WBEZ | Sports http://www.wbez.org/news/sports Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Board dismisses ruling to allow college athletes to unionize http://www.wbez.org/news/board-dismisses-ruling-allow-college-athletes-unionize-112669 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/NU NLRB Kain Colter.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The National Labor Relations Board on Monday threw out a historic ruling that gave Northwestern University football players the go-ahead to form the nation&#39;s first college athletes&#39; union, saying the prospect of union and nonunion teams could throw off the competitive balance in college football.</p><p>The decision dismissed a March 2014 decision by a regional NLRB director in Chicago who said that the football players are effectively school employees and entitled to organize. Monday&#39;s decision did not directly address the question of whether the players are employees.</p><p>&quot;Although we do not decide the issue here, we acknowledge that whether such individuals meet the board&#39;s test for employee status is a question that does not have an obvious answer,&quot; the NLRB said.</p><p>The labor dispute goes to the heart of American college sports, where universities and conferences reap billions of dollars, mostly through broadcast contracts, by relying on amateurs who are not paid. In other countries, college sports are small-time club affairs, while elite youth athletes often turn pro as teens.</p><p>The unanimous ruling by the five-member National Labor Relations Board concludes that letting Northwestern football players unionize could lead to different standards at different schools &mdash; from the amount of money players receive to the amount of time they can practice. That would, it says, create the competitive imbalances.</p><p>The ruling applies to private schools like Northwestern, which is a member of the powerful Big Ten Conference. Public universities do not fall under the agency&#39;s jurisdiction, though union activists have said they hope Northwestern&#39;s example inspires unionization campaigns by athletes at state schools.</p><p>Northwestern became the focal point of the labor fight in January 2014, when a handful of football players called the NCAA a &quot;dictatorship&quot; and announced plans to form the first U.S. labor union for college athletes. Quarterback Kain Colter detailed the College Athletes Players Association at a news conference, flanked by leaders of the United Steelworkers union that has lent its organizing expertise and presumably will help bankroll the court fight.</p><p>Regional NLRB Director Peter Sung Ohr issued a stunning decision three months later, saying Northwestern football players who receive scholarships fit the definition of employees under federal law and therefore should be able to unionize. A month later, football players cast secret ballots on whether to unionize. Those ballots were sealed during the appeal and will now be destroyed.</p><p>Former Northwestern receiver Kyle Prater said he voted against the union proposal, saying that he and his teammates were well treated during their college years.</p><p>But, Prater, who now plays for the New Orleans Saints, said he still feels there are &quot;some things as far as the NCAA that need to be more structured. And I think by what we did, our voice out there really helped get things going forward.&quot;</p><p>He spoke Saturday from the team&#39;s training camp in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.</p><p>Monday&#39;s seven-page ruling cites federal law and contends that unionized football players at Northwestern would not promote the &quot;uniformity&quot; and &quot;stability&quot; between workers and management that it says is the goal of U.S. labor relations law.</p><p>While NLRB decisions are sometimes split, the three Democrats and two Republicans on the board all agreed.</p><p>Under U.S. law, an employee is regarded as someone who, among other things, receives compensation for a service and is under the direct control of managers. In Northwestern&#39;s case, Ohr concluded coaches are equivalent to business managers and scholarships are a form of pay.</p><p>The ruling was welcome news for the NCAA, the dominant umbrella organization for U.S. college athletics. The NCAA has been under increasing scrutiny over its amateurism rules and has been in court fighting lawsuits from former athletes over everything from head injuries to revenue earned based on the use of their likenesses in video games.</p><p>The NCAA recently cleared the way for the five biggest conferences, including the Big Ten, to add player stipends to help athletes defray some of their expenses. Southeastern Conference schools, for example, will give some athletes $3,000 to $5,500 each on top of a scholarship that pays for tuition, room, board and books.