Preps Talk

Random News of the Day: Debooked and de-carded

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Random News of the Day: Debooked and de-carded

Monday, June 28, 201011:24 AM

By Joe CollinsCSNChicago.com
Debooked and Dis-card-ed

Did anyone ever get debooked in junior high school? Do you even know what debooking is? Maybe that just shows how old I am and what the exact method of pulling rank was back in the day. If youre not familiar with debooking, picture a kid walking through a school hallway holding a cumbersome pile of books. A tougher kid comes along and slaps the books out of that kids hands. Ha ha. Someone just got debooked.

The Chicago White Sox debooked the Chicago Cubs this weekend. Chemistry, social studies and especially P.E. booklets were all over the (dugout) floor.

Congratulations to the South Siders on a three-day vivisection of their North Side counterparts. The Sox found a way to win all three games, even though only two of the wins qualify by textbook definition. The White Sox made Sunday's ninth inning feel like a win, while it seemed like a loss for my Chicago Cubs. Anytime you have a five-run lead and you let the winning run step to the plate immediately qualifies as a loss in my opinion.

Where is that Debbie Downer horn when you need it?

But its not all doom and gloom. At least thats what Im telling myself. The Cubs' lack of success this year is making me a great soon-to-be husband. And why's that? Well, since I've already mailed in this summer as a Cubs fan (this weekend was probably the last straw), I have found that there's more to life than box scores and bunt singles. I now get my exercise by turning the other cheek on mediocre baseball. The food tastes better. The road trips are better. And most importantly, the wedding planning with my fiancee is -- dare I say it -- a pretty good time. I can't believe I just wrote that last sentence.

(Checking back ... looking over the end of the last paragraph ... wow, I really did write that last sentence)

We had an appointment with a wedding photographer during one of the Cubs-Sox games. A few years ago, Cubs-Sox would have meant a couch, a beverage and three hours of demanded silence. This time around? Subtract the baseball and fire up Paul Simon's "Kodachrome" ...

"Those pictures look great! I wonder if this company does photo booths."

"Wow ... look at the way that photographer captured the light in that father-daughter dance shot!"

"A Golden Girls marathon? Mmm...sure!"

"Watching some kind of 'Say Yes To The Dress' show?"

... needle scratching off the record ...

OK that's enough. No way. Not a chance. I have my limits.

But you see ... that's what a rough baseball season can do. One can pretty much lose a Man Card because of it. It has actually gone to that kind of level. Really amazing, isnt it? Hey ... if it makes you feel any better, I re-caulked and painted my bathroom during one of the other Cubs-Sox games. Does that help? Any? Bueller? Maybe I just got debooked, so to speak.

(Random thought: wouldn't it be a cool idea if people carried around Man Cards and just go up to people and declare a violation? I think it would be fun. Have you seen how yellow and red cards are dealt in soccer? The referee just pulls out a little card and declares the penalty. Ninety-nine times out of 100, the player generally has the same kind of reaction: "What?!? Are you KIDDING me? For THAT? You CAN'T be serious." I have a feeling that Man Card violations would have the same kind of impact)

I'm not going to bristle at limo and DJ shopping on a Saturday afternoon while the Cubs are on at the same time. Won't even flinch. Not even a little. Everything will be a walk in the park (literally and figuratively). And feel free to pile on the insults and the jokes. I can take it. I can zone out and stare into space just as much as the next debooked kid.

And before I fuel the fire of the bandwagon-haters, know that I'll never fall off the Cubs bandwagon. Im a lifer and Im a glutton for punishment. Just don't put me in the same traitorturncoat category as, say, Fredo Corleone. Yes, I might be turning my back on certain people and making new discoveries for the moment ... but I'm still in the family. Ill be back. Probably in the very near future. Trust me.

But for the meantime, can you keep that card out of my face? I need it to focus on carrying my books.

Or something like that.

Joe Collins is an assignment desk editor for Comcast SportsNet and contributor to CSNChicago.com.

43 Days to Kickoff: Shepard

43 Days to Kickoff: Shepard

NBCSportsChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting Aug. 5, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 30.

School: Shepard

Head coach: John Rone

Assistant coaches: Vincent Holmes, Andy Schindel, Chris Lewis, Justin Harris and Mark Thomas

How they fared in 2018: 8-3 (5-1 South Suburban Red Conference). Shepard made the Class 6A IHSA state football playoff field, defeated Springfield and then lost to Normal West in second round action.

2019 regular season schedule:

Aug. 30 vs Leyden
Sept. 6 vs St Francis
Sept. 13 @ Reavis
Sept. 20 @ Evergreen Park
Sept. 27 @ Eisenhower
Oct. 4 vs Oak Lawn
Oct. 11 @ Lemont
Oct. 18 vs Richards
Oct. 25 vs Argo

Biggest storyline: Coach Rone’s first season was a success. Can the Astros make another state playoff run in 2019?

Names to watch this season: LB Matthew Hightower (Sr.), WR/DB Jalen Smith (Sr.)

Biggest holes to fill: The Astros welcome back six returning starters back on defense, but they will feature nearly an entire starting offense with very limited experience.

EDGY's Early Take: Head coach John Rone was able to get the Astros into the  playoffs in his first season in charge of the Shepard program. It was also the fourth straight playoff appearance for the school. The Astros always have plenty on hand in the skills department. But the defense may need to carry a talented —but younger— offense. If the pieces can gel, they can challenge for another IHSA state playoff appearance.

Kyle Ryan's emergence is coming at exactly the right time for Cubs

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AP

Kyle Ryan's emergence is coming at exactly the right time for Cubs

With the MLB trade deadline two weeks away, bullpen help figures to be on the Cubs' wish list.

But thanks in part to Kyle Ryan's emergence, the Cubs don't absolutely need that reliever to be left-handed (though it would probably be ideal).

The Cubs began the week with three southpaws in their bullpen, but at some point this weekend, Ryan may be the lone lefty remaining. Mike Montgomery was traded to the Royals late Monday night and with Carl Edwards Jr. progressing in his rehab (he threw again Tuesday), he might take Randy Rosario's spot in a couple days. 

The Cubs like Edwards against lefties and they also feel confident in Pedro Strop against either handed hitter when he's on. But Ryan has worked his way into Joe Maddon's Circle of Trust and is currently the only lefty residing there.

That's not to say the Cubs don't need another reliable southpaw in the 'pen, but Ryan looks like he's going to get some big outs for this team down the stretch.

"He's done a great job for us since he's been here," Jon Lester said of Ryan last month. "I don't think he gets enough credit for what he's been able to do."

Ryan impressed the Cubs with his work as a multi-inning reliever in Triple-A last season and turned heads again in camp this spring. Still, Rosario made the Opening Day roster over him, though Ryan got called up on the team's season-opening road trip and made his first appearance on April 6.

Since then, he's been a mainstay while Montgomery battled injury and ineffectiveness, Rosario and Tim Collins have bounced between Triple-A Iowa and Chicago and veteran Xavier Cedeno's time off the injured list was short-lived.

Ryan looked to be finding his way throughout his first month in the bullpen, but after his infamous "freeze" moment against the Marlins, he endured some struggles (7 runs allowed on 12 hits in 7 innings from May 8 through June 1).

He's righted the ship since then, permitting only 1 run over his last 17 appearances (14 innings) and lowering his season ERA to 3.21 to go along with a 1.31 WHIP and 33 strikeouts in 33.2 innings.

A big part of that recent success can be tied to Ryan's increased improvement against left-handed hitters. 

Lefties hit .344 with a .405 on-base percentage off Ryan through June 5. But since then, Ryan has surrendered only 3 hits — all singles — and zero walks to the 19 left-handed hitters he's faced (.158 AVG).

He credits part of that turnaround to working on a changeup, which he thinks has helped lock in the "feel" of all his other pitches as well as his mechanics. 

As he works to add a new pitch to his repertoire, Ryan has leaned on Cubs bullpen coach Lester Strode and pitching coach Tommy Hottovy for assistance, while also picking the brains of veterans like Cole Hamels, Kyle Hendricks and Brad Brach who have all thrown changeups for quite a while.

But even with all that work, he still hasn't resorted to using the changeup much in games. The pitch is so foreign that it's still being picked up as a sinker, including on the Wrigley Field video board Sunday when he threw one in his inning of work.

"Eventually, I'm gonna find the changeup and it's gonna be a comfortable, confident pitch," Ryan said. "But I do think it's gotten me behind all the rest of my pitches and it's maybe a little bit better feel for everything. It's gonna stay where it is for a while. I'm gonna keep trying."

Ryan said one of the things he likes about the changeup is that it can eventually be a nice weapon because it "goes in the opposite direction" of all his other pitches.

We'll see if the new pitch can ever become a factor for the 27-year-old. But if it's helped lock in his other pitches, that's great news for the Cubs, especially as they look to fortify their bullpen this month.