Chicago Sports Teams Seeking Clearer Vision in the 2020 Decade


Left to right: Alex DeBrincat, Duncan Keith, and Brandon Saad of the Chicago Blackhawks celebrate in their Winter Classic sweaters after scoring a goal against the Colorado Avalanche on Friday November 29th, 2019.

It is a new year, a new decade, and for most Chicago teams, a new era of success. Each professional team in the Second City has made significant changes in an effort to prove that they are second to none.

If I had to make one prediction going into the new decade, I would wager that each team is going to have a term of success within the 10-year period. The doubters and naysayers may disagree with me based on the history of some of these teams, but I strongly believe that there will be at least 1 playoff season for each team.

The team closest to a playoff berth would have to be the Chicago White Sox. Baseball analysts have been covering the South Siders all winter due to the groundbreaking moves they have been making.

The White Sox knew they needed pitching in all aspects to finally be a contending team. The front office was bold this year and went after LHP Gio Gonzalez from the Miami Marlins. The White Sox also reached agreements with their lights-out, right-handed closer, Alex Colomé (1-year at $10.5M), as well as LHP and starter Carlos Rodón (1-year at $4.45M) who will be retuning sometime in the second half of the 2020 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in May of 2019. Rookie, RHP Michael Kopech is also expected to return from Tommy John surgery at the start of the season. Even the relief pitching earned a boost when the Sox signed RHP Steve Cishek ($6M) for 1-year from their crosstown rivals, The Chicago Cubs.

However, the biggest addition to the bump for the Sox, was the acquisition of LHP Dallas Keuchel ($13M for 1-year). Many have said that the former Houston Astro and Atlanta Brave is too much of a groundball pitcher for this new strikeout-favoring league. Although, the statistics don’t lie that he is a proven successful pitcher, and with the defense behind him, groundballs shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

Speaking of defense, the White Sox have also made some gigantic moves to solidify both the infield and the outfield. The first move they made was resigning first-baseman Jose Abreu for $50 million over 3-years. While the entire baseball world was focused on where Steven Strasburg and Gerrit Cole would sign their multi-million-dollar contracts, the South Siders snuck in a trade with the Texas Rangers that brought in outfielder Nomar Mazara to close the gap in right field. Another $50 million contract was dealt to prospect OF Luis Robert. His contract is for 6-years, yet he hasn’t even played a game in a White Sox uniform! Despite his lack of major league experience, he has boasted some outstanding numbers with Charlotte in the White Sox farm system.

On the flip-side of the coin, the Sox signed a man with lots of major league experience in Edwin Encarnación. The first-basemen will most likely be a designated hitter on the south side which was one of the biggest attributes the White Sox offense was lacking last year. Perhaps the biggest move the Boys in Black made this offseason was bringing in catcher Yasmani Grandal for 4-years at $73 million; the largest contract in White Sox history!

White Sox sign Yasmani Grandal for franchise record-breaking contract. Photo courtesy of The Chicago White Sox.

Grandal is a big bat that the White Sox need in their lineup and even though the White Sox already have an all-star catcher in James McCann, it never hurts to have options. has labeled Chicago’s new pairing behind the plate as “the best catching tandem in the league”. Whichever player does not catch can always be thrown in the lineup at first base or as a designated hitter. Having competitive and rotating talent at these three positions is always a good problem to have!

The North Siders made some interesting decisions this offseason as well. Coming off their first season in which they missed the playoffs since 2014, the Chicago Cubs were eager to make changes in an effort to salvage their remaining playoff talent and not fall into a dreaded rebuilding phase like their counterparts across town have had to endure for the last decade plus.

The Cubs wasted no time removing their manager of 5-years, Joe Maddon. Maddon is a 3-time Manager of the Year award winner and a 2-time American League Pennant winner (Tampa Bay 2008, Chicago 2016). Maddon managed the Cubs to their first World Series title in 108 years back in 2016.

After losing 16 of their 27 games, including a 9-game losing streak, in September of 2019, the Cubs dropped well out of the first-place race and the wild card race. This came as a shock to the North Siders, as they thought that any playoff spot would have earned them another dominating run in October.