</p><p>Northwestern, the Big Ten and the NCAA all argued against the unionization effort, saying that lumping college athletes into the same category as factory workers would transform amateur athletics for the worse. At one point, Northwestern administrators sent a document to players outlining potential pitfalls, noting that player strikes could lead to the spectacle of replacement players.</p><p>The specific goals of the players association, or CAPA, include guaranteeing coverage of sports-related medical expenses for current and former players, reducing head injuries.</p></p> Mon, 17 Aug 2015 12:13:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/board-dismisses-ruling-allow-college-athletes-unionize-112669 Little Village residents fight for fieldhouse http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/little-village-residents-fight-fieldhouse-112342 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Fieldhouse.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-3a786971-6a9e-ed11-1a7a-ade17383bb92">When Froy Marchán was growing up in the working-class neighborhood of Little Village, public amenities were few and far in between.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Growing up I never had a park. We would just make teams and play on the cement,&rdquo; he said.</p><p dir="ltr">That changed back in December when the new <a href="http://www.chicagoparkdistrict.com/parks/la-villita-park/">La Villita Park</a> was built next door to the Cook County Jail, only a 5-minute walk from Marchan&rsquo;s house. But despite the progress, he says the park is missing something &mdash; a fieldhouse with a pool.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I know for myself, I didn&rsquo;t learn how to swim until I was 18,&rdquo; he said.</p><p dir="ltr">Viviana Moreno agrees that a fieldhouse would bring all sorts of needed programming to the area.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;An indoor pool on this side of the neighborhood, a gym, probably an indoor soccer field, a garden, a space for seniors, meeting rooms,&rdquo; said Moreno, an organizer with the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO). &ldquo;Just places where people can just gather without being considered loitering.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">LVEJO led the effort to build the current park.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The park is amazing and beautiful and it&rsquo;s being highly utilized by community members, but we still need access to a space during the winter, we still need more resources in the community,&rdquo; Moreno said.</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.chicagoparkdistrict.com/">On its website</a>, the Chicago Park District invites residents to check out the nearest fieldhouse two miles away at <a href="http://www.chicagoparkdistrict.com/parks/Piotrowski-Park/">Piotrowski Park</a>. But according to Marchan, that&rsquo;s not an option.</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://llnw.wbez.org/2011.pdf">Gang lines have split the neighborhood</a> in such a way that, for decades, only kids living on the west side of Little Village could safely access Piotrowski Park. Marchan says he and his friends don&rsquo;t want to walk from the Latin Kings&rsquo; side into Two-Six territory.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It&rsquo;s not that easy to go and just have an enjoyable time at Piotrowski Park,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Some of them are afraid of the consequences that might come with being asked where you&rsquo;re from or running the risk of being hurt.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">The next closest fieldhouse is in <a href="http://www.chicagoparkdistrict.com/parks/Douglas-Park/">Douglas Park</a>. But many youth don&rsquo;t want to cross the viaduct into North Lawndale for the same reasons. Plus, there can be racial tensions.</p><p dir="ltr">That&rsquo;s one of the reasons 12th ward Alderman George Cardenas was a proud early backer of La Villita Park.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;But now stage two comes in where we have to fight for the fieldhouse,&rdquo; Cardenas said. &ldquo;And I even told LVEJO: Get ready because I want to get the fieldhouse, but I need your support.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">The alderman says he&rsquo;s determined to find the $16 million dollars for it. In the meantime, LVEJO is holding community meetings and collecting petition signatures.</p><p dir="ltr">A Park District spokeswoman said the size and design of a park determines the viability of a fieldhouse. In a written statement, she added: &ldquo;The Park District is committed to working with residents and elected officials to continually improve and enhance our parks. Should additional funding become available in the future, we would certainly consider adding a field house to this 22-acre park.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Organizers point to Ping Tom Park in Chinatown as a model. It&rsquo;s smaller than La Villita Park and equally narrow, but in 2013 they built an athletic fieldhouse for $15 million dollars that came from TIF and Park District sources.</p><p dir="ltr">Marchan says beyond the indoor programming a fieldhouse could help curb gang violence in his community.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Having that available to our youth and myself, I think it would mean the world.&rdquo;</p><p><br /><em>Jacqueline Serrato is a WBEZ Pritzker Journalism fellow. Follow her @HechaEnChicago.</em></p></p> Tue, 07 Jul 2015 17:15:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/little-village-residents-fight-fieldhouse-112342 After championship hat trick, Chicago celebrates Blackhawks http://www.wbez.org/news/after-championship-hat-trick-chicago-celebrates-blackhawks-112215 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP788338193679.jpg" style="height: 414px; width: 620px;" title=" (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)" /></div><p>Thousands of fans turned out Thursday to cheer the Chicago Blackhawks as they celebrated their third Stanley Cup championship in the past six years with a downtown parade and a rally at Soldier Field.</p><p>Goalie Corey Crawford told the fans &quot;you guys made this unbelievable.&quot; Duncan Keith, the defenseman who won the Conn Smythe trophy as the playoffs MVP, hinted at another win saying, &quot;four sounds better than three.&quot; Earlier, the crowd cheered for Blackhawks legends Bobby Hull, Denis Savard and Tony Esposito.</p><p>Former Blackhawks star Stan Mikita, who suffers from a progressive brain disorder, wasn&#39;t left out.</p><p>&quot;Stan ... we&#39;re thinking of you,&quot; the announcer said.</p><p>The Blackhawks captured their third championship with their victory over Tampa Bay in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup at the United Center on Monday night, and they haven&#39;t stopped celebrating since.</p><p>The Cup has been spotted all over town, at restaurants and nightclubs. It made an appearance at Wrigley Field on Tuesday, with Cubs manager Joe Maddon hoisting it above his head and Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews throwing out the ceremonial first pitch.</p><p>On Wednesday, President Barack Obama called coach Joel Quenneville, Toews and chairman Rocky Wirtz to congratulate the Blackhawks and added that he looks forward to hosting the team again at the White House.</p><p>And on Thursday, the team and the city let loose once again.</p><p>Players, coaches and team executives rode to the rally in double-decker buses, passing screaming fans of all ages decked out in red and black, as they wound their way from the United Center downtown to Michigan Avenue and the rally at Soldier Field.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP306666327069.jpg" style="height: 408px; width: 620px;" title="Chicago Blackhawks fans pack downtown streets after the Blackhawks players rode on double-decker buses in a parade to celebrate the NHL hockey club's Stanley Cup championship,Thursday, June 18, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato)" /></div><p>It was a familiar scene for this Original Six franchise, and another reminder just how far it has come in recent seasons, with Toews and Patrick Kane leading the way.</p><p>The Blackhawks won it all in 2010, ending a 49-year championship drought, and captured the Cup again in 2013. But this year&#39;s run was different. The Blackhawks endured, the suicide of their longtime equipment manager, the death of former teammate Steve Montador and a Kane&#39;s broken collarbone.</p><p>Yet there they were on Thursday, celebrating the franchise&#39;s sixth championship. Chicago is the first NHL team to win three titles in a six-year span since Detroit in 1997, 1998 and 2002.</p><p>It&#39;s hard to believe that this organization was little more than an afterthought in Chicago or that the &quot;Madhouse on Madison&quot; felt more like a library, with sparse crowds at the United Center. The late Bill Wirtz refused to televise home games and drove away franchise icons such as Hull and Mikita.</p><p>Those two now have statues outside the arena, and the Blackhawks have a vice-like grip on the city.