Cubs

Konroyd: Desperation factor has Hawks on a safer ledge

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Konroyd: Desperation factor has Hawks on a safer ledge

The Blackhawks played their best game of this first round on Saturday night. They're mad that they waited until Game 5 to finally bring it together as a team. That's the bad news.

The good news is that they have been playing a little better in each and every game of this series. Some might call it the 'desperation factor' that has improved their play of late. I liken it to hanging by your fingers on a window ledge with a Coyote gnawing at your knuckles. The Hawks know there are no do-overs and if they let up just a bit, they'll lose their grip and fall out of this series.

But these kind of situations get your attention and get you focused. Knowing that any mistake you make on the ice might send you home for the summer is pretty sobering. There's a focus and purpose to Chicago's game that wasn't there just a couple of games ago.

Enthusiasm and energy have replaced doom and gloom. A lot of experts were looking to the core when Chicago went down 3-1 in the series. And let's face it, to whom much is given, much is expected. So without Marian Hossa, the top-3 in Chicago -- Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp -- had combined for just two goals in the first four games. But to be fair, the top-3 for Phoenix -- Radim Vrbata, Ray Whitney and Shane Doan -- had combined for the same number of goals. This has been a series that has been decided in the trenches and won with the lunchpail crew. Michael Frolik, Bryan Bickell, Antoine Vermette and Mikkel Boedker are names you don't associate with postseason scoring.

Fortunately for the Blackhawks a lot of that changed when Toews decided to make sure he got his team to play another game. So now, heading into Game 6, the Blackhawks just got a couple of more fingers back on that window ledge.

Cubs' Jason Heyward on racial injustice: 'It feels like a broken record'

Cubs' Jason Heyward on racial injustice: 'It feels like a broken record'

Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward joined ESPN 1000’s “Waddle & Silvy” on Monday for a candid conversation on the unrest and tensions across the country following the death of George Floyd at the hands of officer Derek Chauvin.

“It feels like a broken record and where we’re watching a rerun,” Heyward told Marc Silverman and Tom Waddle. “I feel like these things continue to happen over and over and over again and you have people continuously and helplessly trying to find a solution.”

Heyward, who grew up in McDonough, Ga. described how his father discussed racial injustice with him and his brother at a young age.

RELATED: Cubs co-owner Laura Ricketts: 'We all need to step up to end' racial injustice

“He didn’t do that just to do it, that wasn’t something he was proud of having to do and having to explain,” he said. “That was something from experience that he could take and know that he went to one of the first integrated schools in South Carolina, integrated movie theaters, having separate bathrooms — things like that.”

Those conversations continued as Heyward committed to pursuing a professional baseball career while in high school, he said. As he was preparing to play for a travel team in East Cobb, Ga., his father told him of what he may face, such as being called the N word and people talking bad about his family.

Heyward noted how as a minor leaguer in the Braves farm system, he faced racism playing games in Savannah, Ga. — then home to a Mets affiliate. Silverman mentioned the racist messages Heyward received on Twitter after leaving the Cardinals in free agency to join the Cubs. Last year, MLB investigated racist messages sent to former Cub Carl Edwards Jr. on social media.

Although he said he experiences less of that today in the big leagues, Heyward added it still happens and that’s the message that needs to be shared. He described how the start to reaching a solution is people continuing to discuss racial injustice and being willing to listen and be aware of others’ concerns.

"While everyone has different views and different concerns and every ethnicity, race, gender, all these things — people have their own struggles, man," he said. "But I think at the end of the day, right now we’re seeing a lot of conversation about this that we’ve seen before but I think it’s being spread a little bit faster through social media, through LeBron James, through the rest of the NBA, through other athletes, through people that are starting to look around and say ‘I’m not African American, I’m not black but this affects me too.

"'This affects my kids, this affects them going to school, this affects my friends and their families and their generation.' So, I feel like everyone is a little bit more woke right now, regardless of how ugly things have been, how hard things have been on the people that are being affected most."

Floyd's death sparked week-long protests across the country that became violent. Heyward talked about looking into the future and what happens next as he sees some of the nation's more angry responses.

"I see confusion. I see anger, I see hatred, and these are all things people deal with as human beings on a daily basis. You have some people going out there with a certain message that they’re gonna put out. You have other people going out there and following and thinking they’re doing it for the right thing, but they don’t exactly understand it."

Heyward sees both sides of the issue, expressing sympathy for the difficult job and "judgements" police face.

"To me, that’s the trickle-down effect and what sucks is there are a lot of good cops, there are a lot of great cops," he said. "I’m friends with some — close family friends — to where they’re gonna take a lot of heat for this as well."

The bottomline is this issue isn't new for the life many Americans live on a daily basis.

"When you have hatred, when you have anger, when you have people that dealt with this 40 years ago, when you have people that dealt with this 20 years ago, people that dealt with it 10 years ago, people for the first time dealing with it now, you got people at all different walks of life who have different emotions about it and different thoughts on how to handle it.

"Everyone's not gonna have the same opinion, everyone's not gonna agree. But having the conversations, putting it out there and being aware of how we're all thinking as different individuals is a huge step in the right direction."

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Brian Urlacher's curious response to Grant Hill on Instagram is cringeworthy

Brian Urlacher's curious response to Grant Hill on Instagram is cringeworthy

For some reason, on Monday evening, hair plug enthusiast and former Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher felt his input was necessary. 

Urlacher hopped on over to Grant Hill's (??) Instagram account and decided that he'd contribute by leaving inflammatory nonsense in the comment section, where the most useful and productive conversation always takes place:

Hey Brian? What was the point of this? Surely you can find something better to do with your time, right? If you're looking for overwhelming validation on social media just make a joke about Aaron Rodgers. And while we're on the topic, did YOU watch that press conference, Brian? I'd bet if you asked the vast majority of fans you made your Instagram for if they felt protected right now, the answer would surprise you. No one's forcing you to carry all that water because you spent 120 seconds in the Oval Office. Maybe just log off for the night! It's really easy! All you do is literally anything else besides going on random athlete's pages to start fights.