Bears

Fire lose Gargan in Phase 2 of draft

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Fire lose Gargan in Phase 2 of draft

The Fire was one of nine Major League Soccer clubs opting to make no selections in Fridays Stage 2 of the circuits re-entry draft. The Fire did, however, lose a good man when the San Jose Earthquakes claimed veteran defender Dan Gargan.
Gargan one of the Fires most popular players -- was the first of three picks by the Earthquakes, who won the Supporters Shield for posting the best regular season record in MLS in 2012.
A seven-season MLS veteran, Gargan was a last-minute entry into the re-entry draft a week ago. All 19 clubs passed on him in Stage 1, during which the only pick was by the Fire. The club took Maicon Santos, a forward who played for D.C. United last season.
As expected, there was more action in Stage 2. In Stage 1, a club is obligated to offer its selected player a 5 percent pay increase. In Stage 2 the club and player can negotiate a new contract. Each team has seven days to make an offer and, even if an agreement isnt reached, the club that did the drafting has the right of first refusal if another team makes that player an offer.
The Fire had three players on the re-entry list for the first stage but lost only Gargan to another team. Jay Nolly, the third-string goalkeeper, wasnt chosen and is now a free agent. Midfielder Corben Bone pulled out of Stage 2 shortly before the drafting started in anticipation of reaching a contract agreement with the Fire.
Nolly was targeted as the experienced backup for Sean Johnson, but Italian Paolo Tornaghi got the start in the first three matches when Johnson was at U.S. Olympic qualifying. Johnson started all 31 matches after returning, and Nolly rarely even made the 18-man game-day roster.
Bone, a first-round pick in 2010 SuperDraft, has seen little action with the first team but he did score goals in a 3-2 loss to the minor league Michigan Bucks in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and a 2-2 draw with Mexicos Santos Laguna in an international friendly last season. Bone, 23, played in just two MLS matches in 2012.
Gargan was another matter. The Fire got him from Toronto FC midway through the 2011 campaign and he was an immediate starter at right back. He also started early in 2012 but was eventually beaten out by second-year man Jalil Anibaba. Still, Gargan had 19 starts in his 22 MLS appearances.
The Fire now goes into the 2013 season slightly weakened in the back thanks to Cory Gibbs retirement and Gargans departure. Anibaba could play in the middle if Arne Friedrich or rookie-of-the-year Austin Berry arent available. Steven Kinney and Tony Walls are the likely candidates on the current roster to take Gargans spot. Neither got into an MLS match last season, and Kinney has been injured for most of the last two campaigns.
Head coach Frank Klopas and his staff have already made scouting trips to Europe and Argentina in search of fresh talent, and more will come in the MLS SuperDraft, scheduled for Jan. 17 in Indianapolis.
Fridays draft began with 49 players up for selection. Gargan was one of only 14 chosen. First pick was defender Danny Califf, formerly of Chivas USA. Toronto FC claimed him. The two-time defending MLS Cup champion Los Angeles Galaxy traded to get Chivas USAs second spot in the draft and used it to take ex-Houston midfielder Colin Clark.
Further down the list two ex-Fire players were chosen. Chad Barrett, with Los Angeles last season, was the third player selected, by New England, and John Thorrington, formerly of Vancouver, was claimed by D.C. United.
San Jose was the most active team in the draft, picking Ty Harden in the second round and Bryan Jordan in the third.
While the draft was in progress the Fire was starting its fifth annual open tryout at the Bridgeview Sports & Soccer Dome. Over 150 players showed their skills on the first day, and selectors from the Fire technical staff picked 34 to return on Saturday for the final session. Theyll begin at 8 a.m., with the last group of players taking the field at 1 p.m. One player will be chosen to participate in the first week of preseason training.
Only defender Pari Pantazopoulos, in 2011, survived the open tryout and went on to earn a roster spot with the first team.

Are expectations too high for Bears WR Allen Robinson?

Are expectations too high for Bears WR Allen Robinson?

Allen Robinson was signed in free agency to become the alpha dog of the Chicago Bears' wide receiver corps. The three-year, $42 million contract that general manager Ryan Pace signed him to is proof of how high expectations are for the fifth-year pro.

Robinson isn't coming to Chicago with a flawless resume, however. His massive breakout year in 2015 (1,400 yards, 14 touchdowns) was followed by a pedestrian 883 yards in 2016 and a torn ACL in Week 1 last year. That begs the question: Is the forecast for Robinson's impact in 2018 too high right now?

According to Bleacher Report's Doug Farrar, the answer is yes. Robinson was named as the Bear most likely to disappoint this season.

Robinson practiced for the first time since the injury during the Bears' May minicamp, but it's safe to say Chicago isn't sure what it has in Robinson. If he gets back to his 2015 numbers, that would be huge for the Bears' passing offense, but given his 2016 regression and the specter of the 2017 injury, that's a tough bet.

Robinson will have an impact that goes beyond the traditional box score, and it will happen this season. Is he a lock to reach 1,000 yards and double-digit touchdowns? No, but his presence on the field will be enough to see a return on investment. The Bears haven't had the kind of threat he poses to defenses in several seasons, and his ability to pull a defensive coordinator's attention away from the running game will do wonders for Chicago's offensive output.

Determining whether Robinson is a disappointment in 2018 will depend on who's evaluating his season. Sure, he may disappoint in fantasy football circles if he doesn't re-emerge as a game-changing stat monster. But if he makes the Bears offense a more well-rounded and productive group, he'll live up to the expectations set by Pace and coach Matt Nagy.

As long as Robinson is pleasing Pace and Nagy, nothing else really matters.

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 32nd homer in 1998

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 32nd homer in 1998

It's the 20th anniversary of the Summer of Sammy, when Sosa and Mark McGwire went toe-to-toe in one of the most exciting seasons in American sports history chasing after Roger Maris' home run record. All year, we're going to go homer-by-homer on Sosa's 66 longballs, with highlights and info about each. Enjoy.

Sosa victimized the Tigers pitching staff again on the next night, taking Brian Moehler deep in the 7th inning for a 400-foot solo blast.

The homer tied the game at 3, but the Cubs blew the lead in the bottom of the 7th when the Terrys (Adams and Mulholland) gave up 3 runs. The Cubs wound up losing 6-4.

The Cubs were putting together a really nice season in 1998 that ended with a trip to October. They entered the series with the Tigers with a 42-34 record, yet lost both games to a Detroit team that entered the series with a 28-45 record. The Tigers finished the season 65-94; the Cubs finished 90-73.

Fun fact: Luis Gonzalez was the Tigers left fielder and No. 5 hitter for both games of the series. He spent part of the 1995 season and all of '96 on Chicago's North Side. 1998 was his only year in Detroit before he moved on to Arizona, where he hit 57 homers in 2001 and helped the Diamondbacks to a World Series championship with that famous broken-bat single in Game 7.

Fun fact  No. 2: Remember Pedro Valdes? He only had a cup of coffee with the Cubs (9 games in 1996 and 14 in '98), but started in left field on June 25, 1998. He walked and went 0-for-1 before being removed from the game for a pinch-hitter (Jose Hernandez).