Archive for December, 2006

gator-bait-movie.jpg

It’s only a few days until we ring in the New Year, which means it’s also time for the BCS bowls. Last year featured a pretty good lineup of games, but this season leaves a whole lot to be desired as evidenced by the touchdown-or-more point spreads with the exception of the Rose Bowl. Regardless, here are my BCS bowl picks against the spread:

(1) Rose Bowl: Michigan (+1) over USC – As an Illinois fan whose continuous dream is to one day be able to spend New Year’s Day in Pasadena to watch the Orange and Blue compete, it’s going to be strange to see a Rose Bowl where both participants are utterly disappointed to be there with USC blowing a chance to be in the national championship game on the last day of the regular season and Michigan feeling jipped by the BCS system. The Wolverines have a bit more of a chip on their shoulders and the defense is simply stifling, so I’m giving Michigan the edge in what will probably be the closest of any of the BCS matchups.

(2) Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma (-7) over Boise State – The Smurf Turf won’t be in place at the Pink Taco, nor will it be able to stop the return of Adrian Peterson. With the Rose Bowl and a couple of intriguing Big Ten vs. SEC contests with Penn State – Tennessee in the Outback Bowl and Wisconsin – Arkansas in the Capital One Bowl already occurring earlier in the day, I can’t think of a less enticing capper to New Year’s Day.

(3) Orange Bowl: Wake Forest (+10) over Louisville – The over/under on the number of minutes into this game where I’ll be wishing for that Oklahoma – Boise State matchup: 12. I foresee Louisville prevailing in terms of the final score, but this spread is way too large for a subpar defense that played a Big East schedule. Take the points here.

(4) Sugar Bowl: LSU (-9) over Notre Dame – The Tigers are playing a virtual home game in the Superdome with a charged up fanbase celebrating the Sugar Bowl’s return to New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina disaster. Meanwhile, the Irish continue to be perpetually overrated despite failing in every single true challenge they’ve faced over the past two seasons (USC twice, Ohio State in last year’s Fiesta Bowl, Michigan this year). Give the points here.

(5) BCS National Championship Game: Florida (+7) over Ohio State – Ohio State is winning this game, but I’m wary of the 7-point spread here considering that the Buckeyes only beat Michigan by 3 (granted, that game wasn’t as close as the final score) with a huge home field advantage in Columbus. (Sidenote: While the Florida basketball team ended up pounding Greg Oden and Ohio State in Gainesville last Saturday, we could very well end up with the national championship games in both football and basketball this year featuring the same 2 schools, not the mention the fact that the Gators could end up holding both championships at the same time if they prevail in Glendale. The 2001 Illini exacta of appearances in the Elite Eight and Sugar Bowl seems like eons ago.) The Ohio State defense is going to bend enough against Chris Leak and company where the game is going to be closer than what the prognosticators are saying right now. However, I’m as big of a believer in Troy Smith as anyone, so the Buckeyes are going to pull it out even though they won’t win it for the gamblers out there.

Enjoy the bowl games along with, in the NFL’s infinite wisdom, a prime time New Year’s Eve game between the Bears and Packers, which combined with the regular host of yahoos in downtown Chicago on that evening makes sleeping in the Primate House at the Lincoln Park Zoo a more appealing and certainly safer alternative. That being said, if you need to get rid of your tickets, feel free to call me up.

Happy New Year everyone!

(Image from MovieGoods.com)

About these ads

Reason number 1,015 to be thankful this holiday season for YouTube: Getting to see footage of “John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together” for the first time since my family’s old VHS copy of the iconic TV special became too scratched two decades ago.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to Everyone!

(This and a ton of other clips are on the Frank the Tank Channel on YouTube.)

tank-johnson-mugshot.jpg

The Bears survived and pulled out a game that should have never been close yesterday against the Tampa Bay Bucs.  However, there were a couple of consolations from the medicore performance aside from the obvious fact that the Bears have clinched home field advantage throughout the playoffs.  First, Sexy Rexy was back in form throwing for over 300 yards along with with 3 TD passes.  Second, and more importantly, no matter how weak the Bears might be with a decimated front line as a result of the losses of Tommie Harris and our honorary Cincinnati Bengal Tank Johnson (more on him later on), the NFC is so craptacular that we might back right into a Super Bowl berth.  There’s no shame in this, considering that 2006 has seen the St. Louis Cardinals getting hot at the right time and winning the World Series after barely making the postseason representing the truly awful National League and the Miami Heat clinching an NBA championship coming out of the miserable Eastern Conference.  By the way, have you looked at the NBA East standings lately, particularly the Atlantic Division, which might obliterate the 2005 NL West’s title as the worst division in sports history?  It’s as if the entire conference caught Isiah Thomas Disease (additional thoughts on him later, too).  As a result, “Back That Ass Up” is my motto for the Bears and Bulls this season.  Anyway, here are the links for the day:

(1) Chicago Has Cubs, Bears, Bulls, AND Blackhawks (ESPN.com) – Linda Cohn, for all intents and purposes, is a solid broadcaster.  However, in the course of pointing out that Chicagoans ought to be paying a little more attention to the success of the Hawks since team legend Denis Savard came on board as head coach, she herself should perform some due diligence after neglecting to mention that other professional sports team in Chicago – you know, the one that won the World Series last year.

(2) Guns, Drugs, Tank and a Death (Fleece the Pig, Flog the Pony) - As Frank the Tank, I had been thinking about getting a Tank Johnson Bears jersey for awhile, particularly since he spells out his name “Tank Johnson” in its entirety on the back.  At this point, though, I’m going to have an easier time finding a “Ron Mexico” Falcons jersey.

(3) We’ll Keep Looking Both Ways (Chicagoist) – The City of Chicago is going to attempt to advance the notion that pedestrians do, in fact, have rights.  I don’t think this is going to go over well.

(4) Knicks – Nuggets Brawl (YouTube) - Footage from the fight between the Knicks and Nuggets at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, including the ill-advised punch thrown by Carmelo Anthony.  I’m still in search of video from Isiah Thomas’ instant classic postgame press conference where he was complaining about how Denver kept its starters in at the end of the game when they had over a 20-point lead.  He’s right on the money: putting in your starters to play against the Knicks at anytime is just not a fair match.

(5) Turnovers Will Be Critical vs. Mizzou (Mark Tupper Weblog) - The Illini have got all of their starters back, but they’ll need to cut down on the turnovers in the Braggin’ Rights Game tomorrow evening.

And finally…

(6) The Great Leprechaun Hunt (Minneapolis Red Sox) – I don’t care how busy you are today.  You absolutely positively MUST watch this video.  You’ll thank Minneapolis Red Sox a million times for finding such a gem.

(Image from Scout.com

birthday-cake.gif

It’s difficult to believe, but the first two posts on Frank the Tank’s Slant were put up for posterity one year ago today. Since then, you’ve witnessed a steady stream of bloviations from me along with Land-o-Links (my device to comment on numerous items from around the web that don’t warrant full-fledged posts), classic music videos (with a heavy emphasis on old school hip-hop and monster arena rock), and maybe even a different take on the world of sports and news every once in awhile.

Despite becoming a fairly active blogger, I’m not one of those people that believes that blogs will completely turn the media landscape on its head. In my mind, there’s still an important role for “old media” such as newspapers and television to look at events and issues without the colored commentary that inherently accompanies blogs). However, I do think that blogs give the opportunity for yeomen such as myself to stake out places in this flattened world that were previously only the domain of an exclusive media elite while also finally providing exposure to some of the best writers anywhere, including those Slant readers out there that blog themselves.

So, in honor of the first anniversary of Frank the Tank’s Slant, here’s a look back at my 15 favorite posts from the past year, ranked in ascending order, that range from thoughts on the world of sports to political election strategies and television scheduling with some updated comments and observations:

(15) Football vs. Football: College or Pro? (August 16, 2006) – A point-by-point comparison of college football and the NFL, with me giving the college game a slight edge. Of course, I noted that this was a debate comparable to deciding “whether it was more shocking to find out that Liberace was gay versus Lance Bass – if there’s any answer at all, we’re definitely splitting hairs here.” At the same time, I have a zealous hatred of the current BCS system, which has been outlined on this blog a number of times.

