Chicago Baseball: This Summer May Not Be as Pretty
Maybe the Cubs and White Sox are already looking forward to football season to see the Jay Cutler-led Bears, or maybe it's just too early to tell. Perhaps the injury bug has bitten them once too often this season.
Whatever the reason, the two Chicago baseball teams are not giving their fans much to cheer about right now.
After going on an eight-game losing streak, the Cubs are just trying to keep their record above .500.
Rather than repeating the success of last season, they are sitting in fourth place in the NL Central.
It's a far cry from what the local and national media predicted this team to do at the start the season, though no local writers picked them to win the pennant while several national writers did. Those who follow the team predicted success, but at the same time lowered their expectations and likely chose not to buy into the "Cubs are due" hype.
The White Sox had a bad stretch of their own, losing 12 of 15, before winning their next three series. Despite having a record below .500, they find themselves locked in a three-team battle for second place in the AL Central with Kansas City and Minnesota.
They are about where most baseball writers picked them to finish at the start of the year, but in a tight division, that could change very quickly.
Health has been an issue for both clubs this season. Carlos Zambrano returned last Friday night after spending time on the DL, but he swapped places with Rich Harden, who joined Aramis Ramirez on the disabled list. Randy Wells has filled the hole in the rotation nicely.
The rotation, which could be described as slightly above average at best, has been turning games over to a less than impressive bullpen.
Ramirez's absence has done nothing to help an offense that has one of the worst team batting averages in the league.
For the White Sox, outfielders have been unable to stay healthy for the first couple of months. DeWayne Wise separated his shoulder diving for a fly ball in the team's seventh game and hasn't played since.
Brian Anderson just recently came off the DL, and Carlos Quentin could be heading there very soon. This has hampered an offense that, until very recently, had the lowest run production in the Majors.
Things may be looking bleak right now, but the performances by some of the players may give baseball fans in the Windy City cause for hope.
For the Cubs, Alfonso Soriano continues to hit for power. Kosuke Fukudome has one of the higher batting averages in baseball. Ryan Theriot is a legitimate threat on the basepaths. Ted Lilly has picked up where he left off last season.
Veterans Jermaine Dye, Jim Thome, Paul Konerko, and Mark Buehrle have all stepped up for the White Sox. Sophomore Alexei Ramirez has done well at swiping bags.
While it's true that Chicago sports fans can't wait to see Jay Cutler in action come September, they want to see some good things in between.
It's up to their boys of the summer to make that happen.
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