With apologies to Doc Yobbo.
It's time for an overview/post-mortem on some local teams.
First, the Cubs. Currently 20 games under .500 and 26.1/2 games out of first place (though happy to see the Cardinals at 6 games out of first and fading. Go Reds!). This has been a very disappointing year and a very lackluster effort. It IS the the first year under new ownership, and I don't blame the Ricketts family for sitting back and seeing what they bought for damn near a billion dollars. I wasn't expecting much this season, and it looks like I'd better not expect much for the next few seasons. It's going to take a while to get this mess straightened out. The team needs...pretty much everything, and 'everything' ain't gonna get fixed this off-season. I'd say start with new talent evaluation and scouts. Start getting some decent players in development, and start running the place like a professional organization instead of an outdoor beer garden. Manager Lou Piniella announced his retirement after the season. He also has family health issues with his mother, so the Cubs told him to leave early. I don't blame them for that-kind of a class thing to do since the team is going nowhere. And I suspect they paid him the rest of his contract. Also class.
Across town is the White Sox, who started poorly, came on in June and July to lead the AL Central, and are currently fading, 4.1/2 games behind the Minnesota Twins (my second-favorite team. They play the game right). The Sox are possibly the slowest team in baseball, and their relief pitching is woeful (and injured). They need to outslug their opponents, because if the Sox have to go to their bullpen, they're screwed. The addition of 38-year-old prima donna, former steroid user, and occasional slugger Manny Ramirez I don't think will help them that much, unless Manny can develop a fast ball, sinker, and change-up and pitch the 7th, 8th, and 9th innings of games. Not likely. I think the Sox peaked about six weeks too early. I don't think they'll make the postseason either. They ARE in better shape than the Cubs, though.
Next is DA BEARS! The Bears are 0-3 in preseason games this year. Now, the preseason record doesn't count, but what one sees happening in preseason does. Last year, the offensive line couldn't protect Jay Cutler, the receivers couldn't run their routes, and the defense let the other team convert on way too many 3rd-down-and-long plays, continuing scoring drives. After an off-season of diligent work and no player draft to speak of, the offensive line can't protect Jay Cutler, the receivers can't run their routes, and the defense allows way too many 3rd down conversions. The song remains the same... Looks like the Bears might be doing good to go 4-12 this season at this rate. And I don't trust any of the Bears' management team to get the ship righted any time soon. Watch for QB Cutler to walk to the sidelines in about Week 3 carrying his decapitated head in his hands as some blitzing lineman or linebacker pushes aside the Paper Curtain that is the Bear offensive line. The good news is that a bad Bears team frees up my Sunday afternoons.
The Blackhawks came out of their Stanley Cup season having to dump players to get back under the salary cap. Several of the 'bit' players that became key players on the way to the Cup are gone. Surprisingly, Blackhawk management had to borrow from their other businesses to make salaries for the players. This in a season when the United Center was full most nights and the team sold an arseload of merchandise. I don't think hockey players are able to be paid baseball-type salaries. The season isn't as long for hockey (82 games vs 162 for baseball), and generally the hockey teams play in smaller venues. There isn't the opportunity to pull in the same dollars. More importantly, hockey doesn't have a TV contract with a major network here in the States (though I'm sure it does in Canada), and TV revenues are where the big dough comes from. The core of the team is still intact, though. The Hawks should be competitive, but the push for a second championship is going to be a lot harder this winter.
The good news for the readers here: probably less 'Chelsea Dagger'. Oh, what the hell...one more time for old times' sake!
The Bulls...could be alright this year. I'm not a big NBA fan, but getting a very competent Carlos Boozer to complement Derrick Rose is a nucleus to build around...finally. They probably aren't going to make anyone forget Jordan and Pippen anytime soon, but considering some of the players that have trod on the court at The House That Jordan Built, they should put up a decent season and give the fans some hope for the future.
Overall, not the brightest prognosis for the upcoming seasons of the local squads.
Last Sunday, the White Sox had a ceremony showing off the major championships of the Chicago teams: the Lombardi Trophy that the Bears won in '85 (Super Bowl XX), the 2010 Stanley Cup from the Hawks, the Championship Trophy of the 2005 White Sox, and the six trophies from the great 1990s Bulls teams. Hmm-one team missing from the lineup here. Oddly enough, given Chicago's generally miserable sports teams, Chicago is the only city in America to win championships in all four major sports over the last 25 years! Go figure.