Cubs

Bulls NBA Playoffs action returns to CSN (Game 1 coverage begins Saturday at 11:30 a.m.)

Bulls NBA Playoffs action returns to CSN (Game 1 coverage begins Saturday at 11:30 a.m.)

CHICAGO BULLS NBA PLAYOFFS ACTION RETURNS TO COMCAST SPORTSNET
First Round Coverage Begins this Saturday, April 28 at 11:30 AM
Network to carry exclusive local TV coverage of Bulls vs. Sixers Game 1-3 (5-7 if nec.)

CSNChicago.com to provide LIVE video stream of EVERY Bulls post-game press conference, plus exclusive behind-the-scenes video and post-game reports from Bulls Insider Aggrey Sam

Chicago, IL (April 27, 2012) Comcast SportsNet, the television home for the most games and most comprehensive coverage of the NBA Eastern Conference champion Chicago Bulls (who, for the second-straight season, finished the regular season with the NBAs best overall record; tied with San Antonio at 50-16), is ready to deliver electrifying 2012 NBA Playoffs action as the Bulls look to continue their amazing season run in first round action against the Philadelphia 76ers. Comcast SportsNet will be the exclusive local television home in the Chicago market to see live coverage of Games 1-3, along with Games 5-7 (if necessary), plus every Comcast SportsNet Bulls playoff game telecast will also be presented in a high-definition (HD) format.

Comcast SportsNets Chicago BullsNBA Playoffs coverage gets underway this Saturday, April 28 beginning at 11:30 AM with exclusive local home team call coverage of Game 1 between the Bulls and Sixers live from the United Center. The always-entertaining Comcast SportsNet Bulls announcing tandem of Neil Funk and Stacey King will have the call for every first round telecast, plus Comcast SportsNets Gail Fischer will provide in-stadium reports throughout the first round. Coverage for Game 1 gets underway with McDonalds Bulls Pre-Game Live at 11:30 AM live from the United Center featuring Mark Schanowski and Kendall Gill; opening tip-off is set for 12 NOON. Plus, immediately following all playoff games Kia Bulls Post Game Live will feature live locker room interviews, detailed analysis, along with head coach Tom Thibodeaus post-game press conferences and numerous player interviews. (Comcast SportsNets complete Bulls first round coverage schedule is included in this release.)

Throughout the playoffs, viewers can also look forward to SportsNet Central: Playoff Central (scheduled nightly at 10:30 PM, times may vary due to airing of live events) for the most in-depth BullsNBA Playoffs coverage, including game recaps, previews, up-to-the-minute teamplayer updates, interviews and numerous playoff highlights from around the league.

Also, throughout the playoffs, Comcast SportsNets comprehensive website, CSNChicago.com, will provide fans with even more exclusive BullsNBA Playoffs content including the following:
CSNChicago.com will stream EVERY Bulls postgame press conference LIVE providing insider access to coach Tom Thibodeau addressing the media as it happens.
CSNChicago.com Bulls Insider Aggrey Sam will be on-site -- for EVERY Bulls playoff game -- filing stories and video for each game and team practices, plus Sam will provide up-to-the-second Tweets via @CSNBullsInsider throughout the series.
New-look Bulls team page offers latest news, player interviews, highlights, video and more 247
Game highlights available on CSNChicago.com following every game along with Game Story, a web-exclusive recap of each game.
Bulls Talk (@BullsTalkCSN) offers news, views and analysis from Sam, blogger Tony Andracki, Bulls PrePostgame hosts Mark Schanowski (@MarkSchanowski) and Kendall Gill as well as other CSNChicago.com contributors.
Additional NBA Playoffs coverage content sharingcross-promotion via NBCSports.com & ProBasketballTalk.com.
CSNChicago.coms Bulls news is presented by Suzuki; Bulls Talk sponsored by Illinois Back Institute

Note the following first round schedule of games and additional coverage information on Comcast SportsNet:

CHICAGO BULLS vs. PHILADELPHIA 76ers on COMCAST SPORTSNET

Game 1: Sat, April 28, NOON Bulls vs. Sixers (United Center) in HD

(NOTES: Bulls Pre-Game Live at 11:30 amBulls Post Game Live after the game, plus SportsNet Central at 9:30 pm, 10:00 pm, 10:30 pm and midnight to provide even more comprehensive BullsNBA Playoffs coverage; game replay at 11:00 pm)

Game 2: Tue, May 1, 7:00 pm Bulls vs. Sixers (United Center) in HD
(NOTES: Bulls Pre-Game Live at 6:30 pmBulls Post Game Live after the game; GMC SportsNet Central to follow; game replay at 11:00 pm)

-- IMPORTANT CUBS NOTE: The Cubs at Cincinnati game (originally scheduled on Comcast SportsNet at 6:00 pm) will now move to CSN (or CLTV in the Chicago market).

Game 3: Fri, May 4, 7:00 pm Bulls at Sixers (Wells Fargo Center) in HD

(NOTES: Bulls Pre-Game Live at 6:30 pmBulls Post Game Live after the game; GMC SportsNet Central airs at 10:00 pm; game replay at 11:00 pm)

-- IMPORTANT WHITE SOX NOTE: The White Sox at Detroit game (originally scheduled on Comcast SportsNet at 6:00 pm) will now move to CSN (or CLTV in the Chicago market).

Game 4: Sun, May 6 at approx. 3:30 pm Kia Bulls Post Game Live on Comcast SportsNet

Game 5: Tue, May 8 (Time TBD) Bulls vs. Sixers (United Center) (if necessary) in HD

Game 6: Thu, May 10 (Time TBD) Bulls at Sixers (Wells Fargo Center) (if necessary) in HD

Game 7: Sat, May 12 (Time TBD) Bulls vs. Sixers (United Center) (if necessary) in HD

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

jarrieta.jpg
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.