Rowan knows how Humber feels - almost


Rowan knows how Humber feels - almost

Philip Humber is one of only 21 pitchers in the history of major league baseball to record a perfect game.Geoff Rowan is the19th pitcherin the history of the state high school baseball tournament to register a no-hitter, the only one since 1997.But Humber is a pitcher by trade. Rowan is a catcher. When Neuqua Valley's junior right-hander threw a no-hit, seven-inning gem to beat Washington 11-0 in the semifinals of the Class AA tournament in 2007, he was a pitcher by circumstance.One of his team's best hitters, Rowan started in left field because the catcher was a senior. He also pitched in a five-man rotation, accounting for about 45 innings. He didn't see much duty on the mound until midway in the season. When the state series began, however, he was the No. 2 starter. He threw an 83 miles-per-hour fastball but his cutter was very effective."In high school, it was the first time I ever played outfield. I looked at myself as a catcher first, then a pitcher. As a sophomore, I would catch and then close. As a junior, I would pitch every fourth or fifth game and start in the outfield," Rowan said.So he was coach Robin Renner's choice to start against Washington in the state semifinals. He allowed only one base-runner, on second baseman Anthony Amadei's error. The game lasted only one hour and five minutes. Amadei and shortstop Rob Elliot made one good play after another. Elliot saved the no-hitter by cutting off a sharp grounder up the middle and throwing out the runner."I remember it was a quick game. We made a lot of plays. Defensively, we were on a whole other level," Rowan said. "And I was very quick on the mound. I didn't take time between pitches. I'd just get the ball (from the catcher), get the signal and throw it. No wasted energy."Sure, I was aware I was pitching a no-hitter. I was in a zone. You try not to think about it. But I'd rather know. It's an entirely different feeling. If you give up a hit in the first inning, it's over. But in the sixth inning, your arm feels good, you're throwing the ball exactly where you want to, you're confident no one will get a hit. You trust your fielders that they can make plays."Afterward, Rowan felt excitement and relief. He was excited that his team was going to the state final for the first time in school history. And he was relieved because the game was over and the no-hitter was in the book. He never came close to a no-hitter again.Rowan played a key role in Neuqua Valley's ride to the state championship in 2007 and to third place in the 2008 state tournament. He was an All-Chicago Area catcher as a senior and earned a scholarship to play baseball at Northwestern. He also played on a Chicago Sparks summer team that finished second in the 2008 World Wood Bat Classic.As a senior, Rowan also started in the state semifinals. But he lost 4-1 to eventual state champion Prairie Ridge. "A walk, an error on a double play ball and a couple of hits and I was back behind the plate in the fifth inning," he said."He was one of the toughest kids I've ever coached," said Renner, now in his 14th year at the Naperville school. "He willed himself to succeed. His preparation throughout the season, whether pitching or playing the outfield, was amazing. He was a great competitor."As a senior, we called him Bugs Bunny because he played all positions...pitcher, catcher, third base, outfield. In some games, he'd pitch, then catch after five innings. He also was one of our best hitters. He is one of the finest young men I have ever met, very unique, very mature for his age."Today, the 5-foot-9, 185-pounder is a senior at Northwestern. The starting catcher, he is hitting .350 with five doubles and has thrown out 30 of 48 base-runners or 65 percent, a statistic that would be the envy of any major league catcher.He is hoping that he will be selected in the major league draft on June 4-6. He has heard from at least two teams. "It's been my dream to play major league baseball since I was 5 years old. I would like to take (baseball) as far as I can," he said.If not, Rowan is well prepared for life after baseball. "Northwestern was the place for me. I'm majoring in political science. I want to get involved in politics. In 10 years, I'd like to be a lawyer. I've applied to some law schools. I want to get an MBA, then be a litigator or practice business law or maybe be a lobbyist in Congress," he said.Until he has to make a choice, or his choice is made for him, Rowan will continue to play the game he loves. And play the position he loves."I love catching. If it's up to me, I'd catch every single day," he said. "You have control of the game. Of course, you have to make the pitchers believe they run everything. But the catcher is in control of the game. I'm involved in every play."But for one glorious day in 2007, as a high school pitcher with an 83 mph fastball, he felt like Sandy Koufax.

[PHOTO] Joe Maddon, Miguel Montero patch things up over a drink

[PHOTO] Joe Maddon, Miguel Montero patch things up over a drink

Despite the Cubs ending their 108-year World Series drought, Miguel Montero made offseason headlines for all the wrong reasons when he complained about his role in the Cubs' 2017 championship campaign.

Montero criticized Maddon's communication skills, catching rotation and bullpen decision-making after the team's Grant Park celebration. Maddon brushed off the criticism, and last week at spring training Montero said he hadn't spoke with the Cubs' skipper.

That tension appears to be all but a thing of the past, as Montero posted this picture of him and his manager sharing a drink together sporting nothing but smiles.

It's safe to say Montero would describe his relationship with Maddon now as: #WeAreGood.

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks clash with Wild tonight on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks clash with Wild tonight on CSN

Watch as the Blackhawks take on the Minnesota Wild tonight on CSN and streaming live on Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Blackhawks Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

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Five Things to Watch:

1. Road warriors.

The Blackhawks have won six straight games away from the United Center, and are looking to make it a seventh in Minnesota tonight. They've scored the game's first goal in four of those wins, and in the other two, overcame 1-0 deficits to beat Dallas 5-3 and Edmonton 5-1, the latter of which they scored five unanswered goals.

2. Corey Crawford vs. Devan Dubnyk.

Crawford hasn't quite been the same since undergoing an emergency appendectomy on Dec. 3, but he turned in probably his best outing since then in the Blackhawks' last meeting against Minnesota on Feb. 8 when he stopped 35 of 38 shots in a 4-3 overtime win. He essentially stole two points, and prevented the Wild from picking up the extra one. Across from him tonight will be Dubnyk, who leads the league in wins (32), goals against average (1.97) and save percentage (.934).

3. Jonathan Toews on fire.

After a tough offensive drought earlier in the season that lasted longer than expected, the Blackhawks captain has six goals and 10 assists in his last 12 games, and upped his point total to 37, which now ranks fifth on the team. In the last meeting against Minnesota two weeks ago, Toews had a three-point night and scored the game winner in overtime. 

4. Mikael Granlund among league's most underrated players.

File Granlund under the category of players who don't get enough attention. He has 17 goals and 36 assists in 58 games this season, and his 53 points is tied with Jeff Carter and Artemi Panarin for 13th in the NHL's scoring race. The next highest point total on the Wild is Eric Staal with 45, an eight-point gap between him and Granlund. The 24-year-old forward registered his first career hat trick earlier this month, and also had a 12-game point streak just two weeks ago.

5. Ryan Hartman's closing in on 15 goals.

In Saturday's 3-1 loss to Edmonton, Hartman defended his teammate by fighting an Oilers defenseman that was practically twice his size. He called it a "no-brainer" to stick up for Tanner Kero and did well in the scrap, but it led to an Oilers power play and 10-minute misconduct which didn't do the Blackhawks any favors. He responded in a great way Sunday by scoring the game's first goal that helped his team win 5-1 in Buffalo. The next goal he scores will be No. 15, which would give the Blackhawks six 15-plus goal scorers on the year. They had only four a season ago.

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