Cubs-Nationals, Mitch Trubisky's NFL debut highlight biggest Chicago sports day of year


Cubs-Nationals, Mitch Trubisky's NFL debut highlight biggest Chicago sports day of year

Is Monday the biggest Chicago sports day of 2017? It very well might be.

From Game 3 of the Cubs-Nationals NLDS, to Mitch Trubisky's NFL debut on primetime television, to the Blackhawks-Maple Leafs Original 6 matchup, it's a stacked lineup.

The best part? NBC Sports Chicago has you covered for all three games.

Let us break it down for you.

Game 3 of the NLDS

The Cubs and Nationals will square off in Game 3 of the NLDS at Wrigley Field with the series tied 1-1, and there's so much intrigue to this game.

Will the Cubs bounce back from a heart-breaking loss in Game 2? How will Jose Quintana perform in his first career postseason start? Or what about Max Scherzer, who's nursing a hamstring injury?

Check out how the Cubs and Nationals will line up in Game 3. Spoiler: there's a surprise in Joe Maddon's.

Mitch Trubisky's NFL debut

On the other side of town, it's Trubisky time. After John Fox called it quits with Mike Glennon after four starts, the No. 2 overall pick will get his turn. The Bears' 23-year-old quarterback will be making his NFL debut on prime time television against the division rival Minnesota Vikings.

How will the rook, who has only played in 13 college games, fare in his NFL debut? Our Bears writers JJ Stankevitz and John "Moon" Mullin give their prediction.

Hottest NHL teams do battle in Original 6 matchup

How about that Blackhawks start? Sure, it's only two games, but a +13 goal differential is pretty darn impressive. Everything seems to be clicking early for the Blackhawks. In case you missed it though, the Maple Leafs are just as hot as the Blackhawks offensively. Both teams have scored 15 goals through two games of the regular season. Which team will remain undefeated after three? Here's a look at three things to watch in that game.

Moral of the story: if you haven't set your DVRs, do it, because it's going to be an exciting day for Chicago sports. And you won't want to miss it.

Reliving the magic of Nacho Man

Reliving the magic of Nacho Man

There have been so many memorable baseball moments between the Cubs and Cardinals throughout the years. 

In 1958, Stan  Musial collected his 3,000th hit at Wrigley.  

There was the “Sandberg Game” — June of 1984, where Ryne Sandberg hit a pair of home runs off Cardinals closer Bruce Sutter.

Skip ahead to 2008, when Ted Lilly collided with Yadier Molina at home plate during a game at Busch Stadium. Few could forget that.

Just a few years ago, Anthony Rizzo was hit by a pitch in what the Cubs viewed as retaliation, so Joe Maddon dropped the Soprano reference: “We don’t start stuff, but we will stop stuff.”

And last season, there was Addison Russell’s run-in with Nacho Man, which is likely to go down as the only collision to bring the two rival fanbases together.

It was something I witnessed firsthand. Sitting next to the Cubs dugout on the third base side in Busch Stadium that night, the play transpired so quickly it was tough to see from my vantage point.  As he often did, Russell broke backward for the foul ball and started sprinting towards the wall in left. I could tell from the crowd reaction that the Cubs shortstop didn’t make the play, but I could see that he was slow to get back to his position. It was about this time that the video board in center field showed the replay of Russell diving into the stands and crashing into a Cardinals fan who had lost his full plate of nachos.

Russell had nacho cheese all over his arm and I heard the dugout yelling, “Get him a towel! Grab a towel!”  As Russell wiped the cheese off his arm, a few of the coaches next to me were collaborating on a way to get some new nachos for the man. Within minutes, a tray of nachos were delivered to Dave Martinez — the Cubs' bench coach at the time — and later passed along to Russell. In between innings, the often-reserved infielder made amends by bringing out another order of nachos and taking a selfie with Nacho Man.

"Normally I don't do that, but being the case of me being nacho'd all over — my cleats even — I was like, 'you know what, why not?'" Russell said after the game. "A once-in-a-lifetime experience."

Within minutes, the video of this exchange went viral. Both myself and Jim Hayes of Fox Sports Midwest set out to get our in-game interview with Andrew Gudermuth, the Nacho Man. Not exactly hard-hitting journalism, but it was entertaining nonetheless and boy did Gudermuth enjoy his 15 minutes of fame.  

“I came to catch a foul ball, but instead I caught a Russell,” he joked.  

Which to be more accurate, Gudermuth’s poor girlfriend actually “caught a Russell.” If you watch the replay, she took the brunt of the hit, but what a good sport!

No doubt, an unforgettable night for all involved, and one that proved that one thing can bring Cubs & Cardinals fans together — nachos!

Cubs adding catching depth that may help them out in the Yu Darvish sweepstakes


Cubs adding catching depth that may help them out in the Yu Darvish sweepstakes

Chris Gimenez, come on down.

The 35-year-old catcher isn't exactly a household name, but he's been signed by the Cubs to add backstop depth, according to Chris Cotillo and Ken Rosenthal:

The Cubs didn't have much depth in the catching department beyond Willson Contreras and inexperienced rookie Victor Caratini and while Gimenez doesn't light up the stat column, he's a link to Yu Darvish that could give the Cubs a unique advantage in that domain:

Darvish and Gimenez played together with the Texas Rangers in 2014-15 (though Darvish was hurt in 2015) and Gimenez has been shedding some light on what the free-agent pitcher may be thinking this winter. Is this Part II of a David Ross-Jon Lester personal catcher situation?

That may be reading a bit too much into things, as the Cubs were always going to sign a veteran catcher to provide depth beyond the unproven Caratini. They saw how important that was in 2017 when Alex Avila spent roughly a month as the starter when Contreras was hurt.

The link between Gimenez and Darvish is real, but the frontline starter has also made 48 starts over the last two seasons while throwing to a catcher not named Gimenez. And the free agent catching market is pretty thin beyond Avila and Jonathan Lucroy, both of whom should earn starter's money or close to it.

Gimenez has played 361 games in the big leagues over the last nine seasons as a journeyman, with stops in Cleveland, Seattle, Tampa Bay, Oakland, Texas, Cleveland (again), Texas (again), Cleveland (again) and then Minnesota last year. He played for Cubs manager Joe Maddon and new pitching coach Jim Hickey while in Tampa Bay.

Gimenez turned in a career season in 2017 with the Twins, notching new highs in games played (74), at-bats (186), runs (28), hits (41), homers (7), RBI (16) and walks (33).

He has a career .218 batting average with a .309 on-base percentage, .345 slugging and .654 OPS. 

But Gimenez isn't just a catcher. He's made nine appearances as a pitcher over the last few years, including six in 2017, where he allowed four runs on seven hits in five innings.

Gimenez will probably compete with Caratini for the backup catcher role in Chicago and can lend a veteran presence. He's also the best bet to take for first position player to pitch in a game in 2018.