Angelino in the Outfield (Episode XXXIII: Finally!)

Written by :
Published on : November 5, 2016

 

 

Pardon my tardiness, dear reader. It took me a full day to recover. The longest championship drought in the history of North American sports is finally over. And as the Cubs doggy-piled on the infield grass in Cleveland on Tuesday, I fell to the floor alternately weeping and laughing maniacally. It still doesn’t necessarily feel real. But I want to take you on the journey one last time. So here are my reactions to Games 3-7, directly after they were over. I hope you enjoy it. I know I did.

 

Friday, October 28th. The Indians beat the Cubs 1-0. They lead the Series 2-1.

“Sure as God made green apples, some day the Chicago Cubs are gonna be in the World Series. And maybe sooner than we think.” That was Harry Caray on the final day of the 1991 regular season. And on Friday, fans laid green apples at the base of Harry Caray’s statue at Wrigley Field, because the Cubs played their first World Series game there since 1945. Tickets weren’t cheap. And man,  I really felt like the Cubs were supposed to win this one. I wanted it. Wrigley Field definitely wanted it. But I guess the Indians’ bullpen wanted it more.

 

With the wind blowing out, Carlos Santana in left field and Josh Tomlin pitching, the Cubs still couldn’t score a run. It was the Indians’ 5th shutout of the postseason, which is a record. And it was the 4th time in 8 games that the Cubs have failed to score. Runners were on second and third in the bottom of the 9th with Javy Baez, the star of the NLDS and NLCS up to bat. And he was struck out by Cody Allen to end the game. The Indians moved to 63% to win the Series. The good news is that Corey Kluber is pitching on short rest and the Cubs are favored in Games 4, 5 and 6. The bad news is that the Cubs can’t win the World Series at Wrigley. Now I just hope they can get back to Cleveland.

 

 

Saturday, October 29th. The Indians beat the Cubs 7-2. They lead the Series 3-1.

That was fucking brutal. Corey Kluber strikes again. Goddamnit. The Indians were underdogs against the Red Sox. They were underdogs against the Blue Jays. They were underdogs against the Cubs. Now they’re 10-2 in the postseason and one win away (and 85%) from winning the whole thing. And Kluber would go again in a potential Game 7. I don’t know what to say at this point. LeBron James was down 3-1 in the NBA Finals this year? The Cubs have won three games in a row or more 16 times during the regular season? 18 times, if you count the postseason, including in the last round against the Dodgers? Andrew Miller finally allowed a run? The Cubs handled Drone Finger in Game 2? The Indians have yet to have a long series? Seriously, what??? The Indians have looked like the superior team through four games. I think it’s time for the Cubs to remember who they are. Maybe this wasn’t supposed to be easy. But I’m just not ready for it to be over.

 

Sunday, October 30th. The Cubs beat the Indians 3-2. The Indians lead the Series 3-2.

We’re going back to Cleveland! Aroldis Chapman came on in the 7th inning and got an 8-out save. And I could barely take it. In hindsight, the Cubs made some amazing defensive plays. Everyone is saying that the goofball foul ball that glanced off David Ross’ glove that Anthony Rizzo caught in the 2nd inning looks like the Bob Boone/Pete Rose catch in Game 6 of the 1980 World Series. Jason Heyward made a leaping grab down the right field foul line in the 3rd on Trevor Bauer that even Bauer had to applaud. And then the Cubs’ bats finally came alive in the 4th.

 

Just when John Smoltz was saying the Cubs absolutely had to score in the inning, Kris Bryant homered on the next pitch to tie the game 1-1. Anthony Rizzo doubled on the next pitch and the crowd finally had a reason to go crazy. Then a Ben Zobrist single, an Addison Russell RBI single and a Ross RBI sac fly made it 3-1 Cubs, which is thankfully all they needed. Maybe now the Cubs can get that Josh Tomlin game back that they needed and Short Rest Kluber will finally be brought to justice. Man. Cleveland will be loud in Game 6. They’re down to 76% to win the Series. Kyle Schwarber will be back at DH. And the Cubs are 52% favorites to win Game 6. I still believe. Let’s go.

 

Tuesday, November 1st. The Cubs beat the Indians 9-3. The Series is tied 3-3.

 

With two outs and an 0-2 count in the top of the 1st, NL MVP-in-waiting, Kris Bryant, launched a 433 foot home run into the left field bleachers to make it 1-0 Cubs. Then Anthony Rizzo singled. Then Ben Zobrist singled. And then Addison Russell reached out and poked a fly ball that landed softly at the feet of Tyler Naquin and Lonnie Chisenhall, who badly miscommunicated on what would have been an easy third out. Rizzo scored. Zobrist bowled over Roberto Perez at home and the Cubs were up 3-0.

 

In the 4th, Kyle Schwarber walked to lead off the inning. After Bryant flew out, Rizzo singled again. Then Zobrist singled again. And since Schwarber has the bum knee, he was held at third. Bases loaded. One out. Josh Tomlin yanked. Dan Otero in to pitch. Addison Russell at the plate. Here’s Pat Hughes on the call.

 

“Russell drives one in the air. Deep left center. That’s back near the wall. It’s got a chance! Grand slam! Grand slam, Addison Russell! Cubs lead seven nothing!”

 

My call was just going, “YEAHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!” in my apartment all by myself, before my wife came home to find me five beers deep and pacing. At 22, Russell was the second-youngest person to ever hit a grand slam in the World Series. The youngest happened to be a 21-year-old Mickey Mantle in 1953. And his 6 RBI tied a single-game record set by Bobby Richardson in 1960, Hideki Matsui in 2009 and Albert Pujols in 2011.

 

Those seven runs would be all the Cubs needed. But Joe Maddon brought Aroldis Chapman on in the 7th once again. Maybe it seemed desperate or like Joe doesn’t trust his bullpen. Maybe Joe remembered Game 5 of the 2008 ALCS, when his Rays were up 7-0 and ended up losing to the Red Sox 8-7. But Rizzo homered in the 9th, the Cubs won 9-3 and we’re going to Game 7. A day that so many Cubs fans have waited their whole lives to see is just one day and 27 outs away.

 

 

The same could obviously be said for Indians fans. And everyone seems to think they have a huge advantage going in to the game. Or 54%, accruing to FiveThirtyEight. Corey Kluber was dominant in Games 1 and 4. They have a well-rested Andrew Miller and Cody Allen coming out of the pen if anything should happen. And Cubs doubters think Chapman’s arm might fall off at some point during the game.

 

But like I said last week when it was Clayton Kershaw, of course it has to be fucking Kluber. And fucking Miller. And fucking Allen. It’s almost too perfect not to be them. Maybe they’re going to the well once too often. Maybe this is just the sort of insurmountable odds the Cubs need to complete the most perfect ending to the least perfect of all 108-year droughts. Maybe. Just maybe. Holy shit.

 

Wednesday, November 2nd. The Cubs beat the Indians 8-7. They win the World Series 4-3.

On October 14, 1908 at Bennett Park in Detroit, Tigers’ catcher, Boss Schmidt, apparently hit a bunt or a dribbler in front of the plate, it was picked up by Cubs’ catcher, Johnny Kling, who threw Schmidt out at first. Orval Overall completed a three-hit shutout and the Cubs were back-to-back World Series champions. That was a really long fucking time ago.

 

I guess everyone has noticed the metaphor already, but what better way to end a 108-year drought than with a little rain. “It was the best rain delay of all time,” according to Anthony Rizzo. And it will forever go down in Cubs lore until the end of time. Or until the Cubs win so much that everyone is sick of hearing about it. Either way. But during the 17-minute delay, the Cubs’ struggling right fielder, Jason Heyward, called a team meeting to remind everybody on the team of who they were and what they’d already overcome to get to this point. And what could have gone down as another chapter in a century-long team misery ended much differently in the bottom of the 10th in Cleveland. A smiling, collapsing Kris Bryant firing Michael Martinez’ infield roller to Rizzo at first. And the curse, the drought, the black cat, Steve Bartman, Leon Durham, that goddamned goat story and 108 years of waiting ’til next year were finally over.

 

 

The Cubs started right away, with Dexter Fowler leading off with a solo shot off of Corey Kluber to make it 1-0 in the 1st. He almost ran backwards all the way to second base. But Cleveland tied the score in the 3rd when Carlos Santana singled in Coco Crisp. In the top of the 4th, with Bryant on third, Addison Russell yelled, “Goddamnit!” when he popped up to shallow center. But Bryant tagged up and slid under the tag of Roberto Perez at home, making it 2-1 Cubs. The next batter, Wilson Contreras, doubled off the wall in right center, scoring Ben Zobrist to make it 3-1. The last batter Kluber faced was Javy Baez, who homered in the top of the 5th, making it 4-1 Cubs. One unhittable pitcher down. Two to go.

 

Andrew Miller was the next pitcher in the game. He was the MVP of the ALCS, the guy critics were saying the Cubs should have given up Kyle Schwarber to acquire from the Yankees at the trade deadline. And he would be the next pitcher who couldn’t stop the Cubs. Rizzo came through with an RBI single to make it 5-1. Everything was looking great. Then Joe Maddon took Kyle Hendricks out of the game in the bottom of the 5th.

 

I didn’t understand the move at the time at all. Hendricks had been dealing. And he was one blown strike call away from striking out Santana and ending the inning. Instead they were bringing in Jon Lester and his throwing yips with a runner on first and removing Contreras from the game for Lester’s 39-year-old personal catcher, soon to be retiring due to issues with concussions. Lester immediately gave up an infield single to Jason Kipnis, which David Ross, that aforementioned 39-year-old catcher, had to field because of Lester’s aforementioned yips. And he sailed the ball high over Rizzo’s head at first. Santana went to third and Kipnis would wind up on second. The next batter was Francisco Lindor. And Lester bounced a pitch into the dirt that bounded off of Ross’ mask and knocked him to the ground. Santana and Kipnis both scored on the wild pitch and the Cubs’ lead was down to 5-3. I turned to my buddy Brendan and said, “Ross is concussed.”

 

 

In the top of the 6th, with Miller still on the mound for Cleveland, Ross got one of those runs back with a solo homer to center, making it 6-3. I was wrong about the concussion. In hindsight, that homer was absolutely huge. And Lester would end up working until Ramirez reached on a two-out infield single in the bottom of the 8th. And that’s when Maddon brought in an overworked Aroldis Chapman from the bullpen. Nothing was making any sense.

 

The Cubs were four outs away from their first world title in over a century. And in the back of my mind, I knew if this lead was going to be blown, there was no better candidate than Chapman. He’d been taxed by the previous two games. Acquired at the trade deadline from the Yankees, he came with 105-mph heat, off-the-field baggage aplenty and the attitude of a pampered diva. He was a rental and never a real Cub, anyway. That’s what they’d all say. His face would be plastered on memes and signs held up by Cardinal fans alongside Billy Sianis’ goat, Ron Santo’s black cat, Leon Durham and Steve Bartman. Another symbol of martyrdom, another scapegoat and another year of fucking waiting.

 

The first batter Chapman faced was Brandon Guyer, who doubled to right center, scoring Ramirez and making it 6-4 Cubs. The next batter was Rajai Davis. Ugh. It still gives me a sinking feeling in my stomach thinking about that at-bat. Rajai Davis wasn’t even supposed to be playing in the game. If it wasn’t for the worst game in Tyler Naquin’s life the night before, he would have been in center and Davis wouldn’t even be standing up there choked up a foot on his bat and screaming a line drive over the left field wall to tie the game at 6. Progressive Field understandably lost it. The first home run Chapman had given up as a Cub couldn’t have come at a worse time. And the camera cut to LeBron James who was scream-flexing in his personal king booth. Why did it have to be like this? Thankfully, after the 9th, the score was still tied. And that’s when the rain came.

 

 

The Cubs had already gotten through Cody Allen in the 7th and 8th. And Terry Francona called for Bryan Shaw to get the final two outs of the 9th. After the 17-minute delay, he’d go back out and pitch the 10th. But that was after the emotional speech from Heyward. That was after the Cubs remembered who they were. Kyle Schwarber led off with a single, and was replaced by pinch-runner, Albert Almora Jr. A 22-year-old replacing a 23-year-old. He’d move to second on Bryant’s deep sac fly. Then Rizzo was intentionally walked. Fox’s cameras had caught Rizzo talking to Ross during the game on Ross’ mic. “I’m an emotional wreck,” Rizzo told him. “I’m in a glass case of emotions.” And when Ben Zobrist doubled to left scoring Almora, Rizzo was holding his head on third in amazement. Then Miguel Montero, the third catcher of the game, singled in Rizzo to make it 8-6. They ended up needing that run desperately, and the hero of Game 1 of the NLCS came through once again. I was really loud in my apartment.

 

Chapman, who was seen openly weeping in the clubhouse during the delay, did not come out for the 10th. It was rookie, Carl Edwards Jr., who got two outs before walking Guyer and giving up an RBI single to Rajai Davis, yet again. Stupid Davis wasn’t even supposed to be playing! And then Maddon brought in Mike Montgomery to face Michael Martinez. And I’ll give you Joe Buck one last time.

 

“This is gonna be a tough play. Bryant. The Cubs…. WIN THE WORLD SERIES!!! Bryant makes the play! It’s over! And the Cubs have finally won it all! 8-7 in 10!”

 

 

Maybe now I can take the time to mention how spooky all those 108-year coincidences are. They’ve been widely reported everywhere already, but it takes 108 outs to win the NLCS and another 108 to win the World Series. The ball itself has 108 stitches. And that’s because the Cubs’ first manager, A.G. Spalding insisted upon it. And his offices were at 108 W. Madison. The Willis Tower in Chicago is 108 stories high. The Cubs’ owner, Tom Ricketts, has his business on 108th street. The Cubs win the World Series in Taking Care of Business and Back to the Future II, which are both 108 minutes long. The trophy is made of silver, which has an atomic weight of 108. The Cubs won in 10 innings. They scored 8 runs. I’ve probably shed 108 tears since.

 

Now I’ve wasted away two straight days of re-watching Cubs highlights and listening to Pat Hughes radio calls and sporadically crying during viewings of the championship parade. What a Series. What a send-off for David Ross, who was carried off the field by his teammates after Game 7. What a legacy for Theo Epstein. And Joe Maddon. And the rest of these young Cubs, who I said all year were like 13-year-old Chinese gymnasts who weren’t old enough to understand the 108-years of pressure.

 

This changes the entire culture surrounding the Cubs, as an organization. It almost changes the game of baseball, itself. It is the last great American sports story. And I’m just glad that I was one of the millions of Cubs fans out there who got to witness history. To finally get to see the end of something and the beginning of another. Man, I love this team. It happened. It really happened. And I mean, I totally believed. But I still can’t fucking believe it. Magic number: 0.

 

 


Go Cubs! A Tale from 2003

Written by :
Published on : October 23, 2016

 

 

Here we are again, Cubs fans. On the verge of making history. Last time we were here was back in 2003, when the Cubbies broke a nearly hundred-year postseason loss record, and I went to the best party of my young life.

