Cubs

Cubs hoping to capture some of the Blackhawks' Stanley Cup buzz

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Cubs hoping to capture some of the Blackhawks' Stanley Cup buzz

Kris Bryant has only been here for two months, but he’s already noticed how much Chicago likes its hockey team. 

Hours before Bryant scored the game-winning run in the Cubs’ 4-3 win over Cincinnati on Saturday, he and his teammates got a first-hand look at how popular the Blackhawks are in the city — and, if this World Series-starved franchise is allowed to thing big, just how much buzz there could be around the Cubs if they make a playoff run this year.

During a rain delay that lasted 2:48, Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final between the Blackhawks and Lightning played on the newly-installed Wrigley Field video boards — except, ironically, when a message had to be shown urging fans to seek shelter due to lightning in the area.

The crowd of 40,693 roared when a replay of Patrick Sharp’s goal played on the left field video board and the Blackhawks’ goal horn and Chelsea Dagger blared over the Wrigley Field loudspeakers. Chants of “Let’s go Hawks” broke out after Antoine Vermette scored what turned out to be the game-winning goal. What was left of the crowd when the Blackhawks game ended erupted in cheers to celebrate the team being one win away from their third Stanley Cup since 2010.

“It’s kinda cool, you got a baseball game and a hockey game in one. You don’t get that too often,” Bryant said. “But yeah, the Chicago fans are the best in baseball, the best in sports, I think. It’s pretty cool to see that first-hand.

“… I hope that they’d be doing that for us, too, and I know they would. We can’t look really too far ahead right now.”

[MORE: Joe Maddon not concerned as strikeouts pile up]

In beating Cincinnati on Saturday, manager Joe Maddon observed the kind of victory he feels could be characteristic of a team playing into October as soon as this fall.

Starlin Castro’s walk-off single came nearly five and a half hours after first pitch thanks to that lengthy rain delay that stopped the game after five innings. Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks only allowed a solo home run to Joey Votto and struck out seven while needing just 57 pitches to roll through his five innings of work.

The Cubs took a 3-1 lead into the delay on Miguel Montero’s two-run blast and some smart baserunning from Bryant, who hustled in from third on Castro’s grounder to shortstop Eugenio Suarez — who was playing back but still threw home — and was ruled safe after a lengthy review. But that lead quickly evaporated after the rain stopped, as James Russell served up an equalizing two-run home run to Suarez in the sixth.

Addison Russell led of the bottom of the eighth with a double, though, and with the top of the Cubs’ order up it looked like a perfect chance to end the late-night stalemate. But Dexter Fowler whiffed on a bunt attempt and Russell stumbled trying to get back to second on catcher Tucker Barnhart’s throw, falling victim to a 2-6 pickoff.

Fowler promptly doubled and advanced to third when second baseman Kristopher Negron could only keep Chris Coghlan’s smash in the hole in the infield. That set up Anthony Rizzo for an opportunity to break out of his mini-slump, but the first baseman bounced into a double play to end the frame.

[NBC SPORTS SHOP: Get your Cubs gear right here]

Cincinnati put the go-ahead run on third with two out in the ninth, though Jason Motte was able to pitch over it to set up Castro’s heroics.

Bryant led off the ninth with a hustle double to left, and after Montero was plunked, Castro lined a Tony Cingrani fastball into center for the walk-off hit.

Maddon said, despite the lengthy delay and some mishaps after it, he never saw the fight go out of his team. The dramatic victory proved his point, and the guy who managed the Tampa Bay Rays to the playoffs four times feels he saw the right kind of attitude from his team Saturday night.

It's the same kind of attitude that could lead to massive celebrations for a Cubs win at an October Blackhawks game someday.

“We had double, double, single and don’t score (in the eighth). That’s hard to do, actually,” Maddon smiled. “Frustrating to a certain extent, very gratifying on a bigger scale because of the way we did it and what it means and how our guys should feel about it. That’s what I want to really highly emphasize, is that’s what gets you to play in October, to win a game like that.”

Ben Zobrist provides a hilarious glimpse into how he's spending a free October

Ben Zobrist provides a hilarious glimpse into how he's spending a free October

Ben Zobrist won't win the Comeback Player of the Year award this winter, but maybe he can take home a Grammy for Best New Artist?

The Cubs veteran infielder/outfielder posted a hilarious video on his Instagram Wednesday night showcasing how he's been spending October after the Cubs were unceremoniously ousted from the playoffs after on the third day of the month.

It's a fantastic music video of Zobrist lip-syncing to Mumford & Sons' "I Will Wait" while he nearly knocks the TV off the wall of his home by swinging the bat indoors pretending to hit off Clayton Kershaw and frolicking around a field that looks shockingly similar to Hershel's farm from the second season of "The Walking Dead":

View this post on Instagram

It always takes me a few weeks to process the season and begin the offseason. Here are my thoughts.....along with a unique way of making light of the postseason that should have been......... (special thanks to @dimtillard for help with Video) Maybe you feel the way I do. It was a very quick and abrupt ending to a good season for us. It leaves a sour taste in my mouth. But let’s not forget all the good that happened. This game and this team gives us something to pass the time, to express our love and passion, to feel the joy of the wins and the pains of the losses, and it calls us to unity when we so easily can be divided about so many other things. Each game is a microcosm of life. The game itself is not Life, but it helps us deal with life in a way. I’m thankful for even the painful losses at the end. The game can be a great teacher. I felt privileged to play with this team and play for our fans all year. We were stretched and we grew in new ways as individuals and as a group and that is always a good thing. We strive to win championships, but more often the process is the goal. We will be stronger because of all that we went through this year. What will I do now? I will travel and watch my wife crush her book tour. I will be in and out of Chi-town. I just got back home to Franklin, TN. I will find joy in raising and watching my kids grow and continue becoming their own person. I will rest and begin preparing for next season. I will work hard in mind, body, and spirit. I will help other players with @patriotforward and @showandgo. I will focus on personal growth and charitable endeavors and become a better man, teammate, friend, and player. To Baseball and Fans: For the next 5 months until I play next year.... I will wait for you....

A post shared by Ben Zobrist (@benzobrist18) on

Zobrist also posted a lengthy caption on his perspective on the Cubs' disappointing end to the season:

It always takes me a few weeks to process the season and begin the offseason. Here are my thoughts.....along with a unique way of making light of the postseason that should have been......... (special thanks to @dimtillard for help with Video) 
Maybe you feel the way I do. It was a very quick and abrupt ending to a good season for us. It leaves a sour taste in my mouth. But let’s not forget all the good that happened. This game and this team gives us something to pass the time, to express our love and passion, to feel the joy of the wins and the pains of the losses, and it calls us to unity when we so easily can be divided about so many other things. Each game is a microcosm of life. The game itself is not
Life, but it helps us deal with life in a way. I’m thankful for even the painful losses at the end. The game can be a great teacher. 
I felt privileged to play with this team and play for our fans all year. We were stretched and we grew in new ways as individuals and as a group and that is always a good thing. We strive to win championships, but more often the process is the goal. We will be stronger because of all that we went through this year. 
What will I do now? I will travel and watch my wife crush her book tour. I will be in and out of Chi-town. I just got back home to Franklin, TN. I will find joy in raising and watching my kids grow and continue becoming their own person. I will rest and begin preparing for next season. I will work hard in mind, body, and spirit. I will help other players with @patriotforward and @showandgo. I will focus on personal growth and charitable endeavors and become a better man, teammate, friend, and player. 
To Baseball and Fans: For the next 5 months until I play next year....
I will wait for you....

Come for the Zobrist lip sync, but stay for the 37-year-old using a bat as a guitar while wearing a sleeveless shirt and rocking an old-timey top hat.

A year ago, Zobrist completely reshaped his offseason workout plan after three straight years of playing deep into October. It appears he's added another new trick to his winter workout — hopping over fences even though there is a clear opening just a foot away.

Hey, whatever works...

Cubs Talk Podcast: Manny Machado’s value and other Cubs offseason wish list items

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Manny Machado’s value and other Cubs offseason wish list items

Did Manny Machado’s value take a hit at all after he openly admitted hustling isn’t his “cup of tea”? Our Cubs team (David Kaplan, Kelly Crull, Tony Andracki, Jeff Nelson) debate that, plus the potential fit of Machado or Bryce Harper for the 2019 Cubs and beyond.

[MORE: The most underrated storyline of the Cubs offseason]

The crew also runs down the top items on the Cubs’ offseason wish list – ranging from bullpen help to infield depth to a set leadoff hitter – in what may be the most impactful winter in Theo Epstein’s tenure in Chicago.

Listen to the podcast here or via the embedded player below: