WBEZ | White Sox http://www.wbez.org/tags/white-sox Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en The origins of Chicago's sports mascots http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/origins-chicagos-sports-mascots-108693 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F111260692" width="100%"></iframe></p><div class="image-insert-image ">Craig Scanlon from Chicago&#39;s Ravenswood neighborhood noticed something odd about a couple of the city&#39;s sports teams. One: The Bears and the Cubs are awfully similar mascots. Two: Are there even any bears in Chicago? Seeking some clarity, he asked Curious City this question:</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div style="text-align: center;"><em>What are the origins of Chicago&rsquo;s professional sports mascots?</em></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In the true spirit of sportsmanship, we asked a team of WBEZ producers to take on Craig&#39;s question. And we start with Benny the Bull.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><strong>Bulls</strong>&nbsp;<strong>mascot - Benny the Bull</strong></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Benny%20the%20Bull%20original1.jpg" title="Benny the Bull (AP/File)" /></div></div><div class="image-insert-image "><br />Despite becoming one of the league&rsquo;s most successful franchises, the Chicago Bulls took some time&mdash;and some sweet talk&mdash;to get running.<br /><br />The Bulls were the fourth attempt to establish an NBA team in Chicago. First there was the Stags&hellip;then, if you can believe it, the Chicago Packers and lastly, and ever-so-briefly, the Chicago Zephyrs. According to Bulls lore (and The Chicago Bulls Encyclopedia), the club&rsquo;s first owner, Richard Klein, wanted the team&rsquo;s name to reflect strength and power and the city&rsquo;s reputation as Hog Butcher for the World.<br /><br />&ldquo;At first,&rdquo; Klein explained at the time, &ldquo;I was thinking of names like Matadors or Toreadors, but if you think about it, no team with as many as three syllables in its nickname has ever had much success except for the Canadians. I was sitting around the house, kicking these names around with my wife and three sons, when my little son Mark said, &lsquo;Dad, that&rsquo;s a bunch of bull!&rsquo; I said, &lsquo;That&rsquo;s it! We&rsquo;ll call them the Bulls!&rsquo; And that&rsquo;s how the team got its nickname.&rdquo;<br /><br />The team&rsquo;s mascot required more hot air than that. After the few other failed attempts to bring pro basketball to Chicago, the city&rsquo;s sports fans&mdash;and writers&mdash;weren&rsquo;t interested. So the Bulls brought on a former big-time fight announcer to be the team&rsquo;s public relations man. Ben Bentley, affectionately known to the boxing world and beyond as &ldquo;Benny,&rdquo; said he used to struggle to give tickets away in the early days; he used to turn up daily at Chicago&rsquo;s four newspapers to talk up the team and hand out tickets. His thought was, if he got them in the seats, he&rsquo;d make sure they had a reason to come back for more. One time, he wrestled a bear at half time to get people talking!<br /><br />And so, the team&rsquo;s original hype man lives on in its luv-a-bull mascot, Benny the Bull.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><em>-Katie O&#39;Brien</em></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><strong>Blackhawks</strong>&nbsp;<strong>mascot - Tommy Hawk</strong><br />&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Tommyhawk1.jpg" style="height: 300px; width: 450px; float: right;" title="Tommyhawk (AP/File)" />The Blackhawks are named so in honor of a the 19th-century Sauk Indian warrior, Black Hawk. His tribe made their home along Illinois&rsquo;s Rock River. He began his quest to keep that land for his people as a teenager&mdash;and did so well into his 60s. After tribes in the region signed over lands east of the Mississippi River to the federal government, Black Hawk led a rebellion. He and some 1,500 followers&mdash;500 warriors and 1,000 women and children&mdash;on a 15-week campaign which caused panic in the area. Ultimately, Black Hawk was captured and most of his followers were killed. &nbsp; &nbsp;</div></div><div class="image-insert-image "><br />It was his captors that turned him into a mascot of sorts. He was taken to Washington, where he met with President Andrew Jackson. Black Hawk became a media sensation, the symbol of resistance and rebellion, strength and resilience.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<br /><br />When the team&rsquo;s founder, Major Frederic McLaughlin, he drew inspiration from his time serving as an Army commander in WWI. His division called themselves the Black Hawks in honor of the warrior.