WBEZ | Cubs http://www.wbez.org/tags/cubs Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Chicago has the Stanley Cup, now what? http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-06/after-hockey-celebration-now-what-107891 <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/rsz_cub_fans_nam_y_huh.jpg" style="float: right; height: 198px; width: 300px;" title="Chicago fans will have a tough summer with hockey done. (AP Photo/Nam Y.Huh)" /><strong>What&#39;s next for the Blackhawks</strong></div><p>Now that the hockey season is over, the Blackhawks have to deal with their free agents and the draft. The team traded Dave Bolland to the Toronto Maple Leafs for three draft picks. They also sent Michael Frolik to the Winnipeg Jets for addition draft selections.</p><p>These moves allowed the team to re-sign&nbsp;Bryan Bickell to a four year deal. The salary cap forced changes again with the roster, but not ones as difficult as the 2010 changes.&nbsp;Still, it is hard for the fans to see&nbsp;Bolland, known as &quot;the Rat,&quot; leave after scoring the winning goal for the title.&nbsp;</p><p>Frolik had a big role&nbsp;with the team&#39;s penalty&nbsp;kill unit.&nbsp;Restricted free agent Nick Leddy said he also wants to remain a Hawk. General Manager Stan Bowman said he is more than likely to match any offer. The one free agent who seems to be leaving is Viktor Stalberg. The Swedish winger showed emotion when I asked him about his situation. He thought his lack of playing time put him in a difficult spot.</p><p>&ldquo;It was one of the toughest things to go through,&rdquo; he said. He also said he doesn&rsquo;t want to play the same role again. Expect him to play somewhere else.</p><p><strong>Chicago baseball update</strong></p><p>It is almost gratifying to realize the hockey has overshadowed a very bad baseball season. Both teams have languished in the bottom of their divisions. The Cubs&nbsp;continue their rebuilding effort and&nbsp;the Sox are a very flat team.&nbsp;It appears the most interesting news for the Cubs and White Sox is who will get traded at the deadline the end of next month. With scouts lining up to watch Matt Garza pitch yesterday, he is a strong candidate for another team. The right hander&rsquo;s health is the biggest concern for a trading partner. Scott Feldman has pitched well enough to get a look by teams. The Cubs best hurler has been Travis Wood. He should be a keeper at this point.&nbsp;</p><p>The White Sox have to figure out if it is time to wave the &ldquo;white flag&rdquo; on a team that has underperformed and has looked bad on offense and horrible on defense. There are not many commodities to make deals. Jake Peavy is still nursing a broken rib. The Sox pitcher is expected to return after the All-Star break. Another player that may draw interest is Alex Rios.&nbsp; The Sox outfielder has been the most consistent hitter on the club. The best player that will be made available is Jesse Crain.&nbsp;So the&nbsp;most exciting day for baseball may be July 31: the trading deadline.</p><p><strong>Bears training camp in sight</strong></p><p>Bears fans can circle July 26 for a chance to see the team in action for the first time since Marc Trestman took over as head coach. That first practice in Bourbonnais will not be with pads. Those workouts start July 28. After attending the Bears OTA&rsquo;s and mini-camps, fans will have plenty to watch.</p><p><strong>New Bulls in the fold</strong></p><p>On Thursday night the Chicago Bulls took a guard/small forward Tony Snell from New Mexico in the first round of the NBA draft. He is considered a good shooter and is best in the &ldquo;catch and shoot&rdquo; role. Defense is also considered an asset. When you take the 20th selection, who knows. The team did do well with Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson in the range of the first round. The took Erik Murphy a 6&#39;10&quot; forward from University of Florida in the second round.</p><p><strong>Chicago Sky and Fire</strong></p><p>The WNBA&#39;s Chicago Sky hopes to make the playoffs this year. They may have some of the pieces in place. Rookie Elena Delle Donne with veterans Sylvia Fowles and Epiphanny Prince have a winning record at 7-3 and a post-season appearance would help this franchise get legitimate interest.</p><p>The Chicago Fire has rebounded from a slow start this season. The MLS soccer team is 5-1-2 since their last loss on May 18. Right now the Fire is 5-7-3 overall.</p><p><em>Follow Cheryl on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/Crayestout" target="_blank">@CRayeStout</a> and Facebook <a href="http://www.facebook.com/CherylAtTheGame" target="_blank">Cheryl Raye Stout #AtTheGame</a></em></p></p> Fri, 28 Jun 2013 18:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-06/after-hockey-celebration-now-what-107891 40 reasons I love being a Chicagoan in 2013 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/nico-lang/2013-06/40-reasons-i-love-being-chicagoan-2013-107509 <p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Chicago.Flickr.10.2012.jpg" title="(Flickr: PageDooley)" /></p><p><span style="text-align: left;">Last year I wrote an article for </span><em style="text-align: left;">The Huffington Post</em><span style="text-align: left;"> on reasons I </span><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nico-lang/40-reasons-i-love-being-a_b_1523254.html" style="text-align: left;" target="_blank">love being a Chicagoan</a><span style="text-align: left;">. But why should 2012 have all the fun? Here&#39;s 40 reasons I&#39;m looking forward to another year in the city of wind and <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-06/chicagos-unwritten-rules-107481" target="_blank">LeBron hatred</a>.</span></p><p><strong>1. The endless opportunities to bash Rahm.</strong> His recent decisions suggest that he&rsquo;s running for re-election as the mayor of Hell. At this point, I think more Chicagoans approve of herpes than his job in office.</p><p><strong>2. Getting to ride the lakefront trail in the summer. </strong>After the longest winter in recorded history (which may not ever end), there&rsquo;s no better way to celebrate than a long ride down Lake Michigan at night.</p><p><strong>3. The Morse Stop. </strong>Rogers Park, where have you been all my life? The Morse stop is my newest obsession because of its proximity to the ever delicious Heartland Cafe, Mayne Stage, Sidecar and Devon Avenue. It&rsquo;s so tucked away that on those days you want to get away, it&rsquo;s like you&rsquo;re not even in Chicago.</p><p><strong>4. Our obscene amount of beaches. </strong>Insider knowledge: Check out the cafe at Berger Park. The service is so bad it&rsquo;s out of a Kafka novel, but it&rsquo;s right by Ratigan Beach and sits on the lake. On a hot day, the wind from the shore makes you forget you haven&rsquo;t seen your server in 10 years.</p><p><strong>5. Lectures at the University of Chicago. </strong>Their guest speaker department needs a raise. Between Angela Davis and Jeffrey Eugenides, there&rsquo;s always someone interesting to meet at U of C. Now if they could just fix Hyde Park&rsquo;s public transportation issues, I could actually get there.</p><p><strong>6. Playing arcade games...in a bar. </strong>I&rsquo;m not usually into the vintage fad, but Emporium in Wicker Park and Replay in Lakeview are getting it right. I will go to any bar with a pinball machine, stat.