sad thoughtful catIn my college years, I became obsessed with Paul Thomas Anderson’s films. To this day, “Magnolia” remains my favorite movie of all time. The love for PTA was, in no small part, thanks to the consistently magnificent performances of Philip Seymour Hoffman. The roles were sometimes leading – “The Master” – and sometimes supporting – “Magnolia,” “Boogie Nights” – and sometimes so small you’d miss him if you blinked (and if he weren’t so damn captivating every time he was on the screen) – “Hard Eight.” Sometimes he jumped out of an otherwise spotty movie – “Punch Drunk Love” – and lived into a character so completely that you’d watch it again just to see that guy. And those are just the PTA movies!

Damn. It was incredibly tough to hear yesterday that, at age 46, Hoffman had died. He could carry the biggest lead you could throw at him – “Capote” or “Love Liza” or “Synecdoche, New York” – or he could steal the scene with the smallest, must subtle bit part – “The Big Lebowski” or “Hard Eight” – and I haven’t even mentioned “Almost Famous” or “Moneyball” or “Patch Adams” or “Doubt” or “Charlie Wilson’s War” or … it’s too much. Too many fantastic performances. I am so bummed.

  • So, the Super Bowl was something of a dud, with the Broncos blown out by the Seahawks from the word go. Near the end of the laugher, I tweeted out something that generated (to my surprise) a little controversy:

  • Watching your team dismantled on the highest stage, after coming so close to a championship, can’t possibly be fun. The closest equivalent(s) Cubs fans have in recent memory are the last night straight playoff losses, but none are quite at the level of a blowout in the Super Bowl. The pain of Games 6 and 7 in the 2003 NLCS are right there, but those weren’t piss-poor performances by the Cubs. This Broncos loss was something on another plane. So, let me ask: would you rather the Cubs didn’t make the playoffs at all in 2014, or would you want to see them make the World Series knowing full well that they would lose in four games to the Yankees by an average score of 15-0? Wouldn’t it be worth the season and the playoff ride that preceded it? Wouldn’t it be worth ending 70 years of no World Series appearances?
  • An fantasy preview for the Chicago Cubs. I don’t know much about fantasy baseball, but I’m going to assume that seeing so many Cubs players listed as worth “$1” is probably not a good thing.
  • Sam Hughes, a National Crosschecker for the Cubs, has been named the organization’s Scout of the Year. A nice plaudit for the 17-year Cubs veteran scout.
  • Jayson Stark argues that there’s actually more parity in baseball than football, despite what you might think.
  • Diehardthefirst

    We mourn Hoffman who used a needle to be able to perform at a high level and yet we ostracize ARod and others for using for the same reason? Yankees should pay ARod

    • CubFan Paul

      Sh*t Diehard says.

    • Chef Brian

      Diehard you have said some pretty asinine things over the years and I think I’m being kind as to not call your comments what they truly are, but comparing PSH to ARod takes the cake. Hoffman didn’t need drugs to excel, he simply relapsed. ARod needed drugs to be the player he was. ARod is a cheater plain and simple. Addiction is a scary, powerful thing and I would caution you from making flippant remarks, or judgements unless you have walked the same road. Brett, you pose an interesting question, all I can say is 2003 just about killed me, but if they made it to the WS to get blown out it would at least mean they were on the right path and theoretically could with some improvements go back. So I was originally against seeing a Cubs blowout but I have convinced myself to join your way of thinking. I would accept the blowout with the hope of future WS appearances.

      • Diehardthefirst

        PSH was one of my favorite actors and the news saddened me. Then I got to thinking how hypocritical MLB is by reaping in billions off the sweat of its players and yet when one calls them out he gets squashed. Studios tolerate actors habits as long as they can perform. Difference is they honor their contracts.

        • Orval Overall

          So … the studios encouraged Hoffman’s apparent hard drug habit, because it made him a better actor? Interesting theory. Proof?

          If you’re going to draw a moral from this tragic loss, why isn’t it simply “stay the f*** away from intravenous drug use.”??

          • Diehardthefirst

            And Bud didn’t encourage the Sosa McGuire contests to spark baseball? Give me a frickin break

            • Orval Overall

              Give you a break on what?!? No one in Hollywood thinks it’s a good idea for their best actors to overdose and die young. Maybe they don’t do a good job of controlling it, but then again they are not employees under multi-year contracts, they are just contracted for one movie after the other. To suggest any kind of equivalence with steroids in baseball is beyond grasping at straws.

              • Diehardthefirst

                No but they tolerate whatever actor needs to do so can perform at expected level. They are not hypocritical because they pay. ARod has good argument against hypocrisy and should be paid

        • Chef Brian

          The difference is that PSH was a great actor with or without drugs. Heroin isn’t performance enhancing. Hoffman didn’t cheat anyone but himself. ARod needed steroids to become great. He was a cheater. I understand that you are pointing out the hypocrisy of steroid use and the owners that tolerated it for monetary reasons and then when the heat was on they turned on the players. I get what you’re saying I just don’t think your PSH/Arod analogy works in this instance.

          • Norm

            No, ARod was always great, and needed the drugs to stay on the field as much as possible.

        • Edwin

          It’s true of other artistic mediums as well. Plenty of musicians have done some of their best work while on drugs or because of drugs. It’s not like the various Music HOF or the Grammy’s try to shut them out of the music world.

          • Chef Brian

            That’s debatable. I’m not saying I don’t see your point of view. With a lot of artists it might seem that way. But you are not producing anything when you are blotto drunk or passed out on heroin. I think that is a popular myth. Yeah, some drugs can heighten your awareness but come on. Comparing recreational drug use amongst musicians and the steroid cheats is a stretch. I don’t think you will find a scientific study that says heroin makes you far more productive and increases your physical or mental faculties. Though steroids is a different story…

            • Edwin

              Agreed. It’s not a perfect comparison, although I’ll point out that we don’t know exactly how much steroids helped a player like A-Rod as well.

              The drugs might not help someone be a better guitar player, or compose a better melody, but it obviously gives someone a more compelling story to listen to. Would the Red Hot Chili Peppers have been as interesting if they’d never been able to reflect on their drug use? Would a song like “Hurt” have been possible for Trent Reznor to write without having first had experiances with drug use?

              It’s not an Apples to Apples comparison, but more pointing out the fact that in many other forms of entertainment, we don’t care whether the performer uses a drug to improve their performance, we simply care about the performance. Why do we care so much more about steroids in baseball, but we don’t care about people using drugs in other things that may enhance their product or performance?

          • Cizzle

            (Not to excuse it) But with actors/musicians, it’s used to create something new, something that is theirs and no one else’s…not to compete against others.

            • Edwin

              They’re still competing with others. There’s only so much music to listen to and to spend money on, and at some point all artists are doing what they do to make a living.

              This isn’t so much about are steroids right/wrong, but more trying to ask ourselves why we tolerate drug use in some aspects of our lives/culture, but not in others.

              Maybe it’s that in art, we celebrate expanding our minds and finding new experiances and shared connections, while in sports we celebrate physical discipline and the pushing of the human body to it’s natural limit.

              • Cizzle

                Or because we have a much greater understanding of how the body works as opposed to the mind.

    • jp3

      Sad part about Hoffman was he was doing heroin instead of picking up his kids at school? I guess he could’ve been trying to trip before picking them up which is worse than leaving them there, that drug gets a grip on people and doesn’t let go.

      • Jon

        He was a brilliant actor. Who could forget his early work as “Scotty” in Boogie NIghts, or Jeff Lebowski’s personal assistant in “The Big Lebowski”

        You want to reach out to talents like this and let them know how much their work means to others and to clean themselves up.

        Why can’t crap like this happened to no talent clowns like Bieber or Cyrus?

      • farmerjon

        The mother of my kids is a heroine addict, started with pain pills after our second child. She got introduced to heroine by a “friend” in rehab. The nosedive has been very painful to witness…ugly addiction indeed.

  • chifords2000

    He didn’t use the needle to perform at a high level. He was clean for 20 years.

    • Diehardthefirst

      I hear there’s a NJ bridge Christie wants to unload. Interested?

  • Luke

    I’m with Brett on this one. I’d be pretty happy if the Cubs won the NL even if they did get blown out in the Series. I’d prefer they do blowing out in the Series, of course, but I’d still be pretty happy.

    Though, now that I think about it, I think I’d be as bummed that the Series was just 4 games as that the Cubs were getting destroyed. Game 7s are something special, and I always feel a little let down when we don’t get one.

