Cubs

Illinois' All-Time baseball team

642606.png

Illinois' All-Time baseball team

Illinois' all-time baseball team is unique for at least two reasons: It features eight Hall of Famers, including three from the Nokomis area. And a ninth, Jim Thome, a designated hitter who has hit more than 600 homers, will likely punch a ticket to Cooperstown after he finally retires.The infield is set with Jim Bottomley at first, Red Schoendienst at second, Lou Boudreau at shortstop and Freddie Lindstrom at third. Kirby Puckett is one outfielder, Ray Schalk is the catcher and Red Ruffing and Robin Roberts are the starting pitchers.That was easy, right?Well, not really. Ruffing and Roberts were chosen over another Hall of Famer, Joe McGinnity, from Cornwall Township in Henry County. He won 246 games and had an ERA of 2.66 in 10 seasons from 1899 to 1908. He had seven 20-win seasons and two 30-win seasons. He pitched the Giants to the World Series championship in 1905.Nicknamed "Iron Man" because he once worked in an iron foundry, his nickname came to convey his longevity and durability. He routinely pitched in both games of doubleheaders and is said to have won more than 500 games in his professional career. He pitched his last game at age 52. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1946.So there are nine virtual locks on Illinois' all-time team. What about the other two outfield positions?It is difficult not to include Greg Luzinski in one outfield spot. A graduate of Niles Notre Dame, he made the phrase "Lu-Power" a household word among major league scouts who often compared future prospects to Luzinski's long-ball prowess.Luzinski, a 6-foot-1, 255-pounder, joined the White Sox after playing a key role in the Phillies' drive to the world championship in 1980. His two game-winning hits in the National League playoff series against the Astros paved the way for their World Series victory over the Royals. In 1983, he hit a then record 32 homers for a designated hitter.The other outfield post? One-time Cub Dave Kingman gets the nod, at least for the time being over rising star Curtis Granderson. Kingman hit 442 homers in his career. He is the first player to hit 400 or more homers without being inducted into the Hall of Fame.Here is Illinois' all-time team:Firstbase:Jim Bottomley, Nokomis: Described as "the best clutch hitter I ever saw" by one-time Cubs manager Frankie Frisch, Bottomley drove in 100 or more runs for six years in a row for the Cardinals. He set a major league record with 12 in one game. He was the National League's MVP in 1928.

Others: Ted Kluszewski, Argo; Phil Cavaretta, Lane Tech; Dave Bergman, Maine South; Scott Stahoviak, Carmel; Bill Skowron, Weber; Dave Christianson, Kennedy; Art Grzeskowiak, Morton East andRobert Jones, Proviso East.

Second base: Red Schoendienst, Germantown: A 10-time All-Star, he played 19 years with the Cardinals, Giants and Braves and managed the Cardinals from 1965 through 1976. A switch-hitter, he averaged .289 and had 2,449 hits in his career. He was a member of five World Series-winning teams as a player, manager and coach. His National League record, .9934 fielding average in 1956, stood for 30 years.Others: John Castino, New Trier; Jack Perconte, Joliet Catholic; Scott Spezio, Morris; Don Kolloway, Blue Island; Chuck Hiller, McHenry andMike Woodard, Proviso East. Third base: Freddie Lindstrom, Chicago (Loyola): After a tryout with the Cubs didn't pan out, he signed a contract with the Giants as a 16-year-old sophomore out of Loyola Academy. From 1924 to 1936, he had a .311 batting average. At 23, he hit .358. Two years later, he hit .379. In 1930, legendary Giants manager John McGraw ranked Lindstrom ninth among the top 20 players of the previous quarter centuryOthers: John Castino, New Trier; Joe Zdeb, Maine South; Joe Karmeris, Reavis; Ray Jablonski, Kelly; Doug Rader, Glenbrook North; Pete Mackanin, Brother Rice and Dave Wilhelmi, Joliet Catholic.Shortstop: Lou Boudreau, Harvey (Thornton): After leading Thornton's basketball team to the state high school championship game for three yearsin a row from 1933 to 1935, he starred in basketball and baseball at Illinois. He was an eight-timeAll-Star and was manager and American League MVP of the Indians' World Championship team in 1948. He won the American League batting title in 1944 with a .327 average.Others: Chico Walker, Tilden; Jim Walewander, Maine South; Jeff Jackson, Shawn Livsay, Simeon; Kelly Dransfeldt, Morris; Aaron Capista, Joliet Catholic; Sammy Esposito, Fenger; Dal Maxvill, Granite City; Ducky Schofield, Springfield andDick Schofield, Springfield.Outfield:Kirby Puckett, Chicago (Calumet): In a 12-year major league career,all with the Twins, he became the franchise's all-time leader in hits, runs, doubles and total bases. At the time of his retirement, his .318 batting average was the highest by any right-handed hitter in the American League since Joe DiMaggio. A 10-time all-star, he was the second player to record 2,000 hits during his first 10 years. He led the Twins to two world titles.Outfield: Greg Luzinski, Niles (Notre Dame): He played for the Phillies from 1970 to 1980 and for the White Sox from 1981 to 1984. He averaged .275 with 307 homers and 1,128 RBI. He was a four-time all-star. He was MVP runner-up in 1975 when he led the National League with 120 RBI and in 1977 when he posted career highs with a .309 batting average, 39 homers and 130 RBI.Outfield: Dave Kingman, Mount Prospect (Prospect): At 6-foot-6, he was recognized as one of the most feared sluggers of the 1970s and 1980s. From 1971 to 1986, he played with eight teams and accumulated 442 homers and 1,210 RBI. He led the National League in homers in 1979 and 1982, was a three-time all-star and was American League Comeback Player of the Year in 1984. His best season was in 1988 with the Cubs when he batted .288 with 48 homers, 115 RBI, 97 runs scored and a .613 slugging percentage.Others: Curtis Granderson, Thornton Fractional South; Larry Murray, Phillips; Brett Butler, Libertyville; Mike Marshall, Buffalo Grove; Jesse Barfield, Joliet Central; Brian Rosinski, Evanston; Ron Kittle, Gary (Ind.) Wirt; Rich Becker, West Aurora; Wes Chamberlain, Simeon; Les Filkins, Chicago Washington; Alex Rowell, North Chicago; Richard Coleman, Lane Tech; Eric Shellenbach, Barrington; Jesse Lucious, Rich East; Keith Thomas, Kenwood; Mark Doran, Thornwood; Bo Flowers, Walther Lutheran; Jim Aducci, Brother Rice; Hank Bauer, East St. Louis; Jody Gerut, Willowbrook; Johnny Groth, Chicago Latin; Frankie Gustine, Hoopeston; Del Unser, Decatur; Jayson Werth, Chatham Glenwood; Johnny Wyrostek, East St. Louis and Dick Wakefield, Chicago. Catcher:Ray Schalk, Nokomis: A defensive standout for the White Sox, he led the league in fielding percentage eight times and putouts nine times. He was the first to catch four no-hit games. His record of 30 stolen bases by a watcher in 1916 stood for 66 years.Others: Tom Haller, Lockport; Dan Wilson, Barrington; Jeff Reed, Joliet est; Erik Pappas, Mount Carmel; Todd Hundley, Fremd; Bob Cummings, Brother ice; Phil Masi, Austin; Ray Fosse, Marion; Gene Lamont, Kirkland Hiawatha; Mke Uremovich, Waukegan; Robert Triplett, Phillips; Nick Trzesnick, Andrew; Harry Chiti, Kincaid; Bruce Edwards, Quincy; Jim Sundberg, Galesburg and Joe Gerardi, Peoria Spalding.Pitcher: Red Ruffing, Nokomis: A one-time outfielder, he became a pitcher after losing four toes on his left foot in a mine accident as a youngster. He won 273 games in his career, won seven of nine World Series decisions for the Yankees, was instrumental in seven pennant winners and won 20 or more games from 1936 to 1939.Pitcher:Robin Roberts, Springfield (Lanphier): In an 18-year career, mostly with the Phillies, he won 286 games and had an ERA of 3.41 with 2,357 strikeouts. In 1950, he led the Phillies to their first National League pennant in 35 years. He was the Phillies' first 20-game winner since Grover Cleveland Alexander in 1917. He was a seven-time all-star and two-time National League Pitcher of the Year. He won 28 games in 1952.Others: Bill Gullickson, Mark Grant, Mike Grace, Joliet Catholic; Steve Trout, Mark Mulder, Thornwood; Denny McLain, Mount Carmel; Jim Bouton, Bloom; Paul Splittorf, Fritz Peterson, Arlington; Scott Sanderson, Glenbrook North; Jim Clancy, Ed Farmer, St. Rita; Bob Kipper, Aurora Central Catholic; Kevin Foster, Evanston; John Ericks, Chicago Christian; Marvin Freeman, Vocational; Charlie Leibrandt, Loyola; Dan Schatzeder, Willowbrook; Byron Von Hoff, Batavia; Jim O'Toole, Leo; Scott Jones, Hinsdale South; Jeff Scott, Kankakee Eastridge; Larry Monroe, Forest View; Tom Brennan, Oak Lawn; Dave Otto, Elk Grove; Don Schulze, Lake Park; Ben Shelton, Scott Nelson, Oak Park; Brian DuBois, Reed-Custer; Jim Caine, St. Charles; Kris Honel, Providence; Mike Bowden, Waubonsie Valley; Buzz Capra, Lane Tech; Jason Frasor, Oak Forest; Tom Gorzelanny, Marist; Warren Hacker, Marissa; Bob Turley, Troy; Dutch Leonard, Auburn; Rick Reuschel, Quincy; Don Stanhouse, Du Quoin; Johnny Ridney, Oak Park; Russ Meyer, Peru; Larry Gura, Joliet East and Joe McGinnity, Cornwall.Designated hitter: Jim Thome, Peoria (Limestone): He is the eighth player to hit more than 600 home runs in the major leagues. Widely considered as a future Hall of Famer, He has played for seven teams since 1991. A five-time All-Star, he has more than 2,200 hits and 1,600 RBI in his career. He hit a career high of 52 homers in 2002.Others: Cliff Floyd, Thornwood; Curtis Parham, Thornridge; Jim Dwyer, Brother Rice.

What Chicago sports fans should be thankful for

chicago-thankful.jpg
USA TODAY

What Chicago sports fans should be thankful for

Families gather and people talk about things they are thankful for on Thanksgiving, but what are Chicago sports fans happy for now?

Raised expectations on the North Side

Got to be thankful that a “disappointing” season is winning the division and losing in the NLCS. The expectations have skyrocketed, and that’s thanks to a ridiculous nucleus of bats and a steady front office. Not many clubs can say that. Also, though, it’s important to be appreciative of the Wrigley bar stretch. They may charge $8 for a Miller Lite, but it’s always a damn good party.

Javy tags, too. Don't forget Javy tags.

Rebuild sparking hope in White Sox fans

Where to begin? Obviously, be thankful for the plethora of young talent that will soon take over the South Side. Be thankful for Avi Time (while you still can). Be thankful that taking your friends or family to a game won’t cause you to take out a second mortgage. Be thankful for the 2020 World Series and, of course, 2020 MVP Eloy Jimenez. But most importantly, be thankful that Rick Hahn’s phone stays buzzing.

Eddie O back in the booth for the Blackhawks

The Blackhawks are having a rough start to the season, but at least Eddie Olczyk is back in the booth. The longtime Blackhawks broadcaster returned to the booth on Oct. 18 after missing time while undergoing chemotherapy treatments for colon cancer.

With some of the key names from the Blackhawks’ title runs either leaving or being unable to play this season (in the case of Marian Hossa), Blackhawks fans are probably thankful to see a familiar face and hear a familiar voice during games.

