Marmol trying to get his swagger back, and another shot at closing

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Marmol trying to get his swagger back, and another shot at closing

Carlos Marmol screamed and pounded his chest as he walked off the mound late Monday night.

Those words Im not going to tell you would almost certainly be unprintable and difficult in translation. But the displaced Cubs closer who lost his job last week showed he wont go quietly in a 5-1 victory over the Atlanta Braves.

The fans however many remained from an announced crowd of 36,307 were on edge at Wrigley Field. Trying to protect a two-run lead, Marmol had walked the first two hitters to begin the eighth inning.

Marmol got Freddie Freeman to line out sharply to shortstop Starlin Castro, who was positioned behind second base, part of the calculated gambles made by manager Dale Sveum and his coaching staff before each at-bat.

With the fog hovering overhead, Michael Bourn stole third base and a Marmol wild pitch put the potential tying-run on second. With everyone growing restless, how do you keep your focus?

Not listen to the fans, Marmol said with a smile, before reflecting for a moment. You know what, that made me go, because I needed to do better and throw strikes.

Sveum noticed Marmol hit 96 mph, and thats the point the Cubs have tried to hammer home since the start of spring training: Trust your fastball.

Marmol froze Brian McCann with an 83 mph slider and struck him out looking. He then pumped three fastballs to Dan Uggla and notched another strikeout. He once made these kinds of escapes look routine.

With nights like this, can Marmol get his swagger back?

You sure hope so, Sveum said. Thats part of the reason I never said he wasnt going to close again or setup or (take the) seventh inning. I just told him to always be ready to pitch and to fight his way back to get to that spot again to close ballgames.

It wont be easy for the Cubs to trust Marmol in the ninth inning again. But hes put together two scoreless outings since his meltdown in Cincinnati. Hes still owed around 5.7 million for the balance of this season, and 9.8 million next year. He wants another chance.

Its hard for everybody, Marmol said. Im going to keep working and be positive. Go out there and pitch like you want your job back.

Wrigley Field named one of the happiest places in the world by CNN

Wrigley Field named one of the happiest places in the world by CNN

In terms of overall satisfaction for a fanbase in total, it'd be hard for any team could beat the Cubs' faithful right now.

Ending a 108-year drought will make even the most pessimistic of fans ecstatic.

So it's no surprise Wrigley Field would be considered one of the happiest places on Earth.

To counteract "Blue Monday," CNN discussed 15 of the world's happiest places and Wrigley was included.

But the kicker is — CNN doesn't even mention the World Series championship.

Here's the rationale:


"Wrigley Field, on a warm summer night when the breeze off Lake Michigan makes the flags flutter and your cheeks flush with relief from the damp heat.

"No matter where you sit, you are close to the field, which makes you feel both the intimacy of the game and the immensity of it.

"The players, standing just feet away from you, feel like giants. And the vendors in the stands hawking hot dogs and beers and Italian ice really are a study in that particular species of Chicago native."


Don't know many people who would argue with that.

The only other American location on the list was Moonlite Bar-B-Q Inn in Owensboro, Kentucky.

Other worldwide locations include Bangkok, Japan, New Zealand and Copenhagen.

Jon Lester explains absence from Cubs' White House trip: 'Absolutely nothing political'

Jon Lester explains absence from Cubs' White House trip: 'Absolutely nothing political'

Jon Lester didn't make any sort of statement by missing Monday's White House trip with his Cubs teammates. But at a polarizing moment in a divided country, a high-profile player on a World Series team felt the need to respond on social media and explain his absence from the championship ceremony. 

President Barack Obama name-checked Lester during his East Room speech – both for his spectacular pitching performance and beat-cancer charitable initiatives – as the Cubs continued their victory tour off the franchise's first World Series title since Theodore Roosevelt lived in the White House.

Lester stood behind Obama when the 2013 Boston Red Sox were honored on the South Lawn. During that 2014 ceremony, Lester stood next to John Lackey, another Cub who missed this Washington trip. Lester also toured George W. Bush's White House with Boston's 2007 championship team.

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day – and with the specter of Donald Trump's inauguration looming – Obama used his administration's final official White House event to draw a direct line between him and Jackie Robinson and highlight the connective power of sports.

"The best part was the president talking about how sports brings people together," All-Star first baseman Anthony Rizzo said, "how no matter what's going on in this country and the world, three or four hours of any one particular game can just rally so many people together." 

This team couldn't have created so much joy for generations of fans without Lester, who signed a $155 million contract with the last-place Cubs after the 2014 season, a transformational moment during the long rebuild that led to the White House trip that Obama never thought would happen.

"It was a thrill and an honor for all of us," team president Theo Epstein said. "It means so much more with his roots in Chicago and his final days in office. It couldn't have worked out any better. It's something we'll all remember for our whole lives."