Cubs

CSN's Chuck Garfien Fills Out his NCAA Bracket

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CSN's Chuck Garfien Fills Out his NCAA Bracket

Monday, March 15, 2010
6:43 PM

By Chuck Garfien
CSNChicago.com

One of the most maddening parts of March Madness (for me anyway) is filling out my tournament bracket.

Why?

For one, Ive always been a sucker for picking upsets.

Sometimes this strategy works perfectly. Like in 1996, when I correctly picked No. 13 Princeton to beat No. 4 UCLA in the first round. The Tigers won 43-41. My co-workers were stunned. They hailed me as a basketball genius!

That was until the next round when I erroneously predicted that No. 9 Virginia Tech would knock off No. 1 Kentucky. Not only did the Wildcats win that game 84-60, they went on to win the whole darn tournament, sending my bracket to the closest shredder. Who won the pool? Why that would be our non-sports fan weather forecaster who picked Kentucky to win it all because she heard that Ashley Judd went to school there.

Maddening.

Well, this year I have tried a groundbreaking new strategy. Actually, I have two of them.

The first is the Peoples Bracket. I have carelessly gathered the opinions of a wide assortment of people ... CSN Bracketologist David Kaplan, Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey, random Chicagoans I ran into on the street in five minutes. I also received the professional advice of Nancy Garfien, my mother.

What this produced was a Final Four consisting of Kansas, New Mexico, Xavier, and Villanova, with 'Nova winning it all. Do I like these picks? No, not at all. Do I have a chance of winning? Yes! At least until the tournament begins when I will probably be asking myself, Why did I listen to that guy from Vancouver who knows nothing about college basketball and go with Xavier? He couldnt even pronounce it!

My second idea was a revolutionary approach that takes no time at all. Fill out a bracket as fast as possible. Dont do any research. Dont get any help. And by all means ... don't think ... ABOUT ANYTHING. It will only mess you up.

With a pen in hand, I flew through my bracket in about 45 seconds. When it was over, I found that I had a trembling hand, a developing blister, and three Big East teams in the Final Four with Kansas winning it all.

Much better.

Click here to see the two brackets. Well see which wins out in the end. Go Musketeers (that would be Xavier)!

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: