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Friday, October 31, 2008

Top Ten Last Minute Halloween Costume Ideas

Like me, you are probably scrambling to secure a sweet outfit for Halloween at the last minute. Like me, you also enjoy sports quite a bit and wouldn't mind going as an athlete or sports personality. Here are some last minute ideas for male costumes. For female costumes just simply be a skanky (insert anything here) and have at it.

10. Ed Hochuli


The infamous NFL ref is perfect if you can secure a referee shirt and a whistle. When you are at your destination, simply blow your whistle when nothing is happening to disrupt everyone from what they are doing. It would also benefit you to work on those biceps before you go out because Hochuli is jacked.

9. Dennis Rodman

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If you have dyed hair, tattoos and a pierced genitalia then you are already halfway there. Now just simply wear women's clothes, leather or just go naked and you are all set.

8. Charlie Weis


Get a crew cut, some kind of Notre Dame shirt (someone you know has one), khaki pants, some pillows for added fat and some crutches. Now hike the khaki pants to your nipples and you're all set. As a bonus, grab a laminated sheet of paper (plays) and a headset for added effect.

7. UFC Fighter


Just wear some goofy looking surfing type shorts, an Affliction shirt and look and act like a meat head and you are all set. Bonus points for vaseline to difuse the punches you are about to take.

6. WNBA Player on Draft Night


You walk awkwardly in heels and so do they, perfect match. Now just wear a business type suit that is tight if at all possible and wear some lipstick and a WNBA hat and you are all set. Also, get a whig if possible to make it even better.

5. Adam Morrison

Grow a ratty looking mustache, don't wash your hair and chain smoke and dip all night (he reportedly does both even though he's a diabetic). Also in the middle of the party after something doesn't go your way (lose in beer pong, get shot down by a girl, etc.) go to the floor and start crying your eyes out.

4. Kyle Orton (Pre-2008)


Have a really weird looking beard (neck beard preferred), long hair and a constant supply of Jack Daniels bottles and look ridiculously goofy and or drunk in every photo taken.

3. Michael Phelps


Secure a swim cap, goggles and some kind of scuba outfit just to make it amusing. Then try to get gold medals or a Rosetta Stone Mandarin Edition learning guide and you are good as gold (sorry that lame joke had to be made.

2. Pacman Jones/Michael Vick


Rock an orange prison outfit with the jersey of the player you choose over it. Follow that by having a stack of money (dog fighting and strip clubs mean lots of cash) and have other supplies like dog collars or guns for added effect.

1. John Daly

Golf shirt, pillows for fat, miller lite, marlboro lites and hooters napkins for added effect. If you want bonus points then get a blonde mullet for 1980's John Daly.

There you have it folks, so easy last minute shopping for those without a costume.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Top Ten Chicago Athletes Who Belong on Reality TV

It seems like anyone can get a reality television show these days.

So it's only natural that a Chicago athlete would eventually make their way onto the scene. We have some of the craziest and most unique individuals in sports to choose from.

Here are the Top Ten we'd like to see.

10. Ronnie Woo Woo

I picture this show as something along the lines of 'The Flavor of Love'.

Get a room full of over served female bleacher bums together in a mansion and let them duke it out for the rights to Woo Woos'heart

9. Bears Offensive Line

A collection of massive human beings downing Jack Daniels and shooting guns with the FBI is definitely something I might be interested in.

8. Lou Pinella

'Getting Old with Lou Pinella' is actually more of an educational program for senior citizens than it is reality television.

Nursing homes nationwide tune in as Lou teaches how to play dumb when asked confusing questions and later on, will cover how to stare off in the distance like you have no idea what's going on.

7. Devin Hester

A take on Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie's show the 'Simple Life', Devin has to travel the country working as a molecular biologist, NASA engineer, balistics expert and more.

Soon after, Devin's trademark phrase from the show, "Huh?" gets added to Webster's Dictionary along side "Doh!".

6. Derrick Rose

Simply put, the TTCS crew worships Derrick Rose and would most likely watch him cut his lawn if it was on TV.

The next ten years are going to be sweet.

5. Juan Uribe

Uribe looks like he moonlights as a mob boss during the offseason at his home in the Dominican Republic.

The cameras would follow Juan around as he takes batting practice by day and breaks peoples legs by night. He's a whole different kind of crazy.

4. Patrick Kane

This one's more for the teenagers, but picture a Chicago version of the Hills.

Kane struggles to convince his parents that he's mature enough to stay out past ten and throws a tantrum when they won't let him get that new Gucci belt.

Parents just don't understand.

3. Ozzie Guillen

There's really no comparison to what this show would be like and it'd most likely have to be on HBO or Showtime.

Hilarity ensues when Ozzie downs a bottle of Patron and rips on Brian Anderson for an entire episode.

2. Ron Santo

Seeing Santo cry himself to sleep after every Cubs loss would be enough to make me watch.

1. Michael Jordan

Hope you don't mind, but I'm going to use a description of Jordan from our legendary "Top Ten Chicago Athletes We'd Like to Party With" list.

The Man. The Myth. The Legend.

Perhaps nobody outside of Charles Barkley and Charles Oakley truly knows how M. Jeff does it when out for a night on the town. But whispers of Jordan dropping tens of thousands of dollars in Atlantic City and rampant claims of his infidelities have only helped to define his legend.

Wouldn't you want to watch that?

Editor's note: If you would like some insight into what a night is like with Jordan, I suggest you watch this video narrated by Adult Film “Superstar” Kylie Ireland.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Top ten Chicago athletes who could make it in UFC

Truth be told, 1990's WWF is more our game than UFC. Still, with UFC making its Chicago debut last weekend, we were left thinking about Chicago athletes who could have been successful in mixed martial arts.

10. Alexei Ramirez

Fighter comparison: Anderson Silva

We know one thing: Alexei would have no problem cutting weight. And at 6-3, he'd probably be a lot taller than all the other skinny dudes he'd be fighting. Reach, brah. Also, and I'm not sure why I believe this, but I'm almost positive Alexei could throw killer knees and elbows.

9. Mac Koshwal

Fighter comparison: Cheick Kongo

He's 6-9, 235 and runs the floor like someone half his size. Also: no one knows who he is. That's a recipe for a fighter if I've ever heard one.

8. Ron Zook

Fighter comparison: Randy Couture

Ron Zook pisses intensity. That much is true. We're just unsure if the Zooker could ever dedicate himself to anything more than texting 16-year old boys. And we mean that as sort of a complement, I guess.

7. Nick Swisher

Fighter comparison: Keith Jardine

Swish's greatest asset could be his versatility, which would serve him well in MMA. He certainly already has the look of an MMA fighter.

6. Dusty Dvoracek

Fighter comparison: Andrei Arlovski

UFC fighters aren't always the strongest guys in the world, or the most athletic. But they are usually the craziest. Dvoracek has a history of anger problems. He was also a recovering alcoholic before turning 21. He should fit right in.

5. Joakim Noah

Fighter comparison: Paulo Cesar de Silva

We just hope Noah's post-fight celebration would be the same dance he uses to fire up the Bulls before the start of each game.

4. Carlos Quentin

Fighter comparison: BJ Penn

Being a UFC fighter requires great discipline. Quentin's .394 on-base percentage should suffice.

3. Adam Burish

Fighter comparison: Forest Griffin

Really, I was just torn on who would make the better UFC fighter: Burish or Pat Kane. Slight, slight edge to Burish.

2. Brian Urlacher

Fighter comparison: Brock Lesnar

Urlacher and Lesnar actually have a lot in common. Both come from small towns, are soft spoken, have rad tattoos, and moonlight as freak athletes. But only one is married to Sable. Advantage: Lesnar.

1. Carlos Zambrano

Fighter comparison: Chuck Liddell

Power, anger, agression, craziness. Z is everything you want in a top notch MMA fighter. Let's just hope Lou Piniella isn't managing him as a figher, or Z may not enter the octagon until the second round of a fight.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Top Ten Cubs off-season steps/moves


The 2008 Cubs were probably the best team in the NL. Unfortunately, that did not translate in the postseason for the second straight year. The good news for the Cubs is that they do not need to do all that much to be a 90+-win team in 2009. However, there are some major issues that need to be addressed, as some of their top pitchers have become free agents. Also, the free agent market is full of players who can make an instant impact.

Unfortunately, the Cubs are already committed to something like 130MM after arbitration (2007 payroll ended up a little under 130MM by seasons end). This means they will probably have to dump a salary or two via trade to be able to sign their very valuable pitching free agents and a lefty bat. The Cubs have talked about increasing their payroll, but by how much (140MM or maybe 150MM)? Here are some steps the Cubs could possibly make and their potential roster for next year*.

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10. Re-sign Dempster
This will be the Cubs #1 off-season priority. Dempster was the Cubs rock in the rotation and led the Cubs with a VORP of 57.5, while boasting a 17-6 record with a 2.96 ERA. To put it in perspective, the closest Cubs pitcher to Dempster’s value was Carlos Zambrano with a VORP of 35.7. Turning 32, this will probably be Dempster’s last contract and he will want something in the range of four years and 14MM per. If the Cubs don’t move pieces they will have to choose between him and Kerry Wood, without adding a lefty bat the Cubs front office has been talking about.

9. Re-sign Kerry Wood
Wood is secondary to Dempster, but signing him is extremely important because of the depth he adds to the pen. Sure, Carlos Marmol may be ready to close and is probably the more dominant pitcher, but without Wood the Cubs bullpen becomes very ordinary. Like Dempster, Wood, who is also turning 32, is looking at his final big contract and will ask for something around 3 years and 10MM per. Hopefully, Wood, as a “Chicago-guy”, will give Jim Hendry a hometown deal for less.

8. Minor details
The Cubs should either implement their 3MM team option for Henry Blanco or try to negotiate a contract for less. I hope they do the ladder, because every dollar will be important. They also need not worry with arbitration contracts, as nobody will be making a Ryan Howard-esk 10MM dollar case. They also need to re-evaluate Rich Hill and have a pretty good idea where he is at and what they can do with him (trade bait?) by spring training (he is currently pitching in Venezuela). Also, move Kosuke Fukudome to CF NOW. Even if he hits as poorly as he did this year, it is easier to forgive those numbers as a platoon centerfielder with Reed Johnson.

7. Trade Jason Marquis
Marquis is set to make 9.875MM in 2009 and seems to be very expendable with Sean Marshal showing that he is ready to become a full-time starting pitcher. Marshal's VORP was only about seven points less than Marquis in about 100 less innings, (VORP correlate positively with amount of innings you pitch, unless you suck) which exemplifies how expendable Marquis is. Add to the fact that Hill could be back to 2007 form and Marquis becomes a luxury. This trade would be pretty much a straight salary dump to free up some cash to re-sign Dempster and Wood and possible allow for a lefty bat.

6. Trade Derrek Lee
Trading both Lee and Marquis would guarantee enough money to add a lefty bat and re-sign both Wood and Dempster. There has been rumors about Lee going to SF for a young arm, which would be peachy, but again I would gladly take the money (13MM through 2010). Before I go further, I know what you are saying, “But it’s Derrek Lee.” I know, I know. But Lee is on the natural downside of his career. Since his career year in 2005 (minus 2006 when he got hurt), Lee’s OPS+ has dropped from 174 to 131 in 2007 to 110 this year. It’s nothing against the 32-year-old, it’s just that he is getting old and becoming average. The Cubs have an easy replacement in Mark DeRosa (21 HR, 118 OPS+) and Micah Hoffpauir.

5. Sign Rafael Furcal
This would kind of be a ballsy move by Hendry, but SS is probably the one position that the Cubs could upgrade the most in. Ryan Theriot was very solid this year and got on base at a solid .387 clip, but he is a below average fielder, doesn’t steal bases at an efficient enough rate or hit enough extra bases to declare him an indispensable everyday player (93 OPS+). I do not think the Cubs will go this way because Furcal will be VERY expensive, but he would fill the leadoff hitter need, has good speed, above average fielding ability and steals bases extremely efficiently. This would also make Theriot and Ronny Cedeno movable, while adding depth to the bench.

4. Sign Bobby Abreu or Adam Dunn or trade for Brian Giles
This is probably the route the Cubs will go. This is an easy move for Hendry if he is able to dump one of the larger contracts above (if the payroll is 150MM) and a definite move if they dump both.

Abreu’s career slash stats are .300/.405/.498. He is getting old but has shown no signs of slowing offensively. However, his defense is below average and the Cubs may hesitate to go after him if they have concerns with him playing a very tough Wrigley Field right field. He should be asking around 10MM per for maybe two years.

Dunn, on the other hand, is younger and provides more pop, equal OBP and probably a little worse right field. He would require a much larger and longer commitment, making him a tough sign even if the contract is back loaded – something around 14MM per for four years.

Giles is an upgrade defensively, but would be a downgrade offensively compared to Abreu or Dunn. He would be cheaper at 9MM and only a one-year commitment. However, this would require Giles to drop his no-trade clause in his contract.

Personally, I don’t like Raul Ibanez or Mark Kotsay for this position because they are aging and showing it. Also a young Jeremy Hermida might be a possibility.

3. Trust your system
The Cubs have depth on their bench. Mike Fontenot showed why he was drafted in the first round (131 OPS+), while Micah Hoffpauir has put up these numbers: .340 AVG, 41 HR and 173 RBI in 153 games the last two years in Iowa. The thing that worries me about Hoffpauir is his high strikeout verse low walk rate. Furthermore, DeRosa’s flexibility gives the bench even more depth, allowing Lou Piniella to mix and match at will.

The system is also full of power arms like Jeff Samardzija, Jose Ascanio, Kevin Hart and Angel Guzman. The Cubs also seemed to be very high on the left handed Randy Wells. Interestingly enough, Guzman was considered the one of the best arms in the world at one point and should come back even stronger next year after having Tommy John surgery last year.

2. Rotation and bullpen
1. Dempster--------------------Swing Gaudin
2. Lilly--------------------------RP Via trade or Hart or Wuertz
3. Zabrano----------------------RP Guzman or Wuertz
4. Marshal/Hill------------------RP Cotts
5. Harden-----------------------RP Samardjiza
6. Gaudin-----------------------SU Marmol
---------------------------------CL Wood

1. Lineup, positions and bench
1. Furcal or Soriano------------------C Soto
2. DeRosa or Fontenot or Theriot---1B Hoffpauir or DeRosa
3. Abreu or Dunn-------------------2B DeRosa or Fontenot
4. Ramirez--------------------------3B Ramirez
5. Soriano---------------------------SS Furcal or Theriot
6. Hoffpauir or DeRosa--------------LF Soriano
7. Soto------------------------------CF Fukudome/Johnson
8. Fukudome/Johnson---RF Abreu or Dunn or DeRosa/Hoffpauir
9. Pitcher

C Blanco
CIF/COF Hoffpauir
INF Fontenot
OF Pie or INF Cedeno
OF Johnson/Fukudome

*This is all speculation. For example if a the Rays don’t use their club option on Carl Crawford, he may become the Cubs #1 free agency pick up to fill their CF need. Or they just don't do anything.

From the archive: Top Ten potential moves on the south side

Top Ten Myths About the Bears

By Danny Sheridan
Kyle Orton and Matt Forte have been most responsible for the Bears averaging 28 points through seven games. Actually, the bigger reason that the Bears have been such a surprise offensively is the play of the offensive line, which people thought would be one of the league's worst groups. That's one myth about the Bears. Here are 10 more.

10. Jerry Angelo is totally cluelessCriticize Angelo for his failure to make good early round picks, giving Tommie Harris that big contract extension a month before training camp and not putting the franchise tag on Bernard Berrian, but give him some credit for one thing: there might not be a better GM in football at finding late second day draft steals. Look at some of the guys Angelo has chosen in the fifth round or later in the last few years: Kevin Payne, Corey Graham, Mark Anderson, Chris Harris, and Josh Beekman (last pick in the fourth round). Does that make up for wasting early picks on Cedric Benson, Michael Haynes, Mark Bradley, and Dan Bazuin? No, but I’m just saying.

9. The bye week came at a perfect time There’re two ways of looking at this. On one hand, the Bears are very banged up right now, with Tillman, Vasher, Lloyd, Hester, and Harris all nursing injuries. Then there’s my way. In a perfect world, the Bears bye would have come one week later, after their game against Detroit, who they could beat missing half their team. That would have given them two weeks off heading into the toughest stretch of their season: Tennessee, at Green Bay, at St. Louis, and at Minnesota.

8. The Bears should be at least 6-1It’s easy to say if not for Greg Olsen’s two fumbles, Tillman’s bonehead penalty, and Lovie Smith’s decision to squib kick, the Bears could be 7-0. Then again, if not for a fortunate goal-line stand (the Eagles play calling was ridiculous), and two fluke touchdowns on special teams against the Vikings, the Bears would have lost both those games. Really good teams find ways to win at the end of games, something the Bears are still figuring out.

7. The NFC North sucks
Outside of the NFC East, it’s the best division in the NFC, even with Detroit threatening to go winless. This is basically the same Packers team, with the exception at quarterback, that won 13 games and nearly got to the Super Bowl last year. Aaron Rodgers is neck and neck with Orton for the title of the division’s best QB and seems to be getting better every game. Minnesota started slow last season too, so you can’t count them out either. I wouldn’t be surprised if it came down to the Bears/Packers Monday night game at Soldier Field right before Christmas.

6. Corey Graham should start over Nathan Vasher
When David Haugh suggested that when Vasher gets back, Graham should still be the starter opposite Tillman, my eyes nearly bulged out. Then this past week, I’ve heard a lot of other people express the same sentiment. Did anyone else see Matt Ryan and Gus Frerotte absolutely tear apart the Bears secondary? Graham is a nice player, and an incredible story considering he didn’t play at all on defense last year. Still, the Bears didn’t pay Vasher 28 million for him to be the league’s best nickel back. And him missing nearly all of last season with a quad injury was probably the biggest reason the defense as a whole took such a big step backwards.

5. It’s time to dump the cover-2 defense
Since every NFL team plays some form of it, there must be a reason why it’s so popular. Like any defense, cover-1, zone, man-to-man- it’s all about execution. That means the Bears can’t have any more games where the defensive line gets no sacks or fails to generate consistent pressure. It helps to have both starting cornerbacks out there too, which was the case when the Bears shut down Peyton Manning and Jake Dellhomme. We’ve seen the bad (Marcus Hamilton not getting deep enough against Atlanta), and the good (Zack Bowman’s pick that sealed the Vikings win) of the cover-2 these last two games.

4. The Bears can continue to pass their way to winsI’m guaranteeing right now that what we saw against the Vikings we won’t see again this season from the Bears. Orton isn’t that good, the wide receivers aren’t that good, and the offensive line isn’t good enough for the Bears to think they can win games by being a passing team first and a running team second. In the last four games, Forte has averaged less than three yards a carry. If that continues, they'll will be lucky to win eight games. I’ll admit though, watching the Bears score 48 points by throwing the ball all over the field was really cool.

3. Devin Hester has lost valueOkay, so he’s not going to have six returns for touchdowns like he did in each of his first two years. And he has looked, well awful, on the majority of his returns. His blockers certainly haven’t helped much either. With all that said, he still has had a big effect on games. Just having Hester on the field has helped the Bears rank fourth in the NFL with an average position following kickoffs starting at their own 30.1 yard-line. He has also turned into a solid number two receiver, and reports are that the Bears may experiment with the Dolphins wildcat formation, using Hester in the Ronnie Brown role.

2. The Bears have seven “Pro Bowlers" on defenseTechnically, that’s correct, but of those seven, only Briggs and Tillman have played like Pro Bowlers this season. Urlacher, who still hasn’t figured out how to get off blocks, is only the third best middle linebacker in the NFC North. Harris has been a complete bust, and has quickly turned into the team’s most overrated player, surpassing even Olin Kreutz. Vasher has been injured, while Ogunleye hasn’t come close to reaching the level he played at last season. Having Brown healthy is obviously an upgrade over Danieal Manning, but even he has yet to deliver the big plays he has made a career out of. The Bears best defensive player so far? Alex Brown.

1. Kyle Orton is turning into an elite quarterbackOrton’s stats after seven games this season: 10 TD, 4 INT, 1669 yards, 62.2 completion percentage, 91.4 QB rating. Rex Grossman’s stats after seven games in 2006: 13 TD, 6 INT, 1639 yards, 61.4 completion percentage, 94.4 QB rating. I know that quarterback play has been so bad here for so long, and that it’s easy to see that Orton is no Grossman, but still let’s take it slow.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Top Ten Reasons the Bulls WILL Make the Playoffs

So my esteemed colleague and TTCS Capo Matt Olsen wrote yesterday's top ten post about the mediocrity of the Chicago Bulls and how they will not make the playoffs. Today it is time to debunk some myths and explore why this once proud franchise will return to glory and the playoffs this season.

The only mediocre thing about the Bulls right now is the lack of Ray Clay and the horrendous excuse for a dance team known as the Luvabulls. During the season ticket holder open practice at the United Center two weekends ago these "beautiful ladies" went through the same lame Bon Jovi dance routine as last season. What they didn't have time to learn a new dance during the offseason? The Blackhawks ice girls are clearly stealing their thunder, step your game up Luvabulls.

10. Drew Gooden

The man with the goofy beard and distinguished collegiate career is back and in a contract year. Gooden has been a double figure scorer his entire career and when he gets decent minutes he averages at least eight rebounds a game. Throw in the fact that big men hustle their butts off in contract years and Gooden could be a nice little surprise this year.

9. No Major Contract Distractions

Now that Deng has signed a long-term contract extension, Gordon is an unrestricted free agent next year and Hinrich has gotten over the first year extension jitters there are no reasons the Bulls will be distracted by money. Hinrich and Deng are happy and financially secure and Gordon needs to play his way into a $10 million a year contract for some team besides the Bulls that is willing to pay him.

8. Larry Hughes is out 6-8 weeks

I'm just kidding, but not really...

7. The mediocre Eastern Conference

The Eastern Conference is again extremely mediocre. The top tier teams the Celtics and Pistons are a year older and the only major player to switch to the East was Elton Brand. While the Magic, 76ers and Raptors will be improved there are so many bottom feeders here it's a joke. The Bulls are supposed to be scared of teams like the Bucks, Pacers, Knicks and Nets. I just don't buy it.

6. A potent fast break

Now that we have a real point guard who loves to push tempo and create plays it is time that we run the hell out of the ball. Our big guys are actually decent at getting up and down the floor (not you Aaron Gray) and we have good enough shooters to let Rose go to the basket and kick out to a midrange threat (Deng) or a long range threat (Gordon). Rose adds the whole new dimension of someone who can finish in transition something the Bulls have been missing for a long time.

5. No Ben Wallace

I cannot even begin to explain how much damage Big Ben did to last season's team. By sulking, demanding respect and demanding to take jumpers Wallace split himself away from the team and got himself traded. There is no doubt Wallace was an astronomical mistake and it is probably the reason Paxson is so shy to make another major shakeup since.

4. Natural Growth

Sometimes teams improve the most when they have a couple years to gel and play together. Now that this still young core has been together a couple years things could turn out okay. Basketball teams take a lot of time to play well together and this Bulls team was pretty damn good two years ago with mostly the same roster.

