Cubs

Why baseball means even more on Mother's Day

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AP

Why baseball means even more on Mother's Day

I still remember the way my childhood mitt felt on my hand.

It was "signed" by former Atlanta Braves star Dale Murphy, which makes absolutely no sense for a kid who grew up in suburban Chicago as a Cubs fan. Plus, I was only six when Murphy retired from baseball and almost his entire prime was before my lifetime, so it's not even like I was capable of truly appreciating him as a player.

But I refused to get a new glove. It was far too big for me in Little League, but I insisted on using it and must've looked pretty comical as an undersized kid playing middle infield in T-Pitch with a mitt about three sizes too big.

I loved that glove. Every time I looked at it or put it on, it reminded me of going out in the backyard with my mom to play catch or play "The Inning Game" where I pretended I was all nine fielders desperately trying to get a bunch of invisible runners and hitters out.

My dad spent a lot of time coaching my Little League teams and supporting me even on the teams he didn't coach, but my true passion for the game of baseball originated from my mom.

She was — and still is — a diehard Cubs fan. To the point where I had to talk her off the ledge a bit last week during the Cubs' recent struggles.

Mother's Day is always a baseball barometer of sorts for me each spring. It was the end of my college club seasons and in the years since I've graduated has now been simultaneously a checkpoint in the MLB season and a harbinger to my own summer season about to begin.

Every year, I request off work for Mother's Day — even when the Cubs are in town.

I wasn't at Wrigley Field for Javy Baez's walk-off homer to finish off a sweep of Bryce Harper and the Washington Nationals last year. I was sitting on the couch at my mom's house watching her run in from preparing food in the kitchen and do a little fist pump, just a few feet from the pink Mother's Day bat my sisters and I got her years earlier as a gift:

Baseball isn't just another sport to my mom and as a byproduct, it's not just another sport to me.

I've made baseball not only my career, but my life. This summer will mark my first season playing the game as a 30-year-old, one of the goals I set for myself when I was still using that Dale Murphy glove. Next step: Playing at age 40.

My mom just got a new job this month and one of the first things she told me about it was her hours are more flexible and the office is closer to my summer baseball field, so she hopes to be able to make nearly every game as she has every summer since I started playing Little League.

Ms. Andracki serves as "Team Mom," keeping the scorebook on a nightly basis and she even showed up with Mondos last year in the playoffs as a throwback to a simpler time.

It was my mom who taught me how to keep score and helped me understand the game that has grown into the backbone of my life.

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For my extended family, Mother's Day is the day we all get together to pay tribute to the all the moms.

For me, Mother's Day is an opportunity to honor the woman who shaped my career, my hobbies, my life. 

And the best way to honor my mom is with baseball, particularly Cubs baseball.

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 28th + 29th homers in 1998

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 28th + 29th 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.

For the second time in 1998, Sosa went back-to-back games with multiple home runs. After going yard twice on June 19 of that season, Slammin' Sammy again sent two balls into the bleachers on June 20.

He singlehandedly beat the Phillies that night, driving in 5 runs in a 9-4 Cubs victory.

But that wasn't the most impressive feat of the day from Sosa. His second homer was actually measured at a whopping 500 feet! It was the longest of the season, but not the longest of his career. On June 24, 2003, Sosa hit a homer at Wrigley measured at 511 feet.

The back-to-back big games raised Sosa's season OPS to 1.083 with a ridiculous .685 slugging percentage. He began June 1998 with a .608 slugging percentage.

Fun fact: Kerry Wood struck out 11 batters in 7.1 innings on June 20, 1998 to pick up his 7th big-league victory. As Wood marched to the National League Rookie of the Year that season, he finished with a 13-6 record and 233 strikeouts in only 166.2 innings for a career-high 12.6 K/9 rate.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: How long can Cubs stick with Tyler Chatwood?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: How long can Cubs stick with Tyler Chatwood?

On tonight's episode of the SportsTalk Live Podcast, Kap hosts David Haugh, Jason Goch and Rich Campbell. Tyler Chatwood's control issues continued on Tuesday. How long can the Cubs withstand his walks before needing to make a change? What's more concerning, Chatwood's control or Brandon Morrow's bad back?

Plus, the NBA Draft is two days away. How big is this for Gar Forman and John Paxson? And does Villanova's Donte DiVincenzo intrigue you at all?

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below: