MLB commissioner Rob Manfred open to idea of Cubs hosting All-Star Game at renovated Wrigley Field

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred open to idea of Cubs hosting All-Star Game at renovated Wrigley Field

PHOENIX – Rob Manfred is open to the idea of an All-Star Game at a fully renovated Wrigley Field, but the Major League Baseball commissioner won't make any guarantees about the 2020 target date the Cubs have proposed in a joint lobbying effort with Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office.

"I'm not going to get into specific years," Manfred said Tuesday during a Cactus League media event at the Arizona Biltmore. "Because there's a number of clubs – we're fortunate – that have interest in particular years. And I don't want to say anything that would suggest that I'm anywhere near making a decision."

During last month's Cubs Convention, president of business operations Crane Kenney expressed optimism in a Super Bowl-style bidding process, and not the old way of simply alternating the showcase event between the American and National leagues each year.

The Cubs will point to their starring role in a World Series that beat the NFL's "Sunday Night Football" in head-to-head TV ratings and saw more than 40 million people tune in for Game 7. By 2020, the $600 million Wrigleyville development is supposed to be finished, and Emanuel helped broker the deals that moved the NFL draft to Chicago the last two years after a long run at New York's Radio City Music Hall.

"I will say this: A renovated Wrigley Field would be a great location for an All-Star Game," Manfred said. "Chicago is a great city. And over time, we have tried to go to cities that would be great locations for the game – and to reward cities that had made substantial investments in either new or renovated facilities."

The Cubs still see potential roadblocks, needing City Hall's help with an increased security presence around an urban neighborhood ballpark that hasn't hosted the Midsummer Classic since 1990.

Kenney also acknowledged that All-Star Games have been used as bargaining chips in public negotiations in cities like Miami and Washington – Marlins Park (2017) and Nationals Park (2018) will make it four straight All-Star Games for NL stadiums – while the Ricketts family used private mechanisms to fund the project after striking out on other proposals. 

Cubs: How Miguel Montero and Joe Maddon finally made peace

Cubs: How Miguel Montero and Joe Maddon finally made peace

MESA, Ariz. – Over red wine, Miguel Montero and Joe Maddon ended their cold war on Monday night, dining at Andreoli Italian Grocer and vowing to work together as the Cubs try to defend their World Series title.

The Montero-Maddon dynamic lingered as an awkward storyline in a feel-good camp after the veteran catcher questioned the star manager's communication skills and in-game decisions during a WMVP-AM 1000 interview – on the same day as the championship parade and Grant Park rally.

"I got a lot off my chest," Montero said Tuesday. "I care so much for the game. I care so much for the team. I'm here to win. And it's hard when you have that (weight) on your shoulders.

"I've never been a cancer (anywhere) that I played for all these years. And I'm not planning to be one of those guys."

Maddon requested the dinner meeting – quality assurance coach/ex-player Henry Blanco joined the peace summit as a neutral third party – while Montero picked the Scottsdale restaurant. Montero – who will become a free agent after this season – suggested posting a photo of them toasting drinks on his Twitter account.

"I want to let the people know that it's going to be a great year," Montero said.

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Montero said he slept so much better that night and showed up for work at the Sloan Park complex the next morning with a new energy level. Montero, a two-time All-Star, stressed that he understands his role as a $14 million backup and a mentor to young catcher Willson Contreras. Montero offered to continue helping police the clubhouse – in exchange for Maddon keeping him more in the loop.

"Whatever it takes me to help him," Montero said. "I was true with him when I said: ‘If you feel Willson needs a break and it's (Clayton) Kershaw pitching for the other team, put me in, I'm fine.'

"That's my job and I accept it. Just count on me for whatever. If we need to send a message out there to the players, I'm here for you, too. I can help you on that.

"If I do something that you don't like, just let me know. Just chew me out, whatever, I don't care. I'll take it like a man. It was a great time."

Montero had already told reporters that his comments on the radio weren't simply complaining about his own individual situation. Montero also spoke up for teammates frustrated by a perceived lack of communication and uncertainty over roles, though those behind-the-scenes issues appear to be cooling for now.

"I think everyone right after the World Series is borderline delirious," general manager Jed Hoyer said. "I don't think you take a lot of those comments all that seriously."

Maddon had repeatedly downplayed those issues, telling the media he didn't need to clear the air and crediting Montero for his grand slam during the National League Championship Series, calming influence on Aroldis Chapman and game-winning RBI in a World Series Game 7.

"The ravioli was spectacular," Maddon said. "(Miggy's) such a valuable liaison, kind of, between the coaches and the room because of how many years he's been around. Plus, he's really astute. We just had a conversion about 'Stropy' (reliever Pedro Strop) on the field and what I wanted to say to him – he started first and he's saying to me exactly what I wanted to say to him.

"We didn't really talk about last year a whole lot. We just talked about now. We talked about the beautiful thing is we won a World Series together. It's about moving forward. Really, there was not a lot of hashing about the past. It was about now and what's going to happen next."

Of course, the vibe in Arizona – or immediately after a World Series parade – is supposed to be relaxed and optimistic.

"We have a special team," Montero said. "We have a legitimate chance to win another championship. So in order to do that, we need to be together here. And I think we are now – and we're going to stay that way."

Catch a glimpse inside 'The Cousin Eddie,' Joe Maddon's tricked-out RV

Catch a glimpse inside 'The Cousin Eddie,' Joe Maddon's tricked-out RV

We finally have a full glimpse inside the "Cousin Eddie."

Joe Maddon's luxury RV has been name-dropped ever since before the celebrity manager became embedded forever in Cubs lore.

Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer tell the story about sitting with Maddon down in Pensacola, Fla., outside the "Cousin Eddie" as the trio discussed Maddon coming to manage the Cubs.

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Maddon has since mentioned the RV several times as his offseason oasis.

Nearly two-and-a-half years later, we can now catch a glimpse inside the "Cousin Eddie" as Maddon was recently profiled on "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel:"

The pimped-out RV has four TVs, a fireplace, heated floors, a sweet kitchen with a regular-sized fridge and on and on.

His RV is better than most apartments in Chicago.

Essentially, it's good to be Joe Maddon.

The Maddon profile airs Tuesday night on HBO at 9 p.m. CT.

Check out a full trailer: