Plans for new practice facility please Bulls

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Plans for new practice facility please Bulls

LOS ANGELES In a long-rumored move, the Bulls, in conjunction with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuels office, officially announced plans to build a new practice facility in the city. The facility will be built on a parking lot adjacent to the United Center -- Parking Lot J, which sits east of the United Center across South Wood Street between Monroe and Madison Streets -- and the organization will move in prior to the 2014-15 season.

"I am pleased that the Bulls are moving their practice facilities into the City of Chicago and continuing the great work revitalizing the entire neighborhood around the United Center," said Mayor Emanuel. "The Bulls are an iconic championship team and a source of pride for our city. Their future, and the future of the West Side, is bright."

Added Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf: "Todays announcement is the latest example of our longstanding commitment to the City of Chicago and to our fans.

Investing in a modern facility for our players and coaches will help us to achieve our teams number one goal winning championships while also playing an important role in the citys ongoing redevelopment efforts in our West Side neighborhood," he continued. Mayor Emanuel has done a tremendous job promoting investment in the City of Chicago. The Mayor stressed that the Bulls brand is important to the city, nationally and internationally, and that the Bulls represent the spirit and competitive grit of Chicago. He thought centralizing our team assets inside the city limits would be a demonstration of our ongoing commitment to Chicago. We had been contemplating how to address the growing demands on our current practice facility for awhile, so the Mayors timing and ours made sense.

Chimed in Bulls, COO Michael Reinsdorf: We share Mayor Emanuels vision for the West Side and are proud that this new facility will be a major part of that vision, said President and COO Michael Reinsdorf. Our current practice facility presented some limitations for us and as we looked to invest in the teams future, we recognized the importance of also investing in our community.

Meanwhile, before the Bulls practiced in advance of Saturday night's game against the Clippers, the team expressed excitement about the news. Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau referenced the issue of Chicagos notorious traffic being a positive benefit of having a practice facility in the city, as players will likely opt to live in the city, instead of the north suburbs, which is convenient to Deerfields Berto Center, built in 1992 and named after team chairman Jerry Reinsdorfs late assistant, Sheri L. Berto.

Were excited about it. I think its going to be a state-of-the-art facility. I think it gives our players the best chance at improvement, he said prior to the teams practice on the campus of UCLA. Obviously we love the United Center and now we think the practice facility will be second to none.

The Bertos been great and its served us well for a long time, and we all enjoy living out there. The big issue is basically the traffic on gameday, so its become more problematic for us. The Blackhawks moved down there, it seemed to work well for them. I think at this point, when you take everything into consideration, it makes the most sense to be downtown and were excited about it, continued the coach, who will face a team coached by his predecessor, Vinny Del Negro. The Berto Center, at the time when they built that, I think it was the first one and it still, in many ways, serves us well now. The court area is fantastic, but I think as the staffs have grown and things have changed, youd like a little more space. But its a great facility and for us, the main thing has been the traffic and were looking forward to being downtown having a great facility. Weve put a lot of research into it, so we think its going to be an incredible facility.

Added Taj Gibson: "Its going to be great.

"Get more sleep on game days instead of going through all that traffic. Hopefully Ill be able to move downtown. I think its going to be a better environment," he continued. "That traffic kills you every day. When youre coming to the game, youre in traffic for like two hours every time."

Kris Bryant blasts Cubs to win over Dodgers

Kris Bryant blasts Cubs to win over Dodgers

LOS ANGELES – The “MVP! MVP! MVP!” chants started at Dodger Stadium late Friday night, Cubs fans celebrating Kris Bryant’s two-run homer in the 10th inning of a wild comeback win.

Until Clayton Kershaw returns to full strength and stares down hitters from 60 feet, six inches and unleashes his entire arsenal, it’s impossible to know how the Cubs would stack up against Los Angeles in October. But it’s still safe to say this would be an epic playoff matchup between two big-market, star-studded franchises, with two iconic ballparks becoming the backdrop, celebrity row after celebrity row.

As a quiet, humble homebody who sometimes sounds boring on purpose, Bryant doesn’t have a Hollywood personality. But this is also someone who loves the big stage and wants to be the best. The Cubs won this round with Bryant, who launched his 34th and 35th home runs in a 6-4 victory, an MVP-worthy season becoming the sequel to his Rookie of the Year campaign.

When a crowd of 48,609 got loud in the seventh after Dodgers cleanup hitter Adrian Gonzalez drove Justin Grimm’s 94-mph fastball over the right-center field wall for a 4-2 lead, Bryant responded the next inning with a home run off Joe Blanton that landed in the center-field seats blacked out for the batter’s eye. 

[SHOP: Gear up, Cubs fans!]