<br /><br />Beth Carvey, directs the museum at Black Hawk State Historic Site in Rock Island. She said Black Hawk believed in fighting for his people and doing what was right by his people, even if it was a lost cause.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">The Blackhawks introduced Tommy Hawk, a hawk clad in a Blackhawk&#39;s jersey and pants and sporting the four feathers of the logo on his head, in the 2001-2002 season.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><em>-Katie O&#39;Brien</em></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><strong>Bears mascot - Staley</strong></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Bears%20mascot1.jpg" style="height: 311px; width: 210px; float: left;" title="Staley (AP/File)" /></div><p>George Halas, one of the founding fathers of the NFL, didn&rsquo;t first start with the name Bears for his original franchise. The team began playing in 1919 in Decatur, Illinois and was known as the Decatur Staleys since it was a owned by the A.E. Staley food starch company.&nbsp;</p><p>Halas took over the club in 1920 and moved the team to Chicago in 1921. According to the present team chairman, George McCaskey (and Halas grandson), the team had to keep the name Staleys for one year after they moved to Chicago, while they played at Wrigley Field.&nbsp; Halas thought about naming his Chicago team, the Cubs, but thought football players were tougher and decided to anoint them as the Chicago Bears.</p><p>The team in recent years has had a kid-friendly team mascot that is a huge, almost cuddly bear, named Staley. His name was to honor the original team&#39;s name and also the hope that the name may inspire children to seek the history.</p><p><em>-Cheryl Raye-Stout</em></p><p><strong>White Sox mascot - Southpaw</strong></p><p>The Chicago White Sox installed &ldquo;Southpaw&rdquo; as their U.S. Cellular Field mascot in 2002. The green, lizard-like character&rsquo;s name references left-handed pitchers and the ball club&#39;s location on Chicago&rsquo;s South Side. But you have to go back decades to get a taste of some of the mascot controversy that has embroiled the White Sox over the years . Andy the Clown was Andy Rozdilsky dressed in clown makeup, a bowler hat, glasses and a ruffled collared polka-dotted costume. For over 20 year he would run around the park inciting shouts of &ldquo;Gooooo yooooouuuuu White Sox&rdquo; from children and adults alike as the unofficial mascot of the Chicago White Sox. Rozdilsky clowned around Comiskey Park from 1961-1981, until Jerry Reinsdorf&rsquo;s ownership group bought the team.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/South Paw.jpg" style="float: right; height: 405px; width: 300px;" title="South Paw " /></p><p>Reinsdorf hired a design firm to come up with a new mascot for the White Sox in an effort to keep up with the times, and plushy dinosaurs, chickens and other assorted abstract animals were all the rage.</p><p>White Sox management introduced Ribbie and Roobarb, two almost inexplicably strange characters in 1981, but they were instantly unpopular as fans overwhelmingly rebelled against them, hurling insults, mock fighting and spitting on the duo. Fans waged a phone-in campaign to have the White Sox reinstate Andy, who had been banned from the park (while wearing his costume). Eventually the club compromised, saying Rozdilsky could continue to perform in the upper decks only, but fans would go out of their way to sneak Andy into the lower grandstands.</p><p>When the Sox moved to the new Comiskey Park, the White Sox officially retired Andy the Clown, and Rozdilsky retired from clowning (in costume) a few short years before he passed away in 1995.</p><p><em>-Justin Kaufmann</em></p><p><strong>Chicago Cardinals - Pom-Pon Girls, Cardettes and Gary Mann</strong></p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Cardinals &quot;Pom Pon&quot; Girls (Photo Courtesy of Chicago History Museum)" chicago="" class="image-original_image" courtesy="" girls="" history="" of="" photo="" pom="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Cardinals%20Pom%20Pon%20Girls1.jpg" style="float: left; height: 353px; width: 400px;" title="Cardinals &quot;Pom Pon&quot; Girls (Photo Courtesy of Chicago History Museum)" /></div><p>Chicago&rsquo;s pro-football stepchild, the Chicago Cardinals, which became the St. Louis Cardinals, which became the Arizona Cardinals, didn&rsquo;t have an official mascot, according to sources with the team as well as at the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Chicago History Museum, but in the 1940s &amp; 50s they had the &quot;Pom-Pon Girls,&rdquo; the team&rsquo;s &quot;official vocalist, Gary Mann&quot; who sang the National Anthem, and the Cardettes, a &quot; 30-girl twirling and precision group.&quot;</p><p>The Cardinals played in Chicago until 1960, when for the sake of its financial survival, the team moved to St. Louis.<br /><br />The team&rsquo;s origins go back to 1898 when owner Chris O&#39;Brien formed the Morgan Athletic Club. Some years later, he bought used jerseys from the University of Chicago. Because the jerseys were old and used, they lacked the University&rsquo;s deep maroon color and were a strange faded red. O&rsquo;Brien decided the jerseys were &ldquo;Cardinal Red&rdquo;. The new &ldquo;Cardinals&rdquo; started playing their games on Chicago&rsquo;s South Side at 61st and Racine. They were known then as the &ldquo;Racine Street Cardinals&rdquo;.<br /><br /><em>Special thanks to Jon Kendle of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Lesley Martin of the Chicago History Museum and Allison LeClair of the NFL&#39;s Arizona Cardinals.</em></p><p><em>-Steve Bynum</em></p><p><strong>Chicago Cubs - No Mascot</strong></p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/cubs%20logo.jpg" title="(Logan Jaffe)" /></div><p>The Chicago Cubs are one of four teams (Angels, Cubs, Yankees and Dodgers) with no official mascot. However, with the new 5-year, $300 million expansion plan for Wrigley Field, the club has reportedly partnered with Northwestern University to conduct a poll about what kid-friendly experiences to add to the ballpark. Among those items discussed, an official mascot, according to the <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-03-09/sports/ct-spt-0310-cubs-spring-training-chicago--20130310_1_new-mascots-sox-fans-tommy-hawk">Chicago Tribune</a>.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Chicago Fire - Sparky</strong></p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Sparky1.jpg" title="Sparky (AP/File)" /></div><p>The official mascot for the Chicago Fire is Sparky, who resembles an upright Dalmatian. The mascot generally wears a Fire jersey, but it can often be seen entering Toyota Park in fireman attire. The Chicago Fire made Sparky the official mascot in 1998.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Chicago Sky - Sky Guy</strong></p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Sky%20Guy1.jpg" title="(Courtesy of WBEZ's Jennifer Brandel)" /></div><p>Sky Guy is a yellow and blue-suited sky diver with a jet pack. Sky Guy has been the official mascot since the Chicago Sky became an offiicial WNBA team in 2006.</p><p><em>-Tim Akimoff</em></p></p> Tue, 17 Sep 2013 09:55:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/origins-chicagos-sports-mascots-108693 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 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 South Red Line closures just around the corner http://www.wbez.org/news/south-red-line-closures-just-around-corner-107214 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/2721141923_d30f49ae31_b.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The South branch of the Red Line closes Sunday for five months while it undergoes renovation. Chicago Transit Authority officials say nine stops, also known as the Dan Ryan branch, are in desperate need of repair. The CTA will provide a few backup solutions for the more than 80,000 people who ride each weekday. Other groups like PACE, Metra - even the White Sox franchise - are also lending a hand.</p><p dir="ltr">Starting Sunday, service will be shut down between 95th/Dan Ryan and Cermak-Chinatown. According to CTA spokesman Brian Steele, construction crews will rip everything up -- like ties, rails and ballasts - and rebuild the tracks and all but one of the train stations. Steele says the 95th/Dan Ryan stop is scheduled to receive a separate facelift beginning in the first half of 2014.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Remember that the Red Line South opened in September of 1969, just two months after Neil Armstrong first walked on the moon,&rdquo; Steele said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s seen, literally, millions of train trips in that time, and has really served the CTA well.</p><p dir="ltr">Steele says the Red Line has been patched and fixed over the years, but it&rsquo;s to the point where the only way to ensure effective operation of the line is to completely rebuild it.</p><p dir="ltr">That&rsquo;s going to take some time - five months, to be exact. Steele says they looked at other options, like closing down only on the weekends, for example, but he says the five-month plan was the most efficient and cost-effective way to complete the project. Steele says once completed, the trackwork will provide faster and more reliable service.