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Chicago Cubs Spring Training 

The spring training activities of the Chicago Cubs, as with all teams in Major League Baseball, were suspended as of Thursday, March 12th, as a result of close consultation with various health officials at both the local and national level. The reason for the suspension is to discourage the gathering of any large crowd, which might have the effect of promoting the spread of the coronavirus disease which has been gathering sensational international headlines for weeks now.

Governor Pritzker has been assured by the owners of all major sports franchises in Illinois that they will stage no sporting events until at least May 1st, in accordance with advice from health officials. That means that even if Major League Baseball starts up again within the next six weeks, there will be no home games played in any Chicago sports venues during that time frame. A statewide plan for combating the coronavirus was announced by Governor Pritzker, along with Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, on March 12th as well. That plan included the ban on sporting events, some number of school closings, and a general limitation on large gatherings.

Spring training news for the Cubs 

Before the big news about the impact of the coronavirus on the Cubs' schedule, one of the major announcements of the spring training season was that All-Star Kris Bryant would be the team's new leadoff hitter for the upcoming season. The Cubs have had major troubles getting any kind of consistent production from leadoff hitters, and this move is expected to help reverse that situation. Bryant is an excellent hitter who also possesses good base-running skills, and is not prone to getting the 'yips' at the plate, even in pressure situations. If Bryant should get off to a good start this season, it's safe to say that the leadoff position will be his for quite some time.

Cubs Manager David Ross has confirmed that his opening day starter will be either Yu Darvish or Kyle Hendricks, with the actual selection to be announced once the haze of the coronavirus clears, and a firm opening day is known. Both pitchers have looked good in spring training, and it is expected that either one will be ready to take the mound and give a creditable performance. Ross has stated that his philosophy is to put his best foot forward on that first game of the season, and either one of these two pitchers will fill that bill.

On Wednesday, March 11th, the Cubs made five more roster moves, assigning several pitchers to the minor leagues, so as to get closer to the season-starting roster size of 26. The five pitchers who were sent down are James Norwood, Dakota Mekkes, Ben Taylor, Wyatt Short, and Danny Hultzen. While Norwood was assigned to the Triple-A Iowa baseball club, all four of the other pitchers were sent down to minor league organizations. These moves leave the Cubs with 39 players still on the team, which means they need to drop another 13 players to reach opening day roster size.

Best Spring Break Vacation Destinations 

Deciding exactly where to go on spring break every year can be a difficult decision, unless you're one of those people who tends to follow the crowd and just goes where everyone else goes. This year, there are more choices than ever, and if you're going on spring break with a whole group of your friends, you'll be able to take advantage of some group discounts at some of the destinations listed below.

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

If you're a beach lover, this is the place for you. This small Mexican village is an absolutely ideal locale for a vacation on the beach and in the sun. There are some gorgeous beaches in this village, and it's beautiful, tranquil waters are ideal for scuba diving or snorkeling, as well as for taking a nice dip yourself. There is also a major tourist attraction called the Arch of Cabo San Lucas, which is an unusually shaped rock formation that projects out into the ocean, providing an endless source of fascination for all observers.

Key West, Florida

You can't beat the ideal Florida climate for a vacation under the sun, and the Florida Keys provide the ideal venue, being surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and the gentle waves that wash ashore. In between trips to the beach, you can visit the Ernest Hemingway House and find out all about the city's history. There is no way you could ever be bored in this beautiful location, which makes it ideal for a spring break choice.

Barcelona, Spain

If you don't mind a somewhat longer trip on your spring break destination, Barcelona might be ideal for you. It has a tremendous culture and history, and its beauty routinely attracts hordes of visitors from many different countries. The nightlife is fantastic in Barcelona, and there are a number of gorgeous beaches, as well as some great opportunities for shopping, clubbing, and dining, along the fabled boardwalk of the city.

Miami, Florida

This city has become a premier selection for students on spring break, since it provides a perfect blend of beach activities and nightlife. During the daytime, you can enjoy the sun and sand at luxurious South Beach, then enjoy a fine dining experience while appreciating the Art Deco landscape of Miami. At night, you'll have a number of clubs to choose from, and the streets themselves are alive with activity, to keep you energized all through the night.

