Hello again sports fans, Carlos here giving you the latest Windy City Sports Report. In today’s edition, did the White Sox hang onto the division lead? Are the Cubs 100-game losers? Are the Bears still in first place? Will the Blackhawks ever play this season?
First up are the White Sox. After leading the division for most of the season, the Sox found themselves losing 11 of 13 down the stretch and were looking up at the Detroit Tigers. With the final 3 games on deck, they were 3 games behind, which meant they had to sweep their last series in Cleveland against the Indians while the Tigers had to get swept by the Royals in Kansas City.
In the first game, if they went down they would go down fighting. The backs-against-the-wall Sox came out and blasted the Indians 11-0. Hector Santiago, who started the season as the team’s closer, dominated the Indians over seven innings, allowing just one hit and striking out 10.
The victory proved to be hollow, however, when the Sox looked up at the scoreboard and saw that the Tigers beat the Royals 6-3 to capture their second straight AL Central title.
The Sox split the next two games and finished the season 85-77. They surprised the league by their play, but they will always remember the September collapse. They went 11-17 for the month, including 4-10 in the month’s final 14 games. They have some good building blocks and perhaps with a pickup or two in the offseason they can make another run next season and finish over the top.
Over at Wrigley, the Cubs looked to avoid losing 100 games for the first time since 1966. They went into the final series of the year with a 60-99 record. They were playing the Houston Astros, the one team with a worse record.
With futility facing them, the Cubs responded (how else?) by getting shut out 3-0. They finished the season 61-101. It was a long, difficult season, but it was good for some of the kids go through some growing pains. Now the Cubs’ brass has a good idea about their abilities and who should be on the roster next season. There are a few players there the Cubs could use to form a good nucleus. With Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer the future looks bright for the Cubbies.
Well the Bears had a productive week. They traveled to Dallas on Monday to face the Cowboys, and then went out to Jacksonville to face the Jaguars.
In Dallas, the Bears and Cowboys battled over a scoreless first quarter. After another battle in the second quarter, the Bears had a halftime lead of 10-7. That is where the battle ended. Jay Cutler threw a 34 yard touchdown pass to Devin Hester and the floodgates opened.
Dallas QB Tony Romo then threw an interception to Lance Briggs who takes it 74 yards to pay dirt. That was the second of FIVE interceptions by Romo. His first one also resulted in a touchdown return, by Charles Tillman. It was the second game in a row the defense scored on a turnover. The Bears blasted the Cowboys 34-18.
It was not all the defense that went well against the Cowboys, however. Cutler went 18-24 for 275 yards and 2 touchdowns. Also, Brandon Marshall had a monster game. He caught 7 passes for 138 yards and a touchdown.
On Sunday, the Bears took in the sunny rays of Florida, facing the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Bears were hungry for some meat and they mauled the Jaguars 41-3.
The Bears defense shined once more in Jacksonville. Again, it was Charles Tillman and Lance Briggs who returned interceptions for touchdowns. It was the first time in NFL history that the same two teammates returned interceptions for touchdowns in consecutive games. After a lackluster first half that ended 3-3, the Bears took off and outscored the Jags 38-0 in the second half.
Cutler had his first pass intercepted, but finished the game 23-39 for 292 yards and 2 touchdowns. His favorite target again was Marshall. Marshall had 12 receptions for 144 yards and a touchdown. Cutler repeatedly looked for Marshall and the Jags could not stop it from happening.
Matt Forte also had a good game. He had 22 carries for a season-high 107 yards. He also added 20 yards receiving.
So far this season the Bears defense has just been killing the league. Just in the last 3 games they have SCORED 5 td’s while ALLOWING just 2. They have 13 interceptions (no other team has more than 9), 5 interceptions returned for touchdowns (no other team has more than 2), and 4 fumble recoveries. Their 17 turnovers leads the league (Atlanta is second with 14), as does the total yards on interception returns, 288 (St Louis is second with 184). For a group that was supposedly too old to compete at an elite level, these guys sure are getting the job done.
The win keeps the Bears in step with the Vikings (the Vikings?) for the NFC North lead. Now the Bears have a bye next week. With the way they are playing, I think they might want to petition the league to let them continue to play. Next up is a Monday night matchup at home against the Detroit Lions.
Next week was supposed to be the opening week for the NHL. Well, now it looks like opening week might not happen for a long time now. The league announced that the first two weeks of the season were canceled. The owners and players will meet on Wednesday, but there will be no revenue talks. The revenue split is the biggest obstacle to having an agreement, so this looks to drag on for some time longer.
Well, folks that’s all for this week. Until next week, take a stroll through Navy Pier and enjoy the sights.