Bulls

Garza: Cubs fans should show Soriano some respect

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Garza: Cubs fans should show Soriano some respect

The television cameras were peeling away from Matt Garzas locker late Monday night when he was asked a question about Alfonso Soriano.

Garza spit out almost 200 words in 68 seconds while defending his teammate. That shows you what they think of the 136 million man inside that clubhouse.

Some 48 hours after the boos rang out at Wrigley Field, there was no doubt about this one. Soriano hammered a ball 440 feet to straightaway center on the South Side.

The Cubs exploded for a 12-3 victory over the White Sox, and Garza got the win at U.S Cellular Field. But the hyperactive pitcher would much rather talk about Soriano, whos hit all 13 of his homers since May 15, while hobbling around on a bad left knee at the age of 36.

Hes played his tail off and that doesnt get as much respect as it deserves, Garza said. Hes a guy who freaking day in and day out, no matter whats going on with him, hes asking to be in that lineup. When hes not, hes pissed. Thats something the young guys need to look to. The guys a workhorse, man.

Hes going to give it all every time out. I get pissed off when the fans treat him the way they do. Thats ridiculous. The guys doing everything he can.

I love the guy to death, so Ill back him to the end. Hes a great dude (and) I love having him in the lineup. He cares so much about what he does and takes a lot of pride in his craft, and thats a lot of respect right there. He deserves a lot more respect from the fans than what hes getting.

Sorianos eight-year contract a win one for Tribune Co. indulgence that wasnt all on former general manager Jim Hendry remains a lightning rod for a 23-42 team.

All the anger and frustration came pouring out on Saturday night, when Soriano blasted a rocket line drive at Boston Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks.

Soriano stood at home plate with the bat in his hands while Middlebrooks dropped the ball and barely moved out of the box before the throw to first.

When you give somebody the amount of money they give him, fans expect him to be 28 forever, Garza said. Im sorry, but time catches up, and for this guy to still be doing what he does, thats amazing. Its outstanding.

Not a lot of guys deserve trying to keep doing what he does. Theres very few, and the few that do it, theyre well-respected, and this guy catches grief.

They need to stop seeing what they see and just look at the man himself.

For the record, Sorianos boss had no problem with that split-second reaction. Like a smooth politician, Cubs president Theo Epstein triangulated his position.

Its one of those things in baseball where its hard from the stands to see exactly what happened on a certain play, Epstein said. I like that our fans hold our players accountable, to play hard and play the game the right way. But I also think its going to be hard to sort of be on the right side of the line every time.

Our fans know, because theyve watched Sori play all year, that hes been hustling from Opening Day on, giving a great effort. So it was an unfortunate break, an unfortunate sort of natural reaction. I think if you asked our fans to grade out Soris hustle on a whole this year, he would get very high marks, as he would from us.

But theres little doubt that Epstein wouldnt mind chipping in to unload Sorianos contract, which runs through 2014 and still has more than 45 million remaining.

Soriano stretched and rode the bike to keep his body warm, again showing that he could be an intriguing designated hitter, the spot where hes batting .387 with seven homers in 23 career games.

Covered in sweat, Soriano was still wearing weightlifting gloves when he walked back toward his locker, the end of another day in the big leagues.

I feel great, Soriano said. Big win tonight for us. Im happy.

Three Things to Watch: Bulls dance with Warriors

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Three Things to Watch: Bulls dance with Warriors

Is there any better way to break in your new Black Friday television than Bulls-Warriors tonight? We think not. Coverage starts at 9 p.m. with Bulls Pregame Live, and the game is also available to stream via the NBC Sports app

Here are three things to keep your eye on: 

1. Not the score. Let's be honest: the Bulls probably won't sneak out a win at the Oracle. In fact, ESPN's matchup predictor only gives Fred Hoiberg's young squad a 2.9 percent chance to come up victorious. UIC has three times better odds against juggernaut Kentucky at Rupp Arena on Sunday, in case you needed some context.  

