Blowing through Chicago’s summertime sports scene

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

Blowing through Chicago’s summertime sports scene


June 23, 2012

With temperatures soaring into the mid-90s and powerful gusts whipping around every street corner, this week in the Windy City was one of the warmest – and windiest – in recent memory.

So, I figured I’d take advantage and let it blow a few summertime thoughts about Chicago’s sports teams down your way.

And away we go …


The Cubs’ owners already have mayor Rahm Emanuel miffed at them about family patriarch Joe Ricketts’ proposed “Super PAC” attack ads aimed at President Obama, which threw a screwball at the team’s hopes for public funding to renovate Wrigley Field.

But now, the Cubs have Arizona State University president Michael Crow rankled, as well. Reportedly, the team approached ASU to partner on the construction of the Cubs’ new $100 million spring training facility that’s set to break ground in Mesa in July.

But in a recent e-mail to Mesa Mayor Scott Smith, Crow wrote: “We have found ourselves dealing with a highly erratic Cubs organization and we have been all but told that they want us out of the deal.” The Arizona Republic reports that the arrangement, which was to allow ASU to play games at the stadium in return for a financial commitment, was once considered done, but is now “50-50.”

It appears that the field isn’t the only place that the Cubs are having a difficult time “playing ball” this season.

White Sox

By bouncing back on Wednesday to win the finale of their three-game series against the Cubs at U.S. Cellular Field, the White Sox perhaps avoided repeating city baseball history – in reverse.

In 1999, the Cubs were just one game out of first place with a 32-24 record when the Sox visited Wrigley Field and promptly swept them. The Cubs never recovered, going 35-71 the rest of the way to finish a dreadful 67-95 and 30 games out of first – despite Sammy Sosa’s 63 home runs.

The slumping Sox were indeed knocked out of first by the Cubs this week, but to fall as far as their rivals did back in ’99, they’d likely need to scale to the top of Willis Tower first.


This week, while chatting on “SportsCenter” about the NFC North this coming season, ESPN NFL analyst Bill Polian – the former Indianapolis Colts executive – said that the Green Bay Packers are “a great team,” the Detroit Lions are “very close to being a great team” and the Chicago Bears “can be a great team if everything falls into place.”

Now, either my standards for “greatness” are considerably, well, greater than Polian’s, or the NFC North battle will be truly epic this season. I’ll settle for entertaining. And I’ll project that the Bears’ divisional chances are a bit greater than Detroit’s, but a bit less than Green Bay’s.


Derrick Rose on Tuesday took a trip down to Dixie to have renowned surgeon Dr. James Andrews take a look-see at his surgically repaired knee inside his Alabama office.

Reports are that Rose’s recovery is going well. And in a recent Q&A on the team’s website, Bulls general manager Gar Forman wrote about his star guard, “We’re optimistic that if he continues to make the kind of progress that he has that we will see Derrick back on the floor at some point next season.”

My advice for the Bulls would be to not rush Rose back and remain extra cautious with him. Next season should be considered a “reloading” year for the Bulls, who ought to focus on finding Rose a championship-caliber running mate more than results on the court.

And that’s not just whistling Dixie.