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Tailgate

Blackhawks Fri Apr 30 2010

Hawks and Canucks set to renew 'acquaintances'

Now, this...this will be playoff hockey at its best. The Hawks square off against the Vancouver Canucks in the best of 7 series beginning tomorrow at the United Center, a rematch of last season's Conference Semifinals, which saw Chicago advance in 6. The two teams feature some of the top offenses in the league, with the Canucks ranked second with 3.27 goals per game, and the Hawks third at 3.2, meaning points will be put on the board. And with no love lost between the two and higher expectations, expect this series to be even more physical and punishing than last year's knock-down, drag-out battles were.

Though both teams have many familiar faces from last year, the two major new additions will have an impact on this series. Vancouver's Mikael Samuelsson exploded for 11 points in the Canucks 6 first round games, including 7 goals. On the flip side, no goal was more clutch than the Hawks' Marian Hossa's gamewinner in Game 5, and Hossa's competitive nature has been a force all postseason.

Full preview and schedule after the jump.

Continue reading this entry »

Jeremy Piniak

Chicago Fri Apr 30 2010

Weekend What-To-Do: Derby, Blackhawks, D-Backs Protest

WRIGLEYProtest.jpeg

Wrigley Field Protests

The Arizona Diamondbacks are in town all weekend long and opponents of the newly passed (and horrendous) Arizona Senate bill 1070 are protesting the Diamondback (and their GOP owner, though he's actually against 1070) all weekend. It's about time sports got back to being about more than just amusing ourselves.

Continue reading this entry »

Brian Lauvray

Cycling Fri Apr 30 2010

Byrne and Bahati; Fair Weather Rules

This is exciting news. Former-Talking Head and urban cycling advocate (and author) David Byrne is coming to Chicago to present a forum "Cities, Bicycles and the Future of Getting Around" on Friday, June 18 at 7:30 p.m. at Daley Plaza (50 W. Washington). Tickets are required -- information is all available here. Byrne will come together with cycling advocates and civic leaders to discuss the bike's role in the city and how cycling can improve community relations and urban ties. The event is co-presented by Goose Island 312 and 93XRT and is part of the Chicago Bike to Work Rally.

Ouch-Bahati Foundation Pro Cycling Team racer Rahsaan Bahati will be in Chicagoland May 10 for a benefit dinner for the Bahati Foundation. The Bahati Foundation is a mentoring and education organization for Southern California youth, with a focus on promoting after-school and summer activities and attempting to present opportunites for youth beyond the corruptions of crime, drugs, and gangs. It's a noble cause very worthy of support. The dinner will be held at EJ's Place (10027 Skokie Blvd., Skokie). The informational flyer is here.

Finally, finally, the weather's mostly cracked. I know there will be some hearts broken when it inexplicably snows in May, but let's go on and cheer that Spring has finally made it. With that, everyone's dusted off the bikes and are rolling around the city. It's inspiring and great to see -- besides the CTA, which is itself losing its ground, there's no better way of getting around the city than by bike. The more cyclists out there, the better.

That said, for some reason, cyclists really need to be cognizant that riding a bike is an inherently dangerous and potentially lethal activity, to crib the disclaimer-speak. Also, cyclists have every right as a car to the roadway, but that means the rules of the road apply as well.

Such, as it were, I'll present a few guidelines to start the season off right:

1. If you're seriously training for the Chicago Triathlon, or you're a competitive/fast fitness rider, refrain from doing your bike workouts on the lake front path north of the aquarium between 4-8 p.m. First, you're not going to get in a good workout with all the stopping and slowing. Second, you're presenting a major hazard to all the other path users. Third, it's annoying and frustrating. The LFP is one of the great resources in this city and cyclists, from national champions to casual riders, use it and love it. But riding the path requires some sense. Those national champions and racer-types are out early in the morning from 5-8 a.m. or later evening when there are no strollers or jogging squads taking up the lanes. There's no excuse for trying to set a personal best from Navy Pier to Belmont on your time-trial bike on a sunny warm afternoon. It's dangerous to all.

2. Running red lights. Yes, everyone does it, but it's just a really, really bad idea. It annoys drivers, is pretty durn hazardous, and doesn't do much to improve cycling advocacy. Us cyclists expect full use of the road, that means we have to follow the laws as well. If you're going to run a red light, just use common sense: blasting through the Crotch or Cortland and Ashland is asking for a serious mangling. The number of people who have been carted away in an ambulance from those intersections after getting hit is staggering. Oh, and get some lights.

3. Learn to lock up your bike. With warm weather comes bike thieves; already Craigslist is full of sad tales of machines stolen in just a minute's time. This guide explains it all.

Expect more curmudgeonly ranting as the season goes on.

Zach Thomas

Feature Thu Apr 29 2010

Rowing to Recovery

jenngibbons2.jpg

Jenn Gibbons is a very difficult person to say "no" to. I learned this lesson firsthand one night a few months ago when a mutual friend introduced us. The first problem with saying no to Gibbons is this: she likes to talk. A frenetic energy bubbles beneath her skin and it erupts in rapid-fire bursts of exclamations from her constantly smiling mouth.

Aside from the comically obvious tactic of not being able to get "no" — or any word, for that matter — in edgewise with the constantly chatting and charming Gibbons, the words she produces so prodigiously are energizing and interesting unto themselves. In the course of a 10 minute exchange (wherein I did the listening and Jenn, well, she did the talking) I learned that she'd just returned from running a marathon in California, that she had to coach rowing practice in the morning, and that I had to come down and witness the amazing women she's coaching. Before I can get that magic two-letter word out (let alone a believable excuse) Gibbons is off discussing her other passion in life: kicking the crap out of cancer, one rower at a time.

And that's the second problem with telling Jenn Gibbons "no" or "nyet" or "nein": the tale she has to tell is so compelling and important to her that you can't help but listen and nod "yes."

Jenn Gibbons is a zealot for the obscure world of rowing and more importantly, she's a rowing coach for a very unique group of women. Gibbons coaches breast cancer survivors three times a week, indoors and outdoors, rain or shine, winter, spring, summer, fall. Jenn Gibbons is teaching, encouraging and coaxing these women into rebuilding their lives.

Continue reading this entry »

Brian Lauvray / Comments (4)

Roller Derby Thu Apr 29 2010

Chicago Outfit Blast by Paper Valley, 134-74

On April 24, the Chicago Outfit started their 2010 season on the right foot, er, skate with a win over the Paper Valley Roller Girls (Appleton, WI). The Outfit took a strong, 25-point lead early in the bout and never looked back, winning 134-74. The opening bout, a B-squad battle between the Paper Valley Flyin Squirrels and the Chicago Shade Brigade and ended with a hometown loss of 75-59.

The next bout for the Chicago Outfit is on Saturday, May 15 vs.
the North Star Roller Girls (Minneapolis, MN).

Kara Luger

Bulls Wed Apr 28 2010

As The Bulls Turn: Series Over, Season Over, VDN Over

Cue up the Boys II Men soundtrack, Bulls fans. LeBron (wonky right elbow and all) took care of the business last night in the Quicken Loans Arena and like that, the five-game series, along with the Bulls season was over. James nearly had another triple-double (one assist short) last night and for the series "The King" averaged the most sick 30+ points, 9+ boards and 8+ dimes a game. But I come to bury the Bulls, not to praise their betters. So let's slip into some scrubs, slap on the cadaver gloves, fish out the bone saw and carve open the post-mortem 2009-10 Bulls.

The Good

JoNo. Yes, young Joakim Noah was cursed with plantar fasciitis and yes, he missed his most games ever due to that damned affliction. Still, Joakim Noah was amazing for the Bulls this year.

Continue reading this entry »

Brian Lauvray

News Wed Apr 28 2010

Hizzoner Wagers Half Acre Against Vancouver's Beer

***Update*** Following Mayor Daley's press conference today, The Trib's City Hall blog, Clout Street posted a whole rundown of the wager.

We here at Gapersblock love the Half Acre Beer. Those guys are the best, seriously. They have delicious weird beers (Ginger Twin, Invasion) and standard libations (lagers/pale ales, whatnot). So it should as no surprise that when Mayor Richard Daley wants to throw down with the Vancouver Canucks and the municipal governance of that Canadian city, that Daley goes to Half Acre for a wager.

Our city's Mayor, Mr. Richard Daley, has chosen Half Acre Beer Co to take part in a friendly wager with Vancouver, Canada on behalf of the Chicago Blackhawks. 1 case of 24/16oz of Daisy Cutter Pale Ale Cans & Gossamer Golden Ale Cans will go up for grabs as the Hawks face the Canucks in the Western Conference Semifinals.


Okay, 'Hawks, you're repping Chicago and now America against that Northern Menace. Do us proud and win some (hopefully) non-Molson for Daley to guzzle in his palatial manse. Of course, the last time an American leader challenged a Canadian leader in a hockey bet, it didn't work out. Well-played, America Jr.

Brian Lauvray

White Sox Wed Apr 28 2010

How The Sox Can Fix Their Hitting Problem Or A Defense Of Carlos Quentin

SoxLogoSmall.jpegYesterday's 4-2 loss will no doubt bring yet another wave of suggestions on how the Sox can improve in hitting and pitching. But wait, how can a team that leads the American League in homeruns and stolen bases have a hitting problem? The problem must be elsewhere!

Well no, it's possible if the team scores runs from homeruns and stolen bases almost exclusively, which is exactly what's happening. Not that you can blame the Sox, nobody is hitting a respectable .300 right now, not even Paul Konerko who leads the AL in homeruns. This is the only way to do it until sluggers like Alex Rios and Gordon Beckham realize their full potential. Right now there's no consistent hitter in the White Sox lineup besides Konerko with his homeruns. A team can't win like that. There are hits though, just not from anyone in partcular. One day it'll be Juan Pierre and Andruw Jones, the next it'll be Alexei Ramirez and Carlos Quentin.

Continue reading this entry »

Daniel Strauss

Bulls Wed Apr 28 2010

Ehlo's revenge: Chicago dropped from playoffs

As Kenny Smith would say, the Chicago Bulls have officially "gone fishin'."

With LeBron James f**king around and almost getting a triple-double, the Bulls were eliminated from the 2010 NBA playoffs after falling to the Cleveland Cavaliers, 96-94, in Game 5 on Tuesday night. Fortunately for Joakim Noah, he finally leaves the city that has "nothing going on."

Continue reading this entry »

Raf Onak / Comments (1)

Slaughter Tue Apr 27 2010

Special Meet and Greet with the Chicago Slaughter

slaughter.jpgHelp keep the Chicago Slaughter (3-3) pumped up after a three game winning streak by heading out the western suburbs for a special meet and greet! Tomorrow evening (April 28) the Chicago Slaughter will mingle with fans and showcase their talent in a special team practice. This event will be held at the Finish Strong Indoor Sportsplex located at 555 W. Roosevelt Road, West Chicago. Food and drink will be served starting at 6:30 pm and practice will begin at 7 pm.

The Slaughter's next home game will be played against the Green Bay Blizzard on Saturday, May 22. Visit www.chicago-slaughter.com for ticket information.

Shanna Quinn

Blackhawks Tue Apr 27 2010

Sayonara, Nashville! Hellllooo, Vancouver.

Weird goal, right? We'll have plenty more Blackhawks coverage for you later today and for the rest of the week. Until then, congrats, 'Hawks fans & Patrick Kane. That's probably the weirdest/luckiest goal of your hockey playing career and it helped your team move on in the Stanley Cup Playoffs!

HT to Yahoo! Sports for the video.

Brian Lauvray

Blackhawks Tue Apr 27 2010

Bring on the 'Nucks

Following a wild first period that saw seven goals between the two teams, the Blackhawks hung on and collected an empty net goal from John Madden to seal the game 5-3 and win their first round series against the Nashville Predators 4-2. The Hawks advance to the secound round and the Vancouver Canucks, a rematch of last season's conference semifinals.

Though the full schedule hasn't been announced, the first game of the series will be this Friday at the United Center, time TBD. The regular season saw the teams split the series 2-2, with each team earning a home and road win.

Continue reading this entry »

Jeremy Piniak

Cubs Mon Apr 26 2010

When I Can't Root For The Sox, I Still Don't Like The Cubs

WNationalsLogo.jpegSpeaking of the Cubs, the Sox, loyalties and rivalries, I've got some downtime today but there's no Sox game to watch. The Nationals are playing the Cubs though. So I've decided that I'll be rooting for the team that represents a city that I've spent a lot of time in, a city where I've cultivated my resume, a city whose baseball team is looking good this year, a city where a great deal of my friends are: Washington!

And I don't think I'm the only Sox fan who would pick the Nationals in this situation.

Image by Michelle Dimuzio.

Daniel Strauss / Comments (2)

Soccer Mon Apr 26 2010

Red Stars Silenced by Defending WPS Champs

The Chicago Red Stars (0-1-2) were given the opportunity to dethrone the 2009 Women's Professional Soccer champions not once, but twice in the team's first three matches of the 2010-11 campaign. Unfortunately, both efforts resulted in a loss with Sky Blue FC (2-0-1) squeezing past the Red Stars, 1-0, on Saturday at Toyota Park after producing the same outcome just two weeks ago in New Jersey.

Continue reading this entry »

Raf Onak

Blackhawks Mon Apr 26 2010

Hossa, Hawks hope to close out Predators

Well, it's taken awhile to catch my breath after the exhilarating back and forth of Saturday afternoon's Game 5 at the United Center, which saw the Blackhawks lose a 3-1 lead, and appear to be heading for a critical loss after Marian Hossa drew a 5-minute boarding major with a minute left. Then, with goalie Antti Niemi pulled, Patrick Kane poked in a rebound with 13.6 seconds left to rise the UC crowd from the dead and force overtime. The Hawks managed to fend off the Predators and kill the remaining 3:57 of penalty time, and 10 seconds after jumping out of the box Hossa found a Brent Sopel shot on the doorstep and put it past Nashville net minder Pekka Rinne for the game-winner and the 3-2 series lead, and sending the crowd into a pandemonium I haven't heard louder this year.

The 5-4 comeback win is the biggest victory the Blackhawks have had this year, and as the series shifts to Nashville for tonight's Game 6 (8 p.m., Comcast SportsNet), a Hawks victory would close out the series and set up a rematch with last year's 2nd round opponent, the Vancouver Canucks.

Continue reading this entry »

Jeremy Piniak

White Sox Mon Apr 26 2010

Crosstown Cup

The White Sox and Cubs held a press conference this morning to announce the "BP Crosstown Cup," which will be awarded to the winner of the inter-league series, annually. In the case of a tie, the trophy goes to the winner of game 6.

The crosstown trophy concept has been done elsewhere, but I personally don't see this adding much to the rivalry. Fans in this town are already pretty passionate about their respective teams, and tend to be pretty vicious towards one another when they are visited by their respective crosstown rival. I think our Second City Complexes will overshadow any trophy a petroleum company presents, especially since the White Sox already won the one trophy that matters. But who knows, maybe this will add fuel to the fire.

Rick Abplanalp

The Turncoat Mon Apr 26 2010

Conventioneers

the_turncoat.jpgDuring the summer of 1969, that fateful summer the Chicago Cubs had arguably the best team in their history yet still failed to make it to or succeed in the World Series, my father was 12 years old. He was fortunate enough to attend many of the Cubs home games that season. Back then, Wrigley had not yet established itself as the overcrowded den of inequity in high demand it is today. A neighborhood kid, such as my father, could get into Cubs games easily -- go to a game, help sweep the aisles afterwards and get free tickets to the next one.  In doing this, he was not only able to obtain a first hand account of a monumental season in the history of his favorite ball club, but also establish himself, in my mind, as one of the greatest sports fans any team could be lucky enough to have. He has always been a true fan, honest and dedicated, regardless of how poorly his team performed or how difficult it was to root for them.  He has always been there, as much a part of their history as they were his. More then anyone else, he deserves to see them win.

Growing up with this man as my example of what a Wrigleyvillian embodied, it was a long time before I could ever fathom the idea of someone not liking Cubs fans.  All the man wanted in exchange for his fanaticism was to see his team win. He isn't a bleacher bum and he isn't frat boy, he is just a great guy rooting for the wrong team.  Based on the wrongful assumption that all who attend Cubs games are a lot like him, it only made sense that A) people who don't like Cubs fans are in small number and B) those who do not are dismissible crazies. Well, it might come as a surprise to some of you, but a lot of people just don't like Cubs fans.

Continue reading this entry »

Rick Abplanalp

Cubs Sun Apr 25 2010

Sweep Home Chicago, Cubs Destroy Brewers 12-2

After a magnificent performance by Ted Lilly last night against the Brewers the Cubs were in line to sweep them for the second time in a week. Unlike last time the Cubs didn't miss out on their opportunity to do so. They had their hitting shoes on today and boy did they ever lay some lumber to the baseball today. They would score in the first five innings alone.

Tyler Colvin got the Cubs on the board in the first inning with a two-run double. Fukudome, who hits well in Miller Park, hit his second home run of the series in the second. A two-run shot. The Cubs would also get home runs from Derrek Lee, Tyler Colvin and Geovany Soto. Both Colvin and Fukudome were a triple shy of the cycle. The offense would end the day with eighteen hits,a season-high.

Continue reading this entry »

Brian Livingston

Bulls Sun Apr 25 2010

As The Bulls Turn: No Answer For LeBron James

There are many ways to explain Chicago's loss to Cleveland on Sunday afternoon: Kirk Hinrich (after a stellar game three on Thursday) fell back into his atrocious slump; Luol Deng went back to being awful; collectively, the Bulls shot terribly (37.4%) from the field; it goes on. But simply put, there was no answer for LeBron James.

LeBron had one of the best playoff games in his career. A series-defining, cliche-inducing, game of pure, hardwood brilliance. 37 points, 11 dimes, 12 rebounds, two steals, one block and only two turnovers in 36 minutes of action. He made mistakes (he must've, right?) but his game was too dominant. Chess amongst checkers; man amongst boys; wolf amongst sheep, et cetera.

Continue reading this entry »

Brian Lauvray / Comments (2)

Fire Sun Apr 25 2010

Fire Destroy Dynamo

Chants of "Chicago Fire!" echoed down the street as Fire fans left Small Bar on Fullerton, a local soccer sanctuary for many. And just as the rain didn't dampen the spirits of the buzzed spectators, it never slowed down the Fire as they dominated the Houston Dynamo 2-0.

Last night's match was a true test for the Fire. Houston came into the game with an undefeated record at Toyota Park, going 3-0-1 in their previous four matches at the Fire's home field. But the Fire showed they were not going to let the streak continue, out shooting the Dynamo 13-2 in the first half. Even with their efforts, the game remained scoreless until three minutes into stoppage time when midfielder Baggio Husidic headed in a rebound shot. The Dynamo attempted to equalize, but Fire keeper Andrew Dykstra held strong between the posts, gaining six saves on the night.

Peter Lowry had his first goal of the season in the 67th minute. After a cross from Patrick Nyarko, Lowry charged towards the ball and delivered an impressive chest shot past Houston keeper Pat Onstad. Fans were elated as cheers rose from the stands at Lowry's unique goal. But with the growing excitement came tension on the field. It was clear throughout the game there was bad blood between these two teams, with the hostility culminating in the 81st minute. Fire defender Tim Ward committed a foul on a header, sparking a scuffle and ending with two yellow cards, one ejecting Houston's Danny Cruz. Shortly after, Fire defender Krzysztof Krol was ejected for headbutting Houston's Luis Ángel Landín. In total, the referee pulled 11 cards in the final 35 minutes of play.

Even with a rough ending, the Fire have finally hit a stride. It appears as if their rocky start is behind them, and I expect to hear more "Chicago Fire!" chants ringing down the streets as the season progresses.

Vanessa Day

White Sox Sat Apr 24 2010

White Sox Love The Unexpected: Sox Win Their First Series

SoxLogoSmall.jpegThere is so much about the White Sox that is unreliable. That fact, perhaps, is the only reliable thing about them.
It was reasonable for any White Sox fan to bet against the White Sox winning their first series this year against the Seattle Mariners, who have a strong team this year. The team has solid pitching from the likes of Félix (King Félix) Hernández or Doug Fister (who pitched today) who keeps a solid ERA always under 2.00, limiting any points to Seattle hitters like Ichiro Suzuki, Chone Figgins, and Mike Sweeney.

The contrast couldn't have looked greater. Yesterday Gavin Floyd had the mound, the same Gavin Floyd who was pitching when the Sox lost 4-7 against Cleveland. Yet the Sox eked out a win off of a bottom of the ninth walk-off homerun by Andruw Jones. Up until that last inning, it looked like the same old sorrowful story for the 2010 Chicago White Sox. Everyone, Sox and Mariners, alike, were stunned by the rapid shift of the tide.

Continue reading this entry »

Daniel Strauss

Cubs Sat Apr 24 2010

Cubs, Dempster Cool Off Hot Brewers Team, Win 8-1

After an abysmal series in New York that saw the Cubs lose three out of four to the Mets it would be just their luck that they would be facing a hot hitting Milwaukee Brewers team this weekend. A Brewers team that put 20 runs in one game alone against the Pirates Thursday night. However, Friday night at Miller Park in Milwaukee would belong to the Cubs.

Starting pitching for the Cubs first 16 games of the year has been above par. Ryan Dempster has made four quality starts this season. If he had some more offensive support and a bullpen capable of holding leads late he could be 4-0, instead he is 2-0. Which isn't terrible, but he has pitched well enough to earn a four wins. Last night Dempster pitched seven and two-thirds, surrendering seven hits and only allowing one run.

Continue reading this entry »

Brian Livingston

Blackhawks Fri Apr 23 2010

Tied up and heading home

Well, that's a little more like it. The Blackhawks finally looked like they had something to play for, and used the return of Brian Campbell to spark some offense and finally get through to Predators goalie Pekka Rinne for a 3-0 victory, sending the series back to Chicago tied 2-2.

Patrick Sharp finally broke through for 2 goals and Jonathon Toews picked up a goal and an assist as the Blackhawks big guns made a gamewide impact. Antti Niemi picked up his 2nd shutout in 4 starts, turning away 33 shots but was seemingly rarely tested.

Seeing Campbell back on the ice after his March injury was a welcome sight, and though he looked a little rusty in the limited minutes he played, he also helped open up the Hawks dynamics in a number of ways, and could be an even bigger factor once he gets his game legs back under him.

A key to the game was once again the powerplay. The Blackhawks got there first goal from Sharp 10 seconds into their first powerplay, and killed off a 5-on-3 later in the first to gain more momentum. Nashville went 0-for-5 with the man advantage, and in fact has yet to score a power play goal this series. Though the Hawks defense has been shaky at times, they've done an admirable job on the penalty kill.

With the win, the Hawks took back home ice, and will look to take the series lead in tomorrow's 2 p.m. matinee at the United Center. If the team can build on their Game 4 performance and cut down on the penalties, those prospects look a lot better than they did 24 hours ago.

Jeremy Piniak

Bulls Fri Apr 23 2010

As The Bulls Turn: Chicago Beat Cleveland

The Bulls have delivered more in this playoffs series than I thought possible from them. They've delivered two straight well-played games. Granted, they've only won one of those games. Still, I didn't see them stringing together more than one or two quarters (and to be fair, that's about all they've delivered, but I'm being nice) of more-than-adequate basketball in a row. What I did see? Them needing to get Kirk Hinrich on track; them needing anything from Luol Deng; sustaining Joakim Noah's samurai-style and Derrick Rose taking smart, smart, smart shots (for the most part).

Continue reading this entry »

Brian Lauvray

White Sox Thu Apr 22 2010

Tampa Bay Wins Series, Devastating The White Sox Twice

SoxLogoSmall.jpegWith the Sox, what we have here ladies and gentlemen, is a pitching problem (with a little hitting too). The Sox just ended their three game series against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and in total Tampa scored a total of 23 runs over three games. You read that right, 23. The one win the Sox got was a pleasant 4-1 that I wrote about here. That was the team the Sox need to be which also was the opposite of what they were in their last two outings.

Continue reading this entry »

Daniel Strauss / Comments (2)

Bulls Thu Apr 22 2010

As The Bulls Turn: The Cavs Come to the Madhouse

The first round series between Cleveland and Chicago is now on the Bulls home court. The results, sadly --for Bulls fans; fans of good basketball shall rejoice-- will very likely be more of what we all saw in Cleveland. The Bulls gave Cleveland their best shot Monday night in game numero dos and still walked outta the Quicken Loans Arena with the loss. I'll reiterate what I said the other day, Chicago shot .441% from the field (a hair below their season average); made 16-17 free throws; outrebounded Cleveland; held everyone on the Cavs not named "LeBron" to under 15 points and still lost. The Cavs are just so, so good at winning games. This isn't really even about how inept the Bulls are --but the Bulls are very inept. O, so very, very inept. Cleveland should be able to do this against a team like Chicago. The Bulls have very little offensive resources and the ones they have (Rose, Deng, Noah? Flip Murray? NOT Pargo) are all taxed to the limit by Cleveland's defense and own ability to just score points no matter what. Meanwhile, Mike Brown is playing chess against Vinny's rousing game of tic-tac-toe.

Continue reading this entry »

Brian Lauvray

Blackhawks Thu Apr 22 2010

Blackhawks Look to Campbell's Possible Return to Tie Series, Regain Focus

While panic and desperation are not words to throw around lightly, the Blackhawks may be creeping up toward that precipice before tonight's Game 4 in Nasvhille. And with reports that defenseman Brian Campbell is a game-time decision tonight, they've either taken another step closer or started backing off the ledge.

Continue reading this entry »

Jeremy Piniak

The Outfit Thu Apr 22 2010

The Chicago Outfit Kicks Off 2010 Season

The Chicago Outfit roller derby league opens their 2010 season with a double header pitting the Outfit vs. the Paper Valley All Stars and the Outfit Shade Brigade vs. the Flyin Squirrels.

It happens Saturday, April 24 at 7 p.m. at the Windy City Fieldhouse (2367 West Logan Blvd.). With hot ladies, rough action, $3 beers, and free parking, you can't really go wrong. Tickets are $15 presale, $20 at the door.

Kara Luger

Cubs Thu Apr 22 2010

Cubs Snap Four Game Skid Behind Silva's Quality Start

So far the acquisition of Carlos Silva has been paying dividends. In just his third start of the year Silva has a 2-0 record with an ERA under one at 0.95. As he did in his first two outings Silva has kept his team in the game and put them in position to win. Tonight was no different. Silva pitched six innings allowing only one run which came on a home run off the bat of Mets catcher Rod Barajas. While he was doing his job a certain $136 million outfielder was a double short in hitting for the cycle.

Alfonso Soriano who has received an earful from fans, the media and his manager went 3-for-4 in the Cubs 9-3 victory over the Metropolitans Wednesday night at Citi Field. Soriano hit a two-run homer in the seventh inning. His three hit night also included a triple, which Soriano hustled all the way around the bases instead of posing at home plate. He was criticized for posing Monday night after believing he had hit a home run which was actually a double. For one night Soriano showed his critics why he is being paid all those millions of dollars.

Continue reading this entry »

Brian Livingston

White Sox Wed Apr 21 2010

What The Sox Are Up Against Tonight

If you're a Sox fan, the reason to be hopeful about tonight's game against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays is that the last matchup with Buehrle pitching turned out pretty well for Chicago. It would be fitting for the Sox to begin to turn around their record this year against the same team that gave them that perfect game.

If the Sox are going to do well tonight they need to watch out for a few players in the Tampa bay lineup:

  • First, there's catcher John Jaso with an average of .667. Need I say more? If Tampa Bay is going to win tonight, it's going to be, at least partially, thanks to Jaso. He's a top prospect for the Rays out to prove himself. I can't think of a better way to prove his value then getting a big hit or homerun off of the pitcher that earned a perfect game from the Rays last year.

