Let’s join Sherman and Mr. Peabody for a trip back in the way Back Machine, shall we? The day before the Diminutive Diva of Despair quit his job to seek his fortune, and his love life apparently, on the Internet, I took a second out of my busy day to look at the Bears’ offensive line. Specifically, I took a peek at the Chris Williams signing and subsequent nightmare.
Before we go on, I need to point out that I am not a fan of Mr. Angelo either. While his defensive picks in the drafts have been solid, I am convinced he has a 13 year old girl and a Ouija Board picking the offense. Even so, Chris Williams’ injury was no secret to any NFL team and several had him pegged to go high in the draft. Why? Because the injury he has has been played through by NFL lineman for years. It is something they would need to deal with, but it was not a deal breaker.
As to the Offensive Line, the fact that they are so porous is what made Williams worth the risk. But, that’s that silly reality again, so let’s move on.
In other words, 3 years ago we were bemoaning the fact that the O-line was barely credible. In truth they have been useless since about 2005, but this site wasn’t here then. Since it has been here there have been 180 posts (just plug offensive line into the advanced search function and select Chicago Bears from the drop down menu) about the pain the O-line has caused both quarterbacks and fans.
In other words, this is not news to anyone except - and, no, I am not surprised - Jerry Angelo. Sean Jensen at the Sun Times reports on the Bears’ GM’s interview with his own website where he points out that he did all he could possibly do.
No, I am not making this s**t up, quit laughing at me.
Bears general manager Jerry Angelo insisted that his club did plenty to address the offensive line during the offseason.
“We did everything you could possibly do to that position,” Angelo told the team’s website. “Nobody did more than the Chicago Bears. We drafted a player in the first round. We brought in a player with a lot of NFL experience who is still in his prime.
“We developed young players who are going into their second and third years, including another high draft pick in Chris Williams. We like our eight linemen. That’s not an issue. Injuries happen, and then you have to adjust accordingly.”
Angelo was referring to rookie offensive tackle Gabe Carimi, who is sidelined for about a month with a dislocated right kneecap, as well as veteran veteran Chris Spencer, who started at right guard against the New Orleans Saints.
Despite a dreadful second half in which quarterback Jay Cutler was sacked six times, Angelo said the offensive line isn’t entirely to blame.
“Everything bad that happened on Sunday wasn’t all because of poor offensive line play. Believe me when I tell you that,” he said. “It was a collective failure. The defense and special teams share part of that as well. So let’s not beat up on the offensive line.”
But with Carimi expected out and starting right guard Lance Louis still rehabbing an ankle injury, the Bears need veteran backups to step up and be effective.
Asked about his faith in Spencer and Frank Omiyale, Angelo said, “We have to have faith in them.
“We trained them. They’re ours. They’ve got to step up and get it done. It’s that simple. You don’t like to play musical chairs at any position, but that’s particularly true on the offensive line. You want to keep those five guys the same week-in and week-out.
“They don’t have to be the best players, but they have to be players who know each other the best on the field. That’s football. So obviously that’s going to be our challenge, and I’m confident that the coaches are going to get not only the best out of our players but know exactly what they can and can’t do and play accordingly.”
Angelo pointed to the most obvious key plays, a 79-yard touchdown pass by the Saints on third and long and the sack-fumble of Cutler, when he took a blind-side hit.
“It was a three-point game at that point and I felt we were playing pretty well in a very hostile environment,” Angelo said. “Anytime you play in a dome, the crowd noise definitely can have an adverse effect. After that point, the wheels started to come off.
“The mistakes we made led to five more sacks. It was obvious we didn’t handle the adversity of the game well enough.”
Angelo said the Bears won’t have to wait long to see how well they handle blitzes; the Green Bay Packers’ defense uses the same approach.
“So we’re going to get a real good test to see how far we have come this week,” he said.
The Bears are 1-1, and Angelo said there’s no need to “push the panic button.”
“We know we’re a good football team; we just have to go out there and prove it,” he said. “It’s that simple.”
Ah, yes, the ever popular technique of running the entire line over with the bus that you laid them in front of in the first place.
Let’s face it, my Ouija Board comment above may be giving more credit than is due to Halas Hall.
Here’s all you need to know about Mr. Angelo’s high quality offensive line and all the depth the team has. When Gabe Carmini went down fans and media and players all bemoaned his loss and what it will mean to the team’s chances.
Gabe was playing in his 6th, that’s right you are reading that number correctly, game. The whole success of the team rests on a rookie.
Shades of Marc Columbo anyone?
Just FYI, another similarity in the Carmini/Columbo connection is this; both teams had been to the playoffs the year before. In 2002, the year Columbo was injured, the Bears went 4-12.
I’m not saying, I’m just saying.
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Yesterday I started to write an article about Dale Bowman, the outdoor’s writer for the Sun Times. Long before Dale showed his stunning good taste and journalistic insight by becoming a card carrying member of Jay The Joke, I’d always liked his outdoor’s articles over most others for 2 simple reasons; (1), he managed to teach readers something without getting preachy and (2), he knows that Chicago doesn’t stop at the Ike and has even noted that in print. Another thing I like about him is that he offers many ways for families to do stuff in and around the city for free or very close to free. So, if you want to pry your kids away from PS3 for a while and do something useful, check out his columns.
As I said, I started to write about him. But then the morning got away from me, the Bears game came on, beer got involved and I suddenly realized that there were these alien things on my keyboard which may, or may not, have been letters and numbers. I decided to not to risk it.
So, just pretend I wrote something legible and go click on Dale’s link above and be enlightened.
There, that wasn’t too hard.
what was hard was watching the Bears game with a pre-teen in the room. I am normally given to the occasional colorful colloquialism and have been known, only while awake, to utter some phrases that others may not wish to hear uttered in their house of worship. However, boor that I may be, I am not a cad. I do not use language like that around kids. Which meant I spent a good portion of the Bears’ game running outside to “clear my throat” and try and get my blood pressure under control.
Jay “The Human Piñata” Cutler may as well have been thrown at the defensive line for all the good any of the play calling did him. The Onion, this week, ran a joke headline that read “Bear to prove Cutler’s toughness by calling plays that will get him sacked.”
I feel the need to remind Mike Martz that the Onion is a satirical magazine and no one at Halas Hall should have taken this to be a good idea.
They did but they shouldn’t have.
Some people, such as our own Big Star, seem to believe that the offensive line appears to have regressed since week one.
Yes, it has. But, and this is a bigger but than any ever seen on J-Lo in her booty bumping prime, the offensive line was solid in week one when Cutler was asked to move no more than 3 steps. Yesterday he was asked to provide dance routines before being allowed to release the ball. As Rick Telander noted, using Cutler as a tackling dummy is not the best way to ensure a successful season.
When Jay Cutler spoke after the game his voice was a weak croak — what you’d expect from a frog if it had been run over on a bicycle path and was speaking its last words.
In fact, Cutler had been run over.
He also had been gouged and pummeled and slammed and, particularly, kicked in the throat.
Every time he cleared his throat, standing there in his dark blue banker’s suit, trying to answer questions, you wanted to hand him some warm soup or a new trachea.
Cutler had been knocked down and plastered and steamrolled and sacked six times in the second half alone in the Bears’ dismal 30-13 loss to the Saints.
In the first half he had been harassed into throwing an intentionally grounded pass and then was drilled in the back a minute later on a blind-side blitz by Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins.
After that one, Cutler stayed on one knee for a spell and staggered around before returning to the huddle.
You expected a boxing referee to check his gloves and begin to count him out.
Amazingly, none of the stuff Cutler accrued in the first half counted as a sack.
Call it what you want. But here’s the deal, folks: one more game like this and you can kiss your 2011 Bears starting quarterback goodbye.
Seven-step drops are killers
Not even Mike Tyson could withstand a weekly diet of what the Saints fed Cutler.
“We hope he doesn’t have to throughout the season,’’ coach Lovie Smith said in response to the concept of Cutler experiencing similar beat-downs. “Jay and the rest of our team didn’t play well. A lot of things happened that we can’t let continue.’’
Let’s start at the top. What in the hell was offensive coordinator Mike Martz doing by calling all those seven-step-drop passes for Cutler?
On third-and-15 at midfield with 10 minutes to play in the fourth quarter, down 30-13, Cutler’s steps went like this: 1-2-3-4-5-6-BLAM-O! Abruptly he was wearing linebacker Jonathon Casillas for a front lawn.
So we’ve got to question the offensive line, which seemed confused and slow and plain bad. Are Martz’s and line coach Mike Tice’s blocking assignments too difficult to execute? Or is it the O-line in need of such?
The loss of rookie starting right tackle Gabe Carimi with a knee injury didn’t help. But, I swear there were times when the Bears line was nothing but multiple swinging doors.
Center Roberto Garza was generally solid, but he tossed a shotgun snap at Cutler’s shoelaces when the quarterback was backed all the way into the end zone. Perfect! It was amazing that Cutler was able to grab the ball and somehow throw it out of bounds.
Then you’ve got wide receivers Johnny Knox and Devin Hester being targeted 15 times and catching three balls. And you have wide receiver Earl Bennett catching one early pass for nine yards and getting equally as splattered as Cutler.
After that collision with safety Roman Harper, Bennett lay on the field a long time seemingly unable to breathe. He left the game with a chest injury and didn’t return.
Jay’s passes well off the mark
Which brings us to Cutler himself.
You can’t get so desperate that you lead your receivers into lamp posts and brick walls. And you can’t hold onto the ball so long that every blocking scheme breaks down.
All NFL quarterbacks live with dangerous pressure — maybe you saw the Cowboys’ Tony Romo get clocked Sunday — so there is a delicate balance between successful offensive aggressiveness and near-suicide.
“It was a long day out there,’’ gargled Cutler.
When you complete only 19 of 45 passes, something is off. And there were times when Cutler was just plain inaccurate, throwing behind or way beyond receivers. And why he kept trying to throw lobs into the corners with small receivers we do not know.
