Frankie O's blog: What's under your tree?

Frankie O's blog: What's under your tree?

By Frankie O
CSNChicago.com

As you get older the holiday season takes on new meaning. For me it signifies the end of the ten month torture-fest known as my fantasy sports affliction. I cant explain the fog that takes over your brain when you have to know every three-back rotation in the NFL as well as every NL bullpen. Its a wonder that I can do anything else. I love the reactions I get in the bar talking about it. Guys are especially skeptical about the roto baseball.

Why would you do that? Dude, youre drinking a Grasshopper, why would you do that?!

But I do understand talking about fantasy sports can make peoples eyes glaze over. Fantasy conversations in the bar should be in general terms, getting specific about your team just kills the buzz. Especially, if youre that guy who owns every player of relevance. Of course thats easy to do if you have a void in your life that makes you enter 7 leagues. The story you want to tell loses all meaning when you begin with the phrase, In my other league Dont be that guy!

Ironic though, in the two month break I get from the obsession with endless statistics, that Im right in the middle of the most wonderful time of the year and all that it brings with it.

Lately, the true meaning of the holiday season is increased stress. At my advanced age - and those of you who know me know how far that it advanced this week! life is about simplification. Unfortunately, that goal is increasingly elusive. So during this season of giving, I do. I give the wife the credit cards and close my eyes. There. That was easy. This is supposed to be a time of fun, right? And since no good deed goes unpunished, Ill have the depressing winter blahs, along with everyone else, when the bills come in next month. Cest la vie. (Did I just go French? Boo-Ya!)

What I think the holidays can do though, hopefully, is bring back that feeling of when we were younger and anything was possible. Kind of like Opening Day, except its colder and you get presents.

It also should be a time to be thankful for what we have. That of course is ironic, since all we are bombarded with by the advertising world is about everything that we DONT have and should, because we deserve it!

Ive gotten to a place where the holidays bring about memories from those of the past and hopefully Im creating the same kind for my kids. None of mine really center on what I got. I always remember as a kid getting a bunch of things, but I couldnt tell you most of what I got or when I got it. (Obviously, most were sports related.) Some of it has to do with being born on Christmas week. So I was getting presents for that, and some that were combined! (I swear Im not bitter! But while Im getting combined gifts, my sister is having picnics and parades on her birthday since she was born on the 4th of July. Honestly!)

Not a year goes by though that I dont remember Christmas of 1971.This was the time when my infatuation in pro football was starting to bloom. It was all we talked about as kids at school or afterward, when we would play at the park until it was time to go home.

After awaking way too early and tearing the paper off all of our presents, we played for a while, then, it was time to visit both sets of grandparents. I remember that for most of the day, the TV was off as we were visiting. After being at my grandparents on my fathers side for a couple of hours, the television was turned on, after we ate, for the Dolphins-Chiefs playoff game. I dont know that I fully understood what I was watching (Or that I would today for that matter!) but I realized that the game meant a lot and was very exciting. The energy came right through the TV. That was assured by the big game AFC voices of their time, Curt Gowdy and Al DeRogatis. The score kept going back and forth with twists and turns. Big defensive plays, field goals, missed field goals, touchdowns and interceptions, until after 82 minutes and 40 seconds, Garo Yepremian kicked the game-winner from 37 yards out. It was (is) the longest game ever played in NFL history. Double-overtime! Twelve Hall of Famers played in the game, six on each side. Both of the head coaches are also inducted in Canton. But the player I will never forget was the Chiefs Ed Podolak. He was all over the field. Smallish for a running back, he had a funky facemask under which his large nose seemed as though it was going to protrude right through it. By the end of the game that nose was covered in sweat and dirt and blood. He had 350 total yards in one of the guttiest performances I have ever watched. Too bad it was in a losing effort. I was rooting so hard for the Chiefs to win. (Setting up a long string of games in which the football team Im rooting for met a bitter demise. Be nice or Ill root for your team!) There is much debate about the greatest games in NFL history, but you can guess which one gets my vote. That was when the NFL started for me.

While watching the game in the living room, I heard the side door in the kitchen open. My grandfather was still in uniform as he came through the door arriving home from his shift as a local police officer. Soon afterward I had to get out (Gladly!) of his recliner in front of the TV. As he loosened his tie as he sat down to relax, I hopped on his knee so that we could have our picture taken together. I sat on the floor next to him as we watched the rest of the game. I dont remember much else, but I remember Ed Podolak and sitting on my grandfathers knee for that picture like it was yesterday. That was forty years ago. It wasnt too long after that my grandfather passed away. That picture is one of the few that I have with him. There isnt a time that I hear about that game and dont think about that picture. Nor is there a time that I look at that picture and dont remember that we watched that game together.

