Thursday, January 31, 2008
It's tough being the punter.
No one ever cheers the punter -- as soon as you take the field, people are booing because the offense screwed up. You walk out onto the field, and kick the ball. Then you're back on the bench for another half-hour while you wait for your team to screw it up. There's no glory to punting it 50 yards with 8 seconds of hangtime -- you didn't score the winning points like a field goal kicker, but you don't get credit for the defensive stop like the defense does.
No one pays attention to the punter. When you're playing at your best, and kicking it more than 5 times a game, odds are your team is offensively inept, losing, and no one cares. If your team is good enough to garner media attention, odds are that the offense is functional enough to where you punt less than three times a game.
Some people thrive in pressure situations, other people fold. It's what a lot of sportscasters refer to as a "defining moment in a career" that separates the ordinary from the great. A punter can never be "great" because they'll never have that pressure situation. They hike the ball, and you kick it. Accuracy isn't vital, because you really only have to make sure it goes FORWARD. Does anyone care that you kicked it to the opponent's 5 yard line and then had it bounce out of bounds? Of course not.
That's why I would like to salute Brad Maynard.
Brad is quite possibly THE best punter in the NFL. He holds the record for most punts in a game (11), has a better lifetime passer rating than most QBs in the NFL (4-6 with 2 TDs), and is remarkably accurate.
Brad also excels in extracurricular dominance by being voted as the sexiest member of the 2007 Bears (that's right -- he beat out Grossman, Orton AND the incredibly sexy Baba Oshinowo), and by starring in some films, including his brilliant role as Captain Baynard (I am not making this up) in 2005's smash hit "Vampire Assassin."
So go on and root for your muscular and larger offensive players. When I see Brad Maynard next, I'm going to look at his smallish and less-than-muscular frame and ask -- not "are you the waterboy" -- but for his autograph and a firm handshake.
God bless you, Brad Maynard
[Carl Everett and Michael Barrett sit at a table playing a game of Connect 4]
Everett: Gotcha! Diagonally!
Barrett: I hate this damn game.
Everett: Well, it's not like there's much else to do around here. Ever since Ditka became mayor, the crime rate is as non-existant as dinosaurs.
[Loud buzzing noise, followed by flashing lights]
Aaron Gray: BABY RUTH!!!!
AJ: Augh! What the hell!
Barrett: You started it!
Everett: This looks big -- everyone to the main room!
[Regroup at the main console]
Rodman: Everyone, this is big -- there's been an attack on the city! Our longtime nemesis ESPN has unleashed unstoppable news coverage of the Patriots/Giants game! They are slowly draining the brains of all Americans!
Everett: This is serious! What can we do?
Alonzo Spellman: WHO INTERRUPTED MY WORKOUT!? I WILL KILL YOU! HULK SMASH!!!
Rodman: Not now, Alonzo -- save your strength for the battle ahead. I figure I'll take my invisible bike to do some recon, and then we can try for an all-out assault.
Everett: Yeah, no one will suspect the fag in a dress.
Barrett: That's not politically correct!
AJ: Seriously, man! What the fuck?!
Gray: BABY RUTH!!!
Rodman: You heard him, boys! Chicago Superfriends, AWAY!
If you're wondering why we're not doing the usual "oh thank the lord that Johan Santana is out of the AL Central" article, it's because you've already read it, and we don't really like to re-hash an old story that was well done. Instead, let's look at the real impact: Bedard is going to be on the trading block a little longer.
I like to think of Bedard as the second-best pitcher in baseball. His K/BB ratio is filthy, he's young, and his stats have improved every year. With the Santana deal setting a sort of "benchmark" for other teams to work with, Peter Angelos knows a ballpark figure for what he can demand from other ballclubs. It's no longer guesswork, which gives teams that were sitting on the sidelines time to jump in. It also doesn't hurt that Angelos is a spazz who will try and change a deal up to the last minute. Thank God he's not in my fantasy league.
Everyone knows that Bedard is a likely candidate to go to the Marlins over the Cubs. The Marlins have the "super-prospect" that the Orioles are looking for (Adam Jones), along with a young core of players that can help the Orioles rebuild after they deal Roberts. However, with everyone expecting Bedard to get a comparable trade offer to Santana (the Twins got ripped), teams with a lot of AAA talent to blow are coming to the forefront.
Enter the White Sox.
I know, call me crazy, but Kenny Williams has been alluding to Bedard for quite some time. We no longer have any one amazing prospect, but we DO have a lot of AAA/AAAA players that we need to move. A solid core of Danks, Anderson, Floyd and a player to be named later (Nick Masset?) could probably net us Bedard if Kenny has already proposed it. I'm not going to cream myself over the potential rotation of Bedard, Buerhle, Vazquez, Contreras, ____ until it's a reality, but I can certainly see the Sox using the Santana trade for a move.
For the Cubs, they don't have enough players to get what they want (Bedard and Roberts), but with the market on Roberts closing quickly, the Cubs may find themselves getting a steal (think Hill and a player to be named later)...or a ROIDED OUT FREAK. Nah, I think Roberts is clean -- he's a good (injury prone) player, but if he IS on roids, he should fit right in.
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
So much for a tradition. The Cubs will play in the final Hall of Fame game -- ever -- this June. The fact that a team so perennially bad as the Cubs will be doing the honors of playing in the last HoF game is amusing enough, but most of you probably will let the tradition pass you by without even giving it a second thought.
For those of us at Luol's Dong, we'd like to give the MLB Hall of Fame game a fitting tribute.
Doubleday Field originally started as a cow pasture. The farm was originally owned by Elihu Phinney, and was believed to be used by Abner Doubleday and Abner Graves in their creation of baseball in the late 1830's. After Doubleday's death, the citizens of Cooperstown wanted to do something to commemorate his accomplishments, but found that the only baseball field in Cooperstown had already been purchased (to be turned into a hospital).
With Phinney's land seen as a fitting tribute, the Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce bought the land in 1919 and created Doubleday Field. The first official game was on Sept. 6, 1920, between Milford and Cooperstown. The president of the National League, John Heydler, umpired the first inning.
After some trials and tribulations in hanging onto the field and keeping the rights to it within Cooperstown (for more info on that, go here), the Hall of Fame was created in 1939 to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of baseball. Not only that, but there was an unofficial "all-star" game, as ballplayers from every team were present. The game drew so many crowds and so much attention that Cooperstown planned to create a Hall of Fame game every year.
Starting in 1940, the Hall of Fame game would feature two major league teams playing at Cooperstown (which is so tiny that Scott Podsednik and Royce Clayton could hit back to back HRs). The tradition continued every year with the game being held near the HoF induction weekend, but scheduling issues pushed the game to May or June in recent years.
Interestingly, no team has every been able to call Doubleday field "home field." The field is only used for exhibitions, amateur league and American Legion ballgames. With 2008, this becomes the last HoF game to be played at Cooperstown. With no plans to move the All-Star game to Cooperstown (cough cough), it looks like Cooperstown will be left to rock shows -- hardly a fitting tribute.
I was privileged enough to have watched the game from the official Dong skybox -- the seats were incredible, and obviously the free drinks were flowing. Here is a rundown of how I saw the game:
Arrive comfortably early to get my pre-game drink on to make the game and the luvabulls more palatable.
During the intros, I started to scream "put in the dong, put in the dong" to no avail and I received what was to be many dirty looks.
Midway through the first quarter several beers down, I tried to rev up the lifeless bulls crowd with a "Noccioni Baloney Pony" chant which actually started to gain some steam amongst the common folk but died down after Noch fell to the floor for no apparent reason.
The obvious high point was when Aaron Gray got in and began to dominate (aka clog the middle), and the crowd (me) erupted in an MVP chant and watched as Aaron Gray got two quick fouls and was overmatched by a quicker hungrier Al Jefferson. This is where security and Bulls officials started to give me the old "settle down or we'll have to remove you" look, obviously one I've seen many times and one I chose to ignore.
Second half was all about vodka shots in honor of my Russian friend Viktor Khryapa, who on any other team would be the water boy. He actually made a couple shots and looked decent, I think he was revved up because he heard me yell " Я могу чувствовать запах вашей киски отсюда" or, in English, "I can smell your pussy from here."
I think one of the security guys was Russian because he immediately came over to the box and threatened me, to which I immediately began to yell "don't tase me bro, don't tase me" and he decided I was too crazy to mess with.
Finally, in a shocking move, the Bulls decided to play like a team and actually win a game...convincingly. There was a time where the lineup consisted of Khryapa, Sefalosha, Griffin, Gray and Hinrich...YIKES. But somehow they pulled it off and we might actually see a back to back win streak (we play the T-Wolves again).
One final note, I dont want sound like a queer or nothing but the matadors really turned me on, seriously.
That said, let us welcome THE CHICAGO GRUDGE MATCH OF THE DAMNED!
Bio: An attorney for over 30 years and a graduate of DePaul, Geraci brings his dry talks about bankruptcy to the Chicagoland public on a daily basis.
Interesting Fact: Was accused of overcharging clients in 1998, but the case was thrown out due to it being based on only one instance.
Strengths: Speaking slowly, discussing bankruptcy on audio tape. Circling above dying travelers waiting for his chance to swoop in and devour the carcass.
Weaknesses: Anything moving faster than 3 MPH, sly humor. CD's and any other audio technology newer than tape.
Wow: Actually sued other bankruptcy firms for using the phrase "info tapes" as he claimed his firm owned the trademark for the phrase. Wow.
Bio: Born to Poland in 1747, a condemned-to-death (attempted regicide) Pulaski went out of his way to serve the US troops in the Revolutionary War. He created the first US Cavalry, and died in 1779 from a wound sustained in battle.
Interesting Fact: The wound required to finish this badass was a cannon shot to the groin. That's right -- they had to shoot a fucking cannon into his balls to finally take him down. What a beast.
Strengths: Killing people, horse riding, lying to (and betraying) Russia. Sausage.
Weaknesses: Cannonballs to the groin, finishing the job when it comes to regicide. Submarines with screen doors, locking self in motorcycle. Soap.
Wow: Casimir Pulaski day exists as a compromise for the Polish people of Chicago that didn't want to celebrate Martin Luther King Day. Wow.
Vote for your winner in the comments!
I WILL FUCKING KILL THE NEXT PERSON WHO LOOKS AT ME FUNNY -- YOU HEAR ME?! I WILL GOUGE OUT YOUR EYES AND SKULLFUCK YOU UNTIL YOU DIE FROM IT!
Phew -- sorry about that. See, sometimes I forget to take my medication, and it makes my condition worse. Most recently, I got involved with a little skirmish with the police, and they had to shoot pepper bullets through my car window to get me out. It was a little embarrassing.
I LOVE PEPPER BULLETS -- TWO SHOTS AND YOU'RE SOUTH OF THE BORDER! I JUST WANTED TO GET SOME TOPPINGS ON MY GODDAMNED EGGS! YOU DON'T BELIEVE ME?! I'LL PUT SOME FUCKING PEPPER BULLETS IN YOUR ASS UNTIL YOU SNEEZE SHIT, ALRIGHT!?
Ahem. See, this isn't the first time it's happened badly, either. There was one time on Delta airlines that I...kinda threatened the entire crew and was barred from flying on any commercial airline without approval. I threatened to open a cabin door, warned of an impending crash, and terrorized the entire crew...and for that, I am sorry.
SORRY I DIDN'T FINISH THE JOB! I'M GOING TO GET BACK ON THAT PLANE AND GET MY 400 BAGS OF FUCKING PEANUTS AND TAKE A SHIT IN THE SKYMALL CATALOG! YOU LIKE THAT!? MOTHERFUCKER I'VE GOT CLEATS ON AND I KNOW HOW TO GRATE CHEESE!
Wow -- I should really get that checked out.
Bulls win 96-85:
The fire under captain Kirk's ass is ablaze! He's posted 38, 31 and 27 points since Deng and BoGo have been out. Noah also had a solid line (10/13) and Aaron Gray logged a huge increase in minutes (10) was a PERFECT 2/2 from the field and 3/3 from the line. All-Star....
White Sox win: Santana to Mets.
No need to rehash our buddies at Foul Balls, but this is a glorious day for Sox fans. Santana has been in my nightmares for years... granted, he often has a can of lube and a 14 inch accessory.
The Superbowl is happening!
This picture needs no caption -- I have no idea what came over me, but for some reason, this seemed like a great idea.
Ditka: On Ice.
You know you love it.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
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LOVE308: Get 14% off of all orders of $18 or more. Essentially the same as the one above, but I don't know if this one expires -- it's probably the same as the one above.
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*Not official by any means.
The Sox have never been a team that drafts particularly well (cough, Joe Borchard, cough), but a quick trip to the White Sox message board points out the draft picks that could have been:
In 1993 we took Scott Chirstman ( pick 17) when we could have had Torri Hunter (20) or Jason Varitek (21).
In 1996, we took Bobby Seay (12) over Jake Westbrook (21) and Gil Meche (22). So on and so forth...
1997: Jason Dellaero (15)... Lance Berkman (16)
1998: Kip Wells (16)... Brad Lidge (17)... CC Sabathia (20)
1999: Jason Stumm (15)... Alex Rios (19)
2000: Joe Borchard (12)... Chase Utley (15)
2001: Kris Honel (16)... Aaron Heilman (18)... Jeremy Bonderman (26)
2002: Royce Ring (18)... James Loney (19)... Jeff Francoeur (23)... Joe Blanton (24)... Matt Cain (25)
2003: Brian Anderson (15)... Chad Cordero (20)... Chad Billingsley (24)... Carlos Quentin (26)
So, to cut a long list short, here is a starting White Sox roster for 2008 that is actually possible, let alone ridiculous:
DH: Lance Berkman
SP: Joe Blanton
SP: Gil Meche
Dear lord, can you imagine that rotation? How about a lineup with no holes? The only pick I side with was the selection of Kip Wells over Lidge and Sabathia because, hey, no one knew Wells would get hurt. And before he did, he was great. Also, as much as a workhorse as Sabathia is, he's a little overweight and likely due for an injury.
Still, if I could go back in time, I'd take this lineup in a heartbeat.
Wishful thinking is such a waste of time.
The Sun-Times is not known for the best reporting around, but I think they have a few interesting points with their latest story on Grossman. Slezak argues that Grossman has just as much a chance to be as successful as Eli Manning because, hey, they have the same numbers.
