Monday, January 30, 2012

What's in Daddy Warbucks Lunchbox Anyway? Super Bowl Spawns Big Buck Discussions on Business Values and Sports Clubs Doings


One quote on the price of one Super Bowl Ad is enough to set some fans off on the relative worth of players, coaches and owners. This year's 30-second Super Bowl advertising costs are estimated at $3.5 Million according to Kantar Media who follows such things. Fans are asking themselves where does that money flow.

Politics and religion are often subjects people avoid in normal discussion because rarely do people agree on them. I think the same might be said of player salaries and sports clubs profits. Everyone seems to have a different opinion. If you read much coverage of sports you know that sports owners are often criticized severely. It's been my experience that there is little they can do that will generate any kind of positive press from the media.

Now with the Internet, there are many sources of financial information that are collected and digested for us in a myriad of postings, articles and other sports media spots. There is no end to various positions and opinions that fans and pundits take on many professional sports issues that involve finances. But the data is often questionable.

As far as I can tell, most sports teams are privately owned. Yet, you can find financial data on the Internet that purports to value privately owned sports clubs. The data is usually included in an article. Club owners as far as I know do not release their financials to the public. You know that by player union negotiations with football clubs where each side paints a different picture of their finances. Often union representatives dispute a team representative's assertion that a club is not making much money. Typically, the union suggests that the owners release their financials to prove their position and it doesn't happen.


Teams Valued by Bits and Pieces of Information?


I don't blame the owners for not releasing their financials. At the same time, by not releasing them I am not sure how much criticism they avoid because it appears to me that someone comes up with some data in some fashion anyway.

I suppose some business valuations on sports teams might be compiled by taking bits and pieces of data that must be made public. For example, perhaps there is a way to examine a stadium deal and determine ticket sales revenues based on it? Maybe there is a way to look at a teams salary cap and make some determinations. You might be able to see published TV revenues and determine something from that. But, my guess is that these bits and pieces of the picture are going to give you a rough estimate only.

You do see some attempt from certain media especially to try to provide comparative values of teams. For example, you see sources that state which teams are at the top of the heap. My guess is that such lists may have a relatively accurate pecking list, but the actual numbers may be many millions of dollars off the mark.

Even Real World Valuations Can Be Off the Mark


Having seen several actual business valuations, I can tell you that these things are more complicated than one may ever imagine. A real business valuation takes into account factors the average person may never anticipate. There are professional business valuation standards, certifications and hundreds of books and courses that promote accuracy and objectivity.

Often a business valuator may begin a business valuation by doing a thorough industry analysis. What has been the industry's history of revenues and profits? What are the external factors that might affect it like economic, social, legal, and commercial trends? A valuator will take a hard look at the government impacts and threats. What are the competitive threats--not just from the other sports clubs, but from clubs and entertainment from other venues altogether that may affect attendance or TV viewing? How does the league to which the team belong foster or threaten revenues and profits. What are the trends in sponsorship rules and opportunities? How might existing sponsors be impacted by economic trends? How might trends affect future insurance costs?

Forecasts are a necessary part of the valuation although the one thing all valuators know about forecasts is that they are almost always wrong--just how far off they are is the question. If you read cases about valuations that are done in large estate or divorce cases, it's not uncommon to see two valuations of the same business that vary by huge amounts. Often, expert witnesses are brought in and a judge must sift through reams of data to make a decision. And these are in cases where those who create the valuations are essentially bound to produce objective ones.

A big input in the business valuation of sports clubs must be the relationship and attitude of the host government. How are local taxes determined and what impact might come from tax rate changes or regulations? Stadium leases or financing may be substantial cost factors. For many teams, players' salaries can easily escalate out of control and be the key cost factor.

Rule of Thumb

Business valuations in their most strict sense are necessary in several circumstances such as estate tax valuations, certain stock sales and offerings, ownership disputes, marital settlements, etc. While a professional valuation is necessary in some cases and most helpful in most, it is not necessary in others.

Valuation estimates are often used by Business brokers who help facilitate the purchase and sale of smaller business--these estimates may be accomplished by what is called a rule of thumb. For example if a widget store generates $500,000 in revenue annually, they might suggest that the sales price of the company may be $1.5 Million by using a three times revenue basis or multiplier. The business broker knows the multipliers that are routinely used for such estimates. In this case, the buyer and seller may not want to pay for a sophisticated business valuation. The seller may be required to disclose certain financials from the books, but a private sale often does not require a full valuation. Both parties may be satisfied with really what amounts to as a rough estimate. Of course, the accuracy of the business financials that are used with the multiplier to determine the estimate may be subject to legal actions if deemed misleading or fraudulent.

A more complicated business like a large sports team will likely require a much more sophisticated analysis to come close to value. Of course, in the end, the value will be set by the buyer and the seller. There are some sports club prospects who are willing to pay a premium for certain properties --there may be others who are thinking just the opposite.

The best business valuators are highly trained professionals who have accounting and finance skills as well as detective skills. Often a firm manages the larger valuations and might employ a team of people. Depending upon the rigor with which the seller may have kept their records and other factors, a valuation can easily take several months. Often even a relatively small but complex business might require a valuation that cost in excess of $50,000. I hesitate to even guess what a valuation for a large sports club might cost.

Business valuations are also valid only to the specific use of the valuation. Thus a valuation done for estate purposes will not likely be valid for other purposes.

When I see an article that suggests that a particular team might be worth so much and that team is a privately owned company, unless there are extenuating circumstances, I am likely to take those numbers with a rather large grain of salt. And even when a billionaire buys a team and does his own due diligence with financial advisers, the next thing you know there is a quote from some financial expert who says the buyer overpaid by some huge sum like $200 Million. Then, years later you might hear from other analysts who describe the same purchase as a steal. Thus you can do all the due diligence and the numbers can still be off because it's the point at which buyer and seller come together that sets the actual value.

Internet Tells All?


In today's Internet world, there is no shortage of pundits on most everything and I suppose on some level that's all part of the fun for us sports fans. We can gripe about not only how much the players make when they don't do so well, but also how much the owner is collecting on his own investment. But in most cases we need to understand that much of what we are basing our opinions on, is not likely to be all that accurate. If someone states that a club is worth so much, you might want to determine how that value was calculated before "taking it to the bank."
Copyright 2012 by Sporting Chance Press
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Sporting Chance Press is the publisher of The 10 Commandments of Baseball: An Affectionate Look at Joe McCarthy's Principles for Baseball (and Life), Public Bonehead, Private Hero: The Real Legacy of Baseball's Fred Merkle, Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout, and Maddie Takes the Ice. You don't have to be a billionaire to buy one of these great books!

Bears Hire Phil Emery as GM

Like many football coaches, Emery worked at a string of colleges before taking on his first job in professional football. He was a student assistant at Wayne State, a graduate assistant at Central Michigan, an offensive line/strength and conditioning coach at Western New Mexico, and then a defensive line coach at Georgetown College.

He worked as a defensive line/ strength and conditioning coach at Saginaw Valley State and then assistant strength and conditioning coach for the Tennessee Volunteers.

Perhaps one of Emory's most powerful experiences was his relatively long stint as the Director of Strength and Conditioning Services and Associate Professor at the U.S. Naval Academy from ’91-98. The commitment of the Naval Academy Midshipmen and the experience of working with highly disciplined athletes would likely set the bar high for acquisition targets--focusing heavily on acquisition of players "with character."

Emery paid his dues in the college ranks before he became a scout for the Bears from 1998-2004. Then, from 2004-08, he served as director of college scouting for the Atlanta Falcons and then served as Chiefs Director of College Scouting under Scott Pioli for the past three years. It's probably safe to assume that Emory shares Pioli's and Belichick's philosophy of drafting players with character and commitment to the team. Pioli summed up this philosophy, "Individuals make Pro Bowls, teams win championships."

Contrary to popular media sentiment, the Bears have shown a willingness to go out and get established players they need even from the ranks of the highly-compensated. But such acquisitions can cost draft picks and successful teams have to establish a good balance of draftees, free agent acquisitions and trades. Emery brings an abundance of experience in talent acquisition from drafts and judgment and extensive experience evaluating prospects from many different perspectives including character.

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Sporting Chance Press is the publisher of Patrick McCaskey's Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout and other fine sports books. Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout is a personal chronicle of Chicago Bears Senior Director Patrick McCaskey that looks back at decades of spiritual enrichment and life lessons from athletes, coaches, religious and everyday people. McCaskey recalls the stories of those who strived to make the cut on and off the field—plus people who left comfortable lives to serve the under-served in extraordinary ways.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Rooney News

According to various sources, U.S. Ambassador to Ireland, Dan Rooney, is likely to return to the states from his post in Dublin this year. Dan is the eldest son of Art Rooney, the founder of the Pittsburgh Steelers. He is chairman emeritus of the Pittsburgh Steelers and like his father was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame for his contributions to the game. The "Rooney Rule," his creation, requires that NFL teams with head coach and general manager vacancies interview at least one minority candidate.

Steeler Ownership Changes



In order to continue controlling family ownership of the Steelers, several members of the Rooney and related McGinley families sold their stock to team president Art Rooney II and chairman emeritus Dan Rooney in 2009. There were several considerations that made the sale necessary including potentially devastating estate tax issues upon the death of the one of the five sons of founder Art Rooney, Rooney family holdings in race tracks that have triggered some pressure from the NFL front office, and of course family business philosophical differences that would likely build if ownership control did not remain centralized.

Mara Connection




Although some of the Rooney family may look on this year's Super Bowl contest between the New York Giants and the New England Patriots with faint interest, others will be much more tuned in for good reason. The Rooney family has a long reach and is certainly one of the most notable families in the United States. It is also linked to another NFL family, the New York Giants Mara's through marriage.

Two notables from the Rooney-Mara family tree are actresses; one the Recent Oscar nominee, Rooney Mara, and her sister Kate Mara. The actresses are the great-granddaughters of both New York Giants founder Tim Mara and Pittsburgh Steelers founder Art Rooney, Sr. Their mother Kathleen Rooney married Chris Mara in 1981 forming a link between the two NFL families. Their mother's father, Tim, is the third son of Art Rooney. Tim has run the Yonkers Raceway since 1972. Their father Chris, is one of Wellington Mara's (Giants founder Tim Mara's son) 11 children and serves as Senior Vice President of Player Personnel.

Kate Mara has appeared extensively on TV in such series as Fox smash hit 24, HBO's Entourage and the FX Series American Horor). In films she has acted in Brokeback Mountain, We Are Marshall, Iron Man II, Ironclad and many others. Her sister Rooney Mara has appeared Law and Order, the Cleaner and ER on television. Rooney has also appeared in several films including A Nightmare on Elm Street (the remake), The Social Network and the Girl with the Dragon Tatoo for which she was nominated just recently for an Oscar. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sporting Chance Press is the publisher of Patrick McCaskey's Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout and other fine sports books. Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout is a personal chronicle of Chicago Bears Senior Director Patrick McCaskey that looks back at decades of spiritual enrichment and life lessons from athletes, coaches, religious and everyday people. McCaskey recalls the stories of those who strived to make the cut on and off the field—plus people who left comfortable lives to serve the under-served in extraordinary ways.

Baseball's Fifth Commandment by J. D. Thorne

I came across the “10 Commandments of Baseball” on an advertising card that had been a keepsake of my Dad’s from Bill Zuber’s Restaurant and Dugout Lounge in the Amana Colonies of Iowa. The “Commandments” were composed by Joe McCarthy who managed the three most storied franchises in the golden age of baseball: the Chicago Cubs, the New York Yankees, and the Boston Red Sox. He still holds the highest winning percentage for any Major League baseball manager even though he retired over a half a century ago. McCarthy's principles are at the center of my classic book called The 10 Commandments of Baseball: An Affectionate Look at Joe McCarthy's Principles for Success in Baseball (and Life) published by Sporting Chance Press. This post touches on McCarthy's Fifth Commandment.

Commandment Number Five: “When you start to slide, S-L-I-D-E. He who changes his mind may have to change a good leg for a bad one.”


Players need to be decisive when making a play. Think of a runner who just drove the ball over an infielder’s head and is sprinting to second base to beat a throw from the outfield for a double. Should he stand up or slide going into the base? Sliding takes more effort, so going into the bag standing up is the natural first instinct when it looks like he can make it. Either way, the base runner must decide and follow through on his decision otherwise he is flirting with disaster.

Indecision hurts even the greatest of baseball players. While playing for Joe McCarthy’s 1930 Chicago Cubs, Hall of Fame second baseman Rogers Hornsby was nursing a sore heel. On a slide into third base, he hesitated before sliding, caught a spike in the dirt, and broke his ankle. He was lost to the team for two months. With Hornsby out of the lineup, the Cubs did not repeat that year as pennant winners and ultimately Joe McCarthy was released from his job with the Cubs at the end of the season.

McCarthy’s Decisive Ways


Joe McCarthy took a “never satisfied” approach to leadership. One reporter described his style, “He isn’t the kind of manager who tears at his players’ nerves with a rasping voice, but it is almost impossible to satisfy him. That is why in every managerial job he has had ever held he has been a builder of winning teams. … He demands the most that any given situation possibly can yield. He makes no excuses and accepts none from anyone else. Surface appearances do not satisfy him. He wants to know what’s underneath or behind everything that goes on.”

When asked by reporters what his general formula would be in 1931 when he took over the helm of the Yankees, he tersely replied, “All work and no play.” As stern as that sounds, what he meant by that quip was expressed by another McCarthy quote: “A ballplayer has only a few hours of concentrated work every day, and if he cannot attend to business with the high pay and working conditions so pleasant, something is wrong with him, and he ought go somewhere else.”
McCarthy paid meticulous attention to detail according to those around him. Birdie Tebbetts was McCarthy’s catcher when he managed the Boston Red Sox. Tebbets, who later became a manager himself, once asked, “How many managers do you know who ever cut anything so fine?” He always showed “that infinite capacity for taking pains that is said to be the mark of genius and his ability to impart his own enthusiasm to his ballplayers.”

This Commandment challenges us to live (and play) decisively and give each day 100%. Being decisive makes life easier. Go with your hunches as sometime your earliest inklings are the right ones. Do not discount them – go with them with confidence.

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Image is J.D. Thorne, courtesy of David Bernacchi
Copyright 2012 Sporting Chance Press, Inc.

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Sporting Chance Press is the publisher of J.D. Thorne's The 10 Commandments of Baseball: An Affectionate Look at Joe McCarthy's Principles for Success in Baseball (and Life) and other fine sports books. The 10 Commandments of Baseball is an enjoyable mix of professional baseball stories and the author's affectionate retelling of his own amateur baseball experiences. Whether male or female, young or old, the reader is pulled into great baseball moments that make the baseball commandments come to life with compassion and humor. The focal point of the book is the classic, but little-known, 10 Commandments of Baseball, the baseball principles created by Major League baseball's most successful manager, Joe McCarthy.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Belichick, Angelo and the Top Bears GM Contendors

After Jerry Angelo was fired, we mentioned that there is often a relatively thin line that separates a good draft from a bad one. The basic premise was that it's easy to look back at his drafts and say Angelo was a bad GM, but with a little better luck here or there, things could have been much different. We also made the case that the Cutler acquisition costs precious draft picks, but it seemed to be necessary considering the Bears lack of success with QBs development.

Compare Angelo's bad luck, with the Patriots' selection of Tom Brady--perhaps one of the luckiest picks of all time. Where Belichick's skill came into play was not in selecting Brady, it was in recognizing Brady's potential and then developing it.

A couple choices made by Angelo turned out to be what might be called cross-boomers -- not late-bloomers, players who would mature slowly, but rather players who could excel only when they crossed over to another team. Cedric Benson seems to be the classic example of this. And then there is Mark Anderson--now one of the New England Patriots defensive stars. Both of these players look like different people now that they are no longer in Chicago. This is not a knock on the Bears--it's a phenomenon that happens in every sport, on every team. Sometimes athletes just need a change of venue. The same happens with coaches and sports administrators.

Jerry Angelo is thought of very highly in some NFL circles. Angelo and Bill Belichick have a long relationship built on mutual respect for each others talent evaluation. Belichick was once quoted in the Tribune as saying: "Jerry has selected some great players, especially some middle round guys, later round guys who have been very productive for him. He has a good eye for talent." If you know Belichick's team-building philosophy, you know that he would much rather build a team of no-names from the middle rounds of the draft rather than have to fuss with round one superstars who hold sway with the media and are represented by the most difficult agents. What you might read into Belichick's quote is "Jerry is my kind of guy."

Two Top Contenders for Bears GM

Interestingly enough, the two top contenders for the Bears GM position, like Jerry Angelo, also have connections to Bill Belichick; Jason Licht has a very close connection--Bill Emery a distant one. Jason Licht worked for Belichick the last couple years as director of professional personnel. Two years under Belichick in the Patriots system would have given Licht a good schooling in the Patriots way of doing things--build your club with team players who are totally devoted to the game.

Bill Emery's connection to Belichick may seem remote, call it once-removed, but the influences cannot be denied. First, he served as the Director of Strength and Conditioning Services and as an Associate Professor at the U.S. Naval Academy from ’91-98. Bill Belichick's father Steve taught at the Naval Academy for many years and served as a scout--in fact Belichick's father literally wrote the book on football scouting while he was at the Academy--Football Scouting Methods. Bill Belichick spent a lot of time with his dad during those Academy years--and he was a good study. Emery, like Belichick would have had the military influences in his football development.

The second Emery-Belichick connection is to Kansas City General Manger, Scott Pioli, who served as the Vice President of Player Personnel with the Patriots and worked with Belichick there for nine years (his work with Belichick goes back even further). Pioli and Belichick have a very similar mindset when it comes to talent acquisition and team development. As Pioli described it, ""Individuals make Pro Bowls, teams win championships." Emery served as Chiefs Director of College Scouting under Pioli for the past three years.

Assuming the Bears pick Licht or Emery, if these men follow their mentors practices, we are likely to see a lean mean fighting machine approach to personnel acquisition. The Bears will be looking for dedicated team players and maybe trading away first round draft choices for more picks. They would also stay away from the superstar trades and watch their pennies. They may also follow Belichick's lead of picking up players who fill the needs of the team as opposed to strategies such as picking the best athlete or the most talented player.

London Olympics and English AON


AON founder and former chairman, Patrick Ryan, worked closely with Mayor Daley and headed the city's unsuccessful bid for the 2016 Olympics. Ryan has been a staunch supporter of Chicago in many ways over his long business career. His ties to Chicago are deep and he owns a portion of the Chicago Bears.

Nevertheless, the mega-insurance company that he founded, Aon Corporation, announced on January 13, 2012 that it will move its corporate headquarters to London from Chicago. According to Aon, "the move provides greater access to emerging markets and takes better advantage of the strategic proximity to Lloyd's and the London market as one of the key international hubs of insurance and risk brokerage." According to at least one analyst, one of benefits might be a decline in Aon's tax rates.

Aon has a large financial footprint in the Chicago area that got larger with the $4.9 billion acquisition of human resources firm Hewitt Associates in 2010. According to the Journal, "Aon will shift its corporate domicile to the U.K. from Delaware. To complete the move, the company will issue investors one class A share of the new English company for each common Aon share they own." Thus Aon will not just move from Chicago, it will become an English company. Aon employes 59,000 employees worldwide according to its web site and according to the Journal, 6000 in Chicago. Assurances were made that Aon would continue to use Chicago as it's US headquarters and there would be job growth here as well.

Aon also has a growing financial footprint in sports, but almost entirely in the UK. Aon sponsors Manchester United and Vodafone McLaren Mercedes a British Formula One team--and it has created Team Aon--a commercial partnership between Aon and Arena International Motorsport. The Aon Manchester United deal established in 2010 reportedly cost $80 Million and literally puts "AON" on the team's Jerseys for four years.

How did the Man U sponsorship occur? According to the Tribune, after Man U's old jersey sponsor AIG got a government bailout making its future sponsorship impossible, the team sent a number of possible sponsors a sales pitch they could not ignore. "A pair of framed prototype jerseys arrived last spring [2009] at Aon's Chicago headquarters for Chief Executive Greg Case and marketing chief Phil Clement, who jumped on a plane to England." Apparently they liked the Jerseys and someone at Aon liked the country as well.
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Sporting Chance Press is the publisher of Patrick McCaskey's Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout and other fine sports books. Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout is a personal chronicle of Chicago Bears Senior Director Patrick McCaskey that looks back at decades of spiritual enrichment and life lessons from athletes, coaches, religious and everyday people. McCaskey recalls the stories of those who strived to make the cut on and off the field—plus people who left comfortable lives to serve the under-served in extraordinary ways.

 Update: Sporting Chance Press's Pillars of the NFL: Coaches Who Have Won Three or More Championships by Patrick McCaskey now available--March 2014!  Order your copies here  for immediate shipment.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Olympic Dreams and Stadiums

When Chicago was vying for the 2016 Summer Olympic bid, a new Olympic Stadium would have been needed because Soldier Field does not have the required capacity. Obviously, a great deal of additioinal construction and infrastructure improvements would also have been needed. There is a plethora of reasons that various writers and reporters have put forward as to why Chicago didn’t get the bid.

Many locals wonder how it ever would have been sorted out had Chicago won.
Frankly, little of the Olympic building would have been easy in this city of big shoulders and complex politics. According to the proposed plan, the stadium would have been built in Washington Park. Other major construction projects would have also been required in well established areas. Making huge changes to an old established city like Chicago would be a great challenge especially in a time of belt tightening and divided politics. Perhaps it would have been more doable had Chicago a more modern transit system and an Olympic-sized stadium already in place.


London


Politics did not stop the Brits in a city that is quite a bit older than Chicago. For the 2012 Olympic Games in London, the London Olympic Stadium was constructed in a city that already boasts Wembley (Borough of Brent, London). The stadium was built in an ecologically friendly way. It was made 75 per cent lighter in terms of steel use than other stadiums; it features low-carbon concrete, made from industrial waste; and the top ring of the Stadium was built using surplus gas pipes. The Olympic Stadium is located on an island site, surrounded by waterways on three sides so that spectators will use bridges to get to the venue. The Stadium will have a capacity of 80,000 during the Games. Its upper tier can be removed creating a much small stadium capacity for post Olympic use.


Rio


In the winning 2016 venue of Rio De Janeiro, the MaracanĂ£ Stadium will be the venue for Olympic Opening and Closing Ceremonies. Originally constructed in 1950 for the FIFA World Cup, MaracanĂ£ and its surrounding area are being completely upgraded for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in advance of the 2016 Games. So essentially they have to be in place two years before the Olympics. Gross seating capacity at the games is 90,000 according to the official Rio Olympic site.
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Sporting Chance Press is the publisher of Patrick McCaskey's Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout and other fine sports books. Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout is a personal chronicle of Chicago Bears Senior Director Patrick McCaskey that looks back at decades of spiritual enrichment and life lessons from athletes, coaches, religious and everyday people. McCaskey recalls the stories of those who strived to make the cut on and off the field—plus people who left comfortable lives to serve the under-served in extraordinary ways.

 Update: Sporting Chance Press's Pillars of the NFL: Coaches Who Have Won Three or More Championships by Patrick McCaskey now available--March 2014!  Order your copies here  for immediate shipment.

Baseball's Fourth Commandment by J. D. Thorne

I came across the “10 Commandments of Baseball” on an advertising card from Bill Zuber’s Restaurant and Dugout Lounge in the Amana Colonies of Iowa that had been a keepsake of my Dad’s. The “Commandments” composed by Joe McCarthy, were printed by the thousands many years ago. Over a span of twenty-four years, McCarthy managed the three most storied franchises in the golden age of baseball: the Chicago Cubs, the New York Yankees, and the Boston Red Sox. He still holds the highest winning percentage for any Major League baseball manager.

McCarthy's principles are at the center of my classic book called The 10 Commandments of Baseball: An Affectionate Look at Joe McCarthy's Principles for Success in Baseball (and Life) published by Sporting Chance Press. This post touches on McCarthy's Fourth Commandment.

Commandment Number Four: “Keep your head up and you may not have to keep it down.”


There are several ways of looking at the meaning of this commandment. Perhaps the most essential message is that a player needs to pay attention and keep his head in the game in order to be proud of his performance.

Three Men on Third


A classic example of the importance of keeping “your head in the game” is the infamous “three men on third” episode at old Ebbets field in Brooklyn on August 15, 1926. The Dodgers were playing the Boston Braves. Brooklyn came to bat in the seventh inning. Their first hitter, Johnny Butler, singled. The next hitter, Frank DeBerry slapped a double to score Butler. Pitcher Dazzy Vance came to bat and, singled sending DeBerry to third base. The next hitter, Chick Fewster, was hit by a pitch, loading the bases. The legendary “Babe” Herman, (dubbed by Dazzy Vance “the headless horseman of Ebbets Field”) took his place at the plate and the stage was set for the forthcoming drama. Herman belted a line drive to right field. DeBerry, the runner on third scored easily. Vance however, who had been on second, thought the line drive was going to be caught, and held up until he saw the ball drop safely before heading for home. He rounded third base, ran halfway to the plate before deciding he would not be able to beat the throw in, reversed himself and started back to third base. Meanwhile, the runner on first base, Fewster, was tearing around the base path to get to third, and arrived there just as Vance was returning to it. They looked at each other for a moment, but then turned their gaze to watch the hitter, Herman. Herman was watching no one, and with his head down and legs churning, was trying to stretch his double into a triple! When Herman finally looked up a few feet from the bag, he saw his two teammates standing haplessly there as the Braves third baseman was taking the throw from the outfield. Excitedly, the third baseman tagged everyone within reach, including the umpire! Herman tried to reverse field but was thrown out trying to get to back to second.

Fred Merkle


The all time champion of alert baseball play was second baseman Johnnie Evers of the powerhouse Chicago Cubs teams in the first decade of the 1900’s. Not only was he acclaimed for it, but the opposing player against whom he applied his chief observation was nicknamed “bonehead” for falling victim to it. The name “Bonehead Merkle” is synonymous with stupid play even though the unfortunate Mr. Merkle was doing what everyone else did at the time. However, for Johnny Evers, it worked out to win a championship for the Cubs.

The 1908 National League pennant race is ranked among the most exciting season finishes ever. Late in the season, Evers began noticing that in situations where there was a runner on first when a player ahead of him on second or third scored the winning run to “end” a game, the runner on first was failing to run all the way to second base thinking the game was over. However, under the rules of baseball, a runner does not score if there is a putout at first or a force play out on the final play to end an inning even if the runner crosses home plate before the out is made. Evers discussed this with umpire Hank O’Day after a game in Pittsburgh, and O’Day agreed with Evers’ interpretation. Sure enough, it happened again a few days later at New York’s Polo Grounds on September 23, 1908, in a game against the archrival Giants and their Hall of Fame Manager, the feisty Irishman, John McGraw.

To break a 9th inning 1 to 1 tie score, the Giants Al Bridwell singled in from third base what appeared to be the winning run. As was the custom of the day, rookie Fred Merkle, who had been on first, saw the run score and stopped running half way to second base to head for the clubhouse as fans stormed the field celebrating the apparent victory. However, amidst the chaos, Evers summoned the ball from the grandstands and stood with it on second base proclaiming the force out because Merkle never touched second base. The second base umpire refused to make the call claiming he had not seen the play. The call was deferred to the game’s home plate umpire, Hank O’Day, who declared Merkle out to end the inning and cancel the score of the “winning” run. Because of the pandemonium of the fans on the field, he then declared the game a tie.

The Giants and Cubs finished the season a week later in a tie for first place because of the ruling. The Cubs won a special tiebreaker game to win the league pennant, and then proceeded to win the World Series.

Keep Your Head in the Game and Be Positive


This commandment tells you to be alert at all times. And being alert also requires a positive outlook. A negative attitude can hurt you in many ways, but it also disrupts your attention. Do not waste a minute grieving over last inning’s error or strikeout. Being ready for the next play or the next at-bat is what counts. As Joe McCarthy said about Baseball, “You can’t freeze the ball in this game. You play until the last man is out.”



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Image is J.D. Thorne, courtesy of David Bernacchi
Copyright 2012 Sporting Chance Press, Inc.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Thoughts on Sports Radio and the State of the World


A few years ago after many years of being away from it, I began listening to sports radio again while waiting for one of my daughters to get out of an after-school activity. I had started my publishing company, Sporting Chance Press, and was spending entirely too much time in front of a computer. It was good to get out of the house/office for a few minutes break. I was surprised to hear the commentators bash pretty much everyone in sports. They bashed the players--the coaches--team management--and when a fan called in with an opinion, they bashed him as well. It seemed to me that this kind of negative hyperbole about most every subject was new--at least on sports radio. Shock jocks have been bashing people for decades. But it was a real wake-up call for me to hear that such bashing had gone mainstream. When my middle school daughter got into the car, I had to change the channel--it was just not appropriate for anyone her age to listen to this program although it was 3:30 in the afternoon.

I decided to give another station a listen when I was driving one morning. This one wasn't quite as hateful, but one sports commentator talked about how he had watched porn the night before in such a casual voice that it was as if he was talking about having coffee or ice cream. I learned that it took some channel surfing to get someone decent on sports radio--"decent" being the operative word. I found that the national shows were more of a PG variety and they weren't inclined to bash everyone.

Another problem with local sports radio was the sponsorship. One channel in particular used to promote Gentleman's Clubs and all types of male enhancement therapies. Again, these commercials ran in the morning and afternoon when most anyone might be listening. I thought that these types of messages were the wrong ones to be sent to young people who listen to these shows. For me, it was a social and communications endorsement that this kind of self-indulgent life style was now the norm.

I have noticed that the local sports shows seem to have improved their sponsorship lately, but there's no telling what a young person might hear on one of these stations at most any hour of the day. You still hear a lot of hate.

Some of these commentators are former sports figures. Some have held previous positions as newspaper reporters. Whether they realize it or not, they are role models themselves because they are in the public eye. Yet, often when the commentators talk about their own lives it involves excessive drinking, excessive eating, expensive gadgets they buy, and stuff they get for free. Not all of the commentators are poor role models for young listeners, but in my judgement many of them are. There is little talk about nutrition, healthy living, moderation, sacrifice, hard work and other things that each of us must do if we want to live well. Why not?

I guess I wasn't surprised when the same guys who bashed everyone and seemed to back porn, pills and clubs couldn't seem to express enough indignation over sexual abuse scandals in sports. Coverage of one situation in particular, especially received saturated discussion. The same men who basically preached total self indulgence wanted to take a front row seat at the hanging of those involved in abuse.

I think the lesson in this is simply that sports commentary/media needs to promote good. We need to abide by boundaries of good taste and moral--ethical behavior. The media cannot keep chipping away at the moral fabric of this country and then expect to be a voice of reason in something like the tragic child abuse scandals. It just isn't going to work. Those in sports media need to set the bar a little higher--I am not sure how much lower it can go.


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Copyright 2012 Sporting Chance Press, Inc. Sporting Chance Press is the publisher of The 10 Commandments of Baseball: An Affectionate Look at Joe McCarthy's Principles for Baseball (and Life), Public Bonehead, Private Hero: The Real Legacy of Baseball's Fred Merkle, Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout, and Maddie Takes the Ice.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Day Butkus Caught a Bobby Douglass Pass for a Win


Dick Butkus was one of the most intimidating players of all time and one of the most fun to watch. At the snap of the ball, he attacked the opposing team and clawed at anyone in his way in a frenzied pursuit of running backs and quarterbacks. He epitomizes so much of what it means to play Bear football. Butkus was an eight-time Pro Bowler inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979.

Butkus was one of the players featured in a book called Game of My Life by prolific sports author, Lew Freedman. This book is similar in approach to the 1945 classic baseball book called My Greatest Day in Baseball. Game of My Life is a narration of individual football greats fondest game memories.

Interesting enough, in the book, Dick Butkus described a November 14, 1971 contest against the mighty Washington Redskins, which featured him in an offensive role. According to Butkus, he had been whacked in the eye that day and it had swollen up on him--essentially making him blind in one eye. As the game wound down to the last few minutes, Butkus had been used as a blocking back for a Bears score that tied the match. A successful extra point would put the Bears ahead with little time remaining. Butkus remained in as a back for the attempt. With quarterback Bobby Douglass as holder and Mac Percival to kick the extra point, the ball was snapped and it sailed high over the quarterback. Douglass chased the ball down after it soared behind him--managing to come up with it twenty yards further out on the field. Frantically, Douglass sought out someone in the end zone. There was the great one-eyed warrior, Dick Butkus, who had run into the end zone. Douglass threw it right at Butkus who misjudged the ball's flight but was able to adjust and come down with it. It was worth one point at the time, which was all the Bears needed. Bears held and won the game--a small victory against the playoff bound Redskins. A great day for the great Butkus.

Copyright 2012 Sporting Chance Press, Inc.
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Sporting Chance Press is the publisher of Patrick McCaskey's Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout and other fine sports books. Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout is a personal chronicle of Chicago Bears Senior Director Patrick McCaskey that looks back at decades of spiritual enrichment and life lessons from athletes, coaches, religious and everyday people. McCaskey recalls the stories of those who strived to make the cut on and off the field—plus people who left comfortable lives to serve the under-served in extraordinary ways.

Update: Sporting Chance Press's Pillars of the NFL: Coaches Who Have Won Three or More Championships by Patrick McCaskey now available--March 2014!  Order your copies here  for immediate shipment.

Bobby Douglass and Denver's Great Challenge


Tim Tebow of the Denver Broncos reminds many Bear fans of Bobby Douglass. Douglass was the Bears QB from 1969 to the beginning of 1975. After leaving the Bears, Douglas played for San Diego, New Orleans and Green Bay.

Both Tebow and Douglass are left-handed and big men. Tebow is 6-3, 235 lbs. Douglass played at 6-4, 225 lbs and like Tebow, he did a lot of running. For his career, Douglass had 507 completions on 1178 attempts giving him a 43% completion rate for a total of 6,493 and 36 touchdowns. In one of his best games, he was 10 for 15 passing—sounds Tebow like? On the downside, it's been said that Douglass was not a quick study of the Bears playbook and he did throw interceptions--perhaps more than would have been expected by a running quarterback. In his defense however, he was asked to play pretty early in his career without an apprenticeship under a solid offensive system. He would play under three head coaches--Dooley, Gibron and Pardee.

His career rushing yards are more impressive. He had 410 rushes for a total of 2,654 yards and 22 touchdowns. In 1972, Douglass had 968 yards rushing and an incredible 6.9 yard gain per run. It would be decades before the NFL would see another running quarterback of the caliber of Douglass--Michael Vick.

Like Tebow, Douglas was a fearless runner. He played aggressively, he was a scrambler and was not likely to hang around the pocket much and take a sack. Although his throwing stats were never great, he had the strongest arm in football and with seemingly little effort could throw a ball 70 yards. Douglass himself said he could throw at least 90 yards and probably 100 in certain conditions.

Not a Great Era for the Bears



The Bears were awful during the years when Bobby Douglass played—they never had a winning season. Many things contributed to their lack of success.

Watching Douglass many years ago, fans were frustrated with the Bears passing game, but were never quite sure who to blame. The Bears were very predictable. And many times Douglass threw the ball into the hands of the receivers, but his pass velocity seemed almost uncatchable at times. A good Bear fan of the era was accomplished at grunts and groans when one opportunity after another seemed to fall by the wayside.

Nevertheless, Bear fans of the era knew Douglass was something special, but pundits were never quite convinced he was in the right position. Some thought he would have made a better running back or tight end. But in some ways, he was a perfect fit and personality type for the Monsters of the Midway. It’s difficult today to know what position Douglass would play in the pros or whether new methods, training techniques or strategies could be employed to make him a better player. By all accounts, Tebow is a Douglass-like quarterback. It will be interesting to see what Denver is able to do with a Douglass type talent like Tebow in the 21st Century.
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Copyright 2012 Sporting Chance Press, Inc.Sporting Chance Press is the publisher of The 10 Commandments of Baseball: An Affectionate Look at Joe McCarthy's Principles for Baseball (and Life), Public Bonehead, Private Hero: The Real Legacy of Baseball's Fred Merkle, Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout, and Maddie Takes the Ice.

Update: Sporting Chance Press's Pillars of the NFL: Coaches Who Have Won Three or More Championships by Patrick McCaskey now available--March 2014!  Order your copies here  for immediate shipment.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Baseball's Third Commandment by J. D. Thorne

I came across the “10 Commandments of Baseball” on an advertising card from Bill Zuber’s Restaurant and Dugout Lounge in the Amana Colonies of Iowa that had been a keepsake of my Dad’s. The “Commandments” composed by Joe McCarthy, were printed by the thousands many years ago. Over a span of twenty-four years, McCarthy managed the three most storied franchises in the golden age of baseball: the Chicago Cubs, the New York Yankees, and the Boston Red Sox. He still holds the highest winning percentage for any Major League baseball manager.

McCarthy's principles are at the center of my classic book called The 10 Commandments of Baseball: An Affectionate Look at Joe McCarthy's Principles for Success in Baseball (and Life) published by Sporting Chance Press. This post touches on McCarthy's Third Commandment.

Commandment Number Three: “An outfielder who throws back of a runner is locking the barn after the horse is stolen.”


On a base hit to the right fielder, imagine that the batter rounds first base in full stride heading to second base, but realizes that he cannot make it. He stops in stride about midway between first and second. The right fielder is tempted to throw “in back” of the runner to the first baseman to pick off the runner. But, if he throws to first, how does the runner adjust? Does the runner go back to first base to try to beat the throw? No. Once he sees the throw going behind him back to first base, it is easy to go to second base safely.

Looking Forward


This principle is about judgment. In a broad sense, the commandment suggests that players need to adjust to their circumstances, play “their game,” and look forward not backward.

In baseball, base running is one of the primary parts of the game where decision-making is critical and risk taking is followed by an immediate reward or penalty. Joe McCarthy said that Joe DiMaggio was the “best base runner I ever saw. He could have stolen 50, 60 bases a year if I had let him. He wasn’t the fastest man alive. He just knew how to run the bases better than anybody. I don’t think in all the years [he] played for me he was ever thrown out stretching.”

Another player who achieved greatness playing “his game” was Lou Boudreau. Sportswriter Rud Rennie described Lou Boudreau this way: “He can’t run and his arm’s no good, but he is the best shortstop in the game.” Boudreau was a “heads up” kind of player. He proved it year after year by leading the American League shortstops in fielding average eight times. He was a player manager of the Cleveland Indians at age 24 and led the Indians to win the World Series in 1948. His judgment at bat was so good he struck out only nine times in 1948.

Ernie Banks Played His Game


By adjusting his style and playing within himself, Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks, was another player who had a much longer and more rewarding career than he might otherwise have had. The young 22 year old from Dallas, just out of the military, came in as a shortstop with the Chicago Cubs via Cool Papa Bell’s Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro American League at the end of the 1953 season. He became the starting shortstop for the Cubs in 1954 and hit 44 home runs in 1955, the most ever for a shortstop. Banks hit three home runs in one day at Wrigley against Pittsburgh and an NL-record five grand slams. He was named the National League’s Most Valuable Player in 1958 and 1959. Banks led the National League in home runs (47) in 1958 and (45) in 1959. From 1955 to 1960, Banks hit more homers than such luminaries as Mantle, Mays, and Aaron, who were also playing at the time.

However, Banks originally struggled in the field. Early in his career and through the 1958 season he was error prone. In fact, he led the league with 32 errors in 1958. Determined to turn things around, Banks worked hard on his fielding and chalked up only 12 errors in 1959 and won a Gold Glove Award for fielding in 1960. Ironically, injuries to his legs cut down Bank’s fielding range and in 1962, he switched to first base. It was a move that helped extend his career until 1971. Banks was always adjusting to his physical abilities and skills. Mr. Cub was the first Cubs player to have his number retired.

Winning in the Long Run


The Third Commandment tells you to look forward not backward. Few people get ahead when trying to be too sharp. In baseball, this lesson is played out repeatedly. After one batter gets on base, the intelligent play is often to work at getting the next hitter out. Throw ahead of the runner, not behind. Look ahead, make adjustments and play your own game.

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Image is J.D. Thorne, courtesy of David Bernacchi
Copyright 2012 Sporting Chance Press, Inc.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Baseball's Second Commandment by J. D. Thorne

I came across the “10 Commandments of Baseball” on an advertising card from Bill Zuber’s Restaurant and Dugout Lounge in the Amana Colonies of Iowa that had been a keepsake of my Dad’s. The “Commandments” composed by Joe McCarthy, were printed by the thousands many years ago. Over a span of twenty-four years, McCarthy managed the three most storied franchises in the golden age of baseball: the Chicago Cubs, the New York Yankees, and the Boston Red Sox. He still holds the highest winning percentage for any Major League baseball manager.

McCarthy's principles are at the center of my classic book called The 10 Commandments of Baseball: An Affectionate Look at Joe McCarthy's Principles for Success in Baseball (and Life) published by Sporting Chance Press. This post touches on McCarthy's Second Commandment.

Commandment Number Two: “You will never become a .300 hitter unless you take the bat off your shoulder.”


Good hitters want to put their bat on any pitch in or close to the strike zone. They do not wait for that perfect pitch, which may never come. Indecision causes too many good pitches to pass by. While avoiding bad pitches and chalking up a walk is a good at-bat, looking for a walk and not trying to hit is bad baseball. This timid approach will not advance the player or the team. While a base-on-balls is good, a base hit is better. Good hitting is contagious. If a player does not take the bat off his shoulder, he will not get anywhere.

Pick a Good One and Sock It


Babe Ruth explained his science of hitting, “All I can tell you is I pick a good one and sock it. I get back to the dugout and they ask me what it was I hit and I tell ‘em I don’t know except it looked good.”

The 2004 American League Most Valuable Player, Vladimir Guerrero of the Los Angeles Angels, said it this way in the August 30, 2005 issue of USA Today, “If something looks good, I’m swinging. They pay me to hit. I look at the ball and swing.” Who can argue with his results? In 2004, he hit .337 with 39 home runs for the Western American League Division Champions. In 2006, he hit .329 with 33 home runs and last year, he hit .324 with 27 home runs. In 2007, he was a first team starter for the winning American League All-Star team.

Another slugger who had no problems taking the bat off his shoulder was Reggie Jackson. Jackson was known as “Mr. October,” for his clutch hitting in big games in the post season. He was also known as one the biggest egos in baseball, but he “walked the talk,” especially when it counted. In his 21 year career, Jackson hit 563 home runs, led the American League in homers four times, led the league in runs batted in once and was selected an incredible fourteen times to the All-Star Team. Jackson also struck out a record 2,597 times and led the American League in striking out five times.

Even more remarkable than his records was Jackson’s phenomenal postseason play. Despite the many clubhouse disputes that seemed to follow Jackson around from team to team, his teams included 11 division champions, six pennant winners and five world champions. His World Series batting average was .357 compared to his .263 season average.

Jackson established his place in baseball history with an exclamation mark in Game 6 of the 1977 World Series. He was playing for the New York Yankees, who were up 3 games to 2 against the hard-hitting Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers had four hitters with 30 or more home runs that season.

The game was being played in Yankee Stadium. After taking a walk in his first at bat, Jackson came up in the fourth inning with a man on and lined Bert Hooton’s first pitch into the lower right field seats. In the fifth, he drove a pitch by Elian Sosa into the same area, again on the first pitch. Jackson’s next time at bat was against knuckleballer, Charlie Hough. Incredibly, he hit a long drive into the center field seats on the first pitch. Jackson had hit three home runs in one World Series game. The only other player to hit 3 home runs in a World Series game was Babe Ruth, who did it twice.

Fear at 97 Miles per Hour


One of the most difficult lessons in hitting is overcoming fear. I can remember my fear in high school as I stood “on-deck” getting ready to hit against a left-hander whose fastball was clocking at 97 miles per hour. You learn to get over it as I did, step into the box and take your best cut.

Being hit in the head with a baseball thrown at 97 miles per hour from sixty feet, six inches away is a real threat. All too often, a hitter will be tempted to shy away from the plate. However, overcoming that fear and maintaining the proper position in the batter’s box is a necessity. Although the head is most vulnerable to injury, it is the easiest part of the body to move quickly out of the way. We do it instinctively. It is more difficult to move the torso. Hitters should keep in mind that even the most fearsome flame-thrower rarely hits a batter, but if you keep your head on the ball, you will be able to get out of the way.

If a batter is knocked down by a pitch, the best response is to dig in a little deeper in the batter’s box, and hit the next pitch for a home run. Alternatively, fear in the batter’s box will put a hitter out every time. According to Ty Cobb, “Every great batter works on the theory that the pitcher is more afraid of him than he is of the pitcher.”

Call for Courage


The Second Commandment is a call for courage. Taking the “bat off your shoulder” offers endless possibilities. After you have faced a 97 mile per hour fastball how risky can other challenges be? We cannot expect to “bat a thousand” all the time, but if we never “swing the bat,” we will never win at anything. The good player learns to put aside fear of failure and face the tough challenges head-on.
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Image is J.D. Thorne, courtesy of David Bernacchi
Copyright 2012 Sporting Chance Press, Inc.

Sporting Chance Press is the publisher of J.D. Thorne's The 10 Commandments of Baseball: An Affectionate Look at Joe McCarthy's Principles for Success in Baseball (and Life) and other fine sports books. The 10 Commandments of Baseball is an enjoyable mix of professional baseball stories and the author's affectionate retelling of his own amateur baseball experiences. Whether male or female, young or old, the reader is pulled into great baseball moments that make the baseball commandments come to life with compassion and humor. The focal point of the book is the classic, but little-known, 10 Commandments of Baseball, the baseball principles created by Major League baseball's most successful manager, Joe McCarthy.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

More On Bonesetter Reese


We've written before on John D. "Bonesetter" Reese--one of the most fascinating figures in sports medicine. Reese fixed aches and injuries with his hands. As we wrote in our first post, going back to a source contemporary to John Reese, Norman D. Mattison, M.D., shed some light on the bonesetter practice when he wrote “Bone Setting and Its Modern Revival,” published in the 1916 New York Medical Journal, Volume 104. Mattison quoted another authority, W. P. Hood, who said that bone setting “is the art of overcoming by the sudden flexion or extension any impediments to the free motion of joints that may be left behind after the subsistence of the early symptoms of disease or injury.”

