White Sox

Carl White juggles grades, rebounds for Foreman

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Carl White juggles grades, rebounds for Foreman

In the past, Foreman's basketball team had the last names of the varsity players stitched to the back of their uniforms and warm-ups. Not this year. Coach Terry Head is taking a different approach."We're all about team this year, no super stars, just old-fashioned basketball. Nobody is better than anyone else," Head said. "I made the decision last year, to remove the names from the backs of the uniforms. Last year's team was too selfish. They were worried about themselves too much."Now I just want the kids to talk about Foreman basketball, what we do, no individuals. One kid asked me why I did it and I explained it to him and he understood. I haven't had any other complaints. Everybody is together, at study hall, morning practice, afternoon practice, eating together, Christmas party, one program, just Foreman basketball."Head, 40, in his 13th year has head coach, admits he never has been happier. "I like it better this year. It is less stressful when you don't have a lot of egos on the team. It's more fun to coach kids who want to play basketball for the right reasons. I'm having more fun with this team than ever before," he said.Foreman was 8-1 after splitting its first two games in the 78th Normandy holiday tournament in St. Louis. It isn't his most talented team, he admits, but it is comparable to the 2005 and 2010 powerhouses and it is more fun because "the kids want to work hard all the time and are willing to do whatever it takes to win."At Normandy, Foreman opened with a 56-32 rout of host Normandy, then
lostto Memphis (Tennessee) Melrose 54-46.Nobody exemplifies the coach's philosophy more than Carl White, a 6-foot-6 junior who works as hard in the classroom as he does on the court. White has a 4.2 grade-point average on a 4.0 scale, scored 22 on his ACT and has attracted interest from Loyola, Indiana and Yale. He averages seven points, nine rebounds and three blocks per game.Last year, White put together an impressive resume. He was the leading scorer on the sophomore team and qualified to go Downstate to compete in the state's three-point shooting contest."But I knew it wasn't enough to be a starter on the varsity and that's what I wanted to do this year," he said. "I played AAU over the summer and I went to the coach's house twice a week to work out with him. I wanted to be good. I knew I could contribute to the team this year."White also grew four inches over the summer. He improved as a rebounder and a defender. He describes his primary role as the "defensive leader and backbone of the defense." But he said Head "is always on my back. He says I'm not selfish enough. Sometimes he looks to me to score more."But the most fun White has on the floor is blocking shots. "I like intimidating them, knowing the other team isn't going to the hole," he said.He is motivated by his desire to combine basketball with a good education in college. His mother always pushed him to get good grades since he was little and Head has stressed academics at Foreman."At first, when I was a freshman, it was tough to keep my mind on my books," White said. "But once you start doing well in school, you want to keep doing well and go to the next level. Other kids ask: 'Why do you study so much?' I think about where they are going to be in four years and where I will be if I do what I'm supposed to do."White wants to major in sports broadcast journalism. He is a big Stacey King fan and loves to mimic many of the former Chicago Bulls player turned Bulls television color commentator's trademark sayings."I want to play basketball and get the best education I can in college," he said. "It motivates me to be better, to keep working harder."I have to cut some parties and make more study time after practice. It's go to class, go to practice, eat, study, sleep. I have some time in the day at school during lunchtime to socialize. But I know that studies and basketball will determine my future. People will always be there. This is the time to get serious about studies and basketball."Meanwhile, White is close to his teammates. They hang out together. And all of them were looking forward to the four-day trip to St. Louis as an opportunity to bond and get closer together and compete against teams that they never have seen before.The other starters are 6-foot-2 senior Rickey White (no relation to Carl), who averages 14 points per game, 6-foot senior Terrance Overton, 5-foot-11 senior point guard Charles Thornton and 5-foot-9 senior Eric Patton. The first two players off the bench are 6-foot senior Clarence Boyce and 6-foot-3 junior Karon Linton."The challenge of coaching basketball is taking kids who are not that good and making them better, taking kids who normally wouldn't play basketball and get them involved," Head said. "This is the hardest playing team I've coached but it isn't the best. This group plays with a chip on their shoulders. They know they have to pay hard and together in order to be successful."Head said his best team was the 2005 squad led by Donald Brown and the 2010 team led by Mike McCall that lost to Whitney Young in the Class 4A sectional final. McCall currently is playing at Saint Louis University. Last year's team was 19-7 and lost to New Trier in the regional."This isn't the most talented team I've had. But it listens," Head said. "They are fun to coach because they want to work hard. They understand they don't have talent alone. They don't have a 6-foot-8 kid. So they are willing to do whatever it takes to win."

White Sox sim-game chatter shows entertainment potential in empty stadiums

White Sox sim-game chatter shows entertainment potential in empty stadiums

Baseball is going to look weird in 2020.

And it might sound even weirder.

Already, even though players are just stretching, tracking down fly balls, throwing bullpen sessions and taking batting practice during the MLB-branded "Summer Camp," the experience of baseball being played in an empty major league stadium is somewhat bizarre.

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But once regular-season games start? It's going to be like a different game from a different universe.

We got a little taste of what it might be like Wednesday, when White Sox ace Lucas Giolito threw a simulated game at Guaranteed Rate Field, throwing at game speed while his teammates took game-style at-bats.

Sim games are not among the many newfangled baseball inventions for a pandemic-delayed season. They've been around for a while and they're always weird, with only one pitcher pitching, sitting in the dugout for 10 minutes to simulate the other half of an inning that is not actually being played, and then facing off against the same players who just backed him up defensively the last time he was out there.

But as we prepare for regular-season games without fans, this simulated game was perhaps more realistic than ever.

The silence was deafening, obviously. The roar of the crowd that would have accompanied back-to-back strikeouts to start off the game for Giolito was met with nothing. Tim Anderson swung and missed at Strike 3 and went back to the dugout. Luis Robert looked at Strike 3 and went back to the dugout. No clapping, no cheering, no blaring clip from Boz Scaggs' "Lido Shuffle," which the White Sox employed during Giolito ("Lido," "-lito," get it?) strikeouts in 2019.

But in the absence of crowd noise, there's an opportunity for a new aspect of entertainment to arise. Because you know what you could hear? Everything the players said. And some of it was pretty darn funny.

Simulated games don't have umpires, so it was on catchers Yasmani Grandal and James McCann to call Giolito's balls and strikes. And Grandal got into it. When Robert stared down that third strike, he made an exaggerated punch-out motion with his fist, earning laughs from the White Sox dugout, with one dugout denizen invoking the name of infamous umpire Joe West in a joking response. Grandal kept it up, feeding off the reaction a la Frank Drebin in "The Naked Gun," and punched out Zack Collins later in the sim game, earning more laughs.

When Nomar Mazara connected on a Giolito pitch for what most would have assumed would be a line drive to right field, the diminutive Nick Madrigal, perfectly positioned in an exaggerated shift, came up with a nice catch to steal a hit away from Mazara. The response from the dugout? "You got bad luck if you can't hit it over his head."

And there was more. Giolito started talking at McCann when the catcher got his pitcher for a double into the left-field corner. The energetic Anderson was pretty loud while cheering for his teammates from the dugout. Coaches could be heard shouting out instructions.

The absence of crowds means fans watching on TV might be able to hear things they've never heard before, adding a new element of entertainment.

"With (our) teammates, we’re going to mess around, we’ll be talking trash," Giolito said Wednesday. "I’m interested to see how that carries over once we get to the regular season. You can hear pretty much everything everyone is saying."

RELATED: Why White Sox-Cubs games could be 'a little taste' of Crosstown World Series

The White Sox will do their best to fill the fanless void at Guaranteed Rate Field. They announced Wednesday the ability for fans to have their likenesses on cardboard cutouts in the stands during the season-opening series against the Minnesota Twins. And players seem unsure about whether crowd noise will be played over the speakers once the games begin. That would be equally weird, though it might help out the players, grasping for any sense of normalcy in a season where their routine-oriented day-to-day work lives have been turned upside down.

But why not keep the crowd noise away and use this opportunity to show off a new element to the game?

TV broadcasts were hoping to mic players up and have them chat with announcers during games. We'll see if that pans out, though the lack of an agreement between the league and the players' union seemed to disperse any optimism of that happening on a regular basis. In place of that, this on-field chatter could be wildly entertaining.

"I think it might (add some more entertainment value)," manager Rick Renteria said. "The guys, they were chirping in the dugout today. It was fun to hear them. They're just like everybody else. You love to play the game, and you have an opportunity to go out and play in your home park, even though you're playing against each other. It's a nice energy to have. Who wouldn't want to play baseball in a big league park? And they share that joy that they all have when they are out there competing."

So get ready for it all: trash talk, disagreements with umpires, pitchers and hitters jawing back and forth, cheers from the dugout and just plain short jokes.

Baseball's going to sound mighty different in 2020.


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Did Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes' mega-deal actually leave money on table?

Did Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes' mega-deal actually leave money on table?

Patrick Mahomes forever altered the sports contract landscape with his landmark 10-year, $450 million extension that became official this week. It made all the sense in the world to lock up the 2018 MVP whose team could very easily be coming off back-to-back Super Bowl titles if not for a nail-biting loss to the eventual-champion Patriots in the 2019 AFC Championship game. But Brad Spielberger, who does extensive salary cap research and writing for OverTheCap.com, believes Mahomes could have massively cashed in again if he took a different approach to these negotiations

Coming in, we knew this was going to be a groundbreaking deal in some respects... I really didn’t think he was going to give up that many years of control – it’s basically a lifetime contract. Again, I know it’s maybe up to half a billion dollars, so it sounds crazy to maybe question his thinking there, but in 5, 6, 7 years down the road, he probably could have gotten another deal that would have made this one look small in comparison.

Every team in the league would love this deal… every front office in the NFL would say, the fact that they have this much time on this deal is the best part about it. Again, it’s a monstrous deal and there are outs at certain points so it’s not so strict as to say he can’t get out of it or he can’t work with it. If I’m his agent, I would push for 5 years, $200M fully guaranteed; let’s go mega-Kirk Cousins on steroids, let’s change the game, and then let’s see if we can sign a deal for $50M a year when that one runs out.

The scenario painted there is an interesting one, and might have allowed Mahomes to reset the quarterback market twice in a decade… but we’ll never know. For more from Spielberger, including how the Mahomes deal impacts the Dak Prescott and Deshaun Watson negotiations and what the Bears’ offseason moves tell him about the mindset of Ryan Pace’s front office, listen to the most recent edition of the Under Center podcast here or below.