Nichol(s) Slots – Merry Christmas addition

Christmas is just three days away! And I hope all of you realize it’s not the presents or Santa that’s the reason for the season.

So take a second and give thanks to God, because Jesus Christ is the reason for the season and his birth signifies a greater meaning for you and me.

But if there was a true and real Santa (sorry kiddos, you were going to find out sooner later!), he definitely put something under Derrick Rose’s tree he won’t ever forget.

Rose signed a $94 million extension with the Bulls and unless he’s traded (which would be stupid), he’s a Bull for life.

It’s easy to say owner Jerry Reinsdorf wasn’t a Grinch this Christmas, that’s for sure. He signed White Sox pitcher John Danks to a long-term deal in the $65 million range. But Jerry was definitely printing money this year. And his most important signing, Rose, the future for the Bulls, will be the overwhelming reason the Bulls are in championship contention and snatching him up for the long term is utter complete genius.

I love Derrick Rose. This kid’s a competitor. And an MVP. He’s the perfect leader the Bulls need. Contract extension well-deserved.

But Derrick confused me at his presser yesterday announcing he and his mom “made it.”

Made it? Hmm. Didn’t Derrick already do that?

D Rose is very big in the fact that money doesn’t matter to him, that he loves the game and his goals this year is to win a championship.

However, after signing a $94 million extension, he’s telling his mom that “they’ve made it.”

Correct me if I am wrong, but if he’s not about the money, if he’s about winning, the love of the game and championships, shouldn’t his “we made it” moment have come at the 2008 NBA Draft, when the Bulls drafted him to play in his hometown?

I don’t want to take away anything from Rose. He obviously means it when he talks about playing the game for the love and how nothing else but his family and basketball matters.

But don’t get me wrong for thinking it’s a little hypocritical that Rose is talking about “making it” when the opportunity came nearly four years ago.

So many people see their dreams end far before the NBA draft. Rose, was the first pick. If you’re the first pick, you’ve made it. And he got paid some good money back then on his rookie deal.

So what’s really Rose talking about? Yes he has financial security. He can buy whatever he wants. But when you go out on a limb about “making it” after signing a contract close to a $100 million, Cuba Gooding Jr.’s line or Howard Schlossberg’s sports class at Columbia comes to mind:

“It’s all about the moneeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeey!”

Thanks Howard. You’re the man. Go Knicks.

In the money sense of the NBA, the NBA isn’t using a Wal-Mart pay scale. And if that’s what the market brings for Rose, than it’s rightfully so: Rose should be the highest paid Bull, and one of the top salaried players in the NBA. It just so happens they pay basketball players in millions.

But his rookie salary alone could have made lots of people saying they made it.

There go the Hawks, the Mighty Blackhawks! 

If there’s anything hotter than Derrick Rose’s contract or the Bulls Christmas Day date with the Lakers, it’s the scorching Blackhawks, who are 8-1-1 in their last 10 games and are coming off a 5-1 win over Original Six Montreal at the United Center last night.

The Hawks have league-leading 48 points heading into Christmas. At 22-9-4, they also lead the West and their 22-wins ties Boston for the most wins in the league. Only once have the Hawks lost in regulation in December — two in a 13-game span — and are 10-2-1 since losing to San Jose on November 23.

Patrick Sharp  scored his 18th goal last night, his eighth in 10 games. He also has six assists in that span. Yet, nobody is hotter than Jonathan Toews, who is having the best season of any Hawk.

He notched his 20th goal on an empty net late in the third against Montreal, which tied Steven Stampkos for the league lead. And with 37 points in 35 games, it’s hard to argue with Sidney Crosby’s absence he may be the best player in the NHL right now.

If he’s hitting his prime now, how many more Stanley Cups can the Hawks win?

Don’t forget Ray Emery’s five-game win streak. After Corey Crawford was 3-3 in his last six games, posing a GAA of 3.93 and a .866 save percentage, Emery stepped in and won five-straight. This can prove huge come playoff time. Emery has shown he can protect the pipes and depth is always important late in the season.

In Crawford’s return against Montreal, he stopped 20 shots and allowed one goal and if the Hawks are going to win the Stanley Cup, they must ride Crawford. But if for some reason he can’t, you can look back at those five wins Emery provided and believe the Hawks will be just fine in both the depth and playoff departments.

DA Bears (should start hibernating) 

If there were four games I could have back, it still might be Games 2-5 in the Eastern Conference Finals. But these last four Bear losses were really hard to swallow. Just think, before we knew of Jay Cutler’s injury, the Bears were 7-3 and cruising to a playoff berth. Now at 7-7, it just isn’t fair to watch them anymore.

The other shoe dropped as the defense couldn’t cut it anymore in a loss to the Seahawks.  There’s still two games left and with their anemic offense still reeling, I’d tell Jay Cutler to go have fun with his fiance, Urlacher, Lance Briggs and Julius Peppers to rest up for next season and for the McCaskeys to get a general manager in there that can make appropriate moves in either free agency or the draft for a couple of wide receivers and secondary players.

Because there will be no “Super Bears, Super Bowl!” as my friends at WFLD used to say in the sports office.

Baseball talk

While the Sox were busy re-signing John Danks to a multi-year deal, Theo Epstein was busy dealing reliever Sean Marshall to the Reds.

Fans may be upset with the move because Marshall has been one the best left-handed relievers, let alone one of the best relievers in baseball the past few seasons but Epstein might be realizing that Marshall’s stock couldn’t be higher and dealing him now when the price is right might get back the goods he needs to restore the young crop of talent the organization is missing.

In return, the Cubs acquired Travis Wood and two minors. Wood was 6-6 with a 4.84 ERA for the Reds last season. His major league debut came against the Cubs on July 1, 2010 when he only surrendered two runs on two hits in seven innings. That season he finished with a 5-4 record and an ERA of 3.51.

Expect Wood to be in the starting rotation mix. As for the other Wood, speculation Kerry will sign but wants a salary higher than his 2011 paycheck. Wood earned $1.5 million in 2011.

There’s nothing new on the Prince Fielder front and there’s two scenarios that I’ve been pondering:

1) Fielder and agent Scott Boras are negotiating with teams to get a deal close to or that of Albert Pujols’ deal with the Angels and teams aren’t necessarily all-in with the amount of years due to Fielder’s health.

2) The Cubs are just a little scared to make the move for the reasons above. So why did I need two reasons?

Epstein must have a solution soon on who is his first baseman. But if I had the resources, I’d work out a deal where Fielder gets the cash he’s looking for and the security I need to know Fielder’s contract won’t be Soriano-like in a couple years.

Meaning — that way of doing things probably won’t sign the guy.

Oh well.

Bears prediction

Your Christmas wishes are probably the same as mine: A Bears win and somehow everyone else loses.

It’s a tough one to predict as the Packers deal with injuries. The top seed isn’t all yet assured and a win can seal it. They may come out with everything so they can rest up and let the Lions have their way on New Years Day.

I’ll pick the Packers on Christmas, 24-7. Sorry Bears fans, the defense will do all that it can but the offense will be back home eating Christmas ham.

Stockings full of coal

– Marion Barber still hasn’t talked much about the fumble and the bonehead out-of-bounds move he pulled in Denver. Talk about the Grinch (who gets paid millions, he needs to talk) who stole Bears-Mas.

– Hell, let’s throw Roy Williams some coal, too. Wait, he won’t catch that, either.

– Pittsburgh’s Deryk Engelland will definitely find some in his stocking on Christmas morning after the NHL suspended the defensemen for his hit to the head of Hawks center Marcus Kruger.

When you leave the ice to check someone into the boards as Engelland did, that’s a big no-no. And due to terms in the NHL’s current collective bargaining agreement, it was a costly un-penalized hit as the defensemen will have to forfeit nearly $10,000.

– Floyd Mayweather Jr. will serve 60 days in prison for a domestic violence issue. I still say he should go to prison for not wanting to fight Manny Pacquiao. Though Floyd might want to shed the “pretty boy” motif upon entering the cell before he gets a stocking full of something that’s not even close to being coal.

– Golden State Warriors guard Monta Ellis is being sued for sexual harassment. More and more nasty things (that we could expect out of some) are coming out about athletes and coaches. See: Jerry Sandusky, Bernie Fine, etc..

– J.R. Smith, Wilson Chandler and Kenyon Martin are all stuck in China after thinking the NBA would be locked out for the entire season. How’s those egg rolls, guys?

– Jerry Angelo? He really didn’t build a great Bears team, or have any good backups for Cutler or Forte. So can we blame him? I’d like to.

I’m sure I’ve missed some. And may be I’ll add some to this list before Christmas.

Underneath the miseltoe? 

– I’ve got to start with the Clippers. The Clippers! This is going to be exciting. Chris Paul and Blake Griffin together is like a Lou Malnati’s pizza. Delicious! I love my Lakers, but I love L.A., so go Clips! But Western Conference Finals? Not so sure. May be Oklahoma City and Memphis?

– Rip Hamilton as the starting shooting guard

Hamitlon looked great in his Bulls debut with 13 points but many, including myself, all say the Bulls could have done better at the position. May be Gar and Pax will prove us wrong… or Hamilton himself. He does fit the Bulls mold quite well. So does that headband and face protector.

–  John Scott coming to the aid of Kruger in Pittsburgh wasn’t a kiss, but a punch to the mouth. Even though the penalty led to a goal for Penguin, that’s what you want to see. Scott’s been a force. Who really wants to fight him? Carcillo?

– Ray Emery. He’s been superb the last few weeks and sometimes I wonder if it’s better to be the Hawks backup goalie?

– Shaq on NBA on TNT. When Turner grabbed him to be with Ernie Johnson, Kenny “the Jet” Smith and “Sir” Charles Barkley, they put themselves even further past ESPN. But it was no race to begin, even without Shaq. Get ready.

– DePaul’s men’s basketball team is 9-3. Don’t get your panties into a bunch. Actually, continue to not pay attention. Might want to take a peek at Northwestern.

– How about with Jay Cutler’s fiance, Kristin Cavalleri? I’ll go smooch with her. May be I should crap out in an NFC championship and work on my butt. Apparently, that’s a way to get the snobby blonde to like you.

Christmas Wishes

Before Nichol(s) Slots comes to an end, here’s some Christmas wishes (some of them might be prayers) that stretch well into the new year – 2012!

– There be a way that somehow Detroit and Atlanta (or one or the other) lose their final two games, the Bears defeat Minnesota and Green Bay, get into the playoffs and have Jay Cutler lead a storied playoff run.

OK, so may be I need a genie for those three wishes. Cue the Genie in a Bottle song, now.

– Derrick Rose and the Bulls as the 2012 NBA champions. It’s realistic. And we can be the Heat. We do it every summer, anyway. Only the Bulls. Only the Bulls.

– Prince Fielder. Theo, make the splash. It’s Tom Ricketts money. Think Boston. Sign him. If he flops, we can trade him to the White Sox. Ken Williams is known to make questionable trades.

– An AFC team to please eliminate Tim Tebow so the Broncos can’t get in the playoffs. And if he gets into the playoffs, please eliminate him in the very first round.  No more Tebow until August, please?!

– Snow on Christmas Day. Right now, Chicago is more like a Dez White Christmas.

– Hopefully someone grabs me a pair of Air Jordan 11’s in a size 11.5 or at last resort, 12. I’m actually serious.

– Also, grab me 1995-1996 black pinstriped Jordan jersey at the NBA store on NBA.com. Size L.

– And the 1997-1998 MJ jerseys as well. Might want to throw in a D Rose jersey, too.

– iPhone 4S? Go and get that, too.

– MacBook Pro? HP laptop? My monitor on my laptop is hanging by a thread. Literally. I should show you but wouldn’t you like to take a butcher’s word for it?

– A GMC Terrain. You need a car to put all those gift in. Just give me the whole thing.

– I’m really praying in all seriousness that a news director gives me the break I’ve been hoping for to be their sports director/sports anchor. Something has to give.

2011 was an interesting sports year. From the Jerry Sandusky scandal to the Dallas Mavericks stunning the Miami Heat, there was definitely something to talk about (good or bad).

Game 6 of the 2011 World Series might have been the greatest baseball game I have ever seen. The World Series was without question the best one I’ve possibly seen in 24 years. And you’ll never see the last day of the regular season end the way it did. Never. Even with the new wild card one game playoff, it will NEVER amount to 2011’s last day.

The NBA Finals went to the Mavericks and not LeBron James and the Heat. And for as long as those three are in the NBA, I hope they never get a ring. That LeBron quote that people will wake up with the same problems should remind people that he should NEVER win a ring, period.

Every pro championship in 2011 exceeded the hype. The Super Bowl was exciting. The Stanley Cup and NBA Finals were thrilling events and the World Series went seven games. I’d say the excitement from those four championships might never be matched in a calender year again.

The Vancouver Canucks were a dirty team that didn’t deserve the Cup and the riots afterward suggested the city of Vancouver did not deserve one, either. Boston winning that series served major justice. I just wish I could have seen the Sedin sisters cry at home.

Jerry Sandusky is an evil, disgusting, vile, immature, inhumane S.O.B..

Penn State really, really, really dropped the ball. Joe Paterno did, too.

And speaking of riots again, Penn State students, grow up.

Albert Pujols is a very rich man. The middle and lower classes aren’t.

As for the Chicago scene, the Bears will end things on a sour note. The Bulls will embark on another year of optimism. The Hawks could be on the cusp of yet another Stanley Cup and both baseball teams will be rebuilding for the future.

But for 2012, be grateful of what you have. Be grateful that God’s looking out for you and if the Chicago sports team you root for wins at all, take it as a icing on the cake.

Merry Christmas and God Bless!

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