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Monthly Archives: August 2012

NIU vs. Iowa @ Soldier Field 9/1/2012

This weekend (September 1st, 2012) Northern Illinois will face Iowa at Soldier Field. Make sure to stop by Clark Street Sports for your favorite Huskies and Hawkeyes Tee-Shirts before the big game.
 

Iowa Hawkeyes in Chicago Tee-Shirt

Northern Illinois in Chicago Tee-Shirt

Iowa Hawkeyes in Chicago Tee-Shirt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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MLB: The AL Central featured the best starting pitching over the past 8 years…but what about now?

Can you name the only division that’s had 6 of the past 8 AL Cy Young Award Winners? If you guessed the American League Central you’d be right. A large number of people feel the American League Central is a below average division shown by the number of Pennant (2005 Chicago White Sox and 2006 Detroit Tigers) and World Series winners (2005 Chicago White Sox) during those 8 years. Even though only 2 of the 5 teams from this division reached the World Series, it still doesn’t take away from the quality of arms that were thrown out during this 8 year span.

So for all those wondering, the 5 different pitchers (6 overall as one player won the award twice), who won this award from the AL Central were Johan Santana (20042006), CC Sabathia (2007), Cliff Lee (2008), Zack Greinke (2009), and Justin Verlander (2011). An even more astonishing stat then that four of the five teams (Chicago White Sox) had at-least one player win a Cy Young Award during this amazing stretch. In addition to that, only 1 of the 5 players is still on the team they won their Cy Young Award with: 2011 winner Justin Verlander. The teams from the American and National East might of receive the most attention over the past decade, but it was the AL Central that routinely threw out the best pitchers each day.

That was the past, what about now? Which division has the best starting pitching in baseball? Below is a breakdown each division’s starting staff’s from worst to best.

6. NL Central: Over the past decade, the National League has seen a number of quality arms come through this division (Mark Prior, Kerry Wood, Carlos Zambrano, Roy Oswalt, Rodger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Zach Greinke) but all of them have one thing in common: there no longer in the NL Central. So who are a few of the top starting pitchers as of now: Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Adam Wainwright (2010 All-Star), Kyle Lohse, Jeff Samardzija, Matt Garza, A.J. Burnett, and Yovani Gallardo (2010 All-Star). All of the pitchers mentioned in the previous sentence are quality starting pitchers but not elite as shown in the 2 combined All-Star Game appearances.

5. AL Central: What used to be the division with the best starting pitching in baseball has since turned into a division with a few quality starters. Even with Santana, Sabathia, Lee, and Greinke leaving this division, the AL Central is still led by three excellent arms in Justin Verlander (2011 AL Cy Young Award winner), Jake Peavy (2007 NL Cy Young Award Winner), and Chris Sale (2012 All-Star). In addition to those three individuals, the AL Central also has Max Scherzer, Doug Fister, Justin Masterson, and Scott Diamond. This list doesn’t come close to the quality of arms that the AL Central had in the past but it’s not that a bad list of starters.

4. AL East: I know the majority of people believe that because the Red Sox and Yankees it should equate to making the AL East the best at everything, but if you look at the starting pitchers in the other division’s, its easy to realize the AL East doesn’t have nearly the quality of starters that make up the other three divisions. The two elite pitchers in the AL East are CC Sabathia (2007 Cy Young Award Winner) and David Price (3 time All-Star). However, the reason this division is ranked fourth (and not 5th or 6th) is due to the depth of quality starters in this division which includes Hiroki Kuroda, Ivan Nova, Jeremy Hellickson (2011 AL Rookie of the Year), James Shields (2011 All-Star), Matt Moore, Wei-Yin Chen, Clay Buchholz (2010 time All-Star), Josh Beckett (3 time All-Star), Ricky Romero (2011 All-Star), and Brandon Morrow. There’s bunch of solid pitchers in the AL East but not enough Ace’s to put make this one of the top three divisions for best starting pitching in baseball.

