Cubs

Chili Davis after being ousted by Cubs: 'There were multiple players in there I didn't connect with'

Chili Davis after being ousted by Cubs: 'There were multiple players in there I didn't connect with'

Chili Davis didn't go all scorched earth on the Cubs in a recent interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, but he had quite a lot to say after being ousted by the organization after just one year as the hitting coach.

The Cubs made Davis the scapegoat for an offense that faded down the stretch, struggling for the entire second half and scoring just 1 run in three of the final four games of the year.

When he was hired a year ago, Theo Epstein and Joe Maddon talked up Davis' impressive resume that includes a 19-year MLB career, two separate stints as a successful hitting coach with the Oakland A's and Boston Red Sox and a philosophy that they hoped would withstand the test of time in the game today, preaching more contact and using the opposite field.

Throughout the 2018 season, Maddon often commended Davis for his ability to communicate with players, particularly in the area of mental approach to each at-bat.

Now that the dust has settled a bit on his firing, Davis felt he had some issues getting through to some Cubs players.

I learned a lot this year," Davis told the Sun-Times' Gordon Wittenmyer. "I learned that the next situation I get in, before I say yes to a job, I need to make sure I know the personnel I'll be dealing with in the clubhouse. I hope the next guy connects better with the players, because I felt that there were multiple players there I didn't connect with. It wasn't that I didn't try; it just wasn't there.

The Cubs hired Anthony Iapoce as their new hitting coach Monday afternoon. Iapoce comes over from the Rangers and has a direct link to John Mallee, who was the Cubs' hitting coach for three seasons before being let go when Davis became available last winter. 

Iapoce also spent three seasons with the Cubs as a special assistant to the GM, overseeing the organization's minor-league hitting from 2013-15. Presumably, he found a way over those years to connect with the Cubs' top young hitting prospects — guys like Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber and Willson Contreras that are now leading the big-league lineup.

Hopefully he has better success at this than I did," Davis said of Iapoce in the Sun-Times article. "But regardless of who's there, certain players there are going to have to make some adjustments because the game's changed and pitchers are pitching them differently. They're not pitching to launch angles and fly balls and all that anymore. They're pitching away from that. They're going to have to make that adjustment whether I'm there or not.

Davis had a whole lot more to say on the matter and I encourage you to read the full interview with Wittenmyer over at ChicagoSunTimes.com.

A healthy Bryant very likely could've changed everything for Davis and the Cubs' 2018 lineup. Contreras hitting like he's capable of in the second half would've made a huge difference, as well.

But the end result is a finish to the 2018 campaign that was viewed universally as a disappointment — particularly in the offensive department — and the Cubs are left with their third different hitting coach in three seasons.

Tom Ricketts addresses media for first time since dad's emails were exposed

tom_ricketts.jpg
NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

Tom Ricketts addresses media for first time since dad's emails were exposed

Cubs chairman and team owner Tom Ricketts addressed the media Monday for the first time since his father's emails were leaked.

“We know he’s not that guy. It’s easy to take some emails and try to paint a picture." Ricketts said. "We know who my father is. We know he’s not the person that some of the articles want to make him to be."

Joe Ricketts had several private emails published by Splinter that contain racially insensitive language, particularly directed towards Muslims. He also forwarded jokes with racial slurs in the punchlines.

Both Tom and Joe released statements shortly after the emails were leaked. The former also said that he apologized to Cubs players in his annual meeting with the team for the distraction. 

“Those aren’t the values my family was raised with," Ricketts said. "I was surprised to see the emails…I’ve never heard my father say anything that was even remotely racist. Just wasn’t our family values. 

“I love him, he’s my dad, he’s a great man.”

Tom Ricketts and the leaders of several Muslim groups (CAIR-Chicago, the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago – CIOGC and the IL Muslim Civic Coalition) met following the publication of Ricketts' emails. In a joint statement Monday, the Cubs and CAIR-Chicago announced steps toward combating Islamophobia, bigotry and racism.

According to a press release, the meeting concluded with a discussion on a proposed plan of action. The plan includes:

The participation of notable Muslims in Cubs and Wrigley Field traditions, anti-hate PSAs featuring Cubs personnel helping to raise public awareness against Islamophobia, as well as Cubs support for three community initiatives: anti-bullying efforts, diversity and inclusion training and scholarships. The details of these and other initiatives, as well as the implementation timeline, will be discussed in subsequent meetings in the coming weeks.

“We are encouraged the Cubs, led by Tom Ricketts, responded swiftly and genuinely in partnering with us to turn the situation around," CAIR-Chicago Executive Director Ahmed Rehab said. 

"As a result, the Cubs are taking a significant step forward and will use the power of their brand and voice to fight Islamophobia, racism and bigotry.

"We hope other franchises follow their lead. This active commitment to our shared values of Everybody In is not only great for the brand, but for all fans, for the affected communities and for our city as a whole.” 

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Cubs easily on your device.

Ricketts on new Cubs TV network: "Having our own channel is the next step in becoming the best organization in the world"

rickettspresser.jpg
@NBCSCubs

Ricketts on new Cubs TV network: "Having our own channel is the next step in becoming the best organization in the world"

Cubs owner Tom Ricketts addressed the media this morning, covering a wide-variety of topics, including his father's racist emails, budgetary restrictions, and the Cubs' new TV deal. 

In regards to the deal, Ricketts first talked about the partnership with Sinclair:

Sinclair is going to be a great partner. We've been talking about them for several years. They have a lot of experience in the space. They have a lot of TV stations, they have a lot of experience. It's a strategic iniative that fits well with them and that deal will be a great deal for our fans, and a great deal for the organization. I think it's completely unrelated to what happens on my dad's front and it's completely unrelated to anything that happens on the political front. 

Later on, he was pressed on whether Cubs fans will have to pay more for the new Marquee Network, due in 2020: 

I think there's a lot of misperception in the market. First of all, there is this whole concept of free television - if you get your free channels through cable or through a dish, you're paying for them. Those aren't free. I think people have a misperception there. With respect to having a second channel, it's really about serving the fans. By separating ourselves, we can do right by the organization and we can do right by the fans - and that is putting all the games in one place, which is probably the single biggest complaint I get from people. To put all the games in one place, do all the shoulder programming, the gameday programming the way we want to do it. We have a production team that can go look at players personal lives in depth and bring those players off the page. We can just a lot more. Frankly, it's what the biggest and some other teams in our sport have done, and if there's one thing this organization did historically not well, it's handle the big picture and big problems very well. This is a big thing. Having our own channel is the next step in becomming the best organization in the world. 

You can watch the entire press conference in the embedded tweet below: 

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Cubs easily on your device.