On the John: It rains sunshine and glory in my hometown

On the John
It rains sunshine and glory in my hometown

Originally published on the readjack.com blog April 14, 2009

As Crash Davis knows, you can't play baseball in the rain.
As Crash Davis knows, you can't play baseball in the rain.

It rained in Chicago yesterday. All day. One of those unreasonable February to May rains that Chicago produces: minimal warning or pattern, terribly great force. Yes, we are proud of our Chicago weather. We love our snow. We love our cold. We see wind as nothing more than fast air. But those slushy spring downpours that pound like rain and are cold as winter? That’s the weather that really gets our goat.

And so it was with amazement that I watched this rainy day of Chicago sports take shape.

The day began as most days begin: with news of a severed goat’s head turning up on Harry Caray’s statue in the early morning hours. Would it surprise you if I said this has happened before? Most recently on October 3, 2007, the morning of Game 1 against the Diamondbacks.

Nothing says "team spirit" like the corpse of an animal hanging from a statue
Nothing says "team spirit" like the corpse of an animal hanging from a statue.

Speaking of our postseason failures, Monday marked our Cubbies’ first trip home since last October. It was Game 2 of the Dodgers series, Game 5 of that horrific (and still active) six-game sweep. The Cubs drowned 10 to 3 that day in a horrible shower of infielder incompetence and Manny hammerings. Now, six months later, we were hoping to sail smoothly into our home opener, to easily rinse away the ’07-’08 Pair’o’Sweeps with a mind-easing, fan-pleasing opening day win over Colorado. But instead of relaxed minds, we were dealing with some demented Cubs fan positing the decapitated head of a goat atop our beloved Harry. And then that rain, that soaking, stubborn rain, threatening to cancel the whole thing…

And yet…victory! The feisty southpaw Lilly and battery mate Hacksaw Hill leading the charge through the muck. 4-zip Cubs, a powerful offense, the makings of a fantastic four-man rotation in the earlies of April.

Of course that’s nothing, not when Jermaine Dye and Paul Konerko have already, that very day, become the first pair of teammates in MLB history to collect their 300th career home runs in the same game on consecutive at bats. Uh…what?!!

And the Sox weren’t our only club in Detroit Monday. After the Sout-siders finished off the Tigers at Comerica, da Bulls headed over to the Palace of Auburn Hills. This was not an easy assignment, not against the broken down, still-proud-though-thoroughly-ashamed Pistons, Rip and Sheed and Tayshaun determined to protect their house.

Down eight at the half and eleven in the third, the Bulls fought back. Their leader, as always, was Derrick Rose, the true force behind this rag-tag, secretly dominant 2009 Bulls team, the main reason the team has zoomed, since January, from 12th in the East to 6th.

Derrick Rose isn't the only fresh new thing under the United Center's roof...
Derrick Rose isn't the only fresh new thing under the United Center's roof...

Should the Bulls be thrilled to dodge LeBron and the Cavs in Round 1, possibly even ducking the defending champs as well? I’m not so sure. We probably won’t win a championship this year, so if we must lose, why not fall to the best and see how you measure up? The standard in the East right now is Cleveland. That’s the team you should want to play.

Still, nothing matters more than this: we get to watch our Bulls at least four more times in 2009. That experience is what I value most. Sports are entertainment, escape, community, religion. They are a massive field of human study. What kind of lunatic wouldn’t want that to continue as long as possible?

We have also been granted the continuation of Rose’s debut season, giving us at least one more week to enjoy the dude who will soon be the singular face of Chicago sports. Bigger than Urlacher, bigger than Z, bigger than Gordon, Deng, or Hinrich, bigger than Ozzie. This kid is that good. If you haven’t been watching, you have truly missed out.

For the MJ-or-bust Bulls crowd, time has come for another look. Rose’s play demands it. The same can be said for everybody (me included) who has watched the Blackhawks melt away during the past ten seasons. This was my dad’s second favorite team growing up (the Cubs were tops), a member of the Original Six, and now they have been discarded by all but the most dedicated Hawks fans.

Well enough of that old news! On Sunday, a day before the rain, the Hawks blanked the Red Wings to complete their regular season. And on Thursday their season continues, giving me at least four more games to get on board with Kane and Toews, two guys who, along with Rose and Devin Hester, give Chicago a spectacular, next generation cross-sport foursome, the shiny new version of that classic Payton-Jordan-Dawson-in-tuxes portrait.

Just beautiful.
Just beautiful.

Rose, Hester, Kane, Toews. Chicago sports, 2009.

And to think, I didn’t even mention Jay Cutler.


Incredibly, word of ESPNChicago’s impending launch slipped past me. Instead of leaping online Monday morning in anticipation of endless attention for my favorite teams, I hit up ESPN with my basic, general, everyday approach. And then, there it was! A whole site dedicated to Chicago’s pros.

I scanned the Rundown along the right. It’s always a kick to see Chicago names in the headlines, and now they were everywhere, with nothing else around: Soriano, Rose, Deng, Urlacher, Pace, Dye, Konerko.

Out my front window, the rain grew thicker. I looked at the Rundown again. I don’t know, I thought. Will there really be enough? There would be enough games, certainly, enough day-to-day news on players. But would Chicago alone produce enough breaking news of true, lasting interest? Enough stories of significance to keep that Rundown from looking silly? Enough fast finishes and amazing milestones? Enough shutouts and playoff games? Enough jaw dropping tales about our near-crazy fans? Can we really sustain our own site?

So far, so good.

Copyright 2009, jm silverstein

More recent Chicago sports coverage from readjack.com


Appreciating Clark Kent (a story of Derrick Rose)

Appreciating Johnny Fishsticks (a story John Salmons)

Appreciating Captain Kirk (a story of Kirk Hinrich)

JAY CUTLER’s arrival


Before Game 3…

…and after Game 3

Check out Bear Down and Get Some Runs for more of Jack M Silverstein’s coverage of the Chicago sports scene

And, because you deserve it:

Hester highlights. Always a good time.
Hester highlights. Always a good time.


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