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Thursday, March 21

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Cycling Fri Jan 30 2009

Not quite Hoogerheide

Turin Bicycle (1027 Davis St., Evanston) invites all comers to the shop 7 AM on Sunday, February 1, to catch the Men's Cyclocross World Championship on the shop's massive plasma TV. Bagels, coffee and donuts are promised and the muddy, sandy, grueling action on TV will cause most viewers to dream back to their own experiences just a few months ago.

Watch for regional riders such as Wisconsin's own Bjorn Selander on the under-23 squad, and Brian Matter, who is racing Elites.

Zach Thomas

News Fri Jan 30 2009

Short Hops

  • First, there was Barack Obama in the White House. Now there's Pat Quinn in the State House. Politically speaking, White Sox Nation just keeps getting bigger.

  • Speaking of the Sox, as SoxFest kicks off this weekend, Ozzie Guillen says the team will try "small ball"... again. And will Joe Crede join former Sox teammate Juan Uribe in Frisco? His potential replacement, Josh Fields, is wasting no time just in case he does.

  • Detroit WR Mike agent QB Chris Simms (son of Phil)...Super Bowl starter Kurt Warner...all rumored to be on the Bears radar. Really?

  • Does Richard Dent REALLY need someone to go to the NFL Hall of Fame committee and plead his case?

  • This is THE weekend for the Windy City Rollers, as they make their UIC Pavilion debut.

  • But don't forget to show some love to the city's other roller derby queens, The Outfit, as they host a benefit party tonight.

  • You'd think getting punched in the face and crotch, sometimes at the same time, would be high on the pain scale for a UFC star. But for one Hammond, Ind., there's something more painful: being a Cubs fan.

  • Speaking of the Cubs, they're reportedly still talking about dealing Rich Hill to the Orioles.

  • Unlike their Washington, D.C. counterparts, CPS phys ed students keep it going even in below-zero weather.

  • The Sky needs your help in sending some of their players to the Euroleague All-Star Game.

  • Wanna buy a toboggan?

Ken Green

Blackhawks Tue Jan 27 2009

Midyear Marks for the Hawks

Tomorrow sees the unofficial start to the 2nd half of the Blackhawks season (the actual halfway point was the Jan. 16 game against the Rangers), as the team begins a season-high 8 game, 3-week road trip through the Western U.S. and Canada, as well as Atlanta and St. Louis before returning home for a Valentine's Day battle with the Dallas Stars.
While the grueling stretch will be a test for one of the league's youngest teams, after losing their last 2 home games before the All-Star break, it could also provide a chance to refocus and build a stronger team identity for the upcoming playoff run.

In fact, with only 2 of their next 14 games at the United Center and an 11-8-3 road record (compared to 14-4-5 at home), the next month could very well determine not only the team's postseason seed, but whether they make the playoffs at all. Though the Hawks currently sit at fourth in the conference with 58 points, only 7 points seperates them from the 8th spot. An extended losing streak could put the team in the thick of the race come March.

Cutting through the feel-good story of the hockey's resurgence in Chicago and the hype of the Winter Classic, here's a chance to take a look at exactly what went right and wrong for the Hawks in the first half of the season.

Continue reading this entry »

Jeremy Piniak

White Sox Tue Jan 27 2009

Sox Give Tip of The Cap To Obama (Again)

obamacap.jpgYou own the coins, the plates and even the lava lamp. Now let Barack Obama sit on your head. Well, not actually. But the White Sox are making it sort of easy with plans to unveil a new Obama commemorative cap, to salute their No. 1 and clearly most powerful fan. The team has created two designs and both have been approved by Major League Baseball. Now they only have to get The O Man himself to give it his thumbs up. No word on when the "golden" Blagojevich Cubs hat will be unveiled.

