Cubs

Mets confident but won't get too far ahead of themselves

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Mets confident but won't get too far ahead of themselves

The Mets have a 2-0 lead over the Cubs in the National League Championship Series with Jacob deGrom set to pitch in Game 3.

Suffice it to say, they feel pretty good about their chances. But the Mets aren’t oblivious to the fact everything could quickly change as the series shifts to Wrigley Field for the next three games. The Cubs send Kyle Hendricks up against deGrom in Game 3 of the NLCS, which begins at 7:07 p.m. CST on Tuesday night.

“The minute you think they're naive enough to think this is over, you're making a big mistake,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. “They know exactly what they're facing. We've come in here a lot of games and had very well played games here at Wrigley Field and gotten beat. So we are certainly aware that we've got to continue to push forward.”

[MORE: Mets don't expect swelling, soreness to stop Matt Harvey from next start]

David Wright is one of the few players who traveled to Wrigley on Monday for an optional workout. The Mets third baseman -- who doubled in a run off Jake Arrieta in a Game 2 victory on Sunday -- believes his club has done a good job of focusing from game to game instead of looking at the big picture. Even though the Cubs are down, Wright knows the Mets continue to take their opponents very seriously.

“They’re in the postseason for a reason,” Wright said. “One of the things we’ve done really well this postseason is not worrying about what the series is at, but going out there and worrying about winning and playing well that specific game.

“The last thing we’re doing is trying to let down so this is something where you’ve got to keep the pedal on the gas the entire way.”

Collins expects the return home to fuel the Cubs offense.

The Cubs hit 92 home runs at home this season compared with 79 on the road. There’s also the improved weather as Tuesday’s forecast calls for temperatures in the 60s after the first two contests were played in 40 degrees.

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“Any team that's got good power, this is a good place to play,” Collins said. “And they've got it. I mean, we watched the games where they walk up there and they're hitting balls opposite field, right and left. There is no safe place in this park. So certainly there will be a different -- and the weather will be different. It's not going to be 38 degrees, it's going to be a lot warmer. So we certainly understand the dynamics of it all.”

“The Cubs play very well here. We haven't won a game here in two years, so we understand that it's going to be certainly a different atmosphere. But I don't think they get caught up in anything except trying to do what they do best, and that is go out and play the game right.

“We've got to swing better here. This is a park that hitting's huge. You've got to hit to win games here. So we've got to get ourselves going offensively and not worry about anything except winning tomorrow night.”

Willson Contreras commissions heart-warming painting commemorating his relationship with Joe Maddon

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USA Today

Willson Contreras commissions heart-warming painting commemorating his relationship with Joe Maddon

Joe Maddon’s time with the Cubs may be over, but the memories made in his five years on the North Side will live on in Chicago sports lore forever. No matter how frustratingly his tenure may have ended, the outpouring of support and appreciation from management, fans and players alike throughout the process of Maddon’s departure are evidence of that.

“I love him like a dad,” Anthony Rizzo said

“I personally never could have imagined having such a wonderful partner,” Theo Epstein later added, standing beside Maddon as they delivered joint reflections on the end of the era.

Maddon touched the lives of so many within the organization and without in his time with the Cubs, but not many more so than catcher Willson Contreras, who burst onto the scene as one of the best young sluggers in baseball under Maddon’s guidance. Maddon — a catcher himself in his short time as a player — never shied away from criticizing Contreras in times he thought it earned, but it’s clear that the two forged a real bond over the last four years. 

Sunday afternoon, artist Austin Ploch revealed that Contreras reached out to him shortly after the end of the 2019 season to commission this heart-warming piece, commemorating the mutual respect and adoration between mentor and pupil:

The painting is derived from a photo of the two that Contreras posted to his Instagram account after it was officially announced that Maddon would not return as the Cubs manager:

Ploch has commissioned work for Contreras before, but now Willson will have a tangible memento to remember his first manager (along with his 2016 World Series ring). We’re not crying, you’re crying.

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Cubs to reportedly conduct second interview with Joe Espada for managerial opening

Cubs to reportedly conduct second interview with Joe Espada for managerial opening

Astros bench coach Joe Espada has two days off before Houston hosts Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday, but it looks like some of that time will be spent in Chicago.

According to multiple reports, the Cubs will interview Espada a second time for their managerial opening. MLB Network's Jon Heyman reports that the interview is happening on Sunday.

Espada is one of the more sought after managerial candidates this offseason, as he's spent the last six seasons with two of baseball's leading franchises. The 44-year-old has been Astros bench coach since 2018, and prior to that, he spent four seasons with the Yankees — 2014 as a front office assistant, 2015-17 as third base coach.

David Ross was the presumed favorite for the Cubs' opening, when the process got underway. However, by landing a second interview, Espada has clearly given the team something to think about. In fact, NBC Sports Chicago's David Kaplan reported on Thursday the Cubs came away "exceptionally impressed" from Espada's first interview on Monday. 

MLB prefers teams not to make managerial announcements during the World Series. So, it might be a few more weeks before the Cubs announce their decision, unless they do so on Sunday or Monday.

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