The Bulls and Blackhawks are done for the season. The Bears, we hope, will play in 2011, but that is still in doubt. So baseball is all we have, and for those of you just tuning in, here's what you missed in the first two months of the season.
The Cubs this season have been mediocre at best. They seem unable to put together any type of winning streak or in fact any type of losing streak either. The key story for the Cubs so far has been injuries. They lost 40 percent of their starting rotation in early April when Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner went down. Wells should be back soon but Cashner's return date is still unknown. Now Matt Garza has been placed on the DL as well. Carlos Zambrano has been ok. Early in the season he continued his success that began late last year. Ryan Dempster has been anything but an ace this season. His 3-4 record isn't horrible but his six plus ERA is. The bullpen has actually been OK. Carlos Marmol and Jeff Samardzija have had great seasons. The bullpen hasn't had much pressure this season because the games rarely are close with the Cubs either down big or up big.
The position players haven't avoided the injury bug either. Geovany Soto and Marlon Byrd are currently on the DL. Soto will be back soon ,but Byrd could be out a while with multiple facial fractures after getting hit in the face last weekend. The lineup doesn't really have anyone that scares you. Darwin Barney and Starlin Castro have nice numbers but are primarily singles hitters.
Defense has been a huge weakness for the Cubs. The way they've mis-played fly balls and made errant throws sometimes you might wonder why are they showing a little league game on CSN?
This appears to be what you can expect for the next four months from the Cubs. If you want to see this in person, plenty of seats are available. The park looks as empty as it was pre-Harry Carray. Tickets outside the park are being sold for a fraction of the face value and in some cases it looks like you might have your own section. Wrigley Field seemed to always be the best party in Chicago no matter how bad or good the team played, what the weather was like, or how expensive the tickets might be. So far this season Wrigley has not seemed like the place to be.
The White Sox entered 2011 with high hopes and expectations. They finally got the left-handed power bat they've sought for years when Adam Dunn came on board. After the first couple games of the season it seemed like the hopes would be as expected. Then the bullpen imploded blowing many games early on. The defense also began to let them down as well. Dropping fly balls and giving extra outs became the norm and the Sox began to take losses from the jaws of victory. The pitching figured itself out and then the hitting stopped. The lowlight was getting no hit by Francisco Liriano who until then hadn't ever pitched a complete game.
Some of the high points this season have been Phil Humber who was placed in the rotation to replace Jake Peavy. This seemed to be just a short term move while they waited for Peavy to return from off season shoulder surgery. Peavy came back and Humber has been too good to take out of the rotation. He has probably been there most consistent starter this season. In fact the Sox are currently using a six man rotation.
Brent Lillibridge has also been a pleasant surprise off the bench. The natural infielder has been nothing short of brilliant in his play in the outfield.
The low points seem to have out numbered their high points this season. Adam Dunn isn't even hitting his weight. You knew Dunn would strike out a lot, but his career has shown he should walk a lot and hit a lot of home runs as well. They'll need more of the latter to get back in the race.
Matt Thornton and Chris Sale have been disappointing thus far as well. The first few weeks the crowd seemed to jump on the "We hate Will Ohman" bandwagon. In all honesty he has been their best lefty out of the pen the past few weeks.
Chicago sports fans have been spoiled this year. The Bears were one game from the Super Bowl. The Blackhawks made the playoffs. The Bulls had a great season and made it to the Eastern Conference finals. For the next several months, all you have are the Cubs and Sox. If the first two months are any indication I wouldn't expect the same success of the other three Chicago teams. Luckily the baseball season is a marathon not a sprint and with both teams in weak divisions maybe they can carry the momentum of the Hawks, Bulls, and Bears. Enjoy the next few months. It's all we have to watch.