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Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Steve Greenberg

2023 visions: Bears win! (Oops.) Bulls get in! (Briefly.) And our baseball teams? Not all bad

Justin Fields will carry the Bears to a streak-busting win in the season finale against the Vikings. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

On Sunday in Detroit, the Bears will — surprise! — lose to the Lions.

A day later in the ReliaQuest Bowl in Tampa, Fla., Illinois will fall to Mississippi State.

We’re not off to the most encouraging start here, are we?

But don’t fret, because on Jan. 8 at Soldier Field, in their season finale, the ’22 Bears will eighty-six a months-long losing streak by beating the playoff-bound Vikings. What, you draftniks say that’s a bad thing? Look, you can’t lose ’em all.

On Jan. 14, one year to the day since Lonzo Ball last played in a game, fans’ hopes will soar as word spreads that the Bulls guard was seen cutting his own ribeye at Gibson’s without visible discomfort. Not funny? A plate of rubber chicken, then, for everyone who makes it to the end of this column.

What’s with all the predictions? Well, it’s that time of year again. Consider this a year’s worth of precious intel. If having 2023 vision is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

On Feb. 9, the NBA trade deadline will come and go without any of the Bulls’ Big 3 having to box up their belongings. Everybody ready to roll with DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic? Less than four weeks later, though, there will be real sadness when the NHL trade deadline arrives, breaking up Blackhawks legends Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews once and for all. Which one ships out? Maybe both.

And on Feb. 12 — a big, big day — a Super Bowl champion will be crowned. It won’t be the Eagles, who won’t even be in Glendale, Ariz. It won’t be the 49ers, who will be. Heartwarmingly, it’ll be the Bills for the very first time. All of Buffalo, bless those folks, will have reason to rejoice.

Speaking of rejoicing, I invited followers on Twitter and Facebook to do some forecasting with me. What a bunch of rays of sunshine.

“Chicago teams play zero playoff games,” @BWalker commented.

“Cubs, White Sox, Bulls and Hawks suck again in 2023,” Glenn wrote. “Glad I watch none of the above anymore.”

The Illini will get off the bubble and into the Big Dance. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

Why don’t I retake the reins. On Selection Sunday, March 12, Illinois will hear its name called and at last be (phew) off the NCAA Tournament bubble. Big Ten regular-season champ Purdue will get a No. 1 seed in the Big Dance, but the winner of the league tournament — Ohio State, this time — will be underseeded by the selection committee. Some things are automatic.

On Opening Day, March 30, the Cubs will welcome the Brewers to Wrigley Field and Jose Abreu will welcome the Sox, the media and any other familiar old face to Houston’s Minute Maid Park with a hearty hello and a hug. What a guy, that Abreu. The Astros — like they weren’t good enough already — sure are lucky to have him.

On April 2 in Dallas, South Carolina will make it two women’s NCAA Tournament titles in a row. The following night in Houston — would you believe it? — Houston, as in Kelvin Sampson’s Cougars, will cut down the nets after ending Purdue’s run, extending the Big Ten’s title drought to 23 long, bitterly dry years.

On April 11, the NBA play-in tournament will begin and the 10th-seeded Bulls will clip the ninth-seeded Hawks in Atlanta. A third buzzer-beater there between the teams this season? Better still, the Bulls will rush to Indiana and beat the Pacers to claim the final East playoff spot. Alas, it won’t go well at all against the top-seeded Celtics from there.

And what about April 27 and the first round of the NFL draft? Some Bears fans will be shouting for the team to use its No. 1 pick on an instant-impact starter. Others will be shouting for general manager Ryan Poles to trade down. I’ll be shouting for Alabama pass rusher Will Anderson to make his way to Chicago one way or the other.

On May 8, the Cardinals’ Willson Contreras comes home. Sort of. It’ll be emotional at Wrigley.

“Benches clear every time the Cubs and Cards play,” @alyse_gk predicted, “with Willson being in the mix in all situations.”

Hopefully not that emotional.

On June 18, Jayson Tatum wins his first ring with the Celtics, breaking Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets’ hearts in Game 7. Boston must be the place to be, because the Bruins are bringing home the Stanley Cup, too.

A 2023 All-Star breakthrough for Luis Robert? (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

On July 11 in Seattle, Dansby Swanson, Marcus Stroman, Luis Robert and Dylan Cease will rep Chicago in baseball’s All-Star Game. Four days later, Candace Parker will appear in her eighth and final WNBA All-Star Game — and, yes, she’ll be repping Chicago, too.

It’s a World Cup year — on the women’s side — meaning the U.S. actually has a chance to be left standing in the end on Aug. 20 in Sydney, Australia. How does a third straight championship sound?

“Red Stars keeper Alyssa Naher will be starting in goal despite coming off a year with injuries,” Dayna wrote. “She is a beast!”

The NFL season kicks off on Sept. 7, but schedules aren’t even out yet. What are we supposed to do with that?

From Jose: “Sadly, the Cubs will win 85 games and finish behind the Cardinals, who win yet another World Series.”

And from Robert: “The Cubs and Sox both finish 83-79 and miss the playoffs.”

That’s what they think, but I disagree. On Oct. 1, the final day of the regular season will unfold with the Sox in the playoff mix. Get a load of you, Pedro Grifol. The Cubs will, unfortunately, have to clean out their lockers, and you know what that means:

Maybe next year.

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