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Sunday, June 29, 2014

Bill Swerski's Sports Talk Chicago episode 017

It's a Blackhawks and Bull-centric show.  Chris from TheThirdManIn.com and Gary come on to speak about the draft and free agency.  Plus we reminisce about DePaul basketball in the 90s.



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Thursday, June 26, 2014

What the Bulls do in the draft might tell us about their future plans


Tonight is the NBA draft.  The Bulls currently have picks #16 and #19 in the first round.  They also have expiring contracts, the option to amnesty Carlos Boozer, the best player in Europe ready to come over, and lingering memories of being quickly bounced out of the playoffs this year.

I think we (and the collective media) have talked a ton about how the Bulls can improve to overcome the Miami Heat hurdle.  But does what they do in tonight's NBA draft tip their hand?

The Bulls have a few options here.  1) They can draft players they need that will fit their holes.  2) They can draft players they don't need as trade bait.  3) They can trade the picks.  4) They can trade 1 of the 2.  5) They can draft European players (we'll talk why in a moment).

Should the Bulls stand pat and draft American players with the #16 and #19 picks and they pick a scorer/shooter, a stretch power forward, or a developmental big man...odds are they are going to stand pat with their core roster, bring over Mirotic, and look for some mid-level free agents.  Why?  Although it's great to have 2 first round picks, they cost money.  They have to be slotted for a certain cap space.  With their cap space, Mirotic expected salary, and the existing contracts (even if they amnesty Boozer), the Bulls wouldn't have enough to tempt a Lebron or Carmelo to come to town.  So they'd be preparing to fill their own needs through the draft and lower level free agents. 

Should the Bulls take a position not listed above, you'd have to think they have a trade in the works and couldn't get a deal done before they had to pick.  They are taking the player for another team to be a cog in the trade machine.  It's always harder to trade players rather than the pick, but things happen.  If this is the situation, look for the Bulls to make a major free agency push.  It would appear they free cap space to be able to offer close to a max contract.  This will be more evident if they move a high price veteran in the package.

Should the Bulls draft 1 or 2 European players, this could be a situation where they have flexibility.  If they become major players in free agency, they can stock the European players away in the Euro leagues and have them not count towards the cap.  This would allow more financial space for a big contract.  But if they strike out on a big name, they can still bring the draft picks over to play this year.  I think this scenario is very likely.

The Bulls desperately need another shooter.  I think they have their hearts set on Michigan's Nik Stauskas.  One rumor is that the Bulls are trying to trade their #16 and #19 for an early pick in the #8-#11 range to be able to draft him.  What will this move say about the Bulls future plans?  This is the wild card situation.  It could be a case where they're trying to fill a major hole with best possible draft pick.  But it could also be a cap saving maneuver.  #16 and #19 picks will have a combined cap space higher than a single draftee in the #10 range.  So you get cap room while adding a better player.  You have more flexibility to go after a big name in free agency.  But if you don't succeed, at least you filled one hole.  And add Mirotic coming over with a rookie shooter and your offense becomes less anemic.

The NBA is difficult to GM because you have to draft before free agency opens.  If the position the Bulls are in isn't a perfect example to present commissioner Adam Silver about the error of the NBA's way, I don't know what is.  The Bulls have the potential to leap frog into an Eastern Conference favorite if things go right.  But they also could struggle as a playoff bubble team if they aren't able to land a free agent and make the wrong move on draft night.

Let's wait and see and analyze tomorrow.
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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

What are the Bears getting with Adrian Wilson?


By now, you all know that the Chicago Bears have signed safety Adrian Wilson to a 1-year deal.  Wilson, in his career with the Cardinals, has boasted a pretty impressive career.  Let's take a look at some of the highlights:

  • 5-time All-Star
  • 3-time All-Pro
  • member of the 25 sack/25 interception club (one of only 6 players in NFL history)
  • Cardinals all-time forced fumbles leader
  • Cardinals all-time passes defended leader
  • Cardinals record holder for longest interception return (99 yards)
  • Most sacks by a defensive back in an NFL season
Given the level of safety play for the Bears last year, this might seem like a godsend signing.  But let's take a closer look.  Wilson had signed a 3 year deal with the New England Patriots before last season.  Prior to the regular season, Wilson tore his Achilles tendon.  Achilles injuries heal, right?

Between 1997 and 2002, there were 31 achilles rupture injuries in the NFL.  Of those, only 21 ever came back to play in the NFL ever again.  The average length of recovery for the injury being 11 months.  Wilson's injury occurred last August, putting the standard recovery for July...just in time for training camp.  However, of the 21 players that made returns from ruptured achilles tendons, none came back to the level prior to injury.  Each player decreased in average numbers of games played per season and decreased in statistical performance.  
 
Considering the statistics and the fact that Wilson will be turning 35 in October, the odds aren't looking good that Adrian will wind up being a contributor to this revamped defense.  However, with the current safety crop of holdover Chris Conte, rookie Brock Vereen, and free agent newcomers MD Jennings, Danny McCray, and Ryan Mundy, even a 75% Adrian Wilson still has a punchers chance to make the starting roster.

