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Bulls Tue Apr 22 2014

A Well Deserved Honor For Joakim Noah

Bulls_200.pngSo many questions arise during awards season when it comes to the NBA. Should the MVP go to the best player (LeBron James), or to the guy who had the best season (Kevin Durant)? Should the Most Improved Player award go to a star becoming the superstar, or any random player that made a huge leap statistically from the year before? Should we just name the Coach of the Year trophy after Greg Popovich to make up for the fact that he's only won the dang thing three times (he's getting it this year)?

One award that didn't have a question attached to it this year was Defensive Player of the Year. Joakim Noah locked down 100 of the 125 first place votes to become the first Bulls player to win the DPOY since Michael Jordan won it in the 1987-88 season. Scottie Pippen never winning the award is an absolute crime, but that's an entirely different column.

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Chad Ruter / Comments (0)

Blackhawks Tue Apr 22 2014

Crawford Spectacular In Blackhawks Win Against Blues

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png It's no secret Corey Crawford receives a lot of unwanted and unnecessary criticism with the way he performs in between the pipes for the Hawks. Sure, the occasional softy floats by in the middle of December, or perhaps he's exposed on his glove side from time to time. But regardless of your thoughts on the Hawks' starter, he shows up when needed and he's a far cry away from what used to be in town.

It's fun for fans of the opposing team to chant "CRAW-FORD! CRAW-FORD!" in other towns, only because the cadence fits. But when you have a goaltender stop 34 shots in what pretty much was a must-win game against the St. Louis Blues, it's hard not to root for a guy who fights off more shots his way in criticism than pucks.

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Jim Crago / Comments (0)

Bicycling Tue Apr 22 2014

Chicago College Students, Grab Your Bike for Bike2Campus Week

b2campus_week.jpgBy Nick Wright

If you're a college student in Chicago who bikes to campus, this is your week to shine. Don't ride much, or at all? Air up the tires of that Schwinn 10-speed, or grab a Divvy bike. It's Bike2Campus Week.

During this week (April 21-25), Bike2Campus Week is part collegiate competition, part challenge that encourages students from ten local colleges and universities to use two wheels for trips to and from class. At the end of the week, the school with the highest participation percentage will earn a winning title. Prizes, too! The top pedaler at each campus gets a one-year Divvy membership, and the top rider overall earns a four-year Divvy membership with his or her photo featured on divvybikes.com.

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Tailgate / Comments (0)

Fire Mon Apr 21 2014

Fire Tie Record For Ties In Mirror Image Thriller

GB fire icon.pngSoccer has many emotional states, from chest-gripping anxiety to tear-streaming elation, but few are as complicated as the sour relief of a draw. It is a mark to show that your team is a worthy contender, but it also makes very clear that you're only so much of a contender.What is it about a draw in sports that is so frightening to Americans? As the saying goes, a tie is "like kissing your sister." Is it really so bad? Granted the phrase is a bit dated, initially attributed to Navy football coach Eddie Erdelatz in 1953, but it is still in use today. So do we really think it is akin to this act of familial frenching? In taking a look at a recent baseball game we can see that yes, the fear is real still. On April 3rd the Cubs played a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates for nearly six hours in search of a win. In fact, under the rules of Major League Baseball, a game may call it a night at 1:00am local time and resume the following day simply to avoid this deadlock. The longest game in MLB was played in such a scenario here in Chicago at Comiskey Park, spanning 25 innings, two days, and over 8 hours of play in total. And this is a sport which plays 162 games a year. So, like kissing one's own sibling, you say? Not nearly.

A draw is an interesting space, between win and loss, between agony and ecstasy, it is the purgatory of the sports world. And yet in the sport of soccer it is not only an acceptable result, but a strategically important one as well. This is because, unlike other sports domestic, there is not just a binary in place for a season record. For a win, three points are awarded, for ties a single point, and a loss results in zero points; standings are determined based on those point totals.

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Benjamin Cannon / Comments (0)

Blackhawks Mon Apr 21 2014

Poor Defense And Seabrook Hit Costly For Blackhawks

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png Coming into the first-round series against the St. Louis Blues, the Hawks preached how it was important not to fall into the trap of getting too frustrated against a tough team. During the 2013 championship season, and all throughout this last regular season, the Hawks were successful by way of outskating and outshooting their opponents, which more times than not led to a victory or, at the very least, a point.

Since last Thursday night's opener against the Blues, there have been costly obscene gestures, a brutal hit by Brent Seabrook on David Backes, which will cost him the next three games, multiple penalty kills -- all of which have contributed to an 0-2 series deficit. And while the Hawks seem a little out of sorts in falling into the Blues' style of play, it's their inability to close -- a problem they've had all season -- that has Hawks fans asking if this actually is their year.

