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Hi ya’ll SDI is taking a break for the summer, to get a bit of R&R, scope out the new news and players on the sports scene, and maybe one of us is tying the knot! Keep up with us on Twitter this summer. We will be back in the Fall with all the Chicago and Charlotte sports news and more!

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Category: Uncategorized

Never count a defending champion out. The Blackhawks backs were against the wall a few days ago as they faced a 3-1 first-round series deficit, however like post seasons before the Blackhawks surged back to tie the series up and it all comes down to Game 7 tonight in St. Louis.

In my series preview I said the Blackhawks would win in six, but this series deserves a winner take all Game 7, it has been fantastic to watch. Is it just me or is there a pattern here? The start of every playoff series the Blackhawks play like shit and then once Game 5 hits, it’s like a whole new team.

The Hawks have an advantage with their Game 7s experience. The Hawks have played in four of them during the Quenneville era and have won two, including Game 7 of last season’s Western Conference finals against the Ducks in Anaheim, advantage Blackhawks.

The Blackhawks want to keep their hopes for another Stanley Cups alive (that would be four in seven years, not too shabby), while the Blues are desperately trying to end a three-year streak of being ousted in the first round. Blackhawks take Game 7, by a score of 3-2. Go Hawks!

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There isn’t anything better in March than the Hot Sun, Beer and Baseball in Arizona (The Cactus League).  New friends and old friends come together to cheer on our home town teams. Also known as “Adult Spring Break” for Baseball fans.

In three quick hours and thanks to the two kind gentleman sitting in front and behind me at the newish Sloan park I learned all I need to know for opening day @Wrigley.  So, amid all the Vegas odds and Chicago’s premature parade planning…

What decisions remain for Joe Maddon and the Cubs before we crack open the champagne?!? Three come to mind:

Where in the world do we play Jorge Soler?
He would be a great DH but we only play 18 games at American League ball parks!  He has been used out in LF and RF and other than having one of the best arms in baseball he has shown to be a defensive liability anywhere you put him .  It looks like he will play the outfield in a platoon with Schwarber when lefties are on the mound.

Do the Cubs have a seven  or eight man Bullpen? 
With Lester, Arrieta, Lackey, Hammel and Hendricks already ticketed for the rotation, that sets up options left for the bullpen.  
For that matter how many pitchers are on the roster ????  Let’s go with the for sure spots taken with Rondon, Strop, Grimm, Wood, Cahill and Richard.  That leaves Neil Ramirez on the bubble with having no options left to go to Triple A.  His velocity seemed down throughout camp but he has been productive in most of his outings. 

And Finally who gets the coveted Bench Spot?
Kawasaki has played well throughout all of camp and provides a great clubhouse personality that can’t be overlooked.  The Cubs already announced that Shane Victorino won’t be going North with the team due to his reoccurring leg issues and Matt Szczur had the same problems with his oblique injury until his recent his recovery.  So, it seems that Szczur would have the advantage as an outfielder because the Cubs have LaStella and Baez who can do what Kawasaki would do in the infield. It’s nice to have quality options.
Cubs

The Cubs 2016 season is a guaranteed can’t miss with tons of media attention and fan support, here at Reverse the Curse we encourage feedback and ideas.  Most importantly what is going to be branded this year’s hashtag?

#wrigleyhustle #weareready  #northsidemagic #gocubsgo

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The Cubs haven’t had any trouble stealing the spotlight from the Bears, prescription Bulls or even the Blackhawks in the off-season. Whether it be through their aggressive player acquisitions or good natured goofing around this young team is giving back to the community and having fun in the process.

Here is a recap of some funny moments and new player highlights of potentially the most improved team in Baseball.

Speaking of the Blackhawks this goal by Cubs Pitcher Jason Hammel at the UC was pretty cool especially after Anthony Rizzo missed his shot a week prior!!

Look for additions to the Cubs Pitching Staff this fall;  The Cubs signed two relief pitchers in November; right-hander Andury Acevedo who spent the last four seasons with the Yankees AAA organization and lefty Jack Leathersich from the Mets known for his strikeouts. In total the Cubs added seven new pitchers to their minor league system but this seems to change daily.

The move that got most fan attention was when Theo brought over starter John Lackey from the Cardinals, capsule Lackey also played four years with John Lester in Boston.

Watch this most hilarious interview with John Lackey and John Lester at the Cubs Convention(Ryan Dempster’s talk show).  John Lester talks about being the “Crazy Ex Girlfriend” in the recruitment of John Lackey.  A friendship bonded in Fried Chicken and Beer.

http://m.mlb.com/video/topic/8878538/v538964983/dempster-lackey-and-lester-provide-some-comic-relief

Notable transactions in the Infield and Outfield include; the Cubs edging out half the league by signing Jason Heyward for 8 years at $184 million.  Fun fact Heyward’s MLB debut was against the Cubs and his first MLB plate appearance – and first swing – Heyward hit a three-run home run, estimated at 471 feet off starter Carlos Zambrano.

The Chicago Cubs also agreed to terms with free-agent infielder/outfielder Ben Zobrist from the World Series Champion Kansas City Royals while trading second baseman Starlin Castro to the Yankees to make room for Zobrist at second base.

Community Involvement lead by Joe Maddon and the great work he did a couple of weeks ago for the homeless with his program “Thanksmas”   Checkout Maddon in a recap grocery shopping and preparing food with the Cubs Team…

Stay tuned to Reverse the Curse as the Cubs Off-Season excitement continues to ramp up with less than a month until pitchers and catcher report to spring training (2/19)or follow me on Twitter at @NancyTiano

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With Alabama’s exciting victory over unbeaten Clemson earlier this week, view the 2015 college football season came to an end and Alabama won the CFP Championship.  Even though the teams have barely settled back into their campuses after the trip to Arizona, is it too early to start thinking about next year?  Well, probably, but let’s do it anyway.  Here are some things to look for in the 2016 season:

  1. The Clemson Tigers will probably open the season ranked #1.  They will most likely be bringing back 17 starters including Heisman Trophy finalist, Deshaun Watson. Even though they have a few significant losses, they will be in a position to regroup around the core players that will be returning.  Key match-up for next year:  A road game against Florida State.  Pencil that one in now as one to watch.  Will the Tigers be able to repeat their perfect season and return to the championship game?
  2. The Expectations for Michigan are Off the Charts.  This year’s 10-3 team also returns a group of strong players, especially on defense, and no doubt Wolverines fans can practically taste the chance to make it to the championship game.  Some oddsmakers are reporting that Michigan has 12/1 odds of making it to the final game.  One thing is for sure: Coach Jim Harbaugh has started the recruiting season and everyone is taking note!
  3.  The Big Twelve May Host a Conference Champsionship Game. At the NCAA convention this week, the league voted to allow the Big 12 to have a conference championship game, even if does not expand from its current ten-team roster.  However, the Big 12 Commissioner walked back the rule change, stating to ESPN that the vote did not necessarily mean that a championship game would happen.  ESPN reports it is unlikely that a championship game would be held next year, in any event.
  4. Alabama isn’t Going Anywhere.  This team has won four championships in the last seven years.  Even with star running back Derrick Henry declaring he will enter the NFL draft next year, can you really count on Alabama not to be in the hunt for a national title?  No.  And if politics have anything to do with it, AL.com encourages Crimson Tide fans to vote democrat in the next election.  Why?  Eleven of ‘Bama’s sixteen championships have come with democrats sitting in the White House.  And four have come with O-Bama occupying 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
  5. Big Ten to Begin Nine Game Conferenece Schedule.  Despite the fact the Big Ten coaches unanimously hate the 9-game conference schedule, it’s here.  All Big Ten teams will now have to play nine conference games and one intersectional game against a power league.  No more padding those scheduleds with MAC teams.  We can only wonder what the bowl eligibiilty will look like with nine conference games.  Yikes.