</p></p> Thu, 18 Jun 2015 12:59:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/after-championship-hat-trick-chicago-celebrates-blackhawks-112215 Chicago Blackhawks take home 3rd Stanley Cup in 6 years with 2-0 win http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chicago-blackhawks-take-home-3rd-stanley-cup-6-years-2-0-win-112196 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/hockey.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>For the third time in six years, the Chicago Blackhawks have won the Stanley Cup. Their 2-0 victory Monday night over the Tampa Bay Lightning even offered an opportunity the team didn&#39;t have the two previous times &mdash; the chance to celebrate the title on its home ice.</p><p>It&#39;s Chicago&#39;s sixth Stanley Cup overall, having previously also won in 1934, 1938 and 1961, as well as the two recent titles in 2010 and 2013.</p><p>Defender Duncan Keith scored the first goal, putting in his own rebound in the second period. It was only his third goal of the playoffs and his 13th of the season. After the game, he was named the most valuable player of the Stanley Cup playoffs, the first defender given the honor since the Anaheim Ducks&#39; Scott Niedermayer in 2007.</p><p>Star winger Patrick Kane added a wide-open insurance goal late in the third period off a Brad Richards pass. Center Jonathan Toews, who captained all three of the Blackhawks&#39; recent title winners and who was named most valuable player of the 2010 playoffs, was the first to hoist the cup.</p><p>The Lightning offense struggled in the game, getting off just 24 shots on goal against Corey Crawford, the fewest the Blackhawks goalie had faced in a game since first-round games against the Nashville Predators. Even playing six-on-four for a minute as the game wound down, Tampa Bay got few good opportunities.</p><p>The Blackhawks won more than twice as many faceoffs as the Lightning, and had two penalty minutes to Tampa Bay&#39;s six.</p><p><em>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/06/15/414725803/chicago-hopes-to-clinch-the-stanley-cup-on-home-ice-for-first-time-in-decades">via NPR&#39;s The Two-Way</a></em></p></p> Tue, 16 Jun 2015 00:19:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chicago-blackhawks-take-home-3rd-stanley-cup-6-years-2-0-win-112196 In Englewood, kids and cops find common ground on baseball diamond http://www.wbez.org/sections/lifestyle/englewood-kids-and-cops-find-common-ground-baseball-diamond-112155 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Image4.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Strained relationships between the police and the community are unfortunately common in many cities, and Chicago is no different. From the acquittal of Chicago police officer Dante Servin for killing Rekia Boyd, to the shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald by two Chicago officers, the trust in law enforcement remains shaky.</p><p>One South Side community group aims to help mend the fences by getting Chicago cops and kids from Englewood playing baseball together. Teamwork Englewood organized the Englewood Police/Youth Baseball League earlier this year to get cops in a coaching and mentoring role. The co-ed league is housed at Hamilton Park and the teams are almost ready for opening day on June 24.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="100" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/209374756&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Mon, 08 Jun 2015 11:51:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/sections/lifestyle/englewood-kids-and-cops-find-common-ground-baseball-diamond-112155 Veteran Blackhawks, young Lightning open Stanley Cup Final http://www.wbez.org/news/veteran-blackhawks-young-lightning-open-stanley-cup-final-112135 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/blackhawks_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The Chicago Blackhawks headed south this week to secure a dynasty, and the Tampa Bay Lightning are the only obstacle left.</p><p>Jonathan Toews and his Blackhawks teammates have already raised the Stanley Cup twice in the past five seasons. They&#39;re just four wins away from a third NHL title that would establish them as the most accomplished club of their era.</p><p>The opener of the Stanley Cup Final is Wednesday night in Tampa Bay. Here are two matchups to watch for:</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">The Teams</span></p><p>NPR&#39;s David Greene talks to Greg Wyshynski, editor of Yahoo&#39;s Puck Daddy blog, for a preview of the Chicago Blackhawks and the Tampa Bay Lightning.