Never a drought

5 alternatives to watching bad Chicago baseball

July 08, 2013|By Adam Lukach, For RedEye

It's July in Chicago, and around this time, the city would normally be watching one, maybe two, contending baseball teams.

Unfortunately, this isn't the case in 2013: As the Blackhawks ripped through the playoffs to a Stanley Cup, the summer months have not been kind to Chicago baseball. Both the Cubs and White Sox are limping into the All-Star break near the bottom of their respective divisions, with the Cubs still in their endless rebuilding mode and the Sox just beginning theirs.

So what to do when you've got a Kaner-esque hockey hangover and need to feed it? Well, first, you should still try to dap the baseball teams, cause, you know, "through thick and thin" and all that. But losing sucks, so here are alternatives that could be your cool drink of water during this summer sports drought—at least until Bears training camp.

U.S. soccer/Gold Cup

Remember a few years ago, when Landon Donovan's last-second goal vs. Algeria in the Wold Cup actually had people caring about the other "futbol" for a while? That was fun! While the World Cup is not until 2014, the CONCACAF Gold Cup acts as a primer this year, one the United States has a chance to win. The boys in red, white and blue are riding a five-match win streak heading into Tuesday's Gold Cup opener.

National soccer is a great community watch. Even if you don't normally follow it, that didn't stop anyone from enjoying the Blackhawks, so why should it here? The rules are pretty simple, and its concepts are similar to hockey, though at a fraction of the pace and on grass instead of a sheet of ice. You can even watch the tournament's championship match live, as Soldier Field will host.

Soccer's buildup and constant flow make it a perfect sport for the bar. There are even built-in guys to cheer for: Current Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson and former Fire player Damarcus Beasley are on the U.S. roster.

British Open

Golf season is halfway through its major schedule this year, with two remaining, and Tiger Woods hasn't won either this year, so most probably can't name who actually did. Here, I'll help: Adam Scott and Justin Rose. But the PGA Tour's popularity, understandably so, is tied up in Woods, who has been in contention during majors this year.

Will he win the British Open? We'll see—he hasn't played much since the U.S. Open in June, and Muirfield, which hosts the 2013 British, hasn't been kind to him in the past. But the unorthodox courses across the pond do weird things to people, and that might be what he needs.

NBA Summer League

Not sure how much you like Marquis Teague because you never saw him play? He actually plays in the Bulls' Summer League games! These tuneups allow you to watch guys develop, like rising star Jimmy Butler did last year.

You can see all the young fringe players in the NBA, be it first-round picks trying to find their way with a team or hard workers four years removed from college still trying to make the league. This includes old, "Oh my god, it's THAT guy" college players too, like Luke Harangody and Andy Rautins, two members of this year's Bulls summer team. And if the novelty of that wasn't enough, Carlos Boozer has a younger brother, Charles, on the Bulls' squad this summer. More Boozer, more better.

NASCAR

If you're not already a fan, the races do admittedly lose intensity when reduced to the TV screen. But there is something to be said for actually going to the event. The culture surrounding NASCAR is fun, and while it might not be tailored for you, that doesn't mean it's exclusive.

The NASCAR Nationwide series comes to Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet on July 21, the perfect opportunity to drink beer, meet new people and watch cars drive really, really fast.

Play a sport yourself

This is not a lecture to "get off the couch!", but when you watch sports, part of its appeal is the humanity; the players catching feelings. Sports still retain that competitive and personal satisfaction even when millions aren't at stake. This might sound obvious, but they are fun (and admittedly, probably the easiest way to convince yourself to exercise).

They're not hard to find either. Windy City Wanderers and Chicago Sports and Social Club offer chances to join organized teams, or just walk around your neighborhood looking for pickup games. Also, don't forget to stretch.

Adam Lukach is a RedEye special contributor.

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