gifts to possibly get a chance to date the next future NFL bust. They show their support of their team with school colors, making sure their wardrobe barely covers the areola region, even during the hardest of cheering. God Bless those four glorious years. Why did I graduate on time?

Top ten most obscure Bears starting quarterbacks since 1992

Since Brett Favre took over as the Packers starting quarterback in 1992, the Bears have trotted out some of the most inept quarterbacks in NFL history. As Favre begins the final chapter of his career in New York, Kyle Orton begins the next chapter of his as the Bears Week 1 starter against the Colts on September 7. Here is a look at the ten most obscure QBs in Bears history, a list Orton hopes to avoid five years from now.

10 Steve Walsh

Walsh enjoyed possibly the best career of any QB on this list. He played in the NFL for ten seasons, and finished 8-3 as the Bears starter in 1994.

9 Jonathan Quinn

Quinn will forever be linked with arguably the worst offensive coordinator in Bears history, Terry Shea. Shea saw enough in Quinn as a backup up in Kansas City to urge the Bears to sign the former third round pick as a free agent in 2004. After making three horrendous starts with the Bears that season, finishing 0-3, of course, fans saw enough to know he was one of the worst quarterbacks to ever put on a Bears jersey.

8 Craig Krenzel

How bad was Krenzel’s career as a Bear? The only thing I remember about him was that he majored in molecular biology at Ohio State.

7 Shane Matthews

Matthews arm was so notoriously weak, that the Bears once used receiver Marty Booker to throw the final Hail Mary of a game because Matthews couldn’t reach the end zone.

6 Moses Moreno

Who could ever forget the pride and joy of Colorado State? Oh yeah, everybody.

5 Will Furrer

Furrer shares something with a lot of the quarterbacks on this list: he was a mid-round draft pick who was pressed to start in the NFL before he was ready. After playing in two games with the Bears as a rookie in 1992, and starting one, Furrer finished with a 36% completion rate, zero touchdowns and three interceptions.

4 Peter Tom Willis

Willis may be the best college quarterback on this list, leading Florida State to a top three national ranking in 1989. His Bears career wasn’t as successful though, as he finished with six touchdowns and 15 interceptions in four seasons with the team.

3 Chad Hutchinson

Hutchinson’s Bears career reached his pinnacle in 2004 when he lead the Bears to a late season win over the Vikings. He would never win another game in the NFL.

2 Steve Stenstrom

Something pathetic: Stenstrom’s four touchdown, six interception output as a Bears starter for seven games in 1998 is one of the most impressive tenures of anyone on this list.

1 Henry Burris

If memory serves, the only game Burris started as a Bear was the first game the Tampa Bay Buccaneers ever won in cold weather, 26 years after the franchise made its debut.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Top Ten Most Important Remaining Cubs-Sox Series

There's something in the air right now floating around Chicago that hasn't ever existed before.

For instance, the Chicago Bears are gearing up for their 2008 campaign and yet, it doesn't really seem as though people are paying the normal attention to it.

That something is the early stages of a massive infection of playoff fever. Cubs fans are starting to catch it, and so too are the White Sox fans. It's spreading day by day and the only thing that can stop it is if either team fails to qualify for the post season classic.

All that remains is 45 days after today is through. And in that time, both squads have incredibly daunting schedules that are made up of a few series capable of turning this last month or so into a disaster.

So without further ado, here are the Top Ten Most Important Remaining Cubs-Sox Series.

We'll start with the Sox.

5. Tampa Bay Rays
U.S. Cellular Field
August 22, 23, 24

Next weekend the Sox square off against the most surprising team in baseball this year in the Rays. They've been solid from day one of the season, but injuries to rookie sensation Evan Longoria and stud left fielder Carl Crawford have people wondering if they can fend off the reigning World Series Champion Boston Red Sox.

More importantly, the Minnesota Twins travel to Los Angeles to face off against the Angles (75-43) - the best team in baseball. If the Sox can take two of three in this series there is a very good chance they could have a game or two lead on the Twinkies by the end of the weekend.

4. Boston Red Sox
Fenway Park
August 29, 30, 31

There is one stat that absolutely frightens me as a White Sox fan in this series, and that's Boston's record at home.

41 wins
16 losses

With numbers like that it doesn't seem as if the pale hose have a chance in hell at taking this series. Pitching will be paramount in this matchup and the Sox of the blanco variety will need to step up big time.

3. Los Angeles Angels
U.S. Cellular Field
September 5, 6, 7

The aforementioned Angels have transformed into an absolute juggernaut after acquiring switch-hitting first baseman Mark Texiera from the Braves a couple weeks ago. They have without a doubt the best closer in baseball (Francisco Rodriguez, 46 saves) and an extremely solid starting rotation.

This could be the litmus test Sox fans need to know if the 'good guys' are playoff ready. If you're thinking the Sox get a sweep here, head directly to a psychiatrist because you are delusional. Taking two would be a huge accomplishment against a team as tough as the Angels.

2. New York Yankees
Yankee Stadium
September 15, 16, 17, 18

Anytime there is a four game series on the schedule this late into the season, things can get mighty interesting. Especially if said four game series is against the New York Yankees in Yankee Stadium.

