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Saturday, August 1

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Fire Fri Jul 24 2015

Chicago Fire: On The Trap of Nostalgia

Chicago FireOver the past month I spent several weeks doing my legal duty to the county of Cook, serving as a member of a grand jury, and it got me thinking about the power of nostalgia. Moreover—not to put too fine a point on it—I have been considering just how worthless a thing fond remembrance truly is.

This feeling occurred to me while sitting at home one evening, roughly halfway through the five weeks of my empanelment. Rather innocuously and without provocation, a curious little thought surfaced amid the turbid waters of my mind. When my time on the jury came to a close I'd have to go back to my regular life, at which time all of the facets of the jury experience that I had initially seen as limitations I'd soon grow to miss. For instance, the individually wrapped donuts we were provided daily. They felt like an outsider's closest approximation of the pastry if they'd been armed with only the most rudimentary description: that it was round, and that you were supposed to hate yourself for having eaten it. But all the same, I found myself taking a curious liking to them, along with the other assorted food service oddities that we were presented with daily.

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Benjamin Cannon / Comments (9)

White Sox Thu Jul 23 2015

The White Sox Shortstop Dilemma

SoxThe White Sox's busy offseason had them pegged as the dark horse favorite for a Wild Card spot and fans we're excited for 2015. But General Manager Rick Hahn did not address the Sox's real issues: the infield, particularly what the future holds for the shortstop position.

The Sox have had some spectacular players man the double play combo over the years. Ozzie Guillen, Ray Durham, Steve Sax, Tadahito Iguchi, hell they even have bronze statues commemorating those positions. Nothing should be taken away from these players, but those current bronze statue incarnations frankly stink.

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Chris Zois / Comments (0)

Baseball Fri Jul 17 2015

If Loans Were Legal, Who Would Cubs/Sox Target?

By Mike Chamernik & Chad Ruter

cubs-sox (1).jpg

The only way to advance a sport is to tinker. Baseball isn't perfect. Neither is football, basketball, or soccer. To improve, new ideas need to be tested. In 1879, it took nine balls for a hitter to get walked. By 1887, the leaders of the sport had regulated it down to just five.

Strike zones have changed over time too. If an idea flops, you can always revert back to the old ways. The NBA moved in the three-point line for three seasons in the mid-90s before moving it back to its original 23 feet, nine inches. Trial and error leads to progress. The rules of these sports are not sacred. The DH will come to the National League in the next 25 years, and so will an automated system for the calling of balls and strikes. Don't fight it; resistance is futile.

So when Bill Barnwell of Grantland came up with the idea of implementing a soccer-style loan system in MLB, it's hard to understand why the league wouldn't consider it. It has the potential of putting the game's greatest players who are stuck on terrible teams right in the thick of races. And the best part is their original team doesn't lose them for good.

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Tailgate / Comments (0)

Cubs Wed Jul 15 2015

What's Realistic for the Cubs at the Trade Deadline?

Chicago CubsFor the first time in the Theo Epstein/Jed Hoyer tenure, the Cubs are in position to buy at the deadline. But just because they're currently sitting in a playoff spot, doesn't mean they'll sell off their deep stable of prospects to make a run in 2015.

It also takes two to tango. You might want David Price, but he's not available despite the Tigers being 3.5 behind in the wild card and their best player on the shelf for the next six weeks. Their owner is old and wants a ring before he croaks. Crazy trade ideas get bantered about all the time, but they seldom (if ever) come to fruition. Stephen Strasburg isn't getting dealt for Mookie Betts.

The Cubs have been rumored to be in the market for the holy trinity: starters, relievers, and hitters. Every team could use a guy from each of those groups, right? But if we know anything about the Cubs front office, the move will be calculated. They know the young hitters that make up the majority of their lineup aren't close to peak yet, and pulling out the stops for 13 starts from a pitcher that's going to be a free agent in November doesn't make much sense when looking at the big picture. And before we get started, nobody is giving up a stud player for Albert Almora. Sure, he was the Cubs' top prospect once upon a time, but he's struggled as he's moved up through the minors because of real difficulties with plate discipline and consistent power. Teams aren't interested in struggling prospects unless they're getting them at a discount.

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Chad Ruter / Comments (1)

Bulls Fri Jul 10 2015

Summer League Heating Up for the Bulls

BullsWithin a span of 12 hours, the Chicago Bulls completed their offseason. I don't want to take anything away from Aaron Brooks illustrious 10-year career, but the pomp and circumstance during this year's offseason was done the minute Jimmy Butler agreed to come back to the Windy City. For us Chicago basketball enthusiasts, we can enjoy emoji battles between grown men or quasi-kidnappings, but we need something to occupy our time until tip-off in October. Thankfully the Bulls Summer League play begins on July 11, so there can be a little action during the dog days of summer.

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Chris Zois / Comments (0)

White Sox Thu Jul 02 2015

Sale's Strikeout Streak Survives for Sox

Chicago White Sox On Tuesday night, and against the MLB-best Cardinals no less, Chris Sale struck out 12 batters to become the second pitcher to ever strike out at least 10 in eight consecutive starts.

Sale has been one of the best and most consistent pitchers in baseball since 2012, and baseball as a whole has become a strikeout-contingent game. While Sale's feat isn't surprising, being good for 10 Ks a game is still very impressive. How has this streak come to be?

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Mike Chamernik / Comments (0)

Bulls Thu Jul 02 2015

Bulls Offseason Checklist Nearly Complete

BullsPhewww that was a scary couple of hours. Once the clock struck midnight and the calendar rolled over to July, Chicago Bulls fans waited with bated breath as the NBA free agency period started. The Bulls are usually an aggressive team during the offseason when they have cap space available, but this year they passed over the new options and concentrated on locking up their core and keeping the guys they know.

Jimmy Butler (restricted) and Mike Dunleavy were both free agents coming into the summer and the Bulls made it their number one priority to retain them. The team didn't have to sweat too much as they both verbally agreed to new contracts yesterday, the first day of the free agent negotiation period.

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Chris Zois / Comments (0)

Soccer Wed Jul 01 2015

Watching Team USA Kick Ass in the Park

By Veronica Arreola

The build-up to the Women's World Cup has been almost as much about judging the entertainment value of women's sports as it has been the quality of Team USA to win the cup. Last night US Soccer held a last minute outdoor viewing party for the semifinal match against Germany and Chicago showed up. The diversity was amazing.

As I sat on a picnic blanket with my husband and our soccer-obsessed pre-teen, I took note of many other families on their own blankets. But there were also the countless college-age students who made it clear they wanted to stand in the front row and cheer on our team. The group of people in front of us looked like they swapped meeting up at their neighborhood bar for the lawn in foggy Lincoln Park. And it should be noted that the beer garden was heartily packed.

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Tailgate / Comments (0)

Blackhawks Wed Jul 01 2015

Blackhawks and Saad Part Ways, But All Not Lost

Chicago BlackhawksIt was a move most everyone considered impossible, losing out on a proven 22-year-old stud to cap restraints, especially after he scored eight goals and notched three assists in the postseason to help his team win its third Stanley Cup in six years. But after the news broke Tuesday afternoon that Brandon Saad had been traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets, the first thing to set in after the initial sting was acceptance in the salary-cap era.

A great two-way player, who benefited playing alongside surefire hall of famers in Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa, Saad won over the Hawks faithful with his work ethic and electrifying plays on the scoring end and with no-look passes. There's no question the Hawks have gotten away with paying Saad an extremely affordable salary, but, eventually, his talent on the ice was going to cost Stan Bowman and company much more than the annual $842,500 bargain after season's end when he would become a restricted free agent.

Welcome to the era of the salary cap, Blackhawks fans. It's meant to give the league a fighting chance against a dynasty, and offers a chance for players like Saad to strike it rich and lead a new team to the promised land after an apprenticeship with the best. Currently, that's what is important to Saad. What's important to the Hawks, in this inevitable aftermath, is what they received in return so as to continue to redefine what is "dynasty" after these collectively-bargained rules were set in place a decade ago.

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Jim Crago / Comments (2)

Bulls Mon Jun 29 2015

Meet the Newest Chicago Bulls Draft Pick

BullsThe Chicago Bulls made the smart move during the NBA draft June 25, in that they took the best player available. That player was 6-foot-11-inch power forward Bobby Portis from Arkansas. Going into this year's draft, fans had to be nervous about what the Bulls front office was going to do. Forget that they have a new coach and offensive strategy, we have covered that enough -- the real issue was whether general manager Gar Forman was going to go with his brain over his gut.

Forman has been known to be a bit of a homer when it comes to his draft picks. He will select guys he is familiar with, as opposed to what the team needs. Tony Snell and Cameron Bairstow both played at the University of New Mexico, where Forman used to be an assistant coach, and Forman was pretty tight with Doug McDermott's father Greg when they both worked at Iowa State. McDermott and Snell have been under-performing since joining the team and Bairstow was riding the pine pony for most of the 2014-2015 season, playing only 64 minutes. So you can see where some of the apprehension was coming from on draft night.

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Chris Zois / Comments (0)

Blackhawks Fri Jun 26 2015

Blackhawks Parade and Rally Another for the Ages

Chicago Blackhawks It was a thrilling ride the Hawks took us on the last two months, and it ended with a third Stanley Cup in six years, and the team's sixth overall in its history (that still seems way too low). After commissioner Gary Bettman awarded Duncan Keith his much-deserved Conn Smythe trophy and asked captain Jonathan Toews to come over to accept Lord Stanley, all that was left was the celebration.

For those who missed out on flooding the streets of Wrigleyville, or packing into those trendy downtown nightclubs, which now hang the iconic Blackhawks logo, there was to be yet another celebration for all on Thursday, June 18, rain or shine. Unfortunately, too much rain forced the city to hold the rally at Soldier Field; however, despite the lack of space to pack hundreds of thousands in attendance, the impromptu event seemingly ran efficiently.

Local photographer Joshua Mellin beautifully captured some of the images from the Hawks' rally. So even if you weren't able to make the party of the year, Joshua's images will put you front and center.

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Jim Crago / Comments (0)

Bulls Wed Jun 24 2015

Draft is Key to Bulls' Future Success

BullsThe NBA Draft may not have the same hype as its counterpart in the NFL, but it is the linchpin for NBA teams' futures. A solid selection during the draft can have a lot more impact than signing an aging free agent or swapping for a one-year rental at the trade deadline. For the Chicago Bulls, this year's draft on June 25 could be the blueprint for their future.

The Bulls are in a quasi-transitional phase. Their core group of players remain intact, but they have a rookie coach and a new offensive strategy to implement in the coming year. Coach Fred Hoiberg has signed up for an interesting adventure. He has inherited a team that has very little salary cap wiggle room and a roster of war-torn veterans and unproven sophomore players. Hoiberg won't have the luxury of chasing a big free agent signings like Kawhi Leonard or Marc Gasol, so it is important that he and the front office are smart in Brooklyn.

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Chris Zois / Comments (1)

White Sox Thu Jun 18 2015

No Offense, but the White Sox Can't Hit

Chicago White SoxWhen you sit and think about it, it's perfect that the White Sox are 28-37. They have the talent to be much better, but in reality, the Sox should be much worse.

The team's Pythagorean win-loss record 24-41 and the Sox's run differential is negative-69. The problem has been twofold: The defense has been awful, ranking last in Baseball Prospectus's Defensive Efficiency. That has marred the pitching: The defense has bumped Chris Sale from excellent to just great, Jose Quintana and Carlos Rodon from good to average and John Danks from potentially feisty to dreadful. Jeff Samardzija hasn't gotten any help from his fielders, either.

But the offense has been just as abysmal.

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Mike Chamernik / Comments (0)

Bulls Thu Jun 18 2015

Hoiberg's Coaching Staff Coming Together for the Bulls

BullsFred Hoiberg's coaching staff is slowly coming together as the Bulls have officially hired Jim Boylen as associate head coach. Boylen is no novice to the game -- he's coached at both the college and pro levels for more than 30 years.

Hoiberg has expressed his desire to add a seasoned veteran to his coaching staff. Boylen meets all those requirements and Hoiberg expressed his enthusiasm for the new associate head coach.

"I am very excited to add Jim to our staff as our associate head coach,'' Hoiberg said in a statement released by the team. "His track record speaks for itself with nearly 30 years of coaching experience and three NBA championships on his resume."

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Chris Zois / Comments (0)

Blackhawks Tue Jun 16 2015

Blackhawks Win Third Stanley Cup in Six Years

Chicago Blackhawks As the Blackhawks stood in line last June to shake hands with the Los Angeles Kings after dropping a Game 7 thriller at home, each player who remained wanted to do whatever possible to erase that memory from their mind, and make it right for a fan base which had grown tenfold.

Repeating as champs in any sport is the toughest thing there is to do; repeating as champs in a salary-cap era is nearly impossible. The Hawks had managed to win two in its cap era, but the Kings matched that feat after wiping through the Rangers in last year's Final.

After a long offseason, a series of ups and downs throughout the regular season, and a rather erratic start to the postseason, the Blackhawks -- period by period, game by game -- began to erase that memory. And then, finally, just as the skies opened from up above the city and unleashed a torrential downpour before Game 6, the Hawks washed away all memories from a year ago, and eventually shook hands on the very same spot, but this time as Stanley Cup champs -- now its third in the last six years.

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Jim Crago / Comments (0)

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