среда, 7 марта 2012 г.

For Openers ...

No other sport ushers in a season with the fanfare of baseball'sOpening Day. Baseball isn't even the favorite sport of the SundayDrive, but we admit there's something special about that first day.The symbolism of summer's approach can't be dismissed.

So we've decided to take a look at some memorable home openers forthe White Sox and Cubs. The Sox host the Cleveland Indians tonight,and the Cubs host the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday.

ON THE RECORD WITH ...

KAHLID KANNOUCHI

He's one of the top distance runners in the world and a four-timewinner of the LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon. A two-time world-recordholder in the marathon, Khannouchi, 34, had a mile to go last year inthe Shamrock Shuffle -- which is an 8K race in the Loop -- beforedropping out with an injury to his left foot. He's back in Chicago tocompete in the Shuffle today.

How's the foot? It's much better. I feel like I'm completelyrecovered. I'm fully trained, so I'm ready to compete.

You went through tough times treating the foot.

I went to 10 different countries to find out what's wrong. Then Iended up going to New Jersey to a doctor recommended by [racedirector] Carey Pinkowski, and Dr. John Connors helped me. Iunderwent minor surgery, and I'm using special orthotics. It took awhile to get acclimated. The problem was an inflammation of differenttissue. I had a problem with biomechanics, and that made it worse.

Why do you want to compete in the Shamrock Shuffle? Because lastyear I dropped out. And this is three weeks before the [London]marathon. I'm bored with training, and I didn't want to traveloverseas. This is a good 8K race, and it will be my last race beforeLondon. Plus, there's a good atmosphere and a lot of excitement. Over25,000 people ran the race last year, and I'm expecting that manyagain this year. Hopefully, we'll get lucky with the weather.

This is the last race before London on April 23. You broke theworld record there in 2002, and you will be facing perhaps thetoughest marathon field ever. Are you ready? I'm ready. You have tohave a very good day. I hope we can have good weather. But I'm readyto compete.

Your last marathon was in Chicago in 2004. How did you staymotivated during your inactivity? Sometimes it was very hard to staymotivated. But when you love something, and you love to compete,that's a good motivation. When you see people performing, you want tocompete.

HITS

BOB ARUM: Top Rank's top guy pulls a coup by signing TomZbikowski. The least experienced name on the June 10 card is the topdraw for the pay-per-view event.

JIM LARRANAGA: He's become a history teacher of sorts as peoplesuddenly are looking up the background of George Mason.

LeBron James: Has his team in the playoffs. Following blueprint togreatness one step at a time.

MAKING A LIST

TIGHT SPOT

The NBA's latest apparel fad is wearing tights.

Players say they help keep muscles warm.

So much for old-school toughness. The NBA will try to ban themnext season. Marcus Camby said it best: "I ain't wearing nopantyhose."

Kobe Bryant

Lakers

It's hard to imagine his muscles would have a chance to cool offwith how much he shoots.

Vince Carter

Nets

One thing you need to do while wearing tights is bring someserious game. Carter and the Nets are doing just that.

Lebron James

Cavaliers

Stock prices for tights must have soared once he squeezed into apair.

Jerry Stackhouse

Mavericks

He is considered the first player to model the tights. But whywould other players want to follow his lead?

MISSES

BUD SELIG: It's too late to clean things up. This now looks like awitch hunt, and the racial implications are unavoidable. You couldhave done something sooner.

Trib co.: Bud Light Bleachers? Wow. How long before the seventh-

inning stretch is sold to a sponsor?

Bill Wirtz: Closing in on Hawks franchise record for losses. Nowins. No fans. No optimism for the future. Can't wait for nextseason.

TALKIN' TRASH

"I think you can win championships at Indiana." --Kelvin sampson,during his introductory news conference in Bloomington, Ind. "I couldhave helped them win 20 more games to get into the playoffs."

