May I...Get You Another?

May I...Get You Another?

Friday, May 7, 2010
1:28 AM

Why not? I have plenty to serve up, here behind the bar, and in the world of sports.

HAWKY TALK: Now thats more like it. After a maddeningly inconsistent second half of the season and beginning of the playoffs, the Hawks finally showed us what we were hoping for. During the season, they played what would be considered more of a finesse game. Their talent advantage over most of the league allowed them to accumulate 112 points and the 2 seed in the West. As we know, the playoffs are going to require a little more. Thats why I was surprised in the last series against Nashville that the players actually openly talked about a lack of effort after one dismal loss. What? The Cup is on the line and you cant get up for it? Anyway, the 3 wins to end the series had obviously snapped them out of their funk, right? Then there was Game 1, against the Canucks, here we go again! The response has been two straight wins, but I still feel some uneasiness at the bar. The win in Game 3 though, is what it is all about in the Stanley Cup playoffs. On the road, in a very hostile environment, they brought their A-game. Neimi was huge early with some big stops. Then they drove the net and got into Luongos face, led buy Big Buff and his three goals. They played physical, but disciplined. As much as their turn the other cheek style of play would frustrate me during the regular season, its paying dividends now, as they are playing tough enough to frustrate the Canucks, but not taking stupid penalties in the process. (That is if you discount ANOTHER too many men on the ice infraction!) Were a long way from being done, but if they continue to put up the EFFORT that they showed on Wednesday night, I really like their chances to get where we all expect them to end up.

CUBBIE BLUE: What to make of the Cubs? Are they who we thought they were? 29 games does not a season make, but with close to 20 of it gone, you would think we would have an idea of what this team is about. Every year has hot starters who fade, and slow-pokes who catch fire. Does this Cub team strike you as one that is going to contend? The holes in the bullpen are still there. Does anyone believe a rotation featuring Gorzelanny and Silva is destined for greatness? And their ability to strand runners, almost 8 a game, is second most on the league and a cause for heartburn on a daily basis.

For me, 2 obvious things have to change. One, theres no way Lee and Ramirez can continue to hit this bad can they? Ramirez especially looks like hes in a fog, does he strike out every other at bat, or is that just me? Two, does this team seem like it has any energy? Excuse me, positive energy? It looked like they were about to turn it around when they ended their last home-stand with 3 straight wins over the D-Backs. Off to Pittsburgh and more wins in front of crowds of dozens, right? Oops! How do you get swept by the Pirates? Honestly! Closing out the series with a 11-1 loss to somebody named Brian Burres? My Roto league is NL only and I have never heard of the guy!! I wont even talk about losing to Charlie Morton and his 10.30 ERA. Of course that was after the 12.57 he brought into the game, and lasted until the seventh inning!! Theres 21 more weeks to go and if the sense of urgency on the field isnt cranked up soon, the summer could be over before it even starts.

BULL SEARCH: Honestly! This search has been going on for over TWO years and we have to listen to names like Phil Jackson and John Calipari being bandied about? Jackson will NEVER coach this team. Why are people wasting their time with even thinking it could happen? Calipari? Hes a college coach. He would be great if the Bulls want to manipulate the recruiting process and want to have seasons vacated after he leaves for another job. He had a shot at the NBA 15 years ago. He lasted 2 and part of a third season before he ran back to the college ranks. Is what the Bulls need is another guy who needs to learn on the job? (The league hasnt changed much in 12 years, has it?) Then again, if he brings LeBron with him, through his friendship with James and D-Roses agent Leon Rose, why not? I could probably coach those two together. Still, I believe what they need is someone with NBA head-coaching experience. Many, many names on that carousel, I know, and it pains me to type it. But a firm knowledge of coaching at the NBA level is whats needed now. Ill throw out the names: Van Gundy, Johnson, McHale and Cheeks as those that I would like to see get a shot.

HART AND SOUL: A great moment for yours truly when I found out that HBO was doing a documentary on the favorite team of my youth, The Broad Street Bullies. I was kind of surprised, being that their run ended over 34 years ago, still they were a team that changed hockey forever. For good or bad is up to debate. Getting to watch it on Tuesday was great. It brought back a flood of memories and rekindled many of the feelings I had for that team. In fact, I was soon in a E-Bay and Amazon frenzy later that night buying any item related to them. (Cant wait to see that bill! But you cant put a price on joyous memories!) I loved that they showed the team for what they were, or at least what the perception was. They reveled in their reputation, that was the point. But to have the success that they did, consecutive Stanley Cups, you have to have more than goons. Phil Esposito said as much, but I felt that part was glossed over. They were a very physical team that realized that physicality gave them an edge over any team that they played. In the end though, you still have to put the puck in to the net more than the other team, either by scoring a lot, which they did, or having Bernie Parent stand on his head for two years, which he did!

As much as it brought back a bunch of feelings, it also left me confused that HBO, who does an excellent job with just about every other documentary Ive ever watched, (The Bird-Magic one was awesome!) would miss a big reason for why that team was as loved in Philly as it was, and that was Hockey Hall of Famer, announcer Gene Hart. Hart was the voice of the team from their inception, staying 29 years until the end of the 1994-1995 season. For a city new to the sport, he was our fountain of information. As is any home-team announcer, he was our connection to the team. He lived and died with us. All while maintaining a level of excellence and professionalism that few I have listened to have ever matched. He loved two things: Hockey, and anyone who loved hockey. I can not fathom anyone telling the story of those Cup winning teams without also telling his. He was as much as part of what the Flyers did, and mean, as owner Ed Snider, coach Fred Shero and the stars and team leaders, Bobby Clarke and Bernie Parent.

