Although it has been a tough year in Chicago Sports except for the Blackhawks, we have a lot to be thankful for. We live in one of the best cities in the world to be fan, participant or weekend warrior. Here is my list of what to be thankful for in Chicago Sports.
The Lakefront Bike Path- Chicago has hundreds of miles of bike paths thanks to Mayor Daley, but the lakefront is particularly popular. It stretches 18 miles along lakeshore drive and its a great place to get in whatever your choice of exercise in during nice weather.
Jerry Reinsdorf- Not always fully fully appreciated enough, the chairman has helped bring Chicago seven world championships and five other playoff appearances by the White Sox in over 30 years as the owner of Chicago's American League franchise and the Bulls. He bought the White Sox for $19 million and the Bulls for $16 million. In that time the White Sox were valued at $692 million in March according to forbes, placing them 11th in MLB. The Bulls ranked third in the NBA at $800 million according to Forbes.
In 29 years fronting the Bulls, they have had just nine losing seasons. The White Sox have just 15 in 33 years.
Rocky Wirtz The Blackhawks last season at Chicago Stadium in 1993-94 was promoted as remember the roar. When Rocky Wirtz became the head of the Blackhawks after the death of his father Bill, he sought to restore the roar. His impact on the Hawks has completely turned the franchise around. When Rocky took over, the Blackhawks hadn't had a winning record since 2002, had losing records in nine of the previous ten seasons, only one playoff appearance since 1997 and no playoff series victories since 1996.
Since he took over, they have not had a losing record. He hired John McDonough as the team's new president, oversaw the hiring of Stan Bowman as General Manager, Joel Quenneville as head coach and the reassignment of Bob Pulford, the team's longtime general manager. They have also led the NHL in attendance for the last six seasons.
At $625 million, the Blackhawks are the NHL's fifth most valuable franchise. That was a 79 percent jump over 2012. He also got rid of the antiquated policy of his father to not televise home games.
Under his direction they ended a 49 year stanley cup drought in 2010 and added a second this past spring. The Hawks have gone from an afterthought and almost never talked about to the hottest team in town.
One of the most humble superstars, Toews has led the Blackhawks resurgence on the ice. Not so coincidentally, the Hawks have not had a losing record since Toews arrived for the 2007-08 season. That was also the last season they missed the playoffs. Toews had a breakout year in 2010 when he was named the most outstanding forward at the Olympics and he won the Conn Smythe award as playoff MVP during the Hawks Stanley Cup title run.
With the Bears defense decimated by injuries, its Trestman's offensive genius that has saved the Bears this season. Their offense currently ranks fourth in points and eighth in yards. This is the first time since 1995 that they have ranked in the top ten in both categories.
Paul Konerko Nearing the end of his career and facing the possibility of his retirement Konerko's accomplishments rank among the best in the history of Chicago Baseball. He is second in homeruns and rbi's in team history is and is in the top ten in numerous other categories. He has been the face of the franchise since Frank Thomas began having injury problems in the 2000's. He should be reverred by White Sox fans the same way Minnie Minoso is and Ernie Banks is by Cubs fans.
The signing of Jorge Abreu likely signals the end for Konerko. Whether or not he decides to comeback, Konerko's number 14 will likely be retired someday and a statue in the outfield bleacher conconcourse is sure to follow.
Tom Thibodeaux- Despite only two playoff series wins in three years, his .672 career winning percentage ranks sixth all-time behind championship (c0mbined for 17) coaches Billy Cunningham, K.C. Jones, Phil Jackson and Gregg Popovich and Larry Bird. In another season without Derrick Rose, Thibs will still push his team to play hard and good defense. With the succcess he's had with bad luck, Thibodeaux deserves better.
Great Announcers In the third largest market in the country it shouldn't come as a surprise that we have some of the best announcers. Pat Foley and Hawk Harrelson are local treasures even if Hawk is polarizing. It's hard to single out one team. Stacey King and Neil Funk are a great listen, on Thanksgiving Bill Wennington will give you a pie in the eye and his partner Chuck Swirsky's return to the city he made his name has given the Bulls the best pair of announcing teams in Chicago and maybe the country. John Widemann and Troy Murray have become the first local announcers to call multiple championships for a team since Funk was the Bulls radio play-by-play announcer in the country.
Great Venues Not everyone will agree on all of the sports venues being great and what defines their greatness. That's what makes this such a great sports town. From Wrigley's historic ivy, Soldier Field's multiple renovations and amazing site lines, the modernization of US Cellular Field and the house that Michael built at the United Center, Chicago has some of the greatest venues in the world. Add in what some consider to be one of the most beautiful race tracks in the country at Arlington Park and we are truly blessed.
Great Sports Bars Chicago might be the originator of the sports bar. Whether you are a local or from out of town, Chicago has a place to watch a game and get a great meal and some adult beverages. Virtually every bar in the city hosts a college alumni club and/or a professional sports team fan base. It's impossible to list just one. Google the best sports bars in Chicago and the list of lists is endless. If you want to find fans of your favorite team to watch a game with in the Windy City, there is definitely a place for you.
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