Seeing as how I no longer have the time to do lots of in depth posting, I will try to give you a thumbnail sketch of my thought on the teams in this town.
Last night the Cubs won the NL Central after they shutout the Reds 6-0 and the Padres beat the Brewers 6-3. It is a nice story. The Cubs went from worst to first. A division title in Lou Piniella’s first season at the helm. The emergence of Ryan Theriot and Geovany Soto. 18 wins for Carlos Zambrano. A 15-8 season fir Ted Lilly. The only problem is that the Cubs are a .500 team. After 160 games they have proven to me that they are slightly above average and I am not going to get overly excited about this team heading into the playoffs. Winning the division is not good enough anymore. I want to see this team in the World Series, and considering the $300 million in contracts the club handed out in the offseason, I don’t think that is unreasonable. I am not going to make any sort of sizable emotional investment in this team until they prove to me they are legit by winning the NL pennant – something I desperately hope they do.
Well what to say about this bunch? After a week 2 win against the Cheifs, this team got blown apart on the scoreboard and on the training table by the Dallas Cowboys. Not only were they hit with a slew of injuries to important players (Tommie Harris, Lance Briggs, Nathan Vasher, Charles Tillman and Rueben Brown being the most notable), but a 3 interception game from Rex Grossman lead to his benching and the insertion of Brian Griese as the new starting quarterback. Tomorrow’s showdown against the Lions is the most important game of the season for the Beloved, and if the reports that they may be without 7 of their usual defensive starters are true…it is going to be a long day for them.
Personally, I think the switch to Griese coupled with the plethora of injuries is the prefect equation for a .500 or worse season. I hope I am wrong about that…but things are not looking up.
In what will hopefully prove to be his best move in 40+ years as team owner, Dollar Bill Wirtz died this week. The longtime penny pinching villain has stood in the way of the franchise for a very long time and through his polarizing frugality and business practices he singlehandedly destroyed the sport of hockey in Chicago and has left the once proud Original 6 franchise in tatters. Hopefully his passing will usher in a new era for the Blackhawks where winning the Stanley Cup is the primary objective and home games are shown on tv.
The team itself has been getting younger in the past few seasons, but their newest young stars like Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane have been tempered by some steadier veteran players like Kevyn Adams, Robert Lang, Brent Sopel and Andrei Zyuzin this year. I’m not predicting a Cup this season or next, but I think a mid-to-low playoff spot is a reasonable expectation and a step in the right direction for the Hawks.
While I have been as hard on Wirtz as any Blackhawks fan and I literally did a jig when I heard the news of his death, I would like to please beg all the fans who will be in attendance at the home opener to be respectful during any tributes they do for Wirtz. Celebrating on the internet or calling into radio shows is one thing because his family and friends should know better than to expect respect there. While Wirtz was no doubt a terrible owner, the Hawks were his passion and the United Center is his house that he built. His family will be there and for the sake of his loved ones, please be courteous. If for no other reason, just keep in mind one of his kids will likely be in charge now.
My sympathies to White Sox fans. The Sox got old really quick and have had a dreadful season. I am not saying this to be smarmy or sarcastic but…wait til next year!