Santo's life was full of passion

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Santo's life was full of passion

By Frankie O
CSNChicago.com

I could have made a lot of money this week, if I could have found someone to take a prop bet. It would have been easy. I had no doubt in my mind, that in the first election after his passing, Ron Santo would be elected to the Hall of Fame. Honestly, did you expect he wouldnt? Its just another chapter in his incredible journey that makes you want to laugh and cry at the same time. If you Google bittersweet, the first ten pages are Santo entries.

When I wrote about his death a year and one day ago, it was done so with a heavy heart and a sense of anger and disappointment that he left while still being denied something that he justly deserved and wanted so much. Validation. Especially from his peers. (At least they would understand better than writers, right?) Even at my advanced age, I did not see most of his career. As a young Phillies fan though, I knew most of the stars on the other Major League teams as I began my baseball obsession and he was one of them.

I could spend thousands of words here arguing on his behalf, but most of that would be statistical analysis on my part. That is where Hall of Fame considerations can become skewed. They are not a complete measure. Especially since baseball is considered a game of nuance, in which a connoisseur can see, and understand, more. In that regard there is the new Sabermetric tool known as WAR. (Wins against replacement) It measures the amount of wins a player is worth over a player coming up to replace him. (Dont ask!) It is a very popular tool used by many front offices in the bigs, including a certain group that has taken over the Northside. According to Baseball Reference.com, Santos career is worth 105 on their all-time list. There are currently 234 players enshrined in Cooperstown. You do the math!

Again though, to get lost in the numbers is to miss the point. Ronnie was more than that. He meant more than that. His being on this earth each day was a credit to his determination to live a life to its fullest, let alone to play a game. I still cannot fathom what it must have been like for him to be an athlete with diabetes. And doing it in a time when his maintenance was so primitive compared to today. Also primitive were the attitudes towards those with a disease, thus him having to hide it so long, for fear of not being able to play. What a burden to have to shoulder, every single day. My feelings are that having had conversations with doctors about the reality of his situation led to his unbridled enthusiasm towards life.

This is where Ron Santo has touched so many. His was a life full of passion. He shared that passion with anyone who cared to pay attention. So often we think we know what we see, but it isnt until we are able to go a little further that we can truly understand. Ive always imagined that leading a public life could be a bit of a pain. You cant escape anywhere. Everyone is watching. Ronnie was able to use this to the benefit of countless others. It was hard to be a baseball fan, and not know of his health issues as he got older. Also you knew that he was relentless in finding funding for JDRF. (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) Finding a cure for any disease takes money, a lot of money. But its also those going through it, to share with those that come after them, to provide hope and inspiration. As the father of a child with a rare illness, Im acutely aware of how unbelievably invaluable that behavior is. When you discover that something is wrong with your child, it can feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders, winning the battle to drive you into the ground. But having someone who has been there, to share what your path forward is, and that it is difficult, but doable, is a godsend. I can only imagine how many families he has touched in a positive way with his time and candor. For that alone I am in awe of what he has done for diabetes awareness and JDRF.

Once again this week, I watched This Old Cub, the documentary on his life made by his son Jeff. The story weaves through his life up to the year 2003. It is a compelling portrait. The rawness of the video showing what he went through to walk as a double-amputee is as riveting as it is uncomfortable to watch. Almost as uncomfortable, was to watch as he received a phone call he didnt want to receive, one telling him he didnt make the Hall. But through it all is a view into the determined heart and soul of a winner. He doesnt whine or complain. He just does what he has to do and keeps on moving. His family is so fortunate to have such a heart-felt interpretation of him that will last forever. Included in that is his grandson. Their scenes together were nothing but love and joy. (It was great watching Ronnie combing the little ones hair, think he was jealous?)

So while I, like MILLIONS of others, am so disappointed that I wont get to hear his acceptance speech, Im not going to let it get me down. He showed me thats not an option. Im going to smile knowing that even after he is gone, hes providing his family, friends and fans with an opportunity to thank him for his lasting impact. In the end isnt that what matters most? That your time helped others, that you made this a better place? Its only fitting that from now on any reference to his name will be preceded by the moniker Hall of Famer. Because you know, where he is now, hes already been inducted.

It reminds me of the scene in Field of Dreams where Doc Graham has no interest in going to a place where dreams come true. Hes comfortable, and accepting, of what life gave him. An unbelieving Ray doesnt comprehend how a man could not want go back and get a second chance at his dream. Doc, like Ronnie, understood he served a different purpose. While undeniable is the pain that he didnt get to live a day as a Hall of Famer, dont consider that part of his life as tragic. If he hadnt been there to provide the positive inspiration he was, for so many people who needed it, now that would have been tragic. There are 234 (235!) Hall of Famers, but there was, and will be, only one Ron Santo.

R.I.P. Hall of Famer!!

Notre Dame pulls away from Syracuse in New Jersey track meet

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USA Today Sports Images

Notre Dame pulls away from Syracuse in New Jersey track meet

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — DeShone Kizer flirted with a school record and Notre Dame’s defense came up with a handful of big plays. So at least for this week, the Irish were able to put their disastrous September in the rearview mirror. 

Notre Dame sprinted past Syracuse, 50-33, Saturday afternoon at MetLife Stadium for their second win of the season, which ended a five-game losing streak to Power Five opponents. Kizer threw for 471 yards — 55 short of Joe Thiesmann’s record — and three touchdowns, powering the Irish offense to an average of nearly 10 yards per play. 

Notre Dame and Syracuse combined for 33 points in the first five minutes of the game, with Kizer finding Equanimeous St. Brown for 79- and 67-yard touchdowns on Notre Dame’s first two possessions, which were sandwiched around an eight-play, 75-yard Orange scoring drive (Jarron Jones blocked the PAT, which Cole Luke returned for a two-point score). Syracuse’s Amba Etta-Tawo added a 72-yard touchdown of his own, which was immediately followed by C.J. Sanders dashing 93 yards for a touchdown on the ensuing kickoff.

Things settled down a bit from there, but Notre Dame wasn’t quite able to put away Syracuse when it had the opportunity. Dexter Williams’ fourth-and-goal try from the one-yard line was stopped short, and Kizer missed a wide-open Kevin Stepherson on Notre Dame’s next possession (he would’ve had a touchdown had he connected on the throw). 

Syracuse converted its fourth-and-goal-from-the-one attempt in the second quarter to draw the Orange within three, but Kizer barged downfield for a 71-second scoring drive to put Notre Dame back up by 10. Led by Nyles Morgan and Isaac Rochell, Notre Dame’s defense dug in during the second quarter — though they were without safety Devin Studstill, who was ejected for targeting late in the first quarter — and Justin Yoon added a 31-yard field goal to put the Irish up by 13. 

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But things came unraveled for Notre Dame late in the second half. Kizer took a sack on third down that knocked Notre Dame out of field goal range, and after Brisly Estime cruised through some poor tackling for a 74-yard return, the Orange scored a late touchdown. Kizer was picked off with about 30 seconds left in the half, but Syracuse missed a 40-yard field goal to end a wild first 30 minutes. The two teams combined for 727 yards of total offense in the first half. 

As it turned out, that moment of panic was quickly washed away early in the second half. 

Notre Dame’s defense dug in, playing decent enough coverage and pressuring Dungey (James Onwualu’s sack-strip of the Orange quarterback was Notre Dame’s first forced fumble of the season). Kizer found Stepherson — who, again, was wide open — for a 46-yard touchdown, and Wililams dazzled with a video game-like cutback for a 59-yard run for a score. That six-point halftime lead quickly ballooned to 20.

For the first time this season, Notre Dame’s defense had a number of players come up with big individual plays. Linebacker Nyles Morgan had a few, including a pass break-up, a sack and a tackle for a loss. Defensive end Isaac Rochell added a tackle for a loss, as did Onwualu (in addition to his sack-strip). Defensive end Jay Hayes made a few plays, and cornerback Donte Vaughn and linebacker Greer Martini broke up passes, too. And Jones’ blocked PAT — his sixth blocked kick of his career and second of the season — meant Notre Dame was in the lead of this game from the first play to the last. 

Syracuse still racked up 33 points, but those individual efforts were a promising sign in the first game of the Greg Hudson era. Dungey’s five-yard touchdown run came with 6:52 remaining in the game and was Syracuse’s first score of the second half (the Orange botched the PAT attempt). 

Yoon tacked on a 39-yard field goal in the fourth quarter to give Notre Dame 50 points, its highest total against a Power Five opponent since Oct. 11, 2014 against North Carolina. 

J.T. Barrett becomes Buckeyes' all-time TD leader in crushing of Rutgers

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J.T. Barrett becomes Buckeyes' all-time TD leader in crushing of Rutgers

J.T. Barrett threw an interception on Ohio State’s first offensive possession, but that was in no way an indication of how his day would go.

The redshirt junior became the program’s all-time leader in touchdown passes Saturday, throwing four in the first half in a 58-0 blowout of Rutgers at Ohio Stadium.

Despite a slowish start for Ohio State — it was just 6-0 after a quarter — Barrett and the Buckeyes turned on the jets in a 24-point second quarter and ended up out-gaining the Knights, 360-84, in the first 30 minutes of play. That trend continued after halftime, too, with Ohio State adding four more touchdowns, all of them of the rushing variety to turn this one into a merciless blowout.

After Barrett's interception, Ohio State scored on every drive until the game's last, when a fourth-and-goal try from 11 yards out was unsuccessful. That included seven straight touchdown drives.

Barrett had touchdown passes to four different receivers in the first half: Curtis Samuel, Dontre Wilson, Marcus Baugh and Terry McLaurin. Barrett's day was over before the third quarter was, and he finished 21-for-29 with 238 yards to go along with that quartet of scoring throws. Samuel had a big first half with 70 receiving yards to go along with his touchdown catch and an additional 58 rushing yards. He finished with 154 total yards.

Mike Weber also had a huge day running the ball. He went for 144 yards on just 14 carries, including a 46-yard touchdown run.

And, as it’s been doing all season, the Buckeyes’ defense certainly came to play, blanking the Knights and limiting them to just 107 total yards on the game. With 84 of those in the first half, the Knights had a shocking second-half yardage total of just 23. Ohio State out-rushed Rutgers, 410-74, holding a ridiculous 669-107 total-yardage edge on the day.

Throwing the ball, Rutgers was 3-for-16 as a team.

Ohio State, the second-ranked team in the country, improved to a perfect 4-0 with the win and will take on Indiana next weekend.

Rutgers fell to 2-3 with the loss and takes on Michigan next weekend.