White Sox

Bob Baffert holding pocket aces heading into Kentucky Derby


Bob Baffert holding pocket aces heading into Kentucky Derby

With just over two weeks to go until the Kentucky Derby, trainer Bob Baffert is going into the race as strong as any trainer has in recent history. Two weeks ago it was the Baffert trained Dortmund who dominated the Santa Anita Derby and appeared primed to be the favorite on Derby Day. Maybe not though.

Last weekend at Oaklawn Park we saw an equally dominating performance in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby. In that event, the Bob Baffert trained American Pharoah made a mockery of the field. Sitting just off the early pace, jockey Victor Espinoza never had to move on American Pharoah, winning as easily as could be by eight lengths.

When the field is drawn in a couple of weeks for the Kentucky Derby, Dortmund and American Pharoah will be the favorite and second choice, but who will be which? Regardless, we know Bob Baffert will have a pair of major threats on the first Saturday in May. 

Major Player in Illinois Derby?

The field for this Saturday’s Illinois Derby at Hawthorne was drawn on Wednesday morning as Bob Baffert could have another up and coming three-year-old star. Last year Baffert’s Midnight Hawk lost by a whisker to Dynamic Impact in the Illinois Derby after a stretch battle.  This year, Whiskey Ticket could be the horse to beat. A somewhat unknown, Whiskey Ticket comes into the Illinois Derby with just one career start. That race came on March 19 at Santa Anita, a maiden breaker while going one mile.  Whiskey Ticket’s breeding suggests he can run all day and he will likely set the pace in Saturday’s Grade 3, $400,000 event.

The biggest challenge to Whiskey Ticket in the Illinois Derby could come from Cross the Line from the barn of Jerry Hollendorfer. Cross the Line has a stronger resume than Whiskey Ticket as he has won twice and ran second in the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby. His most recent race was a fifth-place effort behind Dortmund in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby.

The weather looks great for a fine weekend of racing at Hawthorne Race Course. Races will be conducted on the turf as well and the outdoor barbeque will be grilling all day Saturday. First race for the ten race Saturday card is 1:50 PM with the Illinois Derby being run at 5:45 PM.  If you can’t make it out to the track, make sure to place your wagers online at Xpressbet.com.

Potential first-ballot guy and Blackout Game hero Jim Thome headlines group of former White Sox on this year's Hall of Fame ballot


Potential first-ballot guy and Blackout Game hero Jim Thome headlines group of former White Sox on this year's Hall of Fame ballot

White Sox fans have seen a couple of their team's all-time greats go into the Hall of Fame in recent years, with Frank Thomas inducted in 2014 and Tim Raines inducted earlier this year.

Seven former White Sox are on this year's Hall of Fame ballot, even if only a couple of them made a big impact on the South Side.

Jim Thome is on the ballot for the first time. While more famously a member of those great Cleveland Indians teams of the 1990s, Thome spent four seasons in a White Sox uniform, playing in 529 games and belting 134 of his 612 career home runs with the South Siders.

A Peoria native currently working as a member of the organization, Thome was a beloved part of four White Sox teams, including the last one to reach the postseason in 2008. He smacked a solo homer to drive in the lone run in the legendary Blackout Game, a 1-0 win over the Minnesota Twins that gave the White Sox the American League Central crown in the 163rd game of the 2008 regular season.

Thome ranks second in White Sox history in slugging percentage and OPS, trailing only Thomas in both categories. He's No. 7 on the franchise leaderboard in on-base percentage and No. 13 on the home run list.

Given that he ranks eighth on baseball's all-time home run list, Thome could very well be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

Also on this year's ballot is Carlos Lee, a power-hitting outfielder who spent the first six seasons of his major league career with the White Sox. El Caballo hit 152 homers and drove in 552 runs in 880 games with the White Sox, finishing 18th in AL MVP voting in 2003 after he slashed .291/.331/.499 with 31 homers. His numbers were even better in 2004, his final season with the White Sox.

Lee ranks ninth on the team's all-time home run list and 11th on the franchise leaderboard in slugging percentage.

Lee did an awful lot of damage in six seasons with the Houston Astros, as well, and earned three All-Star nods in his post-Sox career.

Five others to play for the White Sox are on this year's ballot. Sammy Sosa, more noteworthy for what he did with the Cubs, spent parts of three seasons on the South Side. Omar Vizquel, another Indians great like Thome, played for the White Sox in 2010 and 2011. Andruw Jones, better known for his defensive highlights with the Atlanta Braves, played 107 games with the White Sox in 2010. Orlando Hudson played in 51 games for the White Sox in 2012. And Manny Ramirez, the legendary Indians and Red Sox slugger, played 24 games with the White Sox in 2010.

In order to qualify for election into the Hall of Fame, a player must appear on 75 of ballots submitted by voters.

After critical missed field goal, Bears waive Connor Barth and sign former Chiefs kicker Cairo Santos


After critical missed field goal, Bears waive Connor Barth and sign former Chiefs kicker Cairo Santos

After Connor Barth's critical missed field-goal try in Sunday's loss to the Detroit Lions, the Bears moved on to a new option at kicker.

The team announced Monday afternoon that it waived Barth and signed former Kansas City Chiefs kicker Cairo Santos.

Santos, a Tulane product who the Bears met with just last week, spent parts of the past four seasons with the Chiefs, including three games earlier this season. Santos has made 89 of his 105 field-goal attempts in his career and 125 of his 130 extra-point tries.

Santos was waived by the Chiefs earlier this season after being placed on injured reserve with a groin injury. He was a perfect 3-for-3 on field goals and a perfect 6-for-6 on extra points in the three games he played with the Chiefs earlier this season.

Barth's accuracy was a problem throughout his season and a half with the Bears, but perhaps no miss was bigger than what happened Sunday. After Mitch Trubisky drove the Bears into position for a game-tying field goal, Barth's 46-yard attempt with eight seconds left was far right, and the Bears lost the game 27-24.

In two seasons with the Bears, Barth missed 10 field-goal tries in 26 games. He was 11-for-16 so far in 2017 after going 18-for-23 in 2016.