Bears

Is football worth the damage?

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Is football worth the damage?

I'm beginning to wonder if playing the game of football is worth the long term effects it seems to be having on those that have been a part of the game.

Why are so many former players taking their own lives or apparently struggling emotionally to live a normal life?

In the last few months I 've seen two former teammates from the University of Arizona die. The first to pass away was a great offensive lineman in both college and the NFL. His post career was filled with pain medications and alcohol.

He eventually secluded himself from the outside world and from my understanding never could overcome the physical pain the years of playing the game had inflicted upon him. His body finally failed him in the fall.

Most recently, another college teammate died of a heart attack. He also struggled after never realizing his potential following a short NFL career. He spent the last part of his life as a physical trainer, and some suspect he was pumping his body with supplements before being found dead this past winter.

The hardest to see are the guys like Junior Seau. The ones that are taking their own lives. I played against Junior Seau in college and can tell you he was the most dominant players I ever competed against. Our senior year we literally ran every play away from him. We still lost.

Is the physical pounding to the head actually too much to take over long periods of time? We hear the stories of guys like former Bears great Dave Duerson and can't help but wonder how much damage is really being done.

Why is it that sports like football, hockey and boxing are seeing so many cases of depression, suicide or other psychological issues?

I'm not going to try and play the role of doctor, but when I talk to guys in their forties who are having problems bending over to put their socks on, suffering financial losses, or simply live everyday in pain, it just doesn't seem worth it.

Sports Talk Live Podcast: How much will Trubisky improve in his 2nd preseason game?

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USA TODAY

Sports Talk Live Podcast: How much will Trubisky improve in his 2nd preseason game?

Mark Carman, Scott Merkin and Chris Bleck join Kap on the panel. Jon Lester looks to get back on track against the Pirates? Should he still be the Cubs Game 1 starter in the playoffs?  Len Kasper joins Kap to discuss.

 

How much will Mitch Trubisky improve in his 2nd preseason game? And will Carlos Rodon end up being the White Sox’ best starter?

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

A stellar Jon Lester outing gives the Cubs more than just a win

A stellar Jon Lester outing gives the Cubs more than just a win

It's been a tale of two halves for the Cubs veteran Jon Lester, who after a sparkling first half of baseball that saw him win 12 games with a 2.58 ERA, has looked nothing like a 2018 All-Star. Prior to Thursday's start, Lester had posted a 10.32 ERA, allowed 4 or more runs in 4 of his 5 most recent starts, and had yet to win a game in the second of the season. 

The 34-year-old veteran flipped the script Thursday night, throwing 6-shutout innings while striking out 8 Pirate batters in the Cubs 1-0 win in Pittsburgh. Lester surrendered only 5 hits and baffled the Pirates all-night, finally busting out of his slump and giving the Cubs his 2nd quality start since the All-Star break. 

Lester attacked the bottom portion of the strike zone all night with his fastball, which topped out at 93 mph, generating 4 whiffs with his heater. Over the last month, Lester has said he's felt he can't quite execute his "out" pitches, explaining that when he has a hitter set up for a strikeout he hasn't been able to throw the ball effectively in those moments. 

And while Lester walked off the mound after the 6th inning amassing 8 punch outs, the veteran starter never looked like he was trying to strike out batters. He just continued to dot the corners, occasionally raise the eye-level of the batter with an elevated heater, and threw his secondary pitches just enough to keep the Pittsburgh batters uncomfortable at the plate. 

The Cubs offense once again struggled, facing Ivan Nova who has won four his last five starts against the Cubs, but Ian Happ's solo shot in the 4th inning was enough run support for Lester to push the Cubs to 20 games over .500. But the biggest takeaway from Thursday night's win isn't that the Cubs came out on top, it's that Jon Lester returning to form gives this Chicago rotation something they've lacked seemingly this entire season. 

Stability at the front of the rotation. 

With Cole Hamels impressive three starts in a Cub uniform and Kyle Hendricks finally figuring out his issues on the mound, if Jon Lester can replicate Thursday's performance throughout the rest of the season, the Cubs rotation may finally turn into the strength many thought it could be before the season started. At the very least, Lester showed that whatever he's been working through over the last month of baseball is fixable. 

It's only one start in a string of poor outings for Lester, and while The Athletic's Sahadev Sharma did find some positives in his starts prior to Thursday's big win, Lester will have to show he can maintain this level of pitching through the remainder of this season. But I think our own Tony Andracki put it best tonight on Twitter. 

With the Cubs pitchers finally starting to perform to their expected level, and the return of Yu Darvish looking closer each day, it could be the Cubs starting pitching that carries through the rest of the season.