Thursday, July 31, 2008

Cubs Sweep Brewers in 4

If things continue the way they have this season, it sure would be nice to see that on the front page of the Trib in September. Of course it would be the subheading under the gigantic print that states CUBS HEADED TO SERIES. Yes I'm getting ahead of myself, and yes I am the same guy who wrote of the dreaded lump appearing in Cubfans throats when it looked like the season wasn't headed in the right direction. I still am a Cub fan and have been for awhile which means that I won't let myself get too excited about a World Series until the Cubs are actually in the series.

Last time I got pre-emtively excited about the series, and I swear to all things holy this happened, I looked at my college roommate and close friend Bones and said something along the lines of, "2 innings left, we're up three and Prior's on the mound. It looks like the Cubs are going to the series for the first time since we dropped the bomb on Japan". Of course I was then hit with false sense of security when one out came quickly on a pop fly and the dreaded 5 outs away came. And as you all know that's when the world imploded in Chicago.

But back to my point. The struggling Cubs look to have rebounded exactly when they needed to. Coming into a series against the Brewers, even worse on the road, with 1st place basically up for grabs I was a little worried about what was ahead for the Cubs. Now I know there is still a while to go (53 games) this is exactly what I needed. A 4 game sweep on the road at Wrigley Field North. A Co-worker of mine (who is married to a Cubfan) thought the games the last 2 nights were in Chicago due to the high volume of Cubbie blue in the crowd and the fact that the crowd seemed to be louder for the Cubs. The reason so many Cubfans are in attendance is the short drive between the two parks, the Cubs loyal fan base, and the fact that it's much easier to get tickets to a Cubs game at Miller Park than a Cubs game a Wrigley. This is undoubtedly a good thing.

The Cubs came into the series against the Brewers with a 2-4 record, all 6 games at Wrigley Field. Today's 11-4 thrashing puts the Cubs at 6-4 against the Brewers all season, 14-10 over the last 2 years and more importantly, 8-2 at Wrigley North. The Cubs and Brewers will face off 6 more times this season, over the last 12 games when, most likely, the Central Race will still be on the line. It's nice to see that the Cubs road woes don't apply to Milwaukee with a 6 game swing hanging in the balance in the closing weeks. Many are saying that this series exhibited a Playoff Atmosphere, and you can't blame them.

Things that have worried the Cubs and Cub Fans heading into this series with the Brewers were:

  • Rich Harden - Coming into the series: He's pitched mightily well since coming to the NL. In 3 NL starts he pitched 17 innings and 30 Strikeouts to 8 walks and 8 hits. 2 of those hits were HRs (in 2 separate games) and he'd given up 2 ERs. The glaring number in those 3 starts though was the 0-1 record with 2 No decisions.
  • Rich Harden - Today: 7 innings, 6 hits, 0 walks, 9 Ks, 1 ER (on a HR) but most importantly his record now is 1-1. If he can continue to hold opponents to 1 run or less, which he has in all 4 of his starts, those wins should pile up coming into the postseason.
  • Road Offensive Production - Coming into the series: Since the All-Star Break the Cubs had scored 8 runs total in their 6 losses but had managed offensive explosions in their 4 wins of 9, 10, 6, and 9 runs. The Cubs need to score runs more efficiently. When the Bats go silent, they go silent almost 1-9 in the lineup. Not to mention they have sturggled against good pitchers and had a Batting Average of almost .050 points lower on the road.
  • Road Offensive Production - Today: The Cubs put up 6, 7, 7, and 11 runs over the last 4 games but most importantly those hits are coming from everyone 1-9. During this 4 game series the Cubs had 49 hits and 5 HRs, Soriano and Edmonds each had 2 HRs (Edmonds only played today). Those 4 games worth of offensive outburst just so happened to be on the road against 4 of the Brewers starters including All Star Game starter and 10 game winner Ben Sheets, Reigning AL Cy Young Winner and undefeated 4 game winner (since coming over) CC Sabathia, and 9 game winner Manny Para.
  • Road Record - Coming into the series: The Cubs were 22-30 on the road and 6-12 over their last 6 road series'.

    This is something that scares Cub Fans, especially since Dan Uggla blew the All Star game for the National League.
  • Road Record - Today: They just swept the Brewers on the road.
I for one am excited about the remainder of the season. Again, as a Cub fan I'm not running out and buying my NLDS, NLCS, or World Series tickets just yet, I've seen too many years of heartbreak. But also as a Cub fan, I've got to say I can't remember the last time the Cubs played this well all season and were defending the division lead, not chasing a division leader/Wild Card. The Cubs were floundering since the All Star Break but have, apparently, managed to right the ship a little bit. The bats are making some noise, Dempster is finally winning on the road, and Harden is finally getting some run support. Winners of their last 5, and 7 of the last 9 the Cubs are looking down at the rest of the Central Division heading into August for the first time in a long time. Also a big screw you to Brewer manager Ned Yost and former and once again "Piece of Crap" Eric "Fluke Season" Gagne for intentionally throwing behind Edmonds in the 9th inning of today's game. Down 9-1 in the Top of the 9th Gagne (behind 3-0 in the count) very obviously threw a pitch a foot and a half behind the Cub CF who was 2 for 3 with 2 HRs and 5 RBIs up to that point. Gagne was immediately ejected and his line reads 1 ER in 0.0 innings and raises his ERA (only slightly) to 6.59 on the season. 2 batters later Edmonds crossed the plate for his 4th run of the game, the Cubs 10th.

I will also take this chance to toot my own horn. To the Brewers fans who got angry after my NL Central Preview when I said "If Gagne performs like he did most of 2007 in Boston, especially with the newfound Mitchell accusations, it could be one of the biggest busts in franchise history." Well it would appear I was right. And, while completely un-related, I would like to point out to Aaron who said, "Aaron Harang isn't Cy Young caliber? Are you kidding? You can't claim to be an NL Central "expert" and make claims like that..." Well Aaron (I wonder if it was Aaron Harang trying to boost his own self esteem). Harang is 3-11 with a 4.76 ERA and is on the DL. So since I had the Cubs Brewers 1/2 and said Harang wasn't in Cy Young contention, I will retain my status as an NL Cental Expert.
More after the jump...

Manny being Manny: Los Angeles Edition

Well just as we all thought the trade rumors were dead and the Marlins weren’t going to be able to start another quest at buying a World Series, Manny gets traded. Ramirez will join my former Tribe veteran Casey Blake in LA. The Red Sox moved him in a three team trade involving the Dodgers and the Priates.

Dodgers Get.
Manny Ramierz: .299 20 HR 68 RBI .389 OBP .529 SLG
Red Sox Get:
Jason Bay LF: .282 22 HR 64 RBI .375 OBP .519 SLG
Pirates Get:
Andy LaRoche 3B: .203 2 HR 6 RBI .319 OBP .322 SLG
Bryan Morris (Minor League)
Craig Hansen RP: 5.58 ERA 7 HLD 25 SO 1.7 WHIP 2 SV
Brandon Moss RF: .295 2 HR 11 RBI .337 OBP .462 SLG

Just like with the Griffey and Sox situation Torre is going to have to make some moves in order to work him into the outfield. Right now the Dodgers have Juan Pierre in left, Andre Ethier in center, and Matt Kemp in right. One thing is for sure though, American League teams are probably thrilled to have him out of that explosive lineup. If you are in Tampa get excited.

4Real Out…..

More after the jump...

At The Wire

As the Dealine approached all eyes were on Manny. The proposed deal from last night involving Florida, Boston, and Pittsburgh appeared completely dead. And it in fact was. That didn't mean Manny would be in Boston tonight. It looks like Manny will be with former rival Joe Torre in sunny LA.

Manny to the Dodgers and as with the previous Florida-Boston-Pittsburgh deal, The Pirates ship Jason Bay to Boston. In return Pittsburgh will get Brandon Moss, Craig Hansen (Boston), Andy LaRoche, and Bryan Morris (LA).

Manny might be a headache but giving up Manny and a couple youngsters at 52 centes on the dollar, this isn't as good as Theo's Nomar trade in 2004. Press conference in 25 minutes.

More after the jump...

