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Chicago sports are in an abrasive state. With more dings and stingers and than a grandfather clock stuck in a beehive, the Bulls, Blackhawks and Bears have seen their fair share of injuries. Most of which end up costing gravely down the line. I don't usually consider myself a worrisome person, but I have garnered a list of fears over the course of this year, some of which I must get off my chest.
Before it's too late.
The NFC North Passes Chicago Bears By..
The NFC has become the division to beat, winning 4 out of the past 5 Super Bowl's. The NFC North however, have only won 3 in the past 27 years. That seems to be changing, as the Green Bay Packers, winners of Super Bowl XLV are seemed to be favorites once again heading into next season.
The Chicago Bears have made tremendous moves to improve for next season, signing Brandon Marshall and Michael Bush, making honest efforts in the 2012 draft to get younger on the defensive end, while satisfying many Bears fans by taking Alshon Jefferey - an exceptional wideout - in the 2nd round. However, the Bears are getting a thin in the hair at it's most conerstone position - linebacker.
The Detroit Lions, rising like a Phoenix from the pit of the NFC, to second best in the North (10-6) behind Green Bay and has put the division on notice. Calvin Johnson , Ndamukong Suh, Matthew Stafford, and a young crop of players are creating havoc on teams in the NFL and it appears that their only going to improve. This means trouble for a Bears team that could lose many pivotal leaders in the next two seasons.
That puts the Bears, finishing 8-8 after significant injuries (there is that word again) to Jay Cutler, Matt Forte, and Johnny Knox (whom it is unclear whether or not he will ever return to the playing field) in the backseat of the NFC North while fighting for a miracle to make the wildcard. Ugh. I want to like the 2012 draft picks, but outside of the top 2, does anyone have faith that these are more than merely possible trade pieces.
Matter of fact does anyone thing the top 2 picks can do more.
Saying Goodbye to either Patrick Kane or Jonathan Toews
We all know that a big reason for the 2011 Chicago Blackhawks summer divorce was due in part to the success of young superstars Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. Toews signed an extension through the 2015 season, earned the Conn Smythe Trophy - one of the highest honors in the National Hockey League (and most exorbitant) and Kane, has made 3 All-Star Games, the Calder Memorial Trophy (Rookie of the Year) and will live forever in Chicago sports history - making the winning goal in the Stanley Cup Finals.
So what will the future hold for Toews (24), Kane (23) is on my list for things I fear (while inevitable) will come to an end. The Blackhawks have failed to make it past the first round since winning the Stanley Cup, and many would say that the first to be discharged of his Blackhawk duties is the head coach Joel Quinneville. What if money talks and the need is there?
Could one of the two go for a goalie?
To ease cap space?
Or because, "it's time to move on?"
I hope not, and I got the whole city behind me.
But I will always remember June 24th, 2010 as the day that a dynasty was prematurely disbanded.
The Chicago White Sox will win another World Series before the Cubs
Yes, I said it. As a die hard Chicago Cubs fan and a Chicago resident, the last thing I want to experience is another White Sox World Series. For real. As if walking out from a Cubs loss and hear,
"CUBS Suck, take that shirt off!"
"CUBS Suck, go SOX 05' whoooaaah!"
I get it, they won in 2005.
I also get it, they beat the Cubs in the 1906 World Series (before the Cubs went on to win back-to-back World Series, never to win another).
Yet, what is it with this hate? It's not like they play in the same division, or even play enough times to harvest a 'rivalry'. Outside of the fact they are in the same city, to each its own.
Now the Cubs have made all the "right moves" in leadership, we will see if it translates over to wins (which currently remains to be seen). Because the last thing the Cubbies want is to hire the 'curse-killer' (GM Theo Epstein), who broke the Boston Red Sox 'curse' after an 80+ year drought and find out this curse is just too strong.
Chicago goes through 'event drought'
Chicago lost the 2012 Olympics to Brazil. Jerry Reinsdorf says that there will be no NBA All-Star Games held at the United Center anytime soon (although he eluded to the possibility of a future NHL All-Star Game). So as far as the getting any future All-Star Games, Olympics, Super Bowls (might as well get that idea out of your mind right now) or anything that is affiliated to the major professional sports (NHL, NBA, NFL) - well, I hope you were in Indianapolis with me.
What is going to take for the "second city" to get score neutral site rights for a major sporting event? Well I was banking on a solid push by new Governor Rahm Emanuel. However, so far all we have got is the South Side Irish Parade back and an even crappier Taste of Chicago. Emanuel left the White House to come and save Chicago from the ashes of the Daley/Blogojevich pipe and I hope/expect for him to use his love for hometown sports to show in the politics that can give us an opportunity to enjoy some of pro sports finest celebrations.
Chicago does have the Champions Classic, featuring Duke, Michigan State, Kentucky and Kansas, coming to Chicago within the next couple years. I love a good college game, but we do already have a few good colleges right here in the city so pardon me if I don't consider a glorified college exhibition game as a means to celebrate progress in the world of sporting event hosting in Chicago.
Just in case you forgot,
The Greatest Fear of All #1
Losing Taj Gibson to a better team because of money
I know this spot should be reserved for some over the top, hypothetical, superstitious Derrick Rose abhorrence. All the same, I look at Taj Gibson as one of the Chicago Bulls most indispensable commodities. At 26 years old, Taj has the confidence and work ethic unlike many in the NBA. His energy off the bench (and hopefully in the starting rotation in the future) has been unmatched by many and his hard-hat and lunch-pail delivery of hustle, hard dunks, big offensive rebounds, blocks and steals is something the Bulls can't afford to lose.
Key word being afford.
Taj will undoubtedly be heavily sought after in the coming contract season (Chicago has Taj on the books through the 2013 season), and the Bulls will more than likely need to extend him next season. That's if they don't want to get into a calamitous bidding war with around the NBA. As Carlos Boozer shows more and more that he is not the proper fit for Chicago, Taj's importance will only grow. Unfortunately, both front office and head coach Tom Thibideau still put faith in Boozer playing majority minutes - to the detriment of Gibson.
I would not blame Taj for entertaining the idea of opportunities to be relied on and become more focal (for better pay) somewhere else, if the Bulls are set on using him merely as a 6th man in the future. As long as Boozer dominates the clock, Gibson's experience opportunities dwindle, and he knows that. How much of a 'team player' as it pertains to career choices Taj is remains to be seen.
Only time will tell if the Bulls make a true commitment or allow Gibson to test the free agent market. And I am not alone when I say a team would gladly take Taj's skills and future contract off Chicago's hands. Taj Gibson is my Bulls' Dustin Byfglien (See: Fear 4), and I can see him making Chicago pay in the approaching seasons.
Gibson becoming Tyson Chandler is my biggest fear of all.