5 Questions with...The Score's Brian Hanley

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5 Questions with...The Score's Brian Hanley

By Jeff NuichCSN Chicago Senior Director of CommunicationsCSNChicago.com Contributor
April 21, 2010
Want to know more about your favorite Chicago media celebrities? CSNChicago.com has your fix as we put the citys 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 veteran sportswriter who has covered just about everything for the Chicago Sun-Times over the past quarter century he can be heard with his partner Mike Mulligan weekdays from 5:00-9:00 a.m. on WSCR AM 670 The Score as co-host of the popular Mully and Hanley Show here are 5 Questions with...BRIAN HANLEY!

BIO: (from the very words of Brian Hanley himself): I was born in 1960 on the west side of Chicago at the venerable St. Annes Hospital. My late, great dad, Bernard, and beautiful and selfless mom, Suzanne, raised nine children. My five brothers, three sisters and I grew up in Oak Park and River Forest, where I attended St. Lukes grammar school. My first newspaper job was an afternoon paper route delivering the late, great Chicago Daily News. My love of journalism grew while at Fenwick High School (Oak Park), from where I was graduated in 1978 as an Illinois State Scholar.

While at Marquette University, from where I was graduated with a journalism major and broadcast minor in 1982, I was an intern for the late, great Tim Weigel at WLS-TV. With Tims letter of recommendation, I was able to gain acceptance to the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, where I did graduate work.

I began my career at the Chicago Sun-Times in 1984, as a part-time editorial assistant, while also attending Medill. My first full-time beat came in 1988, when I was assigned to cover Illinois and the Big Ten. I was fortunate to chronicle the 1989 "Flying Illini" basketball team under coach Lou Henson, a Final Four squad. In my 24 years at the Sun-Times, my beats have spanned the Sox, Cubs, Blackhawks, Northwestern, and the Bulls.

Thanks to Seth Mason, Ron Gleason, and then-owner Dan Lee -- with a tip of the hat to sports talk radio pioneer Chet Coppock -- my Score career began with the stations creation. I shared afternoon drive duties with Terry Boers, the quickest wit I have known, and Dan McNeil.

My broadcast career was reignited in 2005 under the Score brain trust of Rod Zimmerman, Paul Agase and Mitch Rosen, all of whom has taken the station to its greatest heights. From the midday show to our move to morning drive, I have enjoyed great success due to the talents of my broadcast partner Mike Mulligan, executive producer Dustin Rhoades, and sound surgeons Rock Mamola and Chris Collins, now Score sports director. Of course, the constant that has continued to amaze me throughout these many years has been the loyalty, creativity, and absolute intelligence of our listeners who are the pillars of the Score.

1) CSNChicago.com: Brian, it's the busiest time of year for all of us in our biz, especially with BOTH the Blackhawks and the Bulls in the playoffs. Tell us specifically what you think each of these two teams needs to do to really make an impact against their first-round opponents?

Hanley: Let's deal with the Hawks first since they, unlike the Bulls, will actually be advancing to the second round. Now, I wasn't thinking this while I was sitting at the United Center frustrated with 22,000 other fans Friday watching Game 1, that third-period collapse and overall subpar performance was a great education for Coach Q's team. Nothing comes easy in the NHL playoffs. The performance Sunday showed the Hawks were a quick study. The Hawks were stronger on the puck, in the net and fought for space on the ice which is the golden ticket to advancing in the NHL postseason. Great move by Coach Q to reunite his blue-line pairing of Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith. This is no time to experiment. Go with what helped get you here: quality defense. The wild card from here out remains goalie Annti Niemi. Is the rookie going to be good enough to have the Hawks hoisting their first Stanley Cup since I was a 1-year-old? The guess here is -- say it with me Hawk -- "Yessss!"

As for the Bulls, head to the nearest church and light a candle. Even if you are not Catholic. Not the 50-cent candle either. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Throw a fiver in the money box and fire up the biggest ball of wax there. Or, better yet, send your money to the Berto Center to help pay Chris Bosh's max contract come July 1.

2) CSNChicago.com: Regarding the Bears, how much will having virtually no presence in the upcoming NFL Draft hurt this team going forward or do you think theyre fine with the moves they had to make last year to get their star QB?

Hanley: The Bears like to think they are a draft-driven team. I like to think I'm as good-looking as Brad Pitt. As my pic on this page proves, I am as delusional as Jerry Angelo, who still thinks using a second-round draft pick in 2007 on defensive end Dan Bazuin was a good idea. Look up Bazuin's statistics on nfl.com and you find this: This player does not have any statistics. No picks in the first two rounds only ensures less Bears big-money busts. As for Jay Cutler, he has to be better than last year. Then again, when I look in the mirror I now see George Clooney looking back at me.

3) CSNChicago.com: Chicago has some of the best sports bars in the nation. Tell us about your favorite local hangouts?

Hanley: I'm sure our city has a number of great sports watering holes. However, I have spent much of the last three decades traveling while covering the Cubs, Sox, Bears, Hawks, and Bulls and colleges. So if you are looking for places to bend an elbow from Vancouver to New York, Toronto to Phoenix, I got you covered.

Given my age -- the big 5-0 next month -- and my 2:30 a.m. wake-up each weekday, the closest I get to Chicago wee-hour nightlife is driving through River North on my way to the Score. Then again, you can often find Mully, me and our crack production staff sharing an end-of-the-work-week double-cheeseburger and a beer or three at the Billy Goat with fellow Chicago third-shifters around 10 a.m. on a Friday.

4) CSNChicago.com: As you well know, there is plenty of competition in morning radio in Chicago, but you and your partner Mike Mulligan continue to hold your own by delivering a solid show to Chicago sports fans each weekday morning. Outside of having a sports format, what do you think differentiates you and Mully from the rest of the pack out there?

Hanley: It starts with us being born and raised here. I truly believe in Chicago fans talking Chicago sports. We won't waste your time with why Rutgers football team is struggling. And while Mike squared down the dial are killing time wondering what Golic should give up for lent (just a thought: radio), my guy, Mike Mulligan, is taking our listeners behind the Halas Hall curtain.

Mully and I have a combined 50 years logged on different sports beats for the Sun-Times, the best sports section in town. We can put stories in context given the players, coaches and front-office types we have covered and share some humorous stories from those beats along the way.

Our executive producer Dustin Rhoades, who joined the team last summer, has elevated the show to new heights with great guests and segment ideas. He is simply the best in the business. Add in the smart and creative listeners we have come to know both on the air and in person at our Boys Nights and Days Out events and it is a winning, and fun, formula.

5) CSNChicago.com: Speaking of your partner, hes a Sox fan and youre a Cubs fan any wagers planned between you two once the crosstown series takes place this summer?

Hanley: Given the two teams' starts this season, we have decided to take that money and use it for group therapy sessions.

BONUS QUESTIONCSNChicago.com: Anything you want to promote Brian? Lets hear about it

Hanley: We would love to see everyone Friday, May 7, at Carmichael's Steak House, 1052 W. Monroe here in Chicago. We'll be hosting our third-annual Boys Night Out for the Kids. All proceeds benefit the great work being done at The Chicago Children's Advocacy Center and the dedicated people working to protect abused children. There will be sports stars from around town and great live and silent auction items, including tickets to Cubs and Sox games and plenty of sports memorabilia. You also might find me and fellow Cubs sicko Dustin Rhoades at The Cell this weekend heckling head case Milton Bradley, just for old times sake.

Hanley LINKS:

WSCR AM 670"Mully and Hanley" home page

E-mail "Mully and Hanley" at The SCORE

Kris Bryant’s MVP performance leads Cubs to comeback win at Dodger Stadium

Kris Bryant’s MVP performance leads Cubs to comeback win at Dodger Stadium

LOS ANGELES – The “MVP! MVP! MVP!” chants started at Dodger Stadium late Friday night, Cubs fans celebrating Kris Bryant’s two-run homer in the 10th inning and cheering on this entertaining comeback win.

Until Clayton Kershaw returns to full strength, stares down hitters from 60 feet, six inches and unleashes his entire arsenal, it’s impossible to know how the Cubs would stack up against Los Angeles in October. But it’s still safe to say this would be an epic playoff matchup between two big-market, star-studded franchises, with two iconic ballparks becoming the backdrop, celebrity row after celebrity row.

As a quiet homebody who happens to have his own billboards and marketing deals – but doesn’t do bulletin-board quotes or brag about his game – Bryant is not exactly a Hollywood personality. But this is also a goal-oriented individual who doesn’t shy away from the pressure and the expectations and absolutely wants to be the best at his craft.

The Cubs won this round with Bryant, who launched his 34th and 35th home runs in a 6-4 victory, an MVP-worthy season becoming the sequel to his Rookie of the Year campaign.

“It’s humbling,” Bryant said. “You grow up hearing that kind of stuff on TV. To experience it in real life is pretty cool.”

It became hard to hear Bryant inside the visiting clubhouse, because teammates chanted “MVP!” and sung along with Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre as “Nuthin But a G Thang” played on the sound system. But for most of the night, it looked like it would be a silent room postgame as the resilient Dodgers took 3-1 and 4-2 leads.

Until the eighth inning, when Bryant launched a home run off Joe Blanton that landed in the center-field seats blocked off for the batter’s eye. And then the ninth inning showed why manager Joe Maddon will want Gold Glove outfielder Jason Heyward in a playoff lineup.

In the middle of a frustrating offensive season where he’s felt the weight of a $184 million contract, Heyward led off by ripping a double into the right-field corner off Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen. Heyward hustled to third base when new Dodgers catcher Carlos Ruiz couldn’t handle strike three against Jorge Soler. Heyward ran home to score the game-tying run when a Jansen wild pitch sailed toward the backstop.

That set the stage for Bryant, who brought up the fielding error he made in the fifth inning during his postgame interview on Channel 7 after hitting the game-winning homer off lefty Adam Liberatore. All-Star first baseman Anthony Rizzo may set the tone in the clubhouse, but Bryant already brings tunnel vision and a high degree of professionalism to an 82-45 team, even at the age of 24. 

“He just doesn’t quit,” Heyward said. “He wants to be in every spot. He goes up there and has his at-bat – and that’s it.

“You can talk about why he’s been hitting the ball well, this and that, but he has a good approach. It’s that simple. Other than that, he works his tail off every day to try and go out there and help us win.

“When you have that gift – and you have that work ethic – the bottom line is a lot of good things can happen.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Cubs fans!]

A resourceful $250 million team won’t fade away, even with Kershaw (back) not pitching for two months, one of 27 players the Dodgers have stashed on the disabled list, tying a major-league record. Los Angeles has cycled through 14 different starting pitchers, relying on depth, a powerful lineup and a strong bullpen to surge into first place and hold onto a one-game lead over the San Francisco Giants in the National League West.

“How about last year?” Maddon said. “We beat up on the Mets during the season, we go (into the playoffs) and we can’t even touch them. It’s such a different animal. People get hot or people get cold.

“I’m not going to diminish the fact I’m going to be paying attention. But things change. Trends can be so trendy, to quote Yogi. So I don’t get too far ahead, because things can change very quickly.”

Like Bryant going from a promising player with a few holes in his swing who looked worn down at times last season – to an MVP frontrunner with a .303 average, 89 RBI, 107 runs scored, a .982 OPS and the versatility to play third base, defensively shift across the infield and move to the outfield.

Kershaw vs. Bryant would be must-see TV in October.

In the Gym at EFT: Wide receiver skill development

In the Gym at EFT: Wide receiver skill development

In the first edition of EFT Football Academy, TF North graduate Landon Cox, who was a star wide receiver at Northern Illinois and later in the NFL, shares some tips on how to become a better receiver and be more efficient on the field.

Cox is a Performance Specialist and wide receiver coach at EFT. In this segment Cox works on a few different techniques with Warren Township junior wide receiver Micah Jones.

EFT has evolved into the premier elite performance training facility in the Midwest, where every EFT football coach has NFL experience and the dedication to helping each player reach their potential. The EFT Football Academy is designed to assist in the development of grade school, high school, and collegiate football players.

Some of their off-season training experience includes 70+ active NFL athletes, six Super Bowl Champions, six Olympics, and more.

[MORE: High School Lites Football Roundup: Week 1]

In addition, performance includes explosive power development, positional movement pattern development, proper spring and change of direction mechanics, and more. Every EFT workout focuses on improving each athlete's overall abilities like speed development, agility and mobility, acceleration and deceleration, and strength and condition — just to name a few.

Former Bears wide receiver Devin Hester called it "the best workout in the world."

Watch Cox's tips in the video above, and be sure to look out for next week's edition on CSNChicago.com.

How Mike Montgomery fits into big-picture plans for Cubs

How Mike Montgomery fits into big-picture plans for Cubs

LOS ANGELES – In their never-ending search for young pitching, the Cubs discussed a Matt Moore deal with the Tampa Bay Rays, but wouldn’t consider trading Kyle Schwarber. To get Moore at the Aug. 1 deadline, the San Francisco Giants had to surrender the runner-up to Kris Bryant in last season’s National League Rookie of the Year race (Matt Duffy), plus two more prospects.

Moore finished one out short of a no-hitter on Thursday night at Dodger Stadium, throwing 133 pitches against a deep Los Angeles lineup, two-plus years after having Tommy John surgery on his left elbow. Whether or not Moore helps shift the balance of power in the National League West, the Cubs should still have enough pitching.

To get through October. As long as John Lackey (shoulder) comes off the disabled list in early September and the rest of the rotation stays healthy. Surviving next season and beyond could be a different story, if Jake Arrieta becomes another team’s 2018 Opening Day starter, if Jon Lester breaks down in the middle of that $155 million megadeal and assuming Lackey finally retires around the 3,000-inning mark.

All that makes Mike Montgomery an interesting lefty swingman if the Cubs are going to maintain The Foundation for Sustained Success.

“I think he is a major-league starter, regardless of what happens tonight,” manager Joe Maddon said before Friday’s wild 6-4 comeback win that took 10 innings at Dodger Stadium. “This guy has the ability to be a solid major-league starter based on his strength level, his delivery, the variety of pitches that he throws. The strike-throwing ability is exceptional. He’s got all those different things going on.

“Just be a little bit patient with (him) and let him get his feet on the ground somewhere, because he’s the kind of guy that can take off if he gets comfortable in his environment.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Cubs fans!]

If Montgomery didn’t ace this audition, he also didn’t bomb against a first-place team in front of a big crowd (48,609), either, showing the potential the Cubs saw in making last month’s trade with the Seattle Mariners.

Montgomery kept the Cubs in the game before Bryant’s clutch performance, allowing three runs in five innings and minimizing the damage on a night where he didn’t have pinpoint control (four walks, hit batter, wild pitch, 49 strikes across 91 pitches).

The Cubs are in trouble if Montgomery somehow winds up in this year’s playoff rotation, but he checks a lot of boxes for the future as someone with youth (27), size (6-foot-5), first-round/top-prospect pedigree, a high groundball rate and a service-time clock that won’t make him a free agent until after the 2021 season.