Jul 20, 2021

ESPN isn't high on the Bears' three-year plan — yet

ESPN isn't high on the Bears' three-year plan — yet

Welcome to today's issue of Midway Minute! If you're not a subscriber yet, you can sign up for free here.

Good morning, frents!

The Bears will report to training camp one week from today and it's hard to remember a camp we've anticipated more. That's the Justin Fields effect.

It's a different feeling, to be sure, and what makes it a little strange is that the excitement isn't really for the season ahead. Yeah, it'd be nice if the Bears could put together a good season, but most of our hopes are tied up in what we think Fields can be.

The Bears might not be serious contenders to make noise in 2021, but there's a hope (expectation?) the team gets there during the five years of Fields' rookie contract.

And it's apparently not one that's shared by the national media.

ESPN recently did a power ranking of all 32 teams based on their three-season outlooks. The Bears ranked 27th.

The network's panel, which included Louis Riddick, Field Yates and others, put the Bears hopes' only ahead of the Raiders, Bengals, Eagles, Lions and Texans.

Not exactly the company you want to keep.

Dig deeper though and you find the national folks aren't that different from us. They're looking at that Fields lottery ticket, too.

"The Bears have a clear and direct path to flying up these rankings in Justin Fields," writes Yates. "If the former Ohio State quarterback meets the promise so many see in him, Chicago's fortunes turn immediately."

So what hurts the Bears here?

ESPN's panel graded each club in five different categories: Quarterback, roster (w/o QB), coaching, draft and front office.

They apparently don't think much of Ryan Pace, ranking the Bears' front office last. Their draft, however, came in 22nd which makes you question the method a little.

The Bears QB situation ranks 20th, the roster 23rd and coaching 25th.

Nothing seems that out of line unless you think Pace redeemed himself a bit in the last two drafts. I'm not a big Pace guy, but I don't think he deserves to rank behind the leadership of the five teams that trail the Bears in the rankings.

Then again, it's the cap mess and roster shortcomings that give Fields and the other recent draftees in a tougher position of turning things around than maybe it had to be.

Monday's results
Twins 3, Sox 2 (8)
Sox 5, Twins 3
Cardinals 8, Cubs 3

Today's schedule
Twins at Sox (7:10, NBCSCH)
Cubs at Cardinals (7:15, Marquee)

News and results

Gavin Sheets hangs curtains on Jose Berrios

On the brink of being swept by Minnesota in a doubleheader, Gavin Sheets hit a three-run homer to walk off Twins starter Jose Berrios on Monday night. It was Sheets' fifth homer since being called up and the first time the Sox walked off a starter since Carlos Quentin and John Lackey in May 2008. (Thanks, Chris Kamka.)

  • Sheets' heroics wasn't the day's only good news for the Sox. Luis Robert was cleared to start his rehab assignment in High-A ball on Wednesday.
  • Cleveland's loss on Monday extended the Sox division lead to a season-high 8.5 games.
  • Next:  Dallas Keuchel (7-3, 4.25) faces Bailey Ober (1-1, 5.45).

Cardinals 8, Cubs 3: Not Javy's day

Someone leaked to Jon Heyman on Monday that Javy Baez is looking for an extension north of $200 million. A few hours later, Baez made his 16th and 17th errors of the season on back-to-back plays in a four-run Cardinals inning. I know logically that one probably has nothing to do with the other, but talk about horrible timing.

Also, Javy Baez isn't getting anywhere close to $200 million. I don't think his next deal will eclipse, say, 6/140 in this market and I'm hesitant to even type those numbers.

  • The Cubs have lost 15 of 19 games since the combined no-hitter in Los Angeles on June 24.

Next: Trevor Williams (3-2, 5.51) goes against a Cardinals starter to be announced later.

Zach LaVine left behind in U.S. — for now

Apparently the only thing that can ground the Bulls star is health and safety protocols. Hopefully he can rejoin Team USA later this week, but he'll need a quick turnaround if he doesn't want to miss any time. First game is on Sunday.

  1. Select White Sox season ticket holders can enter a lottery for Field of Dreams tickets next month. Face value? $400. Sox on 35th
  2. Former 44th Ward alderman Bernie Hansen died Sunday at age 76. He represented Lakeview and helped lead the fight against lights at Wrigley Field. Here's an archived article from the day City Council approved the change. Tribune
  3. I wouldn't wish the details of the Ben Zobrist divorce on my worst enemy. Tribune
  4. How many shares of Portillo's stock will I have to buy before I can post a picture of myself with Scott Darling by the counter? ABC 7 Chicago
  5. Goose Island may have an '83 retro can for its Sox Golden Ale in the works. Guys Drinking Beer

Finally, Chicago music writer Scott Morrow said last week that thoughts of missing out on the Justin Fields era kept him alive after being shot in Humboldt Park ... BearsWire

... Then, on Monday night, this happened.

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