By Tim Baffoe–
(CBS) Welcome to the Wonderland that is Chicago, a place that holds no logic and taunts the senses to the point of questioning one’s own sanity. Abandon all reason, ye who enter here.
The Blackhawks, the top seed and the pick by most prior to the Stanley Cup Playoffs to take the Western Conference, head into Game 3 of their series against the Nashville Predators down 2-0. This is very bad, but don’t tell that to couch jockey bloggers like Sam Fels:
It’s important to make the difference clear between concern and panic. Concern is completely warranted, as losing the first two games at home and not scoring a goal in the process certainly is a new trick for the Hawks and ups the degree of difficulty to a level that will surely impress the Ukrainian judge. A lot of concern is fine, too. Watching the Hawks come up with a stale beer fart in a spot we’re used to seeing them respond is jarring.
But panic? C’mon.
Shut up, Fels. To paraphrase Dr. Julius M. Hibbert, regular sweat isn’t sufficient here. It has to be terror sweat. And he’s a doctor.
“We’re sticking together in our room,” captain of the sinking ship Jonathan Toews said. “We’re not going to get frustrated. We’ve been in some tough spots before. I didn’t think after two games at home that we’d be talking about this already, that it’s do-or-die, but we’re going to go into that next game with that mentality.”
So the Blackhawks are mentally out of it. Trade Corey Crawford now before it’s too late.
On the flip side and compounding the Hawks’ apocalypse — and because it’s natural law that hockey and basketball must be juxtaposed in solid sports arguments — the stupid Bulls who shouldn’t have made the playoffs went and made the playoffs and then even won the first game against the Boston Celtics on Sunday.
So GarPax have clearly been right all along about the Lewis Carroll hookah smoke of a plan for this team. Bobby Portis — he of 18 DNPs this season — registered the game of his career in Boston. The key may be that he’s unaware of how many games he has actually played.
“At the end of the day, it’s still a basketball game,” Portis said. “I can go out there and do the things that I do well. And one thing I can do well is shoot the basketball, so I did that today. I played 82 games this season and I felt comfortable, so I was ready to go.”
The Bulls now sit in the catbird seat (ignore that they’ve lost five of the last seven series in which they won Game 1), and perhaps it’s the collective loathing of fans that’s telepathically willing this team to the improbable eight-defeats-one-seed. As though the more we hate them, the better they play.
Can the Celtics trade some of their draft pick cache for Jimmy Butler before Game 2? Otherwise, enjoy the Fred Hoiberg contract extension, folks.
The madness doesn’t stop with our Chicago playoff teams. The White Sox are above .500, which would be cool if it wasn’t antithetical to general manager Rick Hahn’s plan to slow burn this thing to the ground and laugh while Kenny Williams watches. And how are the White Sox winning? Through tried and true 21st-century tactics of bunting and Avisail Garcia, who hit a game-winning homer in the 10th inning Sunday against the Minnesota Twins.
“The first swing, I swung hard,” Garcia said. “I said to myself, ‘Hey, don’t try to do too much. Just put the barrel on the ball, because (Ryan Pressly) throws hard.’ So that’s what I did.”
It’s so simple it makes your brain want to leak out of your nose. Just like when you consider that the White Sox are flirting with first place in the AL Central, even if the season isn’t three weeks old.
“A hot start is good,” Garcia said. “But I just don’t pay attention to numbers.”
Oh yeah, well, how about paying attention to the number of wins your team has and how you’re hurting the plan to lose your way into high draft picks. Revert, Avi, revert.
Like the Cubs clearly have. The championship hangover is clearly impacting this team, which shows that had the Cubs just not won the World Series, this wouldn’t be a problem now. Winning has caused this team to forget how to win, as evidenced by being swept at home by the Pittsburgh Pirates on a warm weekend begging for the Cubs to slug their way to victory. The team has a mere nine home runs on the season in 12 games, over which they’re 6-6.
Know who is slugging? Ian Happ. In Iowa. He has six homers wasted in the corn so far in the young season. Meanwhile, the big league Cubs’ leaders in OPS are starting pitcher John Lackey and center fielder Albert Almora, who has shown star potential in the 14 at-bats that manager Joe Maddon has generously granted him. Supposed-MVP Kris Bryant only just hit his first two home runs of the season Saturday when coincidentally it was announced that Happ would start playing some third base.
Strange how that works. The juggernaut Cincinnati Reds aren’t going to get knocked out of first place in the NL Central by outlandishly engorged World Series rings.
Such are the Mad Hatters and March Hares of April sports in this town. Should we need normalcy, we can take solace in the rock that is the Bears surely making the right decision with the No. 3 overall draft pick late next week.
Tim Baffoe is a columnist for CBSChicago.com. Follow Tim on Twitter @TimBaffoe. The views expressed on this page are those of the author, not CBS Local Chicago or our affiliated television and radio stations.