From Comcast SportsNetST. LOUIS (AP) -- No last name necessary.A slew of batting titles. Corkscrew stance. Humble. A gentleman. All-around good guy.Stan the Man.Stanley Frank Musial, the St. Louis Cardinals star who was one of the greatest players in the history of baseball, died Saturday. He was 92."I never heard anybody say a bad word about him -- ever," Willie Mays said in a statement released by the Hall of Fame.The Cardinals announced Musial's death in a news release and said he died at his home in Ladue, a St. Louis suburb, surrounded by family. The team said Musial's son-in-law, Dave Edmonds, informed the club of the slugger's death.Earlier Saturday, baseball lost another Hall of Famer when longtime Baltimore Orioles manager Earl Weaver died at age 82.Musial, the Midwest icon with too many batting records to fit on his Hall of Fame plaque, was so revered in St. Louis that two statues in his honor stand outside Busch Stadium -- one just wouldn't do him justice. He was one of baseball's greatest hitters, every bit the equal of Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio even without the bright lights of the big city.Musial won seven National League batting crowns, was a three-time MVP and helped the Cardinals capture three World Series championships in the 1940s.He spent his entire 22-year career with the Cardinals and made the All-Star team 24 times -- baseball held two All-Star games each summer for a few seasons. He had been the longest-tenured living Hall of Famer."Stan will be remembered in baseball annals as one of the pillars of our game," Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson said. "The mold broke with Stan. There will never be another like him."A pitcher in the low minors until he injured his arm, Musial turned to playing the outfield and first base. It was a stroke of luck for him, as he went on to hit .331 with 475 home runs before retiring in 1963.Widely considered the greatest Cardinals player ever, Musial was the first person in team history to have his number retired. Ol' 6 probably was the most popular, too, especially after Albert Pujols skipped town."I will cherish my friendship with Stan for as long as I live," Pujols wrote on Twitter. "Rest in Peace."At the suggestion of a pal, actor John Wayne, Musial carried around autographed cards of himself to give away. He enjoyed doing magic tricks for kids and was fond of pulling out a harmonica to entertain crowds with a favorite, "The Wabash Cannonball."Scandal-free and eager to play every day, Musial struck a chord with fans throughout America's heartland and beyond. For much of his career, St. Louis was the most western outpost in the majors, and the Cardinals' vast radio network spread word about him in all directions.Farmers in the field and families on the porch would tune in, as did a future president -- Bill Clinton recalled doing his homework listening to Musial's exploits."We have lost the most beloved member of the Cardinals family," team chairman William DeWitt Jr. said.Musial's public appearances dwindled in recent years, though he took part in the pregame festivities at Busch Stadium during the 2011 postseason as the Cardinals won the World Series. And he was at the White House in February 2011 when President Barack Obama presented him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America's highest civilian honor for contributions to society.At the ceremony, President Obama said: "Stan remains to this day an icon untarnished, a beloved pillar of the community, a gentleman you'd want your kids to emulate."He certainly delivered at the plate.Musial never struck out 50 times in a season. He led the NL in most every hitting category for at least one year, except homers. He hit a career-high 39 home runs in 1948, falling one short of winning the Triple Crown."Major League Baseball has lost one of its true legends in Stan Musial, a Hall of Famer in every sense and a man who led a great American life. He was the heart and soul of the historic St. Louis Cardinals franchise for generations," Commissioner Bud Selig said. "As remarkable as Stan the Man' was on the field, he was a true gentleman in life. All of Major League Baseball mourns his passing."In all, Musial held 55 records when he retired in 1963. Fittingly, the accolades on his bronze Hall plaque start off with this fact, rather than flowery prose: "Holds many National League records ..."He played nearly until his 43rd birthday, adding to his totals. He got a hit with his final swing, sending an RBI single past Cincinnati's rookie second baseman -- that was Pete Rose, who would break Musial's league