</p><p><strong>7. The drive thru at Big Star. </strong>Can&rsquo;t get a spot on <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/nico-lang/2013-05/5-ways-big-star-shows-why-chicago-americas-best-food-city-107126" target="_blank">those crowded weekends</a>? Grab a taco and go to the park. It&rsquo;s gorgeous outside. Who needs a table?</p><p><strong>8. Printer&rsquo;s Row Lit Fest.</strong> For book nerds of all ages, this is by far the best of the city&rsquo;s summer street festivals, offering a great mix of your favorite bestsellers and hidden gems. Pro-tip: Take a limited amount of cash. If not, you may end up selling your house for that first edition Proust. Know your limits and your bank balance before you go to there.</p><p><strong>9. The ongoing North Side v. South Side v. West Side debate. </strong>Neighborhood pride is something to behold in Chicago, even if that neighborhood happens to be Lincoln Park. Whatever. Someone has to like it. I personally want to hear people arguing for the East Side. Those lake creatures are so underrepresented.</p><p><strong>10. Getting to pretend I know about local sports. </strong>There are so many sports teams around that statistically I&rsquo;m going to know something that&rsquo;s happening. Fact: The first time I saw Fukudome&rsquo;s name on the back of a fan&rsquo;s jersey, I thought the shirt was instructing me to have sex with it. The vulgarity of those Cubs!</p><p><strong>11. Gossiping about local celebrities. </strong>Almost everyone has a Cusack, Rick Bayless or a Steadman story, and sometimes I gaze out the window of my coffee shop, hoping that Ira Glass will come back to me. One day he will hear my heartsong.</p><p><strong>12. Acting like I&rsquo;ve been to The Girl and the Goat. </strong>For all I know, those are the only two things they serve. It&rsquo;s four star cannibalism...with a side of kale.</p><p><strong>13. Never going on the Yellow Line.</strong> I still don&rsquo;t understand what I&rsquo;m supposed to do in Skokie. Just because you build it doesn&rsquo;t mean I&rsquo;ll come.</p><p><strong>14. Tim Curry.</strong> Tim Curry isn&rsquo;t just a beloved actor anymore. He also now shares a name with one of Wormhole&rsquo;s recent weekly drinks, which blended Indian spices with iced espresso to create heaven. I never thought about putting curry in my coffee, but now I can&rsquo;t get enough of it. My life has been changed.</p><p><strong>15. The refurbished Logan and New 400 Theatres. </strong>Along with midnight shows, Chicago&rsquo;s hottest cinema trend is the movie theatre bar, which rejuvenated these crumbling theatres. For just $6, you can get a nice Long Island at the New 400 while you check out the latest Hollywood has to offer. If it&rsquo;s <em>After Earth</em>, you will need every drop.</p><p><strong>16. Having an opportunity to wear everything in your closet. </strong>Chicago is one of the few cities that actually offers all four seasons. You might even get them on the same day. Don&rsquo;t like the weather? Fret not. It will change in a couple hours.</p><p><strong>17.&nbsp;<em>The Book of Mormon</em>, which I always forget to go to. </strong>By now, everyone and their grandma has seen it. This proves that 99 percent of grandmothers are cooler than I am. They do love <em>NCIS</em>. What&rsquo;s more badass than Mark Harmon?</p><p><strong>18. Collectively cringing every time a Vince Vaughn movie comes out. </strong>We all want him to make good and show us again the guy who make <em>Swingers</em>. We have hope, because we stick by our own. But like fetch, it&rsquo;s never going to happen. Never forget <em>Fred Claus</em>.</p><p><strong>19. Having an excuse to call a cab when it rains for no reason. </strong>Oh, darn, I guess I&rsquo;ll have to have this magic chariot take me right to my door instead of sitting next to the Phil Spector look-a-like on the bus. But if you live in Andersonville and you&rsquo;re coming all the way from Pilsen or Bronzeville, it&rsquo;s another story entirely. That story costs you $30.</p><p><strong>20. Not getting a <em>Real Housewives</em> spinoff. </strong>Every day that a certain Bravo series doesn&rsquo;t desecrate our city is another day we all breathe easier. Besides, we already have <em>Mob Wives </em>to make us look bad.</p><p><strong>21. The cafe gems of the South Side. </strong>Although the Northside gets most of the credit (because who doesn&rsquo;t love Metropolis?), the South Side has a wealth of pleasures for coffee lovers, including Bridgeport Coffee Company, Overflow Coffee Bar, Little Branch, Istria and Robust Coffee Lounge. If you happen all the way down to Beverly, the neighborhood&rsquo;s Beverly Bakery is an absolute must.</p><p><strong>22. Not having to deal with the Olympics.</strong> Because did you really want to hear about it for the next 10 years?</p><p><strong>23. The amount of crap to go to. </strong>I often hear people complain that there&rsquo;s nothing to do in this city. WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? I need about seven clones to go to all the things going on, or a helicopter that makes getting to Logan Square easier. Fullerton bus, you need to get your act together.</p><p><strong>24. The Western bus. </strong>Now here&rsquo;s a great bus line&mdash;in my opinion, the best in the city. You rarely wait more than 10 minutes for a bus, and sometimes a nice bus stack means you get a bus all to yourself. You&rsquo;ll never be able to say that about the Lincoln bus.</p><p><strong>25. Never having to go to Clarke&rsquo;s. </strong>The city has an astounding amount of great diners, from the Pick Me Up Cafe to Lou Mitchell&rsquo;s, Stella&rsquo;s and Glenn&rsquo;s. I&rsquo;m also partial to Nookie&rsquo;s, but not for the eating. No one goes there for the food, even though it&rsquo;s perfectly decent. You go because the waiters are insanely hot. I&rsquo;m there for the service.</p><p><strong>26. The flowering of gay bars and queer nights outside of Boystown. </strong>Don&rsquo;t want to brave the B-Town crowd? The city is your oyster, young queer. Check out FKA at Big Chicks, SloMo at The Whistler, Northern Lights and Heavy Rotation at Parlour, Salonathon at Beauty Bar, Chances at The Hideout and Subject to Change at The Burlington. For our leather daddies in the audience, there&rsquo;s always Touche. Swords not included.</p><p><strong>27. The best/worst drag show of all time. </strong>Have you ever been to the drag show at Jackhammer at midnight on Monday nights? Did you even know it existed? Get ready to have your life changed. Spoiler: Some of the queens don&rsquo;t even dress in drag.</p><p><strong>28. Pride month.</strong> Gay Pride gets the press, but the great thing about pride is that it&rsquo;s everywhere, not just in Lakeview. The city&rsquo;s Black Prides, United Latino Pride, Disability Pride and TGIF prove why pride is a whole month long. There&#39;s room to celebrate everyone.</p><p><strong>29. Knowing that no one else gets what Kristin Cavallari sees in Jay Cutler either.</strong> Does she have a rare &ldquo;No Chin&rdquo; fetish? Is she attracted to interceptions? It defies logic.</p><p><strong>30. A great summer for indie films. </strong>This year, we&rsquo;ve got Sofia Coppola&rsquo;s <em>The Bling Ring</em>, <em>The Spectacular Now</em>, <em>Ain&rsquo;t Them Bodies Saints</em>, <em>Fruitvale Station</em>, Joe Swanberg&rsquo;s<em> Drinking Buddies</em>, Woody Allen&rsquo;s <em>Blue Jasmine </em>and <em>The Way, Way Back</em>, which really wants to be this year&rsquo;s <em>Little Miss Sunshine</em>. Add that to the already released <em>Frances Ha</em> and <em>Before Midnight</em>, which I plan on seeing twenty times, and you might not leave the movie theatre this summer. If you do, there&rsquo;s always Movies in the Park, the summer&rsquo;s best excuse to get secretly drunk in public.