Random News: New Year's (Sports) Resolutions

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Random News: New Year's (Sports) Resolutions

Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2010
9:14 AM

By Joe Collins
CSNChicago.com

"The worst lies are the lies we tell ourselves. We live in denial of what we do, even what we think. We do this because we're afraid." Author Richard Bach

New Year's resolutions are like repetitive Facebook status updates. Usually, it's the same old narcissistic thoughts time and time again. They all just blend together after a while and they're usually megaphoned out to the world by people who you can barely tolerate in the first place:

"I'm going to lose weight next year!"

"That's it. I'm quitting smoking in 2011. Take THAT Philip Morris!"

"I am going to get more involved in the community!

"Thanks to my self-help book, I'm going to actually talk to that girl at the bus stop next year!"

It all becomes background noise after a while: more regifted bags of lies that we insist on telling ourselves (and others) year in and year out. In fact, various studies put the success rate of New Year's resolutions around 15-20. Quite frankly, I'm shocked the percentage is that high. Our national attention span is next to nil, folks. Why do we kid ourselves into thinking that major life changes can be held for a year? Heck, or a month? I mean, new-fangled exercise plans can be shot thanks to a really long day at work. Or by caving in to a gallon of Butterfinger ice cream. Or by getting that summons to appear on Maury Povich.

Anyway...

But it's always fun to play the resolution game this time of year. You can watch the weaklings fail and see how far the stronger ones go until they cave under the pressure (or laziness). I am resolving to become less selfish. And what better way to start than by making a list of resolutions...for other people! Talk about taking time to think about others, right? Here are some New Year's resolutions I would like to see in place for 2011:

The Chicago Bears: To make sure every venom-filled 2010 critic gets their gift card to Eat At Crow's.

The Chicago Cubs: To play inspiring, winning baseball-- and be lurking just off the radar at the same time. (See: 2010 model of success for Bears, Chicago)

The White Sox: 95-67, 10 games ahead of the Twins. And then hit the gas from there.

The Bulls: To finish with a three-seed (at minimum), including a major upset a few weeks later.

The Blackhawks: To give the phrase "A Happy and a Healthy" some meaning. Especially if it culminates in another scenic drive up La Salle Street in June.

Frank Caliendo (Fox): To scrap impressions of John Madden, Donald Trump, Jay Leno or David Letterman on Sunday's NFL pregame show. Stale only works with certain types of cheese.

Northwestern Football: To win a bowl game. Any bowl game.

Brett Favre: To let someone else win the "Annoying Dinner Guest Who Just Won't Leave" trophy in 2011.

Major League Baseball: To give the playoff expansion talk a rest. C'mon, MLB. Leave "Everybody Gets A Trophy" day to college football.

Speaking of which...

College Football: To make the Alaska Bowl a reality. They already have a 500,000 Boise State-esque field for Barrow's high school (The Whalers). The rest should be easy! I say, you take the two schools with the worst records and send 'em north. You wouldn't watch this? Come on. Nothing says ratings like a Gatorade shower at 40 below!

MLB Umpire Jim Joyce: To find Dr. Emmett Brown, get his DeLorean, and go back to the 9th inning of the TigersIndians game on June 2nd, 2010.

LeBron James: To find a better advisory group. And an enhanced set of earplugs.

Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission of Minnesota: To find a Home Depot gift card big enough to accommodate the purchase of a Commando Teflon Staple Gun 20,000.

Wheaton Warrenville South football: To line up a scrimmage with a mediocre college and walk away with a 35-3 victory.

Buffalo Bills WR Steve Johnson: To find gloves made by the Elmers company.

So go ahead. Make a resolution for somebody else. Its the easier, more mail-it-inny way to ring in 2011. Stock up on the Oreos and Haagen Dazs while you're at it. You deserve a breakfrom lying to yourself year in and year out.

Or something like that.

Cubs not worrying about a thing after split with Marlins: 'We're right there'

Cubs not worrying about a thing after split with Marlins: 'We're right there'

MIAMI – Jon Jay walked into a quiet clubhouse late Sunday morning, turned right and headed directly toward the sound system in one corner of the room, plugging his phone into the sound system and playing Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds.”

The Cubs outfielder whistled as he changed into his work clothes at Marlins Park, singing along to the lyrics with Anthony Rizzo a few lockers over: “Don’t worry, about a thing, ‘cause every little thing gonna be all right.” 

