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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Top Ten White Sox/Rays matchups

After a roller coaster ride of a 163 game season in which the White Sox ended the season of three division foes in three days (a feat never previously accomplished according to the Elias Sports Bureau) the White Sox now face the upstart Rays in the ALDS. In the same theme of Dubs’ Cubs/Dodgers preview I will go through the lineups and bullpen and see who has the advantage. However instead of going about this based on stats (a grizzled vet like Jeff Kent is WAY worse than Mark DeRosa? Wouldn’t go THAT far Dubs..) I’ll look into some other factors as well.

And since the Sox also just clinched at 9 PM, I don’t have the well crafted photos to accompany each position like Dubs because I wasn’t about to jinx the White Sox in the one-game playoff. Also, since the AL has the DH we are going to a very special Top Eleven Chicago Sports list.

11. Designated Hitter
Jim Thome vs. Cliff Floyd/Rocco Baldelli
Although Jim Thome is the better player with better power production, Baldelli and Floyd are very solid veteran hitters who can switch based on who is pitching. The big problem may be keeping Rocco and Cliff on the field as they are two of the more injury prone players of the last decade.

Advantage: White Sox

10. Bullpen
Bobby Jenks, Octavio Dotel, Scott Linebrink, Matt Thornton vs. Dan Wheeler, Grant Balfour, Trevor Miller, Troy Percival

The White Sox pen has been shaky in September but showed some encouraging signs in the last three games. Jenks is a World Series champion and has pitched in plenty of big games and Dotel has seen his fair share of big games playing for the Astros. The Rays counter with Wheeler, a veteran reliever who has never been a full-time closer and Grant Balfour, who might have been the best setup man in baseball this season. The wild card in this could be Percival, a highly experienced, oft-injured right hander who can always make life miserable for opponents.

Advantage: Draw (closer goes to Sox, setup goes to Rays)

9. Right Field
Jermaine Dye vs. Gabe Gross
This matchup is no contest. Dye is a big time player and experienced veteran while Gross is hovering under .240 with only 40 RBI in 127 games.

Big Advantage:
White Sox

8. Center Field
Ken Griffey Jr./Brian Anderson vs. BJ Upton
While Griffey still remains one of baseball's biggest names he is going to have to hit in the clutch and play a solid center field to cement his legacy without World Series. Upton on the other hand is a rising star with 44 stolen bases to go along with a .383 on base percentage. Griffey has more home run potential, but Upton could be a terror on the base paths all series long.


7. Left Field
Dewayne Wise/Nick Swisher vs. Carl Crawford/Eric Hinske

Dewayne Wise has had some big hits down the stretch but he has also been very inconsistent in spelling MVP candidate Carlos Quintin. While Carl Crawford has been injured it has been said that he will play in this series, although he could also DH. Hinske provides some pop (20 home runs) but also has a sub .250 average. Wise's biggest contribution might be his speed, as he is one of the White Sox lone stolen base threats.

Advantage: Rays (only if Crawford plays, otherwise a mediocre draw)

6. Shortstop
Orlando Cabrera vs. Jason Bartlett/Willy Aybar
Cabrera is a championship performer who has played in many big games, while his counterparts Bartlett and Aybar counter with solid up-the-middle defense and occasional hitting.

Advantage: White Sox

5. Third Base
Juan Uribe vs. Evan Longoria
Does this even need to be mentioned? I mean Longoria is baseball's fastest rising star and Uribe an inconsistent hitter who is merely a stopgap for the injured (and not trying to return) Joe Crede.

Big Advantage: Rays

4. Second Base
Alexei Ramirez vs. Akinori Iwamura

While Alexei would have been the American League rookie of the year if not for the aforementioned Longoria, Iwamura is a solid contributor who should not be overlooked. Alexei, while putting up nice numbers has also struggled a bit in September and needs to find a groove as the Sox enter October. However, the Cuban Missile is clutch as evidenced by his .471 average with the bases loaded.

Advantage: White Sox

3. First Base
Paul Konerko vs. Carlos Pena
Paulie is just starting to heat up a bit while also being an average defender at first base. Pena put up huge numbers last season and struggled a bit this season on the way to 102 RBI. Pena also has good plate discipline and will get on base at a good rate even though his batting average is less than stellar.

Advantage: Draw

2. Catcher
AJ Pierzynski vs. Dioner Navarro
Both men behind the plate had good offensive seasons for the position while also calling good games for their pitchers. The difference however will come with Navarro's defense. While AJ might struggle to contain some of the faster Rays players Navarro will have no problem containing the Sox lackluster running speed.

Advantage: Navarro

1. Starting Pitching
Starting pitching could very well be the key to the series for both teams. Buerhle, Floyd and Danks all gave unbelievable efforts in propelling the Sox to the playoffs but Javier Vazquez needs to step up to his potential in game 1. The Rays counter with James Shields, Scott Kazmir and Matt Garza pitchers all coming off good years and sub 3.70 ERAs. The Rays will need their pitching, defense and small ball to carry them to victory in this series.

Advantage: Draw

In terms of this series, the Rays are a very tough out at home and rely on pitching, defense and speed to win games. The Sox never seem to play well against teams like this on the road, especially on the slick Tropicana Field turf. If the White Sox want to the series they need to take 1-of-2 in Tampa Bay and hold serve at home because a game 5 on the road at Tropicana Field might not be pretty. The White Sox do have momentum and experience on their side but need to come up with timely power hitting and more great starting pitching to win this series.

Bold Prediction: White Sox in 4

Monday, September 29, 2008

Top Ten Cubs/Dodgers position matchups


We will go through each position like in a scorecard (1=Pitcher, 2=Catcher, etc, except 10=Bullpen) but in reverse order and see who has the best matchup at each position in the Cubs vs. Dodgers series. This will mostly be stat based, so for you David Eckstein/Darin Erstad white-man grittiness-fans, this may not be the blog for you. Wait. I’m sorry. How could I forget about Casey Blake, Ryan Theriot and Blake DeWitt!!! Sub-100 OPS+’s to follow!!!! However, for the rest of you feel free to take your shoes off, sit back and lets try to sort this madness out like Nerdstradamus’ (see what I did there?).

10. Bullpen

Carlos Marmol/Kerry Wood vs. Three guys you’ve never heard of and Chan-Ho-fucking Park/Takashi Saito

The Dodger bullpen has been flat out nasty this year. They are second in ERA, walks given up and are first in strikeouts, AVG against, SLG against, OBP against, blah, blah, blah. They are fucking sick. If the Cubs fall down early in games it WILL be hard to come back. However, Saito is coming off injury and may be rusty trombone going into the playoffs (last 6 games, 4.76 ERA. 2.49 season ERA).

The Cubs, on the other hand, have been good. It has been a season of ups and downs in the ‘pen. They too fall into the top half of most statistical categories, but the season that Wood and Marmol have had (dominant one day, shaky the next) exemplifies the Cubs bullpen as a whole this year. This series may come down to how good the Cubs ‘pen is, which can go, well, either way.

Advantage: Dodgers

9. Right field
Kosuke Fukudome/Micah Hoffpauir/Mark DeRosa vs. Andre Ethier

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Depending on how Lou plays it, this matchup is either a HUGE advantage for the Dodgers or pretty much a push. If Fukudome starts, advantage Dodgers, but if Hoffpauir starts it goes to the Dodgers slightly because of Ethier’s experience (three full years in MLB), but if DeRosa starts it is a practical push. It’s actually pretty funny how similar they are in numbers. Unfortunately, DeRosa has a bit of a calf injury and may come out a bit timid.

Advantage: Dodgers

8. Center field
Jim Edmonds vs. Matt Kemp

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56 walks, 19 home runs, 138 OPS+ in 85 games. Those are Edmonds numbers. Those are awesome. With the Dodgers only tossing righties in the shortened series, the Cubs will most likely sit Reed Johnson. Edmonds will need to be the lefty in the middle of the lineup that keeps the Dodger bullpen honest.

LA counters with Matt Kemp, a 23-year-old future all-star. He, however, is a year away. Kemp's average .340 OBP and 18 home runs in 155 games makes him good, but nothing special.

Advantage (strangely):

7. Left field
Alfonso Soriano vs. Manny Ramirez


FUCK. THIS. Ramirez swing is perfect. I have been trying to get my swing to look like his for years. It’s flawless, much like my writing or Megan Fox.


You will be hard pressed to find a matchup that Soriano will lose, but what Manny has done with the Dodgers (.396/.489/.743. .743!!! WTF?) is insane and if he hits anything like it, left field MUST go to the Dodgers.


6. Shortstop
Ryan Theriot vs. Angel Berroa/Rafael Furcal (if healthy)/Nomar Garciaparra(?)

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I feel like this is kind of a battle of the least feeble (or an incredibly intense cripple fight).

Berroa is terrible, he might as well bring a used condom to the plate. Furcal was awesome to start the year, but got hurt and who really knows what you're going to get from him. Dodgers.com has Nomar listed as a shortstop and second in the depth charts. But, really? I can’t make heads or tails of this shit. Fuck it. Homerism time. You win, Theriot. The LSU grads .387 OBP is super, even though he fucked that all up by doing this 20 times.

Advantage: Cubs

5. Third Base
Aramis Ramirez vs. Casey Blake


This is almost laughable. Blake has hit more home runs with the Dodgers, but still sucks a fat nut. He has a .313 OBP since joining the Dodgers. Aramis’ split stats .289/.380/.518. A cool Aramis stat: 27 home runs. A lame stat: 111 RBI. And a park/historically adjusted Aramis stat: 130 OPS+.

Advantage: Cubs

4. Second Base
Mark DeRosa/Mike Fontenot vs. Jeff Kent (if healthy)/Blake DeWitt


This position depends on whom Lou puts in right field, either way the Cubs OWN LA at second. Lets make this simple…

OPS+ (100 equals average major leaguer)

Advantage: Cubs

3. First base
Derrek Lee vs. James Loney/Nomar Garciaparra


Lee had a good season. He hit 20 home runs, 41 doubles and OBP’d a decent .361. He is on the downside of his career, but is still producing at an above average level. Neither Loney nor Garciaparra match Lee, but Joe Torre can play the lefty/righty thing if he so chooses. Regardless, Lee is better.

Advantage: Cubs

2. Catcher
Geovany Soto vs. Russell Martin

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Martin was supposed to be THE catcher this year in the NL. He had a good year, but was a bit of a let down only hitting 13 home runs. On the other hand, he did OBP an impressive .385.

However, he was out-shined by the incredibly well kept Soto (the man's goatee is perfect, no homo). The 25-year-old dropped 23 bombs, laced 35 doubles and OPS’d .868. He played a very solid catcher and seemed to handle his pitchers well, even standing up to veterans like Carlos Zambrano. For the record, Geo is hurt, but the extent of the injury is not know. So, until we know how serious it is, lets just assume/pretend he is just dandy.

Advantage: Cubs

1. Starting pitchers


The Cubs starters pretty much led the NL in every pitching category. The Dodgers were not to far behind though. Besides Chad Billingsley, the Dodgers starters have been good, but not dominant. This series will come down to game two – Zambrano vs. Billingsley. Otherwise, the Cubs have a leg up in every contest. Dempster is better than an aging Lowe, Harden, probably the best pitcher in the series, is WAY superior to Kuroda (only has 116 strikeouts in 183.3 innings) and Lilly should out pitch a very mediocre Maddux.

