Blackhawks well represented on Olympic Rosters

By Paul M. Banks

6 Hawks make Olympic rosters for USA, Canada and Slovakia

[Read more…]

Favre, Peyton bring Midwest Sports into National Focus Part 2

peytonmanning

By Paul M. Banks

Brett Favre’s incessant media circus and Peyton Manning’s undefeated Colts have put national spotlight on the Midwest, I discuss this and the future of sports media with Midwest Sports Fans.com’s Jerod Morris.

(PMB) What do you think about this whole movement towards niche specialization?…MLB Network, NBA TV, ESPN Chicago, ESPN Dallas, ESPN Boston (even though regular ESPN is already fixated on Boston) and then on the internet too with fan-centric sites within multi-layered networks like True Hoop, SB Nation etc.

Big Ten Network host/bikini model Melanie Collins

Big Ten Network host/bikini model Melanie Collins

(JM) I love the specialization. I don’t know that I’m a big fan of ESPN’s local sites — there’s still just something about reading Chicago news from the Tribune or Sun-Times that doesn’t translate to the faceless pages of ESPN.com – but I love knowing that there is a place I can go that is devoted to the Big Ten, and then another place devoted to MLB, and so on.

ESPN gives us the cliff’s notes version of sports. Networks like the Big Ten Network and MLB Network, and websites for particular leagues and teams, give us the entire book. Sometimes you want the summary and sometimes you want to read the book. Now sports fans have the option to choose whatever they wish.

This is good; again, it comes down to who is the most forward-thinking from a business standpoint and can monetize what is, overall, a better (though more fragmented in ownership) product for consumers.

One advantage that local papers and news stations always had over the ESPNs of the world was their ability to cover the local beat with more depth, wisdom, and experience. Now that ESPN has launched ESPNChicago, ESPNBoston, ESPNDallas, and then the next 755 of them that they are planning after that, for the first time we are seeing a national sports media outlet really be able to compete for the eyeballs looking for a perspective that is grounded in local history and tradition.

(PMB) Well, it will certainly be interesting to see how it all plays out. As long as guys like you and me get our piece, I’m fine with whatever. After the whole Favre soap opera, what do you think the next big Midwestern sports story will be to take over the national consciousness?

(JM) The re-emergence of Indiana basketball to a national powerhouse in Tom Crean’s second season.

Damn, I couldn’t even type that with a straight face…although I do think the Hoosiers can be a .500 team this year and I think Crean is the right guy at the right time for the job.

No, the next big Midwest sports story has to be Peyton Manning’s continued greatness. Certainly if the Colts stay undefeated it is a story that will dominate everything. But even when they ultimately lose a game or two, this is a team that has to be considered a Super Bowl favorite for one reason and one reason only: Peyton.

Growing up I used to listen to my Dad tell me about Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays and Bill Russell and his favorite football player, Archie Manning. Someday, we’ll all be telling our kids about Michael Jordan and Albert Pujols and Peyton Manning.peytoneli

Hey, look at that. I just named off the three guys that many sports fans of our generation will look back on someday as the best of the best. And what cities did they play in? Chicago, St. Louis, and Indianapolis.

See, it all comes back to the Midwest.

(PMB) Where I’m based, Chicago is a good place to start looking for that next big thing, but there are two main obstacles in the way.

1.) We haven’t had a real winner in our history other than MJ and the Bulls.

2.) The people here are psychotically obsessed with two teams that overshadow everyone, the Bears and Cubs. They also happen to be two teams horribly mismanaged at all levels of the organization. Both clubs also treat both the media and their fans like subhuman trash. Your thoughts?

(JM) I think the city of Chicago has wasted its collective energy on the Cubs for more than a century. Sadly, I don’t see it changing, neither the city’s incongruous obsession with the “lovable losers” nor their lovable losing.

As for the Bears, their lack of success should not be surprising. If we’ve learned anything over 40 years of NFL football it is that stability at the top of an organization and in the head coach/QB relationship breeds winning. One-year wonders can emerge (like the Bears’ recent Super Bowl participant) but they won’t be built to last.