The Yankees aren't very good, mediocre at best with the wide variety of injuries that have plagued them in recent months. But they're still a dangerous team and the Sox need to do some serious damage because the Twins will be playing the lowly Indians at the same time.

Indians fans know their team waved the white flag months ago and it's no surprise this team won't have much to play for down the stretch.

The Sox need to either split, or take three of four to keep the lead, or keep pace with Minnesota.

1. Minnesota Twins
September 23, 24, 25

And it all comes down to this.

The second to last series of the season for both teams very well may mean the difference between an AL Central crown or an early vacation.

If these two teams keep up the same pace they've shown the past couple weeks, only a single game may separate them in the standings making this series so crucial.

What hurts the Sox is the fact the series will be played in the 'Death'dome in Minnesota. The Twins are the only team that have figured out how to play in that miserable excuse for a baseball stadium and the Sox have definitely experienced their fair share of struggles up North.

Boom or bust. Success or failure. Win or lose.

This one will decide everything.

And now the Cubs.

5. Florida Marlins
Dolphin Stadium
August 15, 16, 17

The young and talented Marlins have had the Cubs number in recent years. Last year the Cubs went 0-6 against the Marlins, and split a four game set against them back in July.

And surprisingly the Marlins actually have a little life in the NL East, sitting only two games behind the division leading Phillies, and 1.5 games behind the second place Mets. This team is comprised of a bunch of fearless talents and the Cubs need to strike down that confidence early to keep their winning ways intact.

4. Philadelphia Phillies
Wrigley Field
August 28, 29, 30, 31

The Cubs are a sparkling 45-17 when playing at the 'Friendly Confines' and they'll need every advantage they can get against the Phillies.

Pound for pound, the Phillies have just as much star power up and down their lineup as the Cubs do.

Cole Hamels. Ryan Howard. Chase Utley. Jimmy Rollins.

If the Cubs can fend off the stellar pitching of Hamels, they can definitely get to this Phillies rotation. During this four game set, the Brew-Crew gets a day off on the 28th and then a three game series against the recently depleted Pittsburgh Pirates.

Very important series indeed.

3. Milwaukee Brewers
Wrigley Field
September 16, 17, 18

The Brewers are going to be out for some serious revenge after getting embarassed and completely outplayed on their home field at the end of July.

I personally tend to pick the team that has a chip on its shoulder, but after watching that four game series in which the Cubs absolutely dominated, part of me believes the Cubbies may have the mental edge in this matchup.

If the Cubs can make a statement in this series and take two or sweep the Brewers, it would put them in prime position to coast to an NL Central title.

2. New York Mets
Shea Stadium
September 22, 23, 24, 25

The second of two, four-game series against the class of the NL East, the Mets present an interesting challenge to the Cubs.

No doubt the Mets will be fighting for their playoff lives just as the Cubs may be and the fact this series will be played in the Big Apple could pay big dividends for the New Yorkers. The Cubs took two from the Mets in late April behind strong performances from Carlos Zambrano and Ted Lilly.

The Mets lineup is one that can score in bunches at any given time. Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes, David Wright and Carlos Delgado provide enough pop to power this Mets offense and certainly keep many pitchers up late at night.

While the Cubs are traveling to New York, the Brewers again get a day off on the 22nd and then play the Pirates. This series is the last for both the Cubs and Brewers before they face one another in the finale of the season.

Which brings us to...

1. Milwaukee Brewers
Miller Park
September 26, 27, 28

Baseball rarely gets better than this.

Two outstanding baseball teams battling for a ticket to the playoffs. Actually, both of these teams will most likely make the playoffs, one of them being a Wild Card.

But it doesn't remove the fact that this may set up to be a series to remember for both ball clubs and can provide added momentum heading into the playoffs.

Either way it's going to be fun to watch and if you can't find something to enjoy about this series, regardless of what team you root for, I'm sorry to tell you that you my friend, are not a baseball fan.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Top ten things to watch for in the Bears second preseason game

10 Greg Olsen

Did anyone else find it a tad concerning that Orton never seemed to look Olsen’s way in game one? Of course it’s only the preseason, but Olsen should be a big part of the Bears offensive once the regular season starts. They may as well get him comfortable now. There is no reason Olsen shouldn’t be the leading pass catcher on this team. All the Bears have to do is throw it to him. In game two, let’s at least hope Olsen gets some passes thrown in his direction.

9 Anthony Adams and Marcus Harrison at D tackle

Everyone loves Dusty Dvoracek. He’s scary and awesome. But it would be foolish for the Bears to count on him this season after considering he has played in only one game ever. Tommie Harris is going to need some help in the middle of the defensive line, so the focus turns to Anthony Adams and rookie Marcus Harrison. Adams played well in the first preseason game, recording a sack, and Harrison showed some flashes of why scouts evaluated him as a first round talent. These two guys need to continue to play well throughout the season.

8 Injuries

Coming out of the preseason injury free is the most important part of these four worthless games. The Bears were relatively unscathed in game one. Hopefully that will continue.

7 Garrett Wolfe

The most impressive player on the field for the Bears in their first preseason game was Wolfe. The Bears offense is in desperate need of big play weapons, and if Wolfe continues to develop in the preseason, the Bears will certainly utilize him when the games start to count.

6 Where’s Tait?

The Sun-Times Mike Mulligan urged the Bears to move Tait back to the left side of the line immediately, and it’s hard to disagree. Left tackle is one of the most important positions in football, and though it would appear Tait would be more comfortable on the right side, the Bears don’t really have a choice.

5 Caleb Hanie!

I would like to remind the peanut gallery that Kyle Orton also tore it up against third stringers as a rookie in the preseason. Never the less, Hanie’s performance was impressive. If he keeps it up, the Bears will be forced to carry three quarterbacks on their roster. Previous reports stated they would prefer have Hanie on the practice squad and go with only Rex and Kyle.

4 Can Haas do enough to make the team?

Mike Haas needs to be on this team. He tore up training camp and preseason last year, and had a strong showing in his first preseason game this year. The Bears probably have the worst set of pass catchers in the NFL. There is no reason why Haas should be cut again this year if he continues to produce.

3 How will line hold up?

Maybe the most encouraging sign in the Bears first preseason game was the way the starting offensive line protected Kyle Orton. Left tackle isn’t the only question mark in this group, either. The only way the Bears can compete this season is if the offensive line gels, and the preseason is a wonderful time for that to happen.

2 Big game for Rex

As silly as it may sound, Saturday’s preseason game against the Seahawks could be one of the biggest of Grossman’s career. It appears Kyle Orton is the front runner in the world’s least exciting QB derby since Shane Matthews and Jim Miller slugged it out years ago. I thought Rex played well against Kansas City. He’ll need to be even better if he wants to start September 7 against the Colts.

1 How will the Bears D look in the first quarter?

The Bears are counting on their defense to return to the form they showed in 2006. If not, this year could get ugly quickly. The first unit didn’t look good against a poor Chiefs O in the first game. Even though it’s only the preseason, they need to be better on Saturday.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Top Ten Baseball Fallacies


There are a lot of things that people believe about baseball that are flat out not true. Here are the Top Ten. Basically this is my ode to FJM.

10. Derek Jeter is a good shortstop

This really isn’t news to anyone who actually follows baseball, but here we go. I know math is for nerds and nerds have to wear thick glasses and don’t know how to talk to girls and all that jazz, but two of these nerdy-nerds came up with mathematical equations to determine quality defenders. Defensive ability is the hardest thing in baseball to determine because errors are subjective and range can be difficult to judge because, once again, it is based on a human judgment. So these guys decided to develop some formulas to better understand who is good and bad. And to the chagrin of the entire city of New York -- Derek Jeter ranked at the bottom from 2002-2005. Guess who ranked second during that span? Alex Rodriguez. Mike Celizic’s head just blew off.

9. Baseball Tonight makes any sense

Watch it once, no LISTEN to what comes out of these people’s mouths. I feel so bad for Karl Ravech. He tries to keep things together, but how can he with what he’s surrounded by?

Kruk literally predicted Randy Johnson to win 30 games when he was a Yankee. Fine. But then he stuck by it even though Randy mathematically had no shot in hell (24 starts left, sitting at a record of 4-3 with a 3.94 ERA [May, 21 2005]). 24 + 4 = 28 not 30. He was probably just being lazy and didn’t want to do actual work to figure out if it was even possible, but seriously? 30 wins? That hasn't happened since 1968. But I'm sure he knew that.

EY sounds like a less retarded Emmitt Smith and Steve Phillips literally believes in six tools. Apparently, position players are supposed to be able to pitch awesome as well in order to be considered a Steve Phillips’ SIX TOOL PLAYER. For those of you out there who don't know what the five tools (for normal people, like MLB scouts) are: hit for average, hit for power, run, throw and catch (fielding). Oh, he’s orange too.

8. Dusty Baker knows something about baseball

I have always contended that Dusty would be a terrific assistant or bench coach-type guy. He seems to keep his players loose and in good spirits, which is very important for the fragile psyches of professional athletes. However, he is quite the opposite for actual baseball insight or intelligent thought. He literally hates people who get on-base. He would prefer guys who “[drive] in runs and [score] runs.” Besides the obvious, that you can’t do either of those things without being on base, he continued to say that those jackasses who get on base are only “clogging up the bases.” Or in other words, those potential runs for someone to potentially drive in are stupid-faces and should leave Dusty alone.

Beyond this he once batted out of order here in Chicago and then did it again this year in Cinci. He also tried to bunt with Adam Dunn, the MLB leader in home runs, who, after looking retarded bunting, promptly hit a three-run walk-off bomb. Furthermore, I personally witnessed him leave in Paul Bako, a lefty to face a lefty pitcher, then the next half inning bring in Joe Girardi, a righty, to catch. WTF??????

How is he running a MLB team? Meh.

7. “Moneyball” is strictly about getting on-base a bunch

This book has been misinterpreted so badly it is sick. There are so many haters of “Moneyball” because they don’t understand it. This book was about how a small market team can survive in a league where there is no cap with teams spending over 200 million. So, in order to compete they had to find talents that other teams undervalued, therefore making these players cheap on the market. In those days it was guys that got on base a lot and hit home runs. Teams did not take the time to do the proper research on the difference between college players and high school kids. Well, now other teams have done the research and these factors are no longer undervalued, hence the large tendency to draft college kids this year. Now the smaller market teams must find new ways to find value in the market.

Note to hokey, hackneyed sports writers: "Moneyball" is not about ruining the mystic of baseball, but to better understand players abilities using statistical data.

