Chicago sportsgiving: Reasons to be thankful as well as some turkeys
Things to be thankful for
QB1 is here:
Whether or not Justin Fields should be the QB of the future was the No. 1 question heading into this season for the Bears. Well, he's answered that question with an emphatic yes over the past few weeks. The sky's the limit. Now it's up to GM Ryan Poles to bring in a couple of dangerous wide receivers in the next year or two.
Abreu always a professional:
If Jose Abreu's days with the White Sox are over, he will be missed on the South Side.
For nine years, the first baseman was an RBI machine and was often the lone bright spot on bad teams. If the free agent, winds up with the Cubs, he still has a few more productive years to keep driving in runs in Chicago.
Bulls rebuild over, for now:
After four years of dreariness stemming from an ill-advised decision to rebuild, at least the Bulls returned to the playoffs in 2022. DeMar DeRozan was a nice addition to the Chicago sports landscape -- clutch, reliable and probably more down-to-Earth than most current NBA stars.
Watching Cease blossom:
Watching Dylan Cease during his first three years in the Sox's starting rotation, you knew the talent was there.
Still, it was frustrating seeing the right-hander run his pitch count to 100 by the fourth and fifth innings on a regular basis. Cease stuck with it, learned from all of the laboring and blossomed into one of baseball's best starters this year.
Wrigley a handsome home:
Say what you want about the Ricketts family, but Wrigley Field looks great these days after basically being rebuilt a little at a time. They moved the ice rink inside the ballpark this winter, giving the park a rare year-round appeal. Now let's see if they put that concession revenue to good use in free-agency.
Richardson's steady leadership:
We are through about one-fourth of the NHL season, and, wow, has it been turbulent. Through Tuesday, the Blackhawks have gone on a four-game win streak and a four-game losing streak, and they've allowed the first goal in all but four games. Let's all be thankful for Hawks head coach Luke Richardson, who is as steady as they come.
Bears GM seems to get it:
Ryan Poles understands that an off-the-ball linebacker doesn't deserve $20 million a year, so he shipped the disgruntled Roquan Smith to Baltimore for second- and fifth-round draft picks. The trade of Robert Quinn to Philadelphia for a fourth-rounder was also a nice move. If the Chase Claypool acquisition pans out -- and the jury's most definitely out on that -- and Poles drafts wisely, then Bears fans have a lot to look forward to in the coming years.
Friendly face for Cubs:
Cubs utility man Christopher Morel gave new meaning to the phrase "happy to be here" after being called up in May. Morel was constantly smiling, hugging opponents, fist-bumping umpires and being nice to everyone he encountered. It's tough to tell what his future role might be, but the 16 home runs he hit this year were a nice start.
Local hero impressing:
Lake Zurich High School product Jack Sanborn has proved that 40-yard dash times aren't the end-all be-all in the NFL. Instincts and smarts go a long, long way. The young LB has proved to be a tireless worker and that he has a nose for the ball. What a great find by the Bears.
North Central No. 1:
North Central College in Naperville is ranked No. 1 in the country in Division 3 football and is trying to reach the D3 title game for the third time in four years. The Cardinals host Carnegie Mellon for a second-round playoff game on Saturday.
Bears two-minute offense:
Luke Getsy has proved to be an excellent playcaller in his first year as an offensive coordinator, but some of the offense's late-game failures must fall on his shoulders. For three straight games, Justin Fields has had the ball in his hands with a chance to lead the Bears down for a game-tying or game-winning drive. He's yet to cross midfield. Getsy needs to come up with a solution.
MLB lockout's physical toll:
Last year's 99-day lockout and shortened spring training really took a toll on the physical side of the game.
Way too many players started the season in less than ideal shape, and the White Sox were way up on that leaderboard in that area.
Here's hoping Sox players are simply able to run to first base next year without pulling and straining so many muscles and tendons.
Cubs next scheduled departure:
Miracles do happen sometimes, but with Willson Contreras almost certainly headed elsewhere and Jason Heyward released, the Cubs are down to one player, Kyle Hendricks, left from the World Series winning team in 2016. When success happens sooner than expected, it can be tough to sustain.
Bulls never-ending injuries:
The Bulls' return to the playoffs came with bad news too. Lonzo Ball never fully recovered from midseason knee surgery and is still trying to work his way back to the court. Zach LaVine finished last season playing through knee soreness and is still trying to get back to his all-star level. At least they didn't get swept by the Bucks.
Where's the Bears' beef?
The first priority of GM Ryan Poles is to address the defensive line. The Bears must bring in some serious competition for Trevis Gipson, Al-Quadin Muhammad, Dominique Robinson, Justin Jones and others.
Bulls give, to Orlando:
There's likely no bright side if the Bulls end up missing the playoffs. Next year's first-round pick is headed to Orlando unless it's in the top four. That would be one more piece to the Magic's haul, which already Wendell Carter Jr. and Franz Wagner from the 2021 trade for Nikola Vucevic.
Rough November for Hawks:
The Blackhawks have played nine games this month, and after going 4-3-2 in the month of October, the team has one regulation victory in November through Tuesday. (2-6-1, one overtime victory against the Kings).
New manager Pedro Grifol says he's a stickler for clean, fundamental baseball. Let's hope so. Watching the White Sox's sloppy work on defense and running the bases under Tony La Russa was hard on the eyes.
Blackhawks offense MIA:
The Blackhawks have proved themselves to be inept offensively, ranking last in goals (44) and second-to-last in shots per game (25.8).
The state of Illinois was shut out of the FCS playoffs this fall. It's just the third time this century when at least one team among Illinois State, Southern Illinois, Western Illinois and Eastern Illinois did not qualify.