Cubs

Frankie O: Summer FUNdraiser

Frankie O: Summer FUNdraiser

By Frankie O
CSNChicago.com

The All-Star break is always welcome around my house: No games, which means Im not watching games on three TVs to get my roto fix. And it also means Im not looking at my phone for updates every five minutes for the games I dont have on! Its always good to take some time to recharge and get ready for what Im sure will be a long second half. (Im really starting to wonder if all the time I spend scavenging two different waiver wires for anything that can help my plight is good for my overall health!)

Baseball is never far away though. It will always be the soundtrack for every summer as long as I live. The game took a hold of me a long time ago and wont let go. Unfortunately, at my age, almost all of my interaction comes from watching others play. But Im OK with that. As long as one of my kids wants to have a catch with their old man once in a while, Im fine.

This year, for the first time I can remember, I didnt watch the Home Run Derby. It was fun in the beginning, but lately its been like watching paint dry. Think the NBA Slam Dunk contest, but only over two full hours. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ. The Josh Hamilton thing in Yankee Stadium a couple of years ago was cool, but in the convoluted rules of the contest, he didnt even win. I know chicks dig the long ball, but this is getting a little ridiculous.

Then the game was not much better. After the NL went up 5-0 in the top of the first, most of the bar tuned out the game. So much for all the hype! As a fan, I still enjoy the whole process, but I think I enjoy finding out whos in and whos out more than the game itself. I also get a kick out of when they bring in the old-timers, also known as the heroes of my long ago youth. George Brett looks like he could still hit .300. There are still some great individual matchups, but its still an exhibition, no matter what Mr. Selig is trying to sell you.

And add to it, there are no Thursday games this year so it was a full four-day break. Am I the only one who thinks it feels longer than that? This week TGIF is really that.

Something that really has me excited and was something that I focused on during my free time is a fundraiser that Im helping organize. I know reading that word makes some folks eyes glaze over, but Id appreciate if you read on.

I know its hard to go 10 minutes in this life without anyone asking for something, but I would hope we can all find at least one thing that helps us give back. If we all find one, trust me, we would all be better off. It doesnt take much, and the reward, not that one is being sought, is always the payoff.

My feeling on such an endeavor is that, if you plan an event, just make it fun. I try not to focus on the overall financial aspect, since I do believe that every little bit helps.

Most of all, it is always about the interactions of every one participating that Im most into and aware of. (Once a bartender, always a bartender!) In other words: I want everyone to feel great about coming, have a good time, and realize how much their simple act of kindness means to so many others.

As Ive written many times, my life changed forever once my first child was born. It opened my eyes to a whole new world that I had never seen before. (It also opened up a whole new audience for stories to entertain with at the bar. Who knew there were so many parents out there?!)

Having a child born with some issues opened them even more. In the beginning there were a lot of sleepless nights and unanswered questions. You know the kind of questions that I mean. But not being the negative sort, and also realizing this situation was never going away, I got back to reality and tried to deal with everything head-on. Of course, that is my way and not necessarily how everyone would react. I completely understand anyone that struggles with what seems like the worst news possible. It really is tough to grasp. Maybe in a way, my own forward progress was a bit of denial, but in the situation, you do whatever it takes.

As I mentioned here last week (and several other times before) the beacon for me and my family was our doctor and the organization that she has been a major part of: The Foundation for Ichthyosis and Related Skin Types. (FIRST)( www.firstskinfoundation.org.) What my son, and just about every other affected associated with the foundation, has is very rare, at least as a measure of the general population. The number in this country could be in the multiple millions. The meaning of this last sentence is that funding for cures and research, not to mention people with the ability to do the work, is not as abundant as a lot of other diseases or disorders. The word Ive sometimes heard used for Ichthyosis disorders is orphan. Meaning there are not a lot of national entities devoted to them.

In this case it means that anyone connected in any way to anyone who has been affected by these disorders has to do all they can to help raise funds to support the organization that is fighting to better their lives every day.

FIRST has positively affected the lives of everyone that I have met that is associated with the organization. And Im not just talking about people like myself, who were forced to join!

Think about that. That is pretty cool.

That comes from the positive energy being created by a relatively small group of people who want to help people and make a difference in the lives of others.

You can imagine the guilt I feel when Im with these folks and mention how much my time spent on my fantasy team is paying off!

So this is where I get to the point. (Insert trumpeted fanfare here!)

I want to help out and raise money, and in the spirit of who I am, Im trying to do it in one of my favorite settings. Thats right, at a baseball game.

The Chicago White Sox have been gracious enough to offer an opportunity where, in a group of tickets that they are holding for FIRST, they will give the foundation back half the amount of every ticket that we are able to sell. How cool is that?

For me this is the perfect fundraiser. It gives family and friends time to spend together at a ballpark and at the same time doing something very important.

I envision a night with kids wearing gloves hoping to catch a ball from their (new) favorite slugger, laughter coming from groups of adults socializing (or social drinking) while watching Chicagos FIRST (Coincidence?!!) place team, or a weight-challenged father dealing with mustard drippings on his previously white, Sox jersey, from the consumption of one too many hot dogs because he is driven crazy by the smell of sauted onions as he enters the stadium. (Was that really one sentence? Boo-ya!)

So if youre not doing anything on the evening of Wednesday, August 8, (8-8-12) get a hold of me through the information below, or through FIRST, and come join us for a game and a good time.

I know for a fact, when you leave the game, youll be glad you were there. It always feels good to be a part of something special.

Hope to see you there!!

FIRST NIGHT AT THE WHITE SOX

Wednesday, August 8th @ 7:10 pm vs. the Kansas City Royals
Bleacher seats, 34 each, with half the money being donated to FIRST!
Contact: Frank Osowski Frankieo@harrycarays.com

FIRST is a registered 501(c)(3)nonprofit entity.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Andre Dawson talks about his Cubs reunion

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Andre Dawson talks about his Cubs reunion

Carmen DeFalco (ESPN 1000) and Jordan Bernfield join Kap on the panel. Anthony Rizzo returns to the Cubs after an emotional weekend home while Tom Ricketts expects another World Series parade. Plus Hall of Famer Andre Dawson joins Kap to talk about his Cubs reunion and how the current crop unsigned free agents compares to his experiences with collusion. 

Strikeout machine Alec Hansen wants to be the best ... OK, one of the best

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AP

Strikeout machine Alec Hansen wants to be the best ... OK, one of the best

GLENDALE, Ariz. — On a day when Jose Abreu and Yoan Moncada took live batting practice for the first time this spring, off in the distance was a lanky White Sox prospect standing in the outfield grass.

But Alec Hansen was doing more than shagging flies. He was watching both hitters very closely.

“I was looking to see how much pop they had,” Hansen said of Abreu and Moncada. “I kind of look at that to see the difference in power between minor league ball and the major leagues. It’s nice to see it’s not a huge difference. That makes me feel a bit more comfortable.”

At 6-foot-8 — actually 6-foot-8-and-a-half, according to his spring training physical — Hansen is a big man with big plans for his baseball career. He might be quiet on the outside, but he has booming expectations for himself on the inside.

“I want to be the best,” Hansen said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago.

The best? The very best?

That’s what Hansen aspires to become, though later in our conversation, he did dial back a notch, settling for becoming “one of the best.”

Either is fine with manager Ricky Renteria, who is overseeing these uber-confident White Sox prospects and accepts their lofty expectations.

“I think their mindset is where it’s supposed to be,” Renteria said. “None of these kids are concerned or consumed with the possibility of failure. Much more they’re consuming themselves with the understanding that they might hit some stumbling blocks, but they’re going to have a way to avoid overcoming them and push forward and be the best that they can be.”

In his first full season in the White Sox organization, Hansen led the minor leagues with 191 strikeouts. He’s proud of that accomplishment but admitted something: He’s not that impressed because he didn’t do it where it really matters — in the major leagues.

When you watch Hansen pitch, it’s easy to see that the talent is there. His coaches and teammates rave about his ability. With his enormous size and power arm, he is loaded with strengths.  

Though there is one weakness that Hansen acknowledges he needs to work on.

“Sometimes I have a tendency to think too much and worry. I think worrying is the worst thing that I do just because I want to be perfect,” Hansen said. “I think everyone wants to be perfect, some more than others, and I worry about things getting in the way of achieving perfection.”

To Hansen, that doesn’t mean throwing a perfect game. He actually takes it one step further.

He wants to strikeout every single hitter he faces.

“I love striking people out,” Hansen said. “Not having to rely on anyone else and just getting the job done myself and knowing that the hitter can’t get a hit off me. That’s a great feeling. That they can’t put it in play. Like a line drive out. That’s terrible.”

At some point, Hansen will have to lower these impossible expectations for himself. This is an imperfect game. There’s no place for nine-inning, 27-strikeout performances. Players end up in the Hall of Fame because they learn how to succeed with failure.

In the meantime, Hansen is here in big league camp watching and learning anything and everything.

“I’m a good observer. I listen. I don’t really talk too much. I’m a pretty quiet guy. I like to sit back and observe and see how these guys go about their business. Just trying to be at their level, hopefully one day surpass them.”

Surpass?

“It’s kind of hard to surpass some of these guys. I mean, they’re at the tip-top, like the pinnacle of the sport,” Hansen said. “I guess you could say, to get on that level and then be one of the best in the league.”

He might be on his way.