Cubs

5 Questions with...Billy Dec

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5 Questions with...Billy Dec

CSN Chicago Senior Director of Communications
CSNChicago.com Contributor

Want to know more about your favorite Chicago media celebrities? CSNChicago.com has your fix as we put the city's most popular personalities on the spot with everyone's favorite local celeb feature entitled 5 Questions with...

On Wednesdays, exclusively on CSNChicago.com, its our turn to grill the local media and other local VIPs with five random sports and non-sports related questions that will definitely be of interest to old and new fans alike.

This weeks guest ... one of the nations premier and most popular dining and entertainment entrepreneurs -- however, our guest this week is more than that ... he's become a city leader for his 24/7 philanthropic work helping those in need around the world ... plus, his venues around the city continue to attract the biggest names in both sports and entertainment a Chicago native who continues to give our city a good name, here are 5 Questions with ... BILLY DEC!

BIO: Billy Dec is an Emmy Award Winning Entertainment TV Host and CEO ... Founder of Rockit Ranch Productions, Chicago's premier restaurant and entertainment development company, specializing in the creation, marketing and management of some of the city's top venues including Rockit Bar and Grill, Rockit Wrigley, The Underground and most recently his New Asian restaurant Sunda.

Dec's educational background includes the University of Illinois where he majored in EconomicsPre-Law, Chicago-Kent College of Law & the Harvard Business School. He has received numerous awards including Operator of the Year from the Nightclub & Bar Conference, Excellence in Business Award from the State of Illinois, the Asian American Hall of Fame Award, The Byrne Piven Community Service Award and the Cook County States Attorneys Asian Pacific American Community Leadership Award and Chicago-Kent College of Law Alumni Professional Achievement Award.

Dec is also actively involved in various committees and boards for non-profit organizations in Chicago, including: American Cancer Society; Make-A-Wish Foundation; After School Matters; the formerly held Chicago 2016 Olympic Committee, where he served as Director of Cultural Relations; and Lookingglass Theatre Company. Billy also enjoys participating annually in Mayor Daleys Chicago Public Schools Principal for a Day.

Dec writes his own blog on www.BillyDec.com about Chicago and its culturally rich entertainment landscape, where his contact info, press pages and upcoming events calendar are also posted, along with his much talked about www.twitter.combillydec & www.facebook.combillydec.

1) CSNChicago.com: Billy, thanks for taking time out of your always-hectic schedule to spend a few minutes answering the 5 Questions we have for you today. Lets get right to it ... your success story is off-the-charts impressive as you have grown your brand to levels that other business entrepreneurs can only dream about. Outside of your own personal drive and vision, what would you say has been the single most important element to the overall success of your business ventures?

Dec: Finding great partners, managers, employees...who share the same passion, ethics, drive, commitment, vision ... has really been the key for our successful growth thus far. Granted, that has taken a lot of personal drive to figure out, work for & develop, but our team is the most important part of our success. Not me, trends, location, celebrity, pricing, design, recipes or any one person or one thing out there. And by the way, for those that think that is a B.S. easy answer that I'm just throwing out there to be politically warm fuzzy & swell, try building a well-working team of 500 primarily young aggressive adults in one of the most cut- throat, high-pressured industries with the highest expectations from consumers in the middle of the worst recession we have ever seen.

2) CSNChicago.com: Youve received countless honors for both your business and philanthropic efforts, including recognition from President Obama. Some truly amazing accomplishments in your not even decade-old career. However, there's one accomplishment in particular that is very intriguing to us and thats your Emmy-winning documentary, Journey to Sunda. Tell us what prompted you to take that voyage to Asia and specifically how it influenced you to open up one of Chicago's most popular new eateries, Sunda.

Dec: We knew we wanted to open a unique Asian concept before the travel. In fact, all the travel through Japan, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Singapore was strategically planned to insure we were able to discover new things that didn't really exist in Chicago yet, so that it would be unique in food, presentation, culture, philosophy, design & more. As we have always prided ourselves on being innovators & filling voids in the entertainment & hospitality scene in what we think is the greatest city in the world Chicago, the video just naturally evolved out of our love for entertaining and telling the story.

I first compiled my travel pics into a book, then responded to requests for a copy of my book by making and gifting a thousand of them to friends and customers, then responded to even more requests to see the story of our discovery through word of mouth. So I compiled it all into a mini travel doc that I posted to the internet called "Journey to Sunda! It was a hit, it filled a void, it was innovative and a great story. Tomorrow morning, I actually leave for Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand... as the Journey never ends. Follow that story on my Twitter & Facebook as I love sharing in real time now!

3) CSNChicago.com: As we all well know, Chicago is no doubt one of the worlds premier and diverse cultural gems. In your opinion, what makes Chicago and its citizens unique when compared to, lets say, New York or LA for example?

Dec: When I was Director of Cultural Relations for the Chicago 2016 Olympic Committee, I asked 50 celebrity friends a very similar question on camera and aired one a day each day leading up to the official decision in Copenhagen (all on www.aChicagoThing.com ... a must see ...they are so good)! I agree with them when most shared how Chicagoans were a very unique & desirable mix of personable, reasonable, hardworking, honest, diverse, sports loving, food savvy, proud, sophisticated, hospitable, cosmopolitan, grounded... people from all different backgrounds who just love their community.

4) CSNChicago.com: In addition to everything else you have going on, you have been featured lately as an actor in several movies and TV series. Is this a new direction you see yourself focusing on even more in the years to come or is it more of a side hobby for you?

Dec: Part of me wants to say acting is a hobby because I kind of just picked it up & I love it. The other part of me says its still business as we always look to entertain in new ways at Rockit Ranch, which acting ultimately is, and I love what I do here no matter what it is!

I really haven't thought about it enough, I guess? I mean, its such an amazing experience to be on a huge set like "Entourage" or "Nightmare on Elm Street"...or a small stage pretending to be someone else. I will say, having hosted TV shows NBC & Metromix in the past, it has given me a lot of confidence in getting in front of the camera to entertain in whatever capacity. So I guess we'll just have to see. Here is my reel if want to see some of my past stuff!

5) CSNChicago.com: For any young entrepreneurs out there aspiring to be a Billy Dec one day, what would you consider to be the three most important steps in becoming a success in business -- and life for that matter?

Dec: Hmmmm...here is a link to some lessons my dad taught me before he passed away. Maybe this will help.

BONUS QUESTION! CSNChicago.com: This will definitely be an easy one. Are there any upcoming Rockit Ranch Production events or charitable functions you can share with CSNChicago.com readers? Tell us, we want to hear about them!

Dec: We allllllwaaaaays have stuff going on! Follow me on Twitter and Facebook to be the first to hear the invites announced and to be connected to all of the goodness as it happens!

Dec LINKS:

Billy Dec Official Website

Rockit Ranch Productions Official Website

Rockit Bar and Grill

The Underground

Sunda New Asian

Billy Dec on Facebook

Billy Dec on Twitter

Why did Kris Bryant get a first-place vote in this year's National League MVP balloting?

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USA TODAY

Why did Kris Bryant get a first-place vote in this year's National League MVP balloting?

Kris Bryant was the 2016 National League MVP. And despite having what could be considered an even better campaign this past season, he finished seventh in voting for the 2017 edition of the award.

The NL MVP was awarded to Miami Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton on Thursday night, a fine choice, though it was nearly impossible to make a poor choice, that's how many fantastic players there were hitting the baseball in the NL this season.

After Stanton, Cinicinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto finished second, earning the same amount of first-place votes and losing out to Stanton by just one point. Then came Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado, Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon and Washington Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon ahead of Bryant.

But there was someone who thought Bryant deserved to repeat as the NL MVP. Yes, Bryant earned a first-place vote — as did everyone else mentioned besides Rendon, for that matter — causing a bit of a social-media stir considering the Cubs third baseman, despite his great season, perhaps wasn't as standout a candidate as some of the other guys who finished higher in the voting.

So the person who cast that first-place vote for Bryant, MLB.com's Mark Bowman, wrote up why he felt Bryant deserved to hoist the Kenesaw Mountain Landis Memorial Baseball Award for the second straight year.

"In the end, I chose Bryant because I believe he made the greatest impact, as his second-half production fueled the successful turnaround the Cubs experienced after the All-Star break," Bowman wrote.

"Though I don't believe the MVP must come from a playoff contender, in an attempt to differentiate the value provided by each of these three players (Bryant, Votto and Stanton), I chose to reward the impact made by Bryant, who produced the NL's fourth-best OPS (.968) after the All-Star break, when the Cubs distanced themselves from a sub-.500 record and produced an NL-best 49 wins."

It's easy for Cubs fans and observers to follow that logic, as the Cubs took off after the All-Star break following a disappointing first half. As good as Bryant was all season long, his second-half numbers, as Bowman pointed out, were especially great. He hit .325 with a .421 on-base percentage and a .548 slugging percentage over his final 69 games of the regular season, hitting 11 home runs, knocking out 21 doubles and driving in 35 runs during that span.

Perhaps the craziest thing about this year's MVP race and Bryant's place in it is that Bryant was just as good if not better than he was in 2016, when he was almost unanimously named the NL MVP. After slashing .292/.385/.554 with 39 homers, 102 RBIs, 35 doubles, 75 walks and 154 strikeouts in 2016, Bryant slashed .295/.409/.537 with 29 homers, 73 RBIs, 38 doubles, 95 walks and 128 strikeouts in 2017.

Of course, the competition was much steeper this time around. But Bryant was given the MVP award in 2016 playing for a 103-win Cubs team that was bursting with offensive firepower, getting great seasons from Anthony Rizzo (who finished third in 2016 NL MVP voting), as well as Dexter Fowler and Ben Zobrist. While the Cubs actually scored more runs this season and undoubtedly turned it on after the All-Star break on a team-wide basis, Bryant was far and away the best hitter on the team in 2017, with many other guys throughout the lineup having notably down years and/or experiencing down stretches throughout the season. Hence, making Bryant more, say it with me, valuable.

So Bowman's argument about Bryant's impact on the Cubs — a team that still scored 822 runs, won 92 games and advanced to the National League Championship Series — is a decently convincing one.

Check out Bowman's full explanation, which dives into some of Bryant's advanced stats.

HandiKapping presented by Xpressbet

HandiKapping presented by Xpressbet

In the latest edition of HandiKapping presented by Xpressbet, NBC Sports Chicago's David Kaplan makes his picks for the weekend.

Kap made his picks with the help of Eddie Olczyk this week.