Bulls' mistreatment of Noah's foot injury is not surprising
March 10, 2010, 5:00 PM
By: Marc Silverman
My co-host, Tom Waddle, likes to say he's a few credits shy of his medical degree. I don't have any credits in medicine, but I do have common sense, and I believe that's something the Bulls have lacked when it comes to the handling of the Joakim Noah injury.
The Bulls should have shut down Joakim Noah for a few weeks as soon he began suffering from plantar fasciitis.
First, a little history. The Bulls have a recent track record for downplaying the seriousness of an injury. Just a little over a year ago, the Bulls didn't seem to believe Luol Deng was suffering from a stress fracture and frowned upon him asking for a second opinion. On March 4, 2009, the Bulls sent out a press release stating Deng had a slight stress fracture. Here is the final paragraph of that press release that strongly hinted that Deng would return in a few days:
Symptoms, developing Saturday, when the Bulls played the Houston Rockets, prompted this recent evaluation. He has been restricted from high level activity since then. At this point, he will undergo "active rest," meaning that he will be encouraged to challenge himself physically, and if symptoms remain minimal, he will be allowed an expeditious return to play. These decisions will be made on a day-to-day basis.
Expeditious return, huh? Symptoms minimal? Deng didn't play another game the rest of the season. He actually wasn't totally healthy until just weeks before this season's training camp.
This gives me reason to doubt the Bulls and their training staff for their inconsistent treatment of Noah. Plus, I suffered from plantar fasciitis this past summer and learned a great deal about the variations of the injury.
Noah was hampered by it for a few weeks before the Bulls sat him for one game. They let him return, and his play suffered. After finally giving in and shutting him down, they allowed Noah to leave the country for a beach vacation away from daily treatment during the All-Star break.
A couple of weeks ago, the Bulls allowed him to return to play between 7-10 minutes per game. What good did that do? Why play someone for seven minutes and contribute nothing when he could be giving the foot more rest and have a better chance for a full recovery before the season ends?
Finally after playing a total of 26 minutes in three games, Vinny Del Negro admittedly got "greedy" and played Noah 27 minutes against the Blazers. Following that game, Noah was shut down again.
Forget Noah helping this team getting to the playoffs or in the playoffs. He won't be the same until next year. Maybe that would've been the case all along, but the Bulls didn't help matters by changing the way they treated the injury several times.
This is not a second guess either, I've stated from the start that Noah needed to be shut down for several weeks if you wanted to get something out of him during the stretch run. The Bulls and leg injuries are starting to sound like the Cubs with arm injuries.
• Say what you want about Lovie Smith, but he was at Julius Peppers' door at the start of free agency and brought him to Chicago. Ultimately, it was the money that got him signed, but Smith's appearance didn't hurt.
My question for the Bulls: When the long anticipated free agency period begins this summer, who will they send to D-Wade's door? John Paxson? Gar Forman? Vinny? A new coach? Whoever it is, the bar has been set by the Bears in free agency. Can the Bulls match their success?
• I still don't like to pay more money for Bears tickets, but I won't kick and scream as much when you spend some money to improve the team. So yes, cash our checks Bears as long as you keep writing them for good players. While you're at it, can I please get a good safety and some help at receiver?
• Is there anything more overrated than the stadium Jumbotron? Sure, you get some replays and highlights here or there, but it's mainly a vehicle to bring in money for teams via advertising.
That being said, bring one to Wrigley Field. Put it on one of the rooftops, perhaps Miller Lite will sponsor it instead of their billboard in right field. I welcome the new revenue so the Ricketts family can put it back into the team.
As long as you keep the scoreboard intact, put in a video board somewhere else. Worried about losing the charm? There's no charm in losing. A video board could add the revenue for one more premier player to the Cubs roster. And yes, I'm open to naming rights as well. Just keep the park at Clark and Addison and tweak away if it means helping the team on the field.
Steve Lipofsky/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images
The HBO documentary on Magic Johnson and Larry Bird is quality entertainment.
• Just finished watching the HBO documentary on Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. Two thumbs up and four stars. HBO always tells a great story, whether it's on Real Sports or a documentary like this.
There's no bigger Jordan fan than me, but you'll never get an argument from me that it was Larry and Magic who saved the NBA. This 90-minute special captures both legends from their showdown in the NCAA tourney in 1979 to their shared Dream Team experience in 1992. It captures their similar basketball skill as well as their completely different personalities. Do what you can to DVR this must-watch show.
• Stop playing Jeff Samardzija like a yo-yo. Up in the majors one minute, down in the minors the next. A starter one minute, a reliever the next. Let the kid pitch and live up to what he's supposed to be. Just because Angel Guzman went down and you've assembled a poor bullpen to begin with, don't stray from the plan to make Samardzija a starter.
• Just got back from Mexico, where I experienced one of the coolest moments watching a game on TV. Who would've thought there would be a Canadian hockey bar in Playa Del Carmen?
That's where my girlfriend and I took in the Olympic gold medal hockey game. It was packed wall to wall. Had to be 300 people in the indoor/outdoor venue. About 290 were Canadian.
Watching a game in a rapid environment for yours truly could be dangerous, but not one person got obnoxious. I was disappointed Team USA couldn't pull it out in OT, but was happy to shake hands with the jovial crowd.
US vs. Canada in Mexico. All of North America was covered. It just meant so much to them. I'll save my celebration for the Stanley Cup finals.
On a related note, the Riviera Maya is now No. 1 on my Mexican vacation power rankings. Cabo falls to No. 2, Puerto Vallarta No. 3, Acapulco No. 4 and Cancun is last. The only tropical vacation spot that has treated me better than Riviera Maya is Aruba. Need a break from the Chicago weather? Head to the Riviera Maya. Good deals abound and you'll thank me later.
Team's decision to raise prices without improving product is bad PR
February 23, 2010, 8:23 PM
By: Marc Silverman
So, let me get this straight.
The Bears just finished their third straight season without a playoff appearance. They kept a bad coach and bad general manager because they were too cheap to buy them out of their contracts. Claimed they were making big changes by hiring new coordinators. Took 27 days to hire "Lovie buddy" Mike Martz and more than a month to settle on in-house candidate and "Lovie buddy" Rod Marinelli. Fired pro personnel director Bobby DePaul and "escorted" him from the building. Then they told everyone they won't go "hog wild" during free agency. Am I forgetting anything? As Bears fans, our confidence in management is near an all-time low. So, after the start of one of the worst offseasons in recent memory, what do we get? A notice that ticket prices are going up.
My co-host Tom Waddle tells me that it's their business and I should stay out of it. Waddle sounds more and more like Kenny Williams every day.
I understand the Bears should never have a problem selling out the cozy Soldier Field. If you protest, someone on their long waiting list will gobble up those tickets in a heartbeat. That said, it doesn't mean we have to pay the freight happily. It's just not good public relations to raise prices after so many flops and penalize the fan in a rough economy.
Would Toyota dare to raise prices after its last few months? Of course not. That would be bad timing. Our Bears don't care about timing, if they did, Lovie would learn how to manage the clock. If Bill Cowher were here, I would've happily paid more for tickets. Instead, the McCaskeys have kept everyone in place because they didn't want to spend money, but they have no problem asking you to pay up.
So, after dealing with the newest and baddest version of the "Bad News Bears", I'm asking for one thing in return.
I want lights. I want cameras. I want action. Bring HBO to Halas Hall and training camp in Bourbonnais. Follow the White Sox's lead. Show the dedicated Bears fans the team you are asking them to shell out more money to see. Show them that the people running the team are competent. I'm asking NFL Films gatekeeper Steve Sabol to select the Bears as this year's subject for "Hard Knocks." I'm asking the McCaskeys to allow this and give us a glimpse of how the charter franchise of the NFL is run.
Imagine the storylines: A coach and his staff on the hot seat. Jay Cutler looking to rebound from a disastrous season with the help of the quirky Mike Martz. A healthy Brian Urlacher back on the field after missing all of 2009. Football "meathead" Mike Tice demanding excellence from the offensive line.
I'm sure the Bears would never go for this and the NFL could view Lovie as the least interesting man alive. My prediction ... the colorful Rex Ryan and the Jets will be the ones featured on HBO.
-- I've had the two-TV set up for a couple of years now. HD 42-inch over the fireplace. 48-inch projection old school box to the left. They comes in handy during dueling sporting events. Cubs/Sox games, Bulls/Hawks games or Bears/the rest of the NFL is the usual set up depending on the season. Sunday night was a dawn of a new sports day. USA/Canada hockey was showcased on the flat screen, albeit not in HD thanks to it airing on MSNBC. Girlfriend Gertrude was captivated by ice dancing. So, as I was living and dying with every shot vs. Ryan Miller in the last few minutes, Gertrude also "treated" me to comments about the Russians' outfits in ice dancing. Holy Lutz!
-- Don't know if someone else came up with this before us, but as Carmen DeFalco and I were discussing the many nicknames of the Bulls front office combo of John Paxson and Gar Forman, we came up with "GarForPax." I've heard Gar Paxman. Or Pax Forman. And even simply GarPax. I like "GarForPax" best. Uses both names and sums up the way things are being run, as far as I'm concerned. Paxson is still calling the shots. Forman announces them publically. So Forman speaks for Paxson. Thus, GarForPax.
Marc Silverman of the "Waddle & Silvy" show makes some predictions for Chicago teams
February 8, 2010, 6:19 PM
By: Marc Silverman
Crystal ball time. One year from now, the Chicago Bears will have a new head coach and GM. The Chicago Cubs will have a new manager. And the Chicago Bulls will have a new coach, at least one new star player, and will be no worse than third in the Eastern Conference. We have plenty of time later this year to get to Bears and Cubs, so let's focus in on the Bulls.
We're just over a week away from the trade deadline and it's time for John Paxson/Gar Forman to take a big step toward the summer free agent pot of gold. Now is the time to get the house in order. Tyrus Thomas, don't get too comfortable now that your suspension is over. The Bulls soured on you long ago, and there's no doubt you'll be dealt somewhere. Thomas never grew up and never realized that running the floor, rebounding, and playing fundamental defense would've made him a double/double machine.
Instead, Thomas continues to think he's Dominque Wilkins. Maybe he's Cedric Benson in high tops. Maybe he'll realize that not everyone is out to get him and use his gifts to blossom elsewhere. The funny part is, Thomas is a hard worker -- at least when it comes to his jump shot. Full disclosure, I wanted Thomas on draft day years ago. In hindsight, which was the worst Bulls draft night move: Elton Brand to the Los Angeles Clippers for Tyson Chandler or LaMarcus Aldridge to the Portland Trailblazers for Thomas and Victor Khryapa?
