Moon: Seven keys to the Bears' schedule

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Moon: Seven keys to the Bears' schedule

The Bears 2012 schedule is laid out, but how will a player be looking at it?

The standard bromide is of course we look at them all the same, one game at a time." Thats not exactly true. Take it from one former player.

Matt Bowen had a solid NFL career thats now moving into a solid media phase, with work for a number of outlets including CSNChicago and also the National Football Post. He listed for NFP some of the filters through which he viewed schedules so lets apply those to the new Bears schedule and evaluate:

Opening day opponent

Thats where the offseason focus will be, right on through training camp and preseason. Its Indianapolis, same as in 2008, the last time through the AFC South for the Bears, but this time, no Peyton. Somebody at Halas Hall is probably already working on cut-ups of Stanford game film.

No NFL game can ever be considered truly easy. But a home game against a team coming off a 2-14 season presumably with a rookie starting his first NFL game is one you dont lose if you want to be taken seriously for the rest of the year.

The first quarter

Coaches including Lovie Smith talk of the season in terms of four-game units. All 16 do count the same in the final total, but getting off to a bad start puts added pressure to recover on the rest of the season.

But a good start also insures absolutely nothing. The Lovie Smith Bears have opened 2-2 or better in five of his eight years. In 2005 they recovered from a 1-3 start to earn a playoff bye. Their 3-1 start in 09 made the slide to 7-9 the more painful.

The Bears open with Indianapolis at home. The Packers draw San Francisco at home in week one and the Bears four days later. The Bears will have prime-time games at Green Bay and Dallas in the first quarter, plus St. Louis. This is a winnable first quarter.
Monday Night games

Most players love the solo time on center stage, but Matt points out that the catch becomes the following week, particularly if you have a road game. And if the MNF contest was away, youre not getting off a plane until very early Tuesday a.m.

Throw in a Thursday game which the Bears have in Week 2, at Green Bay and you have a squirrely start. At least the trips is a short one.

The NFL thought the Bears were worth five prime time games three on Mondays, one Sunday and one Thursday. This means a lot of choppy practice weeks.

Warm and cold conditions

Lets cut to the chase: When do you play at Green Bay? And for the Bears, when do they go to the Valley of the Sun?

This breaks well for the Bears. They play at Green Bay in September, at night. They play at Arizona in December. Theyre at Jacksonville in October. Those are good weather venues.

No at Buffalo or at New England to worry about for cold. You can bet that the Texans and anybody else with an indoor home has already IDd exactly when they have to come to Soldier Field.

Travel

The Bears have the geographic good fortune of being centrally located. But they do have road games in Arizona and San Francisco, the latter involving leaving on Friday for some teams.

Among the five prime-time games are ones at Green Bay, Dallas and San Francisco. Decent frequent-flyer miles but.

Off week

When the break falls is important in terms of rest. Its ideally near mid-season. If its early, the year is long after it, with more games and no off week for recovery (and its an off week, not a bye).

The Bears are off in week six after playing at Dallas and at Jacksonville. They come out of the off week hosting Detroit. Youd like the rest a couple weeks later perhaps but this is pretty good placement for a recovery week.

Tamika Catchings scores 26 as Sky fall to Fever

Tamika Catchings scores 26 as Sky fall to Fever

ROSEMONT, Ill. (AP) -- Tamika Catchings scored 26 points a day after the death of her former Tennessee coach, Pat Summitt, and the Indiana Fever beat the Chicago Sky 95-83 on Wednesday.

Catchings hit a 3-pointer with 7:33 left in the first quarter and immediately pointed toward the sky in a tribute to Summitt, who died Tuesday.

In the fourth quarter, Catchings found Tiffany Mitchell in the corner for an open 3-pointer to push Indiana's lead to 82-68. On the Fever's next possession, Catchings spun her defender and completed a 3-point play for a 17-point lead.

Erlana Larkins added 15 points and nine rebounds for Indiana (7-9), which is ranked No. 9 in the AP power poll. Catchings was 7 of 11 from the field, including 3 of 4 behind the arc, and hit all nine of her free throws.

She scored 14 points in the first half as Indiana held a 44-38 lead. Elena Delle Donne led the way for Chicago with 12 points at the half.

Delle Donne finished with 21 points for eighth-ranked Chicago (6-9).

Wrist injury has Melky Cabrera out of White Sox lineup

Wrist injury has Melky Cabrera out of White Sox lineup

The health bug struck the White Sox again on Wednesday as Melky Cabrera is out at least three-to-four days with a mild right wrist strain.

A team which has already had its depth tested faces another challenge as one of its best hitters needed an MRI after he left Tuesday’s loss to the Minnesota Twins early. Batting in the middle of the lineup all season to break up a glut of right-handed hitters, Cabrera is hitting .294/.344/.462 this season with eight home runs and 39 RBIs.

“You don't like anytime you don't have Melky in there,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “He's a switch-hitter, middle of the lineup -- it hurts to not have him in there. We're going to have to figure out a way to make up for that.”

Switch-hitter Dioner Navarro is hitting fifth on Wednesday as the White Sox face the Twins in the second of a three-game set.

Cabrera initially injured on June 18 in Cleveland. Though he exited that game early, Cabrera returned to the lineup the next day. He hit three homers and has a 1.018 OPS in 39 plate appearances since even though he has experienced some soreness. He re-aggravated the wrist on a swing and miss Tuesday.

“It’s difficult because I want to play, but the doctors said the best for me right now is just to take a rest for a couple of days because I have inflammation there,” Cabrera said through an interpreter. “But yeah, for me, I want to play. I don’t like to be on the bench. I want to play because the team needs me and I need the team.”

The White Sox are already without Austin Jackson, who is out at least several more weeks after he had surgery to repair a meniscus tear in his knee. The club is also short three relievers as Zach Putnam is on the 15-day disabled list with neural uritis in his right elbow, Jake Petricka had potentially season-ending hip surgery and Dan Webb had reconstructive elbow surgery.

Ventura said the medical staff doesn’t believe a DL stint is warranted in Cabrera’s case.

“They're talking three or four days just to be able to get over the inflammation, things that are in there,” Ventura said. “It hurts him when he swings and misses, so it would help if he just didn't miss.”

Jim Thome to have highway named after him in Peoria

Jim Thome to have highway named after him in Peoria

Jim Thome's name is very well-known around the baseball world, and rightfully so. 

The former White Sox slugger hit 612 home runs during his 22-year major-league career, but is equally known for being an all-around good guy.

Perhaps Thome's name is most popular in his hometown of Peoria, IL. 

Some people get a street named after them in their hometown after achieving fame. Not Jim Thome. Jim Thome gets a highway named after him.

The Peoria Journal Star reported that a portion of the Route 24 roadway at the Louisville Slugger Sports Complex will be named after Thome.

Thome's portion of Route 24 will be coined 'Jim Thome Expressway.' The aforementioned section will extend from Adams Street in Bartonville to Griswold Street in Peoria.

Thome is currently serving in the White Sox front office as the Special Assistant to the Senior VP/General Manager.