The Bulls Made The Playoffs And I’m Not Sure Why

Wait. The Bulls made the playoffs?

Who authorized this?

Why?

How?

OK. I know how. Jimmy Butler was superb down the stretch. The Bulls were 33-38 after losing to the Raptors in overtime on March 21. After that, Butler averaged 26.3 points on 52.1% shooting, 7.3 assists, and 6.0 rebounds in the Bulls’ final 11 games. They went 8-3.

It makes you wonder why a handful of talking heads in town want to trade him. To get picks? Sure. Let’s trust high picks with a front office that loooooooved Kris Dunn? The Bulls considered trading Butler for Dunn, who shot 37.7% from the field, 28.8% from the 3-point line, and averaged 3.8 points in 17.1 minutes per game. I think you want a little more production out of someone drafted with a top-5 pick. Remember, this is the same front office that traded up to draft Doug McDermott, said it wanted to get younger and more athletic weeks before drafting the athletically limited Denzel Valentine, and thought Marquis Teague was a better fit than Draymond Green.

Pass.

The Bulls and Celtics couldn’t be more different. Boston is a good team led by a good coach, and proactive front office that executed a rebuild AND has high picks to deal in case it wants to go nuclear to land a star on the trading block. The Bulls are a mediocre team at best, led by a coach who is totally out of his element, and a front office that seemingly devalues everything that makes modern basketball entertaining, and ultimately, good.

Basketball’s best teams have athleticism and perimeter shooting. The Bulls don’t really have either. They are to basketball what the White Sox were to baseball in recent years before the Cubs won a World Series after a five-year teardown/rebuild effort that seemed to set the wheels of change in motion over at 35th and Shields. I’ll never understand why the Cubs (who don’t play in the same league as the White Sox) can seemingly impact things when the Cavaliers (who share the same division and conference as the Bulls) win a NBA title and the Bulls stay committed to the status quo. As far as I’m concerned, it pretty much says everything you need to know about how the two organizations are run.

The Bulls are now locked into the 16th draft pick, where NBADraft.net projects them to pick UCLA PF T.J. Leaf. Whatever. Just don’t draft Grayson Allen.

My dilemma: I got a good price on the Celtics winning the East. Do I root for my money or for my interest? Does it even matter? Because in the end, the Bulls got everything they wanted out of the 2016-17 season — two more home games worth of revenue.

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Pictures From Chicago Cubs Ring Night

A collection of images I shot while at the Cubs-Dodgers game on Wednesday, April 12, 2017 at Wrigley Field. The Cubs players, staff, and front office received rings for their efforts in helping the franchise win its first World Series since 1908.

Fun times were had by all. Except probably certain members of the 2017 Cubs, who ended up losing Wednesday’s game 2-0 to the Dodgers.

Looking at “The Park At Wrigley.”

A new addition under the right field bleachers. All of the Cubs’ Hall of Famers have Cub-centric plaques at Wrigley. Greg Maddux was pretty good. Shame Larry Himes decided he wasn’t good enough. That guy…

I really like the design on the 2016 NL Pennant. Well done.

I take the worst selfies.

The 2016 Cubs Weren’t Supposed To Happen, But Did … What Does 2017 Have In Store?

I wanted to write something big and meaningful, but that will have to wait until Opening Night at Wrigley. (Tease.) Instead, here are various scattered thoughts I’ve pieced together that I’ve been wanting to share.

I’m having trouble deciding whether or not it’s easier to forget the amount of doubt that was cast from all angles throughout the Cubs’ tear down and rebuild or if it’s actually easier to remember the hurdles the team cleared to win the franchise’s first World Series since 1908.

In any case, the Chicago Cubs are the defending World Series champions and we shouldn’t lose sight of that.

Kris Bryant completed his journey from being the best player in college, to being the best in the minors, to the best among NL rookies, to the best in the National League. If you blinked, you might’ve missed a dinger or two. Anthony Rizzo is a clubhouse leader and face of the franchise. He’s come a long way from the Padres prospect who struggled to hit a good fastball. Jon Lester and Ben Zobrist proved that big-money free agent acquisitions can pan out, while Jason Heyward’s deal reminds us that teams can overcome the sunk cost of a bad contract if the surrounding pieces are superb. And I suppose Gold Glove defense at the position helps, too.

So what’s next for the Cubs?

 

So much of being a Cubs fan was building toward winning a World Series, that you almost felt as if would all end when it did happen. It didn’t baseball goes on. And that’s great. The Cubs have a lot of winning to do to catch up to baseball’s other elite franchises, and I’m looking forward to it.

That is the beauty of baseball. It’s 162 games in 183 days. Its daily inclusion makes it a fabric of our lives for three of the four seasons. From early March through late October, baseball is there for you. And there is no wrong way to baseball. You can enjoy Javier Baez’s enthusiasm, Willson Contreras’ never-ending energy, and Pedro Strop’s hat as much as John Lackey’s old school, all-too-serious, us-against-the-world snarling mound presence. The regular season features 2,430 games, so there is plenty of time to enjoy it all.

Baseball doesn’t stop. There will be new mountains to conquer in 2017 — and beyond.

Albert Almora Jr. was the first draft pick of the new regime and his development is instrumental in replacing Dexter Fowler, a fan favorite who was one of baseball’s most productive lead-off hitters. Will he take full control of center field or will he enter a timeshare with veteran Jon Jay?

Kyle Schwarber became a postseason legend (.364/.451/.727/1.178 in 51 plate appearances) before he played his first full season. But where does he slot in as a lead-off man splitting time between the outfield and the team’s third catcher?

Who’s gonna pitch? Postseason included, Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta, John Lackey, and Kyle Hendricks have logged more than 1,750 innings since the start of 2015. The health of a pitching arm is the hardest thing to pin down in sports, so who knows how these guys hold up again. As for the relievers, we know that bullpens are fickle, even ones as deep with options as the Cubs.

I don’t know how things will unfold, but I’m very much here to watch and find out.

After all, what you saw from the Cubs in 2016 wasn’t supposed to happen.

Theo Epstein wasn’t going to leave his hometown Red Sox in 2011. Joe Maddon wasn’t using his newfound escape clause to go to Chicago in 2014, either. The prospects the Cubs acquired weren’t going to pan out because, you know, they never do.

The Cubs weren’t overcoming a 2-1 deficit after back-to-back shutouts in the NLCS, which prompted a Los Angeles Times columnist to write the Cubs were choking. And when they proved not to be choking dogs, it wasn’t enough anyway because they didn’t have baseball’s of LeBron, so they definitely weren’t coming back from a 3-1 deficit to win the World Series — as James’ Cavaliers did approximately four months prior that June en route to winning the NBA title.

The 2016 season was a culmination of improbable things that came together to make the impossible dream happen. Now, let’s win two.

 

MLB 2017 Predictions Post

1144105Happy return to baseball, y’all!

Last time we checked in with one another, the Cubs won the World Series. Turns out it wasn’t a dream. Pretty cool if you ask me.

In addition to this season’s predictions, I’m sharing some of the futures investments I made while in Las Vegas.

As if I needed more things to root for this spring, summer, and fall.

 
AL EAST: Red Sox, Blue Jays, Orioles, Yankees, Rays
AL CENTRAL: Indians, Tigers, Royals, White Sox, Twins
AL WEST: Astros, Rangers, Mariners, Angels, Athletics
AL WILD CARDS: Blue Jays, Rangers
AL BEST RECORD: Indians
AL WORST RECORD: Twins
 
AL MVP: Francisco Lindor, Indians (60/1)
AL Cy Young: Marcus Stroman, Blue Jays (60/1), Yu Darvish (15/`1)
AL Rookie of the Year: Andrew Benintendi, Red Sox
AL Manager of the Year: John Gibbons, Blue Jays
 
NL EAST: Nationals, Mets, Braves, Marlins, Phillies
NL CENTRAL: Cubs, Cardinals, Pirates, Brewers, Reds
NL WEST: Dodgers, Giants, Diamondbacks, Rockies, Padres
NL WILD CARDS: Giants, Cardinals
NL BEST RECORD: Dodgers
NL WORST RECORD: Padres
 
NL MVP: Buster Posey, Giants (100/1)
NL Cy Young: Stephen Strasburg, Nationals (12/1), Madison Bumgarner (8/1)
NL Rookie of the Year: Dansby Swanson, Braves
NL Manager of the Year: Bruce Bochy, Giants
 
OTHER WAGERS
Regular season wins: Yankees UNDER 83.5
Regular season wins: Kyle Hendricks OVER 13.5
Regular season home runs: Kris Bryant OVER 33.5
Home run totals: Josh Donaldson (+1.5; +120) over Giancarlo Stanton
 
POSTSEASON
ALCS: Red Sox d. Indians
NLCS: Dodgers d. Cubs
WORLD SERIES: Red Sox d. Dodgers