Boston Red Sox

Butterfly Effect: How Evan Longoria helped the Cubs end their World Series drought

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AP

Butterfly Effect: How Evan Longoria helped the Cubs end their World Series drought

Maybe Evan Longoria should've gotten one of the 1,908 World Series rings the Cubs handed out this spring.

After all, he deserves a ton of credit for the end of the 108-year championship drought.

On the day Longoria was dealt from the Tampa Bay Rays to the San Francisco Giants, let's rewind back to Sept. 29, 2011 when he came up to bat in the bottom of the 12th inning to face Buddy Carlyle. 

It was the final regular season game of the season and the Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees were deadlocked in a 7-7 tie.

Longoria drilled Carlyle's 2-2 offering just inside the left-field foul pole for one of the most dramatic walk-off homers in baseball history. 

(Check out the shots of Joe Maddon in the Rays uniform in the dugout, sporting his long white locks.)

Amazingly, Longoria and the Rays began the game by falling in a 7-0 hole before clawing all the way back.

With the blast, he handed the Rays the American League wild-card spot and subsequently knocked out Theo Epstein's Boston Red Sox in the process. That completed one of the most epic collapses ever as the Red Sox faded down the stretch in what later became known as the Beer and Fried Chicken Incident (in which Jon Lester and John Lackey were both involved).

Epstein — then the GM of the Red Sox — left Boston in the aftermath, migrating west to join the Cubs front office. 

It was the first domino in the line that led to the end of the longest championship drought in American sports history.

And Cubs fans have Evan Longoria to thank for that...in a roundabout way.

The Kyle Schwarber offseason circus gets even crazier, but Cubs continue to stand by their man

The Kyle Schwarber offseason circus gets even crazier, but Cubs continue to stand by their man

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The more time that passes, the less it seems likely the Cubs will trade away Kyle Schwarber.

(Feel free to bookmark this story and rub it in my face if a surprise deal gets done with Schwarber this winter.)

When America's Now-Not-So-Large Adult Son showed up to the Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort Tuesday, it was easy to see how fans could run rampant with speculation that it may mean he's at the Winter Meetings for a physical or a meeting with another team or anything that could mean a trade is right around the corner.

Jed Hoyer waved that notion off in his meeting with the media in the Cubs suite Tuesday evening.

Schwarber did meet with Hoyer and Theo Epstein for about a half hour, though the Cubs GM joked the slugger's sudden emergence at baseball's hottest offseason gathering was probably more to show off his new chiseled physique.

"Oh, no question," Hoyer said. "There's been a lot of videos out there. He's proud of himself. He's not hiding. He's bummed it's not a little warmer."

Schwarber has kind of a mytical aura around him as a name that instantly engenders a reaction from fans regarding a variety of topics from his weight loss to him leading off to trade rumors to his 2017 struggles or his epic return from a devastating knee injury to play World Series hero.

His Midwest upbringing and blue-collar style resonates perfectly with much of the Chicago fanbase. He clearly also has some staunch supporters within the Cubs organization, from teammates to coaches to front office members to scouts.

To put it simply: The Cubs f--king love the dude.

"He knows how we feel about him," Hoyer said Tuesday.

Epstein admitted Monday there was a lot of interest in Schwarber this winter (his name keeps popping up in Red Sox rumors), though that's not out of the ordinary.

"He's always been somebody teams have interest in," Epstein said. "But we probably have the most interest."

These are just the latest in a long line of public endorsements from Cubs personnel on Schwarber.

The Cubs know Schwarber can handle the trade rumors, in part because this should be old hat for him. He's been linked to AL teams as a DH option for years.

It's also gotta help fuel the Schwarber fire within the Cubs that he's lost 25ish pounds, which will help improve his speed and defense.

"I feel like best shape of their lives becomes this cliche or joke," Hoyer said. "But he actually is. He looks awesome.

"I think Kyle in general is a guy that when you talk to him, he kinda motivates you. I mean, he's so passionate, takes everything so seriously. So Theo and I just sat down with him for like a half an hour and it's hard not to want to play right now listening to him.

"He didn't feel great about his [2017] season, he probably didn't feel great about how he felt all year and give him credit —- he did something about it. It's so obvious when you look at him what great shape he's in.

"I love the fact that he drove over here, in some ways, just to show it off. I don't blame him. I probably would, too."

Trade rumors: White Sox reportedly discussing Jose Abreu with Boston

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AP

Trade rumors: White Sox reportedly discussing Jose Abreu with Boston

While we're still waiting for Major League Baseball to finally get the hot stove lit, FanRag's Jon Heyman dropped an interesting nugget Wednesday morning:

There figures to be plenty of interest in Jose Abreu as the soon-to-be-31-year-old is still under team control for the next two seasons.

The Boston Red Sox figure to be one of the top suitors — they are looking for stability at first base/DH and were one of the finalists for Abreu back in October 2013 when he first signed with the South Siders.

The Red Sox boast one of the best young cores in the game, but their prospect pool is dwindling after graduating third base phenom Rafael Devers to the big leagues and trading away Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech to the White Sox last winter for Chris Sale.

Could Boston deal from that core of position players to help facilitate a deal for Abreu? Chuck Garfien and the White Sox Talk Podcast broke down Rick Hahn's interest in Jackie Bradley Jr. among other trade rumors fact/fiction:

Abreu has posted four straight seasons of 25+ homers, 100+ RBI and a .290+ batting average. He set a career high with 343 total bases in 2017 to go along with a .906 OPS.