Bonesetter Reese arrived from Wales with his particular set of skills in 1887 to find work in Youngstown. Reese was a young orphan boy who grew to become an ironworker and learned the medical trade of "Bonesetter" from a neighbor and ironworker named Thomas Jones. Jones himself is a very interesting character as described in Child of Moriah: A Biography of John D. "Bonesetter" Reese by David L. Strickler.

In Rhymney, Wales, Thomas Jones was a puddler in the ironworks. The puddling job was particularly challenging. A puddler and a helper would work with 500 pound pigs of iron that were exposed to extreme heat in a furnace for purification. As the iron melted, it was stirred/mixed to extract impurities in the process. The hot pure medal was ultimately divided into balls that were sent on to the next leg of the process. The puddling process was called a "heat" and it took about two hours of hot nasty work. If not done just right, the quality of iron suffered. Thus, there was no margin for error. A puddler would perform 6 heats a day in his 12 hour day.

Just as in puddling, in life there was no margin for error for the mill workers. The workers had to stay fit to feed their families. But the work was so demanding, injuries were common place. No doubt doctors were in short supply and could be expensive, so the art of bonesetting came about as a way for neighbors to help neighbors. Thomas Jones was very good at the bonesetting practice and would see many workers come to his door each Sunday for treatment.

Jones background made him particularly well suited to the art. His father had been a farmer, a blacksmith, and veterinary surgeon who had learned to manipulate the muscles and joints of farm animals. Jones assisted his father and learned much about the animal muscles and joint operation that could also be applied to humans. The fact that Thomas Jones spent six days a week developing strength in his fingers, hands and arms while puddling must have made him a formidable practitioner.

Jones who would pass his skills on to his sons David and Thomas, and he and his sons would teach John Reese the bonesetting art. John himself would also take on a variety of jobs that would build up his own strength as well.

After John Reese established himself in Youngstown, he quit mill work to focus on his growing bonesetter practice. Despite friction from authorities and medical doctors, Reese had a flourishing practice—people lined up to see him. Eventually, the official civic community would recognize his work. Reese’s legend lives on today as a man who miraculously helped heal a number of prominent baseball players. His patients included Honus Wagner, Cy Young, Ty Cobb, Rogers Hornsby, and Grover Cleveland Alexander. Baseball history books are loaded with references to Reese, but his focus was helping the millworkers in Youngstown where he set up his practice.

David Anderson of the Society for American Baseball Research wrote an informative biographical essay on Reese. Additionally, John Reese’s grandson, David Strickler, published a book on his grandfather called Child of Moriah: A Biography of John D. Bonesetter Reese in 1989.  I was able to purchase a copy of this book, which I have referred to often in my work. 

Image from http://www.allthingsyoungstown.net

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Copyright 2012 Sporting Chance Press, Inc.Sporting Chance Press is the publisher of The 10 Commandments of Baseball: An Affectionate Look at Joe McCarthy's Principles for Baseball (and Life), Public Bonehead, Private Hero: The Real Legacy of Baseball's Fred Merkle, Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout, and Maddie Takes the Ice.

 Update: Sporting Chance Press's Pillars of the NFL: Coaches Who Have Won Three or More Championships by Patrick McCaskey now available--March 2014!  Order your copies here  for immediate shipment.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Packers Man Up


TV viewers watched the Packers--Giants game yesterday and waited for the Green Bay offense to click into high gear. The Packers started out slow, but seem to hang tough with the Giants until they got roughed up at the end of half. Just short of field goal range, everyone was expecting a play to set up a field goal, but the Giants surprised with a Hail Mary pass that resulted in a touchdown.

Still, the sky was not quite falling--most Packer fans were probably thinking it would just take a little longer to catch up in the second half and then seal it. It never happened. Superior passing and pass coverage by the Giants was matched by dropped passes by the Packers. Defensive play-making by the Giants was matched by poor tackling by the Packers. Secure running by the Giants was matched by fumbles by the Packers.

Four Packer turnovers certainly contributed to the 37-20 drubbing. But it was still a difficult game to categorize. Mike McCarthy offered and accepted no excuses. It was not the bye week--or the preparations that did the Pack in according to their coach. According to McCarthy the third quarter was the turning point--the fact that the Packers had the ball almost the whole quarter and just got three points was the killer. It was an anemic performance by a high octane offense.


According to Aaron Rodgers, the Pack just turned the ball over too many times to win. The Giants covered guys well and condensed the pocket. We got beat by a team that played better.

When asked to put his spin on the 15-1 season, Rodgers said the season was disappointing. He expressed regret that the players who shared the locker room with him this year would not experience a championship season. He alluded to the fact that in the NFL players move on and next season's team would be a different one.

Just how different remains to be seen. But one thing is certain, the Packers were the class of the NFC this year. And in the NFC north, they were far better than the Lions, the Bears and the Vikings. That may not be the case next season.
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Sporting Chance Press is the publisher of Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout by Patrick McCaskey.

Friday, January 13, 2012

NFL QBs Sizzle Into the Playoffs

The Wild Card games last weekend threw a spotlight on sensational quarterback play in memorable match-ups. And that happened while the “best” teams had a bye week-- while the Patriots Tom Brady and the Packers Aaron Rodgers had the weekend off!

Detroit Lions’ Matthew Stafford threw for 380 yards and three TDs in the Lions-Saints NFC Wild Card game. For the Lions, Stafford's favorite target was the unstoppable Calvin Johnson who caught 12 balls for 211 yards and 2 touchdowns. But it was not enough to beat the Saints.

Drew Brees of the Saints threw for 466 yards and three touchdowns. The Saints also chalked up 167 yards rushing versus the Lions 32. The Saints were able to hold the ball a full fifteen minutes longer than the Lions. Brees, the rushing game and possession difference –all lead to a 45-28 win for New Orleans.

Brees was near perfect--continuing an extraordinary regular season in which he had seven straight 300-yard games. For the regular season, Brees has 468 completions on 657 attempts for 5,476 yards giving him a remarkable completion rate of 71.2%. He has thrown for 46 touchdowns and has a QB rating of 110.6.

But the Lions-Saints game was not the only game that featured excellent QB play last weekend.

In a game that wasn't close at all, Eli Manning's New York Giants pounded the Atlanta Falcons 24-2. The Giants complimented Manning's passing game with a solid rushing game. Manning completed 23 passes in 32 attempts for 277 years and an 8.7 yard average for 3 touchdowns.

In a sensational David versus Goliath contest, the Denver-Pittsburgh Wild Card game, Tim Tebow slung for an incredible 316 yards on 10 completions and threw for two touchdowns. In his first play in OT, Tebow's aim was right-on when he connected for an 80-yard pass play to Demaryius Thomas. Thomas, who seemed to have wings on his feet, flew past Steeler defenders to the endzone. In addition to his pass yards, Tebow had 10 rushes for 50 yards that gave him a 125.6 QB rating. But on the other side of the ball, a beat-up Ben Rothlisberger displayed his legendary toughness as he hobbled through the entire game and was able to match the Broncos score for score into the overtime period.

At rest last weekend was Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady. Brady has 401 completions in 611 attempts for a 65.6% completion rate, 5235 yards, 12 interceptions, and 39 TDs—his QB rating stands at 105.6. Rodgers has 343 completions on 502 attempts for a 68.3% rating and 4643 yards and 45 TDs. He only has 6 interceptions this season and his QB rating is 122.5.

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Sporting Chance Press is the publisher of Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout by Patrick McCaskey.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Before Devin Hester There Was.....

Before Devin Hester, the Bears had a Pro Bowl kick returner --his name was Jerry Azumah. Azumah played just before Hester turned the kick return world on its head. Azumah had a seven-year NFL career from 1999-2005 in which he played cornerback and kick returner. Azumah was three-year starter at cornerback who had 8 interceptions in his first two years. As a former running back in college, once Azumah intercepted a pass, he was difficult to bring down. As as a kick returner, Azumah averaged 29 yards in the 2003 season, which led him to the Pro Bowl. His total kick and punt return yards of 2901 gives him the 184th spot on the all time NFL list according to Pro-Football-Reference.com.

Azumah was drafted in the fifth round of the 1999 NFL draft. In his first season, he was awarded the “Brian Piccolo Award” that honors the memory of the famous running back for the Bears who passed away from cancer. The award exemplifies the courage, loyalty, teamwork, dedication and sense of humor of its namesake.

Azumah was an All-American tailback at the University of New Hampshire who rushed for a total of 6,193 yards and set numerous records. In college he received the Sports Network Walter Payton Award (College) as the nations top offensive player in NCAA Division 1-AA Football.

After retirement from professional football, Azumah has pursued various business interests and sports commentary posts. Together with Susan Miner of Premier Relocation, Azumah began a luxury real estate concierge called Premier Athletes for professional sports franchises. Premier Athletes provides exclusive high-end residences and amenities for professional athletes to ensure a smooth transition to life in Chicago. Azumah is also involved in many charitable programs including his ASAP Foundation (Azumah Student Assistance Program) that provides scholarships to under privileged students that attend private secondary institutions in Massachusetts and Illinois.
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Sporting Chance Press is the publisher of Patrick McCaskey's Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout and other fine sports books. Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout is a personal chronicle of Chicago Bears Senior Director Patrick McCaskey that looks back at decades of spiritual enrichment and life lessons from athletes, coaches, religious and everyday people. McCaskey recalls the stories of those who strived to make the cut on and off the field—plus people who left comfortable lives to serve the under-served in extraordinary ways.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Soldier Field: Where the Bears Are

The Chicago Park District owns Soldier Field, and the Bears lease it for their games. The Park District hired SMG, a facility management company, that has run the stadium and cared for the field since 1994 according to the Tribune. The Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, a state-city agency known as McPier that owns and operates McCormick Place contracted SMG in 2011 to run its facility for a five-year period. SMG is not without its detractors, but it has a reputation for running a lean operation. Using a company like SMG can take some of the bureaucracy out of operating a big business operation like Soldier Field.

Total Soldier Field rental income to the Chicago Park District was $25,315,000 (for all events not just Bears games) according to the CPD. Park District concession income was $4,170,000. Park District revenues from Soldier Field should increase greatly as some reports state that the Bears lease increases dramatically in the middle of this decade.

The total rebuild of Soldier Field cost $675 Million according to Liam Ford author of Soldier Field: A Stadium and Its City. Make no mistake about it, the Soldier Field that opened in 2003 on the lakefront is a new stadium--very little is left from the previous edifice. Soldier Field was created by Wood + Zapata, Inc., Lohan Caprile Goettsch Architects, and many other architects and project directors. Seating capacity for football is 61,500.

Indoor Option and Ford Field

There were proposals for an indoor stadium dating back about 20 years before the Soldier Field renovation. Much was done to discourage an indoor stadium for Chicago. It seemed that most people involved from various interested parties (media--politicians--fans) wanted an outdoor stadium.

An interesting alternative to the outdoor stadium rebuild of Soldier Field is Ford Field in Detroit. Ford Field is owned by the Detroit/Wayne County Stadium Authority and was completed in 2002. Ford Field used a collection of historic Hudson Department Store warehouse structures and merged them with a modern facility. Ford Field was created by Rossetti architects, SHG, Inc., and Hamilton Anderson Associates. Ford Field features a series of skylight walkways that connect these warehouses. The design also allows for a huge influx of natural light that helps moderate that "indoor" stadium feel. Ford Field cost $500 Million and has a capacity of 65,000.
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Sporting Chance Press is the Publisher of Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout by Patrick McCaskey and other fine sports books.

Romeo Crennel New Chiefs Head Coch

Scott Pioli was hired as General Manager for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2009. Pioli is a guy who knows how to build great teams and worked hand in hand with Bill Belichick in creating the New England Patriots dynasty. He is one of the best in the business. As the Chiefs web site quotes Pioli:

My job is not to collect talent, it’s to build a team...Individuals make Pro Bowls, teams win championships. That’s our goal here. Win championships, win football games — to build this team with the right kind of people, with the right kind of players, to consistently compete for championships.


Pioli and the Chiefs parted company with Head Coach Todd Haley on December 12 2011. Today, the Chiefs announced the promotion of Romeo Crennel, the Chiefs defensive coordinator, to the position of head coach. Crennel took over as head coach for the last three games of the season and managed wins against Denver and the unbeaten Green Bay Packers. Highly respected by his players and having worked with Pioli before in New England, Crennel was a natural choice. Crennel has prior head coaching experience with the Browns and by moving up to Head Coach, the Chiefs should be able to build off the system they have been developing under Pioli since 2009. By making this head coaching change early in the year, the Chiefs will have more time to establish other coaching positions and manage player personnel needs and issues.

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Sporting Chance Press is the publisher of Patrick McCaskey's Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout and other fine sports books.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Yes, Maddie Did Take the Ice

Nicolette House is the author of Maddie Takes the Ice our middle grade novel that is very popular with young girls. Most fiction writers have a propensity for carefully watching the world around them, noting small details in physical things and recalling the smallest hints of emotion and thought. They can "read people like a book."

Some writers are all that, but they are also people of action--who live out the story lines--adventurers, athletes, and more. Nicolette House is one of those.

"Maddie did take the ice."

Nicolette is a writer who is also a world class skater who has competed internationally. And she has experienced much of what makes Maddie an interesting character and much of what connects Maddie to the experiences of most every young girl.

We included a special letter in Sporting Chance Press's Maddie Takes the Ice inviting readers to write to Nicolette. It's always a great privilege for an author to hear from a reader. This is especially true for Nicolette who works with young skaters as a coach and makes presentations to schools and libraries.

As you can imagine, we don't get a lot of notes, kids being as busy as they are today. And when we do, we certainly wouldn't take advantage of fans by printing their heart-felt notes as endorsements. But we wanted to at least share one reader's sentiments that we thought they were especially wonderful.

A young skater wrote Nicolette to tell her that she enjoyed Maddie Takes the Ice so much that she finished it in just a few days. She went on to tell Nicolette about herself and her own experiences saying they were similar to Maddie's. As she closed the note, she said she was very happy that things turned out well for Maddie because she worked hard and deserved it. It was a good letter to get as we enter a new year--authors and publishers need inspiration too! We were happy to hear from our young reader who was reaching out to our author as a new friend. Our reader, like Maddie, understands the importance of hard work.

We wish all of you success and happiness this year and thank you all for your support.


Photo: Nicolette signing author wall at legendary Cover to Cover Book Store in Columbus, Ohio.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Gordian Knot that is Professional Football: Reflections on the Bears at Season End



Season endings are a time of both reflection and action for football clubs. Season endings are a time of pronouncements from fans and critics about just how awful players, coaches, front office personnel and owners performed. There is only one Super Bowl winner each year and every other team in the NFL gets a good dose of criticism when they don't reach that pinnacle. Making it all come together in a season is the Gordian Knot of Gordian Knots.

Chicago Critics

Chicago Bears critics are pretty intense this season. Whether Chicago is the most critical town for sports, it's hard to say. National sportscasters covering a recent prime time game here in Chicago expressed surprise at how vicious some sports radio commentators had been that morning.

This year the Bears showed a lot of promise. And by most counts after a rough early season, they were improving to the point where it looked like they would make the playoffs again. That was before Cutler and Matt Forte were injured. The Bears coaches made a number of adjustments when the offensive line grew thin again at the beginning of the year, but no amount of adjustments could make up for the loss of the two most important offensive skill position players. That's pretty much the way it works in professional sports. There are exceptions, but generally if your top guys go down, your season is lost.

Three Issues—Two Falsehoods, One Truth



When bad things happen, it becomes open season on the team. Let's take a look at few points of criticism that are common these days.

1. Bears Owners Are Cheap


If you study your Bears history, you know that "Papa Bear" George Halas started the team and was there at the beginning of the NFL. He played himself for 10 years and coached for 40. You won't find any other NFL owner who did as much. Halas was not a big guy, but he was a tough one and he took a beating. He knew what it was like to live with football injuries in later life. He also lived through a lot of years when keeping the Bears afloat was touch and go. When Halas passed down the Bears, it was more than an investment to his family, it was a legacy that he had won with blood, sweat and tears--often his own.

Despite NFL team wealth, as bigger and bigger player contracts are made, ownership is a riskier and riskier business. When teams sign first-round draft picks or go for a proven player in a trade, they end up paying huge sums of money. Contracts pay players going forward, not backward. Inevitably, some of these deals don't help the team one bit. But one thing teams can do to mitigate the risk is to manage contracts wisely. The Bears are a team that is more than willing to spend to get good players who will help the team, but they historically have been disciplined with their terms. In addition to being one of many football franchises, they are still a leading franchise family. Like a lot of teams, they also don't like to renegotiate existing contracts.

Much of the "cheap" label this year was used in the context of Matt Forte, who was currently under contract. Before Forte there was some discussion about Briggs contract and some about Olin Kruetz. In all three cases, few can argue rationally that the Bears took the wrong position on these issues or owed these players more.

Some people will point out grudgingly that professional football is a business and they go on to suggest that some player is getting the shaft in compensation. But you seldom hear the argument used in reverse. If the owner ends up paying more for a player than the player produces, the owner didn't get the shaft, the owner was at fault--even if they drafted someone that every other team in the NFL wanted.

According to Spotrac.com, Julius Peppers, Jay Cutler, Brian Urlacher, and Devin Hester average at least $10 Million a year. According to Spotrac, only two Green Bay Packers are in the same class, Aaron Rodgers and Charles Woodson. At New England only Tom Brady and Logan Mankins are in the $10 Million plus category according to Spotrac. In New Orleans, it's Drew Brees and Will Smith. Do these numbers make the Bears cheap?

Peppers and Cutler were two guys the Bears went after outside the draft and when you do that you pay dearly. From a business perspective, teams like to develop players from mid and lower round draft picks. In that way, the players need to prove themselves before the big pay days come. In this way, the Matt Forte contract was perfectly standard and right for a second round draft pick. But there are some who believe everyone should get a big pay day especially when it is not their money being used.

2. Lovie Smith Is a Bad Coach


Under Smith, the Bears took the top spot in the NFC North in 2005, 2006 and 2010. The Bears were the NFC Champions in 2006 and lost in the Super Bowl. In 2010, the Bears won the Divisional round of the playoffs by beating the Seattle Seahawks, but lost in the NFC Championship game to the Green Bay Packers. Smith’s record with the Bears is 71-57.

