Sunday, October 23, 2016

Waking up to a new world of a Cubs Pennant

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Waking up to a new world of a Cubs Pennant

I've always loved the Chicago Cubs since I was a little kid. Maybe it started with the name but it grew into admiring the great players that have been on the team, and being in love with one of the greatest baseball parks in America, Wrigley Field. Cheering for the Cubs to win the Pennant has always been fun in a large part because they have always fallen short, 71 years for a Pennant and 108 years since a World Series win.

By Ray Hanania

RayHananiaColumnPodcast_I've always loved the Chicago Cubs, ever since I was a little kid growing up on the South Side of Chicago where most of my neighbors were all diehard White Sox fans. Even Chicago's great mayors, Richard J. and Richard M. Daley were Sox fans.

Still, maybe that love was with the Cubs' name. But it grew into admiration of the many great players that have played for the team, and definitely true love with one of the greatest baseball parks in America, Wrigley Field.

Cheering for the Cubs to win the Pennant has always been fun in a large part because they have always fallen short of making it to a World Series game -- it's been 108 years since their last World Series victory in 1908. The Cubs played three back-to-back World Series in 1906, 1907 and 1908, winning the last two. But that led to a 108 year draught. The Cubs won the Pennant in 1945 but lost the World Series to the Detroit Tigers.

It would be the last World Series they would ever play, until now. The Chicago Cubs were the "underdogs" of baseball.

The "underdog" is a powerful symbol of determination, persistence, stubbornness to succeed. It's something that I have always embraced, in everything, including politics. I'm definitely an "underdog" fan, not just of the symbolism but of the many other related spin-offs including the popular Underdog animated series that began in 1964 and ended in 1973.

Deutsch: Wrigley-Field, Chicago (IL)
Wrigley-Field, Chicago (IL) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

"There's no need to fear. Underdog is here," the proud and powerful yet "humble and lovable" Shoeshine Boy cartoon doggie would declare as he quickly turned into a superhero, whose goal was to save people.

The Underdog saving people. It's a heartwarming theme that kept Cubs fan's hearts warm for more than 108 years in this country.

The Chicago Cubs changed that last night, October 22, 2016, a day that will go down in history as one of the great days in American baseball. They won the National Championship and the 2016 Pennant.

The Chicago Cubs defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers in six games, and the clincher was at Wrigley Field on Saturday night when Chicago's team shutout the Dodgers and their over-ballyhooed "fearsome" Goliath of a pitcher, Clayton Kershaw. Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Kyle Hendricks, our phenomenal pitcher that night, Ben Zobrist, David Ross, Willson Contreras, Jason Heyward, Jake Arrieta and so many more brought it home together.

In my eyes, Rizzo, Bryant, Hendricks are the Mickey Mantles and Roger Maris' of my boyhood baseball heroes.

Aaron Hanania interviews Cubs First Baseman Anthony Rizzo in 2015 as the Cubs began their rise.
Aaron Hanania interviews Cubs First Baseman Anthony Rizzo in 2015 as the Cubs began their rise.

That feeling that the Underdog saved Cubs fans is overpowering, overcoming a mythical curse that many used as the excuse to explain why so many other Cubs greats had failed to bring their team to a Pennant sooner. Ernie Banks, who lived in Pill Hill, a few blocks away from where I grew up on Chicago's South East side in the 1960s, which was also right down the street by another underdog powerhouse, Muhammed Ali. And Ron Santo, and power hitter Billy Williams. The faces changed many times. Great pitcher Fergie Jenkins, Randy Hundley and power hitter Glenn Beckert.

We saw all the names come and go, dogged under the shadow of an excuse, a hyped-up curse about a Greek immigrant and bar owner, Billy Sianis, who tried to bring his goat into the 1945 World Series game, the last game the Pennant flying Cubs would play for 71 years. The blue and gold clothed Andy Frain ushers refused to allow Sianis and his goat into the ballpark, and he gave them an Old World, Middle Eastern curse. The Cubs lost the World Series to the Detroit Tigers and it's been drought ever since.

Aaron Hanania at the 2014 Cubs Convention with Cubs Pitcher Fergie Jenkins
Aaron Hanania at the 2014 Cubs Convention with Cubs Pitcher Fergie Jenkins

No World Series victory since back-to-back victories in 1907 and 1908. No Pennant win since 1945. World Series hopes dashed year after year since. No wonder wags would manufacture a stupid excuse that would become folklore in Chicago and around the country about a goat and an immigrant bar owner.

Columnist Mike Royko, who I knew and worked with, glommed on to the story told by the goat owner's nephew, Sam Sianis, at none other than the Billy Goat Tavern under Michigan Avenue where Royko and his adoring entourage of journalist pals and bar admirers would sit, eat burgers and get drunk on beer. Billy Sianis was a entrepreneur and super promoter who was in the news all the time, mainly in Royko's columns. But Sianis also created his own news, like when he petitioned Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley for the first liquor license for the moon.

