Frankie O's Blog: The True Meaning

Frankie O's Blog: The True Meaning

Friday, Jan. 7, 2011
11:46 AM

By Frankie O
CSNChicago.com

You hear that a lot during the holidays. The true meaning is at the core of it all. The true meaning of Christmas is love for one and all. I try telling that to my 4-year old, but shes still more interested in that jolly old fat guy who slides into her house leaving presents. No, not her father! He leaves a trail! Then there is the New Year, which brings hope of a better future and new beginning for mankind. That is, if that future includes using a shake-weight for the next month and eating low-carb sandwiches at Subway with Jared. The true meaning of the New Year is doing all those things we put off from last year, isnt it?

Then there is the BCS. Im still trying figure out its true meaning. 35 bowl games?! Honestly?! Without a playoff?! With the 70 team field littered with 6-6 records? I wont get into the farce that was the Sugar Bowl. With the allowance of the New Fab-Five for Ohio State (Why should Michigan have the only Fab-Five in the Big Ten that will live in infamy? These schools compete at every level!) to play in the game, it became apparent to all that the true meaning of B.C.S. is Big Cash Soiree. And were all invited as long as we pay, but please make that check out to the university and not the kids we want to watch play. (A triple rhyme? 2011 must be Frankie o time!)

But the true meaning that I get asked about constantly at the bar is about the 2010 NFL regular season. What did it mean? Well judging from my confidence picks, Im probably the last person to ask. (I won week 1, then did not get another sniff until week 16, when all I needed was a Tuesday night win by my Eagles to win the pot. I hate Tuesday NFL games!) But of course that doesnt stop me from having an opinion, whether Im right or not well have to wait until this weekend to see.

These next two weekends are the best the NFL has to offer, in my mind. Two games on Saturday, followed by two games on Sunday with all of the losers going home, there is always enough drama to keep the bar hopping. (By that I mean: Thirsty!)

This Saturday starts with an absolute dog of a game at Quest Field, or does it. The Seahawks are the first team in NFL history to reach the postseason with a losing record in a non-strike season. They are also a 10.5 point underdog at home. As much as I want to say they can make a game of it, in this the year of the upset that doesnt make sense, I just cant pull the trigger. The fact that the Saints are down to Mo Morris and an injury-slowed Reggie Bush at running back would scare me against any other playoff team. I think the lack of the running game has helped force Drew Brees into a un-Brees like 22 interceptions. Couple that with the fact that their defense is not the turnover machine it was all of last year and that they will not play a postseason game in the Superdome and I do not think that they are long for this playoff world. But I still like them on the road against a team that gave up 47 touchdowns this year and was outscored during the season by almost 100 points! This matchup reminds me not of an NFL playoff game, but the Meineke Car Care Bowl. The NFL was smart to get it out of the way first so its stench will be gone by the end of the weekend. Im having a problem finding a true meaning of this game besides it being a scrimmage for the defending champs.

Saturday night will be the Bluster Bowl. Well one sided bluster at least. Rex Ryan has not stopped talking since before this season started. And he and the Jets are responsible for two of the most disturbing video images of the year. First there was Antonio Cromarties attempt at reciting his childrens names and ages without stopping to think about it in Hard Knocks and then there were Rexs home movies on YouTube. Yikes! ( Some would say Ryan is the new Rex Gross-man! Wheres my rim-shot?!) Anyway, any great theatre always a good-guy and a bad-guy, Ryan loves to be bad and the NFLs hero, Peyton Manning, will always wear the white hat. As far as the actual on-field match-up goes, neither of these teams really lived up to their pre-season hype.

The Colts due to a slew of injuries and the Jets not being who we thought they were. (LOL) I still dont understand with a team that wants to pound the ball, why they got rid of Thomas Jones. I thought he fit their system perfectly and enabled the Jets to use complimentary backs around him. He and L.T. would have been a scary, albeit elderly, backfield. As it was the Jets, I believe, used Tomlinson too much and it showed during the seasons second half. And was there a bigger disappointment than Shonn Greene this year? And while I think the addition of Santonio Holmes as a wideout can make the Jets attack lethal, the fact that he has Mark Sanchez throwing to him sometimes negates that. I think once Holmes joined the team, they fell in love with the long-ball instead of what they were being given and it lead to inconsistent offensive results. As far as the Colts, it seemed that every guy on the team besides Manning and Reggie Wayne got hurt. Still they are in the playoffs for the 9th straight time and most of that can be attributed to the NFL best pitchman. With everyone going down around him, he still threw for 4700 yards and 33 tuddies and willed his team to ANOTHER division title. And Rex, did you ever notice that when we usually hear Peyton speak, hes getting paid a large sum of cash?! The true meaning of this game is that if you cant walk the walk, you cant talk the talk! I like the Colts.

Sundays early game should treat us to a slugfest. The question is if its going to be a one-sided slugfest. The Ravens are as physical as any team in the NFL and it all starts with Ray Lewis. The Sunday Night Game against the Steelers was brutal. The Ravens ended up losing, but Pittsburgh knew they got away with one as they were leaving town. The Chiefs have two of the most dynamic players in the league in Jamaal Charles and Dwayne Bowe and I was a fan of the steady play of QB Matt Cassel, but as a team as a whole I think that they got to this dance a year early. Being man-handed (Yes, I meant that spelling. Its an homage to one of the funniest Seinfeld show bits ever!) by the Raiders and Chargers during December proved that point. In fact, look at their wins and who have they beaten? Theyre definitely a schedule darling. Well that ends, and rather abruptly, now. The Ravens have balance and play-makers and playoff veterans at every turn. They are a tough, tough team. In fact, I think they have the best shot at beating the team that plays to their north and looms over this weekend and the entire playoffs, but thats another story for another blog. The true meaning of this game is that you shouldnt bring a knife to a gunfight. The Chiefs have been fun to watch this year, but that fun will end when the more proven Harbaughs squad comes to town.

Then in the marquee game of the weekend, the game everyone, including THIS GUY, is waiting for, its the team that will break my heart EVERY TIME, versus the most despised rival of where I live. Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in! A famous movie quote? Nope. Its the description of the season that Ive had with the football team that has tormented me for my lifetime. After getting spanked by Dallas on consecutive weekends last year to gag a division title and then get booted out of the playoffs to get that over-rated Tony Romo (Honestly?!) his first postseason win, I did not have much expectation for my Eagles in this year 1 A.D. (After Donavan.) A lot of young talent, but to win you need a defense and I didnt see one. So what happened? They gave up 46 touchdowns! That is not a typo. 6-10 then, right? (Or 7-9 and a division title in the NFC West? Boo-Ya!) Well to the surprise of everyone, the offense of Mike Vick, no, not that offense, the Eagles offense of Mike Vick took the NFL by storm, (At least until an aforementioned Tuesday!) and scored an NFC high 49 touchdowns and team record and NFC high 439 points. Eagles game? Take the over! So this high-powered offense will end my suffering right? Not so fast. Wait, it will be fast. The Eagles have the fastest offense Ive ever seen, but in a cruel twist of fate, they are going to play a defense that can play just as fast, especially at linebacker. I think the Packer defense learned enough in his cameo against them, and in the subsequent tape of the Viking and Bears games, to provide that cagy old vet, defensive coordinator Dom Capers, with the formula to defuse the TNT that is the Vick offense. (Eagles offense!) On the other side, even without a run game, Aaron Rogers has lit up the league. Now, he gets to go against a unit that has given up 31 touchdowns and almost 250 yds. a game, through the AIR! I see points, a lot of points, so many in fact that I dont know if Vick can keep up. So the true meaning of this game, for me, AGAIN, is that you cant always get what you want.

So there you have it, I like 3 road teams to win this weekend, and the team that started the year with the most hype, and my AFC preseason Super Bowl nod, to take a seat. In my usual ironic twist, my preseason pick for the NFC side of SB XLV, will knock out the team I root for most. Nice! And remember, these picks are straight up, for as I learned during 2010, the true meaning of insanity, is trying to bet this years games against the spread. MERRY NEW YEAR!

AP Preps boys basketball poll: Week 13

AP Preps boys basketball poll: Week 13

Here are the latest rankings of Illinois high school basketball teams in each class, according to an Associated Press panel of sportswriters.

Class 4A

No. Team W-L Pts Prv
1 Edwardsville (8) 25-1 97 2
2 Bolingbrook (1) 23-1 75 1
3 Simeon 24-3 71 4
4 Evanston Township 23-3 66 T8
5 Fremd (1) 25-0 65 5
6 Curie 23-3 50 3
7 Wheaton Warrenville South 26-1 39 7
8 Whitney Young 20-7 27 6
9 Joliet West 22-3 21 10
10 East Moline United 22-6 9 NR

Others receiving votes: Rockford Boylan 7, East St. Louis 7, Geneva 6, Willowbrook 4, Algonquin (Jacobs) 2, Lincoln Way East 2, Lisle (Benet Academy) 1, Danville 1.

Class 3A

No. Team W-L Pts Prv
1 Morgan Park (6) 19-6 94 1
2 Fenwick (2) 23-4 90 2
3 Springfield Lanphier (2) 21-3 84 3
4 Bloomington 20-4 67 4
5 North Lawndale 20-6 58 5
6 Benton 27-2 43 6
7 Effingham 23-3 35 8
8 Washington 21-5 30 9
9 Breese Central 23-4 14 7
10 Bogan 16-7 12 10

Others receiving votes: Springfield Southeast 11, Cahokia 6, Farragut 3, Burlington Central 2, Aurora Central Catholic 1.

Class 2A

No. Team W-L Pts Prv
1 Quincy Notre Dame (7) 24-2 104 1
2 Chicago Uplift (2) 21-5 96 2
3 Orr (2) 16-5 93 3
4 Teutopolis 25-3 78 4
5 Alton Marquette 26-3 59 5
6 Pinckneyville 26-2 38 8
7 Tremont 23-3 34 6
8 Rockridge 19-5 31 10
9 Mt. Carmel 22-4 18 7
10 Pittsfield 24-2 14 NR

Other receiving votes: DePaul College Prep 9, Illini Bluffs 6, Pleasant Plains 5, Eldorado 5, Waterloo Gibault 3, Hoopeston 3, Sterling Newman 3, Petersburg PORTA 3, Williamsville 2, Chicago-University 1.

Class 1A

No. Team W-L Pts Prv
1 Colfax Ridgeview (7) 26-1 96 1
2 Okawville (2) 26-3 91 2
3 Chicago Hope Academy 23-4 71 4
4 Quest Academy (1) 25-4 67 3
5 Newark 23-3 57 5
6 Annawan 27-3 50 7
7 East Dubuque 27-2 45 6
8 DePue 24-3 27 9
9 Harvest Christian Academy 23-4 20 10
10 Effingham St. Anthony 23-5 9 8

Others receiving votes: Patoka 5, Nokomis 4, Freeport (Aquin) 3, Crab Orchard 2, Mendon Unity 2, Elverado 1.

Cubs: Miguel Montero and Joe Maddon finally make peace

Cubs: Miguel Montero and Joe Maddon finally make peace

MESA, Ariz. – Over red wine, Miguel Montero and Joe Maddon ended their cold war on Monday night, dining at Andreoli Italian Grocer and vowing to work together as the Cubs try to defend their World Series title.  
 
The Montero-Maddon dynamic had been one of the awkward, lingering storylines in a feel-good camp after the veteran catcher questioned the star manager's communication skills and in-game decisions during a WMVP-AM 1000 interview – on the same day as the championship parade and Grant Park rally.

"I got a lot off my chest," Montero said Tuesday. "I care so much for the game. I care so much for the team. I'm here to win. And it's hard when you have that (weight) on your shoulders.
 
"I've never been a cancer (anywhere) that I played for all these years. And I'm not planning to be one of those guys."
 
Maddon requested the dinner meeting – quality assurance coach/ex-player Henry Blanco joined the peace summit as a neutral third party – while Montero picked the Scottsdale restaurant and suggested posting a photo of them toasting drinks on his Twitter account.  
 
"I want to let the people know that it's going to be a great year," Montero said.  

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Montero said he slept so much better that night and showed up for work at the Sloan Park complex the next morning with a new energy level. Montero, a two-time All-Star, stressed that he understands his role as a $14 million backup and a mentor to young catcher Willson Contreras. Montero offered to continue helping police the clubhouse – in exchange for Maddon keeping him more in the loop.   
 
"Whatever it takes me to help him," Montero said. "I was true with him when I said: ‘If you feel Willson needs a break and it's (Clayton) Kershaw pitching for the other team, put me in, I'm fine.'
 
"That's my job and I accept it. Just count on me for whatever. If we need to send a message out there to the players, I'm here for you, too. I can help you on that.
 
"If I do something that you don't like, just let me know. Just chew me out, whatever, I don't care. I'll take it like a man. It was a great time."
 
Montero had already told reporters that his comments on the radio weren't simply complaining about his own individual situation. Montero also spoke up for teammates frustrated by a perceived lack of communication and uncertainty over roles, though those behind-the-scenes issues appear to be cooling for now.
 
"We have a special team," Montero said. "We have a legitimate chance to win another championship. So in order to do that, we need to be together here. And I think we are now – and we're going to stay that way."