Bears

Frankie O: Thanksgiving traditions

Frankie O: Thanksgiving traditions

Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2010
3:41 PM

By Frankie O
CSNChicago.com

We all have our favorite holidays, for all sorts of reasons. For me, it usually is whatever one is next. Holidays are fun! (Especially when you dont have to work, but I choose the wrong profession for that to always be true.) It starts when were very young, as we learn what each one means. These days, I often get asked which is my favorite, and one seems to have risen above the rest. You could almost say we were made for each other. Thanksgiving has reached mega-status in my house, at least for Dad. Like all recurring events it comes with many things that make it unique: Traditions.

The earliest thing that I liked about Thanksgiving is the four-day weekend. That gets your attention in a hurry. Nothing is more fun and its never gotten old. As Ive learned, it really takes four days to take it all in, and to recover. Part of that is because due to the long weekend, Friday night has been moved to Wednesday. How cool is that? For us in the bar business, its one of the biggest nights of the year. Thankfully, thats no problem for the participants, since Thanksgiving is a low-stress holiday. No presents! Although the specter of what is about to happen all around us. In fact radio stations are already playing Christmas music and my smart-phone is blowing up with money saving sales event e-mails. Its good to ease into the madness that has become Christmas. Speaking of easing in, its a day for comfy clothes. No formal pictures around a tree, so its come as you are. And as we will discuss, that is also good for other reasons.

My morning consists of cooking a turkey breast, (I must smell cooked turkey ALL DAY!)and snacking. Consider it a pre-game stretch. If you dont have a plan, you are not going to maximize your opportunities! I also must set my Fantasy lineup, because the feast of football is about to begin. I guess its good that the Detroit game is early, since lately, well almost my entire life, that has been the worst of the games. Then its off to the in-laws for the fun to begin. As soon as we arrive its the time honored tradition of picking the spot that I will occupy for the next six or seven hours.

Optimum viewing angle is a must. No, not of the TV, its of the wife in the kitchendining room, being out of the line of fire is a good thing! Mark your territory and let the games begin! Dinner is usually served at game 2 kickoff, due to the amount of people, we dispense of the formality and everyone eats where they are. In front of the TV really works for me, since I dont want to miss an opportunity to root against my most hated rival, in any sport, the Dallas Cowboys. The Eagles 27-0 win, the Leon Lett game and the Randy Moss game were very good days. The turkey was extra tasty! And speaking of food, its not just the turkey, its all about THE FEAST.

At this point, I always try to be a good guest and pay my respects to the chef, mom, by eating everything in sight. Nothing says Im so thankful for your cooking like 3 trips to the chow line! That third plate sometimes takes some effort, but sometimes you have to suck it up and get the job done. This is also were my choice of comfy wear and seating position come into play because its time to HUNKER-D! (Thats hunker-down or simply curl up into the fetal position for the uninitiated.) Then more football watched through a tryptophan haze. Why does my wife ALWAYS send the kids to me now? This is my time! After a slice of all three different pies available,( dont want to be rude!)its time to ride the sugar-buzz and get the kids home and ready for bed. And, oh yeah, another football game. I love the NFL Network! After game three its time to veg-out and thats where a mindless comedy comes in. A Thanksgiving movie. For me its always Planes, Trains and Automobiles. I love that movie! I dont understand why TNT doesnt run it on an all-day loop like they do with A Christmas Story.

As midnight approaches, the time is almost here. The late-night mission. The reason for this day. My annual leftover-turkey sandwich. Over the years, the recipe for this sandwich has been honed to perfection! It is without question, the best sandwich of the year. I wont share the recipe with you here, since I cant do the description justice by just typing it, but if you come into the bar and tell me about yours, Ill tell you about mine. May the better win!

