Cubs

Cubs: Making sense of the friction between Miguel Montero and Joe Maddon

Cubs: Making sense of the friction between Miguel Montero and Joe Maddon

MESA, Ariz. – "No," Miguel Montero said Wednesday morning, he didn't speak with Joe Maddon at Cubs Convention, directly contradicting what the manager said the day before during the welcome-to-spring-training press conference.  
 
That's Cub? A camp that's supposed to revolve around the themes of being "authentic" and "uncomfortable" – and "don't forget the heartbeat" – already has some interesting personality dynamics between the star manager and the $14 million backup catcher.
 
"We haven't talked," Montero said before pitchers and catchers ran through their first official workout at the Sloan Park complex. "But all I care about is my teammates right now. Other than that, I can care less about the rest, to be honest."
 
Maybe the 2017 season will be all blue skies and Arizona sunshine for the defending World Series champs and Maddon will be right in saying the media has overhyped this. But the obvious friction between Montero and Maddon misses a larger point about why a veteran player would go on WMVP-AM 1000 after the Grant Park championship rally and criticize the manager's communication skills, bullpen management and in-game decisions.
 
A professional athlete can't be misquoted on a radio station, but maybe there can be some room for misinterpretation. Whether these are simply internal tensions that drive every great team – or behind-the-scenes frustrations more specific to the methods in Maddon's madness – Montero didn't completely go rogue.
 
"It's not about me," Montero said. "That's what people probably misunderstood with my comments. It's not really about me. It's about my teammates. I care for them, man. And they know that. That's the beauty of it. They know that I stand (up) for them and I care for each individual in this room." 
 
Montero can be brutally honest, an old-school quality that stands out in a clubhouse filled with younger players who maintain polite relationships with reporters and cultivate their images on social media.

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"I have no problem" with Maddon, Montero said. "I'm here to do my job, simple as that. Whatever it is, I'm here to do my job. At the end of the day, I'm going to stick with my players, with my teammates. So whatever happens, I got their back."
 
Montero will always be a straight shooter with Willson Contreras, who cut into his playing time as a rookie last year and should be the everyday catcher in 2017 and beyond.   
 
"Why would I take it out on him?" Montero said. "It should be my fault that I didn't (do the job). That being said, I can't take anything for granted. I can probably help him get better. And it's going to make me feel pretty good about it when he (succeeds), because I was part of his development. 
 
"Willson's been fun to work with. He's got a lot of talent. He can be one of the best catchers in the big leagues. Obviously, he's still young, still got a lot to prove. But I don't see why he can't do it again even better."
 
The guess here is Montero might feel energized by not having to be part of Grandpa Rossy's yearlong retirement party. But he didn't roll with a softball question about helping fill a leadership void in the clubhouse.
 
"Not really," Montero said. "I'm not here to embrace David Ross' leadership (role) or whatever. I'm not here to replace David Ross' leadership or whatever. I'm here to be me and do whatever I think is the best to help my team to win." 
 
Maddon has taken the high road, pointing out how the Cubs won with Montero: blasting a pinch-hit grand slam against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series; helping Aroldis Chapman recover from an epic blown save and get through the ninth inning against the Cleveland Indians; driving in the winning run in a World Series Game 7.        
 
"I have nothing to clear the air about personally," Maddon said. "Like I've said before, at the end of last season, I know that he was not happy with the role that he had in the playoffs. However, like I said, we had discussed everything prior to that. So I am always open to discussions, but I honestly don't believe that he is all that upset about anything right now, either. 
 
"It's one of those things that I think sometimes gets over-made, overblown. I understand that it reads well. But at the end of the day, man, I have a lot of respect for him. He's a big part of what we're going to do again this year. And he was so large in our success at the end of last season. Listen, man, we do not win the ring without him."

Chicago athletes react to nationwide unrest over George Floyd killing

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NBC CHICAGO

Chicago athletes react to nationwide unrest over George Floyd killing

Chicago athletes are using their social media platforms to react to the nationwide unrest following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.

Cubs second baseman Jason Kipnis quoted Martin Luther King Jr., expressing sadness over the fallout, which has included riots in cities across the nation.

Saturday night, White Sox starter Lucas Giolito said it's "time to do better" and "time for true equality & justice for all Americans." Bulls guard Zach LaVine, who played three seasons in Minnesota, tweeted "this has been going on for hundreds of years now!"

White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson tweeted Nike's response, a somber video calling on Americans to "all be part of the change." Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward shared the same video on his Instagram story.

Bulls big man Wendell Carter Jr. asked "Is it that hard to just do the right thing and love one another" on Twitter.

Cubs World Series hero Dexter Fowler posted a photo on Instagram reading "I can't breathe" Thursday, writing "This isn't right. This can't go on."

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Here’s the thing. I know it’s hard to fully grasp why black people are outraged. It’s hard to grasp unless you’ve seen people hold their purses tighter when you walk by, when you have people refer to you as “not black” when you’re not “ghetto”. When your parents have to give you a talk when you’re just a kid. “you can’t act like your white friends. you’ll get killed. they won’t” This is a generational discussion EVERY black family has. It terrifies you as a kid, and as an adult. You don’t understand why we know, those officers didn’t flinch at murdering that man, because he is black. The race card. We hold it. You tell us “it’s not about race” if we ever hold you to it. You don’t want us to have even that 1 bone chilling “privilege” of defense. You don’t want us to hold any privilege. We don’t hold the privilege of being a criminal, making a mistake, or simply taking a jog, the same as a white man, and being treated the same. He couldn’t breathe. He was murdered. They were gently fired from their jobs. This isn’t right. This can’t go on. (if you assume “you”, is you, and you’re upset about the generalization...... just think about that for a second)

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What a 2020 Cubs season might look like if MLB, union reach agreement

What a 2020 Cubs season might look like if MLB, union reach agreement

Assuming safety protocols are effective enough to allow teams to play in their home stadiums and prevent coronavirus outbreaks well enough to play the three-month MLB season and subsequent postseason, we took a shot, based on conversations with multiple industry sources, at answering how the Cubs might handle several logistical questions.

The nature of the COVID-19 pandemic makes any plan open to sudden and possibly dramatic change. But if the current trends don’t change significantly in the coming weeks and months, and the generally optimistic signals from local authorities continue, a baseball season in Chicago can start to at least be envisioned. 

And here are seven glimpses of what that vision might include — with an unexpected bonus to whet fan appetite at No. 4.

What a 2020 Cubs season might look like if MLB, union reach agreement

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