Cubs

Bryce Harper is flirting with Chicago

Bryce Harper is flirting with Chicago

Bryce Harper's flirtation with Chicago and his bff Kris Bryant is growing.

Case in point:

TUESDAY: The superstar slugger was spotted at a Blackhawks game Tuesday night sitting center stage in his hometown of Las Vegas, notably NOT wearing any Golden Knights gear.

MONDAY: Bryce Harper took a photo with fans while wearing a Bulls hat.

ALSO MONDAY: Harper included a snap of his dog on his Instagram story. His dog's name? Wrigley.

Tracking back further

Oct. 11: Harper posts a photo of the Wrigley marquee after Game 4 of the NLDS, stating, "Until next time! Love this place":

August 5: The wives of Harper and Bryant got together to stir the pot themselves, even using the hashtag #HarperToTheCubs, while saying, "Fans want it...& we are more than good with this idea..."

June 27: Harper posted an Instagram photo with Kris Bryant and their wives after a Cubs-Nationals game using the hashtag #Back2BackOneDay

June 4: Peter Gammons really got the ball rolling on the Harper-to-Chicago train when he hopped on the Mully and Hanley Show and said, "I have people tell me that Bryce Harper really would prefer to play for the Cubs."

And then there was that one time in May 2015 when Harper was sporting a Blackhawks T-shirt.

Now the other side:

Let's play Party Pooper and put on our Debbie Downer hats here for a second.

On July 9, Harper told the Washington Post he loves trolling people, like that Instagram hashtag with Bryant:

"I do that to the media because they stir it more than I do. That's why i do the things I do at times, because it's funny to me. It's like, 'Alright, people want to talk about this and talk about that. Why not just throw this out there and make them think about it?'"

Well, he's made us think about it, that's for sure.

Harper and his agent — Scott Boras — have a lot to gain by getting the Cubs involved and with the natural tie-in there with hometown buddy Bryant already, it's a perfect fit to help drive up the price tag.

If Harper and his camp want $400 million, the best way to get that is to get the Cubs involved, even if the chances are incredibly low that he signs there. There are probably several people at Boras Corp. right now whose main focus is helping craft a public image for Harper.

He is the kind of guy who knows any hat he wears or T-shirt he rocks is scrutinized, so he and his people undoubtedly spend a ton of time thinking about that and analyzing those decisions before he even steps foot in public.

From the Cubs' perspective, it will be hard to figure the money out to make Harper-to-Chicago a reality.

Jason Heyward has a player opt-out in his contract after the 2018 season, but right now, it seems there is no way he takes it. He's due $106 million from the start of 2019, including $20 million that season alone and obviously his best position is also right field.

The Cubs also have 2019 money committed to Jon Lester ($22.5 million), Ben Zobrist ($12 million) and Anthony Rizzo ($11 million) plus options on Jose Quintana ($10.5 million) and Pedro Strop ($6.25 million) that are likely to be exercised as of right now. That's $82.25 million committed to just six players (assuming the options are picked up), plus Kris Bryant, Kyle Hendricks and Addison Russell in their second years of arbitration with Javy Baez, Kyle Schwarber and Mike Montgomery in their first years of arbitration.

The money would be really, really difficult to manage if Harper gets $30-$40 million a season, but hey, that's not our problem to figure out.

Bryce Harper: The Cubs' right fielder in 2019...or baseball's biggest troll/flirt?

Content producer Jon Graff contributed to this post.

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: