Cubs

Joe Maddon doesn't believe in Sports Illustrated cover jinx for Cubs

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Joe Maddon doesn't believe in Sports Illustrated cover jinx for Cubs

GOODYEAR, Ariz. — Cubs manager Joe Maddon doesn’t believe in the Sports Illustrated cover jinx.

The Cubs landed on the front of the magazine’s baseball preview with Sports Illustrated picking the Houston Astros — another team accused of tanking during a multiyear rebuild — to beat them in the World Series.

“Well, you know, just get us there,” Maddon said before Tuesday’s Cactus League game against the Cincinnati Reds at Goodyear Ballpark. “SI, please get us there. I’d be happy with that.”

All-Star first baseman Anthony Rizzo, Gold Glove outfielder Jason Heyward, Rookie of the Year Kris Bryant and Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta made the regional cover, which labels the group as “The Revenants: Out of The Desert, into the World Series (Finally).”

[SHOP CUBS: Get your Cubs gear right here]

This is the same outlet that proclaimed Houston as “Your 2017 World Series Champs” back in 2014. The Astros puffed out their chests and granted behind-the-scenes access for that cover story, but their surprising breakthrough into the playoffs last season accelerated the timeline.

“It’s just part of the game, man,” Maddon said. “I’m sure they’ve been right on occasion. They’ve probably been wrong more than they’ve been right. But everybody’s wrong more than they’re right when it comes down to predicting who’s going to be where.”

Keep in mind that Sports Illustrated splashed the Cubs — and a high-stepping Pedro Strop — across the cover of last year’s Aug. 31 issue. The Cubs finished the regular season as the hottest team in baseball and eliminated the Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals from the playoffs.

Cubs fans also remember the “It’s Gonna Happen” and “Hell Freezes Over” covers from the 2008 (Kosuke Fukudome) and 2004 (Kerry Wood) seasons that ended in bitter disappointment.

“I don’t put a whole lot of emphasis on any of that,” Maddon said. “I think it’s great for the organization. Just like it’s great for the Rays now to be participating in the game in Cuba (with) the stage you got there. When you’re presented on the cover of Sports Illustrated, obviously, it’s a wonderful stage for us.

“But it doesn’t mean anything other than it’s good reading (and) great photography. When I was a kid, man, you couldn’t wait for that to come out.”

Cubs Talk Producer Tony Andracki contributed to this article.

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...

Cubs Talk Podcast: Manny Machado’s value and other Cubs offseason wish list items

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Manny Machado’s value and other Cubs offseason wish list items

Did Manny Machado’s value take a hit at all after he openly admitted hustling isn’t his “cup of tea”? Our Cubs team (David Kaplan, Kelly Crull, Tony Andracki, Jeff Nelson) debate that, plus the potential fit of Machado or Bryce Harper for the 2019 Cubs and beyond.

[MORE: The most underrated storyline of the Cubs offseason]

The crew also runs down the top items on the Cubs’ offseason wish list – ranging from bullpen help to infield depth to a set leadoff hitter – in what may be the most impactful winter in Theo Epstein’s tenure in Chicago.

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