Cubs

Scott Boras explains how Kris Bryant lives up to MVP hype with attitude Cubs need now

Scott Boras explains how Kris Bryant lives up to MVP hype with attitude Cubs need now

LOS ANGELES — “Nope,” Kris Bryant said when asked if any sense of panic crept inside the Cubs clubhouse, pausing for four seconds, giving a death stare and turning to his right with a next-question look. “I’m not concerned at all.”

Bryant stood at his locker after Tuesday night’s 6-0 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers extended the scoreless streak to 18 consecutive innings, the Cubs falling behind 2-1 in this best-of-seven National League Championship Series. With a backpack slung over his shoulders, Bryant answered every question from any reporter, finally walking out of the room at 9:01 p.m.

The “M-V-P! M-V-P! M-V-P!” chants echoed throughout Dodger Stadium the last time Bryant played here in late August. He managed the only two hits off ex-Cub Rich Hill in six innings, knocking two curveballs for singles, and then showing the attitude this team needs now.  

“He has the classic fighter-pilot personality,” super-agent Scott Boras said. “The more planes that are in the air, the calmer he gets. You know why? Because he goes: Great, I just get to shoot more things.

“That’s just his way of looking at life. Pressure – whatever it is – it’s just: Let’s go.”

Whatever happens next at Dodger Stadium, Bryant’s warp-speed development is a major reason why the Cubs believe they will keep playing deep into October for years to come.

As pointed and as personal as Boras could get while the Cubs tore it down to build the best team in baseball – “Meet the Parents,” “All-Day Sucker,” etc. – this time the agent didn’t at all oversell his client.

Bryant has been even better than advertised since the Theo Epstein administration made a franchise-altering decision with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2013 draft.

Within the last two years, Bryant has accounted for 65 homers and 201 RBI and put up a .900 OPS while playing six different defensive positions. During that time, the Cubs have won 200 games and made back-to-back trips to the NLCS.

Since his junior season at the University of San Diego, Bryant has been the national college player of the year, the consensus minor-league player of the year, an NL Rookie of the Year and possibly a unanimous MVP.

“I remember when he was in college, I went to see him play in Irvine,” Boras said. “They had a night game. He hit a ball to the wall in right field, center field, left field. And then hit one out about 410. I go: ‘I’ve been watching games here forever – I’ve never seen anybody (do that).’ You’re talking about 1,500-1,800 feet of at-bats.

“He goes: ‘Yeah, you know, it’s funny. I came to the ballpark today and I really wasn’t so concerned about it. It was kind of relaxing.’”

Boras asked: “Why?”

“Well, I had three finals today,” Bryant told Boras.

“He took three finals and goes and rakes,” Boras said. “He’s just that kind of guy. Nothing fazes him.”

Like what could be the unbearable pressure of playing for a franchise that hasn’t won a World Series since 1908 – and being one of its centers of attention from the moment you got drafted – and playing with “Embrace The Target” on your chest all season. 

Inside his home office in Southern California, Boras keeps an old photo of himself as a Cubs minor-league infielder. Before launching his career as the game’s most powerful agent, Boras worked as an attorney at a Chicago law firm, riding the El from Lincoln Park/Old Town and going up into a Loop skyscraper.     

Boras knew Bryant had no chance to make the 2015 Opening Day roster, the Cubs wanting to gain that extra year of club control and push his free-agency clock back until after the 2021 season. No matter how loud Boras yelled through his megaphone or whatever the Major League Baseball Players Association does with that service-time grievance.  

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But there is truth in advertising. Adidas got it right putting up that “WORTH THE WAIT” billboard in Wrigleyville last year. Red Bull then filmed Bryant with a goat in New Orleans for that “Down on the Farm” commercial.

“I figured if we’re going to be 11 days in the minor leagues, we’re going to do something special,” Boras said. “God gave us a big storm and (Kris) was wearing rubber boots. The Red Bull people really created it. Once we saw that, I (said): ‘Yeah, that looks good. Let’s do that. If we can’t play in the big leagues, at least we can kill the curse.’ And being a former Cubbie, we know a lot about that curse.”

No matter how many Cubs fans freak out on Twitter – or how lost the rest of this lineup sometimes looks against these Dodger lefties – Bryant still thinks this could be The Year. And that’s all that really matters now.

“Super calm,” Bryant said. “Nobody’s throwing stuff. Yeah, on the outside, you would kind of think that’s what would be going on because it’s fun to hit.

“But there’s no panic – nothing in here. That’s good. That’s right where we need to be.”

 

 

Cubs Talk Podcast: Get to know Kelly Crull podcast

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NBC Sports Chicago

Cubs Talk Podcast: Get to know Kelly Crull podcast

On the latest Cubs Talk Podcast, we get to know Kelly Crull. Kelly tells Luke Stuckmeyer about her love of bowling growing up, why she became a reporter and some of her favorite moments covering the Cubs.

01:00 Kelly's love of tennis at an early age

04:00 Following basketball while growing up in Indiana

06:00 Possible tennis showdown between Kelly and Megan Mawicke

09:30 Kelly talks about working in London & interviewing J.K. Rowling

14:00 When did she decide to become a reporter?

15:00 What is her favorite food?

16:00 Kelly's go-to karaoke song

18:00 Kelly's favorite NBA story (it involves Kevin Durant)

21:00 Favorite moments covering the Cubs

24:00 Dealing with the weather at Wrigley Field

28:00 Something we don't know about Kelly

31:00 What does Kelly enjoy watching at home the most?

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

Cubs Talk Podcast

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Cubs starting pitching great again, but road woes continue

Cubs starting pitching great again, but road woes continue

Kyle Hendricks’ last start on August 10 start against the Cincinnati Reds was his worst start of the season. He gave up 12 hits and 7 ER in 2.2 innings pitched amid a dreadful 10-1 loss, so Friday’s game against the last-place Pittsburgh Pirates was exactly what ‘The Professor’ needed to get back to his usual excellence. Unfortunately, it couldn’t help the right ship when it comes to the Cubs’ woeful road record.

This season Hendricks has fallen in line with the Cubs overall struggles on the road, as he is 4-7 with a 5.16 ERA away from Wrigley Field but PNC Park was quite kind to Hendricks on Friday night. He was extremely efficient on the night, tossing seven innings of three-hit ball, giving up one walk and one earned run.

Hendricks’ seven-innings pitched on Friday makes it back-to-back quality starts of the Cubs starters, following Yu Darvish’s squandered 10-strikeout outing on Thursday. Friday’s game also extends Hendricks run of dominance against the Pirates. 

But the road woes won out as the Cubs bullpen--which was without several of their best relief arms on Thursday--was terrible again, giving up six earned runs for the second night in a row. 

The bullpen did get some good news on Friday night, which was the return of relief pitcher Brandon Kintzler, who had not pitched since August 5. But--and almost no good Cubs news is without a but these days--Kintzler was called up in the ninth inning with one out to nail down the save and things went poorly, fast. 

Three-straight walks and a Kevin Newman single later, and the Cubs had suffered their second-straight walk-off loss.

Hopefully, the Cubs have a short memory as they will get a chance to avenge Friday’s loss on  Saturday afternoon at PNC Park. The North Siders are in the midst of a four-game losing streak and will have Jon Lester on the mound on Saturday. Lester has given up a combined 17 earned runs over his last three starts but had a quality start in his last outing against the Pirates, so as Kris Bryant stated, the Cubs have to “keep going”.

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