My Kind of Town!

My Kind of Town!

Friday, November 6th

Its often tough to figure the art of being a fan. I could talk for days, and have, about its origins and meanings. Since I, and I would assume you, are way past that, well save that conversation for later. But, as always though, my fan issues are never far away. Take this last week, for me it was consumed by 2 things: The World Series and meeting Sandra Bullock on a press junket for the movie The Blind Side. One of these things left me with a smile and the other with heartbreak. Im sure you dont need to read any further to guess which was which, or do you?

For various reasons we all find ourselves being fans of certain celebrities. Accomplishments would hopefully be the main reason, but there are so many other variables on why one would be a fan of another person. As far as Sandra Bullock, I wouldnt say that I was a huge fan per say, but she always had something about her. As a guy, I first noticed that shes pretty easy on the eyes. What a great start! After that, the thing for me is that she appears to be cool, someone who gets it. Meaning shes the kind of girl you would meet at a bar watching a game, and she would be watching the game, not looking around the room to see whos looking at her.

As I read up on her before our meeting, much of her history would suggest this to be true. One thing Ive learned though is, as much as I study up on people, I need to go into our meeting with a clear mind and let nature take its course, so I tried not to be too expectant but I had a feeling that this might be fun. (Another thing that I knew was that I didnt want to discuss was her recent movie history, since after Speed, I didnt know a whole lot afterwards because shes had a propensity for making chick flicks. Of course I was FORCED to watch some of them, but my strategy in those situations is to transfer myself into a vegetative state with a smile on my face so as to show my enjoyment of the experience. The whole time Im hoping not to get caught with the blankness in my eyes that indicates without a doubt that Im not watching the TV, but instead going through the mental rolodex trying to figure out my favorite Three Stooges episode. Sure it was a good movie, honey. Im the evil spirit that guards the Rootin Tootin diamond!)

As I waited to enter the room where her interviews were being conducted, I was struck by the fact that everyone who was leaving the room did so with a smile and a glow. Once it was my turn to enter, it was easy to figure out why. Her openness and warmth was easily apparent, even during an interminable string of interviews which any mortal would find mind-numbing. (Especially mine Im sure!) Our conversation, stemming from a forced situation, was natural and easy. Wow! She is the girl next door. We started talking upon my entering the room and kept going past the work part, during which I never got the sense that she wasnt enjoying herself. Shes one of those people that have a natural ability to connect. She would have been a great bartender! (In fact, shes worked in and currently owns a restaurant. No surprise.) I left thinking shes cooler than I thought. I would recommend anyone to see the movie because of that alone. (Of course to get my official recommendation, and to see some of our conversation, youll have to watch my review on SportsNite on 1119 @ 10:30pm.)

So, as you might guess, Im now a big fan of Sandra Bullock. And thats the easy part of my fandom double-header. The other part wasnt as much fun, but no less enlightening. The World Series presented the interesting, to me anyway, combination of love and hate: My Philadelphia Phillies against the Evil Empire of the New York Yankees. Its hard to explain to someone from the Midwest about the feelings that the fans of other cities in the Northeast have towards ANY team from New York. Theyre the bully, the mean kid on the block, not to mention always tough to beat. From a lifetime going against them, victory, especially on an ultimate stage is elusive, to the point of knowing its probably not going to happen. And that was my mind-set going into this. Having won the title last year definitely took away some of the angst: Cant win every year, or appear to be greedy, but beating the Yanks and going back-to-back would be especially sweet.

As the Series got under way, something very Midwestern occurred. Ive often told folks from back east at the bar, that living here is great, that this is the biggest small-city in the world: Mayberry on steroids, the melting-pot of the Midwest. The constant here is that everyone is so nice. I experience it and hear about it from out-of-towners at the bar every day. There is something about the people here that even if you think differently, or root differently, thats o.k., youre allowed. I know Sox-Cubs can get bad, but after its over, its over. Sometimes a little friction isnt bad, besides theyre all unified in their love for the Bears. And from my experience, everyone here has at least one crazy relative that roots for the wrong side, teaching them tolerance of others that dont think right at an early age! So as Im about to root for the team of my youth, on the biggest stage, against THE team of professional sports, I was given constant encouragement by so many of my friends here. Texts, e-mails, phone calls, visits to the bar, you would have thought that I was actually playing. I know this probably happens to others elsewhere, but for me, it just reinforced my opinion of my adopted hometown. The people here are as sports-crazed as anywhere in the world and are no strangers to pain because of it. But in the end, its a game that youre rooting for, if it doesnt work out today, it will tomorrow. Its not the end of the world. If someone elses team is still playing, wish them well. So as many of my Cub brethren were still suffering with another untimely demise, they still found the time to offer me support on the fate of my team.

Unfortunately, it wasnt the fate that Id hoped. It still was a great ride though and the bitterness that Ive felt in the past after tough losses isnt there. (Well, lets sayas much!) Maybe, its because of increased perspective and maturity as I advance in my years. (I hope you found that last line as funny as I did!) No, its because Im tempered with the knowledge that life is more than what your team accomplishes and the people here teach me that every day. In fact, as I did my errands and went different places on Thursday, no one here seemed to care about the World Series result at all. In fact, it was just another beautiful fall day. Thank you Chicago! I needed that.

White Sox Talk Podcast: Jose Quintana trade rumors and SoxFest preview

White Sox Talk Podcast: Jose Quintana trade rumors and SoxFest preview

When will a possible Jose Quintana trade go from a watch to a warning?

Chuck Garfien, Dan Hayes, Ryan McGuffey and Chris Kamka break down the Quintana trade talks and what it will be like for him this weekend at SoxFest after months of trade rumors.

The guys also discuss what the White Sox roster might look like on Opening Day, and Hayes reveals his 2016 Hall of Fame ballot.

[SHOP WHITE SOX: Get your White Sox gear right here]

Plus listen for a special White Sox Talk Podcast giveaway: two free passes to SoxFest and the chance to play bags with Garfien and Todd Frazier at SoxFest.

Check out the latest episode below:

For Tom Rees, coaching gig at Notre Dame always seemed like an inevitability

For Tom Rees, coaching gig at Notre Dame always seemed like an inevitability

The last time Tom Rees played a game for Notre Dame, he was still known as Tommy Rees — but his coach put forth an offer that didn't come as a surprise to anyone in the press room at Yankee Stadium. 

"I'm a Tommy Rees fan for life," Kelly said after Notre Dame's 2013 Pinstripe Bowl win over Rutgers. "… He'll keep trying to play the game as long as he can. But I told him, he's got a bright future as a graduate assistant for Brian Kelly anytime."

Rees is joining Notre Dame as a full-time quarterbacks coach, not just as a coach-in-training graduate assistant role. The 24-year-old — whose father, Bill, has held a number of scouting roles in the NFL — only has two coaching stops on his resume, a graduate assistant role at Northwestern in 2015 and an offensive assistant job with the San Diego Chargers last year. But his lack of experience is more than made up for by the simple fact that, while at Notre Dame from 2010-2013, there was a well-established belief held by coaches and teammates that one day the Lake Bluff, Ill. native one day would coach in some capacity. 

"I'm very excited to have Tom join our staff," Kelly said in a statement Tuesday. "He possesses an understanding of the game, and most importantly the quarterback position, that's unique. He's a true student of the game and great communicator that will offer immediate dividends toward guiding our quarterback room.

"As a former quarterback at Notre Dame, Tom also has a rare ability to truly relate with the quarterbacks on our roster. He's literally sat in their seat, dealt with the ups and downs, faced the criticism, deflected the praise, and all that comes with playing the position at Notre Dame. He can genuinely mentor them — not only on the football field, but in the classroom and the community as well."

Rees effectively became a player/coach in 2012, when a July arrest for resisting law enforcement and illegal consumption of alcohol by a minor led to a one-game suspension that knocked him out of what was a four-person competition to be the team's starting quarterback. Everett Golson ultimately emerged from that fray, but Rees was a fixture as both a mentor to and a replacement for the redshirt freshman as the Irish rolled to the BCS Championship with an undefeated regular season record. 

Consider what Rees said about his relationship with Golson prior to the 2013 BCS Championship:

"There'd be a couple late night discussions," Rees said. "He'd ask me what I thought he needed to improve on, you know, don't hold anything back. And I told him the truth sometimes -- I told him the truth all the time, sometimes it wasn't what he wanted to hear. But any way I could help, and I've had a lot of fun working with him."

Rees' playing time that year was important, yet sporadic. So during the week and from the sidelines, he took more of a coach's point of view with the Irish offense, which teammates said was beneficial when he took over the starting job again in 2013 follow Golson's academic suspension. 

"Not being a stating quarterback, it's sort of pushed him to become more of a leader and more of a coach," former offensive lineman Chris Watt said before the 2013 season. "I think that helped him see the game a little bit differently than before." 

Rees will be primarily tasked with grooming redshirt sophomore Brandon Wimbush, a guy who some around the program thought was the most talented quarterback on Notre Dame's roster the last few years. Of course, Wimbush's offensive knowledge wasn't near the level possessed by Malik Zaire or DeShone Kizer, but his throwing and running ability are both mouth-watering traits that Rees will have a chance to mold.

That Rees is getting his coaching start in his mid-20's isn't particularly surprising. In many ways, has always been on track for this role, and maybe more (think offensive coordinator).

"When I finished my playing career and graduated from Notre Dame, I wanted to do two things," Rees said Tuesday. "First, I wanted to coach, and second, at some point in my career I hoped to get an opportunity to return and do it at my alma mater. I didn't know when or if this opportunity might present itself, but I'm so grateful and honored that it did. I'm ready to get things rolling with this great staff and group of student-athletes."