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CSN announces its 2016 Cubs on-air/digital coverage details

CSN announces its 2016 Cubs on-air/digital coverage details

86 Game Regular Season Schedule begins April 5, 9:00 PM at the LA Angels on CSN+ featuring Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies with the call all season long!

Plus – Exclusive Cubs content 24/7 on CSNChicago.com, Every Home and Road Game in HD, “Crosstown Cup” action vs. White Sox and much more!

Chicago, IL (March 24, 2016) – Comcast SportsNet -- the television home for the most games and most comprehensive coverage of 2016 Chicago Cubs featuring  National League “Rookie of the Year” Kris Bryant (26 HRs, 99 RBI), National League “Cy Young Award” winner Jake Arrieta (22-6, 1.77 ERA w/236 K’s), National League “Manager of the Year” Joe Maddon (led Cubs to 97 wins/NLCS appearance), two-time NL All-Star first baseman Anthony Rizzo (63 HRs, 179 RBI over the past two seasons), veteran starter Jon Lester (3.34 ERA over 32 starts last year), rookie sensations Kyle Schwarber & Addison Russell, newcomers Jason Heyward (winner of three NL Gold Gloves; 23 stolen bases in ‘15), second baseman Brent Zobrist (two-time AL All-Star), and John Lackey (2.77 ERA & tied for NL lead w/33 starts last year), along the return of veteran outfielder Dexter Fowler and young stars Jorge Soler & Javier Baez among others -- has announced its upcoming Cubs telecast schedule and accompanying on-air network coverage and digital coverage on CSNChicago.com.  Comcast SportsNet’s season-long coverage of the 2016 Chicago Cubs is presented by State Farm.

The 2016 Cubs season on Comcast SportsNet includes 86 live regular season games with the first telecast taking place on Tuesday, April 5 at 9:00 PM CT on CSN+, as the Cubs travel to face the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium of Anaheim featuring the popular Cubs announcing tandem of Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies with the game call.  (NOTE: Viewers are urged to visit CSNChicago.com’s CHANNEL FINDER page for the exact CSN+ channel location in their area).  Coverage gets underway on Cubs Pregame Live presented by Fields Auto Group beginning at 8:30 PM with host David Kaplan and studio analyst Todd Hollandsworth, along with CSN’s Cubs beat reporter Kelly Crull providing live reports from Anaheim.  The game will be immediately followed by an expanded edition of Cubs Postgame Live presented by BlueCross BlueShield of Illinois.

Comcast SportsNet’s first home Cubs telecast of the 2016 campaign will take place on Wednesday, April 13 on CSN+, as the Cubs host the division rival Cincinnati Reds at Wrigley Field (pre-game coverage begins with Cubs Pregame Live presented by Fields Auto Group at 6:30 PM; first pitch is set for 7:00 PM).

In-game highlights of note for the 2016 Cubs season include a brand new NBC Sports graphics package, along with the return of CSN’s popular super slo-mo technology, which is capable of showing slow-motion replays of over 2,000 frames per second.  In addition, fans can once again look forward to “Pitch Trax” in all games this season, which animates the precise pitch location throughout the game in a variety of angles, along with CSN’s “Telestrator” in select game telecasts this season, detailing key plays, defensive field formations and much more.  Plus, viewers will once again get an in-depth look at MLB’s instant-replay system, which, upon a manager’s challenge, will review home runs, ground rule doubles, fan interference, along with numerous other in-game scenarios.

Among the 2016 Cubs regular season schedule highlights on Comcast SportsNet -- featuring 49 weeknight primetime starts -- include 42 NL Central battles highlighted by games against the three-time defending division champion St. Louis Cardinals (10 games), ’15 NL Wildcard Game opponent Pittsburgh Pirates (10 games), I-90 rival Milwaukee Brewers (11 games), along with the Cincinnati Reds (11 games).  In addition, viewers can look forward to three games against ’15 NLCS opponent/defending National League champion New York Mets, three games against the two-time defending NL West champion Los Angeles Dodgers, four games against NL MVP Bryce Harper and the Washington Nationals, plus - an expanded interleague schedule including games against AL West foes LA Angels, Houston, Seattle and Oakland.  ALSO -- Comcast SportsNet will carry all four Cubs-White Sox “Crosstown Cup” interleague games this year (NOTE: the July 26 & 28 “Crosstown” games will be “Cubs” telecasts on Comcast SportsNet, while the July 25 & 27 games will be “White Sox” telecasts).

