Cubs

Kyle Schwarber and Javy Baez could face off in the Home Run Derby

Kyle Schwarber and Javy Baez could face off in the Home Run Derby

It’s official.

For the first time since Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant in 2015, the Cubs will have representatives in the Home Run Derby.

The Cubs announced Kyle Schwarber and Javier Baez will participate in this year’s contest next Monday in Washington, D.C.

The two have shown special power throughout their young major-league careers that has made fans and players excited to see them take part.

Baez has hit a team-leading 18 home runs this year, giving him the seventh best total in the National League, while Schwarber trails with 17 homers of his own. Both are also on pace to notch career highs in 2018, topping the 30 (Schwarber) and 23 (Baez) they hit last season.

They will each attempt to be the first Cubs player to win the Home Run Derby since Sammy Sosa, who hit 26 home runs in 2000. Bryant and Rizzo had a tough time in 2015, the first year of the newer head-to-head format, when they were both eliminated in the first round.

In this year's opening round, the fifth-seeded Schwarber will face the Astros' fourth-seeded Alex Bregman, and the sixth-seeded Baez will square up against the Dodgers' Max Muncy, a three seed. The bracket also includes the Brewers' first-seeded Jesus Aguilar, the Nationals' second-seeded Bryce Harper, the Braves' seventh-seeded Freddie Freeman, and the Phillies' eighth-seeded Rhys Hoskins.

With the way the bracket is formatted, Schwarber and Baez could face each other in the final round.

The Home Run Derby is a chance for both the Cubs’ second baseman and leftfielder to showcase their talents on one of the most exciting stages in baseball. It’s an opportunity Schwarber has always wanted.

“It’s on the bucket list, being in the Home Run Derby,” Schwarber, who was not selected to the 2018 MLB All-Star Game, said. “… it’s definitely a thing that I want to do and at least try once.”

Some players in the past have said the Derby negatively affects hitters’ swings, but Cubs manager Joe Maddon isn’t worried about having his 25-year-old sluggers in the home run hitting event. In fact, he thinks it will be a good thing for their careers.

“I’m more worried about fatigue, but I also believe the benefit’s gonna be that they did it,” Maddon said. “I would never want to restrict ‘em from that and, like I said, at their age, it’s kind of perfect.”

The Cubs have been one of the best teams in the major leagues as of late, so having one of the team’s players win in this Monday’s competition would be even sweeter for the organization.

All-Star Game festivities come at a good time for the red-hot Baez, who has shined all season in Chicago with a team-leading 66 RBIs (second in the NL) and 95 hits. Those marks have earned him a starting spot in the All-Star Game at second base. He will try to bring the Home Run Derby title back into the hands of the National League after Aaron Judge’s 47-dinger win for the American League in 2017.

“A lot of people got the question mark on their mind how I’m going to do I guess,” Baez said. “It’s all about putting on a show and having fun. We’ll see what happens.”

Classic Cubs games we'd like to watch again during baseball's hiatus

Classic Cubs games we'd like to watch again during baseball's hiatus

Man, do we miss baseball. All we have for now are rebroadcasts of old games, but those can be a lot of fun to watch as well.

In the latest edition of the Cubs Talk Podcast, the Outside the Ivy guys — Danny Rocket, Luis Medina and Michael Cerami — discuss which old Cubs games they would like to watch again. We asked the members of our Cubs content team to tell us what past game is must-see (again) TV.

Gordon Wittenmyer — vs. Pirates, Sept. 24, 1984

Even three months after joining the Cubs in a trade from Cleveland, Rick Sutcliffe didn’t understand the historical significance of the playoff berth he was driving the Cubs toward in September of 1984.

As he walked to the bullpen near the stands at Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers Stadium for his final start of a Cy Young season, Sutcliffe saw a family of Cubs fans holding up a sign: “39 Years of Suffering is Enough.”

“I always used to find a kid to give my warmup ball to. And as I got done warming up, I brought the dad and kid down,” Sutcliffe recalled during a recent spring training. “And I said, ‘What does that sign mean?’ He said, ‘Well, we haven’t been to the playoffs in 39 years.’

“I wasn’t trying to be cocky or anything, but I said, ‘Here, hold onto this ball, because I’m telling you right now, after tonight that’s all going to change.’ “

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Talk about making good on a promise. Sutcliffe drove in the second run of the game with a two-out single in the second and pitched a complete game that Sept. 24 night to earn a 4-1 victory as the Cubs clinched their first playoff berth since 1945.

Sutcliffe, who struck out nine without a walk in a two-hit gem, picked off Joe Orsulak at first to end the sixth and then retired the final nine batters he faced. The only run he allowed scored on a grounder after a leadoff triple by Orsulak in the fourth.

History? Playoffs?

“Until that time, I didn’t know,” he said. “I wasn’t a real history guy.

“I came from Cleveland so we didn’t need to worry about playoffs.”

Tim Stebbins — vs. Mariners, July 31, 2016

If you watch this game with zero context, you'll think I'm crazy. The Mariners jumped out to a 6-0 lead after three innings, hitting three two-run homers off spot starter Brian Matusz — whom the Cubs signed to a minor league deal a month prior.

Trailing by three entering the ninth, the Cubs plated two runs off Steve Cishek to get within one. Down to their last strike, they knotted things at six on a Cishek wild pitch (emphasis on wild). A Jason Heyward double put the Cubs in business in the 12th, and after advancing to third on a flyout, Heyward scored the winning run on a Jon Lester walk-off bunt.

Yes, a Lester walk-off bunt. 

RELATED: All-time best Cubs players by jersey number

Before the exciting finish, Joe Maddon moved reliever Travis Wood (who already tossed 1 1/3 innings) to left field, and Wood made a catch against the ivy in the seventh that would've been tough for an actual outfielder. 

A Jon Lester walk-off and Travis Wood outfield appearance? This game was something else.

Nate Poppen — vs. Brewers, Sept. 12-13, 1998

The back-to-back walkoff wins against the Brewers Sept. 12-13, 1998 at Wrigley. Orlando Merced’s three-run bomb on Saturday capped a five-run bottom of the ninth to give the Cubs a 15-12 win. Then on Sunday, Mark Grace’s solo shot in the bottom of the 10th was the difference in an 11-10 victory. Fifteen-year-old me had no idea September baseball could actually mean something.

Lou Melgarejo — vs. Cardinals, April 22, 1980

The 16-12 win over the Cardinals on April 22, 1980. Barry Foote hit a solo homer in the bottom of the eighth to tie it at 12, and added a walk-off grand slam in the ninth as the Cubs erased a 12-6 deficit to win 16-12. By the way, Foote went 4-for-6 with 8 RBIs in the contest.

Jeff Nelson — vs. Mets, Aug. 7, 1984

I was lucky enough to attend the Aug. 7, 1984 doubleheader against the Mets at Wrigley. The Cubs scored six times in the fifth inning of the opener and went on to an 8-6 win. In the nightcap (or daycap, since Wrigley didn’t have any lights at this time), the Cubs scored five runs off Mets starter (and future Cub GM) Ed Lynch in an 8-4 victory.

The division lead was up to 3 1/2 games, and the Cubs never looked back en route to their first playoff appearance in 39 years.

Mike Piff — Sept. 28, 1998

Sept. 28, 1998. Game 163 at Wrigley between the Cubs and Giants. Michael Jordan, wearing a Sammy Sosa jersey, threw out the first pitch. Steve Trachsel threw 6 1/3 shutout innings, Gary Gaetti homered and Rod Beck got the save as the Cubs won 5-3 to advance to the playoffs.

RELATED: How Cubs’ Nico Hoerner is making an impact in Chicago during shutdown

Joe Collins — Sept. 27, 2003

Sept. 27, 2003. The Cubs swept a doubleheader from the Pirates, winning the opener 4-2 with Mark Prior getting his 18th win of the year. Then in the nightcap, a five-run second inning propelled them to a 7-2 win, clinching the NL Central. I went as a fan for both games, and immediately after the final out I went to work for CLTV gathering postgame sound. Fun times.

Lou Melgarejo — Oct. 1, 1932

Oct. 1, 1932. Game 3 of the World Series between the Cubs and the Yankees. Did Babe Ruth really call his shot? The television broadcast is sure to give us an answer.

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Cubs Talk Podcast: The Outside the Ivy crew explores ways to start the season

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: The Outside the Ivy crew explores ways to start the season

In for David Kaplan, Jeff Nelson is joined by Luis Medina, Danny Rocket, and Michael Cerami of Outside the Ivy as they discuss creative ways Major League Baseball can start its season, how has this impacted baseball fans everywhere, and will the new rules the MLB will use will benefit new manager David Ross.

(1:20) - Staying busy with no baseball to talk about

(8:00) - How will David Ross manage in his 1st year?

(14:00) - How can baseball start without fans?

(21:20) - Electronic strike zones possibility

(27:00) - Mic'ing players up who would sit in the stands

Listen here or in the embedded player below:

Cubs Talk Podcast

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