"In 57 career regular-season games, Manning has completed 987 passes in 1,805 attempts for a completion rate of 54.7 percent. His average completion has gone for 6.3 yards. He has thrown for 77 touchdowns and has thrown 64 interceptions. His quarterback rating is 73.4.
In 32 games, Grossman has completed 489 passes in 900 attempts for a completion rate of 54.3 percent. His average completion has gone for 6.6 yards. He has thrown for 31 touchdowns and has thrown 33 interceptions. His quarterback rating is 73.4"
Well, the interesting point here is that they do, in fact, have similar numbers. However, we all know that the QB Rating statistic only tells half the story. Since Slezak relies so much on the numbers, I figured I would throw some additional stats into the mix:
In terms of touchdowns, yards, and interceptions, Manning is actually playing WORSE this year than last year. His completion percentage dropped from 57.7 to 56.1, his QB rating dropped from 77.0 to 73.9, and although he has 90 more yards this season, he has one less TD and two more INT. So, in terms of sheer numbers, Manning hasn't done any "magical turnaround" this year that somehow makes him good. He's playing par for the course. In fact, Manning has never had a terrible year -- he's been a solid 20 TD, 18 INT guy who will get you 3,300+ yards in any given season.
Even if you double Grossman's career stats (which is essentially just the 2006 season which was his best), he comes up with 62 TD and 66 INT -- not exactly mindblowing stuff. And why should we assume that Grossman needs to be spotted some games, anyways? Grossman has been in the NFL for one year MORE than Manning, and has managed to compile only half the statistics! Not only that, but Rex has only managed one full season (the 2006 campaign, of course), and was as streaky as can be. 3 TD performances were followed by 4 INT performances without warning. With Manning, he went through a slump for a month where you knew he didn't have his best stuff. With Rex, it could strike without warning -- consistency is a big deal in this league. Throw in the injury risk (Grossman should throw simulated games with Wood and Prior), and you have a QB who needs to be on the way out.
Oh, and for all you Grossman apologists, consider this: Eli Manning had to deal with a crippled WR1 (Burress), an injured TE who missed a good chunk of the season (Shockey), and a fair share of hurt RBs (Jacobs, Ward, Droughns and Bradshaw, just to name a few). Grossman had roughly the same supporting cast as Orton or Griese and still managed to fail miserably in comparison.
I like Rex -- I really do. But he's not in a position to become some kind of developing player. He's not a kid anymore. If we're going to play with a developing QB, it should be Orton (who has amassed a better winning percentage than Grossman, not to mention is much younger), or we should draft someone. Let someone else throw it downfield for a change.
Get the fuck out of my house!
Now this one has a disclaimer- it actually makes him look pretty good. And huge. He is a big dude:
Voice like an angel...
The good news is that there is still the Rookie of the Year honor... I think it's a tight race right now between Durant, Conley and Gray right now but with Deng and Gordon out I think Gray can strut his stuff (note: he logged 7 minutes last game. I was almost finished with my abs, and all of a sudden he was back on the bench).
Bottom line: who would you rather have, Dwight Howard or Aaron Gray? No need to vote here, it's clearly obvious that Gray is going to turn into the better player. It's all about upside and Howard is totally maxed out right now.
Monday, January 28, 2008
Rashard Mendenhall looking very salaamenisbenson-esque
A guy we haven't really discusssed much here at the Dong is our very own hometown stud Illinois RB Rashard Mendenhall.
Mendenhall is ranked as the #7 overall underclassman prospect in the 08 draft by the Sporting News and predicted to go in the first round by most mock drafts.
Thank god we draft too early to justifiably pick this kid. Sure he looks great but my stance is (and always has been) to draft D and sign O. You can get a bargain like Thomas Jones or late round production (Berrian, Rasheed Davis, Peterson) much more easily that trying to pick the needle in the haystack and end up with another Enis, Saalam, Terrell, Benson, etc.
Nontheless, I wish Mendenhall the best of luck in the NFL- he's big and tough and has some surprising speed between the tackles. They're predicting him to go to Seattle or another team in the mid 20's and I'd love to see this kid have a chance to light it up.
Typically, the average career for a RB is about 2 weeks. Nevertheless, I'll be watching this kid on draft day. I would also bet at least $10 that he's packing some serious heat below the belt. Like, 10 inches. Soft. And no, I'm not gay... just making an astute observation.
What is more entertaining is what happened after Ozzie told Kenny Williams to offer him a contract anyways:
"We couldn't find him. His agent couldn't find him," said Williams of Colon. "The offer was designed to get him into the mix and create some competition -- not saying he would get the job. He didn't seem very interested in such a deal."
Let me get this straight -- a guy who is perennially hurt and generally snubbed by other teams in the majors for the 2008 season gets an offer from the Sox...and turns it down? We probably offered Colon more than any other team will! Are Colon, Torii Hunter and Fukudome hanging out in the same chatrooms or something?
PhatCupid: man im so high right now lol
スカ-ルハク: このたてもの は おおき。
GosuHunter: Dude, I don't care what your ad says - you need a fucking translator.
