White Sox

The Cubs and Theo Epstein hit reboot on Opening Day

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The Cubs and Theo Epstein hit reboot on Opening Day

Theo Epstein made up his mind months ago, knowing that it was time to leave the Boston Red Sox. So maybe some emotions hit him on Opening Day. But the Cubs hired him to take a sledgehammer to the organizations sentimentality.

I think the best time for reflection is the morning after sipping champagne when you win a World Series, Epstein said Thursday. Until then, you just keep plotting forward (and) try not to look back too much.

For better or worse, this franchise has been all about looking back, celebrity traditions like Bill Murray throwing out the first pitch and singing the seventh-inning stretch.

That Epstein can talk champagne with a straight face after taking over a team that hasnt won a championship in more than a century and has finished in fifth place the past two seasons shows how big everyones thinking.

The fans were in such a good mood that they didnt even boo Alfonso Soriano during player introductions. The president of baseball operations took the ivy turning green this early as a good omen.

That morning, the back page of the Sun-Times showed Epstein striding across Lake Michigan, with the Chicago skyline as the backdrop.

Well, there was the photo of him walking on water, chairman Tom Ricketts said. You could call that expectations, but I think hes up for it.

There are game-changers off in the distance that could transform the Cubs into the Evil Empire of the Midwest.

But the new televisions deals are a few years away, and Ricketts described the Wrigley Field renovation plans as just having conversations, not the final-stage negotiation floated the other day by Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Epstein knows what the upgrades at Fenway Park did for the Red Sox, but hes not focused on fixing Wrigley Field, and will be glad when the spotlight hits those who actually win or lose the games every night.

(Fans) look at me symbolically as a new direction, but its not me, Epstein said. There are dozens and dozens and dozens of people the players first and foremost working extremely hard to try to push this organization forward. It starts with Tom and the whole Ricketts family, a very hard-working front office, a new manager and major-league coaching staff.

(Its) our scouts and player development people. So its hard to sit there and put all those people on the back page of the sports. But they really should, because Im one small person in a very big machine thats hopefully going to get this thing right over time.

Near the end of a media scrum that surrounded Epstein, someone asked what it would be like to raise a banner here on Opening Day. No one snickered or rolled their eyes. Whatever happens this year, the Cubs have bought some credibility.

Theres no better feeling than being able to raise a banner and seeing the effect it has on just millions of people, Epstein said, what it means to them and their families and how they share it generationally. (To) sit back and watch that happen and know that you played a really small part in it, its a very rewarding, special feeling.

It keeps you driving forward. (There) are hundreds of people in this organization working hard to get to that day.

White Sox Talk Podcast: The Jose Abreu appreciation podcast

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: The Jose Abreu appreciation podcast

José Abreu is having a special kind of season, and it's rubbing off on the White Sox young core of hitters.

Chuck Garfien and Chris Kamka break it all down from Detroit.

They talk about Abreu's work ethic and where it comes from (2:10), if his words from late August helped lead to this hot September for Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncada and Eloy Jimenez (8:15), Abreu's quest to be the first White Sox player to ever lead the majors in RBIs (12:30), Anderson's push for the AL batting title (15:30), is anyone hotter at the plate right now than Moncada? (18:20), Jimenez taking his game to a whole other level (22:00), and why we can't stop talking about the 1899 Cleveland Spiders, the worst MLB team in history (22:30).

Listen here or in the embedded player below. 

White Sox Talk Podcast

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Bears in must-win game vs. Redskins after NFC North dominates Week 3

Bears in must-win game vs. Redskins after NFC North dominates Week 3

Rarely is a Week 3 game described as a must-win, but in the case of the Chicago Bears' Monday night contest against the Washington Redskins, it may just be. 

Chicago's win last Sunday over the Broncos was a critical victory that evened their record at 1-1, and while a .500 start after two games suggests a playoff berth is still a very realistic possibility, the early-season returns from the rest of the NFC North have turned up the heat.

Week 3 was dominated by the division. The Packers, Vikings and Lions all won their games in impressive fashion. Detroit was especially terrific in their win over the Eagles, who were favored entering the week. 

Green Bay's victory over Denver moves them to a perfect 3-0 to start the year, while the Lions also remain undefeated at 2-0-1. The Vikings improved to 2-1 with their win over the Raiders and will be Chicago's next opponent in Week 4.

If the Bears lose Monday night, they'll fall to 1-2 and last place in the NFC North. That, coupled with a divisional game next Sunday, is a potential doomsday scenario if Chicago goes 0-2 over that span. They'll be 1-3 and left clawing for a wildcard over the final 12 games, especially if the Packers upend a banged-up Eagles squad Thursday night.

Obviously, a win over the Redskins changes that outlook. They'll return to Soldier Field with confidence and momentum against the Vikings; a sweep improves their record 3-1 and still very much neck-and-neck with the Packers.

As crazy as it may seem, Chicago needs a win Monday night in the worst way. If they come up short, the season could quickly come apart at the seams.