Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Armchair Superstar Mock Draft

Steve and I took about an hour in between, well, grilling and sitting around to do our very own NFL Round One Mock Draft. Here are the results. Thank you, Google Chat!

MF: With the first pick, the Detroit Lions select... I hate this pick.... but Matthew Stafford from Georgia.

SN: I agree, they are hoping he becomes the next Matt Ryan. They have a lot of holes, and it could be a long rookie season for Mr. Stafford.

MF: Yeah. The problem is, he is not even remotely Matt Ryan. Anyway, that's the pick.

SN: He's not even a Flacco.

MF: exactly.

SN: St Louis Rams: Second overall Pick: Jason Smith from Baylor.

They are looking to find the replacement for Pace. There is good tackle talent early, and I think he's the smart pick here.

MF: Yep. Great pass blocker, solid all around pick.

I think this third pick is as no-brainer – #3- Kansas City selects Aaron Curry from Wake Forest. This guy will make Pro Bowls.

SN: a Fodor favorite. I remember the feature you did on him. He can play all over the place now that they are switching to a 3-4.

MF: yes, very flexible, and i think he's a better pass rusher than people give him credit for. I wouldn't be shocked if he goes to the Lions instead.

SN: 4: Seattle Seahawks Select: Eugene Monroe OT from Virgina.

I know people are saying they are taking Sanchez here, but there's value later and QB is not an urgent need. This gives Jones some help on the line and potentially resurrects a rushing attack out west. Also a Phenomenal Pass Blocker.

MF: I agree... Question: Will Monroe turn out better or worse than D'Brickashaw Ferguson (the other VA Left Tackle/High Pick) ?

SN: I think he will be compared to D'Brickashaw (coolest name ever by the way) early and often because of the UVA thing. I think he will mature into a better pass blocker, but I don't know if he will be as good of a run blocker.

MF: Browns are taking Michael Crabtree at #5.

Crabtree is just an awesome ball player. I see him putting up Anquan Boldin-type numbers in the League.

SN: yeah, trading away Winslow, they need another target to throw to.

MF: plus Braylon might be gone, the trade rumors are swirling.

SN: 6: Cincinnati Bengals: Andre Smith.

I do find it funny that the Bengals get him with all the trouble they've had. I think Smith is the top talent in the draft, but has fallen because of the combine and his immaturity issues. He will solidify the line and protect Palmer.

MF: I heard some radio talking heads saying that this is a 'damned if you do, damned if you don't' situation. Either don't take him and look silly when he turns out awesome, or take him and get condemned for picking yet another character risk. Either way, I can't believe Marvin Lewis is still employed. Smith will be a good player.

MF: With the seventh pick, the Oakland Raiders select... Brian Orakpo, Texas, DE.

I bet you thought I was going to say Maclin. But I think they could use an athlete like Orakpo on defense to help give them a tougher identity. Besides, Johnny Lee Higgins is a BALLER! It really depends on how long Al Davis can last outside of his oxygen tent without the blood of children to keep him awake. The best thing for Oakland would be if he has to retreat to his cave before the pick.

SN: haha. I can't wait for them to hire Madden as a consultant. I'd love to see Madden and Davis standing next to each other.

SN: 8: Jacksonville Jaguars Select: Jeremy Maclin WR from Mizzou.

Speedy WR who can return kicks. They do need some Defensive help, but with Orakpo off the board I think Maclin is the choice.

MF: I think this is a great fit; Jacksonville has had a long run of 6'4" wideouts. They need a speedy guy and also a sick return man now that Maurice Jones-Drew is the man on offense.

SN: Yeah, I think Garrarad will be more then happy to throw to him.

MF: (Garrard will be happy not to see Mark Sanchez in a Jags cap on draft day)

9th pick, the Green Bay Packers select B.J. Raji from Boston College

Packers need Raji to solidify that defensive line. I think he's a no-brainer here.

SN: Raji is a phenomenal talent.

MF: I think I know who the Niners are going to take here...

SN: 10: San Francisco 49ers: Mark Sanchez USC.

Alex Smith did not pan out, so they need to figure out thier QB situation. Sanchez will be staying in California.

MF: Poor Singletary. Going from one first round qb flop to another. Butt yeah, that's the inevitable pick.

SN: Yeah, poor Samurai Mike. Can’t do it, can’t win with them.

MF: Buffalo (Toronto) has the eleventh pick, with our old friend Dick Jauron. I think the draftniks have this pick pegged. #11 is Penn State's Aaron Maybin, the second hybrid DE/OLB off the board behind Orakpo.

SN: I think there's going to be a plethora of DE's taken 10-15 the only question is who's going to which team.

