<![CDATA[NBC Chicago - Sports]]>Copyright 2017https://www.nbcchicago.com/news/sports http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/5-Chicago-Blue.png NBC Chicago https://www.nbcchicago.comen-usTue, 21 Nov 2017 07:56:58 -0600Tue, 21 Nov 2017 07:56:58 -0600NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Dawson to Rejoin Cubs Organization, Reports Say]]> Mon, 20 Nov 2017 13:29:12 -0600 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-692726390.jpg

After an ownership change with the Miami Marlins, former Chicago Cubs outfielder Andre Dawson is reportedly heading back to the North Side. 

Dawson, who won the 1988 MVP award as a member of the Cubs, had been working for the Marlins' front office, but with a new ownership group led by Derek Jeter at the helm, he's rejoining the Cubs, according to multiple reports. 

USA Today's Bob Nightengale and CBS' Bruce Levine both reported the move. 

It's unclear at this point what role Dawson will play with the Cubs, although a front office role is a possibility. It's more likely that he will join the team as an ambassador, similar to the role that Hall of Fame second baseman Ryne Sandberg currently fills. 

No official announcement has been made. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Apparently, No One Knows Who Kris Bryant Is in Austria]]> Mon, 20 Nov 2017 18:37:18 -0600 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/P-20171119-00997_news.jpg

Kris Bryant has a hard time even going to the grocery store in the U.S. without being noticed, but send him to Austria and it appears things are very different.

Bryant and his wife Jessica apparently went to Salzburg, where they walked through the historic Old Town area. The couple was filmed by Red Bull as Bryant asked locals if they knew who he was.

“Baseball is really exciting in Chicago right now, so we’re going to see if it’s spread over to this side of the world,” Bryant said. “I hope they’re excited to meet me.”

The answer was apparently disappointing for the Cubs star – who went entirely unnoticed by those featured in the footage.

Many of them didn’t even watch baseball, but some knew the Chicago Bulls and even Kobe Bryant.

One person did manage to put on a baseball glove and play a quick game of catch with Bryant, however.  

Did we mention Bryant tries on Lederhosen while he’s there?

Photo Credit: Markus Berger / Red Bull Content Pool
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<![CDATA[Bears Sign Cairo Santos as New Kicker]]> Mon, 20 Nov 2017 12:02:23 -0600 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-623038260.jpg

The Chicago Bears have signed a new kicker as Cairo Santos will join the team. 

In turn, the team also waived their current kicker Connor Barth, who missed a field goal during the Bears' loss to the Detroit Lions Sunday. 

Santos, who was the kicker for the Kansas City Chiefs over the last four seasons before being cut loose earlier this year, has made 84.8 percent of the kicks he's taken in his career, including all three he booted through in 2017. 

Barth, who was brought in to replace Robbie Gould before the 2016 season, made 68.8 percent of his kicks this season, missing five of them total on the year. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Trump Slams Marshawn Lynch for Anthem Protest in Mexico ]]> Mon, 20 Nov 2017 10:20:27 -0600 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/lynchtrump.jpg

President Trump took to social media Monday to slam Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch for not standing during the U.S. national anthem as the team played the New England Patriots in Mexico Sunday.

Lynch, who has not stood for the anthem since returning from retirement at the beginning of the season, was spotted standing during the Mexican anthem.

"Great disrespect! Next time NFL should suspend him for remainder of season. Attendance and ratings way down," Trump tweeted Monday morning.

Lynch is among the NFL players who have refused to stand for the national anthem in a movement started by former San Francisco 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick, who began his protest last year to draw attention to racial injustice and social inequality across America. Critics of the protest have slammed it for being disrespectful to the U.S. military and armed forces.  

Trump's prior calls for the NFL to suspend kneeling players have not yet produced a rule change. Commissioner Roger Goodell said last month in a memo that the league believes everyone should stand for the anthem, but still does not mandate it.

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<![CDATA[CTE Turned Ex-NFL Star From Top Lawyer to ‘Other Person']]> Sun, 19 Nov 2017 17:54:12 -0600 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-822512332.jpg

After completing an NFL career that included two Super Bowls, Fred McNeill got an advanced law degree and practiced law. But within just a few years, he began to fall apart, losing his temper, losing his memory and losing job after job, NBC News reported.

“Here is this person who was so kind, so intelligent, so special, so loving, so easygoing. He made things look easy. And then he flipped to be this other person,” Tia McNeill, Fred McNeill’s widow, said in an interview.

McNeill died in 2015. He was bankrupt, unable to eat or care for himself. A positron emission tomography (PET) brain scan done in 2012 showed he had chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE — the degenerative brain disease being linked increasingly to professional football and to head injuries sustained in combat.

The confirmation comes too late to help McNeill. But if the findings hold up in other patients with similar symptoms, such a scan may be able to diagnose CTE in time to give patients hope for recourse while they are still alive and, perhaps, eventual treatment.

Photo Credit: Jeff Siner/Charlotte Observer/MCT]]>
<![CDATA[Lions vs. Bears: In Photos]]> Sun, 19 Nov 2017 15:55:00 -0600 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-876332984.jpg The Chicago Bears' offense generated over 400 yards, but they couldn't finish off a comeback attempt as they lost to the Detroit Lions.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Trump Says He Should Have Left UCLA Players in Chinese Jail]]> Sun, 19 Nov 2017 18:02:58 -0600 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/212*120/11-8-2017-ucla-basketball-hill-riley-ball-2.jpg

Two days after LaVar Ball, father of detained UCLA player LiAngelo Ball, downplayed President Donald Trump's role in the return of three UCLA men's basketball players detained in China, the president fired back.

LiAngelo Ball, brother of Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball, was one of the three UCLA basketball players detained in China on suspicion of shoplifting before Trump helped return them to the United States. In a Sunday morning tweet, Trump criticized LaVar Ball for being "unaccepting for what I did for his son."

"I should have left them in jail!" Trump added.

Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, retweeted Trump's tweet and included his own comment.

"The President would have left American students in a foreign jail because their families didn't lavish sufficient praise on him," Schiff wrote. "How can someone in such a big office be so small?"

Freshman LiAngelo Ball was detained along with Jalen Hill and Cody Riley nearly two weeks ago and returned last week after Trump said he had a long conversation with Chinese President Xi Jinping about the incident. 

At a press conference after their return, all three players had individually thanked Trump, and initially, Trump seemed to acknowledge the players' gratitude.

"To the three UCLA basketball players I say: You're welcome, go out and give a big Thank You to President Xi Jinping of China who made ... your release possible and, HAVE A GREAT LIFE! Be careful, there are many pitfalls on the long and winding road of life!" Trump said in two tweets.

However, by Sunday remarks LaVar Ball made on ESPN Friday caused the president to change his tune.

LaVar Ball had seemingly diminished Trump's role in getting the three players back home when he spoke on the sports network.

"What was he over there for? Don't tell me nothing. Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out," LaVar Ball said. "Like I told him, 'They try to make a big deal out of nothing sometimes.' I'm from LA. I've seen a lot worse things happen than a guy taking some glasses," he said.

All three UCLA players have been indefinitely suspended from the team, coach Steve Alford said. They will not travel with the team or suit up for home games.

"They will have to earn their way back," Alford said.

Photo Credit: UCLA Athletics
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<![CDATA[Chance the Rapper Draws Laughs With Hockey Sketch]]> Sun, 19 Nov 2017 13:07:32 -0600 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-8444305341.jpg

Chicago-native Chance the Rapper hosted "Saturday Night Live" this week, and he brought down the house with his hilarious take on sports commentary. 

Chance, who hosted the show for the first time, played the role of basketball-analyst turned hockey reporter for the skit as he pretended to cover the New York Rangers. 

Battling the cold temperatures, Chance did his best in the sketch, but was ultimately "flummoxed" by tough names and hockey's rules. 

"One of the main guys on the Rangers, don't know how to say his name, it has 30 letters in it and none of them are vowels, but he's playing great," Chance said in the sketch, which earned plenty of attention across the internet. 

Chance also took on fighting, took a shot at the lowly New York Knicks, and even got to interview a "player" during the sketch. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Patrick Kane's Best Moments With the Blackhawks]]> Sun, 19 Nov 2017 11:52:10 -0600 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-6155458722.jpg

Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane is celebrating his 29th birthday on Sunday, and after more than a decade in the NHL, he’s put together quite an impressive highlight reel.

Kane, who is currently playing in his 11th NHL season, has scored 50 playoff goals and 291 regular season tallies, and time and again he has dazzled fans with his exploits and clutch play on the ice.

To celebrate Kane’s birthday, here are five of his best NHL moments.

Kane Scores His First Playoff Hat Trick

In his second NHL season, Kane made it to the playoffs for the first time, and he made it count as he scored a hat trick in Game 6 of the conference semifinal to eliminate the Vancouver Canucks:

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Kane Spins and Scores vs. Stars

The lone regular season goal on this list, it is no less spectacular than any other goal he ever scored. With the Blackhawks up big against Dallas, Kane showed some serious flash with a spin-o-rama goal:

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The Game-Tying Tally vs. Nashville

Marian Hossa’s game winner gets a lot of the credit, but Kane’s game tying goal with less than 20 seconds to go against Nashville in Game 5 of the 2010 first round is one of the most dramatic of this Hawks team’s current run of success:

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OT Winner vs. Kings

Kane loves scoring big goals in clinching games, and that’s exactly what he did against the Kings in the 2013 conference final, and naturally his frequent running mate Jonathan Toews was right alongside him:

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The Cup Winner

There aren’t many goals bigger than this one in Hawks history, as Kane ended the team’s nearly half-century championship drought:

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Which Kane moment was your favorite? Did we miss one that you think is better? Let us know in the comments! 

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Bears Fall to Lions in Close Game]]> Sun, 19 Nov 2017 15:12:51 -0600 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-876333642.jpg

The Chicago Bears lost to the Detroit Lions on Sunday afternoon at Soldier Field. 

After a good start to the game, the Bears watched the Lions' offense slowly churn out quality drives, and a Matt Prater kick with a minute and a half to go was the difference as the Lions won. 

The loss drops the Bears to 3-7 on the season. 

The Bears had a chance to tie the game late, as Mitchell Trubiksy scrambled and converted on a long fourth down play and then found Dontrelle Inman for another first down. Unfortunately for Chicago, Connor Barth's attempted field goal sailed well right, sending the Bears to their third straight loss. 

The road for the Bears won't get any easier, as they take on the Philadelphia Eagles next week in the City of Brotherly Love. 

<![CDATA[Dale Earnhardt Jr. Prepares for Final NASCAR Run on Sunday]]> Sat, 18 Nov 2017 08:41:45 -0600 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/DaleEarnhardt1.jpg

When the checkered flag stops flying and the fans have filed out of Homestead Miami Speedway following Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400, the career of one of NASCAR’s biggest names will come to an end.

Plenty of fans are going to pile into the grandstands to see who will be crowned champion of the Monster Energy Series – but just as many, if not more, will be there to see Dale Earnhardt Jr. take his final laps as a full time NASCAR driver after announcing his retirement in April.

"We want to end well. We want to be competitive. We want to work...we want to put in a good effort this weekend. That will be fun to try to figure out if we have a competitive car. I look forward to getting to work on it," Earnhardt Jr. said.

The son of NASCAR legend Dale Sr., the driver known as “Little E” joined his father in the sport’s top level in 1999. He finished second in the 2001 Daytona 500 in which his father crashed into a wall and died at an area hospital – thrusting Dale Jr. into the spotlight of not only making his own name, but living up to his father’s legacy.

Over his 19 season career, Earnhardt Jr. won 26 Monster Energy Series races and was consistently voted the most popular driver in the sport – all while never being able to bring home a championship that his father won seven times during his career.

His final race will come at a Homestead track where he hasn't had much success, finishing 10th or better just twice in his career.

"I'm looking forward to getting on the track and get our car handling, and see if we can make the thing get around there pretty good so we can have some fun on Sunday," he said.

Earnhardt Jr. has battle concussions throughout his career, including one that sidelined him for the second half of the 2016 season. After getting married last New Year’s Eve and expecting a baby in early 2018, Dale Jr. knows he has plenty of excitement coming despite leaving the track.

"I've felt very good about that decision before the race in Daytona started in February, that this was it. And I was more thankful to be able to compete this year than I was to ever question whether I should go farther," said Earnhardt Jr.

He won’t be leaving the sport, though, as Earnhardt Jr. will join the NBC Sports team as a color commentator of NASCAR coverage on the network starting in 2018.

Earnhardt Jr. is one of three drivers who will be closing out their careers this weekend in Homestead. Matt Kenseth, a long time friend of "Little E", announced this season will be his last as did Danica Patrick, who made the shocking announcement this weekend that she will retire from NASCAR after this weekend and racing all together after next year's Indy 500.

Photo Credit: Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[A Look Back at the Blackhawks' Outdoor Games]]> Sat, 18 Nov 2017 16:22:58 -0600 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-84222115.jpg The Chicago Blackhawks will take on the Boston Bruins in the 2019 Winter Classic, but before they do, we're taking a look back at the team's previous outdoor tilts.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Blackhawks Named as Hosts of 2019 Winter Classic]]> Sat, 18 Nov 2017 15:56:33 -0600 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-84128418.jpg

The Chicago Blackhawks will take on the Boston Bruins in the 2019 Winter Classic, NBC and the NHL announced on Saturday. 

The Blackhawks, who have played in three previous Winter Classic games, will take on the Bruins at Notre Dame Stadium next season in the latest edition of the outdoor contest. 

This will mark the sixth outdoor game that the Blackhawks have played. They hosted the 2009 Winter Classic at Wrigley Field and the 2014 Stadium Series at Soldier Field, and they also have played in outdoor games at Nationals Park (against the Washington Capitals), TCF Bank Stadium (against the Minnesota Wild), and Busch Stadium against the St. Louis Blues. 

The Bruins hosted the 2010 Winter Classic at Fenway Park and the 2016 Classic at Gillette Stadium, where they played the Montreal Canadiens. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Bears Announce Massive Expansion of Halas Hall]]> Sat, 18 Nov 2017 15:33:05 -0600 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Exterior+22.jpg

The Chicago Bears will double the size of Halas Hall in the coming years as part of a massive renovation of the Lake Forest facility, the team announced Friday.

According to the team, 162,500 square feet of new space will be added to the complex, with work projected to be completed in time for the 2019 season.

“The improvements being made at Halas Hall through this development project further exemplify the commitment the organization has to investing in the success of our football operations and making the Bears a premier destination,” Bears President and CEO Ted Phillips said in a statement.

A new indoor turf space will be added to the facility, along with a video projection wall measuring over 100 feet wide and a new virtual reality room. Locker rooms will be expanded at the facility, and a new players’ lounge will be constructed. 

Photo Credit: Chicago Bears
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<![CDATA[Cubs Player Evaluations: Javier Baez]]> Sat, 18 Nov 2017 14:13:35 -0600 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-862927136.jpg

Few players in baseball are capable of getting tongues wagging the way that Chicago Cubs infielder Javier Baez does.

Whether it’s his flamboyant tags, his aggressive swing, or his fun-loving demeanor, Baez has endeared himself to Cubs fans, and his 23 home runs this season definitely helped to cement his place among the most popular athletes on the Chicago sports landscape.

Aside from the bravado and the power, how did Baez do this season? We take on that question in today’s player evaluation.

Player Overview:

Baez appeared in 145 games for the Cubs this season, a career high. He slugged 23 home runs and drove in 75 RBI for the Cubs, both of which were career highs. He also struck out 144 times and batted .273 in his second full year.

Contract Status:

Baez remains under team control through next season, and will be eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2018 season. He will become an unrestricted free agent following the 2021 season, joining other big-name Cubs that could hit the market that year.

That list includes Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and Addison Russell, among others.

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Key Stats:

After dominating in the first two rounds of the playoffs in 2016, Baez went ice cold this October, going a staggering 0-for-20 in his first seven appearances for the Cubs. He did make up for it by slugging a pair of home runs in Game 4 of the NLCS against the Dodgers, but he followed that up with an 0-for-3 performance in Game 5.

Best Game of 2017:

In a May 18 game against the Cincinnati Reds, Baez went 3-for-3 and reached base four times. The slugger hit a home run and drove in five RBI for the Cubs, lifting his batting average 20 points in a single game. The Cubs went on to win the contest 9-5.

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Outlook for 2018:

Baez is constantly dangled as a potential trade chip for the Cubs, but the team’s front office has made it very clear that they don’t want to move him, even if it were to mean that they could get a cost-controlled starting pitcher to help bolster their rotation.

With Ben Zobrist seemingly taking a step back in 2017, it’s likely that Baez will once again see a ton of time at second base next season, but he could also see time at shortstop if Russell’s bat doesn’t start to come back around after a tough 2017 campaign.

Baez will definitely have to work on his plate discipline, as he struck out 144 times in 469 at-bats in the 2017 campaign. He did walk more often, drawing 30 free passes, and he did hit more home runs, but he’ll have to work on continuing to fine tune one of the most aggressive and free-wheeling swings in all of baseball. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cubs Prospects Look to Capture AFL Title]]> Sat, 18 Nov 2017 10:40:59 -0600 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-847145962.jpg

A pair of Chicago Cubs prospects will hope to bring their team a title on Saturday as the Mesa Solar Sox try to win their second consecutive Arizona Fall League crown.

The Solar Sox, who have some of the top prospects in all of baseball, will send Cubs prospect Alec Mills to the mound as he looks to help the team to victory. Mills, who posted a 2.57 ERA in seven starts at the minor league level this season, has a 1-3 record and a 3.91 ERA in six starts for the Solar Sox this fall.

Mills will be joined on the field by left fielder Charcer Burks, who will bat eighth for the Solar Sox on Saturday. Burks has seven doubles and seven RBI for the Solar Sox this fall, but has also struck out 19 times in 72 at-bats for the team.

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The duo will be joined by other top prospects like Washington Nationals phenom Victor Robles, who will bat lead-off and play center field for Mesa.

Last season, the Solar Sox beat the Surprise Saguaros in the title game thanks to the exploits of Ian Happ. The dynamic slugger homered from both sides of the plate in the game, leading Mesa to a 6-1 triumph in the contest.

The Solar Sox, who won the league’s East Division for the second straight year, will take on the Peoria Javelinas in the championship game, which will air on MLB Network beginning at 2 p.m. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Tampa Bay QB Denies Allegations of Groping Uber Driver]]> Fri, 17 Nov 2017 13:31:04 -0600 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/winstonuber.jpg

Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston took to social media Friday denying an allegation he groped an Uber driver in 2016.

In an interview with Buzzfeed News, a woman who identified herself only as Kate said she was hailed to downtown Scottsdale, Arizona to pick up a passenger Sunday March 13, 2016. There, she told BuzzFeed a small group of men placed Winston in the front passenger seat.

"I started driving, and right away, Jameis behaved poorly," she said. The driver says while waiting in line at a food drive-thru Winston "reached over and he just grabbed my crotch." She says he held his hand there for three to five seconds and removed it only after she looked up in shock and said, "What’s up with that? I wasn't just creeped out. I was frozen."

Winston took to social media to respond to the allegations.

"A news organization has published a story about me regarding an alleged incident involving a female Uber driver from approximately two years ago. The story falsely accuses me of making inappropriate contact with this driver," Winston wrote. "I believe the driver was confused as to the number of passengers in the car and who was sitting next to her."

Winston went on to say the accusation was false. He says he addressed the report immediately with Uber after the driver reported it, but his Uber account was still suspended.  

"I am supportive of the national movement to raise awareness and develop better responses to the concerns of parties who find themselves in these types of situations, but this accusation is false," Winston wrote.  "While I am certain that I did not make any inappropriate contact, I don’t want to engage in a battle with the driver and I regret if my demeanor or presence made her uncomfortable in any way."

