Super Sunday! Super Memories!!

Super Sunday! Super Memories!!

Friday, Feb. 5, 2010
7:30 AM

Time for my favorite holiday: Super Bowl Sunday. Honestly, does it get any bettor? Oops, Freudian slip, I mean better. Besides Thanksgiving, is there any other day of celebration that we all can agree on? And, theres no tryptophan haze to deal with. Not to mention, for some folks, its not a mandatory family holiday, so many awkward situations, like with Uncle Tommy, can be avoided. Just food, friends and football.

Its the one day of the year that for most of my life, I can remember exactly where I was and what happened that day. (Forget about birthdays. Too many!) My first memory goes back to Super Bowl IV. I just remember part of that game though, it would be years later when I would realize the joy of just keep matriculating the ball downfield boys! and what the 65 toss power trap was. My first full-game memory is of Super Bowl V and Jim OBriens kick to beat the Cowboys. Even as a 9 year old, it was fun to watch Dallas lose, and almost forty years later, its still fun. Good times.

The game with my first official rooting interest was Super Bowl XI when the Raiders beat the Vikings. In my neighborhood, since the Eagles where awful for all of our young lives, guys would pick other teams to root for in the playoffs. Nearly all of them rooted for the Dolphins and Steelers, convenient for them, since those two teams won four consecutive championships. Of course I took a more tortured course (REALLY?!) and rooted for the Oakland Raiders. The Immaculate Reception game against Pittsburgh was especially tough. To fight the whole game and finally take a lead and then lose on a fluke 4th and 10 play with 22 seconds left was hard to take, especially knowing the ribbing I would take at school the next day. (An 11 year old has his priorities!) It only took 4 more long years until the Raiders had their revenge and won the Super Bowl. (The day after that Super Bowl, I could not wait to get to school!) It was made better by the fact that my parents took me to my first NFL game that year and I got to watch the Raiders pound the Eagles 26-7. I think that the fact that the first time I saw the Eagles in-person I was rooting against them explains a lot about me, what I dont know but Im sure that you can figure it out!

The next game of major significance for me was January 25, 1981. Eagles vs. Raiders! Do the ironies in my life ever stop?! Dick Vermeil coming to the Eagles was the start of a golden age of Philadelphia football in which the Eagles actually had 4 consecutive winning seasons and won 3 playoff games! To understand the implications of that statement, I suggest that you que your Netflix to INVINCIBLE and enjoy the show! For some reason, back then, you could not buy mass quantities of liquid refreshments on Sundays in Pennsylvania, so a venture over the Commodore Barry to New Jersey was required. We were on our way back over when Jaworski threw the first of his three picks to Rod Martin in their personal game of catch. Ugh. That was a long night, most of the other problems in the world where solved though. We had a lot of refreshments! (And another thing!)

Like the rest of the country, Philadelphia was caught up in Bears fever during the 85 season. That was a team of which no one has seen the likes of which before or since. That they put a 44-0 beat down on Americas Team made them even bigger in our eyes. But there was something else that made these Bears a fan favorite. I got to explain this to Steve Mongo McMichael at a Cubs-Phillies game this past summer. Noticing that he shot a razor glare at me because I was in a Cub fan V.I.P. area wearing a Phillies jersey, I couldnt help being myself when we were introduced. You know we loved your 85 team in Philly, I told him. You guys liked our personality? he asked wearing a satisfied smile. Nope. Not that. I replied, It was cover, cover, cover! You guys were a lock! Thats why everyone in the rest of the country loved you! He didnt seem to like that much and the smile went away. Too busy still living in 1985 I guess. Oh well, it is what it is. (One note: The house party I was at the night of that game lasted well into the next morning. Can you say parlay?)

Over the next 20 years, just about all of the games included me working or being with people that I got off of work early to watch with. The day has evolved from just a house party day to a party day. In the eighties and early nineties, Super Bowl Sunday, meant a slow work night for us in the restaurant business. No more, especially since I began working at 33 West Kinzie Street almost 15 years ago. In fact, I moved to Chicago on Super Bowl weekend exactly 15 years ago. Drove all day Friday and Saturday, enjoyed the game at a family party on Sunday, then went looking for a job on Monday. Ive only not worked at Harrys during the game once since then.

