Cubs

5 Questions with...Sun-Times' Mary Mitchell

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5 Questions with...Sun-Times' Mary Mitchell

By Jeff Nuich
CSN Chicago Senior Director of CommunicationsCSNChicago.com Contributor

March 31, 2010

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

Every Wednesday 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 week...one of the most esteemed newspaper columnists in the nation whose award-winning work appears three times a week in the Chicago Sun-Times and is syndicated nationallyshe has been called THE voice for many Chicagoans who are never heard and has brought light to social issues in the inner city the average citizen doesnt even think aboutshe is a fighter and a championhere are 5 Questions withMARY MITCHELL!

BIO: Mary A. Mitchell is an editorial board member and columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times. She is a recipient of numerous journalism awards, including the prestigious Award of Excellence from the National Association of Black Journalists; the Studs Terkel Award from the Community Media Workshop; the Peter Lisagor Award from the Chicago Headliner Club; the Phenomenal Woman Award-Media from the Expo for Today's Black Woman; and the Humanitarian Award from the 100 Black Men of Chicago. In 2004, Crain's Chicago Business honored Mitchell as one of the 100 Most Influential Women in the city.

Mitchell earned a B.A. in Journalism at Columbia College Chicago. She joined the Chicago Sun-Times as an education writer in 1991, and has covered City Hall and the U.S. Federal Courts.

Community violence, sexual abuse of minors, the HIVAIDS epidemic in African-American neighborhoods, and racial attitudes in Chicago has inspired Mitchell to tackle these controversial subjects even when community leaders are silent.

Mitchell has been called "courageous" and "compassionate" by readers who trust her to give them a voice on issues ranging from police misconduct to the tragedy of Black-on-Black violence.

She is also an advocate for women.

As a news reporter, Mitchell exposed the sexual abuse of women in Illinois prisons. Those articles prompted the Illinois General Assembly to strengthen laws prohibiting prison guards from engaging in sex with inmates.

Today, Mitchell writes about a variety of topics, but her work often rallies African-American readers to empower their communities by promoting education and by protecting the most vulnerable members of our society-our children and our elderly.

Her column appears on Tuesday, Thursdays and Sundays and is distributed throughout the Midwest by United Media. Mitchell is also a frequent guest panelist on WTTW's Week in Review, and has appeared on national news programs, including, FOX-TV and The O'Reilly Factor.

1) CSNChicago.com: Mary, the recent signing of the much-debated health care bill on Capitol Hill seems to have created a deep divide not only among political party lines, but among U.S. citizens as well. What would you consider to be the single biggest hurdle going forward for the Obama administration to get everyone on the same pageor do you think this will always have controversy attached to it from here on out?

Mitchell: The deep divide has always existed between political parties and has broadened since the election of President Barack Obama. But I dont believe healthcare reform is the culprit. A lot of people are angry about their own financial situation, and do not feel that they are getting ahead. When that happens, people have to blame someone. Unfortunately, it is almost a sport in this country to blame the government.

2) CSNChicago.com: You have been a champion in your cause to continually raise awareness about gun violence in the inner city of Chicago. In your opinion, are city officials doing enough in your estimation to not only address this tragic issue, which has seen the loss of life for so many innocent children, but put steps in place to end it?

Mitchell: From supporting gun-control and anti-loitering laws to sponsoring after-school programs and safe havens, the Daley administration has tried to address the on-going violence that takes place in predominantly minority neighborhoods. But the truth of the matter is government does not have the resources needed to provide the level of part-time jobs and recreation required to keep vulnerable teens out of harms way. That the Chicago Board of Education is now trying to address this issue is an encouraging sign. But the families that live in these neighborhoods, private industry, churches and non-profits will have to step up as well.

3) CSNChicago.com: Outside of Michael Jordan, tell us who you think is the greatest athlete in Chicago sports history and why?

Mitchell: Are you kidding? If you remove Michael Jordan, then you are left with the Super Bowl Bears, right? I did buy my grandson an autographed photograph of Walter Payton, which I framed and hung up in his bedroom. Im not much of a sports fan, but if Michaels off-limits, the next best has to be Walter.

4) CSNChicago.com: Youve been honored countless times for your brilliant columns and overall body of work over the years. What columnists do you consider to be the best in your industry?

Mitchell: Right now, I am in love with Garrison Keillor.

5) CSNChicago.com: Your battle and eventual victory against breast cancer is something thousands of women and families across the country are dealing with at this very moment. How is everything going for you today and, a follow-up question, whats the single biggest bit of advice do you have for women out there who are scared to get a mammogram?

Mitchell: Im now officially a one-year cancer survivor, and honestly, I am beginning to feel like myself again. Had I not gotten regular mammograms, I probably would not be here today. My hair is growing back, and Im thinking about my health in a positive way (including actually getting my butt on a treadmill). For those women who have put off getting a mammogram and are afraid of the outcome, dont sweat it. The thought of what could be wrong is always worst than what actually is.

Mitchell LINKS:

Chicago Sun-TimesMary Mitchell columns

Chicago Sun-TimesMary Mitchell blog

Mary Mitchell on Facebook

In another huge playoff moment, Wade Davis stays cool while everything else around Cubs goes crazy

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USA TODAY

In another huge playoff moment, Wade Davis stays cool while everything else around Cubs goes crazy

This became a three-ring circus on Wednesday night at Wrigley Field, Cubs manager Joe Maddon screaming at the umpires, the video board showing the replay of Curtis Granderson’s swing and the crowd of 42,195 booing and chanting “BULLS#$!!”

The Los Angeles Dodgers are still in command of this National League Championship Series, but the Cubs won’t go quietly into the offseason, unleashing All-Star closer Wade Davis for the final two innings of a 3-2 thriller that kept them alive for at least another night.

The Cubs can worry about the daunting task of winning three more elimination games in the morning. Once Davis forced Cody Bellinger into the double-play groundball that left Justin Turner stranded in the on-deck circle and this one ended at 11:16 p.m., he pulled at his right sleeve and buttoned the top of his jersey while waiting for the Cubs to start the high-five line. “Go Cubs Go” blasted from the stadium’s sound  system and fireworks erupted beyond the center-field scoreboard and Davis acted as if nothing had happened.

To put the idea of beating the Dodgers three times in a row in perspective, the Cubs blasted three homers and got a classic big-game performance out of Jake Arrieta and still needed Davis for a heart-stopping, high-wire act.

Maddon already ruled out Davis for Thursday night’s Game 5 after the closer fired 48 pitches – or four more than he did during last week’s seven-out save that eliminated the Washington Nationals. But at least the Cubs will have those decisions to make instead of cleaning out their lockers.

“I don’t know,” Davis said. “We’ll definitely come in tomorrow and get some treatment and go out and play catch and see how I feel.”

It looks like Davis doesn’t feel anything on the mound. Davis didn’t react to Turner chucking his bat and yelling into the visiting dugout after crushing a 94-mph fastball for a home run to begin the eighth inning. Davis didn’t seem bothered by Yasiel Puig flipping his bat after drawing a walk. And Davis never lost his composure while Maddon got ejected for the second time in four NLCS games.

Maddon flipped out at home plate umpire Jim Wolf – and really the entire crew – when what was initially called a swinging strike three on Granderson got overturned and ruled a foul tip.

“Wade doesn’t care about any of that,” first baseman Anthony Rizzo said. “That’s the right guy to have on the mound. With the mentality he has, he’s going to strike the guy out on the next pitch. Obviously with the replay, it’s not easy to keep your composure. But he’s just different. He’s a different animal.”

While the fans at Wrigley Field got loud and turned angry, Davis chatted with catcher Willson Contreras: “I was just trying to think of the next pitch I was going to throw if he ended up staying in the box.”

Davis got Granderson (0-for-4, four strikeouts) swinging at strike four, walked Yasmani Grandal and then blew away Chase Utley with a 95.1-mph fastball, needing 34 pitches to finish the eighth inning. Davis wasn’t finished, using a Kris Bryant bat to hit against Dodger lefty Tony Cingrani, fouling off five pitches before striking out looking at a 94.9-mph fastball.

“Yeah, I gave up there after a little bit,” Davis said with a look that sort of resembled a smile. “He was bringing it pretty good, and I hadn’t seen a baseball in a while coming in like that.”

If the Cubs are going to match the 2004 Boston Red Sox – the only other team to come back from an 0-3 deficit since the LCS format expanded to seven games in 1985 – they are going to need the offense to generate more runs, a great start from Jose Quintana on Thursday night and someone else to run out of the bullpen. Not that Davis is ruling himself out for Game 5.

“Go get some sleep and then come in tomorrow and start getting ready,” Davis said.

