Preps Talk

Harry made me do it!

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Harry made me do it!

By Frankie O
CSNChicago.com
As usual for me this time of year, I find myself reflective about the namesake of the world-famous eatery for which Im employed. Not that his influence is ever far away, but with the 14th Annual Worldwide Toast to Harry Caray yesterday, its even more so. Hard to believe that hes been gone for fourteen years. Fitting is our tribute in raising a glass in his honor on the anniversary of his birth. This year would have been number 98.

Many people loved Harry and for many reasons. The Harry conversations never get old for me, night after night at the bar, and thats because the conversation usually ends with a laugh and smiles all around. The connection, I feel, was due to his genuine nature, not to mention the fact that he was rolling-on-the-floor funny.

My favorite part was that he was able to do this while offering his opinions on just about everything, filter be dammed. Its in this spirit that I tend bar. Anyone can put a drink in front of you, I think Harry would have expected a little more. So, why wouldnt the flagship of his restaurant empire be inhabited by someone who wants to keep the conversation, and the fun, going? In fact, when it gets really animated I blame my inner Harry every time!

Who would have thought that the process in which a specimen sample is handled would be the hot topic this week? There have been many rumors flying around as to why Ryan Braun failed his drug test taken after a playoff game last season. Exceedingly high levels of a synthetic testosterone dont just magically appear in a urine sample. Or do they? I remember when Floyd Landis proclaimed his innocence of the same transgression for 4 years before he finally came clean. That I think is in the back of everyones mind in this case. How did it get there? I dont think that anyone is buying the smear campaign that Braun and his lawyers have started against the test collector Dino Laurenzie Jr. What would be his motive? He is a highly respected veteran of his field. That is why he was chosen to perform his function during a playoff game. Was he going to reap millions by blackmail? Or did he go to elaborate means because he did not like Braun, when it appears they had never met before that fateful night? I understand that because Laurenzie was in the possession for longer than the allotted time, but what was he supposed to do? Leave it at a FedEx office where its treatment would be unmonitored for 2 days before it shipped? Brauns defense reminds me of Lloyd Christmas response in Dumb and Dumber when he was asking Lauren Hollys character of the odds of their getting together: One in a million? So youre saying theres a chance! Its really hard to believe Braun at this point. Thats sad, since he appeared to be one of the good guys.

Something that got me a little hot while I was driving into work the other day was listening to the discussion about the diss of Derrick Rose that was made by ESPNs Skip Bayless. Now, usually what Bayless says really doesnt affect me one way or another, I mean, consider the source. Hes the high and mighty type. Didnt he used to write for a paper here in Chicago before he was asked to leave? More to the point, it seems that since Jay Marriotti is gone, that he wants the man who everybody hates crown. He can wear it to parties with all of his friends, then talk about them behind their backs. D-Rose is a fraud MVP? Does he watch basketball? Last years Bulls team wins 41 games last year without him. They won 62 and had the best record in basketball. End of story! I know that there has to be someone that wears the black hat. Were never going to avoid negative attention seekers, but get your facts straight. Still hold some Chicago grudges Skip? You and LeBron deserve each other. Ill take D-Rose anytime!

Speaking of my boy, why is his not playing the fool a story? Hes not a dancer or show-boater. I get it that the introductions are the only interesting part of the NBA All-Star Game to watch, because the basketball is awful, but that type of look at me thing is not in his makeup. Honestly, who does look good dancing? The number is a lot less than those who think they do, trust me. Personally I learned there are much easier ways for me to embarrass myself in public. Red-bow-tie boys dancing was put away a long time ago. D-Rose is a quiet, humble, focused, no-nonsense, leave-it-on-the-floor, win-at-all-cost, put-me-back-in-the-game, cold-blooded assassin on the court. Thats all I need. Leave him be! Man I love that kid!

Time for the baseball purists to lose their minds again, thats right, Buds at it again. Sorry, but this is one time when I agree that we all win. There is no dispute that wild-card playoff teams were added so MLB could make more money. But so what? I love playoff baseball! And more of anything I love is a good thing! And, dont forget, the more teams that are in means, the more teams that might get in. Pete Rozzelles model of brilliance is at work once again: If everyone thinks their team has a chance, the more people who will care and watch. The other, not as apparent benefit, is that this might actually help the teams with the best records since in the one-game playoff for the wild card, teams will have to use their aces before entering a 5-game series against a division winner. At least thats what Im telling myself. It sure seems like my Phillies are destined to lose the first NL game, so as to continue their incremental playoff decline since winning the World Series in 2008. Damn you, Cliff Lee! 4-0! At home! What can I say? Im a bitter man!

When I say Wilt Chamberlain at the bar, 2 numbers come to mind and you can only imagine the conversation that ensues, and youre going to have to, since I can only talk about one of those numbers here. Today is the 50th anniversary of The Big Dippers 100 point game. Still today that number boggles my mind. 714, 56 and 100 were the numerical holy grails for any fan of my age. They wereare mythical. Wilts 100 even more so since because there was no TV there to document what he did. If you can, read every account about it that you can find. I have already done that and have learned things that I have never heard before, such as about the radio broadcast and final assist, and Ive heard about this game my most of my life. I just went over Wilts career stats and was amazed once again. In the 61-62 season, he averaged 50.4 points a game! Now that is ridiculous! For his career he averaged 30.1 with 22.9 rebounds and 4.4 assists a game. All this while averaging 45.8 minutes played a game. (What? Was Thibs his coach?!!) The only other career stats that caused me such awe were those of Babe Ruth. The thing is, Wilt did this while having a major flaw: he shot free-throws like Shaq, averaging an appalling 51.1 from the line for his career. Ouch! In fact, the key to his 100 pointer was that, on this day, he went 28-32 from the line. Bet you didnt know that. Maybe after you peruse the Dippers accomplishments, you can come into the bar and well have the best-player-ever conversation again. Good clean fun. That is, as long as you dont give me 20,000 reasons why someone else was better.

Since spring is almost here, I cant wait for baseball to get started. For one thing I can end the hiatus and get along with my fantasy sports addiction again. Im almost done my draft prep! And the other is that we can talk about results rather than expectations. This must be the year of Frankie O since I have, forever, used as one of my go-to lines at the bar, sarcastically, the saying that the key to life is lower expectations. Who knew that both baseball teams here in Chicago would take my joke to heart? There is an obvious culture change happening on both sides of town. After last season, especially, we can all agree it was very much needed. But besides the promise to play the right way the message we fans are getting is to take it down a notch. Now as much as I understand that there is nuance to be appreciated, I also want to feel like time watching baseball is well spent. (Dont ask the wife about that one!) A lot of this space in the 8 months is going to be about baseball and I dont want to sound like a Bayless when I write about it. (We wont even get into the economic side of paying to watch growth, at least at this time.) The operative word for both sides of town is: If. We will spend our whole summers starting every sentence of every conversation about the teams here with that word. Im going to be Mr. Positive here and say that doesnt mean that the summer has to be a long one. For one, stranger things have happened and the competiveness on the Southside might surprise. For the Northside, it might hurt a little more. At the very least though, this should get my blue-clad brethren a few games added to their total in their Cubs-Sox wagers. But this team is only about the future. So there, Im all-in and I have one vision. If I can have a discussion at the bar about Sale, Beckham, Jackson and Rizzo and its in a good way, this year will be a success indeed. I told you it was the key!

And finally, (Youre welcome!) there have been rumors for longer than I have worked there that the building at 33 W. Kinzie Street is haunted. There are people who work there right know who will swear to it. And you know what? I believe them. Im sure there are those from another dimension that are around us. But instead of saying haunted, I prefer to use the word alive. Alive with the spirit of Harry and hes there every day. Just come in to see for yourself and, of course, raise a glass!

89 Days to Kickoff: St. Charles East

89 Days to Kickoff: St. Charles East

NBCSportsChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting July 30, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 24.