With the talent gap in mind, though, it will be important for the Bulls to come out with high energy. The Warriors will likely take the contest lightly in the first half, so starting off strong reflects well on the coaching staff and starters. Stay within 10 points by the half, and that's considered a massive triumph. 

2. Lauri Markkanen vs. Draymond Green? Assuming the Dubs start out with Green on Markkanen, this will be rookie's biggest test of the season. Green is an elite defender, capable of wrecking gameplans from the tip. He's physical, quick and athletic. 

Markkanen is coming off two duds on the West Coast trip, but his aggressiveness hasn't wavered. It'll be important for him to continue to attack even with the reigning Defensive Player of the Year hounding him. 

3. Steph, KD and Klay doin' work. The Bulls offense hasn't exactly been a thing of beauty through the first 16 games. Their offensive rating is a brutal 94.4, ranked last in the NBA. Golden State, on the other hand, sits at the top with a rating of 113.1. 

Take some time to admire the skills of Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson because when it comes to working cohesively on offense, they've set the gold standard. 

What Chicago sports fans should be thankful for

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USA TODAY

What Chicago sports fans should be thankful for

Families gather and people talk about things they are thankful for on Thanksgiving, but what are Chicago sports fans happy for now?

Raised expectations on the North Side

Got to be thankful that a “disappointing” season is winning the division and losing in the NLCS. The expectations have skyrocketed, and that’s thanks to a ridiculous nucleus of bats and a steady front office. Not many clubs can say that. Also, though, it’s important to be appreciative of the Wrigley bar stretch. They may charge $8 for a Miller Lite, but it’s always a damn good party.

Javy tags, too. Don't forget Javy tags.

Rebuild sparking hope in White Sox fans

Where to begin? Obviously, be thankful for the plethora of young talent that will soon take over the South Side. Be thankful for Avi Time (while you still can). Be thankful that taking your friends or family to a game won’t cause you to take out a second mortgage. Be thankful for the 2020 World Series and, of course, 2020 MVP Eloy Jimenez. But most importantly, be thankful that Rick Hahn’s phone stays buzzing.

Eddie O back in the booth for the Blackhawks

The Blackhawks are having a rough start to the season, but at least Eddie Olczyk is back in the booth. The longtime Blackhawks broadcaster returned to the booth on Oct. 18 after missing time while undergoing chemotherapy treatments for colon cancer.

With some of the key names from the Blackhawks’ title runs either leaving or being unable to play this season (in the case of Marian Hossa), Blackhawks fans are probably thankful to see a familiar face and hear a familiar voice during games.

Lauri Markkanen leading the Bulls rebuild

OK, there’s not much to be thankful for about the current Bulls team. At 3-13, the Bulls are tied for the fewest wins in the NBA (maybe in the long-term that’s something to be thankful for as well). However, Zach LaVine’s pending debut after his eventual return from injury should help create some excitement.

The thing Bulls fans really should be thankful for this year is the play of rookie Lauri Markkanen. The 20-year-old leads the team in scoring (14.6 points per game) and rebounds (8.3 per game) while shooting at a high percentage (34.2 percent on threes and 50.6 percent on twos). It’s only the beginning of the Bulls’ rebuild, but Markkanen is a good start.

Mitchapalooza

If a few things broke the Bears’ way, Chicagoans could have been grateful that the team was finally out of the cellar. Instead, we’ll settle for the fact that there seems to be some building blocks already in place. Mitchell Trubisky, Tarik Cohen, Leonard Floyd and Akiem Hicks seem to fit that category. Also, some may be thankful that this is likely John Fox’s last season at the helm.

Fire ending a playoff drought

After finishing dead last in MLS in 2015 and 2016, the Fire were one of the most improved teams in the league in 2017. After posting the third best record in the league, the Fire made a first playoff appearance since 2012.

The playoff run didn’t last long with the Fire losing a play-in game at home, but the arrival of Bastian Schweinsteiger and the league’s leading goal-scorer, Nemanja Nikolic, helped fill the stadium with six sellouts and gave Fire fans something to cheer for.