Advantage: Cubs


Top ten reasons to be both a Cubs and White Sox fan

By: Danny Sheridan
Whether it’s getting criticized by co-workers and friends, or looked down upon by the general public, I get it from all over for being both a “die-hard” Cubs and White Sox fan. Sorry if this post upsets anyone, and if you want to dismiss everything I say here, go right ahead. Meanwhile, I’ll be the one rooting hard for the Sox to force a one-game playoff this afternoon, and come Wednesday, rooting just as hard for the Cubs against the Dodgers. By the way, I’m probably one of a very few that owns both a Carlos Zambrano and Mark Buehrle jersey.
10. Good broadcasters
Len and Bob work great together, and say what you will about Hawk, but I love the fact that he openly roots for the Sox on the air and sounds like he’s about to cry when things aren’t going well. Even though Hawk will get carried away many times, like when he tried to say last week that the Sox would have taken two of three from the Twins if not for better umpiring, he is a loyal and entertaining announcer who makes you feel good listening to him. Some of his sayings like “You can put it on the board, yeeeeeees,” “Get on back there, stretch,” “Time to cinch it up and honker down,” “This ballgame is ova,” and “He gone,” are classic.
9. Enjoy both ballparks
Wrigley has the ambiance and tradition, while the Cell has convenience and comfort. Plus, if you go to both ballparks frequently enough, you can decide for yourself which team has the better fans, and not go by what Barack Obama thinks. Although there’s nothing like seeing the Cubs win a day game at Wrigley, I’d give the advantage overall to the Cell for three main reasons: you actually have room to move around, the food is a lot better, and parking is way easier.
8. Crosstown Classic
While there’s not much likelihood it will happen this year, or probably any year for that matter, what if it did? To die hard Sox fans, losing to the Cubs would seem like the end of the world. There’d be no getting over it. Same goes for Cubs fans if they lost to the Sox. For someone like me, I’m covered either way. In fact, the big party would be the day both teams clinch spots in the World Series, because then I can’t lose. If I had to pick a side, I’d root slightly for the Cubs, but only because the Sox won it all just three years ago.

7. Screw loyalty
Why should I keep cheering for a team if they continually suck? So I’m a bigger bandwagon jumper than Boston Celtics fans. You know how many Sox or Cubs players I’ve ever spoken a word to or have gotten within 200 feet of? Zero, which is probably the same answer for most of you reading this. I have no connections or affiliations with one particular team. I don’t owe it to one particular team to remain loyal through the down times. At the end of the day, a good percentage of these same players we root for care more about how much money they make than what name is on the front of their jersey anyway. 6. No jealousy
It had to be very painful for Cubs fans to see the Sox go on their magical 11-1 run through the playoffs in 2005, just like it would be for Sox fans this year if the Cubs finally broke their curse. At the moment, Sox fans are able to laugh at Cubs fans because they have something the Cubs don’t, that being a recent championship. Once the Sox get eliminated, whether it’s today, tomorrow, or in the first round against the Rays, the entire South Side will be on the edge of their seats praying that the Cubs choke. Aren’t there more important things to be worrying about than something you have absolutely no control over? Rooting for both teams totally eliminates the jealousy factor.

5. Managers
Having Ozzie Guillen and Lou Piniella manage in the same city is awesome. There hasn’t been a better combination in Chicago since Jordan and Pippen. If I could sit down and meet any two current sports figures in Chicago, players included, I might choose these two, Guillen for sure. The day the Cubs signed Piniella, they became serious contenders. The day the Sox signed Guillen, they became relevant and fun to watch again.4. Have something to watch in the summer
From the end of the NBA Finals the first week in June to the start of the NFL season in early September, there’s nothing going on in that three month window besides baseball. So if the Cubs were 10 games out already by the time school let’s out, it’s going to be a pretty boring and depressing summer sports wise for Cubs fans. It makes for a lot better summer overall when your baseball team is in contention, and in most years, that’s only been the case for one of the two Chicago teams, this year obviously being an exception. Just look at the last couple years before this season. The Cubs were all but eliminated from contention by summer in 2005 and 2006, the Sox in 2003 and 2007.

3. Root for good stories on both sides
Geovany Soto, Mark DeRosa, Ryan Theriot, and Ryan Dempster have all been major surprises for the Cubs. Alexei Ramirez, Carlos Quentin, Gavin Floyd, and John Danks have been the same for the Sox. Cheering equally for both teams allows me to root for great stories on each side of town. Most Cubs fans really can’t appreciate or would even recognize how great Quentin was before he got injured because they’re too caught up in their own team, and possibly jealous that Kenny Williams stole him from Arizona. Likewise, a lot of Sox fans might not cheer for Dempster because he came out of nowhere to give the Cubs one of the best rotations in baseball, while the Sox staff has been terrible the last two months. 2. Double your chances
Okay, this one is pretty simple, even though I suck at math. If you root for two teams instead of one, you have a better chance each day of seeing at least one of them win a ballgame. Let’s say the Sox lose a heartbreaker, like last Thursday’s loss to Minnesota for example. Sox fans are going to be pissed off the rest of that night, and probably still thinking about it until the next day’s game. But, if the Cubs were to win on that day, well, you may get over the Sox quicker, and therefore have second thoughts about emailing Guillen () to tell him how much his team sucks.

