Cubs

Cubs prospect Kyle Schwarber keeping it 'stupid'

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Cubs prospect Kyle Schwarber keeping it 'stupid'

Kyle Schwarber Watch has officially begun.

With Kris Bryant and Addison Russell playing every day in Chicago, Schwarber is the top prospect remaining in the Cubs system.

And he's playing like it.

[SHOP: Gear up, Cubs fans]

The 22-year-old slugger is hitting .322/.440/.585 (1.025 OPS) with 13 homers, 39 RBI and a 39:46 walk-to-strikeout ratio in 54 games with Double-A Tennessee.

That actually put him slightly ahead of Bryant's pace at the level. Through the first 45 games at Double-A, Bryant posted a 1.054 OPS with 12 homers while Schwarber also hit 12 homers, but posted a 1.087 OPS.

With the hot start to the season, Schwarber now has 31 homers, 92 RBI and a 1.046 OPS in the last calendar year - 126 games of professional baseball since the Cubs selected him fourth overall in last June's MLB Draft.

[MORE CUBS: Cubs VP Jason McLeod - No rush with Kyle Schwarber]

What's his secret?

"It just goes back to what my approach is at the plate, just trying to keep it simple," Schwarber told Smokies broadcaster Mick Gillispie. "Getting my pitch and when I do get my pitch, take advantage of it.

"When things do get bad, that's when you have to really lock in and go back to your approach - keep it simple and keep it stupid and just do what you do best. It's just baseball."

Schwarber was named the Cubs' minor league player of the month for May and has been hitting so well, many thought he would be called up to serve as the big-league's designated hitter during a stretch of games in American League parks starting this week.

Schwarber hasn't been called up (yet), but he insists he's not concerned with his timeline or when the next promotion may come. He's just keeping his head down and playing baseball, focusing on the task at hand.

[RELATED - Cubs keeping Kyle Schwarber out of the DH picture]

On the final day of the 2015 Draft Wednesday, the Cubs took a pair of Schwarber's former battery mates at Indiana in back-to-back rounds (Jake Kelzer and Scott Effross in Rounds 14 and 15).

When the Cubs drafted Schwarber a year ago out of IU, there were major questions about whether he could stick at catcher or not. Schwarber insists he can hang at the position and the Cubs are giving him every chance to prove it, as he's only played catcher or DH so far this season.

The questions about Schwarber's defense behind the plate haven't gone away and the slugger knows he has plenty to learn, even if his bat is close to being big-league ready.

"Everything behind the plate is all a challenge," Schwarber told Gillispie. "You're always trying to think along with your pitcher, you're always trying to think what the best pitch is or what count to get this guy out or what are we going to do to set this guy up.

"Controlling the baserunning game - that's a big emphasis I want to improve on. Receiving, blocking, everything about that position is vital and it translates to the game, so you have to be really clean in all parts of that position."

Check out more from Schwarber's interview with Gillispie in the video above.

Cubs, Bears, Bulls among the top 25 wealthiest sports teams in the world

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USA TODAY

Cubs, Bears, Bulls among the top 25 wealthiest sports teams in the world

What Chicago sports team is worth the most money in 2018?

As reported by Kurt Badenhausen in a Forbes article about the 50 richest teams around the globe, the Cubs are the most valuable organization in the Windy City.

Chicago’s North Side baseball team ranks as the 16th wealthiest team in the world, valued at $2.9 billion, an 8 percent increase from 2017. The Cubs are the third-most affluent franchise in Major League Baseball, behind the New York Yankees ($4 billion) and the Los Angeles Dodgers ($3 billion).

This year, the baseball club owned by the Ricketts family surpassed the wealth of the Boston Red Sox ($2.8 billion), who the Cubs were ranked behind last season at $2.68 billion. In the span of a year, the North Siders gained two spots in the top 50 from 18 to 16 on the list.

What could be the reason for this increase?

Could it be that the Cubs are in first place in the NL Central? Or could it be the incredible performances from players like Jon Lester and Javy Baez?

Whatever the reason is for the Cubs’ prosperity, the team is doing something right.

The club also surpassed the Bears on the list this year. In 2017 the Bears (worth $2.7 billion last year) were tied with the Red Sox as the 16th most valuable sports team on Earth. The McCaskey-owned football team has fallen to a tie at 17 with the San Francisco Giants, both valued at $2.85 billion in 2018. The Bears even increased by 6 percent in the last year, making the Cubs’ jump seem greater.

The Bulls, owned by Jerry Reinsdorf, are the last team from Chicago to make the cut. They stand at 23 in the top 50, tied with the Denver Broncos. Both franchises are worth $2.6 billion. Chicago’s NBA team even fell a spot from 2017, but they still increased their value by 4 percent (worth $2.5 billion last year).

The Bears are the seventh richest team in the NFL, while the Bulls are fourth wealthiest in the NBA.

It looks like rough times are ahead for Brewers relief ace Josh Hader

It looks like rough times are ahead for Brewers relief ace Josh Hader

The Brewers' best pitcher is in some serious hot water before the second half of the MLB season gets underway.

As he was serving up a 3-run homer in the All-Star Game Tuesday night, Josh Hader's Tweets from 2011 were aired publicly and the result was...not good.

Hader's Tweets as a 17-year-old reflected racist and homophobic remarks, among other issues. (A summary of his Tweets can be found at Deadspin.)

After the All-Star Game, Hader was immediately put in front of reporters to respond to the Tweets and admitted he will accept any punishment that comes his way — including any possible suspension:

He won't be suspended by the league and will instead under go sensitivity training, but this absolutely could affect Hader mentally moving forward. 

Case in point:

He can ask teammate Ryan Braun how to deal when fans turn on you, but it's going to be a lot more difficult for a 24-year-old in his first full big-league season to deal with any hate that comes down. 

Hader has been the Brewers' most valuable pitcher all season, going 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA, 0.79 WHIP and a ridiculous 16.7 K/9. 

But over the last month-plus, he's been...human.

Ever since Jason Heyward turned on a 98 mph Hader fastball to tie the game in Milwaukee on June 11, the Brewers' relief ace has a 2.84 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and 13.5 K/9.

Still great numbers, to be sure, but not the Superman-esque line baseball fans came to expect from Hader after the first couple months of 2018. (Plus, the All-Star Game homer he served up to Jean Segura, but that obviously doesn't count for anything.)

With the Brewers already chasing the Cubs by 2.5 games in the division in the second half, they can't afford Hader's slump to worsen.

Though Cubs fans may be rooting for that...