Opinions are like a–holes, everybody got one. Except for columnists, they got three.
— Unknown fact
As columnists, it seems like all we do or our only job when covering sports in the city is to 1) complain, criticize and oppose, never see a light at the end of anything, or 2) make everything in Chicago sports seem worse than what it is. In other words, tell the truth. But in this week of giving thanks, it seemed apropos to look past the darkness that has become the Bears, Bulls and White Sox; the subtle shade overcasting the Cubs, Sky and Blackhawks; the Northwestern drama and Illini struggles and find the light — that dim, fading light — that is our only source of lumination in this former sports mecca the world calls Chicago but we call home.
But there’s thankfulness inside our opinions. They’re just hard to find, hidden too deep between the lines we write. Even in this week of Thanksgiving, where the Bulls are 23rd (out of 30), the Hawks are 30th (out of 32) and the Bears are 28th (out of 32) in each league’s power rankings, there are many things we’re — like most of the people in the city — thankful for. Maybe more.
We’re thankful for high school basketball jumping off (and the top two teams in the state playing each other next week). Thankful for Loyola vs. Lincoln-Way East (Class 8A), Mount Carmel vs. Downers Grove North (7A) and Joliet Catholic vs. Nazareth (5A) in the state high school football finals, never mind the outcomes. Thankful for the message Ogden Park’s James Bell walks through life with that should be a message to all of us in the city and beyond.
Thankful that the Cubs have a somewhat legitimate chance at possibly making the Shohei thing happen. Thankful that, at the end of the day (season, year, current era), the Bears will have a foundation-changing pick(s) in April’s draft that hopefully they won’t mess up. Thankful for the Sox that it can’t get any worse. Thankful for the Sky giving T-Spoon the keys. Thankful for the Alex Brown/Lance Briggs ‘‘Aftershow’’ debates. Thankful for Connor Bedard. (Thank God for Connor).
Thankful, strictly from a sports perspective, that Northwestern football is officially bowl-eligible. Thankful Jim Harbaugh will be leaving Michigan after this season and can be convinced that Halas Hall is a better option. Thankful for Marquette basketball. Thankful that Olivia Miles (Notre Dame) will (hopefully) be back on the court soon. Thankful Boo Buie (Northwestern) stayed to give us front-row seats to his senior season.
Believe it or not, we’re thankful for Montez Sweat. Thankful for Luis Robert Jr. Definitely thankful for Kahleah Copper. Thankful for Cody Bellinger. And, more important, Justin Steele. Thankful for our colleagues in the local media for even putting out there that Jerry Reinsdorf has to sell the Sox. Thankful that the McCaskeys are next on the list. Thankful Milwaukee’s mad that Craig Counsell chose us. Thankful for ‘‘Leila Wednesdays.’’ Thankful that Charissa Thompson and Erin Andrews aren’t based — or were taught how to be journalists — in Chicago. Thankful for our every-day-all-day sports-radio competition — I’m sorry, sports-radio ‘‘options.’’ Thankful for Adam Amin and Stacey King making a lot of the Bulls’ first halves watchable. Thankful that Ryan Chiaverini is back in the sports-anchor space where he belongs. Thankful for all that Jim Rose did and all that Kenny McReynolds continues to do. Thankful knowing that one day Jason Benetti will return the same way Chuck Swirsky did. Thankful for orange uniforms. And thankful that even though they ain’t winning on it, the Bulls do have the dopest In-Season Tournament court in the NBA.
Thankful for what Je’Shawn Stevenson (Lindblom), Jack Stanton (Downers Grove North) and Davion Thompson (Bolingbrook) are about to show us. Thankful for what Colson Montgomery has the possibility of soon becoming for the Sox. Same with Colton Dach one day for the Hawks. Thankful for the Bears as an organization out in the streets, helping to feed migrant families. Thankful for the example former Bear Israel Idonije is setting for former NFL players and future young Black entrepreneurs throughout the city. Thankful for former UIC legend, MLB All-Star and Blue Island’s own Curtis Granderson’s Grand Giving Initiative for directly dealing with the food desert and hunger issues throughout Chicago.
We are thankful — and grateful — we get to see so many Walter Payton jerseys every day, especially on Sundays. Thankful Scottie Pippen, through it all, still gets his flowers. Thankful Steve McMichael finally made the Hall of Fame finalist list. Thankful DePaul brought Mark Aguirre back home. Thankful Sister Jean is all ours. Thankful that the Bears have six more games to be at least one game better than they were last season. Thankful in that thing called progress and the wishful, often delusional, thinking — not writing — that always seems to come with it.