Bears

Meet baseball's newest 100 million man

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Meet baseball's newest 100 million man

From Comcast SportsNet
Ever since he became the Washington Nationals' very first draft pick, Ryan Zimmerman wanted to stay with the club for the long haul. Now he'll get that wish. The Nationals took what they hope is another step toward consistent contention by locking up their third baseman -- and the guy many still call the face of the franchise -- through 2019, adding six years to Zimmerman's existing contract in a deal announced Sunday. The deal includes a full no-trade clause. The extra six seasons are worth 100 million, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because no financial terms were revealed publicly. "It's nice that it's done," Zimmerman said at a news conference at the club's spring training stadium in Viera, Fla. "It's where I want to be. It's where I've always wanted to be." He already was signed for 2012 and 2013, with 26 million remaining on the five-year, 45 million contract he got at the start of the 2009 season. He's now guaranteed 126 million over the next eight seasons, and there is a club option for 2020. "I love pressure. I don't think people get these kinds of contracts that don't want to be in pressure situations. Ever since I've been here, I've wanted to be the guy that's up last in the ninth inning," Zimmerman said. "I've wanted to be the guy that everyone looks to. I've wanted to be the so-called leader. I relish being that guy. I love it. I wouldn't have it any other way." He grew up not from the nation's capital in Virginia Beach, Va., and his parents still live there. The two sides talked late into the night Saturday, making enough progress for the 27-year-old Zimmerman to extend a self-imposed deadline that coincided with that day's start of official full-squad workouts. He wanted to get a deal completed now or postpone talks until after the season so his contract situation wouldn't be a distraction in the clubhouse for the Nationals, who are hoping to finally be competitive in the NL East. Washington finished third in the division in 2011, the franchise's best showing since moving from Montreal. Zimmerman was the team's first draft pick after the Expos became the Nationals before the 2005 season -- he was taken No. 4 overall that year after playing college baseball at Virginia -- and he quickly emerged as Washington's best player. He's been an NL All-Star, and also collected Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards. Last season, Zimmerman was limited by injuries to 395 at-bats over 101 games. He hit .289 with 12 homers, 21 doubles and 49 RBIs. For his career, Zimmerman has a .288 batting average, 128 homers, 214 doubles, 498 RBIs, a .355 on-base percentage and .479 slugging percentage, and he's considered one of the top defensive third basemen in the majors. He's also emerged as one of the leaders of the team in the clubhouse. "In my opinion, it's just another indication the organization is moving in the right direction," shortstop Ian Desmond said. "To lock up a guy and show loyalty to your franchise player ... and to see Zim' be happy at home, and not to have to worry about that any more, it's going to be nice. I'm happy for him. We definitely need him." More than a dozen Nationals teammates showed up for Sunday's news conference. "It's great for them to come, obviously, to show their support. That's one of the reasons why I want to stay here," Zimmerman said. "I want to be with these guys for a long time." The average annual value of Zimmerman's extension is 16.7 million; the average for the eight years works out to 15.75 million. Zimmerman is one of six major leaguers signed through at least 2019, joining Albert Pujols of the Angels, Cecil Fielder of the Tigers, Troy Tulowitzki of the Rockies, Ryan Braun of the Brewers and Matt Kemp of the Dodgers. When Stan Kasten was team president, the Nationals had a policy against giving players no-trade clauses. But they added such a clause when they signed outfielder Jayson Werth to a 126 million, seven-year contract as a free agent last offseason. And now they've done it for Zimmerman. "I'd rather not give a no-trade than give a no-trade because it gives me more flexibility. But for players like this, if it's give a no-trade or not have the player, that's a pretty easy decision," general manager Mike Rizzo said. Rizzo said the no-trade clause does not cover the 2012 and 2013 seasons, only the additional six years. Still, he said he won't trade Zimmerman. "It comes into play when you have trust and honesty between both parties. We didn't go through this exercise and sign Zim' to a six-year (deal), plus an option year, to trade him in the next two years," Rizzo said. "With Mike Rizzo as the GM of the Nationals, he will not be traded in the next two years." Notes: The Nationals had their first live batting practice session Sunday with Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez throwing. But the anticipated matchup of Strasburg vs. Bryce Harper never took place. Harper hit against Nationals closer Drew Storen and later said he was disappointed he didn't get to bat against Strasburg. "Absolutely. I wanted to face him so bad," Harper said. "I wanted to see what he was about. If he made me look stupid, I don't even care."

Here's what NFL media thinks about this year's Bears team

Here's what NFL media thinks about this year's Bears team

Prediction szn is upon us all. 

It's about now -- Week 3 of the preseason for most teams -- when the shine of exhibition football starts to wear off. With Week 1 in sight, media outlets are starting to unveil their season predictions. Sheild your eyes, Bears fans.

Sports Illustrated: 7-9, Last in the NFC North

"The offensive line took a big hit losing guard Josh Sitton and the defense, while improved with Roquan Smith at linebacker, still needs to find a pass rush. It may take one more year for this group to gel."

CBS Sports: 4-12 (oof), Last in the NFC North

Yahoo Sports: 7-9, Last in the NFC North

ESPN: 7-9, Last in NFC North

"The NFL did the Bears no favors with early games against Green Bay and Seattle, but the schedule lightens up considerably beginning in Week 3."

Bleacher Report: 7-9, Last in NFC North

"Chicago is well-positioned to rapidly improve even though its home schedule is difficult, with the Rams, Patriots, Seahawks, Jets and Buccaneers coming to town beyond its regular rivalries." 

Pro Football Focus: O/U 6.5 wins - Over

"Among optimistic plays on win totals, the Bears OVER 6.5 wins (even at -130) offers the best value, especially given the aforementioned environment surrounding second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky."

Newsday: O/U 6.5 wins - Over

"If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know that the Bears are my breakout team for the 2018 season. They had such a great offseason that they can be this year’s 2017 Rams."

USA Today: 7-9, 3rd in NFC North

"Let's not expect them to fully replicate the Rams' model of success in 2017. But if Mitchell Trubisky is the real deal, he and new coach Matt Nagy should finally get this proud franchise pointed in a direction that could reasonably mean playoffs ... in 2019."

For The Win: 6-10, 3rd in the NFC North

Chris Chelios joins Pearl Jam on stage at Wrigley Field to honor Stan Mikita

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AP

Chris Chelios joins Pearl Jam on stage at Wrigley Field to honor Stan Mikita

The city of Chicago lost a sports icon earlier this month when Stan Mikita died at the age of 78 after a long illness. He's the all-time leading scorer in Blackhawks history with 1,467 points, but perhaps more importantly made as much of an impact off the ice as he did on it.

Former Blackhawks defenseman and current team ambassador Chris Chelios joined Pearl Jam on stage at Wrigley Field on Monday night, holding up a red No. 21 Mikita sweater to pay tribute to a Chicago legend.

Lead vocalist Eddie Vedder even dedicated the song "Come Back" to Mikita and his family, with the help of thousands of fans who paid homage by holding up their cell phones:

A touching moment.