Cubs

You're Talking, But You're Not Saying Anything

You're Talking, But You're Not Saying Anything

Friday, Jan. 15, 2010
12:54 a.m.

I dont know why the Talking Heads came into my head as I watched the Bob Costas interview of Mark McGwire, but they did. Same as it ever was? Upon hearing the news on Monday afternoon, I was like, whatever, and moved on with the rest of my day. Honestly, do I really need to watch? That night as I was lying in bed and flipping through the channels, I found myself watching the MLB network and its coverage of the interview and its aftermath. I was riveted. I watched it all, TWICE! It was as compelling as it was revealing into this mess. Where did that come from? As I have written here many times, Ive become, like many Ive talked to at the bar, numb to all of the baseball steroid talk. Ive moved on. Still as much as I didnt want to watch, I couldnt stop. Unfortunately, my love of baseball and the perpetrators of this continued farce, wont let me not pay attention. They wont because they think that if they recite a mantra often enough, that everyones supposed to believe it. In this, the day of the scripted apology, weve seen enough that we all understand the playbook. Whether its a politician, athlete or any other person of social prominence, they say theyre sorry, show remorse and promise not to do it again, lets move on.

You would think its pretty simple. But of course lawyers being lawyers, they always want to see what level they can take it to. (You can make your own interpretation of whether that level is up or down!) I have no doubt in my mind, nor does anyone else that I talk to at the bar, that McGwire was lawyerd-up and came upon a new type of coaching. Although I found his raw emotion and inner turmoil to be very real and heart felt, it was off-set by the fact that what he was saying, for the most part, was very vague and unbelievable. Ill start with the fact that he seemed fixated on the premise that he could do this and move on quite easily. What? Maybe if it was about him, but he doesnt get it, its about way more, always has been. But I got this feeling that he was thinking, I said it! All right? There! Can I go now? Sound familiar? Thought so. I think its incredibly naive or arrogant or both that he thinks he can control how this is all going to play out. His story is going to last for more than a while, I think.

Also, if this was not scripted, how could one of the smartest men on TV, and a baseball fan of the highest order, not get specific about the roids? When he asked McGwire how long he took them, the response was ten years. Then when asked what he had taken, the response was, I dont know. Really? You took drugs off and on for TEN years and you dont know what they were? Then how did you know what or how much to take? That would seem like a logical follow-up question. Bob? Bob? Hello? Or, how about, Where did you get them? That ones simple. These two questions also would provide the insight into the fact that he repeatedly said that the people that knew him the best in the world had no idea. Family? Maybe. I could understand them not asking or not wanting to know, but LaRussa? Seriously? A man who depended on your performance and who was around you for most of your adult life had no idea?

Then there is the part where he repeatedly talked about the steroids not having an affect on his abilities as a player and what he was able to do, that he used them to be able to heal from injury faster and be able to play. He said that he hit homeruns all of my life and could do it with or without them. They did not enhance his ability. All right, say you are right, although not one other person Ive heard in the last 4 days would agree, especially players, but wouldnt the fact that you were able to play, when youre saying you otherwise would not have been able to do so, enable you to set cumulative records? You know, like the single season homerun record? How do you consider your number to be legit when you say you used enhancers to enable you to play? Im waiting for the answer to that question.

As always, how can you say steroids in baseball without saying, Bud Selig. The commish put his usual goofy spin on it by saying that he was pleased by McGwires confession and that it should make Marks reentry into the game more smooth and easy. What? Wheres the shock and outrage? Did you know about this before? Why didnt you just shove your hands in your pants pockets, like when your other monstrous creation, Barry Bonds set the all-time homerun record? I worry myself when I find that loon Jose Conseco to be the guiding light in all of this mess. As usual, Jose has something to add, and he says that Selig knew all along. At this point who could dispute him? Will he be this approving when Bonds and Hippity-Hoppity come clean? Will he welcome them back with open arms? (After he takes them out of his pockets!) Somewhere, Kennisaw Landis is spinning!

Another one of the things that has me baffled is the timing. How about you Bud? Steroid conversation right on top of the Hall of Fame announcement? Is it just me, or does that just make this all the more unseemly? 5 days after Andre Dawson finds out he is going to be enshrined, we have this? Hey Mark? Do you think the roids would have helped Andres chronically injured knees? Or, did the fact that he played through the pain and limitations to be a shining example, make him a Hall of Famer? When I picked up this weeks USA TODAYS SPORTS WEEKLY, was the new inductee on the cover, as many in the past have been? Nope. Steroid boy was. Is that good for baseball Bud? Are you pleased by McGwires reentry into the national sports media? No sense in having the media fawn on Dawson for a few weeks is there? Does Dawson need this? I cant wait for his speech. Think hell have a few respect for the game comments? Wheres Barry Rosner?!

I think, what this gets down to is, once again, we are being told that we are being told the truth when its not. What I dont understand is that they truly believe that they can get away with it. Do I think McGwire is a bad guy? No, for the most part I dont, I hear from many people that hes a good guy. But, he did do something that we all know is wrong. The point is, the cover-up usually gets you in more trouble than the crime. Not entirely true with a crime of this magnitude, but close enough. Just come clean and you really will be set free. The half-truths and downplaying of what happened are only making it worse. Or more to the point, making Consecos claim that steroid use was institutional, more plausible by the day.

Cubs Talk Podcast: Where do Cubs go from here down 0-2 in NLCS?