For the fourth-straight season, Cubs play-by-play man Len Kasper and former MLB pitcher/veteran game analyst Jim Deshaies join forces for every Cubs telecast on CSN.  Plus, Comcast SportsNet’s David Kaplan will be joined by former Cubs/MLB standout Todd Hollandsworth before and after the majority of Comcast SportsNet Cubs telecasts on Cubs Pregame Live presented by Fields Auto Group and Cubs Postgame Live presented by BlueCross BlueShield of Illinois.        

From an online perspective, Comcast SportsNet’s website, CSNChicago.com, delivers comprehensive 24/7 Cubs coverage all season long, including the following highlights:

  • Live stream of Cubs manager Joe Maddon’s post-game press conferences (sponsored by Xfinity) following every home game.
  • Cubs “Insider” Patrick Mooney returns for his seventh season on the beatFollow him on Twitter @CSNMooney for the latest team/player news and inside access 24/7.  Mooney will also file daily stories/video reports and will make regular on-air appearances throughout the season on Cubs Pregame Live presented by Fields Auto Group, SportsTalk Live, SportsNet Central and in select Comcast SportsNet Cubs home games.
  • Cubs Pre/Postgame Live host David Kaplan will once again offer on-going reports and insight via his popular “The Kapman” posts, which will include exclusive video content.  Kaplan can also be followed on Twitter 24/7 @thekapman, for up-to-the-second Cubs news. 
  • “Cubs Pulse,” a one-stop social media hub that reveals the latest trending topics and player buzz from Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.  Plus, “Cubs Pulse” aggregates all Cubs player tweets, along with fan tweets that utilize the hashtag #CubsTalk. Fans can also get interactive on Twitter by utilizing hashtags #CubsTalk for the latest news, rumors, trades and more by following @CSNCubs.
  • CSNChicago.com digital baseball reporters Tony Andracki (@TonyAndracki23) and JJ Stankevitz (@JJStankevitz) will also be providing game day reports, analysis and features.
  • In addition to his on-air duties, Kaplan will partner with Mooney and CSN’s Cubs beat reporter Kelly Crull (@Kelly_Crull)this season on CSNChicago.com, providing multi-platform coverage via on-going special features and more. 
  • CubsTalk, CSNChicago.com’s high-velocity, real-time, comprehensive Cubs news and opinion section featuring original commentary, reporting and aggregation. CubsTalk is under the banner of NBC SportsTalk, NBC’s successful digital franchise on NBCSports.com that includes ProFootballTalk, HardballTalk, ProBaskteballTalk, ProHockeyTalk, CollegeFootballTalk and GolfTalkCentral. SportsTalk was extended to CSNChicago.com through the creation of BlackhawksTalk, BullsTalk, CubsTalk, WhiteSoxTalk, ChiFireTalk, BearsTalk, PrepsTalk, IrishTalk and B1GTalk which contains interactive content and continually updated insights from the network’s digital and on-air talent.
  • The Honda Road Ahead,” presented by the Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana Honda Dealers, will provide fans with an expanded look at upcoming Cubs opponents and key pitching match-ups.
  • CSN Chicago’s Cubs content will also be distributed via its digital network of partnerships including NBCSports.com, NBCNews.com, Yahoo! Sports and Xfinity.com.