Brett Favre, You're Making Me Play Devil's Advocate With Myself

Sac-religious? Absolutely, and Dom will be seizing in his cubicle when he reads this, but give me B. Fav-ray any day over the mess that is Rex.
I've been playing devil's advocate over this for a little while because as a Bears fan you cannot like anything about the Packers- and trust me those cheese head contraptions make me have to look away I'm so embarrassed for Packers fans, but Brett Favre is great, and I believe will still be great and if he were to get traded to Chicago, I think it'd be great.
Here's where my wish- washing comes into play, the Packers have committed to Aaron Rodgers as their quarterback and are not considering Favre.
I get that, I think that when he retired they had to "pick up the pieces" and move on, and they moved on with Rodgers ( who is handling this situation with grace and class), Rodgers doesn't deserve to have this opportunity taken away from him because Favre changed his mind. Yet, Favre says that he was never fully committed to retiring but felt pressure from the organization- ugh he's pulling at my older adult glory complex.
Favre then goes on to admit that he doesn't feel welcomed in Green Bay, I can only assume this means by the organization because I'm sure there are 100,000 cheese loving Brett-Head's that would run naked through the streets of Green Bay in January to see their hero back on Lambeau field.
I feel sorry for the guy- I can't help it; he feels pressure to make a decision on retiring, he makes the wrong one, he wants to play again, he's a legend in Green Bay, he loves his fans and he wants to play there for the organization that made him great, but yet the Packers don't want him- it's frustrating my brain.
Next, and this is where my loyalty goes to team Brett- the Packers come out and offer Favre 20 million to stay retired or say that they are considering taking a deal with one of their NFC North rivals most likely the Minnesota Vikings or the Chicago Bears... if all else fails to trade him. This is after they wanted to send him to the T.B. Bucs or the New York Jets.
Let me brake it down for you Mark Murphy Brett Favre is old school, he doesn't wear bling he doesn't have stashes of guns and drugs he is a good old boy from Hattiesburg Mississippi and he wants to stay in Wisconsin. Send him to Tampa, he's gotta learn Floridian culture, he's not old enough to sit in a nursing home and he's not young enough to go clubbing- he doesn't fit in. New York, maybe the Giants but the Jets... no where near good enough for him, come on. Minnesota? Wasn't it not long ago that the Vikings crew was getting busted on a boat with copious amounts of alcohol and strippers- not for Favre.
I think Brett Favre deserves respect, he earned it he should get it. This isn't a Karl Malone, Gary Patton type situation where they play their whole careers in one place and move to Los Angeles to win a Championship, the man just wants to play football, and trying to give him 20 million to stay retired is a slap in the face.
My solution, bring him to the Bears. I love it- it's a great idea, put Rex back on the bench that he should have never left and left Favre have his glory. We might need to stroke Urlacher's ego more this season because God knows he has a super hero complex, but we can do it and we might actually do something productive. Favre would still be in the NFC North, he'd still be in the mid west and he's familiar with Chicago.
My inner devil is silenced, I feel at peace with this thought. Favre in Chicago ' 08
Dom you can now stop seizing.

More after the jump...

Reds Send Griffey to Chicago

With the trade deadline winding down and all eyes focused on “Manny being Manny” once again the quiet Hall of Famer, Ken Griffey Jr., has flown under the radar. The Reds have traded Griffey to the White Sox for Pitcher Nick Masset and Infielder Danny Richar. Reports say that the Sox will be paying for his $4 million dollar buyout and will split the cost of the rest of his salary for the remainder of the season.

Sox Get:
Ken Griffey Jr.: .245 15 HR 53 RBI .355 OBP .432 SLG in 102 Games
Reds Get:
Nick Masset: 4.63 ERA 1 SV 1 HLD 32 SO 1.70 WHIP in 32 Games
Danny Richar: .230 6 HR 15 RBI .289 OBP .406 SLG in 56 Games

There is no doubt that it is getting close to the end of Griffey’s career and that his desire to compete for a World Series played a major role in his decision to head to Chicago. Right now reports say that he will be playing Center Field after years of being in Right. There is no one that can tell Ozzie Guiellen what to do, and we will just have to wait and see. It will be interesting to see how that first lineup card is filled out, and what Griffey can do in Chicago. Here is the report from ESPN:

4Real Out...

More after the jump...

CC Sabathia is a Class Act

I hope I'm not stepping on 4Real's toes here but CC Sabathia is a Class Act. That pains me to say, since he is on the Brewers and has made the Central race closer since his entrance into it. The reigning AL Cy Young winner left Cleveland with a heavy heart. Baseball is a business and Milwaukee was ready to pay his bills. Cleveland made attempts to sign C.C. past the 2008 season but contract talks stalled and the Tribe decided they needed to get something for Sabathia and the Brew Crew was ready to rent him for a few months in exchange for a couple prospects. Rather than pulling a Manny (bad talking the team and its' fans before getting traded) he stepped away from the team he had spent his entire Major League career with with class.

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Well this week he dropped nearly 13 Grand on a full page article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer thanking the city and its fans. I guess Tribe fans can only hope that when CC is back on the market in November that perhaps he can find his way back to Cleveland. It's rare that a guy drops any kind of thank you like this to fans in his old city.
More after the jump...

Top 10: The Things We Love About Wrigley

We here at The BearDown have made many statements about Wrigley Field, specifically our love for The Museum of Sport on the Corner of Addison and Clark. Now true, Garnes and I are lifelong Cub fans born (and in her case raised) in the grand ole' city of Chicago. But 4Real loves Wrigley and he doesn't even like the NL, Wrigley scored at the top of his Stadium Rankings back in April. And many of you may be aware of how it affected us when we found out Wrigley's naming rights might be Up for Sale. The outrage spread from having to rename Garnes' Dog to being forced to come up with acceptable Alternate Options for Wrigley Field. Why do we care so much for Wrigley? Because Wrigley is unlike any other ball park in the world. Take into account the following 10 reasons (in no particular order).

10. The Architecture:
Wrigley has been in existence a very long time. It was built in 1914 and not much has been changed since then. Expansion occurred over the years. After 9 years William Wrigley doubled the seat capacity. As the decades went on, renovations were added amenities upgraded, but Wrigley Field today is nearly the same silhouette as Weeghman Park was in 1914. Things have been fixed, seats have been replaced, the bleachers are concrete instead of wood, but the bottom line is that the same field that has been used by the Cubs since 1916 is still where they play on summer afternoons. There's no slide, no gigantic video screen (to tell the "fans" when to cheer and what to cheer), no gimmicks to bring in fans, the Cubs are the draw and the entertainment. Wrigley Field is a museum to the game what it used to be like to head out to the ballpark instead of these over the top retractable roof monstrosities that are everywhere. And because there's no room for it anywhere else, the fact that Wrigley is constructed where it is, on the Shores of old Lake Michigan, the winds are ridiculous and they make the games interesting. When the wind is blowing out a pop up to left field is out, and when the wind is blowing in a ball destined for Sheffield or Waveland won't even make it to the Warning Track. It's a beautiful thing.

9. The Scoreboard:
The Scoreboard is still manually operated. In what is probably the best job in the world, there are people in the scoreboard who change the scores, pitchers, teams, etc on the board during the games. Necessary, absolutely not, but that's the reason that it's so amazing. Wrigley has done everything in its power to exist today the way it has for decades. Not to mention, as opposed to other ballparks that have the NL or AL scoreboard off in the upper deck corners (I'm looking at you Bank One Ballpark) this scoreboard is in DEAD CENTERFIELD instead of the video screen gimmicks.

8. The Flags:
In much the same way the scoreboard is still in existence to keep the fans informed. The Scoreboard lets people know the score, much the same way it has for a very long time (even before the Internet!) so too does Wrigley choose to keep fans, and Chicago's passerbys informed on the baseball world. There are flags atop the scoreboard, one for each team in three separate rows. These represent the divisions and the place in the division. And as you can see in the beautiful picture at the left the Cubs flag flies highest when the Cubs are in 1st. But there are other flags that fly at Wrigley besides the team by team/division by division flags. After a Win a White flag with a Navy W flies high above Wrigley Field and after a loss the inverse (Blue with White L) flag flies high, albeit not as proudly for all in Wrigleyville to see. But there are other flags that fly in the Southwest winds. There are pinstriped 10, 14, 23, and 26 flags representing four of the greatest Cubs of all time (Santo, Banks, Sandberg, and Williams). Also atop the Crown of The Friendly Confines there are a few other flags, the Hack 191 (Hack Wilson's 1930 RBI Record), 20 KW (Woody's 20 K game), 66 Sammy (Sosa's 1998 HR Total), Hawk 8 (MVP Andre Dawson), JR42 (Jackie Robinson), FJ31 (Fergie Jenkins), and Maddux 300 (300th Win) among others as well as their World Series Championships (2) and NL East, NL, and NL Central pennants are up there as well.

7. The Outfield Signs:
I know what you're thinking, "but you keep talking about the history and the architecture and you're saying one of your favorite things are Ads? I can't say that I've been to a lot of professional ballparks (5) but one thing that (I believe) is unique to Wrigley is the Miller Lite Ad on one of the rooftops across Sheffield. Next time you watch a Cubs game look for it. Some of the time the billboard is your typical Miller Lite Baseball ad, but a good portion of the time (I believe a majority of the time) the ads are opponent focused and for your viewing pleasure:

And Obviously my favorites are the Anti-Brewers Slogans, specifically "We Prefer a Pennant Chase to a Sausage Race". You can always tell when the sign is made for Wrigley by the distinctive Ivy lining either the bottom or sides of the ad. But it's not just the commercial Miller Lite ads that I love of the outfield signs. It's the distinctive Red Budweiser roof across Waveland, the Harry Caray commemorative sign on the Rooftop of Murphy's Bleachers, The Eamus Catuli (Go Cubs) and AC count up (Division/League/World Series) signs on other rooftops. All great to see when looking out on Wrigley's famed outfield and Rooftops. The fans out there love their Cubs, and who can blame them. Speaking of the Rooftops....

6. The Rooftops:
I figure since I spent so much time talking about the signs that appear in the outfield and on the rooftops, I might as well just put the rooftops as my next favorite thing about Wrigley, even if it's not technically in Wrigley. It's a beautiful thing for so many reasons, the uniqueness of it, the truly midwestern, neighborly, neighborhood feel of the rooftop fans having cookouts and watching the game that just encompasses what it is that Wrigleyville is. There are somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 different rooftops to view the game from. Some are simply a grill and some bleachers and (a surprise to many) some are really high class with nice bars on the inside, basically the best sports bar in the world. Also, because of the rooftops, a piece of baseball history happened in July of 1995 when Reds pitcher Tom Browning snuck out of Wrigley and across the street to enjoy a game from the bleachers - in full uniform. TV Cameras caught him and he was thus fined. He has said that it was one of if not The Best experiences during his career - he won a game in the World Series, won the World Series, and threw 1 (nearly 2) Perfect Games.

5. The Bleacher Bums:
No other group of individuals has been as immortalized as the Bleacher Bums. The lovable nickname for the members of*ahem* society, who grace the bleachers at Wrigley. If you ever attend a game in the bleachers, get there early. Seating is general admission and people wait for lengthy amounts of time, to get prime real estate in the concrete seats. But be forewarned, a high amount of alcohol has passed through their blood streams so not too late in the game (often before the first pitch) R-Rated curses and chants start flying. And not just at the opposing players on the field but in cases of friendly rivalry the chants are often aimed at the other Bleacher Bums. Hearing the Left Field Bums lash out against the Right Field Bums is common. The Bums are so famed that shirts can be purchased in and around Wrigley stating your alliance. The Text on the back of the shirt of course reads "Shut up and Drink your Beer". The most ironic part of this is the fact that on most summer days, it is much more common to see the Bums not wearing their Bleachers shirts, well actually they aren't usually wearing any shirts.

4. The Baskets:
As you should be well aware the Bleacher Bums enjoy waiting hours in line for their general admission seats in the sun, and what's better to do whilst waiting in the sweltering Chicago heat and/or humidity than down a few frosty cold pints (cans) of Old Style. We all know midwesterners know how to drink, they have to drink to survive 3-4 months per year. We all know beer goes best with baseball. So the Bleacher Bums stand and drink all day (in the sun) then get into the park and continue to drink. Well right around the 6th inning those same Bleacher Bums have had enough cold suds to lose their balance. Thank God for the Baskets at Wrigley. It is probably one of the most unique things at Wrigley. To my knowledge it will not be found anywhere else. Not only does it save the lives of drunk Bleacher Bums but the basket counts as a home run. Though I don't have the official stats in front of me I feel like I have praised that basket (for Cub HRs) much More often than cursed it (for opponent HRs). I would go out on a limb and say that the basket is responsible for a higher percentage of Cub HRs than opponents.

3. The Ivy:
Probably the most recognizable thing about Wrigley is the Ivy lining the back (brick) walls to "soften" the blow of diving, running outfielders. Well as you might guess it doesn't soften anything, it's one of the reasons teams hate to play at Wrigley. But it is a fun sight to see along the outfield walls. Not just that but it presents an interesting Home Field Advantage. If a ball goes into the Ivy and the Outfielder raises both arms in an "I surrender, I can't find the ball" it is ruled a ground rule double. All Cubs outfielders know this. If the outfielder though decides to search through the vines to find the ball, it is no longer a Ground Rule Double. And the baserunner is free to run as fast as he can around as many bases as he can. I have seen many singles stretched into triples based on an opposing outfielder searching through the Ivy like he knows the Grail is there. (Thank you Bill Veeck).

2. Wrigleyville:
Where is Wrigley Field Located? Wrigleyville? How about the Chase Ballpark? Oh Phoenix. Um Yankee Stadium? Oh the Bronx. Fenway Park? It's in the Fenway district of Boston (the park is named after the area, not the other way around. Wrigley Field, and The Cubs, have a certain aura around them that leads to an entire area of Chicago to become one with Wrigley Field. And of course there is (almost) nothing but bars lining Addison and Clark Streets, and also Sheffield and Waveland. The arguably most famous and popular bar in Wrigleyville is probably The Cubby Bear right across from Wrigley on the corner of Clark and Addison. The way it works in Wrigley on game day is the fans show up and begin their trek past each bar until they find one they can fit into. Everyone walks into The Cubby Bear, looks around the gigantic place, and gets to walking down Clark. Whether it's down to Goose Island, Bernie's, Casey Moran's or the seemingly thousands of other bars and restaurants. These are all packed hours before the game and hours after the game. Win or Lose everyone is having fun in Wrigleyville.

1. The History:
I know non Cubfans. They all say the same things. They are sick of the Cub history being rammed down their throat, the lore of Wrigley Field and The Cubs. Well if you are one of those, then stop reading, but that's the beautiful thing about Wrigley. Especially with Yankee Stadium set to be debris in the near future Wrigley is one of, well 2 ballparks with such history. We're not talking about team history, the Reds can look back at their Big Red Machine team history but those guys never stepped foot on the field at the Great American Ball Park. The Dodgers may have one of the more storied franchises in sport history, but they can't look back at the Brooklyn team and say it was the same place as this team. Cub teams since 1914 have had one thing in common, they have played at Wrigley Field. There is more than just Cub History alive in the Brick and Ivy, have you heard of the following MLB Historic Events:

  • Hall of Famer Babe Ruth's "Called Shot"
  • Hall of Famer Gabby Hartnett's "Homer in the Gloamin"
  • 1917's Hippo Vaughn vs. Toney both throwing No-hitters through 9 full innings
  • Hall of Famer Mr. Cub Ernie Banks' 500th HR
  • Pete Rose's 4,191st hit (to tie with Ty Cobb)
  • Kerry Wood's 20 K game (2nd ever to throw 20 Ks, and 1st not aligned to Steroids) Randy Johnson did it 3 years later but the game went extra innings so it is not an official record.
  • Sammy Sosa's 60th HRs in 3 out of 4 seasons (98, 99, 01)
  • Hall of Famer Lou Gherig's 1st Grand Slam, as a 17 year old for New York City Commerce High School
  • The Highest scoring game in MLB history Cubs 26, Phils 23
  • 3 All Star Games
  • Hall of Famer Stan Musial's 3,000th hit
  • 1976's 4 HR game for Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt
  • The 2nd Highest Scoring Game in MLB history Phils 23, Cubs 22
  • Greg Maddux's 3000th Strikeout
  • Tom Glavine's 300th win
  • 7 No-Hitters

And not just known for Baseball Wrigley was also the host venue for

  • The Bears 1933 victory over the Giants in the first NFL East vs. West Championship game (23-21)
  • 1937 NFL Championship Game (Bears over Skins 28-21)
  • 1949 NFL Championship Game (Bears over Giants 37-9)
  • 1943 NFL Championship Game (Bears over Skins 41-21)
  • 1963 NFL Championship Game (Bears over Giants 14-10)
  • Hall of Famer Gale Sayers' Record 6 Touchdown Game against the 49ers in 1965
Besides just that history there is Ronnie Woo Woo parading around the field in full Cubs gear (though never playing a game for the team) as the unofficial mascot of the Cubs. There's the organist playing "Take me out to the Ballgame" during the 7th inning made famous by the late Harry Caray (originally at Comiskey and later at Wrigley) a practice which has continued by a number of "guest conductors" over the last 10 years since Harry's passing. Most famously Dutchie Caray to start the 1998 season (the first without Harry), as well as his grandson and former WGN commentator Chip Caray, as well as Hall of Famer broadcasters Vin Scully and Bob Uecker and many other famous Chicagoans and other national Celebs, as well as some of the more infamous like Mike Ditka (at triple speed), Jeff Gordon "Wrigley Stadium", Ozzy Osbourne's incoherence, and many others.

Wrigley field is a Museum to the game, a porthole to the past, the last living Federal Park, and one of the remaining 3 (2 once Yankee Stadium is dust) glances into the past. The history of not only the Cubs but baseball itself. The Friendly Confines is by far the most unique, fun, amazing Ballpark in the world.

More after the jump...

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

College Football's Top RBs: By Conference

There has been some major discussion not only through this site but also between myself and Randle “el” about who the marquee running backs are in the upcoming college football season. Off the top of my head I claimed that there were three names that will get attention and one that definitely should be: Chris “Beanie Wells of The Ohio State University, Knowshon Moreno of Georgia, Noel Devine of West Virginia, and LeSean McCoy of Pitt. Looking at last year the big names you may have been familiar with moved on for a chance to play on Sunday leaving a number of underclassmen to fill some big shoes. Let’s quickly run down the players leaving from the top 10 rushing leaders of the 2007 season and where they will be playing in the fall.

1. Kevin Smith out of Central Florida: 450 Car 2567 YDS: RD 3 Pick 64 : Detroit Lions
2. Matt Forte out of Tulane: 361 Car 2127 YDS: RD 2 Pick 44 Chicago Bears
3. Ray Rice out of Rutgers: 380 Car for 2012 YDS : RD 2 Pick 55 Baltimore Ravens
4. Darren McFadden out of Arkansas: 325 Car 1830 YDS: RD 1 Pick 4 Oakland Raiders
5. Jonathan Stewart out of Oregon: 280 Car 1722 YDS: RD 1 Pick 13 Carolina Panthers
6. Rashard Mendenhall out of Illinois: 262 Car 1681 YDS: RD 1 Pick 23 Pittsburgh Steelers
8. Jamaal Charles out of Texas: 258 Car 1619 YDS: RD 3 Pick 73: Kansas City Chiefs
10. Anthony Alridge out of Houston: 259 Car 1597 YDS: Signed as a Free Agent with Denver Broncos

With eight of the Top 10 rushing leaders from 2007 leaving college football behind it brings us to a very interesting debate about who is left to lead their teams from the backfield. Here is a breakdown of the best running backs by conference.

1. USC: The Trojans have a plethora of backs to pick from, but it appears as though the main two to be teaming up in the backfield will be Joe McKnight and Stafon Johnson.
McKnight: 94 Car 540 YDS 3 TD
Johnson: 98 Car 673 YDS 5 TD
2. Keegan Herring: ASU 154 Car 815 YDS 5 TD
3. Kahlil Bell: UCLA: 142 Car 795 YDS 5 TF

Big Ten:
1. Chris “Beanie” Wells: The Ohio State University: One of the two returning backs from the top 10 leading rushers in 2007, and my pick for the back with the best chance at a Hesiman: 274 Car 1609 YDS 15 TD
2. P.J. Hill: Wisconsin: 233 Car 1212 YDS 14 TDS
3. Javon Ringer: Michigan St: 245 Car 1447 YDS 6 TDS

Big East:
1. LeSean McCoy: Pittsburgh: 276 Car 1328 YDS 14 TDS. McCoy put these numbers up as a freshman, I believe he is the third best back in the country and will most likely win the Big East Rushing Title while helping make Pitt a contender.
2. Noel Devine: West Virginia: 73 Car 627 YDS 6 TDS: We will have to wait and see if Devine lives up to the hype and can handle the pressure of being the top back. He has big shoes to fill, but as Slaton found out White does most of the running racking up about 300 more yards then his back in 07’.
3. The Big East appears to be a two horse race, but here is the four way tie for third:
a. UConn’s tandem of Andre Dixon and Donald Brown
b. USF’s Mike Ford
c. Cincinnati’s Butler Benson

1. James Davis: Clemson: The Tigers should have a generous preseason Top 25 Ranking, all though I think it might be a little too high. Davis will have to pick up a good portion of the workload in 08’ (C.J. Spiller will help that cause as well) to keep them in the hunt. 07’: 214 Car 1064 YDS 10 TD
2. Josh Adams: Wake Forest: 219 Car 953 YDS 11TD

Coastal: To be honest this was the hardest Conference/Division to pick some stand outs thus far in this article, but here are two guys that need to make an impact. VTech needs to rebound, while Miami had a great recruiting class and are looking to rebuild. These guys will play integral roles in both situations. Also, I have a gut feeling about what Butch Davis has been doing at UNC but can’t seem to find any information about RB Johnny White. If there are any Tar Heels fans reading out there, please drop me a line and give me some information about what is going down in Chapel Hill.
1. Branden Ore: Virginia Tech: 267 Car 992 YDS 9 TD
Note: It has come to my attention that Ore is not longer a member of the Vtech squad. No official word as to why, but it appears to be the ever so common "Violation of Team Rules". Good Work team, keep the feedback coming.
2. Javarris James: Miami FL: 159 Car 582 YDS 4 TD

1. Knowshon Moreno: Georgia: One of the three backs that in my opinion are frontrunners for the Heisman. As a freshman Moreno carried the ball 248 times for 1334 YDS and 14 TD. Georgia should undoubtedly land in the top 3 in preseason polls and Moreno will have to be a huge part of their success during the season.
2. Arian Foster: Tennessee: 245 Car 1193 YDS 12 TD
1. Anthony Dixon: Mississippi St: 287 Car 1066 YDS 14 TD
2. Ben Tate: Auburn: 202 Car 903 YDS 8 TD
3. Terry Grant: Alabama: 180 Car 891 YDS 8 TD

Big 12
1. Marlon Lucky: Nebraska: 206 Car 1019 YDS 9 TD
2. Jake Sharp: Kansas: 147 Car 821 YDS 7 TD
3. Jimmy Jackson: Missouri: 67 Car 331 YDS 7 TD

1. Jorvorskie Lane: Texas A&M: In 2007 the kid known as JTrain Lane sat as the Aggie’s HB who had 169 Car for 780 YDS and 16 TDS. Mike Sherman has taken over as head coach and has moved Lane to FB which could change his effectiveness, granted most would think for the better. Lane had to lose 20 pounds to become HB in 07’ as he dropped to 268 lbs. He is still listed at 6 ft 280 lbs.
2. DeMarco Murray: Oklahoma: 127 Car 764 YDS 13 TD
3. Kendall Hunter: Oklahoma St: 107 Car 696 YDS 4 TD

MAC : The MAC is Jarvis’ for the taking, the other back besides Wells from 07’s Top 10 leaders to be returning. There aren’t a lot of notable backs in this league, but here are a few that stand out.
1. Justin Anderson: N Illinois: 274 Car 1245 YDS 8 TD
2. Brandon West: W Michigan: 183 Car 848 YDS 4 TD
1. Eugene Jarvis: Kent St: 279 Car 1609 YDS 15 TD
2. James Starks: Buffalo : 251 Car 1103 YDS 12 TD

1. Ian Johnson: Boise State: 207 Car 1041 YDS 16 TD
2. Luke Lippincott : Nevada: 267 Car 1420 YDS 15 TD
3. Ryan Matthews: Fresno St: 145 Car 866 YDS 14 TD
4. Deonte Jackson: Idaho: 240 Car 1175 YDS 7 TD

The majority of these picks are open for debate, and I hope that if I included someone that has left or named a player from your team that is the number 2 or just disagree in general let me know. I am sure there are more than a handful of mistakes throughout the article….

4Real Out….

More after the jump...

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Numbers Rebuttle

Chris Domschke or should I say Randall Floyd, with your El Camino SS's and lines like grab a 6'er .. all Dom needs now is to look a little more like Ben Affleck, find a paddle and scare some young boys..... oh wait that already happened once, Domschkes Douchebags anyone?
Since the beardown " dips below the heteroline" I'm about to make it plummet and put it woman's spin on Dom's number game.

1. Rankings :

So you've got your 1-10 and your Sir-Mix-A lot measurements- interesting but Dom I can't say that I know any guys that even know where those measurements belong let alone what girl has them. Your 1-10 scale is best- keep it simple, you start throwing in hips, waist and bust measurements and you are going to have a lot of confused drunk men at bars.

2. Women's Sizes:

Men go by the measurements of their body- women's sizes like 2,4,6,8,10,12 are those measurements wrapped up in a nice little number to make us feel less fat. So we are clear though, women do have pants that come in measurements- but you have to be willing to be brutally honest with yourself. It's a known fact that stores make their size 4 and 6's bigger so women will feel skinnier and shop more at that store. So heres the chart breakdown ( and if you're giong shopping in Europe, lose ten pounds and good luck):

0-2 Skinny
4-6 Thin (ish)
8-10 Average
12 +.... maybe see a Bally's Trainer

3. Booze:

Women love numbers and booze too for two very different reasons:

our own:
100 calories in a shot of vodka
150 calories in a shot of Jack
150 calories in a shot of Captain
0 calories in club soda or water

So if you don't eat all day, you can have eleven Vodka Soda's be wasted and not gain weight.

for men: We like to have numbers when you start drinking, if you are grabbing a 6'er then it's going to be a great night, an 18 your playing flip cup, a 30 and it's beer pong- double any of those and all bets are off. If your drinking 40's your not taking us out to dinner because you've obviously lost all your money gambling on these numbers that you love. If you're drinking expensive scotch then you are living a double life.

4. Sports:

Since Dom can't remember where he lived in the dorms 5 years ago- but can rattle off numerous stats let me help him out- Graham- Greenlee. Thats the beauty about women and sports, we love them too but the rest of our brain can function as well.
Heres what I know about numbers and sports, if the numbers are too low and your favorite team loses it's going to be a quiet night, if the numbers are high and your favorite team wins then it's going to be a booze filled rager.
We will have to wash your favorite jersey at least 2 times to get the potato skins, moz sticks, beer, Jack D and 2 am pizza stains off of it and we'll have to have at least 3 bottles of water and 1 greasy meal waiting for you in the morning. And when that's over, you'll have 1 expensive meal to pay for.

Ah numbers, they're a beautiful thing.
More after the jump...

Monday, July 28, 2008

Men Love Numbers

Men love numbers. I'm not really trying to be overly repetitive but I want to make sure my point gets across. Men love numbers. They overlook other things based on numbers. Don't believe me?

Women: Numbers play an important role for men when it comes to women. This comes in one of two ways. First of all, ranking systems. A large amount of men rate women on a 1-10 scale. Typically a Ten is, well she's "A TEN" and I think you all should know what that means. Even if you are a male who does not use the ranking system personally, when another male comes up to you and points out the 7 in the corner who's an 8 from the back or a 9 after a few know exactly what he's talking about. Not only do men love to break things down into a numbered rating system they use numbers another way to think of women. Quick what comes to mind if I say 36 24 34. Chances are you are aware I'm not talking lottery numbers or spouting off some weird Lost quotes. A woman's measurements. We hear a combo of 3 double digit numbers and instantly we know what is being talked about. Men love numbers.

Shopping: I know I know, The BearDown already dips below the hetero line occasionally (4 Real's Project Runway Breakdowns) but when it comes to shopping Men choose to use numbers. I don't know about you but I'm not a huge fan of shopping or the mall. Thus I want to get out of there ASAP, no excuses. The way to get out of there the fastest is to avoid, at all costs, the dressing/fitting rooms. Women can not do this. A 4 at one place is different than another, and I've dated 2 fashion conscious shopaholics in my past and am married so yes I know women's sizes but still do not understand them. Me, I go into the store if I'm looking for pants or jeans 36/34 and I'm outta there. A shirt 18.5 36/37. Shoes 12, and so one. I don't need to try it on and see how it makes my butt look, the numbers do that for me. Men love numbers.

Booze: Men love their booze and numbers matter in all facets of the booze world. Want some beer? Grab a sixer, an 18, or a 30 rack. A College kid looking to get drunk fast? Grab a 40, specifically, like me a few years ago, chase down that Steel Reserve with the highest alcohol percentage (8.1%) yet another number. No longer a college kid and an experienced drinker? Well then you, like me, probably enjoy a good scotch. How old would you like it? 12, 18 years? Numbers matter. Not just when talking about beer and liquor, but also wine. I would love that 1998 Berringer. Not only when it comes to years but Bins and many other ways. Men love their beer, wine, and spirits, and numbers fill a good part of the picture there too. Men love numbers.

Things: This is America and a Capitalist country. Therefore we have the right to attain all sorts of fun toys and we enjoy the numbers attached to the toys. If we buy something truly expensive, we can't help but tell someone else just how much we paid for it. And for whatever reason we also brag if we get something really cheap. I don't know why we take such pride in the fact that we can afford expensive things AND take pride in just how much we saved or how little we paid. That part doesn't make sense but alas it is what it is. Besides just the numbers in prices we've paid for things numbers are everywhere else. Check out my new phone, it's an 8110 or an 8320. That means something to tech junkies. Or the car? It's an 09. Is it a classic, then you're proud to tell your friends about the '55 Bel Air or (my favorite) the 69' El Camino SS. If you were to come over and see the new TV you would hear two of three things: It's a 52" and I got it for a steal at $2,600 or I dropped $ 3,300 on that little guy. We can't help it, numbers make sense when men talk to each other. When we buy something, one of the first things we'll tell you about will have something to do with a number. Men love numbers.

Ok so we've talked about women, shopping, booze, cars, and TVs. 4 of the 5 most important things in a mans life. What's the missing piece of a man's life?

Sports: Quick ask me who my counselor was in college or the name of my dorm neighbor. (5 years ago) I couldn't tell you. Ask me about Urlacher's extention (18 mill), The Cubs score (6-4 WEAR IT CC), the start of College Football season (8-30-08 7 PM), shall I continue? And it isn't just because it was recent happenings. Ask any Chicago fan what the number 46, 10, 1986 mean. Well in 1986 Da Bears beat the Patriots (pre video taping) 46-10 in the Super Bowl. It goes deeper though and while it's obviously heavily overpowered by Chicago knowledge, in my case, I can tell you all about the 01 DBacks, or the 69 Mets (Bastards). I can tell you that in Boston 2004 still brings a smile to faces as does the phrase "0-3". The opposite can be seen in New York. We reel off salaries, stats, years, etc, etc, etc. In fact numbers are so prominent in our conversation that we just use the word numbers when referring to sports stats. How ingrained are sports stats. If 4 Real asks me how the Cubs are doing, my typical response would be something along the lines of "Well we're 5-6 since the break, but 6 were on the road" or if he asked me about the CC trade, "I'm scared he's 4-0 with 3 complete games and 1 shutout (prior to tonights big fat L)" if he wanted to know about my boy Kosuke I'd tell him, "He started off strong going near .300 and almost .800 OPS but he's been slipping and he's hovering near 2". Stats are everything when talking about sports. No longer are they people, much like prisoners we refer to them by number half the time.

So then you take two of the major sports stories being shoved down our throats right now. Manny and Farve. Believe me, they aren't the only ones but they are the big names. First let's look at Manny. He's ridiculous, he take a piss behind the monster, and then a couple years later climbs up into the monster during a bullpen call to make his own phone call. He cuts off throws from the center fielder, he pushes down 65 year old team execs, he plays when he wants, and doesn't play when he doesn't want to. The list goes on and on, to the point that it's just "Manny being Manny". Bottom line he's a major distraction, and though the running catch followed up by high fiving a fan was fun to watch, he isn't the greatest defensive addition. So Why would teams be considering bringing this guy onto their roster as the trade deadline closes in? ,304 20 68. (Avg/HR/RBI) His career 162 game average 40 132 .313 .409 .590 .999 (HR/RBI/Avg/OBP/SLG/OPS). And even with his price tag $20,000,000.00 teams are considering picking him up to deal with his crap.

Farve is just another example of numbers overshadowing other things.
His 442 career TDs, his 15 straight years playing all 16 regular season games (and 15 games the year before). Most importantly for Favre (despite the 38 year olds age) was last year's 95.7 QB Rating and the 28:15 TD to INT ratio. But numbers are definitely an issue is Wisconsin. As in Aaron Rodgers is in year 4 of a 4 year contract and being the QB of their future. They lose Rodgers next year if Brett comes back this year and thus would have spent millions and a 1st round pick on a back up who played in 7 games (with 0 starts). But to Green Bay fans (and luckily for their sake not their management) numbers are all that matters and the Green Bay supporters want Rodgers back ASAP without looking at the bigger picture. The only numbers that matter to them are 4 and 2008-2009. They don't care at all about 2009-2010, which as a Bears fan is fine with me. Bring back Brett and his 2+ turnovers a game vs. the Bears over the last 4 years ) and their 2-6 record.

