<![CDATA[NBC Chicago - Sports]]>Copyright 2017http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/sports http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/5-Chicago-Blue.png NBC Chicago http://www.nbcchicago.comen-usMon, 23 Oct 2017 05:31:00 -0500Mon, 23 Oct 2017 05:31:00 -0500NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Cubs Offseason Preview: Biggest Needs]]> Sun, 22 Oct 2017 21:13:50 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-863384178.jpg

The Chicago Cubs are one year removed from winning the World Series, but questions are already swirling about the offseason after the team was eliminated from the NLCS by the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday night.

The Cubs, who won their second straight National League Central crown and reached the NLCS for the third straight year this season, still have an incredibly young core of talented players, but the accompanying pieces faltered in October, and management seems poised to shake things up this offseason.

What positions will the team look to bolster? What players could find themselves competing for roles next season?

To answer that question, here are the four things the Cubs absolutely must have on their shopping list as the offseason nears.

Middle of the Rotation Starting Pitcher

The Cubs have already made a big splash this year in acquiring pitcher Jose Quintana from the Chicago White Sox, but they’re going to need to make another addition to their rotation with the likely departure of Jake Arrieta via free agency this winter.

If Arrieta does end up leaving, the Cubs will be left either dipping into the free agent pool or the trade market this offseason. Pitchers like Lance Lynn and Andrew Cashner could fit the team’s needs, but pitchers like Alex Cobb could be just out of their price range.

A big splash for someone like Shohei Otani could be possible too, but with limited international signing money, fans shouldn’t bank on his arrival in Chicago.

Lead-Off Hitter

After losing Dexter Fowler to free agency, the Cubs never really had a solid option to lead games off, as Kyle Schwarber faltered in the role and Ben Zobrist regressed into platoon status, becoming bad from the right side of the plate.

Unfortunately for the Cubs, the free agent market is pretty thin in terms of center fielders that could fill the role (likely the only defensive position where the Cubs will look to make additions this year), but if someone like Schwarber or Ian Happ is dealt for pitching help, then that could open up their options a bit on the market.


This is going to be an interesting situation. Originally, it could be argued that someone like Justin Wilson or Carl Edwards would step into the void that Wade Davis might leave if he leaves in free agency, but with their struggles this year, the closer position is much less settled.

If the Cubs do decide to go in a different direction at closer, they will have a few options, as Fernando Rodney will be on the market as well. The two guys to keep an eye on here are Greg Holland, who racked up 41 saves for the Rockies in 2017, and Brandon Morrow, who has reinvented his career as a set-up man for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Bullpen Arms

The Cubs have made it a point to stock up on as many bullpen arms as they can, and they will definitely do that after their bullpen imploded during the 2017 playoffs.

It’s hard to peg how the Cubs will approach strengthening that area of weakness this offseason, but the team will likely go the route of many other big league clubs on the market: target guys both with high velocity and with good movement on their pitches, as hitters seem to have difficulty in dealing with both of those abilities as games move along.

Pitchers like Pat Neshek could be interesting options, as could Dodgers reliever Tony Watson. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Opinion: Were the Cubs Right to Fire Bosio?]]> Sun, 22 Oct 2017 20:32:37 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-668186728.jpg

The Chicago Cubs made a big splash when they opted not to bring back pitching coach Chris Bosio next season, and in the hours following the decision, debates have been raging over whether it was the right move.

After all, several Cubs pitchers, including Jake Arrieta and Kyle Hendricks, can likely credit their career success to Bosio’s tutelage. He was the one who encouraged Arrieta to go back to the “cross-fire” method that helped lead him to the 2015 National League Cy Young Award, and he has countless other success stories on his resume.

Relievers like Trevor Cahill and Pedro Strop have also found their form thanks to Bosio’s work, and his reputation as a strong groomer of pitchers has allowed him to survive through three different managerial regimes since he was hired in 2012.

Despite that success, there were plenty of arguments to be made that Bosio needed to be shown the door. The Cubs were one of the worst teams in baseball in terms of walking batters this season, finishing with a staggering 554 free passes being issued. That was by far the worst number of any playoff team, and it came back to bite the Cubs in a bad way in the postseason, as they walked 53 batters during 10 games before being eliminated by the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Not only did the Cubs walk a ton of batters, but several relievers regressed badly this season. Justin Wilson is one of those hurlers, as he went from a closeout specialist to completely unavailable as soon as he put on the team’s uniform. He walked batters left and right and looked lost on the mound after his acquisition at the trade deadline.

Hector Rondon also had a rough season, giving up more home runs and struggling badly with his command throughout the year.

Finally, there were criticisms of Bosio’s communication skills, as he repeatedly didn’t have pitchers ready in time in the bullpen, forcing Maddon to yank pitchers in the middle of at-bats.

With all of that in mind, was it the right move to fire Bosio? The short answer is yes, but that doesn’t make the decision any easier. After all, Bosio’s successes were incredible, and no one can ever take away the fact that he was a big part of the reason why Arrieta was able to go on his Gibson-ian run at the end of the 2015 season.

Even with that being the case, cutting Bosio loose is a move that Joe Maddon and Theo Epstein have the capital to execute. Both have shown an ability to get the maximum out of their players and coaches, and if the duo feels that moving on from Bosio was the right move, then they have certainly earned the benefit of the doubt.

Obviously if the move doesn’t pan out, they will receive criticism, and rightfully so. With the team getting bounced from the postseason and having weaknesses that need to be shored up, the duo needs to be given the room to work, and this is a good example of a place where fans should trust the team’s process. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Nikolic Makes History for Chicago Fire Sunday]]> Sun, 22 Oct 2017 19:02:52 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP_17161820855533.jpg

Chicago Fire striker Nemanja Nikolic may not have scored a goal in the team’s final game of the season, but he still made history as his team sealed the third seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Nikolic, who scored 24 goals this season for the Fire, became the first player in team history to win the MLS Golden Boot award, given to the player who scores the most goals in a season.

Nikolic’s 24 goals are a team record for a single-season, and are the fifth-most that any player has scored in the 20-plus year history of the league.

The scorer tweeted his thanks to the fans and the organization after Chicago’s final match concluded on Sunday afternoon:

Thanks to their prodigious scorer, the Fire will get to host a home playoff game later this week, when they welcome the New York Red Bulls to Toyota Park. If they are able to win the game, then they will take on New York City FC in a home-and-home series in the MLS Cup quarterfinals. 

Photo Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski/AP
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Trubisky Joins Interesting Club With Win Over Panthers]]> Sun, 22 Oct 2017 17:47:41 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-865117886.jpg

The Chicago Bears won thanks to their defense on Sunday afternoon, but they made an interesting bit of history with their offense.

In the game, quarterback Mitchell Trubisky attempted just seven passes, completing four of them for 107 yards and a 101.8 quarterback rating. One of those passes was a 70-yard completion to Tarik Cohen, but other than that the offensive gameplan for the rookie seemed to be a very conservative one.

According to Pro Football Reference, no team in the NFL has won a game with seven or fewer passing attempts since the Carolina Panthers accomplished the feat on Christmas Eve in 2006. In that game, the Panthers, coached by current Bears head coach John Fox, beat the Atlanta Falcons 10-3, as Chris Weinke completed four passes for 11 yards and a touchdown.

