Cubs return to work after celebrating NLDS victory


Cubs return to work after celebrating NLDS victory

Perhaps a little groggy and gruff after a 42-hour celebration complete with rock star sing-alongs, the discovery and retrieval of Kyle Schwarber’s legendary homerun ball and a baseball watch party, the Cubs returned to work on Thursday.

As he stepped to the podium before an afternoon workout at Wrigley Field, Cubs manager Joe Maddon bore the spoils of Tuesday’s victory to advance to the National League Championship Series in the form of a cold and an extra gravely voice.

Much like his players, Maddon relished the rare chance to enjoy a few days off in a city famished for a winner after the Cubs punched their ticket to the NLCS early with a Game 4 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals. With Game 1 of the NLCS not until Saturday night, the veteran manager thinks celebrating success is a perfect way for Cubs players to maintain a loose attitude that already has helped them advance through two postseason rounds.

“I’m hanging in there,” Maddon said. “It’s not easy having a good time.”

“I like the idea that they’re able to blow it off a little bit and then come back and refocus. I don’t want them grinding it too hard because that’s definitely going to get in the way.”

[SHOP: Buy Cubs playoff gear]

“I don’t want it misconstrued either -- it’s not like everybody’s a big party animal. “It’s just a matter of we have celebrated success.”

Have they ever.

The Chicago Tribune reported that Theo Epstein, the club’s president of baseball operations, took his scouting staff out to celebrate Tuesday’s win alongside ex-pitcher Kerry Wood, Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder and actor Joel Murray.

First baseman Anthony Rizzo, outfielder Dexter Fowler and catcher David Ross reportedly were seen clubbing on Tuesday. Footage of Vedder playing his Cubs tribute song “All The Way” at Jon Lester’s house early Wednesday morning also surfaced on the Internet.

Those events preceded Wednesday’s baseball watch party, where players convened to watch both American League playoff games and play video games.

“It’s nice to be able to celebrate without any consequences the next day,” Ross said. “(It’s) exhausting. Is that a good word? I’m tired of smiling if that can get ever old. It’s just been fun, the emotion and the celebrating with these guys that have never done it.”

[MORE: Cubs will rely on Javy Baez for NLCS with Addison Russell out]

Part of the fun adding to the fervor was the discovery of Schwarber’s homerun ball atop the right field scoreboard, a no-doubter lists as having traveled 438 feet at a velocity of 112.3 miles per hour.

After the ball was sighted, the Cubs had it authenticated, returned it to where it was found and determined it would remain encased there for the rest of the postseason.

“Pure genius,” Maddon said of the idea.

Starlin Castro has been here six seasons and he can’t quite wrap his head around what he has seen.

Whether it was the thousands of fans who stayed inside Wrigley Field and clogged the streets afterward or the many well-wishers who have congratulated him since,

Castro hasn’t experienced anything like this and hopes for more.

[ALSO: Cubs lining up Lester-Arrieta for first two games of NLCS]

“It’s been unbelievable,” Castro said. “I just walked in the streets yesterday and it’s unbelievable. Everybody recognizes you even more now and everybody’s crazy, everybody’s happy.

“In all the years I have been here I’ve never seen the city like that and I think it’s going to be more fun if we keep playing like that.”

Outfielder Quintin Berry experienced Boston during a Red Sox World Series-title run in 2013. Berry gives the edge to Chicago when he compared the two.

The scene Tuesday -- with fans closing down Clark Street and helicopters hovering overhead after the Cubs clinched a postseason series at home for the first time in franchise history -- is one Berry won’t soon forget.

“This city might be a little hungrier,” Berry said. “Boston had won a couple of championships and they were still alive -- it’s one of the livest cities I’ve ever been in. But I think the fact it’s been 107 years since they’ve won a World Series and they feel like this the team, it definitely seems like this is a special team that’s capable of doing that, I think they’re feeding off of that and it’s getting really wild out here.

“It was amazing.

“The streets are packed and everybody’s live. It’s fun to be a part of something like that.”

While Maddon’s voice wasn’t as scratchy as Steven Tyler’s on ‘Sweet Emotion,’ the song that greeted the Cubs back to work on Thursday, it had the sound of a man who enjoyed the moment. Maddon said his normal routine had been disrupted and he felt it. He sounded ready for a quiet evening Thursday before his team boards a plane for Los Angeles or New York on Friday morning.

