Cubs

Andre Dawson reportedly about to rejoin Cubs organization

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USA TODAY

Andre Dawson reportedly about to rejoin Cubs organization

Andre Dawson is about to get a welcome back to Sweet Home Chicago.

The Hall of Famer is reportedly about to rejoin the Cubs organization in some capacity, according to a Monday-morning tweet from USA Today's Bob Nightengale.

Nightengale didn't specify what Dawson's role will be, but the former Cubs outfielder has plenty of front-office and organizational experience after spending years with the Florida/Miami Marlins.

According to NBC Sports Chicago's Patrick Mooney, Dawson figures to have a role similar to that of Ryne Sandberg, his former teammate, as an ambassador of sorts and that Dawson is not coming back for a coaching job.

Dawson spent 21 seasons in the big leagues, six of those on the North Side. He was named to the National League All-Star team in five of those six seasons and won the NL MVP as a Cub in 1987.

Dawson went into the Hall of Fame in 2010, though he's sporting a Montreal Expos hat on his plaque after playing 11 seasons north of the border.

His longtime ties to the Marlins organization started when he spent the final two seasons of his career in Florida, appearing in 121 games for the Fish in 1995 and 1996. His relationship with that organization lasted until this year's ownership change.

There's no doubt that Dawson will be happily welcomed back to Chicago, both by the Cubs and by Cubs fans, no matter what his new position entails.

Perfecting the imperfect season: Why the Cubs are the team to beat

Perfecting the imperfect season: Why the Cubs are the team to beat

Tuesday night as the Cubs trounced the Arizona Diamondbacks, there was a collective sigh of relief amongst the fan faithful. It is easy to see a turnaround or say that the offense finally did what they were supposed to do. Beat a team without the stress of a close game, instead of clawing for two or three runs and hang everything on the bullpen.

But scoring at will is a luxury.

For most of my Philadelphia Phillies career, I was on a team that unsuccessfully chased the Atlanta Braves year in and year out. For a staggering 11 consecutive seasons (1995-2005) the Braves won the National League East (They also won three out of the previous four before 1995). Although they only were able to bring home one World Series championship during that stretch, they were a nightmare to play against. Time has made that statement less anecdotal as they had THREE Hall of Fame pitchers in their starting rotation. Digest that for a minute.

Now some of their teams ran away with the division, some won the title through end of season heroics, but there was no formula for why they were successful from year to year. They had years where different aspects of their game were better than other years. They won 90 games in 1995 and won the World Series. They won 100-plus games in five of those seasons and only went to the World Series once (lost to the Yankees that season.)

Nothing brings this home more than the 2002 and 2003 Braves. In 2002, they scored 4.4 runs per game, hit 164 home runs, hit .260 as a team. In 2003, they scored 5.6 runs per game, hit a monster 235 home runs, and hit .284 as a team. Guess what? They both won 101 games. In ’02 the team ERA was 3.13, in ’03 it was 4.10. Neither team won the World Series. 

The Cubs in 2018 have battled the ups and down of their offense and like with most teams, navigated injuries that undercut their best roster. These days, what stings the most is the loss of closer Brandon Morrow for this season, after losing Pedro Strop to an injury caused from running the bases. All of a sudden, the absence of anchors at the back end of their bullpen may sink the ship, or at least ground it. But no matter what we can conclude about the impact of this reality they face, they still have to play baseball for us to find out. 

The stress of not having a team that can bulldoze a team every night is a modern byproduct of high expectation. A time when the numbers are deep enough to show us the vulnerabilities. The fact that the Cubs have the best record in the NL with notable weaknesses is seen as an indicator of their frailty instead of their resilience. It is what can go wrong, instead of what can go right. But as I learned from trying to beat those Braves team, they were simply a great team, even when they weren’t pitching or hitting at their best. Great teams, find a way to win anyway. Maybe we should ask the Brewers, Cardinals, or Marlins what they think of playing the Cubs. Guaranteed that they know they have to bring their A+ game. 

The Cubs have won all season long with that up and down offense AND with an up and down starting rotation. That is hard to do, but to the Cubs credit, they have understood from the first game of the season that all they must do is outscore their opponent. It turns out, winning 2-1 counts as much as winning 11-3. They manage that stress because they still are in the sunlight of being World Champions... and they are a good ball club that expects to win.

We must keep in mind that at this level, teams are closely matched. Even when I played against some of those dominant teams from my era, they didn’t destroy us night in and night out, but they found opportunity and kicked the door down. Give them an extra out or an second life, and they buried you with it. They seized moments. This is how the Royals, the Cubs, the Astros were able to break dry spells. The years of the Yankee-like dynasties are over. Paying to win is not what it used to be, you must develop, you must find the slightest of advantages. 

And part of development is taking lumps, being imperfect, not closing every hole, but learning how to work with and around a hole. You learn to celebrate your strengths, and most importantly, learn how to find ways to win when it counts. 

The NLCS and the World Series are best of seven series. There is no rule saying that to be a real champion, you must obliterate your opponent every night and win the series four games to zero. Just like there is no rule saying that you need consistent offense that puts up seven runs a night to be a champion. (See World champion Giants of 2012 who only hit 103 home runs or the 2010 Giants who hit .257 as a team or .255 in 2014.)

Winning the series four games to three, therefore having a 4-3 record (winning percentage of .571) is a lower winning percentage than that Cubs have this season — .587. And that .571 earns you the crown. They could get no-hit for three games and win the other four games 3-2 and walk away with the trophy. Sure, it will not unfold exactly that way, but winning teams often make that math work for them.

As for the American League, yes, they have some forceful teams. The Astros, the Red Sox, the Yankees, the Indians. Wow. But you only have to beat one of them. In the American League, they will spend early October, beating each other up and leave one standing, battered and bruised. Then in the World Series, the first team to four games, wins. No one in the National League has to beat all four of those teams. No one has to even beat two of those teams. Just one.

Then it comes down to one series and anything is possible then.

It has been a long season for the Cubs. Lots of injuries, lots of surprises. But covering this team for 150-plus games, I cannot say I have seen any team they played against that is just simply and clearly better than the Cubs. Certainly not to the point that this opponent cannot be beaten…at all.  

Perfection and domination are overrated. Be an imperfect champion, then all of us, with all of our imperfections, can feel like champions too.

Crosstown Classic coverage returns to NBC Sports Chicago this weekend

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NBC Sports Chicago

Crosstown Classic coverage returns to NBC Sports Chicago this weekend

NBC Sports Chicago’s Crosstown coverage gets underway on Friday, September 21 LIVE from Guaranteed Rate Field starting at 2:30 PM CT;
Harrelson’s farewell broadcast to take place Sunday, September 23

Network to carry ALL THREE “Crosstown” games this weekend featuring expert coverage provided by Harrelson, Stone, Kasper, Deshaies, Guillen, Glanville,
Melton, DeJesus, Anderson, Kaplan, Garfien, Crull, Rahimi, Andracki & Duber!

Weekend coverage to include the addition of “4D Replay” technology, featuring 100 cameras in use from first base to third base for detailed, composite replay analysis!

Live streaming coverage of EVERY Crosstown telecast – including all Pre/Postgame Shows – 
to be made available to authenticated subscribers on NBCSportsChicago.com  and via the NBC Sports app!

NBCSportsChicago.com to deliver expanded Crosstown content throughout the weekend, including brand new Crosstown-focused Podcasts and much more! 

Social media highlights on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat to include live streaming segments, behind-the-scenes vids/pics,
plus - Cubs and White Sox fans can get interactive all weekend long by utilizing the hashtag #Crosstown

Chicago, IL (September 19, 2018) – NBC Sports Chicago – THE Home of the #AuthenticFan – is ready to deliver expanded, multi-platform coverage of the always-entertaining Chicago White Sox vs. Chicago Cubs “Crosstown Classic” series beginning this FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 21, as the White Sox host the Cubs at Guaranteed Rate Field.  In addition, Sunday’s telecast will mark the final broadcast call of legendary White Sox announcer Ken “Hawk” Harrelson.  Plus - EVERY Crosstown telecast on NBC Sports Chicago, including surrounding Pre/Postgame Live coverage, will be accessible live via NBCSportsChicago.com and the NBC Sports app to authenticated NBC Sports Chicago subscribers.  The live streaming service is currently available to customers of Comcast/Xfinity, DIRECTV, DISH Network, AT&T U-verse, Mediacom, RCN, WOW!, Time Warner Cable and Charter among numerous other carriers.  For a full list of carriers and more information about NBC Sports Chicago’s live streaming service of its Cubs & White Sox games, viewers are urged to visit the following link:http://www.nbcsports.com/chicago/live-faq.  

