(Frankie) O-Bombs!

(Frankie) O-Bombs!

Wednesday, September 30th

At the bar, when somebody orders an O-Bomb, I add Red Bull with Bacardi O, chill it and serve it as a shot. Here, when you add a highly caffeinated beverage (those who know me know EXACTLY what it is!) to a sleep deprived bartender and put him in front of a computer keyboard, you get: Frankie O-Bombs! (Also served as a shot!)

BEARS FEVER!!!

As if there was a doubt, we are once again reminded that this is a Bears town. The bar is alive with talk of the Da Bears and what the future holds for this team. I say, hold on and enjoy the ride. This team has already shown that it has more heart than its immediate predecessor. Any discussions that Ive had about the Bears in leading up to this season, had to be started with how AWFUL they were to end last year. So far, this team has shown resiliency, and heart, to come back from 4th quarter deficits to take the lead in all 3 games. If not for the blown coverage in the closing moments of the opener, this team would be 3-0. Very exciting! This team needed to get off to a good start to have any shot. They need to pummel Detroit back to their senses, rest up during the bye, then get ready to run the gauntlet. All of a sudden, the gimmes against San Fran and Cincy look a lot tougher. This leaves only the Browns and the Lions in the season finale as easy wins. The other 10 are going to define these Bears. A split would mean 10-6. Wait! Now Im getting ahead of myself. I think Ill just enjoy the mauling of the Lions and say that this team is better than I anticipated and leave it at that. Two things: Whatever theyre doing to get opposing kickers to miss makeable kicks: Keep it up! And, something has to be done to figure out the running game, which averaging under 3 yards a carry = not going to get it done.
SPEAKING OF FEVER

What was up with the neon green uniforms for Seattle? Does too much caffeine not let you see your team unless they wear reflector gear? Was it 60s Acid Flashback Day at Quest Field? Is there an unexpected opening in the Seahawks' marketing department?

THIS SEASON IS OVAH! YESSSSS!!

I dont know about you, but the Chicago portion of the MLB season cant end soon enough. Ive often said that Id rather have my team not make the playoffs, than to have to endure a postseason loss. I think Ive changed my mind. Last year ended much too abruptly on both sides of town, but the thing was, you had the feeling that both could do much better, and do it as soon as this year. The unhappy ending was just a speed bump on the way to ultimate victory. So much for that. Im not getting the vibe at the bar that fans feel very optimistic towards next year either. This has really been a bummer of a season in a town that knows those types of summers all too well. Both sides of town are going to have a lot of offseason work to do to re-energize the faithful.

BE LIKE MIKE?

Going out with a blaze of glory? It was more like a blaze of shrapnel! Who didnt get hit? We all know that MJ believes in tough love, but this was ridiculous. Ive gotten a ton of comments about his speech and Im still waiting for the first favorable one. Of course, the comments were mostly from out-of-towners, who, unlike Chicagoans, didnt realize how the Greatest Basketball Player Ever was wired. Those of us here knew that Jordan never took kindly to, or FORGOT, a slight. I tried to defend him with the he was always driven by inner demons defense, but to no avail. I think Mr. Teflon has taken a huge PR hit. Doesnt change what he did on the court, and thats what people will remember. In fact, in this 24 hour news-cycle memory society we live in, Im sure most have forgotten it already. Except that is, for the people whom the speech meant the most: The people who KNOW him. Then again, it probably wasnt a surprise for them. Still its a far cry from all of the reaction that I got in the bar after Ryne Sandbergs HOF speech. His speech uplifted everyone, not just one person.
STILL DONT GET IT

The good thing for golf: Even on a football Sunday, with the Bears playing at the same time, we had several TVs tuned into the golf tournament. (Which is more than I can say for the Cubs and Sox combined, they both achieved NASCAR status!) The bad thing: No Drama! Theres no fun when Tiger just has to stay close. Nor is there additional pressure on Mickleson (always when the fun starts!) when he knows that Tiger is content to lay back and collect the REALLY big check. If golf truly wants to get noticed (Where was the story in your Monday paper?) they need to listen to Frankie O and give the money to the WINNER of the FINAL tournament! And, again, they need to put the 10 Mill-dough beside the 18th green, where everyone can see it! You want attention? Ill get you attention!

