Fire lose Gargan in Phase 2 of draft


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.

Bears Talk Podcast: What's next for Bears at QB after Brian Hoyer suffers broken arm?


Bears Talk Podcast: What's next for Bears at QB after Brian Hoyer suffers broken arm?

Lance Briggs, Alex Brown and Jim Miller break down where the Bears go at QB following Brian Hoyer’s injury and evaluate the defense’s gutsy performance on Thursday night against the Packers despite numerous injuries. Plus, a look at the big picture and who can help the Bears down the road.

Check out the latest edition of the Bears Talk Podcast here:

Anthony Rizzo/Javier Baez antics show how this Cubs team doesn’t feel the same weight of history

Anthony Rizzo/Javier Baez antics show how this Cubs team doesn’t feel the same weight of history

LOS ANGELES – Within minutes of the last out on Thursday night at Dodger Stadium, ESPN’s @SportsCenter account sent out a photo of Moises Alou at the Wrigley Field wall to more than 30 million Twitter followers: “The last time the Cubs were up 3-2 in an NLCS was Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS vs. the Marlins. Most remember it as ‘the Bartman Game.’”

As Kerry Wood once said: “Irrelevant, dude.”
Look, the Cubs still need to find a way to beat either Clayton Kershaw or Rich Hill this weekend, with Kenley Jansen resting and waiting for the multiple-inning saves. The obligatory description for Kershaw is “the best pitcher on the planet.” Hill’s lefty curveball – and “the perceptual velocity” of his fastball – freezes hitters. Jansen has a mystical cutter reminiscent of the great Mariano Rivera. The top-heavy part of this Los Angeles playoff pitching staff has held the Cubs to zero runs in 16.1 innings.

But until proven otherwise, forget about this idea of a Cubs team weighed down by the history of a franchise that hasn’t played in the World Series since 1945.

Just look at Javier Baez getting in Anthony Rizzo’s airspace during Game 5, the human-highlight-film second baseman standing right next to the All-Star first baseman as he caught a Kike Hernandez pop-up for the second out of the third inning.

It didn’t matter that this was a 1-0 game and MVP-ballot players Justin Turner and Corey Seager were coming up. This is what the 2016 Cubs do. Rizzo caught the ball, quickly flipped it underhand and it bounced off Baez’s chest – in front of a sellout crowd of 54,449 and a national Fox Sports 1 audience.

“We always mess around,” Rizzo said at his locker inside a tight clubhouse jammed with media after an 8-4 win. “So I’m screaming: ‘Javy! Javy! I got it! I got it, Javy, I got it!’

“And usually he’ll yell at me: ‘Don’t miss it!’ Or I’ll yell at him: ‘Don’t miss it!’

“We do that a lot. If it’s a pop-up to him, I’ll go right behind him. It’s just little ways of slowing the game down and having fun, too.”

Rizzo is a Gold Glove-caliber first baseman for a team that led the majors in defensive efficiency this year. As a super-utility guy, Baez got credit for 11 defensive runs saved in 383 innings at second base, or one less than co-leaders Dustin Pedroia and Ian Kinsler, who each did it in almost 1,300 innings.

“Sometimes when I call (Rizzo) off to get a fly ball, he starts talking to me,” Baez said. “I tell him: ‘Hey, you can do whatever you want. Just don’t move my head. You can touch me if you want. Just don’t move my head.’

“And I told him to be ready for it, because I was going to do the same thing. You just got to be focused on the fly ball. No matter what’s happening around you, you just got to catch it.”

[SHOP: Buy a "Try Not to Suck" shirt with proceeds benefiting Joe Maddon's Respect 90 Foundation & other Cubs Charities]

This isn’t about Bartman. It’s about a group of young, confident players who are growing up together and absolutely expect to be in this position. It’s manager Joe Maddon designing “Embrace The Target” T-shirts and telling them to show up to the ballpark whenever they want and then blow off batting practice.

“For sure, we’re relaxed,” said Baez, who’s gone viral during these playoffs, the rest of the country witnessing his amazing instincts and flashy personality. “I’m relaxed when I play defense.”

The thing is, Rizzo and Baez could be playing next to each other for the next five years, the same way Kris Bryant and Addison Russell will be anchoring the left side of the infield.

This is how Rizzo introduced Russell to The Show when a natural shortstop tried to learn second base on the fly last year and track pop-ups in front of 40,000 people: “Hey, watch out for that skateboard behind you! Don’t trip!”

“Oh yeah, we yell at each other all the time,” Rizzo said. “It’s just one of those things where you got to stay loose.”