White Sox

LIN-SANE IN THE MEMBRANE

LIN-SANE IN THE MEMBRANE

By Frankie O
CSNChicago.com

We all want to believe in something. Its the nature of who we are. Its also at the core of the media age in which we live. Were inundated with endless stories of perseverance in every arena of life. We never fail to be mesmerized by those who make good from unthinkable odds. One journey against-the-odds that seems to resonate with all of us is when it occurs in sports. We can relate. It touches us. The Walt Disney Company alone has made a fortune in putting these stories on the big screen. When I come home late at night after a shift at the bar, turn on the TV and check the movies on the satellite, if one of those movies is on, Im done. I cant help myself. I mean, can you even think of turning off Invincible? I didnt think so!

These movies prove that the script in real life can be more gripping than ones we can try to imagine. Although, Hollywood can dress them up real nice. I personally loved the casting of Diane Lane as the owner in Secretariat. That was real nice, but I digress.

As we turn the page from football, the sporting world is looking for the next thing. I think we can all agree that weve had enough Tebow-mania, at least until next September.

Well, hes here. Meet Jeremy Lin, currently the rage of the sporting world. His path to the forefront of our consciousness is as unbelievable as it is compelling. And the argument is which is more unlikely: his path or what he has been able to accomplish with his new-found opportunity?

If Tebow taught us anything, its that the will to achieve is a very powerful thing. In the right circumstance, greatness, or at the very least success, can be attained by an unflinching belief that it is attainable. If not for just himself, but also those around him who are inspired by what they are witnessing. The other thing he showed us is the amount of venom out there for anyone who captures our imagination. For me, that was the thing that turned me into a fan. Most would agree that his magical ride was not something anyone could have seen. And I mean anyone! But the way his football abilities were ridiculed was a little over the top. Of course I recognize some of this fueled by Tebow himself and his exuberance to share his faith-based beliefs at every opportunity. While I thought that bordered on over-kill, I dont deny his right to believe in what he cares to believe in. I just think there is a time and a place. When he started talking about things that I didnt want to hear, I just put on my ear-muffs. (Go ahead Will Ferrell, say anything, I wont hear you!) (As an aside: I think Will would be the best stadium announcer ever! Or at least give the guy who holds that distinction, the late, great Dave Zinkoff, a run for his money. For those of you who dont know him, the Zink as he was known in Philly was the public address announcer for the Sixers during the Julius Erving era. After his passing, they retired his microphone and hung its likeness on a banner in the rafters. Can you imagine? All of the posers you hear at NBA arenas today are just cheap imitations! Anyway, I loved the reactions that my boy got in the press after he announced the lineups. For those of you who didnt get it, that was the point. Thats his humor and, in fact, your not getting it makes it even funnier. Besides, the players loved it, need I say more?)

Which brings us back to Lin. His story is such a pure basketball struggle and doesnt seem to come with the morality tale baggage of Tebow. I know that there is a conversation about his Taiwanese background and, unfortunately, some of the distress that it has caused him because of the ignorance of others, but he is not belaboring that point. Hes letting his balling do the talking and, so far, thats all we need to hear.

Its for the fact that he doesnt feel compelled to share his message, that I dont feel that comparisons to Tebow are accurate. Its just that their ascents have overlapped to an extent, and the fact that theyve had such unexpected success in common, that folks will reference them to each other.

I actually have another phenomenon reference. Notice I didnt say athlete, because Im about to reference a horse and horses arent athletes, theyre horsies. But I find some of the similarities irrefutable. That horse was Seabiscuit. (Another great movie by the way, one of my all-time favorites!)

Having been infatuated by the movie since I saw it 8 years ago, I recently decided to listen to the audio-book version of Laura Hillenbrands Seabiscuit: An American Legend from which the movie was based. (Having, for years, not been able to find a constant, suitable companion on my radio, for my forty-minute late-night ride home from work each evening, Ive begun to listen to books. And you know what? Im hooked. Who knew?) It really is one of the most fascinating stories Ive ever heard, made more so by the fact of how and when it happened. A horse whos grandsire was the second best racehorse of all-time, Man o War, the Biscuit languished for years due to misconceptions about him due to his appearance. He was never given the chance to be what he could be until he was chanced upon by the owner-trainer duo of Charles S. Howard and Tom Smith. They recognized, in a stroke of chance, something in the horse that no one else had seen. Some of what Lin had to deal was due to his ethnic appearance. Who had ever seen an Asian-American point-guard with NBA ability? Wittingly or not, sometimes we judge on appearance as a first measure. Wish it wasnt the case, but we could go round-and-round on that one for days. Seabiscuit was given a more difficult path to overcome. Same with Lin. Despite success at the high school level in California, Lin wasnt offered a scholarship to any D-1 schools. His best option was Harvard, which doesnt offer athletic scholarships, and was not exactly known for its basketball prowess, but, hey, did I mention it was Harvard?!

Seeking a pro career, Lin was soon awakened by the reality that no one wanted him, as he went undrafted. He was offered some try-outs and spots on developmental teams, but achieving an NBA contract from there, let alone to be someone who you would know about, is your proverbial million-to-one longshot. So he gave it his all until after some impressive summer-league outings, including a good showing against number-one-overall pick John Wall, he was offered a contract by the team closest to his home, the Golden State Warriors. Despite some notoriety due to his background, it was a year spent going up and down to the D-league and he finished the year playing in parts of 29 games in the Association. After the lockout, he was waived by the Warriors and then picked up by the Rockets. After two pre-season games, they too, gave him the boot. That left him available for the Knicks, who promptly sent him to their D-League team. After a monster game in late January, he was called up once more.

Its at this point that the stories get similar again. Despite bucking odds, and performing for someone who wasnt quite able to totally understand what they possessed, they were given a chance on the highest level and they seized it. For Seabiscuit, having Tom Smith as a trainer brought out what he was bred to do. For Lin, playing point-guard for Mike DAntoni, was exactly the situation for him to exploit his talents. His game fits perfectly with DAntonis system. Sometimes, you just need a chance, and some luck. The Knicks were so awful, Lin got his chance to show how well he fits, and during the last 13 days and seven games, all wins, Lin-sanity was born.

Like I said before, we all want to believe in something. Something good. Something unexpected. It was the case nearly 75 years ago when Seabiscuit took the world by storm during the late 1930s of the Great Depression. Common folks were so beat down, that they needed something in their lives that could provide inspiration. Something that would prove that if they were given a second chance, that they could succeed. Seabiscuit rose against huge odds to become a champion and was Horse of the Year for 1938. That year included the match-race duel against Triple Crown winner War Admiral, the race of the century that was the ultimate David vs. Goliath story of horse racing. Seabiscuit won and became a world-wide sensation. He made people feel that anything was possible.

While we are not quite in as difficult of economic times, we find ourselves in a time of strain. Its in these times that we look for someone to capture our imagination. To show us hope. Someone who has fought and been put down, and then rises to fight again, not giving up on their dream. (Rocky?) It reminds us that anything is doable if you use your talents and put your mind to it. And now Jeremy Lin has become a world-wide sensation. The game last Friday against Kobe and the Lakers put him on the map. Since then Ive had his next 3 games on at the bar, because I want to watch, and so does everyone else. Imagine that, here in Chicago, watching Knick games! That must give M.J. and Scottie a shudder! But you know what? Watching games at Madison Square Garden is cool. Theres an energy there again. When that happens, there is no place that I would rather watch a game. (During Wednesday nights game, every time the Kings guard, Isaiah Thomas touched the ball, he was lustily booed. No hes not that Isiah but who cares? BOOO! How cool is that?) And, because of Lin, the Knicks are winning again. Its only fun when you win, thats the point!

For me, I guess, thats what it all gets down to. Heres a guy whos bounced around, is living on his brothers sofa and in two weeks has become the toast of New York because he is fearless and plays to win. And through it all, he just acts like a humble gym-rat. Theres nothing like that time when something is new and dynamic and pure, when it hasnt been bogged down by the eventual realities of the world we live in. (In the NBA, that means a telephone call from a Kardashian sister asking you out for drinks. On you, of course!)

So while I thought this NBA season, where teams play 3 out 4 days for 3 months, was going to wear me out and make me as disinterested as say the team in Charlotte, I have something to root for besides a Heat loss. If you had told me that 3 weeks ago, I would have looked at you and said you were Lin-sane!

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.