The Cubs are pretty good this year, and maybe getting better. They just happen to be good in a year the Cardinals are very, very good. Put the Cubs in the National League West and they’re only a game out. Put them in the East and they’re just a half game away from the Nationals. It seems to me that if the Cubs can add just one better than average starter they could challenge the Cards.
The White Sox on the other hand are not the second best team in their Division some thought they would be (me included). Everything might be coming together right now after they took two games from the current best team in baseball, the Cards and a team with a much better record than the Sox, the Orioles. I think some fans might be thinking Carlos Rodon should have been left in the minors and that he is no Chris Sale. It’s true he is not following a path similar to Sale’s, but he is following a path similar to Clayton Kershaw’s. When the Dodgers brought Kershaw up the talk here in L.A. was that he was going to be the next Sandy Koufax, but at that time he wasn’t. He had the tools, but he hadn’t learned how to use them at the major league level. His first year, he was mediocre at best, a lot like Rodon. It took Kershaw a couple years, but we all saw what happened once he matured.
The Bears could, and should surprise quite a few people this year. At the least they should finish 7 – 9, which would be an improvement, although only a moderate improvement, on last year. This is something people seem to be forgetting: only two years ago the Bears with Cutler and McCown at Quarterback had one of the five best and in perhaps the second best offense (depending on how one interprets the stats) in the NFL. Last season saw them slip quite a bit, but Marshall was injured much of the season and Trestman’s offense had become somewhat predictable. Bring in a new offensive genius, one whose history indicates he does not become as predictable as Trestman did, add a corp of healthy receivers and what could be a wealth at running back and that top five offense should be resurrected. Beyond that with Vic Fangio and John Fox shaping the defense it should be at least a little better than the gawd-awful Mel Tucker defense of the last two years. It seems many people do not add that up in the same way I do, but I will be very surprised if the Bears – in what is essentially a “stay the course” year – turn in a losing record.
Because of the NHL’s ‘salary cap’ limitations, the Black Hawks have lost Brandon Saad and are likely to also lose Bryan Bickell or Patrick Sharp or both. For some teams the loss of two or three players the caliber of Saad and Sharp could be a death knell, indicating a fall upon hard times. That’s not the case for the ‘Hawks. They’ve lost other important players, perhaps key players after every one of their Stanley Cup seasons during the past six years (Dustin Byfuglien, Antti Niemi, Nick Leddy), yet they’ve been a serious threat to win the Stanley Cup every year since 2010. Sure the loss of Brandon Saad is disappointing, but by no means does it mean the Black Hawks will not be the team to beat again next year.
The Bulls brought back Jimmy Butler. They should be a pretty good team again next year, but as long as LeBron James is playing on another team, its unlikely the Bulls will be adding another banner to the six Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and company brought to Chicago. I don’t care who the coach is, I don’t care who else the Bulls manage to add, I doubt it’s going to happen.