Cubs

Adult version of the Grand Prize Game?

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Adult version of the Grand Prize Game?

Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2010
10:55 AM
By Joe Collins
CSNChicago.com

There are a few dates that stand out in Chicago's sports history: January 26, 1986. Or October 26, 2005. And of course, June 9, 2010. Even the novice Windy City sports fan could tell you that those dates represent the Bears Super Bowl XX win, the White Sox World Series championship and the day the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup, respectively. And I bet if you really thought about it, you could recall the day when you went to your first baseball game. Or the day when you scored a touchdown for your high school football team. Or the day your parents let you stay up late to watch Michael Jordan hang 50 on the Pistons.

October 12, 1988 was my first sports memory...and I use the term sports loosely. On that day, I went to see a taping of The Bozo Show at WGN's studios. And if you recall watching that show growing up, the centerpiece of that hour was always the Grand Prize Game. No question. It blew the rest of the show out of the water because it contained so many current sports or sports-like associations. And what's not to like about sports, right? It had: physical ability (throwing), accuracy, not choking under pressure, a live audience, TV cameras and rewards for good play.

A boy seated just in front of us was one of the kids picked. He easily made bucket one. And two. Then three. By the time he made bucket four, a strange hush fell over the studio. You know how when there's a perfect game going in baseball, a hushed giddiness overtakes the room? That's what the WGN studio was like: "Wow...he's perfect through four!" After he made bucket five, the scene was probably tantamount to what U.S. Cellular Field was like after the 8th inning of Mark Buehrle's perfect game: "This kid just might make history today!"

Then...he made bucket six. 2501 West Bradley Place went up for grabs. Lots of screaming. A standing ovation. It was like one of our own won a national championship. A bucket six win was extremely rare on The Grand Prize Game. I'm surprised that the audience didn't rush the stage and flip Cuddly Dudley's house over. The kid "pitched" a perfect game and now got the chance to dominate his block with his prizes: a new bicycle, 50 and a ransom of Archway cookies.

Of course, it's all a memory now. The closest that most adults (myself included) could ever come to reliving that kind of glory would be playing beer pong at 2am in some dank apartment. The 'bucket six' win would include generous cab fare and a steak burrito. But the 22nd anniversary of my Bozo Show trip got me thinking a little. What if there was a Grand Prize Game made specifically for adults? Or...a Grand Prize Game based on the real world? What would be in bucket one? Or two? Heck...what would be in bucket six? An adult wouldn't be satisfied with a kid's red wagon and Yahtzee, you know? So I came up with a few things that should be in life's version of the Grand Prize Game:
1. The Ability To Afford Something At The Mall - Unless you throw like Mariah Carey, life's version of bucket one should be a breeze. It's the easiest bucket in the game to make. A "trip to the mall" means you're, well, pretty much like everyone else in society: you can hang out at the mall and have disposable income. To me, bucket one represents the ability to make basic consumer purchases. Virtually anybody can do it. Metaphorically speaking, some people walk out of life's mall with a new 52-inch hi-def TV, or a pretzel from Auntie Anne's. Congratulations.

2. The Car - Owning a car means freedom. It's our first major purchase. It's manifest destiny on four tires. It's making the trip to the mall on your own (see bucket one) and parking the car yourself...not having Mommy drop you off. Many people take pride in the cars they drive. But still, owning a car doesn't mean all that much. Just look at all the cars on the inbound Dan Ryan at 8:00 on a weekday morning. Owning a car is nice, but it just means that you've "graduated" from hanging out in front of Hot Topic or Cinnabon for hours on end. (I should note that some people --city dwellers especially-- blatantly skip bucket two because either they don't have room for a car or are one of those air quality preachers who use "green" in every other word of their vocabulary. Which is fine, I guess.)

3. The EducationJob - Bucket two and three could theoretically be interchangeable. But I feel that a killer job and a nice education are harder to get. Thing is, without a killer income, you can't really walk into a dealership and get a 2011 Corvette either (unless you were wearing a ski mask, of course). But if you nail bucket three, people start taking you seriously. Think back to the first serious "congratulations" that you received. It wasn't from buying a jacket from Sears, was it? Or from leasing your first beat-up 1993 Chrysler LeBaron...right? I bet it was from somebody saying, "Damn...you have a diploma from (fill-in-the-blank party school)...nice!" or, "Hey...congratulations on the new job! You're buying us drinks next time!" Bucket three could serve as a nice springboard to the rest of your life.

4. The House - OK. You have the gift certificate from Foot Locker. You have keys to a car-- your own car. You're getting a steady income. Now it's time to get the house. Depending on where you are in life, bucket four could mean the move from Mom's basement to an apartment. Or a townhouse. Or a condo. Or to Oak Park. Maybe even Kenilworth, depending on who you know. Bucket four is "making the move" to bigger and better. (Note: if you are as cool and as humble as LeBron James, you get to start at bucket four).
5. The Girl - I'm not sure why, but on the TV version of The Grand Prize Game, it always seemed like people would clank bucket five. Was the pressure getting to them? Did they try to be too creative with their (ahem) pitch? It's the same in life. You might have the biggest house in the world and a diploma from Yale, but if you can't talk to girls (even if it's at a 4am bar in Uptown), there's a problem. Focus on bucket five, folks. You're almost there. Concentrate. And if your girl can go to football games, eat nachos and watch "Animal House" with you...sprint down to bucket five and hug it. You're already a winner. Don't let anyone steal that prize. And to clarify, bucket five doesn't represent the girl, it represents the girl. If things were that easy, this would be the prize in bucket two.

6. Everything You've Always Wanted - Fired up yet? You should be. I've painted a very Leave It To Beaver'ish picture of life. And I bet a lot of people don't think materialism should have any part on life's "bucket list" to guarantee happiness. Heck, I'm sure that some Grand Prize Games would have gone like this:

(1) Become college sports hero, (2) Ivy League education, (3) Kegstand champion, Panama City Spring Break 2007, (4) A girl, any girl (5) A kid, (6) Beach house in Malibu.

Or,

(1) Bachelor pad, (2) Miss February, (3) PowerBall win, (4) Cubs World Series win, (5) Streaking down Clark Street, (6) Telling stories with other streakers in jail later that night.

You get the point. I think bucket six should represent everything you ever wanted. It's what you make it to be. It's your own personal "championship" moment. Maybe it's your first kid being born. Maybe it's fame and fortune. Or heck, maybe it really is a Cubs championship--and not a Central Division one, either. Regardless, your bucket six moment should be everything that TV's bucket six was like-- crazy happiness.

Hopefully you get to bucket six someday.

And pardon the sappiness. Don't worry...I have a Die Hard DVD from bucket one.

Or something like that.

Breaking down where Cubs can turn NLCS around and beat L.A.

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USA TODAY

Breaking down where Cubs can turn NLCS around and beat L.A.

“Sometimes, you got to lay your marbles out there,” Jon Lester said Sunday night inside Dodger Stadium’s visiting clubhouse, before the Cubs flew home from Los Angeles down 0-2 in the National League Championship Series. “And you get beat.”

It will be extremely difficult for the Cubs to win four of the next five games against the Dodgers, starting Tuesday night at Wrigley Field. But the Cubs had the, uh, marbles to win last year’s World Series and have developed the muscle memory from winning six playoff rounds and playing in 33 postseason games since October 2015.

There is a cross section left of the 2015 team that beat the Pittsburgh Pirates and silenced PNC Park’s blackout crowd in a sudden-death wild-card game. While 2016 is seen in hindsight as a year of destiny, those Cubs still had to kill the myths about the even-year San Francisco Giants, survive a 21-inning scoreless streak against the Dodgers and win Games 5, 6, 7 against the Cleveland Indians under enormous stress.

There is at least a baseline of experience to draw from and the sense that the Cubs won’t panic and beat themselves, the way the Washington Nationals broke down in the NL Division Series.

· Remember the Cubs pointed to how their rotation set up as soon as Cleveland took a 3-1 lead in last year’s World Series: Lester, Jake Arrieta and Kyle Hendricks would each give them a chance to win that night. The Dodgers will now have to deal with last year’s major-league ERA leader (Hendricks) in Game 3 and a Cy Young Award winner (Arrieta) on Wednesday night in Game 4.

