Posted on: April 28, 2009 5:03 pm

Hawks' coverage anit-American

I know hockey is a Canadian sport, but as a Blackhawks fan I have to take issue with the majority of the coverage in this series! J ust give the Blackhawks their due, and stop providing the Flames excuses.   Throughout the entire series the media has given the Hawks backhanded compliments at best, while pointing out every break that didn't go the Flames' way.  Can anyone actually justify the hue and cry for a suspension heard when Adam Burish cross checked Rene Bourque, but only called Cammellari's elbow to Martin Havlat or Todd Bertuzzi's elbow in the early minutes of game six as undisciplined?  Undisciplined?  Are you kidding me?  Cammellari's elbow bordered on criminal! 

The Blackhawks simply had more talent, composure and better execusion than the Flames.  But their success is being explained away as being a result of Calgary's shortfalls - not Chicago's capabilities/  By the way, the Hawks had their share of injuries too. Sopel has been out; Sharp came into the series following scratches due to a bad wheel; Versteeg had a bum shoulder; Kane was sidelined; Towes was dinged up (which is why his ice time went down); Walker's hand was mangled, but he only missed a couple of shifts and Pahlsson had mono!   Did you read anything about that in the hockey media coverage - except for Kane's missing a game, and not being able to clearly say why?

Nevertheless, this team plays the game with levels of commitment and discipline that belies their youth. Keith, Seabrook and Barker are outplaying the $56 million investment in Brian Campbell, while Hjalmarsson is playing huge minutes despite playing most of the year in Rockford!  Where's that story line?  Then there are the forwards. Five of the top six have 3 years or less in the league, plus two rookie starters! Where's that storyline?

So what if Chicago isn't in Canada - at least they're an Original Six team that is playing the game - right. They're already in rarified air - and judging from the regular season tilts may not do well against Vancouver - but they deserve better coverage, and that change shouldn't only come if they play Detroit!   Just give the young, inexperienced, - not expected to go anywhere in the playoffs - Chicago Blackhawks their due.

As a Chicago sports fan - I think I understand loyalty. Hell, the Hawks haven't been this far in the playoffs since 1996.  What I don't understand is the why throughout most of the "national" broadcasts the announcers feel compelled to point out the Hawks' Canadien backgrounds. This has already become an international sport - so why their Canadien roots is more of a story line than their capabilites?  That said - if that's what's needed for these kids to get the credit they so richly deserve - then fine, let's all get fully behind Towes, Sharp, Versteeg, Kieth, Seabrook and Barker getting invites to play for Steve Yzerman's next team Canada!

But until then, they represent Chicago - and we're proud of the way they play the game - with grit, discipline, skill and as a team. Or simply - they play the game as it should be played, which is why they deserve better from the Hockey media. GO HAWKS!  And if Canadians want to boo our national anthem - or the hockey media wants to slight our team because it's from south of the border - then I suggest they collectively put down the Molson's and try an Old Style - or even a cold least that's Belgium-owned and shouldn't confuse their national pride!
Category: NHL
Tags: blackhawks, NHL
Posted on: March 25, 2009 10:26 am

Danks would Benefit from Perspective

John Danks is a former first round pick who has always been stroked about his potential and how that equates to his worth financially.  However, John would benefit from some balance.  A conversation with someone who might offer an alternative point of view.

Currently Danks is hearing about leverage, earning power and comparable arbitration numbers from his agent.  While I don't have any illusion that he would ever read this post - were it possible - I'd like to offer two words to young Mr. Danks...Jon Garland!

Garland - who undoubetedly also heard about leverage, earning power and comparable numbers heading into this offseason - left millions on the table when he chose to refuse arbitration and test the market.  The 29 year old Garland - who has been pitching in the majors since 2000; has racked up more than 100 wins while winning 18 games in a season...twice, and pitched more than 190 innings every year since 2002, had arguably more to expect than any young left hander who has two seasons in the majors and has lost more than he's won!

