Frankie O's Blog: Hey Bartender!

Frankie O's Blog: Hey Bartender!

Friday, Feb. 18, 2011
9:30 a.m.
By Frankie O
CSNChicago.com

Being your friendly barkeep requires many different talents, that most of them are hidden is a cross that I must bear. The most obvious attributes of someone who dares to serve alcohol to adults is their appearance and the ability to communicate. Since Im a little challenged in one of those areas, I find the need to over-compensate in the other. (You guess which is which!)

Anyway, being known as the sports guy means that I need to be well versed in the wide world of sports and need to stay current. This enables me to give an opinion when asked, and for some reason, Im asked a lot. Never one to want to disappoint, my Clavinesque knowledge of the days events are a constant cause for concern, at home anyway. Does the word issues ring a bell? Why do I know these things? The ability to share my take though never gets old, and as long as Im the one dispensing the libations, its never WRONG either!

The sudden retirement of Jerry Sloan really resonated with me. It told me how old I am, and maybe how out of touch with todays athletes. For guys like me, Sloan represented the old school approach: Direct, no-nonsense and in your face. What a great way to treat pampered multi-millionaires! Its amazing that he lasted so long, because we know, no players will quit on their coaches faster than NBAers. The one thing that Sloan had besides his unyielding will, was the total support of his owner, Larry Miller, until his passing that is. Short of Phil Jackson, I dont think any NBA coach had more control of his situation. With Miller gone, and the battles with players constant, it looked like he just got worn out. Regardless, I will always look back at him as one of ultimate competitors as a player and coach, in any sport.

The Albert Pujols saga? Speculation is always the most fun game we play, and figuring out where Albert will end up is at the top right now. (Sorry Carmelo Anthony, your story bores me. Wake me when its over.) He is NOT going back to St. Louis. If he is true to his demand to be paid as the games best player, and he is the best player, its not going to happen there. St. Louis believes that he will never be as good as he was during his first ten years, and mathematically, that it probably correct, but he has earned the right to be paid. Add to it that he has been grossly under-paid during the length of his current 7-year deal, and Im convinced that he has been dancing in a towel screaming Show me the money!! at his agent. Who will benefit from this high-stakes game of chicken? Dont look now, but the team that makes the most sense, on so many levels, is your Chicago Cubs. Ill let that thought marinate for a while before I devote about 10,000 words to it in your near future!

Does it get any more fun than Bill Murray winning the pro-am at Pebble Beach? Carl Spackler is an icon to any guy whos ever swung a golf club, in addition to being a big-hitter.long! Im sure there were tears in his eyes as he realized by winning, his playing partner, Cinderella-boy D.A. Points qualified to play at Augusta. Would the par-3 be ready for the two of them? I hear its being played on Briar. Theres a pool and Ikes pond, which is perfect for me! And just because I have to: Its in the hole!! How bout a Fresca?

Interesting move with the Bears Mike Tice. He was as valuable as any person in that organization. Did anyone expect the O-line to play well at all, let alone not get Jay Cutler killed? That being said, I always thought that the etiquette was to let a coach go if he could get an upgrade in responsibility. Keeping him is a smart move. Keeping him and making him happy is even smarter.

Why are people asking me about Tiger spitting? Tiger has never been one for manners on the course, unless that is someone tries to take a picture during his backswing. Glad to see he is trying to act beyond reproach as he tries to fix his image, along with his swing. For the record, I have no problem with spitting on the course, as long as there arent 100 cameras focused on you. And in that case, if you really have to, dont do it on the green. Seems simple enough.

Hey, did you see Peter Forsberg is returning to the NHL? What? He already retired again? Didnt see that coming!! LOL! Kris Versteeg to the Flyers? Nice! GM Paul Holmgren is getting it done, although Im still convinced that my heart is going to get ripped out, AGAIN, but we have plenty of time to talk about that.

Speaking of my heart getting ripped out, those who know me cant wait to mention the Phillies rotation this year. The eternal optimist in me (I heard that!) cant wait for this magical season to start. The realist, (Real Frankie O?) cant wait to see how the lack of right-handed hitting will doom them once again. Im sure the 78 games last year of scoring 3 runs or less was just an aberration. Whatever!

Something that makes me laugh? Mario Lemieuxs indignation at how the NHL handled the fallout of the Penguins-Islander brawl last week. Hey Mario, when you stopped whining, did you stop to consider the irony in your rant due to the fact that you employ one of the top cheap-shot artists in the league in Matt Cooke. Now thats funny, not funny ha-ha, but funny.

