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Chicago a strong bet to finish, not to start

Handicapper Alex Smith is a Chicago native, but he won’t be on the Blackhawks today. However, he still likes them and the Boston Bruins to win their respective divisions and meet for a rematch in the Stanley Cup Finals.

MLB wild-card wizardry: Hamilton, Salazar could be key

Major league teams start spring training in February, grind through 162 games — or 163, for Texas and Tampa Bay — and if they’re lucky, reach the playoffs. For wild cards, it’s a chance to become a World Series champion. Or have a whole season’s worth of work wiped out in nine innings.

NFL betting: Houston backers get Schaub-ed

A stand-up comic searching for new material might want to look to the Houston Texans and their clumsy quarterback, Matt Schaub, whose latest football-throwing folly is worth a lot of laughs. “That was a joke,” said Nick Bogdanovich, William Hill sports book director. “That’s unbelievable.”

Oudin keeps cool to take Party Rock from Vandeweghe

It came down who could hold their emotions in check, and Melanie Oudin did a better job of staying under control than CoCo Vandeweghe in the finals of the $50,000 Party Rock Open on Sunday.

From athletic family, temper all her own

If you think returning one of CoCo Vandeweghe’s 117-mph first tennis services is a chore, try writing about her without mentioning her family.

Marlins’ Alvarez throws odd no-hitter vs Tigers

With the bases loaded, two outs and the score 0-0 in the bottom of the ninth, Henderson Alvarez stood in the Miami Marlins’ on-deck circle, bat in hand, hoping to complete his no-hitter.

Coulter dodges tragedy, aids those who couldn’t

This is a story that begins on Easter Sunday, 1991. On that day, Darrell Gwynn, the popular NHRA drag racer from Florida, was doing exhibition runs in England when his Top Fuel dragster spun out of control and slammed into the wall at 240 mph.

Peters roars out of restart to win LVMS trucks race

It was clear early on Saturday that Timothy Peters had a strong truck, but few realized just how good it was until the race was nearly over.

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