Friday June 13, 2008
Friday June 13, 2008
Bulls draft dilemma: Beasley vs. Rose By: Eli Kaberon
he Bulls lost a lot this season. They lost 49 of the 82 games they played. They lost two head coaches in the span of four months. And they lost a lot of respect by botching the chance to sign former Phoenix Suns coach Mike D’Antoni. Yet thanks to the NBA Draft Lottery that took place on last Tuesday, the Bulls season immediately became a success. That’s because despite odds longer than Lake Shore Drive traffic in rush hour, the Bulls came away with the number one pick in the 2008 NBA Draft. The chance of that happening, 1.7 percent, is the second lowest of any team to ever win the lottery in the events 23-year history. Yet there was Steve Schanwald, the team’s executive VP of business operations, holding a giant card with the team logo on it, giving thumbs up to the camera and telling the national TV audience the best way to order season tickets. But now comes the vital question for owner Jerry Reinsdorf and GM John Pasxon: Who do the Bulls take? Will it be Kansas State forward Michael Beasley, the scoring and rebounding machine that was a first-team All American last season? Or how about Memphis point guard Derrick Rose, the Windy City native who took his team to the brink of the National Championship? Perhaps a trade, maybe swapping the pick for Denver’s Carmelo Anthony or Dirk Nowitzki from Dallas. The old school thinking is go with Beasley. He’s 6-9, a dominant low post scorer, a beast at getting rebounds, and fills a position of need for the team. Since the trade of Elton Brand at the 2001 draft, the team has been looking for a dominant player in the paint. Eddy Curry was that for a while, but due to laziness and a heart problem, he was traded. Tyrus Thomas was taken fourth in the draft in 2006, but with the exception of put-back dunks and ally-oops, he has no offensive game whatsoever. And there’s Drew Gooden, Joakim Noah and Aaron Gray,
Sporting News/ZUMA Press/Icon SMI
Memphis’ Derrick Rose goes up for a shot against UCLA’s Darren Collisonduring the Final Four semi-finals of the NCAA Tournament on April 5, 2008.
all of whom have impressive parts of their games, but none of them include putting the ball in the basket. Beasley, teamed with perimeter players Ben Gordon and Larry Hughes, would automatically be the inside-
out presence the Bulls have lacked since the triangle offense days of the late ’90s, when Michael Jordan would post up a helpless defender and either shoot that smooth fade away or kick it out to a wide open Steve
Kerr for a three-pointer. Making a trade also has its benefits. After each team was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs this year, both the Nuggets and Mavericks have been the focus of rumors about trades for their All-Star forwards. Anthony will be 24 when the next season begins, yet he already has five years of NBA experience. And teamed with Luol Deng, the Bulls would have a great one-two punch in the frontcourt. Nowitzki is a bit older, he’ll turn 30 this summer, but also has the added of experience of winning. The recipient of the 2007 NBA MVP award, Nowitzki has been to the NBA Finals before, putting his team on his back during the ‘06 playoffs. Each player would be the go-to scorer the Bulls have lacked and wouldn’t need the learning curve that a rookie would. Both of those options, Beasley and a trade, are good. But only one is great. And that would be taking Derrick Rose. The alum of Simeon High School on the city’s south side, the one-year wonder at Memphis, the guy who would have been MVP of the Final Four if he could just make a free throw, Rose is the perfect player for the Bulls. Never mind that the team already has a point guard or the fact that drafting a hometown player causes great pressure (See: Curry, Eddy), selecting Rose is the biggest no-brainer Paxson will ever have as a GM. One peek at his numbers at Memphis should be enough. But then taking into account the current state of the NBA, and he essentially can already write out the card to hand David Stern on June 26. The Memphis Tigers were a good team before Rose arrived on campus. They had been to consecutive Elite Eight’s and had won the Conference USA title two of the previous three seasons. But Rose put them over the top. His quickness and strength was nearly impossible for anybody to defend, proved in the NCAA Tournament, when he scored 27 points versus Michigan State on 10-for-16 shooting and then had 21 points, 9 assists and 6 rebounds in the Elite Eight
Please see KABERON on page 3
CardRunners to step up to table as partner of 2008 World Series of Poker New York — CardRunners, the leading poker educational community, has just been added to the list of nationally recognized brands set as Official Partners of the 2008 World Series of Poker. Acknowledged to be the largest, richest and most prestigious gaming event in the world, the World Series of Poker (WSOP) runs from May 30th-July 14th and features a comprehensive slate of 55 tournaments in every major poker variation. CardRunners, which was started by two finance students at the University of Illinois, joins the ranks of such brands as Milwaukee’s Best Light, Hertz, Planters and Corum. One of the poker industry’s purest success stories, CardRunners has grown since its inception in 2005 into more than 10,000 monthly subscribers and annual revenue in excess of $3 million—all without offering any form of gambling. Appropriately for CardRunners, which is well known for its skill in teaching players ranging from beginners to experts how to improve their game, the WSOP is naming its satellite room for the young company. This CardRunners Satellite Room will function as the place where hopeful players can parlay small buy-ins into large opportunities. For example, fifty players can pay $200 each to compete in a “satellite” tournament with the winner garnering a seat at the $10,000 World Series of Poker Main Event taking place July 3-14 and airing on ESPN. CardRunners founder, Taylor Caby, says he is extremely excited about his company being named an official partner of the World Series of Poker. “Every summer, players from across the globe travel to Las Vegas in hopes of achieving poker greatness,” says Caby, “and CardRunners will be glad to assist them in their quest to become the next WSOP champion. We’re hopeful someone will parlay a small investment in the CardRunners Satellite Room into a WSOP bracelet.” In addition, the partnership means Card-
Runners will have a significant presence at the WSOP including a 15-foot exhibit in the hallway outside the main playing floor for the duration of the tournament and branded signage directly adjacent to the ESPN filming stage. CardRunners will also have its videos looping 24/7 on 42” flat screen monitors and all WSOP participants will be able to pick up a gift card or text “CardRunners” to 32057 for a free 24-hour trial. The partnership comes on the heels of a recent CardRunners announcement providing an unforgettable winning opportunity for one lucky player at the WSOP final table Main Event. With a newly announced four month hiatus before the final nine players take the stage for millions in prize money, CardRunners will select a single player from the finalist to make the most of his/her four months off through highly-targeted one-onone tutoring and instruction, thus gaining a significant edge in the quest to take down the expected multi- million top prize. During this four-month period, CardRunner’s crack instructional team of several dozen top-shelf poker professionals will allow unlimited access into their poker secrets. The selected final tablist will have regular conference calls with top poker pros to discuss tournament strategy, taking advantage of weaker players, and optimal plays to make it to the top. In addition, CardRunners will arrange a four-day intensive workshop for the lucky player this fall in the Bahamas, where he will spend his time away from the beach receiving CardRunners’ patented over-theshoulder poker coaching, daily lessons, and a full professional training program. This announcement came as a response to a rules change in the WSOP that will more closely align the ESPN televised presentation of the tournament with other premier sports broadcasts. The last nine players of the World Continued on page 3
Publisher, lead photographer & Editor in Chief Warren Wimmer Contributing Writers Andrea Beaver Dustin Beutin Bert Beiswanger Jesse Brasher Jerome Cusson Charlie Danoff Creighton Hart Dennis Hobein Eli Kaberon Jon Kerr David Lister Brian Livingston Phil Meyers Anthony Ray Nick Shears D.K Wilson
Contributing Photographers Dennis Wierzbicki Michael DiNovo PUBLISHED BY: The Chicago Sports Review The Chicago Sports Review is published biweekly and can be found at Chicagoland White Hens & 7-Elevens The Chicago Sports Review is not responsible for display advertisement, advertising articles and their contents. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. For questions or comments contact: THE CHICAGO SPORTS REVIEW 13520 St. Mary Circle, Orland Park, IL 60462 708.403.3285 office | 708.774.4464 cell | 708.460.8949 fax To read more great sports articles visit chicagosportsreview.net
Nielsen voted top Lacrosse player
Jim Owens/Icon SMI
Michael Beasley attempts a shot against Xavier’s C.J. Anderson and Derrick Brown [right] in the game between the Xavier Musketeers and the Kansas State Wildcats Dec. 31, 2007.
