I did this bit just a few weeks ago but some things have changed and some things have not.  I don’t much feel up to writing whole posts about any of the blurbs below so I’m just going to put them out there; if you like it you can take it, and if you don’t you can send it right back.

The Cubs

I am a huge fan of the Anthony Rizzo extension.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it never hurts to be the smart team.  Locking up your young cheap talent early, to long term team friendly deals is the way good baseball clubs do business.  Tampa Bay has made the practices famous in tying down Evan Longoria and Matt Moore to multi-year deals before their official big league cherry had been popped, but the trend began with the 90s Indians.  Even the White Sox got into the act with Chris Sale’s five year $32.5 million dollar deal back in March. 

If Anthony Rizzo does not get one iota better as a player he is well worth the $5.85M average salary over the next seven years.  If he were to get worse for any reason, the Cubs front office would have no issue pedaling him to another team who thinks they could get him back on track given the fact that there is not a no-trade clause involved in the deal. 

Fortunately for Cubs fans I don’t think Rizzo is anywhere close to reaching his potential.  We’re talking about a 23 year old left handed slugger who’s high on character and leadership and low on the distractions that tend to derail promising young careers.  We’re looking conservatively at a very good, if not quite gold glove caliber first baseman who will hit 25+ homeruns and collect over 100 RBI year in year out over the life of this deal.  He’s a cornerstone that the organization can build around who will be a positive influence on the influx of youth that will be streaming up to the big club in the years to come.  Me likey…

As for the team, I think tonight 9-4 drubbing by Colorado provided a nice bucket of ice water over the recently rekindled enthusiasm from the fanbase and the media.  Remember Cubs fans, it’s important that they stink one more year in order to collect another high draft pick and a bigger international pool signing allotment (the worse your team the more money you can spend on international free agents as of last year – the Cubs are the front runners for the top two international players this summer FYI).  While progress is being made the best case scenario is that the team competes in every game but loses by a single run more often than not for the remainder of the summer.

The Bears

I want to go on record as saying that I was pretty vehemently opposed to the Kyle Long signing when it happened.  I wanted that one last offensive weapon in Tyler Eifert - who went with the very next pick to Cincinnati -but what’s done is done at this point.  I will also admit that I’ve liked a lot of what I’ve heard about Long since the draft as well.  We can only hope Phil Emery and his crew know something the draft pundits don’t as the path they’re on is going to bear out the truth pretty quickly one way or another.  The good thing about a front office who thinks outside the box is that their against the grain moves (i.e. drafting McClellin and Long) either prove to be insightful or a complete bust in pretty short order.  I agree with the concept of drafting athletes in today’s faster and more spread out NFL, however I’m still a big fan of college production being a key factor in the decision making process.  Guys either can get the job done or they can’t.  I’ll take the guy that’s proven that he can suceed at the highest levels available to him over the guy who people project could grow into that ability nine times out of ten.  Time will tell.

I’d like to go one the record as well that I like the use of the acquired 7th round draft pick on Washington State’s Marquess Wilson.  The kid got it done against PAC-10 competition during his freshman and sophomore seasons when he was the only threat on his Washington State offense.  And in reality, is it that far fetched to believe Mike Leach and his coaching staff really are a collection of assholes who packed up their circus and moved it to Pullman, WA after getting booted from Texas Tech?  That’s like if a player complained about something Mike Rice (Rutger’s disgraced men’s basketball coach) does a few years from now, assuming he gets another head coaching gig eventually.  I’m giving the kid the benefit of the doubt here.  If I had to guess I bet the whole team hated the coaching staff and he was the only one who stood up and said something immediately making him the martyr.

What I don’t understand is the logic Gabe Carimi is applying to not joining the team for OTAs this week.  There’s a new coaching staff in town and the offensive line is in flux.  When the team spends a 1st round pick on a player at your position, but he’s unable to attend practice just yet due to NFL rules, you do everything in power to put your best foot forward.  If there’s an opportunity to make a good impression and claim one of the spots on the line heading into training camp you do it.  No questions asked.  The Bear Jew is getting some bad advice or following some shoddy logic right now.  No amount of training, regardless of the quality, is going to make up for the PR storm he’s creating for himself right now.  Poor form Gabe.

The Bulls

Much like The Sopranos, it’s over Bulls fans, it’s time to get a new show.  I kept telling youI kept telling youI kept telling you…  The best thing that can happen now is the team plays hard tonight in Miami, forcing a game 6 is not out of the question, and they go out with their heads held high.  It’s impossible for anyone who’s been paying attention to not have gained respect for this cast of misfit toys these past few weeks.  Marquis Teague and Jimmy Butler have gotten valuable playoff experience and next year’s team will be better for it.  It’s been a good run but it’s time for the Bulls to collect themselves as an organization and start making plans for next October.

The Blackhawks

I’m audibly psyched for this series with the Red Wings to begin.  I’ll write plenty more about it in the days to come (I smell more live blogs cooking) but I do want to make two quick points. 

#1 – I have no idea why Coach Q is choosing now to play mind games with Viktor Stalberg and the team.  Don’t get too pretty here Joel.  Stick with what’s worked to get you the #1 overall seed in the tournament.  Moving Bolland down to the 3rd line is the right play at this point but to say that an unproven Ben Smith or an unreliable Daniel Carcillo gives you a better chance to win than Stalberg does at this point is just wrong.  Also, don’t mess with the psyche of the 20 year old man-child Brandon Saad.  Call him into the principal’s office and let him know that you’re looking for more from him going forward, but don’t put him on the 5th line in an open to the public practice during a slow news cycle.  It’s unneeded stress that can only do more harm than good.

#2 – The playoffs are breaking perfectly for the Hawks right now.  They basically got to sleep walk through Minnesota in five games without sustaining the bumps and bruises that are being accumulated in other series by any future opponents.  While Detroit will be a more worthy foe (I’m picking the Hawks in 6) it will be a series built on skill & speed rather than scratches and claws.  Detroit plays the same puck possession game the Hawks do so the physical nature of the games will be as low as any potential series that lies ahead.  The playoffs are a true grind and the Hawks have lucked out by delaying the physical punishment aspect that’s usually associated with spring and summer hockey for literally the first half of their potential four round journey.  Let’s hope they take advantage.