Word on the Street: Sideshow Bobrovsky?

Word on the Street: Sideshow Bobrovsky?

Monday, April 11, 2011
CSNChicago.com

Sideshow Bobrovsky unveils new Simpsons-inspired mask

Flyers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky has found a new way to show off for the playoffs. The rookie netminder unveiled his new mask just in time for playoffs.

And his inspiration was Sideshow Bob from The Simpsons.

On the other side of the helmet, Philadelphia icon Rocky Balboa in front of the US flag raises his arms like the champion he is. (Pro Hockey Talk)

Crains Chicago Business interviews Bulls exec Steve Schanwald

Ed Sherman from Crains Chicago Business recently conducted a three-part Business of Sports video interview with Chicago Bulls Executive Vice President-Business Operations Steve Schanwald. Among the topics Sherman discusses with Schanwald include Bulls superstarNBA MVP candidate Derrick Rose, the teams on-going domination in overall league attendance, the Jordan effect and more. Plus Sherman also posted a pair articles focusing on Comcast SportsNets extremely busy spring season, along with the hyper-serving goal of SportsNet Central. (Crain's Chicago Business)
Bulls finish No. 1 in NBA Power Rankings

The Bulls clinched their 60th win of the season yesterday, and in doing so secured the top position in NBC Sports NBA Power Rankings.

They have repeatedly won with a strong defense, and have improved on the offensive end. Pro Basketball Talk believes Derrick Rose's decision-making has improved across the board. The blog also insists that the team is "legit." (Pro Basketball Talk)

Wild fire head coach

Just hours after he lead his team to a victory over the Dallas Stars, Minnesota Wild head coach Todd Richards was fired. Richards was with the team for two years.

"Without question you look back, and there's always hindsight," Richards said. "Would you do some things differently? Absolutely there are some things I'd do differently, but for the most part there's not too many things I would change."

The Wild defeated the Stars 4-3 in their last regular season NHL game, boosting the Chicago Blackhawks into the playoffs. (Chicago Breaking Sports)

Father of Bulls' Noah receives death threats

The father of Bulls' center Joakim Noah, Yannick, said he was the target of death threats and racial slurs from neo-Nazis before playing a concert in France.

According to a French newspaper, the former tennis star turned singer received the threats in a theater in Roanne, and immediately contacted the police.

A local extremist group called Phinehas sent the threatening messages. (Chicago Sun-Times)

Chicago Sky select Gonzaga point guard

In the 2011 WNBA Draft, the Chicago Sky selected Courtney Vandersloot from Gonzaga University. The point guard was the first ever Division I player (man or woman) to notch more than 2000 points and 1000 assists in a career.

Some of her career highlights include being named All-West Coast Conference three times, West Coast Conference Player of the Year twice, and West Coast Conference Tournament Most Valuable Player twice.

In her senior season, Vandersloot averaged 18.6 points, 10.2 assists, and 3.4 rebounds per game. (WNBA.comSky)

Preview: Cubs-Giants Thursday on CSN+

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Preview: Cubs-Giants Thursday on CSN+

The Cubs take on the San Francisco Giants on Thursday, and you can catch all the action on CSN+. Coverage begins with Cubs Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m. Then catch first pitch with Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on Cubs Postgame Live.

Thursday’s starting pitching matchup: Mike Montgomery vs. Jeff Samardzija

Click here for a game preview to make sure you’re ready for the action.  

[SHOP CUBS: Get your Cubs gear right here]

— Channel finder: Make sure you know where to watch.

— Latest on the Cubs: All of the most recent news and notes.

— See what fans are talking about before, during and after the game with Cubs Pulse.

Eloy Jimenez and Ian Happ headline Cubs prospects ticketed for Arizona Fall League

Eloy Jimenez and Ian Happ headline Cubs prospects ticketed for Arizona Fall League

Eloy Jimenez and Ian Happ will headline the group of seven Cubs prospects ticketed for the Arizona Fall League.

As the Cubs project their next wave of talent, Jimenez is thought to be close to untouchable after a breakout performance at the All-Star Futures Game and a Midwest League MVP season at Class-A South Bend.

Jimenez – who originally signed out of the Dominican Republic and got a $2.8 million bonus in the summer of 2013 – is hitting .331 with 14 homers and 81 RBI through 111 games with the South Bend Cubs. At the age of 19, the dynamic outfielder reminds the Cubs a little bit of Kris Bryant during his freshman year at the University of San Diego with that 6-foot-4, 205-pound frame and powerful right-handed swing.

Happ – the ninth overall pick in the 2015 draft out of the University of Cincinnati – is a switch-hitter (.717 OPS at Double-A Tennessee) who has tried to increase his versatility by moving between second base and the outfield and become a Joe Maddon-type player.

[SHOP: Gear up, Cubs fans!]

The Mesa Solar Sox roster unveiled Wednesday also includes Victor Caratini, an advanced defensive catcher who drew interest around the trade deadline and could be packaged in a bigger deal for pitching if Willson Contreras continues to develop behind the plate and Kyle Schwarber comes back healthy next season.

Cubs officials trying to build a pitching pipeline for Wrigley Field will also get a look at right-handers James Farris, Ryan McNeil, Stephen Perakslis and Duane Underwood Jr. in the showcase league.

Jason Hammel helps Cubs sweep Pirates and surge into September

Jason Hammel helps Cubs sweep Pirates and surge into September

Another quick hook left Jason Hammel seething over the weekend at Dodger Stadium, bringing back uncomfortable questions about how much manager Joe Maddon trusts him, and whether or not the Cubs would find a spot for him on a playoff roster.

Four days later, Pearl Jam’s “Alive” blasted from the Wrigley Field sound system as Hammel warmed up before facing the Pittsburgh Pirates, with no guarantees about October or next season.

Hammel responded with another strong start during Wednesday’s 6-5 victory, completing a three-game sweep that left the Pirates staggering in the wild-card race and helped the Cubs cut their magic number to win the division down to 16.

Outside of a few extreme lows that distorted the perception of his superb overall season – 10-run outings against the New York Mets and at Coors Field and the 39 pitches he dismissively called a side day in Los Angeles – Hammel has been an integral part of the elite rotation that pushed the Cubs to such a huge lead in the National League Central.

Now up 15 games on the St. Louis Cardinals, the Cubs surged into September with an 85-47 record, an expectation their pitching staff will get healthy and become whole again and a sense of harmony within their clubhouse.

“That’s rearview mirror now,” Hammel said, wearing a Pearl Jam shirt during his postgame press conference. “Joe and I talked it out. There’s no room for off-the-field BS or disagreements or to hold a grudge. 

“I told him how I felt. He told me how he felt and the reasoning for everything. We’re grown men. We solved it and have to respect each other’s views and opinions. To carry something like that would really mess up something special we got going on right now.”

Hammel (14-7, 3.14 ERA) shut down the Pirates for six innings, allowing only one run, scattering three hits and showing the confidence that made him an All-Star-level performer in the first half. 

Hammel regained control of his fastball, spun some curveballs and incorporated a changeup to create doubt in hitters’ minds and add a different wrinkle to opposing scouting reports. He limited the damage to one run in the fifth inning, working around three walks and screaming and flexing his muscles after striking out Andrew McCutchen swinging at a 93-mph fastball to end the threat.

“Yeah, I wanted to get back out there,” Hammel said. “The last one just didn’t sit well with me. So far, so good.”

On a night when the crowd chanted “MVP,” Kris Bryant backed Hammel by launching his 36th homer and playing Gold Glove-level defense at third base. Bryant saved a run by diving to his left to catch a Sean Rodriguez line drive and end the second inning. Bryant began the fourth inning with his answer to Anthony Rizzo’s tarp catch, leaning over the wall and into the stands to catch a Josh Bell pop-up.

[SHOP: Gear up, Cubs fans!]

But the defensive play of the night belonged to Addison Russell, who with the bases loaded and the Cubs trying to protect a 5-2 lead, raced over from shortstop and made a sliding catch near the left-field line to end the seventh inning.

“This team’s going to be really good for a long time,” said Hammel, who had been packaged with Jeff Samardzija – Thursday’s starter for the San Francisco Giants at Wrigley Field – in the Russell trade with the Oakland A’s in 2014. “These kids – I say kids now, because I can, because I’m old – they’re impressive and they continue to dazzle.

“You can’t really say surprised, because we’ve come to expect all these great plays and the big knocks that they’re driving in. We’re witnessing greatness.”

After getting 22 wins in a month for the first time since September 1945, this could become the next awkward conversation: If John Lackey (shoulder) returns to full strength – and the rest of the rotation doesn’t experience any setbacks down the stretch – what are the chances of Hammel making a playoff start?

“Stay healthy and we’ll see what happens,” Maddon said. “I don’t bet on the come. Let’s get to the playoffs first, make sure everybody’s well, and at that point then you look at the group you have. And then maybe at that point you look at the group you may be playing. And then you try to formulate the best plan of attack from your personnel versus their personnel. 

“I’ve not even thought about a playoff moment once.”

The Cubs will now have all of September to think about October.