White Sox

How Hope became hope for kids

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How Hope became hope for kids

Bob Muzikowski has a message for President Barack Obama and Rahm Emanuel, the mayor of Chicago:

"If you want to affect the schools, put your own kids in it," he said.

Muzikowski, who owns his own small insurance brokerage company, put his money and his children where his mouth is.

Eight years ago, he and some friends bought St. Callistus elementary school from the Chicago Archdiocese for 1.9 million, then spent 5 million to rehab the building. Seven years ago, he opened Hope Academy, a co-educational, non-denominational Christian college and life preparatory school.

Located at 2189 W. Bowler, Hope Academy opened with 30 sophomores and 40 freshmen and has increased its enrollment to 157 with a planned maximum of 240. Three of Muzikowski's seven children have graduated from Hope. Two have gone on to Ivy League schools. Three other children currently are attending Hope and a 9-year-old will go there, too.

"We are dedicated to nurturing the whole person--body, mind and spirit--to the glory of God," said Muzikowski, who serves as the school's chief administrator and spends 50 hours a week in the building.

"I wanted to even the playing field for inner city kids. Not all private schools should be for rich kids or racially segregated. Our graduates have been accepted at Georgetown, Notre Dame, Columbia, Carnegie Mellon, Illinois and Wheaton College.

"The assumption is that minority schools have to be second-rate and that isn't the case. We just have to buckle down and do the work. We're about educating young boys and turning them into men. Our average ACT score is the highest in the city for a non-magnet school, 21.5."

Born in Bayonne, New Jersey, Muzikowski played baseball and football at Columbia University. He was the first in his family to go to college. His father dropped out of high school to fight in World War II.

Muzikowski moved to Chicago as a newlywed in 1988 and moved into an apartment a block away from the Cabrini Green housing project on the near West Side. He was an insurance agent. His wife was a trader for J.P. Morgan. He started a Little League in Cabrini in 1991.

Along the way, he met Mike Edwards, a 1987 graduate of Elston High School in Michigan City, Indiana, and a former baseball player at Valparaiso University.

"How do we affect change in their lives?" Muzikowski asked Edwards after he began coaching the Little Leaguers. "Open a school."

"We wanted to make a difference," said Edwards, who is in his fourth year as Hope's basketball coach.

Hope Academy, often confused with Hope High School, is not affiliated with the Chicago Public Schools or the Chicago Archdiocese. It is an independent school, like Latin School or Francis Parker or Chicago Lab. Its faculty includes 10 graduates of Wheaton College.

"Teachers are lining up out the door to work at a school that is organized and disciplined," Muzikowski said. "We're old school. The harder we work, the luckier we get."

The basketball team is 17-2 and rated among the favorites to win the Class 1A championship. Its only losses were to highly rated Huntley and St. Ignatius. But the Eagles have beaten Class 3A power Marshall, which won a state championship in 2008. It conducts practices and plays "home" games at Tim Grover's Attack Athletics training facility on the West Side.

"It would be great for morale if we won (the 1A title)," Muzikowski said, "but our goal is for the kids to try hard and compete with other teams. It is more important to build young men of character. Sports is as important as history and biology. When I was a kid, I would have died to win a state championship."

Carlos Rodon's first win in 10 months showed he could still be the ace of the future for White Sox

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USA TODAY

Carlos Rodon's first win in 10 months showed he could still be the ace of the future for White Sox

As encouraging as the reports are on many of the White Sox’s minor-league pitching prospects, Carlos Rodon’s effort against the Athletics on Sunday at Guaranteed Rate Field could prove just as significant to the rebuild on the South Side.

Looking much like the ace the Sox envisioned prior to Rodon’s rough 2017 season that ended with shoulder surgery, the left-hander put together his most successful effort of ’18 during a 10-3 drubbing of the Athletics before a sun-drenched crowd of 21,908.

Making his fourth start of the season, Rodon matched a career-high by going eight innings. He yielded two runs on seven hits with no walks and three strikeouts. Rodon earned his first win of the season to help the Sox salvage a split of the four-game series.

“I felt good today—a lot of strikes,” Rodon said. “It was good to go eight and just be ahead of guys.”