    • itzscott

      I’m NOT with Brett at all on that one…..

      To me that would be like the ultimate tease, something I’d have a very hard time getting over and I’d be thinking to myself that this is what I waited my entire life for????

      If they had been to the WS multiple times and won it a couple times, different story…. but not the 1st post- WWII WS in Cub history!

      I’d not want to be me or anyone who knew me if that happened to the Cubs.

  • coondawg

    As a Notre Dame fan 2012 was fun and the blowout loss to Bama stung! But at least we were there. I would feel the same way about thd Cubs lets just get there and let the chips fall where they may!

    • willis

      I loved that game, made a lot income that night. Don’t ever, ever bet against the SEC in championship games. Even Auburn this year covered comfortably. SEC football is just at such a high level now that they’ll win or be in a neutral field matchup. Notre Dame had no idea what hit them and that line was only 7 that night. Easy cover.

  • Edwin

    I think it’s hard when your team makes it to the championship and gets blown out, if only because it means you have to spend X amount of hours listening to Joe Buck tell you everything he thinks is wrong with your team.

    Plus, think how bad your draft pick would be 😉

    • Luke

      Listening to Joe Buck alone would make me unhappy.

      Fortunately I’d be listening to Pat Hughes instead.

      • itzscott

        Always wondered if when Joe Buck talks to his wife or family if he has his arms cocked at right angles at the elbows, thumbs pointing up and then suddenly juts his hands forward when trying to make a point, like he does when he’s on camera?

        Kinda bazaar because Aikmen does it too now and when the two of them do color on camera they begin to look like Rock ’em Sock ’em Robots.

  • Diamondrock

    Yeah, I’d take the loss. But that’s because it baseball a championship doesn’t ride on just one game. Anyone can have a bad night, which is why we have a seven game world series. I know a lot of people prefer the one-off championship, but not me.

    • Chef Brian

      Just playing Devil’s advocate, but Brett is saying the Cubs get shutout the entire series and get swept in the WS. So we’d be watching the Cubs playing historically bad on the largest stage in baseball.

      • Luke

        Or playing quality ball against a historically good team.

        • Edwin

          But if the Cubs got shut out every game, it wouldn’t go down like that. You’d wind up with the “lack of hustle” lable, the “weren’t that good to begin with”, the “they just aren’t clutch”, or worse, “it’s the curse”.

          • half_full_beer_mug

            Technically if the Cubs were to play a WS game the curse would be broken.

  • Thiscantbegood

    Last night’s game was just pathetic. Why would any Broncos fan say “im just glad we were there”? It was absolutely terrible. Commercials and half time show was the only reason it kept my interest. Besides that the Broncos played horrible and it was the worst Super Bowl ever. Glad the Bears did not get humiliated like that. Broncos should be ashamed.

    Congratulations to the Seattle Seahawks!

    • itzscott

      Actually the Broncos played like they were just glad to be there.

      • Diehardthefirst

        Mannings passes are crisper in the higher altitude and NJ and Seattle closer in sea level .. Played a big factor also in players ability to perform

      • Thiscantbegood

        Well then congratulations to the Broncos for making it to the Super Bowl only to get destroyed. There wasnt any passion coming from the Broncos. 2 weeks to prepare for the biggest game of their lives and thats the outcome. Pretty sad.

        • ari gold

          I think the Seahawks are that good. The AFC wasn’t really that good this year and the Broncos never faced a team with that much speed. The Broncos were never going to win that game. They rival the 2001 Ravens for the best defense of all time.

          • willis

            The Seahawks defense is that good, but what they have neutralized Manning and that is speed. They were flying around the field, nothing like Denver had seen all year, and Manning’s one weakness after all he’s been through is his arm strength at this point in his career. Add that to his lack of mobility and a team with 11 dudes hawking like that will get it done every time against him. They sent that message early and Denver was clearly rattled the rest of the way.

  • BD

    If they are going to lose (not just begin destroyed, but lose the series at all), I don’t even want them to make it. I wouldn’t be able to take it…

  • DrReiCow

    I would DEFINITELY take the World Series loss. Cubs haven’t been there since a little over a month after VJ-Day! I’d love to see us make it, even if the hope would be little that we’d win. Just to feel that excitement.


  • AlbDaKID

    2ND Place.. 1st place loser!