3. Coaching Staff

Now as I agree with Matt Olsen yesterday, Vinny is in over his head right now and will probably make some mistakes. So how is the coaching staff be No. 3 on this list? For one, the assistants Vinny surrounded himself with are top notch guys who he can rely on quickly. Del Harris and Bernie Bickerstaff are veteran NBA guys who have been in the league a long, long time and Pete Myers was the one assistant that Bulls players responded to last season. This team will not quit on Vinny like they did Skiles and Boylan because he is not a drill sergeant or completely over his head like the other two.

2. Health

There was one game I attended last season where the two best players on the floor were Kirk Hinrich and Danny Granger. I also spent $75 for the ticket. Now that Deng, Gordon (the toe is minor) and Nocioni are in better health we should have a more complete team. Couple that with the decent amount of young depth the Bulls have and they should be more prepared to withstand injuries.

1. Derrick Rose

Will he have some first-year jitters? Absolutely. Will his shot struggle at times? Yes. Is he still a winner and dynamic athlete and point guard who makes all of his teammates better? You better believe it. Derrick Rose will lead this team as far as it can go and that makes me like my chances a lot more.

From the Archive:
Top Ten Reasons the Bulls WONT Make the Playoffs

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Top Ten Reasons Why the Bulls WON'T Make the Playoffs

Last year they were supposed to contend for the Eastern Conference title.

Last year they were supposed to make the leap to the upper echelon of the NBA.

Instead they failed to make the playoffs, ended up 16 games under .500, fired Scott Skiles and left fans grasping at straws trying to figure out why.

Unfortunately things won't get better this year Bulls fans and another summer spent trying to figure out why is imminent.

10. Who's Number Two?

Derrick Rose is going to be the focal point of this team. He's going to be counted upon to be the face of the franchise, the savior, the everything to the Bulls.

But every great player needs a great sidekick to win in this league and I'm not sure the Bulls have one.

Luol Deng is positioned to be, and thought to be the best sidekick option for Rose. But this only comes years after Pax steadfastly believed Deng would be the number one.

There's absolutely no question he's got the skills to play the role, but whether or not he grabs it instead of just taking it is going to be the difference maker for him and this team.

9. Brutal Schedule Early

In order, the Bulls play at Magic, at Cavs, Suns, Cavs, Hawks, Mavs, Pacers, at Lakers, at Trail Blazers, at Warriors, at Nuggets, at Jazz, at Spurs, at 76ers.

Look at those games and honestly tell me how many games you think the Bulls will walk away with.

Momentum is a funny thing and the Bulls may not find out what momentum actually is until the first week of December when they might win a few games in a row.

8. The East is Alive

For years the perception has been that the power of the NBA resides solely in the West.

Slowly but surely the power has been migrating back towards being even, if it's not there already. One of the toughest tests for a young team like the Bulls is beating the teams you're supposed to. Learning how to go for the jugular late in games is an acquired skill for most, but a genetic trait for guys like Kobe Bryant.

There's some stiff competition in the East, even from the lowly teams like the Pacers, Hawks and Bobcats. This Bulls team is going to struggle to consistently play with the same hard nosed mentality former coach Scott Skiles so desperately tried to instill.

7. Slow Down Young Man

I love his effort, but Tyrus Thomas needs to understand how to let the game come to him and quit playing 150 mph whenever he steps onto the court.

The energy he puts forth is off the charts, but that's not enough if you're committing turnover after turnover while failing to recognize where the open man is when you're trapped in the paint.

6. Team of Bench Players

I've heard people describe this team as being one of the deepest in the Association.

But the entire roster, outside of Derrick Rose and Luol Deng, probably wouldn't start on any other team in the league. If there's one thing Pax is good at it's finding blue collared bench players willing to play selfless basketball night in and night out.

Yet the Bulls are in desperate need of some special players and not just good players. Derrick Rose is a start, but right now there's nobody on this team I could count on in a close game late in the season.

5. He's Good, But He's Still a Rookie

You're not going to find a bigger Derrick Rose fan than me.

But the truth of the matter is D. Rose is still a rookie and will have some ugly affairs throughout his first season as a pro. The point guard position is the hardest to learn in the pros and despite his freakish talent and basketball I.Q., Rose is going to struggle.

He's going to win us some games and he's going to lose us a game here and there. But with a guy like him you'll gladly let him work through it because he's going to be a top ten player in the league someday.

4. Nope, Still No Interior Defense or Offense

As bad as we thought things were when Ben Wallace was still on the team, prepare to see something a whole lot worse with him gone.

Teams will realize early on that the Bulls have a pretty good perimeter defense and will instead choose to attack down low early and often. Everyone proclaims the NBA is now built for the guard position, but don't forget the best guards in the league can drive the lane and the Bulls don't have anyone to stop them.

Who are you scared of down low on this team?

Aaron Gray?

Let me put it to you this way: Over/Under on how many posters you'll see Aaron Gray getting dunked on next year? At least six.

3. The "I'm Gonna Get Mine" Factor

This is primarily for Larry Hughes and Ben Gordon, but could extend to anyone on this team is the ship starts sinking early on in the season.

The writing is on the wall, so to speak, for these two guys and this year serves as the only opportunity for them to build a highlight reel before they're kicked to the curb.

You can already see Hughes chucking up shots at will in the preseason and things will progressively get worse as the season wears on. Same too goes for Little Ben when he finally gets over having a very sore big toe.

Winning games won't be nearly important to them as putting up impressive stat lines that will entitle them to big money contracts in the future.

2. Trigger Shy GM

The same guy who passed up a deal that could have brought Kobe Bryant to Chicago is the guy who is responsible for some how clearing up the log jam the Bulls have at the guard positions.

It's essential for Pax to somehow move anyone at that position for something in return that will help this team. With Kirk Hinrich, Ben Gordon, Thabo Sefolosha, Larry Hughes and Derrick Rose all fighting for playing time, it's obvious someone has to go.

But the problem is Pax is too hesitant to pull the trigger on a deal and there's a strong possibility this conundrum will remain for the entire season.

1. Rookie Coach

Let's not forget how we ended up with Vinnie Del Negro. Instead of going out and getting the guy we wanted, Pax and Reinsdorf decided to play games and eventually got burned.

The bottom line is My Coach Vinnie has no idea what he's doing. Oh sure, he's been around the game for a very long time, but strolling the sidelines as the head coach is something he's never experienced.

Some guys go their entire lives working up to the big show, but Vinnie bypassed all of that and landed the head gig for one of the most storied franchises in the NBA.

Realistically I'd mark down at least five automatic losses due to his inexperience.

Top ten teams in the NBA’s Eastern Conference

Part two of the TTCS NBA preview

10. Milwaukee Bucks

Richard Jefferson and Michael Redd are better right now than any player Scott Skiles coached during his Bulls’ tenure. We know a Skiles team will play great defense. Sure, the Bucks will be going with an unproven lead guard. This isn’t a very deep crew either. Maybe a playoff berth is too much to ask for in Year One, but Skiles will have Milwaukee competitive.

9. Toronto Raptors

Toronto has two big reasons to think they can make the playoffs for the third consecutive season: a) the departure of TJ Ford means more minutes for the wonderful Jose Calderon, and b) Jermaine O’Neal could prove to be the biggest addition any team made in the offseason. But O’Neal hasn’t been healthy in five (!) seasons, and there isn’t a lot of depth here. More than anything, the Raptors need Andrea Bargnani to start playing like a number one overall pick. We’ll believe that can happen when we see it.

8. Chicago Bulls

Before everyone starts throwing tomatoes with “HOME TEAM BIAS” written in sharpie at me, hear me out. Derrick Rose will make an impact immediately. Drew Gooden is in his prime (27) and playing for a new contract. Tyrus Thomas is looking at consistent minutes for the first time as a pro. Luol Deng doesn’t have to worry about trade talk or contract extensions. Maybe Vinnie Del Negro won’t hate Ben Gordon. And also remember that last year the Hawks grabbed the eighth seed at 37-45. These Bulls should win over 40 games. That means a spot in the playoffs.

7. Miami Heat

No team this side of Boston can match stars with the Heat. Wade is one of the league’s ten best players, and he’s looking to prove it after missing nearly all of last season. Michael Beasley will be able to fill it up out of the gate, and don’t forget how good of a player Shawn Marion is. Also don’t forget that Marion could be playing for a contract. Granted, this ranking is dependent on Mario Chalmbers living up to his considerable hype, but a mid-40s win total doesn’t seem too unrealistic for team that won just 15 games year.

6. Washington Wizards

Gilbert Arenas is out until the winter. Luckily for Washington, playing without its star is nothing new. Caron Butler was flat out awesome last year, and Antwaan Jamison should be eager to prove he’s worth his new contract. Expect the Wiz to tread water until Gil comes back- and then take off.

5. Orlando Magic

The Magic were arguably the NBA’s biggest surprise last year, improving by 12 wins from the previous season. Can this team win 52 games again? We doubt it. While Dwight Howard should only get more dominant, Hedo Turkoglu played over his head last year. There isn’t much depth here, either. Still, there should be enough in Orlando for another playoff birth.

4. Cleveland Cavaliers

If there was VORP for baseball, LeBron’s rating would be off the charts. Imagine how bad Cleveland would be with a normal NBA small forward. The King’s supporting cast should be better this year too, with last year’s trade pieces now fully integrated into the system. The addition of Mo Williams won’t hurt either. Expect a historically good season from LeBron. Maybe that’ll even include his second Finals birth.

3. Detroit Pistons

They wanted Flip Saunders gone and there he went. But will the veterans still give Michael Curry max effort? The Pistons chances in the postseason may be up to Rodney Stuckey, Jason Maxiell, and Amir Johnson. If the young guys can provide Detroit with big minutes during the NBA’s endless regular season, the Pistons will be dangerous once again in the playoffs.

2. Philadelphia 76ers

Thaddeus Young is the key to this team. He played well last year as a rookie; if he continues to improve, Philadelphia will be as tough as any team in the East. Elton Brand didn’t come to Philly just for the money. He’s ready to win. The 76ers are too.

1. Boston Celtics


Check out TUP for my Bulls season preview.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Top Ten Chicago-based college football surprises

College football is an interesting beast in Chicago. Most people’s allegiances are either based on where their parents went to school or which team was most relevant at the time that they formed their sports allegiances. For me it was Notre Dame. For others, it was Northwestern or Illinois. Each of these three teams has had surprising seasons for different reasons. Here are the top ten.

10. Jimmy Clausen

To be fair to Clausen, his line was atrocious last year and the skill positions were very young. Even so Clausen looked over his head last year. People seemed to forget that he was a true freshman and that he was running a new system. Well, Clausen has met all expectations that could have been placed on the sophomore. The Cali native has thrown for 272 yards/game and 14 TD to 8 picks. He has taken HUGE strides and should be in the Heisman debate for the next two years.

9. Illinois' Defense

This unit wasn’t supposed to be awesome but everybody expected them to be better than this. This defense allowed 52 points against Missouri, 38 points against Penn State and a shocking 27 points to an upstart Minnesota team. Even after Illinois beat down Indiana last weekend, they are still giving up over 354 yards/game. Not a good sign for a team that wanted to take the next step into national relevance.

8. Arrelious Benn

The Illinois wide out was supposed to be the man, but he has been a world-beater this year. He is averaging just under 100 yards/game receiving and seems to be open whenever Illinois needs a first down. However, Benn has also been a disappointment on special teams. He was supposed to be a game changer there as well, but it has not panned out.

7. Notre Dame's running game

Armando Allen, Robert Hughes and James Aldridge have been a three-headed monster for the Fighting Irish. ND has increased its running production by 25 yards/game and gives defenses more than just Clausen to worry about. It legitimizes their offense and keeps the defense fresh.

6. Northwestern's offensive line

The line has been spectacular this season and is the primary reason Northwestern is now bowl eligible. After allowing 32 sacks in 2007, the line has only allowed five in about half as many opportunities.

