After a rough 2012, with the tragic ACL injury to Derrick Rose, the Bears once again missing the playoffs, the Blackhawks losing in the first round of the playoffs for the second consecutive year, and the Cubs & Sox never ceasing to disappoint. 2013 would be an asshole if it was not an improvement of some sort, right? Well, as a lifelong Chicago sports fan I am optimistic, although it is January, there is a lot to be optimistic about.
I’ll begin with my least favorite sport and the teams that I have the least interest in, baseball with the Cubs and White Sox. The White Sox were in playoff contention going down the stretch last season but they gave up the division to the Tigers after being 3 games ahead of the them at one point. The Sox don’t look too hot on paper but they showed a lot of resiliency last season and there really isn’t any reason to expect different as we approach Spring training. At least the Sox can say they won a World Series title this millennium.
This is where I get aggravated, the Chicago Cubs, now I was raised a Cubs fan because of my grandfather, my dad, and Sammy Sosa was all we had in Chicago sports after Jordan retired and before the White Sox won the World Series. The Cubs have not improved much, Anthony Rizzo and the resume of Theo Epstein gives you hope for the future but in the present I would not be surprised if we get another 100-loss season. Even the Cubs as an organization is predicting the failure in the team because they have plans to begin Femway-like renovations on Wrigley Field starting as soon as October. They plan on renovating the concourses & the outer facade, add restaurants, update club-level seating, expand suite level, completely renovating the home clubhouse & batting tunnels, expand dugouts, and add patio areas to left and center fields & a new “Home Plate Club”.
You know a team is in for a rough run when renovations to their home field are scheduled to begin at the end of the regular season.
I began watching hockey in the midst of the Blackhawks’ 2010 Stanley Cup hunt and have been a casual fan every since. I watch games here-and-there, not nearly as much as I watch football and basketball, but much more than I watch baseball. After following the Blackhawks for the past few years, I have witnessed many inconsistencies that they suffer from, one obviously being goal-tending and the other being defense against the power play & scoring on the power play. So far this season, as they start off 6-1, they have shown vast improvements in those areas; especially Corey Crawford and his goal-tending. To see the Blackhawks start off 6-0 and just dominating teams, including the reigning champion L.A. Kings, has the city excited for another possible championship run. I hope they take advantage of this shortened season and keep the gain a momentum that rolls into the playoffs.
My personal favorite sports team is the Chicago Bulls, I have been a religious fan since the second 3-peat and I remained an avid viewer through the Ron Mercer-era. So, when Derrick Rose was drafted in 2008 I was beyond engulfed but I hated Vinny Del Negro for refusing to play him because he was a rookie. Luckily, Vinny just lasted 2 season then Thibodeau came in and Derrick had an MVP season and carried the Bulls to the Eastern Conference Finals even with Keith Bogans in the staring lineup. Last year with an improved roster with Richard Hamilton instead of Keith Bogans the Bulls were expected to still contend for a championship. Although Rip wasn’t Rip of old and he was injury proned he was still better than Keith Bogans. But Derrick Rose was injury-stricken the entire season and Luol Deng suffered from a torn ligament in his wrist throughout the entire season. Despite all of those downfalls the Bulls not only made the playoffs, but they had the best record in the NBA and Derrick Rose was back and healthy for the playoffs. At the end of the 4th quarter of the first game of the first round of the playoffs Derrick Rose went down with a torn ACL and later in that same playoff series Joakim Noah went down with an ankle injury, so the Bulls failed to advance to the second round. After that horribly disappointing season the Bulls off-season on top of Derrick Rose predictably missing the majority of the 2012-13 season, most Bulls were skeptical that the Bulls would be a sub-.500 team but quite the contrary. Despite the loss of Omer Asik, Kyle Korver, C.J. Watson, and Ronnie Brewer the Bulls now sit at 28-17. This is because of two things: Tom Thibodeau’s defensive minded system and Gar Forman & the Bulls’ front office’s ability to draft/acquire players of the same breed. They brought in players with no egos, coach-able, and mature individuals. Tom Thibodeau does not play rookies, we saw that with Jimmy Butler last year and we see that now with Marquis Teague now, but the Bulls have evidently been sitting on a jewel, Jimmy Butler, all this time Bulls fans (including myself) have been bitching about getting a wing guard that can run with Derrick and create his own shot, while all last year he was sitting on the bench gaining experience and knowledge. I watch Jimmy Butler and I see the future of the Bulls with him, Derrick, and Joakim (I love Luol Deng but he is probably the most trade-able piece the Bulls have being a 2-time All-Star). I look at this team as is and with Derrick Rose coming back and they look like the best team in the East Conference as long as Derrick can be about at 85%.
DA BEARSSSSS!!! Yeah, yeah, yeah, the be-all and end-all of Chicago sports, this team probably gets the most flack out of any Chicago sports team and the most love but I am about to give them a lot of love right now. After a very disappointing season I sat back and thought, there were just too many high expectations. The Bears acquire Brandon Marshall and Michael Bush, who were great additions, but the offensive line did not improve whatsoever and Devin Hester is still in the wide receiver corps. The idea of Devin Hester being a wide receiver needs to come to an end now. The firing of Lovie Smith was kind of displeasing because he has done so much for this organization with so little, I felt that he deserved to finish his contract but I also didn’t believe he should have signed another contract all of those years ago.With the new Marc Trestman regime I am expecting a big change of an offensive minded team with that veteran-based defense still being elite. Marc Trestman is known for his ability to help quarterback reach their potential and Jay Cutler has more than enough potential & talent to be an elite quarterback. I think the young Alshon Jeffery will be an extreme boosts for this off-season, I look at him and Brandon Marhsall to be like Roddy White and Julio Jones. There is not an adjective that can explain the atrocious play of the Bears’ offensive line and when Lance Louis went down it was even worse. I have faith in Phil Emery because that move to pick up Brandon Marshall was just incredible and the interviewing process for a new head coach showed me that he wanted the best coach to be a leader of men and improve this offense, so I am confident that he will improve the Bears’ offensive line and tight end situations. With those improvements to those specifics areas and forbidding Devin Hester to be a Bears wide receiver, I think these Bears can live up to expectations of last year; which is to be a playoff team and a championship contender. I am expecting nothing less, there is too much talent and potential for anything less.