Chicago Sports – Not Great Bob!

I’m not sure anyone would have predicted how poorly all of the Chicago sports teams would do this year. It was just a few years ago that the Cubs were kicking butt, the BlackHawks had just won the Cup, and the Bears…still had a ways to go. They looked great last year though and seemed like they might be turning corner. Jump to now, and all of them are riding the struggle bus to say the least. I had a few thoughts on each of them, and figured why not put them down on the blog I haven’t used in over a year!

First up – the Bears.

What can you say about this season but OOF. The have a coach who refuses to give up the play calling and a quarterback who has regressed beyond any one’s expectations. I’ll own up to having been on the Trubisky hype train after last year. Not mention all the talk about the steps forward he had taken from the coach. That really blew up in a lot of people’s faces and an offense that score isn’t going to go very far. The one saving grace is that the defense, while not other worldly like last year, has still been solid and kept the Bears from getting completely torn apart.

Next up – the Cubs.

Last season was a complete grind to watch on TV. You never knew if you were going to watch the good team the Cubs had the potential to be, or the mess that never stood a chance. The two brightest spots were easily Nico Hoerner and Nick Castellanos, because they both provided a nice jolt into the team that helped make the Cubs fun to watch again. The team still has great players but most definitely needs a shake up, and some additional help. Unfortunately, I’m not sure either will come this off season. The Ricketts have already started putting the “we’re not going to spend big” message out there, and putting together a trade for a star player is never easy. At this point, I’m guessing the they make a few minor trades and sign a couple cheaper free agents, and ride the “Hope are current players get better” train all the way to next season.

Now, lets talk about the BlackHawks.

I had a decent amount of hope going into this season. Not the “THE HAWKS WILL WIN THE CUP!” hope, more of the “The Hawks will be a playoff team!” hope. That’s looking less and less likely though. Of the games I have watched this year, they’re just getting out played by most of the teams. They get beat to the puck constantly, and the shots they allow are ridiculous. The only thing that has kept them from getting blown out several times is the spectacular goal tending of Lehner and Crawford. Without those two, the goals allowed in a couple games would have been double digits. The best part of this season has easily been the young players making their way on to the team. Dach, Nylander, and Boqvist are fun to watch, even if you’re occasionally cringing at some of the mistakes they make. Along with Debrincat and Strome, they are the future of the BlackHawks, and it doesn’t look to bad. There is still some time for them to right the ship, and hopefully they do, but that window is closing quickly.

Finally, I’m going to mention the White Sox.

This is the team I know by far the least about, but also the team I feel like could be the best in the near future. They have several good young players that have made their MLB debuts, and some more on their way. Again, much like Cubs, I believe it will hing on if the ownership/front office is willing to spend some money and supplement the young-ins with some needed veteran players (them being good would help too). They seemed wiling to spend on Machado last year, so hopefully they take that money and spend it this off season. They kind of remind of me of the 2014 Cubs. – a good start but need that extra boost to really get going.

And there you have it. My thoughts on the state of Chicago Sports. Not that anyone asked for it.

P.S. I know these aren’t the only teams in Chicago (Fire, Sky, etc.), but the other ones I know absolutely nothing about, so wading into those topics would make no sense.

5 Reasons to be a Cubs fan

  1. They are not the White Sox

If you want to root for a baseball team from Illinois, you have two options, but really only one if you have any kind of sense. Yeah, they won a World Series in 2005, but they’re still the worst. Plus they play in that prison of a baseball field called U.S. Cellular.

  1. Catchy Songs

Want to listen to multiple songs about your favorite team? Be a Cubs fan. They may not all be winners, but they’ll still get stuck in your head after a few seconds whether you like it or not. Evidence here and here.

  1. The Cubs/Cardinals Rivalry

Is there anything better than watching the Cubs beat the Cardinals? Answer: No, there is not. Count the rings all you want, there is no washing away the shame of losing 7 games to the 2012 Cubs.

  1. Young Talent

Kris Bryant, Javy Baez, Anthony Rizzo, and Jorge Soler, just to name a few. The Cubs are going to have to pay for all the damage these guys are going to cause with the long ball. ALL YOUR OFFENSE ARE BELONG TO CUBS.

  1. Wrigley Field

Clearly the best stadium in the league, and with the renovations, it will get only better. Suck it, other teams.