  • That homer by left fielder Carl Crawford last night was no fluke. Crawford has a .340 average and had all three hits yesterday against John Danks. He'll be looking to polish that record tonight. This year he's earned two homeruns and 10 RBIs.

  • With pitching, Wade Davis isn't the Rays' best pitcher, but he's been 2-2 with a 3.72 ERA that's on the downward trend. Don't count him out.

Daniel Strauss

White Sox Wed Apr 21 2010

Early White Sox Prediction Review

I came across this 2010 American League Prediction post by Tyler Kepner of The New York Times' Bats Blog. Here's what it had to say about the Central Division:

American League Central

whitesox.jpg1. White Sox - Their rotation could be overpowering, and the offense should be able to score runs in more ways. Carlos Quentin and Alex Rios need to be consistent power sources, but Gordon Beckham is a rising star.

2. Twins - Losing Joe Nathan hurts, and while their lineup should be very strong with Orlando Hudson added to the Joe Mauer/Justin Morneau core, there is too much mediocrity in the rotation to catch the White Sox.

3. Tigers - The rotation has holes, and even with Johnny Damon it's a pretty thin lineup. The Yankees believed Austin Jackson needed another year at Class AAA, but the Tigers think he's ready after a strong spring.

4. Indians - There's legitimate talent in the lineup, with under-the-radar standouts like Asdrubal Cabrera and Shin-Soo Choo. But their rotation may be the worst in baseball, and closer Kerry Wood is hurt.

5. Royals - They need to find out if some high draft picks (Luke Hochevar, No. 1 over all in 2006 and Alex Gordon, No. 2 over all in 2005) can really play. The rotation has Zack Greinke in front ... and Kyle Farnsworth in back.

I was talking to someone the other day about the Twins. It seems completely off right now but I'm not sure. Given that the season is still young and Minnesota hasn't found a comparable closer yet this may not be a stale assessment of the Twins. And without Mauer and Justin Morneau it's hard believe the Twins would be leading the division like they are.

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Daniel Strauss / Comments (3)

White Sox Tue Apr 20 2010

Nothing Like A Game Against Tampa Bay To Lift The White Sox's Spirits

Now that's more like it.

This is one of the weird (and wonderful) things about baseball, a team can be doing horribly and then come along and trounce a team that's in second place in the Eastern Division. Savor this moment Sox fans, for I fear the next few games probably won't be as sweet. I'm not going to dwell though.

Oh man, tonight was awesome --homers by Paul Konerko and Andruw Jones, and eight solid innings by John Danks whose only mistake was a solo homerun by Carl Crawford in the first. Danks struckout four in a row between the fourth and the fifth innings bringing his K's to nine tonight.

The best part about tonight was that it was exactly the opposite of how the Sox have been winning this year. Even though Chicago did get two essential runs off of homers, they didn't depend on it, earning two runs from Konerko and Alex Rios off of smart playing and unfortunate defense by the Rays. That's how the Sox need to play if they want to win. Good to see it's in them somewhere, albeit buried deep.

In the recap piece (linked to above) on the game Danks had this to say:

"We've been saying all along that we are way better than we've been playing and I truly believe it. I think it's just a matter time before we start clicking and hopefully it started tonight," Danks said. "We all feel that way. We're better than how we've played so far and we know we got off to a pretty disappointing start, but with that said there is a 148 (games) left and every team is going to go through a slump and we got ours early."

If that weren't enough, tonight's win continues the Sox streak against the Rays (the Sox are 7-2 in their last matchups against Tampa Bay). The last game they played was Mark Buehrle's perfect game. As it happens, Buehrle is pitching tomorrow too. Hopefully that'll cause a repeat.

Daniel Strauss

Blackhawks Tue Apr 20 2010

Shift to Nashville should make Game 3 more of the same

Though the scene shifts to Nashville for tonight's Game 3 between the Blackhawks and Predators (8 p.m., Comcast SportsNet), the game on the ice should look very much the same.

Despite the different results on the scoreboard, Games 1 and 2 were incredibly similar. Chicago came out strong and pushed the momentum at the onset, then the games settled into tight, defensive affairs that ultimately hinged on turnovers and penalties and the play of the respective goalies. A bad bounce goal on Antti Niemi and an inability to clear the zone due to intense forecheck pressure by the Predators doomed the Hawks to the Game 1 loss. Meanwhile, in Game 2 Chicago made some key line changes (most notably pairing defensemen Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith back together), used their speed and upped their physicality to wear down the Preds and eventually crack goaltender Pekka Rinne for a pair of goals and the victory. Both goaltenders have made some big saves so far, and while Niemi calmed some nerves with his Game 2 shutout, Rinne has made some spectacular saves to keep Nashville hanging close and ready to capitalize.

Barring a meltdown from either netminder, Game 3 figures to be another tightrope walk. The teams have matched up fairly evenly and played throttling defense to limit quality scoring opportunities. One area that may be a huge factor is the powerplay. Though Chicago struggled for the latter half of the year with the man advantage, the Hawks used a string of penalties in Game 2 to push the momentum and get on the board with a Dave Bolland backhand goal; finishing the game 1-for-5. The Predators powerplay was near the NHL basement all year, and despite 5 opportunities themselves, couldn't put the puck past Antti Niemi. With quality shots at a premium, the team that is best able to use the man advantage will have the upper hand.

Jeremy Piniak

Bears Tue Apr 20 2010

Footballic Ramblings: The Schedule Cat Is Outta The Bag

Still five months away from NFL regular season time (aka: "Honey, I love you, but, y'know, football is on") however, Commish Goodell and his cronies have dropped the NFL 2010 schedule today as a salve for the football starved amongst us. Who do the Bears play? Well, they'll (as always) be playing Minnesota twice, Green Bay twice and Detroit twice. Who else besides those NFC North foes? The Bears will be playing the entire AFC East and NFC East divisions and will be hosting the Seattle Seahawks and traveling to Julius Peppers' home state for a date with the Carolina Panthers. Bears will be playing their very first game not in the United States when they travel to Toronto, Canada on November 7 for a game with the Buffalo Bills.

Additionally, the Bears will be rockin' 1940s era throwbacks in commemoration of the "Monsters of the Midway" Bears. Older readers will, of course, recall the "Monster era of the NFL" when --prior to a 1951 rules change-- monsters were allowed to play football. The specific games for the jerseys being worn have not been announced yet, but Tailgate is gonna say (off pure conjecture and intuition) that the Monday Nighter against Green Bay and the home game with Washington will be the two games wherein the throwbacks are featured.

"Must-See Games"

Sunday, September 12: Home Opener at Soldier Field.
Bears' first Opening Day home opener in six years, bang! Detroit Lions with a healthy Matt Stafford and MegaTron (Calvin Johnson) duo against the always vulnerable Bears secondary. Conversely, Jay Cutler and his cast of wideouts will be equally as eager to torch Detroit's suspect secondary. I smell a shootout...no, wait, that's just burned cornerbacks.

Sunday, September 19: @ Dallas, aka: "JerryWorld."
Not sure if this is all that intriguing of a matchup, but Cutler vs Romo is decent enough and you and your buddies can always bet on which QB will toss more picks. Additionally, this is da Bears first look at the new, cavernous, glitzy, gaudy, tacky, etc. Cowboys Stadium.

Continue reading this entry »

Brian Lauvray

Baseball Tue Apr 20 2010

Things Are Bad But The Sox Are Showing Improvement

It would be easy to say that the problem with the Sox right now is simply hitting or pitching, or Gavin Floyd or Mark Kotsay, or maybe bad coaching. But it's not. The South Siders have good days and they have off days, like any other team. And yes, they do have problems, like any other team, it's just not one that's easy to boil down.

No player in particular is weighing the team down so let's not hate on Jake Peavy shall we? He pitched a pretty good game last time --not Cy Young-caliber-- but still much improved from earlier outings this season. If you didn't watch last Saturday's game or got so discouraged that you decided to turn it off prematurely (as I was inclined to do), Peavy pitched seven innings and let in two runs and four hits over 109 pitches. That's not great but it's not horrible and it's an improvement from Peavy's previous games this season. Keep in mind also that this was against a Cleveland Indians that are much better than in previous years. I say that this was an off day for Peavy and his two previous outings were flukes. Again, everyone has a bad day or two but you don't see any sensible baseball fan calling for Gavin Floyd's retirement do you?

Next, let's look at hitting. For a little while now I've been saying that Gordon Beckham is the same player the Sox have had for years: the promising young buck who never ends up being anything (read: Brian Anderson). Yet Beckham has the best On-Base Percentage of any of the current White Sox hitters and he has 12 home runs under his belt, more than famous sluggers like Konerko or Pierzynski this year.

Beckham isn't alone. In a piece on Juan Pierre, MLB.com Reporter Scott Merkin wrote "Pierre has begun a steady climb back toward excellence. He already feels better in the season's second week than he did during his first week as an American Leaguer." Indeed, Pierre has made it a habit of bucking up Sox fans during a particularly rough couple of innings with a base hit or a homerun.