Here’s how Bryant could win it in the 10th inning, and why manager Joe Maddon will want Gold Glove outfielder Jason Heyward in a playoff lineup:

In the middle of a frustrating offensive season where he’s felt the weight of a $184 million contract, Heyward led off the ninth inning by ripping a double into the right-field corner off Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen. Heyward hustled to third base when new Dodgers catcher Carlos Ruiz couldn’t handle strike three against Jorge Soler. Heyward ran home to score the game-tying run when a Jansen wild pitch sailed toward the backstop.

But a $250 million team is extremely resourceful, even with Kershaw (back) not pitching for two months, one of 27 players the Dodgers have stashed on the disabled list, tying a major-league record. The Dodgers have cycled through 14 different starting pitchers, relying on depth and a strong lineup and an imposing back end of the bullpen to surge into first place in the National League West. 

“How about last year?” Maddon said. “We beat up on the Mets during the season, we go (into the playoffs) and we can’t even touch them. It’s such a different animal. People get hot or people get cold and actually the weather gets cold and everything does change.

“I know what we’re talking about. I’m not going to diminish the fact I’m going to be paying attention. But things change. Trends can be so trendy, to quote Yogi. So I don’t get too far ahead, because things can change very quickly.”   

In the Gym at EFT: Wide receiver skill development

In the Gym at EFT: Wide receiver skill development

In the first edition of EFT Football Academy, TF North graduate Landon Cox, who was a star wide receiver at Northern Illinois and later in the NFL, shares some tips on how to become a better receiver and be more efficient on the field.

Cox is a Performance Specialist and wide receiver coach at EFT. In this segment Cox works on a few different techniques with Warren Township junior wide receiver Micah Jones.

EFT has evolved into the premier elite performance training facility in the Midwest, where every EFT football coach has NFL experience and the dedication to helping each player reach their potential. The EFT Football Academy is designed to assist in the development of grade school, high school, and collegiate football players.

Some of their off-season training experience includes 70+ active NFL athletes, six Super Bowl Champions, six Olympics, and more.

[MORE: High School Lites Football Roundup: Week 1]

In addition, performance includes explosive power development, positional movement pattern development, proper spring and change of direction mechanics, and more. Every EFT workout focuses on improving each athlete's overall abilities like speed development, agility and mobility, acceleration and deceleration, and strength and condition — just to name a few.

Former Bears wide receiver Devin Hester called it "the best workout in the world."

Watch Cox's tips in the video above, and be sure to look out for next week's edition on CSNChicago.com.

How Mike Montgomery fits into big-picture plans for Cubs

How Mike Montgomery fits into big-picture plans for Cubs

LOS ANGELES – In their never-ending search for young pitching, the Cubs discussed a Matt Moore deal with the Tampa Bay Rays, but wouldn’t consider trading Kyle Schwarber. To get Moore at the Aug. 1 deadline, the San Francisco Giants had to surrender the runner-up to Kris Bryant in last season’s National League Rookie of the Year race (Matt Duffy), plus two more prospects.

Moore finished one out short of a no-hitter on Thursday night at Dodger Stadium, throwing 133 pitches against a deep Los Angeles lineup, two-plus years after having Tommy John surgery on his left elbow. Whether or not Moore helps shift the balance of power in the National League West, the Cubs should still have enough pitching.

To get through October. As long as John Lackey (shoulder) comes off the disabled list in early September and the rest of the rotation stays healthy. Surviving next season and beyond could be a different story, if Jake Arrieta becomes another team’s 2018 Opening Day starter, if Jon Lester breaks down in the middle of that $155 million megadeal and assuming Lackey finally retires around the 3,000-inning mark.

All that makes Mike Montgomery an interesting lefty swingman if the Cubs are going to maintain The Foundation for Sustained Success.

“I think he is a major-league starter, regardless of what happens tonight,” manager Joe Maddon said before Friday’s wild 6-4 comeback win that took 10 innings at Dodger Stadium. “This guy has the ability to be a solid major-league starter based on his strength level, his delivery, the variety of pitches that he throws. The strike-throwing ability is exceptional. He’s got all those different things going on.

“Just be a little bit patient with (him) and let him get his feet on the ground somewhere, because he’s the kind of guy that can take off if he gets comfortable in his environment.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Cubs fans!]

If Montgomery didn’t ace this audition, he also didn’t bomb against a first-place team in front of a big crowd (48,609), either, showing the potential the Cubs saw in making last month’s trade with the Seattle Mariners.

Montgomery kept the Cubs in the game before Bryant’s clutch performance, allowing three runs in five innings and minimizing the damage on a night where he didn’t have pinpoint control (four walks, hit batter, wild pitch, 49 strikes across 91 pitches).

The Cubs are in trouble if Montgomery somehow winds up in this year’s playoff rotation, but he checks a lot of boxes for the future as someone with youth (27), size (6-foot-5), first-round/top-prospect pedigree, a high groundball rate and a service-time clock that won’t make him a free agent until after the 2021 season.