Cubs

Rose, Hamilton making progress for Bulls

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Rose, Hamilton making progress for Bulls

Progress is the name of the game for the Bulls right now, as difficult as that might seem to do with leagues best record. But even as their starting backcourt of Derrick Rose and Rip Hamilton remains out, not only does the team continue to win games, but the guard duo looks to be on the mend.

Derrick was better today. He did part of practice. We just have to have him keep making the progress that he is and hopefully hell be healthy soon, said Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, who described the reigning league MVPs health status as day-to-day and wouldnt speculate as to whether Rose would play in Saturdays home game against the Raptors, whom the Bulls defeated Wednesday in Toronto. Hes been running in the water. Hes going to do some running later today.

As for Hamilton, Thibodeau revealed that the 13-year veteran shooting guard was a full participant in Fridays practice at the Berto Center.

Hes moving along. We havent done contact with him yet so that will be the next step, Thibodeau said after the session. Day to day. Always a possibility. You know me: Im optimistic.

The Bulls didnt have Hamilton last season, so with most of the squad returning from last season -- Hamilton, rookie swingman Jimmy Butler and point guard Mike James are the only new additions -- adjusting to life without the banged-up former All-Star hasnt been different. However, although Rose played in 81 of regular-season 82 games a year ago, the Bulls have figured out how to win games without their superstar, currently suffering from a strained right groin, in the lineup this season.

We know what we need to do to win. We feel like if we can play good defense, get back in transition, win the rebounding contest, we have a pretty good shot at winning. said Joakim Noah. Derricks a great player, so the game is obviously a little bit different if hes not in there. Injuries are part of the game and were a no-excuses team.

Were growing as a team, he continued. Last time around this time, I was coming back from the injury, so I feel healthier than I have in a long time. I feel great. were a confident group and being able to play for something big is special.

Added Butler: I think weve got a lot of great players. Weve got enough parts that when one players down, everyone just kind of picks up the link that he was. John Lucas III has been playing incredible, hitting huge shots in the fourth quarter. C.J. Watson has been playing super-aggressive.

Its like youre picking up Derricks absence and Rips, and youre just adding it to the other players games and just putting it on their backs.

Of Lucas, the third-string point guard turned fan favorite, Thibodeau said: Hes got to run the team, make the right decisions, play to his strengths and understand what his teammates strengths are. He has done that. Ive known he can do that because I coached him before. He did the same thing for us in Houston. And hes a better player now than he was then. He stays ready. He handles his responsibilities well.

But no matter who steps up for the Bulls, their usual intensity, preparedness and focus can be traced back to Thibodeau.

First one in the gym, last one to leave. He lives, breathes this basketball stuff, said Noah. Everybody always says that Thibs breathes this basketball thing.

Im happy that hes my coach, he continued. Hes the most consistent guy Ive ever met in my whole life. Its the same thing every day. Since hes been here, I dont think our practices have changed one bit. Go over our skeleton of plays, go over defense, shoot. Thats it.

Cubs not working on Anthony Rizzo contract extension this winter

Cubs not working on Anthony Rizzo contract extension this winter

For all the talks of possible contract extensions involving Cubs this offseason, first baseman Anthony Rizzo's name has been mentioned less than other core players.

Well, that's because the Cubs haven't approached Rizzo with an extension, according to ESPN's Jesse Rogers

"The Cubs have informed us that they will not be offering Anthony an extension at this time," Marc Pollack, Rizzo's agent, told Rogers.

Rizzo was seen as a logical candidate to get a new deal this winter. He's the face of the franchise and one of the team's most valuable players on the field and in the clubhouse. Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer didn't comment on specifics, but he said Tuesday the organization is having extension talks with current players.

"We always take the position of not commenting on extensions, but are we having those discussions? Yes," Hoyer said at the Winter Meetings. "People focus so much on trades and free agent signings at these meetings, but all the agents are under the same roofs, also, and allows us to have those kinds of discussions. I'm not gonna specify who or what, but yeah certainly those conversations are ongoing."

If Rizzo isn't part of those discussions, shortstop Javier Báez is left as the most likely Cub to get extended this offseason. Kris Bryant and Willson Contreras have been involved in incessant trade rumors, and according to Rogers, the Cubs haven't approached Kyle Schwarber with a new contract, to this point.

Rizzo is signed through 2020 and the Cubs have a team option on him for 2021 worth $16.5 million. But the Cubs will likely go into next season not knowing if Rizzo will be around after 2021, complicating the long-term picture of the franchise.

Pollack added that Rizzo is open to being a Cub for life, for what it's worth. 

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Mercy! Hawk Harrelson wins Ford Frick Award and joins the Hall of Fame

Mercy! Hawk Harrelson wins Ford Frick Award and joins the Hall of Fame

SAN DIEGO -- The Hawk is in the Hall.

Legendary White Sox broadcaster Hawk Harrelson was announced as the winner of the Ford Frick Award on Wednesday, sending one of the most colorful characters in baseball history to Cooperstown forever.

Harrelson spent decades behind the mic for the White Sox, never leaving any doubt over how much passion he had for the South Siders. His love for the White Sox and the game in general shone through with every word he uttered, with so many of those words becoming part of baseball’s lexicon.

Be it iconic catchphrases like “You can put it on the board, yes!” and “He gone!” or memorable moments such as “You gotta be bleepin’ me!” and “Under the circumstances, that was the best catch I have ever seen!” everyone in Chicago has a favorite Hawk call. For multiple generations of fans, he was as closely associated with the franchise as anyone.

The Ford Frick Award honors excellence in broadcasting, and while his detractors might label him too much of a homer, there was never an attempt to mask that fact. Hawk’s broadcasts were for White Sox fans, and he accomplished what few broadcasters can claim to accomplish today: Watching his games was like watching the game at the bar, with fellow fans getting all riled up over every play.

There’s a great line from a baseball film that goes, “Baseball’s a game; games are supposed to be fun.” Hawk made games just that: fun. Whether he was going crazy over a White Sox win, his voice cracking while proclaiming that “our kids just will not quit,” or he was seething in anger, decrying one of the men in blue as “a disgrace to the umpiring profession,” he provided a level of entertainment that made games more enjoyable.

For many, being a White Sox fan includes adopting “Hawkisms” -- be they greatest hits or deep cuts -- as part of your daily routine. “Don’t stop now, boys” and “we need help” can be equally enjoyable rallying cries. And they all stem from the Hawk. He’s not just a man. He’s a language all his own.

That’s a Hall-of-Fame impact.

And now he’s been rewarded with this honor, a place in Cooperstown among the greats. For this writer, “deserving” to be a part of the Hall of Fame means being such an integral part of the game that you cannot tell the story of baseball without the person in question. You cannot tell the story of the game without slipping into a Hawk impression. You wouldn’t want to. It’s simply too much fun.

Mercy.

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