Word on the Street: Hester awarded 10th NFC title

Word on the Street: Hester awarded 10th NFC title

Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2011
CSNChicago.com
Hester named Special Teams Player of the Week

An 11th career punt return touchdown has broken an NFL record and resulted in Bears Devin Hesters 10th Special Teams Player of the Week award. No other returner has earned the NFC award as many times as Hester has, setting yet another record for the league. His totaled 142 return yards helped elevate the Bears to their 34-29 victory over the Carolina Panthers. (ChicagoTribune)

Noah keeps his shooting skills sharp

Just in case there isnt an NBA season, Bulls Joakim Noah is focusing on a new sport to reflect his athletic ability. Noah has been at the University of Florida focusing on his workouts and perfecting his beer pong talents. TMZ reported his off-season fun, adding the centers natural ability to sink a different kind of shot. (ProBasketballTalk)

Cutler makes appearance for Cavallari

All of the back and forth Twitter rumors concerning Bears Jay Cutler and reality star Kristin Cavallari have led fans to believe they are indeed working things out. Those of you who are Dancing with the Stars fans witnessed Cutlers attendance at this weeks performance, which proved to be bad luck as Cavallari was sent to pack her bags. However, the Bears seem perform better when the two are together, so hopefully JayCav will bring some good vibes to Soldier Field. (ChicagoTribune)

Mets clear out coaches

The Mets have announced that bench coach Ken Oberkfell, third base coach Chip Hale, first base coach Mookie Wilson, and bullpen coach Jon Debus wont be with the club for the 2012 season. It has not yet been said if they will be reassigned or gone for good. (HardballTalk)

La Russa fined for unprofessional comments

After making inappropriate in-game remarks about the umpiring in Mondays game, Tony La Russa has accepted the MLBs undisclosed fine without argument. The Cardinals manager stated he crossed the line and deserves his punishment. Although the Game 2 victory may have made accepting the fine easier for La Russa, he is given credit for taking the high road and apologizing. (HardballTalk)

Morning Update: Cubs pick up win No. 101, Sale leads White Sox past Rays

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Morning Update: Cubs pick up win No. 101, Sale leads White Sox past Rays

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John Lackey sees Cubs lining up for World Series run: ‘It’s all here’

John Lackey sees Cubs lining up for World Series run: ‘It’s all here’

PITTSBURGH — The Cubs have so much going for them, all this blue-chip talent, a clubhouse mix of young players and grizzled veterans, arguably the best manager in the game, an impactful coaching staff and a front office that blends scouting and analytics as well as anyone.

So, no, John Lackey is not at all surprised by the way this clicked into place, 101 wins and counting for the machine built with October in mind.

“Not really,” Lackey said after Tuesday night’s 6-4 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates. “I had some pretty good offers from other people, and I chose this one for a reason. It’s all here.”

But to win the World Series — and get the jewelry Lackey talks about — you still need some luck, good health and the guts to perform in those Big Boy Games. That reality of randomness and matchups made a pregame announcement some 250 miles away from PNC Park so telling.

Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos tore the ACL in his right knee, ending his MVP-caliber season. The National League East champions will lose a .307 hitter with 22-homer power from the middle of their lineup and a veteran presence for a playoff rotation that will likely be without injured ace Stephen Strasburg (right elbow) in the first round.

“That’s a tough one when you lose your catcher, a guy who’s that significant for the pitching staff,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “Think about the pitching staff — it’s so different when you know the guy back there is your guy and he knows what’s going on. The communication’s different. The trust factor, all that stuff is different.”

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Within that big-picture context, the Cubs survived as Lackey limited the checked-out Pirates (77-80) to one run across five innings in his fifth start since recovering from a strained right shoulder and coming off the disabled list. Maddon then used six different relievers — staying away from Pedro Strop, Hector Rondon and Aroldis Chapman — during a three-hour, 49-minute game that felt more like the Cactus League.

After defecting from the 100-win St. Louis Cardinals team the Cubs bounced out of last year’s playoffs, Lackey finished the regular season at 11-8 with a 3.35 ERA and 188 1/3 innings.

“I’m going to get to 200,” Lackey said.

Beyond wins and losses, Lackey called this season his career best in terms of “those numbers that they’ve made up in the last few years” like WHIP (1.04) and opponents’ OPS (.646) and whatever. And, no, he doesn’t know his WAR, either: “Not even close.”

Yes, the Cubs got the old-school attitude they wanted when they signed Lackey to a two-year, $32 million deal before the winter meetings. For all the talk about the pitching deficit and the New York Mets after their young guns swept the Cubs out of last year’s NL Championship Series, the Cubs are getting their money’s worth with a guy who will turn 38 in October.

The amazing Mets have lost three of those frontline starters — Matt Harvey (thoracic outlet syndrome), Jacob deGrom (nerve damage in his right elbow) and Steven Matz (bone spur in his left elbow) — and are still holding onto the first wild-card spot, which says something about this playoff field.

This doesn’t guarantee anything in October, but the Cubs are just about as close to full strength as they could reasonably hope now. Instead of the silence that would have come with losing an irreplaceable player like Ramos, the sound system in the postgame clubhouse blasted Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre and Notorious B.I.G. after their 101st win.

“Yeah, we lost Dexter (Fowler) for a bit,” Maddon said. “We lost (Kyle) Schwarber all year. Otherwise, when a couple pitchers got banged up, whether you’re talking about Rondon or Strop, I don’t think that our injuries have been as magnified because we’ve covered them pretty well.

“We still had our moments, like everybody else has. But when you get to right now, we’re getting well, and hopefully that trend continues. But to lose somebody of that magnitude for them, that’s got to be difficult.”