SUPER SIZE ME!!

SUPER SIZE ME!!

By Frankie O
CSNChicago.com

Thats what were supposed to be doing this week, right? Super Bowl week means everything is hyped until it cant be hyped no more. Its the ultimate American reaction to the ultimate American game. As soon as Lawrence Tynes 31-yarder in overtime crossed through the uprights, we were on the clock for Super Bowl XLVI. In fact, I believe, the ESPN pre-game show started at that very second. You gotta love em, for they are nothing if not consistent. Too bad Showtime took the Shameless title for its new show since the behemoth shows that quality whenever it can, and especially now, when the stage is as big as it gets. I dont know whats worse: The fact that theyre bludgeoning me with wall-to-wall coverage or the fact that Ive had it on in the background almost as much. Its oddly comforting that no matter what time of the day, no matter where I am, I can get the latest, most pertinent analysis of the Giants pass rush, Belichicks genius or Gronks high-ankle sprain. I mean, I need to know and I need to know NOW! Through my 46-inch plasma induced haze, I swear that they are so out of material that theyve been reduced to having every one of their on-air talent appear on every other one of their shows. Its like theres a circus Volkswagen full of TV-types at the ready next to their revolving sets as soon as the red light comes on. It makes me wonder what theyre going to do before the game on Sunday. I mean whats left? By this time, the amount of football knowledge imparted would make Mr. Creosote beg for mercy. Just one more tidbit of information, North America? Its wafer-thin!

I have to admit, though, there were two weeks when I couldnt get enough, a mere seven years ago. For just the second time in my lifetime, I had reason to care about a Super Bowl. (Notice that I didnt say rooting interest in, since we all know that is different, and almost every one of us have a rooting interest in the Super Bowl, for some of us, as long as we can remember!) Since ESPN was in its infancy during the Eagles first SB in 1980, we were all spared the wall-to-wall stuff before the game even though the game was no less hyped where I lived. That was two weeks of bliss. It went by so fast, almost as fast as Ron Jaworski threw the game away. Stop throwing to Rod Martin! Hes on the other team!

By 2004, the ESPN machine was gaining incredible traction, and the They need more! credo was on full display. Not only that, the brand new Comcast SportsNet Chicago broadcast Daily News Live from its sister station in Philadelphia the week preceding the game. Now thats what I call a displaced Philly fans best friend! And if you can believe it, a red-bow-tie wearing bartender made his debut on Chicago Tribune Live the Friday before the big game on CSN Chicago, regaling Dan Jiggetts and 85 Bear Otis Wilson with his reasons for an impending Birds victory. (That was what is known as writers embellishment. The truth is, I was so caffeinated and nervous, I opened my mouth and the words came flying out in staccato bursts, as far from regaling as you could get. I did get my affinity for the team from Philadelphia across though. I think.) This was going to be the greatest football game of my life. The suffering was going to be over. And like those first minutes after you buy what you are sure is the winning lottery ticket, for two weeks I was able to dream a little dream. Hype was my friend!

Well, we all know how that turned out. And, as we all know as well, dreams die hard. Very hard. Im not saying that Im bitter. Other people will say it for me! I dont ask for very much. Just one! Thats all. I remember when the Rangers ended their 54-year schneid in quest of Lord Stanley in 1994. There was a guy in the stands after the game who held up a placard that said, Now I can die in peace! At the time, watching on TV, I was amused. Now, I can relate. The Eagles have never won a Super Bowl. EVER. The last NFL title was before I was born. Yes its been that long!

So what Im reduced to, again, is being a spectator. Youd think Id be used to it by now. What are you going to do? I was born on the wrong side of the state for sports. But what really gets me now are the teams that are playing. Everyone wants to know who I like in the game. I cant even fathom picking one or the other. For a guy from Philly it doesnt get any worse than this. Root for New York? What? As any NFC East fan knows, thats not going to happen. Its bad enough the other three teams in the division have 11 Super Bowl wins to the Eagles goose egg, I dont know if I can take a dirty dozen. I need the Eli face!

But wait. That would mean being on the side of the team from Boston. Yeah, Boston. You know the town where the teams win so much (7 major titles in the last ten years. Ugh.) that the fans really believe that its their right. They make New York obnoxiousness seem quaint by comparison. Do we really want to go there? I dont!

So I will seek solace the way only I can, for I know, theres one good thing thats going to happen on Sunday. Somebody is going to lose. It has to happen. If I havent learned anything, at least I learned that, and I did it the hard way. And speaking from that experience, the closer you get, the worse it hurts.