What’s for sure is that Cutler led the league last season with 56 sacks. And he has been sacked 11 time in two games this season. At this rate he’ll finish with 88.
Which is a joke. Because he’ll never finish at all.
David Carr of the Houston Texans was sacked an NFL record 76 times in 2002. But Carr was a rookie and the Texans were a first-year expansion team.
Cutler’s in his sixth year, and the Bears have been around since 1920.
Oh, and David Carr never made it to a sixth season as a starter.
Pray for our quarterback/frog.
Not a good sign, in the fourth quarter we were calling out the jersey number of the player most likely to sack Cutler. It was a fun way to keep things interesting.
Did I mention the beer?
Anyway, the Bears lost. They are now 1-1. When they won last week they looked like world beaters. When they lost this week they looked like last year’s pre-season team.
Since I’m a Bears fan, no matter how irritated I get with them, I’ll offer a simple solution: duct tape Martz’ mouth shut and leave the play calling to Tice.
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This has been an interesting week. For the first time in the history of NASCAR a pair of twins competed in the same race. And, bonus for calendar fans, the twins are girls. Angela & Amber Cope became the first twins to complete a race as well. Of course that makes sense since they were the first twins to compete in the first place, but NASCAR does like its stats. Here’s the problem. Both ladies are quite pleasing to the eye. That’s not a problem. Both are the kind of women that mothers like to use as role models. That’s not the problem either. They’re lousy drivers. That’s the problem.
AOL Sports has the basics.
Amber Cope, driving the No. 6 Dodge, finished 26th, three laps down, while Angela Cope was involved in two incidents within 18 laps of each other early in the race and finished 30th, six laps down. Series veteran Ron Hornaday won the race.
That’s the polite version. Here’s what my buddy Carl, a huge NASCAR fan, claimed was the running commentary from the pit crews for the other drivers.
Get the hell out of the way they’re f***ing coming around again.
I saw some of the race, gotta love cable, and have to admit they didn’t exactly look comfortable at speeds of over 70mph.
And, unlike their father, I don’t blame the cars. They may not have been the fastest cars on the track but their wheels were pointed in the right direction until the girls took over steering.
Oh well, none of that has to do with Chicago sports, other than the fawning attention they’ve been getting from some local reporters for reasons that baffle me. But what does have to do with Chicago sports is the, upcoming, Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame ceremonies. Our old pal - an all around nice guy who’s kind to kittens, capable of performing open heart surgery on a roller coaster with a spork while taking out bands of ninja terrorists with nothing but an i-Pod and a rubber band - Elliott Harris has the story.
The Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame has an all-star lineup for its 2011 event.
Among those scheduled to be inducted at the annual dinner and ceremonies on Sept. 21 (cocktails at 6 p.m., dinner at 7) at Hawthorne Race Course are Connecticut basketball coach Jim Calhoun, Chicago Blackhawks legend and Hockey Hall of Famer Bobby Hull, Boston Celtics coach Glenn “Doc” Rivers, pro football Hall of Famer Barry Sanders and former Notre Dame and Pittsburgh Steelers running back Rocky Bleier.
Calhoun will receive the Ray Meyer College Coach of the Year Award. Hull will receive the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame Lifetime Achievement Award. Sanders is to receive the Gale Sayers Award. Bleier is the recipient of the George Connor Award. Also in this year’s class are former NFL players Howard Griffith (Illinois, Mendel Catholic and Julian H.S.) Dave Casper (Notre Dame), Mickey Pruitt (Colorado and Robeson H.S.), Paul Flatley (Northwestern), John Holecek (Illinois and Loyola Academy) and the late Mike Rabold (Indiana, Fenwick H.S.).
Other inductees include Milt Pappas (Chicago Cubs, 17 years in MLB), Mabel Landry Staton (DePaul, Olympic Games), Steve Zucker (athlete representation). Former WGN sports editor Jack Rosenberg is to receive the inaugural Jack Brickhouse Media Award. Also in the Class of 2011 are Saint Xavier University basketball coach Tom O’Malley, longtime Gordon Tech football coach Tom Winiecki, volleyball player and coach Therese Boyle-Niego (Loyola, Pacific, Mother McCauley) and veteran Big Ten Conference football official Frank Strocchia.
Veteran sportscaster Tom Shaer is to be master of ceremonies. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Father John Smyth Standing Tall Foundation. Tickets ($125 each) and information are available at www.chicagolandsportshalloffame.com or from Howard Fagan at (708) 780-3679 or (708) 426-5212.
“Every September, we are proud to welcome distinguished men and women to the Hall and the group we present in this, our 15th year, is among the best ever,” Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame chairman of the board Charles Carey said. “The remarkable and truly memorable careers of these legendary figures of sport deserve the grand celebration with which we will salute them. Most of all, we’re happy to welcome so many fans and supporters to join us. Together, we will honor greatness.”
It is a good cause and a chance to actually meet some of your favorite athletes. I’ve been to a few events like this in my years and have discovered that, as long you’re not drooling or rude, the athletes will be happy to spend a little time with you. In some cases, if you catch them by the bar, they’ll even buy you a beer.
