Te'o impressed by Alabama center Jones


Te'o impressed by Alabama center Jones

Manti Te'o got to fraternize with the enemy Wednesday, spending time with Alabama center and fellow Lombardi Award finalist Barrett Jones in Houston. Te'o won the award -- the third major honor he's garnered with four more to be determined -- beating out Jones, South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones for the honor given annually to the nation's top linemen or linebacker.

In his acceptance speech, Te'o pointed out the strangeness of being seated next to a direct competitor for the BCS Championship at the ceremony, and repeatedly referred to the 6-foot-5, 302-pound center as a "big dude."

The way Te'o spoke of Jones, the two seem to have plenty in common, minus the opposite jerseys they'll wear next month in South Florida.

"There's no trash-talking, I think the fans do more of that," Te'o told CSN Houston of his time with Jones. "But meeting Barrett, he's a great guy, has great parents. He's very quiet and he's very intelligent and hard-working."

Jones is the odds-on favorite to win the Rimington Trophy given to the nation's best center -- an honor for which Te'o's teammate, Braxston Cave, is also up. As for Te'o, he's a finalist for three more accolades that will be announced Thursday -- the Maxwell Award (most outstanding player), the Walter Camp Award (most outstanding player) and the Chuck Bednarik Award (defensive player of the year). Te'o has already won the Nagurski Trophy (most outstanding defensive player) and the Butkus Award (most outstanding linebacker) in addition to the Lombardi Award.

Te'o is only the second player to win the Butkus, Nagurski and Lombardi awards and is two honors away from tying Charles Woodson for the most major awards won in a single season with five. Woodson won the Heisman, Bednarik, Nagurski, Thorpe and Walter Camp awards in 1997.

But the biggest prize of Te'o's awards tour will be announced Saturday in Times Square, where Te'o will join Collin Klein and Johnny Manziel for the Heisman Trophy presentation. A defensive player hasn't won the Heisman since Woodson 15 years ago, and it's extremely rare for a defender who doesn't contribute on offense or special teams to be invited to the Heisman ceremony, let alone win the honor.

"It's definitely special with Collin and with Johnny, guys who have highlights everywhere," Te'o said. "It's definitely a big opportunity for me and a big honor for me to be with them and be numbered among them and to represent my family and my school."

Morning Update: Cubs open World Series tonight; Hawks lose in shootout

Morning Update: Cubs open World Series tonight; Hawks lose in shootout

Here are some of the biggest stories from the day in Chicago sports:

Complete Cubs-Indians World Series Game 1 coverage on CSN

Blackhawks get a point but Kris Versteeg wins it for Flames in shootout

Cubs see Kyle Schwarber looming as potential World Series hero

Five Things from Blackhawks-Flames: Same old story on the penalty kill

Local product and former fan Jason Kipnis has 'zero conflict' extending Cubs' World Series title drought

Bears get Jay Cutler back as QB competition with Brian Hoyer fades to black

No-brainer: Cubs rolling with Jon Lester again in World Series Game 1

The making of a superstar: Kris Bryant believes in Cubs — not goats or curses

What can the Cubs expect from the Cleveland Indians in the World Series?

Why Cubs wouldn't pay the price for Andrew Miller and got Aroldis Chapman from Yankees

Why Cubs wouldn't pay the price for Andrew Miller and got Aroldis Chapman from Yankees

CLEVELAND — As the New York Yankees marketed Andrew Miller this summer and prepared for their first sell-off in a generation, their demands started at either Kyle Schwarber or Javier Baez — and the Cubs still would have been forced to throw in more talent to get the All-Star reliever.

This could be the fascinating what-if for this World Series. The Cleveland Indians paid the price, giving up a four-player package headlined by outfielder Clint Frazier (the fifth overall pick in the 2013 draft) and left-hander Justus Sheffield (the No. 31 pick in the 2014 draft) to get what turned out to be the American League Championship Series MVP.

The Cubs didn’t make Schwarber untouchable because they thought he would be ready in time for the World Series, but he’s preparing to be their Game 1 designated hitter on Tuesday night at Progressive Field after a remarkable recovery from major surgery on his left knee.

“It was impossible to avoid some of the names — particularly the Cubs — (with) the year they were having,” Miller said. “Whether I wanted to avoid it or not I heard it. Guys in the clubhouse, our media was certainly bringing it to us.”

Even in other possible deals for pitching, the Cubs never came close to selling low on Baez, who broke out as the National League Championship Series co-MVP for his offensive production and defensive wizardry. 

Instead of getting Miller’s late-game dominance for three pennant races — and giving up five potential 30-homer, 100-RBI seasons with Schwarber — the Cubs closed a different blockbuster deal with the Yankees for a left-handed power arm.

The Cubs wanted Aroldis Chapman’s 100-mph fastball to get the last out of the World Series and would rationalize his 30-game suspension to begin this season under Major League Baseball’s domestic-violence policy. Already holding an age-22 All-Star shortstop in Addison Russell, the Cubs surrendered elite prospect Gleyber Torres.

[SHOP: Buy a "Try Not to Suck" shirt with proceeds benefiting Joe Maddon's Respect 90 Foundation & other Cubs Charities]

“Gleyber’s a good baseball player,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “That kid’s going to be really good. So you have to give up something to get something. But also our guys felt if we got Aroldis this year, we’d have a chance to be sitting here and answering this question. And they were right.

“It’s an entirely different thing when you get a guy out there throwing 100 miles an hour. You feel pretty good about it, regardless of who is hitting. So he’s really a big part of why we’re doing this right now.”

Chapman has saved five playoff games — and become that reassuring ninth-inning presence at Wrigley Field — but he clearly responds better to a scripted role.

Miller has been untouchable during the postseason, throwing 11 2/3 scoreless innings and striking out 21 of the 41 batters he’s faced, giving Terry Francona even more freedom to manage a lights-out Cleveland bullpen.

“To be utilized like Miller,” Maddon said, “not everybody is cut from the same cloth mentally, either, or the ability to get loose and prepare. Andrew Miller — having done a variety of different things in the big leagues as a pitcher — is probably more suited to be able to be this guy that can get up in the sixth, seventh, eighth or ninth and warm up in a manner that gets him in the game both mentally and physically.

“Whereas Aroldis — if he wanted to do that — I think that would have had to be done from spring training. He’d have to differentiate his mindset. He’d have to have a different way to get ready. I do notice he throws a heavy baseball before he actually throws a regular baseball. That’s his routine.

“Whether you agree with it or not, that’s just the way it is. So with a guy like Aroldis — to ask him to attempt to dump his routine right now (and) do something else — I think you’re looking for failure right there.

“We stretched him to five outs the other night, which is a good thing, I thought. So now going forward he knows he can do that. But to just haphazardly throw him in the sixth, seventh or ninth, I think would be very difficult to do.”

Even in a World Series featuring historic droughts, Cy Young Award winners, MVP candidates and star managers, this October could come down to the bullpens shaped by deals with the Yankees.

“Both teams made aggressive trades,” Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said. “Both teams are still standing. There’s something to that.”