PhatCupid: u guys arent going to believe what happened!!!!11one
GosuHunter: We heard that the Sox were making you an offer
PhatCupid: Yeah, they were all like, "OMG u r teh 1337! can we haves?"
PhatCupid: Ya, I was like "no way -- show me the $$$$$$$$" even though they offered more than anyone else
GosuHunter: Nice! Totally worked out for us, right Kosuke?
スカ-ルハク: gtg -- WoW. ttyl.
[スカ-ルハク has left the chat]
5. Hee Seop Choi - 1B Cubs - Age 24 - ETA: Now
Previous rankings: 2001 #12, mid-2001 #15, 2002 #20, mid-2002 #9
BA: #22, BP: #7
.287/.406/.513, 26 HR, 97 RBI, 119/95 K/BB, 3 SB in 478 AB for Triple-A Iowa
.180/.281/.320, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 15/7 K/BB, 0 SB in 50 AB for Chicago (NL)
.345/.456/.714, 8 HR, 17 RBI, 24/17 K/BB, 0 SB in 84 AB for Mesa (AFL)
2003 quote: The South Korean slugger should contend for Rookie of the Year honors…
Number five! Although with the way he panned out, would technically rank him as a number two.
Right behind Choi Sauce is another Chicago sports legend, Joe Borchard.
6. Joe Borchard - OF White Sox - Age 24 - ETA: June 2003
Previous rankings: mid-2001 #9, 2002 #9, mid-2002 #5
BA: #28, BP: #22
.000/.667/.000, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0/6 K/BB, 0 SB in 3 AB for Single-A Winston-Salem
.272/.349/.498, 20 HR, 59 RBI, 139/49 K/BB, 2 SB in 438 AB for Triple-A Charlotte
.222/.243/.389, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 14/1 K/BB, 0 SB in 36 AB for Chicago (AL)
2003 quote: … a potential 35-homer outfielder in the majors.
So I sat around for a few hours, listening to Danzig and watching a film called Texas Asshole Massacre, deep in thought about what my first article would be about.
And then it hit me: The one thing vital to all Chicago sports. One thing more important to this city than Jordan, Ditka or pretty much anyone who ever played for the Blackhawks. One thing that I am intimately familiar with, while most writers on this site have never seen it up close. Yes, I speak of the one, the only…MAXWELL STREET POLISH.
I bet most of you are getting moist just looking at the size of that thing. For those of you who don't live in Chicago (or are pussy-ass vegetarians), I'll let Wikipedia fill you in:
"A Maxwell Street Polish consists of a grilled all-beef Polish sausage topped with grilled onions and yellow mustard and the optional sport peppers, on a bun. The sandwich was first created by Jimmy Stefanovic, a Macedonian immigrant, who took over his aunt and uncle's hot-dog stand (now Jim's Original) in Chicago's Maxwell Street marketplace in 1939."
Wait a minute…the guy who invented the Maxwell Street Polish was…Macedonian?!? I guess "Maxwell Street Macedonian" doesn't quite have the same ring to it. Ironically, it's pretty Polish to not even know what the fuck country you're from.
Regardless, Maxwell style Polishes are probably the best food ever invented. Once, I actually consumed only Polishes and root beer for a week straight and lived. My farts were awesome that week too. To all of you who don't live in Chicago: I don't have anything good to say about our suck-ass sports teams, but I highly recommend the Maxwell Style Polish to you. So, much respect to you, Jimmy Stefanovic, you crazy Macedonian motherfucker.
Albert AKA Joey Belle is a pretty amazing guy when you think about it -- he's a total dick to everyone, got busted for corking his bat (so far, so Sammy), and was generally hated by everyone to the point where he couldn't get it done on the HoF ballot...even though he has multiple awards and accolades, including being the first player to hit 50 2B and 50 HR in the same season (not to mention a career average of .290, 37HR, 120 RBI. Filthy).
Albert joined the Sox in 1996, signing the most unusual contract in team history. Not only was he the highest paid player in baseball (really), but he played like it, too. Albert had a 27-game hitting streak in '97, and almost had a 50/50 season in 1998 with 49 HR and 48 doubles. Not only was Belle's contract unusual in size, but it also guaranteed him that he would continue to be one of the top three highest paid players in baseball every year. The Sox declined to give him the raise when other contracts shot up, and Belle left for free agency. He played for the Orioles for two seasons before playing his last game with osteoarthritis in his hip in 2001.
What the hell happened to Albert Belle?
The Orioles invoked an interesting clause in 2001 that kept Belle on the team as an insurance policy -- even though he was unable to play. Belle rode the imaginary pine for three (!) seasons so that the Orioles could recoup most of the money the had sunk into his five year contract. Belle officially declared for free agency/retirement in 2003, opting for some more rest and relaxation. Belle enjoyed fun extracurricular activities such as getting pulled over for a DUI, golfing, and stalking his former girlfriend with a GPS device. Classy.
