Cubs

Joe Maddon digging hot starts from Cubs and White Sox

Joe Maddon digging hot starts from Cubs and White Sox

The Adam LaRoche retirement fiasco figured to either tear the White Sox apart or bring them closer together. Outside Camelback Ranch, Chris Sale’s blistering takedown of Kenny Williams sounded like an All-Star pitcher daring his boss to trade him.

LaRoche popped up again on Wednesday, posting this message on his Twitter account: “Don’t forget, tomorrow is take your child to work day.” But once that media storm passed in spring training, the White Sox could go back to being the team built on a strong rotation and a lineup anchored by Jose Abreu and Todd Frazier.     

A series of low-risk, high-reward moves are paying off, with the White Sox now 16-6 after sweeping the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. The Cubs – another big offseason winner – are the only team in the majors with a better record (15-5).     

“Digging it,” said Cubs manager Joe Maddon, who wore a pink Mother’s Day edition of his “Try Not To Suck” T-shirt during his media session at Wrigley Field. “I’m really happy for them and their success. I think it’s great for the city. If we could both sustain this kind of play, it could make for a very interesting summer.” 

The Cubs were digging themselves so much in Arizona that a coach’s son taking out a lineup card before a Cactus League game almost felt like Maddon’s crew trolling the White Sox (and not what it actually was – a prearranged birthday reward). 

But Maddon has deep respect for Robin Ventura and the way the White Sox manager navigated his team through the bizarre LaRoche situation, a player walking away from $13 million because his son would no longer have unrestricted access in the clubhouse. 

“I know he went through a tough gig this past spring training,” Maddon said. “I thought he handled it great.”

As an Angels coach in the mid-1990s, Maddon remembered bumping into Ventura and noticing the people skills that made him such a favorite on the South Side. 

“Robin Ventura’s a good man,” Maddon said. “I’m walking into the ballpark – (and) I’m just a year-and-a-half, a year in the big leagues – and he happened to be walking in at the same time.

“He greeted me like I had been there for 20 years. He addressed me. And I’ll never forget that.”

This year, Maddon and his old buddies from the Angels joined Ventura for dinner one night in spring training.   

“It was like me, (Mike Scioscia), Buddy Black, Ronnie Roenicke and Sandy Koufax,” Maddon said with a smile. “Did I say Sandy Koufax? And then Robin was there, too, because Robin digs wine. And Robin is always like throwing me a good bottle now and then.” 

The Cubs and White Sox haven’t both finished with winning records since 2008, when they each won division titles and had all these big, combustible personalities like Lou Piniella, Ozzie Guillen, Carlos Zambrano and A.J. Pierzynski. 

The Cubs and White Sox will play four straight games on both sides of the city (July 25-28) and we’ll see if they stay hot. But the Bulls and Blackhawks are done, and this year baseball doesn’t have to be a space-filler until the Bears report to training camp. 

“When you live in this city and you have that stuff going on, what could possibly beat that?” Maddon said.

Kyle Hendricks takes in a Blackhawks game with... Bastian Schweinsteiger?

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NBC Sports Chicago

Kyle Hendricks takes in a Blackhawks game with... Bastian Schweinsteiger?

A Cubs pitcher taking in a Blackhawks game in a suite is nothing special, but doing so with a World Cup winner is... different.

Kyle Hendricks was spotted by the cameras of Thursday's Blackhawks-Coyotes broadcast on NBC Sports Chicago. The guy he was standing next to was none other than Chicago Fire midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger, a World Cup with Germany and Champions League winner with Bayern Munich.

Hendricks is known for being reserved on the mound and in his interviews with the media. Meanwhile, Schweinsteiger was filmed yelling "Bear Down" in the hallway of Toyota Park after a Fire practice earlier in the day.

There's no telling what inspired Schweinsteiger to do this, but he has definitely embraced Chicago sports teams since joining the Fire in March of 2017.

Makes you wonder what Hendricks and Schweinsteiger were talking about. Best places to get brats in Chicago?

