Stone: Girardi best candidate for Cubs job

Stone: Girardi best candidate for Cubs job

Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2010
3:50 PM

Steve Stone dives into his mailbag toanswer your questions about the Cubs' managerial opening, Victor Martinez, Tyler Flowers and more!

John - Chicago, IL: Now that the season is over, who do you think is the front-runner for the Cubs job?

Steve Stone: I still believe the same thing that I mentioned three months ago and that is that the best candidate for the next manager of the Chicago Cubs is Joe Girardi. This is not meant to denigrate the job Quade did but my feeling is if you sat down and listed every qualification you could want in a manager for the Cubs, I believe that the logical conclusion would be that the man who fills every qualification would be Joe Girardi.
Rebecca - Bolingbrook, IL: Do the Cubs have a shot at Victor Martinez? He would look awfully good at first base for us.

Stone: Victor Martinez would look good wherever he was, wherever the Cubs use him assuming you understand he is better for the right side than the left. That being said, he is occasionally behind the plate or at first base, Victor would be a wonderful addition to the Cubs' ball club but you have to understand probably one being well known, that being that the Red Sox having Victor and Beltre as free agents, Martinez would be the cheaper of the two options and so they are more likely to get a deal done with him. One thing that can't be underestimated, Victor Martinez is exceptional in the clubhouse. He would be a team leader on a team desperately looking for a leader.

Roger - Palatine, IL: Do you see Paul Konerko and A.J. Pierzynski back with the White Sox next season?
Stone: I believe the White Sox are going to attempt to bring them both back and the rest comes down to business decisions, how much are you willing to allocate and how much do each of these individuals want. It always comes down to money and years. Paul will have to decide and then the rest will play itself out in due time.

Dave - Westmont, IL: Where do you think Tyler Flowers fits into the White Sox organization? Can he be the starter next season?

Stone: Everything really depends on what happens with A.J. If you bring him back, the combo of him and Ramon Castro which did so well this year is something they could live with next year which complicates things for Flowers. As far as being a starter, I really don't know, I haven't seen enough as far as catching is concerned. Buddy Bell and very good talent evaluator gave him a thumbs up in the minors for his catching.

Roberto - Chicago, IL: Do you like the idea of starting the season earlier next year, thus having an earlier World Series?

Stone: I like the idea of an earlier World Series, I don't know how delighted we will be with the season opening April 1st. Weather problems in the East and West; I don't think you can continue the World Season ending close to November, so next year they will experiment, I think there are more down the road and we will have to see how this particular early season goes. We do know it will be cold and there will be some that are snowed out - there usually are. It depends if it's a very wet early spring but that will be hard to tell not having my farmers almanac handy.

Fire to resume U.S. Open Cup at packed house in Cincinnati

Fire to resume U.S. Open Cup at packed house in Cincinnati

Since arriving this winter, Dax McCarty has been the one to raise the expectations for the Chicago Fire and continued to do so after the Fire beat Orlando.

He raised the question to himself if it was realistic for the Fire to win MLS Cup, the Supporters’ Shield and the U.S. Open Cup and he said “Why not?”

The Fire’s U.S. Open Cup hopes take center stage on Wednesday when the team plays at FC Cincinnati in the round of 16. The Fire beat Saint Louis FC in the team’s first match in the tournament and even though Cincinnati is another USL team like St. Louis, things should be different.

Cincinnati is trying to showcase itself as a future MLS market and had a crowd of 30,160 for the 1-0 win against the Columbus Crew last round, which was a record for a U.S. Open Cup match played before the final. Another big crowd is expected when the Fire come to Nippert Stadium.

While cities like St. Louis and San Diego have run into trouble getting stadium deals done, Cincinnati has only had positive momentum so far in the expansion process. For example, there’s a story from USSoccer.com saying Cincinnati is the capital of American soccer.

Cincinnati’s ambition is clear in the statement from team president and general manager Jeff Berding when it was announced that Wednesday’s match will be broadcast on national TV.

“We look forward to showing off our great city as the hottest new soccer market to the rest of country,” Berding said.

To add to the spectacle of the match, a local brewery from each city placed a bet on the match in the name of charity.

The Fire brought mostly a first choice lineup to Missouri in the win last round. Of the Fire’s most common starters, only Bastian Schweinsteiger, David Accam, Nemanja Nikolic and Joao Meira sat out.

This time around Accam and McCarty will be out with their national teams. Nikolic did travel this time around.

The two teams met in the preseason, with the Fire winning 3-2 back on Feb. 22.

Cincinnati features a pair of former Fire players in Austin Berry (2012 MLS Rookie of the Year) and Corben Bone. Cincinnati is 5-5-5 in the USL this season, but as coach Alan Koch said after the team beat Columbus, “The beauty of cup soccer is anything can happen in one game.”

Cubs will make statement with trip to Donald Trump's White House

Cubs will make statement with trip to Donald Trump's White House

WASHINGTON — Within a matter of days last November, the Cubs won a staggering World Series for the first time in 108 years and Donald Trump won a scathing election to become the 45th president.

Those two surreal worlds will collide again on Wednesday when a group of Cubs get a private White House tour that can be interpreted as a political statement, something larger than this four-game series against the Washington Nationals.

This comes less than six months after the Cubs enjoyed an East Room ceremony that became the final official event at Barack Obama’s White House, at a polarizing time when speculation centered on whether or not the Golden State Warriors would skip the traditional photo op with Trump, not wanting to make an implicit endorsement after winning another NBA title.

“You’d have to talk to the Warriors,” manager Joe Maddon said Tuesday. “To go tomorrow is out of respect to the Ricketts family and to the office and the building itself. Listen, I like the United States a lot. I like living here a lot. And I like everything that it represents a lot.

“So when you get a chance as a citizen to get to go to the White House, you go. I think you go. Whether you like the person that’s running the country or not — out of respect to the office itself — you go.

“I don’t agree with all the other banter that’s going on right now, because I have a different perspective.”

Chairman Tom Ricketts and his brother, Todd, a board member who withdrew his nomination to become Trump’s deputy commerce secretary, brought the World Series trophy to Capitol Hill on Tuesday and did a meet and greet with Illinois Congressional staffers at the Russell Senate Office Building.

Within the Ricketts family/Cubs board of directors, Pete is Nebraska’s Republican governor and Laura was a superdelegate and a major fundraiser for Hillary Clinton. President of baseball operations Theo Epstein is also active in Democratic circles.

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Maddon also plans to attend a luncheon on Wednesday with young Republicans organized by Congressman Lou Barletta, an old buddy from growing up in Hazleton, Penn., and an early Trump endorser.

“It’s not as ceremonial as the last one was, going there as the World Series champions,” Maddon said. “It’s more based on the Ricketts family relationship and the crowd that’s going to the White House.

“The Ricketts family’s been tied in there really well ... so wherever Mr. Ricketts would like me to go, I’m going to do (it). Mr. Ricketts and the Ricketts family has been good to all of us, so part of that is that.

“The other part is whenever you have a chance to go to the White House, I think it’s easy to say yes out of respect to the office and the building itself.”

Maddon didn’t know if meeting Trump would be on the itinerary and said he understood if some players passed on the invite.

“I don’t have any rules to begin with,” Maddon said. “I just want you to run hard to first base. As long as you run hard to first base, they can make up their own mind whether they want to go to the White House or not.

“Furthermore, not having to wear a suit, I think, is the best part of this whole trip, because, to me, to have to dress a certain way to impress somebody, my God, nobody would ever fail. So I’m all about all of the circumstances right now.”

Maddon didn’t sound at all concerned about the optics of visiting the White House at a time of travel bans, sub-40 percent approval ratings and investigations into the Trump campaign’s connections to Russia, or meeting with a president who compared Chicago to Afghanistan.

“I like living here a lot,” Maddon said. “I like this country a lot. And I would much prefer living here than some of the other places that adopt different methods of government.

“I think sometimes that gets confused when people want to take a stand and not really realizing actually what we have, which is a lot better than most every place else.”