Up Against the Wall

Up Against the Wall

By Frankie O
CSNChicago.com

In life, we are always seeking ways to get more out of what we have. Being multi-purpose is at the core of how many of the products we use are presented to us. New Shimmer being a floor wax and a desert topping comes to mind.

In sports this concept led to the abomination known as multi-use stadiums that dotted the landscape during the 1970s. As a kid growing up in Philadelphia, Veterans Stadium was all shiny and new. Who knew it would become a house of horrors that would torment me into my adulthood. And in reflection, as all the new football and baseball stadiums have been built around the country, one can now realize how truly awful the experience, regardless of the tragedy being played out on the field, of being at a cookie-cutters was.

Still, you can understand that the owner of a stadium needs to think outside-the-box of ways to keep it full, since as we know, that is the only way they get a return on their investment.

Here in Chicago, and specifically Wrigley Field, this thinking has led to some interesting events.

In its history, Wrigley has hosted a wide variety of events besides baseball. These have included among them: The Norge Ski Jump Competition, (Why does the word Norge conjure up another connotation? Not to mention be my second classic SNL reference in 300 words. Boo-Ya!! I cant stop!) rodeos, the Harlem Globetrotters, a Jake LaMotta boxing match and Bears football.

Recent years have seen such extravaganzas as the Winter Classic and college one-way football.

Seeing something different at Wrigley Field is cool because YOURE SEEING IT AT WRIGLEY FIELD!

Since 2005 this has included big-time concert acts.

I saw my first one there last year when Sir Paul McCartney took the center field stage. My first reaction was, Oh my god, its hotter than Hades! How can it be 95 degrees outside at nine oclock at night? My second was, Im sitting at Wrigley Field watching a freaking Beatle! For a lad from Philly this was pretty heady stuff. I mean, really, when I listened to my first Beatles song over forty years ago, how could I have imagined that this was in my future? Wow!

I took my next visit to the Frankie O Aging Rocker Time Vault last Friday when Roger Waters brought his latest production of his Pink Floyd classic The Wall to The Confines. Once again I was blown away by being able to see a performance of music that was a large part of my formative years, 33 years after its debut. That it was at Wrigley only made the experience over-the-top. That Waters was able to use modern technology to cutting-edge levels to present his opus visually and sound-wise made it one of the best rock shows I have ever witnessed.

Of course, in keeping with my twisted nature, or the fact that the several beverages I consumed enhanced my inner Frankie O, I couldnt help but notice the irony of Waters performance. The Wall tells the story of his feelings of abandonment and personal isolation as he dealt with the struggles of his life. For some reason, this tale of torment reminded me of the Cubs fans who are the usual inhabitants of Wrigley and their parallel fronts.

The entire set list oozed Cub:

In the Flesh? The feeling of the Cub faithful about when they are FINALLY going to be able to see for themselves the myth that is Anthony Rizzo.

The Thin Ice- This describes ownerships position in its dealings with local government officials (read: Da Mayor) in negotiations for public financing of Wrigley renovations.

Another Brick in the Wall, Parts I, II and III Is there anything more iconic in any stadium than the bricks and ivy of Wrigley?
Happiest Days of Our Lives- Im not sure if this is about a very distant, future event , not yet conceivable to the ticket buying faithful, or an homage to the back-to-back championships over a century ago.

Mother- Do I really need to explain this one? Mother do you think the Cubs will bust.

Goodbye Blue Sky- Or an expletive to this effect, uttered by many right fielders wondering where the fly ball hit their way during a day game disappeared to.

Young Lust- Im going to show some unusual restraint here and let you insert your own joke.
One of My Turns- Even for this album, this song is kind of a dark aberration, kind of like taking Chad Kreuters hat, dumping beer on Shane Victorino or getting pummeled on the mound by Randy Meyers.

Dont Leave Me Now- The plea to season ticket holders to keep the faith, and keep forking over the third highest ticket price in the majors, all while watching a team get nuked and be rebuilt from the ground up.

Goodbye Cruel World- Sadly we know this has been among the last thoughts of some Cubs fans that have left us without seeing their beloved team reach their own ultimate destination.

Hey You- A common reprimand heard in the stands from certain ushers that, since the said Kreuter incident, have seemed to lose their sense of humor.

Is There Anybody Out There?- Despite announced attendance numbers, something you can yell in the stadium during the last 2, and inevitably this years, August and September as Chicagoans turn their attention elsewhere, kind of like being at the Cell anytime this year.

Nobody Home- Why, I dont know, this reminds me of the ill-fated Todd Hundley era behind the plate.

Vera- Honestly? Ive got nothing.

Bring the Boys Back Home- For an organization that is now obsessed with the Money Ball way of doing things, this song represents my favorite old-school stat: BARISP. Beguile me with your Retrosheet Win Probability Added, and when my head stops spinning, Ill tell you that if you have a decent BARISP, you are going to score a TON of runs.

Comfortably Numb- Should be the theme song of the bleachers, especially back in the day.

The Show Must Go On- Im reminded of Mike Quade arguing with the umpiring crew for calling a rain delay while it was coming down sideways. Good times.

Run Like Hell- The baseball purist inside of me gets pure joy every time I see Tony Campana on the base paths.
Waiting For the Worms- What Im thinking as I look at the outfield this week after the removal of the stage. Looks like its time for another visit from the Sodfather.

Stop- Obvious enough. Its what fans want from the usual, Cubs Way of doing business. A century plus of not winning (Strange even typing that phrase) is more than enough. Its the main reason that team Theo has been given so much latitude with the fans. Although they might not be going to the ballpark as much, they are paying attention and filled with anticipation, just like my kids the night before Santa comes. Lets hope this regime is as generous with their gifts to the masses as the big fella in the red suit. (Not to be confused with the big fella with the generous pour wearing the red bow tie!)

The Trial- Just as obvious, this is what will happen in about 3 years if the Master Plan is not obvious for all to see.

Outside the Wall- The place where Waters and all Cubs fans are set free. The weight of the past can be is an incredible burden if we let it. The thought of better time will always get us through. At some point, Wait until next year has to come true.

Expansion of the College Football Playoff field continues to seem inevitable

james-franklin-1207.jpg
USA TODAY

Expansion of the College Football Playoff field continues to seem inevitable

There were six teams deserving of reaching the College Football Playoff this season. But there were only four spots.

But what if there were more spots?

An expansion of the Playoff field to eight teams has seemed inevitable from the day the four-team system was announced. Four more Playoff games means oodles more TV viewers, which means oodles more dollars.

And then we wouldn't be having all these arguments, either — but that's nonsense because of course we would, trying to figure out who got snubbed from the expanded bracket.

But this season's emphasis on the conference-champion debate might kick the efforts to expand the Playoff into high gear. Just take it from NCAA president Mark Emmert.

Now, technically speaking, there are 10 FBS conferences, each of which crowns a champion at the end of every football season. Emmert is obviously referring to the Power Five conferences: the Big Ten, Big 12, ACC, Pac-12 and SEC. He might want to pick his words a bit more carefully, considering he represents the other five conferences — the American, Conference USA, the MAC, the Mountain West and the Sun Belt — too, but his point remains understood.

This season has sparked a ton of controversy as the Playoff selection committee opted for the first time to include a team that did not win its conference, Ohio State, and it picked the Buckeyes over the Big Ten champs, Penn State. Plus, Big 12 champion Oklahoma was passed over in favor of non-champion Ohio State, too, actually falling behind another non-champion from the Big Ten, Michigan, in the final Playoff rankings.

With that decision brought the reasonable question of how much a conference championship should matter in getting a team into the final four and competing for a national championship.

The Playoff committee's mission is to pick the country's four best teams, and there aren't many people out there that will argue that Ohio State isn't one of the country's four best teams. But there's something to be said for winning a conference championship because if the Buckeyes can waltz into the Playoff without even playing in the Big Ten title game, why even have a conference championship game — besides, obviously, earning one more night of big-time TV money.

And so the call for an expanded Playoff bracket has reached perhaps its greatest volume in the short time the Playoff has existed. The obvious solution to Power Five conference champions continually being boxed out is to lock in five spots on the bracket for the five conference champions. Then, guarantee a spot for the highest-ranked team from the Group of Five conferences, and you're left with two "at-large" spots that this season would've gone to Ohio State and Michigan, two of the highest-profile programs in the country sure to drive TV viewership in battles against conference-champion Alabama, Clemson, Washington, Penn State and Oklahoma teams. And P.J. Fleck's undefeated Western Michigan squad takes the final slot.

That's quite the field. But if you think it would've solved all this year's problems, you're wrong. Still there would've been outcry that red-hot USC didn't make the field. The Trojans are playing so well that they could very well win the whole thing, despite their three early season losses. That debate over snubs will exist forever, no matter the size of the field, something we see play out each and every season in the NCAA men's basketball tournament.

Also, what a damper an expanded bracket would put on the final few weeks of the regular season. Ohio State's game against Michigan, the highest-rated game of the college football season with more than 16 million people watching, would've been effectively meaningless. No matter who won or lost, both teams would've made that eight-team field, right?

Additionally, another round of Playoff football would expand the season to 16 games for some teams. That means more physical demands on student-athletes and a season cutting deep into January, which would impact their educational and time demands.

But again, an expansion of the Playoff bracket has always seemed inevitable. There's too much money to be made, and at the same time fans seem to be all about that idea. People love the postseason for good reason, and the win-or-go-home nature of the NFL playoffs make those games the most-watched sporting events of the year.

Now the NCAA president is chiming in with hopes of an expanded field. So really isn't it just a matter of time?

Road Ahead: Blackhawks dealing with rash of injuries

Road Ahead: Blackhawks dealing with rash of injuries

CSN's Chris Boden and Tracey Myers have the latest on the Blackhawks in the Road Ahead, presented by Chicagoland and NW Indiana Honda Dealers.

From an injury standpoint, it's been a tough few weeks for the Blackhawks.

The Blackhawks are down two key players in captain Jonathan Toews and goaltender Corey Crawford, and now may be without defenseman Brent Seabrook who sustained an upper-body injury in Tuesday's victory over the Arizona Coyotes.

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While the Blackhawks haven't had much luck on the injury front, their upcoming two opponents are in the same boat.

"You look at the New York Rangers, a very talented team, but this is what every team goes through every season. Your depth gets tested," Myers said.

Check out what else Boden and Myers had to say about the team's upcoming matchups in this week's Honda Road Ahead