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posted: 8/2/2012 10:05 PM

Big Z and what the Cubs might have been

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  • Miami Marlins' Carlos Zambrano delivers a pitch during the first inning of a baseball game against the Houston Astros, Saturday, April 14, 2012, in Miami.

      Miami Marlins' Carlos Zambrano delivers a pitch during the first inning of a baseball game against the Houston Astros, Saturday, April 14, 2012, in Miami.

 
By Mike North
The Rebel Insider

LAS VEGAS -- So I'm watching the MLB package and flip to the Atlanta Braves/ Florida Marlins game. The familiar voice of Chip Caray says Carlos Zambrano is going to be demoted to the bullpen for the Marlins.

Reminiscing, the former Cub announcer mentions there was a time the Cubs rotation included three top hurlers -- Mark Prior, Kerry Wood, and "Big Z" Carlos Zambrano.

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I had almost forgotten this "sterling" trio of starters. Where are the Cubs and Jim Hendry now if these pitchers stay intact and injury free? I would have to believe with those three guys, the Chicago Cubs would have smoked some cigars and drank some champagne at some point.

Injury-free Bears spell success

The Chicago Bears have opened their training camp. There are plenty of articles and coverage about the rookies, new additions, what to expect from Lovie Smith and talk about Mike Tice succeeding as the new offensive coordinator.

It's all good reading, but it just comes down to one main factor: Can the Bear players stay injury free?

No matter how you are rolling along, if you lose the QB, the running back, or any other integral player, all bets are off.

That's why if Jay Cutler, Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs, Matt Forte, Brandon Marshall and Charles Tillman can stay healthy, the Bears have a very good shot.

The '85 Bears stayed relatively healthy. The most important guy on the team was Walter Payton on offense, and of course he was never hurt. Jim McMahon missed games, but still managed to complete the '85 season.

As we found out with the Bulls last year, the best laid plans can swiftly sink with one twisted ankle or turn of a knee.

Missy Franklin and the Bieber

Missy Franklin is the new darling of the Summer Olympics. She's 17 years old, grew up in Denver, Colo. and is our bright light, already being inundated with endorsements of all kinds.

Her boy crush is Justin Bieber, and when Bieber found out, he tweeted her, and said he was a fan of hers too. Ya gotta love it!

Maybe they will meet and have an ice cream cone together, but when they are out walking around, he might have to take two steps for every one step she takes. Why? Because our girl wears a size-13 shoe. Those are some big flippers.

Congrats to Michael Phelps on adding to the Olympic medal total. He is truly a monster with a record-breaking total of 20 medals.

Surveying Vegas, then and now

As I write this piece from Las Vegas, I can't help remembering the simplicity of the sports betting landscape from the past.

Standing in the modern day book, surveying the multitude of flat screens and the high tech system in place for placing sports bets, I remember the '70s. Back then, you had to place your bets at separate stand-alones with dusty chalk boards or sports books not affiliated with the casinos.

Well. plenty has changed and of course there isn't a bet you can't make in the sports world except on the Olympic Games. All you are now is an elevator ride away. Now that's progress!

• Mike North's column appears Tuesdays and Fridays in the Daily Herald, and his video commentary can be found Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at dailyherald.com. Also check northtonorth.com.

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