Axios Chicago

Picture of the Chicago skyline.

It's Thursday! On this day in 1941, the U.S. declared war against Japan after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

🌥 Today's weather: Cloudy with a high of 42.

🌇 Situational awareness: After tonight, sunsets will start a little later.

Today's newsletter is 899 words — a 3.5-minute read. Edited by Everett Cook and copy edited by Rob Reinalda and Keely Bastow.

1 big thing: Winters getting way warmer

A chart showing how winters are warming.

Image courtesy of Climate Central

Despite seeing polar vortexes and close-to-record cold temperatures in the last few years, our winters are actually warming.

  • Every season is warmer today than in 1970, with average winter temperatures increasing the most, according to nonprofit research and journalism organization Climate Central.
Photo of a chart showing temperature rising.
Image courtesy of Climate Central

Driving the news: The average winter temperatures are 3.3°F warmer today than in the 1970s.

  • Since 1970, winters have warmed in 97% of U.S. locales.
  • Chicago is on average with the rest of the country.

Why it matters: Winter warming might be good news for people who hate the cold, but it's bad news for our environment.

  • Seasonal warming means spring and fall allergies are harsher and last on average 13 days longer.
  • And if you're hoping for a white Christmas, it seems snowfall is moving further away from the December holidays.
Data: NOAA; Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios Visual
Data: NOAA; Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios Visual

Yes, but: Don't be fooled — this doesn't mean we won't see extreme snow events.

  • Climate change could be making snowstorms more potent, as rising ocean temperatures and more moisture in the atmosphere cause an uptick in heavy rain and snow, per Axios' Andrew Freedman.

2. Cubs lose Contreras to Cards

Photo of a baseball player holding a glove.

Willson Contreras acknowledges applause from the crowd after a game against the Cincinnati Reds at Wrigley Field on October 2, 2022. Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

MLB's Winter Meetings ended yesterday, but not before a flurry of big signings.

  • What does the free-agent frenzy mean for Chicago baseball?

The Cubs signed former Dodgers outfielder Cody Bellinger, the 2019 NL MVP, though his production has leveled off considerably over the past two seasons.

Yes, but: Fan favorite and All-Star Willson Contreras is not coming back. He reportedly signed a huge contract with the St. Louis Cardinals.

  • Contreras was rumored to be a trade chip at last year's deadline, but Cubs management didn't make a move.
  • Kyle Hendricks is now the last remaining player from the 2016 World Series champion team.

What we're watching: First baseman Matt Mervis could be on tap to start Opening Day. The slugger hit 36 home runs in the minors last year.

Photo of a baseball player hitting a baseball.
White Sox outfield prospect Oscar Colas hits during the 2022 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game. Photo: Rob Tringali/MLB Photos via Getty Images

The other side: After saying goodbye to star José Abreu, White Sox GM Rick Hahn said the team will most likely improve through the trade market — a signal they are not likely to add big salaries in free agency.

Rookie watch: Outfield prospect Oscar Colas could be in play to take over right field after hitting 23 minor league homers last season.

3. Tips and hot links

Illustration of a restaurant-style neon sign featuring the Axios logo, and reading "Tips & Hot Links."

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

🎰 New plans for the Bally's casino removed the outdoor music venue in favor of green space. (Block Club)

🍽 Khmai Fine Dining in Rogers Park is one of the best new restaurants in the U.S. (Eater)

🍿 Iconic Pickwick Theater in Park Ridge announced it will close in January. (ABC 7)

4. "South Side" debuts season 3

Photo of a group of people posing on a stage for the camera.

Cast and crew members of HBO Max "South Side" in Los Angeles in 2021. Photo by Randy Shropshire/Getty Images for The Root

👋 Hi, it's Justin! "South Side" returns for season 3 today on HBO Max.

  • Created by Chicago native Bashir Salahuddin and writing partner Diallo Riddle, the show takes us through hilarious adventures of characters trying to make it on the South Side.

Why it matters: The show is authentically brilliant and succeeds where many Chicago-based shows don't.

  • It feels like these characters have actually lived these storylines, as absurd as they are, and they get the local references right.

State of play: Beyond the creators and stars, the show employs homegrown actors that Chicago audiences have already come to love:

Antoine McKay: He plays Uncle Spike, who traffics black market viagra to senior centers and later sets up an illegal, underground urgent care in the mall.

  • McKay has been featured on several Chicago productions, including "Empire," after spending years doing sketch comedy and improv on local stages like Second City.

Rashawn Scott: Scott plays Kitty, who is hilariously positive and busts into impromptu songs throughout the show.

  • Scott moved here in 2013 and was a mainstage cast member at Second City.

Will Miles: The Chicago-born standup's character is a small role, but he always finds himself hitting funny lines to punctuate scenes. Miles is also a co-producer on the show.

Guy Barile: OK, my real-life uncle was featured in an episode of season 1. I just wanted to point that out 🤣.

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5. Food Fight: Christkindlmarket

Photo of a man drinking out of a mug at an outdoor market.
Nothing like warm wine in the afternoon. Photo: Monica Eng/Axios

If it's December in Chicago, it must be time to eat some overpriced Northern European food at the Christkindlmarket.

  • Or to think of it in a less Scrooge-y way, it's time to enjoy a beloved local tradition in Daley Plaza!

In the name of holiday cheer, we squeezed into the market last Friday night to find our favorite bites.

Justin's pick: I usually get the double bratwurst. But you can't go down to the market without getting a hot mug of gluhwein (often called glogg or mulled wine) in a commemorative cup for $10.

  • Sweet but warming.
  • And now I have a new holiday mug.
Photo of a woman eating fish outside at a market.
Monica looks lovingly at her herring. Photo: Justin Kaufmann/Axios

Monica's pick: I went to the Rollmops: German Seafood and More booth, where I made the mistake of ordering "fish dogs" ($12). I thought they were some sort of fishy sausage — who could resist, right?

  • Instead it was just a boring fish stick sandwich, but the meal was saved by my other order of "Bismark rollmops" — a cold slab of pickled herring ($5) that I plopped into the sandwich, making it deeee-lish.
  • I'm not joking.

📫 Reply to tell us about your go-to Christkindlmarket snacks for next week's list!

Our picks:

🎤 Monica is excited to check out opening night of Andrew Bird's seven night Gezelligheid at Fourth Presbyterian tonight. Review coming Monday.

📺 Justin is back. He watched some really dumb action movies, which is the hallmark of burning vacation days.

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