Just living the dream

Just living the dream

Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2010
4:34 PM

By Frankie O
CSNChicago.com

I just want to start off with a thank you to everyone who helped me with the raffle for F.I.R.S.T. and those who bought a ticket or made a donation. The final tally should be a little over 3000. Thats awesome!

Also awesome was the help of the Notre Dame athletic department in ensuring a wonderful experience for the winner and his entourage. One of my bar regulars (go figure!) was the lucky person. (I wont reveal his name here, but some do refer to him as, Shoe Alan.) That he was able to enjoy the game with his son made it even better for me.

They sent me pictures from their time on the sidelines and finished off their long day with a beverage at the bar, with whom I would think would be their new favorite bartender. How cool is that?!

As for myself, I had my own pretty cool experience last week. For just about as long as I can remember, Ive been going to the Thursday round of the Western Open. Of course when it was the Western, the tournament was played over the July Fourth weekend and drew huge crowds. That Tiger always played here, since he liked the course and liked hanging out with M.J. and taking his money in golf wagers, added to the excitement.

For the last three years the tournament has been moved to September, had a name change (The BMW Championship) and Tiger? Well, weve gone over that enough, but he still gets your full attention when you see him with a driver in his hand. Now usually, I like to walk the course once, eat a pork chop sandwich on fourteen, (you can smell them all over Cog Hill!) then pick a spot to hang out to watch the featured pairings come through, most times by the sixteenth green.

Ive had a lot of fun over the years, maybe even more since the changes have been made. One thing about the September date is that it isnt nearly as hot. For a big man lumbering around miles of hilly terrain, this is no small consideration. The other immediately noticeable thing about the September date, especially on a Thursday, is the size of the crowd. It has to be a third of what it was when it was held during the summer. And, for whatever the reasons, this year was the smallest gallery Ive ever seen following Mr. Woods.

As a golf fanatic, it doesnt get any better than to be able to get up-close to one of the top seventy in the world, walk the course with them, and see them do what they do. Or does it? One thing Ive never done too often, at any tournament, is to sit at eighteen for an extended length of time. Its always too crowded number one, and number two, since Im a commoner, I dont get to sit in the fancy-shmancy seats with the hoidy-toidys! Well, stop the presses!

Due to the largesse of another one of my regulars, (I wont reveal his name here, but some do refer to him as, Greek George.) I was able to enter a world that I could heretofore only dream existed. Its known as a luxury box. Whoa! We decided that before we walked around the course, we would see what the life of the privileged had to offer. It offers many, many things! After climbing stairs that reached to the heavens, we reached our destination. Inside, giant white leather furniture abounded, some of which conveniently surrounded large flat-screen TVs. On which if you were, say, a fan of the baseball team from the southside, you could watch their afternoon game while not missing the action on the green at 18. Thats because right outside the glass doors, were 5 rows of comfy, movie theatre style seats, overlooking the green.

After sampling one of each of the 20 food items being served, twice, and watching the Sox stumble to the end of the most disappointing 7-3 road trip ever, it was time to focus on golf. The fancy seats were no more crowded than the course below, which offered an ideal vantage point, without sacrificing comfort. Do I sound like I belonged? The next perk was something I did not expect but took full advantage of. Because who should be sitting in the seat one in front and one over from me? None other than Mr. Cub himself, Ernie Banks! Now Ive known Ernie for several years due to his frequent visits to the restaurant. And much like with Harry, many times as Im walking past his table, I seem to invariably find myself stopping by to hello, then get to meet a new cast of characters, and soon become engrossed in an entertaining conversation.

Ernie, like Harry, always seems to be surrounded by interesting people, and more to my amusement, is always surrounded by people doing or saying interesting things. This is due to the fact that Ernie, like Harry, is so approachable. But when people get close, they then realize who they are talking to and will say about anything in their nervousness. Always the gentleman, Ernie greeted all comers, even those who did not root for the Cubs (who always were harassed by the peanut gallery!) or those who might have been a little young to know who he was. The one constant though, and this is something that always come up when I talk to people about their Harry remembrances at the bar, is the connection that existed.

