Bears

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

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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

Sports Talk Live Podcast: How much will Trubisky improve in his 2nd preseason game?

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USA TODAY

Sports Talk Live Podcast: How much will Trubisky improve in his 2nd preseason game?

Mark Carman, Scott Merkin and Chris Bleck join Kap on the panel. Jon Lester looks to get back on track against the Pirates? Should he still be the Cubs Game 1 starter in the playoffs?  Len Kasper joins Kap to discuss.

 

How much will Mitch Trubisky improve in his 2nd preseason game? And will Carlos Rodon end up being the White Sox’ best starter?

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

A stellar Jon Lester outing gives the Cubs more than just a win

A stellar Jon Lester outing gives the Cubs more than just a win

It's been a tale of two halves for the Cubs veteran Jon Lester, who after a sparkling first half of baseball that saw him win 12 games with a 2.58 ERA, has looked nothing like a 2018 All-Star. Prior to Thursday's start, Lester had posted a 10.32 ERA, allowed 4 or more runs in 4 of his 5 most recent starts, and had yet to win a game in the second of the season. 

The 34-year-old veteran flipped the script Thursday night, throwing 6-shutout innings while striking out 8 Pirate batters in the Cubs 1-0 win in Pittsburgh. Lester surrendered only 5 hits and baffled the Pirates all-night, finally busting out of his slump and giving the Cubs his 2nd quality start since the All-Star break. 

Lester attacked the bottom portion of the strike zone all night with his fastball, which topped out at 93 mph, generating 4 whiffs with his heater. Over the last month, Lester has said he's felt he can't quite execute his "out" pitches, explaining that when he has a hitter set up for a strikeout he hasn't been able to throw the ball effectively in those moments. 

And while Lester walked off the mound after the 6th inning amassing 8 punch outs, the veteran starter never looked like he was trying to strike out batters. He just continued to dot the corners, occasionally raise the eye-level of the batter with an elevated heater, and threw his secondary pitches just enough to keep the Pittsburgh batters uncomfortable at the plate. 

The Cubs offense once again struggled, facing Ivan Nova who has won four his last five starts against the Cubs, but Ian Happ's solo shot in the 4th inning was enough run support for Lester to push the Cubs to 20 games over .500. But the biggest takeaway from Thursday night's win isn't that the Cubs came out on top, it's that Jon Lester returning to form gives this Chicago rotation something they've lacked seemingly this entire season. 

Stability at the front of the rotation. 

With Cole Hamels impressive three starts in a Cub uniform and Kyle Hendricks finally figuring out his issues on the mound, if Jon Lester can replicate Thursday's performance throughout the rest of the season, the Cubs rotation may finally turn into the strength many thought it could be before the season started. At the very least, Lester showed that whatever he's been working through over the last month of baseball is fixable. 

It's only one start in a string of poor outings for Lester, and while The Athletic's Sahadev Sharma did find some positives in his starts prior to Thursday's big win, Lester will have to show he can maintain this level of pitching through the remainder of this season. But I think our own Tony Andracki put it best tonight on Twitter. 

With the Cubs pitchers finally starting to perform to their expected level, and the return of Yu Darvish looking closer each day, it could be the Cubs starting pitching that carries through the rest of the season.