Smith has put together a tremendous coaching stuff that includes former head coaches Mike Martz, Rod Merinelli, and Mike Tice. Smith will be looking for another solid offensive coordinator with the exit of Mike Martz. The Bears players routinely express their respect and admiration for Smith and many observers give the Bears high marks for their intensity and dedication. Smith is a quiet, soft spoken man who is not easily excited. He calmly goes about his business and accepts all criticism that comes his way and does not deflect any on his players or coaches. If Smith is asked to leave the Bears, it won't be because he is not a good coach. He is an excellent one.

3. Bears Have Not Been Good at Acquiring Talent


Jay Cutler did not come cheap. The Bears traded a good backup QB in Kyle Orton and two first round picks--2009 and 2010 for Cutler. One of the more difficult challenges for NFL management is acquiring talent without paying too heavy a price. Perhaps the biggest weakness with the Bears today is the issue of depth.

Most believe that the Cutler acquisition was a necessary move for the Bears, but one that had implications for the Team's depth chart. Teams that can develop talent from draft picks, have a better chance of doing well in the long term. Trading for existing developed players is generally going to be costly.

The two top draft picks traded for Cutler hurt the Bears chances of building more depth, but the Bears had the perennial problem of poor quarterback play. It was the poor quarterback play and quarterback injuries that hurt the Bears more than anything else during the Smith years.

It’s easy to understand why Smith might be looking forward to next season with a healthy Jay Cutler and a number of supporting players on offense who have the necessary experience and talent to do well. The Bears will need more help in the wide receiving corps and more depth on the offensive line. But they have more pieces in place on offense than in recent past.

Jerry Angelo had a long run with the Chicago Bears. Management changes are not just common, they are often necessary to help an organization stay on its toes. Angelo had a bad streak of luck more than he made a lot of bad decisions. It’s easy enough to criticize draft choices a few years after they are made.

Look at any one draft selection by itself and you might see a success or failure that was more luck than skill. For example, the Tom Brady selection by the New England Patriots. Brady was selected for backup purposes. It was Brady who proved his mettle after the selection and Patriots Coach Belichick was smart enough to respond to it. Belichick's actions after the draft showed his skill at judging talent.

However in the NFL, an evaluation over a longer period of time must be made that sets aside the lucky picks and the unlucky ones as well. The Bears picks in the last seven years did not give the team the players to sustain a championship tradition. Smith simply was not given enough talent to put the Bears into a leading position within the league. It’s that high standard which is being used today to measure Jerry Angelo's performance.

When you look at the recent Bears drafts, you can see a number of factors that play into the success or lack of success , but you do not find stupidity as some commentators would like to suggest. Angelo is a smart man.

2005 Draft
Cedric Benson was the Bears first round pick in 2005. Mark Bradley was a second round selection and Kyle Orton a fourth. Chris Harris, the safety, was a sixth round choice.

Bear fans know the history of Benson. He was a University of Texas standout—a strong runner who had all the skills to do well in the NFL. Historically, the Bears are at their best when they have an explosive runner. Benson was a natural choice for the Bears, but he would do poorly in Chicago. Only after he was picked up on the cheap by Cincinnati did he approach his potential.

The Bears were not cheap with Benson. According to http://www.spotrac.com, Benson signed a 5-year $35 Million dollar contract with the Bears in 2005 with $17 Million in guarantees. But he averaged just 531 rushing yards for his three seasons with the Bears. He has been averaging well over 1000 yards in Cincinnati. When Benson was released, the Bears had nothing to show for the first round pick that had held so much promise.

Bradley had a brief NFL career and is a free agent today. Orton did a good job for the Bears filling in and Harris had his ups and downs with the Bears. Most would say this was not a good draft for the Bears, but if Benson had hit his stride with the Bears, it would have been a very good draft.

2006 Draft
The Bears traded their first round pick in 2006 to get more picks in the draft. This is a strategy that is being used by many teams who are trying to build more depth especially when they believe the draft talent for a particular year is sub-par. Not every draft class is the same.

After the Benson acquisition the previous year, the Bears leaned towards defensive players in 2006, but it was the special teams who would get a big star. They selected Danieal Manning and Devin Hester in the second round and Mark Anderson in the fifth. Many see Hester as a likely Hall of Famer. Manning made a considerable contribution to the Bears returning kicks and then as a corner back and safety before he left the team. Manning wanted a better contract than the Bears were willing to provide. Manning was much more valuable to a team in need of a good returner--the Bears had Hester.

Mark Anderson would have an up and down career with the Bears that left most fans puzzled because he had the talent to become a game-breaker. Anderson was a long-term disappointment to the Bears, but at least had one very good year for them. Dusty Dvoracek who was selected in the third round, would be injured four seasons running before his release. Jamar Williams, a fourth round selection would serve as a backup linebacker for a few years.

Hester made the 2006 draft a good one for the Bears, but it had the potential to be a great one if Anderson’s career would have developed. Anderson racked up a 12-sack regular season with the playoff bound New England Patriots in 2011.

2007 Draft
Greg Olsen was a late first round pick in 2007. Olsen was building a solid career with the Bears with 39 receptions in 2007, 54 receptions in 2008, and 60 receptions in 2009. He was not a bulky tight end who could substitute for another huge lineman, however. Under the Mike Martz offense--Olsen's numbers dropped to 41 receptions in 2010. Under Martz, the tight ends are used more as blockers and for shorter pass routes. Olsen was excellent at longer routes. Olsen was traded to the Carolina Panthers where his numbers are climbing. His yards per catch average is now up to 12 yards—a couple yards over his average with the Bears. Other draftees included Garrett Wolfe, Josh Beekman, Daniel Bazuin, Michael Okwo and Corey Graham. Corey Graham is a backup corner back who has been outstanding on special teams -- voted to the 2011 Pro Bowl as the NFC's Special Teams player.

The Bears traded Olsen for a third round draft pick in 2012. Olsen was the meat and potatoes of the 2007 draft, and not making use of him long term makes the 2007 draft a poor one. However, he was picked before Mike Martz was put on the staff. It is unlikely that Angelo would have selected Olsen under the current offensive system.

2008 Draft
The Bears drafted Chris Williams in the first round of the 2008 draft. Williams required back surgery in his rookie season and recently underwent surgery on his wrist. He gets high marks for his play, but his long term contribution to the team remains in question. Matt Forte was drafted in the second round and his selection suggests that the Bears were ahead of the curve in recognizing his talents. Earl Bennett was drafted in the third and he has been a key receiver for Cutler. Tight end Kellen Davis was a fifth round pick who made his mark under Martz system. Other draftees who remain with the Bears are Craig Steltz and Zack Bowman. Williams's injuries mar the 2008 draft for now. The 2008 draft is one that could look better if Williams is able to contribute for several years. Never-the-less, the Bears got a number of contributors from the 2008 draft.

2009 Draft
The Bears had no first or second round picks in 2009. Their first round pick was traded as part of the Cutler deal. They had two third round picks that did not work out: defensive end Jarron Gilbert and wide receiver Juaquin Iglesias—both gone. Other picks were more fruitful. Defensive tackle Henry Melton has made a strong contribution. Cornerback DJ Moore, wide receiver and kick returner Johnny Knox, and offensive lineman Lance Louis all contributed in 2011.

2010 Draft
Again, the Bears did not have a first round pick in 2010 because of the Cutler deal. The Bears did land Major Wright, Corey Wooten, and J’Marcus Webb. Dan LeFevour, a college quarterback who amassed phenomenal numbers, was also drafted, but did not impress and was released. Corner back Josua Moore was picked up and is on the Bears’ practice squad.

2011 Draft
Monster offensive lineman from Wisconsin Gabe Carimi was drafted in the first round of the 2011 draft. Until Carimi proves himself on the field for an extended period of time, this draft will be difficult to grade. He suffered a dislocated knee early in the season, which was followed by two knee surgeries. Super strong defensive lineman Stephen Paea, safety Chris Conti, QB Nathan Enderle, and linebacker J.T. Thomas were also acquired. It’s way too early to make much of the 2011 draft.

Before the critics hang Jerry Angelo out to dry, they might consider what might have been had Cedric Benson and Mark Anderson played for the Bears like they are playing today for their respective teams. Also consider Greg Olsen's value to the Bears had they not gone to a Mike Martz system.

Bottom Line
The Bears owners are not cheap. Lovie Smith is a good coach. And few people will argue that the Bears need to improve their talent acquisition. But keep in mind that talent acquisition goes a lot deeper than a GM making good picks. Good picks can go bad. And good picks one year, may not be good picks the next. No one has all the answers in this business.


Sporting Chance Press is the publisher of Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout, Pillars of the NFL: Coaches Who Have Won Three or More Championships, The 10 Commandments of Baseball: An Affectionate Look at Joe McCarthy's Principles for Success in Baseball (and Life), Maddie Takes the Ice, and Public Bonehead-Private Hero: The Real Legacy of Baseball's Fred Merkle.  

Update: Sporting Chance Press's Pillars of the NFL: Coaches Who Have Won Three or More Championships by Patrick McCaskey now available--March 2014!  Order your copies here  for immediate shipment.


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Copyright 2012 by Sporting Chance Press. Larry Norris is President of Sporting Chance Press.