Cubs

Indians' Roberto Perez continues to 'make a name' with two homers in Game 1 win over Cubs

Indians' Roberto Perez continues to 'make a name' with two homers in Game 1 win over Cubs

CLEVELAND -- He was granted a huge opportunity this season and Roberto Perez has capitalized on it, especially in October.

Perez on Tuesday night became the first Cleveland Indians player to homer twice in a World Series contest as he belted a pair in a 6-0 Game 1 victory over the Cubs in front of 38,091 at Progressive Field. Perez homered off Jon Lester and Hector Rondon, the latter putting the finishing touches on an impressive all-around Indians performance. He also became only the fifth catcher in major league history to homer twice in a World Series game.

“I told him every time, ‘You want to make a name? This is where you do it.’ ” shortstop Francisco Lindor said. “And he’s stepping up huge. I told him -- ‘I’m proud of you. I’m proud of you.’

“I almost cried when he hit the home run.”

An excellent pitch framer who threw out 13 of 26 stolen-base attempts in the regular season, Perez’s overall offensive production in 2016 wasn’t very impressive. He finished the regular season hitting .183 with three homers -- a figure he has already matched in the postseason (he also homered against Boston in the American League Division Series).

But most of Perez’s struggles came after he returned early from a broken right thumb out of necessity. When Yan Gomes was placed on the disabled list on July 17 with a separated right shoulder, Perez was only 24 plate appearances into his rehab assignment.

His performance showed as he produced a .367 OPS in his first 75 plate appearances back. But down the stretch, Perez’s bat perked up and he had a .763 OPS in his final 94 plate appearances.

“His numbers are a little misleading,” reliever Andrew Miller said. “He had to be there behind the plate for us and maybe wasn’t ready at the plate. It’s not easy to do that.

“He certainly swung the bat pretty well down the stretch -- he had good at-bats, he works the count and he showed today he can do damage.”

Perez’s first homer came at a critical point as the Indians let a chance slip away an inning earlier to extend their two-run lead. With one out in the fourth, Perez turned around a 92-mph fastball from Lester, hammering it just over the top of the 19-foot high wall in left field for a solo homer. The ball exited Perez’s bat at 113 mph, according to MLB.com.

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The second drive arrived in the eighth inning and put the game out of reach. With Cleveland ahead 3-0, Perez took advantage of a two-out rally and caught hold of a hanging 2-2 slider from Rondon, who had just entered the game, driving it 382 feet for a three-run shot.

“What he did at the plate tonight, my goodness, that was exciting to watch,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “It gave us a cushion early. And then late, come spread it out. In the seventh or eighth, that wasn’t looking like a 6-0 game. So it’s nice any time. Everybody was happy for him. You could see the way everybody reacted.”

With his second homer, Perez joined elite catching company --- Yogi Berra, Gene Tenace, Johnny Bench and Gary Carter are the only other backstops to homer twice in a World Series game. His four RBIs matched the previous club record set by Sandy Alomar Jr. (Game 5, 1997) and Elmer Smith (Game 5, 1920). He also is the only player in World Series history to homer twice out of the ninth spot in the order in the same game.

Not bad when you consider Perez has caught all 80 postseason innings for a pitching staff that has a produced a 1.58 ERA through its first nine games and is three victories shy of a World Series title.

“I’m just playing with a lot of confidence right now,” Perez said. “I’m not trying to do too much at the plate. I’m just trying to control my emotions. First World Series experience, and just trying to go out there and compete and try to get good ABs up there, and try to get on base and make something happen. It’s an unbelievable feeling.”

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.