The Bulls next move must be either trading John Salmons or Luol Deng. Salmons' player option for next year is a salary cap killer if Deng is still on the roster. If you can find a taker the soft Deng, Salmons can fill his role at small forward. I wouldn't mind seeing Kirk Hinrich go either. Sure, he's played better but, he's overpaid and not great at any one thing. Don't tell me he's a great defender. He's undersized and commits too many dumb fouls. Yes, he tries hard, but the "Hinrich is a great defender" argument is one of the biggest myths in Chicago sports. Hinrich's shooting ability has been the biggest disappointment. While never great, my confidence in him from the outside is at an all-time low.
Believe it or not, these next ten days are the most important days of the Bulls season. Accomplishments now will have a bigger impact than any playoff series this year. As Bulls fans, we've watched other teams make the big splash over the last several years, and Paxson & Co. usually have an excuse as to why the Bulls stood pat. No more excuses. Get the house in order.
-- Is this football's version of the Lincoln/Kennedy coincidence? In 2007 in Miami, it was the fourth quarte and the Bears were down five points. Rex Grossman threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown by Kelvin Hayden. Then 2010 in Miami -- fourth quarter with the Colts down seven points. Peyton Manning throws an interception that's returned for a touchdown by Tracy Porter. Grossman, playing for a Chicago team, was intercepted by a player who attended Illinois. Manning, playing for an Indianapolis team, was intercepted by a player who attended Indiana. Grossman was No. 8. Manning No. 18! I have no clue if either have secretaries. And oh yeah, Manning is one of the greatest to ever play quarterback. Grossman was ... well, Grossman.
-- Dwight Freeney with a torn ligament is still better than any healthy Bears defensive lineman.
-- Sean Payton needed a defensive coordinator and got the best available last offseason, outbidding the Green Bay Packers. I'd say the $250,000 was money well spent after the Saints defense made game changing plays against future Hall of Famers Kurt Warner, Brett Favre and Peyton Manning. The Bears needed a defensive coordinator and played another round of "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" No, Lovie didn't reach into his pocket, at least not for money. He simply did what he does best, phone a friend. I was never under the illusion that the Bears would think outside the box and hire someone who would bring a fresh approach. This is Lovie's way -- he even got to hire his son as an assistant coach. But by making Rod Marinelli a first time defensive playcaller, you take him away from what he does best -- coach the defensive line. This all reminds me of the Devin Hester experiment. Take the best kick/punt returner away and make him an average receiver. The Bears aren't "the best" in many areas. They were with Hester, and they ruined him. They had one of the best defensive line coaches, and will now have him call plays for an average defense. So Lovie. So Bears.
-- The Super Bowl was the highest rated show ever with more than 106 million viewers. Championship weekend also set numerous marks. So why do we keep reading about a work stoppage in 2011? NFL football is king. So why is everyone acting like jokers? Please tell me the union and owners aren't dumb enough to continue down the road they're traveling.
-- Thanks to Rocky Wirtz for being a willing participant at "Lunch with a Legend." I was surprised to find out that he knew he would succeed his father as Chicago Blackhawks chairman when he was in sixth grade. Wirtz also told us not to expect the team to give a chance to Chris Chelios to retire a Blackhawk. Meantime, I'm not worried about the Hawks mini-slump. They lost the final game of an eight game road trip after traveling from California to North Carolina, then the first home game after the trip, which happens, and then a shootout loss. Every team goes through a slump, this one doesn't have me concerned.
-- I had my first full-fledged UFC experience on Saturday. Couldn't believe the "main event" was Randy Couture vs. Mark Coleman. The MMA people tell me that both are Hall of Famers, (is there an actual UFC Hall of Fame building?) but aren't they a little old to be the feature bout? Both make Brett Favre look young. I'm all for going down memory lane with two former gladiators, but can't you give two guys in their prime a chance?
-- Same night, I met Curtis Granderson after his friends threw the new Yankee a surprise birthday party at Fifty/50. He was with a ton of friends and a handshake would've been enough for me. But Granderson went above and beyond and talked baseball with my friends and me for at least five minutes. Too bad the Cubs couldn't find away to pull off a deal to bring Granderson back home. Granderson, Wade and Donovan McNabb star in my Chicago "good guy club". All-Star athletes from Chicago and all-star people.
-- Prediction...Northwestern and Illinois will be fighting for one of the last NCAA tournament bids. The teams split during the regular season and each have one signature win. Northwestern beat Purdue. Illinois dropped Michigan State last weekend. I believe the Big Ten tournament will be vital for each teams' future. The Wildcats and Illini will also face Wisconsin in Madison where a win would really beef up a resume. Illinois has the better conference record. Both should finish with about 22 wins and place them on the bubble.
-- Don't know if Kevin Millar is good enough to make my favorite baseball team, but he's funny enough to make a great analyst/expert on a major network when he does retire.
Derrick Rose's selection to the All-Star team -- the Bulls' first since Michael Jordan -- is reason to celebrate.
Starting with the Bulls, this is the team that lost to New Jersey at home. Blew a 35-point lead to the Sacramento Kings, also at home. Let Jarrett Jack tie his shoe during a live play. Allowed LeBron James to dance all over the court. Then, to start the recently concluded seven-game road trip, the Bulls stumbled and bumbled to losses against the Los Angeles Clippers and NBDL Golden State Warriors. Nobody could have predicted a five-game win steak was in this team's future. A handful of wins, on the road, all against winning teams, an NBA first! Now it's time to give the Bulls a hand.
Five games doesn't make a season, but give credit where credit is due. It's a team that has overcome the flu bug, bouts with plantar faciitis, and even a haunted hotel. What makes the trip even more special is Derrick Rose's selection to the All-Star team. A 12-year drought is over. Add it all together, and for this diehard, but often critical Bulls fan, it's the best week this franchise has experienced since sweeping the Miami Heat in 2007.
Plenty of questions remain: Will the Bulls make a move before the deadline? Will a deal make them better immediately? Will it be a trade to strictly shed payroll for this summer's free-agent class? Don't try to make a prediction. Whenever the rumor mill starts to churn, the Bulls and John Paxson have a habit of going the opposite way of what "sources are reporting."
Who knows if this is a team that is even capable of winning as many playoff games as it did last season? I do know this though: Watching Bulls games are enjoyable again. Baby steps.
Speaking of enjoyable, the Chicago Blackhawks picked up 10 more points on their wacky trip. Have you ever heard of a road trip where game seven is played in California and game eight is played less than 48 hours later in North Carolina? Only in Gary Bettman's league.
We are all expecting something special from this Hawks team who continue to overcome their share of drama. In the offseason, the Hawks fired their general manager and their star player had a taxi cab confession. The regular season starts in Finland, pauses in Vancouver for the Olympics, and has a mini controversy also in Vancouver in the back of a limo. Yet all they do is win. I'm committed and can't wait to see what blooms this spring. Like the Bulls, anything is possible by the trade deadline. Unlike the Bulls, anything less than a championship would be disappointing.
Our final strange trip takes us to dinner between Mike Martz and Jay Cutler in Nashville. After 27 clueless days searching for coordinators, the Bears are just turning to Martz now? Yes, they missed with Perry Fewel on defense, but at least they knew they wanted him out of the gate. If Martz was the guy all along, why wasn't he brought in during the first few days of the search? If Martz was ruled out early, and remember he was recommending Ken Zampese a couple of weeks ago, why is he being hired now? Wonder if Martz and Cutler ordered the duck. In my opinion, Cutler will be a "dead duck" running Martz's system with this offensive line.
Attention NFL reporters: Please leave Brett Favre alone. Do not try to get the "retirement scoop." Attention Minnesota Vikings public relations: Do not hold a retirement press conference where the tears will flow.
Here is what needs to happen. Let Favre go back to Mississippi. Let him wear his Wranglers and debate his decision for the next several months. And just like we have Groundhogs Day -- six weeks before the official start to spring -- we'll have a "Brett Favre Day" -- six weeks before the NFL season begins. Lets make it Aug. 2. Favre hibernates until then.
Do not try to text him, Ed Werder. Do not call his agent, Peter King. Every reporter travels to Hattiesburg, Miss., on Aug. 2 and Favre emerges. John Madden can emcee the event. If Favre sees his shadow, he plays. I'm serious about this. I love watching Favre from September through January. I hate the circus that "Favre watch" creates from February through August. This is the main reason many dislike Favre in general. Can we get the NFL's competition committee to pass an "ignore Brett Favre rule" until Aug. 2?
Took longer than normal, but I finally have a college basketball buzz. Trying to figure out why I wasn't intrigued earlier? Has my consistent Blackhawks viewing taken my eyes off of hoops? Or is it because my Salukis are providing me with nothing but heartburn in another season of underachievement? Whatever the case, an Illinois last-second win vs. Indiana, President Obama watching Georgetown/Duke, civil war between Kansas and Kansas State, and Northwestern battling Michigan State brought college basketball back in the spotlight. March Madness is right around the corner, and I'm starting to get excited.
Am I missing something by not watching "Jersey Shore?" Everyone seems to be talking about this show. I have not seen a minute of it. I was an original "Real World" fan. Followed the first seasons in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco ... has there been a better reality show character than Puck? So is this "Jersey Shore" thing something I should get into or avoid at all costs? Looking forward to any tips you may have.
So will we be "Lost" no more? I can't wait for the final season of "Lost" and having things explained a little better. I still have a feeling that not everything will be wrapped into a perfect bow -- even after the final episode.
Thought my favorite movie of 2009 was going to be George Clooney's "Up in the Air." That was until I saw "The Hurt Locker" this past weekend. Intense from beginning to end. Maybe it's because I don't get out much, but didn't know anything about one of the movie's stars, Jeremy Renner. His was as good of a performance as I've seen in a while.
Marc Silverman co-hosts "The Waddle & Silvy Show" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday on ESPN 1000.
Some contestants aren't even starters -- much less marquee players
January 21, 2010, 10:36 PM
By: Marc Silverman
For a time, it was can't miss TV.
No costumes, no props, no clock.
Just the best of the best in the NBA with the basketball, a lot of "hang time," and a thunderous dunk.
If you're my age or older, you probably remember watching the 1988 Saturday All-Star festivities at the Chicago Stadium. If you're not old enough, here's the YouTube link. Was this really 22 years ago now?
I was lucky enough to be sitting in the Mezzanine level behind one of baskets with my Grandfather.
MJ from the free throw line to win. (As big as a Jordan fan as I am, I must admit, Dominique won this event. Hey, we even stuffed the ballot boxes for the dunk contest in Chicago!)
In the 3-point shootout, Larry Bird was actually cheered by Chicagoans while shooting in his warmup top and game shorts, Bird lifted his arm in triumph, even before his final "money ball" went through the hoop to clinch the title.
What's my point, other than reminiscing?
LeBron James promised to turn this year's dunk contest back into can't-miss TV, but he recently backed out.
Instead, we get more Nate Robinson. (Wasn't he recently benched for shooting at his own hoop?) There's also DeMar DeRozan, Eric Gordon (isn't he a 3-point shooter?), Gerald Wallace and Shannon Brown. In 1988 I was witnessing Hall of Famers. Now, not only are these guys not NBA stars -- a couple don't even start for their team.
His idea to donate a lot of the prize money to Haiti was fantastic.
We want the funk, bring back the dunk!
Make it "must see" again.
James loves to be compared to MJ. Here's another chance. Michael never had dance offs, he had dunk offs.
Step up, LeBron. Dunk!
" While I'm fully on board with the Chicago Blackhawks, (every game is must-see) here's a big difference between Gary Bettman's NHL and David Stern's NBA. On Thursday night, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James faced off as the Los Angeles Lakers visited the Cleveland Cavaliers. Of course, it's put up on the marquee in lights as the big game on TNT for all to see.
On the same night, the best face each other in the NHL.Alex Ovechkin vs. Sidney Crosby. Pens vs. Caps. You can't watch it on TV if you don't have the "Center Ice" package. How does the NHL expect get more popular with the average sports fan if they won't broadcast its greatest talents when they go head-to-head? I have DirecTV and can't see games on Versus. Step up, Bettman. Ovechkin and Crosby and it's nowhere to be found. Step up, Bettman. And each year, some teams don't make it to the United Center. This year, the Pens don't play in Chicago. Step up, Bettman! Hockey has some great things going for it, but it's muffled by a league that doesn't know much about public relations.
" So in just a year and a half, Derrick Rose has the fourth highest selling jersey in the entire NBA. In that same time frame, Vinny Del Negro still hasn't learned how to pronounce Kirk Hinrich. Hey Vinny,, it's K-I-R-K, not K-U-R-T. Why can't he say it correctly?
" I will now only refer to D-Rose as Rose. I'm dropping the D until he earns it back by playing some defense.
" The Jim Harbaugh-Raiders story is a crazy one. If he doesn't go to Oakland, I'm putting the former Bears QB's name in the hopper for potential replacements for Lovie Smith after the 2010 season. My current short list is: 1. Bill Cowher 2. Jon Gruden 3. Tony Dungy as team President and Les Frazier as his coach 4. Jim Harbaugh 5. Mike Heimerdinger 6. Ron Rivera.
" If you love fantasy football, do yourself a favor next year. Sign up for a league that includes a postseason during the actual postseason. I'm in a 12-team league where five teams make the postseason. You keep your "playoff players" and redraft other players from the seven teams in the league that are eliminated. Two strategies: drafting players who you think are great and drafting players who you think will survive the longest. Who would've thought I'd get one game from Phillip Rivers? The five teams don't get eliminated round-by-round. Everyone plays during the four weeks of the postseason (Super Bowl included) and the high point total is your season champion.
I'm excited for the final season of "Lost" coming soon. I've made it to this point even after some frustrating plot lines. Can't say the same about "24." Am I the only one who just can't watch this show anymore? I was a diehard fan for the first few seasons. I remember Tony Kornheiser talking about it each week on his radio show and my girlfriend at the time enjoyed it, so I gave the first season a try on DVD. Shows don't have to be realistic to be enjoyed, but the "24" stories have become so stale. The important storylines in the beginning of the day eventually mean nothing. The bad guys in the beginning have bosses who are worse guys and then they have bosses who are the worst. Those really bad guys are usually corrupt government workers. Then there's the good guy-bad guy thing. They tease you all season about whether a character is really good or evil. Finally, Jack Bauer has saved the U.S. and the world so many times, but the government always doubts him in the end. "Get me Bauer now!" is uttered countless times, followed by him getting put in confinement. He'll eventually escape and save the world again. "24" was one of the most original shows when it first came out, but it couldn't be more frustrating now.
A laid back Carlos Zambrano thoughtfully explained that he's changed his ways. The mistakes that he has made are in the past, and he's ready to live up to the expectations that come with being an ace. Zambrano insists the 2010 version of him will be in better shape and he won't sweat the small stuff. It all sounded great, but I'll believe it when I see it.
Cubs starting pitcher Carlos Zambrano points to the sky with Silvy during a visit to the studio.
All that said, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Big Z. It was the first time I've talked with him at length in person. Many current and former Cubs have sworn that Zambrano is one of the best guys in the clubhouse--on the days he doesn't pitch. There's no doubt he still has that youthful exuberance. His eyes lit up when Waddle and I asked if we could treat him to a Starbucks. Grande cappuccino. Nothing extra.
"Cinnamon is for girls", Zambrano explained. By the way, ABC7 sportscaster Mark Giangreco enjoys a dash of cinnamon on his coffee every day.
Big Z pumped his fist and beamed when he heard highlights of his no-hitter from 2008, he danced to the music of Marcos Witt, and proudly showed us his now in-shape abs. Waddle and I would describe it as a "4-pack," but that's a definite improvement for Big Z. I know, we felt creepy asking.
Off the field, Zambrano has gotten into boxing to get into better shape. His skills have always been good in that area -- just ask Michael Barrett. Big Z loves his Playstation and still follows the Bulls like a rabid fan. He's expecting to see them at the United Center against the Wizards. As he left, Zambrano was happy to take a picture with me as we both pointed to the sky.
Zambrano is hosting a charity event for his foundation this Sunday evening at Fogo de Chao. For more information, go to CarlosZambrano38.com
My time in the offseason could not have been better with Zambrano. Now it's time for a good experience watching him pitch. Being great at times isn't good enough anymore, Z. Time to stay in shape, keep your mind right, and be the ace you're paid to be. Is anyone certain what they'll really get from Zambrano?