Basically, Men love numbers, and in sports much like with women, the better those numbers are the more shit we're willing to put up with.

More after the jump...

Your Favorite Sports As Drinking Games PT1


Beer Hockey is one of the most competitive and skill oriented drinking games that I have ever encountered.
What You Need:
Table: Preferably Round
Quarters (You only need one, but you will probably will lose a few during the game)
1 empty and 1 fresh bottle or can per player

How You Play:
Everyone stands around the table with a can sitting in front of them with both hands below the plane of the table. Everyone takes a turn spinning the quarter on the table (shooting round). While it is spinning the person who spun calls out the name of any other player besides themselves. Once the name is called that person must attempt to score by hitting the quarter at the other players cans. A lot of people play where you have to flick the quarter, but we here at the Bear Down allow full hand slap shots (That is also why we prefer using cans. With bottles there is more audible evidence for close goals, but with cans you get the satisfaction and bragging rights from dents). If your name was not called you must play defense by bringing one hand in front of your can. The defensive regulations say that you must only extend your index and pinky fingers keeping your middle and ring fingers back as if making the rock on or NWO Wolfpack gesture. From there you cannot lift you hand from the table, you may slide it to position in front of the moving quarter and that is all, you also cannot widen or bring your extended fingers together. A goal is scored if your can is hit. A hit can results in the player that scored spinning the quarter again (the drinking round), this time as long as it is spinning (all players can help keep it going) the player who allowed the goal must be drinking.

Other Rules:

Rusty Palms:
Occurs when 1. A player breaks the defensive regulations or 2. when a player does not have his hand below the plane of the table or brings them up before a name is called. Penalty: Depending on the severity you may give out a set number of drinks, call that they remove their hand and shoot on open net, or risk shooting at another goal and making both drink if you score.

A rebound occurs when a player has taken their shot and the quarter is still spinning/moving. At this point the quarter becomes fair game for all other players. This can occur after a save or goal, even if you have been scored on you may be able to get revenge in the same shooting round.

A) During the Shooting Round you have three attempts to successfully get a good spin off. After the third attempt you must drink and forfeit your turn.
B) During the drinking round: After goal drinking has a couple of different options in terms of the way you want to play. Option 1: The player keeps drinking until the quarter stops even if that means finishing a beer only to open another. Option 2: Shoot at your own risk. That is to say that if you score a goal on an opponent who has very little beer left they can finish during the drinking round only to slam it on the table before the quarter stops spinning. In this case the most common rule is that the person who scored is now subject to a drinking round.
C) Stopping the Quarter: While the quarter is spinning we used to follow the rule that said if anyone was able to successfully stop the quarter the player in the drinking round must either finish the beer that they have (we had a full beer max during some marathon games) or shotgun a beer. This can be dangerous especially when the skill level increases by basically eliminating the need for a drinking round and the heavy drinking both of which take the fun out of the game.

Cans on the table:
If a player’s can is on the table, it is in play. If they are getting another beer, left to use the bathroom, or distracted while making a sad attempt of picking up a girl who is not impressed with their new found athletic ability, then their can is in play. If you do not want to leave your goal unguarded than you must remove it from the table.

4Real Out….
More after the jump...

Solomon Hill Commits

2009 4 star Small Forward Solomon Hill from Fairfax High school in Los Angeles has just committed to the U of A. This is a huge addition to recruiting class as he is the 3rd best Small Forward in the class of 2009 according to With Mike Moser and Greg Smith all ready committed the front court seems to be getting some much needed help. Hill is the type of player U of A fans have been wishing for the last few years. He is a hard working kid with no attitude problems or behavior issues. He is lauded for his passing skills as much as anything and has been categorized as a Point Forward by many scouting services across the country. He is a heady player reminiscent of Luke Walton but with much more athletic ability. Congrats to the new staff and Papa Lute for reloading at such a frenetic pace. Fingers crossed the Abdul Gaddy recommitting is next....

More after the jump...

Friday, July 25, 2008

Cristiano, why is your skin maroon?

Great football player, yes- Skin care proponet- probably not. Yes, my knowledge is minimal about soccer but as with Mr. Jennings I felt that I must give Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santo Aveiro some knowledge on how not to end up like the next David Posh Spice.

1. You have surgery on your right ankle and only a couple weeks later are in LA ( you know Beckham lives there) and out at nightclubs. This is not good- while I read that you denied L.C. from the Hills ( which you should have) and I give you golf claps for that- all you're going to find there are gold diggers and diseases.

2. Skin care: you are severely handsome there is no questioning it, but Cristiano you're going to end up looking like a walking Louis Vuitton- you're maroon, I know your Portugese and you tan well and it's great- but now it's crossing the line, you need some sunscreen asap.

3. Please don't end up like David Beckham, your parallels are many- but I think you are better than him, very much better. It seems as though you'll end up in Spain and that is good for you but don't choke like Beckham did and then sign an obnoxiously high salary to move to LA and wear Herbalife on your chest. Stay Euro thats why you're better than Beckham.

4. If you start to become Beckham you are going to loose your male fanbase, which has kind of already started, remember 2006 when you annoyed the English so much ( and you played on Man U) that they started an emailing campaign against you for the Best Young Player Award- you didn't get nomiated due to your behavior and it went to Lukas Podolski. Lets be honest if you come to LA women don't really watch soccer- see # 1.

5. You have too much talent to end up in Armani underwear on a billboard in Times Sqaure (a blatant Posh move)- so just keep playing, stay out of the media, you'll pull chicks without having 1,000 papparazi lights flashing off at you- and please seriously get some sunscreen.

More after the jump...

Antoine Cason's the Man

Any of you avid BearDown fans out there may know how we feel about Antoine Cason. We absolutely love the guy. He made our All-Arizona Team. Back in April before the draft we told you about Cason's Stock improving. We were one of the first to write when we heard about him winning the Thorpe Award. And back in November we gave him a Helmet Sticker, our only one of the season. So needless to say we were torn about him not yet signing. Personally I think rookeis are the ones who need to be in camp ASAP and Cason is a rookie. But at the same time, AC is our boy, and we wanted him to get paid. So when Mr. Matt sent me the Text at midnight last night, I wasn't upset about being woken up, I was excited that AC had signed that contract. He got in there at the last minute but he will be there. His 5 year $12 mill contract is a good thing for him and for his alma matter. Congrats to you Antoine.

For those of you who don't know much about AC he was (as per my knowledge) the only college athlete with his own charitable foundation. Cason Cares. The Pac-10 wasn't behind Mr. Cason trying to make money for cancer research but he didn't care. The NCAA bylaws state that players cannot raise money (for fear it will be used for personal gain) but he went out, on his own, and raised money. Eventually last fall he was given the greenlight to begin Cason Cares by the NCAA. He raised $7000 dollars in the first 2 months of the wristband sales. Cason has been dominant on and off the field in Tucson and is ready to make a name for himself at the next level.

Good luck Antoine. We'll miss you in Tucson.

More after the jump...

Like Dom I'll Hold My Breath

So I started working this week so I've been MIA and am now back- I've found that blogging and working go pretty well together. First, I'd like to start with swallowing my pride and telling Mr. Matt Randle that he was correct, Greg Norman bit it in the final round- which I really thought with all his life changes he could pull it off- I still love you and that hat though Greg, so until next time you did well. On to more pressing matters....
I sent Dom's daughter a cubs outfit a few weeks ago and this morning I got a message and picture of her in it (it was awesome), which on my way to work then got me thinking about the next generation of Cubs fan, I think it's pretty evident Dom's kid will be one- but this lump in the throat gets passed down from generation to generation and without a World Series win, it's not going away. Everyone can argue that they get nervous for their team but for Cubs fans it's different, it's not explainable- it's a complete emotion.
I re-read Dom's article about the lump in the throat and although he put in a picture of Anti-Christ Steve Bartman ( whose still banned from Wrigley) and talked about the Cubs being the hunters or hunted ( which just reminded me of a safari)- I have to say I agree with Dom.
My throat lump is very very small- but today the Cubs are playing the Marlins and they are in the bottom of the 4th and tied... here we go again.
Like Dom, I say ask me in August- Wrigley is either going to feel amazing or like seeing your ex-boyfriend at a bar with a girl that's hotter than you, we've got a couple weeks to see.
I hope for the all generations of Cubs fans, especially Dom's daughter- the Cubs make something happen, we've spent a lot of time, energy, money, tears, throat lumps, burning hats, train rides, beer, heartbreaks, bags sessions, fighting with other teams fans ( the majority* of Cardinals fans are the stupidest people alive, and no it's not because they like the Cardinals) afternoon's and loyalty being a Cub's fan and while I wouldn't change it for anything, a World Series would be a nice thank you.

