Dear Mr. Fantasy

Dear Mr. Fantasy

Friday, December 18

As you might expect, me being a bartender, Im expected to help fulfill fantasies. Tough work, but somebody has to do it. The unfortunate part is its usually (?) only to provide advice to fantasy sports geeks. The rock-star lifestyle of a high profile bartender never ends! Ill admit that for years, I didnt quite get the guys who obsessed over fantasy sports. They talked a foreign language, kind of like back in college, those guys who used to play Dungeons and Dragons. (Thats one fantasy world I never understood: Sit around a basement table, casting charm spells? Why dont we go to a bar, and try to cast real charm spells?)

As the years passed though, my fascination with the numbers of sports and the ease of getting into a league on the computer, combined to get me started. Oops.

Once youre in, its hard to get out. I think the thing that hooks you is the fact that, for the most part, that it doesnt make sense. Until its over, then it makes complete sense. Most times. Churchill described fantasy football the best when he was asked about it and responded: Fantasy football is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. That dude was ahead of his time, because he couldnt have described all fantasy sports any better.

As much as you think you know, you dont know. But I know that I know more than most of the guys in my leagues. What do they know? (And by leagues, Im using a plural to represent different sports, not playing 5 football leagues at the same time. There is nothing more annoying than the guy who has every stud or surprise player because he plays in 11 leagues! Stop talking now!)

Another part of the intoxicating effects are the definite results. They might not always be indicative of what happened, but they are there none the less. This is in contrast to most bar discussions that usually dont have a definitive beginning or end. Fantasy sports give you a result. My favorite part of these results is, if they go against you, they dont matter anyway, and if they go in your favor, they cement your genius.

And isnt what its all about? 99.9 of sports conversation is about proving that youre right or at least understand whats going on. Fantasy sports, or shall I say, prowess in them, give you credibility. Doesnt it? In a word, NOT!

While they are based in fact, their results are not. The results are based on luck, in most situations. If you have Larry Fitzgerald, and he only has 3 catches because hes a decoy or the Cardinals are running against an inferior opponent, does that make him less of a weapon? Of course not, but if his lack of production comes at the wrong time, it can cost a fantasy owner a game, or heaven forbid, a championship. Great play- bad result. It depends on so many variables. Over the course of a season, Fitz on your team will give you great results, but for one game? Flip a coin. Isnt that awesome?!

Im writing this blog during one of the biggest weekends of the year, for me the biggest, for just about every fantasy football format. Its the 1st of two rounds of playoffs and I think this is the most important because, lose this weekend and all of your work is down the drain. Loser Bowl? Thats for losers! If youre playing for a little more than just pride, the big payoff is for the top 2 teams so you need to get to that game. But its a definite be careful what you wish for scenario, because my brain is being twisted into a pretzel. Ive examined every option I have for my team, and the other 250 or so free-agents that are out there that I can acquire. Im not kidding. I have serious issues!

This is especially where that luck thing comes in. Study all you want. Examine every match-up. One of your studs has a bad game and youre done. Have two Indianapolis Colts who have helped carry your team all year questionable because they have nothing to play for, and you roll the dice. Go for it Caldwell, go for it!

Anyway, I think that this fantasy adventure that Ive been on these last couple of years (football, and the root of all evil, baseball) have taught me something. Ive learned that fantasy is a lot like real life. You can study and prepare all you want, but just when you think you have it all figured out, something happens that you were never expected. Good or bad. What that teaches you is that, as much as you want to be in control, most times you have none at all. Just like being married!!

And the most important thing it teaches you, if you take it, and yourself, too seriously, theres never going to be a happy ending. And whats the fun in that? Its supposed to be fun, right??

So enjoy the weekend my fantasy brethren, and may the bounces go your way, (Unless, youre in my league!!) and remember: Jamaal Charles is my Boy!

Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick tells ESPN Brian Kelly will be back in 2017

Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick tells ESPN Brian Kelly will be back in 2017

Brian Kelly's job at Notre Dame apparently is not in jeopardy despite the team's 2-5 start to the 2016 season. 

Irish athletic director Jack Swarbrick told that Kelly "will lead this team out of the tunnel opening day next year."

Kelly has come under fire for his perceived penchant for criticizing players before himself as well as his behavior on the sidelines as Notre Dame's chances of becoming bowl eligible have slipped this season. The seventh-year Irish coach, though, was praised for his relationship with his team by Swarbrick, who told ESPN it's "probably as strong as any that I've seen with him at Notre Dame." Multiple players said after Notre Dame's loss to Stanford last weekend that they didn't believe Kelly had lost the team

Kelly and Notre Dame agreed to a six-year contract extension in January that runs through the 2021 season. 

Brian Campbell, Trevor van Riemsdyk in vs. Columbus

Brian Campbell, Trevor van Riemsdyk in vs. Columbus

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Brian Campbell will be in the lineup after all, as will Trevor van Riemsdyk, when the Blackhawks face the Columbus Blue Jackets Friday night at Nationwide Arena.

Campbell appeared to be headed for healthy scratch status the past two days, when he was not among the top three defensive pairs at practice. But coach Joel Quenneville said Friday morning that Campbell is in. He would not say who was out.

“We want to get our defense in there. He’s been out too many games; we want him playing,” Quenneville said, referring to van Riemsdyk. “And we feel that there are seven D, they all deserve to play as well.”

The Blackhawks could go with seven defensemen. But considering Quenneville liked their four-line rotation better the last game, it would be a surprise if the Blackhawks changed that.

Ryan Hartman will play after missing the last two games with a lower-body injury.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Meanwhile, Artem Anisimov returns to Columbus for the first time since he was traded to the Blackhawks — he did not play in the regular-season finale here last April.

“I already experienced it when I was first traded to Columbus [from New York], but this feeling is different,” Anisimov said of being back here. “I don’t know how to describe it but it’s still weird coming back.”

The Blackhawks will see former teammate Brandon Saad, whose Blue Jackets are playing just their second game in six days. Columbus lost their opening two games.

“Yeah, it’s a little bit weird,” Saad said. “It’s almost like the season didn’t start with the break we had, so we’ve had a lot of practice and a lot of review. But we’re definitely looking to get back and paying games.”


Time: 6 p.m.

TV: CSN-Chicago

Radio: WGN 720AM

Projected lineups


Tyler Motte-Jonathan Toews-Richard Panik

Artemi Panarin-Artem Anisimov-Patrick Kane

Vinnie Hinostroza-Nick Schmaltz-Ryan Hartman

Dennis Rasmussen-Marcus Kruger-Jordin Tootoo

Duncan Keith-Niklas Hjalmarsson

Michal Kempny-Brent Seabrook

Trevor van Riemsdyk-Brian Campbell

Corey Crawford

Injuries: Marian Hossa (lower body), Andrew Desjardins (lower body).

Columbus Blue Jackets

Matt Calvert-Brandon Dubinsky-Cam Atkinson

Brandon Saad-Alexander Wennberg-Nick Foligno

Scott Hartnell-William Karlsson-Josh Anderson

Boone Jenner-Lukas Sedlak-Oliver Bjorkstrand

Ryan Murray-Seth Jones

Zach Werenski-David Savard

Jack Johnson-Markus Nutivaara

Sergei Bobrovsky