Preps Talk

Random News: Bull Market, a Night at the Tops

Random News: Bull Market, a Night at the Tops

Monday, Feb. 14, 2011
9:50 a.m.

By Joe Collins
CSNChicago.com

Happy Valentines Day! Heres hoping you didnt have to stand in line at Walgreens at 6am for a crack at a the remaining dented boxes of Russell Stover chocolates. But if you did, congratulations for being persistent. Is it just me or is Valentines Day like a trip to a 4am bar? Think about it. They all kind of revolve around a certain air of desperation:

Why am I losing sleep over this? Should I really be spending all this money? Why was I talked into celebrating this nonsense? Stupid peer pressure. And reallywhat will I get out of this by nights end?

Anyway

Here are some random thoughts and observations from the sports world:

BULL MARKET: The Bulls just went a combined 7-5 on Novembers Circus Trip and Februarys Ice Trip out west. It is the best such mark since the 97-98 season. And the news only gets better for the Bulls: four of the next six opponents are against teams that currently sit outside the playoff bubble (CHA, TOR, MIL, WAS). Of course, the Bulls do play San Antonio (Thursday) and Miami (Feb. 25th) in that stretch. But one of the Bulls biggest tests of the year will be when the calendar turns to March. Four of the first five games are on the road. The first three of them: at Atlanta, at Orlando, at Miami. Looks like they timed out this Joakim Noah recovery schedule just right, eh?

SHUFFLE THE DECK: There is still time to register for the Shamrock ShuffleChicagos 8K race that begins and ends in Grant Park and winds through downtown. The race is perfect for the novice runner because it contains a marathon-like atmosphere (nothing says motivation like trying to keep up with 40,000 of your closest friends), but the distance roughly five miles--- is a little more kind to your knees than a 26.2 mile marathon. And if youre a runner looking for a unique workout this week, I suggest the Lake Shore Drive trail: heck, the city plowed that path sooner than some of the side streets. If youre in the suburbs, try out the Swallow Cliff slides on Route 83 just west of LaGrange Road. Its like a StairMaster on a sugar high: 121 steps of muscle-building. Hey, with the weather soaring to near 50 this week, its time to break away from the poorly-ventilated gymnasium. Take advantage!

A NIGHT AT THE TOPS: It is a rarity in high school basketball when a 1 faces a 2 in the regular season. Saturdays City-Suburban showdown between top-ranked Simeon and 2nd ranked Benet could just as well be called the Halleys Comet game by that regard. OKOK, the occasion isnt that rare (Im sure that the top two teams have faced each other in the regular season more than once in the past 75 years), but this game should be a real treat for the eyes. Simeon defeated Benet in a classic double-overtime game in the Hinsdale Central Supersectional last season. This years tilt will take place Saturday at the UIC Pavilion, with tipoff at 8:45. Benet features Northwestern-bound guard David Sobolewski and future Wisconsin Badger, 6-10 Frank Kaminsky. Simeon counters with sophomore phenom Jabari Parker and a well-balanced, state champion lineup. Both teams are undefeated and ranked nationally.
READ & WATCH: Complete preps coverage

SPRING TRAINING: Keep up with CSNChicago.com for all the latest news from spring training. Our Cubs insider Patrick Mooney will be on the beat this week in Mesa and Chuck Garfien will have up-to-the-minute information from White Sox camp in Glendale starting on Wednesday. Follow them on Twitter: @CSNMooney and @ChuckGarfien.
READ: The fundamental nature of Mike Quade

AND FINALLY: Tune in tonight at 7:30pm for the Comcast SportsNet Awards, benefiting the March of Dimes. The honorees chosen are top athletes from Chicago's professional teams who have made considerable contributions to their teams and the Chicago community.

MORE INFO: The 2011 CSN Sports Awards

This year's honorees include: Duncan Keith (Blackhawks), Taj Gibson (Bulls), Marlon Byrd (Cubs), Gordon Beckham (White Sox), Israel Idonije (Bears), Sean Johnson (Fire), Ozzie Guillen (Lifetime Achievement Award), Jonathon Ruiz (Inspirational Athlete Award). The event will also present a special champions award honor to the 2010 Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks. A special preview show will air at 7pm.

High School Lites Week 9 football roundup

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High School Lites Week 9 football roundup

High School Lites featured plenty of great action on Friday night as NBC Sports Chicago had highlights of many of the area's top matchups. Some playoff dreams came to fruition while others crashed and burned. 

Watch tomorrow as the IHSA playoff brackets are revealed tomorrow on NBC Sports Chicago+ at 8 p.m. Be sure to also follow us on Twitter @NBCSPreps for all of the latest IHSA football scores and highlights. 

