Word on the Street: Rose leaps Rondo

Word on the Street: Rose leaps Rondo

Thursday, Jan. 13, 2011
CSNChicago.com

Rose leaps Rondo

Derrick Rose has jumped in front of Celtics guard Rajon Rondo for second place among guards in Eastern Conference All-Star voting. Dwyane Wade currently leads all guards in the East. If Rose is chosen to start in this year's NBA All-Star Game, he will be the first Bull to do so since Michael Jordan in 1998.

Eastern Conference guard vote totals:
Dwyane Wade: 1,499,768
Derrick Rose: 1,225,575
Rajon Rondo: 1,171,311 (CSNChicago.com)

Cutler NFL's Most Hated Player?

There have been times, particularly after one of his trademark interception-riddled games, that Bears quarterback Jay Cutler has been one of Chicago's least favorite athletes. But is he the most-hated in the entire NFL? At least one columnist believes he just may be.

In columnist Rick Reilly's most recent article he says, "If Cutler is not The Most Hated Man in the NFL, he's in the running." The article, titled "Jay Cutler is No Teddy Bear," lists multiple incidents in which Cutler allegedly acted disrespectfully to former teammates and coaches. Because of his negative public image, Reilly says that this Sunday's game against the Seahawks is even bigger for Cutlerthan it is for the Bears.

"It's a huge moment for Cutler, if only because his disdain for making nice means everything rides on his wins and losses," Reilly writes. (ChicagoBreakingSports)

Fire Draft Defense

With the ninth overall pick in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft the Chicago Fire bolstered their defense, selecting Jalil Anibaba of North Carolina. In his senior year at North Carolina, Anibaba was named a NSCAA second team All-American and first team All-ACC.

Jalil is a stout defender who will be a great addition to the Chicago Fire Soccer Club, Fire Technical Director Frank Klopas said. His ability to play defensive soccer, distribute the ball from the back and control the back line will help us as we head into the 2011 MLS season. (Chicago Sun-Times)

Tatupu Out for Second Straight Practice

Seattle Seahawks linebacker Lofa Tatupu missed his second straight day of practice on Thursday as he attempts to recover from a concussion. Though his status for Sunday's divisional playoff game remains unknown, head coach Peter Carrol says he is optimistic that Tatupu will be able to go. (ChicagoBreakingSports)

Broncos Hire Fox

The Denver Broncos have hired former Carolina Panthers head coach John Fox to fill their head coaching vacancy. Despite a disappointing 2-14 final season in Carolina, Fox did have measured success with the Panthers, compiling a 78-74 record - including the playoffs - over nine seasons. (AFP)

Beckham Drama-Free Year

After a 2010 season filled with drama surrounding a feud between White Sox general manager Kenny Williams and manager Ozzie Guillen as well as the trade for the notoriously-drama-prone Manny Ramirez, Sox second basemen Gordon Beckham is looking forward to a distraction-free season.

"We want to go out there and compete, we don't want outside drama to fill our locker room this year," Beckham said Thursday during a conference call. "We're going to try this year to thoroughly concentrate on baseball." (ChicagoBreakingSports)

Favre's Sister Arrested on Meth Charge

What has been a rough few months for the Favre family appears to be getting even worse as Brett Favre's sister, Brandi Favre, has been arrested on charges of manufacturing methamphetamine and producing hazardous waste as a byproduct. This comes at the same time as Brett Favre is facing sexual harassment lawsuits.

If convicted, Brandi Favre could face up to 1 million in fines and up to 30 years in prison on each count. (ABC News)

Wake-up Call: Cubs surge into first place; White Sox continue slide

Wake-up Call: Cubs surge into first place; White Sox continue slide

Here are some of Sunday's top stories in Chicago sports:

Willson Contreras is playing his butt off right now for first-place Cubs

Confident Blackhawks youth ready to take the next step

Bears training camp preview: 3 burning questions for coaching staff

White Sox: The big-picture reasoning behind Rick Renteria and bunting

Jose Quintana reveling in first place vibes after 'overexcited' home Cubs debut

What White Sox 'fireman' Anthony Swarzak has done to increase trade value

Go behind the scenes with Kendall Gill at The Big 3 in Chicago

33 Days to Kickoff: Westmont

Willson Contreras is playing his butt off right now for first-place Cubs

Willson Contreras is playing his butt off right now for first-place Cubs

This really is becoming Willson Contreras' team.

The dude is absolutely on fire right now and has almost singlehandedly lifted the Cubs back into first place.

Since the All-Star Break, Contreras has crushed four homers and three doubles while driving in 11 runs in just eight games. 

The Cubs have won seven of those games, including Sunday night when Contreras' two-run shot in the sixth inning turned out to be the game-winner that pushed the Cubs into a first-place tie with the Milwaukee Brewers. (The Cubs also won the only game Contreras hasn't started since the Break.)

In the span of nine games, the Cubs have already erased the 5.5 game deficit they had in the National League Central entering the midseason break.

"He's just playing his butt off, literally, right now," Joe Maddon said. "Everything he's doing is pretty darn good. He plays with enthusiasm, also. You gotta feel that in the stands.

"There's some times he might get over-enthusiastic. I prefer toning people down as opposed to pumping them up all the time. He's doing everything. He's hitting fourth, he's catching, he's handling a really good pitching staff, he's throwing people out, he's blocking the ball really well and he's hitting homers, so God bless him."

Contreras' offense has been amazing, but Maddon credits the young catcher's block on a Wade Davis pitch in the dirt last week in Atlanta with helping to save the season. That play helped ensure a victory by not permitting the tying run to score from third base as the Cubs rattled off six straight wins to start the second half of 2017.

It's at the point now where Maddon cannot rationally find ways to get Contreras out of the lineup, even though the veteran manager is a huge proponent of rest and wants nothing more than to keep his players healthy and playing at a high level late in the season and into the playoffs.

Contreras is like the Energizer Bunny out there, hopping all around behind the plate to block balls, throwing guys out, pumping his chest, screaming obscenities at his first base coach after home runs. He even plays long toss (from the warning track in left-centerfield to about the spot the second baseman normally plays) before games with catching coach Mike Borzello.

The 25-year-old just does not turn down for anything when he's at the ballpark.

So does he ever get weary?

"I do get tired, but when I get home," he said. "When I'm here, I'm never tired. This is my job, this is what I love and you're gonna see me like that all throughout my career."

Contreras credits the Cubs coaching staff with helping him make the mental adjustments that has him in the conversation as one of the best catchers in baseball.

"He's growing up," Anthony Rizzo said. "He's really taking control behind the plate, which is nice. His at-bats just keep getting better and better and it's really fun to watch."

Contreras is on pace for 25 homers and 87 RBI, second only to Kansas City's Salvador Perez in both categories among catchers.

"He definitely has the abilities to be one of the elite catchers," Maddon said. "You gotta consider him one of the elite catchers in the National League already. Because he just does everything so well.

"The biggest next hurdle is just — without pulling him in too much — controlling his emotions a tad more without losing that enthusiasm that he has. Really understanding the game and calling the game and working his pitchers. 

"Mike Borzello does a great job with him. He started out this year and wasn't so good — missing his pitches, missing fastballs, fouling stuff off. But he stayed with it and now you see what he's capable of doing. He is really good right now and he's gonna get better."