6. Just because you are Ricky O’Donnell (short, paper-thin, white, gritty-as-balls-after-camping) and play baseball professionally, does NOT make you good at baseball.

Sportswriters tend to disagree with this. If you don’t believe me read this, this and this. Those same players have career OPS+’s of 88, 90 and 94 respectively (100 is league average). Oh, you can also throw in Aarond Rowand if you’d like for the reason I mentioned here (just keep scrolling).

5. Adam Dunn is bad at baseball

This is kind of connected to #6 and #7. The people that love the #6-ers don’t like Dunn because they don’t understand what numbers tell us about a player. They see a slow, white country-boy that strikes out a lot and has a bad average. What they don’t get is that strikeouts are just slightly worse than making a “normal” out. They don’t see the fact that he gets on-base at a career .380 clip, which is about 50 points higher than league average. What they don’t see is that he is about to clip 40 home runs for the fifth straight year. What they don’t see is a career OPS+ of 130. He is an offensive force, yet people are too lazy or stupid to figure out what it means to be a good offensive player. Either way, he gets a bad rap for no legitimate reason.

4. Using All-Star games as criterion for HoF induction

Let’s keep this simple by using this formula: # in increasing order) Fact, i.e. example of why this is stupid. OK, READY? GO: 1) Fans vote the starters, i.e. Kosuke Fukudome 2) Players vote in subs, i.e. Joe Crede 3) Previous years world series manager’s choose pitchers and bench players, i.e. The 2006 AL team.

3. Gold gloves are meaningful

Refer to #10. JETER HAS THREE!!! Plus, they are voted on by coaches and managers who may see teams about 20 times at most a year.

2. The All-Star Game deciding home field advantage for the World Series is good

Why don’t we just flip a coin? This is such crap. Who cares what league has the better “all-stars”? As we have agreed upon in #4, each all-star team is decided by the wrong, biased people that tend to choose lesser deserving players based on team loyalties. So, how could these relatively arbitrary teams decide who has home field advantage for the most important event in sports? It makes no sense. Bud Selig made a bad event (the 2002 all-star game) into the something even worse. Lame.

1. Sports writers are the most qualified to vote on anything

Most MVP and HoF voters are beat writers or columnists for local newspapers. This means they follow ONE team or ONE city. How can they really be objective enough or have the time (I don’t blame them) to make these decisions. Maybe they go on word of mouth like this voter. Many tend to vote for the best story, the “grinder-est” of players or ignore certain aspects of the game, like position or even the dreaded VORP. It seems there must be more qualified people who are less vested in personal relationships (lets remember they have to work with these players for access) and understand the varying teams and statistical methods used to define what a “good” baseball player is.

Top Ten Chicago Athletes in Beijing

There are a few dozen Illinois natives in the large group of Americans competing in the Beijing Olympics this month. Below are arguably the ten best.

10. Brittany Riley- Hammer Throw
Riley is a current World record holder in the weight throw, which is described as an indoor version of the hammer. This is very impressive considering she is only 21. She may not be an impact at these games, look for her a future medalist.

9. Christine Manguson- Swimming
Not much cool information in any of her bios, but I did watch the former Tinley Park resident qualify for the second round of the 100 butterfly on Saturday. That's more than I'll ever do. Enough said, put her on the list.

8. Christina Loukas- Diving
Diving is absolutely foreign to me. But Wrigleyville, bars and the Cubs are not. In her bio they go into great depths explaining how her family owns Wrigleyville rooftops. So by default, she is on the list. It also says something about her winning Olympic Trials but I was too infatuated with the whole Cubs theme to really read on. Our nightlife expert Freddy will have a full in-depth story by Friday.


7. Matt Grevers- Swimming
A former Lake Forest resident, Grevers has a legitimate shot at two medals in Beijing. While he probably will not overtake fellow American Aaron Peirsol, silver is not out of reach. He is also on the 4x100 freestyle relay team with Michael Phelps. Being the typical American I am who instantly becomes an expert on anything Olympics, anything Phelps enters he wins. Therefore Grevers will be a winner also.

6. Cappie Pondexter- Women’s Basketball
OK, I am not going to lie, I did not know who Cappie was until I saw the WNBA commercial where I was told that according to Alisha Keys, she was a “Super Woman.” I probably should read up on WNBA (I won’t) because she truly is one of the current greats. The former Marshall Commando won a state title in 1998 and was the first two-year Miss Basketball in 2000 and ’01. She also won a WNBA MVP. I feel ignorant.

5. Brian McBride- Men’s Soccer
The Arlington Heights native came out of international retirement to play in will now his last National Team appearance. His goal against Japan was the sole tally of the game and was a huge push to get the US into the second round.

4. Tom Hoff- Men’s Volleyball
Hoff captains a much-improved men’s volleyball squad. While the team may be on the outside-looking-in when it comes to earning a medal, the three-time Olympian’s leadership could prove otherwise.

3. Brad Guzan- Men’s Soccer
Guzan hopes to lead the men’s team to just their second second-round appearance in over 50 years of Olympic soccer. The U-23 starting goalie has looked impressive thus far, blanking Japan 1-0 and settling for a 2-2 draw against the Dutch. Behind Tim Howard, Guzan is maybe the U.S.’s best goalie. The Providence Catholic grad is a former classmate of our very own Ricky O’Donnell also.