* As a disclaimer I'd just like to put in writing that I know two Cardinals fans that are smart and amazing, but they're the only two ( Alyse and Jordan).
More after the jump...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Teixeira to the Diamondbacks?

There are a number of rumors flying around the league about the possibility of the Braves dealing Mark Teixeira to anyone who is willing to take on his 12.5 million dollar a year contract. The most recent news coming hot off the wire is from Ken Rosenthal over at who reports that the Diamondbacks have supposedly looked into acquiring the first basemen. It hadn’t crossed my mind that the Dbacksa would consider going after him, but now that I think about it he would fit in well in Phoenix. This year Teixeira is batting .277 with 19 HRs and 73 RBIs, which could provide some added run support for Arizona. First is a position they need help with as they have recently gone out and acquired first basemen Tony Clark by sending pitcher Evan Scribner out to San Diego. Tony Clark has posted a .222 average with 2 HRs and 14 RBIS this year which is not even close to impressive. The other option at first for the DBacks is Chad Tracy who is batting .302 with 5 HRs and 25 RBIs, not exactly what you’re looking for in a position where you usually find a power hitter. According to Rosenthal’s report the acquisition would be unlikely since the Diamondbacks would have to absorb nearly $5 million, a price that I think is worth paying considering their payroll of just over 66 million (23rd highested in the majors). If I’m Arizona I go out there and make a serious attempt to pick up the star first basemen, they could really use the help.

4Real Out….
More after the jump...

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Who voted for this?

Ok so after a long hiatus, pretty much working for the faces of Phoenix, Arizona (I don't care if I'm bragging but I met and cooked for Muhammad Ali) I have some time to put my 2 cents in since I don't know when I can talk it up for you all again.  It's baseball season, and not being a baseball follower aside from supporting friends teams for morale, it's been very uneventful for me.  The Bulls hired Vinny Del Negro, who came into my restaurant the week of the announcement(erroneous I know), which is pretty cool seeing as how Dom is an avid Chicago fan.  However, the most intensely populated subjects on my blog scanning every night after work involve the Olympic games which apparently God, Allah, Buddha, and Cows don't want to have happen in Beijing.  At first, everything started out great.  They had cheerleading tryouts (since to them western eyes like cheerleaders), they built all these new complexes to hold events, and basically made it look like this would be an awesome idea.  Unfortunately, for one of the most populous countries in the world, problems arose throughout the process of preparation.  Pulling eminent domain in China is a bit different than in the US...
A Beijinger whose restaurant was demolished in the city's Olympic makeover and who was jailed for trying to organize a protest, Ye Guozhu, was taken from the Chaobai Prison on Tuesday to an unknown location, four days before he was due to be released, the monitoring group Chinese Human Rights Defenders said Wednesday. Police in Ye's old neighborhood said they were not aware of the case.
I mean maybe I take my rights as an American citizen for granted, and am naive to the ways of the world, but even for third-world countries that seems pretty fucked up.  So, Beijing officials are working to create designated areas for people to protest the government smashing their homes and businesses to entertain the foreign crowds.  But again....
It was not clear how easy access would be to enter the zones. Liu and Beijing police would not say if special permission would be needed.
So, you need permission to come protest.  At what point would these "officials" just get fed up and deny the special permission.  Last time I checked protests were to fight the man, and as long as civilized, no entrance requirements were set.  I honestly don't blame the Chinese people, or the Beijingese, for being upset.  And the fact that their probably going to be pigeon-holing people who security thinks are terrorists ( apparently there's a large muslim population in western China) it looks like the terrorists have a prime recruiting ground for followers.  But wait one more second...
Hundreds were evacuated Wednesday from the massive building that will house broadcasting facilities for the Beijing Olympics, fearing there was a gas leak after people smelled a strong odor. But authorities later said it was a false alarm and the smell probably came from building materials or chemicals.

John Barton, the director of sport for the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union, said he was in his office at the International Broadcast Center when people began running down the halls and telling occupants to clear out. He said no alarm sounded.

"The gas was swirling down the corridor and the emergency drill, if there is one, wasn't followed," Barton said. "Ladies were running up and down the corridors saying 'Get out of the building,'" he added. "I stepped out of my office and I thought it was some kind of joke — no sirens, no speakers, nothing."
Seriously?  A couple more of these and the Olympic committee will only have themselves to blame for any shenanigans that occur during these trying times.  Or maybe due to shoddy workmanship in order to kick off these festivities, they'll end up terrorizing themselves.  

But honestly, who thought this was going to be a good idea having the Olympics in Beijing?  I feel a Sarajevo vibe going down, and I was in the womb when that happened.  So all I can do is feel vibes.  But whatever goes down, it probably won't be worse than this:

I guess that's what happens when you let people protest....until we meet again...
*quotes from

More after the jump...

Arizona Football Season Preview

As I hope many of you noticed in the past we here at The BearDown absolutely love football. I don’t have the official numbers in front of me but I would be willing to guess that over the last 9 months (can you believe it’s been that long) over 81.2% of the information covered on this site is football or football related. What do we love more than football. Well, nothing actually, but we do love College football specifically. Sure the NFL is fun and great but Saturdays are far better than Sundays and you all know that. So what’s better than just college football? Answer Arizona Football, at least here at The BearDown. And if you didn’t notice that just look at the web address and the sea of red hanging on the goal posts atop this page.

As you may have read Monday here and earlier today here we love our Kitty Kats. We amp up every Saturday and my (4 year old) “In Stoops We Trust” shirt still gets into the rotation in the fall. Mr. Matt hit you with a game by game breakdown of the upcoming UA season, which by his account will have Arizona Football in a Bowl Game. Now I too am guaranteeing Bowl Game. Whether or not it’s the Rose Bowl as Mr. Matt thinks, we’ll have to see. God I hope he’s right, but Rose Bowl or not this should be a great year in Tucson for Stoops Troops. The question remains, will this be the first surge of Stoops growing regime, or will this be Stoops’ Last Stand?

Let’s look at the 2008 Arizona Football season. Where to start? Naturally I feel I should start with the team first. So what do we know about the 2008 Arizona Football Team.

First off, in the upcoming EA Sports Video Game the Kitty Kats are ranked 3rd in the Pac with a Defensive Score of 86 and Offensive score of 85 and overall score of 84. I’m not sure how their overall drops to 84 since the piece missing is Special Teams, and we have amazing Special Teams coming into the ’08 season. Ok, that’s not really a valid point to argue since it’s fictional but it’s out there and now you all know.

As was covered in Randle’s previous articles, the schedule is a much better indicator that the Cats are going to have a much better season. Idaho, Toledo, and New Mexico. These aren’t 3 Guarantees but they aren’t the toughest games on the Arizona docket. At the very least coming out of this 2-1 will almost certainly lock up a Bowl bid for Arizona. Why? Well September tends to be the Cats weakest slate in recent memory. Coming out of that 2-1 instead of 1-2 (as they have 3 out of 4 years under Stoops) could be the one game difference that sends them bowling. But that’s not just it, add that with a 10-6 record (62.5%) over the last 4 games of the season over the last 4 years under Stoops leads to confidence closing the season and a good shot at 3 more wins.

