Three weeks later, I’m still riding the high of the Chicago Cubs’ World Series championship, but it’s been weird for me.
It used to be that the Cubs provided a nice diversion until football, hockey and basketball seasons came around.
It goes like this. Football begins, for real, in September, followed by hockey and basketball in October. Football ends in early February, but hockey and basketball continue into June. Baseball, however, has already begun in April and continues into late October/early November. By then, however, football has already kicked off. Thus, the year-round obsession with sports, much like the circle of life, continues.
This year threw me, however. I was so into the Cubs’ postseason run, I kind of neglected fall’s sports smorgasbord.
But as I make my way into the holiday season, I’m finding my fall focus is slowly returning.
On Thanksgiving, I watched my Minnesota Vikings lose to the upstart Detroit Lions, who now have what amounts to a 2-game NFC North lead as the season makes the turn toward the playoffs.
Given the NFC Wild Card situation, Minnesota doesn’t have much hope of making the postseason outside of winning the division, and that looks just as bleak.
This season, the Vikings have had to overcome serious injuries to their starting quarterback, running back and left and right offensive tackles, all of which landed them on injured reserve; cutting a usually great kicker with the yips
; and a disagreement that lead to the resignation of their offensive coordinator.
I don’t care if Vince Lombardi himself is coaching that team, he isn’t winning. The fact that they’re even in contention is unfathomable, which is a testament to the leadership of head coach Mike Zimmer.
Thankfully, for the day at least, I can focus on my other teams, as four are in action on Black Friday.
The games begin at 2:30 p.m. when my alma mater Iowa Hawkeyes take on the Nebraska Cornhuskers, who sit at No. 16 in the latest college football playoff rankings, at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City.
The Hawkeyes have had a rough season themselves, and it all started with a loss to FCS powerhouse North Dakota State in Week 3.
But they’ve since turned it around — somewhat — and are looking at a possible 8-4 overall record, with 6 of those wins coming against Big 10 foes.
It would be quite a coup for the Hawkeyes to finish their season on a three-game winning streak, including a last-second win over previously unbeaten Michigan, who remains in the hunt for one of the four playoff spots.
Starting at 3 p.m., I’ll be switching between the Hawkeyes and the Chicago Blackhawks, who are on their annual circus road trip as they take on the Anaheim Ducks.
Chicago has gotten off to a solid start, leading the Western Conference by three points over their arch-rival, the St. Louis Blues.
However, the Blackhawks received some bad news after their longtime captain, Jonathan Toews, went down awkwardly in their last game, a 2-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks.
It’s being called an upper-body injury and not terribly serious, but he is questionable to play today.
If he’s out for any length of time, it could be a huge blow to Chicago, even with the star power of Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and reigning rookie of the year Artemi Panarin, not to mention the exceptional goal-tending of Corey Crawford.
OK, so maybe it won’t be awful. There’s still quite an embarrassment of riches in that locker room.
But any time you lose your unquestioned leader and captain, especially one as elite as Toews, it’s certainly not good. Here’s hoping for a speedy recovery for No. 19.
As the Blackhawks game ends, my alma mater takes to the basketball court against the No. 7 Virginia Cavaliers at 6 p.m. in in the Emerald Coast Classic, a Thanksgiving holiday tournament in Niceville, Fla.
Honestly, after the showing against Seton Hall in a loss in Iowa City last week, I’m not too confident in the Hawkeyes’ chances against such a strong ACC opponent in the Cavaliers.
While Iowa sits at 3-1, the wins came over the likes of Kennesaw State, Savannah State and University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.
We’ll find out just how good they are with today’s tilt, along with upcoming contests against another ACC foe in Notre Dame in the annual ACC/Big 10 Challenge and the always tough in-state battles with Iowa State and the University of Northern Iowa.
A half-hour after Iowa tips off, my Chicago Bulls play the Philadelphia 76ers from the city of brotherly love.
After an off-season that featured the departures of once-steady franchise players in Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, the Bulls look like a different team with Rajon Rondo running the point and hometown kid Dwyane Wade joining Chicago after leaving Miami, where he spent his first 13 seasons and won three rings.
Also, with Rose now gone to New York, the debate over Chicago’s leader appears to be over as the Bulls are in the younger, more capable hands of Jimmy Butler, who is averaging 25.8 points per game thus far.
While the Bulls certainly aren’t championship contenders, see Cleveland and Golden State, they are sitting at 9-6 and look to be, at the very least, playoff contenders and entertaining to watch.
With all this action today, my butt has an all-day appointment with my recliner.
And, hopefully, these end better than the Thanksgiving Vikings debacle.
But even if they don’t, the Cubs won the World Series, and I’m still pretty happy about that.