A pair of frustrating losses Thursday night left two of Chicago’s pro sports teams wondering what could have been. For the Bulls, the end came after a roller coaster year that bottomed out for good after the Miami Heat knocked them out of the playoffs’ first round. For the Cubs, the end came just one month into the season.

“Obviously, it’s disappointing,” said first baseman Todd Walker. “When Derrek [Lee] went down, I thought we’d make it a month or two at least. I guess my predictions are about as solid as my defense.”

Manager Dusty Baker blamed a lack of timely hitting for the failed 2006 campaign.

“We scored just five runs in our last six games,” said Baker. “That’s no way to end the year, man. It’s going to be a long off-season for us, especially since we’ll be playing five months of meaningless games during it.”

On the bright side, Cubs aces Kerry Wood and Mark Prior should be healthy for the start of spring training.

“Cubs fans went through a lot this season,” said GM Jim Hendry. “In a lot of ways, it could have been worse. We could have prolonged the agony. Luckily, our guys knew when to throw in the towel—on May 4.”

Bulls coach Scott Skiles expressed disappointment over his team’s Wednesday night loss to the Miami Heat, but he also voiced sympathy for the Cubs’ situation.

“Any time you get eliminated from the playoffs, it’s difficult,” said Skiles. “I bet that’s twice as tough to take when you’re just one-sixth of the way into the season like the Cubs.”

heckler editorial staff