Cubs

Long-term deal for Theo Epstein can wait with Cubs in playoff race

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Long-term deal for Theo Epstein can wait with Cubs in playoff race

PITTSBURGH – Theo Epstein could be in position to reset the market for baseball executives as the Cubs potentially turn into a monster franchise.

But with one year left on his deal after this season, Epstein again confirmed that he hasn’t had any substantial talks with chairman Tom Ricketts about a long-term extension.

“Literally not even a thought in my mind,” Epstein said before Tuesday’s doubleheader showdown against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park. “I think it’s just something that we’ll probably pick up when we’re done playing, whenever that is.

“I have no concerns or worries about it whatsoever. Tom and I see things the same way. We know this is a beginning for this organization. We all want to see it through.”

[MORE CUBS: Cubs shouldn’t take their window to contend for granted]

While working within the franchise’s financial parameters, Epstein appreciates the way Ricketts lets him run the baseball-operations department without interference. Ricketts also has an interest in scouting and player development and a personal presence around the organization that does not go unnoticed by staffers.

Ricketts already extended president of business operations Crane Kenney – who is responsible for securing the team’s television future and overseeing the Wrigley Field renovations – through the 2019 season.

Andrew Friedman – another bright, young executive who views players as assets and still values old-school scouting – figures to be a reference point for Epstein. The Los Angeles Dodgers lured Friedman away from the Tampa Bay Rays last year with a reported five-year, $35 million contract.

Epstein doesn’t anticipate a major front-office shakeup, which would seemingly discount the possibility of Jason McLeod becoming a general manager somewhere else this offseason.

[MORE CUBS: Ready or not, Cubs will find out if bullpen is ready for October]

Epstein and McLeod have been tight since the early stages of their baseball careers, working for the San Diego Padres in the mid-1990s. McLeod – the senior vice president of scouting and player development – has been a strong voice for drafting first-round picks like Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber.

“We have a pretty tight-knit group,” Epstein said. “This is a great time to be a Chicago Cub, whether you’re in uniform or in the front office. I don’t really worry about losing people.

“But if we do, I think we have a really deep organization. There’s another layer ready to step up. We have some depth in the front office. We’re a great team in the front office. And I expect us to stay together for awhile.”

Epstein left the Boston Red Sox for a president’s title and a direct report to ownership in Chicago after an epic collapse at the end of the 2011 season. Those Red Sox of fried-chicken-and-beer fame had been 30 games over .500 on Sept. 3 – in second place in the American League East and nine games up on Joe Maddon’s Rays – and didn’t make the playoffs.

So while the postseason forecasts on Baseball Prospectus (98.4 percent) and FanGraphs (99.3 percent) projected the Cubs as locks before Tuesday’s doubleheader, Epstein said he isn’t working hard on the roster for a wild-card game yet.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Cubs fans!]

“After living through 2011, I don’t take anything for granted,” Epstein said. “I’m well aware of how momentum in September can take on a life all its own and effect the standings.

“It’s important to just keep focused on that day’s game, keep knocking out your wins, storing them and things will be OK if you just take care of your own business.”

After writing off three major-league seasons (286 losses), firing three managers (Mike Quade, Dale Sveum, Rick Renteria) and planning so much around the future, Epstein is going to try to sit back and enjoy the moment.

“The nucleus of the team is in place now and going to be together for awhile,” Epstein said. “It’s obviously a process of many years to try to build the organization into a position to where we can have the requisite talent and depth and makeup – and the right people – to try to compete and play your best baseball at the time when it matters most.

“We’re partway along in that journey. And then the cool part is you get to all be together and write the next chapter.”

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...