We can be (gym class) heroes, just for one day

We can be (gym class) heroes, just for one day

Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2010
11:39 AM

By Joe Collins
CSNChicago.com

It's too bad we live in a world where Bears tackle Chris Williams can't play "Red Rover Red Rover." I'm guessing that the brass at Halas Hall wouldn't allow such a thing, despite the fact that he wears a lot of protective equipment and goes up against 300-pound guys all the time. They probably have a prohibitive clause in his contract, you know? It's also too bad that Juan Pierre can't be turned loose in a pickup game of "Steal the Bacon." Or that you won't see Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith as enforcers in an impromptu game of floor hockey. Or even dodgeball. But given what happened to former NFL running back Robert Edwards, I could understand why owners and general managers would frown on such acts of silliness outside of their day jobs.

The school bells will ring once again for every Chicagoland high school, middle school and grade school in the next week or so, if they haven't started already. And thanks to Illinois being one of only five states that require physical education in grades K-12, you can bet a few of those games will be played a little more often in the Land of Lincoln. And by kids who aspire to be the next Williams, Pierre, Seabrook or Keith, no less.

Gym class is always the most looked forward to or the most dreaded class of the day. There's hardly any middle ground. Kids either get excited about the chance to climb a rope or hate the fact that they have to change into John Stockton-esque 80's shorts for 45 minutes. What do you remember about being a gym class hero? Or what was it about gym class that gave you the creeps? Here a few bits and pieces you might remember:

The Presidential Challenge: Like the Pro Bowl, the NBA Slam Dunk Contest or MySpace, the Presidential Challenge fitness test was a good idea for a year or two. Nowadays we all look back and laugh and say, "How could I ever take something like this seriously?" As you may remember, The Presidential Challenge focused on five staples of PE class dorkery: sit-ups, the shuttle run, pull-ups, the mile run and sit and reach. All five events reeked of potential disaster-- and I mean that both literally and figuratively. Remember how you always had to partner up with someone for sit-ups? If you picked a kid that didn't have the pork & beans with Cool Ranch Doritos for lunch, you were OK.

The shuttle run was always a torn ACL waiting to happen. Heck, depending on your gym teacher, the pull-up competition was a separated shoulder waiting to happen. The mile run always had that "if I drop before any one of you..." feel about it a'la Goldie Hawn in "Wildcats." But the sit and reach portion, where flexibility and unintentional comedy went hand in hand, was always my favorite. You had to sit and place your feet against a wooden box that looked like it was made by a D shop class student. Then, you had to stretch out your muscles (and dignity) toward a tape measure on the box. Woo hoo! What next? Can we square dance now? Fortunately, the tests were run by teachers who had to control 30 students all at the same time, so it was easy to bend the rules. "Wow Joe...87 sit-ups in a minute? I think that's a record!" Granted, these tests might set good health precedents at an early age, but where are all the Presidential Challenge winners these days? Point me in the direction of the Presidential Challenge Hall of Fame. Go on.

The Obstacle Course: This was an elementary school staple. Anybody else take part in this nonsense? Nothing says fun like turning a gymnasium into a ramshackle version of Double Dare for an hour. Usually, the PE class obstacle course featured some of the following:

1. Wobbly balance beams, three inches off the floor, getting you across an alligator lake (blue construction paper taped to the floor)

2. Having to tip-toe through the poison snake patchactually jump ropes, in the shape of snakes, strewn all over the place

3. A spooky cave contraption that was made out of soiled gym mats (which smelled like taco mix) all held together with duct tape

4. Rope swing across the canyon; in other words, a homemade staircaseplatform, a slippery rope, another platform...and a shattered femur

5. The Scooters : reckless kid doing 15 mph an unsuspecting pinky finger on another kid = a lot of screaming and an ice pack

(Random tangent: not sure if it was just my elementary school that did this, but why was every solution to a childs health problem an ice pack? Talk about a cheap fix. Headache? Ice pack. Blunt force trauma? Ice pack. Stressing out over the state achievement tests? Ice pack.)

Protect The Pin: If you see any news segments about social unrest on TV, say, on a college campus or in a city plaza, I am willing to bet that the highly motivated ones in those stories earned their stripes in games like Protect The Pin. Not sure if you had a game like this in the K-12 days, but this is what put my Tinley Park grade school on the map. Protect the Pin is like dodgeball meets handball meets a government revolt. I can't imagine that this game exists now with the push for "friendly" games in schools. Anyway, two teams are placed on opposing sides of a gymnasium. The midcourt stripe is the Mason-Dixon line. Six or seven foam rubber balls (about the size of small basketballs) were in play. Your goal was to knock down a bowling pin on the other side of the gymand doing so by staying behind the midcourt stripe. If you didnt think you could throw a ball and knock down the pin immediately, you could always peg (read: knock the living daylights out of) opponents via the thrown ball. If a member of the opposition caught the ball on a fly, you were out of the game. However, if your thrown ball was good enough to knock someone's glasses off --and the ensuing ricochet took out two more Z Cavaricci-wearing snobs-- all three were out. Fun stuff! Every Friday afternoon, the decibel level in our gym was tantamount to the old Chicago Stadium during a great Bulls or Blackhawks playoff run. See, throwing a punch in class to get even with the kid who stole your crayon was frowned on in the classroom. But you could always get even if that same kid was on the other team in Protect the Pin. All you need is a foam rubber ballor five. (Note: CSNChicago.com does not advocate violence or throwing foam rubber balls at your coworkers).