Ken Green

Cubs Mon Jan 26 2009

Cubs Clash Contractually With Under Armour

Before the 2007 season the Chicago Cubs reached an agreement with Under Armour for the sporting apparel company to place their logo on the gates of the outfield wall in Wrigley's heretofore advertising free and virgin insides. Now after two seasons of the campaign it seems that Under Armour wants out of the deal and that the Cubs want them to stick around, so badly, in fact, that the Cubs, or, excuse me, the "Chicago National Ball League Club, Inc.," as the US District Court Case refers to the franchise, are suing. Understandably, with the worldwide economic downturn, Under Armour maybe wants to save up that yearly 2 million a year for something slightly more practical than two logos within the Friendly Confines. And really is it such a bad thing for the fans and baseball purists to have Wrigley resort back to its pure and clean ivy walls?

Brian Lauvray

Blackhawks Mon Jan 26 2009

Hey Now, You're An All-Star...

Blackhawk wunderkinds Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, along with fellow Hawk Brian Campbell did the team proud in this weekend's NHL All-Star Game in Montreal, with each scoring a point in a defense-thin contest. Kane had a goal and an assist, while Toews scored and Campbell had an assist as the East bet the West 12-11. If the team has their way, the trio could be performing the same All-Star performance on their home ice. The Hawks have put in their bid to host the contest in 2012 and with the way their stock is rising (particularly after the rave reviews of their game at Wrigley Field on January 1), they stand a good chance of winning the bidding. Meanwhile, here's some video of Kane competing in the NHL Skills Competition, Breakway Challenge portion.

Ken Green

News Fri Jan 23 2009

Short Hops

  • Trouble at local high school basketball games means new rules for fans and players
  • It's never to early to start thinking marathon
  • Try as they might, the Utah Jazz still can't get over the damage done to them by Michael Jordan and the Bulls
  • Step away from the italian beef: Chicago has a goal of going from the fattest to the fittest city in the country
  • No, smelt fishing doesn't involve taking a good, long whiff. It's a Chicago thing.
  • Taking a cue from their No. 1 Fan, the White Sox are issuing a call to social service
  • A Libertyville native gets a chance to play with (the) Fire.
  • That commercial with LeBron James dreaming of playing fo the Cleveland Browns? What if some of our local non-football athletes had the same dream?
  • A charity stair climbing event takes place this Sunday at the 80-floor Aon Center. Around floor 57, just keep telling yourself, "It's for the kids, it's for the kids..."

Ken Green

Cycling Thu Jan 22 2009

Frost Fun

If your heart, like mine, still pines for the joys and pains of cyclocross, in Madison, Wisconsin, on February 15 sweet relief comes in the form of "Cyclo Frost," a cyclocross race held on the final day of the Madison Winter Festival. And before one complains about the driving distance to Madison, just consider that you can come home with some New Glarus to make the trip all the worthwhile

Big Shoulders Realty hosts its final bike neighborhood tours with the Tour de Portage Park on January 31, and the Vuelta a Albany Park on Saturday, February 28. The tours start at 1:00 PM on both dates and all that is required is a bike, helmet and warm clothes. Click here for more information, including starting points and updates.

At this point in the winter, bikes regularly out in the snow are likely covered in salt and crud, creaking and grinding with each pedal stroke. This weather is tough on bikes, and maintenance tends to slide when you resign yourself to the indisputable fact that "It's only gonna get dirty again the second I take it outside." And we all know that's the wrong attitude to have, but can you blame us. Repent this Wednesday, January 28 at 7:00 PM at West Town Bikes with the Bike Winter Basics class. E-mail Lauren Sailor or Martin Hazard to RSVP or with questions.

Zach Thomas

Roller Derby Tue Jan 20 2009

Windy City Rollers' Season Opener: Jan. 31

Have you been cruisin' for a bruisin', but prefer to watch someone take the pummeling? Well, lucky you, the Windy City Rollers are kicking off their fifth season with a bout on Saturday, January 31. This date will mark their first regular-season event at their new venue, the UIC Pavilion.

Last year was a great one for WCR -- the Hell's Belles were the 2008 Ivy King Cup champions, and the Windy City Rollers All-Stars, the league's away team, climbed to the number two spot in the nation. The January date will pit the Manic Attackers against the Double Crossers and the Hell's Belles against The Fury -- in all, a booze 'n bruise good time.

Check online online for more ticket information.

Kara Luger

Fire Tue Jan 20 2009

Offseason News

One week in and I'm already going to interrupt my usual round-up of drinking in bars and watching foreign soccer to bring you a round-up of several important offseason developments for the Chicago Fire over the past week.

Farewell to the Captain
In a surprising development, Assistant Coach Chris Armas announced he was stepping down from his post to be closer to his family in New York. Armas has been with the organization since it started, first as a player, then captain, and then as an Assistant Coach. I like to think even though he's leaving; a part of him will always be with the club. Hopefully, he'll get inducted into the Ring of Fire this year. That lineup has decent management, a good sweeper, a playmaker and some strikers, but could really use a no-nonsense, tough tackling midfielder. More importantly, the fans just need a chance to thank the guy for everything he's given us. Wherever Armas lands, (and let's hope it's not the New York Red Bulls for Armas's sake) , he'll continue to be a credit to the US Soccer community.

Continue reading this entry »

Steve Gillies / Comments (1)

Blackhawks Tue Jan 20 2009

Havlat makes one fan happy

Although the Blackhawks were lackluster in a 4-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild at the United Center last night, one fan walked away with a smile on his face and a million dollars richer (sadly, it wasn't me).

The Illinois Lottery recently began a promotion wherein one fan is selected for the "Million Dollar Minute." If the Hawks score at exactly the 10:00 mark of the 2nd period, the fan wins a million dollars, otherwise, the selected section of the arena gets a free scratch off ticket.
The odds seemed pretty good for the Illinois lottery, though I'm no math major to figure out the exact chance of this happening.

But lo and behold, in I think only the third time the promotion was trotted out, Martin Havlat took the puck in the slot and rifled a wrist shot past Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom at the 10:00 minute mark. It was the lone bright spot in a game where the Hawks found themselves stifled by Minnesota's defensive system and unable to get many scoring chances.

The Blackhawks have been in a bit of an offensive slump lately, as this was the fifth time in the last 7 games they were held to two goals or less, and their record is a rather pedestrian 5-4-1 since the Winter Classic. With an upcoming 8-game road trip starting next week, tomorrow's game against the Blues is an opportune time for the offense to heat back up before heading into this weekend's All Star break.

For the fan, who will be introduced before the start of the game tomorrow at the United Center, his luck already appears to be white hot.

Jeremy Piniak

Basketball Tue Jan 20 2009

Ready For Tip-Off

Now that the inauguration of "Chicago's President" (the Sun-Times' declaration, not ours) is a part of history, it's time to take one last look at the sports influence the new commander-in-chief will have, including a website dedicated to his basketball jones, the "everyman" status his love of sports gives him, his (alleged) similarities to the new coach of FC Barcelona, the sports celebrities who took part in the inauguration, his status as the next in a long line of athletic presidents, a not-so-flattering piece that suggests that the sports angle on Obama is counterproductive and how one Chicago-bred hoopster (not Obama) is reacting to the day of history.

To close, an Obama basketblal re-mix:

Ken Green

Baseball Sat Jan 17 2009

Baseball and Barack

Much has been made of the role sports has played in Four-Days-From-Being-President Barack Obama's life, most notably the sport of basketball. From his days as a prep player in Hawaii, to his love of pick-up games around the country, to his penchant for picking cabinet members with a hoops background, Obama is becoming synonymous with basketball.

But in his New York Times column, writer George Vecsey makes a case for baseball as a defining factor in Obama's ascention to the White House. No, not Obama as baseball player or even avid fan, but Obama as benefitting from the social gains established by baseball before becoming a regular part of the larger society.

No surprise that Vecsey points to the Brooklyn Dodgers as the team that deserves the most credit in the sport for helping to pave the way for Obama. Yeah, it smacks of typical New York City bias, but he makes a good case for the Dodger influence on history, citing Roy Campanella, Don Newcomb and, of course, Jackie Robinson as part of the reason why the Obamas were able to make the journey from Chicago to Washington, D.C.