hit record of 3,630 some 18 years later.Of those hits, Musial got exactly 1,815 at home and exactly 1,815 on the road. He also finished with 1,951 RBIs and scored 1,949 runs.All that balance despite a most unorthodox left-handed stance. Legs and knees close together, he would cock the bat near his ear and twist his body away from the pitcher. When the ball came, he uncoiled.Unusual, that aspect of Musial.Asked to describe the habits that kept him in baseball for so long, Musial once said: "Get eight hours of sleep regularly. Keep your weight down, run a mile a day. If you must smoke, try light cigars. They cut down on inhaling."One last thing, he said: "Make it a point to bat .300."As for how he did that, Musial offered a secret."I consciously memorized the speed at which every pitcher in the league threw his fastball, curve, and slider," he said. "Then, I'd pick up the speed of the ball in the first 30 feet of its flight and knew how it would move once it has crossed the plate."It worked pretty well, considering Musial began his baseball career as a pitcher in the low minors. And by his account, as he said during his induction speech in Cooperstown, an injury had left him as a "dead, left-handed pitcher just out of Class D."Hoping to still reach the majors, he turned to another position. It was just the change he needed.Musial made his major league debut late in 1941, the season that Williams batted .406 for the Boston Red Sox and DiMaggio hit in a record 56 straight games for the New York Yankees.Musial never expressed regret or remorse that he didn't attract more attention than the cool DiMaggio or prickly Williams. Fact is, Musial was plenty familiar in every place he played.Few could bring themselves to boo baseball's nicest superstar, not even the Brooklyn Dodgers crowds that helped give him his nickname, a sign of weary respect for his .359 batting average at Ebbets Field.Many, many years before any sports fans yelled "You're the man!" at their favorite athletes, Stan was indeed the Man.Dodgers pitcher Preacher Roe once joked about how to handle Musial: "I throw him four wide ones and then I try to pick him off first base."Brooklynites had another reason to think well of Musial: Unlike Enos Slaughter and other Cardinals teammates, he was supportive when the Dodgers' Jackie Robinson broke baseball's color barrier in 1947. Bob Gibson, who started out with the Cardinals in the late 1950s, would recall how Musial had helped establish a warm atmosphere between blacks and whites on the team."I knew Stan very well," Mays said. "He used to take care of me at All-Star games, 24 of them. He was a true gentleman who understood the race thing and did all he could."Like DiMaggio and Williams, Musial embodied a time when the greats stayed with one team. He joined the Cardinals during the last remnants of the Gas House Gang and stayed in St. Louis until Gibson and Curt Flood ushered in a new era of greatness."Sad to hear about Stan the Man, it's an honor to wear the same uniform," current Cardinals slugger Matt Holliday tweeted.The only year Musial missed with the Cardinals was 1945, when he was in the U.S. Navy during World War II. He was based in Pearl Harbor, assigned to a unit that helped with ship repair.Before and after his military service, he was a star hitter."St. Louis has been lucky to have a player like Stan Musial. He will always be Mr. Baseball," Hall of Fame Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog said. "It's a very big loss. You can go around the world and you'll never find a better human being than Stan Musial."Musial was the NL MVP in 1943, 1946 and 1948, and was runner-up four other years. He enjoyed a career remarkably free of slumps, controversies or rivalries."Stan was a favorite in Cooperstown, from his harmonica rendition of Take Me Out to the Ball Game' during Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonies, to the reverence he commanded among other Hall of Fame members and all fans of the game. More than just a baseball hero, Stan was an American icon and we will very much miss him in Cooperstown," Hall of Fame chairman Jane Forbes Clark said.The Cardinals were dominant early in Musial's career. They beat DiMaggio and the Yankees in the 1942 World Series, lost to the Yankees the next year and defeated the St. Louis Browns in 1944. In 1946, the Cardinals beat Williams and the visiting Red Sox in Game 7 at Sportsman's Park.Musial, mostly a left fielder then, starred with Terry Moore in center and Slaughter, another future Hall of Famer, in right, making up one of baseball's greatest outfields. Later on, Musial would switch between the outfield and first base.Musial never played on another pennant winner after 1946. Yet even after the likes of Mays, Mickey Mantle and Hank Aaron came to the majors, Musial remained among baseball's best.The original Musial statue outside the new Busch Stadium is a popular meeting place before games and carries this inscription: "Here stands baseball's perfect warrior. Here stands baseball's perfect knight.""Everybody's a Musial fan," Herzog once said.Musial gave the press little to write about beyond his grace and greatness on the field. He didn't date movie stars, spike opponents or chew out reporters or umpires.In 1958, he reached the 3,000-hit level and became the NL's first 100,000-a-year player. Years earlier, he had turned down a huge offer to join the short-lived Mexican League. He never showed resentment over the multimillion dollar salaries of modern players. He thought they had more fun in his days."I enjoyed coming to the ballpark every day and I think we enjoyed the game," Musial said in a 1991 Associated Press interview. "We had a lot of train travel, so we had more time together. We socialized quite a bit and we'd go out after ballgames."He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1969, his first year of eligibility."It was, you know, a dream come true," Musial once said. "I always wanted to be a ballplayer."After retiring as a player, Musial served for years in the Cardinals' front office, including as general manager in 1967, when the Cardinals won the World Series.In the 1970s, he occasionally played in Old-Timers' Day games and could still line the ball to the wall. He was a fixture for decades at the Cooperstown induction ceremonies and also was a member of the Hall's Veterans Committee. Often, after the Vets panel had voted, he'd pull out a harmonica conveniently located in his jacket pocket and lead the other members in a rendition of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game."Into the 2000s, Musial would spend time with the Cardinals at spring training, thrilling veterans and rookies alike with his stories.Ever ready, he performed the national anthem on his harmonica at least one opening day at Busch Stadium. Musial learned his music during overnight train trips in the 1940s and in the 1990s was a member of a trio known as "Geriatric Jazz" and collaborated on a harmonica instructional book.Stanley Frank Musial was born in Donora, Pa., on Nov. 21, 1920, son of a Polish immigrant steelworker. He began his minor league career straight out of high school, in June 1938, and soon after married high school sweetheart Lillian Labash, with whom he had four children.Musial fell in 1940 while trying to make a tough catch and hurt his left arm, damaging his pitching prospects. Encouraged by minor league manager Dickie Kerr to try playing the outfield, he did so well in 1941 that the Cardinals moved him up to the majors in mid-September -- and he racked up a .426 average during the final weeks of the season.In his best year, 1948, he had four five-hit games and batted .376, best in the National League. He also led his league that year in runs scored (135), hits (230), total bases (429), doubles (46), and triples (18).In 1954, he set a major league record with five home runs in a doubleheader against the New York Giants. He hit .300 or better in 16 consecutive seasons and hit a record six home runs in All-Star play, including a 12th-inning, game-winning shot in 1955.In 1962, at age 41, he batted .330 and hit 19 home runs. In his final game, on Sept. 29, 1963, he had two hits at Busch Stadium against the Reds and the Cardinals retired his uniform number.He was active in business, too. He served as a director of the St. Louis-based Southwest Bank. He was co-owner of a popular St. Louis steakhouse, "Stan Musial and Biggie's," and a bowling alley with former teammate Joe Garagiola (leading to a bitter fallout that eventually got resolved). He later ran Stan the Man Inc., specializing in merchandise he autographed. Musial was known for handing out folded 1 bills.A prominent Polish-American, he was a charter member of the National Polish-American Sports Hall of Fame and was warmly regarded by his ancestral country, which in 2000 dedicated Stan Musial Stadium in Kutno, Poland. Musial also was involved politically, campaigning for John F. Kennedy in 1960 and serving as Lyndon Johnson's director of the President's Council on Physical Fitness.Musial's versatility was immortalized in verse, by popular poet of the times Ogden Nash, who in "The Tycoon" wrote of the Cardinals star and entrepreneur:"And, between the slugging and