I've always hated Year in Review stories that were published or printed or broadcast before December 31st of the year being reviewed. Generally, these kind of stories run the week between Christmas and New Years, and I was always worried that something B-I-G happening would be left out of the festivities. It reminds me of how my old high school yearbooks always used to wrap some spring events from the previous school year into a yearbook that had nothing to do with that year; my freshman yearbook has all these pictures of people I never saw walk the halls at my school.
We at Fleece & Flog have decided to wait until 2006 was completely laid to rest before having our first ever "Year in Review" post. Me and the guys take a look back at the year in Chicago sports stories and have no reason to think we missed anything since it's now 2007. Also included are some minor prognostications for 2007 in the hopes that this year outshines the last, and we can always revisit the silliness that a "Cubs will win the 2007 World Series" vision provides and make fun of the guy (ChicagoCubbin, maybe?) who made such an outrageous claim.
So as our first post of 2007, here's our look back at 2006.
2006 Chicago Professional Team of the Year:
James: Chicago Rush: Arena League Champions! (Sorry, Jeeves, but the Fire weren't the only team to win a championship in Chicago in 2006.)
Jeeves: Chicago Fire. They are the only team to bring home a championship to Chicago, bringing in the US Cup, but if they're not considered enough of a pro team, I gotta say Da Bears. They've locked up the best record in the NFC and have a legitimate shot at the Super Bowl.
Soxually Repressed: The Bulls gave eventual champs Miami all the could handle earlier in the playoffs.
College Team of the Year in Chicago (the whole Big Ten counts too):
James: Bradley basketball. Led by big man Patrick O'Bryant, they made a nice run during March Madness.
Jeeves: Ohio State (although it kills me to say it.) They're in a position to win the NCAA Football championship, and have to be considered co-favorites with Wisconsin for the Big Ten title in basketball.
ChicagoCubbin: Ohio State
Soxually Repressed: Hint: They had a very good year against mostly crummy teams, had a Heisman hopeful, and lost the last game they played in California. Answer: N.I.U. What does another LOCAL team match those criteria? BIG TEN team? Even if Ohio State loses, they probably get the nod.
White Sox of the Year:
James: Jermaine Dye, hands down. At one point, he was the leading AL MVP candidate.
Jeeves: Jermaine Dye. He's our MVP, hands down.
ChicagoCubbin: Jon Garland
Soxually Repressed: Joe Crede. Had a Gold Glove robbed from him, saving Reinsdorf money at the negotiation table.
Cub of the Year:
James: Carlos Zambrano. Despite cramps from surfing the net -- and possibly pole stroking -- he was the only Cub with any real emotion or desire on the team.
Jeeves: I honestly couldn't say.
Soxually Repressed: Carlos Zambrano. If he's the first player a non-Cub fan thinks of, before the third-baseman who shows up after the manager give up on the season, it is a good indication of his importance. (Hello run-on sentence.)
Blackhawk of the Year:
James: Martin Havlat is the most dominating player on the Blackhawks, and when he was injured, it showed in the win column.
Jeeves: The 'Hawks have been an utter disappointment in pretty much all areas. Martin Havlat represented hope during the first 13 games of the season before getting hurt. Those 13 games represent the most impressive and productive of any player, including Bulin Wall's recent hot stretch, so for that reason alone he gets my nod in a category void of legitimate contenders.
ChicagoCubbin: Denis Savard
Soxually Repressed: When in doubt in hockey, pick the goalie. If he's hurt, pick the leading scorer. If he's hurt, pick a top defenseman. If he's hurt, credit the coach. If he's been fired,(it is hockey after all), blame the owner. When blaming the owner see the 'Worst Owner' question.
Bull of the Year:
James: Kirk Hinrich. Anytime a player gets to play on the Team USA, he's usually are doing something right. He's the catalyst on the fastest rising team in the NBA.
Jeeves: Andres Nocioni. Benny G was too up and down, and Noc absolutely carried us in the playoffs.
ChicagoCubbin: Ben Gordon
Soxually Repressed: Luol Nocioni or Andres Deng, take your pick.
Bear of the Year:
James: Brian Urlacher, although maybe he should be disqualified for having a Jordan-like consistency.
Jeeves: Urlacher. The face of the defense and the franchise. His effort alone in the Cardinals game will always stand out to me. I'll never forget how he just ripped the ball away from Edge.
Soxually Repressed: The portrait of consistency (at least ON the field) B. Urlacher.
Fire Player of the Year:
James: Yeah, like I know anything about soccer. I leave this one for Jeeves to answer.
Jeeves: Justin Mapp. He was the man that linked the defense in the offense, and knew just the right time to push up or drop back. It was really a breakout year for him.
ChicagoCubbin: I refrain from answering this question due to the fact that there is only one recognized fire in Chicago history and that nearly ruined the whole town.
Soxually Repressed: When in doubt, in Futbol, pick the goalie. If you still care, move to any other country beside maybe Canada.
College Player of the Year in Chicago:
James: Brady Quinn is the golden boy and even made a token appearance at the Downtown Athletic Club in Manhattan, but "the Shark" Jeff Samardzija deserves this award because he not only became the all-time greatest WR in Notre Dame history, he pitched for the Cubs' class A minor league farm teams Boise and Peoria. Oh, and did I mention that he's a huge White Sox fan? That'll always win you awards at Fleece & Flog.
Jeeves: (Again, ew) Troy Smith.
ChicagoCubbin: Brady Quinn
Soxually Repressed: LOCAL: Heisman hopeful Garret Wolfe
Game of the Year in Chicago:
James: I have a few I'd like to nominate. Of course Da Bears vs. Arizona and the Monday night miracle! That night Denny Green uttered a sound bite destined to remain in the Chicago (and national) lexicon for eternity, but it was also the most fun I've ever had watching a non-playoff game at the pub.
Secondly, the Bulls season opening 42 point blow out of the defending champion Miami Heat led to more than one or two drunken howls at the moon that Halloween evening.
Jeeves: Cardinals vs. Bears
Soxually Repressed: OSU-UM Best Series/playoff: Bulls vs. Miami Heat.
Manager/Coach of the Year in Chicago:
James: Denis Savard. (Yes, above Scott Skiles and Lovie Smith.) Since taking over for Trent Yawney, he's vaulted the Blackhawks near .500 this late in the season for the first time in a decade. Charlie Weis is a close 2nd.
Jeeves: Ron Rivera
ChicagoCubbin: Lovie Smith
Soxually Repressed: Skiles got his team the farthest.
Worst Player(s) of the Year in Chicago:
James: Scott Podsednik and the demons in his head. Tim Thomas getting paid NOT to play.
Jeeves: Tim Thomas
ChicagoCubbin: Tank Johnson/ let the team down
Soxually Repressed: Maybe Podsednik isn't THE worst, but he's the most memorably, consistently bad.
Worst owner/ manager in Chicago:
James: Maybe Bill Wirtz wins the lifetime achievement version of this award, but Dusty Baker wins the 2006 version for being as clueless as a Jay Mariotti column about sports.
ChicagoCubbin: Dusty Baker
Soxually Repressed: Baker took a team with some talent and after one (albeit good) player went down used it as an excuse to throw in the towel way early in the season. Essentially told twenty-four other guys they sucked too much to win anything. Buttermaker was better.
Biggest 2006 Chicago knucklehead(s):
James: Michael Barret and his weak ass right cross. Tank Johnson thinking Gurnee is a good place for a weapons depot.
Jeeves: Tank Johnson. Weakening an already weak (relatively speaking) run defense could kill Chicago's Super Bowl hopes.
ChicagoCubbin: Javier Vazquez implodes in the 6th all the time
Soxually Repressed: If it isn't Tank Johnson, how screwed up is the yutz that beat him out?
Biggest blunder by a 2006 Chicago team:
James: Ozzie continuing to start Rob Mackowiak in CF, Cubs sticking with the notorious toothpick killer, Dusty Baker, for the whole season. Where are the tree huggers when you need them?
Jeeves: The Cubs depending on a healthy Prior and Wood.
ChicagoCubbin: Sox miss playoffs
Soxually Repressed: Cubs not firing Baker sooner. Like last year.
Best and Worst free agent signing/ trade involving any Chicago team:
James: Best: Martin Havlat, Ben Wallace, Jim Thome (for half a season at any rate.) Worst: Javy Vazquez and all his 6th inning gory, Juan Pierre, Jacque Jones and his love affair with Chicago in general.
Jeeves: Best: Kirk Hinrich. Bargain price for one of the better point guards in the league. Worst: Jason Marquis. He's essentially getting paid for once decent year.
ChicagoCubbin: Worst: Ted Lilly Best: Alfonso Soriano
Soxually Repressed: Best:At the time; Sox trading for Thome. Worst:Now; trading away a solid centerfielder in A. Rowand.
Favorite sports-related moment of 2006:
James: Three days in late March and early April of ring ceremony, banner raising wonderment at U.S. Cellular Field and the envy my Cubs-fans friends felt.
Jeeves: UCLA beating USC.
ChicagoCubbin: Denny Green comments on the Bears: Crown their asses!
Soxually Repressed: Whatever day the Cubs were officially elimanated from the playoffs; was that May or early June?