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Where do Cubs go from here down 0-2 in NLCS?

Patrick Mooney and Tony Andracki analyze the Cubs' sub-optimal position in the NLCS, down two games to none to the Dodgers with a lack of offense and a struggling bullpen.

Plus, what was Joe Maddon thinking with his lineup and bullpen decisions in the first two games of the series? And what is really going with Wade Davis?

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below:

Two reasons why the Bears could finally start stacking wins

Two reasons why the Bears could finally start stacking wins

The Bears winning a road game against a perennial playoff contender, one with a winning record coming in – that’s great.

Winning in Baltimore with a rookie quarterback in only his second NFL appearance – that’s terrific.

Generating more takeaways than giveaways and netting points from them – that’s just outstanding.

And now what?

Because too often under John Fox the Bears have posted a victory and failed to have it mean much of anything because of what followed a week later – a largely self-inflicted loss. The Bears have not posted consecutive wins since midway through the 2015 season, and even then proceeded to unravel on by squandering opportunities sitting squarely within their grasp.

Why should this time be any different? Because if it’s not, and the Bears again fail to stack even one win on top of another, then a dominating performance against the Baltimore Ravens (leaving out special teams, which surrendered in two plays more points than the defense did in 14 entire Baltimore possessions) becomes another meaningless afternoon in the overall for a team determined to reinvent itself.

Coaches typically divide seasons mentally into quarters, and clearly in Fox’s mind, Sunday was part of a different quarter from the 1-3 first quarter. “Really it takes almost four games, it’s almost like the preseason anymore, where you kind of get it figured out,” Fox said. “So just developing that confidence, usually good things have to happen to gain that confidence. And we did some good things.”

But the Bears have done “some good things” in games past and it becomes much ado about nothing, sound and fury signifying less than nothing. So again: Why should this time be any different?

Two reasons, actually. Neither absolute, but neither very complicated, either.

Reason No. 1: Trubisky

Without making too much out of one individual player, the chief reason arguably lies in the person of Mitchell Trubisky, a quarterback who already has palpably changed the psyche of a previously languishing team.

“The team didn’t make nearly as many mental errors this week because of his patience,” said wide receiver Kendall Wright, who supported Trubisky with a leaping catch of 18 yards to set up the game-winning field goal.

Unlike Mike Glennon, Matt Barkley, Brian Hoyer and 2016 Jay Cutler, each of whom won one game and one game only over the past 22, Trubisky delivered the ball security of Hoyer with added impact that none of his predecessors did manage, or arguably even could have managed.

Put simply, the Bears do in fact have a quarterback who even at this point appears able not only to make plays as drawn up, but also to create something out of nothing or at least avert catastrophe.

“Mitch made some great plays,” Fox said. “I mean, if you look at the snap over his head in the end zone, there’s probably only five or six or seven quarterbacks in this league that could get out of that. I go back to the touchdown pass to Dion [Sims, tight end]. He flushed [from the pocket], we adjusted and he dropped a dime in the end zone for a touchdown. And the play obviously at the end where more than likely if we don’t get that, we’re probably punting, the play he made to Kendall. I think Mitch played outstanding… .

“Those are really good decisions. It beats six interceptions, for sure. There’s a 3rd-and-3 play in the red area, low red, sprint out to our left. It wasn’t all perfect but he did the next best thing and that’s throw it away. So those are really, really good decisions that I think sometimes the casual or un-casual fan does not see.”

The noteworthy element in Trubisky’s game was the impact achieved by a Bears quarterback who completed all of eight passes. The reality is that Trubisky doesn’t need to attempt more than 20 passes a game (including the four sacks his protection allowed, which absolutely needs to be fixed).

For perspective purposes: Ben Roethlisberger in his first two seasons averaged 17.4 and 15.9 passes per game. The Pittsburgh Steelers reached the AFC Championship game and won the Super Bowl in those two seasons, running an offense that was just short of 60 percent runs.

Reason No. 2: Mistake reduction

A mistaken notion as to how improvement happens is the belief that it comes from just getting better and better, skill sets rising to the loftiest heights.

Not necessarily. Anyone who has had the good fortune of working their golf handicap down knows that the stroke reductions come less from suddenly adding 30 yards to drives or developing a draw on a 200-yard three-iron, than from eliminating the fluffed pitch shots, the approach shots pushed into traps, the drives into the woods. Cut down the mistakes and good things happen.

So it is with the Bears, who effectively lost the Minnesota game by allowing a 58-yard TD run by Jerick McKinnon, and sealed it with a poor Trubisky pass on a possession with a chance to tie or win. They lost the Atlanta game simply by dropping passes. They aren’t as good as the Green Bay Packers – at least not until Trubisky reaches full extension and proves to be a challenge to Aaron Rodgers.

But only in the Atlanta near-miss did they self-destruct with fewer penalties (four) than they did at Baltimore (five). Sunday was the first time since Atlanta that they threw zero interceptions. And the defense limited the Ravens to three third-down conversions out of 18, one indicator of fewer breakdowns on the most important down.

“As long as we eliminate those mistakes that we’ve been making,” Fox said, “we’re gonna be right there going into the end of the game.”

The Bears have had positive spikes in the past and then collapsed; even after winning three of four in late 2015, the inept home losses to San Francisco and Washington were arguably a tipping point in the Fox era.

The point next Sunday against Carolina is to determine if the Bears are through with their one-and-done ways.