MF: I would also not be shocked to see them reach for Jason Peters' replacement in Mike Oher or Eben Britton.

SN: but yeah, Maybin will be a solid DE but can also stand up and play some LB.

12 Denver Broncos: Tyson Jackson, LSU. They will need a Combo DE person as well and with Maybin off the board, Jackson is the right pick

8:36 PM MF: Jackson is a true 3-4 defensive end and a big guy, also a big risk because of questionable work ethic but I think he's the pick here.

And now for the Washington Dan Snyders at #13. Danny selects...Rey Maualuga, LB USC

to play the middle. London Fletcher is their best 'backer, and he is OLD!

SN: i think that's a good choice.

14 New Orleans: Brian Cushing OLB USC. New Orleans does not need Chris Wells, they got their offense figured out. They need defensive help and Cushing is exactly what they are looking for.

MF: Interesting. I think between locking down Vilma and adding Cushing, they're going to be pretty sick at LB next year. They could also go for a hybrid-type guy here.

Houston Texans, #15, Ohio State's Malcom Jenkins.

Houston doesn’t need front line help, they need some D-back help. He's a little slow to play corner, but will be a great free safety at the NFL level.

SN: Solid choice, the Texans defense is shaping up to be pretty nice.

MF: yeah great drafting with Super Mario, Okoye, Demeco Ryans.

SN: 16: San Diego Chargers: Chris Wells RB Ohio State. LT is on the down side of his career, here is his replacement. They don't really need a RB, but I think they would be hard pressed to pass him up.

MF: Beanie! Yeah. He's not as explosive as LT but would be a nice complement to LaDanian and Sproles. Good, safe pick.

SN: Good value for that pick too.

MF: Let's see... #17 is the J-E-T-S J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets. I think they're going with defensive line here to make up for the huge bust last year (Vernon Gholston) and will take Everette Brown from Florida State

SN: No QB? Nate Clemens gets the job? But no I totally agree, Coach Ryan likes good defenses (see: Baltimore), he will go defense first pick.

MF: yeah I think Freeman is a huge stretch anywhere near the first round. Then again, so are Stafford and Sanchez, but it's a bad year for QB's.

SN: With the 18th Pick the Draft the Chicago Bears take JAY CUTLER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


SN: 18 Denver: Clay Matthews USC LB If they didn't get DE with their first pick they'd take one here, but I still see them taking some defensive player and Matthews is solid.

MF: He certainly is. Have three LB's from the same team ever been drafted in the first round? I can't think of an example.

SN: I can't either.

MF: McShay? Kiper? they got nothin. (Editor’s Note: Anybody out there know? Please post a comment if you do.)

Tampa is picking at #19, and just got Byron Leftwich in the free-agent market.

I love Byron, ever since his Marshall days. Just a classic cannon arm and a good dude, though Jax didn't think so.

SN: One of the coolest highlights ever as his Guards carry him down the field and set him down so he can call out the play and throw again.

MF: But they're not going to go QB or TE here. Robert Ayers from Tennessee. Gaines Adams is a beast in the front seven. Basically everyone else in that front line could be replaced.

SN: Good choice.

20 Detroit: Peria Jerry DT Ole Miss.

After going offense early they now need defense.

MF: They need a lot of things. I think Peria Jerry is a good pick here.

SN: Jerry is a solid run stopper which is needed when 1/4 of your schedule is against Peterson and Forte.

MF: Agree 100%

At #21, Donovan McNabb gets another quick and dangerous target in Percy Harvin (Florida), who can also do some Westbrook spelling on 3rd downs and those little swings out of the backfield.

SN: I like that pick, gives them versatility to return kicks and do all sorts of fun things with him.

MF: He's a good value at 21, too.

SN: 22: Minnesota Vikings Select: Vontae Davis. I know this might be a little high for him, but you always hear the Vikings can run and stop the run. There really isn't good value at this pick to help the passing game so they help the passing game on the other side of the ball.

MF: I actually think Vontae is a phenomenal athlete. His brother is one of the most freakish guys in the NFL (Vernon Davis of the Niners) and its pretty obvious they're related.

MF: Okay. Now it's timefor Bill Belichek to pick at #23. It seems like the Pats are aging at a lot of positions. I think they'll go with the best value here and take Brandon Pettigrew from Oklahoma State. Benjamin Watson has not exactly intimidated people at TE. I think Brady will be happy to get a great check down guy (well, another one. He already has Welker).

SN: 24: Atlanta; Darrius Heyward-Bey Maryland. Looking for a target for Ryan. He's got some good speed and will love playing on the fast Georgia Dome surface for half the season.

