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Wednesday, December 19

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Football Fri Dec 31 2010

Big Ten Goes Bowling: New Year's Day Party

Thumbnail image for b10logo.jpgCollege football's swollen bowl season features eight Big Ten teams, but hopefully you have better things to do this final week of the year than stare vacantly at the TV for 25 or 30 anticlimactic hours. Let us help you decide which of those games might be worth your time.

Off to a 2-0 start following wins by Iowa over Missouri and Illinois over Baylor, the smorgasbord continues Saturday with Big Ten teams involved in five of the six New Year's Day games.

tcu.gifThumbnail image for wisconsin.gifRose Bowl
Wisconsin (11-1) vs. TCU (12-0)
Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif.
3:30 p.m., ESPN

Watchability factor: Very high

Two excellent, well coached, highly entertaining teams that can play with anyone in the nation? Sign me up. Oregon and Auburn set themselves apart this season to a degree, but it would have been great to see the Badgers and Horned Frogs show their stuff in a real playoff system. A historic Rose Bowl matchup will have to do.

Preview information | Wisconsin keys to the game | Extreme scouting nerdiness

alabama.gifThumbnail image for michigan state.gifCapital One Bowl
Michigan State (11-1) vs. Alabama (9-3)
Florida Citrus Bowl, Orlando, Fla.
12 p.m., ESPN

Watchability factor: High

The Spartans lost out to Ohio State and Wisconsin in bowl selection for Chamber of Commerce reasons, but they were every bit as impressive as their fellow Big Ten co-champions. Their national reputation would get a needed boost with a win over Alabama, a traditional power that began the season ranked No. 1 after winning the BCS title last year.

Preview information | Michigan State keys to the game | Extreme scouting nerdiness

missstate.gifThumbnail image for michigan.gifGator Bowl
Michigan (7-5) vs. Mississippi State (8-4)
EverBank Field, Jacksonville, Fla.
12:30 p.m., ESPN2

Watchability factor: Good

Denard Robinson and the Michigan offense are always worth your time, but the Wolverines were generally an average team this season. Their porous defense will have a hard time holding Mississippi State's spread offense in check. Bad news for Michigan's chances of victory, but good news for the casual viewer.

Preview information | Michigan keys to the game | Extreme scouting nerdiness

florida.gifThumbnail image for penn state.gifOutback Bowl
Penn State (7-5) vs. Florida (7-5)
Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla.
12 p.m., ABC

Watchability factor: Moderate

Two decent teams, but the best things about this matchup are the head coaches -- the 46-year-old is the one who's retiring -- and the shared history of success. Both Penn State and Florida had uneven seasons; a watchable game but hardly a must-see.

Preview information | Penn State keys to the game | Extreme scouting nerdiness

texastech.gifThumbnail image for northwestern.gifTicketCity Bowl
Northwestern (7-5) vs. Texas Tech (7-5)
Cotton Bowl, Dallas
11 a.m., ESPNU

Watchability factor: Low

Northwestern has been just a mess since losing Dan Persa, one of the nation's most valuable quarterbacks. The youngster(s) filling his role likely have improved through several weeks of bowl practice, but it's hard to envision the Wildcats breaking through for their first bowl win since 1949.

Preview information | Northwestern keys to the game | Extreme scouting nerdiness

Jim Reedy

Blackhawks Thu Dec 30 2010

Toews Injury Gives Hawks Another Hurdle

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for blackhawks.gifWhile the Blackhawks were happy to have both Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa back on the ice the past few games, the good feelings were short-lived. A 3-1 loss to the Blues on Tuesday was painful, especially given the Hawks' lackluster play, but seeing Jonathan Toews leave the game with "an upper body injury" (apparently his right shoulder) after being slammed awkwardly into the boards was downright gut-wrenching.

In the 11 games that Hossa and/or Kane didn't dress, Toews lifted the team on his back with six goals and eight assists while winning numerous key faceoffs and providing solid defensive zone coverage. As captain, his leadership and determination will also be missing, both on the ice and in the dressing room. During that stretch, the Blackhawks went 7-3-1 to keep themselves afloat in the Western Conference standings -- no small feat given the team's early struggles.

Continue reading this entry »

Jeremy Piniak

Football Wed Dec 29 2010

Big Ten Goes Bowling: Illinois vs. Baylor

Thumbnail image for b10logo.jpgCollege football's swollen bowl season features eight Big Ten teams, but hopefully you have better things to do this final week of the year than stare vacantly at the TV for 25 or 30 anticlimactic hours. Let us help you decide which of those games might be worth your time.

Off to a good start with Iowa's rousing win over Missouri last night in the Insight Bowl, the smorgasbord continues tonight with the Fighting Illini.

baylor.gifillinois.gifTexas Bowl
Illinois (6-6) vs. Baylor (7-5)
Reliant Stadium, Houston
5 p.m., ESPN

Watchability factor: Below average

Dynamic quarterback Robert Griffin led Baylor to its first bowl appearance in 16 years, but it's hard to get too excited for a meeting of teams with a combined 13-11 record. Illinois closed the regular season with three losses in four games -- the lone win a romp over Northwestern at Wrigley Field. Chicagoans will remember how dominant Mikel Leshoure and the Illini running game were that afternoon, and they'll need more where that came from as Corey Liuget, Martez Wilson and the defense battle Griffin.

Preview information | Illinois keys to the game | Extreme scouting nerdiness

Jim Reedy

Football Tue Dec 28 2010

Big Ten Goes Bowling: Iowa vs. Missouri

Thumbnail image for b10logo.jpgCollege football's swollen bowl season features eight Big Ten teams, but hopefully you have better things to do this final week of the year than stare vacantly at the TV for 25 or 30 anticlimactic hours. Let us help you decide which of those games might be worth your time.

The smorgasbord begins tonight with the house-afire Iowa Hawkeyes.

Thumbnail image for missouri.gifThumbnail image for iowa.gifInsight Bowl
Iowa (7-5) vs. Missouri (10-2)
Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Ariz.
9 p.m., ESPN

Watchability factor: Moderate

This game would have been awesome a few months ago, when Iowa looked like a Big Ten title contender and had actual Grade A skill players. Now the Hawkeyes are slap-fighting bad headlines and papering over massive offensive holes in the absences of starting tailback Adam Robinson, who was suspended for vague non-reasons (and has since been arrested for marijuana possession), and all-time leading receiver Derrell Johnson-Koulianos, who was allegedly living in a Tony Montana fantasy. Missouri, enjoying its third 10-win season in four years, is a clear favorite with quarterback Blaine Gabbert at the helm.

Preview information | Iowa keys to the game | Extreme scouting nerdiness

Jim Reedy

Bears Mon Dec 27 2010

Footballic Ramblings: Shootout!

Footballic_Ramblings2.jpg The Bears offense was humming on all cylinders against a purportedly dominant New York defense and yet the defense --typically, so steady and suffocating-- fell apart against of all teams, the Jets? Snuh? In any case, through the snow, the wind and the doubters, the Bears rolled up another win, 38-34. Standing between the Ursa Chicagoans and a first-round bye? The glowering and grim -faced Green Bay Packers. Through the smoke and rumblings of 15 games, these two teams have been keeping an eye on one another, knowing Week 17 was yet to come. For the Packers? A win and they're in the playoffs. For the Bears? Win and they get the bye. A loss? They likely will be facing the Packers again the following week at Soldier Field.

Continue reading this entry »

Brian Lauvray

Windy City Rollers Mon Dec 27 2010

Windy City Rollers Announce 2011 Schedule

windycityrollers.jpgThe dust has finally settled from the 2010 national flat-track derby championships held in Chicago, and the recent banked-track bout between the Windy City Rollers' All-Stars and the L.A. Derby Dolls.

Which means it's time for the Rollers to whip out the 2011 home season dates. All games are at the UIC Pavilion (525 S. Racine Ave).

Continue reading this entry »

Kara Luger

White Sox Sat Dec 25 2010

Merry Christmas from Tailgate


(H/T @southpaw)

And after seeing yesterday's "Twelve Days of Christmas" video from Joakim Noah and the Bulls, we had to dig up last year's offering: "Jingle Bulls." Make sure you stick around for Aaron Gray's jolly/creepy holiday chuckle and James Johnson's infectious enthusiasm.

Jim Reedy

Bulls Fri Dec 24 2010

Bulls Adjusting Without Noah

It's been a mixed bag for the Bulls without center Joakim Noah. In the first of an expected 30-plus games without its best rebounder and post defender, Chicago sandwiched a blowout win against the 76ers between a pair of tight games against the lackluster Clippers and Wizards.

Continue reading this entry »

Colin Hettinger / Comments (1)

Bears Thu Dec 23 2010

Footballic Ramblings: Bears Clinch NFC North Edition

Footballic_Ramblings2.jpg Congrats to the 2010 NFC North Divisional Champion Chicago Bears. I did not see this coming at all. I was wrong, dear readers. Dead. Wrong. I predicted 6-10. I predicted Lovie Smith being fired mid-season. I predicted the secondary being destroyed. I predicted Jay Cutler being injured before Week Six --okay, I was right on that one. I predicted the offensive line being horrible and the running game being a joke, sorta right there too. Still, the Bears have duct taped together one of the flukiest and bizarro seasons of success in recent memory.

