Cubs

Rain delay speech part deux? Cubs got together for a different kind of team meeting before Game 4

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USA TODAY

Rain delay speech part deux? Cubs got together for a different kind of team meeting before Game 4

Jason Heyward may be struggling on the field right now, but he's earning his money off it once again.

It may not have been the same empassioned speech he gave during the rain delay in Game 7 of the World Series last fall, but Heyward helped lead a different kind of team meeting Wednesday afternoon before the start of Game 4 of the NLCS at Wrigley Field.

Jose Quintana let word of the meeting slip in his pregame press conference, mentioning how Heyward, Jon Lester, John Lackey and Jon Jay pulled guys together.

"A couple guys made a big impression," Quintana said. "...We haven't lost anything yet."

But the thing is, not everybody was pulled into the meeting. It wasn't all hands on deck like that World Series get-together was in the weight room of the visiting clubhouse in Cleveland.

Ben Zobrist had no idea any meeting even occurred. Same with Brian Duensing. Jake Arrieta was warming up and getting psyched (probably doing pilates or improv somewhere) for his start. 

But for the guys that were there, it was to just help get everybody on the same page.

"It definitely helps focus us," Schwarber said. "We all know what's at stake. We're not stupid. By any means that we can come together even more, that's only an advantage to us."

Schwarber said the players were just trying to bring the team even closer than they typically are, especially because there's nothing to lose right now.

"This team's already close, but if we can bring this team even closer, watch out," Schwarber said. "Things might turn the tide, whatever it is. You never know in this game. If we can just come together even more, it's only a positive thing."

Addison Russell's main takeaway from the pregame meeting was to focus on things one day at a time, not worrying about Game 5 or the weekend back in LA until Game 4 is taken care of.

"We know that our backs are against the wall," Russell said. "We know we're a great ballclub. We don't want the season to end. We gotta keep pushing.

"Whatever it takes. Being down in the series 3-0, the odds are not really in our favor, but with this ballclub, we defied the odds already once, so why not us?"

Schwarber wouldn't divulge what was actually said at the meeting, shaking his head violently from side to side to indicate he wouldn't give any further details than this:

"You guys can just know we had a team meeting." 

While we're on the topic, we're still waiting for the transcription of Heyward's now-legendary rain delay speech....

What Chicago sports fans should be thankful for

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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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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: