By Chris Emma–
(CBS) Happy holidays and season’s greetings! On this not-so-white Christmas, we are reminded of the blessings that we have, while receiving gifts from loved ones.
But giving presents can be just as rewarding as receiving them, and this is the season of giving, after all. So, what gifts can we offer to Chicago’s sports teams?
Let’s put on the Santa hat and offer some presents to the ho-ho-hometown teams.
To Bears general manager Ryan Pace: team talent
The Bears are what we thought they were. That’s not a good thing for this season, which is now marked by a 5-9 record. As the team skids to the finish line, it’s clear that this was a rebuild all along, one with rewards for the fans like a win in Green Bay. But what the Bears need are better football players.
What Ryan Pace, the first-year general manager, needs so badly during this holiday season is better team talent. While the Bears have plenty of pieces to work with, they are collectively not a good football team, as their 5-9 record accurately indicates. Chicago needs a more complete roster, filling the gaps left open by the failed Phil Emery era. Of course, cap room and nine draft picks this offseason will help, too.
To Bulls point guard Derrick Rose: MVP form
Last Saturday, new Bulls star and apparent team leader Jimmy Butler went out of his way to call out rookie head coach Fred Hoiberg for not pushing his players hard enough in practice. While that episode seems to be over, it’s clear the Bulls have been stuck with a bigger problem, something Butler seemed to be angling for with his comments. What the heck happened to Derrick Rose?
What Rose needs this offseason is a time machine, so he can return to that 2010-11 season and regain his MVP form. As illustrated by my colleague Dan Bernstein, the metrics suggest Rose is alarmingly bad. The eye test would agree. Rose isn’t struggling because of injuries or rehabs; he’s just not a very good right now. He needs to find that form of old.
To Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz: congratulations
I could’ve come up with something to give the current Blackhawks, who have been inconsistent throughout their attempt at a Cup refill, but let’s be honest: December hockey doesn’t matter for a team that turns it on in the postseason. Give coach Joel Quenneville time to figure out his roster, allow general manager Stan Bowman to work his magic before the trade deadline and let Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith and the core give it their best shot again.
The gift for the Blackhawks goes to the man who made this happen, Rocky Wirtz, who will be remembered as one of the greatest men in Chicago sports for what he brought to the city. His hockey dynasty is something special, rewarding the Chicago again with a third hoist of the Stanley Cup in six years. The Blackhawks’ success is something to cherish, because runs like this don’t happen too often. The success has been earned all around the organization, but Wirtz was the one who put it all together. He deserves the greatest of congratulations this holiday season.
To Cubs baseball brass of Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer: one more starter
It’s Christmas Day, and the Cubs are the favorite to win the World Series. That can’t be said too often, but it’s real. Following a 97-win season and trip to the NLCS, the Cubs have bolstered their roster by adding Jason Heyward, Ben Zobrist, John Lackey and more. They are undoubtedly one of baseball’s best teams — if not the best.
But what the Cubs could use this holiday season is one more starting pitcher. While their starting rotation is the best according to the overall metrics, the playoffs last season showed they need help. For the dominance of Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta and consistency of Jon Lester and Lackey, the team could still use just one more arm, because Jason Hammel and Kyle Hendricks didn’t give the Cubs their best chance come the postseason.
To anyone in the White Sox front office: a long-term plan
What exactly are the White Sox attempting to do? Each offseason, the excitement builds with big pickups, then the mystery returns come the regular season. Here we are in December, and the team is dealing prospects and reloading the lineup with big names. They keep taking more resources out of the ATM and throwing it back on the table, going all in. The Jerry Reinsdorf go-for-it strategy is admirable but hasn’t brought much success.
The White Sox may have something in Todd Frazier, though they took a risk in adding the All-Star third baseman who fell off in the second half of 2015, selling high on Trayce Thompson and hoping it doesn’t backfire. Frankie Montas could make Kenny Williams and Rick Hahn regret their move, too. I’m in favor of adding a Yoenis Cespedes or Alex Gordon, but where does that leave the White Sox? They are still largely the same team as last season, stuck hoping for something different. Williams and Hahn are approaching this offseason the same way they do each year, bringing the same unsatisfying results each time.
To you, the Chicago sports fan: reward
Chicago is the greatest sports city in the world, with incredibly passionate fans. Great reward is deserved in the city. Happy holidays to all, and have a prosperous new year.