</p><p dir="ltr">To ease riders&rsquo; headaches, the CTA will provide a number of backup options. The CTA website has been upgraded with a <a href="http://www.transitchicago.com/news_initiatives/projects/redsouth/tripplanner.aspx">trip planner</a> that calculates rerouted directions for commuters. CTA is also offering express buses from four of the closed Red Line stations (95th/Dan Ryan, 87th, 79th and 69th) that will go directly to the Green Line Garfield station. Steele said Green Line service and local bus routes will also provide additional service during peak times.</p><p dir="ltr">For riders who think Metra or Pace might be the best option, the three transit agencies are offering a joint fare pass. Riders can buy the cards at stores like CVS or Walgreens. They provide five days of unlimited rides on CTA/Pace and 10 rides on the Metra. The cost of the pass depends on which Metra zone the rider travels to and from.</p><p dir="ltr">According to Metra spokesman Michael Gillis, the agency isn&rsquo;t expecting an influx of riders during the Red Line closures, but says there will certainly be a &ldquo;settling-in period&rdquo; as riders figure out which new route works best.</p><p dir="ltr">Even the <a href="http://mlb.mlb.com/cws/ticketing/groups/gsg/gsg.jsp?loc=soxcta">White Sox</a> are chipping in to help potentially disgruntled commuters, as the Sox/35th stop is one of the stops getting a makeover. The team is offering fans discounts on some tickets to the May 20th, 21st and 22nd games against the Boston Red Sox.</p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian is WBEZ&rsquo;s Morning Producer/Reporter. Follow her<a href="http://twitter.com/triciabobeda"> </a><a href="http://www.twitter.com/laurenchooljian">@laurenchooljian</a></em></p></p> Thu, 16 May 2013 15:04:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/south-red-line-closures-just-around-corner-107214 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 Minnie Minoso’s first game http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/minnie-minoso%E2%80%99s-first-game-106394 <p><p>Baseball returns to the Windy City this week, even if spring weather has been slow in coming. Monday the White Sox take on the Kansas City Royals at the Cell. The Cubs open April 8 against the Milwaukee Brewers.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Minnie%20Minoso%201955%20AP.jpg" style="height: 474px; width: 300px; float: left;" title="Minnie Minoso rounds the bases at Comiskey Park in 1955. Minoso was the first black man to play for the White Sox. (AP)" />In honor of the occasion, let&rsquo;s revisit another important day of firsts in Chicago baseball.</p><p>The date was May 1, 1951, and on that day 26-year-old Cuban third baseman Orestes Arrieta made his Major League Baseball debut at Comiskey Park.&nbsp; You may know him better, of course, by his American nickname: Minnie Minoso. And when Minoso stepped up to the plate that day he was doing more than playing ball: He was also breaking the color barrier. Minoso was the first black man to play for the White Sox.</p><p>In 2006, Minoso sat down with former WBEZ host Steve Edwards to reminisce about his career. He offered this account of that fateful day. You can listen in the audio above, or check out the transcript below:</p><blockquote><p><em>For me, [my favorite on-field moment] was May 1, 1951.</em></p><p><em>I lived in 6409 [S.] Maryland [Avenue]. We went [to the game] by streetcar. I didn&rsquo;t have a car; I had no money for a car.</em></p><p><em>When I stepped at the plate, [White Sox first baseman] Eddie Robinson called me up. I hit third, he hit fourth.</em></p><p><em>He said, &ldquo;Eh, Minoso, do you know this guy?&rdquo; It was [pitcher] Vic Raschi, number 17&nbsp;</em><em>&ndash;</em><em>&nbsp;rest in peace, he died &ndash; for the New York Yankees.</em></p><p><em>I said, &ldquo;No, I don&rsquo;t know [him]. I&rsquo;ve never faced [him].&rdquo;</em></p><p><em>[Robinson] said, &ldquo;Good fastball, good curveball, and pretty good slider. And he&rsquo;s fast.&rdquo;</em></p><p><em>But you know, I&rsquo;m a funny guy. I look around. I don&rsquo;t know [Yankees catcher] Yogi [Berra]. And I said, &ldquo;This ugly man -- can he see?&rdquo; [Editor&rsquo;s note: Among Berra&rsquo;s many famous quotes is <a href="http://quoteinvestigator.com/2012/11/21/never-with-face/">this gem</a>: &ldquo;So I&rsquo;m ugly. So what? I never saw anyone hit with his face.&rdquo;]</em></p><p><em>And now Yogi gets up. &ldquo;Hey, Minoso! You don&rsquo;t know me. Why you call me ugly? My wife, she says I&rsquo;m nice looking.