Moon: Live blogging from Saints-Seahawks

Moon: Live blogging from Saints-Seahawks

Saturday, Jan. 8, 2011
Updated at 7:03 PM
By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

If the Green Bay Packers defeat the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday night, which I expect them to, the Bears will be playing the new Americas Team.

Americans love a no-chance underdog and there never has been an underdog given less of a chance than the Seattle Seahawks a 10-12 point dog in their own building, one of the most difficult venues for a visitor in the entire NFL.

The team that was being given short shrift to the point of calls starting for an overhaul of the playoff seeding drilled the defending Super Bowl champions by a 41-36 count. Perfect.

And anyone who thinks the Bears would prefer to play the Seattle Seahawks from among the remaining playoff teams needs to take a long, hard look. The Bears likely wouldnt give the Seahawks the kind of play-calling gifts that Mike Martz gave them in Seattles regular-season win (45 pass plays, 12 running plays) but there are no byes in the playoffs once you get past the actual bye week.

The Bears would draw Philadelphia next Sunday if the Eagles get past the Packers. That will not be any more difficult than the Seattle Seahawks would be.

How could this be happening to New Orleans? By the Seattle Seahawks?

The Saints may come back with a Drew Brees rally from a two-touchdown deficit, but understand why this sort of thing can happen.

Ill illustrate:

Some years ago I worked covering Arlington Park Racetrack and that included the Arlington Million. What I noticed at one point was the number of winners and high finishers that were odds longshots. I asked a prominent trainer why this happened so frequently.

His answer applied to this years NFL playoffs. He told me that there were no bad horses in the field. There were very good ones, even some great ones, but you werent in this field if you were a gluepot.

The Seattle Seahawks may have suffered each of their nine losses by at least 15 points. But they also defeated the Bears and San Diego Chargers, two teams with winning records. In other words, they were not and arent, as the New Orleans Saints found out as Seattle was outscoring them 27-3 after the early Saints lead, gluepots.

Seattle doesnt appear to be in the spirit of this whole playoff thing, dontcha think? The Seahawks dont deserve a home playoff game, for one thing.ooops.

And special teams that handed New Orleans a gift with an out-of-bounds kickoff to start the game has nailed Saints kickoff returners three times inside the New Orleans 20. And suddenly New Orleans is close to taking a standing eight count.

In a game that is so influenced by turnovers, Seattle kicking off out of bounds to give the Saints a short field at the New Orleans 40 was a virtual turnover to start the game. Then the Seahawks gave New Orleans another gift on an interception that started the Saints offense at the Seattle 35.

The Seahawks holding New Orleans to a field goal after the OB kickoff was a stop. But New Orleans turned the mishandled passinterception into a touchdown, meaning the Saints basically have 10 points off turnovers in less than 9 minutes.

Joe Maddon keeping thoughts on Cubs’ playoff rotation to himself

Joe Maddon keeping thoughts on Cubs’ playoff rotation to himself

CINCINNATI – After Cincinnati Reds manager Bryan Price dropped 77 F-bombs on reporters during an epic rant that went viral last year, Joe Maddon explained his dealing-with-the-media philosophy by saying: “At the end of the day, we’re not trying to conceal weaponry being sold to Iran.”

Maddon’s had a clear understanding of how the Cubs want to align their playoff rotation for about a week now, but the manager who will thoughtfully answer just about any misinformed or off-the-wall question doesn’t want to reveal those plans yet.  

“We have an idea of what we want to do,” Maddon said Friday at Great American Ball Park. “But we haven’t had that final conversation with Theo (Epstein) and Jed (Hoyer) and everybody else (in the front office) and all of our coaches.

“What I like to do under these circumstances is talk to the players first before they have to read about it in the newspaper.”

Do the pitchers already know?

“They’re not stupid,” Maddon said.

That type of scenario sparked Price’s meltdown last April, when it looked like one of Maddon’s former players – they worked together in 1985 and 1986 in Midland, Texas, at a Double-A affiliate for the California Angels – could get fired midseason. Price survived 98 losses, and even with the team heading toward another last-place finish this season, the Reds announced a one-year contract extension with a club option for 2018 before Friday’s game against the Cubs.   

Where the manager’s hot seat used to be the dominant storyline around this team at this time of year, the Cubs have now lined up Jon Lester (19-4, 2.28 ERA) and Kyle Hendricks (16-8, 1.99 ERA) for Games 161 and 162 this weekend, giving them two leading Cy Young Award candidates for the front of their playoff rotation.

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Maddon indicated the opponent – whoever emerges from the three-team battle among the New York Mets, San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals and wins the National League wild-card game – won’t change how the Cubs set their pitching matchups.

In theory, the Cubs can also rearrange Jake Arrieta (18-8, 3.10 ERA) and John Lackey (11-8, 3.35 ERA) in a different order for Games 3 and 4, but it sounds like the brass has already made that decision, whatever it is. 

“You could if you wanted to, but I don’t anticipate that,” Maddon said. “Again, I want to make sure before we make that announcement.”

However it shakes out, Arrieta and Lackey will have to wait almost two full weeks from their last regular-season start until their first playoff action on Oct. 10-11, on the road, in a best-of-five series where anything can happen.   

“That’s always been the major complaint I’ve heard,” Maddon said. “It’s just up to us to handle it properly. Now, of course, it may be difficult or rusty or whatever you want to call it. I don’t know. And then again, the rest might just do somebody really good. It just depends on the individual. These are the kind of things that are kind of outside of your control.

“You do your best in order to meet the challenge. That’s it. And you don’t make excuses. You don’t cry about it. You just do it, because, in advance, you know this is how it is set up.

“Otherwise, there’s nothing you can do about it, man.”

The Cubs have first-division problems, avoiding the major arm injuries that decimated the Mets. The Giants would have to burn a Madison Bumgarner start in the one-game playoff. The Cardinals are in this precarious position because their rotation has been so inconsistent.

“We are where we are because of our starters,” Arrieta said. “Our offense has been, obviously, spectacular, (but) we’ve all pitched really well throughout the year. I think we’re in a situation where we should be able to enjoy that for a little while.

“We’ll be ready for the first round.”

White Sox infielder Tyler Saladino sidelined by herniated disc

White Sox infielder Tyler Saladino sidelined by herniated disc

Tyler Saladino has reached the point where it’s significantly easier for him to find comfortable positions for his herniated disc.

The White Sox infielder joked on Friday that his dugout seat was cozy enough that he might just idle for a few days. But before he returned home earlier this week and received an epidural, the second-year player experienced several days of excruciating pain.

Saladino — who won’t play again this season — said he received the shot on Monday and it has helped immensely with a problem he has experienced occasionally this season, this instance being the most painful.

“It was kind of crippling for a little bit,” Saladino said. “Those first few days, I really was out of commission. I kind of was just trying to find a comfortable spot and stay there. Standing up, it would catch. It was pretty painful. That’s how I know it was a little bit more. That’s why I went and got that shot to try to let the medicine get there right away. It has been working and helping a lot.”

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Saladino’s stay in Chicago is open-ended until he feels good enough to fly back to San Diego for the offseason. He’s set for another doctor appointment soon and is optimistic based on this week’s improvement. Saladino, who is hitting .282/.315/.409 with eight home runs and 38 RBIs, hasn’t played since Sept. 21. He injured himself two days later in Cleveland before the Sept. 23 contest and hasn’t been right since.

The injury has provided a disappointing end to an enjoyable season in which Saladino showed improvement at the plate (his OPS is up 122 points from 2015).

“It was a lot of fun to be out there with the guys,” Saladino said. “The whole season was a roller coaster for everybody around here. The whole approach we’ve had all year of grinding every game was its own. They’re still doing a really good job right now. Kind of stinks to not, I don’t care, as long as I can play and even pinch run I would be stoked to be with the guys. But at this point, the back thing, you have to take care of it.”