White Sox

Orr makes waves in Red-West

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Orr makes waves in Red-West

To hear Louis Adams tell it, his Orr basketball team has more talent and potential than USA Basketball. That's right, Orr, which has never seriously contended for a Public League championship and never has qualified for the Sweet Sixteen in the state tournament.

But Adams might be right, after all. At least give him the benefit of a doubt. His Spartans are 16-3 going into the Public League playoffs, which includes victories over Red-West rivals Whitney Young and Marshall, highly rated Seton and perennial power Detroit Country Day. They defeated Hales Franciscan 51-36 on Saturday night.

"This is the best team I have ever had, even better than Englewood (which was 27-5 in 2007 and lost to North Lawndale in the regional final)," Adams said. "We have four Division I players. Our goal is to win the city. We know we have to get by Simeon. We know they are good but we are pretty good, too. Our guard play gives us an edge."

Adams acknowledges that Simeon's Jabari Parker and Marshall's Milton Doyle are the two best players in the Public League. But he insists he has four players who are as good or better than any comparable foursome on any other team in the state.

And Adams knows something about guards. Born and raised in Tunica, Mississippi, he was a Division III All-America point guard at Rust College in Holly Springs, Mississippi. Whitney Young coach Tyrone Slaughter was his roommate. He was invited to the U.S. Olympic trials in 1984.

"The strength of our team is guard play. They play with toughness and intelligence and make good decisions," Adams said. "You can go a long way if you make good decisions, who to pass to, knowing your personnel on the floor, when to slow down and when to fast break, when to pull back and when to speed it up. Good guards make the difference in the state tournament."

Competing in the Red-West, generally recognized as the most competitive basketball conference in the state, Adams believes weekly battles against the likes of Marshall, Crane, Farragut and Whitney Young will prepare his young squad for the Class 3A sectional at Glenbard South, which also includes Crane, Marshall, Farragut, North Lawndale, St. Joseph and Riverside-Brookfield.

What kind of a statement did Orr's recent 68-50 victory over Marshall mean? Durell Williams, a 6-foot-2 junior, came off the bench to lead the Spartans with 18 points and 15 rebounds. Marquise Pryor, a 6-foot-7 junior, contributed 12 points and 15 rebounds while 5-foot-9 junior point guard Jamal McDowell had 8 points and 12 assists. McDowell also limited Marshall star Milton Doyle to 10 points, 14 below his average.

"It tells us we can play with anybody in the city," Adams said. "The guards played well, like I know they can play. You have to have good guard play to succeed in the state tournament."

Adams describes Pryor as the leading rebounder in the state. He is averaging 17 points and 19 rebounds per game. "He has a knack for the ball, a Dennis Rodman type, like (former North Lawndale star) Jonathan Mills but more offense, He is relentless," the coach said.

Pryor is being recruited by Illinois, Baylor, Kansas State, Marquette and Colorado State, according to Adams. With a summer and another high school season remaining before graduation, he likely will receive much more attention from Division I programs.

So will 6-foot-7 sophomore Tyquone Greer, who is averaging 13 points per game. Greer is very versatile. He plays four positions. "He has great potential. He is just beginning to realize how good he can be," Adams said.

Adams describes McDowell (8 ppg, 7 assists) as "the toughest defender in Illinois, a better defender than I was."

And he reminds college recruiters to pay attention to 6-foot-8 sophomore Marlon Johnson, a transfer from Crane who is expected to gain eligibility for the second semester. Adams predicts Johnson will be better than former Orr star Mycheal Henry, now at Illinois. "He can be a top 25 player in the nation," Adams said.

The other starters are 5-foot-8 senior Devontay Jones (12 ppg) and 5-foot-11 senior Deshaun King, who averages 20 points per game and is the team's leading scorer. "King is the best three-point shooter in the state," Adams said. King scored 19 to lead Orr's victory over Hales Franciscan.

There is more talent on the bench with Durell Williams, 5-foot-10 senior Trashaun Jones and 6-foot-5 freshman Darnell Williams, whom Adams projects as a future star.

Adams came to Orr via a round-about route. He opted not to attend the U.S. Olympic trials. "I was a momma's boy. I didn't want to go far away from home. I thought Colorado Springs, Colorado (site of the trials) was too far," he said.

But he moved to Montana to work for the U.S. Forest Service, fighting fires in Yellowstone National Park, for five years. Then his old college roommate, Tyrone Slaughter, persuaded him to come to Chicago, where his family was from.

He worked for Slaughter at a Dominick's grocery store in Melrose Park, then went to work for Marshall Field's (now Macy's) department store. But he wanted to get into the coaching profession. He wanted to work with coach Robert Smith at Simeon. So he applied for a job with the Board of Education.

"I felt I could get my own team," said Adams, who was hired at Englewood in 1996. He spent eight years at Englewood and sent a dozen players to college. His last team almost qualified for the state finals. When Englewood closed, he moved to Orr. He was eager to plant is own roots, build his own program and establish his own identity.

His teams have gotten better each year. His first team was 10-15. Two years ago, he was 18-10. Last year's 22-8 team lost to Riverside-Brookfield in the sectional final. This year?

"We're looking to go as far as we can," Adams said.

A White Sox fan's guide to watching the World Series

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USA TODAY

A White Sox fan's guide to watching the World Series

The White Sox are not playing in the World Series. A 100-loss season will do that.

But just because the South Siders aren't playing doesn't mean White Sox fans shouldn't pay attention to the Fall Classic. There's plenty to take from this matchup between the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers that applies to South Side baseball past, present and — most importantly — future.

Chris Sale

The guy who will throw the first pitch of the 2018 World Series is one of the greatest White Sox pitchers of all time.

Sale's been grabbing headlines the last few days for an alleged belly-button ring, but the only body part of his that matters come Tuesday night is his left arm. Since the White Sox traded Sale away in the deal that kick-started the rebuild, he's been arguably the best pitcher in baseball, putting up a 2.56 ERA in 59 regular-season starts, with 545 strikeouts in his 372.1 innings. He's made five postseason appearances with the Red Sox and hasn't fared quite as well, the overall numbers ugly thanks to a seven-run outing against the eventual-champion Houston Astros last year. But this fall, he's given up just four runs and struck out 14 batters in 10.1 innings.

Sale's status as one of the game's best hurlers is a reminder of a couple things for White Sox fans watching him wear differently colored Sox this fall: 1. why they liked him so much in the first place, and 2. what kind of price it took for Boston to get him. The K Zone can be reborn, if only briefly and in the comfort of White Sox fans' own homes, for Sale's appearances in this World Series. But more importantly to the future of the South Side franchise, Sale's continued excellence is a reinforcement of the potential of Michael Kopech and Yoan Moncada, the two biggest names in the return package. It took those guys and their incredibly high ceilings to get a pitcher as good as Sale, and that's still a good sign for the White Sox future.

This is how you rebuild

The Red Sox have a reputation as one of baseball's biggest spenders, but their roster is rife with the fruits of player development, something the rebuilding White Sox are trying to yield in their contending team of the future.

Boston has a couple big-ticket players in David Price and J.D. Martinez, but they're two of just four free-agent signings on the Red Sox World Series roster. Meanwhile, a whopping seven were drafted by Boston, including the entire starting outfield: Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr. and likely AL MVP Mookie Betts. The left side of their infield is a pair of international signings in Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts, so that means five of the Red Sox starting nine position players (five and a half if you count Christian Vazquez, one half of the Red Sox catching tandem) have never known another organization.

The Red Sox might not win this World Series, but their roster makeup isn't dissimilar from the last two teams that hoisted a trophy, the Cubs and Astros, who boasted their own groups of homegrown stars. And here's something you might not realize: Boston had back-to-back last-place finishes in the AL East in 2014 and 2015, during which they rid themselves of veteran contracts and earned a couple high draft picks. They made the No. 7 pick in the 2016 draft for all that losing. The result? Benintendi.

And so it's another October with a team proving that the tear-down-and-rebuild method can work wonders. White Sox fans might not be rooting for the Red Sox this fall, but their victory would be another for the rebuilding strategy — and should give plenty of hope to South Side fans envisioning their own group of homegrown stars leading a championship run one day.

Manny Machado

The World Series will allow White Sox fans to do a little bit of scouting on some free agents that the South Siders could pursue this winter, and there's no bigger name in that category than Machado, the Dodgers shortstop expected to receive one of the biggest contracts in baseball history this offseason.

Many a Twitter-using White Sox fan have had Machado on their wish list for years, though that number might be declining following some of Machado's words and actions during the NLCS. He didn't run to first on a grounder, then ignited a PR disaster by saying hustling wasn't his "cup of tea." He interfered with a pair of double-play turns by sticking his hand up while sliding into second base (the same play that, during a Crosstown game last month, ended with White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson screaming at umpire Joe West). And Machado most notably dragged his foot over Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Jesus Aguilar's leg in a play Aguilar's teammates called dirty after the game.