5. Golden Tate

A problem the 2007 ND offense had was that they did not have a go-to receiver. This year Tate has stepped up and has become the playmaker the Irish and Clausen desperately needed. He is averaging 18.5 yards/catch and over 86 yards/game. Add a team leading 28 grabs and four touchdowns and Tate has become the wide out that Weis has been looking for.

4. Notre Dame's offensive line


Just like Northwester, ND’s line was simply terrible in 2007. They allowed 58 sacks last year. 58!!! This year in half as many games they have cut that number down to seven. The line has also opened up holes for the running backs that were not there in 2007, giving ND a viable running game, as the Irish are averaging just over 101 yards/game on the ground this season.

3. Illinois

The fighting Illini are this high up on the list simply because they lost to Minnesota. The Golden Gophers have been a shock in the Big Ten, but Illinois was supposed to roll them. Instead they came out flat and lost to an inferior ‘Sota team. Add on losses to Missouri and Penn State and 2008 has been a disappointment for Illinois thus far.

2. Juice Williams

Juice was the athletic, run-first quarterback that had all the potential in the world, but just could not get over the hump. Well, in 2008, that has all changed. After spending sometime with Donovan McNabb in the summer, Juice has finally become the complete quarterback Ron Zook always talked about. Juice is not just chucking the ball and running when he feels pressure anymore, but reading defenses and picking them apart. The QB is still running though at nearly a 70-yards/game clip and throwing for over 278 yards/game, combining for 21 TD total.*

*Sorry for the type size. It would not change for whatever reason.

1. Northwestern

During my college summers my friends and I would rent an apartment in Evanston -- a place where we could cause all kinds of shenanigans. This is how I met C.J. Bacher. He was a cocky 18-year-old freshman, partying in the apartment above us. I remember that he always carried a football with him, just so people knew he played football. Kind of lame, I know. He rubbed me the wrong way.

Thus, it pleases me that Bacher has never really progressed as a passer, but also that his team has in all facets of the game around him. I kind of like seeing NU do well and they have been a huge surprise in the Big Ten. They are already bowl eligible and have a chance to win nine or 10 games as they face very beatable teams like Indiana, Minnesota, Michigan and Illinois.

Top Ten Bears surprises

With Chicago off next week and no football for the next 13 days, what better way to start this break than by discussing the Bears so far this season. Their fourth win of the year matches my season prediction. And while many went into the campaign with similar thoughts, few could have expected these results. They have done nothing but surprise; to the point where they could very well be 7-0. Below are ten particular surprises to the season thus far.

10. The punt team
While the special teams has always been very solid, this year's punt return team has been sensational. Three touchdowns have resulted in special teams, two against the Vikings yesterday. Rookie Zach Bowman looked awesome and made one of the most heads-up plays when he knocked the returner into the ball then pounced on it for six.

9. Devin Hester
I used to feel that when punting to the Bears it was the most entertaining 15 seconds in sports. I don't feel that way anymore. Hester seems to have lost that fifth gear that used to leave defenders in his wake. In his defense, the blocking has not always been there but what was so unique about Hester in the past was that it seemed like his elusiveness allowed him to not even need great blocking. He is catching passes now though and talking trash after doing so. No one can try and tell me that doesn't somewhat make up for it.

8. Front seven
Last year's front seven gave up a lot of yards based solely on Babich's play calling. But he seemed to have taken a page out of Ron Rivera's playbook, mainly by keeping Urlacher in coverage as oppose to blitzing. When Urlacher blitzes, the Bears lose. The front seven has locked up runners and with an exception of this week, no tailback has run for over 100 yards. (Without Peterson's 57-yard scamper, his numbers would have been modest.)

7. Corners
For as good as the line and linebackers have looked, there have definitely been holes with the corners of late. Tillman looked good but has been hurt, And his replacements have given up a lot of big plays. McBride and Graham had picks yesterday but they have been continuously burned, and I do not even want to get into Hamilton. Vasher and/or Peanut need to come back (at least one of them) soon, or this could get ugly.

6. Mike Brown
With an exception of 2006, Mike Brown's health has symbolized the Bear's success throughout his career. When healthy, the team can't be stopped. When hurt though, the team plays as if they're hurt. You have to love a safety who would rather knock a guy's head off than get a pick.

5. Three losses
As stated earlier, the Bears could and should be 7-0. But the losses that occurred happened in heart-breaking fashion. While I praised Babich's play calling, inside of 2:00 in the fourth quarter, everything becomes suspect. The corners bend but don't break, often giving up unnecessarily huge gains.

4. O-line
Who would have thought Orton would continuously have five seconds to throw the ball against a front four that included Jared Allen and Pat and Kevin Williams? Not to mention they are doing so without first-round pick Chris Williams. But the old group of men are looking ten years younger and giving Orton all the time he needs as well as Forte the gaps he needs on a continuous basis.

3. Matt Forte
Everyone had high expectations for the rookie out of Tulane, but after a subpar preseason, many began to doubt they were going to get much out of the running game. But Forte has more yards rushing than LT and Steven Jackson (ranks 5th overall). The line has looked good yes, but Forte has vision beyond his years.

2. Receiving
There were so many question marks going into the season, and the receivers were one of them. I personally feel that receivers are the least important people on the field because so many people, at any level of football, can catch passes. Whether you believe in that or not is up to you, but this corp of wideouts have proven that there isn't a need for a star receiver. No receiver on the Bears has more than 20 catches, yet five guys on the team have at least 14, and all but one has scored. Orton's ability to use any of his guys has led to the team's success.

1. Kyle Orton
No doubt about it, Orton is not only the biggest surprise of the Bears but of the NFL. He ranks eighth in the league in yards, 85 more than Peyton Manning. He has eight touchdowns to four interceptions and has done far more than just control the game. He has attacked the secondary, threaded needles and played with confidence.

From the archives: Top Ten Things We Know About the Bears & Top Ten Keys to a Bears Playoff Run

Friday, October 17, 2008

Top Ten Terrible Chicago Coaches

There has been a lot of losing in Chicago. While we still have six Bulls titles, the White Sox 2005 and the greatest football team of all time it has been quite a drought for the Blackhawks and Cubs. Couple that with complete mediocrity in most seasons by the aforementioned teams and Chicago has done a fair share of losing; and badly.

We've had some absolutely awful coaches and today TTCS breaks down ten of the worst. Since the incompetence has reached a new high in the last couple years we are only doing coaches since 1990.

10. Jerry Manuel

Now he may have never coached an awful team like I previously mentioned but he is the absolute king of managing a .500 team. While he never dipped below 75 wins or third place as the Sox skipper he also never got past 86 wins or second place besides the division title team of 2000. May I remind you that team, with home field, was swept.

9. Dick Jauron

Jauron is a really nice guy. He's also a mediocre coach. Besides the magical 2001 campaign where the Bears went 13-3 (with an astounding 8-0 record in games decided by seven or less) Jauron was often putting the Bears in contention for high draft picks and Jerry Angelo screw ups. 0-1 in the playoffs just simply doesn't cut it in Chicago.

8. Dusty Baker

Now I know I'm going to get criticized mightily for not having Dusty in the top three but he at least came close to making a World Series in Chicago and tasted much more professional coaching success outside Chicago than anyone else here as well. He is also the only person alive who has faith in Corey Patterson and can run a pitching staff into the ground faster than former Brewers manager Ned Yost.

7. Bill Cartwright

Cartwright as a player was a quiet leader who provided pride and wisdom in the locker room of a championship team. Coach Bill Cartwright couldn't win games, couldn't control his team and worst of all couldn't develop big men Eddy Curry and Tyson Chandler into anything remotely resembling a player or a leader. Again, he's a nice guy (just like the three I mentioned above, sense a theme here?) but his leadership style wasn't good for coaching a young team.

6. Terry Bevington

Bevington had two 1/2 years in Chicago where he took some really good White Sox teams.... and did nothing with them. Again a 221-214 record is not bad but in Chicago championships and playoff births are something we as fans deserve. Take that .500 and mediocrity to some small market team like Kansas City and let the big boys call the shots.

5. Don Baylor

187-220 is an awful record for three years of baseball. Especially when you have a slugger like Sammy Sosa dominating and putting up MVP like numbers every year you were there. It doesn't help that the Cubs promptly made the NLCS the year after Baylor left either.

4. Chicago Blackhawks coaches from 1998-99 through 2000-01

Three seasons and four coaches. Dirk Graham, Lorne Molleken, Bob Pulford and Alpo Suhonen made the Blackhawks franchise an absolute laughing stock in those years while putting some terribly undisciplined teams on the ice. Alpo was the final straw with his year of country club style coaching where players had little regard for anything team oriented. While the Blackhawks might have still been bad most of the years after these four left the picture at least they were coached with some teams that showed some discipline.

3. Jim Boylan

The career assistant was so over his head in every way last season it wasn't even funny. Awful losses, a team that didn't like him and the worst press conferences in the ESPNEWS era led for the city to strongly dislike Boylan and whatever it was he did as "coach".

2. Dave Wannstedt

Wannstedt was actually the hottest name in coaching when the Bears hired him in January of 1993. Sometimes that doesn't mean squat (see Rams, Scott Linehan). Wannie led the Bears to one playoff appearance in six seasons while posting an awful 41-57 record. After back to back 4-12 seasons Wannie was fired on the coaching D-Day of December 28, 1998 where five coaches were fired on the same day. Can you imagine if five coaches were fired on the same day today? Sal Palantonio and Chris Mortenson would be split screen on ESPN for the entire day.

1. Tim Floyd

Tim Floyd is the absolute worst professional coach I have ever seen. Did he have a lot of talent to work with? No. But it was the way he lost and conducted himself that was so bad. Handpicked by Krause to be Phil Jackson's successor, Floyd's military drill Sargent style may have worked in the college game but in the NBA it helped him reach a 49-190 record with the Bulls. No, that record is not a typo. 49-190.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Top ten teams in the NBA’s Western Conference

Part one of our TTCS NBA preview

10. Denver Nuggets

Denver has increased its win total each of the last three years. If they can win over 50 games this season, it would be impressive. The West continued to get better, and the Nuggets’ biggest offseason move was trading defensive force Marcus Camby for a lowly second round draft pick.

9. Portland Trail Blazers

In the East, Portland would be under strong consideration for the fifth seed. But in the West, there is a good chance they miss the playoffs. The Trail Blazers have all the talent in the world, the team just needs to figure out how to harness it. Where does Rudy Fernandez fit in? How about Jerryd Bayless? Two of Portland’s best players, Greg Oden and Brandon Roy, have also faced some serious injury issues in the past. We’re picking the Trail Blazers to miss to the playoffs, but it wouldn’t be surprising at all to see them make it. This crew has a lot of talent.

8. Dallas Mavericks

It looks like the championship window for Dirk Nowitzki may have closed after the Mavericks’ historic loss to the Warriors in the first round of the playoffs two years ago. The Mavs playoff chances for this year may have taken a hit last season when they traded Devin Harris for Jason Kidd. Kidd really showed his age in Dallas. But Rick Carlisle is a good coach, and Dirk is still one of the league’s premier players. That should be enough to sneak into the playoffs.

7. Los Angeles Clippers

Seemingly every year, one team in each conference makes a jump up the standings. We’re betting that team could be the Clippers this year. The arrival of Baron Davis and Marcus Camby makes the team better on both ends of the court. We also like the auxiliary pieces here: Al Thornton put together a nice rookie campaign last year and former Indiana star Eric Gordon should be able to fill it up coming off the bench.

6. Phoenix Suns

What about acquiring a suitable backup point guard don’t the Suns understand? The always wonderful Steve Nash returns again this year to lead a team that will score a little less and defend more. Amare Stoudemire should be in for a huge season with Shaq at center, and rookie Robin Lopez will add interior defense.

5. Houston Rockets

The Rockets are the toughest team to project in the NBA this year. They could win the title or get swept in the first round and no one would be that surprised. But here’s hoping they get out of the first round this year: you can tell it’s starting to take a toll on T-Mac’s psyche. Also, don’t forget, Ron Artest is still ghetto.

4. San Antonio Spurs

I hate the Spurs, you hate the Spurs, everyone hates the Spurs. They’re slow, old, and unexciting. They’re also a little dirty. But every year San Antonio is a threat to win the Western Conference and that is not about to change while Tim Duncan still has a few good years left. Once again, the Spurs are as good a bet as any to win the title.

3. New Orleans Hornets

The Hornets’ main problem from last year returns again: they don’t have much of a bench. James Posey will help, sure, but New Orleans will miss Jannero Pargo’s instant offense. Chris Paul will have to shoulder a huge load once again this year, but there is no reason to think he won’t be up to the task.

2. Utah Jazz

The Jazz have to be bummed. I think the T-Wolves have more white guys this year. While it’s unfortunate, it won’t change the fact that Utah is a regular season powerhouse. They’re bringing back the entire crew for last year’s 54 win team. Carlos Boozer should be in for a huge year, since he can opt out of his contract at season’s end.

1. Los Angeles Lakers

Remember how good LA was toward the end of last season? Yeah, they did that without Andrew Bynum, who Tom Ziller named the league’s 24th best player. Kobe isn’t getting any younger (really?); he knows this might be his best chance to acquire the elusive post-Shaq ring. We expect a dominant regular season from the Lakers.

From the archives: Top ten Chicago sports sissies

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Top Ten Overachieving Chicago Teams

By Danny Sheridan
Lately, we’ve seen more than our fair share of Chicago teams that have underachieved, including the '06 Sox, '07 Bears, '07-'08 Bulls, and '08 Cubs. Here are ten that exceeded expectations. If you think I missed one, let me know in the comment section. Also, the cutoff for this list was 1990.10. 2007 Illinois football
With a combined record over the previous four seasons of 8-38, five wins would have made people in Champaign happy during Ron Zook’s third year. After all, just two years earlier, when Illinois hosted Penn State, the scoreboard read Penn State 56, Illinois 3; at halftime. So how did things turn around so quickly? Four big reasons: the brilliance of Rashard Mendenhall, Zook’s recruiting, other Big Ten teams overlooking them and a “bend but don’t break” defense led by linebacker J. Leman. The win over top ranked Ohio State late in the year was most memorable, but earlier back to back victories over Penn State and Wisconsin set the tone for the entire season. Take away the blowout loss to USC in the Rose Bowl, and Illinois’ other three losses were by a combined 17 points.

9. 2008 White Sox
Back in April of this year, if you knew Nick Swisher would hit .219, Paul Konerko would be completely useless for the first five months, and that Javier Vazquez would lose 16 games, you had to figure this had all the makings of another 70 win season. Of course, you probably didn’t see Carlos Quentin turning into the AL’s best hitter, Gavin Floyd and Jon Danks combining for 29 wins and a 3.58 ERA, or Alexei Ramirez developing into a future star. It certainly helped that Detroit and Cleveland were arguably baseball’s two biggest disappointments, and that Minnesota had only three guys on their roster (Mauer, Morneau, Nathan) who were any good. Still, a Sox team that relied way too much on home runs and had to overcome some key injuries deserves a lot of credit for just getting to the playoffs.

8. 2005 Bears
In the Sports Illustrated issue previewing the 2005 NFL season, Paul Zimmerman had the Bears ranked 32nd out of 32 teams. So when the Bears started 1-3, no one was too surprised. Maybe it was Mike Brown’s famous “we suck” line that turned things around. Maybe it was how weak the NFC North was then. More likely was that the defense just decided to dominate the last 12 games, holding opponents to under double digit points in seven of those contests. The defense needed to be almost perfect to offset what statistically was the worst offense in football. Kyle Orton had games of 67, 68, 93, and 117 passing yards, and the Bears won all four of those games. However, even after winning 11 games, no one was too surprised when Carolina (well Steve Smith) exposed the Bears in the playoffs as a pretender.

7. 2000 White Sox
Mike Sirotka, James Baldwin, Jim Parque, and Herbert Perry all became household names, for at least one season anyway. Other than Frank Thomas, who should have won the AL MVP, this was a very inexperienced Sox team that had no business winning a league best 95 games. The top four starters, which included Cal Eldred, combined for 52 wins that season. Those same four ended up winning a combined 21 games for the rest of their careers, with Sirotka never pitching again and Parque making only seven more starts.

6. 1995 Northwestern Football
Here’s a pretty intriguing stat: The 95 Northwestern team had exactly one player, receiver D’wayne Bates, who went on to have any kind of career in the NFL. By comparison, in the 1996 NFL draft, Ohio State had three guys picked in the first round, while Michigan and Penn State each had two. During the mid-90s, the Big Ten was arguably the nation’s toughest conference, yet Northwestern, a program which hadn’t had a winning season from 1972 through 1994, went undefeated in conference and got to the Rose Bowl. Although they came up short to USC and Keyshawn Johnson in Pasadena, guys like Darnell Autry, Pat Fitzgerald, and Gary Barnett helped put Northwestern on the map and produce one of college football’s most unlikely stories.

5. 2004-2005 Bulls
After starting 0-9, it looked like yet another lost season for a franchise that had won 17, 15, 30, and 23 games respectively the previous four years. Ben Gordon, Luol Deng, and Andres Nocioni were all rookies, and the Bulls appeared at least two years away from being any kind of contender. Then, we saw a rarity in the NBA: a team without a go-to scorer relies on its defense, hustle, and effort to go from a laughingstock to the third best record in the East. Here’s how you know that team greatly overachieved. The very next year the same nucleus returned, yet they had to go on a late season surge just to win 41 games. Oh yeah, one more thing: in the playoffs against the Wizards in 05, the Bulls starting frontline consisted of Othella Harrington and Antonio Davis. Enough said.

4. 2005 White Sox
An everyday lineup that includes Scott Podsednik, Juan Uribe, Carl Everett, and Tadahito Iguchi should not win 99 games and go 11-1 in the playoffs en route to a World Series. Sorry, but this Sox team was not that good. Cliff Politte and Neal Cotts were one-year wonders out of the bullpen, Jose Contreras turned into the best pitcher in baseball for the last month, and Jon Garland pitched like an ace all season instead of the number three pitcher he has been the rest of his career. Baseball playoffs are all about momentum, good pitching and catching some breaks, which the Sox had all of.

3. 1998 Cubs
Do these names ring a bell? Scott Servais, Jose Hernandez, Manny Alexander, and Henry Rodriguez. All were regulars on a Cubs team that somehow won 90 games and captured a wild-card spot. Besides Sammy’s 66 homers, that season had so many other memorable moments, like Kerry Wood’s 20 strikeout game, Brant Brown’s dropped fly ball, and Gary Gaetti’s go-ahead homer against the Giants in the one-game playoff. In all honesty though, this may have been one of the worst baseball teams in recent memory to make the playoffs. Mickey Morandini, Lance Johnson, Steve Trachsel, and Rod Beck all played way above their heads the entire season.

2. 1994 Bulls
When Michael announced his retirement right before training camp, it was logical to assume the team would take a big step back. But if not for Hue Hollins’ ridiculous foul call on Scottie Pippen at the end of game five in the second round against the Knicks, the Bulls win that series and likely go back to the NBA Finals. Despite having a weak supporting cast, Pippen absolutely carried the Bulls to 55 wins, and in the process asserted himself as one of the game’s top five players. With B.J. Armstrong and rookie Toni Kukoc as the team’s second scoring options, the Bulls won with great defense, balance (nine guys averaged at least eight points), and the coaching of Phil Jackson.

1. 2001 Bears
Looking at the depth chart and statistics, there’s no way anyone can explain how that Bears team won 13 games. Okay, so the defense was really good, especially the linebackers and defensive tackles, but still, Jim Miller was the quarterback, Anthony Thomas the running back, David Terrell and Dez White were the number two and three receivers, and Walt Harris the top cornerback. I mean, the way they won some games was totally improbable: overcoming a 15 point deficit with five minutes left against the 49ers to win in overtime, recovering an onside kick and throwing a hail mary the very next week to force overtime and eventually beat the Browns, or having Martin Gramatica miss a 30- yard field goal that would have given Tampa Bay a win. With the same team back in 2002, the Bears went 4-12.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Top Ten potential moves on the Southside

This season on the Southside was full of surprises for many Sox fans. They won 89 games including an exciting one-game playoff with the Twins. While they will start off the year AL Central champs, we can all assume the Central will be ready to bounce back and earn its claim as "The best division in baseball." In order for the Sox to remain at the top come next October, some moves will need to be made. Below are ten moves/non-moves that people should take note of.

10. Steve Stone

I realize this is not on the field but to viewers who will be watching games the majority of the Summer, continuity with this all star cast could make it fun, or unbearable.

9.Ken Griffey Jr.
I love Junior as much as any other kid that grew up in the '90s, but to give a 37-year-old who hit .260 and doesn't field his position well anything more than $6 million just seems unreasonable. The $2 mil. buyout seems to be the more likely path.

8. Will Ozzie be around?

This could just be a personal thought that remotely died once Brian Anderson made a diving catch to seal the Central. But Ozzie went through more scrutiny this year than he ever has and he spent much of the year with a frustrated scowl on his face. When the going gets tough, Ozzie has stated on multiple occasions that he is more than willing to hand in his pink slip. I don't know what the Sox would do without Ozzie, who is arguably the best baseball has to offer.

7. Sort out the outfield
Quentin will be there, and Dye could, and probably will be in the outfield also. But below them is a Hodge-podge of young, unreliable #4 outfielders. Wise, Anderson and Owens will battle for the job in center, and truthfully, I have little faith in any of them offensively. Wise and B-And will most likely be in the 25-man lineup come April, but I would like them to move Owens if possible because he is the one with the most upside.

6. Re-sign Uribe?

I know. I don't like it either. But Ozzie has a good relationship with the man with the worst goatee in baseball. And if Uribe is willing to take a deal between $2-3 million, I say they go for it. He can play anywhere in the infield and defensively was a solid replacement for Crede. He committed only seven errors in 57 games at 3rd (Crede had 20 errors in 97 games) and played the position really well overall. I don't know if you can find much better of a player for the little price tag.

5. No more OC
The Sox cannot possibly want to re-sign Orlando. Yes, he was solid as a player, but off the field he just did not click with teammates. Ozzie despised him and he was a baby. Not to mention his strikeout against Balfour was one of the more embarrassing moments of the Sox '08 season. Who calls out a pitcher-during his at bat- and then strikes out on two fastballs over his head?

4. Need for a middle infielder
Alexei will be moving to short this year if they do not take Cabrera back. This leaves a hole at second. The current front-runner is Chris Getz, who owned a .302 average with a .366 OBP in triple-a this Summer. If it comes down to Getz, I guess the Sox could live, but Kenny Williams has roughly $10 mil. burning in his pocket and there is a deep 2B free agent pool. I would like to see them bring in a speedster who they know is going to get on base for the boppers to bring him in. Orlando Hudson is my favorite option, but Brian Roberts, Felipe Lopez and Cesar Izturis are all likely options also.

3. Javier Vazquez

Javy has the best overall stuff in the rotation, but had a difficult time showing it all year. Not to mention his lack of ability to come ready to play in must-win games. V still has a lot of value, and the Sox could get a good size ransom in return for the veteran. Javy's stock did take a hit however when Ozzie called him out late in the season and Vazquez responded with a poor outing. I think if Kenny can deal JV for a young higher-prospect pitcher, the move should be made. Regardless, he should not be wearing a Sox uni come spring training.

