Preps Talk

Frankie O's Blog: Hey Bartender!

Frankie O's Blog: Hey Bartender!

Friday, Feb. 18, 2011
9:30 a.m.
By Frankie O
CSNChicago.com

Being your friendly barkeep requires many different talents, that most of them are hidden is a cross that I must bear. The most obvious attributes of someone who dares to serve alcohol to adults is their appearance and the ability to communicate. Since Im a little challenged in one of those areas, I find the need to over-compensate in the other. (You guess which is which!)

Anyway, being known as the sports guy means that I need to be well versed in the wide world of sports and need to stay current. This enables me to give an opinion when asked, and for some reason, Im asked a lot. Never one to want to disappoint, my Clavinesque knowledge of the days events are a constant cause for concern, at home anyway. Does the word issues ring a bell? Why do I know these things? The ability to share my take though never gets old, and as long as Im the one dispensing the libations, its never WRONG either!

The sudden retirement of Jerry Sloan really resonated with me. It told me how old I am, and maybe how out of touch with todays athletes. For guys like me, Sloan represented the old school approach: Direct, no-nonsense and in your face. What a great way to treat pampered multi-millionaires! Its amazing that he lasted so long, because we know, no players will quit on their coaches faster than NBAers. The one thing that Sloan had besides his unyielding will, was the total support of his owner, Larry Miller, until his passing that is. Short of Phil Jackson, I dont think any NBA coach had more control of his situation. With Miller gone, and the battles with players constant, it looked like he just got worn out. Regardless, I will always look back at him as one of ultimate competitors as a player and coach, in any sport.

The Albert Pujols saga? Speculation is always the most fun game we play, and figuring out where Albert will end up is at the top right now. (Sorry Carmelo Anthony, your story bores me. Wake me when its over.) He is NOT going back to St. Louis. If he is true to his demand to be paid as the games best player, and he is the best player, its not going to happen there. St. Louis believes that he will never be as good as he was during his first ten years, and mathematically, that it probably correct, but he has earned the right to be paid. Add to it that he has been grossly under-paid during the length of his current 7-year deal, and Im convinced that he has been dancing in a towel screaming Show me the money!! at his agent. Who will benefit from this high-stakes game of chicken? Dont look now, but the team that makes the most sense, on so many levels, is your Chicago Cubs. Ill let that thought marinate for a while before I devote about 10,000 words to it in your near future!

Does it get any more fun than Bill Murray winning the pro-am at Pebble Beach? Carl Spackler is an icon to any guy whos ever swung a golf club, in addition to being a big-hitter.long! Im sure there were tears in his eyes as he realized by winning, his playing partner, Cinderella-boy D.A. Points qualified to play at Augusta. Would the par-3 be ready for the two of them? I hear its being played on Briar. Theres a pool and Ikes pond, which is perfect for me! And just because I have to: Its in the hole!! How bout a Fresca?

Interesting move with the Bears Mike Tice. He was as valuable as any person in that organization. Did anyone expect the O-line to play well at all, let alone not get Jay Cutler killed? That being said, I always thought that the etiquette was to let a coach go if he could get an upgrade in responsibility. Keeping him is a smart move. Keeping him and making him happy is even smarter.

Why are people asking me about Tiger spitting? Tiger has never been one for manners on the course, unless that is someone tries to take a picture during his backswing. Glad to see he is trying to act beyond reproach as he tries to fix his image, along with his swing. For the record, I have no problem with spitting on the course, as long as there arent 100 cameras focused on you. And in that case, if you really have to, dont do it on the green. Seems simple enough.

Hey, did you see Peter Forsberg is returning to the NHL? What? He already retired again? Didnt see that coming!! LOL! Kris Versteeg to the Flyers? Nice! GM Paul Holmgren is getting it done, although Im still convinced that my heart is going to get ripped out, AGAIN, but we have plenty of time to talk about that.

Speaking of my heart getting ripped out, those who know me cant wait to mention the Phillies rotation this year. The eternal optimist in me (I heard that!) cant wait for this magical season to start. The realist, (Real Frankie O?) cant wait to see how the lack of right-handed hitting will doom them once again. Im sure the 78 games last year of scoring 3 runs or less was just an aberration. Whatever!

