Word: Who will be on the cover of Madden 12?

Word: Who will be on the cover of Madden 12?

Monday, April 4, 2011
CSNChicago.com

Madden cover tournament down to Elite Eight

This year, the lucky NFL-er who will grace the cover of Madden 2012 will be selected by a fan vote. The bracket-style voting has now reached the Elite Eight.

The eight who advanced in last week's round of voting are Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Patriots running back Danny Woodhead, Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles, Browns running back Peyton Hillis, Saints quarterback Drew Brees, Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, Eagles quarterback Michael Vick and 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis.

This week, fans can cast their votes in four head-to-head competitions between players. The winner will be announced during the last week of April. (Pro Football Talk)

The Fridge gets his ring back

A 10-year-old boy from Pittsburgh made William "The Refrigerator" Perry a pretty happy guy.

Cliff Forrest used savings to buy The Fridge's Super Bowl XX ring from a sports memorabilia section of a sports bar in New York. Perry has never said whether he has lost, sold or auctioned off the ring to pay for medical expenses.

The boy heard of Perry's money problems and traveled to an autograph-signing in Chicago over the weekend and returned the ring to its owner. (WGN TV)
Quentin AL player of the week

Carlos Quentin has been named the first American League Player of the Week this season. CSNChicago.com's White Sox Insider Brett Ballantini reports that the slugger went 6-11 in three starts over the weekend.

Through three games, Quentin leads the AL in batting average (.545) and is tied for the lead in doubles (three) and RBI (seven). (CSNChicago.com)

Castro shares NL player of the week honor

Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro and Cardinals pitcher Jaime Garcia were named co-winners of the National League Player of the Week Award. Castro was leading the Majors with a .615 batting average and a .643 on-base percentage through the first three games of the season.

He also lead the NL with a 1.000 slugging percentage and 13 total bases.

This marks the first career NL Player of the Week Award for both Castro and Garcial. (mlb.com)

Rodman elected to HOF

Dennis Rodman is just the latest former Bull to join the ranks of the NBA's legends. The power forward joins the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame's Class of 2011.

Coaches Tex Winter, innovator of the Triangle offense, Stanfords Tara VanDerveer and Philadelphia Universitys Herb Magee were part of the class.

Longtime NBA and ABA star Artis Gilmore, former Portland TrailBlazers center Arvydas Sabonis and Olympic gold medalist Teresa Edwards also will be inducted. They are joined by Harlem Globetrotter Reece Goose Tatum and Boston Celtic Tom Satch Sanders. (AP)

Shaka Smart to stay at VCU

Shaka Smart will be staying in Virginia for a while longer. The Virginia Commonwealth coach signed a new deal with the university after it was reported that he removed his name from consideration for the head-coaching vacancy at North Carolina State.

"I'm extremely grateful for the belief that Dr. (Michael) Rao and (athletics director) Norwood Teague have shown and continue to show in our coaching staff and basketball program," Smart said in a statement issued by the school. (USA Today)

Joe Maddon’s messaging to Cubs before the 2017 campaign

Joe Maddon’s messaging to Cubs before the 2017 campaign

Joe Maddon's Washington itinerary didn't include an hour-long sit-down with Chuck Todd for NBC's "Meet the Press." There would be no rehashing the manager's Game 7 decisions as he stood outside the West Wing, though the second question during the media stakeout involved "last year's team" and how the 2017 Cubs are prepared to defend a World Series title.

"You're already there, huh?" Maddon said to a CNN reporter, minutes after President Barack Obama's final official White House event ended on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. 

But last year's team is gone — preserved now in highlight films and the hearts and minds of generations of Cub fans — even if so many familiar faces will be in Mesa when pitchers and catchers officially report to Arizona on Valentine's Day.

It would be impossible to replicate everything that made the 2016 Cubs so special. Baseball has its own relentless pace and the dynamics are constantly shifting. (Remember when players were passive-aggressively complaining about Maddon's spring-training approach during the final week of a 103-win regular season?) The clubhouse chemistry will inevitably feel different after climbing a Mount Everest of professional sports.

"A mind once stretched has a very difficult time going back to its original form," Maddon said. "We're motivated by it. We want to do it again, of course. There's no question we're trying to do that.

"I'm really leaning on the phrase or the thought of being uncomfortable. I want us to be uncomfortable. I think the moment you get into your comfort zone after having such a significant moment in your life like that, the threat is that you're going to stop growing.

"So I really want us to be uncomfortable. I really want to continue (to see) a pattern of growth and really try to get at them very quickly again."

[SHOP CUBS: Get your Cubs gear right here]

Can Jason Heyward recover from one of the worst offensive seasons in the majors last year? Is Willson Contreras ready to be a frontline catcher? Will Javier Baez have to adjust back to being a role player after becoming a playoff superstar? Does Kyle Schwarber in the leadoff spot and Albert Almora Jr. and Jon Jay in a center-field timeshare represent an upgrade over Dexter Fowler?

If healthy, Wade Davis should be a trusted, lower-maintenance closer than Aroldis Chapman, with an advanced approach to pitching and more clubhouse presence. As a staff, the Cubs will have to bounce back from pitching into early November (or not, in the case of the relievers Maddon didn't trust during the playoffs).

As it stands, Jon Lester (33) and John Lackey (38) have already combined to throw almost 5,000 innings in The Show (including the postseason). Jake Arrieta will have to deal with the pressure of playing for his megadeal in his final season before becoming a free agent.

The drop-off after Mike Montgomery — and it's still mostly projected potential with the No. 5 starter — appears to be very steep in an organization that doesn't have any high-end pitching prospects in the upper levels of the farm system.

After painting the bull's-eye on the chest and turning "Embrace The Target" and "Try Not To Suck" into viral T-shirts, a guy who hates meetings is still working on his themes for this campaign.

"I'm really rotating around the thought of authenticity," Maddon said. "I talked about it a lot last year, the fact that I think authenticity has a chance to repeat itself without even trying. It's part of who you are. It's not fabricated. It's real.

"I've talked about our guys a lot the last couple years. I think one of our strongest qualities is the authentic component of our players. So I'm really focusing on that word right now. Again, that's a great word to bring an entire message from (when) you get in front of the group that first day in spring training.

"I kind of just think like authenticity happens. And let's work it from there."

The costumes should be in midseason form with Maddon planning a house party around Tampa's Gasparilla Pirate Festival before driving his RV from Florida to Arizona.

Maddon will turn 63 on Feb. 8 and have to keep evolving, just like his players, who might outgrow some of those gimmicks. But the Cubs are still a reflection of their future Hall of Fame manager.

Amid all the uncertainty in Washington, Maddon wouldn't touch a question about what advice he would give Donald Trump before Friday's inauguration.

"I'm not even going to go anywhere close to that," Maddon said. "I will say this: I have a lot of respect of the office.

"At the end of the day, just have a lot of respect for the office, regardless of your political persuasion. My point would be to encourage people to really respect the office and let's see what we get done here over the next four years."

Bulls' Jimmy Butler voted All-Star Game starter

Bulls' Jimmy Butler voted All-Star Game starter

Jimmy Butler is heading to his third straight All-Star Game, and for the first time he'll be in the Eastern Conference's starting lineup.

CSNChicago.com Bulls Insider Vincent Goodwill reported that Butler was voted an All-Star starter.

Butler has been sensational this season, averaging a career-best 24.8 points (tied for the 10th-best mark in the league entering Thursday's games), 6.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists per contest through 41 games. He's shooting 45.2 percent from the field and 34.5 percent from 3-point range.

Butler previously made Eastern Conference All-Star squads in the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons, though this is his first time in the starting five.