Basketball may be his game, but for Barack Obama, baseball's influence on his life may go far beyond his well-worn White Sox cap.

Ken Green

News Fri Jan 16 2009

Short Hops

  • Remember when the Chicago Cardinals were the toast of the town? Neither do we. Here's some footage to show you what the big deal was.
  • Barack Obama is a continuation in a long like of athletically-active presidents, although we're pretty sure that list doesn't include Taft. Wait, we take that back.
  • Albert Belle, Dennis Rodman, A.J. Pierzinski... we're fast becoming the home for athletes that rub everyone else the wrong way. So why NOT Terrell Owens?
  • Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija is getting used to sudden fame...
  • ...while fellow Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano nearly breaks a water cooler over the CTA fare increase (OK, not really).
  • Sox fans, the Twins are retooling for an AL Central title and just might used Joe Crede to do it.
  • Study of Sports analyzes the Sox-Bartolo Colon deal and raises the issue of the "S" word ("S" being steroids).
  • Bleacher Report lists the 10 most annoying type of fans. Did you make the cut?
  • Despite a struggling economy, the Chicago Red Stars have sold 1,000 season tickets for their inaugural women's professional soccer season. Granted, season tickets are only $99, but still...
  • Martin Luther Knig Holiday Weekend prep hoops action includes the High School Hoops Showdown and the MLK Dream Classic at Whitney Young, where you just might see some of the top 40 area players.
  • Winter cornhole league play kicks off at Joe's on Weeds Street, with proceeds benefitting the Chicago Cornhole Charity Initiatitve. Yeah, you read it right.
  • Like father, like... daughter? Brittney Payton, daughter of Walter, tries out for the Chicago Force.

Ken Green

Cycling Wed Jan 14 2009

Winter Bike to Work

I don't know who's tougher: the cyclist charging down the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix or the Chicagoan who bundles-up and braves this misery in order to commute to work by bike. One is paid to ride a bike, the other not, but both are dedicated, insane, and a true "hardman" or "hardwoman."

In a celebration of the latter, on January 20, bike commuters will congregate on Daley Plaza from 6:30-9:30 A.M. for Winter Bike to Work Day, with hot chocolate and Eli's cheesecake, and remember the coldest day in Chicago history, when the thermometers at O'Hare registered a brittle negative 27 degrees. The event is sponsored by the Active Transportation Alliance. The event is free.

Zach Thomas / Comments (1)

Tue Jan 13 2009

Wanted: Bossy Athletic Type

If you've ever wanted to yell orders at a group of sweaty roller-skating women, here's your chance! The Windy City Rollers All-Stars , the WCR away team, is looking for a new coach. The All-Stars, who are currently ranked #2 in the country, need someone who will be committed to improving the quality and skill of the team. Ideally, this person shall prove a vast knowledge in quad skating, fitness, and roller derby game play, theory, and strategy.

It's a voluntary position, but all travel expenses will be reimbursed. Application deadline is February 1, and the start date is February 9. Interested? Submit a resume and relevant coaching experience to Ava "Georgia on Yer Behind" Williamson,

Kara Luger

Soccer Tue Jan 13 2009

Watching Soccer in Bars: The Abbey Pub

Even with the MLS in its offseason, the great thing about being a soccer fan (and the awful thing about dating a soccer fan, according to some) is that it's always soccer season somewhere. And in Chicago there is no shortage of bars to watch a game and have a beer, even if the game kicks off at six in the morning. I'll be spending the rest of the offseason filling you in on the various places to check out games.

The Place:
Mostly known as a music venue, The Abbey Pub was one of the few places that advertised live English Premier League soccer when I moved to Chicago back in 2000. I caught a great day of World Cup Qualifying there in 2001 with the entire music room filled with Polish and English fans going mental. Since then, it's been eclipsed first by Ginger's Ale House and then The Globe. But I thought it would be a good idea to check in on the first soccer bar I visited in town, since I hadn't heard much about it lately.

