Cubs

Word: Who will be on the cover of Madden 12?

Word: Who will be on the cover of Madden 12?

Monday, April 4, 2011
CSNChicago.com

Madden cover tournament down to Elite Eight

This year, the lucky NFL-er who will grace the cover of Madden 2012 will be selected by a fan vote. The bracket-style voting has now reached the Elite Eight.

The eight who advanced in last week's round of voting are Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Patriots running back Danny Woodhead, Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles, Browns running back Peyton Hillis, Saints quarterback Drew Brees, Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, Eagles quarterback Michael Vick and 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis.

This week, fans can cast their votes in four head-to-head competitions between players. The winner will be announced during the last week of April. (Pro Football Talk)

The Fridge gets his ring back

A 10-year-old boy from Pittsburgh made William "The Refrigerator" Perry a pretty happy guy.

Cliff Forrest used savings to buy The Fridge's Super Bowl XX ring from a sports memorabilia section of a sports bar in New York. Perry has never said whether he has lost, sold or auctioned off the ring to pay for medical expenses.

The boy heard of Perry's money problems and traveled to an autograph-signing in Chicago over the weekend and returned the ring to its owner. (WGN TV)
Quentin AL player of the week

Carlos Quentin has been named the first American League Player of the Week this season. CSNChicago.com's White Sox Insider Brett Ballantini reports that the slugger went 6-11 in three starts over the weekend.

Through three games, Quentin leads the AL in batting average (.545) and is tied for the lead in doubles (three) and RBI (seven). (CSNChicago.com)

Castro shares NL player of the week honor

Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro and Cardinals pitcher Jaime Garcia were named co-winners of the National League Player of the Week Award. Castro was leading the Majors with a .615 batting average and a .643 on-base percentage through the first three games of the season.

He also lead the NL with a 1.000 slugging percentage and 13 total bases.

This marks the first career NL Player of the Week Award for both Castro and Garcial. (mlb.com)

Rodman elected to HOF

Dennis Rodman is just the latest former Bull to join the ranks of the NBA's legends. The power forward joins the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame's Class of 2011.

Coaches Tex Winter, innovator of the Triangle offense, Stanfords Tara VanDerveer and Philadelphia Universitys Herb Magee were part of the class.

Longtime NBA and ABA star Artis Gilmore, former Portland TrailBlazers center Arvydas Sabonis and Olympic gold medalist Teresa Edwards also will be inducted. They are joined by Harlem Globetrotter Reece Goose Tatum and Boston Celtic Tom Satch Sanders. (AP)

Shaka Smart to stay at VCU

Shaka Smart will be staying in Virginia for a while longer. The Virginia Commonwealth coach signed a new deal with the university after it was reported that he removed his name from consideration for the head-coaching vacancy at North Carolina State.

"I'm extremely grateful for the belief that Dr. (Michael) Rao and (athletics director) Norwood Teague have shown and continue to show in our coaching staff and basketball program," Smart said in a statement issued by the school. (USA Today)

Breaking down where Cubs can turn NLCS around and beat L.A.

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USA TODAY

Breaking down where Cubs can turn NLCS around and beat L.A.

“Sometimes, you got to lay your marbles out there,” Jon Lester said Sunday night inside Dodger Stadium’s visiting clubhouse, before the Cubs flew home from Los Angeles down 0-2 in the National League Championship Series. “And you get beat.”

It will be extremely difficult for the Cubs to win four of the next five games against the Dodgers, starting Tuesday night at Wrigley Field. But the Cubs had the, uh, marbles to win last year’s World Series and have developed the muscle memory from winning six playoff rounds and playing in 33 postseason games since October 2015.

There is a cross section left of the 2015 team that beat the Pittsburgh Pirates and silenced PNC Park’s blackout crowd in a sudden-death wild-card game. While 2016 is seen in hindsight as a year of destiny, those Cubs still had to kill the myths about the even-year San Francisco Giants, survive a 21-inning scoreless streak against the Dodgers and win Games 5, 6, 7 against the Cleveland Indians under enormous stress.

There is at least a baseline of experience to draw from and the sense that the Cubs won’t panic and beat themselves, the way the Washington Nationals broke down in the NL Division Series.

