Bulls

Frankie O: Who are you?

Frankie O: Who are you?

Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2010
2:55 PM

By Frankie O
CSNChicago.com

As Bears fans bask in the glow of Sundays domination of the Eagles, instead of giving me a ton of grief, they give me a ton and all ask the same question: What do I think of the Bears now? I dont believe that its because a bartenders opinion is going to seal the deal, but rather part of a larger quest. Besides the burning desire to learn oneself, there is always that need to define others. When it concerns the local heroes, this is always taken to a new level. The essence of any sports discussion, or in the bar read: argument, is the ability to clearly and accurately describe what we have witnessed and how it will affect the future. People want to know. Who am I? Or who I am? Those are two completely different questions! This was forever etched in our sports consciousness after one of the most famous melt-downs ever, the Dennis Green The Bears are who we thought they were! rant after a Monday night game in which his team had a melt-down and handed the Bears the game. While us fans found what he said, and especially how he said it, to be hysterical, it brought to the fore the questions that keep my bar lively.

This couldnt be more true than in the discussions of this years Bears. The two biggest faces, Jay and Lovie, and the team itself have been analyzed over and over. (Analyze This!) Ill start with Jay. After his heroes welcome upon his trade here, no one has endured more scorn since he began playing. Throwing an average of two picks a game will do that. But also its the demeanor thing. The public has a perception of how it wants its star quarterback to look, feel and PLAY like. Cutler so far, obviously, has been all over the road in his play. The thing that loses him support is that when discussing his play, he looks completely disinterested to the point of boredom. Doesnt he realize how serious this is? Why do you think Derek Anderson is taking so much heat for being caught smiling and laughing on the sideline Monday night while his team was getting hammered? For fans its just as important that you carry yourself as a winner as it is winning, well when youre losing anyway, if you win, do whatever you want. ALL is forgiven with winning. That the Bears are winning now, and hes playing very well, has brought some understanding or should I say acceptance to his personality quirks. He also earned points with his rant towards the officials, for sticking up for his teammates. Funny, not too long ago the same act would have been vilified around here not too long ago for him once again being petulant. This is the same Cutler, just one who seems to be figuring out his third offense in three years, and one who for the first time in his career is playing on a team with a defense that can make a difference.

Lovie is a fun one to discuss now. I havent felt the overwhelming support for him yet, and I find that a little puzzling. Heres a guy that was given a second chance in fans eyes. I did not come across a single person at the bar last year that thought that he should have been retained as coach. (Nor Jerry Angelo as G.M. for that matter.) That he has taken this opportunity and run with it is all to his credit. Defensive play is what he is known for and the defense is playing great. Being a leader that can right the ship is just as important, and his influence over the offense to change when it was needed cant be denied. But once again it gets to the perception thing. During the awfulness of the last three years, his even-keel demeanor, lack of anger and say nothing coach-speak made him the number one target of fans discussing what was wrong with the team. Some even considered him to have an above-it-all arrogance. Well now, during the good times, he has the perception of a calm cool leader. It cracks me up that as maddening as I sometimes found his behavior, especially during the last two years, to be, that he is EXACTLY the same right guy right now. How funny is that? How funny is it that I think that right now, he should be considered the coach of the year in the NFL?

So who are the Bears? I think that right now, they are one of the best teams in football. The win on Sunday made that statement for all to see. But as Jerry Glanville once pointed out, NFL stands for: Not for long! Anything can change in an instant. Thats why I found it very telling when discussing the aftermath of the game, everyone on the team said its all about next week and moving forward. Basking in the glow in this league will get you beat in a hurry and turn you into yesterdays news. (Or LAST weeks Sports Illustrated cover!) This team being focused on that is a good thing. They have a five game opportunity in front of them and its going to be fun to see how they respond. They are playing at a level that will let them play for a while and thats the point. For as I have reminded everyone who wanted to give me the needle for Sundays outcome, winning games in November only gives you a chance, winning games in January and February are what we all will remember, and tell us all we need to know. (Analyze That!) (Get it? A sequel reference. A sequel!)

Wendell Carter Jr., NBA Cares host court restoration event that honors slain teenager Darius Brown

carter-1031_1.jpg
USA TODAY

Wendell Carter Jr., NBA Cares host court restoration event that honors slain teenager Darius Brown

On Saturday NBA Cares, jr. NBA, EA Sports, Wendell Carter Jr., Complex and artist Hebru Brantley teamed up to renovate the  MetCalfePark basketball court in honor of slain teenager Darius Brown, who was fatally shot and killed on August 3, 2011. 

The court was re-designed with Brantley's FlyBoy character as the centerpiece.

The FlyBoy character represents “hope and optimism that makes people believe that no matter where they are from, no matter what their circumstances, anything is possible."

The event hosted by NBA Cares—and also a part of Complex Community Week—featured Wendell Carter Jr. conversing with the kids and helping "Slam Dunking Science Teacher "Jonathan Clark with an awesome dunking display for the kids. 

Metcalfe Park's (43rd State) new look is amazing and the FlyBoy image serves as the perfect image for the court.

As Hebru Brantley states, "FlyBoy is about taking flight and believing in yourself enough to reach your true potential."

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Bulls easily on your device.

On a mistake-filled afternoon, Javier Baez does what he does best and saves the Cubs

On a mistake-filled afternoon, Javier Baez does what he does best and saves the Cubs

Consider the Cubs’ starting middle infield in Saturday’s 6-5 win over the San Diego Padres to be comprised of two extremes. 

On one end of the spectrum was Addison Russell, who started at second base. Russell was doubled off second base on an Albert Almora line drive in the second inning — a ball hit hard enough where, had it fell in for a hit, he wouldn’t have scored. There was no spinning Russell drifting far enough off second base to be doubled up; it was simply bad baserunning. 

Russell, too, was thrown out at home on an Almora ground ball in the fourth inning. He appeared to lose a pop fly in the sun, too, which fell in for a double in the third inning. 

Manager Joe Maddon was willing to excuse the pop-up double — “The sun ball, there’s nothing you could do about that,” he said — but sounded frustrated with Russell’s far-too-frequent baserunning gaffes. 

“He’s gotta straighten some things out,” Maddon said. “He has to. There’s no question. I’m not going to stand here — he’s got to, we’ve talked about his baserunning in the past. 

“… The baserunning, there’s some things there — we’re making too many outs on the bases and we’re missing things on the bases that we can’t to be an elite team.”

Russell’s mistakes were part of a larger sloppy showing by both teams. As Cubs reliever Brandon Kintzler put it: “No lead was safe. It was really just who was going to survive and not make so many mistakes.”

Javier Baez ensured the Cubs would survive by not merely avoiding mistakes, but by coming up with two massive plays. 

Baez’s three-run home run in the fourth inning gave the Cubs’ the lead for good, and he fell a triple short of the cycle. He’s homered in consecutive games, and Maddon senses the 26-year-old is emerging from a slump that dropped his OPS to .853 after Wednesday’s game, his lowest mark since the small-sample-size landscape of mid-April. 

But it was Baez’s masterful tag in the bottom of the ninth inning that captured most of the attention around Wrigley Field, reminding everyone in the dugouts and stands just how incredible “El Mago” can be. 

Craig Kimbrel walked Wil Myers to lead off the bottom of the ninth inning, and after budding superstar Fernando Tatis Jr. inexplicably bunted (he popped out), Myers took off to steal second base. Kimbrel sailed a fastball high and inside, and Victor Caratini’s throw was well to the left of second base. Myers appeared to have the base stolen until Baez gloved the ball and rapidly snapped a tag onto Myers’ left leg:

”We needed a play made, and he made it,” first baseman Anthony Rizzo said. “It’s what he does.”

Baez’s home run increased the Cubs’ win expectancy by 35.7 percent; his tag on Myers upped it that mark from 83.3 percent to 96.5 percent. This is why the Cubs’ mantra, even when Baez is in a lull, is to let Javy be Javy. 

One player can’t carry a team forever — Baez had his best season as a pro in 2018, only to see the Cubs crash out of the Wild Card game, of course. But it’s hard to not think about the kind of plays Baez can conjure up when the Cubs need them the most in 2019’s playoff race. 

After all, stuff like that tag on Myers — the Cubs have come to expect that from Baez. 

“You saw a lot of plays today, they weren’t baseball plays,” Maddon said. “The game is clamoring for baseball players who know how to play this game, and he’s one. He is one. He’s got the biggest hard drive, the most RAM, he’s got everything going on every day. 

“He sees things, he’s got great vision. Technically, he’s a tremendous baseball player. He’s going to make some mistakes, like everyone else does, but what he sees and sees in advance — it’s like the best running back, it’s the best point guard you’ve ever seen. It’s all of that. As a shortstop, that’s what he is.

“… We needed him to be that guy today and he was. And again, it’s not overtly surprising.”