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Archive for October, 2007

Bears Can Win On National TV

Posted by sportsmaven on October 8, 2007

22After the Dallas Cowboys160167 game a couple of weeks ago, I began to doubt whether or not the Chicago Bears 161168had a jinx of their own. It seems as though the Bears can’t win a game on national television. The Bears record on Monday Night Football has been an atrocious 18-32 going into the 2007 season. Their record on Sunday Night Football has been a little better, 2-1 going into last night’s game with the undefeated Green Bay Packers162169.

Bears Beat Packers 27-20

(AP Photo/Morry Gash)

With the Cubs death spiral in the playoffs, as well as the 1-3 start for the Bears, going into last night’s game, many thought it would be a long winter for sports in Chicago. After the first two drives, it was going to be a REALLY long winter, as the Bears looked about as bad as you could look. But they were still in the game, trailing only 7-0 at the end of the first quarter and 17-7 going into halftime. The Packers somehow couldn’t get past the Bears, keeping them in the game with turnovers, penalties, and mistakes.

ESPN made some references to airing Lovie Smith’s halftime speech to the Bears, but it never made any mention of it after that teaser and I fell asleep waiting for it, so I never got to see it, but whatever he said, it must have worked, as the Bears finally showed up in the second half, played good football, and won the game 27-20.170

I have to admit that the Bears didn’t look very dominant in any phase of the game last night. They looked over-matched both offensively and defensively in the first half. The defense came out much tougher in the second half and the offense did just enough to capitalize on sloppy play by the Packers, but I felt that the the outcome wasn’t so much a Bears victory as it was a Packers loss. I am still not convinced that the offense is much better than it was. Bears QB Brian Griese171 had a good game and the Bears TE had great games. (Finally — TE Greg Olsen172 gets involved and it pays off!)

The Bears defense needs some work, as they let the Packers run on them all night. They did a great job of picking it up in the second half, but I have yet to see the Bears play a complete game this season and we are entering week 6. I am optimistic that the Bears are moving in the right direction and the Packers win was the biggest of the season. We have the Minnesota Vikings173 at home this week and we need to make this game our next make or break game of the week. At 2-3 we are still 2 games behind the Packers and need to close ground every week now. Like it or not, every divisional game is a must-win, that’s the situation we’re in.2

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Chicago Cubs Get Swept Out of 2007 Playoffs

Posted by sportsmaven on October 8, 2007

222Somewhere, somehow, Lou Piniella is sitting back, scratching his head, wondering if it was the goat after all. The Chicago Cubs160168 were ushered out of the playoffs on Saturday night with a resounding thud, as they lost Game 3 to the Arizona Diamondbacks161169, 5-1, sealing their fate once again, bringing the championship drought to 99+ years and counting. Fate was sealed when Cubs P Rich Hill’s 162170first pitch of the game to Diamondbacks CF Chris Young163171 was golfed into the left field bleachers. Four double plays later, the Cubs were left with memories of 2007 and the “Wait ‘Til Next Year” cry.

Cubs Lose To

(AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

Watching this series, I was totally shocked at how the Cubs did absolutely nothing to merit winning even one game. Their defense was flawless in the series, otherwise, offensively, they were a complete no-show. The Cubs big 3 hitters had exactly 0 RBI. Outside of Carlos Zambrano, Cubs starting pitching was not very good. I liked how Cubs C Geovanny Soto172 competed, cementing his position as Cubs starting catcher for next season.

Outside of a nice run in June/July, the Cubs season was woefully short on good, sound, fundamental baseball. They didn’t do the little things to win games on a consistent basis. They didn’t do things like bunt very well, advance baserunners, didn’t show good discipline at the plate, run the bases well, or any of the other little things that a team like the Arizona Diamondbacks did to win the NLDS.

This has got to change for 2008 if the Cubs plan on ending the championship drought. When you do the little things, all of a sudden breaks start going your way. You get a couple more calls, you work yourself out of jams, the big hit gets you runs. My big wish for the 2008 Cubs is that their baseball IQ triples, that they take care of the little things. Oh, a closer and a power hitting RF wouldn’t hurt either.

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Sportsmaven Invades Cincinnati

Posted by sportsmaven on October 8, 2007

222The plans for a road trip to Cincinnati were in full force on Friday night, even though the Cubs clinched a playoff berth by the combination of beating the Cincinnati Reds and a loss by the Milwaukee Brewers to the San Diego Padres. Saturday morning we packed ourselves into the car at 6am and made the trek to The Queen City from our north suburban Chicago home. Along the way, we encountered tons of screaming Cubs fans, who apparently had the same idea we had. For 4 1/2 hours, we dodged through the traffic of crazies so we could get to Cincinnati before they did. We finally rolled into the city and parked our car right outside the stadium and made our way to the ticket window, asking for the best seats available. For $65 , we got tickets in their Scouts Alley section, about 10 rows behind home plate, very nice seats indeed.

After being in the new Busch Stadium in St. Louis 2 weeks prior, my first impressions of The Great American Ballpark was that is was not nearly as nice. The park is on the Ohio River, with the back facing the river, but the very first thing I noticed was that the back of the park was closed — no view of the river. The park also had a sterile, cold feeling about it. It didn’t feel like the warm, friendly, inviting Midwestern ballpark that Busch Stadium was in St. Louis. Needless to say, I was quite disappointed. We enjoyed the game, saw Jerry Krause scouting the Cubs for the New Your Mets, had a wonderful server named Bernie, who kept us refreshed with cool drinks and some good ballpark food, and Rich Hill took a no-hitter into the 6th inning and pitched well. The Cubs won, the Reds fans were friendly, and the weather was tremendous.

As we made our way back to Chicago that evening (yes, we did this trip in a single day), my thoughts drifted back to Wrigley Field, the start of the NLDS, and the fact that my urge to go to Cincinnati was finally filled. I don’t think I would go back to that park again, (or Cincinnati for that matter) as I just didn’t find it compelling enough to make a repeat visit. Let the playoffs begin, thankfully, not in Cincinnati.

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