If you’ve let Bleacher Nation Bears slip by you this long, you’re missing out on a great team and season. As of today, the Bears are in first place of the NFC North, have the fifth best point differential in the NFL, a 70% shot at making the postseason, a 50% shot at winning their division, and just a really fun team in general.
And the best part is how much it all reminds me of the 2015 Cubs: The Bears have new head coach who cleverly thinks and schemes outside the box, while embracing having fun (including post-win dance parties) above all else … just like Joe Maddon. They rely on their recent second-overall pick in the draft, Mitch Trubisky, to lead the offense … just like Kris Bryant. A big trade for Khalil Mack impacted their season more than they could know and just before it started … like Dexter Fowler. And a big free agent signing of wide receiver Allen Robinson helped bring some legitimacy to an otherwise young and inexperienced team … just like Jon Lester.
The 2018 Chicago Bears aren’t the best team in the NFL, but they thrive as the underdog and are proving a heck of a lot right now. They have a game with huge playoff implications against their biggest division competitors, the Vikings, this Sunday night. Head over to Bleacher Nation Bears and catch up.
- Yesterday, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America announced the winners of the 2018 AL and NL Rookie of the Year awards and there were no surprises: Shohei Ohtani and Ronald Acuña Jr.
- The former may not have made it healthily through his first double-duty season, but he slashed .285/.361/.564 (152 wRC+) with 22 homers in just 367 plate appearances while also adding 51.2 innings over 10 starts with a 3.31 ERA. He was every bit as impressive and dominant on both sides of the ball as marketed, he just hurt the dang elbow. I regret very much the Cubs couldn’t persuade him to come to Chicago and cannot wait to see how the rest of his career goes. Acuña, meanwhile, also lived up to the hype, slashing .293/.366/.552 (143 wRC+) with 26 homers in 111 games. He’s got a bright future ahead of him, and it should be fun to follow, as well.
- Just over a year ago, the Mariners hired Dr. Lorena Martin to be the team’s director of high performance, a position created to help improve the team’s commitment to training, injury prevention, etc. After just one year, however, Martin was fired and things have gotten ugly. In a recent Instagram post, Martin levied some pretty serious allegations of prejudice and racism against Latin players by GM Jerry Dipoto, Manager Scott Servais, and director of player development Andy McKay. The team has denied those allegations:
Our statement regarding Dr. Lorena Martin. pic.twitter.com/5RV4AuKxTE
— Seattle Mariners (@Mariners) November 13, 2018
— Seattle Mariners (@Mariners) November 13, 2018
- Check out the additional detail in her stories shared at the News Tribune. Martin says she was called a “Cocky Latina,” and not in an endearing way (if that exists), was told she couldn’t go place because she was a woman, and listened to the most important organizational people call Dominican Players lazy, stupid, and incapable of being catchers/managers because of that “fact.” In one of the wildest stories, Martin claims Dipoto repeatedly punched a whiteboard when she asserted that the mental skills department was supposed to be under her oversight: “Just this really aggressive behavior to intimidate me,” Martin said. “And he says, ‘This is bull(expletive). You keep getting after Andy.’ I said it had nothing to do with Andy, it’s just in my contract.’ And he kept punching the wall in the office, like big time.” Pretty ugly stuff.
- Unsurprisingly, Jacob deGrom is experiencing some unwanted confusion after his agent, Brodie Van Wagenen, left that position to become the Mets GM. deGrom doesn’t seem particularly angry about it, but there are some obvious conflicts of interest. As of today, deGrom doesn’t actually know who his new agent is, Van Wagenen isn’t allowed to working against deGrom in arbitration, and just a few months ago, Van Wagenen pushed the Mets to either trade or extend deGrom …. Watching this play out is going to be very odd.
- You’ll have a lot of fun perusing Cliff Corcoran’s ranking of the greatest under-28 free agents of all time. With Manny Machado and Bryce Harper both available this winter, it was the perfect time for such a project and the results are great, even if they’re surprising. For example, Harper actually ranks 11th out of the 13 total players ranked. Greg Maddux checks in at #9 (sigh), and Manny Machado is actually ranked 3rd overall. But don’t let that confuse you. Jason Heyward is ranked fourth by these standards, which is correct … but also sad, given how it played out for the Cubs. Free agency. It can be a bummer (but the Cubs should still totally sign Harper or Machado, kthanksbye).
- Craig Edwards tries to put a dollar value on prospects *outside* the top 100.
- Today in “Stuff that will make you go ‘Huh. Well how about that?'” I present the following:
Run Value by Plate Location – Swing v Take
(Pitches 2 to 3 feet off the ground)
The uninteresting (*) result is that the take/swing equilibrium point is pretty much exactly at the edge of the strike zone.
(*) Or extremely interesting depending on your glass pic.twitter.com/F7CA3AU1Bf
— Tangotiger (@tangotiger) November 12, 2018
- I think that’s interesting, but also maybe it’s not? It pretty much confirms, strongly, what you already would have expected to be true, but that can be interesting, right!?
- This, on the other hand, has my full attention:
Since Jason was man enough to bring out the hot take, let me throw some grease on the fire: Downhill plane is a load of horseshit and if anything is probably negatively correlated with success. https://t.co/8PflpUilnH
— Kyle Boddy (@drivelinebases) November 12, 2018
- This is an excellent thread revealing a potential competitive advantage for short pitchers who generate a lot of spin: “A college coach who has been on the launch angle train for years (who also produces tons of pros / big leaguers) told me that short, ‘uphill’ arms who throw at the top of the zone with high spin kill his hitters.” There’s so much more we have to learn about this game. I can’t wait.
- Heh, cool: Daisuke Matsuzkaka – remember him? – won the NPB Comeback Player of the Year award as a 37-year-old. He went 6-4 with a 3.74 ERA in 11 starts and made the All-Star game in the process.
- Derek Jeter, still a monster:
The Marlins will use the space in CF from the recently departed "Homer" statue to build a new three-tier social space, called the Center Field Zone, as well as paint the outfield wall from bright green to blue, and redesign the batter's eye. More details to come in SBD. pic.twitter.com/ICt5JEIs8t
— Eric Fisher (@EricFisherSBJ) November 13, 2018
- They took one of the most creative, unique things in baseball – the crazy home run sculpture – and replaced it with a cash-grabbing, completely uninspired (did you call that the “Center Field Zone”) seating section. COOL. What an improvement for your fans.
- Some people just have a little Javy in them:
normal play normal play normal play HOLY CRAP pic.twitter.com/RFqQkdT5gc
— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) November 12, 2018