MF: Yep, he's definitely a stud in the measurables. But I think Roddy White and Jenkins came on strong this year, if I'm Atlanta I want to address defense, where they lost a lot to free agency.

SN: I wanted pettigrew damnit!

MF: hahaha, maybe they'll trade up for him.

MF: With the #25 pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, the Miami Dolphins select Hakeem Nicks from North Carolina. A polished and talented possession guy who will look great opposite Teddy Ginn Junior.

SN: I like that choice. He's good, and you are MR UNC after all.

MF: The film on Nicks is pretty incredible and he's already played for a pro coach in Butch Davis.

SN: 26: Baltimore Ravens take Michael Oher, OT from Mississippi. Ogden has been considering retiring and even if he doesn't, he has fallen way off from where he was (which was amazing). Oher is exactly what they need.

MF: Perfect pick and the Ravens are pretty lucky he's lasted this long. Only because it's such a good year for tackles.

MF: I see about seven offensive linemen in this draft who will end up 90+ in Madden two years from now.

I think Jim Caldwell is going to go with the character pick, and it's also a pretty good all-around selection.

At 27, Indianapolis selects LB James Laurinaitis from Ohio State.

This kid can really play. Classic example of hurting your stock by staying one year too long.

SN: yeah, Laurinaitis is a good pick here, staying near home, has a real good pedigree, his dad was a real animal.

MF: that was such a lame pun.

SN: it was terrible

MF: ...sigh... it had to be done.

SN: i am pretty sure i got that from you.

MF: I wouldn't be surprised.

28 Philly Eagles: Eben Britton OT Arizona. Their bookend tackles have been around for all 5 NFC championship games, Britton will slide right in and be one half of the bookend for the next decade.

MF: Dead on. Have you taken every Offensive Lineman thus far? That's unreal.

SN: All 7 of them. Not that I'm biased. But it's also that a lot of teams I land on need them.

MF: Next up are the NY Giants.

9:37 PM I think they go value here. #27, Knowshown Moreno, UGA. He replaces Derrick Ward, who went to Tampa.

SN: He is a great value for this late in the round. I could see them going WR with Britt from Rutgers, but good choice.

30: Tennessee Titans: Evander Hood, DT Mizzou. No Haynesworth, no problem. Hood is their new tackle. 6-3, 298, solid player.

MF: He looked strong in the Alamo Bowl. So did Sean Weatherspoon, the Mizzou LB.

MF: Last pick for me, and it's the Arizona Cardinals. This is a tough one.

MF: I think they go with Paul Kruger, the OLB from Utah.

he's a hybrid type too and they could use some more pass rush.

SN: I like that choice. They do need defensive help, offense really isn't a big concern.

32: Pittsburgh: Alex Mack C Cal. If they had a weakness it was their O-Line play. It got a lot better as the year went on, but they still need some help.

MF: I knew you were going to do that!! Still I like sneaking him into the first round.

SN: 8 for 8! Linemen are half my picks; but then O-linemen are half the offense.

MF: I didn’t pick one. That's sad, because I really think it's a strong year for offensive linemen, you just beat me to 'em.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Blackhawks Playoff Preview

[Editor's Note: We have a special guest writer writing our Blackhawks Playoff Preview. Colin O'Shea. Colin is attending tonight's game and might be posting again tomorrow talking about the atmosphere of the UC.]

You say you’re a tried and tested Blackhawks fan? Does the thought of Theo Fleury getting beat up in a Columbus strip club keep you up at night? Were you willing to pay for Alexander Karpotsev’s plane ticket out of town? With the Blackhawks leading the NHL in attendance this year, “die hard” and “life long” fans started filling up the UC again. Well to you Hawks fans who stuck through the likes of Alpo (not the dog food) Suhonen, the promise of Mikhail Yakubov, and the charmin-like softness of Sergei Berezin (still convinced he was scared of his own shadow making contact with him) I say we welcome back the returning fans back with open arms. They simply were not sadistic enough to torture themselves as the Blackhawks faded into obscurity.

Many of the dormant fans might take a look at the Calgary organization and see some familiar faces. They are guided behind the bench by Mike Keenan (last seen tormenting goalies on the way to coaching the Blackhawks to the 1992 Stanley Cup finals), former Blackhawk captain and Coach Darryl Sutter is the team’s general manager (Adrian Aucoin, or Au-groin as he is known in some parts, was a captain of the Blackhawks in name only). A few other Blackhawk pylons (really Rene Bourque? 21 goals??) litter the Flames line up. Enough with the past though….