Ben Zobrist provides a hilarious glimpse into how he's spending a free October

Ben Zobrist provides a hilarious glimpse into how he's spending a free October

Ben Zobrist won't win the Comeback Player of the Year award this winter, but maybe he can take home a Grammy for Best New Artist?

The Cubs veteran infielder/outfielder posted a hilarious video on his Instagram Wednesday night showcasing how he's been spending October after the Cubs were unceremoniously ousted from the playoffs after on the third day of the month.

It's a fantastic music video of Zobrist lip-syncing to Mumford & Sons' "I Will Wait" while he nearly knocks the TV off the wall of his home by swinging the bat indoors pretending to hit off Clayton Kershaw and frolicking around a field that looks shockingly similar to Hershel's farm from the second season of "The Walking Dead":

View this post on Instagram

It always takes me a few weeks to process the season and begin the offseason. Here are my thoughts.....along with a unique way of making light of the postseason that should have been......... (special thanks to @dimtillard for help with Video) Maybe you feel the way I do. It was a very quick and abrupt ending to a good season for us. It leaves a sour taste in my mouth. But let’s not forget all the good that happened. This game and this team gives us something to pass the time, to express our love and passion, to feel the joy of the wins and the pains of the losses, and it calls us to unity when we so easily can be divided about so many other things. Each game is a microcosm of life. The game itself is not Life, but it helps us deal with life in a way. I’m thankful for even the painful losses at the end. The game can be a great teacher. I felt privileged to play with this team and play for our fans all year. We were stretched and we grew in new ways as individuals and as a group and that is always a good thing. We strive to win championships, but more often the process is the goal. We will be stronger because of all that we went through this year. What will I do now? I will travel and watch my wife crush her book tour. I will be in and out of Chi-town. I just got back home to Franklin, TN. I will find joy in raising and watching my kids grow and continue becoming their own person. I will rest and begin preparing for next season. I will work hard in mind, body, and spirit. I will help other players with @patriotforward and @showandgo. I will focus on personal growth and charitable endeavors and become a better man, teammate, friend, and player. To Baseball and Fans: For the next 5 months until I play next year.... I will wait for you....

A post shared by Ben Zobrist (@benzobrist18) on

Zobrist also posted a lengthy caption on his perspective on the Cubs' disappointing end to the season:

It always takes me a few weeks to process the season and begin the offseason. Here are my thoughts.....along with a unique way of making light of the postseason that should have been......... (special thanks to @dimtillard for help with Video) 
Maybe you feel the way I do. It was a very quick and abrupt ending to a good season for us. It leaves a sour taste in my mouth. But let’s not forget all the good that happened. This game and this team gives us something to pass the time, to express our love and passion, to feel the joy of the wins and the pains of the losses, and it calls us to unity when we so easily can be divided about so many other things. Each game is a microcosm of life. The game itself is not
Life, but it helps us deal with life in a way. I’m thankful for even the painful losses at the end. The game can be a great teacher. 
I felt privileged to play with this team and play for our fans all year. We were stretched and we grew in new ways as individuals and as a group and that is always a good thing. We strive to win championships, but more often the process is the goal. We will be stronger because of all that we went through this year. 
What will I do now? I will travel and watch my wife crush her book tour. I will be in and out of Chi-town. I just got back home to Franklin, TN. I will find joy in raising and watching my kids grow and continue becoming their own person. I will rest and begin preparing for next season. I will work hard in mind, body, and spirit. I will help other players with @patriotforward and @showandgo. I will focus on personal growth and charitable endeavors and become a better man, teammate, friend, and player. 
To Baseball and Fans: For the next 5 months until I play next year....
I will wait for you....

Come for the Zobrist lip sync, but stay for the 37-year-old using a bat as a guitar while wearing a sleeveless shirt and rocking an old-timey top hat.

A year ago, Zobrist completely reshaped his offseason workout plan after three straight years of playing deep into October. It appears he's added another new trick to his winter workout — hopping over fences even though there is a clear opening just a foot away.

Hey, whatever works...