On Friday, the wife leaves the house before anyone even considers waking. Good for her! That also means that after creating misdirection with the little ones with DVDs, Wii games and money, I can spend ANOTHER day of watching football and eating turkey. What other holiday keeps giving like that? (I know it means nothing here in Chicago, but the Flyers play a matinee every Black Friday. In fact, as a youngster, it was at one of these games that I witnessed my first bench-clearing brawl and became a hockey-fanatic for life!)

Saturday, for me, means back to work but thats not really a bad thing. Honestly. I have a serious tryptophan high and moving is a good thing. Besides, at work, on the TV, theres more football! Does the fun ever end? Well no, since Sunday brings the NFL and a return to my fantasy domination!

By Monday, Im pretty well spent. Thankfully, the kids are back in school and Im almost out of turkey. Monday is trash-day in Mokena so its a cleansing day. All of the leftovers that Ive been sharing a love-hate relationship with must go. So its a little turkey salad while I enjoy the Monday Night Football game.

Its also time for reflection of the weekend and holiday past. The real reason Thanksgiving is the one for me. Its about sharing time with loved ones, eating , laughing and having times together that will always be remembered. Sometimes life moves a little fast for us all, so its good for us to have an organized time of doing whats really important. That it includes eating and football only makes it better.

Matt Nagy is winning over his players by being himself

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USA Today Sports Images

Matt Nagy is winning over his players by being himself

Despite losing 34 of his 48 games as the Bears’ head coach, John Fox’s players generally liked him and were disappointed to see him fired on New Year’s Day. That’s not to say they were blindsided by it — losing leads to people losing their jobs, even if the culture at Halas Hall had changed for the better following the disastrous end of the Marc Trestman-Phil Emery era. 

It was with that backdrop that Matt Nagy was offered and accepted the position of Bears head coach a week after Fox’s firing. Four and a half months later, Nagy has seemingly made a strong first impression on his new team, with one reason standing out among many: He’s genuine in who he is and what he does.

“I would say Nagy can be stern, and he can be playful also,” cornerback Prince Amukamara said. “I think when you’re a first-year coach, you want to win (over) your guys, and you want to be firm, and he’s doing that. You can’t really tell he’s a rookie coach or whatever. I feel like he was born for this, and he’s doing a great job.”

Granted, no player is going to publicly blast their new boss — especially not before he’s even coached a game yet. But veteran players also aren’t oblivious to who can and cannot work out as a head coach, and there haven’t been any “damning with faint praise” types of comments that were more common five years ago at the beginning of the Trestman era.

Will this win Nagy any games come September? No. But consider this sort of like team chemistry: It won't win a team anything, but if a team doesn't have it, it can be costly. 

“He’s a cool coach, man,” linebacker Danny Trevathan — who played for Fox in both Denver and Chicago — said. “He’s always giving us little details and smiling but we know he’s a hard worker just like we are. He’s up there working just like we are. He’s always putting us in the right position and he takes care of us. On the back end, where I come from, you take care of coaches like that. You go out and make plays for those coaches.”

From an observational standpoint, Nagy comes across as genuinely excited not just to be a head coach, but the head coach of the Bears. Players respect that approach — he's not coming in acting like a hired gun, and he's shown through these OTAs and practices that he cares about them, even if they haven't spent much time together yet. And he's also not strutting into Halas Hall every day with an over-inflated ego based on his promotion. That resonates, too. 

“I like the way he came in,” Trevathan said. “He came in humble but he was hungry. He came anxious, moving around in the meetings. I like that. That gets me fired up. I feel like we’ve got a good leader up here in the head coach.”

Reynaldo Lopez is changing his place in the White Sox rebuild: 'When I'm on the mound, I'm the best and I don't care about the rest'

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USA TODAY

Reynaldo Lopez is changing his place in the White Sox rebuild: 'When I'm on the mound, I'm the best and I don't care about the rest'

Rebuilds are full of surprises.

Fans can pencil in any names they want into their 2020 lineups, but there’s almost no one who’s going to have a 100-percent success rate when it comes to predicting exactly what the next contending White Sox team will look like.