You guessed it. It was the Eagles next visit to the game after the 2004 season. That was the year that the danger of having hope kicked me in the face. Part of why I living here so much is that all of my family and friends here were so excited for me. I had large groups of friends join me downtown to watch the playoff games before I started work and then they followed me to Harrys when I started my shift to continue the fun. They were interesting nights. I had a chance to go to the game, but that didnt seem right. I needed to go back home to truly feel the emotion and share it with people who felt exactly as I did. My weekend started with my first appearance on Chicago Tribune Live with Dan Jiggetts. (And the celebrity life of an over-weight, over-caffeinated bartender was born! Funny, on that show when I mentioned to 85 Bear Otis Wilson my theory about his team, he laughed out loud.) Then it was an early flight on Sunday with the wife and kids to Philadelphia. The buzz in the airport was incredible. It was like the city was about to burst. Having four generations in the house to watch the game made it seem right, we would endure this together.(And I said endure before the game was ever played, because I know better) (I took a tape of my TV appearance for whoever wanted to enjoy it. What I enjoyed was answering Why are you on TV? thirty times , with no good answer. Honestly! A bartender on TV?!)

After McNabbs first interception, a familiar feeling came over the room as we all shot glances at each other, saying, here we go again. The flight home on Monday was not as fun, although the walk through a depressed city was kind of cathartic, time to leave it behind. Of course, as the plane was about to pull out, a fueling truck was stalled underneath us and would delay our departure. Travelling anywhere with a two-year-old is never easy and doing the math of the flight in my head led me to believe this was not a good sign. (Kids only have so many consecutive good minutes in them!) For the flight, my wife was in a group of three seats with the kids and I was across the aisle. Not very far, but it seemed like miles. After 45 minutes, we were off. As we were preparing for our descent into Midway, Im thinking, that wasnt bad. I mean, I only got about six dirty glances from my wife as the kids took all of her attention as I sat there reading my papers and enjoying snacks, bullet dodged!. Then it happened. My son, strapped into his car seat, lost his mind. Not the usual, I need attention because Im bored lost. No, I mean, top of his lungs, I cant take it anymore lost. As my wife desperately looked over for help, I gave her the, Do I know you lady? look. Not funny! Cmon honey, thats called gallows humor, Im in a state of depression. Still not funny. (To her!)

For my Bear brethren, the 2006 season was quite a ride. The bar rocked all year for the games, and the city was usually giddy on the days in between, with hope of what was to come. (Didnt anybody watch the Shawshank Redemption?!) But I was not a kill-joy, out-loud anyway. I reveled with them, always thinking, I dont feel good about this. (Well, maybe a few people knew that I agreed with Dennis Green.)That Super Sunday was fun at the beginning. We had three 85 Bears at the bar and Notre Dame All-American and nineties Bear Chris Zorich to share in the fun. Then there was Hesters return and the place was up for grabs. ( Zorich is one big dude! He was behind the bar and I was introducing him to all of the regulars. One of our marketing people took a picture of the two of us together. As Chris moved down the bar, I asked if I could see the picture. Oops, it didnt take.

I went down and explained Chris and told him about the picture and asked if he would come back down to my end of the bar to take another. No problem. Then, as these were standing with our arms around each other, and me feeling very small, Bridget, whose taking the picture, starts fumbling with the camera. After what seemed like 5 minutes of awkwardness with us still man-hugging, I turned to Chris and whispered in his ear, I paid her to do that. We laughed about that the rest of the night, although, I think his was nervous laughter. It was a joke! Not that there is anything wrong with that! Then someone handed Jim McMahon a microphone, and like the game, everything went downhill.

So as I get ready to spend another Super Bowl behind the bar at Harrys, I know that no matter what, its going to be a day I always remember. Its all about the game (and the end of the 96-hour pre-game show) and who we enjoy it with. A Super Sunday indeed! And if anyone reading this knows Chris Zorich, please let him know, Im still behind the bar! (Wink-wink!)

First and Final Thoughts: Is Trubisky going to play on Thanksgiving?

First and Final Thoughts: Is Trubisky going to play on Thanksgiving?

Welcome into First and Final Thoughts, one of our weekly columns with a title that's a little too on the nose. Here we'll have Insider J.J Stankevitz and Producers Cam Ellis and Paul Aspan give some insight into what's on their minds between games.