What we really need is to have some of our old gym class games on TV. Wouldnt that be fun? You knowget a bunch of free agent athletes in their prime, or even legendary athletes with a few screws loose (Tyson, Rodmanetc) and start up a 12-city dodgeball league. The Chicago Pinheads for starters. The public would never take a thing like that seriously, so you put the games on Saturday nights at 2am when people are just getting home with their steak burritos.

Hey, at least it would be a step up from a food dehydrator infomercial.

Or something like that.

Report: Aroldis Chapman returns to Yankees on five-year deal

Report: Aroldis Chapman returns to Yankees on five-year deal

After helping bring a World Series title back to the North Side, Aroldis Chapman is headed back to New York.

The former Cubs closer signed a five-year, $86 million deal with the Yankees, according to FOX's Ken Rosenthal.

He was acquired by the Cubs in July in exchange for pitcher Adam Warren and prospects Rashad Crawford, Billy McKinney and Gleyber Torres.

Chapman notched 36 saves and owned a 1.01 ERA, 0.86 WHIP and recorded 90 strikeouts across 26 2/3 innings with the Cubs during the regular season.

He appeared in 13 postseason contests, where he registered a 3.45 ERA,1.09 WHIP and 21 strikeouts in 15 2/3 innings. 

Much-needed face lift has vastly improved White Sox farm system overnight

Much-needed face lift has vastly improved White Sox farm system overnight

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Bolstered by a pair of franchise-altering trades, including the Adam Eaton deal on Wednesday, the White Sox totally revamped their farm system overnight.

In the span of 29 hours, the White Sox added seven high-caliber minor leaguers to a previously razor thin farm system, including baseball’s top position and pitching prospects. Headed by second baseman Yoan Moncada and right-handed pitcher Lucas Giolito, one of three pitchers acquired from the Washington Nationals on Wednesday in exchange for Eaton, all seven acquisitions are among the team’s top-10 MLB.com prospect list.

Wednesday’s additions also include right-handers Reynaldo Lopez, who MLB rates as the No. 38 overall prospect in baseball, and Dane Dunning, Washington’s 2016 first-round pick — a player the White Sox highly coveted at draft time. A day earlier, the White Sox received Moncada, hard-throwing righty Michael Kopech, outfielder Luis Basabe and right-hander Victor Diaz in exchange for five-time All-Star Chris Sale.

“We are ecstatic about the return we were able to secure for Adam's services,” general manager Rick Hahn said. “That's a result of hard work by our scouts, the amateur scouts, the background they have done on these players over the number of years, and our international scouts and pro scouts and everybody from the front office targeting what we feel are high-impact potential rotational pieces that will help further our goal of getting ourselves in a position for success.”

Last month, one MLB executive suggested the White Sox would have an almost unprecedented talent pool to deal away were they to rebuild. The group was similar to the 1976 Oakland A’s, who tried to sell off a number of stars, including Hall of Famers Reggie Jackson and Rollie Fingers, before they hit free agency only to have most deals overturned.

With only two players dealt — arguably their first and third most valuable pieces — the White Sox have already positioned themselves extremely well for the future. Not only have they acquired the two headliners in Giolito and Moncada, they added potentially elite pitching depth to a system that has proven incapable of providing replacement-level talent whenever the White Sox were in need.

And their situation should only improve as the White Sox endure what they expect to be a painful, slow rebuild. In an attempt to self-sustain, the White Sox plan to dig deep and continue to trade away valuable major leaguers in an attempt to ensure they limit future instances where they don’t have the pieces to pull off a blockbuster trade or even simply fill a hole when one arises.

“The problem with our roster the last year or year before wasn’t the top third or so, certainly wasn’t Sale or Eaton,” Hahn said. “It was the matter of, in my opinion, a lack of 1-25 depth, or even 1-40 depth given some injury issues that every club encounters, and that’s what we’re trying to rectify over an extended period of time. We’re trying to get ourselves in a position where we not only have that high-end impact talent at the top of the roster that we’ve benefited from and that other teams are coveting, but that we also have the depth to survive when you have unfortunate underperformance or injury along the way.”

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

So far the White Sox couldn’t be much happier.

There was an audible gasp in the media room (and perhaps throughout the building) on Wednesday when it became clear what the White Sox received in exchange for Eaton and Eaton alone.

Even though the White Sox no longer have Eaton or Sale, they still have pitchers Jose Quintana and Nate Jones on team-friendly contracts, 2018 free agents Todd Frazier and Melky Cabrera, slugger Jose Abreu and closer David Robertson to potentially trade. Given that pool, Hahn and the front office believe they can continue to further overhaul a farm system that has resided in the bottom third of baseball for much of the last decade.

“Expectations are high in these deals,” Hahn said. “We expect there to be strong returns for them. We were very pleased with how these first two have gone so far.”