Rookies make or break Chicago sports

By The Columbia Chronicle

More times than not, this great sports city we call Chi-town, is asking questions and scratching their heads as we continue to look for signs of hope for a brighter future. Up until this past year, Chicago fans have had little to cheer about, other than the expected championships from the Chicago Bulls. All in one year, we’ve been treated to the Turner Cup Champion from the Chicago Wolves.

The Chicago Fire won the Major League Soccer Championship in their first year in the league. And how can we ever forget the excitement at Wrigley Field as the Cubs won the National League wild-card to capture a playoff birth for the first time since 1989. The real truth of the matter is that Chicago, for the first time in a long time, has some exciting prospects to look at that may turn this city back into its dominant self.

Let me begin by tipping my cap to one of the hardest throwing 21 year-old’s this game has ever seen. His name is Kerry Wood. Let me rephrase that; Mr. Rookie of the Year Kerry Wood. This Chicago household name would much rather be referred to as Kerry. After becoming the fourth Cubs player, and the first Cubs pitcher to receive the award, Wood went on to say,”It was never a goal of mine. But it’s a great honor.” His 90 m.p.h. fastball gave Wood finished the season, 13-6 overall, with 233 strikeouts, and a 3.40 ERA.

Wood’s overnight success was achieved back on that cloudy day on May 6 at Wrigley Field, when he tied the Major League Baseball record with 20 strikeouts in a game. What’s so fascinating about this Roger Clemens look-alike is the fact that none of this stardom has gone to his head. There are Wood jerseys everywhere. He turned down an interview with Jay Leno when Leno was in Chicago because he felt he was just out there doing his job.

Imagine the hype of being the pitcher to come back after missing over a month of baseball, and coming back to pitch against the master of pitching,, Atlanta’s Greg Maddux. The composure and the attitude Wood has displayed will make himone of the more premiere pitchers in baseball. Not to mention one of the fans’ favorites next spring in Chicago.

Now we turn our attention to a man that came into this city as the Bears No.1 draft pick. From the get-go he gave himself a bad name by holding out of signing a contract because he wanted more money. If there is one thing Chicago fans can’t stand, it’s the arrogance and ignorance of athletes. We’ve waited too long for a football team to talk about, and continue to live in the shadow of the 1985 Bears. Walter Payton and Da’ Coach are gone, and few want to let that go.

I have a hard time myself priding myself in being a Bear fan, and when Curtis Enis felt the need to “negotiate”, I became irritated. So irritated, in fact, that I was hoping he would leave to a different city. But, like most rookies, he came around to signing. Now I will say that I am glad that he has. He has admitted it was wrong, and that he was highly-influenced by his agent to ask for more.

He has done what the Bears have asked for, an aggressive-style runner that the Bears have been looking for that will put the punch back into the offense.

Unfortunately, he’ll miss the rest of the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament that he suffered in the Bear’s home loss to the St. Louis Rams. Injuries in the past have been the deciding factor in many young athletes careers. Let’s hope his injury will make this hard-nosed running back come back and begin where he left off.

Even the Southsiders, themselves, brought 12 rookies to the majors, many of which became consistent starters to the team. As much as most of Chicago would not want to admit, the White Sox had the second best record in the American League for the second half of the season.

This is not an attempt to sit here and tell you fair-weathered Chicago sports fans that this youth movement will drastically change the success of our prized franchises. It’s merely an attempt to spread some hope on this pessimistic town, that have found many leaving to Cheeseland, in hopes of front running with a new team. Chicago has a long enough recess, and is ready to resume.

I know it’s hard to have so much faith after so many horrible years. There are some enthusiastic kids out there that are ready to prove themselves to this city. I’d have to say that the White Sox’s future looks bright, and this collaboration of young talent has added to the Chicago sports scene.