 

I was not a sports fan growing up, but I was something of a Cubs fan. I made an annual trip every August to Wrigley Field with my Grandfather. I enjoyed those afternoons, but my interest in the game never stretched beyond them. I wasn’t a scorekeeper or a stathound. I didn’t even care if they won really, because we often left during the 8th, usually on my Grandfather’s calculated risk that a cab could make Union Station in time for the express Metra train back to the suburbs. At best, I fell into the category of fair weather fan, one of the most common and reviled of sports animals.

 

That fall of ’03, I was a college freshman. One of my first assignments was to attend a screening at the Chicago International Film Festival. Back then, my cinematic tastes leaned heavily towards bullets and boobs, so I chose the least festival-y film I could find. The movie was called Kops, a Swedish comedy about local police officers that bore a passing resemblance to Super Troopers. My friend Wags agreed to go with me, and we headed to the Music Box Theatre in Wrigleyville for the show.

 

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When the movie started, I was only vaguely aware that the Cubs were in a position to make history. If they won their next game — which they were playing that night, Sunday October 5th — it would be their first postseason series victory since 1908. I was only vaguely aware of this because, even as a passing Cubs fan, I knew they were perennial losers, a bedrock certainty that belonged in The Pantheon of Facts between the hilarity of The Three Stooges and Scarlett Johansson’s beauty.

 

Halfway through the movie, I heard a noise I haven’t heard in a theater before or since: a car horn. It sounded in quick gunfire bursts. Then I heard the cheering. Wags leaned over and said, “I think the Cubs just won.”

 

After the movie, we exited the theater and saw blue and white fans everywhere. We were less than a mile from Wrigley Field, and everyone seemed to be heading that direction. Which made sense after all; there was a rogue’s gallery of bars stretching along Clark Street. Wags suggested we join the fray and I agreed. He had driven us there after all, so I didn’t think I could protest too much.

 

Cubs

 

As we came upon the intersection of Clark and Addison, underneath the warm glow of the Wrigley Field neon, we found ourselves in the middle of the biggest party I had ever seen. There were people everywhere. So many they had overflowed the bars and sidewalk and crowded into the middle of the street. Cars were trafficjammed for blocks in every direction. If you weren’t cheering, it was because you were drinking. Someone had propped speakers out their second story window and were blasting “You Shook Me All Night Long” by AC/DC into the street. Wags ducked into a bar and returned with several open cans of Budweiser. We camouflaged them with empty McDonald’s cups and drank down a couple of Harry Caray’s favorite brew.

 

We intended to walk around but didn’t get very far. There were too many drunk idiots screaming at the top of their lungs. Too many suburban Moms and Dads wearing their weekend Cubs gear. Too many girls. It was a great time. The good feeling was infectious. We were surrounded by new old friends, all united in a winner’s high. I couldn’t tell you how long we hung out there, but I was finishing my second beer, and that’s when the cops showed up. Not Kops. Real cops.

 

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Like I said, this was my first real life, holy shit, I’ve-only-seen-parties-like-this-in-the-movies blowout that I had ever attended. That milestone was capped off by watching the Chicago Police break up the biggest party ever. How does that happen, you ask? On horseback, my friend. All of a sudden, there was a row of mounted cops seated above the crowd. Behind them were more officers dressed in riot gear. Falling into line, they created a blue wall that advanced forward. Pushing the crowd back onto the sidewalk where they belonged. It was a calm show of force, and it worked. I wish I could say that we started a riot and burned some shit down, but no. Nothing like that happened. Everyone was too busy have a good time. The Cubs had just broken a 95 year losing streak. No matter how down-and-out you were, nobody in Chicago felt like a loser that night.

 

The rest of it has faded from my memory, but that feeling of communal celebration is something I’ll never forget. I had done my share of cheering for the hometeam, and I had experienced the swell of an entire ballpark’s energy rise up before. But this was something else. The scale was epic. We were celebrating a moment that had already been recorded into history. Here’s hoping we can feel that way again. Go Cubs.

 

 


SBS Remembers: Disco Demolition Night

Written by :
Published on : April 7, 2016

 

Flashback to 1979. Comiskey Park in Chicago, Illinois. A double header with the Chicago White Sox hosting the Detroit Tigers. But the second game would never be played because of an incident we affectionately call Disco Demolition Night. Let’s jump into the time machine and zip back to 70’s to give you the whole crazy story.

 

The set up

To really understand the scene we must understand the attitude of the city. The era of Saturday Night Fever was dying and the folks in Chicago were over Disco. Popular FM disc jockey, Steve Dahl, on local 97.9 WLUP aka The Loop was leading the anti-disco movement on the airways of the windy city. In an effort to boost ticket sales, the White Sox held a promotion partnered with Dahl and the radio station. The details were that Steve Dahl planned to blow up a bunch of disco vinyl between the double header games as a stunt. Fans only needed 98 cents and an unwanted disco record to enter the stadium. Brass at Comiskey expected around 20,000 fans but 50,000 showed up.

 

 Steve Dahl (in helmet), model Lorelei Shark and son of owner of the White Sox

 

The stunt

Steve Dahl had planned to explode a crate of records in an effort to ring in the death of disco. But there were so many people at the stadium and their albums were not collected so fans threw their records onto the field. Just think, a wave of flying discs covering the the grass like a fleet of UFO’s coming to earth.