Also related to Chicago sports this week, Devin Hester weighed in the efficacy of the new kick off rules in the NFL. Brad Biggs has the whole story so I’ll save my comments for the end.
Devin Hester was not part of a record-setting weekend for returns in the NFL, but the Bears’ dangerous weapon sure enjoyed watching players speed to the end zone all around the league.
There were eight return touchdowns — five punts and three kickoffs — on opening weekend, setting a league mark for any week in NFL history, proof that new kickoff rules haven’t dramatically changed the landscape. The Bears prepare to face the Saints, who went into the record books for allowing a 108-yard kickoff return by Green Bay rookie Randall Cobb, which tied for the longest all-time.
But the biggest thing Hester took out of the weekend was that the rule change — moving kickoffs from the 30- to the 35-yard line — is not going to limit concussions. Not in his opinion, anyway. That was the goal of the competition committee, to reduce the number of full-speed collisions taking place. The three kickoff return touchdowns were all more than 100 yards (also an NFL record for one weekend), evidence no one is looking to take a touchback.
“It’s just showing the NFL that moving the line up five yards didn’t budge things a bit,” Hester said. “They got a couple touchbacks but you’ve still got guys bringing it out and at the end of the day that rule is pointless. It’s not going to prevent concussions because guys are bringing it out five to eight yards deep in the end zone. We’re still coming out with it. And that’s taking away from some of the fun in the NFL because guys are going to bring it out regardless.”
Hester and special teams coordinator Dave Toub said early-season errors on special teams are primarily to blame for such a big number of scores.
“It’s a record but it always happens early in the season,” Hester said. “Special teams are trying to figure out who they have. … You put guys in position and in preseason you can’t really tell. The veterans are on special teams now and some of them didn’t do a whole lot in preseason, so you really can’t tell how good of a special teams player they are. … As the season goes on, the big returns will start slimming down.”
Toub said it’s a matter of spacing and timing, particularly with the new kickoff rule. Small errors that create big creases are ironed out quickly. He doesn’t believe the absence of an offseason program was a culprit in the big returns, and pointed out Hester almost had a long return but tripped when he got out near Falcons kicker Matt Bryant. The Bears avoided some of the pitfalls as their young unit corralled Falcons returner Eric Weems. They face another dangerous one in Darren Sproles on Sunday.
“I was happy with the way they started,” Toub said. “They played fast. Young guys didn’t play scared. They were having fun.”
While early-season errors are blamed for return scores every season, it’s worth noting only four of Hester’s 14 career return touchdowns have come in the first four games of the season. He’s a threat all the way through, and he’s anxious for a chance in the Superdome.
“We proved to Coach Dave the younger guys are capable,” Hester said. “We’re going to be good.”
First, Coach Taub is right, it is almost always early in the season when you see those massive special teams plays. Second, Hester is right, the new rules will do nothing to decrease concussions when players meet at full speed in the middle of the field.
But - and here’s how the NFL is parsing it - due to the reduced kick off field there were 50% fewer run backs in week one than there were last year, although the number of kicks was almost identical. In other words, while guys like Hester who are going to come out almost every time are candidates for long term medical care, there are fewer of them to worry about.
At the rate the NFL is going next year’s kick offs will look like this; the returner will stand on the goal line, the kicking team will stand on the opposite goal line and then a ref will hand the ball to the returner, count to 3 and let him run while the kicking team takes off upon the hand off. Then, instead of tackling, they have to grab the return man’s flag.
There, now everybody’s safe.
Next week I’ll explain how I’m going to make baseball safe by the clever use of soft rubber balls and padded body armor.
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I was on the bus this morning. As per CTA mandate the driver was slamming on the brakes at each intersection and racing away when the lights turned green so people could still get exercise by hanging on for their lives. It’s very aerobic.
Anyway, there was this young lass sitting in front of me (I was standing in the aisle) and she was reading a book. Her stop came up and she reached down to grab her bag as she stood up ..... head first into my crotch. So, there we are, strangers, her with her head between my legs and me very unsure what to do. The bus is pretty crowded so I can’t just jump back. Anyway, she extricated herself, apologized (we were both laughing by then) and went on her way. But, that was a much better way to start the day than many others I could envisage, so I’m feeling pretty good right now.
Anyway, my good omen aside, it seems that it’s time to take our annual look at next year’s baseball teams. It seems I’m doing something like this earlier and earlier each year. That is not a good sign. Although both articles I’m going to reference today are topics in other threads I thought I’d put them both together to take a look at how things are shaking out for our teams. Godron Wittenmeyer takes a look at a scenario that makes complete sense .... in another universe. One with unicorns. I’ll explain when you’re done reading.
Of all the general-manager scenarios being talked about internally by the Cubs, the most involved — and one of the most intriguing — involves a chain reaction that winds up putting Albert Pujols in a Cubs uniform.
According to a major-league source, the scenario raised during informal discussions would start with the Cubs going after Cincinnati Reds general manager Walt Jocketty, who would, in turn, hire his old manager, Tony La Russa, from St. Louis. La Russa’s relationship with Pujols would then lead to the Cubs landing one of the top free-agent hitters on the market.
Depending on how far the Cubs get — or don’t — with a GM wish list that starts with the likes of Theo Epstein and Andrew Friedman, the Jocketty-La Russa-Pujols model might not be as far-fetched as it seems at first glance. Jocketty and La Russa are both in contract years, and La Russa is said to be ready to leave St. Louis.
As for Jocketty’s interest in the Cubs job, ‘‘I can’t comment on that,’’ he said before the Cubs’ 2-1 loss to the Reds on Tuesday night. ‘‘I’m under contract here. I’m happy here.’’
No formal contact between the Ricketts ownership and Jocketty appears to have been made, but he and Tom Ricketts have met.
Jocketty, 60, is in his fourth season as Reds GM, after 13 with the Cardinals. His teams have reached the playoffs a combined eight times in that stretch, including two World Series appearances and a title for the Cardinals.
While Jocketty, last year’s Sporting News Executive of the Year in the majors, wouldn’t talk about the Cubs job in relation to his own interests, he did say it’s viewed within the industry as one of the top gigs.
‘‘I’m sure everyone feels that it’s an attractive position because it’s a storied franchise and one of the great brands in the game,’’ said Jocketty, whose teams have finished ahead of the Cubs in 11 of his 17 seasons as a rival GM. ‘‘There’s a lot of history, and it’s a great challenge, because they haven’t won a championship there in a long time. And I think everyone believes that they’re the ones that would hope to be able to break that streak.
‘‘Plus you should have great resources to work with there. At least you’ve got the new ownership
that seems to be aggressive in wanting to win.’’
Jocketty also said the recent four-year contract extension for farm director Oneri Flieta ‘‘shouldn’t be’’ a hindrance to the hiring process, as some have speculated.
In fact, he believes Flieta and scouting director Tim Wilken have put the Cubs’ farm system on solid footing after years of underperformance by the system.
‘‘You look at some of the guys who are at the major-league level now and some of the guys that are coming,’’ he said, ‘‘and the system looks pretty strong.’’
As for the Cubs’ aggressiveness, the vetting process is well under way, including information-gathering on Friedman, Oakland’s Billy Beane, former Los Angeles Dodgers GM Dan Evans and Evans’ successor, Ned Collettit, according to sources.
Friedman’s boss, Tampa Bay Rays owner Stuart Sternberg, told the St. Petersburg Times this week he doesn’t see Friedman leaving.
‘‘Andrew is a partner here,’’ Sternberg told the newspaper. ‘‘He’s a partner of mine. And he treats this organization even better than I possibly can. There’s nothing to report on that.’’
Sternberg, Friedman and manager Joe Maddon are in their sixth year together in Tampa Bay.
‘‘And it doesn’t feel like six years,’’ Sternberg said, ‘‘and I would think we would keep the band together another six years.’’
If the Rays knock the Boston Red Sox out of the playoff picture in the coming weeks, count on the Epstein Watch heating up, if not getting resolved quickly in early October.
Here’s the problem. Do you really go out and spend mad monkey money to get a player like Pujols and then surround him with nothing but kids? Not if you’re sober. So, if “A” happens then “B” must occur. That means trading Castro and Barney, straight up, for vets and keeping A-Ram and Sori to support Pujols in the lineup. There is no way to get “A” + “B” in the 4 dimensions we reside in. Pujols ism’y going to a club that’s rebuilding and there’s no way he’ll agree to play with a bunch of rookies no matter what the payroll is. Yes he wants money but he also wants to win.
As to the other GMs being named, I will repeat that NONE of them have been contacted because none of them can be contacted until their seasons are over. So, wait for October and then see who Ricketts really talks to. My guess is that it’ll probably be Brian Murphy (scroll down to find him and click on his name to read his bio. He bleeds blue).
On the Southside of town Joe Cowley envisions a world without Ozzie.
White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf still hadn’t answered an e-mail sent two weeks ago.
General manager Ken Williams never responded to a text message sent Tuesday morning.
And on Monday, all manager Ozzie Guillen could do was put his hands up and shrug when asked if he’s heard anything new about his future.
But the answer has been there since June 2010, on display for all Sox fans to see.
It was on a Saturday in Washington, D.C., last season that Reinsdorf was asked about the power structure of his organization, and it was very clear then who he deemed in charge.
‘‘Well, that’s my history,’’ he said then. ‘‘The biggest mistake I ever made, but I would make it again, is I let [then-GM Ken] Hawk [Harrelson] fire Tony La Russa. I would hope Kenny would never come to that conclusion [with Guillen]. But you can’t make a general manager have a manager he doesn’t want.’’
Williams no longer wants Guillen.
According to two sources, Reinsdorf wants Williams, already informing him he’ll be brought back next season despite the $127 million wreckage he built for 2011.
Sent a text to confirm or deny what those sources indicated, Williams did not respond.
But at this point, it’s likely we’re seeing the final days of Guillen in a Sox uniform, as well as most of the current coaching staff.
