White Sox

Random News of the Day: Shamrock Shufflin' Crew

Random News of the Day: Shamrock Shufflin' Crew

Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Posted: 10:27 a.m.

By Joe Collins
CSNChicago.com

It is said that when you attend a game at Wrigley Field or U.S. Cellular Field, you cheer for your team with 40,000 of your closest friends.

Now imagine that amount of people running through the streets of Chicago all at once (without the beer and nachos).

This Sunday, up to 40,000 runners are expected to file into Grant Park for the 32nd Shamrock Shuffle, the worlds largest 8K road race. The run begins at 9:00am on Columbus Drive at Monroe. The route snakes through downtown Chicago and ends back on Columbus, just north of Roosevelt Road. For those who are Shamrock Shuffle aficionados, the race represents a marathon atmosphere without the knee-melting aftershocks. For some, its the cherry-on-top for a successful New Years resolution that involved getting in shape. And hey, for others, its just an excuse to put on running shoes and dress up like Lucky The Leprechaun.

I have done many of these races in the past and its truly one of those sporting events that has to be experiencedwhether as a participant or as a spectator. Its kind of like the outbound Dan Ryan during Friday rush hour: some take to the roads to compete, and others are there for the scenery. Theres always a lot of jostling for position. You try to make your moves two or three cars (errpeople) in advance and theres a general disdain for people that talk on their cell phone while driving.

(Random thought: what is the point of talking on the phone while jogging? I never understood why people do this: Hi Mom....hhhhuhhhhhhhh....doing........Shamrock..........Shufffle.....whooooooooo.......huhhhhhhhhhow are you? Are you.....going to.....the mall.....today?)

I am by no means Johnny 8K Expert, nor will I ever be. Too many 4am burrito runs have derailed any serious thoughts about contending for prizes. But I have done enough of these beasts to warrant a list of tips to runners, whether theyre novice or rank amateurs. Such as

Dont unveil new running shoes on the day of the race. Period. Hopefully, you will have broken in your race day shoes weeks in advance. You should always wear shoes and clothes that you feel the most comfortable inand are familiar with (Note: This doesnt apply to participants who don Cookie Monster costumes the day of the race. These people are just in a different league, mentally and physically).

Be sure to eat a little breakfast, but dont overdo it. The race is at 9am, so if you down a granola bar at 7:30 and maybe a bananayou should be in the clear. Nothing says pain like running an 8K (4.97 miles to be exact) with a Rooty Tooty Fresh n Fruity in spin cycle in your stomach.

Make sure to get to the race early. Much like the Chicago Marathon, the lead up to the Shamrock turns Michigan Avenue and Lake Shore Drive into a standstill. If you are coming from outside Chicago, plan on getting off the train or securing a parking spot by no later than 8:15am. Youll need the 45 minutes to stretch and to find your starting corral , which is assigned to you when you register. You wouldnt want to run to the starting lineand then run a five mile race on top of it.

Stay in your race corral and dont try to be a heroat least for the first mile. For instance, if youre a C class runner, dont try to sneak up to the A class. Its not allowed, for one, and the chance of you getting trampled increases tenfold. The runners in the A class mean business. Know your limits. And your pace. After the first mile, the pack will loosen up a bit. And remember, you are timed via microchip from the time you cross the starting line to the time you finish.

Watch the bridgesliterally. You will have to cross the Chicago River four times during your run. And if youve ever set foot on Chicago River bridges downtown, you will know that they have the metal drawbridge gratings toward the center. Watch where you step.

Looking to cut time? Dont get caught on the corners. During the first mile, the route goes north on Columbus, then turns west on Grand Avenue. I have seen so many runners get stuck at this intersection because everyone tries to hug the corners to cut time. Staying to the left at this corner is a natural instinct, but it can add a lot of time to your schedule. Remember: you will be sharing the route with thousands of people! My advice is to make a softer left turn and avoid the stampede by the curb. Ditto at the upcoming intersections: Grand & Rush (just after mile 1), Rush & Hubbard, Hubbard & State and especially State & Jackson (just after mile 2).

Stay hydrated. Even if its 40 degrees on race day.

Dont burn out early. I have seen so many runners get hopped up on adrenaline, leap up and high-five the START sign, and then do Carl Lewis-like sprints for the first half mile. Hey, if that rocks your world, go for it! Just be aware that by mile four you might end up like Clark Griswold in Vacation, when he's hallucinating, trying to run across a desert.

And dont forget to check out the Health & Fitness Expo at Navy Pier this Friday and Saturday. If you're participating, you will need to pick up your race day essentials here: participant packets, bags and Nike Technical T-shirts. For everyone else, its a great chance to check out the latest and greatest in footwear, apparel, nutrition and technology. The expo is open on Friday from 10am to 8pm and Saturday from 9am to 6pm.

For additional information, check out www.shamrockshuffle.com

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

1112_rick_hahn.jpg
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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