Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Moving Day

Welp, it's been real.

But it will stay real at my new blog.  I'm incredibly excited to join the Chicago Now blog network, and the blog there will be called the Chicago Sideline Report.

I'll keep doing the same things there that I do here, just at a new place, and hopefully a little more accessible.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Bryan LaHair an All Star?

He’s an April All-Star, according to David Schoenfield of  LaHair has been one of the very few offensive bright spots for the Cubs in the early going.  Here’s his slash line (Batting Average/On-Base/Slugging): .390/.470/.780.  He’s hit five home runs for a team that has nine overall, and he’s driven in 14 runs.  He’s got 13 extra base hits, and his BABIP (Sabermetrics for batting average on balls in play) is a pretty damn good .600.   

Bryan LaHair has hit some big homers for the Cubs
The only problem with LaHair is that he struggles with any pitch that’s not straight.  He’s hitting .344 when he gets fastballs but just .167 and .111 against curveballs and sliders, respectively. 

Can he keep this torrid pace up?  Most likely not, but he’s been a lot of fun to watch.  He’s 29, and tonight will be just his 86th Major League game.  Once pitchers figure out what to throw to him, he’ll come back to earth.  But maybe, just maybe, he can be that left-handed corner infield power bat the Cubs have been looking for.

I also found it interesting that Schoenfield intimated that LaHair might be a trade candidate come July 31st (or before then).  I guess I hadn’t thought about LaHair being traded, mainly because we weren’t sure what we would get from him.  But if he keeps hitting well, and proves that he can make adjustments the second time around the league, he will carry some good value. 

And we thought he’d just be a bridge to the Anthony Rizzo era.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Bull And Bear

Jordan Bernfield of WGN Radio joins me to talk about life after Derrick Rose, as well as a recap of the Bears' 2012 NFL Draft.

The Good, Bad, and Ugly

The Good: Cubs Baseball
Matt Garza was dominant on Sunday, pitching
7 innings of one hit, shutout baseball.
The Cubs took two of three from the Phillies over the weekend, and they have a chance to make it three out of four tonight.  They began the series on Friday by beating Roy Halladay, lost on Saturday, then won yesterday.  Chris Volstad has a tall task ahead of him though.  Despite their not-so-good start, it’s still the Phillies, and Volstad is 0-4 in his career against the Phightin’ Phils.  Plus, Vance Worley is coming off of a win over the Diamondbacks in which he gave up just one run over six innings.

The Bad: Derrick Rose’s Knee
“Pop” went Derrick’s knee.  “Pop” went the Bulls’ championship hopes bubble.  ‘Nuff said.  See this for more.

The Ugly: Rajon Rondo
No, this doesn’t mean that Rajon Rondo is an ugly human being…just his overall demeanor on the basketball court.  A few weeks ago he was suspended two games for throwing…no…chucking the ball at an official.  Then last night he was T’d up for arguing, then T’d and tossed for bumping the official.  His postgame explanation of what happened might be more despicable.

Rose Is Done, Are The Bulls?

Call Chicken Little.  The sky is falling on the Bulls!

Derrick Rose is out for the season with a torn ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), and Bulls fans’ confidence tore right along with that ligament in Derrick’s knee when he went down.  Immediately, questions about why he was in the game at the point came up, and I’m sure more than a few Bulls fans took to Twitter to release their pent up anger at Tom Thibodeau for leaving Derrick in the game when it was seemingly in hand.

Derrick Rose in a heap on the United Center Floor
But hey, this is the same Bulls team who had the best record in the league while playing 27 of their 66 games without Derrick, right?


BUUUUTTTTTT…..this is the playoffs now.  They might be able to get by the Sixers in Round One still, and maybe even the Celtics in Round Two.  But do we really think they can beat the Heat in the playoffs WITHOUT Derrick Rose?  Did you see what the Heat did to the Knicks on Saturday?  The Bulls went 2-2 against Miami during the regular season, and 1-1 without Rose.  But the Heat are built for championships.  They don’t really care about the regular season, so long as they get into the playoffs.  They flip a switch when the lights come on for real, and there’s no reason now to think they wouldn’t beat the Bulls, sans Rose, in five games.

The bottom line is, the playoffs are a completely different story than the regular season.  It’s part of what makes the NBA so unappealing to me, at least during the regular season.  I’ll stop short of saying that guys don’t try hard, but they certainly don’t play with the same intensity in December that they do in April and May.  That’s just common sense.  Guys have talked about the 82 game season and how you can’t go balls-out every night because you just won’t last the whole season.

As far as cutting the season down is concerned, let’s just say I’d love to see it.  But David Stern was on the Dan Patrick Show last week, and he essentially said that it would never happen.  Too bad.  I think it would make their product better.

You might be asking yourself, “Self, why in the world would Tom Thibodeau have his best player, the key to their championship run on the floor with 90 seconds remaining in a 12 point game?”  I say it’s a fair question, but there’s a fair answer as well.

The Sixers had closed the gap, and stranger things have happened (ie Clippers and Grizzlies last night).  Rip Hamilton had Thibs’ back:

"Philly was making a run. In playoff basketball, you never want to give a team confidence. ... When you have a team down, you have to try to keep them down. They made a little run so we needed guys that could put the ball in the basket."

Doug Collins also gave his support:

"He knows what he's doing coaching his team," Collins said. "Thibs is my buddy. I have the ultimate respect for him. From his standpoint, he wanted to finish that game for what he did. It's awful that Derrick got hurt."

They’re exactly right.  It’s an unfortunate injury to a key player.  If the injury had happened to CJ Watson or even Taj Gibson, their depth would take a hit, but the most important player would still be on the floor and Bulls fans would still feel good about their chances.  Speaking of CJ Watson, he’s going to have to play out of his mind if the Bulls are to have any chance at even making it to the Finals, let alone winning them. 

There’s no set time for recovery from ACL surgery.  It depends on how the athlete bounces back from surgery, not only physically, but mentally as well.  It’s about how Derrick attacks his rehab.  I tore my ACL when I was in high school, and I was running and playing basketball, albeit cautiously, four months out of surgery.  I wasn’t anything remotely near the elite athlete Derrick Rose is, so I think he’ll be fine.  I heard someone suggest even that he could be back by opening night next season.  I think that’s a stretch.  Not that he can’t do it, but there’s no reason to rush him back because it’s such a long season and the Bulls are still a good team, even without the reigning MVP on the floor.

Sadly, Bulls fans, I think the championship dream is lost.  Tom Thibodeau is NOT to blame, and Derrick will return to form eventually.

Friday, April 27, 2012

With The 19th Pick In The 2012 NFL Draft...

Who is Shea McClellin?

The first round of the NFL Draft seemingly played right into the Bears’ hands, with just two defensive ends off the board.  One of those ends was Bruce Irvin, who was a complete surprise at 15th overall to Seattle.  I highly doubt he was one of the seven players that Phil Emery was considering, so really the Bears were on the clock with all but one of the defensive end prospects that they coveted (Quinton Coples went 16th to the Jets).

Shea McClellin out of Boise State
So who would it be?  Chandler Jones of Syracuse?  Whitney Mercilus out of Illinois?  What about an offensive lineman?  Nope.  It would be Shea McClellin out of Boise State.  So who exactly is Shea McClellin?

He’s a 6’3”, 260 pound defensive end who was a three year starter for the Broncos.’s scouting report said he had fifth-round value.  Here’s what else they said:

“Strengths:  McClellin is a strong player inside for the Broncos who uses good leverage to get under heavier offensive linemen and jolt them back in their stance. He is aggressive, stout, and can hold off linemen and smother tight ends at the point of attack. He has no problem tackling and is a good pass rusher.”

