Good morning, frents!
In the time it takes you to read this intro, Damian Lillard hit two three-pointers to steal a win from the Bulls on Saturday night.
Also, I hate to tell you this, but Dame took your dibs parking space on his way out of town, too.
Hawks 3, Blue Jackets 1
Rutgers 64, N’Western 56
Knicks at Bulls (7, NBCSCH)
A Dad's Dream Come True
Feels like it's been awhile since the Cubs had a feelgood story.
But that changed this weekend after the team signed Trevor Williams to a one-year deal worth $2.5 million.
The Cubs play the Pirates enough that you're probably famliiar with Williams. He's a 28-year-old righthander and he's been a mainstay in the Pirates rotation the past few years. Williams had a bit of a breakout season in 2018 going 14-10 with a 3.11 ERA over 170 innings. But he struggled with an oblique injury in 2019 and hasn't pitched well since.
So now the Cubs are rolling the dice that he'll stay healthy and bring some upside to the back of the rotation in 2021.
Whether or not the risk pays off remains to be seen, but it's a gamble that left Trevor's dad feeling like he'd hit the jackpot.
Richard Williams grew up in Chicago as a Cubs fan and tweeted soon after Trevor signed with the team (though he mixed up the location of the photo).
As the story goes, Richard ditched a few days of school in 1970 as Ernie Banks made his way toward No. 500. He wanted to be in the stands and he was on the afternoon of May 12.
But Williams' mother eventually caught wind of his home run hooky and grounded him for a lengthy amount of time.
"Then she said, about two weeks into it, 'Was it worth it?'" Richard Williams told MLB.com in 2016. "I said, 'Mom, it was so worth it.'"
That's not the most feelgood part about this story, though.
In late 2015, Richard Williams was diagnosed with Stage 4 B-cell lymphoma with tumors on three organs. Doctors told him to get his papers in order; he had two to three months left to live.
But Williams immediately signed off on the most aggressive treatment possible, enduring six months of chemotherapy and spinal taps plus another three months of radiation.
The treatment allowed him to attend Trevor's big league debut at PNC Park on September 7, 2016. The tearful moment the two shared after Trevor earned the win in the game quickly went viral and made Richard Williams a media star on his own. (After three decades of living in Southern California, Richard's Chicago accent in those interviews was still unmistakable.)
The story got better. A few months after that game, Richard Williams was told by his doctors that he was in remission. His son told MLB.com the recovery was a "freaking miracle."
Now, more than five years later, Trevor Williams will be asked to pitch in the ballpark where his father once worked as an usher.
Even with the uncertainties of the pandemic, I'm guessing Richard Williams will find a way into that game — just like he did with Ernie Banks a half-century earlier.
Which pitcher did Banks hit No. 500 off?
Big week ahead for the Bears?
The Matt Stafford trade to the Rams preceded the Lillard comeback by a few minutes and was much more shocking. The Lions got first-rounders in 2022 and 2023 plus a third-rounder this year in exchange for Stafford and a promise to be Jared Goff's nice farm family for a bit.
- The Chicago side of things: NFL Network's Ian Rapaport reported on Sunday that the Bears were among the teams offering more than one first-rounder for Stafford's services, but that Stafford wanted to head west to hang with his high school buddy Clayton Kershaw.
- That should still be enough for us to remain on alert going forward. If the report is accurate, Ryan Pace wants to make a splash and doesn't mind leveraging future draft stock to do it. That might be OK if it ends up with Watson in a No. 12 Bears jersey, but not OK if he ends up spending just to spend. (Which is what I think trading for Stafford at that price would've been.)
- Everything in my mind is telling me not to be afraid of the Lions in 3-4 years because they'll find some way to screw it up, but ... they actually made a move worth admiring here? If the Brad Holmes and Dan Campbell era was a true reset, this was the best way they could've started. Of course, hitting on those picks is a different challenge altogether.
Shorthanded Hawks triumph
The Hawks have five players on the COVID list and didn't practice on Saturday, but it didn't matter on Sunday as they scored two third-period goals to beat Columbus 3-1 to force a split of the weekend series.
- Pius Suter's go-ahead goal was scored at an even deeper angle than Patrick Kane's Cup winner in 2010 or Jonathan Toews' in the 2015 Western Conference final. He leads all NHL rookies in goals right now with four.
- Kevin Lankinen was named the No. 1 star of the game after a 32-save performance. He's allowed just seven goals on 160 shots his last five games for a 1.4 GAA. That seems good.
MLB proposes 154 games starting in late April
Details, including full pay for the players, here. Read it before another proposal gets floated through the media and you forget this one existed.
1. Pat Finley on five lessons the Bears can learn from the Matt Stafford trade. (Sun-Times)
2. Will Leitch with seven takeaways from the Nolan Arenado trade, including how it might affect the Cubs. (MLB.com)
3. Jim Margalus on the reunion of convenience between Carlos Rodon and the Sox. (Sox Machine)
4. The Illini's big win against Iowa on Friday night moved them up in the rankings. (CBS Sports)
5. Remember that time Joc Pederson trolled Addison Russell? (Bleacher Nation)
Trivia answer: Atlanta's Pat Jarvis
Your new bucket list item, courtesy of Tommy Hawk