Shots Anyone?

Shots Anyone?

Friday, December 11

Its the holiday season, and what does that mean? Work holiday parties where everyone wants to celebrate to the max. Well, remember, these are your work mates, not your family, and theyll remind you of everything you did. And as always heed the advice of a seasoned professional behind the bar, especially if hes starting to resemble St. Nick.
VILLAINS WANTED: Its easy to bash Notre Dame Football these days for any number of reasons. So easy in fact that it gets kind of boring. When you root for someone, I guess it would make sense that you root against someone else. Having gone to Penn State in the eighties, the school that was most fun to root against was the Fighting Irish. They were an easy target, and because they were usually good, beating them meant something. Now what does it mean? Heres hoping that their new coach can come in and have a little success (not too much!), so I can get riled up again. I mean, how can you develop any venom towards Boise State, T.C.U or Cincinnati? Cmon N.D., get your act together!

GO CATS!: As a sidebar to the N.D. coaching search, Im just glad that it did not include Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald. Im a big fan of Coach Fitz. He doesnt strike me as one of these coaching carousel kind of guys. When he talks of his passion for his school and commitment to his players, I believe him. In fact, he fires me up! He would have been just the answer for Notre Dame. Thank goodness they didnt ask the question. I know Ill start my New Years Day watching the Wildcats and hoping they get that elusive second bowl win against Auburn in the Outback Bowl.

ITS OVER! ITS ALL OVER!: Of course since I mentioned Penn State, youd be right to assume Im a Joe Paterno fan, and that Ive been paying attention to what has happened in Tallahassee. Ive always wanted Joe to own the college football wins record, but if Bobby Bowden would have gotten it, what are you going to do? The guys a winner, and their battle to see who would own the record was amazing. Consider that they both are 65 wins past the old record, held by Bear Bryant, and not only that, the next active guy, Frank Beamer, is 155 wins behind Bowden! Ive been asked a million times about how long I thought that Jo Pa should coach, and Ive always answered, as long as he wants! Joes done it the right way and built the P.S.U. program in to a perennial power, he can leave when hes done. Think they didnt want the record, or keep an eye on each other? Bowdens famous line about the record when asked about a few years ago was that he checked the obituaries everyday! This would be a war of attrition and the last man standing would win. That man is Paterno. Im just glad that Joe didnt win because of wins taken away, rather, that it was because of the results on the field. I cant wait for win 400 next year.
WHERES THE BUS?: The 2 things that Lovie said he would do while he was coach was to get of the bus running, and beat the Packers. You can ask Brian Urlacher about how that running thing is going. As far as beating the Packers, hes 7-4 including two season sweeps in six seasons, not bad, especially considering what the Packers had done to the Bears in the decade before his arrival. But, I cant remember a Packer week that had this little enthusiasm. In my 15 years living here, Ive learned to dislike the team from the north in the oldest rivalry in the NFL. You could always tell Packer week at the bar, since the conversation got a little livelier. Its fun making fun of Packer fans! But when your most despised rival comes to town and it elicits only yawns, maybe its time to look in the mirror. I, along with Bears fans, have a bad feeling about this game. Lets hope Im wrong, the cheddar-heads dont mind giving back the abuse.

NVL: One of the things that should be understood about fan-hood is the act of tough love. Showing ones displeasure about a team that you root for is not wrong, its part of being a fan. In fact, if you care, and theyre bad, its un-avoid-a-Bull. The events of the last week have me thinking about our old friend Stormin Norman. I cant tell you how many times, when discussing the Bulls, the phrase, What do you think Norm would have said? has been uttered. I can only imagine his reaction after the shoe-tying incident in last Saturdays Bulls game. I cant think of it without smiling. Bulls fans miss you Norm.

