Cubs

Pair of exciting finishes at Hawthorne Race Course

coalport-wins-at-hawthorne-race-course-horse-racing-slide-11-18.png

Pair of exciting finishes at Hawthorne Race Course

Last weekend kicked off the stakes season at Hawthorne with a pair of state-bred stakes races on the Hawthorne turf course. Each race had a very close finish, one with an expected result, the other with an upset:

Coalport Just Gets There in Buck’s Boy Handicap

As expected, heavily favored Coalport, owned by Kenneth L. and Sarah K. Ramsey, won Saturday’s 18th running of the Buck’s Boy Handicap at Hawthorne Race Course. What wasn’t expected, however, was how hard he had to work to do it.

Trained by Michael Maker and ridden by Rafael Hernandez, Coalport scored his eighth turf victory from 18 tries and boosted his career earnings to $425,183 with the winner’s share of $34,185, the majority of which has been earned on the lawn.

Valiant City rushed to the early lead and set rather leisurely fractions of :24.46 and :48.83. Coalport was racing in fourth place at this point, a couple off the rail.

Hernandez kept him to the outside, out of trouble, while a number of their rivals made intermittent moves to their inside. They swung a little wider coming out of the turn and by the eighth pole, Hernandez was starting to urge him on.

“I tried to get him to relax early which he did” said Hernandez, “but the fractions were slow so he had to work a little harder trying to make up ground late. I had plenty of horse and I thought we were going to have an easier time of it. I sensed the one (Sweet Luca) coming from way back but I didn’t expect the 7 (Yankee Dealer) to run the way he did. But, my horse (Coalport) is a good horse and he really dug in.”

They went the mile and a sixteenth on a firm turf course in 1:41.96 after fractions of :24.46, :48.83, 1:12.42 and 1:35.93.

Coalport won by a neck over Yankee Dealer. It was another half length back to Sweet Luca.

Coalport paid $3.00, $2.60, $2.10
Yankee Dealer returned $10.60 and $5.00
Sweet Luca paid $2.20 to show


Alette Takes Illini Princess

The 37th running of the Illini Princess, restricted to fillies and mares, Illinois Registered Conceived and/or Foaled, promised to be a competitive event and it was. This race was contested at a mile and a sixteenth on a firm turf course. It carried a purse of $75,000 Added.

R Otto Stables’ Alette, trained by Chris Block and ridden by Eduardo Perez, came away with the victory. She was one of three in the race trained by Block. The other two, I O Ireland and Compelling Case went off as the favored entry.

Bellarada went right for the lead and ran a brisk first quarter but tired badly soon after. I O Ireland rushed up to the lead at that point and stayed there for much of the race before fading. That’s when the late runners started coming.

Alette and Kepi, racing widest of all, came running late to take the top two positions.

Alette got the mile and a sixteenth in 1:42.85 after fractions of :24.26, :48.39, 1:13.03, 1:36.79

Rider Eddie Perez thought he had a great trip and was glad that he was on the best horse. Trainer Chris Block was happy with the way all three of his runners raced. He was a little concerned that he couldn’t get a race into Alette, she last ran in July, but he knew that she was training very well and he was confident in her ability.

Alette finished first by three-quarters of a length. Kepi finished second. Lovely Loyree got up late to finish third.

Alette earned $36,000 for the victory, boosting her lifetime earnings to $190,096.

Alette paid $19.00. $7.80 and $6.00
Kepi returned $5.20 and $3.80
Lovely Loyree paid $4.60

Stakes action continues this weekend at Hawthorne with Illinois-bred two-year-old sprinters the focus. Fillies will head to the gate for the $75,000 Showtime Deb Stakes while the males lineup for the $75,000 Sun Power Stakes. Live racing at Hawthorne takes place Wednesday through Saturday with a 1:50 PM first post.

Javy Baez leads Cubs to huge win with a little help from Pedro Strop

Javy Baez leads Cubs to huge win with a little help from Pedro Strop

For the second time this season, Pedro Strop has added another chapter to the legend of El Mago.

And for at least the second documented time over the last few years, Strop also helped give Javy Baez the motivation needed to lift the Cubs to victory.

On an 0-2 pitch from Mets reliever Seth Lugo in the eighth inning, Baez smacked a 3-run homer into the right-field bleachers, notching the Cubs shortstop another curtain call and sending the 39,077 fans at Wrigley Field into euphoric bliss.

"That was big. He was so frustrated," said Strop, who picked up his 9th save in the 5-3 victory. "When I was walking to the 'pen, he was so frustrated after that first strikeout [against Jacob deGrom]. He was like, 'He's not throwing fastballs, just sliders!' I was like, 'Bro, it's good that you know that. So go up with another plan. Do your thing. You're gonna win this ballgame.'"

Baez's 100th career homer accomplished exactly that and in doing so, changed the entire tone and tenor of the first weekend of summer on Chicago's North Side.

There's no way the Cubs wanted to go into a four-game set with the contending Atlanta Braves after having just dropped three of four to a hapless Mets team that is melting down inside the clubhouse. It also would've been the Cubs' ninth loss in their 13 games, but Baez's clutch blast helped them salvage a series split and maintain sole possession of first place entering a new week of baseball.

"That's the last thing you want to do is lose another one," said Cole Hamels, who gave the Cubs 7 strong innings, but did not factor in the decision. "... That's the momentum we need to take forth, especially with the series that's coming up."

It also continued one of the strangest/coolest statistical oddities of the 2019 MLB season, given that it came on an 0-2 count.

Baez now has more homers after falling behind in the count 0-2 this year than NINE other MLB teams and nearly half of his homers (9 of 19) have come after getting into the extreme pitcher's count:

What makes Baez so tough on 0-2 counts?

For starters, he's never afraid of striking out, possessing a fearless nature Joe Maddon and other Cubs players have admired for some time.

But Hamels also provided some great perspective on why Baez might be so good in a count when pitchers typically dominate:

"I think that's kinda the difficult part with him — sometimes it can always be 0-2 with him," Hamels said. "Even if you haven't thrown a pitch yet, you treat it like 0-2. If that's just the nature of what pitchers do to him — if it's considered almost always an 0-2 count — he's gonna get really good at it because that's just the way he survives and the way he lives and plays the game. 

"With him though, being a teammate, you just know that he's never out of it. He's trying to hit a homer every at-bat, every pitch. That obviously can make a pitcher think a little bit longer and maybe try to be too perfect and therefore that's why they make mistakes."

The win puts a nice bow on what was otherwise a sloppy weekend for the Cubs, who often looked flat at the plate and made uncharacteristic mistakes on the basepaths and in the field. 

Prior to that homer from Baez, the Cubs had only managed to push across 1 earned run in 13 innings against a Mets bullpen that entered the weekend with a 5.39 ERA and more blown saves than any other team in baseball.

It's the second time in just over a week where the Cubs managed to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, but the last time (Anthony Rizzo's homer off Kenley Jansen last Saturday in L.A.) apparently wasn't enough to spark the team to get back to their winning ways. 

Was this Baez blast enough to wake the team from their midseason slumber and be this year's seminal moment that we all look back on in September? 

ICYMI: 35th anniversary of The Sandberg Game, Bulls' offseason begins with productive draft night, Zack Collins homers for his first MLB hit with White Sox

coby-white-silver-draft-night.jpg
USA TODAY

ICYMI: 35th anniversary of The Sandberg Game, Bulls' offseason begins with productive draft night, Zack Collins homers for his first MLB hit with White Sox

The Bulls and the Blackhawks made top 10 draft selections that they hope will have a long-term impact on their respective franchises. The Bulls nabbed speedy North Carolina guard Coby White with the 7th overall pick, while the Blackhawks got center Kirby Dach at No.3 overall in the NHL draft. The Cubs and White Sox both had intriguing weekends, while Sunday marked the 35th anniversary of one of the biggest moments in Cubs history. 

Cubs

Sunday marked the 35th anniversary of "The Sandberg Game". This is the game that many recognize as the moment Ryne Sandberg became a household name. The infamous June 23, 1984 game between the Cubs and the Cardinals took place on NBC’s “Game of the Week.” The game also played a huge part in the Cubs-Cardinals rivalry becoming perhaps the best that the MLB has to offer.


The 2019 Cubs are waiting on closer Craig Kimbrel t reach game-ready status. In the meantime they have activated veteran Tony Barnette off of the Sunday 60-day injured list. Between their newfound six-man rotation and their now, crowded bullpen, the Cubs are hoping they possess enough depth to gain some ground in the race for the NL Central crown. 
 

Bulls

The Bulls, by all accounts, had a very successful 2019 NBA Draft night. They got their PG of the future in North Carolina guard Coby White and selected a rim-protecting big man in Arkans center Daniel Gafford with their second round selection. The Bulls front office is confident in White’s versatility paying off big time and he certainly will help Chicago get out in transition more often. White stole the show on draft night, having quite the candid reaction to finding out the North Carolina teammate Cam Johnson got selected by the Phoenix Suns at No. 11 overall.

The next step for Bulls fans will be seeing the Bulls draft picks (along with some undrafted free agents and fringe NBAers) play in NBA Summer League action. Bulls fans will be pleased to hear that the Bulls summer league schedule does have them facing off against 2019 No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson on July 8, 8:30 p.m

 

White Sox


It’s been a whirlwind of a week for White Sox youngster Zack Collins. After getting a walk in his first taste of MLB action, Collins turned heads with a home run in the second game of his MLB career. Collins gave White Sox fans a preview of what to expect down the line. Collins is going to hit for power and hopefully draw his fair share of walks along the way. He certainly showed off that potential on Friday night.

 

Blackhawks


The Blackhawks chose center Kirby Dach with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft. The Blackhawks had many options at the No. 3 pick, but they went with Dach with the hope that the 6-foot-4, 197-lb center has the type of game that will shine through in high-pressure moments. It’s a good omen for the Blackhawks that the last time the draft was in Vancouver, they selected franchise center Jonathan Toews (back in 2006). Here’s to hoping that Dach can one day have the same type of impact as “The Captain”. But now all the attention has shifted to Sunday, when the negotiating window for NHL free agents opened up. And the Blackhawks are expected to be one of the more active teams throughout this process as they prepare for July 1.