Cubs

David Ross and Anthony Rizzo react to Astros cheating scandal, subsequent fallout

David Ross and Anthony Rizzo react to Astros cheating scandal, subsequent fallout

The Astros sign-stealing scandal has rocked the baseball community near and far. Monday, MLB handed Houston severe penalties for illegally stealing signs during the 2017 season. Those penalties include one-year suspensions for Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch — both of whom were subsequently fired from their positions.

The connection extends out of Houston; the Red Sox (Alex Cora) and Mets (Carlos Beltran) also parted ways with their managers this week in wake of MLB’s thorough investigation. Cora was Houston’s bench coach in 2017 and the mastermind of the scheme, according to The Athletic. Beltran played a key role in devising the scheme.

Cora, who won the World Series with Boston as a rookie manager in 2018, has additional penalties coming. Beltran, hired by the Mets in November, lost his job before making his managerial debut.

Like the Mets, the Cubs hired a first-year manager this offseason in former catcher David Ross. At a Cubs charity event on Thursday, Ross discussed the scandal and its fallout.

On scandal and subsequent punishment

"It is disappointing,” Ross said. “You gotta applaud Major League Baseball for doing their due diligence and upholding the integrity of the game — super important for our fans, for our players, for our coaches. I'm glad they did their homework and made some of the decisions they made."

On if he’s surprised any players weren’t punished

"I think lines get blurred when you talk about who's at fault and it can go all the way down,” he said. “Those things are difficult decisions and I don't have enough information — I wasn't a part of the emails and all the interviews that the MLB had to do, so it'd be tough to comment on exactly who’s at fault and what area and pointing that blame.

“Because in a team sport, there's gotta be somebody at the top that takes the blame. I think Major League Baseball has done a good job of defining that."

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Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo also discussed the scandal Thursday. While he admitted he’s not entirely versed on the topic, he voiced his support for commissioner Rob Manfred.

“Obviously, Major League Baseball did a huge, monster investigation and they decided what they thought was best. I’m sure a lot of decisions and time went into that, so we support them with the consequences they’ve made,” Rizzo said. “It’s something that hopefully gets nixed fast. There’s in-game stuff that’s part of the game, but some of the other stuff seems to take it too far. The commissioner, I think, did a good job handling it."

On if teams cheat against the Cubs

“100 percent. I don’t know if to that extent. I think in-game stuff — I think everyone will say this as well — getting the edge in the game is totally different on the field,” he said. “Some of the video stuff I’ve heard — I don’t know if it’s true, obviously it is with the penalties — that I think takes it a little too far.

“MLB’s done a good job the last few years to have guys in the clubhouse and all-around monitoring it. To be doing it still is not easy, and it’s blatantly going out of the way.

Rizzo added opponents sometimes make sounds as decoys to make teams believe their signs are being stolen. 

Regarding whether the Cubs follow the rules

“I think it’s 100 percent safe to say that. Yeah, no doubt,” Rizzo said. “That’s for sure on the record.”

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How Cubs stack up, according to WAR, from 2015-19

How Cubs stack up, according to WAR, from 2015-19

The Cubs made the playoffs four times in five seasons under Joe Maddon, receiving contributions across the diamond from All-Stars and role players alike.

Some players, of course, had bigger impacts for Maddon's Cubs, even in smaller sample sizes. Jesse Chavez and Cole Hamels weren't Cubs for long, but the two 2018 trade deadline pickups helped the North Siders reach the postseason for a fourth straight year.

These are the top 25 players by WAR (wins above replacement) from the Maddon era, according to Baseball Reference.

Top 25 Cubs, according to WAR, from 2015-19

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How Ian Happ promotes mental health and other things to know about Cubs outfielder

How Ian Happ promotes mental health and other things to know about Cubs outfielder

It's kind of hard to believe 2020 is only Ian Happ's fourth season in the big leagues. The 25-year-old burst onto the scene with 24 home runs in 2017, and since has been through trials and tribulations, getting demoted to the minor leagues in 2019.

Whenever the 2020 season kicks off, Happ is in line for the starting center field job. Until then, here's a few things to know about him.

1. Happ attended University of Cincinnati from 2012-15, where he studied finance. He was a star on the field (2015 American Athletic Conference Player of the Year) and an exemplary student in the classroom (3.68 GPA, 2015 Academic All-American).

2. Happ is an avid golfer and is a 2 handicap, according to Golf Digest. He competed in the Straight Down Fall Classic in San Luis Obispo, Calif., the last two Novembers.

3. Happ serves as an honorary ambassador for First Tee Greater Chicago, which strives to introduce the game of golf to young people. The organization raised $23,000 at a January fundraiser Happ participated in.

4. In 2019, Happ and artist Patrick Vale started “Through My Eyes” — a three-piece artwork series capturing Wrigley Field from different perspectives. Proceeds go to the Happ Family Charitable Fund, which promotes mental health and wellness.

Happ lost his father, Keith, to brain cancer in 2015.

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