White Sox

Vitters debuts, Cubs playing spoiler

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Vitters debuts, Cubs playing spoiler

Spoiler alert: The Cubs arent going to make this playoffs this year.

OK, theres no surprise or secret to that statement, but the Cubs hope to play spoilers as they play out the final 52 games of their season.

Thursdays 5-3 come-from-behind win against NL Central-leading Cincinnati was a nice start after eight straight losses. Ruining other teams October plans is the only thing the Cubs can accomplish this season other than develop their young players. And it might even help with the latter. Playing spoiler is fun.

"To knock people out of the playoffs when you're not in the pennant race, those are the things you play for as a player, Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Friday.

Its another day, another debut for the Cubs on Friday against the Reds. Third baseman Josh Vitters makes his Wrigley Field debut and bats sixth, behind Alfonso Soriano and in front of center fielder Brett Jackson, who debuted last weekend in Los Angeles.

Vitters is just 1 for 10 with a double in four games, but thats about average for a first few days in the big leagues.

"When you've got young guys on the team, you're going to go through some tough times, Sveum said. But they have to play. There's only a select few people that step into the big leagues that just dominate or even do well.

First baseman Anthony Rizzo, with his nine home runs and 24 RBI in just 27 games, might seem to be one of those guys, but Rizzo had a horrid first few months after being called up by San Diego last year.

All the Cubs young players are playing to prove themselves day in and day out. And though thats big-time pressure, the fun of playing spoiler might take off some of the edge.

Daily White Sox prospects update: Gavin Sheets hits his first homer of 2018

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

Daily White Sox prospects update: Gavin Sheets hits his first homer of 2018

Here's your daily update on what the White Sox highly touted prospects are doing in the minor leagues.

Class A Winston-Salem

Gavin Sheets hit his first home run of the season in a 12-4 loss. While it's taken him this long to hit his first ball out of the park, Sheets has a .380 on-base percentage and his 24 walks make for one of the top 10 totals in the Carolina League. Blake Rutherford doubled in this one, while Sheets, Rutherford, Alex Call and Luis Alexander Basabe combined to draw five walks.

Class A Kannapolis

Luis Gonzalez and Evan Skoug each had a hit in a 9-3 win.

Triple-A Charlotte

Charlie Tilson had two hits in a 9-3 loss.

How the new kickoff rule may impact the Bears

How the new kickoff rule may impact the Bears

NFL owners voted for sweeping changes to the kickoff play Tuesday, a decision that presents a new challenge for Bears special teams coach Chris Tabor.

Player safety was the focus of the rule change. Collisions will be reduced and the play will look more like a punt than the traditional kickoff fans have become used to. Here's a breakdown of what's coming in 2018:

With less contact and physicality in the play, Tabor's game planning will be tested. Kickoffs won't require as many power players like the ones traditionally seen in the wedge block. Skill players like receivers, running backs and tight ends could be viewed as more valuable special teams pieces, as was suggested by NFL Network's Bucky Brooks.

Tarik Cohen could become even more lethal under the new rules. If kick returners end up with more space to navigate, Cohen will improve on the 583 return yards he managed as a rookie. He'll conjure memories of the recently retired Devin Hester.

The ability to contribute on special teams is critically important for players on the roster bubble. It'll be interesting to see if the Bears apply the approach suggested by Brooks. If they do, undrafted players like Matt Fleming and John Franklin III suddenly have more value and a better chance to make the team. 

For a complete breakdown of the new kickoff rule, click here.