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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Longest Yard-style Prison football… just the other kind of football.

ProSoccerTalk

On the small island of Guernsey in the English Channel, something rather peculiar will occur this season.

When the Sunday Soccer League kicks off on the tiny island that’s just a stones throw away from Northern France, a team called Prison Lions FC will take to the field.

But only for home games.

In a novel approach to reward their prisoners for good behavior, Les Nicolles Prison has set up a soccer team that will be made up of current prisoners and prison officers who will play alongside each other every Sunday.

The 15-game season will see all of Prison Lions FC games played at home, for obvious reasons.

David White, physical educator at the Guernsey Prison, believes the prisoners can really benefit from the league — by the way Guernsey’s famous soccer son is Southampton and England legend Matthew Le Tissier — letting a team from the prison join.

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HardballTalk

He’s gone deep again. Here’s the homer that ties Sadaharu Oh, Tuffy Rhodes and Alex Cabrera. The ball is way on the outside part of the plate. Almost to the left-handed batter’s box. He don’t care:

 

He has 22 games after tonight in which to break the record. That’s pretty doable. Given that he missed the first 12 games of the season with an injury, that’s pretty incredible.

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USA, along with the Netherlands, Italy, Costa Rica, and Argentina, qualified for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil today. They join the already-qualified group of Brazil, Japan, Australia, Iran, and South Korea.

ProSoccerTalk

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Sure, it seemed like a foregone conclusion, but official passage into a World Cup is still a moment to celebrate for U.S. Soccer, whose players, coaches and legion of supporters can now bask – officially so – in the high achievement of advancing into a seventh consecutive World Cup.

The United States will indeed be going to Brazil in 2014, having now reached every World Cup since last failing to qualify in 1986.

The United States did its part Tuesday against thanks to a huge Eddie Johnson second half goal and a late insurance strike from noted and longtime Mexico killer Landon Donovan. When Honduras tied with Panama down in Central America (finishing about an hour later, and therefore preventing more immediate player celebrations), Jurgen Klinsmann’s team was officially “in” with two games to spare.

So, 2-0 once again for the United States national team against Mexico…

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Interesting potential rule change coming to the NHL.
Source of article: ProHockeyTalk

ProHockeyTalk

As a way to reduce the number of shootouts in the NHL, Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland has been advocating the addition of 3-on-3 overtime (if nobody scores 4-on-4) for a while now.

Today, per ESPN’s Craig Custance, we learn that Holland’s idea seems to be gaining support from his counterparts around the league:

In the prospect tournament he runs in Traverse City, Michigan, Holland implemented his version of overtime. On Sunday, he and other general managers in the building got to see what it looked like in actual game action for the first time when the Dallas Stars’ prospects beat those from the Minnesota Wild in a shootout that followed the first 3-on-3 overtime session of the tournament.

The reviews of the 3-on-3 hockey were strong.

“It’s awesome. It was fun,” said Wild GM Chuck Fletcher. “Imagine Washington and Pittsburgh with [Sidney] Crosby, [Evgeni] Malkin, [Alex]…

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7248The long history of the Chicago Cubs… arising from the ashes of the Excelsior Base Ball Club of Chicago and winning the pennant of the National Association of Base Ball Players in the team’s first season of play.  Older than Major League Baseball itself, the team actually led the way towards to foundation of the National League in 1876, winning the first NL pennant as well.  A dynasty in the 1880s, winning pennants in 1880, 1881, 1882, 1885, and 1886, before falling into an awful twenty year pennant drought, unthinkable for such a storied franchise.

The Cubs would win the pennant in 1906, but ultimately fall to their crosstown rivals, the 1906 Chicago White Sox team forever known as the “Hitless Wonders”, but would then vanquish the Tigers in two straight World Series in 1907 and 1908.  The 1906-1910 Cubs are still the winningest team over a five-year period in major league history, winning four pennants over the stretch and having the best single season record in history in 1906, going 116-36 and winning the pennant by twenty games over the New York Giants.

Unfortunately, the first dynasty in major league history (depending on whether or not the National Association of 1871-1875 is considered major, MLB currently does not consider it so) became the biggest laughingstock in professional sports, now in the one hundred-and-fifth calendar year since that fateful day of October 14, 1908.

The team has languished through years of poor ownership (Wrigley), lack of innovation (being among the last teams in the league to establish minor league affiliates or to allow black or Hispanic players onto the team), and pure misfortune (such as in the 2003 NLCS Game 6, not to throw any names out there) and supposed curses (Fred Merkle in 1908, the black cat at Shea Stadium in 1969, and of course the Billy Goat Curse in 1945).  The team has tried everything from spending wildly under the Tribune ownership to counting on saviors from the farm system that never worked out (Corey Patterson and Felix Pie to name a few) to international studs (Kosuke Fukudome) to no avail.

In 2013, the Cubs sit at 49-60 and sixteen games out of first, and have already traded Matt Garza, Scott Feldman, and Alfonso Soriano.  The team’s relief pitching is shaky at best, and the team has a pretty comfortable lead in the blown saves department, having four more than any other team in baseball, and the team couldn’t hit with runners in scoring position if their lives depended on it.

Yet perhaps things are not quite as bad as they seem.  Baseball-Reference’s Simple Rating System calculates that the Cubs should be better than Nationals, Mets, Giants, Padres, Rockies and Mariners right now, yet the Nationals are hovering around .500.  At the very least, the renowned “Lovable Losers” are still an exciting team to watch, currently third in the National League with 120 home runs and first with 216 doubles and a team slugging percentage good for fourth.  The pitching staff as a whole remains above average with a 102 ERA+, but are tied with San Diego atop the NL lead with 357 walks conceded.  Despite all the blown opportunities, the Cubs are still just one save below the NL average.

mlb_u_castro_b1_600By Pythagorean Win-Loss Theorem, the Cubs, having scored 434 runs and allowed 459, the Cubs should be at around 52-57.  In reality, it is only three games better than they already are, but it looks a whole lot better to be five games under .500 than to be eleven games under.  The Cubs could be just a couple bats, and arm, and an overhauled bullpen away from actually competing, though the postseason would have to shock even the most optimistic of Cubs fans, given the strength of the NL Central, from which three of the NL’s four best records are found (Pittsburgh, St. Louis, and Cincinnati).  Not to mention, they currently have an absolutely stacked farm system position player-wise, including what is regarded as the best power hitting quartet of prospects in the league: SS Javier Baez, 3B Kris Bryant, OF Jorge Soler, and 1B/DH Dan Vogelbach, a few solid arms in C.J. Edwards and Pierce Johnson, star outfielder Albert Almora, second baseman Arismendy Alcantara and third baseman Mike Olt.  Further, the Cubs can expect a resurgence of sorts from incumbent shortstop Starlin Castro, and hopefully improvement from first baseman Anthony Rizzo and an extended showing of the Junior Lake Show.

My Top 13 Prospects List Published On WorldSeriesDreaming.com Plus Other Cubs Prospects News

The team still isn’t good, but perhaps its reputation for being awful has covered up some actual progress in the right direction and hopefully the Cubs renew that sensation of excitement that hasn’t swooped Wrigleyville since 2009, and maybe some day be in the same position that that hockey team that used to be known for being awful and alienating its fan base stands now, as champions.