Dempster trying to keep Cubs from the breaking point

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Dempster trying to keep Cubs from the breaking point

MINNEAPOLIS Ryan Dempsters time horizon is five days out, not looking beyond his next start. But this Cubs season is slowly coming into a historical focus: Worst. Team. Ever.

Thats not exactly fair, because the expectations are low, theres still 63 percent of the schedule left and Theo Epsteins front office is looking at a bigger picture of the next five or 10 years.

But manager Dale Sveum chuckled and didnt dismiss the idea when it was suggested on Sunday morning before Dempster went out and threw eight shutout innings in an 8-2 victory over the Minnesota Twins at Target Field.

That still left the 20-40 Cubs on pace to lose 108 games, which would break the record for a franchise that began play in 1876. The magic number is 103, which was put up by Cubs teams in 1962 and 1966.

Hopefully, you have to change the pace, Sveum said. You laugh about it, but its definitely there. Its a reality. You dont want any kind of label like that. You better back it up pretty quick, anyway, if you get that label. But, hey, sometimes you bite the bullet on things. Thats just the way it is, unfortunately.

On an everyday basis, yeah, everybody wants you to snap and yell and scream. (But) Ive already done that once, so what are you going to do? Are you going to keep doing it? That doesnt make any sense when the guys are busting their (butts) and preparing every single day. Its not like were throwing balls all over the place.

Sveum wouldnt go into details about his breaking point, but this 10-game road trip wore everyone out. Within the past three weeks, the Cubs have played 16 of 19 games on the road and traveled 6,770 miles through the air.

We just have to be like more relaxed and do the job, Alfonso Soriano said, not try to put too much pressure on ourselves and just let it happen.

Im very surprised where we are, the way we play. Its not the talent. Its the confidence that we lost, and now we got to work to get (it) back.

Soriano got things started with a two-out RBI double in the first inning, and went 6-for-13 with three homers as the designated hitter during this three-game interleague series against the Twins (24-35).

Dempster, who has thrown 15 consecutive shutout innings, also showcased himself, winning both games on this 2-8 road trip.

Were doing good, Dempster said. I mean, as good as can be expected.

Dempster has a 2.31 ERA through 11 starts and would be a positive addition to any clubhouse. The Cubs anticipate this being a sellers market.

We all know what Dempster is, Sveum said. The professionalism and the hard work and obviously the stuff he has on the mound to be one of the top tier guys all the time. (Given) his makeup and his work ethic and his veteran leadership, theres not too many guys like him around that have that whole package.

What will this look like once the Cubs start selling off parts? Well, their hard luck figures to even out a little bit in close games. Anthony Rizzo should eventually give this lineup a jolt, though theyll have to deal with more growing pains once the promotions are made from Triple-A Iowa. The people in the dugout cant think that way.

We just got to get better in certain areas, Sveum said. Thats the way it is. We know that, but unfortunately, that mark is there after 60 games to (bleep) break a lot of records. (Bleep), we got to start winning some baseball games.

Ex-Bear Brandon Marshall an early favorite at NFL owners meetings

Ex-Bear Brandon Marshall an early favorite at NFL owners meetings

PHOENIX – Brandon Marshall never needed a whole lot of encouragement to step before a microphone but the NFL, which sometimes wished he'd put a sock in it, has now invited the former Bears wide receiver to speak up.
 
The NFL extended an invitation for Marshall, whose time in Chicago ended in some measure because of his insistence on pursuing the media portion of his career, to address the league higher-up's ostensibly as part of a communications bridge-building. Marshall jumped at the chance.
 
"They thought it was important for a player to come up and give a player's perspective and talk about the relationship between owners and players," Marshall said on Monday at the outset of the NFL owners meetings. "I think it's evident that our relationship could be so much better."
 
Marshall has been part of Showtime's "Inside the NFL" in recent years, flying to New York to participate in taping the show, and ultimately accepting a trade from the Bears to the Jets in 2015, which obviously cut down on his commute. The Jets released Marshall earlier this month, after which Marshall signed on with the Giants.
 
He told owners this week, "If we want our game to continue to be on that [positive] track, that it's on being super successful and being a pillar in our community and being a thread in our community, we have to make sure our relationship as players and owners is good."

[VIVID SEATS: Get your Bears tickets right here!]
 
The immediate response was more than a little positive: Per San Francisco 49ers owner Jed York:

https://twitter.com/JedYork/status/846400103472480256
 
Marshall predictably welcomed the forum and wants to see it expanded.

"I'd like to see more players be more involved in our owners meetings," Marshall said. "And not only at the owners meetings, but any time we're talking football, we should have players at the table. Commissioner Goodell is always open-minded. He always has that open-door policy. So I think he'll continue to listen and continue to evolve this part of our business."

Raiders-to-Vegas the latest in long line of NFL relocation drama, some of which included the Bears

Raiders-to-Vegas the latest in long line of NFL relocation drama, some of which included the Bears

PHOENIX — The Bears next play a team named "Raiders" in 2019, having just played them in 2015 at Soldier Field. Whether the Bears' schedule of opponents will say Oakland Raiders or Las Vegas Raiders is still fluid, but the Raiders are leaving Oakland sometime in the next several years after the expected vote Monday at the NFL owners' meetings.

Leaving a press conference at which NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, Raiders owner Mark Davis and a couple other league figures formally announced the foregone conclusion of the Raiders moving from Oakland to Las Vegas, a Cleveland media counterpart fell in beside me and remarked, "Well, at least that's one story you won't have to worry about covering in Chicago."

Maybe yes, maybe no.

The NFL game presents endless spurts of the byzantine and bizarre, so my colleague — who saw his Browns bolt from their lakefront to Baltimore one dark upon-a-time — might be premature with his effort at comfort. Besides, nobody to my knowledge ever took the temperature of Decaturites when their town lost the Staleys to Chicago (at least the Bears kept a Staley as a mascot). And a deal had been worked out, later abandoned, to move the Bears to Hoffman Estates in the mid 1990s, something that had been preceded by then-chairman Michael McCaskey shopping the franchise to various suburbs, low-lighted by a flirtation with Gary, Ind., to something that concept drawings labeled "Planet Park."

Hizzone Da Mare once told George Halas that if Papa Bear took his team out of the city, the "Chicago" part of its name wasn't going with it. And son Richie blustered regarding Gary, "Let them move to Alaska."

Well, I mean, then again, hey, if Juneau or Fairbanks can come up with the requisite relocation fees.

And you can only wonder how many members of Raider Nation are feeling that way about the Raiduhs, that they can go to Alaska (or Gary) for all they care.

The vote approving the Raiders' move to Las Vegas (presumably the league toned down any anti-gambling rhetoric for the day) was believed to be 31-1, with only the Miami Dolphins saying nay. But the side issues were everywhere and somewhat more entertaining, given that the deal was a fait accompli ever since the city of Oakland failed to deliver enough of a stadium package to keep its Raiders where they'd begun under Al Davis when the AFL was formed in 1960.

It was difficult not to chuckle as Mark Davis opined that he thought his late father "would be proud" of moving the team to the self-appointed entertainment capital of the world. True that; Al moved the Raiders to Los Angeles in 1982, to a second location in that market subsequently, and then back to Oakland in 1995. Definitely a legacy to be proud of.

And one for Goodell, too, who summarized, "You know that our goal is to have 32 stable franchises for each of those teams and the league," meaning stable financially, not necessarily geographically. "We're all disappointed for Oakland and their fans," Goodell managed to say.

The Raiders do have one-year options on their lease in Oakland for the 2017 and 2018 seasons, and Davis said that if their Las Vegas facility isn't completed for the Bears' 2019 visit (OK, he didn't say "Bears," that was me), an extension might be in order.

Some observers are waiting for a reaction statement from jilted Oakland mayor Libby Shaaf, who got a thanks-but-no-thanks public letter from Goodell this weekend and sent a last-minute one for the league to delay its vote on the Las Vegas move, which the league didn't do. Somehow the thought of the Raiders asking Oakland to do something for them in their time of need is something worth buying a ticket to.

In the meantime, the move proceeds as expected, adding another mystery to the NFL firmament: moving a team to a significantly smaller sports market from the one it already occupied; moving not one but two teams into the Los Angeles market that had been abandoned by the Rams, Raiders and even Chargers (one of the teams now returning there); those sort of things.

How viable the Las Vegas market is for NFL football is something that'll play out over the next number of years. For now, good seats still available ... in Oakland.