Blackhawks

My Kind of Town!

My Kind of Town!

Friday, November 6th

Its often tough to figure the art of being a fan. I could talk for days, and have, about its origins and meanings. Since I, and I would assume you, are way past that, well save that conversation for later. But, as always though, my fan issues are never far away. Take this last week, for me it was consumed by 2 things: The World Series and meeting Sandra Bullock on a press junket for the movie The Blind Side. One of these things left me with a smile and the other with heartbreak. Im sure you dont need to read any further to guess which was which, or do you?

For various reasons we all find ourselves being fans of certain celebrities. Accomplishments would hopefully be the main reason, but there are so many other variables on why one would be a fan of another person. As far as Sandra Bullock, I wouldnt say that I was a huge fan per say, but she always had something about her. As a guy, I first noticed that shes pretty easy on the eyes. What a great start! After that, the thing for me is that she appears to be cool, someone who gets it. Meaning shes the kind of girl you would meet at a bar watching a game, and she would be watching the game, not looking around the room to see whos looking at her.

As I read up on her before our meeting, much of her history would suggest this to be true. One thing Ive learned though is, as much as I study up on people, I need to go into our meeting with a clear mind and let nature take its course, so I tried not to be too expectant but I had a feeling that this might be fun. (Another thing that I knew was that I didnt want to discuss was her recent movie history, since after Speed, I didnt know a whole lot afterwards because shes had a propensity for making chick flicks. Of course I was FORCED to watch some of them, but my strategy in those situations is to transfer myself into a vegetative state with a smile on my face so as to show my enjoyment of the experience. The whole time Im hoping not to get caught with the blankness in my eyes that indicates without a doubt that Im not watching the TV, but instead going through the mental rolodex trying to figure out my favorite Three Stooges episode. Sure it was a good movie, honey. Im the evil spirit that guards the Rootin Tootin diamond!)

As I waited to enter the room where her interviews were being conducted, I was struck by the fact that everyone who was leaving the room did so with a smile and a glow. Once it was my turn to enter, it was easy to figure out why. Her openness and warmth was easily apparent, even during an interminable string of interviews which any mortal would find mind-numbing. (Especially mine Im sure!) Our conversation, stemming from a forced situation, was natural and easy. Wow! She is the girl next door. We started talking upon my entering the room and kept going past the work part, during which I never got the sense that she wasnt enjoying herself. Shes one of those people that have a natural ability to connect. She would have been a great bartender! (In fact, shes worked in and currently owns a restaurant. No surprise.) I left thinking shes cooler than I thought. I would recommend anyone to see the movie because of that alone. (Of course to get my official recommendation, and to see some of our conversation, youll have to watch my review on SportsNite on 1119 @ 10:30pm.)

So, as you might guess, Im now a big fan of Sandra Bullock. And thats the easy part of my fandom double-header. The other part wasnt as much fun, but no less enlightening. The World Series presented the interesting, to me anyway, combination of love and hate: My Philadelphia Phillies against the Evil Empire of the New York Yankees. Its hard to explain to someone from the Midwest about the feelings that the fans of other cities in the Northeast have towards ANY team from New York. Theyre the bully, the mean kid on the block, not to mention always tough to beat. From a lifetime going against them, victory, especially on an ultimate stage is elusive, to the point of knowing its probably not going to happen. And that was my mind-set going into this. Having won the title last year definitely took away some of the angst: Cant win every year, or appear to be greedy, but beating the Yanks and going back-to-back would be especially sweet.

As the Series got under way, something very Midwestern occurred. Ive often told folks from back east at the bar, that living here is great, that this is the biggest small-city in the world: Mayberry on steroids, the melting-pot of the Midwest. The constant here is that everyone is so nice. I experience it and hear about it from out-of-towners at the bar every day. There is something about the people here that even if you think differently, or root differently, thats o.k., youre allowed. I know Sox-Cubs can get bad, but after its over, its over. Sometimes a little friction isnt bad, besides theyre all unified in their love for the Bears. And from my experience, everyone here has at least one crazy relative that roots for the wrong side, teaching them tolerance of others that dont think right at an early age! So as Im about to root for the team of my youth, on the biggest stage, against THE team of professional sports, I was given constant encouragement by so many of my friends here. Texts, e-mails, phone calls, visits to the bar, you would have thought that I was actually playing. I know this probably happens to others elsewhere, but for me, it just reinforced my opinion of my adopted hometown. The people here are as sports-crazed as anywhere in the world and are no strangers to pain because of it. But in the end, its a game that youre rooting for, if it doesnt work out today, it will tomorrow. Its not the end of the world. If someone elses team is still playing, wish them well. So as many of my Cub brethren were still suffering with another untimely demise, they still found the time to offer me support on the fate of my team.

Unfortunately, it wasnt the fate that Id hoped. It still was a great ride though and the bitterness that Ive felt in the past after tough losses isnt there. (Well, lets sayas much!) Maybe, its because of increased perspective and maturity as I advance in my years. (I hope you found that last line as funny as I did!) No, its because Im tempered with the knowledge that life is more than what your team accomplishes and the people here teach me that every day. In fact, as I did my errands and went different places on Thursday, no one here seemed to care about the World Series result at all. In fact, it was just another beautiful fall day. Thank you Chicago! I needed that.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Reacting to Round 1 of NHL Draft

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Reacting to Round 1 of NHL Draft

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle and Charlie Roumeliotis recap Round 1 of the 2018 NHL Draft.

They discuss the pair of puck-carrying defensemen that the Blackhawks selected on Friday, Adam Boqvist and Nicolas Beaudin. When can we expect to see these first-round picks play in the NHL?

Boyle also goes 1-on-1 with Boqvist and Beaudin. The guys spoke with Stan Bowman and Joel Quenneville on Friday.

The guys also share their biggest takeaways from those interviews, which includes your daily Corey Crawford update and Quenneville appeared excited that the team has plenty of cap space to spend in free agency.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

It's only one start, but that's the Lucas Giolito that White Sox fans expected to see this season

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USA TODAY

It's only one start, but that's the Lucas Giolito that White Sox fans expected to see this season

The preseason expectations and the results have been drastically different for Lucas Giolito.

Expected to be the best pitcher on the White Sox starting staff, Giolito hasn’t come too close to that title, instead heading into Friday’s doubleheader with the most earned runs allowed of any pitcher in baseball. His walk total has been among the highest in the game all year long, too. And the calls from social media to send him down to Triple-A haven’t been at all infrequent.

But Friday, White Sox fans got a glimpse at what they expected, a look at the guy who earned so much hype with a strong September last season and a dominant spring training.

It wasn’t a performance that would make any reasonable baseball person’s jaw drop. But it was the best Giolito has looked this season. He still allowed four runs on seven hits — as mentioned, not a Cy Young type outing — but he struck out a season-high eight batters. Prior to giving up the back-to-back singles to start the eighth inning that brought an end to his evening, he’d surrendered just two runs.

Most importantly he walked just two guys and didn’t seem to struggle with his command at all. That’s a big deal for a pitcher who had 45 walks to his name prior to Friday.

“You know it was a tough eighth inning, but throughout the whole game, I felt in sync,” Giolito said. “(Catcher Omar Narvaez) and I were working really well, finally commanding the fastball the way I should. Definitely the best I felt out there this year, for sure. Velocity was up a tick. Just felt right, felt in sync. Just competed from there.”

Confidence has never left Giolito throughout the poor results, and he’s talked after every start about getting back on the horse and giving it another try. Consistently working in between starts, things finally seemed to click Friday night.

“It all worked today,” manager Rick Renteria said. “(Pitching coach Don Cooper) says that every bullpen has gotten better, from the beginning to this point. He sees progress. The velocity that he showed today was something that Coop was seeing in his work. You can see that his delivery is continuing to improve. He was trusting himself, really attacking the strike zone, trusted his breaking ball today when he need to and just tried to command as much as he could. Did a nice job.”

Giolito went through this kind of thing last year, when he started off poorly at Triple-A Charlotte with a 5.40 ERA through his first 16 starts. But then things got better, with Giolito posting a 2.78 ERA over his final eight starts with the Knights before getting called up to the big leagues.

This was just one start, of course, but perhaps he can follow a similar formula this year, too, going from a rough beginning to figuring things out.

“I’m not trying to tinker or think about mechanics anymore,” he said. “It’s about flow, getting out there and making pitches. We were able to do that for the most part.

“I’ll watch video and see certain things, and I have little cues here and there. But I’m not going to go and overanalyze things and nitpick at certain stuff anymore. It’s about going there and having fun and competing.”

Maybe that’s the secret. Or maybe this is simply a brief flash of brilliance in the middle of a tough first full season in the bigs.

Whatever it was, it was the best we’ve seen of Giolito during the 2018 campaign. And it was far more like what was expected back before that campaign got going.