Moving again.

I'm sure all of you moved over with us when we ditched the Sports Desk Speaks blogspot site and went with the less confusing bigdeadsidebar.blogspot.com.

Now, we can drop the blogspot part.

We've moved, again.  This time it's probably for good.  We've joined the RantSports.com network of blogs and we're glad to be their newest addition.

What we will do there is exactly what we did here.  But this time with more advertising and without the blogspot.com ending.

As the blogs co-founder, editor and primary contributor, I would like to thank you for the time you've spent here at this blog and encourage you to join us at our new home.  Waiting there for you will be some new blogs and all of your old favorites.

The staff will join us and so will new features.

Can't wait to see you there.  Thanks for the support once again.


The Big Dead Sidebar - Final Edition

(Note: Yes we noticed the misspelling in our header.  Not a good start but surely that will get fixed.)

Goodbye, Old Friend

Saying good bye is supposed to be hard to do.  However, it isn't hard to do when you've got a brand spankin' new site.

I would like to thank everyone for everything.  I want to thank readers for reading, commenting on our blogs and telling their friends.  That's really how this site got as big as it did -- even though at times I wish it were bigger -- I appreciate the fan base we already have.

With that said, I am hoping you follow us to the new site, which is a vast improvement over whatever this was.  You'll like it.  I promise.  All your favorite bloggers will be there.  Including yours truly.

Please come on down.  We're awaiting your presence.


THE NEW BIG DEAD SIDEBAR

Baseball, Replays & Apologies

There is a part of me that wants to apologize for a lack of recent posting despite some crazy things that are going on in our sports world.  But there are just times that the real world gives us more than we can handle and we can't serve you -- our loyal readers.  Heck, our memory is so shot, we forgot Oliver Perez went to Pittsburgh with Jason Bay.  (Our minds are fried.)

So, until everything is straightened out across the board, posts will be sporadic.

However, I did want to knock out a quickie about baseball's instant replay ... or lack of it.

There has been widespread outrage and plenty of head shaking going on since the recent announcement that Bud Selig was going to turn a blind eye to common sense and ignore the request of players, umps and fans and stick with the archaic method of officiating.

Is Selig foolish for doing this?  Yes.  Will this continue to be an issue as time goes on?  Yes.  Will change come soon?  No.

Let's be real folks.  Bud Selig isn't going to change anything until Major League Baseball starts hemorrhaging money.  Then Bud will begrudgingly tweak the replay rules to make it seem as if he did something.  I can almost guarantee the next thing Selig does with instant replay will be too little, too late.

You want to see replay in the MLB sooner rather than later?  Then you better pray to your little hearts content for one (or all three) of these scenarios:
  1. Lack of replay screws Yankees.
  2. Lack of replay screws Red Sox
  3. Lack of replay screws Cardinals.
If Joe Mauer had his double called foul while wearing Yankee pinstripes, there would have been instant replay in place for the next game of the series.  Had it been Boston having to play a four out defensive frame because of a third-base umpire's inability to see a play that is unfolding within arm's reach in front of him, there would have been a Congressional hearing.  And don't even dare fathom what would happen if a call went against The Best Fans In Baseball, your head might start to spin.

That's just how it is.  And it's not just baseball -- so get that thought out of your head.

Defenders getting too physical with M. Jeff?  Here comes the "hand-check" rule.  Tom Brady gets a boo-boo, now you can't tackle him.  Major changes happen when major money-makers are involved.

As for other things on our docket:
  • We won't be overly mad if the Cubs can't find a taker for Crazy Uncle Milton right away.  Jim Hendry screwed himself once by signing him, twice by signing him to a three-year deal and thrice by going public with a suspension that killed what remaining tradeability he had entering the offseason
  • We also won't get too caught up in Hot Stove stuff.  Is the idea of Roy Halladay headlining the Cubs rotation?  Yes.  Is it worth writing two dozen posts on?  No.  I refuse to treat this situation like the Jake Peavy Saga or the Brian Roberts Hostage Crisis.  (So, how long until reports break about some fan seeing Roy Halladay singing "Go Cubs Go" at a Toronto bar?)
  • Brad Miller got hosed, and I'm not saying that because I'm a Bulls fan.  I'm saying that because there was not inconclusive evidence to overturn the call.  Isn't that what you need as an official?  Had they called it no good in the first place, then upheld the decision upon further review, I would have been fine with it.  And for the NBA to say its officials were right.  Ha.  Did you think they were going to side against them?  (No, our officials sucked on that one.  Our bad.  We'll try to find better ones when they're out of prison available.)

Remember What I Wrote About Mike Cameron? Scratch That.

For those of you whose memories flee like a talented Cuban pitcher, here's a reminder.

1. Mike Cameron, CF.  There was once a time where Cameron was among the best center fielders in baseball.  The three-time Gold Glove winner was always spectacular in the field, making routine plays and making difficult plays look routine.  At the plate, he was serviceable at best, but was usually a threat on the base paths. Cameron has three 30-steal seasons and five more years of at least 22 swipes under his belt.


Unfortunately, at age 36, those days are behind Cameron.  Yes, he still has some pop in his bat (24 home runs, .795 OPS) but I'm not quite sure that He's hit at least 20 HRs in each of the last four seasons.

Yeah.  Um, can we pretend that never happened?  Good.  Now that we've gotten that out of the way, I'll use this as a place where I will vehemently argue against bringing on Marlon Byrd.

Marlon Byrd should not be patrolling center field at Wrigley Field unless he is on an opposing team.  In 2003, Byrd finished fourth in the NL Rookie of the Year voting as he posted a .303/.366/.418/.784 line.  He would then procede to fall off the face of the earth from 2004-2007 where his slash stats got ugly.  We're talking a three year average of .225/.309/.349/.658.  Then he went to Texas and got hot (no homo) posting a .295/.352/.468/.820 line in his three years with the Rangers.

And after previous attempts to acquire Byrd in the past have failed, it looks like GM Jim Hendry is lookingo to make Byrd his new Bradley.

And everyone knows Hendry always gets his man.  It makes me wish CC Sabathia was his man last year, or that Carlos Beltran was his man a few winters ago.

With that said, Mike Cameron needs to be Jim Hendry's "man" to a certain extent this offseason.  It's not because of the .795 OPS he posted last year or the 70 home runs he has hit over the last three years.

It's because of his defense, stupid.

Remember when the Cubs couldn't compete on the road against the Rockies, Padres and Diamondbacks?  Manager Lou Piniella said it was because the Cubs didn't have the speedy outfielders that could go get balls hit in the gaps.  Kosuke Fukudome could not get those balls.  Neither could Crazy Uncle Milton.  I don't expect the rotund Byrd to be able to get them either.

Two of the Cubs' biggest problems in 2009 were the lack of team speed and the lack of team defense.  With Alfonso Soriano in left field and Fukudome in right, there's a gaping hole in center.  A hole big enough to drive a mack truck through.

If the Cubs are not going to get better on the offensive side of the equation, they need to do whatever they can on the defensive end.

That means saying no to Byrd, while biting the bullet for Cameron.

Chris Lowery Gettin' Interactive

Once upon a time, SIU men's basketball coach Chris Lowery was apprehensive about Twitter, to say the least.  In an interview before I went mainstream, Lowery said he was unsure about Twitter because he hadn't looked much into it.  He knew its pros and cons, but was unsure whether or not he would add the social networking tool.

Now, it seems as if you can't get the guy off the thing.

Lowery's latest trips into the Twitterverse ask Saluki fans several questions.

  • Saluki fans- what is your most memorable moment at SIU Arena? from web 
  • Saluki fans- who should start in the home opener? from web  
  • Saluki fans- who has been your favorite player through the exhibition games? from web

Some have brought it to the attention of TBDS, asking whether or not a man making $750,000 a year should be asking his followers to do his job for him.  Those people, in my humble opinion, really must be looking for straws to pick in regard to Lowery's coaching ability.

He's frowned upon when he looks like a big meanie.  He loosens up, and he still gets ridiculed.  We've played two exhibition games and people ask these stupid questions.