Something that makes me laugh? Mario Lemieuxs indignation at how the NHL handled the fallout of the Penguins-Islander brawl last week. Hey Mario, when you stopped whining, did you stop to consider the irony in your rant due to the fact that you employ one of the top cheap-shot artists in the league in Matt Cooke. Now thats funny, not funny ha-ha, but funny.

Oprah in a sports blog? What? Seems the QB for the Eagles was supposed to appear on her show and has since backed out. I personally think that Michael Vick should talk to her. I just dont think a live audience should be included. Oprah has earned the right to be an inquisitor, most of her audience probably not. In the court of public opinion, I dont think a lot of people believe he has paid enough for his crimes. He should be able to go public, in a forum that crosses over from the comfort of the sports world to do that. It should not include an entire room stacked against him that can interject their opinions without recourse. If he truly wants to walk down the road of redemption, there are more prices to be paid. I think the O would be relentless with her pressure, but would do it with a class that befits someone of her stature. Two more things: I only know how Oprah is because my wife watches her every day and I can hear it in the background. And, I still cant believe I have to become versed in everything Vick, but being an Eagles fan has long since gone beyond normalcy for yours truly.

For something more positive, I could write about the merits of Derrick Rose every day. I hope we all realize how special the metamorphosis we are watching truly is. He will not stop trying to get better. I almost like seeing him have a bad game, because you know he is going to come back with a vengeance. A lot of talk about whether the Spurs game before the break has any additional significance since the San Antonio has the best record in the league. I dont think so, especially since, barring any further injuries, this is not the Bulls team that will have to be reckoned with during the spring. But D-Rose thinks its a big game, so there you go. 42 points, and a 10-point win against the team with the best record in the NBA? I guess it was a statement game and one was made. Gotta love that guy!

Had enough yet? Thought so. Remember, Im always here for you, whether its behind the bar or online. All you have to do is pull up a stool or send me an e-mail at frankieo@harrycarays.com and let er rip. But, you should ALWAYS be careful what you wish for, I have a habit of giving you just a little bit extra!

High School Lites Week 9 football roundup

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High School Lites Week 9 football roundup

High School Lites featured plenty of great action on Friday night as NBC Sports Chicago had highlights of many of the area's top matchups. Some playoff dreams came to fruition while others crashed and burned. 

Watch tomorrow as the IHSA playoff brackets are revealed tomorrow on NBC Sports Chicago+ at 8 p.m. Be sure to also follow us on Twitter @NBCSPreps for all of the latest IHSA football scores and highlights. 

DRIVE: Prairie Ridge: Episode 10

Wintrust Athlete of the Week: Back of the Yards QB Jeremiah Harris

St. Xavier Team of the Week: De La Salle Meteors

Friday's Top 25 Games

No. 1 Lincoln-Way East 18, No. 19 Bolingbrook 14 

No. 2 Prairie Ridge 55, Dundee-Crown 14

No. 3 Maine South 56, Niles West 9

No. 4 Marist 42, Joliet Catholic 14

No. 5 Lake Zurich , Mundelein

No. 6 Phillips 53, Clark 0

No. 9 Homewood-Flossmoor 50, Sandburg 14

No. 10 Barrington 40, Conant 19

No. 11 Huntley 45, McHenry 7

No. 12 Naperville Central 35, Lake Park 21

No. 13 Hinsdale Central 42, Hinsdale South 14

No. 24 St. Charles North 35, No. 14 Batavia 28

No. 16 Wheaton North 20, Waubonsie Valley 10

No. 17 Crete-Monee 52, Cahokia 8

No. 18 St. Rita 47, Marmion 14

No. 20 Lyons 31, Oak Park-River Forest 14

No. 21 Nazareth 48, Marian Catholic 7

No. 22 Oswego 30, Plainfield Central 0

Mount Carmel 35, No. 23 Providence 34

Other Highlights

Tinley Park 29, Evergreen Park 0

T.F. South 21, Oak Forest 14

Glenbard North 24, Neuqua Valley 14

St. Edward 29, Wheaton Academy 28

Marian Central Catholic 44, St. Patrick 21

Saturday's Top 25 Games

No. 7 Loyola vs. Brother Rice

No. 8 Glenbard West vs. Proviso West

Cubs will be open for business as Theo Epstein weighs trading hitters for pitching

Cubs will be open for business as Theo Epstein weighs trading hitters for pitching

Theo Epstein answered questions from the Chicago media for more than an hour on Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field, but the most interesting part might have been what the Cubs president didn’t say, something along the lines of: These are our guys.

Or at least Epstein didn’t give the same full-throated endorsement of The Core that he delivered after engineering the Jose Quintana trade with the White Sox this summer, getting an All-Star pitcher without giving up anyone from the big-league roster.

Whether it’s the way the Los Angeles Dodgers dominated the Cubs throughout the National League Championship Series that ended Thursday night, the inconsistencies and frustrations during a 43-45 first half of this season or the reality of losing 40 percent of the rotation, you walked out of that stadium club press conference thinking big changes could be coming.

“We’re going to pursue all avenues to get better,” Epstein said.

The Cubs already understood this would be a challenging time to dramatically reshape their pitching staff, with Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta, Big Boy John Lackey and All-Star closer Wade Davis about to become free agents.

The Cubs don’t really have many (any?) high-end, headliner prospects left to trade after borrowing heavily from their farm system to acquire Aroldis Chapman for last year’s World Series run and get Quintana to help solidify the rotation through 2020.

All of Major League Baseball is looking beyond this winter and preparing for the monster free-agent class that will hit the open market after the 2018 season.

Meaning it’s time for the Cubs to make some difficult decisions about all these young hitters they’ve collected.

“It may or may not be,” Epstein said. “Those choices, they’re not unilateral things. You can’t sit there and decide: ‘Hey, this guy, we’re moving him.’ Because you don’t know what the return might be. You don’t know how the different moving parts might fit together.

“I think going into the offseason prepared to make some tough choices and execute on them — and keeping an open mind to anything — is appropriate under the circumstances where we have some obvious deficits and we have some real surplus with talented players who are really desirable.”

Let’s assume All-Star first baseman Anthony Rizzo, MVP third baseman Kris Bryant and catcher Willson Contreras are essentially untouchable.

The Cubs used the ninth overall pick in the 2015 draft on Ian Happ with the explicit idea that the college hitter should be on a fast track and could be flipped for pitching later: Is it time to sell high after the rookie just put up 24 homers and an .842 OPS?

During an exit meeting with Albert Almora Jr., Epstein said he couldn’t promise an everyday job in 2018, though the expectation would be more responsibilities: Think anyone else would be interested in a potential Gold Glove center fielder who’s already playoff-tested?

Do you want Addison Russell or Javier Baez as your everyday shortstop for the next four years? Is there an American League team willing to bet big that Kyle Schwarber will crush 40 homers a year as a designated hitter?

The Cubs have to ask themselves those types of questions, which could mean getting outside of their comfort zone and taking on some riskier pitching investments and sapping the strength that has turned them into the dominant force in the NL Central.

“We’ve really benefitted from having two or three extra — and ‘extra’ in quotes because they’re not really extra — starting-caliber players on the roster,” Epstein said. “That helped us win 97 games in ’15, 103 last year, 92 this year. That’s as big a part of the club as anything.

“Having an Addison Russell go down and being able to move Javy Baez to shortstop — that’s an obvious example of it. But those things show up every week for us. There’s a day where someone can’t make the lineup and someone else slides in and you’re still starting eight quality guys. That’s huge.

“Sooner or later, you reach a point where you have to strongly consider sacrificing some of that depth to address needs elsewhere on the club. There’s no sort of deadline to do that. But I think we’re entering the phase where we have to be really open-minded to that if it makes the overall outlook of the team and organization better.”

Translation: The Cubs are open for business. Make your best offer.