Fire

Good old daze

Good old daze

Friday, Aug. 13, 2010
9:41 AM
By Frankie O
CSNChicago.com

As Im sitting here melting in this heat wave, watching my kids, along with some of their cousins and friends, run around in the Crown Fountain, Im struck with the thought that I wish time could stand still. Not so I could sit here drenched like Richard Simmons in one his workout videos, (Is repeatedly opening a refrigerator door really part of a workout?) but to enjoy this gift of a moment that I have been blessed with. Time really does move too fast when youre somewhere you want to be.

Of course, its at this moment that my crackberry starts to vibrate in my pocket, to provide me with a very valuable update about my Roto baseball team, and Im brought back to my senses. Not move forward? Time will move on no matter how hard I try to fight it and whether I want to go along or not. The way things were, is exactly that. I bring this up because I seem to be having a lot of conversations at the bar about kids becoming teenagers, which I will be experiencing very soon, and it becomes more and more apparent to me that, as a father, I might not be emotionally equipped to handle the path Im on. Its at time like these that I use my sports affliction to put things in proper perspective. Life imitates art? Life imitates sports! Like the essence of going to Wrigley, for me, is the time stand still thing. The organ music, the scoreboard and the trough are icons of a time gone by and the experience of each should be treasured. The way things were. But then I go to one of the new baseball palaces and enjoy the replays, the shortness of the concession lines and the barriers. Progress is good! Then there is the information thing. The internet is the best thing for sports, ever!

Being able to find anything I want, related to sports anytime I want, anywhere I want, is the world I need to be a part of! Because without it, how else could I waste two hours scouring the waiver wire to check for the set-up man that is going to make the difference for my Roto team? I mean, hes got to be out there somewhere, isnt he? I wont even mention the subsequent forays in to E-bay to search for a deal on more Sunoco 1972 NFL stamps. Oh, I havent told you about that addiction? Thats another story for another day, since it will take a while, but is being able to find something that meant the world to you when you were 12 at the click of a mouse and in a competitive auction not the coolest thing ever? Again, as time moves on, things get better! Then there are the games and athletes themselves. During football season, I can not live without my DirecTv! Come to think of it, I cant live without it during baseball or hockey season either. I need to be able to watch every game if I want to, paying a small fee of course. But, then there is the part where we know way too much about every athlete today whether we want to or not. The information super highway has turned into the autobahn with guys like Tiger, LeBron and Big Ben. Honestly? Is everything they do off the field of play the story?

I understand, to a point, but when I hear about it every day, I start to get numb. But thats the world we live in, and I guess thats why Im so not ready for my kids to join in. I want old school to be the new cutting edge. Theres something to be learned from the days gone by. Part of the thrill of my DirecTV sports package, is to turn on one of the sports networks and watch a classic. In the last month alone I watched some grainy footage of Joe Montana and my old Dr. J Sixers. (80s footage grainy? Work with me!) Then I realize that those games were played a long time ago. As much as I need to let go, I cant. So I guess sports have shown me the way, once again. Holding on to the past is fine, as long as its in limited doses. Time is going to move on, bringing good and bad along with it and its up to me to keep up.

So as the kids played, without a care in the world, I enjoyed it more than they did, realizing how precious these moments are. These are the times I will remember and hold on to, especially when a certain someone has the car out past curfew and is making my blood boil. (My parents would call that a payback!) Im sure while Im waiting up, by that time Ill be able to watch any game, from any time, from any sport, on-demand and in 3D! So for now, as much as I love the innocence and purity of watching my youngsters play, I realize that soon they will have to enter the world and take it on their own terms. And their old man? Hes going to have to deal with the fact that no time lasts forever, in life and sports, even if I can pull up both on my smart phone.

As Fire near playoffs, Bastian Schweinsteiger's immediate and long-term futures are in question

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USA TODAY

As Fire near playoffs, Bastian Schweinsteiger's immediate and long-term futures are in question

Bastian Schweinsteiger has delivered on the promise of a big name star since joining the Fire in late March. He has produced on the field, drawn lots of attention to the club, the team has won enough to get into its first postseason since 2012 and, until recently, he stayed healthy.

However, the 33-year-old German has played 19 minutes in the previous six matches and told reporters on Wednesday that he will not play in the regular season finale in Houston on Sunday. He missed four straight matches with a calf injury before returning against New York City FC on Sept. 30 for a substitute appearance.

Schweinsteiger left practice early with what appeared to be a reaggravation of the injury on Oct. 4 and now it is known that will cost him at least two games. With the playoff picture still in flux (the Fire can finish anywhere from second to fifth in the Eastern Conference), the Fire could potentially face a three-day turnaround and travel after the Houston game or could have a first-round bye. Keeping Schweinsteiger fresher for that crunch of games could end up being a good thing, but it also runs the risk of his match fitness not being at 100 percent for the postseason.

Beyond the postseason, Schweinsteiger dropped this tease of a nugget to the Daily Herald's Orrin Schwarz just an hour before Fire general manager Nelson Rodriguez spoke with reporters for almost an hour at Toyota Park.

Schweinsteiger, who was not at training, was autographing memorabilia in the form of soccer balls, posters and jerseys. Chicago Red Stars fans may get a kick out of the fact that Schweinsteiger was wearing a Red Stars hoodie.

