As the year concludes, a glance at Chicago sports in 2019 is a reasonably depressing look. The only postseason game for any of the big-league teams ended with a missed field goal in January. None of the five big league sides are playoff teams as I write this. In fact:
With the Bears' loss Sunday, it's now official: Chicago's five major professional teams were shut out of the playoffs in 2019, the first time in 15 years.— Chris Emma (@CEmma670) December 17, 2019
This is just the fourth time since 1966 that Chicago's teams missed the postseason in the same year. https://t.co/46MYpYIHOb
The Bulls are the least serious contender. Jerry Reinsdorf seems to be a completely loyal and aloof owner. You can run it differently if you want, but his loyalty to Kenny Williams and John Paxson are both off-the-charts. The Bulls have had one over-50 win season since Michael Jordan left for good after the 1997-98 season. Despite the Bulls recent lack of success, Paxson is unlikely to be relieved of his duties soon.
NBA star veterans are rarely willing to prefer Chicago over cities in Texas, Florida, or California. Or anywhere successful. Especially with the Bulls being quite a length from being a top-of-the-league squad. The Bulls have been missing on most of the priority rookies, recently. The primary exception was Derrick Rose, who led to the team’s recent peak. Since Jordan, the Bulls have yet to put together a coherent plan to locate and sign high-end free-agents. That’s not where the Cubs are now.
The Bears were supposed to be Super Bowl-good this season, if you listen to some locals. However, injures, a lack of production from number of positions, and a few outings where the team was woefully unready prepared to play/execute, hurt their hopes in 2019. In my view, they’re a very ordinary team. Not only did the Bears deal for high-end defender Khalil Mack, they extended him to the point where he is the league’s all-time top-paid defender.
It’s a bit tough making a case now for either head coach Matt Nagy or general manager Ryan Pace. Things were supposed to go much better this season, but they didn’t. The Bears don’t have a first-rounder in the upcoming draft, and NFL draft choices are valued more highly than MLB choices, particularly in the short term. The way they mishandled their tight end situation was one part comical and three parts disturbing. Their front office is shaky at assessing talent, and coaches are questionable at developing it. That may be close to your assessment of the Cubs, or it could be wildly different.
The Blackhawks have had much more recent success than the Bulls or Bears over the last decade. Part of the Hawks’ success was due to extending contracts. Some worked out well. Others, less so. Presently, the Hawks are a Western Conference bottom-feeder that has managed to both become “slow” and “small” at the same time. Far too many of their recent trades have been surrendering the better player in the swap for some salary relief. That isn’t a particularly effective way to get to and through rounds of the playoffs.
Yes, the NHL has a more direct salary cap than MLB. My hot take is that Tom Ricketts is seeing the difficulty the Hawks are currently facing, and wants to stave off a similar status. Ricketts is less aloof than Reinsdorf. Epstein orchestrated an internal shake-up after far less chaos than Paxson seemingly requires to make a move. None of the situations are anywhere near the same as the Cubs’. That doesn’t require you to profess preference for Ricketts over either leadership group.
The match is inexact enough that none of the comps are exact. Perhaps the best method would be to triangulate the three options. I don’t see the Cubs as anything near the Bulls, despite an apparent reliance on early draft selections. I see them as far closer to the Bears’ level of performance recently. Recent roster moves, and lacks thereof, seem to be to avoid getting into the Blackhawks “old and slow” trap. Which team do you see the Cubs as being most similar to currently?
Which Chicago team do you see the Cubs most resembling currently?
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