As the year comes to a close, each of the Chicago franchises are in different places. For the most part, the Cubs are feeling amazing,while the others are likely inclined to be disappointed in their 2016 seasons. Which of the Chicago franchises outside of the Cubs had the most disappointing year?
number four: Bears
Unlike the other three teams, 2016 never was supposed to be a great year for the Bears. After finishing 6-10 the previous year, the Bears had most fans hoping for 7-9 or maybe even an 8-8 season, with the seemingly generous schedule the Bears had.
But this year was a step in the wrong direction for John Fox’s team. Battling injuries and suspensions, the team sits at 3-12, and are underdogs against the Vikings next weekend. Jeremy Langford has not been the talented heir to Forte’s running back position that many expected after a promising 2015 season. Jay Cutler is still mediocre, frustrating, Jay Cutler. Alshon Jeffery has under performed.
Beloved kicker Robbie Gould was so incredibly worse than his past excellence that the Bears let him go, meaning Bears that fans have no player left from the 2006 Super Bowl to remind them of that wonderful season. So with all these horrible things, why aren’t the Bears ranked as more disappointing?
It’s a combination of expectations, poor luck, and the surprising number of bright spots. First off, no one thought the Bears would be good, so I’m not sure why we’re surprised that they aren’t. Jordan Howard has run the ball incredibly, averaging 5.1 yards per rushing attempt. The Bears 2016 first-round draft pick, Leonard Floyd, has played great for a rookie linebacker, with seven sacks.
Right now, the Bears are in line for the 3rd overall draft pick in next spring’s NFL Draft, giving them the opportunity to secure a future star player. Additionally, injuries have killed the Bears. Jay Cutler, Brian Hoyer, Eddie Royal, Pernell McPhee, Kyle Long, and many, many more have all missed significant time recovering. Not to mention Alshon Jeffery and Jerell Freeman were suspended for PED violations this season.
If the Bears could have avoided most of those, they easily could have won three more games when considering their margin of loss was six or less in six different games. So although the Bears record is horrifying, when you factor in everything else, the Bears just aren’t that disappointing.
Number Three: White Sox
On February 15, 2016, USA Today Sports predicted the White Sox would finish the 2016 season with a record of 90-72. While this seemed outlandish to many baseball fans, it wasn’t that far off from others’ projections.
With the additions of Todd Frazier, Brett Lawrie, and Jimmy Rollins, many thought the White Sox had a chance at competing for the playoffs. After starting out 23-10, many White Sox fans began to reminisce of 2008 and 2005, the last two times that the White Sox made the playoffs. It really looked like 2016 would result in another postseason appearance for the south sider’s.
After blowing an 11-6 lead to the Rangers in early May, the White Sox never recovered. They finished 78-84, which was an improvement over the last three years, but still a letdown when considering their fiery start.
In addition, beloved staff ace Chris Sale fell short of the Cy Young Award yet again, and many White Sox fans were in despair when he was traded away and they realized their front office had wasted away seven years of the talented southpaw’s abilities. So why are they less disappointing than the Bulls and Hawks? As far as the Bulls, the White Sox are heading in a much more hopeful direction after trading away Chris Sale and Adam Eaton,and acquiring prospects to lead the Sox into the future. The Bulls, as I said, have a much uglier future.
As for the Hawks, the difference is the expectations. Yes, the White Sox were supposed to compete for the postseason, but the Hawks were supposed to compete for the Stanley Cup, or at least make it to another conference finals. So even though the summer ended on a bad note, the optimism expressed this winter leave the White Sox less disappointing for many Chicago fans than the Hawks or Bulls.
Number Two: Blackhawks
Man, the Blackhawks really did spoil us from 2013-2015. Three straight conference finals appearances, with two of them leading to a Stanley Cup Championship.
So in 2016, despite being seeded lower than their opponent, the St. Louis Blues, most fans were still confident in their team, especially because the Hawks seemed to have the Blues number in the playoffs. But the Hawks fell down 3-1 in the series, and unlike in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs, could not come all the way back, as they lost in a heartbreaking game 7 by a score of 3-2.
A playoff appearance might not seem too disappointing, but considering the previous successes and everyone’s expectations, the Blackhawks let everyone down. It was all too similar to recent experiences for fans to even ponder a first round exit. In the 2014 playoffs, they were down two games to the Blues, but came back and won the series to advance. In their 2013 and 2015 Stanley Cup runs, they had won game the game seven’s that they played. So when the final horn sounded last May, and it was St. Louis moving on, the entire city of Chicago was stunned.
Though they had performed better than any of the other three teams, their expectations were sky high compared to those other teams, and that’s why they’re second on my list. On the bright side, they have the most points in the Western Conference, and Toews, Kane, and company seem to be firing on all cylinders, so their future outlook is still great.
Number One: Bulls
On January 7, 2016, the Bulls were 22-12. They were on a six-game winning streak which included triumphs over the Boston Celtics, and the Toronto Raptors twice. Needless to say, they were feeling pretty good about themselves.
But it pretty much went all downhill from there. They broke down over the course of the rest of the season, finishing 42-40 and missing out on the playoffs for the first time since the 2007-2008 season. That was so long ago, the Bulls didn’t even have Derrick Rose that year.
So, the Bulls made some changes over the course of the offseason. Out with the old, and in with the aging, as they added veterans Dwyane Wade, Rajon Rondo, and Robin Lopez. While Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, and Pau Gasol departed. However, the offseason changes don’t seem to be working very well. The Bulls are sitting at 14-16, and as I wrote in my article last week, the short-term and long-term outlook are bleak.
So, the Bulls are bad, but why does that make the year disappointing?
Because they weren’t supposed to be bad last season, and started this campaign off pretty well. Yes, it was Fred Hoiberg‘s first year in 2015, but the Bulls still had all the main pieces from their 2011 conference finals run, Derrick Rose played for most of the season, and Jimmy Butler started to look like a star. With all that in mind, going 42-40 was a disappointment. But as evidence in the White Sox rebuild, what matters most might be your outlook now, so that’s why their current standing is the real disappointment.
The Bulls just don’t have enough around Wade and Butler, and their younger players haven’t panned out as well as some have hoped. That’s why they have earned the title of most disappointing Chicago sports team in 2016. To receive positive titles in the future, drastic measures are in order, so let’s hope Santa brought the Bulls some luck and some ideas for Christmas.