DONT TOUCH THAT STOVE!: Something else not garnering a lot of interest at the bar is Chicago hot-stove talk. Dont get me wrong, its a baseball bar and well always have lots of baseball talk, but there doesnt seem to be a lot of feeling that anything significant will be done. On the Southside, thats understandable due to last seasons Peavy and Rios deals, and the earlier acquisition this off-season of Mark Teahen. The Northside is being held hostage by you-know-who, again. If you ask any fan, ANY, they say just eat the contract and move on. Theyve had enough and so should the Cubs. I understand the benefit of maxing out every deal, but some deals have benefits that arent as easy to calculate. Like taking a 400 lb. weight off your back, you cant imagine the relief. The weight of expectation on this franchise is NEVER going to go away. Its time to concentrate on the many other things that must be done to fix this team for a hopeful run at a 2010 title, and you cant start until that first step.

White Sox: Players confused about new slide rule after Saturday's controversial call

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White Sox: Players confused about new slide rule after Saturday's controversial call

BALTIMORE — Eighteen hours after it occurred, everyone still seems pretty confused about how baseball intends to interpret new slide rule 6.01 (j).

That was the consensus on Sunday morning from both the White Sox and the Baltimore Orioles as manager Robin Ventura was ejected in Saturday night’s contest after his challenge of Manny Machado’s “illegal slide” on a double play that should have resulted in a triple play wasn’t overturned.

The White Sox didn’t receive a third out for interference in the third inning even though Machado slid beyond the bag, grabbed Brett Lawrie’s leg in the process and then reached back to touch the base.

The White Sox believe they didn’t get the call — one Orioles manager Buck Showalter said Saturday he wouldn’t have had an argument against — because Lawrie never attempted to throw to first base for fear he would throw the ball away. The play was similar to one in an April 5 Toronto-Tampa Bay contest that resulted in the end when Jose Bautista’s slide into second base was ruled as interference.

“I don’t know if I’m more or less clear,” shortstop Tyler Saladino said. “After seeing that play, I guess it doesn’t matter how you slide just as long as the guy doesn’t throw the ball. But if you’re on defense, just do an auto-throw over there because that’s what they say.”

Lawrie said he never thought to make the throw to first base to throw out Adam Jones because he felt Machado made contact. Showalter acknowledged Saturday that his All-Star third baseman got “over-aggressive” on the slide. Neither side believes Machado intended to harm Lawrie with his slide. But once he was touched, Lawrie was worried he might throw the ball away, which would allow Jones to advance into scoring position.

“It’s just how the game is going,” Lawrie said. “You put the rule in place, you have just got to follow through with stuff like that. I just think right now there’s such a gray area because there was a lot of trouble that went down after that Tampa game and I think they got a lot of heat because it changed the whole game and the game ended like that. I feel like it’s just a gray area whether they call it or they don’t. It’s just really up to whoever is on the other side of the headphones.”

Showalter admitted after Saturday’s game he was surprised by the outcome even though his team benefitted. Were he in Ventura’s shoes, Showalter would also have asked for the play to be reviewed. He expected crew chief Gerry Davis to emerge from the six-minute-plus delay and inform him Jones was out at first for interference, which would have resulted in the second unorthodox triple play of the month for the White Sox.

“Where we got fortunate is they didn’t attempt to turn the ball over to first base and didn’t feel like it impacted the play, I guess,” Showalter told reporters. “We’re going to look for an explanation, too, because we would have challenged that, too. When I first saw it, I didn’t think we’d have much argument. It’s a little bit of a, I don’t want to say ‘flaw,’ but there’s been some gray area in a lot of people’s minds. But the way to combat it is to not do what we did.”

The White Sox expect the rule will be modified as it goes along. Major League Baseball previously made changes to rules regarding how catchers block the plate and what constitutes a catch after the transfer process was heavily scrutinized via instant replay.

“Every rule we’ve had has done that,” Ventura said. “We’ve always had some unique plays that happen that end up changing if they look at it further. It makes sense that would go along those lines.”

But as Saladino said, the White Sox lost their manager — Ventura’s ejection was the 12th of his career — and what could have been a critical challenge in the process. He and his teammates just want clarity and they’d like it as soon as possible.

“We’re just looking to follow the rules,” Saladino said. “You make a new rule, we’re supposed to follow it. You can’t just keep doing it, that’s the whole adjustment period. We’re trying to make our adjustments to the rules. It’s a new deal. So we just have to finish the play? They could slide however, but if we don’t finish the play, it doesn’t matter how they slide.”

