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Wednesday, November 21st, 2007
6:57 am - Cubs Update

It would be very sad if Kerry Wood leaves the Cubs, but that's looking like a distinct possibility. Not just because he's a good pitcher, even in relief, but because he's a good human being. He loves playing baseball, and he and his wife have done a lot of good charitable work around here. (Wood is also the only player I've ever heard of who asked Fox to show less shots of his wife.) This is in distinct contrast to Mark Prior, who most people around here can't wait to see leave.

Also, Kaz Matsui? Honestly, anybody who made an improvement to mediocre (as he did last year) should not be considered for a multiyear contract.

Cross-posted to my own blog.

current mood: back pain

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Thursday, October 25th, 2007
9:38 am - World Series, Game 1

If the rest of the World Series goes like Game 1 did, it won't be a problem watching football over the weekend.

Tom Boswell of The Washington Post has a good column about how baseball allowed television to add extra days to the postseason schedule, which helped allow the Rockies to have eight days off between the NLCS and the Series, which may account for their terrible showing last night.

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Monday, October 8th, 2007
9:58 pm - A Look Back

Sometimes you understand why a team was so good or bad for a few years by looking at who their prospects were (or the trades they made) years back. I just pulled out a copy of Bill Mazeroski's Baseball '92 -- here are the top prospects for the Cubs and White Sox.

White Sox
Roberto Hernandez
Jeff Carter
Esteban Beltre
Johnny Ruffin
Rodney Bolton
Mike Robertson
Scott Ruffcorn
Brandon Wilson
Danny Matznick
Rolando Canidad
Charles Poe
Clemente Alvarez
Troy Fryman

Well, that explains a lot. Other than Hernandez, nobody else made any kind of an impact. But it gets worse:

Chicago Cubs
Lance Dickson
Gary Scott
Turk Wendell
Pedro Castellano
Ryan Hawblitzel
Time Parker
Doug Glanville
Elvin Paulino
Kevin Roberson
Jesse Hollins
Troy Bradford
Jose Vierra
Pedro Valdez

To give an idea of what the difference is like, look at the Braves:
Mark Wohlers
Keith Mitchell
Ryan Klesko
Chipper Jones
Dave Nied
Javy Lopez
Mike Kelly
Napoleon Robinson
Ben Rivera
Tyler Houston
Melvin Nieves
Matt Murray
Dennis Burlingame

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Wednesday, June 28th, 2006
1:54 pm

I, on behalf of the Chicago White Sox, need a favor.

Tadahito Iguchi is in third place amongst AL second basemen. Iguchi has been an excellent second baseman, and that isn't pure fandom on my part. From making superb plays at his position to moving the runner over when Scott Podsednik is on to blasting grand slams off of Brad Lidge over the left field fence, Tadahito is a great ballplayer.

I am asking you to vote for him for second base in the American League.
A brief defense of him, before anyone compares his numbers to those of others: he bats second in a lineup that emphasizes a mixture of "small ball" and power hitting. Our 3-4-5 leads baseball in homers and RBI, but we can still get it done without huge homeruns. Scott Podsednik gets on base, and it's Iguchi's job to move him over before anything else. He doesn't have the most RBI of second basemen or anything, but this is a case where the numbers mislead.

That all said, his numbers, homer-wise and RBI wise, are nothing to scoff at.

Please vote for Tadahito Iguchi when you're voting for the all-star game.
And, if you haven't been voting or aren't, then get on it. Voting ends tomorrow.

But, if you don't want to vote, please do, if for no other reason than to help Iguchi out. I'd appreciate it muchly. Remember, it's easy to pop in hundreds of ballots in a short amount of time, as after your first ballot, it saves your choices and then you can just click submit.

As far as email addresses go, well, let's just say that you can put in whatever and still vote.

Join me in pushing a candidate who deserves it forward.

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Friday, October 7th, 2005
7:56 am - Could Be a Big Weekend

The White Sox, of course, can close it out today against Boston. The next two games are at Fenway, so the Chisox have their work still cut out for them, even though they're leading the series 2-0. The good news is Freddy Garcia has a tremendous advantage in day games (5-3, 3.49) and on the road (10-3, 3.40) -- his overall record is 14-8, 3.87. The bad news is none of that means anything in the playoffs.

I'm a Cubs fan, but let's hope the Chisox can make it to the next level - if only so I can call them the Sox again to avoid confusion.


Here's the sports on the air this weekend. There's a lot going on - Blackhawks, Bears, and the LaSalle marathon. All broadcasts are for the Chicagoland area, so please add broadcasts throughout the rest of the state.

Friday, Oct. 7

3 p.m. AL Division Series, Game 3: White Sox at Boston -- WGN-Ch. 9, ESPN2, WMVP-AM 1000

7 p.m. Lincoln-Way East at Lincoln-Way Central -- WJOL-AM 1340
7 p.m. Thornton at Andrew -- WCFJ-AM 1470
7:30 p.m. Batavia at Sycamore -- WLBK-AM 1360
7:30 p.m. Naperville Central vs. Naperville North (at North Central) -- WONC-FM 89.1, WAUR-AM 930
10 p.m. DeKalb vs. St. Charles East (at NIU) -- WLBK-AM 1360 (delayed)

7 p.m. AHL: Wolves at Omaha -- Comcast cable (check local provider)
7:30 p.m. San Jose at Blackhawks -- WSCR-AM 670

Saturday, Oct. 8

Noon AL Division Series: White Sox at Boston, Game 4 -- ESPN, WMVP-AM 1000 (if necessary)

11 a.m. Wisconsin at Northwestern -- ESPN2 (ESPN if no Sox game), WGN-AM 720, WNUR-FM 89.3
11 a.m. Illinois at Indiana—WBBM-Ch. 2 WIND-AM 560, WIMS-AM 1420
1 p.m. McKendree at St. Xavier—WXAV-FM 88.3
1 p.m. North Central at Illinois Wesleyan—WONC-FM 89.1
2:30 p.m. Western Kentucky at Illinois State—WBIG-AM 1280

7:30 p.m. MLS: Fire at Columbus—FSC, WRTO-AM 1200 (Spanish), WNVR-AM 1030 (Polish)

Sunday, Oct. 9

3 p.m. AL Division Series: Boston at White Sox, Game 5—ESPN, WMVP-AM 1000 (if necessary)

Noon Bears at Cleveland—WFLD-Ch. 32, WBBM-AM 780

Providence at Fenwick, 1:30—WAIT-AM 820, WJOL-AM 1340

6 p.m. Columbus at Blackhawks—WSCR-AM 670

7:30 a.m. LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon—WBBM-Ch. 2, WMVP-AM 1000

current mood: hopeful

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Saturday, October 1st, 2005
7:23 am - The White Sox Are In

And have home field advantage. And a few days to rest the regulars.

With three teams scrambling to fill the final two AL playoff spots, this could be crucial. There are too many possibilities left to go over - just know the Sox will have home field throughout.


Here's what's on the air this weekend (at least in Chicagoland). Note the Bears have the bye week.

Saturday, Oct. 1


12:25 p.m. White Sox at Cleveland—WFLD-Ch. 32, WMVP-AM 1000
3:10 p.m. Cubs at Houston—Comcast SportsNet, WGN-AM 720


11 a.m. Illinois at Iowa—WBBM-Ch. 2, WIND-AM 560
5 p.m. Illinois State at Youngstown State—WBIG-AM 1280
7 p.m. Wheaton at North Central—WONC-FM 89.1


1 p.m. Notre Dame at Benet—WAIT-AM 820
1:30 p.m. Oak Park at Proviso West—WRRG-FM 88.9


7 p.m. MLS: Fire at Kansas City—Comcast cable (check local provider), WRTO-AM 1200 (Spanish), WNVR-AM 1030 (Polish)

Sunday, Oct. 2


12:05 p.m. White Sox at Cleveland—Comcast SportsNet, WMVP-AM 1000
1:05 p.m. Cubs at Houston—WGN-Ch. 9, WGN-AM 720


6 p.m. Exhibition: Blackhawks at St. Louis—Comcast SportsNet

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Saturday, September 24th, 2005
8:29 pm - College Football Wrapup

What an awful day for I-A Illinois teams.

Illinois was absolutely destroyed by Michigan State, 61-14. That took away any illusions that the Illini will be any better this year - they're 2-2, but their two wins came against perpetual doormat Rutgers and WAC weak sister San Diego State.