The Match:
Chelsea vs Manchester United, two of the "Big Four" teams in the English Premier League

The Atmosphere:
When I opened the door, I could see why nobody has been talking about the place in years. For one of the biggest games of the season, there were a grand total of eight people in the bar. While the low-key, locals only vibe was a bit intimidating, it was refreshing to walk into a bar to watch a soccer game that wasn't completely packed with people in $80 replica jerseys, trying to advertise just how into soccer they were. The closest anyone at the Abbey came to that was a tasteful polo shirt - well, I'd call it tasteful if it weren't for the fact that it featured a Manchester United logo. Everyone in the bar spoke with a thick Irish accent, except that one mainstay of every soccer bar I've ever been to: the middle aged American guy that doesn't know a lot about soccer, but is really just excited there's a bar to drink in at ten in the morning.

The Food/The Booze:
If you don't consider baked beans a part of a nutritious balanced breakfast you're out of luck. That's all The Abbey serves in the way of breakfast. The full lunch menu is available though. Burgers for breakfast anyone? As for beer, there isn't anything too fancy here, with pints of Guinness or bottles of MGD being the poisons of choice.

The Smack Talk:

The good thing about being in a bar that is almost empty is you can hear all of the smack being talked. Like every other bar in the city, The Abbey has a noticeable lack of Chelsea support. But the Irish guy in the Manchester United shirt made his own fun, winding up a fan of Manchester United's title rival Liverpool. Popular topics included:

  • Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez's recent tirade about Manchester United coach Alex Ferguson

  • The fact that the scorer of Manchester United's second goal was Wayne Rooney, whose career started at Liverpool's crosstown rival, Everton, or "some guy from Liverpool," as he became known in the bar

  • The Liverpool fan's ardent desire to see a draw, since both teams couldn't possibly lose

  • That Chelsea striker Didier Drogba was a whining, moaning, diving cheater.

The bar's lone Chelsea fan did get one good line in though. "They need to bring back Avram Grant," he said as he got up to leave. It's actually a pretty funny line if you're nerdy enough to have followed the managerial soap opera at Chelsea since Russian oil billionaire (he might only be a millionaire now) Roman Abramovic took over. In my defense, it got a good laugh from the bar, which I badly needed after watching my team take such a miserable beating.

Steve Gillies / Comments (2)

Mon Jan 12 2009

The Various Merits of Joakim Noah

NBA-tastic blog, Wages of Wins, has a great post about the value of Joakim Noah as a Chicago Bull and his worth against other bigs from the '07 Draft. Using new --and I might add, better-- metrics, WoW presents the case for Noah as a counter to this column from Trib writer Rick Morrisey. Check it out and get your NBA knowledge on!

Brian Lauvray

Bulls Mon Jan 12 2009

Not a Bull Market

You can lose to the Lakers or the Cavaliers and no one will bat an eye. It's to be expected. You can lose to Atlanta or Detroit and people will point to your relative inexperience as an excuse.

But losing to Oklahoma City? Expansion Oklahoma City? 5-32 Oklahoma City? (Well, 6-32 now.) That's Suck Territory, boys and girls.

Yes, the Bulls managed to pull off that dubious feat, at home no less, Sunday night adding to a woeful stretch that included losing three of their last five and gettign booed by their own home crowd.

To be fair, the Oklahoma City Thunder aren't THAT bad. They do have Kevin Durant, sixth in the league in scoring. And they are in the middle of the pack in rebounding in the league, averaging 42 boards a game.

But this was a Bulls team that was supposed to be improving this season, thanks to the addition of Derrick Rose and veterans like Drew Gooden, to round out a roster that included Luol Deng, Kirk Hinrich and Ben Gordon.

They've looked like anything BUT an improved team in the past month. Granted a lot of that lackluster play can be attributed to injuries (to Deng and Hinrich) but injuried have had nothing to do with a lack of aggression under the boards (anyone seen Joakim Noah lately?) and selfish play. The cry now is that the team lacks leadership. Really? A team with three assigned captains is lacking leadership.

Hopefully the loss will be a wakeup call for the Bulls and neophyte coach Vinny Del Negro. They'll find out tonight when they take on the Portland Trail Blazers 22-14) tonight at the United Center.

Ken Green / Comments (2)

News Sat Jan 10 2009

Short Hops

Ken Green / Comments (1)

Fire Fri Jan 09 2009

Blanco To Return in 2009

Just got a press release saying that the Chicago Fire have extended Cuahtemoc Blanco's contract for another year. Most expected this to happen, but I was a little worried after his loan spell in Mexico. While there is an argument going around that the Fire could play a more fast-paced, counter-attacking brand of soccer without him, I think you have to consider this good news. Contract details are undisclosed - until the MLS Player's Union release salary information later this year.

Steve Gillies

Blackhawks Fri Jan 09 2009

Thawing Out

Now that I've recovered both from the Winter Classic and the extended holiday break schedule (sadly, my camera, which I intended to use to document both the New Year's Day game and my skate at Wrigley Jan. 4, did not survive unscathed due to the cold and a broken lens), it's time to get back to the nitty-gritty of Blackhawks news.

First, the games themselves, in case anyone reading missed. Following double Detroit losses at Joe Louis and the winter wonderland of Wrigley Field, the Hawks rebounded with a strong 5-2 win over the Northwest leading Calgary Flames Sunday, then pummelled Phoenix 6-0 in the desert. Leading scorer Patrick Kane sat out both games with a high ankle sprain suffered against Detroit, but returned last night in Colorado, where the Hawks 44 shots weren't enough to tickle the twine, losing 2-1 to the Avalanche.

Kane did receive good news this week, being named as a starter to the Jan. 25 All-Star game along with center Jonathon Toews and defenseman Brian Campbell. Starters were voted on by fans, and Kane was the top vote-getter in the Western Conference with 917,551 tallies. All-Star reserves were named Wednesday, and while Duncan Keith and Patrick Sharp are also deserving of a trip to Montreal, they were left off the rosters. With 3 Blackhawk players named starters, along with 3 members of the Anahim Ducks, there just wasn't enough extra spots due to league rules that all teams have at least one representative.

Other news announced New Year's Day (was there any in the Winter Classic coverage) was the possibility of the Blackhawks opening the 2009-10 season in Prague, possibly against the Florida Panthers. The New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning began this season with a pair of games in the Czech Republic this year, while the Pittsburgh Penguins and Ottawa Senators started the season in Sweden, and the NHL is hoping to make the European forays an annual event to help make the league a global entity.

Finally, the Hawks may be moving their practice facility into the city in a new building to be built a half-mile west of the United Center, at Madison and Western. The team currently makes a nearly 20-mile trek to the Edge Ice Arena in Bensenville on days when the United Center is unavailable, and a more local, new facility would allow for first-class amenities and make for an easier commute for the players, who mostly live in the city. One casualty of the proposed move may be the little-known but increasingly-attended open practice policy. In a season in which the Blackhawks have had a resurgence on the ice, attendance at the team's Edge practices has become increasingly congested with fans wanting an up close look and a chance to meet players. While no other Chicago sports team allows for practices to be open to the public that I know of, it's possible the distraction and hassle may bring the fan-friendly policy to an end.

Jeremy Piniak

Racing Thu Jan 08 2009

Goodbye, Sportsman's Park


Ex-Reader staffer and past GB contributor Ted McClelland penned a farewell to Sportsman's Park, the moribund horse and auto racing park in Cicero.

Of Chicago's three racetracks, Sportsman's best exemplified horse racing's seedy glamour. It was started as a dog track by Al Capone, who used to fix the races by feeding greasy hamburgers to every greyhound but the one he planned to bet on. Sportsman's sometimes held boxing matches between the races, up on the third floor. I used to see Moose Skowron in the grandstand, wearing a jacket advertising his after-the-races tavern, Call Me Moose. Racetrack Rosie, the veteran stripper known for her outlandish Derby Day hats, had her own day at Sportsman's. The track even put her picture on the program cover. My first gambling mentor, Johnny Goritz, taught me to read a horse's body language at Sportsman's. And I'll never forget watching a losing gambler race through the bleachers after a bad beat, wailing "I've never had any luck! Not once in 55 years!" Sportsman's was the mingled stench of cigarette smoke, horse manure and the newsprint of a fresh Daily Racing Form. But give Sportsman's some credit for class: it had the best food of any sporting venue in town. Can you get a salmon-and-fettucine blue plate special at the United Center?

Sportsman's ran its last race in 2002, and the city of Cicero bought the property in 2003. The grandstands are currently being torn down to make way for a shopping center. It's worth reading the whole piece.

Also worth checking out FoGB Katherine Hodges' photoset of the park on flickr.

[Image: mod as hell]

Andrew Huff / Comments (1)

Soccer Wed Jan 07 2009

Soccer 'God' Coming to Fire?

Could "God" becoming to Chicago?

No, not that "God," although the way the weather and the city's economic status has been going lately, a Second Coming might be in order.

No, the "god" in question is Liverpool soccer (sorry, football) legend Robbie Fowler and internet rumors have him coming to Chicago to play for the Fire next season.

According to the AOL Sports' Fanhouse site, Fowler, who scored 120 goals in 236 Premier League games, is thisclose to inking a deal with the Fire, although for a relatively piddling $9,000 per week. Why the lowball price? Fowler, 33, is reportedly interested in ending his career here and thanks to his real estate holding doesn't really need the money, which basically means he'd be playing for the love of the game. He was most recently released by the Blackburn Rovers.

He is the fourth-highest goalscorer in the history of the Premier League. After eight years with Liverpool, he left to play for Leeds United and Manchester City before coming back to Liverpool in January 2006. A little more than a year later, he signed with Cardiff City. A year and a half after that, he took a three-month "pay as you play" deal with the Rovers but left in December to become a free agent.

The Fire aren't the only ones interested in securing the striker's services. The New England Revolution are reportedly also in the bidding to bring him to the MLS.

Whether Fowler gets the opportunity to line up alongside Cuauhtemoc Blanco and Brian McBride remains to be seen. In the meantime, here's some video tribute to Fowler from a fan on whom he obviously made an impression.

Ken Green / Comments (1)

Cubs Tue Jan 06 2009

Mark Cuban? No Cigar

Short of maybe their pursuit of Jake Peavy (has that happened YET?), nothing has been more drawn out for the cubs than their proposed sale to new ownership. But while the process started back in a completely different presidential administration, it might be drawing to a close in the next day or so. According to reports, Tribune owner Sam Zell is contemplating offers from three bidders, Chicago real estate investor Hersch Klaff; the Ricketts family, who founded the online brokerage firm TD Ameritrade Holding Corp.; and a group led by New York investor Marc Utay, who reportedly grew up in Chicago.

But from a fan standpoint, there is one name that is glaringly omitted from that list: Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, the brash "fan's owner" who threatened to bring the Cubs into the world of personality-driven Big League Sports and not the same old stodgy corporate bottom-line-watching style of ownership. Even more than a few Cubs players had to have visions of private jets dancing in their heads (as Cuban has done for his NBA Mavericks). Hell, even his name spoke "Cubs". Not since Bill Veeck had a (potential) owner connected with fans on their level, even going so far as to join them in the bleachers, as both Veeck and Cuban had done. Has Crane Kenney EVER sat in the bleachers?

Continue reading this entry »

Ken Green

The Outfit Tue Jan 06 2009

Get Over the Top with The Outfit

Raise your hand if you like cool bars, lots of beer, arm-wrestling, and tough chicks. Now take that hand and head over to Reggie's on Monday, Jan. 12 for the All-Girl Rock 'n Roll Amateur Arm Wrestling competition hosted by The Chicago Outfit Derby Girls. While the wrasslin' is ladies-only, men are certainly more than welcome to support their favorite toughie and enjoy live music by Super Priest.

