The 700 Club is a long-running TV magazine program featuring evangelist, Pat Robertson and always presenting news and views that align with its own brand of Christian beliefs. This program is not particularly interesting to me, but if it satisfies your viewing needs, have at it.
Here in Curmudgeon Central, there is a different “700 Club”; it is the MLB version of that label, and it has a new member as of last week. Albert Pujols is now the 4th person in MLB history to hit 700 or more home runs in his career joining Barry Bonds, Henry Aaron and Babe Ruth. Baseball has been around for 150 years or so; membership in baseball’s “700 Club” is exclusive indeed.
Moving on … The Chicago Bears are moving ahead with their plans to leave downtown Chicago and Soldier Field to take up residence in a new stadium complex in the Chicago suburb of Arlington Heights. The Bears have a purchase agreement to buy 326 acres of land including what used to be Arlington International race track. The Bears say – for now at least – that their “single focus” is on developing that parcel and moving there. The current plan calls for a new stadium that will NOT have a retractable roof but is characterized as an “enclosed structure” which implies a dome. Except the folks leading this initiative refuse to use the word “dome”.
Part of the hype for this new playpen is that the Bears’ owners would hope that the facility would be able to attract top-shelf events other than NFL regular season games such as the Super Bowl and perhaps the CFP Championship Game. You need not be a meteorologist or a climatologist to know that those two events take place in the late January/early February time frame and that Chicago is not exactly a “tourist destination” at that time of the year. That means to me there must be a dome – or a much more expensive retractable roof – on any new facility there if it going to be useful for anything other than Bears; home games from about Christmas to April Fool’s Day. So, this new venue will have to be “enclosed” even if they do not call the enclosure a dome. Whatever…
For the moment, the Bears say they are not interested in considering anything other than this new facility; there is no “Plan B”, and they are not interested in listening to “Plan B proposals” from the folks in Chicago who manage Soldier Field. Clearly, that is posturing, and such posturing is perfectly appropriate at this early stage in the planning process when approvals are needed, and some sort of governmental support or funding is essential. The Bears say they will pay to build the stadium, but they will need governments to fund the infrastructure costs for the development – – roads, sewers, utility costs and the like.
Meanwhile, back in Chicago, the current mayor, Lori Lightfoot, has proposed putting a dome on the existing Soldier Field and upgrading the facility itself. Absent from any of the highlights of that plan are where the Bears would play their home games while the renovations and dome are being constructed – – but the Bears dealt with that issue back when Soldier Field was last renovated about 20 years ago by playing their home games in Memorial Stadium at Illinois University.
Mayor Lightfoot’s proposed project would cost the City and the State about $2B and she says that even if the Bears move to Arlington Heights, her plan would be to use the renovated Soldier Field to get another NFL team in Chicago proper. Long ago, the Chicago Cardinals and the Chicago Bears shared the Chicago market; maybe that plan could work again – – if the NFL is interested in abandoning one of its other markets in favor of another “shared city arrangement”.
Let me turn now to another NFL-related issue – – the Niners’ QB situation. With Trey Lance out for the year with a broken ankle, I think the Niners’ team and coaches and braintrust have to hope for 2 things to happen:
- Jimmy Garoppolo does not get hurt such that he has to miss multiple games
- The Niners make the Super Bowl this year.
Regarding point number one above, the Niners’ QB room has 3 inhabitants as of this morning:
- Jimmy Garoppolo
- Brock Purdy
- Kurt Benkert
The Niners have a solid roster and a good defense; but it is not likely that they can withstand having both Lance and Garoppolo “on the shelf” for extended periods of time. And that brings me to point number two above:
- Garoppolo is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2022 season.
I think that is an important issue for folks in the Bay Area because Trey Lance – if I have counted correctly – has started a total of 21 football games since he graduated from high school and 17 of them were at the Division 1-AA level of play in college. Trey Lance may be the reincarnation of Division 1-AA Hall of Famer, Kurt Warner – – or Trey Lance my be the sequel to Carson Wentz whom he followed as the starting QB for North Dakota State. I am not saying that either Lance or Wentz is a failure; I am saying that neither has shown any reason to believe they are Kurt Warner who played his college football at Northern Iowa.
Let me say this again, I do not have nearly enough information to say that Trey Lance is a bust. What I can say comfortably is that the only thing he has shown to date is “potential” and the working definition of “potential” is:
- Has not yet accomplished much of anything of note.
The glib response here is that the Niners could re-sign Garoppolo in the offseason. Yes, they could; but as an unrestricted free agent, Garoppolo will sign where he wants to sign and given the way he was hung out to dry by the Niners in the last offseason, I have to wonder if he would even consider going back there with Lance still in the building. Obviously, there is a man-crush between Lance and Kyle Shanahan; if you were Garoppolo, would you want to be in the vicinity of that situation.
There are NFL teams that will be shopping for a QB come February 2023; Jimmy G is not a Hall of Fame quality talent out there on the market, but he is a guy who has shown the ability to win games in the NFL when given solid coaching and when surrounded by a competently constructed roster. I will not be surprised to hear that teams like Carolina, Seattle, Pittsburgh, New Orleans, Atlanta and Tampa put calls into Garoppolo’s agent if only to know what it might cost to bring him into their facilities. If the Niners don’t make it to the Super Bowl this year with Garoppolo, then they had damned well better have been right in trading away what they did to climb in the draft to take Trey Lance because if they were wrong, they will be a while digging out from under the fallout from that decision.
Finally, let me close today with an entry from The Official Dictionary of Sarcasm:
“Luck: An intangible series of factors that lead to a good outcome. By and large, these crazy, unpredictable fortunate circumstances are experienced by people who come from money and connections and not by poor schlubs like you. Go figure.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………