Jake Arrieta stars at Wrigley Field and doesn’t believe this is The End for Cubs: ‘Hopefully, it’s not a goodbye’

Jake Arrieta stars at Wrigley Field and doesn’t believe this is The End for Cubs: ‘Hopefully, it’s not a goodbye’

It’s not Jake Arrieta getting greedy and the Cubs being cheap when he holds up another jersey in a different city this winter, smiling for the cameras while super-agent Scott Boras watches the press conference unfold, marketing an ace to a new audience.

Even Arrieta admits that if he had Theo Epstein’s job, he would do the exact same thing, letting it play out until a 30-something pitcher hits the free-agent market. And Epstein wouldn’t have left the Boston Red Sox and taken over baseball operations at Clark and Addison if he didn’t believe in the need for change, to get outside the comfort zone and test yourself.

It’s just business, but this still felt very personal on Wednesday night at Wrigley Field, Arrieta probably making his last start in a Cubs uniform while the defending World Series champs survived an elimination game against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Three straight trips to the National League Championship Series might have spoiled Cubs fans to the point where standing-room-only Game 4 tickets were selling for $60 on StubHub less than an hour before the 8:01 p.m. first pitch.

By 10:13 p.m., the crowd of 42,195 started booing when manager Joe Maddon popped out of the dugout in the seventh inning to take the ball from Arrieta after 111 pitches. It turned into a standing ovation as Arrieta walked off the mound and tipped his cap, his shaved head set against a mountain-man beard.

“Hopefully, it’s not a goodbye,” Arrieta said after a dramatic 3-2 win, surrounded by reporters at his locker. “It’s a thank you, obviously. I still intend to have another start in this ballpark.

“If that’s where it ends, I did my best and I left it all out there. But we’ve won four in a row plenty of times this year. And there’s no reason we can’t do it again.”

So many times, Arrieta has been worth the price of admission, must-see TV through two no-hitters and those two World Series games he won on the road last year against the Cleveland Indians. None of this would have been possible without the Cubs finding a winning lottery ticket in that Scott Feldman flip deal with the Baltimore Orioles on July 2, 2013.

“I took a little bit of extra time in between pitches,” Arrieta said, “just to look around, foul pole to foul pole, behind home plate, just to relish it and take it in. You got the fans on their feet, pulling on the same side of the rope. It breeds some added energy.

“I had that mindset of I’m going to do everything in my power to get it to tomorrow.”

Arrieta’s pitches dart and dive in directions that even he can’t always control, but he has guts, swing-and-miss stuff (nine strikeouts) and the ability to work through traffic. He gave up five walks, hit Chase Utley with a pitch and watched as Cody Bellinger hammered a ball off the video-board ribbon in right field for a third-inning homer.

But lefty reliever Brian Duensing backed Arrieta up with two outs and two runners on in the seventh inning, forcing Bellinger to lift a flyball into shallow left field, keeping it a 3-1 game and setting the stage for a two-inning Wade Davis save.

“Jake was amazing,” Davis said. “He was throwing Wiffle balls, it looked like. Guys were just swinging at balls that started in on the zone and finished a foot off the plate. He’s just got some amazing stuff.”

For perspective on how far this franchise has come, just look at the lineup from Arrieta’s first spot start as a Cub, the second game of a July 30, 2013 doubleheader against the Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field:

David DeJesus, CF
Junior Lake, LF
Anthony Rizzo, 1B
Dioner Navarro, C
Luis Valbuena, 2B
Starlin Castro, SS
Cody Ransom, 3B
Cole Gillespie, RF

The Cubs actually sent Arrieta back to Triple-A Iowa for two more starts that summer, part of a mental/mechanical reset and the service-time calculus that would delay his free-agency clock by a year.

By 2015, Arrieta’s raw talent and natural confidence converged with a young, inexperienced team that caught fire in the second half, his Cy Young Award campaign fueling 97 wins and the momentum for chairman Tom Ricketts to authorize a spending spree on free agents that almost totaled $290 million.

"That was pretty special,” Maddon said. “I've never witnessed on the field that kind of consistent performance from a pitcher. It was other-worldly, right down to the wild-card game.

“My God, you pretty much knew if you scored one or two runs, you're going to win that night somehow. I don't know how this is going to look moving forward. But I know one thing, man, that one year of watching him play was different. It was a throwback to the ‘60s kind of pitching (I watched) as a kid.

“He's special – his work ethic and who he is and how he goes about his business. He's a very special young man.”

But Arrieta really isn’t in the mood to wonder if this is the end scene to this chapter of his life.

“There’s a little thought of that, yeah, because you never know,” Arrieta said. “But at the same time, now that the game’s over, it’s out of sight, out of mind. The thought process for me now is to be ready if I’m needed.”