Blackhawks a source of pride, rest of our teams not so much
BY RICK TELANDER email@example.com | @ricktelander July 17, 2014 10:03PM
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Updated: July 17, 2014 10:24PM
On a day when the sports world is as quiet as a drugged python, it seems a good time to assess Chicago’s teams.
◆ Cubs. After the All-Star break, they’re 40-54, in last place in the National League Central, 12 games behind the first-place Milwaukee Brewers. Only one team in the majors has fewer wins than the Cubs.
The Rickettses’ ownership has gotten city permission to build all the bells and gongs at Wrigley Field it says it needs to make enough money to compete. Whether you buy that formula or not (I don’t), you have to wonder when the rooftop owners will be paid off, the legal nonsense will end and construction will begin.
But that’s all distraction, isn’t it? The Cubs stink. They have for four years — badly. It’s the embarrassment of endless b.s. that lingers.
Jeff Samardzija stands on the All-Star sideline as an American League not-Cub? Embarrassing. The team has the best minor-league team in the history of the universe? Terrific. Let’s all move to Kane County and Des Moines!
If Theo Epstein isn’t on the clock, this seems like an excellent time to put him on it.
◆ White Sox. The South Siders are 45-51, 10½ games out of first in the AL Central, a mediocre team of odd peaks and valleys.
Left-handed pitcher Chris Sale, with an 8-1 record, 2.08 ERA and 102 strikeouts in 95 innings, is as good as it gets. Same, too, for fresh Cuban slugger Jose Abreu, whose swing is so powerful that balls seem to jump away from his bat as if shocked.
Abreu’s 29 home runs, 20 doubles and 73 RBI in only 82 major-league games are amazing. The trouble is, once the Sox get the lead, they have to turn things over to the bullpen, which is like turning over buckets of gasoline to drunk teenagers.
Ronald Belisario leads the team in saves with a paltry eight, and his ERA is a large 5.16. Manager Robin Ventura seems to have seen enough of such arson and is going with a closer-by-committee approach, for now.
If the Sox don’t get on a super-hot streak right away, expect general manager Rick Hahn to start selling assets, selling us on next year.
◆ Bulls. After the playoffs, they didn’t lure any of the top-tier free agents — the ones they never seem to get — and the Derrick Rose health issue lingers as ever.
Pau Gasol, the unknown Nikola Mirotic and college kid Doug McDermott might be offensive factors, but who will make the key shots at crunch time? Those shots Carmelo Anthony could have made.
I only notice these things because I’m paid to notice everything — but it’s possible the Bulls are now the whitest team in the NBA. Make of that what you will, and be prepared for pregame country music at the United Center.
◆ Blackhawks. A happy fairy tale that hasn’t ended yet, and which needs another Stanley Cup to make it pure.
The signing of fraternal twins Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, as different of people and skaters as you could wish yet non-jealous ice pals, is great for this city. As is keeping Patrick Sharp, Duncan Keith and Corey Crawford.
◆ Bears. What an offense. What a defensive line. What a guru-like coach in Marc Trestman, who needs just a few more years to resemble Gandalf.
But why does Vegas have the Bears at an anemic 8½ wins, over-under? Gamblers must not trust our new, improved happy-father quarterback Jay Cutler.
And they recall Aaron Rodgers and the Packers up north.