Why

Why

By Frankie O
CSNChicago.com

Its the one of the Five Ws that Im having a hard time getting past. In this desensitized world we live in, it sometimes takes a lot to get all of our collective attentions but the events of last Friday were over-the-top. I was behind the bar when I saw the first headline on TV. Worst fear is what comes immediately to mind.

Needless to say, I was a little distracted for the rest of my shift. As more detailed information came out, I could not think of anything else. Unfortunately for me, the end of my shift meant that it was time to go on Chicago Tribune Live. Upon walking into the Comcast SportsNet studios, there was a palpable tension. In the wake of the events, talking sports on TV seemed a little insignificant, to say the least. It was agreed that we would acknowledge the tragic events, but then we would respectively move on. As sometimes happens on live television, it didnt exactly go as scripted. In fact, there was no script.

Being someone who is still a TV novice, I often take in everything going on around me like a tourist. One of those is reading the teleprompter that host David Kaplan is reading off of to see how much he adheres to it or how he summarizes what is in front of him. On this occasion there was no script, since the teleprompter went down. No worries, pro that he is, Kap just started talking, expressing his feelings in a thoughtful, heartfelt way without as much as a half-second delay. That was impressive. Especially since as it went around the panel for us to weigh in and it came to my turn, I thought I was going to lose it. Its weird sometimes when emotion will hit you and when Kap turned to me for my chance to speak it was hitting me in a giant wave. As soon as I started thinking about my kids, I couldnt stop thinking about the little ones from Sandy Hook Elementary School and the horrors they had faced and how now, their parents must deal with it.

As the father of a 1st grader, and two others that are not that far removed, I kept thinking about my kids school. Life offers a lot of cool circumstances. One is being around your young children and their friends. There is not an easier environment to get a smile than when you go to visit your child in their 1st grade classroom. It is a very special place. What the hope is that it is as safe as home. I remember the very first time my now teenager went to school. The bus that picked her up was the most intimidating machine ever made. How would they take care of her? What would they do if she was upset? What would she do without her parents? From my subsequent visits, I realized that it was a perfect place for any of my kids to be, or anyone elses for that matter. It is the start of what hopefully is a wonderful journey. And it is full of all of the wonder and innocence that you would expect.

For 26 families of those who inhabited Sandy Hook, either students or those who worked there, that innocence was shattered.

I cant describe how sick that makes me feel.

So, as much as I love and look forward to being on CTL it was a hard place to be. Quite honestly, who cares?

I could not wait to get home and hug my kids. And yell at my teenager to clean her room. I needed something normal to deal with something beyond comprehension.

The sense of loss was profound, bordering on overwhelming.

Judging from the immediate reactions, everyone feels this way. Im sure as we move on things are going to be politicized, arent they always? But if this doesnt wake people up to some of the problems we face as a society, what is going to?

That line of thought can get me going, but this is neither the time nor place.

What this is a time for is an appreciation of what we have and our responsibilities to those around us. At some point isnt this what lifes all about?

One of the interesting benefits of being a parent is that it enables your heart to open up to other children and families in a way you never imagined. When I look at my kids friends, or when families come into the restaurant, it usually brings a smile, mostly one of happiness, or if things go awry, one of commiseration. Been there, done that. The feeling comes from the fact that they remind me of how lucky I am. And that is never more so than now.

As is usually the case when Im down, something will happen to me at work to help change my outlook.

Sunday night was as dreadful as you would expect. Thats always the case after a Bears home loss and the masses come in afterward, especially more so when victorious Packer fans are sprinkled in. Cant they just go home? I know they have a sense of wonderment with our newfangled indoor plumbing, but enough is enough!

Anyway, for some reason, all concerned seemed a little more engaged in the experience than usual.

Whatever. Its the holiday season I guess. I usually dont bother easy, but this was beginning to become a chore. I couldnt wait to get done and go back home to see my sleeping angels.

For most of the night I had three guys in Bears jerseys, two younger, one older, sitting in front of me watching the Sunday night football game. They werent shy about their consumption, but were harmless and having a good time. After a couple of hours in, the guy about my age shared with me that the two others were his sons. Thats pretty cool I thought and said. He had brought his sons up in Chicago but they had all subsequently moved to different parts of the country. They got together once a year for a Bears home game minus any female influence. They were all flying out Monday afternoon, but for now I felt as though we were watching a game in one of their living rooms, and I was now in on it, a willing audience for all the little things that they were goofing on each other for. Thats what guys do, especially when youre related.

I just thought this was the neatest thing.

An important thing.

It reminded me of sports trips I have taken with my father and someday want to take with my kids. Memories that last a lifetime, and now I was part of theirs. In my emotional state I kept telling them how cool what they were doing was. I could tell by dads smile he knew exactly what I meant.

For many families in Connecticut that simple joy is no longer possible.

White Sox draft pick Zack Collins wins Johnny Bench Award

White Sox draft pick Zack Collins wins Johnny Bench Award

This June just keeps getting better and better for Zack Collins.

Collins was selected by the White Sox with the No. 10 pick in the MLB Draft, made it to the College World Series with the University of Miami, signed his first professional contract and now he is the Johnny Bench Award winner.

The Johnny Bench Award was created in 2000 and is given to the top college catcher in Division 1. Previous winners include Buster Posey and Kurt Suzuki.

Collins already had a haul of first-team All-America honors from Baseball America, D1Baseball, the NCBWA, Perfect Game and Rawlings.

Collins hit .363 with 16 home runs, 59 RBIs and a .668 slugging percentage. He also led the nation with 78 walks this season for the Hurricanes, which went 0-2 at the College World Series. Collins started 62 of 64 Miami games and made 59 of those starts at catcher.