(14) Demons Dog the Irish (January 9, 2006) – Regular readers can easily observe that I’m a devoted and frequent writer on the happenings at my undergraduate alma mater of the University of Illinois, but this post featured a rarer instance when I focused on the basketball program at my law school alma mater of DePaul in the wake of my attendance at its inaugural Big East game against rival Notre Dame.

(13) The Yellow Rose Bowl of Texas: My BCS Bowl Picks (December 26, 2005) - I absolutely nailed 3 out of the 4 games right down to a “Penn State will win but not cover” prediction while being comforted that no one that dates outside of his or her own family could have possibly bet money that West Virginia would have beaten Georgia straight-up in a virtual home game at the Georgia Dome. That initial success only a couple weeks after starting this blog emboldened me to make predictions on a regular basis in all of the major sports, which have turned out to be all completely wrong and boneheaded.

(12) Non-Stop TV Seasons Need to be Adopted Everywhere (April 24, 2006) – With ABC changing the scheduling of “Lost” this year, it seems as though the television networks are beginning to heed my calls to get out of its “sweeps feast vs. non-sweeps famine” cycle. They’re about a decade too late to stem the tide to alternative forms of entertainment, but it’s a start.

(11) No Need for an Apology from the Daily Illini (February 14, 2006), The Daily Illini Needs to Apologize for Something Else (February 15, 2006), More Thoughts From Minneapolis Red Sox and Frank the Tank on the Daily Illini (February 16, 2006) – A trilogy of posts on the controversy that surrounded the Daily Illini’s decision to print the Danish cartoons that were the impetus for deadly riots across the Muslim world. The “More Thoughts” post is one of my favorites as the product of a back-and-forth email discussion between my buddy Minneapolis Red Sox and me, particularly since it revealed some surprising views from the “Siberia, Minnesota” writer as a former newspaper reporter.

(10) Springtime for Kiper on Broadway (April 28, 2006) - My pre-NFL Draft thoughts that explained why I love the event so much and predicted the eventual decision of the Bears to trade out of the first round. The follow-up post after the draft had a scathing criticism of the Bears’ moves, but I have since admitted that I was completely wrong, particularly about special teams sage and my new man crush Devin Hester.

(9) Frank the Tank’s Great All-You-Can-Eat Buffets of Chicago (July 14, 2006) - All-you-can-eat is all-that-I-need.

(8) Big Ten from Eleven to Twelve? If There’s No Luck of the Irish, Bring in More Orange (March 5, 2006) - The types of posts that I enjoy writing the most are about wonky sports business and law subjects. At least from my perspective, while there are multitudes of people in the blogosphere that break down the games on the field on a daily basis (and do it very well), there’s a dearth of perspectives on the off-the-field matters, so I attempt to fill that gap from time-to-time. On the particular subject of big Ten expansion, I’m from the camp that the conference should only expand to 12 teams if it means that it’s maximizing its national footprint, which means the 2 real choices for the conference are either Notre Dame (unparalleled in terms of national exposure) or Syracuse (a strong East Coast counterpart for Penn State). As a result, I pass this post along everytime I hear suggestions for Pittsburgh (market already covered by Penn State), West Virginia (an even smaller market), or Missouri (besides the practical matter of whether it would worth it to secede from the Big 12, Illinois already covers the St. Louis market).

(7) The Bears Are Who They Thought They Were! (October 17, 2006) - This was written on only a couple of hours of sleep since I was completed wired after the Bears’ Monday Night comeback against the Cardinals. Regardless of my writing, the YouTube clip of the uncensored Dennis Green press conference is going to be the subject of mutiple NFL Films specials years from now.

(6) The Mason Midmajor Myth (April 6, 2006) - At the time that this post was written, my Billy Packer-esque sentiment was about as popular as, well, Billy Packer himself. However, I still believe that George Mason’s run to the Final Four was the peak of the midmajors as opposed to the start of any trend. We’ll see how this college basketball season will play out.

(5) The Lonely Libertarian: A View From a Disaffected Republican (November 10, 2006) – A rare post from me that was dedicated solely to politics (and I explained exactly why I haven’t written much about the political arena despite my deep interest in the subject). The output here was a bit long-winded yet long overdue as a result of a whole lot of pent-up frustration. Simply put, if the Republicans don’t pay attention to people such as myself, they’re going to lose even more ground in 2008 than they did in this year’s midterm elections.

(4) Chi-Town vs. Motown: Rivalries Across the Board (July 19, 2006) – After the sports business posts, my second favorite broad topic to write about is the nature of rivalries. The analysis of the Chicago-Detroit rivalries was something that I brewed over for months before I finally got down to writing it since there’s much more involved than just a single major rivalry between two particular teams such as the Bears vs. Packers.

(3) Hoosier Fleecing: A Q&A with Frank the Tank on the Eric Gordon Debacle (October 16, 2006) - The most widely read post that I’ve had on this blog to date due to links from Deadspin and numerous other sites from across the blogosphere along with continued interest in the story. As you can probably tell, the emotions were extremely raw at the time. Even though I’ve clamed down a bit, Satan’s Spawn, er, Kelvin Sampson, is going to need to wear some SWAT team gear if he wants to survive his visit the real Assembly Hall in Champaign on January 23rd.

(2) The Best of Both Worlds: A Modest Proposal for a College Football Playoff That Keeps the Bowls (July 28, 2006) - As long as the BCS school presidents continue to support the current bowl system, this post will stand the test of time. My college football playoff proposal wasn’t necessarily the most original idea (I’ve seen variations of the playoff/bowl hybrid before), but I did want to set forth a system that would give incentives for the BCS conferences to implement it as opposed to the standard calls for an NCAA Tournament-style format, which the powers that be will never go for. In the wake of this year’s Michigan-Florida debacle, it’s time to get this done.

(1) The Paranoia of Illini Nation (December 15, 2005) - This was the issue that spurred me to begin this blog and was my first real substantive post. Even though the Eric Gordon reference is obviously now dated, it’s still my favorite piece of writing as it combines my emotional love for the Illini with an attempt to step back from the proverbial chip on the shoulder that seems to plague our fan base.

I hope that you enjoyed this look back on the recent past and get ready for a sophomore year that hopefully won’t have a slump!

kanye-west-touch-the-sky.jpg

I apologize for the dearth of posts over the last few days. It’s been a little crazy around here because (a) a horrible tragedy occurred in my office building this past Friday and (b) the small IT consulting firm that I work for as an attorney just got bought out by a monster computer company. As a result, a lot things around me have been put into perspective rather quickly. Regardless, a special post is coming on Friday to mark an important milestone for Frank the Tank’s Slant. Until then, here are some links:

(1) Is The Zooker Setting Himself Up For Failure? (Bored At Life) – This is the opposite of the soft bigotry of low expectations for Ron Zook.

(2) Our Interview With John Rocker (Deadspin) - Will Leitch’s fascinating interview with someone who still manages to be one of the world’s most prominent jackasses.

(3) Knievel Sues Kanye Over ‘Touch the Sky’ Video (Billboard) (from Minneapolis Red Sox) – Evel Knievel doesn’t like black people.

(4) Devin Hester Will Soon Have a Restraining Order Against Us (Foul Balls) - Alright, so I’ve gone from wondering what Jerry Angelo was thinking during the NFL Draft in drafting Hester to having an all-out man crush on the guy at this point.

(5) Flying Mammal Found From 125 Million Years Ago (New York Times) - Before there were pigeons, there were literally rats with wings.

(6) ‘Girls Gone Wild’ Producer Sentenced (Chicago Tribune) - Hooked by the jail bait!

(7) Don’t Question The Answer (Bill Simmons) - I agree with the Sports Guy’s general sentiment that Allen Iverson has gotten a relatively negative rap over the years, particularly about the overblow “Practice?!” comments. On the court, A.I. is as tough of a warrior as anyone even though he’s often the smallest guy on the floor. Should the Bulls enter the derby for The Answer? Despite the points from Chicagoist arguing against such a scenario, putting Iverson in with Ben Wallace and Kirk Hinrich would probably make the Bulls the unequivocal favorites out of the Eastern Conference immediately (plus the window for the team to take it to the proverbial next level with Wallace is looking shorter and shorter everyday). Therefore, if the Bulls would be able to swing a deal with Philly, I would be all for it.