The Blackhawks current line up no longer represents an AHL team, but rather a balanced line up with three lines that can score and a 4th that can play an irritating role on the ice. If Sharp makes it back for game 1 it will be a huge boost to the Blackhawks line up, but the key to the forwards will be the third line of Sammy Phalsson (I still love you Wisniewski), Dustin Byfuglien, and Andrew Ladd. They will be drawing the assignment to shut down the Bourque-Jokinen-Iginla line (Really Bourque? Really?). Phalsson was acquired from Anaheim for this exact purpose. He was a key member in Anaheim’s capturing of the Stanley Cup and continually drew the assignment of shutting down the opponents top scoring threats.

This line contains two of the three Blackhawks who have hoisted Lord Stanley’s Cup (Ladd and Phalsson…you really didn’t think Byfuglien won a cup, did you? I would bet a lot of money that he would eat out of the cup on his day with it); they know the sacrifice that is needed to reach the promised land (yea, in my world the promised land is skating on frozen water with a giant silver cup).

The key to the defense, especially in the first two games when Coach Q can dictate match ups, will be Keith and Seabrook lining up against the Iginla line. This is so obvious I feel stupid telling you. I apologize.

One of the most important aspects of this series is how quickly the Blackhawks can transition the puck out of their zone to avoid the punishing forecheck the Flames are sure to employ. It is going to be key for Keith and Campbell (please no spin-o-ramas) to start the Hawks transition game while avoiding the punishment the Calgary forwards are going to be looking to deliver.

The Blackhawks have the speed and skill to burn (no pun intended) the Flames the entire series. The Calgary game plan is going to be to punish the Hawks all over the ice. The Hawks must make the Flames pay for their penalties. I imagine the Flames becoming irritated with the Hawks speed and skill and taking either lazy penalties (hooking) or a fair share of roughing penalties as they attempt to “intimidate” the young Hawks. The key will be knowing when to stand your ground and when to let Calgary parade itself to the sin bin.

And let’s not forget we do have a certain goalie who has won a ring (beating these Flames in the finals) and posts a career regular season record of 25-8-7 against them. The media loves to trumpet how young these Blackhawks are, but they have a wealth of experience in the most important position in the playoffs.

Things to watch:
-TUNE IN EARLY FOR THE will be televised….
-How Toews and Kane handle the playoff pressure.
-Calgary’s terrible Power Play. This should be good for a laugh.
-How big of a target does Patrick Kane have on his back?
-How many heart attacks will Mike Keenan have as a result of officiating?
-How overrated is Dion Phaneuf?

My prediction: Hawks in 5. Flames win game 3 in their return to Calgary.

I am going to game one and will follow up with my post game reaction.


Colin O’Shea

John Madden set to Retire

I just found this article saying the John Madden is going to retire from the booth.

I was a little surprised to hear it, but I do know that John is getting pretty old. I do think he was part of the best announcing team in the 90s when he was working with P.A.T. Summerall (Who’s real name isn’t Pat, but that’s what people called him because he was a kicker and came in for the P. oint A. fter T. ouchdown). This is when he was great at explaining the intricacies of the NFL in simple terms to the average sports fan.

In the 2000s John kind of became a glorified commentator who had almost become satire. Basically he had lost his touch. Instead of commentating on the intricacies that most people couldn’t notice, he started commentating on more obvious information.

Examples of which; My friends and I constantly joked, “If you don’t tackle the ball carrier, he’s not going to go down.” Or the overly obvious, “Whatever team scores more points, usually wins the game.”

All in all I am going to try to remember him for his better years in the 90s with P.A.T.

Now the big question at hand is, (well I know my colleague Fodor is extremely interested) what will become of the Madden Games Franchise? Will it continue? If it does, will they have Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth do the entire game but with John’s name on the cover?

If anybody knows, please let us know.

Bulls Playing Potentially KG less Celtics

So the Bulls had to win or the Sixers lose to allow the Bulls to lock up the 6th seed and a date with the Magic. Neither happened. So the Bulls got the 7th seed and get to play against the Celtics.

At first I was kind of bummed because the Magic have been slumping of late and might allow the Bulls to pull the upset. Now they get to face the defending champs.

However I read this story on ESPN today that says KG might miss the entire playoffs. This could allow the Bulls to pull the upset. The Celtics won the title last year because of their defense. Now their defense will not be as good without their back line of defense.

Do I think this will turn the tide and put the Bulls over the Celtics? No I still think the Celtics will win the series but this will allow the Bulls to maybe win a game or two.

The most important part of this postseason is for Derek Rose to get some experience. I want him to get used to the tempo and the atmosphere’s of the NBA playoffs which will benefit him in the future.