Only one other team in the last 30 years has attempted seven or fewer passes in a win, with the 2004 San Diego Chargers attempting just six passes in a 21-0 win over the Cleveland Browns.  

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Fire to Open Postseason at Toyota Park This Week]]> Sun, 22 Oct 2017 17:22:25 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-663449080.jpg

The Chicago Fire will kick off the MLS Playoffs next week at Toyota Park, as they will have home-field advantage in the knockout round of the postseason.

Despite a 3-0 loss to the Houston Dynamos in the season’s final match on Sunday, the Fire finished as the third seed in the Eastern Conference, meaning that they will host the sixth-seeded New York Red Bulls in the first round of the playoffs.

The game is a winner-take-all affair, with the winner advancing into the quarterfinals.

Toronto FC had already locked up the top seed in the East, meaning they will have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. New York City FC locked up the second seed thanks to Chicago’s loss to Houston.

In the other knockout round game, Atlanta FC will take on the Columbus Crew.

The postseason will kickoff on Wednesday with two games, and the other two games will take place on Thursday.  

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Jackson Makes History as Bears Beat Panthers]]> Sun, 22 Oct 2017 17:02:11 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-865138880.jpg

Chicago Bears safety Eddie Jackson had himself a day on Sunday, and his performance has landed him in the record books.

During the game, Jackson had a 75-yard fumble return for a touchdown against the Carolina Panthers, and for an encore he intercepted Panthers quarterback Cam Newton and returned the ball 76 yards for another touchdown as the Bears won 17-3 at Soldier Field.

Not only was the performance dominant, it was record shattering. According to the Bears’ Public Relations department, Jackson became the first player in NFL history to register multiple 75-yard defensive touchdown returns in the same game.

According to NFL Research, Jackson also became the first Bears player to register two defensive touchdowns in a game since Fred Evans accomplished the feat all the way back in 1948.

Another Bears record was also set thanks to Jackson, as the Bears recorded 75-plus yard defensive touchdowns in consecutive games for the first time in team history. Last week, Adrian Amos picked up a long interception return for a touchdown against the Baltimore Ravens.

The record-setting day for Jackson helped the Bears to consecutive victories for the first time since 2015, and it gave them an opportunity to get back to the .500 mark next week when they head down to the Big Easy to take on Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Jake Arrieta's Beard is Gone]]> Sun, 22 Oct 2017 16:17:05 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/jake0726.jpg

The Chicago Cubs' season is over with, and that means it's time to say goodbye to the famous beard of one of the team's best hurlers. 

That pitcher is Jake Arrieta, and his legendary facial hair is no more, as he shaved it off following the Cubs' elimination from the postseason. 

Arrieta's wife Brittany posted a photo of the clean shaven pitcher, who will head into free agency once the World Series concludes: 

Arrieta will be free to sign with any team this offseason, but has not ruled out a return to the Cubs. He has won a World Series title, and two games in that series, and a Cy Young Award during his time in Chicago, but he will be an unrestricted free agent after agreeing to a one-year deal that covered the 2017 season. 

Photo Credit: Jon Durr/Getty Images
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Three Stars: Wingels, Toews Stand Out in Blackhawks' Win]]> Sun, 22 Oct 2017 01:05:42 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-864836010.jpg

The Chicago Blackhawks got off to a sluggish start against the only winless team in the NHL, but they finished strong as they picked up a 4-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday night.

The team got big performances out of their key contributors, including Corey Crawford and Patrick Kane, but it was a night dominated by the depth players on the team, including the fourth line.

With that in mind, here are our Three Stars of the game:

Third Star: John Hayden

On the Blackhawks’ third goal of the game, Lance Bouma is going to get a lot of credit, and rightfully so. He was the one who helped screen Louis Domingue and picked up a loose puck for the rebound tally that gave the Blackhawks their game-winning goal with less than five minutes to go in regulation.

The real star of the play, however, was Hayden. Not only did Hayden help pry the puck loose behind the net thanks to a tenacious blend of backchecking and physical play, but he also got to the front of the net and provided a screen as well, showcasing some of the talents that have made him an indispensable player in the early going of this season.

[[452211713, C]]

Second Star: Jonathan Toews

The role players on the team played a big role in the victory, but Toews continued the strong play that he has displayed all season as the Blackhawks snapped a string of three losses in four games.

Toews had a pair of primary assists in the game, including one on Richard Panik’s first period goal. On that play, Toews made a nifty move along the boards to clear out Coyotes defenders, and then immediately plunged back into the offensive zone from the blue line. That move gave Panik a chance to get to the front of the net, and he deflected home a shot to give the Blackhawks an early lead.

[[452211723, C]]

First Star: Tommy Wingels

If a Blackhawks fan was to choose the team’s biggest surprise this season, it would likely be a dead heat between Wingels and Jan Rutta, and the veteran forward showed his mettle again in this game.

Not only did Wingels score the final goal of the game, but he also had the primary assist on Bouma’s game winner in the third period. To cap all of it off, Wingels drew a penalty and very nearly scored on a penalty shot, but he was robbed by a controversial call that got the goal waved off.

Either way, the veteran has been a key contributor to the Blackhawks in a variety of ways, and he has been a mainstay on the fourth line, forcing Tanner Kero out of the lineup at various points this season. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Kane, Bouma Score as Blackhawks Keep Coyotes Winless]]> Sun, 22 Oct 2017 00:31:06 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-864840940.jpg

The Chicago Blackhawks took a two-goal lead on a penalty shot by Tommy Wingels, only to have it erased upon review. The struggling Arizona Coyotes scored quickly after the rare play, tying the game and snatching the momentum.

The Blackhawks are a veteran team, though, and kept grinding to keep the Coyotes winless. Wingels got to cap it with an empty-net goal to boot.

Lance Bouma scored on a rebound with 4:24 left in the third period, Corey Crawford stopped 27 shots and the Blackhawks beat the NHL's only winless team 4-2 Saturday night.

"We rebounded after that and found a way to get a win," said Wingels, who also had an assist. "The hockey gods kind of repay you, I think."

The Coyotes have been playing better lately, but their only point is an overtime loss to Vegas the second game of the season. Arizona was aggressive and Louis Domingue made some spectacular saves against the Blackhawksafter being replaced by rookie Adin Hill the past two games.

The Blackhawks were just better.

Patrick Kane and Richard Panik each scored and Jonathan Toews had a pair of assists for Chicago, which had lost three of four. Wingels put the game out of reach with his empty netter.

"We just stuck with it and it was a big win for us," Bouma said.

The Coyotes made just enough mistakes in another what-could-have-been loss.

Arizona failed to hold a lead for the sixth time in eight games, gave up another quick goal after scoring and allowed a breakaway goal after getting caught pinching at Chicago's blue line The Coyotes also went 0 for 4 on the power play, including two minutes of 5-on-3.

Clayton Keller had his NHL rookie-best sixth goal of the season and Christian Fischer also scored for the Coyotes, who dropped to 0-7-1 with a long road trip next.

"A lot of positive things, but came up short again," said Domingue, who stopped 25 shots. "We're getting close and against one of the greatest teams over the past decade, I thought we showed a lot of positive things."

Arizona took the early lead when a shot by Fischer hit the stick of Chicago defenseman Jordan Oesterle and slipped between Crawford's pads.

No problem for the Blackhawks.

The Coyotes have had a penchant for giving up goals immediately after scoring and did it again against Chicago. Panik got this one, deflecting the puck past Domingue on a shot by Toews 1:01 after Fischer's goal. It was the ninth time Arizona has given up a goal less than two minutes after scoring.

Arizona's defensemen also have been caught pinching at the blue line multiple times this season, leading breakaways and odd-man rushes. That happened again, too, this time giving Kane, one of the best stick handlers in the game, a free run at Domingue. Kane beat him between the pads, using a deke to open up a forehand shot for his fourth of the season.

"We had a chance to score and it was kind of a fluke thing, and he gets a goal there," Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet said.

Wingels appeared to give the Blackhawks a two-goal lead by scoring on a penalty shot, but it was waived off after a review showed Domingue touched the puck before Wingels knocked it in.

Arizona capitalized with a quick goal this time, with Keller backhanding a loose puck in the crease past Crawford after Wingels' goal was negated.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Wingels Denied Penalty Shot Goal on Controversial Call]]> Sat, 21 Oct 2017 22:06:47 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-860718492.jpg

Chicago Blackhawks winger Tommy Wingels got a penalty shot during the team's Saturday game against the Arizona Coyotes, but that was just the beginning of the story. 

On the shot, Wingels drove in hard on Arizona goaltender Louis Domingue. The netminder swiped at the puck with his stick, but Wingels was able to hold onto it and put a shot past him that apparently put the Blackhawks ahead by a 3-1 margin late in the second period. 

Unfortunately for the Blackhawks, the officials reviewed the play, and ruled that Domingue had touched the puck with his stick blade, thus negating the goal. 

Here is the play: 

That view isn't very conclusive, but here's an overhead view of the play: 

According to NHL rules, once the goaltender touches the puck on a penalty shot, the shooting player can no longer touch it, and Wingels clearly touched it again before putting the puck into the net, thus negating the goal in the league's eyes. 

The Blackhawks ended up getting burned on the play, as Clayton Keller scored just over a minute later to tie things up at 2-2. 

What do you think, Blackhawks fans? Should the goal have counted? 

Photo Credit: Getty Images
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Blackhawks vs. Coyotes: Game Preview]]> Sat, 21 Oct 2017 18:39:09 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-861452260.jpg

The Chicago Blackhawks have lost three of their last four games after getting off to a strong start, but they’ll look to rebound when they play the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday night.

The Blackhawks, who are in second place in the Central Division, will face off against former defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson for the first time since trading him to Arizona in the offseason. Hjalmarsson was a member of three championship teams with the Blackhawks, but was dealt away as the team looked to get younger and faster on their blue line.

The player the Blackhawks received for Hjalmarsson, defenseman Connor Murphy, has yet to find his footing as a member of the team, and has already been a healthy scratch in a pair of games. He has zero points in six games, and he’s trying to find a consistent role on the squad.

Meanwhile, Hjalmarsson has a minus-5 rating for the Coyotes, and has one assist in seven games played with his new team. He is averaging over 22 minutes per game, and he’s trying to help Arizona as they try to get their first victory of the season after dropping their first seven contests.


Saad – Toews – Panik

Hartman – Schmaltz – Kane

Sharp – Anisimov – DeBrincat

Bouma – Wingels – Hayden

Tanner Kero is once again out of the Blackhawks’ lineup, but Tommy Wingels has played well as the center on the fourth line, killing off penalties and doing some good work at even strength, so Kero continues to find himself in the press box instead of on the ice.

The Blackhawks’ top three lines also remain unchanged, as they’ve generated a ton of offense in the early going this season. Patrick Kane and Ryan Hartman continue to be a dynamic duo, and Jonathan Toews appears to have been resurrected by Brandon Saad’s presence on his line.

The Key:

Needless to say, the Coyotes aren’t a good team, with an 0-6-1 record so far this season, and they have been absolutely atrocious on both ends of the ice. They are in 29th place in the league in scoring, averaging just 2.3 goals per game, and dead last in defense, allowing 4.3 goals per contest.

For the Blackhawks, the key is simply to do what they’ve been doing on offense all year long. Moving the puck quickly along the boards and making smart passes in the middle of the ice will be a big key, and getting traffic to the front of the net will also be critical as they look to keep the Coyotes winless.

The Blackhawks also need to find their footing on the power play. They are 2-for-18 on the man-advantage in their last three games, and they’re coming off an 0-for-5 performance against Edmonton on Thursday.

Puck drop is scheduled for 8 p.m., and the game will air on NBC Sports Chicago.  

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Portis Apologizes to Mirotic, Bulls Fans]]> Sat, 21 Oct 2017 17:56:51 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-632251072.jpg

Chicago Bulls forward Bobby Portis addressed the media for the first time since punching teammate Nikola Mirotic in the face, and he was remorseful for this actions.

Portis, who was suspended eight games for the incident, broke multiple bones in Mirotic’s face and gave him a concussion when he punched him a practice just before the start of the regular season.

“I’m wrong for what I did,” he told media members on Saturday. “I want to publicly apologize to Niko. I feel like I let my fans, the Bulls organization, and most importantly my teammates down. This is not who Bobby Portis is.”

According to Portis, he reached out to Mirotic both via text message and phone call, but his teammate has not responded.

In the meantime, Portis will wait until he can return to the floor in November, and he’ll work on repairing his relationships with teammates in the meantime.

“I can’t change the past, but at the same time, we’re just competing,” he said. “I’m sad that this happened, but it did. I’m just trying to repair my relationship wi

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cubs Fire Pitching Coach Chris Bosio: Reports]]> Sat, 21 Oct 2017 17:35:25 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-619332632.png

A day after Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon said he would like to keep his coaching staff intact, a key member of that group has reportedly been fired.

According to several reports, including USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, pitching coach Chris Bosio will not return for the 2018 season. MLB.com's Carrie Muskat reports that the Cubs will not pick up the option on Bosio's contract, making him a free agent. 

Bosio, whose work with pitchers like Jake Arrieta and Kyle Hendricks has made him a widely respected figure in the city, will likely be a hot commodity, but the Cubs have decided that it’s time for a new voice in the role.

That decision comes after a hideous playoff performance by the team's bullpen, who posted a 6.21 ERA in ten games, and the struggles of several key relievers, including Justin Wilson and Hector Rondon.

As the Cubs pursue a replacement for Bosio, two names have immediately emerged as front runners.

Former Tampa Bay Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey, who worked with Maddon, is a strong contender, as is former Washington Nationals pitching coach Mike Maddux, who was let go after Dusty Baker was fired as the team’s manager on Friday.

There is no word on whether anyone else on Maddon’s staff is in jeopardy of being let go after the Cubs were dumped from the playoffs by the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lester Tweets Message to Fans After Cubs' Loss]]> Fri, 20 Oct 2017 13:32:27 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Cubs+Post_Byrne+-+23062318_29382901.jpg

Jon Lester has a message for Chicago Cubs fans as the team's 2017 season comes to an end. 

In a tweet Friday, the morning after the Cubs' blowout loss to the Dodgers in Game 5 of the NLCS, Lester recognized that they "came up short," but added that he's "still proud of this team."

"Thanks to the fans for supporting us from first pitch on opening day to the final out last night," he wrote. 

After a storybook 2016 season, the Cubs fell short in their efforts to repeat as world champions. 

Yet even as the team fell to the Dodgers 11-1 Thursday night at Wrigley Field, fans stayed and cheered on their beloved north siders. 

And even as the Dodgers sprayed champagne around the cramped visitor’s clubhouse inside of the Friendly Confines, Cubs fans were left with optimism and hope for a team that still managed to go far. 

"What a year," one fan wrote in response to Lester's tweet. "Let's meet them again next season! Go Cubs Go! You're my favorite pitcher."

To which Lester replied with an "Amen." 

Another fan wrote, "3 Years 3 NLCS. Thank you never thought I'd say that." 

"Let's change that to 4 NLCS in 4 years," Lester wrote. "And 2 WS titles!"

The Cubs still accomplished quite a feat coming off a World Series win in 2016 - and Cubs manager Joe Maddon didn't want anyone to forget that. 

"I wanted [the team] to know, 'Listen, three consecutive years...that there’s only one other game up on the scoreboard when you’re playing right now. I hope that’s not lost on anybody,'" Maddon said after the game. "That’s not easy to do." 

While the season may be over, Maddon says the team is nowhere near done. 

"My point is, heads up: we're going to keep getting better," he said. 

This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Registration Opens Tuesday for 2018 BOA Chicago Marathon]]> Fri, 20 Oct 2017 12:50:15 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/2017+chicago+marathon+getty.jpg

Runners can start applying to register for the 2018 Bank of America Chicago Marathon as early as next week.

The guaranteed entry application will open at 10 a.m. CST Tuesday, Oct. 24. Participants can qualify for guaranteed entry based on a previous marathon time, legacy finisher status or entry with an international or charity group. 

For time qualifiers, the marathon will implement a new system this year based on age and gender to determine who is eligible for guaranteed entry. 

Non-guaranteed registration will open Oct. 31. Runners who do not qualify for automatic entry but wish to run the 2018 marathon can submit an application, which will be entered into a lottery. Results will be emailed to all applicants on Dec. 12.

All applications are due by Nov. 30. The 2018 Bank of America Chicago Marathon will be held on Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018.

Click here for more information regarding registration and how to qualify for guaranteed entry.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Maddon Offers Heartfelt Congratulations to Dodgers]]> Fri, 20 Oct 2017 11:36:43 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000026259587_1200x675_1077871683755.jpg

Joe Maddon starts off his postgame press conference with a heartfelt congratulations to the Dodgers following the Cubs' season-ending loss in Game 5. 

<![CDATA[Maddon on Lackey: 'I Think That Might Be It']]> Fri, 20 Oct 2017 11:13:33 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000026259624_1200x675_1077818947564.jpg

Joe Maddon talks about his relationship with John Lackey and the possibility that the Cubs pitcher may not be back next season.

<![CDATA[Maddon Addresses Players Who 'May Not Be Here Next Year']]> Fri, 20 Oct 2017 11:12:17 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000026259616_1200x675_1077781571713.jpg

Cubs manager Joe Maddon talks about the "emotional" moment he had with players who "may not be here next year." 

<![CDATA[Maddon Addresses Players Who 'May Not Be Here Next Year']]> Fri, 20 Oct 2017 11:10:04 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/CUBS+DODGERS+NLCS+POSTGAME+GM+5+-+22413922_29381116.jpg

For some Chicago Cubs players, the end of the 2017 postseason isn’t just a goodbye for the winter break– it’s a goodbye to the Cubs.

As the team evaluates its needs heading into the offseason, changes will inevitably be made and Joe Maddon knew that as he entered the locker room following the team’s painful season-ending loss in Game 5 of the NLCS against the Dodgers.

“There was of course a couple of guys that it gets a little bit touchier and emotional with that may not be here next year,” Maddon said after the game. "So I wanted to make sure I touched base with them too." 

Rumors have swirled and players have hinted that the team will likely lose two of its star pitchers before next season – Jake Arrieta and John Lackey.

In the last two games of this season, both pitched what may have been their last in a Cubs uniform. 

Arrieta is a free agent at season's end, and has indicated that he will not take a discount to stay in Chicago. 

He hinted at a potential end to his time with the Cubs following his powerful Game 4 performance, which led the team to their first and only win in the NLCS. 

"I still intend to have another start in this ballpark," the pitcher said after the game. "Hopefully, it's not a goodbye. It's a thank you."

Arrieta transformed himself after arriving in Chicago in 2013, winning the National League Cy Young Award in 2015 and throwing two no-hitters with the Cubs.

Lackey, who signed with the Cubs prior to the 2016 season, has won three World Series rings in his big league career.

Maddon, who said he goes “way back” with Lackey, talked about the pair’s time together with the Angels 2002 World Series team, where Maddon was a bench coach.

“It’s really special for me with John,” the Cubs manager said. “I think that might be it, I’m not 100 percent sure he’s not coming back next year.”

As the team celebrated their National League Central Title last month, teammate Jon Lester hinted that Lackey likely wouldn’t be returning after this season.

“He’s one of the best teammates and people I ever got to play with,” Jon Lester said as the team celebrated in the visiting clubhouse at Busch Stadium. “Tonight was probably his last regular season start. Here’s to one hell of a (bleeping) career.”

In two seasons with the Cubs, Lackey has a 23-19 record with a 3.92 ERA in 59 starts. He was one of the team’s starting pitchers during their 2016 title run, giving up seven earned runs in 13 innings of work during the playoffs.

On Thursday night, he entered Game 5 in the fourth inning, with the score already at 7-0, and pitched for two innings before he left the mound at Wrigley Field for what may have been the last time in his career.

“So hopefully it’s not [the end] but if it is, I had that chance to be with him in that moment,” Maddon said. “That’s pretty special for me, maybe not as special for him, but it’s special for me.”

<![CDATA[Dodgers Advance to World Series for 1st Time Since 1988]]> Fri, 20 Oct 2017 03:38:27 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-863241870.jpg

The iconic words of Vin Scully were first spoken 29 years ago, the last time the Los Angeles Dodgers were in the World Series: "In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened."

After nearly three decades, the wait is finally over — the Dodgers are going back to the World Series.

Enrique Hernandez hit three home runs, including a grand slam, as the Dodgers punched their ticket to the Fall Classic, defeating the Chicago Cubs, 11-1, in Game 5 of the NLCS on Thursday night at Wrigley Field.

In 1988, the last time the Dodgers went to the World Series, Clayton Kershaw was just seven months old. Twenty-nine years later, he was on the mound when they won the pennant.

"We've heard 1988 for so long in L.A., it feels good to say that we're getting to go to the World Series in 2017," Kershaw said after the victory. "With four more wins, hopefully we get to bring one home."

Kershaw (2-0), threw six innings, allowing just one run on three hits with one walk and five strikeouts in the third potential-clinching start in his postseason career.

In those games, the three-time NL Cy Young Award winner is a perfect 3-0 when he takes the mound with a chance to advance his team to the next round.

"To get to be on the mound tonight and get to be going to the World Series on the same night, it's a special thing," Kershaw said. "Who knows how many times I'm going to get to go to the World Series. I know more than anybody how hard it is to get there. So, I'm definitely not taking this one for granted."

Since 2013, Kershaw had only gotten one run of support in four total starts in the NLCS over the course of his career. In his only two starts in 2017, he got 16 runs of support.