&rdquo;</em></p><p><em>I said, &ldquo;Well, you&rsquo;re lucky you&rsquo;re married. I&rsquo;m not married. My grandmother used to say I&rsquo;m a good Indian guy, nice looking, but she died. And now nobody calls me nice looking anymore.&rdquo;</em></p><p><em>So anyway, the umpire said, &ldquo;You two get out of here.&rdquo;</em></p><p><em>I said OK. I step on the plate. I say, &quot;Eddie! I&rsquo;m going to swing three, no matter what happens. If I miss it, then next time. If I make contact, I have a chance.&rdquo;</em></p><p><em>I get up there, the way I used to hit it.</em></p><p><em>&ldquo;Ladies and gentlemen, the first pitch!&rdquo; [says the announcer over the loudspeaker.]</em></p><p><em>I get prepared. I&rsquo;m swinging! And I run like a deer to first base. And the umpire says like that [makes a gesture] but I don&rsquo;t know whether [Yankees outfielder] Mickey Mantle had caught it.</em></p><p><em>And what I said I don&rsquo;t want to repeat. I said, &ldquo;Did this son-of-a-gun catch it?&rdquo; [The umpire] said, &ldquo;No, it&rsquo;s a home run!&rdquo;</em></p><p><em>I slow down. I&rsquo;m passing second base. I come home. The people shake my hand.&nbsp;</em></p><p><em>That was a great day &ndash; and a beginning. Because I was the first black player in the city and the first one for the Sox. The first one! And the first pitch! I hit it in the bullpen &ndash; 439 feet.</em></p><p><em>I never dreamed it. I used to weigh 176 lbs.</em></p><p><em>I have this ball. This guy caught it, and I still have this ball at my house.</em></p></blockquote><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range"><em>Dynamic Range </em></a>showcases hidden gems unearthed from <a href="https://soundcloud.com/chicago-amplified/a-conversation-with-u-s"><em>Chicago Amplified&rsquo;s</em></a> vast archive of public events and appears on weekends. Minnie Minoso spoke at an event presented by the Chicago History Museum in October of 2006. Click <a href="http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/chicago-treasures-ernie-banks-minnie-minoso">here</a> to hear the event in its entirety.</p><p><em>Robin Amer is a producer on WBEZ&rsquo;s digital team. Follow her on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/rsamer">@rsamer</a>.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Sat, 30 Mar 2013 08:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/minnie-minoso%E2%80%99s-first-game-106394 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 Top 12 Chicago sports stories in 2012 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2012-12/top-12-chicago-sports-stories-2012-104550 <p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rsz_rose_injury.jpg" title="Derrick Rose suffers an ACL injury and remains out. (AP file)" />Most of the top 2012 sports stories in Chicago had no championships and little playoff action involved. Some had no action and plenty of injuries. In fact, plenty of the biggest news events had negative overtones. The order may be different depending on your favorite sport/or team&rsquo;s situation. My look has to do with the impact of the story.</p><p>1.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jo1UlzDeY-o" target="_blank">Rose injury</a>: On April 28, the Bulls were just a minute away from beating the Philadelphia 76ers in game one of the playoffs. Derrick Rose was driving to the basket and tore his ACL.&nbsp; The Bulls lost that playoff round even though they had the best regular season record in the NBA. Rose is still rehabbing and hoping to return in 2013.</p><p>2.&nbsp;<a href="http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20121002&amp;content_id=39371500¬ebook_id=39371788&amp;vkey=notebook_chc&amp;c_id=chc" target="_blank">Cubs lose 101 games</a>: They had not reached the century mark in losses since 1966. Players were traded, the offense was horrible and the fans were scare at season&rsquo;s end. What a way for Dale Sveum to start his managing career and a tough year for new President Theo Epstein. And a roller coaster ride for Bryan LaHair: starting first baseman, then platoon, All-Star selection, benched and finally out righted.</p><p>3.&nbsp;<strong>Bears fire Angelo and hire Emery</strong>:&nbsp; The Bears came off another season without playoffs and fired Jerry Angelo and his spotty draft record to hire Phil Emery. Angelo is credited for trading to get Jay Cutler and signing Julius Peppers; however, his first round draft selections were usually misses. Of course, Emery pulled off a great deal by acquiring receiver Brandon Marshall from Miami. His draft picks still need to be analyzed in the next year or two. The Bears GM was not allowed to fire head coach Lovie Smith. It will be interesting to see what he decides to do this year.