the greeting,To the bank for a directors' meeting.Yet no one grudges success to Stan,Good citizen and family man,Though I would love to have his jobOne half tycoon, one half Ty Cobb."The Cardinals said Musial is survived by his four children, Richard, Gerry, Janet and Jean, as well as 11 grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren.Musial's wife died in May 2012.Funeral arrangements had not yet been finalized, the Cardinals said. The team set up a memorial site around one of Musial's statues at Busch Stadium.Earl Weaver dies at 82BALTIMORE (AP) -- Earl Weaver always was up for an argument, especially with an umpire.At the slightest provocation, the Earl of Baltimore would spin his hat back, point his finger squarely at an ump's chest and then fire away. The Hall of Fame manager would even tangle with his own players, if necessary.All this from a 5-foot-6 pepperpot who hated to be doubted.Although reviled by some, Weaver was beloved in Baltimore and remained an Oriole to the end.The notoriously feisty Hall of Fame manager died at age 82 on a Caribbean cruise associated with the Orioles, his marketing agent said Saturday."Earl was a black and white manager," former O's ace and Hall of Fame member Jim Palmer said. "He kind of told you what your job description was going to be and kind of basically told you if you wanted to play on the Orioles, this was what you needed to do. And if you couldn't do it, I'll get someone else. I know that's kind of tough love, but I don't think anyone other than Marianna, his wife, would describe Earl as a warm and fuzzy guy."Baseball lost another Hall of Famer later Saturday when longtime St. Louis Cardinals star Stan Musial died at age 92.Weaver took the Orioles to the World Series four times over 17 seasons but won only one title, in 1970. His .583 winning percentage ranks fifth among managers who served 10 or more seasons in the 20th century.Dick Gordon said Weaver's wife told him that Weaver went back to his cabin after dinner and began choking between 10:30 and 11 Friday night. Gordon said a cause of death has not been determined."It's a sad day. Earl was a terrific manager," Orioles vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said. "The simplicity and clarity of his leadership and his passion for baseball was unmatched. He's a treasure for the Orioles. He leaves a terrific legacy of winning baseball with the Orioles and we're so grateful for his contribution. He has a legacy that will live on."Weaver will forever remain a part of Camden Yards. A statue of him was dedicated last summer in the stadium's flag court, along with the rest of the team's Hall of Fame members."Earl Weaver stands alone as the greatest manager in the history of the Orioles organization and one of the greatest in the history of baseball," Orioles owner Peter Angelos said. "This is a sad day for everyone who knew him and for all Orioles fans. Earl made his passion for the Orioles known both on and off the field. On behalf of the Orioles, I extend my condolences to his wife, Marianna, and to his family."Weaver was a salty-tongued manager who preferred to wait for a three-run homer rather than manufacture a run with a stolen base or a bunt. While some baseball purists argued that strategy, no one could dispute the results."Earl was well known for being one of the game's most colorful characters with a memorable wit, but he was also amongst its most loyal," Commissioner Bud Selig said. "On behalf of Major League Baseball, I send my deepest condolences to his wife, Marianna, their family and all Orioles fans."Weaver had a reputation as a winner, but umpires knew him as a hothead. Weaver would often turn his hat backward and yell directly into an umpire's face to argue a call or a rule, and after the inevitable ejection he would more often than not kick dirt on home plate or on the umpire's shoes.Orioles programs sold at the old Memorial Stadium frequently featured photos of Weaver squabbling.He was ejected 91 times, including once in both games of a doubleheader.Asked once if his reputation might have harmed his chances to gain entry into the Hall of Fame, Weaver admitted, "It probably hurt me."Not for long. He entered the Hall in 1996."When you discuss our game's motivational masters, Earl is a part of that conversation," Baseball Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson said. "He was a proven leader in the dugout and loved being a Hall of Famer. Though small in stature, he was a giant as a manager."His ejections were overshadowed by his five 100-win seasons, six AL East titles and four pennants. Weaver was inducted 10 years