Archive for December, 2008

robbie-gould-bears-packers

A few random observations before we get to an expanded edition of this week’s football picks:

  1. The Bears Are Horrible… and the NFC is Even Worse – There was no logical reason for the Bears to have beaten the Packers this past Monday night.  They played as if though they were ready to pack it in for the season as opposed to fighting to keep alive in the playoff race.  Only the Bears have the ability to make me feel like I just drank some paint even while winning football games.  The only saving grace is that the NFC is so horrific (trading the Big 12 South straight up for the NFC West would have made for a much more competitive year) that this mediocre team could still actually host a playoff game if the right things fall into place.
  2. The Illini Basketball Team Actually Has Some Life… and So Does the Rest of the Big Ten – Hope is a dangerous drug.  As I’ve stated in some prior posts, I was more than willing to scrap this current Illinois basketball season as a complete rebuilding project with an aim toward giving Alex Legion ample playing time.  After absolutely crushing Missouri in the Braggin’ Rights Game on Tuesday night, though, the Illini seem to be looking to get back to the NCAA Tournament a year ahead of schedule.  One of these years, Illinois will beat Mizzou in football and then Mizzou will beat Illinois in basketball, upon which I will cardon myself in the basement with a plethora of perishable goods to prepare for the impending destruction of the world.
  3. Bulls Are the Ultimate .500 Team – Has there been a team in recent memory that have hung around the .500 mark with such consistency as this year’s Bulls?  I’m pretty sure they’ve attempted to get to .500 every single time that I’ve watched one of their games this season.  They’re like a baksetball version of an Escher painting.
  4. For the Love of God, Stop Fellating the Celtics – On the complete opposite side of mediocrity, I know that the ESPN criticism in the blogosophere can often be over the top at times, but how many fucking years in a row do they need to put up a fucking daily game-by-game comparison of a hot NBA team’s record versus the 1996 Bulls (and said hot NBA team flames out by the middle of January at the very latest)?  Well, the tizzy around the Celtics’ recent 19-game winning streak has been almost as ridiculous as the inclusion of the 2005 USC Trojans in the infamous “greatest college football team ever” bracket prior to that season’s national championship game (who subsequently lost to Texas).  When an NBA team only has 5 losses at the All-Star Break, then we can start talking about whether a team might beat the Bulls’ single-season record.  If it’s only a month-and-a-half into the season, though, just simmer down and shut the fuck up.  I cannot tell you how much I hate these premature crownings of teams.  Let me move on before I throw my laptop across the room…

On that happy holiday note, let’s get to a super-sized edition of the football picks (home teams in CAPS where applicable):

NFL FOOTBALL PARLAY

  • PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (-1) over Dallas Cowboys – In relatively quiet fashion, the Iggles have been as consistent as anyone in the NFC since Donovan McNabb learned about ties in the NFL.
  • Miami Dolphins (+3) over NEW YORK JETS – I’ll admit that all I want to see if Chad Pennington to come in and stuff the team that turned on him so that they could whore themselves for Brett Favre.
  • Chicago Bears (+3) over HOUSTON TEXANS – The bookmakers know that the Bears are horrible, which is how a listless Texans team could be favorites over a club that is still fighting for a legit shot at the playoffs.  Yet, I still think that the Bears will pull this out for a restless Chicago fan base.  Let’s hope that the Giants play their starters long enough (if at all) to do some damage to the Vikings at the same time.

Frank the Tank’s NFL Football Parlay Record
Last Week: 1-2

Bears Games for the Season: 3-9-1
Overall Season: 19-20-3

NEW YEAR’S DAY NON-BCS BOWL PARLAY

  • Outback Bowl:  South Carolina Gamecocks (+3.5) over Iowa Hawkeyes – Can I really trust an Iowa team that lost to the Illini to actually cover against a Steve Spurrier-led team in Tampa? NFW.
  • Gator Bowl:  Nebraska Cornhuskers (+3) over Clemson Tigers – The only team that I trust less than Iowa is Clemson.
  • Capital One Bowl:  Michigan State Spartans (+7.5) over Georgia Bulldogs – I truly don’t understand this Georgia team, which was bandied around as one of a handful of national championship contenders at the beginning of the year.  On paper, UGA should be crushing State, but the Big Ten has a pretty good track record against supposedly superior SEC teams in Orlando.  I’ll take the points for Sparty here.

