Chicago Fire

Maybe Rodman's not such a 'Bad Boy'

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Maybe Rodman's not such a 'Bad Boy'

Basketball Hall of Famers Charles Barkley, Karl Malone and David Robinson talked about a variety of topics during appearances on "The Dan Patrick Show" Wednesday.

Malone opined on former Bull, Dennis Rodman, who he said he's known since both played in an Oklahoma pro-am event backed by the late Wayman Tisdale, a former NBA player.

"What people don't realize about Dennis is that guy would give you the shirt off his back and I think that's been some of his demise," he said. "When they were talking about 'should he go into the Hall of Fame,' I don't think they were necessarily talking about his stats. I think, personally, that they were scared to death about what he would wear or say.

"I love the fact that he made the Hall of Fame."

Barkley, an NBA analyst for TNT, admitted that he picked the Heat to win the Finals, but after the Thunder's Game 1 win Tuesday night, he stated, "LeBron James doesn't have a lot of help. He's Michael Jackson playing with a bunch of Tito Jacksons..I picked Miami to win that series, to be honest with you and I still think they have a good chance to win that series, but if they don't give him any help, they're in trouble because Oklahoma City's got a very good team. I thought the difference in the game last night was Russell Westbrook. He was fabulous."

He also threw in a jab at his friend Dwyane Wade, Miami's All-Star guard, a Chicago native and Barkley's occasional co-star in commercials: "When he plays poorly, his knee is hurt. When he plays great, he's great."

Barkley complimented Sam Presti, the Thunder's general manager, but added: "I like Sam, but if the Portland Trail Blazers had taken Kevin Durant, we wouldn't be having this conversation, would we? He did a great job with Westbrook and he did a great job with Serge Ibaka, and Harden."

Barkley also discussed a report that he's interested in being a candidate for the Philadelphia 76ers'--his first NBA team--general-manager position.

"I think everybody knows that I want to be a GM, so I would sit down and talk to them," he said. "It would depend on the financial considerations. I'm not taking any big old huge pay cut; let's get that straight.

"I want that challenge at some point and I think I'm ready for it, and I think I would be successful, to be honest with you," Barkley continued. "I can't be worse than some of these other stiffs running NBA teams. Some of these guys are bums.

"I'm not going to take a bad job. I'm only going to take a job where I have creative control."

Robinson, who was maligned for not winning a championship early in his career prior to Tim Duncan's arrival in San Antonio, was asked about the widespread criticism of Heat superstar LeBron James and though he defended the current league MVP, he admitted that he would choose Kevin Durant over James moving forward.

"In the past, he let it get to him a little bit, but this year he looks like he's relaxed, he's doing a great job, he's playing extremely well, but still, if he doesn't win, everybody's still going to talk about him and that's ridiculous. The way the guy has played, especially during these playoffs, has been outrageous," he said. "I think Durant for right now. I think the way he's playing and I like their team right now. I like the way they're playing. I think they're going to win this one, so I'd have to go with his for right now. We'll see who wins this championship and I'll tell you after that."

The Hall of Fame center, a former No. 1 overall NBA Draft pick, also discussed Chicago native Anthony Davis, the likely top choice in the upcoming draft.

Explained Robinson: "Anthony, I think, similar to Tim, I'd just try to take as much pressure off him as possible and get him to understand the expectations out there--I think LeBron's a good example--the expectations are always just ridiculous. You've just got to play at your own pace, your own strength and just be your own man because you can't be what everybody else expects you to be all the time."

Injuries racking up and causing chaos for the Fire

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USA TODAY

Injuries racking up and causing chaos for the Fire

It wasn’t that long ago that it seemed everything was breaking the Chicago Fire’s way.

The Fire’s 11-match unbeaten run from April into early July featured of plenty of impressive performances from the Fire, but also a few lucky breaks. Dallas rested most of its starting lineup when it came to Toyota Park, Atlanta brought its two best players off the bench when it played in Bridgeview, New England couldn’t get a result against the Fire despite pouring on 24 shots.

It seems that luck is evening out a bit. The Fire dropped a fourth straight game on the road on Wednesday in Montreal and, while sloppy play was evident for the second game in a row, a rash of injuries to the back line played a role in the loss.

Left back Brandon Vincent has been out since picking up a quad injury in the warmups before a July 5 game in Portland. Right back Matt Polster suffered a left knee injury this week in training and did not travel to Montreal. On top of that, Joao Meira, who was listed as questionable for the game with a calf injury, left five minutes in with an injury. That’s not a recipe for success.

Christian Dean, acquired by the Fire seven days ago, had to make his debut as an injury replacement five minutes into a game. His center back partner, Jonathan Campbell, was making his first start since April 8. Johan Kappelhof had slid over to right back to fill in for Polster.

The resulting chaos shouldn’t come as a surprise. Dean’s first touch as a Fire player was a clearance that he didn’t cleanly hit. Ignacio Piatti blocked it with his chest and was suddenly open in the box for an early goal.

A Matteo Mancosu penalty and an incredible curling shot from outside the box by Piatti within a minute of each other put the game away before the first half was over. It finished 3-0.

Injuries aren’t things that have good timing, but this definitely qualifies as poor timing as far as the Fire are concerned. Being shorthanded against a Montreal team that may be playing as well as it has all season wasn’t good. On top of that, the Fire host league-leading Toronto.

That game against Toronto had been circled by MLS fans as a meeting of two of the top teams in the league, but the Fire’s recent slide (four losses in the last five matches) has taken some of the luster off it. Toronto is six points ahead of the third-place Fire.

In one final note, Wednesday’s game was the first MLS start for 18-year-old Djordje Mihailovic. He played 82 minutes before being subbed out.

The last time the Cubs faced Homer Bailey, Anthony Rizzo became the face of the franchise

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AP

The last time the Cubs faced Homer Bailey, Anthony Rizzo became the face of the franchise

How's this for a #WayBackWednesday?

Homer Bailey — the Cincinnati Reds' starting pitcher Wednesday night — has dealt with arm injuries the last few years, meaning the last time he faced the Cubs was July 10, 2014.

The only holdover from that lineup three years ago is Anthony Rizzo:

The full lineup:

1. Chris Coghlan - LF
2. Arismendy Alcantara - 2B
3. Anthony Rizzo - 1B
4. Starlin Castro - SS
5. Luis Valbuena - 3B
6. Ryan Sweeney - CF
7. Nate Schierholtz - RF
8. John Baker - C
9. Kyle Hendricks - P

Yep, that was Mr. Hendricks' MLB debut. He gave up four runs in six innings before a bullpen combination of James Russell, Pedro Strop, Neil Ramirez, Hector Rondon and Blake Parker shut down the Reds to give the Cubs a 6-4 victory in 12 innings.

But that's not all. 

That was the same day Anthony Rizzo tried to take on the entire Reds roster after Aroldis Chapman struck out Schierholtz with a 103 mph pitch close to his head:

Rizzo emerged as a leader that day, willing to take on an entire team to back his own roster and stick up for his guys. That was the year before the Cubs made the playoffs and to that point, Rizzo had only been a part of losing teams. But he put the Cubs on his back starting that fateful day in Cincinnati, the last time Bailey faced the Cubs.

Alcantara — who is now in the Reds system and was just outrighted to Double-A this week — had four hits and drove in three runs in that game while Valbuena drove in the winning runs with a two-out triple in the top of the 12th. The Cubs finished 73-89 in 2014 under Ricky Renteria, who got a World Series ring from the Cubs last month for all the work he did in 2014.

Since that day, the Cubs have ended their championship drought (obviously) thanks in part to Chapman and Rizzo has become the unquestioned face of the franchise and one of the top players in baseball.