1. Lack of success in Chicago sports
Since the Bulls dynasty ended in 1998, other than the White Sox World Series title and Bears trip to the Super Bowl, there hasn’t been much to get excited about from any of the city’s five professional sports teams. That’s a shame too, because Chicago is a huge sports market with some of the greatest fans in the world. Recently we’ve seen so many bad teams here, that when there finally is a year in which both baseball teams have a shot to reach the postseason for the first time since 1906, I’m sure going to be pulling hard for each. May I remind you also that the Cubs haven’t won a World Series in 100 years, and up until 2005, the Sox had gone 88 years without one. Not that you probably needed the reminder.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Top Ten Matt Millen Disasters

Being Chicago sports fans, we've definitely gone through our fair share of ineptitude at the highest levels of our professional teams.

As a matter of fact, we're currently stuck with a general manager for the Bears that is absolutely clueless when it comes to drafting players.

However, our neighbors in Detroit have had it the worst.

You've heard the news, the Detroit Lions have finally rid themselves of the plague that is Matt Millen.

Below you'll find his Top Ten F-Up's throughout his years with the Lions.

2006 -
Millen hires Rod Marinelli to be his 3rd Head Coach

Eventually Marinelli may end up higher on this list but since he's still the incumbent, we'll let him slide for a moment.

We will point out that he's amassed a sparkling 10-25 record since taking over in 2006 and shows no signs of slowing down.

The way this Lions ball club has looked in 2008, Marinelli could easily shoot for 35 career losses.

It's important to have goals ya know.

2003: The Lions signed Mariucci to a five-year, $25-million contract

This hiring seemed like the perfect fit.

The hometown kid heading to the big ball club later on in life.

In the end, however, it turned out to be like trying to fit a Mac truck into the gap of Michael Strahan's teeth.


2003 - The Lions lose a record 24th straight road game

Not exactly a move made by Millen, but an event directly related to the bad moves he made throughout his tenure.

Think of the worst NFL teams in history and even they found a way to win a road game at least once a season.

Fans were disappointed when they won their 25th road game because they didn't get a free taco after the game.


2001 - Millen hires Marty Mornhinweg as head coach

Millen thought so highly of Mornhinweg that he decided to fire then current head coach Gary Moeller.

Who had just signed a three-year contract only two months before.

Mornhinweg was just a glimpse of things to come in the Millen era, going 5-27 during his two year stint as head coach.

He'll mostly be remembered for his bone headed decision to kick off in overtime against the Bears, despite WINNING THE COIN TOSS.

The Bears quickly marched down the field, kicked the game winning field goal, and sent him a lovely bouquet of flowers for such an early Christmas gift.


2006: Millen hires Mike Martz to become the Lions offensive coordinator.

Martz went from being the mastermind of the 'Greatest Show on Turf' to the 'Greatest Dud on Earth'.


2008 - Millen trades DT Shaun Rogers to the Browns for Leigh Bodden and a 3rd round pick

"Mark my words: If Shaun Rogers is healthy, he'll be the NFL defensive player of the year.'' - Matt Millen

So let me get this straight.

You traded a player you thought would be the Defensive Player of the Year for absolutely nothing?

This has to become one of those 'Real Men of Genius' commercials.

Someone get a hold of those guys. This is solid gold.


2003 - NFL fines Millen $200,000 for failing to interview a minority candidate before he hired Steve Mariucci.

Matt Millen. The definition of class.


2003 - Millen selects Michigan State WR Charles Rogers with the 2nd overall pick

Rogers career numbers: 440 yds, 4 TD

Not bad for a second overall pick who:

a. Broke his collarbone more times than he broke tackles.
b. Was suspended in 2005 for violating the NFL substance abuse policy.
c. Reportedly failed a drug test each year he was at Michigan State.

He truly could be apart of the "Biggest Draft Busts of All Time" argument and Matt Millen will forever be attached to his name.

2002 - Millen selects Oregon QB Joey Harrington with the 3rd overall pick in the draft

“A kid this good may only come along once every three or four years.” - Matt Millen

How can I write anything funnier than that quote?

He must have been smoking some of that wacky tobacky with Charles Rogers in the draft room.

