Reflections on Lovie Smith, playoffs and who the Bears have played

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Reflections on Lovie Smith, playoffs and who the Bears have played

Whether the Bears make the playoffs actually doesnt belong high in the discussion. The Seattle Seahawks won a division and a wild-card game with a 7-9 record in 2010. Tampa Bay and the New York Giants missed that year with 10-6 marks (the Packers went in via tiebreak and won the Super Bowl, the second wild-card winner in five years). The Patriots missed in 2008 with an 11-5 record.
Clearly no one was firing Belichick the year after a Super Bowl loss, although Tom Coughlin won a Super Bowl in 2007 and spent last season in job jeopardy until he and the Giants mucked into the playoffs and won a second Super Bowl.
The point is, making postseasons is a measuring device for coaches but its regularly not within their total control. It can be; Lovie Smith is in relatively good standing if he gets his team past the mediocre 2008 Houston Texans in Game 16 instead of losing the game and the playoffs through a rash of stupid plays. That loss, perhaps more than anything, other than his recent Green Bay troubles stands out as a definer on the negative side of Smiths ledger.
With that what-if, Smith would be on a cadence of playoffs slightly better than every other year: 2005, 2006, (2008), 2010 and this season possibly. With last years injury induced fall from 7-3 to 8-8.

The Bears havent just lost five of the last six games. They lost the five games to teams with records among the top eight in the NFL: Houston (12-2), San Francisco (10-3-1), Green Bay (10-4), Seattle (9-5) and Minnesota (8-6). The only leaders off the Bears list through this stretch have been Atlanta (12-2), Denver (11-3) and New England (10-4).
Those records obviously include the win over the Bears.
But if the Smith detractors want to dismiss the 7-1 start because of the high incidence of cream puffs, then the troubles of the last six weeks rightly should be dismissed because of whom the Bears have played.
Actually, the second half has been considerably more difficult than the first half was easy.
The eight in the first half included Indianapolis, Green Bay and Dallas and was made up with teams totaling 49 wins to this point.
The six in the second half already have 57 wins.
Id suggested a while ago that for Smith ultimately to go down, there would need to be a bad loss in the second half of the season. The Bears havent really had that.
If they lose to 5-9 Arizona or 4-10 Detroit, thatll take care of the bad requirement.

Wake-up Call: Miggy gets the boot; Rodon's rocky debut; More bad news for Cubs?

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AP

Wake-up Call: Miggy gets the boot; Rodon's rocky debut; More bad news for Cubs?

Where it all went wrong for Cubs and Miguel Montero

White Sox willing to overlook 'rough' patches as healthy Carlos Rodon returns

Kris Bryant’s sprained ankle is more bad news for Cubs: ‘You can’t cry about it’

Can Leonard Floyd break out in 2017? The Bears like the early signs

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: What's next for Blackhawks as free agency looms?

Preview: Cubs wrap up series with Nationals today on CSN

Preview: White Sox host Yankees tonight on CSN

Bulls Talk Podcast: An NBA gone wild and Zach LaVine sit down interview

How Rick Renteria has tried to help White Sox players combat travel fatigue

What pushed Theo Epstein over the edge in making Miguel Montero decision: ‘It screamed out’

 

White Sox willing to overlook 'rough' patches as healthy Carlos Rodon returns

White Sox willing to overlook 'rough' patches as healthy Carlos Rodon returns

The two fastballs that soared to the backstop on Wednesday night should give you a strong indication that Carlos Rodon was far from perfect.

But in making his first start of the 2017 season, the White Sox pitcher also offered his team plenty of signals that his health isn’t going to be an issue.

Rodon returned to the mound for the first time since last September and brought the goods that made him one of baseball’s top pitching prospects several years ago. Given he’d missed three months with bursitis in the left shoulder and the potential value he offers to a franchise only half a season into its first rebuild in 20 years, that was plenty for the White Sox to overlook the rust Rodon showed in a 12-3 White Sox loss to the New York Yankees at Guaranteed Rate Field.

“He started a little rough early obviously, got some high pitch counts,” manager Rick Renteria said. “And then he kind of settled down.

“Having him back in the rotation and getting him back out there on the big league field, coming out of there feeling good, healthy. I'm sure he will continue to get better as he continues to get out there and move forward.”

Renteria said he wasn’t surprised that Rodon struggled with his command as much as he did against the Yankees. The issues the pitcher displayed in uncorking a pair of wild pitches, walking six batters and throwing strikes on only 41 of 94 pitches were also present during Rodon’s four rehab starts in the minors.

But as long as the stuff was there, the White Sox would be OK with any issues that accompanied the performance. Rodon began to alleviate those concerns immediately when he earned a called strike on the game’s first pitch with a 93-mph fastball to Brett Gardner. Featuring a four-seamer with an absurd amount of movement and a nasty slider he struggled to control, Rodon checked all the boxes the White Sox hoped for from a pitcher they believe will be a frontline starter for years to come. Rodon also was pleased by how he felt before, during and after the contest.

“I was pretty excited,” Rodon said. “I was going a little fast in the first. But it was good to be out there. Next time out, it’ll hopefully be a little better. Arm feels good, body feels good, all you can ask for.”

Well, it’s not ALL you can ask for, but it’s pretty damn good out of the gate given how slow Rodon’s return took. His four-seam fastball averaged 94.9 mph according to BrooksBaseball.Net and touched 97 mph. His two-seamer averaged 94.4 mph and touched 95. And his slider, though he couldn’t control it, nor locate it for a strike, averaged 86 mph.

“You could see (Omar Narvaez) going over to try to catch some balls that were having tremendous run,” Renteria said. “That's (Rodon). He's got some tremendous life, he's just trying to harness it the best that he can and being able to execute where he wants to get as many strikes as possible.”

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The strikes were about the only thing Rodon didn’t bring with him. He walked Gardner to start the game and issued two more free passes after a Tim Anderson error allowed a run to score and extended the first inning. Rodon threw 37 pitches in the first, only 15 for strikes.

He also reached a full count to each of the batters he faced in the second inning. Rodon walked two more with two outs in the third inning after he’d retired six batters in a row.

And there were those pesky first-inning wild pitches that resembled something out of ‘Bull Durham.’

But all in all, Rodon and the White Sox ultimately saw enough in the first outing to be pleased.

“Great stuff, great life, but the goal is to put it in the zone and let them swing it to get guys out early,” Rodon said. “That’s not what happened. I’ll get back to that.”

“It’s a tough loss, but it’s better to be with the guys out on the field grinding than sitting on the couch and watching, for sure.”