 

Dahl came out to huge cheers. He did his best to get the crowd to riot level energy and then BOOM! A literal explosion and with that, all hell broke loose. Thousands flooded the diamond. Other fans who couldn’t get tickets snuck/broke into the park. Security was useless. Totally out numbered and hopelessly out gunned.

 

disco demo 2

 

Could you imagine being at a modern game where this happened? That’s such a foreign thought. And all this hostile energy is over what? Dance moves? Hip thrusts? I’ll stop talking for a bit and we can all enjoy this amazing photo.

 

DiscoDemolitionNight

 

The conclusion

Riot police had to be called in to help disperse the rabid locals. But the damage had been done. The explosion plus all the extra foot traffic completely destroyed the lawn at Comiskey. Looking back, maybe Disco Demolition Night wasn’t the best idea. I mean just the demolition could have been enough to wreck the playing surface but the full scale riot was the icing on the cake. The next day, the baseball Commissioner ruled that the White Sox had to forfeit the contest based on the fact that it was their own actions that caused the delay of the game.

 

ScoreBoredSports is here to remind you that in 1979, the Detroit Tigers got a win over the Chicago White Sox because the residents of Chicago really hate a particular type of music. That’s hilarious. And pretty sweet.

 

 

Disco.

 

 


SBS NFL Picks Against the Spread: Week 2

Written by :
Published on : September 17, 2015

 

 

Well, my week 1 for NFL Picks Against the Spread didn’t go quite as well as I had hoped. I came away with 7 wins, 8 losses and 1 push. Which is ok, but I strive for greatness and will use the lessons learned about teams to push up my win percentage this week. There are some nice divisional matchups coming up that are going to make it a little tricky. Surely, there will be some surprises and some upsets, but with a few big underdogs, I’m confident that I’ve got a full helping of winners here for you guys.

 

Winning picks in italics.

 

Broncos at Chiefs (-3): Chiefs

Both of these teams came away with wins last week. The Broncos won at home in underwhelming fashion and the Chiefs won on the road against a disappointing Texans squad. Arrowhead Stadium is one of the hardest places in the league for opposing teams to play, and with Manning’s arm looking about as weak as previously rumored, watch the Chiefs defense to get all over him.

 

Patriots (-1) at Bills: Patriots

Both the Bills and Pats were very strong last week, and the Bills defense neutralized a Colts offense that was one of the most explosive in the league last season. That said, the Patriots are going to continue to play angry and stick it to Roger Goodell, one win at a time. Even though it’s a divisional game and they are on the road in Buffalo, with the Bills only getting 1 point, the Patriots are the right pick.

  

Titans (-1) at Browns: Titans

How about that Marcus Mariota guy? He looked very, very good last week as he led the Titans to a week one win against the top pick of the draft in Tampa Bay. The Browns on the other hand, are looking like they will be as bad as I thought they were going to be. Mariota is going to pick that defense apart and get win number two in Cleveland by a wide margin.

 

Texans at Panthers (-3): Panthers

The Panthers didn’t look great last week, but still managed a 21-9 win on the road in Jacksonville. They welcome a Texans team that lost by 7 on their home field last week. I see the Panthers winning this one with some help from a couple of broken plays that Cam Newton extends with his legs.

 

Cardinals (-1.5) at Bears: Cardinals

The Bears put up a very good fight against the Packers and had a real chance to come away with a huge win last week. Then reality set in, of course. This week they welcome in a Cardinals team that beat the Saints last week, but lost their starting running back in the process. Carson Palmer looked pretty sharp in his first game back from injury and I think he will overcome the 1.5 points being given to the Bears, while passing the ball all over them. Cardinals win.

 

Chargers at Bengals (-3): Bengals

The Chargers had a huge second half last week to overcome a Lions first half 21-3 lead, and get a 33-28 win. While the Bengals destroyed the lowly Raiders for the entirety of the game. Both of these teams are good and will probably be battling each other for a wild-card berth this year. With the Bengals being at home, I think that gives them the advantage and they beat the spread.

 

Lions at Vikings (-3): Detroit

For one half of football, the Lions seemed like they could be one of the best teams in the league, then they were severely out-coached in the second half and lost. They now head to Minnesota and play a team that didn’t look for good for any sustained period against the 49ers. The Lions defense and offensive line will want to prove that they aren’t as bad as they looked in that second half last week.

 

Buccaneers at Saints (-10): Buccaneers

I think the Saints win this one at home straight up. I just can’t resist the urge to take the 10 points that the Bucs are getting here. I think Jameis has a much better game than last week and does enough to keep this one close.

 

Falcons at Giants (-2.5): Giants

The Giants should have won their game last week against the Cowboys, but they at least did enough to cover the spread. They are going to be heartbroken after that division loss last week and are going to come out strong at home against the Falcons. Look for them to win by a touchdown and for Odell Beckham Jr to have a few big plays.

 

49ers at Steelers (-6): 49ers

Neither of these teams looked all that great last week, but the Steelers defense still looks like a work in progress and they remain without Le’veon Bell for one more game. They win straight up but the 49ers keep it close enough to cover the spread.

 

Rams (-3.5) at Redskins: Rams

The Redskins are bad and are going to get murdered by Aaron Donald & Co as that Rams defense gets all over them. Enough said.

 

Ravens (-6) at Raiders: Raiders

The Raiders got a big scare when Derek Carr went down with a hand injury against the Bengals. He was back to fully practicing this week and should be good to go at home against the Ravens. If he wasn’t playing then the Ravens would be the easy pick, but with Carr and Amari Cooper on the field, I think the offense keeps it close enough to cover the spread.

 

Dolphins (-6) at Jaguars: Dolphins

There might be a point sometime soon when the Jaguars are decent, but they clearly aren’t there yet. The Dolphins defense and offense is going to continue to improve, especially against the Jags this week. Add to that the fact that there will probably be more Dolphins fans up in Jacksonville, and it should work out essentially like a home game for the ‘Fins. They are are going to beat them up and run them out of their own stadium.

 

Cowboys at Eagles (-5): Cowboys

The Cowboys had an inspiring comeback win against another division rival at home last week.  This week they travel to Philly to take on an Eagles team that was less than inspiring against the Falcons. This will be another NFC East slugfest that is decided by less than the 5-point spread being offered up by Vegas. Take the Cowboys

 

Seahawks at Packers (-3.5): Seahawks

The Seahawks aren’t getting any favors from the schedule makers by having to travel to St Louis week one and then into Green Bay for week two, but luckily for them, the Packers defense looked pretty awful last week. Look for Marshawn and the Seahawks to keep it very close, even if they don’t pull out the win.

 

Jets at Colts (-7): Jets

Don’t get me wrong, I think the Colts will win this one at home, but it’s another case of me not being able to look past the points being given by Vegas. The Jets looked pretty good against a bad team last week and with a defense that is supposed to be strong, I think it stays close enough for the Jets to be the pick here.

 


Last Week’s Record: 7-8-1

 

Season Record: 7-8-1

 


Eric Wedge Needs Another Chance

Written by :
Published on : September 9, 2015

 

When looking at the problems surrounding his old team, former Mariners manager, Eric Wedge, can feel at ease that his managing was not the issue. The team hired Lloyd McClendon to replace him last year, and they still stink. During his time running the organization, Jack Zduriencik hired three different managers and they produced five losing seasons with only two winning ones. For that reason that Zduriencik was fired on August 28th.

 

The men he hired to run the team never had a chance to succeed because Zduriencik never provided them with good players to work with. Poor drafting was a big culprit, as demonstrated by disappointing first round picks, Dustin Ackley, Nick Franklin, Danny Hultzen and Mike Zunino.

 

The brains behind the Mariners roster, Jack Zduriencik

 

When he resigned, Wedge criticized Zduriencik and you have to wonder if that is why he is currently unemployed. The fact is that no boss wants their employee ripping them in public and it’s not a good look to show prospective employers. Another reason teams might be shying away from Wedge is his losing record (774-876). I don’t believe he should be punished for that because the man can straight up manage. He masterfully rebuilt the Cleveland Indians and had them one game away from the World Series in 2007.

 

There’s no way the Mariners problems should be held against him because the issues with the team were out of his control. He deserves one last shot to manage a major league club. One that is ready to win now.

 

Joe Maddon did it for the Cubs. Wedge can do it for some other team.

 

If he could step into the type of situation Joe Maddon did in Chicago this year, with a team that is ready to win, then I think he could really make something happen. The Cubs will make the playoffs this year because they finally found a manager that knows what he’s doing. If another team with some good pieces in place hired Wedge, they could do the same. He knows how to lead. He commands respect. He gets things done and he knows how to develop players. He can win.

 

We can’t hold his losing recored against him because he was either managing rebuilding projects with the Indians or leading a terrible team with the Mariners. It’s time he is judged on what he can do with a good squad.

 

His teams will never get outworked and he will never get out managed. They will play fundamentally sound baseball and will be disciplined. He calls it like he sees it and will hold his guys accountable when they don’t perform up to his standards. As a result his players will get better and the team will win.

 

They could use this kind of passion and leadership in Boston or Detroit.

 

Two teams I can think of that could use Wedge’s services are the Red Sox and the Tigers. They both have young talent and can win now, they just need the right manager. Something they do not have at the moment in John Farrell and Brad Ausmus, respectively.

 

These teams, or any team in need, would be better for hiring him and he would immediately command respect in the clubhouse. The players would want to play for him and it would be an absolute joke if he didn’t get another gig after what he had to endure in Seattle. He has put the time into his craft and he knows what to do. It’s time for him to get another shot and prove that he can get it done.

 

 


Most Annoying Fan Bases in Sports

Written by :
Published on : August 5, 2015

 

 

I’ve been all over. So this is the truth. Here is a list of the most annoying fan bases in sports:

 

Bay Area Fans

Don’t you just hate them?

 

Whether you’re a “die hard” Warriors or Giants fan or a fair whether flipper between the Raiders & 49ers, just shut up about all of it. Being a die hard fan of anything by inductive reasoning makes you extremely annoying. The Bay Area is a particularly spoiled sports region that most people don’t think of as a hardcore sports region. The term “sore winners” comes to mind. Don’t forget to recycle those empty fair trade, organic beer cans after you shotgun them while tailgating.

 

Boston

A fan holds up a ‘Free Tom Brady’ sign at a Red Sox game.

 

Another spoiled sports region. All 4 major sports franchises from here have won championships in recent years. The fan base most likely to physically fight you over a minor disagreement. Shout out to Philly fans on violence too.
A city of “die hard fans” meaning they have so little going on in their life that they pour their whole personality into devotions to a team of millionaires. Millionaires competitors who care less about winning than their loyal fans who talk like they all had strokes.

 

Chicago

Put your shirts back on!

 

Shockingly worse accents than people from Boston. The perfect storm of spoiled (Blackhawks, 90s Bulls, Black Sox from not long ago, 80s Bears) and tortured (Cubs, Derrick Rose, current Bears) to combine for an infuriating brand of in-your-face pride & loser’s lamenting. Go eat comfort food from anywhere within 5 feet of you & shut your yapper!

 

New York

Less than a year ago they wanted A-Rods head on a spike in the Bronx. Now it’s all Happy Birthdays and rainbows.

 

Ok, you do have the right to be genuine Yankee fans unlike 85% of Yankee hat wearers. Hearing New Yorkers belly aching about sports is like hearing your rich friend complain about their BMW.  You live in an overwhelming metropolis – find something better to complain about than Carmelo, Gino Smith/Eli Manning & ARod. I’m walking here!

 

Los Angeles

Lakers fans.

 

Similar to NYC fans, but worse because of general vanity & lack of self awareness; not to mention the entitled mentality all fans of big market teams are stricken with. Lakers fans are the hardest to stomach, directly followed by Trojan Fans or Dodger fans* who will beat the living shit out of you then fair-weather Kings fans. What a cross section of fair-weather & spoiled.

*non-violent Dodger fans are legit though

 

Ohio

I hope these drunks aren’t driving after the game.

 

Ohio State fans, the ones who are so enthusiastic/spirited/aggressive/loud – it makes you love U of M even if you have no rooting interest whatsoever. Cleveland fans who burned their Lebron James jerseys & welcomed him back with open arms. Bengals fans when they’re a fringe playoff team. They are the best of the worst, only because they’re consummate losers/silver medalists, but Ohio State fans are the worst braggarts about their success. These fans are those kids who get trophies despite losing.

 

Portland

Fair weather as fuck in a city with pretty fair weather. And I’ll never get behind a team that does this:

Recycle

 


SBS Stadium Series: The Grateful Dead Takeover Soldier Field

Written by :
Published on : July 10, 2015

The first installment of the ScoreBoredSports Stadium Series doesn’t involve a sporting event, but revolves around a cultural phenomenon that took place in historic Soldier Field on 4th of July weekend, 2015. Fare Thee Well: Celebrating 50 Years of The Grateful Dead was an event for which thousands and thousands of people traveled from around the world to witness. For one fateful weekend in the city of Chicago, the spirit of the 60’s was alive and well as the greatest American Rock band took the stage one last time for 3 magical nights of music.

IMG_0984
The entrance to Soldier Field

 

This was my first time attending an event at Soldier Field and I must say that the stadium itself was quite impressive. The Greco-Roman architecture that comprised the original stadium before its 2003 renovations and still surrounds the outer walls is quite breathtaking, with Doric columns that tower over the grounds and create an imposing façade that immediately catches the eye, even from miles away. With the renovations, the stadium now looks like some intergalactic spacecraft landed right in the middle of the Roman Forum. You’ve got to respect that they were able to preserve the original stadium, the oldest in the NFL, while adding some modernity to the scene.

The grounds surrounding the stadium provided a perfect setting for the freaks of all shapes and sizes that attended the show to set up shop and sell their wares or just relax and enjoy some pre-show libations. Once inside the stadium, Solider Field continued to impress, with friendly staff and service, and a field that allowed you to get an amazing view of the entire record breaking 70,000-plus crowd that was in attendance.

On the approach to the stadium you could see the hippies and music lovers flooding the streets of Chicago, and every venue had become ground zero for jam bands that came to play the city on the same weekend as the guys who started the whole jam scene some fifty years ago. On every street corner there was a multitude of tie-dyed shirts and long hair. Everyone had a smile and a kind word for passers by, and the feeling in the city was palpable. A nervous excitement was overtaking the crowds as the final performance by these legendary musicians came nearer.

The long trek from the hotel to the stadium provided the opportunity for all types of trouble and fun. The first order of business was to find the infamous Shakedown Street, the historic semi-sanctioned marketplace famous for popping up in the parking lots of whatever stadium or venue the Dead happen to be playing at. It’s the perfect place to buy a much-cheaper-than-stadium-price beer, handmade Dead-themed crafts and shirts, or whatever illicit substance might tickle your fancy.

Aside from the music, Shakedown Street is what the Dead show is all about. It’s the shining example of what this community is all about. In the days that Jerry was still with us, The Grateful Dead did hundreds of shows a year and there were people who literally lived on tour. Moving from parking lot to parking lot and setting up shop in a centralized location were everyone could meet, have fun and earn a living by working whatever hustle they wanted. All while being close to the music they loved and lived for. The band and authorities turned a blind eye to the unlicensed selling of Dead related merchandise with the understanding that no one was getting ripped off and it was free promotion for the artists.

