Chicago sports fans have always been passionate about their teams, sticking with the Bears, the Bulls, the Blackhawks, the Cubs and the White Sox through the highs and (mostly) lows. But things seem to be turning around in the Windy City.
The Bears are heading for the NFC Championship game this weekend, hosting their archrival Green Bay Sunday at Soldier Field for the chance to head to Super Bowl XLV in Dallas. The Bulls are 28-14 and in first place in the NBA’s Eastern Conference Central Division behind outstanding young guard Derrick Rose (named yesterday as the Eastern Conference Player of the Week). The Blackhawks are having a few ups and downs this season as they try to repeat after winning the team’s first Stanley Cup title last season since 1961, while baseball hope always seems to spring eternal for both the Cubs and Sox – though it may take a bit to figure out how those seasons will go, as pitchers and catchers don’t report to Spring Training for another few weeks (Feb. 14 for the Cubs and Feb. 17 for the Sox).
Here’s a look at what’s happening around Chicago sports now.
There is some controversy around Soldier Field about the key topic of who will be singing the National Anthem on Sunday. Apparently, FOX wanted American Idol winner Lee DeWyze (a native of suburban Mt. Prospect), while the Bears wanted a repeat performance from Jim Cornelison, who sang the anthem last week against Seattle and is the regular vocalist for the Chicago Blackhawks.
DeWyze has Tweeted that he is still singing on Sunday, but doesn’t look like it will be the anthem. Instead, the Bears will move him to the halftime show, allowing him to do two songs for the crowd, while FOX announced it will televise at least some of his performance. That means Cornelison will offer another rousing anthem for fans, hopefully reigniting a fire under the crowd and the team to get them off to a hot start in what is forecast to be a day with high temperatures only around 20 degrees.
As for the game itself, expect it to hinge on perhaps one big play. The two teams split their regular season games, with the Bears winning at Soldier Field 20-17 in Week 3, while the Packers claimed a 10-3 win in Week 17 at Lambeau in what was a must-win game for Green Bay to get into the playoffs. The key for the Packers in their win was a 46-yard reception by Greg Jennings that set up the game’s only touchdown.
But Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz sees the key being his wide receivers becoming more aggressive against the Packers’ defense.
“There are a lot of ways of dealing with [the Packers physical style],” Martz said. “They obviously are the best in the league at bump and run and pressing and getting a hold of that receiver. They do a great job of it. They are well-schooled in all the details of doing that. You have to have a plan. As a wide receiver, you’ve got to go into that game with a plan for how you’re going to deal with that. Some of it we can use formations and help but by and large it’s a technique issue you have to resolve.”
The Bear that seemed the best at resolving that issue in Green Bay was Rashied Davis, who had a season-high seven catches in the loss while filling in for an injured Earl Bennett. Bennett will be available this time around as well.
Today was the first day back on the practice field for both teams. Chris Harris was the only Bear not on the field, although he says he will definitely be ready to go on Sunday.
The Bulls had a three-game win streak snapped Tuesday night in a tough 83-82 loss to the Charlotte Bobcats, with Rose missing a potential game winner at the buzzer. The Bulls spent the night without Carlos Boozer, who injured his ankle last Saturday in a win over Miami and is currently listed as day-to-day. Charlotte took advantage of his absence, outscoring the Bulls 46-28 in the paint.
Rose had 33 points to lead the Bulls, while Ronnie Brewer had 12 and Luol Deng 10.
Chicago (28-14) returns to action Thursday night, hosting Dallas at the United Center.
It’s a rare stretch of days off for the Hawks as they have to wait until Saturday’s trip to Detroit to try and keep the momentum from last Sunday’s 6-3 home win over Nashville. Chicago has won four of its last five games – the lone loss being a 3-2 shootout loss to Nashville on Saturday.
That doesn’t mean that the Hawks haven’t been thinking sports this week – as the Bears-Packers game has created a few disagreements. Forward Jack Skille (a native of Madison, WI) plans on wearing a cheesehead during practice this week.
“My mom is sending me a cheesehead this week,” Skille said. “Plus, I have a bet with Patrick Sharp that if the Packers win, he has to wear a cheesehead and, if the Bears win, I have to wear a Bears jersey.”
Also helping bide the time during the break, the entire Hawks roster took part in the second annual Campbell for Kids Charity Poker Tournament Tuesday night at the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, IN. Funds from the event went to the Campbell for Kids Charity, as well as Autism Speaks and Chicago’s Beard Elementary School. The overall winners have not yet been announced, although several fans playing would have come away with prize to remember, as Blackhawk players have traditionally given the jersey off their back to the poker player who eliminated them from play. Last year’s event raised over $100,000 for charity. While enjoying the sports in the country, the safety should be considered properly. 먹튀검증 websites can be used for verification of safety of players at Chicago.