That’s what the Cubs keep telling themselves, because most of them have World Series rings and the National League Central is such a bad division.

“The biggest thing is to keep the floaties on until we get this thing right,” manager Joe Maddon said before a 4-2 loss left the Cubs treading water again at 38-37. “We’re solvent. We’re right there. We’re right next to first place.”

The Cubs will leave this tropical environment and jump into the deep end on Monday night for the start of a four-game showdown against the Washington Nationals in the nation’s capital.

Miami sunk the Cubs in the first inning when Addison Russell made a costly error on the routine groundball Miami leadoff guy Ichiro Suzuki chopped to shortstop, a mistake that helped create three unearned runs. Martin Prado drilled Mike Montgomery’s first-pitch fastball off the left-center field wall for a two-out double and a 3-0 lead. Montgomery (1-4, 2.03 ERA) lasted six innings and retired the last 10 batters he faced.

“Keep The Floaties On” sounds like an idea for Maddon’s next T-shirt. The 2017 Cubs haven’t been more than four games over .500 or two games under .500 at any point this season. The 2016 Cubs didn’t lose their 37th game until July 19 and spent 180 days in first place.

“That’s what was so special about it,” Rizzo said. “We boat-raced from Game 1 to Game 7 with a couple bumps in the road, but this is baseball. It’s not going to be all smooth-sailing every day. You got to work through things.”

As MLB addresses long game times, why Mark Buehrle’s zippy pace is worth highlighting

As MLB addresses long game times, why Mark Buehrle’s zippy pace is worth highlighting

Sometime in the future, near or far, Major League Baseball will probably begin using a pitch clock to penalize sluggish hitters and pitchers.

The sport without a clock will, someday, have a clock. ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian offered that as one of his predictions for what baseball could look like 20 years from now, which would be one of Rob Manfred’s signature reforms as commissioner. 

This kind of change wouldn’t be necessary, though, if more pitchers were like Mark Buehrle. 

“Buehrle was hyper,” pitching coach Don Cooper said. “He wanted to go, go, go.”

No pitcher since 2007 — when Pitch F/X began calculating “pace” — worked faster than Buehrle, who averaged 16.7 seconds between pitches. Only 56 qualified pitchers since 2007 can be considered to work “fast,” i.e. with an average time between pitches of 20 seconds or fewer (it’s a list that includes fellow former White Sox left-handers John Danks and Chris Sale). And that’s only 12 percent of the 473 qualified pitchers in the last decade.

Buehrle’s 99-minute complete game against the Seattle Mariners in 2005 still is the only nine-inning contest to be completed in fewer than 100 minutes since 1984. There was that memorable 1:53 duel with Mark Mulder and the Oakland A’s in 2003, and both Buehrle’s perfect game and no hitter lasted 2:03. 

Of course, Buehrle didn’t just work quick, he pitched well while zipping through innings. Buehrle finished his career with a 3.81 ERA, made four All-Star teams and threw at least 200 innings every year from 2001-2014. He had a .572 career winning percentage, too, so Cooper knew about Buehrle would give the White Sox a chance to win in about six out of every 10 starts.

“But you also know it’s going to be about two hours and 10 minutes, too,” Cooper added. 

A given game’s length isn’t all about the pace of the pitcher, of course. Batters can slow things down by stepping out of the box and calling for time, and games can feel like a slog with replay delays and mid-inning pitching changes. 

Still, how quickly a pitcher works usually dictates the pace of a game and how long it takes to be completed. Cooper wondered why hitters didn’t step out more against Buehrle to disrupt his rhythm, but perhaps the answer is that everyone on the field gets caught up in the quick pace set by the pitcher. 

“Everybody tells me they were so happy when I pitched for a quick game, but every time I was on the bench in between my starts, it was a 3, 3 1/2 hour game and it wasn't very much fun,” Buehrle said. “I think some of these games do get too long. Pitchers take their time, hitters get out of the box. I don't get all that but that's just the way I worked. I just grabbed the ball and went.”

Maybe adding a pitch clock with penalties affecting the count will force pitchers and hitters to find a quicker rhythm. That was one of the hallmarks of Buehrle’s career, and those snappy starts are one of the reasons why No. 56 was such a popular player on 35th and Shields. 

Former manager Ozzie Guillen, in summing up Buehrle's mentality, also offered some free advice for fixing baseball's pace-of-play problem: “Just throw the ball, get people out and have fun.”