2005 - Millen selects USC WR Mike Willams 10th overall pick in the draft
After failing miserably with the Charles Rogers experiment, Millen decided to go WR for the third time in the first round at the 2005 draft and selected Williams.

Williams sat out a year with fellow screwup Maurice Clarett while trying to fight the NFL's age requirement rule.

The result: 449 yds, 2 TD and a whole lotta fat.

He was lazy, slow and just really didn't care about football. Williams will always go down as one of the most disappointing players ever selected in the NFL Draft.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Top ten toughest places for Chicago teams to play

10. Yankee Stadium

Maybe it’s the second city factor? For whatever reason, the Sox always seem to struggle in New York. This season the Sox finished 1-3 in New York.

9. Busch Stadium

The Cubs and Cards have had some great battles at Busch, both old and new. As long as the Cards have Dave Duncan, Tony LaRussa, and Albert Pujols, don’t expect that to change any time soon.

8. Dolphin Stadium

The Cubs play all their home games in front of a full crowd. Maybe that’s why they can’t win in front of 3,000 fans in Florida.

7. Joe Lewis Arena

The Hawks may be ready to embark on a new era, but no Chicago fan will ever feel comfortable heading to Detroit to play the Wings. The Joe is the reason I won’t hate octopuses.

6. Palace of Auburn Hills

Michael had trouble winning there so do Luol and crew. And is there any single human in the entire world more annoying than the Pistons’ PA announcer?

5. Lambeau Field

Under Lovie Smith, sure, the Bears have played well in Lambeau. But when Brett Favre was in his heyday in the 90s, a trip to Green Bay meant an automatic loss.

4. Any west coast basketball stadium

There was a substantial period of time, during the late 90s and early 00s, when you could mark off a group of losses for the Bulls before the season even began. The annual Circus Trip to the west coast was that tough on the Bulls. Though they’ve been better lately- hey, they might actually win one or two games now!- things haven’t gotten that much better.

3. Astrodome

The Astrodome was a house of horrors for the Cubs for decades. Consider it the anti-Wrigley. While Cubs are used to playing under the sun, on natural grass, and with the aid of a strong wind, the Astrodome wouldn’t offer any of it.

2. McAfee Coliseum

Few things in life are more predictable than the outcome of a White Sox game in Oakland. When the Sox face the A’s on the road, they are almost certainly going to lose. Maybe it’s the huge foul territory or the adjustment to west coast time. Whatever it is, the Sox can’t win.

1. Metrodome

Was there ever any doubt? I think TUP contributor Bobby Stompy summed it up best:

"The Metrodome is by far the worst stadium ever. The inexplicable garbage bag in right field? The ceiling color scheme which causes outfielders to lose balls in the light? The fast track? The Twins success? Awful."


Monday, September 22, 2008

Top Ten Keys to a Bears Playoff Run

Will Leitch of NYMag and the former editor of Deadspin put it best when describing the Bears: “Every single Bears game this season is going to be won or lost in the final two minutes. This theoretically makes them the most exciting team in the NFL. Practically speaking, it does not quite play that way.” The Bears have an awesome defense, but a weak offense, making this team very mediocre. They have the potential to beat any team, but also have the ability to lose to anyone. In order for the Bears to make the playoffs they will probably have to win nine games. Here are the top ten keys for that to happen.


10. Field position

The Bears have one of the best directional punters in NFL history in Brad Maynard. If he can pin teams deep, the defense should be able to give the offense great field position, which is necessary for their anemic offense to function. I don’t know if Orton and the offense can make 80-90 yard drives with any consistency.

9. A go to receiver needs to emerge

In the preseason, Rashied Davis appeared to be Orton’s go to guy, but he has been relatively quite thus far, even dropping a HUGE pass on Sunday. The whitest-named receiver ever Brandon Lloyd dominated Tiki Ronde Barber Sunday, but unless he can do it week in and week out, the Bears will struggle immensely to stretch defenses down field.

8. Kick/punt return

Not only does the Bears offense lean on the defense for points, but also on the return team. Hester is a one-man wrecking crew, but teams seem to have learned their lesson and are keeping it away from him. The replacement returners looked very solid this week. Vasher averaged 8.3 yards per return and Manning had a 27.0 yards per return average with a long of 46. If Hester is out for a while, these two will need to produce like they did on Sunday in order for the Bears to have a chance to score.

7. Offensive turnovers

Offensively the Bears will score about four times a game. This sounds like a lot, but one or two of those will be setup or scored by the special teams or defense and most likely three of them will be field goals. The Bears must limit their turnovers to hopefully increase their chances of getting another unexpected score. Furthermore, as the last two weeks have shown, the Bears must keep the defense off the field in order to keep them fresh deep into the fourth quarter.

6. The running game

Forte seems to be real. However, it would be nice to see the Bears give Jones a few more touches to limit some of the hits that Forte will accrue throughout the year. The majority of the Bears yards will be on the ground. If they keep the ball in their hands they can control the TOP and once again keep the defense fresh.

5. Robbie Gould

He must be as good as last year. The Bears best offensive weapon (very sad), must make anything within 55-yards. He cannot miss 49-yarders like he did on Sunday. Gould must be almost perfect for the Bears to succeed, for he will be the majority of the offense this year.

4. Defensive turnovers

Unlike most teams, the Bears rely on their defense to either score points or to put them in the red zone via takeaways. They NEED turnovers to succeed. If the four that the Bears had on Sunday is not enough for the Bears to win they are in for a LONG season.

3. Quarterback play

A Bears quarterback does not need to be awesome. A Bears quarterback does not need to be good. A Bears quarterback needs to be solid. He needs to limit turnovers. He needs to have a high completions percentage in the short pass game and hit a deep ball once or twice a game to stretch the defense and keep the running game viable. It’s simple and I believe Kyle Orton can be this kind of quarterback.

2. Offensive line

The line looked abysmal on Sunday. They allowed the Bucs DTs into the backfield and let the Bucs DEs get pressure from the corners in pass downs. If the Bears expect to win nine games, they need the line to play like they did in week one; opening lanes for Forte and giving a pocket for Orton to step in to.

1. Defense stays healthy

Last year proved that if the Bears D is hurt they are at best a six-win team. Healthy they can be dominant and control the game. Injured the Bears fall apart like a game of drunken Jenga. Simply put, they are the most important key for the Bears to succeed.

Top Ten reasons a Sox sweep in Minnesota is mandatory

Alright, this is it. The Sox are potentially three wins away from their second division title in four years. While they do have six more games to wrap it up, and a magic number at five, it is important the Sox earn the division title as soon as possible. Below are ten reasons why.

10. No need to rush Quentin back
I am not entirely sure how bad this injury is, but the last rumor was he would be ready for the playoffs. While it would be great to have him, the possibility of rushing him back for the last series of the season doesn't sit well in my stomach.

9. Match the Cubs
This is probably the least of the Sox worries at the moment, but the idea of both teams making the playoffs is one of the coolest things that has happened to the city in decades. For the Sox to blow it would be devistating, not to mention all the jeering Sox fans would get. I couldn't put up with that.

8. Cliff Lee
Should the season be decided by Sunday's season finale at the Cell, I would not like my chances. This is because of one man; The unstoppable Cliff Lee, who would be scheduled to start. Cliff has dominated baseball all season long, and has not lost a game since July 6. Until last week, Lee had earned a win in every decision since that loss.

7. Don't want to give Twins a chance
The Twins do not deserve to be playing in October. Everybody understands that except Minnesota. If they are given even the smallest glimpse of hope, they always do whatever they can to take advantage.

6. Kansas City could hold Sox fate
Kansas City will take on Minnesota to finish out the year after the three-game set where the Twins host the ChiSox. While Detroit and Cleveland have disappointed, the Sox and Twins have overachieved, one thing still remained in the AL Central; the Royals still suck. This will not change next Friday-Sunday.

5. Cleveland is on fire
Winning six in a row, Cleveland is starting to look like the team they were supposted to be, too bad for them it came six months too late. Sizemore is hitting the ball and Victor Martinez has been clutch of late. I would not want Cleveland to play spoiler, something that could happen if the White Sox don't take care of business.

4. Try some new guys
While there wouldn't be anything on the line, it wouldn't be a bad move to give guys like Getz, Bourgeois and Fields more time. You never know how important a guy who doesn't get off the bench much could be in the postseason (i.e. Blum).

