Cubs

Is Jose Quintana feeling pressure to live up to The Trade?

Is Jose Quintana feeling pressure to live up to The Trade?

Do you feel pressure to live up to The Trade?

“No, no,” Jose Quintana insisted late Wednesday night, surrounded by reporters at his locker inside the Wrigley Field clubhouse after a football-score win (17-3) over the Pittsburgh Pirates. “Sometimes, with the bad innings, I feel frustrated, because I want to try to help more. But I’m just focusing (on what’s) next.”

This game looked like it might spin out of control for Quintana, creating more questions about his state of mind, what the Cubs were thinking with that blockbuster trade and how fragile the defending World Series champs could be in October.

Even if the Cubs made that shocking deal with the White Sox while projecting the 2018, 2019 and 2020 rotations, nothing will be guaranteed then, and right now the rest of the National League Central is either conceding the division race or hedging for the future.

The Cubs expect the boom-and-bust periods with their offense, understanding that they earned championship rings with a pitching-and-defense formula. After a rocky first inning that led to scattered boos from the crowd of 36,620, Quintana settled down against the Pirates, looking like someone who could someday front a postseason rotation.

“I feel comfortable here,” Quintana said. “All the coaches and teammates make it easy to be here. Sometimes, it’s new for me. I’ve never been in that (position before). But I feel really good here.

“The game never changes. It’s the same game. I’m here to do my job for one reason: I want to help this team and make the playoffs.”

That is still the biggest takeaway from a wacky night where Javier Baez showed off his new braids and stole home plate: “I went too early. I messed it up. And I don’t know if you call that fixing it, but it worked.” Ian Happ almost hit for the cycle and became the sixth Cub with 20 homers this season, setting a franchise record. Kyle Schwarber blasted two homers and called out Happ for sprinting to third base on a flyball to left field.

Quintana missed those fireworks as a hard-luck pitcher on bad White Sox teams, and it will be interesting to see how he responds in the heat of a pennant race. This is the trade-deadline parallel to Jon Lester signing a $155 million megadeal and needing an entire season to feel more comfortable, except Quintana didn’t ease into this at all with six weeks of spring training in Arizona.

“I think sometimes they apply a little bit of pressure to themselves to live up to the moment,” manager Joe Maddon said. “That’s just human nature. I think he’s still settling in. He’s such a wonderful young man and he’s so concerned. He wants to do well. But, listen, I know he’s going to be really good for a long period of time.

“We could talk about (how) curveball command hasn’t been as good, or maybe the changeup (wasn’t) utilized enough. But the fastball location hasn’t been what it had been. And that’s what you got to figure out: Why? Things like that are very correctable. Part of it might be just because I’m trying too hard. Sometimes it’s just simple as that.”

Coming off an ugly loss to a Philadelphia Phillies team racing to the bottom for the No. 1 overall pick, Quintana gave up three singles and drilled back-to-back hitters with pitches in the first inning, putting the Cubs in a 2-0 hole.

But from the moment Quintana’s pitch hit Jordy Mercer’s right foot and forced in a run, the lefty retired 14 batters in a row – until Josh Bell drove a ball toward the top of the left-field bleachers – and 16 of his last 17. Quintana – who’s now 5-3 with a 4.50 ERA through nine starts as a Cub – lasted six innings and finished with nine strikeouts and zero walks.

This wasn’t a prove-it start as much as a confidence boost for the pitcher who’s so crucial for a first-place team that’s up 3.5 games on the Milwaukee Brewers.

“He’s just over-amped, man,” Maddon said. “This guy is still trying to make an impression for us and on us and with us. I just love his methods. He’s just such a professional. And hopefully that’s going to be kind of a catapult for him right there to get back into it."

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.