Arkush: Cubs or Bears? Which team finishes their rebuild first?
As we continue to get to know general manager Ryan Poles and head coach Matt Eberflus, it is important to remember there is so much yet to learn about the men and how they do their jobs.
But I have already been somewhat impressed by their intense focus on team and culture building and the considerable lengths Eberflus is going to in an effort to try and teach his players and staff about the legacy of their team and what it should mean to be Chicago Bears.
Reaching out to as many former Bears as possible and trying to bring them home is one example. Dressing every one of his players in Brian Piccolo jerseys on the 52nd anniversary of Piccolo's passing was another.
My favorite, though, was taking the entire team on a field trip to Wrigley Field for some fun and games and a taste of the true history of their heritage franchise on the hallowed grounds where that heritage was built.
It also struck another chord though.
In my more-years-than-I-care-to-admit-to love affair with the Cubs and a like fondness for the Bears, I can't remember the last time both were undergoing a complete rebuild and battling to avoid being among the worst organizations in their respective games.
And I find myself wondering which club is likely to turn the corner first.
President of operations Jed Hoyer and manager David Ross got a head start, saying goodbye to the Cubs' winning for the foreseeable future by choosing to unload Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Javy Baez, Yu Darvish, Craig Kimbrel and others all prior to the trade deadline last July. The Cubs finished the season 20-36. Since that trade deadline last year, they are now 45-77 (.368), including having dropped 11 of their last 13 games.
Only the Nationals and Reds in the National League and Royals and Athletics in the American have worse records this year.
Coming off a 6-11 season last year in which they dropped 10 of their last 14 games, and having shed much of their top talent since then, how many of you see five teams in the NFL right now that are likely to be worse than the Bears this year?
With their head start, the Cubs have staked their future on restocking their farm system with much needed talent in exchange for those proven stars and dramatically slashed payroll while raising ticket and concession prices to among the highest in the game. But most of the youngsters are still several years away from the big leagues.
The Bears shed assets for much-needed salary cap space, apparently hoping to make a big splash in free agency over the next season or two while also hoping to methodically add talent through the draft over the next few springs.
Of course, the sports are very different, making them difficult to compare but both have seen it become commonplace for bad teams to make rapid turnarounds in recent years.
That, however, seems unlikely for either our adult or baby bears.
The only proven star on the Cubs roster is Willson Contreras, likely to be traded away in the next six weeks for more young prospects.
All the Bears have to hang their hats on right now are Robert Quinn, who is almost certain to be gone by the time reconstruction is complete if not as soon as the next month or two, Roquan Smith, who will be a free agent at the end of this season, and the hope that Justin Fields can become what they think he can be.
Are Eberflus and Ross worth betting on?
It's too soon to tell, although it's hard looking in from the outside to see exactly what Ross is bringing to the table after 2½ seasons now.
Hoyer is much more experienced than Poles and arguably has the stronger pedigree, but again, neither has yielded any promising results yet.
For as long as I can remember. Chicago sports has been recognized as a Cubs and a Bears town in spite of the fact each has given us exactly one championship in the last 59 years.
Which will be first to change that paradigm?
Right now it's looking more like a race to the bottom than a climb to the top.