Cubs

Vince Vaughn has a message for the Cubs in World Series

Vince Vaughn has a message for the Cubs in World Series

Vince Vaughn had a message for the Cubs: No excuses. Play like a champion.

Vaughn relayed a variation of Rule No. 76 from "Wedding Crashers" to the Chicago media behind home plate at Wrigley Field ahead of the second World Series game on the north side of Chicago in 71 years.

A lifelong Cubs fan, Vaughn was excited when his team won the National League pennant, but he still demands more.

"I'm not content," he said ahead of Game 4 Saturday evening. "I was glad that we moved on [to the World Series]. I expected us to and I expect us to win this. This is fun."

Vaughn will sing - "If you can call it that," he joked - the Seventh Inning Stretch at Wrigley Saturday night, taking in the historic scene at the corner of Clark and Addison.

[SHOP: Buy a "Try Not to Suck" shirt with proceeds benefiting Joe Maddon's Respect 90 Foundation & other Cubs Charities]

Vaughn has been following the Cubs' magical season from afar and hopes his team will have a better showing against Indians ace Corey Kluber the second time around after getting shut out in Game 1.

"We got so many memories and now here we are," he said. "I'm just focused on tonight and win or lose, we're gonna have some fun. Second time seeing [Kluber].

"I love this team. This is my childhood team. ... Tonight's great. We can even the series here. I'm just excited. It's so fun to be here.

"These kids have been terrific. [Cubs manager Joe] Maddon, they've all been stepping up. It's been terrific watching them."

The 46-year-old actor grew up in Buffalo Grove and Lake Forest and has fond memories of skipping school to watch the Cubs play.

"It's just a different atmosphere tonight, but it's the same Wrigley Field," he said. "Unbelievable. Great night."

Vaughn admitted he didn't really know what to expect or envision as the World Series hits Wrigley Field for the first time in a lifetime.

"It feels really good," he said. "There's a little bit of pageantry, but you got the ivy on the wall and there's a few more billboards than we used to have, but it feels exciting tonight."

Sports Talk Live Podcast: What's up with Jon Lester?

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USA TODAY

Sports Talk Live Podcast: What's up with Jon Lester?

David Haugh, Hub Arkush and Ben Finfer join Kap on the panel.

0:00 - The Cubs had chances but fall to the Phillies after Jon Lester gets roughed up again. Is anybody worried?

4:00 - It's Kap's daily call for the Cubs management to sign Craig Kimbrel.

8:00 - The White Sox look for a split. Do they need to try to compete in the division or just focus on developing their future stars?

13:00 - The Bears' Top 100 players list is out. The guys debate if Brian Urlacher is too low and if "The Fridge" should have cracked the list.

20:00 - Drake's shoulder rub is dominating the Eastern Conference Finals. The guys weigh in on the touchy subject.

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

How close is Ian Happ to rejoining the Cubs?

How close is Ian Happ to rejoining the Cubs?

Is Ian Happ nearing a return to Chicago?

In a surprise move at the end of spring training, the Cubs sent the 24-year-old switch-hitter down to the minor leagues to work on his swing and try to cut down on strikeouts.

Happ's numbers in Iowa don't jump off the page at you (.240/.362/.422), but it looks like he may be turning a corner of late. He homered Monday night then went 4-for-4 with another homer, 2 doubles and 5 RBI in the second game of a doubleheader Wednesday.

That's obviously a very small sample size, however, and even including that, Happ is still struggling to make consistent contact. He has struck out 14 times in 25 at-bats over his last 8 games. 

His overall strikeout percentage on the season is 25.9 percent — a major improvement on the 36.1 percent mark he struggled through in the big leagues last year. But Happ had never struck out more than 23.6 percent of the time in a season coming up through the minor leagues, so that number is still higher than the Cubs would like to see.

"If [the mini hot streak] were sustained, you'd have to really start listening," Joe Maddon said. "I'm following him via video, watching the at-bats. I'm doing that almost daily with him. I know prior to that, he had still had some problems with strikeouts. 

"And then hit a home run the other day and that seems like that's led to this other home run. That would be primarily a call on the front office and the minor-league part [on when to call him up], but I will watch the video. The home run I saw, I liked. I thought he had much better balance on the entire swing."

Obviously the Cubs aren't going to overreact to a couple games and deem Happ ready to return to the big leagues based off a handful of at-bats.

But there's also a solid case to be made that he could help the club in Chicago right now.

Despite a hot start to the season, the Cubs' role players have really fallen off the last few weeks and much of the offensive damage has come from the big boppers (Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Javy Baez, Willson Contreras) recently.

There's no indication Ben Zobrist is coming back anytime soon, as Maddon said Thursday morning he hasn't spoken to the veteran in a couple days. 

David Bote and Jason Heyward have looked better this week, but they were struggling for the first couple weeks of May. 

Daniel Descalso has really been scuffling, hitting .097 with only 1 extra-base hit in May and his defense at second base has been below average.

Then there's Mark Zagunis, who isn't doing much of anything for the Cubs — literally. He hasn't started a game since April 26 and hasn't seen even one inning in the outfield since then, either, serving exclusively as a pinch-hitter for the last month.

So if the Cubs decide soon that Happ is ready to return to the big leagues, they have a simple decision on the roster spot and right now, there might be an avenue to a decent amount of playing time either at second base or the outfield.

Happ may not be the best or most experienced defender at second base, but he's seen some time there in the minors this season (59.2 innings) and he can also play either of the corner infield spots and all three outfield positions.

But would it be prudent for the Cubs to call up Happ if they don't even have room for him to play every day? That could throw a wrench in his development, which is clearly something the organization has been committed to.

Albert Almora Jr. is still easily the best centerfielder on the roster and has been great offensively for the last month, so it's not like he's done anything to deserve falling back into a platoon with Happ in center like they shared for much of 2018.

"It's hard. You would want to [call him up only if there's ample time to play him]," Maddon said. "But if you could morph him in and there's a platoon that's worthwhile, you could do that, also.

"But part of him being [in the minors] right now on a consistent basis is to get these kind of at-bats to get this all worked out and you would not want to lose that, either. But when he were to come back, being that he could hit left-handed obviously permits us to do other things."

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