Cubs

Bucket list unfulfilled: Unlucky Cubs fan travels from Down Under, welcomed by Chiberia in April

Bucket list unfulfilled: Unlucky Cubs fan travels from Down Under, welcomed by Chiberia in April

Thinking about how much these postponed baseball games have ruined your past two days? It could be worse, Cubs fans.

Meet Lincoln Hansen — Australia’s biggest Cubs fan and, well, quite possibly the unluckiest man in the world. 

Hansen hopped on that 25-plus hour flight from his native Gold Coast, Queensland area in hopes of seeing some North Side baseball that he’s been itching for for the past 16 years.

Hansen had his first Wrigley experience in July 2002, when he made the trip across the pond to play in a junior baseball tournament with the Champaign Flyers and visited the Friendly Confines with some teammates. 

Why a Cubs game rather than a White Sox game? 

“The guys who brought me here were all White Sox fans,” he explained. “The Sox must’ve been on the road that weekend, but thank God they brought me here cause now I’m a Cubs fan for life.”

Upon seeing the red brick, green ivy and slugging Sammy Sosa — the usual hero in his old, beloved EA Sports Triple Play Baseball game — in person for the first time , he was hooked.

A three-city trip — which he gifted to himself for turning 30 this year — started in Vancouver and included baseball-filled days in both Chicago and Toronto. It’s colder in Chicago than it was in Vancouver, Hansen said. 

Take that Canada!

He had tickets for an April 16 matchup versus the Braves — the original matchup he saw in 2002— and for the April 17 game against the always-contentious division rival Cardinals. Hansen was excited to have the opportunity to witness Lester take the mound and to see his favorite player, Anthony Rizzo, have his first game back off the disabled list. 

But because of the brutal, Arctic conditions Chicago has been having even in mid-April — that have, yes, postponed already four Cubs games this season — those dreams were crushed. 

“It was a three-day stop over in Chicago to see two Cubs games, and I’m leaving with no Cubs games,” he said. 

But Old Man Winter doesn’t always disappoint. A perk of the coldest first half of a Chicago April since 1926, Hansen witnessed snow for the first time. With his baseball-less free time, he walked around Millenium Park and saw a snow-capped Bean. 

His trip also marks the first time he’s been back in Chicago since the Cubs 2016 World Series win. Hanson explained how there aren’t many baseball fans in Australia — he couldn’t even get his friends on the bandwagon — and would watch World Series evening games during his lunch time when they were aired, noting the 15-hour time difference.

Despite not seeing the Cubs take the field during his trip, just being in the area again is an experience in itself.

“It’s amazing to be back here 16 years later and see how it’s all changed. The vibe is totally different now than it was back then,” he said.  “Back then, the Cubbies were the perennial strugglers and no World Series success and now it’s totally turned around. They’ve got a good, young roster and I can see success for a few more years with the Cubs.”

And for that bucket list moment of coming back to a Cubs game?

“I can’t take it off yet”

We’ll see you soon at the corner of Clark and Addison, Lincoln.
 

Ken Rosenthal says there's ‘not a chance’ Cubs re-sign Nicholas Castellanos

Ken Rosenthal says there's ‘not a chance’ Cubs re-sign Nicholas Castellanos

With MLB’s Winter Meetings kicking off Monday, the chances of the Cubs re-signing free agent outfielder Nicholas Castellanos aren’t looking great.

According to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal (subscription required), there’s “not a chance, at least for the moment,” the two sides reunite this offseason. Rosenthal cited how the Cubs are telling representatives of even low-budget free agents the organization needs to clear payroll space before entering serious negotiations.

The Cubs’ 2020 luxury tax payroll is projected to be $214 million (per Roster Resource), over MLB’s $208 million threshold. Should their payroll exceed $208 million, the Cubs will be penalized for their overages for a second straight season. Thus, the organization is looking to get under the threshold this offseason, which signing Castellanos would complicate.

Rosenthal’s report brings back memories of last offseason; the Cubs were handcuffed by a self-imposed budget due to their payroll being right around the luxury tax threshold. They were economic in their spending, adding low-cost free agents Daniel Descalso, Tony Barnette, Brad Brach, Xavier Cedeno and Kendall Graveman. Whether it be due to injury, ineffectiveness or some combination of the two, those players had minimal-to-no impacts on the 2019 Cubs.

Castellanos, on the other hand, was an integral piece of the Cubs last season after they acquired him from the Tigers at the trade deadline. The 27-year-old slashed .321/.356/.646, hitting 16 home runs and 21 doubles in 51 games. That performance improved Castellanos' value entering free agency, and multiple teams are reportedly pursuing him — including the Cubs.

Could the Cubs shed enough salary to open space for Castellanos on the payroll? Sure, but they’re looking to upgrade their second base, center field and high-leverage relief production. As great as Castellanos was with the Cubs, they ultimately may not have the payroll space to bring him back.

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Kyle Schwarber tops off big 2019 by marrying longtime girlfriend Paige Hartman

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USA TODAY

Kyle Schwarber tops off big 2019 by marrying longtime girlfriend Paige Hartman

2019 has been a momentous year for Kyle Schwarber.

On the diamond, Schwarber had a career season, posting career highs in home runs (38) and RBIs (92). Something clicked for him offensively post-All-Star break, as he slashed .280/.366/.631 while hitting 20 homers.

Schwarber topped that off in a big way Saturday, marrying longtime girlfriend and highschool sweetheart Paige Hartman. Take a look at some visuals from the event:

Here's to a lifetime of happiness for the couple!

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