Cubs

Where Joe Maddon, Craig Counsell stand on Cubs-Brewers time change

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USA TODAY

Where Joe Maddon, Craig Counsell stand on Cubs-Brewers time change

When the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal reported last week that the Brewers “vigorously objected” Friday night’s time change from 1:20 p.m. to 7:05 p.m. at Wrigley Field, it fueled the division rivalry — and weekend series — even more.

Especially at this time of the year, any competitive advantage would be appreciated for either side, no doubt. Both teams are fighting for the division lead in the NL Central, where the Cubs have a five-game advantage over the Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals entering Friday.

While the Brewers — who had the day off on Thursday — were reportedly upset last week when they heard about the time change, Cubs manager Joe Maddon thought it was the right thing to do. He stood by that — and situations like this — for a while, and he didn't back down in his pregame media session.

"There’s no reason it shouldn’t always be a Friday night (game). Period," Maddon said. "It’s a big deal right now but it shouldn’t be. Friday night baseball is appropriate. It should always be appropriate. There’s plenty of time on the weekends to enjoy Saturdays and Sundays. I’m happy that it turned out this way but it should always be this way."

Surely, the Cubs were happy with the time change since they had to return to Chicago from Pittsburgh following their Thursday night game, which featured an impromptu 52-minute rain delay to start the game.

Though it may have given the defending World Series champions an extra few hours to rest, Brewers manager Craig Counsell understands why the change was made.

"It’s an advantage for them to have the game changed to tonight, yes," Counsell said. "Because nobody wants to sleep for five hours and then have to come out and play. So we would obviously have preferred the other way, but the game’s at 7, let’s go. Let’s go play."

If the scenario was flipped, would the Brewers feel the same way?

"If we had a chance to change it, I think we would have," said Counsell. "We would have tried to. Would they have let us? Maybe a bigger question. But that gets into the conspiracy part of the world."

Sounds familiar, right?

This obviously isn't the first time the Brewers had an issue with the Cubs this season.

In May, Counsell threw major shade at the North Siders after a scheduled game was postponed due to rain in which Milwaukee believed was prematurely called. The Brewers skipper half-jokingly said it was the first time his players were treated for sunburn after a rainout.

Friday's time change added another layer to a rivalry that's ready to boil over. And things could get interesting with less than a month of baseball left to play.

What Chicago sports fans should be thankful for

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USA TODAY

What Chicago sports fans should be thankful for

Families gather and people talk about things they are thankful for on Thanksgiving, but what are Chicago sports fans happy for now?

Raised expectations on the North Side

Got to be thankful that a “disappointing” season is winning the division and losing in the NLCS. The expectations have skyrocketed, and that’s thanks to a ridiculous nucleus of bats and a steady front office. Not many clubs can say that. Also, though, it’s important to be appreciative of the Wrigley bar stretch. They may charge $8 for a Miller Lite, but it’s always a damn good party.

Javy tags, too. Don't forget Javy tags.

Rebuild sparking hope in White Sox fans

Where to begin? Obviously, be thankful for the plethora of young talent that will soon take over the South Side. Be thankful for Avi Time (while you still can). Be thankful that taking your friends or family to a game won’t cause you to take out a second mortgage. Be thankful for the 2020 World Series and, of course, 2020 MVP Eloy Jimenez. But most importantly, be thankful that Rick Hahn’s phone stays buzzing.

Eddie O back in the booth for the Blackhawks

The Blackhawks are having a rough start to the season, but at least Eddie Olczyk is back in the booth. The longtime Blackhawks broadcaster returned to the booth on Oct. 18 after missing time while undergoing chemotherapy treatments for colon cancer.

With some of the key names from the Blackhawks’ title runs either leaving or being unable to play this season (in the case of Marian Hossa), Blackhawks fans are probably thankful to see a familiar face and hear a familiar voice during games.

Lauri Markkanen leading the Bulls rebuild

OK, there’s not much to be thankful for about the current Bulls team. At 3-13, the Bulls are tied for the fewest wins in the NBA (maybe in the long-term that’s something to be thankful for as well). However, Zach LaVine’s pending debut after his eventual return from injury should help create some excitement.

The thing Bulls fans really should be thankful for this year is the play of rookie Lauri Markkanen. The 20-year-old leads the team in scoring (14.6 points per game) and rebounds (8.3 per game) while shooting at a high percentage (34.2 percent on threes and 50.6 percent on twos). It’s only the beginning of the Bulls’ rebuild, but Markkanen is a good start.

Mitchapalooza

If a few things broke the Bears’ way, Chicagoans could have been grateful that the team was finally out of the cellar. Instead, we’ll settle for the fact that there seems to be some building blocks already in place. Mitchell Trubisky, Tarik Cohen, Leonard Floyd and Akiem Hicks seem to fit that category. Also, some may be thankful that this is likely John Fox’s last season at the helm.

Fire ending a playoff drought

After finishing dead last in MLS in 2015 and 2016, the Fire were one of the most improved teams in the league in 2017. After posting the third best record in the league, the Fire made a first playoff appearance since 2012.

The playoff run didn’t last long with the Fire losing a play-in game at home, but the arrival of Bastian Schweinsteiger and the league’s leading goal-scorer, Nemanja Nikolic, helped fill the stadium with six sellouts and gave Fire fans something to cheer for.

Cubs Talk Podcast: Where do Cubs go from here with Jake Arrieta, Wade Davis?

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Where do Cubs go from here with Jake Arrieta, Wade Davis?

In the latest CubsTalk Podcast, Kelly Crull and David Kaplan look ahead to Thanksgiving and discuss the official coaching hires for the Cubs.

They also talk about where the Cubs go from here with Jake Arrieta and Wade Davis, whether Alex Cobb could factor into the rotation plans and Kap goes off on the 11:30 a.m. Opening Day start time.

Check out the entire podcast here: