Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category

One week left and the Bears finally get interesting

That. Was. Ridiculous.

As is observable by my incredible lack of posts here, the Chicago Bears this season have been nothing to write home about. Sure, Kyle Orton was better than expected, but he’s not the second coming of Jim McMahon. The offensive line has been adequate. Special teams have been less special than usual with Devin Hester’s season-long touchdown slump. Hester has shown improvement as a wide receiver, but in general the receiving core has been uninspiring. And the defense has been just plain bad. Their play has improved in the last few weeks, but so far they’ve only managed to climb back to average. On the plus side, we do have Matt Forte to scrub away the bad aftertaste of Cedric Benson.

In spite of their best efforts, the Bears somehow still find themselves in the playoff race here at the end of the season. They have the good fortune to be in a horrible division. The Detroit Lions are set to be the first team in NFL history to lose sixteen straight in a single season, and the Green Bay Packers misplaced their defense about six weeks ago and only just started finding pieces of it again last night. That leaves only the Minnesota Vikings, who have managed to keep pace with the Bears for the entire season, with one noteworthy edge: The Vikings beat the Bears in both meetings this season, meaning that if the two teams finish with equal records the Vikings win the division by virtue of owning the tiebreaker.

At the beginning of this past weekend, things looked grim indeed for the Bears’ playoff hopes. If the Vikings beat the Atlanta Falcons or the Bears lost to the Packers, the Bears were out of the division race. If the Vikings won, the Bears would still have a slim shot at a wild card – but only if the Buccaneers, Eagles and Cowboys ALL lost. One could say that hell would have to freeze over for the Bears to keep their shot at the playoffs alive after this past weekend.

I don’t know about hell, but Chicago certainly froze over, and apparently that was good enough. The Vikings lost. The Bucs, Eagles and Cowboys – all of whom were favored to win – lost. The Bears? Last night’s game against the Packers was the coldest Bears home game since 1963. They played a straight-up horrible first half. They came into the second half with more energy, but that led to huge mistakes as much as gains. Late in the fourth quarter Forte literally saved the season by an inch as he just barely made a critical fourth-down conversion. That drive ended with a game-tying touchdown, but things almost went down the crapper again on the following kick-off, when Adrian Peterson drew a personal foul on a hit out of bounds. The Packers looked ready to put the game away with a go-ahead field goal, but defensive end Alex Brown managed to get his huge hand up high enough to block the kick, sending the game into overtime.

Even the coin toss went weird. The referee bounced the coin off Brian Urlacher’s helmet, and everybody had to run after it to see where it landed. In the end the Bears won the toss, Kyle Orton put together a decent drive, and Robbie Gould sealed the deal with a game winning field goal.

What does this mean? Hard to say. There is only one week left in the regular season, so it all comes down to this. The Bears have to win against the Houston Texans, who have been showing real signs of life in the past few weeks. And the Vikings still have to lose. The good news there is that they play the reigning Super Bowl champions the New York Giants. Sports Club Stats puts the Bears’ chances of reaching the playoffs at 31.9 percent. Considering the way the season has gone so far, I’m glad they’re finally starting to make things interesting.

Sadie Hawkins Day Bike Race!

I never had a Sadie Hawkins Day dance at my school. I did not really know of the concept till I moved up north so the whole thing seems exotic to me. I’m too old for dances now, but not to old to smoke some chumps on my bike. That’s why I’ll be smoking chumps at the Sadie Hawkins Day Bike Race on November 8th at 5pm. It’s $5 for women, $10 for men racing with a female partner, and $20 for everyone else. I like raising money for good causes as much as I like biking, and this money goes to the Chicago Women’s Health Center. If that does not lure you, then come for the beer: $1 for the first, $0.25 for every one after that. I’ll put a blinky light on the back of my bike so you know which champion to buy a quarter beer for later.

A Cubs Fan Looks Back

Let Chicago ex-pat Phillip Mottaz take you on an emotional journey through this year as a Cubs Fan:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=egoc9KXcr7Y[/youtube]

"Be Patient."


Christopher talked about the Cubs meltdown last night. He’s not the only one shocked by the Cubs ill fated history. The New York Times wrote a playoff analysis titled “Breaking Down the Cub’s Breakdown” by Tyler Kepner. As a matter of honesty, I hate the Yankees, and I have a habit of forgetting about the Mets. However, it was as solid analysis with this quote from Alfonso Soriano for the fans, “Be patient.”

*sigh* Always a bridesmaid, never a bride.

Fine. I’ll be patient. It’s a good thing that The New York Times gave me a nice interactive feature to play with while being patient. The feature goes over every post season appearance by the Cubs. I like it because it has vintage baseball photos and archival sports articles. Check it out and dream of next season.

(photo from swanksalot)

Curses!

The fun of having both the Cubs and the White Sox in the postseason for the first time in 102 years was short-lived. After an entire season of being heralded as the best team in the National League, if not in all of Major League Baseball, the Cubs were swept out of the first round of playoffs last night in what can only be called an epic choke. Even a staunch skeptic like myself has a hard time dismissing the idea that something out there just will not let the North Siders make it to the World Series.