The Cats seem to get better, especially deeper into conference play. That in addition to the fact that 2 of their 3 toughest contests of the season (Oregon and ASU) fall in that category and a 3-1 record against Washington State, Oregon, Oregon State, and Arizona State seems very possible and very nice. In the Territorial Cup during Stoops tenure the Cats are a deceiving 1-3. The one win being in Stoops’ first (3-8) season in Tucson. 2 of the other 3 games were decided by 3 points. ASU came back to win the 2005 game with Arizona Freshman Phenom Willie Tuitama on the bench.
What else have past UA teams told us? Well, under Stoops regime there has been one constant. A nice, home, HUGE upset sometime in the back half of the season. The first year it was beating ASU to cap off a 3-8 season. Last year it was against #2 Oregon. The two years in between, that upset happened on homecoming. (52-14 over #7 undefeated UCLA and 24-20 over #8 one-loss Cal). Well, in 2008 sandwiched between Cal in Tucson and the last 4 game push beginning in Pullman versus Wazzu, Arizona plays host to USC on Homecoming. Every year teams come in here and think that Arizona is beatable. I guarantee USC will be thinking the same thing. Arizona is 3-1 on homecoming since Stoops took over. Much like the Arizona Freshman, homecoming brings out the best in the Kitty Kats. The dorms are a little cleaner, the behavior a little better, and the outcome a pleasant surprise. Instead of showing off for their parents the Kitty Kats tend to show off for the many departed Cats fans who bleed red and blue and have struggled through the last, well decade. If they can’t manage against USC then the Territorial Cup looks to be the next chance for their back half upset. At the end of the year, while 11-1 and 10-2 are possible, I think that 9-3 is VERY likely, and the saving grace for the 5th year of Stoops in Tucson. The first of many bowl games to come.
What specifically makes me think that the Cats can have a season like the one listed above. Well first maturity. The big names on this Arizona offense last year happened to be Juniors, Sophomores, and in the case of Monster TE Robbie G, a True Freshman. Young teams are going to struggle. Specifically when they are handed difficult losses, they might not be able to overcome. When games are slipping away young teams tend to focus on the fact that it’s slipping away instead of stepping up and stopping it, fixing it. In ’07 all of the seniority was on the defensive side of the ball, the offense only had one senior, departed Tackle Peter Graniello.

This year with Seniors Tuitama and Thomas connecting on the TnT and leading this team out onto the field the heads will be much clearer, more even keeled. It also helps that this year the offensive line will consist of 4 lineman who have been playing together for a year. Last year there were youngsters and untamed talent playing alongside Graniello and (2008 Outland Watch-list member) Eben Britton. Too much confusion and youthful mistakes led to a dismal running game despite the talent at the tackles. That will change this year which leads me to my next point. The Running Game.

In 2007 Arizona made great strides over the back end of the season developing Sonny Dykes’ Spread Offense and turning into Air ‘Zona. They will be more experienced in the spread and make some offensive noise this year. But there was a complete lack of a running game. Get ready for Nic Grigsby to make some moves with a more experienced offensive line protecting him and the passing game opening up the running game. Grigsby managed a mediocre 704 yards last season in a floundering, new, pass happy offense. But upon closer inspection he recorded 186, 126, and 124 yards in 3 of the games. This shows that he and this offense are able of running a successful ground attack but the offensive line needs to open the holes for him. And this year they will. If Grigsby can’t do it, Senior Xavier Smith will have to step up his occasional carries into the bulk load. A Running Game is key.

Now opposed to the traditional school of thought (run first to open the pass), the Spread Offense instead runs to give their potent passing offense a rest. And while Air ‘Zona struggled in the Spread early in 2007, by the end of the season they had it figured out. Air ‘Zona finished #10 in Passing Offense and when your quarterback has over 2:1 TD to Int ratio in a pass first offense, that’s a good sign. 12 picks in 524 passes is less than 2.3% chance the ball leaving Tui’s hands is going to wind up in the hands of the wrong team. I’ll take that stat right there. Tui might not be the most mobile QB, but he’s proven before he’s got wheels when he needs them. If you don’t believe me watch the highlights of last year’s Oregon game and his 22 yard jaunt to set up a TD in the first half.

Numbers are the key phrase this year in Tucson. Try some analysts projecting Tui throwing for over 4,000 yards and 35 TDs. In his first try in the spread offense he compiled 3,683 yards in the air and 28 TDs. He already set 10 Arizona records, both single game and season. Tui, who passed for 2,440 coming into ’07 is primed to set numerous career school and Conference records. The timing has improved on a daily basis between Tuitama and Receivers Mike Thomas, Terrell Thomas, and Delashuan Dean. When Tui can’t get them the ball Sophomore TE Rob Gronkowski will be able to get the ball. Much like Willie T, Thomas is poised to set some serious receiving records in his Senior season. He has one goal, playing on Sundays, and in order to play on Sundays at 5’8” you need to impress with your numbers. Thomas is capable of hauling in almost anything Willie throws in his general direction. TnT, the 7-10 split, have been playing together for 4 years now. They read each other on the field. Another year like last year’s (83 rec) for Thomas won’t only put him atop the Arizona record books above Bobby Wade, he will surpass Arizona State Receiver Derrick Hagan’s record of 258 receptions.

Then there’s Monster TE Rob Gronkowski. Last year’s 28 receptions for a team leading 18.8 YPC had one analyst saying simply that DBs couldn’t tackle him. If Robbie G can have more games like Washington State (4 catches, 115 yds, 2 TDs) he won’t be 3rd option for too much longer. And definitely won’t be under any radars. The most important number for the Arizona offense is 10. 10 returning offensive starters used to the Spread Offense. Bottom line, Arizona made tremendous steps to become Air ‘Zona last year, and with a year under their belt in the new scheme look out for the 2008 passing attack, and memo to Pac-10 HQ, get your erasers out because there’s gonna be some changes in those record books.

The defense took a hit. I can’t go on glowingly about the defense the same way I can about the offense. Why? The Defense is a huge question mark. They have to fill in for a Thorpe Award winning 1st round pick Antoine Cason, Pac-10 leading tackler Spencer Larsen, draft picks Wilrey Fontenot and Lionel Dotson, and 4 other departing starters. What’s the good news? While those players were great, Arizona was able to outscore opponents with an underperforming Defense. While on the offensive side of the ball, youth can’t compare to experience. The opposite, occasionally, holds true for defense. Especially in the fast Pac-10 having natural talent in the game able to overcome boneheaded mistakes will be key. UA returns 3 defensive starters. And luckily 2 of those are in the Defensive backfield. FS Nasty Nate Ness had a very good 2007 (5 INTs in 6 games) and SS Cam Nelson will bring his 60 tackles (4th on team in ’07) and looks to solidify the Secondary while Devin Ross has natural ability to play bigger than his size (5’11”) and Marquis Hundley got some quality minutes last year. Of course high on the list of competition at CB is Incoming much loved recruit Robert Golden.

The other returning starter is Middle Linebacker Ronnie Palmer. Ronnie is ready to make some noise and he’ll let you know it. As of right now I believe Xavier Kelley and Adrian McCovy will be starting at the outside linebackers, but Vuna Tuihalamaka impressed the hell out of me in Spring Ball and should be ready at a moments notice. One of the biggest acquisitions, it appears is Arizona DT Earl Mitchell. If that name sounds familiar he was protecting Tuitama last year along with a handful of receptions and a TD as the FB. Coaches looked at his speed and his 265 lb frame and decided that Interior lineman was a much better fit for him. From what I’ve seen and heard in the offseason, this might be the most important move they made all summer. Fresh faces and youthful exuberance might be exactly what this defense needs. No one is firmly set in their positions so don’t be surprised to see players fighting that much harder on Saturdays to keep their positions.
The special teams were great last year. Kicker Jason Bondzio made tremendous strides in Tucson so we could forget the name of Nick Folk. The Senior and Pac-10 Honorable Mention PK went 21-24 on kicks less than 50 yards and 21 out of 25 total. Sophomore Keenyn Crier, who we all hope doesn’t see the field too often, will help keep the ball on the right side of the field. The second team all Pac-10 kicker averaged near 40 yards net and is definitely poised to play on Sundays. Besides that there isn’t much to say. The kickoff coverage team only allowed 1 TD 71 Kickoffs. Of course the kickoff specialist team didn’t get a whole lot of opportunity for tackles since only 47 of the 71 kickoffs netted a return. And while the 9.5 yards per punt return aren’t the best (#73 nationally last year) the 0 TDs allowed is very good and only having to punt 20 times isn’t too bad. With Cason gone Mike Thomas will be stepping up as return man in a unit that had 2 punt returns last year. No shot to Antoine but I would be surprised if Thomas can’t get a little more return yardage he’s a lot more elusive and similar in stature and speed to Chicago’s Devin Hester. In another silent aspect of the game, Arizona came in 4th in the conference in least yards penalized.

Arizona will have the tools and opportunities to Save the job of Mike Stoops. Whether it be through a 7-5 record, 11-1, or most likely 9-3 Arizona will be playing in late December. Expect this year’s Territorial Cup game (December 6, Tucson) to be the biggest game of the season for one if not both of these bitter rivals. If both teams are coming into this game with a shot at the Rose Bowl, which is possible, expect more than (school record)59,920 in Attendance, Standing Room Only. And with a little luck and a lot of hard work, when that game is over, as in years past, a sea of red will flood the field at Arizona Stadium. But the difference in 2008 is that my beloved Kitty Kats will be making plans for Pasadena on January 2nd, and I will be absent from work.

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