White Sox

Mundelein's Borucki: Like father, like son

727584.png

Mundelein's Borucki: Like father, like son

Ray Borucki is proud of his son Ryan, who has emerged as the leading major league prospect in Illinois this spring. And he hopes the hard-throwing pitcher will enjoy all of the thrills that he experienced while he was a young and promising baseball player.

Ray was a star second basemanpitcher on Niles West's 1975 state championship team. He pitched a no-hitter to beat Springfield 13-0 in the state semifinals. It was one of 19 no-hitters in the history of the state finals. And it was the third state championship team produced by legendary Niles West coach Jim Phipps.

After the season, Borucki wasn't drafted. But he received 6,000 for signing with the Philadelphia Phillies out of high school.

"Everybody's dream is to be a professional baseball player," he said.

The Phillies assigned him to their minor league club in Spartanburg, South Carolina. He was allotted 6 a day for meal money. The team took buses everywhere. He played with future Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg and one-time Cub center fielder Bobby Dernier.

He played in the minor leagues for five years, first for the Phillies, then for the Detroit Tigers. He never made it to the big leagues.

"But it was the greatest time of my life outside of winning the state title in high school," Ray said. "I enjoyed my teammates and the relationships. The money wasn't big. But you played because you loved it. We won two league titles. I wouldn't have traded the experience for anything."

Now Ray hopes his son will experience even more success in professional baseball. As a 6-foot-4 lefty with a 92 mph fastball, he has the kind of potential that major league scouts are looking for in a young prospect. Thirty scouts showed up at one of his recent outings. He is projected to be chosen in the first 10 rounds in the upcoming major league draft.

His father has worked an 11-to-7 midnight shift for the last 16 years so he can coach baseball, pitch batting practice to his son and attend all of his games. "It's worth every minute," Ray said.

Because his son was so small -- he was a 5-foot-9, 130-pounder as a sophomore -- Borucki never thought he would be big enough to be a pitcher. Both of them thought he would be a first baseman and a hitter. So Ray began pitching batting practice to Ryan when he was five years old.

"As much as he loves to pitch, nothing compares to the time I have thrown to him in batting practice over the years," Ray said. "He has taken more batting practice than anyone. What has been great about Ryan is he never once said he didn't feel like going to have batting practice."

Even though Ryan has grown to 6-foot-4 and become a pitching prospect, not a hitting prospect, his father continues to toss batting practice. Ryan continues to play first base when he isn't pitching. And his continues to be one of his team's leading batsmen with a .343 average. He even takes batting practice while he is sitting out with a sore elbow.

In fact, his father blames himself for his son's injury and his current 10-day layoff. Ryan came up sore while pitching a no-hitter against Cary-Grove last week. Rather than come out of the game, he stayed in to compete the no-hitter.

"I threw a no-hitter in the state semifinals in 1975 and I think part of the reason he didn't come out of the game was because he wanted to say he had pitched a no-hitter," Ray said. "So I think it is partly my fault that he has to sit out for a while."

Father and son have a great bond. They are best friends. "To watch him work this hard, to come on in the last year to achieve what he has...well, I'm really proud of him," Ray said.

Why Royals pitcher Brad Keller hit Tim Anderson: Bat flip was 'over the top'

Why Royals pitcher Brad Keller hit Tim Anderson: Bat flip was 'over the top'

Brad Keller seems to be OK with being a villain in Chicago.

“I was on Chicago's villain list,” the Royals pitcher said during an appearance on The Charity Stripe podcast. “NBC Sports tweeted it. The list was LeBron James, Aaron Rodgers, Ryan Braun and me and one hockey player. I'm like, 'This is a pretty good list to be on.'”


Keller entered the collective Chicago sports consciousness when he intentionally hit Tim Anderson with a pitch last April, sparking a benches-clearing incident, a couple of suspensions and a resurgence in baseball’s ceaseless debate over unwritten rules and the culture war between old-school and new-school mentalities.

For White Sox fans long bereft of the meaningful baseball that typically stokes heated rivalries, Keller plunking one of the faces of the franchise — not only a strong presence in the community but a guy who since his best friend was killed has not stopped talking about how much fun he wants to have on the field — did the trick.

“It was like the first week of April. I'm not going to say a meaningless game because every game in the big leagues means something. But the 12th game of the season doesn't really define if you're going to make the playoffs or not,” Keller recounted. “This game, I was grinding. I was sucking this game. I was throwing really well, numbers-wise, but I think I was behind every single hitter. I was getting lucky, honestly. I was all over the place. I think I had five walks that game, too.

“Comes around the fourth inning, or whatever it is. Runner gets on second base. And I think the at-bat, he battled me for like nine pitches. It was like a long-ass AB, I remember. Basically, in my mind, I'm like, 'I'm not walking him.' Because he's fast, he can steal bases if he gets on. If there's a single, he's probably going to score from first. So I'm like, 'I'm not going to walk this guy.' So I throw a sinker in, and he turns on it, hits a home run.

“And how he acted afterwards, to me and my whole team, was just over the top. It's like, 'Bro, you hit a homer. Congrats.' This wasn't a Game 7 homer. This wasn't a playoff homer. This wasn't even a homer to win the game. Ultimately, we won the game, 3-2, in the long run, but that gets kind of lost in the whole transaction of everything. It just seemed like, at the time, it was an April home run. 'Why are you throwing your bat to the dugout or whatever?' We had beefs in the past, as far as our teams, and that was just like fuel on the fire, basically, is what it seemed like.

RELATED: Tim Anderson and the Royals stir up baseball's never-ending debate: 'You want him to not do that? Get him out'

“I was upset because I was grinding that day and I was already pissed off at myself, and then you pull some shit like that? It was like, 'All right, this is bullshit.' ... I come in, and I'm pissed, I'm hot. And I had other guys on the team like, 'Screw this guy,' basically. Like I said, we (the Royals) had beefs (with Anderson) in the past.

“So anyway, comes down to it. We ended up tying the game up. Comes around the sixth inning, and he had to know it was coming. He was leading off the sixth inning, and he was literally a foot from the dirt when I was on my second warm-up pitch. I've never seen anyone get out to the box that fast in my life.”

Being “over the top” in celebrating an accomplishment doesn’t really seem like the type of thing that warrants having a projectile thrown at you. But that’s what the old-school types think. Keller, it should be noted, is younger than Anderson.

Major League Baseball seems to be supportive of bat flips and celebrations and the like, spending a hefty sum on an advertising campaign trumpeting that style of behavior: “Let the kids play.” After all, baseball’s a game, and games are supposed to be fun.

But bad blood between division rivals must be thicker than any sea change in how a new generation of players is acting on the field.

Keller’s explanation of the event isn’t about to win him any fans on the South Side of Chicago, and he’ll likely stay on that list of villains, at least as long as Anderson remains a White Sox hero. After winning the big league batting title last season and being at the center of a young team on the rise, that could last a long while.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.

NFL head coaches can reportedly return to team facilities next week

NFL head coaches can reportedly return to team facilities next week

No one steals thunder quite like the NFL. 

On a day when the NHL is planning to publicly announce how their season will return, it's being reported that the NFL may take a significant step towards their own reopening – and soon. 

Yahoo Sports' NFL columnist Charles Robinson is reporting that NFL coaches may return to team facilities as early as next week, and the league has its eyes on OTAs in mid-to-late June:

The sources told Yahoo Sports that if coaches resume their in-house work next week, minicamps including players could be scheduled as early as June 15 or as late as June 27, depending on COVID-19 data and whether a handful of franchises get a “go ahead” signal from state governments to resume full operations. Resuming full operations and getting a minicamp scheduled would represent the league's biggest step to date toward keeping the 2020 NFL season on track for a regularly scheduled fall kickoff.

Robinson's source adds that 'June 15 and June 27 are the dates that have been identified as potential full-squad minicamp windows,' and the 'key hurdle' is the timeline in which California governor Gavin Newsom begins to reopen the state. Newsom has already expressed a willingness to have professional sports team return under strict and specific guidelines. 

The news is a good sign for the return of the NFL on a normal schedule – a reality that's looked increasingly likely over the past couple weeks.