</p><p><strong>31. Pitchbjork. </strong>I know Lolla has New Order, The Postal Service, The Cure and Kendrick Lamar. Riot Fest has Dinosaur Jr., Surfer Blood and Against Me! (which I&rsquo;m dying for already), but there&rsquo;s no show I&rsquo;m more intrigued by than Bjork&rsquo;s set at Pitchfork. I hope she eats her sweater on stage.</p><p><strong>32. Enjoying the last year of my U-Pass</strong>. I&rsquo;m finished with grad school after December, and after that, it&rsquo;s Ventra city. I will cherish every glorious day until that time.</p><p><strong>33. Making fun of John Barleycorn</strong>. Does anyone you know actually go there? If so, you should stop knowing them.</p><p><strong>34. The yearly Tracy Letts film adaptation.</strong> Last year it was Killer Joe, which was so violent it made me regret having eyes. This time around Julia Roberts tries to make Meryl Streep eat her fish in <em>August: Osage County</em>. As long as Matthew McConaughey doesn&rsquo;t make a surprise appearance with a chicken leg, I&rsquo;m fine.</p><p><strong>35. The Old Navy preacher. </strong>Sure, he&rsquo;s old, deluded and filled with hate, but he&rsquo;s a Chicago staple, like the Red Line guy who hands out his resumes and the Greenpeace canvassers we all avoid. What would Chicago be without them? It&rsquo;s good to have things you can count on.</p><p><strong>36. Knowing that the Marilyn Monroe statue is gone, never to have her undercarriage oogled again. </strong>Whose bright idea was that thing anyway?</p><p><strong>37. The Edgewater Trader Joe&rsquo;s.</strong> I know it&rsquo;s not real and was the meanest April Fools&rsquo; prank of all time, but I can pretend. I want to believe that my love for Trader Joe&#39;s transcends reality.</p><p><strong>38. Making up excuses not to go to the Taste of Chicago.</strong> &ldquo;I&rsquo;m sorry. I seem to have developed an allergic reaction to sunshine...and tourists.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>39. Getting to use the website crash as an excuse not to sign up for the marathon.</strong> Clearly Jesus didn&rsquo;t want me to run 26.2 miles. And by Jesus, I mean me. I didn&rsquo;t want to run 26.2 miles.</p><p><strong>40. Chicagoans fight back.&nbsp;</strong>In the wake of our historic school closings, I&rsquo;m always inspired to see the number of people standing together, those who refuse to take our city&rsquo;s culture of systemic segregation lying down. When I see a sea of people in red shirts holding our city accountable to its messes, I&rsquo;m proud to see neighbors, friends and the guy I stood next to on the train. When I see people huddled in the rain protesting our state&#39;s inability to pass marriage equality, it reminds me why I&rsquo;m here: because our city is worth fighting for.</p><p><em>Nico Lang writes about LGBTQ issues in Chicago. You can find Nico on <a href="http://achatwithnicolang.tumblr.com" target="_blank">Tumblr</a>, <a href="http://www.twitter.com/nico_lang" target="_blank">Twitter</a> or <a href="http://www.facebook.com/nicorlang" target="_blank">Facebook</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 03 Jun 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/nico-lang/2013-06/40-reasons-i-love-being-chicagoan-2013-107509 Blackhawks and Cub-Sox games tonight for Chicago fans http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-05/blackhawks-and-cub-sox-games-tonight-chicago-fans-107372 <p><p>Make sure your television remote control has plenty of battery power for the local sports action tonight. The Blackhawks try again to stave off elimination in Detroit and the Cubs travel across town to US Cellular to play the White Sox.</p><p>Game 6 will be another bruising battle for the Hawks and Red Wings. Down 3 games to 2, which team will show up for Coach Joel Quenneville?</p><p>Will it be the one that dominated in the first and last games or the one that was battered and embarrassed by their arch rivals in the middle contests?</p><p>On Saturday, the Blackhawks had the edge on every aspect of the game. They must try to carry the momentum at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. It will not be easy. During games 3 and 4 the Wings were fueled by their rabid fans and physically dominated the Hawks, especially Jonathan Towes. Chicago&#39;s &quot;Captain Serious&quot; has found scoring goals a huge struggle this post season. When he finally scored his first of the playoffs last Saturday (on the power play, no less) it was a huge weight off his shoulders and it seemed the team felt it, too.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rsz_jonathan_toews_nam_y_huh.jpg" style="height: 329px; width: 360px; float: left;" title="Captain Jonathan Toews hopes for more playoff action after today.(AP Photo/Nan Y. Huh)" /></p><p>Rarely in a team sport like hockey can one player affect a team, but Toews is not an ordinary player. He is their leader and he provides important lift that raised the team to the best regular season record. After the game, Toews finally had a smile on his face and you could see he was relieved his team fought to play another day.</p><p>What was one of the big reasons the Hawks won a Stanley Cup three years ago?</p><p>If you answered traffic in the net, defense and scoring on the power play you would be right in all three categories.&nbsp;</p><p>Andrew Shaw (and to some extent Bryan Bickell) must disrupt Detroit&rsquo;s goalie Jimmy Howard. Shaw is not big, but he must plant himself in front of Howard.</p><p>The power play has been abysmal for most of the year and the post-season. It finally was better last game after the Hawks scored twice.</p><p>Finally, the area that has been the strength of the Blackhawks has been their defense and they need every combination to continue to play hard and block shots.</p><p>If the Hawks can control the puck and play every minute like it is their last, we will see a game six at the United Center on Wednesday. If not? It will be the last game until next fall and it will be a long summer of &quot;what ifs?&quot;</p><p><strong>Cubs-Sox: will the fans care?</strong></p><p>Not a lot of luster tonight for the start of a four-game series between the Sox and the Cubs. Neither team is lighting the baseball world on fire. The Sox have finally reached .500 after sweeping the lowly Miami Marlins yesterday. The last place Cubs snapped a six game losing streak beating the Reds in Cincinnati yesterday.</p><p>But there are still bragging rights for the victor. In a new format, the White Sox host the first two games and the Cubs will welcome the Sox the final two contests. Before yesterday&rsquo;s game Marlin outfielder Juan Pierre talked about playing on both sides of town and thought it was very special. Pierre said, &ldquo;It won&rsquo;t be the same without AJ (Pierzynski).&rdquo; How true that is.</p><p>Who could forget Cub catcher Michael Barrett punching AJ? There is no Ozzie Guillen to point out how bad the amenities are at Wrigley Field. When we asked Sox manager Robin Ventura about Wrigley, he likes the place (no drama there).&nbsp; The Cubs had their fair share of incidents, remember Lou Pinella getting into a shouting match with Carlos Zambrano and then sending him home?