    • Justen

      Better than finishing 32nd and being the 31st place loser.

    • Luke

      Not in baseball.

      I still think winning the league counts. Winning the World Series is a very nice bonus, but I’d have a hard time labeling any league pennant winner a loser.

  • Diggs

    I think it would be easier to take a World Series sweep than a Super Bowl dud. With the World Series, there’d at least be four games played, so you can tip your cap to the better team. A one-and-done game would sting more.

  • Blackhawks1963

    The Super Bowl was terrible. I turned off everything…pre game, half time, even the commercials…and watched 75% of the game overall. Rooting for Seattle, as my 75 year old mother moved out to the Pacific Northwest a couple decades ago and is a season ticket holder (she’s one of the 12th man crowd !!). Wanted to root also for Peyton Manning, but jeesh.

    Awful game. The spectacle of the game has become ridiculous. I’ll alway be a fan of how it used to be in the 70’s and early 80’s, where it was actually about the football game instead of a three ring circus.

    My 14 year daughter did say Bruno Mars nailed it. So there’s that.

    • Drew7

      “I’ll always be a fan of how it used to be in the 70’s and early 80’s…”

      No way – I would *never* have pegged you to be a fan of the Good Ol’ Days.

  • MichaelD

    The one area that NFL has over MLB is in the ability to turn around a team faster. At this point I might be able to point to a couple of teams that have no chance for 2014, but I would be hard pressed to try and point one out to write off for 2015. Every team has a chance in 2016. Meanwhile in baseball if you were an Astros fan in 2012, you would have been looking at writing off the next four seasons at least.

    • Brocktoon

      I feel pretty comfortable writing off the Browns for 2015.

  • Forlines

    Can I just say, that being both a Raiders AND Cubs Fan, this year has been pretty special to me. First, I think the Cardinals are going to win the WS, and it doesn’t happen. THEN, my least favorite team in all of professional sports, the Denver Donkeys go to the SB, and i’m thinking that they’ll tear the Seahawks to bits, which would be disgusting and painful. I was wrong on both counts, and I couldn’t be more happy.

    To answer your question, it’s not across the board, but for the Cubs at least, i’d take a complete dismantling in the WS, just to say we finally made it. I wouldn’t be too upset if it happened to the Lakers as well, again, just to say we made it. But for football, I don’t know if I can say the same. The Bucs destroying us in 03′ is still one of the most painful sports losses I can remember, until later that year of course…

  • J-Nasty

    I remember Phillip Seymour Hoffman best for his role in “Along Came Polly” when he and Ben Stiller had to leave a party because he sharted. I still use the term shart, just because it pisses my wife off when I use it.

  • Orval Overall

    Brett, in answer to your question:

    It would be awful to reach the W.S. and lose. I would be tolerant of it if they reached the W.S. with a young team built around a core that could be kept together for multiple additional runs. The problem for the Broncos is they have this incredibly small window in which Manning is still effective, his receivers are mostly still on their rookie contracts, and they have just enough of a defense and running game to win. They are not going to get 3 or 4 more shots at this thing. They might have a shot at getting back next year, but history is not on their side, and the clock is ticking. So that parallel frightens me.

    But if it was more like the Braves in 1991, I think I could console myself with the promise that the team would be back in the hunt several more times, and would now be even stronger for having had World Series experience.

  • Jon

    I wasn’t expecting that PSH and ARod dialog this morning, well done DieHard!

  • mjhurdle

    I would be ok if the Cubs made the World Series and lost a somewhat competitive series. I would be able to take solace in the fact that the Cubs made the World Series if they looked like they belonged.
    But I would rather the Cubs not get there if the choice was to either not go, or go and get embarrassed as badly as the Broncos did last night. The Broncos looked like they forgot to get off the bus, or maybe they just grabbed some fans out of the stands to fill in for some of their players (never seen Bailey so exposed in coverage before).
    If the baseball equivalent of last night happened to the Cubs, the media would grab it and we would see replay after replay after breakdown after “cursed” after replay for years and years (until the Cubs finally win one).
    If the Cubs get to the WS and are competitive, the narrative will be “they are getting close” with an undercurrent of “cursed”.
    If the Cubs make it and get blown out, the whole “100+ years/cursed team” would go on and on, and im not sure I am ready for that nauseating level of media hype.