For the ninth-straight season, Comcast SportsNet will produce every Cubs regular season home and road game in a high-definition (HD) format.   In addition, ten Cubs games are currently scheduled to be telecast on Comcast SportsNet Plus (see attached schedule).  Comcast SportsNet Plus (CSN+) telecasts are provided to Comcast SportsNet affiliates and distributed to viewers when two live events are scheduled simultaneously.  CSN+ is available in high-definition on Comcast/Xfinity ch. 201 in the Chicago area/South Bend, IN & on Comcast/Xfinity ch. 285 in the Peoria, Springfield, Rockford and Champaign markets, along with being made available in DIRECTV, DISH Network, AT&T U-verse, RCN, and WOW! homes among others; viewers are urged to visit CSNChicago.com’s CHANNEL FINDER for complete channel location details). Comcast Cable and RCN subscribers can also watch all CSN+ games in standard definition on CLTV. 

Before a number of Cubs games on Comcast SportsNet (including all weekend telecasts), fans can tune to Cubs Pregame Live presented by Fields Auto Group featuring a half-hour of pre-game analysis, interviews and the very latest Cubs news (NOTE: for weeknight 7:00 PM game start times or earlier, pre-game coverage can be found SportsTalk Live presented by The Chevy Silverado featuring host David Kaplan or SportsNet Central presented by Comcast Business).  Following the majority of all games, viewers can look forward to the most comprehensive post-game wrap-up show on Cubs Postgame Live presented by BlueCross BlueShield of Illinois featuring live coverage of Cubs manager Joe Maddon’s post-game press conferences and live locker room interviews with Cubs players.  Following primetime editions of Cubs Postgame Live, Comcast SportsNet will air GMC SportsNet Central with the most complete recap of the day’s top local and national sports news.

Comcast SportsNet
2016 Chicago Cubs Schedule

Regular Season: (every game available in HD)

