Cubs

Word on the Street: Sports Illustrated cover jinx?

Word on the Street: Sports Illustrated cover jinx?

Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011
CSNChicago.com

Sports Illustrated cover jinx?

The latest issue of Sports Illustrated has superstitious Bears fans cringing. The cover features Jay Cutler, Roberto Garza, and Olin Kreutz with the headline, "Bring on the Packers." If that's not enough of a curse, the added fact that this is Cutler's first time on the cover has left fans a bit unsettled.

The Sports Illustrated Cover Jinx is the theory that anyone who appears on the cover will have bad luck afterwards.

But fear not: Michael Jordan was featured on the cover 49 times and had no trouble winning six NBA championships and MVP trophies. Plus, members of the 1985 Bears were on the cover two weeks in a row before beating the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XX.

Jones signs with Yankees

Andruw Jones is headed to New York. The outfielder and the Yankees have agreed to a one-year, 2 million deal, containing 1.2 million in performance-based incentives.

Jones had a weak .230 average with the White Sox last year, but managed a .931 OPS against left-handers. On the field he'll be an upgrade from Marcus Thames, who occupied the fourth outfielder spot last season. (New York Post)

Sayers has got no love for Urlacher

Former Bears star Gale Sayers once questioned the current Bears team's talent level and potential. Brian Urlacher was quick to respond saying, "How many championships did Gale Sayers win?"

After hearing that Dick Butkus recently said Urlacher was the best middle linebacker ever to play of the Bears, Sayers disagreed.

"Never! Never!" Sayers said. "Don't even try that! Don't even try that! Hey, Dick Butkus is blowing smoke! He knows! He knows who's the best ever and that's Dick Butkus!"

Sayers went on to say that Mike Singletary was a superior player than Urlacher, because Urlacher does not have "the pure instinct that Singletary had." (ChicagoBreakingSports)

Blackhawks icons to be featured at Chamber gala

Current president of the Chicago Blackhawks John McDonough will be the keynote speaker at the McLean County Chamber's annual gala Jan. 29 at the DoubleTree & Conference Center in Bloomington. He will speak on the topic of change management and the success that can come to those who embrace it.

McDonough will be joined by Blackhawks legend Bobby Hull, who is scheduled to make a few remarks and sign autographs. (FoxSports.com)

Villanova's Szczur reaches an agreement with Cubs

Two-sport standout Matt Szczur announced that he has reached an agreement with the Chicago Cubs. He will continue to play in the Cubs organization under a minor league contract. He was originally selected by the Cubs in the fifth round of the 2010 Draft.

The agreements marks his commitment to a future in professional baseball, forgoing seeking possible professional football opportunities. For the past four years, Szczur has starred as both a baseball and a football student athlete for Villanova. (Villanova.com)

Ty the sea lion picks Bears over Packers

A sea lion follows President Barack Obama's NFC Championship prediction. Ty the Sea Lion was quick to select the Bears today at the Shedd Aquarium. He made a beeline dash for the Bears logo held in his trainer's right hand when asked who would win.

He also revealed his distaste for the Packers as he stuck out his tongue when asked what he thought of the Green Bay team. (FoxSports.com)

Cubs' Twitter trolls Brewers, Christian Yelich after Yu Darvish's stellar start

Cubs' Twitter trolls Brewers, Christian Yelich after Yu Darvish's stellar start

The Cubs' Twitter account has been saving this one for nine months.

First, let us present you with this doozy of a tweet from the Cubs after Thursday's 4-2 win over Milwaukee.

If you recall, Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich went at Cubs pitcher Yu Darvish on Twitter last November. A since-deleted tweet from Yelich's account to Darvish read "nobody needs help facing you."

A video circulated in November that showed Darvish step off the rubber while Yelich was in the batter's box during a 2019 Cubs-Brewers game. Some suggested Darvish stepped off because Yelich's eyes moved, also suggesting Yelich was looking for signs stolen via technology.

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In response to the video, Darvish explained his actions from that game, clarifying he wasn't accusing Milwaukee of stealing signs.

Here we are nearly a year later, the Cubs' Twitter playing off Yelich's tweet after Darvish dominated Milwaukee. He took a no-hitter into the seventh inning, allowing a hit (a solo homer) and two walks while striking out 11.

If you're wondering, Yelich went 0-for-2 with a hit by pitch against Darvish on Thursday.

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Cubs rotation weathers surprise break, shakeup to be as dominant as ever

Cubs rotation weathers surprise break, shakeup to be as dominant as ever

Hair flowing out from under his cap, Yu Darvish held his right leg up at a right angle and watched Brewers’ Omar Narvaez swing late on a high fastball.

If Darvish stuck an arm out, his body would be in the shape of a K, fitting for yet another strike out.

In the Cubs’ 4-2 win against the Brewers on Thursday, Darvish allowed just one hit and one run in seven innings. In fact, in the Cubs’ past three games no starter has given up more than a run, and all pitched at least six innings.

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“It makes my job really easy,” Cubs manager David Ross said. “It’s fun to sit back and not have to worry about too much until the sixth or seventh inning.

The Cubs rotation has been a strength all season. Entering play Thursday, the Cubs starters had the third-best ERA in Major League Baseball (2.65). But this recent string of especially dominant performances came under unusual circumstances: right after a surprise four-day break.

Starting pitchers enjoy a consistent schedule through most of the season. They generally pitch every fifth or sixth day, with a bullpen in between starts.

But the postponement of the St. Louis series, due to more positive tests in the Cardinals organization, threw off that routine for the Cubs starters. The Cubs left St. Louis last Friday without having played a game.

The Cubs coaching staff had a decision to make: skip the pitchers scheduled to start in those un-played games, or shuffle the rotation? They did a little bit of both.

Jon Lester, who was originally scheduled to start last Friday, threw his regular in-between-starts bullpen on Saturday and drew the first start of the Cleveland series.

Then, the rotation picked up at the beginning. The Cubs’ first three games back had Lester, Kyle Hendricks and then Darvish taking the mound. All had dominant outings, despite the extra days rest.

"There have been so many things going on this whole year,” Hendricks said, “I think that nothing's going to faze us now.”

Having Mills and Lester swap places also split up the two most similar pitchers in the Cubs rotation. Hendricks and Mills are both soft-throwing, crafty right-handers. With Mills pitching fifth and Hendricks first, they threw on consecutive days as the rotation turned over.

Now, left-handed Lester will pitch in between the two, giving hitters a different look.

“We talked about it a little bit,” Hendricks said after his start Wednesday. “I think it's a little overblown, the effect of it. I think the last two games that I've pitched behind (Mills) I just haven't made a lot of good pitches, I was kind of off a little bit. Today I just made better pitches. ... And honestly, seeing how he attacks guys helps.”

Even so, Lester set the bar high out of the break and then Hendricks matched his one-run six innings.

“We’re not talking about it, but we’re putting pressure on each other,” Darvish said. “That’s a good pressure for us.”

On Thursday, Darvish said he stuck to mixing in his knuckle curve ball early in counts, as he’d begun to do against Pittsburgh two weeks before. He had a no-hitter going into the seventh inning Thursday but gave up a solo home run to Justin Smoak. Darvish recorded a season-high 11 strikeouts.

“I thought he had really good command of his off-speed stuff tonight,” Ross said after the game. “… Really kept them off balance. You really didn’t see a whole lot of good swings until that homer form Smoak.”

Next, the streak will be in the hands of Tyler Chatwood and Mills. Chatwood had a dud of an outing the last time he pitched, allowing eight runs on 11 hits at Kansas City. But he averaged over nine strikeouts in each of his first two outings.  And Alec Mills has a 1.38 ERA, the second best on the team, behind Lester (1.06).

Both have been integral parts of the rotation overperforming, after the Cubs front office was up front about its starting-pitching depth concerns ahead of the season.

After Thursday’s game, the Cubs rotation has improved to a 2.55 ERA, with a 12-3 record.

 

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