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ICYMI: Cubs' plan for Craig Kimbrel; Lucas Giolito continues dominance; Virginia McCaskey Q&A

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

ICYMI: Cubs' plan for Craig Kimbrel; Lucas Giolito continues dominance; Virginia McCaskey Q&A

The Cubs revealed their plan for closer Craig Kimbrel, Lucas Giolito continued his brilliance on the mound and NBC Sports Chicago sat down with Virginia McCaskey, who offered insight and stories from 100 years of football. Here's what you may have missed from the weekend in Chicago sports:

Cubs

The Cubs officially announced the signing of Craig Kimbrel on Friday, revealing their plan for him moving forward at his introductory press conference. The entire press conference is available on this episode of the Cubs Talk Podcast.

Two interesting points from the press conference include: how Jason Heyward and David Ross helped convince Kimbrel to sign with the Cubs and the importance of Cubs fans in his decision. And while Kimbrel is terrific, there are some concerns that come with signing him.

According to Joe Maddon, the Cubs starting rotation "is the engine that's gonna drive the vehicle." Maddon also discussed how the team plans to manage the second base rotation. 

A locked-in Kyle Schwarber has locked down the Cubs' leadoff spot.

The Cubs reportedly agreed to terms with first round draft pick Ryan Jensen. Plus, the team held a Jon Lester themed flight to the west coast.

On the latest Cubs Talk Podcast, Kelly Crull caught up with David Bote and Carlos Gonzalez, while Leila Rahimi talked to Peter Gammons about the tough NL Central.

White Sox

Lucas Giolito continued his dominance for the White Sox, throwing 7 1/3 scoreless innings on Saturday in a 2-0 win over the Royals. The White Sox won the rubber match against the Royals on Sunday, highlighted by a long home run by Eloy Jimenez.

James McCann has been raking at the plate for the White Sox, putting him amongst the best catchers in the American League. In less positive news, Dylan Covey hit the injured list on Sunday, opening up a spot in the team's starting rotation.

Bears

NBC Sports Chicago had a chance to sit down with Bears matriarch Virginia McCaskey at this weekend's Bears100 Celebration. McCaskey shared a number of memories, stories and insight from 100 years of Bears football.

McCaskey is still eminently capable of charing a mass audience, which she did as part of a panel at the convention. Also from the convention: the five best things heard on Friday, why Gary Fencik appreciates Matt Nagy and an inside look at how the Bears came to acquire Khalil Mack.

Friday, the Bears officially unveiled a new throwback uniform that they will wear in 2019. Saturday, the "Punky QB" met the "Pretty Boy Assassin." 

Will Devin Hester be the next Bears legend to make the Hall of Fame? And could one of the largest tight ends in NFL history be a solution to the Bears' depth issues?

Other

NBC Sports Chicago's Blackhawks beat writer Charlie Roumeliotis answers fan questions in the latest Blackhawks mailbag.

NBA mock draft: If the Bulls trade back with the Hawks, who might they target?

Rajon Rondo opened up on his Bulls tenure and getting benched by Fred Hoiberg.

ICYMI: Cubs, White Sox go in opposite directions to start the first half

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USA TODAY

ICYMI: Cubs, White Sox go in opposite directions to start the first half

The Cubs swept the Pirates to open the second half while the White Sox went the other direction, getting swept in Oakland. Here are some Chicago sports stories from the weekend that you may have missed.

Cubs

The Cubs beat the Pirates on Friday and then crushed them with seven runs in the first inning on Saturday. Jon Lester even got in the act with a home run. The win locked up the team's first series win in over a month.

On Sunday, the Cubs finished off the sweep behind a quality start from Jose Quintana. After the sweep, the Cubs had a simple explanation for why the team played better over the weekend.

White Sox

Oakland remains a house of horrors for the White Sox. The Sox began the second half with a 5-1 loss at the A's on Friday. Ivan Nova took the loss and A.J. Reed debuted at DH.

The next day, Dylan Covey returned from the IL. Covey's start did not go well in a lopsided loss.

Oakland finished the sweep off with a walk-off win on Sunday, but Reynaldo Lopez didn't allow an earned run in six innings.

Bulls

The Bulls wrapped up Summer League play on Saturday. Coby White showed some glimpses of his playmaking ability in the finale against the Magic.

ICYMI: White Sox trending in the right direction; Cubs confident best is yet to come; Bulls rookies shine in Summer League

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USA TODAY

ICYMI: White Sox trending in the right direction; Cubs confident best is yet to come; Bulls rookies shine in Summer League

Here are some of the Chicago sports stories you may have missed from the weekend. 

White Sox

The White Sox have had a truly amazing first half of the season when compared to last year's struggles. Whether or not their overall record ends up being closer to last season's, the progress that the White Sox have seen from their young talent is real.

They notched a win over the Cubs in the fourth game of the Crosstown Classic series on Sunday, tying the series at two games apiece. Despite some continued struggles against the Cubs from All-Star Lucas Giolito, the Sox have overall played well the past week.

As Rick Hahn has stated before, the White Sox win total isn't as important as clear-cut development among the core players. Fortunately for White Sox fans, winning games and focusing on player development have gone hand in hand these days. 

Cubs

The Cubs have had an up-and-down season so far but still, sit in the driver's seat in the NL Central.

The North Siders were in the midst of a four-game losing streak before bouncing back with consecutive wins over the Pirates and White Sox. The Cubs' win over the White Sox on July 6 contained a great six-inning outing from Jon Lester but the team still had their fair share of avoidable mistakes. The Cubs dropped the fourth game of the Crosstown Classic series, but still received a solid offensive contribution from rookie Robel Garica, who has been an awesome story for the Cubs.

There is an overall sense of optimism in the clubhouse, as the team feels the best is yet to come.

Bulls

Summer League is not a major indicator of long-term success but it does help us get an idea of how a rookie's game will translate to the NBA. And so far, the Bulls have gotten to see how effective Coby White and Daniel Gafford can be as a duo. Jim Boylen has been very pleased with the overall direction of the team and with good reason after a solid offseason.

White has shown off a variety of nice step-back shots and been a true asset in the pick-and-roll game. Gafford has been a monster around the basket, blocking shots and moving his feet well when defending in the pick-and-roll. There is legitimate excitement surrounding the Bulls.

Between the return of Denzel Valentine and Chandler Hutchison, the free agent additions and another expected leap from Zach Laine and Lauri Markkanen, the Bulls are poised for a (within reason) bounce-back season in a weakened Eastern Conference.