Bulls

5 Questions with...Sun-TimesWSCR's Mike Mulligan

64460.jpg

5 Questions with...Sun-TimesWSCR's Mike Mulligan

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

November 11, 2009

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 a new weekly 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 weekveteran Chicago Sun-Times football columnist and Bears expert who can also be heard with his partner Brian Hanley weekdays from 5:00-9:00 AM on WSCR AM 670 The Score as co-host of the Mully and Hanley Showhere are 5 Questions withMIKE MULLIGAN!

BIO: Mike Mulligan is a native Chicagoan and an award-winning journalist who has worked for the Chicago Sun-Times for 27 years. He is currently the papers NFL columnist. Mike is also the host of WSCR-AM 670 The Score's morning show, the Mully and Hanley Show, alongside fellow Sun-Times sports writer, Brian Hanley. Mike grew up on the South Side of Chicago and graduated from Loyola University. He is a huge White Sox fan. He and his wife, Christina, have three children.

1) CSNChicago.com: Mully, the Bears O-line has pretty much become the biggest target of fan and media criticism so far this season, which, in turn, has given another black eye to Bears offensive coordinator Ron Turner. In your opinion, what is Turner doing wrong and should all of this blame be placed squarely on his shoulders?

Mulligan: Clearly, the Bears have major problems on offense, but at least they have an excuse. They opened the season with six new starters, including three on the offensive line. Those numbers were reduced when Josh Beekman was promoted over Frank Omiyale after the blowout in Cincinnati. The defense has been awful with pretty much the same cast of characters and improved coaching. Football, as we all know, is a game won in the trenches.

Are the Bears getting the kind of line play they need on either side of the ball? No way. Sadly, thats just where the problems start. Ron Turners best coaching job with the Bears may have been in 2005 when he was forced to play with a rookie fourth-round pick in Kyle Orton and managed a ball control offense designed to complement a great defense. The defense is gone these days and so is the ball control. Jay Cutler is a great building block on offense, but sadly this team doesnt have enough around him.

2) CSNChicago.com: Back in the day, you were a frequent roundtable panelist on the ground-breaking Sports Writers on TV program that aired on SportsChannel. Comcast SportsNet Chicago President Jim Corno refers to the shows Fab Four of Bill Gleason, Bill Jauss, Rick Telander and Ben Bentley as rock stars for that era for what they and producer John Roach introduced to the sports talk industry. What was it like being on that show and tell us your most memorable moment?

Mulligan: I used to joke that the Sports Writers on TV was on the air for 13 years and I killed it in nine months...I loved being on that show. It was a thrill to take part in the conversation with Gleason, Jauss and Lester Munson, who were the threesome I joined every Friday afternoon. Its a highlight of my career and another example of a lucky break, and God knows I have had more than my share of good fortune over the years. I believe Phil Rosenthal was actually the guy who replaced Telander when Rick went national. Phil moved to the TV columnist job and felt it was a conflict of interest to be on a television show. Rick once told me it was a gift to be on that show because it was honest-to-God writers, journalists and lovers of sports and literature talking about the things they loved best. Nobody did their hair or put on makeup.

It was a loosely structured conversation designed to feel like you were eavesdropping on the table next to you. And you wanted to join in. The highlight for me was the final show when Rick and Ben came back and I looked around the table at these guys and still couldnt believe I was sitting there. I used to tell my wife that the great thing about being a sportswriter was that Id be working into my 80s at a job I loved.

3) CSNChicago.com: The Sun-Times has traveled on a very rocky road over the past several years and recently James Tyree and his investment group have to come in to save the paper from its possible well-rumored demise. As a long-time Sun-Times employee, how relieved are you and your fellow employees now that Chicago will remain a two-paper town and what, if any, changes can we expect in the S-T sports section down the line?

Mulligan: Nobody is quite sure how the product will be transformed, but I am certainly delighted that the Sun-Times will continue. I started working at the newspaper as an 18 year-old college freshman covering prep sports for the legendary Taylor Bell. I remember the thrill of my first byline as a sophomore in college and still get a kick out of seeing my stuff in print. Everything else Ive done, be it radio or television or magazine work--it all derives from the newspaper and I will be eternally grateful for the doors it has opened for me. Everybody knows its a terrible time for the newspaper industry and Ive got friends around the country who have lost jobs. Were all in transition in some sense. I believe all of the employees of the Sun-Times are anxious to see what changes are in store.

4) CSNChicago.com: Youve covered thousands of sports writing assignments over the years, tell us the worst gig you ever had to cover and why was it so brutal?
Mulligan: Wow. I have been racking my brain for a couple of days to come up with something. I got locked in the Rosemont Horizon once and had to crawl out through a giant garbage disposal. I covered a prep basketball tournament that was delayed by politicians to the point where I blew deadline. I traveled to Fort Wayne, Ind. for a Chicago Power soccer game and got stranded at the airport for a couple of days due to inclement weather. Does extra innings while doing a sidebar at a baseball game count? None of that stuff was too bad. Ive always felt like I had a great job. Ive covered multiple Super Bowls, NBA Finals, the World Cup Final and the Jordan-era Bulls as a beat guy. There have been thousands of memorable moments that far overshadow the bad ones. Heck, even the bad ones have been pretty amusing in retrospect.

5) CSNChicago.com: The Mully and Hanley Show on The Score has done a terrific job in gaining listenership in such a short period of time. Explain the chemistry with you and Hanley and why it works so well and, a follow-up question, whats the one topic that you guys disagree on more than any other?

