Blackhawks say “Goodbye” to Joel Quenneville

Everyone with even the smallest sports knowledge knew this day was coming. Most of us though it wouldn’t be this soon. Sure there are some who have been calling for this for a few seasons. Even as he was leading the team to their third Stanley Cup. The same people wanted to trade Kane, and Toews too. I felt Q had at least one more year to see if things were turning around. 15 games into the new season was enough for the front office to move on.

By the numbers, he is the 2nd winningest coach in Blackhawks history: 452 regular season wins, and a .627 winning percentage in his 11 seasons with the Hawks. 3 Stanley Cups, 76-52 in the playoffs, with a winning percentage of .594. I’m guessing he goes into the NHL hall of fame shortly after he retires.

The Blackhawks chose to fire him 15 games into the season rather than move on between seasons. A move that I would love someone explain to me. This tells me that they are reacting to something rather than executing a plan, and therein lies the problem. Coach Quenneville has to take blame for his part in the recent losing/missing out on the playoffs. So does the front office though. Most notably, trading away so much talent because of horrendous contracts. General Manager Stan Bowman is widely know for throwing out “no move” contracts. They were lucky to get away from Marian Hossa’s contract, or they would be paying him for 3-5 more years after he retired. They have a similar one with Brent Seabrook.

With me, it’s more how it went down, then when, or why. Like I said at the top, we knew it was coming. You could say Q had his opportunities. I would like to know how much input Q had on certain personnel decisions, such as moving Artemi Panarin, who seemed to not only add a spark, but carry the Hawks, and bolster the offense. He and Patrick Kane had tremendous chemistry together.

They usher in a new era in Blackhawks history. Stan Bowman will largely be graded by how the current team does. I wonder how long he will go until his judgment day comes. The rest of the season? 2 years? I guess time will tell.

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For the Red, White, and Blue

For the Red, White, and Blue

11-8-18

Sometimes I don’t have the will, or the strength to fight

Sometimes I fear the cold in the dead of night

Sometimes I feel alone, in a full on crowd

Sometimes I lose hope when I should be proud

I cry. Silently I weep, I pray, Lord have my soul to keep

I wish. On a shooting star, you come home safe, from afar

Sometimes I read so many have died

In a foreign land, no reason why

Sometimes I hear we shouldn’t fight

“It’s not our war. It’s not our right”

Sometimes I feel all the hurt, and pain

Sometimes I feel the sting of shame

I lift my head high, and offer a salute

God bless this land and all of her troops

If that makes me wrong, may I never be right

God keep you safe when you sleep tonight

I can’t thank you enough for all you have done

Every man, every woman, daughter and son

This poem is my salute, solemn and true

Hold your head high, for the Red, White, and Blue!

Dedicated to all those who have ever put on a uniform, and sacrificed so that another American could sleep in a warm bed at night. Thank you!

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Six Scruffy Thieves

Six Scruffy Thieves

11-5-18

Six scruffy thieves sitting by the bar

Trying to look natural, playing a guitar

The barmaid smiles and she turns

They don’t let her get too far

She whispers, “It’s a mandolin, and

You’re trying too damn hard”

The tallest one approaches, his eyes locked in

He sports a full beard, and seems fairly thin

“I studied music since I was nine, I know how to play”

She says, “You must have tried and failed, I think it’s okay”

The barmaid smiled, and said “This round’s on me”

Six scruffy thieves hollered in glee

 

 

 

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Bear Down Bears fans, Mitch is progressing.

Bear Down guys, and gals. Mitch is progressing, and this is a marathon, not a sprint. I am one of Mitchell Trubisky’s harsher critics, mainly because he was a “1 year wonder” coming out of North Carolina, and unfairly, because Ryan Pace decided to trade up for him. Those two factors can build a lot of angst in the fanbase. Then coach Nagy compounded this with not playing him a whole lot in the preseason. That’s all over now. I’ll tell you why.

First of all, after 5 games Mitch was completing 70% of his passes. Say whatever you want, it’s better to be closer to 70% than not. I don’t care if the passes were short, long, or in between. We have all seen QBs around here not be able to complete those annoying wide receiver screens.

Second, Mitch had his “break out” game most of us were looking for. Yes it was going up vs one of the poorest pass coverage defense in the league, but go take a look at what some QBs did vs them. Not every QB threw for 6 TDs. If you watched the game, you know he could have thrown for 8, or more that day. He was “on” as they like to say. Automatic.

Not every game is going to be like that. The latest thing is to knock Mitchell for his “accuracy”. He’s accurate. He has shown he can drop the ball “in the bucket”. He also has overthrown/underthrown every receiver on the team, probably twice. It’s going to happen. He’s also shown, he can adapt in the second half, and he doesn’t have a lot of quit in him. This Sunday will be Trubisky’s 20th start, and that’s about where the evaluation should start. 20-24 games is probably the right area to find out what you have, but that’s just the beginning. The benefit Mitch now has is a QB minded head coach, who is also the playcaller, and the offensive force behind the plays. He’s only in game 8 on this magical mystery tour.

He’s going to have a tough task going up to Buffalo this weekend. There could be weather, and the Bills are not just going to lay down. I’m pretty sure they held the perennial playoff Patriots to just 12 points into the 3rd quarter. So, have your expectations tempered a little. Trubisky might be 25 for 36, a TD passing, and maybe 240 or so yards. He could easily have 1-2 interceptions. We shall see. He’ll miss some throws, he’ll make some throws, but the game will probably come down to the 4th quarter. That’s all you can really ask for him at this point in his journey.

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Fantasy Impact: Trade Deadline

Trades are starting to become more and more common in today’s NFL. We have seen a bunch of players from Josh Gordon, to Carols Hyde, and lots of players in between. Let’s go over who went where by Tuesday’s trade deadline.

Demaryius Thomas, WR: Broncos to Texans. The Texans suffered a devastating injury to receiver Will Fuller on Thursday night. Thomas is nowhere near as fast, but can be a big/tough target for Deshaun Watson to throw to. I was hoping on a big rebound year for Thomas with Keenum in Denver. He now moves to Houston and certainly has an upgrade at QB. It might take a few week for the chemistry to evolve, but this should be a win for Watson, and Thomas owners.

Golden Tate, WR: Lions to Eagles. Golden Tate has been a pretty productive receiver, especially between the 20’s. He runs good routes, and knows how to get open. I’m not sure if this is a salary move, or perhaps he’s not getting along with the new coaching regime. Either way, the Eagles will benefit. Like with Thomas, it will take a few weeks to develop rhythm and timing with his new QB. Carson Wentz will no doubt benefit from another solid target.

Eli Apple, CB: Giants to Saints. The Saints needed help at cornerback, and the Giants had one to ship out. So far, Apple has been no Charles Woodson. In fact, he was so bad vs the Vikings on Sunday night, he resorted to holding, and pass interference to get by. I don’t know what else to say, other than the Saints have two of the worst corners in the NFL right now. This won’t help the Saints D/ST value any time soon.

Josh Gordon, WR: Browns to Patriots. This trade went down a little earlier, and has already had some early returns for the Pats. There was a little hiccup over the weekend when Gordon was revealed to receive disciplinary action for being late to a team meeting. After missing a quarter of football, Josh came in and snagged a few passes. I don’t see this being a huge issue going forward. Gordon should be in line to rack up some big games going into the “fantasy playoffs”.

Ha-Ha Clinton Dix, Safety: Packers to Redskins. This one is a head- scratcher. Green Bay allegedly is still in the running for playoff competition, but dumped a starting safety. I haven’t watched him closely, but he seemed to be a solid player. Maybe it’s just against my Bears. At any rate, this will likely bolster Washington’s D/ST.

Ty Montgomery, RB/WR: Packers to Baltimore. How quickly players fall out of favor. The Packers might be happy with their remaining running backs. One thing I know is Ty is a football player. John Harbaugh will get the most out of him. That being said, no idea how they will use Montgomery. He’s probably better than either of their top running backs, and could be a decent receiver if given the opportunity. I wouldn’t run to the waiver wire, unless you have the room to stash him.

Dante Fowler, DE: Jaguars to Rams. Rams make another addition to their front seven. Not entirely sure, but their defense doesn’t seem to be living up to it’s preseason hype. They added Ndamukong Suh in free agency, as well as resigning their own DT, Aaron Donald. Fowler was somewhat of a bust in Jacksonville heading into free agency soon. Fowler should benefit from a pretty stout defensive line. Not sure it moves the Rams D/ST up much.

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1st and 5

Week 8, and the season is almost half over. It never ceases to amaze me how fast it goes. We have had a couple trades since last posting. One I did a specific post on (Nick Chubb), and one that happened yesterday (Amari Cooper). They should both have immediate impact, and also season long impact.

QB: Dak Prescott, Cowboys- I was going to list him even before the Cowboys sent a first round pick to Oakland for Amari Cooper. I like his matchups for the playoffs, and Dak has been getting back to form. With the addition of Cooper, things should loosen up a little more. It will take Amari a few weeks to get up to speed.

RB: Marlon Mack, Colts- I liked Mack at the beginning of the season. He was banged up, and eventually ended up sitting out. He’s back now, so if he’s available, go get him.

WR: Tyrel Williams, Chargers- Not getting the most targets, but is making the most of it. Pickens are Slim, so might as well take a shot.

TE: Benjamin Watson, Saints- Not much else out there. He’s got a great QB throwing to him. Fantasy ‘darts’ baby. Throw ’em.

D/ST: Chiefs- Don’t look now, but it seems the Chiefs D is slowly getting better. Colts vs Raiders is a nice streaming option.

 

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The reality of the 2018 Cubs

2018 kind of ended with a solid ‘thud’ for the 2018 Chicago Cubs. Coming off 3 straight trips to the National League Championship Series (NLDS), there were expectations to get to another World Series. After leading their division for the bulk of the season, it slipped away on game 162. They were tied with the brewers and had to play a 163rd game the next day. Things went downhill from there.

You could see it coming a mile away, even though the Cubs were quite a bit over .500 (26 games at one point). They were 2nd in games where they scored 1 or less runs. They were also near the top of high scoring games. It was too close in September for them to trot out minor league players, and give the players some much needed rest. There was also the fact that they played 42 games in 43 days–brutal for any team. Even worse for one trying to win a division.

There was also Joe Maddon probably having his best coaching season in his Cubs tenure. He lost his closer, and top hitter for most of the season. When Bryant came back, he was a shell of his former self. He hit the ball decent, but gone was his spectacular power. The starting pitching stepped up huge in the last 3-4 weeks of the season, but it wasn’t enough. The Cubs also wasted a career year from Javy Baez, who lead the team in most major offensive categories. He also was solid on defense, and ran the bases with a frenzy we haven’t seen in decades.

Theo and Jed did everything they could in the offseason, and regular season to add impact players. Starting with Yu Darvish, he would later add Cole Hamels, Jesse Chavez, and Daniel Murphy. That wasn’t enough either. Without Bryant (and even with Bryant) the mighty Cubs offense stalled out at record numbers. It was feast or famine, and all too many times, the latter.

The Cubs missed winning the division by one game, and only scored 2 runs in games 163, and the playoff game vs Colorado. They had every opportunity to score just one run, and couldn’t do it. In reality, it didn’t matter. Had they made it to the playoffs, they would have faced a red-hot Brewers team. The likeliness that the offense would have somehow come to life is slim to none. In some ways, Cubs fans were spared being swept by the cocky team to the north.

What do they do now? Going into 2019, there are many questions to answer, from the closer, to what to do with Addison Russell, (suspension) to which players they should keep. Should they Trade any? Kyle Schwarber seems to have flatlined. Then there are the Joe Maddon whispers that he either will a) not get an extension, or b) want out to go to another team, and cash in on his success with the Cubs. Let’s make no mistake, a World Series, 3 NLCS, and 4 winning seasons in 4 years? Not sure there is a more productive manager out there right now.

On one hand it’s exciting. The Cubs have a hell of a core. A really solid pitching staff. The opportunity should be there for a couple more years. On the other hand, it’s been the same offense for the last 2-3 years. It’s broken, and needs to be fixed. Hitting coach Chile Davis will no doubt be a scapegoat, but the fact of the matter is, they need a couple guys in that lineup who don’t strike out at high rates. Rizzo and Zobrist are good in that category, but guys like Schwarber, and Contreras, and Happ don’t put out the power, or production to whiff at that pace.

We will no doubt find out more as the regular season officially ends with the conclusion of the World Series.

 

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