after he managed his final game with Baltimore at the end of an ill-advised comeback.In 1985, the Orioles' owner at the time, Edward B. Williams, coaxed Weaver away from golf to take over a struggling squad. Weaver donned his uniform No. 4, which had already been retired by the team, and tried to breathe some life into the listless Orioles.Baltimore went 53-52 over the last half of the 1985 season, but finished seventh in 1986 with a 73-89 record. It was Weaver's only losing season as a major-league manager, and he retired for good after that."If I hadn't come back," Weaver said after his final game, "I would be home thinking what it would have been like to manage again. I found out it's work."Former umpire Don Denkinger said he called one of Weaver's last games in the majors."He comes to home plate before the game and says, Gentlemen, I'm done.' He told us the only way he'd ever come back is if he ran out of money," Denkinger told The Associated Press by phone from Arizona. "I told him that if he ever ran out of money to call the umpires' association and we'd take up a collection for him. We'd do anything, just to keep him off the field and away from us."Weaver finished with a 1,480-1,060 record. He won Manager of the Year three times."I had a successful career, not necessarily a Hall of Fame career, but a successful one," he said.Weaver came to the Orioles as a first base coach in 1968, took over as manager on July 11 and went on to become the winningest manager in the history of the franchise."Earl was such a big part of Orioles baseball and personally he was a very important part of my life and career and a great friend to our family," Hall of Fame shortstop Cal Ripken said. "His passion for the game and the fire with which he managed will always be remembered by baseball fans everywhere and certainly by all of us who had the great opportunity to play for him. Earl will be missed but he can't and won't be forgotten."He knew almost everything about the game. He was also a great judge of human character, and that's one of the main reasons why he was loved by a vast majority of his players even though he often rode them mercilessly from spring training into October."Did we have a love-hate relationship? Yes," Palmer said at Saturday's event. "Did he shake my hand after I would win? No. Because he didn't want to be my best friend. At the time maybe I resented that. But I've gotten over it."Pat Dobson, who died in 2006, pitched two seasons under Weaver."Certainly, the years I played for him were the two most enjoyable years I've had," he said.During games Weaver smoked cigarettes in the tunnel leading to the dugout and he never kicked the habit. He suffered a mild heart attack in August 1998, and the Orioles' manager at the time, Ray Miller, wondered aloud how his mentor was holding up."I wouldn't want to talk to him if he hasn't had a cigarette in 10 days," Miller joked. "They've probably got him tied to a chair."Umpires found out just how demonstrative Weaver could be. Denkinger remembered a game in which the manager disputed a call with Larry McCoy at the plate."Earl tells us, Now I'm gonna show you how stupid you all are.' Earl goes down to first base and ejects the first base umpire. Then he goes to second base and ejects the second base umpire. I'm working third base and now he comes down and ejects me," Denkinger said.Much later, after they were retired, the umpire asked Weaver to sign a photo of that episode."He said absolutely. I sent it to him, he signed it and said some really nice things. It's framed and hanging up in my office back home in Iowa," Denkinger said.Weaver was a brilliant manager, but he never made it to the majors as a player. He finally quit after spending 13 years as a second baseman in the St. Louis organization."He talked about how he could drive in 100 runs a year, score 100 runs and never make an error," said Davey Johnson, who played under Weaver in the minor leagues and with the Orioles from 1965-72. "He said he never got to the big leagues because the Cardinals had too many good players in front of him."He still made his mark on the big leagues."No one managed a ballclub or pitching staff better than Earl," said Johnson, who manages the Washington Nationals, and ran the Orioles from 1996-97. "He was decades ahead of his time. Not a game goes by that I don't draw on something Earl did or said. I will miss him every day."
The Chicago Bears have completely flipped the narrative of their 2019 season over the last three weeks, thanks in large part to Matt Nagy's offense finally resembling the 202-level that was promised last summer.
