Now that Santa has left gifts under the tree and gone back to the North Pole to plan for Christmas 2023, it is time to think about the New Year! Scrolling through social media, you'll see acquaintances, friends, and family maybe posting about working out more, losing weight, or eating better... "New Year, new me!" type things. Well, let us do a "New Year, new team!" for the 2023 sports calendar year, Chicago Edition. What can each team in the Chicago market do to improve on their '22 year?
Chicago White Sox
What happened in 2022? For White Sox fans, what didn't happen? A team that was widely considered a World Series favorite ended up being the definition of mediocre. With a record of 81-81 they finished 11 games back of the Division Champion, Cleveland Guardians. Tony La Russa, 78, stepped away from the team in August due to health concerns and, eventually, would leave with 1 year left on his contract.
Speaking of health concerns, the White Sox had problems keeping players healthy all year during 2022. Yoan Moncada was limited to 104 games and a batting average of only .212 while continuously battling lower body injuries (hamstring, foot, quad). Yasmani Grandal, again, limited from injuries (back, knee) hit .202 in just 99 games. Luis Robert was not the Luis Robert fans were expecting at all. Getting Covid-19 in May and battling a wrist injury took the potentially great player, off the field. Finally, Eloy Jimenez, has been marred by injuries since his crosstown trade from the Chicago Cubs. Although, he did have marginal success last year despite appearing in only 84 games (.295 avg 16 HR).
New Year, NEW TEAM!
In 2023, the White Sox resolution is a new workout routine that helps Chicago keep their players on the field! With TLR out, Pedro Grifol is stepping in as the new manager on the South Side and GM Rick Hahn expressed his happiness during the introduction press conference...
Finally, what fan would not want to hear their manager or coach say this...
So the hope in 2023 is that the Chicago White Sox can contend for the Division AND for the American League Pennant!
What happened in 2022? The Chicago Cubs started the year off fairly successful at 6-4 but ended the year where many believed they would... below .500 at 74-88 which was good for 3rd in the division.
2022 was also the Ian Happ, Willson Contreras goodbye tour. As the trade deadline approached on August 2nd, Ian Happ and Willson Contreras were sharing their stories, waving to the fans, and hugging teammates assuming it would be the last time they would be able to. WHELP, that was not the case. Much to many fans' surprise, both players were still with the team August 3rd and finished the year with the Cubs. Contreras would eventually become a free agent and see his talents go to the rival St. Louis Cardinals. Happ on the other hand is still with the club.
On the field, the Chicago Cubs were, well... according to ESPN's 2022 Attendance report ranked 11th in MLB with an average of 32,305 fans per game. Which is apprapo of the baseball being played on the North Side. David Ross has his players playing hard for him but star talent eluded the 2022 roster aside from the above mentioned.
New Year, NEW TEAM!
In 2023, the Chicago Cubs resolution is to finally build that project they've been putting off! With the acquisition of Cody Bellinger, you get a low risk, high reward player! A one-year 17 million dollar contract will help bolster a team in need of power and quality outfield play. The 27 year old, former MVP, will look to get back to form in Wrigleyville.
The big splash for the Cubs came in the way of Dansby Swanson after rejecting the offer from the Atlanta Braves to join, his "grandfather's second favorite team". With the elimination of the shift, having a Gold Glove shortstop is at a premium. Dansby and Nico Hoernor will allow the Cubs to have a quality duo up the middle for not just the 2023 season but the next 3 years at least!
The Cubs and Ross will look to vault themselves into division talk in 2023 with a diet of small ball and timely hitting!
What happened in 2022? The Chicago Bulls came out on fire to start the 21-22 season! The Bulls first half of their season saw a 27-14 record and free agent acquisitions DeMarr DeRozan and Lonzo Ball being key contributors to it. Unfortunately, the optimism would fade as Ball would go down with a knee injury (which he is still out with) and roles would shift causing weaknesses in other areas of the roster. We did see the Chicago native, Ayo Dosunmu, become a significant rotational piece for Chicago as well.
Zach LaVine would receive a max contract of 5 years $215 million making him the center piece for the Chicago Bulls success. As the old adage goes, too whom much is given, much is expected.
The Chicago Bulls came back for the 2022-23 season with the key word being continuity. No big moves were made and no additional shooters were added.
New Year, NEW TEAM!
In 2023 the Chicago Bulls resolution is to lose weight! This team could be apart of the crowd that wants to trim some fat and we could see a sell off. While Bulls GM Arturas Karnisovas was brought in to stop the rebuild, we will more than likely see the rebuild to the rebuild. Don't worry Bulls fans... AK has the ability to make this a quick turnaround........ right?
What happened in 2022? Very early in the year, January 10th to be exact, the Chicago Bears did what we all wanted them to do in 2021 and that was let Matt Nagy and GM Ryan Pace go. The Bears, being the Bears, hired a committee of people with extensive NFL expertise and some, not so much, to find the new general manager and head coach. January 25th, 2022, Ryan Poles became the newest Chicago Bears General Manager and was given his allotment of choices for potential head coaching candidates from the committee. In that, it only took him 48 hours to decide on former Colts defensive coordinator, Matt Eberflus.
I know what you're thinking because I was thinking it too... "crap another Ryan and Matt combo". Thankfully, Poles went all in on his 2022 resolution and trimmed a lot of the fat (money and age) off this roster. Eberflus, on the other hand, has steadied a locker room of younger role players and has maintained a generally positive moral despite a terrible record.
New Year, NEW TEAM!
In 2023 the Chicago Bears resolution is to get stronger! I view this team as the person who may have just started working out at a gym. Always did push ups and had a few weights in their garage but just didn't have the correct equipment for BIG GAINS! Not in 2023, this team starts growing and will be putting up big weight in no time because Poles getting quality around Fields and Eberflus' defensive system taking shape!
What happened in 2022? Oh how the mighty have fallen. Not a whole lot to be excited about here.
In 2023 The Chicago Blackhawks will and should continue to Tank for Beddard - Easy as that.
Thank you all for your support. It does not get said enough... thank you, thank you, thank you. Have a wonderful and prosperous New Year!
Until next time....