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

Report: Hoosiers' Troy Williams to stay in NBA Draft

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Report: Hoosiers' Troy Williams to stay in NBA Draft

Indiana got good news when Thomas Bryant opted to return for his sophomore season rather than pursue a pro career. The news on Troy Williams might not be as pleasing.

According to a report from the Indianapolis Star's Gregg Doyel, Williams will forego his senior season with the Hoosiers and keep his name in the NBA Draft.

Williams averaged 13.3 points and 5.8 rebounds for Indiana last season, ranking in the top 20 in the Big Ten in both categories. He was a big part of the Hoosiers' high-powered offense that led them to a regular-season conference title. His shooting numbers, though, were significantly lower than they were during his sophomore season. Williams shot 51.3 percent from the field and 34.7 percent from 3-point range after shooting 54 percent from the field and 46.2 percent from 3-point range during the 2014-15 season.

Williams' departure would mean the Hoosiers would lose arguably their two best players — graduated senior Yogi Ferrell being the other — from a team that went to the Sweet Sixteen in last season's NCAA tournament.

Still, Crean returns Bryant, as well as last year's breakout freshman O.G. Anunoby.

Juan Uribe 'never forgot what it meant to play' for White Sox

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Juan Uribe 'never forgot what it meant to play' for White Sox

In the few times he has returned to U.S. Cellular Field, Juan Uribe always makes sure to enter on 35th and Shields so he can catch a glimpse of his statue.

Even though he’s eight years and five teams removed, Uribe said Tuesday he fondly recalls his time with the White Sox. In a Game 2 victory on Monday, the Cleveland Indians third baseman homered against his former club for the first time ever in 25 career plate appearances.

Making only his third trip to U.S. Cellular since he left the White Sox for the San Francisco Giants in 2009, Uribe received a nice standing ovation when he batted for the first time.

“I never forgot what it meant to play here,” Uribe said. “They see me and for me it’s a lot of happy. I’m just comfortable when I play in Chicago. I’m a lot of happy, too. My family too. My family comes in when I play in Chicago. My family comes in and they come to see me.”

Uribe played five seasons with the White Sox and reached the postseason twice, including in his final season (2008). He since won a World Series with Giants in 2010 and has reached the postseason in each of the last three years, twice with the Los Angeles Dodgers and again with the 2015 New York Mets.

“Some people think I need to hit .300 or I need to hit .400 and then they are looking to win the game,” Uribe said. “When you do win, the city never forgets. The people never forget.

“The money, you can have it. But the win, you always remember. The people always remember what you do for this city. Look at what happened. I go to Chicago, I go to the Giants and they know me. A lot of people, they know Uribe for the World Series. They don’t know Uribe for how much money he’s making.”

Uribe not only enjoyed the warm welcome and the homer, he also had an opportunity to banter with fans above the home dugout throughout the contest. He said they very much remember the critical role he played on the 2005 World Series team, including throwing to first base for the final out of Game 4 — the moment memorialized on the statue.

And that’s why he doesn’t mind taking the long route into the ballpark when he could very easily go through the players’ entrance in left field.

“The fans they never forgot what you do here,” Uribe said. “For me, it’s unbelievable.

“Every time I come to the ballpark, I come that way and I see it. I tell people when they are in Chicago, ‘Go to the front and you’ll see me there.’”

Report: Illini to play VCU in Miami

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Report: Illini to play VCU in Miami

Illinois will be taking on VCU during the 2016-17 basketball season, according to a Tuesday report.

The game won't be played in Illinois or in Virginia, however. It will be played in Miami. For some reason.

Why the game will be played at the home of the NBA's Miami Heat remains to be seen, but it figures to be a tough test for the Illini.

The Rams were in last season's NCAA tournament field, advancing to the Round of 32, where they lost to eventual Final Four participant Oklahoma.

Illinois and VCU have never played each other in men's basketball. The Rams have been one of the more consistently good mid-major programs in recent years, playing in each of the last six NCAA tournaments and reaching the Final Four in 2011.

It was also announced that Illinois will play a non-conference game against North Carolina State as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.