Chicago Cubs

Runner DQ'd from race for using public transit

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Runner DQ'd from race for using public transit

From Comcast SportsNet

LONDON (AP)Rob Sloan boasted hed completed an unbelievably tough marathon near Newcastle after crossing the finish line in third place with a personal-best time.

Apparently, he didnt count the bus ride.

Sloan dropped out 20 miles into the race, hitched a ride on a spectator shuttle bus and emerged from the woods near the finish line to make the podium.

After initially describing as laughable claims he cheated in the Kielder Marathon on Sunday, Sloan admitted his transgression following an investigation by organizers.

People in cars following the bus saw him get on and off. People saw him run through the busheswe had him hook, line and sinker, Dave Roberts, one of the marathon organizers, told The Associated Press on Wednesday. Rob was distraught at having to come clean.

Sloan was stripped of his third-place medal. His time was listed as 2 hours, 51 minutes21 minutes faster than his previous best in the race.

Competitors criticized the runner for tainting an event labeled by organizers as Britains most beautiful marathon. Sloans running club is the Sunderland Harriers.

Steven Cairns, who moved from fourth to third following Sloans disqualification, accused his rival of stealing my glory.

I was third the whole way but somehow I crossed the line and was given fourth! Cairns said on his Facebook page. I started to doubt myself as he was adamant he had gone past me. I could understand him taking the goody bag and the T-shirt but to do the press interview claiming he was third

A day after winning a 10-kilometer race at the same location, Sloan ran out of stamina with 6 miles left in the 26.2-mile marathon. Then came the bus ride and shortcut through the woods to the finish line.

Im convinced it was not premeditated, Roberts said. But he felt rough, pulled out and flagged down a bus. Its as bad as drug-taking in my book because its attempting to improve your performance by cheating. Ive never known anything like it.

Sloan will go before a district committee this month and faces the possibility of being banned from marathons.

We are pleased this matter has been cleared up, said event director Steve Cram, a former world record holder and world champion in the 1,500 meters. Mr. Sloan made a mistake and has apologized to us for the confusion it has caused.

Cram will travel next week to Edinburgh, Scotland, to give Cairns his third-place medal.

One of the most famous cases of cheating in a marathon came at the Boston Marathon in 1980. Rosie Ruiz was the first woman to cross the finish line but was disqualified when officials discovered she jumped into the race about a mile from the end.

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

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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.