It may have taken quarterback Mitch Trubisky a little longer than expected to arrive this year, but if his last two games are an indication of his development in his second season under Nagy's tutelage, the Bears have a bonafide quarterback. And it's been a while since that could be said.
"Mitchell Trubisky is hot, there's no doubt about it," NBC Sports NFL analyst Chris Simms said Thursday. "He seems so much more comfortable. Decisive. He's accurate with the football. Running around at the proper time. I don't think it was all Mitchell Trubisky's fault with the struggles of the offense, either."
Those struggles spanned the first half of 2019 when Chicago seemed incapable of sustaining drives or scoring points. It began with Week 1's three-point output against the Packers and continued through Thanksgiving Day when Trubisky finally got his mojo back, throwing for 338 yards and three touchdowns.
With Trubisky clicking, and the running game receiving a jolt from rookie David Montgomery's productive back-to-back weeks in which he's averaged more than four yards per carry in successive games for the first time all year, the Bears appear capable of beating just about anyone.
They'll need to. If Chicago wants to keep their weak playoff pulse going, they have to win-out. And that includes games against the Packers, Chiefs and Vikings.
The odds seem stacked against them, and it's their own fault. It took way too long to get the offense going, but it's better late than never.
According to Simms, the Bears are that team no one wants to play.
"They're a dangerous team right now. They really are."
Whether the Cubs trade a member of their position player core this winter — i.e. Kris Bryant, Willson Contreras — is to be determined. Both have been fixtures in rumors this offseason, and the Cubs may make a deal to replenish their barren farm system and retool their roster with the organization’s long-term stability in mind.
Yu Darvish, on the other hand, is a different story.
No, the Cubs won’t be trading Darvish this winter, despite the inquiries they received at the Winter Meetings this week, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
A year ago, this would be an entirely different conversation. Darvish was coming off a disappointing debut season on the North Side in which he made eight starts and posted a 4.95 ERA in 40 innings. He didn’t throw a single big-league pitch after May 20 due to a lingering arm issue that led to surgery last November.
2019 was only Year 2 of the lucrative six-year contract Darvish signed in February 2018. But between the injury and his struggles before it that season, the narrative entering 2019 was shifting towards Darvish being a potential bust.
The narrative around Darvish is obviously much different now, thanks to the stellar second half performance he put together last season. In 13 starts, the 33-year-old delivered a 2.76 ERA, striking out 118 batters compared to a mere seven walks in 81 2/3 innings.
Not only was Darvish walking the walk, but he was talking the talk. He was determined to turn things around after posting a 5.01 ERA in the first half, asking then manager Joe Maddon to start the Cubs’ first game after the All-Star break. The result? Six innings of two-hit, no-run ball with eight strikeouts and one walk. Darvish's comeback was officially on.
Bust? Darvish is far from it now. He opted in to the remaining four years of his contract earlier this offseason, calling the Cubs "perfect" for him.
If the Cubs were entering a rebuild, fielding Darvish trade offers would make plenty of sense. He's owed $81 million through 2023, a bargain compared to the deals Gerrit Cole (nine years, $324 million — Yankees) and Stephen Strasburg (seven years, $245 million — Nationals) earned this offseason. Darvish's contract is desirable, and trading him would help alleviate the Cubs' notoriously tight payroll situation, freeing up money for them to put towards other needs.
But the Cubs aren’t rebuilding, and trading Darvish would create a tremendous hole in a rotation with plenty of uncertainty after next season. José Quintana is set to hit free agency after 2020 and Jon Lester could join him, if his 2021 option doesn’t vest (he must pitch 200 innings next season for that to occur). Heck, even Tyler Chatwood's deal is up after 2020.
In one season, Darvish has elevated himself to the No. 1 pitcher in the Cubs rotation. The Cubs won't be better next season if they trade Bryant or Contreras, but they'd still be competitive and acquire assets for the future.
One player doesn't make a team in baseball, but the Cubs need Darvish in their rotation, not someone else's. Unless they're absolutely blown away by a trade offer, Darvish isn't going anywhere.