May 21, 2020

Oh yeah, the Bulls and Blackhawks

Good morning, frents …

Small world: Turns out the couple that helped Wrigley Field vendor Bill Griffin out in his final years are the aunt and uncle of one of my best friends from college. Also, the uncle went to Quigley South with my uncle in the ‘60s.  If you didn’t get time to read Dave Hoekstra’s excellent piece on Bill yesterday, take some time today.

The summer of hockey and basketball?

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been most eager for the return of baseball.

The Cubs and White Sox, after all, were about to embark on highly-anticipated seasons when the coronavirus hit. The Bulls and Blackhawks, meanwhile, were playing out the string on years that were likely to end without a playoff berth again.

Their seasons have seemed dead to me as this summer’s concert tours.

But as Wednesday showed, that’s not the case! As MLB’s owners and players wrangle over money, the NBA and NHL both leaked the outlines for their possible return plans.

So when are they coming back?

TBD. And there’s still a chance neither the Bulls or Blackhawks would be called upon if the leagues resume their seasons. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe reported that the NBA plans to issue guidelines to its teams around June 1 and that it could involve a quarantine period once the players are back in their team’s cities, a 2-3 week training camp and then games by the end of July.  What’s unknown: How many regular season games they’d play before playoffs and whether all 30 teams will be summoned for the resumption.

As for hockey, a 24-team playoff starting in July is gaining steam. And the Blackhawks would just sneak in under that scenario!

How would that work?

ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski reports the 24-team playoff would still be divided by conference and that the top four seeds in each would receive byes. Teams seeded five through 12 would play a five-game play-in series. If the matchups were determined by today’s standings, the 12th-seeded Hawks would face the fifth-seeded Oilers.

I’d be here for that, if only to see every other fanbase explode when the Hawks bounced Connor McDavid and crew.

Wait, isn’t the United Center filled with food and serving as a hub for COVID-relief?

It is. But the teams would likely be playing elsewhere anyway. The NBA is looking at Las Vegas and Orlando serving as their hub (Shams says Mickey is the clear frontrunner), while the NHL is looking at a four-city plan with 8-9 locations still being considered. (Thoughts and prayers for the facilities managers in charge of keeping good ice in the middle of summer.)

Will fans be allowed in?

You have a better chance of stagediving at Lolla this summer than seeing a live sporting event any time soon.

Does either league have a testing or safety plan?

They’re assuredly working on one, but nothing that’s been made public yet.

Is a return something we should want for the Bulls?

I’m ambivalent about the Bulls. We’re not in the position of Bucks or Lakers fans, where we need the season resumed so a good shot at a title isn’t wasted. The Bulls would be risking injury to their players while playing solely for television revenue and the chance for Arturas Karnisovas and Co. to see how their new charges operate up close.

The Bulls currently hold — stop me if you’ve heard this before — the seventh-best odds in the lottery so they could also move up or down there.

And the Hawks?

I’m somewhat more open to the Hawks, just because of the playoff element. I don’t want them trading in any lottery chances in for what could end up being just three games and out against the Oilers. (That’s assuming the lottery format changes to exclude anyone who makes the expanded playoffs.)

On the other hand, how fun would a fluke Hawks playoff run be just as the NFL is starting up and the Cubs and Sox are chasing playoff spots of their own?  You have to make a lot of presumptions before even thinking about something like that happening, but I’ve got nothing but time to presume these days.

What do you think? Do you want either the Bulls or Hawks back this season?

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The NFL is testing facemasks made of N95 and surgical mask material for the fall. (CBS Sports)

• The NCAA approved voluntary activities for football and men and women’s basketball starting June 1. Pete Thamel on what that looks like. (Yahoo Sports)

Khalil Mack made the top 10 of Pete Prisco’s top 100 NFL players list. Eddie Jackson and Allen Robinson made honorable mention. (CBS Sports)

Aaron Gleeman met a stranger in a parking lot to sell his beloved Michael Jordan rookie card. (The Athletic)

• Suns fan and #frentofthenewsletter Greg Esposito is raising his daughter in a split household and is trying to convince his daughter to like Charles Barkley over Michael Jordan. (Arizona Varsity)

That time John Kruk played on the White Sox for two months. I love this series from Jim Margalus. (Sox Machine)

Eater Chicago is running a list of restaurants that won’t be reopening. (Eater)

• Already ordered my #SilvyStrong Mason shirt, did you?

That’s it for today. Have a fantastic Thursday. As always, thank you for being a #frent of the newsletter!

Midway Minute grows through word of mouth. Have you told your frents?

Kevin Kaduk
Kevin Kaduk
Kevin is the founder of Midway Minute.

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