“Weaknesses: McClellin will have a tough time convincing teams, even though he has been productive, to take a shot on him early in the draft because of his size. He has displayed enough athletic ability for teams to consider him at outside backer, but he could stand to lose weight as he enters the next level.”

So probably thinks the Bears reached here, because he lacks good size for the defensive end position.  But what he lacks in size, can apparently be made up for with his tenacity. had a much rosier outlook on McClellin.  They describe him as an efficient, hyperactive edge player who put on 12 pounds of muscle before the combine though they say he falls short of “elite athlete” status.  They also say his hyperactivity can get the best of him, as he overpursues the ball sometimes. 

The description SCREAMS Clay Matthews, Junior.  But will be he as good as Matthews?  Only time will tell.  I think they were looking for someone to complement Julius, not necessarily to be a star.  They need another guy capable of getting to the quarterback when Peppers is double teamed.  His strength should at least give him a chance of getting off single blocks.

Fun Fact about Shea McClellin:  He grew up on a farm in Idaho off of Chicken Dinner Road (no, I’m not making that up), and is described as country strong.  He said his athleticism comes from chasing chickens around the farm.  It’s not exactly the pro shuttle, but hey, it got him to the NFL, so it must work.

The more I read about him, the more I like him.  While he’s not the guy that hardly anyone projected the Bears to pick, he’s certainly a solid prospect.  Plus if Lovie Smith gets canned anytime soon, and the Bears bring someone in who coaches a 3-4 defense, they have someone who can translate to it. 

As for the reception to Phil Emery’s first draft selection as the Bears’ GM, the move was met with incredible skepticism.  As David Haugh points out, it might be instinctive because of Jerry Angelo’s history of terrible, God-awful drafts.  Rick Telander says it’s a curveball.  Both fair points, but isn’t this what Phil Emery was brought in for?  To do his due diligence on players with his background as a scout?

To me, we have to see the kid play before we can make ANY judgments on the 2012 NFL Draft.  Too much can happen between now and September and then the end of the season.  Time will tell, let the kid play before you judge.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Tonight Is The Night

Tonight is the night that the NFL franchises will determine their future by drafting someone in the first round of the draft.  I had Jake Smerdel on the podcast today to talk about his mock draft and who the Bears might take at #19, so here's that conversation:

And here's Smerdel's complete first round mock draft:

1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford

2. Washington Redskins: Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor

3. Minnesota Vikings: Matt Kalil, OT, USC

4. Cleveland Browns: Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU

6. St. Louis Rams: Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State

7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State

8. Miami Dolphins: Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M

9. Carolina Panthers: Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina

10. Buffalo Bills: Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame

11. Kansas City Chiefs: Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis

12. Seattle Seahawks: Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College

13. Arizona Cardinals: David DeCastro, OT, Stanford

14. Dallas Cowboys: Mark Barron, S, Alabama

15. Philadelphia Eagles: Michael Brockers, DT, LSU

16. New York Jets: Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina

17. Cincinnati Bengals: Stephon Gilmore, DB, South Carolina

18. San Diego Chargers: Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa

19: Chicago Bears: Chandler Jones, DE, Syracuse

20. Tennessee Titans: Whitney Mercilus, LB, Illinois

21. Cincinnati Bengals: Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor

22. Cleveland Browns: Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech

23. Detroit Lions: Dre Kirkpatrick, DB, Alabama

24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Dont'a Hightower, LB, Alabama

25. Denver Broncos: Devon Still, DT, Penn State

26. Houston Texans: Rueben Randall, WR, LSU

27. New England Patriots: Nick Perry, DE, USC

28. Green Bay Packers: Shea McClellin, LB, Boise State

29. Baltimore Ravens: Courtney Upshaw, LB, Alabama

30. San Francisco 49ers: Jonathon Martin, OT, Stanford

31. New England Patriots: Harrison Smith, S, Notre Dame

32. New York Giants: Coby Fleenor, TE, Stanford