It is kind of weird for a recent MLB draft pick injury to create a visceral effect on a fan base, but this really did. I can’t put my finger on exactly why, but I suspect that it is a combination of White Sox fans taking a leap of faith with the rebuild AND Jake Burger being the EVERYMAN of the rebuild. He looks like you could’ve plucked him directly from the 108, but suddenly he’s out there playing and being picked in the top 101 prospects by Baseball Prospectus. This sort of got me thinking about the most soul crushing Chicago sports injuries of my lifetime (well, at least for the teams I root for….sorry Mark Prior)……I bring you, the 5.
5. Jay Cutler 2011 – The Jay Cutler era was a mixed bag, but in the middle of his stay, the Bears had 3 good teams, 2010 they lost the NFC Championship (a game Cutler was also hurt in) and 2012 where they finished 10-6 and just missed the playoffs. The 2011 team might have been the best one, starting the season off 7-3 with a clear path to a playoff spot (the Packers were running to a 15-1 record, so the division was theirs). Cutler was flourishing under Mike Martz’ offense, when Cutler broke his thumb in the teams 10th game versus San Diego at home. This effectively ended the Bears season as they went 1-5 down the stretch and missed the playoffs….the Bears haven’t made the playoffs since, missing narrowly in 2012 and 2013 and never getting close again since.
4. Jim McMahon 1984, 1986, 1987, 1988 – The 1985 Bears are the most famous Chicago sports team of my lifetime. Nearly everyone you talk to would say “It is a shame that the Bears didn’t win more than one Super Bowl.” The reason they didn’t win more than one was because Jim McMahon couldn’t stay healthy. Having lived through this era, it was always soul crushing when Jim McMahon would go down, but none more upsetting than in 1986 when the POS Charles Martin ended his season with a late hit. This is the type of shit that wouldn’t be tolerated in the modern NFL, he’d be suspended for a season or longer, but in 1986, he got 2 games, bfd. McMahon would manage to get back on the field occasionally in 1987 and 1988, the 1988 NFC Championship drubbing by the 49ers being his last game in a Bears uni, but it would never be like 1985 again.
3. Carlos Quentin 2008 – White Sox fans will remember this all too well as it was the last team to make the playoffs. Quentin was cruising to what was likely to be an AL MVP season, when he fouled off a pitch from Cliff Lee that he would’ve liked to smash and he smacked his right fist off of his bat. He didn’t even act like anything had happened when it occurred, but it hit him perfectly and broke his wrist. He never played again that season and the White Sox, though triumphantly winning the AL Central, bowed out in the ALDS against the Rays….ahhh, what could’ve been had Quentin been healthy for that series. Quentin would be back and be decent across a few more seasons, but injuries continued to plague him throughout the remainder of his career.
2. Derrick Rose 2012 – This might be the saddest of all sad injuries in Chicago sports history (shout out to Gale Sayers). Chicago’s very own Derrick Rose, the hometown kid winning an MVP right here with the Bulls. The Bulls were the #1 seed in the East (yes they still had to get past LeBron) and were looking down the barrel of a half decade of #1 and #2 seeds in the East, when late in game 1 of the 1st round of the playoffs Rose goes down with a torn ACL that forever changed the course of the Bulls and Rose. Rose’s life since has been weird to say the least. Rose and the Bulls medical staff came under a lot of scrutiny with all the starts and stops of the rehab, but no matter what side you are on (as if there even should be sides to this), it didn’t turn out as intended. Rose was such an inspiration and then THAT Rose was GONE. Damn shame.
1. Tommie Harris 2006 – As upsetting as the injuries above are, this one hurt the worst. The 108ers are nothing if big Bears fans, that’s our #2 allegiance behind the Sox. The 2006 season was humming along great with the offense popping up above pedestrian and even a young return man flying through the air like a super hero and scoring from all over the place. That team though, was about the defense and despite the fact that there might end up being several HOFers on that squad, including newly minted Gold Jacket recipient Brian Urlacher (and possible future considerations, Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman), the key cog to that defense was Tommie Harris. The kid from Oklahoma was unstoppable at the 3 Technique (whatever that is). All I know is that PC Jonny used to crack wise about how Tommie Harris was lined up in the opposing teams backfield on the regular. He was a STUD. This team looked unstoppable, until week 13 when Harris went down with a gruesome hamstring tear. Like, torn off the fucking bone gruesome. Without Harris, the Bears still managed to get to the SuperBowl, but couldn’t handle the Colts. I just imagine that the 2006 Bears would’ve been Super Bowl champs had Tommie not gotten hurt on that fateful day.