Cubs

The moment Billy Williams knew the 2016 Cubs were destined for the World Series

The moment Billy Williams knew the 2016 Cubs were destined for the World Series

Billy Williams will finally get to witness the Cubs in the World Series.

The enormity of that statement hasn't even quite set in for Wrigleyville yet.

Standing on the left field grass about a half hour after the Cubs made history, Williams looked around at the 43,000 people still left in Wrigley Field and predicted people would be partying until 5 or 6 a.m.

The streets around Wrigley looked like a tornado ripped through it at 5 a.m., though the partying had quieted down quite a bit. Fans are pacing themselves for the final week of October that will prove to be unlike anything Chicago has ever seen before.

Somewhere, Williams is probably still trying to wrap his head around it all.

"I can't believe it," he said. "This is really, really something. 

"Standing on the field here, standing on this sacred ground, celebrating - it's a great feeling. It is a great feeling."

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Williams played 16 seasons with the Cubs and hit 426 homers while winning the Rookie of the Year Award in 1961 and earning six trips to the All-Star Game.

He's spent his retirment years around the Cubs, following the team from spring training to the biggest moment Wrigley Field has ever seen Saturday night.

The 78-year-old shared with reporters the moment he knew this 2016 Cubs team was something special.

Williams admitted he never thought he'd see the day the Cubs would go to the World Series until the 2015 team put together 97 wins and knocked the Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals out of the postseason before running into the New York Mets in the NLCS.

But he also thought that experience was invaluable for the young players and when he saw Dexter Fowler's surprise return to the team in spring training, something clicked for the Cubs legend.

"I love the fact that Dexter Fowler came back to play center field. 'You go, we go,'" Williams said, referencing Joe Maddon's phrase for Fowler's impact at the top of the order. "So [Jason] Heyward went back out to right field and all of sudden, our ball club is completely solid.

"I saw that in Arizona when Dexter came back in spring training and the guys saw him and he said, 'Hey man, good to be back.'

"And it was a tight-fit ballclub from that point on. They played well and they played for each other. And you see how it went all year."

Cubs still searching for answers for Tyler Chatwood's puzzling control issues

Cubs still searching for answers for Tyler Chatwood's puzzling control issues

Tyler Chatwood looked to be turning the corner with his control issues, but alas, he and the Cubs aren't so lucky.

After walking only two batters in a solid start in Atlanta last week, Chatwood had taken a big step in the right direction. It was, after all, only the third time he'd walked fewer than 5 batters in an outing this season.

Those control woes reared their ugly heads once again Tuesday night at Wrigley Field in a 10-1 loss to the Indians. Chatwood walked 6 batters and managed to net only 8 outs, getting hammered for 4 runs in the third inning.

"Ugh, it was tough," Maddon said. "The stuff was so good, we just couldn't get a strike."

"It's definitely frustrating," Chatwood said, "because one at-bat, I'll feel really good and the next one, I feel like I'm fighting myself.

"Last time [out], I was able to stay in the rhythm. Tonight, I was kinda battling, rushing rather than staying back, so it's just keeping that feeling and maintaining that."

His season ERA is only 3.74, which looks good until you consider his WHIP is 1.62 and he's walked 40 batters in 45.2 innings with only 41 strikeouts in the process. He now leads baseball in walks per 9 innings.

Chatwood said earlier this month in St. Louis that he's figured out what has led to the startling lack of control and while he didn't elaborate on the mechanical issue, he was working hard at correcting the problem in bullpens.

He's also used the term "fighting myself" at least a dozen times this month alone and it's become a common refrain for his explanation of what's going on. 

"He's got a busy delivery when he throws the baseball," Maddon said. "He's kinda busy what he does with his hands. It's not like he can just change it easily because that's how his arm works, how his body works.

"Sometimes, like you see him the other day, everything's on time and how good it can be and when it's out of sorts a bit, then all of the sudden it becomes shotgun. Ah man, you can see the movement [on his pitches] from the side, how good it is. 

"We gotta harness it somehow. I spoke to him briefly on the bench; I reassured him it's gonna be fine, it's gonna be really good by the end of the year. We gotta figure it out and he knows that. But man, that's good stuff. We just gotta get it in the zone."

Chatwood also admitted part of the problem is mental in that he's trying to force pitches rather than trusting his stuff. He's also gotten into the bad habit of drifting down the mound, though he's not sure when or where he picked up that hitch in his delivery.

Chatwood and Cubs pitching coach Jim Hickey are working on slowing his delivery down to get his arm in the same spot on a more consistent basis.

When the Cubs signed Chatwood over the winter, it was easy to see why.

He just turned 28 in December, his peripherals and a move from hitter-friendly Coors Field foretold a potential leap in performance and his stuff is nasty. Plus, he signed a three-year deal at a relative bargain of $38 million.

Once the Cubs signed Yu Darvish in spring training, you could make the case that Chatwood could be among the best No. 5 starters in baseball.

Nine starts later, the honeymoon period is well over with Chatwood, as he threw only 30 of his 74 pitches for strikes Tuesday night and sent catcher Willson Contreras sailing all around home plate for pitches way out of the zone.

Still, it's clear to see there is some intriguing talent there and the season there is roughly 70 percent of the season remaining before the Cubs make what they hope is another run at the World Series.

"I have a lot of faith," Maddon said. "I know we're gonna reap the rewards, the benefits as he figures this thing out."

Baseball Night in Chicago Podcast: Marlon Byrd discusses his suspensions for PED use and Ozzie Guillen offers a solution to the PED problem

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NBC Sports Chicago

Baseball Night in Chicago Podcast: Marlon Byrd discusses his suspensions for PED use and Ozzie Guillen offers a solution to the PED problem

Ozzie Guillen explains why he thinks Manny Machado is a better fit for the Cubs than the White Sox. Plus, Guillen and Marlon Byrd react to 19-year-old Juan Soto hitting a homer in his first at-bat with the Nationals.

Later in the show the guys debate who had the better rants in front of the media: Guillen or Byrd?

Finally, Byrd opens up about his PED suspensions, relates to the guys caught using PEDs now and Guillen offers up a solution to rid baseball of PEDs entirely.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below: