Fun news: Although it’s been long dormant, midwayminute.com is already taken. So I’ve instead purchased midwayminute.win and pointed the domain straight to this here newsletter.
It doesn’t really affect anything on your end, especially if you’re already a subscriber. But the next time you want to recommend this newsletter to a frent, you won’t have to remember midwayminute.substack.com (unless you want to, because it still works).
It’s much easier to recall and say midwayminute.win so it’ll only be a matter of time until your pals join our little Chicago sports party each morning.
As always, thank you for any and all word of mouth. You’re the best.
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Illinois at #9 Penn State (5:30, FS1, Ill +7, O/U 141)
The Illini are looking to snap a four-game losing streak and, no, I can’t believe Penn State is ranked ninth in the nation, either.
The happiest franchise in baseball?
This is rare territory for the White Sox.
After almost a decade of wandering around the baseball wilderness, the Sox are entering 2020 with extremely high hopes. The team was the consensus winners of the offseason, their much-publicized turnaround looks like it’s right on schedule and everyone down in Glendale seems like they’re having a great time right now.
Heck, even Eloy Jimenez is talking about hitting 50 home runs.
The White Sox are basically occupying a mindspace that’s the complete opposite of Jerry Reinsdorf’s other team across town, successful All-Star Game or not.
They’re also a glaring exception to the rule in Major League Baseball right now, where absolutely no one else seems happy.
Think about it.
If the sport were a party, the White Sox would be the guy who got off work late and is ready to get down with a case of Claw. But when he shows up, he finds that the party has already run its course. Everyone is either already passed out or fighting.
The Astros are trying to talk their way out of the biggest World Series scandal since the 1919 Black Sox and doing a terrible job of it.
The Dodgers and Yankees have Series dreams but are preoccupied with the Astros and taking on the commissioner.
Red Sox fans are stewing over their ownership trading one of their best players in the past half century to get under the luxury tax; Cubs fans are mortified that their owners will do the same with Kris Bryant.
The Mets are still the Mets and just went through the Carlos Beltran fiasco, while the Giants can’t seem to find their way after a wild run of success.
The Nationals should probably be the happiest of the bunch. Though if I were them, I’d be annoyed that our first World Series title in almost a century is being completely overshadowed by the Astros cheating scandal.
That leaves the White Sox.
Maybe a few other teams like the Reds are enjoyed heightened expectations after spending a few seasons as also-rans. But there’s no doubt the White Sox should be wearing the biggest smile in the league right now.
It’s somewhat strange territory, given that the lengthy malaise after the ‘05 title baked Bears-like pessimism into the DNA of every fan.
But it’s something that South Siders should still take a minute to step back and enjoy.
Just because no one else is happy doesn’t mean the Sox and their fans shouldn’t be.
Tom Ricketts showed up at Cubs camp and said a lot without saying anything (transcription here, if you’re into it). Kris Bryant said David Ross’ preseason speech made him want to “run through a wall.”
• The team announced that Hulu has signed on with the Marquee Network, which is scheduled to launch on Saturday. But for those of you who subscribe to Comcast, don’t hold your breath. Crane Kenney says it’s “difficult to imagine” an agreement in place with Comcast for the team’s spring training opener.
Small White Sox transaction: Venezuelan outfielder Gorkys Hernandez was signed to a minor-league deal. Don’t expect much. The 32-year-old hit .143 over 20 games with Boston last year.
Haven’t had much Bears news since our ‘stache became sentient, but the team just announced dates for rookie minicamps and OTAs. Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy are also scheduled to meet the media in Indianapolis on Feb. 25.
• Is the long wait finally over? Governor J.B. Pritzker expects legal sports betting to finally come online in time for March Madness. Though you should believe it when you see it. (US Bets)
• Dan Mihalopoulos on how Chicago’s Greek community has found a basketball hero in Giannis Antetokounmpo (WBEZ)
• Jon Greenberg on how John Paxson is destined to become the Bulls’ version of Kenny Williams if and when the front office reorg happens. (The Athletic)
• There’s rich and then there’s having two satellite/cable providers rich.
• Dave Melton on the Blackhawks keeping the future in mind as the deadline approaches. (Second City Hockey)
• The answer to this one is easy for me: Buongiorno, Giordano’s!
That it’s for today. Thank you for being a #frentofthenewsletter.