Swept by Cardinals, Cubs still feeling Super


Swept by Cardinals, Cubs still feeling Super

ST. LOUIS Shawn Camp zippered up the back of Ryan Dempsters Captain America costume before getting into his Wolverine outfit.

Alfonso Soriano looked like he couldnt believe the Cubs were actually going to do this. He changed out of his jeans and polo shirt and reluctantly put on his Batman suit, to go along with Starlin Castros Robin.

Dale Hellboy Sveum looked like he had just escaped the Wrigley Field dungeoninterview room and flipped to the dark side after too many questions about changing the culture.

Dressed in khaki pants and blue Cubs polo shirts and with ID badges hanging around their necks, Jeff Baker and Reed Johnson (in a wig) wheeled their suitcases through the clubhouse. They were supposed to be executivessaviors Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer, flying off to work on parallel fronts and build the foundation for sustained success.

This was the exclamation point to Sundays 7-0 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals, which completed a three-game sweep in which the Cubs were outscored 23-1.

Yes, the Cubs went through with their Superheroes theme for the charter flight to Pittsburgh, and theres no doubt people back in Chicago will try to turn this into a hot-button issue.

Eh, first give Sveum some props for this idea: Seven Cubs ran out from the dugout together and clicked their heels as they crossed the white line for the bottom of the first inning.

Opponents used to hate seeing that. But this was a classy tribute to the late Ron Santo, whose family and friends had gathered in Cooperstown, N.Y., to celebrate his induction into the Hall of Fame.

The Cubs (38-56) wore No. 10 patches on their sleeves, and you wondered what Santo would have sounded like on WGN Radio during this lost weekend at Busch Stadium.

The Cardinals (50-45) placed doubles on the left- and right-field lines and put up four runs in the first inning against Travis Wood, who later gave up back-to-back homers to Matt Holliday and Carlos Beltran that traveled a combined 843 feet.

That was kind of a nice touch to the start, Sveum said, and then downhill after that.

Otherwise, this was a Matt Garza production. In spring training, Sveum had suggested a team-bonding dress code for a road trip, like maybe wearing hockey or football jerseys, which didnt go over well with Garza.

Garza had played for Joe Maddon, the free-thinking manager whos had the Tampa Bay Rays dress up as nerds and do white-out trips to Miami. Garza took his son to see The Avengers and a light bulb went off.

I looked at the guys in the outfield and said: (Bleep) this, lets do like a Superhero trip and then just ran with it, Garza recalled.

Sveum pointed out this had been planned for awhile, and already canceled once. It came right after the unthinkable violence at an Aurora, Colo., movie theater during a screening of The Dark Knight Rises.

Thats a horrible situation in Colorado, Sveum said. Our hearts go out to all the families in the city.

Most of the guys seemed pretty pumped about playing dress-up, but the feeling definitely wasnt universal among players and coaches.

Last September here, the Cubs did some rookie hazing and had them wear ridiculous short skirts (among other things) after a brutal loss to the Cardinals, which helped their archrivals sneak into the playoffs and launch a World Series run.

This was before Epstein was hired, when everyone expected manager Mike Quade to get fired, and it was hard to tell who exactly was in charge. This was also the same room where Carlos Zambrano went on his We stinks! rant last season.

But this year the chemistry has improved and Sveum has run a no-nonsense clubhouse. An experienced coaching staff has set a professional tone. Effort hasnt been a problem.

Until this sweep, the Cubs had won 14 of 19 games, a best-in-baseball snapshot, even while trade rumors could have smashed the barriers to the distraction-free zone.

When youre a seller, all the guys on your team sit there and look over their shoulder, Hoyer said. Thats not a good process for anyone. I think everyone sort of exhales after the deadline for that reason, because no one really feels all that safe.

Heck, I think every player on that field has probably been part of some rumor at some point this year, even Starlin for awhilewhich was unfounded.

The coaching staff (stayed) calm. They stayed focused through a really bad stretch and got through it. They did the right thing. They stayed steady.

So it will be interesting to see what happens, if the Cubs can keep it up between here and the July 31 deadline.

