Cubs

Blogs with Balls returns to Chicago for annual event

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Blogs with Balls returns to Chicago for annual event

Blogs with Balls, an annual summit featuring sports bloggers and mainstream media members, will kickoff its event on Wednesday in Chicago, returning to the Windy City for the first time since 2010. 

"This is the 3rd time BWB is holding an event in Chicago,” said Don Povia, Co-Founder, Blogs With Balls and Managing Partner, Transition Sports & Entertainment. “There are very few sports towns that match the Windy City's passion for its teams. BWB is truly a community-based event - both from a topical and geographical standpoint - and we are fortunate to have been embraced by locally by those communities, none as much as the team at Comcast SportsNet Chicago. From contributions of its personalities (including Dave Kaplan this year) and staff, our success in Chicago can be directly attributed to CSN Chicago's continued support."

“Blogs With Balls continues to make a positive impact in their leadership in the sports new media area in bringing together fantastic thought leaders for engaging and relevant conversations,” said T.K. Gore, Senior Director, Digital of Comcast SportsNet Chicago. “We are thrilled to partner with #BWB6 to help bring the Chicago sports community together plus showcase and distribute the quality content via this year’s strong lineup of panelists and speakers.”

The event will be held at First Ward Events (2033 West North Ave) from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Tickets are still on sale for the public and can be purchased here.

Here's a list of the panels and speakers scheduled for the #BWB6 event. You can find a full description of each panel here:

Measuring Online Influence

9:45 -10:15am

• JR Jackson, JR Sport Brief
• Brandon Williams, Ketchum Sports & Entertainment
• Kyle Nelson, MVP Index

Athletes off the Field

10:15-10:45am

• Keith Bulluck, NFL; Managing Partner – Transition Sports & Entertainment
• Tim Ryan, Writer/Humorist/Fashion Critic
• Matt Sebek,  Founder – JoeSportsFan.com, RookiesApp.com & CastApp.co
• Mike Dolan,  Athletes Quarterly
• Shawn Smith,  XAM Sports

Like, Follow, Swipe Right: How the NBA is Connecting with Fans in the Modern Era

10:45 – 11:25am

• Zach Harper, CBS Sports
• Eddie Maisonet III, The Sports Fan Journal
• Andrew Nicholson, Sacramento Kings
• Lang Whitaker, NBA.com

Fresh Kicks: The Evolution of SLAM

11:25 – 11:55am

• Scoop Jackson
• Ben Osborne
• Quinn Peterson

The State of Chicago Sports (and Media)

11:55 – 12:40pm

• Moderator:  Sarah Spain, ESPN
• Jon Greenberg, ESPN Chicago
• Laurence Holmes, 670 The Score
• David Kaplan, Comcast SportsNet Chicago
• Jen Lada, Comcast SportsNet Chicago

• Dan Katz, Barstool Big Cat

Ask Spencer Anything

1:05 – 1:15pm

The Business of Football

1:15 – 1:35pm

Q&A with NFLPA Assistant Executive Director of External Affairs George Atallah & NFLPA President/Cincinnati Bengal Eric Winston.

We’ll Do It Live

1:35 – 2:00pm

• Jay Busbee, Yahoo
• Kevin Kaduk, Yahoo
• Frank Schwab, Yahoo

One-On-One: Christina & Fallon

2:00 – 2:20pm

Chicago-based journalist and activist Christina Kahrl interviews Chicago-based MMA fighter Fallon Fox.

Breaking Away From the Narrative: How to Navigate the Waters of 24/7 NFL Coverage

2:20 – 3:05pm

• Moderator, Michael Schottey, Bleacher Report, Football Insiders
• Eric Edholm, Yahoo! Sports
• Andrea Hangst, Bleacher Report
• Maggie Hendricks, USA Today
• Robert Klemko, MMQB

Your Pitch is Futile

3:05 – 3:45pm

• Mitch Germann, Fleishman-Hillard
• Ryan Glasspiegel, The Big Lead
• Robert Littal, Black Sports Online
• Dayn Perry, CBS Sports
• Zack Smith, Taylor

Justice, Society and the Rise of Online and Athlete Activists

3:45 – 4:30

• Moderator:  Kevin Blackistone, ESPN
• Julie DiCaro, A League of Her Own
• Aaron Harison, Co-Founder & President, Washington Free Beacon
• Greg Howard, Deadspin
• Chris Kluwe, NFL
• Cyd Zeigler, Outsports

For more on BWB6, visit their website and follow them on Twitter at @BlogsWithBalls

Jason Kipnis comes home looking to write one final chapter of his career

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USA Today

Jason Kipnis comes home looking to write one final chapter of his career

Jason Kipnis, who’s potentially the Cubs’ new second baseman but indisputably the pride of Northbrook, said there’s one major reason why his possible reunion with Wrigley Field is so exciting.

“Now I don’t have to hate the 'Go Cubs Go' song,” he quipped.

Kipnis was a late addition to the Cubs’ roster, and still not even a guaranteed one at that. After almost a decade spent being one of the Cleveland Indians’ cornerstones, Kipnis arrived in Mesa on a minor league contract, looking to win a job. Ironically, being with his hometown team is unfamiliar territory for the two-time All-Star. 

“[Leaving Cleveland] was hard at first,” he said. “You get used to the same place for 9-10 years, and I think it’s a little hard right now coming in and being the new guy and being lost and not knowing where to go. But it’ll be fun. It’s exciting. It’s kind of out of the comfort zone again, which is kind of what you want right now – to be uncomfortable. I don’t know, I’ve missed this feeling a little bit, so it’ll be good.”

It was a slow offseason for the second baseman, but the second baseman said that he was weighing offers from several teams. Opportunity and organizational direction dictated most of his decision-making, but Kipnis admitted that the forces around him were all, rather unsubtly, pulling him in one direction.

“They were telling me to take a deal, take a cut, whatever. Just get here,” he joked. “... It made sense, it really did. I think I didn't fully understand it until it was announced and my phone started blowing up and I realized just how many people this impacted around my life. Friends and family still live in Chicago, so it’s going to be exciting.”

The theme of renewed motivation has hung around Sloan Park like an early-morning Arizona chill, and Kipnis said part of the reason he feels the Cubs brought him in is to set a fire under some guys. He talked with Anthony Rizzo during the offseason, who talked about how the Cubs had struggled at times to put an appropriate emphasis on each of the 162 games in a regular season. That’s not a new problem in baseball, and it struck a chord with Kipnis, who himself was on plenty of talented Cleveland teams that never got over the hump. 

“They got a good core here. I’m well aware of that, they’re well aware of that, too,” he said. “I texted him and called him and asked him what happened last year, because I look at rosters, I look at St. Louis’, I look at all that, and I’m like, ‘I still would take your guys roster.’” 

As for his direct competition, Kipnis said he hasn’t had a chance to really get to know Nico Hoerner yet, but doesn’t feel like the battle for second base has to be a contentious one by any means. At 32, Kipnis has been around long enough to understand the dynamics an aging veteran vs. a top prospect, and doesn't feel like it’s a situation where only one of them will end up benefiting. 

“I know he came up and had a pretty good success, so I think [it’s] going to be a competition, but at the same time, I’m not going to try to put him down,” he said. “I’d like to work with him, kind of teach him what I know too and hopefully both of us become better from it.” 

According to Javy Baez, the Cubs need to improve their pregame focus

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USA Today

According to Javy Baez, the Cubs need to improve their pregame focus

While the Cubs’ decline has been talked about over and over again, it’s always been framed in relatively vague terms. Perhaps in the interest of protecting a former manager who is still well-liked within the clubhouse, specifics were always avoided. It was just a change that was needed.

That is, until Javy Baez spoke on Sunday morning. In no unclear terms, Baez took a stab at explaining why such a talented team has fallen short of expectations in back-to-back seasons. 

“It wasn’t something bad, but we had a lot of options – not mandatory,” Baez said from his locker at Sloan Park. “Everybody kind of sat back, including me, because I wasn’t really going out there and preparing for the game. I was getting ready during the game, which is not good. But this year, I think before the games we’ve all got to be out there, everybody out there, as a team. Stretch as a team, be together as a team so we can play together.”

Related: What to love, and hate, about the Cubs heading into 2020

The star shortstop's comments certainly track. Maddon is widely considered one of the better managers in baseball, but discipline and structure have never been key pillars of his leadership style. He intrinsically trusts players to get their own work done – something that's clearly an appreciated aspect of his personality... until it isn't. World Series hangovers don’t exist four years after the fact but given Maddon’s immediate success in Chicago, it’s easy to understand how players let off the gas pedal. 

“I mean I would just get to the field and instead of going outside and hit BP, I would do everything inside, which is not the same,” he said. “Once I’d go out to the game, I’d feel like l wasn’t ready. I felt like I was getting loose during the first 4 innings, and I should be ready and excited to get out before the first pitch.” 

“You can lose the game in the first inning. Sometimes when you’re not ready, and the other team scores by something simple, I feel like it was because of that. It was because we weren’t ready, we weren’t ready to throw the first pitch because nobody was loose.” 

Baez also promised that this year would be far more organized and rigid. They will stretch as a team, warm up outside as a team and hopefully rediscover that early-game focus that may have slipped away during the extended victory lap. That may mean less giant hacks, too. 

“Sometimes we’re up by a lot or down by a lot and we wanted to hit homers,” he said. “That’s really not going to work for the team. It’s about getting on base and giving the at-bat to the next guy, and sometimes we forget about that because of the situation of the game. I think that’s the way you get back to the game – going pitch by pitch and at-bat by at-bat.” 

Baez was less specific when it came to his contractual discussions with the team, only saying that negotiations were “up and down.” He’d like to play his whole career here and would be grateful if an extension was reached before Opening Day – he’s just not counting on it. The focus right now is on recapturing some of that 2016 drive and the rest, according to him, will take care of itself.

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