"That's a testament to this team and what we stand for," Kershaw said of the support from the offense. "As a starting pitcher, when you get seven runs, your job is to get them back in the dugout as fast as possible."

In order to end the drought, the Dodgers needed to go through the Cubs, the reigning World Series Champions, a team that slayed their own demons only one year prior. Los Angeles wasted little time dispatching the champs.

After a nine-pitch lead-off walk to Chris Taylor to start the game, Cody Bellinger roped a double down the right field line, giving the Dodgers a 1-0 lead.

"What [Taylor] has done for our lineup all year long, settling into the lead-off spot, getting on base, hitting balls over the fence. He's a dynamic player and table-setter," said teammate Justin Turner, who was named Co-MVP of the NLCS along with Taylor. "When he goes, we usually go as a team. I think you guys saw that here in the postseason."

One inning later, Hernandez started off the second inning swinging, as he jumped all over a first-pitch fastball from Cubs' starter Jose Quintana, hitting it to straightaway center for a solo home run.

Hernandez wasn't finished. After an RBI single from Turner gave the Dodgers a 3-0 lead, Quintana loaded the bases before leaving the game for Hector Rondon.

Once again, the Puerto Rican was swinging on the first pitch, and this time, Hernandez sent a slider into the basket in right-center for a grand slam home run.

"I blacked out," Hernandez said of the fourth grand slam ever hit in Dodgers' postseason history. "I can't even describe it you know. I was thinking the entire game, 'Man, this is unbelievable.'"

Hernandez not only sent the Dodgers to the World Series with his bat, he also became the first Dodger since Adrian Gonzalez in 2013 to hit multiple homers in a postseason game.

"I don't remember much of the game," Hernandez admitted. "The whole game is a blur. I remember the first two, but I definitely don't remember the last one. It's awesome!"

As Wrigley Field fell silent as the shrouded dead, one voice could be heard — that of Hernandez's father, Enrique Hernandez Sr., one year removed from a life-threatening battle with cancer, fresh off an evacuation from his homeland because of Hurricane Maria. Despite it all, he stood and cheered.

He just watched his son have the game of his life, in the biggest moment of his career.

"Honestly, I couldn't wait for this game to end so I could give my dad a big old hug," Hernandez said as he fought back tears. "Everything that he's been through the last year or so, and everything he went through for me to be here on this stage right now means the world to me."

Quintana (0-1) lasted only two innings, surrendering six runs on six hits with one walk and one strikeout in his fourth start of the postseason with the Cubs.

"Quintana was a great addition," said Cubs manager Joe Maddon after the game. "[The Dodgers] know what it feels like coming off last year, we were celebrating versus them in this exact same spot."

John Lackey entered the game in the fourth inning for the Cubs and served up a two-run double to Logan Forsythe that gave Los Angeles a 9-0 lead.

The two innings of relief may have been the last ever seen of Lackey as the 38-year-old's contract is up at the end of the season. He could be leaning toward retirement at the end of the year.

"John and I go way back," Maddon said. "John and I were together with the Angels in the 2002 World Series team. So it's really special for me with John. Hopefully it's not his last year, but if it is, having that chance to be with him in that moment is pretty special for me."

Kris Bryant hit his first home run of the postseason in the bottom of the fourth, a laser beam off Kershaw over the scoreboard in left field, for the Cubs' only run of the game.

The Cubs became the first team in Major League history to score all of their runs as home runs in a series that went at least five games.

"Every year is different," Maddon said on why his offense wasn't able to replicate the same success as last year. "We have all these incredible numbers from last year, but every year is different."

Just for good measure, Hernandez hit his third home run of the game off Mike Montgomery in the top of ninth, to put the exclamation point on his historical night. 

"I may have had a great game, but this is not about me, this is about this team," Hernandez said, as his teammates celebrated around him in the winning locker room. "Tonight it was me, but every night its someone different coming up big for us. Luckily enough, tonight it was me."

Hernandez is just the ninth player in MLB history to have three homers in a postseason game, joining like the likes of Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson, and Albert Pujols.

Hernandez finished the game three-for-four with three home runs and a league championship record seven RBIs. 

To put that in perspective, the Cubs scored eight runs in the entire series.

"I blacked out and four hours later I had three homers and seven RBI," Hernandez said. "There's a very big God up there that blessed me tonight, and grandpa, I appreciate it because I know you had something to do with it." 

Earlier in the season, Hernandez lost his grandfather and left the team to fly to Puerto Rico to be with his family. 

"Kiké told me before the game, 'Hey, I've got your back tonight,'" Kershaw said. "He said that before I even went out and took the mound. Then he goes and hits three home runs."

Kenta Maeda, Brandon Morrow and Kenley Jansen pitched the final three innings of the game as the Dodgers bullpen set an NLCS record with 17 scoreless innings of relief. 

"We wanted the defending champs," Jansen said after the game. "We know how much it sucks to lose here and see the fans enjoy it in front of us. We wanted to make a statement. We wanted to come here and we wanted to win in front of them. It's not over yet. Hopefully, we can bring the championship back home."

The Dodgers' pen has a scoreless innings streak of 23, a new MLB postseason record, surpassing the 1977 New York Yankees.

However, the rest of the game was a mere formality as both teams went through the motions before the Dodgers popped champagne — aged 29 years — in the visiting clubhouse.

The victory earned the Dodgers their 22nd National League pennant, the second most in league history behind only their rivals, the Giants, who have 23.

Nearly one year ago, the Cubs clinched their first World Series berth since 1945 against these same Dodgers. That night, as the mob of adoring fans celebrated in Wrigleyville, the Dodgers team buses were unable to leave, so the players had to wait over two hours in the visiting locker room.

During that time, the Dodgers sat and stewed, thinking about this exact moment that could occur one year later, and how great it would be to beat the Cubs on their own field to advance to the World Series.

Revenge is, indeed, sweet.

Up Next:
The Dodgers advance to the World Series, awaiting either the Houston Astros or New York Yankees for Game 1 at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday, Oct. 24.

Photo Credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Images
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Opinion: Optimism Should Still Reign for Cubs Fans]]> Fri, 20 Oct 2017 14:56:42 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-862925182.jpg

After a storybook 2016 season, the Chicago Cubs were unable to write a happy sequel as their championship hopes were quashed on Thursday night by the Los Angeles Dodgers.

As the Dodgers sprayed champagne around the cramped visitor’s clubhouse inside of the Friendly Confines, Cubs fans were surely left asking themselves the same questions that every team is forced to grapple with after their season comes to an end.

What comes next? What moves need to be made? What went wrong?

All of those questions are perfectly valid, and all of those questions will be answered in due time by a Cubs regime that has now piloted the team to three straight playoff appearances, but before the champagne dries on the Dodgers’ new league champion t-shirts and before the final peanut shell is swept off of the concrete steps of Wrigley Field, Cubs fans need to remember a few things.

First and foremost, this team’s championship window isn’t shut. It isn’t closing. It hasn’t even been touched. While some will argue that the team’s depleted farm system is indicative of a quick fall from grace, the reality of things is that the Cubs still have the core pieces in place to not only compete for a title next year, but for the next several years as well.

Only a small handful of teams can make that kind of claim, with the Dodgers, Astros, and perhaps the Yankees all among that group that can say they’ll be contenders next season even if they fail to make a single move in the offseason.