Their 2006 Super Bowl squad? In possession of a galaxy-consuming, stormtrooper efficient defense of murderous convicts cryogenically frozen from when Australia was a penal colony. [What?! -Ed.]

Continue reading this entry »

Brian Lauvray

Blackhawks Wed Dec 22 2010

Divisional Foes Continue For Ailing Hawks

Thumbnail image for blackhawks.gifThe Blackhawks celebrate Christmas with a stocking giveaway ahead of tonight's game against the Nashville Predators, but some of the gifts the Hawks are hoping to find under the tree will be delayed beyond the weekend. Although Viktor Stalberg is expected back tonight, forward Marian Hossa won't return until after Christmas. Patrick Kane has had some setbacks to his ankle while skating and will have the holiday break to rest as well, but is also aiming to return next week.

Of course, while missing your stars is tough, if the Hawks continue to play the sound defense they showed in beating the Detroit Red Wings 4-1 Friday and the Los Angeles Kings 3-2 Sunday, they can survive a few more days.

Continue reading this entry »

Jeremy Piniak

Soccer Mon Dec 20 2010

Red Stars Become Latest WPS Team to Fall

red stars.jpgLast week, the Chicago Red Stars announced they will suspend operations for the 2011 Women's Professional Soccer season while they pursue additional funding with an eye toward returning in 2012. The loss of the Red Stars and FC Gold Pride, a Bay Area club that won the league championship this year, and the addition of the Western New York Flash leave the WPS with six teams as it approaches its third season.

Continue reading this entry »

Colin Hettinger

Cubs Sat Dec 18 2010

Cubs Pitching Moves Begin With Wood's Return

 Christmas has come early for Cubs fans. Two weeks after the death of franchise icon Ron Santo, they welcome back another beloved figure in Kerry Wood. (And in fact, Santo's passing had more than a little to do with Wood rediscovering his North Side roots.)

After two seasons in Cleveland and a brief stint with the Yankees, Kid K signed a one-year, $1.5-million deal, leaving potentially more lucrative deals on the table to return to the organization that drafted him in 1995. Wood will work with Sean Marshall setting up closer Carlos Marmol.

Continue reading this entry »

Brian Livingston / Comments (2)

Bears Fri Dec 17 2010

Footballic Ramblings: Frosty's Revenge

Footballic_Ramblings2.jpgAfter earlier forecasts were suggesting gametime temperatures hovering just above 0-degrees Fahrenheit, the notion of temps being in the teens is downright pleasant. Still, let's take a moment to ponder the worthlessness and weakness of man in the face of elemental fury. Seventeen inches of snow collapsed the Metrodome and its repair is now on permanent hiatus until the snow melts or conditions are deemed safe for workers to continue repairs. And now TCF Bank Stadium is being prepped and removed (albeit at a snow's snail's pace) of the drifts and drifts of accumulated snow that is officially a gajillion pounds of the white.

Continue reading this entry »

Brian Lauvray

Bulls Fri Dec 17 2010

Bulls Should Be OK Without Noah

Thumbnail image for chicagobulls.pngWith Joakim Noah out for the next 8-10 weeks after undergoing surgery yesterday to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in his right thumb, Bulls fans could be expected to be a bit pessimistic in forecasting the team's future. Yet Steve Rosenbloom and Melissa Isaacson aren't too worried, and neither am I.

Noah averages 14 points per game and ranks fifth in the NBA with 11.7 rebounds per game. And last year, Chicago fans might remember, the Bulls went 6-12 when he was out with a foot injury. But there are two big reasons to feel better about this stretch.

Continue reading this entry »

Colin Hettinger

Blackhawks Fri Dec 17 2010

Hawks Ready for Red Wings, Chelios Ceremony

Thumbnail image for blackhawks.gifAfter dropping three straight games to fall well off the pace in the Western Conference, the last thing the Blackhawks want to see is their hated rivals from Detroit, the conference-leading Red Wings. To make matters worse, after saying there was a chance he'd return to the lineup tonight, Patrick Kane suffered a setback with his ankle injury and will miss the game after all.

With Kane, Marian Hossa and now Viktor Stalberg (who was injured on a hit from behind Wednesday) all expected to miss the game, an already struggling Hawks team finds themselves still shorthanded, though Fernando Pisani is expected back after missing the past eight games.

Pisani's return should matter little against the Wings, who enter the game first in the Western Conference with 43 points and mostly healthy (new acquisition Mike Modano is out until March) after having their own injury issues last season. Detroit is always a tough opponent that uses puck-handling skills and patience to wear down teams and capitalize on their mistakes. With the way the Blackhawks defense has been playing lately, the Wings should be salivating at the opportunities the Hawks seem all too willing to provide. That said, there's always an extra spark of energy in the air when these two teams get together, and the Blackhawks may have some added motivation to step up their play.

Also providing some theatrics to the evening will be the Heritage night for recently (and finally!) retired Chris Chelios. Cheli will drop the ceremonial first puck and have video tributes aired during intermissions of the game, in what figures to cause a bit of a mixed reaction in the stands, given Chelios spent his final 10 seasons as a Red Wing after nine years with the Hawks. (We'll just ignore his seven games with the Atlanta Thrashers last season). However, such a reaction would be misguided.

Continue reading this entry »

Jeremy Piniak

White Sox Thu Dec 16 2010

White Sox: Post Winter Meetings, "We're All In"

Thumbnail image for white sox.gifThe Sox are replacing last year's "It's Black & White" ads with the very apropos "We're All In" campaign. While the new slogan clearly refers to the money spent on retaining Paul Konerko and A.J. Pierzynski and acquiring Adam Dunn rather than blowing the doors off their competition a la the Red Sox and Phillies, it is hard to take the assessment lightly.

Jerry Reinsdorf and Kenny Williams began the offseason with the possibility of saying goodbye to some key players, and they came back from Florida with a mighty lineup chock full of fan favorites and a shiny new lefty slugger. If White Sox hustle was black and white in 2010, White Sox power offense will be clear as day in 2011.

Assuming everyone else stays put, the lineup for next year is starting to become clearer. Williams has stated publicly that he isn't looking to move anyone else, not even Carlos Quentin whose name was being tossed around as possible trade fodder just weeks ago. Should that remain true, here is what the Opening Day lineup looks like right now.

Continue reading this entry »

Rick Abplanalp / Comments (1)

Bulls Thu Dec 16 2010

Bulls Lose Joakim Noah Until February

Well, that's no good at all.

Just as they were getting Carlos Boozer up to speed, the Bulls announced Joakim Noah needs thumb/hand surgery that will keep him out until February or March. Noah had been playing with torn ligaments in the thumb for 2-3 weeks; the idea here is surgery will have him at full strength for the playoffs in May and June.

Probably not a disaster for the Bulls, but disappointing news for anyone who's grown to love watching Noah's unique brand of exuberance and intensity on the court. Get ready for another big dose of Taj Gibson!

Jim Reedy

Cycling Wed Dec 15 2010

Cocktails With Christian

The Chicago Area Mountain Bikers advocacy organization is hosting a meet-and-drink Sunday, Jan. 2 in Tinley Park with local hotshot pro Christian Vande Velde of Team Garmin-Transitions. Vande Velde has had some major successes at the top tier of the sport of cycling and this event will allow guests to down a pint with and ask training advice of one of the few Americans to ever wear pink. Other local pros, including ex-USPS rider Robbie Ventura, are expected to attend.

"Cocktails With Christian" will be at the Tin Fish (18201 S. Harlem, Tinley Park) from 1 to 4 p.m.

The event flyer is after the jump.

Continue reading this entry »

Zach Thomas

Roller Derby Wed Dec 15 2010

Lucy Hearts Derby

Last spring, local cartoonist Lucy Knisley posted a wonderfully fun and heartfelt comic about roller derby and gushing fandom. Whatever sport you're into, if you're the type to wear a giant foam finger or a jersey with your favorite player's name on it, you should read it.

Kara Luger

Bears Tue Dec 14 2010

Bears to Face Vikes Outdoors at Gophers' Stadium

bears.gifThe Bears will be playing the Minnesota Vikings on Monday night under the lights and out in the downright polar elements of a starry December night in Minneapolis. With this past weekend's dumping of snow on the Twin Cities causing the dome of the Metro-not-so-dome to collapse. Vikings execs announced today that the next (and final) Vikings home game of the season will be at the University of Minnesota's TCF Bank Stadium.

FYI: Tonight as of 10:02 pm, CST the temperature in Minneapolis is a balmy 8º Fahrenheit. Extended forecasts have Monday reaching a downright stifling daytime high of 22º before cooling to a bearable overnight low of 4º. I will personally give any Bears fan a cool $100.00 if they have the fortitude/suicidal determination to attend the game in nothing more than a thong. Uhh, yes, I expect full video and photographic documentation of your stupidity.

[Edit: Want to help shovel out the stadium? The Vikings are accepting volunteers.]

Brian Lauvray

Bulls Tue Dec 14 2010

Sunshine on a Cloudy Day

Dark times here at Tailgate. I hate the Big Ten (a.k.a. Large Dozen), Jeremy Piniak is pissed at the Blackhawks and Brian Yarvual is cackling malevolently at the Bears' recent snowball-in-the-face loss.