Let's see how this all plays out in July. 
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Monday, June 23, 2014

5 Reasons Carmelo Anthony is Not Coming to Chicago


I keep reading all of these Carmelo Anthony to the Chicago Bulls rumors.  It's clear that they make sense...for the Bulls.  The Bulls need scoring to make it past the first round of the playoffs.  Their anemic offense, even with a healthy Derrick Rose, needs a second viable scoring option.  But what's in it for Melo?
Here are 5 reasons to not get your hope up about Carmelo coming to Chicago:

1. Money.
There is so much more money to be had in New York.  By NBA rules, the Knicks can offer Melo 5 years and $129Million as a max deal. Any other team can, at best, offer Anthony 4 years, $96Million.  Then to think that the Bulls can realistically only offer him a 4 year $70Million contract.  By leaving New York to come to Chicago, he is looking at a net loss of $59Million.  Although he may be looking to give a discount for a title, he won't give up that much money.

2. One Dimensional Play
Regardless of whether you think Carmelo Anthony is incapable of playing defense or that he's too focused on offense to waste energy on defense, the fact remains that Tom Thibodeau is a hustle, play hard, defensive coach.  He is also the head coach of the Chicago Bulls.  Why in the world would Carmelo come to a team where he plays in an archaic offense and is forced to expend a lot of energy on defense?  Doesn't make sense for him,

3. Pieces aren't here.
If Carmelo is true to his word and is first and foremost looking for an NBA title, why would he team with Rose (coming off 2 terrible knee injuries), Noah (the ultimate try-hard guy) and their band of merry misfits in his quest?  He could team with James Harden and Dwight Howard in Houston or even Lebron James and Wade in Miami.  Those teams are much closer to an NBA title and could pay him similir, if not more, money.

4.  Who's the man?
Carmelo is a known prima donna.  It's really hard to argue this.  He may get along with others, but does he play well with others?  I would say his experience with Allen Iverson and Stoudemire would say not.  So does he expect to be the man coming to Chicago with former MVP Derrick Rose and all-star, fan-favorite Joakim Noah?  If not, how does he cope?

5.  Lala
Carmelo's wife, Lala, is a huge reason that Anthony left the doldrums of Denver for the night life of New York.  When asked about the impending opt-out of his NY contract, Lala said "Of course I have a say where he goes"  I can't see her wanting to stray far from NY or LA for the arctic cold of Chicago.  Where Lala goes, Carmelo goes.
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NBA $15 Legends

Here's the game we referenced in episode 16.

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Saturday, June 21, 2014

Bill Swerski's Sports Talk Chicago episode 016

Goodbye to Israel Idonije and Patrick Mannelly.  Bears minicamp tidbits.  Cubs streaking.  White Sox stumbling.  NBA what-ifs.  And Blackhawks pipedreams...all on this episode of Bill Swerski's Sports Talk Chicago



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Friday, June 20, 2014

Chicago Bears Patrick Mannelly to retire after 17 seasons

Long-time Chicago Bear, Patrick Mannelly, has announced his twitter account that he plans to retire.  Good luck with post-football life. 
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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Bryant-o-meter and Baez Watch

In homage to the Shawon-O-Meter from when I was younger, I plan to track two of the Cubs top prospects: Bryant and Baez.


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5 Questions that will shape the rest of the Cubs 2014 season.

The 2014 Chicago Cubs season is just barely over 40% finished and there have already been a lot of highs and a lot of lows.  Very roller coaster season.  They currently reside at the bottom of the NL Central standings, but they also just had a great extra inning win against the Marlins (with Travis Wood hitting the game winning RBI) But we've come up with 5 questions that will likely define the rest of the season and the rebuilding process going forward.

1.  Can Luis Valbuena or Mike Olt develop into the third baseman of the future for the Cubs?
There's no doubt that Mike Olt has been pretty bad this season and even worse as of late.  He's forced Ricky Renteria into benching him.  Olt is currently batting .152, which is not an anomaly because that is what he batted in his only season with Texas.  Per baseball-reference, his WAR (wins against replacement) is -0.4, which means he loses wins for his team versus a replacement player.  However, he's an intriguing player.  He has the power you are looking for at the corner spot...10 HRs and 25 RBIs. And he's 25 years old.
Luis Valbuena is the other 3B option. He's a couple years older than Olt at 28, but he actually looks like a decent professional hitter at the plate.  He's batting a solid .284 and has had some timely hitting this year.  But Valbuena isn't a natural 3B and isn't so hot at the corner spot.  He only has 4 HRs and his career BA is .230 over 7 seasons.
The Cubs brass want Olt to succeed.  But can he rise to the challenge?  Does Valbuena have a coming out party in his 7th season?

2. Is Junior Lake a true work-in-progress or is he another Brett Jackson?
Junior Lake is fast, athletic, and has some decent pop in his bat.  But Lake is a complete enigma.  One game he is going 3-6 with 6 RBIs and has the fanbase thinking the Cubs have solved at least one future outfield spot.  Then you look at his season and he strikes out 8 times for every walk.  He strikes out 1 out of every 3 at bats.  You can't have that if you are expecting to stay in the bigs for long, unless you're putting up 40 HRs and 100 RBIs.
So the big question is whether the 24 year old Lake can start seeing the ball better at the plate or is he the next Brett Jackson (bust flop)?

3. Can the Cubs get value for Jeff Samardzija in a trade?
When the Cubs traded Matt Garza, they got a decent swap out of it. For Garza, they got CJ Edwards, Mike Olt, and Justin Grimm from the Texas Rangers.  Grimm, at 25 years old, has pitched decently for the Cubs this year.  Appearing in 32 games with an ERA of 3.00 and a more than solid WHIP of 1.2.  CJ Edwards is ranked as the Cubs 3rd best prospect.  And Mike Olt has played a ton for the big league club.  That was off a half year rental player in Garza.  With a pitcher in Samardzija that is having a career year, has a year and a half left of team control and is affordable for a player of his caliber...can they pull off an even better trade than the one they got from Texas?  I think it's imperative that the Cubs really hose another team in this trade in order to make up for losing a player of Samardzija's caliber.

4.  How does the team respond to the potential trading of Jeff Samrdzija and Jason Hammel?
This team has had some ups and a lot of downs.  They are actually playing decently right now just weeks away from the trade deadline.  How does this group of young players respond to the adversity of losing one or more teammates?  How do they respond to the loss of productivity from the mound?  This response will say alot about who these kids are.

5. Do Jed and Theo bring the kids up?
This is the $100,000 question. Kris Bryant is tearing the cover off the ball in AA.  Javier Baez is turning his season around.  Do the Cubs bring them up in September when they're mathematically eliminated from playoff contention?  These two are undoubtedly the future face of the franchise.  Do the Cubs bring them up to give them experience at the major league level, to give the fans a glimpse of hope, and to hopefully start speeding the rebuild up?
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Saturday, June 14, 2014

Bill Swerski's Sports Talk Chicago episode 015

Talking MLB draft with co-host Gary and we break down Bulls rumors and do a couple two tree notes on the Bears and Blackhawks



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Bears Rookie Punter booming kicks

Check out the interview with Bears Special Team coach Joe Decamilis about rookie punter Pat O'Donnell below.  This goes along with what I mentioned on this week's episode.

Link to ChicagoBears.com
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Sunday, June 8, 2014

Bill Swerski's Sports Talk Chicago episode 014

Chris Block from The Third Man in and contributor to The Committed Indian stops by to talk Blackhawks, interview with Roland Lazenby author of Michael Jordan: The Life, and Gary chats with us about the Cubs, Sox and Bulls.

For those only interested in 1 or 2 sports:
Bears Talk till 15:40
Hawks Talk till 1:21:15ish
Roland Lazenby till 1:41:00
Cubs/Sox talk till 2:12:00
Bulls Talk after

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Friday, June 6, 2014

Congratulations to Pat Foley!

Blackhawks play-by-play man Pat Foley will enter the Hockey Hall of Fame in Nov. 17 after being named the 31st recipient of the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award for broadcasting on Thursday.  The Foster Hewitt Memorial Award is an award named after Foster Hewitt and presented by the Hockey Hall of Fame to members of the radio and television industry who make outstanding contributions to their profession and the game of ice hockey during their broadcasting career. The award winners are selected by the NHL Broadcasters' Association.  This is a truly wonderful honor and well-deserved.



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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

RIP Don Zimmer

Don Zimmer was a great baseball man and an important figure in Chicago Cubs history.  It's with heavy heart that we say goodbye to him at age 83.  RIP, Don.

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Bryant-O-Meter

In homage to the Shawon-O-Meter from when I was younger, I plan to track two of the Cubs top prospects: Bryant and Baez.
Let's also look at the accolades Bryant has received:

  • Southern League Hitter of the week (twice)
  • MLB Pipelines Hitter of the week
  • MLB Pipelines Hitter of the month
  • Golden Spikes
  • Arizona Fall League MVP
  • Southern League All-Star
How much longer before we see Bryant promoted to AAA Iowa?
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Baez Watch 6.2.2014

In homage to the Shawon-O-Meter from when I was younger, I plan to track two of the Cubs top prospects: Bryant and Baez.

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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Fight erupts at Bears OTAs

That means it's almost football season!
And if you're curious, Jordan Mills, Lamarr Houston, and Martellus Bennet were involved in the scuffle.  But I don't think it matters. Let's get nasty.  Can't beat the pack being passive.


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Monday, June 2, 2014

Congratulations to the Chicago Blackhawks

and to the LA Kings.  Both amazing teams.  Best series of hockey I've ever seen.  It's a shame one team had to lose.  Don't worry, we'll be back to reclaim Lord Stanley's Cup next season.
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Purchase information for "Wrigley Field: The Long Life and Contentious Times of the Friendly Confines"

I forgot to update this:
Here is the information to purchase the book

Wrigley Field: The Long Life and Contentious Times of the Friendly Confines

by Stuart Shea (as heard on the latest episode of the show).




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