Chicago Sports: A Golden Past and Glowing Future
Chicago is a town built hand over hand by the passionate working class. You can see it in the pride that Chicago residents take in their food, their family, and their sports. From deep dish pizza to the phrase 'Bear Down', there is classic Chicago passion in everything city related. We can trace this workmanlike devotion all the way to the beginning of Chicago's various professional sports teams. Let's take a look at how some of Chicago's major franchises have shaped the Windy City.
If you want to feel the heartbeat of the city then you should head down to 1901 West Madison Street anytime during the NBA season. Chicago fans have been selling out hometown Bulls games for decades, ever since Michael Jordan led the Bulls to six NBA titles from 1991 to 1998. Now the Bulls are experiencing a regime change with head coach Fred Hoiberg in charge and young superstar Jimmy Butler headlining the box scores. The Bulls were voted the most popular sports team in Chicago and the future is looking bright for them. Locals and out of towners alike assemble on weekdays and weekends to fill up the United Center, though before they do they'll often dig into some of the excellent local food at places like the Park Tavern for some delicious deep dish pizza.
The United Center is also home to another popular franchise: the Chicago Blackhawks. Since 2010 the Chicago Blackhawks have become the strongest franchise in the entire NHL. Their superstar core, consisting of Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, makes any given night during the season an exciting one. The Blackhawks have hoisted two titles in the past five years and they are on the verge of becoming a true dynasty. Whenever the puck drops at the U.C. you'll end up seeing the city flooded with those iconic red jerseys.
Though Chicago’s NBA and NHL teams seem to be the most talented in the city, you can’t get a true taste of Chicago without swinging by Soldier Field for some tailgating and a Bears game. Chicago has been almost the definition of mediocre for the past three or four years with QB Jay Cutler dealing with a carousel of coaching changes. John Fox is in town as the new head coach and he brings with him a track record of huge success from his time in Denver. Fox is looking to become a stabilizing force for a Bears team that is clearly in the midst of a rebuild. Halfway through the 2015 season we have seen Fox turn the Chicago Bears into a team that is always prepared, if less talented than their opponent. Rookie running back Jeremy Langford is making his name known as Matt Forte’s replacement and Jay Cutler is enjoying a historic season, becoming the all-time leading passer in Bears history. With young studs like Alshon Jeffery, Kevin White, and Kyle Long waiting in the wings we think that the future might just be looking bright for the Bears.
Swinging the focus across town will bring us face to face with the hottest property in Chicago sports: the Chicago Cubs. For the better part of the past six years the Cubs have been one of the worst teams in the MLB, routinely failing to crack the ceiling on the 75 win mark. The Cubs are also enduring the longest World Series drought in the history of professional sports, not having won since 1908. However, once GM Theo Epstein got on board the entire tenor inside of Wrigley Field changed. The Cubs started stockpiling young assets, trading away under-performing vets, and focusing on the future. The Cubs were initially given a five year plan to turn things around yet just this year the Cubbies made it four wins away from a World Series appearance -- selling out almost every home game down the stretch.
Wrigley Field is historic not only for it’s on the field product but for the unique rooftop events that occur all around the facility. Surprisingly, you can find some of the best food in the city on sports days when local companies cater it into Wrigleyville. Buona Beef is one of the finest family-owned restaurant chains in the Midwest and when they bring their meaty dishes to gameday, you know you are in for a treat. If catered food on the roof doesn't quite do it for you while you are in Wrigleyville then make sure to head over to other local favorites such as Portillo’s, Maxwell Street, or Mr. Beef.
You can’t talk Chicago baseball without including the south side’s White Sox, though some fans would prefer that you didn’t. Despite having one of the most bloated payrolls in all of baseball, we have seen the White Sox consistently underperform for the past several seasons. This past year the White Sox were supposed to make a deep playoff run due to their ‘powerful line up’ and deep pitching staff. Instead the U.S. Cellular home team finished the year at 76 – 86, only 2 games above the basement dwellers of their division. Despite some superstar talents in Jose Abreu and Chris Sale, the White Sox seem at least three or four years away from competing for much of anything as they lack a farm and are laden with bad contracts. Still, if you have to catch an afternoon Sox game make sure you stop by 35th Street Red Hots. This cozy little hot dog stand is located within walking distance of the field and it offers some of the best red hots in the city. Try out their fried shrimp for an underrated favorite.
So as you can see, Chicago is a city that is rich in both quality food and passionate sport fans. On any given night you can spend your evening watching one of four professional sports teams before closing the experience out with some of the finest food in the world. From red hots at Wrigley Field to deep dish pizza outside of the United Center, the city has something for everyone.