Oprah in a sports blog? What? Seems the QB for the Eagles was supposed to appear on her show and has since backed out. I personally think that Michael Vick should talk to her. I just dont think a live audience should be included. Oprah has earned the right to be an inquisitor, most of her audience probably not. In the court of public opinion, I dont think a lot of people believe he has paid enough for his crimes. He should be able to go public, in a forum that crosses over from the comfort of the sports world to do that. It should not include an entire room stacked against him that can interject their opinions without recourse. If he truly wants to walk down the road of redemption, there are more prices to be paid. I think the O would be relentless with her pressure, but would do it with a class that befits someone of her stature. Two more things: I only know how Oprah is because my wife watches her every day and I can hear it in the background. And, I still cant believe I have to become versed in everything Vick, but being an Eagles fan has long since gone beyond normalcy for yours truly.

For something more positive, I could write about the merits of Derrick Rose every day. I hope we all realize how special the metamorphosis we are watching truly is. He will not stop trying to get better. I almost like seeing him have a bad game, because you know he is going to come back with a vengeance. A lot of talk about whether the Spurs game before the break has any additional significance since the San Antonio has the best record in the league. I dont think so, especially since, barring any further injuries, this is not the Bulls team that will have to be reckoned with during the spring. But D-Rose thinks its a big game, so there you go. 42 points, and a 10-point win against the team with the best record in the NBA? I guess it was a statement game and one was made. Gotta love that guy!

Had enough yet? Thought so. Remember, Im always here for you, whether its behind the bar or online. All you have to do is pull up a stool or send me an e-mail at frankieo@harrycarays.com and let er rip. But, you should ALWAYS be careful what you wish for, I have a habit of giving you just a little bit extra!

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After getting another signature win at Maryland, does any Big Ten team have two better conference wins than Minnesota?

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USA TODAY

After getting another signature win at Maryland, does any Big Ten team have two better conference wins than Minnesota?

Does any Big Ten team have two better conference wins than Minnesota?

The Golden Gophers went on the road and defeated a ranked group of Maryland Terrapins on Wednesday night, and they did so in impressive fashion, scoring an 89-75 victory in College Park.

Team this win with the win at Purdue back on New Year's Day, and there's no better pair of league victories to be found.

More importantly though, the Gophers, at 9-6, are now the No. 4 team in the Big Ten standings.

It's all a part of a quality NCAA tournament resume for the Gophers, who are closer to lock status after Wednesday's win than they are to being on any sort of bubble. With mediocrity running rampant through the Big Ten this season, Richard Pitino's 21-win squad should be well on its way to an appearance in next month's Madness, which would be the program's first since he took over as head coach.

The resume looks pretty strong at this point, especially after Wednesday. Minnesota can now claim wins over Purdue, Maryland and Northwestern — all three of those conference victories coming on the road. In the non-conference portion of the schedule, the Gophers beat Arkansas, the Razorbacks seemingly heading to the tournament themselves. The only loss from the non-conference portion came on the road at Florida State, one of the highest-ranked teams in the country.

So it's safe to say Minnesota will go dancing.

Wednesday's 14-point beatdown of the Terps saw the Gophers shoot 50 percent from the field on the night and 54.5 percent from the field in the second half. Five players scored in double figures: Dupree McBrayer with 18, Nate Mason with 17, Akeem Springs with 16, Jordan Murphy with 15 and Amir Coffey with 13. Minnesota didn't win the rebounding battle but scored 15 points off 10 Maryland turnovers and marched to the free-throw line, going 17-for-20 from the charity stripe while Maryland was just 8-for-13 there.

The second half was a rout, the Gophers outscoring the Terps 55-40 over the final 20 minutes and rattling off two separate 9-0 runs to burst away from the No. 24 team in the country.

The overtime win at Purdue on the first day of 2017 might go down as a bigger win considering the Boilermakers are closing in on the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten Tournament. That win, too, came by an impressive-enough margin, 91-82. But Minnesota dominated Maryland over the final nine minutes or so and turned in a double-digit victory on the road against a team that lost to that same Purdue team on that same court by just a point two and a half weeks ago.

The Gophers are now on a six-game winning streak and are piling up wins in a fashion that's making them look like one of the Big Ten's finest. A 3-1 start to conference play that extended its overall record to 15-2 was dampened by Minnesota's five-game losing streak that featured losses to higher-echelon teams like Michigan State, Wisconsin and Maryland, plus road losses at Penn State and Ohio State. But since have come six straight wins. While the caliber of opponent hadn't been terribly impressive until Wednesday, the Gophers can now boast nine conference wins. Only three teams have more.

It's now worth watching how high Minnesota can climb in the Big Ten standings before the conference tournament just two weeks from now. If the season ended today, the Gophers would already be in possession of one of those highly coveted two-day byes. But Minnesota is just a game back of Maryland and just two games back of Wisconsin, who the Gophers play in the regular-season finale.

Like Pitino told his team after Wednesday's win: "No more talk about (just making) the NCAA tournament. We're talking about seeds in the NCAA tournament."