NEWS

Quick Shots: Playoff trends cause for worry for ’Hawks, Bulls

Matt Trowbridge

Chicago’s winter teams are on the wrong side of two playoff trends:

The Blackhawks have the best team in their 85-year history, breaking the franchise record for regular-season wins with 52. But they play in a league known for playoff upsets led by hot goaltenders — and their greatest weakness is goalie.

The Bulls limped into the playoffs by beating Charlotte in the final game, but it would be an upset if the Bulls win even one game against LeBron James and No. 1-seeded Cleveland in the first round.

The best team wins in the NBA. That counts out the Bulls. The hot team wins in hockey, forcing the Blackhawks to be both great and hot. The Blackhawks started this whole NHL upset thing by winning their first title in 1938 after posting a dismal 14-25 regular-season record. But with a 49-year drought since Chicago’s last Stanley Cup, this is no time for hockey upsets in Chicago.

Job market doesn’t scare Ozzie

Ozzie Guillen’s told Chicago reporters that if he’s ever fired by the White Sox, another team would quickly hire him. No kidding. But it’s the way he said it that made it interesting. “There are a lot of (bad) managers that (have been) given two and three shots to manage in the big leagues. I don’t see why not me.”

The question is if he wants one. He said if he were fired, he’d tell Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf to fire analysts Steve Stone, Ed Farmer or Darrin Jackson. “I want that job,” he said. Baseball should want it, too. If Guillen cut out the profanity, he’d be as big for baseball as an analyst as Charles Barkley is for basketball.

A.J. fools umps again

White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski helped break up a no-hitter by getting hit by a pitch one batter before Alex Rios homered against Toronto’s Ricky Romero. Only — shades of the 2005 playoffs — he didn’t get hit. Even the White Sox announcers knew Pierzynski fooled umpire Tim McClelland. TV analyst Steve Stone said: “And McClelland’s looking at him, saying, ‘Just go to first, I believe you. I know you wouldn’t lie to me.’ ” Stone, as ESPN.com pointed out, later mentioned that Pierzynski even hopped on the wrong foot. How is it that the least believable player in baseball keeps getting the umps’ benefit of the doubt?

No need to panic over Soriano

Why do Cubs fans and critics always panic about Alfonso Soriano? ESPN is even reporting there is a 50-50 chance the Cubs will release Soriano before the remaining five years and $90 million on his contract expire. Soriano is full of flaws, but his hot streaks led the Cubs to their only back-to-back division titles in more than 30 years. He’s batting .258 this year. He stole a base Friday. He’s not worth $18 million a year, but he’s not without value. Bench him for Tyler Colvin when he’s struggling, but give him 500 at-bats a year and he’ll still hit 30 home runs.

Podsednik one that got away

It made sense that the White Sox didn’t want to build around Scott Podsednik (.304 last year) and Jim Thome (23 HRs), and even that they’d pick up Podsednik clone Juan Pierre at a discount. What never made sense was throwing away Podsednik and Thome just because you couldn’t guarantee them a starting spot. Podsednik, as of Friday, leads the AL in batting (.457) for the Royals, while the Sox are last (.205).

Matt Trowbridge’s Quick Shots on Sports appear Sundays. He can be reached at 815-987-1383 or mtrowbridge@rrstar.com.