2. Candace Parker- Women’s Basketball
While the women’s international has not quite caught up to what the men’s game is, (not at all actually) the Naperville Central grad is probably the best female baller in the World right now, and could arguably go down as the greatest of all-time.

1. Dwyane Wade- Men’s Basketball
The obvious choice for top spot on the list, D-Wade is expected to be the top player off the bench for the “Redeem Team.” An impressive win against a surprisingly decent China team was a good way to start off the games.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Top Ten Most Overrated Chicago Athletes


Making this list doesn’t mean you’re a bad player. In fact, all ten of these guys are some of the top performers on their respective teams. A player falls in the overrated category when his performance doesn’t come close to equaling the hype they get from fans and media. Here are my top 10 current Chicago athletes that don’t do as much as they get credit for.

10. Lance Briggs

Despite his three consecutive Pro Bowls, Briggs is more a product of playing next to Brian Urlacher and even more importantly, playing in the cover-2 defense. There’s a reason the market wasn’t very big for him this off-season, and why he had to settle for basically the same deal from the Bears that he turned down two years ago. In five seasons, Briggs has only 5.5 sacks and six interceptions, both totals barely eclipsing Ricky Manning’s Jr.’s last two years with the team. Still, resigning him over Bernard Berrian was the right call, because this defense just isn’t the same without number 55.

9. Derrick Lee

While I’m writing this, Lee has just grounded into another double play. After hitting 46 homers in 2005, Lee has only 46 total since. He’s still batting right around .300, but it’s a quiet .300, and his clutch hitting has disappeared completely. Some people might say Lee’s underrated due to the great crop of first basemen in the National League, but ask yourself this; should Lee be a number three hitter on a team that has World Series aspirations? Probably not. Enjoy him why you can, because this might be one of his last decent years. At least he turned out a lot better than Heep Sop Choi.

8. Kirk Hinrich

Not only did his scoring average drop more than five points this season, but his defense took an even bigger hit. Back in October of 2006, the five year 50 million dollar deal that Hinrich signed looked like a bargain. Now, the Bulls desperately want to get rid of him. Two things are pretty obvious with Hinrich: he’s lost confidence in his game, and he lacks the quickness to stay with other point guards. Plus, his jump shot is very inconsistent.

7. Kerry Wood

Other than that 20 strikeout game his rookie year, and the Game 5 masterpiece against the Braves in the 2003 NLDS, what has Wood ever done in Chicago to merit so much praise? No wonder Wood finished second out of all starting pitchers in Jayson Stark’s book “The Stark Truth: The Most Overrated and Underrated Players in Baseball History.” As a closer this year, Wood has been just okay, not lights out like everyone seems to think. For his career, the most games he’s won in a season has been 14, which is only four less than the number of trips he’s made to the D.L.

6. Jim Thome

Thome should have a spot waiting for him in the Hall of Fame whenever he does decide to call it quits. On paper, Thome’s numbers with the Sox these last three years look pretty good. Even at age 38, he’s on pace for another 30 plus homer, 100 RBI season. The impact however, Thome has made on the South Side has been minimal at best. He still strikes out way too much, and clogs up the bases when he does draw walks. Aaron Rowand would be of more use to the Sox right now than Thome.

5. Kosuke Fukudome

True, the hype surrounding this guy (comparisons to Ichiro) coming from Japan was unfair. And he has helped the Cubs manufacture more runs by leading the team in walks. Also, defensively he’s been very good. For 48 million though, people were expecting a bit more. He hasn’t hit for power, and it appears the league has caught up to him after his strong first two months. The fact that Kosuke was voted an All-Star starter and appeared on the front cover of Sports Illustrated in May certainly hasn’t helped him stay under the radar either.

4. Ben Gordon

There was a time when I really liked Gordon. Now, I realize he’s basically another version of Leandro Barbosa/Ricky Davis, a.k.a. guys who can score but can’t do much else. To the clueless Bulls fan, Gordon is good because he can make difficult shots and at times carry a team offensively. Realistically, Gordon is of no use to the Bulls because he can’t play defense, doesn’t know how to pass, and can be easily stopped by bigger defenders. Hopefully, John Paxson will make his first good move in a while and not give him a new contract.

3. Mark Buehrle

On a good team, Buehrle should be no better than the number three guy in the rotation. His performance during the Sox World Series run will never be forgotten, and that might be why Buehrle still gets a pass nowadays. In two of the last three seasons, he’s been terrible. The days that Buehrle does pitch well, teams still usually hit the ball hard off him.

2. Tyrus Thomas

I can’t understand why so many Bulls fans still think Tyrus will end up being a good player. Even after only two years, it’s pretty obvious he will be nothing more than someone who for each spectacular dunk or block, makes three bonehead mistakes. Playing with Derrick Rose should help a little, but this isn’t like Amare teaming with Nash. Thomas has a terrible work ethic, no basketball smarts, and really isn’t big enough to play power forward. Paxson shouldn’t have taken the risk of drafting him, and gone instead for either LaMarcus Aldridge or the guy I really wanted, Brandon Roy. Five years from now, trust me, we’ll still be saying the same things about Tyrus that we are now.

