Cubs

Word on the Street: Round 2 for Cutler and Cavallari

Word on the Street: Round 2 for Cutler and Cavallari

Monday, Sept. 26, 2011
CSNChicago.com

Cutler and Cavallari are at it again

Last week's flirtatious tweets left the public questioning whether Bears quarterback Jay Cutler and reality star Kristin Cavallari were back together. Well, the suspicions are back for round two.

Cav wished Jay good luck, sporting her Bears hoodie in a photo she posted yesterday. Cutler once again used the term 'babe' when sending words of encouragement before she headed to Dancing with the Stars. (@JayCutler6,@KristinCav)

Fans question Brenly's role in 2012

Bob Brenly's job as the Cubs' broadcaster has left many wondering if he sees himself back in the dugout. He's been at Wrigley to see it all, and his critical style behind the mic with partner Len Kasper makes them a spectator's favorite.

A former World Series-winning manager, Brenly seems to be a very possible solution to the Cubs' poor record. Right now Brenly's under contract to be involved in television work and says he has no plans to pursue any of the team's openings. (HardballTalk)

Knox's wild play that didn't count

Johnny Knox not only stunned the crowd in yesterday's game, but even got the attention of Aaron Rodgers who called it the "most incredible play I've ever seen." Knox's kick return touchdown did not count, but was more than worthy of additional mention.

The brilliant plan: The team makes you think the return is going left, then sends a returner after the ball on the right. If you missed the excitement, check it out here!
(ProFootballTalk)

Hawk Harrelson, Steve Stone rip "Moneyball"

Nothing but negativity seemed to come from the two when discussing the new movie, "Moneyball." Harrelson calls Beane's approach "bull----" and was quick to point out the team did not win anything. Stone chimed in, asking if certain negative issues were included in the flick.

Keep in mind they have not read the book or seen the movie. (HardballTalk, CSNChicago)
Winter Classic to take place in Philly

The NHL has officially announced the 2012 Winter Classic will in fact take place in Philadelphia, showcasing the Rangers-Flyers rivalry. For many of you this is not new information, as this horribly kept secret leaked a while ago. But at least now we have a 100 confirmation to see the teams go head-to-head on Monday, January 2. (ProHockeyTalk)

Could Crawford face sophomore slump?

Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford proved to be more than ready for the pros as he took over Marty Turco's starting position last season. But now that he's not fighting for a roster position, will he have the same drive we saw and respected?

Crawford explains that even though a contract is in place, it's still important to prove yourself to your team as early as training camp. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville expects the starter to perform even better than last year. (ProHockeyTalk)

Sharp returns to the ice

Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp has returned to the ice after an emergency appendectomy on Sept. 12. He'll be practicing in his own skatearound the next two days before being assessed by the team.

Coach Q and the team are hopeful Sharpie will be back in full swing by the start of the regular season on Oct. 7. (ChicagoTribune)
Illini earn bragging rights

Illinois kicker Derek Dimke and running back Donovonn Young each earned Big Ten player of the week awards after the team's victory against Western Michigan.

Dimke took spectial teams player of the week for making field goals from 39, 35 and 21 out, and topping off the days with kicking the game-winning points. Young won freshman of the week, following teammate Houston Bates' recognition after opening weekend. (ChicagoTribune)

Cubs' World Series expectations are no surprise, but they show how radical transformation from Lovable Losers has been

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USA TODAY

Cubs' World Series expectations are no surprise, but they show how radical transformation from Lovable Losers has been

MESA, Ariz. — Tom Ricketts sure doesn’t sound like the guy who met his wife in the bleachers during the century-long tenure of the Lovable Losers.

“Everyone knows that this is a team that has the capability to win the World Series, and everyone will be disappointed if we don’t live up to that capability.”

Yeah, the Cubs have been among baseball’s best teams for three seasons now. That curse-smashing World Series win in 2016 was the high point of a three-year stretch of winning that’s seen three straight trips to the National League Championship Series and a combined 310 wins between the regular season and postseason.

But it’s still got to come as a strange sound to those who remember the Cubs as the longtime butt of so many baseball jokes. This team has one expectation, to win the World Series. The players have said it for a week leading up to Monday’s first full-squad workout. The front office said it when it introduced big-time free-agent signing Yu Darvish a week ago. And the chairman said it Monday.

“We very much expect to win,” Ricketts said. “We have the ability to win. Our division got a lot tougher, and the playoff opponents that we faced last year are likely to be there waiting for us again.

“I think at this point with this team, obviously that’s our goal. I won’t say a season’s a failure because you don’t win the World Series, but it is our goal.”

The confidence is not lacking. But more importantly, success drives expectations. And if the Cubs are going to be one of the best teams in baseball, they better keep winning, or they’ll fail to meet those expectations, expectations that can sometimes spin a little bit out of control.

During last year’s follow-up campaign to 2016’s championship run, a rocky start to the season that had the Cubs out of first place at the All-Star break was enough to make some fans feel like the sky was falling — as if one year without a World Series win would be unacceptable to a fan base that had just gone 108 without one.

After a grueling NLDS against the Washington Nationals, the Cubs looked well overmatched in the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers, and that sparked plenty of outside criticism, as well as plenty of offseason activity to upgrade the club in the midst of baseball’s never-ending arms race.

“I think people forget we’ve won more games over the last three years than any other team. We’ve won more playoff games than any other team the last three years. And we’ve been to the NLCS three years in a row,” Ricketts said. “I think fans understand that this is a team that if we stay healthy and play up to our capability can be in that position, be in the World Series. I don’t blame them. We should have high expectations, we have a great team.”

On paper, there are plenty of reasons for high expectations. Certainly the team’s stated goals don’t seem outlandish or anything but expected. The addition of Darvish to a rotation that already boasted Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks and Jose Quintana makes the Cubs’ starting staff the best in the NL, maybe the best in the game. There were additions to the bullpen, and the team’s fleet of young star position players went untouched despite fears it might be broken up to acquire pitching.

“I think this is, on paper, the strongest rotation that we’ve ever had,” Ricketts said. “I think that being able to bring in a player of (Darvish’s) caliber reminds everyone that we’re intending to win our division and go all the way.

“We’ve kept a good core of players together for several years, and this year I think our offseason moves have really set us up to be one of the best teams in baseball.

“Just coming out of our team meeting, the vibe feels a lot like two years ago. Everybody’s in a really good place. I think everyone’s really hungry and really wants to get this season off to a great start and make this a memorable year.”

There should be no surprise that the team and its players and its executives and its owners feel the way they do. The Cubs are now expected winners, even if that’s still yet to sink in for the longtime fans and observers of the team they once called the Lovable Losers.

Blackhawks deal Michael Kempny to Capitals for conditional third-round pick

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks deal Michael Kempny to Capitals for conditional third-round pick

The Blackhawks dealt defenseman Michael Kempny to the Washington Capitals for a third-round pick. Kempny had seven points in 31 games this season.

Kempny, 27, recorded 15 points in 81 career games for the Blackhawks. He tallied an assist in Saturday's 7-1 victory over the Capitals.

Kempny signed a one-year extension through the end of this season back in May.