Archives for September 2008

Mr. Chicago Baseball Exclusive Part II: Steve Stone talks Cubs

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By Paul M. Banks 

As the only person to work for both Chicago baseball teams as both a player and as a broadcaster, current White Sox radio color analyst Steve Stone is the foremost authority on Chicago baseball. Stone or “Stony” as he is nicknamed, has also done television broadcasts for ESPN and TBS and will become the Sox television analyst in 2009. Stony, also 670 The Score’s lead Baseball Analyst, is well known and loved for his baseball predictions, the high rate at which these predictions comes true, and the multitude of products that he has endorsed over the years. From 1983-97, Stone was the WGN color commentator for Chicago Cubs telecasts, working with Hall of Fame announcer Harry Caray for 15 years.
As a player, Stony won a Cy Young and The Sporting News Pitcher of the Year award in 1980. From 1983-97, Stone was the WGN color commentator for Chicago Cubs telecasts, working with Hall of Fame announcer Harry Caray for 15 years. After Harry’s death in February 1998, Stone was paired with Caray’s grandson Chip. Stone left the booth due to health reasons in 2000, but returned for 2003 and 2004.

As a player, Stony won a Cy Young and The Sporting News Pitcher of the Year award in 1980. That year he led the league in wins (25-7 for the Baltimore Orioles) and won-lost percentage (.781), and was 2nd in games started (37), 7th in ERA (3.23), strikeouts (149), hits allowed/9 IP (8.04), and hit batsmen (6), and 9th in innings (250.7). At one point, he had won 14 games in a row. He also pitched 3 perfect innings in the All-Star Game. He is regarded to be one of the best Jewish-American pitchers in major league history, 3rd career-wise in wins (107) and strikeouts (1,065), behind Ken Holtzman and Sandy Koufax.

I had an exclusive with Stony on Saturday night before the Sox-Indians game. Here’s what he had to say about the Cubs and their postseason prospects:

SS: “They’re certainly capable of beating anybody, but I think they scored 17 runs, total against the Dodgers for the season. So the Dodgers are a team that can shut them down, not saying that they will, but I do think the Dodgers can create a more difficult match-up. And then probably the other team is Philadelphia. The first round is when you’re more likely to be knocked out by a team you’re actually better than. In 3 of 5 a lot more so than in 4 of 7. Although in 4 of 7 the best team doesn’t always win either.”

His thoughts on the Cubs playoff rotation with Ryan Dempster first…

SS: “Seeing as how I called for that a month and a half ago, I think that’s the right decision. A month and half ago, when everyone was saying Zambrano was the right decision, I said that Dempster was the right choice because he’s been close to unbeatable at home, and the wind most likely will be blowing in at Wrigley Field, he’s much steadier than Zambrano. He probably won’t give you the great game that Zambrano occasionally does, but I do know he is 100% healthy which I didn’t know with Zambrano. I know they talked about bringing Dempster back in a potential game 5. However, if you’re down 2-1, you might want to think about bringing him back in game 4 depending on who your opponent is. All the signs pointed to Dempster being the number one. And a month and a half after I said it, Lou announced it.”

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On his bold predictions, and how often they come true…

SS: “This year when I said the Cubs would win their division by 8-10 games and most people in this city thought I was crazy, I stuck by that. They were actually up 11 before they took their foot off the gas pedal, but they could have pretty much won the division by whatever margin they wanted to because they were far and away better than anyone else in the division. I remember on June 11th when I did {ESPN’s} “Pardon the Interruption,” I said to Cub guy Mike Wilbon, I want to have it on record that I told you the Cubs would win the division by 8 and 10 games, because they are a far superior team to Milwaukee.”

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Mr. Chicago Baseball Exclusive: Steve Stone talks White Sox

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By Paul M. Banks 

As the only person to work for both Chicago baseball teams as both a player and as a broadcaster, current White Sox radio color analyst Steve Stone is a foremost authority on Chicago baseball. On September 13th, it was announced that Stone, a Ford C. Frick award nominee, will take over for Darrin Jackson as White Sox TV color analyst, signing a contract that will run through 2014.

Stone or “Stony” as he is nicknamed, has also done television broadcasts for ESPN and TBS. Stony, also 670 The Score’s lead Baseball Analyst, is well known and loved for his baseball predictions, the high rate at which his predictions comes true, and the multitude of products that he has endorsed over the years. As a player, Stony won a Cy Young and The Sporting News Pitcher of the Year award in 1980. That year he led the league in wins (25-7 for the Baltimore Orioles) and won-lost percentage (.781), and was 2nd in games started (37), 7th in ERA (3.23), strikeouts (149), hits allowed/9 IP (8.04), and hit batsmen (6), and 9th in innings (250.7). At one point, he had won 14 games in a row. He also pitched 3 perfect innings in the All-Star Game.

He is regarded to be one of the best Jewish-American pitchers in major league history, 3rd career-wise in wins (107) and strikeouts (1,065), behind Ken Holtzman and Sandy Koufax.I had an exclusive with Stony on Saturday night before the Sox-Indians game. Here’s what he had to say about the White Sox playoff chances:

“They’ve always had the ability to win this division, but we’ve seen at times they’ve also had the ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, the bullpen hasn’t been getting the job done, it’s been an inconsistent offense, they just came off a bad road trip at 3-7, but this has always been a good team, not a great team.”      

On how Chicago’s baseball summer of 2008 ranks all-time. I asked him to compare and contrast it with other seasons (like 1977) when both teams were in contention late into the year…

“I was player in the late 70s and as a player you tend to become myopic towards the team you play for. As a member of the South Side Hitmen in ’77 and ’78 I didn’t pay a lot of attention to what the Cubs were doing, because I was a White Sox player. When I played for the Cubs in ’74-76, I didn’t pay a great deal of attention to what the Sox were doing because I was a Cubs player. I know it would be a unique experience to have both teams in the postseason. They certainly are not making it any easier on this side of town. On the other side of town they have already clinched and are doing whatever they can to see the Mets in the first round.”

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On the differences between doing a radio broadcast versus doing a television broadcast of a game…

SS: There is more of a difference for the play-by-play man, because I believe that radio is a play-by-play man’s medium and I think television is an analyst’s medium. You normally don have to use as many words on television as you do on radio, you don’t have to near as descriptive on television because you have a picture there to describe what it is you’re talking about.

I think the work is the same. I approach the research that I do and that I’ve continued to do since I started working on television each and every year, to prepare each day as if the game were to go 16 innings. If not you can always use it tomorrow.


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Favre Love Fest

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By Rikki Greenberg

There was a whole lotta loving going on Sunday night.
 
Jets quarterback Brett Favre (24/34 for 289 yards) threw a career-high six touchdown passes leading a 56-35 victory over the Arizona Cardinals at the Meadowlands. The Big Cheese either had hour-long late night phone conversations with his receivers, took them for a candle-lit dinner at a fancy Italian restaurant, or a combination of the two because he connected with a number of offensive players throughout the course of the game.
 
Wide receiver Laveraneus Coles caught three touchdown passes, J-Co had two, and rookie tight end Dustin Keller had one. The go-to man for the night was Lav Coles, so I’m going to safely assume that his face was the one at the other end of the glowing candle that night.
 
Other highlights included a fumble recovery by newly signed Jets cornerback Hank Poteat, a blocked field goal by nose tackle Kris Jenkins and an interception by cornerback Danielle Revis to give the Jets a two score lead early in the second. The defense made their presence known, putting consistent pressure on the veteran Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner (40/57 for 472 yards) throughout the game. The Jets defense had a total of five turnovers in the first half (two interceptions and three fumbles) and sent Warner to the cushy green five times.

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Cardinals fans (if any actually exist) likely became panicky when Cardinals wide receiver and two-time Pro-Bowler Anquan Boldin suffered a sandwich hit between Jets defenders Kerry Rhodes and Eric Smith with 27 seconds left to go in the fourth quarter. Boldin lay motionless on the field for some time and was carried off on a stretcher to the Cardinals locker room, where he was said to be “alert and talking.” According to an article published by the washingtonpost.com today, Boldin has shown signs of progression from his injury and the possibilities of damage to the head or neck was ruled out. The expected time of return is unknown for Boldin, according to the team’s website.

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The White Sox Final Bell

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By Soxman and Paul M. Banks

These are unconventional times and therefore require an unconventional Sox Exchange/content schedule. I’ll be back with more Ozzieisms and my exclusive with Steve Stone discussing Chicago’s pennant race on both sides of town in the next couple of days. But for today, I’ll give you an opening statement by the Soxman…followed by some of the most apt quotes describing the current situation from Sox players whom I interviewed this past weekend.

No White Sox fans, today there is no time for a witty exchange of statistics, questions, or rhetoric.  Today we are focused on one thing: VICTORY.

It’s not the way any of us wanted to see this season end, but I’m done “crying over the spilt milk” of missed opportunities, a bullpen that can’t throw strikes, or even blown calls by umpires.  I’m not even going to comment on the “sour milk” of the past weekend.
I’m supporting my team with my eyes on a victory, one pitch at a time, and one play at a time.  It’s not over until the final out is made.  So until the box score says otherwise, Soxman will stand with his team focusing on one goal, going the distance, one step at a time.

As Rocky Balboa once said: “I ain’t heard no final bell.”

Neither has Soxman.

By the time this statement is posted, the game will likely be underway and our fate will be tilting in one direction or another.

I live and die with my White Sox, to the end.

Hats off to Mark Buehrle and Paul Konerko, the faces of the Sox franchise for stepping up when it matters most.
Mark Buehrle: Coming off a 121-pitch outing, Buehrle was THE MAN.  He allowed one run and nine hits in seven innings, struck out six and walked one, throwing 111 pitches. Konerko blasted 4 homers in his last 24 Abs including 3 in the last two days.

Now..back to business.  Go White Sox.

Soxman

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I covered the Friday and Saturday night games at the Cell and found an emotional clubhouse. It’s pennant race time! Here are some of the better sound-bites from players and manager Ozzie Guillen. This weekend, Paulie definitely showed me why he is truly the Captain of this team. He was calm and poised; a veteran clubhouse leader who had more to say to the media than any other player. He has as much juice with his teammates as Olin Kreutz (also a team captain) does with the Chicago Bears.

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When asked if there was any internal finger-pointing going on in the White Sox clubhouse…

“I don’t think that happens at this stage. We still have a chance to make the playoffs. Maybe if we were 20 games back with 10 games to play or something like that. But at this point we can’t afford to do that, we got to stick together as a team. We started this thing together and were going to finish it.”
 

Paul Konerko

On the ugliness of some recent losses, and how that momentum may not necessarily carry over into a prospective playoff series…

“These are the toughest ones, in games like this {people say} they don’t look like a playoff team, but the fact of the matter is- we can still go to the playoffs and if we can just get there, we saw it a couple years ago and you see it with a team every year if you can just get there then the playoffs are a whole ‘nother ball of wax. Everything kinda resets and it could change, so you just keep fighting until they say you can’t fight anymore.”

On the intensity of the pennant race’s home stretch…

“All of these games have been big for so long now, cuz it’s been such a close race for the last three weeks. And you’re into the mode of every pitch of every inning of every game being dialed-in on.”

On the big picture, win-or-lose….

“One of two things is going to happen: either it’s going to turn and we’re going to be hot and it’s going to be good or it’s not and we go home. It’s as simple as that. No one’s going to die, and likewise if we make it, no one’s curing cancer. We got to look at the big picture here and just hope for the best and go out there and go get after it.”

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Nick Swisher

“We’ve worked too damn hard to let this thing slip out of our fingers.”
 

Ozzie Guillen

At the beginning of Saturday night’s post-game press conference….

“That’s a shock when the media has nothing to say.”

On the fact that the Sox still control their own destiny after losing 5 in a row the final week…

“Just lucky or nobody want to take it. And for us to take it we have to want it and fight through it…I want to see- get it done.”

On the big picture of the pennant race (from Saturday night)…

“We’re so lucky. I don’t think they {his players} realize how lucky we are right now. To get swept like we did and lose another series and we still have a chance to win this thing…Its unbelievable we have to go to the last day of season, Now I look like genius, I told you guys that we are going to fight all the way to the end and HA HA!!! I guess we are. Hopefully, we play better tomorrow.”

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Upcoming Bears-themed Parties

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By Paul M. Banks

-The Weber Ultimate Tailgate, located on the Southeast lawn (outside Gate 6) of Soldier Field, is free and open to the public. The Tailgate will open two hours prior to kickoff for the first four regular season home games: September 21 vs. Tampa Bay ; September 28 vs. Philadelphia ; October 19 vs. Minnesota and November 2 vs. Detroit. Fans will be able to enjoy music, receive autographs from Bears alumni players (this week Otis Wilson and Dan Jiggetts will be appearing), and compete in a variety of football skills competitions. Festivities start at 5pm Sunday.

-Dennis McKinnon to Host 2nd Annual Celebrity Golf Tournament And Pre-Event Party “Dance Da Shuffle” at Excalibur Nightclub. 640 N. Dearborn 6-11 PM on Sun Sept 29th.

For the second consecutive year, a local charity is benefiting from former ’85 Chicago Bears wide receiver Dennis McKinnon’s passion and hard work. McKinnon, the Illinois One Family One Child (IOFOC) foundation, Empress Casino, Chandler’s Chophouse, Signs By Tomorrow, Hunt Media & Management and Project 85 are partnering to bring fans the second annual celebrity golf outing “Dennis McKinnon’s Old School Open.”

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Proceeds from the outing, silent auction, and dinner will benefit the IOFOC, an organization meant to raise money for underprivileged youths. “I’m extremely proud to have my name and several of my former teammates behind such a great cause,” McKinnon said. “Everyone who comes out will make a big difference in the lives of kids.” The soiree will also be a Bears game watch party, as the Monsters of the Midway take on the Philadelphia Eagles at 7:15.

-The golf outing, formerly known as the Bad Pants Open, is set for an 11 a.m.
shotgun start on Sept. 30 at Schaumburg Golf Club located at 401 N. Roselle Road.
Although the name has changed, the concept has not – players still embarrass themselves, wearing the worst golf outfit they own topping it off with their “old school” jersey. Besides McKinnon, other 1985 Chicago Bears are slated to appear and participate in the event include – Willie Gault, Richard Dent, Dave Duerson, Jim McMahon, Steve McMichael, Emery Moorehead, Matt Suhey, Otis Wilson, and Jim Covert.
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Playoff Push Pressure Part II: Players

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 By Paul M. Banks

White Sox fans, if you think watching the battle back and forth for first place in the AL Central requires a stress relieving object, try being one of the Sox players or coaches. After the Sox lost three games (and their first place standing) in Minnesota, they came home and got beat by the Cleveland Indians in a very sloppy game where their pitching collapsed. It was extremely frustrating to watch the bullpen forget where the strike zone is located. 

“You can get mad, I got mad, breaking stuff up in the clubhouse…I think it’s the worst first five, six innings we’ve been through in a long time. Hitting guys. Walks. Base hit with two outs. Wild pitch. Terrible. And we got 40,000 people looking at this stupid baseball game the way we played today,” Ozzie said in his post game press conference.
By the way, if you haven’t seen the Mad TV parody of Ozzie Guillen, click here. If you thought Ozzie was a difficult person to lampoon, then you really need to check it out.
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 “I’m not going to lose my health for a baseball game, I got three kids and a wife waiting for me. I’m not going to kill myself in this ballpark over losing and winning, it’s not worth it,” Guillen said. For baseball fans that hate the White Sox, the second most polarizing figure, arguably, is catcher A.J. Pierzynski. A.J. was asked if Ozzie’s trashing of his own office surprised him. “No, it’s an emotional time and he’s pissed off, I’m sure he’s frustrated like the rest of us and it’s good. Sometimes you need to get that out. And I’m the last person to get on anybody for showing emotion. So good for him and hopefully, it will carry over to tomorrow,” Pierzynski said. When asked about the same thing, first baseman Paul Konerko responded: “He could have been ripping up offices for the last three weeks; we’ve had a lot of these.”

So the next time you feel like cursing at the television and throwing objects in frustration, “don’t look back in anger,” as Oasis used to say. Remember these quotations. They will remind you that the White Sox themselves are feeling the same emotions you are.

For the NBC 5 Street Team version of the story

http://nbc5streetteam.wordpress.com/2008/09/27/playoff-push-pressure-part-ii-players/

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Exclusive with Eric Peterman

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By Paul M. Banks 

Eric Peterman is the starting punt returner and Z wide receiver in Northwestern’s offense. I had an exclusive with him earlier this season.