According to ESPN, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy confirmed the "allegation was shared with the NFL and we have reached out to Uber to request any information they may have."

This isn't Winston's first foray into controversy. While in college the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner settled a dispute involving two federal lawsuits with a woman who accused him of rape, although Winston had said their encounter was consensual.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Trump Has a Ball as NCAA Champion Teams Visit]]> Fri, 17 Nov 2017 12:47:28 -0600 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/trumpballvb.jpg

President Donald Trump hosted 18 NCAA national championship teams at the White House on Friday, Nov. 17, even tossing around a volleyball with one.

<![CDATA[CTE Found in Living Ex-NFL Player for 1st Time: Study]]> Fri, 17 Nov 2017 08:52:15 -0600 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP_764021564440-Fred-McNeill-NFL-Player.jpg

The "unique pattern" of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the debilitating brain disease known as CTE, has been found for the first time in a patient before he died, NBC News reported.

It was detected in a brain scan of former Minnesota Vikings linebacker Fred McNeill, according to the doctors behind a study published in the journal Neurosurgery last week. The scan could lead to the development of treatments for the incurable disease.

CTE is caused by repeated blows to the head, and has been found in many dead NFL players' brains, including former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez, who killed himself in April before a murder conviction against him was cleared.

So far, the only way to definitively diagnose CTE is by looking at the brain after death, but a 2012 scan of McNeill's brain that seemed to show protein deposits characteristic of CTE was confirmed in an autopsy after McNeill died last year.

Photo Credit: AP Photo, File]]>
<![CDATA[Bears Release Thursday Injury Report]]> Thu, 16 Nov 2017 16:53:55 -0600 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-8616700801.jpg

The Chicago Bears continued their preparations for this week’s game against the Detroit Lions, and they’re still working without at least one of their key players.

That player, linebacker Danny Trevathan, missed practice for the second straight day with an ankle injury. That injury also kept him out of last week’s game against the Green Bay Packers, and it’s unclear at this point whether he will be able to play against the Lions in Week 11.

Cornerback Bryce Callahan, sidelined with a knee issue, and tight end Dion Sims, who has been out with an illness, also remained out for the Bears.

The illness that Sims is dealing with is still unknown, and head coach John Fox declined to go into details about what is going on during his press availability following practice on Thursday.

“OK, you’re dealing with an illness, and in some way, shape or form, there’s laws against that and there’s laws about it,” he said. “I mean I’m not being evasive, but I kind of am. And for the right reason.”

Sims hasn’t been able to practice since Week 8 of the season, and missed last week’s game against the Packers.

The Bears did get some good news on the injury front, as three players, including Kyle Long, who were limited in practice on Wednesday were full participants on Thursday. Cornerback Sherrick McManis and defensive lineman Roy Robertson-Harris were both on the field at Halas Hall at full capacity for the workout.

Linebacker Sam Acho, dealing with a shoulder issue, and offensive lineman Tom Compton, who left last week’s game with an ankle injury, both remained limited for the Bears during their workout.

For the Detroit Lions, their injury report remained exactly the same with Ziggy Ansah and Dwyane Washington both out of practice with injuries. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Report: Arrieta, Davis Turn Down Cubs' Qualifying Offers]]> Thu, 16 Nov 2017 16:24:26 -0600 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-8629427841.jpg

Jake Arrieta and Wade Davis have both turned down their qualifying offers from the Chicago Cubs, according to a new report. 

Both players were offered a one-year, $17.4 million deal by the Cubs, but both rejected the offer as they look to cash in on the open market by becoming unrestricted free agents. 

Cubs' MLB.com reporter Carrie Muskat broke the news on Thursday afternoon. 

Arrieta, who made just under $16 million last season, will arguably be the top free agent starting pitcher on the market, and could command a contract in excess of $150 million with numerous teams in pursuit of his services.

As for Davis, he’ll still command a hefty deal after making $10 million a season ago. Acquired for Jorge Soler in a trade with the Kansas City Royals, Davis will join other talented relievers like Brandon Morrow and Greg Holland.

Both players can still re-sign with the Cubs, but it doesn’t appear likely that the team will pony up the money needed to keep both pitchers in Chicago. 

If the pitchers opt to sign elsewhere, then the Cubs will receive draft pick compensation in next year's MLB Draft. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Hawks Players Join Young Athletes for 1st Skate at New Rink]]> Thu, 16 Nov 2017 13:48:00 -0600 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/KYE_11A_HAWKS+NEW+FACILITY+-+11012309_29717991.jpg

Blackhawks players join young athletes for the first skate at their new ice rink. It's a safe and positive place for the community to promote sports and health, officials say. NBC 5's Kye Martin reports from the arena with some of the big-name skaters. 

<![CDATA[Toews Lends Face to Toaster Campaign]]> Thu, 16 Nov 2017 14:13:04 -0600 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Toews+Toaster+11-16.png

You may have the biggest collection of Chicago Blackhawks gear in the world, but we guarantee you that you don’t have anything like this.

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews, as part of his partnership with Canadian Tire, will have his face put not on billboards, but on toast, as a special edition toaster that imprints his face onto bread will be on sale for one day only later this month.

