Cubs

Rockford won't be slowed by lockout

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Rockford won't be slowed by lockout

It's been exactly two months since the NHL's collective bargaining agreement expired, and since then, anger, hostility and little hope have surrounded the negotiations between the league and union. But for some fans, this setback wouldn't slow them down and they've discovered a new outlet to experience the hockey they've been missing.
It was a Wednesday night and the BMO Harris Center was far from sold out. But the fans who were in attendance -- whether they were regulars at IceHogs games or Chicagoans searching for a way to reconnect with the Blackhawks during the lockout -- displayed a deep appreciation for the team and for the fact that these games are much for affordable.
Whether it was participating in chuck-a-puck during the intermission or dancing with others sitting around them when Gangnam Style played over the speakers, IceHogs fans seemed to share the in-game experience with not only the people they arrived with, but also those they didn't even know yet.
"The crowd isn't as full as an NHL game would be," said Jessika Hujar, who's been coming to Rockford, in addition to games in Chicago, for many years. "The tickets are a lot cheaper, which is a plus, and the atmosphere is still the same. We're all here to see the same team and whenever the team scores, everyone's up from their seats cheering. You can come here knowing nobody and before you know it, it's like you know everyone by the time you leave here. It's a really great experience.
There are a lot of NHL season ticket holders here, a lot of those people from Chicago now also have season tickets here."
One of those people being Kristin Wolf, a lifelong Blackhawks fan who attended her first IceHogs game at the beginning of this season and has since commuted two hours to see each matchup in Rockford.
"I bought tickets the day before the lockout started. The fans are all very, very dedicated here. At the United Center you have a lot of bandwagon fans. But everyone here is very into the game."
"It's not as loud or as big as a Hawks game would be, but still, the people behind us and around us are funny, everyone's laughing and having a good time," added Laura Menne, who was attending her first IceHogs game that night. "It's the same general experience you would get if you were at a Hawks game."
Now the same question continues that many have wondered since the start of the lockout: Will NHL fans come running back whenever the new collective bargaining agreement is in place?
"Part of me doesn't really mind whether it ends this season," Wolf said. "I can afford these games and I enjoy them. I'm getting really into here and I don't want to stop coming mid-season, so if the lockout ends it wouldn't really affect me that much because I come here now."

Joe Maddon goes after Sean Doolittle's delivery: ‘That's exactly what I was told Carl can't do’

Joe Maddon goes after Sean Doolittle's delivery: ‘That's exactly what I was told Carl can't do’

The Cubs finished Saturday's loss at the Nationals under protest after Joe Maddon saw what he believed to be an inconsistency in how illegal pitches are being called.

Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle came in to close the game out in the ninth with the Nats up 5-2. After one pitch, Maddon went to the umpires to complain. This dragged on throughout the inning.

Maddon didn't like that Doolittle's delivery involved him pausing and potentially even touching the ground in the middle of his wind up before coming home with the pitch. To Maddon, it was clearly an illegal pitch and he was fired up because that's something Carl Edwards Jr. got called for earlier in the season. By comparison, Edwards' version may be more deliberate, but Maddon thinks it is the same thing.

"That's exactly what I was told Carl can't do," Maddon said postgame in a video posted by ESPN's Jesse Rogers. "There's no judgment. If he taps the ground, it's an illegal pitch, period. There's nothing to judge. You can judge whether he did or not. It's obvious that he did, or if you can't tell that then there's something absolutely wrong."

Maddon and the Cubs protested the game as a result. If they win the protest, the game would be restarted with one out in the ninth, when Maddon notified the umpires of the protest.

Doolittle was less than amused by Maddon's protest.

"I have no qualms against Doolittle," Maddon said. "He's great, but they took it away from our guy so for me to sit in the dugout and permit that to happen while they stripped us of that ability earlier this year with Carl, how could I do that? You can't do that. I got to say something."

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Jon Lester's hot streak comes to an end at Nationals

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USA TODAY

Jon Lester's hot streak comes to an end at Nationals

Jon Lester was on a heck of a run since coming off the IL in late April, but it came to a screeching halt on Saturday.

Lester had by far his worst start of the season at the Nationals in a 5-2 Cubs loss. He labored through his start, giving up five runs in 4 1/3 innings.

Lester gave up 10 hits, which matches the most he has given up since joining the Cubs. He gave up a fair number of hits in his last two starts, but was able to avoid trouble on the scoreboard. Lester gave up nine hits in 6 2/3 innings against the Brewers last time out, but only gave up an unearned run. On May 7, Lester gave up eight hits to the Marlins, but only allowed two unearned runs in six innings of work.

This time, Lester couldn’t stay out of trouble. Brian Dozier got the Nats on the board with a solo shot in the second and then the wheels came off in the third.

To open the third inning Lester gave up six straight hits. The Nats got three runs that inning and then added another in the fifth, when Lester departed the game.

Since Lester came off the IL on April 25, he had allowed just one earned run (four runs in total) in 24 2/3 innings. During that stretch, he had 25 strikeouts against just two walks. His ERA fell to 1.16, which would have led all of baseball if he had enough innings to qualify. It’s at 2.09 after Saturday’s loss.

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