3. NL West: I went back and forth when deciding the three best starting pitching divisions in all of baseball but in the end I decided to put the NL West third on my list. At the beginning of my article, I mentioned that 6 of the past 8 Cy Young Award winners came from the AL Central which was most within that timeframe. However, during those same 8 years, the NL West saw 5 of 8 and 10 of the past 13 NL Cy-Young winners come from this division. As impressive as that is, like the AL Central, the majority of the previous winners have moved on from their this division as Tim Lincecum (2008 and 2009) and Clayton Kershaw (2011) are the lone Cy-Young winners who are still on a NL West Team. In addition to those two pitchers, the NL West also has one of (if not the most) underrated pitchers in all of baseball in Matt Cain who threw a perfect game this year in addition to not allowing an earned run during the 2010 MLB Playoffs as he helped lead the Giants to their first World Series Championship in over 50 years. Aside from those three pitchers, the National League West also includes Ryan Vogelsong (2011 All-Star), Madison Bumgarner, Chad Billingsley (2009 All-Star), Wade Miley (2012 All-Star), Trevor Cahill (2010 All-Star), and Ian Kennedy. This division currently has the third best starting pitching in all of baseball but in about 2 years, I believe the NL West will feature the best starting pitching in baseball.

2. NL East: The NL East is a division that’s made up of both younger and older elite starters. The NL East has 3 former Cy Young Award winners: Roy Halladay (2003 and 2010), Johan Santana (2004 and 2006), and Cliff Lee (2010) along with a number of other Ace’s. Included in the next line of starting pitchers from the NL East areStephen Strasburg (2012 All-Star), Gio Gonzalez (2 time All-Star), Jordan Zimmerman, Tim Hudson (3 time All-Star), Tommy Hanson, R.A. Dickey (All-Star 2012), Cole Hamels (3 time All-Star), Mark Buehrle (4 time All-Star), and Josh Johnson (2 time All-Star). Its pretty remarkable to see the amount of All-Stars that are apart of this division as over the past few seasons this has transformed into one of the best divisions for starting pitching in all of baseball.

1. AL West: As impressive as the starters in the NL East are, I still feel the division that features the best starers in all of baseball is the American League West. As of now, the AL West has 2 former Cy Young Award winners in Zack Greinke (2009) and Felix Hernandez (2010) along with the frontrunner for the 2012 AL Cy Young Award in Jarred Weaver who threw a no hitter earlier this season. Along with those three hitters, the American League West (which unlike the other divisions has only 4 teams until next year) also includes Yu Darvish (2012 All-Star), Ryan Dempster (2 time All-Star), Matt Harrison (2012 All-Star), Brandon McCarthyC.J. Wilson (2 time All-Star), Dan Haren (3 time All-Star), and Jason Vargas. In addition to the names listed above, the AL West has a number of young and exciting arms in the minors that will be household name within the next few years in Tommy Milone, Brad Peacock, Jarrod Parker, Danny Hultzen, and Taijuan Walker. With the majority of these starters still in their prime, I feel the AL West will continue to be known as one of the best divisions in baseball.

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When will the Blackhawks make a key move?

Surprisingly, after back-to back offseason’s that saw the Hawks sign the two biggest free agents on the market (Brian Campbell and Marian Hossa), since then Chicago has become one of the NHL’s quietest teams. Following the Blackhawks winning the 2010 Stanley Cup, the team was forced to let go a number of significant players from their roster in Andrew LaddKris VersteegDustin Byfuglien, and Antti Niemi they had a number of big contracts on their books (Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Brian Campbell, Duncan Keith, Patrick Sharp, and Marian Hossa).

As a fan of this team, I completely understand why the Hawks decided to not make any key signings following the 2010 season, but following a tough 7 game first round series loss to Vancouver, Chicago decided to trade away one of the teams highest paid players (Brian Campbell), along with a number of other solid role players from the team that won the cup ((Troy Brower and Thomas Kopecky) and replaced them with older veterans (Andrew Brunette, Daniel Carcillo, Jamal MayersSteve Montador, and Sean O’Donnell). As for the 2012 offseason (which once again saw the Hawks bounced from the playoffs following another First Round exit), Chicago reportedly attempted to sign a number of big name players (Martin Brodeur, Zach Parise, and Ryan Suter) so they could add to their team. In the end, we now know the Blackhawks were unable able to sign one of these players as Brodeur resigned with New Jersey Devils while Parise and Suter signed with Conference rival Minnesota.

Like I said in the previous paragraph, I completely understood why the Hawks decided to not make any moves after they won the cup, however, the previous two offseason’s has see the Hawks not make any significant moves. I understand there weren’t a lot of significant free agents after the 2011 season, but that doesn’t mean the Hawks couldn’t still look to upgrade their “core” via a trade. Following the 2011 season, I was a bit surprised to see the Hawks not add any significant parts to their team; however, during this past offseason, I was shocked that Chicago (which saw them lose in the first round for the second straight year) decided to once again not make any significant additions to their roster. Since the Hawks were unable to sign Brodeur, Parise, and Suter this past offseason; below are players that I feel the Hawks should look into acquiring if they want to be considered a a legitimate contender for another Stanley Cup.

1) Ryan GetzlafI understand that to acquire a player like Ryan Getzlaf  it would force the Hawks to give up a number of prospects in addition to resigning him to big contract (I’ll get to that soon). However, if the Blackhawks were able to pull this off, then this team would finally have the second line center that they’ve been missing since they won the cup. In 2011, Getzlaf had one of his worst statistical seasons but even with that he still has the capability of being one of the most productive players in the NHL and would give the Hawks four strong centers on their roster (Toews, Getzlaf, Marcus Kruger/Dave Bolland, and Mayers.

So is it realistic the Ducks would look to trade Ryan Getzlaf? Yes, for a few reasons. For one, Ryan Getzlaf is scheduled to become a unrestricted free agent following the 2013 season and the Ducks might look to acquire as much as they can in case he decides to leave Anaheim. Also, the Ducks are a team that’s looking to rebuild so trading Getzlaf would allow for them to start their rebuilding process in addition to acquiring a number of quality prospects and draft picks from the Hawks.

What’s the percentage Ryan Getzlaf gets traded to the Blackhawks before the 2013 NHL Trade Deadline: (45%) Because I feel the Blackhawks will finally realize they still missing a legitimate number two center on their roster, in the end the Hawks will realize they still need to upgrade the second line center, and Getzlaf would be the perfect player to fill this role.

2) Bobby Ryan: For some unknown reason, the Anaheim Ducks have decided to reportedly put star left winger Bobby Ryan on the Trade Block. Like Getzlaf, Ryan (the 2nd overall pick in the 2005 NHL Draft) had an unimpressive 2011 season, but at 25 he still has a ton of talent in addition to being signed for three more season’s for a reasonable contract. The only reason I feel Anaheim decided to put Ryan on the trade block is that (like  Getzlaf) Ryan would bring the Ducks a number of quality in return.

What’s the percentage Bobby Ryan gets traded to the Blackhawks before the 2013 NHL Trade Deadline: (25%) I do believe current Duck Bobby Ryan will be traded in the near future; however, because he’s a winger and not a true center (which the Hawks are looking for), I think Chicago will look elsewhere and pass on the American born winger.

3) Jarome IginlaIf the Blackhawks are unable to acquire a “traditional” number 2 center, then I feel this franchise should place a call to Calgary and look to acquire a proven goal scorer. Since entering the league in the 1996-97 season, Iginla’s has only played and known one organization (the Calgary Flames) so it’ll be difficult for both Iginla and the Flames to part ways.

What’s the percentage Jarome Iginla gets traded to the Blackhawks before the 2013 NHL Trade Deadline: (15%) If the question was “Do I feel Iginla will be traded before the trade deadline”, I’d put this at 70%, but because were just talking about just the Blackhawks, I feel Iginla will not be make the “Madhouse on Madison his home. So why do I feel Jarome Iginla will be traded before the 2013  trade deadline? Because Jarome Iginla is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent following the 2012-13 season and (simular to Getzlaf) the Flames will look to acquire a few key members before the end of his contract. Even though the Blackhawks would be a quality trade partner for the Flames (in addition to having a significant amount of cap space), I still  feel the Hawks won’t be able to acquire him for two key reasons. The first reason I feel this trade won’t happen is because both the Hawks and Flames are in the same conference (Western) and I’m not sure Calgary wants to see the best player in their franchise’s history cost them a possible Playoff spot. As for the other reason, Chicago hasn’t made it to the second round of the playoffs since they won the cup in 2010 and I’m sure Jarome Iginla will want to be apart of a Franchise that’s hasn’t gone deep into the playoffs the past two years. With that said, I feel if the Hawks were able to acquire Jarome Iginla then they’d be considered one of (if not) the top team in the west.

Will the Hawks make a key trade prior to the 2013 NHL Trade Deadline: Yes. The main reason I feel they’ll make an additional trade is because the Hawks will realize they need to add an additional goal score if they want to go deep in the 2013 NHL playoffs.

Please share your responses and follow us on Twitter(https://twitter.com/ClarkStSports), Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/clarkstreetsports), Pinterest(http://pinterest.com/clarkstsports/), Google Plus (Clark Street Sports), and now Flickr(http://www.flickr.com/photos/clarkstreetsports). Remember to also check out our merchandise at http://www.clarkstreetsports.com/

 

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October 3rd, 2012 will be Alfonso Soriano’s Last Game as a member of the Chicago Cubs.

The 2012 Trade Deadline has passed and Alfonso Soriano is still a member of the Chicago Cubs. With that said, this past Trade Deadline was the first time Soriano’s name was mentioned in legitimate trade rumors since the 2006 MLB Trade Deadline when he was a member of the Washington Nationals.

So why will the Cubs trade Soriano before the start of the 2013 season?

3 Reasons:

1) Soriano has shown  that he still has something left in the tank: Quietly, Alfonso Soriano has put together a strong 2012 season on the North Side hitting .270 with 19 HR and 64 RBI on the year. For any other player, those stats would equate to a productive season however, because his first 2012 Home Run came on May 15th, it shows that had Soriano hit a few Home Runs in the month and a half of the season, he could have been in the top 10 for Home Runs on the season. To put this into perspective, Soriano has hit 19 Home Runs in his last 70 games while Home Run Leader (Adam Dunn) has 31 HR’s since Opening Day. Because of this, I feel Soriano has a few quality  year left in him as he can be a productive player to a number of lineups. With that said Soriano’s has a one problem: he struggles to playing in the field which I feel limits him to only American League team. This leads me to my second reason why I feel Alfonso Soriano will be traded…

2) A number of American League teams need to upgrade from their current DHThere’s a handful of teams that feature quality DH’s…and a number of teams that need to trade for a player of Soriano’s skill set .

Here’s a list of Teams that don’t need to upgrade from their current DH: Chicago White Sox (Adam Dunn), Detroit Tigers (Victor Martinez), Kansas City Royals (Billy Butler), Boston Red Sox (David Ortiz), and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (Kendrys Morales if they decide to not trade him to a team that needs a first baseman).

So that takes 5 teams off the list, what about the other 10 AL Teams (remember Houston will be moving to the American League starting in 2013). In the past, Soriano has said he doesn’t want to play for a West Coast team which eliminates three AL Teams: Oakland, Los Angeles Angels (even though he said he would play for the Dodgers so I feel he’d add them to his list), and Seattle. In addition to that, I’m not sure the Texas Rangers or New York Yankees need him on their roster as both teams already feature strong lineups while already having a significant amount of older players on their respective rosters: Derek Jeter (38), Alex Rodriguez (37), Mark Teixeira (32) for the Yankees and Michael Young (35), Adrian Beltre (33), Nelson Cruz (32), and possibly Josh Hamilton (31) if they resign him. Lastly, a few other teams won’t be interested in acquiring Soriano as these teams would look to either rebuild (Astros) or play the younger players in their Farm System (Blue Jays). After taking 11 American League teams, there’s 4 realistic options left for Alfonso Soriano to be traded to during the offseason.

Below are the four realistic trade options for Alfonso Soriano:

Minnesota Twins: I believe there’s a realistic landing spot for Soriano because I think the Twins will look to trade Justin Morneau (if he passes his physical) during the offseason to a team that needs a quality First Baseman. In addition to that, I also feel Minnesota will look to play Joe Mauer at First which will force them to acquire an additional quality bat in their lineup… enter Soriano. Alfonso would give them the DH they’ve been looking for since deciding to let David Ortiz leave over a decade ago.

Cleveland Indians: Cleveland has a number of quality bats in their lineup: (Carlos SantanaAsdrubal Cabrera, Jason Kipnis, and Michael Brantley) but might have a hole at DH as Travis Hafner’s scheduled to be a Free Agent following the 2012 season. The Indians are a possible landing spot for Soriano as a trade here would allow for him to stay in the Midwest and would give this team an additional bat they’ve been missing.

Baltimore Orioles: Outside of the Angles (if they decided to trade Kendrys Morales), I feel the Orioles are the most likely team to trade for Soriano. Baltimore has a few key impact hitter’s on their roster in Adam Jones, Matt Wietersand top prospect Manny Machado. That’s a nice start, but I still feel the O’s are missing at least one more additional power bat in their lineup, and that’s where Soriano would fit in. With his power bat added to their lineup, I feel the Orioles would be provided an additional dimension to their lineup.

Tampa Bay Rays: The Rays have a number of quality hitters on their roster in Evan LongoriaDesmond Jennings, and Matt Joyce. Like division rival Baltimore, Tampa Bay’s lineup’s includes three quality bats but they still need to add additional depth to fill out the rest of their lineup. Soriano sounds like a good option for the Rays but there’s one key problem with this situation… Manager Joe Maddon likes having a rotating DH so Soriano would have to play he field a few time a week. If Soriano and the Rays both feel he’s able to play the field a few times a week, then this would become a realistic option for the Rays and would provide them the bat there currently looking for.