Royko later wrote that it was all just in good fun. A typical Chicago good story, or "gawd stawwy" as my City Hall journalism mentor would put it, the late great Harry Golden Jr. And it was a good story, the only believable explanation for why the Cubs had not won a pennant (71 years) or won a World Series (108) in such a long time.
Great players. Great fans. Great ballpark.

Aaron Hanania at a Cubs Game at Wrigley Field
Aaron Hanania at a Cubs Game at Wrigley Field

The truth is that the Billy Goat story is nothing more than an excuse to explain away years of not winning. Underdogs are often shouldered with that explanation. They just didn't make it. A team isn't just a few great players like Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, Fergie Jenkins and Ron Santo who can slam in home runs. It's a team that comes together to keep the other team from scoring.

And that's what the Cubs did Saturday night. They kept the Los Angeles Dodgers from scoring. They played almost perfect baseball. Three memorable double plays took the Dodgers off the bases before they could get past First Base, the criteria needed to threaten runs.

The Cubs will play the Cleveland Indians, who are also in a mini-slump of their own, having not won a World Series since 1948. If only the Cubs just had that problem.

Winning the World Series is great. Playing in the World Series as the underdog is dynamic. Electrifying. Something that will charge up Cubs fans more than any other baseball or sports fan in the country.

This is a new world where Chicago Cubs fans can lift up their heads with pride. They did what everyone said they couldn't do. It took a long time to get there, 71 years, and who knows if they will win the World Series ... I hope they do ... something they haven't done in 108 years since 1908.

I don't care. We counted the years since Pennant and World Series wins like the statistics we count for the players themselves.

The Chicago Cubs won the 2016 National League Pennant and that is good enough for me. If they win the World Series, I will be happy, but we will always be the underdogs of baseball.
Where were you when the Cubs clinched it? It's a question that will go down in the history books along with several other. Where where you when John F. Kennedy was assassinated? Where were you when Princess Di was murdered by the paparazzi to prevent her from marrying a Muslim Arab playboy?


The Cub has become the Bear, and not soon enough, ironically.

"There's no need to fear. The Underdog Cubs are here!"

Check out Aaron Hanania's interview with Anthony Rizzo in 2015 and visit his website at

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Morton High school receives National Honors as District of the Year

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Morton High school receives National Honors as District of the Year

J. Sterling Morton High School named District of the Year for Advanced Placement by the National College Board in a recent evaluation of more than 6,000 campuses. Morton was selected from more than 450 schools that were credited with AP achievements.

J. Sterling Morton High school District 201 in west suburban Chicago was named “District of the Year” by College Board Advanced Placement, a national education association representing more than 6,000 educational institutions around the country.

Morton was selected from all school districts across the nation that participate in the AP program. More than 21,000 high schools take part in Advanced Placement testing.

Morton High school, which has two campuses in Cicero and in Berwyn, Illinois, has 2,350 students who are currently enrolled in Advanced Placement (AP) classes through the collaboration between College Board and Morton.

“We are very proud of our students and staff and this achievement which once again proves that Morton High school is one of the best educational institutions in the Midwest and Illinois,” said the Jeff Pesek, president of the Morton High School Board.

“This award is a reflection of all of their hard work and dedication. District leadership will continue to work hard to ensure that every student continues to succeed.”

Morton High school District 201 named District of the Year by College Board, 2016
Morton High school District 201 named District of the Year by College Board, 2016

Trevor Packer, senior vice president of AP and instruction at the College Board, said the award is an important educational achievement.

“This award shows that the teachers and administrators at Morton are challenging students to achieve at the highest levels,” Packer said.

“They are succeeding in helping students attain the benefits of the AP Program — to gain confidence, learn to craft effective arguments, earn credit for college, and eventually graduate from college on time. The College Board applauds the district’s leadership to ensure that a more diverse population of students is prepared to succeed in college.”

College Board is an American private non-profit organization that was formed in December 1899 as the College Entrance Examination Board (CEEB) to expand access to higher education. It runs a membership association of institutions, including over 6,000 schools, colleges, universities and other educational organizations. College Board develops and administers standardized tests and curricula used by K–12 and post-secondary education institutions to promote college-readiness and as part of the college admissions process.

Each year, the College Board helps more than seven million students prepare for a successful transition to college through programs and services in college readiness and college success — including the SAT and the Advanced Placement Program. The organization also serves the education community through research and advocacy on behalf of students, educators and schools.

Morton High school students
Morton High school students

The competition for placement was intense, Pesek said, but added, “Our students academically are up to the challenge and are proud to showcase their educational abilities.”

Of 21,000 high schools that participated in the AP Program this year, Morton was one of 425 school districts across the U.S. and Canada that achieved placement on the annual AP District Honor Roll. From this list, three AP Districts of the Year — one for each category of district population size: small, medium, and large — were selected based on an analysis of three academic years of AP data.

From 2013 to 2015, J. Sterling Morton School District:

Simultaneously and continuously increased the number of students taking AP classes while improving successful outcomes (a score of 3 or higher out of 5 points) on AP Exams, with 33 percent of all AP students scoring a 3 or higher in 2015;

Increased student participation in AP by 19 percent annually and the percentage of students scoring a 3 or higher on at least one AP Exam by 7 percent annually; and

Increased the percentage of traditionally underrepresented minority AP students earning a 3 or higher on at least one AP Exam by 9 percent annually — an increase of 266 students since 2013. (80 percent or more of the AP students in J. Sterling Morton School District is American Indian, African American, or Hispanic/Latino. In addition, over 90 percent or more of the AP students in the district qualify for free or reduced-price lunch.)

Increasing access to AP course work while simultaneously increasing the percentage of students earning scores of 3 or higher out of 5 points is the ideal scenario for a district’s AP program, indicating that the district is successfully preparing a larger array of its students for the rigor of AP and college studies.

Participating in AP course work can also lead to college savings for families because the typical student who scores a 3 or higher on two AP Exams has the potential to save, on average, $1,779 at a public four-year college and over $6,000 at a private institution.

Morton High school was presented with the honor in Anaheim, California during the 2016 AP Annual Conference held this month.

In 2015, more than 3,900 colleges and universities around the world received AP scores for college credit, advanced placement, and/or consideration in the admission process, with many colleges and universities in the U.S. offering credit in one or more subjects for qualifying AP scores.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Attempted Bank Robbery: Threat but no weapon visible

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Attempted Bank Robbery: Threat but no weapon visible

A suspected attempted to rob a Bank of America branch in the Town of Cicero at 2337 South Cicero Avenue this morning (Thursday July 7, 2016) at around 10 am.

The suspect did not display a weapon or imply he had a weapon but he did hand the cashier a threatening note.

The suspect fled without getting any funds from the clerk who immediately notified police. The FBI and the Cicero Police have released three photos of the suspect, an African American Male, taken during the attempted robbery.

 Police are asking anyone who recognizes the suspect to contact either the Cicero Police at 708-652-2130 or the FBI at 312-421-6700.

Cicero Attempted BankRobbery Suspect July 7, 2016,
Bank of America, 10:17 am, 2337 S. Cicero Avenue, Illinois

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

ComEd Restores 99 Percent of Customers Affected by Wednesday’s Storm

ComEd Restores 99 Percent of Customers Affected by Wednesday’s Storm 

More than 53,000 customers restored since the start of the storm 

CHICAGO (July 6, 2016) - Following storms that brought strong winds and lightning that swept through northern Illinois Wednesday, ComEd has restored power to 99 percent of the 54,000 customers affected.

The damaging winds and lightning snapped power lines and brought down heavy trees onto electrical lines.

More than 600 ComEd and contractor crews worked around-the-clock in challenging working conditions to restore power to the majority of impacted customers in less than 24 hours.

The remaining outages are those where the power infrastructure sustained significant damage. ComEd and contractor crews continue to work on restoring power to the remaining pockets of customers.

“We recognize that power outages disrupt the lives and businesses of our customers,” said Terence R. Donnelly, executive vice president and chief operating officer for ComEd.

“With the heat coming into the area, our restoration crews are focused on safely and quickly restoring power to every single impacted customer. We appreciate our customers’ patience and thank our employees as we complete the repairs to our system following this damaging storm.”

ComEd urges customers to contact the utility immediately if they are experiencing a power outage. Customers can text OUT to 26633 (COMED) to report their outage and receive restoration information.

ComEd also offers a mobile app for smart phones that gives customers the ability to report power outages and manage their accounts. In addition, customers can report outages through the website at or on ComEd’s Facebook page at or by calling 1-800 EDISON1 (1-800-334-7661). Spanish-speaking customers should call 1-800-95-LUCES (1-800-955-8237).

Public safety is paramount during storms and ComEd encourages the public to remember to take the following precautions: If a downed wire is on your vehicle, stay in your vehicle and wait for help. Never approach a downed power line. Always assume a power line is energized and extremely dangerous.

If you encounter a downed power line, stay at least 35 feet away and immediately call ComEd at 1-800-EDISON1 (1-800-334-7661) or access our website at and report the location.

Spanish-speaking customers should call 1-800-95-LUCES (1-800-955-8237).

In the event of an outage, please do not approach ComEd crews working to restore power to ask about restoration times.

Crews may be working on live electrical equipment and the perimeter of the work zone may be hazardous.

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