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Here is the latest Illinois sports news from The Associated Press – WREX-TV

CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago White Sox have a rare opportunity to capture the spotlight and expand their fan base in a city in which they’re often overshadowed by their neighbors a few miles north. They’re in the playoffs for the second year in a row, a first for the charter American League franchise. They have their sights set on the World Series and a chance to cash in with young and vibrant stars. Chicago-based sports marketing executive Marc Ganis says the White Sox have a chance to increase local sponsorship, ticket sales, suite sales and other stadium revenue by 25% to 40% without having to cut into the Cubs’ fan base because of the size of the population. That hinges on their marketing and how far the team advances.

CHICAGO (AP) — Tony La Russa is back in the playoffs for the first time since he guided St. Louis to the 2011 World Series title. The Hall of Fame manager and the Chicago White Sox visit the Houston Astros for Game 1 of their AL Division Series on Thursday. It’s the first postseason matchup between the teams since Chicago swept the 2005 World Series — the last time it won a round in the playoffs. The White Sox are hoping La Russa’s experience will help the team put together a long October run after it was eliminated by Oakland in the first round of the 2020 playoffs.

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — The Miami Dolphins have traded wide receiver and returner Jakeem Grant to the Chicago Bears. Grant is going to the Bears in exchange for a sixth-round pick in the 2023 draft, according to a person who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the terms were not announced. Grant had primarily been a returner for the Dolphins this season. He had only two catches for minus-7 yards in the season’s first four games.

NEW YORK (AP) — Baseball’s postseason is returning to its pre-pandemic format a year after COVID-19 confined most of last October’s action to empty stadiums in neutral sites. Seeing and hearing fans is a welcome change for players who pushed through last year’s playoffs supplying their own energy on a stage normally powered by the buzz created by live audiences. If the end of this regular season is an indication, the ballparks will be packed this postseason.

UNDATED (AP) — No. 11 Michigan State is off to its fastest start since its 2015 playoff season thanks in part to the addition of 20 transfers. Football Bowl Subdivision rushing leader Kenneth Walker arrived from Wake Forest and has helped the Spartans take a giant step forward after going 2-5 last year. No. 4 Penn State is another unbeaten Big Ten team to bounce back from a losing season by getting big contributions from players who began their college careers elsewhere. Former Temple defensive end Arnold Ebiketie heads the list of transfers producing results for Penn State.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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