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."

White Sox Talk Podcast: The 10th anniversary of Mark Buehrle's perfect game

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

White Sox Talk Podcast: The 10th anniversary of Mark Buehrle's perfect game

Chuck Garfien and Steve Stone take a look back at Mark Buehrle's perfect game. How did Buehrle do it? How did Dewayne Wise make that catch?

Plus, Buehrle and A.J. Pierzynski talk about how Buehrle actually told Pierzynski before taking that field that day that he would throw a perfect game and more.

Listen to the entire podcast here or in the embedded player below.

White Sox Talk Podcast

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Road struggles continue for Cubs in late-game implosion against Giants

Road struggles continue for Cubs in late-game implosion against Giants

It’s no secret that the Cubs have had their fair share of struggles on the road this season. Entering Monday’s game the Giants – the first of a nine-game road trip -- the Cubs held an 18-27 road record, 21st in all of baseball.

Things took a turn for the worse in that department on Monday night.

Clinging to a 4-2 lead in the eighth inning, the Cubs called upon reliever Pedro Strop to shut down the Giants 3-4-5 hitters. Strop, who entered action with a 4.62 ERA in 29 appearances (5.40 in July), surrendered three runs on four hits – including three doubles. The end result was the Giants taking a 5-4 lead, ultimately the game’s final score.

While Strop’s outing will get the most face time due to it occurring in a high-leverage spot, the truth of the matter is that the Cubs struggled for much of Monday’s game. After taking an early 3-0 lead, they couldn’t pull away from the Giants, watching San Francisco slowly close the gap and cut the deficit to 3-2 in the fifth inning.

The Giants actually came close to tying the game at 3-3 in the seventh inning, though Steve Cishek was able to work out of a first and second, one out jam to keep the Cubs ahead. Plus, before consecutive two out singles in the eighth inning – one being an RBI from Anthony Rizzo to give the Cubs an insurance run, the Cubs offense went through a 1-for-15 drought that began with two outs in the third inning.

At the same time, Strop struggling again is quite concerning. The 34-year-old has been the team's most reliable reliever for the past five seasons, posting sub-3.00 ERAs in each campaign from 2014-18. However, he's in the midst of a forgettable month, allowing seven runs on 11 hits in 7 2/3 innings. Strop also surrendered a game-tying home run in the eighth inning Friday against the Padres, though the Cubs were able to bounce back and win. 

Between their road woes and Strop's rough July, Monday's game did nothing to alleviate concerns over two unsettling Cubs trends. If there's one positive to take away from the game, it's that the Cubs were six outs away from picking up their third road win in seven tries this month.

Moral victories count for little when a team is in a heated pennant race, though, especially since the Cardinals took down the Pirates Monday to cut the Cubs' lead in the NL Central to 1.5 games. The Cubs have to find a way to get better on the road, and they have to find a way to get Strop back on track. Fortunately for the Cubs, there's still time to do both, as Strop pointed out postgame.

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