 

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The holidays are here and that means food, drugstore family and football.  No wait, this is Christmas and that means food, family and BASKETBALL.  It’s easy to get confused because Christmas is to the NBA what Thanksgiving is the NFL.  An annual tradition that dates back to 1947 of all day basketball folly.  In 2011, the slate of games grew to 5, tipping off at 11am, and has stayed as large and as long ever since.

This year we’re looking at anything and everything from coast to coast match ups, a Finals rematch (or preview), East vs. West face-offs, and a Staples Center showdown, all complete with the requisite NBA Christmas uniforms, which I am not mad about this year.

If you’re looking to pick and choose when to watch vs. when to eat, sleep or spend time with the fam, here’s the game by game rundown.

11am CT New Orleans at Miami

A match up of the somewhat surprisingly intriguing Heat vs. the under performing Pelicans.  The Brow is always a fun watch and seeing him take on Hassan Whiteside in the paint shouldn’t disappoint.  But New Orleans is ravaged by injuries and an inability to adjust to the new coaching staff.  While I’m much more partial to New Orleans for eating, drinking and dancing, I’d pick Miami in this one.

1:30pm CT Chicago at OKC

The NBA so wanted Derrick Rose vs. Russell Westbrook to mean what it used to.  Unfortunately three knee surgeries has taken its toll on one much more than the other.  Despite this, the Bulls beat the Thunder earlier in the season behind a great game from Rose, who has since lost his facemask, the height of his hair, and his shot.  Both teams are playing under new head coaches who made the jump from college ball, but OKC is surging, while the Bulls count their lucky playoffs stars that they’re in the East.  I want to take the Bulls to turn it around and bring this one home because they always seem to surprise me on Christmas but without Joakim Noah, I have little faith this holiday season.

4pm CT Cleveland at Golden State

Get out the eggnog early because this is going to be good.  You can call it a Finals rematch or a Finals preview, but the top teams in each conference are at full strength with Cleveland seeing the return of Kyrie Irving this week, and they’re about to go at it.  Golden State boasts one of the best crowds in the NBA, who have been getting to games an hour early just see Steph Curry warm up.  And Lebron, well he’s mad.  Golden State makes history with every win so I’m picking the Warriors, if only to hope for a Riley Curry sighting at the post game press conference.

7:00pm CT San Antonio at Houston

Eat dinner quickly so you can be on the couch for an in-state battle of two completely opposite teams.  The Spurs quietly have the second best record in the NBA with only two less wins than the Warriors.  Pop is still sitting during games since it’s not April, and Kawhi Leonard shows us nightly how much bigger, stronger and faster he is than other top shooting guards in the league.  He’ll face another one in James Harden on Friday, but Harden’s Rockets have not done anything quietly this season.  Already working with an interim head coach and Dwight Howard trade rumors, the Rockets have been incredibly mediorcre so far, and outright bad at times.  They are however coming off of a 3 game win streak and have the talent to put on a show at home.  But if NBA fans know one thing, it’s to never bet against the Spurs.

9:00pm CT Los Angeles at Los Angeles

Many family Christmas gatherings may be able to relate to this match up – two passive aggressive siblings, living under the same roof, cut from the same cloth, with so little in common on any level.  On one end of the floor, the Lakers are a mess.  In the midst of the Kobe retirement tour, they boast two young stars in the making in Randle and Russell, who go in and out of the lineup for no apparent reason.  Kobe may score 34 points, or he may have 3 or 4 air balls.  Meanwhile, the Clippers are as good as they’ve ever been, but it doesn’t look to be good enough.  Their team is filled with controversial players who have never made it quite as far as they should have, and it doesn’t look like they ever will after the first few months of the season.  Kobe will be looking to go out with a bang in his 16th Christmas game, but I’d still take the Clippers to use the holiday to get their season back on track, as they continue to chase the shadow of the Warriors.

And that’s a wrap on Santa’s gift to all NBA fans this year.  Wishing you a very merry NBA Christmas, from our SDI family to yours!

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