Everyone always has a story about a prior meeting that a loved one had before and the subsequent effect that prior encounter had. Or it was simple as someones father had been a big fan and they felt compelled to just say hello. Neat stuff. Turns out Ernie is a big golf fan, hes locked in, and especially a fan of Tiger. We sat discussing each group as they came in and what they needed to do depending on their approach shot. Soon enough, the beverages were flowing, the conversation was all over the road and we had watched about 13 groups come home.

Could 4 hours really have gone by? Since theres no one left on the course, I guess were not going to be doing much hiking today. The time just flew by, and it would soon be time to go back to the house and punch in. As I was on my way home, reflecting on what had just happened, I just laughed and thought to myself, well thats something you dont get to do every day! Then I laughed even harder when I thought that next year, Im going to be sitting in the same spot. Ive seen how the other half lives, and I like it!

92 Days to Kickoff: Plano

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92 Days to Kickoff: Plano

CSNChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting Jul. 31, we’ll unveil the @CSNPreps Top 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 25.

School: Plano

Head coach: Brad Kunz

How they fared in 2016: 7-3 (4-1 Interstate 8 Large), lost to Manteno in the 4A  opening round action.

2017 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 25 – Johnsburg

Sept. 1 – @ Harvard

Sept. 8 – Herscher

Sept. 15 - @ Sandwich

Sept. 22 - Manteno

Sept. 29 – @ Coal City

Oct. 6 - Streator

Oct. 13 - Reed-Custer

Oct. 20 - @ Westmont

Biggest storyline: Can the Reapers reload?

Names to watch this season: Senior DB Mauricio Perez Senior DB Alec Chavez

Biggest holes to fill: The Reapers will need to replace 20 graduated starters from a season ago, and that group also included several multi-year starters for Plano.

EDGY's Early Take: The Reapers no question have work to do this summer, yet head coach Brad Kunz and staff always finds a way for Plano to compete in the Interstate 8 conference and beyond.

Lyons Township's Ben Bryant leads list of top 5 uncommitted Illinois recruits

Lyons Township's Ben Bryant leads list of top 5 uncommitted Illinois recruits

With the end of the college football recruiting spring evaluation period this week, focus for college programs will turn towards uncommitted recruits in the 2018 class. While the Illinois class already has 16 of the top 25 names already verbally committed, many top names still remain available.

Here are my top five uncommitted names still available in the 2018 Illinois class.

Lyons Township QB Ben Bryant: Bryant (6-foot-3, 195 pounds), a three-star recruit, originally committed to Wisconsin in December but was dropped by the Badgers a few weeks ago. Bryant recently has added offers from Georgia, Western Michigan, Temple, Bowling Green and Cincinnati.

Bolingbrook DT Dashaun Mallory: Three-star Mallory (6-foot-3, 265 pounds) has been very impressive this winter and spring on the camp circuit. Mallory has eight offers so far from various FBS and FCS schools. Several Power 5 programs, including Michigan State and Purdue, are waiting on Mallory's test score and spring semester grades before they extend him a scholarship offer. Mallory could see his recruiting stock soar this summer and early fall.

Marist DL Gavin McCabe: McCabe is currently touting nearly 30 scholarship offers and hasn't yet narrowed down any list of favorite schools. However, McCabe (6-foot-3, 255 pounds) was planning to camp at a handful of schools this summer, including Wisconsin and a recent offer from Navy. McCabe was considering making a summer unofficial visit to the Naval Academy.

Bolingbrook WR I'Shawn Stewart: Stewart was originally planning to be verbally committed by now, yet increased college looks this spring made him hold off on a decision. Stewart, who currently has offers form the likes of Illinois, Iowa, Syracuse and NIU is planning to camp in early June with both Michigan State and Wisconsin. Stewart (5-foot-11, 165 pounds) is planning to narrow down his list of favorite schools after his camps and is also looking towards making a late June decision.

Marist TE T.J. Ivy: Ivy recently narrowed down his favorite schools to a top 4 (Illinois, Iowa, Indiana and West Virginia). Ivy (6-foot-5, 215 pounds) is still open to other schools and is also planning to make his college decision before the start of his senior year.