On Oct. 9, 2017, I cut my fall break short to go to Maggiano’s for the Chicagoland Tip-off Luncheon, where all of the Division I Chicago college basketball teams met to unofficially start the season. At the time, I was having trouble picking which team would top my Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) preseason poll ballot. Naturally, I asked Loyola coach Porter Moser who I should pick: his Ramblers or Missouri State University.
“I think [Missouri State’s] clearly the favorite,” Moser told me. “They’ve got the best player in the league … their problem is they’ve got a lot of guys.”
Fast forward to March. Loyola won the MVC and Missouri State finished seventh. Sorry, coach. You’re not living this one down for a while.
A journey that started nearly six months ago came to a close March 31 when Loyola lost to University of Michigan 69-57 in the Final Four. It was an amazing run, and I’m grateful to have had a front-row seat for it all. Thanks to all of you for following along this season (and for blowing up my Twitter feed).
While college basketball is fun and all, the real show got started March 29. It’s my favorite time of year: baseball season.
Ever since I was a kid, I’ve waited anxiously for Opening Day. Even as I went through my Facebook memories — which is a treat in and of itself because of some of the posts I saw from fifth-grade Nick — I noticed I even counted down the days a few times.
Chicago baseball fans will be in for an interesting summer. As I wrote on Valentine’s Day when Spring Training started, I’m optimistic the Cubs can do something special this year. They’ve got a lot of good parts and, despite the slow start, I think they’ll be a force in the National League yet again.
Now, I want to talk about the team on the other side of town. While the White Sox might not have the success the Cubs could have, this year will be a test of how the rebuild is going. The pieces are there, with talented outfielder Eloy Jimenez on the rise in the minors (thanks to the Cubs) and talented pitching in the system, so a crosstown World Series isn’t out of the realm of possibility come 2020.
Yes, I put it in writing. We’ll see if that haunts me after I graduate.
As you know — and if you don’t, I’d suggest reading my columns a little more — I’m as much of a die-hard Cubs fan as they come. But, I have to give credit to the White Sox for finally doing something right. I wasn’t sure about this rebuild at first, but now I’m watching it head in the right direction.
Somehow, in five years, we went from having really bad Chicago baseball to being optimistic about it. Life comes at you fast, I guess. But, I’m not complaining. My dad’s a White Sox fan. I can only imagine what would happen if it was a Cubs-Sox World Series one day.
The White Sox won’t win the division this year — some team from Cleveland will get in the way of that. Next year, though? Watch out. The Crosstown Cup might actually have meaning again.
With just 216 days until college basketball starts again, fans will have to pass the time by watching quality baseball on Chicago’s North Side and a promising team on the city’s South Side. I know I can’t wait to get to a game.