Cubs

Kris Bryant keeps delivering in the clutch for Cubs

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Kris Bryant keeps delivering in the clutch for Cubs

PHILADELPHIA – Joe Maddon analyzes the numbers, makes data-driven decisions and works in concert with The Geek Department. The Cubs manager will never be confused with a baseball caveman.

Maddon has seen enough to this point to feel like Kris Bryant is a clutch player – and to believe that concept is not a myth.

“I know people will argue against the RBI mentality,” Maddon said Saturday at Citizens Bank Park. “There will be people arguing against like why are RBIs so important. Well, they win games.

“When you get to a better or tougher pitcher – or a tougher moment – some guys really don’t perform well in those moments. You don’t even want to see your guy out there. But he definitely has even better focus in those situations.”

[MORE: Kyle Schwarber, Kris Bryant power Cubs in doubleheader sweep]

During Friday’s doubleheader sweep of the Philadelphia Phillies, Bryant broke the franchise’s rookie RBI mark (86) set by Hall of Famer Billy Williams (1961) and Geovany Soto (2008) during their Rookie of the Year campaigns.

Bryant has emerged as the clear-cut favorite to win that award, beginning the day with 24 homers and 90 RBI and leading all rookies in runs scored (78), on-base percentage (.368) and slugging percentage (.491).

Bryant has 14 game-winning RBI. Since the turn of the century, only four other rookies have reached that total: Albert Pujols (21 with the 2001 St. Louis Cardinals); Hideki Matsui (17 with the 2003 New York Yankees); Yoenis Cespedes (15 with the 2012 Oakland A’s); and Eric Hinske (15 when the current Cubs assistant hitting coach played for the 2002 Toronto Blue Jays).

Bryant’s 24 go-ahead RBI are the most by any rookie in franchise history. With runners in scoring position, he’s hitting .313 and putting up a .967 OPS for a legitimate playoff contender.

“It’s just one of those years,” Bryant said. “Last year, I struggled with guys on base in the minor leagues and that really hit me hard. I think last year I hit something like .230 with runners in scoring position (.208 with an .835 OPS at Triple-A Iowa).

“It’s just certain years you do things better than previous years. And I think I’m on one of those good years with runners on base and in scoring position.

“But there’s a lot of guys in this clubhouse that are really clutch.”

[NBC SHOP: Buy a Kris Bryant jersey here]

That’s Bryant, trying to spread the credit around, deflect some attention and talk about the team concept. The scary part for the rest of the National League is that he’s only 23 years old.

“It’s gonna get better,” Maddon said. “You’re seeing good – and I’m seeing good now – but I think it’s going to continue to get better as he really understands what they’re trying to do to him.

“The valuable part in there is that he will accept his walk in that moment, too. Even though he’s there to drive in the run, I think – I don’t know this for a fact – he expands less when there’s an opportunity to drive in a run.

“He does his best work for me when it really matters.”

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...