White Sox

The Bears' moment in time

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The Bears' moment in time

Remember that crossroads in the Bears season I wrote about three weeks ago? That fork in the road after two straight losses to the Texans and 49ers? Its turned into the fork thats hovering the Bears body of work for 2012.

The opportunity to deliver potential knockout punches to two teams trying to stay in the playoff picture started well enough at home against the Vikings. But the failure to lock down that home game with Seattle has given the Seahawks momentum (and now, the fifth seed in the NFC, ahead of the Bears), and carried over into the Minnesota rematch.

The trends certainly aren't encouraging. The Bears face an arch-rival Sunday they haven't been able to beat lately. Then there are the health issues that were compounded in that Seahawks game, which leads me into one particular moment we'll have to keep an eye on as a potential defining moment of the year.

Chicago led Seattle 14-10 with just over a minute remaining, and had them facing 4th and 3 at the Bears' 48. They needed to top Russell Wilson and company, then take over, run the clock out and improve to 9-3. But Wilson completed a seven-yard pass to Zach Miller, and two plays later, they went ahead 17-14.

Fortunately (or was it, since they wound up losing anyway?), Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall worked their magic to set up the overtime-forcing field goal. Then came overtime.

Less than 2-12 minutes in, Tim Jennings suffered his shoulder injury, knocking him out of last week's game and probably this week's, too. Pro Bowl cornerback, gone.

Then, as Seattle's game-winning march continued, Brian Urlacher goes down for likely the rest of the regular season with his hamstring injury. That doesn't happen if he's not on the field for overtime - much less 10:36 of the final eleven minutes of the game.

So without Jennings and Urlacher, and with a ninth win turned into a fourth loss, the Bears go up to Minnesota, and lose again. Would the momentum - and the presence of Jennings and Urlacher for the Minnesota game - have made a difference in that outcome last Sunday?

Even if they'd still lost, they'd be 9-4 and still have a shot at the division title with a win this weekend. Winning both of those games - with those two players still in the lineup - instead of a split the last two weeks provides an entirely different outlook.

There's no telling where fate and the health Gods would've taken the Bears if they'd closed the deal and stopped the Seahawks with just 1:11 remaining two Sundays ago. I've also been around long enough to know sometimes strange things happen to certain teams despite cruel twists of fate, when there's so much on the line.

At this very moment, the Bears are still a playoff team despite everything that's happened leading up to that Wilson-to-Miller connection. They can still wind up in the playoffs even if they lose again Sunday. But those three hours this weekend could well determine whether the Bears can overcome some of the odds now stacked against them, and get back on track from a single moment that may factor into multiple off-season decisions.

NBC Sports Chicago will have SoxFest covered all weekend long

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AP

NBC Sports Chicago will have SoxFest covered all weekend long

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO TO CARRY EXPANDED, MULTI-PLATFORM “SOXFEST 2019”

OPENING NIGHT COVERAGE ON FRIDAY, JANUARY 25 BEGINNING at 4:00 PM CT

4:00 PM -- LIVE SoxFest 2019 “Opening Ceremonies” coverage

Hosted by Chuck Garfien!

 

5:30 PM -- Special edition of “SportsTalk Live” from SoxFest

Hosted by David Kaplan, featuring Garfien, a panel of White Sox experts, and White Sox players!

 

6:00 PM -- “Rick & Rick”

LIVE panel discussion hosted by Garfien, featuring White Sox SVP/GM Rick Hahn, Manager Rick Renteria, and play-by-play announcer Jason Benetti!

 

NBC Sports Chicago live stream available 24/7 on NBCSportsChicago.com/WatchLive and via the new “MyTeams by NBC Sports” app!

 

Complete SoxFest coverage throughout the weekend on NBCSportsChicago.com’s ‘WhiteSoxTalk’ section via reports from Garfien and White Sox digital reporter Vinnie Duber,

which will include even more player/coaches/front office interviews, along with panel discussion highlights and much more!

 

Social media highlights on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to include the latest SoxFest news, live streaming segments, and special NBC Sports Chicago prize giveaway details! 

 

 

Chicago, IL (January 23, 2019) – NBC Sports Chicago - THE Home of the #AuthenticFan - is ready to start up the highly-anticipated 2019 MLB season in a big way with expanded, live Opening Night multi-platform coverage of “SoxFest 2019,” which will be held downtown this weekend (January 25-27) at the Hilton Chicago.

 

On Friday, January 25 beginning at 4:00 PM CT, NBC Sports Chicago’s expanded, multi-platform coverage of “SoxFest 2019” gets underway with LIVE Opening Ceremonies coverage (hosted by Chuck Garfien) featuring introductions of White Sox players/coaches/broadcasters/front office executives, plus video montages, and much more. 

 

Beginning at 5:30 PM, NBC Sports Chicago’s live, on-site coverage from “SoxFest 2019” continues with a special remote edition of SportsTalk Live presented by The Chevy Silverado.  This edition of SportsTalk Live will feature host David Kaplan, along with Chuck Garfien and a panel of White Sox experts discussing the team’s exciting roster of up-and-coming talent, all the off-season rumors, moves and acquisitions, along with a timeline discussion on when key prospects may make their 2019 big league debut.  In addition, special guest interviews with White Sox players are also scheduled during the show.

 

ALSO -- Fans are also in for a special treat at 6:00 PM as NBC Sports Chicago will provide fans with an exclusive presentation of Rick & Rick, a special event “SoxFest 2019” panel discussion as guests White Sox SVP/GM Rick Hahn, Manager Rick Renteria, along with play-by-play broadcaster Jason Benetti join host Chuck Garfien for an in-depth examination of the 2019 White Sox, along with what the future will look like on the southside in the years to come. 

 

NOTE: NBC Sports Chicago’s coverage of the SoxFest Opening Ceremonies, SportsTalk Live, and the Rick & Rick panel discussion will also be available via live stream at NBCSportsChicago.com and via the new MyTeams by NBC Sports app available on iOS and Android devices, at no cost, to fans anywhere in the U.S. and can be downloaded from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.  In addition, coverage of the Opening Ceremonies and the Rick & Rick panel discussion can be accessed at NBC Sports Chicago’s “Facebook Live” page (Facebook.com/NBCSChicago). 

 

Throughout the weekend, fans can look forward to even more comprehensive SoxFest coverage on NBCSportsChicago.com’s White Sox Talk section (NBCSportsChicago.com/WhiteSox) featuring additional players/coaches/front office executive interviews, feature stories, fan reaction, photos, videos and much more provided via Garfien (@ChuckGarfien), NBCSportsChicago.com White Sox digital baseball reporters Vinnie Duber (@VinnieDuber), along the NBC Sports Chicago team of behind-the-scenes White Sox experts (@NBCSWhiteSox). 

 

 From a social media standpoint, NBC Sports Chicago will also deliver a number of additional on-site Facebook Live (Facebook.com/NBCSChicago) interviews and special segments throughout the weekend, along with numerous SoxFest “Sights & Sounds” highlights via ‘NBCSChicago’ on Instagram and Instagram Stories. 

 

Plus, White Sox fans can look forward to brand new “White Sox Talk” Podcasts presented by Wintrust featuring the hottest SoxFest topics and special guest interviews. Fans can download all of NBC Sports Chicago’s podcasts at NBCSportsChicago.com/podcasts and simply subscribe to them via Apple Podcasts, Google Play or Stitcher.  The podcasts can be played on any mobile device, laptop, or desktop computer.

 

Fans attending SoxFest this weekend can also stop by NBC Sports Chicago’s “Authentic Fan” booth to observe a pair of “White Sox Talk” podcast tapings featuring interviews with off-season acquisition Yonder Alsonso (Friday night at 7:15 PM), along with future pitching mainstay Michael Kopech (Sunday morning at 10:00 AM). 

 

In addition, NBC Sports Chicago’s “Authentic Fan” booth will feature a number of special White Sox-themed giveaways including knit winter hats, recyclable tote bags, team flags, stickers and much more (while supplies last).  Plus, fans can are urged to utilize the social media hashtag #AuthenticFan throughout the weekend as a number of lucky fans will be “authentically surprised” with special White Sox giveaways and experiences. NBC Sports Chicago’s dedicated White Sox Twitter handle (@NBCSWhiteSox) will also provide up-to-the-minute NBC Sports Chicago “Authentic Fan” booth activities and White Sox player appearance info throughout the weekend.

Baseball Prospectus puts six White Sox on its top 101 prospects list

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USA TODAY

Baseball Prospectus puts six White Sox on its top 101 prospects list

The White Sox have a lot of good prospects. That's not news. But just how highly one site thinks of one of those prospects could generate some excitement among South Side baseball fans.

Baseball Prospectus put out its annual list of the top 101 prospects in the game, and the White Sox are well represented, with six players in the rankings. Eloy Jimenez is one of the highest-ranked prospects in baseball, no shock, coming in at No. 4. But so, too, is Nick Madrigal, the White Sox first-round pick in last summer's draft ranking at No. 15 on the list.

Michael Kopech and Dylan Cease are also highly ranked, at Nos. 24 and 26, respectively. Luis Robert is at No. 45, and Dane Dunning rounds out the White Sox contingent at No. 76.

But Madrigal's status as one of the top 15 prospects in the game — not to mention the No. 2 prospect in the White Sox system — is certainly the most head-turning development here. The White Sox touted him as the best all-around player in college baseball when they took him with the No. 4 pick last June. After taking some time to win the College World Series with his Oregon State teammates, Madrigal started his pro career with a pretty specific amount of fanfare: He struck out just five times in his first 43 games as a White Sox minor leaguer.

Madrigal might not end up providing a ton of pop, but the rest of his game should have White Sox fans salivating. He put up a .303/.353/.348 slash line with 47 hits, eight stolen bases and more walks than strikeouts in those 43 games. And the White Sox said after he was drafted that he could be a Gold Glove caliber defender on the middle infield. That likely means a future at second base, where he almost exclusively played in the minor leagues last season.

Madrigal could be a rapid riser through the system after playing at three different levels in that short stint after joining the organization.

As for the others, Kopech obviously reached the big leagues at the end of last season but required Tommy John surgery after his fourth start. That will knock him out for the entirety of the 2019 season, and he'll keep his top-prospect status until he returns to the major league mound in 2020. Jimenez is expected to make his big league debut within the first few weeks of the 2019 campaign and should graduate from prospect status very soon. Cease could follow a similar path to the one Kopech did last season. He's expected to begin the season at Triple-A Charlotte, and if his performance resembles what he was able to do in 2018, it might not be long before he's pitching in the big leagues. Robert is a little further away, especially after thumb injuries robbed him of so much playing time last season, and Dunning is coming off an elbow injury and likely won't be rushed in any way, shape or form.

But, yes, in case you were wondering, the White Sox farm system is still loaded. Carry on.

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