Cubs

Bad news for Cowboys fans

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Bad news for Cowboys fans

From Comcast SportsNetIRVING, Texas (AP) -- The Dallas Cowboys might be without wide receiver Dez Bryant for their playoff push.Bryant injured his left index finger in an emotional 20-19 victory over Cincinnati on Sunday, one day after practice squad linebacker Jerry Brown was killed in a car accident that landed defensive tackle Josh Brent in jail on intoxication manslaughter charges.Dallas coach Jason Garrett said Monday that Bryant was still being evaluated. The Cowboys play Pittsburgh at home Sunday in a battle of 7-6 teams trying to keep playoff hopes alive.Bryant re-entered the game after sustaining the injury and caught a touchdown pass that pulled the Cowboys to 19-17 in the fourth quarter. Dallas won on a field goal by Dan Bailey on the final play."I think adrenaline sometimes allows players to continue to play after they've had an injury," Garrett said. "He certainly made a big play in the ballgame, and I think that's a real tribute to his toughness and his love for the game."If Bryant ends up on injured reserve, he will be the fifth Dallas starter sidelined by a season-ending injury. The other four are defenders, and nickel cornerback Orlando Scandrick is out for the year with a hand injury. Nose tackle Jay Ratliff has missed seven games with ankle and groin injuries.Brent was set to make his fifth start in Ratliff's place against the Bengals, but police say he was speeding and drunk when the vehicle he was driving clipped a curb and flipped in the Dallas suburb of Irving early Saturday, hours before he was to be on the team flight to Cincinnati. Brown was found unresponsive at the scene and pronounced dead at a hospital.Garrett told the team about Brown's death on the plane just before takeoff. The Cowboys kept an empty locker for Brown in the visitor's locker room at Paul Brown Stadium, and Jason Hatcher raised Brown's No. 53 jersey over his head as he walked on the field after Bailey's winning kick."I think it's the most emotional game that I've ever been a part of anywhere, player, coach," Garrett said Monday. "You're trying to place life and football in some kind of context together and it doesn't really fit and you don't really have a whole lot of time to kind of process it."Garrett said the Cowboys "absolutely" will carry Brown's death with them for the rest of the season and beyond. But they still have the postseason to pursue. Dallas is still a game behind Chicago and Seattle for the two wild-card spots in the NFC, and the New York Giants stayed a game ahead in the NFC East by beating New Orleans."It was difficult for us to do it in Cincinnati, but it's just the reality of life," Garrett said. "We have to continue to move on. We have to honor Jerry. We have to help Josh any way that we can. But then we have to get back to work."

When Kyle Schwarber met new Cubs hitting coach Chili Davis: 'I don't suck'

When Kyle Schwarber met new Cubs hitting coach Chili Davis: 'I don't suck'

MESA, Ariz. — The first thing Kyle Schwarber told his new hitting coach?

"His first statement to me is, 'I don't suck.'"

The Cubs hired Chili Davis as the team's new hitting coach for myriad reasons. He's got a great track record from years working with the Boston Red Sox and Oakland Athletics, and that .274/.360/.451 slash line during an illustrious 19-year big league career certainly helps.

But Davis' main immediate task in his new gig will be to help several of the Cubs' key hitters prove Schwarber's assessment correct.

Schwarber had a much-publicized tough go of things in 2017. After he set the world on fire with his rookie campaign in 2015 and returned from what was supposed to be a season-ending knee injury in time to be one of the Cubs' World Series heroes in 2016, he hit just .211 last season, getting sent down to Triple-A Iowa for a stint in the middle of the season. Schwarber still hit 30 home runs, but his 2017 campaign was seen as a failure by a lot of people.

Enter Davis, who now counts Schwarber as one of his most important pupils.

"He's a worker," Davis said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago. "Schwarbs, he knows he's a good player. His first statement to me is, 'I don't suck.' He said last year was just a fluke year. He said, 'I've never failed in my life.' And he said, 'I'm going to get back to the player that I was.'

"I think he may have — and this is my thought, he didn't say this to me — I think it may have been, he had a big World Series, hit some homers, and I think he tried to focus on being more of a home run type guy as opposed to being a good hitter.

"His focus has changed. I had nothing to do with that, he came in here with that focus that he wants to be a good hitter first and let whatever happens happen. And he's worked on that. The main thing with Kyle is going to be is just maintaining focus."

The physically transformed Schwarber mentioned last week that he's established a good relationship with Davis, in no small part because Schwarber can relate to what Davis went through when he was a player. And to hear Davis tell it, it sounds like he's describing Schwarber's first three years as a big leaguer to a T.

"Telling him my story was important because it was similar," Davis said. "I was a catcher, got to big league camp, and I was thrown in the outfield. And I hated the outfield. ... But I took on the challenge. I made the adjustment, I had a nice first year, then my second year I started spiraling. I started spiraling down, and I remember one of my coaches saying, 'I'm going to have to throw you a parachute just so you can land softly.' I got sent down to Triple-A at the All-Star break for 15 days.

"When I got sent down, I was disappointed, but I was also really happy. I needed to get away from the big league pressure and kind of find myself again. I went home and refocused myself and thought to myself, 'I'm going to come back as Chili.' Because I tried to change, something changed about me the second year.

"And when I did that, I came back the next year and someone tried to change me and I said, 'Pump the breaks a little bit, let me fail my way, and then I'll come to you if I'm failing.' And they understood that, and I had a nice year, a big year and my career took off.

"I'm telling him, 'Hey, let last year go. It happened, it's in the past. Keep working hard, maintain your focus, and you'll be fine.'"

Getting Schwarber right isn't Davis' only task, of course. Despite the Cubs being one of the highest-scoring teams in baseball last season, they had plenty of guys go through subpar seasons. Jason Heyward still has yet to find his offensive game since coming to Chicago as a high-priced free agent. Ben Zobrist was bothered by a wrist injury last season and put up the worst numbers of his career. Addison Russell had trouble staying healthy, as well, and saw his numbers dip from what they were during the World Series season in 2016.

So Davis has plenty of charges to work with. But he likes what he's seen so far.

"They work," Davis said. "They come here to work. I had a group of guys in Boston that were the same last year, and it makes my job easier. They want to get better, they come out every day, they show up, they want to work. They're excited, and I'm excited to be around them.

And what have the Cubs found out about Davis? Just about everyone answers that question the same way: He likes to talk.

"I'm not going to stop talking," he said. "If I stop talking, something's wrong."

Podcast: Which Blackhawks could be on the move before trade deadline?

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USA TODAY

Podcast: Which Blackhawks could be on the move before trade deadline?

On the latest Blackhawks Talk Podcast, Adam Burish and Pat Boyle discuss which Blackhawks could be on the trading block and what players are building blocks for the Hawks future.

Burish also shares a couple memorable trade deadline days and his “near” return to the Blackhawks in 2012. Plus, he makes his bold trade deadline prediction for the Hawks.

Listen to the full Blackhawks Talk Podcast right here: