Rick Telander: ‘Cubs Have Greatest Fan Base In Sports’

It’s a good time to be a Chicago sports fan. Yes, the Bears have been underwhelming in recent years, and yes, the White Sox haven’t done much since winning the World Series a decade ago, but the Blackhawks? The Cubs?

No complaints.

The Blackhawks beat the Ducks 3-2 in triple overtime in a riveting Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals on Tuesday. Chicago got out to an early two-goal lead thanks to power-play goals by Andrew Shaw and Marian Hossa but allowed Anaheim back into the game, which was tied 2-2 entering the third period.

Four periods later, Marcus Kruger ended the game with assists from Brent Seabrook and Johnny Oduya.

“That might have been the most – I don’t know – stimulating, exciting, craziest game I’ve ever seen,” Chicago Sun-Times columnist Rick Telander said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “It almost went to the fourth overtime, and I was rooting for it. It was down less than four minutes until they would have gone to a fourth. It was the longest game in Blackhawks history, which goes back 89 years. That’s how crazy that was. And the Hawks scored their two goals right away at the beginning of the first period and they didn’t score again for almost two hours. I was exhausted just watching. There were five halftimes.”

The Blackhawks, who are vying for their third Stanley Cup championship in six years, host Games 3 and 4 on Thursday and Saturday, respectively, with both starting at 8 p.m. ET.

Across town, meanwhile, the Cubs – who haven’t won a World Series since 1908 – are finally relevant once again. Chicago is 22-17 and in second place in the NL Central entering play May 21. If the playoffs started today, the Cubs would be in them – for the first time since 2008.

Yes, hope springs eternal once more in Wrigley.

“Well, Cub fans – there’s nothing like Cub fans,” Telander said. “They will tolerate anything and they’ll come back. They’re like happy lemmings. They just followed each other. They’re so happy. It’s the greatest fan base in any sport that I’ve ever seen. The Cubs finished fifth for five straight years – three years of blatant tanking – and the fans don’t even hold it against Theo Epstein or any other guys.”

For years, Epstein told fans to be patient, that help was on the way. This year, that promise is coming to fruition. Kris Bryant, 23, has four home runs, a team-high 25 RBIs and a .416 OBP, and Jorge Soler, also 23, has three home runs, 14 RBIs and a .341 OBP.

“I talked to Epstein a bunch of times and he said if we didn’t get better after everything we did – getting rid of everybody and being so terrible – shame on us,” Telander said. “But now a guy like Kris Bryant, that’s worth going to the ball park every day. They’ve got so many terrific young guys and if Jon Lester can hang on as a pitcher, it’s incredibly exciting.”

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