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Down goes the Pack.
Unfortunately, the amount of schadenfreude I feel at times like this has officially plummeted. Would this Bears fan have busted out significant celebratory conniptions at this point five years ago? Certainly I would have been seriously fired up to watch the prohibitive favorite Cheeseheads flame out a decade back. In the process they blew their chance to become the
first second NFL franchise to record two sets of back-to-back Super Bowl championships.
And don't get me wrong, I was definitely rooting hard for the visitors in Green Bay late Sunday.
But working yourself into a frenzy after a rival team's downfall is just lame. Even with the loss, Green Bay is still a much more successful franchise than the Bears, plain and simple. A Chicago fan can eventually move on from the "my team is better than your team" debate (an argument lost to Packer backers every time) to making fun of someone for having to live in, or at least, in some way be affiliated with, Wisconsin. But that causes the needle on the lame meter to spike as well.
Again, I'm not saying I wasn't happy to watch the Giants prevail. Wait a minute, where do the Giants call home again? Argh. At least with Eli Manning's boys, we can always point out to the most irritating of New Yorkers that they can't be 100 percent proud of a team that actually calls New Jersey home, can they?
And at least Bears fans can still lord it over non-Super Bowl winning Lions and Vikings fans. Cubs backers on the other hand . . .
I suppose that is a big part of the draw of the annual Cutesy Cubbie winter convention - at least a Cubs supporter can be certain he won't be spending any time interacting with a jerko Cardinal fan at the Hilton and Towers in the middle of January. The average Cards fan can, of course, always obliterate any sort of trash back-and-forth by simply uttering the number 11 (World Series championships since the Cubs had one).
People can spend their money on whatever they want, of course, and I'm not denying that the hiring of Theo Epstein was an exciting event for all Cubs fans. But why would you go to a convention celebrating a team that has been in serious decline for three years now and shows no signs whatsoever that it will bounce back in any significant way (meaning at least contending for a division title) in 2012?
The Cardinals may have lost Albert Pujols but their pitching, especially with the anticipated return of ace Adam Wainwright from an elbow injury that sidelined him for all of 2011 (oh yeah, they won the stinkin' World Series without their ace - double argh), will be far superior to that of the Cubs.
I don't plan on ever attending a Cubs Convention (although if my son, who is now a 12-year-old White Sox fan, ever converted, I would probably be forced to re-consider) but if I was going to go, I certainly wouldn't do it after a sustained run of utter failure. How about we see if any of Theo's guys can actually play before we start forking over significant cash to cheer wildly as the Cubs announce the re-signing of a decent, almost-over-the-hill middle reliever? I like Kerry Wood and his commitment to Chicago as much as the next guy but . . . come on!
A big, big, big regulation win for the Hawks versus the Sharks early Sunday evening at the United Center . . . oh so big. We highlight "regulation" because at some point in the NHL, overtime wins don't cut it. Especially against strong in-conference foes, a team has to find a way to win in three periods at least some of the time. Otherwise the one-point overtime or shootout decisions (the team that wins gets two points while the loser is awarded one for having participated in what was a "tie" at what was the end of the game for most of the history of the NHL) don't enable it to gain significant standings real estate.
The Blackhawks have bounced back after losing four in a row as the New Year came and went but the positive trend had seemed tentative after a second weekend loss in a row against the Red Wings suffered Saturday. Last night the Blackhawks had the better of the play virtually throughout, overcame unlucky and soft second-period goals against and held on through a chaotic final minute to win 4-3.
The first star was the captain, Jonathan Toews, who notched another goal and another assist and is having his best-ever scoring season (if he keeps up his point per game pace - 24 goals and 22 assists in 46 games so far - he would post a new single-season personal high). Toews' scoring is especially important because Patrick Kane still can't find the net with a detailed map, a perfect compass and a guide like Toews' perfect two-on-one pass in the first period Sunday that Kane somehow managed to shoot into Shark goalie Antti Niemi's glove despite massive amounts of empty net around it.
Kane has scored only three goals in the Blackhawks' last 27 games - an abysmal streak that needs to end, soon. After all, the guy isn't exactly a defensive force, and despite his ludicrous posting to the All-Star team yet again last week (what season are the selectors watching?) he is having a very disappointing season.
In retrospect, even the loss to the Red Wings on Saturday wasn't that bad because of course the Hawks forced overtime with Toews' goal in the final minute of the third period. Big Todd Bertuzzi scored the winner for the winged wheels in the extra period but the Hawks lost only a point in the standings. They take a two-point lead over division rivals St. Louis and Detroit into action this week. Unfortunately both the Blues and the Red Wings have two games in hand.
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