Does Wrigley Field culture need changing?

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Does Wrigley Field culture need changing?

When Theo Epstein came to town, he preached the need for a culture change with the Cubs here in Chicago. It's something CSN's David Kaplan has stressed for months.

But they meant within the Cubs' organization, not cultural dynamics that have been implemented for the fan's enjoyment.

Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune wrote Thursday night Theo and the Cubs may be nixing one of the traditions that make Wrigley Field and the Cubs so great.

Now, to be fair, Sullivan isn't advocating -- or even suggesting -- eliminating one of the traditions, but he is simply asking "what if Theo got rid of this?"

But some of the things he suggests could go is crazy. The "Go, Cubs, Go" song? No way. Day games? Can't do it. Seventh-inning stretch singers? Unless you can find somebody as iconic as Harry Caray to belt out the lyrics every game, you can't take away a big tradition like that. The organ music? Might as well tear down Wrigley Field and move it to the suburbs.

The only one I really agree with is the "L" flag. The "W" flag is a cult favorite, but the "L" flag does nothing but let the world know the Cubs lost that day and considering they've been doing a lot of losing lately, that flag has probably had to be replaced multiple times over the past two seasons.

Sullivan brings up other things such as the phrase "Cubbies" and how that may be on its way out.

I can't imagine any of these things really has an impact on anything. Maybe some fans find them annoying. No doubt most Sox fans find just about everything on this list annoying, especially Steve Goodman's classic song.

But when I think culture change, I think more like taking pitches to extend the at-bat, not accepting excuses for mistakes, avoiding mental miscues. Not getting rid of some of the things that make going to a Cubs game so rewarding.

If Albert Pujols hits a home run into the bleachers and I'm lucky enough to catch the ball, I want the whole stadium yelling at me to "Throw it back!"

As Arrieta garners all the fanfare, Jon Lester keeps cruising along in Cubs win

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As Arrieta garners all the fanfare, Jon Lester keeps cruising along in Cubs win

Jake Arrieta is getting all the attention on the Cubs pitching staff, but don't sleep on Jon Lester.

As Arrieta defends his supernatural stat lines, Lester has looked every bit the $155 million starter this season.

The veteran left-hander turned in another gem Friday in the Cubs' 6-1 victory over the Atlanta Braves in front of 34,007 fans at a frigid Wrigley Field.

Lester allowed only one run in seven innings, striking out 10.

He got himself into a major jam in the seventh when he gave up a single and a walk and then couldn't get a handle on a bunt (or didn't want to risk a throw to first), loading the bases with nobody out. But he struck out the next two batters and got Nick Markakis to ground out to Anthony Rizzo at first base to end the threat.

For the first time in his career, Lester has notched five straight quality starts to begin a season and now has a 1.83 ERA and 0.93 WHIP in 2016.

Lester has gone at least seven innings and given up exactly one earned run in four of his five starts this season.

The Cubs couldn't get him a win, however, putting up just one run through seven innings against the Braves pitching staff. This just hours after talking about how this lineup is built to generate offense even in cold, miserable conditions.

But the bats came alive late when Rizzo broke the tie with an RBI single in the eighth and then Matt Szczur followed with his first career grand slam.

Pedro Strop picked up the win with a perfect eighth and Hector Rondon pitched a scoreless ninth to slam the door on the Cubs' fourth straight victory.

Cubs fans regulate on rapper Warren G for his rendition of 'Take Me Out to the Ball Game'

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Cubs fans regulate on rapper Warren G for his rendition of 'Take Me Out to the Ball Game'

Cubs fans may have witnessed one of the quickest seventh inning stretches ever performed at Wrigley Field on Friday.

Rapper Warren G, famous for his 1994 hit song "Regulate", yelled "Cubbie fans mount up!" and then sang "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" during the Cubs-Braves game. The results were ... interesting, to say the least. 

Cubs fans were not having it.

Watch the full stretch in the video above.

ESPN's Stephen A. Smith defends himself against Jake Arrieta

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ESPN's Stephen A. Smith defends himself against Jake Arrieta

Jake Arrieta vs. Stephen A. Smith: Round II?

Not quite, but the ESPN personality still felt the need to defend himself from the Cubs ace on air Thursday after Arrieta created a stir by Tweeting at Smith Wednesday.

Smith initially took a strong stance against Arrieta and the possibility of the 2015 NL Cy Young winner taking performance-enhancing drugs, but then immediately backed down when confronted on Twitter. 

On Thursday's "First Take," Smith apparently felt like he had to keep the drama going and responded to Arrieta:

"I can appreciate Jake Arrieta defending himself," Smith said. "If it were me, I certainly would. I take no offense whatsoever at anything he said towards me or that he Tweeted at me. 

"But I do think he needs to understand my perspective. Skip Bayless - we didn't walk on this show saying, 'We've been watching Jake Arrieta pitch. Let's talk about it because this seems suspicious.' No, it was an article in USATODAY with fans and contemporaries quietly saying, 'Something doesn't seem right here.' So we pointed out the level of excellence, what he did in the second half of last season."

Smith then delved into how many others in the game of baseball have denied using PEDs - like Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun - and how we can't take anybody's word for it nowadays.

Apparently that means that Smith can accuse (without technically accusing) somebody of taking PEDs or claiming they handled the aftermath wrong by laughing it off?

To be fair, that's basically what "First Take" is: discussing hot-button sports issues with vague language - it's basically a bunch of hot takes communicated with lawyerspeak - so the Arrieta comments Wednesday weren't all that newsworthy until the Cubs pitcher decided to respond on Twitter.

"I don't know anything about Jake Arreita," Smith continued. "All I know is this man is nothing short of sensational, deserving of the Cy Young Award because of his performance in the second half of the season and - by the way - happened to lose to the Mets in the postseason. That's all I know about him."

Cheers to the (hopeful) end to this saga.