I cheered when Andre Dawson was signed by the Cubs in 1987. I was bowing with the other Bleacher Bums with every big home run that MVP season. I nearly cried watching him strikeout in several big moments on gimpy knees in the 1989 playoffs.
"The Hawk" is in the team picture of my favorite Cubs of my lifetime. Am I in the minority when I say that I don't really care what cap he wears on his plaque at the Baseball Hall of Fame? Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying to put the Expos cap on him. It just won't change the way I feel about Dawson as a player or about him finally getting into the hall. It's not like baseball makes him wear an Expos cap wherever he goes. How many of you who are stressed out about this decision will ever go to Cooperstown to see it? Dawson played 11 seasons in Montreal and was a true five-tool player then. Twenty-five home runs a year, 30 stolen bases a season. If the museum decides the Expos cap is the way to go, I won't lose sleep. The cap I want? A Cubs cap with "World Series Champions" written on it. That's all that matters to me.
What bothers me more about this story is that the Cubs reportedly will only retire Dawson's number if he goes to Cooperstown wearing the Cubs hat. He's either worthy or not. Don't bring politics into the equation. I personally believe Mark Grace deserves to get his number retired more than Dawson. You were awesome, Dawson. Just being in the Hall is enough to please this diehard Cubs fan.
Are the Bears conducting their search for coaches wearing clown shoes? Or are they writing their interview requests in crayon? Aren't you glad the McCaskeys chose to keep Ted Phillips, Jerry Angelo, and Lovie Smith? Trust them. Ha!
DePaul firing Jerry Wainright barely caused a ripple in the Chicago sports landscape. When I grew up, they were Chicago's basketball team. In the late '70s and early '80s, the best basketball in the city was played at the Rosemont Horizon, not the Chicago Stadium. I pretended I was Terry Cummings, Mark Aguirre, Rod Strickland, and Dallas Comegys when I played basketball. What Chicago kid now shoots hoops and dreams "3-2-1, it's good! Mac Koshwal wins it!"?
As a proud Southern Illinois alum, I was upset when the Salukis lost Bruce Weber and then Matt Painter. I don't have that same worry with Chris Lowery. I've always been a fan of the current SIU coach. We attended SIU at the same time. I covered him as a player. I've introduced him on recent SIU caravans. I cheered when he was given a big time contract extension. I just wonder how DePaul would sell a coach who hasn't taken his team to the tourney in three years. SIU is currently in another slump and may not even make the NIT. Will DePaul fans want a coach with one NIT appearance and zero NCAA appearances in the last three seasons?
I've declared a winner in the Late Night talk show war at NBC- -- David Letterman. I haven't watched Dave or Conan in weeks. I've never watched Leno. The latest controversy had me tuned into CBS for Letterman Wednesday and laughing out loud. He's been handed comedy gold for the next several weeks. For years, I was one of Letterman's biggest fans. Ironically, NBC has me rediscovering what makes him so good. Is this Dave's "Hugh Grant"? HBO has got to be happy too. Another "Late Shift" movie in the making. Can't wait to see who they pick to play Conan's hair.
Mike Martz scares me. He would not make the Bears offense the "Greatest Show" on Soldier Field's slop.
I don't want Lovie's "buddy system" on defense and now on offense. I don't want the man who has been fired three times in the last five years. I don't want another former Ram to fall down in Chicago.
Martz should've been the Bears offensive coordinator in 1999 when Dave McGinnis should've been hired as the Bears head coach. The past is for cowards and losers.
Give me that Filet O' Fish, I want Jeremy Bates and Jedd Fisch. And no, not because Jay Cutler wants them.
Cutler should have say in the coordinator hiring but only if it makes sense -- his guys make sense.
Bates has been schooled by the best. His father, Jim, is an NFL lifer, and he worked with Jon Gruden in Tampa, where he won a Super Bowl. In addition, Bates has also worked with Mike Shanahan and earned his trust as play caller. This year, Bates is an assistant head coach under USC coach Pete Carroll, where he groomed Matthew Barkley. All this and the "kid" is only 33 years old. And -- oh yeah -- Cutler's best success came under Bates.
Fisch now is the offensive coordinator at the University of Minnesota. He was groomed by Brian Billick for four seasons in Baltimore and coached Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal with the Broncos in 2008.
I've also been assured that these two don't coddle Cutler. As Steve Young told us, Cutler needs some tough love, much like Mike Holmgren and Steve Mariucci gave Brett Favre in his early years. Young called Cutler Lamborghini leaking oil. It's a fixable situation. Bates and Fisch remind me of young versions of Mariucci and Gruden in Green Bay.
Lovie can have "his" guy for defensive coordinator. On offense, it's time to "go fish" and grab Bates. And perhaps Gruden would like to work with him again in 2011.
A couple of other Bears nuggets: Charlie Weis was indeed interested in speaking to the Bears before accepting the Kansas City offensive coordinator job. The Bears did not show that interest back. Meantime, while Ted Phillips feels the heat from the media in various interviews, it's nothing compared to the hot seat he's on with the McCaskey family. A few of the McCaskey boys were none too pleased to hear during the news conference on Tuesday that Phillips considered ownership to only be Virginia and Michael. This family business has many conflicts at the moment. Smith and general manager Jerry Angelo aren't the only ones who could be out of work within a year. Keep your eye on Phillips' job. My sources tell me that could be re-evaluated sooner than Angelo's and Smith's.
I love the Super Bowl and conference championship weekend in the NFL, but these next two weekends, when the NFL Wildcard and Divisional playoffs are contested, are my absolute favorite on the sports calendar. Those four sports days are better than the first four days of the NCAA basketball tourney, but only by a hair. Here's who I like this weekend and I urge you to use the "Costanza philosophy" and pick the opposite way.
The three rematches will all be much different than the meaningless action last weekend. I'm most confident about Cincinnati. Still not crazy about their offense, but the Bengals' defense will stop the Jets running game and force quarterback Mark Sanchez into mistakes. Bengals cover.
Pats/Ravens is a tough one for me. No Wes Welker and a banged up Tom Brady have me conflicted. I still like New England to win, but I'm predicting Baltimore to keep it within a field goal.
I feel the same about Dallas/Philly. Close game here. I think the Cowboys save coach Wade Phillips' job and win a playoff game, but the Eagles hang tough and lose by a field goal.
Finally, to the "hated" Packers. Before the season started, I put $50 down on Green Bay to win the NFC at 11/1. That bet stays alive after Aaron Rodgers and crew win for the second straight week in Phoenix. Close game here too, but the Packers are the better, more well rounded team.
So to recap, I've got three close games with the Packers, Cowboys and Pats winning, while Cincy has little problem with the Jets.
Hey Vinny, when I said "D-Rose at the end of the game", I didn't mean for him to be inbounding the ball at the end of the game. And why can't Kirk Hinrich make a jump shot the last two-plus seasons?
For us diehard Bulls fans, the subpar year, combined with Vinny staying and management's handling of the situation, not only has us mad, but is making us lose interest. The Bulls have always been my No. 1 team, but I haven't gone out of my way to watch this team recently. Jerry? Pax? Gar? You're losing us.
Thumbs up to ESPNChicago.com writer Scott Powers for his state of Illinois college basketball rankings. My Salukis have never gotten much exposure in Chicago. I'm happy to read nuggets regarding SIU, ISU, and Bradley mixed in with the usual suspects.
Speaking of my Salukis, I have always liked SIU coach Chris Lowery, but he is dangerously following the Lovie Smith path. He was at the Sweet 16 a few years back but has really underachieved since getting his big contract. After six straight seasons of making the NCAA tourney under Bruce Weber, Matt Painter, and Lowery, the Salukis will probably make it three straight years of not making it to the dance. If Butler could stay on top through a few coaching changes, why couldn't SIU? Wednesday's loss to the University of Northern Iowa on ESPNU was an embarrassment.
I saw "Up in the Air" over the Holidays. Can you believe I went a full year without seeing a movie in the theatre? I give the Geroge Clooney movie 3 1/2 stars, but I don't believe it's "award worthy." One question: How much do you think American Airlines and Hilton Hotels paid for all of the publicity?
Mark Prior was Mr. Reliable during the 2003 season, and then -- poof -- he was gone.
I'm so proud to say that I spent every day of this decade working for ESPN 1000 covering my favorite teams. Plenty of interesting moments. Here are a few of the most memorable for me. A story from each of our five teams.
Mr. Automatic: Since MJ hung up the sneakers, the athlete I had the most confidence in was Mark Prior. It was only for a short time, but every fifth day in 2003, I knew Prior would dominate.
He was the reward for all the years of suffering, then -- poof -- he was gone.
It was while he was on the mound that my fellow Cubs fans and I were teased worse than we've ever been teased before.
I was hosting a gathering at my condo for Game 6 that postseason. Around the fifth inning, I went to the fridge to grab fresh beer for everyone. A good buzz going all the way around. What was that in the back behind the beer? An unopened bottle of champagne!
I allowed myself to daydream. Was I going to pour the bubbly all over my friends and myself when the Cubs clinched their first pennant since 1945? What about the couch and the hardwood floors?
Who cares, it's the Cubs and they're going to the World Series! Well, maybe I should just pop open the champagne and grab glasses. We could toast to a future World Series title.
Ah, that's no fun. I'll take the bottle out to the patio and shake it up out there.
Why did I allow myself to believe? We all know what happened later. Five outs away, and it was soon all over -- but over in the wrong way! The champagne was never opened. My dream yet to be fulfilled.
Roaches and handshakes: In 2005, Carmen DeFalco and I were hosting a show during the White Sox's dominant run through the postseason. I know, Cubs fans, it's bad enough that I shared my 2003 Cubs memory, then in the next story I talk about a trip to the World Series for the Sox. Sorry.
We did our show live from Houston for Games 3 and 4. The city had no hotel rooms available. Many left New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and relocated in Houston. We were booked at a roadside motel.
As I sat on a dirty, single bed searching for ESPN on the TV, two roaches scurried by my feet. Just as it happened, my cell phone rang. It was DeFalco. He starts yelling, "There are roaches in my room!" We quickly grabbed our bags and checked out.
We thumbed through the Yellow Pages calling the chain hotels in the city. We came to the Residence Inn next door to Reliant Stadium. It was after midnight, and we caught a break. The guy who was working the front desk was a Chicago transplant and listened to the "Silvy and Carmen" show every day. He had one opening, a two-bedroom duplex, and it was ours.
I forget his name but will forever be grateful. After the 14-inning marathon ended by Geoff Blum, and the 1-0 Game 4 victory, Carmen and other Sox fans in our section were jumping for joy and sharing hugs. Chicago's baseball drought was over, at least on the South Side.
As a Cubs fan, I wasn't cheering. Deep down, I was happy for my good friends. I offered Carmen a handshake and a mumbled 'Congrats.' Brooks Boyer, Sox VP of marketing, got us into the team hotel party. Carm got to take a picture with the trophy. I got to drink the free booze. I think he got the better end of the deal. Not my team, but it was Chicago sports history -- and a few days I'll never forget.
My favorite team of the decade: I'd say 99 out of 100 Bears fans would select the 2006 team as their favorite. I'm going contrarian. The 2001 team, despite getting dunked by Donovan McNabb in the playoffs, is my favorite in the past 10 years.
Nobody knew what we were in store for after the Bears got dominated by Baltimore in the opener. After that, this underrated team won 13 of its next 15.
Will you ever forget Mike Brown's interception returns for TDs in back-to-back games against the 49ers and Browns -- both in OT. What are the chances?
The day that Bears season ended was one of the worst in Chicago sports history. The Bears lose; the old Soldier Field closes; and Michael Jordan returns to Chicago wearing a Wizards uniform. Despite all of this, give me the 2001 Bears season over any other this decade.
Meet the grandparents: It was late spring 2008, and I really did like the girl I was dating. So much so that I elected to meet her grandparents on the same night as the NBA's draft lottery.
Her grandfather wanted broasted chicken, so we went to Marcello's Father and Son. Good stuff. Not as good as dessert.
The girlfriend promised I could break away from dinner to watch. It would be quick and painless because the Bulls had virtually no chance of getting into the top three. The relationship was still fairly new, and she was about to get introduced to a crazed Bulls fan.
When the NBA announced that the ninth pick went to Charlotte, I started my Neil Funk impersonation. "Ka-ka-ka-BOOM!" My girlfriend and the rest of the bar had no clue why I was so excited. I explained that by not hearing the Bulls' name at No. 9, we knew they were assured of getting a top-three pick.
David Dow/NBAE/Getty Images
The Bulls' luck in landing Derrick Rose with the No. 1 pick was worth celebrating.
After No. 3 went to Minnesota, I let out a Marv Albert "YES!" I knew we were getting either Derrick Rose or Michael Beasley. Then, with the final announcement that the Bulls were No. 1, her family quickly left the restaurant.
Scotch was on me for whoever was staying! D-Rose was coming home.
As great as it was, it's sad that this was the best Bulls moment of the decade. The lottery. I'll accept the Bulls' sweep over the Heat as a close second. Now can we pair him with Dwyane Wade? If that happens, I'll be buying the scotch again!
The roar: If you grew up in Chicago, you know about "the roar."
There was nothing like the Chicago Stadium. The climb up the stairs to the first or second balconies. The seats right above the court or the ice. You didn't just hear the roar, you felt it. As the Blackhawks kept showing promise last season, I eased my way back to the UC. A great environment.
The Hawks were a talented, young team that I still didn't know a lot about. My reorientation to the Hawks came in Game 1 of the postseason. This was different from any of the six or seven regular-season games I attended.
The anthem was the anthem. Every hit -- you heard the roar. Every save -- the roar. Every goal -- the roar.
All that said, I was still just attending a fun event, not a game where I was living and dying with the action. That changed 12 seconds into overtime.
John McDonough could not have scripted it better. Marty Havlat's goal sent the capacity crowd into a frenzy. Three of my friends and I formed a jumping group hug that would've made the Golden Girls proud.
Hockey was back in Chicago. It was back in the mainstream. It was now something I cared about. I'll never forget this moment of the decade. I became a kid again, finding something new I enjoyed. I believe the first great moment of the new decade will be the Stanley Cup's return to Chicago.
Now a couple of thoughts on the current state of Chicago sports:
Do we have to?
I hear this a lot: Lovie took the '06 Bears to the Super Bowl, doesn't he deserve more time?
The answer is no, this is the NFL. A few examples. After going 13-3 and winning a playoff game in 2005, Mike Shanahan went 24-24 over the next three years. Going .500 wasn't enough for Denver, so he was dismissed. And Shanahan didn't just go to Super Bowls, he won them.
Brian Billick also won a title. In his last three seasons in Baltimore, Billick went 24-24, then was canned.
Super Bowl-winning coaches are fired after the losses equal the wins in a three-year span. If they can get fired, why is it unfair for Lovie to be let go at 21-25 currently and probably on his way to 22-26? Speaking of that record, Jon Gruden went 22-26 in his last three years in Tampa. He was fired, and he was a better coach than Lovie. This is a league trend. Mediocrity should not be accepted. Lovie, you have company.
Congrats to the Bulls for beating a good Hawks team Saturday. If you watched the game, you were probably a bit frustrated even in victory. My "D-Rose at the end of the game" quote has taken on a life of its own, and we joke about it often. But in this game, it was obvious that Vinny Del Negro still doesn't know how to get his best player the ball in the biggest moments of the game.
Rose was red-hot Saturday. Bulls ball in a tie game with 18 seconds left and the shot clock off. Bulls couldn't run a play to get Rose free, timeout. Ten seconds left, same thing. Deng shoots a bad fadeaway at the buzzer -- clank -- overtime.
Forty seconds left in OT, Bulls protecting a one-point lead. Rose didn't even touch the ball on this possession. This time, Deng commits an offensive foul. Luckily, Joe Johnson missed a shot on the other end, but the Hawks' best player at least was the man who got the ball.
Not the case with Vinny. Can we run some screens? Run Rose around the court, not just in a 15-foot area? A win despite a poorly coached stretch drive. Like Bears fans, Bulls fans should not accept mediocrity.
Merry Christmas and happy holidays to everyone. May all your sports dreams come true in 2010. Through the ups and downs, thanks for listening and reading.