May 25, 2011
The Cubs played most of Wednesday night’s game…knew a prolonged rainstorm was coming, the Cubs sounded like the motorists who ignored all…storm could hit at any time. It was the Cubs’ second rain-shortened loss in their last…
Chicago Sun-Times – 8 hours ago –
Cubs Manager Mike Quade has an animated discussion with the umpire crew as the game is delayed because of rain in the seventh inning of the Cubs-Mets game Wednesday May 25, …
DES PLAINES CASINO
With the scheduled July opening of the Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, there soon will be 1,200 new gaming positions in the Chicago area market. …
DUPAGE COUNTY BOARD
Chicago Sun-Times – 18 hours ago –
According to a progress report this week from County Board Chairman Dan Cronin, the savings at the halfway point have been notable. Environmental committee chairman Jeff Redick discussed some of the highlights, including implementation of software for …
Cubs unable to beat rain, Mets
Coleman, Berg let 4-1 lead slip away
By Paul Sullivan, Tribune reporter
10:33 p.m. CDT, May 25, 2011
They’ve managed only five two-game win streaks in the first two months, and lost 7-4 Wednesday in a rain-shortened affair in their attempt at No. 6.
The game was called after a 41-minute delay in the top of the seventh.
Manager Mike Quade vehemently argued the decision by crew chief Dale Scott to call out the grounds crew, though the rain was falling sideways.
“Look, we put ourselves behind the 8-ball by blowing a really nice start,” Quade said.
He should’ve ended it right there, but Quade continued.
“It’s not the umpire’s fault, that’s for sure,” he said. “Everybody is frustrated, not the least of which is me with the weather and what we’ve dealt with. But if you’re going to play in it, I just thought you keep playing. Dale had a forecast and I had a forecast, and I think we were coming at it from two different directions.
“I figured when they put the tarp on, we’ll see you (Thursday) at 1:20 (p.m.). Maybe he was trying to save the field if the rain delay went on for an hour or two, and we could come back out. I don’t know. You’ll have to ask him. But I was convinced it was going to rain until 2, 3, 4 in the morning, and we needed to keep playing. … I’m on the losing end, so I want to keep on playing.”
Quade didn’t believe the field was any worse or the rain any harder.
But by complaining about the stoppage of a game when everyone knew a prolonged rainstorm was coming, the Cubs sounded like the motorists who ignored all the warnings and got stuck on Lake Shore Drive during the blizzard in February. The forecast was dire for Wednesday’s game, and both teams knew a storm could hit at any time.
It was the Cubs’ second rain-shortened loss in their last four home games, following a 3-0, six-inning loss to the Giants in similar conditions on May 14. “That’s the worst I’ve ever pitched in,” left-hander Doug Davis said. “They usually don’t start when it’s raining, but I understand it was on (national) TV.”
The Cubs wasted a four-run first inning, as pitchers Casey Coleman and Justin Berg failed to show anything in their short stints.
Coleman allowed eight of the 12 batters he faced to reach base in his shortest start of the year, blowing a three-run lead and watching his earned-run average rise to 7.32 in his eight starts.
But as bad as Coleman looked, Berg somehow managed to top him. In his second appearance after being called up on Sunday, he threw 12 pitches to three batters, and none of them came close to crossing the plate. Berg forced in two runs with bases-loaded walks, though both of the runs were charged to Coleman.
The Cubs wound up with only one hit after their four-run first, looking like they had no chance at a comeback.
“Stranger things have happened,” Quade argued.
Blame pitchers for Cubs’ struggles
BY GORDON WITTENMYER email@example.com May 26, 2011 12:46AM
Enough with the Cubs’ lack of home runs, already.
That’s not why they’re in fifth place in the National League Central or why their record is worse this year than it was at the same point during the ugly 2010 season.
The reason the Cubs turned green quicker than the ivy this year is because of the kind of terrible team pitching on display Wednesday.
In a rain-abbreviated 7-4 loss to the New York Mets on a cold, blustery night, the hitters shouldn’t have stood much of a chance.
But Casey Coleman blew a 4-1 lead when he couldn’t get out of the second inning, and Justin Berg became the first guy in five years to throw 12 pitches, all for balls, when he took over (matching the feat of former Cubs prospect Sergio Mitre of the Florida Marlins in ’06).
For the first time since 1989, the Cubs needed three pitchers to get through the first two innings.
But this is a staff-wide problem that transcends this game and the injuries to starting pitchers.
Those injuries are getting a disproportionate amount of attention and blame for a team ERA (4.69) that took over last place in the National League on Wednesday night — and a starting-rotation ERA (5.60) that already ranked last in the majors.
So the Cubs’ brass should forget the hugs and handshakes for Albert Pujols and start embracing the idea of spending some free-agent money on pitching next winter.
‘‘We’re inconsistent as a son of a gun, and we were again tonight,’’ said manager Mike Quade, who argued to keep playing when umpire Dale Scott called for the tarp with two outs in the top of the seventh.
‘‘It’s just tough to put things together when that’s the case.’’
Meanwhile, there’s no sense blaming the hitters for what’s wrong.
As homer-hungry Aramis Ramirez said recently, ‘‘We ain’t going to hit a lot of home runs. We don’t have that kind of team. But I think we can get some guys on base, and we should hit, and we should be in every game.’’
Like Wednesday, when they rapped around unbeaten Dillon Gee for four runs in the first inning.
Consider that this was already the Cubs’ 11th loss when they score four or more runs, four more than at this same point last season.
To give an idea how different the pitchers are performing this year, that’s already one more than they had at the All-Star break during their last winning season (2009) — and only three short of their entire season total the last time they made the playoffs, in 2008.
In fact, the top of the order is getting on base better than any other team in baseball. And the relative offensive numbers are better than a year ago: The Cubs are fifth in the NL in slugging, third in on-base percentage and second in hitting. They’ve scored more runs than 10 other teams in the league.
As Quade has said repeatedly, ‘‘It starts with pitching.’’
Or ends there, as the case might be.
DES PLAINES CASINO
New casino sure to be market game changer
BY JOHN GROCHOWSKI firstname.lastname@example.org May 25, 2011 03:48PM
With the scheduled July opening of the Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, there soon will be 1,200 new gaming positions in the Chicago area market. That’s the legal limit for gaming positions at Illinois casinos.
There’s an excitement about the opening of a new casino, and everyone will want to see the new place. Competitors’ revenues will fall. Grand Victoria in Elgin looks particularly vulnerable here. Since its October 1994 opening, it has had a virtual lock on the affluent northwest suburban market.
Hollywood in Aurora could feel some impact, and the Joliet casinos, too, but Rivers is practically in Grand Victoria’s backyard. Eventually, some customers will gravitate back to their old favorites. In better economic times, the expectation would be that older casinos eventually return to their old revenues while the new joint grows the market.
It worked that way the last time we had an all-new casino open, adding gaming positions to the Chicago market. Showboat Mardi Gras, the casino now known as Ameristar East Chicago, opened on April 18, 1997. Comparing the last month with only three casinos in northwest Indiana to the first full month with Mardi Gras on board, Empress Hammond (now Horseshoe) fell from $18.6 million in adjusted gross revenue that March to $17.0 million in May, Majestic Star in Gary dropped from $9.1 million to $7.4 million, but Trump gained from $9.1 million to $11.8 million. Showboat’s AGR was $14.1 million in its first full month.
A year later, in May 1998, Empress was back up to $18.9 million, Trump to $12.6 million, and Majestic Star was close to its pre-Mardi Gras total at $9.0 total. Mardi Gras generated to $14.4 million. Mardi Gras prospered, competitors recovered and the market grew.
Another comparison point came in 2008, when Horseshoe Hammond moved from its old boat with 60 tables and 1,942 slots to the new barge with 129 tables and 3,188 slots that had an Aug. 8 grand opening after a late July soft opening.
Competitors saw the immediate, expected drop. From July to August, Majestic Star fell from $12.0 million to $11.0 million, Majestic Star II from $9.4 million to $8.9 million and Ameristar from $28.6 million to $25.6 million, while Horseshoe shot up from $33.6 million to $44.6 million.
But in a much tougher economy, the recovery hasn’t happened. Three years down the road, in April 2011, Ameristar was at $21.8 million, Majestic Star at $10.3 million and Majestic Star II at $9.3 million, while Horseshoe was up to $47.4 million.
Expect Rivers to put up huge numbers from the get-go, and expect a dropoff at competing operations. The pace at which others recover probably depends on whether we see better economic times.
John Grochowski is a local free-lance writer. His “Casino Answer Man” tips air at
5:18 p.m. Tuesday-Friday on WLS-AM (890).
DUPAGE COUNTY BOARD
DuPage cuts thousands from energy costs with help from federal grant
By Susan Frick Carlman email@example.com May 25, 2011 03:13PM
Spring might have arrived late this year, but DuPage County was greening up long before the tulips bloomed and the trees filled with buds.
Eighteen months after receiving a $4.6 million U.S. Department of Energy grant designed to boost energy efficiency, the county has made significant strides toward its goal of cutting energy consumption by 10 percent.
The three-year initiative took on a dozen projects. According to a progress report this week from County Board Chairman Dan Cronin, the savings at the halfway point have been notable.
Environmental committee chairman Jeff Redick discussed some of the highlights, including implementation of software for the county’s recreational trails system.
“This is something that made sense to me,” said Redick, who has been working on streamlining access to the county paths for about six years. “It’s basically a Mapquest for bikes and trail users.”
The county had been diverting a lot of staff time for fielding questions from people looking for information about the bike and foot paths and their interconnections. The county sought federal funds to help meet that need without taking IT staff members away from their other duties, Redick said.
“It’s decreased the costs that we have in personnel, answering questions, and it’s made the answers more available, even after hours,” he said. “The reviews seem pretty good.”
Staff estimates indicate the trail mapping feature has diverted about 2,000 miles of road travel.
Also helping pare the energy bills soon will by the Energy Star grass roof now being installed on the roof of the administration center’s cafeteria.
“The green roof technology will provide energy savings in heating and cooling costs,” Redick said.
Cronin said the energy savings generated by the roof will come to 1.5 megawatt hours annually.
Additional highlights of the energy efficiency project so far include the switch to LED lighting in the two campus parking garages, which has cut energy use in half and translates to annual savings of $51,000; coordination of traffic lights along 38 miles of county roads, conserving a cumulative 108,000 gallons of gasoline, 96 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions and $250,000 worth of fuel; converting to reusable dish ware in the DuPage Convalescent Center, saving $15,000 yearly; and the creation of ten new jobs, including one new full-time position in the Economic Development and Planning Department.
“The county has spent more than 61 percent of the funds, with the majority of projects to be completed by the end of 2011,” Cronin said. “The program is scheduled to conclude in October 2012, at which time a summary of the entire program will be brought to the board.”