Word on the Street: Cubs ink Pena to one-year deal

Word on the Street: Cubs ink Pena to one-year deal

Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2010
CSNChicago.com

Cubs ink Pena to one-year deal

Ideally the Cubs wanted a left-handed first baseman who could hit for power and improve their overall defense. They needed someone who would make a short-term commitment and be flexible enough to fit within their budget.

From the start, Carlos Pena matched that description. And in a negotiation that stretched from late Tuesday night into early Wednesday morning, the Cubs finalized an agreement with Pena on a one-year deal worth 10 million, (CSNChicago.com).

Kane out 'upwards' of three weeks

After a previous report in which Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said Patrick Kane's injury was "not real serious," the news has become far more pessimistic. The injury is now being referred to as "significant" and, Tracey Myers is reporting that Kane will miss "upwards" of three weeks. In the meantime, the Hawks will once again have to find a way to win without one of their top players, something they have become all too accustomed to this year.

"We've found a way to play without some of our top players," team captain Johnathan Toews said. "Guys like Campbell and Hossa and I guess now we don't have a choice, we'll have to do it without Kane. It's about everyone else stepping up. (CSNChicago.com)
Kid K back in Chicago?

Maybe, but not on the north side. Ken Rosenthal tweeted that the White Sox have interest in former-Cub Kerry Wood to fill their eighth inning vacancy. Wood, however, is seeking a multi-year deal worth 9 million or more; which could be a problem for the Sox who are already significantly over budget.

If Wood is to end up on the south side, though, it likely won't be until after the winter meetings end on Thursday. (ChicagoBreakingSports)

Alou to the Mets?

Former Cubs outfielder Moises Alou is reportedly a candidate to join the coaching staff of the Met's new manager Terry Collins. Alou is currently serving as the general manager of Escogido in the Dominican Winter League, where his team won the Caribbean World Series in his first year on the job. It is believed that Alou is now simply waiting on a front-office job in the majors. (ChicagoBreakingSports)

NBA buys the Hornets

On Monday the NBA officially announced that the league would be buying the New Orleans Hornets from current owners George Shinn and Gary Chouest. NBA Commissioner David Stern said that, in light of the current state of the economy in New Orleans - and the lack of viable suitors to buy the franchise - it is in the best interest of the team and the league for the NBA to take control of the Hornets.

"The Hornets have a strong management team in Hugh Weber, Dell Demps, and Monty Williams and we have recruited Jac Sperling, a seasoned sports executive and New Orleans native, to be the teams chairman and governor, with Hugh serving as president and alternate governor," said Stern. "I have notified Governor Jindal and Mayor Landrieu about this transaction and will continue our dialogue with them about ways to strengthen the franchise for new ownership in New Orleans. (New Orleans Times-Picayune)

Nationals to make 'huge' offer to Lee

Just one day after signing Jayson Werth to an obscenely large 7-year 126 million deal, the Washington Nationals may be on the verge of doing it again. Juan C. Rodriguez of the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel is reporting that the Nats might be ready to give Cliff Lee, the most prized free agent on the market this winter, a "huge" offer. While the Rangers and Yankees are considered the front-runners for Lee, the Nationals may be prepared to jump into the race with a 7-year offer. (Chicago Tribune)

Expansion of the College Football Playoff field continues to seem inevitable

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USA TODAY

Expansion of the College Football Playoff field continues to seem inevitable

There were six teams deserving of reaching the College Football Playoff this season. But there were only four spots.

But what if there were more spots?

An expansion of the Playoff field to eight teams has seemed inevitable from the day the four-team system was announced. Four more Playoff games means oodles more TV viewers, which means oodles more dollars.

And then we wouldn't be having all these arguments, either — but that's nonsense because of course we would, trying to figure out who got snubbed from the expanded bracket.

But this season's emphasis on the conference-champion debate might kick the efforts to expand the Playoff into high gear. Just take it from NCAA president Mark Emmert.

Now, technically speaking, there are 10 FBS conferences, each of which crowns a champion at the end of every football season. Emmert is obviously referring to the Power Five conferences: the Big Ten, Big 12, ACC, Pac-12 and SEC. He might want to pick his words a bit more carefully, considering he represents the other five conferences — the American, Conference USA, the MAC, the Mountain West and the Sun Belt — too, but his point remains understood.

This season has sparked a ton of controversy as the Playoff selection committee opted for the first time to include a team that did not win its conference, Ohio State, and it picked the Buckeyes over the Big Ten champs, Penn State. Plus, Big 12 champion Oklahoma was passed over in favor of non-champion Ohio State, too, actually falling behind another non-champion from the Big Ten, Michigan, in the final Playoff rankings.

With that decision brought the reasonable question of how much a conference championship should matter in getting a team into the final four and competing for a national championship.

The Playoff committee's mission is to pick the country's four best teams, and there aren't many people out there that will argue that Ohio State isn't one of the country's four best teams. But there's something to be said for winning a conference championship because if the Buckeyes can waltz into the Playoff without even playing in the Big Ten title game, why even have a conference championship game — besides, obviously, earning one more night of big-time TV money.

And so the call for an expanded Playoff bracket has reached perhaps its greatest volume in the short time the Playoff has existed. The obvious solution to Power Five conference champions continually being boxed out is to lock in five spots on the bracket for the five conference champions. Then, guarantee a spot for the highest-ranked team from the Group of Five conferences, and you're left with two "at-large" spots that this season would've gone to Ohio State and Michigan, two of the highest-profile programs in the country sure to drive TV viewership in battles against conference-champion Alabama, Clemson, Washington, Penn State and Oklahoma teams. And P.J. Fleck's undefeated Western Michigan squad takes the final slot.

That's quite the field. But if you think it would've solved all this year's problems, you're wrong. Still there would've been outcry that red-hot USC didn't make the field. The Trojans are playing so well that they could very well win the whole thing, despite their three early season losses. That debate over snubs will exist forever, no matter the size of the field, something we see play out each and every season in the NCAA men's basketball tournament.

Also, what a damper an expanded bracket would put on the final few weeks of the regular season. Ohio State's game against Michigan, the highest-rated game of the college football season with more than 16 million people watching, would've been effectively meaningless. No matter who won or lost, both teams would've made that eight-team field, right?

Additionally, another round of Playoff football would expand the season to 16 games for some teams. That means more physical demands on student-athletes and a season cutting deep into January, which would impact their educational and time demands.

But again, an expansion of the Playoff bracket has always seemed inevitable. There's too much money to be made, and at the same time fans seem to be all about that idea. People love the postseason for good reason, and the win-or-go-home nature of the NFL playoffs make those games the most-watched sporting events of the year.

Now the NCAA president is chiming in with hopes of an expanded field. So really isn't it just a matter of time?

Road Ahead: Blackhawks dealing with rash of injuries

Road Ahead: Blackhawks dealing with rash of injuries

CSN's Chris Boden and Tracey Myers have the latest on the Blackhawks in the Road Ahead, presented by Chicagoland and NW Indiana Honda Dealers.

From an injury standpoint, it's been a tough few weeks for the Blackhawks.

The Blackhawks are down two key players in captain Jonathan Toews and goaltender Corey Crawford, and now may be without defenseman Brent Seabrook who sustained an upper-body injury in Tuesday's victory over the Arizona Coyotes.

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While the Blackhawks haven't had much luck on the injury front, their upcoming two opponents are in the same boat.

"You look at the New York Rangers, a very talented team, but this is what every team goes through every season. Your depth gets tested," Myers said.

Check out what else Boden and Myers had to say about the team's upcoming matchups in this week's Honda Road Ahead