COLUMN: It’s a rough stretch for Chicago sports, but there’s hope for better days ahead


Duane Burleson | AP

Chicago Bears defensive end Angelo Blackson sits on the bench during the second half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions, Sunday, Jan. 1, 2023, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

If the weather does not have Chicago sports fans feeling down this winter, the recent play of the Bears, Bulls, and Blackhawks coupled with the disappointing summer for the Cubs and White Sox certainly will.

How much can us fans really endure? The last couple years have been a torment to get ourselves to sit in front of the TV, or let alone show up in person. 

It is not any better here at DePaul, with the types of seasons both the men’s and women’s basketball teams are having. We hoped that we would get some excitement and winswith our professional sports teams, but instead we are instead distraught with more frustration. 

Ever since the infamous “double doink,” the Bears have had a combined record of 25-41 with six different starting quarterbacks. 

To finish the 2022-2023 season, the Bears finished the season on a 10-game losing streak. They broke the franchise record for most consecutive losses, after their loss to the Bills. 

The Chicago Bears’ current value sits at $5.8 billion, the fifth highest in the NFL. The Bears also have the oldest owner, Virginia McCaskey, who just turned 100 on Jan. 5. After the firing of head coach Matt Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace, Chicago introduced newly hired head coach Matt Eberflus and general manager Ryan Poles at the start of the 2022 season, Yes, another Matt and Ryan. 

With that, arrived Justin Fields, the highly touted quarterback prospect from Ohio State University. Fields fell out of the top-10 in the draft and was selected by Nagy and Pace with the 11th pick as the two tried to save their jobs. The hope in Chicago is that he is the franchise guy. Fields has played in 27 games and started 25, thrown 24 touchdowns, racked up 4,112 passing yards, 1,563 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns. 

It has been a rollercoaster watching Fields and his supporting cast. He is the most sacked quarterback in the league, with 55 sacks in one season and 91 total since being drafted in 2021. 

The important thing this season is that Fields broke out and was a highlight reel on the field. With him sitting the season’s finale Sunday against the Vikings with a hip injury, he finished the season with a Bears franchise record of 1,143 rushing yards. The record delivered us fans with an NFL record-breaking 178 yard rushing game against the Dolphins on Nov. 6. Fields came 63 yards away from breaking Lamar Jackson’s rushing record of 1,206 in a season. 

Despite Fields success, the needs of the team cannot be ignored. The offensive line, defensive line and weapons for Fields all need to be addressed, but will it take just one offseason to meet the needs. Can fans endure another failed Bears season? 

With over $100 million in cap space, by far the most in the league headed into the 2023 off-season, Chicago will also have the first pick in the 2023 draft for the first time since 1947.  Meaning Poles and the front office will have the franchise with all possible assets to turn things around. 

The Chicago Blackhawks can’t possibly be in a worse situation than the Chicago Bears with the NHL’s worst record of 9-25-4.  Ever since general manager and president of hockey operations Stan Bowman stepped aside after the conclusion of sexual assault allegations made by two former players against a former assistant coach, the organization has been in shambles. 

With Kane and Toews sticking around to sell tickets, the Blackhawks have had issues from previous coaches to former front office members with decisions that have been made to the roster. 

After going all-in for one more run at the Stanley Cup last season, the Blackhawks started 0-8 and finished 28-42-12. A combination of injuries and failure to play with one another on the ice led to a complete collapse. 

In route to likely draft first overall, Chicago could be in line to draft the next star, but with the new lottery format Chicago, they might be screwed out of the top pick. 

Chicago’s baseball teams are headed in two different directions. After a season of underachieving for the White Sox last season, World Series talk quickly faded. The 81-81 finish led to Tony La Russa stepping away to address his health in the final games of t he season. He was then fired once the season came to an end. 

General manager Rick Hahn has been under heat from fans for his failure to spend money in the off-season. After missing out on the Manny Machado and Byrce Harper sweepstakes in recent years, Hahn acquired left fielder Andrew Benentendi and added to the rotation with Mike Clevenger. 

In a weak AL Central, the Sox finished the second half of the season 35-35 and chatter of a Jose Abreu departure came true after the veteran first baseman left to chase his ring at the age of 37 with the Astros. 

The White Sox replaced La Russa with Kansas City Royals bench coach Pedro Grifol, who came in to manage his first MLB ball club. 

This could be the last push before the core gets broken up similar to the Cubs in the 2021 deadline. 

After the Cubs’ off-season, the north siders might not know how to feel with recent moves. Fans said their goodbyes to more members from the 2016 World Series team. Left-fielder Jason Heyward and catcher Willson Contreras both landed elsewhere. Contreras got his long term deal with division foe, the St. Louis Cardinals, and Heyward signed with the Dodgers in LA. 

Before fans had time to dwell on the loss of Contreras and Heyward, general manager Jed Hoyer grabbed shortstop Dansby Swanson, who finished the 2022 season with the Braves hitting the best in his career. The 28-year-old signed a seven-year deal in the midst of his prime and will be partnered with Nico Hoerner in the middle infield. 

The Cubs also acquired center-fielder and former NL MVP Cody Bellinger, who, at 27, will look for a fresh start after his struggles over the past two seasons with the Dodgers. 

Chicago also added stability to a questionable starting rotation with Jameson Tallion. At 31, Tallion comes from the Yankees and will be competing with a group of pitchers for the ace spot. 

Former Cincinnati Red catcher Tucker Barnhart also comes over on a two-year deal looking to split time with Yan Gomes behind the plate. More recently, Hoyer signed gold glove first baseman Eric Hosmer, as the Cubs are still trying to figure out the position. 

With the breakout of Christopher Morel and a season under the belt for Seiya Suzuki, the Cubs could be knocking on the doors of the wildcard spot. 

Finally, the Bulls. Nearing the all-star break, the Bulls have a weird start to the season, to say the least. After finally making the playoffs last season, fans and Bulls front office members were convinced that the Bulls had it all with chemistry growth and the acquisitions of center Andre Drummond and veteran guard Goran Dragic. 

Star Zach Lavine reached an agreement with Chicago in the off-season for over $200 million. 40 games into the season, he has not performed consistently. 

After giving up 150 points to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Dec. 18, the players disagreed on their lack of fight to play in games and give effort. 

It came to a point that talks in the league said Demar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic could be out the door by the deadline. 

The Bulls kept reiterating that they wanted to wait until Lonzo Ball returned. Ball has been off the court for a year since being diagnosed with a small meniscus tear in his left knee. 

After the Timberwolves game, the Bulls are 8-3, with wins over the Nets, 76ers and the Bucks. Lavine has had a 41-point game and two 30-point games during the stretch. 

Now, just two games under .500 and with players exceeding expectations, the Bulls find themselves two games out of the top-8 and could be back to silence the fans and critics. 

Not only is it dreading to step outside and find enjoyment with the weather, but so is Chicago watching sports. Like the seasonal calendar that changes, so can the outcome of Chicago sports, meaning brighter days are ahead.