Monday, November 30, 2009

Chip Off The TBS Block

Chip Caray was fired today. He didn't quit, he was fired. How do we know it wasn't mutual? From the article:

Caray had some time left on his contract with Turner, where he also called Braves games on the Peachtree TV cable network. Levy said the company was looking at a "number of candidates" to replace Caray at both positions.

TBS is paying Chip to stay away. Smart move.

If only Milton Bradley worked for TBS.

The Winds of Change, Perhaps?

Who's got next?This page has long held the opinion that Lovie Smith is a good coach when it comes to motivating his players and getting the most out of their performances. These good skills have been nearly offset by his stubbornness to adapt his game plans to the talent he has available to him. Additionally, he has shown time and again that he is a poor tactician when it comes to adjusting his game plan once a game has started.

None of those will be the reasons Lovie stays or gets fired after the 2009 season. As with nearly everything, especially with the McCaskey's, it all will come down to money.

Yes, Lovie Smith is owed $10 million more dollars through 2011. And his coaching staff is probably due another $5 million combined on top of that. Furthermore, there is really no reason to unload Lovie unless you completely clean house and remove Jerry Angelo, the architect of this house (which is in need of foreclosure). That means another $5 million or more.

So, to start the process of fixing the Bears, it's going to cost well over $20 million or more. They'll never do it, right?

Most likely not. But don't be too sure.

The question the McCaskey's have to weigh is if retaining this regime will cost them more money than firing them and replacing them. There is certainly a probability that the cost to retain is greater than the cost to fire.

First, as mentioned previously, this team has $40 million invested in Jay Cutler. If Lovie can't get value out of that $40 million, a team could see that there's money to be saved by finding someone who can get that value out. And, beyond Cutler, there's value in the rest of the roster. Can value be generated out of Johnny Knox, Devin Hester and Lance Briggs or will this regime simply burn their salaries and talent in the fires of wasted seasons?

And then there is the question of franchise value. What does a disgusted fan base do to the value of the franchise in a sale. Make no doubt about it, the Bears will eb the next team sold in Chicago, and that day comes not long after Virginia McCaskey decides she prefers a harp and a halo to a sky box.

The Bears have a lot of family members that own stock who want to monetize that stock. What's better for the value? Lovie Smith, Jerry Angelo and rapidly de-evolving quarterback or Bill Cowher?

It was no accident that Hub Arkush let slip last week that the Bears have reached out to Cowher. The McCaskey family floated a trial balloon to see what fan reaction would be. Word on the street was that the fans were pretty receptive to the idea.

The McCaskey's are going to do what they need to do to protect the value of their investment. Unlike nearly every other owner, this is all they have. If they deem that firing Lovie will improve their value, the regime will be dumped very quickly after this season ends.

The only remaining question is: Can the final 5 games of the 2009 season influence that decision.

Well, back in 2006, with another team up for sale, waning fan interest and empty seats resulted in the spending of a few hundred million dollars on Lou Piniella, Alfonso Soriano, and Ted Lilly.

The telltale for the 2009 Chicago Bears will be the same. Watch for empty seats.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Donna Needs More Education

Normally, we go with Les Nessman. As a change, we go with Jed Bartlett.

Happy Turkey Coma, everyone!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

What He's Really Saying

For the last few days, the radio talk shows have talked about little else than what Dr. Dan Grossman, ophthalmologist from Bloomington, IN, had to say about Jay Cutler, Rex Grossman and the sad state that is the Chicago Bears:

"You know this young man can really play the sport and that position. It borders on the ridiculous. And the media wants to continually rip the player. And they are missing the point. It's not the player. It's the organization.

I'm not even going to rip the coaches. It's not even the coaches. The coaches are given a clear, strong message: 'We're not building an offensive passing team; we're building an offensive running team.'"

What the media has focused on are the direct points Dr. Grossman made (why is Jay struggling and why did Rex struggle) and the "journalistic" angle (why did Fred Mitchell even go and contact Dr. Grossman).

There is some merit in the journalism angle. Is it good for society to have newspapers, in this specific case the Chicago Tribune, continue to try to stave off extinction by creating stories and not simply reporting them? Does it even matter in something as trivial as sports? If this practice is accepted for sports, does it have ramifications for how news organizations will cover hard news?

All good discussions to have.

But Dr. Grossman makes an accusation that fans of sports teams need to understand. Dr. Grossman has directly accused the McCaskey family of directly controlling the style of on field play to the detriment of the product. Listen to what he says:

"I believe that the NFL is a passing league. It has been for the last 20 years. Chicago continues to use the phrase, at least Lovie Smith continues to use the phrase, 'We get off the bus running.' They need to abandon that concept. Running is obviously a very important part of the offense. But the best teams in this league are prolific passing teams."

The good doctor is saying that ownership is guiding the "run first" mentality when the league has moved on to become a passing league.

No one in the professional media has asked Mike McCaskey to comment on this as far as this page knows.

Do the Bears make general manager and coaching hires based upon on-field styles as directed by ownership?

Does ownership get involved in game decisions in other ways?

