For the last six years, the city of Chicago has been painted red and black with a Native American head smack dab in the middle of the city. The Chicago Blackhawks have been to four of the last six Western Conference Finals and won two Stanley Cups in a six-year span.
When it seemed like the Chicago Bulls would recapture the glory of the 1990′s and paint the Windy City red again, multiple knee injuries to superstar point guard Derrick Rose dashed those hopes for the time being.
The Chicago Bears haven’t been to the Super Bowl since 2006 and haven’t won on Super Sunday in 29 years. Although the high-powered offense is taking shape with Marc Trestman and Jay Cutler at the helm, “Da Bears” haven’t been able to capture their former glory.
With the Bulls and Bears falling short in recent years, that leaves Chicago’s two baseball teams: the Cubs and White Sox.
Sure, the White Sox ended a 88-year World Series drought in 2005, but since then: one AL Central division title (2008).
Turn away for just a second, Cub fans.
It’s been 105 years since the Chicago Cubs laid claim to being on top of the baseball mountain. Since their seven-game National League Championship Series loss to the Florida Marlins in 2003: two NL Central division titles in 2007 and 2008, but were swept out of the playoffs in both seasons.
This past weekend was the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft and both the Cubs and Sox had top-five selections. The Sox picked third and took North Carolina State left-hander Carlos Rodon. With the fourth pick, the Cubs took Indiana catcher/outfielder Kyle Schwarber.
(I’m with Marc Silverman of ESPN Radio Chicago’s “Waddle and Silvy“. The name Schwarber has Chicago written all over it.)
Rodon was arguably college baseball’s best arm for the past two seasons, despite a 6-7 record in 2014. Schwarber led the Hoosiers to their second straight Big Ten Tournament title by hitting .354 in 59 games.
Per the standard of developing high-caliber baseball prospects, neither Rodon or Schwarber will make immediate impacts for their respective clubs.
Of course, most thought that about Jose Abreu and we’re seeing how wrong we were before the season.
The point is, the name of the game in baseball is youth and both Chicago clubs have (and are in the process) the young talent to make a little noise in the coming seasons.
Chris Sale (the No. 13 pick in 2011) is becoming of the best overall pitchers in the game today for the Sox and the Cubs’ No. 2 pick last year, Kris Bryant, is causing all kinds of havoc in the Double-A ranks for the Tennessee Smokies.
Personally, as a Sox fan, the thought of a left-handed pitching trio of Sale, Rodon and Jose Quintana dethroning the Detroit Tigers atop the AL Central is a wonderful thought.
After a poor start to the year, Baez is hitting just .230, but has eight home runs and 29 runs batted in for Triple-A Iowa. Baez dominated AA-ball in 2013 by hitting .294 with 20 home runs and 54 runs batted in.
Bryant has dominated AA-ball, which is getting Cubs fans anxious as to when they will see the 22-year-old stud. Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer has made it clear that there’s no rush to promote Bryant to Iowa with Baez. Our own Jordan Campbell spoke on those reports here.
In just 62 games, Bryant is hitting an astonishing .356 with 21 home runs and 54 runs batted in for Tennessee. Is that good?
Even though Chicago has become the hockey capital of the Midwest, fans of the Windy City baseball teams should be excited for the years to come.