Monday, August 18, 2008

Driving To Despair

The family roadtrip vacation is now one for the ages. On Saturday, we left Hershey, Pennsylvania at 9:00 a.m. Eastern Time. I put in the final marathon stretch of driving through the last of 13 states, covering 10 days of family togetherness, to arrive home at 7:30 p.m. Central Time. Just in time to see the Bears play the Seahawks in Preaseason practice game 2. After two quarters, I wanted to get back in the car. After two years of listening and reading about our quarterback situation, you all got to see in living color how bad this offensive line really is. Grossman had no chance. It was as if the line refused to block, imposing their own will (or lack of one) on this QB "controversy." "Hey," they were saying, "we are the truly shitty part of this team and its time we got our recognition." So, enough about the QB. It's Orton, and he's taller, so he can see over the oncoming slaughter for a slightly longer time. Enough time to decide on which sideline to throw they ball away and avoid the sack.

If you are ever in Orangeberg County, South Carolina, be sure to find Duke's Barbecue. It is a little shack of a place off the interstate in a small town just north of Columbia. When you walk in, you are summoned to a cafeteria steam table, no different than the one in your high school lunchroom. What that table contains is the best barbecue that you can find in the world. For $7.50, the lady behind the counter pulls out a large Styrofoam takeout plate with sections. Telling her that I was a rookie, she gave me the house specials. Pulled pork like I love it, slightly dry, not fatty and tender. There was very good, not overly sweet slaw. The hash is an orange concoction (allegedly pig innards ground into mush) spread over rice. Yummy. There were hush puppies too. But the kicker was the sauce. It was a sweet mustard sauce. It was heavenly. All these years of barbecue sauce, I had no idea. It's mustard. I am still thinking about that plate.

Friday, August 1, 2008

The Bottom Line Gives No Goosbumps.

The Bears organization is not a dynamic entity. It takes no chances and plays the game within the restraints set up by the salary cap and the collective bargaining agreement. This is a result of Bears ownership valuing the bottom line of profit in how they run the team. Winning is secondary to the revenue generated from their product. The Halas family, the McCaskeys, have no fortune generated from another venture. They don't have the bottomless pockets of a Mark Cuban or Daniel Snyder. The Bears are their livelihood, not their hobby. Thus, a conservative approach to hiring coaches and a general manager has been their mandate. As a result, we Bear fans get a bland and safe football team. Always a chance to be good, but never great.

This is why we long for Ditka. Not because he was such a great coach, but because he was exciting, unpredictable and fun. We would settle for that. This team we have cannot and will not win a championship. The ownership's profit-driven mentality allows for the recent team structure that completely neglects the offensive side of the football. I think it is because offensive players as a rule make more money than defensive players. The more talent on offense, the more they have to spend on player salaries. With a strong defense, the score remains close and maybe we can pull one out of our ass. Isn't that the feeling you get watching a Bear game? When the moment comes, and it comes in almost every game, when Bears offense needs to score a touchdown, you realize that you have absolutely no hope that they can get it done. Instead, we lean on our crutches, the chance that the defense scores or Hester shakes loose. Devin Hester is the worst thing that could have happened to this team. It allows Lovie and Jerry Angelo to continue to ignore improving the talent on offense.

This is no knock on Hester at all. He is a great kick returner, the best I have ever seen or read about. But Hester is cheaper than actually paying a real NFL quarterback, a real NFL running back and a real NFL receiver. Aikmen, Smith and Irvin would never happen in Chicago, not in a million years. This lack of energy, of vision, of adventure has gotten us to this point. Potentially the worst offense we have seen in Chicago in decades, but still a chance to get 9 wins. That and an opportunity to get taken out to the woodshed in a playoff game. This is no way to live Bear fans.