Final Thoughts on Week 11

Paul Aspan: “Who do you block?” That was Akiem Hicks’ response when asked about the Bears defensive dominance against the Vikings. Khalil Mack & Eddie Jackson continued to add to the Bears NFL-leading 27 takeaways, but it was Hicks who (continued to)  set the tone from the very first drive by blowing up a 3rd and inches and forcing the Vikings into a 3 and out.

The Bears put everyone on notice on the national stage that yes, they are for real and in control of the NFC North, in a 25-20 win that wasn’t even that close.

Monday & Tuesday did bring an unwelcome surprise with the news that Mitchell Trubisky’s status is in doubt for Thursday’s short turnaround against the Lions. Anytime the franchise QB lands on the injury report is unnerving but the good news is that Matt Nagy is at least saying it’s not a long term concern. So even if Mitch misses Thursday, he’ll have 10 more days to rest up for the final month.

Cam Ellis: Based in tiny part to his incredible play but mostly due to this hilarious mic'd up video, this seems like the time and the place to give Akeim Hicks his due. If the Patriots hadn't spent the last 20 years getting rid of their best defensive talent far too early, it'd almost be surprising that they let Hicks walk after the 2016 season. In the first year as a Bear, Hicks put up a career-best 8.5 sacks, and he's been one of the highest-rated defensive linemen in football this season:

He's probably headed to the Pro Bowl this season, and if not for Bryce Callahan, Hicks would probably be considered the best defensive player not named Khalil Mack. 

First Thought on Week 12

Aspan: So Chase Daniel huh? The 85 hour turnaround was always going to be a challenge but that certainly adds another wrinkle if Trubisky is forced to watch from the sidelines.  But this is still the same Lions team that allowed the Bears six sacks just two weeks ago. That doesn’t just fix itself. This is also the same leaky secondary - that despite beating the Panthers - allowed D.J. Moore to catch 7 passes for 157 yards and a TD, one week after allowing Anthony Miller and Allen Robinson 100 yard days.

The Bears are clearly the better team, regardless of who’s playing quarterback. This game will probably be closer than it should be, but here’s to counting on the Bears to back up Sunday night’s showing with another W.

Ellis: While having a QB show up on the injury  is never a good thing, the Bears' situation is about as good as you can expect, given the circumstances. The Lions have the the 29th ranked overall defense by DVOA, so theoretically a Chase Daniels offense could hand the ball off enough to not lose. The 30th ranked secondary in the NFL isn't going to be *that* much better against Chase Daniels than they would Mitch Trubisky. Next week? The Giants have the 27th ranked pass defense and are the 20th ranked rush group. All things considered, it could be a lot worse. There's a reason Daniels is one of the highest-paid backups in football. 

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Cubs make multiple moves to fill out 40-man roster


Cubs make multiple moves to fill out 40-man roster

Tuesday night was the deadline to set 40-man rosters in advance of the Rule 5 Draft and the Cubs made a flurry of moves with that in mind.

Earlier in the day the Cubs claimed pitcher Ian Clarkin off waivers from the White Sox. They followed up by trading Jason Vosler to the Padres for right-handed pitcher Rowan Wick.

Wick, who turned 26 less than two weeks ago, got a call-up late in 2018 with the Padres. He made his MLB debut on Aug. 31 and totaled 10 appearances out of the bullpen. He had a 6.48 ERA in 8 1/3 innings with seven strikeouts and just one walk. The improved control was a good sign after Wick walked 31 batters in 54 innings between Double-A and Triple-A earlier in the season, but he gave up 13 hits in the majors.

Going the other way, Vosler is a 25-year-old infielder who had been in the Cubs organization since getting drafted in 2014. He worked his way up to Triple-A this past season. Vosler hit .263/.306/.458 for the Iowa Cubs in 63 games.

The Cubs also added left-handed pitcher Justin Steele to the 40-man roster. Steele was a fifth-round pick of the Cubs out of high school in 2014 and came from injury in 2018. He made 11 starts between rookie ball, Single-A and Double-A before recently pitching in the Arizona Fall League.

Clarkin, Steele and Wick join the 40-man roster for the Cubs, which now stands at 39.

In addition to Vosler exiting, the Rangers claimed Jack Reinheimer off waivers from the Cubs. The Cubs had claimed Reinheimer off waivers from the Mets on Nov. 2. Outfielder Johnny Field and left-handed pitcher Jerry Vasto, both of which were claimed off waivers since the 2018 season ended, both cleared waivers and been assigned outright to Triple-A Iowa.


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