The Sun-Times reported last week that Guillen had met with Reinsdorf on Sept. 1 in the wake of airing his feelings about entering the final year of his 2012 deal without an extension. Guillen left that meeting with little clarity about what’s next, according to one of the sources.
Guillen was told Williams will return, sources say. But when asked about it Monday, Guillen again shrugged, seemingly in limbo.
On Tuesday, he seemed to be bracing for the worst.
‘‘My family is ready for everything,’’ he told reporters before the game against the Detroit Tigers. ‘‘It’s like when a hurricane is coming and they say, ‘Hey, it’s Venezuela now, and it’s going to be in Miami in seven days.’ We pack everything, we have everything set up, for good or for bad.’’
It might be the latter.
Still, one source stressed that removing Guillen remains a sticky situation. Reinsdorf knows this could be a messy divorce involving a man he adores. There could be fallout on several fronts.
Money, mouth concerns
If he fires Guillen, Reinsdorf must pay him $2 million for 2012. Plus, Guillen can accept the Florida Marlins job that’s waiting for him or even choose the television route for a year. Money isn’t as much a concern for Reinsdorf as the flame-thrower that Guillen could become should he feel slighted by the organization he loves.
Guillen was asked Tuesday about trashing the Sox on his way out the door, and said: ‘‘A lot of people think, ‘Oh, when Ozzie leaves here, he’s going to have a press conference on Michigan Avenue and blast the White Sox.’ No. That doesn’t do any good. I live in Chicago, and I want to walk with my head up and not regret what I say.’’
Asked the same question two weeks ago, Guillen told the Sun-Times, ‘‘To be honest, I don’t know, I don’t know what I would do, how I would leave. I always say in the past I will call [clubhouse manager] Vinnie [Fresso], tell him [to] pack my stuff, and I will leave. Never gone through my mind if I would make a big deal. It depends on how it happens.’’
With that in the back of his mind — and maybe in the front — Reinsdorf could offer Guillen an extension much lower than the rumored four years, $16 million the Marlins have waiting. Making it even less comfortable to stay, Guillen also would have to move on without trusted coaches Greg Walker, Joey Cora and Jeff Cox, whom insiders have said Williams no longer wants around.
The Sox likely would hope for Guillen to reject those terms but sign off on a mutual agreement that allows him to accept the Marlins job and leave quietly. That would keep the Guillen bus from backing up all over the Williams regime through the media.
Nothing scary about Loria
What Reinsdorf has in his corner is that he’s very persuasive and genuinely cares about Guillen. He was able to convince Guillen and Williams to put aside their disdain for each other last winter and go for another run in ’11. Though the two began the season able to have friendly conversation, the distrust now might be unfixable.
Guillen addressed recently the idea he would somehow learn the grass is not greener in Florida, where he’d have to deal with an unpredictable owner in the Marlins’ Jeffrey Loria.
Not so fast.
‘‘The relationship I have with him is pretty good,’’ Guillen said. ‘‘But when you talk about relationship and work . . . Look, I’m not afraid of anyone. I’m going to tell you the truth, whether you want to hear it or not. I can work for anybody else. The last few years here have not been easy, and I handled that. That shows me I can manage in anyplace that wants me there to work.’’
So by next month, Guillen could indeed be shaking hands with Loria as the Marlins’ new manager.
What does that leave the Sox shaking hands with?
Irrelevancy, meet the White Sox.
White Sox, this is irrelevancy.
I think you two have already met.
I’m just curious, given the fact that the season’s still ongoing and everyone’s under contract and there’ll be no discussions of any import until October, at the earliest, just what was Joe looking for by way of answers to his emails and texts? Did he really expect Reisndorf to say “Gosh, Joe, thanks for asking. Here, let me rub your tired tootsies. Let’s see, next year I’ll be firing Ozzie, making K-dub my VP, promoting Ricky Baby to GM and then hiring Terry Bevington to manage the team. He’s really seasoned well since his days with the Shreveport Captains.”
It’s like the old yellow journalism trick of asking “So, when did you stop beating your wife Senator?” No answer is the only answer you can give for fear of lending credence to the question.
And even that isn’t really satisfactory.
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Some things are imponderable. Why did anyone, allegedly sober, every hire Mariotti in the first place? What is that thing growing on Matt Forte’s chin and is it contagious? How the hell did Lady Gaga end up being a role model and can we stop it? If so, how?
Where is the end of a circle? What is the last digit of pi? I claim it’s six and am still waiting to be proved wrong.
There are other things that leave people scratching their noggins.
The Cubs, mathematically out of it for a while now, are on a winning streak and pounding the crap out of the ball.
The Sox, allegedly still in a pennant race, have rolled over and are looking for tummy rubs. I should note that, as of this writing, the Sox are also the only team with an overall record at, or above, .500 with a losing record at home.
We’ll start with the Cubs.
Carrie Muskat was at the game and took a look at the Cubs one true future star.
Starlin Castro is planning on getting his 200th hit of the season at Wrigley Field.
Castro continued his countdown Monday, picking up hits Nos. 188, 189 and 190 in the Cubs’ 12-8 win over the Reds. If he paces himself, the shortstop should easily reach the milestone on the next homestand.