3. Rest Starters
This kind of goes along with #4, but now would be a great time to give the vets like Konerko, Griffey and Dye the next couple days off. It has been a pretty down year until late for Paulie and Grif looks tired. Giving the bullpen a rest would be a must, especially because they will go against either high-powered offenses of either East team.

2. Set the rotation
Winning early gives the Sox a chance to set the rotation the way they want going into either Tampa or Boston. While I disagree with this, the rotation will look something like Vasquez, Buehrle, Danks and Floyd. The way this is set has its strengths but also its weaknesses. Putting experience in the front end could prove worthy, but the back-to-back lefties in the heart of the rotation may haunt them. I wouldn't be surprised to see Danks throw Game 1, or Floyd Game 3 in order to fix the problem.

1. Confidence going into October
The Sox would not only be the last team into the AL postseason, they would also be the weakest (LAA, Boston and Tampa are far superior and more refined teams). While I think the other teams are better, I do feel all those teams have weaknesses. The Angels have not played a meaningful game all year, Tampa is very inexperienced and Boston has been injury-plagued. What better way to go into the postseason than by sweeping a playoff-caliber team?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Top Ten Chicago Sports Movie Moments

It's no secret Chicago is a sports crazed city.

So much so that it lends itself beautifully to some great movie moments that involve the world of sports.

Here are the Top Ten Chicago Sports Movie Moments.

10. Major League II

[Rick Vaughn is pitching to Jack Parkman during practice]

Jack Parkman: What do you call that garbage?

Rick Vaughn: It's my eliminator. I've got another pitch. You get a piece of it, I'll let you name it.

[Vaughn pitches and Parman hits the ball out of the park]

Jack Parkman: I'd, uh, call it the masturbator.

Good old Jack Parkman. Started the season with the Indians and eventually landed with the White Sox after Roger Doran decided to trade him.

There's a reason this guy ended up on the South Side. He'd fit right in with the current crew and I believe his character was loosely based on A.J. Pierzynski.

9. Blue Chips

When Pete Bell heads to the South Side of Chicago to scout Butch McRae (Penny Hardaway), he finds himself surrounded by college coaches from across the country trying to get a piece of the high school phenom.

I have to imagine this is what it was like when Derrick Rose was playing at Simeon.

8. Eight Men Out

Eight Men Out

The middle half hour of this movie shows how it all went down. How the players on the 1919 'Black Sox' team were suckered into throwing the World Series despite being the best team in baseball.

Some say the team was cursed after they disgraced the game of baseball. Luckily it was broken in 2005 when the Sox won the World Series. (Did I need to say that? No, but it just always feels so nice to say)

7. The Natural

The only reason why this scene is not higher up on this list is because it wasn't actually filmed in Chicago.

However, it's supposed to be Wrigley Field and to have it featured in one of the greatest scenes in one of the greatest baseball movies of all time is definitely worthy of making an appearance on this list.

6. Wayne's World

Game on!

Game off!

This never gets old. I still try to reference this scene whenever the situation calls for it.

5. Space Jam

Yeah, Space Jam. TTCS contributor Ricky O'Donnell's favorite movie of all time and that's not even a joke. That's the truth.

Look, anything to do with M. Jeff is solid gold in Chicago and Space Jam and it's ridiculously good soundtrack (Seal, R. Kelly, Quad City DJs??!!) definitely qualify.

4. Rookie of the Year

"Just float it Henry."

The only time the floater pitch has been used in sports history to such perfection occurred in Wrigley Field. Although I'm pretty sure that's what Brad Lidge's pitch looked like to Albert Pujols back in 2004 during game 5 of the NLCS.

3. Brian's Song

One of the only movies about sports that allows a man to tear up.

Billy Dee Williams is the truth, that's all that you need to know.

2. Hoop Dreams

This movie showed the world what hoopin in Chicago was all about.

1. Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Skipping school.

Heading to Wrigley Field.

Hot Summer day.

Sitting in the bleachers.

Welcome to Chicago.

(BTW....this might be funnier because it's in German)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Top Ten Chicago Baseball Surprises

Barring a Sox collapse in these last 11 games, it appears both