Chicago Cubs

Giants celebrate with ticker-tape parade

649890.jpg

Giants celebrate with ticker-tape parade

From Comcast SportsNet
NEW YORK (AP) -- Eli Manning hoisted the Lombardi Trophy from a glittering blue-and-white float, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg joked that New York City should now be nicknamed the "Big Blue Apple," as thousands of fans crowded lower Manhattan on Tuesday to celebrate the New York Giants' Super Bowl victory amid tons of confetti. The parade set off from the southern tip of Manhattan and rolled slowly north to City Hall, past fans dressed head to toe in red, blue and white Giants gear, with confetti wafting slowly from the high-rises lining Broadway. Manning, the Super Bowl MVP, joined by coach Tom Coughlin, Bloomberg, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other teammates, waved and grinned from the float as a deep roar rose from the crowds. Defensive end Justin Tuck said he was glad to be part of the team, leading its defense and sacking New England quarterback Tom Brady twice during the 21-17 victory over the Patriots, "We made it here by believing in each other. We believe in every guy on this team," he said later during a ceremony at City Hall Plaza. "Honestly, we wouldn't be here today without your support." The team was introduced with thunderous applause from the thousands of fans outside the City Hall gates. A lucky 250 fans received tickets to the fete, where the Giants were honored with symbolic keys to the city. The crowd went wild for running back Ahmed Bradshaw, who plopped down in the end zone Sunday to score the winning touchdown. Wide receiver Victor Cruz did his trademark salsa moves as he accepted his key. Manning joked about the team's fourth-quarter comebacks. "Make it tough but make it possible," he said, laughing about how the team blew an early lead to come back and win. The Giants had eight fourth-quarter comebacks to win games during the season. "Finish games, finish fourth quarters and finish the season strong. That's what we did," Manning said. Coughlin said the Giants were successful because they never gave up. "The key thing was to remember this: All things are possible for those who believe," Coughlin said. "We always believed." Some fans had waited since 6 a.m. to catch a glimpse of their favorite players. About half of a Long Island high school class skipped school to see "a whole nation coming together in one place -- this parade," said Mike King, 16, of Wantagh. King and seven school friends got up at dawn, arriving by subway in lower Manhattan to join the crowds packed behind police barricades. He attributed the win to Manning's stellar performance and the hold-your-breath catch by Mario Manningham that led to the game-winning drive. Frank Capogrosso, 11, from Staten Island, leaned against a barricade at the beginning of the parade route with his dad and best friend. "This is better than TV. I love the cop cars, the toilet paper and the ecstatic fans," he said. "I love the Giants. I love their style. They play, they don't talk." The parade for the Super Bowl champions could bring the city as much as 38 million, depending on the number of spectators, Bloomberg said. As many as 1 million people were expected -- about a third of them from outside New York. After the parade, the team traveled to New Jersey for an afternoon rally at their home turf, MetLife Stadium. Tens of thousands of fans roared as the team walked onto the field in East Rutherford, making it feel like a regular Sunday game for Big Blue. Some fans even got to touch a piece of history when Giants running back Brandon Jacobs capped the boisterous celebration by taking the Lombardi Trophy and walking it around the stadium to give delirious fans in the lower rows a chance to lean over and put their hands on it. It was an impromptu moment that fit the mood of the afternoon. It's the second Super Bowl championship parade for the Giants in four years. They beat the Patriots in the NFL title game in 2008. Bloomberg asked the crowd: "Are you feeling deja blue all over again?" referring to the team's 2008 win. Fans cheered. Workers in high-rises tossed confetti -- and later entire pieces of papers -- from their windows. Jun Kim, 28, a Korean linguist at the law firm Kenyon & Kenyon, reserved his biggest batch for Manning. "You are a star!" he yelled as the quarterback passed by. "People thought he would crumble under pressure, but he didn't. He's the best." And once, so were four former Giants players who all starred in past Super Bowls and joined Kim on the 11th floor of Number One Broadway, watching from a balcony "with the best bird's-eye view of the parade," said managing partner Michael Loughnane. Howard Cross, a onetime Giants tight end, said he only caught a few seconds of the parade from the drop-dead height because "I'm scared -- I don't lean over edges!" Three other former Giants were also at the confetti fest in the 19th century building: Otis Anderson, George Martin and Sean Landetta. Just moments after the parade passed around noon, a lineup of sanitation plows scraped their way up Broadway, pushing mounds of confetti -- some as high as 5 feet. Fans stood on sidewalks ankle deep in the paper that was later sucked up by sanitation workers armed with hand-held vacuums. Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty said he expected about 40 tons of paper to be thrown. That's a lot but not one for the record books: The city threw 5,438 tons of ticker tape on returning veterans at the end of World War II in 1945. The actual ticker tape from those days has been replaced by recycled paper that's shredded into confetti. About 34 tons of paper were cleaned up after the Giants' 2008 parade. Mindy Forman, 53, of Yorktown, was one of the lucky few who scored a ticket to the festivities at City Hall. She said the win was a much-needed victory at a time when many could use some cheering up. She counted herself among that group: She was laid off two weeks ago from her job as a college administrator. "It celebrates New York," she said. "It celebrates the city. It celebrates the state. And it gives people something to believe in in very hard times." New York has feted its public heroes since 1919, with the first parade for World War I General John Pershing and his victorious troops. They were followed by more than 200 parades honoring such people as aviator Charles Lindbergh, scientist Albert Einstein, Pope John Paul, South African leader Nelson Mandela and pianist Van Cliburn. Their names are chiseled into the Broadway sidewalks.

