Frankie O's Blog: A lazy, hazy shade of winter

Frankie O's Blog: A lazy, hazy shade of winter

By Frankie O
CSNChicago.com
As I continue to awaken from my tryptophan induced haze, I find that my new-found clarity enables me to see sports, and life, in a different light. The scandal at Penn State has definitely been a burden and has prompted a lot of soul-searching. It makes me wonder about a priority system gone made. While I think I have mine in order, most times, the combination of the scandal, fighting through an illness during a holiday weekend and a fast approaching milestone birthday have wreaked havoc on my mental well-being. That being said, one must fight on and move forward, hoping that eventually what is right will be done. One good thing about getting older though, I think the filter that should exist in all of our heads, is staring to disappear! OMG!

The talk of the bar, obviously, is about the Bears. The Jay Cutler injury has put a huge damper on the Koo-Aid drinking. As far as his coming back, who knows? But the team cant get lost in waiting for him. This is a time when the defense needs to step up. Lost in the furor over the awful tight-end screen call at the end of the first half that led to an interception that completely changed the game was the fact that the defense didnt do their new QB any favors. I know that they had to defend some short fields(2), but they didnt look up to championship caliber at any time. Oakland scored on 7 of 13 possessions. The 10 play 61-yard drive to open the second half continued the lost momentum of the end of the first half and furthered the uphill nature of the game. Then in the fourth quarter, with Oaklands lead cut to 5 and needing a big stop with 7 minutes left, they instead gave up an 8-play 74-yard touchdown drive that effectively put the game away. This team is going to go as far as the defense will take it. Fortunately, their remaining schedule does them some favors. Up next is an offensively anemic Kansas City team that has scored one touchdown in their last 4 games. The defense shouldnt allow this to change even if KC decides to let a QB with a neck-beard lead the charge. Then they go to play Denver, led by Football Bieber and his college offense. Enough said. After which is Seattle at home. Can you name anyone on that team? The defense needs to win these next 3 no matter who the QB is.

As far as Hanie, I think he showed the inexperience that goes along with having attempted 14 regular season passes at the NFL level. Practice doesnt move as fast as an NFL defense on game day. Besides the ill-fated Martz brain-fart, his 2 other picks were awful throws: A ball that should have been thrown out of bounds and an over-throw trying to do too much on a 3rd and 13. He looked much better in a turnover free second half. The old adage is that you show the most improvement from your first to second game. Lets hope so. I personally think the kid will step up. I especially like the fact that he takes advantage of Johnny Knoxs speed by actually throwing to him. Knox is never going to be a guy who fights for the ball in tight spaces and he can make his QB look bad and has, A LOT, but his speed is the real-deal and is a legitimate threat on an offense that needs to exploit any advantage it has.

As one who is suffering due to the NBA lockout, at the bar and on TV, Im glad the NBA is coming back. In fact, much like the NFL benefited from the frenzy following their labor woes, the NBA might find this whole mess works to their advantage. My reasoning here is that less is more. The NBA season is waaaaaay too long. Now, we can avoid the dog-days and needless visits by Sacramento and Minnesota! (I like pounding crap teams as much as the next guy, but there are still plenty to go around: Ladies and gentleman, your 2011-12 Detroit Pistons!) It might also keep Carlos Boozer healthy which would be a huge boost. (Hide the gym bags!) The main question for the Bulls, as always, will be the 2-guard dilemma. I hate to say it but, they might be better off with the status quo as opposed to bringing in someone elses problem. Food for thought: After the leagues last labor stoppage, teams suffered(or should I say fans?) through the worst shooting percentages in 30 years and the Knicks (!) reached the Finals. Give me defense and D-Rose! More food: (And why not more?) The Mavs won last year because they had more guys that could create shots and shoot. You can only prevent so much and the Bulls inability to score was beaten over fans heads like the many bricks they shot at the rim. The Bulls need a perimeter compliment to Rose and the name everyone is talking about is Jason Richardson. He would be the 66 shooting guard weve been talking about here since you-know-who won 6 and was asked not to return. The question is going to have to be answered eventually. Is Richardson the answer? If they do sign him, he better be since they wont be able to afford anything else.

Not a day passes without me being asked about the new Cubs regime, or them having a press conference! But I, like everyone else, am fascinated with what approach they will take and what their signature move of this off-season will be. The signing of David DeJesus brings in a competent, professional hitter. Only a cynic like me would point out that last year he had the lowest OBS and struck out the most times in his career. Moneyball? What Moneyball? More pressing are the fates of Big Z (He HAS to go!) and Matt Garza. Garza was a very expensive, if you like young prospects, addition last year, but he is a very talented (near the) top-of-the-rotation starter. His departure would signal the team is hell-bent on developing their own talent and its going to take a few years for the master-plan to bear fruit. It might be a little tough to sell that to folks that have to pay for season tickets this year, but this group will be measured for what they achieve in the future, not this year. They have a honeymoon period where they cant do wrong, so they better take advantage of it to get their house in order, because we all know honeymoons dont last!! Remember the Summer of Jay? (You thought I was talking about something else?)

So Im pouring drinks at a furious pace during a busy convention week and I happen to glance up at one of the TVs in the bar to see if I can get a score from one of the various Big TenACC Challenge games on a cable network and I saw a commercial that made me stop in my tracks.(Cable TV has the best commercials ever!) And once again Ive been beaten to the punch! Ive always envisioned myself coming up with the next big thing, you know, like a Gates, Jobs or Zuckerberg, but maybe not to the same intellectual level. Being a bartender, I know that you dont have to be that bright to come up with an idea that will make you a ton of cash. I would go through the history, but Im too embarrassed. Embarrassed that I didnt think of it! A pet rock? A chia pet? Zubaz? Cmon!!

Well, just when we thought we saw it all with the snuggie, we now have reached a new low with the Forever Lazy. What is that, you may ask? After being made totally uncomfortable (irony?) by the commercial, I, of course, had to check out the website! Upon entering, I was asked the question: Have you ever wondered why no one makes a good pair of onesie pajamas for adults? Well, since Im an adult, no, I have NEVER wondered that! These guys are brilliant! Since THEY wondered, theyve come up with the one-piece lie around, lounge around, full body lazy wear that covers from head to toe. Well, not exactly, since you have to buy matching footies that theyll give you for free, plus 7.95 P&H. Honestly? And theyve really thought this out, since the Forever Lazy includes zippered hatches, front and back, for great escapes! What?! But really, who has time for that? If Im in full lazy mode, Im not moving for nothing, and I mean nothing! That got me thinking, what these things need is a friend, thats right, a pal: A Stadium Pal! How can you buy one without the other? If youre going to do it, go the distance! Now, if youll excuse me, I have to go. Go call my friends at Forever Lazy. Can you say the holiday gift-pack every fan wants to see under his tree? Bartender approved!!

Bears OL Nate Chandler has retired

Bears OL Nate Chandler has retired

Less than two months after Nate Chandler signed with the Bears, the team announced on Saturday that the offensive lineman has retired.

Chandler, 27, signed with the Bears on June 2. He is the second offensive linemen the Bears have signed this offseason that has retired. Manny Ramirez retired in June after signing in March.

Chandler was expected to push Charles Leno for playing time at left tackle. 

Amini Silatolu was signed by the Bears earlier this week to add more depth to the offensive line, but was thought to be more of a replacement for Ramirez at guard.

Chandler played collegiately at UCLA. He went undrafted, but signed with the Carolina Panthers and played in 37 games, with 19 starts, from 2012-2014. Due to a knee injury he was placed on injured reserve in 2015 and did not play.

34 Days to Kickoff: Bremen

34 Days to Kickoff: Bremen

CSNChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting Aug. 1, we’ll unveil the @CSNPreps Top 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 26. You can view Edgy Tim's other football previews here.

School: Bremen

Head coach: Dan Stell

Assistant Coaches: Pete Luby, Matt Verble, Amir Ross, Derek Hitt, Rey Lang, Kevin Donegan, Mike Cline, Kevin O'Sullivan, Joe DeLarme, Andy French, Brad Johnson, Jeremy Cline

How they fared in 2015: 1-8 (0-6) South Suburban Blue Conference. Bremen failed to qualify for the 2015 IHSA state football playoffs.

