I know you'll think I'm crazy, but this was/is one of the bigger sports weeks in Chicago history that I can remember. Sure it isn't the second week of October in 1993 when we got nuked (theSox lost the ALCS , Jordan retired, the Bears did something stupid, the Hawks lost to the expansion Lightening (and JR might even have blown out his knee again), and the Cubs did what the Cubs did best... blame the manager by firing whoever was manager then and talk about Prior and Wood and next year (okay maybe therewasn't Prior and Wood talk in 1993, but it feels like that doesn't it?)). That will always be the biggest 'week' in Chicago Sports History, followed closely by the last week of October of 2005 and pretty much every week during the 1985 Bears season. But this was a big week. Lets Break It Down, Team By Team!
The Fire: Okay, I think the MLS had their draft and I have no clue who or how good the guy the Fire drafted is, but the Beckham effect is still in full swing. And I want to touch on this oh so quickly, but you know how everyone is saying, 'Beckham isn't that good of a player, he's not going to convert everyone in American to soccer!' Two things here... how the hell would anyone in America, let alone some talking head that doesn't even watch soccer, know howBeckham is doing?!?!?! Real Madrid games aren't on TV here unless we get a Champions League game on ESPN, and none of these heads would watch that game and none of them fly to Madrid to watch him. And Beckham was one of the better players for England during the World Cup (that more says how poorly England played than anything else). Secondly, no one ever saidBeckham was going to convert American into a nation soccerheads that will someday rival Brazil in terms of talent and England in terms of insanity. Stop making things up, Mr. Media.
But I can't believe this connection hasn't been made - remember Wayne Gretzky? Remember how he was traded to LA and how suddenly hockey became something of a 'thing' in the States outside of the northern cities from St. Paul to Boston? The Great One didn't turn this country intoCanadaSouth, but he did raise the awareness of the game in this country to the point where in the mid 90s it looked as if the NHL could really carve itself deep into the American sportsconscious. Of course the NHL made some huge mistakes (and I haven't even mentioned the 2004-2005 lockout) and it lost its momentum . But starting in the 80s when Gretzky was traded to the Kings right up until the Rangers winning the Cup in 1994... the NHL slowly began to become 'something' in this country outside of Chicago, Detroit, the Twins Cities, and Boston. And guess what... DavidBeckham will have the same effect with soccer. He's not going to create five million new fans here in the US, but he is going to turn a few hundred thousand onto the game and slowly build thatmomentum. The MLS will expand to other cities, much like the NHL expanding to Dallas, Carolina, and Florida (Tampa) (it still seems like a bad joke that all three cities have won a Cup). Anyways, find me someone who doesn't want to seeBeckham? Come on... one person... see you can't. He's interesting... he's English... he's charismatic (as long as he keeps his mouth shut mind you; I remember when I finally heard him open his mouth in like March of 2003 and I was mortified... I thought to myself, "I spent two months following a guy that sounds like a girl and may not be able to add 3+8 in his head?") But theBeckham effect will be real. Not in the millions, but in the thousands, and that's what the MLS needs. It isn't looking to take on the NFL or baseball or even the NBA right now. But why not go after the NHL? And I'm sure the Fire are feeling that at the gate already.
The Blackhawks: Okay, after looking like maybe they'd make a run for a playoff spot with Savy as coach, the Hawks fell apart. It's been a shitty few weeks for the Hawks. But I've got to say as a general NHL comment, Sidney Crosby really is something else. And AlexanderOvechkin is the most exciting player in sports RIGHT NOW (taking the title from USC Reggie Bush). This Crosby vs Ovechkin Rivalry has Bird/Magic potential. Of course this is the NHL, and they're going to move Crosby to Kansas City and Ovechkin is stuck in NHL purgatory in DC. How does Gary Bettman have a job? He has to be the worst commissioner. Actually, he's the second worst commish out there. The Commish in my fantasy league refuses to play for money AND rigs the scoring to favor players on the Eagles. He's worse. Okay, I'm moving on.
The White Sox: It's been a slow month for the Sox who have become, imo, the weirdest team in all of sports since no one has a clue what they're going to do next (thanks to Kenny Williams), yet they're still one of the top eight teams in the league, and they can't not stay out of the news (between Ozzie,Uribe maybe shooting a few guys, and random Kenny Williams trades). I'm at the point as a Sox fan, that I think Kenny owns a Twister spinner thingie but puts players faces instead on the colored dots. Once a month, Kenny gives it a spin. Whatever player it lands on he trades for noapparent reason and leaves everyone scratching their head and thinking "Umm, are the Sox better or worse because of this trade?" I have no clue what to think of this team... at least they avoided arbitration with Crede this week!
Northwestern: JUST KIDDING! But seriously, if nothing else, at least Northwestern can go to sleep every night knowing that:
- They'll always be the road team when they play another Big Ten team at home in football AND basketball. The Wisconsin/Northerwestern basketball game last week in Evanston was about 70% Badger fans. It was amazing to be honest.
- And no other team is hated more in their home town than Northwestern is. Seriously, about five people in Chicago actually root for the Wildcats. It's amazing that a team could be so disliked by it's 'hometown'.
Notre Dame: Did everyone who started this year declare for the draft? Hey, at least they're playing well in the Big East in basketball... oh wait, I take that back. But just imagine if CharlieWeis didn't have four weeks to game plan for LSU, the Irish would have lost by 100. And the Big Ten Channel, which will probably totally revolutionize college athletes, launches soon... that Big Ten Bus (ZING) is pulling out of the lot guys.
DePaul/UIC/Loyola Hoops: I think all three are 'okay to good' and then there is this bizarre Jimmy Collins story that I sort of know about but don't really. Moving on...
The Cubs: The More Things Change... it's the Cub Convention this weekend! What friggin' morons. Nice scheduling job guys... the point is to gain interest in the middle of the winter... not be totally over shadowed by the Bears. NICE! Anyway, Pinellia already is sounding like every other Cub manager ever: "I came here to win... I don't believe in curses... we've got good pitching... in a ballpark like Wrigley..." and I'm sure they're still, deep down, talking about Wood and Prior. Prior and Wood. I'm so happy I'm not a Cub fan. I'm just saying, you guys can talk yourselves up every winter, hell even spend 300 million on average baseball players, but just admit, for once, that you're not 'one player away' [I heart commas]. You aren'tCubbies. You have no centerfielder, I'm pretty sure your short stop still sucks, and your 2nd though 5th starters are nothing special. In other words, you need Wood and Prior. And you're not going to get Wood and Prior. And you'll always have this, you nickel and dimers.
The Bulls: If nothing else, this will be the week when I realized that Tyrus Thomas was going to be a very good basketball player. I can't really describe him... he's tall, he's fast, and he can jump about twenty feet in the air. He blocks shots that he shouldn't block. He can grab rebounds and will only get better at it. No he's not Ike Howard, but he's got something. And what I really love about him? He has that look, the look of someone who cares and who's frustrated that he isn't better than he is. And whileBogut doesn't look like a bust, when Bogut and Thomas went head to head the other night, Thomas came away as the player you'd rather have.
As far as how good is this Bulls team... I liked them a lot more before they started blowing 18 point leads. But hey, they still might be the best team in the East and they'll be tough to beat at home in the playoffs.
The Bears: Da Bears... what can I say? Well let's start with this Chicago:
That's right. Let's let the Blues Brothers remind us what's important. We need to Stand by Our Man. No more of this "Rex stinks! He wasn't that good last week! We can't win with Rex!" This Philly crap has to end. Stand by your man, Chicago.
That said, it's the biggest Bears game in 19 years or something. A game the Bears can win. A game that the Bears probably should be a little more well liked. A game where the Saints have to come outside to play, and everyone seems to forget this.
And yes, watching Rex is a roller coaster ride. And yes, the 2006 Bears are not the 1985 Bears so let's just stop comparing the two. The Bears don't have to win 49-3 in order to be good. Just winning is enough. I never thought the 1985 Bears would be this much of a problem for other Bear teams. But apparently there are a lot of Bear fans that are pissed that the 2006 Bears aren't winning in the same fashion as the 1985 Bears. Let it go. 1985 wasn't even that cool because Ronnie was President and the USSR and Saddam were still around. Let 1985 be 1985... the Greatest Team of All Time and that's a rap.
After the Lions game in Week 16 I was worried. The Bears hadn't looked good for about a month. They barely beat a crappy Lions team. Things were not looking good.
But in the middle of that week I looked at the stats: top five defense, third most points scored in the league. Then I looked at the players...Urlacher , Briggs, Thomas Jones, Moose, and a run away freight train named Cedric Benson. This was a good team. And sure they weren't playing well at the moment and their QB can't play an average game, but they had built a lead over the first three months, they have shown what they were made of... just like the 2005 WhiteSox. And that's when it hit me... and I felt better.
In September of 2005 I felt like the one person in Chicago who wasn't freaking out about the Sox. "They're fine", I kept saying, "they have a huge lead. There is no way the Indians can keep playing .900 baseball. They'll blow it". And the Tribe did. TheSox then came out in the playoffs blowing the Red Sox out of the water in Game One of the ALDS. El Duque was touched by God in Game Three... and it was on. Sure the Sox had a few breaks (AJ and the 'dropped' ball in game two of the ALCS), but the Sox also went about their business. They did what needed to be done.
And that's how I feel about the Bears. They went out at beat the crap out of the Seahawks in the first half. Then almost blew it in the 3rd. But like El Duque they made the plays they needed to make to beat the Seahawks in the 4th quarter and overtime. Now it's the "ALDS" and the Bears are going to need some luck... but hey, why can't they get it this week? And they're just as good as the Saints as it is... remember the Saints almost lost that game to the Eagles last week.
I didn't really expect this Bears team to win the Super Bowl once Tommie Harris went down... but suddenly with New England and the Colts as the only options in the AFC, I feel better about the Bears maybe even winning this entire thing. But one battle at a time right? First it's the Saints.
Bears 31, Saints 20.
Remember Chicago, Stand By Your Man... SexyRex.