Take a vacation from your problem, baby steps and death therapy

Take a vacation from your problem, baby steps and death therapy

Friday, July 16, 2010
4:45 PM

By Frankie O
CSNChicago.com

Used to be that the time around the all-star break was spent talking about baseball and vacation plans. Well theres still plenty of that, but in this new world of the 12-month season for all of the professional sports, theres plenty of other topics to keep the conversations at the bar flowing. Get it? Flowing? Wheres my rim-shot?! Since your man behind the bar is leaving for a little R and R, (Relaxation with the family and the Recovery afterward!) I dont have the time to share with you EVERTHING thats on my mind here right now, but of course I cant leave without a few shots! SHOTS!

I guess if you live long enough, you see things repeat themselves over and over and during that evolution of time they might change form. The new age of self-promotion is upon us, and talk about leaving a bad taste in your mouth. (Im on a roll!) From Joe Namath, to Muhammad Ali to Reggie Jackson, these were the masters of media manipulation when I was a youngster. They never met a microphone that they didnt like. Funny thing though, they were entertaining and, oh yeah, winners! The disaster known as The Decision was about as far over the top as you could get. I watched like everyone else, but I would more consider it rubber-necking than actually watching. Besides the unveiling of LeBrons massive ego for all to see, it also demonstrated the fact that his handlers are in way over their heads. If the Three Stooges do make it to the Finals, they actually made me a Lakers fan.

Talking about the legacy of George Steinbrenner was another topic, but how could you avoid it when it was on the World Wide Leader non-stop for 4 days. I understand that he was one of the largest sports figures of our times, but.. I guess thats the point, you can argue his merits, both ways for hours. My opinion is that in the last 40 years he and Marvin Miller might be the two most important non-players in sports. (with Pete Rozelle a close third.) That being said, my lasting memory, besides the sparring with Billy Martin, will be of him yelling at George to get him his calzone on Seinfeld.

Did you know that Major League baseball had its All-Star game this week? Apparently no one else did either since it got its lowest rating EVER. Hey, Bud! Do you realize that youre the only one who thinks that playing this game for home field advantage in the World Series is a farce? And if this is a game to promote the sport, why wasnt the hottest thing to hit your sport in years, Steven Strasburg, in the game? He, right now, is one of the top 10 pitchers in the game, plus EVERYONE wants to see him. Could you imagine him pitching against A-Rod? What? A-Rod didnt play either? Have you been talking to LeBrons people? (This is the first year I can remember that I didnt watch the Home Run Derby. Nick Swisher? Honestly?)

Locally, there are two baseball conversations: Can the Sox last? And, when are they going to blow up the Cubs? Well know by the end of the month when the trading deadline comes, it will tell us all we need to know. Then again if youve been coming into the bar, you already know how I feel about both teams. (Hint: Adam Dunn and TNT!)

In the, what a difference a year makes department, do you remember Cutler-Mania? I think with everything else going on around here, the fact that no one is really paying attention to them is a good thing. Its time for them to go to work and doing it under the radar will hopefully payoff. I dont think that they are going to get a lot of respect nationally, or maybe even locally for that matter. Thats why I think they are going to have a chance at a decent season. I think the keys will be the O-line and the pass rush. (What a football genius!) Naturally well beat this topic to death in the coming months.

I finally found a way to get interested in the World Cup. I had a little rooting interest, if you know what I mean. This time I wasnt bored out of my mind. I actually watched the games for what they were supposed to be. In doing so I realized that watching any competition being played at the highest level can be mesmerizing, even if I didnt get the payoff I was hoping for.

First there were the Go-Go Sox, now we have the Bye-Bye Hawks. Its another example with the mass exodus of playerscontracts of how truly special this past season was and how this organ-I-zation performed at every level. The good thing is that the core will be here for a while. The question is whether the new pieces brought in can play to the level of their predecessors.

Well Id like to keep going, I know that youre interested in how my roto baseball team is doing and of course my opinions on one of my obsessions, The World Series of Poker, but the big fella has to get the car packed to the hilt and hide the charge cards from the boss as she makes her last minute preparations. Well have plenty of time for whatever is going on in sports, and then some, in two weeks. For now, when you think Clark Griswald, picture him making a drive to the beaches of Delaware in an out of control min-van. My one treat for myself as we drive? Im going to have the kids watch the movie I referenced in my title. There are only so many episodes of Sponge Bob that a father can listen to in one trip. Im sailing!!!

Bears formula for beating Lions is basic

Bears formula for beating Lions is basic

Talking about what the Bears can do to defeat the Detroit Lions suddenly has a vague feel of irrelevance, since the downward spiral of the 0-3 start raises far broader questions and doubts than one game. But in point of fact, it IS about one game. More on that later.

Earlier in this week your humble and faithful narrator laid out three foundation points upon which the Bears could begin building a way out of the abyss. Nothing has changed in the meantime other than a few injury designations, and there is zero reason to dwell on those because the solution is about as simple as things can get. And they extend beyond Sunday’s game against the Lions.

“You’ve just got to keep improving,” said Brian Hoyer, the presumptive starting quarterback Sunday against Detroit and until Jay Cutler’s injured right thumb is sufficiently healed. “Nobody’s going to feel sorry for us. Everybody has injuries. It’s unfortunately part of the business so everybody just has to step up.

“And not only the guy himself has to step up, the guys around him have to step up. That’s just the nature of the beast.”

Which gets back to those three “turnaround” elements, because those comprise the basic formula for the Bears to overcome the Lions and themselves. Consider these the proverbial “three keys,” tailored to the immediate game at hand.

Unleash a defensive “village”

The Bears have not proved themselves capable of winning enough one-on-one matchups pretty much anywhere on the field, any side of the football. An alternative exists on defense, however: Swarm to the football, something that was axiomatic with Lovie Smith defenses but evaporated under Marc Trestman/Mel Tucker and has not developed under John Fox and Vic Fangio. It is also the only realistic way the Bears can have a dominant defensive game, which is the only realistic way the Bears can win a football game.

The Lions were never a particularly fun matchup for Chicago defenses when they had Calvin Johnson. In beating the Bears the last six times the teams met, Detroit averaged 29.3 points per game. Without Megatron the Lions are averaging 27 per game this season. Meaning: Things haven’t necessarily gotten any better since the Big Fella called it a career.

In place of Johnson, the focal point of the Detroit offense has become wideout Marvin Jones, No. 2 in the NFL in receiving yards and averaging 22.7 yards on his 18 receptions. Equally concerning: Jones has picked up first downs on 13 of those 18 catches.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

“He's made some big plays,” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. “He's had some big ‘chunk’ plays, a 73-yarder last week, I think he had a 50-some yarder in another game. He leads the [NFC] in receiving yards and [is No. 2 in] average per catch. They've got a lot of weapons.”

The problem with that is that the Lions are predominantly a three-receiver offense, another team that will schematically force the Bears out of their base 3-4 and into nickel. The Bears intercepted a Houston Texans pass on the first possession of the season. They have not intercepted one in the 34 opponent possessions since then.

Detroit doesn’t run the football overly well (101 yards per game), but if the Bears cannot force quarterback Matthew Stafford to throw toward Jones or Golden Tate before he wants to, an undermanned secondary has no chance.

The defense no longer has a shutdown corner, even one must-account-for pass rusher or an established all-around game-changer. Jerrell Freeman is the best player on a struggling defense. The solution is a form of flash-mob flying to the football, second and third men in stripping the ball. One tackler or pass rusher has proved insufficient.

Take it on the run

It is far from any sort of exact correlation, but all six of the Bears’ wins last season came in games where they rushed more times than their opponent. A seventh win escaped them when Robbie Gould missed a kick against San Francisco. Only the Lions in Week 17 rushed fewer times than the Bears and won.

The Bears are not only among the NFL’s worst rushing teams (70 yards per game, 30th), but also its least busy, with 53 total attempts through three games. The total is mystifying because the Bears led the Texans through three quarters and the Eagles for most of two, making the reasoning that the Bears were trailing and forced to throw very difficult to understand.

The Lions allow 5.1 yards per rush, worst in the NFL. They are without top pass rusher Ziggy Ansah. If the Bears cannot run on this defense (allowing 28.3 ppg.), the issues are far deeper than feared and the philosophies and play calling of coordinator Dowell Loggains will come under even more scrutiny than they already have.

“I was pretty disappointed as well [after 15 rush attempts at Dallas],” guard Kyle Long said. “Just execution, and sometimes it’s not execution. It’s just you’ve got to beat the guy across from you and we haven’t done that enough.”

Win one play…then one drive…one quarter…one game

The Bears cannot get back to .500 Sunday afternoon. Barring a 28-point outburst, they cannot win the Detroit game in the first quarter. They led Houston and Philadelphia in first halves and lost.

To his credit, Fox has kept the target small, and simple. Because it is.

“It’s execution and it’s execution in all three phases,” Fox said. “Whether it’s the first half or the second half, they’re two equal times. And you have to put a complete game together and we have not done that through the first three games.” 

And the winner is...

“View from the Moon” erred in Dallas by going against its first impression and pick back early in the offseason, that the Bears would lose to the Cowboys, which they did. The Bears have done little to suggest that they are poised to go on any sort of upswing, but the Lions inspire not a lot to suggest that they are an NFC North power. The preseason pick stays:

Bears 17,  Lions 14

View from the Moon 2016 record: 1-2

Check out Michigan's new Jordan basketball uniforms

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Check out Michigan's new Jordan basketball uniforms

Michigan's football team grabbed all the headlines in recent months for — well, for just about everything, but specifically for becoming the first football team ever decked out in Jordan Brand uniforms. His Airness himself even showed up as an honorary captain at the Big House.

Well, don't forget that in the school's apparel deal with Nike, Michigan's basketball team also gets Jordan uniforms.

The Wolverines unveiled their new hoops unis Friday, and as one might expect, they look pretty cool.

Check them out:

In true Michigan fashion, the uniforms were unveiled at some giant party event with celebrities and whatnot.

John Beilein's team will be taking the court in these sweet duds this season.