Chicago sports will own this decade. Yes, the '10s technically are almost halfway gone. But thanks to the Blackhawks, enough damage has been done to set up a run for the ages.
Without further ado, here are the Chicago teams most likely to be popping champagne in the '10s.
Look, I don't know a thing about hockey. But these puck boys can play, as evidenced by the fact that they've hoisted Lord Stanley's Cup twice in the past five seasons. Locking up the most important Chicago duo since Michael and Scottie—Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane—this summer is another something to celebrate.
The Hawks have done all the heavy lifting so far in the '10s for Chicago, and without them, this post would be snuffed out like a mosquito. The scrappy character of a skilled core that includes Duncan Keith, Corey Crawford and Patrick Sharp under the capable mustache of Coach Q means these boys have every chance to contend through the '10s.
The Bulls are title-ready today, so pump up the jam, people. The East is ripe for the picking, and by their standards, the Bulls are coming off an offseason for the ages. True, the #NoNewSuperstars trend will persist in the Chi. But unlike the early '00s, the Bulls didn't get stuck with Ron Mercer. The Bulls reeled in the best big man available, 34-year-old Pau Gasol. One can imagine the scintillating high-low combinations between Gasol and the Joakim Noah/Taj Gibson wrecking crew.
Chicago also leveled-up its shooting by drafting Doug McDermott and securing 2011 draft choice Nikola Mirotic from Real Madrid. Oh, and Derrick Rose is back. Cue Mike Krzyzewski, speaking in Las Vegas after coaching Team USA's first practice: "He's better than four years ago." Rose has looked explosive in practice and scrimmages, and appeared at ease in telling reporters his confidence is "through the roof." See you at the party at Grant Park in June.
Yes, those Cubs. And yes, I'm totally drunk off the fact that they reportedly have eight of the Top 100 prospects in baseball. More important, they've got five of the Top 50. Theo Epstein and the front office added another dandy to the so-called "Core Four" (Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Jorge Soler and Albert Almora) when they acquired 20-year-old shortstop Addison Russell. According to longtime MLB reporter Peter Gammons, Oakland general manager Billy Beane told Epstein, "You got Barry Larkin." In 25 games with the Cubs' Double-A affiliate, Russell already has mashed eight bombs.
On the current roster, Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo, 24 and 25 years old, respectively, are fresh off All-Star appearances and look to be cornerstones. My World Series-sense is tingling, people. It's important to note this is a two-wave attack being set up by the front office. Expect the Cubs to enter Phase 2, or "Big Fishing in Free Agency," beginning this offseason or next.
The Bears are fourth on this list not because their outlook is bleak, but because it's that tough to crack the Top 3 in this town. GM Phil Emery has made a series of genius moves since taking over, including trading for Jay Cutler's favorite receiver, Brandon Marshall; drafting receiver Alshon Jeffery, signing Martellus "Black Unicorn" Bennett; bulking up the offensive line; and taking a chance on offensive wiz Marc Trestman. Long a sore spot in Chicago, the offense figures to be one of the NFL's elite.
The aging defense, which fell apart like a wet tissue after Lovie Smith was fired, called the cavalry this offseason, highlighted by the Jared Allen signing. If the defense, which was historically terrible in 2013, can make a modest leap, the Bears can contend for a title this season.
5. White Sox
Can't wait to get steamrolled by Sox fans for not giving them the respect they deserve. Anyway, it's tough to put a team with a Top 5 starter in Chris Sale and Cuban slugger Jose Abreu in the fifth spot. Entering Monday, Abreu leads baseball with 31 home runs. Remarkable, considering it's the 27-year-old's first year in the big leagues. But in baseball, not a team do two players make. With the Paul Konerko era coming to a close, times on the South Side are a-changin'. If the Sox can continue finding lightning in a bottle like Abreu and making solid decisions, owner Jerry Reinsdorf has demonstrated he will spend mad stacks on the Sox when he feels they have a shot.
Adam Jun is a RedEye special contributor.