1. Tue, Apr 5 9:00 pm @ Los Angeles Angels (CSN+) 
2. Thu, Apr 7 8:30 pm @ Arizona (CSN+)
3. Sat, Apr 9 7:00 pm @ Arizona
4. Wed, Apr 13 7:00 pm vs. Cincinnati (CSN+)
5. Thu, Apr 14 7:00 pm vs. Cincinnati
6. Fri, Apr 15 1:20 pm vs. Colorado
7. Sat, Apr 16 1:20 pm vs. Colorado
8. Tue, Apr 19 7:00 pm @ St. Louis
9. Wed, Apr 20 12:30 pm @ St. Louis
10. Thu, Apr 21 6:00 pm @ Cincinnati
11. Sat, Apr 23 6:00 pm @ Cincinnati
12. Tue, Apr 26 7:00 pm vs. Milwaukee
13. Thu, Apr 28 1:20 pm vs. Milwaukee
14. Fri, Apr 29 1:20 pm vs. Atlanta
15. Mon, May 2 6:00 pm @ Pittsburgh
16. Wed, May 4 11:30 am @ Pittsburgh
17. Thu, May 5 7:00 pm vs. Washington (CSN+)
18. Fri, May 6 1:20 pm vs. Washington
19. Sat, May 7 3:00 pm vs. Washington
20. Mon, May 9 7:00 pm vs. San Diego
21. Wed, May 11 7:00 pm vs. San Diego
22. Sun, May 15 1:20 pm vs. Pittsburgh
23. Tue, May 17 7:00 pm @ Milwaukee
24. Thu, May 19 12:30 pm @ Milwaukee
25. Mon, May 23 7:00 pm @ St. Louis
26. Tue, May 24 7:00 pm @ St. Louis
27. Fri, May 27 1:20 pm vs. Philadelphia
28. Wed, June 1 7:00 pm vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
29. Thu, June 2 1:20 pm vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
30. Fri, June 3 1:20 pm vs. Arizona
31. Sun, June 5 1:20 pm vs. Arizona
32. Mon, June 6 6:00 pm @ Philadelphia
33. Wed, June 8 12:00 pm @ Philadelphia
34. Fri, June 10 6:30 pm @ Atlanta
35. Sat, June 11 3:00 pm @ Atlanta
36. Mon, June 13 6:00 pm @ Washington
37. Sun, June 19 1:20 pm vs. Pittsburgh
38. Mon, June 20 7:00 pm vs. St. Louis
39. Thu, June 23 6:00 pm @ Miami
40. Fri, June 24 6:00 pm @ Miami
41. Tue, June 28 6:00 pm @ Cincinnati
42. Thu, June 30 6:00 pm @ New York Mets
43. Tue, July 5 1:20 pm vs. Cincinnati
44. Wed, July 6 1:20 pm vs. Cincinnati
45. Fri, July 8 6:00 pm @ Pittsburgh
46. Fri, July 15 1:20 pm vs. Texas
47. Tue, July 19 7:00 pm vs. New York Mets
48. Fri, July 22 7:00 pm @ Milwaukee (CSN+)
49. Tue, July 26 7:00 pm @ White Sox
50. Thu, July 28 7:00 pm vs. White Sox
51. Fri, July 29 1:20 pm vs. Seattle
52. Sat, July 30 1:20 pm vs. Seattle
53. Sun, July 31 1:20 pm vs. Seattle
54. Tue, Aug 2 7:00 pm vs. Miami (CSN+)
55. Wed, Aug 3 1:20 pm vs. Miami
56. Fri, Aug 5 9:00 pm @ Oakland (CSN+)
57. Sat, Aug 6 3:00 pm @ Oakland
58. Wed, Aug 10 7:00 pm vs. Los Angeles Angels (CSN+)
59. Thu, Aug 11 7:00 pm vs. St. Louis
60. Sun, Aug 14 1:20 pm vs. St. Louis
61. Wed, Aug 17 7:00 pm vs. Milwaukee
62. Thu, Aug 18 1:20 pm vs. Milwaukee
63. Fri, Aug 19 7:30 pm @ Colorado
64. Sat, Aug 20 7:00 pm @ Colorado
65. Mon, Aug 22 9:00 pm @ San Diego
66. Tue, Aug 23 9:00 pm @ San Diego
67. Sun, Aug 28 3:00 pm @ Los Angeles Dodgers
68. Mon, Aug 29 7:00 pm vs. Pittsburgh
69. Wed, Aug 31 7:00 pm vs. Pittsburgh
70. Thu, Sept 1 7:00 pm vs. San Francisco (CSN+)
71. Sat, Sept 3 1:20 pm vs. San Francisco
72. Tue, Sept 6 7:00 pm @ Milwaukee (CSN+)
73. Wed, Sept 7 7:00 pm @ Milwaukee
74. Sun, Sept 11 1:00 pm @ Houston
75. Mon, Sept 12 7:00 pm @ St. Louis
76. Thu, Sept 15 7:00 pm vs. Milwaukee
77. Fri, Sept 16 1:20 pm vs. Milwaukee
78. Mon, Sept 19 7:00 pm vs. Cincinnati
79. Tue, Sept 20 7:00 pm vs. Cincinnati
80. Sat, Sept 24 1:20 pm vs. St. Louis
81. Sun, Sept 25 1:20 pm vs. St. Louis
82. Mon, Sept 26 6:00 pm @ Pittsburgh
83. Tue, Sept 27 6:00 pm @ Pittsburgh
84. Wed, Sept 28 6:00 pm @ Pittsburgh
85. Fri, Sept 30 6:00 pm @ Cincinnati
86. Sat, Oct 1 3:00 pm @ Cincinnati

86 Regular Season Games – 45 home, 41 away

Schedule Subject to Change
All Times Central Time

 

Bears ’18 offseason dramatically different from ’17 but with difficult money-management issues looming

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USA TODAY

Bears ’18 offseason dramatically different from ’17 but with difficult money-management issues looming

About this time a year ago the Bears were setting up for the annual NFL beauty pageant in Indianapolis, sitting with the No. 3 pick in the 2017 draft and with myriad roster decisions to address with both that draft and free agency. Because of the Bears’ lofty draft position, even more scrutiny and attention swirled around the college prospects (Deshaun Watson, Jamal Adams, Solomon Thomas, not enough on Mitch Trubisky as it turned out, a testimonial to GM Ryan Pace’s ability to keep a secret).

