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HardballTalk

David Ortiz wasn’t on the ballot on Tuesday — only two men were: Marty Walsh and John Connolly — but the Red Sox’ DH got the most write-in votes out of anyone, so that technically made him the third place finisher.

Not that it was particularly close. There were only 560 write-in votes, of which Ortiz got the most. The winner got over 72,000 votes.  But it’s a pretty good showing for a guy who doesn’t play any defense.

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BLOG: 2013 World Series Prediction

Posted: October 23, 2013 in Uncategorized
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Might start doing more blog-style posts instead of news story style articles here, mostly because it allows me to insert opinions and stray from the traditional format.

For some reason or another, I did not continue my playoff predictions this season.  In the past, I’ve had varying levels of success, making every pick right in 2009 and all but the World Series in 2010.  I would have picked both St. Louis and Boston to defeat Los Angeles (Dodgers) and Detroit, respectively prior to the start of the LCS’s, but just to make it formal, I’ll put this one in writing.

As a Cubs fan, this is a very painful pick to make, and I would honestly be thrilled to be wrong in this case, but the St. Louis Cardinals will win the 2013 World Series in six games, and I was half-tempted to go as low as five.

The two teams finished tied for the best record in baseball this season and will face off in a best of seven series that will begin tonight in Boston.  While both teams are great ball clubs, the Cardinals are just a team that knows how to win, especially in the postseason.  I normally do not subscribe to the abstract, but in this case it always seems to work out that way.

For all the Cubs fans living in Southern Illinois and Missouri, I feel sorry for you with the wrath of having to see your biggest rivals celebrate a championship your team has not won since 1908.

Congratulations to the Orlando City Soccer Club after knocking off the final major obstacle in their path to becoming Major League Soccer’s twenty-first franchise as Orange County commissioners approved funding for their new stadium.

Requiring five of seven votes by the commissioners, the meeting lasting approximately six-and-a-half hours came to an end that gave Orlando City supporters reason to celebrate.  The funding plan for the twenty-thousand seat soccer stadium had previously passed the City of Orlando’s vote by a six-to-one mark.

Within the next thirty days, Orlando City SC and Major League Soccer will work towards finalizing their expansion agreement, putting the affectionately dubbed Lions in a position to enter the league in 2015 alongside the previously announced New York City FC.

The reported expansion fee of $70 million is significantly less than New York’s $100 million fee (New York is the nation’s largest market and an existing franchise, the New York Red Bulls, plays in its New Jersey suburbs) but more than Montreal paid (approximately $40 million) to enter the league for the 2012 season.

With the all-but-official inclusion of Orlando City SC as one of the league’s four additional expansion franchises announced beyond New York City FC.  Two of the remaining three teams are widely expected to be awarded to a group including David Beckham and Marcelo Claure destined for Miami (ETA 2016) and another to play in Atlanta (ETA 2017) under joint ownership with the National Football League’s Atlanta Falcons.  The remaining franchise is seemingly up for grabs, with Minneapolis-St. Paul, San Antonio, St. Louis and Sacramento appearing to be the leading candidates.

Chicago, Illinois.  Home of an NFL team, a NBA team, a NHL team, a MLS team, an AHL team, a WNBA team, a professional ultimate frisbee franchise and two MLB teams.  A city of several smaller but more distinct ethnic communities that collectively form the nation’s third-largest city.

On the city’s North Side, the Cubs reside in the Wrigleyville neighborhood in Lakeview, while the White Sox and their only slightly better results in the past century play ball in the South Side’s Bridgeport neighborhood, just south of the famous Chinatown.

This city is not New York, residents do not identify themselves as being from Queens or Brooklyn or Manhattan, but rather just as Chicagoans, with either the North Side or South Side being presented with some frequency.

Even when the sides of the city are presented, the only meaning it holds in the sporting world is in baseball.  Someone from Queens will be a Mets fan and you are more likely to find a Nets fan in Brooklyn than you are in Staten Island or The Bronx.  In Chicago, it doesn’t matter where you live, you are most likely going to be a Bears fan or a Bulls fan or a Blackhawks fan.  There is no sense of “I hate the Bears because they are on the east side,” or “I hate the Bulls and Blackhawks because they play on the west side.”  For the most part, with the Packers and Cardinals fans aside, Chicagoans are used to rooting for their great city.

So why is it that when the city has the privilege of hosting two major league teams in one sport that almost never play each other head-to-head (just four times a year and the teams have met in exactly one postseason series, and that series has long passed, taking place in 1906), that the city must be divided, hating the other team that represents their city just as much as the team they support does?