IMG_1006
South Parking Lot Shakedown Street

 

The current Shakedown Street is a shadow of its former self, as those old-heads who ran things have moved on or passed on, but that doesn’t mean the spirit of Shakedown is dead. Vendors were allowed to go about their business for the most part, that is until the final day when I heard rumors of vendors having all of their stuff seized by what was described as the copyright police. There was less of a centralized Shakedown Street at Soldier Field this year, and for the first two days we hung out at the walking path between the Stadium, the parking garage and the south parking lot (Where we finally discovered the other, larger Shakedown Street on the final day). There were people everywhere and the familiar smells filled the air as we sat on a grassy hill drinking, smoking and watching all of the beautiful people.

This is where you meet all of the interesting characters that define the experience of going to a Dead show, and there were people from all different walks of life congregating in the same place and bonding over this special music and experience. Whether a sixty-year-old biker, a forty-five-year old accountant, or a nineteen-year-old dreadlocked runaway who smells like he hasn’t showered in a month, everyone is here for the same reason. To have a good time and listen to some music.

Almost twenty years to the day since Jerry Garcia last played with the Grateful Dead in this very same venue, many people claimed that this was the closest feeling to being at those shows with Jerry. It was a real Grateful Dead show. Not Furthur, not The Other Ones, but The Grateful Dead. Strangers stopping strangers, just to shake their hands and everyone loving everyone. The collective individualism of the community was going strong, as everyone flew their own special freak flag but accepted one another as members of the same wild fraternity. Like we were all on the same side, regardless of where we came from before this weekend, or where we were headed after.

As the start of the show approached on that Friday July 3rd, the stadium was absolutely electric. People discussing which songs would be played and when, people sharing memories of shows passed, people being people. No pretension, no judgment, just love.

IMG_0996
Fireworks for the 4th of July

 

And when those lights went down, and The Grateful Dead finally took the stage and began to perform Box of Rain, the crowd exploded and everyone could feel what a special weekend we were all in for. Chills went up and down my spine and I got goose bumps as that familiar feeling began to take hold. Everyone began to dance and sing aloud. People sang along so loudly that you couldn’t always hear the band members singing. But that didn’t matter. These songs weren’t just the band’s to sing. They belonged to all of us. In someway or another, every one of these songs had affected our lives and they were uniquely special to each and every one of us.

For a venue that is normally home to adversarial events such as football games, this one weekend was all about harmony and love for your fellow man. I can imagine how great football would be in this historic building and would certainly love to go back for a game, but I don’t know that anything can equal the feeling of what this weekend was. Young and old, rich and poor, all these people on the level and completely immersed in what was happening around them. It was a truly beautiful experience, in a truly beautiful city, in a truly beautiful stadium and I think I can speak for everyone who was in attendance when I say thank you to the City of Chicago and to The Bears organization for making us all feel at home for three fateful days in July 2015.

IMG_1035
Thank you!

SBS Short Story Series: Rookie Card

Written by :
Published on : July 10, 2015

A dark bedroom, Tim sits up in bed, his face only visible from the glow of his open macbook. He glances to his sleeping girlfriend. She’s in dream town. He opens a new tab, a few keys and back to the old habit; cards, well Basketball cards, 80’s NBA Fleer to be exact. Another check. Still sleeping. Scrolling, scrolling, then, wait. What? Tim’s eyes dart over the post “Mint condition”, “Michael Jordan”, “PSA 10”, and then the doozie “Rookie card” Tim holds back a shriek, his girlfriend stirs but doesn’t wake. Then he reads “Autographed”. He screams.

The next day,  Tim pulls up the ad and types a response. “I’ll trade you my whole collection…” He hits ‘send’ and crosses his fingers. Tim, in his red Jordan jersey, waits inside Chipotle. No burrito. He eyes the door. Finally, Kent arrives. He’s tall, older, windbreaker, briefcase, like Clint Eastwood, if he sold drugs. Tim waves him over. Kent sits and opens the briefcase. The Jordan. In its hard plastic case. Tim inspects it like a jeweler while Kent gets in line. Tim looks up and realizes he is alone with the prize. He looks across the dining room to the door. He calculates the distance. He looks to Kent then back to the door. In walk two Chicago Police Officers. Tim’s eyes go back to the card. Kent returns with a soda. “So we got a deal or what?”

In the parking garage, Tim opens the trunk to his car and pulls out two huge boxes of cards. Kent gives them a quick look and nods. He hands the briefcase to Tim. Kent loads the boxes into his car. Tim locked in a trance, starring at his new baby. Before leaving Kent asks “you wanna know how I got the autograph?” Tim never looks up from the card. “Of course”. Kent gets close and leans in “I met him at the grocery store” with that, Kent stabs Tim in the gut. He stabs him again and again. He is the Michael Jordan of stabbing people. Tim gasps as his last breathe oozes out. Kent pulls the rookie card from his hands. Blood all over the case. He wipes it on Tim’s jersey and then drives off.

Kent in his trophy room. Wall to wall memorabilia. He adds Tim’s cards to his collection and returns the Jordan to its rightful place on the mantel. Later, Kent lies in bed with his laptop, his wife next to him. He posts “Rookie Card for sale or trade”.

The End.


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