NBC Sports Chicago’s “Crosstown Classic” coverage gets underway this Friday, September 21 at 2:30 PM CT with an on-field, remote edition of Cubs Pregame Live presented by Fields Automotive Group featuring host David Kaplan (@thekapman), analysts David DeJesus (@David_DeJesus3), Doug Glanville (@dougglanville), Brian Anderson (@WWBAD32) & Bill Melton, along with Cubs reporter Kelly Crull (@KellyCrull) and White Sox reporter Chuck Garfien (@ChuckGarfien), who will all provide a complete series preview featuring interviews with players and coaches, fan interaction in and around the ballpark, and much more.  First pitch coverage of this “Cubs telecast” on NBC Sports Chicago begins at 3:00 PM featuring Len Kasper (@LenKasper) & Jim Deshaies (@JimDeshaies) with the game call.  Immediately following the game on Cubs Postgame Live presented by BlueCross BlueShield of Illinois, fans can look forward to a complete game recap/analysis, plus live postgame press conferences featuring Cubs manager Joe Maddon and White Sox manager Rick Renteria, player interviews from both clubhouses, and much more.  NOTE: Saturday’s game telecast on Sept. 22 will also be a “Cubs telecast” on NBC Sports Chicago with live coverage from Guaranteed Rate Field beginning at 5:30 PM featuring Ozzie Guillen (@OzzieGuillen) on Cubs Pre/Postgame Live (first pitch set for 6:00 PM).

Then, on Sunday, September 21, NBC Sports Chicago will carry the farewell game call of White Sox legendary broadcaster and likely future Hall of Famer Ken “Hawk” Harrelson. Harrelson will be joined in the booth by longtime partner Steve Stone (@stevestone) and a number of special guests stopping by the booth throughout the telecast.  Live coverage from Guaranteed Rate Field on Sunday gets underway with White Sox Pregame Live presented The Kowalis Family of Dealerships at 12:30 PM with host Leila Rahimi (@leilarahimi) featuring analysts Bill Melton, Brian Anderson, David DeJesus and Doug Glanville, along with White Sox Multi-Platform host/reporter Chuck Garfien and Cubs reporter Kelly Crull; first pitch coverage begins at 1:00 PM, which will be followed by Subaru White Sox Postgame Live immediately after each game.  Full weekend schedule details below (all times Central Time; schedule subject to change):

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 21
2:30 PM – Cubs Pregame Live presented by Fields Auto Group – Special on-site pregame show from Guaranteed Rate Field with a detailed series preview, player interviews, a showcase of surrounding ballpark festivities & much more. 
3:00 PM – CUBS at WHITE SOX (L) – “Cubs telecast” featuring Len Kasper & Jim Deshaies  
6:00 PM – Cubs Postgame Live presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois (time approx.) – Complete game recap/analysis, plus live postgame press conferences and player interviews.
9:00 PM – Cubs at White Sox (game replay on NBC Sports Chicago+)

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 22
5:30 PM – Cubs Pregame Live presented by Fields Auto Group – Special on-site pregame show from Guaranteed Rate Field with a recap of Game 1, a Game 2 preview, special guest interviews, feature stories, and much more.
6:00 PM – CUBS at WHITE SOX (L) – “Cubs telecast” featuring Len Kasper & Jim Deshaies  
9:00 PM – Cubs Postgame Live presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois (time approx.) – Complete game recap/analysis, plus live postgame press conferences and player interviews.
11:00 PM – White Sox at Cubs (game replay) 

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 23
12:30 PM – White Sox Pregame Live presented by The Kowalis Family of Dealerships – Special on-site pregame show from Guaranteed Rate Field featuring a discussion with Ken “Hawk” Harrelson, a recap of Games 1-2, a Game 3 preview, special guest interviews, feature stories, and much more.
1:00 PM – CUBS at WHITE SOX (L) – “White Sox telecast” featuring the farewell broadcast of White Sox legend Ken “Hawk” Harrelson, along analysis provided by Steve Stone  
4:00 PM – Subaru White Sox Postgame Live (time approx.) – Complete game recap/analysis, plus live postgame press conferences and player interviews.
8:00 PM (time approx., immediately following “Football Aftershow”) “Hawk” documentary – Encore airing of the acclaimed documentary on the life & career of White Sox broadcasting legend Ken “Hawk” Harrelson.