Denver, Colorado

Denver may not be one of the cities that immediately comes to mind when you think about the best venues for a spring break vacation. However, there's an awful lot to do there, and you can enjoy the spectacular scenery of the mountain ranges which are immediately adjacent to the city. Even in springtime, there are some slopes still covered with snow that will be ideal for skiing and possibly snowboarding. There are also plenty of activities scheduled for Red Rocks Amphitheater, where a number of concerts are hosted every year. At night, you can head downtown and spend some time in one of the many nightclubs which offer live music and entertainment.

NCAA March Madness

In a move that many sports insiders anticipated, the NCAA has canceled both the men's and women's basketball tournaments four 2020 due to the outbreak of the coronavirus. This was something that many people saw coming, as one conference after another canceled its championship tournament the day before the NCAA's announcement.

With virtually all the conferences canceling their scheduled tournaments, there really was no point in staging the nationwide championship anymore. It would have been impossible to determine seedings and brackets without the normal elimination and advancement processes in place. On Thursday, March 12, the NCAA announced that all remaining winter and spring championship events would be canceled immediately.

Reason for the cancellations

NCAA President Mark Emmert, in conjunction with the Board of Governors made the decision based on the threat to public health made by the coronavirus, and the wishes of the organization to avoid contributing to the spread of the pandemic. The announcement also referenced decisions made by the conferences themselves, which would have made it impossible to conduct the tournament in any case.

This move came as no surprise, given the fact that the National Basketball Association had already suspended the remainder of its season the day before, after one of its players tested positive for the virus. On Wednesday, the NCAA originally announced that the tournament would still be held, but that all games would be played in empty arenaa, with only essential personnel and some family members in attendance. That decision was superseded the very next day, after both the NBA action and the cancellation of conference championships by all the major conferences.

Economic impact of the cancellation

The NCAA March Madness tournament is by far the most lucrative event in all of collegiate sports, with the men's Division I basketball tournament routinely generating in the neighborhood of $900 million from the marketing rights and the television rights alone. That figure constitutes a significant portion of the NCAA's annual income, and the $933 million that it earned from the 2019 tournament was a major part of its 2020 budget.

This means that all revenue from the broadcast rights could effectively be wiped out, along with all the ticket revenue which would have been coming in. Obviously this will not bode well for the NCAA's basketball budget for 2021, but it is presently way too early to consider alternatives for making up the shortfall. It is likely however, that NCAA President Mark Emmert will be forced to consider that very possibility in the near future, in light of this year's cancellation of the tournament.

One aspect of the tournament cancellation which remains unclear is how that decision will impact deals that the NCAA has with television networks TNT and CBS, which shared the broadcast rights to this year's tournament. If the NCAA is forced to forfeit the money it would have received for broadcast rights, that will of course constitute another major blow to its incoming revenue, and that is likely to have major consequences in the future.

Facts About St. Patrick's Day

With St. Patrick's Day upon us, you can bet that the ranks of the Irish will be swollen by millions of part-time Irishmen who discover their inner leprechaun at this time every year. To enhance your appreciation of St. Patrick's Day, here are some facts you might not know about the annual celebration.

Source for the celebration

St. Patrick is one of the most well-known and revered saints in all of Ireland. According to ancient legends, he was responsible for bringing Christianity to the island, he helped free Ireland from an infestation of snakes, and he also made the shamrock extremely fashionable. For over 1,500 years now, the holiday has commemorated St. Patrick's death and has been treated as a religious holiday in the country ever since.

The official holiday

Despite its popularity as a religious holiday for all this time, St. Patrick's Day has only been celebrated officially by the country beginning in 1903. St. Patrick's Day usually occurs during Lent, and since most of Ireland is Catholic, the holiday was always celebrated in a somber mood with a number of quiet and reverent activities. That all changed during the 1960's, when a new law was passed in Ireland that opened up all pubs in the country, and that injected considerably more life into the celebrations.

Shamrock popularity

Supposedly, Saint Patrick made use of shamrocks (which are also known as clovers) in order to explain the concept of the Holy Trinity in the Catholic faith. The Celts had a firm belief that each leaf on a clover plant had a specific meaning, so Saint Patrick took advantage of this by using the shamrock as a teaching tool. He founded a number of churches, monasteries, and schools, and passed along his personal preference for shamrocks to many of these institutions.

Ridding Ireland of snakes

While this tradition has been handed down through the ages, biologists tell us that Ireland was never actually home to any snakes whatsoever. That leaves us with the conclusion that the snakes must have been a metaphor representing paganism, and it's this paganism which was really eliminated in the country by Saint Patrick.

St. Patrick's Heritage

Surprisingly, Saint Patrick himself was not really of Irish descent. He was actually British and his given name was Maewyn Succat. Legend has it that he was sold into slavery as a teenager, and at that point he became religious and managed to escape back to England. Then he became an ordained priest taking on the name of Patrick, and began his ministry by converting Irish Celtic pagans to a new belief in Christianity.

St. Patrick's Day parades

Many communities throughout the US observe St. Patrick's Day by staging a parade through town, and of course everyone wears their finest greens on that day, and some even manage to consume green-colored beer. You might be surprised to learn that all of the largest parades held to celebrate St. Patrick's Day occur outside Ireland. While parades are not as highly regarded within Ireland, they are definitely appreciated in a huge number of communities in this country and elsewhere around the world, where a number of Irish immigrants have concentrated.

Travel in Style, Class, and Comfort

When you're traveling to or from an airport, especially a really busy one like O'Hare Aiport in Chicago, it's very easy to run into a lot of traffic which can interfere with arriving on time, and which can degrade your experience on the trip. All that can be avoided by engaging the services of a luxury transport service like Second City Livery Service, where skilled chauffeurs can transport you to and from the airport in style, class, and comfort, so that instead of a hassle, your experience becomes one of enjoyment and satisfaction. Here's why traveling with Second City Livery Service will be your very best option when going to the airport, or coming away from it to go home or to your office.

The best travel experience

When you're willing to pay more than for just simple cab fare, you have a right to expect a bit more in the way of services and accommodations, and that's exactly what you get when you ride to the airport in one of our Executive Mercedes Sprinter Vans or one of our Executive Mini-Buses. Regardless of which transport mode you should choose, you can expect your airport ride to be totally comfortable, with plenty of legroom and comfortable seating, no matter how many other clients might be in the same van or mini-bus. Our mini-buses are several cuts above what you would ordinarily think of as a bus, since they are equipped with every kind of comfort that a passenger might want, and they are also modern, stylish vehicles which are the envy of the industry. If you were to be transported to the airport in a personal limousine, you could hardly have better accommodations than you would in either our Executive Mini-Buses or our Executive Mercedes Sprinter Vans. When you arrange for this kind of transportation, everyone is treated like an executive, and that means being pampered right from the moment you set foot in the vehicle, right up until you are dropped off at your destination.

Contact us

If you should have any questions about the services we provide, or if you'd like to arrange for pickup/dropoff at the airport on a specific date, please do contact us, either by calling or by visiting our website. We are confident that once you've traveled with us, you won't want to use any other transportation method in the Chicago area. We encourage you to read online reviews of our service, and we think you'll find that customers are universally satisfied with our service, which not only meets the needs of our clients, but most often also exceeds their expectations. Maybe you've tried other services and found them somewhat lacking, but when you use our transport service, we are confident that you'll love it the very first time, and that you'll want to use it again and again. We are ready and waiting to serve you in every way possible, so contact us at your earliest opportunity, and arrange for the most comfortable and most stylish transport service in the entire Second City region.

NBA All-Star Weekend 2020 - Chicago is Pumped!

The city of Chicago is buzzing about the upcoming NBA All-Star Weekend, when all the league's biggest and brightest stars will be in town, along with all the national media coverage typically attending such an event. As always, there are a number of high-profile events which have been scheduled, leading up to the 69th All-Star showcase game itself on Sunday. Anyone wishing to attend particular events would be well-advised to get their tickets early at this website, since there is bound to be a rush as the time of the game draws nearer.

