Cubs

Rained out in Pittsburgh, Jon Lester wants Cubs to play 'stupid' down the stretch

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Rained out in Pittsburgh, Jon Lester wants Cubs to play 'stupid' down the stretch

PITTSBURGH — Jon Lester’s Cubs Way for young players learning on the job and experiencing a pennant race for the first time:

“This is going to sound really bad, but I’ve always been a big believer in playing stupid,” Lester said. “Being naïve.”

The Cubs wanted their young players to feel the thunder-and-lightning intensity of a playoff-type atmosphere against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park.

The Cubs got actual thunder and lightning on Monday night, sitting through two separate rain delays that combined to last three hours and 29 minutes before the game got postponed at almost midnight local time.

Manager Joe Maddon didn’t become frustrated with the way this 1-1 tie got wiped away after four innings, blaming it on unpredictable, shifting weather patterns: “It was truly a nature situation. Typical Pennsylvania summer.”

[MORE CUBS: Social media is biggest winner/loser at trade deadline]

The game won’t be replayed this week as part of a doubleheader. The Cubs still have Jake Arrieta (11-6, 2.62 ERA) and Dan Haren (7-7, 3.42 ERA) lined up for Tuesday and Wednesday against the Pirates (61-43).

The Cubs (57-47) are already scheduled to return to Pittsburgh next month (Sept. 15-17) for another series that could have huge playoff implications. Lester remembered the win-or-else pressure he felt with the Boston Red Sox and how Maddon’s carefree Tampa Bay Rays did the worst-to-first turnaround and made it to the World Series.

“I saw it with the Rays in 2008,” Lester said. “They were naïve to the situation. They had nothing to lose. We have nothing to lose. We’re not supposed to win. We’re supposedly still in the rebuilding stages.

“If we make the playoffs, that’s just an added bonus. I like that. I like (how) we’re not really the underdog, but we’re (also) not really expected to do anything.”

[MORE CUBS: Kris Bryant shaken up by concussion scare]

The Cubs are 10 games above .500 for the first time since the end of the 2008 season, when they captured a second straight division title before falling into an organizational abyss.

It’s hard to remember another week that’s been this anticipated around the team (or at least one that involved actual, meaningful games and not trade-deadline intrigue, the debut of another hyped prospect or some Wrigley Field renovation update).

The Cubs openly overpaid Lester — $155 million guaranteed — for his been-there, done-that big-game experience. Lester got five outs and pushed Francisco Cervelli to a 3-2 count before the storm became too much and both teams cleared the field in the middle of a scoreless game.

The first rain delay started in the second inning and lasted two hours and nine minutes, forcing the Cubs and Pirates to scrap what had been a matchup between two left-handed starters with elite stuff: Lester vs. Francisco Liriano.

[SHOP CUBS: Get a Jon Lester jersey right here]

The Cubs haven’t reworked their rotation yet, but Lester threw only 32 pitches and sounded optimistic that he wouldn’t have to wait another five days. The San Francisco Giants will open a marquee four-game series on Thursday night at Wrigley Field.

During the second delay, PNC Park’s video board in left field showed the Atlanta Braves coming back to beat the Giants in the 12th inning. That 9-8 loss at Turner Field moved the defending World Series champs to a half-game out of the second wild-card spot now held by the Cubs.

All together now: Play stupid.

“When we play other teams outside the division,” Lester said, “that’s when we can really kind of pounce on the situation and take advantage of that, maybe kind of sneak attack guys and take two out of three before they know what happened.”

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...

Cubs Talk Podcast: Manny Machado’s value and other Cubs offseason wish list items

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Manny Machado’s value and other Cubs offseason wish list items

Did Manny Machado’s value take a hit at all after he openly admitted hustling isn’t his “cup of tea”? Our Cubs team (David Kaplan, Kelly Crull, Tony Andracki, Jeff Nelson) debate that, plus the potential fit of Machado or Bryce Harper for the 2019 Cubs and beyond.

[MORE: The most underrated storyline of the Cubs offseason]

The crew also runs down the top items on the Cubs’ offseason wish list – ranging from bullpen help to infield depth to a set leadoff hitter – in what may be the most impactful winter in Theo Epstein’s tenure in Chicago.

Listen to the podcast here or via the embedded player below: