Bullish on The Bears in 2018.

If you’re looking for a team that could come out of nowhere to compete THIS season for the Super Bowl, then look no further than the Chicago Bears. The Bears have the formula for a sleep team in 2018 if I’ve ever seen one. Am I saying they are a lock to win the Super Bowl? No. What I’m saying is this is a team with a garbage record last year that nobody outside of Chicago expects to compete and compete they will.

I am historically a pessimistic Bears fan and with good reason, you need a Quarterback to win in the NFL and the Bears have only been teased by great quarterback play. The Bears made a Superbowl with Rex Grossman and a Conference Championship with Jay Cutler, but c’mon man, that ain’t gonna do it. The Bears historically like to confound the situation by not hiring offensive-minded coaches, see Lovie Smith and John Fox.

What is different this year is that Chicago has a talented young QB in Mitch Trubisky and an offensive-minded head coach Matt Nagy. They also added Harry Heistand the best offensive line coach in all of college football to protect their developing QB. Trubisky had a very pedestrian rookie season but Bears had no weapons outside of Tarik Cohen for him to pass too. The skill positions in Chicago were historically bad outside of RB in 2017. In 2018 they will be vastly improved, the Bears made several savvy signings and drafted a potential stud WR in Anthony Miller from University of Memphis.

New Weapons for Trubisky:

Allen Robinson signed from Jax.

Trey Burton signed from Philly.

Taylor Gabriel signed from Atlanta.

Anthony Miller drafted 51st overall.

As the Offense develops the Defense will try to build on last season’s success. The Bears may have had a terrible record last season but they did not have a terrible defense, they just couldn’t score. The Bears may have fired head coach John Fox but they retained Vic Fangio to continue to coordinate the Defense. They then spent the #8 pick in the draft on one of the best college football players I saw last season in Roquan Smith. Smith could have an immediate impact on an already good defense. If he can be the next-gen superstar linebacker that Chicago Football is built on, then an already good defense can become something great. Questions about the consistency of the pass rush remain, and a very good secondary are not very deep, but this is still a solid unit. The kind of unit that can help win a Super Bowl if the Offense can hold up its end of the bargain.

My last and most important piece of evidence is the Mitch Trubisky Tarot Reading that I did before last season, in which the cards foretold that Mitch has Star potential as long as he can ignore the outside media. That’s just fate, and you don’t fuck with fate dude.

-ATrain Out.

 

NBA Draft Recap: The Bulls Drafted Too Well, Atlanta Did Good Drafting Bad.

It’s been a few days since the NBA Draft, I’ve let all the picks sink in, listened to what all the pundits had to say, and I’m ready to come in hot with my takes. As always I’m viewing this draft through my Chicago Bulls colored glasses.  The Bulls had picks #7 and #22 overall. By the time they were on the clock at #7 the following players had already been selected:

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Doncic at #3 to the Mavericks was a result of a trade with Atlanta, Atlanta dropped two spots and took Trae Young, and picked up the Dallas first round pick in 2019 (protected). Most people are praising this trade for Dallas. I agree it was a good trade for Dallas, but it wasn’t a bad trade for Atlanta like many people are saying.

I think Atlanta may have a very good strategy here. They want to be bad again but they still want to sell tickets. So you pick up another first round pick, and you give the keys to Trae young for a season, and let him jack up 25 shots a game. This is a recipe to get the top pick NEXT year. I actually think next year we might have a special draft class highlighted by a very elite player in R.J. Barrett. I watched this kid play against a lot of other top High School players and he just stood way out as a next level talent.

Granted, we have not had NBA Free Agency yet, so I have no real clue how all these teams will look next season, but Atlanta and Orlando look poised to be bad enough to compete for that pick. I would also throw the Sacramento Kings in the mix but somehow the Boston Celtics have the Kings #1 pick next season. It’s scary to think what would happen if the Celtics somehow added Barrett.

At #7 the Bulls took Wendell Carter Jr. from Duke. He was a consensus “safe” pick. I personally think he is a safe pick with a lot of potential. I’m glad they didn’t take Michael Porter Jr. I know a lot of Bulls fans wanted him but as a Mizzou fan who was a very close follower of his college, he scared the hell out of me. Soft and injury prone is not a good combo even in today’s NBA. Carter Jr. will probably contribute good minutes from the get-go and be an asset going forward. I like the pick.

At #22 the worst kept secret in the draft was the Bulls drafting Chandler Hutchinson. If you’re just reading the name you probably are thinking he’s a white guy. You’d be wrong Chandler Hutchinson is, in fact, a 6’7 shooting guard with a 7’1 wingspan from Boise St. He shut down all workouts for other teams after the Bulls promised his agent that they would take him at #22. I gotta admit I knew nothing of this kid, Boise St. didn’t make the NCAA Tournament and I don’t watch much Mountain West Basketball. He was a late-bloomer that averaged 3.1 points as a freshman and 6.8 as a sophomore. He then stepped his game up averaging 17 points his Jr. year and 20 in his Sr. year. When you watch him you see an NBA body. You see a guy who is going to translate to the NBA. I love the pick.

The problem with me loving these picks is that it means the Bulls are probably going to be good enough to get at least 32 wins maybe a lot more. That would leave them with very slim chances of getting the top pick in 2019. Also, I don’t think Fred Hoiberg survives another heinous record. It’s in his best interest to win every single game he can if he wants to keep his job. The Bulls front office gave Hoiberg a long leash but it’s not going to last much longer.

Other Draft Musings:

I actually think Colin Sexton would work well with LeBron should LBJ stay in Cleveland. I honestly hope he gives Cleveland one more year before going to L.A. If I were the Cavs I would try and replace guys like Korver who can’t play defense with really good defenders. I’d want to see LBJ on a team with 3-4 other really good defenders and win low scoring games with him taking over in the 4th.

I don’t know what the Washington Wizards are doing, they seem like a franchise treading water, if I were them, I’d go full rebuild and trade John Wall and Brad Beal and try to get myself in that R.J. Barrett Sweepstakes.

The Clippers are another team that just seems lost, I just don’t see any strategy or direction from this franchise. They drafted two guards and now there is a traffic jam of guys at that position. Also, we get another year of Austin Rivers. Yay!

Spurs made a Spurs pick in Lonnie Walker IV, perfect fit for that kid, I think a few teams are going to regret passing on him. Bonus: he had an all-time picture with Adam Silver. See our featured image.

A-Train Out.

 

Spinning off Classics with A-Train.

I got to wondering the other day, “How did the Asian terrorist (Uli), and the black cyber terrorist/hacker (Theo) end up on a team with mostly East-German’s in the movie Die Hard.” I know that I’m not alone in wondering this. I for one am sick of Die Hard remakes, after Die Hard with a Vengence the franchise went to complete dog shit. What I could get excited about is a RogueOne-ish prequel about Hans Gruber assembling his team with a focus on the backstory of the Uli and Theo leading to how the hell they ended up on that team. The movie ends with them all piling in the Pacific Courier truck driving off to Nakatomi Plaza.

At the time Die Hard was released The Cosby Show was one of the biggest show on TV and Cosby’s son was named Theo. I find it curious that they named the one black guy the same name as the one Cosby son. I bet the screenwriter couldn’t think of a name and was like I’ll just call him Theo and we can change it later…and then never did.

After my Die Hard daydreaming, I got to thinking about some of my favorite films. What are some other outside-the-box spinoffs I’d like to see?

Here we go…

Back to the Future: The Plutonium Heist. In the first act of Back to the Future, Doc Brown is gunned down by the Lybians he scammed out of their plutonium. This film would cover both the original stealing of the plutonium by the Lybians and the subsequent introduction to Doc Brown. Doc takes over as the main character trying to finish his time machine while keeping the Lybians at bay. I very much look forward to the scene where he buys a used pin-ball machine to take apart and give to the Lybians.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off: Ferrari’s Day Out. This movie follow’s the antics of the guys who stole Cameron Frye’s dad’s Ferrari from the garage. These two probably need the day off more than the poster child for white privilege Ferris Bueller. Can they get the car back to the garage before the rich white assholes come to retrieve their mid-life-crisis mobile? Spoiler Alert they do…and later that night they both find love. Happy Endings are the best.

Jurassic Park: The Nedry Files. Wayne Knight is not only the best character in the original Jurassic Park he’s a national treasure. For these two reasons, I need to see how Jurassic Park’s top programmer got so in-over-his-head financially that he committed corporate espionage on behalf of BioSyn to steal the Dinosaur embryo’s off of Isla Nubar. Give me his life story, maybe he did it all in the name of love? Maybe a stripper named Sinnamon had him wrapped around her pinky finger. I don’t know I’m just spitballing here, what I do know is that I need more Dennis Nedry in my life.

Legends of the Fall: Tristan’s Grief Bender. In Legends of the Fall, Brad Pitt’s character Tristan goes presumably on an all-time bender in the wake of his brother Samuel’s death. This bender takes him across continents to far away lands only briefly montaged in the film. You could flesh that montage out into an entire film and make it pretty damn entertaining. We are due for an adventure-on the-high-seas type film anyway. It’s killing me that I can’t find a youtube video of the montage right now.

Pulp Fiction: Jules walks the Earth like Kane in Kung Fu. I hesitate to spin anything off of Pulp Fiction, and some people probably are screaming that the Pulp Fiction spinoff THEY want is about the mysterious case that Jules and Vincent get for Marcellus Wallace. The case is better left to mystery, what I want is a spin-off TV show where Jules Winfield “Walks the Earth.”

 

Ok Hollywood, these you get for free. My next set of spinoffs come with a price. A-Train Out.

 

 

Throwback Thursday: 20 Years Ago Today Jordan Won his 6th NBA Title with a Performance for the Ages.

