Take a vacation from your problem, baby steps and death therapy

Take a vacation from your problem, baby steps and death therapy

Friday, July 16, 2010
4:45 PM

By Frankie O
CSNChicago.com

Used to be that the time around the all-star break was spent talking about baseball and vacation plans. Well theres still plenty of that, but in this new world of the 12-month season for all of the professional sports, theres plenty of other topics to keep the conversations at the bar flowing. Get it? Flowing? Wheres my rim-shot?! Since your man behind the bar is leaving for a little R and R, (Relaxation with the family and the Recovery afterward!) I dont have the time to share with you EVERTHING thats on my mind here right now, but of course I cant leave without a few shots! SHOTS!

I guess if you live long enough, you see things repeat themselves over and over and during that evolution of time they might change form. The new age of self-promotion is upon us, and talk about leaving a bad taste in your mouth. (Im on a roll!) From Joe Namath, to Muhammad Ali to Reggie Jackson, these were the masters of media manipulation when I was a youngster. They never met a microphone that they didnt like. Funny thing though, they were entertaining and, oh yeah, winners! The disaster known as The Decision was about as far over the top as you could get. I watched like everyone else, but I would more consider it rubber-necking than actually watching. Besides the unveiling of LeBrons massive ego for all to see, it also demonstrated the fact that his handlers are in way over their heads. If the Three Stooges do make it to the Finals, they actually made me a Lakers fan.

Talking about the legacy of George Steinbrenner was another topic, but how could you avoid it when it was on the World Wide Leader non-stop for 4 days. I understand that he was one of the largest sports figures of our times, but.. I guess thats the point, you can argue his merits, both ways for hours. My opinion is that in the last 40 years he and Marvin Miller might be the two most important non-players in sports. (with Pete Rozelle a close third.) That being said, my lasting memory, besides the sparring with Billy Martin, will be of him yelling at George to get him his calzone on Seinfeld.

Did you know that Major League baseball had its All-Star game this week? Apparently no one else did either since it got its lowest rating EVER. Hey, Bud! Do you realize that youre the only one who thinks that playing this game for home field advantage in the World Series is a farce? And if this is a game to promote the sport, why wasnt the hottest thing to hit your sport in years, Steven Strasburg, in the game? He, right now, is one of the top 10 pitchers in the game, plus EVERYONE wants to see him. Could you imagine him pitching against A-Rod? What? A-Rod didnt play either? Have you been talking to LeBrons people? (This is the first year I can remember that I didnt watch the Home Run Derby. Nick Swisher? Honestly?)

Locally, there are two baseball conversations: Can the Sox last? And, when are they going to blow up the Cubs? Well know by the end of the month when the trading deadline comes, it will tell us all we need to know. Then again if youve been coming into the bar, you already know how I feel about both teams. (Hint: Adam Dunn and TNT!)

In the, what a difference a year makes department, do you remember Cutler-Mania? I think with everything else going on around here, the fact that no one is really paying attention to them is a good thing. Its time for them to go to work and doing it under the radar will hopefully payoff. I dont think that they are going to get a lot of respect nationally, or maybe even locally for that matter. Thats why I think they are going to have a chance at a decent season. I think the keys will be the O-line and the pass rush. (What a football genius!) Naturally well beat this topic to death in the coming months.

I finally found a way to get interested in the World Cup. I had a little rooting interest, if you know what I mean. This time I wasnt bored out of my mind. I actually watched the games for what they were supposed to be. In doing so I realized that watching any competition being played at the highest level can be mesmerizing, even if I didnt get the payoff I was hoping for.

First there were the Go-Go Sox, now we have the Bye-Bye Hawks. Its another example with the mass exodus of playerscontracts of how truly special this past season was and how this organ-I-zation performed at every level. The good thing is that the core will be here for a while. The question is whether the new pieces brought in can play to the level of their predecessors.

Well Id like to keep going, I know that youre interested in how my roto baseball team is doing and of course my opinions on one of my obsessions, The World Series of Poker, but the big fella has to get the car packed to the hilt and hide the charge cards from the boss as she makes her last minute preparations. Well have plenty of time for whatever is going on in sports, and then some, in two weeks. For now, when you think Clark Griswald, picture him making a drive to the beaches of Delaware in an out of control min-van. My one treat for myself as we drive? Im going to have the kids watch the movie I referenced in my title. There are only so many episodes of Sponge Bob that a father can listen to in one trip. Im sailing!!!

Hawkeyes going to Outback Bowl for fifth time, taking on Florida

kirk-ferentz-1204.jpg
USA TODAY

Hawkeyes going to Outback Bowl for fifth time, taking on Florida

Iowa is going back to the Outback Bowl.

Yes, for the fifth time in the last 13 seasons, the Hawkeyes will wrap their campaign with a trip to Tampa and an appearance in the Outback Bowl. And for the third time, their opponent there will be the Florida Gators. That game kicks at noon on Jan. 2.

Iowa and Florida met in the Outback Bowl to conclude the 2003 and 2005 seasons, splitting those two matchups.

This time around, the Hawkeyes are coming off an 8-4 regular season, a disappointing follow up to their 12-2 campaign a season ago that started off a perfect 12-0 before postseason losses in the Big Ten title game and the Rose Bowl.

Kirk Ferentz has led his team to a bowl appearance in 14 of his 18 seasons, though Iowa has lost the last four of those games, without a bowl win since taking down Missouri in the 2010 Insight Bowl.

Iowa is 2-2 in its four previous Outback Bowl appearances, beating Florida, losing to Florida, beating South Carolina and losing to LSU.

As for the Gators, they own an 8-4 record, as well, after falling to Alabama in Saturday’s SEC Championship Game. Florida is known for its sluggish offense, one of the lowest-scoring teams in the country.

Start spreadin' the news: Northwestern to face Pitt in Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium

pat-fitzgerald-1204.jpg
USA TODAY

Start spreadin' the news: Northwestern to face Pitt in Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium

Start spreadin' the news.

Northwestern is heading to New York for its bowl game this season, specifically the Bronx, where it will battle Pittsburgh in the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium.

Though it isn't your typically warm bowl destination, the baseball-stadium setting should be pretty fantastic. The game will be played at 1 p.m. on Dec. 28.

The Wildcats reached bowl eligibility with their sixth win in the regular-season finale against Illinois. Northwestern is heading to back-to-back bowl games after missing out on the postseason in back-to-back seasons in 2013 and 2014.

This is just the 13th-ever bowl trip for the Cats, though it's their seventh in 11 seasons under Pat Fitzgerald. Northwestern has a 1-5 record under Fitzgerald in the previous six bowl games, though that win is one of just two all-time bowl victories by the program.

This season started slowly for the Cats, who lost upsetting home games to Illinois State and Western Michigan and started 1-3. But Northwestern turned things around with back-to-back road wins over Iowa and Michigan State and finished 6-6. The Cats' offense has been particularly effective this season compared to seasons past. Wide receiver Austin Carr took home Big Ten Receiver of the Year honors and is a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award after leading the conference in receptions, receiving yards and touchdown catches. Running back Justin Jackson was the league's leading rusher until getting surpassed by just a couple yards by both Wisconsin's Corey Clement and Penn State's Saquon Barkley, who both competed in Saturday night's Big Ten Championship Game, adding to their respective rushing totals.

Pitt has had a pretty noteworthy season. Despite having four losses, it beat two teams that finished ranked in the top five of the College Football Playoff rankings: No. 2 Clemson and No. 5 Penn State. The Panthers are coached by former Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi.