In an attempt to appeal to the masses of late the focus of this space has been eschewed away from the sporting realm however there has been a lot happening that needs to be addressed.  Allow me to remedy that…

On the NBA lockout… F-ing idiots.

On the Bulls in 2012… I think the Bulls are going to be a lot like the Bears this year in that they’ll gain from their continuity coming in off a short training camp with what inevitably will be the same cast of characters.  I think Derrick Rose will be Derrick Rose only a little better than last year and Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah, and Luol Deng will be about what we expect as well.  Adding a shooting guard that can score on his own and ideally hit from outside will be a must to return to the Eastern Conference championship.  The Bulls have a $5 million dollar mid-level exception that they can throw at someone they deem worthy but due to the salary cap restrictions that’s about all they have to play with.  A lot of other teams have a lot more money than that to throw around.  It’s up to John Paxon and Gar Foreman to sell the opportunity to play with the youngest MVP in league history and be part of the team that topples the Heat in the East.  With Caron Butler signing in Los Angeles today, Jason Richardson your table is waiting. 

For the record I am on board with any offer the Bulls wish to make to pry Dwight Howard away from Orlando.  Play the take any two or three players you wish not named Derrick Rose and we’ll call it a deal card that they’ve reportedly offered.  As the league becomes a small collection of packs of superstars, being the team with a bunch of good chemistry guys only will get you so far.  Teaming the best point guard and the best center in the league (who are both under 25 by the way) is the way that you build a proper dynasty in this day and age.  Be bold GarPax and great forces will come to your aid…

On NHL realignment… For those who don’t know, the NHL opted to tear up their two conference alignment and create four conferences of seven or eight regional rivals in order to balance the schedule and keep travel within reason.  As it stands today teams in Detroit and Columbus reside in the Eastern time zone but fall into the NHL’s Western division.  This leads to the vast majority of their road games starting anywhere from 8-10pm in their respective markets leaving many a young fan unable to stay up and watch their favorite team.  Waaaaaaa… right?  The change doesn’t affect the Hawks as much but the biggest difference will come in the playoffs.  Within these 7 or 8 team conferences, at the end of the year the top four teams will play almost like a bracket in March Madness to come out of the conference and play the winners of the other conferences for the Stanley Cup.  What this translates to is the Hawks-Red Wings rivalry is going to heat up beyond anything we’ve known to date as the odds would have them playing each other more often than not in one of the first two rounds of the playoffs.  The con however is that budding rivalries like those the Hawks have built with the Sharks and Canucks will simmer down as the chance that they meet in the post season will diminish as it will not even be possible unless both teams essentially make it to the third round.  Also, much like the BSC in college football, get ready for all sorts of complaining when the fifth best team in one conference has a better record than the third best team in another but doesn’t make the playoffs.  Unless there’s something I’m not seeing here the whole thing sounds like a big waste of time and effort on all parts.  I understand Detroit and Columbus’ complaints with the current system but is it really that bad that they need to blow up the structure for everyone else as well?  Couldn’t they just add the Winnipeg franchise to the Hawks division and move Columbus to the Southeast today and everyone goes on their merry way?

On the Hawks in general… I like this Hawks team and feel they will do well this year.  They need to get a little nastier as I saw a stat the other day that they’re last in the NHL in hits but it’s still early.  Anyone missing Troy Brouwer yet?  Me neither.  I think before the deadline the Hawks pickup either one more solid defenseman or a winger that can grind and score (think Shane Doan in Phoenix) and they’ll be off and running into the playoffs.  My biggest knock on the team to date is that there’s no controversy.  They’re the most talented team to take the ice each night and they score goals in buckets.  They have caps space to spare and all sorts of tradeable assets in the minors.  Wake me around the trade deadline as I’ll be interested to see what Stan has in store but otherwise they just need to keep the ship pointed towards the second star to the right and then straight on till morning.

On the White Sox… What are you thinking?  Sergio Santos is not the piece you move right now while trying to cut salary.  Nothing the Sox have done since trading Aaron Rowand for Jim Thome in 2006 has made sense to me.  Glad I’m not one of their fans that doesn’t go to the ballpark.  It’s the ultimate catch-22 of fandom when the Sox fans take pride in not going to games unless the team is good, but the team can’t get or stay good in acquiring or retaining their players without revenue generated by ticket sales.  I will say that as a fan from the other side of town I always appreciated the work of Mark Buehrle and know that he will be missed.

On the Cubs… As written ad nauseum  in this space I’m a believer in all things Theo.  It’s a learning curve as a fan to not get to caught up in wanting to sign the big name free agents every winter though.  It’s like a junkie trying to get off smack in that it’s so easy to talk yourself into spending other people’s $200 million dollars on the Pujols and Reyes’ of the world.  I know what Theo and Jed are doing is the right way to build an organization but that doesn’t make it the fun way to do it.  I’m very interested to see how these next few weeks, let alone this next year play out as it should prove to be Organization Building 101.  I know there will be slip ups along the way (I’m not overly wowed by Ian Stewart at the moment) but the model seems to be to collect as many high upside kids as you can, building a pool of assets which then allows for options in trades and internal development going forward.  It makes sense but if I’m going to be forcing myself to watch the MLB Network (and Kevin Millar by proxy) and reading www.mlbtraderumors.com four times a day, then I want them talking about my team at least, and the way that happens is by your team making the big signings.  Again, it’s not right but it is fun.

For instance, why can’t the Cubs sign this guy?

He probably stinks at the game as a whole but his skill set translates to the YouTube generation (literally).

On the Bears… Things aren’t looking so good any more are they Bears fans?  I’m the first to admit when I’m wrong, and I’m willing to give Caleb one more chance this weekend, but he might just stink plain and simple.  I’d like to give him the benefit of the doubt but there were times against the Chiefs last week where it looked like he was genuinely trying to figure out where the wide receivers were headed on any given play.  I don’t know if he doesn’t know the offense or if he’s just having trouble with the defense but he just looks lost out there.  The defense can’t pitch shutouts every week and losing Matt Forte hurt the team about as much as it hurt his leverage in contact negotiations.  

On top of everything else the Bears are taking on Jesus and his Disciples this weekend in the altitude and I think it’s too much for our Monsters of the Midway to handle.  Call it Broncos 17-Bears 14 and just like that (snap) the season is over.  There’s still a punchers chance the Bears stay in it because all these losses are coming against AFC opponents and the other NFC wildcard teams are crapping the bed just like the Bears, but what good is a road loss on the first weekend of the playoffs?  It’s really unfortunate that injuries can bring a team to its knees like this but that’s the way the NFL works.  There’s no one to blame as no team is built to lose its start quarterback, all-pro running back, and two-fifths of its line and be expected to survive.  C’est la vie.

Prediction: Broncos 17 – Bears 14

Bears Record: 7-5

Chi-Guy Record: 6-6