Cubs

Like rest of Cubs, Jake Arrieta will judge his year in October

Like rest of Cubs, Jake Arrieta will judge his year in October

SAN FRANCISCO – Dissecting his regular season again would be a waste of time for Jake Arrieta: “It just doesn’t matter anymore.”

Arrieta might be the best interview in the Cubs clubhouse, someone who will listen to any question, make direct eye contact and speak in full paragraphs. But even he knows this isn’t the time to think big picture, understanding his whole year will ultimately be judged in October, the way it will be for this entire team.

The Cubs are handing Arrieta a 2-0 lead over the San Francisco Giants in this best-of-five National League Division Series, giving him the chance to beat Madison Bumgarner and end their season on Monday night at AT&T Park.

Arrieta hasn’t trolled Giants fans on Twitter, the way he prepared for last year’s wild-card game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park. And Arrieta couldn’t top his answer to this year’s question about a first-round opponent – “Who gives a s---?” – by simply saying of Bumgarner: “He’s really good, but he’s beatable.”

“It’s going to be a great game, but I’m not like licking my lips because Bumgarner’s on the other side,” Arrieta said. “You know you have to be near the top of your game to win that game. But I got to face one through eight (in that lineup). That’s really my big concern, not who’s on the mound.”

Arrieta didn’t bring his Cy Young Award up to the podium inside AT&T Park’s interview room before Sunday’s optional workout. But it still follows him, the images from last year’s breakthrough performance, the onesie no-hitter at Dodger Stadium, silencing the blackout crowd during the wild-card game, really, one of the greatest pitching runs of all-time.

[SHOP: Gear up, Cubs fans!]

“Everybody’s been over-scrutinizing him based on what he had done last year,” manager Joe Maddon said. “He’s had a great season. It’s not maybe as great as last year was, but it’s hard to replicate that.

“I don’t think Jake is cowered by any situation. We have a lot of confidence in him. I think he projected last year exactly what he’s all about. He’s done it this year, too. Again, it’s just hard to maintain the level of excellence that he had last year.”

If becoming the Game 3 starter bruised Arrieta’s ego, he didn’t show it, and he’s raved about watching Jon Lester reestablish himself as an ace, as well as the emergence of Kyle Hendricks as a Cy Young Award contender.

Arrieta ranked among the NL leaders in wins (18/tied for third), ERA (3.10/10th) and opponents’ OPS (.583/second), all signs of dominance. He also had a midseason downturn (4.88 ERA in July) and an inconsistent finish (4.60 ERA in September).  

“From a numbers perspective, I would have liked to maybe be a little bit better,” Arrieta said. “But at the same time, (I) took the ball every five days and had a lot of great things throughout the season to be excited about.

“I’ve prepared the same way from start to finish. I really like the process and trust the stuff moving forward. I know that it’s more than good enough to have a lot of success for this team in the postseason.”

At this time last year, Arrieta gave the Cubs the invincible feeling the Giants have with Bumgarner, a three-time World Series champion. Which Jake shows up for Arrieta vs. Bumgarner could define this series and the rest of October.

“He’s a guy who really seems to shine brightest in the postseason when the games matter the most,” Arrieta said. “We have got a challenge ahead of us. But we put ourselves in a really good position, obviously, by taking care of business at home with the opportunity to close the series out in three games and get back to Chicago and prepare.

“We have a pretty potent offense that he has to try and neutralize. It's going to be a good one.”

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...