Cubs

SUPER SIZE ME!!

SUPER SIZE ME!!

By Frankie O
CSNChicago.com

Thats what were supposed to be doing this week, right? Super Bowl week means everything is hyped until it cant be hyped no more. Its the ultimate American reaction to the ultimate American game. As soon as Lawrence Tynes 31-yarder in overtime crossed through the uprights, we were on the clock for Super Bowl XLVI. In fact, I believe, the ESPN pre-game show started at that very second. You gotta love em, for they are nothing if not consistent. Too bad Showtime took the Shameless title for its new show since the behemoth shows that quality whenever it can, and especially now, when the stage is as big as it gets. I dont know whats worse: The fact that theyre bludgeoning me with wall-to-wall coverage or the fact that Ive had it on in the background almost as much. Its oddly comforting that no matter what time of the day, no matter where I am, I can get the latest, most pertinent analysis of the Giants pass rush, Belichicks genius or Gronks high-ankle sprain. I mean, I need to know and I need to know NOW! Through my 46-inch plasma induced haze, I swear that they are so out of material that theyve been reduced to having every one of their on-air talent appear on every other one of their shows. Its like theres a circus Volkswagen full of TV-types at the ready next to their revolving sets as soon as the red light comes on. It makes me wonder what theyre going to do before the game on Sunday. I mean whats left? By this time, the amount of football knowledge imparted would make Mr. Creosote beg for mercy. Just one more tidbit of information, North America? Its wafer-thin!

I have to admit, though, there were two weeks when I couldnt get enough, a mere seven years ago. For just the second time in my lifetime, I had reason to care about a Super Bowl. (Notice that I didnt say rooting interest in, since we all know that is different, and almost every one of us have a rooting interest in the Super Bowl, for some of us, as long as we can remember!) Since ESPN was in its infancy during the Eagles first SB in 1980, we were all spared the wall-to-wall stuff before the game even though the game was no less hyped where I lived. That was two weeks of bliss. It went by so fast, almost as fast as Ron Jaworski threw the game away. Stop throwing to Rod Martin! Hes on the other team!

By 2004, the ESPN machine was gaining incredible traction, and the They need more! credo was on full display. Not only that, the brand new Comcast SportsNet Chicago broadcast Daily News Live from its sister station in Philadelphia the week preceding the game. Now thats what I call a displaced Philly fans best friend! And if you can believe it, a red-bow-tie wearing bartender made his debut on Chicago Tribune Live the Friday before the big game on CSN Chicago, regaling Dan Jiggetts and 85 Bear Otis Wilson with his reasons for an impending Birds victory. (That was what is known as writers embellishment. The truth is, I was so caffeinated and nervous, I opened my mouth and the words came flying out in staccato bursts, as far from regaling as you could get. I did get my affinity for the team from Philadelphia across though. I think.) This was going to be the greatest football game of my life. The suffering was going to be over. And like those first minutes after you buy what you are sure is the winning lottery ticket, for two weeks I was able to dream a little dream. Hype was my friend!

Well, we all know how that turned out. And, as we all know as well, dreams die hard. Very hard. Im not saying that Im bitter. Other people will say it for me! I dont ask for very much. Just one! Thats all. I remember when the Rangers ended their 54-year schneid in quest of Lord Stanley in 1994. There was a guy in the stands after the game who held up a placard that said, Now I can die in peace! At the time, watching on TV, I was amused. Now, I can relate. The Eagles have never won a Super Bowl. EVER. The last NFL title was before I was born. Yes its been that long!

So what Im reduced to, again, is being a spectator. Youd think Id be used to it by now. What are you going to do? I was born on the wrong side of the state for sports. But what really gets me now are the teams that are playing. Everyone wants to know who I like in the game. I cant even fathom picking one or the other. For a guy from Philly it doesnt get any worse than this. Root for New York? What? As any NFC East fan knows, thats not going to happen. Its bad enough the other three teams in the division have 11 Super Bowl wins to the Eagles goose egg, I dont know if I can take a dirty dozen. I need the Eli face!

But wait. That would mean being on the side of the team from Boston. Yeah, Boston. You know the town where the teams win so much (7 major titles in the last ten years. Ugh.) that the fans really believe that its their right. They make New York obnoxiousness seem quaint by comparison. Do we really want to go there? I dont!

So I will seek solace the way only I can, for I know, theres one good thing thats going to happen on Sunday. Somebody is going to lose. It has to happen. If I havent learned anything, at least I learned that, and I did it the hard way. And speaking from that experience, the closer you get, the worse it hurts.

So, Ill be at the bar, and a good time will be had by almost all. Well cheer for our wagers (not for cash, of course, just for yucks) and wonder in amazement about the amount of money spent for commercials that are not funny! Then, on Monday, Ill go online to newspaper sites in one of two cities and read about despair and the heartache of hopes and dreams dashed at the altar. It wont erase the futility of being a fan of a team that hasnt fulfilled its promise, but as I read some of those all too familiar stories, Ill know that at least for a day, for me and the fans of the unfortunate city, well have something in common. I guess misery does love company!

Have a very safe and merry Super Sunday!!

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: