Monday, March 7, 2016

Lovie is our Football Coach

It's hard to imagine someone having a crazier, more successful first three days on the job than new Illinois Athletic Director Josh Whitman. By firing Bill Cubit only a few months into his new place holding contract as Illinois Head Coach, and hiring Lovie Smith to replace him two days later, he has done more for Illinois football than has been done in my lifetime. He may have just laid the groundwork to finally, after not only decades of horrible football but more specifically the last few years of horrific leadership and on-field results, have a consistent program to be proud of. I know I am getting ahead of myself, but maybe, just maybe, Illinois has a duo in Whitman and Smith that can lift this program from obscurity.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Blame the System, not the Hawks, for Crushing Saad Loss

When the Blackhawks won their third Stanley Cup in six seasons just two short weeks ago, we all knew what was coming next. Both of the 2010 and 2013 Stanley Cup seasons were followed by a mass exodus in the offseason, as the Hawks looked to retool their team while keeping the core intact. In this horrific hard salary cap NHL era, winning one Cup is difficult, let alone winning three in six years. And unfortunately, getting to that level requires difficult business decisions involving players we love.

This year, all signs pointed to Patrick Sharp being the big piece moved. He's a beloved player, someone who helped kickstart this new Blackhawks cultural revolution when he was acquired 10 years ago. With his $5.9 million cap hit the next two seasons though, and father time knocking on the door, the obvious move would be to trade him to allow room for the Hawks to resign Brandon Saad, the 22 year old "man child" who has been a beast now for the past two seasons and part of a third. This was a sound, logical plan that adhered closely to the Blackhawk model of keeping crucial pieces of the young elite core together. And yet, that all came to a grinding, screeching halt today with the stunning trade of Brandon Saad.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Derrick Rose Lost to Yet Another Knee Injury

Only two weeks ago, as the clock was winding out, Derrick Rose took the inbounds pass and stormed down the length of the court in mere seconds, dribbling in and out of defenders and driving hard to the rim for an up and under layup as the half completed in a thumping of LeBron's Cavaliers.. This coast to coast display of athleticism, talent, and drive was something out of Derrick Rose’s past, and showed us that this special talent, so plagued by serious knee injuries over the last three years, could perhaps again be the same player who became the NBA’s youngest MVP only four short years ago. To be sure, he’s struggled this season. He’s launched too many three pointers, and at times lacked the confidence to drive to the hole, where his game has found its home over his entire career. But at that time, with that drive, I felt that Derrick might finally be rounding into form. This might be the return of our Derrick, a ceremonial breaking of the rust on his game and his confidence, with a return to the game and style that captivated this city and this league.

Monday, November 10, 2014

This is Officially Rock Bottom for the Bears

I'll admit it, I was wrong. After the 51-23 destruction of the Bears by the Patriots two weeks ago, I had officially marked that as rock bottom for the season. After watching the team unravel (but really, don't you have to have it together first to unravel in the first place) against a franchise superior in every single fashion, I thought that the Bears had finally bottomed out. Boy, was I wrong. The Bears, after having a week to regroup and determine how they were going to finish this season, went into Green Bay, the home of their biggest rival, and were absolutely destroyed last night on national television 55-14. This wasn't even the noon start time on a regional broadcast against the Patriots. No, this was a prime time, national television broadcast where a charter member of the NFL was humiliated by their biggest rivals on a massive stage. I've seen a lot of bad Bears football in my time, but I have never seen anything at this level. Even Cris Collinsworth and Al Michaels, the NBC commentators who have been around the block, almost felt bad for the Bears, with Collinsworth openly and rhetorically asking how this was even possible.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Gut-Punch Game 7 Overtime Loss Ends Blackhawks' Season

This is a tough one to swallow. There’s no other way to put it. With a Game 7 overtime loss, after the Blackhawks had climbed back from a 3-1 series deficit against the L.A. Kings, Chicago fans have experienced a gut-punch loss that hasn’t been felt around here since maybe even the Bears Super Bowl loss in early 2007. It’s shocking, really. There's a depressing haze hanging over the city and surrounding areas this morning; a palpable, downtrodden feeling of shock and loss. When that overtime winner went in, I couldn't believe it. I was even asked right away - was this real? Did it count? Was there an offsides, a penalty, anything? There was just no way the Hawks had just lost that game, after all they'd been through, all they'd fought for. The Hawks just win these games. In clinchers, at home, with a series on the line, you always just feel that the Hawks have this one. They’ve been there before, and time and time again they've come away with the win. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Bears Strike Fast on First Day of Free Agency

Just like last year, Chicago Bears' General Manager Phil Emery wasted no time addressing his team's needs in the minutes after the NFL's new league year began today at 3 PM central time, also known as the official start of free agency. The free agent feeding frenzy has continued to escalate as contracts get larger, the salary cap grows, and many teams in a league of parity can rebuild a team in an offseason. In just the short few hours since the new league year began and contracts could officially be signed, the Bears announced they reached terms on a 5 year, $35 million deal with former Oakland Raiders defensive end Lamarr Houston, signed former New York Giants safety Ryan Mundy to a 2 year deal, resigned middle linebacker D.J. Williams to a 1 year deal, signed special teams ace Jordan Senn to a 1 year deal, and officially released Julius Peppers, who joins the recently released Michael Bush on the cap casualty chopping block.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Chicago Spring 2014 Sports Preview

Yes, it's been awhile since I've written anything here. Perhaps it was the freezing Chicago cold, the ridiculous amount of snow we've gotten, or the general unhappiness/laziness that winters here (and the failures of our respective sports team) brings with it. But now, even as Mother Nature dumps yet another 5 or so inches on our favorite city, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

There is certainly something to the "hope springs eternal" expression that not so coincidentally mentions the season that quickly approaches. Spring is the thawing out season, the one where green returns to nature and hope returns to Chicago sports. There is the start of a new baseball season, the end of both professional and college basketball seasons with an eye to the future, the NFL offseason, spring college football sessions, and the tail end of what hopes to be an exciting NHL season. Spring, perhaps more than any season, gives us the feeling of starting fresh. So, with that frame of mind, let's take a look into how our favorite teams will fare beginning this spring and beyond.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Bears' Playoff Hopes Dwindling with Loss to Woeful Vikings

Forget the tiebreakers, the remaining teams on the schedule, the players returning from injury in the coming weeks, and the way the offense has played - this Bears team isn't making the playoffs, and doesn't deserve it either. After today's embarrassing, crippling, and reaching-rock-bottom-status loss to the Minnesota Vikings, not only is the fact that the Bears have even overachieved to this point obvious, but it's clear that the Bears just aren't a good football team.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Bulls Lose Rose to Another Season Ending Knee Injury

11 games. That’s all we got to see before another earth-shattering, devastating, franchise-changing injury to Derrick Rose stopped this season before it even got started. In what initially appeared to be a minor tweak in yet another non-contact play, Derrick Rose’s career – and the hopes of a franchise completely bought in on him – may never be the same. All of the hard work he put in after missing 18 months with a torn ACL in his other knee, all of the angst and criticism he heard from fans and the media – none of that matters now as he has the same long path ahead. The future of Derrick Rose, the near future of the Bulls franchise, and even the future of some of the players on the team are all now huge question marks. It really couldn’t get any worse. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Time for Beckman to Go

The fact that I'm writing this as halftime comes in Illinois' game against Ohio State tells you everything you need to know about the current status of this program. It's reached new depths of ineptitude. The funny thing is, though, that this isn't the wakeup call for Illinois fans, alumni, and administration that Tim Beckman isn't the right guy to lead this program out of the abyss. Strangely enough, anyone who watched this team last year saw the same thing. The missed tackles, the poor planning, the poor construction of a staff, the blaming on the previous coaching staff, and the inability to do even the slightest things right are obvious to even the most casual of fans.