Hannah Nielsen, a Northwestern University junior, has been voted the 2008 Honda Sports Award winner as the nation’s top collegiate female lacrosse player. The honor was based on the results of national balloting among 1,000 NCAA member schools as part of the Collegiate Women Sports Awards program, now in its 32nd year. Nielsen’s victory will earn her the 2008 Honda Sports Award, given annually to the top women athletes in 12 NCAA-sanctioned sports, along with automatic nomination for the Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year. She was voted over three other nominees, including Dana Dobbie and Kelly Kasper, both from the University of Maryland, and Syracuse University’s Katie Rowan. The candidates were selected by the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA). Last year’s Honda Sports Award winner for Lacrosse was Kristen Kjellman, also from Northwestern University, who also won in 2005 and 2006, making her the only player ever to win the award in three consecutive seasons. “Winning the Honda Sports Award is a great honor for me,” said Nielsen. “What makes it even more special is that I’m a very close friend of Kristen Kjellman, who won this award three years in a row. Kristen and I had a lot of fun playing together and even lived together for a couple of years. Being up there with her, and to be able to continue the Northwestern legacy of winning this award, makes me very proud. I have so many people to thank, including all my teammates and my coach.” A junior midfielder from Adelaide, Aus-
tralia, Nielsen led the Wildcats to their fourth straight NCAA championship this year, netting three goals and three assists in the NCAA championship game, for a total of 12 tournament goals and 10 assists. She is the NCAA record holder (tie) for 69 assists in a single season, and second in the nation with 114 points. A three-time All-American, she has also been chosen as American Lacrosse Conference (ALC) Player of the Year and was an All-ALC team selection as well. In addition to being selected as MVP of this year’s ALC championship, Nielsen won the Tewaaraton Trophy. She has achieved backto-back 100-point seasons and scored at least one point for 44 straight games. She holds the Northwestern school record as all-time assist leader (141) and is fourth in scoring with 246. She is majoring in Human Development and Psychological Services. Previously announced 2008 Honda Sports Award recipients include Texas Tech’s Sally Kipyego for cross-country, the University of North Carolina’s Rachel Dawson for field hockey, Texas A&M University’s Ashlee Pistorius for soccer, Stanford University’s Foluke Akinradewo for volleyball, University of Florida’s Caroline Burckle for swimming & diving, the University of Tennessee’s Candace Parker for basketball and the University of Georgia’s Katie Heenan for Gymnastics. Honda Sports Award winners in golf, softball, tennis, and track & field will be announced in June. The Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year will be determined by separate balloting involving all NCAA-member institutions and the winner will receive the Honda-Broderick Cup at Columbia University’s Low Library on Monday, June 23..
Kaberon: Rose, a better fit Bats from bizarre trade now a for Chicago in many ways part of Ripley’s sports archives Continued from page 2
versus Texas. The Final Four was no different, as Rose averaged 22 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists against UCLA and Kansas. And let’s not forget he won back-to-back state titles while at Simeon, meaning he has played for a championship his last three seasons of competitive basketball. Drafting Rose would mean one of two things. One, the Bulls trade either Gordon, Hughes or Kirk Hinrich, most likely for a post player. Or they would go with a threeguard lineup, teamed with Deng and either Gooden or Noah. Whatever Paxson has to do to make it work, I suggest he do it. Every intangible goes Rose’s way, from background (Beasley went to six high schools in five states in four years) to marketing (Rose wore #23 at Memphis and has a built-in fan base in Chicago). Add to the fact that the NBA these days is dominated by perimeter players and Rose looks to be the league’s next great point guard. As little as ten years ago, the point guard’s job in the NBA was to call out the play, make the proper pass and play good defense. But then guys like Steve Nash, Baron Davis, Tony Parker, Deron Williams, and Chris Paul came along, and everything changed. Now point guards drive in the
lane all day long, crossing over big men like they’re on the playground, and either laying it in or throwing a pass to an open shooter. These guards are their teams leading scorers and MVP candidates, and it’s almost like the passing brilliance of Magic Johnson was combined with the scoring abilities of Dr. J to create this new hybrid point guard. And Rose is on that level, impossible to defend with one guy thanks to shocking end-to-end speed and bruising strength. His shooting still needs work, and maybe a change in his diet would be helpful. (At Memphis, it was reported Rose’s daily lunch included Starbursts and Sour Punch Straws) But if the Bulls pass on him, they will be passing on the league’s next dynamic superstar. The last point guard to be taken #1 overall was Allen Iverson by the 76ers in 1996. He was really the first of these hybrid points and has been a force in the league ever since his first day on the court. Derrick Rose has similar potential, but is bigger and stronger than AI is. Michael Beasley fits what the Bulls need more and a trade would give the team an instant impact. But Rose, the hometown guy, is the perfect player for the modern NBA. His arrival would produce success both immediately and in the long term. It’s a bit of a risk, but just look at the Bulls season: What do they have to lose?
ORLANDO, Fla. - Minor league baseball pitcher John Odom has become part of Ripley’s Believe It or Not! history, thanks to the unusual trade that sent him to Laredo, Texas. The 10 bats that the Laredo Broncos gave the Calgary (Canada) Vipers for Odom in a trade have been acquired by Ripley Entertainment for a future exhibit at a Ripley’s Believe It or Not! museum. Odom may still be battling for the big time, but the bats are sure to get star treatment in the future. Ripley’s acquired the 10 “Prairie Sticks Maple Bats -- double-dipped black in 34inch C243 style,” valued at $650, for $10,000. The Viper’s president Peter Young and Ripley’s VP Archives Edward Meyer worked out the deal, with all the proceeds going to the Viper’s children’s charity, “Snakes and Batters.” “The final step of the trade is now complete,’’ said Ripley’s Meyer. “Mr. Odom is now pitching for Laredo, and we’re in the process of creating an exhibit that will highlight one of professional baseball’s most bizarre trades.” “Originally we were going to put the bats up for sale on Ebay with proceeds going to our children’s charity,” said the Viper’s Young. “But when Ripley’s called, we decided it was a much better fit. Instead of the bats hanging in basements or sports bar around the country they will be properly displayed
for many more fans to see.” The backstory of the trade is nearly as interesting as the trade itself. The Vipers had signed Odom, who hadn’t pitched for 18 months, but the 26-year-old was barred from entering Canada and never made it to the ballpark. It seems he had a police record stemming from a fight when he was 17, and had neglected to disclose that information to immigration officials. Odom, who never played a game for the Vipers, was traded to the Broncos, for something the Vipers needed the most – bats. “They just wanted some bats, good bats, maple bats,” Broncos GM Jose Melendez told reporters. The trade grabbed worldwide headlines within hours of Young registering it with the league. Meyer wasted no time in calling Young. “We knew as soon as we heard the story that those bats belonged in our truth is stranger than fiction collection,’’ Meyer noted. Ripley’s will take possession of the bats on June 14 in Calgary during a special Ripley’s Believe It or Not! night at the ballpark. Ripley’s Meyer will accept the bats and promises more “Ripley-style” fun, prize giveaways and unusual activities during the game. The Saturday, June 14 game is against the Chico (Calif.) Outlaws at 5 p.m. at Foothills Stadium.
Live coverage of event for first time Continued from page 2
Championship of No-Limit Texas Hold’em, known as the Main Event, will compete on November 9-10 instead of the originally scheduled date of July 16. The break, a radical shift, is intended to develop more mainstream interest in poker and include a buildup to the finale complete with in-depth interviews and profiles of the “November Nine” as they
are being dubbed. Traditionally, by the time the tournament airs, everyone knows who’s emerged victorious and the drama is gone; this year, casual poker players worldwide will be captivated by in-depth profiles and human interest stories giving them a vested interest in the outcome of their favorite player and for the first time the question will be “Who Will Win” instead of “Who Won”?
Friday June 13, 2008
Friday June 13, 2008
Analysis: Kenny Williams vs. Ozzie Guillen S
orry Ozzie, but the Wizard of Oz is already taken and your “I never cared to learn English particularly well” accent makes it hard to forget where you come from. That said, I’m on your side in this thing – outside of my possibly insensitive headline. Let’s backtrack a little, so we can start at the beginning. I think that’s usually the best place to begin. Specifically, let’s rewind to when Ozzie said this: Just be ready, because I expect movement Tuesday. I expect Kenny Williams to do something Tuesday. And if we don’t do anything Tuesday, there are going to be a lot of lineup changes. That’s all I’m going to say about the offense. It can be me. It can be [hitting coach] Greg Walker. It can be the players. It could be anybody. I’m sick and tired to watch this thing for a year and a half. I’m not protecting anybody anymore. Fuck it. If they can’t get it done, Kenny should find someone to get it done. That’s it… If we think we are going to win with the offense we have, we are full of shit. I’m just being honest. Now, call me crazy, but I don’t see what all the fuss is about. Outside of the f-bomb that Ozzie dropped what exactly is so wrong with his statements? Sounds like a frustrated manager blowing off some steam after a loss where his team left about 342 men on base. Should we take it more slowly? I see a manager who’s fed up with a bunch of underperforming power hitters – a manager who pledged to play a different kind of baseball when he came here, and who played that kind of ball all the way to a World Series Championship in 2005. And now his team is back to that same, pre-2005 style – wait around for a three-run homer. They can’t make anything happen with small ball, so if the big boppers don’t hit, these White Sox won’t get it done. And how are those big boppers doing, again? Oh, yeah… Jim Thome and Paul Konerko are hitting .212 and .205, respectively, and have combined for 16 homers and 52 RBI; which is only 13 RBI short of Josh Hamilton’s power stats. By the way, Hamilton is just one dude (I know that could be confusing if you don’t follow the AL very closely). And if you’re not convinced that Thome and Konerko combined equal one good power hitter, note that rookie phenom Carlos Quentin is only two homers and four RBI away from outperforming the Thome/Konerko combination. So Ozzie tells us, albeit in an angry tone, that if nobody new is gonna be brought into town, he’s going to shake things up. To wit – screw it. And what’s wrong with this, exactly? Is pointing out that many of the Sox current hitters have now sucked when it matters for a year-and-a-half a big no-no? When a team can’t hit, should a manager pretend everything is hunky dory? I think not. Which brings us to Kenny Williams’ response. Specifically, by email to the Chicago Tribune, this: It’s just not a good idea to throw your boss under the bus, especially when that boss has had your back as much as I have had his. I expect this team, if the leadership remains positive and the players stick together and continue to play hard, it will be a fun summer. Maybe I’m missing something. Is suggesting that a general manager should do something to fix a broken team the equivalent of “tossing him under the bus”? And moreover, Kenny Williams hired Guillen, knows the volatile manager well and has – as he felt the need to mention – “had his back” consistently over the last few years. Is this sort of comment out of character, or in any way surprising? Ozzie didn’t say, “Kenny f--- ed this thing up, and he needs to fix it.” That would
White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen watches play from the dugout during a play against the Detroit Tigers.
be throwing his GM under the bus. The fact is, Kenny put together a team that he thought would have a fast, basestealing leadoff man in Jerry Owens; a tough, grind-it-out two hitter in Nick Swisher; a still-powerful middle of the order with Jermaine Dye, Thome and Konerko; and then a ton of upside in the bottom half with Orlando Cabrera, Joe Crede, AJ Pierzynski and whatever mess ended up at second base. As it turns out, Owens never panned out, Swisher is the biggest disappointment ever (with Cabrera a close second) and the only power hitters getting anything done are Dye and Quentin. It’s not that Kenny should have seen this coming, necessarily – most people were more concerned about the team’s pitching going into the season, and it’s been the supposed “back end of the rotation” (Danks, Floyd and Contreras) keeping the Sox afloat all year. But now – now that this group of hitters is failing, rather miserably – isn’t it fair to suggest that the GM do something? I think it is – and I think it’s unfair, and unwise, for said GM to take such clearly off-thecuff comments so personally. Maybe there’s nothing he can do right now, and that’s fine; then go speak to Ozzie privately, and tell him to go ahead and make some lineup changes, because roster changes are just not realistic. But to snap back, to make this into a two-way controversy, was stupid. It’s the same stupidity that led Williams to tell Frank Thomas to “stay out of White Sox business.” And it’s probably the same stupidity that makes him a good, smart, tough GM and that makes him so partial to Ozzie as a coach. They’re a couple of loose cannons, and these spats will happen. Nobody is right, nobody is particularly wrong. Outside of everyone overreacting to it, I’m not sure there’s a whole hell of a lot of news here. As this article is being posted on the web,
Ozzie and Kenny are sitting down to discuss this. Here’s basically how I see this meeting going: Kenny: So, what’s the problem Ozzie? Why are you throwing my name around the news. Ozzie: Sorry Kenny, I’m just pissed about how nobody on this fucking team can hit, and it’s really fucking getting to me. I’m just not sure how I can keep this shit-train on the winning tracks without at least one guy that gets on base and makes things happen. Kenny: I know, I know, things are rough. But right now, there’s just nothing I can do about bringing anyone new to town, and we really don’t have much help in the minor leagues, so I’m gonna need you to just do what you can for now with what we have. I know there’s a problem, and I’m gonna try to fix it. But for now, just try to hold on to first place. Ozzie: Ok. But if they keep leaving runners on base, I’m probably going to lose my temper again. Kenny: That’s totally cool with me, just so long as you don’t mention my name when you’re yelling and swearing. Ozzie: Ok, cool. Hug it out? Kenny: Sure. They hug. It’s kinda like in high school, when you and your best buddy got upset at each other, and screamed “fuck you” back and forth a few times; and then you rolled around on the ground a little until somebody twisted an arm or cut themselves, and then you looked at each other and were like, “alright, we’re cool.” And it’s cool. Seriously cool – not like when girls say they’re cool and then talk about each other behind their backs for the next month, but just cool. Maybe you’re not as close as you once were, maybe you’re even a little closer. It doesn’t much matter. The season keeps moving. There is the possibility, of course, that
Guillen is crazy like a fox – that all this is just his way of flipping the script on the media. Because an interesting thing has happened here… The White Sox sit in first place, a halfgame ahead of the Minnesota Twins in what has become essentially the worst division in baseball. Sure, the AL Central was supposed to be murderer’s row this year; but Cleveland can’t hit, Detroit can’t pitch and Minnesota has no players to speak of, so the Sox have gotten ahead by just playing decent baseball and getting some fantastic innings from their 3, 4 and 5 starters and their made over bullpen. There are a lot of obvious problems with this team, a lot of questions that should be receiving media coverage: Why are Thome and Konerko stinking it up for the second straight year? What’s the deal with Nick Swisher, the best-marketed flop in MLB history? Why did we trade a young, workhorse pitcher for an over-thehill, son-of-a-bitch shortstop that can’t hit and calls the official scorer to complain about errors? How come our GM put together a team that has to sit around and wait for homers when he says he hates teams that have to sit around and wait for homers – isn’t that why we sucked in 2004? Instead, what you’re reading in the Chicago papers is something more like this: “What’s Ozzie’s problem? He’s got a first place club, and he’s being this hard on them? Why’s he throwing his GM under the bus?” In a good division the Sox would be in the middle of the pack, and there are more than a handful of local writers who would be happy to skewer everyone involved. Instead, again, Ozzie is the subject of virtually every bit of skewering. If he doesn’t mind it, I don’t see the problem, and I’m sure the players aren’t bothered by dozens of sports media outlets jumping to their defense. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that everything Ozzie does is planned out to the Nth degree as a ploy to distract the media – that would be ridiculous. But don’t think he doesn’t know how everyone will respond when he swears a little and criticizes everyone from his veteran sluggers to his longtime hitting coach to team management. Then again, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe it’s just a manager on the edge, flying off the handle because he’s sick and tired of watching his hitters take strike three with a runner in scoring position in extra innings. And I wouldn’t have a problem with that either. Maybe Ozzie isn’t some sort of crazy genius. Maybe he’s just the Vicious Venezuelan. But he’s got a first-place team and a GM who’s now paying attention, so let’s not put him on the firing line just yet. A quick aside, on Jay Mariotti I’d just like to point out the irony and hypocrisy inherent in Mr. Mariotti’s column today. First of all – I think Jay is the best sportswriter in Chicago, by a longshot, and arguably the best sportswriter going right now. He’s a true wordsmith – he hails back to a time when sportswriters were writers too, a time that’s easy to forget when you’re stuck reading the Mike Downey’s of the world (and if you don’t know who Mike Downey is, consider yourself lucky and don’t waste your time looking for his barely legible pap.) In Tuesday’s column, though, Mariotti once again screams for the firing of Ozzie Guillen – something he’s done repeatedly and ridiculously for years, since long before Guillen inappropriately called him a fag. And he’s using the word “we” with his accusations: “We are sick and tired of [Guillen];” WE drive right past US Cellular field, not because of hatred for the Sox but “because Guillen works there.” Why? Because Guillen makes people angry; because Guillen speaks the truth, tells people what he thinks, even when it’s unpopular or a little inappropriate; because he doesn’t want to see Ozzie “get away with Please see KOLSKY on page 6
Bears Head Coach, Lovie Smith watches over the Orgaznied Team Activities workouts at Halas Hall in Lake Forest, Ill. Wednesday June 11, 2008.
Chicago Bears OTA report had a pretty good day with the increased reps he got, especially catching passes out of the backfield and making plays in open he Chicago Bears got a pleasant surspace. … prise at OTAs Wednesday, as Brian Brandon Lloyd continues to look like the Urlacher put on a helmet and took best wideout on the field every part in the workout with his day, but it was Marty Booker Midway Monster teammates. Eye Candy who was making plays in the Could a new contract be in passing game Wednesday. the works? The Chicago Sports • Please see Booker made one particularly Review had a front-row seat at page 6 for more tough catch over the middle Halas Hall for all the action and photos from the on a pass that was a foot and made these observations: Chicago Bears a half behind him, and he also OTA. Pick Six blew past both Tillman and To the surprise – OK, shock Brandon McGowan to reel – of everybody on hand Wednesday, Urlach- in a fly pattern from Grossman. He walks er was unexpectedly in attendance and went around between plays like he’s 90 years old, through the entire session from his middle but apparently he did that back when he was linebacker position. And as expected, Ura rookie, too. … lacher trotted off the field following practice Bears fans have another reason to be without speaking to reporters, so we have excited, as Devin Hester was lined up at no initial indication as to why exactly he tailback for a few snaps Wednesday. The only decided to show up after being so steadfast play he ran was the toss sweep to either side, in his stance to skip any and all voluntary but that’s certainly a wrinkle offensive coorworkouts. However, it’s reasonable to assume dinator Ron Turner would be wise to work that some sort of agreement with regard to into the game plan – even if Hester is only his contract situation is imminent, as the used as a decoy. That being said, imagine the team usually does not negotiate with players mismatch Hester could create if he ever ran unless they are on the reservation. … a wheel route out of the backfield and got It’s possible that the quarterback derby matched up with a linebacker. … between Rex Grossman and Kyle Orton, Marcus Robinson retired as a Bear on which was supposed to bring out the best in Wednesday, ending his career with 325 both of them because of the vacancy at the receptions for 4,699 yards and 43 touchtop of the depth chart, is actually making them worse instead of better. Neither Gross- downs. He was simply incredible for the Midway Monsters in 1999 when he put up man nor Orton has performed particularly 85 catches for 1,400 yards and 9 TDs, but he well since minicamp, when the not-so-dywas never quite the same after that as injunamic duo took turns firing interceptions. ries plagued the rest of his time in Chicago. Grossman was picked off Wednesday by During his press conference Wednesday at Charles Tillman, although it looked like Halas Hall, he made some comments that Mike Hass ran the wrong route, and Orton don’t bode well for the Grossman-and-Orsomehow had a quick out to Kellen Daton situation: vis wind up in the mitts of undrafted free “I think that as I went to a different team agent defensive end Nick Osborn, who had and played with a different quarterback, the dropped into coverage. … best quarterback I played with was Daunte Rookie Matt Forte got almost all the Culpepper by far. To be able to have that reps with the first team Wednesday, as the – where you can talk to a guy, he can talk to offense continues to move ahead without Cedric Benson. Forte is most impressive as a you, you kind of feel each other out instead receiver right now, and we’ll get a better look of you going back and forth with different quarterbacks – I think that is a huge key for at him running the ball once they finally put a receiver and quarterback.” the pads on in Bourbonnais. Garrett Wolfe by John
Is Urlacher thinking about a contract extension while he participates in the Chicago Bears OTA workout at Halas Hall in Lake Forest, Ill. Wednesday June 11, 2008.
Adrian Peterson had an appendectomy Tuesday night and will miss the rest of the offseason program in all likelihood, but he should be back to 100 percent by training camp. Mark Bradley was the only player in attendance who did not participate in drills, although Lance Briggs, Ricky Manning Jr., and Brad Maynard where nowhere to be found. Hunter Hillenmeyer, Israel Idonije, and Patrick Mannelly were all there after being absent Monday, and Trumaine McBride was back in action after missing Monday’s workout with an undisclosed minor leg injury.
Stud of the Day
Good for the Bears getting Briggs at a bargain-basement price this offseason, but it’s just a shame there’s no room for Jamar Williams in the starting lineup. While he’s ready to be a full-time defender for just about any team in this league, he’ll simply be the primary backup at all three linebacker positions for this defense in addition to his strong work on special teams. But if something goes wrong with the Urlacher-BriggsHillenmeyer trio, Williams can step in at any spot and perform right away.
Dud of the Day
Hass did not have a very good day, and he may be coming to the realization that his window of opportunity in the Windy City is closing in a hurry. Not only did he have that miscommunication with Grossman which resulted in an easy INT for Tillman, but he doesn’t look to be better than either of the rookies, Earl Bennett and Marcus Monk, at this point. Putting Hass on the practice squad again makes little sense, so he could be looking for work before too long.
Quote to Note
“I can’t speak for what he was thinking and what he was feeling. Obviously, I’m saddened and disappointed that it did happen to him and that we had to let him go. Because I’ve kind of been in a little situation before, where you want things to happen for an individual that’s had a little difficulty and it hasn’t gone right. As a coach, you really can’t control everything. All you can do is tell them what they should and shouldn’t do and hope they do it.” – Running backs coach Tim Spencer on comparing Cedric Benson to Maurice Clarett, whom he coached at Ohio State. John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.
Verano Major League Soccer summer events to come to Chicago Bridgeview, Ill. – The Chicago Fire and Major League Soccer announced the 2008 schedule for Verano MLS. In its second edition, Verano MLS, a free summer soccer program, will be offered by MLS teams Chivas USA, Chicago Fire, FC Dallas, Houston
Dynamo and Kansas City Wizards in their home markets. One of League’s successful grassroots programs, Verano MLS provides youth ages 8-12 a free opportunity to play pick-up-style soccer twice a week in a safe and controlled
environment. Working closely with select MLS teams, the four to six week summer program will provide a weekly soccer playing destination, while creating a connection between youth soccer players and their favorite MLS stars.
“Verano MLS returns to offer first-hand professional training in a summer camp setting for upcoming soccer players,” said Neel Shah, Major League Soccer’s Director of Fan Development.
