Fastest Five: Super Bowl picks, Wrigley’s new LED, Manning x2

We’ve got another set of topics in the Fastest Five. You ready? Here we go!


1. At the Cubs Convention last weekend, the club introduced plans for new bleacher and patio seats in the corner of right field.

As of last season, that section was full of individual seats — which if you’ve watched over the past seasons, rarely get filled.

When the makeover is complete for the 2012 opener, the space will be used for parties and group gatherings and a 75-foot LED board will be constructed above the ivy in that area for the fans who’ve complained they need a better look at pitch counts, stats and whatever else.

Don’t think that the club is trying to serve the fans their due. Yes, in a way they are, but the Cubs are getting creative with the space and the LED board/party area will bring major advertising and marketing dollars — something the park has challenged the organization for years.

Wrigley is better without much advertisements, but the Ricketts — who admitted to a Boston way of things (hello Theo) — realize how much money they’re losing out and Wrigley will find itself looking more and more like Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park with advertisements every five inches.

But can we bring back the Torco sign?

2.  While laying in bed one night sorting through all sorts of sports topics, this came to mind: How would the Bulls would look if they were without Joakim Noah, via a trade?

Joakim is the man, and it looks as if he’s going through a tough stretch this season that may be hampered by an injury or something. But if the Bulls are 13-3 with Noah sitting through vital stretches of the fourth quarter — Boozer as well — then may be the Bulls should really consider trading Noah and Boozer to Orlando for Dwight Howard.

Whether or not Howard hates the cold — and really, Chicago hasn’t had really any snow except for what fell last week… and may be what’s schedule for today — there’s no doubt he and Derrick Rose would benefit greatly because of the move. The whole deal would have to revolve around Luol Deng staying, though, which could be tough.

Howard reportedly listed the Clippers as a team he’d like to be traded to, as it might be a smart thing to play out West since the East is looking like it’s regaining steam.

But if Howard OK’d the deal and the Bulls were able to keep Deng, you have to make this trade, pronto.

At some point in time, the Bulls will bring over Nikola Mirotic from Spain and a decision will have to be made on which big man to amnesty — either Boozer or Noah. Boozer is most likely — he’s older than Joakim and owed more money.

Would you rather have Mirotic and Boozer? Or Mirotic and Howard?

If you want Mirotic and Noah, you’re probably thinking like me as the fan.

If you want Mirotic and Boozer, you’re not GM material.

But if you want Mirotic and Howard, with Gibson and Asik still in the front court, now your cap is on.

Odds are Howard is dealt to L.A. and this doesn’t happen. But it doesn’t look like the Bulls will go that way anyways, Gar and Pax seem to be stubborn — a good stubborn — about winning with the chemical makeup now.

2A. The Knicks plain suck. Whatever happened to the Carmelo Anthony trade making New York better? They were better off with Chauncey Billups — look at the Clippers for proof. Dallas was better off with Tyson Chandler. Here, New York thought they caught Boston on their way to Miami. They can’t even keep up with Philadelphia. The real Knicks are all playing in Denver.

2B. I’ve only seen highlights of “Pistol” Pete Maravich, but clearly he was one of the greatest and jazziest point guards in NBA history. And while Shaq called Ricky Rubio the “Italian Pete Maravich” — Rubio is Spanish — Shaq has the right idea. Since Steve Nash, I haven’t seen a player at the PG position this exciting. And before Nash, you could argue the flashiest before was Maravich. Rubio’s the best passer I’ve ever seen. Minnesota has a nice duo with him and Kevin Love and it would be nice if the Timberwolves could get another asset. If so, Rubio and the T’Wolves will be good in a hurry. But Rubio, he’s going to be special and he’s definitely a lot like Maravich. May even better if he keeps it up.

3. There hasn’t been any update on Peyton Manning’s playing status, but with Jim Caldwell’s firing, it might be wise for the Colts to just blow it all up. If Manning is healthy or not, he’ll enter the 2012 season at 36 years old. Relatively old, Standford’s Andrew Luck could be the best option for the Colts to go forward even if Manning is ready to go. Manning’s future is shaky. And there might be just a season or two left in him. Now might be the best time to let him take control of his career and let the Colts turn into another direction fort another 15 years.

But where should Manning go? The Jets are an option, and to play football in the same city as his brother Eli, it might be too good to pass up. Plus, the Jets need a quarterback and Manning, if he has anything left in the tank — which I think he does — the Jets can become a serious Super Bowl favorite next year with Manning calling the plays. It would fix the Jets offense completely. But if he’s still a Super Bowl contending quarterback, why would Indy let him go?

Luck, for the three years Manning would have played, plus about 12 more additional, sound a lot better.

Other Manning destinations could include: Dallas, Seattle, Washington and a town near you.

4. I’m not really a big boxing fan. The UFC is garbage and the Tap Out/Affliction/Ed Hardy shirts need to be outsourced to Mars. But Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao need to fight at the beginning or end of May and it’s a fight you and your friends dish the cash out for. Who knows what it’ll really do for boxing. May be it’s boxing’s Phoenix, but it will finally silence the debate between Floyd and Manny, which needs to end. But the fact both fighters are talking to one another makes me think this fight will get done.

5. It might be really smart for Danny Ainge to start breaking up the Celtics, now. Sure, they lack the depth this season and that’s one of the main reasons why they’re dismal, but eventually the team has to look to the future and Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett aren’t getting younger. Plus, Chicago and Miami are just too good. If Ainge can conceivably get something worthy in return, why run Garnett and Allen’s career through its course and waste another two or three years? Ainge shouldn’t wait two or three years to rebuild, he should do it while Rajon Rondo is young. You can surround the new pieces around Jeff Green and Rondo and go from there. If they’re not going to get past Miami or Chicago, or even Philadelphia, why keep using old parts that aren’t going to work like they did in 2008? Get whatever you can for them, let Paul Pierce’s contract ride out and let it fly.

5B. Russell Westrbook’s $80 million extension is clear writing on the wall: he’s staying in OKC. A lot of people wanted to see him go to Boston in a point guard swap with Rajon Rondo because he’s not complimenting Kevin Durant correctly and that Rondo, a pass-first distributor, has better skills to help Durant and OKC. Westbrook’s been erratic at times; he’s had some issues with shot selection and leadership and toward the end of the Thunder’s playoff run in 2011, it seemed he had forgotten it was Durant’s team. Westbrook will improve. He is a star, a better overall player than Rondo and the Thunder need him in their advancement. But this closes the door on any trade talk/debate. Westbrook is the Thunder’s guy at the point. And the Thunder did the right thing by not trading him for Rajon Rondo. That young, explosive corps needs him and it won’t win a championship without him. They’ve gotten this far with him, why abandon?

5C. This weekend I have Brady and Eli winning their games for a rematch of the Super Bowl XLII. Even as strong as the Ravens defense is, nobody has been able to solve the tight end game the Patriots run with Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski. Tom Brady is due — he’s too good to not be in a Super Bowl — and the last time the Ravens were in the Super Bowl, I went into my Aunt’s basement and started a hockey game. In San Francisco, a confident 49ers team should worry any team facing them, but the Giants just beat the reigning champs on their home field. If you can beat the Packers, you can beat anybody. I haven’t been too big on the 49ers offense even with the performance against the Saints — and the Giants defensive line is purely sensational. If the Giants bring the same defense that brought down Aaron Rodgers, I can’t see San Francisco dominating on both sides and coming out of San Fran with a win.

Patriots 31, Ravens 17

Giants 21, 49ers 16

Howard Schlossberg, whatcha think?

5D. Life outside of sports:

1. Happy Birthday to my older sister, Lisa!!!! To the best older sister a guy can have! Hope the day is great!

2. Another shout out to Jessica Perez — J Pizzle — who’s back in the hospital with some complications. Kung Fu Panda, get well soon!!!! Matthew 7:7 and Psalms 41:3. I’m praying for you!!!! Get better!!!!!!!

Next blog: Chalk Talk — coming soon!

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