On Joshua Kahan .com, I talk about growing up in the city of broad shoulders and enjoying all that this magnificent city has to offer. I write about my love for Chicago sports teams and how they helped shape and mold me as an aspiring baseball player. I was raised for several years of my youth by my mother who lived 7 blocks from historic Wrigley Field in the heart of the north side of Chicago. Taking the 22 Clark bus, then the 36 Addison to reach my home was a daily ritual, as was passing Wrigley Field almost every day of the year. I grew up wanting to help the "Lovable Losers," i.e. the Chicago Cubs, get to the World Series and be a part of bringing back a title to the city that loves their Cubs.
My father was a very good baseball player. I inherited his love for the game and, early on, it was apparent that I had a knack for the game. As a young baseball player who played catcher – the most demanding position -- my ability to influence the outcome of almost every game became evident to me and those who played with or against me. I loved playing the game and found it difficult to find good leagues in Chicago that offered a high level of competition. Unlike the kids of today, trying to get exposure and join travel teams was not nearly as easy. I found by the 7th or 8th grade while attending a small private school, Francis W. Parker, that getting noticed was a challenge. As I approached high school, I had to decide if leaving the school in pursuit of my baseball dream was a good idea. I remember a former middle school coach saying, "Josh, if you want to play ball in college, I'm not sure that staying here will give you your best shot at success.” That was after I had become somewhat of a feared player around the small private league school system. Most teams would rather have pitched around me when I was at the plate. I felt it was an honor to be so respected, but also really annoying that teams would rather walk me than let me swing the bat. Unfortunately, I grew up right at the beginning of the digital era, and video cameras were a new toy and very expensive. As I recall, there were only one or two video moments of my baseball exploits ever recorded. Like many before me without the Internet, I was just a talking point or sandlot hero and the conversation still to this day from my former classmates and coaches went something like, "Did you see that home run Kahan hit against Morgan Park?" Or, "Can you believe how far back they play Joshua in the outfield when he's at the plate?" Ah, to be a kid again! The travel teams, YouTube.com, and ESPN coverage have changed how young athletes are able to be seen by college and professional scouts.
By Joshua Kahan
After last night’s 2-0 loss and third in a row for the Chicago Blackhawks, one has to wonder what is going on with a team that was dominate all season long. If you are a superstitious person maybe you could point to the fact that the Blackhawks have not been the same since they fired Susannah Collins after her on air gaffe about the Hawks players having enough sex. At this point who knows, but I will say the Chicago Blackhawks have looked terrible over the past three games and now face the uphill battle of trying to win three in a row to advance to the western finals. I sure hope the real Blackhawks team shows up and can regain the form that led them to the best record in hockey.
By Joshua Kahan
Dancing with the Chicago Bears
Toward the end of the Super Bowl hype this year I saw on the news that Baltimore Ravens wide receiver, Jacoby Jones will be the next big sports contestant participating on ABC’s hit show, “Dancing with the Stars”. Jones will join the ranks of other notable NFL football players who have strapped on their dancing shoes including, Jerry Rice, Emmitt Smith, Warren Sapp, Kurt Warner and Hines Ward.
Now, I’ve never watched “Dancing with the Stars”. My grams might have it on when I go to visit and I’m aware of its existence and popularity with the swelling over-65, retired female demographic. But, this latest announcement got me to thinking. What if the producers decided to put one of the Bears on their show? What if it didn’t have to be a current player? I mean, they pick retired and Hall of Famer all the time.
The obvious choice would be Jim McMahon. He’s good TV. But I heard on 720AM, the former hurler is starting to suffer from early stages of dementia. I’ve actually seen him at a few golf outings and from the behavior I’ve witnessed and stories I’ve heard, what with ABC being a “family channel”, maybe McMahon should ride the bench this year.
That leaves William “The Fridge” Perry? Richard Dent? Dan “Danimal” Hampton? Dikta? Most of those guys had some moves back in the Super Bowl Shuffle days and I know more than a few taverns that would put the show on to see any of these hallowed warriors pirouette, dip and tango. Of course, with Chicago’s luck ABC would end up picking Brian Urlacher or Devin Hester AND they’d somehow sustain a career ending injury in the process.
By Joshua Kahan
All Part of My Rock and Roll (Baseball) Fantasy
No matter how you look at it, fantasy sports have become a major industry. Conservative estimates suggest over 26 million players participate in this $1-2 billion enterprise every year. Along with perennial stalwarts like baseball and football, one can play fantasy hockey, golf, soccer, and NASCAR, among others. Personally, I can’t wait for fantasy water polo. (SIDE NOTE: I did briefly participate in a special, public ESPN Fantasy Olympic Challenge, which was almost too difficult to comprehend.)
This year I am sticking to my dynasty baseball league. Since the draft is the first week of March, I’ve been doing the minimum amount of research. I was fortunate to grab Mike Trout (OF, Angels) as soon as he was called up last year. In addition, I have Ryan Braun (OF, Brewers) and “King” Felix Hernandez (P, Mariners) as keepers.
Over the years I’ve read just about every draft strategy and guide published about this burgeoning sport. I’ve finally adopted the tactic of collecting value over name recognition and waiting on relief pitching until the last rounds. Relief pitchers, much like kickers in the NFL, ultimately show little statistical difference between the elite and bottom tiers by the end of the season. It’s also a precarious role and plenty of set-up guys surface as fantasy studs by the end of April.
A few Major League Baseball players on my radar this year are:
1B: Billy Butler (KC) – This kid is a lock for a .300 batting average and hits for power, plus he plays for a Kansas City team hungry to get out of the basement. You can snatch him after the top five names are off the board.
SS: Ian Desmond (WSH) – Entering his fourth full season with the Nationals, Desmond should merit another solid 20-20 campaign. He doesn’t have the big name appeal of a Troy Tulowitzki or Hanley Ramirez, but there’s plenty of upside here. (SIDE NOTE: I’ll take Starlin Castro from the Chicago Cubs in a heartbeat as my homer pick if the opportunity presents itself.)
C: Salvador Perez (KC)- I know, two guys from the lowly Kansas City Royals on my list. What is the world coming to? I like this kid. The power might not be there yet, but he doesn't strike out a lot and will keep you in the hunt in batting average, run and RBI. I think he's the real deal and since he's at the bottom of most lists you can wait on a catcher and load up on pitching or outfielders.
By Joshua Kahan
HoHoKam Park With Joshua Kahan
It’s days (and weeks and months) like these in wintery Chicago that my mind drifts to baseball. Spring Training is officially upon us and it’s another “This is our Year” season for the Chicago Cubs. I never really followed the Cactus League all that much but when there’s three inches of snow on the ground and more falling by the minute there’s nothing I’d rather do than watch the Cubbies smack the ball around at HoHoKam Stadium in Mesa, Arizona.
I was in Phoenix on business last year around this time and happened to catch a bit of the local news. It literally hit me out of left field that the Cubs were playing – in February! I finished up my meeting early and drove over to the park. Fifteen dollars and an Old Style later I was standing next to Ernie Banks in the sunshine watching Anthony Rizzo take the field alongside Starlin Castro Alfonso Soriano. How many years do we have left on Fonzie’s contract? I feel like bleacher seats at Wrigley Field were still under $20 when he got signed.
After losing 100+ games in 2012 for the first time in 46 years and only the third time in franchise history, I am hoping this year will be more entertaining at Wrigley Field in Chicago. Theo Epstein and his crew didn’t make many marquee moves in the off-season. But they did make a ton of stopgap, low-risk maneuvers that I hope lift the Cubs out of the National League basement in 2013. Edwin Jackson? Scott Baker? Ian Stewert? Scott Feldman? I’m not concerned about seeing many kids sporting these jerseys on Opening Day.
Nate Schierholtz intrigues me. He was being groomed by San Francisco as the next outfield golden boy. So, when that experiment didn’t pan out, the Cubs took a cheap flyer on him. His bat does have pop but he’ll have to prove himself at HoHoKam this Spring or become another player off the bench or injury fill in. The other guy I have my eye on this year is Fujikama, otherwise known as the Marmol replacement. The Cubs practically stole him and he promises to be the best addition to the roster this year. Even if he digs batters like Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn, Fujikama can’t be worse than Carlos Marmol.
By Joshua Kahan
Well, Spring Training is almost over and that means the Cubs will wrap up camp in Arizona and head back to Chicago for another interesting year of baseball. The lineup will have several non-household names in it as the Cubs try to get younger and begin to build a team and organization that will run out a competitive team on a daily basis.
I like Starlin Castro, but I'm not sure shortstop will end up being his position in the long run. The Cubs still have one old carry-over from the last regime namely, Alfonso Soriano. He did have a pretty solid year slugging 32 Home-runs and driving in over 100 runs, around one for each loss last year. At 18 million plus a year however, he is no bargain, and after talk early on during spring training about his willingness to get traded, maybe that will come true during the season. The player I am most excited to see this year is Anthony Rizzo. He had a very solid introduction to the Chicago Cubs last season, and I believe Rizzo could become a perennial 300-30-100 guy for years to come.
The Cubs also have a couple of interesting young prospects, Jorge Soler and Javier Baez could prove to be the foundation in a couple years for the new look Cubs. I expect to see one or both of them called up at some point during the season, and help begin to turn the corner for this beleaguered franchise. I don't think the Cubs will be as bad as last year, but I doubt they will win more than 70 games this year. Here's to waiting another couple of years for a team I can get behind and be proud of.
By Joshua Kahan
Will a 500 million Dollar facelift change the team on the field?
Dear Mr. Ricketts, I like that you are willing to address some of the issues that have plagued Wrigley Field for several decades now, but maybe start by putting a better product on the field. After watching the first couple of weeks in the 2013 MLB season, I must say I am not impressed with any part of the Cubs. They have the most errors in the league and still have the worst fundamentals of any team I've seen since playing in high school. Can you spend money on minor league instructors and some talent maybe? That is all.
By Joshua Kahan
Josh Kahan was born and raised on the North side of Chicago, Illinois. He attended both Syracuse University in New York and Loyola in Chicago. Josh is a lifelong Cubs, Bears and Blackhawks fan. He has been a NASDAQ Market Maker for Morgan Stanley and E*trade. Josh Kahan enjoys fine dining, photography and armchair quarterbacking the economy.