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!!

John Danks 'can't fault' White Sox for decision to cut him

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John Danks 'can't fault' White Sox for decision to cut him

He’s disappointed in the decision and hopes to pitch again, but John Danks said Wednesday he understands why the White Sox moved on.

Speaking from his home in Nashville, Tenn., Danks said he would stay in pitching shape in case any teams call after his departure from the White Sox is finalized. The team’s longest-tenured player, Danks will officially be designated for assignment on Thursday, the White Sox announced on Tuesday. Danks said he began to believe his run with the club might be over after he lost on Thursday night in Baltimore, which dropped his record in four starts to 0-4 with a 7.25 ERA.

“I can’t fault anybody with the decision they made,” Danks said. “It’s a win-now league and I wasn’t helping the team win.

“The team is hot, the team is playing well. That’s obvious and you can’t go out there with four-fifths of a rotation, I totally understand that. It all starts with starting pitching, we’ve been told that since we were young. In order to win this thing, you have to have five starters giving you a shot every night out. Unfortunately, I wasn’t doing that in April.”

A member of the team since 2007 and in the final season of a five-year contract, Danks entered 2016 with the expectation he’d receive more than four starts before the White Sox cut him.

But Danks also expected more of himself.

He commanded his fastball and consistently hit 90 mph on the radar gun this spring, developments that had the White Sox cautiously optimistic Danks would regain some of the form that made him successful early in his career.

Yet Danks never once had an easy outing after the season began. Even in his best start on April 21, Danks worked around five hits and five walks to hold the Los Angeles Angels to two runs in six innings. After his loss Thursday, Danks said he felt he was in the way of something special in the White Sox clubhouse, which has thrived off energy and chemistry so far.

Danks said leaving his teammates was difficult. Chris Sale convinced him to stop by the clubhouse early Tuesday to say goodbye.

“I would say that was probably the hardest part,” Danks said. “Went in and hugged guys that were in there yesterday. We are having fun. Those guys are a blast to be around. It’s always more fun to win. Just the energy that gets brought in every day and the camaraderie and the trust in each other. You can see that on the field. Guys are willing to give themselves up for the better of the team.

“They do that because the other guy behind them does the same thing. It’s been a great month aside from four starts. I wish those guys nothing but the best. I’m a Sox fan for sure.”

Danks looks back fondly on his White Sox tenure, even if the four seasons after shoulder surgery didn’t go as planned. Though the results weren’t what he wanted, Danks is satisfied with his effort level. He also loves that he got to spend nine seasons living “in a badass city.”

But at 31, Danks isn’t quite ready to call it a career.

“I don't have any regrets, I worked as hard as I know how to and did my very best every time out and that's really all I could promise,” Danks said. “Certainly still is a desire to play. Now it's up to someone wanting me or not.

“I grew up there. Showed up as a baby, I was 21 years old when I made my first start and left as a 31-year-old man. I got to play with a lot of awesome teammates that have become lifelong friends now. Met a lot of people in a great organization. I don't know, I hadn't thought of my whole time just yet. I certainly had a lot of good times, some tough times, some struggles, but all in all I got to live a dream. Got to play a game, and yeah, I'm a very blessed man, no doubt.”

Cubs' Anthony Rizzo joins forces with Andrew Luck, Mike Trout to endorse sports drink

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Cubs' Anthony Rizzo joins forces with Andrew Luck, Mike Trout to endorse sports drink

Anthony Rizzo is branching out from his Bryzzo campaign to endorse a sports drink.

The Cubs star first baseman is part of an endorsement deal with BodyArmor, a sports drink brand. 

Rizzo's ads will appear in Chicagoland stores plus digital and social media circles, according to Sports Business Daily. He will also make public appearances to help promote the brand.

BodyArmor's other endorsers include Los Angeles Angels star Mike Trout, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, Houston Rockets guard James Harden and golfer Dustin Johnson, aka Wayne Gretzky's son-in-law.

With enormous expectations and now a ridiculous 20-6 record to back it, the Cubs' inboxes have to be overflowing with marketing requests.

Beyond Bryzzo and Rizzo's new drink campaign, the Cubs first baseman also his his cereal while Joe Maddon is doing commercials in the Chicagoland area for Binny's, Jake Arrieta is both an underwear model and a suit model and Kris Bryant has his Express billboards.

Yeah, it's a good time to be a Cub.

After Bears release Antrel Rolle, Matt Slauson, question looms: Who else?

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After Bears release Antrel Rolle, Matt Slauson, question looms: Who else?

Just as the draft selections of guard Cody Whitehair heralded the Chicago end for Matt Slauson, and safeties Deon Bush and DeAndre Houston-Carson brought in alternatives to Antrel Rolle – both vets let go sooner rather than later – an obvious question hanging fire right now in the wake of other draft picks and signings is, “Who else?”

One expectation this offseason is that the Bears would make a difficult decision on rush-linebacker Lamarr Houston, who’s due $6 million this year and next and $8 million for 2018. That situation won’t stand as-is.

The final year of Willie Young’s contract calls for $2.5 million this season. That’s only slightly less than the $2.9 million Slauson was due for 2016 and that was rendered expendable by the Whitehair draft selection and the signings of Ted Larsen and Manny Ramirez.

In the Houston-Young cases, the Bears used a No. 1 pick on Leonard Floyd, a Young-type edge rusher. They used a No. 3 pick on Jonathan Bullard, a 290-pound defensive end with size-rush blend that Young doesn’t have. The Bears re-signed Sam Acho, who doesn’t give the Bears what Houston does as an edge rusher, but Houston doesn’t do anything on special teams, the roster entrée for non-starters.

Then there is the matter of Eddie Royal, with an injury speckled 2015 injury resume’ that defines “vulnerable” for player at age 30 and carrying a $4.5 million salary for 2016. What little the Bears did draft-wise on offense included diminutive wideout Danny Braverman in the seventh round.

Teams don’t make roster decisions based on seventh-round picks before the first minicamp. But Braverman, who led all FBS schools in receptions last year, is 5-10, around 180 pounds.

Forget the knee-jerk comparisons to Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman and Wes Welker just because they’re little white guys (and why is it that people grab those instant so-called comparables based on skin color? For another time.)

But NFL slot receivers in the Braverman mold include Seattle’s undrafted Doug Baldwin (5-10, 189, also a Florida native like Braverman); Randall Cobb (5-10) up in Green Bay, a No. 3 slot guy his first three NFL seasons; Jamison Crowder, a true smurf at 5-8 who caught 59 passes for Washington as a rookie.

Braverman does not make Royal roster-surplus the way Whitehair did Slauson, or Bush did Rolle, or Floyd makes Houston or Young (whom the Bears reportedly tried to trade during the draft). And Royal was banged up in part because he was thrust into a starter role by the injuries to Alshon Jeffery and Kevin White.

But numbers on depth charts and salary cap balance sheets force decisions. And the surprise of the offseason would be if the Bears were done making theirs.