I don’t know how anyone who watched Michael Jordan dominate the NBA can make the argument that LeBron is the superior basketball player. Some of the strongest and best evidence of MJ’s greatness occurred 20 years ago today. Damn, I feel old.

Jordan was 6-0 in his NBA finals career and even more impressive was the fact he never even faced an elimination game in the Finals. Think about that, nobody even got MJ to a must-win game in the NBA finals. This is probably because he treated them like they were all must-win games. Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals was no exception.

The team Jordan brought into Utah was by no means a super team. Scottie Pippen was hobbled, Rodman was past his best years and a non-factor on offense. The rest was a collection of decent NBA role players with Toni Kukoc, Ron Harper and Steve Kerr leading the way. Luc Longley and Bill Wennington were both white centers that probably would have no role in today’s NBA.

Let’s just watch and enjoy the elder statesmen in his last few minutes as a Chicago Bull…

What an assassin, after the Stockton 3 put Utah up 86-83, Jordan goes right at the bucket for 2, knowing his team can get the final shot. Then he picks Karl Malone’s pocket, steals the ball, and buries the game-winner in iconic fashion! Not bad for a 35-year-old.

Think about this, that was no ordinary 45 points. That was 45 points when his team scored 87. The rest of the team combined for 42. They needed every single point from MJ, that Bulls team didn’t have close to the offensive firepower that Utah had. They won that series with Jordan’s grit and team defense and they did it in 6.

I still have the newspaper clippings from the next day.

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That was a great time to be a Chicago sports fan, but also a little bittersweet because you knew the ride was about to come to an end, and at least one year before it had too. If the Bulls had brought the team back one more year I have no doubt they would have lifted the 7th banner. Sadly the writing was on the wall that the run was over.

Unless of course, you’re the legendary Skip Bayless:

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This made me chuckle, a 20-year-old newspaper and there is Skip Bayless giving the incorrect take. Sorry Skip, nobody came back. I wish you had been right but alas you are almost always wrong.

Watching the end of that game you really get a feel for both how physical the game used to be and how much the game has changed in regards to the three-point line. The perimeter is just not being guarded the way it used to be. You can also tell that Pippen who when healthy was a top 4 player, is just not himself. He’s slow to close out defensively and he’s completely passive on offense. It was nice to see the end of a basketball game not go to replay 5 times in the last two minutes. I kinda miss that.

Jordan is still the GOAT…… ATRAIN OUT.

 

A-Train Watches: Hotel Artemis.

I’m back to blogging. I know the post have been few and far between of late. This week I’m diving back into it with a review of Hotel Artemis. Hotel Artemis is my kind of movie. It’s got a lot of colorful villains doing colorful villain shit, all set in the backdrop of a futuristic LA Riot. I think this movie takes place in 2028. So a mere 10 years into the future.

I liked Hotel Artemis, I didn’t love it. The reason I didn’t love it was that it could have been better. The Jenny Slate thread is hamfisted into the plot and completely unnecessary, and it takes away from why we came to see the film. We came to see the bad guys.

If you don’t know, Hotel Artemis is a members-only bad guy hospital with very strict rules. Jodie Foster plays the head doctor/nurse and her only other employee is an orderly played by Bautista. I don’t know if it’s just me who thinks that Bautista is the best part of every movie that he’s in, but this is no exception. Bautista steals the show. I need this guy in more films.

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The film follows Foster and Bautista as they try to deal with the influx of bad guys coming to the Artemis. Things start to really get out of hand when “The Wolf King” (The Man who runs LA and owns the Artemis) needs to get treatment as well.

Stylistically the movie looks great, it’s well shot. Fairly well acted, and for the most part, has no gaping plot holes…but I still walked out wanting a little something more. I wanted more of the bad guys. I wanted a little more story. The problem was I don’t see how you fit it all into a movie without making it super long. I don’t know if my readers are familiar with the movie “4 Rooms” but I would have liked to see this film told in that manner. I think it would have made for a more interesting movie.

I’m giving this movie my stamp of approval, it’s definitely a “guy” movie but I think lots of ladies will enjoy it too. Still, I think Hotel Artemis might work better as a Netflix TV series where we could get more into the backstory of each player in the game.

Before we go I need to mention Sofia Boutella. This woman is a nuclear missile. I first was introduced to her in Atomic Blonde. In Hotel Artemis she plays a very similar character, beautiful but fierce, not to be trifled with. She was great in Hotel Artemis and I look forward to seeing her in a lot more. She’s going to be a full-on movie star.

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EDIT: Just googled Sofia Boutella assuming she was like 26 years old…..she’s like 6 months older than I am! I think that makes her even hotter. Where have you been all my life Sofia!!! This age revelation does make me worry about my movie star proclamation. In about 5 years she’s going to have to start playing someone’s mom. I don’t make these rules Hollywood does.

Go see Hotel Artemis if for no other reason than to support a movie that isn’t a remake or a comic book movie. A-TRAIN OUT!