Once again, Javier Baez will be a huge X-factor for Cubs down the stretch

javy_baez.jpg
USA TODAY

Once again, Javier Baez will be a huge X-factor for Cubs down the stretch

Javier Baez flicked his bat and watched the ball rocket in the direction of Waveland Avenue, the last of the back-to-back-to-back homers against Cincinnati Reds starter/Cubs trivia answer Scott Feldman.

That quick strike came during a four-homer fourth inning on Thursday afternoon at Wrigley Field, where the offense looked explosive and the pitching looked combustible in a 13-10 loss that left the Milwaukee Brewers one game out of first place, the St. Louis Cardinals right behind them and the Cubs awaiting a diagnosis on Jon Lester’s lat injury.

“I know the talent we got,” Baez said. “When they come to play a team like us, we know they’re going to come play hard and obviously play good baseball. They’re going to come to compete, and that’s what we got to do.”

Whatever happens from here – the Cubs are 2-2 so far during a 13-game stretch against last-place teams – you know Baez will be in the middle of the action as the No. 8 hitter with 19 homers this season and a power source with Willson Contreras (strained right hamstring) injured.

This is the starting shortstop until Addison Russell (strained right foot/plantar fasciitis) comes off the disabled list and the unique talent you couldn’t take your eyes off during last year’s playoffs.

“He’s not afraid of anything,” manager Joe Maddon said. “So I don’t care how big or small the game is, he’s going to play the same way. He’s going to do everything pretty much full gorilla all the time.

“Sometimes, he’s going to make a mistake. And that’s OK, because with certain people – with all of us – you got to take the bad with the good. Everybody wants perfection. He’s going to make some mistakes. But most of the time, he’s going to pull off events.”

The night before against the Reds, Baez led off the ninth inning with a line-drive double and scored the game-winning run on a wild pitch. Last week, Statcast clocked him at 16.11 seconds for his inside-the-park homer off the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park. Over the weekend, he launched another home-run ball 463 feet against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field.

There are so many different ways Baez can help the Cubs win a game at a time when they don’t have anywhere close to the same margin for error that they did during last season’s joyride into the playoffs.

“I know we often talk about the strikeouts or the big swings,” Maddon said. “But look at his two-strike numbers. Look at his OPS (.808). Look at the run production in general (his 55 RBI match Kris Bryant). It’s been outstanding. And you combine that with first-rate defense.

“Now he’s going to make some mistakes. I’ve talked about that. That’s going to go away with just experience. As he gets older, plays more often, he’s going to make less of those routine mistakes. And the game’s going to get really clean and sharp.”

Until then, Baez will keep taking huge swings, making spectacular plays and trying to cut down on the errors (10 in 334 innings at shortstop, or one less than Russell through 729 innings), because he knows what he means to this team.  

“Javy’s very important,” pitcher Jake Arrieta said. “He’s one of our best defensive players, one of our most athletic players on the team.

“Javy’s got a really big swing, but he’s got a great eye and he handles the bat really well. For as big as his swing is, he still manages to make really good contact. I don’t want him to approach the game any other way than he does right now.”

Should the Cubs pursue Justin Verlander after Jon Lester's injury, and what would they have to give up?

Should the Cubs pursue Justin Verlander after Jon Lester's injury, and what would they have to give up?

The Cubs may be in some trouble, with the injury bug hitting them at an inopportune time.

First it was Addison Russell (strained right foot), then it was Willson Contreras, arguably the best catcher in baseball and one of the hottest hitters on the planet before going down with a hamstring injury, and now it's Jon Lester who may be on his way to the disabled list after suffering a strained left lat muscle in Thursday's 13-10 loss to Cincinnati.

All of this occurring during a time Joe Maddon's club is looking to pull away from the pack in the National League Central and capture their second straight division crown, which appears to be the only way the North Siders can control their own destiny.

So what should the Cubs do if Lester is sidelined for an extended period of time?

One option could be re-opening trade discussions surrounding Justin Verlander, who cleared revocable waivers in early August. But what would it take to get him, and how much salary would they have to take on for it to happen?

The SportsTalk Live panel weighed in on that possibility in the video above.