But instead of marinating in our own bile, let's all watch a bunch of awesome dunks by Derrick Rose. And his wrist injury appears to be only a sprain!

Jim Reedy

Blackhawks Tue Dec 14 2010

Blackhawks' Defense Remains a Disaster

Thumbnail image for blackhawks.gifIf you wanted to see the reason the Blackhawks have been struggling so far this season, it was in fine display last night in Colorado, where despite netting five goals and taking a third-period lead, the Hawks lost 7-5 to the Avalanche, giving up two goals and an empty-netter in the final 2 1/2 minutes. (Lowlights available here)

As was the case throughout the game, horrific turnovers and defensemen out of position led to the tying and winning goals, with Brent Seabrook getting caught in no-man's land on both tallies. Seabrook was abysmal, going -4 and causing an unfortunate turnover that led to an earlier Avs goal as well as the game clinchers.

Unfortunately, Duncan Keith wasn't much better, matching Seabrook's plus-minus and also contributing some ugly turnovers and getting caught up in the play. Throughout the game, the Blackhawks showed some major mental lapses, giving up goals at the start of the first and second periods, and the first period saw tying goals by Chicago followed immediately by the Avalanche reclaiming the lead on the next shift.

Continue reading this entry »

Jeremy Piniak

Bears Tue Dec 14 2010

Footballic Ramblings: Pats Steamroll Bears

Footballic_Ramblings2.jpg The wind wasn't the only thing that was blowing on Sunday afternoon at Soldier Field. No, the Bears also blew and were utterly dismantled by the New England Patriots. Concerning? Yes. Very. The Bears have faced two or three truly exceptional teams (New York Giants, Pats and, yes, the Green Bay Packers) and have been obliterated in two of those matches, whilst in the third they snuck out the back door with the win. The Bears have three regular-season games left: Monday at wherever Minnesota will be calling home; hosting the Jets on Boxing Day and dogsledding to the frozen steppe that will be Lambeau Field on January 2, 2011. I see one win out of those three games, so, yeah, have fun Bears fans. Keep on drinking the orange and blue Kool-Aid and holding out hope that this team isn't the most fraudulent 9-4 outfit since ever.

Continue reading this entry »

Brian Lauvray

College Teams Mon Dec 13 2010

Big Ten Goes Mod With Odd New Logo

big10new.jpgWith college football season finished except for the bowl games, the Big Ten on Monday unveiled a new logo and names for its two new football divisions. Nebraska will become the conference's 12th school next year, so the old logo, with "11" represented in negative space, had to go.

And yes, that is what they came up with. See, it's clever because the "I-G" looks like "1-0."

It's turquoise because ... well, I have no idea why.

Continue reading this entry »

Jim Reedy / Comments (4)

Bulls Mon Dec 13 2010

Bulls Starting to Find Their Groove

chicagobulls.pngWith the Bears leading the NFC North and the Blackhawks' title defense off to a good start, you might have overlooked the first six weeks of the NBA season. But with Derrick Rose scoring 25.1 points per game (fourth-best in the NBA) and Joakim Noah averaging 12 rebounds (third), the Bulls are fourth in the Eastern Conference and first in the Central Division with a 14-8 record. Under first-year head coach Tom Thibodeau, they're playing exciting, physical basketball and looking like a real threat to the giants of the East.

Friday's 88-84 win against the visiting Lakers was their best win of the season so far. Behind Rose's 29 points and nine rebounds, the Bulls fought back from an early deficit and stayed on top of the Lakers down the stretch. For Chicago, a team that showed flashes of brilliance against some of the league's best last year but lacked the ability to finish them off, a win like this displays an evolving mentality. No longer content to just compete, the Bulls are expecting to win the big games--and willing to put in the work to do it.

Continue reading this entry »

Colin Hettinger

Videogames Mon Dec 13 2010

Chicago's Indie Video Game Darling, Erin Robinson

This story was written by Fruzsina Eordogh.

erin_robinson.jpgThe video game industry has grown exponentially over the last decade, enough to now top the film industry by billions of dollars. Much like the film industry, an indie video game scene has emerged, complete with its own annual festival. Chicago has its own indie video game darling, Erin Robinson, whose newest game, Puzzle Bots, won at PAX 10 (the Penny Arcade Expo).

Robinson enjoys designing video games with a retro "old-timey feel because nothing ever happens suddenly; it's very safe game play." ("And the bigger the pixels the more indie your game is," she jokes.) Robinson also writes and creates artwork for video games — she recently did the artwork for Blackwell Unbound — draws comics, and even makes Portal-inspired earrings.