The front office saw this lack of late season success as a reflection on their manager and decided to swap him out with ex-Cub and veteran catcher David “Grandpa” Ross. Ross was seen as a leader in the locker room and behind the plate in the Cubs 2016 World Series run. Ross retired from the team at the end of that same season. The front office hopes that he can return to the team and lead them in a similar way now that he has been named their new “Bench Boss”.

As I mentioned before, Cishek was scooped up by the White Sox in free-agency this offseason, but he was not the only pitcher to leave the Cubs this Winter. One of the Cubs top starters, Cole Hamels took a deal with Atlanta after being left out on the table by Chicago. However, the Cubs were able to bring back Switch-Handed Pitcher Jose Quintana, whom they acquired from the White Sox back in 2017. Quintana signed a guaranteed, $26.5 million contract over 5-years with the White Sox back in 2017, but was traded to the Cubs along with his contract in the same season. Quintana is expected to make $10.5 million of that contract this year on the north side.

The Cubs had a fairly quiet offseason when it came to the rest of the diamond, but that wasn’t a bad thing per say. The North Siders were able to avoid arbitration with the majority of their talent this offseason. 3B/OF Kris Bryant agreed to a 1-year $12.9 million contract and a 1-year $7 million contract was awarded to OF Kyle Schwarber. The Cubs did release Addison Russell and did not offer him a contract after he was placed on administrative leave by the MLB for abuse allegations against his ex-wife this past season. A lot of Cubs fans will be happy that superstar first-baseman Anthony Rizzo will also be returning this year after the Cubs picked up his $16.5 million option for 2020.

3B Kris Bryant will remain a Chicago Cub for the 2020 season. Photo by Fox Sports.

Catcher Wilson Contreras, outfielder Albert Almora Jr., and shortstop Javier Baez all signed 1-year returning contracts of $604,500, $584,500, and $5.2 million respectively. It seems as though some of these players may have taken pay cuts in order to remain with the team in a time in which the Cubs are struggling to make their payroll fit.

Regardless, Wrigleyville is happy to have most of their core talent return after, arguably, their second most successful decade in team history and most successful decade in the last century!

“Chicago has a professional soccer team?” is what I hear from some of the typical uncultured Americans. Although, the MLS is not known for having the same caliber of talent that European clubs bring in, it is the most well-known league in North America.

YES, Chicago does have a team! Everyone should have heard of them by now, because just a couple of seasons ago, they acquired German soccer superstar, Bastian Schweinsteiger. Despite his retirement from the sport in 2018, he gave the Fire a great deal of success during his tenure here in Chicago.

This past season, the Fire came up short and did not make the playoffs, but big things were still to ensue. The biggest change would be the move. The Chicago Fire have played at Seatgeek Stadium (formerly Toyota Park) since 2006, however, this next season, the Fire will call Soldier Field their new home while the Chicago Bears are hibernating for the summer.

The Chicago Red Stars, the Women’s professional soccer club will still play at Seatgeek Stadium. There will still be concerts and events at the Bridgeview stadium as well, but the Fire have a new home for the time being.

In addition to a new home, the Chicago Fire have unveiled a new logo. The old logo consisted of a classic Chicago Fire Department logo with a red “C” in the grey center circle. In the above triangular quadrant is the word “Chicago” and in the below one is the word “Fire”. The new logo has a new color scheme. The blue has become a darker indigo compared to the previous navy blue. The fire is represented by a trident-like set of gold flames mirrored by the same set of flames in an orange-red below the gold as if they are being reflected. The symbol itself is a vertical oval with “Chicago” above and “Fire FC” below. You can see the comparisons in the two logos in the image below.

Then and now: the comparison of the Chicago Fire FC logo. Photo courtesy of

Chicago did not lose any players to the expansion draft that the MLS held in order to jumpstart new teams in Nashville and Miami. The Men in Red selected Defender/Midfielder Jonathan Jimenez in the 2020 MLS SuperDraft with the 26thoverall pick. The Fire initially had the 10thoverall pick, but traded with the New York Red Bulls in exchange for a lower draft pick and $100,000 in General Allocation Money.

The remainder of this list, is disappointing news for Chicago sports fans. Arguably, the three most notable and beloved sports franchises in the city are struggling the most.

The Bulls were not expected to be a contender this year, just like last year, and the year before that. The team has been subpar for some time now and fans are unsure if they are trying to compete or are purposefully tanking for a draft pick just like 66% of the NBA. The argument for “super teams” in the MLB is that they actually help the game, but it is a very different story in the NBA. A story that the recent Chicago Bulls teams know all too well.

The last time Chicago had something even close to a “super team” was in the early 2010s when they had Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah. However, these teams always seemed to run into roadblocks whether it was injuries or certain teams having their number and knowing how to defeat them.

The last time the Bulls had a championship run was in the Michael Jordan era. Indeed, the 1990s were, no doubt, the greatest decade in Bulls history, but with each passing decade, it seems as though the talent is slipping away as well.

The 2020 NBA All-Star Weekend will be held at the United Center, home of the Chicago Bulls.

Top NBA talent will be coming to Chicago soon, but not in the way that you might think. The 2020 NBA All-Star Game will be held at the United Center.

The home of the Bulls will host fans and NBA Superstars from all 30 teams. There will be a 3-Point Shooting Contest, and a Dunk Contest (which is a huge fan favorite) on Saturday February 15th, as well as the actual All-Star Game on Sunday February 16th.

Chicago hopes to see its very own Zach LaVine in the All-Star Game as well as the Dunk Competition, but he has to get voted in first. As of right now, Chicago has zero players representing in its own All-Star Weekend.

Ah yes, DA BEARS! This year was supposed to be the year, right? The Bears had gotten rid of Kicker Cody Parkey, who arguably cost them a season, and things were shaping up for another run to the playoffs in their 100th season in franchise history. That was until the injuries and the underperforming got underway.

Defense is something that the Bears have always prided themselves upon, but 2019 ended up being a huge step backwards. Akiem Hicks was injured for 10 of the 16 games this season with a knee injury and an elbow injury. This allowed most teams to double-up their coverage on Bears superstar Khalil Mack. The Monsters of the Midway lost ground in almost every defensive aspect in 2019 compared to just a season prior. The defensive line still ranked 4thin the NFL in points allowed and 8thin total yards, but the injured defense combined with the lack of offense kept the Bears out of the majority of their games.

Dec 5, 2019; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky throws a touchdown pass in the Bears’ alternate jerseys in their 31-24 win against the Dallas Cowboys at Soldier Field.

The offense led by Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky was far from stellar. The offensive line gave up too many opportunities and it seemed as though Mitchell Trubisky couldn’t live up to the standards he set for himself the previous season. Chicago started the season with a loss to their hated rivals, the Green Bay Packers, but went on a 3-game winning streak, including a victory against the rival Vikings, to boost their record to 3-1. However, a 3-game losing streak followed and the Bears soon found themselves looking up from the bottom of the standings.

The inconsistency continued throughout the rest of the season. The Bears played each of their divisional rivals twice, as usual, and if it weren’t for the 2 losses to the Green Bay Packers, they would have gone undefeated in the NFC North. However, 2 wins would have only put them in second place at 10-6 on the season; still 2 wins away from their 12-4 record from 2018.

Following the unexpected and unfortunate season, the Bears fired their offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich, offensive line coach Harry Hiestand, as well as tight ends coach Kevin Gilbride and assistant special-teams coach Brock Olivo. The Monsters of the Midway are hoping this will lead to better results in 2020 considering the talent they still have.

Last, but certainly not least, the most successful team in recent Chicago history: The Chicago Blackhawks. The Blackhawks are coming off of their most successful decade in their history after winning 3 Stanley Cups in 2010, 2013, and 2015.

Closing out the decade with a 5-3 win against the Calgary Flames on New Year’s Eve would have been the cherry on top of their successful decade if it had not been for the fact that the Blackhawks finished the 10-year span by missing the playoffs 2 years in a row. This year looks like it is going to be 3 seasons without Chicago in the NHL playoffs.