“[Alfonso] Soriano told me the other day, ‘You can get like 196, 197 in Cincinnati,’ and I want to do it at home,” Castro said.
He did well enough on Monday, extending his hitting streak to 13 games with an RBI double in the fourth, then adding his ninth homer in the fifth and another double in the eighth as part of the Cubs’ 16 hits. He scored a career-high four runs.
“He can be a .300 hitter with some power, like 20 homers, when he gets a little older and learns the game a little more,” Soriano said. “He’s got the body, he’s got the power. I think now he’s more of a line-drive hitter.”
Castro, 21, is leading the National League in hits and also is first in three-hit games with 21. Last year, he hit three homers, including his first at Great American Ball Park in his Major League debut on May 7, 2010. His homer Monday sailed 425 feet over the center-field wall.
“I know I have that kind of power,” Castro said. “I was surprised a little bit. I hit that ball pretty good.”
All of the offense helped Rodrigo Lopez (5-6), who served up nine hits, including four homers, over 5 1/3 innings but picked up the win, his first since Aug. 15.
Chicago got the hit parade started in the first, sending eight batters to the plate against Dontrelle Willis (0-6). Aramis Ramirez hit an RBI double, Soriano hit an RBI single and another run scored on a fielder’s choice by Geovany Soto to give the Cubs a 3-0 lead.
But the Reds tied the game in the second on monster home runs, including Juan Francisco’s blast, the first to clear the right-field seats at Great American Ball Park. With one out, Francisco launched a 1-0 pitch from Lopez 502 feet to right and onto the sidewalk behind the seats.
“That was pretty epic,” Cubs manager Mike Quade said. “I can’t remember a P.A. guy announcing to the crowd how far a ball went.”
Francisco’s homer was second in length at Great American Ball Park only to Adam Dunn’s 535-foot rocket on Aug. 10, 2004, which landed in the Ohio River.
“That guy has a lot of power,” Soriano said. “I was surprised he got that ball out of the stadium.”
“I’ve never seen that in my life,” Castro said. “Five hundred [feet]? That’s big.”
One out after Francisco’s shot, Willis singled and Brandon Phillips hit his 13th homer into the upper deck in left, a 459-foot shot, the first of two in the game for the second baseman. He added a leadoff home run in the fifth.
Jeff Baker broke the tie when he smacked a 3-2 pitch from Willis just far enough to reach the right-field seats—measured at 372 feet—with one out in the third.
Ramirez led off the sixth with a homer, his first since Aug. 20, and he joined Hall of Famer Billy Williams as the only Cubs with at least 30 doubles and 25 homers in six seasons.
“I didn’t do anything right out there today, all around,” Willis said. “My sequences were bad, location was bad. They had a good plan. I think they adjusted from the start before and hats off to them. It was one of those days.
“Every mistake I made, they hit it. That’s what they’re paid to do. I’ll just take it as a butt kicking and go back to the drawing board.”
The offense was impressive, considering the Cubs got to their Cincinnati hotel around 4:30 a.m. CT after an extra-innings game Sunday night against the Mets.
“Coming off rough travel and an interesting weekend in New York, it’s good to see us get out of the chute and play that well,” Quade said.
Soriano finished with three RBIs as Chicago tied its single-season high with 12 runs, also accomplished June 16 against the Brewers. The Cubs are 23-17 in their last 40 games and have a chance to catch the Pirates and move into fourth in the NL Central.
“You’d love to go on an unbelievable run and find a way to catch these guys,” Quade said. “We’ll let that take care of itself. We don’t [play] Pittsburgh anymore. We just need to concern ourselves with the four or five clubs we have left to play.”
I asked a couple of Cubs fans, the real ones not the ones from Iowa, about whether they’d support a youth movement. I haven’t heard that much hemming and hawing since Minnie Pearl wore a bikini. There is a part of them that supports the idea intellectually but once that was said the names Fielder and Pujols immediately followed. Which, were either signed, would not actually fall under the definition of rebuilding.
Of course, part of the problem is that all the good young players are already here. You could dump Soriano, Pena and Rodriguez tomorrow and not much would change other than the bench would get a whole lot younger. That still doesn’t solve the gaping holes they have in the rotation and the pen. Nor does it induce the kind of revenue Ricketts is going to need if he hopes to get those bonds and refinancing plans of his out of dreamland and into the real world.
Of course, until they get a new GM, this is all just whimsy.
What was not whimsical was watching the Sox get completely dismantled by the Tigers yesterday. Scott Merkin was there and managed not to wince when he realized that the Tigers had scored 32 runs in their last two games with the Sox.
Go to the dictionary and look up the word domination.
The most recent definition honestly could read: “See last three Tigers victories over the White Sox.”
Monday’s 14-4 pasting delivered by the Tigers at U.S. Cellular Field stood as the latest chapter of this woeful South Side tale. Since Ozzie Guillen’s crew held an 8-1 lead over the Tigers in the fifth inning of a game at Comerica Park on Sept. 3, it has been outscored by a 40-6 margin.
