Kris Bryant losing final vote means All-Star shutout for World Series Cubs

Kris Bryant losing final vote means All-Star shutout for World Series Cubs

The Cubs have an international brand, an iconic stadium, almost 2 million followers on Twitter, some of the most recognizable personalities in the entire sport and the buzz from their 108-year odyssey. Yet not one player from last year’s World Series team will represent the Cubs at the All-Star Game.

That’s the fallout from an underwhelming 42-43 first half, and the results from the final-vote gimmick announced after Thursday’s messy 11-2 loss to the first-place Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field. Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner notched 20.8 million votes to beat out reigning National League MVP Kris Bryant and get the trip to South Florida.

Unless Bryant or a teammate becomes a late injury replacement, only Joe Maddon’s coaching staff and closer Wade Davis – an American League All-Star for the Kansas City Royals the last two years – will represent the Cubs next week at Marlins Park.

“I thought it was appropriately done,” said Maddon, who didn’t have a hand in shaping the roster with Major League Baseball. “I can’t defend my guys based on other guys that have made the team to this point. If you just look at the numbers purely, plus our injury factor, there’s no way for me to make a strong argument.”

Beyond being one of the faces of the game – and a two-time All-Star selection in his first two seasons – Bryant produced 16 homers and an .893 OPS while showcasing his defensive versatility and running the bases better than anyone on the team. 

But Bryant’s batting average (.261) and RBI total (34) didn’t stand out in a crowded field that included third basemen from high-flying NL West teams: Colorado Rockies starter Nolan Arenado (15 homers, 63 RBI, .888 OPS); Arizona Diamondbacks reserve Jake Lamb (18 homers, 65 RBI, .916 OPS); and Turner (.384 batting average plus All-Star closer Kenley Jansen calling out the LA market: “It’s the Dodger fans’ fault.”)  

“As much as you want to promote your own guys,” Maddon said, “and I would and I do, when it came down to it, you just look at the numbers head to head. It was hard for me to make any other kind of an argument. I think our players respect that. I would respect that in return if the situation were reversed somehow and somebody else was the manager.” 

Joe Maddon wants Cubs fans to cheer for Gleyber Torres and Eloy Jimenez

Joe Maddon wants Cubs fans to cheer for Gleyber Torres and Eloy Jimenez

Why can't a trade be looked at as a win-win? 

There doesn't always have to be a clear winner and loser.

Prior to Jose Quintana taking the ball for Saturday's game against the San Francisco Giants at Wrigley Field, Joe Maddon was asked about the players (Eloy Jimenez, Dylan Cease) the Cubs gave up to acquire Quintana as well as the deal with the Yankees for Aroldis Chapman in July 2016.

Gleyber Torres is absolutely killing it in New York, hitting .323 with a 1.014 OPS, 9 homers and 24 RBI in only 29 games. Six of those homers have come in the last week alone. 

With the White Sox, both Jimenez and Cease have found success in Double-A and Advanced Class-A, respectively.

Jimenez is hitting .331 with a .992 OPS, 9 homers and 35 RBI in 35 games. Cease is 6-2 with a 2.83 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 57 strikeouts in 47.2 innings.

As the Cubs work to get their offense settled into a consistent groove, some Cubs fans have been looking at what might've been with guys like Torres and Jimenez.

"You can't have it both ways, man," Maddon said. "I'm happy for Gleyber. When he left, we talked about it. And we talked about the kids that went to the White Sox. It's good stuff. 

"I'm really disappointed if anybody's disappointed in the fact we won the World Series in 2016 and the fact that the guy we're talking about that we had to give up Gleyber for was so instrumental in that happening. That's bad process if you're gonna get stuck on something like that. Be happy for Gleyber. Be happy for him."

Maddon has been a fan of Torres' since he saw him in spring training in 2015, Maddon's first year in the Cubs organization.

"This kid's 21, with high, high baseball intellect," Maddon said. "He's very similar to Javy on the field. I've had some great conversations with him in the past. 

"The first time I saw him in spring training, I thought this guy's for real. It was like one at-bat, line drive to RF, I said who is this guy? And then you have a conversation with him. He's solid."

Maddon's point is a great one — would Cubs fans prefer to still have Torres and NOT have the 2016 World Series championship? Because that title doesn't happen without Chapman, regardless of how you feel about him as a person or what the Cubs had to give up to acquire him.

"Don't play that game," Maddon said. "Be happy for [Torres]. I'm gonna be happy when Eloy and Dylan make it up here. All these dudes, I want them to get here and be really good. And the guys that we get, I want them to be really good. 

"I don't understand why somebody's gotta lose all the time. This is an absolute classic example of what was good for both teams."

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.