For a prime example of how to build a consistent winner, shoot down I-65 to Indy. They’ve got the blueprint…you just need to find a Peyton Manning.CT 00294379E_Sox0628_23.JPG

The city of Chicago has long baffled me. I think I am a White Sox fan in part because of my contrarian nature. All of my friends growing up were Cubs fans and I couldn’t understand it. What has this team done to deserve such adoration? It is immensely fitting and appropriate to me that the White Sox were the team to finally break the city’s baseball curse.

Unfortunately for Chicago football fans, there is no alternative to the Bears.

(PMB) Couldn’t have said it any better myself, about both of Chicago’s lovable losers. I think you might have articulated why I’m a White Sox fan as well.

Readers, be sure to check out Midwest Sports Fans.com early and often!

The Sports Bank’s Father’s Day Guide

sportsall_starsku_85111

Daughters: Give Your Dad a Special Gift This Father’s Day

By Jake Fowler

Remember that Britney Spears or NSYNC concert your dad took you to when you were a teenager.  Now it’s time to return the favor.  This Father’s Day, sit down with your Dad and spend some quality time watching his favorite sporting event.  It’s a cheap and unique gift (Dad probably has enough golf balls and fishing lures) that will be very beneficial to your relationship, as long as you know what you’re doing.  Here are some tips on how to make the most of your time on the couch with Dad.

britney-spears-sex-e-screensaver

Don’t Be Afraid to Talk

Just because you don’t know anything about sports or the players involved doesn’t mean you don’t have any interesting commentary to offer.  Guys are used to watching sports with other guys and women can offer unique and refreshing perspectives that can liven up a game.  For example, many star athletes are dating famous actresses or models that you may know much more about, and talking about them can provide a depth of knowledge about your Dad’s favorite players that he will appreciate.

Recognize the Situation

Talking to your Dad is great, unless it’s during a crucial point in the game.  If there is less than five minutes to play in the fourth quarter or if it is the ninth inning in baseball- save all serious conversations for a commercial break.  Nothing irritates a man more than having a potentially great moment in sports history interrupted.  Understanding the magnitude of the sporting event you are watching is also important.  A man is much more laid back during a regular season football game in November than he is during the Super Bowl.

Don’t Act Bored

A quick way to break your Dad’s heart is to say you really want to watch the game with him but actually appear look like you’d much rather be shopping for Manolos.  A man doesn’t like to feel guilty when he’s watching the game; he wants you to share in his passion.  If you truly find watching sports unbearable, your Dad will realize you’re making a sacrifice and be impressed you are doing something for him that you would never do by yourself.
brady-gisele-bundchen-730937

Brownie Points

Your Dad doesn’t expect you to paint your face on game day or start throwing the remote at the TV after bad calls, but there certainly are ways to make yourself into his favorite daughter.  Take the time to learn about his favorite team and players so you can relate to him when watching the game or just to impress him at the breakfast table.  Most daughters don’t talk to their Dads about sports, so if you know even a little bit, it will be noticed.  Food is also a path to any man’s heart.  Surprise your Dad by making him his favorite snack at halftime or just grabbing him a fresh beer out of the blue once in a while.
Follow these tips and your Dad will be thoroughly impressed.  You don’t have to watch sports with him all the time, just try it this Father’s Day and watch his face light up.  Dad probably doesn’t need any more gift certificates to elaborate steakhouses.  Make him his favorite dip, call a player on the opposing team a bum and enjoy a great bonding experience that he will never expect and also remember for years to come.

Cubs-White Sox Exchange: Apathy Reigns!