And finally, the third reason and final reason I feel October 3rd, 2012 will be Alfonso Soriano’s last game as a Chicago Cub:

3) The Cubs will look to take on the majority of his contract: During the past week, the Cubs made it clear they want to see what’s in their Farm System by playing Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro, Brett Jacksonand Josh Vitters everyday. 

Below are the 5 most likely teams to trade for Alfonso Soriano:

1) Baltimore Orioles

2) Minnesota Twins

3) Cleveland Indians 

4) Tampa Bay Rays

5) Los Angeles Angeles 

Please share your responses and follow us on Twitter(https://twitter.com/ClarkStSports), Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/clarkstreetsports), Pinterest(http://pinterest.com/clarkstsports/), Google Plus (Clark Street Sports), and now Flickr(http://www.flickr.com/photos/clarkstreetsports). Remember to also check out our merchandise at http://www.clarkstreetsports.com/

 

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Clark Street Sports Museum Campus Location

Clark Street Sports is best known for having a number of retail stores in Illinois and Indiana. In addition to having a number of great retail stores, Clark Street Sports also has few Stands throughout the Chicagoland Area. One of our most convenient locations is our Museum Campus Stand which is located along the walkway that leads to some of the best Museum’s in the country. In addition to being just steps from Soldier Field, our Stand is also close to a number of different “L” stops. For those who use the “L” the location of this location also works again as were just blocks away from the Green, Red, and Orange Lines. If you get off the “L” at the Roosevelt Stop and go east towards the lake, you’ll see a path that leads you under Lake Shore Drive which eventually leads into Clark Street Sports Stand.

Museum Campus Location

In addition to having a great variety of Chicago Sports merchandise, we also feature a number of products that represent Chicago. Some of the Chicago items includes: The Blues BrothersThe Flag of Chicago,  and of course The Best Skyline’s in the World. This Stand is one of the best Locations in the city and is tremendously convenient for those who decide to attend an event at one of the Museum’s, go to an event at Soldier Field, or walk around Chicago on a perfect summer day.

Clark Street Sports Museum Campus Location

Inside our Museum Campus Stand

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When Will Carlos Boozer Be Amnestied By the Bulls?

As the summer goes on, each diehard Bulls fan asks the same question: When will the Chicago Bulls Amnesty Carlos Boozer? Unfortunately for a number of Bulls fans, I feel it’ll be a couple of years until the Bulls amnesty their starting Power Forward.

Carlos Boozer has been with the Bulls for the past two seasons and was one of only three players on the Bulls roster to play in all 66 games last year. At the same time, a number of the key games that the Bulls were involved in saw Carlos Boozer struggle  and not able to provide them with the production they expected to receive from their second highest paid player.

2012-2013 Chicago Bulls: For the upcoming season, the Bulls are one of the many franchises that’s over the soft cap and on the verge of going over the hard cap. If Chicago was to exceed the hard cap, then the Bulls would have to pay a penalty to the NBA for each dollar they were over the Luxury Tax. With the current 2012-2013 payroll just up against the hard cap, the Bulls decided to transform their bench by only bring back Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler from last year.

Taj Gibson Player Tee-Shirt

So will Boozer be amnestied before the start of this season? NO. Why? Because the deadline to amnesty a player for the 2012-2013 has come and gone so the Bulls won’t amnesty Boozer this year. What About Amnestying Boozer for the 2013-2014 Season?

2013 Offseason: The 2013-2014 Chicago Bulls will feature a roster that’ll include 4 players making over $12 million per season (and a possibile new contract for Taj Gibson), Kirk Hinrich, and a few other players on rookie contracts. Because of this, I feel the Bulls will look to keep Carlos Boozer for another season and not amnesty him for the 2013-2014 NBA season. Along those lines, I don’t feel the Bulls front office will want to pay Carlos Boozer $32 Million over 2 years to not play for this team.

Carlos Boozer Player Tee-Shirt

As for the Following Offseason…

2014 offseason: Bulls fans, this is when I feel the organization will look to use their one (and only) amnesty clause on Carlos Boozer. During the summer of 2014, Chicago should have great deal of cap space (Luol Deng’s set to be a free agent following the 2014 season), which would intrigue the Bulls to amnesty Carlos Boozer one season prior to fulfilling his final contractual season. If Chicago  decides to amnesty Boozer, allow Deng to leave via Free Agency, and resign Taj Gibson to a backloaded contract, then the Bulls could rebuild their core around Derrick RoseJoakim Noah, and another elite player.

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