“Obviously, we know we need to get wins at this point,” Hendricks said. “But approaching it as a must-win is a little extreme. We've just got to go out there and play our brand of baseball.

“Since we accomplished that, we know we just have to take it game by game. Even being down 3-1 (in the World Series), we worry about the next game. In that situation, we didn’t think we had to win three in a row or anything like that. We just came to the ballpark the next day and worried about what we had to do that day.”

· The history lessons only go so far when the Dodgers can line up Yu Darvish as their Game 3 starter instead of, say, Josh Tomlin. There is also a huge difference between facing a worn-down Cleveland staff in late October/early November and a rested Dodger team that clinched a division title on Sept. 22 and swept the Arizona Diamondbacks in the first round. Joe Blanton and Pedro Baez aren’t walking through that bullpen door, either.

“We’ve done it before. We’ve been there before,” shortstop Addison Russell said. “But this year’s a new year. That’s a different ballclub. We’re definitely going to have to bring it.”

· Outside of Kenley Jansen, can you name anyone else in the Los Angeles bullpen off the top of your head? No doubt, the Dodger relievers have been awesome in Games 1 and 2 combined: Eight scoreless innings, zero hits, zero walks and Anthony Rizzo the only one out of 25 batters to reach base when Jansen hit him with a 93.7-mph pitch.

But the Dodgers are going to make mistakes, and the Cubs will have to capitalize. Unless this is the same kind of synthesis from the 2015 NLCS, when the New York Mets used exhaustive scouting reports, power pitching and pinpoint execution to sweep a Cubs team that had already hit the wall.

“Their bullpen is a lot stronger than it was last year,” Kris Bryant said. “They’re really good at throwing high fastballs in the zone. A lot of other teams try to, and they might hit it one out of every four. But this team, it seems like they really can hammer the top of the zone. And they have guys that throw in the upper 90s, so when you mix those two, it’s tough to catch up.”

· Bryant is not having a good October (5-for-28 with 13 strikeouts) and both Lester and Jose Quintana have more hits (one each) than Javier Baez (0-for-19 with eight strikeouts) during the playoffs. But we are still talking about the reigning NL MVP and last year’s NLCS co-MVP.

Ben Zobrist is clearly diminished and no longer the switch-hitting force who became last year’s World Series MVP. Kyle Schwarber doesn’t have the same intimidation factor or playoff aura right now. But one well-timed bunt from Zobrist or a “Schwarbomb” onto the video board could change the entire direction of this series and put the pressure on a Dodger team that knows this year is World Series or bust.

“We need to hit a couple balls hard consecutively,” manager Joe Maddon said. “Once we’re able to do that, we’ll gain our offensive mojo back. That's all that’s going on.

“I inherited something from my dad, and that was patience. So you’ve got to be patient right now. You’ve got to keep putting the boys back out there. You keep believing in them, and eventually it comes back to you.”

· Maddon is a 63-year-old man who opened Monday’s stadium club press conference at Wrigley Field by talking about dry-humping, clearly annoyed by all the second-guessers on Twitter and know-it-all sports writers who couldn’t believe All-Star closer Wade Davis got stranded in the bullpen, watching the ninth inning of Sunday’s 1-1 game turn into a 4-1 walk-off loss.

By the time a potential save situation develops on Tuesday night, roughly 120 hours will have passed since Davis threw his 44th and final pitch at Nationals Park, striking out Bryce Harper to end an instant classic. Just guessing that Maddon will be in the mood to unleash Davis.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Should the Bears let Mitch Trubisky throw more?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Should the Bears let Mitch Trubisky throw more?

Adam Jahns (Chicago Sun-Times), Ben Finfer (ESPN 1000) and Jordan Cornette (The U/ESPN 1000) join Kap on the panel. Justin Turner hits a walk-off 3-run HR off of John Lackey to give the Dodgers a 2-0 lead in the NLCS. So why was Lackey even in the game? How much blame should Joe Maddon get for the loss?

The Bears run the ball over and over and over again to beat the Ravens in overtime, but should they have let Mitch Trubisky throw the ball more?