Target embraced: Joe Maddon warns Cubs against playing down to competition

Target embraced: Joe Maddon warns Cubs against playing down to competition

MILWAUKEE – A Milwaukee reporter asked Joe Maddon the standard out-of-town question about how the Cubs are handling expectations and if they are ignoring or embracing all the attention.

“Have you seen our T-shirts?” Maddon said during Tuesday’s pregame media session in Miller Park’s visiting dugout.

Uh, no, so the writer asked a follow-up: “What do they say?”

“Well, they say ‘Embrace The Target,’” Maddon responded, launching into his stump speech about not running away from pressure, freeing the mind from outcome bias and simply focusing on the process.

The Cubs manager actually tailored that message for teams like the Brewers, the trade-deadline sellers trying to stay out of last place and looking for motivation. As if on cue, a struggling right-hander named Chase Anderson retired the first 16 batters he faced, brought a no-hitter into the eighth inning and finished one out short of a complete-game shutout.

“He pitched well, but I was not displeased with our at-bats,” Maddon said after a 4-2 loss that still left the Cubs (27-10) with the best record in baseball. “When we play anybody right now – outside of the teams that already have targets on their backs – we’re going to see that kind of performance.”

For what it’s worth, the Cubs are 11-2 so far against the Pirates, Nationals and Cardinals combined this season – and have already lost series to the Rockies and Padres. Playing up or down to the level of the competition had been an issue during parts of last year’s breakthrough into the playoffs.

“Any team we play, they’re going to bring their best game for us,” said losing pitcher Kyle Hendricks (2-3, 3.51 ERA). “When we play the really good teams, we expect that more. I think maybe we just need to put in our minds against these other teams that they’re coming for us, no matter what.”

Miguel Montero – who caught Anderson with the Diamondbacks and sees his ceiling as a good fifth starter – put it this way: “The pitchers that we face are going to have a little bit of extra giddy-up.”

The next stops are San Francisco and St. Louis on this nine-games-in-nine-days road trip, which means big crowds, ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball” and more questions about T-shirts at Busch Stadium. But first the Cubs have to deal with the 17-22 Brewers.

“The teams that are struggling a bit are the teams that worry me even more,” Maddon said. “(We’re) going to bring out the best in them. I went through that as a Devil Ray. Not that we did really well against anybody else as Devil Rays. But nevertheless, when you go to Yankee Stadium or Boston and you’re struggling, at least you’re playing in Yankee Stadium and Boston.

“When you come to Wrigley, even if you’re struggling, you’re at Wrigley. So I’m always concerned about that – that we take care of business against everybody. Don’t apply any more weight to any particular game. It should always remain the same.

“The threat is that the other team’s going to apply more (weight). So you just got to be ready to play. You can’t just show up.”

Cubs Talk Podcast: Covering the MLB All-Star Game from the media’s perspective


Cubs Talk Podcast: Covering the MLB All-Star Game from the media’s perspective

NBC Sports Chicago’s own Kelly Crull and videographer Scott Changnon recalled what All-Star week in the nations capitol was like from their point of view.

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


Cubs, Bears, Bulls among the top 25 wealthiest sports teams in the world


Cubs, Bears, Bulls among the top 25 wealthiest sports teams in the world

What Chicago sports team is worth the most money in 2018?

As reported by Kurt Badenhausen in a Forbes article about the 50 richest teams around the globe, the Cubs are the most valuable organization in the Windy City.

Chicago’s North Side baseball team ranks as the 16th wealthiest team in the world, valued at $2.9 billion, an 8 percent increase from 2017. The Cubs are the third-most affluent franchise in Major League Baseball, behind the New York Yankees ($4 billion) and the Los Angeles Dodgers ($3 billion).

This year, the baseball club owned by the Ricketts family surpassed the wealth of the Boston Red Sox ($2.8 billion), who the Cubs were ranked behind last season at $2.68 billion. In the span of a year, the North Siders gained two spots in the top 50 from 18 to 16 on the list.

What could be the reason for this increase?

Could it be that the Cubs are in first place in the NL Central? Or could it be the incredible performances from players like Jon Lester and Javy Baez?

Whatever the reason is for the Cubs’ prosperity, the team is doing something right.

The club also surpassed the Bears on the list this year. In 2017 the Bears (worth $2.7 billion last year) were tied with the Red Sox as the 16th most valuable sports team on Earth. The McCaskey-owned football team has fallen to a tie at 17 with the San Francisco Giants, both valued at $2.85 billion in 2018. The Bears even increased by 6 percent in the last year, making the Cubs’ jump seem greater.

The Bulls, owned by Jerry Reinsdorf, are the last team from Chicago to make the cut. They stand at 23 in the top 50, tied with the Denver Broncos. Both franchises are worth $2.6 billion. Chicago’s NBA team even fell a spot from 2017, but they still increased their value by 4 percent (worth $2.5 billion last year).

The Bears are the seventh richest team in the NFL, while the Bulls are fourth wealthiest in the NBA.