I want to begin by wishing everyone a healthy and happy new year in 2020 and thank everyone for taking the time to read this blog. It has been a fun run so far.
Now that we've survived family, friends, and co-workers this holiday season, it seems like the right time to reflect on 2019 and look ahead to what 2020 might bring us. Obviously the landscape for Chicago sports fans has been a mixed bag at best and a mess at worst in 2019. Across the nation, the sports world has had its share of craziness, bad news, and idiocy this past year, no need to rehash any of it and best to just move on.
I'll offer a thumbnail recap of of our favorite teams and topics and look forward to 2020 and what we can expect.
The monsters took a small step backwards in 2019. Finishing at 8-8 after a playoff appearance in 2018 that felt bigger than it should have. Honestly 2018 was unreal for this team and our expectations should have been more realistic in 2019. I had them at 9-7 and they came close.
What did become obvious this year were a few things. The offensive line is not good and needs a major overhaul. Their run blocking in particular is awful and David Montgomery was another bad choice by Ryan Pace. Their passing game is well below average as they have no depth at tight end, their receivers can't catch, and Mitch Trubisky is not an NFL quarterback.
I said this earlier in the year, and it still holds true today, the defense is going to start punching guys on the offense if they don't start getting their act together. As good as they were on defense they still need some depth in the secondary and linebacker for next season.
Until the draft and free agent signings are completed it is hard to say what we should anticipate for 2020, but another 8-8, 9-7 season is likely on the horizon. I give Ryan Pace one more year to figure out his job and then look for him to be launched if things don't improve in 2020.
They should be sponsored by Duncan since they play like a yo-yo. Good, bad, good, bad for about a .500 record in the toughest division and conference will not get you in the playoffs and yet they are only four points out of a spot right now.
Patrick Kane is one of the top players in the NHL and just seems to keep getting better and better every game. He can't carry this entire team however and there needs to be more scoring from the other guys. Their defense also needs to be more consistent and stronger in their own zone. Young guys are going to make mistakes and this is where the coaches need to step up and help them get better.
The goalies have been crazy good but neither has separated himself from the other so they continue to share duties, which is not a bad thing. They are going to hit a slump, because they always do, and the defense needs to get better to help them out. This includes the forwards coming back to help and playing a better puck possession game at the other end. Teams can't score if they don't have the puck.
Still, it looks like another year of missed playoffs for the Indian head sweater and that will likely spell the doom for Jeremy Colliton and Stan Bowman. I cannot see John McDonough allowing the fans to find an excuse to stay away after he worked so hard to rebuild this franchise.
Only the 1985 era Chicago Bears have been more disappointing for fans. This team looked like they were going to win multiple championships, or at least be in championship games, only to be one and done before team Theo started tearing it down. It has been stunning how they have underachieved in so short a period of time.
There are so many issues it's hard to pick a starting point, however, their inability to drive in guys while in scoring position is on par with the Blackhawks inability to shoot the puck. We have been talking about both things for my entire life and yet they continue. Maybe spend ten minutes this spring and work on BUNTING!
The outfield has become a mess because someone has fallen in love with Kyle Schwarber and they feel the need to run him out there everyday. Trade him to an American league team where he can DH, put Albert Almora in center and leave him alone for an entire year, do not play Jason Heyward anywhere but right field, and sign Nicholas Castellanos and tell him he is the everyday left fielder. You're welcome.
I continue to be amazed at the love affair with Javy Baez and the, meh, attitude towards Kris Bryant. Look, I think Baez is an exciting player, and he is fun to watch, but to put money towards him, in lieu of a future hall of famer in Bryant makes zero sense. Sign Bryant, make a fair offer to Baez and if he says no, trade him somewhere for pitching.
Speaking of pitching. The starting pitching is getting a bit old and needs some help while the bullpen and closer are way far away from being playoff ready. I am not ready to go into 2020 with the current roster and I hope neither is team Theo. I have three words for Theo and Jed, get a closer.
2020 will be another year of just quite not enough for our beloved. David Ross is going to be out managed for at least the first third of the season before he finds his footing. They will continue to swing at too many pitches out of the strike zone, resulting in too few runs scored, and putting even more pressure on their average pitching staff.
Make sure you are watching on, or, around May 5th when David Ross tries to take Jon Lester out of the game in the fifth inning and he refuse to hand him the ball.
Chicago White Sox
I can't believe I'm saying this, but here is the one bright spot for Chicago sports. Rick Hahn has done a masterful job of rebuilding this franchise into must see baseball for 2020 and beyond. You could see it coming in 2019 as the players were having fun, starting to believe they had the talent, and figuring out how to win, and lose like a real team.
Undoubtedly the most improved team in baseball this offseason as they continue to improve the talent level and professionalism. Jose Abreu has become a gigantic leader and if they can add a bit more pitching out of the bullpen, they can win this weak central division.
For 2020 I will be keeping a closer eye on the Sox with the help of long time White Sox fan, and, the only guy whose picture hangs next to Ron Bacardi on the entry wall at HQ, Tom Barnicle.
The Presidential Election
I will continue to stay out of this arena for 2020, even though I have some strong opinions, because I do not want to increase my blood pressure anymore than it already is per my cardiologists direction.
In closing, I want to thank each of you that read this regularly, or occasionally. It has been an exciting start for me and I'm looking forward to 2020. I've provided you with some good columns and some not so good columns so far and I promise to improve.
Many of you have suggested that I post them on social media, and I agree it would increase readership, no doubt. My issue is that I cannot trust myself to refrain from the bad things I developed in the past when on Twitter. Because of the lack of self control, and for the same reasons I quit them in the last year, I will continue to not reopen my Twitter and Facebook accounts, for now. If you like what you read and want to post them on your accounts, I would welcome the support and I thank you in advance for any help in that regard.
Have a great 2020!