And finally…

(8) The KSK Guide To Making The Yuletide Even Gayer (Kissing Suzy Kolber) – A nice little primer to the holiday season.

(Image from The Fader)

kenny-williams-white-sox.jpg

Due to time constraints, Frank the Tank’s Classic Music Video of the Week will go on a brief hiatus until after the holidays. In the meantime, though, here are some links to warm you up:

(1) Thoughts on ’07 and Beyond: Defending Kenny Williams (Chi-Sox Blog) – Jeeves has a spirited defense of the moves that Kenny Williams and the White Sox have been making or planning to make this offseason. It might very well turn out that the Freddy Garcia trade to the Phillies will work out in the long-term. However, what concerns me as a White Sox fan in general is that just when it seemed as though the organization was turning the corner to spend the resources that would befit a team that is located in the nation’s third-largest media market, Jerry Reinsdorf seems to be reverting back to the notion that his club is really the equivalent of a small-market franchise and must reign in spending accordingly. Not too long ago, I argued that Reinsdorf was one of the best owners in sports and couldn’t really have been blamed for not spending frivolously in the manner of George Steinbrenner or Tom Hicks. However, when the Sox ended up selling out a majority of their games in 2006 along with gaining increased income from its partial stake in Comcast SportsNet Chicago, it’s tough to justify the team pinching pennies again.

(2) At Rams’ Field, Two Sponsors For One Night Only (Wall Street Journal) – Naming rights are so nice, let’s do it twice!

(3) Rental Turf War Escalates (Chicagoist) - This is what passes for gang warfare in Lakeview.

(4) Valet Confidential (Chicago Tribune) - Where your car ends up when you hand the keys over to the valet in the city.

(5) Can Someone Put a Leash on Gumbel? (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel) - As one of the five people in the country that actually receives the NFL Network, I have to agree with poker commentator extraordinaire Norman Chad on the terror known as Bryant Gumbel’s announcing skills.  It’s a shame that Cris Collinsworth, who I believe is the best football color man in the industry, has to be paired with such an abomination.  This is also disappointing since I’ve been a fan of pretty much everything else that the NFL Network has done this year, including Sunday highlight shows that are vastly superior to the offerings from ESPN and the other networks.  With the use of the guy that looks like Malcom X compared to Wayne Brady, I almost (heavy emphasis on the almost) want to hear Joe Buck’s voice again.

(6) The DePaul/Illini Connection (Fleece the Pig, Flog the Pony) - As an alum of both of these schools, I couldn’t have said it better myself.

(7) Rex Grossman Eats Tainted Pork? (Critical Sports Blog) - Rex might need to lay off of the Taco Bell.

And finally…

(8) What We Thought Was Cool… (Chronically Insane) – A true blast from the past from Chronically Insane about a film that I hadn’t thought about in years.

krispy-kreme-doughnuts.jpg

New Yorkers better grab those Krispy Kremes quickly, as you’ll see when you take a look at today’s links:

(1) New York Bans Most Trans Fats in Restaurants (New York Times) – Horrifically, Chicago also has plans to ban all food that tastes good.

(2) Rex Grossman – Freakin’ Exhausting (Ron Karkovice Fan Club) – The following is my personal letter to Rex posted on my fantasy football league message board as I released him for (gulp) Jeff Garcia:

“Dear Rex,

You have broken me. I can’t take it anymore. Not only do you make me rack my brain while watching the Bears, my favorite team, but you’ve also tanked my fantasy team when I needed you most in the wake of Donovan McNabb’s season-ending injury. One can only take such a double emotional beating on a weekly basis. Therefore, I have to painfully say goodbye.”

