Bears

Word on the Street: '85 Bears honored at White House

Word on the Street: '85 Bears honored at White House

Friday, Oct. 9, 2011
CSNChicago.com

'85 Bears honored at the White House

The Super Bowl winning Bears were saluted today by President Barack Obama, a quarter century after their big win. The team would have been honored by President Reagan if not for the tragic explosion on the space shuttle Challenger. It was no time to celebrate and the Bears never made it to the White House until Obama's two year plan came to life to have his hometown team at the country's capital. (ChicagoTribune)

Calipari, Rose paid to dismiss lawsuit

Derrick Rose and former Memphis coach John Calipari agreed in 2010 to pay 100,000 to dismiss a potential lawsuit that stemmed from the Tigers' 07-08 season. The NCAA vacated victories from the season, ruling Memphis used an ineligible player.

The two paid the sum after some ticket holders threatened to sue, arguing their season tickets were devalued because of the NCAA punishment. In addition Rose will make donations to Memphis' scholarship fund before 2015. (ChicagoTribune)

Squirrel causes uprising at Busch Stadium

Rally monkeys sure sound like old news after the Cardinals encountered some disturbing visits from their very own rally squirrel. That's right, this little guy has outsmarted the peanut butter and all seven traps, resulting in what Busch Stadium refers to as a 'public safety crisis' after he ran across the field in Wednesday's game.

The squirrel's behavior is being monitored by multiple groundskeepers. He was most recently caught burying a peanut in the outfield and covering it back up with grass. He seems to be pretty advanced for his kind, perhaps we should give him a glove and see what he can do. (HardballTalk)

Nova diagnosed with strain

After only two innings, Yankees pitcher Ivan Nova was pulled from last night's game due to tightness in his forearm. Today the team announced he has been diagnosed with a Grade 1 flexor strain. The injury is expected to heal on its own over the winter. (HardballTalk)

Jagr gets point 1,600

Jaromir Jagr left fans wondering about the results of his return after a three-year leave from the NHL. He did not waste any time on the ice, earning his 1,600 point within the first period of the Flyers season opener against the Bruins. Jagr became the nineth NHL player in history to reach the 1,600 point mark. (ProHockeyTalk)

Ryan Pace finds silver lining in social distancing at Halas Hall

Ryan Pace finds silver lining in social distancing at Halas Hall

Bears general manager Ryan Pace, like everyone else in the United States right now, is doing his best to do his job in what's become a bizarre new normal of social distancing. Fortunately for him and the rest of the team's staff and players, Halas Hall is well-equipped to handle COVID-19's challenges.

The renovations at Halas Hall couldn't have come at a better time. The more expansive campus provides the Bears with the space needed to keep the players and coaches as safe as possible. For Pace, it offers a greater opportunity to appreciate the little things while catching a meal with Matt Nagy.

“So the last two nights, we discovered how nice it is,” Pace said, via MMQB. “You sit out there, and it forces you to take a different vantage point during the day. Beautiful view, and it’s pretty peaceful.”

As Albert Breer pointed out, Pace and Nagy's view includes four outdoor practice fields and a couple of ponds. Not too shabby.

The most important takeaway isn't the landscape. Instead, it's safety. 

NFL players have until Thursday to decide whether they'll opt-out of the 2020 season, and for teams that are lacking the facilities Chicago has, it's more likely high-risk players or those with families at high-risk will choose to sit out the season.

Bears nose tackle Eddie Goldman and safety Jordan Lucas have decided to opt out this year, and there's a chance more will do the same. 

Pace is confident in Chicago's COVID-19 plan. We'll see if the players are too.

For now, Pace is finding comfort in the little things. 

Why Chicago Cubs starters Jon Lester, Alec Mills are two of MLB's best pitchers

Why Chicago Cubs starters Jon Lester, Alec Mills are two of MLB's best pitchers

Usually when GMs, managers and fans get ready for a baseball season, any consistent production from the Nos. 4 and 5 starters is a luxury. In the Cubs’ case, it’s been an embarrassment of riches through two turns of the rotation.

Through 10 games, the Cubs are 8-2, good for the best win percentage in the National League. One huge reason for that has been the team’s incredible starting pitching. Kyle Hendricks set the tone early when he pitched a complete game shutout in the very first game of the season. Now, the Cubs’ starters lead MLB in ERA (1.95), batting average against (.156) and WHIP (0.780). They’ve done all that while also throwing 60 innings, second only to the Indians who have thrown 70 innings.

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At first glance you’d probably think, yeah, that makes sense with Hendricks starting the season the way he did, and Darvish getting back on track with six innings of two-hit ball in his second start. But surprisingly the only two clunkers came in Hendricks and Darvish starts. In fact, the analytics say Jon Lester and Alec Mills, the Cubs’ last two guys in the rotation have been two of the most impressive starters in MLB.

Let’s start by looking at the ERAs of all starters who have at least 8 IP, since the name of the game is keeping runs off the board. If 8 IP seems like an arbitrary cutoff… well, it is. But it seems like a fair number to assess quality pitchers who have made two starts in this shortened season with short leashes on pitchers. Among those pitchers, Lester and Mills each rank in the top-10 with ERAs of 0.82 and 1.38, respectively, according to FanGraphs.

So how are they doing it? Neither is a power pitcher who relies on strikeouts. In fact, Lester’s four punchouts place him tied for fourth-fewest in our split of SPs who have thrown more than 8 IP. Mills’ seven strikeouts (tied for 10th-fewest) aren’t much better. These guys succeed by keeping guys off the base paths, and not allowing hard-hit balls.

Looking at batting average against, Lester and Mills move into MLB’s top-five, according to our FanGraphs split, with each pitcher holding batters under .120. Since we’ve already established that neither guy is a power pitcher, when we filter further to just show BAA on balls put in play it should come as no surprise that Lester and Mills rise to No. 1 and No. 2 in all of baseball with .118 and .139 marks, respectively.

Great defense, like Javy Baez’s tag in Monday’s game, certainly helps the pitchers’ stats. But the starters also make things easier on the defense by inducing poor contact, regardless of whether the ball is hit on the ground or the air. According to FanGraphs, Mills ranks second in MLB by inducing soft contact on 33.3% of all balls put into play. In addition, he’s 11th in MLB with a 54.3 ground ball percentage. Lester ranks ninth by getting hitters to make soft contact 26.5% of the time, although he’s 11th in the league in getting batters to hit fly balls 47.1% of the time.

In the end the result is the same, with Mills and Lester combining to only allow four extra base hits in 24 IP. So although they aren’t typical “dominant” pitchers that teams like to make their aces, Mills and Lester have been two of the most effective starters in the game.


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