After being inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in 2005, Albert was repeatedly snubbed over the past few years on the HoF ballot, and after not getting the required 5% in 2007, will not be on the ballot in future years (too bad, really). Most recently, Belle has been involved with a custody battle for his daughter, and he recently gave a talk in Chicago about his hip resurfacing surgery.
Belle currently lives in Arizona -- but you can bet your ass he won't be getting a Tom Tom or Garmin for Christmas.
Sunday, January 27, 2008
With rumors already flying (Bears looking to move up in the draft for a QB) and free agency at the end of the monet, Rex Grossman has reasserted his desire to stay with the Bears:
"I love the organization, they drafted me. A lot of bad things have happened to me since I’ve been here with injuries and things, but the 2006 season was a special one. We almost completed the ultimate goal. I want to finish that. I want to finish what I started and I want to be a Bear for the rest of my life. But if that’s not the case, ultimately I have to do what’s best for me.”
Jerry Angelo and Lovie have already said they want Rex back, although not necessarily as the starter.
The whole situation is more sad than anything else. The kid has been through all kinds of shit in his 5 years with the Bears. He never complains, even after he gets benched for old man Greise and Boozy McDrunkenstein.
Friday, January 25, 2008
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You already know my feelings about what to do with Bernard Berrian, but it seems that thing may have taken a detour now that the Oakland Raiders have shown interest in him. The story goes that the Raiders need a legit WR threat (Ronald Curry can only do so much -- and don't even get me started about what a bust Porter has turned out to be), and that the Bears are probably going to use the Franchise Tag on Berrian instead.
I'll be perfectly honest -- I really didn't have a good understanding of how the tag worked, and odds are that some of you still don't. Here's a quick crash course on what the Franchise Tag is, how it works, and why Berrian will get the non-exclusive tag:
Every year, each NFL team gets ONE Franchise Tag that can be used on any player that is about to become an unrestricted free agent. It's generally used to keep players out of free agency long enough to negotiate a longer contract, or to get an extra year out of a player who deserves a huge raise. We used this trick last year with Lance Briggs (likely gone this year).
There are two types of tags: exclusive, and non-exclusive.
The exclusive tag requires that the contract be equal or higher than the average of the top five salaries at that position of this year, or a 20% raise of their current salary -- whichever is more. In exchange, the Bears get Berrian for another year, and he can't talk to other teams. To do that with Berrian, we're looking at at least $8 million, easy.
The non-exclusive tag is almost the same, except that the contract must be equal to or higher than the previous year in position contracts (or the 20% increase -- whichever is more). This helps offset huge increases in player price -- to put it in baseball terms, imagine having to pay a 3B before A-Rod signed and screwed up the average, or after. It's also why Grossman won't get a tag because his FA price will be much less than the QB average (at least $12 million).
A non-exclusive player can still talk to other teams, but if he gets an offer, the original team is allowed to try and match it. If the original team chooses to not match the offer, they can take two 1st round picks as compensation from the other team.
Now, with that said, what happens to Berrian? If the Bears were to use a tag on him (non-exclusive), he might go to the Raiders anyways. Oakland has been racking up high draft picks for years, and might provide the Bears with some nice 1st round talent (Otah?). Probably the best option for both squads, as the Bears get to retool the line in the draft and the Raiders get an immediate impact player without losing anyone currently on the team.
If, for some reason, the Bears decide to trade Berrian to the Raiders, I can't imagine for what. The Bears "need" a runningback, but why get one from the Raiders? Between Fargas and Jordan, you have two promising guys that can't stay healthy -- and the Raiders probably wouldn't part with Fargas anyways. As bad as our QB situation is, theirs is worse -- I would rather have Orton, Griese, or Grossman than any one of those guys. Their offensive line is filled with downgrades for us, and the same goes for their defensive line. The only possible trade I can see is if the Raiders parted with one of the top players from their secondary -- and that seems unlikely.
Will we see Berrian in a Bears jersey next year? Only time will tell, but don't be surprised if the Bears move him anyways. We have talent in the sure-handed Muhammad, speedy Rashied Davis, and some guy called Devin Hester that we're trying to work into the offense. I envision Hester replacing Berrian in every way -- running fast, dropping the easy catches and making the great ones look easy.
