Time for Some Bull?

Time for Some Bull?

Friday, Jan. 29, 2010
1:35 AM

Having a sports addiction is never an easy thing, but at least it doesnt require me to have to apologize to my wife and take a trip to Hatiesburg. Well, make that I dont have to go Mississippi, the basement maybe, and on second thought, Im always apologizing to the wife, so I guess I have more in common with Tiger than I thought. What it means is, as one door closes, another opens, and it never stops! For me, with the Super Bowl coming up, football is over, and baseball is not here yet, so I need something to fill the void. My primary focus has been on football, followed by hockey. Now hockey is going to be the focus, followed by? I have three options: pro basketball, college basketball or golf. Golf and college basketball still have a little time before they will become national obsessions (hoops for a month, golf for a week) so I guess Ill try pro basketball.

Ive been a pro basketball fan all of my life, but sometimes its a hard road. Either the teams I root for are bad, or the style of ball being played is not to my liking. I cant count how many times I talk to guys at the bar who say that theyre not fans of the NBA, but prefer college hoops instead. I almost never hear that about football. (Then again, I dont live in the south.) But pro basketball is always there, so I always watch. It just takes until now for me to really pay attention. Just like a game. The old saying is that you dont have to watch a game until the final two minutes. The season is the same way. Pick it up at the halfway point and ride it home. Once again, its a league of have and have nots. Unlike football, where most fans can watch any two teams play, and watch a bad home team religiously, thats not the case with basketball. The only Nets action being watched is on a cable highlights show. Who cares? There are 8 teams that people watch, and the rest. Actually, that might be a high number: Celtics, Cavs, Lakers, thats more like it. Memphis is a nice story? Where? 10 games over .500 would put you on a pace to win 50 games, the usual barometer of a good team. 7 do right now. Out of 30.

That being said its now the NBAs time to try to take some spotlight. And, it shouldnt be for Gilbert Arenas gun show. Here in Chicago, the Bulls have been greatly overshadowed by the resurgent Hawks. In this town, right now, the Hawks are a runaway freight train. Ask any bar owner. My observation of the mood of the town towards any of its teams is part of my job everyday. Do people want to talk about them? Do conversations about them get eye rolls? (Like the Bears dual coordinator searches!) Do people want to watch them on TV? (Thus staying at the bar, eating and drinking!) The Hawks are that team in town right now. I know the Bulls attendance is leading the league again, but I dont see that kind of devout following at the bar. Going to a Bulls game is a lot of fun, I can attest to that, but sometimes watching a game on TV can take some effort.

Well, guess whos watch-a-bull again? Thats right, your Chicago Bulls! After another slow start and the yearly will they or wont they fire the coach on a holiday, the Bulls are back. This even though they never left, go figure. There are two main themes to this 2009-10 season. The Bulls are positioning themselves for the big free-agent market after this season to add a marquee player and the development of last years 1 draft pick Derrick Rose, who will combine with said player to re-lead the Bulls to greatness. As always, Ill believe the free-agent part when I see it. There will be serious competition for the free-agents and having the money to pay them wont guarantee their arrival. But this Derrick Rose thing? I think they might have something there. He started the year injured and tentative, but for over a month now, hes been out of his mind. So much so that he was named a reserve on this years all-star team. The 1st Bulls All-Star since M.J.!

This is the time to get on-board and find out where the Bulls are headed. With the lack of good teams in general and the East specifically, I dont think its out of question for the Bulls to make a run to the 5th seed. This only happens with Rose continuing to assert his game, that and a few others making shots. Rose is averaging 23.3 points a game this month to go along with 6.5 assists. But numbers in any sport dont tell the whole story and neither do these. He is taking over games and is the best athlete on the floor. If you need convincing go to YouTube, and watch his dunk over Goran Dragic last Friday in Phoenix. Are you kidding me? (As an aside: if you listen to the CSN feed, I thought Stacey Kings head was going to explode!)

So as the thermometer continues to plummet, and baseball seems, and is, far away, tune in the Bulls, if for no other reason to watch a local who is turning into a superstar before our very eyes.

Take it from your friendly bartender, its safe to watch again, preferably @ 33 W Kinzie.

Saturday on CSN: Kyle Hendricks, Cubs face Reds

Saturday on CSN: Kyle Hendricks, Cubs face Reds

The Cubs face off against the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday, and you can catch all the cation on CSN. Coverage begins at 3:00 p.m.

Starting pitching matchup: Kyle Hendricks vs. Robert Stephenson

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Latest on the Cubs: All of the most recent news and notes

World Series thank-yous follow Kris Bryant to Las Vegas

World Series thank-yous follow Kris Bryant to Las Vegas

MESA, Ariz. – Kris Bryant didn’t need to pose for a Crate & Barrel billboard in Wrigleyville or walk a goat around a Bed Bath & Beyond commercial shoot. Cub fans just kept sending him free stuff.

The wedding gifts actually shipped to his parents’ house in Las Vegas, where he honed the swing that landed him on a new Sports Illustrated cover that asked: “How Perfect is Kris Bryant?”   

This happens when you mention your registries on a late-night show with another Vegas guy (Jimmy Kimmel) after leading an iconic franchise to its first World Series title in 108 years.        

So Bryant will be the center of attention in Sin City this weekend when the Cubs play two split-squad games against the Cincinnati Reds. But that spotlight will pretty much follow the National League’s reigning MVP wherever he goes. 

At least this gives Bryant a chance to chill at the pool and organize the house he moved into in January. 

“My mom just kept throwing stuff in my car: ‘Here, take it!’” Bryant said. “Opening all those boxes, I can’t believe how many presents we got from fans. It was unbelievable. Jess is going to have to write all the thank-you notes. I’m just signing my name on them. You have literally like 700 thank-you notes to write.

“I said: ‘You need to just go get the generic thank-you.’ She’s like: ‘No, they took the time out of their day to buy us a present.’ This is going to take her the whole year. So if there’s anybody out there that’s waiting for one…”    

The wait is finally over for generations of Cub fans. Spring training will always have a “Groundhog Day” element to it. But this camp – with no major injuries so far or real roster intrigue or truly wacky stunts – has felt different. As the players get ready for a new season – one without 1908 looming over everything – they can’t escape what they did. 

“Every day something reminds me of it,” said Kyle Hendricks, who will start Saturday in Las Vegas. “Even going to throw in these spring games, when they announce your name and the whole crowd erupts because of the World Series. That wasn’t happening last year. 

“Little things like that make me notice. Something every day is brought to my attention, so it’s still getting used to that part.”  

The Cubs insist there won’t be a hangover effect in 2017, believing that this young group is too talented and too focused to get derailed by distractions and overconfidence. But the Cubs could go 0-162 this season and Bryant would still probably be breaking down boxes for recycling.   

“It’s funny,” Bryant said. “We just put cameras on my house for security and I’ll just look at it sometimes. I’ll randomly see my mom just unloading boxes. I’m like: ‘Mom, what’s going on? Are we getting more stuff?’ She’s like: ‘Yeah, we keep getting more boxes.’”