So with all that in mind, Machado and his extreme amount of talent — he's at the end of a career year that saw him slash .297/.367/.538 with 37 homers and 107 RBIs during the regular season — will be on the game's biggest stage for all to see. That includes his future team, whichever that might be. Those White Sox fans still hoping he lands on the South Side to help kick the rebuild into overdrive can watch this World Series to see just how good he is with the bat and with the glove. On the latter, should the White Sox be willing to rearrange their infield for Machado, who is insistent on playing shortstop despite his two Gold Gloves at third base? Watch and see.

Other free agents to be

But Machado's not the only player in this matchup who'll be hitting the free-agent market this winter.

Before either of these teams punched their tickets to the Fall Classic, I wrote about a pair of pitchers who will be free agents this offseason and who could make sense for the White Sox, and lo and behold they're both going to make starts in this World Series. Hyun-Jin Ryu is slated to get the ball for the Dodgers in Wednesday's Game 2, and though yet to be announced, we'll likely see Nathan Eovaldi go for the Red Sox when the series shifts to Los Angeles.

Rick Hahn said the White Sox will be looking to add pitching this offseason, and Ryu and Eovaldi will both be available. Either would be an upgrade in a South Side rotation that led baseball in walks this season. Eovaldi walked just 20 guys all year, 12 in 54 innings with the Red Sox and only eight in 57 innings with the Tampa Bay Rays. That's compared to a season strikeout total of 101, for a better than 5:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Ryu, meanwhile, walked only 15 batters in his 82.1 innings, compared to 89 strikeouts. His ERA was a pencil-thin 1.97, significantly lower than Eovaldi's still quite good 3.81 number, which was 3.33 after the midseason trade from the Tampa. Could either one be a future White Sox starter? Maybe.

Boston closer Craig Kimbrel is also heading to free agency and could be of interest to White Sox fans who don't see a future closer among the team's crop of young relievers. He's going to cost a lot, though, a seven-time All Star with a 1.91 career ERA and eight straight seasons of at least 31 saves (40-plus in five of those).

Other bullpen guys who will be looking for jobs this winter: Joe Kelly of the Red Sox (one earned run allowed in 5.1 innings this postseason) and Ryan Madson of the Dodgers (one run allowed in 6.1 innings this postseason).

Oh, and Dodgers Game 1 starter Clayton Kershaw could be a free agent, too, if he opts out of his current contract. The White Sox would figure to be quite a longshot to lure him away from Southern California, but if Kershaw were to go somewhere else, that could shake up the whole market and open up other possibilities for teams like the White Sox. Something to keep in mind.

The next important trend

The World Series and the postseason in general have been ground zero for some of the game's latest sweeping changes in recent years.

Specifically, the emphasis on relief pitching has dominated the last couple Fall Classics, and teams like the Brewers and Rays showed how good a team can be while leaning as heavily on the bullpen as any team ever has. While this World Series might not feature teams practicing "bullpenning" to those extremes, the relief corps again figure to play starring roles. If that happens, how does that impact the White Sox rebuild? Does a heavy focus on starting-pitching depth need to shift to a bigger focus on relief-pitching depth? Or do the lists of future free-agent relievers become of greater interest than players at any other position?

Or perhaps an entirely new trend is born this fall that the White Sox will have to react to while constructing their teams of the future. You won't know unless you watch the World Series.

We've officially found the biggest Michael Jordan fan ever

We've officially found the biggest Michael Jordan fan ever

There are diehard Michael Jordan fans.

And then there's this guy.

Forget anybody getting a tattoo of their favorite team's championship trophy. Forget the people who wait for hours in terrible weather just to catch a glimpse of their favorite player.

This dude has a constant, 24/7 reminder of "His Airness":

Yep, that is a full tattoo of a Jordan "23" jersey on his back, complete with a Michael Jordan "autograph" in the middle of the "2." 

Dedication at its finest.

Couple questions: 

A) Does it carry over to the front at all? And if not, is that a plan for the future?

2) Will one of his buddies get a "45" Jordan jersey tattoo or are we just gonna continue to pretend that era never happened?

D) What will that tat look like in a few years? That guy better stay away from the Doritos...