The new year has already started and amidst the resolutions, fresh starts, diets, and new beginnings comes the ever reverent look back at the year that has passed. The year 2008 was a banner year for Chicago sports, as three teams won their prospective division titles, and one, the Chicago Wolves won a championship. There was good, bad, ugly, and everything in between for Chicago sports fans. So, lets take a look back on the Top 10 Moments in Chicago Sports in 2008 (in no particular order):
Bears use goal line stand to beat the Eagles 24-20
Bears goal line stand against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 4 – The Chicago Bears were leading the Philadelphia Eagles 24-20, Eagles had first and goal from the Bears 4, 5:40 left in the game. Eagles run RB Cornell Buckhalter off right tackle for 3 yards. Second and goal was a handoff to FB Tony Hunt for no gain. Third down was back to Buckhalter to the right for no gain. Eagles call a time out and decide to go for it on 4th down. Buckhalter again off left tackle, this time, stood up by RE Alex Brown of the Bears for no gain. Game over. Bears win.
Zambrano hurls a no-hitter.
Cubs RHP Carlos Zambrano throws no-hitter against the Houston Astros on Sept. 14th – The Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros waited two long days to find out where they would be playing their key late season series against each other. Houston was being devestated by Hurricane Ike and MLB moved the Astros to “neutral” Miller Park in Milwaukee to face the Cubs. Zambrano brought his “A” game with him to “Wrigley North”, shutting down the powerful Astros lineup, striking out CF Darrin Erstad swinging for the last out of the first Cubs no-hitter in 36 years.
Chicago Cubs Win 2008 NL Central Division
Cubs win back to back NL Central Division titles – The Cubs began the 2008 season with one of it’s goals to win the 2008 NL Central Division title, as well as seeking their first World Series appearance since 1945 and first World Championship since 1908. Alas, the Cubs could only slay one 100 year drought, as they won an NL-best 97 games en route to the 2008 NL Central Division title for their first back to back division titles since 1908. A quick sweep in the NL Divisional Series by the hands of the Los Angeles Dodgers dimmed what was to that point, a most magical season for the North Siders.
chicago white sox win 2008 al central division title
White Sox win 3 elimination games in a row to win the AL Central title — The Chicago White Sox looked dead in the water, losing 4 of their final 5 games to the Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Indians, coughing up a 2.5 game division lead and falling 1/2 game behind the Twins with one game to play. The final game of the Cleveland series and the regular season was a must win game with Mark Buehrle on the bump, the Sox beat the Indians to force the Monday afternoon post-season makeup game against the Detroit Tigers. The Sox win the makeup game against the Tigers, forcing a one game playoff game against the Twins for the AL Division title, this time, in Chicago. The Sox, behind a masterpiece by LHP John Danks, beat the Twins 1-0 and claim the AL Central Division title, winning three elimination games in a row.
derrick rose drafted #1 by chicago bulls
Chicago Bulls win the 1st pick in the NBA Draft and the right to select PG Derrick Rose – Chicago Bulls GM John Paxson had to work wonders to undo all the bad karma and decision-making by Bulls brass in the post-Michael Jordan/Phil Jackson era, but by sheer luck, one of those bouncing ping-pong ball went red, and the Bulls, with a x% chance, landed the #1 pick in the 2008 NBA draft. Around the same time, a young freshman PG from Chicago was leading his one-loss Memphis Tigers team to the 2008 National Championship game against the Kansas Jayhawks. The Jayhawks win the title, the young freshman forgoes his eligibility and declares eligible for the NBA Draft and the prodigal son returns a hero.
The City of Chicago becomes a finalist for host city for the 2016 Olympic Summer Games – Chicago survived the US bid process to emerge as the US entry for host of the 2016 Olympics. Election Night provided the world a glimpse of what Chicago 2016 could be as Grant Park served as the world’s stage for President-Elect Barack Obama’s election night speech. Chicago is President Obama’s hometown and can be in prime position to be named 2016 host, but it can’t rest on that momentum as concerns about finances, transportation infrastructure, and sports facilities still shroud Chicago’s Olympic bid chances.
Youngsters lead the resurgence of the Chicago Blackhawks
The arrival of a young and resurgent Chicago Blackhawks hockey team, who finished the 2007-08 season very strong and opened the 2008-09 season even stronger – the Chicago Blackhawks under owner Bill Wirtz became the city’s red headed stepchild of Chicago professional sports. Even the minor league AHL hockey team, the Chicago Wolves, were outdrawing the Hawks in attendance. Things couldn’t have been any lower, and then, Bill Wirtz died. Bill’s son Rocky took the team over and his first move as team owner was to steal marketing genius John McDonough away from the Cubs, hiring McDonough as his new team president. A change in coaches (Joel Quenneville in, Denis Savard out), a #1, and #3 draft pick later, youngsters C Jonathan Toews and RW Patrick Kane lead a marketing and on-ice resurgence of the Chicago Blackhawks. High point to date, a team best 9 game winning streak leading into the 2009 Winter Classic against the Detroit Red Wings. The game resulted in a loss for the Blackhawks in the standings, but was a HUGE win for the Hawks in prestige and heritage. A vintage Original Six team is reborn.
Chicago Bears Matt Forte leads Bears ground attack
Bears hammer Indianapolis Colts on national TV in the season opener, marking the coming out party for Bears RB Matt Forte and ruining the home opening of the Colts new Lucas Oil Stadium — The Chicago Bears were playing on national television. They were also playing the mighty Indianapolis Colts on the road in the Colts brand spanking new stadium. The Bears have traditionally been nothing short of horrible in nationally televised night games and this was Sunday Night Football on NBC. And QB Peyton Manning, coming off a knee injury, was planning on starting this game. The Bears were doomed, but fate forgot to mention that to this Bears team, lead by a resurgent defense and the nimble running of rookie RB Matt Forte, the only Bear to eclipse 100 yards rushing in his first ever game (123 yards), the Bears down the mighty Colts 29-13.
QB Juice Williams leads Illinois to 2008 Rose Bowl
The University of Illinois football team plays in it’s first Rose Bowl since 1984 — In 2001, the University of Illinois football program was reaching it’s pinnacle capped by a Big Ten Conference Championship and an appearance in the 2002 Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. Two short years later, the Illini hit rock bottom, going 1-11, eventually firing coach Ron Turner and hiring master recruiter Ron Zook as his replacement. In year 3 of the rebuilding process, the Illini found themselves with a 9-4 record, stunning #1 Ohio State on the road in a 28-21 victory that propelled the team to it’s first Rose Bowl in 24 years.
Chicago Wolves win the 2008 Calder Cup Championship
Chicago Wolves win the 2008 Calder Cup Championship, bringing a hockey title back to Chicago — The Chicago Wolves AHL hockey team beats the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins 5-2 bringing the Calder Cup back to Chicago. It is the 4th title for the Wolves in their 14-year history. Soon after, Wolves Coach John Anderson is promoted to coach the parent team, the NHL’s Atlanta Thrashers. The Wolves dip into a famous Chicago hockey family, tapping Don Granato as their new head coach.