White Sox

Blackhawks return to Stanley Cup Playoffs action this week on CSN

Blackhawks return to Stanley Cup Playoffs action this week on CSN

First Round Coverage vs. Nashville Predators Begins WEDNESDAY NIGHT (Apr. 15) beginning at 5:30 PM CT; Face-off at 7:30 PM featuring Pat Foley and Eddie Olczyk with the game call!

Comcast SportsNet to Air Games 1, 2 & 4 in the Chicago Market (and Games 5 & 7 if nec.);

CSNChicago.com to provide LIVE video stream of EVERY Blackhawks post-game press conference, plus exclusive behind-the-scenes video from team practices and post-game reports from Blackhawks “Insider” Tracey Myers 

“SportsNet Central: Blackhawks Playoffs Preview” special airs TONIGHT at 10:30 PM

Chicago, IL (April 13, 2015) – Comcast SportsNet, the television home for the most games and most comprehensive coverage of the Chicago Blackhawks, is ready to bring fans the thrilling excitement of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs with exclusive first round Western Conference Playoffs action as the Blackhawks take on the Central Division rival Nashville Predators.  Comcast SportsNet will be the exclusive television home in the Chicago market to see Games 1 & 2 from the Bridgestone Arena, along with Game 4 from the United Center.  If necessary, Comcast SportsNet will also carry Games 5 & 7 from Nashville.  Plus, every Comcast SportsNet Stanley Cup Playoff game telecast will also be presented in a high-definition (HD) format.

Comcast SportsNet’s Blackhawks Stanley Cup Playoffs coverage gets underway with Game 1 Wednesday, April 15 at 5:30 PM CT with a special, Blackhawks-focused edition of SportsTalk Live presented by The Chevy Silverado featuring host David Kaplan with live remote talkbacks from the Bridgestone Arena.  Following SportsNet Central presented by Comcast Business at 6:30 PM, fans can look forward to Chevy Blackhawks Pregame Live with hosts Pat Boyle and Steve Konroyd at 7:00 PM featuring a complete Game 1 preview, analysis and interviews (NOTE: Former Blackhawks RW Jamal Mayers will join CSN’s surrounding game coverage beginning with Game 2 on Friday, April 17).  Opening face-off for Game 1 is set for 7:30 PM featuring Comcast SportsNet’s announcing tandem of Pat Foley and Eddie Olczyk with the expert play-by-play and analysis, plus – Comcast SportsNet’s Blackhawks beat reporter Luke Stuckmeyer will provide in-stadium reports throughout the first round for all playoff games. Immediately following all playoff games –Blackhawks Post Game Live presented by Hawk Ford will feature live locker room interviews, detailed analysis, along with head coach Joel Quenneville’s post-game press conference and numerous player interviews. (Comcast SportsNet’s complete First Round coverage schedule is included in this release.)

TONIGHT (Mon, Apr. 13) at 10:30 PM, Blackhawks fans can look forward to a Stanley Cup Playoffs primer with SportsNet Central: Blackhawks Playoffs Preview.  This half-hour special, hosted by Pat Boyle and Steve Konroyd, will provide a detailed, inside look at the Blackhawks vs. Predators first round match-up, a recap of every regular season battle against the Predators, along with the very latest player status updates, including Patrick Kane, a look back the past regular season featuring key highlights, plus - player/coaches interviews and an overview of the entire Stanley Cup Playoffs picture with analysis on both conferences.

Throughout the playoffs, viewers are also urged to tune in nightly to SportsNet Central (presented by GMC at 10:00 & 10:30PM and presented by CLR at midnight; times may vary due to airing of live events) for the most in-depth Stanley Cup Playoffs coverage, including game recaps, previews, up-to-the-minute team/player updates, interviews and numerous playoff highlights from around the league. 

Also, throughout the playoffs, Comcast SportsNet’s comprehensive website, CSNChicago.com, will provide fans with even more exclusive Blackhawks/Stanley Cup Playoffs content including the following:

  • CSNChicago.com will stream EVERY Blackhawks postgame press conference LIVE (sponsored by Xfinity) providing insider access to coach Joel Quenneville addressing the media as it happens.
  • CSNChicago.com Blackhawks “Insider” Tracey Myers will be on-site -- for EVERY Blackhawks playoff game -- filing stories and video for each game and team practices, plus Myers will provide up-to-the-second Tweets via @TramyersCSN throughout the series, as will CSNChicago.com Blackhawks digital reporter Nina Falcone (@NinaFalcone).  Falcone will also provide Blackhawks opponent perspective/reports on days of home games.
  • Video highlights from every Blackhawks playoff game, including in-game highlights after each period.  Pre-game interviews from morning skates will also be provided, as well as extensive post-game reaction from the locker room and analysis from the “Blackhawks Postgame Live” presented by Hawk Ford team.
  • “Blackhawks Pulse presented by AT&T U-Verse,” a one-stop social media hub that reveals the latest trending topics and player buzz from Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.  Plus, “Blackhawks Pulse” aggregates all Blackhawks player tweets, along with fan tweets that utilize the hashtag #HawksTalk. For additional 24/7 team updates on Twitter, fans are urged to follow @CSNBlackhawks.
  • BlackhawksTalk, CSNChicago.com’s high-velocity, real-time, comprehensive Blackhawks news and opinion section featuring original commentary, reporting and aggregation. BlackhawksTalk is under the banner of NBC SportsTalk, NBC’s successful digital franchise on NBCSports.com that includes ProFootballTalk, HardballTalk, ProBaskteballTalk, ProHockeyTalk, CollegeFootballTalk and GolfTalkCentral. SportsTalk was extended to CSNChicago.com through the creation of BlackhawksTalk, BullsTalk, CubsTalk, WhiteSoxTalk, BearsTalk, ChiFireTalk, PrepsTalk, IrishTalk and B1GTalk, which contains interactive content and continually updated insights from the network’s digital and on-air talent.
  • CSNChicago.com’s new state-of-the-art “AT&T U-Verse Lounge” to provide expanded Blackhawks playoffs content through daily and weekly shows and segments.
  • CSNChicago.com’s Blackhawks content will also be distributed via its digital network of partnerships, including NBCSports.com, NBCNews.com, Yahoo! Sports and Xfinity.com.
  • Expanded coverage from Pat Boyle and Luke Stuckmeyer, CSN Chicago’s Blackhawks reporting team will provide pre-game and post-game coverage, along with digital content contribution and videos for CSNChicago.com throughout the playoffs.  Follow them on Twitter @CSNBoyle and @LukeStuckmeyer.
  • CSNChicago.com and ChicagoBlackhawks.com will collaborate in content creation and distribution throughout the playoffs to provide fans in-depth player interviews and features plus behind-the-scenes access to everything going on and off-the-ice within the Blackhawks organization. 

Note the following first round schedule of games and additional coverage information on Comcast SportsNet: 

CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS vs. NASHVILLE PREDATORS on COMCAST SPORTSNET 

* Game 1: Wed, April 15, 7:30 PM – Blackhawks at Predators (Bridgestone Arena)

(NOTES: Blackhawks/Stanley Cup Playoffs coverage on Comcast SportsNet begins at 5:30 PM with a special Blackhawks-focused edition of SportsTalk Live hosted by David Kaplan, which will be followed by SportsNet Central at 6:30 PM; Blackhawks Pregame Live airs at 7:00 PM & Blackhawks Postgame Live will immediately follow the game; which will be then followed by an expanded edition of SportsNet Central with even more comprehensive Blackhawks/Stanley Cup Playoffs coverage; game replay at 11:00 PM on CSN+HD)

-- IMPORTANT BULLS NOTE:  The Bulls vs. Atlanta game (originally scheduled to air on Comcast SportsNet) will now move to CSN+/CSN+HD (coverage begins at 6:30 PM; viewers urged to visit CSNChicago.com for exact channel locations in their area).

* Game 2: Fri, April 17, 8:30 PM – Blackhawks at Predators (Bridgestone Arena)

(NOTES: SportsTalk Live at 5:30 PM; SportsNet Central at 6:30 PM; special-one edition of Blackhawks Pregame Live at 7:30 PM/Blackhawks Postgame Live after the game; followed by an expanded edition of SportsNet Central with even more comprehensive Blackhawks/Stanley Cup Playoffs coverage; game replay at 12:30 AM on CSN)

* Game 3: Sun, April 19 at approx. 4:30 PM – ‘Blackhawks Post Game Live’ on Comcast SportsNet

* Game 4: Tue, April 21, 8:30 PM – Blackhawks vs. Predators (United Center)

(NOTES: SportsTalk Live at 5:30 PM; SportsNet Central at 6:30 PM; Blackhawks Pregame Live at 8:00 PM/Blackhawks Postgame Live after the game –both shows live from the United Center; followed by an expanded edition of SportsNet Central with even more comprehensive Blackhawks/Stanley Cup Playoffs coverage; game replay at 12:30 AM on CSN)

-- IMPORTANT WHITE SOX NOTE:  The White Sox vs. Cleveland game (originally scheduled to air on Comcast SportsNet) will now move to CSN+/CSN+HD (game coverage begins at 7:00 PM; viewers urged to visit CSNChicago.com for exact channel locations in their area).

* Game 5:  Thu, April 23 (Time TBD) – Blackhawks at Predators (Bridgestone Arena) (if necessary)

(PRECISE GAME DAY COVERAGE DETAILS ARE TBD)

* Game 6: Sat, April 25 (Time TBD) – ‘Blackhawks Post Game Live’ on Comcast SportsNet (if necessary)

* Game 7:  Mon, April 27 (Time TBD) – Blackhawks at Nashville (Bridgestone Arena) (if necessary)

(PRECISE GAME DAY COVERAGE DETAILS ARE TBD)

ALL TIMES ARE CENTRAL TIME

Will the White Sox make a big splash at the Winter Meetings?

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AP

Will the White Sox make a big splash at the Winter Meetings?

SAN DIEGO — At the GM meetings last month in Arizona, White Sox vice president Kenny Williams teased that the team was going to do more business than usual.

We found out later that the White Sox met with Yasmani Grandal while out in the desert. And when the free-agent catcher got the richest deal in club history the following week, it was a sign the White Sox were serious about their intent to be aggressive and make some big splashes this winter ahead of a possible transition from rebuilding to contending in 2020.

The Grandal signing earned nothing short of rave reviews, but there’s still an awful lot on the to-do list for general manager Rick Hahn and his front office as the Winter Meetings get going here in Southern California. The White Sox have designs on adding a pair of starting pitchers to their rotation and landing an everyday right fielder. An everyday-type DH could also be in the cards, though Grandal’s arrival has at least provided a more realistic internal option in the form of a multi-player rotation. Bullpen help is never turned away.

Much of that could be addressed this week, with ample opportunities to cross those items off the list, even if in less headline-grabbing style. You’ll remember back to last year’s Winter Meetings, when the White Sox filled a hole in their rotation by trading for Ivan Nova.

But with no disrespect to Mr. Nova, most fans are waiting for a much bigger splash.

It’s what the White Sox tried to get done before they flew out to the West Coast. Just last week they reportedly made the highest bid in the Zack Wheeler sweepstakes, only for the 29-year-old free agent to take less money to play for the Philadelphia Phillies. Cries of “here we go again” from the fan base — still stinging from the way things played out with Manny Machado a winter ago — were quickly quelled by the financial details, and it sure seems there aren’t any more excuses for anyone to stick to the old talking point that the White Sox are unwilling or unable to spend. Wheeler’s deal, had he accepted it, would have broken Grandal’s weeks-old record for the most expensive contract in club history.

So will someone else actually take the White Sox money this week?

Certainly the possibilities are out there. Still searching for starting pitching, the White Sox could turn to Madison Bumgarner, who they’ve been connected to since Wheeler’s decision. The 30-year-old three-time World Series champ could play a Jon Lester type role in a different Chicago rebuild. Though plenty have expressed concerns over what effect his 1,948.1 combined regular-season and postseason innings will have moving forward. There are reasons to be skeptical, just as there are reasons to be optimistic.

If the White Sox don’t want to play at the tippy top of the starting-pitching market — they haven’t been heavily linked to either Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg — then Bumgarner is the biggest free-agent pitching splash out there. Hyun-Jin Ryu and Dallas Keuchel are in a similar strata of this free-agent market, but perhaps neither would generate quite as much buzz as arguably the greatest pitcher in World Series history.

The White Sox could also get splashy in their quest to fill the vacancy in right field. Nicholas Castellanos and Marcell Ozuna are the two biggest names on the free-agent outfield market, and either would slot into the middle of the White Sox order. Neither would make for an ideal defensive selection, considering Castellanos’ ugly defensive stats in right field (which might exaggerate that reputation) and the fact that Ozuna is a left fielder who didn’t play a lick of right during his two years with the St. Louis Cardinals. Both, however, could make a big offensive impact. Ozuna had a ludicrously good season playing for the Miami Marlins in 2017, while the White Sox are plenty familiar with what Castellanos can do after he bludgeoned them in recent seasons with the division-rival Detroit Tigers.

The White Sox could potentially go off the board and chase someone outside of their stated positional needs, Hahn leaving everything on the table when he discussed his offseason approach at length last month. But neither paying a huge sum for Anthony Rendon nor coughing up prospects for Mookie Betts seems too likely at the moment. The fun thing about the Winter Meetings, though, is what seems likely or unlikely can change in an instant.

Speaking of trades, while Hahn signaled the White Sox have little interest in dealing their prized prospects for short-term gain, that market could provide opportunities for heretofore unmentioned splashes. Who knows if the White Sox have any interest in the biggest names being speculated about — Betts, Francisco Lindor, Kris Bryant, etc. — but they’ve reportedly been chatting with the Los Angeles Dodgers about Joc Pederson. After supposedly trying and failing to get him in a trade last winter, his arrival on the South Side would probably be splashy enough, considering he had a career year at the dish in 2019 that included 36 home runs.

After last year’s Machado and Bryce Harper bonanzas, expectations have been raised. After the collective breakout of so many of the White Sox core players in 2019, expectations have been raised. The White Sox seem to have the ingredients to make their long-awaited transition from rebuilding to contending in 2020. Money allocated for free agents is one of those ingredients. While there’s more than one way to build a championship roster, including leaning heavily on the wealth of young talent already in the White Sox possession, those raised expectations have fans craving a splash.

So will the White Sox cannonball into the Pacific Ocean this week? Stay tuned.

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Bears' wild-card chances eroding after Week 14's results

Bears' wild-card chances eroding after Week 14's results

The Bears did their part to keep hope alive for a playoff berth in Week 14, defeating the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday night and moving to 7-6 on the season. Unfortunately, they didn't get the help they needed around the league to enter Week 15's game against the Green Bay Packers with legitimate post-season juice.

The Minnesota Vikings, who currently hold the final NFC wild card that the Bears are chasing, handled their business against the Detroit Lions with their 20-7 victory in a game that was never close. Now 9-4, the Vikings' have a two-game lead over the Bears with one head-to-head matchup remaining in Week 17. Chicago needs to defeat Minnesota in the season finale and hope the Vikings lose one of their other two remaining games against the Chargers and Packers. Otherwise, it's on to 2020.

The bigger blow to the Bears' playoff hopes came in Los Angeles, where the Rams moved to 8-5 with their 28-12 victory over the Seattle Seahawks. This was a game Chicago needed the Rams to lose, considering they hold the head-to-head tie-breaker and play only one more game on their schedule that seems like a likely loss (49ers in Week 16). Los Angeles' other two games are against the struggling Cowboys and lowly Cardinals, and if they win both and end the year with the same record as the Bears, they'll have the advantage because of Chicago's loss in Week 11.

So what does all this mean? Week 14's results have the Bears' chances to make the playoffs at just 2%, according to FiveThirtyEight.  Essentially, nothing's changed, even after a win. Football Insiders is a little more optimistic; they have Chicago's chances at 4.4%.

Sunday's game against the Packers has meaning. The Bears are still alive, and a victory in Green Bay coupled with some upset losses by the Vikings and Rams could change the playoff picture quite a bit. If both Minnesota and Los Angeles lose, Chicago's playoff chances jump to 14%, per the New York Times' playoff predictor.

One game at a time. It's a mantra that's worked for the Bears over the last month of the season, and one they'll continue to preach until there's nothing left to play for.

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