  • billybuck

    While I would be bummed by the loss (someone want to ask Colorado what it was like to have a magical run end in a four game sweep by the Red Sox in 2008), to be able to see the Cubs IN the WORLD SERIES is not something I would ever decline.

  • Big Daddy

    I am a high school coach. We have won 8 state championships in my time and have been runners-up 9 times. I am proud of all of those appearances as they show success. However, I can tell you that losing those games takes a toll on you. I have never been on this big of a stage, but getting there and losing is very hard. You question every move you made and blame yourself. I will say though that I wouldn’t trade one of those trips to the championship for anything. Go Cubs Go!!!

  • GoCubsGo

    I would take the World Series loss for sure. Why wouldn’t you? It would hurt like all hell when they lost, but you know what wouldn’t hurt? Clinching the playoffs, the NLDS win, the NLCS win, the parties, everyone talking about the Cubs etc.

    One of my greatest sports memories ever is Devin Hester returning the opening kick-off of the Superbowl. They lost, but that moment was still amazing.

  • Ballgame17

    If I had to choose between making it to the WS and losing Game 7 of the NLCS, I’d definitely choose losing in a hard-fought NLCS, opposed to getting Sh*t-kicked like the Broncos did. Hands down, the most boring Super Bowl I’ve ever seen. Just terrible and man, there’s some AWFUL commercials. Who the hell signs off on these? Just terrible. A few didn’t show their product for almost 60 seconds. Spending $4 million to NOT show your product/service. Not sure which was worse, a commercial that started “There’s nothing more American then America” (WTF?!?!), Joe Namath’s fur coat OR the fact he botched the coin flip cause he was seeing in 7’s….

    • GoCubsGo

      Commercials being terrible was the biggest upset last night.

      Although, Tim Tebow without a contract was phenomenal. Never expected him to make something I actually wanted to watch again.

  • Diehardthefirst

    All I am saying is ARod deserves to be paid even if suspended. What is so hard to grasp? Yankees have scapegoated him to afford Tanaka.

  • http://BN Sacko

    There appears to be enough evidence that ARod was using and if there might be a comparison to Hoffman ARod also had an or has a similar addiction when one looks at the denial, angry behavior and desperation, the man at least sounds sick along with a emotional sickness that may haunt him the rest of his life..from his own decision to start with and continued to use to be better better better even under close scrutiny he still chanced it. Thats beyond stupid it’s sick.

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  • FortyFour

    I think it depends on the type of team the Cubs have at the time they enter the World Series. A young team that can learn from the experience before making it all the way sounds great to me. Think Atlanta in the early 90’s or returning to the football anology, the Bears’ lost the NFC Championship game after the 1984 season and dominated the next post-season. The Cubs should be a very young team when they begin to reach the post-season and we are going through these tough years with the expectation that the team will have multiple years in the playoffs. The goal remains nothing short of a World Series victory and if appearing in one and losing helps make that eventually happen so be it.

  • NorthSideIrish

    I would absolutely take the WS appearance even if it came with the shutout. For one thing, it would be a sign that the rebuild worked and we suffered through it to get some playoff wins. Second, it would make the Cubs a much more attractive destination to free agents which would hopefully allow them to build on the success. And finally, it would give ownership the reason to release more funds to spend on the team knowing they were close.

  • Northside Matt

    “Close doesn’t count in baseball. Close only counts in horseshoes and grenades.” – Frank Robinson

  • MightyBear

    The Jayson Stark article is pure horseshit.

    • mjhurdle

      I actually enjoy Stark’s yearly articles.
      He obviously tries to come at it from a pro-MLB slant, but i agree with the greater point about how the NFL gets labeled as having more parity when it is actually a lot closer.
      I lean more to the way of thinking that you make the playoffs, and then anything can happen (see 2006 Cardinals). So to me, the interesting thing is how many MLB teams have made the playoffs vs how many NFL teams did.
      It is a good debate, because i think it is a lot closer than most people realize.

  • Ivy Walls

    Living here in orange clad land, Bronco fans are shell shocked, like the NE Patriot fans back in ’86, that said this actually is good for the Cubs in that it puts inordinate pressure on Seattle Mariners to continue “winning now” matra as the GM’s gig is up next year and he signed $240M plus has a couple TOR pitchers. They need another pitcher and they could come calling to Chicago and be willing to part with two Top prospect pitchers