Cubs

Giants celebrate with ticker-tape parade

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Giants celebrate with ticker-tape parade

From Comcast SportsNet
NEW YORK (AP) -- Eli Manning hoisted the Lombardi Trophy from a glittering blue-and-white float, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg joked that New York City should now be nicknamed the "Big Blue Apple," as thousands of fans crowded lower Manhattan on Tuesday to celebrate the New York Giants' Super Bowl victory amid tons of confetti. The parade set off from the southern tip of Manhattan and rolled slowly north to City Hall, past fans dressed head to toe in red, blue and white Giants gear, with confetti wafting slowly from the high-rises lining Broadway. Manning, the Super Bowl MVP, joined by coach Tom Coughlin, Bloomberg, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other teammates, waved and grinned from the float as a deep roar rose from the crowds. Defensive end Justin Tuck said he was glad to be part of the team, leading its defense and sacking New England quarterback Tom Brady twice during the 21-17 victory over the Patriots, "We made it here by believing in each other. We believe in every guy on this team," he said later during a ceremony at City Hall Plaza. "Honestly, we wouldn't be here today without your support." The team was introduced with thunderous applause from the thousands of fans outside the City Hall gates. A lucky 250 fans received tickets to the fete, where the Giants were honored with symbolic keys to the city. The crowd went wild for running back Ahmed Bradshaw, who plopped down in the end zone Sunday to score the winning touchdown. Wide receiver Victor Cruz did his trademark salsa moves as he accepted his key. Manning joked about the team's fourth-quarter comebacks. "Make it tough but make it possible," he said, laughing about how the team blew an early lead to come back and win. The Giants had eight fourth-quarter comebacks to win games during the season. "Finish games, finish fourth quarters and finish the season strong. That's what we did," Manning said. Coughlin said the Giants were successful because they never gave up. "The key thing was to remember this: All things are possible for those who believe," Coughlin said. "We always believed." Some fans had waited since 6 a.m. to catch a glimpse of their favorite players. About half of a Long Island high school class skipped school to see "a whole nation coming together in one place -- this parade," said Mike King, 16, of Wantagh. King and seven school friends got up at dawn, arriving by subway in lower Manhattan to join the crowds packed behind police barricades. He attributed the win to Manning's stellar performance and the hold-your-breath catch by Mario Manningham that led to the game-winning drive. Frank Capogrosso, 11, from Staten Island, leaned against a barricade at the beginning of the parade route with his dad and best friend. "This is better than TV. I love the cop cars, the toilet paper and the ecstatic fans," he said. "I love the Giants. I love their style. They play, they don't talk." The parade for the Super Bowl champions could bring the city as much as 38 million, depending on the number of spectators, Bloomberg said. As many as 1 million people were expected -- about a third of them from outside New York. After the parade, the team traveled to New Jersey for an afternoon rally at their home turf, MetLife Stadium. Tens of thousands of fans roared as the team walked onto the field in East Rutherford, making it feel like a regular Sunday game for Big Blue. Some fans even got to touch a piece of history when Giants running back Brandon Jacobs capped the boisterous celebration by taking the Lombardi Trophy and walking it around the stadium to give delirious fans in the lower rows a chance to lean over and put their hands on it. It was an impromptu moment that fit the mood of the afternoon. It's the second Super Bowl championship parade for the Giants in four years. They beat the Patriots in the NFL title game in 2008. Bloomberg asked the crowd: "Are you feeling deja blue all over again?" referring to the team's 2008 win. Fans cheered. Workers in high-rises tossed confetti -- and later entire pieces of papers -- from their windows. Jun Kim, 28, a Korean linguist at the law firm Kenyon & Kenyon, reserved his biggest batch for Manning. "You are a star!" he yelled as the quarterback passed by. "People thought he would crumble under pressure, but he didn't. He's the best." And once, so were four former Giants players who all starred in past Super Bowls and joined Kim on the 11th floor of Number One Broadway, watching from a balcony "with the best bird's-eye view of the parade," said managing partner Michael Loughnane. Howard Cross, a onetime Giants tight end, said he only caught a few seconds of the parade from the drop-dead height because "I'm scared -- I don't lean over edges!" Three other former Giants were also at the confetti fest in the 19th century building: Otis Anderson, George Martin and Sean Landetta. Just moments after the parade passed around noon, a lineup of sanitation plows scraped their way up Broadway, pushing mounds of confetti -- some as high as 5 feet. Fans stood on sidewalks ankle deep in the paper that was later sucked up by sanitation workers armed with hand-held vacuums. Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty said he expected about 40 tons of paper to be thrown. That's a lot but not one for the record books: The city threw 5,438 tons of ticker tape on returning veterans at the end of World War II in 1945. The actual ticker tape from those days has been replaced by recycled paper that's shredded into confetti. About 34 tons of paper were cleaned up after the Giants' 2008 parade. Mindy Forman, 53, of Yorktown, was one of the lucky few who scored a ticket to the festivities at City Hall. She said the win was a much-needed victory at a time when many could use some cheering up. She counted herself among that group: She was laid off two weeks ago from her job as a college administrator. "It celebrates New York," she said. "It celebrates the city. It celebrates the state. And it gives people something to believe in in very hard times." New York has feted its public heroes since 1919, with the first parade for World War I General John Pershing and his victorious troops. They were followed by more than 200 parades honoring such people as aviator Charles Lindbergh, scientist Albert Einstein, Pope John Paul, South African leader Nelson Mandela and pianist Van Cliburn. Their names are chiseled into the Broadway sidewalks.