Here is the Blackhawks’ captain teasing the new product:

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The toasters will go on sale Nov. 20, according to Canadian Tire, and proceeds will benefit the Jumpstart Foundation, which helps kids get active by providing money for sports equipment and athletic opportunities for underprivileged youth.

Fans interested in buying the toasters can sign up to be alerted when they go on sale. Toasters will also be made with the likenesses of Wayne Gretzky and Connor McDavid. 

Photo Credit: Canadian Tire
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<![CDATA[White Sox Acquire Fireballing Reliever From Mariners]]> Thu, 16 Nov 2017 13:03:33 -0600 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-831498240.jpg

The Chicago White Sox acquired a pitcher from the Seattle Mariners on Thursday that could potentially break the radar gun at Guaranteed Rate Field.

That pitcher, Thyago Vieira, was the eight-ranked prospect in the Mariners’ system, and in exchange the White Sox sent international signing bonus pool money to Seattle to complete the swap.

Vieira, who posted a 2-4 record with a 4.00 ERA in 41 appearances at the minor league level last season, can really bring the heat, clocking in at 104 MPH with his fastball according to scouts.

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Unfortunately, that speed comes at a price, as he walked 22 batters and hit three more in 54 innings of work. He did post 46 strikeouts, but his control will have to improve quite a bit if he’s going to be an effective pitcher at the big league level.

Vieira has one career MLB appearance, striking out a batter for the Mariners last season.

As for Seattle acquiring bonus pool money, odds are strong that they will try to leverage that money into an effort to sign highly-prized Japanese free agent Shoehei Otani, but that could hit a stumbling block as the MLBPA has challenged his posting status.

The White Sox have also been mentioned as a potential dark horse candidate to land his services, but trading away bonus pool money could put a damper on that possibility.

*h/t to NBC Sports Chicago for locating the video of Vieira throwing. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Wade, Chance Team Up on Documentary Film]]> Thu, 16 Nov 2017 19:05:58 -0600 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-859945440.jpg

Chicago natives Chance the Rapper and Dwyane Wade are teaming up to make a new film about high school basketball in the Windy City.

The project, called “Shot in the Dark” according to multiple reports, will feature the Orr Academy High School basketball team, and will be produced by Wade and Chance.

The former Bulls guard, now with the Cleveland Cavaliers, touted the project on his Instagram account:

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“Basketball empowered me to overcome the challenges of growing up on the south side of Chicago,” Wade said in a statement. “The odds were stacked against me, and the game changed the course of my life.”

The film will be released by Fox Sports Films, and will focus on former Orr Academy players Tyquone Greer and Marquise Pryor, according to Bleacher Report

The movie is part of a documentary series entitled "Magnify," which will begin airing on Fox at the end of November. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Cubs Player Evaluations: Jake Arrieta]]> Thu, 16 Nov 2017 11:55:17 -0600 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-862933162.jpg

Jake Arrieta’s contract status loomed over the Chicago Cubs throughout the season, but he still had a solid year for the North Siders as he put up 14 wins and struck out 163 batters in the final year of his contract with the team.

Arrieta, who will undoubtedly be an attractive free agent this offseason, saved some of his best pitching performances for the postseason, and although the Cubs came up short in the NLCS, he showed once again why he is considered a big game pitcher.

With that in mind, here’s our look at how he did in 2017, and what we can expect from him moving forward into next season.

Player Overview:

After struggling in the first half of the season, Arrieta seemed to find his form in the second half, posting a .215 batting average against and a 2.28 ERA in 12 starts after the All-Star break.

He continued that strong pitching into the playoffs, where he gave up just one earned run in 11 innings of work for the Cubs. He also scored their lone win of the NLCS against the Dodgers, pitching six and two thirds innings of one run ball as the Cubs won at Wrigley Field.

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Contract Status:

Arrieta is an unrestricted free agent, meaning that he will be free to sign with any team this winter. The Cubs did give him a qualifying offer, which ensures that they will be compensated with a draft pick if he signs with another club.

With Yu Darvish’s struggles in the postseason, it’s entirely likely that Arrieta will be the top-paid pitcher on the market, and the Cubs may not have the money to shell out to retain his services.

Key Stats:

Arrieta had slightly worse luck in the 2017 season, as his batting average on balls in play went up by nearly 40 points to .279. That can be partly attributed to a slight dip in velocity, but it can also be blamed partially on the Cubs’ defense being worse than it was when it was historically good in 2016.

Arrieta also gave up home runs at a higher clip, indicating that he was allowing a bit more hard contact. His home run-to-fly ball ratio shot up to 14 percent, the highest level it’s been since his 2012 season with the Baltimore Orioles.

He ramped up his velocity as the season wore on, but his ability to get hitters to swing and miss is key to his game, and he’ll need to find that again if he’s going to remain a successful pitcher.

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Best Game of 2017:

Arrieta didn’t throw a no-hitter in 2017, as he had the previous two seasons, but arguably his best effort of the season came in an August loss to Arizona.

In that game, Arrieta gave up just three hits and one earned run, and struck out eight batters. More importantly, he induced 10 ground balls, using great sinking action on his pitches to thwart the Diamondbacks’ hitters. Unfortunately, an error by Addison Russell on a potential double play ball allowed Jake Lamb the chance to knock in two runs, and the Cubs ultimately fell.

Outlook for 2018:

Obviously we don’t know where Arrieta will be plying his trade in 2018, but we can guess he’ll go to a team with a lot of playoff potential and some money to spend. The Cubs do fit that bill, but other teams like the Los Angeles Dodgers do as well.

If Arrieta leaves, the Cubs will have to likely add a third or fourth starter to their rotation, and players like Alex Cobb could potentially fit that bill. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Trevathan, Sims Miss Bears Practice]]> Wed, 15 Nov 2017 15:53:12 -0600 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-8595495601.jpg

The Chicago Bears were once again missing a few key players in their practice on Wednesday as they begin preparations to face the Detroit Lions.

Linebacker Danny Trevathan, who missed Sunday’s game against the Green Bay Packers with an ankle injury, missed Wednesday’s workout at Halas Hall, according to the team. Trevathan’s absence was a big part of the reason why the team’s defense struggled in a 23-16 loss to the Packers at Soldier Field.

Tight end Dion Sims, who has not been practicing with the team and also missed Sunday’s game due to an illness, was once again off the field Wednesday, meaning that tight end Adam Shaheen could potentially get the lion’s share of the workload this week as well.

Slot cornerback Bryce Callahan also missed the workout with a knee issue that kept him out of Wednesday’s game.

Five Bears players were limited participants in the workout, including Kyle Long, who was active for Sunday but only played one snap as he continues to deal with a finger injury. Linebacker Sam Acho (shoulder), defensive linemen Tom Compton (ankle) and Roy Robertson-Harris (hamstring) also sat out.

For the Lions, Defensive end Ezekiel Ansah missed Wednesday’s workout with a back injury, and safety Don Carey was limited with a knee issue.

The Bears and Lions will square off on Sunday afternoon at Soldier Field, with kickoff scheduled for noon. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lions vs. Bears: First Thoughts]]> Wed, 15 Nov 2017 12:57:08 -0600 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Untitled213.jpg

The Chicago Bears are coming off of a stinging loss to the Green Bay Packers, but they won’t get much of a reprieve as they’ll take on the Detroit Lions this week at Soldier Field.

The Bears, who were unable to stop Brett Hundley and the short-handed Packers in their last game, will now have to face one of the NFL’s most potent passing offenses. Matthew Stafford and the Lions are averaging 254.3 yards per game through the air, and with talented pass catchers like Golden Tate and Marvin Jones Jr. in the mix, the Bears’ secondary is going to have a big task on its hands.

The Bears’ secondary has proven itself to a degree this season, giving up 205 yards per game, 10th-best in the NFL. They were exposed a bit against Green Bay, as Kyle Fuller’s propensity to play off the line of scrimmage and to try to make aggressive plays on the ball, rather than jamming receivers at the point of attack, proved to be a liability against Hundley and company.

While those numbers are intriguing, the real question is going to be whether or not the Bears can take advantage of Detroit’s weaknesses. The Lions give up nearly 250 yards per game through the air, but even with Mitchell Trubisky at the helm the Bears have been one of the league’s worst passing attacks, averaging under 170 yards per game this season.

That could be changing, with Dontrelle Inman giving Trubisky another passing option and with Dowell Loggains opening up the playbook a bit, but the rookie quarterback will have to showcase better footwork and quicker decision-making skills if he’s going to work against an average-to-below-average line.

The Bears’ standard tactic of running the ball may not work against Detroit either. The Bears average just under 122 yards per game on the ground, but Detroit’s rushing defense is one of the best in football, allowing just a shade over 100 yards per game to opposing rushers.

That clash of strengths will be a key, as it will likely force the Bears to go to the air more often than they have in most of the games Trubisky has started.

In the big picture, this game will feature some interesting subplots, but it means a lot to the Lions, who are facing a tough Minnesota team on Thanksgiving. A short-turnaround and the two-game gap that they face in the NFC North could leave them looking ahead just a bit, and if the Bears can take advantage of that, and finally get their passing game going, then they could give Detroit some issues on Sunday afternoon. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Olympians' Favorite Thanksgiving Dishes]]> Wed, 15 Nov 2017 12:42:11 -0600 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/AdobeStock_95072047.jpeg

White meat or dark meat? Fresh cranberries or canned? Sweet potatoes or regular mashed potatoes? When it comes to Thanksgiving dishes, Team USA athletes are taking sides.

Photo Credit: evgenyb - stock.adobe.com]]>
<![CDATA[Cubs Player Evaluations: Albert Almora]]> Wed, 15 Nov 2017 12:03:56 -0600 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-861407366.jpg

Albert Almora Jr. has been one of the most highly touted prospects in the Chicago Cubs’ system, combining a stellar glove with a solid approach at the plate throughout his big league career.

In his second season, Almora got caught in a bit of a logjam in the outfield, as Joe Maddon and the Cubs attempted to get as many guys playing time as possible.