Are player personnel decisions still influenced by ownership?

This is what Dr. Grossman is saying. About time someone asked if his accusations have merit.

And, Cub fans, let's hope Tom Ricketts is paying close attention to this as well.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Picked Over

When the Cubs signed Milton Bradley, he was already clearly a loon, but a talented loon. His numbers were good, he got on base, he had decent power. One figured that in a decent lineup, if he could stay healthy, Milton would be a good player for the Cubs. Hell, he could even be the Cubs #3 hitter.

Boy was scouting wrong.

That's what you get when you scout a player via the press and not by watching him regularly.

When the Bears traded for Jay Cutler, you looked at the numbers and listed to the analysts. Here was a franchise QB. Young, proven, ready for the next ten years. People who didn't agree were lambasted by the Boers & Burnstein types with them saying, "You've had plenty of chances to see this guy. Denver's been onllocal TV plenty the last three years. He's great. Don't worry about it."

Sounded good. These guys are paid to watch every game so we gave their opinion the benefit of a doubt. Some of us have non-sports lives and can't watch 16 NFL games a week, much less 15 MLB games a day. Therefore, we've learned to give some credence to their opinion.

Well, one wonders what they saw in Jay Cutler before, because we aren't seeing it here.

Jay is a good quarterback, but he clearly has some serious flaws. Those flaws that are being exposed as a Chicago Bear are some combination of three factors:

1) His receivers are beyond awful. Often it seems that Jay expects Bear receivers to behave like NFL receivers. That's a mistake. While the Bears have some guys that have the talent to catch and the speed to run, they don't seem to have guys that know how to play.

2) The play calling can be brutal. How many third and longs where the play is a three yard swing pass are going to be called before someone suggests that they should try something different?

3) Jay just doesn't see the defenders bracketing his receivers. This seems to be his red zone problem. The less field there is to defend, the more the defense can surround the wide outs, the more Cutler tosses a ball into the gut of a defender.

Interestingly, all this is fixable. Better WRs who are better coached would be a help. A GM who drafted and signed better offensive linemen would help.

The question is if this staff can do the fixing? The McCaskey's have more money tied up in Jay Cutler than they do in Lovie Smith and Jerry Angelo. At what point do they spend money do defend other money?

A few more losses and we just may find out.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

After 40 Years, Days Still Sunny

Happy 40th to Sesame Street.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Upon Further Review

It's been like the 1980's around here. The Cubs have new ownership and there are real, honest-to-goodness leveraged buy outs to work on. The latter has taken up the bulk of the time of this writer. Regardless, everything seems like a replay of decades ago.

Speaking of replay, it's interesting how much instant replay has been the focus of the sport world of late. The Major League Baseball playoffs were littered with obvious mistakes that would take one quick glance to overturn on instant replay. Alex Rodriguez had a double that was turned into a home run via replay in the World Series. The Iowa Hawkeyes were saved a loss to Indiana by a questionable reversal of a touchdown call. Then, just last night, the Bulls were denied a potential win via a ten minute review of a potential game winning shot by Brad Miller.

In the MLB General Managers meetings this week, replay was glossed over:

Upon further review ... baseball general managers like instant replay the way it is.

GMs failed to take a vote Tuesday on expanding instant replay following a postseason filled with blown calls by umpires.

"I know there are some who have talked off line about the expansion of instant replay," said Jimmie Lee Solomon, executive vice president of baseball operations in the commissioner's office. "Right now, the commissioner doesn't see any reason to consider it."

Bud Selig doesn't see any reason? I guess he didn't watch any of his sport over the months of October and November.

What's true is this: Bud, you opened the door to replay already. It's in your sport. That you use it in only the most rudimentary way on calls that could become undisputed by simply installing Wrigley Field-like baskets in every stadium only shows how unthinking you are.

But you opened the door. To say you only like replay for somethings and not for others is not only dumb, but it suggests you have an outside influence preventing you from implementing replay further.

The thing about replay is you either do it fully loaded or not at all. You know the old joke that says if you won't sleep with me for $10 but you will for $1,000,000, then we know what you are, we are just haggling over price?

How much more do you need to be paid, Bud, to get replay done the right way? We know what you are, we just want to know your price.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Checking the Appendix

I just want to know how long Stewart has been practicing the Glenn Beck imitation.

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Monday, November 02, 2009

Remebering Sweetness

Yesterday, at halftime of the Bears boring win over the Cleveland Browns, the Chicago Bears played a tribute to Walter Payton. Now, unless you saw the late news or read the papers and blogs this AM, you'd never have known about the tribute given Fox's CBS' ignoring the event.

It seems there was a six minute video tribute. The Bears have done their fans a service by posting the video on line. If you haven't seen it, the tribute can be found here.

I was 8 years old when Walter played his first game as a Bear. I have no recollection of watching the Bears before him. Could simply be that they were so bad that there was nothing worth remembering.

Walter Payton is worth remembering.

Hard to believe it's been 10 years.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

The Fugitive 2

Right down the street from Ivy Chat HQ.


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