Predicting Chicago's next champion is a losing proposition

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • The Chicago Cubs celebrated a World Series win in 2016. But which Chicago team will be next to bring home a championship? It's an interesting question, but one that's impossible to answer beyond taking a wild guess.

    The Chicago Cubs celebrated a World Series win in 2016. But which Chicago team will be next to bring home a championship? It's an interesting question, but one that's impossible to answer beyond taking a wild guess. Daily Herald File Photo

 
 
Updated 5/31/2020 8:01 PM

During this prolonged absence of live local sports, a number of story ideas have been tossed around. One was, "Which Chicago pro team will be next to win a championship."

Well, predicting the next champion is a like trying to predict what the weather will be five years from today -- a wild guess.

 

The problem is too many unmeasurable factors, like injuries, talent development and strength of competition.

For example, the best way to reach the Super Bowl is to get one of the playoff byes. So if the Packers and Vikings ever have rough years at the same time, that could open the door for the Bears to have a good record. In theory.

At least we know all the teams are capable of winning championships. It wasn't always like that, but the five main teams have all won a title in the last, well, it has been a long time since 1985, hasn't it?

If you want to include the Fire, the local soccer squad has been less competitive as the MLS added more teams, so that one seems like a longshot. It took the Sky eight years to post a winning record. Things have been better in recent years, but the Sky has an annoying habit of trading the best players.

There is an obvious answer right now and that would be the White Sox. That's the only team that appears to be on the upswing, thanks to an encouraging nucleus of young talent like Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncada, Eloy Jimenez, Lucas Giolito and Luis Robert -- all 26 and younger.

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But there's a long way to go. The Sox were well off the playoff pace at 72-89 last year and one of their key prospects, pitcher Michael Kopech, missed the entire season after elbow surgery.

Something else to remember when trying to pick the next Chicago sports success story is most of the past champions were awful a few years before winning the title.

Anyone remember the '81 Bears? They started 3-10, then spoiled their draft position by winning the last three games. With Mike Ditka in charge the following season, the Bears were so uninspiring during a 10-0 loss to New Orleans, fans chanted, "Strike, Bears, Strike," which all NFL teams did the following week. Three years later, they became greatest one-season wonder in sports history (arguably).

How about the 1983-84 Bulls? They finished 27-55 with Orlando Woolridge and Quintin Dailey as the top scorers, with an average attendance of 6,254. Those Bulls did not seem ready to build a dynasty that would eventually spawn a popular, 10-part documentary.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The Cubs lost 101 games in 2012. Between 2003-07, the Blackhawks were a bottom-five team three times and had a season canceled by labor unrest.

So maybe the current worst team actually has the best chance at winning the next title. That would be the Bulls, who just brought in a new management team to try to fix the botched rebuild that's already three years old.

In the NBA, it usually takes one big move to get good. The Bulls need a player who can put them over the top, whether it's via the draft, trade or free agency. The other sports require more of a group effort, but luck is definitely important. Imagine if the Baltimore Colts had drafted Jim McMahon instead of Art Schlichter, or the Portland Trail Blazers took Michael Jordan over Sam Bowie.

The Cubs and Blackhawks still have most of the same stars from their championship teams, but both have been on a downward slide. Changing direction without overhauling the roster is a tough task.

The Bears looked like Super Bowl contenders two years ago. Maybe with some quarterback competition, the offense will be good enough for the defense to carry it back to the playoffs. Then again, the Bears have made the playoffs just six times in the last 28 seasons, so it's not a franchise that breeds faith.

Maybe the White Sox will be the city's next champion. But keep in mind, it wouldn't be out of character for Chicago to wait another 20 or 30 years before celebrating another title.

The next champion could end up being an expansion team to be named later.

• Twitter: McGrawDHBulls

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