Activities on Friday, Feb. 14th

The festivities kick off on Friday with a practice being held at noon for the NBA Rising Stars, which will feature many of the game's youngest new stars, and those who will be the future dominant players in the league. At 5:00 p.m. that same day there will be a formal announcement of the 2020 Hall of Fame class, with this year's inductees being identified. At 7:00 p.m. there will be an All-Star Celebrities game played, which will feature past heroes from the sport, as well as other well-known public figures who enjoy the sport and are lending their talents to the proceedings. At 9:00 p.m., the actual NBA Rising Stars game will be played, and everyone will get a glimpse of tomorrow's stars competing against each other.

Saturday, Feb. 15th

The fun starts at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday with an NBA All-Star practice, to be followed by Media Day in which players respond to questions posed by the media, and some typically light-hearted banter which usually takes place between players and media. At 7:00 p.m. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver will address the media on the state of the sport, and respond to any questions posed by media members. Afterward at 8:00 p.m., there will be the special event known as the Taco Bell Skills Challenge, where players will demonstrate some of the special talents they have acquired in pursuit of their NBA dream. Next, there will be a 3-point contest in which players will attempt to make as many 3-point baskets as possible to beat out the competition. Finally, there will be the perennial fan favorite, the Slam-Dunk Contest, in which players will showcase their ability to perform all kinds of acrobatic slam dunks that show off their athletic abilities.

The Big Day on Feb. 16th

Starting at 11:00 a.m., there will be a brunch held for the NBA Legends, and fans will have the opportunity to see some of the great players from bygone eras, all gathered in one place. The big game itself is scheduled to begin at 8:00 p.m. on Sunday evening, and that's when all the excitement comes to a climax. All the greatest players in the game today will be showing off their very best moves and their most athletic achievements for fans and for the cameras, so future players can be inspired, and so current fans can enjoy the sheer athleticism and sportsmanship of today's best basketball players.

Global Warming and the Effect of Wildfires

Unless you've been living in a cave for the last six months, you have undoubtedly heard about the unprecedented wildfires which have been consuming the Australian landscape and causing a wildlife kill-off unknown in all history. More than one billion animals are estimated to have perished in the raging wildfires, along with 25 humans, and more than 15 million acres of land. Those figures are from early January, and the totals since then are even higher and more impressive. So what's behind this unparalleled increase in wildfires? According to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, it's climate change which has been triggered by human behaviors. Humans have played a major role in the increase and severity of these wildfires, although they have not been responsible for triggering any greater numbers of them. Once started however, they are becoming far more destructive because the temperature is higher, there is less precipitation to counteract the fires, and the wildfire season has been extended as a result of the generally hot and dry conditions. This means that more wildfires are being generated, and that they are causing more damage when they happen.

Global warming impact

Since 1950, Southern Australia has seen an increase in temperature of 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, and that is one of the major culprits in making wildfires more numerous and more intense. In present-day Australia, the effects of continuing increases in temperature, along with a corresponding diminution of rainfall have had catastrophic results. In 2019, measurements for heat and precipitation set national records, as it was both the hottest and driest year ever recorded. December of last year was the second hottest month on record, and not coincidentally, that's when a number of the biggest and most intense wildfires were set off. Scientists are well aware that natural causes are not to blame, because there have not been any natural elements which have increased or gone out of control in the last century - only humans producing more carbon-trapping gases has been on the increase. That has made droughts which commonly occur in the country much worse and much longer, because they now occur in a setting which is much hotter and drier. With plant life drier from the more frequent droughts, they ignite much easier than before, and that means more wildfires.

Input from the global community

Virtually all scientists around the globe are unanimous in attributing Australia's wildfires to human-induced climate change, and that is a very scary prospect, because human influence has still not been checked, so all those forces are presumably still in effect and still on the increase. The Australian Commissioner of Fire and Rescue is adamant in declaring that climate change is the agent responsible for super-charging the risk for natural disasters, and is not optimistic about this being reversed anytime in the near future. U.S. scientists concur with that assessment, adding that human-caused climate change is a mechanism which acts as a multiplier to the existing threat of disaster, increasing it by several times its normal rate of risk. While some people are already engaged in trying to reduce this human-induced impact, it is already possible that a threshold has been reached which makes the effect irreversible.