Friday June 13, 2008
Friday June 13, 2008
Fifteen innings to redemption at the Cell by
Wednesday, June 4th at U.S. Cellular Field was not only the 23rd annual Navy Recruiting District Chicago - Navy Night, complete with an enlistment ceremony, it was also an extended evening of baseball that tested everyone from the players to the fans to the media. David DeJesus pounced on a John Danks 95 MPH fastball, sending it down the first base line outside the reach of a leaping Paul Konerko for a double. Danks retired the successive three Royals batters and Luke Hochevar did the same to the top of the White Sox order. Former Sox catcher Miguel Olivo walked into the batters box to start the second inning. He patiently took two Danks balls, waiting for John to slip, which John did on the next pitch. Olivo delicately placed the sweet spot of his wooden club onto the rotating white object generously tossed right down the middle and sent it 414 feet to left field. Alexi Ramirez ended the top of the second by placing his bare fingers around an object moving fast enough that it has ended careers of heads its struck, and painlessly picking it up before soft tossing it to Paul Konerko, easily beating the huffing and puffing John Buck. Alexi made the play again in the fourth, this time exploiting his hermes-esque feet to get Olivo out by a wisp of a whisker at first. Mark Teahan belted a home-run just short of the center field shrubbery for a 2-0 lead in the next at-bat. The Sox finally gave their pitcher some support in the bottom of the inning. With one out and Paul Konerko on first after a walk, Jim Thome showed Teahan who has the bigger feet, putting a Hochevar attempt into the shrubbery, 464 feet from home plate to tie the game. When Chicago came up to bat the next inning I was distracted before I could get focused, all I heard were three sounds: a “pop,” fireworks and some old white dude talking vaguely about putting something on a board One pitch in, all of a sudden Chicago was ahead by a run, and Joe Crede was trotting around the bases. Three batters later, Alexi Ramirez was behind the K.C. catcher John Buck, following an error by Kansas City SS Esteban German. German bobbled a Carlos Quentin hit up the middle, giving Alexi plenty of time to reach home from second. Unfortunately, Alexi forgot to touch the bag before entering the dug out, and in baseball that means you did not score. Initially the run was counted, but following an appeal from Royals manager Trey Hillman the scoreboard was re-set to 3-2. Perhaps realizing what had occurred A.J. Pierzynski, who had reached third from first on the Quentin double, went about a third of the way to home plate. If Hochevar had thrown to third, a play would have occurred, and the opportunity for a Royals appeal would have been lost. Luke wisely chose not to take the bait, instead soft
Chicago White Sox starter John Danks delivers a pitcher during play agains the Kansas City Royals Wednesday June 4, 2008.
tossing the ball back to Buck. In the top of the sixth, Danks was pulled after loading the bases, but Nick Masset cleaned up his mess, closing out the inning with three frustrated men standing on base as Buck struck out looking. It was the beginning of a perfect performance by the Sox ‘pen, save one slip by the unlikeliest of characters. A hustling Nick Swisher scored from first in the bottom of the inning, on another Joe Crede RBI to put the team in black ahead 4-2. The score stagnated there until one of modern American pop music’s greatest failures came blasting through hundred of thousands watts strong. P.O.D.’s awful tune “Boom” was to those in the know, announcing the arrival of Big Bad Bobby. Jenks was anything but booming, as he blew the save letting two Royals score. To his credit, at least he stopped the bleeding there, getting the second out on a flawless pick off play of DeJesus. With his back to the runner at first, he rotated ninety degrees then placed the ball firmly in Paulie’s glove in one fluid motion. Who knew a big man could be so smooth?
Innings rolled off one after another as seemingly countless zeros were keyed into the electronic scoreboard. Each side’s bullpens were masterfully executing their roles one after another. To be fair, credit must also be doled out to the defenders. Joe Crede made a painful stop on a DeJesus hit, making the play at first, but it came at a cost, as he was forced to prematurely exit the game with a bruised wrist. After the Royals had once again gone through their order, DeJesus was a repeat victim of theft. Dribbling a hit that theoretically gave the speedy sprinter plenty of time to reach first, Alexi Ramirez made perhaps his most important sprinting-barhandedgrab-toss of the evening, keeping David off the base paths and the game tied. It was his fifth no-glove defensive play of the evening, atoning for his base running gaffe. Not until over 260 minutes had passed since Danks’ first pitch, did Paul Konerko put all the remaining US Cellular inhabitants out of their misery with a walk-off two-run homer in the 15th. The true fans were rewarded with Chicago’s thirty-first win of the year, and witnessed what could prove to be a turning point in their Konerko’s career.
A jubilant Ozzie Guillen ran out of the dugout to shake his first baseman’s hand. Post-game, after some choice words for the many absent Chicago media members at the press conference - to be fair, some writers face very strict deadlines ... though Guillen does still have a point - Ozzie shared that he had never done that before as a coach or player: shake someone’s hand after a homer. He said he did it for Paulie, because of how direly Konerko needed that homer for his season and his career as a whole. It was Paulie’s first walk-off since 2001. Later in the locker room, Konerko himself mentioned how it was “nice to help out” after failing so often. With regards to the Ramirez “out,” Guillen said the umps made the “right call.” Speaking through his interpreter, Octavio Dotel, Ramirez himself said that “he thought he touched the plate,” but, Octavio added that he has not yet learned to “run away” from the play in the art of selling a major league call. When asked if his hand hurt after all those brutal bare-handed plays, Ramirez said something en español I did understand, “Nada.”
Chicago White Sox second baseman Alexei Ramirez throws the baseball while in the air avoiding a collision with a Royals baserunner. The Chicago White Sox went on to defeat the Kansas City Royals 6-4 when Paul Konerko hit a walk-off home run in the 15th inning at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago Wedensday June 4, 2008
singles Warren Wimmer
FINAL: White Sox 6 – Royals 4
KOLSKY: Defending manager Ozzie Guillen Continued from page 4 Continued from on page 4
General Manger Kenny Williams
insubordination” towards his suddenly admirable GM Kenny Williams and ownership led by Jerry Reinsdorf. It’s bullshit. It’s utter bullshit, and WE ARE NOT WITH YOU, JAY. Don’t lump us in with your hatred, because it’s personal. Isn’t this the same Kenny Williams that you’ve hound-dogged about every move and criticized at every step? The same Reinsdorf who you’ve called the worst owner in sports in the past? And as for insubordination… you’ve had your fair share of flare-ups, Mari-
otti – yet the Sun Times keeps you around, don’t they? Could it be because you’re good at your job? Mariotti, for all that he does right, is hated by fans who read his columns because he’s a jerk, and he often writes about truths that they don’t want to hear. Does it make him a bad columnist? Absolutely not. In fact, one could argue it makes him an even better columnist. Likewise, people hate Ozzie because he sometimes goes a little crazy and speaks too much truth. Does that make him a bad man-
ager? His record and his World Series ring say a definitive “no.” He told us he’d be back to his “old self ” this year, and presumably this is exactly the kind of thing he meant. So can you make an argument to fire Guillen? Sure. But maybe Mariotti should take a step back and think about exactly what was so wrong with what Guillen did. And think about whether he, in a similar situation, might have done a very similar thing. And let’s just hold off on calling the pot black, Mr, Kettle.
04 June 2008: Chicago White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko takes a pick off throw from John Danks during the 5th inning of play..
Manger Ozzie Guillen calls for relief pitcher Nick Masset to take over from John Danks Wednesday June 4, 2008.
Friday June 13, 2008
Chicago Bears cornerback Charles Tillman left, and Chicago Bears tight end Desmond Clark battle for the ball during an OTA workout Wednesday June 11, 2008.
Bears quarterback Rex Grossman drops back to pass during OTA Wednsday June 11, 2008.
Brandon Lloyd makes a one-handed grab during OTA workouts Wednesday June 11, 2008
Chicago Bears quarterback Kyle Orton looks to pass during a workout Wednesday June 11, 2008. Chicago Bears cornerback Devin Hester, left, makes a move after catching a pass while be defended by Trey Brown Wednesday June 9, 2008.
Chicago Bears wide receiver Earl Bennett catches the football while in the air as he participates in the Chicago Bears OTA practice at Halas Hall in Lake Forest, Ill., Tuesday June 9, 2008.