That total includes Ryan Raburn’s game-tying, ninth-inning two-run shot off White Sox closer Sergio Santos and Miguel Cabrera’s ensuing walk-off blast on Sept. 3, pretty much ending any realistic hopes for the White Sox to catch the American League Central front-runners. It also factors in an 18-2 Detroit annihilation the following night in Motown, played before a national television audience.
One two-part question comes to mind when looking at these totals: Are the Tigers really that dominant, or are the White Sox simply an average baseball team as their record suggests?
Guillen and Monday’s losing pitcher John Danks seemed to fall somewhere in the middle of this conundrum with their postgame answers.
“Right now, those guys are on fire,” said Guillen of the Tigers, who extended their winning streak to 10 straight. “Those guys have been swinging the bat pretty well. They are pitching good. It seems like everything they touch is a base hit.”
“They’ve played better down the stretch. That’s being blatantly honest,” Danks said. “Coming into the year, I thought we were the team to beat. And I’m sure they felt the same way. They’ve played better. That’s the way it is.”
This series opener left the White Sox (73-73) with nothing more than a minute mathematical playoff chance. Anyone watching these two teams move in the opposite direction understands math doesn’t mean much in this equation.
After grabbing a 1-0 lead in the first against a wild Rick Porcello (14-8), exiting with the familiar mantra of, ‘We should have scored more,’ the White Sox absolutely fell apart with the Tigers’ assistance.
Detroit (85-62) scored three in the second, two in the third, one in the fourth, two in the fifth and six in the sixth, knocking out eight hits in the frame off reliever Josh Kinney. In the seventh inning, the Tigers’ offense rested against Shane Lindsay, who gave up seven runs on eight hits in one inning during the 16-run blowout to finish the Tigers’ sweep at Comerica.
Seven Tigers starters had multihit efforts. Raburn, the No. 8 hitter, finished 4-for-5, falling a triple short of the cycle, and knocked in three. No. 9 hitter Brandon Inge’s three hits moved his average over the Mendoza line to .204.
“Guys are pretty hungry and guys are grinding out at-bats, and when you grind them out, good things happen,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “When we hit one hard tonight, it fell in and when we hit one soft, it fell in. We had a bunch of real good hits tonight.”
Danks (6-12) took the early brunt of the Tigers’ highly offensive work, giving up seven earned runs on 11 hits in five innings. The Tigers were well on their way to the franchise’s first 10-game win streak since September 1968, when they won 11 straight.
Over Danks’ last three starts, including two against the Tigers, the southpaw has worked 15 2/3 innings and allowed 19 earned runs on 26 hits. His ERA has risen from 3.63 to 4.36 during that stretch. Once again the earlier question arises: Has Danks been that bad, or are the Tigers that unstoppable at the plate?
“Both,” Guillen said. “He’s making very bad pitches, but those guys right now ... they had like seven ground-ball base hits [tonight], and those big boys, they aren’t going to miss you. John has had a tough time the last couple of times with them, but so do a lot of people.”
“Obviously, I didn’t throw the ball very well. That’s apparent,” said Danks, who is part of the South Siders’ 6.21 ERA against the Tigers this season. “I don’t know if there’s a hotter team out there, either. So it’s embarrassing. But at the same time, you have to realize how good they’ve been playing.”
An 11 1/2-game deficit becomes the biggest of the season for the White Sox, but that number doesn’t seem to matter at this point. With 16 games remaining, the elimination number for this underachieving, frustrating season slipped to 5 and AL Cy Young favorite Justin Verlander is next up on Tuesday. Brent Morel’s sixth and seventh home runs, covering 821 combined feet to straightaway center, were much like the White Sox season: far too little, too late.
All that’s left to fight for is second place in the division with the Indians (72-72) and, more importantly, self-respect.
“We haven’t given up,” Danks said. “Obviously, our playoff hopes are pretty dim, but we’re going to finish on a strong note and get rolling into next year. We have guys that are pretty darn competitive and have a lot of pride.
“I have pride. I’m competitive. I didn’t have fun today. I didn’t have fun at all. I’m as frustrated as I’ve ever been. I want to finish strong and have a good taste in my mouth heading into the offseason. At the rate I’m going over my past three starts, it’s not good.
“Games like this aren’t fun. They don’t sit well with us,” Danks said. “We signed up to play 162 and more, we’re going to play 162 and try to win every game we can.”
Oh, okay, I guess he winced a little.
This team has been maddening. They dug themselves into an 11-22 hole at the beginning of the season and then fought like raw dogs to get back in the race. Once they got there, they looked around and - What? - didn’t like the neighborhood? None of that success and prosperity for them, thank you very much.
There are the usual suspects calling for various heads. I know a guy who, to this day, insists Ozzie should have been fired after the 2005 season because they lost a playoff game. I know him, I try not to associate with him but I do know him. But who could come in and fix the parts that are broken? Dunn and Rios are obvious issues. Do they pull it together this off season or do they need special - think short bus - coaching?
Plus there are off season issues that don’t involve them. Do you keep Buehrle or do you pray for rain? Do you trade AJ to get Flowers up every day and, if so, who do you get to back up Flowers?
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