So, Ill be at the bar, and a good time will be had by almost all. Well cheer for our wagers (not for cash, of course, just for yucks) and wonder in amazement about the amount of money spent for commercials that are not funny! Then, on Monday, Ill go online to newspaper sites in one of two cities and read about despair and the heartache of hopes and dreams dashed at the altar. It wont erase the futility of being a fan of a team that hasnt fulfilled its promise, but as I read some of those all too familiar stories, Ill know that at least for a day, for me and the fans of the unfortunate city, well have something in common. I guess misery does love company!

Have a very safe and merry Super Sunday!!

Blackhawks have options, for the right price

Blackhawks have options, for the right price

Those tremors you felt Wednesday was the hockey world shaking things up.

They were the most exciting 30 minutes of offseason we’ve seen in some time, with the Montreal Canadiens sending P.K. Subban to Nashville for Shea Weber and Edmonton trading Taylor Hall to New Jersey for Adam Larsson. Oh, and coveted potential unrestricted free agent Steven Stamkos re-signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning, sending teams like Toronto, Detroit and Buffalo to their Plan Bs.

For the Blackhawks, they weren’t players for any of the top-tier guys. But with the free-agent “frenzy” about to begin on Friday, the Blackhawks, who have a little shopping to do, can’t get caught in the ripple effect.

Most of the top UFAs are already off the board, from Stamkos to Keith Yandle to Alex Goligoski. Prices could go up on those remaining, and that could include some guys the Blackhawks were targeting.

As general manager Stan Bowman said last Saturday following the NHL Draft, the Blackhawks no longer have a salary-cap problem. Generalfanager.com shows the Blackhawks have a little more than $5 million in cap space. That’s after the Blackhawks made two cap friendly re-signings with forward Brandon Mashinter and defenseman Michal Rozsival. According to Pierre LeBrun, Mashinter and Rozsival will earn $575,00 and $600,000, respectively, this season.

So the Blackhawks enter the weekend with some spending cash, and they may be spending some of it immediately on a familiar guy. Andy Strickland reported on Thursday that Brian Campbell, who was part of the 2010 Stanley Cup team, could return on a one-year deal. Nothing would be official until Friday, when free agency begins.

If Campbell does return it probably won’t be for much cash. But Campbell knows the Blackhawks are still built to win and he won’t be hurting for money. It could be another sensible move like Brad Richards from the summer of 2014. Richards, just bought out by the New York Rangers after the team’s trip to the Stanley Cup final, just wanted to get back to the final. He signed a one-year deal worth $2 million here. While Richards was up and down in the regular season he was great in the playoffs, capping the Blackhawks’ Cup run with that beautiful pass to Patrick Kane in Game 6. The Blackhawks aren’t what they were in 2014 but they’re not in bad shape, either. A good, affordable tweak or two could have them thinking about another lengthy postseason run.

Keep something else in mind: just about every July the Blackhawks pick up someone we didn’t anticipate. Richards was a good example of that, too.

The Blackhawks have a little cash to spend but they also have future considerations; please see Artemi Panarin, who the Blackhawks can start negotiating with on Friday. It’s not just about what they spend this season, it’s about what they save for that potential deal that would start next season.

The options are out there to improve this team but the Blackhawks have to be prudent. They can’t afford not to be.

White Sox outlast Twins to move back above .500 mark

White Sox outlast Twins to move back above .500 mark

It hasn’t been easy for the White Sox over the last seven weeks so why should Thursday afternoon be any different?

A day after they nearly squandered an eight-run advantage in the ninth, the White Sox beat the Minnesota Twins 6-5 in front of 26,158 at U.S. Cellular Field despite giving away two more leads. J.B. Shuck’s two-out RBI single in the eighth inning paved the way for the team to earn it’s third straight series victory. David Robertson converted his 21st save in 23 tries for the White Sox, who moved back above .500 for the first time since June 10.

Shuck already had two hits in three at-bats when he was gifted an eighth-inning plate appearance courtesy of a pair of two-out walks by Fernando Abad. Abad walked Avisail Garcia and Jason Coats to bring up Shuck, who singled to left to produce the winning run. Shuck tied a career-high with three hits.

Carlos Rodon twice struggled with the lead, surrendering it once.

Ahead 2-0 in the fourth, Rodon gave up back-to-back homers to Robbie Grossman and Brian Dozier with two outs. Before that, Rodon retired the first 11 batters he faced, including five strikeouts.

The White Sox regained a three-run advantage in the fourth inning and Rodon responded with a perfect fifth. But he struggled in the sixth and allowed Minnesota to creep back within a run. Rodon gave up a double and a RBI single before he walked Grossman with one out and Dozier followed with an RBI single. Matt Albers stranded a pair to keep the White Sox ahead 5-4.

Rodon exited after allowing four earned runs and five hits in 5 2/3 innings. He walked one and struck out six.

The White Sox offense figured out how to attack Tommy Milone and forced him out of the game in the fourth inning.

Todd Frazier got things rolling with a solo homer in the second inning — the 14th consecutive solo homer hit by the White Sox — to make it a 1-0 game. The team is one shy of tying a franchise record with 15 straight solo home runs, which was set from Sept. 2-25, 1965.

Jose Abreu singled in a run in the third to put the White Sox up two.

The White Sox regained the lead for Rodon in the fourth after Minnesota tied it in the top half. Avisail Garcia singled in Brett Lawrie, who started the inning with a double.

Garcia stole second base and he scored on an RBI single by Matt Davidson. It was the first big league RBI for Davidson since Sept. 27, 2013 with Arizona. Davidson later left the game with a fracture in his right foot.

After Shuck doubled and Tim Anderson walked to load the bases — his first career free pass in 86 plate appearances — Milone hit Adam Eaton to force in a run and make it 5-2. But Neil Ramirez took over and got Abreu to bounce into an inning-ending double play.

With Anderson, who reached base four times, on second and one out in the seventh, Abreu struck out and Frazier flew out. 

World Series Champs: White Sox draftees help Coastal Carolina win first college title

World Series Champs: White Sox draftees help Coastal Carolina win first college title

OMAHA, Neb.— Coastal Carolina capitalized on two errors on the same play for four unearned runs in the sixth inning, and the Chanticleers won their first national championship in any sport with a 4-3 victory over Arizona in Game 3 of the College World Series finals on Thursday.

Coastal Carolina (55-18) became the first team since Minnesota in 1956 to win the title in its first CWS appearance. Arizona (49-24) was trying for its second national title since 2012.

Andrew Beckwith (15-1), the national leader in wins, went 5 2/3 innings after pitching two complete games and picked up his third victory of the CWS. He was named the Most Outstanding Player. Alex Cunningham earned his first save, striking out Ryan Haug with a full-count fastball to end the game after Arizona had pulled within a run in the bottom of the ninth.

Arizona's Bobby Dalbec (11-6) also worked 5 2/3 innings, with all the runs coming against him. He struck out eight to increase his CWS total to 25 in 20 innings.

The championship was also the first in a team sport in the 33-year history of the Big South Conference. But the Big South only has about eight hours to savor the accomplishment -- the Chanticleers become members of the Sun Belt Conference on Friday.

Arizona, which came into the day with just two errors in seven CWS games, saw second baseman Cody Ramer commit two on the same play to open the door to a four-run sixth inning for Coastal Carolina. Ramer couldn't get a handle on Zach Remillard's grounder, allowing David Parrett to score from third. Then Ramer tried to get Michael Paez running from second to third, but he overthrew infielder Kyle Lewis, which allowed Paez to come home.

Next, G.K. Young launched a no-doubt homer into the seats above the right-field bullpen for a 4-0 lead. All four runs were unearned, and Dalbec was relieved by Cameron Ming after facing one more batter. Before the sixth inning, Ramer hadn't committed an error in 17 games.

The Wildcats cut the lead in half with two unearned runs in the bottom half against a tiring Beckwith. An error on first baseman Kevin Woodall Jr. and a walk loaded the bases before Jared Oliva's two-RBI single knocked out Beckwith. Bobby Holmes relieved and struck out No. 9 batter Louis Boyd to end the inning.

Coastal Carolina caught a break in the third inning after Ramer sent a liner into right field that got under Connor Owings' glove and rolled to the wall. Ramer made it to third on the two-base error. Zach Gibbons then hit a comebacker to Beckwith, who went home as Ramer tried to score. After catching Beckwith's wide throw, catcher Parrett reached back to put the tag on Ramer, who was called out on an extremely close play.

Arizona's first two batters in the bottom of the ninth reached base against Cunningham, and Gibbons' sacrifice fly made it a one-run game with two outs. Ryan Aguilar then doubled into the left-field corner, but Ramer was held at third to bring up Haug.

After Cunningham struck out Haug, he turned to his dugout, beat his chest with his fist three times and saluted before flipping his glove away to start celebrating with his teammates.