Wednesday, April 25, 2012

News and Notes

It's been a crazy month for me, probably my busiest month in a long time.  Lots of work at WGN with the Blackhawks and Cubs playing at the same time, broadcasting UIC baseball and softball, and other odds and ends here and there.

Mike Smith stole the series for the Coyotes
Blackhawks Lose To Coyotes
I said before the playoffs began, when we weren't sure who the Blackhawks would face in the first round, that the last team I wanted to see was the Phoenix Coyotes.  I said that for one reason: Mike Smith.  I may not be proven right very often, but this time I was.  Smith was spectacular in the series, and if they gave an MVP award for the Western Conference Quarterfinals, it would go to Mike Smith.  I'll just go ahead and make the award and present it to him.

Bulls Lock Up East's Top Seed
Out of the Bulls' 64 games thus far, I can count the number of full games I've watched on one hand.  It's not that I don't enjoy watching Derrick Rose dominate the competition, because I do, but it's because I think the NBA regular season is a joke.  I think that holds true for most seasons, not just this lockout-shortened sprint of a season.  Between all the marquee players taking time off for small, nagging injuries to the multitude of awful basketball teams, NBA regular season basketball is incredibly unappealing to me.  I mean come on, the Bulls were without their best player for nearly half of the season, and they still are tied for the best record in the league.

Once the playoffs start, though, I'll turn my attention to the NBA.  The Bulls seem destined for another meeting with the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals, and obviously the next step for Rose is to defeat the evil empire and get to the Finals.

Cubs Trade Marlon Byrd
Marlon Byrd was off to a historically bad start this season, hitting .070 (3-for-43) before they traded him to Boston for Michael Bowden.  Of course, they had to send most, if not all, the rest of Marlon Byrd's salary to the Red Sox as well, so it's not like they totally rid themselves of Byrd.  They needed someone to fill in for the injured Jacoby Ellsbury as he recovers from a dislocated shoulder.  So far with the Red Sox, Byrd is 3-for-9 in two Red Sox wins over the Twins.

I really hope Byrd can be successful.  I enjoyed the way he played the game, always 100% full speed.

NFL Draft Kicks Off Tomorrow, Bears Pick 19th
Who will the Bears select in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft?  If you ask Mel Kiper, he's got them taking Whitney Mercilus, a defensive end out of Illinois.  Ask Todd McShay, and he'll tell you the Bears will take Quinton Coples, another DE out of North Carolina.  Mike Mayock of the NFL Network has the Bears drafting Chandler Jones, yet another DE out of Syracuse.

The Bears have several positions of need, but the consensus seems to be taking someone to play opposite Julius Peppers.  I think the offensive line is a greater need than defensive line.  You have to keep Jay Cutler upright to be able to throw to his new favorite target in Brandon Marshall.  They also need to start thinking about how to replace Brian Urlacher.  He's not getting any younger and he's also coming off a knee injury.

PODCAST COMING TOMORROW: I'll talk with Jake Smerdel of alwaysovertime.com, and he'll go over his mock draft, and we'll talk about what the Bears might do in the later rounds.

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