SUPER SIZE ME!!

SUPER SIZE ME!!

By Frankie O
CSNChicago.com

Thats what were supposed to be doing this week, right? Super Bowl week means everything is hyped until it cant be hyped no more. Its the ultimate American reaction to the ultimate American game. As soon as Lawrence Tynes 31-yarder in overtime crossed through the uprights, we were on the clock for Super Bowl XLVI. In fact, I believe, the ESPN pre-game show started at that very second. You gotta love em, for they are nothing if not consistent. Too bad Showtime took the Shameless title for its new show since the behemoth shows that quality whenever it can, and especially now, when the stage is as big as it gets. I dont know whats worse: The fact that theyre bludgeoning me with wall-to-wall coverage or the fact that Ive had it on in the background almost as much. Its oddly comforting that no matter what time of the day, no matter where I am, I can get the latest, most pertinent analysis of the Giants pass rush, Belichicks genius or Gronks high-ankle sprain. I mean, I need to know and I need to know NOW! Through my 46-inch plasma induced haze, I swear that they are so out of material that theyve been reduced to having every one of their on-air talent appear on every other one of their shows. Its like theres a circus Volkswagen full of TV-types at the ready next to their revolving sets as soon as the red light comes on. It makes me wonder what theyre going to do before the game on Sunday. I mean whats left? By this time, the amount of football knowledge imparted would make Mr. Creosote beg for mercy. Just one more tidbit of information, North America? Its wafer-thin!

I have to admit, though, there were two weeks when I couldnt get enough, a mere seven years ago. For just the second time in my lifetime, I had reason to care about a Super Bowl. (Notice that I didnt say rooting interest in, since we all know that is different, and almost every one of us have a rooting interest in the Super Bowl, for some of us, as long as we can remember!) Since ESPN was in its infancy during the Eagles first SB in 1980, we were all spared the wall-to-wall stuff before the game even though the game was no less hyped where I lived. That was two weeks of bliss. It went by so fast, almost as fast as Ron Jaworski threw the game away. Stop throwing to Rod Martin! Hes on the other team!

By 2004, the ESPN machine was gaining incredible traction, and the They need more! credo was on full display. Not only that, the brand new Comcast SportsNet Chicago broadcast Daily News Live from its sister station in Philadelphia the week preceding the game. Now thats what I call a displaced Philly fans best friend! And if you can believe it, a red-bow-tie wearing bartender made his debut on Chicago Tribune Live the Friday before the big game on CSN Chicago, regaling Dan Jiggetts and 85 Bear Otis Wilson with his reasons for an impending Birds victory. (That was what is known as writers embellishment. The truth is, I was so caffeinated and nervous, I opened my mouth and the words came flying out in staccato bursts, as far from regaling as you could get. I did get my affinity for the team from Philadelphia across though. I think.) This was going to be the greatest football game of my life. The suffering was going to be over. And like those first minutes after you buy what you are sure is the winning lottery ticket, for two weeks I was able to dream a little dream. Hype was my friend!

Well, we all know how that turned out. And, as we all know as well, dreams die hard. Very hard. Im not saying that Im bitter. Other people will say it for me! I dont ask for very much. Just one! Thats all. I remember when the Rangers ended their 54-year schneid in quest of Lord Stanley in 1994. There was a guy in the stands after the game who held up a placard that said, Now I can die in peace! At the time, watching on TV, I was amused. Now, I can relate. The Eagles have never won a Super Bowl. EVER. The last NFL title was before I was born. Yes its been that long!

So what Im reduced to, again, is being a spectator. Youd think Id be used to it by now. What are you going to do? I was born on the wrong side of the state for sports. But what really gets me now are the teams that are playing. Everyone wants to know who I like in the game. I cant even fathom picking one or the other. For a guy from Philly it doesnt get any worse than this. Root for New York? What? As any NFC East fan knows, thats not going to happen. Its bad enough the other three teams in the division have 11 Super Bowl wins to the Eagles goose egg, I dont know if I can take a dirty dozen. I need the Eli face!

But wait. That would mean being on the side of the team from Boston. Yeah, Boston. You know the town where the teams win so much (7 major titles in the last ten years. Ugh.) that the fans really believe that its their right. They make New York obnoxiousness seem quaint by comparison. Do we really want to go there? I dont!

So I will seek solace the way only I can, for I know, theres one good thing thats going to happen on Sunday. Somebody is going to lose. It has to happen. If I havent learned anything, at least I learned that, and I did it the hard way. And speaking from that experience, the closer you get, the worse it hurts.