Chicago won its first baseball championship since 1917 when the White Sox swept the Houston Astros, who at the time were divisional rivals of the Cubs (e.g. a rivalry that actually matters), in the 2005 World Series.  Instead of a huge city erupting into celebration, only the smaller portion of the city that supported the White Sox rejoiced in the glory of being the best team in the world.  For Cubs fans, many were rooting for their rivals from Texas over their home city they held so dear, missing out on celebrating the city’s first major championship in seven years since 1998, when both the Bulls and the expansion team Fire took home league championships.  The Sox, who at the time played the Cubs six times a year (a figure that has since be reduced), had beaten the team that the Cubs played fifteen-to-sixteen games per year, almost ten percent of their 162-game schedule.

So why is it that the team who had inflicted more pain to the Cubs record-wise historically, and the team that had by far the largest direct effects on the Cubs, losing such a dreadful thought for the North Siders?

The fact of the matter is that two passionate fanbases collide when placed too close together, and neither will ever understand entirely how irrelevant this rivalry is and that each team is capable of bringing reason to celebrate to the great city of Chicago.

Even in the scenario where both teams face off in a World Series, it should be seen as a blessing that no matter what happens, at least it will be the same city winning it all as opposed to another city like New York or Los Angeles.

This is not to say that all intra-city rivalries are irrelevant, as some hold more value than others.  For example, the three NHL teams residing in New York City and its suburbs: the New Jersey Devils, the New York Islanders and the New York Rangers all play in same division and have faced each other several times in the postseason.  These teams directly contribute to the failures of the others in a way the Cubs and Sox never will (barring major league realignment).

Forget Barrett and Pierzysnski.  Whether you are a fan of the Cubs or the White Sox, next time you see your “huge rivals” in the playoffs in a year in which your team falls short, embrace them and root for this great city to come out on top of the baseball world.  You know how this can feel if approached right, Chicago has a fresh taste of winning in its mouth thanks to the 2010 and 2013 Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks.

Sad story

CollegeFootballTalk

It doesn’t get more heartbreaking than this.

Thursday night, Overland Park (Kan.) Shawnee Mission West High School football player and Kansas verbal Andrew Maloney had just caught a 63-yard touchdown pass when things began to go horrifically wrong.  The defensive back/wide receiver’s coach said the player became dizzy and disoriented; his cousin, who was at the game and rushed onto the field after noticing something wasn’t right, said “Andre [was] laying there, drooling, with his head tilted to the right. He was conscious, but you could tell he wasn’t clear. He was mumbling. It didn’t make sense.”

Maloney was rushed to a local hospital via ambulance and underwent a three-hour emergency surgery to remove a blood clot.  Sadly, the surgery was unsuccessful and, Friday, the family decided to remove a non-responsive Maloney from life support as the stroke claimed the high schooler’s life.

He was just 17 years old.

“We…

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ProHockeyTalk

The Chicago Blackhawks already have a little over $41 million in cap space committed to seven players for the 2015-16 campaign and that doesn’t include Patrick Kane or Jonathan Toews as they are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents in the summer of 2015.

When faced with questions about that potential cap issue after handing lucrative extensions to Corey Crawford, Niklas Hjalmarsson, and Bryan Bickell, Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman firmly stated that Kane and Toews “will be here forever.”

That message resonated with the team’s captain.

“It meant a lot to hear that,” Toews said, according to CSN Chicago. He later added, “Right now, it would be tough to find a reason to play somewhere else. There’s no place better to play hockey.”

The question is if those feelings will lead him and Kane to accept a hometown discount. If they sign at market value on top of Chicago’s…

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ProSoccerTalk

Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber is at BMO Field tonight to take in Toronto’s game against Chicago, but before the match he dropped a potentially telling piece of news as it concerns those four expansion teams that are supposed to come into the league between 2015 and 2020.

As you might remember, Garber recently made public MLS plans to expand to 24 after New York City FC joins the league in 2015, expansion that will take the league to 20 franchises two years from now. While it was generally assumed the southeast United States will be strongly considered for some of the teams, little other information was known about MLS’s expansion plans.

Today, however, Garber revealed most of those expansion slots may already be taken. From TSN’s Luke Wileman, posted before tonight’s kickoff:

[tweet https://twitter.com/LukeWileman/status/377905586387832832]

Amazingly, encouragingly, and a bit surprisingly, the process of identifying those that will get MLS…

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