This is the thanks Joe Maddon gets for Cubs winning the World Series?

This is the thanks Joe Maddon gets for Cubs winning the World Series?

Amid all the euphoria surrounding the franchise's first World Series title in more than a century, the first question from the audience to Theo Epstein and a panel of Cubs executives on Saturday morning involved why Joe Maddon pulled Kyle Hendricks with two outs in the fifth inning of Game 7.
In the next Q&A session inside the same massive hotel ballroom, another fan raved about Maddon's style, how he had envisioned him as the perfect personality to manage this team: "That being said, now Game 7…"
"There's always a big but in the room," Maddon said into the microphone.
Another fan at the Sheraton Grand Chicago wondered: "If (Aroldis) Chapman was here, would you ask him to do one hour of autographs last night, two hours today and three hours tomorrow?"
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"He's definitely in shape – he's in good enough shape to do something like that," Maddon said. "This is the best-conditioned baseball player I've ever been around."
To be clear, this didn't sum up the overall mood at a fanfest that could produce giddy vibes and this-is-the-year optimism coming off a last-place season. It's just fascinating that this is the thanks Maddon gets after doing what no Cubs manager had done since 1908.    
"Listen, honestly, I love the second-guessing," Maddon said. "I grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania. I hung out at Bellhops bar all the time. And if you don't have these kinds of conversations – that's a big part of why our game is so popular and is as great as it is." 
Could you imagine Bill Belichick or Gregg Popovich sitting up on stage at an event like this for 60 minutes – and patiently explaining their decision-making yet again – after the New England Patriots won the Super Bowl or the San Antonio Spurs won an NBA title?  
Maddon welcomed Chapman to Chicago after a 30-game suspension under Major League Baseball's domestic-violence policy and a controversial midseason trade from the New York Yankees. Maddon went along with the closer's one-clean-inning-at-a-time preferences during the regular season before having him throw 97 pitches combined in Games 5, 6 and 7 against the Cleveland Indians.

[SHOP: Gear up, Cubs fans!]
Chapman repaid Maddon by telling New York reporters – on the conference call to officially announce his five-year, $86 million contract with the Yankees last month – that the manager misused him in the playoffs.
"We do kind of manage along with Joe in the stands," said Epstein, who felt like he died about three different times during Game 7. "I'll be the first to say I don't always agree with everything, but he's always got a reason for everything. 
"Before the game, he had a real strong feeling. The way he saw it going was Hendricks for five or so, (Jon) Lester for a couple and then Chapman, which is different because Joe usually really makes sure he watches the game. 
"He likes to anticipate all different scenarios before the game, but he's really big on watching the game and seeing how the game's going and managing the game that he sees – not the game that he thought he had anticipated. 
"We forget that Kyle had some hard-hit balls in the second, third inning and he had to get Lester up early. A big part of that decision…was that once he got Lester up he couldn't wait too long to then get him in the game. 
"From the scouts' section, it looked to me probably like it looked to you at home – Hendricks was rolling and probably could have gone seven or something. But there are other things a manager has to consider – like the fact that he already had Lester up – that you don't necessarily think about at home. 
"The bottom line is that I'm usually a process-based person – not outcome-based – but when you win the World Series, I love being outcome-based."   
There's no telling how this rebuilding project would have turned out if the Cubs hadn't lucked into Maddon using an escape clause in his contract and leaving the Tampa Bay Rays after the 2014 season. 
But the Cubs absolutely needed the force of Maddon's personality to win 200 games and five playoff rounds across the last two years. It's his faith in young talent, embrace of data, the ability to charm, distract and defuse the media and an overall "When It Happens" confidence that he projected to the entire organization.   
"Listen, the great part about the game is everyone manages along with the manager and second-guesses," Epstein said. "Everyone GMs along with the GM and second-guesses. It's their right. But ultimately to do a great job and win – that kind of speaks for itself – so he's got the ultimate defense.
"No one's perfect, right? I've messed a lot of things up. Our players mess up from time to time. A manager's not going to get everything right. Or at least certainly he's not going to make decisions that please everyone all the time. 
"But in a great organization, people pick each other up to get to a point where you can win."

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 12th + 13th homers in 1998


Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 12th + 13th homers in 1998

It's the 20th anniversary of the Summer of Sammy, when Sosa and Mark McGwire went toe-to-toe in one of the most exciting seasons in American sports history chasing after Roger Maris' home run record. All year, we're going to go homer-by-homer on Sosa's 66 longballs, with highlights and info about each. Enjoy.

An off-day did nothing to slow down the 1998 National League MVP as Sosa collected his second straight 2-homer game May 27 of that season.

He went deep in the eighth and ninth innings of a Cubs' 10-5 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies at Wrigley Field, driving in 3 runs. 

The first homer - off Darrin Winston - was an absolute blast, traveling an estimated 460 feet. The second shot was tame in comparison with only 400 feet as a recorded distance.

In a matter of two games, Sosa raised his season OPS from .930 to .988 and his slugging percentage from .521 to .577 thanks to a pair of 2-homer contests.

Fun fact: Doug Glanville - former Cubs outfielder and current NBC Sports Chicago analyst - was the Phillies leadoff hitter that day in 1998, collecting three hits and scoring a pair of runs.

Yu Darvish back on the DL for Cubs with triceps tendinitis


Yu Darvish back on the DL for Cubs with triceps tendinitis

Yu Darvish now has more trips to the disabled list in a Cubs uniform than wins.

The Cubs place their 31-year-old right-handed pitcher on the DL Saturday evening with right triceps tendinitis. The move is retroactive to May 23, so he may only have to miss one turn through the rotation.

In a corresponding move, Randy Rosario was recalled from Triple-A Iowa to provide Joe Maddon with another arm in the bullpen. Tyler Chatwood will start Sunday in Darvish's place.

Thanks to two off-days on the schedule last week, the Cubs should be fine with their rotation for a little while. Jon Lester could go on regular rest Monday, but the Cubs would need to make a decision for Tuesday given Kyle Hendricks just threw Friday afternoon.

That decision could mean Mike Montgomery moving from the bullpen to the rotation for a spot start, or it could be the promotion of top prospect Adbert Alzolay from Triple-A Iowa.

Either way, this is more bad news for Darvish, who has had a rough go of it since he signed a six-year, $126 million deal with the Cubs in February.

Between issues with the weather, the concern of arm cramps in his debut in Miami, leg cramps in Atlanta, a trip to the disabled list for the flu, trouble making it out of the fifth inning and now triceps tendinitis, it's been a forgettable two months for Darvish.

He is 1-3 with a 4.95 ERA, 1.43 WHIP and 49 strikeouts in 40 innings with the Cubs.

Over the course of 139 career starts, Darvish is 57-45 with a 3.49 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and has averaged 11 strikeouts per nine innings.