Random News: Annoying 'Madness' personalities

Random News: Annoying 'Madness' personalities

Tuesday, March, 1, 2011
9:33 a.m.

By Joe Collins
CSNChicago.com

I am beyond all help when it comes to playing Words With Friends on my iPhone. I am a junkie. The game is taking over every second of my free time. Sometimes Ill have 10 games going on at once. Its sad. If you are unfamiliar with Words With Friends, it is a Scrabble-like game where you get seven lettered tiles (as does your opponent) and you make words based on the letters given and build off each other. Its incredibly addictive.

However, as with most things in life, there are certain 'W-W-F' annoyances you have to deal with. For example, you need the CIA to track certain opponents. Theyll make a move and then fall off the face of the earth for five days. Id start checking dumpsters looking for these people, but Im not sure I care that much. Another annoyance: you might end up getting paired with an intellectual snob who plays words like coz, qi, ag and aa. Yes, according to Words With Friends, aa is a word. I think theres a joke there but Im not going to touch it. Anyway, you take the good with the bad. 98 of the action is fun but you have to put up with the occasional tool every now and then.

March Madness is kind of the same way.

In a few weeks, your family, office or social network of choice will be distributing NCAA tournament brackets. For the sports fan, it might as well be your birthday, New Years Eve, and any Friday afternoon all wrapped into one shining moment. We love the promise and the potential of a clean bracket sheet. We think that we can predict who the next George Mason or Butler will be. Heck, I even likened my wedding invitation list to the NCAA selection committee. Even the passive fans get caught up in the excitement. The office water cooler talk actually shifts momentarily from the weather to the crazy upset that happened the night before. Its an exciting time. And your bracket is never in shambles until the team you picked to win it all goes down in defeat. Theres always hope.

But even Bracket Nation has its share of troublemakers. March Madness is, and will always be, one of the greatest events in sports. But there are five types of people in our NCAA pool that we would rather have eliminated:

The Guy With 20 Brackets

Ugh. It's overkill. This guy is so wrong on so many levels (both literally and figuratively...and we hope he's 0-for-20 when the tournament's over). The 20 bracket guy will never feel bad about losing his final four on his family pool, you know--the one through his dads cousins sons office, because he has 19 others to fall back on. And hell make light of the fact that, although he is getting torched in eight other brackets, he is still in 1,381st place on some national pool with a 100,000 grand prize payout. This guy ends every game with, Dude I called that one! Its not all doom and gloom though, because we all know that the 20 Bracket Guy never wins. And he has to put a third mortgage on the house or sell a kidney or two come April to break even.

The Bracket Novice

This sports gumshoe has Texas Southern, Cincinnati, Vermont and Long Beach State in the Final Four. They also have some interesting upsets, like Kansas losing to McNeese Statein the regional semifinal. Also noted, is their distaste for Duke head coach Mike Krizzy-zew-ski and the fact that their school, Northeastern Maryland State-Havre De Grace Campus, didnt make it into the field. These people are usually harmless until they successfully pick a six seed to win it all. Then the expletives get as loud and distasteful as a Bruce Pearl garage sale.

The Guy Who Picks With His HeartAnd Not His Brain

These people are the best to make fun of come tourney time. And the more hardcore the fan, the better chance for side-splitting comedy. I had a friend of a friend pick Notre Dame to go to the final four last year. I thought it was an interesting pick. Not that it was an insane pick, it was justinteresting. This guy gave me a Zapruder film-esque breakdown of why 6-seed Notre Dame could make it there. I bought it until, out of curiosity, I asked him where he went to school. Notre Dame he says. Then the first round happened: Old Dominion 51, Notre Dame 50. Cue the torches.

Johnny 12-5 Upset Expert

This is also the surly goof that will pitch a fit at the blackjack table if you dont split eights against a king. Yeah, sometimes it workssometimes it doesnt. Johnny 12-5 Upset Expert megaphones to you (and everyone within earshot) about the need to pick the 12 against a 5. What Johnny fails to realize is, while there have been a good number of 12 seeds that have broken through in the first round (roughly 1 in 3 to be exact), the majority go win the first game and potentially have stellar tournaments. Johnny always has a system for picking upsets. Dont even get him started on the 11-6 or the 10-7 scenarios.

The Office Pool Winner

Because your 20 is now in their wallet. Just like last year.

And the year before that.

Or something like that.

Jay Cutler has answered doubters in Bears locker room, coaching staff

Jay Cutler has answered doubters in Bears locker room, coaching staff

When Jay Cutler came to the Bears in that 2009 trade with the Denver Broncos, he was “the new guy.” The locker room belonged to Olin Kreutz and Brian Urlacher on their respective sides of the football, and while the quarterback position by definition places its occupant in a necessarily leadership position, that wasn’t the Bears. They weren’t going to be “Cutler’s team,” not for a while.

But Matt Forte exited this past offseason and with him went the last position player – on either side of the ball – who had been here longer than Cutler now has. The reality wasn’t lost on Cutler.

“I was looking at the roster a couple of weeks ago and I feel like there’s been a major shift in experience — especially on the offensive side,” he said. “I’m at 11 [years] and then you look down, there’s a couple of nines, a couple of eights and mostly five and under, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I think a new talent and new guys in the building, there’s new energy and new attitude. I’ve embraced it. I’ve enjoyed it. I think the coaching staff’s done a great job of getting all these young guys up to speed. It’s a good group right now.”

It is also a group that looks to Cutler perhaps in ways teammates haven’t. Where Forte was at least the template for an NFL professional for his position group, Cutler now becomes the go-to veteran for everything ranging from details on a play-call to how to behave as a rookie.

It is a role that at times Cutler did not always appear to fit into comfortably, particularly with established veterans and personas that were the Bears’ identity for, in cases like Kreutz and Urlacher, a decade or more. Now, a player once sometimes perceived by outsiders as poutish or petulant has become something of a standard-setter for teammates.

“Obviously Jay does a great job with the younger guys,” said guard Kyle Long. “He brought me along, and continues to bring me along. He can be a little honest and blunt with me from time to time, but beyond a shadow of a doubt it’s the right thing to do in his position, as the leader and vested player.

“The quarterback is the leader of our team. I think he’s done a great job. I see him with the defense a lot, which is something I didn’t see a lot the first few years. I don’t necessarily know if that’s on Jay, or if it’s a perception-of-Jay basis. He’s a great guy. People in that locker room love him. He’s tough as hell. He’s got a cannon. He can run. And he’s a competitor. We love him. He’s been great this offseason and we’re looking forward to seeing how he’ll be this season with this new O-line and with the defense getting us the ball back a lot.”

Tough love approach

Cutler has earned the respect of his teammates. But gaining the confidence of his head coach and general manager through last year were possibly career turning points.

Cutler had been given a contract extension six games into his first (2009) year with the Bears. He responded by leading the NFL in interceptions.

When Phil Emery arrived as general manager, he spoke from the outset of Cutler as a “franchise quarterback” and “elite.” Emery gave Cutler a seven-year contract after the 2013 season, whereupon Cutler again led the league in interceptions in a 5-11 season marked by friction with coordinator Aaron Kromer and coach Marc Trestman, whose staff was fired after that year.

Instead of fawning treatment, Fox, coordinator Adam Gase and GM Ryan Pace were decidedly noncommittal on Cutler through last offseason and into the year. Cutler produced the best statistical year of his career, still not as good as Aaron Rodgers’ poorest single season, but with an overall performance that settled the Bears’ quarterback situation for the foreseeable future.

"I had questions on everybody," Fox said. "You come in, you take a job, you evaluate and you have to make decisions oftentimes before you even meet somebody in Year 1 as a head coach or general manager. They could be robots for all you know. But the game is still about people and relationships.

“I will say this: At the conclusion of the whole season working with Jay, I was very impressed. So I feel way more confident about him."

Javy Baez blast brings Cubs offense out of hibernation in blowout over White Sox

Javy Baez blast brings Cubs offense out of hibernation in blowout over White Sox

Charles Tillman must be the Cubs' good luck charm.

Just a few minutes after the Bears legend sang "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" at Wrigley Field, Javy Baez sent one almost out onto Waveland Ave.

That two-run shot put a charge into a Cubs offense that had been scuffling as Baez and Co. wound up beating the White Sox 8-1 in front of 41,166 fans at Wrigley Field.

White Sox starter Anthony Ranaudo was tossing a no-hitter against the team with the best record in baseball before Kris Bryant parked one into the left-field bleachers with one out in the sixth inning.

Baez's blast in the seventh inning turned out to be the game-winner and helped lift this offense out of its funk by tacking on five eighth-inning runs.

Ben Zobrist had an RBI double in that eighth inning and then Addison Russell delivered the big blow with a grand slam off former Cub Jacob Turner.

That late rally ensured Aroldis Chapman did not get his first save in a Cubs uniform, but manager Joe Maddon still employed his shiny new bullpen anyway.

Hector Rondon worked a perfect eighth inning and then Chapman came on to toss the ninth with a seven-run lead.

The new Cubs closer wowed the Wrigley crowd with fastballs clocked at 102 and 103 mph as he struck out Jose Abreu, got Todd Frazier to ground out and then struck out Avisail Garcia.

Ranaudo was the story for the first two-thirds of the game, driving in the only run with an opposite-field homer off Jason Hammel and then keeping the Cubs offense at bay. 

Ranaudo's first career MLB hit was the only blemish on Hammel's line, as the Cubs veteran right-hander struck out seven in seven innings.

White Sox pitchers falter late in loss to Cubs

White Sox pitchers falter late in loss to Cubs

The inconsistency that has dogged the White Sox offense surfaced yet again on Wednesday night.

It prevented Anthony Ranaudo from creating his own sterling chapter in Crosstown Cup history. Making his White Sox debut, Ranaudo lost 8-1 to the Cubs in front of 41,166 at Wrigley Field even though he allowed two hits in 6 2/3 innings. Kris Bryant and Javy Baez both homered off Ranaudo, who also homered, as the Cubs snapped a four-game White Sox winning streak.

Everything was going swimmingly for Ranaudo through five innings.

Not only had he pitched out of a potential first-inning disaster, he hadn’t allowed a hit in two trips through the Cubs lineup. On top of that, Ranaudo had provided the game’s only offense, a solo homer off Jason Hammel in the fifth inning to give the White Sox a 1-0 lead. The opposite-field blast was the first career hit for Ranaudo, who was acquired from the Texas Rangers in mid-May.

But Bryant energized the crowd in the sixth inning when he belted a 3-1 curveball from Ranaudo out to left for his 26th homer. Ranaudo rebounded nicely, however, inducing weak fly outs off the bats of Anthony Rizzo and Ben Zobrist to end the sixth.

With the back end of the bullpen still running on fumes, Ranaudo returned for the seventh inning and quickly recorded two outs. But a two-out walk by Jason Heyward set up Baez’s heroics. Baez, who lined out hard to center field in his previous at-bat, worked the count and hammered a 3-2 curveball for a two-run homer to put the Cubs ahead for the first time in three games.

The Cubs added five insurance runs in the eighth inning against rookie reliever Carson Fulmer and Jacob Turner.

The White Sox offense couldn’t keep pace against Hammel and Co., who struck out the side in his seventh and final inning. The right-hander only allowed more than one batter to reach base in a single inning once. Todd Frazier doubled with one out in the fourth and J.B. Shuck walked. But Hammel, who struck out seven, got Dioner Navarro to fly out and struck out Tyler Saladino.

Hammel allowed five hits and walked two in a 103-pich effort.

It was the 48th time in 101 games the White Sox have scored three or fewer runs and second straight day. They’re 13-35 in those contests.