Cubs

'The Batter's Box' to debut Sunday, July 1 on CSN

'The Batter's Box' to debut Sunday, July 1 on CSN

THE BATTERS BOX, COMCAST SPORTSNETS BRAND NEW CHICAGO BASEBALL TRIVIA GAME SHOW, TO DEBUT SUNDAY, JULY 1

16 Chicago-area baseball trivia experts (8 Cubs, 8 White Sox) to test their wits as they vie for the ultimate Game Day Experience of a Lifetime

Fans at home can visit CSNChicago.com to participate in the Midas Trivia Question of the Week for their chance to win a number of great prizes

Chicago, IL (June 18, 2012) Comcast SportsNet, the television home for the most games and most comprehensive coverage of the Chicago Cubs and White Sox, along with StarPilot Productions, is bringing a brand new Chicago baseball trivia game show to the network as The Batters Box presented by Midas will officially debut on Sunday, July 1 at 5:00 PM (time approx. following Cubs Post Game Live). The show is hosted by Comcast SportsNets Luke Stuckmeyer.

Beginning July 1 and, over the course of 15 weeks, 16 Chicago-area contestants, who auditioned for spots on The Batters Box in May, will be competing against one another as eight Cubs trivia experts & eight White Sox trivia experts battle it out to represent their respective, favorite team, which will ultimately lead to a thrilling Cubs vs. White Sox trivia expert finale this fall.

The Batters Box is the first show of its kind in Chicago to pit passionate and knowledgeable White Sox and Cubs fans against each other in a fun, competitive baseball trivia game show, said Greg Bowman, Vice President of Programming for Comcast SportsNet Chicago. This is truly a unique, local, original programming venture for us that definitely caters to both old and new Chicago baseball fans. Plus, viewers at home will also enjoy playing along to see how much they know about these two historic baseball franchises.

The basis of the game in this half-hour weekly show is simple as contestants must answer multiple-choice questions, while applying baseball logic to move runners around the bases and score runs. The level of difficulty of the questions ranges from a Single (for easier questions) to a Home Run (for the most challenging questions). The player with the most runs at the end of three innings wins. When a player wins, they will advance to the next round.

The Batters Box grand prize winner will receive the ultimate Game Day Experience of a Lifetime, which includes a luxury suite for the winner & their guests at either U.S. Cellular Field or Wrigley Field for a to-be-determined game in 2013, along with a visit to the broadcast booth to the meet the announcers, a visit to the CSN production truck, the opportunity to throw out the ceremonial first pitch, and much more.

In addition, viewers at home can also participate for their chance to win some great Batters Box prizes by visiting CSNChicago.com and correctly answering the Midas Trivia Question of the Week. One random winner among all the correct entries will be chosen each week.

Note the following scheduled first run air datestimes for The Batters Box presented by Midas, along with the Chicago-area contestants participating in the first round (PLEASE NOTE: additional replay airings take place throughout the week; visit CSNChicago.com for The Batters Box TV listings information):

FIRST ROUND
Sun, July 1 at 5:00 PM (Cubs round) Brian Bosley vs. Will Cook
Sun, July 8 at 3:30 PM (White Sox round) Mike Medley vs. Ned Mulka
Sun, July 15 at 4:30 PM (Cubs round) Kristin Lee vs. Beau Thalheimer
Sun, July 22 at 3:30 PM (White Sox round) Milo Berrera vs. Patrick OMalley
Sun, July 29 at 9:30 PM (Cubs round) Monty Childs vs. David Sellars
Sun, Aug. 5 at 4:30 PM (White Sox round) Julie Farby vs. Tony Paink
Sun, Aug. 12 at 4:30 PM (Cubs round) John Dooley vs. Anthony Hoffman
Sun, Aug. 19 at 4:30 PM (White Sox round) Antonio Barrentez vs. Tom Pauly

QUARTERFINALS
Sun, Aug. 26 at 4:00 PM (Cubs quarterfinals, contestants TBD)
Sun, Sept. 2 at 4:00 PM (White Sox quarterfinals, contestants TBD)
Sun, Sept. 9 at 6:00 PM (Cubs quarterfinals, contestants TBD)
Sun, Sept. 16 at 4:30 PM (White Sox quarterfinals, contestants TBD)

SEMIFINALS
Sun, Sept. 23 at 7:30 PM (Cubs semifinals, contestants TBD)
Sun, Sept. 30 at 4:30 PM (White Sox semifinals, contestants TBD)

CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
Sun, Oct. 7 at 7:30 PM (White Sox champion vs. Cubs champion, contestants TBD)

Would trading Kyle Schwarber begin to solve pitching issues that run much deeper than Chris Bosio?

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USA TODAY

Would trading Kyle Schwarber begin to solve pitching issues that run much deeper than Chris Bosio?

The Cubs now apparently believe they are a stronger organization without Chris Bosio, firing a pitching coach known for his strong convictions, brutal honesty and bottom-line results in a move that doesn’t seem like an actual solution.

Hiring Jim Hickey – who has a good reputation from his years with the Tampa Bay Rays, a close friendship with Joe Maddon and what looks like a slam-dunk interview lined up for Monday – might make the manager feel more comfortable and less isolated.

But the new-voice/different-direction spin doesn’t fundamentally address the pitching issues facing a team that needs to replace 40 percent of the rotation and find an established closer and has zero expectations those answers will come from within the farm system.

This is an operation that won a seven-game World Series last year without a homegrown player throwing a single pitch.     

If the Cubs can say thanks for the memories and dump “Boz,” what about “Schwarbs?”

Advancing to the National League Championship Series in three straight seasons doesn’t happen without Bosio or Kyle Schwarber. But the fastest way for the Cubs to dramatically improve their pitching staff isn’t finding someone else who thinks it’s important to throw strikes. It could mean breaking up The Core and severing another emotional attachment.   

Theo Epstein saw Schwarber play for Indiana University and used the Fenway Park frame of reference, envisioning him as a combination of David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia with his left-handed power and energizer personality.

Epstein wasn’t the only Cubs official to develop a man-crush on Schwarber, but he’s the only one with ultimate control over baseball operations. Epstein’s style isn’t pounding the table as much as the ability to frame questions in the draft room, gather as many opinions as possible before the trade deadline and at the winter meetings, trying to form a consensus.

“I will say that it’s really an organization-wide evaluation of this player, but I’m not skirting responsibility,” Epstein said. “I’ll happily endorse him as the type of player that we want to win with here at the Cubs, and have won with. I don’t know, the fact that he hit 30 bombs in a bad year is a good start.

“But power is not everything. I think he fell into this year becoming more of a slugger and less of a hitter than he really is. It’s important for him to get his identity back as a dangerous hitter. Honestly, I think we feel he has the potential to be an all-around hitter on the level of an Anthony Rizzo. When he reaches his prime, that’s what he could be.”

Where will that be? As a designated hitter in the American League? That’s obvious speculation, but Schwarber has improved as an outfield defender – his strong throw at Dodger Stadium led to another NLCS Maddon Moment where the manager compared the Buster Posey Rule to the Chicago soda tax.      

A 43-45 record at the All-Star break also exposed some of the weaknesses in the clubhouse and downsides to Maddon’s methods. The Cubs flipped a switch in the second half, got hot in September and had the guts to beat the Washington Nationals in the playoffs. But that doesn’t completely wipe away the concerns about a group that at times seemed too casual and unfocused and didn’t play with enough edge. For better or worse, Schwarber approaches the game like a blitzing linebacker.

“He’s got a certain toughness and certain leadership qualities that are hard to find,” Epstein said, “and that we don’t necessarily have in surplus, in abundance, running around in this clubhouse, in this organization.

“A certain energy and grit and ability to bring people together – that’s important and we rely on it. But the biggest thing is his bat. We think he’s the type of offensive player that you build around, along with a couple other guys like him.”

Maddon would never admit it, but was the Schwarber leadoff experiment a mistake?

“I’ll judge that one based on the results and say yeah,” Epstein said. “I think we can talk about the process that went into it. Or in an alternate universe: Does it pan out? But those are just words. It didn’t work.

“Everything that went into Kyle’s really surprising and difficult first half of the season, we should look to correct, because that shouldn’t happen. He’s a way better hitter than that. What he did after coming back from Iowa proves it.”

In the same way that Maddon should own what happens with the next pitching coach, Epstein will ultimately have to decide Schwarber’s future.

Schwarber didn’t complain or pout when he got sent down to Triple-A Iowa this summer, finishing with 30 homers, a .782 OPS, a .211 batting average and a 30.9 strikeout percentage.    

Trading Schwarber would mean selling lower and take another team having the same gut instincts the Cubs did in the 2014 draft – and offering the talented, controllable starting pitcher that sometimes seems like a unicorn.

Is Schwarber still the legend from last year’s World Series? An all-or-nothing platoon guy? An intriguing trade chip? A franchise player? Eventually, the Cubs are going to find out.

“We have to look to do everything we can,” Epstein said, “and more importantly he has to look to do everything he can to get him to a point where he’s consistently the quality hitter and tough out and dangerous bat in the middle of the lineup that we know he can be.

“He wasn’t for the first half of this year – and he knows it and he feels awful about it. He worked his tail off to get back to having a pretty darn good second half and getting some big hits for us down the stretch.”

And then the offseason was only hours old by the time the Cubs showed they will be keeping an open mind about everything this winter, not afraid to make big changes.

Jake Arrieta shaved his beard again and he keeps looking younger

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USA TODAY

Jake Arrieta shaved his beard again and he keeps looking younger

It's become a tradition that Jake Arrieta shaves his beard after the season ends.

The 31-year-old did it again days after the Cubs were eliminated from the 2017 postseason, and it's still a sight we'll never be used to seeing.

Check it out:

Weird, right?

Here's how he looked following the Cubs' World Series win in 2016:

And again in 2015:

It's crazy how much younger he looks.