Cubs

Through ups and downs with Cubs, Jason Hammel and Jorge Soler earned their World Series rings

Through ups and downs with Cubs, Jason Hammel and Jorge Soler earned their World Series rings

It looked weird, three Kansas City Royals employees wearing gold-trimmed Cubs jerseys on their day off. But there must be some sort of 108-year exception to Major League Baseball's no-fraternization policy or whatever unwritten rule that might fall under now.

Jason Hammel, Jorge Soler and Travis Wood received their World Series rings before Monday night's game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field. Team president Theo Epstein, general manager Jed Hoyer and manager Joe Maddon stood near home plate as the Cubs played a tribute on the giant video board above the left-field bleachers and handed out the championship bling, a warm tribute to three players who helped build a contender.

"I love the idea that we're bringing these guys back to honor them in this manner," Maddon said, "because they were really big in regards to us winning the World Series — and in the previous year almost getting to the World Series. I just think that if I'm them, man, I'm just digging on this and there's nothing negative about it whatsoever."

Maddon's quick hook frustrated Hammel, who felt he deserved more respect and latitude as a veteran pitcher who won 33 games and put up a 3.59 ERA in a Cubs uniform.

The Cubs buying out Hammel's 2017 option for $2 million — after he missed his last start with right elbow tightness and didn't make the roster in all three playoff rounds — led to a free-agent odyssey that didn't end until early February with a two-year, $16 million contract with the Royals.

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Whether or not Soler ever puts it all together and lives up to the enormous potential the Cubs saw when they gave the Cuban defector a $30 million, major-league contract, it wasn't going to happen at Wrigley Field now.

Where would Soler play and could he stay healthy? The Cubs felt like they had a diminishing asset on their hands when they executed the Wade Davis trade at the winter meetings. Soler opened the season on the disabled list with an oblique injury.

"I would hope that they would really appreciate the fact that they both got a World Series ring," Maddon said. "That's a nice conclusion to your time in Chicago. The group that we had out there playing last year — I think that they understood what we had going on and why at the time.

"Jason had a great season — 15 wins last year — and again it's just a matter of keeping Georgie out there as often as we possibly could. George the previous year made quite a dent in the (playoffs). I think both of them — regardless of their participation in the World Series — have to take that ring as an indication of all the good stuff they did as a Cub.

"If you're altruistic in regards to your method in being part of a team, then you accept that ring and understand that you're a part of something a little bit bigger than yourself.

"They're all big boys. They understand how it goes."

During a conversation in spring training, Hammel said his family plans to keep their house in Lakeview and would be open to the idea of a return at some point in the future.

"I loved my time as a Cub," Hammel said. "And who knows? Maybe I finish out there in the bullpen at the end (of my career). I don't hold grudges. I'm certainly not going to burn a bridge.

"I'm very happy. We won the World Series. And now I get to go try and do it with another team that's very capable of doing it."

Cubs-Cardinals games in London officially canceled

Cubs-Cardinals games in London officially canceled

The Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals were set to play in London this June, but the COVID-19 outbreak and the uncertainty about the 2020 baseball season and schedule forced those games to be canceled.

The news had been reported by The Sun on March 26, and was practically a foregone conclusion anyway, but MLB made it official on Wednesday.


Information is thin here, but there are some subtleties worth pointing out. First, there are no details on if it will be rescheduled. There are too many uncertainties about baseball’s 2020 schedule and the availability of London Stadium going forward. England’s sports are also on hold and it’s not known when West Ham, the soccer team that plays at London Stadium, might need the stadium in the next couple years with the Premier League schedule also in flux for the foreseeable future.

Also, the wording in MLB’s announcement is canceled and not postponed. That doesn’t make it seem like there are plans to reschedule this. Even if they want to reschedule more games in London, it is a difficult time to plan a big event in a foreign country.

The games were originally scheduled for June 13 and 14. Last year, the Red Sox and Yankees played in London and the contract called for two years of games in London.

Cubs Sweet 16 bracket challenge: Ranking top position players since 2000

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USA TODAY

Cubs Sweet 16 bracket challenge: Ranking top position players since 2000

In the spirit of the NCAA tournament — canceled this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic — NBC Sports Chicago hosted a March Madness themed tournament on the latest Cubs Talk Podcast.

Jeff Nelson, Nate Poppen and Tim Stebbins rank the top 16 Cubs position players of the 2000s, running through a four-round bracket to determine who’s No. 1. Here’s how the players lined up:

(1) Anthony Rizzo vs. (16) Kosuke Fukudome

(8) Willson Contreras vs. (9) Dexter Fowler 

(5) Alfonso Soriano vs. (12) Sammy Sosa

(4) Aramis Ramirez vs. (13) Mark DeRosa

(6) Derrek Lee vs. (11) Moises Alou

(3) Kris Bryant vs. (14) Jason Heyward

(7) Starlin Castro vs. (10) Ben Zobrist

(2) Javier Báez vs. (15) Geovany Soto

A look at the round-by-round results, with voting scores.

Sweet 16

-Rizzo over Fukudome, 3-0

-Contreras over Fowler, 2-1

-Sosa over Soriano, 3-0

-Ramirez over DeRosa, 3-0

-Bryant over Heyward, 3-0

-Lee over Alou, 3-0

-Zobrist over Castro, 2-1

-Báez over Soto, 3-0

Elite Eight

-Rizzo over Contreras, 3-0

-Sosa over Ramirez, 3-0

-Bryant over Lee, 3-0

-Báez over Zobrist, 3-0

Final Four

Rizzo over Sosa, 3-0

Bryant over Báez, 3-0

Championship

Rizzo over Bryant, 3-0

What do you think? Listen here or below for rationale and added context behind our selections.

Cubs Talk Podcast

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