O'Donnell: Fireworking on The Fourth, an incomplete guide to the mid-year in Chicago sports
AS A FOURTH OF JULY SPECIAL -- to be mounted right alongside images of Samuel Adams, James Cagney and Sally Hemings -- a holiday update on the state of Chicago's major teams:
Code word: Expectations
Truthiness: The only thing the Bears have to fear are major injuries and Matt Nagy himself. … The poppin' fresh head coach has to remember that it's Belichick, Noll and Walsh who've won Super Bowls, not Penn and Teller. … Khalil Mack, are you ready for your close-ups?
Media: Immersive, frighteningly so. … Avoiding the overwhelming tide of orange-and-blue this season will be about as easy as Leonardo DiCaprio getting back into steerage after the Titanic found ice.
Code word: Urgency
Truthiness: Just when you want to order the scaffold for Stan Bowman. … Frenzy of precision-driven activity in the past two weeks hints that this may be the only Chicago Fiver fully embracing the future is now. … St. Louis Blues just proved that NHL fairy tales can come true.
Media: Played, but that's not all bad. … Rocky Wirtz and John McDonough are smart enough to have a velvet vertical in which press boxers are friends of the team until proven otherwise.
Code word: Folly
Truthiness: Jerry Reinsdorf introduced "The Curse of the Breakup" when he kicked Michael Jordan to the curb 21 years ago and no amount of house-mouse revisionism is going to change that. … Things may never change until the day when John Paxson truly bares his soul.
Media: Generally myopic. … The concept of a team columnist at bulls.com suggests, "Embrace compliance and you too might win 'The Showcase Showdown' at the end of your career."
Code word: Transitioning
Truthiness: Forest for the trees stuff. … Theo Maddon 1.0 is ending, people, and a 2.0 in Ricketts World Right is not likely. … The organization had a flaccid off-season so the current fade should be no surprise. … Craig Kimbrel's cynical salary belongs on the books of The Marquee Network.
Media: With exceptions, generally spoiled and zombified. … Team broadcasters set a tone of drone and are insipidly at the mercy of the quality of the baseball theater that's being presented.
Code word: Hope
Truthiness: As the encyclopedic Bob Susnjara noted, if only they would rebuild McCuddy's. … Forget Eloy Jimenez and Lucas Giolito for a moment; it is a James McCann who suggests a rock-solid run ahead. … Now if only Bossman Jer' would declare, "OK boys, all in to stay."
Media: Core fan base has always shown a knack for finding its own best news sources to follow a hard habit to break. … Even the "world's greatest newspaper" has finally assigned a beat writer.
SERVICES FOR TONY BARONE -- the longtime Chicago-bred basketballer who rose from St. George's High School in Evanston to head coaching roles at Creighton, Texas A&M and the Memphis Grizzlies -- were held earlier this week.
Among those paying respects were Dick Versace, longtime NCAA referee George Demos and Naperville native Porter Moser, who played as a walk-on for Barone at Creighton.
Sharpest hoops historians remember when the 5-foot-8 Barone was the shortest member of Vic Bubas's Final Four team at Duke in 1966.
Barone, 73, passed after a long illness within days of Gene Pingatore, 82, the fabled coach of Westchester's St. Joseph's High.
Pingatore's death was unexpected. He died after a fall at his home.
STREET-BEATIN': Unconfirmed report that Kawhi Leonard has been holding out on the Lakers until LeBron James assures him of co-top billing in "Space Jam 2."… Even with Leonard's waffle-housing, LAL have dropped to 7-4 odds at some L-Vegan shops to win the 2020 NBA crown. Dupe bait like that is why enduring "sports bankers" drive Teslas. … The poignant photo of Coco Gauff -- age 15 -- shaking hands with Venus Williams after her Wimbledon upset could prove to be almost as iconic as Tommy Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. (Was it Bob Dylan or Oprah who sang, "Your old order is rapidly fadin' "?) … Former Bears QB Josh McCown has signed with ESPN as a studio analyst. Ten NFL teams in 17 seasons could also qualify him as a frequent filler at any U-Stor-It. … Jockey Chris Emigh -- the nephew of a real-life U.S. Navy tactical "Top Gun -- is holding at 3,999 career wins. Thanks to the long-lasting agent of cranky Tom "The Captain" Morgan, he'll get six potential sparklers at Arlington Park on Thursday and eight more Friday. … And Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild -- who long ago bolted Peoria after one season with the Bradley Braves and the dorm football titlist Harper 2 Panda Bears -- on the NYY-BOS weekend cannonade in London: "It was like Coors Field on steroids."
• Jim O'Donnell's Sports & Media column appears Thursday and Sunday. Reach him at email@example.com.