Bears

Random News of the Day: Debooked and de-carded

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Random News of the Day: Debooked and de-carded

Monday, June 28, 201011:24 AM

By Joe CollinsCSNChicago.com
Debooked and Dis-card-ed

Did anyone ever get debooked in junior high school? Do you even know what debooking is? Maybe that just shows how old I am and what the exact method of pulling rank was back in the day. If youre not familiar with debooking, picture a kid walking through a school hallway holding a cumbersome pile of books. A tougher kid comes along and slaps the books out of that kids hands. Ha ha. Someone just got debooked.

The Chicago White Sox debooked the Chicago Cubs this weekend. Chemistry, social studies and especially P.E. booklets were all over the (dugout) floor.

Congratulations to the South Siders on a three-day vivisection of their North Side counterparts. The Sox found a way to win all three games, even though only two of the wins qualify by textbook definition. The White Sox made Sunday's ninth inning feel like a win, while it seemed like a loss for my Chicago Cubs. Anytime you have a five-run lead and you let the winning run step to the plate immediately qualifies as a loss in my opinion.

Where is that Debbie Downer horn when you need it?

But its not all doom and gloom. At least thats what Im telling myself. The Cubs' lack of success this year is making me a great soon-to-be husband. And why's that? Well, since I've already mailed in this summer as a Cubs fan (this weekend was probably the last straw), I have found that there's more to life than box scores and bunt singles. I now get my exercise by turning the other cheek on mediocre baseball. The food tastes better. The road trips are better. And most importantly, the wedding planning with my fiancee is -- dare I say it -- a pretty good time. I can't believe I just wrote that last sentence.

(Checking back ... looking over the end of the last paragraph ... wow, I really did write that last sentence)

We had an appointment with a wedding photographer during one of the Cubs-Sox games. A few years ago, Cubs-Sox would have meant a couch, a beverage and three hours of demanded silence. This time around? Subtract the baseball and fire up Paul Simon's "Kodachrome" ...

"Those pictures look great! I wonder if this company does photo booths."

"Wow ... look at the way that photographer captured the light in that father-daughter dance shot!"

"A Golden Girls marathon? Mmm...sure!"

"Watching some kind of 'Say Yes To The Dress' show?"

... needle scratching off the record ...

OK that's enough. No way. Not a chance. I have my limits.

But you see ... that's what a rough baseball season can do. One can pretty much lose a Man Card because of it. It has actually gone to that kind of level. Really amazing, isnt it? Hey ... if it makes you feel any better, I re-caulked and painted my bathroom during one of the other Cubs-Sox games. Does that help? Any? Bueller? Maybe I just got debooked, so to speak.

(Random thought: wouldn't it be a cool idea if people carried around Man Cards and just go up to people and declare a violation? I think it would be fun. Have you seen how yellow and red cards are dealt in soccer? The referee just pulls out a little card and declares the penalty. Ninety-nine times out of 100, the player generally has the same kind of reaction: "What?!? Are you KIDDING me? For THAT? You CAN'T be serious." I have a feeling that Man Card violations would have the same kind of impact)

I'm not going to bristle at limo and DJ shopping on a Saturday afternoon while the Cubs are on at the same time. Won't even flinch. Not even a little. Everything will be a walk in the park (literally and figuratively). And feel free to pile on the insults and the jokes. I can take it. I can zone out and stare into space just as much as the next debooked kid.

And before I fuel the fire of the bandwagon-haters, know that I'll never fall off the Cubs bandwagon. Im a lifer and Im a glutton for punishment. Just don't put me in the same traitorturncoat category as, say, Fredo Corleone. Yes, I might be turning my back on certain people and making new discoveries for the moment ... but I'm still in the family. Ill be back. Probably in the very near future. Trust me.

But for the meantime, can you keep that card out of my face? I need it to focus on carrying my books.

Or something like that.

Joe Collins is an assignment desk editor for Comcast SportsNet and contributor to CSNChicago.com.

2017 Bears position grades: Defensive Line

2017 Bears position grades: Defensive Line

2017 grade: B+

Level of need: Medium

Decisions to be made on: Mitch Unrein (free agent), John Jenkins (free agent)

Possible free agent targets: Jared Crick, Frostee Rucker, Dominique Easley

This unit was consistently the Bears’ best in 2017, with Akiem Hicks playing at a Pro Bowl level (don’t let his exclusion from the game fool you on that) and Eddie Goldman putting together a rock-solid, healthy year. 

Hicks signed a four-year contract extension just before the season began and rewarded the Bears with a dominant year, racking up 8 ½ sacks and 15 tackles for a loss. Goldman played in and started 15 games and was a key reason why the Bears limited opposing rushers to four yards per carry, tied for the 10th-best average in the league. 

But while the Bears’ defensive line was certainly good, it wasn’t as good as it could’ve been. These words from Vic Fangio ring true for Hicks and Goldman:

“I think they all have a lot more to give to us than we’ve seen,” Fangio said. “And it’s our job to get them to improve and become even better players. That will be more important to us than anybody we can acquire between now and whenever our first game is. So, and I know it’s always sexy to talk between now and the first game, you know, who are you going to draft, who’s in free agency, etc., but we’ve got to get our so-called good players playing even better. And that will be critical.”

Hicks will enter Year 3 in Fangio’s scheme, while 2018 will be Goldman’s fourth. It’ll also be a critical year for Jonathan Bullard and Roy Robertson-Harris, who’ve flashed potential at times but haven’t been able to turn that into consistent success on the field. 

