Cubs

Joe Maddon on MLB's absurd home run rate: 'The wind’s being broken here. It’s really weird'

Joe Maddon on MLB's absurd home run rate: 'The wind’s being broken here. It’s really weird'

Cubs manager Joe Maddon usually isn’t one for conspiracy theories, but even he’s wondering what’s going on. MLB teams are hitting home runs at an absurd rate, including the Cubs, who are hitting them at a historic rate for the franchise’s standards.

Entering Saturday, here’s where MLB teams stand in average home run rate and total home runs in 2019 compared to recent seasons:

2017: 1.26/game, 6,105 total
2018: 1.15/game, 5,585 total
2019: 1.33/game, 2,009 total

While the MLB season is just over 30 percent finished, teams are on pace to hit a combined 6,483 long balls in 2019. This would absolutely obliterate the 2017 total, which, like the 1.33 home runs per game figure, would be an MLB record.

The Cubs are no exception to this home run wave. Including Saturday (game No. 50 of the season), the team has hit 80 home runs (and counting) in 2019. Only the 2000 Cubs (83) hit more home runs in their first 50 games in franchise history.

“We’re having home runs hit here into some firm breezes, which has not happened before,” Maddon said to reporters before Saturday’s game against the Reds. “That’s the thing that stands out to me. It’s been crazy.

“Even [Kyle] Schwarber’s home run, I know that was hit well, but dang, that wind was blowing pretty firmly across at that point.”

Schwarber absolutely crushed his home run yesterday, a 449-foot blast that needed little help getting into the bleachers. However, Maddon has a valid point regarding home runs being hit despite the wind. Entering Saturday, 54 total home runs have been hit at Wrigley Field this season, 29 of which have come with the wind blowing in.

By the eighth inning of Saturday’s game, the Cubs and Reds had hit a combined six home runs, one of which appeared to be a routine fly ball hit by Jason Heyward that wound up in the left field basket thanks to the wind. At the same time, Yasiel Puig hit one 416 feet onto Waveland Ave. that had a 109 mph exit velocity. The wind blowing out at Wrigley Field helps, but it isn’t everything.

MLB players have questioned time and time again if baseballs are “juiced,” including Cubs starting pitcher Jon Lester. And while Maddon didn’t flat out say that he thinks the baseballs are juiced, he notices a difference in how they're flying off the bat.

“I don’t know, I’m normally not into the subplot component of all of this and the conspiracy theorists, but I’m telling you right now, it’s jumping,” he said. “It’s absolutely jumping.

“Nobody is ever going to admit to it. The wind’s being broken here. It’s really weird.”

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Cubs post message on Wrigley Field marquee amid protests: 'End racism'

Cubs post message on Wrigley Field marquee amid protests: 'End racism'

Tuesday, the Cubs joined the chorus of voices speaking out against racial injustice in response to the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.

As Chicagoans hold peaceful protests outside Wrigley Field, the club posted a message of solidarity on the marquee:

RELATED: Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts calls black leaders 'you people,' apologizes

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Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts calls black leaders 'you people,' apologizes

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts calls black leaders 'you people,' apologizes

An Omaha pastor said he walked out of a meeting Monday when Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts used the phrase, “The problem I have with you people,” while addressing black community leaders.

The Ricketts family owns the Cubs, but Pete Ricketts stepped down from the Board of Directors when he took office.

“I chose my words poorly,” Ricketts said in a statement, “and apologized when it became apparent that I had caused offense.”

He also went on a local radio station, 95.7 The Boss, on Tuesday morning to apologize.

Pastor Jarrod Parker of St. Mark Baptist Church posted a live video to Facebook Monday evening, recounting the interaction. Black community leaders met with Ricketts, Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert and Police Chief Todd Schmaderer after several nights of protests.

James Scurlock, a 22-year-old black man, was fatally shot by a white bar owner over the weekend. No charges were filed. In a press conference, Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine called Scurlock’s death “senseless” but said the bar owner had justification for use of force.

“I put context to the issues surrounding the systematic racism that produced (Scurlock’s death),” Parker said of the meeting Monday “… I walked out on Governor Rickets as he called us, ‘you people.’ Make this go viral. He called black pastors and black leaders in Omaha ‘you people.’ And I walked out on him.

“That’s why this city is going to go up in flames Mrs. Mayor and Mr. Chief. You’re not listening, and you can’t listen because at the top of the state is a racist governor.”

Protests against social injustice and police brutality have spread across the country, in response to George Floyd’s death in police custody. The four officers involved were fired. One of them, Derek Chauvin, was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter after kneeling on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes.

“The Cubs condemn racism in all its forms and decry violence against members of the Black community,” the team said in a statement Tuesday. “Bias and discrimination have no place in our society. We support peaceful protests and pledge to channel our energies to rebuilding our city, especially the disenfranchised neighborhoods, as a way to build a stronger Chicago. By our example we hope to build bridges and elevate the issue of equality for all members of society.”

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