Mulligan: Were both long-time Sun-Times sportswriters, but weve covered different beats at different times and therefore our stories and experiences are different. But they come from the same place. A guy stopped me at the store recently and told me we sound like long-time friends having a conversation. Thats about it. Brian is a great guy to work with, very conscientious and professional and well-prepared. More than that hes a good man who cares about the people he works with and looks out for everybody. It may sound effortless over the air--at least I hope it does--but we have a great staff of people working with us, including our executive producer Dustin Rhodes, sound man John Rock Mamola and the inimitable D.J. Nozar. Those guys do a lot of heavy lifting. The thing we disagree on more than any other? The poor guy is a Cubs fan.

Mulligan LINKS:

Chicago Sun-TimesMike Mulligan columns

WSCR AM 670Mully and Hanley page

Mike Mulligan on Twitter

Wendell Carter Jr., NBA Cares host court restoration event that honors slain teenager Darius Brown

carter-1031_1.jpg
USA TODAY

Wendell Carter Jr., NBA Cares host court restoration event that honors slain teenager Darius Brown

On Saturday NBA Cares, jr. NBA, EA Sports, Wendell Carter Jr., Complex and artist Hebru Brantley teamed up to renovate the  MetCalfePark basketball court in honor of slain teenager Darius Brown, who was fatally shot and killed on August 3, 2011. 

The court was re-designed with Brantley's FlyBoy character as the centerpiece.

The FlyBoy character represents “hope and optimism that makes people believe that no matter where they are from, no matter what their circumstances, anything is possible."

The event hosted by NBA Cares—and also a part of Complex Community Week—featured Wendell Carter Jr. conversing with the kids and helping "Slam Dunking Science Teacher "Jonathan Clark with an awesome dunking display for the kids. 

Metcalfe Park's (43rd State) new look is amazing and the FlyBoy image serves as the perfect image for the court.

As Hebru Brantley states, "FlyBoy is about taking flight and believing in yourself enough to reach your true potential."

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Bulls easily on your device.

On a mistake-filled afternoon, Javier Baez does what he does best and saves the Cubs

On a mistake-filled afternoon, Javier Baez does what he does best and saves the Cubs

Consider the Cubs’ starting middle infield in Saturday’s 6-5 win over the San Diego Padres to be comprised of two extremes. 

On one end of the spectrum was Addison Russell, who started at second base. Russell was doubled off second base on an Albert Almora line drive in the second inning — a ball hit hard enough where, had it fell in for a hit, he wouldn’t have scored. There was no spinning Russell drifting far enough off second base to be doubled up; it was simply bad baserunning. 

Russell, too, was thrown out at home on an Almora ground ball in the fourth inning. He appeared to lose a pop fly in the sun, too, which fell in for a double in the third inning. 

Manager Joe Maddon was willing to excuse the pop-up double — “The sun ball, there’s nothing you could do about that,” he said — but sounded frustrated with Russell’s far-too-frequent baserunning gaffes. 

“He’s gotta straighten some things out,” Maddon said. “He has to. There’s no question. I’m not going to stand here — he’s got to, we’ve talked about his baserunning in the past. 

“… The baserunning, there’s some things there — we’re making too many outs on the bases and we’re missing things on the bases that we can’t to be an elite team.”

Russell’s mistakes were part of a larger sloppy showing by both teams. As Cubs reliever Brandon Kintzler put it: “No lead was safe. It was really just who was going to survive and not make so many mistakes.”

Javier Baez ensured the Cubs would survive by not merely avoiding mistakes, but by coming up with two massive plays. 

Baez’s three-run home run in the fourth inning gave the Cubs’ the lead for good, and he fell a triple short of the cycle. He’s homered in consecutive games, and Maddon senses the 26-year-old is emerging from a slump that dropped his OPS to .853 after Wednesday’s game, his lowest mark since the small-sample-size landscape of mid-April. 

But it was Baez’s masterful tag in the bottom of the ninth inning that captured most of the attention around Wrigley Field, reminding everyone in the dugouts and stands just how incredible “El Mago” can be. 

Craig Kimbrel walked Wil Myers to lead off the bottom of the ninth inning, and after budding superstar Fernando Tatis Jr. inexplicably bunted (he popped out), Myers took off to steal second base. Kimbrel sailed a fastball high and inside, and Victor Caratini’s throw was well to the left of second base. Myers appeared to have the base stolen until Baez gloved the ball and rapidly snapped a tag onto Myers’ left leg:

”We needed a play made, and he made it,” first baseman Anthony Rizzo said. “It’s what he does.”

Baez’s home run increased the Cubs’ win expectancy by 35.7 percent; his tag on Myers upped it that mark from 83.3 percent to 96.5 percent. This is why the Cubs’ mantra, even when Baez is in a lull, is to let Javy be Javy. 

One player can’t carry a team forever — Baez had his best season as a pro in 2018, only to see the Cubs crash out of the Wild Card game, of course. But it’s hard to not think about the kind of plays Baez can conjure up when the Cubs need them the most in 2019’s playoff race. 

After all, stuff like that tag on Myers — the Cubs have come to expect that from Baez. 

“You saw a lot of plays today, they weren’t baseball plays,” Maddon said. “The game is clamoring for baseball players who know how to play this game, and he’s one. He is one. He’s got the biggest hard drive, the most RAM, he’s got everything going on every day. 

“He sees things, he’s got great vision. Technically, he’s a tremendous baseball player. He’s going to make some mistakes, like everyone else does, but what he sees and sees in advance — it’s like the best running back, it’s the best point guard you’ve ever seen. It’s all of that. As a shortstop, that’s what he is.

“… We needed him to be that guy today and he was. And again, it’s not overtly surprising.”