Cubs

Cubs pushing to host 2020 All-Star Game at Wrigley Field

Cubs pushing to host 2020 All-Star Game at Wrigley Field

The Cubs are lobbying Major League Baseball to host the All-Star Game, targeting 2020 as the ideal time to showcase a fully renovated Wrigley Field.
 
If that All-Star question seems to come up at Cubs Convention on an almost annual basis, there are reasons to think it's becoming less of a hypothetical: The pace of construction and progress with the $600 million Wrigleyville development combined with Commissioner Rob Manfred's leadership style and sense of urgency to grow the game.  
 
Still buzzing from their champagne-fueled celebrations, the Cubs have been working with City Hall on their sales pitch to a commissioner's office that no longer believes in simply alternating the marquee event between the American and National leagues each year, hoping to make it more like the bidding for a Super Bowl.   
 
"I'm optimistic," business operations president Crane Kenney said Saturday at the downtown Sheraton Grand hotel. "No question, Chicago would be an incredible venue. We saw it during the World Series and the playoffs. We saw it with the TV ratings that were generated.
 
"We think an All-Star Game here would be hugely popular and do great things for our city and great television ratings for the league."
 
The Cubs need Mayor Rahm Emanuel – who delivered the NFL draft the last two years after a long run at New York's Radio City Music Hall – to help with an economic message and an increased security plan around an urban neighborhood ballpark that hasn't hosted the Midsummer Classic since 1990.

[SHOP: Gear up, Cubs fans!]
 
"We should get the All-Star Game," Kenney said. "In 2020, our building's complete, and what (better) way to celebrate the completion of our building than host the All-Star Game?
 
"If you think about the economic impact of the World Series, the All-Star Game is another World Series, right? So the city wants it. We want it. But we got to convince Manfred that we've earned it. It's a little bit of politics. He has a very open mind to Wrigley getting the All-Star Game at some point.
 
"We're working closely with the city. We've got a great partnership with Mayor Emanuel, and he understands the value of this team in this market. He would like to see nothing more than an All-Star Game."
 
One potential roadblock: After striking out on other proposals, the Ricketts family used private mechanisms to bankroll the Wrigleyville project at a time when All-Star Games have been used as bargaining chips in public negotiations in cities like Miami and Washington. Marlins Park (2017) and Nationals Park (2018) will make it four straight All-Star Games for NL stadiums.  
 
"We still think we're deserving," Kenney said. "There's a reality to the All-Star Game, though. The All-Star Game gets held based on the commissioner's discretion and typically awarded to cities that have supported the clubs through public financing. 
 
"So if you just look at the slate of cities that are going to get it – from the last couple years going forward – they are generally cities that have new ballparks that were financed with some city support. That obviously didn't happen here. 
 
"It is a little bit of a hurdle for the league to suggest you should reward the city of Chicago – and us with an All-Star Game – when we didn't get the kind of support the other cities got."

Cubs playoff race: Cardinals deliver a devastating gut punch

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AP

Cubs playoff race: Cardinals deliver a devastating gut punch

Each game of the final week-and-a-half of the season holds enormous ramifications for the National League playoff race.

The Cubs missed a golden opportunity to make up more ground in the hunt for October against the Reds, losing both Tuesday and Wednesday night. However, they still woke up Thursday morning in control of their own destiny with seven of their final 10 games coming against the division-leading St. Louis Cardinals.

That still wasn't enough to jumpstart the Cubs, as they lost 5-4 to the Cardinals in 10 innings Thursday evening to fall 4 games back in the NL Central with only nine games remaining.

The Cubs have now lost three straight games at Wrigley Field, where they've typically been lights-out this season. It was only the second time all season they lost three games in a row at home.

Quick thoughts

—That one hurts. Big time.

The Cubs offense couldn't do much against Jack Flaherty all night, but broke through with a wild rally in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game and send it into extra innings. 

The 3-run inning had Wrigley rocking as 39,524 fans were on Cloud 9, thinking they were on the verge of the biggest win of the season.

Then Matt Carpenter happened. 

He drilled the first pitch he saw from Craig Kimbrel into the center field bleachers for a go-ahead homer and an absolutely devastating gut punch to the Cubs.

—It was a story ripped right from Hollywood — Anthony Rizzo returning from a badly sprained right ankle to enter the starting lineup just 20 minutes before first pitch

Rizzo was wearing a huge boot on his right foot and had to use a scooter to get around Wrigley Field the last couple days, yet was out in left field Thursday evening in full uniform, running and jumping around on his ankle.

Oh yeah, and he also homered, tying the game with a blast into the left-field bleachers in his second at-bat.

Somehow, all that wasn't enough to spark his teammates until the ninth inning. Rizzo eventually left the game in the sixth inning after his third at-bat, with Ian Happ taking over at first. It remains to be seen if Rizzo will be able to play at all the rest of this series, but the Cubs lineup certainly needs him.

—This is the first time the Cardinals have won a game at Wrigley Field since Sept. 29 of last season. They were swept in both of their previous trips to "The Friendly Confines" this season.

It's also the worst start Kyle Hendricks has had against the Redbirds in more than two years:

Hendricks entered the game with the best home ERA in baseball and had allowed only 1 run and 19 baserunners in 23 innings against the Cardinals this season, but wound up charged with all 4 runs on 8 hits in 5.1 innings.

The Cubs felt really good about their chances to start this series off on the right foot behind their home ace, even with Flaherty going on the other side.

But things don't always play out according to plan, which might as well be the tagline for the 2019 Cubs season.

—Flaherty is a legit stud and going to be a serious problem for the Cubs over the next few seasons.

He's been on a Jake Arrieta circa 2015 run since the All-Star Break, entering play Thursday with a 1.05 ERA and 99 strikeouts in 77.1 second-half innings. He continued that trend by allowing only 3 hits and a run in 8 strong innings, striking out 8 Cubs.

Brewers update

The Brewers beat the Padres 5-1 in Milwaukee, so they leapfrog the Cubs for the second Wild-Card spot. 

They welcome the hapless Pirates into town Friday and get to finish their season playing another pair of teams with losing records (Reds, Rockies) on the road.

Nationals update

Washington did not play Thursday, so the Brewers moved to 1 game behind the Nationals for the top Wild-Card spot. The Cubs are now 2 games behind the Nationals.

One of the saving graces for the Cubs is the fact that they have a tough remaining schedule — five against the Phillies (including a doubleheader next Tuesday) and three against the Indians to end the season.

But the Nats do get to head to Miami this weekend to take on the Marlins, owners of the worst record in the NL.

What's next?

The Cubs and Cardinals have a quick turnaround as they play again Friday afternoon at 1:20. It'll be Alec Mills pitching for the Cubs against St. Louis' Michael Wacha. 

The Cubs still have life left in this season, but they are now out of a playoff spot for the first time in months and need to turn things around in a hurry. They essentially have to win each of the next three games at Wrigley this weekend to even have a shot at chasing down the Cardinals in the division.

Sports Talk Live Podcast: The guys react to the breaking news of Rizzo returning to the lineup

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USA TODAY

Sports Talk Live Podcast: The guys react to the breaking news of Rizzo returning to the lineup

David Haugh, Hub Arkush and Phil Rogers join Kap on the panel.

0:00- The guys react to the breaking news of Anthony Rizzo returning to the lineup just four days after his brutal ankle injury. Plus they preview the huge Cubs/Cardinals showdown.

12:30- Mitch Trubisky says his offense believes they can turn things around. Will they?

20:30- NBC Sports Washington's JP Finlay joins Kap to provide a scouting report on the Redskins.

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