Northwestern lost to a mediocre Penn State team, 34-29. They're also 2-2, with their wins coming against MAC teams Ohio and Northern Illinois.

Speaking of Northern Illinois, the Huskies just dropped an overtime game to Akron, 48-45. Since Akron didn't look to be a world-beater this year, it doesn't look good for the Huskies in the MAC West, especially since they can't beat Toledo anyway.

I-AA games (some still in progress):
Eastern Illinois 43, Samford 14 (Panthers are now 2-2)
Illinois State 28, Murray State 0 at the half (Redbirds would go to 3-1 if they win)
Western Illinois 56, Iowa Wesleyan 0 in the third quarter (Leathernecks would go to 2-2 with the win)
Southern Illinois has a bye week.

Bears play tomorrow at 12 noon. Please note they'll be on CBS, since they're playing an AFC team at home (that's Channel 2 in Chicago).

current mood: disappointed

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Monday, September 19th, 2005
3:32 pm - And Another Thing

For those not entranced by tonight's Monday Night Football doubleheader, the White Sox and Cleveland Indians start a crucial three-game series at The Park Formerly Known as Comiskey. 7:05 start; tickets are still available if you can get to the park. TV is WCIU Channel 26 in Chicago, radio on WMVP (ESPN 1000 AM), plus the network:

Champaign, IL WBCP-AM 1580
Ottawa, IL WCMY-AM 1430
DeKalb, IL WLBK-AM 1360
Rochelle, IL WRHL-AM 1060
Rockford, IL WROK-AM 1440
Sterling, IL WSDR-AM 1240
Streator, IL WSPL-AM 1250
Princeton, IL WZOE-AM 1490
Quincy, IL WGEM-AM 1440
Aurora, IL WBIG-AM 1280
Carthage, IL WCEZ-FM 93.9
Galesburg, IL WAIK-AM 1590
Highland, IL WCBW-AM 880

Rensselaer, IN WLQI-FM 97.7
Monticello, IN WMRS-FM 107.7

Burlington, IA KCPS-AM 1150
Davenport, IA KJOC-AM 1170
Dubuque, IA WDBQ-AM 1490

Kalamazoo, MI WKLZ-AM 1470

Joplin, MO KWAS-AM 1230

Check your station's listings; there's no guarantee that these stations all broadcasat every White Sox game.

The Sox are now 3-1/2 games up on Cleveland, so what I said last week about the Sox still making the playoffs is a little more iffy (although they're five ahead of the Yankees, the next team in the wild card hunt. Again, if the Sox go 6-6 the rest of the way, the Indians have to go 9-2 to tie; the Yankees would need to win 11 of 12. It's the White Sox' playoff spot to lose, and there aren't a lot of great teams in the AL this year (frankly, the World Series trophy will likely reside, much as it pains me to say, in St. Louis). Keep an ear and eye out.

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3:07 pm - Time to Be Optimistic

The Chicago Bears may not be as awful as everyone first thought.

Yes, they had a great all-around game yesterday - they scored touchdowns via the air, the ground, on defense, and on special teams. (How often does that happen?) Kyle Orton is proving he can do a decent job running the offense. Thomas Jones had an outstanding game, and Cedric Benson had time to run some plays. The defense intercepted Joey Harrington five times.

But the best news isn't the Bears - it's the rest of the division.

The Bears are 1-1. So are the Lions, who certainly looked worse than Chicago did yesterday. No doubt Steve Mariucci was hoping Jeff Garcia would give Harrington a run for the money at quarterback this year. But Garcia broke his right leg in the last preseason game and will be out until mid-October at the least, and the Lions really don't have any other options. Lions owner William Clay Ford was banking on Matt Millen and Mariucci turning this awful team (16-48 the last four seasons) this year; it may not happen.

The team Detroit beat in the first week of the season is Green Bay, which is 0-2. They've lost to Detroit and Cleveland, neither of whom was supposed to be a powerhouse. They haven't looked horrible, but they haven't gotten a win, either. Their star received, Javon Walker, is out for the year, and their other offensive stars (Brett Favre, Ahman Green) haven't looked as good as they have in years past. The defense, thought to be suspect before the season started... is.

But that beats the Minnesota Vikings, who are also 0-2, and went from bad to worse in their two defeats. Daunte Culpepper was intercepted five times in yesterday's 37-8 pounding by Cincinnati, with the sole touchdown by the Vikes coming during garbage time in the fourth quarter. Culpepper has been awful, the defense has been lousy, and the team may miss Randy Moss more than they thought.

All of which leaves the Bears - at 1-1, with their loss coming 9-7 at the hands of the Redskins - looking at least on a par with the rest.

Chicago has a tough assignment next week against the Bengals, who are 2-0 and have a quarterback who two years ago was where Kyle Orton is now. Carson Palmer tossed three touchdowns yesterday, and stands a good chance of making the upper echelon of NFL quarterbacks this year. But they have a bye the week after that, and then four very beatable teams - at Cleveland, home against Minnesota and Baltimore, and then at Detroit. If the Bears can be 3-3 after this stretch - not at all impossible - they can contend in a very weak NFC North. And if the other three teams continue to play as they have, the Bears could do even better than that.

They need to do two things - exactly what they have been doing on defense, and improving steadily on offense. Playing not to lose - the modus operandi of Bear quarterbacks since I can't remember when - is not going to cut it. If their youngsters get the momentum going, this team could surprise.

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Thursday, September 15th, 2005
10:28 am - The Future and The White Sox

The White Sox are now just five games ahead of red-hot Cleveland, which means they've lost about nine games in the standings in roughly six weeks. Since September 12, they've gone 13-17, while Cleveland has gone 21-10 (27-10 since August 5).

That aside, the White Sox shouldn't worry too much. The Sox are five games up with 18 to play, and have two more games to play than Cleveland - the Indians are six out in the loss column. If the Sox play .500 baseball the rest of the way, Cleveland will need to go 13-3 to tie. And even if the Indians do catch up, the Sox are six games ahead of the Yankees for the wild card spot.

What this has shown, however, is the Sox aren't nearly as good a team as we thought, even though they have the best record in the American League. Afer a stellar first half, Jon Garland has returned to earth - and that first half may have been partially because he had better run support than any pitcher in the majors. (I can't tell you the number of times I saw articles about how Garland, Matt Clement, or Chan Ho Park had improved in May or June of this year, only to discover they were the top three in run support.) For the year, the Sox are eighth in runs scored, 12th in on-base percentage, and sixth in slugging percentage. That means many of the runs they score have come from the long ball - and with Frank Thomas out, those homers are coming a little less frequently.

I like Paul Konerko as a player and a person, but 21 doubles and 37 homers means he's swinging for the fences, and not always getting there. Example: last 10 games, five home runs. White Sox won four of the five games he homered, lost four of the five he didn't. In the games he homered, he went 9 for 16, with five home runs, seven RBI, and seven runs scored. The five games he didn't: 1 for 18, no RBI, no runs scored. Feast or famine is not a good game plan.

I do see the Sox making the playoffs - and losing in the first round, just like 2000.

current mood: worried

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Saturday, August 13th, 2005
1:40 pm - Okay, Let's Not Panic

Unquestionably the injury to Rex Grossman hurts the Bears. The plan was for him to start the full season, for better or for worse. But let's put a couple things into perspective:

1) No quarterback can be expected to last the full season. Brett Favre is very much the exception to the rule. Any team that expects to contend must have at least two passable (no pun intended) NFL quarterbacks. It's really the same for most any position; the quarterback stands out because he's the focus of the team (and is often the most vulnerable player on the field).

2) Rex Grossman is prone to injuries. I can't tell you why, but he obviously is. Maybe he's not big enough. Maybe the Bears' offensive line needs help. But he wasn't like this in college, so it's puzzling.

3) It's not the same injury. He doesn't have a bad knee or a bad back. He's hurt a finger, his right ACL, and his left ankle.

4) Now is not the time to panic and pick up the flotsam and jetsam from the veteran scrap heap. Another Bears blog lists the available veteran quarterbacks, most of them are terrible. How do we know? Because nearly half of them have worn Bears uniforms in the last few years (Chris Chandler, Jeff George, Kordell Stewart, Jonathan Quinn, Rick Mirer). Why bring them back? Do I want Chad Hutchinson as my starting quarterback? Not really, but he's better than most of the other options. (I used to like Jeff Blake, but I think he's too old at this point.)

5) Cedric Benson had better get himself in camp. He's wasting valuable time. The Sun-Times has a chart on recent #4 picks - you'll notice that, with the exception of Edgerrin James, all that have held out have been pretty bad, and with the possible exception of Peter Warrick, all that reported on time have been pretty good. But Thomas Jones is not the future of this team at halfback, and I think everyone knows it. If Benson continues his holdout into the regular season, he'll be approaching uselessness.

6) The defense is going to have to step up. Okay, we knew that anyway. But seriously, this team is going to have to take advantage of its modest defensive prowess, and that means not only the starters, but the backups have to pick it up. The defense is talented but thin; a couple of injuries here and Chicago's looking at a top five draft pick again, not to mention watching the playoffs sitting in recliners.

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Friday, August 12th, 2005
9:30 pm - Hey, Kids, Guess What?

Rex Grossman's hurt again.

Maybe an ankle, maybe a knee.

Okay, everybody, time to start salivating for Kyle Orton.

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Saturday, April 30th, 2005
9:21 am - Weekend Update

Wish I had caught the Cubs game last night between Greg Maddux and Roger Clemens - I listened to the pregame show on the way home from work, but got caught up in family stuff and missed the game itself. There'll be other games.

The White Sox have lost three in a row. I still don't expect them to have a particularly good year - they're near the bottom of the league in OPS, and if that keeps up, they'll need near-perfect pitching to keep them in the race. And that's unlikely to happen in Comiskey. (I refuse to call it U.S. Cellular Field. Join me in my defiance.)

I thought I had found something great on the MLB web page - a listing of all broadcasting teams and the stations they worked on, for all seasons and all 30 teams. Of course, the Yankees had the most complete list (I was looking up a fact on an obscure Yankee broadcaster, Bob Gamere, when I ran into the site); the Mets' listings are missing the stations, and the Cubs listings are missing the stations and broadcater pairings. The White Sox listings are pretty complete, however. Hard to believe the White Sox were on such lousy stations in the '70s.


Sports on the air this weekend:

6:05 p.m. Cubs at Houston—Comcast SportsNet, WGN-AM 720
6:05 p.m. White Sox at Detroit—WGN-Ch. 9, WMVP-AM 1000
6:30 p.m. Midwest League: Cougars at Peoria—WBIG-AM 1280

2 p.m. 1st round: Bulls at Washington, Game 3—Comcast SportsNet, TNT, WMVP-AM 1000

3 p.m. MLS: D.C. United at Kansas City—ESPN2

1:05 p.m. Cubs at Houston—WGN-Ch. 9, WGN-AM 720
2:05 p.m. Detroit at White Sox—Comcast SportsNet, WMVP-AM 1000
2:30 p.m. Midwest League: Cougars at Peoria—WBIG-AM 1280

Noon Arena: Las Vegas at Rush—WMAQ-Ch. 5, WCKG-FM 105.9

current mood: busy

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Tuesday, April 26th, 2005
1:56 pm

Hi all I am new! I lived in Oswego until I was 15 years old and then my dad's compant ripped me away and put me in the south!! I am now 24 and I still love and adore Chicago. I have remained loyal to my Chicago teams, despite being in Houston and being around ANNOYING Astro fans!! I absolutely LOVE the Bears, Cubs, and Blackhawks. I am not a basketball fan, except for college and I went to Oklahoma State so I am a major fan there. Sorry Illini fans!! BTW I also grew up a Michigan fan so they are my favorite college football fan.

Needless to say I hate UT, but I think I can bring yself to cheer for Cedric Benson. I am glad to see they're draft received an A-! I love Lovie Smith and if it hadn't been for those damn injuries we would have done better last year. I also think Grossman will be our finest quarterback in YEARS.

Now ontp my beloved Cubs. I am so happy to see Prior ripping it up!!!

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Saturday, April 23rd, 2005
12:12 pm - Bears Take Cedric Benson

Good pick. Thomas Jones cannot carry the full load. Anthony Thomas is gone (and no one's signed him yet). The Bears need more offensive options than Rex Grossman (if he's healthy) to Muhsin Muhammad (if he's as good this year as he was last year - he's been up and down). Benson's been consistent, and he's been healthy during all four years at Texas, which is as much of a football factory as any school at this point.

As long as the offensive line holds up, and if the Bears can bring in a decent second-string quarterback in case Grossman goes down again, this could be a more fun team to watch.

current mood: optimistic

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Wednesday, April 20th, 2005
9:31 pm - Gulp

Nomar Garciaparra was carried off the field in the third inning tonight. Apparent groin injury.

The only good news... uh, he's not on my Fantasy team. Which is good, because of my 13 offensive players, three are already on the DL.

But that's it. The Cubs aren't going to contend with a keystone combo of Neifi Perez and Jerry Hairston, that's for sure.

(Cross-posted to my journal.)

current mood: disappointed

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Friday, February 4th, 2005
4:21 pm - Illinois Sports on the Air This Weekend

Friday, Feb. 4


7 p.m. Batavia at Sycamore—WLBK-AM 1360
7:30 p.m. West Aurora at Naperville North—WBIG-AM 1280
7:30 p.m. Morris at Plainfield Central—WJOL-AM 1340


7:30 p.m. AHL: Cleveland at Wolves—Comcast (check local provider)

Saturday, Feb. 5


Noon Loyola at Wright State—WIND-AM 560
1 p.m. Illinois-Chicago at Wis.-Milwaukee—ESPN2, WMVP-AM 1000
3:30 p.m. Purdue at Northwestern—WCIU-Ch. 26, WGN-AM 720, WJOB-AM 1230, WNUR-FM 89.3
7:30 p.m. North Central at Wheaton—WONC-FM 89.1


6:30 p.m. Bulls at Miami—WGN-Ch. 9, WMVP-AM 1000


2 p.m. Boys: Waukegan at Glenbrook South—WTTW-Ch. 11
4 p.m. Girls: Public League championship—WWME-Ch. 23


Noon AHL: Wolves at Cleveland—Comcast (check local provider)

Sunday, Feb. 6


11 a.m. Northern Illinois at Kent State—Comcast SportsNet, WBIG-AM 1280, WLBK-AM 1360
Noon Indiana at Illinois—WBBM-Ch. 2, WSCR-AM 670
1 p.m. DePaul at St. Louis—Comcast SportsNet, WAIT-AM 850


1:30 p.m. Boys: Evanston vs. New Trier—WTTW-Ch. 11, WNTH-FM 88.1
Noon Girls: Evanston vs. New Trier—WNTH-FM 88.1, (delayed on WTTW-Ch. 11 at 3)


Noon Arena: Philadelphia at Rush—WMAQ-Ch. 5, WCKG-FM 105.9

Sorry, the Super Bowl doesn't count.


Good news: Cubs have signed Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Zambrano to one-year-deals without going to arbitration. Now work on long-term deals, please.

current mood: tired

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Saturday, January 29th, 2005
10:12 am - Illinois Sports on the Air This Weekend

Saturday, Jan. 29


11 a.m. Ohio State at Northwestern—WCIU-Ch. 26, WGN-AM 720, WNUR-FM 89.3
11 a.m. Northern Illinois at Ball State—WLBK-AM 1360
1 p.m. Xavier at St. Joseph's—ESPN2
1 p.m. Women: St. Francis at St. Xavier—WXAV-FM 88.3
1:05 p.m. Loyola at Detroit—WIND-AM 560
1:30 p.m. Minnesota at Illinois—WCIU-Ch. 26, WSCR-AM 670
3 p.m. Butler at Illinois-Chicago—Comcast SportsNet, WMVP-AM 1000
4 p.m. DePaul at Southern Mississippi—WSCR-AM 670
6 p.m. Illinois State at Wichita State—Comcast SportsNet
7:30 p.m. North Central at Millikin—WONC-FM 89.1

7:30 p.m. Boston at Bulls—WGN-Ch. 9, WMVP-AM 1000

2 p.m. Senn vs. Von Steuben, 2—WWME-Ch. 23
4 p.m. Lane Tech at Northside Prep, 4—WWME-Ch. 23

7:30 p.m. AHL: Wolves at Houston—Comcast (check local provider)

Sunday, Jan. 30


2 p.m. Women: South Florida at DePaul—Fox Sports Net


2 p.m. Arena: Rush at Dallas—WMAQ-Ch. 5, WCKG-FM 105.9

Downstaters, please post air times and stations for basketball games as well!

current mood: busy

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9:25 am - Farewell, Sammy

It's looking like Sammy Sosa is headed out of Chicago. After spending virtually all of his career in the Windy City (first with the White Sox after a cup of coffee with Texas, then over to the Cubs for the glory years), it looks like Sammy's about to be traded to Baltimore for Jerry Hairston and prospects.