Monsters of the Midway Chicago Bears tight end Greg Olsen pulls down a pass during OTA Wednesday June 11, 2008.
organized team activities CSR Photos
Chicago Bears wide receiver Mike Hass participates in the Chicago Bears OTA at Halas Hall, Lake Forest, Ill. Wednesday June 9, 2008.
Friday June 13, 2008
Friday June 13, 2008
NBA season wrap up: An ‘I told you so’ list by
nother end to a NBA season is upon us and with the final four teams really only having one surprise, the Lakers only because they did not have Pau Gasol at the beginning of the season, based off of the beginning of the year predictions, it is time to inform the person you argue with every week that you were right and he or she was wrong. If in fact you were wrong then it is best to just avoid that person all together. The “I told you so” category – The topics in which only the person right seems to remember the argument that occurred months ago. The Chicago Bulls were completely overrated at the beginning of the season and although no one could have predicted them to be this bad, there was no guarantee they would win the East as most “analysts” claimed they would. The main reason being the Chicago Bulls did nothing to improve their team from last year. Swapping P.J. Brown for Joe Smith is not going to get a team to the Eastern Conference Finals whereas a Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Kevin Garnett would, as seen in the final four teams remaining in the playoffs having these players. With the NBA Finals being the Celtics vs. Lakers then John Paxson should shed a tear each game while watching three dominating superstars play for the championship when at least one of them should have been doing so in a Chicago Bulls’ uniform. The San Antonio Spurs would continue to dominate while the Phoenix Suns and Dallas Mavericks would begin their downfall and eventually place the blame on their head coaches instead of underachieving players. As opposed to the Suns and Mavericks, the Spurs are a well-oiled machine. They have a player for every aspect of basketball whereas the Suns and Mavs expect their few talented players to do everything. The Spurs have Bruce Bowen to play stellar defense whereas the Suns and Mavs have absolutely no one to play defense. Yes, even the starting five on the Spurs play defense, which is unheard of in the NBA, especially the West and especially amongst the Suns and Mavs. The Spurs have an actual bench with players like Robert Horry and Bowen whereas the Suns and Mavs run their starters into the ground during the year then proceed to lose in the playoffs. Both franchises are riddled with shaky moves including the Suns dealing Joe Johnson and the Mavs Cuban-filled mistakes such as firing Don Nelson. Acquiring Shaq and Jason Kidd were last ditch efforts by the two former powerhouses of the Western Conference, but with teams like the Jazz and Hornets, the Suns and Mavs have moved down the totem pole while the Spurs remain amongst the best. Another Bull-related “I told you so” topic is that Ben Wallace would live up to the hype that he was the worst move in franchise history along with one of the worst contracts in NBA history. Wallace was part of a dismal free agent year and indeed made bank off an ignorant GM and a team desperate for a name, unfortunately that name needed four stars around him to make himself look good. Instead of spending money on free agents Al Harrington,
Mark Cowan/Icon SMI
Chicago Bulls center Ben Wallace grabs a rebound in front of Detroit Pistons forward Antonio McDyess. Wallace lived up to the hype that he was the worst free agent move in Bulls franchise history.
Peja Stojakovic or Drew Gooden, who they eventually would trade Wallace for, the Bulls signed Wallace for four years and 60million dollars. The Bulls followed the Chicago way of looking at sports and signed a “Chicago guy” who plays defense, rebounds and is a blue-collared guy. Any man making 60million dollars is far from blue-collared. In the 2006-2007 season Ben Wallace made 16 million dollars and scored 87 points which means he received .18 million dollars per point. Any big man at Cardinal fitness could do what Ben Wallace did for the Bulls and seeing as big men tore the Bulls up during the Ben Wallace era, I’d say they could do a better job on defense as well. The Wallace signing will haunt the Bulls for years to come and John Paxson will not even admit it was a bad move. The “Holy crap, no one saw that coming category” – The topics in which only your annoying friend who makes ridiculous predictions solely to freak out if by some
slim chance they happen can say “I told you so” to, while forgetting his 20 other wrong predictions. Back to those good old Chicago Bulls we love to discuss. Right off the bat, them not making the playoffs must be part of this category. To go from having expectations of winning the Eastern Conference to not making the playoffs at all was a complete shocker to most people. If you do not make the playoffs in the NBA, especially in the Eastern Conference, you’re a bad team; there is no arguing. You have a better chance of actually seeing the Rolling Stones’ real final concert than not making the playoffs in the NBA. The Bulls were a complete disappointment. The Eastern Conference becoming more than just the Pistons and LeBron James. With the rise of Dwight Howard and the Magic, Kevin Garnett and the Celtics, Andre Iguodala and the 76ers, the Wizards realizing they do not need Gilbert Arenas
and Josh Smith and the Hawks, the Eastern Conference has become a halfway decent conference. No longer can a team be .500 or below and make the playoffs…….actually the Eastern Conference still had 3, but signs are pointing up for the conference with these teams emerging which is bad news for the Pistons, Bulls and Cavs who proceed to get older and worse. Following up on the last statement, somehow the Western Conference improved. Although the Mavs and Suns have fallen teams like the Hornets, Jazz and Nuggets have emerged with the Blazers close to becoming a legit team. With a renewed Lakers team and of course the San Antonio Spurs the Western Conference has improved and seems to be deeper than last season. A couple other “holy craps” came from the Western Conference’s dominance such as the Rockets’ 22 game winning streak which was impressive seeing as they lost Yao early on during it, the Hornets being a 2 seed solely based around Chris Paul and David West and finally a 48 win team not making the playoffs. With all this in mind it could be a long time before the East ever reigns supreme in the NBA. The “Everyone should have known” category – The topics everyone should have predicted, but some still refuse to believe. How people thought the Celtics would not gel is beyond me. Three allstars featuring one superstar all of which are hungry for a championship mixed with perfect role players such as Glen Davis, Kendrick Perkins and Rajon Rondo equals VICTORY. Put that together with an Eastern Conference that is rising but not risen and all you have to do is get passed an aging Pistons team and you’re in the championship. Any doubters of the Celtics should never argue basketball again. Kobe Bryant is an MVP. The man has been overlooked since 2000 for the MVP crown, even in 2005 when he averaged 35 points a game. Granted Chris Paul was perhaps a better player and more important to his team than Kobe still does not leave me with a sour feeling upon seeing Kobe named MVP. Just because Kobe Bryant was demanding a trade does not take away from his year. It is Most Valuable Player not Most Valuable Person. He deserves at least one and now that that is settled Chris Paul can win it next year. Finally, to make the Bulls not look so bad, the Knicks were a complete joke the entire year and have been since bringing Isiah Thomas to the team. Everyone should have known that he would be fired as head coach although I was surprised he made it through the year. Every move he makes seems less intelligent than the previous move although John Paxson is attempting to overthrow him in that stat. Thank you, Isiah, for taking the heat off the Bulls’ blown season. Hopefully this was a reminder to all of you who argued at the beginning of the season, but forgot which side of a topic you were on. Now go back to that person you argued with and mock them for every little thing they messed up, but never under any circumstance admit to being wrong because neither will they. Then always finish by saying, “Next year I’m going to write down people’s predictions and we will see,” even though you know you absolutely will not.
Chicago Fire midfielder Logan Pause battle for the ball with a Houston Dynamo defender during play at Toyota Park Saturday May 17, 2008. The Dynamo defeated Chicago 2-1.