Props to Mark with the win, and his hard work shall remain enshrined at the top. Now, this is not to say that the other entries weren't good -- some were actually pretty demented/funny. Here's a random one -- the last entry received before the contest ended. Buzzer beater, for sure:
You may have also noticed the addition of our shop at the top-right of your screen. Please help us be bigger sellouts. We don't make more than a dime per shirt, but that's how we keep 'em cheap. Where else can you show your support for Luol's genitalia in fabric form? We have an ultimate goal in mind, but more on that later.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
According to a recent report from the Chicago Sun Times, it seems that Sam Zell wasn't kidding when he said he wanted to squeeze every possible penny from the Cubs franchise before selling it: the new "bullpen box seats" (there are 70) will be auctioned off instead of sold. If you're not already yelling at the monitor in disgust, allow me to spell this one out for you:
The Cubs are in the top five in ticket prices already. I think they're at number two or three, behind the Red Sox (easily #1). Now, before the auction lunacy even sets in, keep in mind that the Cubs already raised the ticket prices for '08, with the cheap seats seeing a rise by as much as 50%. There's a handy comparison guide here to see how much the Cubs are tearing your asses apart. Keep in mind that none of the money goes into fixing the shitpile they call a stadium (although props on finally installing a drainage system for the grass. Welcome to the year 1990).
Now that the Cubs have instated auction seats, you're likely going to find yourself too broke to afford them...ever. With the number of Cub-crazed lunatics out there, it's easy to see these tickets reaching absurd proportions for season prices, not to mention if they are auctioned off on a daily basis. Can you imagine the price of those seats on Opening Day, the Cubs/Sox series, or Cardinals games? Holy cow, indeed.
I can't think of a clever way to end this, so...try being a White Sox fan. Less painful overall.
Anderson was supposed to be our end-all be-all prospect for the outfield. He was supposed to be better than Chris Young (who has seriously burned us on the Arizona Diamondbacks), Ryan Sweeney (Jury is still out) and Jeremy Reed (who?). Unlike most Sox prospects, BA actually turned it on the minors, too -- he hit for average (.295 in '05), and has shown that he is a great Center Fielder in both the minors and majors. This isn't some Joe Borchard we're talking about -- Anderson was legit.
Unfortunately, a sub-par 2006 campaign (he hit .225 on the year, but .280 after the all-star break) sent the Sox searching for other options. Worst of all, he was battling a wrist injury last year, so he couldn't find his stroke (missed a good chunk of his season in AAA because of it).
So what happens this year?
I was looking forward to seeing Anderson take CF because the closest thing we have is Swisher (and he's a LF/RF at best), and Jerry Owens. I actually like Owens, and I know Ozzie does too, but even Owens might not be more than a pinch runner with this outfield of Swisher, Quentin and Dye.
I really think this could be Anderson's year -- aside from being a dead-ringer for a young Robert Redford at some points, he's actually starting to play some legit baseball. Don't close the door on him just yet.
We've decided to expand the rules a bit -- there can be TWO winners -- we need a horizontal banner and a vertical one.
As always, send your entries to: GepettoZHog@gmail.com
Extra points will be awarded for any Noccioni's Baloney Pony entries.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
The Denginator will be out of commission for "a significant period of time" according to Big Balls Boylan.
Boylan: "Since he's had the injury it's kind of stayed with him. It gets better on occasion and he can play, and then it comes back."
Translation: Luol Deng has a typical injury."
Boylan: "It's something we have not been able to get a full handle on, so it's a problem. But we have so many games, and not a lot of time to rest him."
Translation: I've been drinking and my sentences aren't coherent.
I am SOOO glad we didn't trade for Kobe.
Now that Luol is officially on the injured list and will probably miss the next two weeks, I propose a name change for the blog. We here at the "Dong" cannot represent an injured non producing player. As the senior writer and creative genius behind the dong I propose we change the name to Noccioni's Baloney Pony.
I would ask your opinions but I dont give a shit this is a great name and a worthwhile change.
At this past week's Cubs Convention, Piniella told reporters that the Cubs had not renewed talks with the Orioles about acquiring Bedard or Roberts. Good! As much as I hate the Cubs, I would hate to see them do something as stupid as trade away their minor league system for another "one-shot winner takes all" season -- and Roberts isn't exactly a huge upgrade over DeRosa either. And it's not like the Cubs don't already have 7-8 starting pitchers to play with -- why splurge on everything this year and risk having nothing when new ownership takes over (and doesn't want to spend another $300 million to retain everyone)?
But apparently, Lou Piniella likes winning almost as much as he loves a Klondike bar -- and Lou loves his Klondike bars. Not about to be content, Piniella announced that he was actively looking to deal Matt Murton to try and get someone like Marlon Byrd.
Murton is actually a REALLY good fielder. If you would let Soriano play in the infield like he spent the first several years of his career doing, you would find that you would cut down on his gaffes in the outfield. Not only that, but Murton is a high average hitter that can really make pitchers sweat -- oh, and did I mention that he's still young?
This isn't like the David Kelton ceremonial jerk-off extravaganza that we put up with a few years back -- Murton is legit. I never needed a reason to hate the Cubs, but if they deal Murton just to free up space for an unproven, I think I might poop a little.
That said, let us welcome THE CHICAGO GRUDGE MATCH OF THE DAMNED!
Bio: Avenging his father's death (Jerry Bishop, the original Svengoolie), Son of Svengoolie took center stage in the 80's and was killed off. He rose from the grave, took the name Svengoolie for himself in 1994, and has been haunting ever since.