Now, I know some of them were made in jest.  Still, what does it hurt for the coach to ask his fans who they would like in the starting five on opening night?  It hurts nothing.  Except maybe your fingers if you type too quickly.

Oh, and for what it's worth, here would be my starting five after two preseason games.
  1. Dillard
  2. T. Freeman
  3. Bocot
  4. Fay
  5. Evans
That's right, Nick Evans' play has put him in my projected starting five.  In 44 minutes of play, Evans has scored 19 points, 13 rebounds and is shooting 8 of 16 from the field.  Booker has struggled.  He's hit only two of his eight field goal attempts in and grabbed three rebounds in his 29 minutes of playing time.  I'm sure hurting his head in Saturday's win against Southern Indiana compounded matters, as well.

It wouldn't surprise me to see Evans in the starting line-up on Saturday night.  He certainly has earned it through the exhibition season.


And while I have the forum, I might as well answer Coach Lowery's other questions.


Favorite Player Through Preseason: Kendal Brown-Surles.


It's almost a shame that Brown-Surles didn't come in as hyped as the previous class of Saluki freshmen, because he is equally as talented.  Through two exhibition games, KBS seems to fit the mold of your prototypical Southern guard.  He values the ball on offense (4 assists, 1 turnover in 36 minutes) and pressures it on defense (8 steals).  He's not quick ... he's just flat-out fast.


Everyone knows that I hate making projections after exhibition games, especially when it comes to college kids.  (Some of you will remember the pre-TBDS days when I proclaimed Matt Shaw as MVC POY, Carlton Fay FOY and Randal Falker Sixth Man of the Year after a Saluki game -- albeit tongue in cheek.)  But there is no discounting the effort Brown-Surles puts on the floor.  You can see it in the way he plays.  And the fact of the matter is, effort always translates no matter who you play.


Favorite SIU Arena Moment:  Oh, so many to choose from.


And since there are several, I'll pick my top three-and-a-half.

1.  My 1st Creighton Game.  As a freshman, I attended every home game while school was in session, but my first Dawg Pound experience was the Creighton game.


I remember the weekend very well.  Valentine's Day was around the corner and my roommate had decided that trying to make a girl that was six hours away his girlfriend was more important than the Valley's most intense rivalry.  (Note: maybe that's why I'm still single -- no I don't regret my decisions.)  Anyway, I yelled, screamed and heckled as the Maroon & White defeated the evil Creighton Swallows Bluejays.  And in the end, I ate the chocolate covered strawberries my roommie had made for his potential lover, but had left behind.


Epic win?


2.  My Last Creighton Game (as a fan).  Who can ever forget the ESPN GameDay game?  That whole day was an experience.  Again, that was during the pre-TBDS days.  The 48-44 win for SIU yielded plenty of highlights.  Including the now-infamous picture with Erin Andrews, who complimented my sign, autographed it and then posed for a picture.

We won't ever speak of the day in which the last time I saw SIU and Creighton square off at the SIU Arena.  Worst.  Day.  Ever.  On more than one account.



3.  "The Media Pick-up Game."  It is a day that still stands as one of my favorite moments as a Saluki beat writer.  Southern had an extended film session, pushing back the start of practice.  Rather than leave and return for interviews, media members were allowed to pick up a ball and have a brief shoot around before the players and coaching staff took the floor.


We took advantage of the opportunity, of course.  So, it was Southern Illinoisan beat writer Todd Hefferman, a pair of TV guys whose names I always seem to forget.  Oh, and Phil Oskilanec -- now at ESPN Radio -- was there too. 


We shot freely.  Then we attempted to do the Giant City Chicken game. (Lay up, free throw, 3 pointer in 30 seconds) and i was the only one to not make his three. (FAIL, I know).  But what I will claim is that in our game of 21, yours truly scored a few buckets, none more clutch than his drive to the lane while being fouled by Todd.  Of course, you don't call fouls in 21, but he got me across the arm pretty good.  He won't admit it, but I wouldn't expect him to.  He's followed Saluki basketball long enough to know it's not a foul unless there's blood or until the refs blow the whistle -- whichever comes first.



I hope answering these questions was helpful to Coach Lowery.  Maybe I'll forward him this blog post.  Or maybe someone can do it for me.

Hot Stove Tease: Roy Halladay

Two years ago, it was second baseman Brian Roberts.  Last year, it was Jake Peavy.  This year it will be Roy Halladay.

But unlike the last two offseasons, count me out of the Hot Stove's hottest topic.  Over the summer, Roy Halladay received more interest on the open market than a well-developed teenager at a R. Kelly concert.  The rumor mill will rotate more quickly this winter as there will be more teams interested that will not be battling stringent demands and a deadline at the same time.

Let's thank the Daily Herald prematurely for crushing our souls with the latest tease:

One interesting scenario has new Toronto Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos indicating he'd be open to trading ace pitcher Roy Halladay, who becomes a free agent next fall after he's scheduled to make $15.75 million in 2010. 

Halladay has a no-trade clause in his contract, but he's said he'd like to play for a contender, and the Cubs seem closer to getting back to the playoffs than do the Blue Jays. To get Halladay, the Cubs must move money.
Could Hendry package Bradley and prospects for Halladay? Bradley could thrive in the relatively quiet environs of Toronto, and Halladay would provide an instant jolt to the Cubs' rotation.


Cubs fans, you'll be let down this offseason when Roy Halladay is pitching in Toronto and Milton Bradley is starting in right field.  I won't be, for I have begun to prepared for the worse.

Some suggest Ted Lilly to be back in April after his offseason surgeryl, but recent history suggests if Prior Wood Lilly returns at all, it will be sometime in August.  So, I have prepared for 20 Tom Gorzelanny starts.  And thanks to the folks at HJE, I'll do so without getting alcohol poisoning.

As for Bradley, don't come crying to me if he enters spring training with the team.  Thanks to Jim Hendry's thoughtless season-ending suspension, teams should have no inspiration to acquire a malcontent coming off his healthiest, yet, least productive season.

Do I expect the Cubs to make changes in 2010?  Yes.  They have a new owner who is bringing a fresh philosophy to the table.  And even though Hendry is the GM that brought Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez through the trade market, he's also the same guy who bid against himself for Bradley and Aaron Miles while trading a once untouchable commodity that will be under team control for years to come for one shitty year of Kevin Gregg.

In Hendry I trust?  No.  In a real GM, I lust.

Ten Guys The Chicago Cubs Should Avoid Like The Swine Flu

Baseball's winter meetings kicked off today in Chicago, meaning after Jim Hendry guzzles a dozen donuts this morning, he won't have too far to go to meet with someone who will gladly take Milton Bradley off his glaze-covered hands.

In the Hot Stove League, it is easy to write about who you want on your team.  But it takes a real keen eye to identify the guys you don't want around.  Over the past few years, Hendry has identified those guys ... and proceded to sign those guys on the Cubs.

Here are the guys he should avoid like the plague swine flu.


1. Mike Cameron, CF.  There was once a time where Cameron was among the best center fielders in baseball.  The three-time Gold Glove winner was always spectacular in the field, making routine plays and making difficult plays look routine.  At the plate, he was serviceable at best, but was usually a threat on the base paths. Cameron has three 30-steal seasons and five more years of at least 22 swipes under his belt.

Unfortunately, at age 36, those days are behind Cameron.  Yes, he still has some pop in his bat (24 home runs, .795 OPS) but I'm not quite sure that He's hit at least 20 HRs in each of the last four seasons.

2. Rick Ankiel.  This is what I said at the A League Of Her Own blog about this season's scariest players on the open market.

"I fear signing Rick Ankiel. Lefty hitter. Power at times. Knows the division. Plays all 3 OF spots. Sounds like a Jim Hendry signing to me."

I still feel that way today.  Ankiel had a breakout season in 2008, hitting 25 home runs and driving in 71.  His production took a dip in 2009 as he hit only 11 home runs and had 38 RBIs in 404 plate appearances.  Funny how this turns out.  Ankiel had 11 homers and 39 ribbies in 190 plate appearances in 2007.  If that's not a red flag, I don't know what is.  Oh yeah, that whole HGH thing Cardinals fans always seemingly forget about when it comes to their own players.

But BOOOOOOOO Manny Ramirez!

3. Brett Myers, SP/RP.  One could argue that Myers hit a pinnacle in 2007 when he saved his season, and possibly career, by moving into the bullpen.  Myers racked up 64 strikeouts in a little more than 53 innings pitched with a 1.200 WHIP, 2.87 earned run average and 21 saves.  On the other hand, one could argue that his biggest hit came on a woman.

Myers wants to be a starter, a role in which he has struggled with in a hitters haven such as Philadelphia.  Doesn't sound like someone you want to throw into the pressure cooker on Addison and Clark.

4. Mark DeRosa, 1B/2B/3B/OF.  I made my argument here for why the Cubs shouldn't bring DeRo Your Hero back to Chicago.  And if you want to bring in a guy who will be 35 next year and is coming off a season in which he posted a .250/.319/.433/.752 slash line on a multi-year, multi-million dollar deal then you should probably get your priorities in line.

5. Gary Matthews Jr., OF  Over the last three years, Gary Matthews Jr. has posted a .248/.326/.379/.705 slash line.  In that same time span, Milton Bradley has posted  a .294/.405/.501/.906 slash line.  If you would trade Milton Bradley for Gary Matthews Jr., you are clinically insane.

6. Doug Davis, SP.  I've heard plenty of Cubs fans who want Doug Davis on the 2010 Cubs to fill the role of inning-eating, back-of-the-rotation guy.  But really, I think Cubs fans want him because he has tortured the Cubs (9-6, 3.20 ERA, 1.159 WHIP) throughout his mediocre career.

The only team Davis has more wins and a lower ERA against is San Diego.  Think about that.

7. Oliver Perez, P  Can you believe the Pirates acquired this guy in exchange for with Jason Bay? (Ed. My bad.) I still want no part of this guy being on the 2010 Cubs.

8. Carlos Silva, P.  Do you want to know why the Seattle Mariners are a bad baseball team?  Because they gave this scrub a four-year deal worth $48 million.  No thanks.

9. Willy Taveras, OF.  A possible non-tender candidate, Taveras is fast.  His $4 million option will likely be declined.  Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown could spend $4 million on blow and I would still think it is a wiser investment than giving it to Willy-T. (possible non-tender)

10. Eric Byrnes, OF.  Total douchebag, which is cool if you're into that thing.  I'm not.  Two years ago, Byrnes hit .286/.353/.460/.813 with 21 home runs and 50 stolen bases.  Two years ago, George W. Bush was our president.  Sometimes things change.  Shit happens.

Honorable Mentions: Magglio Ordonez, Carlos Guillen, Vernon Wells, Aaron Rowand.

Pigskin Pimpin On A Sunday Night: Bears, Salukis & Much More

Your favorite football feature that is chock-full of cheerleaders is back.

Site News: Stripped

This is going to be short, sweet and a pain in the behind.
  1. We're trying to make TBDS look like a legitimate site, not just something two idiots put together over night.
  2. So we've enlisted the help of some friends of the program to make this site not suck.
  3. In the middle of rebuilding, said friends of the program got busy and had to leave.
  4. And as smart as I can be, like Jerry Angelo, whenever I answer one problem, 10 others show up.
So, in older posts, you should click on the post title to read the entire thing.  Until then, no more "read more" tag.  We'll hopefully not have something that doesn't completely suck by the end of the week.  And by the end of the week, I mean I have no idea if and/or when this will get done.

Bear with us as we try to make the blogosphere a better place.  Until then, I hope you enjoy the picture of Mariah Carey.

Mariah Carey at PRECIOUS Premiere in Hollywood presented by AFI Fest

The Weekender

The Weekender is a blog with links to things you should read while spending time at your computer over the weekend while I'm spending time away from it.  Must read links after the jump.  Oh, and pretty girls, too.