Cubs

Word on the Street: Cubs looking at Berkman?

Word on the Street: Cubs looking at Berkman?

Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010
CSNChicago.com

Cubs interested in signing Lance Berkman?

Looking to add some left-handed pop to their lineup without paying too much, Fox Sports writer Ken Rosenthal claims the Cubs are looking into former Houston Astros first baseman Lance Berkman. Berkman was primarily used at first base after being traded to the New York Yankees late in 2010, but says he wants to play the field again. (foxsports.com)
No arbitration offer for Pierzynski an interesting choice

The White Sox chose to offer salary arbitration to free agents Paul Konerko and J.J. Putz, but declined the option on A.J. Pierzynski and Manny Ramirez. While the Ramirez choice isn't shocking, the Pierzynski decision is a bit of a head-scratcher. How could declining to offer Pierzynski actually be beneficial for the White Sox and aid in the veteran's return to the South Side? (examiner.com)

Chicago home to "Hole of the Year"

Golf Digest's Ron Whitten handed out his 2010 awards in the December issue of the magazine and Chicago Highlands won big. Located in west suburban Westchester, the courses par-3 13th hole won the "Hole of the Year" award.

"It's shaped like a volcano ... blow it left, right, short or over the green, and the ball could roll 60 yards down. It's a giant chocolate drop of a hole, a pyramid of grass, the Iwo Jima of golf," wrote Whitten. (ChicagoBreakingSports)

Scott Boras potentially in trouble with Players Union

Baseball super-agent Scott Boras, agent to some of the greatest players in the game over the last two decades including Alex Rodriguez, Greg Maddux, and Barry Bonds, may have violated the rules of the Major League Baseball Players Association.

Boras is accused of providing tens of thousands of dollars of loans and payments to Dominican teenage prospects. According to the union's regulations, loans of more than 500 to players andor their families are prohibited unless the reason for the loan is disclosed to the players union.

The money obligates them to the agent, gives the agent leverage, and coerces the athlete to do what the agent wants because of fear of foreclosure or other adverse consequences for the athlete or the athletes family, said Mark S. Levinstein, a prominent sports lawyer who is a partner at the Washington law firm Williams & Connolly.

If found to be in violation of the union's rules, Boras could be subject to fines or even have his rights to represent players revoked. (The New York Times)
Vick featured on SI cover

Michael Vick has quickly become the most talked about player in the entire NFL, and this week Sports Illustrated is jumping on the bandwagon, featuring Vick on the cover of the this week's issue of the magazine. The cover, and the infamous jinx to those featured on it, add even more hype to this Sunday's Bears-Eagles game at Soldier Field. For their part, the Bears are convinced they can stop Vick.

"We believe in our defense and it's set up to play guys like him. We give him all the respect in the world, but our guys are excited about playing against not just Mike Vick, it's more than Michael Vick, the Philly offense. They have good skill guys all the way around," said coach Lovie Smith. (ChicagoBreakingSports)

Heat flounder against Pacers, fall to 8-6

The star-studded Miami Heat, once the subject of talks as to whether or not they could best the 1995-96 Bulls NBA-record 72-10 regular season record, have lost their second consecutive game, bringing their season record to 8-6. Their most recent loss, a 93-77 dismantling at the hands of the Indiana Pacers, was the teams worst offensive performance of the year and came just hours after learning that they would lose their top reserve Udonis Haslem indefinitely due to a foot injury.

After their most recent loss, the Heat would have to go 64-4 for the remainder of the season to tie the Bulls' record. (ChicagoBreakingSports)

NFLPA writes to Quinn, Daley about potential lockout

The NFL Players Association's president Kevin Mawae wrote a letter to Gov. Pat Quinn and Mayor Richard Daley on Monday, warning the two of the massive amount of money that the state and city could lose if the NFL is locked out in 2011.