Biggest storyline in 2016: Can the Braves get back to it's winning ways in the always rugged South Suburban Blue?

Names to watch this season: OL Chris Clark, DL Shane London

Biggest holes to fill: The Braves welcome back 18 starters for this season, yet overall depth is always needed in the South Suburban Blue.

EDGY's Early Take: It's been a rough few years for the Braves and head coach Dan Stell (2-7 in 2014 and 1-8 last season) after winning the conference title in 2013. The good news is that Bremen welcomes back a ton of experience including a very good junior class this fall. I expect Bremen to compete hard for a state playoff spot this season.

After wild seventh, Carson Fulmer wants another big-time opportunity for White Sox

After wild seventh, Carson Fulmer wants another big-time opportunity for White Sox

The White Sox called up Carson Fulmer from Double-A Birmingham a week ago with the expectation he could add a strong, powerful arm to the back end of a bullpen that’s been taxed quite a bit this season. 

After he struggled in his first high-leverage appearance in the majors, though, the White Sox remain confident their 2015 first-round pick will be an important part of the team’s bullpen down the stretch this summer. 

Fulmer only threw 12 of 30 pitches for strikes and allowed three game-deciding runs in seventh inning of the White Sox 7-5 loss to the Detroit Tigers in front of 22,611 at U.S. Cellular Field Friday night. The leverage indexes of Fulmer’s first two appearances on the West Coast — which spanned 2 2/3 scoreless innings — were .01 and .05 (a leverage index of 1 is average), with those coming in a 8-1 loss and a 6-1 win. On Friday, Fulmer’s leverage index was 2.98. 

Fulmer said nerves weren’t behind his erratic outing, in which plenty of those 18 balls weren’t close to the strike zone. 

“I want to be in those situations,” the 22-year-old Fulmer said. “When you go out there and don’t do your job, it’s obviously frustrating. But you have to have a quick memory and throw it over your shoulder and prepare yourself for tomorrow.”

Fulmer’s electric mid-90’s fastball and wipeout curveball were rendered ineffective by his inability to command them in his two-thirds of an inning. He walked Justin Upton, gave up a single to Tyler Collins and walked Jarrod Saltalamacchia to load the bases with nobody out, and after a pair of groundouts brought a run in, he walked Cameron Maybin to re-load the bases.

 [SHOP: Get your White Sox gear right here]

After that walk, Fulmer was pulled in favor of Nate Jones, who surrendered a go-ahead, ultimately game-winning two-run single to Tigers All-Star first baseman Miguel Cabrera. 

At some point, the White Sox were going to have to test Fulmer. With starter Jacob Turner only lasting 3 1/3 innings, and Fulmer looking comfortable in his first two appearances in the majors, manager Robin Ventura calculated that the seventh inning Friday was a prime opportunity. 

“He’s going to have to have it sooner or later,” Ventura said. “From the way the first (two) went, we felt comfortable he was going to come in there and be able to do that. But tonight, that doesn’t happen. But you have the confidence he can come back from this and be very effective in that spot.”

Morneau, who’s provided offense for bullpens over 14 major league seasons, agreed with his manager’s confidence in Fulmer. 

“We see a lot of good things in him,” Morneau said. “It’s obviously not up to me, but hopefully we get him back out there quick and let him settle back down and get comfortable, because he can really help this team.” 

White Sox relievers entered Friday with the fifth-highest leverage index in baseball, a product of the high volume of one-, two- and three-run games this team has found itself in this season. All those stressful innings — as well as Jake Petricka’s season-ending injury and Zach Putnam’s elbow issue from which he isn’t likely to return anytime soon — have put a considerable strain on Jones, Dan Jennings, Matt Albers, Zach Duke and David Robertson.

Fulmer, by virtue of being in the White Sox bullpen, will get another opportunity at a high-leverage inning. And while his first foray into a pressure-packed relief appearance didn’t go well, he hopes to quickly get a chance to put Friday in the rearview mirror. 

“I can’t ever use the excuse of it being my first big-time experience, especially for me being put in that situation,” Fulmer said. “Hopefully I get the opportunity to do it again. I’ll continue to stay prepared, just like I was tonight, and hopefully the odds turn in my favor. That’s all I can control.”