Foll owing the Fire
Chicago Rush falter, falling behind early against Cleveland Gladiators By: Jerome Cusson
The Chicago Rush continued their pattern of falling behind early in the game. This time, there was no coming back as the Rush suffered its worst loss of the season to the Cleveland Gladiators, 65-44. With just two games left in the regular season, the Rush do not have homefield advantage in the American Conference Ironically, it was an old friend who did most of the damage as former Rush quar-
terback Raymond Philyaw threw for five touchdowns and 222 yards on 14-19 passing. Gladiators receiver Otis Amey had six receptions for 125 yards, but his biggest play came on special teams. Paul Edinger missed a field goal wide right. Amey recovered the errant kick and ran 50 yards for a touchdown that put the Gladiators up 21-7. Then defensive back Brandon Hefflin intercepted Rush quarterback Russ Michna for a 45-yard touchdown return. That put the Gladiators up 28-7, and
the Gladiators never looked back. Even in a losing effort, the Rush had a few good performances. Travis LeTendresse caught 12 passes for 146 yards while Donovan Morgan caught 10 passes for 103 yards. Russ Michna did throw for more than 300 yards and six touchdowns, but he needed 43 passes to do it and once again could not seem to find any sort of rhythm. The 65 points are the most allowed by a Rush team since a Jan. 29, 2006 game against Colorado. All in all, it was a terrible
game by the Rush. This was a game the Rush needed to win considering the final two games are against two of the better teams in the National Conference. The Georgia Force are the hottest team in the AFL. After starting the season 1-3, the Force are on a six-game winning streak. With the Rush’s recent struggles and a road game coming up in Georgia, it could come down to the wire whether or not the Rush have the best record in conference or not.
Fire defender Bakary Soumare gets control of the ball during play against the Houston Dynamo Thursday May 17, 2008. Chicago Fire forward Chris Rolfe tangles with a Houston Dynamo defender duirng play at Toyota Park.
Friday June 13, 2008
Friday June 13, 2008
An unidentified cow-bell banging, heckling Rays fan tries to get Ozzie Guillen’s attention during game action Saturday May 31, 2008.
Tampa Bay Ray pitcher Grant Balfour makes his major league debut against the Chicago White Sox at Tropicana Field Saturday May 31, 2008.
Chicago White Sox shortstop Orlando Cabrera safely steals second base but was stranded as the Chicago White Sox fell to the Tampa Bay Rays 2-0, as the Rays pitching staff held
the White Sox to four hits at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., Saturday May 31, 2008. The game eleventh sell out in club history
Message to Rays: They will come
Country Music super star Trace Adkins performs the National Anthem prior to game action between the Tampa Bay Rays and Chicago White Sox.
White Sox reliever Octavio Dotel delivers a pitch during play against the Tampa Bay Rays.
he Trop also know as Tropicana Field, is where the Tampa Bay Rays, the loveable losers of the MLB, American League East, call home. Built in the late 70’s in hopes of luring the Chicago White Sox to the area it is also used as a NHL venue. But wait, the Rays really are in first place. Yes, ahead of the Red Sox and the Bronx Bombers. Are the 2008 Rays the real deal? They’ve had possession of the first place ranking in excess of 17 games to date. Will the bubble burst? I personally hope not. This past week in the Tampa area “where are the fans?” was the lead story on all the major sports segments. Local sports anchors asked, “we’re in first place, why can’t we draw?” Just wait till Lou Piniella and the Cubs get here in a few weeks. The Chicago Cubbies have never graced the Tropicana’s doorstep. Sweet Lou who never met with much success here could not draw fans either. The Cubs are looking to end their own dry World Series run. I think the Trop will be rocking for that series. As a die hard White Sox fan, from the area of Chicago known as “South of Madison” street; I saw the lack luster crowd at U.S. Cellular during the summer of ‘05. Towards mid August the Band Wagon started. Baseball goers jumped on at a faster rate then Chicago political nepotism could grow. That year the Sox held onto first place most of the year. Only to see their lead dwindle then regain it during the last two weeks of the season, and then on to win the World Series. Afterwards, re-ups and new buyers for season tickets were at an all time high. But yet there seem to be fans dressed up as empty blue seats: lots of them, as far as the eye can see. From prime starting at $210.00 to the nine-dollar economy seats, it’s a vast sea of empty seats. One might wonder, why? Is it because it was built in what is now a run down area of historic St Petersburg, FL., a mere 15 miles east of some of the most pristine beaches in central Florida? Is it
Tropicana Field in St. Peteresburg, Fla., home to the Tampa Bay Rays was built in the 1970s to lure the White Sox to Floridan. It is alos home to the an NHL team.
the economy? Is it there are so many other choices in the area to spend the family entertainment dollar? Or could it be no one cares? That I doubt. The area attracts retirees from all major cities that have fielded baseball teams. Thursday night saw two first place teams battle it out. Some fans claimed that if the White Sox were not in town there would not have been 12,000+. The Friday night contest saw 14,000+. Management of the Rays is not worried. “Folks just have not bought into our product yet,” claims Ms Carmen Molina of the Rays. In case you were wondering Carmen, you folks run a first class operation: from the friendly greeters at each entrance to the ushers and other staff members. Your concourses
are clean and the Trop sports a huge two level gift shop. You have treated this photographer/writer want to be with great Florida hospitality. The issue could be location. For Chicagoans, where the “El” will drop you off a block away from Wrigley or U.S. Cellular, this is not an issue. Along with some of the best mass transit that patronage can provide. One is just a short CTA ride from their favorite venue. Wrigley Field also known to the believers as the “Shrine” is a community within itself. Watering holes line Clark and Addison Streets up and down. Game goers are not afraid to walk several blocks in any direction from Wrigley after a day or night game. Trust me, you would not walk more than one block
and photos by
in any direction from the Trop. And I might add that Cubs goers have the privilege of paying in excess of $30 per game to park in someone’s drive way or fast food parking lot. Now take U.S. Cellular, public transit from all directions. Now the Cell is not a Destination Point, like Wrigley. Fans arrive, watch their beloved Pale Hose and then depart. The “Cell” is just blocks away from what was some of the roughest public housing complex’s to the east. And just blocks away from a community named Bridgeport, the birthplace of the current Chicago Mayor, Richard M. Daley. Who, by the way, found fancier digs elsewhere in the city. Although he still maintains some of the best first row seats in the yard. The Tampa Bay area for those of you whom have not had the time to visit is very spread out. The metro area includes Tampa, Clearwater, Clearwater Beach to St Pete and St Pete Beach; and Spreads north to Tarpon Springs, and Land O Lakes and Lakeland on the east. Cross the Sunshine Skyway to Bradenton on the south. To get to a Rays game your private vehicle is probably the best bet. The Chicago elevated train would probably be gawked at in wonder here. There is the PSTA, the areas answer to the CTA but still not a convenient solution for senior citizens. Unlike Chicago, parking is a real value. For as little as $10 you can park right across the street in secured easy out parking. Last fall the Rays announced plans for a new 34,000-seat retractable-roof, open- air ballpark on the St Petersburg waterfront at the site of historic Al Lang Field. This venue will offer sweeping waterfront views. A proposed fan and family friendly amenities, the ballpark will feature air-conditioned concourses with open views to the playing field, the smallest upper deck in baseball. It is expected to be ready for Opening Day 2012. Attention: Bay Area doubters, They will come and once they have, they will spread the word and more will come. Trust me, this fan knows.
Tampa Bay Rays baserunner Akinori Iwamura gets back to first base in front of Nick Swisher during game action at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla.
