Column: Tackling some relevant topics as the sports calendar nears its annual post-Super Bowl lull
While most look forward to the NFL conference championship games, chronic sufferers of PSBD — or post-Super Bowl disorder — dread the thought of only one game remaining after Sunday before the long, agonizing wait for the 2023 season.
Fortunately there are many other diversions to get you through your post-Super Bowl malaise, including the NBA, March Madness, spring training, sports debate shows and movies.
For those who have spent the last six months in an NFL cocoon, here are 10 questions and answers to help catch you up on the great issues of the day.
1. Are the Chicago Bulls a lottery team?
Even after their 128-109 victory against the Magic on Saturday in Orlando, Fla., only six teams had a worse winning percentage than the Bulls. They can still make the Eastern Conference playoffs, but not at this pace.
Like the Chicago White Sox in 2022, the Bulls have spent much of the season getting close to .500, only to go backward in spectacular fashion. They have no shot at falling low enough to have a realistic shot at consensus No. 1 pick Victor Wembanyama, but if they miss the playoffs they indeed will have some pingpong balls in the lottery.
2. Should Eloy Jiménez get his wish to play more right field than DH?
This was a hot topic with White Sox fans for about a minute last week before the Mike Clevinger saga pushed it to the background.
Jiménez told reporters: “I don’t really think that I’m going to accept (embracing the DH role) because I’m working hard to get better and I want to play in the outfield.”
It’s nice that Jiménez is working hard to become a better fielder, but if the Sox are better defensively with rookie Oscar Colás in right, there’s no real reason to play Jiménez more than once a week in the outfield.
3. What’s the over/under on the number of ‘What’s up, Einstein?’ commercials Sunday?
Nothing makes an NFL fan miss the RedZone channel like the ubiquitous ad featuring Paul Giamatti as a befuddled Einstein trying to choose a wireless provider. Every stop in action during the NFL playoffs has seemingly brought another airing.
No betting sites provided an over-under for Sunday’s championship games, but my bookie said 22, including pregame shows.
4. Does Northwestern have a realistic shot at an NCAA Tournament bid?
Why not? The unranked Wildcats are 15-5 after Saturday’s 81-61 win over Minnesota and 6-3 in the Big Ten. No one believed in them after last season’s 7-13 finish in conference play.
What has been the difference?
“I think we really don’t care about all the stuff, what people say about us,” senior guard Chase Audige said after Monday’s win over Wisconsin. “Like, we’ve heard clearly everything in our years here, from being the worst of the worst, or when we’re playing well (being) the best of the best. We’re just trying to stay even-keeled. We know how confident we were in ourselves as a group, and we believe in us. And that’s all that really matters versus what everyone else has to say.”
The Wildcats have proved they’re for real, but the schedule gets harder now.
5. Is there a worse premise for a sports movie than ‘80 for Brady’?
Judging by the commercials, the upcoming release about four elderly women who are obsessive Tom Brady fans might rank as the worst sports movie of all time. It has some tough company in “Fever Pitch,” ”Bad News Bears Go to Japan” and “The Benchwarmers.” A more fitting title might be “Botox for Brady.”
6. Can the Chicago Cubs contend without a bona fide closer?
Wait and see. Setup man Brad Boxberger may be the odds-on choice to start the season there, though he hasn’t been a regular closer since 2018 with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Keegan Thompson, Adbert Alzolay, Brandon Hughes and Rowan Wick are also possibilities.
Team President Jed Hoyer might not be done adding relievers but said he feels “comfortable” with his late-inning options.
“My goal, my hope is that over the next two to three years those guys are all coming out of our system,” he said. “That’s the real goal, to provide great stuff in the bullpen, and that’s also coming in (with) young guys with options that are less expensive. That’s certainly what we want to develop.”
7. Will Will Perdue make it through the Bulls season without imploding?
The NBC Chicago Sports analyst can’t hide his disgust after Bulls losses and recently asked: “Who do they think they are?” Perdue speaks for fans everywhere when he questions the lack of leadership in the locker room. He’s the Bulls’ version of Ozzie Guillen.
8. Which 4 NBA players voted for Lonzo Ball to make the All-Star team?
The Bulls guard hasn’t played in more than a year but received four All-Star votes on players ballots. Let’s assume one was from his brother LaMelo and the other three were from his Bulls teammates who believe the All-Star ballot is a joke.
9. Would an NBA writer have his credential taken away for getting into a televised beef with players during a game?
No doubt about it. But when Fox Sports personality Shannon Sharpe, the former NFL star, got into a shouting match with Memphis Grizzlies players and Ja Morant’s father at a game against the Los Angeles Lakers, referees and stadium security had to step in.
Sharpe later apologized after embarrassing himself and his outlet. Apparently there were no repercussions from the league or his bosses.
10. When LeBron James passes Kareem-Abdul Jabbar on the all-time scoring list, will he officially become the GOAT?
It will seem that way by the reaction of James and his media friends. But the all-time leader in points per game will remain Michael Jordan at 30.12, followed by Wilt Chamberlain’s 30.07 PPG average.
James ranked fifth on Saturday at 27.21. Jordan also will have six NBA titles to James’ four and six NBA Finals MVP awards to James’s four.
James is a truly great player but played much longer than Jordan. It’s really a no-brainer.