Top Five Chicago Sports Stories for the Week of June 11-17, 2012

The Dream Team Documentary
The new dream team documentary on NBATV created some interesting topics that related to the Bulls. Michael Jordan admitted that he was one of the players behind blackballing Isaiah Thomas off the dream team. Jordan discussed his reluctance to play on the team. Karl Malone said he’d would pick Scottie Pippen if he was drafting his own team.

When asked about whether or not he wanted Thomas on the Dream Team, Jordan commented “"That was one of the stipulations put to me that Isiah wasn't part of the team." Jordan said. "I was getting strong innuendos it wasn't just ... it was coming from a higher place who didn't want Isiah on the team." Pippen followed that up with...”Isiah was the general (of the Pistons)... he would say to his teammates, 'Kick them on their ass. Do whatever you have to do.' No, I didn't want him on the Dream Team. ... I despised how he played the game.'"

Jordan originally expressed his reluctance to play on the dream team. He was the first player approached. When asked to play by the man who drafted him, former Bulls General Manager Rod Thorn, Jordan’s response was “who else is playing”. Thorn then turned to Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. When Bird and Magic agreed to play Jordan followed.

When asked who he would start a team with from a member of the dream team other than his former Jazz teammate John Stockton, Malone said Pippen. He is quoted on CSNChicago.Com via the Dan Patrick show as saying “I would have to start my team with Scottie Pippen," he said. "This is why I would take Scottie: Do you remember the time that Michael retired?...Scottie led that team in every statistical category...Plus, he's a guy who could care less about scoring. He wants to stop the best player on the other team.”

Dempster Trade Rumors

Cubs starting Pitcher Ryan Dempster met with the Cubs’ President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein earlier this week to discuss his future. Dempster has been a bright spot in an otherwise awful Cubs season. Despite a 3-3 record, Dempster ranks second in the National League in earned run average, fifth in batting average against and sixth in WHIP.

With the Cubs in the middle of a major rebuilding process and Dempster 35 years old it would benefit both the Cubs and Dempster to pursue a trade. Dempster was quoted on ESPNChicago.Com as saying “ "We talked about being on the same page and trying to do what is best for our team."

Dempster in the final year of a four year, $44 million contract. He will make $14 million of that this season. The biggest rumor has him going to the Dodgers.

Interleague Play
White Sox
Facing two of MLB’s most storied franchises, the White Sox faced their final interleague road trip for 2012. After a 6-1 win in the opening game of the series in St. Louis, the White Sox lost the final two games at Busch Stadium and dropped the opening game in Los Angeles.

They struggled to score runs in the final two games in St. Louis. They dropped a 1-0 decision with Jake Peavy to the Major League’s leader in wins, Lance Lynn. St. Louis captured the third game 5-3.

The White Sox scored runs in four of the first five innings in series opener in L.A. to take a 5-0 nothing lead. The Dodgers capped a comeback by scoring the winning run on a Matt Thornton wild pitch in the bottom of the eighth for a 7-6 victory.

After blowing another lead in game two, the White Sox won 5-4. They took a 1-0 lead into the ninth inning in the final game of the series before the Dodgers tied the score and then won it in the tenth. Addison Reed suffered his first blown save.

The White Sox began the week with the Major’s best road record. Their 2-4 trip was only their second losing road trip this season and first in a month. They return home to host the Cubs and Brewers this week.

Other than the White Sox, it could be argued that the two American League franchises the Cubs are most intertwined with are the Red Sox and Tigers. Many compared the Red Sox and Cubs long suffering fan bases until the Red Sox reversed their curse in 2004 and 2007.

The Cubs last World Series appearance was a seven game loss to Detroit in 1945.

The Cubs won the opening game in each of the first two series, but lost the final two to both Detroit and Boston. Their lack of offense was once again the story. The Cubs averaged just 3.5 runs per game this week. The Cubs currently rank 27 in MLB in runs scored. The Cubs most impressive performance of the week was a 3-0 shutout behind seven shutout innings by Ryan Dempster in the opener. Dempster has not allowed a run in his last two starts and has given up just one in his last three. If the Cubs decide to move him, Dempster is certainly making a strong case that he will be able to help a team.

Bears Mini-Camp The Biggest story of the Bears’ off-season workouts continues to be the conspicuous by his absence Matt Forte. Forte has yet to sign the Bears Franchise player tender at $7.74 million. Forte’s absence might hinder some of the Bears continuity with the many changes they have made in the off-season. They did sign former Raiders RB Michael Bush as insurance. Bush has increased his rushing yards in each of his four seasons. He ran for 977 yards and seven touchdowns also caught 38 passes for 418 yards by far the highest of his career.

The Tribune’s Brad Biggs reported from the mini-camp. Special teams coach Dave Toub praised newly signed special teamers wide receiver Eric Weems and Linebacker Blake Contanzo. Weems is expected to take over the gunner position left open by Corey Graham’s departure to Baltimore. Contanzo arrives from San Francisco. He had a memorable divisional playoff game against New Orleans last season. He forced a key fumble and recovered another in the 49ers 36-32 victory. Toub was also excited about rookie safety Brandon Hardin from Oregon State.

The reuniting of Bears Quarterback Jay Cutler with wide receiver Brandon Marshall and Quarterback coach Jeremy Bates has given the Bears offense optimism. Under Bates tutulage in 2007, Cutler and Marshall put up big numbers in Denver in 2007.
Other players that had impressive an minicamp include defensive backs D.J. Moore and Jeremy Jones, Wide Receiver Earl Bennett and Tight End Kellen Davis. Former Offensive Coordinator Mike Martz doesn’t use the TE for much more than blocking. Davis could be a player to watch come fall.

According to Biggs the Bears spent time working on the running game, third down situations and the red zone.

Cubs Sign Soler
After months of speculation following his defection last fall from Cuba, the Cubs signed 19 year-old outfielder Jorge Soler to a nine year $30 million contact. Soler is 6’3 225 pounds and described as a five tool player. He is expected to play at either Class A Peoria or Boise in the short season Northwest League according to a Tribune article earlier this week.

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