Last night, and a little this morning, Chicago experienced the first real snow fall of the season. Sure, we had flurries already, but this time that damn white stuff stuck to the ground and people instantly forgot how to drive in snow. Oh well, that is winter for ya. Part of winter (at least for us Northern states) is driving through all elements, which unfortunately includes snow.
Another fun part of fall and winter for us Chicagoan sports fans is the Chicago Bears and Chicago Blackhawks. In most years, we count on the Chicago Cubs to at least keep us entertained until June or July when training camp starts for the beloved Bears, in previous years they have been our stop gap in the never ending sports seasons. A lot of Chicago is already done with baseball around then and cannot wait for the season to end so they can watch the two sports that unite us, instead of dividing us like baseball does.
This year though, with the Chicago Bears getting used and abused weekly, for one of the first times that I can rememeber, we are anxiously awaiting the end of football season. We cannot wait for baseball season to start up again. Honestly, can you blame us?
While the Cubs have yet to do anything to celebrate, they are bringing a lot of excitement. The Cubs seem to be giving their fans something to get excited about almost every other week this off season.
With the hiring of Joe Maddon, the Cubs finally have a manager who knows and understands both the old school tactics of the game, and the new school tactics that have proven to be successful. Nothing against “Sweet” Lou Piniella or Dusty Baker, but they are not the same caliber of manager that Maddon is. While Piniella has already won a World Series as a manager, while Maddon has only appeared in one, he was already in retirement mode when he came here. He lost that passion that made him such a desirable manager for a competing team.
The Cubs also have minor league stud players who are ready to burst on the scene. With the likes of Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo leading the charge of young studs there is reason to be excited. Jorge Soler has already exploded onto the scene and there is still more to come. There is a player in the minors, not sure if you have heard about him, but Kris Bryant might be the most anticipated prospect in Cubs history. He has been that impressive. Fans have been waiting for him for over a year to make his debut at the big league level.
But you want to know what is really exciting? As good as he has been, as anticipated as the fans are in his arrival, he is not even the Cubs number one prospect; at least not anymore. I am not sure if you have seen the newest rankings, but Bryant is no longer considered to be the Cubs top prospect. He dropped to number two when another prospect leapfrogged him.
No, not Soler, even though he has major league experience, due to lacking enough he is still considered a prospect and is ranked number three. The new number one prospect is Addison Russell. You know, the kid who was the main piece in the trade of Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel? Yup, he has been that impressive that he surpassed Bryant in the rankings. The other kid the Cubs got back, Billy McKinney, he is just number six. Yeah, just.
Imagine how good Russell has to be, to be considered an even better prospect than Bryant. Problem is, at the moment he is a little blocked. I say just a little because he is a short stop, and short stops can play anywhere on the diamond. Russell can move to third base or second base, with Bryant moving to the outfield as predicted, or maybe he takes over short stop from Castro as many fans seem to thing. Whether that means Castro changes positions or is traded remains to be seen.
Another fun thing that popped up, the Cubs will no longer be hosting the St. Louis Cardinals on April 6 as originally scheduled. That game has been cancelled. Instead, they are playing the Cardinals the night of April 5. That’s right, they are opening up the season for all of baseball. A task that is usually designated to the reigning World Series champions (this year that would be the San Francisco Giants), falls on the shoulders of the Cubs. That is a huge honor.
While that will be a very cold night in early April, this is a huge honor for the Cubs who will be debuting a brand new ball park, which is the same as the old ball park, only updated to join the 21st century.
With as bad as the Bears are playing, I cannot wait to see them stop playing so we can all watch the Cubs explode on the scene. I guarantee they will be much more exciting than whatever the Bears are doing right now. Baseball cannot come soon enough.