Te'o's silence only leads to more questions

Te'o's silence only leads to more questions

Manti Te'o's silence on the subject of Lennay Kekua has only led to more digging and speculation -- and that's not a good thing for the ex-Notre Dame linebacker.

Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick explained Wednesday that Te'o found out Kekua didn't die and was a hoax on Dec. 6. But Awful Announcing turned up two instances of Te'o talking about his deceased girlfriend after Dec. 6, and the Associated Press also found another example.

An explanation of those remarks adds another question Te'o will have to answer at some point, less he risk losing more people on his side. Among the others: What was his relationship with Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the man Deadspin pegged as being behind Kekua? Why did the Te'o family say the couple had met in person when, in fact, that was not true? What, exactly, were the specifics of Te'o's relationship with Kekua, called into question by an anonymous teammate?

Swarbrick was under the impression Te'o would speak on the matter as soon as Thursday, and earlier in the day it was reported ESPN's Jeremy Schapp had been tabbed to talk to the linebacker Thursday night. But those plans were scuttled at some point, and silence continues to persist from the Te'o camp.

But Tuiasosopo may be the key to this story. If he indeed was the mastermind behind Kekua, was he playing Te'o or did the pair execute the hoax together? Tuiasosopo and Te'o appeared to have some sort of relationship, per the initial Deadspin report and a few previous interactions on Twitter and Facebook.

CSNChicago.com's attempts to reach the Tuiasosopo family Thursday were unsuccessful, as has been the case for every other media outlet. Titus Tuiasosopo, Ronaiah's father, posted a message to his Facebook page early Thursday morning, however:

"I know so much has been splattered all over the media about my son & my family," the post read. "I also know that many who were born in a manger in Bethlehem & continue to walk on water will undoubtedly express their opinions. Those of you who know us the best still love us the most. It my hope & prayer that we allow the truth to take its course, wherever that may lead. My heart goes out to Manti & the Te'o Aiga. Please allow this young man to pursue his dream without judgement. He's an amazing role model for our youth and Samoan community."

In the comments, Lia Manu Tuiasosopo -- identified as a daughter of Titus and sister of Ronaiah -- posted: "manti doesn't deserve all the negativity. he deserves to succeed."

For right now, that's all we have from the Tuiasosopo camp. Te'o may ultimately speak -- the Associated Press reported that won't happen Thursday -- and when he does, he may provide answers to those previously-mentioned questions that appear to absolve him of any involvement.

But even if Te'o were involved, he almost certainly wouldn't admit it now -- not after releasing a statement Wednesday detailing how he was the victim of a "cruel hoax." If there's one lesson to be learned from this saga, it's to not blindly take someone at their word.

Still, Te'o could provide some clarity with reasonable answers to a list of pressing questions that's growing by the hour. If the Tuiasosopo family breaks its silence, we'll likely get more clarity.

For now, Te'o can help his case by speaking publicly. Perhaps he and his representatives are taking their time to get an airtight story straight. Even if that's the case, the speculation will continue to persist, and it won't all be favorable to Te'o.

Cubs not worrying about a thing after split with Marlins: 'We're right there'

Cubs not worrying about a thing after split with Marlins: 'We're right there'

MIAMI – Jon Jay walked into a quiet clubhouse late Sunday morning, turned right and headed directly toward the sound system in one corner of the room, plugging his phone into the sound system and playing Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds.”

The Cubs outfielder whistled as he changed into his work clothes at Marlins Park, singing along to the lyrics with Anthony Rizzo a few lockers over: “Don’t worry, about a thing, ‘cause every little thing gonna be all right.” 

That’s what the Cubs keep telling themselves, because most of them have World Series rings and the National League Central is such a bad division.

“The biggest thing is to keep the floaties on until we get this thing right,” manager Joe Maddon said before a 4-2 loss left the Cubs treading water again at 38-37. “We’re solvent. We’re right there. We’re right next to first place.”

The Cubs will leave this tropical environment and jump into the deep end on Monday night for the start of a four-game showdown against the Washington Nationals in the nation’s capital.

Miami sunk the Cubs in the first inning when Addison Russell made a costly error on the routine groundball Miami leadoff guy Ichiro Suzuki chopped to shortstop, a mistake that helped create three unearned runs. Martin Prado drilled Mike Montgomery’s first-pitch fastball off the left-center field wall for a two-out double and a 3-0 lead. Montgomery (1-4, 2.03 ERA) lasted six innings and retired the last 10 batters he faced.

“Keep The Floaties On” sounds like an idea for Maddon’s next T-shirt. The 2017 Cubs haven’t been more than four games over .500 or two games under .500 at any point this season. The 2016 Cubs didn’t lose their 37th game until July 19 and spent 180 days in first place.

“That’s what was so special about it,” Rizzo said. “We boat-raced from Game 1 to Game 7 with a couple bumps in the road, but this is baseball. It’s not going to be all smooth-sailing every day. You got to work through things.”

As MLB addresses long game times, why Mark Buehrle’s zippy pace is worth highlighting

As MLB addresses long game times, why Mark Buehrle’s zippy pace is worth highlighting

Sometime in the future, near or far, Major League Baseball will probably begin using a pitch clock to penalize sluggish hitters and pitchers.

The sport without a clock will, someday, have a clock. ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian offered that as one of his predictions for what baseball could look like 20 years from now, which would be one of Rob Manfred’s signature reforms as commissioner. 

This kind of change wouldn’t be necessary, though, if more pitchers were like Mark Buehrle. 

“Buehrle was hyper,” pitching coach Don Cooper said. “He wanted to go, go, go.”

No pitcher since 2007 — when Pitch F/X began calculating “pace” — worked faster than Buehrle, who averaged 16.7 seconds between pitches. Only 56 qualified pitchers since 2007 can be considered to work “fast,” i.e. with an average time between pitches of 20 seconds or fewer (it’s a list that includes fellow former White Sox left-handers John Danks and Chris Sale). And that’s only 12 percent of the 473 qualified pitchers in the last decade.

Buehrle’s 99-minute complete game against the Seattle Mariners in 2005 still is the only nine-inning contest to be completed in fewer than 100 minutes since 1984. There was that memorable 1:53 duel with Mark Mulder and the Oakland A’s in 2003, and both Buehrle’s perfect game and no hitter lasted 2:03. 

Of course, Buehrle didn’t just work quick, he pitched well while zipping through innings. Buehrle finished his career with a 3.81 ERA, made four All-Star teams and threw at least 200 innings every year from 2001-2014. He had a .572 career winning percentage, too, so Cooper knew about Buehrle would give the White Sox a chance to win in about six out of every 10 starts.

“But you also know it’s going to be about two hours and 10 minutes, too,” Cooper added. 

A given game’s length isn’t all about the pace of the pitcher, of course. Batters can slow things down by stepping out of the box and calling for time, and games can feel like a slog with replay delays and mid-inning pitching changes. 

Still, how quickly a pitcher works usually dictates the pace of a game and how long it takes to be completed. Cooper wondered why hitters didn’t step out more against Buehrle to disrupt his rhythm, but perhaps the answer is that everyone on the field gets caught up in the quick pace set by the pitcher. 

“Everybody tells me they were so happy when I pitched for a quick game, but every time I was on the bench in between my starts, it was a 3, 3 1/2 hour game and it wasn't very much fun,” Buehrle said. “I think some of these games do get too long. Pitchers take their time, hitters get out of the box. I don't get all that but that's just the way I worked. I just grabbed the ball and went.”

Maybe adding a pitch clock with penalties affecting the count will force pitchers and hitters to find a quicker rhythm. That was one of the hallmarks of Buehrle’s career, and those snappy starts are one of the reasons why No. 56 was such a popular player on 35th and Shields. 

Former manager Ozzie Guillen, in summing up Buehrle's mentality, also offered some free advice for fixing baseball's pace-of-play problem: “Just throw the ball, get people out and have fun.”