</p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="290" scrolling="no" src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/411660189/411660190" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">The National Anthem Singers</span></p><p>In hockey, the competition often begins before the puck is dropped &mdash; with the national anthem.</p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="290" scrolling="no" src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/411406397/411406398" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Wed, 03 Jun 2015 08:39:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/veteran-blackhawks-young-lightning-open-stanley-cup-final-112135 FIFA officials arrested on charges of bribery and corruption http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/fifa-officials-arrested-charges-bribery-and-corruption-112096 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/0527_fifa-headquarters-624x416.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Seven top FIFA officials were arrested this morning at a luxury hotel in Zurich, Switzerland, where soccer&rsquo;s international governing body was gathering for its annual meeting.</p><p>The arrests, on charges of accepting bribes and kickbacks dating back many years, were made at the request of the U.S. Department of Justice.</p><p>Also today, Swiss federal prosecutors announced that they have opened an investigation into the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, which went to Russia and Qatar respectively.</p><p><em>Here &amp; Now</em>&rsquo;s Robin Young gets the latest on the charges, and how they&rsquo;re rippling through the soccer world, from WBUR reporter Curt Nickish, who is in Switzerland.</p><ul><li><em><a href="http://www.wbur.org/about/people/curt-nickisch" target="_blank">Curt Nickisch</a>, business and technology reporter for WBUR. He tweets&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/CurtNickisch" target="_blank">@CurtNickisch</a>.</em></li></ul></p> Wed, 27 May 2015 16:10:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/fifa-officials-arrested-charges-bribery-and-corruption-112096 For Bears chairman, plenty to second guess in McDonald case http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/bears-chairman-plenty-second-guess-mcdonald-case-112095 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/AP720335860662 Small_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>LAKE FOREST, Ill. &mdash; Chicago Bears chairman George McCaskey said Wednesday he has repeatedly second-guessed his decision to approve the Ray McDonald signing and asked himself what he could have done differently.</p><p>McDonald was released Monday following a domestic violence arrest in Northern California that police say stemmed from an assault on a woman who was holding a baby. McCaskey said he thought the Bears were thorough before signing the defensive end to a one-year deal in March and had the safeguards in place to make the move work.</p><p>&quot;I&#39;ve asked myself that question a lot. What more could I have done?&quot; McCaskey said. &quot;Is there somebody else we could have consulted with? Should I have taken more time to make a decision? I don&#39;t know. We thought we had a good structure, a good support system. We thought we had safeguards in place in case something like this happened.&quot;</p><p>Did the move affect the chairman&#39;s confidence in new general manager Ryan Pace.</p><p>&quot;We have complete confidence in Ryan,&quot; McCaskey said.</p><p>He said he was not involved in the decision to release McDonald because &quot;I didn&#39;t need to be. They knew what needed to be done and did it.&quot;</p><p>McCaskey said his reaction to the arrest was, &quot;Sadness for the child, for the child&#39;s mother and the entire situation.&quot;</p><p>As for McDonald&#39;s release, running back Matt Forte had a different reaction.</p><p>&quot;My first initial thought was, &#39;Man, we could have used him on defense,&#39;&quot; he said.</p><p>The Bears knew they were taking a risk when they signed McDonald. The San Francisco 49ers released him in December citing a &quot;pattern of poor decision-making.&quot;</p><p>That move came just a month after Santa Clara County prosecutors declined to file charges against McDonald in a separate domestic violence investigation stemming from an arrest on Aug. 31 while celebrating his 30th birthday at his Northern California home. Prosecutors cited conflicting versions of what happened, a lack of verifiable eyewitnesses and a lack of cooperation by the alleged victim, McDonald&#39;s fiancee, in explaining their decision.</p><p>But his trouble continued.</p><p>In March, McDonald filed a defamation lawsuit against a woman who had accused him of rape.