Tuesday, July 29

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Cubs Tue Jul 29 2014

The Process of Promoting the Top Cubs Prospects

Cubs_200.pngEvery time Theo Epstein or Jed Hoyer has a microphone or camera on them, they're asked when the Cubs will be promoting their top prospects. It's inevitable, considering the rampant success that guys like Kris Bryant have had all season, and Javier Baez is experiencing with a recent hot streak. Don't forget the man-child that is Jorge Soler, either.

The recent promotion and prosperity of Arismendy Alcantara has only added to the buzz of when the next piece of the Cubs future will be debuting at Wrigley Field.

The process, however, is not as simple as making a phone call and flying a guy to O'Hare. A lot more goes into the call-up of a prospect to the big leagues.

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Chad Ruter / Comments (1)

Fire Thu Jul 24 2014

In Battle of Disasters, Earthquakes Trump Fire

Chicago Fire soccerLast night's game was one rife with before and after. Frank Yallop, before becoming the head coach of the Chicago Fire, was the head coach of the San Jose Earthquakes. Marc Watson, before becoming the head coach of the San Jose Earthquakes, was Frank Yallop's Assistant Coach. Jon Busch, before becoming the starting goalkeeper for the Quakes, was the starting goalkeeper for the Chicago Fire. Before the game, both teams were struggling against irrelevancy in rebuilding seasons, with Chicago sitting 7th in the 10-team Eastern Conference, having managed only 20 points over 18 games; and San Jose sitting in 9th place in the 9-team Western Conference, having earned just 17 points in 17 games.

Both teams, however, have seemed not terribly concerned about the speed with which they arrive at the after of their current situation. And before tonight this game would have looked like a bit of a cakewalk for the Fire, traipsing into Buck Shaw Stadium and nabbing 3 points from a team on what had already been a 5 game winless streak. Add to that the loss of San Jose player Steven Lenhart, a late scratch from the lineup, and the team looked to be playing from the back foot even before kickoff.

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Benjamin Cannon / Comments (0)

White Sox Thu Jul 24 2014

White Sox's Quintana Earns Good Ratings

Sox_200.pngThough a late Royals push ruined it, and some managerial decisions by Robin Ventura overshadowed it, Jose Quintana had yet another fantastic outing for the White Sox yesterday afternoon.

Always a quality pitcher for the Sox, Quintana has raised his game to another level this season. The lefty starter has a 3.23 ERA and a 123 ERA-plus this season, both career highs. Just over the last month, Quintana has a 1.77 ERA and has held opponents to a .489 OPS in his last six starts. This has been big for a Sox team that's still lurking just under .500 and is searching for pitching from people other than Chris Sale.

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Mike Chamernik / Comments (0)

Fire Wed Jul 23 2014

Chicago Fire: In The Wake of the World Cup

Chicago Fire soccerThe 2014 World Cup is dead.

It has been nearly a fortnight since Germany's triumph over Argentina in Brazil, where they claimed their fourth title, their first as a unified nation, and became the first European team to win a Cup in South America. For those who followed the tournament closely this past month and a half consumed most, if not all, waking life, often stealing into the land of dreams along the way. Time seemingly slipped out of gear, running in slow motion for the length of the tournament, causing 30 days to feel easily 2-3 times as long. This can be chalked up to the volume of games played, which at one point was as high as four matches in a single day, but is also attributable to a phenomenon known as stress-induced slow motion perception. This persistent action and observation has had an effect not unlike that of being in a near-miss accident, or partaking in any other such adrenaline-surging activity.

The aforementioned phenomenon is one that we've heard countless times, where individuals recount that, during a time when their fight-or-flight instincts kick in, they experience the sensation that time has slowed down, whereby affording them the clarity that they would otherwise lack in an everyday situation. It has been debunked, alas, by Baylor neuroscientist David Eagleman through some very interesting science involving devices known as perceptual chronometers and participants being dropped in free-fall from 150 ft. The basic idea behind the feeling of slow-motion lies in the amygdala, which ends up gathering much more information about the situation than usual. When the event is over the recollection of how time passed turns out to be skewed. Just as increasing the film speed on a camera causes the images to play back in slow motion, so too does the storing of these extra memories, rendering the recollection to last longer, each detail more pronounced.

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Benjamin Cannon / Comments (0)

Cubs Tue Jul 22 2014

The Cubs Most Likely To Get Traded Before July 31st

Cubs_200.pngThe Cubs have already pulled the trigger on their big trade this year, dealing 40 percent of their starting rotation to Oakland in exchange for Billy Beane's top two prospects. But in what Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein expect to be the last year the Cubs will be obvious sellers at the deadline, there are still players of value with a good chance of being moved on or before July 31st.

Below you'll find a list of which Cubs players are most likely to see their chances at winning a title this season drastically increase with a new address. One guy you won't see on there is Starlin Castro -- despite the rumors that teams (the Mets being the most interested) are interested in acquiring the shortstop enjoying a bounce-back season. Every player has a price in the front office's mind, but the chances of any other team meeting the cost of a 24-year-old shortstop that is fourth in the majors in weighted on base average at his position is so miniscule that it's not worth wasting column space (and your time) discussing the possibility.

And as much as you want to see him go, Edwin Jackson won't be selling his home in Chicago anytime soon. The Cubs would have to pay a significant portion of the remaining $22 million Jackson is owed in 2015 and 2016, and I don't see the team doing that for a minimal return. He's not going anywhere.

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Chad Ruter / Comments (0)

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)

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