Mawae claimed in the letter that if the NFL does not play in 2011, the city and state stand to lose as much as 160 million. (SB Nation Chicago)

Morandini to manage Phillies Class-A squad

Former Cubs second baseman Mickey Morandini was named Manager of the Phillies Class-A Williamsport Croscutters on Monday. Prior to taking the job with the Phillies, Morandini was a baseball coach at Valparaiso High School in northwest Indiana. Morandini played two years with the Cubs, including their 1998 season in which they won the National League wild card. (ChicagoBreakingSports)

Why Cubs say 'nothing's going to faze us now' after historic 12-3 start

Why Cubs say 'nothing's going to faze us now' after historic 12-3 start

Throughout his career, Jon Lester has called the typical baseball season a roller coaster.

“I think we’re on the Six Flags roller coaster right now,” the Cubs’ veteran pitcher said. “We’re not on the kiddie side of anything.”

Three-month shutdown. Deadly pandemic. Surgical masks. Empty stadiums. Every-other-day testing for COVID-19.

“That being said, I think everybody’s just glad to be doing it,” he said.

As strange as that sounds, maybe that explains it. Maybe the Cubs are just glad to be here.

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Anthony Rizzo, the most tenured player in the clubhouse, said that much in February — said how much he intended to enjoy every day of this season because the nine players left from the 2016 championship were on borrowed time as a group, likely to be ripped apart at the trade deadline with a poor start.

Whatever it is that has brought them to this point, get a load of the Cubs five months after the coronavirus pandemic shut down spring training.

After the Cardinals’ COVID-19 outbreak wiped out the Cubs’ series in St. Louis and sidelined them for four days, the Cubs responded by outscoring Cleveland 15-3 to sweep a two-game series — albeit, after that team put two of its best pitchers on the restricted list for violating safety protocols.

The Cubs return home with a 12-3 record that ties its best through 15 games since it went 13-2 in 1907 on the way to a World Series championship. (Of course, the other time it went 12-3 was 1970, when the rest of the season was not so good).

The biggest difference this year, of course, is that 15 games already represents one-fourth of the season, assuming Major League Baseball can pull off this nine-week, 30-team long shot.

So it would be like starting 32-8 in a 162-game season.

Or maybe not a lot different than starting 25-6 — which is what the Cubs did in 2016 on the way to 103 victories and a World Series championship that finished in the same place they just knocked around the best team they’ve played so far this season. (The Cubs were 11-4 through 15 games in 2016.)

“It’s kind of cool,” Lester said of the short season. “It’s kind of cool to have this pressure on you from Day 1. I think sometimes we can all get into the, 'It’s the first month; hey, we’ve got a long way to go.’

“Obviously, we can’t say that. I feel like guys are grinding a little bit more early on. I think it shows in our at-bats. I think it shows in our approach on the mound.”

As they open a 10-game homestand Thursday against the Brewers, the Cubs’ starting rotation is 11-3 with a 2.65 ERA. After a shaky first week, the bullpen has generally performed well. The fielding is among the best in baseball.

And the lineup just scored seven runs each of the last two nights against a pitching staff that hadn’t allowed more than four in a game — after an unexpected layoff.

“There have been so many things going on this whole year I think that nothing’s going to faze us now,” said Kyle Hendricks (3-1), who pitched six strong innings to win Wednesday.

Talk about a push-button operation for a first-year manager.

“Yeah, you haven’t sat in this seat,” manager David Ross said with a laugh when it was suggested he had nothing to complain about 15 games into the season.

“We’ve got good players. That’s what it is,” he said. “There’s nothing to complain about because the talent’s there. The character’s there. The commitment, the focus, the energy, the work — all those things that seem easy to bring every day; it’s not. It’s not easy. Especially in this environment we’re dealing with now.

“It’s all about the players, man.”

Maybe adding a designated hitter is a difference maker for a National League team that had the luxury of good developing and platoon hitters on its bench.

“I can’t really remember a time playing for this team where it was really like that, where 1 through 9 there was damage all through the order,” former MVP Kris Bryant said. “I think it shows in our record and the baseball that we’re playing right now, too.”

“It’s everything right now. Everything’s clicking.”

