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Good morning, friends!
So it looks like we won't be seeing Justin Fields one last time this season as he landed on the COVID-19 list on Thursday. Given that he was facing a needless injury risk in what should be Matt Nagy's final game, I'm more than OK with it.
In other news, can we start a petition for a running clock come Sunday?
Coyotes 6, Hawks 4
Illinois 76, Maryland 64
Loyola 79, San Francisco 74
Wizards at Bulls (7, NBCSCH)
Villanova at DePaul (1, FS1)
Bradley at Loyola (3, NBCSCH)
Hawks at Golden Knights (9, NBCSCH)
Bears at Vikings (Noon, Fox)
Northwestern at Ohio State (4:30, BTN)
Bulls at Mavericks (6:30, NBCSCH)
Baseball gives us another aimless offseason
It's a small detail on the list of other things we're battling this year.
But man, I'm missing the regular baseball calendar for a third straight winter.
For most of our lives, we'd wrap up another bad Bears season with the warming knowledge that spring training was just around the corner.
And I've always liked looking at the MLB.com app to see the first day of scheduled games in Arizona. It's a reassuring sign there's some sunshine at the end of all this endless Chicago winter suck we're about to hit.
Anyway, I just looked it up. That day — February 26 — is still on the app. The Cubs are supposed to play the Dodgers. The White Sox are supposed to welcome the A's.
But will either game happen? How about the rest of the spring schedule? I had two friends who are supposed to hit Arizona in March ask me that question this week. Another asked if Opening Day in Chicago would be pushed back.
At this point, who knows? I certainly wouldn't bet your money on either. Major League Baseball and the players union haven't had in-person talks since the two sides met for a whopping seven minutes on December 1. Anthony Rizzo had a longer at-bat than that last year — and it ended with a game-tying homer.
This week, Jeff Passan wrote a good piece on ESPN+ ($) about where the lockout stands. The two sides aren't expected to meet again until late January — no rush guys, really — and the issues that need to be ironed out are multifold. (Shoutout to Lee Elia.)
If it isn't service-time manipulation, then it's the competitive balance tax, expanded playoffs, or penalties for tanking or ...
Look, does anyone really think an owners' group committed to curbing spending and a powerful union committed to claiming more ground will resolve this quickly? While Passan cites sources from both sides which lay out similar visions for a mutually-agreeable destination, it's hard to believe this doesn't get done without plenty of blood spilled through the media in February and beyond.
Here's what Max Scherzer, one of eight player reps, told the Los Angeles Times in an interview that's worth reading:
"We all believe in the same thing. Our message has galvanized us in a way that we understand what we’re fighting for. In terms of leverage … it’s more about in terms of strength of our union, this is the strongest I’ve ever seen the union in terms of the entire group of players being on the same page at the same time."
The only good news is that we have some practice with these disjointed winters. The 2020 spring training schedule was fine until coronavirus said that it wasn't and then we spent most of the early summer watching the league and union sling mud over the terms of the weirdest season we'll hopefully ever see.
Last winter featured just as much fighting and uncertainty as owners tried to push back the season's start until more fans would be allowed into stadiums. (They were not successful.)
As I said, we have more significant issues on our plates right now. American life has been upended in so many ways. Families couldn't get together for Christmas yet again and Chicago schoolchildren can't even return to their desks. I'd like both issues resolved before Carlos Correa decides if he's coming to the Cubs.
Still, it'd be nice to have the hot stove season take our minds off things and a definite date for that first spring training telecast to deliver a yellow sun and green grass to our cold television sets.
Instead, we'll have to gear up to watch the league and union fight while ruining our third straight offseason.
Thank god for the Bulls.
News and results
Illini: Terps get bullied in Champaign
Kofi Cockburn posted his seventh straight double-double with a 23-point, 18-board night as Illinois moved to 11-3 overall and 4-0 in the Big Ten with a 76-64 win over Maryland.
But the night's coolest story....
As I wrote on Twitter last night, no one goes down to Champaign in the middle of winter just because. What great chemistry these Bulls have.
Hawks: Worst loss of the season?
Oof. While a trip to face the six-win Coyotes seemed like a good spot to stop the freefall, the Hawks had other ideas. Despite outshooting Arizona 36-26, the Hawks dropped a 6-4 decision for their sixth straight loss and held a players-only meeting after the game. They'll be in Vegas to face the conference-leading Golden Knights on Saturday.
Loyola: Back in business with San Francisco win
The Ramblers were off for 26 days and came back on Thursday with a 79-74 win over San Francisco at a Salt Lake City community college.
Said Ryan Schwieger, who led Loyola with 24 points:
“We haven’t played in forever, our game got canceled, so we just schedule one of the best teams in the country at a community college in Utah. One-day prep and go do it. When you’re a basketball player, you love stuff like that."
That quote is from The Athletic's Brian Hamilton, who was on the scene to write about the "weird, wonderful game" with about 100 people in the stands.
Congrats to Gary, who was the first to write this week and ask why I'm no longer using 'frents' in the newsletter greeting anymore.
The explanation: I've had a few SEO people tell me that Google running into the non-English word atop each post might hurt my chances of ranking higher in search and news results. Apparently, the search spiders do not speak Bridgeport.
That, plus more than a few people writing in to ask what "frents" means made it seem like a good time to change things up for the new year.
That doesn't mean I won't break it out when the situation calls for it. And I plan to keep giving out those "Good Morning, Frents" coffee mugs to the people who earn them.
1. Cam Ellis says the Bears have been 'bleeding the Matt Nagy era to death.' 670 The Score
2. Kevin Clark on the common mistakes that NFL teams make in coaching and GM search. Seems relevant! The Ringer
3. Caleb Jones and Connor Murphy reportedly had their cars stolen from the valet while they were having dinner in the West Loop. TMZ
4. Al Piemonte's son Marco can win a $1.2 million parlay if Georgia beats Alabama on Monday night. NBC Sports Chicago
5. Miss "Check, Please?" The '77 Flavors' podcast — which features a different Chicago neighborhood each episode — might be for you. Block Club Chicago
Finally, a big congrats to all of our friends at The Athletic Chicago! Like SNL's routine raidings of Second City talent, it's nice to see New York again acknowledging that most great things start right here in the Midwest.
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