The Rick Renteria Era Has Come To An End

In a somewhat shocking development, the White Sox announced this morning that they have parted ways with manager Rick Renteria.  The status of the rest of the coaching staff will be determined in conjunction with the new manager, though pitching coach Don Cooper is also expected to move on.  Renteria originally joined the White Sox following the 2015 season as bench coach and was named the team’s 40th manager, replacing Robin Ventura, following the 2016 season.

General Manager Rick Hahn said that the ideal candidate to replace Renteria will have recent post-season experience with a championship organization.  Interestingly enough, two such managers, A.J. Hinch and Alex Cora, will be coming off their year-long suspensions following the completion of the World Series.  Both are thought to be on the shortlist for the opening in Detroit, though I’d be surprised if Cora doesn’t end up back with the Red Sox.  One name not in the mix is former White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, who was told by owner Jerry Reinsdorf that he would not be considered.

In some ways, this move reminds me of one made by another Reinsdorf team back in the summer of 1989.  After reaching the Eastern Conference finals and losing to the Pistons, the Bulls fired coach Doug Collins, saying that while he had gotten the team from point A to point B, he wasn’t the right man to get them to point C.  If this move turns out half as well for the White Sox, everyone involved will be ecstatic.

 

200 Things To Do In Illinois – United Center

Illinois celebrated its bicentennial as a state in December of 2018. To celebrate, the Chicago Tribune published the Bicentennial Bucket List: 200 Things To Do In Illinois, celebrating the best the state has to offer in history, food, architecture, culture, sports, nature, drink, and oddities.  Now that the state is starting to open back up following the corona virus outbreak, I figured this was the second-best time to look through this collection and cover the ones I’ve done/eaten/seen.

We kick things off with one of the entries from the Sports category: United Center, from Chicago, IL.

Seeing the stars of the Bulls and the Blackhawks go to battle in the Madhouse on Madison is thrilling – or infuriating, depending on how the teams are doing.

But no trip to the Near West Side stadium is complete without genuflecting at a trio of statues commemorating former Chicago hockey and basketball greats Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita and Michael Jordan.  You’ll find Hull and Mikita outside, while His Airness is enshrined in an atrium that opened last year.

I’ve been to the United Center 10 times, for 4 Bulls games, 4 Blackhawks games, a 2011 NCAA tournament game, and a concert by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.  My first two Bulls games came in 1997, a month or two prior to Michael Jordan’s return to the team.  My only game during the championship years came in November of 1997, when I saw Jordan and Bulls defeat the Hornets.  3 of the Blackhawk games came during their lean years, with just one coming during their championship runs.  The NCAA tournament game saw the Purdue Boilermakers fall to VCU in a surprising upset.

 

200 Things To Do In Illinois – Lake Michigan

Illinois celebrated its bicentennial as a state in December of 2018.  To celebrate, the Chicago Tribune published the Bicentennial Bucket List: 200 Things To Do In Illinois, celebrating the best the state has to offer in history, food, architecture, culture, sports, nature, drink, and oddities.  With the state still shut down due to the corona virus outbreak, I figured this was the second-best time to look through this collection and cover the ones I’ve done/eaten/seen.

We continue things this week with one of the entries from the Nature category: Lake Michigan, from Chicago, IL.

You didn’t think we’d forget about this freshwater ocean at Chicago’s front door, did you?  Don’t just look at it.  Get in it.  And on it.  Departing from Navy Pier, Shoreline Sightseeing’s Classic Lake Tour is a 40-minute nautical jaunt along 6 miles of the Third Coast.  From the water, you get a better appreciation for the city’s skyline, a human-made mountain range.

It’s hard to document my experiences visiting Chicago’s lakefront.  I’ve taken the occasional lunch cruise as part of work outings.  I’ve spent a little time on the beach, most notably for a mid-80s television competition between the Bears, Bulls, and Blackhawks.  The picture above is from the museum campus, over by the Adler Planetarium.

If anything, I wish I could spend more time down by the lake.  Living far out in suburbia doesn’t make it easy, though.

Another Mix Tape Monday – Volume 10

20 years ago, during my sophomore year of high school, I put together the first of what would become a nearly 20 volume collection of mix tapes, containing my favorite songs that I had gathered either from the radio, a cassette tape, or (eventually) CD. We last looked back at all 20 volumes three years ago to see which of my “favorite” songs still resonated in today’s digital world. Today, we revisit those mix tapes and see how, or if, things have changed in the past 3 years.

Volume 10 covers the spring and summer of 1993, following my freshman year of college, and features the top rap and alternative hits of the summer, along with some pop and the last remnants of hair metal.

