Frankie O's Blog: Back to Normal?

Frankie O's Blog: Back to Normal?

Friday, March 25, 2011
Posted: 9:06 a.m.

By Frankie O
CSNChicago.com

Its hard to say that anything in my life is normal, that happens when you serve adults alcohol for a living and have three young kids and a boss at home. Pretty much, in all facets of my life, Im just along for the ride, and hanging on for dear life at that. But in anyones life you have to find that something that allows you to get away and balance yourself out. That my something puts me into a full psychosis should tell you everything that you need to know about me, that is, if you havent already guessed: I have a few issues!

For me, back to normal means that my fantasy hiatus is finally over. After a long year of the baseball-football fantasy doubleheader, even yours truly needs a little time to re-charge the batteries. Although I will admit, I did consider going year-round and playing in a fantasy basketball league with the other sickos in my two leagues. But then they changed the draft day on me and I was shut out. You dont think its because theyre tired of giving me their money is it? Anyway, it gave me a break from my computer, but for some reason with the additional time, I didnt seem to get any more done. How does that happen?

So as usual, the beginning of spring training had me chomping at the bit to get back into it. Fantasy guides are littering my desk and all month I have fallen asleep reading MLB information on my iPhone. At work, the mind-games were in midseason form. A lot of the fun of this is messing with your league mates. On-line banter is fun, but in person is funner. Sending out draft dis-information is all part of the master plan. The name of the game is to not only win, but to climb in their heads and have a sandwich while youre there. The pressure of the draft is pretty cool. Its high-stress, but its not entirely real. At least I keep telling myself that. In a perfect world, I think every fantasy draft should have everyone in the same room and should be in the auction format.

This starts every person on a level playing field and any person can have any player. (Not to mention something else that is a side benefit is that you all can enjoy a few refreshments and this will ALWAYS tilt the playing field not to mention giving you stories that will last the year and beyond. Am I right Puppy Kisses?) But since we do not live in a perfect world, I had to sit alone in front of my computer and deal with the vagaries of a snake draft. In the end I think a snake evens out, but just once I wouldnt mind the first pick, not complaining, just saying. Starting a draft with the best player is a nice advantage, if we all had to bid on it, that player is available to anyone who wants to pony up. As I sat on-line waiting for the 10:45 p.m. draft to start, I finished the fortress of information around me, drawing chuckles from the wife as she rolled her eyes and went to bed. But whats really funny is that I rarely use any of it.

Once the draft starts Im in such a trance that I really dont notice anything else. One thing I did notice was the lost connection filtered screen that dropped over my draft screen with the dreaded spinning circle. It only lasted a few seconds and went away. That was weird. There are many theories to drafts, and in a 7x7 NL only roto league such as ours, theyre too many to mention. For me, it gets down to two things: Guys I like to watch play and young guys with up-side. You can study every number you want, but this is still a lot of luck, and in the case of baseball a REALLY long season, so Im big on the kids I enjoy watching. (One of those kids is Joey Votto, who Ive owned for the last two years, while finishing 2nd and 1st in those two years. I dont think thats a coincidence and I love to watch him hit, although my enthusiasm will be a little tempered this year.)

In the first round Ryan Braun was there when it was my turn and he was gone when I used that turn. His powerspeedavg. combo made that pick a no-brainer. When I got to pick on the wrap-around I was able to get my new Votto in Andrew McCutchen. I think hes going to have a monster year. So far Im feeling pretty good, although that pesky lost connection screen keeps popping down. Of course the pick before mine in round three took the player I wanted, Hunter Pence (another Ive owned for two years, what can I say, I get attached to my guys!) but I knew my getting him in the third was a reach so I settled for my plan B: Jay Bruce. My team is going to hit!

Then it happened. As soon as I took Bruce, I queued Mike Stanton in my selection box, thinking Im going to have a core of four who can give me strength in all seven offensive categories. As my turn was one away I lost my connection! Do you know what happens when you lose your connection and its your pick? The computer picks for you! It picks the highest rated player according to our service, which is Yahoo!. And do you know who that was? Mr. Calf Strain himself: Jimmy Rollins! Now most of you would think that I would be happy with a former MVP, that plays in a quality scarce position, and by the way, is a PHILLIE! Ironically he is the Phillie who I have a lovehate thing with. Now thats funny, not funny ha-ha but funny.

I would not draft him EVER, or at least in the first 15 rounds. Hes old. He uppercuts his swing way too much, and especially now that I think he will hit in the three-hole since the Phils wont have Chase Utley, hell want to be a power hitter. Can you say 2-0 popup? And by the way, did I mention he gets hurt? A lot! Other than that, I dont have much of an opinion. Mr. Phillie himself, Mike Schmidt, said the same things about him this spring. (Schmidt and what he says are another three blogs, but this time I thought he was spot on.) I thought my head was going to explode.

I let out a tirade that would have made Rex Ryan blush. My vision was gone, in more ways than one. But what could I do? I know that the rest of my league-mates could care less. Stuff happens. But honestly, Rollins? Im still hot thinking about it. I wish I could say things got better, but for the rest of the draft, I lived in fear of another auto-pick. (Unfortunately, this did happen to others, but none with the consequence of my 4th pick.) My next one occurred in the 10th round when the computer picked a Met for me. A freaking Met! I hate Mets! If I could get away from my anger, there really is some funny, ironic stuff here. Funny if it was happening to someone else!

So this event that Ive been looking forward to for so long tuned into a three hour, 30-round hell ride. And just for good measure, my last pick, was an auto-pick! Only fitting thats how it ended and that one made me laugh out loud for the fact that it happened and that the player selected is no longer in baseball! In a change of luck, as soon as I was finished stomping on my computer and throwing its trampled remains out on the street (kidding! Sort of.) I turned on the TV and Old School was just coming on. Nothing like a little Will Ferrell to help me forget about my train-wreck of a draft. As I was watching, I remembered something that I believe totally about fantasy baseball.

Its not just about the draft. Its about how much work you put in. Unlike football, where the draft is ginormous, you can overcome your misfortune with due diligence. Fantasy baseball is a six-month marathon. You will get out what you put in. In a long season, players will come out of nowhere to have an impact. A lot of them have not been drafted yet. You just have to find them. The night after the draft was non-stop fun at work as I was taking a ribbing for my picks and my response to them. Nothing like some good old gallows humor! That night after work I consoled myself by looking over the other rosters and I realized with a little luck, I should once again be in the mix. As I was enjoying my 3 a.m. hour pondering the positive and negatives of Ronny Cedeno and Jason Michaels, my sick 11 year old came into the kitchen because her cough had woken here up. As she enjoyed a soothing Halls, she looked at my computer screen and rolled her eyes. (Where have I seen that look before?!!) She said that all of the boys in her class were addicted to fantasy baseball and that was all that they were talking about in school. Well, it is a great way to keep up on the math skills, I told her, hoping she did not see through me. Yeah, but my teacher says her husband is the same way, and that its a sickness. Thats quite a teacher you have there, I replied avoiding direct eye contact. Shes got me pegged! Again! How do kids get so smart so fast? I think its time you went back to bed young lady, Daddy will tuck you in. Then hes going back to his computer to find some more stolen bases! I close my eyes, only for a moment and the moments gone

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Five Things from Blackhawks-Canucks: Corey Crawford rebounds

Five Things from Blackhawks-Canucks: Corey Crawford rebounds

The Blackhawks’ starts have been all over the map this season but their finishes have usually been strong. That was the case again on Sunday night as the Blackhawks took a lead, lost a lead and regained a lead for good in their 4-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks.

This one featured a little bit of everything. So let’s just get to the Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ victory over Vancouver.

1. Jonathan Toews breaks through. If the Blackhawks captain’s confidence was a little shaken with his lack of scoring this season, it should’ve gotten a boost with his Sunday outing. Toews’ goal and three assists were as big for him as they were the Blackhawks, who needed every bit of it late against the Canucks. In his last 12 games Toews has three goals and eight assists. He’s getting there. Said coach Joel Quenneville, “it seems like he was around the puck way more and when he does that, usually good things happen.”

2. Great start. This hasn’t been written very often but it was more than evident on Sunday night. If this wasn’t the Blackhawks’ best opening period of the season it was pretty close, as they broke out to a 2-0 lead against the Canucks. The Blackhawks, outside of a 3 ½-minute sequence without a shot on goal, were tenacious and ready to shoot, taking an 18-9 shots-on-goal edge in that first.

3. Corey Crawford rebounds. Quenneville considered Scott Darling for this game, an understandable thought with Darling coming off a 30-stop shutout. But he wanted Crawford to get back to where he was prior to his appendectomy, and Crawford took a step in that direction on Sunday night. In stopping 26 of 28 shots Crawford got his 18th victory of the season and 200th of his career. Quenneville said Crawford “looked like he was in control.”

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4. Michal Kempny’s tough stretch. When Kempny has been good this season he’s been very good. When he’s been bad... The defenseman was in the penalty box when the Canucks scored their first goal and he was beaten by Bo Horvat on the Canucks’ second goal. Kempny didn’t play the final 14 minutes of the game. Quenneville, who liked what Kempny brought on the team’s road trip, said Kempny just has to work through some things. “Coverage with awareness and knowing sometimes it’s man coverage, sometimes it’s playing the puck and clearing the loose stuff,” Quenneville said. “Defenseman is a tough position as you’re growing and learning it, but the more you play the better you play and I still think he’s making progress.”

5. Brian Campbell gets to keep No. 500 this time. Campbell thought he had his 500th point against the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night but it was taken away. Well he got it back on Sunday night, setting up Richard Panik’s 11th goal of the season in the first period.