How Bulls could land a max free agent and re-sign E’Twaun Moore

How Bulls could land a max free agent and re-sign E’Twaun Moore

Quick note here because we are all eager to get back to our twitter feeds and wild speculation. Even though the Bulls will only have approximately $24 million in cap space, there is one situation in which they can sign a Tier 1 max player AND re-sign E’twaun Moore.

This all hinges on the deal (and discount) that Moore would give the Bulls. The Bulls have Early-Bird rights with Moore; that means they can potentially sign him to a deal and not eat into their cap space. There are a lot of rules into how this works and I won’t bore you with details, but the bottom line is that the Bulls can offer a 3-year deal for approx. $21 million or a 4-year deal for appox $28 million. If Moore accepts this contract, the Bulls just to have account for his ‘cap hold’ of $980,431 in free agency until the actual deal is signed. 

This potential deal would leave the Bulls approximately $23 million to spend, well above the $22.2 million it would take to land a Tier 1 (0-6 year NBA player) in free agency. This includes restricted free agent Harrison Barnes. Again, this only works if Moore doesn’t want to test free agency, or doesn’t receive a better offer in free agency. If Moore wants more money, the Bulls have to use their cap space to sign him to a larger deal.

One important key to any restricted free agent like Barnes, the Warriors will have 3 days to match any offer sheet that Barnes signs. Barnes can’t sign an offer sheet until July 7th, so the Warriors effectively will have until at least July 10th to make that decision. This prevents any team like the Bulls ‘swooping’ in and landing Barnes while Kevin Durant conducts his meetings in the Hamptons.

Cubs aren’t sweating loss to Mets or NLCS flashbacks: ‘Big-boy games are totally different'

Cubs aren’t sweating loss to Mets or NLCS flashbacks: ‘Big-boy games are totally different'

NEW YORK – The Cubs didn’t overreact to getting swept in last year’s National League Championship Series, but the New York Mets did expose some underlying issues while a deep playoff run created a sense of urgency in Wrigleyville.

The Cubs spent like crazy on the free-agent market (almost $290 million) and wore T-shirts around spring training that literally put targets on their chests, knowing the look would go viral on social media and spark love/hate responses.

Making a statement? Sending a message? That’s so last year, when the Cubs were a team still trying to find an identity and learn how to win. The Mets are now the ones feeling the season-on-the-brink anxiety, desperate for offense and crossing their fingers that all those talented young pitchers stay healthy.

Maybe this becomes a turning point for the defending NL champs, beating the Cubs 4-3 on Thursday night at Citi Field to kick off a marquee four-game series in front of 40,122 and a national TV audience. Not that John Lackey – the playoff-tested veteran the Cubs signed to lengthen their rotation for October – felt any added significance in facing the Mets.

“None,” Lackey said. “It’s June, who cares? Big-boy games are totally different.”

Yes, Lackey was “pretty surprised” and a little miffed that manager Joe Maddon pulled him with a runner on and one out in the seventh inning and the Cubs holding a 3-1 lead. Joel Peralta failed this bullpen audition, walking Alejandro De Aza (.158 average) and giving up an RBI single to just-promoted-from-Triple-A Las Vegas rookie Brandon Nimmo.

Neil Walker put the pressure on highlight-reel defender Javier Baez, who fielded a chopper at second base, didn’t have a play at home plate and made the split-second decision to throw toward backpedaling third baseman Kris Bryant. The Mets showed last October that little things matter in big-boy games, and the throwing error from a Gold Glove-caliber player suddenly gave them a 4-3 lead.  

“Getting beat’s one thing,” Lackey said. “But when you feel like you kind of gave one away – or let one go – that’s a different kind of loss.”

The Mets (41-37) might not have must-win games in July, but they needed some good news in “Panic City.” Steven Matz, who set off alarm bells this week with the disclosure he’s been pitching with a bone spur in his left elbow, managed to work into the sixth inning and throw 104 pitches, giving up homers to Bryant and Baez but limiting the damage to only three runs.

Yoenis Cespedes, who revived a lifeless lineup after last summer’s trade-deadline blockbuster, energized the Mets again with a big swing in the sixth inning, drilling a Lackey pitch 441 feet out to left field and onto the third deck, creating a 110-mph exit velocity with his 19th home run.

“New year, different team, different circumstances,” said Jake Arrieta, who lost Game 2 here last October, watching Daniel Murphy reach so far down for a curveball that his left knee almost scraped the dirt, driving it out for a momentum-shifting, first-inning, two-run homer. “We’ll probably relive some memories that weren’t very exciting.

“You never want to lose one step from a World Series. But, again, we had a team that was very young with a lot of rookies contributing. We gained a lot of valuable experience from those games, regardless of the outcome. And we’re obviously better for it this season with some new pieces. We look forward to ending in a little different fashion this year.”

The Cubs (51-27) still don’t have the answer for Mets closer Jeurys Familia, who finished off all four NLCS wins last October and is now 27-for-27 in save chances this season. Miguel Montero led off the ninth inning with a pinch-hit walk and Ben Zobrist followed with a double into right field before those all-or-nothing contact issues resurfaced.

Familia responded by striking out Bryant swinging – all six pitches were marked as sinkers clocked between 97 and 98 mph – and intentionally walking Anthony Rizzo to load the bases. Maybe this exposure will pay off in the playoffs, but Familia struck out Willson Contreras swinging and got Javier Baez to pop out to end the game. The Citi Field sound system started playing Ace Frehley’s “(I’m Back, Back in the) New York Groove.” Not that the Cubs were having flashbacks.

“We know the feeling of getting eliminated, getting swept, but I think we’re onto bigger and better things,” Bryant said. “We’re ready for it. Different year, different players here, different attitude.”