1. Olin Kreutz

It’s likely there’s no more overrated player in all of professional football. Kreutz gets credit because he plays with a mean streak, and is known around the league as one of the dirtiest players. Last time I checked though, a good center must be able to actually block a nose tackle. Don’t for one second let those six Pro Bowls fool you. He earned every single one on reputation, not performance. I’m seriously considering taping Bears games this year just so I can later spotlight what Kreutz does on every snap.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Top ten players that will have an impact on division races

With two months left in baseball’s regular season, division races are just starting to heat up. Four of the six divisions feature division leaders that hold a three game lead or smaller, and only the AL West seems to be already decided. Here are some players that will have a big impact on their team’s playoff chances down the stretch.

10 Mark Reynolds

The Diamondbacks young third baseman has been their most consistent power threat all season. With every team in the NL West limping to the finish, Arizona will need Reynolds to continue to provide offense.

9 Manny Parra
While Parra’s 9-5 record looks impressive, his peripherals are anything but. Parra’s ERA has been steadily rising as his high walk rate and low strikeout totals may be starting to catch up to him. If the Brewers want to catch the Cubbies in the NL Central, Parra will have to be a consistent third starter.

8 Alfonso Soriano

Though it seems many fans fail to realize it, Soriano is the Cubs best player. Sure, he isn’t used correctly- those homers would drive in a lot more runners if he was hitting, say, fifth in the order instead of leadoff- but The Fonz can still carry an offense when he’s hot. If Soriano catches fire the last two months, the Cubs will run away with the Central.

7 Gavin Floyd

Much like Parra, Floyd’s stats may be a tad inflated. The 25-year old righty has had a hard time keeping the ball in the park and keeping pitches in the strike zone. Simply put, if Floyd can regain the form he showed earlier in the first half, the White Sox are a very real threat in the playoffs.

6 Armando Galarraga

At 7.5 games out, the Tigers are going to need to go on a roll very soon. Galarraga has been their best pitcher all season long, and he needs to keep it going if Detroit is going to catch the Sox or Twins.

5 David Price

Late season call ups have been instrumental for most of the World Series winners this decade. Price, a former number one pick, has a chance to be that guy this season for the Rays. Will he enter the rotation or be used as a reliever? Not even Tampa Bay knows what to do with him quite yet.

4 Manny Ramirez

Even though they sit at just .500, the Dodgers are still only 2.5 games back in the NL West. When Ramirez is mashing, no one is better. The Dodgers have enough offense with him in the lineup to catch Arizona.

3 Jason Bay

David Ortiz needs protection in the White Sox order, and Manny Ramirez isn’t there to give it to him anymore. So the task falls to Bay, the newly acquired left fielder from Pittsburgh, to get the job done.

2 Joba Chamberlain

Could New York really close out Yankee Stadium by missing the playoffs? At 6.5 games back, it may take a miracle. Or just a ferocious streak by new starter Joba Chamberlain. Chamberlain has been pretty much lights out since going to the rotation, and he’ll have to remain that way for the Yanks to have a chance at the AL East crown or wildcard.

1 Francisco Liriano

Finally, Liriano is back in the majors, and it couldn’t be at a better time for the Twins. Minnesota needs him to be a front end of the rotation force, and if Liriano can revert back to the form he showed his rookie season, the Twins could be give the White Sox a run for their money.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Top Ten Reason to Hate the Cubs

I’m a Cubs fan.

It has been an extremely frustrating relationship – borderline abusive. I give and give and give and the Cubs, in return, have slowly eaten me out at my soul from the inside out. After years of torment, I understand why Cubs fans, like Mike Murphy of WSCR, would hate the Cubs, but it seemed odd to me that our south side brethren hated the Cubs with such vigor as well. We are the lovable losers. How could we in any way offend you guys? The Cubs haven’t hurt anyone in like a hundred years. We haven’t even had the opportunity to piss anyone off in 45 years. But after working at a local newspaper under the abusive leadership of Mike Clark (also of sportspros(e)), I now have a better understanding of why you guys are such haters. Here are the Top Ten Reasons to Hate the Cubs (as Sox and Cubs fan).

Clark’s Top Five Reason to Hate the Cubs as a Sox Fan

5. Who's on first?

Ron Santo belongs in the Hall of Fame as a player, but really, is there a less prepared broadcaster in America? I'm not sure he knows who the opponent is till the third inning or so.

4. You can't get there from here
What a choice: Drive and get ripped off to park your car in a lot where you're blocked in till after last call at Cubby Bear or be wedged sardine-like onto a Red Line train or Clark Street bus.

3. Clueless fans
No, guys, that medium-depth fly ball will NOT leave the park. Act like you've seen a major league game before and only cheer when something truly notable happens.

2. Wrigley Field


Where Cubs fans see ivy and tradition, most people see falling concrete, obstructed views and hour-long waits at overtaxed concession stands for lousy food.

1. One bad century


Usually in America, if you sell a product that doesn't do what it's supposed to, you go out of business. But here are the Cubs, without a championship since the early years of the 20th century, still selling tickets at a record pace. Never has mediocrity been so lucrative.

Dubs’ Top Five Reasons to Hate the Cubs as a Cubs Fan

5. Ticket Prices

$45 for bleacher seats seems a bit excessive. It takes like half a months salary for us poor bloggers just to enjoy a game at the friendly confines. Sucks to be poor.

4. Ronnie “Woo Woo”

A friend of mine asked the question that if there was one person you would kill and get away with it, who would it be? The usual evil emperors of world history like Hitler and Stalin came up. Then my other friend leaned over and said Ronnie “Woo Woo”. We all silently nodded in agreement.

3. The Dusty Baker Years


He literally said he didn’t like guys who walked, because they “clogged the base paths.” He’s right though. I hate guys that get on base a lot and improve our team’s chances of scoring. Why is it so hard to realize that increased # of base runners = more runs. Look at the Cubs now. They walk a ton and score a ton. Simple, easy, awesome. He also batted out of order with the Cubs, and then did it again with the Reds. WTF? What were the Cubs thinking? I hate my life.

2. Signing Jeff Blauser


This one is 100% personal. Mr. Blauser bled the Cubs for more than 8 million dollars over two years. Now, Blauser hit .300 and OPB’d .400 twice, oddly enough in contract years. Coincidence? The Cubs were so blind on this one it hurts. He OPS’d .885 the year before becoming a Cub. .885 at SS! Awesome! Then he decided to become a lazy ass and came back the next year, after getting paid, to put up a .639 OPS. Really? I hate you Jeff Blauser.

1. 100-freakin’-years

Can we win, like, just one. Please?

Monday, August 4, 2008

Top Ten Players from the 1908 Cubs

Lately the big topic of Chicago sports is the Chicago Cubs; and rightfully so. They sit in first place and are one of baseball’s best teams. Now as friends and some of you know, I am an avid White Sox fan. However my knowledge of Cubs history (and baseball in general) comes from my Dad, an avid Cubs fan and one of the most knowledgeable baseball fans I know.

Now with the Cubs as popular as ever comes the ridiculous amount of bandwagon jumping, casual morons who are at Wrigley to be seen rather then see a game. For every intelligent Cubs fan like my Dad and TTCS’ own Zack Martin there are numerous more who don’t know a damn thing about the history of their “beloved” franchise (and certainly this holds true for every team in every sport but it is worse in the case of popular teams like the Cubs).

So lately my question to Cubs fans I have met has been this, “Name ONE player on the 1908 World Series team.” I have not had any correct responses yet even though the team featured numerous Hall-of-Famers , one of the most famous double play combos in baseball history (Tinker to Evers to Chance) and had a pennant that was eventually decided on one of baseball’s most famous plays (Merkle’s Boner). I even had one guy say that Fergie Jenkins was on that team even though his major league debut was almost 60 years later in 1965.

So today my list is to educate and enlighten Cubs (and baseball fans) about the top players contributing to the 1908 World Series run.

10. Chick Fraser, SP – The 34-year old veteran played his final full season and went 11-9 with a 2.27 ERA which were decent numbers for the time. Fraser was by and large the fifth starter of a solid pitching staff.

9. Jack Pfiester, SP – The lefty continued a string of solid seasons by going 12-10 with a 2.00 ERA. Although Pfiester had a good season it was his incredible determination that he is remembered for. In a September game against the New York Giants he threw a complete game allowing only five hits while pitching with a dislocated tendon in his pitching forearm. After the game the tendon was snapped back into place and Pfeister pitched the remainder of the season. The brave effort probably cost Jack his career as the 1909 season was his last full season.

8. Orval Overall, SP – The right hander went 15-11 with a 1.92 ERA while also being a clutch performer in the World Series going 3-1 (2-0 in 1908) in the Cubs’ World Series era. Orval also holds the distinction of being the only pitcher to strike out four players in one inning in a World Series game, a feat that has never been duplicated since.

7. Harry Steinfeldt, 3B – The forgotten infielder of the Cubs of the early century, Steinfeldt hit for 62 RBI which was good enough for seventh best in the National League. Harry was also a solid fielder known for having an above average arm.

6. Johnny Kling, C – A great defensive catcher who also happened to be a decent hitter, Kling hit .276 with four home runs and 59 RBI. Kling had a very solid 1908 campaign but opted not to play in 1909 after winning the World Pocket Billiards Championship and choosing to defend that title instead of the Cubs World Championship.

5. Ed Reulbach, SP – Reulbach had his best season in 1908 by going 24-7 with a 2.03 ERA. He is also the only pitcher to ever throw two complete game shutouts on the same day when he did so on September 26, 1908.

4. Johnny Evers, 2B – The hall-of-famer hit .300 on the season with a .402 on base percentage and 36 stolen bases. He is immortalized in Baseball’s Sad Lexicon a famous 1910 baseball poem by Franklin Pierce Adams which came from the perspective of a New York Giants’ fan.

These are the saddest of possible words:
"Tinker to Evers to Chance."
Trio of bear cubs, and fleeter than birds,
Tinker and Evers and Chance.
Ruthlessly pricking our gonfalon bubble,
Making a Giant hit into a double --
Words that are heavy with nothing but trouble:
"Tinker to Evers to Chance."

3. Frank Chance, 1B – Another hall-of-famer, Chance was also the manager of the 1908 Cubs while putting up good numbers (.272, 55 RBI, 27 SB). Chance was not only talented, but one of the smarter players of the era, known for his cerebral on-the-field moments.

