Frankie O's Blog: Back to Normal?

Frankie O's Blog: Back to Normal?

Friday, March 25, 2011
Posted: 9:06 a.m.

By Frankie O
CSNChicago.com

Its hard to say that anything in my life is normal, that happens when you serve adults alcohol for a living and have three young kids and a boss at home. Pretty much, in all facets of my life, Im just along for the ride, and hanging on for dear life at that. But in anyones life you have to find that something that allows you to get away and balance yourself out. That my something puts me into a full psychosis should tell you everything that you need to know about me, that is, if you havent already guessed: I have a few issues!

For me, back to normal means that my fantasy hiatus is finally over. After a long year of the baseball-football fantasy doubleheader, even yours truly needs a little time to re-charge the batteries. Although I will admit, I did consider going year-round and playing in a fantasy basketball league with the other sickos in my two leagues. But then they changed the draft day on me and I was shut out. You dont think its because theyre tired of giving me their money is it? Anyway, it gave me a break from my computer, but for some reason with the additional time, I didnt seem to get any more done. How does that happen?

So as usual, the beginning of spring training had me chomping at the bit to get back into it. Fantasy guides are littering my desk and all month I have fallen asleep reading MLB information on my iPhone. At work, the mind-games were in midseason form. A lot of the fun of this is messing with your league mates. On-line banter is fun, but in person is funner. Sending out draft dis-information is all part of the master plan. The name of the game is to not only win, but to climb in their heads and have a sandwich while youre there. The pressure of the draft is pretty cool. Its high-stress, but its not entirely real. At least I keep telling myself that. In a perfect world, I think every fantasy draft should have everyone in the same room and should be in the auction format.

This starts every person on a level playing field and any person can have any player. (Not to mention something else that is a side benefit is that you all can enjoy a few refreshments and this will ALWAYS tilt the playing field not to mention giving you stories that will last the year and beyond. Am I right Puppy Kisses?) But since we do not live in a perfect world, I had to sit alone in front of my computer and deal with the vagaries of a snake draft. In the end I think a snake evens out, but just once I wouldnt mind the first pick, not complaining, just saying. Starting a draft with the best player is a nice advantage, if we all had to bid on it, that player is available to anyone who wants to pony up. As I sat on-line waiting for the 10:45 p.m. draft to start, I finished the fortress of information around me, drawing chuckles from the wife as she rolled her eyes and went to bed. But whats really funny is that I rarely use any of it.

Once the draft starts Im in such a trance that I really dont notice anything else. One thing I did notice was the lost connection filtered screen that dropped over my draft screen with the dreaded spinning circle. It only lasted a few seconds and went away. That was weird. There are many theories to drafts, and in a 7x7 NL only roto league such as ours, theyre too many to mention. For me, it gets down to two things: Guys I like to watch play and young guys with up-side. You can study every number you want, but this is still a lot of luck, and in the case of baseball a REALLY long season, so Im big on the kids I enjoy watching. (One of those kids is Joey Votto, who Ive owned for the last two years, while finishing 2nd and 1st in those two years. I dont think thats a coincidence and I love to watch him hit, although my enthusiasm will be a little tempered this year.)

In the first round Ryan Braun was there when it was my turn and he was gone when I used that turn. His powerspeedavg. combo made that pick a no-brainer. When I got to pick on the wrap-around I was able to get my new Votto in Andrew McCutchen. I think hes going to have a monster year. So far Im feeling pretty good, although that pesky lost connection screen keeps popping down. Of course the pick before mine in round three took the player I wanted, Hunter Pence (another Ive owned for two years, what can I say, I get attached to my guys!) but I knew my getting him in the third was a reach so I settled for my plan B: Jay Bruce. My team is going to hit!

Then it happened. As soon as I took Bruce, I queued Mike Stanton in my selection box, thinking Im going to have a core of four who can give me strength in all seven offensive categories. As my turn was one away I lost my connection! Do you know what happens when you lose your connection and its your pick? The computer picks for you! It picks the highest rated player according to our service, which is Yahoo!. And do you know who that was? Mr. Calf Strain himself: Jimmy Rollins! Now most of you would think that I would be happy with a former MVP, that plays in a quality scarce position, and by the way, is a PHILLIE! Ironically he is the Phillie who I have a lovehate thing with. Now thats funny, not funny ha-ha but funny.

I would not draft him EVER, or at least in the first 15 rounds. Hes old. He uppercuts his swing way too much, and especially now that I think he will hit in the three-hole since the Phils wont have Chase Utley, hell want to be a power hitter. Can you say 2-0 popup? And by the way, did I mention he gets hurt? A lot! Other than that, I dont have much of an opinion. Mr. Phillie himself, Mike Schmidt, said the same things about him this spring. (Schmidt and what he says are another three blogs, but this time I thought he was spot on.) I thought my head was going to explode.

I let out a tirade that would have made Rex Ryan blush. My vision was gone, in more ways than one. But what could I do? I know that the rest of my league-mates could care less. Stuff happens. But honestly, Rollins? Im still hot thinking about it. I wish I could say things got better, but for the rest of the draft, I lived in fear of another auto-pick. (Unfortunately, this did happen to others, but none with the consequence of my 4th pick.) My next one occurred in the 10th round when the computer picked a Met for me. A freaking Met! I hate Mets! If I could get away from my anger, there really is some funny, ironic stuff here. Funny if it was happening to someone else!

So this event that Ive been looking forward to for so long tuned into a three hour, 30-round hell ride. And just for good measure, my last pick, was an auto-pick! Only fitting thats how it ended and that one made me laugh out loud for the fact that it happened and that the player selected is no longer in baseball! In a change of luck, as soon as I was finished stomping on my computer and throwing its trampled remains out on the street (kidding! Sort of.) I turned on the TV and Old School was just coming on. Nothing like a little Will Ferrell to help me forget about my train-wreck of a draft. As I was watching, I remembered something that I believe totally about fantasy baseball.

Its not just about the draft. Its about how much work you put in. Unlike football, where the draft is ginormous, you can overcome your misfortune with due diligence. Fantasy baseball is a six-month marathon. You will get out what you put in. In a long season, players will come out of nowhere to have an impact. A lot of them have not been drafted yet. You just have to find them. The night after the draft was non-stop fun at work as I was taking a ribbing for my picks and my response to them. Nothing like some good old gallows humor! That night after work I consoled myself by looking over the other rosters and I realized with a little luck, I should once again be in the mix. As I was enjoying my 3 a.m. hour pondering the positive and negatives of Ronny Cedeno and Jason Michaels, my sick 11 year old came into the kitchen because her cough had woken here up. As she enjoyed a soothing Halls, she looked at my computer screen and rolled her eyes. (Where have I seen that look before?!!) She said that all of the boys in her class were addicted to fantasy baseball and that was all that they were talking about in school. Well, it is a great way to keep up on the math skills, I told her, hoping she did not see through me. Yeah, but my teacher says her husband is the same way, and that its a sickness. Thats quite a teacher you have there, I replied avoiding direct eye contact. Shes got me pegged! Again! How do kids get so smart so fast? I think its time you went back to bed young lady, Daddy will tuck you in. Then hes going back to his computer to find some more stolen bases! I close my eyes, only for a moment and the moments gone

Three Bears necessities to lay a broom on the Lions

Three Bears necessities to lay a broom on the Lions

If the Lions beat the Bears in Detroit, it'd be a recent rarity. No, not the Bears losing, but in this long series that reaches 175 games Sunday. One team or the other has swept the season series 11 of the last 12 years (the lone exception being 2011). The 17-14 Bears win Oct. 2 ended a string of six consecutive losses to their division rivals. At that point, both clubs were 1-3. The Bears have remained at that pace since, while the Lions have taken off, winning seven of eight.

It was Brian Hoyer's steady hand that guided that win, while a Vic Fangio defense missing Eddie Goldman, Pernell McPhee and Danny Trevathan forced Matthew Stafford into easily his worst game of the season.

1. STAY COMMITTED

That first meeting was Jordan Howard's first start, and his first 100-yard game, and the rook ran it 23 times for the first of five 100-yard rushing efforts (113). And since the two Bears touchdowns were scored by a couple of players who won't suit up Sunday (Eddie Royal and Zach Miller, from a quarterback who also won't be suiting up), keep feeding the beast. He's 117 yards from reaching the 1,000-yard mark (after just a dozen carries the first three games), and another 100-yard effort would give him the most for a rookie in Bears franchise history.

2. A FASTER START FOR MATT

...meaning Barkley, not Stafford. The Bears want to avoid a faster start by Stafford and the home offense, which was held to just one first down and 14 total plays on their first four possessions back in October. As Barkley makes his first NFL road start in a dome, he and his offensive teammates need to get out of the gate quicker than they have the last two home games. Before they got things rolling on the final drive of the first half against the San Francisco 49ers, they had four possessions that totaled 14 plays, 27 net yards and two first downs. In Barkley's first start two weeks ago against the Tennessee Titans, they surrounded one 13-play touchdown drive in the opening half with five possessions, totaling 16 plays, 108 yards, three first downs, and an interception.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

3. HOO-RATIO

The Bears have lost the turnover battle in eight of their 12 games, and just twice have they won it. One of those instances was in Week 4. For a team that has just five interceptions all year, against a quarterback who's thrown just five picks, two came in the first meeting on the lakefront. And those picks were by (....wait for it....) Deiondre Hall (the rookie who'll play for the first time since that game), and Jacoby Glenn, who's now back on the practice squad. Now, yes, Stafford is a different beast in his den, and there's a completely different confidence level now for the NFC North leaders. But what if the defense can pull an encore? And can Leonard Floyd and Akiem Hicks pick up where they left off against another mobile quarterback? The Bears had just two sacks in the first meeting, registered by (....wait for it....) Mitch Unrein and Cornelius Washington.

** Finish up your snow removal by 11 a.m. Plop yourself in front of CSN, and watch ex-Bears Lance Briggs, Jim Miller and Alex Brown join Chris for Bears Pregame Live. Then as soon as the second quarter ends on CBS, log on here to CSNChicago.com as Jim and Chris break down the first 30 minutes and go over second half adjustments on Bears Halftime Live. Finally, as soon as the team's start sharing handshakes, flip back to CSN as the three ex-Bears and Chris provide 90 minutes of reaction, analysis, press conferences and locker room interviews from Detroit on Bears Postgame Live. **

Complete Bears-Lions coverage on CSN

Complete Bears-Lions coverage on CSN

The Bears and Detroit Lions square off Sunday at noon and CSN Chicago has you covered along the way.

Check out a schedule of Sunday's events:

— Meijer Bears Pregame Live with Chris Boden, Lance Briggs, Alex Brown and Jim Miller airs at 11 a.m. on CSN.

— Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois Bears Halftime Live streaming live on CSNChicago.com and ChicagoBears.com.

— State Farm Bears Postgame Live airing immediately after the game on CSN.

Important Twitter follows:

— John "Moon" Mullin (@CSNMoonMullin), CSNChicago

— Bears Talk (@CSNBears), CSNChicago

— Kip Lewis (@CSNKipLewis), CSNChicago

— Chris Boden (@CSNBoden), CSNChicago