Lastly, with this KG injury, the thought starts creeping in my head. Well maybe without KG the Bulls could beat the Celtics. Then they would face the winner of the Sixers and Magic. As mentioned before the Magic have been slumping and the Bulls beat the Sixers down the stretch. I am not saying it’s going to happen but, I have gone from Bulls being early exit to an outside chance to making it to the conference finals where they would get swept by the Cavs.

Speaking of the Cavs; First I don’t care that they didn’t play their full lineup against the Sixers which potentially cost the Bulls the Six seed. But without KG, I see the Cavs cruising to the NBA finals. They will be plenty rested by the time they face whoever makes it out of the rough and tumble west. What’s all this mean? $20 into Steve’s pocket! If only I had gotten to Vegas a few weeks early when the odds were still 6-1.

Going out West I heard an interesting stat this morning on Mike and Mike in the morning. The Mavs are only the 5th team ever to win 50 games in a season for at least 9 straight seasons. That’s pretty impressive right. Of these 5 teams, the Mavs are the only team that never won a title. Not only that, but every other team won at least 3 TITLES!!!!! The other teams, Russell’s Celtics, Magic and Kareem’s Lakers, Bird’s Celtics, and Duncan’s Spurs. That’s a pretty Impressive list.

Lastly as bummed as I was about the Bulls missing the 6th seed; I am glad I am not a Houston fan. The Rockets were winning their game, and had they won that game they would have been the 2nd seed in the west. With their loss, they fell all the way to 5. Ouch! That’s going from home court advantage against anybody not named the Lakers to potentially no home court advantage at all.

Random notes

Since the Stanley Cup Playoffs are under way there is only one way to celebrate. By listening to the greatest fight song EVER!!!!

Hartford Brass Bonanza I still can’t believe this is a fight song, let alone a hockey fight song. Yet every time I hear it I love it.

Also I expect the United Center to be like this tonight.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Some Bulls Love

Hey, how 'bout those Chicago Bulls? I don't think there is a hotter team not named Cleveland in the NBA. They have won eight of their last ten to lock up at least the 7-seed in the playoffs, and face Toronto tonight at 8. With a win, they could pass Philly for the six seed.

Honestly, I think they would rather face the elderly but still proud Boston Celtics in the first round (preview of that coming if/when it happens) but whether its Boston or Orlando, these Bulls have a fighting chance to advance in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Scoop Jackson has a nice article on pending ROY Derrick Rose over at The video, with commentary by David Thorpe, shows some of Rose's sweet moves. Also, who knew that David Thorpe has a little bit of a lisp?

Bulls beat reporter K.C. Johnson at the Tribune writes about the young Bulls getting ready for playoff-style basketball with some intense practices and advice from vets like Brad Miller and Kirk Hinrich.

I'm pretty pumped for Chicago back in the postseason! Anyone remember that first-round sweep of the Heat a few years back? Good times.

Some North Side Perspective

[Editor's Note: This piece is written by guest writer and potential full time writer Derek Wilson. Let us know what you think]

Hello blog universe! I think it’s about time for what the masses that read this blog have been clamoring for: A CUBS fans perspective!

Let me start by introducing myself. My name is Derek and I have been a diehard Cub’s fan for as long as I can remember. I won’t go into the drama that this affliction causes at least once a year in my life…mostly because I am fairly certain that if you are a living, breathing, human being you probably have a good idea.

As I sit here in my apartment 3 blocks from what I like to call the biggest beer garden in the country, Cubbie fever has already begun to sweep across the north side of Chicago. Anybody who is remotely a Cubs fan knows that every year Spring breeds optimism in Cub nation at about the same rate rabbits breed in general. Whether this year culminates in something that hasn’t happened since America’s fattest president took office remains to be seen.

While the Cubs are off to a solid 5-2 start, that means there are still 155 games left. So here are my thoughts, predictions, and general ramblings for the rest of the season that is quickly 1/23rd of the way completed. Grab yourself a newly Kraeusened Old Style and enjoy.


Reed Johnson and his amazing defense continues to impress me. If you haven’t seen this catch, watch it…and then watch it again to appreciate just how awesome it was. That is the second year in a row that Reed has made a ridiculous play in the outfield. With his defense and bat (and the questionable health of Milton Bradley) I don’t think he should ride the pine as much as he does. I think we will see Reed’s playing time increase as the season goes on, and with him in the lineup more and more I think we will see this team take off come June.

Now it is time for a quick English lesson. The following is the definition of the word enigma: “a person of puzzling or contradictory character.” They might as well paste a picture of Kosuke Fukudome on their website next to that word. As much as I would like to believe that Kosuke will continue this current tear for the rest of the year, he showed last year that he can fall off the map for months at a time. I think that the poor second half showing by Kosuke last year was more a matter of the Wrigley faithful getting in his head as he struggled to get acclimated to our culture. I think we will see a more consistent Kosuke who will finish this year with a .300 average, .400 OBP and double digit homers and steals.