Reynaldo Lopez carried plenty of hype when he was acquired from the Washington Nationals in the Adam Eaton deal prior following the 2016 season. He had a high prospect ranking before he was called up last summer. He hasn’t materialized out of nowhere.

But with names like Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech, Alec Hansen, Carlos Rodon and others to compete with for one of those coveted rotation spots of the future, was anyone going to use the term “ace” to describe Lopez?

Well, in this rebuilding season’s most pleasant surprise for the White Sox and their fans, that’s exactly what Lopez has been. He’s been hands down the team’s best starting pitcher, and he’s making the case that he shouldn’t be considered an ancillary piece in this rebuilding process but a featured one.

He might not be getting the attention that others are. But he’s doing the most with his opportunity of being at the big league level right now. In the end, as long as you’re getting batters out, who cares how much attention you get?

“It’s not about what people say or what they are talking about,” Lopez said through a translator. “It’s about the confidence I have in myself, and I have plenty of confidence in myself. For me, I’m the best. I’m not saying the other guys are not. I’m just saying that’s the confidence I have. When I’m on the mound, I’m the best and I don’t care about the rest.”

Sunday marked the best start of Lopez’s young career, so said the pitcher himself. He was terrific in shutting down the visiting Texas Rangers, holding them to just two hits over eight scoreless innings.

It was one heck of a bounce-back performance considering what happened last time out, when he was roughed up for six runs in just two innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The difference? His attitude, his focus, his intensity, his conviction.

“I just changed my attitude in the game,” Lopez said. “I was more positive today than I was in my last outing and that was one of my biggest differences.”

“I do think he came out a little bit more focused, to be honest,” manager Rick Renteria said. “The intensity level was a little higher today. I think he threw the first couple pitches 97, 98 miles an hour, where his last outing they were at 93, 94. There wasn’t a whole lot of commitment or conviction to his pitches (against the Pirates). I think, as we talked after the last outing, (pitching coach Don Cooper) spoke to him a little about making sure he brought that intensity that he has the ability to do, to bring it from Pitch 1 and he did today.”

Renteria liked it all, and he saw something different in his pitcher when he went out to talk to him with two outs in the eighth. Lopez issued a two-out walk, and Renteria considered lifting Lopez from the game.

Lopez made sure his manager wouldn’t pull the plug on this outing.

“I hid the baseball in my glove because I didn’t want to leave the game,” Lopez said. “I asked me, ‘How are you? Are you good?’ And I told him, ‘Yes, I’m good.’ Then he asked me again, ‘Do you think you are able to get him out?’ And I said yes, ‘This is my game, and I’m going to finish it.’”

What did Lopez do with his extra life? He finished it all right, blowing Shin-Soo Choo away with a 96-mile-an-hour fastball. Then he showed as much emotion as he’s ever shown on a major league field. He earned that celebration.

“When you see your manager come out and you’ve already gone through most of your game in terms of what you might think you have in number of pitches available to you, and you reiterate that you want to finish a particular batter because you want to get out of that inning, and you do it, it's an accomplishment,” Renteria said. “It's a big accomplishment. For him, pretty good hitter. He battled him and he was able to get out of that inning and complete a very, very strong eight-inning outing.”

It’s the kind of exclamation point on a dominant afternoon that could stir some big plans in White Sox fans always dreaming of the future. What Lopez has done this season has been a strong case for a spot in that future rotation and a spot at the front of it, at that. Following Sunday’s gem, Lopez owns a 2.98 ERA with at least six strikeouts in four of his nine starts.

There’s a lot of development and a lot of time left before the White Sox contention window opens. But Lopez pitching like this offers a glimpse into the crystal ball, a look at what could be for an organization that’s acquired so much talent over the last two years.

You might not have seen it coming like this, but the future arriving in the form of Lopez is a sign that brighter days are ahead on the South Side.