2003cubssoxlogo2

By Paul M. Banks and David Kay

(PMB)What a difference a year makes! Last season around this time, both Chicago teams were in first place and the Crosstown Classic actually came remotely close to living up to the absurd hype that accompanies it each year. It was so important that we actually ran two exchanges for each series, and broke comment records on all of them. (Those records were subsequently broken by my piece following Soxman around at the Cell for the home series on the opening weekend of Batman: The Dark Knight. (That scheduling was intentional- not coincidental by the way)

Back to ’09 where apathetic is the word. Both teams redefine mediocrity and bad situational hitting. I’d almost still rather bask in the glow of “TSB weekend in MLB.” There are four main teams covered regularly here (Chicago White Sox, Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee Brewers, and Minnesota Twins) although we are starting to branch out into the St. Louis Cardinals and Detroit Tigers now. And interleague weekend brought the four together. How rare and how cool was that? This midweek series however, no buzz at all.

(DK) To be completely honest, I didn’t even realize the Cubs and Sox were playing each other this week until you e-mailed me about this exchange. With the Blackhawks run to the Western Conference Finals, Bulls exciting series against the Celtics, and Bears acquisition of a real quarterback, this spring baseball season has taken an unusual back seat in the Chi. With good reason though. Neither the Cubs nor Sox have shown any sign of consistency or being a real contender in their respective divisions.

(PMB) The Cubs just fired hitting coach Gerald Perry and replaced him with Von Joshua. I think Sox hitting coach Greg Walker is possibly next. When you play in a hitters park like that and your team’s offensive numbers look ajlike Allan from “The Hangover” with his shirt off, you got to be on the hot seat.

(DK) The Cubs needed to shake things up somehow and it’s too early to give Sweet Lou the boot, so it certainly wasn’t unexpected when Perry was replaced by former Sox hitting coach, Von Joshua, who has a good history with some of the younger bats on the Cubs’ roster having coached them at I-City.

I think Walker is fairly safe. If there was ever a time to can him it was at the beginning of the month when the Pale Hoes scored three runs over a four game period, being shut-out three of those games. The veterans are hitting the ball well for the south-siders, it’s the young talent that needs to step their game up.

(PMB) Being a pitcher in softball, I like watching a good 3-2 MLB game as much as the next man, but this series’ inevitable low scores will be more about bad hitting than good pitching. Well, maybe the scores might be higher than we anticipated given how the Sox defense is to fielding what Heather Graham’s character in “The Hangover” is to chastity. That’s right two references this week to the funniest movie that I’ve seen in years.

(DK) I guess it’s safe to say that it was date night this weekend for you, huh? Heather Graham isn’t wearing roller skates in this one is she?

Maybe they should agree to adopt your underhand softball pitching style to add some firepower to this series. Both teams are in the bottom third in the majors in runs, hits, batting average, and RBI. Having CQ and A-Ram on the DL has been costly as has a major lack of clutch hitting. helmsgrahamhangover050809


(PMB) Of course Rollergirl took her clothes off in this film. Your predictions on this series? What’s the worst this series could be on the Unwatchability index? Using a 1-10 system, with 1 being seeing someone’s knee dislocate (very hard to watch), 5= Comcast Sports Net’s “Monsters in the Morning” (I’d rather be knocked unconscious) and 10 representing a Smashmouth concert. (worse torture than waterboarding)

Shall we get back to our NBA Draft work?

(DK) I’ll go against the grain on this one and predict an ‘8’ for this series. And I mean an 8 on a normal 1-10 scale, not the scale of horrific pain that you just described. The Cubs and Sox were each victorious thanks to game-winning runs in the ninth inning on Sunday and should have some momentum going into this series, which always has a different feel to it compared to any other series. I also have a feeling we could see some A.J. Pierzynski/Michael Barrett-type fireworks. Cubs take two of three.

Time to study some tape of B.J. Mullens’ footwork in the low post…

(PMB) You’re right. I’ll probably watch (and probably enjoy) all 3 games of the series. But I’d still rather be studying up on Darren Collison and Jeff Teague.

The Sports Bank Hosts Talk Radio

Paul M. Banks guest hosted “The Morning Break” AM 1240 sports talk radio show on his 31st birthday. To hear the whole show click the icon below

[audio:http://thesportsbank.wpengine.com/audio/mbguesthostmp3.mp3]
en_USEnglish
en_USEnglish