We can already see that Alfonso Soriano is poised for a gigantic year. He is my pick for MVP as I think he will hit over 40 home runs and drive in 100 this year, even out of the lead-off spot.
Bradley has had great plate discipline so far, which I love, but has already shown that his health will be a major question mark all year. He already turned an ankle rounding first base and now has this tight groin. I’m hoping for 130 game out of Milton, but if I was betting I wouldn’t go over 110.


I think that the rest of the Cubs line-up is solidly built, with a nice blend of righties and lefties. I think Mike Fontenot will produce with his everyday role while I am still a bit skeptical of his defense. I think the defense up the middle could cost the cubs a game or two, with the Cajun connection of Fonty/Ryan Theriot.

Derrek Lee is starting to lose me as a fan. His approach at the plate is driving me crazy and his body language just makes it seem like he is not confident in himself. I hope that he can turn it around, but he needs to move down in the order. I think we will see quite a few GIDPs out of him again this year and I may throw my remote through my tv because of it.

Aramis Ramirez and Geovany Soto will both produce this year. I like Lou’s approach of keeping Soto down in the order to keep his mind on calling the games and take the pressure off his bat. He’s still a young player experience-wise and could falter on defense if his offense begins to slump at all. Ramirez should be hitting 3rd or 4th in the order to try and maximize his at-bats. I think we will see him have his best statistical season of his career in 2009.


The first thing I need to discuss here is the great game that Ted Lilly pitched in the home opener against the Rockies. He was one out shy of making it through 7 innings of hitless ball to go along with 8Ks, great game for Ted. All I heard after Lilly’s first start this season was that he is going to give up a ton of home runs this year and that the Cubs were in trouble. Nobody seemed to care that the Cubs opened that game up with a pair of four run innings and were winning 8-0 before the Astros knew what hit them. I’m of the belief that a pitcher should go out and throw strikes with a lead like that, and that is exactly what Lilly did. His final stats weren’t to glamorous because he gave up 4 home runs, but he walked zero and the Cubs won. A major league pitcher doesn’t win 17 games in a year by accident; I think Lilly is going to lead the team in wins this year.

The rest of the rotation should produce as well. I want to see Ryan Dempster master the control that we saw him lose in the playoffs last year. Carlos Zambrano looks good so far and should finish up with his typical stats. Rich Harden looked dominant in his lone start so far. I think that we will see him pitch very well when healthy, and if he can get 25 starts could post a sub 2.5 ERA and double digit wins. Sean Marshall will be an interesting 5th starter for us. When given a chance to start he has looked like a solid #3 starter. He will produce when given the chance and gives us another lefty to complement Lilly. I like Sean to finish up with an ERA in the high 3s and double digit wins as well.


If the cubs have an Achilles Heel this is where it is. Neal Cotts is the lone lefty in the bullpen and struggled with inconsistency since we obtained him from that team on the South side. Not sure the rest of the bullpen is worth mentioning…most of them scare the crap out of me when they take the mound. We could get a pleasant surprise form Aaron Heilman or David Patton though; I like them both so far. If the bullpen doesn’t shape up the Cubs season could end up resembling this or this.

I’m not sold on Kevin Gregg at closer. He obviously does not have close to the same stuff as Carlos Marmol. But if Marmol does take over as closer, then who gets the Cubs out of bases loaded jams in the 7th and 8th innings? It’s a catch-22. In the end I think that the Cubs stick with Gregg, who will have an up and down season and finish with about 30 saves and a 4ish ERA.

(Side note: Marmol will get his fair share of save opportunities and shine, but is more valuable for now as a set-up man. If Gregg pans out and closes out a championship on the north side this year great, if not, 2 years down the road when Jose Ceda is closing games for the Marlins the Cubs will be regretting this trade.)

Final Prediction:

I have the Cubs finishing up the season with a record of 99-63, falling short of their 100th win on the last day of the season. I think the Cardinals will provide a ton of competition for the division title, but will wind up winning the wild card with 91 wins. The rest of the division will shape up with the Brewers in 3rd followed by the Reds, Astros, and finally, the Pirates.
A couple quick notes:

· All this writing is making me hungry…how about a 4 pound pretzel?? That is what they have begun serving at Wrigley this year. They are calling it the “Northside Twist” and it comes in a pizza box and serves 3-5 people.

· Has anybody tried the newly Kraeusened Old Style yet? I had it last time I stopped in Sluggers and was pleasantly surprised. It is definitely more along the lines of a MGD or Budweiser now, as opposed to Busch or Natty Light before.

Last one, I promise:

· Indiana football commitment Nick Zachery has been named to the USA Football Junior National Team. I’ll be honest, I had no idea there was a Junior National Team, but it is nice to see some accolades for him. He is one of 7 on the team that will be playing his college ball in the Big Ten. I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do for our Hoosiers.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Sox Over Twins: A View from the Upper Deck

Should have posted this yesterday, but my procrastinatin' heart got the best of me.

I did the best possible thing on Easter Sunday and went to one of my own personal holy sanctuaries, Sox Park on 35th Street. Since I couldn't talk anyone into heading down with me, I went solo. Now, this was a first. As far as I can remember, I have never gone to a sporting event all by myself! Well, unless you count riverboat poker as a 'sporting event.'

Anyway. Just a few notes from the game, which I may expand later if I decide to 'B/R' this article. (funny pic from SI)

Mark Buehrle was the biggest reason I was set on going to this game. I just love watching this guy pitch. He's not a strikeout artist, he's definitely not a flamethrower or a Kenny Powers-esque character on the mound. But I love the way he controls the pace of the game and makes hitters dance to his tune.

He was in top form on Sunday. After giving up a solo homer early to former Devil Ray Delmon Young, Buehrle settled down and cruised. Even as he was saddled with an unusually high pitch count (in large part thanks to one Joe Crede at-bat where the former Sox 3B took about twelve pitches to go down), the WhiteSox ace induced ground outs, fly balls, and even picked up five K's. His final line for the game– 6.1 IP, 2H, 0BB, 5K, 1ER. And one standing ovation from the Cell faithful. Ladies and Gentlemen, my all-time favorite Chicago White Sox pitcher - Mark Buehrle.

The new guys in the Sox regular lineup looked okay. Dewayne Wise played last year, I know, but now he is going to be a key part of this team and hit the ball well, going 2-for-2 behind Alexei Ramirez. Josh Fields plays a mean third base and swings a mean bat. It was good to see Crede back in town (the Hispanic family next to me had a "WE MISS YOU, JOE CREDE!" sign) but if Fields keeps playing well, Crede will be missed less than other 2005 heroes like Aaron Rowand or El Duque.

I also like Brent Lillibridge and Chris Getz.

Don Cooper's bullpen looked okay in this one too. Octavio "Oh, do tell" (there's a Farmio and DJ Cheesy Nickname for ya) Dotel is a cold blooded 'K'iller when he is hitting the strike zone. Scott Linebrink is rock solid.

On the other hand, Clayton Richard didn't look like he was long for the big league club, giving up two quick hits and a walk to load the bases in the ninth, as the Sox led 6-1. There was a big sigh of relief throughout the stands when Ozzie yanked him and inserted Bobby Jenks.

The big boy looked awesome. With the bases loaded and nobody out, he promptly fanned Crede, then got Delmon Young (who had that solo shot earlier) to ground into a double play. Game over. It's a White Sox winner! This team is going to be in playoff contention, I can feel it.

One annoying side note before I get to the great things about The Cell. The guy and lady behind me and to my right (I was in section 526, second row, seat 14) would not shut up the entire game about their financial status! I'm especially blaming the dude here. 30something, North Face jacket, kept talking about how much they were paying on their mortgage (5 3/8%), how much his house cost ($417,000), what their favorite sushi place was, oh my GOD it was so frickin' annoying. I didn't really notice until the fourth inning, and after that it was like Chinese water torture–he just kept yapping and yapping.

I thought to myself, "This is like going to freakin' Wrigley, except less filth and sticky seats, and there isn't a post blocking the field. Just watch the damn game!"

Well, sure enough, this broseph got up at the end of the game and announced to the old dudes next to him that he was a 'Die Hard Cubs Fan' (read: Loves to go to Wrigleyville as many as three nights a week for drinking, possible baseball), and then asked about the possible locations of bars around the Cell.

Why do Sox fans dislike Cubs fans? We watch the game. You watch for the beer lady to come around. That pretty much covers it.

On the brighter side, everyone else around me was great. The old cooters behind me to my left were classic Old School Sox guys. I think they were also deaf as a board, but they didn't move the whole game and were clearly loving it. The large Hispanic family had many children. They were all well-behaved and watching the game. Awesome parenting! Raise 'em right.

Nancy has picked up some Kayne West "Love Lockdown" on the organ! That was hilarious.

Lastly, all of the ushers and ballpark employees were really nice. And the Best's Kosher with grilled onions is the finest hot dog in all of baseball, bar none.