</p><p>4.&nbsp;<strong>Bears stumble after starting 7-1</strong>: With one game left, this story can go up or down on the list. If they can get into the playoffs and win a game or two is could be a great comeback from the dead-end story. If they lose out of the post-season they are just---dead. Injuries and poor offense plagued this team and it may cost Lovie Smith his job.</p><p>5.&nbsp;<a href="http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=20809833&amp;topic_id=29312742" target="_blank">Sox Phil Humber perfecto</a>: Perfect games are rare. Humber pitched the gem April 21 against the Mariners in Seattle. It was his first complete game in his career. Humber struggled most of the season, fell out of the rotation and is now with Houston.&nbsp;</p><p>6.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/video/2012/oct/01/europe-ryder-cup-victory-video" target="_blank">Ryder Cup-Medinah Illinois</a>: The eyes of the golf world watched the Ryder Cup in one of the golf course gems&nbsp;of the world. After the USA built a large lead, they suffered one of the biggest sports collapses to the Europeans.</p><p>7.&nbsp;<strong>Blackhawks locked out</strong>: As the year closes out, there is still no hockey for next year either. Blackhawks fans last memories of the Hawks are their ouster from the first round of the playoffs. Again.&nbsp;</p><p>8.&nbsp;<a href="http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=23249381&amp;topic_id=6003532&amp;c_id=mlb" target="_blank">Ronnie in the Hall</a>: This was a bittersweet moment. The Baseball Hall of Fame enshrined the late Ron Santo.&nbsp; His widow Vicki spoke at his induction on July 22. Many were miffed that the honor only came after the Cubs favorite had died.&nbsp;</p><p>9.&nbsp;<a href="http://aol.sportingnews.com/ncaa-football/story/2012-11-24/notre-dame-vs-usc-score-result-bcs-national-championship-brian-kelly-everett-gol" target="_blank">Notre Dame undefeated and #1</a>: It was a magical fall with the Fighting Irish gaining momentum and rising to the top of the college football world. Linebacker Manti T&rsquo;eo returned to play his senior season and had a terrific year, he hopes to cap it off with the national title in Miami on January 7.</p><p>10.&nbsp;<strong>Bears Urlacher bothered by injuries</strong>: The story of Brian Urlacher&rsquo;s knee injury sustained coverage throughout mini camps and training camp. It lingered through the season until he injured his hamstring and was sidelined for the regular season. Now fans are wondering if he will be wearing a Bear uniform in 2013, since he is a free agent.</p><p>11. <a href="http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20121026/BLOGS04/121029846/video-ken-williams-new-sox-gm-hahn-on-new-roles" target="_blank">Sox have a new GM</a>: It wasn&rsquo;t a firing but top White Sox brass moved up the management ladder. Ken Williams handed the reins of the General Manager job to his longtime assistant Rick Hahn. It was not a surprise. Williams will oversee all aspects of the team.</p><p>12. <strong>Concussions and sports</strong>: Blackhawks had major concussion issues with their team captain Jonathan Towes and Marian Hossa. The Bears lost time from Jay Cutler, Devin Hester, Earl Bennett and Shea McClellin due to concussions. The topic of this type of injury has been a major concern for all level of sports.</p><p>Here are honorable mention stories for 2012:</p><ul><li>Brandon Marshall breaks Bears receiving records</li><li>Illinois fires Bruce Weber and hires John Groce</li><li>Luol Deng joins Derrick Rose as a NBA All-Star</li><li>Pitcher Jake Peavy signed a new Sox deal and wins the AL Gold Glove</li><li>Second baseman Darwin Barney earned a Gold Glove</li><li>Robin Ventura had a good first year as White Sox manager-but the team collasped the final weeks</li><li>Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo made an impressive debut</li><li>Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster was dealt to Texas</li><li>Defenders Charles Tillmans and Tim Jennings had great individual games for the Bears</li><li>Finally, Sox slugger Adam Dunn had a comeback year in 2012</li></ul><p>What would you chose for your top 2012 Chicago story?