Things you don’t hear much in Chicago sports

Two things you don’t hear too often when it comes to sports in Chicago:

1.) The Bulls remain undefeated.

2.) The Cubs are in the World Series.

First, the Bulls. They’ve played two games, and won both of them! They beat the Celtics on Thursday (which I missed as one of my friends scheduled a get-together conflicting with the Bulls’ ever-important home opener). I do wonder why I keep some of these friends around.

The second game was last night (Saturday), when the Bulls handily defeated the Pacers, but there was another conflict…brought about by rarely heard fact #2.

Yes, the Cubs are in the World Series, and played last night, but looked more like the Bad News Bears than the future World Series Champions. With this most recent loss, the Cubs are now up against the wall, facing elimination. In case you haven’t figured it out yet, this is going to be more “Cubs Chat” than “Bulls Banter.”

The Cubs have only managed 1 win, and the Cleveland Indians have got 3. To win the World Series – you need 4 wins.

As we all know, there’s no crying in baseball. But I sure did feel like crying Friday night, and Saturday night…

Joe Maddon, the Cubs’ manager is fond of saying, “Don’t ever permit the pressure exceed the pleasure.” And during his post-game presser, speaking of today’s (Sunday’s) game – “We have to have a one-game winning streak.”

It sounds all well and good, and let’s hope these young Cubs can get the one-game streak going tonight. Then, it would be back to Joakim Noah’s favorite vacation spot, Cleveland for 1-2 more games.

No matter what happens, this fan, and Chicago, and Cubs followers of all ages are better for having witnessed the excitement, teamwork, attitude and spirit the Cubs have brought to the city this season. And importantly, we can all learn a lot from this wacky, smart, charismatic yet unorthodox Cubs manager Joe Maddon.

If we all employed a little more of his philosophies in baseball games and in life, we could potentially be more successful, and have lots of fun along the way.

For instance, “Do simple better.”

And, “In our world, for me, every day is Friday night.”

While many predicted the Cubs would win the World Series this year, that’s a lot to live up to for this group of mostly young 20-year olds, and in my view, they have far exceeded expectations already. Win or lose, the Cubs have captured our hearts and imaginations.

There’s still a lot more baseball to play. Joe Maddon talks about “moments.” In keeping with his philosophy to approach every game the same way, it’s no surprise that in speaking of game five, he said, “We just need that one moment.”

And it’s been reported that the video screens in the Cubs’ new clubhouse provided instructions on how to approach Sunday’s pivotal game 5:

SCHEDULE FOR SUNDAY

DRESS AT 5:30 p.m.

Game at 7:15 p.m.

They’ve got the “Do simple better” covered. Now it’s time for the one-game win streak.

Go Cubs! Beat the Indians! #FlytheW #WorldSeriesChamps

PS – See Red! Go Bulls! Remain undefeated

From likability to winnability

Your No. 1 Bulls fan has been remiss this summer. She has been so busy watching the Cubs dominate major league baseball, that she neglected to blog about the new-look Bulls.

But all of this Cubs-watching has given her something to talk about. And that is: likability.

I think part of the reason I started following the Bulls back in 2012 was because the guys were so likable. How you could help but love Luol Deng or Taj Gibson? Joakim has always been a fan favorite – when he’s playing on your team. (It’s not going to go well for me this year with him on the Knicks).

Derrick, pre-playoff ACL injury was actually likable.

The Bulls back then were the equivalent of today’s Cubs. Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, all-smiles Dexter Fowler, Grandpa Rossi, the wacky coach (Joe Maddon). They’re a team you can’t help but love.

But after too many years of disappointments, it’s “No More Mr. Nice Guy” for our Bulls. In acquiring players we all used to love to hate – Rajon Rondo, and DWade (former enemy No. 1 given his Heat championships and affiliation to “that other guy” (LeBron)) – the Bulls are evidently going to try to win.

Before they got DWade, let’s face it, the idea of watching the Bulls this season wasn’t even that interesting – even to their No. 1 fan.

But now, it seems as if people will tune in, if only to see how Fredberg (Coach Fred Hoiberg) can make this all work.

The talk here in CHI has focused a lot about leadership, or lack thereof. Derrick was a reluctant leader. Joakim – bombastic (to quote the Bulls’ unofficial official Bulls blogger). JB evidently caused a lot of dissension last year by anointing himself the leader – when evidently his actions didn’t back up his leadership position.

It’s a new chapter this year – with these savvy vets, who have done something, and won something – won NBA Championships.

“I expected him to come in and have great leadership qualities,” Hoiberg noted about Wade. “He’s gone above and beyond what any of us have expected. He’s just another smart basketball player. “*

“When you have guys who talk, especially at the defensive end, that organizes your defense,” said Hoiberg. “He and Rondo are great at that. Jimmy is great at that. Taj (Gibson) is a talker. Robin (Lopez) is a talker. Wade makes players better. That’s the sign of great players, when you can make the guys around you better.”*

Hopefully, we’re all open to sacrificing a few points on the likability scale if it means the Bulls return to their rightful place atop the Eastern Conference. If only those pesky Cavs, and Raps, and Celtics would just go away.

My only concern with the season, other than the fact that I can’t afford a Row B ticket behind the Bulls bench for the Bulls/Knicks game – is Taj. He’s the forgotten Bull. Yet is often reported that he’s one of the best teammates, and hardest workers – aka “hard hat, lunch pail.”

A September 30 Chicago Sun-Times article titled Taj Gibson ready for any role needed except finger pointer had an interesting quote about Taj from Fredberg:

“Taj has been great,’’ Hoiberg said. “He’s one of those guys that goes out and does everything that you ask of him. He’s in great spirits, he’s a positive force. Always trying to do what you tell him to do. And again, when you have a veteran guy that’s been around the league as long as he has, played a great role especially in his position, then he can teach guys like Bobby [Portis] and Cris [Felicio] and also Paul Zipser. They see your vets working hard, and Taj is one of the hardest workers on this team and he always does what’s asked of him.’’

Not wanting Taj to be the forgotten man, I sent him a tweet the other night. I’m sure receiving a tweet from the author of Bulls Banter, a fellow Brooklynite really lifted his spirits. (And so we begin Bulls Banter, 2016-2017 with the first in a series of sarcastic remarks which are meant to add levity to what sometimes can become a heart-wrenching season.)

For what it’s worth, here’s my tweet:

taj

Here’s hoping that Taj, and JB, and DWade and Rondo and Robin Lopez, and the many other players steal our hearts with their wins, although I wouldn’t mind liking them along the way.

See Red!

Go Bulls!

Beat the Bucks.

(*) – From Sam Smith’s blog, Bulls veterans taking the lead

IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING – BULLS 2016-2017 ROSTER

J.J. Avila

Jimmy Butler

Isaiah Canaan

Spencer Dinwiddie

Cristiano Felicio

Taj Gibson

Jerian Grant

Vince Hunter

Robin Lopez

Doug McDermott

Nikola Mirotic

Bobby Portis

Rajon Rondo

D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera

Tony Snell

Denzel Valentine

Dwyane Wade

Thomas Walkup

Paul Zipser

(Wait, they forgot Cinjo)

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