That kind of certainty is something that teams strive for, and that teams crave, and the Cubs have it. It’s a mind-boggling and gratifying feeling to see the organization’s plan for consistent contention play out, and making three straight league championship series appearances is indicative of that level of success.

Secondly, the Cubs do have holes to fill, but fans shouldn’t be deluded into thinking that large-scale changes are needed. Losing a postseason series inevitably will bring calls for change, but the fact remains that in the small-sample size world of postseason baseball, potential problems loom much larger than they actually are, and potential strengths may not be quite as formidable as they appear.

Even still, the Cubs’ issues can be addressed by this front office, and the team has given fans ample reason to trust them in this regard. Whether it’s been successful free agent pick-ups like Ben Zobrist and Jon Lester, or whether it’s been trades that have landed key future pieces like Jose Quintana, the Cubs have shown an ability to cultivate and acquire talent in all sorts of ways, and they’ll make sure that they can acquire whatever pieces they need over the offseason.

Finally, this team has given fans what they have craved for so many years: relevance. The Cubs were always relevant to their fans in the city, but on the national stage they were a laughingstock for decades, the butt of jokes they couldn’t laugh at and the object of derision of every standup comedian on Earth. It was a bad place to be, but the Cubs have fully shed that status and are now among the model teams in the entire league.

Yes, losing in the championship series stings. Yes, a repeat World Series championship would have been a wonderful thing. Even with those two things being completely true, there are plenty of reasons for optimism in Cubs Nation, and as the offseason begins, it would behoove fans to sit back and take in the remarkable things that this team has accomplished, even in defeat. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Illinois Lands Top High School Recruit]]> Thu, 19 Oct 2017 19:25:25 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Ayo+Dosunmu.png

One of the top high school players in the state of Illinois will keep his talents in-state, as Morgan Park standout Ayo Dosunmu has chosen where he will play college hoops.

Dosunmu, a five-star recruit, has decided that he will play at the University of Illinois, and he announced the decision on Thursday night.

"I have a chance to grow a legacy," Dosunmu said. "I'm the best point guard in the country, (and) there's no better place to prove it than my home state." 

Wake Forest was also in the running for his commitment, and other schools like Northwestern and Kansas had both made offers to him before he decided to join Brad Underwood and the Fighting Illini.

“Even though there is no sixth star, I’m chasing a sixth star,” Dosunmu told NBC 5 earlier this year. “I put in the work each and every day – twice a day, sometimes three times a day, because I know it’s going to pay off.” 

Photo Credit: NBC 5 Chicago]]>
<![CDATA[Cubs' Season Ends in Blowout Loss to Dodgers]]> Thu, 19 Oct 2017 22:16:11 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-863220670.jpg

The Chicago Cubs' quest to become baseball's first repeat champion in nearly two decades is over, as they were eliminated from the postseason by the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday night.

That opportunity was derailed early in the series, and thanks to a monster game from Enrique Hernandez and the Dodgers, those dreams were fully put to rest on Thursday night.

Hernandez cracked a grand slam in the third inning off of Hector Rondon to put the game out of reach, and he ended up joining an exclusive club as he hit three home runs in the victory.

Jose Quintana gave up six runs in the Cubs’ final game of the year. Kris Bryant did hit a solo home run for the Cubs, but it was far from enough as their reign as defending champions came to a swift end.

For the first time in the series, the Cubs weren’t the first ones on the board, as the Dodgers’ bats woke up early against Jose Quintana. Chris Taylor walked and later scored as Cody Bellinger smacked a double into the right field corner. Quintana got Yasiel Puig to pop out and Logan Forsythe to ground out weakly to the mound, but the damage was done as the Dodgers seized an early 1-0 lead.

That lead was extended on the very first pitch of the second inning, as Enrique Hernandez squared up a Quintana fastball and deposited the ball into the basket in center field to move Los Angeles ahead by a 2-0 margin.

The Dodgers ended up blowing the game open early on, scoring five runs in the third inning. Justin Turner knocked in a run after he singled to center field to score Taylor, and then Hernandez launched his second home run of the game, this one a grand slam that rattled into the basket as he gave the Dodgers a staggering 7-0 lead.

In the fourth inning, the Dodgers struck yet again, this time taking John Lackey on. With two outs, Logan Forsythe roped a double off the ivy in left field, scoring Turner and Puig to make it a 9-0 game.

The Cubs finally got on the board in the bottom of the frame, as Bryant smacked his first home run of the postseason over the left field wall to trim the Los Angeles lead to 9-1.

Hernandez wasn’t done torturing the Cubs, as he cracked his third home run of the game in the top of the ninth inning to make it an 11-1 game.

The Dodgers will head back to Los Angeles, where they will host Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday night against either the New York Yankees or Houston Astros. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Patriots Owner Robert Kraft Teams Up With Nike for Charity]]> Thu, 19 Oct 2017 14:36:32 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/LISNEAKERS.png

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft has teamed up with Nike to celebrate the Pats Super Bowl LI victory over the Atlanta Falcons. The Nike RKK Air Force 1 Flyknit is the fourth collaboration between Kraft and the sneaker company.

<![CDATA[Dodgers vs. Cubs: Best Tweets of the NLCS]]> Thu, 19 Oct 2017 13:42:56 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-8629524381.jpg The Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers are battling it out on the field, but fans are using social media to show off their joy, angst, and in all circumstances, their cleverness.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cubs Set Game 5 Lineup vs. Dodgers]]> Thu, 19 Oct 2017 14:14:58 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-862922518.jpg

The Chicago Cubs have already stayed alive twice in this postseason, and they’ll look to do it again on Thursday night when they take on the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 5 of the NLCS.

The Cubs were able to avoid elimination on Wednesday thanks to a pair of home runs by Javier Baez, and the strong pitching of Jake Arrieta and Wade Davis carried them the rest of the way.

Joe Maddon has now set his lineup for the game: 

Albert Almora Jr. – CF

Kyle Schwarber – LF

Kris Bryant – 3B

Anthony Rizzo – 1B

Willson Contreras – C

Addison Russell – SS

Javier Baez – 2B

Ben Zobrist - RF 

Jose Quintana – P

Maddon doesn’t generally change up lineups when the team is winning, and we’re banking on that trend continuing here. Schwarber is still making hard contact on the ball, and Baez smacked two home runs on Wednesday night, so he’ll likely remain in the exact same spot that he occupied for that game.

The one wild card here is Ben Zobrist. He has limited regular season experience against Kershaw, but Maddon likely put him into the lineup to get another on-base threat. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cubs' Comeback Attempt Shares Connections With '04 Red Sox]]> Thu, 19 Oct 2017 10:28:40 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-6132033341.jpg

The Chicago Cubs are still down three games to one in the NLCS despite winning Game 4 against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday night, but they’re hoping that they can be a team that makes some history.

The Cubs are the 35th team in MLB history to trail three games to none in a best of seven series. Only one of those teams, the 2004 Boston Red Sox, has ever come back from that deficit, and the Cubs have someone in their front office that is intimately familiar with how the comeback was launched.

That person is team President Theo Epstein, who was the general manager of the Red Sox when they embarked on their epic comeback.

