<![CDATA[NBC Chicago - Sports]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/sports http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/5-Chicago-Blue.png NBC Chicago http://www.nbcchicago.com en-us Mon, 06 Jul 2015 08:45:41 -0500 Mon, 06 Jul 2015 08:45:41 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Kyle Busch Brushes Wall in 1st Daytona Race Since Crash]]> Mon, 06 Jul 2015 00:15:29 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-479385200.jpg

Kyle Busch brushed the wall early in his first race at Daytona International Speedway since breaking his right leg and left foot in a crash at the track in February.

Trying to pass Jamie McMurray on lap 17 of the 160-lap race, Busch wiggled and tagged the wall. He lost two laps while his crew worked to repair splitter and body damage on his No. 18 Toyota.

It was a potentially costly setback for Busch, who needs to finish in the top 30 in points to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.

Busch missed the first 11 races this season following his Daytona crash in the Xfinity Series season opener, but NASCAR granted him a waiver that would make him Chase eligible with a victory and a top-30 finish in points.

Busch won last week's race at Sonoma Raceway, but needs to average a 14th-place finish over the next 10 races to join the Chase. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Top Photos: U.S. Wins 2015 World Cup]]> Mon, 06 Jul 2015 05:43:46 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-479605440.jpg The United States defeated Japan 5-2 to win the 2015 World Cup in Vancouver.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cubs/Sox Doubleheader a Baseball Lover's Dream]]> Sun, 05 Jul 2015 15:47:56 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/cubs+sox+doubleheader+july+3.jpg

During the long, brutally cold Chicago winters, people fantasize about what summer will be like. Whether it’s cookouts, fireworks at Navy Pier or just walking outside without worrying how many layers of jackets and coats you’ll have to don, summer feels like an appropriate reward for the trials and tribulations of the preceding months.

Amid all of those glorious fantasies, there is one that stands out both because of its ready availability and because of its uniqueness in sports: the baseball teams that call the North and the South Sides home for the summer.

Granted, the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox aren’t the only sports franchises that share an occupation and a hometown. In fact, there are three other areas in the country that boast multiple teams, with the Los Angeles area (Angels and Dodgers), the Bay Area (A’s and Giants) and New York (Yankees and Mets) all containing two teams.

Despite that commonality, things are different in Chicago. The two teams’ stadiums are only separated by about 10 miles. If you’re one of the smart fans who eschews driving in favor of public transit, you’re covered no matter which team you support. The Addison Red Line station is located just one block east of Wrigley Field on the North Side, and the Sox/35th Red Line stop lies just one block east of U.S. Cellular Field, a mere 13 stops down the line.

With the short distance between the stadiums and the ease of access, it is possible on rare occasions to take in games for both teams in one day. On July 3, such an opportunity presented itself to baseball fans in the city, as the Cubs took on the Miami Marlins in a matinee affair at Wrigley Field, while the White Sox battled the Baltimore Orioles at U.S. Cellular Field in the evening.

The morning commute into the city was a breeze, with light holiday traffic and a relatively empty Red Line train north, allowing for a simple and nearly effortless jaunt up to Wrigley.

Once at the ballpark, the contrasting sights of old-school charm and new school blend together right away. The park is surrounded by areas under construction, as the team prepares to build a new clubhouse and hotel along the third base side of the stadium. There’s also the massive new bleachers, which welcomed a new addition on Friday as Hot Doug’s set up shop with a concession stand in center field. Couple all of that with the new videoboards, the lush green ivy and the old-school scoreboard, and the sensory experience at Wrigley was more potent than ever.

As for the game itself, things got off to a good start but slowly went south. Jason Hammel allowed two solo home runs, but that was all the offense the Marlins needed as the Cubs squandered several scoring opportunities and dropped a tough 2-1 loss in front of a crowd of over 41,000 people.

After the game and the press conferences concluded, it was time to hop on the Red Line and head south. Or at least that was the plan. With such a large crowd, the CTA Addison station was packed to the gills with Cubs fans, and the line stretched from the station all the way to the southeast corner of Wrigley Field. A walk up Sheffield Avenue to the Belmont station helped alleviate the traffic and congestion, and despite a tight squeeze, a spot on the train ended up becoming available for the now slightly shortened journey south to U.S. Cellular Field.

That part of the journey was more adventurous than the morning commute to Wrigley. As the train lurched south through the Fullerton stop, more and more Grateful Dead fans came onboard, forcing the Cubs fans to the left side of the southbound train. Looking down the car was a similar experience to seeing the Meeting of Waters in Brazil, with blue-clad Cubs fans occupying one side of the train and the tie-dyed shirts of Deadheads lining the other, with neither side seemingly willing to mix with the other.

After the initial shock of the mass invasion of the train car by fans on both sides of the aisle, laughter and anecdotes of days past took over the proceedings. Cubs fans recounted the game at Wrigley, as well as memories of games in the past. Meanwhile, the Grateful Dead fans swapped stories about concerts they’d attended in the past and expressed what it meant to see the band perform one more time at Soldier Field.

Slowly, those stories ebbed and came to a stop as fans disembarked at the Lake Station (mostly Cubs fans) and at Roosevelt (Deadheads), and in its place came an eerily quiet journey as the train sped through the remaining stops on the way to Sox/35th.

With less than two hours to go until first pitch, Sox fans slowly made their way into the stadium, but the crowd had a decidedly different feel. Most fans were content to remain in the parking lots tailgating until first pitch drew near (kicking up a delicious aroma of beer and barbecued meats in the process), and as the game began fans flocked quickly to their seats.

Much like at the Cubs game earlier in the day, offense was hard to come by and pitching ruled the day. John Danks hurled a masterful game for the White Sox, pitching his way out of several jams and locating his pitches with a precision that fans of the Pale Hose have seen all too infrequently this season. The Sox did get a spark of offense from Jose Abreu as he launched an opposite field home run, and that was all they needed as they picked up a 1-0 victory over the Orioles.

As fans filtered out of the stadium following the game, most remained in their seats to take in a fireworks display. Standing on the train platform waiting for the northbound train back into the Loop and watching the brightly colored explosions high overhead, one got the sense that the weekend was just getting started. All of the rainbow and tie-dyed colored cars streaking by on the Dan Ryan only added to the sensory experience, and for a brief moment in time, one couldn’t help but be reminded of what a tremendous thing summertime in Chicago is.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Brother of White Sox Eaton Surprises Him on Field]]> Sun, 05 Jul 2015 13:46:25 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/eaton+brothers.jpg

The brother of White Sox center fielder Adam Eaton surprised him on the field before Saturday's game in an emotional reunion.

Zachary Eaton, a captain in the U.S. Air Force, was among seven servicemen and women honored at the Fourth of July game at U.S. Cellular Field. Adam knew his brother would be watching the game from the stands, but he had no idea he would be honored on the field, according to Scott Merkin of MLB.com.

A video captured the brothers' heartwarming on-field hug as Adam realized that his brother standing with the other members of the military.

"I was on the brink of a tear," Adam told Merkin. "I grew up in a military family and you realize the sacrifices that the family and individuals alike go through, and you know we are blessed to play this great game every day and you know he helps defend the country."

The brothers' parents also both served in the U.S. Army, according to Merkin.

To top off the night for Adam, the White Sox beat the Baltimore Orioles 3-2 on their home turf at U.S. Cellular Field.



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Packers Player Arrested in Miami]]> Sat, 04 Jul 2015 16:01:42 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/andrew+quarless+green+bay+packers+mug+070415.jpg

Miami Beach Police arrested an NFL player after they say he shot his gun into the air early Saturday morning.

Green Bay Packers tight end Andrew Quarless, 26, was charged with discharging a firearm in public around 5:30 a.m. Saturday.

A parking attendant on the 500 block of Lenox Avenue told police he spotted a black Porsche Panamera with two men and two women inside. According to the arrest report, the two men got out of the Porsche and approached a white vehicle with several women inside.

The attendant said the discussion soon became hostile. That's when he told police he spotted Quarless walking up to the white car with a semi-automatic handgun. The witness then told police Quarless pointed the gun in the air and fired off two rounds before taking off in the Porsche.

Another witness told police Quarless "discharged his firearm in an apparent attempt to emphasize his dominance and manhood," according to the police report.

The white vehicle left the scene and was not seen or heard from again, the report stated.

Police put out a "be on the lookout", or BOLO, alert for the Porsche. Officers spotted the vehicle parked on the 400 block of Washington Avenue with its lights on.

