Speed Read: Bears Somehow Still In Playoff Hunt

If there was ever a time to start considering some minimum standards for teams to make the playoffs, it’s right now. With the potential for both the Chargers and the Cardinals to make the playoffs - and have a home game! - with 8-8 records should be enough to make any football fan cringe. Has the NFL suddenly turned into the NBA’s Eastern Conference? Shouldn’t there be some sort of rule that you have to be above .500 to make the playoffs.

Kyle Orton

And there there’s the Chicago Bears, who are somehow still in the thick of the playoff chase after pulling out a 20-17 overtime victory over the Green Bay Packers thanks ato a blocked field goal with time expiring to keep the game tied. Yes, those Chicago Bears. The one with the offensive playbook that is less sophisticated than that from the old Tecmo Bowl Nintendo game. The one with no pass defense to speak of. The one with Kyle Freakin’ Orton at quarterback.

But here they sit at 9-6, with a chance to either win the NFC North or get a wild card, despite having needed basically every result on Sunday to go exactly as they did for that to happen. If the Bears pull this off, it will be a Christmas miracle the likes of which haven’t been seen in Chicago since Macaulay Culkin single-handedly fought off Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern.

Home Alone

The NFL in 2008: you don’t have to be good to make the playoffs, just conveniently geographically positioned.

Of course, the highlight of the whole game might have been during the coin toss. It wasn’t a total debacle like the Jerome Bettis coin toss against the Lions a few years ago, but it was pretty humorous. If you didn’t see it during the game, keep your eye on Brian Urlacher during the toss:

I think the referee needs to practice the coin toss a bit more. And way to not even have your eyes on the coin, Brian. Head on a swivel!

Meanwhile, the San Francisco 49ers aren’t making the playoffs, but they are playing a lot better under “interim” head coach Mike Singletary (and really, is there any way he won’t be the head coach next season?). And they have a plan for Sunday’s season finale at home against the Redskins.

Ray Wersching

According to the SANTA ROSA PRESS DEMOCRAT, along with the throwback uniforms, many members of the team will also be sporting “throwback” mustaches. Posted on the wall for motivation are pictures of great mustaches from 49ers past, including John Ayers, Ray Wersching, Jimmy Johnson and Roger Craig. Let’s just hope they don’t decide to imitate Wersching’s financial strategies as well.

  • DEADSPIN wonders if Fox NFL analyst Brian Baldinger’s gross right pinky finger is getting - well, even more gross. Honestly, there’s no way to fix that thing? Maybe a pair of pliers?
  • Brian Baldinger and his gross finger

  • Along with baseball, another event on tap for the first month of operations at the New Yankee Stadium is an “inspirational night of encouragement by TV minister Joel Osteen. Unfortunately for him, a worker cursed the event by burying an old sequined dress from Tammy Faye Baker beneath the stadium during construction.
  • Derek Jeter is hardly opening his arms to potentially welcome Manny Ramirez into the Yankees’ fold, telling the NEWARK STAR-LEDGER that the Yankees “don’t need” the mercurial free agent because their line-up has “scored plenty of runs.” Keep in mind, this is a team that let Melky Cabrera and his .249 batting average get more than 400 ABs last season. I think you could use the help in the line-up, Captain.
  • What it is about Texas high school cheerleading that always seems to wind up getting some combination of school administrators, lawyers or the police involved? This time the DALLAS MORNING NEWS says it’s a disgruntled parent who says her daughter didn’t make the team because of harassment from other cheerleaders.
  • The BASEBALL THINK FACTORY warns that you not to call Reds broadcaster Marty Brennaman and talk about Adam Dunn’s high number of walks. I suggest that we all call his show and demand to talk about that just to see if Brennaman’s head will explode.
  • An undersized guard named Curry helping a mid-major team make some noise with a deadly jumper? RIVALS.COM wants the world to get ready for Stephen Curry’s younger brother Seth, who has been leading Liberty back from the basketball wasteland.
  • Animal Planet has a new TV show premiering in February called “Jockeys,” about the trials and tribulations of the riders at the Oak Tree Meet at Santa Anita. It’s the most compelling story about little people since “Under the Rainbow” - and 100 percent Chevy Chase free!
  • Drexel head coach Bruiser Flint missed the Dragons’ game against Memphis and his mentor John Calipari after being suspended one game for being ejected from his team’s loss to Bucknell last Thursday. The NEW YORK DAILY NEWS says it’s good he missed the game: the Tigers crushed Drexel, 87-49. Hey, at least Drexel still got their $90,000.
  • Finally…did you love the Super Bowl Shuffle but wish that involved less football and more rapping about maple syrup and Grey Poupon? Then in honor of the Bears’ win last night, the Super Broker Shuffle is for you:

Who is your pick for the NFL Coach of the Year?

View Results

Reds Radio Guys Delaying Ballpark Calls For TV

Since the Cincinnati Reds took over selling ads for their radio broadcasts (the Big Red Ad Machine?), they’ve been looking for ways to increase revenue. The newest idea: syncing up the radio broadcasts with FSN Ohio television broadcasts to encourage people to take in both media sources, doubling the eyeballs by double-counting the senses.

Steve Bartman

This emphasizes the legendary team of Marty and Thom Brennaman at the cost of long-running TV team of George Grande and Chris Welsh. Also, people at the park can expect a delay of up to nine seconds between the action they just saw and the description by a Brennaman family member (as required by Ohio state law).
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Brog: Buss Blows Off Boston, Busted In Las Vegas

If you travel this space regularly, you know I’m going to be moving from South Beach to L.A. shortly. Now if I’m able to make it back home by this weekend, I’ll goto Game Five of the NBA Finals at Staples between the C’s and Lakers. And have coverage on SbB.

Jerry Buss Lacey Jones

(We’d rather have poker pro Lacey Jones play with our stack too, ol’ Doc Buss)

I didn’t make it to the first two games of the Finals in Boston, which isn’t all that surprising. But what may have left some Boston fans befuddled is that Lakers Owner Jerry Buss and daughter Jeanie Buss (also Phil Jax’s GF) didn’t go either.

Jeanie stayed back in her Marina home, ordering in (C & O?) for the games. Meanwhile, her father decided a poker tournament in Vegas was a higher priority, which means “double-down” is now taking on a whole new meaning for ol’ Doc Buss.

Now, anyone who follows the Lakers is in no way surprised at this revelation. In the case of elder Buss, this is the same guy who refused to come home from a vacation in Italy to attend to the final, fateful Shaq-Kobe blowup - which eventually led to O’Neal’s ouster (hindsight: that was Buss’ plan all along).

Jeanie Buss basketballs

(Jeanie’s priority #2 - after Phil’s Doan’s pills - score Hef courtside seats)

The only thing surprising regarding Jerry passing on Game 1 & 2 in The Bean is that he didn’t do it from the O.G. in Vegas.

Wait a minute, who said he didn’t?

And of course, Jeanie has her priorities too, like setting up Hef for his Game 3 digs on 1111 South Fig. Playboy’s Hugh Hefner will make a rare appearance at a Lakers game on Tuesday. More importantly, he’s bringing his three fake girlfriends with him.

Girls Next Door

(Yes, the old goat will be courtside too)

So, I think I might be able to make it out of Miami by Tuesday night. If I do, I’ll be filing from the road. Hopefully I’ll be able to scare up something interesting along the way but don’t hold your breath. Read more…

Video: Reds’ Mascot Loses Head Over 7-HR Day

The Cincinnati Reds were homer-happy on Wednesday, as they lit up the Cubs with seven fence-clearers in their 9-0 win. Joey Votto did most of the damage for the Big Red Machine, clobbering three home runs on his own. The Reds’ first baseman certainly was going out of his head.

Joey Votto Mr. Redlegs Cincinnati Reds

Check that - it was the Reds’ mascot who really went out of his.

BUGS & CRANKS has footage of Mr. Redlegs taking a pre-game tour around the Great American Ballpark, driven by trusty costumed sidekick Gapper. Unfortunately, while motoring along the warning track, Redlegs took a Great American misstep which ended in a Great American fall.

Video of the spill is after the jump. Read more…

Ex-Cubs Coach Cashing In On Time-Tested Tirade

Today marks the 25th anniversary of one of the most memorable postgame meltdowns in Major League Baseball. It was on this date in 1983 that then-Chicago Cubs manager Lee Elia went off on a terrific tirade that had more utterances of the f-word than the entire run-time of “Scarface“.

Lee Elia Chicago Tribune front page

(As printed on the front page of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE)

For those that need a refresher, here’s the original very-NSFW rant, while those with more sensitive ears can enjoy this bleep-heavy version.

And as Darren Rovell of CNBC comes to learn about our capitalistic society, classic cursing can become quite the cash cow. Read more…

Rowand Should’ve Skipped That White Castle Visit

It’s been quite enjoyable to tune into Cincinnati Reds games this year - not for the play on the field, but the action in the press box. When it’s not Jeff Brantley calling out players for not being clutch - only to have said player immediately hit a game-winning home run - it’s Marty Brennaman calling out Cubs fans for being obnoxious.

Jeff Brantley Marty Brennaman White Castle

Well, as AWFUL ANNOUNCING tells us, the fun continued over the weekend, as another Reds contest was witness to another memorable moment in broadcast history. But this time, it wasn’t Marty or Jeff supplying the hilarity (with video after the jump).

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Wade Star-Gazing?; Rose Not So Sweet After Fight

Wrigleyville merchants selling offensive t-shirts? Bet they reply, “Me so solly!”

Dwyane Wade dating Star Jones? How in the world did this happen?

Dwyane Wade Star Jones

Derrick Rose isn’t looking so good for the NBA Draft, after losing a fight with a guy over a gal.

Marty Brennaman, tell us how you really feel about Cubs fans.

• Turns out Will Perdue is not a big fan of sports bloggers. Will Mark Cuban offer him a contract?

• Buy me some peanuts and turkey testicles, I don’t care if I ever get back…

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Brennaman Berates Cubs Fans For Balls Barrage

DEUCE OF DAVENPORT and BIG LEAGUE STEW reveal that Reds broadcaster Marty Brennaman is not particularly fond of Cubs fans.

Marty Brennaman Cubs fans

His true feelings about the denizens of Wrigley Field came quite evident Wednesday night. When Adam Dunn hit a solo shot onto Sheffield Avenue, the ball was - as is tradition - tossed back onto the field. However, the ball was soon accompanied by 15 others, tossed by fans who had been holding them since batting practice.

And Marty didn’t enjoy the impromptu ball barrage (audio after the jump):

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