With that in mind, here’s our look at how he did in 2017, and what we can expect from him moving forward into next season.

Player Overview:

Almora had a respectable 2017 season for the Cubs, hitting just a shade under .300 with eight home runs and 46 RBI in 323 plate appearances. He was used primarily as a starting center fielder against left handed pitching, but often was the odd man out as Kyle Schwarber, Jon Jay, Ian Happ, and Jason Heyward got the bulk of the playing time in the outfield.

Contract Status:

Almora is under team control for the next two seasons, and won’t be arbitration eligible until the year 2020. He won’t hit unrestricted free agency until 2023.

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Key Stats:

There was a very good reason that Maddon used Almora as a platoon-type player. His batting average against left-handed pitchers was 71 points higher than his average against righties (.342 to .271) and his on-base percentage was a staggering 120 points better against lefties, as he posted a very strong .411 OBP vs. southpaws.

He also drew more walks in 73 fewer plate appearances, struck out 19 fewer times, and posted an OPS that was nearly 200 points higher than it was against right-handed hurlers. Those are some stark differences, and while they mask the improvements that he made against righties, it’s pretty obvious why he was used the way that he was.

Best Game of 2017:

Even though he hit a home run against Clayton Kershaw in the NLCS, Almora’s best game of the season came in a contest he didn’t even start. With the Cubs already well ahead of the Mets in a game on Sept. 13, Almora came into the contest and promptly hit a three-run home run off of Kevin McGowan, and then followed that up with a bases-clearing triple against Jamie Callahan that plated three more runs an inning later.

Almora ended up with six RBI in just two at-bats, and he helped lead the Cubs to a 17-5 triumph.

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Outlook for 2018: 

One of the biggest questions the Cubs will face this offseason is how they plan to deal with their glut of outfielders. They currently have five players that regularly play the outfield, with Schwarber no longer able to play catcher on a regular basis and with Happ more likely to play center field than second base with Ben Zobrist and Javier Baez remaining on the team.

Of course, a trade could change the equation in that regard, and Almora has both been linked to possible trades to acquire starting pitching and with increased playing time by virtue of another piece being moved, so it’s hard to hone in on exactly what his role will be next year.

For now, the assumption has to be made that he will continue to be a mostly platoon player who plays against lefties and comes in to play defense in the late innings of games, but that could change based on the make-up of next year’s roster. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Roy Halladay Remembered By Family, Friends, Teammates]]> Tue, 14 Nov 2017 19:00:59 -0600 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/halladaymemorial.png

Former Philadelphia Phillies and Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Roy Halladay was remembered by friends, family and teammates at a celebration of life in Clearwater, Florida, Nov. 14. Halladay died in a plane crash on Nov. 7.

<![CDATA[UCLA Basketball Players Detained in China Returning Home]]> Tue, 14 Nov 2017 14:19:18 -0600 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/212*120/UCLA.jpeg

Three freshman UCLA Basketball players are on their way home from China after being detained on suspicion of shoplifting in Shanghai.

<![CDATA[These US Olympians Made the Jump Between Summer and Winter Games]]> Tue, 14 Nov 2017 14:10:07 -0600 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/eddie-egan.jpg Since the modern Olympics were founded in 1896, there are only a handful of Americans who have participated in both the Summer and Winter Games. Here are the athletes who have competed in both.

Photo Credit: Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[LeBron, Cavs Hop on NYC Subway; One Rider Is NOT Impressed]]> Tue, 14 Nov 2017 04:41:16 -0600 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/SPORTS+LEBRON+JAMES+-+11093512_WNBC_000000018618977.jpg

A Monday morning subway ride with a team of NBA players? Only in New York. 

Video posted to the Cavaliers' Twitter account shows LeBron James and his teammates, in town to play the Knicks at Madison Square Garden, hopping on the subway from Penn Station back to their hotel after practice Monday morning. Former Knick J.R. Smith was among the train-taking contingent.

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"We had two options: a 45-minute bus ride or a six-minute train ride, so we decided to hop on the train with the squad," James says in another video. 

James and Dwyane Wade managed to grab seats, but their other teammates who had to stand didn't exactly have much clearance in ceiling room.

"We're squishing," James remarks as he films his teammates scrunched over in the subway car. 

James said it was his first time riding the subway in New York.

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Despite their apparent effort at staying incognito in hoodies, the players didn't exactly blend in. Eagle-eyed straphangers who noticed them on the train waved and said hello. But a man -- later identified as James Michael Angelo -- seated next to James became irritated when James pointed the camera in selfie mode toward him and says, "Can you not?" before putting his hand in front of his face.

New Yorkers, after all, are notoriously hard to impress.

Later Monday, Angelo posted his own video inside his office explaining himself. 

"I had no idea who LeBron James was, because I don't watch football," he said. 

The woman filiming Angelo corrects, "Basketball."

"Oh it's basketball?" he says. 

The MTA, for its part, tweeted in response to the video: "Thanks so much for taking the subway Lebron, but the King of this town is @kporzee and we're riding with the Knicks tonight." 

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Photo Credit: News 4 New York
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