According to the report, Quarless was discovered nearby, "attempting to conceal himself and the black firearm in a nearby plant."

It is unclear whether Quarless has an attorney.

A spokesman for the Green Bay Packers issued a statement, saying, "We are aware of the matter involving Andrew Quarless and are in the process of gathering more information. We will withhold further comment."



Photo Credit: Miami-Dade Corrections]]>
<![CDATA[Blue Jackets Sign Saad for 6 Years ]]> Fri, 03 Jul 2015 16:01:33 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/saad1.jpg

Brandon Saad has had quite a momentous week after getting traded from the Chicago Blackhawks to the Columbus Blue Jackets, and things reached a resolution on Friday as the young forward agreed to a six-year deal with the team.

The contract’s terms were not disclosed by the Blue Jackets, but reports are surfacing that the contract will pay him $6 million per season.

When the Blackhawks were negotiating with Saad, they were looking to pay him around $2.8 million for a short-term deal and around $4 million for a longer term one, and with their salary cap issues, it would have been exceedingly difficult to get $6 million of cap space freed in order to keep the youngster in the fold.

As it stands, the Blackhawks made a trade that they seem to be very happy with. They immediately signed center Artem Anisimov to a five-year contract extension, and it appears that Marko Dano and Corey Tropp will both have a very serious chance at making the team’s opening night roster.

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<![CDATA[Bowman Says Team Interested in Oduya Return]]> Fri, 03 Jul 2015 13:04:56 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/johnny+oduya+getty.jpg

Through the end of the postseason and the beginning of free agency, it’s been widely assumed that the Chicago Blackhawks would end up parting ways with defenseman Johnny Oduya, who became an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

On Friday, those assumptions were challenged a bit as GM Stan Bowman went on the NHL Network to discuss the potential of bringing back the defenseman:

Bowman has also been on record saying that he would explore bringing back other players (Brad Richards, Antoine Vermette, Andrew Desjardins), but he ended up failing to seal the deal thanks to the Blackhawks’ tenuous salary cap situation. The fact that Oduya is still even a remote option is interesting.

The team has less than $500,000 of salary cap space available with only 19 players signed (although there’s no guarantee that guys like Corey Tropp and Jeremy Morin will make the NHL roster), and they still need to bring aboard at least one more veteran defenseman to help soften the blow of skating youngsters like Trevor van Riemsdyk and Stephen Johns on a regular basis.

Oduya would certainly fit that bill, but if he wants a raise over the roughly $3.4 million cap hit he had last season, then the Hawks will likely have to pursue other options.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Desjardins Re-Signs With Blackhawks: Reports]]> Fri, 03 Jul 2015 10:49:26 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/andrew+desjardins+resigns.jpg

The Chicago Blackhawks have said all along that they want to bring back veteran winger Andrew Desjardins, and that’s exactly what GM Stan Bowman did on Friday as he reportedly signed the forward to a two-year contract extension.

Desjardins, who came over to the Blackhawks in a trade deadline swap that sent Ben Smith to the San Jose Sharks, ended up becoming a solidifying presence on the team’s fourth line, and he played a key part in the team’s third Stanley Cup championship in six seasons.

The new contract will pay him $800,000 per season, according to Elliotte Friedman of Hockey Night in Canada. Desjardins' agent said the winger took "far less" money to stay with the team because he "loves it there," Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

Desjardins had a goal and three assists during the playoffs, and he picked up two assists in 13 games with the Blackhawks after the trade from San Jose.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Chicago Great-Grandmother Takes On Senior Olympic Games]]> Thu, 02 Jul 2015 20:57:42 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000013129576_1200x675_475392579941.jpg Meet 81-year-old Edwina Dennis: mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and senior Olympic basketball player. NBC Chicago's Peggy Kusinski shares her incredible story.]]> <![CDATA[Contador Eyes 3rd Tour de France Title]]> Thu, 02 Jul 2015 19:40:08 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Alberto-Contador-2-July-2015.jpg

Tour de France contender Alberto Contador's serious-looking face cracked into a beaming smile during a lighthearted moment at his pre-race news conference on Thursday, when he was joined by an unexpected guest.

It happened when two Dutch television journalists presented the Spanish rider with a canary in a cage, popping it down on the table right next to him.

Contador used to breed canaries when he was younger, something he says he no longer has time to do since becoming a professional rider, and he sat gazing curiously at the tiny yellow bird as it hopped around.

Yellow will be all Contador has on his mind from this Saturday onward as he tries to win back the famed jersey he won twice before, in 2007 and 2009.

The showcase race starts with an individual time trial around the Dutch city of Utrecht and ends July 26 in Paris.

Contador's 2010 Tour title was stripped from him after a failed doping test for the fat-burning, muscle-building drug clenbuterol, and his 2011 Giro d'Italia title subsequently also scrapped. Following a suspension, Contador looked well set for a podium finish at the 2013 Tour, only to slump late on in the race and finish fourth.

His frustration turned to agony when, on the 2014 Tour, he dropped out on stage 10 after a bone-breaking downhill crash during a mountain stage. Remarkably, he continued to ride for 20 minutes with a fractured left tibia — and with blood gushing from his right knee — before agony overwhelmed him.

Contador, dejected, ruled himself out of the Spanish Vuelta only to recover quicker than expected, change his mind and win the race for the third time.

Now, he has another objective: the Giro-Tour double.

"If I win just another Tour it's not going to change my career, but if I achieve the double this is something people are going to remember," Contador said Thursday. "I take a lot of motivation from this."

After winning his second Giro title in May, he now has the chance to become the first rider since Italian Marco Pantani in 1998 to complete that double the same year.

He has thought about nothing else since the Giro ended.

"I sacrificed everything. Every day, every minute I have been working toward this," he said, looking serious again with his canary friend now removed from the table. "There was no celebration. I put absolute focus on the bike. It's a new challenge for me."

A hugely ambitious one, given the strength of the opposition.

Barring his way are defending champion Vincenzo Nibali and 2013 winner Chris Froome, who also has a burning desire to win after crashing out on the cobblestones in last year's Tour. Colombian climbing specialist Nairo Quintana, runner-up to Froome in 2013, is also a threat.

"I have been training and resting. But I think I'm well recovered physically and also mentally, which is probably more important," Contador said. "There are four favorites everybody talks about but I think there are more riders ... (Romain) Bardet, (Alejandro) Valverde, (Thibault) Pinot."

While Nibali's Astana team and Froome's Team Sky have changed their Giro lineups, Contador's Tinkoff-Saxo team has retained five riders from that race.

"They're experienced and strong," Contador said. "I trust them."

Contador will be nervous, however.

This year's opening nine-day swing from the Low Countries across northern France again features the dreaded cobblestones. Rain and slippery stones are a nightmare for most riders, while some like Nibali glide over them with dismissive ease.

"The first objective is to try and avoid crashes. It's a very complicated start to the Tour," Contador said. "The first nine days there are at least six very intense stages, maybe more. It's going to be a Tour with no rest."

By his own admission, Contador felt in better condition heading into last year's Tour.

"If I had to choose between last year and this year's feeling I'd take last year's," he said. "I come here with a clear objective. I know it's very difficult."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Chicago-Area Brewery Names Beer After Toews]]> Thu, 02 Jul 2015 09:46:54 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/parade162.jpg

A Chicago-area brewery now has a Hawk-y beer on tap.

Hailstorm Brewing Co. in Tinley Park has released a Captain Serious #19 Pale Ale. The beer is described as a “West Coast style pale ale” and is said to be “dry light and hoppy” and “heavily dry-hopped with Simcoe, Mosaic and Galaxy.”

Since the beer’s debut, the suburban brewery has been campaigning to get Jonathan Toews to bring the Stanley Cup to the facility in honor of his namesake brew.

Toews has not yet responded to the brewery’s requests.
 



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Richards Signs 1-Year Deal With Red Wings]]> Wed, 01 Jul 2015 16:56:38 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-477064782.jpg

Brad Richards talked about potentially coming back to the Chicago Blackhawks this offseason, but those conversations didn’t materialize into a return engagement as the center has signed a one-year contract with the Detroit Red Wings.

The deal, which was first reported by Darren Dreger of TSN, will give the Red Wings another center as they continue to retool their roster. The Wings also signed defenseman Mike Green on Wednesday, but the team was looking for another veteran forward to add to the mix.

