Sorry to be away for so long, but life happens. It’s funny to me how in the weeds of life I can be sometimes. Then again, with a family, a nasty allergy season and a still troubling fantasy baseball addiction, time sometimes isn’t as plentiful as I would like. But no worries, I’m still as full of … opinions… as ever. But enough about me, for now!
Someone who has plenty of time is former NFL player and all-time Chicago Bears’ great Brian Urlacher. It’s weird. I was surprised and not surprised at the same time when I heard about the retirement tweet. I mean really, Urlacher tweets? Who knew? Anyway, in spite of my wishes for him to play one more season for the Bears, the contract impasse between him and the team set this inevitability in stone. As I said here before, the Bears’ seeming low-ball offer was not that at all. It was what the market would bear. (Puns are fun!) He should have seen that writing on the wall then, because the whole league, and the Bears’ new coaching staff, saw the tape of his play last year. My favorite play of his from last year was his interception return for a touchdown against the Titans in week 9. It was fun as the camera showed his face as he ran and entered the end zone: Pure determination, then joy, which he then shared with his jubilant teammates. But there was also that look in his eyes that he was waiting to get hit, because he was lumbering down the sideline. Urlacher was not put on a football field to lumber.
The Urlacher we knew was the madman that was all over the field on that Monday night in Arizona: Speed, size, smarts and ruthlessness. A force!
Now, he will join his rightful place in the Bears and NFL pantheon and deservedly so. Still, the football fan in me is sad that he won’t get one more shot, more so because if there weren’t lines drawn in the sand because of business principles he probably would have gotten it. Oh, well. No time for sentimentality when men play a kid’s game. Now he has more time to pursue his acting career in “Entourage: The Movie!” (Of course he will always have a place in my heart for his cameo in my review for the movie “Invincible.” What chops! Check it out at www.harrycarays.com and my videos are under the Press Box drop box. Enjoy!)
Some more Chicago athletes who might have some more time on their hands are the Blackhawks. Ouch!
Who saw this coming? If I said me would you believe it? It’s been the topic at the bar. My question has been: When is the team that played the first half of the regular season going to show up? Watching this team in the playoffs has been maddening. When are they going to wake up? I have been watching as much of the playoffs as I can. (Sometimes, working in a bar is good!) The level of play in all of the other games is decidedly obvious. Or should I say the level of “playoff hockey” is noticeably different. I especially have enjoyed any game the LA Kings have played. (As I’m typing this I’m watching Kings-Sharks. Are you kidding me? Playoff hockey!) They are big, fast and fight for every puck. (Must be the former Flyers! LOL, then tears!)
The ride that this Hawks’ team took us on to begin the season was magical. But it also put the bull’s-eye of expectations squarely on their foreheads. That’s called pressure. I don’t know if that’s what it is but something is going on. They’re coach and the captain has openly talked about it. It’s not easy to just turn it on. Besides that, crazy stuff happens in the playoffs. You know, like goalies standing on their heads and hitting a post or crossbar every time you have that goalie beat. You know what I mean? That being said, it seems like every year there’s one team that comes back from the abyss that is 1-3.
So why not the Hawks? They have the ability. They seem healthy. They forced a Game 7 OT two years ago after being down 0-3. I wouldn’t put it past them. But right now, the last five Cup champions (including the Hawks) are among the final eight. That is a lot of talented, resilient hockey teams. The Hawks conceivably would have to beat three of them to get where they want to go. And they’re going to have to do that after spotting a Detroit team that was a sneaky 7-seed (They battled injuries all year, until now that is.) a two-game advantage. Having the next game at home will be huge, since the home teams seem to have a decided advantage this year, more so than any time in the last 20. I think the home-ice advantage is what they need. They can get away from those Joe Louis posts! If not, there will be a lot of time “discussing” the how’s and why’s of an epic collapse.
The sense of urgency will obviously be major topic, but even more so, the question has to be: How can a team this offensively talented, be this bad on the power play for the last 2 years? I tend to believe that the penalty-kill is a little more important in the long run, if you look at the PK stats of the last five Cup winners that I mentioned, they all were very good at not letting in goals when down a man, at or near the top of the list. But none of them had an anemic power-play. When the difference between teams is razor-thin, you have to take any advantage offered you. The Hawks even brought in a new coach to deal with the issue, and anything would be better than last years’ 5.3 percent. But this year’s playoff 12 percent is only better than the Ranger’s awful 7 percent of the teams that are left playing. You think its coincidence that both are down 1-3? I don’t. It’s time for the Hawks to take advantage of the man advantage or this will be an even longer summer than us baseball fans imagined.
And I’m sorry, I just can’t help myself, but has Sergio Garcia lost his mind? Does he spend every moment thinking about how Tiger has ruined his golfing life? Honestly?! How do you make Tiger look like the good guy? No offense but I don’t want the back-and –forth to end. I’m not making light of racist stereotypes, that’s obviously across the line, but watching a spoiled rich kid have a melt-down in front of the whole world is riveting. And I’m not talking about his Tin Cup impersonation on 17 at the TPC. Tiger is so far in Garcia’s head, he’s got his feet propped on a lazy-boy, enjoying lunch and entertaining guests. I don’t know about you, but that’s pretty far in! (If I can find my keys, we’ll drive out!!)The thing about Tiger that was amazing was how he would just make anyone in his path mentally weaker and trounce them when it matters. That ability has been gone for a while. I guess, for Garcia, its back. He gone!