White Sox manager, Ozzie Guillen works on his line up during the eighth inning of play against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Friday June 13, 2008
Friday June 13, 2008
Retailers to benefit from private label expansion and sports specialization MINNEAPOLIS, MN – The U.S. sporting goods retailing industry, already a global major league industry that distributes a solid 45 percent of all global wholesale shipments, is poised for significant market consolidation and increased private label penetration, according to the investment banking firm The Mercanti Group. In the firm’s latest monthly Chronicle research report, Mercanti takes a hard look at what it estimates was at least a $110 billion retail business last year and the participation, demographic and spending trends that have and will continue to significantly affect sporting goods retail sales. Among them is a greater than ever swing to organized team sports, more focus on sports specialization at early ages, a growing emphasis on performance related products and apparel, expanding private brands and e-commerce potential. In addition, Mercanti expects the highly fragmented domestic sporting goods retailing industry to experience steady consolidation. Because of an array of retail formats and established retailers in local/regional markets, the firm notes that the top five retailers in the Sporting Goods Business’ “Retail Top 100” represent only 23 percent of U.S. retail sporting goods sales, as compared to estimated concentration among the top players in European markets of at least 50 percent. Indicative of the consolidation trend, the
report notes that Dick’s Sporting Goods (NYSE: DKS), the largest full-line sporting goods retailer by sales volume, also became the largest golf retailer with its acquisition last year of Golf Galaxy. Having achieved growth in recent years via acquisitions, including the purchase in 2007 of Chick’s Sporting Goods, Inc., a 15-store chain in Southern California, Dick’s is now focusing on organic growth. Meanwhile, significant cash flow and compelling valuations also are attracting private equity capital to the industry. The Sports Authority was purchased by Leonard Green & Partners and management in 2006, and other firms have more recently made investments in Sportsman’s Warehouse and Joe’s Sports & Outdoor. Other fundamentals are also driving the industry, says the report’s author, Josh Susser, a principal in the firm’s Minneapolis office: •A regimen of organized games, training and practice is now the norm among youngsters, while casual participants have dropped out of team sports. Mercanti says this reflects a trend among individuals to sport specialization, in which youngsters play a single sport year-round. •At the same time, sport specialization has upped demand for sport training and
conditioning programs, facilities and products. Athletic footwear and apparel leader Nike (NYSE: NKE), for example, has developed programs with an athletic performance testing and training services company, as well as with a company that operates and franchises athletic training camps consisting of certified trainers, to offer footwear, apparel and equipment. •With growing participation at the varsity sports level and increased, year-round participation by youth in a single sport, injury prevention offerings, particularly of supports, braces and protective equipment designed to reduce harm from repetitive stress, impact and overextensions have experienced increased demand from players, coaches and parents. Consumer willingness to “trade up” for additional design features and technologies that provide greater safety for players and even greater piece of mind for parents have been reflected in increased average selling prices for supports and braces, says Mercanti. •Private label brand merchandise is giving sporting goods retailers greater control over merchandising, better visibility on wholesale pricing and enhanced gross margin, says Mercanti. In this,
they are following the lead of international retailers, where private brands are more prevalent and garner a bigger share of many chains’ overall business. •Similarly, the Mercanti report notes, online sporting goods sales are increasing significantly among retailers. The report shows how GSI Commerce (Nasdaq: GSIC) has increased its sporting goods sales by more than 47 percent from 2006 to 2007 by contracting with the major retailers to manage their e-commerce operations. This has left consumers with fewer unique options and has contributed to the growth of several non-traditional sporting goods retailers such as zappos.com. Zappos.com sales of athletic footwear reached $300 million in 2006, a 100% increase from 2005, making it one of the 50 largest sporting goods retailers in the U.S. Mercanti notes that if traditional sporting goods companies were willing to invest in online retailing, there lies great potential for growth. A full copy of this report can be obtained at www.mercantigroup.com <http://www. mercantigroup.com/> .
KemperSports announces promotions and appointments NORTHBROOK, Ill., – KemperSports today announced the promotions of Adrienne Flentge and Laura Cray as well as the appointment of Richard Carter to support the company’s expanding portfolio of golf properties under its ownership and management in addition to continued growth in its sports marketing, hospitality and event management activities. Adrienne Flentge, formerly director of retail, was named national director of vendor partnerships. Since joining KemperSports in 2000, Flentge has been instrumental in opening and operating numerous golf shops throughout the company’s portfolio. Most
notably, she assisted the grand opening of the Pavilion Golf Shop at the world-renowned Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Bandon, Ore. In her new assignment, Flentge will be responsible for managing KemperSports’ national buying programs in a variety of areas, including merchandise, office supplies and equipment, golf course maintenance supplies and equipment, and food and beverage consumables. She will continue to be based in KemperSports’ corporate headquarters in Northbrook, Ill. Laura Cray was appointed to the newly created position of national food and beverage director. Cray’s longstanding career with
KemperSports began in 1982 at Kemper Lakes Golf Club, where she served as food and beverage director and club manager. Since 2002, she has helped elevate the hospitality, dining and special events experiences at the award-winning Bolingbrook Golf Club in Chicagoland’s southwest suburbs as food and beverage director. In her new role at corporate headquarters, Cray will be responsible for supporting regional operations executives and general managers in food and beverage operations, menu development and revenue generation. In addition, she will support food and beverage operations for several of the events operated by KemperSports, including
the EA SPORTS Maui Invitational college basketball tournament and The Art of Food & Wine Palm Desert. Richard Carter was named regional operations director, supporting KemperSports’ golf portfolio in the southeastern United States, a region which has experienced steady growth for the company over the past several years. Carter, a Class A PGA golf professional, brings more than 15 years of operations experience at resorts, premium daily-fee courses and private clubs, including an international stint at Turnberry, a renowned golf resort in Scotland.
U.S. Cellular Field, the home of the Chicago White Sox, seen from high above right field during game action against the Cleveland Indians Wednesday May 21, 2008.
Sox scenes from Cellular Field
Scoreboard sheds new light on MIS BROOKLYN, Mich. — Fan polls and feedback with more than 11,000 race fans have shown that one of the most frequent requests for improvement at Michigan International Speedway is a new scoreboard. Track officials took this to heart and have built the newest, state-of-the-art leaderboard in the world. The incredible, $2.35 million scoreboard touches the sky at 110 feet tall and features the latest in LED lighting and graphics. Each of the three panels of the scoreboard are roughly two times the size of a highway billboard and will change the way race fans watch a race at MIS, track President Roger Curtis said. “The old scoreboard pales in comparison to what the new one is capable of,” Curtis added. “Besides being really old, the technology in the old scoreboard was outdated and repair parts were hard to find. It may be the end of an era for the old technology here, but it is the beginning of a new one for us and for our fans. We’re very excited about the potential of this board and what it will be able to do on a race weekend. MIS again is setting the industry standard.” The video panels of the new scoreboard total 3,500 square feet and are capable of producing millions of colors. The new scoreboard will be able to feature an infinite number of race positions at a time — a far cry from the old scoreboard, which only showed the topfive positions. Most race fans are accustomed to a leaderboard simply showing the positions of the drivers on the racetrack. The new scoreboard is so much more than that and will change how motorsports events are watched, Curtis said. During the race, track officials will use the score-
board to not only show the positions of the entire field, but will use a graphics library to complement what’s on track and what’s being viewed on the six Sprint Vision giant screens at the speedway. For example, while the race in under caution the scoreboard can be used to engage and entertain the crowd with track facts and fun, interactive games usually reserved for NFL, NBA and MLB events. A graphics library is being developed by Yesco, who is providing the technical elements of the scoreboard. The scoreboard was constructed by Don Bell Signs. MIS staff has gone to great lengths to ensure race fans will be happy with the new scoreboard. Staff members spent much of the day on Wednesday participating in a scoreboard test around the grandstands. Each staff member went to various seats throughout the 132,000-seat grandstand to make sure the scoreboard could be viewed from all angles. Guests of the infield may also watch the action of the scoreboard. “The scoreboard is a significant investment for our fans and we want to ensure that they have optimal viewing all around the racetrack,” Curtis said. Michigan International Speedway tickets can fit anyone’s budget. For its 40th anniversary in 2008, MIS is hosting the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series LifeLock 400 on June 15 and the 3M Performance 400 on August 17. Other events include the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Cool City Customs 200 on June 14, the NASCAR Nationwide Series CARFAX 250 August 16 and the ARCA RE/MAX Series Michigan 200 June 13. Tickets are available for all events, including qualifying days.To order tickets, pit passes, camping or hospitality packages, call the MIS Ticket Hotline at 800-354-1010 or visit MISpeedway.co
Chicago White Sox designated hitter Jim Thome watches his handy work as the baseball leaves the yard at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Ill., a baseball game that saw the Cleveland Indians fall to the Chicago White Sox 7-2 before a sell-out crowd Wednesday May 21, 2008. Chicago White Sox starter pitcher Javier Vazquez delivers a pitch during game action against the Cleveland Indians.