The deal will pay Richards $3 million next season, with potential bonuses raising the potential price up to $4 million. 

Richards scored 12 goals and dished out 25 assists for the Blackhawks in the 2014-15 season, and even though he did take a cheap 1-year contract to sign with the Hawks during the last offseason, it looks as though the Blackhawks chose to go in a different direction this time around.

During his conference call on Tuesday to discuss the Brandon Saad trade, Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman seemed to indicate that Richards would be playing elsewhere next season, saying that the team “lost two centermen.” The other player that is likely off the roster is Antoine Vermette, who has been generating plenty of interest around the league in recent days.

In their place, the Blackhawks will have a wide variety of players to choose from on their current roster. The one surefire bet is Artem Anisimov, who signed a five-year contract extension with the Hawks after the team acquired him from the Columbus Blue Jackets. Marko Dano could also get a shot at a center job, along with Teuvo Teravainen and Andrew Shaw. Marcus Kruger has yet to be re-signed, but it seems likely that he will be and remain in a bottom-six forward role with the team.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Reports: Butler Re-Signs for 5 Years With Bulls ]]> Wed, 01 Jul 2015 14:06:19 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/183707723.jpg

The Chicago Bulls have made it abundantly clear that they want to keep Jimmy Butler as he hits restricted free agency, and on Wednesday it appears they will get their wish as the forward is finalizing a five-year deal to remain with the organization.

The deal, which was first reported as close to being done by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports and was confirmed as done by Brian Windhorst of ESPN and K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, will pay Butler $90 million, and includes an opt-out clause after the fourth year. 

Reports have been swirling for weeks about Butler’s ultimate destination, with the Los Angeles Lakers reportedly strongly in the mix, but the Bulls gave the forward a maximum qualifying offer, meaning that they would essentially match any offer that Butler was going to be given.

Butler had an opportunity to sign an extension with the Bulls before the 2014-15 season, but he rolled the dice on his ability to earn a max-contract, and the gamble paid off. Butler averaged 20 points and 5.8 rebounds per game during the season, and when Derrick Rose was out of the lineup due to injury, Butler picked up the scoring slack in a big way and helped keep the Bulls competitive. 

Now, with Fred Hoiberg and his up-tempo offense in Chicago, Butler is going to have a serious opportunity to up his productivity even more in the coming years. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Blackhawks Announce Dates for 2015 Prospect Camp]]> Wed, 01 Jul 2015 12:45:48 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*120/blackhawks-generic-hockey.jpg

The Chicago Blackhawks are focused on improving their team via free agency and trades as the NHL free agent signing period has begun, but on Wednesday the team also has plenty of prospects that could make an impact next season. 

Those prospects will put their skills on display in July as the team announced the dates for their annual Prospect Camp. The event will take place from July 12-17, and it will be held at Johnny's IceHouse West, which is located just west of the United Center. 

Numerous prospects will be making appearances at the camp, which is open to the public. 2014 first round pick Nick Schmaltz will likely be among the participants, as will players like Ryan Hartman and Mark McNeill. There is also a real possibility that new players like Kyle Baun and Artemi Panarin will also be on the ice. 

Rosters for the camp will be announced at a later date. 

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<![CDATA[Saad a "Little Bit Shocked" by Trade to Blue Jackets]]> Wed, 01 Jul 2015 12:42:11 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/saad1.jpg

When the Chicago Blackhawks traded Brandon Saad to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday afternoon, plenty of people were shocked by the move, and the winger himself was one of them.

“A little shocked,” Saad said in a conference call. “It’s my first time going through the process. At the same time it’s a business."

The Blackhawks were going to have a tough time making moves to clear enough salary cap space to sign Saad, who reportedly was seeking a contract that would pay him $6.5 million per season. That knowledge certainly crept into Saad’s mind, and it perhaps helped cushion the blow of the team sending him to Columbus.

“With the Blackhawks and how close they are to the cap, you knew something was going to happen with me or someone else,” he said.

For now, Saad is letting his agent focus on getting a new contract done with Columbus, and he’s also looking forward to joining a forward group that includes All-Stars like Nick Foligno and Ryan Johansen.

“It’s definitely going to be a change,” he said. “At the same time, I’ve watched Columbus in the past and they’ve had some tight playoff series where they’ve played really well.”

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