Thursday, October 11, 2007

Chicago Bears, reasons for hope, reasons for despair.

Veteran quarterback Brian Griese is the main reason for optimism. He may show some rust at times. But he is an accurate, crafty qb who can develop a good short- and medium-range passing game, the kind of game that can use up a lot of time.

The Bears finally unleashed rookie Greg Olsen. Now it’s time to do the same with Devin Hester. Think of what Hester could do if he were thrown the kind of slant passes over the middle that Brett Favre was throwing against the Bears.

The Bears also could improve their offense if Adrian Peterson and Garrett Wolfe handled the running until the Bears reached the red zone of their opponents. Then bring in Cedric Benson for the heavy lifting and scoring. The Bears are now realizing they should have kept Thomas Jones instead of Benson.

The main area of concern is the hapless offensive line. They are old and slow. They are poor at pass protection. They have trouble opening up running lanes.

Otherwise, they’re great!

So look for a lot of Bear games with victories in the 21-10 range.

Our final emotion for the 2007 season of the Chicago Cubs?

Embarrassment. What happened to the booming bats? It's a puzzlement.

Overall, however, there was a lot of good stuff, including a division title. And with a few upgrades, the team should be in a good position for next season’s race to the World Series.

The key players will be back: Derrek Lee, Alfonso Soriano, Aramis Ramirez, Ryan Theriot, Mark DeRosa, Carlos Zambrano, Ted Lilly, Carlos Marmol, and Bob Howry.

Having Geovany Soto from the start should make a big difference. Pitchers who could contribute more include Rich Hill, Sean Marshall, Kevin Hart, Kerry Wood, and Ryan Dempster. We’d like to see Marmol and Dempster switch roles.

Filling the holes. The Cubs need upgrades in the bullpen. Say goodbye to Will Ohman and Scott Eyre. Look for free agent left-handers. Whoever they find can’t be worse than Ohman and Eyre.

In the starting rotation, get rid of Jason Marquis. The Cubs could get breakout years from Hill and Marshall. Spend the money and get one of the best free agent starters available.

Center field and right field are the main problems. Cliff Floyd is injury prone, Jacque Jones is inconsistent, Matt Murton and Angel Pagan are not power hitters, and Felix Pie is questionable. Sign the best free agent center fielder in case Pie can’t hack it. Switch DeRosa to right and give minor leaguer “jewel” Eric Patterson a try at second base—or try Patterson in center or right. In the least promising scenario, play Pagan in center and Murton in right.

With these changes, the Cubs should be the best team in the National League. Imagine how exciting it would be to celebrate two milestones in 2008—the 100th anniversary of the Cubs’s last World Series win and a World Series victory that will launch a new era of Cubbie greatness.

Monday, October 01, 2007

The Chicago Cubs, otherwise known as the Cardiac Cubs, will win the series against Arizona in four games.
They will split the two games in the desert and triumph in both games over the weekend in Wrigley Field.

Pandemonium is being held on ice until Sunday.

The Cubs will win for four reasons.

First, the Diamondbacks are a young team and will fold under the pressure.

Second, Lou Piniella is the better manager.

Third, the hungry, er starving, Cub fans will scare the bejabbers out of the Diamondbacks.

Fourth, the Cubs are a team of destiny.

Destiny always wins.

Go Cubs, go!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Ten reasons why the Chicago Cubs played so well this year:

1) John McDonough used his authority as president of the team to open the treasury.

2) General manager Jim Hendry made excellent use of the treasury in his choices of new players and…

3) Lou Piniella, one of the new hires, showed everyone how a good manager handles a team and plays the game.

4) Alfonso Soriano became one of the most exciting Cubs—and probably the richest—even though he scared you to death
with his hopping style of catching fly balls.

5) Aramis Ramirez had a career year in both batting and fielding, and became the team’s best clutch hitter.

6) Derrek Lee found his mojo in September.

7) Ted Lilly became a stellar starter.

8) Carlos Marmol became a star.

9) Bob Howry and Ryan Dempster were outstanding mopup men.

10) Kerry Wood silenced all of us doubters.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Chicago Bears’s decision to start Brian Griese is long overdue.

However, it does not address the main problem.

The main problem is bigger than Rex Grossman.

The main problem is the increasing inability of the offensive line to provide consistent pass protection to the quarterback.

The current team will be fortunate to win half its games. Ouch!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Chicago Cubs, like most of us, are creatures of habit.

And that’s good. You can get so much done during Cub games if you know how to watch or to listen to them.

Why? Because the Cubs regularly do all their scoring in only three innings—the first, eighth, and ninth.
Knowing this pattern has many advantages. That is, you don’t have to waste a lot of time and can still catch all the Cubs’s action.

For example, the other night I stopped watching after the first inning (the Cubs scored four runs in the inning) and returned to a book I was reading. About 90 minutes later, I went back to the game and watched the Cubs score three more runs in the eighth and ninth and win again. So I saw another good Cub game and finished my book. Was that a great evening or what?

Of course, you can do lots of other things as well. Like watching one to three of your favorite sitcoms. Or answering your emails, listening to music, or making your lunch for the next day. Courtesy of the Cubs, you can multitask like crazy and still enjoy the best parts of the ballgame.

Well, it’s time to get back to the game. Think the Cubs are still winning?

Keep those snatchers coming!

As in victories snatched from the jaws of defeat. Like the Chicago Cubs’s 7-6 win over the Reds yesterday. The Cubs were losing 6-4 in the ninth. But they wiped out the deficit when Aramis Ramirez tied the game with a two-on triple, and Mark DeRosa won it with an infield single.

Snatchers since the All-Star game break:

June 25 beat Rockies 10-9 on Soriano single.
June 29 beat Brewers 6-5 on Ramirez homer.
July 16 beat Giants 3-2 on Ramirez double.
Aug. 21 beat Giants 5-1 on Kendall 2-run single.
Sept. 2 beat Astros 6-5 on Lee 2-run homer.
Sept. 17 beat Reds 7-6 on DeRosa single.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Thank goodness for Chicago Cubs broadcaster Ron Santo.

Santo is a former star third baseman of the Cubs. He’s now, as all Cub fans know, the radio partner of Pat Hughes.
Hughes does a pretty good job of trying to present a balanced, objective broadcast. Santo, on the other hand, does not even try to be objective. He is what we call in the reporting biz a homer.

Santo bleeds Cubbie blue. We like that. Because Santo suffers all the slings and arrows sent the Cubs’s way. So we don’t have to feel terrible. Santo does it for us.

“Oh man oh man” is one of Santo’s frequent laments after a play that goes against Cub fortunes. We feel bad, too. But not as deeply as Santo, who may be the father of all moaners. It’s as if Santo feels our pain and siphons it over to his shoulders.
He’s like a magnet for our emotions. No fan can match the intensity of his pain. No fan can equal the depth of his disgust and disappointment.

Which relieves us of the need to reflect on the results of a bad turn of events for the Cubs. Santo will do it for us and do it better. So most Cub fans, unlike Santo, can even get a good night’s sleep after a Cub loss.

Thank you, Ron.

Felix Pie (last name pronounced like the letters "P-A")

Lyrics by Alan Reifman

(May be sung to the tune of "Felix the Cat," Winston Sharples)

Felix Pie,

In center-field, can he stay?

He runs so fast,

He's sure to catch,

Anything hit his way,

He's a Cubbies' defensive mainstay,

Felix Pie,

The prospect from the D.R.*,

His hits are few,

What can he do?

He rarely belts the ball far,

Can his offense, reach MLB par?

Yesterday's 7-4 Chicago Cubs loss to the Dodgers, based on a ninth inning comebacker, was a reverse snatcher. Also known as a heartbreaker.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Add another snatcher to the list!

As in victories snatched from the jaws of defeat. Like the Chicago Cubs’s 6-5 win over the Houston Astros today. The Cubs were losing 5-1 in the fifth. But they wiped out a 5-4 deficit in the eighth inning when Derrek Lee smacked a two-run homer.


June 25 beat Rockies 10-9 on Soriano single
June 29 beat Brewers 6-5 on Ramirez homer
July 16 beat Giants 3-2 on Ramirez double.
Aug. 21 beat Giants 5-1 on Kendall 2-run single.
Sept. 2 beat Astros 6-5 on Lee 2-run homer.