Cubs

Walking off an important part of Cubs' lesson in winning

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Walking off an important part of Cubs' lesson in winning

If you were still awake after that nearly three-hour weather delay during Saturday night’s game, you saw a finish that’s becoming more and more frequent on the North Side.

The Cubs walked off for the seventh time this season Saturday night, with Starlin Castro again playing hero with a game-winning basehit to beat the Reds in the bottom of the ninth.

There were a pair of walk-off wins in April, four more in May. Saturday night marked June’s first, and it’s apparent this is becoming a habit for the young Cubs. Joe Maddon was brought in, tasked with, among other things, teaching this team of top prospects to win at the major league level. Walking off is a part of that, according to one Cubs veteran.

“I think it just builds confidence. I think that’s part of when you hear the term ‘learning how to win,’ that’s one of the aspects as a team, as a player, learning how to win those type of games,” Cubs outfielder Chris Coghlan said before Sunday’s series finale with Cincinnati. “And once you do it, it’s like anything, ‘Oh, OK, that’s how we did it. Let’s do it again.’ And obviously you can’t come through all the time, but your confidence is a lot higher when you’ve already done it. You’re like, ‘We’ve already done that. We’ve been there, done that. We know how to do it, let’s stick with what we do.’”

[MORE CUBS: Cubs hoping to capture some of the Blackhawks' Stanley Cup buzz]

Saturday, it was the youngsters coming through in the clutch. Kris Bryant led off the bottom of the ninth with a double. Then after Miguel Montero was hit by a pitch, Castro delivered the game-winning single. Cubs win.

But it’s about more than just having the talent to do it. It’s about having guys that want to do it and guys that can inspire the rest of their teammates to grab a dramatic “W.”

“When you get in that situation in the ninth inning, you’re like, ‘We can walk it off right here,’” Coghlan said. “Then when KB hits the double, or whoever hits the double or gets a hit, it mounts more and more. The pitcher feels more and more pressure because he knows he’s in a tougher spot than if there’s nobody on. And we feel more confident in that situation because we have a guy in scoring position already. And the way that things roll, our lineup’s so deep that anybody has a chance to win the game.

“I think we have a lot of guys like that. That’s what makes it fun, and that’s why we have so many walk-off hits is because we’re in that situation. We can’t get to that situation without defense, without pitching, but offensively, being able to come through, why there’s been different guys to get game-winning hits, it’s because that’s the type of team we are offensively. That’s a good talent to have.”

[MORE CUBS: Joe Maddon not concerned as strikeouts pile up]

Castro is the first Cub with a pair of walk-off hits this season. He previously came through with one to beat the Padres back on April 18. For all the guff the shortstop gets from fans, he’s made two of the most clutch plays of the season thus far, and he’s earning a reputation in the clubhouse as someone who can deliver.

“I think he is,” Coghlan said. “I think Star, he’s such a good offensive player. He takes a lot of heat, too, here, but I think that a lot of times people forget how good offensively he is, how young he is, too. It seems like in those situations this year — I’ve only been here two years, but it seems like he comes up a lot of times with an opportunity to win a game. I think he relishes that opportunity, knowing his personality. That what makes him able to come through in those situations.”

“Castro is just a good hitter. He’s a really good hitter. I’ve faced him a lot in my career, and this guy’s a really good hitter,” Montero said. “It’s good to be a part of this team and play with young, talented guys. The ceiling’s still pretty high for them. They’re still growing, and they’re still getting better. And they’re going to be even better every day. Every day they’re just going to get better.”

[SHOP CUBS: Get a Starlin Castro jersey right here]

Don’t expect the Cubs’ ninth-inning dramatics to go away any time soon. Winning ballgames late is becoming a trend, and figuring out how to come through in the clutch is an extremely valuable lesson for a young team looking to do enough damage to get into the playoffs. And the playoffs: There’s a time of year where being clutch really matters.

“We play hard, we go about our business,” Montero said. “And when you get a few wins here and there like that, it kind of motivates you and kind of increases your confidence level knowing that you can do it again.”

Ben Zobrist provides a hilarious glimpse into how he's spending a free October

Ben Zobrist provides a hilarious glimpse into how he's spending a free October

Ben Zobrist won't win the Comeback Player of the Year award this winter, but maybe he can take home a Grammy for Best New Artist?

The Cubs veteran infielder/outfielder posted a hilarious video on his Instagram Wednesday night showcasing how he's been spending October after the Cubs were unceremoniously ousted from the playoffs after on the third day of the month.

It's a fantastic music video of Zobrist lip-syncing to Mumford & Sons' "I Will Wait" while he nearly knocks the TV off the wall of his home by swinging the bat indoors pretending to hit off Clayton Kershaw and frolicking around a field that looks shockingly similar to Hershel's farm from the second season of "The Walking Dead":

View this post on Instagram

It always takes me a few weeks to process the season and begin the offseason. Here are my thoughts.....along with a unique way of making light of the postseason that should have been......... (special thanks to @dimtillard for help with Video) Maybe you feel the way I do. It was a very quick and abrupt ending to a good season for us. It leaves a sour taste in my mouth. But let’s not forget all the good that happened. This game and this team gives us something to pass the time, to express our love and passion, to feel the joy of the wins and the pains of the losses, and it calls us to unity when we so easily can be divided about so many other things. Each game is a microcosm of life. The game itself is not Life, but it helps us deal with life in a way. I’m thankful for even the painful losses at the end. The game can be a great teacher. I felt privileged to play with this team and play for our fans all year. We were stretched and we grew in new ways as individuals and as a group and that is always a good thing. We strive to win championships, but more often the process is the goal. We will be stronger because of all that we went through this year. What will I do now? I will travel and watch my wife crush her book tour. I will be in and out of Chi-town. I just got back home to Franklin, TN. I will find joy in raising and watching my kids grow and continue becoming their own person. I will rest and begin preparing for next season. I will work hard in mind, body, and spirit. I will help other players with @patriotforward and @showandgo. I will focus on personal growth and charitable endeavors and become a better man, teammate, friend, and player. To Baseball and Fans: For the next 5 months until I play next year.... I will wait for you....

A post shared by Ben Zobrist (@benzobrist18) on

Zobrist also posted a lengthy caption on his perspective on the Cubs' disappointing end to the season:

It always takes me a few weeks to process the season and begin the offseason. Here are my thoughts.....along with a unique way of making light of the postseason that should have been......... (special thanks to @dimtillard for help with Video) 
Maybe you feel the way I do. It was a very quick and abrupt ending to a good season for us. It leaves a sour taste in my mouth. But let’s not forget all the good that happened. This game and this team gives us something to pass the time, to express our love and passion, to feel the joy of the wins and the pains of the losses, and it calls us to unity when we so easily can be divided about so many other things. Each game is a microcosm of life. The game itself is not
Life, but it helps us deal with life in a way. I’m thankful for even the painful losses at the end. The game can be a great teacher. 
I felt privileged to play with this team and play for our fans all year. We were stretched and we grew in new ways as individuals and as a group and that is always a good thing. We strive to win championships, but more often the process is the goal. We will be stronger because of all that we went through this year. 
What will I do now? I will travel and watch my wife crush her book tour. I will be in and out of Chi-town. I just got back home to Franklin, TN. I will find joy in raising and watching my kids grow and continue becoming their own person. I will rest and begin preparing for next season. I will work hard in mind, body, and spirit. I will help other players with @patriotforward and @showandgo. I will focus on personal growth and charitable endeavors and become a better man, teammate, friend, and player. 
To Baseball and Fans: For the next 5 months until I play next year....
I will wait for you....

Come for the Zobrist lip sync, but stay for the 37-year-old using a bat as a guitar while wearing a sleeveless shirt and rocking an old-timey top hat.

A year ago, Zobrist completely reshaped his offseason workout plan after three straight years of playing deep into October. It appears he's added another new trick to his winter workout — hopping over fences even though there is a clear opening just a foot away.

Hey, whatever works...

Cubs Talk Podcast: Manny Machado’s value and other Cubs offseason wish list items

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Manny Machado’s value and other Cubs offseason wish list items

Did Manny Machado’s value take a hit at all after he openly admitted hustling isn’t his “cup of tea”? Our Cubs team (David Kaplan, Kelly Crull, Tony Andracki, Jeff Nelson) debate that, plus the potential fit of Machado or Bryce Harper for the 2019 Cubs and beyond.

[MORE: The most underrated storyline of the Cubs offseason]

The crew also runs down the top items on the Cubs’ offseason wish list – ranging from bullpen help to infield depth to a set leadoff hitter – in what may be the most impactful winter in Theo Epstein’s tenure in Chicago.

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