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Jim Crago / Comments (0)

Bulls Fri Apr 18 2014

Nobody Wants to Play the Bulls - Can You Blame Them?

Bulls_200.pngThe Eastern Conference was host to a lot of tanking this season -- mainly racing to see who could get the most ping pong ball combinations on draft lottery night. But in the last few days of the season, playoff bound teams started losing like crazy too.

With a shot at the East's top seed still within their grasp, the Heat decided LeBron James and Chris Bosh should "rest" in their penultimate game, ceding home court advantage throughout the Eastern Conference to the Indiana Pacers (who are 35-6 at home and just 21-20 on the road). By sliding to the two spot, the Heat avoided a possible date with the Bulls until the conference finals.

Not to be outdone, the Brooklyn Nets were lining up perfectly for a first round slugfest with the Bulls with a week left to go in the season. Then came a "stunning" collapse in the final five games. Losses to Orlando, Atlanta, New York (without Carmelo) and Cleveland dropped Jason Kidd's team to the six seed, and a first round date with Toronto instead.

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Chad Ruter / Comments (0)

White Sox Fri Apr 18 2014

Eaton Rises and Grinds for the White Sox

Sox_200.pngLast night, with two men on in the sixth inning and the White Sox down by a run, Adam Eaton demonstrated why White Sox fans are so fond of him.

Eaton hit a little squibber up the first base line. After a moment of hesitation by the Red Sox defense (a runner was heading home on the play), first baseman Mike Napoli flipped the ball over to pitcher Jon Lester, who was running to cover first. Routine play... but Eaton, hustling the whole way, beat Lester to the bag for an infield single.

The new Sox centerfielder has been doing this since he joined the team. This is what he does, this is the type of player he is. He's been characterized as a "grinder," someone who plays the game the right way and someone who exerts maximum effort every moment he's on the baseball field.

Eaton is shaping up to be more than just a grinder for the Sox this year, though.

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Mike Chamernik / Comments (0)

Blackhawks Thu Apr 17 2014

Blackhawks and Blues Preview: Round 1

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png It seems a little surreal that the NHL playoffs are set to begin, considering how quickly the Blackhawks arrived here after an even more surreal ending to last season. But nevertheless, the postseason is upon us and head coach Joel Quenneville's squad is set to open the first round in St. Louis against the Blues at the Scottrade Center for Game 1.

The Hawks finished the season 46-21-15 at 107 points, which earned them the fourth-best point total in the Western Conference, a rather surprising position considering they were the second-highest scoring team in the league with 3.18 goals per game and twelfth in goals against with 2.58.

By comparison, the Blues were seventh in the league in scoring at 2.92 goals per game and third at goals against per game at 2.29. But all that matters now is which team will hold it together and stay consistent over a longer period of games that either could go as quickly as five or as grueling as seven

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Jim Crago / Comments (0)

White Sox Wed Apr 16 2014

The Joys of an Empty Sox Park

Sox_200.pngJust when I was about to head out the door to go to yesterday's White Sox game, I checked Twitter and saw some bad news. The club shut down the upper deck because of the blustery weather conditions. Cheapskates stay home! While the cancellation did save me from potential frostbite and certain discomfort - oh, and $7, too - it robbed me of one of my favorite experiences.

The Sox have had trouble filling the stadium in the early season. Not counting Opening Day and Saturday's afternoon game against the Indians (75-degree temps and a fleece blanket giveaway), the Sox are pulling in about 13,000 fans per game. The weather has been bad and the opponents haven't been too exciting, but 13,000 is pretty lackluster. That's bordering on Montreal Expos territory.

Yet I was still excited to go to the game Tuesday, mainly because the park would be empty. Am I a maniac? A psychopath? Not only was I going to this game alone (and I was considering keeping score, too!) but I actually enjoy being one of 10,000 fans at Sox games instead of one of 40,000. For a run-of-the-mill regular season game, at least.

I have a bunch of reasons why I cherish a deserted US Cellular Field. Other than my own introverted spirit, of course.

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Mike Chamernik / Comments (1)

Windy City Rollers Mon Apr 14 2014

Double Crossers, Manic Attackers to play for Windy City Rollers Home Championship

wcr-logo.png Windy City Rollers home teams the Manic Attackers and the Double Crossers both won Saturday and will face each other next month for the Ivy King Cup.

The Manic Attackers, who finished the regular season with an 0-3 record, beat last years home season champions The Fury 186-180. The Double Crossers, who were winless the previous three seasons, beat the Hell's Belles 271-242.

The Manics and the Double Crossers will play for the Ivy King Cup, awarded annually to the home season champion, on May 17.