Reactions from the Baltimore side have varied from there's no downside to having Sammy Sosa around to how many oft-injured sluggers will the Orioles acquire? Reaction from the Chicago Tribune columnists is pretty unanimous: good riddance. (Registration may be required.)

I prefer to take the long view. Sammy Sosa has had a terrific career with the Cubs, including a magical 1998. For several years, he was the only reason to watch the team. We can't forget about that.

Somewhere along the line over the last few years, he got sick of losing. For a change, however, the team then surrounded Sosa with more talent -- but that didn't seem to help. I don't know if he had personality issues with Dusty Baker, or thought he'd rather be the one star on a losing team than one of a galaxy on a winning team, or was getting frustrated over mounting injuries and diminishing skills. In any case, he could easily have stayed around had he not bolted during the last game of the season, then dumped all over Dusty Baker (a staunch Sosa supporter until then). But he basically sealed his fate by his angry blast at the team, then silence thereafter.

From the Cubs' point of view, they're probably happy to get rid of some of his salary. Here are his career numbers -- in the last four seasons, his OPS numbers have been 1.174, .993, .911, and .849. You don't want to know what the next number's going to be given the previous four. At least the park he's going to isn't any more of a pitchers' park than Wrigley is.

The big question is, what will the team do to fill right field? Jerry Hairston is basically a second baseman, and an injury-prone one at that. (At least he's an Illinois native -- he grew up in Naperville, and his father had a long career with the White Sox.) With a .378 on-base percentage, he'd be ideal at the leadoff spot. But then who plays right? The only free agents left are questionable Magglio Ordonez, who looks headed to Detroit anyway, and over-the-hill Jeromy Burnitz, who had a good season last year -- but in Colorado, where the air is thin and the power stats are inflated.

Getting back to Sammy, however, I'm reminded of when I was a 14-year-old in New Jersey, and the Mets traded Tom Seaver to Cincinnati. There are significant differences: Seaver was traded at his peak, the ballclub clearly wanted to get rid of him for salary reasons, and newspaper columnist Dick Young forced the issue with a spurious column in which he implicated Seaver's wife was jealous of the salary and lifestyle afforded by former Met Nolan Ryan and his wife. All I can tell you is a lot of baseball fans shed a lot of tears around New York that night, and the team didn't recover its fan base for seven years.

I don't think many people are shedding tears in Chicago. But I do ask that we all remember the good times with Sammy, as well as the recent years. Sometimes it's best for all parties to move on.

current mood: disappointed

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Tuesday, January 25th, 2005
3:42 pm - Bulls? The Chicago Bulls?

I’m listening to WMVP, and they're talking Chicago Bulls - who are over .500 for the first time (barring two or three games into the season) since the last season Michael Jordan was around. Everyone’s getting excited, and talking not just playoffs, but how far they can go.

This is an indication of how bad the Bulls have been the last six seasons - I don’t think they finished within 20 games of .500 in any of them. And the show’s hosts, whoever they are (Mark Silverman and Rick Morrissey from the Tribune - Jay Mariotti is gone) are alternately getting excited, tempering their enthusiasm, and making fun of themselves because of how bad the other Chicago teams are. (The Cubs were a disappointment, the White Sox were mediocre as usual, and the Bears were horrible most of the season. Add in the Blackhawks' season being a lost cause because of the lockout, and what else do you have to talk about?)

The Bulls will be okay this season. I think 45 wins and going to the second round are reasonable goals. But the Bulls lost a lot of people in the last six seasons, and they need to win a little more consistently to get people to start talking about them again.

Let’s talk about college basketball a second. Illinois is undefeated, and they’re up at Wisconsin tonight in a game that should be a thriller. Northwestern is competitive, DePaul has righted the ship, and UIC is getting better. Yet we don’t talk about that much until the NCAAs. That should change.

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