Cubs feel comfortable unleashing Kris Bryant after ankle injury

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Cubs feel comfortable unleashing Kris Bryant after ankle injury

Kris Bryant's ankle is feeling so well, even Sunday's wet and chilly conditions couldn't keep him out of the lineup.

Bryant rolled his right ankle running the bases in Thursday's game and sat out Friday's contest. But an MRI showed just a mild issue and Saturday's rainout helped minimize Bryant's time on the shelf.

Bryant tested his ankle on the slick outfield grass Sunday morning and felt so good, Joe Maddon wrote out Sunday's lineup with the 2015 Rookie of the Year in left field with Tommy La Stella at third base.

"It wasn't terrible," Bryant said. "I've dealt with a lot worse. ... I didn't think much of it. I'm fine. It's good to be out there. Maybe the weather made it a little worse than it was. I feel good."

The Cubs chose to play it safe with Bryant after already covering for the losses of Kyle Schwarber and Miguel Montero in the lineup, but after Sunday's pregame "test," it was all systems go.

"I think that was their concern - if I could run down some balls out there," Bryant said. "I felt fine. I'm going through all the routes and stuff like that. Everything is good to go."

Maddon was open to the possibility Friday of calling upon Bryant to pinch-hit late in the game if he felt up to it, but no such situation arose.

The Cubs manager was intially expecting to be without Bryant for the entire weekend, eyeing a return Monday night in Pittsburgh.

"I didn't know," Maddon said. "I really thought maybe by [Monday] would've been more than likely, but he was adament that he feels great. The training staff said, 'He's fine. Go for it. Don't worry about it.' I'm just following both of those groups with KB saying himself."

Bryant said he's had ankle issues in the past and was in the habit of taping his ankles for every game. But he actually didn't have his ankles taped for a couple games because he had been feeling so good.

Cubs nation can breathe a sigh of relief that the injury was not more serious, so now all Bryant can do is shrug his shoulders and laugh it off.

"Of course something happens [the game I don't tape my ankles] so the baseball gods are telling me to continue to tape my ankle," he said. "Lesson learned."

Bryant has been seeing a lot of time in left field lately with Javy Baez back from the disabled list, La Stella (.400 AVG, 1.203 OPS) mashing and Jorge Soler off to a slow start (.193 AVG, .610 OPS).

Bryant still said he prefers third base, but he's feeling more and more comfortable and confident in the outfield.

Maddon loves Bryant's defense at third base, but considers him a utility guy more so because of the situation the team is in with Schwarber lost for the season and Baez/La Stella adept at third base.

"It's a matter of fitting all the pieces in and then re-shuffling it game-in-progress," Maddon said.

Reinstated closer David Robertson: 'Weirdest thing' to watch White Sox on TV

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Reinstated closer David Robertson: 'Weirdest thing' to watch White Sox on TV

BALTIMORE — David Robertson kept an eye on the White Sox from Alabama by watching games on TV.

The closer, who has been reinstated for Sunday’s series finale against the Baltimore Orioles, prefers his normal view from the bullpen. Robertson is available for duty after he returned to the club Sunday morning. He missed the previous three games to attend the funeral of his father-in-law, who passed away Monday after a nine-month battle with cancer. The White Sox optioned Tommy Kahnle to Triple-A Charlotte to make room for Robertson.

“I tried to keep up with the games,” Robertson said. “Watched (Saturday’s) game, which is the weirdest thing I think I’ve ever done. Watching a full game, seeing everyone come in. Was yelling at the TV. It’s harder watching a game on TV than it is being here in person to watch it. I was glad, it was a great win for the guys.”

Robertson — who has eight saves, a 0.87 ERA and 13 strikeouts in 10 1/3 innings — stayed with the White Sox through Wednesday. He pitched twice in the series in Toronto, posting two scoreless innings before flying home for services on Thursday and Friday.

“I was fine in Toronto,” Robertson said. “Emotions hit me when we got there. He not only was my wife’s dad, he was one of my good friends. We hung out nonstop. He lived with us all offseason. He’s a good man. He was taken too early.”