Sign up is at 7 p.m., and there's a $100 cash prize to be had. A measly $5 donation is all they ask in return.

Kara Luger

Cycling Sun Jan 04 2009

Riding into 2009

Luke over at Chicago Bike Racing's put together a list of his favorite road races to think about for the 2009 season. From all accounts, the races listed are all worth taking the trip for, each one serving up its own unique challenges. One wonders if in 2009, the Evanston Grand Prix will retain the "BK Stacker", or if the weather will come into plan during the early April Hillsboro-Roubaix in southwestern Illinois.

Registration opens up for the Horribly Hilly Hundreds near Madison, Wisconsin on January 15. The endurance event over 100K or 200K pits riders against the beautiful, hilly terrain of our neighbor to the north. With over 10,000 feet of climbing for the 125 mile route, this ride is an exceptional challenge for us flatlanders here in Illinois. While not a race, these rides are often treated as such and time completed is as much a bragging right as just finishing.

Miss all your friends from the ChiCrossCup? Want to gloat over some pints while in your Illinois State Champs jersey? The end-of-the-year banquet celebrating a successful season is this upcoming Sunday, January 11, at EJ's Place in Skokie. Check out the details after the jump.

Continue reading this entry »

Zach Thomas

Feature Fri Jan 02 2009

Chicago's Cyclocross Patron Saint

Covered in Mud, Beer and Blood, the Pony Shop tends to Chicagoland's Cyclocross Grass Roots

Pony Shop Evanston CyclocrossThe bastard cycling discipline of cyclocross is a strange subculture of sport. A hybrid of road and mountain biking, with cross-country running tossed in and stirred well, cyclocross is a mutant and is equally fun, humiliating and painful. Short races of a mile or so, usually held in a municipal park, cyclocross racers must ride at full-tilt through mud, grass and short pavement sections, occasionally dismounting to hop over barriers or run up a steep pitch.

The races are short, an hour for those at the top of the sport, less for mere mortals, and the competition is fierce. At the start of a race, cyclists fighting for position through the first winding chicanes push each other out of the way, bump shoulders and, more often than not, come crashing down with those caught behind piling atop. Usually, everyone comes out bruised but back on the bike, teeth bared and clenched as they struggle through lap after agonizing lap.

For northern Europeans, the popularity of cyclocross is similar to how football is here in the States: their Super Bowl, the World Championships, draws tens of thousands to spectate, eat hot, steaming frites, and drink tall steins of beer. Cyclocross there is a religion - a Sunday cult that waits 'til everyone is out of church before starting with the sinning.

In America, though, the sport is underground, legitimized by increasing popularity, but still retains a certain scurrilous ethos. The cost of entry into racing is low - a modified mountain or commuter bike will suffice for racing in the lower categories. Cyclocross is spectator friendly - and it encourages spectator participation. Races everywhere have that corner, where spectators mingle with racers, usually imbibed if their own race for the day is done, and where all scream encouragements at and high-five passing teammates, friends and complete strangers.

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Zach Thomas / Comments (3)

White Sox Fri Jan 02 2009

Short Hops

  • Baseball, football and (now) hockey aren't the only sports to be featured at Wrigley Field. Ski jumping? Really?
  • After realizing that Chicago is a hotbed of ultimate fighting support, the UFC is planning its return
  • A prep hoops holiday tournament wrap-up.
  • if new White Sox Cuban phenom Dayan Viciedo's predicament is any indication, the newest Sox offseason acquisition will be Jenny Craig.
  • And with third baseman Viciedo entering the picture, might Joe Crede be headed to San Francisco?
  •'s 2008 all-MLS team features two Chicago Fire stars. The site also has a recap of the 2008 Fire season.
  • It's not easy being green or promoting the Northwestern men's basketball team, which hasn't won more than six Big Ten games in any of their past four seasons.
  • Windy City names the LGBT Athlete of the Year.
  • Nevermind the WWE. There are plenty of other options for local pro wrestling fans.
  • And finally, another Chicago sports fan gets ready for a lifetime of despair and regret.

Ken Green

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