John Lackey got his haircut — and a championship ring — before delivering the line of the year

John Lackey got his haircut — and a championship ring — before delivering the line of the year

John Lackey walked into the media room sipping his standard postgame drink with one hand and flashing the bling with the other hand.

The veteran who didn't come to Chicago for a haircut spent a spring training media session downplaying his excitement of receiving the Cubs' World Series ring — "I'm not a real flashy guy," he said.

Yet he couldn't help gushing about the new rock on his finger.

"It's really nice," Lackey said. "Seriously, I've been fortunate to have a couple, but this is kinda next level, for sure. I think the whole team — the Ricketts family, we wanna say thanks. It's pretty sick."

This is actually the third championship ring for the 38-year-old pitcher who won one with Jon Lester and David Ross in Boston in 2013 and also as a rookie with the 2002 Anaheim Angels when Joe Maddon was a coach there.

Lackey said he has both of those rings in a box in his closet somewhere and really only takes them out for special occasions like a wedding. Obviously the ring is a symbol for winning it all, but Lackey outwardly seemed more excited about getting himself a pair of Cubs world champion cowboy boots in spring training.

Yet on Wednesday night, he had no issue with breaking his typical pre-start warmup routine to grab a ring and then head straight to the new bullpen under the left field bleachers and prepare for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Lackey never minces words and typically spends his media sessions dropping one-liners like he's in the midst of a rap battle. One pitch into the game and he was already jawing with home plate umpire Sam Holbrook.

His legendary haircut line was the topic of conversation before his 2017 home debut.

"That stuff is very familiar to me," Maddon said after describing how he and Lackey were drinking buddies in Anaheim. "I loved when he did it. I like when our guys aren't censored like that. I like when they speak their minds."

Lackey struggled at the outset of his Wednesday night start in 45-degree weather, allowing a leadoff homer to Dodgers left fielder Andrew Toles and loading the bases in the first inning before striking out Chase Utley looking.

Lackey settled in from there, striking out 10 Dodgers in six hard-fought innings and keeping the Cubs in the game by limiting the damage to just the one run. He also retired 14 of the last 15 batters he faced.

That was exactly the edge Maddon and Theo Epstein's front office have talked up since Lackey got into town last winter.

Maddon also pointed to Lackey's unwillingness to settle into a content frame of mind in the twilight of his career and coming off another championship.

"I love that," Maddon said. "That's part of the edginess that he brings. One day, he will retire to West Texas and you won't see him again, except for maybe a photograph on occasion riding a horse.

"In the meantime, he's alive and doing really well right here and he definitely still has that edge."

And that haircut?

"I got a haircut over the offseason," Lackey said before delivering the line of the year to a roar of laughter from a large media contingent. "Actually, my wife was kind of ticked. She likes it long, so I kind of got in trouble for that one.

"But what are you gonna do? Where is she gonna go?"

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 12th + 13th homers in 1998


Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 12th + 13th homers 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.

An off-day did nothing to slow down the 1998 National League MVP as Sosa collected his second straight 2-homer game May 27 of that season.

He went deep in the eighth and ninth innings of a Cubs' 10-5 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies at Wrigley Field, driving in 3 runs. 

The first homer - off Darrin Winston - was an absolute blast, traveling an estimated 460 feet. The second shot was tame in comparison with only 400 feet as a recorded distance.

In a matter of two games, Sosa raised his season OPS from .930 to .988 and his slugging percentage from .521 to .577 thanks to a pair of 2-homer contests.

Fun fact: Doug Glanville - former Cubs outfielder and current NBC Sports Chicago analyst - was the Phillies leadoff hitter that day in 1998, collecting three hits and scoring a pair of runs.

Yu Darvish back on the DL for Cubs with triceps tendinitis


Yu Darvish back on the DL for Cubs with triceps tendinitis

Yu Darvish now has more trips to the disabled list in a Cubs uniform than wins.

The Cubs place their 31-year-old right-handed pitcher on the DL Saturday evening with right triceps tendinitis. The move is retroactive to May 23, so he may only have to miss one turn through the rotation.

In a corresponding move, Randy Rosario was recalled from Triple-A Iowa to provide Joe Maddon with another arm in the bullpen. Tyler Chatwood will start Sunday in Darvish's place.

Thanks to two off-days on the schedule last week, the Cubs should be fine with their rotation for a little while. Jon Lester could go on regular rest Monday, but the Cubs would need to make a decision for Tuesday given Kyle Hendricks just threw Friday afternoon.

That decision could mean Mike Montgomery moving from the bullpen to the rotation for a spot start, or it could be the promotion of top prospect Adbert Alzolay from Triple-A Iowa.

Either way, this is more bad news for Darvish, who has had a rough go of it since he signed a six-year, $126 million deal with the Cubs in February.

Between issues with the weather, the concern of arm cramps in his debut in Miami, leg cramps in Atlanta, a trip to the disabled list for the flu, trouble making it out of the fifth inning and now triceps tendinitis, it's been a forgettable two months for Darvish.

He is 1-3 with a 4.95 ERA, 1.43 WHIP and 49 strikeouts in 40 innings with the Cubs.

Over the course of 139 career starts, Darvish is 57-45 with a 3.49 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and has averaged 11 strikeouts per nine innings.