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Goooooooooood morning, frents!
Yep, had to throw a few extra o's in there this morning. After over six months of no real baseball, we are finally back ... in ... business.
And it feels great.
At best, it was a weird offseason on both sides of town. The Tony La Russa hiring was stressful. The Yu Darvish trade was puzzling. The biggest free-agent signings were a closer (Liam Hendriks for the Sox) and a high-power, low-average outfielder (Joc Pederson for the Cubs).
More recently, the Cubs fanbase has fretted over the lack of an extension for Anthony Rizzo while Soxdom has dealt with the extended loss of Eloy Jimenez and the absolute lack of a contingency plan.
But all of it takes a seat in the background today as both teams start with a fresh 0-0 slate, their best pitchers on the mound and 162 games (with fans in the stands!) in front of them.
The Cubs will get things started first with a chilly opener at Wrigley Field at 1:20 against the Pirates. (Pack a stocking hat if you're lucky enough to have tickets.) Kyle Hendricks gets his second-straight Opening Day start while Chad Kuhl goes for the Pirates. No official lineup announced yet, though someone did spy one on the Wrigley Field scoreboard yesterday. Whatever it ends up being, take a good long look because we all know a lot of names won't be around in next year's.
As for the Sox, it's going to be a loooooong wait (and day) for fans. First pitch isn't until 9 p.m. local time with the team out in Anaheim to play the Angels. Lucas Giolito (who else?) goes for the Sox while Dylan Bundy gets the ball for the Halos. La Russa's first lineup isn't out, but he already caused a stir by tipping a bit of his hand: Leury Garcia will start in left while Zack Collins serves as DH. Andrew Vaughn's first MLB start will have to wait until the season's second game.
Name the pitcher who started Opening Day for the Cubs in 1996, then did the same for the Sox in 1997 and 1998.
Suns 121, Bulls 116
Pirates at Cubs (1:20, Marquee)
Sox at Angels (9, NBCSCH)
Hurricanes at Hawks (7, NBCSCH)
George McCaskey opposed a 17th game: The Bears chairman was reportedly the only one of 32 owners to vote against adding a game to the NFL schedule. Maybe he just really likes preseason football? Or maybe he recognizes the extra toll it would take on players' health? Either way, sort of fascinating to see just one owner step out against the rest.
Final: Suns 121, Bulls 116
- This one was probably unavoidable with Zach LaVine, Coby White and Garrett Temple all out against the second-place team in the Western Conference. Still a bummer, though, as the Bulls dropped their fifth straight.
- Devin Booker scored a season-high 45 points while Nikola Vucevic led the Bulls with a 24-point, 10-rebound game.
- Next: The 19-27. Bulls get the best-in-the-West Jazz again in Utah on Friday night. The two teams met in Chicago last Monday with Utah taking a 25-point win. Wonderful.
- Now here's an alternate timeline for you: There was apparently a push in the Browns front office to take Mitchell Trubisky at No. 1. BearsWire
- The new-look Bulls got The Ringer treatment. The Ringer
- Vik Chokshi and Ashmere Prasad did a great interview with new Bears DC Sean Desai. South Asians In Sports
- How the Sox plan to use Zack Collins and Yermin Mercedes this season. NBC Sports Chicago
- Ever wonder what the most popular beers at Wrigley Field and Sox Park are? I asked the fine people at Untappd if they could give me the data (and they did). Midway Minute
Trivia answer: Jaime Navarro