What that team had was a passion to win and it did whatever it took to do so. The city of Philadelphia had a passion for that team that bordered on psychotic.

And the man that brought that team into our homes, on TV and radio, was a man that shared that passion with us. To us, he was hockey. Im stunned that HBO did not pick up on that connection.

Oh, and the items I purchased the other night? Of course the first thing was SCORE! My Twenty-five Years with the Broad Street Bullies, by Gene Hart. Even though hes no longer with us I cant wait to hear his voice again.

In honor of Gene, Ill leave you with his signoff, the last words he spoke on all of his broadcasts, you might like it: Good night and good hockey!

Feeding off 'good karma,' Cubs believe everything happens for a reason

Feeding off 'good karma,' Cubs believe everything happens for a reason

LOS ANGELES - Ben Zobrist leaned to Matt Szczur and asked, "Hey, what do you got for me?"

Everybody wants a piece of Szczur's "good karma" right now.

And why not?

Anthony Rizzo breaks his bat in the ninth inning of Game 3 of the National League Championship Series. Then he strikes out twice to begin Game 4 and decides to switch to Matt Szczur's bat.

Boom: Home run and just like that, Rizzo is out of his postseason funk.

Addison Russell forgets his leggings. No matter. Szczur has some Russell can wear.

Boom: Two big home runs and just like that, Russell came to life and lifted the Cubs to two key victories.

Just as importantly, Russell has his mojo back.

"Definitely. I feel like my at-bats haven't been that bad this whole postseason, but you stick to your work ethic and you believe in yourself and you stay confident," he said after Thursday's Game 5 victory. 

"There's a little frustration there, but it's a different type of frustration. It's a frustration where you know you have the stuff to get the job done, but you want to help produce for your team and for your offense. And that's where I was kind of struggling a little bit with that frustration."

Szczur's not even on the Cubs' playoff roster, yet spent a second straight night in the bright lights of Hollywood, giving his take to reporters crowded around his locker and delivering a live interview on national TV talking about his underwear.

The good-natured outfielder believes it's all good karma coming back to him and the Cubs.

Before Game 4 Wednesday, ESPN re-ran a feature on Szczur's heroic act - donating bone marrow to a young girl from the Ukraine, which helped save her life at a time in his life when he was trying to make the nearly-impossible leap from college athletics to the pros.

"I didn't expect to talk to the media at all," Szczur said with a grin. "A lot of things have been coming out - the bone marrow story. 

"The same day everything came out, they ended up breaking out of slumps. And it just so happened to be with my stuff. It's good karma. I feel like a lot of things happen for a reason."

And now the Cubs are positioned just one win away from history. 

It's about time this franchise had some good karma in the postseason, eh?

[SHOP: Buy a "Try Not to Suck" shirt with proceeds benefiting Joe Maddon's Respect 90 Foundation & other Cubs Charities]

Szczur isn't just giving the interviews and absorbing the attention. 

Before Russell's offensive breakout in Game 4, the young shortstop asked Szczur - the ex-Villanova football star - to throw a football around in the outfield to loosen up and just get back to having fun on a baseball field. Now, the two plan to make it a part of their regular routine.

Szczur also wrapped another bat for Rizzo, just in case something happened to the one that helped the face of the franchise return to his typical self at the plate.

With a lineup now featuring confident, relaxed versions of Rizzo and Russell, the Cubs love their chances against Clayton Kershaw in a possible NLCS clincher in Game 6 Saturday at Wrigley Field.

So much so that they felt they could joke about the Cubs' World Series drought before boarding a plane back to Chicago.

A reporter asked Dexter Fowler how the Cubs get past the history of a team that hasn't made it to the World Series in 71 years.

"Well, for starters, I don't think any of us are 71 years old," Fowler deadpanned.

Jason Heyward interjected.

"I didn't know that," he said, poking some fun at the franchise drought.

"We weren't alive then," Fowler continued. "We've heard the history, but at the same time, we're trying to make history.

IHSA Football Playoff Pairing Show Saturday on CSN

IHSA Football Playoff Pairing Show Saturday on CSN

The IHSA Football Playoff Pairing Show returns to CSN for the sixth-straight year on Saturday night at 8 p.m.

The Playoff Pairing Show, also streaming live on and, will reveal the brackets and first round matchups for all 256 playoff qualifiers across eight classes.

"The IHSA Football Playoff Pairing Show' continues to be one of the most highly-anticipated events in the state of Illinois and we couldn't be prouder to once again showcase two-straight hours of live, interactive coverage to our on-air and online viewers on Saturday night," CSN Chicago VP/GM Phil Bedella said. "This show is the perfect precursor to kick off our IHSA Football season, which includes four live playoff battles, along with live coverage of all eight championship match-ups."

CSN's Leila Rahimi will host Saturday's show and be joined alongside IHSA TV announcer Dave Bernhard, Kankakee Daily Journal writer and bracketologist Steve Soucie. Preps contributor Edgy Tim and IHSA TV veteran Matt Rodewald will analyze each class with media members from around the state. 

[MORE: Complete Preps coverage

In addition, the Playoff Pairing Show will feature highlights, interviews, and team and fan reaction moments throughout the "Land of Lincoln" from numerous playoff pairing parties.

The IHSA Playoff Pairing Show is a precursor to CSN's live coverage of the 2016 IHSA football postseason. CSN will air one live playoff game during each of the first four rounds and carry all eight state championship games on Friday, Nov. 25 and Saturday, Nov. 26.

Viewers are urged to visit's channel finder to find the exact channel locations in their area.