</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>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></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 28 Dec 2012 06:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2012-12/top-12-chicago-sports-stories-2012-104550 One of the most colorful players in Chicago is gone - A.J. Pierzynski http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2012-12/one-most-colorful-players-chicago-gone-aj-pierzynski-104524 <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_aj-barrett.jpg" style="float: left; height: 374px; width: 300px;" title="May 20, 2006 Cubs-Sox game: Cubs catcher Michael Barrett punches Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski. (AP File)" />And then there was one&hellip;</div><p>The 2005 White Sox World Series felt more distant after catcher A.J. Pierzynski agreed to play for the Texas Rangers. Now Paul Konerko is the last player from that World Championship team. It almost feels rather melancholy to think that there will be no more of the colorful and sometimes controversial player behind the plate for the South Siders.</p><p>It seemed every year A.J. was anointed as the most hated player in baseball and he loved it.&nbsp; Pierzynski is the kind of player from the outside who seemed like a pain and a difficult person to have on a team. He was to some extent. But what you learn being around him for eight years is he is one of the smartest players in the game. He gets under other people&#39;s skin because he knows all the nuances of the game better than most &mdash; and he lets you know it.</p><p>After covering him and Hall of Fame catcher Carlton Fisk, you realize that those types of players are special in baseball. They are perfectionists in a game they love more than you know. Without blinking an eye, they can tell you everything and anything about a play, a pitch, a situation and have no problem explaining it.</p><p>Both players are hard-headed, want the game to be played right and would use anything to get an advantage.</p><p>It really galled A.J. when some sports talk show hosts were intimating that he was taking performance enhancing drugs last year since he was putting up big numbers at age 35. He may be difficult, but he is a baseball purist and it just doesn&rsquo;t fit what we know about him.</p><p>&nbsp;Here are some of the things A.J. will be remembered for during his tenure with the Sox:</p><ul><li>Game 2 of the ALCS against the Angels: A.J. claimed first base after a dropped third strike from Josh Paul when the LA catcher rolled the ball to the mound. Although Pierzynski was the focus of the play, he took advantage of an opportunity that any player would. (And then Pablo Ozuna came in as a pinch runner for Pierzynski and scored the game winning run.)</li><li>The famous Cubs-Sox game when A.J. came home from third on a sacrifice fly, knocked catcher Michael Barrett down, slapped home plate and then was punched in the face by Barrett. He loved it and so did the fans on both side of town.</li><li>Pierzynski caught Mark Buerhle&#39;s first no hitter and last year&#39;s perfect game by Phillip Humber.</li><li>He was a vote-in All-Star in 2006 after the White Sox had a campaign to &quot;Punch A.J.&quot;</li><li>It was A.J., Joe Crede and Aaron Rowand that came up with the Journey song &quot;Don&#39;t Stop Believing&quot; as the theme for 2005 &mdash; they heard it in a bar together.</li><li>There are other aspects about his career here of annoying pitchers (his own) and managers/coaches. When Ozzie Guillen managed him he called A.J. a pain. But he was good for the team.</li><li>A.J. helped a Sox pitching staff win a World Series. Don&rsquo;t underestimate how much he did behind the plate to help that team accomplish a feat that had not been seen in decades in Chicago.</li></ul><p>And one last story about the now former Sox catcher:</p><p>Last fall, back-up (and now presumed starting) catcher Tyler Flowers was in a bind. His wife left a message that she was in labor and the White Sox were on the road in Baltimore. It was 11 p.m. after a game and Flowers knew he was too late to catch a flight to get back to Chicago for the birth of his first child. A.J. heard about Tyler&rsquo;s plight and quickly went into action; he got Adam Dunn, Jake Peavy and Paul Konerko to contribute to a private flight. Flowers told me that Pierzynski didn&rsquo;t want Tyler to miss this event. It enabled the younger Sox catcher to be at the hospital for the arrival of his daughter Mia.</p><p>Now it looks like the White Sox will turn the catching duties to Tyler Flowers, if he was observant, he learned a thing or two from Anthony John Pierzynski. It wasn&rsquo;t all bad.</p><p>Follow Cheryl on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/Crayestout" target="_blank">@CRayeStout</a> and Facebook Cheryl Raye Stout <a href="http://www.facebook.com/CherylAtTheGame" target="_blank">#AtTheGame </a></p></p> Wed, 26 Dec 2012 06:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2012-12/one-most-colorful-players-chicago-gone-aj-pierzynski-104524