Bill Mayeroff / Comments (0)

Chicago Mon Apr 14 2014

Inaugural Be The Match Starts Chicago In Right Direction

Finish.jpg It was a blustery spring morning on Saturday as more and more people approached the tent area at Montrose Harbor. The sun was beginning to peak out, and the warmest outdoor temperature since last October put a smile on everyone's face.

In all reality, the weather could have been 40 degrees with rain, but it wouldn't have mattered. A 5K run and 1K walk to benefit finding a cure for leukemia, lymphoma and other life-threatening diseases was about to start, and the warmth of community and togetherness provided enough energy to power the United Center.

In its inaugural event in Chicago, Be The Match, an organization that for over the past 25 years, has helped countless numbers of individuals find matches from donors, including, according to it's website, 61,000 marrow and cord blood transplants and nearly 6,300 transplants a year. And what better way to help spread awareness of such a program than a healthy stroll on the city's north side.

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Jim Crago / Comments (0)

Fire Fri Apr 11 2014

On Poetry and Soccer in April

GB fire icon.pngIn these United States April is designated National Poetry Month, perhaps a cheeky nod to T.S. Eliot's denunciation of it as "the cruellest month," though too because no single month inspires as much introspection as that positioned between winter's abject brutalism and summer's all-encompassing hedonism. What more does the soul need than to sound its barbaric yawp as the western hemisphere transitions, shaking off the hoary frost of hibernation, pining for the summer past and spring to come. Flowers are yet but firm seeds, suffused with potential in the dusky loam; the rains fall, ceaseless and grey, upon a huddled populace; and Major League Soccer is like a toddler exploring an orange for the first time, struggling to get beyond the bitter rind, inside which lies a brilliant, bright treasure. Fingernails digging in hard flesh, the squish of juice underneath singing sweet, sticky songs of summers yet to come.

Which is to say that play is slow-going these days. Here in the city of wind, home to both the Poetry Foundation and the Chicago Fire Soccer Club, we are especially suited to enjoy the marriage of these two art forms, often cherished the world over but little embraced at home. The obvious among us may come to the simple conclusion that they are linked because the sport of soccer, reductively referred to daily as 'the beautiful game,' is poetry in motion. It is not. In fact, that is a phrase that has long since lost all meaning by sheer dint of repetition, though American society has a way of doing that at an accelerated pace anymore.

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Benjamin Cannon / Comments (0)

Blackhawks Fri Apr 11 2014

Kane and Toews Prepare for Return to Blackhawks

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png With just two games remaining on the Blackhawks' regular season schedule, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews continue to recover from their respective injuries (Kane: lower-body injury; Toews: upper-body injury) in preparation for the postseason and defense of the Stanley Cup.

Not since 2007 has the team been without both stars for an extended period of time. But thankfully with the steady play of Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp and Duncan Keith, not to mention the emergence of Ben Smith and Jeremy Morin, the Hawks have rattled off four wins in a row (one in OT, a 3-2 winner over the Montreal Canadiens), and now await either the Colorado Avalanche or St. Louis Blues in the first round of divisional play.

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Jim Crago / Comments (0)

White Sox Fri Apr 11 2014

Garcia Out For Year, Still In Our Hearts

Sox_200.pngThe season is only a week and a half old, but already we've seen some good things out of the White Sox group of young guys. Jose Abreu is tearing the cover off of the ball, Adam Eaton is hustling his way into our hearts and Chris Sale has been, well, Chris Sale. So far, so good.

For the most part. A day after having his best game of the (super, super, super) young season, Avisail Garcia tore the labrum in his left shoulder and will miss the rest of the year. Ugh. He was one of the guys to watch on this White Sox team and not having him around will be depressing.

Garcia was acquired last year in the Jake Peavy trade and the soon-to-be 23-year-old was a good get in that transaction. He may struggle with plate discipline but he hits the ball. He was a top Tigers prospect for a few years, and was half decent with the Sox over the last two months of the season (.775 OPS, five homers in 42 games).

What else is notable about Garcia's injury? A few things.

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Mike Chamernik / Comments (0)

Cubs Tue Apr 08 2014

Cubs Don't Need Aces For Future Success

Cubs_200.pngOne worry floating around about Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer's plan is that they haven't been able to secure a front-of-the-rotation starter up to this point through drafts, trading, or the international market. Sure, C.J. Edwards (the highest ranked pitcher in the Cubs system) is thought of by some to have ace potential, but he'd need to add about 40 pounds before anyone starts taking him that seriously.

Knowing this weakness, the focus during the last two winters has been finding a young starting pitcher on the free agent market who has the potential to be around (and still successful) when the likes of Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Arismendy Alcantara and Albert Almora are all ready for the big stage. But they've come up short in the bidding on both Anibal Sanchez and Masahiro Tanaka.

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Chad Ruter / Comments (0)


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