Default

Word On the Street: Peppers fined 10k

Word On the Street: Peppers fined 10k

Thursday, Jan. 27, 2011
CSNChicago.com

Peppers fined 10K

Bears defensive end Julius Peppers was fined 10,000 by the NFL for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers in Sunday's NFC Championship Game at Soldier Field. The hit (pictured right) resulted in a 15-yard penalty. (ChicagoBreakingSports)
James Johnson to D-League
Despite an impressive pre-season showing, Bulls forward James Johnson received minimal playing time in the first half of the season. Johnson has been rumored to be on the trading block, but because he has only played in 12 games with limited success this season, teams seem hesitant to pull the trigger on a deal. As a result, Johnson is expected to be assigned to the Iowa Energy of the D-League, by his own request, where he can receive more playing time and showcase his talents.

When the Bulls do make the move official, it will be the first time that the Bulls have made use of the D-League since assigning Shannon Brown, Cedric Simmons, Demetris Nichols and JamesOn Curry to the Energy during the 2007-08 season. (CSNChicago.com)

IHSA suspends 7 area high schools

The Illinois High School Association suspended seven chicago-area high schools from state competition on Thursday for failing to attend town hallprincipal rules meetings for two consecutive years. The suspended schools are Chicago's Orr, Academy of Scholastic Achievement, Best Practice, Henry Ford Power House Charter and Las Casas, Plainfield's Christ Lutheran Academy and Rockford's Our Lady of the Sacred Heart.

These schools were put on probation after failing to appear last year, and after missing this school year's meetings in November, they were given the chance to attend a pair of make up meetings this month. (Chicago Tribune)

NASCAR changing scoring system

NASCAR chairman Brian France announced on Wednesday that the racing league will be scraping the scoring system they have used since 1975 for a simpler format. The system will still be point-based, but the values of wins and finishing positions have been changed.

"Now everyone will know, when a driver is down by 10 points, that he needs to pass 11 more cars to take the lead in the point standings," France said. "We (had) a point system that's hard to describe for ourselves. We just thought this was the perfect time ... (to) simplify it so people can follow." (ChicagoBreakingSports)

Noah getting closer to return

Noah and his Bulls teammates are beginning to get excited at the prospect of an early return. Noah is approaching the six-week mark after a surgery that was expected to keep him out of action for 8-12 weeks and though he is not yet ready to return, head coach Tom Thibodeau says he is ahead of schedule.

"The next step will be getting him on the court to do non-contact stuff," Thibodeau said. "He's probably a week or two away from that. Once he can get through the non-contact part of practice, then the next step will be contact in practice. When he gets through that, then he plays. He's still two steps away." (Chicago Tribune)

Wake-up Call: Cubs best Sox in Game 3; Fox, Pace feeling the heat?

Wake-up Call: Cubs best Sox in Game 3; Fox, Pace feeling the heat?

With or without Justin Verlander, Jake Arrieta expects Cubs to stay in first place: ‘We have the pieces’

Are Ryan Pace and John Fox feeling pressure to win in Year 3?

In midst of breakout season, Avisail Garcia sent to DL with right thumb strain

How the Bears view Mike Glennon, Mitch Trubisky and their QBs heading into training camp

Pernell McPhee placed on PUP list to start Bears training camp for second straight year

Yoan Moncada predicts home run is 'first one of many that are coming'

Why this year feels different to Bears head coach John Fox: 'There's a lot of optimism'

How Addison Russell saved the Cubs' season...for now

Turning rebuild lemons into World Series lemonade, Cubs can provide hope, if not a template, for rebuilding White Sox

Could Hobey Baker winner Will Butcher be an option for Blackhawks?

With or without Justin Verlander, Jake Arrieta expects Cubs to stay in first place: ‘We have the pieces’

With or without Justin Verlander, Jake Arrieta expects Cubs to stay in first place: ‘We have the pieces’

The Cubs already have a Cy Young Award winner, someone who was transforming into the hottest pitcher on the planet around this time in 2015, and then beat the Cleveland Indians twice on the road in last year’s World Series.

