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CHGO Digest: Bears, Caleb camp takeaways, Cubs have Alzolay problem, Bulls picking 11th

Patrick Norton Avatar
May 13, 2024

Happy Monday, friends!

The luck of the draft has overwhelmingly been on Chicago’s side the last two years:

The Bears can thank Texans QB Davis Mills and Panthers owner David Tepper for Caleb Williams, DJ Moore, and Darnell Wright. And the Blackhawks’ rebuild possibly shed years off of a five-year process thanks to a lottery win that brought Connor Bedard to Chicago.

That unbelievable stroke of luck doesn’t apply to the Reinsdorf family and their Bulls and White Sox.

The Sox dropped from No. 4 to No. 5 in MLB’s draft lottery last December. And rules prohibit teams not taking revenue-sharing payouts from receiving consecutive lottery picks, so the highest the team can draft next year is 10th — despite currently owning the American League’s worst record.

The Bulls didn’t budge from the No. 11 pick in the NBA’s lottery on Sunday. Instead, the Atlanta Hawks jumped from No. 10 to No. 1. Had the Hawks defeated the Bulls in the 9-seed vs. 10-seed play-in game last month and taken down the Miami Heat for the 8th spot in the playoffs, the Bulls could be picking No. 1 overall instead. Two games. Ten spots. Onto Continuity 4.0.

— Patrick Norton

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Caleb Williams wows at rookie minicamp

May 10, 2024; Lake Forest, IL, USA; Chicago Bears quarterback Caleb Williams throws the ball during Chicago Bears rookie minicamp at Halas Hall. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

It’s rookie minicamp. Keep telling yourself that it’s just rookie minicamp. But Caleb Williams still put on a show throwing the football for the first time in orange and blue.

Williams’ arm caught the eye of just about everybody in attendance — even his new offensive coordinator. When asked following practice what impressed him about the rookie quarterback the most, Shane Waldron said, “Arm talent and put the ball where it needs to be.”

  • The connection with fellow first-rounder Rome Odunze was apparent from the jump. Odunze praised his new QB following the Day 1 practice, saying “He’s very talented …. It’s really effortless for him.” However, Odunze sat out of Day 2’s activities due to hamstring tightness. The team called it “precautionary”.
  • Matt Eberflus wasted no time naming Caleb Williams the starting quarterback. That means no “QB1” tweet with Brett Rypien from the Bears’ account this time. “No conversation,” Eberflus said before the first practice. “He’s the starter.”

📖 READ | CHGO’s Nicholas Moreano shares his takeaways from rookie minicamp including an update on third-round pick Kiran Amegadije.

🏈 NEXT | The NFL schedule is coming this Wednesday! The CHGO Bears Podcast predicted who Caleb Williams will play in his first regular season game, when the Bears will face Green Bay, and more!

The Franchise Collection available now!

👕 GET A FREE SHIRT! | Become a Diehard and get your choice of any of the three shirts above … or any shirt in our CHGO Locker!

Alzolay’s struggles continue despite Cubs win

May 12, 2024; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Adbert Alzolay (73) pitches against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the tenth inning at PNC Park. The Cubs won 5-4 in ten innings. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The 2024 downfall of Adbert Alzolay continues to mystify the Cubs, and the situation is one that requires immediate rectification.

Just one season ago, Alzolay slammed the door shut 22 times in 25 opportunities after being thrust into the job when Michael Fulmer struggled in the closer’s role. The 29-year-old right-hander picked up his fourth save of the season on Sunday, but not before giving every Cubs fan heartburn.

  • Entering with a three-run cushion, Alzolay surrendered a two-run home run on the second pitch he threw in the 10th inning. The closer walked the next batter in a noncompetitive at-bat, and could’ve run into more trouble if not for a Nick Madrigal web gem at third base. Alzolay retired the next two batters to secure the victory.
  • The long ball is a major contributing factor to Alzolay’s spiral. In 2023, Alzolay allowed just five home runs in 64.0 IP. He’s already allowed six in 17.1 IP this season. Sunday marked the first time in 2024 that a home run surrendered by Alzolay didn’t lead to a blown save or loss.
  • Alzolay isn’t the only one struggling to record outs for the Cubs’ bullpen. The team’s 4.58 ERA in relief is good enough for 24th in baseball. It certainly doesn’t help having Julian Merryweather on the 60-day IL and Yency Almonte, Drew Smyly, and Daniel Palencia on the 15-day IL. But the struggling pen is costing the Cubs games, and with a relatively loaded war chest of prospects, a splash trade for a stronger option to close out games becomes more likely with every nail-biting finish.

📺 WATCH | CHGO Cubs’ Corey Freedman and Brendan Miller break down the weekend series in Pittsburgh including Patrick Wisdom’s heroics and Alzolay’s struggles.

🔎 GO DEEPER | Become a Diehard to get Ryan Herrera’s CHGO Cubs Weekly newsletter every Monday!

TONIGHT | Cubs at Braves — 6:20 on Marquee Sports Network

Friday 1:20 Club | Cubs vs. Pirates — Friday, May 17 starting at Murphy’s Bleachers at 10 am!

Road trip with CHGO to Wrigley North!

Join the CHGO Cubs crew for a trip up north to Milwaukee on June 29! Brats, beverages, and a battle for the NL Central!

Roundup: Bedard shines on Worlds stage, Sox surging

  • Representing Team Canada in the 2024 IIHF World Championship, Connor Bedard is doing Connor Bedard things. The 18-year-old will be taking home the Calder Trophy in a few weeks, but he’s looking for some more hardware first. Bedard leads all players in tournament play with four goals in two games.
  • Winning four in a row is nothing to scoff at, especially for the 2024 White Sox. Despite dropping the series finale on Sunday, the Southsiders took three out of four from the Guardians thanks to strong pitching efforts. Garrett Crochet struck out a career-high 11 batters in six scoreless innings en route to Friday’s victory.

🔎 GO DEEPER | Become a Diehard to receive Vinnie Duber’s CHGO White Sox Weekly newsletter every Monday. This week’s topic: The Rise of Jordan Leasure.

TONIGHT | White Sox vs. Nationals — 6:40 on NBC Sports Chicago

Join ALLCITY’s Big Drive Energy and your favorite CHGO personalities on the golf course. The Cookout Classic tees off in West Chicago on July 22 — book as an individual, twosome, or foursome today!

Kyler-Man, Kyler-Man, does whatever a Kyler can.

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