--Tim Thomas, making a claim about the Bulls that GM John Paxsoncalled "delusional"

WHITE SOX Opening Day record: 54-51 uHome openers: 55-50

Last year April 4, 2005: The championship season started with a 1-0 victory over the Cleveland Indians. Mark Buehrle (right) outdueledJake Westbrook, yielding just two hits and striking out five in eightinnings to pick up the win. Shingo Takatsu notched the save.

The game lasted just 1 hour, 51 minutes. Paul Konerko led off theseventh with a double and advanced on Jermaine Dye's fly. AaronRowand hit a bouncer to Jhonny Peralta that took a bad hop, allowingKonerko to score the decisive run. Lucky hop? Maybe. But it certainlywas an omen of things to come.

BEST April 14, 1910: Frank Smith fired a one-hitter, and the WhiteSox defeated the St. Louis Browns 3-0 at South Side Park III. Smithwas a colorful character in Sox history, throwing two no-hitters andwinning 20 games twice. According to thebaseballpage.com, Smithbattled alcoholism and abandoned the Sox during the 1908 pennant raceafter a feud with manager Fielder Jones. Smith returned, but on thefinal day of the season, Jones pitched Doc White instead of a restedSmith and lost the game and the pennant to Detroit.

Worst April 18, 1991: Nice way to christen the new ballpark. TheDetroit Tigers handed it to the White Sox 16-0 at new Comiskey Park.The Sox won their first six games that season and were 6-1 when theygot blown out. Jack McDowell (left), who's tied with Billy Pierce forthe most Opening Day wins in Sox history at three, took the loss,giving up six earned runs in 2* innings. Frank Tanana went thedistance, yielding just seven hits, including two to Robin Ventura.

Most memorable April 16, 1940: There has been only one no-hitterthrown on Opening Day, and it happened at old Comiskey Park when theCleveland Indians' Bob Feller earned a 1-0 victory. Game-timetemperature was 35 degrees, and the 21-year-old Feller was working ontwo days of rest after pitching an exhibition game. Hall of FamerLuke Appling fouled off 15 pitches during one at-bat before beingretired. The Sox loaded the bases in the second, and Indians managerOssie Vitt had someone warming up, but Feller pitched out of the jam.

CUBS Opening Day record: 72-56-2 u Home openers 75-52-2

Last year April 8, 2005: Cubs fans might want to avoid readingthis recap. LaTroy Hawkins blew a one-run lead with two outs in theninth, and the Milwaukee Brewers pulled out a 6-3 victory in 12

innings. Kerry Wood threw 104 pitches in 5* innings despitelimited duty in Cactus League play because of inflammation in histhrowing shoulder. Corey Patterson was booed after striking out forthe third time. "Not a very good home opener," Dusty Baker said.

BEST April 6, 1971: How about this for a pitching duel? FergieJenkins picked up a 2-1 complete-game victory over the St. LouisCardinals in 10 innings, striking out seven without giving up a walk.Bob Gibson took the loss after also going the distance. BillyWilliams ended it with a homer. Some Cubs fans will mention TuffyRhodes hitting three homers off Dwight Gooden on

April 4, 1994, as the best opener, but it's not even close. A Hallof Fame slugger deciding a duel between two Hall of Fame pitchers isthe easy choice.

Worst April 12, 2004: So much for cleansing the palate after theplayoff collapse and Bartman game in '03. The Pittsburgh Pirates wona 13-2 rout as Greg Maddux

returned to Wrigley as a Cub and walked five, hit a batter andgave up eight hits and six runs in 3* innings. Bill Murray threw outthe first pitch, and he sailed one high over the backstop. Madduxwasn't much better. Kris Benson picked up the win.

MOST MEMORABLE

April 3, 1998: Forget the game itself, which the Cubs won 6-2 overthe Montreal Expos. The moment was defined by the Cubs taking thefield for the first time after Harry Caray's death, and Dutchie sang"Take Me Out to the Ball Game" to a packed house during the seventh-inning stretch. Afterward, she hugged grandson Chip, who was in hisfirst season in the Cubs' booth. Steve Stone reportedly was so chokedup that he

couldn't speak for several minutes. Hundreds of white and blueballoons were released as "Amazing Grace" played on the loudspeaker.

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