</p><p>Although there have been more empty seats the past few years, it&#39;s still fun for the fans to show their colors: Cubbie blue or Sox silver and black.</p><p>Follow Cheryl on Twitter @CRayeStout&lt;<a href="https://twitter.com/Crayestout">https://twitter.com/Crayestout</a>&gt; and Facebook Cheryl Raye Stout #AtTheGame <a href="http://www.facebook.com/CherylAtTheGame">http://www.facebook.com/CherylAtTheGame</a></p></p> Mon, 27 May 2013 06:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-05/blackhawks-and-cub-sox-games-tonight-chicago-fans-107372 Chicago Cubs, White Sox players return http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-05/chicago-cubs-white-sox-players-return-107298 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rsz_matt_garza%20gene%20j%20Puskar.jpg" style="float: right; height: 450px; width: 300px;" title="After missing months, Matt Garza is back for the Cubs. (AP)" />Welcome mats are out for some Chicago baseball players returning to action and a former player and coach returning for a visit.</p><h2><strong>Cubs pitcher Matt Garza</strong></h2><p>It has been a long road back for Cubs pitcher Matt Garza after another injury. It may have been only five innings, but it was a great comeback Tuesday night, despite the Cubs losing 5-4 to the Pirates. Garza only gave up one hit in five innings pitched and no runs. Manager Dale Sveum had his right-hander on a pitch/inning count. The Cubs pitcher also contributed with a two-run scoring double. Too bad the bullpen couldn&rsquo;t hold onto the 3-0 lead given to them. &nbsp;</p><p>Last season Garza had an elbow injury that sidelined him from July through the remainder of the season. Going into spring training, Garza last just days when he suffered a left lat (side) strain. To make room for Garza, pitcher Carlos Villanueva was moved to the bullpen for long relief and Michael Bowden was designated for re-assignment.</p><p>What is the real prospect for Garza wearing a Cubs uniform? If he can stay healthy (that is a big if) and perform, he may be on the trading block. Last year, MLB scouts were lined up preparing reports for their prospective teams to acquire him in a deal until Garza&nbsp;suffered the elbow injury. This year teams will be wary about his status. You can bet Cubs management fingers are&nbsp;crossed. Garza will give them quality starts to make a deal or the team may hang on to him for another season.</p><h2><strong>Sox starters John Danks and Gordon Beckham</strong></h2><p>Sox lefty John Danks has had a long recovery from his shoulder injury last year. Danks is hoping he can be on the mound for the White Sox as soon as Friday against the Marlins. The team needs him. With Gavin Floyd lost for this year and possibly longer, the Sox need more depth in their rotation. The likely candidate to go into the bullpen would be Hector Santiago. The other player the Sox may have back is second baseman Gordon Beckham. He suffered a broken wrist on April 11. He should be back any day after rehabbing in the minors. Beckham&rsquo;s defense has been sorely missed this season.</p><h2><strong>Former Chicago stars</strong></h2><p>If there is a former Cub who has left his heart in Chicago, it&#39;s Ryan Dempster. He warmly greeted the Chicago media as he sat wearing his Boston Red Sox uniform. Dempster was happy to&nbsp;pick up his son from school in Chicago and brought the youngster to US Cellular field. Out in right field, Dempster and his son Brady played catch during the pre-game work outs. Dempster also instigated his son to carry out a prank. After eating a banana, he had the 7-year-old throw the peel on the dugout floor to see if someone would slip on it. Trust me. It was funny.</p><p>Dempster has a new pitching coach that has strong ties to the White Sox: Juan Nieves. The first-year Boston coach spent the previous 14 years with Chicago and the last five as the team&rsquo;s bullpen coach. Nieves was instrumental working with the numerous rookies in the pen last year for Sox manager Robin Ventura. He worked with Sox pitching coach Don Cooper and was known for his astute use of video and computers for game preparations. &nbsp;Now Nieves handles one of the better pitching staffs in baseball that has lofty expectations for another championship ring. That is also one of the reasons Dempster signed with the Red Sox.&nbsp;</p><p><em>Follow Cheryl on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/Crayestout" target="_blank">@CRayeStout</a>&nbsp;and Facebook <a href="http://www.facebook.com/CherylAtTheGame" target="_blank">Cheryl Raye Stout #AtTheGame&nbsp;</a></em></p></p> Tue, 21 May 2013 21:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-05/chicago-cubs-white-sox-players-return-107298 City, Cubs push $500 million Wrigley renovation http://www.wbez.org/news/city-cubs-push-500-million-wrigley-renovation-106643 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Flickr_DaveNewman.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The Chicago Cubs and the city have agreed on details of a $500 million facelift for Wrigley Field, including an electronic video screen that is nearly three times as large as the one currently atop the centerfield bleachers of the 99-year-old ballpark.</p><p>Under terms of the agreement, the Cubs would also be able to increase the number of night games at Wrigley Field from 30 to 40 &mdash; or nearly half the games played there each season. They would give Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts the ability to renovate the second-oldest park in the major leagues, boost business and perhaps make baseball&#39;s most infamous losers competitive again.</p><p>Mayor Rahm Emanuel hailed what the two sides called a &quot;framework&quot; agreement in a joint statement issued Sunday night, noting that it includes no taxpayer funding. That had been one of the original requests of the Ricketts family in a long-running renovation dispute that at times involved everything from cranky ballpark neighbors to ward politics and even the re-election campaign of President Barack Obama.</p><p>&quot;This framework allows the Cubs to restore the Friendly Confines (of Wrigley) and pursue their economic goals, while respecting the rights and quality of life of its neighbors,&quot; Emanuel said.</p><p>Still uncertain was how the agreement will sit with owners of nearby buildings who provide rooftop views of the ball games under an agreement with the Cubs that goes back years. They have threatened to sue if the renovations obstruct their view, which they claim would drive them out of business.</p><p>On Monday, a spokesman for the rooftop owners said the group would have a statement later, but in the meantime referred the AP to the group&#39;s statement released earlier this month that says: &quot;Any construction that interrupts the rooftop views will effectually drive them out of business and be challenged in a court of law.&quot;</p><p>The Cubs said the video screen they are proposing to build is 6,000 square feet, and would be built with &quot;minimal impact on rooftops with whom (the) Cubs have an agreement.&quot; The current centerfield scoreboard is slightly more than 2,000 square feet; the Cubs also have plans to add a left-field sign of 1,000 square feet.</p><p>&quot;Rooftop views are largely preserved,&quot; the team said in its announcement. &quot;The Cubs have agreed to install only two signs in the outfield &mdash; a videoboard in left field and a sign in right field. This is far less than our original desire for seven signs to help offset the cost of ballpark restoration.&quot;</p><p>The signs offer the team a chance to reach new advertising deals and pay for the overhaul, even if it might change the character of the historic park. The city and club said they hope the agreement would allow the Cubs to obtain necessary city approvals for the work by the end of the current season.</p><p>The Ricketts family, which bought the Cubs in 2009 for $845 million, initially sought tax funding for renovation plans. With that out in the new agreement, the owners will seek to open new revenue streams outside the stadium. Under the agreement, the Ricketts family would be allowed to build a 175-room hotel, a plaza, and an office building with retail space and a health club, and provide 1,000 &quot;remote&quot; parking spots that will be free and come with shuttle service.</p><p>&quot;We are anxious to work with our community as we seek the approvals required to move the project forward,&quot; Ricketts said in the statement.</p><p>The site of Babe Ruth&#39;s &quot;called shot&quot; home run in the 1932 World Series and more heartbreak than Cubs fans would like to remember, Wrigley Field is younger only than Boston&#39;s Fenway Park in the majors. It has long been a treasured showplace for baseball purists &mdash; night games were only added in 1988 &mdash; but team officials for years have desperately wanted a true upgrade, saying it costs as much as $15 million a year just to keep up with basic repairs.</p><p>The ballpark has also played no small part in the lore of the team, as fans were reminded April 10 when someone delivered a goat&#39;s head in a box addressed to Ricketts. Neither the team nor the Chicago Police Department have talked about a possible motive for the strange delivery, but as every fan knows it was in the 1945 World Series when a tavern owner arrived at the park with his pet goat &mdash; which had a ticket.</p><p>According to legend, the owner was told the goat smelled and was denied entry. The angry tavern owner then put the &quot;Curse of the Billy Goat&quot; on the Cubs &mdash; and the team has not been back to the World Series since. The last World Series championship for the Cubs came in 1908 &mdash; six years before Wrigley was built.</p><p>After failing to reach an agreement when Mayor Richard Daley was in office, the Ricketts family kept talking after Emanuel took office in 2011. But even presidential politics presented an obstacle for the plans at one point.</p><p>During the 2012 election, the patriarch of the Ricketts family, which created the TD Ameritrade brokerage firm, was considering a $10 million campaign against Obama that would refer to the racially incendiary sermons delivered by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright at a Chicago church the president once attended. J. Joseph Ricketts dropped the proposal, but the episode brought a huge dose of unwanted bad press and angered Emanuel, Obama&#39;s former White House chief of staff.</p><p>In recent weeks, fans also had to deal with the unlikely specter of the Cubs leaving Chicago. With the talks bogged down, the mayor of nearby Rosemont piped up, saying the village located near O&#39;Hare International Airport would be willing to let the Cubs have 25 acres free of charge to build a replica of Wrigley Field.</p></p> Mon, 15 Apr 2013 06:09:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/city-cubs-push-500-million-wrigley-renovation-106643 Baseball honors Jackie Robinson http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-04/baseball-honors-jackie-robinson-106641 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rsz_jackie_robinson.jpg" style="height: 332px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="File: Jackie Robinson. (AP)" />Baseball is a game of numbers, but today there is only one that is important: 42. Major League Baseball in 2004 designated April 15&nbsp;as the annual celebration of Jackie Robinson&rsquo;s first appearance as a Brooklyn Dodger.</p><p>Sixteen years ago, Robinson&rsquo;s number was officially retired by the MLB. It&#39;s one of the most distinctive tributes to what he did for baseball and society. Part of the celebration includes all players, coaches and managers wearing the number 42 on their jerseys as all of baseball honors the man who bravely became the first African-American player in MLB.</p><p>Since the Cubs are off today, they will honor Robinson tomorrow night when they host the Texas Rangers. Two Hall of Fame Cubs will be part of pre-game ceremonies: Ernie Banks and Billy Williams. Banks was the first African-American to play for the Northsiders and considered Robinson as a mentor. Williams joined the major leagues shortly after Robinson and Banks.</p><p>Hollywood is also spotlighting Robinson with the recently released movie <em>42: The True Story of an American Legend.</em></p><p>It&#39;s not the first cinematic version of the icon&#39;s story. In 1950, Robinson starred in the biographical film, <em>The Jackie Robinson Story</em>. There have also been three television versions of his story and a Broadway production about his life and legacy. The timing of the recent biography will help younger generations be aware and informed about the difficulties that Robinson, and to some extent Dodger executive Branch Rickey, went through to break the color barrier in baseball. It was a defining moment not just for sports, but a reflection on the racial divide in America.</p><p>Cubs players Dave Sappelt, Scott Hairston and hitting coach James Rowson reflected on Robinson&#39;s legacy.</p><p>This is Sappelt&rsquo;s first time celebrating Robinson in the major leagues. He recalled his grandparents telling him stories about the famed player. However, the Cubs outfielder remarked the sport&#39;s racial struggles lasted decades beyond that 1947 season. Sappelt believes wearing the 42 jersey will show appreciation to Robinson and the others who followed and played the game the right way under tremendous pressure.</p><p>Tomorrow will also be a first for Rowsan. In his first full season as a major league coach, Rowsan says wearing 42 is &ldquo;a great level of honor.&rdquo; Even though the league celebrates Jackie Robinson once a year, Rowsan says he and other African Americans celebrate everyday they step on a baseball field. Growing up in New York, he said he learned the lessons of that era from his father.</p><p>Hairston comes from a long line of baseball players. He and his brother Jerry Jr. followed in their father Jerry and Uncle John&rsquo;s footsteps and they were preceded by Sam Hairston, who played in the Negro Leagues with Robinson. Hairston said Robinson may not have been the best player from the Negro League, but he was the best to withstand the challenges of breaking the color barrier. Hairston said it is &ldquo;mind blowing&rdquo; to think about Robinson being the only black player that first year.</p><p>As a young man, Hairston heard stories from his grandfather about the problems players in the Negro League dealt with on the road. Hotels often turned them away, forcing players to sleep on buses. But Hairston said his grandfather never lost the love for the game. And he says players should never lose that appreciation of what those players went through. With two young sons age 5 and 7, Hairston had murals of Sam Hairston in action painted on their bedroom walls. Tuesday night, Hairston says he will think of his grandfather as he and the rest of baseball honor Jackie Robinson.</p><p><em>Follow Cheryl on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/Crayestout" target="_top">@CRayeStout</a>&nbsp;and Facebook <a href="http://www.facebook.com/CherylAtTheGame" target="_blank">Cheryl Raye Stout #AtTheGame</a>&nbsp;</em></p></p> Mon, 15 Apr 2013 06:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-04/baseball-honors-jackie-robinson-106641 Wrigley Field-Chicago's gem needs some polish http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-04/wrigley-field-chicagos-gem-needs-some-polish-106527 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/rsz_wrigley_nam_y_huh_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>All the chatter surrounding the future of Wrigley Field is almost smothering&nbsp;Opening Day and the ballpark. Let the politicians, the Ricketts family and the neighborhood slug it out and figure the steps of what will happen to this iconic stadium next.</p><p>After this year the face lift will begin in earnest. It is needed and will be welcomed by players, managers and the media. There have been some subtle changes as the park nears its 100<sup>th</sup> year, but it is still a place where the Cubs and the fans celebrate the game of baseball.</p><p>When the Chicago Tribune bought the team thirty years ago from the Wrigley family, they had a huge obstacle to face with their plans for the park. After a long, losing history, the Cubs made the 1984 playoffs, but the lack of lights became a rallying cry by team ownership. Major league baseball penalized the Cubs post season schedule against the San Diego Padres because they couldn&#39;t play night games. After the Illinois legislature finally gave the green light to the team, Wrigley Field finally turned on the lights in August, 1988. The first scheduled lit game was supposed to be August 8, 1988, but Mother Nature had her own idea, and rain postponed the game, so the actual first game under the lights was the next night, August 9th.</p><p>The uniqueness of this old ballpark is what makes it special to baseball fans, not just Cub fans. Boston&rsquo;s Fenway Park is the only baseball stadium that shares similar feelings for its field, structure and surroundings. Having been to both venues, the &ldquo;Friendly Confines&rdquo; gets the nod from me. But only to watch the game, the amenities need to be replaced and upgraded. The very small locker room for both the home team and visitors is one of the toughest to navigate. A bad rain can cascade into the dugouts and into the Cubs locker room. The media room for interview sessions behind the dugout is very cramped. It was priceless when former Cub Lou Pinella stepped into the room for his first press conference there, he couldn&rsquo;t believe it was that small. It was just one of many aspects of the old park he discovered would be an adjustment for him and any manager before and after.</p><p>Do you ever wonder why the managers are perched by the steps in the dugout? Their vision of the field is limited because of the deepness of the dugout.</p><p>The press box and broadcast booths are the smallest in all of the Major Leagues. It is always fun to hear the New York Yankee contingent come to Wrigley Field and complain about the working conditions and their seats. From their broadcasters to the working media, they gripe from the time they get there until the time they leave. Somehow they fault the Cubs staff for the conditions, and they think they can magically fix it.</p><p>These are some of the negative issues about Wrigley and there are more, but let&rsquo;s not dwell on it.</p><p>Here are some of the positives, the big manual scoreboard,&nbsp;the green ivy on the brick wall and the closeness to the field. If you are lucky enough to sit in the first row near the bullpens or near the on-deck circle, you can have conversations with the players and the sometimes the manager. It is Gary Pressey playing the organ and the celebrity-led 7<sup>th</sup> inning stretch (In my opinion, should be retired).</p><p>The bleachers are a special place in the ballpark and probably the most famous, as well as the&nbsp;favorite place for fans. You can rub elbows with regulars that have sat there for decades. Legendary broadcaster Harry Caray would broadcast from there. That area and the people that inhabited those seats were immortalized in the 1977 play, <em>Bleacher Bums. </em>Chicago native actor Joe Mantegna hatched the idea for the play and starred in the original production with another Chicagoan, Dennis Farina. &nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;The Cub teams that have played year in and year out have not had the ultimate success at Wrigley. The last time they played in a World Series was 1945, and they lost, of course, to the Detroit Tigers. The famed 1969 team thrilled the Cub faithful throughout that year, only to fade at the end. Four members of that team made the Hall of Fame - Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, Fergie Jenkins and Ron Santo. There were several other players that enjoyed great careers at Wrigley, most recently, Ryne Sandberg,Andre Dawson and Sammy Sosa come to mind. There hasn&#39;t been much of a post season throughout the last few decades, the 2003 season being the closest the team has come recently. Five outs away and the world stood still as a foul ball changed the complexion of that playoff series. Wrigley Field never felt so down.</p><p>Even after losing 100 games last season, the park is still a place for baseball fans to congregate. My dear friend, Sue, lives in England, and when she makes her way &ldquo;over the pond,&quot; Wrigley Field is a coveted stop no matter how the team in playing.</p><p>Years ago I brought my favorite uncle to a game. I surprised him with a chance to go on the field and have his picture taken by team photographer Steve Green. Wrigley is one of the only places that can make grown people cry. My uncle certainly did that day.</p><p>It&#39;s Opening Day at Wrigley, with the Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers facing off this afternoon. I&#39;ll be there along with thousands of others.</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Sun, 07 Apr 2013 15:22:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-04/wrigley-field-chicagos-gem-needs-some-polish-106527 Chicago White Sox and Cubs start strong, Bulls and Blackhawks wind down http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-04/chicago-white-sox-and-cubs-start-strong-bulls-and-blackhawks-wind <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/rsz_sox_4-3_charles_rex_arbogast.jpg" style="height: 198px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="US Cellular had lots of empty seats for the first 2013 series. (AP)" /><strong>Sox starters shine</strong></div><p dir="ltr">The first week of the season is peppered with mostly day games because of the time of year. The White Sox opening day was a sell-out and the seats were filled despite the frigid temperatures.</p><p dir="ltr">The next two games, both played in the afternoon, had sparse crowds. The Sox won the first two games against Kansas City with solid starting pitching (and the long ball) in that series. Yesterday they dropped the series finale 3-1 to the Royals. Sox starter Gavin Floyd gave up three runs. One was unearned. The offense was pretty much handcuffed by Royals starter Jeremy Guthrie and the bullpen.