Biggest Sports Story of 2006 (national or world):
James: The BALCO/ steroids scandal and grand jury testimony leak which could have much greater implications than just its effects on the MLB, and Terrell Owens hijacks the media at every turn.
ChicagoCubbin: T.O. suicide
Soxually Repressed: Locally, the Tank Johnson debacle. Nationally, out of many to choose from, a good one, if not the best, George Mason's advance in the college hoops tournament.
2006 Chicago story you're most sick of/ over reported:
James: The Ozzie Guillen vs. Jay Mariotti war of words.
Jeeves: Headband-gate and the BCS.
ChicagoCubbin: Rex Grossman’s poor play
Soxually Repressed: Urlacher is overrated stories. Anyone who cares or pays attention should be made to repeat the eighth grade until they learn the other kids are just saying mean words, but words can't hurt.
Current player(s) you'd most like not playing in Chicago in 2007:
James: Scott Podsednik -- but his wife can stay. Lisa, call me!
Jeeves: Scott Podsednik (ha!)
ChicagoCubbin: Rex Grossman
Soxually Repressed: Please trade, waive, cut, ship to a foriegn land for a sack of fungo bats Scott Podsednik.
Next Chicago athlete(s) to become a household name:
James: Devin Hester. Athletes wearing the #23 in this town tend to do quite well. Other #23's: Ryne Sandberg, Jermaine Dye, Robin Ventura, Shaun Gayle, and some guy on the Bulls.
Jeeves: I'm assuming outside of the Midwest...Luol Deng.
ChicagoCubbin: Ben Gordon steps up his play. Gordon/ Jordan comparisons rage!
Soxually Repressed: D. Wade already has a commercial with Barkley (who bizarrley has his own homage-named band).
Best athlete from Chicago not playing for a Chicago team:
James: Sure, Dwyane Wade can say he won with Shaq and schmoozed with Sir Charles, but let's look past the media darling and find a more worthy candidate. How about 2006 Olympic speed skating gold medalist and south side native Shani Davis? Sure he might have sabotaged his teammates chances at a relay gold medal by not participating in the event, but damn, if this isn't about individual accomplishments. Can Dwyane Wade say he earned a gold medal? Nope, he only earned a bronze medal at the World Championships in 2006.
Jeeves: D-Wade. Led the heat to the championship.
ChicagoCubbin: Wade, obviously
Soxually Repressed: Well...D. Wade won a championship in his sport before Jordan won his, and he has that funny spot with Barkley previously mentioned, AND he did play high school ball in the town I live in. Okay, Wade.
Predictions for Chicago Teams in 2007:
James: In chronological order (not order of disappointment), the Chicago Bears lose the Super Bowl when Rex Grossman, down 24-20 late in the 4th quarter, mistakes San Diego Charger Shawne Merriman for TE Desmond Clark and hands him the ball on an attempted double-reverse flea flicker -- his record-tying 5th individual turnover of the game. In the post game interview room, Lovie Smith asks for a police escort to keep Rex's teammates from killing him.
The Chicago Bulls, facing the humility of an All-Star snubbing of the entire team, decide to wear headbands as a sign of team unity. Coach Scott Skiles and GM John Paxson are then forced to suspend the entire team for a game for violating team rules and sign the entire roster of the an NBDL team to 10-day contracts. The team subsequently breaks the record for biggest loss in NBA history as their opponent, the Washington Wizards, outscore the Bulls 245-100. At least the Chicago fans go home with free sandwiches.
The Blackhawks miss the playoffs again, and fans boycott the 2007 home opener. The actual butts-in-seats attendance for game include a few tourists from Japan and a lumberjack from Alberta, Canada who thought he was attending The Great Outdoor Games on Ice.
The Chicago White Sox return to glory and win the 2007 World Series over the...
...the Chicago Cubs, and ChicagoCubbin is forced into posting Siberia as his every post, Cubs-related or not, is subject to vile heckling.
Jeeves: Sox World Series, Bears Super Bowl, Blackhawks 10th in the conference, Cubs fall just short of the wild card, Fire get bounced in the MLS finals. (Yes I'm a homer.)
ChicagoCubbin: Disappointing playoff runs for everyone but the 'Hawks...sorry hockey fans, all two of you
Soxually Repressed: The Sox will play cat and mouse with the Twins for the Central, with Detroit fading like the Sox did this year. The Cubs will regret not getting better pitching, like the Cubs did last year. The Bulls will make the Conference Finals, IF they don't play Detroit before then. The Bears will try VERY hard to resign Briggs, but will probably say goodbye to injury-ridden Mike Brown. Also, both Grossman and Griese will not both start next season on the same team, especially with Grossman starting. Grossman's playoff's will determine his future with the former Decataur Staleys.