Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Cubs Look to Future with Rizzo Call Up

Every fanbase gets excited when a top prospect gets called up to the majors. Baseball fans have this fascination with top prospects; they represent a bright future and a sign that changes are coming at the major league level. Fair or unfair, whenever a top prospect is called up the expectations are that the kid is going to be instrumental in changing whatever event that precipitated his arrival in the first place. Now, this could involve becoming the final piece of a possible winning team (see Mark Prior and the 2003 Cubs) or being "The Man" who is going to start turning everything around. Regardless, the promotion of a top prospect to the majors places enormous pressure on that young player. And for Theo Epstein and the Cubs, the pressure is two-fold. Not only do they watch Anthony Rizzo arrive in the same fanfare as similar prospects with all of the above that comes along with it - his call up also will be used as a determination of how the new Epstein era is coming along as well.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Notre Dame Freshman Class Preview

It's been a trying summer. The Bulls season ended early with the horrific injury to Derrick Rose, which will even affect the next season going forward. The Cubs are awful; really, there's nothing else to say about that. The Hawks season ended early as well, and they're left with questions going forward as to whether their core can get the job done. And for me, personally, I'm left studying for the Bar Exam which leaves my free time (including posting here) sporadic and totally infrequent. So, the only reasonable thing to do during rough times such as these is to look forward. And with the incoming freshman class for Notre Dame arriving on campus this week for workouts and summer school, they're a perfect group to take a look at going forward.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Soler Signing Sends a Message

Let's face it: there hasn't been much to talk about in the way of baseball on the North Side this season. I haven't even written about the Cubs, aside from a specific piece on Kerry Wood, since their preview on April 4. Sure, I've been busy. But even more than that, the Cubs are downright terrible, finding themselves in the midst of a dogfight with the Minnesota Twins to secure the rights to the Number 1 pick in the 2013 MLB Draft. Such is the way things go after a regime change, and as Theo Epstein forewarned us in a refreshingly honest manner before the season, such is the way things will go for the foreseeable future. It takes a lot to tear down an underachieving, aging, and fundamentally unproductive team. This is especially true now that the foundation is being laid by Epstein, meaning the money overspent on veterans will no longer be the norm, and now will be the exception. Epstein has made it a point to establish the Cubs Way, and to bring players into the organization who will fulfill this calling. The problem is, when Theo got here the cupboard was relatively bare. But after some self-identification, some offseason moves, and a good 2012 draft, things are moving in the right direction. And yet still, none of these moves resonated with fans, even in a season desperate for news, quite like the signing of Jorge Soler today.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Two Years Later, Hawks Still Rebuilding

It's been two years since The Goal
Jesse Rogers, the Hawks beat writer for ESPNChicago.com, published an interesting article in rememberance of the Hawks' two year anniversary today of their 2010 Stanley Cup Victory. In the article, Rogers, who I respect very much for the work he puts into following the team, details the team's failures in achieving success in the two years since the Hawks won the title. He brings up several valid points, whether it be that only 8 players and 1 coach remain from that team, the general manager of that team is up for an award for a different team, and how all the expectations of the team's core have not thus far played out. But most importantly to me is the distinction that Rogers makes regarding "dynasties." His claim is that as of right now, the Hawks, who organized their core of players to resemble the dynastic underpinnings of the annual success of the Detroit Red Wings, more closely resemble the failed "dynasty" of the Chicago Bears in the mid to late 1980s than the Detroit Red Wings of the past 10-15 years. In a way, he's right. But I don't quite agree with him.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Smith Commitment Bolsters Already-Strong 2013 Irish Class

Jaylon Smith
In today's college football world, it seems like the biggest and brightest of the stars overwhelmingly head off to schools that operate with the mantra that if you aren't cheating, you aren't trying. College football fans see it time and time again. Whether it's Urban Meyer telling recruits that God would want Meyer to be the recruit's coach, Nick Saban oversigning recruits and simply cutting the ones he didn't want, or the general lack of academic integrity by most of the schools in the SEC and other power house programs, the fact is that a large portion of the highest level of talented prospects head to those programs. Sure, programs like Michigan and Notre Dame, among others, have landed great prospects while retaining both academic and ethical integrity, but in this day and age, it's only natural for an elite prospect to see the easy road at one of the aforementioned schools and go down that path. There's a reason the SEC has been dominating college football for the better part of the last decade.