It doesn’t help that the last two times the Blackhawks made the playoffs, they were booted out in the first round by divisional rivals the St. Louis Blues, who just won their first Stanley Cup in team history, and the Nashville Predators who have also seen playoff success in recent years.

The Blackhawks fired head coach Joel Quenneville in November of 2018 after some creative differences between ‘Q’ and General Manager Stan Bowman.

Most Blackhawk fans forget that a great deal of the players that make up the core of the team, and who were responsible for the ‘Hawks success, were actually drafted or acquired by the previous GM, Dale Talon. Talon now controls operations for the Florida Panthers and was an integral part in bringing in Quenneville to coach Florida this past year just the same as when he brought the second all-time winningest NHL coach to Chicago back in 2009.

The fruit of Talon’s tenure is just now starting to run dry and it has left fans questioning whether Stan Bowman is the right man for the job. The organization can count on one hand all the great acquisitions Bowman has brought to Chicago (and kept) in recent years. The misfortunate trades and decisions made by the GM have far outweighed the positives.

Left to right: Blackhawks Chairman Rocky Wirtz, CEO John McDonough, GM Stan Bowman, and Head Coach Jeremy Colliton.

One of the biggest decisions that fans are unhappy about goes back to the Quenneville firing which, in-turn, named Jeremy Colliton, 35, as the youngest head coach in the NHL. Blackhawk fans are quick to remind him of his inexperience and whose shoes he has stepped into as the Chicago faithful either fall silent when Colliton’s name is announced or chant “Q!” in remembrance of their properly Chicago Mustache-d coach.

Regardless of what happens on the business end, the skates must still hit the ice and the team has to show up to play consistent hockey. The Blackhawks have struggled to do that lately despite their star-studded roster.

The Hawks have young talent from players like Alex DeBrincat, Dylan Strome, Erik Gustafsson, and Adam Boqvist. They still receive production from veterans like All-Star Patrick Kane, Captain Jonathan Toews, and Brandon Saad, but unfortunately, some of the older talent is fading.

Defenseman like Duncan Keith and Olli Matta are not what they once were. Neither are defensemen Brent Seabrook and Calvin De Haan who have recently joined veteran forward Andrew Shaw on the long-term IR.

Fans and coaches have liked what they have seen from young defenseman Dennis Gilbert, as well as forward Alex Nylander, and 3rdoverall pick Kirby Dach, but it’s hard for the offense to stay consistent or shine when the Blackhawks struggle to clear the puck out of their own end.

Some fans would rather have defenseman Henri Jokiharju instead of Nylander who were the 2 players at each end of a Bowman trade this past summer with Buffalo. Jokiharju has become an all-star defenseman with the Sabers which is something the Blackhawks desperately need on the blue line these days.

Not clearing the puck out of the defensive zone is what causes goaltender Robin Lehner to have to stand on his head every night just to keep Chicago in games. Corey Crawford tries to do the same but his recent injuries and the constant rotation of goaltenders has proven to be difficult on the goaltending tandem. Colliton tries to switch between goalies every other game in an effort to see which one is better. This strategy has proven to work against the Hawks as neither goalie has seen enough consecutive games in order to feel comfortable in the crease which is a huge problem considering we are halfway through the season.

In a couple of years, this younger core should emerge and the hockey success will once again return to Chicago. Chicagoans just hope that we are all still spoiled with watching Patrick Kane’s incredible moves when that time comes.

So, it isn’t that far-fetched to say that every Chicago team will have some kind of playoff success in the next 10-years. Many teams are on the verge of greatness and just need a little push to achieve that goal. A few Chicago teams are at the fulcrum and can either rise to greatness quickly, or fall from grace and have to go back to the drawing board. Other teams are sitting in the cellar and are planning a rebuild, but each and every one of these teams is fighting for that chance which means that they are already well ahead of anyone who isn’t trying.

10 years might seem fast, but it should be plenty of time for our professional teams to turn things around and bring some hardware back to Chicago. After all, this is the greatest city on the Earth, with the greatest sports fans, and they deserve better than what we have as far as teams right now!