NITTANY LYIN

Although I put my time in at Penn State, (see where higher education can get you?) and have rooted for the football team my entire life, even I knew that they were NOT the 5th best team in the country. In fact, all week at the bar, I told anyone who would listen, that no way should they be giving 9 points to any Big Ten team, let alone a team they cant beat. The only thing missing was a Tim Dwight punt return for 6. Ugh! I think its about impossible to perform at a high level when you return only 1 offensive lineman and also lose 3 of the top 4 receivers in school history. Its going to be a long year. For those of you who benefitted from my counsel, you know where to find me!
WAR HORSE

As much as the offseason Favre saga made me want to gag, his playing with the Vikes is must-watch. The play he made at the end of the game to Greg Lewis (another grizzled vet, how did he keep his feet in?) is a play we will watch forever. Everyone was talking about it at the bar, and thats what Favre does, for as much as he can take you out of a game, he can win one in an instant. Cant wait to watch his 1st game against the Pack, somebodys got to lose, right?

MARQUIS DE BAD

Anyone else notice Jayson Marquis struggles down the stretch for the Rockies? His 6.28 ERA in the last month are hidden in his overall good numbers. Think hell make this playoff roster. Surprisingly, his brother in (lack of late season big game) arms, Javier Vazquez, has actually been pretty dominant down the stretch. Dont worry Javy, your safe. There wont be any playoffs in your near future to gag in, your team will just miss.

K.O.D.

Well, I dont know why theyre going to bother to play the season: Barry Melrose has picked the Blackhawks to play the Flyers in the Stanley Cup Finals. If thats not the kiss of death, I dont know what is. He took out both of my teams in one breath.

CHILD PLEASE

Dont know about you but I get a kick out of Chad Ochocinco. His time on-camera was the best part of Hard Knocks. His latest stunt is why you have to love the guy. He found four people on Twitter who would go to Green Bay and sit in BENGALS uniforms, in the front row of the end-zone (in tickets that 85 bought) so that he could score a touchdown and do the Lambeau-Leap into them. Then it actually happened! Are you kidding me? The No Fun League needs more of this guy! Anything that messes with Packer fans, Im all for!

Kyle Schwarber catching again is a good step for a banged-up Cubs team

Kyle Schwarber catching again is a good step for a banged-up Cubs team

MESA, Ariz. – The Cubs are so strong up the middle that Javier Baez can star for Team Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic and return to camp as a super-utility guy/late-game defensive replacement. 

But that projection in late March is based on across-the-board health, which never happens in a 162-game season. World Series MVP Ben Zobrist (stiff neck) hasn't played in a Cactus League game in almost a week. All-Star shortstop Addison Russell (stiff back) became a late scratch to Friday's lineup at Sloan Park.

After trying to make a diving catch in center field, Albert Almora Jr. exited in the third inning of a 4-2 loss to the Cleveland Indians with what the Cubs called "left neck tightness," though he still plans to play in Las Vegas this weekend.  

On the other side of the spring-training complex in Mesa – away from the crowd of 15,473 in a minor-league game against a Colorado Rockies squad – the Cubs did get a positive piece of news on the health front: Kyle Schwarber went four innings behind the plate, going Tony Pena style and trying to reduce the stress on his body.

"I love catching," Schwarber said. "Whenever I played baseball, I was always a catcher. For me to be able to do that today – and feel pretty good about myself walking away from the day – it was a good step."

This is clearly important to Schwarber, an intensely driven personality who doesn't want to hear "no." Otherwise, the Cubs probably would have shut this down already, not wanting to risk it with a franchise player, someone who might blast 35 homers at the top of their lineup.

[Buy Cubs tickets right here]

But the medical staff cleared Schwarber when pitchers and catchers reported to Arizona – 10 months after he underwent surgery on his left knee to reconstruct his ACL and repair his LCL – and it could become a valuable skill again. 

"The most difficult part I would probably say was setup-wise," Schwarber said, "trying to find that timing of your moves and everything like that. Sometimes I felt like I was a little late getting my setup. But that all came. It's been a year since I got behind there, so overall everything went really well."

The Cubs already have one of the best young catchers in the game (Willson Contreras) and a two-time All-Star making $14 million this season backing him up (Miguel Montero). Schwarber doesn't want to put a number on how many starts he might make behind the plate, though the Cubs have framed it as in case of emergency, an extra late-inning option for manager Joe Maddon or maybe something that makes sense with a particular matchup. 

"As of right now, it's still the third-catcher role," Schwarber said. "I'm down for whatever, but I know the majority of the time is going to be out there in left."

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Mark Sanchez officially signs with Bears

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Mark Sanchez officially signs with Bears

On the latest edition of the SportsTalk Live Podcast, Chris Emma, Seth Gruen and Danny Ecker join David Kaplan to discuss the Mark Sanchez signing. Does this mean the Bears won't draft a quarterback in the 2017 NFL Draft? 

Later, the White Sox named Jose Quintana their Opening Day starter, but lose Carlos Rodon and Todd Frazier to injuries. 

Finally, Robin Lopez is back after serving a one-game suspension. The panel looks at the Bulls matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers. 

Listen to the SportsTalk Live Podcast below.