DRIVE: Prairie Ridge: Episode 10

Wintrust Athlete of the Week: Back of the Yards QB Jeremiah Harris

St. Xavier Team of the Week: De La Salle Meteors

Friday's Top 25 Games

No. 1 Lincoln-Way East 18, No. 19 Bolingbrook 14 

No. 2 Prairie Ridge 55, Dundee-Crown 14

No. 3 Maine South 56, Niles West 9

No. 4 Marist 42, Joliet Catholic 14

No. 5 Lake Zurich , Mundelein

No. 6 Phillips 53, Clark 0

No. 9 Homewood-Flossmoor 50, Sandburg 14

No. 10 Barrington 40, Conant 19

No. 11 Huntley 45, McHenry 7

No. 12 Naperville Central 35, Lake Park 21

No. 13 Hinsdale Central 42, Hinsdale South 14

No. 24 St. Charles North 35, No. 14 Batavia 28

No. 16 Wheaton North 20, Waubonsie Valley 10

No. 17 Crete-Monee 52, Cahokia 8

No. 18 St. Rita 47, Marmion 14

No. 20 Lyons 31, Oak Park-River Forest 14

No. 21 Nazareth 48, Marian Catholic 7

No. 22 Oswego 30, Plainfield Central 0

Mount Carmel 35, No. 23 Providence 34

Other Highlights

Tinley Park 29, Evergreen Park 0

T.F. South 21, Oak Forest 14

Glenbard North 24, Neuqua Valley 14

St. Edward 29, Wheaton Academy 28

Marian Central Catholic 44, St. Patrick 21

Saturday's Top 25 Games

No. 7 Loyola vs. Brother Rice

No. 8 Glenbard West vs. Proviso West

Cubs will be open for business as Theo Epstein weighs trading hitters for pitching

Cubs will be open for business as Theo Epstein weighs trading hitters for pitching

Theo Epstein answered questions from the Chicago media for more than an hour on Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field, but the most interesting part might have been what the Cubs president didn’t say, something along the lines of: These are our guys.

Or at least Epstein didn’t give the same full-throated endorsement of The Core that he delivered after engineering the Jose Quintana trade with the White Sox this summer, getting an All-Star pitcher without giving up anyone from the big-league roster.

Whether it’s the way the Los Angeles Dodgers dominated the Cubs throughout the National League Championship Series that ended Thursday night, the inconsistencies and frustrations during a 43-45 first half of this season or the reality of losing 40 percent of the rotation, you walked out of that stadium club press conference thinking big changes could be coming.

“We’re going to pursue all avenues to get better,” Epstein said.

The Cubs already understood this would be a challenging time to dramatically reshape their pitching staff, with Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta, Big Boy John Lackey and All-Star closer Wade Davis about to become free agents.

The Cubs don’t really have many (any?) high-end, headliner prospects left to trade after borrowing heavily from their farm system to acquire Aroldis Chapman for last year’s World Series run and get Quintana to help solidify the rotation through 2020.

All of Major League Baseball is looking beyond this winter and preparing for the monster free-agent class that will hit the open market after the 2018 season.

Meaning it’s time for the Cubs to make some difficult decisions about all these young hitters they’ve collected.

“It may or may not be,” Epstein said. “Those choices, they’re not unilateral things. You can’t sit there and decide: ‘Hey, this guy, we’re moving him.’ Because you don’t know what the return might be. You don’t know how the different moving parts might fit together.

“I think going into the offseason prepared to make some tough choices and execute on them — and keeping an open mind to anything — is appropriate under the circumstances where we have some obvious deficits and we have some real surplus with talented players who are really desirable.”

Let’s assume All-Star first baseman Anthony Rizzo, MVP third baseman Kris Bryant and catcher Willson Contreras are essentially untouchable.

The Cubs used the ninth overall pick in the 2015 draft on Ian Happ with the explicit idea that the college hitter should be on a fast track and could be flipped for pitching later: Is it time to sell high after the rookie just put up 24 homers and an .842 OPS?

During an exit meeting with Albert Almora Jr., Epstein said he couldn’t promise an everyday job in 2018, though the expectation would be more responsibilities: Think anyone else would be interested in a potential Gold Glove center fielder who’s already playoff-tested?

Do you want Addison Russell or Javier Baez as your everyday shortstop for the next four years? Is there an American League team willing to bet big that Kyle Schwarber will crush 40 homers a year as a designated hitter?

The Cubs have to ask themselves those types of questions, which could mean getting outside of their comfort zone and taking on some riskier pitching investments and sapping the strength that has turned them into the dominant force in the NL Central.

“We’ve really benefitted from having two or three extra — and ‘extra’ in quotes because they’re not really extra — starting-caliber players on the roster,” Epstein said. “That helped us win 97 games in ’15, 103 last year, 92 this year. That’s as big a part of the club as anything.

“Having an Addison Russell go down and being able to move Javy Baez to shortstop — that’s an obvious example of it. But those things show up every week for us. There’s a day where someone can’t make the lineup and someone else slides in and you’re still starting eight quality guys. That’s huge.

“Sooner or later, you reach a point where you have to strongly consider sacrificing some of that depth to address needs elsewhere on the club. There’s no sort of deadline to do that. But I think we’re entering the phase where we have to be really open-minded to that if it makes the overall outlook of the team and organization better.”

Translation: The Cubs are open for business. Make your best offer.