IMPORTANT IN-GAME COVERAGE NOTE:  For the first time ever in the Chicago market, NBC Sports Chicago’s coverage of the Cubs-Sox “Crosstown” series will be utilizing the advanced 4D Replay (4DReplay.com) technology. The 4D Replay technology utilizes 100 cameras installed from first base around to third base on the second level railing, taking a series of pictures of a play to provide a composite replay that can be shown and analyzed from the first base angle all around to the third base angle.  In addition, the 4D Replay technology can also analyze a player’s swing on a home run or a close play at the plate.  NBC Sports Chicago will also be showcasing 4D Replay for a pair of Cubs home game telecasts on Sept. 26 & 27 vs. Pittsburgh.

In addition to its live stream game coverage all weekend long, NBCSportsChicago.com will provide even more exclusive “Crosstown Classic” content including the following highlights:

•    “Crosstown” game coverage: White Sox digital reporter/producer Vinnie Duber (@VinnieDuber) and Cubs digital reporter/producer Tony Andracki (@TonyAndracki23) will provide full-blown game coverage throughout the weekend featuring interviews with players and coaches from both teams.
•    White Sox & Cubs PODCASTs (presented by Wintrust): Special Crosstown-specific podcasts featuring Chuck Garfien, Ryan McGuffey, and Chris Kamka (White Sox), along with David Kaplan and Tony Andracki (Cubs), will be rolled out this week on both the “WhiteSoxTalk” & CubsTalk” podcast homes.  All of NBC Sports Chicago’s podcasts can be downloaded at NBCSportsChicago.com/podcasts and fans can simply subscribe to the podcast of their choice via Apple Podcasts, Google Play or Stitcher.  The podcasts can be played on any mobile device, laptop, or desktop computer.
•    “The Rebuild”: Vinnie Duber will provide a two-part overview feature that takes a deep look at the Jose Quintana trade from the Sox to the Cubs that occurred in July of 2017, which focuses on performance of the prospects the White Sox received and Quintana’s overall performance since he joined the northsiders. In addition, Duber will provide a Sox-Cubs comparison piece, specifically looking at where the Sox rebuild is in relation to the Cubs rebuild before their World Series run. 

From a social media standpoint, fans can look forward to a multitude of Crosstown “Sights & Sounds” moments leading up to and throughout the weekend via Facebook Live (Facebook.com/NBCSChicago), Twitter (@NBCSCubs & @NBCSWhiteSox), Snapchat (‘NBCSChicago’), along with additional photos/quick video offerings from ‘NBCSChicago’ through Instagram and Instagram Live. Among the network’s social media highlights will include:

•    THURSDAY: “Crosstown Preview Show” at 5:00 PM on “The Rush” via Facebook Live (Facebook.com/NBCSChicago), along with a full recap of the first leg of the Crosstown series (held in May at Wrigley Field) on the network’s Facebook & Twitter portals.
•    FRIDAY: NBC Sports Chicago will roll out a “Who Did It Better?” series throughout the weekend which throws out a number of fun, comparative White Sox vs. Cubs topics from this season (i.e. Who’s a better pitcher?: Anthony Rizzo or Matt Davidson?).  Plus, fans can look forward to a Twitter (@NBCSChicago) live Periscope pregame segment featuring the network’s Cubs/White Sox talent and producers discussing the weekend’s keys to victory for each team. 
•    SATURDAY: Continued fan interactive coverage across all social platforms throughout the day. 
•    SUNDAY: In honor of “Hawk’s” final game in the White Sox broadcast booth, NBC Sports Chicago’s social handles will spotlight his most memorable Crosstown series moments/quotes. Plus, full final day interactive coverage on all social platforms, which will include a full recap of Games 1 & 2 prior to first pitch.
•    #Crosstown – Fans from both sides of town can interact with their comments leading up to and throughout the weekend on social via the hashtag - #Crosstown - plus, select tweets will also be retweeted via the network’s @NBCSCubs, @NBCSWhiteSox, and @NBCSChicago Twitter handles.