</p><p dir="ltr">Sox starters Chris Sale, Jake Peavy and Floyd had good outings. Tyler Flowers boasted the game winning solo homer in the opener and another home run in game 2. Sox fans will be following Flowers progress since he replaced AJ Pierzynski. The Sox defense was a bit shoddy the past two games. The weather may get the blame for now. Tonight the Southsiders host the Seattle Mariners, the first of three games at U.S. Cellular Field.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Cubs&rsquo; cold offense</strong></p><p dir="ltr">There were a ton of empty seats in Pittsburgh, where the Cubs had success against the Pirates. They took two out of three, including a 3-2 win in yesterday afternoon&rsquo;s series finale. Cubs lefty Travis Wood had a nice outing for his first start of the year. Wood shut out the Pirates for six innings and gave up just one hit before turning the game over to the bullpen.</p><p dir="ltr">The question was on the back end, as Carlos Marmol almost squandered away a 3-0 lead and was aided by a double play to end the game. Just like the weather, the offense was cold for both teams.</p><p dir="ltr">After a weekend series in Atlanta, the Cubs will have their home opener Monday afternoon against the Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field. The <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/sports/19279481-418/long-awaited-wrigley-field-rehab-deal-expected-by-mondays-opener.html">Chicago Sun Times is reporting</a> a deal has been worked out for the rehabbing of the ballpark with the city, team and neighborhood. According to the report, the agreement will be announced on Monday. Nothing is for certain until the i&rsquo;s are dotted and the t&rsquo;s are crossed.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Bulls beat Nets</strong></p><p dir="ltr">What can you say about the Bulls? They came back to beat the Nets in Brooklyn 92-90? Carlos Boozer put the depleted Bulls team on his back and scored 29 points and grabbed 18 rebounds. It was an incredible effort considering Taj Gibson re-injured his knee and joins the long list of injured players on this Bulls squad.</p><p dir="ltr">Tom Thibodeau&rsquo;s team had to claw and scratch to dig out of a 16 point deficit and held on to beat a team they may meet in the playoffs. After the win, the Bulls climbed up to the fifth spot in the Eastern Conference. The Nets are in the fourth spot. The standings are still fluid with a handful of games left. Tomorrow the Bulls return to the United Center to play the Orlando Magic.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Blackhawks lose to Blues</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Last night at the United Center, the Blackhawks lost in a shoot-out to the St. Louis Blues 4-3. The Hawks did pick up a point and remain on top of the NHL with 58 total points this season.</p><p dir="ltr">The Hawks may be concerned with giving up a leads in the third period. They had a 2-1 advantage going into the final period and the Blues were able to score twice against Corey Crawford. With less than five minutes left, Viktor Stalberg tied up the game for the Hawks with his seventh goal of the season. However, in the shoot-out the Blues outscored the Hawks 4-3.</p><p dir="ltr">There are only a dozen regular season games left on the schedule the Blackhawks. Thoughts of the playoffs are getting closer and at least Marian Hossa returned from his injury and Patrick Sharp is expected back soon. Next up, an away and home series against Nashville this weekend.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Follow Cheryl on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/Crayestout">@CRayeStout</a> and Facebook <a href="http://www.facebook.com/CherylAtTheGame">Cheryl Raye Stout #AtTheGame </a></em></p></p> Fri, 05 Apr 2013 06:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-04/chicago-white-sox-and-cubs-start-strong-bulls-and-blackhawks-wind Baseball's Opening Day is more than a game http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-03/baseballs-opening-day-more-game-106401 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/rsz_us cellular.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Baseball&#39;s Opening Day is a very nostalgic day in sports. Baseball is a sport that you talk about the past almost as much as the present. If you are a White Sox fan, you are excited to see Chris Sale taking the mound this afternoon against the Kansas City Royals at US Cellular. Fans that cheer for the Cubs hope they see a better team on the field as they start on the road in Pittsburgh this year. Many people will take the time today to think about the first time they went to Wrigley Field or Comiskey Park (now US Cellular).&nbsp; Baseball is a sport that embodies memories past and recent; many families make their favorite team a part of their family legacy.&nbsp; &nbsp;</p><p>Maybe it was a father, mother, or a grandparent who instilled the love or probably a passion for the game and a team. People get engaged at baseball games. There is someone I know who will be asked today at the Sox game.&nbsp; Weddings have been performed at baseball stadiums. How many times have you heard about a bachelor party starting at either of Chicago&#39;s ballparks? U.S. Cellular provided the backdrop for the bachelor party for the movie, <em>My Best Friend&rsquo;s Wedding, </em>and&nbsp;Cubs owner Tom Rickets met his wife in the Wrigley Field bleachers. People even scatter the cremated remains of their loved ones on the grass of their beloved ballparks. It isn&rsquo;t an act condoned by teams, but somehow people try, especially when large groups get to march around the park, where Grandma or Grandpa&#39;s ashes may be secretly distributed . &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>Baseball and ballpark experiences have gone through many changes, some have been good and some have you missing the &ldquo;good ole days&rdquo; at Cubs and Sox games.</p><p>A favorite greeting as you walk into the park is from a vendor yelling, &quot;Get your scorecards&quot;&nbsp; it is the only sport that you buy a scorecard (and a pencil, of course). Sadly, you don&#39;t see as many people in the stands scoring at a ball game anymore. It is still done in the press box and the broadcast booth. Now you can go on the internet and have up-to-date scoring information. Years ago, score cards were your proof that you were at a game and if something special happened, such as a no-hitter or 20 K&#39;s by Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood, that card would be a treasured keepsake. I know several people who love the game so much they score games from home. Once I was preparing to broadcast a Sunday night sports talk show, and I scored a Sox-Baltimore game where Sox lefty Wilson Alvarez threw a no-hitter. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>Baseball is one of the best radio sports that fill the airwaves, it is a sport that can be beautifully depicted by some of the best broadcasters. We know the names; Vince Scully, Ernie Harwell, Vince Lloyd, Bob Elson, John Rooney and Pat Hughes just to name a few. There is nothing better than taking a long drive with a baseball game playing on your car radio. In the past, transistor radios were the instrument of choice to listen to a ballgame, even while sitting in the stands. Now televisions are perched throughout ballparks, and people standing in a concession line can still see the action.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>There are no longer scheduled double-headers, Fourth of July, Memorial Day and Labor Day were assured a double-dip of baseball. Who could forget Ernie Banks&#39; famous line, &quot;Let&#39;s play two.&quot; They still can happen because of a rain-out, but parks are now cleared after the first, so a paying crowd enters for the second.</p><p>Players salaries used to be unknown, most players had to work in the off-season since they were not making the millions they are in today&#39;s game. Now a player&#39;s salary gets as much attention as his stats.</p><p>Baseball may not be the same as it was ten, twenty or thirty years ago, but it is still a game of hitting, pitching and defense. For the sake of argument, let&rsquo;s hope the steroid-era has passed. There is no doubt that modern medicine, with job saving procedures and fitness programs have allowed players to play baseball more fit and recover from injuries better.</p><p>Today is one of the best days in sports, in my opinion. It begins when the umpire says, &ldquo;Play ball.&rdquo;</p><p>Follow Cheryl on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/Crayestout">@CRayeStout</a> and Facebook <a href="http://www.facebook.com/CherylAtTheGame">Cheryl Raye Stout #AtTheGame</a></p></p> Mon, 01 Apr 2013 06:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-03/baseballs-opening-day-more-game-106401 What does 2013 look like for the Cubs and White Sox? http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-03/what-does-2013-look-cubs-and-white-sox-106386 <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/rsz_spring_training_gene_j_puskar.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Spring training is just about over. (AP/File)" /></div><p>Both the White Sox and the Cubs have left Arizona and played their final spring training games. Opening Day is Monday with all its splendor and hopes that the day brings for baseball fans. Here are some news and notes about the impending 2013 season.</p><h2><strong>New Faces for the Cubs</strong></h2><p>The one major free agent signing by the Cubs was often-traded pitcher Edwin Jackson. The 29-year-old right hand starter inked a 4-year, $54 million contract. Jackson had &ldquo;a cup of coffee&rdquo; with the White Sox a few years ago and will pitch plenty of innings for second year manager Dale Sveum.</p><p>Veteran Japanese closer Kyuji Fujikawa will be part of the bullpen. The Cubs signed the 32-year old pitcher for need and to possibly replace Carlos Marmol if he is traded. Of course, if the team tanks this year, Fujikawa may have trade value at the deadline.</p><p>In right field, the Cubs brought in Nate Schierholtz with a one year deal. He played for Philadelphia and San Francisco.</p><p>The Cubs also signed a few veterans to the pitching staff: Scott Baker (former Twin), Carlos Villanueva (former Blue Jay/Brewer) and Scott Feldman (former Ranger). Baker&rsquo;s surgically repaired elbow flared up in his first spring training appearance. The Cubs are expected to shut him down for at least a month. Feldman was a reliever that converted to a starter six years ago.</p><p>Trying to stabilize the young starting catcher Welington Castillo, the Cubs brought in eight-year veteran Dioner Navarro.</p><h2><strong>Cubs departures</strong></h2><p>It was sayonara to Bryan LaHair. Last year he was an All-Star player who lost his starting job to Anthony Rizzo. He is now in Japan.&nbsp;The team also parted ways with third base coach Pat Listach.</p><h2><strong>Front and center for the Cubs</strong></h2><ul><li>Wrigley Field issues will loom over this team until an agreement is made between the team, neighborhood and the city.</li><li>On the field, the Cubs will try to avoid a hundred losses and continue the path to success with young players in the Cubs&#39; minor leagues.&nbsp; Darwin Barney&rsquo;s play at second earned him a Gold Glove in 2012; shortstop Starlin Castro hopes to improve on his defense too.</li><li>The Cubs front office signed many stop gap players to try to have a competitive team.</li><li>Despite what his critics think, Alfonso Soriano has proven to be a leader and did produce very solid numbers at the plate.</li><li>The star in the making is first baseman Anthony Rizzo. He has all the tools.</li><li>Pitcher Matt Garza strained his left side but&nbsp;is expected to improve soon. Garza could be an important to help the club on the mound or a deal.&nbsp;</li><li>Opening Day starter Jeff Samardzija needs to remain consistent.</li><li>Unfortunately for the Cubs this year, Houston is now in the American League. The NL Central cellar may be where the Cubs may finish.</li></ul><h2>New Faces for the White Sox</h2><p>The biggest change came in the front office. Rick Hahn is now the team&rsquo;s general manager as Ken Williams moves up the ladder. Hahn didn&rsquo;t make any wholesale moves. He did re-sign Jake Peavy to an extension.&nbsp; To fill a hole left by the departure of Kevin Youkilis (we barely got to know you), Hahn signed former Tampa Bay third baseman Jeff Keppinger to a three-year deal. He is a career .288 hitter. Keppinger makes contact and does not strike out. He is just getting back into action after injuring his shoulder during training camp.</p><p>Just before spring training, the Sox acquired 25-year-old third baseman Conor Gillespie from San Francisco. He has been fighting all spring to make the roster.</p><p>One more new face with the Southsiders is actually a familiar face: Bobby Thigpen. The former White Sox closer has been working with the minor league teams. He will now handle the bullpen duties after Juan Nieves departed to become the Red Sox pitching coach.</p><h2><strong>White Sox departures</strong></h2><p>Catcher and most hated player in baseball, AJ Pierzynski is now a Texas Ranger. Phillip Humber (remember he had a perfect game) pitches for Houston and third baseman Kevin Youkilis signed with the New York Yankees (not a big loss since he really didn&rsquo;t want to be here).</p><h2><strong>Front and center for the White Sox</strong></h2><ul><li>Last year under rookie manager Robin Ventura the team flourished and was competitive all year. The club ran out of gas, they had many young inexperience players that were tired at season&rsquo;s end. Also a so-so bench hurt them.</li><li>Alejandro DeAza developed into a nice lead-off hitter and played well in center field.</li><li>The young guns in the bullpen were a real strength: Nate Jones, Hector Santiago and Addison Reed. They learned quickly in the majors. With Matt Thorton, Matt Lindstrom and Jesse Crain (he is dealing with right adductor strain) the bullpen can be one of the best.</li><li>John Danks will begin the season on the DL as he continues to recover from his shoulder surgery.</li><li>Dylan Axelrod will be given an opportunity in the rotation.</li></ul><p>If Jake Peavy, pitching phenom Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, Gavin Floyd (and eventually Danks) stay healthy and produce, the Sox have a chance in the competitive AL Central. The bats of Adam Dunn, Paul Konerko and Alex Rios must anchor the offense. AJ&rsquo;s replacement Tyler Flowers is a better receiver behind the plate, it is yet to be determined if he can produce at the plate.</p><p>The White Sox may be bridesmaids to the Detroit Tigers again, but they should be a factor.</p><p>Follow Cheryl on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/Crayestout" target="_blank">@CRayeStout</a>&nbsp;and Facebook <a href="http://www.facebook.com/CherylAtTheGame" target="_blank">Cheryl Raye Stout #AtTheGame</a></p></p> Fri, 29 Mar 2013 06:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-03/what-does-2013-look-cubs-and-white-sox-106386