Craig Kimbrel struggles again, Cubs lose heartbreaker: ‘Today is not an easy day’

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AP

Craig Kimbrel struggles again, Cubs lose heartbreaker: ‘Today is not an easy day’

After two consecutive tough, one-run losses, the Cubs showed plenty of fight on Saturday against the Cardinals. And yet, it still ended with what could be described as a knockout punch.

“We needed the 16-ounce gloves for that fight right there,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said postgame. “We had the right guy there at the end. You talk about two shots to the jaw —like poom-poom — and they got the win.”

For the second time this weekend, Cubs closer Craig Kimbrel was victimized by the long ball. With the Cubs leading 8-7 in the ninth, Kimbrel surrendered solo home runs to Yadier Molina and Paul DeJong on consecutive pitches, giving the Cardinals a 9-8 lead — ultimately the game’s final score.

“Today is not an easy day,” Kimbrel said postgame. “First and second pitch of an inning, [I] felt like I made two competitive pitches that I wanted to, and it went out.

“It’s just frustrating, that’s the only thing I can say.”

Saturday’s loss all but eliminates the Cubs from NL Central contention, as their tragic number is down to two with seven games left. They’re also 2.5 games back of the Brewers for the last Wild Card spot, pending the outcome of Milwaukee’s matchup with the Pirates on Saturday.

The result is obviously all that matters, but it’s not like Kimbrel left two meatballs over the heart of the plate. Molina’s home run came off a 97-mph fastball that was up and out of the strike zone, while DeJong hit a 96-mph heater that was up in the zone.

“First one was out of the zone, second was up,” Kimbrel said. “Thought it was a good pitch to the hitter, based on what I saw. They just put the barrel on it, and it went out.

“I was pumped out there, I was excited, felt like I had good stuff. And then right there off the bat with two home runs. Frustrating.”

Kimbrel returned to the Cubs on Thursday following a two-week stint on the injured list with right elbow inflammation. With the minor league season over, the 31-year-old couldn’t go on a rehab assignment, though he did throw a simulated game on Tuesday.

However, Kimbrel insisted that his recent outings have nothing to do with his health. In fact, he said that he feels great.

“I feel great right now. I mean, my last two outings I’ve felt great,” he said. “I just didn’t get the results I wanted, the results I need to have to do my job.”

“He’s had ample time to build his arm strength back up, and it was nothing wrong with his arm strength,” Maddon said. “After [the homer runs], he made some really good pitches at the other guys.”

One of the tougher parts of Kimbrel’s last two outings is that they’ve followed rallies by a Cubs offense that has been inconsistent in September. Thursday, they scored three runs in the bottom of the ninth to tie things up before passing the ball to Kimbrel.