Some of Peterman’s career highlights from the NU Media Guide

2008:

Academic All-America candidate … All-Big Ten postseason honors candidate … Named to preseason All-Big Ten teams by Lindy’s (second team) and Phil Steele’s (fourth team) … Begins his final year ranked 16th on NU’s all-time receiving yardage list with 1,274 yards …

Academic All-Big Ten … ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District first-team selection …

2007: 

Team’s co-MVP … ESPN The Magazine first-team Academic All-District V selection … Academic All-Big Ten … Recipient of a Randy Walker Wildcat Warrior Award … Garnered second-team All-Big Ten honors from Rivals.com … Starting wide receiver and an important special teams player … Led team in receptions (66) and receiving yards (744) … His 66 catches were the seventh-most in an NU single season … Ranked seventh in Big Ten receptions per game and 11th in receiving yardage per game …
 

Exclusive audio with Northwestern “Z” Wide Receiver Eric Peterman 

[audio:http://www.thesportsbank.net/core/audio/ericpeterman.mp3]

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Playoff Push Pressure Part I: Partisans

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By Paul M. Banks

As the back and forth of the White Sox AL Central race concludes this weekend, I’ve had more mood swings than Naomi Campbell and Lindsay Lohan combined. The “Hunt for Black October” roller coaster ride gives me so much tension and anxiety, that an outside observer might assume I was an AIG shareholder. On Thursday night, I left my house happy and confident with the Sox up 6-1 in the 5th inning. I attended the Stephanie Izard Diva Series event at Madame Tartine downtown.  It was a fun time partying with fellow Street Teamers Desiree Prieto and D.C. Crenshaw as well as host Sarah Vargo. But the party became a lot less fun (for myself anyway) when I found the television at the end of the bar and camped out to watch the Sox lose the biggest game of the season in extra innings at the Metrodome in Minneapolis. For some reason, following the game online with my brand new Smartphone made blown leads seem more calming. My text messaging back and forth with the Soxman fails to alleviate my anxiety. Getting into very mean sounding, but ultimately hilarious text message wars with the lead Twins writer of my site, Peter Christian is an enjoyable pastime, but it still doesn’t soothe my nerves.

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On Friday night, I watched the Sox lose a home contest to the Cleveland Indians (and fail to recapture first place from the Twins who got blown out at home by the Kansas City Royals that same night) from the Press Box at U.S. Cellular Field. Coincidentally, there was a Tampa Bay Rays media guide laying near my seat in the press box. Given that Tampa is the team the Sox would most likely play in the postseason, I think this is more than serendipity. I think it’s a sign. Or at least I hope. In my next segment, I’ll tell you what manager Ozzie Guillen and the players themselves have to say about handling their pennant race stress.

This story also ran on the NBC5 Street Team website

http://nbc5streetteam.wordpress.com/2008/09/27/playoff-push-pressure-part-i-partisans/

 

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It All Comes Down to This

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By David K.

Brewer fans were one Cubs win away from having to send thank you cards and fruit baskets to 1060 W. Addison Street, Chicago, Illinois 60613.  By the Cubs splitting their four-game series with the Mets and the Brewers carrying their own weight by getting back-to-back walk-off home runs from Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun and sweeping the lifeless Pirates, the final series of the year has the utmost importance… for both teams.

Milwaukee and New York now sit tied atop the Wild Card standings with three games to play.  While the Metropolitans will host the Marlins, the Crew welcomes Chicago to Miller Park with their playoff lives on the line.  It’s quite the predicament for the Cubs, who ultimately have nothing to really play for with their post-season destiny and number one seed already determined by winning their second straight NL Central title, and could make or break the hearts of the Brewers faithful.

So it comes down to this.  If the Cubs drop a couple games this weekend and the Brewers manage to squeak into the playoffs, the Cubs would face the NL West champion Dodgers in the NLDS.  If the Cubs play the role of spoiler and add to Milwaukee’s misery of October-less baseball, then whichever team doesn’t win the East and settles for the Wild Card (the Phillies enter the weekend one game up on the Mets) will visit Wrigley.

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As a Cubs fan, I don’t want to see Milwaukee in the post-season.  Having to face CC Sabathia and a possibly healthy Ben Sheets a combined four, maybe five times in a seven-game series is a bit intimidating.  As a member of the media, I wouldn’t be sad if the Crew qualified for post-season play because I would get to cover playoff baseball with the potential of seeing a few games at the Friendly Confines.  Tempting, isn’t it? 

Lou Piniella also decided that Ryan Dempster will start game one of the NLDS.  Boy, did I miss that one.  I didn’t think Dempster would make it out of June in the rotation let alone end up being the Cubs most consistent and number one post-season starter.  My bad.

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As for the rest of the rotation, it will still depend on whether Sweet Lou wants to go with three or four men.  Rich Harden and Carlos Zambrano will likely be the #2, #3 starters with Ted Lilly being the possible fourth guy.  Piniella is expected to announce his official rotation and post-season roster as early as after Saturday’s game.

Either way, the usual ruckus Miller Park experiences during a normal Cubs-Brewers series will be taken to new heights for the next three days.

BTW, Here’s a chance to win tickets to the Cubs NLCS (of course, first they have to actually advance that far) by making your video explaining why you’re the biggest Cubs fan alive. 

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Fantasy Football Weekly

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By Soxman
 

Week III saw the Gridiron Grinders’ momentum continue as we again beat our opponents 82-60, improving to 2-1 on the season. 

While my running game didn’t put up significant yards, they paced my victory with touchdowns.  Clinton Portis (1) and Joseph Addai (2).
 

I also improved to 3-0 in my league featuring individual defensive players, narrowly beating my opponent thanks to Addai once again.
 
Here are your top fantasy studs on the season through Week III.
 
Quarterbacks
 
Philip Rivers (9 TD)
 
Jay Cutler (8 TD and an average of 311 passing yards per game)
 
Aaron Rodgers (yet to throw a pick)
 
Drew Brees (5 TD and an average of 326 passing yards per game)
 
Donovan McNabb
 
Running Backs
 
Michael Turner (tops in yards with 366 and has 5 TDs)
 
Marion Barber (the machine has 5 TDs and is carrying the load in Dallas)
 
Frank Gore (averaging 95 rushing yards per game)
 
Reggie Bush (he’s really putting up points as a wide receiver)

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Matt Forte (304 rushing yards and 105 receiving yards) 
 
No your eyes are not deceiving you, LT, Adrian Peterson, Westbrook, and Stephen Jackson all failed to crack the top five through three weeks.
 
Wide Receivers
 
Santana Moss  (276 yards and 3 TDs) 

Anquan Boldin

Brandon Marshall (321 yards in two games!)
 
Larry Fitzgerald

Greg Jennings
 
Tight End
 
Jason Witten (273 yards receiving)
Tony Scheffler (168 yards receiving and 2 TD)
Anthony Fasano
Antonio Gates
Bo Scaife
 
Kicker
 
John Carney
Nate Kaeding
Ryan Longwell
Olindo Mare
Joe Nedney
 
Fantasy News and Notes:
 
RB Willie Parker will miss Week 4 due to his sprained knee.  Rashard Mendenhall owners might want to think twice about starting the rookie as he faces a tough Baltimore Ravens defense in his first start.
 
Hopefully no owner was counting on Marc Bulger as a fantasy QB 1 as he appears to have lost his starting job to veteran Trent Green.
 
LaDainian Tomlinson believes his toe is healed and that he should be back to full strength soon.  No one really benched him did they?
 
Jeremy Shockey will miss 3-6 weeks after undergoing sports hernia surgery.  This will likely hurt Drew Brees’ value a little more as Marques Colston is already out until at least week five.  Shockey owners have many options as there appears to be a rather deep tight end class this season.
 
Double trouble in Philly.  Donovan McNabb suffered a deep bruise of his upper right pectoral muscle, but should be good to dominate the Bears on Sunday night.  Brian Westbrook’s status for Sunday is also questionable so watch the injury report closely. 
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Rookie Owner Advice for the Week
 
To Trade or not to Trade?
 
With three weeks completed, now is the time you might want to start exploring trade options in your league.  There is really no science to this process and many of your actions will be built on gut instinct more than any real statistical evidence.
 
Buyer beware: most savvy veteran owners will try to prey on rookie owners by packaging big-names having bust seasons for break-through players who look to be establishing themselves at their position. 
 
Another technique often seen is to offer two lesser players for one superstar.  The “con” is that the total combined points dwarf the star being requested.  Some owners will even suggest they are improving you at a position.
 
The beware part is to ensure the two players you are getting actually improve your line-up more than he points put up by the one stud.  Look at the player’s average point per game and plug them into your line-up to forecast points prior to pulling the trigger on that deal.
 
Some notable names that will likely be bantered in trade talks soon:
 
Joseph Addai: It is obvious that he is getting the goal-line carries, but his rushing yards are WAY down this season due in large part to a week offensive line.  A good sell high candidate.
 
Randy Moss: Forget 2007 unless you are a seller.  Stay away from him if he is offered to you.  We have seen now how Moss plays when he is asked to be a leader.
 
Stephen Jackson: Buy low.  The Rams are horrible right now, but Jackson is still pretty much in “training camp” mode after holding out.  I have to believe he will improve on his this far horrible numbers eventually.
 
Well that’s it for this week.  Keep moving the chains and focusing on positive gains.
 
SM

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Audio Exclusive with Jerry Azumah

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By Paul M. Banks

I recently had an exclusive chat with Jerry Azumah, a former NFL defensive back and return specialist who played his entire career 1999-2005 with the Chicago Bears. This excerpt from his Wikipedia page describes his career in detail.
“Azumah was selected as the 14th pick of the fifth round of the 1999 NFL Draft out of the University of New Hampshire where he won the Walter Payton Award as the best offensive player in Division I-AA football. He attended Saint Peter-Marian High School in Worcester, Massachusetts. His best season came in 2003, when he led the league in kickoff returns with a twenty-nine-yard average and two touchdowns. He was selected to the 2004 Pro Bowl as a kick return specialist for the NFC. On March 23, 2006, Azumah retired from the NFL after seven seasons with the Chicago Bears at the age of 28 due to hip and neck pain. Azumah was succeeded by Devin Hester, who established himself as Pro Bowl-caliber return specialist in his rookie season with the Bears. He now does Bears post game coverage on Comcast Sportsnet”

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I chatted with him during the Aces Up Charity Poker tournament. We discussed his  NFL playing days as well as his post football endeavors
 

Audio Exclusive with Jerry Azumah

[audio:http://www.thesportsbank.net/core/audio/azumah.mp3]

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Blackhawks Throw Training Camp Festival for Fans

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By Paul M. Banks

During the past year, Chicago’s National Hockey League team has been on a tremendous promotional roll. They scored a public relations hat trick this past summer with the announcement of new broadcast partnerships, the NHL’s first ever fan convention and the announcement of Wrigley Field hosting the NHL’s Annual Outdoor Winter Classic. The new t-shirts reading “Don’t Toews (pronounced TAYVES) me Bro,” should also help win over a few more fans. The Hawks kept the marketing momentum rolling with their first ever Training Camp Festival at the United Center on Saturday. The all day event featured a Hawks practice session, the “Mad Dash to Madison” 5K Run/Walk/Skate, a 3-On-3 Street Hockey Tournament in the UC parking lot, live music, and an interactive games area. This area included, naturally every type of table hockey you could imagine. Here I spoke with Hawks die-hard Kathleen Kelly, 26 of Tinley Park. “It’s such a beautiful day, and it’s great that the Hawks provided all this great stuff here and fun things to do. And there’s the hockey going on inside of course too,” Kelly said. The hockey she referred to was the Hawks first practice of the season. The three intra-squad scrimmages, was what most of the thousands of people paid their $5 to see. 

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Hawks Coach Dennis Savard addressed the media. “There’s a buzz in Chicago, but there’s a buzz around the league too. They talk about the changes the Hawks have made and how their fans are coming back. The fans choose to come back because they see great things are going on here,” Savard told me. Later I would observe the interior of the Hawks locker room, where the slogan “EARN IT” is emblazoned above the tunnel to the ice. “We’re getting our fans back and we got to go out and earn their respect. We want ‘em here every night for the next decade, or two decades,” Savard stated. 
 
The September 23rd Preseason game versus the Columbus Blue Jackets had just 200 tickets remaining as of Monday.  There certainly is a buzz at the box office!

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