Lets talk about baseball!

Since the Cubs have made some significant moves, I’ve been following the off-season fairly close and decided typing up a short post on my thoughts on the NL Central teams as they currently stand would be fun. Obviously, I picked that division since it’s the one the Cubs are in, which is all that matters. I’m doing it in a worst to best order as that seemed the most logical (plus we all know who is at top, and let’s avoid that for a bit shall we). Let’s do it!


Reds (76-86)

Honestly, I’m not sure what Cincinnati is doing. When they traded Mat Latos and Alfredo Simon, it looked like they might be starting a rebuild, but then traded for Marlon Byrd with one year left on his contract. That seems like a ‘Go for it now’ kind of move, but the other trade doesn’t make much sense in that regard. This will be an interesting year for Reds fans. Still with Cueto, Phillips, and Votto they could be surprisingly average and I would put them slightly ahead of the Brewers.

Brewers (77-85)

When I started writing this, I couldn’t think of much the Brewers had done this off-season, and it turns out there was a reason for that: They really didn’t do much. The only trade of significance was sending Gallardo to Texas, but there was no major league players in return so the help for this year is questionable. Ryan Braun might return to his previous form after dealing with injuries last season, but it’s not something I would count on. Not to mention Lucroy just went down with an injury, and if he is out a large amount of time the losses could really pile up. I fall into the camp that believes the insane start they had last season was more of a fluke than reality, so 77 wins seems about right. Assuming everyone stays healthy that is.

Cubs (84-78)

I never thought I’d be excited over a middle of the pack predicted finish for the Cubs, but after the last couple of years, it looks nice. Theo and company have added Joe Maddon as the manager, signed Jon Lester, re-vamped the catching situation with Miguel Montero and David Ross, and traded for Dexter Fowler to help patrol the outfield. It’s been an active offseason for the Cubs to say the least. Where they actually finish in the division will depend hugely on how well the young players such as Baez, Soler, Bryant, and others preform, which is why everyone should keep their expectations under control. If all the things break right for them (highly unlikely) they could finish well above this, but they could also finish slightly below this if the young players struggle. A middle of the pack finish is a good prediction, as they stand to do better than last year and this isn’t far above it. No matter what though, it’s going to be an interesting season.

Pirates (85-77)

The Pirates didn’t do a ton this off-season either, but have made the post season the last two seasons in a row, and I suspect a third trip is in order short of some disastrous outcome (Or the Cubs sneaking past them!). They lost Russell Martin to free agency, and didn’t add a catcher, so that could weaken them a bit. They added Corey Hart and Korean infielder Jung-ho Kang which will help offset some of that production loss, but it’s no guarantee. They also brought back A.J. Burnett, and while he is a bit of an unknown variable, if he returns to his previous form he’ll be more than adequate to take the mound every 5th game. Plus they have McCutchen, and good lord is that guy impressive. I’d look for Buctober to come again this fall.

Cardinals (86-76)

What can I say about the Cardinals? They’re good. They have average or better players at almost every position, and the depth to overcome injuries. The only weak spot might be their rotation, but that’s only if they start to show their age and regress, and that’s a long shot. Even if that happens they’ll probably just pick up a pitcher who has been struggling or isn’t that great, and he’ll become a Cy Young candidate. The Cardinals know how to work that voodoo magic. They picked up Jason Heyward to offset the loss of Oscar Taveras (both a really tragic and avoidable accident) and made a few other minor moves that I can’t remember. They were first last year and will more than likely be first again this year. I really hate that they are this good.

So what is the takeaway from all of this? The Reds and Brewers are going to be mediocre at best, the Cubs are a huge wild card with serious upside, the Pirates will hold their own, and the Cardinals will be good as usual. As a Cubs a fan I want to believe they will win the division as Rizzo has predicted, but it’s more likely that the young guys will have their ups and downs, and the Cubs will hopefully be competing for a Wild Card spot come September. I don’t mean that as a bad thing either, it’s FANTASTIC.

No matter what the season holds though, I can’t wait for baseball to be back and the 70° weather it brings with it. Let’s go Cubs!

P.S. I just remembered the Cardinals signed Carlos Villanueva who was a good long man reliever for the Cubs. Damn it, Cardinals.