The Average Chicagoan

MMA > Boxing

Some time has passed since the latest installment of Pacquiao-mania.  The "super-fight" was my first attempt at watching boxing since its last heyday, during the Tyson era.  Personally, I have many fond memories of watching mega-hyped fights featuring Tyson, Holyfield, Trinidad, De LaHoya, Lewis, Roy Jones, and even Prince Naseem Hamed.  During this same time I started watching MMA.  At the time MMA, the UFC in particular, was a proving ground where different fighting styles would face off against one another to see which was superior.  Most guys were really good at one aspect of MMA and attempted to win utilizing their strengths and avoiding their opponents strengths.  MMA has evolved, boxing has not. 

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Now boxing has had much more time as an organized sport and less to evolve from, I understand that.   The heyday of many superstar fighters in boxing is long gone at this point. Without the star power its hard to put together a compelling enough card to justify the $54.99 price tag.  That's quite a hefty price for ONE compelling fight.  The UFC on the other hand, will have many fights that are compelling.  Usually the top 3 fights are intriguing enough for a casual fan to justify their PPV price at $44.99.  Therefore, MMA can survive a lackluster main event, boxing relies solely on the main event.  In the instant gratification society that we live in, relying on one fight to deem an event exciting or not is a dangerous game to play. 



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The Fourth Branch Snapped

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Turn on the FOX News Channel at any point and any sensible person will instantly realize that most of the pundits, commentators, and hosts lean heavily to the right.  This simple observation would violate the mantra of FOX News, "Fair and Balanced."  I have heard the argument that FOX is "Fair and Balanced," I usually laugh but today changed my tune.  Today it was reported, New Corporation donated one million dollars to the Republican Governors Association.  It was the biggest, single donation this association received, I can't find the humor in that.  I wonder how much of this money Bill Brady will get?

News Corp wants to protect their interests, The Fox News Channel and The Wall Street Journal.  News Corp knows that the Republicans support them on a potential cable TV law that would  "weaken the position of its Fox network in negotiations with cable companies."  The state government races are not held to the same campaign finance restrictions as the federal races are such as a cap on the size of an individual donation.  Therefore, News Corp, or anyone else, can donate as much as they want to whomever they wish.
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Chicago: Start Up Business Haven?

It was not too long ago when Chicago was considered a stagnant business community. Of course, while the presence of the Mercantile Exchange and Board of Trade spawned off tons of start-up financial trading firms to make Chicago a hub in that industry comparable to New York and London, the tech start-up scene in Chicago was lacking. What makes a truly successful tech start-up environment? I asked this question in order to find the early disconnect in Chicago's fragmented start-up past.

One major change that Chicago adopted in the early 2000's was fully developing the entrepreneurial curriculum in most of the major Colleges and University within Chicago proper. Massachusetts and California have MIT and Stanford while the second largest start-up community, Seattle, has the University of Washington. All of these Universities have been providing top notch start-up and tech education programs soon after the internet was born, other major US cities have grown at their own pace. Northwestern, DePaul and UIC have all added similar programs; the change late in the game has shown results.
 
The building I work in was originally built out to specifically house the best Internet and tech start-ups in the Midwest, and then the bubble burst. Today the space is littered with many early stage businesses but also has some household name such as Dyson, Kraft and Wrigley/Mars. One of the main reasons why having a start-up ecosystem in place for a growing city is, it's truly an iceberg. What I mean by that is when you create a successful new business that addresses a key need or provides true value in a market, you better be ready for the wave of new ones to create competition, which only creates value for the consumer.

Case in point, I am a Business Development Director for M|Buy, we are a new company that provides outsourced media planning and buying services for local businesses. One of the main reasons we were created resides in our parent company MediaBank, which is a SaaS business model and provides media buying software to some of the largest Advertising Agencies in the world. We have 40B of US ad spend data running through our systems annually and M|Buy gathers market research from that software to see what the high, low and average cost of media placements for most every vendor in the US allowing us to have fact based negotiations with media properties. This is a Perfect example of building a new business off a value point from your current business.
 
The founders of my company are two of the most successful businessmen in the Country, Eric Lefkofsky and Brad Keywell are two of the initial backers of Groupon.com, the most successful Internet start-up in history (Groupon.com) and it was recently evaluated at over a billion dollars in just over two years of operation. The founder of Groupon.com, Andrew Mason, is a Northwestern Graduate and accomplished software developer that took part in tech entrepreneurial programs during his time there.  I had the privilege of watching Groupon.com grow from six people using our space to now being in well over 100 markets in the US and operating on half of a floor in one of the largest buildings in Chicago.

The Chicago University scene has done their part to create this new Chicago but we all know that education can't create a sticky business model alone. You need money to start a real business. Chicago has not only attracted some of the best veteran business minds but we now have these small group venture capitalist groups to fund these ideas into real profit. The Co-Founder of the AverageChicagoan.com and my good friend Jon Pirc works for one of these firms, Sandbox Industries. Led by the former CEO of the Nutrasweet (Nick Rosa), Jon works on a variety of business ideas, all having to do with up and coming new business ideas.  If the business seems sticky and can generate revenue with little overhead, Sandbox will either acquire or manage the business into adulthood. Jon is now working on Lab42, which gathers market research through social networking sites to get better insight into a potential customers needs, wants and buying habits--a data-driven new approach to an age-old marketing technique.

These VC groups are of critical value to new businesses--so many business ideas never mature due to lack of funds or poor management but the central idea behind the business did not fail; wasted ingenuity in my mind. The newest venture from my bosses is LightBank, and their home page messaging says it all-- 'You've got the idea, the motivation, and the vision. We've got the cash, the resources, and the experience to take what's in your head and help you build a thriving enterprise."  This mantra speaks directly to my point above about the wave of new businesses that come after the first successful one. Some of the businesses LightBank has funded are WhereIveBeen.com and SproutSocial.com. Chicago now has the educational and monetary infrastructure to compete with the Silicon Valley's of the world.

So the only question now is, what's your idea?

Bad Parallel Parkers in Chicago? Fine 'Em

Like most of my fellow Chicaogans, I hate all the fines imposed on us by the Chicago machine. Parking meters, red light cameras, street cleaning--you name it, Chicago has, and will, find a way to fine you for it. Which is why it pains me that the solution to the problem I'm about to talk about is --you guessed it--more fines.

But hear me out. The problem I'm talking about plagues thousands of Chicagoans every day. The problem I'm talking about can be mitigated by drivers simply taking a little responsibility for how they park.

If you live on a side street in Chicago, then you feel my pain. I'm talking about those asshole drivers who, when they parallel park, clearly take up more than one spot. Many of you know what I'm talking about. The rest of you lucky bastards either don't have cars or you have nice, private parking spots for your car.

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Normally, 3 cars should be able to fit in this area.

So that's where I come in with the solution to this aggravating problem. And my solution helps out everyone.

Install (paint) parallel parking spots on side streets. Simple solution, yes? Exactly. And let me tell you why.

By painting parallel parking lines on side streets, Chicago residents would be forced to park like civilized human beings. No more screwing the other guy over because you couldn't move your car up those three feet. Everyone would get the spot that they deserve.

And if you just have to park like an asshole? Boom. Here comes the City of Chicago parking police, ready to write you a ticket. First, a warning. Then, you're fined. A great new revenue stream for Chicago, and a great relief for all of us residents who are sick and tired of driving around our blocks at night, passing that too small parking spot.

But what if you have to park over the lines because the jerk in the space in front of you is already over his/her lines? Simple. Take a picture of the other car with your cell phone or digital camera, and send it in to a service that will validate your claims. Yes, we'd have to set up a unique service to enforce these rules, but it's a small side effect of all the money the city would be generating. And I'm sure Mayor Daley already has someone on the inside who he could sell this project to.

So there's my solution. But I want to hear your opinions on this. Feel free to write some comments below, and I'll be sure to respond to them.

Top Ten Chicago Sports Villains

Here are the top ten most vilified Chicago sports figures from recent memory.  Surely I could have slighted someone that you feel should be on the list.  Add to the comments if there is someone that I left out if you feel so inclined. 

10.  Barry Sanders



Usually sports villains are associated with general disdain such as bad mouthing a team or city, dirty play, or arrogance.  Barry Sanders was the exception to the rule, he was one of the classiest,most  humble players to play the game.  I vividly recall Barry scoring many TDs vs the Bears and walking over and handing the ball to the referee.  No dancing, No prancing, no "getting your popcorn ready," just domination.  He made this list because he was just that damn good.  Throughout his career Sanders ripped the Bears for over 1800 rushing yards, over 5 yards per carry, and 12 TDs.  Those 12 TDs were the most Barry had against any other team other than the Tampa Bay Bucs (14) who were horrific during the Barry Sanders era. 


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Lebron - A - Palooza

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As the clock approaches 11:01 tonight the anticipation for Lebron-a-palooza will heighten.  Will he don the Bulls uniform as many expect or will he go somewhere else, shifting the balance of power in the NBA.  Whatever he does myself, and all the GMs involved hope that he signs somewhere soon.  There are many teams holding out hope that they can bring in the big fish that is Lebron.  Any secondary moves are contingent upon Lebron's decision. 

 

The real question with Lebron is does he really want to win or does he want to be Jay-Z?

 

Let's breakdown some of his known options beyond staying with the Cavs.

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10 Drivers you find on a Chicago road

Gallery sneak peek (10 images):

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Ode To The Hawks

Did that really happen two weeks ago? We really have a Championship team in Chicago? Those may be some of the questions that have been swirling around your head for the last 11 days but make no mistake about it, this dream is real. A total revival is what best describes the 2010 Blackhawks, not only did this team revive a long time loser of a franchise; they revived an entire sport across multiple states. The TV ratings for the decisive game 6 were 7.6 Million viewers, second only to "So you think you can dance" only proving that a lot of women watch primetime TV. Game 6 rated higher than any other Stanley Cup Finals game in this decade proving that Hockey is here to stay in Chicago.

I will be the first to admit that I bought my first Blackhawks shirt hours before Game 6, and yes, I am considered what is to be a "Bandwagon" fan. In my defense, my father never liked hockey and I never played hockey. When the Hawks made it to their last Stanley Cup Final before this one it was 1992 and I was too busy watching MJ tear up the Portland Trailblazers, by the time Jordan left the Bulls the Blackhawks were in complete disarray. My hat goes off to you Hawk fans who stood by your team through thick and thin, I'm a diehard Cubs fan so I know what it's like to stick by a team that constantly disappoints ever year, more like living through thin and thin.
 
There has been a lot of talk from the die-hards bashing the newbie's (See The Retar Crew) but as much as you loathe us, you need us. The fact the Cubs always sell out home games to overpay players is amazing, especially this year, the Hawks will never have that luxury, nothing against you die-hards but I'm not sure any team has what the Cubs have in (Stupid, Loyal, Loud, Crazy) fans.
 
I mentioned earlier that I never played or was raised on Hockey therefore I never really watched a continuous flow of well played Hockey, until last year. Once I started to watch quality hockey in HD, my sporting life changed forever, it's like I adopted a new child, one that deserves attention and love. The Blackhawks run this year could not have come at a better time for Chicago Sports fans, the baseball scene is dismal, basketball and football are painfully average and then you have the Blackhawks, a team that continuously fights from behind, talented, classy and best of all, they are Champions, something Chicagoan's view as important as life itself.

These 2010 Blackhawks have turned into Chicago's version of the Beatles, crazy fans mobbing them wherever they go, their every move reported on. Just a few days ago Patrick Kane was spotted checking out some new Lamborghinis and it made the nightly news. Rumor has it that Adam Burrish has been chosen to keep an eye on Kane to make sure his youth does not get the best of him, not sure I agree with the mentor appointed for the task but it makes for one hell of a story.
 
I don't know about you but I am definitely ready to fully Commit To The Indian in 2011.


Show Lou the Door

It's time to give Lou his walking papers or the pink slip.  If you would like it put another way he needs to be canned, tossed out, terminated, outsourced, or downsized.  Anyway you look at it Ricketts or Hendry needs to wish upon him that the door doesn't hit him on his backside as he waddles out of it.  The game has passed him by. 

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Doh!!