So as I enjoy another Christmas, there are plenty of NBA games and one NFL game to watch. In my family, the Bulls and the Bears will be must-see TV. A game without Kobe kind of loses its luster for the Bulls against the Lakers so I hope he plays, but it doesnt look good. And I wont even get into the Bears situation, but how can we stop watching this far in? But in the end, it doesnt really matter. As always its about getting together and sharing time with each other. But you never know, maybe something memorable will happen that we all can share. I already know that your team doesnt always have to win to have a memory that will last a lifetime.

Fashion Statement: Kevin White shows team spirit with socks at Bears practice

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Fashion Statement: Kevin White shows team spirit with socks at Bears practice

OTA's are underway at Halas Hall and there seems to be a new battle taking place on the Bears offense - whose sock game is stronger? Wide receiver Kevin White and running back Ka'Deem Carey made fashion statements Wednesday, sporting customized socks to display their Chicago Bears pride.

White's pair of socks took a page out of the Bears' fight song, while Carey's featured the Chicago skyline.

Take a look for yourself.

Fans seem to be split over whose sock game takes the prize, but if both pairs of socks keep White and Carey at the top of their game, they should share bragging rights. 

2016 NBA Mock Draft: Mark Schanowski makes his picks

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2016 NBA Mock Draft: Mark Schanowski makes his picks

1. 76’ERS - Ben Simmons, F (LSU)

Philadelphia coach Brett Brown has a relationship with the Simmons family from his years coaching in Australia. Plus, the versatile 6-10 forward might be the only player in this draft with superstar potential, making it an easy choice for the 76’ers.

2. LAKERS – Brandon Ingram, F (Duke)

Los Angeles needs scoring punch in the frontcourt, and the 6-foot-9 Ingram has been compared to Kevin Durant by some scouts. He should fit in well with the up-tempo style preferred by new head coach Luke Walton.

3. CELTICS – Dragan Bender, F (Croatia)

Danny Ainge will be looking to use this pick in a trade for an All-Star caliber veteran (like Jimmy Butler). If not, the 7-foot Bender is the likely choice as this year’s version of Kristaps Porzingis.

4. SUNS - Jaylen Brown, SF-SG (California)

Brown has the most potential of the wing prospects available. Tremendous athleticism and ability to attack the rim. Still needs to improve his outside shooting after just one season at Cal.

5. TIMBERWOLVES - Buddy Hield, SG-SF (Oklahoma)

Tom Thibodeau gets his first chance to “buy the groceries” as head of basketball operations. Hield will provide some much-needed outside shooting to complement the talents of 2015-16 Rookie of the Year Karl-Anthony Towns.

6. PELICANS - Jamal Murray, G (Kentucky)

Murray might be the best pure shooter in this draft and the Pelicans will be in the market for a shooting guard with Eric Gordon likely leaving in free agency.

7. NUGGETS - Kris Dunn, PG (Providence)

Look for a trade at this point, maybe involving a team like the Bulls looking for a point guard. Nuggets have three picks in first round and might try to move up to draft either Hield or Murray.

8. KINGS - Demetrius Jackson, PG (Notre Dame) 

Dysfunctional Kings looking for a fresh start with Dave Joerger taking over as head coach. Rajon Rondo could leave in free agency, and Jackson could be a future star in the mold of Kyle Lowry.

9. RAPTORS - Marquesse Chriss, F (Washington)

Toronto has been looking to upgrade the power forward spot for the last two years. Chriss is one of the youngest players in the draft, with the highest ceiling among the PF’s still on the board.

10. BUCKS - Jakob Poeltl, C (Utah)

Milwaukee could use another big man to complement their collection of athletic wing players. Free agent Greg Monroe is likely available in a trade after a disappointing first season in the beer city.

11. MAGIC - Deyonta Davis, PF-C (Michigan St.)

With defensive-minded Frank Vogel installed as the new head coach, the Magic will be looking for a shot-blocking presence inside. Davis is raw after limited playing time in his only college season, but should be a plus defender right away.

12. JAZZ - Denzel Valentine, SG-SF (Michigan St.)

Utah has done a good job of building a talented, young roster and a smart, four-year collegian like Valentine should fit right in. A very skilled passer with high basketball I.Q., he should eventually become a solid NBA three-point shooter.

13. SUNS - Henry Ellenson, PF, (Marquette)

With their second pick in round one, the Suns can go for a stretch PF like Ellenson, who also can score in the post. Kentucky big man Skal Labissiere also a possibility here.

14. BULLS - Wade Baldwin, PG, (Vanderbilt)

Tremendous athlete, who measured at 6-foot-4 with shoes at the draft combine, with an amazing 6-11 wing span. Should be an NBA-ready defender right away, and the Bulls can groom him to take over at point guard in 2017-18 after Derrick Rose most likely leaves in free agency.

15. NUGGETS - Skal Labissiere, PF-C (Kentucky)

With three picks in round one, the Nuggets can afford to take a chance on the painfully thin seven footer. Labissiere has an excellent shooting touch, with should complement Denver’s other young bigs, Jusuf Nurkic and Nikola Jokic.

