17 in 6: The Best Chicago Sports Moments of the Past 6 Years
The city of Chicago celebrated it’s 176th birthday yesterday, and over those 176 years the city has had a rich sports history.
It’s home to not one, but two baseball teams. It has it’s beloved Chicago Bears who have delivered multiple NFL Championships and a Super Bowl title.
It was home to the greatest player to ever play in the NBA as he dominated and led the Bulls to six NBA Championships. In that same arena it hosts the most recent team to earn Chicago a sports championship, the Chicago Blackhawks.
It even plays host to multiple international soccer events over the years and has a team call the Windy City it’s home in the MLS.
In honor of 176 years, I decided to put together a list. No, I didn’t do the 176 best moments in Chicago sports history. Sorry to disappoint. Instead I focused on the most recent of times.
I’ve put together a list of the 17 best Chicago sports moments in the past six years.
Now there are many moments that are worthy enough to make the list, but it was a difficult time making the final 17. In fact after the first two moments, I got stuck.
So whether you agree or disagree, and that is the point of this article, enjoy what I think are the 17 best Chicago sports moments in the past six years.
NOTE: The moments occur from March 4, 2007-March 4, 2013.
Close but no cigar: -Bears acquire Brandon Marshall. – Cubs comeback vs. Rockies. -Bears let Jerry Angelo go. – Bears let Lovie Smith go. – Chicago Free Agent pursuit of 2010 (LeBron/Wade, Peppers/Taylor).
#17 Aramis Ramirez walks-off on the White Sox
When the Cubs and White Sox get together for their annual ‘Crosstown Classic’ the city turns into a frenzy. White Sox fans dislike Cub fans, and vice-versa. The two fan bases just don’t get along.
So in 2008 when the teams met at Wrigley Field for a three game set, both teams were in first place in their division and the excitement was high among fans. Both teams fans wanted the coveted bragging rights.
Now with that exciting 2008 season by the Cubs a few memories come to mind, but this one has an impact on the whole city of Chicago.
The Cubs trailed 3-1 early on in the game, but plated two runs in the seventh-inning to tie it. Heading into the ninth, Kerry Wood escaped leaving the game tied for the Cubs in the bottom half. Ramirez lead off the ninth and took a 1-0 pitch from Scott Linebrink into the bleachers for a dramatic walk-off home run that sent Cub fans home happy. As Ramirez rounded first he held his fist towards the sky as fans filled excitement.
#16 Blackhawks pull off incredible comeback vs Calgary
We all know the story of the Blackhawks incredible Stanley Cup run in 2010, but one game that still stands in fans memories that season was amazing comeback against the Calgary Flames at the United Center.
The Flames jumped all over the Blackhawks and goalie Cristobal Huet as they scored three goals in 53 seconds. Seven minutes in and Huet was benched for Antti Niemi who gave up two goals.
Down 5-0 the Blackhawks fought back and scored five unanswered goals to force overtime. Brent Seabrook then capped off the rally with a goal 26 seconds into overtime to give the Blackhawks the incredible win.
#15 Jim Thome hits #500
On September 16, 2007 Jim Thome became the 23rd major leaguer to hit his 500th home run, and the 3rd player that season to accomplish the feat.
Thome and the White Sox shared the special moment as it came in the form of a walk-off home run. In the bottom of the ninth, Thome launched a shot off Angels pitcher Dustin Moseley to give the White Sox a 9-7 win at U.S Cellular Field.
#14 The Blackhawks celebrate with a parade in Chicago
The Chicago Blackhawks had a remarkable 2010 season as they capped it off with their first Stanley Cup since 1961. To celebrate the achievement, like other sports championships, the city of Chicago held a parade in honor of the Chicago Blackhawks.
On June 11, 2010, 2 million people attend the parade in the streets of Chicago. The parade was full of celebrations, speeches and even a rap from Kris Versteeg.
The event definitely was a can’t miss moment for Blackhawk fans and sports fans in Chicago. It was truly a once in a lifetime event.
#13 Bears win the 2010 NFC North Title
Just a few years removed from their Super Bowl birth, the Chicago Bears had struggled. They didn’t have a solid quarterback, Cedric Benson was itching his name into the ‘bust’ category at running back, and the rest of the offense was struggling. However, the Bears did have one thing. A solid defense.
So when the Bears acquired Jay Cutler in 2009, it gave hope for a solid offense. Something the team hadn’t seen in years. Going into the 2010 season the Bears were fresh off a 7-9 season with not much expectations. The season started with a little controversy against the Lions, but the Bears went on to start 4-1 before dropping their next two games to the Seahawks and Redskins.
The Bears would eventually clinch the NFC North Division title with a win over the Vikings in week 15 at the University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium due to damages at the Metrodome. The game would also be the final game of Brett Favres career and would include a record breaking punt return from Devin Hester.
The Bears won their NFC Divisional Playoff game at home vs Seattle, before losing in the NFC Championship to the Green Bay Packers.
#12 White Sox Blackout game
If you have to think of one memorable White Sox game over the past six years, the 2008 “Blackout” game has to cross your mind at some point. The White Sox were in an improbable situation heading into the final Sunday of the regular season. They needed to beat the Indians that Sunday (Game 161) to force a makeup game with the Tigers (Game 162). As the White Sox trailed the Twins by one game, they had to win both of those games to force a tiebreaker game.
They did just that.
The White Sox hosted the tie-breaking game against the Minnesota Twins on September 30, 2008. Nearly 40,000 fans complied with the White Sox request for a “Blackout” game as they dawned black to create an electric atmosphere at the Cell.
The Twins squandered a chance in the fifth when Ken Griffey Jr. threw out Michael Cuddyer at the plate in the fifth. Later in the seventh-inning, Jim Thome launched a 461-foot home run to give the only run of the game and a White Sox 1-0 win.
#11 Cubs win back-to-back Central Division titles
The Cubs entered 2007 with a new look to them. They had a new manager in Lou Pinella who successfully turned the Cubs from a last place team in 2006 to a first place team in 2007. They had a few big free agent signings including Alfonso Soriano, Ted Lilly, Mark DeRosa and Jason Marquis.
The season started off as a struggle, but a incident in early June sparked the Cubs run. Pinella was ejected arguing a call against the Atlanta Braves as he kicked dirt at an umpire and was later ejected. The Cubs earned their first division title in four years and were headed to the playoffs. The playoffs were a different story as the Cubs were swept 3-0 by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NLDS.
The next season the Cubs were ready to take the next step. Powered by their big bats of Aramis Ramirez, Derek Lee and Soriano the Cubs earned the best record in the National League. Even with the best record, the Cubs were eventually swept out of the playoffs again but this time by the Los Angeles Dodgers
#10 Bulls earn NBA best record in back-to-back years
For the first time since 1998 the Chicago Bulls earned the best record in the NBA in 2011. Backed by their MVP point guard Derrick Rose, the Bulls surprised a lot of people. They made it to the Eastern Conference Finals were they dominated game one on their home court against Miami. The next four games were a different story as Miami went on to win four in a row and the series.
The next season the Bulls despite injuries to Rip Hamilton and Derrick Rose managed to earn the best record again in the shortened season. The Bulls depth helped propel them to the top. With a healthy Rose and Hamilton back the Bulls were set for a deep playoff run.
Then a scary ACL injury to Rose in game one of the playoffs killed any chance the Bulls had.
Despite failing to make the NBA Finals, the Bulls gave their fans and the city of Chicago hope for the future.
#9 Bears acquire Jay Cutler
For years the Chicago Bears have struggled at the quarterback position. Names like Craig Krenzel, Jonathan Quinn, Henry Burris, Rex Grosman, Brian Griese and many more have tried to excel at the position for the Bears, but have failed. The history of Bears quarterbacks normally comes to two names: Sid Luckman and Jim McMahon.
That all changed on April 2, 2009 when it was announced the Bears had traded for Cutler. In return, the Bears would give up two first-round draft picks, a third round pick and quarterback Kyle Orton.
Bears fans were full of excitement as the organization finally had acquired a “franchise quarterback”. Although at times it’s been a struggle for Cutler as a Chicago Bear, he has shown he has the talent to lead the team to victories.
With a solid running back, a true number one receiver in Brandon Marshall and a strong armed quarterback, the Bears hope their offense can take it to a new level in 2013.
