The Gift That Keeps on Giving

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

Wednesday, December 23rd

As a bartender, its in my job description to help out when needed. Whether thats to listen, take and process your order or offer advice, thats what I do, its a full service bar!

Well at this time Id like to offer some advice to some of those last minute shoppers out there. I know that it can get confusing and stressful shopping at this time of year, but I have an easy solution. TICKETS! How easy is that? You can get them online, pick the date and the sport.

One thing that I hope everyone realizes during the holidays is that, sometimes its fun to hang with the family. In fact, some would say these are the memories that last a lifetime. I couldnt agree more. As Im raising my own family, I cant help but think back on the times I enjoyed during holidays past. But there is another set of memories that are always with me, and make me smile to this day. Going to professional sporting events as a kid made me the sports geek that I am today. (Of course, Im viewing that as a positive, others might have a different opinion!)

As a kid going to games, I got to see up-close (sometimes) my sports heroes. It was magical. I was especially enamored of going to Philadelphia Flyers games in the early seventies. They were very good and the fan base bordered on rabid. This was very intense for an impressionable young mind and, very addicting. The names and numbers of every player from the 2 Cup years are seared in my brain and I dont mind repeating them when prompted, and sometimes when not prompted, like when Im dealing with a couple of hockey-know-it-alls from Toronto. Gets them every time!

But what really brought it home for me were the times I enjoyed with my parents, sisters, aunts and uncles at the games. They are a bond for us that exist to this day. Funny, since most of the other games and teams we followed had an amazing propensity for losing, A LOT! None the less, in my family, there are years of happy memories going to sporting events.

So thats why I say dont fret that youve let your shopping go down to the wire, again. Get on that computer and buy some Hawks tickets. Now, before they are gone. This team is going to be remembered for a long time. Isnt it cool when they bring out Bobby Hull or Stan Mikita? Well, trust me, its not going to be long before those names change to Patrick Kane or Jonathan Toews. Dont you want your kid to tell their kids all about them?

Or how about being able to share the blossoming of Derrick Rose with another hoops junkie in the family? I would hope I wouldnt have to mention either baseball team, since just being able to get outside during the summer in Chicago is fun in itself. But how fun is it to chant: Paulie! Paulie! Or to boo Milton Bradley? (Sorry couldnt help myself, besides: Too late!) And I hear through the grapevine the 2011 Bears are going to be awesome! (Never too early!)

By giving the gift of tickets, youll not only be able to share in some great memories of teams that will live in Chicago sports history, but create some memories that will live on in your families history. It seems to me that tickets are truly a gift in the spirit of the holidays. So dont worry that your shopping time is almost gone, a timeless gift is only a click away. Oh, and if you happen to stop at 33 W. Kinzie St. before or after the game, well, that will just add to it, Im sure.

Northwestern offense comes to play in upset win over Hawkeyes

clayton-thorson-1001.png

Northwestern offense comes to play in upset win over Hawkeyes

Forget everything you thought you knew about the Northwestern offense.

A unit that's looked sluggish through a rough 1-3 start came to play Saturday, scoring touchdowns on three consecutive second-half drives to pull an upset 38-31 win over Iowa at Kinnick Stadium.

Down 24-17 early in the third quarter, the Wildcats scored on touchdown drives of 75, 77 and 80 yards, all the while the defense holding the Hawkeyes to just a pair of three and outs in that same span.

Clayton Thorson hit Austin Carr for touchdowns on two of those drives — Carr had three touchdown catches on the afternoon — and Justin Jackson sprinted away for a 58-yard scoring rush as Northwestern put a two-score gap between itself and Iowa. Even a fourth-quarter score by the Hawkeyes couldn't close that gap.

The Cats piled up a not-all-that-impressive 362 yards of offense, but it was plenty compared to the Hawkeyes' 283 yards. Northwestern out-rushed Iowa, 198-79.

The game started in almost near-perfect fashion for the Cats, with Thorson running in for a touchdown after a long punt return by Flynn Nagel. But the Hawkeyes evened the score shortly thereafter, Akrum Wadley rushing in for a touchdown after a long punt return by Desmond King.

After a field goal, Thorson hit Carr for the first time on the day to put Northwestern up 17-7, but the momentum turned from there. Iowa scored on a short field off a punt, Jay Scheel making a great catch on a C.J. Beathard pass to set up another Wadley touchdown run. Then Brandon Snyder forced a Jackson fumble, and the Hawkeyes turned that into another score, Beathard finding Riley McCarron for a go-ahead touchdown before halftime.

But after an Iowa field goal, Northwestern's offense took over in the third quarter. The Cats got a score to cap a 75-yard drive with Carr making a highlight-reel catch in the end zone. Then the defense forced a three and out. Then Jackson scampered for that 58-yard score. Then the defense forced a three and out. Then an 80-yard drive wrapped with Thorson finding Carr on a crossing route, and the receiver bounced off a would-be tackler to reach the end zone for a two-score lead.

Iowa did score once more in the fourth quarter, Beathard leading a nice 75-yard touchdown drive. But once more the Northwestern defense stood tall and picked off Beathard at game's end to secure the upset.

The Cats looked like a totally different team on both sides of the ball, particularly after an ugly, mistake-filled loss to Nebraska last weekend. The offense was incredibly productive for that second-half stretch, 38 points being the most Northwestern has scored in a game since last September's win over Eastern Illinois and the most scored against an FBS team since November 2014 wins over Purdue and Notre Dame.

The defense deserves a heck of a lot of credit, too, limiting Iowa's offense to just 283 total yards and just 79 rushing yards a week after getting shredded by Nebraska for 556 yards. Ifeadi Odenigbo sacking Beathard four times and doing so in clutch moments, all four of his sacks coming on third down. The Cats had six sacks on the game.

Meanwhile, Iowa continued to have offensive struggles two weeks after falling to North Dakota State and one week after mustering just 14 points in a one-touchdown win over Rutgers. And the defense, as it did in those two games, had more trouble shutting down the run as Northwestern racked up 198 rushing yards.

The win sent the Cats to 2-3 on the campaign, and they have a bye next weekend before a trip to Michigan State.

The Hawkeyes fell to 3-2 with the loss and face Minnesota in the Floyd of Rosedale game next weekend.

Cubs give sneak preview of Game 1 playoff lineup

Cubs give sneak preview of Game 1 playoff lineup

CINCINNATI – Joe Maddon couldn’t maintain a poker face and hide his smirk when asked if there’s a very good chance that this will be the Game 1 playoff lineup for the Cubs.

“There’s a shot,” Maddon said Saturday afternoon at Great American Ball Park as reporters started laughing. “I’m not a cloak-and-dagger guy.”

[SHOP: Get your NL Central champions gear right here]  

So how the Cubs aligned against the Cincinnati Reds will likely be the group that runs out to thunderous cheers on Oct. 7 at Wrigley Field and faces the National League’s wild-card winner:

Dexter Fowler, CF

Kris Bryant, LF

Anthony Rizzo, 1B

Ben Zobrist, 2B

Addison Russell, SS

Jason Heyward, RF

Javier Baez, 3B

David Ross, C

Jon Lester, P