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Cubs staying positive as losses mount

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Cubs staying positive as losses mount

Though the expectations surrounding the Cubs heading into 2012 were low, a 3-11 start is hardly how anybody pictured things playing out.

Dale Sveum's squad is in the midst of a six-game losing streak that came on the heels of back-to-back big wins against the Brewers and Cardinals late last week.

"We're losing ballgames, but we're not losing because of effort and we're not losing because of preparation," Sveum said. "The guys are busting their butts. As a coaching staff, the one thing that is noticed is us. If we're hanging our heads and we're losing our enthusiasm, then the whole team sees that and starts following suit sometimes. It's very important for us to be upbeat all the time and understand that these guys are busting their butts every day and we're going to get out of this.

"The guys have been very upbeat. As a clubhouse, they've been great. It's just a matter of putting some wins together."

Chris Volstad took the hill to try to stop the bleeding Friday, but his string of bad luck continued. The 6-foot-8 righty has not won a game in his last 14 starts dating back to 2011 and the Cubs have not won a game as a team since last Friday.

"It's a little frustrating, but guys aren't getting down on themselves," Volstad said. Everyone is coming in every day with a positive attitude to start the day off. We're not a team that is ever going to get down on ourselves or quit or back down from anybody. Everyone is positive. We know the kind of talent we have, we just haven't really shown it yet."

First baseman Bryan LaHair knows a thing or two about battling adversity and echoed his teammate's thoughts.

"We're the kind of team that's going to continue to play hard and fight," said LaHair, a career minor-leaguer that is getting his first shot to start in the majors this season.

LaHair was the only Cub to collect two hits Friday, but the team hit the ball hard all afternoon and just came up empty more often than not.

"I don't know if you ever get down when you're swinging the bat good and you're not getting anything for it," Sveum said. "You know you're swinging the bat good and you're having good at-bats and putting a good swing on the ball.

"I think it's more important that they understand once the weather warms up or you're hitting somewhere else -- in better hitters parks than what we've been dealing with -- a lot of those things will turn out for the better."

The Cubs send Paul Maholm to the mound Saturday in an effort to stop the losing streak.

ICYMI: Bears clinch NFC North, Zach LaVine suffers ankle injury, Crawford suffers another concussion

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ICYMI: Bears clinch NFC North, Zach LaVine suffers ankle injury, Crawford suffers another concussion

The Bears clinched the NFC North on Sunday, the Bulls picked up a big comeback win despite missing an injured Zach LaVine and Corey Crawford was diagnosed with a concussion after exiting Sunday's game due to injury. Here's what you may have missed from Chicago sports over the weekend:

Bears

There was no comeback to be had for Aaron Rodgers and Co. this time around. The Bears took down the Packers 24-17, ending an eight-game home losing streak vs. Green Bay. The Bears clinched their first NFC North title since 2010 with the victory, which Jordan Howard successfully predicted in February.

Winning the division should be celebrated, but the Bears have a bigger goal in mind. And when it comes to putting Sunday's game into a larger perspective, is the Bears' division title the beginning of the end for the Packers, or the end of the beginning for the Bears? 

Off the field, Mitchell Trubisky made quite the appearance when he arrived at Soldier Field, rocking a sweet ugly Christmas sweater. On the field, though, Trubisky laid a blueprint for the Bears' playoff success.

In less positive news, Eddie Jackson suffered an ankle sprain after intercepting Aaron Rodgers in the fourth quarter. The throw was Rodgers' first interception in more than 400 attempts, but coming at the expense of Jackson's health is less-than ideal. The Bears will know more about Jackson's status in the next few days.

In more positive news, the Bears' resiliency was on full-display Sunday. After botching a fake-punt (which led to the Packers tying the score at 14-all), the Bears bounced back and outscored Green Bay 10-7 the rest of the game.

Also, Khalil Mack sacked Aaron Rodgers with his back, while Charles Leno Jr. proposed to his girlfriend after the game. Sunday was quite an eventful day at Soldier Field.

On the latest Under Center Podcast, Lance Briggs, Alex Brown, Matt Forte and Laurence Holmes break down the Bears' win and look ahead to the playoffs.

Bulls

Thursday night, ESPN reported that the Bulls plan to drop forward and Chicago-native Jabari Parker from their rotation. And true to the report, Parker played just four minutes Thursday against the Magic and zero minutes Saturday against the Spurs.

On the latest Bulls Talk Podcast, Mark Schanowski, Kendall Gill, and David Watson discuss Jabari Parker’s removal from the rotation and the impact it has now and in the offseason.

So, what's next for Parker and the Bulls? The team is reportedly engaging in trade talks surrounding Parker; here are three trades that could make sense from the Bulls' perspective.

Without Parker, the Bulls picked up an impressive comeback win in San Antonio. Kris Dunn and Lauri Markkanen showed the potential of the Bulls' young core, though they were without LaVine.

The Bulls' lead scoring suffered an ankle injury and is out through Monday's game against the Thunder, at least. Dunn will look to build off his late-game heroics from Saturday on Monday against Oklahoma City.

Meeting Michael Jordan for the first time was "godly" for a 16-year-old LeBron James, while Joakim Noah said he was "too lit" to play in New York for the Knicks.

Blackhawks

The Blackhawks lost both of their games this weekend, though they received far worse news: Corey Crawford suffered a concussion after hitting his head in a collision in the crease Sunday. He left the game in the first period and ultimately did not return.

Defenseman Jan Rutta cleared waivers and was assigned to the Rockford Icehogs of the AHL. Injured defenseman Brandon Davidson is close to returning from a knee injury, but the team has a logjam on defense that makes one wonder where Davidson will fit in.

A Blackhawks fan successfully proposed to his girlfriend Friday at the Blackhawks/Jets game, a night where the team's mascot was reportedly attacked.

Sunday, a reported surfaced that said Joel Quennville will become the Flyers' head coach. Both Quenneville and the Flyers denied the report, however.

Is Dylan Strone key to the Blackhawks' success? David Kaplan and Co. discussed that and more on the latest SportsTalk Live Podcast.

Cubs 

NBC Sports Chicago's Cubs beat writer Tony Andracki offered his seven takeaways from last week's Winter Meetings. Also, Andracki, Kaplan and Luke Stuckmeyer recap what they learned about the Cubs following the meetings on the latest Cubs Talk Podcast.

The Cubs will also reportedly send a scout to watch former-Blue Jays shortstop Troy Tulowitzki's workout.

White Sox

The White Sox reportedly will meet with Manny Machado this coming week, as will the Yankees. Which team has the best sales pitch for the All-Star infielder?

In non-Bryce Harper/Machado news, the White Sox reportedly signed catcher James McCann and officially acquired first baseman Yonder Alonso from the Indians. Alonso is Machado's brother-in-law, interestingly enough.

The White Sox will likely shut down top prospect Eloy Jimenez until Spring Training due to a quad injury.

Watch: Bears celebrate beating Packers, winning the NFC North at "Club Dub"

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USA TODAY

Watch: Bears celebrate beating Packers, winning the NFC North at "Club Dub"

Celebrations were in order for the Bears following their 24-17 victory over the Packers on Sunday. Not only did the win clinch the NFC North championship for the Bears, but it also essentially squashed any playoff hopes held by the Packers.

As they do after every win, the Bears celebrated at "Club Dub" (located in their locker room) after the game. Based on a video posted on the team's official Twitter account, the team sure knows how to win and have fun doing so. Take a look:

It's lit, as quarterback Mitchell Trubisky would say. NBC Sports Chicago's Bears beat writer J. J. Stankevitz offered a reaction likely shared by most Bears fans.

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