Maybe some of it’s the right new manager at the right time, like the front office has suggested? Maybe some of it’s the growth of Rizzo as a leader and tone-setter in the clubhouse, like Ross suggested?

Maybe it’s the kind of urgency and focus the front office talked about last year — but that a 60-game sprint through a COVID-19 minefield demands.

“If I had to compare the mindset this season, it’s been more of a playoff scenario,” Lester said, “where every day you show up you pay a little bit more attention to detail, a little bit more attention to that scouting report and what you’re trying to do.

“You don’t have that window to make a mistake. The big thing for us is energy, and I think when we [bring] that, when we show up with energy every day, you see a good product on the field, whether we win or lose.”

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Cubs quick takes: Cubs head home with 12-3 start after sweep in Cleveland

Cubs quick takes: Cubs head home with 12-3 start after sweep in Cleveland

Whether Zach Plesac's and Mike Clevinger's Mistake by the Lake deflated hot-starting Cleveland, the Cubs looked anything but deflated during a decisive two-game sweep of the team that looked like the best team on their schedule so far.

After Clevinger was scratched from Tuesday's start because he and Plesac violated COVID-19 protocols and left their hotel over the weekend, the Cubs scored seven runs in each game against a team that hadn't allowed more than four in a game until then.

"The guys are as locked in as I've ever seen," said Wednesday's winning pitcher, Kyle Hendricks, of a lineup that produced home runs by Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant, and another two RBIs by Jason Heyward during the 7-2 win.

Heyward drove in five runs during the sweep, in which the Cubs outscored Cleveland 15-3.

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Quick takes from the victory that sends the Cubs home with the best record in the majors: 

Happy return

Starters Jon Lester and Hendricks pitched with a combined seven extra days of rest, but both were impressive in earning victories in the sweep.

"The starters keep doing their thing," manager David Ross said, adding of Hendricks' mix and location: "It's a clinic."

One night after Lester allowed one run in six innings, Hendricks (3-1) made his first start in Cleveland since Game 7 of the 2016 World Series and matched Lester’s performance.

Hendricks, the Cubs’ Opening Day starter, who struck out five without a walk, lowered his ERA to 3.08 through four starts.

The only run he allowed came after Cleveland successfully challenged what appeared to be a diving catch by Bryant in left field for the second out of the fifth. Instead, it was ruled a catch, loading the bases, and José Ramírez followed with a sacrifice fly.

"I thought I caught it," Bryant said. "Apparently, I didn't. Whatever."

Who needs the DH?

Not the Cubs, apparently.

Ross likes using his second, good-hitting catcher, Victor Caratini, as the designated hitter, when Willson Contreras starts behind the plate.

So what if something happens to the starting catcher if No. 2 is the DH? We found out in the fifth, when Contreras got ticked off at a check-swing, third-strike call, argued, slammed his bat and got ejected.

Rather than go to the third catcher, Josh Phegley, Ross instead surrendered the DH and put Caratini behind the plate, with the Cubs leading 4-0 at the time.

Ross used his bench to pinch hit for Contreras’ spot in the order the rest of the game.

Schwarb-less

Left fielder Kyle Schwarber was scratched from the lineup because of lingering soreness in his right knee after being hit by a pitch in Tuesday night’s sixth inning.

Schwarber, whose status is considered day-to-day, was replaced in left by Bryant (moving from third base) and in the lineup David Bote (playing third). Schwarber pinch hit in the ninth inning, striking out.

Snare scare

Bryant appeared to jam his left wrist making a diving attempt at César Hernández’ shallow fly to left in the fifth. He grimaced in pain on the play, and it appeared to bother him the rest of the inning.

By the top of the sixth he seemed fine, driving a deep home run to left field. He was replaced in the ninth, but for defense, Ross said.

"I'm OK," Bryant said after the game. "It doesn't feel great."

Where they stand

The Cubs reached the quarter mark of their 60-game schedule at 12-3, the best record in the majors.

On deck

The Cubs return home to open a four-game series Thursday night against the Brewers.

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