Sports still reign over Chicago during wacky April

Today’s column from The Daily Journal (Kankakee, Ill.) and The Times (Ottawa, Ill.)

Sports still reign over Chicago during wacky April


April 30, 2011

After today, April is over.

Thank goodness.

Because, while peeking out from beneath umbrellas and behind windshield wipers, we’ve seen enough rainfall – and lack of sunshine – this month throughout Chicagoland to make Seattle blush.

The final numbers are still dripping in, but at Midway Airport, this has been the wettest April in at least 12 years and the sixth rainiest since the airport started measuring back in 1928. Beyond that, according to WGN-Ch. 9 meteorologist Tom Skilling, this has also been the cloudiest April that Chicago has experienced since sunshine observations started way back in 1893.

But, hey, you know what they say, April showers bring May flowers.

Like a (Derrick) Rose.

Hopefully, we’ll see the Chicago Bulls’ point guard fully bloom – along with, you know, the forecasts – during the next several weeks.

But, today, with Illinois wrapping up an interesting April (both for weather, and sports) and with the Bulls and Blackhawks having hogged the headlines lately, I thought I’d weigh in with a few thoughts about some of the occurrences involving our state’s other sports teams this month.

Richmond a ‘sure’ thing for NBA?

I don’t think that Jereme Richmond is ready for the NBA.

But the controversial former Fighting Illini is headed there after just one rocky season in Champaign. And, this week, one NBA scout I spoke told me that he’s “sure someone will take Richmond” in the first round of this summer’s NBA Draft.

I’m skeptical of that. But we’ll see come June.

As for where the slender, 6-foot-7 Richmond would play if he does make the NBA?

“He’s best as a mismatched three (small forward),” the scout told me. “He’d be able to post-up and play … and pass and rebound to facilitate for others. Shooting is the question mark offensively.”

Big cities, bad baseball

So far this season, baseball in Chicago has been something of a snooze with both the Cubs and the White Sox having gotten off to sluggish starts.

At best.

But, perhaps you can take solace in the fact that the Windy City is hardly the only major metropolitan area where the play on the diamonds was rough this month.

After Friday’s ballgames, mediocrity was the rule in the Major League’s major, two-team markets, with only the Angels (15-11), Dodgers (14-13) and Yankees (14-9) having winning records up to this point.
Collectively, L.A.’s two teams were 29-24, New York’s 25-24, San Francisco-Oakland’s 25-26, Washington-Baltimore’s 23-26 and Chicago’s 21-31.
OK, so maybe that won’t make you feel any better.

Bears Expo or bust?

The 2011 NFL season remains in flux. The 2011 Chicago Bears do, too. But, today, at the 2011 Bears Expo, it’s business as usual.

Well, sort of.

With chaos continuing to rule in the NFL thanks to the ongoing labor drama, no current Bears players are scheduled to appear today during the annual daylong Bears Expo at Soldier Field.

Instead, fans attending the Expo are supposed to get the chance to, um, mingle with the Hall of Fame busts of Bears greats Dick Butkus, Mike Ditka, Red Grange, George Halas, Dan Hampton, Sid Luckman and Walter Payton, all shipped direct from Canton, Ohio.

And, they’ll also greeted by real-life Bears legends, including Hampton and Richard Dent as well as Neal Anderson, Doug Buffone, Jay Hilgenberg, Steve McMichael, Ed O’Bradovich.

I’m curious, however, if any active Bears players decide to buy a ticket today and crash the Expo party. With NFL commissioner Roger Goodell scheduled to join Bears fans via video conferencing for a Q & A seminar during the Expo, perhaps they could quiz him a bit themselves.