Interesting Fact: When he first started, he encouraged viewers to address mail to "Lose Weight By Selling Real Estate, No Money Down" because the show had not yet been named.
Strengths: Rubber chickens, the word/location "Berwyn," and scoring dates with Elvira after one too many tequila slammers. Occasionally makes Peter Criss' makeup artist cry.
Weaknesses: Direct exposure to sunlight, any other show on during his time slot. Is a sucker for corny humor and Alice Cooper.
Wow: In a moment of weakness, was the host of "Fox Kids Club" and "The Koz Zone." Wow.
Bio: Not content to be killed just once, Bozo (mostly Bob Bell) has died more times than the Ultimate Warrior, spanning four decades and multiple corpses (Bob Bell, Joey D'Audria, Ray Rayner, and Roy Brown, just to name a few).
Interesting Fact: April 18th is apparently "Bob Bell Day," according to Richard M. Daley. We also apparently have a day named after a Polish guy.
Strengths: Can absorb the blows from a thousand pies. Mighty Mouse owes him a favor. According to Highlander rules, as each Bozo dies, the remaining Bozo become stronger.
Weaknesses: Is currently dead. Actually agreed to have Billy Corgan perform "Forever Young" on his last show. There can be only one.
Wow: Dan Castallaneta of the Simpsons credits Bozo as his inspiration for the voice of Krusty the Clown. Wow.
Vote for your winner in the comments!
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
I don't know who got screwed worse.
You know you have a serious problem when the Cubs are the first team to give up on you. Aardsma was actually really good at the beginning of 2007 -- in 15 innings of work, he had a 1.72 ERA and 23 strikeouts. It was pretty impressive. Then again, when you finish the month of May with a 9.00 ERA, you're going to run into some problems. It almost makes you miss Neal Cotts.
Because I kind of like Aardsma (he throws 99 mph heat...I'm a sucker for flamethrowers), here's a few interesting facts about him from his Wiki:
-- Was booed in his first professional game for being the first alphabetical player in all of baseball, dethroning Hank Aaron. Take THAT, alphabet!
-- In his career, Aardsma has spent more time as teammates with minor leaguers Chris Begg, James Garcia and Trey Lunsford than any other teammate.
-- Aardsma's sister Amanda was Miss Colorado Teen USA 1997, and Miss Teenage California 1994
-- Cubs fans have taken to using Aardsma's name in reference to a vulgar and uncommon act (I didn't know this, but I'm not surprised).
But the most important thing about dropping Aardsma?
Now AAA Charlotte needs another closer.
Enis compiled "amazing" 1998 numbers with the Bears, gaining 497 yards on 133 attempts (sound familiar?). The Bears decided to give Enis the full load the following year, and Enis "rewarded" us with 916 yards and only 3 TDs on 287 attempts (OK, now I'm seriously getting Benson Deja Vu). Need I also remind you that one of those touchdowns had a sliding "celebration" that involved a hideously ugly Enis posing in the endzone. I don't think I've recovered from the ocular damage (help me find this picture!)
After the 2000 season featured statistical regression (how is that even possible) and serious knee problems, the Bears decided to part ways with Enis -- he never played football again.
What the hell happened to Curtis Enis?
Enis retired in 2001 due to a degenerative knee condition. He appeared in an interview with Sports Illustrated about how "Champions for Christ," a Texas-based ministry, had "saved" him. This is also the same ministry that receives 10% of its funding from NFL players, and didn't exactly save him from that sexual assault case back in 1998. Also, Enis fired his CFC-based sports agent in 1999 to get "a new image," but so much for that.
After realizing that his knee was too damaged from his 1998 ACL tear, Enis gave up his dreams of returning to professional football. Taking a tip from other washed up players, Enis decided to go to Europe to try his luck there. He set his sights on Russia...
...except that he apparently never took a single geography class and wound up in Russia, Ohio. He tried to take up a sales job, but that unfortunately did not last. After realizing that no one knew who he was, Enis decided to settle down and take a job at Clopay, a building company that mostly specializes in garage doors and cabinetry. Enis spent a few years at Clopay (working the third shift), but decided that he should probably get an education.
Most recently, Enis was seen attending Edison State Community College with the cooperation of Miami County's Sheriffs Office to join...
As I look forward to baseball season (is it even worth looking forward to?) I realize that a) the fucking Giants are in the superbowl and I can't even look forward to one more game of football. Hell, this might be the worst superbowl ever. Can't really root for either team. I just hope there are a lot of camera pans to Giselle. And Archie. Mmmmmm...Archie. And b) The Bulls suck a fat dick. They're not getting better and we've got a lot of contracts to negotiate (read: everyone is leaving).
So, with nothing going on for a few months and in the sake of team spirit, I present some hotties to warm you up during the cold and bleak offseason. Enjoy:
As much as I hate the Cubs, you gotta love their fans:
Note the incongruous Sox fans at 1:49 and 3:03.