Dreaming about next year amid the dreading of this year

Here are some hopes and fears for 2023 — for Chicago sports and beyond.

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As the Ricketts family continues to remake Wrigleyville, let’s hope they remember take care of the baseball team that is the center of everything in the neighborhood.

As the Ricketts family continues to remake Wrigleyville, let’s hope they remember take care of the baseball team that is the center of everything in the neighborhood.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

It’s time for hopes and fears for this looming beast called 2023.

Hopes in local sports:

• Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, who just played their 1,000th game together as Blackhawks, will find a magic feather and play 1,000 more as odd-fellow ice pals.

• The Hawks will find a goalie who will remind us of Tony Esposito, Corey Crawford or Glenn Hall. Or even crazy ol’ Antti Niemi when he was standing on his head.

• The Bears will say enough of mud and slop and frozen-tundra games, give thanks and see-yas to the lard-bellied, shirtless, all-weather loonies in the stands and build the huge, roofed, Super Bowl-ready stadium in Arlington Heights that is needed to springboard them into the proper century.

• The Bulls will get genuine team value from Zach LaVine and Lonzo Ball before each joins the sad Anfernee Hardaway/Jay Williams/Grant Hill Hall of Potentially Great Players Ruined by Injuries.

• The Cubs. Ah, the Cubs. Let’s hope the Rickettses don’t forget there’s a baseball team inside ‘‘Cubs World,’’ the Ricketts-dominated land that merely needs a dome headed south from Waveland Avenue along Clark and encompasses everything from the Hotel Zachary, Harry Caray’s Tavern, the Cubby Bear and, oh, right, Wrigley Field.

• Thirty-six-year-old Candace Parker, one of the greatest WNBA players ever, re-signs with the Sky and finds the desire and strength to lead her team to a second championship before the curtain closes and credits roll.

• New and untested White Sox manager Pedro Grifol, who gives meaning to the phrase ‘‘not a household name,’’ knows something that the rest of us do not. And that he can get some serious victories out of his talented but strangely heartless team.

Now some hopes for the national scene:

• NFL sideline reporters will stop saying, ‘‘He told me,’’ followed by banalities such as, ‘‘We need to score more points,’’ or ‘‘It’s cold out here.’’

• NFL players, after an interception or long touchdown, will stop gathering as many teammates as possible and posing for a camera shot in the end zone.

• The NBA finally will realize its players can make shots from anywhere inside the half-court line and will institute a very long four-point shot. This will open up the game to wondrous effect. (Imagine being fouled on a four-pointer that goes in and you make your free throw. The five-point play!)

• New Colorado football coach Deion Sanders grows two new toes on his surgically destabilized left foot. And, while doing so, keeps his Buffaloes off NCAA probation.

• Flopping in all sports — head-whipping, fake ankle-grabbing, feigned unconsciousness as a technique transmitted by the global soccer virus (brought to the United States, this writer believes, by former cigarette-smoking center Vlade Divac of the Lakers) — will be grounds for immediate expulsion from whatever game is involved and mandatory wearing of clown face paint.

• A catchable football that bounces off a receiver’s hands and is snared by a defender is not a quarterback interception. The statistic will be changed to ‘‘receiver error.’’

• Football bowl-game executives will not continue to make huge salaries for putting on one game a year — say, the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl — using free labor (aka college players) while wearing gaudy bowl game sport coats. The CEO of the aforementioned Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, by the way, Gary Stokan, got a $15,000 salary increase to $807,000 in 2020, even though his bowl-day revenue fell by $20 million from the previous year.

OK, here are a couple of local fears:

• We will watch Northwestern football drop from its 1-11 record this past season back into the realm of, ‘‘Why not the Ivy League?’’

• We will see gambling gossip take over all of sports-talk radio, so that even high school games become nothing but adventures in betting. Moreover, micro-bets will come to include the amount of times Tom Brady looks at his iPad on the bench and the over-under on Bill Belichick’s facial expression changing from blank to scowl to blank (that counts as one).

Finally, some national fears:

• Somebody in the ‘‘Fox NFL Sunday’’ pregame group will guffaw so wildly at something that is, of course, not funny that he will need to be carried off on a stretcher.

• Terry Bradshaw survives to chortle again.

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