Cubs: Theo Epstein compares Mets to a tidal wave


Cubs: Theo Epstein compares Mets to a tidal wave

This time a week ago, even the biggest skeptics were thinking the Cubs seemed primed to make it to their first World Series in 70 years.

Of course, nobody counted on running into the brick wall that was the New York Mets.

Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein opened his season-ending press conference Thursday at Wrigley Field by congratulating the Mets and wishing them luck representing the National League in the World Series.

Epstein gave the Mets credit, declaring them a really good team that peaked at the right time.

"I've been on both sides of it," Epstein said. "I've been in the situation where the team I was working for was the hot team going into the World Series or LCS. It almost creates like a tidal wave. There's nothing the other team can do.

"The series creates momentum in itself where you never surrender the lead in any game. You almost never give the team a chance to feel like they're in the series.

"It's a great feeling when you're the tidal wave. It's not such a great feeling when you're the dinghy, getting pushed around by that tidal wave. And the Mets were that tidal wave right now."

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Heading into the National League Championship Series, it looked like the Cubs could be that tidal wave team. They had just dismantled the top two teams in baseball — the Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals — in the wild-card game and NLDS and had their top two pitchers (Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta) set up on regular — or extra — rest for the first two games of the NLCS.

But the Cubs never led for even one second in the series as the Mets' young pitching shut down the Cubs' young hitting.

Daniel Murphy hit four homers and drove in six runs himself as the Mets scored eight runs in the clincher Wednesday. The Cubs scored just eight runs total in the four-game series.

In 36 innings in the series, Cubs batters compiled just one leadoff hit.

And in each game of the series, the Mets scored in the first inning, totaling nine opening-frame tallies.

"That happens in the postseason," Epstein said. "You get hot at the right time. All those teams are good, but if you get hot at the right time, you become the tidal wave. It can sometimes be arbitrary from one year to the next. How we felt after the Mets series is probably exactly how the Pirates felt after getting only one game.

"That's the meaning of the postseason. It can be really dramatic, really meaningful, really intense, really good baseball and it's fickle. It can be arbitrary, too. Playing your best baseball at the most important time of the year is really important."

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Epstein helped engineer two different Boston Red Sox teams that became the tidal wave and marched right on over teams for a pair of championships.

He's hoping to do the same thing with the Cubs, but he knows it's a numbers game — just get into October as much as possible.

"You can never tell if you're going to be the wave or the boat," Epstein said. "That's why you want to get back there as often as you possibly can. The way we're going to win the World Series is by getting to October again and again and again.

"Hopefully just 'again' and win it next year. But we want to get there as often as possible."

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.