It’s never too early to post your vacation wish list, especially if you’re a Chicago sports fan combing through the winter months with the Bears, Bulls and Blackhawks in season and the Cubs and White Sox preparing for winter meetings.
With Black Friday approaching, here are 10 things we wish for but probably won’t get.
1. Aaron Richter at Wrigley Field
It doesn’t make sense that the San Francisco Giants can afford to sign the free-agent hitter, but the Cubs can only window shop. While the Cubs are among the top eight teams interested in Judge, no one gives them a realistic chance of winning him because President Jed Hoyer is unwilling to commit to a long-term contract.
The last time the Cubs signed a top-flight slugger was in 1987, when Andre Dawson was so eager to play at Wrigley Field that he offered to play at whatever price the Cubs’ management thought was worth. Get the blank check ready, Jed.
2. The current and future Cy Young winners at Sox Park
Justin Verlander and Dylan Cease took first and second place votes for the American League’s Cy Young Award. Verlander has a few years left in his Hall of Fame career and would look good on the Sox rotation, followed by Cease and Lance Lynn.
All it takes is a short-term deal of about $40 million a year, which the Sox could afford if Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf approves a slight 2023 budget increase while the window to win it all is still open. All those bad vibes from the wasted 2022 season would vanish without a trace.
3. Lonzo ball in uniform
It’s been so long since we’ve seen ball play it’s easy to forget just how much he brought to the table for the Bulls early last season.
Seeing him in street clothes on the bench at the United Center is as old as seeing Benny the Bull throw a giant bag of popcorn at unsuspecting fans. The less we hear about Ball’s return, the more we wonder if he’ll return at all.
4. Working scoreboards
During the fourth quarter of last month’s Bears-Miami Dolphins game, the video board in Soldier Field’s south end zone informed fans that the Dolphins were in third place. It was actually fourth as indicated by the down markers. The scoreboard error was only fixed after a long timeout.
The next day at the Bulls-Toronto Raptors game at the United Center, the scoreboard froze five minutes into the game and was not fixed for several minutes. Proper functioning of the scoreboard should be a priority for teams. The basics are more important than the graphics and sound effects.
5. A Bulls Dynasty Series on Netflix
If the producers of “The Crown” could make a popular TV series out of what happened with the House of Windsor, surely they could do the same with the House of Jordan.
“The Last Dance” laid the foundation. All they have to do is turn the real-life Bulls soap opera of Michael Jordan’s career into a 10-part screenplay. Who would play Dennis Rodman? Himself of course.
6. A number retired by Jonathan Toews
It’ll happen eventually, so the Blackhawks might as well do it while No. 19 is still playing.
The Sox did the unthinkable for Harold Baines in August 1989, giving up his No. 3 when he returned to Comiskey Park shortly after a trade to the Texas Rangers that brought Sammy Sosa to Chicago. “We figured if Harold knew about it, he wouldn’t show up,” Reinsdorf told the Tribune of the surprise honor.
Marian Hossa could host.
7. A moratorium on sports betting ads
We all know by now that we can win big with your betting app “risk free”. But does that mean you have to buy every minute of ad time in match broadcasts?
The man betting on a toilet ad appears to be repeated every five minutes during Bulls TV shows. While sports teams appeal to betting audiences, they turn off the vast majority of fans who don’t bet on matches and find the barrage of betting ads annoying.
8th Virtual SoxFest
The Sox have decided not to hold SoxFest in January for reasons that were never explained but reportedly had nothing to do with answering questions from angry Sox fans.
If that’s the case, the Sox can make amends without renting space at a hotel or McCormick Place. In this Zoom era, it would be easy to have general manager Rick Hahn, manager Pedro Grifol, and many players available on conference calls to answer questions from curious fans. The Sox could charge a small fee, with the money going to charity.
Maybe even Reinsdorf would zoom in. Or maybe not.
9. Leftovers for Peanut Tillman
How come former Bears cornerback Charles “Peanut” Tillman isn’t making any money off the “Peanut Punch”? The parade can be seen virtually every Saturday and Sunday during college football and NFL seasons.
Tillman still earns a few hundred bucks every time a peanut punch hits, and a few more bucks when the announcer credits him with the move. Of all the Bears’ great defensive players over the years, only Tillman has made his mark with his own signature move.
10. Aaron Rodgers’ crash landing at Soldier Field
It’s been a strange year for Bears fans, who have balanced their love of watching Justin Fields’ progress with the team’s many shortcomings and terrible 3-8 record.
But 2022 was also memorable for watching Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers suffer through one of the worst seasons of his career. The pained expression on his face after each incompleteness brings tears to our eyes. It’s worth celebrating.
Even though the Bears-Packers game at Soldier Field on December 4th will be meaningless, the fantasy scenario in which the Bears defense kicks Rodgers when he’s down could save a tough year for Chicago sports fans.