Preps Talk

5 Questions with...Daily Herald's Barry Rozner

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5 Questions with...Daily Herald's Barry Rozner

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 citys 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 guestan award-winning sports writer, columnist, author and radio host who has never been shy to express his opinions, even if they might upset some teams, players and fans from time to time ... he most recently received a major honor with his induction into Northern Illinois University's Northern Star Hall of Fame this past February ... if you don't catch him in the press box, you can check out his stellar columns in the Daily Herald and on the radio every Sunday from 9:00 AM 12:00 PM on 670 The Score ... get ready for 5 Questions with ... BARRY ROZNER!

BIO: A former vendor at all of Chicago's ballparks and stadiums during his college years, Barry Rozner has been a sports columnist for the Daily Herald since 1997, following a decade covering the Cubs first as a feature writer and then as the beat writer.

Rozner has won Peter Lisagor and Associated Press writing awards for his work as a columnist and sports writer, and includes among his national scoops the story that Phil Jackson would be named coach of the Bulls in 1989. In 2007, he was named "Sportswriter of the Year" by the Pitch & Hit Club of Chicago.

A graduate of Northern Illinois University, Rozner has written several books, including "Second to Home" with Ryne Sandberg, and "Where's Harry?" with Steve Stone. He's a frequent co-host on 670 The Score (WSCR-AM) and, in 2010, he began co-hosting the popular "Hit and Run" show with Matt Spiegel.

Rozner was honored by the Little City Foundation in 1998, and sits on the board of the James P. Lang Scholarship Foundation, which awards college scholarships to children of single parent homes.

Having finally given up the violence of hockey for the aggravation of golf, Rozner lives a mostly healthy existence with his family in the Northwest suburbs.

1) CSNChicago.com: Barry, with the NFL lockout upon us, many fans out there are hoping for a resolution by this summer at the latest. What specific aspect of this lockout concerns you most that may prevent the regular season from starting on time come this fall?

Rozner: Even if the players don't get their injunction, I'm not really all that concerned right now. The NFL's never been more popular and I don't think the owners really want to kill the golden goose. If it's August and the owners haven't come off their "billion-off-the-top" demand -- on top of the billion they already take off the top -- then it's time to worry. My belief all along has been that there will be at least a 16-game schedule in 2011. No amount of rhetoric or posturing is going to change my mind on that. I do think players skipping the draft is a foolish idea by the NFLPA and its already backfired on them from a public relations standpoint.

2) CSNChicago.com: As a journalist who covered the Bulls six-title championship run in the 90s, is it a big stretch to say this current off-the-charts talented Bulls team has the potential to also make a multiple-title run this decade? Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and even Michael Jordan himself stated this team can do it. Your thoughts?

Rozner: History suggests those predictions are hyperbolic at the very least. In the last 30 years, only the Isiah Thomas Pistons have won titles with a team featuring a point guard as by far its best player. The NBA has also traditionally been a league of steps, and the Bulls haven't taken the first step yet by winning a playoff series. However, all the free-agent movement of the last year has created a new NBA, where perhaps the Bulls can skip some of those steps. Derrick Rose will win a title in Chicago, maybe even a few. He won't rest until it happens and I'm convinced Rose will get there. Age is on their side and it's the enemy of teams like Boston. But it sounds crazy to talk about five or six titles at this point in their development.

3) CSNChicago.com: The defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks also have their sights set on a multiple title run themselves. In your opinion, what would you say are the top three key things that need to happen come mid-April to get this years squad on yet another solid track to playoff success?

Rozner: Health is absolutely No. 1. If they can dress their best roster, they're going to be a nightmare to play in the playoffs. Except for Detroit, every team in the West will fear them. If Roberto Luongo even hears the word "Blackhawks,'' he'll have to change his pants, girdle, garter, socks and skates. Second is effort. Jonathan Toews is always there, but there have been too many times this year when too many guys didn't show up. Third is defensive responsibility from the forwards. It doesn't work if the guys up front aren't maintaining puck possession, avoiding turnovers at the blue line and getting back to help. Not that you asked, but it's exciting to see the progress of Nick Leddy and the addition of Chris Campoli on defense.

4) CSNChicago.com: Congratulations on being inducted into NIUs Northern Star Hall of Fame last month. What did that honor mean to you personally and what advice do you have for aspiring young sports journalists out there hoping for a similar successful career in the media?

Rozner: It's humbling to be honored by your university. I don't know what else to say. Very proud, very surprised and very grateful. As for anyone who wants to get into this business, it's obviously evolving and I don't know what it's going to look like in the years to come, but if this is your dream then you should chase it. There are too many people in this world who will tell you what you can't do. Ignore them. Chase the dream and you can still succeed in journalism -- or succeed at anything -- if you're good and you're willing to work hard.

5) CSNChicago.com: Your Hit and Run with Spiegel & Rozner radio show on 670 The Score (Sundays from 9:00 AM-12:00 PM) is always a great listen, especially when you and Spiegs disagree on certain issues. With that said, tell us about the single, biggest sports-related disagreement you continue to have to this day ... and, in general, how often does Spiegel think hes right?

Rozner: I can't think of one of those really nasty fights where we wound up yelling at each other on The Score. We disagree on a lot of things, like old school vs. new school, stats vs. hunch and use of the bullpen. Spiegel hates the specialized bullpen roles. But it's a Sunday morning show and we go heavy on the information and the entertainment and try to give people an easy listen as they're shaking off their hangovers and driving the kids all over creation.

Now, you could have asked, "What do you and Dan Bernstein fight about most?'' That's easy: numbers in baseball. We've had some crazy arguments over new-age stats vs. scouting. He wouldn't want you to know this, but the truth is he's much more reasonable about it than he lets on and he's willing to grant me that some of his stats don't always tell the real story. But don't tell anyone I told you that, especially him.

BONUS QUESTION! CSNChicago.com: Anything you would like to plug Barry? Tell us, CSNChicago.com readers want to hear about it.

Rozner: Im easy to find at dailyherald.com, the Score, on Facebook and sometimes just rummaging through dumpsters. If I can be serious for a moment, I help with a lot of different charities, but have a particular soft spot for anything that involves children or any of the cancer charities. This is a really tough time for most charities because the economy is so dreadful, but if you can give at all, every little bit helps.

Rozner LINKS:

Daily HeraldBarry Rozner section

670 The ScoreHit and Run with Spiegel and Rozner

Barry Rozner on Facebook

High School Lites Week 9 football roundup

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High School Lites Week 9 football roundup

High School Lites featured plenty of great action on Friday night as NBC Sports Chicago had highlights of many of the area's top matchups. Some playoff dreams came to fruition while others crashed and burned. 

Watch tomorrow as the IHSA playoff brackets are revealed tomorrow on NBC Sports Chicago+ at 8 p.m. Be sure to also follow us on Twitter @NBCSPreps for all of the latest IHSA football scores and highlights. 

DRIVE: Prairie Ridge: Episode 10

Wintrust Athlete of the Week: Back of the Yards QB Jeremiah Harris

St. Xavier Team of the Week: De La Salle Meteors

Friday's Top 25 Games

No. 1 Lincoln-Way East 18, No. 19 Bolingbrook 14 

No. 2 Prairie Ridge 55, Dundee-Crown 14

No. 3 Maine South 56, Niles West 9

No. 4 Marist 42, Joliet Catholic 14

No. 5 Lake Zurich , Mundelein

No. 6 Phillips 53, Clark 0

No. 9 Homewood-Flossmoor 50, Sandburg 14

No. 10 Barrington 40, Conant 19

No. 11 Huntley 45, McHenry 7

No. 12 Naperville Central 35, Lake Park 21

No. 13 Hinsdale Central 42, Hinsdale South 14

No. 24 St. Charles North 35, No. 14 Batavia 28

No. 16 Wheaton North 20, Waubonsie Valley 10

No. 17 Crete-Monee 52, Cahokia 8

No. 18 St. Rita 47, Marmion 14

No. 20 Lyons 31, Oak Park-River Forest 14

No. 21 Nazareth 48, Marian Catholic 7

No. 22 Oswego 30, Plainfield Central 0

Mount Carmel 35, No. 23 Providence 34

Other Highlights

Tinley Park 29, Evergreen Park 0

T.F. South 21, Oak Forest 14

Glenbard North 24, Neuqua Valley 14

St. Edward 29, Wheaton Academy 28

Marian Central Catholic 44, St. Patrick 21

Saturday's Top 25 Games

No. 7 Loyola vs. Brother Rice

No. 8 Glenbard West vs. Proviso West

Cubs will be open for business as Theo Epstein weighs trading hitters for pitching

Cubs will be open for business as Theo Epstein weighs trading hitters for pitching

Theo Epstein answered questions from the Chicago media for more than an hour on Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field, but the most interesting part might have been what the Cubs president didn’t say, something along the lines of: These are our guys.

Or at least Epstein didn’t give the same full-throated endorsement of The Core that he delivered after engineering the Jose Quintana trade with the White Sox this summer, getting an All-Star pitcher without giving up anyone from the big-league roster.

Whether it’s the way the Los Angeles Dodgers dominated the Cubs throughout the National League Championship Series that ended Thursday night, the inconsistencies and frustrations during a 43-45 first half of this season or the reality of losing 40 percent of the rotation, you walked out of that stadium club press conference thinking big changes could be coming.

“We’re going to pursue all avenues to get better,” Epstein said.

The Cubs already understood this would be a challenging time to dramatically reshape their pitching staff, with Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta, Big Boy John Lackey and All-Star closer Wade Davis about to become free agents.

The Cubs don’t really have many (any?) high-end, headliner prospects left to trade after borrowing heavily from their farm system to acquire Aroldis Chapman for last year’s World Series run and get Quintana to help solidify the rotation through 2020.

All of Major League Baseball is looking beyond this winter and preparing for the monster free-agent class that will hit the open market after the 2018 season.

Meaning it’s time for the Cubs to make some difficult decisions about all these young hitters they’ve collected.

“It may or may not be,” Epstein said. “Those choices, they’re not unilateral things. You can’t sit there and decide: ‘Hey, this guy, we’re moving him.’ Because you don’t know what the return might be. You don’t know how the different moving parts might fit together.

“I think going into the offseason prepared to make some tough choices and execute on them — and keeping an open mind to anything — is appropriate under the circumstances where we have some obvious deficits and we have some real surplus with talented players who are really desirable.”

Let’s assume All-Star first baseman Anthony Rizzo, MVP third baseman Kris Bryant and catcher Willson Contreras are essentially untouchable.

The Cubs used the ninth overall pick in the 2015 draft on Ian Happ with the explicit idea that the college hitter should be on a fast track and could be flipped for pitching later: Is it time to sell high after the rookie just put up 24 homers and an .842 OPS?

During an exit meeting with Albert Almora Jr., Epstein said he couldn’t promise an everyday job in 2018, though the expectation would be more responsibilities: Think anyone else would be interested in a potential Gold Glove center fielder who’s already playoff-tested?

Do you want Addison Russell or Javier Baez as your everyday shortstop for the next four years? Is there an American League team willing to bet big that Kyle Schwarber will crush 40 homers a year as a designated hitter?

The Cubs have to ask themselves those types of questions, which could mean getting outside of their comfort zone and taking on some riskier pitching investments and sapping the strength that has turned them into the dominant force in the NL Central.

“We’ve really benefitted from having two or three extra — and ‘extra’ in quotes because they’re not really extra — starting-caliber players on the roster,” Epstein said. “That helped us win 97 games in ’15, 103 last year, 92 this year. That’s as big a part of the club as anything.

“Having an Addison Russell go down and being able to move Javy Baez to shortstop — that’s an obvious example of it. But those things show up every week for us. There’s a day where someone can’t make the lineup and someone else slides in and you’re still starting eight quality guys. That’s huge.

“Sooner or later, you reach a point where you have to strongly consider sacrificing some of that depth to address needs elsewhere on the club. There’s no sort of deadline to do that. But I think we’re entering the phase where we have to be really open-minded to that if it makes the overall outlook of the team and organization better.”

Translation: The Cubs are open for business. Make your best offer.