Friday, November 30, 2007

Red Storm Fading Away?

Had the opportunity yesterday to spend the afternoon with a rather well known figure in the Cub hierarchy. This person's feeling was that Matt Murton's time in a Cub uniform was nearly over.

While this would certainly sadden a portion of Cub fans, and would leave three kids in Glenview fatherless, should such a move occur it really begs a familiar question:

At what point does Jim Hendry learn to scout his own players properly and trade them when their value is highest?

Just look at the "Mark Prior is on the block" rumors from this week. Trading Prior NOW!?!?!?!? You make that move in 2005 if you are going to do it. Matt Murton? 2006. Angel Guzman? 2005. Andy Sisco? Oh yeah, they let him go for nothing. The list goes on. Corey Patterson, Ryan Harvey, Bobbie Brownlie, Luke Hagerty, Chadd Blasko, Brian Dopriak. All guys who yielded little to no value to the team.

If there's been on huge failing of Jim Hendry, it's been a total failure to generate talent from the minor leagues. And that doesn't only mean developing guys that become regulars on the team. It means making more of the Hee Seop Choi for Derrek Lee type deals. Where would this team be today if, in 2004, Hendry had taken three of those names above and sent them to Kansas City for Carlos Beltran?

With it looking more and more like Sam Zell can close his purchase of the Tribune in the next few weeks, one only hopes that means the sale of the Cubs will move to the front of the queue. And that will, hopefully, end the Jim Hendry tenure rather quickly.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Getting To Know These Guys

Too cold for shirtless hugs.Despite the late arrival of the host and a slow kitchen in delivering some above average steaks, a good time was had by all at the House that Jordan Built. What was unexpected was how good the entertainment of the game itself was going to be.

Patrick Kane
Jonathan Toews
Nikolai Khabibulin
Martin Havlat

These are guys, that if John McDonough does the job he is expected to do, could very soon be recognizable names in this town. Perhaps, even recognizable faces.

This page doesn't claim to know a huge amount about hockey strategy or skills. But it doesn't take much to see that Mr. Kane has become a very good skater and stick handler in his 18 years on this earth. And, when you worry about his size, you get quickly reminded he's not done growing yet.

The crowd realized it, too. Despite only 10 to 12 thousand people in attendance, people were into the game. Martin Havlat got a post-game standing O for scoring 2 goals in his first game back from injury. And Nikolai "Bulin Wall" Khabibulin (pretty weak nickname) got two assists from the crease.

With Friday's game on TV, likely in high definition, this team is worth the time to watch.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Actual Cub News

Kerry Wood is a Cub through 2008. Terms have not been disclosed at this time.

One only hopes that Kerry got no more than a moderate raise from last year.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Devistator Returns

Up, Up, and Away!It's always fun to see an ex-Bear get faced. But the sheer joy at seeing an asswipe like Todd Sauerbrun (or Sauer-BUM from the old Rehling-Bears listserve) get faced is just too good to be true.

I wonder how many people remember him as a miserable failure as a 2nd round draft pick of Dave Wannstedt? Even fewer probably remember Todd giving an accidental lawn job to a house near the old Halas Hall and then flipping off some young kids at that house for having the audacity to actually yell at him for vandalizing property.

Looks like I picked the wrong day to stop injecting trenboloneBefore the game, Todd showed the old arrogance:

"We're not going to kick away from him," Sauerbrun told The Denver Post. "We respect him and he's the best, but we have guys on our coverage teams that are paid to make big tackles."

Based on the pictures, not only did Todd's "guys" not make tackles, but Todd's chemically enhanced body only served as a jump rope for Devin Hester.

Here Me Now, Believe Me Now.The 2007 Bears and the words "playoffs" are only distantly related. But the Devistator remains appointment television.

Greg Gumbel got in the act today when he said, on Hester's second TD, "This is unbelievable."

Not really. He's just that good.

Now, if he could only learn to run a pattern other than "fly"...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Told You He Was Interim

So, the tag on his title was accurate. Chicago Cubs Interim-President-for-13-Months John McDonough is leaving the Cubs to run the Chicago Black Hawks. This is an excellent move on so many levels for both franchises, and John himself.

The Cubs need a president to take the team in a whole new direction. John could have been that, but, more likely, he was not the right guy. The Cub president needs to be able to hire a GM who will follow the president's vision for an organization that will develop talent. The new owner will want to hand pick that guy. That need to be a career MLB person, not FCB.

McDonough is a pitch man. He's the guy that made going to games at Wrigley more important than winning. That's a good thing for a business, but bad for a serious fan.

At the Hawks, McDonough will be able to use his brand building to rescue a stagnant franchise. Expect young Mr. Kane to get a Popeye's Fried Chicken commercial in short order. Coach Dennis Savard will start showing up in ads for Salad Spinners (try the Savy Spinnerama Salad!).

Good luck, John. You were better in one year than MacPhail in 13, if only because you said "World Series." Thanks, and don't slip on the ice.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Teeter Totering

You know it's a strange fall when the Chicago Bears, 9 months off a Super Bowl appearance, are behind the Chicago Black Hawks in terms of interest. While Jerry Angelo starts his search for a new backfield to replace his Wunderkids Rex Grossman and Curtis Enis Cedric Benson, the Hawks sport Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. These guys are generating actual interest and discussion instead of indifference and derision.

What's so disappointing about this Bear season is not that it began with such hope. Rather it seems that there is no light at the end of the tunnel. The guys that could be looked to for hope in 2008 all seem to be untrustworthy.

Brian Urlacher - shadow of his former self. Injury or age could be the cause, but the future for him at this age is dim.

Tommie Harris - the best defensive tackle in the game before his injury last year. Will he ever return as a dominant player?

Lance Briggs - will he even be a Bear?

Mike Brown - Will he even be in the NFL?

Benson and Grossman are headed to the waiver wire. Bernard Berrian is a Viagra/prune juice cocktail. The offensive line is more porous than Sponge Bob.

And Lovie Smith is making Jerry Angelo's head spin wondering if the Texas Rangers might lend him some of their free cash to buy Smith's contract out.

It looks like 2010 will be the year the Bears next make contact with the NFL playoffs.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Did You Know This Video is Worth 6 Minutes of You Time?

I cannot vouch for the accuracy of everything in here, but it is fascinating.

Here's the source:

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

One Down, Several To Go

And good bye to you, too.Despite the hatred some had for Jacque Jones, this page never really despised the guy. Sure, he had the Dusty Bakerish habit of blaming everything but himself. Sure, he had awful numbers when it mattered and good ones when it didn't. Sure, he tried to change the subject from his poor play to the fans.

But hate? Not really.

That gets reserved for guys like Todd Hundley who was not only a poor player, but also flipped off the fans despite making millions while being strung out.

Or Dave Kingman who decided to blow off the fans on his own appreciation day.

Or Korey Patterson whose sins are easily found by using the search box at the top of this page.

See, those guys all were not only bad players, but insulted the fans. It's not like Jacque did that....


Yeah, good bleeping riddance to one of the worst Cubs of all time.

It's just too bad that some schmoe with the power to decide to make him a Cub didn't make him one in the first place.

Damn good think Lou Piniella is here to be the defacto GM.

Ryan Dempster and Jason Marquis? Keep your bags packed.

Monday, November 12, 2007

A Farewell to Weak Arms?

With Jacque Jones once again Mostly Traded, let's look at the particulars of the deal. Jacque Jones is owed $5,000,000 in 2008. Paying Jacque five large is about as big a waste as the National Helium Reserve. Anything to get rid of that salary is tremendous.

But, what about what's coming back? Omar Infante has already been dubbed the second coming of Neifi Perez and Ceasar Izturis. Hard to disagree with that for a guy with a career OBP identical to Corey Patterson (.298 in case you are interested). So, why trade for this guy?

The best answer seems to be that Infante is arbitration eligible. That means he could be non-tendered and simply released for no additional cost.

The problem is that Jim Hendry probably thinks that there is some value to keeping Infante. Hey, Jim. There isn't. If Hendry can swallow his pride and simply trade for Infante and then non-tender him, that’s outstanding. It's like finding $5,000,000 and losing a migraine all at once.

Make the trade. Deny arbitration. Move on.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Over at the ever-fun blog, they've been debating the announced move of Ryan Dempster to the starting rotation.

This move is clearly a prelude to trying to trade Dempster.

A team cannot rely on the walk machine that Dempster is to be a closer. That means you have to find another use for him as a pitcher. Mop up men don't get $4 million per year (unless Jim Hendry is the GM and your name is Scott Eyre), so that role is out. Only starter is left.

There is always a need for starting pitching in spring training. Perhaps a Texas or a Kansas City would take a flyer on him. The salary is low enough. The Cubs don't want anything other than salary relief.

The only way Dempster is still a Cub in April is if no one else wants him. And, if not, he'll be back of the bullpen fodder when the season starts.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

In Sports, What Goes Up Keeps On Going

The Daily Herald reports on the rumors that ticket prices may be on the rise at Wrigley Field.

The Cubs usually inform season-ticket holders of prices for the following season in the fall. Cubs president John McDonough was not immediately available for comment Monday. A team spokesman said he had no knowledge of ticket-price increases for 2008.

That lack of denial on such a big issue sounds a lot like a confirmation.

Raising prices is the American, capitalisitic thing to do, especially when a company is up for sale like the Cubs are. You want to show that your client base is loyal and that the elasticity of the price of your product is very low.

But, even if the Cubs were not for sale, ticket prices would be going up, probably quite a bit. And it has nothing to do with salary. The Cubs sold 3,252,462 in 2007. That's almost 98% of capacity (3,333,960 for 81 games). Would increasing ticket prices drive more fans away than revenue it raised? Not likely.

Bully for the ticket price increase. Nice to know that there is still something in this world that Adam Smith would like that doesn't have some sort of government subsidy on it.

Friday, November 02, 2007

You've been feeding us WALNUTS!?!?!?

One of the all time great moments from Taxi. What's better? The look on Jim's face after the brownie or Gordon after the lava lamp?

After the Rental: Spider-Man 3

Exhausted from following the plotWhile the first two films in the series were good (the first bordered on great), this one seemed to suffer from a director, Sam Raimi, who knew this was his last film in the series and the last for the cast in the series. What does a guy in that position do? Get every last thing possible squeezed into the film.

Bad idea.

What a total, absolute, mess. This film challenges The Big Sleep for convoluted plot and has so many characters crammed into it that it makes the Edens Expressway feel empty.

Uusually it's the jeans taht are painted onThe need for Venom in the film escapes me. Couldn’t Venom have infected Spider-Man and kept infecting him all through the film to make a bridge to Spider-Man 4? That would have eliminated 2 characters (Venom and Eddie Brock) and tightened up the plot quite a bit. And the idea to have him team up with Sandman at the end to defeat Spider-Man? So cliché. Oh, and haven't we seen the Sandman before? He looked just like the CGI Arnold Vosloo in "The Mummy." (Maybe Patricia Velasquez would have perked this film up)

Then, they add Gwen Stacy to make a love triangle for Peter/Spider-Man and Mary Jane (is that a love square). But, there’s already a love triangle, make that a pentagon, with Peter/Spider-Man, Mary Jane, and Harry Osborne/New Green Goblin. Was Gwen really necessary? Nope.

Tobey McGuire spends enough time crying for this film to have a slot booked for it on Lifetime. Was Kristen Dunst talking about Mary Jane or herself when she said she “wasn’t very good” as an actress?

What made the first two films so good were the quiet moments where you felt that there were real people behind the comic book situations. That’s part of what made Batman Begins so good. In this film, Sam Raimi tried to do that and failed. What we got were forced scenes with Aunt May walking in to Peter’s apartment, saying a few more “I believe” lines, and walking out. And Mary Jane and Harry dumping omelets on the floor.

The best parts? J. Jonah Jameson’s scene with the conference buzzer and his pills, and the Sam Raimi obligatory Bruce Campbell cameo. Oui!

Ivy Chat rating: Out in a rundown between first and second while going for a triple.

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