I hope that they dont pay attention (to the trade rumors), Soriano said, because they dont have the control (over the situation). Focus on what we do. Just play baseball and let the front office do their job.

Epstein and Hoyer have a pretty good sense of humor, but we all know what the first question will be if they trade Baker andor Johnson, two glue guys in the clubhouse who would also fit a contender that needs a good role player off the bench.

This is the grind. Its what you make of it. Maybe Garza should be traded to the marketing department.

Its to see guys let it loose, have a little fun, take a little pressure off, Garza said. A little bit of embarrassment can go a long way, get you out of your own skin a little bit.

Theo Epstein’s dog damages Arizona rental property with excessive urine

USA Today

Theo Epstein’s dog damages Arizona rental property with excessive urine

In the midst of an intensive hiring process for the new Cubs manager, Theo Epstein is being sued by an Arizona couple claiming Epstein’s dog, Winston, damaged their house. The cause of damage? Peeing excessively inside the property Epstein rented for spring training in 2015.

Yes, you read that right, Epstein’s dog peed so much he’s being sued.

The lawsuit was filed this Tuesday in Maricopa County, according to the Phoenix New Times, citing Epstein’s dog left “a terrible odor and urine-stained carpeting” in the Paradise Valley, Ariz., home where he and his family stayed.

Winston is a rescue mutt, weighing in at around ten pounds. He can’t pee that much, right?

The lawsuit states the dog "peed prolifically in the $1 million house, staining tile and stone flooring, wood door jams, cabinets, and furniture."

John and Mary Valentino referenced a 2017 quote by Epstein as proof that Winston had a peeing problem. When asked about being named the world’s greatest leader by Fortune magazine after the Cubs 2016 World Series win, Epstein said: “I can’t even get my dog to stop peeing in the house.”

Epstein left the rental property two weeks early due to a scorpion infestation later was shown a repair estimate of $51,405, according to the report.

Julian Green, the Cubs vice president of communications, told the New Times the lawsuit was “baseless.” He also said that an exterminator discovered 45 scorpions on the property that “put (Epstein’s) family at risk every time they put their children to sleep.” The Epsteins moved into a different house for the last two weeks of spring training.

The owners kept the $5,000 security deposit, and according to a source the Epsteins did not hear from them again for more than four years until the suit was filed Tuesday.

When asked about the lawsuit, Epstein replied, “As I said, we have no untouchables. Winston is definitely available in the right trade.”

We’ll be keeping tabs on this story as it unfolds. In the meantime, it’s good to see Epstein still has a sense of humor, even with a dog urine lawsuit and a Cubs managerial search on the line.

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Blackhawks honor Dave Bolland with “One More Shift” Friday

Blackhawks honor Dave Bolland with “One More Shift” Friday

Former Blackhawks forward Dave Bolland will be honored with “One More Shift” on the ice at United Center this Friday prior to Hawks matchup against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Bolland will stand with the team during the National Anthem and skate on ice in full gear. Along with time on ice, the United Center will also honor Bolland by showcasing his career highlights throughout the arena.

The Blackhawks will be celebrating the 10 year anniversary of their 2010 Stanley Cup win at five games this season, coinciding with “One More Shift” nights to honor individual players.  The United Center Atrium doors will open at 4pm, giving fans a chance to look at the interactive photo opportunities and historical items on display. Bolland will participate in a Q&A in the atrium at 6:30 p.m. before he hits the ice.

Dave Bolland was drafted by the Blackhawks in 2004 and spent ten seasons of his NHL career in Chicago. Bolland played with the team during two Stanley Cup championships, scoring the game-winning goal in the final minute of Game 6 of the 2013 Stanley Cup Finals against the Bruins. Bolland played in all 22 playoff games in 2010, garnering 16 points (eight goals, eight assists) which shared fifth among Blackhawks skaters in the postseason. Bolland recorded his best season of his career during the 2008-09 campaign with the Blackhawks, skating in a career-high 81 regular-season games and recording career highs in goals (19), assists (28) and points (47).

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