Shot Time!

Shot Time!

Friday, Feb. 26, 2010

With so many things going on, Ive got a lot on my mind.

TIGER: Was that an apology? Only time will tell. It seems that there was a lot of debate on whether he needed to give a public one. Mostly in the media. Mostly by men. For better or worse Woods is such a public figure that whatever he does is news, good or bad. In fact there are probably more people talking about him now more than ever. (Hes all over the checkout aisles.)

While a lot of adults have no problem reconciling what he did, a lot more do. The argument that he did nothing to the game, like say Mark McGwire (more later), doesnt matter to me. Hes brought the public attention onto himself. Hes the one that has his family on the 18th hole to help him celebrate. Thats not part of a calculated formula to present a stable image for his corporate handlers? Not only that, Tiger has become a face to millions of children, not only through golf, but his charitable endeavors. I have taken my daughter to see him at Cog Hill several times. She, like most of the others, was in awe. Now, she, like a lot of other kids, is asking questions. I dont have a problem in answering the questions, because life happens. But it was nice to show in the lesson, that you need to make amends and apologize to all that you might have affected, even if you dont know them, because its the right thing to do. The fact that Woods' problems are public is, unfortunately part of what he and his family have to live with. That he was able to acknowledge his wrong doing, in public, is a step in the right direction. From this point now, I will agree, he doesnt owe us anything. His fans will have to root for him at their own risk.

NOAHS ARCH (Actually a little further down): Did a little light reading on plantar fasciitis the other day. Ive always heard about it but didnt pay much attention. Why now? Well, its put a serious damper on one of the positive stories of the Bulls season: the stellar play and growth of Joakim Noah. Plantar fasciitis is an acute form of inflammation on a thin band of tissue running across the bottom of your foot. The thing about it is, without proper rest, its very hard to heal. In fact, rushing back leads to an excess of scar tissue, which could lead to other complications. After a couple of weeks off, the Bulls decided to ease him back onto the court. So my question is: Have you watched him play? Hes obviously having issues. Why wouldnt you let him continue to heal? I dont know about you, but dont big men with foot issues scare you a little bit? I know there is pressure to win now, there always is, but any Bulls fan can realize the importance the play of Noah is going to have on the future of this franchise. This year is about the future, right? Protect it. Let the other guys on the roster step up, and lets find out what other pieces are going to be around the free-agent prize of this summer. Who knows, maybe Luol Deng will get the wake-up call.

MORE McGWIRE!: Like I typed here before, this story will not go away. Not when there are so many unanswered questions, and Big McClueless thinking that he can slip back into the game under the cloak of being a batting coach. Seems that someone found out the answer to the question I asked here after the charade with Bob Costas: Where did he get the 'roids? Turns out it was his brother. What?! Yeah, and theres more. More?! Of the five McGwire boys, the youngest, Jay, was a body builder. Really? I wont get into any of the obvious youngest sibling issues that abound here, but more to the point, nobody knew this? No one? In his interview with the behemoth, he laid it ALL out. Wow. I mean, anyone doing an investigation, say George Mitchell, congress, any news organization, didnt know that his brother was a body builder? According to Jay hes never been contacted by anyone. This interview was for the release of his book that rats out his brother. And the hits just keep on coming! Not only that, but Tim Kurkjian in a another interview, had Big Mac and Albert Pujols at the Cardinals spring training camp talking about hitting together. My head was about to explode! Albert? Tell me how Mark has helped you. Albert replied, He was able to hit the ball so far with such a quiet swing.

Honestly?! How has this guy waltzed right back in without obviously telling the truth? Is his brother the good one? I cant wait for this to have an unhappy ending.

TW-OZZ-ER?: Ozzie on twitter? Priceless. What the world needs now, is more random thoughts from our boy. The daily updates on ComcastSportsNet were fun enough. Then, theres Ozzie TV on the MLB Network. (I know that the Chairman and Kenny Williams are going to be featured also, but let us not kid ourselves about who the get was. (Although after his White Sox business rant a few years ago, I would love to hear Kenny unplugged.) Now, Ozzies joined the kids on twitter? Over 19,000 followers already? Whats next? A spot on the Ocho-Cinco network? There are definitely two sides to this. The more popular reaction is: Cant wait to hear what Ozzie has to say. The negative reaction is: Whats Ozzie going to say? Thats the reason that this is such a big story. When Ozzie speaks, people cant get enough. Like another one of my favorites, Charles Barkley, he can say almost anything and get away with it. I think that Ozzie might find tweeting a little restrictive and time consuming. Getting one of his streams of consciousness to fit into 140 characters might be hard. (Then again the use of symbols could be pretty & handy!) Then theres the fact of having to actually type your thoughts, (you cant do it while youre driving anymore!) and when can you find the time? Plus, theres so much expectation. So far hes been pretty tame, albeit frequent, but can that last?Can he live up to the hype? One thing is for sure, were ALL going to find out.
WINTER OLYMPICS: Like everyone else Ive been paying attention, but like I said here last week, I dont feel like Im totally into it. Of course Im watching the hockey, USA vs. Canada had the bar rocking, but that was about it. Until I learned of the story of Joannie Rochette. Weve all heard by now that she lost her mother tragically on Sunday. In her mothers memory, she decided to continue on with her Olympic dream in her home country, with hundreds of millions of people around the world watching on Tuesday, as Im sure her mother would have wanted. Respectfully, the announcers did not say a word as she skated. One look at her face was all you needed. That she finished with the third best score after her program did not matter. Again, one look at her face was all you needed; the combination of sorrow and the exhaustion of a competitor that knew that she had given her best. Im sure Im not the only one who had to wipe away a tear. On Thursday night, and again not being the only one, I had to watch again, in hopes that she would medal. Not that I was rooting for anyone else to fail, or would have thought less of her achievement if she didnt, I just thought it would help her through this difficult time. How could anyone not want her to do well? That she scored her highest total ever in an event that she has probably been training for her entire life was poetic justice. What an incredibly strong young lady. If the true meaning of the Olympics is to show us the best we can be through competition and athletic achievement, then that is what she, and her mother, should be remembered for. Its something Ill never forget.

Morning Update: Bulls fall to Blazers; Could Chris Sale be on the move?

Morning Update: Bulls fall to Blazers; Could Chris Sale be on the move?

Five Things to Watch: Bulls in Detroit for fourth game in five nights on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks host Coyotes tonight on CSN+

Despite Chris Sale rumors, White Sox say they have contingencies in place for a rebuild

Kenley Jansen? Wade Davis? Cubs keeping an open mind for the ninth inning

Slow start to fourth dooms Bulls in loss to Blazers

Back from scary concussion, Leonard Floyd playing like franchise pass rusher Bears craved

Scott Darling takes the reins for Blackhawks in Corey Crawford’s absence

White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf knows 'it will be very hard to trade' Chris Sale

Cubs: The next steps for Kyle Schwarber

Rajon Rondo used foul language with Bulls assistant coaches following loss to Mavs

Bears DL Akiem Hicks making the most of a chance the Saints never gave him

Bears DL Akiem Hicks making the most of a chance the Saints never gave him

Living well is indeed the best revenge, and sometimes nothing feels sweeter than proving doubters wrong. Akiem Hicks is savoring that exact feeling.

When the New Orleans Saints made Hicks their third-round pick in the 2013 draft, they typecast their big (6-5, 318 pounds) young defensive lineman as a one-trick pony.

“There were people in New Orleans that said, ‘You can’t rush the passer,’” Hicks recalled after the Bears’ win Sunday over the San Francisco 49ers. “They told me from my rookie year, ‘You’re going to be a run-stopper.’”

This despite Hicks collecting 6.5 sacks and 3 pass breakups as a senior at Regina in Canada. The Saints forced Hicks into the slot they’d decided he fit – nose tackle – then eventually grew disenchanted with him and traded him to New England last year – where he collect 3 sacks in spot duty.

Interestingly, Bears GM Ryan Pace was part of the Saints’ personnel operation. Whether Pace agreed with coaches’ handling of Hicks then isn’t known, but when Pace had the chance to bring Hicks to Chicago for a role different than the one the Saints forced Hicks into, Pace made it happen.

Pace likely saw those New England sacks as a foreshadowing or a sign that the New Orleans staff had miscast Hicks. The Bears defensive end now is under consideration for NFC defensive player of the week after his 10-tackle performance against San Francisco. Signing with the Bears last March 13 as a free agent was the career break Hicks has craved. For him it was a career lifeline.

“They have given me the ability to go rush the passer,” Hicks said. “So I love this organization – [GM] Ryan Pace, coach Fox, Vic [Fangio, defensive coordinator] – for just giving a guy the capability to put it out there and do what you feel like you can do.”

[MORE BEARS: Back from scary concussion, Leonard Floyd playing like franchise pass rusher Bears craved]

Hicks has been showing what he can do, to quarterbacks. For him the best part of win over the 49ers was the two third-quarter sacks of 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Those sacks gave the massive lineman, who the Saints said couldn’t rush the passer, 6 sacks for the season – more than any member of the Saints defense this season. It has been a classic instance of putting a player in position to maximize his skills, not jam someone into a bad fit.

“Akiem has been in a couple of different types of packages before with New Orleans and New England,” said coach John Fox. The Patriots switched from a long-time 3-4 scheme to a 4-3 but “we’re more of a New England-type style. But we’re playing him more at end; he played mostly a nose tackle [in New Orleans]. He’s fit really well for us as far as his physical stature.

"But he does have pass rush ability. It shows a little about his athleticism. So he’s got a combination of both.”

That “combination” has been allowed to flourish at a new level, and the Bears’ plan for Hicks was the foundation of why he wanted to sign in Chicago as a free agent. The Bears do not play their defensive linemen in a clear one-gap, get-upfield-fast scheme tailored to speed players. Nor do they play a classic two-gap, linemen-control-blockers scheme typically built on three massive space-eaters on the defensive line.

They play what one player has called a “gap and a half” system, which requires being stout as well as nimble.

One Hicks rush on Kaepernick featured a deft spin move out of a block, not the norm for 336-pound linemen. He got one sack with a quick slide out of a double-team.

“I’m not freelancing,” Hicks said. “But I’m rushing ‘fast.’ There’s a portion of the defense where you have the [run] responsibility and don’t have the freedom or liberty [to rush]. It’s a great system for me and I love what they’ve let me do.”