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The McCaskeys just don’t get it

By: Alex Patt

It becomes more and more embarrassing to be a fan of the Chicago Bears every passing week. Every year I try to tell myself to not invest too much emotion into the Bears and keep my expectations at a minimum…and YET I find myself getting angry every Sunday from September through December as the team discovers new ways to lose.

The sports world sits and laughs at the Bears. They have not lived up to the reputation they once had as one of the proudest franchises in sports in my entire life. Outside of their Super Bowl trip in 2006, they have won absolutely nothing in the past three decades. All the GMs, coaches, and quarterbacks the Bears have gone through in 30 years had all come in providing fans with hope, only to see it all fizzle out fast.

The charter franchise of the NFL has not won a Super Bowl in 36 years, has only one NFC title since, only five playoff wins in nine total playoff appearances since 1990, and six winning seasons since 2005. To put some of that in perspective, only roughly 30% of their last 30 seasons have seen the playoffs.

The Chicago Bears faithful should not have to cope by saying, “At least we are not the Detroit Lions” every year. It is so sad that the ceiling of expectations for this team is simply being better than the Lions. The ceiling should be consistently contending every season, something fans have not seen the Bears do since the 1980s. Yet here we are.

The McCaskey family has owned this team throughout all of this. Virginia McCaskey, the daughter of the late George Stanley Halas, has been the owner of the Bears since Halas died in 1983. She inherited Walter Payton and many of the eventual 1985 Super Bowl winners. Members of her immediate family have held various tasks running the organization, with her son George being the current chairman.

Look, I do not think the McCaskeys are bad people and I would not want to attack them personally. Furthermore, I do not think I can blame the current mess on 98-year old Virginia herself as she is likely not making the big decisions at this point. But this family has shown time and time again they do not know how to run an NFL team in the modern era.

This is the same family that has kept Ted Phillips, an accountant, serving as team president since the 90s. Again I do not want to personally attack Phillips, I am sure he is a nice fella and a good businessman, but he is not a football expert…he is a businessman. Want to keep him to run just the business side of things only? Fine. But being team president? Since 1999 they have gone through five head coaches and four GMs…all of that for three measly playoff wins.

The sad thing is, even if they get rid of the current regime, why the heck should fans trust the people at Halas Hall to hire the right people? Remember when they turned away Bruce Arians to hire Marc Trestman from the Canadian Football League? Oh, wait! Don’t worry! They will consult with 80-year old Ernie Accorsi, who retired over a decade ago!

At the end of the day, the results speak for themselves. It all starts at the top. This has not been a winning team in a long time and it does not look like that will change anytime soon. Justin Fields will not save this team alone. We will get fed the same old, “Mom is pissed off” from George and the process will just start all over again.

Hire a president of football operations with a football background. Let that guy hire a GM and a head coach. Go buy that land in Arlington Heights and build an actual NFL stadium. Stop with the refusal to make changes mid-season. Show us you actually care like you claim you do.

Hell, I wish they would sell the damn team…that is what I REALLY want. That is probably not happening though. They are especially not going to sell to the city of Chicago (LMAO).

I am just so sick of this team being a joke. I am tired of being owned by the Green Bay Packers. I am tired of having my hopes dashed every year. I just want a good football team that is fun to watch. Enough is enough. I am officially done with the Chicago Bears…until their next game. Just like every damn week.



The Chicago Blackhawks are in hell

By: Alex Patt

On Tuesday night, I was sitting 14 rows from the ice at the United Center. The boos rained down from the stands as the clock ticked to zero to seal a 4-1 Blackhawks loss against the Islanders in their home opener. The Blackhawks fell to 0-3-1 and they have yet to have a LEAD this season.

If it was not for the whacky COVID playoff realignment in 2020, the Blackhawks would be working on five year playoff drought (if they were to miss this year). Ever since taking over as head coach in early 2018-2019 after “Q” was let go, Jeremy Colliton is 86-86-25 behind the Blackhawks bench. It is the very definition of mediocre. This team is stuck in the deepest depths of hockey hell.

What is so frustrating is while we knew going into 2021-2022 that this team was not a Stanley Cup contender, they should be better than this. They look so out of sync and playing such uninspiring hockey. The hope was that the additions of Seth Jones, Tyler Johnson, Marc-Andre Fleury along with the return of Jonathan Toews and a healthy Kirby Dach would see noticeable improvement from the team. Not the case so far.

It might be only four games in, but this is the NHL and there is so little room for error. Colliton is not the only reason for the team’s play, but the system is just not working. Even with a flawed roster, having the talents of Patrick Kane, Alex DeBrincat, Dominik Kubalik, Toews, Dach, Fleury etc. should see a team with better results and better flow to their play than what we see now.

I do not like calling for people to lose their jobs, and Colliton is a guy who I feel is just not ready for an NHL coaching gig, but there needs to be a change. Colliton coached across seas and had one full year with the AHL Rockford Icehogs prior to being the Blackhawks head coach. I believe he still has a future in NHL coaching but he might need to get more experience as an assistant or AHL coach. It is like a preschooler being thrown into the third grade.

While a change in coaching could be the first significant step, that does not solve all your issues. This is sports, and it all starts at the top. I am talking to you, Stan Bowman. While Bowman helped maintain the talent around the core (that Dale Tallon build) to win three Stanley Cups, the moves going back to the albatross contract extensions for aging core defensive players helped spark the downfall. Just look at what they are paying Jones with that extension…absurd. In the end, the game of hockey passed the Blackhawks by and they have yet to catch up.

Is this what this franchise is going to settle for going forward? “Oh as long as Kane is scoring goals and they finish the year around .500 that is good enough to sell tickets!” I really hope Danny Wirtz is smarter than that.

Here is the thing, the Blackhawks are not the Cubs. Even when the Cubs are irrelevant and bad, fans will still go to Wrigley Field. If this continues, fans will stop showing up to the United Center. It might not be “Dollar Bill” Wirtz era bad, but I can bet you will see 5,000-8,000 empty seats at the Madhouse if this team continues to spiral into 2022.

I do feel like if the Blackhawks made changes and did more of a traditional “rebuild” approach, fans would at least feel better about there being a defined direction even if the team is not winning right away. It is probably easier said than done, but I was one of those fans who wished the team could have just been blown up and rebuilt from scratch. New front office, new coaches, new players etc. Feels like that is not going to happen. If you are not going to tear it down, then at least make significant changes to the team structure to try to compete.

Boy I sure hope the Bulls are good because the Blackhawks, Bears and Cubs have me down.

Aaron Rodgers taunting just adds to the pain of being a Chicago Bears fan

By: Alex Patt

“I still own you.”

That quote is being shared by so many people and sports outlets. Within 20 minutes of this happening, I saw so many sports pages on Social Media sharing the clip or screencap of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers yelling at the fans at Soldier Field.

I was furious. I was tired. I was demoralized. I was numb.

Going to be real for a second, this shit just flat hurts. Just when I thought this rivalry could not get more lopsided, it did. Not just because Rodgers taunted the fans, but because of the fact that the Bears being 5-22 against him and have three *bleeping* wins against the Packers since 2011 is now under the prime spotlight of the sports world. Everyone outside the two fanbases now gets to laugh and joke about how Rodgers owns the Bears. You NEVER want to be the fan of the team that is on the wrong side of this sort of thing. It flat out sucks.

I wanted Justin Fields and the Bears to surprise us all SO bad on Sunday afternoon. I had hoped that we could get another positive glimpse at the future with an upset win and really give the Bears faithful something to be happy about. But like virtually every year, Aaron Rodgers has to ruin it. And you know what? He is not wrong. It looks like he was responding to what fans were doing in the stands, and it was the heat of the moment. This is based on his postgame response.

What hurts most about this is at the end of the day, the Bears and Bears fans have zero response to this. Rodgers wins this battle like he has every other battle against us. I am just so sick of it.

Every time this happens and I say how sick of it I am, I often get Packers fans say, “Just join us and become a Packers fan!” I have thought about leaving Bears fandom MANY times in my life, but they are a part of me and I cannot do that. So stop saying that to me.

Being a Bears fan has been more difficult than being a fan of any other of my primary sports teams. I have seen championships from the Blackhawks and Cubs. The Bulls are on the rise and watching the in-prime D-Rose years was fun. Sure, the Bears made the Super Bowl in 2006, but that is about it. So many painful losses, getting destroyed by our rival ever year, false hopes…not fun. Yet I stay around. Ugh.

What I hope is that this quote by Rodgers sparks a fire in this Bears team. Use this as motivation, not deprivation. Listen to those quotes every damn day. Post a picture of it on the walls at Halas Hall. Take it personally, just like Michael Jordan would!

That or just be thankful we will not have to put up with this much more.

I feel like I say, “I just want my team to be good and win” every dang year. I hold out hope like a pre-2016 Cubs fan talking about “next year” and yet nothing ever changes. Same old song and dance. The one taste of success we had against Rodgers in 2018 when they beat him to win the NFC North was something I cherished so dearly, but it did not last. I thought they had bit the head off the snake, but they did not.

Not much more to say.

Missing the thrill of “Cubtober”

By: Alex Patt

To quote Green Day, “Wake me up when September ends.”

That is how I feel when it comes to the Chicago Cubs 2021 season. For the first time since 2014, the Cubs will finish with a losing record and will miss the postseason for the second time in the past three years. This coming after a run of five postseason berths from 2015-2020, three NLCS appearances and their historic World Series win in 2016.

We were so used to losing for such a long time, then finally we got used to success for a good stretch run. Now going BACK to losing, it feels so demoralizing. It felt like the days of “Lovable Losers” was over, and yet here were. The core has been dismantled and another rebuild has begun…in what was supposed to be the team’s prime window of contention. Blame for the downfall can be discussed and debated for the ten billionth time, in the end we are where we are and nothing will change that.

On one hand, hitting the reset button is probably what was necessary for this team. On the other hand, it still sucks. Even if they had kept the core intact at the deadline, they probably were not going anywhere anyway. The team’s infamous 11-game losing streak back mid-summer sealed their fate and it was clear the “Golden Age” of Cubs baseball was over.

Now here we sit, watching other teams (including the team very close on the South Side of Chicago) clinch postseason berths. It is a painful reminder of where the Cubs are now and where they once were not long ago. It had been seven years since we saw the Cubs enter September with no postseason position to play for. Even when the Cubs missed the postseason in 2019, they were in the Wild Card race until the final weeks.

Feeling the air cool down and seeing the trees turn yellow, orange, and brown just is not the same without Cubs playoff baseball to look forward to. When I was a kid, watching the Cubs make the playoffs was pretty much a bonus. Over the past half-decade, watching the Cubs make the playoffs was a normal part of Fall. Counting down the magic number, watching clinching celebrations, looking at the Wild Card and/or NLDS schedule, it was like Halloween was not the only October holiday. Even the past few postseason appearances for the Cubs when they went out with a whimper, at least there was still meaningful baseball at Wrigley Field.

I just miss being part of it…watching my team get ready for baseball beyond the regular season. What makes this worse is who the hell knows what that will happen again. Owner Tom Ricketts and president Jed Hoyer keep talking about this being a quick transition…but how? The farm is deep, which is great, but so young with a lot a guys a ways away from the majors. How can you fix a team filled with holes in one offseason? Improve? Of course, but not turn into a contender. Honestly, the next few Septembers/Octobers are probably going to feel like this one. I do not have a crystal ball, but I do not see the Cubs even flirting with postseason play until 2023 at the EARLIEST. Could be even longer.

At the end of the day I am a Cubs fan and I have been through all, it even at the ripe age of 27. Most of my childhood/college life has seen meaningless Septembers for the North Siders and I did not think much of it at the time. I just really thought this losing business was going to be over for quite a while…guess not. As I have said before to other Cubs fans we have to stay strong and push through this. Hopefully brighter days are ahead.

Early 2021 Chicago Bears Predictions

By: Alex Patt

One more preseason game before the Chicago Bears kickoff the 2021 NFL season in Los Angeles. The Bears have a few bubble spots up for grabs, but overall we have a good idea of what the roster will look like.

Like it or not, Andy Dalton is slotted to be QB1. The three-time pro bowler has started 142 regular season games in his career, as well as five playoff games. His last pro bowl season was in 2016 when he threw for 4,206 yards and 18 touchdowns vs. eight picks in 16 games. Preseason games so far have…not looked so great with him under center…but that might not be all on him.

Look, the team has concerns. The offensive line has issues at tackle and the Bears hope future Hall of Famer Jason Peters has something left at age 39. Matt Nagy is taking back the playcalling…not Bill Lazor. As much as I like Nagy as a headcoach, his calling has not produced good results on the scoreboard and it can be INCREDIBLY frustrating to watch. A lot of the crap we saw the past few years we have seen in preseason. Bad calling, undisciplined play (lots of penalties in preseason so far) and lack of protection will be difficult for any QB, whether it is an aging veteran like Dalton or a potential upcoming star like Justin Fields. Just MOVING the ball has been a real challenge the past few years. That has to be better if they want to win.

There is also the matter of the defense, which is aging and teams seem to be able to scheme against better lately. They also let go of pro bowl corner Kyle Fuller in the offseason.

The defense still does has the talents of Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks, Danny Trevathan, Eddie Goldman and Roquan Smith in the front seven with Eddie Jackson and Jaylon Johnson in the secondary, but they need to get back to getting better pressure on the QB (especially Robert Quinn) and produce takeaways. Hopefully Sean Desai can bring this team back to the Vic Fangio days and everyone stays healthy. This defense on paper still looks very good but it has to produce closer to what it did a few years ago.

Special teams and WR depth outside Allen Robinson and Darnell Mooney is also a concern. The special teams (outside kicking) have looked awful in preseason and they need to clean it up.

Overall, the Bears need to:

-Get good QB play from Dalton and/or Fields (feels like he will play at some point in 2021)

-Protect the passer

-Establish a run game and get David Montgomery going to help balance out the offense

-Simplify the calling when needed but do not be too predictable

-Front 7 needs to get to the QB to help the secondary make their jobs easier

-Defense needs to generate takeaways

-Play. Disciplined. Football.

Here is my early prediction on how the Bears will do week-by-week:

Week 1 @ Rams: L

This Rams team, now with Matt Stafford under center, has a great defense and can put a hurting on the Bears in more ways than one.

Week 2 vs Bengals: W

Even with Joe Burrow back under center, the Bengals still have a lot to prove and I think the Bears can handle them in their home opener.

Week 3 @ Browns: L

The Browns can either build off the season they had last year…or go back to being the Browns. As it stands right now this can end up being a real tough game for the Bears if the Browns keep trending upwards.

Week 4 vs Lions: W

The boys from Motor City are in a rebuild and the Bears ideally should be able to take care of them at home.

Week 5 @ Raiders: W

While not a horrible team, the Raiders are beatable and I feel the Bears can take them on the road.

Week 6 vs Packers: L

The Bears can’t beat Aaron Rodgers.

Week 7 @ Bucs: L

Even though they won against Tom Brady and the eventual champs last year, going on the road to Tampa will be very tough.

Week 8 vs 49ers: L

If the 49ers rebound from last year, they can be a contender in the NFC again and their defense (if healthy) can give the Bears fits.

Week 9 @ Steelers: W

The Bears have the Steelers number, and Mack and Co. can feast on what ever the hell is left of Big Ben.

Week 10: Bye

Week 11 vs Ravens: L

Bears historically suck coming off the bye, and the Ravens are one of the better forces in the AFC.

Week 12 @ Lions: W

Bears have won three-straight games in Detroit, including two on Turkey Day. They look to get another Thanksgiving victory.

Week 13 vs Cardinals: L

This game feels like a coin toss, but do not be surprised if the Bears struggle against Kyler Murray and J.J. Watt.

Week 14 @ Packers: L

Hopefully this is the last we see of Aaron Rodgers in a Packers uniform.

Week 15 vs Vikings: W

Minny can certainly contend for a playoff spot and they have talent to do so, but they do not scare me that much and the Bears have historically been good against them at Soldier Field.

Week 16 @ Seahawks: L

The “Legion of Boom” is long gone, but Russell Wilson can pick apart any defense with his arm talent and weapons he has on offense. Especially in Seattle.

Week 17 vs Giants: W

Is Daniel Jones the answer in New York? Who knows, but the Bears can certainly beat the Giants at home I feel. Though this might not be as easy of a game as we think.

Week 18 @ Vikings: L

Again, this could go either way. I just feel like the two teams will split this year so I gave benefits to the home teams.

Record: 7-10

I think at least they are a seven win team and if some close games go their way, can get eight or nine wins at the most. The schedule is tough and it will be a big test for them. When Justin Fields plays can make a huge impact, but until then we assume Dalton will be starting under center.

I want the Bears to be better and make the playoffs…I really do. I just do not think they are quite good enough to do so. Competitive? Sure, but contenders…meh. I hope I am wrong! Go Bears.

Cubs fans, we have to stay strong

By: Alex Patt

Let’s be real, this is a tough time to be a Cubs fan. The team has been dismantled and what is left is mostly unrecognizable to the average baseball fan. Willson Contreras, Kyle Hendricks, Jason Heyward and the empty shell of Jake Arrieta are all that remain from the team that ended a 108-year drought just five years ago. The team will miss the playoffs by a wide margin and is on a rebuilding path.

Look, from a baseball operations perspective I will argue that rebuilding was the right call. As much as we loved what the core did on the North Side, the team was not succeeding like they were expected to and had not won a playoff game since 2017…in what was supposed to be the PRIME window of contention. The game passed them by fast and it was time for the Cubs to make changes. Sure, we can also point to the front office, development, and ownership’s recent refusal to spend as reasons for the downfall, they are all indeed big parts of it, but it was time to make massive roster changes regardless of how much one factor contributed vs. another.

This does not make it any less emotional or frustrating. Saying goodbye to Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, and Javier Baez brought a tear to my eye if I am being completely honest. Between seeing Rizzo take in Wrigley one last time after being traded to the Yankees or Bryant getting emotional in the dugout after finding out he was dealt to San Francisco, it was tough to witness. Even if this was expected and necessary for the future, still not an easy pill to swallow.

Who knows if any of these guys get resigned. Right now it honestly looks like the bridges between them and the Cubs have been damaged, unfortunately. We will see.

It stinks that it had to come to this and I wish it could have ended better, but this is where we are and we have to move forward.

Jed Hoyer in return for selling off major pieces has built up the farm system with notable prospects. These pieces are being looked at as what will hopefully be key elements in the next era of Cubs baseball. The farm has a mix of guys that have been growing for a few years and are getting close, i.e. Brennen Davis, some who might be a year or two away, i.e. Kevin Alcantara, and those who are a ways away like international star Cristian Hernandez.

This rebuild will probably not take forever like others in baseball have, but it might not be quite as quick as some people hope. I personally think it could be 2-3 years before the Cubs have a shot at contending again. Even if they actually spend this winter, it is hard to see them fixing all the holes in one offseason. They could be competitive again fairly soon, but as a legit contender? It will not happen overnight. The next season or two could still be pretty rough overall. Hopefully by 2023 the Cubs at least see the next good team on the North Side start to take shape. Who knows, it could be longer or it could be sooner. Time will tell.

Until then, it is going to be rough and it is time to be strong.

We Cubs fans had suffered for 108 years before finally seeing that elusive title. We took the constant ridicule time after time as we remained eternally hopeful. We survived a Theo Epstein rebuild that required a lot of patience, even though we felt we had already waited long enough to see a winner. We stayed loyal then and we can stay loyal now.

As the team stands right now, they have fallen so far and are pretty much irrelevant in the sports world. Yes, the Cubs will always have Wrigley Field and will draw, but the rest of 2021 there will be plenty of empty seats and TV ratings will dip. Even in the city of Chicago alone, every other team looks to be making strides towards contenting now or in the upcoming seasons. The White Sox are now the baseball team in Chicago everyone is talking about, and they look like they will be contending for pennants and World Series for the next decade with the unreal talent they have. Hey, good for them. Even the BEARS have more promise short-term with the drafting of Justin Fields. Bulls and Blackhawks have made “winning moves” the past few weeks, while the Cubs have torn it down.

If one were to make “Chicago Power Rankings” right now, let’s be real…the Cubs are all the way at the very bottom. The Cubs are the butts of the jokes again, and we fans are already getting earfuls…just like old times! But hey, at least we can say we have actually seen our time win a World Series this time! Better than 1908. At the end of the day, however, we Cubs fans just have to focus on our team and worry less about outside noise. We will drive ourselves crazy worrying about what others say or think about us.

I cannot say this rebuild will work for certain, nor can I say that we will see another championship again any time soon…nobody can. What I can say is that if we stay strong and weather the storm, there are better days ahead. We might be down now, but we will not be down forever. If we can rebuild and finally win it all once, then who is to say we cannot win it again? Anything is possible, even if nothing is guaranteed.

To quote Harvey Dent from, The Dark Knight:

“The night is darkest just before the dawn.”

Right now we are in the darkest of the night. Each passing day as prospects develop and the plan becomes more clear, we get closer to the dawn. Remember that every day that passes, we are closer to being better than we were the day before. It is cliché and obvious, but it makes me feel better about this situation.

Until we can proudly “Fly the W” again, we will watch the seeds grow. We suffered together, we celebrated together, and we will get through this together. When the Cubs won it all in 2016, and thousands of people made their way to Wrigley Field to draw on the walls with chalk, it felt like we were all one family. We keep that same mentality, and we can get through anything. I know everyone has different emotional investment when it comes to baseball, and that is okay! I just urge Cubs fans to try to cope with this in the best way possible, however that might be for you.

Stay strong, Cubs fans. We are in this together!

Go Cubs.

Milwaukee Bucks success from a Chicago Bulls fan perspective

By: Alex Patt

The Milwaukee Bucks have clinched their first NBA Championship since 1971 in a thrilling six game series against the Phoenix Suns. Giannis Antetokounmpo, one of the NBA’s great stars, is the first Buck to win Finals MVP since the legendary Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. As a person with Greek blood in him, seeing “The Greek Freak” accomplish this is pretty cool.

As a fan of their division rival, the Chicago Bulls, how do I feel about it?

Illinois and Wisconsin typically see each other as bitter rivals when it comes to sports. Whether it has been the century-long clash between the Bears and Packers, the many matchups between the Fighting Illini and Badgers or the more recent battles between the Cubs and Brewers, the two Midwest states fight for bragging rights all year round. However, I feel like the Bulls and the Bucks do not have the same level of heat when it comes to Illinois-Wisco sports rivalries. I can personally say that if there is a Wisconsin team I do not mind, it is the Bucks. Other Bulls fans I know feel the same, not all of them, but a good number of them.

Here’s the thing that gets me, I never thought I would see the day where the Bucks are the far more relevant team of the two. The past few years the Bucks have been dominating and have finally won a championship, while the Bulls have not had a legit shot at a title since the Derrick Rose era. Yes, the Bulls are still one of the NBA’s big franchises with one of the biggest fanbases in sports, but they have not been winning. The Bucks have been winning and they are now in the national spotlight.

This is NOT a knock on the Bucks franchise or what they have done, I am just saying how things have changed.

I can remember as a kid watching the Bulls go to Milwaukee, and would always see the stands at the old Bradley Center covered in red. Back in 2005 when I was in fifth grade I went to a Bulls/Bucks game in Milwaukee, and I would say it was 75% Bulls fans there. Like they did often in my youth, the Bulls beat the Bucks that game. When Derrick Rose was in his MVP prime and the Bulls were at the top of the standings, they would absolutely destroy the Bucks. I still remember going nuts when Rose hit a game-winning buzzer-beater in Milwaukee and the place sounded like the United Center back in 2012. In those years the Bucks would appear on the Bulls schedule and they would be chalked up as a fairly easy win.

To sum it up, the Bulls were a big popular team (still riding off the MJ days years later) that would sell out every game and draw huge TV ratings, and the Bucks were kind of just…there. They existed. Not the worst team in the world, but nowhere near championship caliber. They had a loyal following and would draw okay, but not among the top-tier in attendance. The Bucks were simply a small market team with a local interest.

I can only imagine what it was like for the Bucks in the 90s having to Michael Jordan beat them on a yearly basis and go on to win six titles. It was against the Bucks the Bulls won their 70th game in 1996.

Go back and tell elementary/high school me that the Bucks would one day be the top dog between the two teams. Tell that version of me that the Bucks would beat the crap out of the Bulls and they would be winning a title before the Bulls in the 21st century. My response would likely be:

“What? The Bucks?!?…THEM?…That Bambi team from Milwaukee?…HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA Right!”

Even when the Bucks began building up in the mid-2010s, they still couldn’t get past the Bulls. Remember the 2015 first round? The Bulls clinched that series with a 120-66 win in Game 6. Since then it has been a 180 for both teams.

Now the Bulls are looking to get back to contention and will have Giannis and the Bucks as a team they have to get through. It is a tough test for Artūras Karnišovas, but I have to trust the process for now. AK is one of the best evaluators of talent there is and I certainly feel he is the right man for the job. How long before they are contenders again? Who knows, but right now they look up at the Bucks as they sit on their championship throne.

All I can say right now is congrats to the Milwaukee Bucks. They have brought joy to their city, and have caught the eye of the sports world. Giannis will go down in history for his excellent play while battling injury. Again, congrats Milwaukee.

This week felt like the end of this era of Chicago Cubs baseball

By: Alex Patt

June 22nd, the Chicago Cubs are tied with the Milwaukee Brewers for first place in the NL Central. They sport a +24 run differential and eight games above .500.

The morning of July 5th, the Cubs return home from a 1-9 road trip and are 8.5 games back of the Brewers, sport a -5 run differential. Their postseason odds have dipped 46.3% in the past 30 days.

It’s over. This season. This era. This core.

Cubs fans know the situation with Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, and Javier Baez being on contract years. We know the team already had intentions of using this year to start looking at the future with the Yu Darvish trade. We saw the team spend little over the past several years to improve the roster depth. We saw the organization fail to produce enough valuable assets within the system after the core came up in 2014/2015.

Zero playoff wins since 2017. Offense “breaking” at the worst possible times. Half-assed rosters due to saving money. Enough.

This core delivered the ultimate gift in 2016, and I will always be grateful for that. That team will always have a place in my heart. They were supposed to keep it up for years to come, and they simply have not. Competitive? Yes, they have not had a losing season since 2014 (that streak could end this year) but they have been treading water since the collapse of 2018, and have not been nearly good enough to return to glory.

This past week sealed the deal. The clock officially hit zero.

Last Wednesday the Cubs jumped to a 7-0 lead in Milwaukee in the first inning. I said to myself, “How are they going to blow this?” Next thing I knew when I saw the score an hour or so later. the Brewers DOUBLED up the Cubs and the game was not even half-over. This is where we are at. In my humble opinion, this era of Chicago Cubs baseball officially died that afternoon. Management cannot continue to go forward with trying to make something this faulty work. It has not worked in several years. This is the team we saw in April, again in June, and now in July. May was fun, but it was an unsustainable fluke. The classic Cubs “Boom or Bust”.

The trade deadline is approaching and I think Hoyer knows what to do.

Sell! Sell! Sell!

It has to be to the point where everything is on the table. Not saying Hoyer should force anything, but he cannot look at veteran players and not at least shop them. Bryant and Kimbrel are at peak value, they are your two top-trade candidates. Explore others like Baez, Willson Contreras. Leave no possibilities out. Sell time. I do not like the fact that we have to, but it’s just time to change the guard on the North Side.

Do the Cubs try to keep one core guy? They might, and maybe they should. That said, make that determination after the deadline and see what you can get for some of these guys. I still think Rizzo stays around. Restock the farm. Focus on development. Hope the next wave of prospects can give you something, because their farm is not that great right now.

Do the Cubs take more of a “retool” approach than full rebuild approach this offseason? Like the 2016 Yankees? Maybe, if they are willing to spend money this offseason. Just not sure how you can sell off and then retool in this scenario. Unless they sell and then make some free agent splashes this offseason while keeping some guys around. That could get tricky though, but it also depends on what kind of potential prospects come back. If they get prospects like they got in the Darvish deal…then that could be the signal a lengthier rebuild. Hopefully the Cubs can get stock up on prospects that are closer to the Bigs than not.

I can certainly say I am glad I am not in Hoyer’s position. Theo Epstein got out at the right time and Hoyer has to clean up the mess. All I can say is that it is time for a big shakeup and a new era.

I do not want to make this overly personal towards the players. I certainly could not go out and play baseball at a professional level, but I can see when things are not working. This past week could end up being the best possible thing to happen to the Cubs in the long run. Do not leave anymore doubt in the eyes of management, time to look towards the future. Rebuild, retool, whatever. Time to sell.

It is sad that this era, that started SO great, has to end like this. Thinking back to the three NLCS appearances and the elusive World Series title we all had waited for. I wish I could go back and remind myself that nothing is guaranteed and not take the championship for granted. I truly believed this core was going to be flirting with a dynasty. Something that is SO hard to do in baseball. This did not end abruptly either, but a slow and agonizing downfall. The 2018 collapse, the 2019 bullpen mess, the awful showing in the 2020 playoffs, and now this. Had the Cubs won 2-3 World Series and this was happening while everyone was in their 30s and winding down, I think fans would be more understanding and at peace. Kind of like when the Blackhawks started falling off after three Stanley Cups.

This downfall happened in what was supposed to be part of their prime window to keep contending for titles. That is what hurts.

Was this era a failure? Of course not! Winning a World Series and seeing five out of six years of playoffs is something living Cubs have had never witnessed. They won more playoff games from 2015-2017 than they had from 1945-2014. It just ended up being disappointing since we expected much more.

Cannot dwell on the shortcomings of 2017-2021 anymore. Cannot try to reanalyze what the core is for the millionth time. It is time for a new era and a new vision. I certainly would not wish ill on any current players that could potentially be on the move. We might be upset with the team now, but give it 5-10 years after they are gone and we will be remembering our past heroes fondly, like we did for so many teams that did not win the World Series. Time heals wounds and makes us treasure the good and remember less of the shortcomings.

Buckle up, Cubs fans. It could get a hell lot worse before it gets better.

Evaluating the Chicago Bears QB situation in July

By: Alex Patt

Happy 4th of July weekend! You know what that means? We are a few weeks away from Bears Training Camp! It felt like just yesterday when the Chicago Bears traded up to take Justin Fields in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Now that we have had OTAs and mandatory minicamp, the players will be preparing to report to Training Camp on July 27.

Since the dawn of time, man has asked the same question every year:

“How will the Chicago Bears QB situation shape up this season?”

This year, that question comes with a bit more excitement from Bears fans knowing Fields is on the team. However there is also some frustration among fans, as Fields is not seen as “QB1” yet in the eyes of coaches and management. That honor currently belongs to veteran Andy Dalton, whom the Bears brought in via free agency this offseason. The Bears also have Nick Foles on the team, at least for now, and will make a guaranteed $4 million this year and is a $6,666,666 cap hit.

Here is a breakdown of each quarterback on the team and their current projected position on the depth chart:

QB1: Andy Dalton

2020 with the Cowboys: 11 games – 64.9% completion, 2,170 yards, 197 Y/G, 14 TD, 8 INT, 87.3 Passer Rating, 5 AV (Approximate Value)

Career: 144 games – 62.2% completion, 33,764 yards, 234.5 Y/G, 126 TD, 86 INT, 87.5 Passer Rating, 104 AV

Overview and highlights:

Dalton was the longtime starter for the Cincinnati Bengals from 2011 – 2019, while spending 2020 as the backup in Dallas. He started nine games in Dallas after Dak Prescott got hurt. Dalton is a three-time Pro Bowler (2011, 2014, 2016), has eclipsed the 4,000 yard mark twice (2013, 2016) and threw over 30 touchdown passes in 2013. In terms of regular season, the guy has had a good career overall. The big dark spot on his resume is his 0-4 playoff record. While he has helped carry his team to the playoffs five times (2015 he was injured and did not start the playoff game against Pittsburgh), the numbers in January are pretty ugly. It includes 1 touchdown vs. 6 picks and a 57.8 Passer Rating.

Right now the Bears are looking at him as QB1 for week one against the Rams. Dalton has not played at a Pro Bowl level in several years now and the 33-year old is probably not going to play at that level again. When it looked like he was the solution for 2021, Bears fans rioted. Now that Fields is in the picture, the situation feels better. Having Andy Dalton in the room while grooming Fields could be a good thing, just not sure Dalton will contribute much in terms of wins in 2021. Tough schedule and an older quarterback past his prime? Eh…. But, hope for the best because right now I do not think Pace or Nagy will budge with their QB1 decision.

QB2: Justin Fields

2020 at Ohio State: 8 games – 70.2% completion, 2,100 yards, 22 TD, 6 INT, 175.6 Rating

College Career: 68.4% completion, 5,701 yards, 67 TD, 9 INT, 178.8 Rating

Overview and highlights:

One of the big prospects to come out of the draft, a lot of people are high on Fields. His skill-set, athleticism and work-ethic have impressed scouts and coaches throughout his college career. The scouting report from says he has, “All the tools”. He has a strong arm that is very accurate, has speed, and is a “natural playmaker”. His abilities help allow him to be a “duel threat” quarterback, using mobility and athleticism to use his legs and keep defenders second guessing. Fields has also been praised for his composure under presser, something that sounds like a breath of fresh air to Bears fans.

All is this sounds good, right? Look further into his college accomplishments.

In 2019, after transferring from Georgia to Ohio State, he helped lead his team to a Big Ten Championship victory, was named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year and named on the All-Big Ten Conference Team. He finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting. In 2020 he brought another Big Ten Championship trophy back to Ohio State, defeated Clemson with a six-touchdown, 385 yard performance before making it to the National Championship game. Fields and Ohio State ended up losing to Alabama in the Championship, but it was still another great run for Fields and the Buckeyes. He was once again named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year and to the All-Big Ten Conference Team.

Fields is the future of the Chicago Bears. The sky is the limit. Can the “QB Curse” FINALLY be broken? Let us hope. Even if he is not QB1, if I was a betting man I would absolutely bet we will at least see him play at some point in 2021. Be smart with developing him, but also let him get his feet wet.

QB3: Nick Foles

2020 with the Bears: 9 games – 64.7% completion, 1,852 yards, 10 TD, 8 INT, 205.8 Y/G, 80.8 Passer Rating, 3 AV.

Career: 67 games – 62.3% completion, 13,753 yards, 81 TD, 43 INT, 205.3 Y/G, 87.1 Passer Rating, 35 AV.

Overview and highlights:

This man has had one of the oddest careers of any NFL quarterback in recent history. Foles has seen both massive struggles, and epic triumphs. In 2013 with the Eagles he was named to the Pro Bowl. That year he threw for 27 touchdowns and only two picks in 13 games and was league leader in Passer Rating (119.2) among qualifiers. His greatest accomplishment to date includes taking over for starter Carson Wentz in Philly in 2017 and leading the team to a Super Bowl victory. Foles was named Super Bowl MVP for his 373 yard, three touchdown pass and touchdown catch on the “Philly Special”, effort. The man has more playoff wins since 2017 than the Bears do over the past 20 years.

Foles has also had major struggles in his career. He was benched in Jacksonville after signing a multi-year deal prior to the 2018 season, the year after he won his Super Bowl. After Mitch Trubisky struggled in 2019, Ryan Pace went out and traded for Foles in a desperate attempt to find a solution. Foles did not repeat any 2013 or 2017 Philly magic, nor did he click with Matt Nagy (who had prior connections together under Andy Reid) as some had hoped in 2020. He came in for Trubisky in Week 3, and then got benched again after Week 10.

Question remains, will he be here much longer? The Bears have reportedly tried unloading him, but so far they have not been able to. He is making a lot of money and is currently a very expensive third-string quarterback. Can he help the room as a leader/mentor? Sure I guess, but that is one expensive leader/mentor. Nothing personal against Foles but the Bears should try everyway possible to unload that contract onto some rebuilding team that needs a veteran quarterback. If not, then he will be their third option behind center.

Looking to Training Camp.

OTAs were impressive for Justin Fields, and there is a possibility that he can outshine both Dalton and Foles by a lot in camp. So if that is indeed the case, does/should that change how the QB1 spot is filled out before Week 1?

There are so many different things to consider when thinking about this. What is best for Justin Fields and his development? How can the Bears both develop Fields and try to win with what time is left with their current defense? Should Fields just play if he wants to learn? So many questions to ask. I, like most Bears fans, want to see the team win this year, as well as make sure Fields can develop successfully.

As it stands right now, a few weeks before camp, I see both perspectives on what to do with Fields. If letting him play and learning while on the field is best for him, so be it it. Let him play. If sitting behind Dalton to start feels like the best approach, I will not be overly upset with that either. Not sure if starting Dalton is best for the team winning, but more than anything I want to see Fields develop properly to set up years of winning with a good quarterback.

I am of the opinion that management cannot 100% declare Dalton QB1 before seeing what happens in camp first. Want to lean towards him being QB1? Fine. Just wait to see how camp plays out before making that final decision. If Dalton plays well and Fields plays well, then Dalton is probably Week 1 starter. This is a situation where the veteran is going to get the upper hand if the results are close. If Fields plays well, but shows signs of needing to learn, then make a decision based off that. If Fields plays great and Dalton struggles mightily…then Bears brass might just have to tell the kid he is the starter.

Preseason is going to be exciting. In Training Camp and preseason games at Soldier Field, the fans are going to stand and cheer when Fields puts on a helmet and lines up under center. Every throw is going to see bulbs and phones flashing all around him, followed by loud cheers for every completion. Preseason is what it is…preseason…but the hope is that it shows us what could possibly be coming in the near future.

The Cubs should give Ben Zobrist the send-off he deserves

By: Alex Patt

It is really heartbreaking to see what former Cubs, Rays, Royals and A’s star Ben Zobrist has gone through in his personal life. Zobrist is clearly having a tough time dealing with it all, and he deserves so much better in life. By all accounts it seems like he is a really good guy, and we all know he was a heck of a ballplayer with a great story.

A kid from Eureka, Illinois who needed to scrap together $50 to keep his dreams alive of becoming an MLB star would grow up to play 14 years in the majors, make three All Star teams and win two World Series rings.

Zobrist’s final four seasons of professional baseball were spent on the North Side of Chicago, where he would be a key in the Cubs 2016 World Series run. Making the All Star team that year, driving in the go-ahead run in the 10th inning of Game 7, and winning World Series MVP honors made that four-year deal worth every single penny. In 461 games as a Cub he hit .269/.362/.411 with 40 home runs and 84 doubles. He also recorded 21 postseason hits from 2016-2018. Also worth noting in 2018 he batted a career-high .305 in 139 games.

Unfortunately in 2019, his final year as a Cub and in baseball, things in his personal life took a tough turn. He had to take leaves of absence in Spring Training and much of the 2019 regular season. Now we know the unfortunate details of what has taken place over the past few years. I, will not go into the details about is, the story is linked above and frankly I do not think it is appropriate to focus on the negative. This is intended to focus on Ben Zobrist and how he should be recognized.

Zobrist did come back and finish 2019, but he never got a proper thank you and/or send-off. The future of his playing career was uncertain at the time and he clearly has a lot to deal with now. His agent says his playing days are over now. He had an awesome career, and his stint with the Cubs will be remembered by fans for a long time. Not only for his accomplishments on the field, but also off the field, and the way he treated fans so well.

Stories of him signing autographs for everyone in front of his home, praying with an elderly woman with advanced Parkinson’s disease, and being there for fans when he was rehabbing in the minors. These are just a few examples.

He deserves a proper thank you and send-off to retirement. The Cubs really need to make that happen somehow, or at least try. It would be amazing for his former teammates and a packed house at Wrigley Field to all give him a big standing ovation. Banners, video board messages, signs, all reading, “Thanks Ben!” Do a cool video montage of people thanking Ben and highlights from his Cubs stint. Give him #18 off the old scoreboard. Call it, “Ben Zobrist Day” at the ballpark. Just rambling off ideas, but I think that would all be cool and the right thing to do.

I truly hope the Cubs brass has been there to help Zo out during these times. We do not know what goes on behind the scenes, but they seemed to make it clear that they think of the world of him and understood when he had to take a leave of absence. A perfect way to show that would be to honor him in my opinion on a special day.

Of course, it might be in Zobrist’s best interest to take care of all this personal stuff first before coming back into the public view. He also might want to just humbly lay low, and if that is the case, that is completely understandable. Best to do something when he is ready to. Who knows, said things could have been discussed already.

Heck, maybe there are other ways for the Cubs and fans to honor him while he stays a bit more private. Send him a video with people thanking him? Send him some sort of cool gift? Have a cool Zobrist-themed giveaway at Wrigley? There are so many different ideas that people can brainstorm. I just feel that regardless of the circumstances, there is a way for the Cubs and their fans to give Zobrist the honor he deserves. Whether it is an in-person ceremony at Wrigley or gift/tribute package to him. Not only as a way to thank him for his contribution to the team but to raise the spirits of a good man going through a really tough time.

Let’s make something happen, Cubs!