Chicago Sports Thoughts: Bears and beyond...

It's a good time to be a sports fan in the city of Chicago.  The Blackhawks are back in the playoffs, the Bulls locked down the top seed in the East, the White Sox are off to a good start (2nd place), the Chicago Fire are sitting at 1-1-1, and the Cubs are only one game under .500.  Ok, that last one is a bit of a stretch, but they could have gotten off to a worse start, so Cubs fans should be ok with the 4-5 beginning.

1)  Yeah I know the Blackhawks backed into the playoffs, but it shouldn't matter.  They have the playoff experience to be a legit threat for the Stanley Cup.

2)  One key performer for Chicago will be making his playoff debut, and if goalie Corey Crawford plays like a youngster they could be in trouble.

3)  If Joakim Noah isn't right I think the Bulls should shut him down till the playoffs.  In his last 4 games, he's averaging 5.5 rebounds a game in just 23 minutes per.

4)  In yesterdays National broadcast of the Bulls game on ABC, Luol Deng was among three finalists for Hubie Brown's best defender for the season.  He didn't win, but it was good to see him getting some exposure, and it strengthens my prediction that Deng will be named to one of the All NBA Defensive teams.

5)  I heard a joke a year or so ago about Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija being nothing more than Kyle Farnsworth with a Notre Dame degree.  I think that gives Samardzija way to much credit.  Why is he in the big leagues?

6)  I was not expecting the Cubs to be receiving this kind of production from 2nd base.  Jeff Baker's hitting .421 in 19 at bats and Darwin Barney's hitting .333 in 18 at bats.

7)  I know it's still early, but the White Sox leading all of baseball with 62 runs scored is pretty impressive considering Adam Dunn has missed some time already and Alex Rios still isn't hitting his weight.

8)  If White Sox starting pitcher Edwin Jackson is going to live up to his potential the MLB will have to be put on notice.  His slider is sick.

9)  Lately there's been a lot of reports about the the Bears looking at defensive tackles for their 1st round draft choice, after all the initial talk was surrounding offensive line.  With the way teams like to send out false reports, it has me thinking the Bears will be going away from the trenches in round 1.

10)  If you didn't see the Jay Cutler story about his trip to Kenya (you should have as Dane posted it earlier today), I'll link it up again.  Locally he's been getting a lot of press lately about his charitable work, I wonder what the National take on him is?  Does he still have the unfair rap of being aloof and immature?  Here's a snippet from that Sun Times article from Sean Jensen:

Cutler is torn about his approach toward community relations. Fiercely private, he would prefer to donate his money and his time without fanfare or media coverage, as he did when he handed out Christmas gifts to patients at the University of Chicago Comer Children's Hospital in December.

But he also recognizes the importance of raising funds and awareness, particularly because he has the Jay Cutler Foundation, which is dedicated to underprivileged children and those suffering from diabetes.

‘‘I want to give back as much as possible,'' Cutler said. ‘‘I understand you want to bring as much publicity as possible; that's how you raise money. At the same time, you have to do it for the right reasons."

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