Helping matters for Rodon was an offensive explosion by the Sox, led by Yoan Moncada’s career-high six RBIs. After falling behind 2-0, the Sox plated five runs in each of the fifth and sixth innings as Moncada cleared the bases with a double off the base of the wall in the fifth and launched his 10th home run of the season to drive in three more an inning later.

“Today was a great day,” Moncada said via a team interpreter. “I just went out to play the game the way that I play. Just to have fun. It was a very good game for me.”

Daniel Palka and Yolmer Sanchez also homered as the Sox won for just the second time in their last 11 games.

Rodon was the happy recipient of the run support to win his first game since Aug. 21, 2017, against the Twins. On Sunday, he threw 99 pitches, 69 for strikes and was consistently in the mid-90s with his fastball.

“I’m looking to do that every time out,” Rodon said. “Just show up and establish the strike zone with the fastball and be aggressive.”

The 25-year-old’s second-inning strikeout of Khris Davis was the 400th of Rodon’s career. It is a career that is continuing after a surgery that was a setback, but one that did not derail Rodon’s confidence that he would again pitch effectively.

“There are up-and-down days when you go through shoulder surgery or any surgery for any player,” Rodon said. “You've just got to work through it and try to make your way back. I'm here now and it’s looking up and I’m trying to get better.”

So is it reasonable to view Rodon as the future ace after all?

“You certainly can’t discount that,” manager Rick Renteria said. “He has to go out there and continue to get his feet underneath him and get through the rest of the season healthy and climbing.”

In other Sox pitching news, Renteria said starter Dylan Covey, who was removed in the fifth inning of Saturday’s game due to a hip flexor injury, “felt better” Sunday and the team will continue to monitor the right-hander’s progress.

Meanwhile, veteran Miguel Gonzalez made a rehab start for Triple-A Charlotte as he continues to recover from inflammation in his right rotator cuff. Gonzalez went three innings and allowed one hit with a walk and a strikeout. Outfielder Eloy Jimenez belted his first homer for the Knights in the game.

A series to forget: Facts and figures from Cubs' rough weekend in Cincinnati

A series to forget: Facts and figures from Cubs' rough weekend in Cincinnati

The Cubs and their fans may want to invent and use one of those Men In Black neuralyzers because the four-game series in Cincinnati was one to forget.

The Reds finished off a four-game sweep of the Cubs on Sunday with an 8-6 win. The way the Reds won the finale will be especially painful for the Cubs considering they led 6-1 after six innings. Mike Montgomery appeared to tire in the seventh inning and Pedro Strop got rocked out of the bullpen to lead to a seven-run seventh for the hosts.

The Reds have now won seven in a row and 10 of 12, but still sit 13 games under .500. Bizarrely, the Reds also swept the Dodgers, the Cubs’ next opponent, in a four-game series in May. Duane Underwood will start for the Cubs Monday against the Dodgers and make his major league debut.

Here are some other wild facts and figures from the series:

  • The last time the Reds swept the Cubs in a four-game series was back in 1983. That was the first week of the season and three weeks before the infamous Lee Elia rant.
  • One positive for the Cubs from the game was Montgomery’s start. Through six innings he allowed one run on three hits and two walks. However, he gave up a single, a double and a single in the seventh before Strop relieved him. Montgomery had gone six innings and allowed one run in each of his last four outings.
  • Strop was definitely a negative. On his first pitch, Strop gave up a home run to pinch-hitter Jesse Winker, the second home run for a Reds pinch-hitter in the game. Then Strop allowed a single, a walk, a single and a double before getting an out. Strop’s final line: 2/3 inning pitched, four runs, one strikeout, three walks, four hits.
  • The Cubs led in three of the four games this series, including two leads after five innings.
  • The Cubs were 5-for-23 (.217) with runners in scoring position in the series. On the season the Cubs are hitting .233 with RISP, which is 22nd in the majors and fourth-worst in the National League (but ahead of the division-rival Brewers and Cardinals).
  • The Reds outscored the Cubs 31-13 and scored at least six runs in every game. The Reds are now 6-3 against the Cubs this year after going a combined 17-40 against the Cubs from 2015-2017.