Chicago sports: A glance back at 2010s, transitioning into future


Nick Eyles, Executive Sports Editor

Anthony Rizzo, Jose Abreu, Derrick Rose, Patrick Kane and Matt Forte. Is nostalgia running through your veins yet? I know I can picture plenty of memories just by reading each of these names. 

In the last decade, the Cubs, White Sox, Bears, Blackhawks, and Bulls have all been through many ups and downs. 

However, the 2010s sports era was a time kids my age will most likely never forget. In the last several years, much has changed with each team, for better and for worse. There are many people around Chicagoland who still miss the players that have come and gone, but fans are looking forward to what’s ahead. 


Chicago Cubs

In 2016, over 40 million people around the world were watching something people hadn’t seen since 1945: the Cubs in the World Series. Chicago and Cleveland fans were on the edge of their seats. Fans around the MLB watched from home, with some kids staying up the latest they ever had. 

Then, the final pitch of the series: a squibber to third baseman Kris Bryant, who threw over to first base for the final out of the game. For the first time in 108 years, the Cubs won the World Series. 

Junior Charlie Knee, who was 10 years old at the time, believes it was one of the greatest sports series he has ever watched. 

“It’s the best World Series of all time; the end of the 108 year drought,” Knee said. “They were so good and always fun to watch. I think I watched every game.”

Like Knee, Cubs fans could not ignore the season their favorite team in baseball was having. There were so many memorable moments in the World Series alone. The 3-1 series comeback against the Cleveland Indians; Dexter Fowler’s leadoff home run in the first, Jason Heyward’s speech during the rain delay in game seven, Addison Russell’s game six grand slam, Ben Zobrist’s go-ahead hit to score a run in the 10th inning of game seven, and of course the final out. It was an emotional rollercoaster throughout their entire playoff run. 

“It was just fun,” Knee said. “It was a fun team. You could tell they all just had fun and they were winning every game.”

In 2017, the Cubs went 92-70 and made it all the way to the NLCS, but lost to the Dodgers in five games. In the following years, they never made it past the Wild Card game. 

After little success achieved since the historic year, fans feared that the Cubs would let go of multiple childhood heroes for millions of kids around Chicago. Then in the 2021-2022 season, Rizzo, Bryant, and shortstop Javier Baez were all traded. Just like that, the heartwarming memories of their spectacular play in Chicago became a mourning thought for many fans in the following weeks. 

Knee said it hurt to see them walk and put on a new uniform, especially after watching them play together for so many years. 

As the week went on though, he came to understand why the organization made its decision. Knee stated that the team was smart to move on from the past if they wanted to achieve anything more than a Wild Card win in the future. 

Now in the 2023 season, things are looking bright again for the Cubs. Over the past offseason, the team brought in shortstop Dansby Swanson, outfielder Cody Bellinger, and many other players who bring great offense and defense from free agency. Many Northsiders are excited to fill the bleachers again this summer, with higher expectations as the season goes on.  

“I think they’re good, they have impressed me so far,” Knee said. “I think Cody Bellinger is back, and Dansby Swanson is having a great year. I think they will make the playoffs this year.”

Realistically, the Cubs should just get over 82 wins this season. With the amount of money they spent in free agency, it should bolster up the batting rotation. Not to mention Dansby Swanson and Ian Happ are golden glovers, so the Northsiders should be a top defense this season. 

The Cubs currently sit third in their division with the record of 19-23. 


Chicago White Sox

Unfortunately for the Cubs cross-town rival, the 2010s was not a friendly decade for the southside. The White Sox topped the .500 mark twice, only in 2010 and 2012. Although most fans want those years to be forgotten, there were many bright and memorable moments. 

One of, if not the best, game the White Sox had was in 2012 during Philip Humber’s second start of the season. The right-hander threw a perfect game against the Seattle Mariners, striking out nine batters. He is one of three Sox to ever throw a perfect game. 

Jose Abreu made history when he set the single-season franchise record with the most rookie home runs in a season (36). His most electric home run came against the Rays in 2014, with a walk-off grand slam to win the game. It was one of ten home runs Abreu hit in April. 

In recent years, the White Sox finally made it to the postseason in 2021, winning their division with the record of 93-69. 

In the same season, the White Sox participated in one of the most fascinating games ever, The Field of Dreams game against the New York Yankees. The game was a thriller leading all the way up to the ninth inning, where Shortstop Tim Anderson hit a two-run homer to right for the 9-8 win. Junior and White Sox fan Brian Canteri looked back at one of the coolest baseball games in recent years. 

“I think that was one of the best baseball games I’ve ever watched,” Canteri said. “The whole night was special, especially when Tim Anderson hit that bomb into the corn in the ninth.”

This season has had a slow start for the Sox. Losing 10 in a row set a new low for the fan base. It was hard to watch for Canteri. 

“The hitting is just nowhere to be found, it’s been really tough to watch,” Canteri said. 

He’s not wrong; in the last thirty days as of May 9, the Sox batting average ranked twelfth (.221), and second to last in on-base percentage (.291), SLG (.368) and OPS (.659) in the American League. 

Currently, the White Sox have been struggling, sitting fourth in their division with a record of 15-28. 

Despite their poor record, the White Sox did have a pretty tough schedule in April. Their last three series were against Tampa Bay (32-11), Toronto (24-18), and Tampa Bay again. The -39 point differential during that period showed their offense was struggling. 

Even though it’s early in the season, the Sox only have a 6% chance to make the playoffs. If their team can somehow get back to 100% health, with better hitting and pitching, they can make a better run to get back on track this season. However, by the end of this year, their playoff chances will most likely be shut down due to how competitive the AL is this year. Expect them to win around 73 games. 


Chicago Bulls

One of the biggest “what ifs?” in sports history questions what would have happened to the Chicago Bulls if Derrick Rose never got hurt. 

Rose was one of the most electric players before he suffered a grueling ACL tear in a playoff game against the Philadelphia 76ers in 2012. Even after, he still suffered more serious injuries that kept him away from 257 total games during his time in his home city. Senior Anthony Landsnes was hoping for another grasp at a Finals appearance in 2015.

“I think we would have won an NBA championship,” Landsnes said. “I think we had a really good team, especially when [Rose] got injured.” 

In the same year Rose tore his ACL, rookie Jimmy Butler got his first taste of the NBA playoffs. Though his rookie season wasn’t very memorable due to lack of minutes played, Butler quickly established himself as a reliable scorer three seasons later, averaging 20.0 PPG. 

Going into 2017, a three-time All Star with splits of 23.9 PPG/6.2 REB/5.5 AST, Butler has just come off his most impactful season yet. 

After that season, the Minnesota Timberwolves made a stunning move and traded for Butler and the 16th overall pick, which sent Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn, and the seventh pick of the 2018 draft to Chicago. LaVine, who was a rising star with flashy dunk packages, must have looked intriguing to the front office. 

“I think that trade was a good idea because I think LaVine at the time was looking like a more promising player than Jimmy,” Landsnes said. “Even to this day I think LaVine is better.” 

In the 2022-2023 season, the Bulls made it to the Play-In, won a game, but lost to the Miami Heat and missed the playoffs. Throughout the season, the Bulls struggled to get over the .500 mark and finished the season with a disappointing record of 40-42. 

Lonzo Ball’s absence has been a frustrating one. When he did play for Chicago last season, his playmaking elevated everyone’s game as he led the Bulls in assists per game (5.1). 

This offseason, the front office has many tough decisions to make. There are nine total Bulls players that will hit NBA free agency this summer, including starting center Nikola Vucevic, who finished top six in rebounding (11.0 per game). 

Shooting Guard Zach LaVine took a lot of heat from fans this season as well. Coming off a $215-million five-year max contract extension LaVine shot his worst from three-point territory in the past three years (36.9%). There was much speculation he was mentioned in trade talks as well. At the same time, LaVine was just coming off left knee surgery, which manipulated some of his game. 

However, in his last 22 games of the season, he improved tremendously. LaVine had 27 PPG, 3.5 REB and 4.7 AST up to the end of the regular season. He shot 53.2% from the field. 

“I still think [the max contract] was worth it,” Landsnes said. “Other people would disagree with me, but I think [LaVine] is a great player. I think he’s going to improve. Everyone forgot he came off an injury.” 

There are many ways the Bulls could go this offseason. Whether the front office decides to rebuild or re-tool, they will be gambling with the state of their future. Most indications say they will continue to build around LaVine and DeRozan. As for Vucevic, Chicago may have no choice but to re-sign him based on their lookout for a valuable backup center. Ball’s contract also adds to some decision-making as well, as his trade value is declining due to his injury. 


Chicago Blackhawks

The one “dynasty” Chicago kids my age grew up with was the Blackhawks winning three Stanley Cups in 2010, 2013, and 2015. It was a thrilling ride with many special players who each had their special moments throughout their run. The core of the team included Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Corey Crawford, and Duncan Keith. 

When junior Aidan Lewis first started hockey, watching the Blackhawks helped him grow as a better player. 

“[My favorite player was] Duncan Keith because I was a defenseman when I played, and that’s who I modeled my game after,” Lewis said.

Since their last championship in 2015, the Hawks have only been back to the playoffs three times in the last eight years. They haven’t gotten over the 40-win mark in the past six seasons. Corey Crawford and Brent Seabrook retired from the sport in that span as well. 

In response to the last five seasons, the front office decided to start a major rebuild, letting go of veterans in hopes of bringing in talented prospects. The changes were emotional for players and fans, since the core of the team had been together for a long time. This past season, the Hawks traded Patrick Kane to the Rangers, and will let Toews walk in free agency. 

Lewis feels bitter-sweet about  Chicago trading away one of his favorite players. 

“I’m sad but also happy about it because he’ll get another opportunity to win a cup,” Lewis said. “He couldn’t do it on this team because he had no one he could play with since no one was on his level.” 

Shocking results came in from the NHL Draft Lottery on May 8 when the Blackhawks won the first overall pick, or more recently known as the Connor Bedard sweepstakes. Chicago had the third-highest odds to get the first pick, behind Anaheim (25.5%) and Columbus (13.5%). 

Social media was buzzing; fans around the league were all surprised about the results. It was a night of jealousy for every other team in the lottery. Meanwhile, Chicagoans are thrilled about most likely seeing Bedard in the red, white, and black. 

“I’m very excited,” Lewis said. “We got lucky and I can’t wait to see him play. Who knows, maybe this will bring Kane back?”

17 year old Bedard is considered to be a generational talent by most hockey experts. Many claim he could potentially be the best franchise player to build off of since Connor McDavid was drafted by the Edmonton Oilers in 2015. 

Bedard’s popularity grew at the 2023 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship. He set multiple records including career goals (17) and points (36) by a Canadian player. 

The draft is set to take place in Montreal on June 7-8. And with the way things are going now, the Blackhawks look like they are in a great place for another shot at a potential dynasty. 


Chicago Bears

The last decade has been tough for Bears fans to take in. Sure, the closest they have gotten to a Super Bowl was in 2010, but that was 13 years ago. The 2010-11 season had the Bears go 11-5. Their team was led by HC Lovie Smith, QB Jay Cutler, and RB Matt Forte. 

And yes, 2018 looked so promising. The offense looked good enough to contend, led by QB Mitch Trubisky, HC Matt Nagy, Tarik Cohen, and Allen Robinson. 

However, what made the team special was the defense. They were gritty, tough, and intimidating. Led by Khalil Mack, the “Monsters of the Midway” were always hungry for the ball. Their most impressive defensive rankings were placing first in points against (283), forced turnovers (36), and touchdowns allowed (5). 

It was always fascinating to watch how aggressive their defense really was. Four representatives on the defensive end were named in the 2018 NFL Pro Bowl. Mack (12.5 sacks; 6 forced fumbles), Akeem Hicks (7.5 sacks), and ball-hawks Eddie Jackson (6 INT) and Kyle Fuller (7 INT) all went to Orlando that season. 

For the first time since 2011, the Bears were winning. The city was on the team’s back the entire year, with a 100.5% home attendance rate. With the city riding high after the 24-17 win over the Packers to clinch the NFC North, the Bears were headed and hoping to make a deep run in the playoffs. 

Until Cody Parkey happened. 

January 6, 2019 was a day that will rot Chicagoans’ hearts forever. The infamous Parkey double-doink in the final seconds of the NFC Wild Card game vs the Philadelphia Eagles deflated all of the happiness Chicago football fans had for so little time. The Bears lost the game 16-15, which eliminated them from further contention. 

After this game, the energy from both sides of the ball never felt the same since. And in 2022, the franchise fired Nagy and GM Ryan Pace. 

Fast forwarding to this season, the Bears have been aggressive in free agency under new GM Ryan Poles. They made the biggest trade of the year already, sending the first overall pick to Carolina in exchange for DJ Moore, two first-round picks, and two second-rounders in 2023 and 2025. They have also made huge additions to the defense, signing linebackers Tremaine Edmunds and TJ Warren. 

For the first time in seemingly forever, the Bears are making the right moves. Junior and Prospect football offensive lineman Aaron Murray has had positive thoughts going into this season, and is happy with the way the offseason has turned out. 

“I would give them a B+,” Murray said. “I like that they got guys like Tremaine Edmunds and TJ Edwards. They really tried to bolster up the defensive end, even though it could still use some work.”

There is no question that all eyes will be on QB Justin Fields this next season. This past year, he ran through the league with 1,143 rushing yards in 15 games. The biggest thing he needs to work on is his passing, where he ranked 24th in passing yards (2,242) and 22nd in interceptions (11) with 17 total touchdown passes. His ball security also needs some improvement as he had nine fumbles. 

It will definitely be a huge test for him to take his next step into becoming the quarterback Chicago wants and needs. 

“It all depends on whether Justin Fields excels as a passer,” Murray said. “If he does, his team could dominate the division for the next few years.

Timeline: Most notable Chicago sports moments in the 2010s