</p><p>McDonald says security camera footage will show a consensual sexual encounter occurred in his hot tub. Police say the woman doesn&#39;t recall any sexual encounters and reported blacking out after drinking alcohol and falling at McDonald&#39;s home.</p><p>She said she went to police after waking up naked next to McDonald. The Santa Clara County district attorney is looking at the case.</p><p>McCaskey initially balked at signing McDonald but changed his mind after the player paid his way to Chicago for a face-to-face meeting. He spoke to McDonald&#39;s parents. New defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, who came from the 49ers, put in a good word for him, too.</p><p>But McCaskey said he did not reach out to the accusers or any of the lawyers involved in the cases because he did not want to interfere in any criminal or league investigations.</p><p>&quot;I thought a lot about that, too,&quot; McCaskey said. &quot;Not just before signing him but since. One of my concerns was the bias anybody has in that situation. An alleged victim wants to make sure that charges are filed. An alleged perpetrator is doing everything he can to make sure that charges aren&#39;t filed. So that was part of it. But a larger concern to me was that I didn&#39;t want to interfere with any criminal investigation or with any league investigation by talking to the child&#39;s mother.&quot;</p><p>McCaskey said the Bears had a &quot;good dialogue&quot; with anti-domestic violence agencies before the McDonald signing and afterward. But he insisted it was the Bears&#39; decision to release him.</p><p>The decision to sign McDonald raised all sorts of questions, particularly since they are coming off a five-win season and not widely considered contenders. Plus, domestic violence became a major topic of conversation in the NFL last year because of a series of high-profile cases involving players, most notably Ray Rice.</p><p>McCaskey was asked about the possibility of the NFL punishing teams that sign players who get arrested. He said the league is not considering that, as far as he knows.</p><p>&quot;I haven&#39;t heard any discussion about that, either on the committee or among the membership,&quot; said McCaskey, a member of the NFL&#39;s conduct committee. &quot;It might be something that would be worth the discussion (but) I don&#39;t know that there was any consensus on that issue at all.&quot;</p></p> Wed, 27 May 2015 16:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/bears-chairman-plenty-second-guess-mcdonald-case-112095 Bears release Ray McDonald after domestic violence arrest in California http://www.wbez.org/news/bears-release-ray-mcdonald-after-domestic-violence-arrest-california-112084 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/AP720335860662 Small.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>SAN FRANCISCO (AP) &mdash; The Chicago Bears released defensive end&nbsp;Ray&nbsp;McDonald&nbsp;following a domestic violence arrest in Northern California that police say stemmed from an assault on a woman who was holding a baby.</p><p>McDonald&nbsp;was taken into custody at 7 a.m. Monday on suspicion of domestic violence and child endangerment, Santa Clara police Lt. Kurt Clarke said.</p><p>Police say the assault happened at his home in Santa Clara. He was found about three hours later at a home in San Jose and arrested.</p><p>Police did not disclose if the woman or the baby were injured.</p><p>The Chicago Bears released a statement Monday afternoon about the decision to letMcDonald&nbsp;go.</p><p>&quot;We believe in second chances, but when we signed&nbsp;Ray&nbsp;we were very clear what our expectations were if he was to remain a Bear,&quot; General Manager Ryan Pace said in the statement. &quot;He was not able to meet the standard, and the decision was made to release him.&quot;</p><p>Bears guard Kyle Long quickly reacted to the move by tweeting &quot;Good riddance.&quot;</p><p>Chicago signed&nbsp;McDonald&nbsp;to a one-year contract in late March knowing it was a gamble given his history of legal issues.</p><p>Chairman George McCaskey even acknowledged at the time that he initially told Pace not to go after him. But McCaskey came away impressed from a face-to-face conversation that he described as &quot;very candid, very forthright&quot; and &quot;difficult&quot; afterMcDonald&nbsp;paid his way to Chicago.</p><p>McCaskey talked to&nbsp;McDonald&#39;s&nbsp;parents but didn&#39;t talk to any lawyers involved inMcDonald&#39;s&nbsp;cases or the accusers.</p><p>He cited a league investigation and said: &quot;An alleged victim I think much like anybody else who has a bias in a situation there&#39;s a certain amount of discounting what they have to say. But our personnel department had done its work looking into his background and the incidents and we had the benefit of two coaches who had been with him with the 49ers.