So the Cubs can keep discussing Justin Verlander and trying to figure out the price point where it makes sense, what caliber prospects they would have to give up and how much money the Detroit Tigers would have to kick in to cover a bill that could soar toward $90 million. 

But Jake Arrieta showed why the Cubs might finally start to run away from the division and become a very dangerous team in October, dominating the White Sox on Wednesday night at Guaranteed Rate Field during an 8-3 win that vaulted them into first place in the National League Central.          

“We expect to remain in first place,” Arrieta said. “We know it’s going to be a tough task, but that’s kind of what you deal with at the highest level of sports. You expect to have really good competition from teams that are either equal with you or close behind.

“We feel like we have the group to separate ourselves at this point in time and remain in first place for the remainder of the way.”

The Cubs probably don’t have the blue-chip prospects – and the appetite to raid their farm system again – to blow away the Oakland A’s and win a bidding war for Sonny Gray. The Cubs kick the tires on everything, but Yu Darvish would be a rental and the Texas Rangers are torn over what to do with their Japanese star. 

This is another reason why the Cubs are focusing on adding a veteran backup catcher and strengthening the bullpen before the July 31 trade deadline: Arrieta Watch is back, taking a no-hitter into the fifth inning in front of a sellout crowd of 38,517 before Omar Narvaez drilled a ground-rule double into the right-center field seats.  

The Cubs are 10-2 since trading for Jose Quintana during the All-Star break, erasing a 5.5-game deficit against the Milwaukee Brewers heading into this weekend’s showdown at Miller Park. At 53-47, the Cubs are a season-high six games over .500, and it all starts with pitching.  

“I think we’ve got the pieces to get it done,” Arrieta said. “If there’s a situation where we can get another guy and not lose any key players, it might work in our favor.

“Obviously, when we traded for Quintana, that’s a huge addition to our ballclub. This guy’s really good. He works his butt off. And just seeing how he carries himself in between starts is a really great sign. To have a guy like that who works extremely hard and cares about the team winning ballgames – you can’t replace that.

“That trade right there in itself is one that’s going to pay huge dividends for this ballclub, not only for this year, but for the next couple years. But we’re a great team right now, and I think we have the pieces to get it done.”  

Arrieta was on cruise control until Yoan Moncada launched his 98th and final pitch – an 0-2 curveball – 409 feet over the center-field wall with two outs in the seventh inning. Arrieta only allowed those two hits, giving up two runs and finishing with five strikeouts against two walks, continuing the correction super-agent Scott Boras predicted when the Chicago media and Cubs fans wondered about his flashes of diminished velocity and spikes in hard contact during a free-agency push.

Arrieta has methodically put together 10 wins and three straight quality starts after the All-Star break, chopping his ERA down from 5.44 in the middle of May to 4.03. Ricky Renteria’s White Sox are obviously tanking for the future and there are a lot of conditions attached to this statement: 

But if Arrieta pitches like this, Jon Lester continues to be one of the best big-game pitchers of his generation, Quintana excels in a pennant race and Kyle Hendricks regains his feel and rhythm after six-plus weeks on the disabled list, then the Cubs might have a better playoff rotation than the one that ended the 108-year drought.     

“We’re feelin’ it,” Arrieta said, thinking back to last summer, when Theo Epstein’s front office added 100-mph closer Aroldis Chapman to a team with close to a 99-percent chance of making the playoffs. “I remember last year we were in this clubhouse around this same time, and it’s no different.” 

Look at the competition: The Washington Nationals might be forced into adding a frontline starter now that Stephen Strasburg is headed to the 10-day disabled list with a nerve impingement in his right forearm. The Los Angeles Dodgers are hoping a strained lower back won’t stop Clayton Kershaw from making a few tune-up starts in September before becoming their Game 1 starter in October.

With or without Verlander, the Cubs are ramping up to defend their title.

“I’m going to continue to get stronger as the year progresses,” Arrieta said. “I feel like my best baseball, my best pitching, is still ahead of me. And I’m ready for it.”