After surrendering two runs in the seventh inning Saturday, the Cubs put up two runs of their own that inning, retaking the lead. That lead didn’t hold, but the Cubs still are confident in their closer.

“Of course,” Maddon said. “We were at that point where we’ve built the game towards him, and I want to continue to do so. I thought his stuff was actually better today than the other day.

“It felt really good about the moment right there, the way we fought back, him coming in the game, had already been in one game, has had ample time to get it back together. It was kind of surprising.”

“Craig’s a Hall of Fame closer. He’s got a track record for a reason,” Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo said. “He puts in the work. We all see it.

“He’s an amazing guy in the clubhouse. We have his back. It’s tough. I know he feels bad, but he’s a competitor and he’s a champion and he’ll bounce back.”

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Cubs playoff race: Hope on life support after another disastrous meltdown

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USA Today

Cubs playoff race: Hope on life support after another disastrous meltdown

The Cubs took the field Saturday afternoon with only a 21.3 percent chance of making the postseason.

That number will certainly go down after another epic meltdown in a season full of disastrous moments.

Just five days earlier (after Monday's win), the Cubs had a 76.7 percent chance of October baseball.

But that's what five straight losses will do, especially when the other teams in the race keep on winning. They still couldn’t get back to their winning ways Saturday despite a hard-fought effort in a wild 9-8 loss that saw seven lead changes.

The Cubs are now 6 games back in the division and 3 games out of the final playoff spot in the National League with only seven contests remaining.

"Obviously it sucks," said Javy Baez, who struck out to end the game. "But we are really close to the other teams. We just gotta play our game — try to get hot in the last two series and see what happens when the last game is over."

"It doesn't matter how you lose at this time of the year," Anthony Rizzo said. "It sucks. A loss is a loss. Especially with seven games left. It sucks." 

Quick thoughts

—Kimbrel’s disastrous weekend

This is not what anybody had in mind when the Cubs addressed their biggest weakness and signed Craig Kimbrel to a three-year deal in early June.

In his first 19.2 innings as a Cub, the closer on a Hall of Fame trajectory surrendered 9 home runs — the latter two coming on back-to-back pitches in the top of the ninth inning Saturday.

Called on to protect a 1-run lead, Kimbrel could only watch in disbelief as Yadier Molina sent his first pitch into the left-field bleachers and Illinois native Paul DeJong followed suit on the very next offering.

"It's tough. it is," Rizzo said. "Craig's a Hall of Fame closer. He's got a track record for a reason. He puts in the work. We all see it. He's an amazing guy in the clubhouse. You don't want to ever see anybody give up runs. We have his back. It's tough. It feels bad, but he's a competitor and a champion and he'll bounce back."

Kimbrel spent most of this month on the injured list with right elbow inflammation, but returned Thursday only to give up the lead and get saddled with the loss in the 10th inning after the Cubs had just pulled off an epic 3-run rally in the bottom of the ninth to send the game to extras.

Kimbrel now has a 6.53 ERA in 23 games with the Cubs this season.

—Javy suits up

Baez scored the tying run as a pinch-runner Thursday night, but his at-bat to end the game Saturday was his first plate appearance since breaking his left thumb three weeks ago. 

He struck out against Cardinals closer Carlos Martinez to end the game and admitted it was a tough at-bat given the layoff.

"It was hard, especially with him out there throwing 100 mph," Baez said. "It's tough, but you gotta give it a try and try something for the team."

Baez said he hopes to be able to start the game Tuesday for the Cubs in Pittsburgh.

"I've been feeling good," he said. "It's still bothering me a little bit, but I would do anything to help my team. We're in a hard situation right now that we gotta win games and if not, we'll be out of the playoffs. We're in this together. If we're gonna give everything, we're gonna give everything together. I'm trying my best to come back before the regular season is over. It's been a quick process, so hopefully I'll keep getting better and after the day off, I'll probably be out there."

—The winds of change

At first pitch Saturday, the wind was blowing straight out at Wrigley Field at 17 mph. That proved to be a huge factor in the game.

Each team felt the benefit of Mother Nature, with Marcell Ozuna somehow golfing this very low 0-2 pitch from Kyle Ryan into the bleachers in the top of the seventh inning for a go-ahead blast:

The Cubs’ big boost from the wind came on Tony Kemp's signature moment with the team in the bottom of the inning (though this game won’t be remembered for his heroics).