16. CELTICS - Timothe Luwawu, SF (France)

Again, don’t be surprised if Ainge packages this pick in a trade on draft night, but Luwawu is an intriguing prospect with excellent defensive skills. Also, a personal favorite of our Bulls’ analyst Kendall Gill.

17. GRIZZLIES - Domantas Sabonis, PF-C (Gonzaga)

The son of Hall of Famer Arvydas Sabonis has a polished low post game, and the frame to withstand physical NBA play in the paint. He gives the Grizzlies a young big to develop behind Marc Gasol, who is coming back from a broken foot.

18. PISTONS - Malachi Richardson, G, (Syracuse)

Detroit could use another reliable guard off the bench to play behind Reggie Jackson and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Richardson burst on to NBA scouts’ radar after a strong showing in the NCAA tournament.

19. NUGGETS - Taurean Prince, F, (Baylor)

It’s unlikely Denver will keep all three of its first round picks, but if they do, an athletic forward like Prince is a good value pick at this point.

20. PACERS- Tyler Ulis, PG, (Kentucky)

Larry Bird made no secret of the fact he wants his team to play at a faster tempo and score more points. Having a speedy guard like Ulis to run the second unit would fit in well with Bird’s master plan.

21. HAWKS - Cheick Diallo, PF-C (Kansas)

With Al Horford heading into free agency, the Hawks need to add some depth to the frontcourt. Diallo didn’t play much in his one season at Kansas, but showed a lot of potential at the NBA draft combine.

22. HORNETS - Malik Beasley, SG-SF (Florida St.)

Charlotte needs to fortify the wing spots with Nic Batum, Courtney Lee and Marvin Williams all free agents. Beasley is coming off a strong season in the ACC and scouts like his aggressiveness on the offensive end.

23. CELTICS - Furkan Korkmaz, SG-SF (Turkey)

Ainge completes his international trifecta by taking this sharp-shooting wing player in the mold of Orlando’s first round pick from a year ago, Mario Hezonja. Korkmaz has good athleticism and could develop into a streaky perimeter scorer.

24. 76’ERS- DeAndre Bembry, SG-SF (St. Joseph’s)

The Sixers could go in a number of directions with so many needs, so why not take a local Philly product like Bembry. He showed very well at draft combine, and has the versatility to play both wing spots off the bench.

25. CLIPPERS - Brice Johnson, F, (North Carolina)

Coming off a strong NCAA tournament, Johnson would give the Clippers a talented forward to add to their bench. Doc Rivers is still looking for more consistency on that second unit.

26. 76’ERS - Dejounte Murray, G (Washington)

Probably would have been better served to spend another year in college, but could develop as a combo guard in Philly.

27. RAPTORS - Damian Jones, C (Vanderbilt)

With Bismack Biyombo ready to cash in after a strong playoff run, the Raptors need a center to back up Jonas Valanciunas. Jones has good size and showed well against SEC competition.

28. SUNS - Caris LeVert, SG (Michigan)

Phoenix coach Earl Watson wants to play fast, and if the Suns keep this pick, LeVert is a guy worth taking a chance on. He probably would have been a lottery pick if not for injuries in his last two years at Michigan.

29. SPURS - Thon Maker, PF-C (Australia)

The international man of mystery in this year’s draft. Intriguing size at 7-foot-1, but NBA scouts aren’t sure what position he’ll play. The Spurs can let him develop overseas for a couple years before bringing him over.

30. WARRIORS - Ante Zizic, C (Croatia)

Another draft and stash candidate for the loaded Warriors. Golden State could use another center if Festus Ezeli is allowed to leave in free agency.

92 Days to Kickoff: Sandburg

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92 Days to Kickoff: Sandburg

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.

School: Sandburg Eagles

Head coach: Scott Peters

Assistant coaches: Marty Balle (LB), Kevin Clark (DL), Larry Sheppard (DB/Co-defensive coordinator), Matt Barrett (assistant DL), Bill Mulchrone (assistant LB), Kevin Fahey (OC), Jim Zimmer (OL), Tom Lally (QB), Shane Meyer (WR), Jon Bergin (RB), Mark Lenkiewicz (assistant OL), Darren Monnet (K)

How they fared in 2015: 6-4 (5-2) Southwest Suburban Blue. The Eagles made the Class 8A playoff field, but lost to Palatine in the opening round.

Biggest storyline in 2016: Can the Eagles reload with a new head coach?

Names to watch this season: LB Pat Brucki, DE Mike Murphy, DT Malik Skates

Biggest holes to fill: The Eagles need to replace 11 graduated starters on offense this season. 

EDGY's early take: Peters takes over a Sandburg program that has been winning games but hasn't made a deep state playoff run since the early 2000s. The Eagles bring back just three starters and will need to get up to speed in a hurry this fall, but this school always has talent in the building.