Green awaits June 19 court date

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Green awaits June 19 court date

It has been almost 17 years since her son was sent to prison for a crime that the key witness in the case has since testified he didn't commit. But Helen Boatner remains cheerful and optimistic as she awaits the latest court date that could trigger his release.

Yarmo Green was an outstanding football player at Mather High School. A running back, he had the size, speed, talent and potential to earn a scholarship to a major college. He was an All-Chicago Public League selection as a junior in 1994. He led his team to an 11-3 record and second place in the city playoff. He dreamed of playing at Notre Dame and the NFL.

In 1995, he was convicted of attempted first-degree murder of one person and aggravated battery of another. He was sentenced to 40 years in prison.

On June 19, a judge will rule on Green's latest appeal based on recent testimony by a key witness in the case, a married woman with five children who currently is in jail for retail theft, who recanted her original testimony and now insists that Green wasn't present when the beatings took place and that a Chicago policeman had paid her 2,200 to lie about the matter.

The judge could order Green's immediate release. His scheduled release day is 2014. This is his 10th appeal. He currently is imprisoned in Logan Correctional Center in Lincoln, Illinois, after serving previously in Pontiac, Danville and Pinckneyville. He still signs his letters as No. 42, his football uniform number. But he answers to B71883.

"He is doing fine. We hope and pray that his last court day is June 19," his mother said. "They put (the key witness) on the stand a few weeks ago and she told everything. She was reluctant. But she said a policeman had paid her to tell lies about Yarmo. I have a feeling that the judge will let him go."

Green, now 35, calls his mother every week. He earned his General Equivalency Degree (GED), was taking a culinary arts class to learn to become a cook and was involved in a ceramics class. However, because of budget cutbacks over the last five years, he hasn't been able to sign up for any more classes. At Logan, he does participate in basketball tournaments.

"I don't know what he wants to do when he comes back," his mother said. "I told him I would like for him to get involved with neighborhood kids and teach them football. Kids in the city don't have anywhere to go. They have no money. Yarmo could be a mentor to them."

Mrs. Boatner remains busy. She will be 65 in August. For seven hours every day, she babysits for two one-year-old boys. One is a neighbor's grandson. The other is her granddaughter's cousin. "They were born 12 days apart. They are in their terrible ones," she said.

While she no longer can make the long trips Downstate to visit her son, she attends every one of his court dates in Chicago. She is so appreciative and grateful for the work of attorney Liz Wang, who has spearheaded a group called the Exoneration Project that is working on Green's release.

"It is such shame, a waste," said Ed Miller, Green's coach at Mather. "I believe he is a good kid. We did everything we could to help him. But you can't be with a kid for 24 hours a day. He just couldn't get away from the gangs."

Green wasn't an angel. He was a member of the Maniac Latin Disciples street gang. Police perceived him as a neighborhood bully. He admits he once hit a kid who was spray-painting a wall.

But he always has insisted that he didn't hit the victim, whom he claimed was laying on the ground after being attacked by others. Forty-eight hours later, after the key witness told police that Green was the attacker, he was arrested at his home.

The key witness originally recanted in a signed affidavit on May 14, 2008, but the appeal was turned down. She said she did what the police told her to do because she was a runaway from the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), a ward of the state. She said she didn't want to be locked up and lose her children.

In her recent testimony, she said she could no longer live with her original accusation that sent Green to jail. "I basically wanted everyone to know it was a lie, that he didn't do it," she said.

Now, in the wake of her recantation in court, Yarmo Green hopes to become a free man on June 19. His mother is counting the hours.

John Lackey has been exactly what Cubs needed

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John Lackey has been exactly what Cubs needed

Admit it, Cubs fans, part of you didn’t like the John Lackey deal, not after watching him pitch for the St. Louis Cardinals and hearing about his reputation with the Boston Red Sox. 

Or at least Cubs Twitter didn’t automatically hail this as another genius move for Theo Epstein’s front office when Lackey’s two-year, $32 million agreement leaked before the winter meetings even started at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee. 

But Lackey has been exactly what the Cubs needed, a snarling personality on the mound and a stabilizing presence in the middle of their rotation. Plus that big-game experience should come in handy for a team that will wake up on Memorial Day with the best record in baseball (34-14). 

Lackey shut down the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday afternoon at Wrigley Field, throwing seven innings in a 7-2 victory that completed a three-game sweep of a big-market team in the early stages of a full-scale rebuild. 

There really wasn’t much suspense for the holiday-weekend crowd of 41,575. Lackey (5-2, 3.16 ERA) had a seven-run lead with two outs in the seventh inning when he gave up his first and only run – a homer to Tyler Goeddel – and that now makes him 8-for-10 in quality starts in a Cubs uniform. 

Just look at how much the Cardinals have missed Lackey’s ability to eat up innings, beginning Sunday with a 4.48 rotation ERA that ranked 11th out of the National League’s 15 teams and now falling 9.5 games behind the Cubs in the division. 

White Sox bullpen falters again as Royals complete sweep

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White Sox bullpen falters again as Royals complete sweep

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Welcome to Kansas City, where all the impossibly bad things that could happen to the White Sox seem to materialize.

The White Sox bullpen coughed up a lead for a third consecutive game on Sunday afternoon and a miserable losing streak reached six games with a 5-4 loss to the Kansas City Royals in front of 36,624 at Kauffman Stadium.

Chris Sale was in line for his 10th win in 11 tries until the Royals rallied for three eighth-inning runs against Nate Jones and Matt Albers.

Instead of achieving what would have been a defining sweep of Kansas City, the White Sox were swept and head to New York with no answers on how to rediscover the winning ways that led them to victories in 23 of their first 33 games. The bullpen allowed 14 runs during the three-game sweep.

Just as they had on the previous two days, Kansas City’s bats woke up late Sunday.

After scoring six times in their final three at-bats on Friday and an improbable seven more in a ninth-inning rally on Saturday, they immediately put pressure on Jones, who allowed a run Friday.

Trailing by two, Lorenzo Cain brought the crowd to life with an opposite-field solo homer on a 3-2 pitch from Jones, a booming shot to make it 4-3. Eric Hosmer then scooted a 2-2 slider down the left-field line for a double. Jones walked Kendrys Morales and Paulo Orlando singled to load the bases. Brett Eibner walked to force in the tying run and Cheslor Cuthbert’s infield single off Albers put the Royals ahead.

Another stunning failure by the bullpen snuffed out a stopper-esque start by Chris Sale, who had the White Sox in position to end their streak.

Sale’s defense did its part to help out early.

What could have been a disastrous first inning ended with a spectacular double play by Austin Jackson. Jackson — who later exited the game with an undisclosed injury — raced back to make an over-the-head grab to rob Morales and then fired a strike to Tyler Saladino, whose perfect relay throw to first doubled off Hosmer. Earlier in the inning, Saladino ranged far to his left and fired to first to retire Alcides Escobar.

Melky Cabrera also turned in a gem in the second inning, throwing out Eibner as he tried to stretch a single into a double. Finally, Adam Eaton made his glove’s presence felt with a sliding grab to rob Whit Merrifield to end the third.

Those contributions helped Sale navigate some difficult waters against a team that has challenged him the past few seasons. Despite a 2.84 career ERA, Sale entered the start with a 7-9 mark against the Royals. He certainly looked as if he were headed for a 10th defeat in the first inning when Merrifield singled and the Royals capitalized on a dropped pop up by Jose Abreu as he slammed into the dugout railing. With new life, Cain ripped the next Sale pitch to deep center for an RBI double and he scored on Hosmer’s RBI single to make it 2-0.

The team’s most consistent force all season, Sale pitched out of big jams in the fourth and seventh innings, the latter coming with him at the 115-pitch mark.

Whereas some of his rotation mates have struggled, the lineup has experienced slumbers and the bullpen has had issues for the past three weeks, Sale has continued to deliver consistency in all but one start.

Sale allowed two earned runs and seven hits with two walks and seven strikeouts in seven innings. He threw strikes on 80 of 118 pitches.

Though the White Sox offense didn’t get a ton of early results, they made Edinson Volquez work.

The Sox pushed through for a second-inning run on three straight singles by Abreu, Brett Lawrie and Dioner Navarro.

Trailing 2-1 in the fifth, Avisail Garcia sparked a go-ahead rally with a one-out walk. Saladino doubled to put two in scoring position. Eaton tied it with an RBI groundout and Jackson’s two-out single put the White Sox up by a run. Jackson’s seventh-inning, bases-loaded sac fly gave Sale and the White Sox breathing room as he made it 4-2. Had it not been for a spectacular diving grab by Orlando, Jackson may have had extra bases. 

Joe Maddon on Dodgers' laser show: 'They can put bull's-eyes out there'

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Joe Maddon on Dodgers' laser show: 'They can put bull's-eyes out there'

Joe Maddon checks the websites for the New York Post and Daily News as part of his morning routine, so the Cubs manager had seen how the city’s tabloids covered the latest incident involving Major League Baseball’s endless fascination with technology and obsession in finding even a 1-percent competitive advantage. 

“Mets accuse Dodgers of cheating with lasers,” read one digital headline from the Post, a follow-up angle to Saturday’s Fox Sports report that the Mets contacted MLB about the Dodgers using a laser rangefinder to position their outfielders and requesting to put markers on the Citi Field grass.

The Mets-said, Dodgers-said stories would be overshadowed that night by Noah Syndergaard getting ejected for throwing a 99-mph fastball behind Chase Utley as payback for the takeout slide that knocked Ruben Tejada out of last year’s playoffs. 

But instead of becoming paranoid, Maddon will maintain his laissez-faire attitude on Memorial Day when Los Angeles begins a four-game series at Wrigley Field that won’t feature Clayton Kershaw.  

“If they’re putting markers on the field, that doesn’t bother me,” Maddon said Sunday. “They can put bull’s-eyes out there. I don’t care. It doesn’t really matter. There’s other ways to do exactly the same thing without that method of technology just by preparation before the game. 

“So when you read something like that, to me, it’s a little bit overblown, regarding both its importance and the fact that you should not permit somebody to do it. It really doesn’t matter, because there’s other ways to do exactly the same things without using a laser.”    

The Cubs lucked out when the Dodgers lured Andrew Friedman away from Tampa Bay to run baseball operations after the 2014 season, triggering an escape clause in Maddon’s below-market contract with the Rays.

Depending on your viewpoint, the Dodgers are either a cutting-edge organization flush with intellectual capital, or a cluttered franchise that leads the league in inflated titles and too many cooks in the kitchen.  

Beyond Friedman at the president’s level and an ownership group that includes Magic Johnson, there’s a heavy-hitter CEO (Stan Kasten), an MIT-/Cal-Berkeley-educated general manager (Farhan Zaidi) and a cabinet of advisors filled with former GMs (Josh Byrnes, Alex Anthopoulos, Gerry Hunsicker, Ned Colletti).  

“Most of the defenses are being set up today more in a generic sense,” Maddon said. “Whatever you think in your group, if you’re the Dodgers or the Cubs or whatever, just go ahead and do it. And if you had to put a mark on the field to indicate that, I have no problem with it.”

Run prevention became a top priority for the small-market Rays, who couldn’t afford big-name, top-of-the-market free-agent hitters. The Cubs and Dodgers are now ranked first and second in the majors in defensive efficiency. FanGraphs ranked those two teams second and third in Defensive Runs Saved. 

As much as Maddon listened to Friedman’s Wall Street insights and embraced Big Data, he had already applied some of those concepts in rudimentary ways during his 30-plus years in the Angels organization.  

“I used to be in charge of setting up defenses with the Angels,” Maddon said. “I would go out before the first game of a series and I would stand in my spot in the dugout – and I would have somebody go stand at each position – and I would find out where straight-up was.

“I’d stand in that corner – and then you would go stand at third base straight-up, shortstop straight-up. I would put a marker behind you – like a sign on the wall or whatever – that would indicate to me where you’re standing straight-up. So I could move you to the pull (side) three or four steps, or to the soft side three or four steps.” 

In the end, Maddon doesn’t care what the Dodgers do with their Department of Lasers. 

“They’re going to attempt to utilize all of that,” Maddon said. “I really like the idea of utilizing that stuff just to chart initially, to be able to use GPS (and) try to be really exact where the ball is hit. So then when you compile your information, you’re not getting negative noise. 

“We used to do the thing where you had a book in the dugout and you had different colored pencils and somebody would draw a line (to) where the ball is hit.

“(Now) you’re getting actual results. You know this is true. The dot is there. The dot is accurate.”