Bears

Dempster reached out to Dodgers GM at deadline

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Dempster reached out to Dodgers GM at deadline

LOS ANGELES Ryan Dempster would have loved it here. Dodger Stadium gets loud and is filled with energy. Magic Johnson headlines a new ownership group that wants this to be Showtime.

Theres history everywhere, with pictures of Jackie Robinson and Vin Scully and all the old greats lining the walls. The weather and the dimensions are perfect for a 35-year-old pitcher.

Theres old friend Ted Lilly, who parlayed a 2010 deadline deal to Los Angeles into a three-year, 33 million contract. The Dodgers (59-50) are thinking about October, surging after completing a three-game sweep with Sundays 7-6 walk-off win over the Cubs.

Dempster didnt get what he wanted last week, and until HBO makes a definitive movie styled after Too Big to Fail, well never get inside the room, only settling for fragmented pieces of information.

But heres another twist: Sources said that Dempster was so hung up on the Dodgers that the Cubs told him to directly call Ned Colletti. Dempster spoke with the Los Angeles general manager just before the deadline eliminating that possibility and then accepted a trade to the Texas Rangers.

The Cubs denied a Chicago Tribune report that they let Dempster listen in on trade conversations without informing the Dodgers what would be a serious breach of ethics. But it clearly struck a nerve in the Cubs front office and revealed a Los Angeles perspective on the failed negotiations.

General manager Jed Hoyer who was the point man for dealing with the Dodgers reached out to Colletti on Sunday to explain the misunderstanding.

After watching a potential deal with the Atlanta Braves collapse once it leaked to the media, the Cubs brought Dempster into their new headquarters on Clark and Waveland for the final hour or so before the July 31 deadline.

Dempster who had 10-and-5 no-trade rights was hanging out in Hoyers office before the general manager had to kick him out and make a few phone calls. So Hoyer found Dempster another office with a television to watch the MLB Network.

The confusion came out of a group interview with Theo Epstein the day after. The team president was asked about Dempsters role in the negotiations and his relationship with the front office.

We were on great terms throughout the entire process, Epstein said. We joked about it every day. And in the end, once he came to our office and actually heard the conversations we were having with L.A., he realized: OK, maybe thats actually not going to happen.Let me consider a couple other places.

Epstein's answer to a follow-up question about Dempster actually being in the office listening in didnt make it clear whether he was in the building versus the actual room where Hoyer was on the phone.

It was an unusual situation, Epstein said then. But I think it was helpful to have him there. He could hear firsthand that it probably wasnt going to happen.

If someone really wants to go to a place, you can tell them over and over again its probably not going to happen. But unless theyre convinced of that, they may not want to move on to their second choice.

There were certain things he needed to hear.

So Dempster evidently went straight to the source, and got what he didn't want to hear.

Does Bradley Sowell have a roster spot locked up as Bears' tight end battle hits home stretch?

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USA Today

Does Bradley Sowell have a roster spot locked up as Bears' tight end battle hits home stretch?

Matt Nagy listed off three positions he'll have a keen focus on during Saturday's preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts: Tight end, inside linebacker and cornerback. Of those three, tight end carries the most intrigue given the injury histories of Trey Burton and Adam Shaheen, and the need for depth behind those two players. 

Here's where things stand with just over a week until cut-down day:

On the team: Trey Burton, Adam Shaheen, Ben Braunecker
On the bubble: Bradley Sowell, Ian Bunting, Dax Raymond, Jesper Horsted, Ellis Richardson

With Aug. 31's cut-down deadline quickly approaching, Sowell appears to be on the inside track to make the Bears’ roster as a backup "Y" tight end. A prime example: When asked about Sowell’s move from offensive line to tight end, Nagy preached patience with the move. 

“For us, if we don’t have patience with him in this transition, and there’s frustration with anything, we have to check ourselves as coaches,” Nagy said. “We’re taking this guy who has played tackle in his career and moved him to a position where you’re running routes and you’ve got to know every formation where you line up. So all that said, I really like where he’s at, and I’m looking forward to more.”

This could perhaps be positive coach-speak, and Sowell — who hasn’t been targeted but has committed two penalties in two preseason games — could be closer to the roster bubble than Nagy is intimating. But for Sowell’s roster spot to be in jeopardy, one of the Bears’ undrafted rookies will needs to step up.

So far, the closest to doing that has been Bunting, the 6-foot-7 Hinsdale Central alum who had a good showing against the Carolina Panthers (three catches, 77 yards) but disappeared eight days later against the New York Giants. Raymond, like Bunting, was not targeted against the Giants, though he did notch a solid block on a 14-yard run by running back Ryan Nall. Horsted and Richardson don’t appear to be realistic options. 

Notably, when asked how Bunting and Raymond have looked in terms of holding the point of attack in the run game, Nagy said after the Giants game: “They’re not there yet."

Nagy, though, added: "But there’s some potential. There is. This is a whole new world for them. It’s the NFL. Guys are bigger, stronger, faster. It’s a new playbook, so they’re trying to put all that stuff together. 

"We have to decide, ‘Hey, are they a developmental guy? Or are they a guy that’s ready right away? Who are they? We have two weeks to see that and then we’ll have not much time to decide it.” 

The thought here, then, is Sowell will be on the roster come Sept. 5, unless the Bears can find a backup “Y” tight end with whom they’re more comfortable on the waiver wire. At the least, the Bears trust Sowell as an in-line blocker (though he was beat on a block by Giants outside linebacker Markus Golden last week), whereas they may not trust Bunting or Raymond in those duties yet. 

Bunting and Raymond are likely fighting for their roster spot against a fourth running back/seventh wide receiver/ninth offensive lineman, etc. If they don't make the Bears' 53-man roster they'd be prime practice squad candidates. 

Dunder Mifflin Chicago? Derek Holland to rock sweet 'The Office' cleats for MLB Players' Weekend

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USA TODAY

Dunder Mifflin Chicago? Derek Holland to rock sweet 'The Office' cleats for MLB Players' Weekend

Bears. Beets. Beautiful baseball cleats. 

Friday kicks off MLB's third annual Players' Weekend, a set of three days where players can rock customized bats, cleats and gloves that pay homage to their style, interests, etc. In a league full of awesome designs, however, Cubs reliever Derek Holland's cleats inspired by "The Office" might take the cake as the best of the best.

As Andy Bernard would say: nailed it.

Holland also will don cleats inspired by "The Dark Knight." Considering how the movie was filmed largely in Chicago, this design could go as one of the most underrated this weekend.

With how many unique designs come out of Players' Weekend, it's a shame that MLB players can't wear their custom gear all season long. There's always room for more Michael Scott in all of our lives, right?

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