Ryan Dempster

Anthony Rizzo and Ryan Dempster bring the house down singing 'Piano Man'

Anthony Rizzo and Ryan Dempster bring the house down singing 'Piano Man'

Ryan Dempster hosted his charity event Off The Mound Saturday night, with proceeds going to CPS Score - an after-school program for Chicago Public School children. And while it's always a fun night with Dempster on the mic, things got a little crazy when Anthony Rizzo stepped up to the mic with Dempster to sing some Billy Joel together. 

Dempster's event also featured Chicago sports stars like Kerry Wood and Ozzie Guillen along with Rizzo, as Dempster hosted the show similar to a talk show. Dempster and his star-studded crew shared stories of the glory days, making jokes all along the way, but none topped the impromptu duet between Rizzo and Dempster singing the Bily Joel classic at the Vig Theather. 

The current Cubs front office assistant has hosted a late-night show the last few years at Cubs Convention but was still feeling the nerves prior to the show, telling Phil Thompson of the Chicago Tribune all about in an interview prior to Saturday night's show. 

“Anxious, nervous, excited, I can't sit still,” Dempster said. “I go to get milk out of the fridge, instead I grab a cucumber and wonder why I was holding that in my hand."

Great to see the Dempster doing what he can to better the Chicago community, hopefully, he and Rizzo continue to find ways to work together to show off their singing pipes in the future. But for now, we'll appreciate Rizzo belting out Piano Man. 

 

David Bote's family and friends had some incredible - and hilarious - reactions to his walk-off grand slam

David Bote's family and friends had some incredible - and hilarious - reactions to his walk-off grand slam

It was the type of moment that transcends baseball.

So many people who are not Cubs fans or not avid baseball followers saw David Bote's grand slam Sunday night and were moved by the excitement and drama of it all.

Bote has had a whirlwind couple of days since that epic moment, which will go down as one of the most memorable plays in Cubs franchise history.

His celebration was iconic, but how his family and friends took in that moment may have been just as good.

Bote and his wife, Rachel, live right near Wrigley Field with their two kids. Rachel initially did not have Sunday's game on the TV, but flipped it on three pitches into her husband's at-bat, as David recounted to Kelly Crull in a 1-on-1 interview Tuesday:

"She had a really cool perspective," Bote said. "She just turned on the game and it was 1-2, because she knew it was kinda getting toward the end of the game. She realized I was up and she's like, 'Uh oh, I've missed all these things.'

"We can see Wrigley Field from our apartment. She watched the rest of the at-bat and she opened the door just to kinda hear what was going on. She watched the hit and then she heard Wrigley Field erupt and she took a picture of Wrigley Field, bright lights and just listening to the crowd singing, 'Go Cubs Go' and screaming and she could watch it on TV. 

"So it was kinda cool. Because she's had to grind it out with us as well — six years in the minors. So for her, she goes, her words were, 'Sometimes baseball gives you a moment to just sit back and enjoy.' So it was really cool to hear her say that."

Their 2-year-old daughter, Shayli, was happy for her dad, but had more important concerns:

"My daughter was very nervous about the jersey-ripping," Bote laughed. "She called it a 'sweater.' I mean, I answered that question like 70 times. 'What happened, Dad?! What happened?!' I'm like, 'It's OK!'"

Bote has heard from a lot of different people after the grand slam, including hugging Bill Murray on the field. He also received text messages from David Ross and Ryan Dempster and got admittedly "geeked out." 

"I'm like, 'Oh my goodness, Ryan Dempster and David Ross texted me??'" Bote said. "I think it's so cool. They're such good dudes."

When told about Theo Epstein's reaction that he got more texts about that grand slam that after some of the World Series games, Bote was speechless for a moment before getting back into the team-centric mindset.

"I don't even know what to say to that," he responded. "That's incredible. I'm blessed and humbled. Again, it's just one step towards what we're trying to do here — which is to be back in the World Series and win the final game.

"If that [win is] a catapult, then that's awesome. If not, then we're just taking it day-by-day. As cliche as it sounds, that is the truth of it."

Bote isn't on social media apart from a private Facebook account. He tries to keep it just for family and friends, but random people have reached out.

"I've had quite a few Facebook messenger messages from people," he said. "It was funny — someone said, 'I proposed and you made it that much more special.' And, 'It was my first Cubs game and it was a great win!' Things that you don't know you impact and that's cool to hear."

But life moves on. Bote was back at Wrigley field Tuesday afternoon for the Cubs' loss to the Brewers and yes, he had a new "sweater" from the team.

Though that won't keep his daughter's questions at bay.

"I guarantee she'll still ask about it tonight."

Offseason of change begins with Cubs firing pitching coach Chris Bosio

chrisbosiochanges.jpg
USA TODAY

Offseason of change begins with Cubs firing pitching coach Chris Bosio

"Of course," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said in the middle of the National League Championship Series — he would like his coaches back in 2018. Pitching coach Chris Bosio told the team's flagship radio station this week that the staff expected to return next year. President of baseball operations Theo Epstein didn't go that far during Friday afternoon's end-of-season news conference at Wrigley Field, but he did say: "Rest assured, Joe will have every coach back that he wants back."

That's Cub: USA Today columnist Bob Nightengale first reported Saturday morning that Bosio had been fired, a source confirming the team declined a club contract option for next year and made a major influence on the Wrigleyville rebuild a free agent. Epstein and Bosio did not immediately respond to text messages and the club has not officially outlined the shape of the 2018 coaching staff.

Those exit meetings on Friday at Wrigley Field are just the beginning of an offseason that could lead to sweeping changes, with the Cubs looking to replace 40 percent of their rotation, identify an established closer (whether or not that's Wade Davis), find another leadoff option and maybe break up their World Series core of hitters to acquire pitching. 

The obvious candidate to replace Bosio is Jim Hickey, Maddon's longtime pitching coach with the Tampa Bay Rays who has Chicago roots and recently parted ways with the small-market franchise that stayed competitive by consistently developing young arms like David Price and Chris Archer.

Of course, Maddon denied that speculation during an NLCS where the Los Angeles Dodgers dominated the Cubs in every phase of the game and the manager's bullpen decisions kept getting second-guessed.

Bosio has a big personality and strong opinions that rocked the boat at times, but he brought instant credibility as an accomplished big-league pitcher who helped implement the team's sophisticated game-planning system.

Originally a Dale Sveum hire for the 2012 season/Epstein regime Year 1 where the Cubs lost 101 games, Bosio helped coach up and market short-term assets like Ryan Dempster, Scott Feldman, Matt Garza and Jeff Samardzija. 

Those win-later trades combined with Bosio's expertise led to a 2016 major-league ERA leader (Kyle Hendricks) and a 2015 NL Cy Young Award winner (Jake Arrieta) plus setup guys Pedro Strop and Carl Edwards Jr. and All-Star shortstop Addison Russell.

Bosio helped set the foundation for the group that won last year's World Series and has made three consecutive trips to the NLCS. But as the Cubs are going to find out this winter, there is a shelf life to everything, even for those who made their mark during a golden age of baseball on the North Side.