The Bears showed improvement despite some sloppy mistakes, Jose Ureña is a chicken-shit, Major League Baseball shit the bed, and my favorite take-away from Ken Rosenthal’s fantastic interview with Dusty Baker, who among other things, thinks baseball is boring (he’s right), and more in this week’s edition of Spare Change.
Bears-Broncos Takeaways: The Trubisky-Burton Connection, Sloppy Penalties and the Injury Bug
The Bears were back in action on Saturday night as they paid a visit to the Denver Broncos in their third preseason contest, and Mitchell Trubisky quickly took a liking to Trey Burton. The second-year signal caller and his new favorite weapon hooked up three times for 38 yards on the opening drive — that resulted in a 52-yard missed field goal by Cody Parkey — before hooking up for a fourth time on the first play of the second quarter, resulting in a 7-yard touchdown pass.
Trubisky actually hit Burton earlier on that drive for a gain of 10 yards, but an offensive pass interference call on wide receiver Marlon Brown negated the play. All told, four of Trubisky’s nine completions were hauled in by No. 80, accounting for 45 of Trubisky’s 90 yards on the evening.
Aside from an interception — that was at the fault of Tarik Cohen not finishing a route, according to head coach Matt Nagy — Mitch Trubisky looked a lot more comfortable in the new offense, going 9-14 for 90 yards, one touchdown and an interception. Also worth noting, I counted 22 plays ran out of the shotgun (including plays negated by penalties) while Trubisky was in the game, and that has me pretty excited for this new offense.
Had it not been for sloppy penalties by the offense during the first half, Chase Daniel might have never had his opportunity to bring the Bears back from behind in the fourth quarter. The opening drive was stalled after a big gainer by Jordan Howard was called back due to a Charles Leno Jr holding call on Broncos rookie Bradley Chubb, and that was just the beginning.
Bobbie Massie was whistled for a false start on the second drive of the game, Marlon Brown negated a 10-yard pass play with an offensive pass interference call on the third drive of the game, and in the end, six penalties would cost the Bears 84 yards in the ballgame. Then there was the curious case of Cre’Von LeBlanc calling for a fair catch for a punt inside the Bears’ five, a muffed snap by Trubisky a few plays later that resulted in a safety, and of course the bad route by Cohen that led to an interception on Trubisky’s final drive of the game. Overall, the offense showed great progress, but looked far too sloppy at times.
The injury bug, the Bears arch nemesis in recent years, reared it’s ugly head once again on Saturday evening. Tight end Adam Shaheen was lost on the opening drive to an ankle injury, linebacker Leonard Floyd suffered a finger injury, and linebacker Danny Trevathan was seen heading into the x-ray room after the conclusion of the game. Let’s hope for the best on all three of those fronts, and hope that Matt Nagy is reserved with the playing time for the first team moving forward through the preseason.
Major League Baseball Divisional Races taking Shape
Is there a better team story in baseball right now, than the Oakland Athletics? The Athletics, who were a .500 ballclub on Father’s Day, have surged into a tie for first place in the American League West, with the defending champions, the Houston Astros. Personally, anytime the A’s are in the hunt for October baseball, I’m pulling for them. Oh, and let’s not forget about the Seattle Mariners, who are also within striking distance of Oakland and Houston.
The Cardinals are surging, and the Brewers and Cubs are playing less-than-stellar baseball, making the National League Central an interesting race to watch, and the up-and-coming Braves and Phillies are both leading the Washington Nationals in the National League East right now. Remember in April, like the first two weeks of April at that, when Phillies fans were calling for Gabe Kapler‘s head on a skewer? Yep, me too.
Football may be back, but there’s nothing quite like some down to the wire baseball playoff races, friends.
Chicken-Shit Jose Ureña, and Major League Baseball’s Soft Punishment
Jose Ureña of the Miami Marlins showed us again, why Major League Baseball needs to stiffen it’s penalties for “bean ball” incidents. Facing the red-hot Ronald Acuña Jr at the onset of Wednesday’s meeting between the two teams in Atlanta, and likely worried that his 3-12 record and 4.74 ERA would be no match for Acuña, Ureña drilled the young phenom in the elbow, causing him to be removed from the game.
Acuña, who had hit leadoff home runs in each of the three previous games for the Braves, is arguably one of the fastest rising faces of the game, an international face of the game at that, and a key piece in a division-leading Atlanta Braves playoff push.
Not only did Ureña drill Acuña, he tossed his glove down as to invite the Braves to a fight when they came out of the dugout while Acuña grimaced in pain along the third base line.
The next morning, Major League Baseball handed down a six-game suspension, one that is under appeal, and at most will cost Ureña one turn in the rotation. Ureña, who was in uniform on Friday and eligible to play due to him appealing, said this, “When I saw I hit a guy, I feel bad,” Urena said Friday. “I said something: ‘Hey, you’ll be OK.’ I said it in Spanish.”
Ureña is full of shit, and Major League Baseball, which has a highly publicized deficiency in effectively marketing their product to new fans, shit the bed with their slap on the wrist that they passed off as punishment.
Baseball needs young, excitable stars like Ronald Acuña, and should be doing everything in their power to protect them, especially since they can’t seem to figure out how to market them effectively.
Dusty Calls it Like it is
Regardless of your personal feelings on Dusty Baker, his recent interview with Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic is a must-read. Dusty opines on everything in baseball, from his time as a manager, racism in the ranks, his future in the game, Barry Bonds and his Hall of Fame case, the Washington Nationals’ current struggles, and more.
My favorite part of the story, was when Dusty pointed out one of the biggest reasons why MLB has such an issue marketing and growing baseball. The current brand of baseball is boring. Look, I’ve always been of the thinking that those who believe baseball is boring, are dull-minded.
But Dusty is right, baseball now is boring, especially to kids.
Three true outcomes rule the game, professional ballplayers can’t bunt, can’t hit to the opposite field, starters can’t pitch deep, bullpens are a volatile crapshoot — and all MLB can come up with is adding gimmicky clocks and rules to increase the speed of the ballgame.
Newsflash, no one would care about the length of the ballgame if they weren’t watching professional hitters trade an excessive amount of pop fly’s and strikeouts with a few home runs sprinkled to determine a winner.
And the issue only gets worse at the minor league levels, where kids are coming up now being taught to play the game this way in their high school years.
I heard talk recently of banning defensive shifts in baseball, and that has to be one of the most ineffective strategies possible. Let the shifts ride. Hell, let’s start stacking everyone on one side of the field. Maybe, just maybe then, will guys return to learning how to actually hit the damn baseball somewhere but straight up in the air 70 percent of the time.
Home runs are fun.
Only home runs, is not fun baseball.
There has to be a mix of home runs and other means of offensive production to make games more exciting.
Anyway, check out the Rosenthal story, it’s well worth your time on this fine Sunday morning.