With Spring training around the corner for baseball and the Bears and Blackhawks out of the playoffs, Chicago sports fans are turning their attention to what might be for next season. It is the best part of sports fans love of their team. Life always looks better down the road.
Sure there is the occasional championship, and by occasional I mean every 50 - 100 years of so to savor. Bears fans still talk about the Super Bowl winning team of 1985 like it was last Tuesday when they won. I'll get into their issues shortly. Cubs fans are even more delusional, if that is even possible. 2016 was relatively a short time ago when the Cubs won the World Series, for the first time in 108 years. It looks like it may be another century before we see a second.
The Bulls are a mess, the Blackhawks are in the middle of their rebuilding after a nice run of three Stanley Cups in seven years but that seems like a lifetime and a half ago and our White Sox are in their perpetual rebuild that isn't a rebuild but a let's just be good enough to half fill the stadium and then complain about fans not showing up so they can afford to get better players.
This is what passes as fandom in the second city. Hope, followed by shock, and ending with despair. Until the next off season when the cycle starts all over again. Right now there are three main topics of angst for Chicago fans.
Over on the Northside, Cubs fans are all aglow over the guy on the left, Christopher Morel. He is the 2024 version of the guy on the right, Javy Baez. You'll remember Baez was destined for the Hall of Fame after having a great week a few years back. You see that is how Cubs fans think. One of their players has a great week and now he is HOF destined. When he inevitably gets traded or released and goes elsewhere to have a mediocre career, the beloved Cubs fans still talk about him like he's Babe Ruth and Sandy Koufax rolled into one.
That is the case of Morel. Cubs fans are positive this guy will be the next great thing for the team while most of baseball considers him barely a utility player with marginal talent. "But he hit thirty homeruns!" Well, you can see how that will make him a first ballotter when he retires and he hits the HOF ballot. Don't even think about arguing with Cubs fans on this because they are completely irrational. "We never should have traded Baez and now you want them to move Morel? What is wrong with you?" Is the response I usually get to trying to bring some sanity into the lives of my fellow fans.
One of the things I appreciate about White Sox fans is that they are somewhat more rational in their love of the pale hose. They have a favorite or two, but those are usually guys like Frank Thomas or Harold Baines, actual Hall of Famers, not hall of the best of Friday. I also like that the Sox fans refuse to show up and watch games in person unless the team is actually worth making the effort to go to the park. That is how you usually get management to spend money and put a better product on the field. Unless that guy is Jerry Reinsdorf who only cares about his bottom line and not championships.
The Beloved are a whole other kettle of mess. I could write a book about how screwed up this franchise is but I would have to kill myself when finished because I would be too depressed. In fact I'm feeling woozy already. The Bears could have drafted the guy on the right, Patrick Mahomes, who has led the Kansas City Chiefs to three Super Bowls and has won two of them. The guy on the left, Mitch Trubisky, is who the Bears moved up in the draft to take before anyone else grabbed him even though nobody else in football wanted him and he is now on his 6th or 7th team, I've lost count.
Once again the Bears are faced with a major franchise changing decision. Do they keep the guy on the far left, Justin Fields, who is slightly above average, or draft Caleb Williams (center) or Drake Maye (far right) and start all over with trying to put a winning team together. Having watched Williams for the past few years I can tell you he is not any better than Fields and actually has a worse mental make-up which might be an issue to consider. As for Maye, he comes from the same college that gave us Mitch Trubisky so enough said there.
Many fans want the Bears to take the guy on the right, Marvin Harrison Jr. who is supposed to be a generational receiver. Meh. Does it make a difference when you have no offensive line that can block so your quarterback is running for his life on every play? The guy on the left is likely going to be the best quarterback to come out of this draft. Bo Nix has poise and size, and a football awareness that the others just don't seem to have. Will the Bears trade down and take him. Not on your life because they always do the wrong thing. Sigh.
Hawks fans are losing their minds this year because the kid pictured above, Conner Bedard, has been knighted by the hockey world as the next greatest player of all time. He has played in barely more games than his age which is only eighteen yet fans can't get enough of him. Right now they are going through withdrawals because he got hit on the chin and broke his jaw putting him out of action for six to eight weeks.
The fans have already voted him as this years rookie of the year even though he is unlikely to play half a season when all is said and done and I'm starting to hear them call for his immediate entrance into the hockey HOF and to start posing for his statue to be placed outside the United Center next month. I will admit he is pretty good and has showed some real promise in the short amount of time he has been in the NHL but before we crown him as the next great thing, let's see how he does for a few years.
I'm sure every city has their issues like Chicago does but it feels like this town is just nuttier than most about their players and team. For me, this picture sums up what I see when I look at my fellow fans.
"Hey fans, grab yourself a cold Budweiser and enjoy the game."