I first met Robinson at Columbia College's 3G Summit, a four-day event aimed at getting more women involved in the video game industry. Robinson's team of high school girls won the 3G Indie Expo Challenge with 3 Flags Escape, a scary carnival adventure/shooter game featuring "frenemies" and acid-puking bears. Robinson is confident 3 Flags Escape would be a popular game if it was ever developed.

Continue reading this entry »

Tailgate / Comments (1)

Blackhawks Fri Dec 10 2010

Short Hops: A Very Bobby Hull Christmas

bobby-hull.jpgIf you were on the fence about seeing "A Christmas Carol" this year at the Goodman Theatre, delay no longer! Tuesday's 7:30 show will feature a one-night cameo by Blackhawks legend Bobby Hull, probably just milling around the background in period costume and joining in the big "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" finale.

A small role, but a nice gesture in partnership with the Make-a-Wish Foundation. He'll meet-and-greet in the lobby after the show -- and of course, sell a few copies of his new book.

Christmas tidings aside, check out the above (1970s?) clip of Hull and Bobby Orr ... chatting poolside in Jamaica ... in swim trunks.

Continue reading this entry »

Jim Reedy

Blackhawks Fri Dec 10 2010

Hawks Hold Tight to Pick Up Needed Wins

blackhawks.gifThe Blackhawks passed their first two tests of games without stars Marian Hossa and Patrick Kane, defeating the Calgary Flames and the Dallas Stars. Both games saw the Hawks jump out to early leads, before fending off stiff challenges in the 2nd half of the game, to finally getting a sigh of relief and an empty netter to preserve the victory. Both games got a little too close for comfort, and continues an ongoing trend of the team having trouble putting games away, but with the short-handed lineup, the Hawks focusing on preserving a lead is understandable. Goalie Corey Crawford made some huge saves in the 3rd period against Dallas, but also let in a few somewhat soft goals.

Any fan of the Bears should be familiar with that bend but don't break defense, but in a game that can be decided in a split second, it's not a viable strategy. Coach Joel Quenneville's profane screaming during timeouts wouldn't be needed if the Hawks weren't surrendering successively quick goals and turning games into nailbiters. However, the wins were all that mattered, and the Hawks went 3 of 4 on their recent homestand (and are 8 of their last 11) despite the injuries and lapses and some terrible struggles on special teams.

Continue reading this entry »

Jeremy Piniak

Windy City Rollers Fri Dec 10 2010

Windy City Rollers Mourn Fallen Skater

Yesterday afternoon, the Windy City Rollers announced that one of their skaters, Yvonne Johnson Hammer, had indeed been found dead earlier that day. The following statement was posted on their website and Facebook page.

Yvonne Johnson Hammer

Dear Windy City Rollers friends, family and fans:

It is with heavy hearts that we inform you of the passing of our league mate, Yvonne Johnson Hammer ("Hammer"). As her death is still being actively investigated, please pass any information you think might be relevant to her disappearance directly to the Chicago Police Department. The Windy City Rollers are unable to provide any further information at this time, but we will be sure to reach out to you on behalf of Yvonne's friends and family in the coming days.

Hammer joined our league in June of 2010 and had not yet had the opportunity to play her first public game as a member of the Double Crossers, so she may not be familiar to some of you. However, her league members will always remember her for her ready smile, her amazing work ethic, and her extraordinary athleticism. We know that you will keep Hammer and her family in your hearts during this difficult time.

Thank you,

The Windy City Rollers

Kara Luger / Comments (1)

Cycling Thu Dec 09 2010

The Off Season

As the final rider of the Cat. 4B ChiCrossCup race at Montrose Harbor crossed the line last Sunday to whoops, cheers, and heckles, the 2010 Chicago competitive cycling season drew to a close (well, besides this), racers' thoughts turned toward how to improve for 2011. Of course, not without first taking some well-deserved time off from the bike in favor of spending time with long-ignored friends, lovers, and pizzas. Mike Sherer of the brutalizing Pony Shop squad was crowned the 1/2/3 king; teammate Jessica Hill was the Women's champ.

Due to the wide variety of different permutations of cycling, the off season can be longer or shorter for all manner of folks. The road racers have better start in with the serious training shortly, but the track stars can bum around for a month or two more. Bike polo players...what do you do?

Continue reading this entry »

Zach Thomas

Cubs Thu Dec 09 2010

Cubs Sign Carlos Pena

cubs.gifIt has been an interesting past few days in the Cubs rumor department. A handful of reports put the Cubs in a trade with the Texas Rangers for first baseman Chris Davis and relief pitcher Darren O'Day and other reports suggested the Cubs were interested in Adam LaRoche. After all the rumors were sorted out, a truth emerged: Jim Hendry signed power-hitting first baseman Carlos Pena to a one-year, $10-million deal. Pena, a 32-year-old who is coming off a down season, will fill a huge hole left by last year's trade of Derrek Lee.

Continue reading this entry »

Brian Livingston

Windy City Rollers Wed Dec 08 2010

Missing: WCR Skater Yvonne Johnson Hammer

Earlier this evening, the Windy City Rollers reported that one of their skaters, Yvonne Johnson Hammer, has been reported missing by her family. She was last seen on Sunday, December 5. According to the WCR Facebook page, "Law enforcement is currently treating her disappearance as a missing persons case. We hope she returns safely to her family, friends and league soon."

Anyone with information regarding Hammer's whereabouts should contact the Chicago Police.

Yvonne Johnson Hammer

Name: Yvonne Johnson Hammer
Date of Birth: February 1971
Height: 5'7"
Weight: 145 pounds, athletic build
Hair: Blond
Last seen: Sunday, December 5th at 5 am, vicinity of 104th and Indiana in Chicago.

UPDATE 12/9: Sources today report that Johnson was found dead. Details to follow as we learn more.

UPDATE 12/10: The Windy City Rollers have released a statement regarding Hammer's death.

Kara Luger / Comments (6)

White Sox Wed Dec 08 2010

White Sox Re-Sign Konerko, Complete 1-2 Punch

Thumbnail image for white sox.gifOK, good. That's much better.

Last week the White Sox added slugger Adam Dunn to the middle of their lineup, but there wasn't much point analyzing the move until we saw whether he was replacing or supplementing Paul Konerko's production.

Today we saw it is, fortunately, the latter. Jerry Reinsdorf authorized Kenny Williams not only to spend $56 million on Dunn's four-year contract, but another $37.5 million to bring Konerko back for three more seasons.

Continue reading this entry »

Jim Reedy

Bears Wed Dec 08 2010

Footballic Ramblings: Bears Defense is Soooo Good

Footballic_Ramblings2.jpg Let's talk about the Bears' insanely good defense. The Bears victory on Sunday against Detroit was only the fourth time this season that an opposing offense has scored over 20 points on Chicago. Dallas, Seattle, Philadelphia and now the Lions are the only teams to have crossed that barrier on Da Bears dis year.

More remarkable is the fact that the Bears are only ranked third in scoring defense behind the low, low, low averages of Green Bay (an astounding 15.2 points per game) and Pittsburgh (another shockingly low average of 15.9 ppg). Yep, even though the Bears are having their statistically most dominant performance since that 2006 season (you know, the Grossman-helmed Super Bowl team), Chicago is only the third-best defense out there and the second-best defense in its own division. Rough time to be an NFC North quarterback, I suppose.

Continue reading this entry »

Brian Lauvray

Football Mon Dec 06 2010

Big Ten Football Monday: The Bowls Are Upon Us

b10logo.jpgWith one final game in the books -- Illinois' 25-23 loss Friday at Fresno State -- we turn officially to bowl season in the Big Ten. Which means nearly everyone gets a bowl bid. Because nearly every Big Ten school churns out 3 million alumni each year who want to get stupid drunk and spend big money on hotels and restaurants and souvenir tchotchkes at the bowl destination of their choice.

It's all about the Chamber of Commerce, which is why Michigan State had no chance at a BCS bowl bid despite sharing the conference championship with Wisconsin and Ohio State. Instead, the Badgers end up in the Rose Bowl, with the BCS standings used as a tiebreaker over the Buckeyes, who will head to New Orleans for the Sugar Bowl.

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Jim Reedy

Blackhawks Mon Dec 06 2010

Kane injured as Crawford picks up another win

While the Blackhawks exacted some revenge on the Calgary Flames in a 4-2 victory last night at the United Center, seeing Patrick Kane go down on his first shift is likely to be the more lasting image from the contest.

Kane was twisting away from a hit by the Flames' Cory Sarich, but Sarich's stick appeared to get entangled in Kane's legs, resulting in an awkward fall into the boards. Kane left the ice and was unable to put weight on his left leg, and the only news out of the team was that he would not return due to a lower-body injury. After the game, coach Joel Quenneville's only statement was he would be "out a little bit", which hopefully will mean only a minor sprain rather than anything more serious.

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Jeremy Piniak

Roller Derby Mon Dec 06 2010

Holiday Expo Bout with the Chicago Riots

'Tis the season for derby! The Chicago Riots, our fair city's one and only junior roller derby league, are holding an exposition bout on Sunday, Dec. 19 at the Fleetwood Roller Rink (7231 Archer Ave. in Summit). Normally the gals bout against junior leagues from across the country, but for this round they'll split into two teams--the Grinch Hitters and the Yeti Mindtricks--and play each other. The bout starts at 5 p.m., and a ticket will run you a measly $5.