I'm not saying the Sox should have signed Garland.  What I'm saying is that I'd love to see Danks get the benefit of perspective directly from someone who has been through the process.  Sure Garland will be fine "settling" for $6M from the D-Backs, but you can be sure he was looking for more than $10M, and that has to make you question the advise you've been getting!

Danks is a big boy.  He's earned more with his draft day signing bonus than most of us will earn in a life time, but to turn down a $15.5 million dollar bridge to Free Agency, while looking for a longer-term deal seems like bad advise.  The Sox simply do NOT offer more than four years to a pitcher.  Even Buehrle's recent extension was for four years.

So if Danks understands that the longest term deal he's going to get from the Sox is four years - then what we're really talking about is his potential and how that equates to his worth financially - again.   I'd love to be able to say, "John, this is Jon Garland.  You might want to ask him a few questions about leverage, potential earning power and the current market conditions."


Category: MLB
Posted on: March 20, 2009 1:47 pm

Fixating on Quarterback Stabilization

December 30, 2008:  Jerry Angelo; “I know that there is going to be a lot of talk about [acquiring] a No. 1 receiver. [But] it starts with the quarterback. It’s all about the quarterback. You don’t win because of wide receivers. You don’t win because of running backs. You win because of the quarterback. 

    “We’ve got to get the quarterback position stabilized. We’re fixated on that and I don’t want us to lose sight of that. The rest of that is peripheral stuff. It starts with the quarterback, and that’s the bottom line.”

    Was a Free Agent in the plans in December?   “I don’t know that yet until I know who is out there,” he said. “But if I feel that is our best option, then we have to look at it very seriously. That position has to get righted. The offense starts with the quarterback. We know it’s the most valuable position on a football team and we have always been mindful of it. We’ve gone through so many different scenarios at that position we can write a book, more so of what not to do than what to do.

    “But I do have confidence in Kyle. I don’t want anybody coming out of this thinking that we don’t believe in Kyle. We do believe in Kyle. But Kyle has got to take another step, and  that’s the bottom line. It’s a very difficult position to play. It consumes an inordinate amount of money on your [salary] cap. It’s a very big decision and we’re going to measure twice and cut once on this one.”

    Since then the Bears have signed Brett Basenaz and told him to make the team!  Not exactly a high bar of expectation.  They also stayed safely on the sidelines as other FA quarterbacks signed elsewhere.  When describing their approach to replacing the recently departed John St. Clair Angelo offered the possibility of signing a FA before the draft; drafting and/or waiting to sign a FA after the draft.  This approach may suffice for the offensive line, but if you take JA at his word – it won’t do for the QB position.

    So, after signing Basenaz to compete for the backup position and watching the FA parade go by - are the Bears done?  If not, then what’s left?   Are they really fixated on the QB position above all others?

    If Angelo is truly serious and not just positioning the Bears for negotiations with Orton, while placating the Chicago faithful – then Bears fans should be expecting another show to drop.     

    Surely Angelo didn’t get a call from New England when they recently traded Matt Cassell and Mike Vrabel for KC’s Round Two pick.  The Patriots probably knew that Angelo would not pay Cassel $14.65 million for three years let alone only next season.

    Now, out of nowhere, Jay Cutler has become available. Getting an All Pro Quarterback who is coming into his prime is rare.  Hopefully Angelo won’t spend too much time to, “…measure twice and cut once,” as they attempt to answer – at what cost.  

    Every year we hear about an established guide that places a quantitive value for draft picks – so agreeing upon the cost should only take a measure of ‘want to,’ on both sides.  Ideally, trading for Cutler without moving Orton would solidify the QB position for a very long time, provided that Orton was compensated well enough to swollow a great deal of pride.  If not, then the Bears would hopefully reduce the cost in terms of draft picks by adding Orton and convincing the Broncos they would be well served to allow him to compete with Chris Simms for their starting QB position.

    Missing the opportunity to trade for Jay Cutler would effectively translate to Angelo standing pat with Orton.  Kyle Orton is a fine young QB with one fatal flaw preventing him from being an outstanding young QB…he cannot throw deep. 

    Standing pat with Orton would seem to also translate to Angelo being willing to allow his confidence in Orton to override his declared fixation on stablizing the position.  So all Bears fans trying to figure out how the Bears will use their draft picks this year should prepare themselves for the possibility that Angelo will take Josh Freeman from Kansas State with pick 18 of the first round of the draft!  Freeman is 6’6” with a million dollar arm and a two cent head when trying to read defenses
.  If this description sounds familiar to Bears fans…think of another QB to come from the state of Kansas...Bobby Douglas - without as much ability to run!  Oy vhey!



Category: NFL
Posted on: January 4, 2009 4:34 pm

Loyalty's Great - but to 0-16 Coach - not so much

    Coaching in the NFL is an odd game of Musical Chairs squarely rooted in idea behind Six Degrees of Separation.  Every coach owes something to someone, who needs something from someone – whenever they’re now the coach without a chair when the music stops.  But, if only the Bears had enough foresight and loyalty to develop their own coaching fraternity they might be in better shape.

     The Bears are seriously considering bringing in Rod Marinelli following his horrible tenure in Detroit.  In fact, the Bears have been pursuing Marinelli since early in the Lovie Smith era – actually asking and being refused permission to talk to Marinelli when he was still a coach in Tampa.  Now, Marinelli – who has already visited Hallas Hall - is being considered for a made-up position – Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Line!  Make no mistake, the play of the D-line this year has warranted a look at how to better  ‘coach-em up,’ but, Marinelli? 

     What’s next – hiring Mike Martz?  Martz – you may remember was St. Loius’ Head Coach who hired a young LB coach away from Tampa to serve as his Defensive Coordinator.  And yes, that’s the same D Coordinator who later parlayed that opportunity into being the current head coach of the Chicago Bears.

     Loyalty is an admirable thing.  It speaks directly to the team concept, doing things the right way and/or keeping something successful moving forward.  But in the NFL – it ain’t easy!  When a new wrinkle like the West Coast Offense is developed - so is the Coaching Tree connected to Bill Walsh.  But adding to the Cover Two Coaching Tree, while the defensive scheme is getting exposed on a weekly basis, may not be the best time to show loyalty. 

That said - the NFL’s coaching ranks are filled with successful coaches with less than Six Degrees of Separation from the Bears - as players.   
     Need a new Head Coach – how about Jeff Fisher – who is currently the longest tenured Head Coach in the league.  
     Need a Defensive Coordinator – how about Mike Singletary – the 49ers new Head Coach who has no problem demanding old-school  fundamentals from today’s athlete.
     Need an Offensive Coordinator – how about Jim Harbaugh who is currently Stanford’s coach after running an explosive offense at San Diego State, and is in the discussion for the Raiders’ Head Coach position. 

     Surprisingly – there are more! Ron Rivera in San Diego; Leslie Frazier in Minnesota; Mark Carrier in Baltimore; Bryan Cox in New York; Jerry Fontenot in Green Bay; and even Doug Plank in Atlanta.  

     Certainly all Bears players don’t have what it takes to become a coach in the NFL, and none of them will be able to make the move right into leadership.  But equally certain is that - if the Bears looked - they’d find some that have what it takes to be developed!  Players like Mike Brown have been talked about as coaches on the field just as much as Singletary or Rivera.  Affording these players the one thing all coaches need – an opportunity – would undoubtedly nurture and develop a loyalty the Chicago Bears, as “The” original team, should have as a major part of its identity.   Not all will pan out, but those that do will continualy develop the same loyalty that we’re considering offering to a 0-16 Head Coach!  What do have to lose!

Category: NFL
Tags: Bears, Chicago, Coach
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