Nothing like a day on the South Side, watching Chicago's real baseball team.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Link for Chicago Fans and Link for Sox Fans

Good read for Chicago Fans

Good read for Sox fans

Sox, Bulls, Hawks, Masters, Some Cubs Hate and Random Notes

So as you can tell from the title that this article will be all over the place. I have thoughts on each, but not enough thoughts to warrant an entire piece. So if you want to skip around, feel free.

White Sox: (12:05 first Pitch)

First off, I was glad to see the Sox win their first series of the season. Especially in the way they did it. As Ozzie always says, just win 2 of 3 and we’ll be pretty good.

I was a little worried about Colon, especially after hearing concerns about his arm stamina, but he pitched phenomenal. I still want to see more before I’m a full believer. I also and still concerned about his injuries. Then to have his performance followed up but a solid Mark Buehrle outing after a shaky first time out was good to hear. Maybe that will put to rest some of the rumblings about Buehrle’s off season work out regime. As I said earlier I think our pitching can keeps us afloat until our batters figure out how to hit again. Even if they never do, I think our pitching rotation can keeps us competitive throughout the year.

Secondly, today starts an important series for me. I know some of you don’t find my wagers interesting (not to name names cough Posey cough cough) but too bad. I wagered lunch with a manager in my department, who is from Detroit, that the Sox will win more head to head games then the Tigers.

This game vs Detroit starts an 11 Game road trip. That does not sound fun this early, but hopefully the weather will be better when they get back.

Lastly, Glad to Joe Crede back at Sox Park. He did exactly what Frank Thomas did on his first trip back, Home Run in first at bat off Jose Contreas; that I was not that glad to see.


Fantastic Masters yesterday. We finally got to see a Sunday pairing of Tiger and Lefty. Too bad it wasn’t in the final group. But both of them play fantastic most of they day which kept me thinking, these guys could actually get all the way back. They came really close until the limped across the finish line.

A playoff is always high drama. I was cheering for each player, and feel bad for Perry. Bogie on 71 and bogie on 72 to come back to the field and tie for the Masters. But that’s pressure for you.

Bulls: (6:30 CSN)

The rivalry….renewed. Bulls Pistons TONIGHT! I have heard some people call this the biggest game for the Bulls this decade. I find that a little hard to believe seeing how we made the playoffs a few times, even advancing to the conference semi’s once.

Bulls have two games left in their season and are essentially tied (standings) with the 76ers for the 6th seed. (I believe the 76ers have the tie breaker). The Sixers end with Celtics and Cavs. So they could easily lose both those games and open a door for the Bulls.

The Bulls also have a 1 game lead over the Pistons for the 7th playoff spot. Tonight vs Pistons if the Bulls win they will guarantee at least the 7th seed. I don’t really think it matters if the Bulls get 6-8. I don’t see them winning any series. I think they might be able to get a game or two from the Magic or Celtics. Lastly, I hope they end the season with a .500 recorded or better. They end the season with a home game against Toronto.


Congrats to the Hawks from clinching the 4th seed. If you haven’t heard, Game 1 has been announced for Thursday at 7:30 (CST). (Rest of the schedule can be seen here) Hawks went 4-0 vs Calgary and Calgary has been sliding for awhile, so I am happy with this matchup. I hope they make it to game 5 so I can see them, but you would not hear me complaining about a sweep.

Cubs: (Today is looking like Rain Delayed)

Glad to see that ESPN is already on the CUBS'…well let’s just say the national media is interested in the Cubs already. Cubs Brewers on Sunday night baseball followed by Cubs Cardinals on Sunday night baseball followed by two Fox Saturday games of the week. Not to be Cub hating (ok maybe a little) but seriously, there are 29 other teams out there. Yes, I know us Sox fans have an inferiority complex. I know they are a solid team, they draw in rating and should cruise into another easy NL Central crown (I still say watch out for the Cards) but lets see some other teams on TV please. This almost makes me long for more Yankees Red Sox talk; almost.

Random Notes

Coach K is doing a book signing at Boarders on State Street in Chicago today at 12:30 if that interests you. launched today so check that out.

Speaking of ESPN, Lent is over and I can watch again. I didn’t really mind missing most of the shows I used to watch (Mike and Mike, Sportscenter, PTI, etc.) It was the games that I missed. There were a whole bunch of conference tourney games I couldn’t see (including ‘Cuse vs UConn) as well as some good NIT Matchups I wanted to watch.

For people who are tired of all the Sox love, we don’t really care, but tomorrow we have a guest writer writing a piece about the Cubs, so check back tomorrow for that.

Any thoughts on my rants and ramblings? Let me know