Windy City Whims: A Tale of Two Second Cities

It is the best of times, it is the worst of times for Chicago sports fans. Between the good (the defending champion Cubs, the perennially powerful Blackhawks) and the bad (the rebuilding Bears and White Sox, and the complete fiasco that is the Bulls), there’s very little in-between in the Windy City’s sporting landscape right now. Should we get used to the status quo, or will Chicago’s notoriously fickle zephyrs start swirling and completely alter the forecast?

Below we set the odds on all the Second City’s teams and their prospects for the immediate future.

Which Chicago coach/manager will be fired first

  • Fred Hoiberg, Bulls: 5/4 
  • John Fox, Bears: 5/3 
  • Joel Quenneville, Blackhawks: 9/1 
  • Rick Renteria, White Sox: 15/1
  • Joe Maddon, Cubs: 55/1

Even in the abysmal Eastern Conference of the NBA, Hoiberg has a monumental challenge with the Bulls, trying to turn this roster into a playoff team a team that doesn’t get obliterated by the Nets. The Bulls have a tough schedule out of the gate — at Toronto, vs San Antonio, vs Cleveland — and if they don’t clip the Hawks on Oct. 26, there’s a solid chance they start the year 0-9. Low expectations notwithstanding, that has fire-the-coach written all over it.

Fox joins Hoiberg at the top of the list. The 1-4 Bears have been more competitive than most expected, especially at home, where they played the Falcons and Vikings close and beat the Steelers. But 1-4 is still 1-4, and Fox doesn’t have a track-record to fall back on, at least not in Chicago, where he’s gone just 10-27 through two-plus seasons. Also rookie QB Mitchell Trubisky did not look good in his first start. If the Bears’ brass isn’t convinced Fox is the man to groom their young pivot, there’s not much reason to keep him around.

Which Chicago team will win the city’s next championship

Patrick Kane with the Stanley Cup
Patrick Kane with the Stanley Cup (Seth Anderson (flickr) [CC License])
  • Cubs: 2/3
  • Blackhawks: 5/3
  • White Sox: 49/1
  • Bears: 149/1
  • Bulls: 199/1

The Cubs are still very much alive in the 2017 MLB playoffs and are poised to contend for years to come. Even if they get knocked off by one of baseball’s three 100-win teams (Dodgers, Indians, Astros), they shouldn’t have much of a problem reaching the postseason next year given the sorry state of the so-recently-vaunted NL Central.

The Blackhawks came out of the NHL starting gate ablaze, embarrassing the defending Stanley Cup champs from Pittsburgh 10-1 and then posting a modest 5-1 blowout over Columbus, another Eastern Conference contender. While they narrowly fell 4-3 to the up-and-coming Leafs last time out, the Hawks’ three-time cup-winning core has made a statement: the West still runs through Chicago.

If the Cubs and Blackhawks can’t win a championship in the next, say, three years, then the White Sox will be well-positioned to win this prop. Management has stockpiled a ludicrous amount of talent in the farm system, and some of their youngsters have already shown their major-league bona fides; see Avisail Garcia (.330 batting average; 4.5 WAR), Matt Davidson (26 home runs and 68 RBIs in 118 games), and Lucas Giolito (2.38 ERA and a 0.95 WHIP in seven starts).

Which Chicago team will get a no. 1-overall draft pick first

  • Bulls: 9/5  
  • Bears: 2/1
  • White Sox: 3/1
  • Blackhawks: 24/1 
  • Cubs: 74/1 

The MLB’s non-lottery system means that the Cubs are at the very bottom. There’s just no way this team winds up with the worst record in the majors in the next decade, barring something truly unforeseeable. On the other hand, while the White Sox have to like where they’re headed, they only finished three games up on the MLB’s worst teams last year (Detroit and San Francisco). Their promising prospects aren’t going to turn into World Series contenders over night and 2018 is likely to be another long-ish year for the South Siders.

The NFL has a similar non-lottery draft system and the Bears will be in the running for last-place in 2017. But home games with the Niners and Browns should equal at least two more wins, and that’s going to be too many.

Despite the NBA revamping its lottery system to disincentive tanking, the Bulls have to be at the top of this list. They could easily end up at the bottom of the NBA barrel in 2017-18, giving them a 25% chance at top pick. It’s too early to say what the 2018-19 team will look like, but then again, no it’s not: they’ll have some of the best lottery odds once again, unless Daniel Stern and Dan Ackroyd pull some Celtic Pride s*** and blackmail LeBron into a move to Chicago.

AlexanderP

Alexander is the MTS editor-in-chief. Frank, Alex, and Geoff brought him in when they realized that their betting expertise far surpassed their grammatical abilities. He loves overanalyzing college basketball trends. Talking to him during the first weekend of March Madness is like talking to a wall. A very focused wall, but a wall nonetheless.