2. A back-end starter

Floyd, Danks and Buerhle will be the foundation of the rotation in 2009, regardless of what happens with the rest of the pitching. I like Clayton Richard, but put no faith in the 25-year-old even, though he looked good down the stretch. If Richard is given a starting position, it would also make him the third lefty in the rotation, which is not a terrible thing, but would put pressure on finding a way to fill the fifth spot with a righty. Derek Lowe and Jon Garland could make a nice fit. Freddy Garcia could also be a serviceable #5 at a cheaper price.

1. Veteran departure

It pains me to say this, but trading Jermaine Dye or Paulie could be the best option for the Sox. Dye will be 35 by the start of the 2009 season and is already at the downside of his career, which has been an impressive one. He will surely be a top-ten vote-getter for this year's AL MVP and that alone could help his stock, which will fade after every season. Paulie will be a little more difficult of a move, because he has a no-trade clause that he will surely use. Rumor has it the Giants have an interest in Konerko, but that would be an unlikely destination because they are rebuilding and PK wants to play for a contender. Paul's stock is not nearly as high as it was going into last year, when there were rumors of acquiring Chone Figgins in exchange for the first baseman. While Dye's stats will not taper too much from this season, I cannot picture Paul being much of a contributor to the Sox in '09.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Top ten 2008 Cubs moments


For six months, the 2008 Cubs were the best baseball team the North Side has seen since John McCain was nine years old. They won 97 games overall, 68% of their games played at Wrigley Field, and won the NL Central for the second year in a row. Eight Cubs went to New York for the All-Star Game- a team record- and for the first time in his career, Kerry Wood was only forced to the disabled list once this season. Then the season ended like a bad romantic comedy, as the Cubs got left at the playoff alter for the 100th year in a row while the entire country laughs at our misfortune. Now, instead of reminiscing on all the good moments the team had in 2008, Cubs fans are going to try and erase the four days in October that everything fell apart. Here to help are ten moments that are worth remembering from a special 2008 Cubs (regular) season.

10- Marissa Miller throws out first pitch

It’s not uncommon to see a celebrity throwing out an opening pitch at Wrigley. Every year, Chicago natives Vince Vaungh, Jeremy Piven and John Cusack participate in the honor of throwing a 45 mile- per-hour pitch to the worst player on the team from sixty feet, six inches. But when Marissa Miller, the cover girl on the 2008 SI swimsuit issue and Victoria’s Secret Angel, threw out the pitch it was a sight to behold. Granted, the toss was worse than something Latroy Hawkins used to throw, and it had no significance to the Cubs success, but for me this moment belongs on this list because I was literally ten feet from Marissa when she walked off the field up to her luxury box. That marked the first (and most likely last) time I can say I was closer to the world’s hottest woman than a pro athlete was.

9- Fukudome opening day

It seems like it was a long time ago, and with how everything turned out, it seems really stupid. But back in late March, as the season was to begin, Cubs fans were way more excited for rookie right fielder Kouske Fukudome than they were for rookie catcher Geovany Soto. And on opening day, the Japanese import showed everybody why the team paid so much for his services. Besides making a couple of great plays in the field on a cold and wet March afternoon, Fukudome went three for three at the plate, including a bunt single, a double, and the game-tying three run homer in the bottom of the ninth. Unfortunately the Cubs went on to lose that game, and Kouske never put together another nine innings that good the other 161 games on the schedule.

8- Rockie comeback

Normally when a Cubs team is down 8-0 in the fourth inning, the scoreboard operator can put up the L flag, crack open an Old Style and call it an afternoon. But on May 30, the Cubs- trailing by eight to the Rockies- changed that normal routine. Backed by three seventh inning home runs- Henry Blanco, Jim Edmonds and Mark DeRosa did the damage- the Cubs turned the large deficit into a big win, pulling out the 10-9 victory by holding Colorado scoreless for the game’s final four innings. Scott Eyre got the win, the last he would get in a Cubs uniform.

7- Mid-Season pick ups

People forget, but at the start of the year, Felix Pie was the Cubs center fielder, Rich Hill was the #3 starter, and Bob Howry was the seventh-inning guy out of the bullpen. Just imagine if that roster had lasted all year long. Thankfully, Cubs GM Jim Hendry realized those three players were not right for the long-term, so he went out and acquired three new pieces to put in their place. By the end of the year Jim Edmonds (free agency), Rich Harden (trade) and Jeff Samardzija (minor leagues) had all been brought to the Cubs, taking the roles of Pie, Hill and Howry, and all playing important roles in the Cubs success.

6- Reed Johnson catch

Unbelievable-catch-by-Reed-Johnson - Hosted by Putfile.com

I don’t know if they have the Web Gem’s of the Year on Baseball Tonight, mainly because I stopped watching the show when they decided to keep bringing on Steve Phillips. But if they do, this catch by Reed Johnson versus the Nationals has at least got to be in the discussion for play of the year. If you want a comparison, this is like a diving catch in football, except a) instead of a large, spiraling ball, Johnson had to find a tiny white dot up in space, b) before the play begins, nobody tells Johnson that the ball is coming to him, he has to react and find the ball the second it leaves the bat, and c) instead of a flexible orange pylon to soften the blow, Johnson crashes head-first into dirt and a hard fence. Other than that, it’s the same thing.

5- One final comeback

The Cubs made a living coming from behind to win in ‘08. One of their most memorable wins in the final at bat was in the second-to-last week of the year, versus the Brewers. Down 5-1 with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, it looked as if the Cubs were going to give Milwaukee some momentum headed into the final stretch by allowing the team from up north to take two of three at Wrigley. But then Aramis Ramirez doubled and Jim Edmonds drove him in with a base hit, making it 5-2. Mark DeRosa followed with a double to put men on the corners, and should-be Rookie of the Year winner Geovany Soto blasted a three-run shot to the left-center field bleachers, tying the game at five. Two innings later, Derek Lee singled home the winning run, giving the boys in blue the W.

4- White Sox sweep

Octavio Dotel, meet Aramis Ramirez. Mr. Dotel, would you please introduce Mr. Ramirez to your friend Scott Linebrink? How about to colleagues Jose Contreras and Javier Vazquez? Four home runs, eight RBI, and a Cubs sweep later, Mr. Ramriez’s name changed on the North Side from Aramis to Mr. Clutch, and on the South Side to Mr. Why the Hell are we Still Pitching to this Guy?

3- Brewer beat down

By late July, the NL Central had come down to a two-team race; Brewers and Cubs. The Brewers had acquired CC Sabathia and had positioned themselves as the team nobody wanted to face down the stretch. Nobody that is, except for the Cubs. On each of the final four days in July, the Cubs and about 25,000 of their fans went up to Miller Park and embarrassed the Brewers, sweeping the four games against Milwaukee’s four best starting pitchers. The sweep set a tone for the rest of the year, and made Miller Park the place to be for great Cubs moments in 2008.

2- Clinch

Beating St. Louis on September 20 shouldn’t have been the highlight of the year for the Cubs. They possessed the deepest lineup in the National League, had four reliable starters, a power bullpen, and a manager who had excessive post-season experience. But because the Cubs failed to show up in October, the division-winning game versus the Cardinals ended up being the only time North Siders got to spray champagne and act like four-year-olds in 2008.

1- Zambrano-no

Carlos Zambrano might be the strangest athlete that Chicago has seen since Dennis Rodman left town in 1998. On some days, Z can be a complete maniac, doing everything from yell at opposing players to breaking bats over his knee after a strike out. But on other days, he’s the best pitcher in all of baseball, dominating opponents with a Ferrari-like fastball and nasty off-speed pitch. On September 14 in Milwaukee, Zambrano was the latter. Facing the Astros after a delay due to Hurricane Ike, Big Z threw the first Cubs no-hitter in 36 years, facing only 28 Houston hitters on the night, due to one walk, one hit-batter and one double play. The celebration was short-lived though. Many Cubs fans believe that the work it took for Zambrano to throw the no-no, 110 pitches after having shoulder problems earlier in the week, wore down his arm, the reason he was so inconsistent the rest of the season.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Top Ten Teams You Could Root for Instead of the Cubs

If you listen to talk radio as much as I do, you've heard quite a few Cubs fans calling in to denounce their allegiance to the team and claim they just can't take it anymore.

You and I both know that the majority of these fans will be back. They'll swear off the Cubs from now until spring training and when the boys of summer start popping up on WGN, all will be forgotten.

But for those of you who will break away from the North Side, this is for you.

As a disclaimer, I have to confess that I am a White Sox fan. I'm not writing this list to rip on the Cubs or their fans, but as a service to those who are adamant about dropping the team altogether.

So, without further ado, I present you with the Top Ten Teams You Could Root for Instead of the Cubs.

10. Padres

World Series titles: 0

Chance of winning a title in the next 10 years: 25%

Most Cubs fans probably still hold a grudge against this West Coast squad. It was against the Padres in 1984 the Cubs blew a two game lead in a best of five series.

But if you can get past those bad memories, the Padres might be a decent option to root for. They're in the National League, so you know that they'll come to Chicago at least once a year.

Not to mention that former Cubs phenom Mark Prior might be donning a Padres uniform next year if he can stay healthy.

Downside: Mark Prior is on the team.

9. Red Sox

World Series titles: 7

Chance of winning a title in the next 10 years: 75%

If there's any fan base out there that understand the frustrations of suffering through a championship drought like Cubs fans, it's Red Sox Nation.

They reversed the trend by winning their first title in 86 years back in 2004, and followed up with another one in 2007. In fact, they're still very much alive in the ALCS right now playing against the Tampa Bay Rays.

You've got Big Papi, Josh Beckett and potential AL MVP Dustin Pedroia to root for too.

Downside: They'd be playing at U.S. Cellular, so Wrigley would be out of the picture. And, you'd have to develop a wicked accent and love you some clam chowdah. (If the boys over at masshysteria have anything else to add, please feel free)

8. Marlins

World Series titles: 2

Chance of winning a title in the next 10 years: 60%

Another team with bad memories associated with them, the Marlins are currently in the first stage of their patented World Series strategy every six or seven years.

Stage 1: Develop young talent.
Stage 2: Win a World Series.
Stage 3: Trade away every All-Star player and stockpile young talent. Repeat Stage 1.

As long as you understand that there's going to be a rebuilding process that will last ten years before becoming relevant again, you should be good to go.

Downside: You couldn't ever buy a jersey of your favorite player because you know that they'll probably be traded sooner or later.

7. Reds

World Series titles: 5

Chance of winning a title in the next 10 years: 12%

There's a familiar face running the show out in Cincy and dude, let me tell you: this guy loves his veterans.

So much so, that you'll never have to worry about your best young talent getting enough experience in the minors. Meanwhile, you'll enjoy solid, fundamental baseball played by veterans like fan favorite Neifi Perez and if you're lucky, Corey Patterson.

Downside: Dude, it's Dusty Baker. Toothpick anyone?

6. Royals

World Series titles: 1

Chance of winning a title in the next 10 years: 3%

You've waited this long, so why not take a chance on your American League neighbor to the West.

You'll have the opportunity to root for players that someday will be All-Star talent for teams around the league. They're in the AL Central, so they'll come to U.S. Cellular at least nine time a year and you can still root against the White Sox!

Downside: Your most famous player, George Brett, enjoys pooping his pants.

5. Rangers
World Series titles: 0

Chance of winning a title in the next 10 years: 30.5%

All you have to do is watch Josh Hamilton hitting moon shots out of Yankee Stadium to know who your favorite player is going to be.

They've got a great core of talent at the plate in Ian Kinsler, Hamilton, Michael Young, Milton Bradley, etc...All they need is pitching.

Plus, you can constantly brag about how the Nolan Ryan Express pounded former White Sox 3B Robin Ventura into a pulp at the age of 106.

Downside: You'd have to be a fan of the same team that George Bush roots for.

4. Brewers
World Series titles: 0

Chance of winning a title in the next 10 years: 36.8%


How dare you!

