Tuesday, July 22

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Bulls Thu Jul 17 2014

The Underappreciated Life of Carlos Boozer

Thumbnail image for GB bulls icon.pngCarlos Boozer never got a fair shake in Chicago. He signed a five-year, $82 million deal with the Bulls back in 2010 shortly after the team missed out on its top four targets: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Joe Johnson. That's a lot of money on a guy the fan base considered a laughable consolation prize after Gar Forman and John Paxson couldn't land any of the elites at the top of the free agent bonanza -- not even the one from right here in town. The relationship between Boozer and Bulls fans started out on the wrong foot, and it only got worse from there.

Then came the infamous hand breaking incident in early October, prompting many fans to attend their Halloween parties that year in a suit jacket, dress jeans, an Ace bandage-wrapped their hand/arm, and a duffel bag. Or maybe that was just me. Anyhow, Boozer's first season in Chicago hadn't even started yet, and he was considered clumsy, overpaid, and generally unwanted by the fan base.

Then there was the defense. He was never considered a good defender at any point in his career, and the spotlight shined brightly on him in this regard because he was the only negative defender on the team that first season who wasn't named Derrick Rose. For an organization and a coach that prided itself on a maniacal form of defense, this was unacceptable to the fans that sat in the seats and watched on television.

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Chad Ruter / Comments (1)

Cycling Thu Jul 17 2014

Intelligentsia Cup Rides Through Chicago on July 26

ICPSCS_full_logo_email.pngWhile the world's premier cycling event powers through France, the Chicagoland area will play host to it's own bicycling competition, the Intelligentsia Cup, from July 18 to July 27, with a stage near downtown Chicago set for the penultimate day of racing.

Intelligentsia Coffee, started right here in Chicago back in 1995, is the title sponsor of the Prairie State Cycling Series that will hit Waukegan, Lake Bluff, Crystal Lake, Willow Springs, Beverly, Elmhurst, Chicago, and Downers Grove over the eight days of racing. Prizes will be awarded to the winner in every category each day, along with overall winners receiving podium treatment after the final day of competition based on points accrued for finishes each day.

Anyone wishing to register and race on the day of the Chicago event must have a valid USA Cycling License and pay a fee of $53 ($63 for Women/Men Pro 1/2), but note that there is a limit to the amount of participants in each field. A strong payout structure for, at minimum, the top three finishers in each group awaits to the racers, along with jerseys for the winner in almost every group.

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Chad Ruter / Comments (0)

White Sox Wed Jul 16 2014

The White Sox's Unlikely All-Star All-Star Team

Sox_200.pngOver the past week or so, Fox Sports 1 (at the convenient channel number 408!) has been airing classic MLB All-Star Game moments. Yesterday, they showed the 1999 game, which had some of the best players in baseball history: Tony Gwynn, Cal Ripken, Jr., Ken Griffey, Jr., Mark McGwire, Manny Ramirez, Mike Piazza, Randy Johnson, Mariano Rivera, and Pedro Martinez. The game was loaded.

However, like every All-Star game, there were some choices that I'm sure made sense at the time but look puzzling now. For instance, who was Jose Rosado? He played for parts of five seasons (three full seasons) and was the Royals' lone representative. Though he had a career 4.27 ERA, he made two All-Star games! Also in the 1999 game? Ron Coomer, Ed Sprague, Dave Nilsson and Kent Bottenfield.

This happens every year. Unknown players are selected for the All-Star Game because they had a good first half, or because their teams need a representative. It got me thinking, who were some of the more unlikely All-Star selections in White Sox history?

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Mike Chamernik / Comments (0)

Softball Tue Jul 15 2014

Chicago 16-Inch Softball Hall of Fame Museum Opening This Weekend

16inch softball hall of fameThe Chicago 16-Inch Softball Hall of Fame has honored more the 400 players, coaches, umpires, and staff since its inception back in 1995. Now it has a new home for fans to learn about the history and growth of a game started right here in Chicago.

To celebrate the opening of their new museum at 7501 W. Harrison St. in Forest Park, the Hall of Fame is hosting an all day event on Saturday, July 19 featuring live music, a food and beer court, and you guessed it, some 16-inch softball. A celebrities game along with a North vs. South Hall of Famers game headlines the softball playing portion of the afternoon, while Hall of Fame president Ron Kubicki is scheduled as one of the speakers for the ribbon cutting ceremonies. Whiskey's Quicker will be providing entertainment before the opening ceremonies commence, and the evening is being topped off with a concert featuring Rhythm Method.

"Building the Hall of Fame has been a work in progress by dedicated volunteers. We are delighted to show off our new museum and highlight the players who have dedicated themselves to this great sport," said Hall of Fame president Ron Kubick. "We are excited to honor the game's rich history, and talented stars of 16-inch softball."

The new museum will be loaded with historical memorabilia and will be a must stop for anyone visiting the city looking to see something that is vintage Chicago.

Chad Ruter / Comments (0)

Bulls Mon Jul 14 2014

Carmelo Stays a Knick; Bulls Move to Plan B

Thumbnail image for GB bulls icon.pngGetting Carmelo Anthony to Chicago was always a long shot. Despite offering him the best chance at winning a championship during the remaining prime years of his career, the difference in money New York could bring to the table was just too great. The other 29 teams were at a roughly $35 million disadvantage to start with, and the figure was even greater with the Bulls because of their lack of max cap space.

Gar Forman and John Paxson moved on from the news of Anthony's return to New York almost immediately -- agreeing to terms with Pau Gasol on a deal reportedly worth $22 million over three years. The terms weren't reported in the media until a full day later because the Bulls' cap situation is an incredibly fluid one, being one of the few remaining teams in the NBA with the ability to amnesty one of their own players: Carlos Boozer.

GarPax have been trying for weeks to find a trade partner for Boozer, even seeing if the Lakers would take him off their hands in a sign-and-trade deal for the aforementioned Gasol, but the latest reports don't show that happening. The benefit to dealing Boozer as opposed to amnestying him is that the team wouldn't owe him any more money ($16.8 million this year) and could potentially add a massive trade exception they could wield at the February deadline to add an impact player for a playoff run.

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Chad Ruter / Comments (0)

Blackhawks Fri Jul 11 2014

Blackhawks Sign Kane and Toews Long-term

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png It never was a matter of if, but moreso when Stan Bowman would follow through on his promise of making Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane Blackhawks for life. The captain and most dynamic player in the league have come a long way in such a short amount of time in this town, and Wednesday afternoon, both were rewarded with dual eight-year, $10.5 million contracts, which lock in the stars through the 2022-'23 season.

Not to reminisce about a couple of players in their mid-20s, but looking back a mere seven years ago when both were coming into their own in the NHL, it was clear it wasn't a question of if, but when Toews and Kane would lead the Hawks -- a franchise in great need of a boost at the time -- to a Stanley Cup championship.

A few rings, Olympic medals and Conn Smythe trophies later, two of the most recognizable faces in the league were handsomely rewarded by the very team they helped resurrect from obscurity.

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Jim Crago / Comments (0)

Chicago Thu Jul 10 2014

Great Bull Run Hits Hawthorne Race Course Saturday

On the same week that Chicago writer Bill Hillman, author of a popular article about running with the bulls in Pamplona along with a recent how-to Kindle book, was gored by a bull in Spain, Chicago area residents get a unique opportunity to run with the bulls right here at home.

Going to Pamplona is a bucket list item for thrill seekers, but it's not cheap when it comes to travel and stay costs -- not to mention the fact that it's utterly dangerous (see gored man in above link). The Great Bull Run at Hawthorne Race Course this Saturday, July 12th, offers you the same thrill that you would get running with the bulls in Spain, but in a much safer environment (as safe as running with bulls can be) and at a fraction of the cost.

For $75 on the day of the event (plus $10 for parking if you drive), you not only get to run with the bulls during one of their six different time slots, but you get a t-shirt, bandana, one free beer, and also get to participate in their Tomato Royale food fight that takes place after the bull running.

Spectator tickets are $15, and tickets for the Royale only can be nabbed for $55. If severe weather threatens the event, the rain out date is on Sunday. For more information about how the event unfolds, check out their handy FAQ page.

Chad Ruter / Comments (0)

White Sox Mon Jul 07 2014

Hey Now, Sale's (Not) An All-Star (Yet?)

Sox_200.pngThe National and American League All-Star rosters were released last night, and though Alexei Ramirez and Jose Abreu will each represent the White Sox on the AL team, Chris Sale is on the outside looking in. For now.

Sale still has a chance to make the team. He'll be on the Final Vote list, so fans can vote between him and four other AL team hopefuls on People can even tweet about Sale with the hashtag #TargetSale if they are so inclined. While Sale has been phenomenal this year, two things put a damper on his All-Star chances: he missed one-fourth of this season and the other AL pitchers are really good.

Sale is 8-1, but more importantly he has a 2.16 ERA, a 0.87 WHIP and a 2.49 FIP (second-best in the AL). His ERA-plus of 188 leads the league. Save for a four-run outing against the Angels, every one of Sale's starts has ranged from good to great. He's pitched as well as he ever has in a Sox uniform.

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Mike Chamernik / Comments (0)

Cubs Sat Jul 05 2014

Cubs Trade Samardzija & Hammel For Superstar Prospect

Cubs_200.pngJed Hoyer and Theo Epstein got offered one of the top hitting prospects in the minor leagues, and they didn't hesitate to make their move. For the third consecutive year, the Cubs have traded 40 percent of their starting rotation to add prospects -- this time, doing it all in one deal.

The Cubs tried on a few occasions to extend Jeff Samardzija past 2015, even offering him a reported $85 million over five years in their latest overture a few weeks ago. Samardzija declined, in search of Homer Bailey money, and it became an utter guarantee that he was going to be traded. Jason Hammel, a $6 million reclamation grab in free agency last winter, was always thought to be a tradeable piece, as the Cubs have done with Paul Maholm and Scott Feldman in 2012 and 2013.

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Chad Ruter / Comments (1)

White Sox Thu Jul 03 2014

Jose Abreu: A Man For All Seasons

Sox_200.pngJose Abreu is having himself a year. He started out modestly in his first week, then tore up competition over the rest of April and first half of May. Standing at 15 homers and a .908 OPS, he was riding high.

Then he got hurt and put on the DL. So much for that, right? Nope. He's been even better over the last month, with 11 homers and a 1.036 OPS since his return on June 2. Altogether, he's tied for the league lead in home runs (26) and RBIs (67) and he's been the White Sox most productive player. He's a strong Rookie of the Year candidate and even an MVP option. The $7 million he's getting this year is a bargain for the Sox.

He's on a record-setting pace. Toppling Mark McGwire's rookie home run record of 49 is not out of reach, nor is the Sox single-season homer record (also 49, by Albert Belle). If you extrapolate his numbers out and estimate his production, you'll be impressed with what numbers he can have this year.

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Mike Chamernik / Comments (1)

Blackhawks Wed Jul 02 2014

During Free Agency Spree, Blackhawks Steal Brad Richards

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png One by one, players from all around the league slowly began to learn their fate by way of free-agency acquisitions for big money and long-term deals. All the while, Hawks fans waited patiently while refreshing their Twitter feeds in hopes that their team would make a splash while not creating massive waves in the process.

First it was Jason Spezza, moving on to the Dallas Stars in a trade with the Ottawa Senators, a pretty big move for a team within the Central. Then, just before lunch time, the St. Louis Blues announced they had signed Paul Stastny for $28 million over four years.

One by one, from big names to role players, general managers across the league began opening up check books as if it were Black Friday. But all the while, the Hawks hung back and quietly worked through a strategy that ended up surprising most of the league at the end of the day.

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Jim Crago / Comments (0)

Cubs Tue Jul 01 2014

Jake Arrieta Dominating Baseball With Wicked Slider

Cubs_200.pngDuring Jake Arrieta's last two starts, Cubs play-by-play man Len Kasper has had to endure his screaming critics on Twitter claiming he's jinxing the young fireballer by talking about the perfect game and no-hitter Arrieta was working on in the late innings of each ballgame. If Vin Scully, who's literally called 7 percent of no-hitters in the history of Major League Baseball, doesn't believe in no-hitter jinxes, then nobody should. Jinxed performances or not, Arrieta has been one of the best pitchers in baseball in the month of June.

When the Cubs traded Scott Feldman to the Orioles for Arrieta and Pedro Strop last July, the team was taking chances on a pair of cost-controlled pitchers who showed flashes of brilliance, but were never able to harness anything close to consistency. They had worn out their welcome for a Baltimore team looking to follow up their 2012 trip to the playoffs with a deeper run in 2013, and the Orioles needed a starting pitcher they could trust. Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer struck at the opportunity.

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Chad Ruter / Comments (0)

Blackhawks Tue Jul 01 2014

Blackhawks Deal Bollig and Draft for Skill

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png With all the rumors swirling around last week about Patrick Sharp and his $5.9 million deal being dealt away to create more cap space, it turned out general manager Stan Bowman had other plans in mind -- at least for now.

Coming into the 2014 NHL draft in Philadelphia this past weekend, Bowman remained tight-lipped about the Hawks' leading scorer during the regular season and deflected towards the need to re-sign Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, the need to prepare for lining up new picks and locking in restricted free agents in Jeremy Morin, Ben Smith and Antti Raanta -- all three for two-year deals. Toews and Kane are asking for $12 million each, which they likely won't get, but probably will get close -- say, around $10 million each.

So, with all the drama coming to a crescendo Friday evening, Bowman pulled off a trade no one saw coming: a two-for that included the 20th and 179th picks from San Jose for the Hawks' 27th and 62nd picks. Then, Bowman followed that up Saturday by trading away "sometimes serviceable during the regular season fourth liner" Brandon Bollig to the Calgary Flames for the 83rd overall pick.

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Jim Crago / Comments (0)

Bulls Fri Jun 27 2014

Bulls Snag Doug McDermott & Trade Chip In NBA Draft

Thumbnail image for GB bulls icon.pngEditor's Note: This column was updated after a clarification of trade rules was realized by the author.

From the perspective of the Bulls front office, the only way last night's NBA Draft could've gone better would've been if Jabari Parker somehow fell into their laps at the 16th pick. Obviously that event was a pipe dream of all pipe dreams with absolutely no chance of actually happening. The second best scenario for the Bulls was to land Doug McDermott out of Creighton. And that's exactly what they did.

The Bulls traded their 19th pick, the 16th pick they had from Charlotte (Tyrus Thomas trade) along with a 2015 second round pick (either their own or the one Portland owes them), to the Nuggets for Anthony Randolph and the rights to the 11th overall pick, whom they had already used to select McDermott.

When McDermott was announced as the pick for Denver, the trade winds began to swirl mercilessly. The Nuggets had already acquired Arron Afflalo before the draft, and picking McDermott would've added duplication to an already stocked wing spot on their roster. That's when word that the Bulls had made the trade came down.

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Chad Ruter / Comments (0)

Blackhawks Wed Jun 25 2014

Duncan Keith Collects Second Norris Trophy

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png Coming into the 2013-'14 season, Duncan Keith and his teammates were fresh off the heels of winning their second Stanley Cup in four seasons. It was a summer of showing off the most prized trophy in sports across Canada, parts of Europe and here in the U.S., at a mix of donut shops, fishing trips and every bar in River North.

The joyous feeling was familiar to some, new to others, but one every member of this team agreed would never get old. Repeating as champs in any sport is extremely difficult, especially in one that implements a salary cap like the NHL. And while the randomness of the puck bouncing every which way plays a part in who wins or loses, the one thing that remains constant on the ice is the skill level of a player in his prime.

Keith didn't get his chance to hoist Lord Stanley over his head this season due to a few bad bounces and a Kings team that outplayed coach Joel Quenneville's team, but he was rewarded for his hard work throughout the season at Tuesday night's NHL awards ceremony in Las Vegas.

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Jim Crago / Comments (0)

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