So, Ill be at the bar, and a good time will be had by almost all. Well cheer for our wagers (not for cash, of course, just for yucks) and wonder in amazement about the amount of money spent for commercials that are not funny! Then, on Monday, Ill go online to newspaper sites in one of two cities and read about despair and the heartache of hopes and dreams dashed at the altar. It wont erase the futility of being a fan of a team that hasnt fulfilled its promise, but as I read some of those all too familiar stories, Ill know that at least for a day, for me and the fans of the unfortunate city, well have something in common. I guess misery does love company!

Have a very safe and merry Super Sunday!!

In The Loop: The Blackhawks' 9-1 February by the numbers

In The Loop: The Blackhawks' 9-1 February by the numbers

The Blackhawks went 9-1 in February and did so in emphatic fashion.

The Blackhawks outscored their opponents 44-24 in the month and scored four goals or more in each of the nine wins. The only loss came after the team's bye week, a 3-1 loss at home to Edmonton seven days after winning 5-1 in Edmonton.

A big reason for the Blackhawks' recent surge is because of the production of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. Toews scored seven goals and had 11 assists in February and was named the league's second star of the week this week. Patrick Kane had nine goals and seven assists.

Scott Darling went 3-0 in his starts and gave up just four goals in those games. Corey Crawford went 6-1 with a 2.71 goals against average.

Despite the Blackhawks' success in February, the Minnesota Wild still lead the division. The Blackhawks beat the Wild twice in February, but the Wild went 7-2 in the rest of February, including tonight's 5-4 overtime win against the LA Kings to sit three points ahead of the Blackhawks and still with two games in hand.

Watch the video above to see Pat Boyle break down these Blackhawks numbers.

Fire putting finishing touches on roster as season nears

Fire putting finishing touches on roster as season nears

The preseason has finished and it's officially a match week for the Chicago Fire.

The Fire, which travel to Columbus on Saturday for the season opener, returned from preseason training in Florida on Sunday and began the team's first full day back in Chicago with the team's annual kickoff luncheon on Monday. The team's players, coaches and staff interact with fans and the media ahead of the upcoming season.

Two players, UNC-Charlotte products Brandt Bronico and Matej Dekovic, were introduced to the audience a couple hours before the club announced the two 2017 draft picks had signed contracts. Bronico, a central midfielder drafted in the third round, and Dekovic, a center back/left back taken in the fourth round, both signed one-year deals with club options for the following three years.

Dekovic could add some much needed depth in central defense, but is a logical candidate to go out on loan to USL affiliate Tulsa. Dekovic, 23, is Croatian and counts as an international player even though he played three years collegiately with the 49ers. The Fire have nine international players on the roster with eight slots for them. The Fire could trade for an international slot, but if Dekovic goes out on loan he won't count against that number. Coach Veljko Paunovic was asked about potential outgoing loans, but didn't give specifics other than to say they have "made some decisions" and "are still working on that."

Bronico and Dekovic don't figure to play major roles this season, but there could still be more moves ahead. The lone trialist in the final week of the Fire's training camp, former Columbus Crew defender Chad Barson, was not retained. General manager Nelson Rodriguez said Ryan Taylor will be the latest right back to join the Fire on trial. Taylor, 32, made 55 English Premier League appearances with Wigan Athletic from 2005-2009 and 61 more with Newcastle United from 2009-2015. This season he has made 12 appearances for Port Vale in England's third tier, the most recent of which on Jan. 20 when he scored a penalty kick.

[RELATED: Fire players downplay importance of undefeated preseason record]

"Ryan Taylor will join us this week," Rodriguez said. "He's a very experienced player, he plays a lot of different positions, which we like. We like that versatility. We love the attitude that he's expressed towards coming on trial, which is not easy for an accomplished player. We'll look at him this week, maybe look at him for two weeks. I don't know how long it will take, but he is an option for us."

The Englishman would also take up an international slot.

A potentially bigger move is the one Rodriguez hinted at regarding a third designated player. Currently, David Accam and Nemanja Nikolic are the Fire's two DPs, meaning one more DP spot is available.

"We have the latitude, we have the cap space, the budget space and the resources within MLS and within our ownership to add another DP," Rodriguez said. "We've looked at a few players. Two of the players that we had on our list, we didn't make offers for so I want to be clear the two players we were tracking, one signed in Mexico with a big club in Mexico and one went to China for big money so they're off our list.

"There are still two players that we're tracking. I think as we get deeper into the start of the season, even though the first window is open, it's tougher. I would say we would likely look at the summer, or, as we did last year, forego the summer and concentrate on January. I still think it's hard to integrate players midseason."