White Sox

Cardinals not the only Bears hurdle in Arizona


Cardinals not the only Bears hurdle in Arizona

To their credit, members of the Bears defense have pretty well stayed the loyal course this season as their offense has effectively turned a playoff gimme into NFL survival-reality TV in which the Bears no longer control their own post-season destiny.
But the frustration issue is there and can still fester and split the Bears without a turnaround.
I think thats a question you have to ask me at the end of the year, said linebacker Lance Briggs. We win these next two games, and we get into the playoffs, and make a run That question is hard to answer right now.
The fact that it is, is an answer in itself.
We just focus on what weve got to do, said defensive tackle Henry Melton, likely out of Sundays game with a chest injury that has him listed as doubtful. When were out there, we dont really focus on what the offense is doing. Its always great when you hear the crowd go crazy and they put up points, but we play versus the other teams defense. Were trying to outplay them. Thats what we go into the game trying to do.
Low-impact offense
The Chicago offense will have its problems with a very good Arizona defense. Indeed, this may be a game decided by whichever defense outscores the other.
The Arizona Cardinals do not do anything especially well when they have possession of the football one of the few offenses worse than the Bears at this point of the 2012 season.
They dont run well (32nd, 80 yards per game). They dont pass well (30th, 184.2 ypg.). Best of all for the Bears purposes: They dont score (16 ppg., 30th).
The Bears have not lost to an offense ranked lower than 17th in scoring (Minnesota).
All of this has gone down with a coach (Ken Whisenhunt) from the offensive side of the football, the Pittsburgh offensive coordinator when the Steelers reached the AFC Championship (2004) and won a Super Bowl (2005) and who coached the Cardinals to the 2008 Super Bowl.
Whisenhunts Cardinals opened the 2012 season with four straight wins in which they scored no fewer than 20 points. Then came nine straight losses in which they scored 20 in none, bottoming out with a 7-6 loss to the New York Jets and 58-0 pasting by the Seattle Seahawks, both on the road.
Weve had our share of injuries, and have had to play different players, and I think thats contributed to where we are, Whisenhunt said. Certainly, continuity is a big part of it for us.
Troubled position
So are problems at quarterback, where Whisenhunt is on his third different starter (Kevin Kolb, John Skelton, Ryan Lindley) and now is faced with salvaging something from the season with Lindley, a sixth-round pick in this years draft.
Lindley has started four of the last five games and been woeful: 45.0 passer rating, sacked 10 times, thrown six interceptions and is yet to throw a touchdown pass. The best thing he may have going for him is that the Bears havent seen a lot of him.
We prepare for the quarterback position,said coach Lovie Smith. It hurts you if youre playing an option team or something like that, but when youre playing a prototype NFL quarterback, most of them are in the same area.
Arizona has failed to convert at least 30 percent of third downs in eight of its 14 games and are converting a league-worst 25.6 percent. The Cardinals are the only team worse than the Bears on first downs (4.2 yards).
The clear implication is that the Bears defense is being presented with a chance to get healthy, literally and figuratively. The Cardinals have lost time of possession in six of the last seven games, which bodes well for a defense that has overall played well but needs to have something in its tank to get past the Lions in Detroit next weekend.
We have to build on things weve done well, Briggs said. And defensively weve made some plays. Weve done some good things. We need to have more consistency in some of the things we wanted to do. But we know how were going to approach this game.

Ken Williams says White Sox have transitioned to a more aggressive role: 'We're looking at all possibilities now'


Ken Williams says White Sox have transitioned to a more aggressive role: 'We're looking at all possibilities now'

LAS VEGAS — When the White Sox embarked on their rebuild at the Winter Meetings two years ago with the trades of Chris Sale and Adam Eaton, this was an offseason that couldn’t come soon enough: The transition from sell mode to buy mode.

Last winter, they remained on the sidelines, patiently waiting for their time to arrive: “We expect things to be a lot more interesting a year from now,” Rick Hahn said last year in Orlando.

Here we are one year later, in Las Vegas of all places, and the White Sox are angling to hit the jackpot by signing a big-name free agent who could take the franchise to the next level.

“We transitioned from the sell mode of years past now to a more aggressive role, and we’re looking at all possibilities now,” White Sox executive vice president Ken Williams said Monday. “We’re trying to build it back up. We’re still probably a year away from bringing the bulk of our prospects into the fold, but the opportunities that present themselves now warrant us dipping our foot in the water, seeing if we can accelerate that.”

The two big-name free agents who fit that description are Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. Even with one of the best farm systems in baseball and a few of their top young players already in the majors, signing either one of these two perennial All Stars would plant a giant flag at Guaranteed Rate Field, signaling to the rest of the baseball world that the White Sox mean business.

How important would it be for the White Sox to have a face-of-the-franchise type player who could not only bring victories to the win column but more fans to the ballpark?

“If it’s a guy who can play and the right guy and he fits economically into today and tomorrow, then I think it’s a great thing. The answer is obvious,” Williams said. “If you develop people or you acquire people who fans like and will come out and want to see, that even helps the cause to a greater degree because, what does it do? It gives you more revenue, it gives you more resources that you can then try to improve the team even more.”

How much will the White Sox be able to improve the team this winter? That’s a big question mark. Signing free agents is a two-way street. The White Sox can easily sell their future. Most White Sox fans have bought in from the very beginning, but Williams says the team has some heavy lifting ahead to fully cement their faith in the rebuild.

“It’s building, but ultimately, you’ve got to prove it to White Sox fans,” Williams said. “We know that, and that’s what we’re setting out to try to do. We’re trying to earn their patience. It takes a while sometimes.”

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Emotional Harold Baines remembers his dad on first day as Hall of Famer: 'I played the game for him'

Emotional Harold Baines remembers his dad on first day as Hall of Famer: 'I played the game for him'

LAS VEGAS — Harold Baines was famous during his playing days for being a man of few words and a man of few outward displays of emotion.

But that changed, even if only briefly, on the day he was introduced as one of the newest members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

When asked who was most happy and most proud of this accomplishment, Baines mentioned his family, finally getting to his father, who passed away three years ago. Baines let the tears flow as he called his dad "my hero."

Baines talked with our Chuck Garfien after his press conference and elaborated on his feelings, talking about his relationship with his dad and his dad's relationship with the game.

"It's hard (to talk about him)," Baines said. "It's very hard. I think I played the game for him, because he couldn't. He was born too early. So I always felt I played the game for him. I love the game, but it didn't mean that much to me like it did to him.

"I was fortunate enough to get drafted, and I just said, 'I'm playing for him.'"

Coming from Baines, the show of emotion was a rarity. But he revealed that that's something he got from his dad, too, along with his love of the game.

"He didn't show emotion," he said. "I know he was proud."

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