2. Joe Tinker, SS – Tinker, the fantastic fielding hall-of-famer was a decent hitter over the course of his career but had a career year in 1908 as he was top ten in the National League in slugging percentage, games played, total bases, triples, home runs, RBI, stolen bases, extra base hits and sacrifice hits. Although famous for being part of the aforementioned double play combination it is interesting to note that Tinker and Evans despised each other during the 1908 season stemming back from an incident in 1905 where the two had an on-field fist fight after Tinker took a cab and left his teammates in a hotel lobby. Tinker and Evans didn’t speak from 1905 until the 1938 World Series when they were both asked to help broadcast the Cubs – Yankees World Series on the radio. The two put aside their differences as they reunited.

1. Mordecai Brown, SP – Three Finger Brown had an unbelievable 1908 campaign. The hall-of-famer went 29-9 with a 1.47 ERA. In 312.3 innings pitched Brown only allowed 51 earned runs, 49 walks and 214 hits as he posted 27 complete games. Brown also came up big when it mattered most. In the pennant-deciding game against the New York Giants on October 8th, Brown came on in relief of Jack Pfiester to shut down the Giants and defeat the era’s other dominant National League pitcher, Christy Matthewson. Brown also won two of the four World Series contest against the Tigers. Brown was a unique talent known for only having three fingers (four including thumb). He lost the majority of his index finger in a farming accident while later breaking his remaining fingers on a fall to the ground that left the fingers permanently bent out of place. The odd grip Brown incorporated gave his pitches a high degree of top spin, which helped make him one of the most devastating ground ball pitchers in baseball history.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Top Ten reasons the Bears needed to sign Hester

All seven of ya that stop by on Friday's to look at my post may be questioning where the stupid, meaningless, crediblity destroyer is. Well, Curtis told us all here at TTCS that I suck, Dubs sucks, Barnes is gonna start sucking and so on and so forth. So we've decided to let the next great American writer do his own today. We're posting it as he sent it. Enjoy.

10. The Soldier Boy
You almost look forward to seeing what arrogant dance he is going to do once he hits the end zone. Don’t let Goodell see him Superman or the league may hear about the up and coming Soldier Boy gang.

9. Because you don't want to have to ever punt to him
Common sense here. If the Bears didn’t have Hester, over time, they would have to face him. While losing Ayanbadejo isn’t the end of the world, his departure hurts the kick and punt teams. The mix of losing your top two special teams players doesn’t help.

8. The Madden Ranking
Freddy talked about the Madden ranking where his speed was 100. And while that is accurate, what is more important to the organization is the fact that in real life he would probably be rated 105 in real life. Multiple times he outran safeties who had 20-yard head starts on him. Now they may not have been moving initially as quickly as Hester out of the box, it wouldn’t have mattered because Devin made it look like they were standing still.

7. Who else are they going to put back there?
If Hester were to be sent packing, who else would they use? The most logical answer would be Nate Vasher. However, three years ago Nate couldn’t even beat out Bobby Wade, a man who muffed four punts in two weeks in ’05. Garrett Wolfe? I think they are scared to use him for fear of breaking. The Bears have no playmakers but Hester on their team. A season without him would be like watching a group of Pop Warner kids play flag football.

6. Salary Cap
Freddy’s only good point throughout his list is the fact that there will be no salary cap in 2010. Now I am no official and am not positive that that stat is actually accurate, but I’m going to believe it because this is the most reliable website in Chicago. Yeah? Regardless, somebody is going to be willing to throw tens of millions of dollars in his direction before Angelo has any idea what hit him.

5. Don’t want any more problems
Mr. Matt Olsen, one of the few with his head on straight, was indeed correct on his message and brings a valid point.

“In fact, I respect Hester even more for not vocally complaining in the offseason about his contract. Urlacher let it be known fairly early on that he was unhappy and I'd say a good faction of the Bears fan base weren't too happy with him because of it. Instead, Hester tried to do the right thing and keep it internal. When the time came and the Bears hadn't ponied up the cash, his only option was to sit out.”

But it could have only been a matter of time before he starts acting like Lance Brigg’s little brother and started demanding money or serious holdouts would follow.

4. Ball on the 40
It kind of speaks for itself, but with a healthy defense, expect a lot more three-and-outs. And with punters terrified to give up the big one, the offense will continue to get great field position more times than not. No other returner in football can guarantee that.

3. Marketable
With an aging Brian Urlacher on the downside of his career, Hester is the most marketable figure (besides Robbie Gould of course) on the organization. They will surely make more money on him than any other player on the team.

2. Offensive weapon
As Fred stated multiple times, the Bears want him to be an offensive threat as well as the return extraordinaire. But not only do they want him to play offense, they want him to be the #1 receiver. (Biggs article)
They needed to at least give him #3 money in order to do that. While he won’t have the production as many #1’s, even Reggie Brown has a 5-year, $27 million deal and he only caught 61 balls during the 2007 campaign.

1. Simply entertaining
This kind of ties into my #9, but he is fun to watch. No individual in the NFL is more entertaining than Hester. He is the penalty shot of the NFL, and he gets at least three good chances to return the ball for a TD every game. He makes heads turn and even if you’re not a Bears fan, if you hear that Devin is getting kicked to, you are going to change your channel to watch. Every time he touches the ball he has a chance to go the distance. I cannot say that for more than a handful of guys in football.