In that series, the Red Sox not only had to take down a Yankees team that had eliminated them in heart-wrenching fashion in 2003 (ask a Red Sox fan about Aaron Boone), but they also had to beat some of the best players to ever play the game.

One of those players was Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, and he was defeated in Game 4 with a little bit of help from Dodgers manager Dave Roberts.

In that game, Roberts pinch-ran for Kevin Millar with Rivera on the mound. With Bill Mueller at the plate, Roberts stole second base, and later scored when Mueller hit a single to center field to tie the game at 4-4.

In extra innings, David Ortiz launched a game-winning home run to give the Red Sox their first victory of the series, and it set the stage for one of the most epic comebacks in the history of professional sports.

Like the Cubs, the Red Sox were at home for Games 4 and 5 of that series, against a team that they had played in the previous year’s Championship Series, and faced the prospect of having to go on the road for Games 6 and 7 if they were able to hold serve for a second time on their home field.

With the connections between that series and this series, Cubs players are hoping that they can write some history of their own, and that they can erase a 3-1 series deficit for the second year in a row.  

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Maddon Makes Hilarious Threat After Game 4 Ejection]]> Thu, 19 Oct 2017 10:11:55 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-862941620.jpg

Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon is generally known as a cool customer, but he went ballistic during Wednesday’s Game 4 against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Maddon, who was already ejected once in the series for arguing, was tossed again after a controversial call robbed Wade Davis of what looked like a strikeout of Dodgers outfielder Curtis Granderson.

In true Maddon style, he expressed his rage in colorful fashion.

“If Granderson hits the next one out, I may run out of the clubhouse in my jock strap,” he said. “It was really that bad. You can’t permit that to happen. The process was wrong.”

The call occurred in the eighth inning of the game, as Granderson batted against the Cubs’ closer. It appeared that Davis had struck Granderson out, but the outfielder insisted that he had foul tipped the ball, meaning that he shouldn’t be out.

Initially, umpire Jim Wolf ruled Granderson out, but after talking to the other umpires, he reversed the call and incurred Maddon’s wrath.

“There’s no way – no way – I’m not getting ejected at that point,” Maddon said. “I got to make my point.”

Video replay showed that Granderson did not make contact with the ball, but fortunately for the Cubs, Davis struck the outfielder out on the very next pitch.

After the game, Wolf admitted that his crew had blown the call.

“I was dead wrong,” umpire Jim Wolf said. “I talked myself into the whole thing.”

With the ejection, Maddon became the first manager to ever be ejected from multiple games in the same postseason. He was also ejected from Game 1 of the series after umpires ruled that Willson Contreras blocked a path to home plate, allowing a run to score for the Dodgers. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Arrieta Confident Cubs Can Come Back in NLCS]]> Thu, 19 Oct 2017 09:44:50 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-862915014.jpg

Jake Arrieta made quite an impression during what could be his final start as a member of the Chicago Cubs, but the bearded hurler isn’t ready to call it goodbye just yet. 

Speaking after the Cubs defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-2 in Game 4 of the NLCS, Arrieta said that he hopes he will get to make another start at Wrigley Field during this postseason. 

"I still intend to have another start in this ballpark," Arrieta said. "Hopefully, it's not a goodbye. It's a thank you." 

Arrieta’s start provided a perfect glimpse of what he may be as his career progresses. Gone was the pitcher who used sheer velocity to get outs, and in his place was a hurler with a strong fastball that moved more and confused hitters throughout the game. 

Arrieta is a free agent at seasons end, and has indicated that he will not take a discount to stay in Chicago, meaning that Wednesday’s start may have been his last in a Cubs uniform. 

The Cubs will hope to change that narrative as they battle the Dodgers in Game 5 at Wrigley Field. Coverage begins at 7 pm on TBS.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[What Baez Said to Himself Before 2 Home Runs in Game 4]]> Thu, 19 Oct 2017 07:46:52 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-862952438.jpg

Before Wednesday, Javier Baez had been 0-for-20 this postseason, failing to register a single base hit against either the Washington Nationals or Los Angeles Dodgers. But that all changed in a big way in Game 4 of the NLCS.

Baez hit two home runs to help save the Cubs from elimination - and he credits those homers to one simple thing: Not trying too hard.

"Tonight I just said to myself not to try too much and I didn’t," he said. "And there you have it - I had two good contacts and win the game by one run."

Baez broke out of his slump by cracking a solo home run down the left field line, and he even gave fans a little bit of a bat flip after finally coming through.

His second home run of the night was even more critical, as it proved to be the game winner as the Cubs won by a 3-2 margin.

Baez will likely be in the lineup again for Game 5, as the Cubs go up against Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers in another must win game at the Friendly Confines. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Thursday night at Wrigley Field. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Full Recovery Expected for Hayward After Injury in Celtics Debut]]> Thu, 19 Oct 2017 14:44:04 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/185*120/GettyImages-860330888.jpg

The Boston Celtics said Gordon Hayward is expected to make a "full recovery" after undergoing successful surgery on Wednesday night.

The team announced Thursday afternoon that Hayward underwent "successful bony and ligamentous stabilization surgery for the fracture dislocation of his left ankle" sustained in Tuesday night's season opener.

Hayward's father tweeted Thursday morning the surgery was 'a big success,' and his wife Robyn posted her own message on social media saying "He did great with surgery! So now we are starting the recovery process." His agent, Mark Bartelstein, added that the surgery "went really well."

No timetable has been set for his return, but Bartelstein told ESPN it remains unlikely the 27-year-old forward will return this season.

The Celtics player had arrived at New England Baptist Hospital on Wednesday after flying in from Cleveland, where he and former Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving played their first game in Celtics green.

Hayward came down awkwardly after an alley-oop pass in the first quarter, dislocating his left ankle and fracturing his leg.

In a video message on the Celtics' Twitter page Wednesday, Hayward spoke to his fans from his hospital bed.

"Wanted to say thank you to everyone whose had me in their thoughts and prayers," he said. "I'm gonna be alright.

"Hurting me that I can't be there for the home opener," Hayward went on to say in his video tweet. "I want nothing more than to be with my teammates and to walk out on that floor tonight. But I'll be supporting you guys from here and wishing you the best of luck."

While the team initially tweeted that Hayward had been diagnosed with a broken ankle, Stevens said in a press conference Wednesday that hospital tests had confirmed his actual injuries.

"He put a lot of effort into trying to start his career out well in Boston, but this is a setback," Stevens added.

Despite the setback, the coach said he believes Hayward will be back to full health.

"We are expecting a full recovery," he said. "We know there are going to be a lot of tough days ahead on that recovery, but at the same time, I think, hopefully, he'll improve day to day."

Stevens coached Hayward at Butler University. After spending the first seven seasons of his NBA career with the Utah Jazz, Hayward signed a four-year, $128 million contract to play for his college coach in Boston.

As Hayward lay on the court Tuesday night, the Quicken Loans Arena fell silent, with Celtics and Cavs players alike showing their concern. The crowds erupted in applause when he was carried off the floor on a stretcher. The following day, athletes and fans have taken to social media to support Hayward.

"Thanks for all the prayers for Gordon and our family," Hayward's wife, Robyn, tweeted Wednesday. "It sucks, but this is what happens."

Robyn Hayward's tweet included a quote, reading, "When everything seems like it's falling apart that's when God is putting things together just the way he wants it."

In their opener, the Celtics came back from a 16-point halftime deficit and jockeyed with Cleveland for the lead in the fourth quarter. The Cavs won their first game 102-99.

Wednesday night, the Celtics played their home opener without Hayward against the Milwaukee Bucks, but it was clear Hayward was on the mind of everyone.

Love for the forward was evident in every corner of TD Garden, as fans who miss him signed a giant "get well soon" banner for him, gave him a standing ovation, and even chanted his name.

The Bucks beat the Celtics 108–100.

Photo Credit: Getty Images, File
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Cubs Beat Dodgers to Stay Alive in NLCS]]> Wed, 18 Oct 2017 23:22:37 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-862918244.jpg

Jake Arrieta gave up just one run, and Wade Davis got a six out save as the Chicago Cubs beat the Los Angeles Dodgers to stay alive in the NLCS.

Javier Baez hit two home runs, and Willson Contreras hit a solo shot as the Cubs trimmed the series’ lead to 3-1.

Arrieta pitched himself into trouble in each of the first two innings, putting on two runners in the first inning and another in the second. Fortunately for him, he was able to pitch out of jams, striking out Andre Ethier to end the first and Alex Wood to end the second to keep the game scoreless.

The Cubs responded with a pair of second inning home runs to give themselves a two-run lead for the first time since Game 1. Willson Contreras blasted a solo home run off the left field video board for the first long ball, hitting it a staggering 491 feet.

Javier Baez snapped an 0-for-20 skid with a home run down the left field line to give the Cubs a 2-0 lead after two innings.

That lead lasted a whole two batters before the Dodgers ate into it. Cody Bellinger smacked a solo shot down the right field line to trim the Cubs’ lead to 2-1.

That score would hold until the fifth inning, when Baez struck again. His struggles long forgotten, Baez smacked another home run over the left field wall, his second of the game, to give the Cubs a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the fifth.

In the seventh inning, the Cubs found themselves in trouble, as Joc Pederson reached on a fielder’s choice and Chris Taylor walked with two outs. After Arrieta left the game in what could potentially be his final Cubs start, Brian Duensing retired Cody Bellinger as he induced a flyout to left field to keep the Cubs in front.

The Cubs brought in Wade Davis in the eighth inning, and Cub killer Justin Turner immediately made him feel unwelcome, as he launched a long home run over the left-center field wall to narrow the Chicago lead to just 3-2.

Things got wild in the frame as Curtis Granderson was originally ruled to have struck out. After a lengthy conference, the umpires ruled incorrectly that he had tipped the ball, and he struck out on the next pitch. Davis then struck out Chase Utley to leave the Cubs up by a run, but with the closer sitting at 34 pitches.

The Cubs got a pair of base runners in the eighth inning, as Jon Jay was hit by a pitch and Jason Heyward grounded into a fielder’s choice, but Kris Bryant weakly grounded out to second to end the threat and keep the lead at just one run.

After Davis allowed Taylor to reach on a walk in the ninth, he got Bellinger to ground into a double play to end the game and get the Cubs into Game 5 on Thursday night.

First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Thursday night at Wrigley Field. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Baez Could Set New MLB Record in Game 4]]> Wed, 18 Oct 2017 16:17:48 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-862568878.jpg

Chicago Cubs infielder Javier Baez is in the team’s starting lineup for Game 4 of the NLCS on Wednesday night, and if he doesn’t manage to get a base hit, he has a chance to break a record he wants no part of.

So far this postseason, Baez is a staggering 0-for-20, having failed to register a single base hit against either the Washington Nationals or Los Angeles Dodgers. That stretch continued thanks to a seventh inning pop-out in Game 3, and it put him into exclusive territory.

According to NBC Sports Chicago’s Christopher Kamka, Baez is now poised to become just the sixth player ever, and the first in almost 50 years, to go 0-for-20, or worse, in a playoff run.

The last player to achieve that feat was Dal Maxvill, who went 0-for-22 as a member of the 1968 St. Louis Cardinals.

That currently stands as the MLB record for worst postseason batting performance of all time, eclipsing the 0-for-21 that four other players, including 1906 Cubs player Jimmy Sheckard, have put up in a postseason.

If Baez goes hitless in three or more at-bats on Wednesday, he would set a new big league record for futility, and it would definitely mean that the Cubs’ chances of winning and keeping their season alive would take a serious plunge. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Goodell: 'Everyone Should Stand for the National Anthem']]> Wed, 18 Oct 2017 16:10:25 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/RGoodell_FULL-150836042626100002.jpg

The NFL Commissioner stated "we believe everyone should stand for the national anthem" at a press conference Wednesday.

<![CDATA[Kane's Cup Winner in Running for Greatest NHL Moment]]> Wed, 18 Oct 2017 15:48:11 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-171460306.jpg

As part of the NHL’s Centennial celebration, the league is hosting a tournament to determine the most iconic moment in its history.

Naturally, the Chicago Blackhawks are represented on the list, and the team’s moments draw from their entire history, which began all the way back in 1926.

Of course, the modern era will get the most attention, and two of the team’s three most recent Stanley Cup championships are represented. The 2010 Cup title, the team’s first in 49 years, is among those in the competition, as Patrick Kane’s overtime goal plays a starring role.

That moment is going up against Brett Hull’s famous overtime goal for the Dallas Stars that gave them their first title.

The “17 Seconds” goals against the Boston Bruins were also nominated, as Bryan Bickell and Dave Bolland helped the Blackhawks beat the Bruins for the 2013 title. That goal is going up against the immortal Wayne Gretzky, who set a single-season points record in 1981.

The old school Blackhawks are represented by a pair of moments as well. Glenn Hall’s incredible mark of playing 502 consecutive games as a goaltender is in the running, going up against Maurice “Rocket” Richard’s five goal game in the 1944 playoffs.

Finally, Bill Moisenko’s 21-second hat trick, a record that has stood for over 60 years, is going up against Mark Messier’s three-goal guarantee during the 1994 playoffs for the New York Rangers.

Voting is now open in the tournament, with first round voting concluding on Oct. 24 at 11 p.m. Central time. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Wheaton, McManis Held Out of Bears Practice]]> Wed, 18 Oct 2017 15:28:38 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-156082999.jpg

The Chicago Bears are coming off of a victory on Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens, but they’re also dealing with some injury issues coming out of that game.

Wide receiver Markus Wheaton was one of three Bears players that did not practice on Wednesday afternoon as the team prepares for its next game, a battle with John Fox’s former team as the Carolina Panthers make their way to Soldier Field.

Wheaton, who has been sidelined by an appendectomy and a broken pinkie during his brief time with the Bears, is now dealing with a groin issue, and was not on the field at Halas Hall on Wednesday.

Linebacker John Timu was also out of practice, as he is dealing with ankle and knee issues. Special teams ace Sherrick McManis, who was injured in the game against Baltimore, did not practice with a hamstring injury.

Four Bears players were limited in the workout, including running back Benny Cunningham, who is dealing with a hamstring problem, and wide receiver Tanner Gentry, who has a hip issue.

Lineman Hroniss Grasu (hand) and linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski (chest) were also limited for the Bears.

The Bears will look to reverse their struggles against the NFC South on Sunday when they take on the Panthers at Soldier Field. Kickoff is scheduled for noon, and the game will air on CBS. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>