Side A

Pearl Jam – Black

Hitting #3 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Tracks chart despite the band’s refusal to release it as an official single, the song was only listened to 5 times in the past 3 years.

iTunes Stats
2012 2015 2019
5 plays 6 plays 11 plays, most recently on 5/1/2018 

Def Leppard – Two Steps Behind

The big hit from Arnold Schwarzenegger’s bomb Last Action Hero, originally recorded from The Blaze during a nightly song battle, garnered 10 additional listens over the last 3 years.

iTunes Stats
2012 2015 2019
5 plays 7 plays 17 plays, most recently on 7/13/2018 

UB40 – Can’t Help Falling In Love

After going unheard for 3 years, the track, featured on the Sliver soundtrack, doubled its plays over the past 3 years.

iTunes Stats
2012 2015 2019
8 plays 8 plays 16 plays, most recently on 10/29/2018 

Aerosmith – Cryin’

The first installment of Alicia Silverstone’s video trilogy, which finished as the 60th biggest single of 1993, picked up 10 new plays over the past 3 years.

iTunes Stats
2012 2015 2019
4 plays 6 plays 16 plays, most recently on 10/3/2018 

TLC – Get It Up

The cover of the The Time hit, created for the Poetic Justice soundtrack, finally picked up some listens over the past 3 years.

iTunes Stats
2012 2015 2019
0 plays 0 plays 4 plays, most recently on 7/31/2018 

4 Non Blondes – What’s Up?

The 50th biggest single of 1993 picked up a small increase of 3 listens for the ubiquitous debut from 4 Non Blondes.

iTunes Stats
2012 2015 2019
9 plays 16 plays 19 plays, most recently on 11/5/2018 

whoompTag Team – Whoomp! (There It Is)

The unofficial theme to the Bulls third straight NBA championship, who showed up for 90s night at the game I attended in February 2015, added 30 new listens over the past 3 years, thanks to its use by the Cubs when someone hits a home run.

iTunes Stats
2012 2015 2019
8 plays 13 plays 43 plays, most recently on 9/1/2018 

Side B

Continue reading →

Remaking the TV Landscape

Earlier this week, news broke that the White Sox, Bulls, and Blackhawks were nearing a new 5 year deal with NBC Sports Chicago following the expiration of their current contract in 2019.  The Cubs are expected to branch out on their own, creating the new Marquee network to carry their games.

Assuming the White Sox rebuild progresses as expected, this could be a good situation for them.  The 5 year deal gives them time to rebuild their audience with known partners while the sports world waits to see what the future of RSNs are and how, and if, in-market streaming comes to fruition.

The Cubs, on the other hand, are risking many things with their new venture.  The Dodgers did something similar a few years back and, while they received a tremendous amount of money for doing so, they still are having issues finding clearance among cable providers and most of their games are unavailable to a majority of their fanbase in Southern California.  Should the Cubs have similar issues, especially since they are spurning the largest cable provider in the Chicago area to create their new network, they will face considerable fan backlash.

Another issue the Cubs may have to deal with is the reputation of their reported partner in the new venture, Sinclair Broadcast Group.  Sinclair has come under fire over the past couple years for its right-wing political slant and forcing its individual TV stations, of which WGN narrowly avoided becoming earlier this year, to air hard-right commentary.  While that political stance seems to fit well amongst most of the Ricketts family, it will be a hard sell to many in the Cubs fanbase should it bleed over into their broadcasts.

 

Radio Free Chicago

For the third time in four years, the White Sox may find themselves on a new radio flagship for the upcoming season.  News broke yesterday that Cumulus Media, the parent company of WLS, had filed motions in US Bankruptcy Court seeking to get out from under “a handful of extremely unprofitable contracts, including those with the Chicago White Sox and the Chicago Bulls.”  The Sox and Bulls issued a joint statement Friday, acknowledging they have worked with Cumulus “to find an amicable solution that would provide broadcast continuity to our fans, while addressing Cumulus’ financial issue” but have failed to come to an agreement.

The White Sox moved to WLS in 2016, signing a 6 year deal that took them away from the Score after 10 seasons.  Following that move, the Cubs, who spent one year on WBBM after 7 decades on WGN, moved down the dial to the Score.  Should the Sox find themselves looking for a new home, the options may be limited.  After losing the Cubs, WGN may want to get back in the baseball business, especially if they can get a good deal.  The only other option would appear to be a return to ESPN 1000, which the team left in 2005 following their World Series championship.

The decision from the bankruptcy count is due on February 1, leaving a little less than 2 months before opening day for the team to reach a new deal, if necessary.

Building It Back Up

2 weeks after trading Derrick Rose, the Bulls continued their makeover for the 2016-2017 season by agreeing to sign Chicago-native Dwyane Wade.  Wade, a 34 year old guard, had spent his entire career with the Heat, winning 3 NBA championships.  He joins a Bulls team in transition, Rose, Joakim Noah, and Pau Gasol all gone from last year’s starting lineup.  At his age, Wade will likely play second fiddle to Jimmy Butler as the Bulls try to head back to the playoffs without a major rebuild.

Tearing It Down

derrick-roseAfter 8 years of hopes, dreams, and frustrations, the Bulls bid farewell to former MVP Derrick Rose yesterday, trading the former superstar to the Knicks, along with Justin Holiday and a second round pick in 2017, for Robin Lopez, Jose Calderon, and Jerian Grant.  Rose, the overall number one draft pick in the 2008 draft, had trouble staying on the court in the last 4 seasons of his tenure, missing more games than he played.

Rose’s career with the Bulls started off with great promise, leading the team to their best showings since Michael Jordan retired the second time following the 1997-1998 NBA Championship.  They looked to be a team on the rise following the 2010-2011 season, which they finished with the best regular season record in the league and lost a hard-fought Eastern Conference Finals against the Heat.  The following December, Rose signed a 5-year contract extension and the Bulls looked to again challenge for the Eastern Conference title.  Sadly, in the first game of the first round against the Sixers, Rose tore his ACL and the favored Bulls were quickly eliminated.

Rose missed the entire 2012-2013 season, despite being cleared by doctors to play in March.  He finally returned for the start of the 2013-2014 season, but a torn meniscus in late November again put him out for the season.  The next two seasons were marred by inconsistent play, more knee injuries, coaching turnover, and a sexual assault lawsuit.  When the Bulls failed to make the playoffs this past season, changes were bound to be made, with this being the first.

What To Do With Derrick Rose?

derrick-roseFollowing the 2010-2011 season, the Chicago Bulls looked to be at the top of the basketball world.  They had just finished with the best regular season record in the league, they lost a hard-fought Eastern Conference Finals against the Heat, and their young superstar, Derrick Rose, was just named league MVP.  However, things did not go as planned.  Multiple knee injuries kept Rose off the court for much of the next 3 seasons, and tensions grew between the hometown star and the team he grew up cheering for.  Things may have come to a head yesterday, when Rose was accused of drugging and gang-rapping an ex-girlfriend in a civil suit.

Rose, of course, released a statement, claiming that he will be proven innocent.  The Bulls released a much shorter statement, and you could feel that Rose’s time in Chicago may have just gotten shorter.  Only time will tell if the allegations against Rose prove to be true, and an initial reading of the lawsuit does show some problems in the accuser’s accounts, but this type of accusation causes damage regardless.

Mix Tape Monday Revisited– Volume 10

Between 1989, my sophomore year of high school, and 1995, my fourth year of college, I put together a nearly 20 volume collection of mix tapes, containing my favorite songs that I had gathered either from the radio, a cassette tape, or (eventually) CD.  Three years ago, we looked back at all 20 volumes and which of my “favorite” songs I still listened to.  Today, we revisit those mix tapes and see how things have changed in the last 3 years.

Volume 10 covers the spring and summer of 1993, following my freshman year of college, and features the top rap and alternative hits of the summer, along with some pop and the last remnants of hair metal.

Side A

Pearl Jam – Black

The first song from Pear Jam’s post-video phase, falling victim to my Pearl Jam burnout, was only listened to once in the past 3 years.

2012 iTunes stats: 5 plays

2015 iTunes stats: 6 plays, most recently on 8/3/2014

Def Leppard – Two Steps Behind

The big hit from Arnold Schwarzenegger’s bomb Last Action Hero, originally recorded from The Blaze during a nightly song battle, garnered only 2 additional listens over the last 3 years.

2012 iTunes stats: 5 plays

2015 iTunes stats: 7 plays, most recently on 1/10/2015

UB40 – Can’t Help Falling In Love

Somehow, the big hit from the Sliver soundtrack completely escaped my notice over the past 3 years.

2012 iTunes stats: 8 plays

2015 iTunes stats: 8 plays, most recently on 5/1/2012

Aerosmith – Cryin’

Only 2 additional listens for the first installment of Alicia Silverstone’s video trilogy.

2012 iTunes stats: 4 plays

2015 iTunes stats: 6 plays, most recently on 4/24/2014

TLC – Get It Up

I did acquire the “hit” from the Poetic Justice soundtrack at some point over the past 3 years, but still have not listened to it.

2015 iTunes stats: Never played

4 Non Blondes – What’s Up?

A large increase of 7 listens for the ubiquitous debut from 4 Non Blondes.

2012 iTunes stats: 9 plays

2015 iTunes stats: 16 plays, most recently on 5/1/2015

whoompTag Team – Whoomp! (There It Is)

The unofficial theme to the Bulls third straight NBA championship, who showed up for 90s night at the game I attended in February, added 5 new listens over the past 3 years.

2012 iTunes stats: 8 plays

2015 iTunes stats: 13 plays, most recently on 2/27/2015

Side B

Continue reading →