5 Questions with...Sun-Times' Mary Mitchell

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5 Questions with...Sun-Times' Mary Mitchell

By Jeff Nuich
CSN Chicago Senior Director of CommunicationsCSNChicago.com Contributor

March 31, 2010

Want to know more about your favorite Chicago media celebrities? CSNChicago.com has your fix as we put the most popular personalities on the spot with everyones favorite weekly local celeb feature entitled 5 Questions with...

Every Wednesday exclusively on CSNChicago.com, its our turn to grill the local media and other local VIPs with five random sports and non-sports related questions that will definitely be of interest to old and new fans alike.

This week...one of the most esteemed newspaper columnists in the nation whose award-winning work appears three times a week in the Chicago Sun-Times and is syndicated nationallyshe has been called THE voice for many Chicagoans who are never heard and has brought light to social issues in the inner city the average citizen doesnt even think aboutshe is a fighter and a championhere are 5 Questions withMARY MITCHELL!

BIO: Mary A. Mitchell is an editorial board member and columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times. She is a recipient of numerous journalism awards, including the prestigious Award of Excellence from the National Association of Black Journalists; the Studs Terkel Award from the Community Media Workshop; the Peter Lisagor Award from the Chicago Headliner Club; the Phenomenal Woman Award-Media from the Expo for Today's Black Woman; and the Humanitarian Award from the 100 Black Men of Chicago. In 2004, Crain's Chicago Business honored Mitchell as one of the 100 Most Influential Women in the city.

Mitchell earned a B.A. in Journalism at Columbia College Chicago. She joined the Chicago Sun-Times as an education writer in 1991, and has covered City Hall and the U.S. Federal Courts.

Community violence, sexual abuse of minors, the HIVAIDS epidemic in African-American neighborhoods, and racial attitudes in Chicago has inspired Mitchell to tackle these controversial subjects even when community leaders are silent.

Mitchell has been called "courageous" and "compassionate" by readers who trust her to give them a voice on issues ranging from police misconduct to the tragedy of Black-on-Black violence.

She is also an advocate for women.

As a news reporter, Mitchell exposed the sexual abuse of women in Illinois prisons. Those articles prompted the Illinois General Assembly to strengthen laws prohibiting prison guards from engaging in sex with inmates.

Today, Mitchell writes about a variety of topics, but her work often rallies African-American readers to empower their communities by promoting education and by protecting the most vulnerable members of our society-our children and our elderly.

Her column appears on Tuesday, Thursdays and Sundays and is distributed throughout the Midwest by United Media. Mitchell is also a frequent guest panelist on WTTW's Week in Review, and has appeared on national news programs, including, FOX-TV and The O'Reilly Factor.

1) CSNChicago.com: Mary, the recent signing of the much-debated health care bill on Capitol Hill seems to have created a deep divide not only among political party lines, but among U.S. citizens as well. What would you consider to be the single biggest hurdle going forward for the Obama administration to get everyone on the same pageor do you think this will always have controversy attached to it from here on out?

Mitchell: The deep divide has always existed between political parties and has broadened since the election of President Barack Obama. But I dont believe healthcare reform is the culprit. A lot of people are angry about their own financial situation, and do not feel that they are getting ahead. When that happens, people have to blame someone. Unfortunately, it is almost a sport in this country to blame the government.

2) CSNChicago.com: You have been a champion in your cause to continually raise awareness about gun violence in the inner city of Chicago. In your opinion, are city officials doing enough in your estimation to not only address this tragic issue, which has seen the loss of life for so many innocent children, but put steps in place to end it?

Mitchell: From supporting gun-control and anti-loitering laws to sponsoring after-school programs and safe havens, the Daley administration has tried to address the on-going violence that takes place in predominantly minority neighborhoods. But the truth of the matter is government does not have the resources needed to provide the level of part-time jobs and recreation required to keep vulnerable teens out of harms way. That the Chicago Board of Education is now trying to address this issue is an encouraging sign. But the families that live in these neighborhoods, private industry, churches and non-profits will have to step up as well.

3) CSNChicago.com: Outside of Michael Jordan, tell us who you think is the greatest athlete in Chicago sports history and why?

Mitchell: Are you kidding? If you remove Michael Jordan, then you are left with the Super Bowl Bears, right? I did buy my grandson an autographed photograph of Walter Payton, which I framed and hung up in his bedroom. Im not much of a sports fan, but if Michaels off-limits, the next best has to be Walter.

4) CSNChicago.com: Youve been honored countless times for your brilliant columns and overall body of work over the years. What columnists do you consider to be the best in your industry?

Mitchell: Right now, I am in love with Garrison Keillor.

5) CSNChicago.com: Your battle and eventual victory against breast cancer is something thousands of women and families across the country are dealing with at this very moment. How is everything going for you today and, a follow-up question, whats the single biggest bit of advice do you have for women out there who are scared to get a mammogram?

Mitchell: Im now officially a one-year cancer survivor, and honestly, I am beginning to feel like myself again. Had I not gotten regular mammograms, I probably would not be here today. My hair is growing back, and Im thinking about my health in a positive way (including actually getting my butt on a treadmill). For those women who have put off getting a mammogram and are afraid of the outcome, dont sweat it. The thought of what could be wrong is always worst than what actually is.

Mitchell LINKS:

Chicago Sun-TimesMary Mitchell columns

Chicago Sun-TimesMary Mitchell blog

Mary Mitchell on Facebook

Cubs offense mostly quiet as bullpen blows late lead

Cubs offense mostly quiet as bullpen blows late lead

The Cubs offense had a quiet Saturday afternoon just 24 hours after putting 12 runs on the board against the Seattle Mariners in Game 1.

The Cubs only recorded three hits in their 4-1 loss to the Mariners on Saturday at Wrigley Field. 

The story for most of the game was Mariners pitcher Wade Miley, who carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning before it was broken up by Kris Bryant.

“He was painting that outside edge pretty well," said Cubs manager Joe Maddon. "Honestly from the first batter when Dexter (Fowler) takes two fastballs for a strike and then swings at a slider, something’s going on for me. That told me the guy was on. He was.”

Bryant added, "He was throwing right where he wanted to I thought. He was just hitting the catcher’s glove. Working quick, that kind of goes unnoticed sometimes, but as hitters, it kind of keeps you out of your rhythm.”

It was the second time this week the Cubs allowed a no-hitter through at least five innings.

White Sox pitcher Anthony Ranaudo took a no-hitter into the sixth inning on Wednesday before the Cubs poured it on and finished the game with eight runs.

Lost in the no-hitter was Arrieta, who had one of the best outings of the season. But the Cubs had nothing to show for it, losing their fifth straight game when the NL Cy Young Award winner takes the mound.

Arrieta finished the game allowing two runs on two hits and three walks, striking out four in seven innings.

After a scoreless six innings of play, the Cubs drew first blood in the seventh. Fowler opened with a leadoff walk. Bryant broke up the no-hitter with a single. Following a Ben Zobrist bunt that advanced the runners, Javier Baez hit a grounder to third. Fowler tried to score and was thrown out at the plate. But after a second look, Joe Maddon challenged the call and it was reversed, giving the Cubs a 1-0 lead.

A couple batters later, Miley attempted to pick off Baez — who reached on a fielder’s choice — but Bryant stole home in the process. First baseman Adam Lind quickly relayed the throw over to catcher Mike Zunino, and Bryant appeared to slide under the tag. After being ruled safe, the Mariners won a challenge of their own and the call was overturned.

"That stunk," Bryant said. "I thought I had a good slide in there. Obviously looking back on it, I could have slid head first but that's one way to really get hurt. I thought I had my foot in there, but obviously (after) the replay, they overturned it."

In the eighth, the Mariners responded. Arrieta walked the first two batters and was relieved by Hector Rondon, who retired both batters he faced. Aroldis Chapman entered the game to try to get the final out of the inning. That happened, but not before the Mariners added three runs. A double by Leonys Martin scored two. Martin later stole third and scored on a wild pitch, making it 3-1.

"Didn’t see that one coming," Maddon said of Seattle's three-run eighth. "Just didn’t see that one coming."

The Mariners added another run in the ninth.

Slugger Anthony Rizzo didn't start, getting a day off to rest, but he came in to pinch hit for Chapman in the eighth, striking out. Willson Contreras started at first in Rizzo's place.

For Willie Young, Bears contract extension more than just a simple business transaction

For Willie Young, Bears contract extension more than just a simple business transaction

BOURBONNAIS — Sometimes football is just a business. Sometimes it’s that and a lot more.

For Willie Young, the business side was taken care of late Friday night when the Bears added two years to his contract, projecting him as a Bear through the 2018 season.

The emotional side was still being taken care of on Saturday, when a former seventh-round draft choice was able to step back and realize what effectively a third NFL contract means to someone who was passed over time after time in the draft and never expected to be much.

“I’m slightly speechless right now but excited,” said Young, someone rarely at a loss for words.

“It means a lot,” Young said after a long pause, reflecting on how seventh-round picks rarely even make teams. “All the teams that passed me over ... My big thing is who I am and what the name on my back stands for.”

[MORE: Bears sign Willie Young to two-year contract extension]

Young was able to call his family and give them the news, “We’re going to be in Chicago a little while longer.”

Just as his entry into the league was shaky, his tenure in Chicago was seldom secure before this weekend.

When Young signed with the Bears in the 2014 offseason, leaving the Detroit Lions, he did so assuming that he was coming in as a starting defensive end. That changed when the Bears landed Jared Allen to position opposite Lamarr Houston. That season ended nevertheless with Young leading the Bears in sacks (10) before suffering a torn Achilles late in the season.

Allen was traded away last season, giving Young a job opportunity as he was coming back from Achilles surgery. Trouble was, the defense Young was returning to had changed completely, and Young was now a linebacker, now with coverage responsibilities and playing in situations.

Despite that second major change from what he’d expected, Young still managed 6.5 sacks, second on the Bears. That, combined with his work through the offseason to date, convinced the Bears that he was more of a fit than even he perhaps thought once upon a time.

[SHOP: Gear up for the 2016 season, Bears fans!

The result was a two-year contract extension agreed to late Friday night and added to the final year (2016) Young had from his initial Bears contract which locked him up only through the end of this season.

“It feels good to reward somebody that’s worked as hard as he’s worked and overcome the injury last year, and the leader that he is out there mentoring our younger players,” said GM Ryan Pace. “I feel really good about it. It’s good for our locker room, it’s good for our team.”

Where he once struggled to fit in – and was not reluctant to say so – Young now is securely ensconced as one of the starting outside linebackers in the Bears’ 3-4 scheme. When the Bears go to a 4-3 in nickel situations, Young lines up as the defensive end he had been for his career.

“There’s not a big difference [between 3-4 linebacker and 4-3 end],” said coach John Fox. “I think that [‘don’t call me a linebacker!’] was a little tongue-in-cheek. Some guys up to a point have had their hand on the ground, it’s a little bit of an adjustment. But there’s way more carryover They are involved in coverage a little bit more but I think he’s adapted to it quite nicely actually.”

Coach K, on Chicago welcoming back Tom Thibodeau: 'I'm proud of my city for doing that'

Coach K, on Chicago welcoming back Tom Thibodeau: 'I'm proud of my city for doing that'

Tom Thibodeau made his long-awaited return to the United Center on Friday, and the reception he received from the Chicago crowd pleased USA Basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski.

Thibodeau, who's been an assistant with USA Basketball since 2013, was the first coach introduced before the team's matchup against Venezuela and received considerable applause from the sellout crowd. It was Thibodeau's first visit back to Chicago in a coaching capacity since he was fired as the Bulls head coach following the 2014-15 season.

Both Krzyzewski and Jimmy Butler, who spoke at the podium following USA's 80-45 victory, were asked about the reaction from the crowd. Krzyzewski, a Chicago native, took the question and fired off a 90-second response about how the warm reception was warranted and how pleased he was to hear it.

He even joked that he and assistants Jim Boeheim and Monty Williams paid 5,000 fans to cheer when Thibodeau, now the head coach of the Timberwolves, was introduced.

"(Chicago's) an amazing sports town, loves its athletes and its coaches, and they should love Tom. Tom brought great basketball (to Chicago) when it was not going well," Krzyzewski said. "And then really injury-wise...especially with Derrick (Rose), if he had been healthy there could have been another (NBA championship) banner or two here. And the fans realize that."

Thibodeau arrived in Chicago in 2010, coaching a Bulls team that had advanced to the playoffs the previous season for the first time since 1998. He coached the Bulls to a 255-139 record in five seasons and won 23 playoff games. His team advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2011, the same year the Bulls won 62 games and Thibodeau was named NBA Coach of the Year.

[MORE: Why Jimmy Butler wanted Dwyane Wade to sign with the Bulls]

In that five-year span Rose, who was named the league's youngest MVP in 2011, missed 213 of a possible 394 games, and the team dealt with myriad injuries to key players in Jimmy Butler, Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol. Irreconcilable differences within the front office led to Thibodaeu's dismissal, but Thibodeau said Thursday that he was grateful for the eperiences he had during this time in Chicago.

And Krzyzewski reiterated how pleased he was that the fans understood the successes Thibodeau acheived.

"He’s the best, as far as preparation and team player and whatever, and the fans appreciate that," Krzyzewski said. "It was great. I love the fact that my town gave the guy who gave them his heart and soul for the number of years he’s been here and acknowledged that. That’s a great thing. I’m proud of my city for doing that."