The Old Man and the Team

Now, I’m not a White Sox fan per se and wouldn’t want to insult their true fans by saying otherwise.  I’m a Cubs fan (though the Ricketts family has been straining that actuality for some time now.)  But I guess you’d say I’m not the stereotypical Cubs fan from the standpoint that I don’t hate the Sox just because I am a Cubs fan.  The Sox are actually my favorite American League team and second favorite team in MLB because they have “Chicago” written across the front of their uniform.  Call me a hometown dork.

So I was rooting for the Sox this year in the same way I was rooting for them in 2005 when they won it all.  I remember early that season they just kept winning series after series.  I seem to remember them winning or splitting the first ten or twelve series that year.  It was just a great team to watch and fortunately I caught on to their (could it be?!) greatness early on.  It was obvious that this was a team to watch that year.  

Before this season, having become disenchanted with the direction of the Cubs franchise, I was ready to jump onto the Sox bandwagon with both feet.  I was intrigued by the young talent they had and by the way GM Rick Hahn had locked up much of that talent to team-friendly, long-term contracts, ensuring they’d be competitive for many years to come. That’s how you build a high-caliber, championship contending team for the long haul.

And then they hired Tony LaRussa.

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Week 1 - Bears at Rams

As a Bears fan, it’s time for my acumen-free pick for today’s game.

Last I heard, the line was Rams by 7-½.  If I were a gambling man, I’d lay the points and take the Rams all day.

First of all, there’s no way the Bears can take LA in a shooting match.  They MUST run the ball, eat up the clock and minimize Matthew Stafford and Co.’s time with the ball.  Bears coach Matt Nagy, in the entirety of his career in Chicago, has shown an abject inability and/or desire to establish a running game.  When the Bears finally got their O-line and the run in order late last year, it was only when they were playing the worst defenses in the league and, oh yeah, when Nagy had turned play calling over to one of his assistants (Bill Lazor.)  He predictably reclaimed those duties this season. 

Stafford is a huge upgrade from last year’s QB Jared Goff and the Rams are a similar upgrade from the hopeless Lions Stafford played with before.  I suspect he’ll pick apart a young secondary not sufficiently helped by a defensive line that won’t apply the necessary pressure.  Once the Rams score a couple of touchdowns and Bears QB Andy Dalton leads a couple of three-and-outs, Nagy will abandon any pretense of establishing the run and the shootout will commence.  If that happens it’ll be effectively over by sometime in the third quarter after Nagy enacts his usual failure to make any halftime adjustments. 

Rams DT Aaron Donald, the seven-time Pro Bowler (in seven NFL seasons) and three-time AP Defensive Player of the Year, will eat the Bears woeful offensive line for dinner and feast on QB Dalton.  This will be especially true if the Bears are forced into the aforementioned shootout by falling behind in any significant way. 

I’d put the over/under on Aaron Donald sacks at 2
   (Bears RB) David Mongomery’s rushes at 12-1/2

Andy Dalton's turnovers at 2-1/2

This, of course, assumes that Nagy doesn’t panic and put hotshot rookie QB Justin Fields in the game.

My prediction is Rams 41-19 and it won’t be that close.  I’ve got the Bears scoring their final touchdown in garbage time and missing a 2-point attempt on one of their touchdowns.

Of course I’ll be wrong but that’s my guess, anyway.  Oh yeah, I think the over/under on Bears wins this season is 7-½.  Give me the under on that.

Because I’m a Bears fan I can only hope to be wrong.  Somebody tell me if I actually need to come off the ledge.

WAKE UP FROM YOUR WOKE SLUMBER: Bill Maher Bitch Slaps American Libs

Sometimes Bill Maher pisses me off. His militant anti-religion stance is grating to me and I've sometimes found him to lean a little too libertarian for my tastes. But he's intelligent and usually worth listening to. And in this case, he's spot-on as far as I'm concerned. Yes, he holds a lot of views that one would call liberal (views that I also largely hold.) But he's also sober enough not to fall for the worst of the Woke excesses of liberal America. It's with nauseating hubris that many Americans call America the “greatest country in the world,” but most non-Americans will probably tell you the same thing. It's just that their views usually focus on what genuinely makes this country great (freedom, democracy, etc.) while leaving out the racist/nativist/no-concept-of-how-a-democracy-actually-functions part.

Concert for Bangladesh at 50

This is a couple of days late, but this short summation of the life of George Harrison brought to my attention that it was fifty years ago on August 1 that his Concert for Bangladesh took place. And what seems to me to be the VERY recent 50th anniversary of the Beatles landmark performance on the Ed Sullivan show illustrates just how quickly the lads did what they did. If you were to transpose their career to place the Sullivan gig on its fiftieth anniversary (Feb 9, 2014), they would have broken up last year. Not a bad little run.

The Ricketts Racket

David Haugh correctly identifies the Cubs' offseason Yu Darvish salary dump as a key marker in the process that became the salary dump deluge of this past weekend. That mass cutting of the cords with three iconic stars (Rizzo, Baez and Bryant) signals another total rebuild and the return to Cub futility we've known so well for decades.

But the real beginning of it all came after the 2019 season. The Cubs had acquired Nick Castellanos as a short-term rental that year and he electrified their lineup. He was the contact hitter they so desperately needed (and have continued to need) to complement the mashers they had, including the trio mentioned above.

Yes, it would have cost the Cubbies a king's ransom to sign him to a long-term extension, but by not doing so the Ricketts family made plain that their priority wasn't to acquire another championship to complement the 2016 miracle. That team, it turns out, was merely a complement to the 1985 Super Bowl Bears – another Chicago team that woefully underachieved on its boundless championship promise by winning only one title.

Meanwhile the Ricketts' true priority is on display for all to see. They clearly don't regard the Cubs as the public trust that their fans feel them to be. Rather, the Chicago Cubs are merely a front company for the Wrigleyville real estate empire that the TD Ameritrade robber barons are intent on building.

Welcome back, Laughable Losers. Go, Sox!

The Aggravating Pace of Change

Since 1992 (except in cases of injury) the Green Bay Packers have employed exactly two (2) quarterbacks – Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers, who leads them now. Not coincidentally, Favre is in the Hall of Fame and Rodgers will surely be enshrined in his first year of eligibility. Set your TiVo for five years after he retires.

In the same time span, nearly 35 quarterbacks have played for the Chicago Bears. From Jim Harbaugh, Peter Tom Willis and Will Furrer in '92 to Mitch Trubisky and Nick Foles last season. Sprinkled in the list are such NFL legends as Moses Moreno, Cade McNown and Henry Burris.

The last great QB they had was Sid Luckman, whom they drafted before WWII and who retired in 1950. Such is the fortune the Bears have had at what is now considered the most important position in team sports.

The last Next Big Thing the Bears had at QB was Mitch Trubisky. If you follow the NFL, you may know that GM Ryan Pace traded several draft picks to move up one (1!) spot to select Trubisky with the second overall pick. But you surely know that he passed on Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson in the process. The punchline to that joke is that Pace still has a job and will be entrusted to select the Bears Next Big Thing.

Trubisky's Bears career officially ended today, a day after the Bears agreed to terms with washed up former Cincinnati Bengals QB Andy Dalton. The litany continues. With any luck, the Bears will suck bad enough next year for even Bears ownership to cut their losses and launch Pace's ass. It seems the only way forward is down.

670 The Score's Dan Bernstein: Nobody Says Nothing Quite Like Bears GM Ryan Pace

Bears general manager Ryan Pace has mastered the art of talking into a microphone for minutes on end and saying absolutely nothing. The minuscule nature of his content-to-words ratio is astonishing. Almost as astonishing as owner George McCaskey's gullibility quotient in keeping Pace employed for so many years.
One can only hope the team's mediocrity will soon be broken. With any luck, the Bears will be miserable enough next year to impel McCaskey to fire his ass. I'm holding out for 2-12. Anybody with me?


Several unrelated events all happened on today's date (February21.)

(1) In 1848 Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels published “The Communist Manifesto.”

(2) In 1857 Congress outlawed foreign currency as legal tender in the U.S.

(3) In 1918 the last Carolina parakeet (or budgie) died in captivity at the Cincinnati Zoo.

(4) In 1934 Nicaraguan rebel leader Augusto Cesar Sandino was assassinated by his country's National Guard.

Oddly, all of these events would be indirectly referred to in a song by the Clash called "The Magnificent Seven" or the album it appeared on. To wit:

Karlo Marx and Friedrich Engels (1)
Came to the checkout at the 7-11
Marx was skint – but he had sense
Engels lent him the necessary pence” (2)

Vacuum cleaner sucks up budgie!” (3)

And the song itself is the opening track on an album by the Clash called “Sandinista!” The record was named for the Nicaraguan rebel force that overthrew the country's longtime dictator, Anastasio Somoza (Debayle). Somoza had been the latest Nicaraguan ruler in a family dynasty that had controlled the country for over forty years.

The dynasty had been founded by his father, also named Anastasio Somoza (Garcia). National Guard troops led by the elder Somoza had assassinated the anti-imperialist rebel Sandino (4) and Somoza would subsequently seize power in 1936. In 1979 the rebels who called themselves the “Sandinistas” would overthrow the younger Somoza.

It's worth noting that the Sandinistas were a socialist group that presumably held “The Communist Manifesto” in high regard. Personally, I have no fondness for Communism and only bring all this up because of the strangeness connecting these events. I will say that the Clash apparently found common cause with the Sandinistas from the standpoint that they threw off imperialist oppressors and took their country back. Whether the band would approve of what the Sandinistas subsequently did with their country is, I suppose, up to question. You'd have to ask them.

Finally, I have no reason to think the Clash knew anything about all these coincidences. And of course, none of it really matters. If you're among the few who've read this far, you can file it under the category labeled, “What the hell does any of that mean? But it is kinda weird.”

It's the 14th Amendment, Stupid!!!

The main point, then, is that Congress can apply the 14th Amendment disqualification to Trump by majority vote.”

Impeaching Donald Trump after he's left office is NOT unconstitutional. Other officials (though never an ex-president until Trump) have been impeached after leaving office. Not only is that precedent, but common sense also comes into play: if officials couldn't be impeached after leaving office, there would be nothing preventing them committing “high crimes and misdemeanors” shortly before the end of their terms and leaving before they could be held accountable.

However, in the crucial court of public opinion such logic doesn't matter because too few average observers can appreciate such subtlety of constitutional law. Most people will just look at you crosseyed and say, “You mean you're gonna impeach him when he's already out of office? How stupid is that?”

So once again, Trump has been impeached and once again, spineless and principle-free Republican lawmakers will fail to convict. This will give the Inciter-in-Chief yet another victory to crow about; it will only bolster his myth among the true believers, making him even harder and more dangerous to stand up to in the future.

Democrats should have avoided impeachment altogether. The so-called “unconstitutional” nature of impeaching a former president – while wrong – provided easy cover for Republican House members not to impeach and Republican Senators not to convict. It should have been presented as a simple matter of his having violated the Constitution. It's right there in the 14th Amendment:

No Person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.

And, according to (and others) finding Trump guilty of violating the 14th Amendment would require only a simple majority, rather than the two-thirds Senate vote required to convict him in his impeachment trial.

But no, once again, Democrats have apparently let a little success (the election of Biden & their new slim majority in the Senate) cloud their judgment. In their zeal to punish Trump, they've ignored the much easier way to do it (applying the 14th Amendment) and have opted instead for the near-certain failure of impeachment.

At least I get to join the company of the celebrated Will Rogers by saying, “I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat.”

Principle is Gone-zo: Fear and Cowering in the Impeachment Trial

It's so cute how the Democrats on Capitol Hill think that presenting more evidence will convince their GOP colleagues that Trump should be convicted in his impeachment trial. Of all the things that enter into the Republican calculus of how to proceed politically, the weight of evidence is not among them. Much more salient to their strategy is trying to appeal to Trump's knuckle-dragging base and trying to avoid being killed for crossing them.

Replaying video of the events of Jan 6 and including footage not previously seen only increases Republicans' terror of being murdered by these boorish hooligans. And that's not hyperbole. GOP politicians know that publicly standing up to Trump exposes them to the very real risk of harm at hands of these thugs.