Chicago is a sports town… a cursed, pathetic sports town. Other towns may have it worse (I’m looking at you, Cleveland), but none of them are four-team towns. That isn’t to say we haven’t had rays of light… the Bears and Bulls both have solid legacies, and the Blackhawks and the White Sox (ugh) have recent championships. But, for a town that so dearly loves its teams, Chicago normally gets very little in return.
In all the bad years of Chicago sports fandom, though, it’s hard to believe that there’s been a worse one than 2011, a constant, (nearly) unrelenting parade of painful buggering. Let’s put on the rubber gloves and wade back in.
The year began on the frozen tundra of Soldier Field, with the hateful Packers in town for the NFC Championship game. Even though the Bears spotted them an early lead, we knew that with Jay Cutler, we had a chance. Until, coming back from halftime, the Sulker from Santa Claus was slouched on the sideline, and Todd Collins was suddenly our Championship Game quarterback. The same Todd Collins who went 10/27 with 0 TDs and 5 INTs in two games the previous October. Did we find a better backup during the previous three months? That would be ungentlemanly.
But, at least, Jerry Angelo would never make the same mistake twice. We would find a legitimate backup in the off-season, and… wait, what? Our big offseason acquisitions were Cowboys washouts Roy Williams and Marion Barber? Umm, OK.
What, us worry? 7-3, 5 in a row, until once again, an unseen injury knocked our Diabetic Wonder out for the season. But all we needed was to go 3-3 to make the playoffs! 0-5 later, we got to watch the Packers backup put up twice as many touchdowns and only a hundred fewer yards in one game than Caleb Hanie had all season.
Plus, our franchise RB (who we refuse to sign to a long-term contract), our #1 WR (as pathetic as that is), and our 33-year-old MLB legend all had major, season-ending injuries. And some guy with 8 catches decided to buy 1,000 pounds of weed and 10 kilos of coke a week, which is equally stupid and impressive (and if anybody doesn’t think there are some Bears names on his customer list, they’re kidding themselves… we can only hope the NFL decides to bury the whole matter).
Now we get to watch the Packers win their second straight Super Bowl.
Bright Spots: Jerry Angelo was fired. And Devin Hester broke some returning record.
Another year with Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, Carlos Marmol, Kerry Wood, Aramis Ramirez, and Alfonso Soriano. Whatever the Cubs lack in talent, they more than make up for in loyalty.
I could recap the pathetic 5th-place season, but it’s the same season we’ve been watching for years. But they brought in Theo Epstein! Of course, only one guy (Pat Gillick) has led different franchises to World Series titles, and the odds of breaking both the Red Sox and Cubs curses are off the boards. But, he’s so dreamy!
Bright Spot: Starlin Castro. And we beat out the Houston Astros by 15 games.
The White Sox
1.) Who cares?
2.) They finished 16 games out, and lost their belovedly overrated Mark Buehrle to the Miami Marlins, following the best Ricky Ricardo impersonator in the business.
Bright Spot: They still get to chant 1908 at the Cubs. And they didn’t beat up any umpires.
It’s hard to feel too sorry for them, since they won their first Stanley Cup in 49 years in 2010. But, they were lucky as hell to get it that year because they had to jettison a big chunk of their roster for salary cap reasons, including the much beloved Dustin Byfuglien. They barely made the playoffs, and wasted a return from an 0-3 first round deficit by losing Game 7 against Vancouver in OT.
Bright Spot: They are currently in first place. And did just win the Cup a season ago.
If 2011 was a colonoscopy for Chicago sports fans, the Bulls were like the awesome drugs they give you so you don’t remember it. Best record in the NBA. Coach of the Year. Executive of the Year. A glue guy who’s fun to root for, at least partially because you know he’s driving the other fans crazy (Joakim Noah). And the youngest MVP in NBA history, who we got despite 1.7% lottery odds, and who actually grew up in Chicago.
Of course, this all crashed on the shoals of the evil Miami Heat, after the Bulls squandered opportunity after opportunity in the Eastern Conference Finals. But, basketball’s normally a game of season-by-season progression, and at least the Heat blew the title.
And, odds are, the first-place Bulls will get a rematch, with a stable roster that should be an asset in a shortened season (granted, the Heat have the same). Plus, Rose has already proved himself morally superior to the Whore of Akron, signing an extension through 2017 (when he’ll still only be 28).
Let’s just say I’m having some feelings about Derrick Rose that make me feel like I’m cheating on MJ.
Bright Spot: Reading the fact that Rose’s age is the same as MJ’s number as some sort of sign. And realizing we won 62 games even though Noah was out for 34 games.