Bears draft 'core' could allow trading down, other options

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Bears draft 'core' could allow trading down, other options

Depending on the fine-tuning of their prospects list in the final days before Thursdays start of the 2012 draft, the Bears could well be positioned for a trade down from No. 19 and still landing an impact player to come in and start as a rookie.The key is in the number of players deemed both worthy of the pick involved, in this case one in the difficult mid range of the draft, and who might be available at a later point in the first round in particular.I would say right now, were working on a core of about seven players, said Bearsgeneral managerPhil Emery on Monday.That core will have players ranked according to the Bears standards of measure,including players who will be gone by No. 19 and could alsoshrink as the day approaches.Emery agreed that 2012 is good for wide receivers, defensive ends and tackles, in addition to tackles who could be moved into guard in the NFL.Since defensive end has been established as a priority, this points to a desirable situation in which a target area also happens to be one deep in quality players.That also shapes up as a scenario in which the Bears could deal down, depending upon how many of their core targets are still available when their turn comes at No. 19.Witha tiny handful of core players, the pressure could increase for trading up to get one.If the Bears consider a core of seven players to be of sufficient quality for No. 19, those become even better bargains if they could deal back a couple of picks and get one of their core.But that requires precise measuring.When you move back, you have to have a list of players that you feel good enough about, and a number of players, that the worst case, Emery said.The doomsday thing is you move back four spots. OK. If you were in that slot and you move back you get the fourth or fifth player in that sequence; you better feel good about that player.Because all those guys can be taken; every one of them. And I have been in a trade situation that the third one out of three that we had -- the first guy got taken where we moved out of, the second went and then we got the third one. You have to feel really good about that third player on that list because that could be the one you end up with.With a core of seven, the Bears are in a potentially very good position to feel good when they are on the clock Thursday.

A decade later, Ron Tomczak's legacy lives on at Lincoln-Way East intrasquad game

A decade later, Ron Tomczak's legacy lives on at Lincoln-Way East intrasquad game

When Ron Tomczak passed away suddenly in 2007, Lincoln-Way East head coach Rob Zvonar lost much more than a valuable assistant.

The 69-year-old Tomczak, who spent two-thirds of his life coaching football, had been a mentor and a friend to Zvonar, who leaned on the Hall of Famer for guidance as the young Griffins program took shape in the early 2000s. Zvonar relished having an experienced voice in coaches meetings and the locker room. More than that, he appreciated that same voice calling him "out of the blue" on any given night with words of advice and support.

It's the reason Zvonar made what he called a "no-brainer" decision that fall to honor Tomczak's legacy as a father, coach, mentor and friend a mere six months after the legendary coach's death. So when the Griffins took the field for their annual intrasquad game a week before their regular season began, they did so during the Ron Tomczak Black and Blue scrimmage.

Ten years later the tradition has carried on, and then some.

Thousands from the Frankfort community gathered in the team's stadium last Friday night to watch the 2016 Griffins take the field for the first time, and also to honor the legacy of a man instrumental toward helping build the program into one of the premier teams in Illinois. 

Tomczak coached at T.F. North for 16 seasons, earning 89 victories in his tenure. He coached the Meteors to a pair of playoff berths, including a 10-2 season and berth in the state semifinals with his son, Mike, under center. Mike went on to Ohio State, leading the Buckeyes to two Big Ten championships before a 15-year NFL career with stops in Chicago, Green Bay, Cleveland and Pittsburgh.

Ron continued his coaching career at Lincoln-Way East in 2001, serving as an assistant under Zvonar one year after the program’s inaugural season. Ron's son, Steve, was also an assistant at East during that time, and when Zvonar approached him and the Tomczak family about honoring their father at the annual scrimmage, they were thrilled.

"Coach Z was gracious enough when my father passed to say, 'This is what we're going to do, and we're going to do it every year really big and make it a big celebration,'" said Steve, who runs Body Tech Total Fitness in Frankfort, where Ron also worked in his later years. "That's the type of person (Zvonar) is, the type of man he is. He said as long as I'm here we're going to do this."

Added Ron Jr.: "Coach Z, I think my dad taught (Zvonar) a lot when he initially started, and he looked to my dad as a mentor."

Ron was a perfectionist, a trait that's easy to see has rubbed off in the way Zvonar leads a Griffins group with state-title aspirations in 2016.

Ron Jr. recalled his father putting together practice plans for the fall as soon as the Fourth of July rolled around. Months before the official start of the IHSA season he had the equipment room organized to a fault and his practice plan for two-a-days completed. Ron spent just as much time with the scout kickoff team as he did with the first-team offense, and he always made time to coach up anyone who asked for it.

"If anybody wanted to work he was there," Ron Jr. said, "if there was one kid or there were 40 kids out there."

When he returned to Lincoln-Way East as an assistant - he also taught driver's ed at the school - his passion, drive and work ethic rubbed off on the rest of the coaching staff.

"Most men his age would be retired on the golf course," Zvonar said, "and he was still coming out here in his late 60s coaching football. He meant so much to me as a mentor."

It's why simply honoring Ron, who was inducted into the IHSA Football Coaches Hall of Fame in 1986, with a scrimmage in his name wasn't enough. Zvonar makes a point each season of instilling in his team the importance Tomczak had on both him and the program. Though the 118 players on this year's East team are too young to remember Tomczak, they understand what he meant to the program because of Zvonar.

The highlight of the night is a spaghetti dinner inside the stadium, with proceeds going directly to a scholarship in Ron's name. Candidates from the team submit letters, must be in good standing academically and have an eye toward playing football collegiately. The coaching staff then selects candidates to present to the family, which makes the final decision in May on one to two players to receive the scholarship.

"I don't want to just say, "Hey, it's the Ron Tomczak scrimmage,'" Zvonar said. "We've got to go back and talk about who he was and what he stood for. And if we can continue to pass his legacy down to other generations, we sure will."

Added wide receiver Nick Zelenika, whose brother John - now at Illinois Wesleyan - was awarded the scholarship in 2015: "Coach Z talks a lot about him. He got this program rolling. He set the example for this program. Coach Z looks up to him as a role model, and we have a ton of respect for him. He definitely set an example for our high school."

The Tomczak family has been an integral part of the Lincoln-Way East program, and the impact Ron had during his time will continue to help define its future successes. It will also come full-circle next season when his grandson, current sophomore starting defensive back Jake, joins the varsity team. Another one of his grandsons, Max, will start at Lincoln-Way East next fall. But even when the last Tomczak has played his final snap for the Griffins, Ron Tomczak's legacy will live on each year as a reminder of what it takes to build a winner, and how to do so the right way.

"He was near and dear to our hearts," Zvonar said. "And as long as I'm here we'll always remember him.”

Cubs pay their respects to Vin Scully at Dodger Stadium

Cubs pay their respects to Vin Scully at Dodger Stadium

LOS ANGELES – There will never be another Vin Scully, who joined the Dodgers in Brooklyn as a kid out of Fordham University, moved to Los Angeles and became a face of the franchise, doing the one-man show that still connects and entertains generations of baseball fans.

The Cubs paid their respects to the legendary broadcaster before Friday night’s game at Dodger Stadium, with manager Joe Maddon and catcher David Ross visiting the Vin Scully Press Box for another photo op before the lyrical voice retires at the end of this season, at the age of 88.

“You’re ascending into the clouds to meet Mr. Scully,” Maddon said. “That’s like the window to the world up there when you sit in his booth and he talks about the purple mountain majesties on a clear day beyond the outfield fences here.”

The Cubs presented Scully with a green “67” scoreboard panel – to mark the number of seasons he’s worked Dodger games – as well as a Dodger banner from Wrigley Field. Maddon also gave Scully, who rocks the conservative coat-and-tie look on TV, several T-shirts from his collection, including “Try Not to Suck.”

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Maddon said he told Scully: “Maybe at the end of the year, sitting by your pool with the sandals on, you can put a T-shirt on where no one can see you and just be Vin.”

As the tributes pour in from around baseball, CSN Chicago will carry Scully’s third-inning call live during Sunday’s broadcast from Chavez Ravine.

“He makes you feel like he’s known you for the last 50 years,” Maddon said. “Just really kind and gracious. And you have to be all of that to survive that many years. Besides being good, it’s his authenticity and how he interacts with people that really (keeps) you on that stage that long.”

Chris Sale strikes out 14 but White Sox fall to Mariners

Chris Sale strikes out 14 but White Sox fall to Mariners

Felix Hernandez has proven for years that he doesn’t need much help.

But the White Sox provided him with three free outs on the bases anyway on Friday night.

Those mistakes allowed Hernandez to hold the White Sox in check as they wasted a 14-strikeout performance from Chris Sale in a 3-1 loss to the Seattle Mariners in front of 25,651 at U.S. Cellular Field. Sale retired 16 in a row to end it, but it wasn’t enough as the White Sox dropped back to five games below .500.

“We didn’t run the bases very well tonight,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “That ends up costing you. You’re getting something going against them, and it just takes the wind out of your sails. Both guys pitched great.

“They just executed better than we did when they got the chance. Both guys were going strong. The way we ran the bases, we didn’t deserve to win that game.”

Sale (15-7) deserved much better than to lose for the fifth time in his last six decisions.

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Though he allowed a run in the second, third and fourth innings, Sale got on a roll late.

After Adam Lind’s two-out RBI double in the fourth, Sale found an extra gear and retired the last 16 Mariners to hit, including 10 strikeouts. He struck out the side in the sixth and seventh innings and afforded his teammates a chance to rally.

“Thank God we did it early because as everybody saw, when he gets on a roll it’s like lights out,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “He’s obviously one of the best pitchers in the league for a reason. We had no chance, really, after the fourth and fifth inning. He got into a groove and got all his pitches working.”

Two of Seattle’s three runs off Sale came on opposite-field drives as Lind doubled to left in the fourth and Franklin Gutierrez homered to right in the second inning. Sale walked none and only allowed five hits and three runs in nine innings. He threw strikes on 88 of 120 pitches.

It was the 13th complete game of Sale’s career and his fifth this season.

“I wanted to find a groove and I felt like after the fourth inning I got into a pretty good groove, that cruising speed I was talking about,” Sale said. “I just tried to lengthen it as much as I could, just fill up as many innings as I could. Just give us a chance to win, keep us in the game.”

While Sale kept his team in the game, they repeatedly took themselves out of it.

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The White Sox had plenty of chances against Hernandez, none better than the bottom of the eighth inning. Trailing by two runs, Avisail Garcia and Tyler Saladino singled on both sides of a J.B. Shuck fielder’s choice. Adam Eaton’s one-out walk knocked Hernandez out of the game after 104 pitches.

But closer Edwin Diaz got Tim Anderson to hit into a fielder’s choice as third baseman Shawn O’Malley made a perfect throw home on the slow roller for a force out. Jose Abreu then fouled out to leave the bases loaded. Diaz retired the side in order in the ninth for his 11th save.

Todd Frazier homered in the seventh inning of Hernandez for the team’s only run, but they should have had more. The White Sox had the leadoff man reach base in five of eight innings started by Hernandez, who allowed a run and eight hits in 7 1/3 innings. Hernandez erased two of those five as he picked off Frazier and Shuck in the second and third innings. He also got out of a first-and-third jam in the fifth inning when Shuck lined into a double play and Omar Narvaez was caught leaning.

“That’s the frustrating part,” Ventura said. “You know you’re not really going to have too many opportunities (against Hernandez). You might be able to hit and run or all of a sudden you’re first and third. But if you just take it out of your own hands, that’s where you scratch your head.”