While he reportedly celebrated on Tuesday, Maddon didn’t make his way to Lester’s house for Vedder Jam -- “Not having the manager around is cool -- it’s cooler than if dad’s there,” he said.

He isn’t concerned that his players and coaching staff are having too much fun. This is a team that has enjoyed many victories this season with a smoke machine and disco lights. He knows they’ll be prepared when the time comes, citing he likes the way his team separates the two.

Maddon had no plans to attend a watch party Thursday and said he looked forward to some much-needed relaxation and a return to normalcy.

“I’ve got so little, few brain cells left,” Maddon said. “They’re on the endangered species list right now.

“I gotta catch up on some rest, man. I’m serious. I haven’t had a chance to ride my bike and do the whole routine, which is just kicking my butt a little bit right now. Any way I can get back into that routine I’m going to try to do that.”

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 37th homer in 1998

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 37th homer in 1998

It's the 20th anniversary of the Summer of Sammy, when Sosa and Mark McGwire went toe-to-toe in one of the most exciting seasons in American sports history chasing after Roger Maris' home run record. All year, we're going to go homer-by-homer on Sosa's 66 longballs, with highlights and info about each. Enjoy.

Sosa's 37th homer of the 1998 season was a big one, an opposite field blast off the front row of fans in right field and into the basket at Wrigley Field.

The eighth-inning 3-run shot gave the Cubs some insurance in a game they ultimately won 9-5 and the Wrigley faithful responded by throwing a bunch of trash on the field.

Earlier in the contest, Sosa tied the game with an RBI single in the fifth inning. He finished with 4 RBI, giving him 93 on the season with more than 2 months left to play.

Fun fact: Vladimir Guerrero was the Expos' No. 3 hitter for this game an dhe also hit a homer (his 20th). Now, Guerrero's son is nearing his MLB debut as a top prospect in the Toronto Blue Jays system.

Fun fact No. 2: Mark Grudzielanek - who later played for the Cubs in 2003-04 - was Montreal's No. 5 hitter for the game at Wrigley. He was traded 10 days later from the Expos to the Los Angeles Dodgers for another fellow Cub - Ted Lilly.

Cubs are reported to be 'deeply involved' in trade talks for Zach Britton

Cubs are reported to be 'deeply involved' in trade talks for Zach Britton

The Cubs and Orioles reliever Zach Britton are once again being linked to each other, according to Patrick Mooney of the Athletic

Despite the front office denying any big moves coming before the July 31st deadline, but the Cubs' interest in Britton from last year makes this one with the Orioles stick a bit more. And when taking a look at Britton's fit on the club, a deal involving the lefty-reliever makes too much sense not to be true. 

And according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN, the Orioles are trying to wrap up the trade in the next few days. 

The Cubs did add reliever Jesse Chavez earlier this week, but Chavez profiles more as a swingman and less of the late-inning arm Britton has been over his eight-year career. Due to injuries, Zach Britton isn't the guy who teams saw dominant in '15 &'16 when he saved a combined 134 games for the Orioles. 

However, his 2018 numbers are encouraging for a guy coming off a ruptured Achilles tendon with a 3.68 ERA with 13 strikeouts in 14.2 IP. And when you factor in the pedigree the Cubs would be adding to the back end of the bullpen on top of his expiring deal at the end of 2018, it would make the Cubs bullpen lethal in the postseason. 

There will be other suitors for Britton who could likely offer more in terms of prospects in return, but if the Cubs are serious about adding someone like Britton, they could always dip into their MLB roster and part with a Victor Caratini-type player. Infielder David Bote has also impressed with his surprise season, showing he can contribute in multiple roles. 

But the Cubs would be solving essentially two issues with one guy in Britton, with his ability to close and experience in late-inning situations while also replacing Mike Montgomery in the bullpen, who may be staying in the rotation longer than expected. He's also an upgrade over Brian Duensing, who has been ineffective this season, and Randy Rosario who seems more like smoke and mirrors and has never pitched in the postseason. 

Jed Hoyer did say earlier this week the Cubs will be adding depth before the trade deadline, but the asking price for arguably the best available reliever remaining on the market could end up being too rich for the Cubs to stomach. But it clearly won't stop them from at least weighing all options.