Look, I like Lou Pineilla, don't get me wrong.  I don't mind having a clueless dope in the broadcast booth for entertainment value, I just don't want him running my baseball team.  Let's have a look at some of his glaring mistakes just over the past few weeks. 
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Open Letter To Milton Bradley

Dear Milton,

Now that Cub Nation and the rest of the world has had time to really let your all too long stay in Chicago sink in. Every good sound argument is made when time is given to reflect upon the happenings in question. Before we dig into some of your more current bone headed moves, lets take a look back:

Acquired by the Indians in 2000 you only lasted one year there, a theme that would be consistent through your career. The year after you were traded to the Indians and got into an argument with then Indians manager Eric Wedge, then shipped to the Dodgers. There, you got into an altercation with a fan in right field and took a water bottle and slammed it to the ground and taunted fans as you were ejected and took your jersey off before going into the clubhouse. After that you were traded to Oakland where only after two years, the Athletics designated you for assignment and shortly after the Padres picked you up. After a forgettable stint there the Rangers picked you up in 2008 and to your credit, you hit the cover off the ball only to get Cubs GM Jim Hendry all flustered about getting your left handed bat in the lineup and in return paid you $30,000,000 guaranteed over three years.
 
The day Hendry signed you I knew he made a mistake, with Abreau and Ibanez out there, he chose you? With the Cubs you could not hit, field or even at the very least, act your age. I'm not going to get into the exact numbers as I enjoyed my lunch and would not like to clean it up off the floor; yet you hit .257 and threw a ball into the bleachers with two outs in one inning. If anything in the world is worse than your play, it's your personality, attitude and general outlook on life.
 
You also had no shortage of words for the Chicago media, Cubs fans and Chicagoans in general saying, "No wonder they haven't won in 100 years." And added, "I felt like a prisoner in my own home there". The cherry on the cake is when you turned and played the race card like a coward to the Cubs fans and media.
 
Lets really dig into this race argument, when Marlon Byrd signed with the Cubs you decided to voice your concern to Byrd about the so-called KKK chapter in right field at Wrigley. Have you heard anything about racist remarks to Byrd thus far? The reason is Byrd hits, runs (dare I say sprints) out balls and keeps his mouth shut, something you have no idea how to do.
 
Cubs fans are racist? I have few names for you and some are flying from the foul poles: Ernie Banks, Fergie Jenkins, Billy Williams, Andre Dawson and Derrick Lee. I know that you have a list of names to counter that argument: LaTroy Hawkins, Jacque Jones and you. Look at these names and tell me what is different about the two groups: the first group are Hall of Famers and your group is just awful. Now hopefully you understand that it has nothing to do with the color of your skin but rather your terrible play here. It's the same for all players Milton; remember when a fan ran on to the field and started yelling at Bob Howry or when Alex Gonzales booted a ground ball in game 6 of the 2003 NLCS?
 
Since the Mariners picked you up this season you have already flipped the bird on live TV to Rangers fans and had a temper tantrum with your new manager and told him "I am packing my stuff and leaving!"
 
I really have no idea how you still think you are being treated unfairly, the bottom line in baseball is that in the big markets, you produce or go home. I don't think you have the mental capacity or toughness to play in any city worth playing for.
 
You send the wrong message to children about how this game is supposed to be played and that may be your biggest crime yet. My suggestion is to start a new career as a thief, the way I see it you have been stealing money from MLB teams for a decade now.

Big Z to the Pen!!!

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Big Z to the Pen!!



The Cubs desperately needed a right handed power arm to come out late in the game.  They just got one.  Carlos Zambrano is going to be an awfully expensive set up man.  Just listening to Bores and Bernstein and some of the other Chicago talk show hosts they called this move "the worst move in baseball in the last century."  Holy hyperbole! I see potential in this move and here's why the arguments against this move are wrong:

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Thugs Officially Out Of Hibernation

With the weather turning around in Chicago you can feel a new vibe in the city, for some, that vibe is rampant homicide. This being my seventh year living in Chicago I have noticed a disturbing pattern as the temperatures rise. It seems as if the scum of Chicago are too lazy to gang-
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bang during the harsh winter months, thus culminating in a spring bloodbath every year.

Over 40 people were shot in a two-day span last week, mostly on the South and West side.
"Between March 31st and 2 a.m. this morning -- in 50 hours-- 41 people have been shot in 31 incidents, including four homicides," Chicago police Supt. Jody Weis said during a news conference Friday.

This is no surprise to Weis as he has dealt with this in the past, it seems as if there is no stopping this annual occurrence. "If someone is going to fire weapons in the vicinity of three dozen officers armed, in uniform, the question I have to ask is, 'What will they do when we're not here?'" Weis added.
 
Weis was referring to the shots fired in the Englewood neighborhood while many Chicago cops were investigating a shooting that took place less than an hour before and only a few blocks away.
 
Weiss was addressing the media at 66th Stand Marshfield on Friday, during his comments a person yelled out that another person had been shot, only 4 blocks away from where the media had gathered a man was shot in the head in his car.
 
Personally, I don't care if the aforementioned scum of Chicago weed each other out, in essence they are doing the cops job better than they can because they have no code of ethics. The problem I and many other Chicagoans have with this is when a 7-year-old girl gets caught in the crossfire.
 
The amount of Chicago homicides are growing slowly every year, it seems to be contained to the South and West sides, for now.

Jailbirds Spread Thier Wings


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Mayor Daley has caught a lot of flack in the city for the past few years.  The criticisms have come from from a failed Olympic bid to the usual Chicago corruption acquisitions.  There is one thing that the Mayor does deserve some credit for and its the recent call for improvement on prisoner reentry.  America's dirty little secret, our old friends that we have sent away.  But guess what?  Our old friends come back out.  

It really has be
come quite an expensive and worthless endeavor, locking all our problems away.  While crime rates have dropped since the early 90s the prison population has risen and risen by 800% since 1970.  Harsher punishments such as three strikes laws and mandatory minimums have filled our prisons to the gills.  Did you know that the United States, the best country in the world - the land of the free, has the highest incarceration rate in the world.  Sounds kind of hypocritical if you ask me.  To call yourself the land of the free when you take away the freedom of individuals per capita more than all three countries in the "Axis of Evil" or any other demonic state out there takes a lot of balls.  But we don't lock these people up forever, we do eventually let them out so we aren't so bad. 

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The fact of the matter is upon their return they see less opportunities that were available prior to their mistake(s).  Don't get me wrong, if you commit a crime, pardon the cliche', you do have to do the time (a fair amount of time).  The issue is just that, if you do the time - that should be enough.  That doesn't happen in this culture that we live in.  Those that have made mistakes and committed crimes either of necessity, addiction, stupidity, or desperation become branded with the scarlet letter of a permanent record.  A record that they carry with them for years, maybe the rest of their lives.  

After your mistake you will always be referred to as an ex-convict, or an ex-con.  When filling out those post incarceration applications ex-cons have to check yes in that box that many of us have seen.  Have you been convicted of a felony?  Hmmmm... I am an employer looking at a pile of applications, who do you think I am going to hire?  The person who checked no, or yes?


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Cubs Show No Sign of Braking for Ugly Advertisements

In a move once seen as highly irregular, but becoming more common nowadays, the Chicago Cubs owners are on the verge of selling out. First, it was the Under Armor logos placed strategically on the outfield walls. Pretty distracting and noticeable--even to the common Cub's fan.

Then came the Captain Morgan Club placed not so strategically behind the hallowed statue of Harry Caray. This monstrosity of a bar juts awkwardly onto Addison Street from the historic stadium.

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2010 White Sox Season Preview

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Article by Mike Klotz

If you put any stock in the PECOTA projects, Sox fans are in for a tough battle in the AL Central.  They project 2 wins separating the top 4 teams in this order: 1 White Sox (84 wins), 2 Twins (84 wins), 3 Cleveland (83 wins), and 4 Detroit (82wins).  They expect that the Royals will be in their familiar basement dwelling with 78 wins.  They have the whole division separated by 6 wins.

In other words, they don't have a clue on who's going to win this division.  I have a clue and it isn't the pale hose.

There are just too many ifs and questions with the White Sox for me this season to back up John Dank's claim that they are the team to beat in the American League.  Like my grandma used to say, if my Aunt had balls, she'd be my Uncle.  In other words, ifs don't do a whole lot for you.

If Carlos Quentin stays healthy we are solid."

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Ouchy Ouchy Carlos

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10 Random Rants (March '10)

Gallery sneak peek (10 images):

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Bears Make Great Moves, Some Work Left Undone

The equivalent of the 2010 NFL Draft has already come and gone, what you didn't hear? Bear Nation does not have to wait until late April to see a new and improved squad. I feel for younger fans who are new recruits to Bear Nation, they must think our front office prints their own money every offseason after the past two, long standing Bear fans know that the moves made in the last two bidding seasons have been unlike anything else in team history.
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Acquiring Julius Peppers, Chester Taylor and Brandon Manumaleuna all in the same day instantly makes this club a playoff contender. No need to remind Jerry Angelo and Lovie Smith that the potential of an NFL with no caps on team salaries.

Even with undoubtedly upgrading in three areas the Bears work should not be over if they are truly looking to be one of the final four teams alive in January 2011. They still need an offensive tackle, strong safety and wide receiver but don't worry; I have a plan to get one of them by a relatively easy move. They Bears should ship Jay Cutler's focal point Greg Olsen for a middle first or high second round pick in the upcoming draft for a few key reasons.
 
Greg Olsen can't run block plain and simple and you saw that in that evident in the decline of Matt Forte's production running the ball to the outside. Another key reason why Olsen should walk is that in the typical Mike Martz offense the tight end is not a top three receiving option and is used primarily to block, allowing them to spread the field with three or four receivers. Brandon Manumaleuna is a perfect fit for that scheme.
 
They would use that pick to grab a tackle or safety as picking up another inexperienced wide receiver does not act as an instant upgrade with the core they have now. A veteran presence is needed in the number one spot as Devin Hester will likely be moved back to special teams.
If the Bears grab a veteran OT and WR through free agency this team could be very dangerous especially with the Packers and Vikings getting picked apart by free agency thus far with Taylor going to the Bears and Kampan going to the Jaguars.
 
The Bears top brass have apparently adopted the business tactics of past failing corporations currently by spending now and asking questions later, who thinks Angelo and Lovie will be here if the 2010 season does not result in a playoff birth. The real question is, do you really care?


Chicago: Hockeytown USA?

thn kane toews2 230x300 Chicago: Hockey Town USA?

With the Blackhawks cruising through the regular season and another playoff appearance all but wrapped up one can't help but question whether Chicago is one of the best Hockey towns in the USA. The Bears, Cubs, Sox and Bulls are all underachieving, the one team that many casual and even veteran Chicago sports fans turned their back on for decades at a time has come back into national relevance.

The Blackhawks are not the only game in town however, adding to the hockey craze in Chicago are the 4-time Champion Chicago Wolves. The Wolves drew a season-high 15,532 fans to Allstate Arena on Jan. 30, the fifth-best crowd in their 16-year history. They are within striking distance of first place in the tightly packed West Division and expect healthy crowds through the rest of the regular season.

Remember, there once was a time that the Wolves drew more fans than the Blackhawks, as they have a cheaper venue to attract more casual hockey fans.

The Winter Olympics is the perfect stage to attract even the most casual hockey fan, being one myself I can't help but watch the contribution our Chicago Blackhawks have brought to the world stage.

In Sunday's Olympic gold medal game our Blackhawks were on center stage for yet another time. Jonathan Towes started off the action with a first period goal, Patrick Kane followed up with a goal of his own in the second further validating the Blackhawks front office drafting and the players themselves.

They are the only respectable game in town right now and I'm willing to bet that once (if) any of our other beloved teams get back to winning ways we may just push this young, exciting Blackhawks team out of our mind yet once again.

If you were not already on the Blackhawks bandwagon for 2010, it would be wise to do so soon before maximum capacity is reached.

Chicago Cubs 2010 Season Preview

Written By: Mike Klotz, Posted By: JRJP

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It was around this time last year when I was excited for baseball to start despite my low expectations. My beloved Cubs, coming off back to back very disappointing playoff sweeps by the Diamondbacks and the Dodgers paired with a bevy of questionable moves by GM Jim Hendry--my outlook was somewhat subsided. Then the PECOTA (Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm) projections came out. The baseball nerds rejoiced.  Cub fans rejoiced. Baseball Prospectus had the Cubs at 96 wins and dominating the division by 12 games. Too bad they actually had to play the games on the field, winning 83.

The proverbial baseball Nostradamus, PECOTA has returned with their predictions again for the 2010 season tabbing the Cubbies for 77 wins with a second place finish again. Now I am glad that they actually have to play the games on the field. In recent history, PECOTA has been way off in 2009, 2008 (predicted - 89 wins, won 97), and 2006 (predicted 85 wins, won 66). I expect the baseball psychics will be off again this season in regards to the Cubs.


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