Cubs: Unforgettable father-son moment for Mike and Kris Bryant


Cubs: Unforgettable father-son moment for Mike and Kris Bryant

The Cubs gave Mike and Kris Bryant an unforgettable father-son moment.

The emotions overwhelmed Mike on Thursday night when he heard the Cubs promoted Kris to The Show. Mike found out while giving a hitting lesson, sharing the ideas he learned from Ted Williams while playing minor-league ball for the Boston Red Sox, teaching what Kris absorbed so naturally as a kid.

While the Bryant family took a red-eye flight from Las Vegas – Mike couldn’t remember the last time he pulled an all-nighter – Kris left the Triple-A Iowa team in New Orleans to pursue their dream.

“I shed a few tears,” Mike said Friday at Wrigley Field. “My heart got heavy. I feel like I’m listening to a Tim McGraw or a Justin Moore country song. When they make you cry, that’s when you know they got you.”

Mike held court with reporters near the on-deck circle during batting practice as Bruce Springsteen’s “Glory Days” blasted out of the old ballpark’s new sound system.

The Red Sox selected Mike in the ninth round of the 1980 draft out of UMass Lowell. He lasted two seasons, moved his family to Las Vegas and eventually sold his furniture business so he could spend more time coaching his kids.

Kris would grow up with a batting cage at his house and become a baseball gym rat. Another one of Mike’s students – Joey Gallo – is a power-hitting third baseman in the Texas Rangers organization and Baseball America’s No. 6 prospect heading into this season.

[RELATED: No bad blood between Cubs and Kris Bryant over service-time issue]

The memories came rushing back to Mike, how he hid out on a beach in Florida after the Red Sox cut him, the moments when he realized Kris had what it takes to play in the big leagues. Mike thought of what this would have meant to his parents as he spoke on the phone with his sister, Karen, on Thursday night.

“That’s what really hit me,” Mike said. “My sister (was) crying so hard. She visited both my mom and dad’s grave. It was 11 o’clock at night back in Massachusetts. She went over there and she called me when she got back. How deep is that right there?”

Mike then did the Sammy Sosa routine, blowing a kiss and looking up to the sky.

“That’s how deep that is,” Mike said.

[NBC SHOP: Get your Kris Bryant jersey right here!]

Mike is outgoing where Kris is reserved. Adidas gear covered Mike, who wore a blue polo shirt, black sweats and gray sneakers. The father has a bald head, a gray goatee and a big personality that embraces the “WORTH THE WAIT” billboard on Addison Street.

“For someone with less character, it would go to their head,” Mike said. “But you can see me – I’m kind of an animated guy. I brought my kid up to not be me. Because who wouldn’t like attention, right? Well, Kris walks that middle ground better than anybody.”

That balance of supreme confidence, emotional stability and just enough modesty explains why the Cubs believe Kris will be able to live up to the hype. An 0-for-4 afternoon with three strikeouts during a 5-4 loss to the San Diego Padres won’t change his DNA.

“He’s respectful,” Mike said. “He knows he has an obligation to speak to his fans through (the media). Just to see him handle that like an adult at 23 years old – with all these expectations on him – (is so impressive). I hope he hits four home runs. If he punches out four times, he’s going to be the same (guy) tomorrow.”

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 is 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.