School: St. Charles East

Head coach: Bryce Farquhar

How they fared in 2017: 8-3 (4-2 Upstate 8 River Conference), St. Charles East made the 2017 IHSA state Class 8A playoff field. The Saints defeated Oswego East then lost to eventual 8A state champion Lincoln-Way East in second round action.

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 @ Rock Island

Aug. 31 @ Carmel

Sept. 7 vs Glenbard North

Sept. 14 @ Wheaton South

Sept. 21 vs Geneva

Sept. 28 @ St. Charles North

Oct. 5 vs Batavia

Oct. 12 @ Wheaton North

Oct. 19 vs Lake Park

[MORE: 90 Days to Kickoff - Warren]

Biggest storyline: The Saints have had impressive campaigns the last two seasons. Can they continue to prosper in the newly-formed DuKane Conference?

Names to watch this season: RB/LB Justin Jett and OL Dylan Barrett

Biggest holes to fill: The Saints will look to reload at a few key spots including at quarterback, as Clayton Isbell has moved on to Illinois State. Replacing RB/LB Nick Garlisch (South Dakota St.) will be key as well.

EDGY's Early Take: Coach Bryce Farquhar's Saints have produced playoff seasons in back-to-back years. Now, their regular season ramps up a bit with the newly-formed DuKane Conference. The new league features some former Upstate Eight conference foes in St. Charles North, Batavia and Geneva, plus former DuPage Valley members Wheaton Warrenville South, Wheaton North, Glenbard North and Lake Park. Look for the Saints to rely on some experience up front. Three starters are back on the offensive line, including junior OG Dylan Barrett. He has already added several FBS level scholarship offers. 

Happy Birthday, Big Hurt! 50 Frank Thomas dates and fun facts for his 50th birthday

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AP

Happy Birthday, Big Hurt! 50 Frank Thomas dates and fun facts for his 50th birthday

May 27, 1968 – Frank Thomas born in Columbus, Georgia

June 5, 1989 – Frank Thomas drafted 7th overall (out of Auburn) in first round of 1989 MLB Draft

August 2, 1990 – MLB Debut – 0 for 4 with RBI at Milwaukee (Game 1 of doubleheader).  First PA was flyout vs Teddy Higuera. Knocked in GW run with a fielder’s choice off Randy Veres in top of 9th.

August 3, 1990 – First Major League hit – a 2-run triple off Mark Knudson in 7th inning at Milwaukee

August 28, 1990 – First career HR.  Solo HR at Metrodome off Gary Wayne in 9th inning

September 27, 1990 – First career Major League home run in Chicago (at Comiskey Park)

September 28, 1990 – Thomas hits the last White Sox home run at old Comiskey Park (off Randy Johnson)

June 24, 1991 – First career Grand Slam – off Michael Jackson of Mariners at New Comiskey Park

July 15, 1991 – First career multi-HR game – both off Mike Gardiner of the Red Sox at New Comiskey Park

September 28, 1991 – 128th walk of season, breaking Lu Blue’s club record set 60 years prior.  Thomas finished with 138.

September 16, 1992 – Lone career 5-hit game (in this game, Don Mattingly took a handful of some kid’s popcorn on a pop foul by Tim Raines)

August 31, 1993 – 100th career HR – off Sterling Hitchcock at Yankee Stadium

September 1, 1993 – 38th HR of season (at Yankee Stadium off Scott Kamieniecki), setting a new White Sox record (breaking record previously held by Dick Allen & Carlton Fisk)

September 5, 1993 – 40th HR of season – first player in White Sox history to reach 40.  Thomas finished with 41.

October 5, 1993 – First career postseason game.  He reached base 5 times. (1 for 1 with 4 walks) in Game 1 of 1993 ALCS vs Blue Jays at New Comiskey Park

October 9, 1993 – First career postseason home run.  Game 4 of 1993 ALCS vs Blue Jays at Skydome off Todd Stottlemyre

November 10, 1993 – Thomas named American League MVP by the BBWAA

April 19, 1994 – Home Run for the 5th straight game.  It’s the first of two 5-game HR streaks in 1994

May 29, 1994 – Home Run for the 5th straight game.  It’s his second 5-game HR streak of the season.

October 26, 1994 – Thomas named American League MVP by the BBWAA for the second straight season

July 10, 1995 – Won 1995 Home Run Derby at The Ballpark in Arlington, Texas

July 11, 1995 – First All-Star Home Run in White Sox history (at The Ballpark in Arlington, Texas)

March 31, 1996 – Frank Thomas hits the first regular season home run in March in MLB history (off Randy Johnson)

May 15, 1996 – Career-high 6 RBI (first of two times he did it) in 20-8 win vs Brewers in Milwaukee

June 9, 1996 – 200th career HR – off Jimmy Haynes at Oriole Park at Camden Yards

September 15, 1996 – first career 3-HR game (all three off Tim Wakefield); the first of which is career HR #215, passing Carlton Fisk for most HR in White Sox history  

May 20, 1997 – Thomas reaches base for the 15th straight plate appearance (HR, 1B, BB, 2B, 2B, BB, 1B, BB, 1B, 1B, 1B, 1B, 2B, BB, BB)

July 14, 1998 – First career walkoff HR (off Rick Aguilera of the Twins)

June 15, 1999 – Extended his hitting streak to 21 games – a career-best.  He reached base 44 times during the 21-game stretch (33 hits, 10 walks, 1 HBP)

August 7, 1999 – 300th career HR – off Kevin Appier at the Oakland Coliseum

July 15, 2000 – Career-high 6 RBI (second of two times he did it) in 15-7 win vs Cardinals at New Comiskey Park

July 23, 2002 – 495’ home run off Johan Santana in Chicago.  His longest home run at New Comiskey Park/Guaranteed Rate Field

July 2, 2003 – Second career Walkoff HR – off Eddie Guardado of the Twins

July 25, 2003 – 400th career HR – off Jorge Sosa of the Rays at US Cellular Field

August 4, 2003  - 2,000th career hit – a home run off Nate Field of the Royals at US Cellular Field

August 18, 2003 – Third career Walkoff HR – off Jarrod Washburn of the Angels

July 18, 2005 – 448th and final home run in a White Sox uniform (448 remains a franchise record)

July 20, 2005 – Last game in a White Sox uniform.  He went 1 for 4 (single off Nate Robertson) in 8-6 loss vs Tigers at US Cellular Field

May 22, 2006 – First game AGAINST the White sox.  He homers twice at US Cellular Field (2 solo HR off Jon Garland) but the White Sox win 5-4

July 6, 2006 – Fourth and final career walkoff HR (only one not in a White Sox uniform).  With Oakland A’s off Scot Shields of the Angels

September 11, 2006 – Home Run for the sixth straight game (with the Oakland A’s); his career-long streak

October 3, 2006 – His lone career postseason multi-HR game.  In his first postseason game not in a White Sox uniform (with A’s – vs Twins at Metrodome)

June 28, 2007 – 500th career HR (with Blue Jays – off Carlos Silva at the Metrodome)

September 17, 2007 – Second of 2 career 3-HR games.  This game was with Toronto Blue Jays.  Tim Wakefield allowed the first 2 (Wakefield allowed all 3 of his HR 9/15/1996)

August 9, 2008 – 521st and final career HR (with Oakland A’s) – off Armando Galarraga at Comerica Park

August 29, 2008 – Final MLB game – he went 2 for 4 vs Twins at the Oakland Coliseum.  His final hit was off Kevin Slowey; final plate appearance was strikeout vs Craig Breslow

February 12, 2010 – Held press conference at US Cellular Field to formally announce his retirement

August 29, 2010 – White Sox retire #35 on Frank Thomas Day at US Cellular Field

January 8, 2014 – Thomas elected to the Hall of Fame

July 27, 2014 – Inducted into the Hall of Fame, along with Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa & Joe Torre

 

 

 

50 Frank Thomas fun facts

 

  1. 521 career Home Runs.