Lauri Markkanen leading the Bulls rebuild

OK, there’s not much to be thankful for about the current Bulls team. At 3-13, the Bulls are tied for the fewest wins in the NBA (maybe in the long-term that’s something to be thankful for as well). However, Zach LaVine’s pending debut after his eventual return from injury should help create some excitement.

The thing Bulls fans really should be thankful for this year is the play of rookie Lauri Markkanen. The 20-year-old leads the team in scoring (14.6 points per game) and rebounds (8.3 per game) while shooting at a high percentage (34.2 percent on threes and 50.6 percent on twos). It’s only the beginning of the Bulls’ rebuild, but Markkanen is a good start.

Mitchapalooza

If a few things broke the Bears’ way, Chicagoans could have been grateful that the team was finally out of the cellar. Instead, we’ll settle for the fact that there seems to be some building blocks already in place. Mitchell Trubisky, Tarik Cohen, Leonard Floyd and Akiem Hicks seem to fit that category. Also, some may be thankful that this is likely John Fox’s last season at the helm.

Fire ending a playoff drought

After finishing dead last in MLS in 2015 and 2016, the Fire were one of the most improved teams in the league in 2017. After posting the third best record in the league, the Fire made a first playoff appearance since 2012.

The playoff run didn’t last long with the Fire losing a play-in game at home, but the arrival of Bastian Schweinsteiger and the league’s leading goal-scorer, Nemanja Nikolic, helped fill the stadium with six sellouts and gave Fire fans something to cheer for.

With Leonard Floyd going on injured reserve, will the Bears have a pressing need at outside linebacker in 2018?

floyd-ir-1123.jpg
USA TODAY

With Leonard Floyd going on injured reserve, will the Bears have a pressing need at outside linebacker in 2018?

The Bears placed Leonard Floyd on injured reserve Thursday morning, ending the second-year outside linebacker’s season following a knee injury suffered Sunday against the Detroit Lions. Floyd suffered an MCL and PCL injury and will have surgery in the next week, coach John Fox said, and the Bears do not have a timetable for his recovery yet. But that Floyd didn't suffer damage to his ACL is potentially good news for Floyd's recovery timetable. 

Still, with Floyd on injured reserve and out for the season, the Bears’ current outside linebacker depth chart consists of two veterans (Pernell McPhee and Sam Acho) and two practice squad signees (Isaiah Irving and Howard Jones). These final six games of the 2017 season could serve as auditions for all four players for roles on the 2018 Bears. 

If every team needs at least three good pass rushers, the Bears can count on Akiem Hicks and Floyd for 2018, provided Floyd comes back healthy. But who’s the third?

The Bears could save about $7.5 million in cap space if they release McPhee in 2018; if they were to cut ties with Willie Young, who’s on injured reserve right now as well, it would provide $4.5 million in cap relief. McPhee will be 29 in December, while Young will turn 33 next September. 

The Bears won’t necessarily need the cap relief next year, and could certainly decide to keep both players, who’ve shown they’re still productive when healthy. But even if both players are back, the Bears may need to add another outside linebacker via free agency of the draft — remember, the team could’ve began the season with Floyd, Young, McPhee, Acho and Lamarr Houston as their outside linebackers; an injury Houston suffered in the fourth preseason game ended his time in Chicago. 

Needs at wide receiver and cornerback are pressing, but outside linebacker may need to be in that same conversation. If the Bears have a top-10 pick for the fourth consecutive year, plus some cap space, they perhaps could have the ability to address all three needs in March and April. 

That may be looking a little too far into the future, though. The best-case for the Bears is McPhee finishes the season strong and Irving and/or Jones shows something in the opportunities they receive in these final six games (Jones, for what it’s worth, had five sacks as a rookie with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2015). But the worst-case — and perhaps the most realistic — is that the Bears go into the offseason needing to fill at least one pass-rushing spot.