The city’s hopes now lie with the White Sox, who are already two games down in their series against the Tampa Bay Rays. The Sox in exciting (if desperate) fashion, forcing a one-game mini-playoff against division rivals the Minnesota Twins. While our hopes – or fears – of a Crosstown Classic have been crushed, there is still a chance for a little more October baseball in Chicago. If you like that sort of thing.

Personally, I feel like the season starts a month too early and ends a month too late. They call baseball players the “Boys of Summer” for a reason. There should never be a risk of a ballgame getting snowed out.

But whatever. The Bears are on at noon.

Ho. Ly. Crap!

The Sox are in. The Cubs are in.

I have exploded.

Chicago baseball postseason dreaming

The Cubs and White Sox are still looking great as baseball fans start peering into the possible postseason. Both teams are looking so good that even an article in The New York Times had to mention the possibility of a Chicago vs. Chicago World Series. If you’re a Cubs fan, you might want to stay away from the Times article since its focus is on the White Sox and their manager Ozzie Guillen at his quippiest.

I agree with the White Sox players quoted that a Cubs versus White Sox World Series would be awesome. My anticipation for this cross town face off is such that I’ve started reading the book When Chicago Ruled Baseball by Bernard A. Weisberger. It’s a nonfiction retelling of the last time the Chicago Cubs played the Chicago White Sox in 1906. Besides stoking my dreams of a Chicago World Series, it is also great to read some of the old time sports reporting, and descriptions of Chicago neighborhoods as they were one hundred and two years ago. My hope is that I can get enough people to read this book that the mental will of Chicago will create the World Series of my dreams. Or, more realistically, folks can get exposed to a great book about Chicago sports history.

The Berlin Heart

On July 29th Tiana Tillman, infant daughter of Chicago Bears cornerback Charles “Peanut” Tillman, became the first person in the state of Illinois to receive a device called the Berlin Heart. According to this article, the device is a small pump controlled by a laptop that allows more time for patients in need of a transplant. It has not yet been approved by the FDA. Tiana Tillman, who suffered from cardiomyopathy, received a transplant and was released from the hospital earlier this week. Today Charles Tillman held a press conference to raise awareness of the Berlin Heart, and to encourage organ donation.

I just thought it was a nice story.

Who the Heck is Caleb Hanie?

The Bears’ first preseason game ended in a 24-20 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Of course, being preseason, the final score is less important than individual and situational performances. Judging on this one game, we’ve got a little ways to go.

Our first-team defense was awfully shaky, giving up a touchdown on the first drive. This in spite of safety Mike Brown’s return after his third season-ending injury.

The big question of the night was which QB would win the starting job? Neither Kyle Orton nor Rex Grossman did anything to distinguish themselves as the front-runner. Orton showed a little more poise, completing 7 of 10 passes, but fumbled the ball on a scramble. Grossman got tripped up once by his own guard, but did manage to get a touchdown. In fairness, however, running back Garrett Wolfe did most of the work on that play.

Of the Bears quarterbacks who received playing time last night, the one who really caught my attention was Caleb Hanie, a rookie out of Colorado State. He played the majority of the second half and showed a great deal of awareness in the pocket. I was impressed by his instincts on a few scrambles after the pocket collapsed. He managed over a hundred yards passing, although his completion percentage was just over fifty percent. However, I believe that percentage would have been improved had he been throwing to first-team receivers. If the Bears’ starting QB job really is an open competition I hope this guy gets a shot at it. At the very least, given the nature of the position in this city, I would not be surprised if he got some decent playing time this season.

The other important event for the Bears yesterday was, of course, the trading of Brett Favre to the Jets. This is significant to us only because Favre, who has a 22-10 record against the Bears, is going from a team that plays the Bears twice a year to a team that isn’t even in the same conference. There will be a lot of talk for a while about how stupid the Packers were to let him go, but frankly I feel like it was Favre’s prima donna antics that got him shipped to New York. A massive amount of work, time and money go into preparing a team for an upcoming season, and for the last several years Favre has toyed with the Packers management, playing will-he-or-won’t-he come back for one more shot. You can’t wait until a couple of weeks before the season starts and then expect a team to drop all their plans for you, even if you’re Brett Favre. Couple that with his unreasonable expectations regarding his input in the management of the team (he threw a hell of a fit when the Packers ignored his advice and did not sign Randy Moss a year ago), and I can see why the Green Bay organization was ready for a change. And hey, the fresh start might be good for Favre, too.

It’ll be a relief not to have to face him twice a year anymore.

Over the Line

Three Cubs fans beat up a Sox fan so badly he lost an eye. Now this is just embarrassing. It’s the kind of thing that gives European soccer fans a bad name. It’s bad enough that a sixteen-block radius around Wrigley Field smells like urine and beer for six months of the year. Cubs fans really don’t need anything else to make them look bad. I’ve been known to jump up and yell at my television to the point where my cats get freaked out, and I’ve had a heated argument or two about the merits of players on our various local sports teams, but damn. Unacceptable.

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