Sheer Madness

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Sheer Madness

By Frankie O
CSNChicago.com

Its that time again when something takes over your brain and you start obsessing and doing crazy things. Spring is definitely in the air. Um, I mean summer. Im not one to complain, (I heard that!) but I guess a winter without winter should only mean that were going to be en fuego (Bi-lingual in the fourth sentence. Boo-ya! Tri-lingual?) this summer, so why not just get on with it? Ah, the mysteries of Mother Nature.

The early heat wave is definitely having an effect. I mean that would explain Blago on his doorstep wouldnt it? I could go on for days on that one, but the word I would keep getting back to would be sadness. A Blago line is always good for a laugh at the bar, but right now its an awkward one. Blagos on his way to a new residence, but hell always live on a river in Egypt.

And speaking of denial, theres the Bears signing of Brandon Marshall. What a tangled mess that is, and is going to be. For some reason, in the NFL, if you line up outside the numbers, on either side of the ball, you just seem to be more prone to issues, or at least thats the perception. Especially on the offensive side -- thats where most of the NFL divas reside. It has come to light that in Marshalls case, at least partially, this is due to his having Borderline Personality Disorder. I would never make light of a psychiatric disorder, but I would also argue that he has been coddled and enabled. That happens when you can generate millions of dollars in your profession and become a cash cow for all those around you and your performance on the field is so beneficial, that a blind eye will be cast off it.

According to news reports, while he lived in the Denver area, police were called to his residence 11 times in 2 years. As I glanced at some of the TV sets while I was working on Tuesday evening, SportsNet Central had a list of his transgressions with the law that covered the full screen, to go along with his football highlights. The coverage in the Chicago Tribune on Thursday put them in a nice, neat timeline for us. Some would call these big red flags! But the rest of the coverage is devoted on the gamble that the Bears are taking by acquiring, and thus taking responsibility for, their long needed downfield playmaker.

Is this a case of selling your soul for something you covet? On my own personal rooting level, I watched my Eagles forget about everything they believed in to take their shot with Terrell Owens. You might have heard how that turned out.

Im among those who marvel at Marshalls athletic ability. I just wonder what it says about all of us that we want to see him perform no matter what the cost. For the Bears, lets hope this is not another opportunity to master the art of spin or damage control. While I believe everyone deserves the right to seek proper treatment and lead a productive life, why do I feel like this is not the priority here?

And in another dont believe everything you see case, there is the Bulls win against the Heat on Wednesday night at the United Center. The story of beating the Heat without Derrick Rose is irresistible. Once again, lowered expectations turned into something wonderful -- do you hear me Cubs and White Sox fans? When it was announced that Rose would not play, all of us at the bar were bummed out. The later than usual start had added to our anticipation and enabled some of those in attendance to fully enjoy their pregame activities.

Once the game began, and the short-handed team showed their unyielding will, the enjoyment level was as high as it could be until the taught, frantic end as the indomita-Bulls held on to win. John Lucas III had the game of his life. My comment was, Well I guess we can forget about any additions at the trade deadline," -- and everyone was in agreement. They beat them without Rose, (and Rip Hamilton, but does anyone really believe that he can stay healthy enough to be a factor this year? I dont.)

Why do they need anything else? Weve seen this before -- last year as a matter of fact. The Bulls have had a problem staying healthy all year and with Hamilton and Luol Deng nowhere near 100 percent, do you really believe they have a chance in a seven-game series vs. Miami? My heart wants to tell me yes, but when the Heat are on their game, I dont think there is a team in the NBA this year that can stay with them. I hope we get a chance to find out and for once, Im wrong. (Sorry. Sometimes, it is necessary to make myself laugh while I write these. Sarcasm my friends, gotta love it!) Either way, how can you not love watching what this team brings to the gym every night?

And I would be remiss if I didnt talk about whats going to drive me crazy all weekend. No, not people acting Irish. Thats actually become a little entertaining for me, although Saturday is going to be a looooooong night. The real fun is looking around on Sunday to see who had the most damage inflicted. Oh, to be young again. Of course, what Im really talking about is the fate of my bracket as we head to the Sweet Sixteen. Those of you who know me, or have read here before, know what a tortured process this has become for me. Back in the day, I actually believed that the more I knew, the better off I would be. I actually remember winning some cash. But eventually that process just twisted me into a pretzel as I tried to make a case for each entry. That was a lot of work for not a lot of results.

You have to love when a game is much closer than anyone would imagine, an upset in the making, then the lower seed runs out of steam, loses a close one and those who blindly picked the favorite won, getting no demerits for style points. Deciding to join them, I became Chalk Boy for a while, but whats the fun in that? I love upsets. Besides, theres always that one guy who will out-chalk you and win, or, inexplicably decide to pick all chalk and one surprise that hits, and they win. What the?

So this year, I tried another new tact. Admittedly, due to the lack of college basketball interest around Chicago, I didnt really go overboard with the college hoops. Wasnt all of the buzz about conference realignments? This year was enough to make Newt yawn. He did? Why didnt someone wake him up? (Again with the humor!) So this year I decided to soak in what I could, wait until the last minute, and let er rip. Honestly, how bad could it be? If it doesnt work, next year Ill let my soon-to-be teenage daughter pick them. Yup, Im that close to rock bottom.

Anyway, I ended up with a Final Four of Kentucky, Kansas, Vandy and Mizzou, with the Jayhawks beating the Wildcats for the title. Thats a 1, two 2s and a 5-seed. A mans bracket! A man whos about to lose his entrance fee! Oh well, as long as Kentucky loses. I had them lose at the end because it hurts more. Like they say, its a time for madness. Its out of our hands, right coach Cal?

Remember to designate a driver on St. Pats. Arrive alive!

Wake-up Call: White Sox top Cubs; D-Rose has a new home; Jerrell Freeman a life-saver

Wake-up Call: White Sox top Cubs; D-Rose has a new home; Jerrell Freeman a life-saver

Here are some of Monday's top stories in Chicago sports after the first Crosstown Cup game was played:

Slumping White Sox get huge boost after Miguel Gonzalez 'defended his ground'

Kyle Hendricks is back, but Cubs will likely have to wait for their next shot at Yu Darvish

Bullard a prime example of how, why and where Bears can improve

Derrick Rose to sign with Cavaliers

Such a mighty wallop: How does Matt Davidson's mammoth home run stack up?

Willson Contreras may be ‘the f------ Energizer Bunny,’ but Cubs still need to get another catcher before trade deadline

'I'm a patient man': Lovie Smith takes the long view entering second season of Illini rebuilding effort

Fired-up Anthony Swarzak relishes pressure of first career save

Was Hector Rondon tipping pitches during late-game meltdowns with Cubs?

Bears linebacker Jerrell Freeman saved a man's life at an airport

Bullard a prime example of how, why and where Bears can improve

Bullard a prime example of how, why and where Bears can improve

This Bears rebuild has taken longer than expected. Ideally, in year three of a GM/head coach tandem, they should be contending for the playoffs. 

That’s not to say the 2017 Bears can’t. It’s just unlikely. They don’t have enough players opponents have to gameplan for. They don’t have the depth to overcome key injuries. When franchises get on a winning roll, it’s when they have enough of those studs on both sides of the ball, and have the depth to avoid as many emergencies as possible. And that happens when second- and third-year players make a jump in their play.

Offensively, we saw an impressive jump by Cam Meredith, but another left leg injury still have us wondering exactly what Kevin White is, and how good he can be. Jeremy Langford’s growth was stunted by his ankle injury. Second-year center Hroniss Grasu missed the entire year. On the defensive side, we never got to see if Kyle Fuller could’ve proven his first-round status in his third year. Safety Adrian Amos started another full season, but is now in a battle to do the same a third straight year. We can see star qualities in Eddie Goldman, but how much of a difference-maker can he be by remaining on the field? We’ll learn the same about Leonard Floyd if he can do that this fall. And there are a handful of other second-year players we’ll be watching, from Deon Bush to Deiondre Hall to Cre’Von LeBlanc. There’s also 2016 third-round pick Jonathan Bullard, who learned what it took to become a 3-4 defensive end in the NFL.

“It was okay. I got about 17 snaps a game,” Bullard said of his rookie season during last month’s minicamp. “That’s not what I wanted coming in. But it is what is. I want to move on to the next year and hopefully be able to help this team in a big way.”

Rookie seasons for every player lay the groundwork. How high their ceiling goes starts to get established in year two, between the player’s effort, and getting coached-up correctly.

“They asked me to gain a few pounds. I was like 282 last year, and right now I’m at 296, so hopefully that helps me, said Bullard. “I’m just trying to make all this solid and not lose my burst that got me here. So I’m looking forward to it. I got a year under my belt now, I know what they expect. I’m gonna be ready.”

Part of Bullard taking things upon himself was hooking up with a former defensive end, from the same alma mater, who happens to be fourth in franchise history in sacks (albeit in a 4-3 scheme): CSN’s very own Bears analyst, Alex Brown.

“We saw each other at the Florida spring game and we kind of linked up and put in some work at his facility down the road,” Bullard explained. “We’ve met up quite a few times, just working on little things. He’s just trying to give me a better understanding of the game, and some of the veteran things he knows that I want to incorporate into my game.”

So what kind of a teacher is Alex?

“He’s alright. I make him him jump in there. I tell him he’s not that old.”

And while Pace didn’t make the big splash in free agency as he tries to match up salary with his grades for players, Bullard has to prove he’s now better than last year’s starter, Mitch Unrein, as well as a hungry fellow former Gator, Jaye Howard, who was brought in on a “prove it” one-year deal after being cut just before the draft by Kansas City.

“As far as him being a Gator, it’s exciting. But it’s a competition. He’s gonna come in and try to win the starting job, and I’m gonna do the same. It’s just gonna have to be a friendly competition when training camp comes, and may the best man win.”

Let this, and many other Bourbonnais battles, begin.