Cubs

Pirates' Gerrit Cole: Cubs aren't the best team in baseball

Pirates' Gerrit Cole: Cubs aren't the best team in baseball

Gerrit Cole took care of business against the Cubs Sunday and backed up his play with some bold statements.

After tossing eight shutout innings and helping the Pirates beat the Cubs for the first time in their last eight tries, Cole doubled down on his performance.

When a reporter posed the question that Cole just shut down the best team in baseball, the Pirates pitcher politely corrected the statement:

"It's just an opportunity to salvage the series," Cole said. "I don't really think they're the best team in baseball."

Of course, the Cubs are currently the best team in baseball - the only team still in the single digits in the loss column halfway through May.

The Cubs sit at 27-9 overall with a +109 run differential. In fact, their run differential was higher than the next two teams (Red Sox +58) and Cardinals (+46) combined entering play Sunday.

Following Sunday's loss, the Cubs have outscored the Pirates 38-13 in the six head-to-head games this season.

Cole had a rough go of it last time out against the Cubs, failing to go even five innings while allowing six runs (five earned) on six hits and four walks. He was 2-1 with a 2.13 ERA and 0.947 WHIP in four starts against the Cubs during the 2015 regular season, but lost that one-game wild-card playoff when he surrendered four runs in five innings, including homers to Kyle Schwarber and Dexter Fowler.

Marlon Byrd on PED suspensions: 'You can make a mistake on purpose or on accident'

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NBC Sports Chicago

Marlon Byrd on PED suspensions: 'You can make a mistake on purpose or on accident'

 

Six players on Major League Baseball rosters have been suspended twice for the use of performance-enhancing drugs.

Marlon Byrd, one of the players in that infamous group, has to live with that for the rest of his career. The 40-year-old talked about that on Baseball Night in Chicago on NBC Sports Chicago.

“Anybody that goes through this, it’s a part of their career,” Byrd said. “That’s it. This is a part of my career. Not testing positive once, but testing positive twice. I will always have to answer the question because it is a part of my 15-year major league career and always will. The easiest way to answer it is to tell the truth that way you can do it over and over and over again. Once you start telling fibs or telling lies you start holding onto something that’s not the truth.”

Byrd signed a 3-year deal with the Cubs ahead of the 2010 season. He was traded to the Boston Red Sox in April of 2012. Byrd’s first suspension came on June 25, 2012. He was suspended for 50 games. In 2016, he received his second suspension on June 1 and retired after the suspension.

Byrd was asked about his view on the recent Robinson Cano suspension, which will cost the Mariners’ second baseman 80 games. He spoke from personal experience when explaining what can happen with PED use.

“You can make a mistake on purpose or on accident,” Byrd said. “Some guys make it on accident. Some guys make it on purpose. There’s nobody up here that can talk about this better than I can because I’ve done it twice. One time on purpose, one time on accident. To speak for another man and what he went through is tough. Did Robinson do it or not? Only he knows. Nobody else is going to know, but what you have to do is take your suspension.”

Albert Almora Jr. knows he doesn't need to sell the Cubs to 'cousin' Manny Machado

Albert Almora Jr. knows he doesn't need to sell the Cubs to 'cousin' Manny Machado

Albert Almora Jr. has known Manny Machado all his life.

They're so close, they call each other "cousins", refer to the other's parents as "aunt" and "uncle" and Almora was a groomsman in Machado's wedding.

So with all these rumors about the Cubs potentially being the frontrunner to trade for Machado this summer, should we start referring to Almora-Machado as the better potential bromance in Chicago over Bryant-Harper?

The Cubs would have to acquire Machado in a trade this summer, but they undoubtedly wouldn't do that unless they thought they could sell him on staying here long-term when he reaches free agency after the 2018 season.

But Almora doesn't think he or the Cubs need to sell anything to Machado.

"That's the great thing about this organization," Almora said. "There's nothing that needs to be said. Guys want to play for us because we're the team to be and we have a lot of fun here. We have a great group of guys."

The Cubs have put together a heck of a resume in recent years, to the point where one reporter asked Kris Bryant if they're almost at the New England Patriots level of success.

That's taking things a few steps too far given the Cubs have won just one championship. But they have made it to the National League Championship Series three years in a row, they lead baseball in regular season wins since the start of the 2015 season and they have arguably the best young core in baseball.

It wouldn't have to take much convincing to want to join the same lineup as Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Willson Contreras, Javy Baez and others while playing for a manager (Joe Maddon) that has no rules as long as you hustle down the line and a front office that is among the best in baseball at accomodating players' families and off-field lives.

Oh yeah, and then there's the whole Wrigley Field effect and a fanbase that is as national and passionate as they come.

Almora insists he doesn't talk to his "cousin" about coming to the Cubs and maintained he loves the current roster and has said all year they have a special team.

That being said, Almora did concede to how awesome it would be if he and Machado could win the World Series someday on the same team.

They used to dream up that situation in their backyards as kids and when Almora got a ring with the Cubs in 2016, he jokingly rubbed it in Machado's face as they worked out together in Miami.

"We used to play a game," Almora said. "I used to throw him a basketball. He used to hit it with a wood bat and we'd put scenarios in my backyard — World Series and stuff like that. 

"But obviously we never sat down and talked about it seriously as kids. Now that we're adults, that would be special."

Machado is clearly in the discussion as one of the very best players in baseball while Almora is just now earning everyday playing time. But the Cubs centerfielder wouldn't concede to the fact that his bestie was better than him as children.

"Between Manny and myself? He was older than I am," Almora said, smiling. "I don't know, I'm not gonna say he was better than me."