BCS BOWL PICKS

  • Rose Bowl:  Penn State Nittany Lions (+9) over USC Trojans – Chicago has alternately seen temperatures close to zero degrees, traffic debiliating snowfall once the temperature rises into the teens, and then zero-visibility fog as the temperature creeps above freezing over the past THREE days.  This type of setting has made the dark hole of no Pasadena trip to look forward to for the Illini (and me) even more depressing.  I always have an extremely hard time watching a major sports event the year after my favorite team has played in it (i.e. 2006 NCAA Final Four, 2006 World Series, last year’s Super Bowl) and this Rose Bowl will be no exception, particularly with the Illini failing to make any type of bowl at all.  The only thing that warms my heart here is that the Big Ten has its best shot to knock off those USC bastards yet.  Unlike Ohio State earlier this year, the Illini last season, and Michigan two years ago, JoePa’s current squad is anything but a stereotypical plodding Big Ten team – Penn State has as much speed as anyone in the country.  The spread is way too large here with the Nitanny Lions at full strength.
  • Orange Bowl:  Virginia Tech (+2.5) over Cincinnati Bearcats – I’d stay the hell away from this game in the sportsbook in real life.  In theory, Cincy should be much more motivated to be here, particularly since Virginia Tech was just in the Orange Bowl last season.  I’ll go with the established power here, though, only because the Hokies still have an abundance of talent to the point that I’m fairly surprised that they are more than a 1-point underdog.
  • Sugar Bowl:  Alabama Crimson Tide (-10) over Utah Utes – As much as I’d love to see Utah draw blood against the team that was #1 for most of the season, ‘Bama is way beyond the draws that the ’04 Utes and ’06 Boise State respectively received with Pitt and Oklahoma in their Fiesta Bowl non-BCS conference upsets.
  • Fiesta Bowl:  Ohio State Buckeyes (+8.5) over Texas Longhorns – Much like the Rose Bowl spread, there are way too many points to pass up taking here.  Plus, am I the only one in America that didn’t find a single thing wrong with how the Big 12 determined its tie-breaker at the division level?  Oklahoma, Texas, and Texas Tech were all tied for first place in the Big 12 South division with 1 win and 1 loss in head-to-head competition against each other.  It seems to me that having the BCS standings is the next logical tie-breaker (with “logical” being an extremely convulated term in the world of college football) since any conference would want to elevate a team that would have the best chance of getting to the national championship game.  While Texas beat Oklahoma head-to-head, the Longhorns didn’t have any more claim to get a spot in the Big 12 Championship Game than Texas Tech, who beat Texas head-to-head.  I have no clue why there was such a national uproar over a tie-breaking procedure that seemed to actually make a lot of sense considering how the national championship match-up is determined today.  Anyway, the point is that Texas seems to be acting like the ’06 Michigan Wolverines that complained mightily that they didn’t get a re-match with their fiercest rival in Ohio State in the national championship game and then got crushed by a very talented USC team in the Rose Bowl.  I have a strong feeling that Texas is going to put up a massive dud here, too, since Ohio State is anything but a pushover when Beanie Wells is on the field.
  • BCS National Championship Game:  Florida Gators (-3) over Oklahoma Sooners – No one should forget that Florida is going to be playing a virtual home game in Miami in the same manner that LSU had the home field advantage in last year’s national championship game in New Orleans.  At the same time, for all of the national bashing of Ohio State for its high profile stumbles over the past two seasons, they have made it to BCS bowls 6 out of the last 7 seasons (including this year) with 3 victories that includes a national championship (the only two losses coming in the last 2 national championship games).  There isn’t another program other than USC that would trade places with the Buckeyes with that type of record.  Meanwhile, in the last four BCS bowls for Oklahoma, the Sooners were crushed by West Virginia (who was reeling after having just lost its head coach to Michigan) by 20 points in last year’s Fiesta Bowl, was on the wrong end of the classic upset by Boise State in the 2006 Fiesta Bowl, got blown out by USC by 36 points in the 2004 Orange Bowl for the national championship (one of the most horrific performances that I’ve ever seen considering the stakes), and was beaten by LSU in the 2003 Sugar Bowl for the national championship.  Jim Tressel looks like Mozart to Bob Stoops’ Salieri when it comes to BCS bowl performances.

Frank the Tank’s College Football Parlay Record
Last Week: 1-2

Illini Games for the Season: 5-6
Overall Season: 19-22-1

Enjoy the games and Happy New Year!

(Image from Washington Post)

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london-house-of-parliament-big-ben

I apologize for the brief hiatus since I had to travel to London for work last week.  While this might sound glamorous on paper (and certainly compared to my first job out of law school where I was sent to exotic locales such as Danville and Flint, it’s a significant step-up), I didn’t have time to do any sort of sightseeing because I was working over 13 hours a day (which would have killed me if it wasn’t for the fact that I had visited all of the major touristy items in London on a previous occasion).  Of course, the one thing about much of Europe is that they pay as much attention to American news as their own news, which is root of their insistence that we aren’t worldly since we don’t reciprocate.  The fantastic Rod Blagojevich story was front-page news in the London tabloids and at the top of the hour on the BBC all week long with the tie to Barack Obama’s Senate seat (everyone over there LOVES our President-elect, if you hadn’t figured that out already – he’s seriously just behind The Beatles in the U.K. exultation power rankings).  Also, thanks to Sky Sports 2 (the Deuce!), I was able to watch the start of the Bears-Saints game at 1 a.m.London time last Thursday evening/Friday morning (Minneapolis Red Sox aptly pointed out that the British have greater access to NFL Network games than Americans) prior to falling asleep.  Interestingly enough, former Bear Shaun Gayle provides studio commentary for NFL games in the U.K. – apparently, there is enough of a cult following for American football (along with the presence of ex-pats) over there that the NFL gets pretty good coverage.  (It’s better than, say, coverage of the English Premier League over here.  Speaking of which, my only disappointment from the trip was that my work schedule prevented me from seeing Chelsea play a Champions League game in the middle of the week, knowing full well that Chelsea fans brought soccer hooliganism to new heights during the 1980s.)  As far as British television was concerned, it felt as if though I never left Chicago.

Anyway, I fell asleep in the middle of the second quarter of the Bears game and when I woke up the next morning, I got to embark on a parents-from-Home-Alone-esque path to get home to Chicago.  When I arrived at the airport, I found out that my Virgin Atlantic flight from Heathrow to O’Hare was canceled due to “technical problems” (AKA the company wanted to consolidate a couple of less-than-full trans-Atlantic flights to save some money), which meant that I would need to have a stop-over in the Seventh Airport Gateway to Hell (AKA Dulles Airport outside of Washington, DC, which is not to be confused with the Airport Taxi Line to Hell at Las Vegas International) to transfer to a United flight to Chicago.  (Note that while I’m a cost-conscious consumer in general, I will ALWAYS pay for a direct flight when it’s my own money- I don’t have any tolerance for that transfer bullshit.  When it’s a company-paid flight on an expense account, as in this case, a direct flight is my God-given fucking right.  My indignation at Virgin Atlantic’s callousness in trying to tell me that having a transfer would “only” result in me getting home a couple of hours later than expected was only tempered by the fact that any rash action would likely be characterized as an “international incident”.)  At that point, I was in “whatever” mode and simply relieved that I wouldn’t be stranded overseas.

After having a pretty productive flight from a personal enrichment perspective (I finished up Malcolm Gladwell’s new book “Outliers”, who also currently has a great piece in the New Yorker comparing the difficulties in evaluating who will become successful NFL quarterbacks and schoolteachers, and watched both “Wall-E” and “Tropic Thunder” for the first time – all are highly recommended), I arrived at the Seventh Airport Gateway to Hell.  Since I was coming off of an international flight, I got to go through the glorious process of having to sit in line at customs, exit the secured area, pick up my luggage, check-in to my connecting flight and drop off my luggage, and then enter through the security checkpoint again.  Luckily, I had a whole twenty minutes to do all of this before my flight back to Chicago left.  As I sprinted across the corridors of the Seventh Airport Gateway to Hell and got to the front of the security line, the lovely TSA guard (AKA a Jawa without a brown robe) informed me with almost a certain sense of glee that my flight had been selected for provisional screening.  So, as my connecting flight was making a last call for boarding, I got to be pulled off to the side to patted down and have my bags thoroughly checked.  (I very politely informed another TSA guard who was a complete dead-ringer for Scott Van Pelt that I completely understood that this was a “necessary procedure” and just wanted him to be aware that my flight was about to leave.  He checked my ticket and responded, “Oooh.  I guess you’re right.  I guess we’ll try our best to do this quickly so that you can possibly make your flight.”  Mr. Van Pelt then proceeded to sit down in his chair for another five minutes before he realized that there were no other guards available and finally decided to start checking my bags.  My indignation was only tempered by the fact that any rash action would likely be characterized as a “domestic incident”.)  After finally getting through security, I would have run to my terminal, but the Seventh Airport Gateway to Hell is set up where you need to take a “bus” (AKA double-wide with a couple of wheels attached) between terminals.  Fortunately, I was able to jump onto a double-wide as it was leaving.  As you can see, this traveling day to end all traveling days, so it figured that when I finally arrived to Terminal D, I realized that my gate was the VERY LAST FUCKING ONE AT THE END – and this was a LONG FUCKING TERMINAL.  I did my best Usain Bolt impression while weighed down by a full laptop bag and literally ran as fast I could to reach my gate.  Amazingly, the plane was still there and I was able to get on.  Unfortunately, a number of my passenger-mates from London didn’t make it and, to my knowledge, no one has heard from them again.

In the only smooth part of the day (and at which point, I was pushing close to being awake for 24 hours straight), my flight from the Seventh Airport Gateway to Hell to O’Hare landed almost 45 minutes early.  The traveling gods had to throw in one last “we’re completely fucking with you today”, though, as I gave all of that early landing time back and then some waiting for my luggage to arrive… which never came.  It was, of course, still sitting at the Seventh Airport Gateway to Hell along with everyone else’s luggage from the original London flight.  At that point, it was just meant to be.  I got back to my house over 8 hours after I was scheduled to get home (with my luggage arriving the next morning).

The moral of the story: take a boat the next time that you go to England.

Thank you all for allowing me to vent – here are this week’s picks (home teams in CAPS where applicable):

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PARLAY

(1) EagleBank Bowl:  Navy Midshipmen (+3) over Wake Forest Demon Demons

(2) Las Vegas Bowl:  BYU Cougars (+3) over Arizona Wildcats

(3) Hawaii Bowl:   Notre Dame Fighting Irish (-1.5) over Hawaii Warriors

Frank the Tank’s College Football Parlay Record
Last Week: 1-2

Illini Games for the Season: 5-6
Overall Season: 19-22-1

NFL FOOTBALL PARLAY

(1) Atlanta Falcons (+3.5) over MINNESOTA VIKINGS

(2) Carolina Panthers (+3) over NEW YORK GIANTS

(3) CHICAGO BEARS (-4) over Green Bay Packers

Frank the Tank’s NFL Football Parlay Record
Last Week: 1-2

Bears Games for the Season: 3-8-1
Overall Season: 18-18-3

Alright, so the NFL picks this week just happen to align with exactly what the Bears need in order to keep their playoff hopes alive.  It honestly wasn’t planned that way – I just thought they were pretty reasonable spreads.  (In the case of the Panthers-Giants game, if the Giants lose, then they would go into Minnesota in Week 17 needing to win just get any type of home game in playoffs, but if they win this week, then they lock up home-field advantage throughout the playoffs and likely would sit everyone against the Vikings.  As a result, Bears fans need to root for Carolina all the way this weekend.)

Also, it’s very unfortunate that I won’t be able to spend the day after Christmas checking out the Illini in the Motor City Bowl (instead, it’s a whopper of a game with Central Michigan vs. Florida Atlantic).  Still, there’s a return of a holiday tradition that used to rank right up there with the Lions ruining the Thanksgivings of everyone in Detroit:  Bulls basketball!  That’s right – it’s a Rose vs. Beasley matchup next Friday night.  It makes me reminisce of the golden days around Christmas:

I can’t help you if you’re not pumped up after watching that.  My BCS bowl and NFL week 17 picks) will come at some point next week.  Merry Christmas, everyone!

(Image from Study Languages)

big-three-automakers-detroit

As the economy turns, Detroit auto executives are back on Capitol Hill arguing their case for a bailout of their companies.  While Congressional leaders have developed a nasty habit of putting on ridiculous publicized corporate CEO scalpings to feed to the rabid proletariat which really don’t address the actual economic issues at hand (such as the over-the-top uproar about the fact that the auto executives took private jets to Washington last month – I understand it wasn’t the greatest move from a PR standpoint, but the problems in Detroit have very little to do with the existence of corporate airplanes), it will hopefully result in absolutely no bailout for the automobile industry.

We can take up an entire business book aisle at Barnes & Noble about the reasons why a bailout would do nothing to change the fundamental business issues, but I’ll just address a handful of them.  At the top of the list, the auto industry’s issues were not caused by the current credit crunch – the problems with credit have only exacerbated items that the Big Three automakers have failed to change for nearly four decades.  Simply put, Congress propping up the American auto industry isn’t going to get people to want to buy American cars.  My wife and I own a Toyota and a Mercedes-Benz, and I have to say that the performance improvement of those cars over the GM and Chysler cars that we used to own have made the likelihood of us ever buying an American car again essentially zero.  I know plenty of people that would say the exact same thing (and these aren’t Lincoln Park chads and trixies or Naperville yuppies – I’m talking about blue collar people who would have always bought Chevys and Fords back in the day).  The combination of mileage, maintenance, and performance of the Japanese and German cars since the 1970s have vastly surpassed their American counterparts.  For far too long, the Big Three automakers have relied on guilting Americans into thinking that they have some type of patriotic duty to buy their cars (even though Toyota and Honda are actually the car companies that are expanding production in the United States as opposed to the Big Three) instead of improving their product.  While Detroit has attempted to catch up to the Japanese and German automakers in quality over the past few years, it’s a classic case of “too little, too late”.  The decades of neglect have made a close to irreversible dent in the perception of the Big Three where it is directly reflected in their resale values.  Outside of UAW enclaves in Michigan and Ohio, people are pretty rational consumers of cars overall, particularly when it comes to the second-most expensive household purchase after a house (or the most expensive purchase for those who rent).  If a Toyota sedan is about the same price as a Chevy sedan, but the Chevy depreciates in value 2-3 times faster than the Toyota, then more people are going to move toward the product that is going to keep its value longer (much less get a couple hundred thousand miles of low maintenance use out of that product).  The current poor economic conditions have heightened these problems but they aren’t the root cause of them, which is why government assistance would merely put off the inevitable for the auto industry.  If the Big Three couldn’t get their act together over the course of four decades, then I have absolutely no faith that they would be able to change a thing over the course of a three month bridge loan.

A common argument among supporters of the auto bailout is that Congress has already done the same for the financial industry.  This is certainly a fair argument as the government has now gone down the dangerous path of judging which companies are deemed “too big to fail”.  However, there are some key differences between the banks and the automakers.  The broad issue with the financial industry is that each major bank has literally millions of transactions with the other major banks such that the flow of money in both this country and around the world is closely intertwined (whether this is right or wrong is a discussion for another day).  Thus, the failure of a single major bank could endanger the liquidity of healthy (or at least stable) banks that are on the other ends of those transactions.  It then becomes a vicious circle, where each bank whose balance sheet is suddenly thrown up in the air then causes the balance sheets of many other banks to suffer, as well.  This leads to both consumers losing confidence in those banks by withdrawing their deposits and banks then stopping the flow of credit since they don’t have any liquidity.  As a result, entities ranging from individuals looking for credit cards and huge corporations searching for business loans can’t find any credit, causing overall spending and investment in the economy to grind to nearly a complete halt.  Indeed, if the federal government could change one thing over the past couple of months, it would not have allowed Lehman Brothers to fail since their filing for bankruptcy started this circular financial drain almost immediately.  At the end of the day, the American economy is driven by the flow of credit, so the financial industry was indeed “too big to fail” in this case since the repercussions went far beyond those wealthy Wall Street bankers and lawyers.  It has always driven me nuts when the media intimated that there was some type of line of demarcation between “Wall Street” and “Main Street” as if they had conflicting interests.  The fact of the matter is that Main Street can’t function from a financial perspective, whether it’s using your credit card to buy groceries, getting a student loan to go to school, or obtaining a mortgage to buy a house, without a healthy Wall Street.

As large as the auto industry might be in this country, it doesn’t have the same impact on every single person in the United States in the same manner as the financial industry.  This isn’t to ignore the impact of auto industry on millions of people that either work for the Big Three or are peripherally impacted as suppliers and providers of support services.  That being said, the UAW leaders need to understand that it’s no longer about what higher-than-market wages their locals are able to maintain – it’s now about whether their union members are going to have any jobs at all in the next few months.  Until both executive and union leaders come together to figure out how to trim costs, come up with better products, and have wage and production flexibility that is up to speed in the information age as opposed to the industrial age, any government assistance to the auto industry would simply be throwing money away.  Filing for bankruptcy is actually one of the best ways for force all of those stakeholders to come to the table (and it doesn’t mean that anyone will go out of business – United Airlines didn’t stop flying planes or layoff all of their employees just because it went into Chapter 11 a few years ago and the company is in better position today to survive a tougher economic climate as a result of its restructuring).  A government handout, however, would simply put off the tough changes necessary to make the Big Three to be viable again further into the future.

(Image from Tickerwatch)

derrick-rose-chicago-bulls

I know that my 3.4 regular readers love my rants, and boy oh boy, there’s a lot to rant about between the mauling of the Bears at the hands of Gus Frerotte on Sunday evening, the Illini football team failing to become bowl eligible even though they had enough NFL prospects to have been reasonably expected to make a New Year’s Day bowl this season, and the Illinois basketball team forgetting in the Clemson ACC/Big Ten Challenge game that the purpose of a last second shot when you’re down by 2 is to actually shoot the ball before time expires.  However, I’ll focus on the handful of good things on the Chicago sports front (other than the fact that the Bears could still very well back that ass up to an NFC North title with an 8-8 record): Derrick Rose, Derrick Rose, and more Derrick Rose.

Many of you are well aware by my litany of posts during the summer that I was quite excited from the moment that the Bulls won the draft lottery that Derrick Rose would be coming home, but thought of him as more of an “upside” guy since the only position more difficult for a rookie in professional sports than NBA point guard is starting NFL quarterback.  Well, after a month of watching Rose in action, I’m simply flabbergasted at the magnitude of his play.  Believe me, I’m not one for hyperbole in terms in of athletic praise, but DERRICK ROSE IS THE FUCKING TRUTH.  Not only is he blowing past top tier defenders off of the dribble and consistently scoring 20 points a game, he’s got jackasses like Larry Hughes and Aaron Gray on the court with him that can’t hit open shots, thus holding down Rose’s assist numbers.  I can’t emphasize enough that the fact that he’s doing this as a 19-year old true point guard is beyond comprehension to me.  I’m not going to go off on some prematurely wacky MJ or LeBron comparisons, but let’s just say the Derrick Rose is wildly exceeding some already pretty high expectations.

Speaking of LeBron James, this brings up the well-known NBA free agent class of 2010 that includes the King, Chicagoan Dwyane Wade (it has been fascinating to see Wade’s alma mater and one of my high school’s conference rivals, Richards, featured prominently in his new Converse commercial), and Chris Bosh.  As expected, the New York-centric media is all in a tizzy over the fact that the Knicks have cleared cap space through a series of trades over the past couple of weeks, which puts the franchise in a position to bring LeBron to his rightful place at Madison Square Garden (since it would such a “waste” to have a superstar of this stature in place like Cleveland).  Sam Smith actually poses a legitimate question in all of this: Why not the Bulls in 2010?  The Bulls can put themselves in position to have enough salary cap space to offer a max contract to one or even two of those marquee free agents.  Let’s not forget that with all of the talk about LeBron’s affinity for the Yankees, he has also stated repeatedly that his favorite NBA team growing up was the Bulls (granted, he was the ultimate front-runner by also being a Cowboys fan, ensuring that he covered every possible 1990s dynasty).  I’m not saying that LeBron will be the new attraction at the United Center in two years, but the fact that Derrick Rose is already here means that this team will not be an empty cupboard like many of the other teams that will be clearing cap space at the same time.  Unlike a barren Knicks team, pairing Rose up with any one of LeBron, Wade, or Bosh would almost certainly make the Bulls the dominant team in the Eastern Conference, if not all of the NBA, for the better part of a decade.  Add in the fact that it is a standard shoe contract clause for players to receive additional financial incentives to play in the Chicago media market (along with New York and Los Angeles) and the Bulls ought to be the most enticing 2010 free agent destination out there assuming that the franchise can clear the necessary cap space.

I’ll admit that before the ping-pong balls bounced the right way back in May, the summer of 2010 was all that I was really looking forward to as a Bulls fans that actually wants to see some new championship banners since I knew for a very long time that the Deng/Hinrich/Gordon nucleus would have a maximum ceiling of advancing a couple of rounds in the playoffs but never have a legitimate chance to win it all.  However, Derrick Rose has changed all of that.  While I’m still dreaming of the sky-high possibilities of 2010, the presence of Rose has made every Bulls game appointment television for me right now (even though this team would be fortunate to get the 8th-seed in the playoffs).  With the way he has adjusted to the NBA as 19-year old starting point guard with subpar teammates after only a month, he’d still be the headliner at the United Center no matter who the Bulls may or may not sign in 2010.

(Image from Bleacher Report)