The weight - and the waiting - for the Blackhawks and the NHL

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The weight - and the waiting - for the Blackhawks and the NHL

The Blackhawks announced Monday that the Sept. 22 Training Camp Festival which officially opens the preseason at the United Center, is sold out.

The team also put tickets for its three preseason home games on sale. Now the question becomes whether all that plays out on time.

We're not any closer to knowing how things stand on the labor front, five weeks after the players gathered downtown ahead of negotiations with league management. The owners' initial proposal a couple of weeks later was drastic -- with 11 percent in revenues amounting to 450 million shifting their way. We're still waiting to hear the union's counteroffer.

Executive Director Donald Fehr returns to the bargaining table Wednesday after spending the last several days meeting with players in Russia and Europe. He says the Association is sifting through 76,000 pages (!) in documents before they can submit something. Glad I'm not the one reading that. You should be, too.

Yes, there's still time. But in about five weeks, players will start needing to know if they should plan on traveling to their cities of employment, and if negotiations continue while camps open after the exisiting CBA expires Sept. 15. As a result of all this weight that will grow heavier as each week passes, the transaction wire is at a virtual standstill, and will likely stay that way.

In Chicago, impatient fans wanting Stan Bowman to do something will probably be disappointed. I still believe the vice president and general manager has a move or two he's open to making down the road. He has pieces he can -- and very well might be willing to -- move. But the combination of the quiet, less-urgent landscape and his (correct) insistence not to make some move just for the sake of making one that won't benefit the club is part of the gridlock, like it or not.

There are those who think the Hawks are willing to stand pat because their chances have improved in the Central Division due to the losses suffered by Nashville and Detroit. Yes, as a result of the swings and misses by the Predators and Red Wings, St. Louis and the Blackhawks are generally considered the division favorites as we speak. The Blues haven't made any additions of note, either.

Look around the West. Based on what changes have taken place thus far, Minnesota's about the only team with a legitimate chance to jump into the top eight. An argument could be made for a maturing Colorado squad, and who knows when it will all come together for that loaded, but green group out in Edmonton that needs more answers in its own end. Dallas made some curious moves, but might be worse. I know they'll probably be easier for the Blackhawks to face than the team they had the last couple of years.

Vancouver added a nice piece in Jason Garrison, but not much beyond that, and still has the Bobby Lu Headache. San Jose hasn't really done anything, Phoenix seems to be worse, and odds say the Kings won't repeat.

It's not getting late yet in the labor negotiations, but it's not exactly early, either. But it is even earlier to draw judgments at this point on the makeup of the 2012-13 Blackhawks squad, and others.

With only one move of note, their standing has actually improved in their conference based on what's happened around them. But I don't think they're done, nor are others. Everyone calling the shots just seems to be sitting tight right now until there's more clarity on the much bigger issue this league faces.

I'll have more on this Blackhawks roster specifically later in the week.

Chris Sale cruises as White Sox top Blue Jays

Chris Sale cruises as White Sox top Blue Jays

Chris Sale delivered exactly what the White Sox needed in more ways than one. 

The ace left-hander fired eight strong innings to pace the White Sox to a 4-2 win Sunday afternoon in front of 28,345 at U.S. Cellular Field. The win earned the White Sox their first back-to-back series victories since late April and saved a banged-up bullpen that’s been used plenty over the last week. 

Sale scattered five hits and two walks and was the recipient of some solid defense behind him. Right fielder Adam Eaton threw out Josh Donaldson at second base in the first inning when the reigning American League MVP tried to stretch a line drive off the wall into a double, and a sterling double play turned by third baseman Tyler Saladino and second baseman Brett Lawrie erased a Donaldson single in the seventh. 

Troy Tulowitzki and Junior Lake both blasted solo home runs in the top of the eighth, but that was the only damage Toronto was able to inflict against Sale. 

The 27-year-old only sprinkled six strikeouts throughout the afternoon as he efficiently pounded the strike zone. 67 of his 99 pitches were for strikes as Sale became baseball’s 13-game winner on Sunday. 

Eaton’s sacrifice bunt in the third scored Saladino to plate the White Sox first run in the third, and Melky Cabrera’s RBI single later in the inning brought home another tally. Cabrera finished the day with three hits, raising his season slash line to .297/.348/.467. 

Tim Anderson led off the bottom of the fifth with a solo home run — his third of the season and second in as many days — and Eaton scored on a wild pitch from Blue Jays starter Marcus Stroman four batters later. 

J.B. Shuck’s eighth-inning solo home run provided a much-needed insurance run with longball threats in Donaldson and Edwin Encarnacion looming in the top of the ninth. With a three-run lead, closer David Robertson breezed through a scoreless inning to earn his 20th save of the season.

Cubs drop series finale with Marlins, lose for sixth time in seven games

Cubs drop series finale with Marlins, lose for sixth time in seven games

MIAMI — Jose Fernandez delivered another gem at Marlins Park, allowing one run in seven innings and striking out 13 on Sunday to help Miami beat the faltering Cubs, 6-1.

The Marlins won three of four from the injury-depleted Cubs, who went 1-6 for the week but still have baseball's best record.

Fernandez improved his career record at home to 24-1 with a 1.48 ERA, and this year the right-hander has been pretty good everywhere — he's 10-3 with a 2.28 ERA and 138 strikeouts.

Giancarlo Stanton doubled and scored the go-ahead run in the sixth for the Marlins, who went 7-3 on their homestand. At 41-35, they're six games above .500 for the first time since June 2012, their first season in Marlins Park.

Cubs' Jake Arrieta will get tattooed after losing bet to Tommy La Stella

Cubs' Jake Arrieta will get tattooed after losing bet to Tommy La Stella

Jake Arrieta is heading to a tattoo parlor near you.

The Cubs ace and reigning National League Cy Young Award winner bet on the outcome of a few College World Series games with teammate Tommy La Stella and lost, meaning he's slated to get a new tattoo, according to a report from ESPN.com's Jesse Rogers.

Arrieta's alma mater, TCU, tangled with La Stella's school, Coastal Carolina, and it was the Chanticleers defeating the Horned Frogs in a pair of games this week, ending the CWS run of Arrieta's former squad.

As the loser, Arrieta will get a Coastal Carolina tattoo.

La Stella isn't walking away unscathed, though. TCU did take one game earlier in the week, meaning La Stella will have to dress up as TCU's mascot, Super Frog.