</p><p>&quot;I spoke with Vic Fangio and came away very impressed with what Vic had to say about him, that he&#39;s well-liked by his teammates, by his coaches, his strong work ethic. That he&#39;s considered a leader on the field and speaking to Vic and&nbsp;Rayespecially I was convinced that he&#39;s sufficiently motivated to make this work.&quot;</p><p>McDonald&#39;s&nbsp;agent, Tom Condon, did not immediately return calls for comment Monday afternoon.</p><p>In December, the San Francisco 49ers released the 30-year-old, citing a &quot;pattern of poor decision-making.&quot;</p><p>In letting him go late in the season, 49ers General Manager Trent Baalke said, &quot;Ray&#39;s&nbsp;demonstrated a pattern of poor decision-making that has led to multiple distractions to this organization and this football team that really can no longer be tolerated.&quot;</p><p>His release from San Francisco came just a month after the Santa Clara County district attorney&#39;s office announced it had declined to file charges against&nbsp;McDonaldin a separate domestic violence investigation stemming from an arrest on Aug. 31 while celebrating his 30th birthday at his Northern California home.</p><p>Prosecutors cited conflicting versions of what happened, a lack of verifiable eyewitnesses and a lack of cooperation by the alleged victim,&nbsp;McDonald&#39;s&nbsp;fiancee, in explaining their decision not to pursue charges in the domestic violence investigation.</p><p>But his trouble continued.</p><p>In March,&nbsp;McDonald&nbsp;filed a defamation lawsuit against a woman who had accused him of rape.</p><p>McDonald&nbsp;says security camera footage will show a consensual sexual encounter occurred in his hot tub. Police say the woman doesn&#39;t recall any sexual encounters and reported blacking out after drinking alcohol and falling at&nbsp;McDonald&#39;s&nbsp;home.</p><p>She said she went to police after waking up naked next to&nbsp;McDonald. The Santa Clara County district attorney is considering whether to file criminal charges.</p><p>McDonald&nbsp;had been signed by the 49ers through the 2015 season. He had three sacks in 14 games last year and had 19&nbsp;1/2 sacks in eight seasons with the 49ers.</p></p> Mon, 25 May 2015 14:56:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/bears-release-ray-mcdonald-after-domestic-violence-arrest-california-112084 In Baltimore, a different historic moment: A fan-less baseball game http://www.wbez.org/news/baltimore-different-historic-moment-fan-less-baseball-game-111962 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/ap104892546963_custom-d40167f1b73db77f04a3eb0651cf27e42e8fcd8c-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div class="image-insert-image ">History was made in Baltimore Wednesday: The Orioles played the Chicago White Sox in what the league says is the first Major League Baseball game to be closed to public.</div><p>So players came on the field to no cheers and a home run was marked by the crack of a bat and only a few isolated claps.</p><p>Here&#39;s video of the first pitch:</p><p>&nbsp;</p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Here&#39;s first pitch from White Sox and Orioles <a href="http://t.co/Q3ssanz6tF">pic.twitter.com/Q3ssanz6tF</a></p>&mdash; Colleen Kane (@ChiTribKane) <a href="https://twitter.com/ChiTribKane/status/593477271828180994">April 29, 2015</a></blockquote><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p>And video of a three-run home run by Orioles first-baseman Chris Davis:</p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="600" src="https://vine.co/v/e7mqZ6zmwtK/embed/simple" width="600"></iframe><script src="https://platform.vine.co/static/scripts/embed.js"></script></p><p>NPR&#39;s Don Gonyea is at Camden Yards this afternoon and he reports that he saw just a small amount of police presence outside the stadium.</p><p><a href="http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/12781465/baltimore-orioles-chicago-white-sox-series-finale-played-wednesday-closed-public">ESPN reports</a>&nbsp;that it is believed that fan-less games have been played in the minor leagues. The network explains:</p><blockquote><p>&quot;The Baseball Hall of Fame and John Thorn, MLB&#39;s official historian, said they did not think there ever had been a closed-doors big league game, although there have been instances in the minor leagues.</p><p>&quot;Thorn said the lowest attendance for a major league game appears to be six when Worcester hosted Troy in a National League matchup on Sept. 28, 1882.&quot;</p></blockquote></p> Wed, 29 Apr 2015 16:17:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/baltimore-different-historic-moment-fan-less-baseball-game-111962