After Ben Zobrist had doubled with one out, Kemp was sent up to the plate as a pinch-hitter and appeared to strike out, only to get new life when it turned out a balk was called. He hit the next pitch in the air to center field — deep enough to at least get Zobrist home from third as the tying run — but it wound up carrying just a few rows into the bleachers for an enormous, game-changing home run.

The Cubs had been waiting for their baseball luck to turn and I think it's safe to say the balk call qualified, though it ultimately proved to only set the stage for even greater heartbreak for the fanbase.

—Brad Wieck's big moment goes for naught

Kemp wasn't the only player to deliver his signature moment with the Cubs Saturday afternoon.

Wieck was called on to protect the 1-run lead in the eighth inning of a crucial, Game 7-esque contest Saturday — just like everybody predicted back when the Cubs traded for him on July 31. Despite walking the leadoff hitter and plunking Tommy Edman, Joe Maddon left Wieck in the game to face the heart of the Cardinals order — righties Paul Goldschmidt and Marcell Ozuna — even though veteran Steve Cishek had been warming up in the Cubs bullpen.

Goldschmidt flied out to left field and Ozuna struck out, giving Wieck a huge boost of confidence and setting the Cubs on the path for a much-needed victory before the ninth-inning meltdown.

—Oh, that's where the offense was hiding...

Cardinals starter Dakota Hudson certainly helped out with back-to-back-to-back-to-back walks after Nicholas Castellanos' double in the first inning.

The team that scored only 1 run on 9 hits in Friday's ballgame then plated 3 runs on just 1 hit in the first inning of Saturday's contest.

Baseball, man.

The Cubs generally had a solid approach at the plate all day, drawing 6 walks and slugging 7 of their 10 hits for extra bases.

Rookie Nico Hoerner delivered a clutch go-ahead homer in the bottom of the sixth, his third longball of the homestand after hitting just 3 homers in 75 minor-league games this year.

—What bum ankle?

This weekend series hasn't gone the way the Cubs wanted, but Anthony Rizzo's shocking return to the field and subsequent play has been one of the consistent bright spots.

After a nasty-looking sprained ankle that was originally thought to keep him out for the rest of the regular season, Rizzo returned to the Cubs leadoff spot just 20 minutes before Thursday's game and he even provided a homer in that contest before the Cardinals pulled out a victory in the 10th inning.

In 11 plate appearances over those three games, Rizzo reached in six of them, including three hits Saturday. He even hustled out a double in the second inning, sliding into second on that injured ankle and trying to give his team a spark.

—Q's about Q

What is going on with Jose Quintana. He hasn't made it through 4 innings in any of his last three starts and has gone more than a month since pitching at least 6 innings (Aug. 18).

He's now given up 18 earned runs and 25 hits in 13.2 innings this month - good for an 11.85 ERA and 2.19 WHIP.

Quintana was a rock for the Cubs in the rotation for the first five months of the season, but he's taken a sharp turn in the wrong direction at the absolute worst time. His struggles are even tougher to swallow when taken alongside Cole Hamels' last couple months of injuries and ineffectiveness.

At the moment, Quintana would be in line to start the first game in St. Louis next weekend, but the Cubs could always utilize the off-day to change up their rotation a bit.

Brewers update

The Brewers beat the Pirates Saturday night and are 3 games up on the Cubs for the final playoff spot in the National League.

Nationals update

The Nationals beat the Marlins and have a 4-game lead on the Cubs and are 1 game up on the Brewers for the top Wild-Card spot.

What's next?

The Cubs finish their 2019 regular season home slate Sunday afternoon, though some serious storms are projected to hit Chicago.

If they are able to play, will this be the final game at Wrigley Field in 2019? If they're not able to play, the Cardinals have a game Monday night while the Cubs are off, so the makeup would have to be pushed back to Sept. 30 if it still holds weight for the playoff race.

Yu Darvish takes the hill for the Cubs against Miles Mikolas. Catch all the action on NBC Sports Chicago or the My Teams app, with pregame live beginning at 12:30 p.m.

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