Tied for 20th in MLB history with Willie McCovey & Ted Williams

One of 27 players in MLB history with 500+ Home Runs

 

  1. Thomas had 11 career grand slams

 

  1. 7 extra-inning home runs is a White Sox franchise record.

 

  1. Thomas holds the White Sox season record for both

Home runs at home (30 in 2000)

Home Runs on the road (25 in 1995)

 

  1. Thomas homered against every MLB team except the Pirates

 

  1. Thomas homered more against the Twins (52 HR) than any other team

 

  1. Thomas had 2 career pinch hit home runs.  Both times he pinch hit for pitchers.  Jim Parque & Luis Vizcaino

 

  1. Thomas hit 3 triples before he hit his first Major League home run.

He’s one of two 500-HR club members with 3 or more triples before hitting his first HR.  The other one is Reggie Jackson (4 triples before first HR)

 

  1. Thomas had 3 triples in his first 17 MLB games.

Thomas had 9 triples in his remaining 2,305 MLB games.

 

  1. Thomas was born the same day as Jeff Bagwell.   They both won 1994 MVP awards.

 

  1. Thomas (1993-94) was the first to win American League MVP in consecutive seasons since Roger Maris in 1960-61.  Only Miguel Cabrera (2012-13) has done it since.

 

  1. Thomas’s .419 career On-Base percentage is the best by any right-handed hitter alive (with at least 100 career Major League plate apperances).

 

  1. His last 162 games in a White Sox uniform:  .254/.387/.566, 104 Runs, 47 Home Runs, 121 RBI

 

  1. Thomas (the White Sox 1989 first round pick) and Alex Fernandez (the White Sox 1990 first round pick)

made their Major League debuts in the same game (August 2, 1990 – game 1 of doubleheader at Milwaukee)

 

  1. Frank Thomas had 9 seasons with 100 Runs, 100 RBI and 100 Walks.  Only three players had more.

Babe Ruth (11), Lou Gehrig (11) and Barry Bonds (10)

 

  1. 521 career HR x 4 bases per HR x 90 feet per base = 187,560 feet.  Or roughly 35.52 Miles.  Thomas’s #35 is retired by the White Sox.

 

  1. Thomas collected his 500th career home run the same day Craig Biggio collected his 3,000th career hit.  June 28, 2007

 

  1. Thomas collected his 300th career home run the same day Wade Boggs collected his 3,000th career hit.  August 7, 1999

 

  1. Thomas hit the last White Sox home run at Old Comiskey Park (9/28/1990) and the first White Sox home run at New Comiskey Park (4/22/1991)

 

  1. Thomas also had the first White Sox home run at five other parks.

Oriole Park at Camden Yards (5/8/1992), Progressive Field (7/21/1994), Rangers Ballpark (5/13/1994), Tropicana Field (4/4/1998) & Minute Maid Park (6/2/2000)

 

  1. In 14 career games on his birthday, Thomas hit .468/.583/.766 with 2 HR, 10 RBI, 22 Hits & 13 Walks

 

  1. From 1951-present, 1,109 players have appeared in at least one game with the White Sox**  One has won a batting title for the White Sox.  Frank Thomas (.347 in 1997)

(prior to Thomas, Luke Appling won two batting titles – 1936 & 1943.  His last game with the Sox was 1950)

                **through May 24, 2018

 

  1. In 1997, Frank Thomas hit .417/.524/.748 in 185 PA with RISP.

He had 39 walks.  Only 14 strikeouts.

 

  1. Frank Thomas had 3 receptions for 45 yards as a Tight End for Auburn’s football team in 1986

 

  1. Thomas’s #35 is retired by the White Sox, but his first career Major League hit came while wearing #15.

 

  1. Had a hit off Charlie Hough (born 1/5/1948) & Felix Hernández (born 4/8/1986)

 

  1. In Thomas’s first 8 MLB seasons (1,076 games), he hit .330/.452/.600 with 879 walks and only 582 strikeouts.  And a 177 wRC+  Mike Trout is in his 8th MLB season.  His career wRC+ is 170

 

  1. Thomas is one of six players in MLB history with 500+ Home Runs and .300 BA, .400 OBP & .500 SLG. The others: Babe Ruth, Manny Ramírez, Jimmie Foxx, Ted Williams & Mel Ott

 

  1. Prior to joining the White Sox, Frank Thomas had 112 walks in 109 games with Birmingham in 1990

 

  1. Joe DiMaggio had 361 career home runs.  Frank Thomas had 361 career home runs… against right-handed pitchers alone.

 

  1. Frank Thomas had more career stolen bases (32) than Joe DiMaggio (30)

 

  1. Thomas homered in 28 different MLB ballparks, off 336 different pitchers.

 

  1. The most home runs Thomas hit off a pitcher was 9 off Mike Mussina.

30 hits is the most by Thomas off any pitcher during his career

 

  1. 9 of Thomas’s home runs were off pitchers currently in the Hall of Fame.

5 off Randy Johnson, 2 off Jack Morris, 1 off Pedro Martínez, 1 off Goose Gossage.

 

  1. Thomas homered off 17 different pitchers who won a Cy Young award

(Clemens, Colón, Cone, Hentgen, Hershiser, R. Johnson, P. Martínez, McDowell, Sabathia, Saberhagen, Santana, Sutcliffe, Valenzuela, Viola, Webb, Welch & Zito)

 

  1. Thomas homered off 6 pitchers who threw a perfect game

(Mark Buehrle, David Cone, Dennis Martínez, Kenny Rogers, David Wells & Randy Johnson)

 

  1. Thomas had 1,704 career RBI. 

He drove himself in 521 times.

He drove in exactly 100 different teammates

Most often driven in?  Ray Durham (184 times)

 

  1. 1,047 players had at least 100 career plate appearances at old Comiskey Park.  Frank Thomas had the best on-base percentage of all of them

(.510 OBP in 102 PA)

 

  1. Thomas had a 52-game on-base streak to begin 1996… the streak was 57 games if you included the last 5 games of 1995.

 

  1. In his first 162 career MLB games, Frank Thomas reached base 313 times.

He hit .317/.449/.532 with 110 Runs, 27 HR, 106 RBI, 134 BB, 132 K, 3 HBP

 

  1. Frank Thomas has 5 of the 12 seasons of at least 40 home runs in White Sox history.  Nobody else has more than two. 

 

  1. A Double in his 149th career plate appearance (in his 39th career MLB game) put his career batting average at .303.  That career batting average never fell under .300 again.

 

  1. Frank Thomas has the most career HR by a player named Frank Thomas (521); which is 235 more than the other Frank Thomas, who was the Frank Thomas who played his final MLB game in a Chicago Uniform (5/30/1966 – with the Cubs).

 

  1. Frank Thomas’s first career grand slam (6/24/1991) scored two future Hall of Famers (Thomas & Tim Raines) and two future White Sox managers (Ozzie Guillen & Robin Ventura)

 

  1. Four position players were picked ahead of Frank Thomas in the 1989 MLB Draft.  Two never reached the Majors (Jeff Jackson & Paul Coleman) and the other two combined for 65 career home runs (Tyler Houston & Donald Harris).

 

  1. 508 players had at least 1,000 plate appearances during the 1990s.  Of those 508 the top two in on-base percentage were Frank Thomas (.440) and Barry Bonds (.434)

 

  1. Thomas hit .322/.448/.635 career vs lefties

 

  1. Thomas is the only player in White Sox history with multiple 5-game home run streaks.  Both were in 1994.

 

  1. In 38 career plate appearances against Bartolo Colón, Thomas hit .483/.605/.828 with 2 HR, 14 hits & 9 walks

 

  1. Besides his 448 HR, Thomas also is the White Sox franchise career leader in Runs (1,327), Doubles (447), RBI (1,465), Walks (1,466), OBP (.427 – min 1,500 PA) & SLG (.568 – min 1,500 PA)