Cubs

Weather could have major effect on Fall Classic

565280.jpg

Weather could have major effect on Fall Classic

From Comcast SportsNet
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Nolan Ryan kept tracking the storm, aware the radar showed green blobs moving closer and closer to Rangers Ballpark. Explaining the threat of rain, Big Tex sounded totally in his element. "There's a disturbance out in West Texas," the Rangers president pointed out before a recent playoff game. "I'm not a meteorologist, but they're talking about the south-to-north line." "So does it lose some of its energy?" he said. "I think there's going to be some heat build-up showers, popup showers." Playfully, someone asked Ryan whether he could do that well in front of a map. Kind of like a real-live weatherman. "You know, if this job doesn't work out," the CEO, president and part-owner of the Texas Rangers said, "maybe they could use somebody." With Texas and St. Louis starting up the World Series this week, Major League Baseball might take the help. The forecast for Game 1 Wednesday night at Busch Stadium was daunting: Temperatures dropping through the 40s, a decent chance of rain, a lot of wind. Play or Ppd? Talk about October pressure -- the barometric kind, that is. After a season that included more than 50 rainouts, MLB's highest total since 1997, bad weather intruded in the playoffs. A game at Yankee Stadium was stopped in the second inning and suspended until the following day. A game at Texas was postponed because rain was lingering -- too bad for the teams and fans, those showers never came. Getting it exactly right isn't easy, Paul Gross said. He's a meteorologist with WDIV-TV in Detroit and has been helping the Tigers with their forecasts since the days when Sparky Anderson was their manager. "There is a tremendous amount of weather information on the Internet these days. Everyone has access to it, everyone can try to be a weatherman," he said. "But the average person, without any formal training in meteorology, doesn't understand that things can change very dramatically." "We have a joke in this business: 'Don't try this at home,'" he said. No matter, check the stands at any ballpark when the skies turn dark. Fans whip out their cell phones, put the maps in motion and make their own predictions. Players, too, turn into amateur weathermen. Boston slugger David Ortiz has been known to dial up the radar and study the multicolored blobs and bands that show precipitation. In Michigan, Gross said, the breezes off the Great Lakes can cause sudden shifts. The challenge is trying to plot them, seeing if those oft-invoked "windows" will show up. During the 2006 World Series, Gross found himself in a room with MLB officials and managers Tony La Russa of the Cardinals and Jim Leyland of the Tigers. Rain was dotting the area and everyone wanted to know whether it would dampen Comerica Park. "People often ask about scattered showers, whether it will rain on them," he said. "I tell them it's like I'm holding a handful of coins in the living room. If I toss them in the air, I know that they'll definitely come down on the rug. I just can't be sure where." Keeping people safe at the stadium is the main goal, Gross said. Lightning can pose a particular danger -- "remember, you have electronics on the field for pregame festivities," Gross said. The Cardinals and Rangers, like many other teams, consult with local meteorologists for forecasts. MLB checks the computer, relying on WeatherBug.com. "It also looks at other services, too," said Katy Feeney, senior vice president in the commissioner's office. "They'll also talk to the ground crew, who'll look at their radar. But the meteorologist Major League Baseball uses is WeatherBug." When it comes to decide whether to postpone or suspend a postseason game, a lot of people are in the room. Club executives, umpires, television officials and MLB representatives can all express opinions -- ultimately, baseball makes the call. Texas starter C.J. Wilson was set to pitch at Busch Stadium for the first time in Game 1. "Well, Texas and St. Louis have similar summer climates. It's humid, it's hot," he said. "I haven't really pitched in cold weather too often, but you wear sleeves and put on a jacket in the dugout and that's pretty much all you can do." Chris Carpenter was ready to start the opener for the Cardinals. "You deal with weather like this in the beginning of the season. It's no different. Go out and pitch," he said. "I'm going to be nice and warm anyways because I'll be all warmed up doing my thing, and I'm not concerned about what the weather is doing, unless it's raining and we don't get to play. That's no fun. Hopefully, it doesn't do that."

Maybe the early exit was just what the Cubs needed

Maybe the early exit was just what the Cubs needed

A year ago, the Cubs world was in essentially the exact same place — trying to find answers for a season that ended earlier than expected.

There was only one difference: Time.

The 2018 Cubs woke up on the morning of Oct. 22 having been out of action almost three full weeks. That's a long time in terms of decompressing, letting your body heal and evaluating what went wrong.

A year ago today, Ben Zobrist was in the midst of trying to heal his ailing wrist after a third straight trip deep into the postseason.

A year ago today, Theo Epstein was roughly 48 hours removed from his annual end-of-season eulogy.

A year ago today, Kris Bryant was trying to catch his breath after what he called the most draining campaign of his life.

Yet we woke up Monday morning 19 full days removed from the latest iteration of Epstein's end-of-season eulogy, Zobrist is making light-hearted Instagram videos and Bryant is already nearly three weeks into the process of letting his left shoulder heal completely and adding strength.

Of course, that trio of Cubs figures would gladly trade in these extra few weeks of time off for another shot at the NL pennant, even if they fell short in the NLCS again.

Still, there's a lot of value in extra time off, especially after three straight falls where they went deep into October playing high-stress baseball. The Cubs absolutely will go in 2019 much fresher than they went into this year's spring training.

For example, Jon Lester threw 8.1 fewer innings this October than 2017 and 29.2 fewer innings than 2016. Zobrist played 8 fewer games this October than 2018 and 16 fewer than 2016 (he also won the World Series in 2015 as a member of the Kansas City Royals). That matters when players' ages start creeping up into the mid-to-late 30s.

It shouldn't take the sting out of the disappointing end to 2018 for the Cubs or their fans, but extra time off for these guys is certainly not a bad thing. 

The Cubs have already gotten the ball rolling on offseason changes, including replacing Chili Davis at hitting coach with Anthony Iapoce

On top of that, each individual player has now had enough time to evaluate why or how they went wrong offensively down the stretch.

"A full winter — especially this extra month that we unfortunately have — is a luxury in baseball," Epstein said. "There are things that come up all the time during the course of the season with teams and with individual players that you say, 'We'd love to address.' But that's so hard to address during the season because there's always another game tomorrow. 

"Guys are surviving. We have to wait 'til the offseason, then we can get right physically, then we can wade into the mental game, then we can address this swing change, then we can handle this fundamental. Well, we now have that luxury — unfortunately — of a full offseason. How do we take full advantage of this so we're never in this position again?

"We don't want to be a part of an offensive collapse in the second half again. We don't want to be part of losing a division lead late again. We don't want to be part of looking back and recognizing that, gosh, maybe a greater sense of urgency from Game 1 through 162 would've led to one more game and then we're still playing. We don't want to be part of that ever again, so we need to make good use of this time."

The early exit also helps to create a chip on the shoulder for each member of the organization. It's hard to see the Cubs spending much time in 2019 lacking the same "urgency" they had this summer. The painful NL Wild-Card loss will leave a bad taste in their mouths that can carry over all the way until next October. 

Like Lester said, sometimes you "need to get your dick knocked in the dirt in order to appreciate where you're at." 

We saw that play out on the North Side of Chicago from 2015 into 2016 and Cole Hamels has seen this script before with a young core of players in Philadelphia.

In 2007, the Phillies made the playoffs, but were swept out of the NLDS by the Colorado Rockies. They rebounded to win the World Series the next fall over Joe Maddon's Tampa Bay Rays.

"That [2007 sweep] really kind of taught us what the postseason experience was and what it was to not just play to the end of the season and instead to play to the end of the postseason," Hamels said. "This is a tremendous experience for a lot of guys and you have to go through the hardships before you get to enjoy the big moments.

"I know there's a lot of players here that have won a World Series, but there's also a lot that didn't have that sort of participation that you would kind of look towards, so I think this is great for them. 

"It's exciting to see what they're gonna be able to do next year and the year after that because this is a tremendous team here with the talent that they have. It's gonna be a great couple years."

No, it actually doesn't make sense for the Bears to trade for Patrick Peterson

No, it actually doesn't make sense for the Bears to trade for Patrick Peterson

Things around the NFL got real  interesting this morning: 

Between Paterson's strong language and the fact that the Cardinals are one of the three-worst teams in the NFL this season, it seems like a pretty safe bet that this trade happens. 

As is tradition, each NFL team's fanbase started tweetin' about it: 

The guess here is that this trade caught Bears fans at exactly the wrong time. Between Brock Osweiler's 380 YDS, 3 TD game and Tom Brady's 277 YDS, 3 TD performance, people aren't exactly clamoring to buy stock in the Bears' passing defense right now. 

As of Week 6, however, the Bears pass defense ranked 1st in DVOA. No one was better. Granted, that's not where they'll be when DVOA is updated to reflect the last two games, but bailing on the Bears' pass D after two games (although a case could be made that their pass D wasn't THAT bad against New England) is foolish. There's also the fact that the Bears' secondary is already super-talented, highlighed by Bryce Callahan and Eddie Jackson both making it onto Pro Football Focus' first quarter All-Pro team. Granted, Kyle Fuller's had a slow start and Prince Amukamara hasn't been able to stay on the field, but the depth and talent of the Bears' secondary won't be their downfall. 

Positional need aside, the money just doesn't make sense for Chicago. First and foremost, the Bears just probably don't have what they'd need to bring in Peterson. According to Sportrac, the Bears have roughly $5.4 million in cap space this season - good for 23rd in the NFL (not that rank really matters, but just to give you an idea). 

That's not technically a deal breaker when it comes to Paterson, whose $11 million base salary is actually around $5.2 million once you prorate it for the first eight weeks of the year. So, if the Bears *wanted* to make a move for Peterson, the space is there. 

With that said, Peterson would come at a price that the Bears most likely don't have the luxury of affording. As of today, the market for trading top-tier secondary players has probably been set by this winter's Marcus Peters deal. In that trade, the Chiefs sent Peters and a sixth-round pick for one 4th-round pick this year and a 2nd round pick the following. As it stands, the Bears don't currently have anything better than a 4th-round pick until 2021. They definitely don't have the draft capital to match the Peters deal -- which was actually considered a light return at the time. 

And sure, the Bears could come at the Cardinals with a package built around current players, but why would that interest Arizona? Would a rebuilding team be THAT interested in Leonard Floyd, or some sort of Kevin White-Proven Vet combo? There's no incentive for the Cardinals to listen to any offer that doesn't include high round draft capital, and the Bears can't offer that. Paterson on the Bears would be an embarrassment of riches, but not one that the Bears can realistically swing.