Before we resume our annual obsession with all things Bears, Chicago must acknowledge how surprisingly sturdy the bridge was that connected the stretch of baseball between the end of the Blackhawks and the beginning of Bourbonnais.
The major league team on the North Side is on pace for another 95-loss season — 2-11 since trading pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel in the move that guaranteed a second half full of grimaces. And some Cubs fans already planning a 2015 amateur draft party shouted hurrah.
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Wrigley Field, 1060 West Addison Street, Chicago, IL 60613, USA
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The biggest Wrigleyville development in 2014 involved renovation of the Cubs' ballpark, not their roster. One day All-Stars Anthony Rizzo, who already has as many home runs (23) as he did in 2013, and Starlin Castro, who shouldn't be traded, deserve to play in September games that matter.
Whenever that is — 2016 isn't too much to ask — you wonder what effect all the Cubs' tactical losing will have on their psyches. If winning creates a culture that permeates an organization, so does the opposite, a reality Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer cannot ignore.
Meanwhile, the Sox boast a slightly more impressive record, 48-52, and a lively offense led by Jose Abreu that makes them watchable despite a bad bullpen. Caribbean beachgoers without sunscreen enjoy more protection than Sox leads.
While the Cubs make abundantly clear this season always was about next year and beyond, the Sox have spent 100 games flirting with respectability and the notion their present matters as much as the future. They can stop kidding themselves. It doesn't. The Sox have Chris Sale and a fun lineup but not one formidable enough to overtake the Tigers or Indians, due mostly to an unproven back of the rotation and an unreliable closer.
Tough as it is, Sox general manager Rick Hahn should adopt the same aggressive approach as his Cubs counterparts before the July 31 trade deadline. If aging pitcher Jake Peavy brought Avisail Garcia in return last year, what might All-Star shortstop Alexei Ramirez bring? Hahn is too smart not to ask.
Contenders such as the Giants and Yankees need a second baseman, a position the Sox have in surplus. Gordon Beckham, as likable as they come, surely offers those teams a viable veteran alternative. If only he would start hitting.
Front-runners always seek pitching, so Hahn owes it to everybody to gauge the market for John Danks. The hotter Alejandro De Aza hits, the better the chance he can help the Sox by leaving more than by staying. Dayan Viciedo, streaky as ever, defines the term expendable — especially with Garcia remarkably on pace to return next month. Adam Dunn's power perhaps could help a playoff team.
The Sox might not gain much in return for Dunn or others. But they have little to lose by dangling them for prospects who one day could form a team deep enough to win a division. That day isn't in 2014 for the Sox.
Or for the Cubs, whose long-range plan received an endorsement at the All-Star Game when Rays pitcher David Price called Chicago "the coolest city to win a championship in right now.'' The Cubs should take Price's bait by offering the Rays a package from the best farm system in baseball and using the money once earmarked for Masahiro Tanaka or Samardzija to lock up a 28-year-old, left-handed ace.
Every other remaining major decision by the Cubs involves minor leaguers. Oh, role players Darwin Barney and James Russell will draw interest, but unless somebody owes Epstein a favor and deals for Edwin Jackson, the Cubs probably are done with 60-point headline trades.
Javier Baez finally played second base at Iowa last week and should spend the rest of the season in the majors mastering the position. Similarly, Arismendy Alcantara proved he possesses the talent and intangibles to warrant a longer look in center field. That doesn't mean he will.
If it were all about ability, Kris Bryant would get 250 major league at-bats in the next 21/2 months or at least a September cameo, as agent Scott Boras suggested. Notice Boras never offered to remove concerns over Bryant's free-agent clock by sounding open to striking a long-term contract before his deal ends, as he did with clients Elvis Andrus and Jered Weaver.
Alas, expect Bryant to make Des Moines a destination for Cubs fans through Labor Day. The Cubs are more likely to recall hot-hitting Double-A outfielder Jorge Soler than Bryant this season — which experiences a scheduling quirk Tuesday and Wednesday. Both the Cubs and Sox are in town, a rare treat or torture depending on your perspective.
Consider yourself warned.