· Remember the Cubs pointed to how their rotation set up as soon as Cleveland took a 3-1 lead in last year’s World Series: Lester, Jake Arrieta and Kyle Hendricks would each give them a chance to win that night. The Dodgers will now have to deal with last year’s major-league ERA leader (Hendricks) in Game 3 and a Cy Young Award winner (Arrieta) on Wednesday night in Game 4.

“Obviously, we know we need to get wins at this point,” Hendricks said. “But approaching it as a must-win is a little extreme. We've just got to go out there and play our brand of baseball.

“Since we accomplished that, we know we just have to take it game by game. Even being down 3-1 (in the World Series), we worry about the next game. In that situation, we didn’t think we had to win three in a row or anything like that. We just came to the ballpark the next day and worried about what we had to do that day.”

· The history lessons only go so far when the Dodgers can line up Yu Darvish as their Game 3 starter instead of, say, Josh Tomlin. There is also a huge difference between facing a worn-down Cleveland staff in late October/early November and a rested Dodger team that clinched a division title on Sept. 22 and swept the Arizona Diamondbacks in the first round. Joe Blanton and Pedro Baez aren’t walking through that bullpen door, either.

“We’ve done it before. We’ve been there before,” shortstop Addison Russell said. “But this year’s a new year. That’s a different ballclub. We’re definitely going to have to bring it.”

· Outside of Kenley Jansen, can you name anyone else in the Los Angeles bullpen off the top of your head? No doubt, the Dodger relievers have been awesome in Games 1 and 2 combined: Eight scoreless innings, zero hits, zero walks and Anthony Rizzo the only one out of 25 batters to reach base when Jansen hit him with a 93.7-mph pitch.

But the Dodgers are going to make mistakes, and the Cubs will have to capitalize. Unless this is the same kind of synthesis from the 2015 NLCS, when the New York Mets used exhaustive scouting reports, power pitching and pinpoint execution to sweep a Cubs team that had already hit the wall.

“Their bullpen is a lot stronger than it was last year,” Kris Bryant said. “They’re really good at throwing high fastballs in the zone. A lot of other teams try to, and they might hit it one out of every four. But this team, it seems like they really can hammer the top of the zone. And they have guys that throw in the upper 90s, so when you mix those two, it’s tough to catch up.”

· Bryant is not having a good October (5-for-28 with 13 strikeouts) and both Lester and Jose Quintana have more hits (one each) than Javier Baez (0-for-19 with eight strikeouts) during the playoffs. But we are still talking about the reigning NL MVP and last year’s NLCS co-MVP.

Ben Zobrist is clearly diminished and no longer the switch-hitting force who became last year’s World Series MVP. Kyle Schwarber doesn’t have the same intimidation factor or playoff aura right now. But one well-timed bunt from Zobrist or a “Schwarbomb” onto the video board could change the entire direction of this series and put the pressure on a Dodger team that knows this year is World Series or bust.

“We need to hit a couple balls hard consecutively,” manager Joe Maddon said. “Once we’re able to do that, we’ll gain our offensive mojo back. That's all that’s going on.

“I inherited something from my dad, and that was patience. So you’ve got to be patient right now. You’ve got to keep putting the boys back out there. You keep believing in them, and eventually it comes back to you.”

· Maddon is a 63-year-old man who opened Monday’s stadium club press conference at Wrigley Field by talking about dry-humping, clearly annoyed by all the second-guessers on Twitter and know-it-all sports writers who couldn’t believe All-Star closer Wade Davis got stranded in the bullpen, watching the ninth inning of Sunday’s 1-1 game turn into a 4-1 walk-off loss.

By the time a potential save situation develops on Tuesday night, roughly 120 hours will have passed since Davis threw his 44th and final pitch at Nationals Park, striking out Bryce Harper to end an instant classic. Just guessing that Maddon will be in the mood to unleash Davis.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Should the Bears let Mitch Trubisky throw more?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Should the Bears let Mitch Trubisky throw more?

Adam Jahns (Chicago Sun-Times), Ben Finfer (ESPN 1000) and Jordan Cornette (The U/ESPN 1000) join Kap on the panel. Justin Turner hits a walk-off 3-run HR off of John Lackey to give the Dodgers a 2-0 lead in the NLCS. So why was Lackey even in the game? How much blame should Joe Maddon get for the loss?

The Bears run the ball over and over and over again to beat the Ravens in overtime, but should they have let Mitch Trubisky throw the ball more?