Monday, November 26, 2018

SPORTING NUZ; Chicago-style: Who's bigger – Bears, or Wildcats?

I’m not much of a football fan. Yet even I can appreciate just how unique this season is for those of us Chicago-area people who take to the gridiron.
Maybe we could have a fantasy championship at Wrigley between the Bears and the Wildcats?
The Chicago Bears don’t actually suck, for a change. They’re in first place in their division, and it would take a collapse of historic proportions for them to fail to at least make it to the playoffs.

WE’RE GOING TO have people in coming weeks getting all worked up at the thought of a Super Bowl involving a Chicago team. The delusional thoughts will run rampant. They’re not going to dump the ’85 Bears (whose coach, Mike Ditka, these days is recovering from a heart attack) in Chicago’s sporting mentality. But they’ll come close.

Yet let’s be honest. They might turn out to be the second-most interesting local football tale of the year.

For we have the Wildcats of Northwestern University playing absurdly well. They are the top team in the Big Ten’s western division.

And after seeing Ohio State whomp all over Michigan, there will be those eager to see if Northwestern can actually win the conference – which would most definitely put them in line for a significant bowl game.
Wildcats to get better bowl venue than Yankee Stadium

CERTAINLY SOMETHING MORE prominent than the Pinstripe Bowl, to be played Dec. 27 at Yankee Stadium. Can the Wildcats actually manage to steal the thunder away from Da Bears? It’s possible, since a successful Bears season would be not getting totally humiliated in the playoffs, Whereas the Wildcats could actually wind up winning a bowl game.

Even though I’m sure the SEC-types who want to think the world doesn’t extend beyond Dixie will want to believe Alabama is the supreme football power – regardless of how anyone else actually plays.

Although it occurs to me there’s one way that this season tops the ’85 Bears – what if the Wildcats were to win a major bowl game, while the Bears also got into their third Super Bowl appearance ever. More likely than not, it won’t happen – but it’s something for some of us to fantasize about.

What else is notable on our city’s sporting scene these days?
Remembering their '05 victories?

HALL OF FAME FANTASIES: We’re at that time of year where the Baseball Hall of Fame is contemplating which former ballplayers deserve to be inducted amongst its newest members come 2019.

Two of the players getting their first – and most likely only – chance at induction are former Chicago White Sox pitchers Jon Garland and Freddy Garcia. Both of whom were a part of that outstanding starting rotation that enabled the Sox to win a World Series back in 2005.

The ’05 Sox technically already have one of their members in the Hall of Fame in the form of Frank Thomas (the slugger turned Nugenix pitchman), although Thomas actually spent most of that season injured and didn’t play a single game in the World Series.
Or have many forgotten by now?

Personally, I thought it an intriguing sporting happening when, in the final round of the American League playoffs that year, the White Sox beat the Los Angeles Angels – with the four Sox victories being complete game victories and Garland and Garcia ringing up two of them. They’ll most likely have to settle for the memories, rather than a bronze plaque in Cooperstown, N.Y.

MOST MEMORABLE?: Of course, one of the reasons that the two pitchers won’t get their moment of immortality is because of the way some people are determined to think that the Chicago Cubs championship of 2016 is all so significant.
Is this really Illinois history?

I couldn’t help but wretch at the thought of the recently-released results of a survey about Illinois history – asking people to pick the most-significant moments in our state’s 200-year history.

Perhaps it’s a plus that Moment No. 1 was Abraham Lincoln’s funeral proceedings – including the funeral train that took Honest Abe’s body from Washington to Springfield, Ill., while stopping in Chicago and passing through northern Illinois.

But the Cubs’ World Series title ranked No. 2 – as in we have people deluded enough to think that nothing else that has happened in the state other than the moment when the Cubs crushed the hopes of Cleveland Indians fans, who came oh so close to winning their own “first World Series” in 70-something years if only they could have held a lead in the final game.


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