Initially, the club said Schweinsteiger signed a one-year contract with a mutual option. Later in the day, when asked about Schweinsteiger's future, Rodriguez said the mutual option doesn't have a set number attached to it.

"That would require a negotiation," Rodriguez said. "It was mutual in a sense of we didn’t want either party to feel bound without having had the year of experience to draw on. From our perspective, our experience has been extraordinarily positive with Bastian. We think he’s delivered across all of our expectations and we hope that we have delivered against his expectations.”

So in essence, there is no mutual option. Schweinsteiger and the Fire have to come to terms again on a deal for the German to return in 2018. That's not to say Schweinsteiger can't come back, but there's nothing in writing that binds the two together for next season.

Rodriguez said talks have only begun in the very preliminary stages at this point.

“The most that Basti and I have done is, both said, hey this has gone pretty well." Rodriguez said. "You like it. I like it... So I think we want to remain with our original plan. It was to look to have the hard discussions at the end of the season. My view is in-season negotiations always prove to be a distraction, whether to the player or to me. There can be a team element if it becomes public.

"I don’t want to speak for Basti, but from what we’ve gleaned and what he shared with us, he and (wife) Ana (Ivanovic) are very comfortable in the city. They love it. I think he’s really enjoyed the locker room, the guys, the support of the fans. I think he’s really taken to the challenge of Major League Soccer. I think the signs are positive, but again we would prefer to have the season close before finalizing anything.”

Why the Bears' gameplan for Mitchell Trubisky is working well

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USA Today

Why the Bears' gameplan for Mitchell Trubisky is working well

The Bears’ gameplan for Mitchell Trubisky was controlled against the Baltimore Ravens, with offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains only calling 20 passing plays on Sunday. And that’s hardly a problem. 

Not only did the Bears win with Trubisky mostly handing the ball off, but the gameplan accomplished a goal just as important for the future of the franchise. It was part of the slow, deliberate development of a rookie quarterback who only started 13 games in college and doesn’t have a big-time receiving target or two (like DeAndre Hopkins or Will Fuller) on which to lean. 

“I think they’re giving him a chance to develop,” Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. “They’re not throwing him to the wolves. You can get out and have him throw 45 passes and get crushed, or you can do what you’re doing right now and be very methodical and very direct.

“…  If you ask a young guy to throw the ball 40 times and you expect to win, that’s going to be very difficult. So I think what they’re trying to do and how they’re trying to develop this guy, shoot, believe me, I think the young man’s got a chance.” 

Beyond the playcalling Sunday — 50 runs between Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen — the design of the offense gave Trubisky the best chance to win the game. No quarterback had more time to throw in Week 6 than Trubisky (3.49 seconds, according to NFL Next Gen Stats), which makes sense given the rollouts and boots called for him. But for a rookie in Trubisky who needs improvement with blitz recognition, Loggains found a way to give him more time to scan the field and make a decision than any other quarterback last week. 

And what Trubisky did with all that time was not force anything. Only Green Bay’s Brett Hundley threw a lower percentage of aggressive passes (defined by NFL Next Gen Stats as when a defender is within one yard or less of a receiver at the time of completion or incompletion) than Trubisky, who only threw one of his 16 passes into tight coverage. That was a point of emphasis for the rookie six days after Harrison Smith baited him into a crippling interception. 

“Sometimes the best play is a throwaway,” Trubisky said. “So it’s just coming down to me learning, continue to stay aggressive; wanting to get a completion every time, but being smart and knowing when I need to throw the ball away and live to play another down.”

Loggias, in describing Trubisky, used the “M” word: 

“I thought he did a really good job managing the game and playing like he had to,” Loggains said. “He was still aggressive. He wasn’t, and I hate the term ‘manage’ but he was playing the way he needed to play to win that game.”

The Bears hoped Mike Glennon could be a game manager, of course. But the offensive strategy they’re deploying now isn’t necessarily the same as they one they used with Glennon — Trubisky has the ability to be a playmaker, as he showed when he evaded pressure and found Kendall Wright for a pivotal 18-yard completion in overtime. That was that aforementioned one pass he threw into tight coverage against the Ravens. 

But the Bears’ best skill position players are running backs Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen, unless a receiver emerges from the group of Tanner Gentry, Tre McBride, Josh Bellamy, an injured Markus Wheaton and Wright (the latter of whom Loggains said is at his best when he’s taking 25-30 snaps per game). The offensive line has improved with continuity over the last few weeks. This is a team that’s strength is in running the football, not in its quarterback play. 

Eventually, the Bears will open up the offense for Trubisky (getting a big-bodied receiver who can win against tight man coverage would help) as he gains experience, and the strength of the offense can be in its quarterback play. But if the goal is to bring a young quarterback along while giving the team a chance to win, then the offensive gameplan is working. 

“As a quarterback, you want to be throwing the ball, but as a competitor and leader of this team, you're going to do whatever it takes to win,” Trubisky said. “And if it's running the ball, if it's passing the ball, whatever it is, that's what we're going to do. I didn't feel any type of way at all about how many times we ran it, how many times we passed it, just excited to come away with the win and how we stuck together, and came away with that win, so it was awesome to see.”