So far I've been describing the glass half-full for the Sox. Make no mistake, there's plenty of room for improvement. Even though the Sox have earned a good number of runs in each game so far they've mainly come from homeruns. That's all well and good; a good baseball team needs to be able to get the fireworks going, but they can't depend on it and that's exactly what the South Siders have been doing. Add that to inconsistent pitching and lack of a definitive closer (is it Thornton or Jenks?) and no wonder the Sox are one of the worst teams in baseball right now.

Nevertheless, I have faith. The Sox have never been a fast team. In my Sox-watching lifetime I can remember far more games won in the later innings or off of players who are by no means fast runners than anything else. This is a team that takes its time to dominate.

No, they aren't out yet, just wait.

Daniel Strauss

Bulls Tue Apr 20 2010

As The Bulls Turn: Checkmate, Bulls

"If you come at the King, you best not miss." You're the Chicago Bulls and you gave King James all he could handle, the bad news? You did everything right and still lost. (The Bulls are Stinkum and Weebay, LeBron is Scar and Omar is the refs? fate? You make the call, readers.) You came at the King and you missed, Chicago. The Bulls only had four turnovers! That's a franchise playoff record, MJ's teams never did that in a game and Chicago still lost. Four of the Bulls starting five scored in double figures, with three of them (Deng, Rose and Noah) going for 20+ and the Bulls still lost. Chicago killed Cleveland on the offensive glass, created second-chance shot opportunities and still lost by double-digits. How did this happen? Well, this guy, for one had a major say in it: 40 points, 16-23 from the field, 6-6 from the charity stripe, 8 boards, 8 dimes, 2 threes, and only 2 turnovers in 41 minutes of game time. LeBron is the best player in the world right now.

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Brian Lauvray / Comments (2)

Cycling Mon Apr 19 2010

Vernon Hills, Palos Workday, Monsters

Registration's open for the 4th Annual Vernon Hills Grand Prix on May 2. This crit, like most other crits in the area, will sell out for the Men's 4 and 5 and likely the Women's 3/4 as well. The Vernon Hills course is a mild one -- about a mile long and with easy corners -- a good introduction to crit racing.

Then there's the Monsters of the Midway, held on the Midway Plaisance on Sunday, May 15 in front of the University of Chicago. This race is a favorite -- if not for its proximity to the city (it's in the city!) -- but also for the cutting westerly wind that usually splits the fields up. The course is a simple one, just around the plaisance, but maintaining position with every lap is tough and requires lots of cunning and hard work.

Lastly, building and maintaining mountain bike trails is tough but rewarding work. Filling in holes, repairing winter and rain damage, and smoothing out dangerous transitions is what makes good trails great. On May 8, CAMBR is sponsoring a work day to help get the Palos trails in good shape for the summer and autumn riding season. Volunteering is highly smiled upon and will be rewarded greatly. Bring boots and bike -- the tools will be provided.

Zach Thomas

The Turncoat Mon Apr 19 2010

The Turncoat

Sports, like politics, religion and pop culture, attracts fanaticism of a very vicious nature. When there are rivalries involved, the typical sports fan can regress from jovial enthusiast to belligerent maniac. Anyone who has been a Gapers Block reader long enough to remember the comments from Ramsin Canon's "Hate, Hate, Hate the White Sox" column (comments now rendered even more hilarious since the Sox did eventually go on to win it all) will note that not even the classy denizens of this website can abstain from ad hominem attacks and personal insults regarding the other side's sexuality, socio-economic status and level of education when defending their team. Even though Chicago is easily the greatest city in the world and stuffed to the condos with admirable people, we tend to turn pretty barbaric when the Packers come to Soldier Field, the Red Wings visit the United Center and, most of all, when the Cubs and White Sox are compared in any capacity what-so-ever.

So it is with that in mind, that I leave you with the following warnings: if you are a Northsider with a perpetual dislike of Sox fans, you will come to loathe me. If the thought of someone scribing preference of the White Sox and The Cell over that of the Cubs and Wrigley Field is a notion that angers your blood, then you will most likely curse my name to your grandchildren. None of this is my intention of course, I am not picking a fight. I am merely examining the facts of this city and my own life. For you see, I used to be one of you, but my taste in baseball has since matured. I used to be a Cubs fan but I now root for the White Sox. I am a turncoat.

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Rick Abplanalp / Comments (21)

Cubs Sun Apr 18 2010

Cubs Weekly Round Up

The Cubs opened the week at home on Monday against the Brewers. They won their home opener 9-5. Game two would belong to them as they beat the Brew Crew 7-6. The victory would be their first series win of the season. They would miss the chance to sweep their rivals to the North as the Brewers salvaged game three 8-6.

Friday the Cubs took on the last place Houston Astros who came in with a record of 1-8. The Cubbies took game one 7-2. They trailed 2-1 early, but a six run seventh inning put the Cubs in the win column. Derrek Lee's three-run homer would put the game out of reach. Cubs starter Carlos Silva pitched seven strong innings.

Continue reading this entry »

Brian Livingston

Fire Sun Apr 18 2010

Finally a Win for the Fire

After three less-than-satisfactory weeks of the MLS season, the Chicago Fire finally clinched a victory. With a late surge in last night's game against D.C. United, the Fire scored two goals, coming away with a secure win and leaving D.C. in a rut.

Both teams entered last night's matchup winless, and thankfully it didn't end that way. Even though D.C. held off the Fire for a majority of the game, they presented few scoring opportunities. Brian McBride, who sat out most of the game due to a sore leg, entered in the 76th minute, and that was the end for D.C. Marco Pappa scored three minutes later, after driving in a crossing pass from Patrick Nyarko. Shortly after that, McBride sealed the win. After D.C. attempted a weak shot in response to Pappa, Fire goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra delivered a free kick out towards his teammates. The ball landed in the penalty area on D.C.'s side, where McBride offered up a stunning header.

Now the Fire, 1-2-1, head back to Toyota Park next Saturday against the Houston Dynamos. And with this turn in the season, the Fire hope to continue their run and obtain a two-game win streak.

Vanessa Day

White Sox Sat Apr 17 2010

Today's Important Game For White Sox Pitching

There have been a number of unanswered questions going around about White Sox pitching. Where's Daniel Hudson? Should Sergio Santos be playing more? Why is Freddy Garcia a starter? Is Jake Peavy really worth all the patience White Sox fans have given?

The answer to that last question may begin today with Peavy's third start this year against the Cleveland Indians. His last two games (first against Cleveland and then the Toronto Blue Jays, respectively) resulted in disappointing performances. The Sox lost to Cleveland 3-5 and barely won against Toronto, 8-7 leaving Peavy with a 8.44 ERA. This isn't how many pictured games would go with Peavy on the mound.

Still, it's a bit early to make definitive claims on whether the Peavy acquisition was a mistake. He has pitched well for the Sox in the past (a late game against Detroit last season comes to mind) and in general, Ozzie Guillen seems pretty calm that the South Siders will improve, Peavy included. That's sensible.

On the other hand, if the Sox want to be competitive, they have to start acting like it, fast -- and pitching is no exception. Starters like Peavy and Garcia need to show that they deserve to be on the mound. Otherwise people won't be wondering about that Peavy question or that Hudson one.

Daniel Strauss

Blackhawks Fri Apr 16 2010

Want to see the game?

With puck-drop a little over 5 hours from now, the NHL playoffs will finally be back in Chicago! The first two nights have seen a spate of upsets, so the Blackhawks will be looking to tame the Predators and jump out to an early series lead.

If you're looking for a place to watch the game with some like-minded fans, options abound.

First, if you really want to get in on the action (and have the money to do so), Ticketmaster's box office is still surprisingly showing tickets available for tonight's game. There's also plenty of seats above face value listed on the Blackhawks Ticketexchange.

If Tax Day left your pockets lighter, but you still want to join up with other fans to cheer on the Hawks, head out to any of the official Blackhawks bars. Though you may want to call ahead to check, with the Cubs game wrapping up this afternoon and the Sox in Cleveland, most if not all of the tvs in these fine drinking emporiums should be tuned into the game.

And of course, don't forget your playoff beard, and raise money for the Blackhawks charities while doing so.

Let's go Hawks!

Jeremy Piniak

Blackhawks Thu Apr 15 2010

Blackhawks-Predators playoff preview

The Hawks and Predators haven't played each other since Dec. 27, but the two foes should find themselves on familiar ground pretty quickly once the puck drops Friday. Though the Blackhawks took the season series 4-2, all the games were tightly contested, and the playoffs should be more of the same.

Chicago's got the obvious advantage of depth and talent, but the Predators have the ingredients to make the series interesting.

Nashville is a team that can be deceptive. They gave up 4 more goals than they scored during the regular season, and their power play and penalty kill ranked 24th and 28th, respectively, yet they managed to score 100 points and earn their 5th playoff birth in 6 seasons, a testament to Barry Trotz's coaching ability and the team's system. The Predators play a trapping style of game, content to rely on their defense and take advantage of turnovers and mistakes to generate their offense. However, despite their consistency, they've yet to win a playoff series or win a road playoff game, a major factor given the Hawks 29-8-4 home record.

Here's how the teams stack up:

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Jeremy Piniak

Roller Derby Wed Apr 14 2010

Ready or Not, Here Comes the Chicago Outfit

Derby-Dame.jpg

It's natural that an upstart sports league to feel a bit, well, overshadowed by the older and more established leagues in town. Althea N. Hell, bench coach for the The Chicago Outfit, looks at being the newer and thus lesser-known roller derby league in Chicago from a more pragmatic point of view: "Frankly, I love being the underdog. It keeps the fire under your ass."

That keeper-of-the-flame (albeit under one's ass) attitude fairly sums up the Outfit, which started in 2007 after a previous roller derby league, the Chi-Town Sirens, imploded. Today the Outfit boasts about 30 skaters from Chicago and the surrounding area. The league is currently revving up for their third season, beginning with a double header home bout on Saturday, April 24 against the Paper Valley Roller Girls of Appleton, Wisconsin.

Killamazoo Derby Darlins vs. The Chicago<br />
Outfit - June 6 2009 (54 of 72)
Jammer Queefer Sutherland (in the grey, starred helmet) speeds through the pack with some help from Daddy's Girl in a 2009 bout vs. the Killamazoo Derby Darlins. Photo courtesy of colin e. johnson.

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Kara Luger / Comments (1)

Bulls Wed Apr 14 2010

As The Bulls Turn: It's an Opera BUT With Soap!

Congrats, Bulls & Bulls fans. Your team, through the general awfulness of the lower tier teams in the Eastern Conference and fortuitously timed injuries, has qualified for the playoffs. Your just rewards? Some just losses at the hands of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Throughout the injuries to Joakim Noah, Derrick Rose, Luol Deng, Kirk Hinrich, everyone else; throughout the comically awkward "firing" of Vinny Del Negro that never occurred; throughout the pathetic, telenovela-drafted dramz going on with John Paxson and VDN right now; the Bulls have steadily, well, tried not to lose too many games. But that fun, that ends now. The Cavs should steamroll Chicago with a storm trooper's proficiency; Vinny will get canned; Paxson will go on some meds and the Bulls PR machine will do its best best to coax and convince a Bosh, or Wade, or whomever over in the free agency gold rush this offseason. Let's breakdown this coming Playoff demolition:

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Brian Lauvray

Windy City Rollers Tue Apr 13 2010

Fury Wallop Manic Attackers, XX Roll Over Hell's Belles

Manic jammer
Manic Jammer Zoe Trocious speeds past Fury Jammer Jackie Daniels.

The Windy City Rollers' April 10 bout was exciting as The Fury took on last year's Ivy King Cup champs, the Manic Attackers. Unfortunately for the Manics, The Fury was ready for the competition, taking the game 110-85. In the second game pitting the Hell's Belles vs. the Double Crossers (XX), the Crossers came back from their previous defeat by The Fury to dominate over the Belles 158-75.

XX v. Belles
Double Crosser jammer Indy Cent (far left) passes through the pack.

Sheik yer Booty
WCR official Sheik Yerbouti, in what may be the best nom de referee ever.

All photos courtesy of Katie Hovland.

Kara Luger

Chicago Tue Apr 13 2010

St. Alfred + Nike/Wicker Park = World Cup Haven

StAlfredPress.jpg

The last thing the gentrified and hipster-loaded 'hood of Wicker Park needs is another boutique ripe for, uhh, more gear and alternate, limited editions for hipsters to buy. Fortunately, the parents of Wicker Park's newest purveryors of cool, St. Alfreds and Nike, know exactly what is up and have birthed a humble and fresh-as-heck tribute to the World Cup. The space is next door to the original St. Alfred's at 1529 N. Milwaukee and offers an eclectic offering of gear doled out by various artists and designers from World Cup (and soccer-mad) countries such as, Brasil, The Netherlands, France, Mexico and the host nation of South Africa.

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Brian Lauvray

Roller Derby Tue Apr 13 2010

Lois Lane was a Derby Girl

Be still my roller-skatin', comics-lovin', ever-nerdy heart: In some insane 1979 plot involving "Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane," our girl was skatin' derby and uncovering the evils of motorized skates. I can tell you now, this move isn't regulation.

Awesome find by Slay, Monstrobot of the Deep!!

Kara Luger

Cubs Tue Apr 13 2010

Cubs Bats Come Alive At Home, Win 9-5

The Cubs returned home Monday to the Wrigley faithful after a woeful 2-4 road trip. Ryan Dempster had the honor of pitching the first game in front of the home crowd. While he wasn't as sharp as he was last Wednesday in Atlanta he did have one thing working for him in the home opener. Run support and plenty of it.

Dempster pitched six and a third innings and gave up seven hits, five earned runs and he struck out five. He threw a season high 114 pitches. Unlike his first start in Atlanta Dempster was a victim of lack of run support. That wouldn't be the case in his second outing. The Cubs offense came to life against Brewers starter and Cub-nemesis, Doug Davis.

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Brian Livingston

Bulls Mon Apr 12 2010

As The Bulls Turn: Noah Went "Hero" Yesterday

Derrick Rose had a very, very complete game in a must-win situation for the Chicago Bulls. He dropped 26 on the flailing Torontosaurus Rexes and had four boards, one steal, one block and seven dimes. Rose did the right things on offense: he penetrated, he cut, he passed, he took smart high percentage shots (for the most part). But then there was Noah. The pony tailed, pogo-legged, Noah grabbing every rebound and altering shots on the defensive end and shooting 70% from the field and passing out seven assists on the offensive end. Noah and Rose set a pace and tone throughout the game that forced the rest of the Bulls to follow and ***sports cliche alert*** buy into "refusing to lose." Might I say, it's about time. We all know Vinny Del Negro's attempt at motivation was probably him walking into the Visitor's locker room at Air Canada wearing some Wayfarers and blasting "Takin' Care of Business" by Bachman Turner Overdrive on a boombox. Meanwhile, Noah and Rose rolled their eyes and said "Here we go again."

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Brian Lauvray

Blackhawks Mon Apr 12 2010

Blackhawks & Nashville Face Off Friday, Regular Season Wrap-up

So, here we go. After a successful season, now the real fun begins for the Blackhawks, who face the Nashville Predators in the first round of the NHL playoffs, beginning on Friday. Puck drops at 7:30pm at the United Center.

First things first, due to confluence of reasons, it's been a few weeks since I posted. Quickly wrapping up the regular season:

After a dismal March, the Hawks started to refocus, reeling off 6 straight wins before losing 3-2 in overtime to Detroit yesterday to finish up the season.

Because of that loss, and San Jose's win the previous night, the Sharks claimed the top seed in the Western Conference, while Chicago had to settle for number 2.

Thanks to Detroit's win, and the L.A. Kings shootout victory on Sunday, both teams leapfrogged Nashville in the standings, leaving the Predators as the Hawks' first round opponent.

With Detroit's loss Easter Sunday just before the Hawks' 4-1 win over the Calgary Flames, the Blackhawks claimed their first division title in 17 years. They followed that up by setting franchise records in both wins (52) and points (112), breaking the previous totals of 49 and 107 (though it should be noted, both these totals were before the shootout was introduced, meaning teams could finish a game tied and earn a single point).

Now that that's all covered, it's time to look ahead.

The Hawks beat the Predators 4-2 in the season series, though thanks to some weird scheduling quirks, the two teams haven't seen each other since Dec. 27. There will be a bigger playoff preview later this week, but in the meantime, here's the first-round schedule (with Games 5-7 if necessary, naturally).

Game 1: April 16, 7:30 p.m., United Center (Vs.)
Game 2: Sunday, April 18, 7:30 p.m., United Center (Vs.)
Game 3: Tuesday, April 20, 8 p.m., Bridgestone Arena (Vs.)
Game 4: Thursday, April 22, 7:30 p.m., Bridgestone Arena (Vs.)
Game 5: Saturday, April 24, 2 p.m., United Center (NBC)
Game 6: Monday, April 26, TBD, Bridgestone Arena
Game 7: Wednesday, April 28, TBD, United Center

Jeremy Piniak

Cubs Mon Apr 12 2010

Wrigley Renovations Have Cubs Fans Ready For Opening Day

WrigleyScoreboard.jpg

When the Ricketts family purchased the Chicago Cubs for a cool $900 million back in early 2009, Tom Ricketts made it very clear that the necessary improvements and changes would be made to make the Cubs a perpetually competitive outfit on the field and that Wrigley Field would be a leader in fan experience. While the verdict is still out for the Cubs on-field performance, the renovations and enhancements of Wrigley itself are apparent and impressive. As the Cubs head into Chicago for their home opener against Milwaukee on Monday afternoon; Tailgate, along with other media members, was invited to check out the new enhancements this past Friday.

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Brian Lauvray

White Sox Sun Apr 11 2010

Sox Snap Four Game Skid, Win 5-4

The White Sox needed to stop the bleeding before it got any worse. Mark Buehrle did just that. He pitched eight strong innings and limited the Twins offense to four runs. It didn't look good for the Sox earlier on as the Twins scored two runs in the first inning, but Buehrle would battle back and limit the damage. He looked to be in mid-season form in just his second start of the season.

While he kept the Twins to just four runs he would need a little help from his offense too. He got just that. The Sox offense tied the game back up in the bottom of the first on the strength of a Paul Konerko two-run homer, his third of the year. Mark Kotsay and Gordon Beckham also hit their first home runs of the season.

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Brian Livingston

Fire Sun Apr 11 2010

Heartbreaking Loss in Fire Home Opener

Fans were out early enjoying the warm spring weather. The smell of charcoal and grilled meat filled the parking lots, as beer flowed freely among the crowds that gathered in celebration of the first game of the season. Everyone adorned themselves with bright red apparel before entering the stadium. The excitement in the air was palpable as the national anthem was sung and the players took the field. The charged crowd chanted in support as the Chicago Fire took on the San Jose Earthquakes in last night's home opener at Toyota Park. But spirits left a little lower after a game full of thrills and heartbreaks.

