Good time to be sports fan in Chicago

Good time to be Chicag sports fan

ST. PETERSBURG -- It's the end of April, and the White Sox find themselves sharing the Chicago sports scene with a team other than the Cubs. That's a good thing, by the way, for the local landscape.

With both the Bulls and Blackhawks in the playoffs for the first time together since 1997 and with both baseball teams looking to be prime contenders in their respective Central divisions, there's certainly no shortage of topics to talk about on Chicago sports radio or exciting buzz emanating from fans around town or even in Florida watching the White Sox.

"It's great for the city, especially with the way the economy is going right now," said White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen of the sports excitement in the city. "It helps people forget about things. Everyone is happy about it."

"This is probably one of the best sports towns in the world," White Sox right fielder Jermaine Dye said. "It's good to see the other teams have success. I think it's great for the city. The fans get a chance to root for a team throughout the whole year, and not just look to one or two sports to wait to come up."

Of course, the White Sox have a job to do on a daily basis, so it doesn't leave them a great deal of time to follow the other franchises. They go up against the Cubs in consecutive weeks in June, and to be honest, neither team is exactly leading the wave for the other, although a healthy dose of baseball respect does exist on both sides of town.

But there were some free moments on Saturday afternoon for the White Sox to watch the Bulls' thrilling 105-103 victory over the defending champions from Boston in overtime, during the first game of the opening round NBA playoff series. Both of Jerry Reinsdorf's Chicago teams, who have accounted for seven championships, stayed in the same Michigan hotel last Monday, when the White Sox were preparing to start a series with the Tigers and the Bulls were set to match up with the Pistons.

"There were a few times where we stayed in the same hotel as the Bulls, and I know I hung out with a couple of players on the team just talking about stuff," Dye said. "You root on the teams in your city. You wish them the best. But the Bulls played a great game yesterday."

"Especially the Bulls, they're the underdog," Guillen said. "I always like those type of games, you're the underdog and you beat Boston over there -- obviously Garnett is not playing, but still, you take advantage of that. A bunch of kids, in overtime -- they're playing well."

Guillen once had season tickets for the Miami Heat, coinciding with his offseason home. He admitted as to how basketball wasn't on his list of priorities to watch recently, but he enjoyed taking in the Bulls' action on Saturday and provided solid analysis of the victory.

"I never knew [Derrick] Rose was that good. I think [Joakim] Noah stepped it up a notch, finally, when we needed him. I think he can go 10 [points]/10 [rebounds] every day," Guillen said. "I think the way they're playing right now, I think they're on a roll right now.

"Hockey, I know a couple guys in Chicago, but coming from Venezuela we don't follow hockey. We don't have that much ice, so we don't even know how to skate. The Cubs are going to play that way. Right now, it's a pretty good month for sports in Chicago. Hopefully, it ends up that way in the summer."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.