Thursday Score visit: Of death scenes & paper cuts

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Thursday Score visit: Of death scenes & paper cuts

It wouldnt be 10 a.m. Thursday without checking in with The McNeil and Spiegel Show on WSCR-AM The Score 670, Danny Mac and Ben Finfer this morning sitting in for Spiegs.

A little fun with great death scenes from movies, which the guys were chatting up when I joined them. The shark getting it in Jaws by Ben was a good call, as was Jack Dawson sinking into the depths of the North Atlantic.

My big three? Denzel Washington being taken out at the end of Training Day (richly deserved, as Mac correctly stated); Sonny Corleone getting his at the toll booth; and Val Kilmers Doc Hollidays one-shot takedown of Michael Biehns Johnny Ringo in Tombstone (Johnny wasnt a daisy after all).

The J.J. Watt problem was of more pressing interest for the week, and my sense of Watt continues to be a version of Dan Hampton and Julius Peppers, a defensive end with the power, strength and talent to drop inside and at any position to create a mismatch. Peppers has done it since he came to Chicago; Hampton went from left end to nose in the 46 (he also was defensive player of the year at D-tackle); and Watt at 290 pounds and 6-6 does the same.

Solution? There is none. Jury-rigging your offense to deal with that is a mistake, especially for an offense still forming. The Bears absolutely must run the ball (the Texans are good enough to dial Brandon Marshall down) and that is what they want to do and do well. This will be about whether the Bears can do their thing well.

Where is the bleeding coming from?

My thought to Mac was that the Bears offense is not hemorrhaging; its bleeding from a dozen paper cuts. A Kellen Davis drop cut then a Gabe Carimi breakdown cut then a Jay Cutler ball-hold cut then. You get the idea.

And coordinator Mike Tice has had some cuts. Abandoning later calls in the game plan because of a first-play sack, occasional lapses Tice knows what he wants to do and what wins. His role model as much as any is legendary Chuck Knox, and that means make your passing game truly lethal through ground supremacy.

Tice is excellent at looking for input and fresh ideas. Sometimes he just needs to trust that his have been pretty good over the past couple years and go with that.

And the pick for this weekend? Mac hadnt been able to make a pick so I wont, either. My preseason call was a loss to Houston and win at San Francisco; have to look at the first of those really close in the next day or two.

Cubs slug their way to impressive homestand

Cubs slug their way to impressive homestand

For the third straight year, the Cubs' season could hinge on an important series with the San Francisco Giants.

In August of 2015, the Cubs swept the Giants in a four-game set at Wrigley Field and they built off that momentum to win 97 games and make it all the way to the National League Championship Series.

Last fall, the Cubs rallied to beat the Giants in an epic comeback in Game 4 of the NLDS, essentially winning the World Series in that game, by Joe Maddon's opinion.

The 2017 Cubs have spent all year hovering around .500 before winning three of four against the Giants this week at Wrigley, looking more and more like the defending champs.

Thursday's 5-1 win over the Giants was the icing on top of an impressive 7-2 homestand that also featured a sweep of the Cincinnati Reds and a split in a rain-shortened series with the Milwaukee Brewers.

The Cubs are now 14-11 at home and 25-21 overall, having caught up to the Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central. 

They also flashed plenty of defense throughout the homestand, including Javy Baez's ridiculous play in the eighth inning of the series finale against the Giants:

Eddie Butler turned in another solid start, allowing just a run in five innings. Mike Montgomery faced one above the minimum in four innings of relief, inducing six outs on ground balls.

Kris Bryant, Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist delivered the offense with a solo homer each off former Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija. Bryant and Anthony Rizzo added insurance by both scoring on a wild pitch (and subsequent error) in the bottom of the eighth inning.

Heyward's blast was his fifth of the season. He didn't earn his fifth homer of 2016 until July 29.

On the nine-game homestand, the Cubs found their offense, scoring 59 runs — good for 6.56 runs per game.

They also smashed 20 home runs, which is nearly a third of their season total (62). On the homestand, 45.7 percent of the Cubs' runs came via the longball.

Cubs enjoy 'Anchorman' road trip after big home stand: '60 percent of the time, it works every time'

Cubs enjoy 'Anchorman' road trip after big home stand: '60 percent of the time, it works every time'

Win or lose, the Cubs were always going to leave Wrigley Field on a good note Thursday evening.

Joe Maddon made sure of that.

The Cubs are set to leave "The Friendly Confines" dressed in "Anchorman" attire for Maddon's themed road trip that will include Kyle Schwarber dressed as fictional sportscaster Champ Kind, right down to the gallon-size hat.

"Champ's my guy," Schwarber said.

Maddon thought Schwarber was the perfect fit for Champ Kind.

"Of course he should be," Maddon said. "Isn't that a [John] Lackey kinda look, also?

"I just love that they're into it. It would've been perfect going to San Diego first, but I'll take it."

The Cubs are shipping out to Los Angeles for a weekend series beginning Friday before heading to San Diego - the site of Ron Burgandy's affection - from there.

The Cubs apparently even have some "Sex Panther" on board, the cologne that Paul Rudd's character used that smelled...shall we say...awful.

"Sex Panther's on board," Maddon said before Thursday's game. "I'm hearing a lot of good things about Sex Panther. 'Sixty percent of the time, [it works every time].' I wanna know who wrote that. That's brilliant.

"Of course, a win always makes it better, but even after a loss, it's a good way to just let 'er go. But I think everybody's embraced the 'Anchorman' very well."

Of course, the Cubs did win, beating the San Francisco Giants 5-1 to close out a 7-2 home stand.