Taking care of business

Taking care of business

Friday, July 30, 2010
12:27 AM

By Frankie O
CSNChicago.com

As the summer progresses, with its mind numbing heat and insanely intense thunderstorms, which I seem to be dealing with daily, no matter which part of the country Im in, my focus is squarely on baseball. There are four teams I follow with keen interest, and not necessarily in this order: The Phillies, Sox, Cubs and my roto league team. Each have had an interesting season to this point and for the most part lived up to my pre-season expectations. Theyve all managed to do this while taking wildly different paths than I expected. The Phils starting out strong, then having half the team go on the DL, stumble, then get hot and as I type this, acquire Roy Oswalt for the stretch run. Theyre in the mix. The Sox stumble badly out of the gate, not able to pitch or hit, (dont get me started on the DH by committee again!) then their starting pitching took over and theyve been hot for six weeks playing the type of baseball we expected and taking the central division lead, setting up another duel with the Twinkies for a post-season berth. Theyre in the mix.

My roto team, while not especially dominant in one area, is well balanced and if I can ever get Chase Utley of the DL and Kung-Foo Panda to hit again will be a force to be reckoned with. Im in the mix! Then there are the Cubs. Being a bartender at Harry Carays means that you must be well versed in everything Cub. Im asked about them everyday. Talk about bringing the mood of the room down, theyre a buzz-kill! (And I spend a lot of time trying to create a buzz in the room!) I cant say that where the Cubs stand right now (46-56, 10 games behind, 4th place in the central division, 12th best team in a 16 team league) is a surprise, to anyone who is realistic, but it is their path that has gotten them there that is particularly maddening. Ive often compared this years Cubs team to one from the NBA. You know, saddled in mediocrity because of ginormous contracts to underperforming players that they cant unload. That being said, this season has presented every opportunity for the Cubs to do something with it if they just wanted to. My emphasis on: wanted to. I know the old adage: Baseball is a grind, its a long season, cant get too up for games since there are so many of them and on and on..

And I understand that to a point. You need to go out and grind. Play 5 games, you need to win 3. Go 3-2 and thats good. Do it 32 times and youre 96-64 and that is championship caliber. Dont win today? Youll win tomorrow. O.K.! I get it. But I say that some game are more equal than others and are the ones that will make or break you. Its also part of the three things that drive me crazy in baseball. Number one is 2-0 pop-ups. Honestly! You have the pitcher right where you want him and youre not sure of the pitch youre swinging at? Number two is blowing three run leads in the ninth. The game is o-vah! Wait, no its not. Nothing hurts worse than blowing a lead in the ninth, especially one where the inning has to blow up in your face! And number three is constantly losing to teams you should beat. To win a division should be the focus of every team in every sport. The easiest way to do that is to beat the teams in your division. It is very rare in baseball that a team wins its division without having a good record against it. (The Sox this year are a prime example. They are not going to stay in first if they dont start beating their division rivals.)

Mostly because you play so many games against your division, you need to take advantage of them or youre going to be swimming up hill. In the majors teams will play division opponents anywhere from 16 to 20 games. The Cubs will play 79 games in their division this year. In the last 3 years their record against the central, in order was: 45-34, 48-33 and 47-32. Not coincidentally they won two division titles and had a winning record each year. In your division, I think there are gifts being offered and you must take advantage. Ill use last years National League Champions as an example. The Phillies had the opportunity to play the Nationals and the Mets 36 times last year. Those were 2 awful teams. The Phillies were 27-9 in those games. 18 game over .500! Do you think that made winning their division easier? They were only 6 games over against everyone else. They had an opportunity against inferior opponents and jumped on it. Thats what a good team does. Then we have this years Cubs. In what I would consider an average division they have a 19-30 record. What?! But then it gets worse. As I mentioned before, they have a better record than only 4 other NL teams. Against the team with the worst record, Arizona, they are 6-1. Thats good. That is what you should do to a team that is a doormat. But against the other 3 below them? They are 8-19. Included in that is a combined record of 7-17 against the Pirates and Astros. Those are 2 god-awful baseball teams. How could you have a .500 record against everyone else in baseball and repeatedly get pounded by those two teams? That to me is inexcusable of a team that was being sold as having a chance. What it says to me is that this is a team, while we can argue about level of talent, has no heart or killer instinct.

To win you have to expect that you are going to do so. Think the Sox or Phillies feel that way right now? You do not get repeatedly beat by teams that you are supposedly better than and expect to achieve anything. For the fans, who I listen to everyday, getting beat over and over by these two team especially, has become a sore spot that has been met with a lot of biting, sarcastic humor. (Ironically, thats right up my alley! Im nothing if not versatile.) A baseball season does have a lot of ups and downs. Its the longest season in pro sports. But the beauty of that is that it will eventually expose you for who you are. If youre good, well know that. And if youre bad, or dont show up to play everyday, well well know that too. We just have to look at your record. It tells us all we need to know.

CSN to chronicle a dominant New Year's Day playoff performance on the next installment of Bears Classics

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CSN to chronicle a dominant New Year's Day playoff performance on the next installment of Bears Classics

‘Bears Classics’ presented by Xfinity to debut Monday, January 23 at 8:00 PM CT -- Exclusively on CSN

Narrated by Chicago Bears/Pro Football Hall of Fame legend DICK BUTKUS

Chicago, IL (January 18, 2017) – CSN Chicago and the Chicago Bears will debut a brand new installment of its partnered Bears Classics presented by Xfinity Emmy award-winning documentary series when the network will once again go back in time to highlight a dominant victory in team playoff history, one that pitted an initially-designated back-up QB…against a future Hall of Famer.     

Debuting Monday, January 23 at 8:00 PM CT exclusively on CSN, Bears Classics will turn back the clock to New Year’s Day 1995, the date of the NFC Wild Card game against the rival Minnesota Vikings at the Metrodome.  The 1994 season was a time of transition for the Bears with roster of new stars as more familiar names had left town.  Dave Wannstedt was in his second season as head coach, and working to establish a new identity for the Bears after being hired in 1993 to replace the legendary Mike Ditka.  From injury and inconsistent play, starting quarterback Erik Kramer was benched.  Backup Steve Walsh then took over and led the Bears to a winning season at 9-7, but the road to the playoffs went through Minnesota, home of the NFC Central champions.  The 10-6 Vikings were led by veteran quarterback and future Hall of Famer Warren Moon, and in ’94, Moon and his purple gang defeated the Bears in both regular season meetings, however, the Bears were determined to reverse that course.  This NFC Wild Card matchup on New Year’s Day 1995 was the first time--and to date, the only time--that the Bears and Vikings met in the playoffs. 

This hour-long installment of Bears Classics, subtitled Eclipsing Moon - Bears vs. Vikings, January 1st, 1995, takes an in-depth look at this critical game in Bears history featuring candid interviews with Bears players and coaches, Viking opponents, along with those who covered this massively-hyped battle. 

This edition of CSN’s Emmy-winning Bears Classics documentary series will once again be narrated by Chicago Bears legend/Pro Football Hall of Famer Dick Butkus.  Butkus played for the Bears from 1965-1973 and is credited for redefining the middle linebacker position.  He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979.  CSN’s Sarah Lauch is the Executive Producer of Bears Classics, Willie Parker is the Producer, and Kevin Cross is the network’s Senior Director of News & Original Content.

In addition to the documentary narration by Butkus, among the numerous players/media/execs interviewed in this edition of Bears Classics include exclusive interviews with the following individuals:

DAVE WANNSTEDT

Bears Head Coach (1993-98)

WARREN MOON

Vikings Quarterback (1994-96)

CURTIS CONWAY

Bears Wide Receiver (1993-99)

TOM WADDLE

Bears Wide Receiver (1989-94)

STEVE WALSH

Bears Quarterback (1994-95)

RAYMONT HARRIS

Bears Running Back (1994-97)

JAMES “BIG CAT” WILLIAMS

Bears Tackle (1991-2002)

Please note the following quotes from CSN’s premiere airing of Bears Classics: Eclipsing Moon - Bears vs. Vikings, January 1st, 1995, debuting Monday, January 23 at 8:00 PM CT:

DAVE WANNSTEDT (on the Bears’ mood as an underdog in the playoffs): “I think our guys had a hidden sense of confidence, a hidden sense of excitement…I remember when we went up there, our guys were excited about playing the football game.”

WARREN MOON (on facing the Bears three times during the ’94 season): “We get into the playoffs and have to play them a third time, to beat a team three times is kind of tough in the same year because they know you so well, especially being from your same division.”

TOM WADDLE (on the Bears’ playoff performance): “At no point did we ever feel we were blowing them out, because I don’t know if we had a capacity to blow anybody out that year, but we were in control.”

RAYMONT HARRIS (on Warren Moon): “(The Vikings) were so talented, Warren Moon was so good.  He had the ability to not just hone in on one receiver…because he could’ve done that.  He had one of the greatest receivers to ever play pro football in Cris Carter.”

STEVE WALSH (on gaining the confidence of teammates as backup QB): “If that locker room believes in that quarterback, generally that guy is going to be successful.  If they don’t, then they’re not…and I think in that year in ’94, there was some uncertainty.”

CSN will also re-air this episode of Bears Classics on Tuesday, January 31 at 7:00 PM.  In addition, fans can also get interactive prior and during every airing of Bears Classics with their thoughts, memories and comments by utilizing the Twitter hashtag #BearsClassics.  Plus, CSNChicago.com will provide additional, online exclusive interviews and commentary write-ups from CSN’s team of Bears experts. 

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