But what was developing in free agency was arguably of even greater significance in what was then the short term, at least for John Fox, as it turned out. And the changed landscape this year bodes considerably better for Pace and the Bears. At least in one important respect.

First, a perspective from last year’s pre-Combine period...

Because of the unsettled quarterback situation – the Bears were working toward Mike Glennon and cutting Jay Cutler two weeks later – and concerns about a possible lame-duck situation for Fox, free agents and their agents were willing to look at the Bears but only if the Bears would pony up excessive guaranteed dollars. The worry any time a coach is heading into a tipping-point year is that if things go badly, the coach and staff are gone, and the resulting changes will alter the job situation of that particular veteran player.

So the likes of cornerbacks A.J. Bouye or Stephon Gilmore opted for less total money from Jacksonville and New England, respectively, because the Bears weren’t offering higher guarantees to compensate for the uncertainty.

(One of the reasons then-President/CEO Michael McCaskey stated to this reporter for firing Mike Ditka after the 1992 season was a concern over the negative pall Ditka cast over playing for the Bears as the NFL prepared for the 1993 start of free agency. A quarter-century later, Pace didn’t fire Fox because of free agents’ aversion to Fox, but the overall wasn’t making Pace’s job any easier.)

Would Alshon Jeffery have stayed if...

On a slightly different tack: Would Alshon Jeffery have given the Bears a more receptive look had the quarterback position been addressed sooner in the Fox/Pace tenure? Jeffery took less from the Eagles in a one-year prove-it deal, not because Philadelphia was so much warmer than Chicago, but in large part because of where the offensive arrow was pointing in Chicago with Fox, Dowell Loggains and an unsettled quarterback situation.

Not insignificantly in the Jeffery case: Jeffery had four choices – Bears, Indianapolis, Minnesota, Philadelphia. The Colts weren’t sure about Andrew Luck, coming off shoulder surgery and ultimately missing all of ’17. The Vikings were resting then on brittle Sam Bradford, whose knee broke down early, and Case Keenum wasn’t CASE KEENUM at that point. The Bears with Loggains and Glennon? Jeffery didn’t go with Philadelphia, Doug Pederson and Carson Wentz only for the money, which did come anyway.

The Bears have “fixed” all of those issues in the year that’s played out since Jeffery signed with the Eagles almost concurrent with the Bears moving on from Cutler. None of that matters now in the least with Jeffery, Bouye, Gilmore or any other options that demanded too much guaranteed money or spurned the Bears back then, but it does matter going into the run-up to free agency over the next couple weeks.

Why this in fact matters more than the draft is that, while sound organizations are grounded in quality drafting, the reality is that in virtually every offseason, more starters for that season are acquired via free agency than the draft. Last year’s draft centerpiece was Trubisky, though he wasn’t supposed to start last season. But free agents Glennon, Prince Amukamara, Marcus Cooper, Quintin Demps and Markus Wheaton and Kendall Wright were.

The money pit

Longtime Bears and NFL personnel chief Bill Tobin once remarked back in the beginning of free agency, “Just because you pay a guy $2 million doesn’t make him a $2-million player.” That still applies, adjusted for inflation. And that could make this free agency dicey for the Bears.

Because price isn’t always determined solely on quality; it’s a matter of supply and demand. And while the Bears are among those with the greatest estimated space under the projected cap of $178 million, the others way up on the list include Cleveland, Indianapolis, the Jets, Houston and Tampa Bay – all teams with five or fewer wins in ’17 and expected to be the most aggressive in using free agency to fix gaping holes. The Bears have a lot of money to spend, but so do a whole lot of others.

Meaning: A lot of dollars will be chasing a select few players, which will make some of them overpaid, not unlike Glennon was last offseason (how many apparently better options were there?) or a couple of others, who will be paid like $2 million players even if they aren’t, adjusted for inflation.

The result is another offseason of brinksmanship for Pace, this time in need of better results than his first three free agencies if the outcome for his second head coach is to be better than it was for his first.

Would potential bargains like Mike Moustakas or Carlos Gonzalez make sense for White Sox?

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USA TODAY

Would potential bargains like Mike Moustakas or Carlos Gonzalez make sense for White Sox?

The 2017-18 baseball offseason continues to be, well, the 2017-18 baseball offseason, even with spring training games being played in Arizona and Florida.

A bunch of names remain on the free-agent market, including All-Star players who thought they would be in for big multi-year contracts. But as teams continue to deny the wishes of guys who expected to get big deals, the suggestion that those players might end up needing to take one-year offers if they want to play during the 2018 season is becoming a more common talking point.

So with potential bargains to be had for some pretty big-name players, do the White Sox jump into the waters and try to lock up a potential future piece on the cheap? Though they aren’t expected to contend this season, the White Sox have been mentioned in a pair of recent reports surrounding a pair of All-Star position players: Mike Moustakas and Carlos Gonzalez.

MLB.com's Jon Morosi wrote last week that the White Sox are a potential fit for Moustakas, who has sat and watched as former Kansas City Royals teammate Eric Hosmer received a huge contract from the San Diego Padres. Moustakas set a new Royals record last season with 38 home runs but has yet to find a team.

The White Sox, connected to Baltimore Orioles star Manny Machado earlier this offseason, seem to have a current big leaguer or highly ranked prospect locked into almost every position on the diamond for the foreseeable future, but third base isn't necessarily one of them. Jake Burger was last year’s top draft pick, though there’s speculation he could slide over to first base. The team still envisions him as a big league third baseman, for what it’s worth.

Moustakas is 29 and already has seven big league seasons under his belt, including a pair of All-Star appearances and a pair of trips to the World Series, including the Crowns’ championship back in 2015. His 38 homers and 85 RBIs in 2017 were both career highs. He slashed .272/.314/.521, the final of those three numbers the best mark of his career.

Moustakas has rarely hit for average or reached base at too high a clip, though those recent power numbers would be intriguing at a hitter-friendly park like Guaranteed Rate Field, where he has 10 career dingers, 26 career RBIs and a .249/.308/.456 career slash line as a visitor.

Certainly Moustakas would be a buzz-worthy addition, and if the White Sox could get him for a good value thanks to this slow-moving market, that adds incentive to bring him aboard. A short contract would have even more incentive for the rebuilding White Sox, who would have the option to either sign him to a long-term deal or deal him away in a deadline deal depending on his immediate production levels.

But for fans hoping the White Sox will spend big on a third baseman in one of the next two offseasons — Machado is a free agent next winter, and Colorado Rockies star Nolan Arenado is set to hit the market the winter after next — slotting in an outside addition at the hot corner now could impact those plans.

Gonzalez is a completely different story, a three-time All Star during his 10-year big league career who is just three seasons removed from a 40-homer campaign in 2015. The 32-year-old Gonzalez also has a trio of Gold Gloves to go along with his 215 career home runs. FanRag’s Jon Heyman listed the White Sox as a possible landing spot for CarGo this weekend.

But his walk year in Colorado was not a very good one by his standards. In 136 games for a Rockies team that ended up in the playoffs, he slashed .262/.339/.423, all those averages way down from his usual level of production. And his power numbers plummeted to 14 homers and 57 RBIs after he combined for 65 homers and 197 RBIs in 2015 and 2016.

The good news for the White Sox is that down year makes Gonzalez far more affordable. Should he command only a one-year contract, the White Sox could take a flier, stick him in the outfield — which still has an unresolved spot with few strong offensive options for center field — and trade him should he bounce back in a big way. Or, at 32, perhaps he’s a guy the White Sox could opt to keep around should he prove valuable and the rebuild continues to move along ahead of schedule.

Gonzalez seems the less risky move at this point, as Moustakas could still be looking for a multi-year contract. But the White Sox have plenty of financial flexibility and flexibility in their decision-making should they add either guy and he proves worthy of a midseason deal or a long-term look.