I know, I know. If someone told me to root for one of my arch rivals I might get pretty upset about it too, but just hear me out.

They play in a stadium that's only a couple hours away that is by all accounts absolutely beautiful. They're in the NL Central so they'll be coming to Wrigley a bunch of times every summer, giving you a chance to stick it to your old team.

And they've got perhaps the coolest fat man in baseball. What's more fun than watching a fat man hit an inside the park home run?

Downside: The obvious, cheese, sausage races and you'd immediately have to become a terrible driver that enjoys cruising around ten miles under the posted speed limit.

3. Yankees

World Series titles: 26

Chance of winning a title in the next 10 years: 87%

Just look at that number.

The Evil Empire has hoisted the World Series trophy a ridiculous 26 times in their history! It's really almost unfair.

You'll never have to worry about whether or not your team is going to go after the big free agents. They have a contract with ESPN that guarantees the Yankees are mentioned at least five times every night during SportsCenter, even when the season is over and it's snowing outside.

Downside: Everyone else that's a fan of baseball will now hate you.

2. Twins

World Series titles: 3

Chance of winning a title in the next 10 years: 71%

This just might be the perfect fit for you.

They're the arch nemesis of the White Sox. They're hated by White Sox fans everywhere and are consistent enough to be in the running every single year.

If you choose to become a fan right now, you'd be doing yourself a big favor because this team is on its way to big things. It kills me to say that, but I see them as the Tampa Bay Rays two years ago.

They'll be playing in a new stadium in the next year or so and you could watch a team that is consistently the most fundamentally sound in the game.

Downside: You would become a Twinkie and be forced to get a bad haircut and figure out a way to work the phrase 'ay' at the end of every single thing you say.

1. Nationals

World Series titles: 0

Chance of winning a title in the next 10 years: 4%


"I read this entire list and you give me the Washington Nationals?!?"

Yes, I certainly did and I'll tell you why.

You'd be getting in at the ground floor. You wouldn't have to be worried about being labled a bandwagon jumper or fairweather fan simply because they don't have either!

You'd be the only one in the office sporting that sweet Ryan Zimmerman Nationals jersey and cap.

And when they win, you get to bask in all the glory as if you were apart of it. Nobody believed in you and you proved them all wrong.

Sounds pretty sweet doesn't it?

Downside: You'd be rooting for the Washington Nationals.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Top ten most memorable White Sox moments of 2008

10 Trade for Griffey

He wasn’t used the right way and his impact was minimal, but still: it isn’t often a team trades for one of the best players the game has ever seen. For Sox fans around my age, Junior will always be considered the coolest baseball player ever. Seeing him a Sox uniform was a little surreal.

9 Quentin breaks out in Anaheim

There was a time when Carlos Quentin needed a spring training injury to Jerry Owens just to make the roster. In a May 25 game in Anaheim, Quentin proved he was here to stay. He hit two home runs, including a ninth inning walk-off against John Lackey. It was the highlight of a dominant 2008 for Quentin.

8 Gavin Floyd’s near no-hitters

Floyd was considered the biggest question mark in the Sox rotation in spring training, but he quickly erased any doubters by throwing a pair of near no-hitters early in the season. Floyd finished five outs away against the Tigers on April 12, and two outs away against the Twins on May 6.

7 Quentin goes down

If only Carlos Quentin didn’t break his own wrist, he would have been the AL MVP. Even as he missed all of September, Quentin finished just one home run behind leader Miguel Cabrera for most in the AL. Without him late in the season, the Sox offense just wasn’t the same.

6 The Cubs-Sox series

Both the Cubs and White Sox are known for having a big advantage when playing at home. They proved it again this summer. The Cubs took round one, sweeping the Sox out of Wrigley. Not to be outdone, the Sox answered back with a sweep of their own a week later at The Cell.

5 Wise and Danks give Chicago a playoff win

This was supposed to be a great October in Chicago, but both playoff teams fell flat. John Danks and Dewayne Wise saved the city from finishing 0-6 when they helped defeat the Rays in game three of the ALDS.

4 The Blowup doll

So much for a slump buster. When reporters found a blowup doll in the Sox' clubhouse in Toronto, it set off a firestorm of controversy. Ozzie Guillen defended his team, saying they did nothing wrong in their own clubhouse.

3 Alexei’s grand slam against the Tigers

Alexei Ramirez’s record breaking fourth grand slam was his most important: it propelled the Sox to a one-game playoff against the Twins. His celebration was nearly as memorable, as he jumped into Paul Konerko’s unsuspecting arms at home plate.

2 Sweep in the Metrodome

The Sox entered a three-game series in Minnesota with a 2.5 game division lead. When they left, the Sox found themselves looking up at the Twins. Game three was the true heartbreaker, as Minnesota rallied in the 10th inning against Bobby Jenks to secure the sweep.

1 Game 163

Ken Griffey Jr.’s put out at home plate. Jim Thome’s home run. The pitching of John Danks. A game-ending diving catch by Brian Anderson. All combined to form the best White Sox moment in 2008, when they defeated the Twins at The Cell in game 163 to claim the Central division title.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Top Ten Chicago Sports Disappointments Since 1985


As I am writing this introduction, Ken Griffey Jr. just struck out to end game four of the ALDS and the White Sox 2008 season. To a degree the Sox season was somewhat of a surprise and a success. Many believed they did not ever have a shot at the playoffs. For the Cubs it was quite the opposite. Most “experts” believed the Cubs would win it all, or at least make it to the World Series. THIS YEAR WAS SUPPOSED TO BE THE YEAR. Jonathan Broxton ended that.

To try and cope with the Chicago futility the last couple days, I asked the boys of TTCS to share with me their most disappointing Chicago sports moments in their lifetimes. Since we are all pretty young, we started with 1985. Here is what they came up with. Also, what are your greatest Chicago sports disappointments (from any era)? Vent in the comment section.

Matt O

2006 Super Bowl XLI - The 1985 Bears are undoubtedly the most celebrated team in the history of this city. Even though I was alive when the original Monsters of the Midway were punishing quarterbacks nationwide, there is an unspeakable emptiness deep within when I speak of them. Despite being able to name nearly every player on that roster, the 1985 Bears weren’t really my team. Sure, I still revel in their dominance as much as the next Bears fan, but the memories I have are more from highlights than watching things unfold in person. I attribute this mostly to the fact that I don’t remember much of that time period. And you can’t even blame me considering I was only four-years-old.

And that’s why watching the Bears lose to the Colts in Super Bowl XLI was the most disappointing sports moment in my life.

They were MY team.

I knew them inside and out. I knew their tendencies, their stats, their bios, their everything. I absorbed every single piece of literature I could throughout the week and rooted for them like a man possessed every Sunday. And when that fateful day came when we were to cement our legacy as the NFL’s most respected franchise, I teetered on the edge of pure insanity, going nearly four hours without speaking to anyone except for inanimate objects who I could take my rage out on.

You know the rest.

Fumble here, fumble there, blown coverage here, missed tackle there and boom: Colts 29, Bears 17. I have yet to let this one go and probably never will. I will never forgive Lovie Smith for leaving Rex Grossman in that game to literally throw it all away. I will never forgive the defense for letting Reggie Wayne embarrass them on the biggest stage in the world.

I will never forgive the 2006 Chicago Bears.

The Dismantling of the Chicago Bulls Dynasty - Michael Jordan. Scottie Pippen. Phil Jackson. Each wiped away from the collective conscious of Chicagoans by one man’s larger than life ego: Jerry Krause.

For six years we were spoiled by the Bulls. For six years we were the proud fans of a franchise and a player that will go down as the greatest to EVER play the game. But that wasn’t good enough for Jerry Krause. Why, you ask? To Krause, recognition of his self-describe brilliance superseded any thoughts of doing whatever necessary to keep this legendary team together until their day of retirement was upon them. Strong enough words do no exist in the English dictionary to describe my personal hatred towards Jerry Krause. In an instant, the Bulls were transformed from the greatest ever to the league’s laughing stock in 1999.

All good things do come to an end at some point. This I cannot deny. But you’d much rather wait for it to end naturally instead of allowing a bloated egomaniac to end it on his own terms. Disappointment is the understatement of the century in terms of this debacle.


2006 Super Bowl - After the excitement of the Hester return, everything looked great. The Bears looked unstoppable in the first quarter. I had to tell my buddy who was drinking profusely to slow down because he wasn't going to remember "history." I have never been that excited in my life. Then the rest of the game happened. The D looked terrible and Rex Grossman played like crap. I have never felt such a let down in my life.

The 1994 MLB Strike - This is simple. Jerry Reinsdorf cost the Sox a playoff spot and maybe even a World Series Championship. The Sox were awesome and their owner was too greedy to get a deal done. Nothing was worse for a Sox fan than seeing your “leader” be the cause for a chance at a WS ring.


The deterioration of DePaul men's basketball - DePaul basketball was a once proud and honored Chicago tradition that sold out arenas, won over fans nationally thanks to WGN telecasts and had tremendous success thanks to Hall-of-Famer Ray Meyer. In the 84-85 season Coach Ray gave the head coaching job to his son Joey. Joey continued some minor success thanks to tremendous reputation until the program started to collapse in the early 1990's. Since then DePaul has acheived minimal success even though their tradition and legacy extends back to the 1920's, all the while many fans and younger fans overlook the tremendous past in favor of other programs.

The Year 1994 - This has to be number one. Professional sports have made me cry three times in my life and two of those times occurred during 1994. First Jordan's retirement came on October 6th, 1993. The effect it had on people all over Chicago was devestating. The Bulls were still 55-27, but having season tickets without your hero, as I did, became a chilling reality and one that I never wanted to face again. The second thing that made me cry was the baseball strike. Baseball was my favorite thing in the world in 1994. I was obsessed enough by the 1993 Division champion White Sox, but the 1994 team had a tremendous chance to advance to the World Series and possibly win it. It wasn't only the White Sox that was so bad, I loved baseball. I woke up at 6 AM before school every morning to watch the complete hour of Sportscenter and I remember the day the season was cancelled I cried my eyes out while watching the montage of Joe Carter, Ken Griffey Jr., Frank Thomas and Matt Williams. My Mom had to call my school and say I was sick because I was so upset.

Couple that with the Chicago Stadium closing, the Hue Hollins b.s. call in the NBA playoffs, and mediocre Blackhawks and Cubs teams and this was one awful year.


Bears Super Bowl loss- When a team gets to a title game, you believe it can do anything. Such was the case with the Bears in 2006. If they could pull off that miracle comeback in Arizona, they could do anything. That was the worst thing about losing the Super Bowl. Everything before that made the season feel magical, like the team could do no wrong. Then you mix in Peyton Manning, Rex Grossman and a little rain, and it's all gone.

Chicago Bulls post-MJ - For people who grew up on MJ, we always took the Bulls for granted. They were going to win the NBA championship every year, because that was all we knew. So when the Bulls broke up, and transformed from, literally, the best team ever to the worst team ever, it just made it that much tougher to stomach. In the span of one year, the Bulls best player went from Michael Jordon to Brent Barry. No wonder it was such a struggle to ever win 20 games.


2003 Chicago Cubs - For me baseball is, well, life. I played it, I coach it, I teach it, I follow it, I would drink it if it came in an alcoholic carbonated form. So when your team, the team you have followed since your first game at the age of sixth months, decides to blow a 3-2 series lead, while their one and two completely shit themselves, it is quite the devastating moment in your life. To answer your question, yes, I cried. It really hurt me. I had invested everything into that team. I could see the World Series. It was so close. And then...

2008 Chicago Cubs - The only way I can describe the 2008 Cubs is like an abusive alcoholic dad. He beats you for years, but decides to sober up one day. The beatings stop and things seem to be good and happy, but in the back of your mind you still remember what he can become and fear him a little. Then one day, when things are at their best, the inevitable happens – he drinks again. He whoops you, your mom and your brother. You are back in hell, but this time it hurts a little more, because you were beginning to believe things were changing. This was the 2008 Chicago Cubs.

From day one the 2008 Cubs were supposed to win the World Series. That was it. There was nothing that could stop them. Nothing. They signed Kosuke Fukudome. They signed Reed Johnson and Jim Edmonds. They traded for Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin. Life was good.

Then weird things happened. Fukudome started to suck. Edmonds started to look old. Harden was less dominant. Gaudin hurt his back partying near a dumpster(?) The Cubs were still good, but they showed weaknesses. We all ignored them.

“They are just coasting for a while. Taking a break. They will be fine,” we told ourselves.

We were wrong, dead wrong. They were flat and lost. They were supposed to win and they ripped our hearts out. It will never be the same.

What are your biggest Chicago sports disappointments (from any era)?

Top ten things we know about the Bears

By Danny Sheridan
Who would have thought that come this morning, the 3-2 Bears would be the team in Chicago that offers the most hope? Sorry, but the Sox have no chance of coming back to beat the Rays. After five games, here are ten things we know about the Bears.

10. Mike Brown is the difference maker on defense
His stats won’t blow you away, but Brown is clearly the one who takes this Bears defense from an average unit to one of the ten best in the league. Since 2005, the Bears are 18-6 in games that Brown has started. Their record is 18-15 without him in the lineup and they’ve given up almost seven more points per game. Having Brown’s leadership and experience back there allows the Bears to put an inexperienced player like Kevin Payne at the other safety spot. Now, we just have to hold our breath every time Brown is in on a tackle or anywhere near a pileup because of his history of fluke injuries. 9. Goal-line stand was a turning point
David Haugh pointed out this week how the Giants started 0-2 last season, only to make a late goal-line stand the following week to save their season. It’s premature to say the Bears stand against the Eagles will produce a similar result, but if the Bears had lost that game and fell to 1-3, this had all the makings of another 7-9 season. After giving away consecutive games to Carolina and Tampa Bay, the Bears defense finally stepped up in the fourth quarter just when it appeared Philly was about to take the lead, and probably the game. Moments like those are ones that define seasons. The momentum from stopping the Eagles three times inside the one-yard line certainly carried over to Detroit. 8. Ron Turner is still clueless
Lost in the thrashing of the Lions were back to back play calls early in the second quarter that once again showcased Turner’s ineptitude. If you know you’ve got two downs to get one yard, give the ball to Forte both times. On third and one at the Lions 15 yard line, the Bears called a play action pass with Jason McKie as the primary target. Then, on fourth and one, the Bears went for it, which was the right decision. With the Lions playing nine in the box and the Bears in an obvious running formation, Forte got stopped for no gain, and it was a turnover on downs. Although that obviously didn’t come back to haunt him, you’ve got to wonder what was going through Turner’s mind on that third down call. All season, especially in the Carolina game, Turner has failed to put the ball in his best player’s hands (Forte) in critical situations.
7. The receivers might not be the weak link
No one Bears receiver will keep opposing defenses up at night, but as a group, they’ve been a lot better than most of us expected. Brandon Lloyd, assuming he’ll be healthy, has done a complete 180 in Chicago, and looks very comfortable with Orton and Turner, his old college coach. Devin Hester and Rashied Davis still aren’t very polished, but both appear to be getting better and more confident each week. And then, you’ve got one of the better tight end tandems in Greg Olsen and Desmond Clark. Olsen cost the Bears a win against the Panthers, but if he’s used correctly, he could turn into a big time threat down the field. Veteran Marty Booker provides yet another option. 6. They need to stay healthy
Watching the fourth quarter of yesterday’s game, I was praying the Bears wouldn’t lose a key player to injury during garbage time. Look at the last two years for evidence on just how important it is for the Bears to stay healthy. In their run to the Super Bowl, the only important players they lost were Brown in week 6 and Tommie Harris in week 12. Last year, Brown, Nathan Vasher, and Dusty Dvoracek all missed basically the entire season, while Lance Briggs, Tommie Harris, Brian Urlacher, and Charles Tillman all either missed time or played at significantly less than 100%. Imagine the hit this team would take if Brown, Urlacher, Forte, or even Kyle Orton was lost with a serious injury. If we’re seeing guys like Daniel Manning, Corey Graham, Kevin Jones, and Rex Grossman playing regularly, that’s not a good sign. 5. Tommie Harris’s value is overstated
Even when he was healthy, Harris was never the dominant interior player most fans and analysts made him out to be. Jerry Angelo has to regret giving Harris that huge extension during training camp, because as one scout recently pointed out, the analysis on Harris before the 2004 draft was that “he had the body of a 35-year old.” Indeed, in each of the last three seasons, injuries have limited his effectiveness. Are the Bears a better team with Harris in the lineup? Absolutely. Is his absence as big a deal as everyone is making it out to be? Nope, not even close. There’s a lot of depth on the defensive line, with Dvoracek, Israel Idonije, Marcus Harrison, and Anthony Adams all capable of stepping up.4. Matt Forte is the real deal
Although he’s been held in check these last two games, Forte has superstar written all over him. He can make tacklers miss, catch the ball out of the backfield, block, and hasn’t fumbled once. Forte is a better version of Thomas Jones. Even as a rookie, he understands and respects the game, something Cedric Benson never did. My only concern is that the Bears don’t overuse Forte and risk wearing him down by late in the season. 3. The NFC North is wide open
With the Vikings and Packers both off to very slow starts, right now you’ve got to think the Bears have a legitimate shot of winning the division. Minnesota still scares me because they have a great running back and great line play, which is the foundation for being a winning football team. Let me put it this way: if the Bears want to get back to the playoffs for the third time in four years, they better plan on winning the division. Considering how strong the NFC East is, both wild card spots will likely come from that division (just like in 06 and 07), even with all four teams beating up on each other. A 10-6 record should be good enough, maybe even 9-7, to win the NFC North. 2. Kyle Orton is more than just a game manager
Remember back in the preseason when Orton and Grossman seemed to be neck in neck in the battle to start at quarterback? Barring an injury, we won’t see Grossman ever take another meaningful snap in Chicago. This isn’t the Orton from 2005 whose only job was to not make turnovers and let the defense take care of the rest. As we’ve seen these last two weeks, Orton can make plays down the field, which he has needed to do because the running game has been almost nonexistent. In fact, take away the second halves of the Carolina and Philadelphia games, and he’s played as well as any quarterback in the NFC. 1. Devin Hester needs to get going
The rib injury he suffered in week two might be part of the reason Hester hasn’t come close to breaking a return. Another part might be the fact he’s playing a much larger role in the offense. Also don’t overlook the loss of special teams ace Brendon Ayunbadejo, who always seemed to throw a key block whenever Hester took one to the house. Despite Hester’s slow start on special teams, the Bears are still averaging over 25 points a game, which no one could have predicted before the season. You can tell Hester has been a little too anxious, trying too hard to make something happen (see third quarter of Colts game or yesterday's fumble).

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Top Ten Reasons Why Cubs Fans Should Panic

That was an ugly way to start the postseason.

Ryan Dempster throws a season high seven walks and the Cubs just couldn't get anything going offensively in the late innings.

Time to panic?


Decide for yourself with our Top Ten Reasons Why Cubs Fans Should or Shouldn't Panic.

Top Five Reasons Why Cubs Fans Should Panic

5. Dodger Stadium

The stadium you're playing in can make the difference in a series.

Dodger Stadium is one of the toughest places to play in baseball and the Cubs will have to win at least one to keep their season alive.

Here's how Baseball-Statistics.com describes it:

"The dimensions of the park don't look too bad in straightaway center (395 ft) or in the corners (335 ft), Dodger Stadium is one of the best pitcher's parks in the game because of it's gruesome power alleys. At 385 ft, they are simply graveyards for flyballs, especially at night - the ocean is just 20 miles away, and the cold, damp night air hangs heavy and holds balls up.

"Dodger Stadium has the lowest triple factor in the majors, in part because of the depth of the alleys but also because of the symmetrical walls with no odd corners. In addition, there is plenty of foul territory so that foul pops that would be in the seats elsewhere are caught for outs."


4. Dodgers Bullpen

We'll let Zach Martin explain this one for you.

This is from our Top Ten Cubs/Dodgers position matchups list on Tuesday.

"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."

3. Alfonso Soriano
0-for-5 in Game One

Soriano looked absolutely clueless in the Cubs series against the Diamondbacks last season.

And if last night was any indication, you can expect the trend to continue.

To watch him swing away like he's taking meaningless BP before the game makes you wonder if he'll ever be able to deliver consistently in the postseason.

Everyone knows that when Soriano is hot he can carry a team on his back.

But what if it happens too late or never happens it all?

2. Manny Ramirez is UNSTOPPABLE right now

Any Cubs pitcher on the staff that watches the replay of Manny's homerun off of Shawn Marshall should walk away scared to the bone.

That was a damn good pitch and Manny bombed into the Wrigley night sky.

He went into the playoffs on an absolute tear and doesn't like he plans on slowing down anytime soon.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

1. 24 out of the last 28 times, the winner of Game One won the series

They flashed this up on the screen towards the end of the game last night and it's got to make Cubs fans everywhere just sick to their stomach.

There are always exceptions to the rule (see Red Sox down 0-3 to the Yankees), but more often than not history tends to repeat itself in situations like this.

The weight of expectations can crush even the greatest teams and the Cubs looked absolutely stunned when James Loney hit the grand slam off of Dempster. They got punched in the mouth and did nothing to try and fight back.

But the Cubs have nothing but history standing in the way of their World Series dreams. To a team that hasn't won a World Series in 100 years, a stat like this may not even mean anything.

Top Five Reasons Why Cubs Fans Shouldn't Panic

5. 'The Sod Father'
Roger Bossard

Five of the last seven World Series champs played on fields that Roger Bossard himself installed.

The White Sox, Red Sox, Diamondbacks and Cardinals all owe a debt of gratitude to the 'Sodfather' and for all of you Cubs fans, pray some of that magic dust rubbed off on Wrigley this summer.

Because Bossard was the mastermind behind the project to redo Wrigley's playing surface.

It couldn't hurt right?

4. Rich Harden - Game Three Starter

While it may seem like Harden struggled down the stretch, know that he hasn't lost a game since July 21.

Know that on the road batters are hitting a measly .191 against him.

Harden is used to pitching on the West Coast and the Cubs will need a HUGE performance from him in their first game in LA.

3. Cubs Offense Can't Do Any Worse

Let's be realistic.

That's probably the worst you'll ever see this Cubs lineup swing the bat.

They led the league in most runs scored and more importantly, in OPS (ZDubs can't disagree with me now!) in the regular season. With a variety of ways to produce bunches of runs, it's only a matter of time before they figure out what made them so succesful during the regular season.

If the Cubs don't score at least five runs in at least three of the next four games I'll eat all the crow you can find.

2. The Friendly Confines

Being 29 games over .500 certainly isn't a fluke.

The Cubs may have technically lost the advantage of playing in Wrigley after last night's loss.

But Game 5 will be played in the Friendly Confines, giving the Cubs a huge advantage if this series goes the distance.

That place would be an absolute madhouse from start to finish.

1. Carlos Zambrano - Game Two Starter

Cubs fans, ask yourself one question.

At the beginning of the season, if I asked you to choose one Cubs pitcher to take the bump in the biggest game of the year, who would you have said?




Wasn't here.


Um, no.

That's right, the pitcher who 98% of Chicago considered to be the Cubs ace, Carlos Zambrano.

Yes, he is the biggest head case in baseball capable of blowing up at any given time.

But he's still one hell of a pitcher that delivers more often than not.

And in a MUST-WIN Game 2 tomorrow night, I'm not sure you'd want anyone else besides Z.