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DBB 100 Bars Addendum: Crabapples (Buffalo)

| July 8th, 2020

Last year I published a listing of my favorite 100 bars (open or closed) in the world. This year I planned to write an amended list, profiling a few from last year that did not get an extended write-up and bringing some new joints into the mix. But it’s been a weird few months, with most of the world’s great bars closed, and I have decided to go in a different direction. 

In lieu of just being on vacation (which I will be), this space will be dedicated to profiling some new spots that didn’t make last year’s list. Spots that will be in desperate need of your patronage should the world find any kind of normal again.



Crabapples – Buffalo, NY

There’s a roadside pizza joint called Macy’s Place in Buffalo. It’s kind of in the middle of nowhere but Josh and I had heard enough praise for their pizza and wings to make the journey worth it. When we got there we found out the wait for food would be 45 minutes. So I asked the girl behind the counter if there was a bar nearby. She sent us to Crabapples.

It looks like it’s some guy’s house. The bartenders stink. There was a fat blowhard in the middle of bar pontificating about god knows what. But when we left after a few Blue Lights, we knew instantly we’d be coming back. It’s that kind of bar. It begs to be revisited if only to see if the bartenders are truly that bad and if the blowhard ever shuts his fucking mouth.

Oh, and Macy’s Place. Get the cup and char extra well done and lemon pepper wings. Walk over and eat it at Crabapples.

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DBB 100 Bars Addendum: CJ’s Tavern (New Jersey)

| July 7th, 2020

Last year I published a listing of my favorite 100 bars (open or closed) in the world. This year I planned to write an amended list, profiling a few from last year that did not get an extended write-up and bringing some new joints into the mix. But it’s been a weird few months, with most of the world’s great bars closed, and I have decided to go in a different direction. 

In lieu of just being on vacation (which I will be), this space will be dedicated to profiling some new spots that didn’t make last year’s list. Spots that will be in desperate need of your patronage should the world find any kind of normal again.



CJ’s Tavern – Spring Lake Heights, NJ

Stumbled into this strip mall bar in NJ to watch Bears vs. Lions last fall. Bears won.

Where can you find $1.50 pints anymore?

Who still does 10 cent wings?

How many bars still have packaged goods and smokes for sale? And lotto on the television screens?

Three of us stayed three and a half hours. Our bill was $27.

I bought a tee shirt.

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DBB 100 Bars Addendum: The Understudy at The National Theatre (London)

| July 6th, 2020

Last year I published a listing of my favorite 100 bars (open or closed) in the world. This year I planned to write an amended list, profiling a few from last year that did not get an extended write-up and bringing some new joints into the mix. But it’s been a weird few months, with most of the world’s great bars closed, and I have decided to go in a different direction. 

In lieu of just being on vacation (which I will be), this space will be dedicated to profiling some new spots that didn’t make last year’s list. Spots that will be in desperate need of your patronage should the world find any kind of normal again.



The Understudy – London, England

The Understudy would have made a significant dent in the DBB100.

The bar is in the structure of the National Theatre in London and thus it’s full of the types of people you might find at a production of As You Like It in the Owen. London’s old, classic pubs often encourage a sort of distancing because most don’t have bar stools. People sit at tables and that social structure almost prohibits interaction with folks you don’t know. Who the fuck is going to walk up to a random table and say hi?

The Understudy does the opposite. It’s a communal space, both inside and out. It encourages interaction. It’s a spot that felt young and alive. And it’s not surprising that it’s the work of the world’s finest cultural institution.

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DBB 100 Bars Addendum: The Gantry (Queens)

| July 3rd, 2020

Last year I published a listing of my favorite 100 bars (open or closed) in the world. This year I planned to write an amended list, profiling a few from last year that did not get an extended write-up and bringing some new joints into the mix. But it’s been a weird few months, with most of the world’s great bars closed, and I have decided to go in a different direction. 

In lieu of just being on vacation (which I will be), this space will be dedicated to profiling some new spots that didn’t make last year’s list. Spots that will be in desperate need of your patronage should the world find any kind of normal again.



The Gantry – Long Island City, New York

I go to bars. A lot of them.

I also go to the movie theater weekly. I also see a lot of plays and live music and go to art galleries and museums. I choose to live in an expensive city and pay too much money for too little space so I can have access to these things.

Then Covid-19 happened.

A few weeks ago I found out from a friend that The Gantry was allowing people to come in and have a drink. Many joints were letting people drink on their sidewalks but I don’t like drinking near bars, I like drinking in them. I walked a few miles to this place. And sure enough, they were. I’ve been back seven times in three weeks.

Discovering a great bar is often about a singular moment. There’s a guy sitting next to you who’s a VP at Subway corporate and knows everything about cheap ham. Somebody plays Oscar Brown Jr’s Somebody Buy Me a Drink just as the sun sets. The bartender used to be a regular on the soap Guiding Light. (All three of these things happened to me at one bar, the legendary Spring Lounge.)

The Gantry’s greatness revealed itself at a moment in time. It was there when I needed it.

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DBB 100 Bars Addendum: Pippin’s Tavern (Chicago)

| July 2nd, 2020

Last year I published a listing of my favorite 100 bars (open or closed) in the world. This year I planned to write an amended list, profiling a few from last year that did not get an extended write-up and bringing some new joints into the mix. But it’s been a weird few months, with most of the world’s great bars closed, and I have decided to go in a different direction. 

In lieu of just being on vacation (which I will be), this space will be dedicated to profiling some new spots that didn’t make last year’s list. Spots that will be in desperate need of your patronage should the world find any kind of normal again.

We start in Chicago.



Pippin’s Tavern – Chicago, Illinois

This is the first place I had a drink in Chicago.

This is the first place I had Malört in Chicago.

This is the place I bring people to give them Malört for the first time, and often watch the liquid dribble from their lips shortly after consumption.

One time I was leaving the Billy Goat and told Rick Pearson I was heading to Pippin’s on the way back to my hotel. He responded, “Why would anyone go to that shit hole?”

Exactly.

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Advanced Defensive Stats: Missed Tackles

| July 1st, 2020

I’ve written quite a bit about Chicago’s offense so far this offseason, but not as much about the other side of the ball. I want to change that in the next series of articles, using advanced defensive statistics from Pro Football Reference (PFR). We’ll start today by looking at missed tackles.


Baseline Rates

Let’s start by establishing a baseline for what is a normal rate of missed tackles.

I compiled all missed tackle stats from the PFR database for 2018 and 2019 (the only 2 years it has) and sorted them by position. In order to compare starters to starters and avoid rates skewed by backups, I assumed a base nickel package of 4 defensive linemen (DL), 2 linebackers (LB), and 5 defensive backs (DB). For all 32 teams over a 2 year span, this would mean roughly 256 DL, 128 LB, and 320 DB. This gave thresholds of 20 tackles for DL, 60 for LB, and 40 for DB.

Looking at those sample sizes, you can see the spread of missed tackle rates in the table below for each position group.

Read More …

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Should Pace Get Another Shot at QB? History Shows Patience with Young GM Has Value.

| June 30th, 2020

As the fate of the Bears franchise rests on their ability to find a franchise quarterback, it is easy to question a general manager who has missed at the position so often. But history suggests Ryan Pace has as good a shot at finding the team’s first franchise quarterback in more than 50 years as anyone else does. Because if there is one thing that can be gleaned from studying how some of the best franchises in the NFL have obtained their leading signal callers, it’s simply that finding quarterbacks is an inexact science that can have many misses before a big hit.

The gold standard team in the NFL is the New England Patriots. They built their dynasty on the back of a sixth-round quarterback from Michigan named Tom Brady. But, before we give them too much credit for some secret they knew but the rest of the world didn’t, we should probably ask why they didn’t take Brady earlier.

The Patriots have more hits than Brady. They took Matt Cassel in the seventh, Jimmy Garoppolo in the second and Jacoby Brissett in the third. All three eventually became valuable trade pieces. But there’s also Zac Robinson in the seventh in 2010, Ryan Mallett in the third in 2011 and, if they really had that much faith in 2019 fourth-rounder Jarrett Stidham, they wouldn’t have signed Cam Newton on Sunday. Because they hit on Brady, they have had the benefit of letting other players develop and play in a consistent offensive scheme while they have continued to win games. It’s easy to develop talent at a position when those players never have to contribute.

And, of course, we can look at Green Bay.

Can you imagine the outrage we’d see today if a team traded a current first round pick for a player who was drafted in the second round and barely made the roster the year before? That’s how Ron Wolf grabbed Brett Favre. And he deserves credit for finds like Mark Brunell in the fifth, Matt Hasselbeck in the sixth and Aaron Brooks in the fourth — although that one is debatable. Wolf also drafted guys you’ve never heard of like Jay Barker and Kyle Wachholtz.

Read More …

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Announcing Our Partnership with Lou Malnati’s!

| June 29th, 2020


When deciding not to sell DBB earlier this year I wrote this:

Not only was I not ready to get rid of DBB, I was more inspired than I ever have been to make it better, to be more engaged, to make it more profitable. The charitable component will never go away but it doesn’t have to be the only financial component.

So I sought out companies that I loved, companies that could become part of the fabric of this site. And being that our readership is, to a large part, outside of Chicago, they needed to be either national companies or Chicago-based, but delivering across the country.

Lou Malnati’s checked every box.

The process took a few months but I’m extremely pleased to announce today that Malnati’s is now DBB’s first corporate partner. And I’m using the word “partner” and not “sponsor” on purpose. This is not gonna be a chuck-up-a-banner-ad-and-send-a-monthly-check relationship. I’m going to write about my many experiences at Lou’s and highlight their Tastes of Chicago line. We’re going to do a bunch of giveaways to readers. Lou’s likes DBB and I am a big fan of theirs. So over time we’re going to evolve this relationship in a way that’s both (a) mutually beneficial and (b) integrated in a way that never disrupts getting our content to you, the reader, in a simple and seamless way.

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