In the wake of the latest Chicago sports fail, I look back at some of the city's most harrowing history. The build up to epic letdowns, the surefire wins that become stunning losses, and of course the favorite's that come up short to expectations. The tragedy's that rock the entire city.
As I See It looks at the Top 5 Most Heartbreaking Moments in Chicago Sports history.
5.) Olympic Sized Failure
The bid was up for the 2016 Olympic Games. Chicago, was seen by many as a favorite to win, competing with Tokyo, Madrid, Rio de Janero and Spain, Chicago attempted to sway the International Olympic Committee in Copenhagen to austerity. With a Presidential backing from the hometown First Couple Barack and Michele Obama, Chicago appeared poised, laden and well-equipped to bring the games to the city of broad shoulders.
However, it was not in the cards for Chicago. Destiny would put the city's opportunity to host the games on hold. Chicago was one of the first to be eliminated, an utter shock that surprised the entire city and many across the country. There was plenty of blame to around as well. Many believe that the spike in crime and corrupt government were to blame as well as a weak proposal and congestion in the city. Whatever the case, this was an epic heartbreak in Chicago's history, both in sports and culture.
4.) The One That Got Away (Blackhawks Game 7 loss to Montreal Canadians)
Tony "F*$@#&%" Esposito
1970-71 was the dawn of the new playoff format in the NHL. Teams were in opposite divisions were allowed to criss-cross in competition for the first time. This would also be the Chicago Blackhawks first season in the Western Conference, a move that would prove both beneficial and heartbreaking.
The Blackhawks made light work of the Philadelphia Flyers, a 4-0 sweep to move on and play the New York Rangers. The series went 7 games with the Hawks winning game 7. They would then face the 3rd seeded Montreal Canadiens.
In a back and forth series, the Blackhawks shut out the Canadiens 2-0 in Game 5 to back Montreal into a must win at home. Game 6 went the way of Montreal, beating Chicago 4-3 to force a game 7 to be played at Chicago. This game would be known as the Tony "F*$@#&%" Esposito Game.
Esposito came into Game 7 ranked second in goals against only to Montreal's Ken Dryden - who despite anemic throughout the playoffs, held his own to lead the Canadiens to the Stanley Cup Finals. However, it was the Blackhawks who took a 2-0 lead late into the second period. That's when Esposito became small, as Jacques Lemaire scored on what many called a seemingly easy save for Esposito, followed by Henri Richard's consecutive goals to finish the Hawks at home and walk away with the Stanley Cup trophy.
Utter heartbreak in Chicago.
3.) Chicago Black Sox Scandal
In perhaps one of the blackest clouds ever to be cast across the city and league, the Chicago White Sox were involved, implicated and eventually found guilty of trying to "sell-off' the 1919 World Series to the Cincinnati Reds. A claim that found the Sox intentionally losing games in efforts to give the championship to the Reds. Eight members of the White Sox team were banned for life those players were,
- Pitcher Eddie Cicotte
- Center Fielder Oscar Felsch
- First Baseman Arnold Gandil
- Outfielder "Shoeless" Joe Jackson
- Utility Infielder Fred McMullin
- Shortstop Charles Risberg
- Third Baseman George Weaver
- Pitcher Claude Williams
Also St. Louis pitcher Gedeon was banned after investigations proved he placed bets upon discovering the fix from Risberg. In efforts to gain a reward, Gedeon attempted to blow the whistle on the plot, but instead was banished from baseball by federal judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis.
The fix went like this, Chuck Gandil with the assistance of Arnold Rothstein sports gambler - who had alleged ties to the criminal element - hatches the plan to throw the series who then tells Cicotte of his plans. Cicotte agrees to join for an estimated $10,000 which was to be paid before the series. Gandil then recruits other Sox players to join and recruits the assistance of a sports gambler for an estimated $80,000 then seals the fix for $100,000 with a third party gambler Sleepy Burns. The players agreed to throw the first 3 games and win the fourth.
Rothstein then placed $270,000 on the Cincinnati Reds to win the World Series, as well as Gandil and Risberg. As suspicion of a fix rises due to unclosed mouths, the odds were eventually set to even, with the Reds winning Game 1 of the World Series 9-1.
The fix was in.
In a series of ill-advised cut off throws, unconscionable errors and visible guilt plagued 1919 World Series. For money players - who at that time, were either poor or lower class - despite the fame of profession were forced to jeopardize their own integrity for financial gain. A decision which will forever live in baseball infamy.
And in Chicago especially.
2.) Derrick Rose Tears ACL
The freshest of wounds, Chicago Bulls reigning MVP and future Derrick Rose suffered the most severe of sports injuries - a torn ACL - as Chicago went to close out Game 1 of the 1st Round of the NBA Playoffs against the Philadelphia 76'ers. In one swift move to the hoop, the Bulls chances of avenging the Eastern Conference loss to the Miami Heat, and any hope of making a run at the NBA Finals were eviscerated.
Rose blossomed into a star utterly from Day 1. With under a 2% chance of landing the No.1 overall pick in the 2008 draft the Bulls landed the lottery pick at number one and selected the Chicago native out of the University of Memphis. As serendipity would have it, the young guard instantly became Chicago's franchised players since former Bull and 6-time NBA Champion Michael Jordan. Rose earned Rookie of the Year followed by an All-Star start and ultimately the NBA's Most Valuable Player Award last season.
Then it was gone in one swift move to the hoop.
The more disturbing of the injury is the type. There are a laundry list of athletes who have suffered the degree of tear similar to Rose's and have never been the same( Sixers' head coach Doug Collins, Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak, and perhaps the most debated of all, New York Knicks All-Star and leading scorer Bernard King -which whom it took nearly 2 years of rehabilitation to garner half of his ability. However, there are some players (Jamal Crawford, Kendrick Perkens, Ron Harper, Mark Price, and most recently David West, who suffered his ACL tear just a year ago and is playing as close to his old self as any player who has come back from such an injury) who come back as good or arguably better than before.
Derrick has a long path ahead of him, as we all pray for his full recovery, we mourn as a city proud, appreciative, and heartbroken.
1.) Death of the Legend (Walter Payton Dies Nov. 1, 1999)
Chicago has enjoyed some great triumphs in the world of sports throughout history. None of which more poignant as the 1985-86 Chicago Bears Super Bowl run. And at the front of that run was the greatest running back in NFL history, Walter Payton.
Payton, or "Sweetness" as he was called by fans and teammates alike because of his personality and athletic grace, was the enigmatic style of speed and power the league had ever seen. From his hard-work ethic, to the way he carried the Bears offense up and down the field to pay-dirt, Walter epitomized what it is to be a Chicagoan. His character out-shined his Hall of Fame career, in a blend rare to sports or life.
Walter beat many opponents, offensive lines, intimidating linebackers and safeties throughout his 13 season career. He also rewrote the records books in the process, holding the career rushing yards record after retirement and netting over 21,800 yards total.
Unfortunately the one battle he lost, ultimately cost him his life. While working to beat sclerosing cholangitis, a rare liver disease, a bile duct form of cancer was discovered. This would eventually claim the life of the legend and on November 1st, 1999 the city and world lost one of it's true heroes.
Payton left behind his wife (Connie), a son (Jarrett) and daughter (Brittney) as well as a legacy bigger than the state of Illinois.
Tags: 2016 Olympics, Arnold Gandil, Barack Obama, Charles Risberg, Chicago, Chicago Black Sox, Chicago Blackhawks, Chicago Bulls, Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Claude Wiliams, David West, Derrick Rose, Doug Collins, Eddie Cicotte, Fred McMullin, George Weaver, Henri Richards, Jamal Crawford, Joe Jackson, Ken Dryden, Kendrick Perkins, Mark Price, Miami Heat, Michael Jordan, Michele Obama, Mitch Kupchak, Montreal Canadiens, Oscar Felsch, Philadelphia 76'ers, Philadelphia Flyers, Ron Harper, Stanley Cup, Super Bowl, Tony Esposito, Walter Payton