Friday, June 25, 2010

The good, the bad and the ugly

A lot to cover, so it's time for the good, bad and the ugly:

The good: Landon Donovan saves the day for the U.S. National Soccer Team at the World Cup Wednesday, kicking in the game winner against Algeria in stoppage time and helping the U.S. win Group C. They will face Ghana in the round of 16 on Saturday. To celebrate, here is the Spanish-language version call of the goal from Univision:

Also, in keeping up with the debate on the vuvuzelas at this year's World Cup, we get a preview of an upcoming World Cup in a site not previously mentioned:

Also among the good are the Good Guys in Black, the White Sox, who won their ninth straight win Thursday with a two-hit, 2-0 shutout of the Braves. I don't know what woke these guys up, but all of a sudden, they're 2.5 games behind leaders Minnesota going into this weekend's series with the Cubs at U.S. Cellular Field. Things are definitely looking up for the Southsiders.

The bad: We knew it was coming, because professionals sports is a business, whether we like it or not. On Thursday, it was announced that the Blackhawks had traded wingers Dustin Byfuglien and Ben Eager and defenseman Brent Sopel and prospect Akim Aliu to Atlanta for the 24th and 54th overall picks in Friday's NHL entry draft, center Marty Reasoner, prospect Jeremy Morin and minor leaguer Joey Crabb.

The culprit: the ole salary cap. The trade shaves about $4 million off of the books for the Hawks as they try to adjust to next season's cap of $59.4 million.

As much as it hurts to lose Byfuglien, who had 11 goals during the playoffs, the Blackhawks do get a noted player like Reasoner and a look to the future with Morin.

And finally,

The ugly: The Cubs are 8-12 in June after Thursday's 3-2 win over the Mariners in 13 innings, leaving them eight games below .500 for the season (32-40) and eight games behind first-place St. Louis.

While the pitching generally has been good (save for the 12 runs given up against the Angels at Wrigley Field last Saturday), the hitting has continued to stink, especially this last series in Seattle. They were shut out 2-0 on Tuesday, only scrounged one run on nine hits Wednesday in an 8-1 Seattle win, and only six hits in 13 innings but won 3-2 thanks to strong pitching performances from guys like Ted Lilly.

The Cubs aren't completely dead, but if they don't turn things around like the White Sox (who were looking at some changes as recently as three weeks ago) have in recent weeks, Jim Hendry will have to do some serious house cleaning that could possibly mean his job, too.

And the jury is still out: The Bulls are playing the waiting game, trading guard Kirk Hinrich, French prospect Kevin Seraphin and cash to the Wizards for maybe a second-round pick in next year's draft. That will have to be sorted on July 8, when the trade can become official by NBA rules.

Why do it? It's all about making room under the salary cap for luring LeBron James and another top free agent (Toronto's Chris Bosh? Miami's Dwyane Wade? Atlanta's Joe Johnson?) to the United Center. Washington will absorb Hinrich's $9 million salary for someone who likely will babysit for top draft choice John Wall until the Kentucky star is ready, while the Bulls will have loads of money to bring top talent to Chicago.

We'll see after July 1.

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