Random News of the Day: Errors, NFL book smarts

Random News of the Day: Errors, NFL book smarts

Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2010
3:14 PM

By Joe Collins

Four Errors & 24 Years Ago: September 14, 1986 may not strike a chord with people that follow sports milestones, but if you're a fan of baseball (and in particular, someone who knows Bob Brenly), you will know that on this date, the former San Francisco Giant --and current Cubs broadcaster of course-- committed four errors in the same inning. He then made up for the errors in a most memorable way. Comcast SportsNet will take an in-depth look at one of the more ironic days in baseball history during tomorrows (Wednesdays) SportsNite at 10pm. Luke Stuckmeyer reports.

Number Of The Day (25,471): It might not seem like a big deal, but Northwestern's football home opener drew 25,471 fans against Illinois State. That's good! Thing is, that figure was actually UP more than 40 percent increase over last year's home opener. That's bad (for last years case, anyway). The 25,471 figure is without most of the general student population, as fall classes begin September 21st. That's good! But the 25,471 is still a fraction of attendance at most other Big 10 football games. That's bad.

(jumping up onto soapbox)

It's time to get out to Ryan Field, folks. Pat Fitzgerald has done an incredible job in getting his team to compete at a consistently high level. This team is consistently going to bowl games (try saying that 20 years ago). They are poised to strike again this year with QB Dan Persa at the controls. The defense is solid. Ryan Field is just off the CTA Purple Line. The ticket prices are far below the rest of the Big 10 average. Seriously...what is taking so long? Northwestern is Chicago's college football team, folks. Let's get out there and watch some quality football.
NFL Book Smarts: If you didn't know what NFL Rule 8, Section 1, Article 3, Item 1 of the NFL Rule Book was before this weekend's Bears game --or if you were forced to watch 40 hours of the Lifetime Channel from Sunday afternoon until now-- you should know it know. It states that...

if a player goes to the ground in the act of catching a pass (with or without contact with an opponent), he must maintain control of the ball after he touches the ground, whether in the field of play or the end zone. If he loses control of the ball, and the ball touches the ground before he regains control, the pass is incomplete. If he regains control prior to the ball touching the ground, the pass is complete.

...just ask Calvin Johnson of the Lions. His fourth quarter catch-that-really-wasn't put the exclamation mark on a Bears 19-14 victory over on Sunday. This rule has been the subject of frequent water cooler debates ever since. How about we add some more rules? I have a few:

Rule 56, Section 11, Article 8: If a member of the Dallas Cowboys offensive line gathers more than two (2) holding penalties in the fourth quarter of a nationally televised game when fantasy football points are on the line, his contract shall be promptly and efficiently fed into an IntelliShred PC55 CrossCut 1000.

Rule 11, Section 15, Article 6, Item 4, Addendum 5b: If any "player" insists on dancingstrutting after a touchdown, a tackle for loss or pivotal block when down by more than 20 points, they have to dancestrut in the spirit of one of the gas station workers in Billy Joel's "Uptown Girl" video.

Rule 9, Section 5, Article 1, Item 1, Paragraph 2: If a player of "defender" rips the head off a member of the offense or opposition, the "defender" must wait until the "Not Going Anywhere For A While?" voice over is heard throughout the stadium. "Defender" can then chew on Snickers bar immediately afterward.

OK...maybe scratch that last one. But still, the other three should fix a few minor annoyances.

Or something like that.

Cubs refuse to push the panic button on inconsistent offense

Cubs refuse to push the panic button on inconsistent offense

Any time the Cubs offense scuffles, there's always a dichotomy between the fanbase and the clubhouse.

Many fans believe the sky is falling while inside the home clubhouse at Wrigley Field, the Cubs continue to stay the course and try with all their might not to ride the roller coaster of the season.

That's especially true right now, with the wounds from last season's second-half offensive breakdown still fresh. 

It's easy to sweep a slump under the rug after a four-game series against the Dodgers in L.A., but the lineup issues came to a head Tuesday night at Wrigley Field when the Cubs faced the pitcher with the second-worst qualified ERA in baseball (Ivan Nova) and managed just 1 run — on the first pitch of the game, no less. 

Yet the Cubs insisted there was no panic inside the clubhouse about the cold bats and to a man, they talked about simply riding the wave and waiting for things to break their way.

So naturally, the Cubs came out Wednesday night and battered around the American League ERA leader Lucas Giolito thanks to a barrage of homers — including Willson Contreras' first-inning grand slam. Contreras' second homer of the night made him the fifth different Cub to reach 15 dingers this season (no other MLB team had more than three players eclipse the 15-homer threshold).

Still, the Cubs know they need to get the offense on a more consistent trajectory and find ways to score beyond just the longball.

"We have to be able to somehow find enough runs to win a game like [Tuesday]," Joe Maddon said. "That's where the run [of wins] is. We have to win some games where your pitching isn't as good that night and we have to score one more. And then when our pitching is that good, we have to score two or three. We just have to be able to do that in order to get on that run."

Wednesday's Contreras-led offensive explosion marked the first time in a week that the Cubs had scored more than 3 runs, but again, much of that was due to facing the Dodgers, owners of the best pitching staff in the NL.

After Tuesday night's loss, Maddon and the Cubs took solace in the fact that they didn't expand the zone too much or get themselves out. They only struck out 5 times against Nova and the White Sox bullpen.

"It's a long season," said David Bote, who homered Wednesday night after not starting Tuesday's game. "It's hard to not be caught up in a couple game stretch where it's not falling. But a lot of hard hits; we're not chasing out of the zone. 

"[We know we can't] push a panic button and stress. If you do that, then all of a sudden you start spiraling even more. You trust it and if there's nothing crazy wrong with what our approach is or anything like that, you just find a way to get runs in and get on a nice little hot streak and roll with it."

The Cubs began the season firing on all cylinders offensively, but cracks have started to show in the foundation over the last few weeks as their season record fell to 39-33 after Tuesday's loss.

They're not going to the opposite field with enough authority and situational hitting (or "opportunity hitting," as coach Anthony Iapoce calls it) is still a problem area — the Cubs woke up Wednesday morning with the worst batting average with runners in scoring position (.243) in the NL.

Maddon talked at length about the Cubs' situational hitting before Wednesday's game and was blunt in his assessment:

"We gotta start figuring those moments out," he said. "We were good coming out of the shoot, I thought, and then we've gotten away from it. We've just gotta get back to that moment. There's still time to be able to do that. But that also speaks to why our record is as pedestrian as it is."

But why has the offense taken a turn for the worse after such a hot start? Much like the "broken' stretch in the last couple months of 2018, the Cubs can't really put a finger on it.

"I don't have a strong answer to that," Maddon said. "It's guys in the moment in the game situation and we just have to continually remind them to stay [in the middle of the field and not try to pull the ball.] That's it. It's one of those things to remind. Our guys are definitely capable of readjusting back to that. ... We just have to go out there and get 'er done."

Baseball Night in Chicago Podcast: Cubs look to even the Crosstown series with a win


Baseball Night in Chicago Podcast: Cubs look to even the Crosstown series with a win

Ozzie Guillén and Doug Glanville join Leila Rahimi on a special Crosstown edition of Baseball Night in Chicago.

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