Kara Luger

Bears Sat Dec 04 2010

Footballic Ramblings: Bears Visit Motown

Footballic_Ramblings2.jpgLovie's boys head east to that forgotten metropolis of Detroit. Yes the home of RoboCop and Megatron hosts the Chicago Bears in a divisional match that the Bears need to win to keep the lurking Green Bay Packers at bay. So what can you expect? Will Megatron have his revenge? Will Jay Cutler be frowning? Will Mike Martz present another very balanced offensive game plan? Read on.

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Brian Lauvray

Cubs Fri Dec 03 2010

Cubs Legend Ron Santo Passes Away At Age 70

Cubs legend Ron Santo has passed away. Santo went into a coma on Wednesday and passed away early this morning from complications from bladder cancer. Santo battled diabetes throughout his life.

Santo made his love for the Chicago Cubs well known through his broadcasting. He was without question the biggest Cubs fan. He embodied every fan through the highs and the lows. He was a nine-time All-Star and five-time Gold Glover in 14 seasons for the Chicago Cubs.

Brian Livingston

White Sox Thu Dec 02 2010

White Sox: Like It or Not, Kenny Gets His Man

SoxLogoSmall.jpegThere were those of us that feared the White Sox off-season would be mired in stalemates and non-happenings. There were also those among us that feared the Sox would enter 2011 without a legitimate power hitter, thus revisiting the sins of the past season. We all know Kenny Williams is a man that gets the players he wants, regardless if that player is still relevant. Adam Dunn was a name that was tossed around a lot amongst Sox bloggers during the trade deadline last summer, and now his visage is being Photoshopped with a White Sox uniform on websites across the city. Like it or not, it looks like Kenny got his guy. And that guy is a Southsider until the next Midterm election.

Pending a physical, Adam Dunn is expected to be announced a White Sock Friday afternoon (2 p.m. in a press conference that will no doubt be watched by hundreds) in a relative blockbuster deal -- $56 million over four years. The Sox nabbed a guy that can fill the hole left by Jim Thome after they failed to resign the affable slugger at the end of the 2009 season -- a lefty power hitter who can be relied on for about 40 homers or so a season. But how does this acquisition affect the White Sox 2011 outlook?

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Rick Abplanalp

Running Thu Dec 02 2010

Chicago Santa Speedo Run: Open Bar and Speedos

Have you ever wondered what your co-worker would look like in a Speedo or bathing suit? Here's the perfect solution. The Chicago Santa Speedo Run will have participants running in almost nothing at all for the sake of raising money for the Chicago Diabetes Project. Not only will you avoid getting slapped, but now that cute girl or guy in the cubicle over will see you as a paragon of virtue and charity. The event begins at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday morning at Shenanigans on 16 W. Division Street. After a three hour open bar at Shenanigans, the 1 mile race will saunter down Rush street and fly back up Michigan Avenue.

The race was started by Annie Hemmesch, a type 1 diabetic, who now organizes the event. Last year, over 150 runners came to strut their stuff. Hemmesch is hoping to double that number this year.

Brave runners can sign-up for "Early Speedo Registration" before the event at the cost of $35. Last minute runners can register at Shenanigans for $40. Though "speedos are encouraged, you don't have to run or wear a long as its festive," but why would you want to do it any other way?

The Chicago Santa Speedo Run will begin at:
Saturday, December 04, 2010 at 11:00 AM
16 W. Division Street
Chicago, IL 

For more information visit:

Moises Montenegro

Cycling Wed Dec 01 2010

Waning Days of CX

The 2010 ChiCrossCup is drawing to a close. At this point in the CX season, there should only be one or two more dabs of embro left in the tub and race bikes are creaking and shuddering (a reminder to check out one of Chicagoland's best shops for CX bike goodies). The high of Sunday afternoon will soon be replaced by the drudgery of the indoor trainer and/or frigid miles on the open road.

It's like the waning hours of a really good party. You know tomorrow morning that life's going to be hell, but for now, let's dance.

Luckily, there are two more opportunities this year to get sweaty. This Sunday, December 5 is the Illinois State Championship of Cyclocross at Montrose Harbor. Chicago's front yard and Turin is once again hosting the focus of many racers' 'cross season. Who will come home with the State Champs jersey? One of the local favorites or a darkhorse from downstate?

Last year was remarkably mild, but this year the forecast is calling for wintry weather that will play havoc with tire traction and make for difficult clothing choices.

Also coming up is the Afterglow at Humboldt Park on Saturday, December 18. By then you should have said your goodbyes, but consider this one last kiss before the CX season goes to bed.

Zach Thomas

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