Gould Standard / All Quiet on the Midwestern Front: And That's Not a Bad Thing

Herb Gould

Cooler near the lake. . . Some thoughts on the Chicago sports scene during a very peaceful spring.

No Bulls or Blackhawks in the playoffs? No Bears' draft pick till the third round?

Reminds me of one of those old Army movies, where one G.I. peers out into the darkness and says, ``It’s too quiet out there.’’

Except that in this case, I don’t totally mind the serenity.

I admit it. I am a fair-weather NBA and NHL fan these days. Unless Chicago’s Bulls and Blackhawks are doing remarkable things, I hardly watch, except until the playoffs.

At playoff time, on the other hand, I am a pretty dedicated observer.

Here’s why. . . Playoff games have an intensity because every game means a step forward or backward. I don’t blame the guys for lacking that intensity when they’re playing endless regular-season games. If you’re fascinated enough to watch regular-season NBA/NHL ``action’’—I used to be—I’m happy for you. But I would rather watch our beloved college football and basketball games.

It’s all about the drama.

What that means in Chicago this spring, with neither the Bulls nor the Blackhawks ``advancing’’ to the post-season, is a calm stretch that affords us extra time.

Even the usual NFL Draft mania is tempered in the Windy City, owing to the fact that the Bears don’t draft until the third round: 87th overall. This is a product of acquiring Khalil Mack, which is a a deal every team should do every single time.

Heck, I’m even digging in on A Gentleman in Moscow. It’s off to a very sweet little start, but it meanders stylistically. Which is not easy for a guy whose mind meanders without any extra help.

Spoiler alert: If this gentleman in Moscow had any contact with—oh, never mind.

I will always pay attention to the Cubs, especially when they are this good. With no NBA or NHL, though, I even find myself looking in on the White Sox, who have stolen the perennial-rebuild mantle from the North Siders.

And yes, the Sox are making progress. But I’ll believe it when I see it.

Being a crusty old scribe, I said the same thing about the Cubs a few years ago.

Oh, and by the way, after their 1-6 start, the Cubs won 11 of 15 to get to 12-10 before losing to the Dodgers 2-1 on Thursday. And even that setback had a silver lining. Jon Lester returned from 16 days on the DL with a hamstring injury and looked sharp, allowing one run in five innings.

Lots of credit for the Cubs’ Lester-less surge should go to starters Cole Hamels, Jose Quintana and Kyle Hendricks. The Cubs’ rotation is looking very promising—even though Yu Darvish remains a project.

The Cubs’ hot stretch has even produced the notion that Joe Maddon could go from lame duck to free agent—and flirt with teams like the Phillies or the Giants after this season.

And so, with no NBA or NHL playoffs, and NBA draft, there are still things to speculate about on the shores of Lake Michigan.

They’re just calmer.

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Herb Gould

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