The match began on a high note with a record crowd of 20,276 in attendance. Prior to kickoff, fans offered a touching moment of silence for the tragedy in Poland, and Polish flags were raised in honor of the late president. Then a motivating and uplifting video montage of last season's highlights and cheering fans displayed on the big screen, welcoming the Fire back home for the new season. As fireworks pierced the sky, everyone was fired up.

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Vanessa Day

Cubs Sun Apr 11 2010

Big Z Plus Bullpen Equals A 4-3 Cubs Win

After Carlos Zambrano's atrocious start on Opening Day against the Atlanta Braves it left many fans with a sinking feeling of, 'oh no, here we go again'. Flash forward to Saturday afternoon in Cincinnati Zambrano was looking to bounce back. While it looked like it would be a repeat of Monday after Big Z spotted the Reds three runs early, however, he would finish strong and his offense would come to the rescue.

El Toro pitched seven strong innings, gave up six hits, three runs, two walks and struck out nine. Almost like night and day for Z. The offense was home run happy Saturday afternoon. Of course being at the Great American Ballpark didn't hurt either. Kosuke Fukudome got the Cubs on the board with a two-run homer, his first of the season.

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Brian Livingston

Chicago Fri Apr 09 2010

Weekend What-To-Do

Huge amount of Sports, Sports, Sports going down in Chicago this weekend so let's jump right in, shall we?

Blackhawks

Tonight! Against the Colorado Avalanche. The 'Hawks clinched the Central Division but really, why wouldn't they wanna destroy the Colorado Avalanche, am I right? Puck drops at 9:30.

Bulls

Tonight! Live from the swamplands of New Jersey. The Bulls desperately need a win tonight before traveling north of the border to take on the Toronto Raptors on Sunday night. Must Win. Tip off is 7:00 pm and being broadcast on Comcast.

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Brian Lauvray

Roller Derby Fri Apr 09 2010

Rock Out for the Chicago Riots!

You like awesome local rock bands, right? And, if I know you, you also like roller derby. Well, head to Reggie's (2109 S. State St.) on Thursday, April 15 to check out a show to raise funds for the Chicago Riots, the all-new local junior roller derby league. The grrl-tastic groups playing include The Runnies, Hollows, and 8 Inch Betsy. The show runs 7-10 p.m., tickets are only $8, and it's open to all ages.

Kara Luger

Fire Fri Apr 09 2010

Excitement Builds for Fire Home Opener

The pitch is set for an exciting match up. Empty seats await charged fans. The Fire will soon be ignited. On the edge of your seat yet? If not, the Chicago Fire's home opener will certainly get you there.

Tomorrow night's game marks the fifth season at Toyota Park, and it's expected to be a sell out show. Chicago fans have been eager to welcome the team back to the park, their anticipation elevating for the new season. The Fire are coming off a promising tie last week against the Rapids, while the San Jose Earthquakes have been sitting idle since their 3-0 loss to Salt Lake two weeks ago. Even though the Fire have the momentum, injuries could hurt their chances for victory. John Thorrington is out for two more weeks, and Logan Pause remains questionable with a leg injury. Wilman Conde sat out last week, but has been practicing the last few days and is set to play. The players say they are excited to step in front of their own fans again, knowing the energized crowd will push them to perform at their best. As for coach Carlos de los Cabos, the stakes are even higher. A win in his home debut would be ideal, setting the stage for the rest of the season.

Sure, the soccer season has technically already started. But for the Fire and dedicated fans, it all begins with a 7:30 p.m. kickoff tomorrow night.

Vanessa Day

Bulls Fri Apr 09 2010

As The Bulls Turn: Where Chicago Barely Beat Cleveland

I had a fun/awesome (really, it was that good) piece about what an incredibly dominant figure LeBron is for Cleveland and of course he decided to take the game off and just sit in a suit on the bench and think about his party at Cuvee or the new Shrek that's coming out this summer or whatnot. Frustrating. In any case, if you really wanna discuss LeBron hit me up on the Twitter machine and we'll talk.

Let's talk about this game right now, LeBron was out, the Bulls shot over 50% from the field, outrebounded the Cavs and Cleveland was really feeling the whole "F*ck it, it's the end of the regular season" and it showed in their game and the Bulls still only won by one. O, Chicago Bulls, you're such a funny team.

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Brian Lauvray / Comments (3)

White Sox Fri Apr 09 2010

Sox Bats As Cold As The Weather, Lose 5-3 in 11 Innings

Clutch hitting has been hard to come by for the South Siders as they drop their second straight decision to the Indians in extra innings. They were just 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position and they left 11 men on base in this one.

Sox starter Gavin Floyd pitched well enough to keep his team in the game only giving up two runs in just six innings of work. He struck out seven as well. He left before his team re-took the lead in the bottom of the seventh on a Carlos Quentin two-run homer, his first of the season. It would be a short lived lead as Sox reliever Matt Thornton would give right back in the top of the eighth.

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Brian Livingston

Cubs Fri Apr 09 2010

Wells Puts Cubs In The Win Column,

Like Ryan Dempster last night Cubs starter Randy Wells pitched well enough to earn a victory. The only question that remained would be could the bullpen hold the lead. Wells pitched six innings and allowed six hits and struck out one.

His efforts would be supported by rookie outfielder Tyler Colvin who launched his first major league home run in the second inning off Braves starter Tommy Hanson. The Cubs would add to that lead in the fourth when center fielder Marlon Byrd hit his second home run of the season. That would be all the offense the Cubs would put forth on Thursday night.

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Brian Livingston

White Sox Thu Apr 08 2010

Peavy So-So, Sox Lose 5-3

It wasn't the way Jake Peavy wanted his first start of 2010 to go. Peavy was less than stellar in his first outing in front of the home crowd Wednesday night at U.S. Cellular Field. The Sox offense spotted Peavy with three runs early. Two of those runs came off the bat of Paul Konerko who hit his second home run of the season in the bottom of the third inning. The offense went cold after that. They were not able to take advantage of the six walks issued by Indians starter Fausto Carmona.

Unfortunately, Peavy would give-up the 3-0 lead in the fourth inning surrendering three runs of his own. He threw 106 pitches in just five innings of work. Sox manager Ozzie Guillen was forced to go to his bullpen early after the departure of Peavy in the fifth. The bullpen wouldn't be much help though as they allowed the Indians to score two runs in final four innings.

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Brian Livingston

Cubs Thu Apr 08 2010

Cubs Bullpen Collapses Late In 3-2 Loss

The Cubs needed a quality outing out of Ryan Dempster Wednesday night after Monday's whopping courtesy of the Braves. They got just that, however, the bullpen failed to hold up its end of the deal. Dempster threw six innings of three-hit ball. He surrendered one run and struck out nine.

The Cubs offense was non-existent Wednesday evening as they only managed to scrap out two runs against Braves starter Jair Jurrjens. One of the two runs came as a result of botched inning-ending double play by Braves first baseman Troy Glaus. Their second run came on a Ryan Theriot sac fly.

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Brian Livingston

Sky Wed Apr 07 2010

Big Three-Way Trade, Upcoming Draft Kickoff WNBA Season for Chicago Sky

2009 wasn't a banner year for Chicago's professional sports teams, and that goes for the ladies as well. Last year was the Chicago Sky's best season yet, but the WNBA's second-youngest team still couldn't extend their average to .500. Now, as the Sky and the rest of the WNBA gear up for the league's fourteenth season, a host of free agents, trades, and a guard-heavy draft are poised to change things up. Today saw some big moves for the Sky, as a three-way trade with the New York Liberty and the Phoenix Mercury netted them two new star players.

WNBA All-Star forward Shameka Christon is the cornerstone of this trade from the Sky's perspective. Christon, who scored an average of 16.1 points per game last year (11.6 is her career average), is ranked #2 in the league for three-point field goals made. She also has an impressive .81 career field goal percentage. She's played with the Liberty for her entire professional career, since 2004. Her addition to the team boosts the Sky's WNBA All-Star count to three, along with center Sylvia Fowles and guard Jia Perkins.

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Marissa Flaxbart

Windy City Rollers Wed Apr 07 2010

The Fury Revs Up for the Manic Attackers, April 10

Hot on the heels after their last bout on March 27, the Windy City Rollers are at it again on Saturday, April 10 at the UIC Pavilion (525 S Racine). The March game ended with Manic Attackers bringing back their game and rolling over the Hell's Belles 121-59. The second game saw the Fury walloping Double Crossers 128-51.

This time, check out the action as The Fury skates against the Manic Attackers and Double Crossers go head-to-head with Hell's Belles. The first game starts at 6 p.m. Get your tickets here or at the door.

Kara Luger

Bulls Wed Apr 07 2010

As The Bulls Turn: No Bogut, No Problem for Milwaukee

You're the Milwaukee Bucks. You just lost your dominant big man (Andrew Bogut) to a gruesome arm injury (a fracture, sprain and dislocation, gnarly!) for the rest of the year. You're playing the Chicago Bulls and the Bulls are desperate for a "W" to try and make the playoffs. Well, at least Chicago should be desperate for a win, judging by their play last night however, the Bulls are desperate for this season to be over (don't worry guys, five games left to go.)

Look at that box score. That's not a box score for a full NBA game, that's a box score for 2.5 quarters of a game. You want a bona fide NBA box score? Try on this Oklahoma City-Utah number. This wasn't some classic defensive battle, though the Bucks are actually a very good defensive squad. The Bulls are just awful right now, 16 turnovers; 4-12 shooting from Hinrich; 5-12 shooting from Rose; 3-11 from three point land. I guess you can applaud the coaches for only playing Pargo for six minutes. The whole team: LOLZ, ROFL, LMAO, et cetera.

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Brian Lauvray

Bulls Tue Apr 06 2010

Tailgate Talks: David Berri of Wages of Wins

Last month in the first installment of Tailgate Talks, we featured Rick Telander, the celebrated Chicago Sun-Times sports columnist and author of the seminal Heaven Is A Playground. This month, Tailgate is talking with a nouveau member of the Fourth Estate and qualified "brain-hurting smart" economist, David Berri. Berri and his colleague Martin Schmidt maintain the popular, numbers-intensive, basketball blog, Wages Of Wins, the duo's second book, Stumbling On Wins, is out now (Tailgate will have a review of it later this week) and both of them are noted economists in the fields of sports economics and macroeconomics (where the "brain-hurting smart" comes in handy.)

Mr. Berri was generous enough to share his time and thoughts on the Chicago Bulls, their season, Derrick Rose's development and the "new stats" of sports among other things. Here is the email Q 'n A that Berri and Tailgate shared over the weekend.

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Brian Lauvray / Comments (2)

White Sox Tue Apr 06 2010

Mark Buehrle is Ridiculous

Ever see a between-the-legs gloved-hand toss to a bare-handed catch for a first base out before?

If that's the sort of thing we can expect from the White Sox this year, we've got a lot to look forward to.

Andrew Huff

Fire Tue Apr 06 2010

Chicago Fire deal on Groupon

OK, this deal is pretty darn awesome -- $37 ($75 value) for one ticket to the April 10 Chicago Fire game with access to the Miller Lite Party Deck and an Adidas Chicago Fire scarf. The April 10 game starts at 7:30pm and is against the San Jose Earthquakes, though it looks like a few other games are also up for discounts. You can sign up for Groupon at groupon.com/chicago.

Shanna Quinn

Cubs Tue Apr 06 2010

Braves Tomahawk Zambrano, Cubs

A 16-5 loss was not the way Carlos Zambrano nor Cubs fans envisioned starting the 2010 season. Zambrano lasted an inning and a third surrendering eight earned runs and two home runs. It was a bad showing by Cubs Monday afternoon at Turner Field.

Things didn't start off on such a bad note, however, as the Cubs offense showed some patience at the plate against Braves starter Derek Lowe. New comer Marlon Byrd got the Cubs going in the top of the first with a three-run homer. Unfortunately it wouldn't be enough as Big Z would serve up six runs in the bottom of the first.

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Brian Livingston

Basketball Tue Apr 06 2010

Bulldogs, Blue Devils and the NCAA, oh my!

The 2010 national championship game between Butler and Duke was truly a match-up of David versus Goliath. Both teams gave 110 percent and took it one game at a time. Unfortunately, one team just wanted it more. Tired of overused sports clichés? Thought so.

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Raf Onak

Slaughter Mon Apr 05 2010

Interview with Jarrett Payton

Jarrett Payton, son of legendary Chicago Bear Walter Payton, signed with the Chicago Slaughter as their Running Back for the 2010 season. The Slaughter season opened just over a month ago and Payton has already rushed for four touchdowns and thrown for one. Read on as Jarrett talks with GB about his love for Chicago and football.

action-slaughter.JPG

How does competing internationally compare to being in your hometown Chicago?

Competing nationally and internationally is cool, but there is nothing that beats playing in your hometown. Chicago has seen me grow up -- not just in sports -- but they have seen me grow from a baby into becoming a man. I'm not just bringing in fans of Chicago Slaughter, but bringing in Payton family fans and the Foundation folks. And, the kids who are 10 and under are getting involved and becoming Payton fans -- football fans. Being in one of the top sports cities in the nation and playing in my backyard is the best.

Which team are you looking forward to challenging most this year?

I can't wait to play Rochester again because we played them the first time I ever played indoors [Slaughter Home Opener 02/27/10... Slaughter lost 47-49 with a last minute field goal by Rochester]. There was a lot going on that day and I want to play them again.

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Shanna Quinn

Fire Mon Apr 05 2010

Tie with the Rapids is Promising for Fire

The Chicago Fire put on a show in Colorado on Saturday. The result? A well-deserved 2-2 tie against the Rapids. Even though it was a draw, the Fire are satisfied considering their opening loss last weekend. This tie gives the Fire momentum heading into their home opener against San Jose.

The players made improvements from the first match, with Brian McBride and Collins John attacking the defense aggressively. John made his first MLS goal in the 25th minute with a stunning header off a corner kick. Despite heading into the half down 2-1, the Fire never showed defeat. They began the second half determined, and it paid off. Patrick Nyarko stripped the ball from Rapids player Marvell Wynne and beat him down the pitch. After Wynne fouled Nyarko in the penalty area, McBride was able to even the score.

Though both teams pushed to break the tie, not many chances were presented for a goal. The Rapids and the Fire ended the match level at 2-2. Now the Fire are preparing for their first game of the season at Toyota Park this Saturday, April 10. Tickets are still available. If you can't make it to the game, tune in at 7:30 p.m. on MLS Direct Kick.

Vanessa Day

Baseball Mon Apr 05 2010

Opening Day 2010: White Sox Host Tribe, Cubs In Atlanta

uscell.jpg

Spring has returned to the Midwest and with its return so, too, has America's Pastime awakened from a long winter's nap. Baseball is back! Outside of the day after the Super Bowl, MLB Opening Day may be the most "called in sick" (cough, cough) day of the calendar and with the mercury pushing into the mid-70s this afternoon, Tailgate wholly endorses you take a long lunch, catch the Red Line heading towards 35th and grab a cheap seat at the Cell for a matinee between The Cleveland Indians and the Chicago White Sox. Mark Buehrle gets the start for the Sox and the game is being televised nationally on ESPN, the game starts at 1:05 Central Standard Time.

For fans of the North Siders the Cubs open the 2010 season in Atlanta and the usual suspects of Old Style slinging, Wrigleyville haunts are where you can catch the first pitch right around 3:10 this afternoon. Beloved and occasionally dominant Cubs pitcher, Carlos Zambrano gets the start in the ATL. Stuck in your office all day? Try catching the games on MLB's streaming video channels at MLB.com.

Brian Lauvray / Comments (2)

Bulls Sun Apr 04 2010

As The Bulls Turn: Will Somebody Clinch the 8th Seed??

If the playoffs were to start today, the Chicago Bulls would be on the outside looking in. Luckily for Bulls fans the NBA season still has 10 days left in the regular season and the Bulls still have six games to try and "catch" the Toronto Raptors for the unenviable task of playing the Cleveland LeBrons in round one.
The Bulls, who beat Washington and Charlotte in a weekend back-to-back, are now entering a final pivotal stretch of their season. With the Raptors loss on Sunday the Bulls are now one game behind Toronto and are hosting Milwaukee and, gulp, Cleveland at the United Center before traveling to the "suddenly competent, but not good, but still competent" New Jersey Nets and the Toronto Raptors at the Air Canada Centre (see, it's "Centre" 'cuz it's Canadian English, seriously). Meanwhile, the Torontosaurus Rexes face @Cleveland, Boston at Air Canada and @ Atlanta Hawks, so, yeah, if the Bulls are gonna make a push for the 8th seed: now is the time.

Continue reading this entry »

Brian Lauvray

Basketball Fri Apr 02 2010

Final Four: Where to Watch and Imbibe

Chicago is city of alums and regional emigres who, for whatever reason, are in the Second City. With the Final Four this weekend and with teams from across the country matching up, Tailgate decided to provide a guide to where one can wet their whistle and root on the ol' alma mater (except for Duke, natch).

Butler Bulldogs

Chicago is home to the most Butler alum outside of the Hoosier State and according to Butler Alumni President, Jenna Daugherty, all Butler fans flock to the "official home of Butler basketball the Brownstone Tavern."

Where Is It?


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The Least You Should Know
Aside from hosting Butler Bulldogs, Brownstone's website claims to host Texas fans as well. Also, there's a Kobe Meatloaf, which sounds baffling and dubious. Also, the menu has a Turkey Burger, so, cool. Tailgate tried calling about beer specials but the bar was not open yet.

Should I Show Up In Opposition's Colors?
Basketball is the unofficial religion of the entire state of Indiana. It is strongly recommended that you do not wear Michicagn State colors to Brownstone, unless you have a death wish in which case, by all means!

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Brian Lauvray / Comments (4)

Fire Thu Apr 01 2010

Chicago Fire Want YOU!...To Have Free Season Tix

The Chicago Fire kicked off their 2010 MLS Campaign this past weekend in NYC but their first home game isn't til April 10. That's the bad news. The good news? The Fire want you to have the chance to win FREE season tickets. Just text "CORNER" to 95248 for a chance to nab the coveted "Corner Kick" seats. Winners will be notified by April 6. Additionally, fans will receive Fire updates from 95248 throughout the season.

Brian Lauvray / Comments (1)

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