Cubs

Getting over the hump: Cubs now believe they can beat Cardinals

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Getting over the hump: Cubs now believe they can beat Cardinals

The Cubs have already proved to the rest of the baseball world that they're legitimate contenders.

Now they've proved it to the Cardinals, as well.

The Cubs couldn't complete the sweep against St. Louis Sunday afternoon at Wrigley, but the 4-3 loss doesn't change the fact that they now have the belief they can stand toe-to-toe with - and beat - the best team in baseball.

[MORE: Cubs think Pedro Strop has turned a corner against the Cardinals] 

"I could not be more proud of our guys," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "It's obvious that we're playing on the same level as they are right now. I'm really proud of our guys for that.

"How far we've come in one season to get to this particular game today. Give them credit. They are very good, also.

"But I think now, we know we can beat them and they know we can beat them, too. And that's a good thing."

Before the Cubs went down to St. Louis for a three-game series with the Cardinals earlier this month, Maddon preached the importance of beating the NL Central leaders on their home field and closing out games when they have the lead.

Now, after the three-game series at Wrigley Field, the Cubs have proved their worth by winning four of the six games against the Cardinals and coming up just short on the two losses.

"We're up. Gotta look at the positives," Jon Lester said. "Obviously we would have liked to win all six games - we had an opportunity to. But at the end of the day, that's a good team across the way and they don't give outs up.

"We're playing good baseball the last six games against them. Maybe proving to ourselves a little bit that we can compete with these guys and can even beat 'em."

The Cardinals took a page out of the Cubs' book and jumped all over Lester in the first inning of Sunday's game, scoring three runs on a pair of homers from rookies Tommy Pham and Stephen Piscotty.

St. Louis right fielder Jason Heyward erased a Cubs threat in the eighth when he gunned down Anthony Rizzo at the plate on Addison Russell's fly ball. In the ninth, the Cardinals halted another Cubs rally when pinch-runner Quintin Berry was thrown out trying to steal second base, his first caught-stealing of his major-league career (he had been 25-for-25 prior to Sunday).

Any illusions the Cubs had about winning the division were essentially dashed with Sunday's loss. Instead of being four games back with a sweep, the Cubs are now six games behind the Cardinals with only 13 left to play.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Cubs fans!] 

Which means the Cubs and Pirates are still on a collision course to square off in the wild-card game ... but will that winner-take-all contest take place in Pittsburgh or on Chicago's North side?

The winner will move on to play the Cardinals in a best-of-five series.

"I think these last six games [against the Cardinals] have really helped guys as far as confidence and just trying to get over that hump of beating these guys," Lester said.

"If we get fortunate enough to face these guys [in the NLDS], we'll be right there with 'em."

Cubs Talk Podcast: Covering the MLB All-Star Game from the media’s perspective

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Covering the MLB All-Star Game from the media’s perspective

NBC Sports Chicago’s own Kelly Crull and videographer Scott Changnon recalled what All-Star week in the nations capitol was like from their point of view.

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

 

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.