Doesn't get better than this

Bulls, Blackhawks exceeding expectations

April 20, 2009, 2:34 PM

By: Wayne Drehs

So yes, Saturday was quite the day for Chicago sports fans. Derrick Rose surgically dismantled the defending NBA champion Boston Celtics. Jonathan Toews forced Mike Keenan's few remaining hairs to turn gray. Aramis Ramirez hit an extra-inning walk-off against the hated Cardinals. And the White Sox continued their domination of defending American League champion Tampa Bay.

It was as good as it gets. Not because everybody won, but because of the lack of expectation. Just look at Chicago's two postseason teams. Five days ago, no one (except perhaps Kendall Gill) expected the Bulls to beat Boston. No one knew what to expect from the young Blackhawks. And now the Bulls have stolen home-court advantage from the Celtics and the Hawks are on the verge of putting the Flames away. Both teams are playing with the house's money.

In a city where we do nothing but fear what's about to go wrong next, every victory is another cherry on top. As a fan, there's no heartache. No fear of unrealized expectations. Just hope and optimism for the future. It doesn't get any better. After all, looking back, who was more fun to cheer for?

*Twenty-strikeout Kerry Wood in '98 or 34-save Kerry Wood in '08?

* Defensive Rookie of the Year Brian Urlacher in '00 or grouchy Brian Urlacher in '08?

* The never-beat-the-Braves-in-the-first-round Cubs of 2003 or the everyone-is-picking-us-to-win-it-all Cubs of 2008?

What about the '05 White Sox? It's hard to argue that any Chicago postseason run has been more magical. No expectations, a brutal late-season collapse but then a shocking upset of defending world champion Boston (see a pattern here?) en route to the city's first World Series championship in 88 years. Scott Podsednik still doesn't have to buy a beer anywhere south of the Eisenhower.

That's the beauty of these Bulls and Blackhawks teams. If they win, great. If not, there won't be any permanent scarring. They're young. There's time. Just wait 'til next year.

But therein lies the catch. Next year, Rose will be expected to drop 25 and 10 every night. Kane and Toews will be the anchors of a Blackhawks team that will be among the favorites to win the Stanley Cup. For all three of them, the Mark Prior treatment will be in full force.

So tonight, when you're watching Rose slice through the Boston defense, when you're watching Kane and Toews play keep-away with Calgary, take a second to appreciate the beauty of youth and the enjoyment that comes with the lack of expectation. Next year, everything changes.

Wayne Drehs is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at wayne.drehs@espn3.com.

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