Chicago Fire

"Comcast SportsNet Sports Awards" salutes Chicago's Sports Stars at annual March of Dimes dinner (Monday, Feb. 13)

"Comcast SportsNet Sports Awards" salutes Chicago's Sports Stars at annual March of Dimes dinner (Monday, Feb. 13)

COMCAST SPORTSNET SPORTS AWARDS SALUTES CHICAGO'S SPORTS STARS AT ANNUAL DINNER BENEFITING THE MARCH OF DIMES

24th Annual Comcast SportsNet Sports Awards to be Televised Live on Comcast SportsNet on Monday, February 13th at 7:30 PM (Pre-Show Special airs at 7 PM)Chicago Radio Legend Steve Dahl to Emcee

Chicago, IL (January 9, 2012) Some of Chicago's best-known professional athletes will take center stage to receive honors at the 24th Annual Comcast SportsNet Sports Awards presented by Navistar to benefit the March of Dimes. Over the past two-plus decades, the Comcast SportsNet Sports Awards has raised close to 8 million for the March of Dimes. The dinner will be held on Monday, February 13th, 5 9 p.m. at a new location this year -- the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers, 301 E. North Water Street. The emcee is Chicago radio legend and local media personality Steve Dahl.

The honorees chosen are top athletes from Chicago's professional teams who have made considerable contributions to their teams, as well as the Chicago community. This year's honorees include CARLOS BOOZER (Bulls), COREY CRAWFORD (Blackhawks), KERRY WOOD (Cubs), ALEXEI RAMIREZ (White Sox), LOGAN PAUSE (Fire) and EARL BENNETT (Bears). In addition, Blackhawks legendteam AmbassadorHockey Hall of Famer TONY ESPOSITO will be honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award. For the pinnacle moment of the evening, this years March of Dimes Inspirational Athlete award winner is 16-year-old TYWAUN CRAIN from Chicagos southwest side. Tywaun has persevered as both an athlete and student, despite being born with cerebral palsy.

The 1000 expected attendees for the 24th Annual Comcast SportsNet Sports Awards will also be able to participate in a silent auction featuring Chicago sports packages and Dream Day tickets, vacation packages including airfare, autographed jerseys of star athletes, tickets for Chicago sports events, golf outings, spa packages, dinner packages, hotel stays and much more. Fans are urged to visit CSNChicago.com and click on the Sports Awards link for complete event details, tickettable sales and online auction bidding.

Daniel C. Ustian, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Navistar International Corporation, the parent company of Warrenville, IL based International Truck and Engine Corporation, is the honorary chair of this years Comcast SportsNet Sports Awards. William T. Barry, Senior Vice President of Draper & Kramer is the events Chairman and James J. Corno is the President of Comcast SportsNet Chicago.

In addition to Comcast SportsNet and Navistar, other event sponsors include Four Seasons Heating and Air Conditioning, Chicagoland Speedway, Draper and Kramer, Dana Corporation, Ernst & Young, KPMG, Latham & Watkins, Office Space, Inc., Oracle, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, LLC (PwC) and Skadden.

The event will begin with a reception at 5:00 PM, followed by dinner at 6:30 PM. The awards ceremony, which will be carried live on Comcast SportsNet in HD, starts at 7:30 PM with a special half-hour preview show set to air at 7:00 PM. Tickets are 350 per person and sponsorships are available. For more information or to purchase tickets to the 24th Annual Comcast SportsNet Sports Awards, please call Rebecca Grant at (312) 596-4721 or visit CSNChicago.com.

With push for playoff seeding in full force, Fire head to Philadelphia with key absences

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With push for playoff seeding in full force, Fire head to Philadelphia with key absences

There aren’t many easy games left on the Fire’s schedule, but Saturday’s game in Philadelphia appears to be one of the more winnable games remaining even if it is on the road.

The Union have a respectable 7-4-3 home record, but are out of the playoff race and are winless in six straight. The Fire hope to pick up a second straight road win, keep pace with New York City FC and stay ahead of red-hot Atlanta in the race for the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference.

The game will be televised on CSN+ (channel finder) with coverage beginning at 5:30 p.m. with Fire Pregame Live.

While on paper the game is winnable, the Fire will once again be significantly shorthanded in midfield. Bastian Schweinsteiger and Juninho are both out with injuries. Schweinsteiger will miss his third straight game while Juninho will be out for two in a row. The Fire beat D.C. United 3-0 with Dax McCarty pairing with Drew Conner in central midfield last weekend.

With Joao Meira returning from injury as a sub in that win against D.C., coach Veljko Paunovic could run a similar lineup to the one from last week or elect to go with three centerbacks in an altered formation. Either way, the Fire remain without key pieces during a time of year when the team wants to be hitting its peak with the playoffs just over a month away.

“You want to get your top 11 group on the field together so they can get games, but if that’s not the case then you can also get guys experience and you can get younger guys in games that mean something and that matter because there’s no substitute for experience,” McCarty said. “You can’t replicate that in training. Guys like Drew Conner, guys like Djordje (Mihailovic). Those guys that are going to be very important for us in our playoff push and our depth heading into the playoffs.

“That’s the reason why depth is so important in MLS because while you would love to be able to count on your first 11 every single time you step on the field, (but) that’s not the case. I think we’ve seen that throughout the whole season. I don’t think we’ve had our first 11 group on the field together for months so you want depth and obviously it’s important to get guys healthy."

The extent of Schweinsteiger’s injuries hasn’t been clear. He had a bruise on his calf from a collision during the match in Montreal on Sept. 2, but also has a thigh injury. Schweinsteiger appeared to be nearing a return last week when he was running and working out in training separate from the group, but he was not at training on Tuesday or Wednesday this week, which implied a setback.

When asked about Schweinsteiger’s status, Paunovic has remained coy.

“Basti is very important for the team,” Paunovic said. “We want him as soon as possible. We will provide all the help that we can. As soon as we can have him back it’s going to be very important for the team. Also during that time we have guys who are prepared and ready and want to step in.”

Everyone knows he is a key absence, but the team has a solid 2-1-3 record without him this year.

“It doesn’t take a genius to see the positive attributes that he brings to the team,” McCarty said of Schweinsteiger. “He’s been one of our best players and obviously he’s a focal point for the way that we do things, not only defensively, but attacking as well. He’s a guy who teams have to account for whenever he’s on the ball. His vision, his ability to make plays within the game, knowing what the game needs and what time, you can’t substitute that. It makes my job easier, it makes our strikers’ jobs easier, so it’s a big loss not having him on the field.”

Chicago Fire at Philadelphia Union

Where: Talen Energy Stadium (Chester, Penn.)

TV: CSN + (channel finder)

When: Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Fire Pregame Live

Records: Fire (14-9-6, 48 points), Union (8-12-9, 33 points)

Nerds in Sports Podcast: Being a 'professional nerd' and Star Wars theories about Rey's parents

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Nerds in Sports Podcast: Being a 'professional nerd' and Star Wars theories about Rey's parents

On this edition of Nerds in Sports, we talk with io9.com senior editor Rob Bricken.

Rob explains how he juggles being a fan with being a ‘professional’ nerd, how he came to run io9.com, plus his theory on why Rey’s parents are in Star Wars may shock you.

Kevin Anderson and Michael Piff co-host. We are Nerds. In sports.

Listen to the Nerds in Sports Podcast here.