White Sox

Game 1: Homecoming of sorts for Philly's Collins

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Game 1: Homecoming of sorts for Philly's Collins

Doug Collins is very familiar with Chicago.

Collins was born in Benton, Ill., and attended Illinois State University, where the court in Redbird Arena is named after him. The 76ers made him the first overall pick in the 1973 draft and he went on to play eight seasons in the NBA, averaging 17.9 points per game.

The Bulls gave him his first shot as a head coach in the 1986-87 season and he spent three years on the sideline in Chicago. The Bulls played in Chicago Stadium back then, so Collins never coached in the United Center.

Collins said his return to Chicago is a "very special feeling" and says he still keeps in touch with Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and others within the organization.

"It's interesting -- Jerry Reinsdorf and I have become the best of friends," Collins said. "We spoke about a month ago for an hour on the phone. He's reached out to me and maybe we'll get a chance to go out to dinner while we're here. He's been a very special guy.

"Bulls VP of basketball operations John Paxson is like a son to me, so I have very strong feelings about him. All the people who work for this organization, basically, they're still here."

Collins coached Michael Jordan during his three years in the league and took the Bulls to the Eastern Conference Finals in the 1989 playoffs, in which they beat the Cavaliers 101-100 in a thrilling Game 5 thanks to a Jordan jumper.

"I was telling our guys the other day. I remember our '89 run when we got to the conference finals," he said. "I remember flying to Cleveland and thinking about what I was going to say to our guys for Game 5. It was interesting -- the Kentucky Derby was that day and the winner was 'Sunday Silence.' And I just told them that's what it was going to be in Cleveland. And then Michael hit the shot."

Collins hasn't been in Chicago since that 1989 season, but he still has a lot of respect for the Bulls and the city.

"This is a special organization," he said. "Not many teams can have the championship runs that they've had, win 12 games the next year and have sell-outs.

"This is a very special city. They have embraced me. I don't have any championship rings. Jerry's given me six championship watches with great notes that I kept very proudly. I haven't been here since '89. But when I walk down the street, the bus drivers are honking and waving and the fans say how much they appreciated my time. I love this. I love this city and it's going to be interesting to see. I'm sure they're not going to be lovely to me today, but it's a very special place."

White Sox Talk Podcast: What are the White Sox getting in Nomar Mazara?

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: What are the White Sox getting in Nomar Mazara?

The White Sox made a late night trade at the Winter Meetings, acquiring right fielder Nomar Mazara for 2018 second-round pick Steele Walker.

Chuck Garfien, Ryan McGuffey and Vinnie Duber discuss the trade, why it was made and, love it or hate it, is it the right move for the short term? (1:25) Then, Rangers beat writer Evan Grant from the Dallas Morning News answers the question: What are the White Sox getting in Mazara? (15:43)

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below:

White Sox Talk Podcast

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Yankees sign Gerrit Cole to a record nine-year, $324 million deal

Yankees sign Gerrit Cole to a record nine-year, $324 million deal

In terms of big-time free agent moves, it doesn't get bigger than the New York Yankees new deal with sought-after pitcher Gerrit Cole. On Tuesday, ESPN's Jeff Passan reported that the Yankees and Cole were agreeing to a record nine-year, $324 million deal.

Cole was dominant in 2019, finishing with a 20-5 record and a 2.50 ERA. The wins, losses and ERA  were all career-bests for Cole. He continued his dominance in the MLB playoffs, where he pitched 36 2/3 innings, going 4-1 with a 1.72 ERA. He was especially unhittable in the 2019 ALCS, where he very impressively gave up no earned runs over 212.1 innings pitched against the Yankees, who scored the most runs in the MLB in 2019. His 326 strikeouts in 2019 made him the Astros franchise-leader in Ks in a season, adding even more mystique to a year that felt like something out of a movie.

Despite the dominant season for Cole, he finished second in the AL Cy Young voting to former teammate Justin Verlander as he was a part of an absolutely awesome pitching staff that has now been dealt a big blow. Cole will now be joining another staff that has a chance to become elite over time, as the Yankees will add his elite arm talent to a group that includes Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, and Domingo German.

Cole is likely to be in the Bronx for the long haul, though he does have an early opt-out clause.

The Yankees rode their great offense all the way to a Game 6 in the ALCS, despite their pitching ranking a ho-hum 14th in the league in ERA (4.31). With Cole now in tow, there is reason to believe that the 'Evil Empire' is truly back.

And while the Cubs and White Sox were not considered to seriously be in the running for Cole's services, his signing means that there will likely be developments soon in regards to the other top arms on the market, some of which have been linked to Chicago. This list includes names like Madison Bumgarner, Dallas Keuchel, and Hyun-Jin Ryu. 

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