#8 The Cubs land Theo Epstein
We all know the story of the Chicago Cubs. It’s been 100+ years since the team has won a World Series. They’ve been awful the past few seasons, so change was bound to happen. The Cubs needed new leadership in the front office, and they needed it quick.
In comes the smart baseball mind of former Red Sox General Manager Theo Epstein.
On October 12, 2011 the Cubs announced a contract for Epstein worth $18.5 million over 5 years. Epstein was announced as President of the Cubs organization, as Jed Hoyer was named GM. The move was huge for the Cubs who needed an Epstein type presence running the organization.
Together the two have a rebuilding plan in place for the Cubs through the teams farm system. Stay tuned.
#7 Carlos Zambrano no-hits the Houston Astros
On September 14, 2008 former Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano pitched the game of his life as he no-hit the Houston Astros in the Cubs 5-0 win. The funny thing? It happened at a neutral site at Milwaukees Miller Park.
The Cubs and Astros were scheduled to play a series in Houston, but after damages to Minute Maid Park from Hurricane Ike, the series was moved to Milwaukee.
In his first start in 12 days, Zambrano was dominant. He only allowed two base runners on walks and struck out ten in the Cubs win. It was the Cubs first no-hitter since 1972.
#6 The Bulls draft Derrick Rose
Call it fate. Call it a miracle. Call it whatever you want, but the Bulls landed Derrick Rose with the first pick in the 2008 NBA Draft. The most shocking thing about this was the Bulls only had a 1.7% chance of winning the lottery for the first pick that season.
It happened however, and the Bulls made the Chicago born Rose the number one overall pick over Michael Beasley. It’s worked out well for the Bulls who now have their superstar of the future.
#5 Mark Buehrle is Perfect
Mark Buehrle was a staple in the White Sox rotation for several years. So when he pitched his first perfect game ever on July 29, 2009 for many fans it was a long time coming for Buehrle and the White Sox who last had a perfect game in 1922.
Buehrle was magnificent in his performance as he dominated the Tampa Bay Rays. He did get a little help from his defense, and more specifically DeWayne Wise who robbed Gabe Kapler of extra bases in the top of the ninth. The moment was special for Buehrle and White Sox fans everywhere, who would eventually see another perfect game last season from Phil Humber.
#4 Chicago Blackhawks Point Streak
The 2012-2013 NHL season started under a lockout. After months of negotiations a deal was made and the league announced there would be hockey. This was a blessing for Chicago Blackhawk fans who were anxious to wipe the nasty taste out of their mouths from last years playoff series vs Phoenix.
The Blackhawks started off the season hot. In fact they started off with a record of their own by scoring a point in at least 17 straight games to start a season. That streak is now at 22 games and the ‘Hawks have their eyes set on most consecutive games with a point streak.
#3 Devin Hester excites Chicago with his Returns
There is arguably no player more exciting to watch when he touches the ball than Devin Hester. Even if he has lost a step over the past year or so. Hester made an immediate impact with the Bears in his first game in 2006, and he hardly fizzled out either.
Hester has 18 return touchdowns in his career, good for most ever. He also holds numerous return records as well. Ever since Hester burst onto the scene from Miami, he’s been a threat to break a big one every time he fields a punt or kick.
#2 Derrick Rose wins NBA MVP
Back in the 2010-2011 season the Chicago Bulls emerged from the last playoff seed in the Eastern Conference to the first overall seed. They did this all on the shoulders of their superstar point guard Derrick Rose.
The homegrown Rose from Chicago’s tough Englewood neighborhood put together his best season to date as he averaged 25.0 PPG, 4.1 RPG and 7.7 APG. Rose became the youngest NBA MVP ever and the first Chicago Bull to win MVP since Michael Jordan in the 1997-98 season.
#1. The Chicago Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup
It’s no question the Blackhawks are the most recent successful Chicago sports team. They do after-all have the last major sports title for the city with their impressive 2009-2010 Stanley Cup run that ended a drought back to 1961.
En-route to their fourth Stanley Cup, the Blackhawks dominated the playoffs with a 16-6 record including a Western Conference Finals sweep of the San Jose Sharks.
The Blackhawks then took care of the Philadelphia Flyers in game six when Patrick Kane netted the game winner in overtime as Chicago celebrated.