It was on August 11, 2008 that I first jumped into the fray on Bleacher Report, and it's been an interesting, fun, goofy year.
I thought it might be fun to commemorate my anniversary on the site by throwing together a few thoughts from the past year, both in Chicago sports news, my personal writing, and just general thoughts.
After a year, I'm proud to say I'm now a Featured Columnist covering the Chicago Cubs, as well as being ranked in the top five baseball writers and top 12 overall writers on the site. This slide show will be my 433rd article in 365 days, garnering a readership of over 238,600.
It's been a fun year, and I look forward to many more. Thanks to everybody that's read/edited/commented on my work in the last year, and I look forward to a whole lot more.
I can proudly say that I personally attended a number of special sporting events in the last year, but there are two that stick out.
The first was the Winter Classic at Wrigley Field on January 1, 2009. The game between the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings, two ancient rivals both playing very well at the time, was entertaining but the atmosphere was electric despite a frigid near-zero temperature. As a Cubs fan that adores Wrigley Field, seeing hockey played between first and third bases was odd, but still fantastic.
The second, and perhaps one of the five biggest sporting event-related thrills of my life, came in May. I was at the game when the Blackhawks eliminated the Vancouver Canucks to advance to the Western Conference Finals. The United Center was as loud as it's ever been, and when the final horn sounded I lost a few minutes in the noise.
I'm sure the Blackhawks, and hopefully the Bears, will give Chicago fans more thrills in the next year, but those two were the tops for me in the last year.
I live in Chicago...
In 2008, the Chicago Cubs had the best record in baseball. They had three stud pitchers, a solid bullpen, and hitters everywhere.
And then the Dodgers showed up, and three games later the Cubs season was over.
At some point I'm going to start expecting it, but the 2008 Cubs, just as they did in 2003, broke my heart. This franchise has had it all on paper, and are the primary example backing Chris Berman reminding us "that's why they play the game."
Sorry, Big Papi, but you get to be my new poster child for the steroids era.
In the last year, ARod, David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez and Sammy Sosa were all implicated in the 2003 steroids testing as having failed. Ramirez was suspended this year for 50 games for failing another test.
This isn't going away because the list is still out there, somewhere, in the hands of money-hungry people ready to sell out one baseball player a month until they're billionaires.
It's sad that so many people put so much love, hope and faith into these guys, especially the kids that grew up idolizing them, and now they're being found out to be a fraud.
This one has to be my favorite. I think I did the best job of my brief BR career at capturing the essence of the story.
Milton Bradley. Not even a question.
He hadn't been with the same organization for more than one season since he left Cleveland almost a decade ago, and has all sorts of character red flags, so what does Jim Hendry do? Three year contract worth $30 million.
Thankfully Adam Dunn, Bobby Abreu and Raul Ibanez aren't performing well this year...
Jay Cutler, the new quarterback of the Chicago Bears, is the biggest addition to a Chicago sports team since last August. He's a legit top-tier quarterback (no matter what the bitter Denver fans tell you) and he's going to make the Bears receivers better...if the team can figure out who the receivers are going to be in 2009. Cutler is the best quarterback to take a snap for this franchise since Jim McMahon.
Honorable mentions go to Marian Hossa, who's out until December, Gordon Beckham, who's going to be a star, Jake Peavy, who hasn't pitched in a game yet, and NOT MILTON BRADLEY.
This was actually a lot closer than you might think.
Since last August, Chicago has had the National League Rookie of the Year (Geovany Soto), the American League's runner-up (Alexei Ramirez), the NBA's Rookie of the Year (Derrick Rose), and one of the best young running backs in the NFL (Matt Forte).
Oh, and this year there's a strong case to be made for the White Sox's Gordon Beckham and the Cubs' Randy Wells for their respective Rookie of the Year Awards.
I'm going to reluctantly give the best to Rose, though. I think Forte is something special and is going to quickly develop into one of the elite backs in the entire NFL, but Rose is already one of the premier guards in the NBA.
He took a bunch of wanna-be Bulls and dragged them through an incredible series with the Celtics this past spring, cementing himself as one of the top young players in the game.
1. Editors that hack up headlines. If the headlines isn't doing it for you, leave an editor feedback with a suggestion... but don't take what the author put and completely re-write it. Again, unless the headline stinks.
2. If you live in Buffalo and know nothing about Chicago, then don't write about Chicago sports or, even worse, comment about Chicago people/fans. I'm not hating on Buffalo specifically (I needed an example city, sorry Buff-town), but I try not to jump into the fray or comment on a city unless I've spent enough time there to have a somewhat-educated personal opinion. Don't be dumb, don't get personal, and keep to what you know.
3. SPELL TEAM NAMES RIGHT. It's BLACKHAWKS, not Black Hawks or BlackHawks. One word.
Got it? Good!
A Chicago team will win a championship before the end of 2010.
It might be the Bears winning the Super Bowl behind Jay Cutler and Brian Urlacher.
It might be the Bulls getting hot and running the table behind Derrick Rose.
It might be the Blackhawks putting it all together and taking that next step past last year's success to bring home the Stanley Cup.
It might be the White Sox or the Cubs finding what it takes to get a World Series trophy back to Chicago.
I'm not going to be so bold as to say which team it will be, but one of Chicago's teams is going to win a championship before next year ends.
Thanks to everyone who reads, writes, and educates people like me through Bleacher Report.
It's been one fantastic year.