And that’s where we begin to look ahead to free agency and the draft. Is the Bears’ evaluation of Bullard -- their 2016 third-round pick -- positive enough to hand him a bigger role in 2018? That’s question No. 1 to answer, with No. 2 then being if the team should try to re-sign Mitch Unrein. 

It may be a bit risky to move forward with Bullard, given how popular Unrein was among the Bears’ defensive coaching staff. 

“He’s one of the glue guys on the defense and the team,” Fangio said last November. “Every team needs a few of those guys who are going to do everything right, full speed, hard and tough all the time, and that’s Mitch.”

Defensive line coach Jay Rodgers offered this up about Unrein back in October: “He allows those guys to play fast,” with “those guys” being Hicks and Goldman. 

Statistically, the 30-year-old Unrein doesn’t  jump off the page, but he did record a career high 2 ½ sacks in 2017. Perhaps there would be some benefits to continuity in the Bears’ base 3-4 defensive line.

Worth noting too is this position isn’t a huge need, given Unrein usually played between 40 and 55 percent of the Bears’ defensive snaps on a per-game basis last year. Keeping Unrein for a relatively low cap hit would make some sense, as opposed to testing free agency to replace him.

Jared Crick is coming off back surgery and an ineffective 2016; Dominique Easley is coming off his third torn ACL this decade; Frostee Rucker is in his mid-30’s. The Bears could look to pick a 3-4 defensive end in April, but that would be a pretty quick re-draft of the position and would be an indication they don’t think much of Bullard. This seems like a position where keeping the status quo is likely, save maybe for replacing John Jenkins with a different backup behind Goldman. 
 

Anthony Davis could be the lone torch-bearer for Chicago at All-Star weekend in 2020, and object of recruitment

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AP

Anthony Davis could be the lone torch-bearer for Chicago at All-Star weekend in 2020, and object of recruitment

There were no Lakers or Clippers in the 2018 All-Star Game, but Los Angeles was well-represented with plenty of homegrown talent, plenty of historians with Los Angeles ties and all the pageantry L.A. can provide.

Russell Westbrook, Paul George and James Harden are among the All-Stars who came home to put on the biggest show of entertainment the league has to offer, and the new format featuring captains LeBron James and Stephen Curry produced one of the most competitive finishes in recent All-Star history as the spectacle wasn’t lost on DeRozan, who plays for the conference-leading Toronto Raptors.

“It was a dream come true,” DeRozan said. “I’ll forever be a part of this, and to come out and be a starter in my hometown, it was a dream come true.”

With Chicago hosting the event in 2020, one wonders if the city or the Bulls will be as represented.

“What better time to do it than in Chicago?” Bulls rookie Lauri Markkanen said about his aspirations of being an All-Star sooner rather than later.

New Orleans’ Anthony Davis, to this point, is the only Chicagoan carrying the torch as an All-Star. For years, Chicago could claim their homegrown talent rivaled the likes of Los Angeles and New York, the self-proclaimed “Mecca”.

But now they’ve fallen behind in the way of star power, as Derrick Rose has gone from MVP to one of the biggest “what if” stories in modern-day sports. Jabari Parker was expected to be next in line but his future as a star is murky due to the same dreaded injury bug.

“I didn’t know that. But there’s a lot of great players (from Chicago),” Davis said Saturday during media availability. “Jabari is just coming back, Derrick is going through what he’s going through. That’s fine. D-Wade is getting older. We have a lot of great guys. Guys have been hurt, in D-Wade’s case he’s just getting up there in age now (laughs).”

Davis is arguably the league’s most versatile big man, keeping the New Orleans Pelicans afloat while DeMarcus Cousins is out with an Achilles injury. He’s had to watch the likes of George deal with free agent questions about the prospect of coming home to L.A., even after he was traded from Indiana to Oklahoma City in the offseason.

It still hasn’t stopped the chants from Lakers fans, panting after George in the hope he’ll be a savior of sorts. And even though his contract isn’t up for another few seasons, teams are lining up in the hope they can acquire him through free agency or trade.

It could very well be him getting the chants when the All-Star party comes to Chicago and he could be joined by the likes of Markkanen and Zach LaVine in the big game.

LaVine was in Los Angeles for the weekend and Markkanen opened eyes around the league with his showing in the rising stars game as well as the skills challenge.

Davis could wind up being the object of everyone’s affection and could find himself being recruited by the likes of LaVine.

Even though 2021 is a long way away, a guy can dream, right?

“I mean, I’m cool with a lot of dudes in the NBA. I feel like I’m a likeable guy,” LaVine told NBCSportsChicago.com about recruiting star players to the Bulls franchise. “I can talk about situations like that, it would be my first time being put in a position. It would be a little bit different but I think I can handle it.”

LaVine has his own contract situation to take care of this summer, being a restricted free agent but understands the Bulls’ salary cap position and their long-term goals.

“Yeah I think once the offseason comes and everybody settles down, and I’m comfortable, and I know the position I’ll be in,” LaVine said to NBCSportsChicago.com.

“I think we’ll start having those conversations because we want to get the franchise back to where it was, on that high plateau. That’s what it’s supposed to be.”

“I’m trying to solidify myself in the league to a certain degree. Once you start reaching those points you can talk to anybody to get to where you want to get to.”

LaVine attended several events over the weekend and shared the same space as several All-Stars in non-media settings. It’s easy to see why he would think he could have that affect with his peers.

Being careful about the rules on tampering, he said about a potential sit-down with Davis, “I would bring some Harold’s chicken to the meeting and we’ll be all good.”