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.

Bears to hold joint training camp practices with Broncos this summer

Bears to hold joint training camp practices with Broncos this summer

The Bears will reunite with former defensive coordinator Vic Fangio in Denver this summer, as word broke Monday the Broncos will host Matt Nagy and Co. for joint training camp practices in advance of their preseason game in August.

The Chicago Tribune's Brad Biggs confirmed the news on Twitter.

This is the second time Denver will welcome the Bears for training camp sessions. The two teams held joint practices back in 2018.

Training camp won't be the first time the Bears will see Fangio since his departure last offseason. Chicago pulled off a last-second victory over the Broncos in Week 2 of the 2019 season when kicker Eddy Pineiro booted a 53-yard game-winner as time expired in the fourth quarter. His kick was set up by the clutch version of Mitch Trubisky, who connected on a 25-yard pass to Allen Robinson on the play before Pineiro's conversion.

Fangio left a lasting impact during his time as the Bears defensive coordinator that reached its peak in 2018 when Chicago was widely regarded as the most ferocious defense in the league. The Bears finished third in yards allowed per game and ended the season with the top run defense. Their 27 interceptions were tops in the NFL, too.

Behind a refined approach, Albert Almora Jr. is off to a hot start this spring

Behind a refined approach, Albert Almora Jr. is off to a hot start this spring

The Cubs have only played three spring training games, and it’s dangerous to use spring results to predict regular season successes/failures. Still, it’s okay to acknowledge Albert Almora Jr.’s hot start in camp.

In two games, Almora is 4-for-4 with a walk, double, home run, four RBIs, and four runs scored. That line is essentially equivalent to a single game in the regular season and could be turned upside down by the end of the week. But it’s a start for the 25-year-old who’s struggled immensely at the plate for the last season-and-a-half at the plate.

In his last 177 games (dating back to the second half of 2018), Almora holds a .235/.270/.347 slash line. The advanced stats paint an uglier picture: 58 wRC+, .261 wOBA and 52.2 percent groundball rate.

Last season was the most challenging of Almora’s young career. He hit .236/.271/.381 in 130 games with a 64 wRC+, .271 wOBA, -0.7 fWAR (all career worsts). On top of that, he was involved in a heartbreaking moment early in the season; an Almora foul ball struck a young girl at Minute Maid Park during a Cubs-Astros game in May.

Almora recently refused to blame his 2019 offensive woes on that incident, though it obviously played a part. He did admit he was in a bad place mentally and used this winter to decompress. Almora also used it to make some adjustments to his swing and the changes are clear as day:

Pre-2020:

2020:

As MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian notes, Almora is now more upright in the box and his stance is more closed. His leg kick is less defined, and he’s rotating his front leg far less than previous seasons. In short, he’s more direct to his swing and has more time to react in the box because he cut out a lot of his pre-swing movements.

Almora said Monday he’s far from where he wants to be, pointing out the MLB season is a 200-day marathon. It’s too early to tell whether his simplified approach leads to sustainable success.

Small sample size be damned, Almora’s made noticeable adjustments. That’s the first step in his mission to get back on track offensively.

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