Matt Trowbridge: Bengals receiver worth headache for Bears

Matt Trowbridge

Those who don’t want the Chicago Bears to trade for disgruntled Cincinnati Bengals’ receiver Chad Johnson — and that’s pretty much everybody — also thought New England made a mistake to trade for Randy Moss.

Johnson is an egomaniac and a showboat, but he’s also one of the NFL’s best receivers and signed to a modest contract. As much as the Bears need offensive linemen, Johnson is worth a No. 1 pick for a team that could return to the Super Bowl if it can add a star receiver, one or two good blockers and a safety and cut its interceptions in half.

Yankees Err on Jerseygate

The New York Yankees jackhammered through 2 feet of concrete to remove a David Ortiz jersey that a Boston Red Sox fan buried in the foundation of New York’s new stadium to jinx the Evil Empire. Ortiz seemed to be the one cursed, batting .070 at the time.

New York should have left the jersey buried and pitched it as a sign that Ortiz would one day switch sides. The Yankees have taken Babe Ruth, Roger Clemens, Wade Boggs, Luis Tiant, Sparky Lisle, Johnny Damon, Herb Pennock, Waite Hoyt and Red Ruffing from Boston. Boston’s best ex-Yankee is Bucky Dent victim Mike Torrez.

Cub Fans Out of Line

The flack over Cincinnati Reds broadcaster Marty Brennaman ripping “obnoxious” Chicago Cubs fans recalls the scene from “Animal House” when Delta house brothers stand up for their picked-upon nerdy pledges: “They can’t do that to our pledges,” Boon says. “Only we can do that to our pledges,” Otter replies. Chicago fans know large portions of the crowd come to Wrigley Field more to experience the carnival atmosphere there than to watch the game. But as soon as an outsider decries the party, Cubs Nation gets outraged.

Sox Walking Their Way to Top

A week ago, all five Chicago White Sox starters had ERAs of 4.50 or above. Now only one does, and their 3.65 team ERA ranks third in the American League. Don’t expect that to last. Mark Buehrle and Jose Contreras are on the downsides of their careers, and Javier Vazquez pitches best when his teams are worst (Montreal, Chicago last year), and vice versa (Yankees, 2006 Sox).

Chicago’s hitting transformation is much more likely to last. A year ago, the Sox were dead last in the majors in on-base percentage. This year, they’re 12th (as of Friday), even with Jim Thome and Paul Konerko batting .173 and .176. New additions Nick Swisher and Orlando Cabrera have the entire team taking more walks. The Sox are batting .244, but their on-base percentage is .340; that .096 difference above their batting is the highest in the majors.

No Good Choices for Bulls

Whomever the Chicago Bulls hire to succeed Jim Boylan won’t be as good as the coach they fired to promote Boylan. OK, so that’s not exactly an original thought; everyone’s saying that. Exactly -- even casual fans know the Bulls may struggle for years to replace Scott Skiles.

You Get What You Pay For

Minnesota’s NBA team is even worse than Chicago’s, but at least some Timberwolves’ tickets are bargains. Fans who buy a “Pay the Pick” deal for nosebleed seats will be billed according to Minnesota’s spot in the NBA draft lottery. A No. 1 pick means $43 for 43 games, No. 2 $86. Minnesota can’t fall lower than No. 6, so the highest price is $6 per game. The Bulls remain too popular — the United Center continually sells out — for such a policy in Chicago, but we can dream.

Matt Trowbridge’s Quick Shots on Sports appear Sundays. He can be reached at 815-987-1383 or