…or at least better than the past few years.
While the city of Chicago continues to be on of the most recognizable cities in the United States, the sports teams of late have been on a rollercoaster ride.
Such as the Chicago Bears; the Bears made the Super Bowl in 2007 where the lost to the Indianapolis Colts. The next year, they failed to even make the playoffs. And I shouldn’t even have to go into the history of Chicago Bears quarterbacks since McMahon left which is numbered in the 20s.
In 2005, the White Sox won the World Series for the first time since before the “Black Sox” days. The following year of course, they failed to make the playoffs and then in 2007 posted a losing record.
The Bulls, after enjoying their incredible success in the '90s with MJ, Scottie and Phil, the Bulls fell on hard times. Eddy Curry and Tyson Chandler were supposed to lead the Bulls back to prominence, but they could not quite put it together and eventually both were traded while the Bulls continued to wane.
The Blackhawks have toiled in misery for the past decade. After being one of the most storied franchises in all of hockey, the past 10 years have been some of the worst ever. Problems with management and poor personal decisions had led the Hawks to the cellar of the NHL.
And then we have the Chicago Cubs. Dubbed the “Lovable Losers” for their century long championship drought, the longest of any team, in any league EVER. The Cubs looked to be rid of the fabled Billy Goat Curse in 2003, but then in the NLCS…well there was the infamous Steve Bartman incident. The Cubs have actually won the NL Central the past two years but have been swept in the NLDS both times.
BUT, despite all of this… the future is bright. Very bright for a Chicago sports fan. The chances that Chicago will be celebrating a championship in one of their major sports over the next five years is almost a given (almost).
The Bears are now poised to be in contention with arguably one of the best young quarterbacks in the league, Jay Cutler, and sophomore running back sensation Matt Forte. That coupled with Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs anchoring the defense, Chicago looks to be in playoff contention every year, if not Super Bowl contention. A nice healthy change from far to many years of ineptitude from management, staff, and quarterback.
The White Sox look to be back into contention also this year. While they do have a mix of aging veterans (Paulie Konerko, Jermaine Dye, and A.J. Pierzynski) they do have several young guns in the lineup that should solidify their roster.
With Alexei Ramirez and Josh Fields on the infield and Jerry Owens, Brian Anderson and slugger Carlos Quentin patrolling the outfield, the Sox position players are developing together. Add in John Danks and Gavin Floyd in the rotation and closer Bobby Jenks and you have quite a good core players; all under the age of 30.
Speaking of young core players, rookie point guard Derrick Rose is coming off his first playoff game, in which he scored 36 points and had 11 assists, and the Bulls beat the No. 2 seed and defending champion Boston Celtics in OT. Those numbers put Rose in pretty distinguished company.
According to ESPN.com, Rose tied Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the most points by a rookie in a playoff debut. He topped Wilt Chamberlain, who had 35, and Tim Duncan, who scored 32. Hey, aren’t Wilt and Kareem Hall Of Famers? And Duncan will be whenever he retires.
Plus, when you throw in Tyrus Thomas, 16 points and the game winning shot, and Joakim Noah, who had 11 points and 17 rebounds, the Bulls could be the upstart team next year. Especially if they hold on to Ben Gordon, who can still score a lot of points when he gets hot, and Luol Deng who will be coming back from an injury next year.
And add in another first round pick, maybe Aaron Gray, who is developing and keep a couple veterans, the Bulls could crack the top half of the East which would put them in some good company with the Celtics, Cavs, and Magic.
Next up is the forgotten sport. The Chicago Blackhawks had seemingly fallen off the face of the earth with season ticket holders dropping and attendance that was microscopic. But in the past few years, since the passing of long time owner Bill Wirtz, the Hawks have done nothing but improve, both on the ice and in the minds of Chicagoans.
The Hawks have drafted very well, bringing in the future of their franchise in players Patrick Kane and Jonathon Toews. Toews, who was the third pick in the 2006 draft, finished with 69 points this season and Kane, the first pick in the 2007 draft, ended up with 70 points.
The Blackhawks currently hold the fourth seed in the NHL west and lead the fifth seeded Calgary Flames 2-0 in the first round of the playoffs. The Hawks finished this year with 104 points, which was a major improvement over last year’s 88 points. And for that matter the year before (71), and the year before that (65), or even the 2003-2004 year where they had 59 points and were second to last in the league. Talk about steadily improving.
And last, but certainly not least in terms of popularity, is the Chicago Cubs. After a 100 years of breaking hearts, inducing tears, and causing god knows how many people to go into the depths of depression during the winter season, the Cubs look to be on the upswing under the guidance of Manager Lou Piniella.
With a roster that boasts Aramis Ramirez, Geovany Soto, Derrick Lee, Alfonso Soriano, Kosuke Fukudome, and Milton Bradley, you know the Cubs will be scoring runs. And, at least on the infield, their defense should be solid.
The pitching staff also looks to be impressive with Carlos Zambrano as the ace, Rich Harden, Ryan Dempster, and Ted Lilly holding down the middle of the rotation and youngster Sean Marshall on the end. Add in reliever Carlos Marmol and closer Kevin Gregg and the Cubs roster looks solid from top to bottom.
But perhaps the best move for the Cubs was not actually made inside the organization. It was the selling of the Cubs by the Tribune Company. The sale is pending approval but as long as there are no snags, the Cubs will belong to the Ricketts family, known for TD Ameritrade Holding Corporation.
The Ricketts are said to be big Cub fans, which should mean that they want a winner just as much as they want to make money (which was not the penny-pinching way the Tribune corporation was famous for).
And for all sports fans, there is one other thing to hope for. That is the possibility of hosting the 2016 Olympics. While the ruling will not come out until October, Chicago is in the final running with Tokyo, Madrid, and Rio de Janeiro.