(3) Fight Was Right, Even If The Result Wasn’t (Mark Tupper Weblog) - The undermanned Illini didn’t look too bad against my sleeper national championship pick of Arizona on Saturday, but there’s still a whole lot of work to do. After a relatively tough week, Illinois gets to come back to the Assembly Hall to play against one of the great pronounciations of an acronym in IUPUI.

(4) Sox’s Talks Center on Rays’ Baldelli (Chicago Tribune) - One thing for White Sox GM Kenny Williams to think about: Rocco Baldelli invariably breaks a limb within three weeks of every Opening Day. He’s the Italian baseball version of Grant Hill.

(5) On Notice: Fiasco Edition (mgoblog) - Pure Michigan anger (and it’s all justifiable).

(6) Perhaps She Has Chosen The Wrong Extracurricular Activity (Deadspin) – Well, Michigan will have at least one person cheering for them at the Rose Bowl. USC cheerleaders, bless their hearts, are so accomodating.

(7) The Perfect Storm (Siberian Baseball) - LaTroy Hawkins in Coors Field. Mull that thought over for a moment.

(8) Wham, Bam, Thank You, Sam (Chicago Sun-Times) - Sammy Mejia and my law school alma mater of DePaul proudly defended the honor of my undergraduate alma mater on Saturday by beating up Bill Self in his first return to the state of Illinois since leaving the Illini twisting in the wind.

(9) Great Games Make It Harder To Blog Since There’s Nothing To Bitch About (Blog-a-Bull) – Have the Bulls finally turned a corner in the wake of the Ben Wallace headband madness?

And finally…

(10) Rock Group Nice Peter Explains Song ’50 Cent is a Pussy’ (AllHipHop.com) – Over/under on the number of days before the members of Nice Peter are found buried underneath the Meadowlands: 2.

lloyd-carr.jpg

Hypothetical matchups are the nexus of great debates in sports. Would the ’85 Bears have crushed the ’72 Dolphins? How would have a pre-incarcerated Muhammad Ali have fared against a pre-incarcerated Mike Tyson? If Isiah Thomas and Matt Millen traded places with their respective GM jobs, would either the Knicks or Lions really be any worse off?

These hypothetical debates are fun to engage in because they are just that: hypothetical. There’s no chance that any of these scenarios could ever happen. The defenders of the current BCS system, however, would have you believe that the fact that sports fans can engage in these types of debates every year is somehow a great thing for college football. All of the chatter on television, blogs, and websites this morning on the BCS picking Florida over Michigan as Ohio State’s opponent in the national championship game, in the eyes of the current system’s proponents, supposedly drives interest in the game.

Simply put, this is insane. For all of pitfalls in the modern sports world, the one positive attribute at the center of it all is that it’s the closest thing that we have in society to a true meritocracy. It doesn’t matter in sports whether you grew up rich or poor, went to a tiny junior college or an Ivy League university, or had any type of legacy or affirmative action preference. In sports, you either have the right combination of effort and talent to win or you don’t because it’s played out to an unambiguous result on the field – plain and simple.

Of course, the one exception to this notion is college football, where sportswriters with receding hairlines, coaches with clear conflicts of interest, and computers that make judgment calls without ever being able to witness a game control which teams get to play for the national championship. I’ve advocated a change to a playoff-bowl hybrid that would cause minimal disruption and climb over the financial and scheduling obstacles that are currently in place (it’s not perfect, but since the BCS schools would secede from the NCAA before adopting an NCAA Tournament-style playoff for football, I believe that my proposal is the next best thing), yet all that we hear from the university presidents and BCS backers are the same tired excuses that these ridiculous debates increase interest in college football. For every instance where the BCS lucks out by getting two undefeated teams at the end of the season, such as last year with Texas and USC, there are several times where there are multiple one-loss teams in the mix and it comes down to arbitrary factors to choose participants.

I’m just repeating the same argument that is circulating everywhere, but there are few things that I know of that are more idiotic than the powers-that-be in college football refusing to institute some type of playoff when the vast majority of fans are screaming for it and the schools would make tons of money off of it. I don’t want to sitting here a year from now engaging in the same pride-swallowing exercise of actually arguing for and defending a school such as the University of Michigan, yet something tells me I’m in for some deja vu in the future.